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Cost of Freedom

Chapter Text

Icy wind slashes at Kaito’s face, rain dancing on his head, but he doesn’t notice. Goosebumps spread down his arms, but he’s far more interested in the whimper of the man beside him - one of his new, fellow prisoners.

“Oh God,” the other man sobs. It belongs to another prisoner, with the number 035823 on the prison overalls he’s been supplied with, “I don’t belong here. I don’t, I really don’t.”

Water drips from Kaito’s nose as he glances across to the blonde haired man. He’s got short stubby legs, and a pudgy structure and Kaito decides that he’s not going to last long, not before the man breaks down completely.

Kaito shivers against the cold, “Dude. Shut up.”

“You don’t get it, I’m innocent, I don’t belong here!”

Kaito scowls as they are led out of the van they’ve been transported in. During the ride here, there have been seven potential opportunities to escape, except, without any of his usual tools, only one had been realistically possible. And even then, with the guards that had been stationed on each side of him on the bus, trying would have been pushing his luck.

Lady luck hasn’t really been on his side recently.

Mud squelches beneath Kaito’s shoes as he shuffles forwards. His movement is staggered by the shackles around his wrists and ankles. It’s useless to claim innocence at this point, he thinks. Kicking at the ground, he glances at the prison that’s going to be his new home for the unforeseeable future.

Mud splatters against one of his guard’s trouser legs, and Kaito has to suppress a laugh as the crying man behind him balks, wide eyed and terrified.

“Sure.” Kaito rolls his eyes, “and I’m the Emperor Akihito.”

As they continue further into the prison, Kaito surveys the security of the outside. The gates are high - his guess is that they’re at least three meters of reinforced steel - topped with barbed wire. Considering the guard stations nearby and the flickering of flashlights from inside, it’s probably too high to climb.

The man beside him continues to sob, and Kaito snickers as the guy stumbles over a rock. It’s not that he’s intentionally being cruel, but Kaito can only take so much broken pride before it starts to get old, and he’s already at his limit.

“You… you may be a c-criminal,” the guy says, “but… b-but I’m not.”

Kaito sends one the guards a look that practically begs for help in making the guy shut up. Without any help, however, he’s left to assess the walls dwarfing the gate, estimating the width of the walkways used by patrolling guards.

He wonders what type of guns they use to shoot down anyone who tries to run.

He reckons it’ll be a rifle, like the one’s the guards who’ve brought them in are carrying. The sight of it makes him miss his own gun, although these don’t hold cards.

“Dude,” Kaito turns to him with his best poker face, and tries to keep the exasperation from his tone. “Just own up to it. Stop it with the wounded puppy look, you’re like… at least thirty two. That’s way beyond sympathy level - now it’s just sad.”

He can feel the anger ooze off the other man, rolling from every pore like sweat. It is sudden, and it weighs the other man down more than the handcuffs ever could.

“Who do you think you are, huh?” He growls. “You think you’re better than me?”

Kaito gives the man a grin. “As a criminal, I think I might in fact, outshine you, sure. I mean, how many people can actually claim to be Kaitou KID?”

Before he’d set foot into the van, Kaito had decided that he was going to be secretive about his identity as a phantom theif. After all, doesn’t it make sense for KID to remain a phantom?

After a few minutes in the van with guards chiding him for being caught in the first place however, Kaito had thrown that idea away. Why should he bother to keep his identity secret? It’s been plastered over every news station, and he’s lost the part of Kuroba Kaito that was so precious to him.

Watching Aoko’s expression as they led him away had been heartbreaking.

Kaito’s decided he just wants to be KID from now on. No Kuroba-kun, just KID - if that’s who they’re locking up, then that’s who he’s going to be.

“Sure,” the man says, and this time it is his voice that breeds sarcasm. “And I’m the Queen of England.”

Kaito spares him another glance, “the queen has a lot more pride than you do.”


Kaito isn’t quite so sure why Lady luck is being so cruel towards him.

The blonde, sobbing man ends up as his cell mate. He’s called Himura Ryu, and even after he’s finally stopped sniffling, having been warned to shut up or deal with the consequences by their new warden, he’s still annoying.

He’s got the kind of voice that grates, prickling at his skin in a way that makes Kaito’s skin crawl. Himura takes the bottom bunk without asking - which isn’t that bad because Kaito likes being up in high places, but it would’ve been nice to be asked - and immediately starts snoring obnoxiously loud.

If only Kaito had some of his tricks - he’d have pranked Himura way worse than he ever did to Hakuba.

He’ll just have to find other ways to mess with him.


He starts by getting Himura in trouble with the guards.

As KID, he’s taught himself to mimic voices, and so whenever he can, he’ll imitate Himura’s voice, throwing him under the proverbial bus and spouting stupid comments that only increase his agitation.

Kaito knows it’s not necessarily mature, but within a week he’s already bored.

He misses being able to do something, and there’s nothing here to do but read and listen the radio in the background. He doesn’t have any paper or a pencil, so it’s not like he can even write down the various inventions for heists he will never attend, so messing with people is the best thing he can do.

About two weeks into his sentence, Himura tells him to shut up. It’s not the usual irritation, but curiosity, and his own boredom causes Kaito to sit back against his wall and listen out for whatever Himura has overheard.

“-Finally out of solitary-”

“-That’s the third time this month, surely they should just keep him there-”

This, at least, is interesting. Kaito hasn’t heard much about solitary that much, and information is always more interesting than bugging Himura, so it’s the better option, really. Raising his voice, he calls out, asking who’s just gotten out of solitary confinement, asking why they were in their in the first place?“

The voices cut off. Then Kaito hears the laughter of his fellow prisoners, all of them mocking his question, as if was a stupid thing to ask about in the first place. One of the guards bangs against the wall, ordering them to shut up because it’s lights out, but when they all start laughing, there’s very little that a single guard can do to get everyone to shut up.

"Oh, you’ll meet him soon enough,” one of the prisoners croons, “he’s gonna love talking to Kaitou Kid.”

Well… That’s certainly… ominous.

Kaito doesn’t know how to respond, so he doesn’t. Instead, he lies back down against his bunk, staring up at the wall and the spider’s web that remains in the corner. He hasn’t seen the spider since the first time he’s spotted it, which would be terrifying if he had arachnophobia rather than ichthyophobia, but instead is vaguely reassuring.

The spider’s absence reminds him that things can escape from this prison.
Every time he looks up at the empty web, he imagines his cell door open, his cape fluttering behind him as he escapes to freedom.

The police have his KID suit now. He wonders how long they’re going to keep it in custody for. He wonders if they’ll keep it as a trophy, of sorts, to prove to people that Division 2 has finally come out on top against the man who’s been toying with them for years.

Kaito wonders, briefly, whether Nakamori-kiebu is satisfied with his job, or whether he’s as broken as Aoko looked when he was taken.

“Oh…” Himura says from the bottom bunk, “maybe it’s not so nice to be well known in here.”

Maybe not, Kaito thinks.


The only thing that’s bearable about this place, is the fact that Kaito gets an hour outdoors each day. For the first few days, they reinforced his captivity, only letting him walk around in an ‘exercise room’, but now, they’ve relaxed slightly.

The hour time outdoors gives him time to get a good idea of the prison grounds. He estimates the amount of time he’d need to scale the wall without equipment, he analyses the rocks at various points of the prison yard to see which side has the softest rocks, which side would be easier to burrow out of.

His hour is never enough. Kaito thrives off of fresh air, and while he knows he’s not free, he enjoys feeling the wind on his neck, the air alive and dancing, not stale and dead like it is inside his cell. He’s not sure how he will deal with being unable to go outside during the winter months, when the rain is too much and the ice too cold to let them outside.

“What’re you looking at huh?”

Roughly three weeks in to his imprisonment, after a new batch of prisoners have arrived, the first fight happens. One of the new prisoners, Yoshida something, (Kaito doesn’t care enough to ask), likes to mouth off, and seems to have personal vendetta against Kaitou 1412.

Kaito isn’t sure what his problem is, but then again, he’s not particularly bothered enough to find out.

“Rocks,” he responds, “geological structures.”

It’s enough to avoid being called rude, although his voice is curt enough to warn Yoshida away, to emphasise that he does not want to talk.

“I bet it’s a boring substitute compared to the jewels that you always used to steal away.”

Everything is a boring compared to his heists

Kaito shrugs, dropping the pebble he’s been brushing mud off of back onto the ground. It’s small, a dull black - tiny traces of onyx are inside, he thinks, but now isn’t the time to focus on the specifics.

Kaito hums his agreement, turning to face Yoshida. He’s tall, more brute than human - more muscle than fat. Kaito, who’s always had more of a lean, athletic build, is not sure how to respond.

He hides behind his poker face, and raises an eyebrow.

“It’s funny though,” Yoshida continues. His nostrils flare, and Kaito thinks that he is not unlike a rhino preparing to charge, “how you thought you were entitled to what you don’t own.”

Ah, Kaito thinks, he does seem like he’s from a rich family.

It doesn’t take him long to assume that the other criminal has been victim to one of Kaito’s own heists. He’s searching his mind for any heists involving the Yoshida family, or something related to him, when the other man throws the first punch.

Years of acrobatics and dodging traps set for KID are the only reason Kaito manages to move in time. He avoids the punch, dancing on his toes as he jumps backwards. It’s not the same without his cape and monocle, but for a moment he almost feels like he’s on a heist again.

“You stole my family’s diamond,” Yoshida growls, throws a second punch. Kaito jumps backwards, foot tripping backwards against a loose rock. He trips, curses his non-existent luck, and lands against the ground with a thump. “And then you made us all look bad.”

Kaito balls his hands into fists, wonders if he should fight back, before telling himself no. He’s never been the fighting type, has always been an escape artist at heart. Fighting is too hands on, and he’s always enjoyed having the upper hand.

If he tries to fight back… well, Kaito knows he’s not going to win.

Still, he’s never been good at helping himself, “it’s not my fault if your security was bad.”

Yoshida reaches for his collar, lifts him up. Kaito, kicking out, lifts his hands up to his face to shield his eyes. The third punch clips his ear as Kaito squirms.

The fourth hits him in the jaw, rattling his teeth, making him bite down into his tongue.

The pain isn’t too bad, considering he’s been shot before, but it certainly isn’t a welcome feeling.

“Oi, cut it out.”

The voice is one that Kaito has heard before, although he’s not exactly sure where. A fifth punch hits him in the shoulder as he tries to jerk backwards, forcing Kaito to let out a hiss.

“I said, cut it out.”

Yoshida stills, drops Kaito down to the ground before turning slightly to look over at their new visitor. Wiping blood away, Kaito shuffles backwards, wincing.

“What do you get out of telling me what to do?” Yoshida growls, getting back up to his feet. “Kicking me too… who do you think you are?”

Kaito isn’t sure what happens afterwards, the pain muffles most of the sound, although he can hear several other prisoners shouting warnings to watch out before someone ends up in the infirmary again.

Shit, Kaito thinks, someone’s going to be beaten to a pulp because of him, simply because they’d wanted to help.

More shouting, and then with widened eyes Kaito watches as Yoshida drops to the ground, hands covering his face. He jerks slightly, letting out a sound like that of a wild animal, leaving Kaito to look up at his saviour. The saviour who’s wiping his hands against his overalls, taking a few steps up to him.

Kaito has seen this guy before.

In newspapers, across various different news channels - he’s the same age as Kaito, but there is an innate difference between them that makes the other seem more adult, more dangerous. He’s not sure whether to thank the guy, or try to rush away.

“You okay?” Kudo Shinichi asks, coming to a stop in front of him.

Kaito remembers the scandal, the headlines, the case that heralded every news station in japan for the weeks leading up Kudo’s trial.

Teen detective lacks cases, so creates own.

The papers had told him everything he’d needed to know. Six people had been killed - the only link had been that victims had been residents in Tokyo, Kudo’s 'signature’ left behind at every scene, or so the newspapers had declared.

Kaito’s classmate, Hakuba Saguru, had mentioned that each victim had been a criminal. There had been no links with age, appearance or gender - the only lead the police had been able to pursue was that each victim had been brought into the police station to be interviewed for various different crimes.

It had lead to an internal investigation of the police, until the evidence had lead investigators to Kudo, the sixteen-year-old who’d been working the case with them.

His trial had been met with protest, so much controversy. People wouldn’t believe he’d murdered people so violently. But the evidence had held in court, and eventually the public who’d been following the case from day one, had been forced to admit they’d been manipulated by the young detective.

Kaito doesn’t exactly know how to respond.

“Oi, Oi,” Kudo’s voice makes him snap out of the daze he’s fallen into, “get back to earth.”

Kaito looks up, winces at the pain in his jaw. He’s tries to ignore the dread filling in his stomach - how else is he supposed to respond to a murderer? - and forces himself to nod.

He says, “I’m okay.”

Kudo kneels in front of him, hand grabbing Kaito’s chin in a way that’s not quite violent, but not exactly soft either. He pushes Kaito’s chin up, squints, before pushing back.

“You’re going to bruise,” Kudo says, offering his hand, “but at least you’re in one piece.”

Hesitating, he takes Kudo’s hand, pulling himself up.

“I guess…”

“Well,” Kudo takes a step, apparently he can read the tension in Kaito’s posture, and he seems to cut whatever conversation they could have possibly started short, “I won’t save you next time, so don’t get into trouble.”


It is not until later, when he’s leaning back in his cell, that Himura pipes up. 

He says, “don’t fool yourself into thinking that Kudo guy will have your back around here. The other inmates say that he’s gone completely insane.”

Kaito leans back against his bunk, and he thinks on it.

“Don’t worry, I know. I’ll stay away." 


In the end, he doesn’t really have a choice in the matter.

Himura loses his temper one evening after Kaito mimics his voice again, and the thief keeps pushing and pushing until eventually the guards have to open the cell doors to shut them both up. At least this time Kaito keeps his balance, because he’s not sure how far Himura will go now that his anger has snapped.

It’s all down to plan though, Kaito thinks, as he’s pulled outside of the room. In their haste to open the cell door, the security hasn’t been properly adjusted for inmates to be outside their rooms. So as soon as he’s outside, Kaito stomps on the foot of the guard holding him, pivoting to face him as he lets out a cry.

He strikes the guard’s solar plexus, and then, before anyone can react, he races down to the end of the corridor.

Kaito’s cell is on the second floor, but looking over the edge of the railings, he’s pretty sure that he can get down without using the staircase. He climbs over the railing, dropping down, hanging from the edge before dropping himself onto the floor below.

The second he hits the ground, he drops into a roll. Then, he’s on his feet, racing towards the door that’s been left slightly ajar. Shabby policing, Kaito thinks, as he snickers to himself.

He reaches the door seconds before the guards that are chasing after him do.

But he never exits it.

Instead, he hears the loud hiss of something behind him.

Oh shit,“ Kaito mutters as he realises what it is.

The feeling of barbs embedding in his clothing stings, scraping the skin of his back. Electric pulses his synapses, his skin, his body, jerking his muscles as he realises that oh God, he’s being electrocuted.

It hurts.

He’s being tased, and it hurts.

His muscles are still jerking from the aftermath of the shock when the guards grab him under his arms, pulling him up. One is swearing, and he thumps Kaito over the back of the head, growling about how he’s going to get him back for winding him seconds before.

Kaito wants to say that he’s already gotten him back, seeing as they fucking tased him, but the most that comes out of his mouth is moan.

Heists used to be so much more fun than this.

"I have an idea…” Another guard says, voice overtly cheerful. “Let’s throw him into cell 409.”

Kaito has no idea what cell 409 means, but he’s certain he’s not going to like it very much. Not with how the guards keep sniggering behind him.

They carry him up three staircases - ah… fourth floor, now he gets it - and drags him to the cell at the end of the block.

“Oi, I got you a new roommate, you’ll play nice now, won’t you?”

They throw Kaito inside, leaving him to slump against the wall as they lock the cell behind him. His sight is bleary, and Kaito is pretty sure he’s bleeding where they’ve ripped the barbs from his skin. Rubbing at his eyes, he slowly slides down to the ground, letting out another groan.

When he finally rubs the pain from his eyes, awareness returning, he looks up meeting the widened, vivid gaze of his new roommate.

“I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t quite expecting this,” says Kudo Shinichi.

Chapter Text

“I’ve got to admit,” Kudo says, “I wasn’t quite expecting this.”

Still in pain from the taser, Kaito doesn’t respond with anything other than a wince. He’s pretty sure that he’s going to be fine, but he still feels like he might throw up. And his ears are ringing, which, all things considered, probably isn’t a good thing.

He lets out a groan, runs a hand through his hair.

“You’re not very good at keeping out of trouble, are you?” Kudo continues. His tone, while seemingly exasperated, is coupled with a small smirk. He’s amused by this - by the fact that Kaito’s struggling with the aftermath of being tased. “You’ll feel better if you take deep breathes.”

Kaito tries to breathe. It’s not too difficult, really, to regulate his breathing and calm himself down, but it does take time until he starts to feel moderately human again. He wonders how Kudo knows how to deal with being tased? Has he himself felt it, or has he seen the result after a particular case?

“Thanks…” Kaito says after a while, leaning backwards to stare up at the ex-detective. If he looks closely, he can see scarring beneath Kudo’s lip, one white scar reaching down the side of his jaw. It’s faint - he’d not seen it before when they’d met, but now it’s prominent and Kaito has to consciously tell himself not to stare.

He wonders how he got it.

“For a phantom thief, you’re not very good at planning your escape though, are you?” Kudo says after a while. He’s sat on the bottom bunk, leaning back against the wall. His arms are crossed, his legs spread out in front of him.

“I was almost out,” Kaito protests.

“Almost isn’t quite free though, is it?” Kudo says, raising an eyebrow. He rolls his eyes, turning to stare at the wall, rather than at the thief himself. “I mean, you can pretend all you want, but in the end you’ve just made things harder on yourself.”

Kaito doesn’t have a plausible explanation for that. He’s known from the moment the handcuffs were placed around his wrists that he was going to be treated as a flight risk - now that he’s actually tried to flee though, he’s going to be flagged as an even higher threat to security.

Admittedly, it wasn’t his best idea.

“I’m surprised they didn’t throw me in solitary confinement or something.” Kaito breathes, standing on shaky legs to glance outside the cell bars. Even on his toes, it’s difficult to see over the railings. “At least I got off fairly lightly.”

Kudo purses his lips. He says, “I imagine they think assigning you to a new cell is punishment enough.”

Looking over his shoulder, Kaito tries for a smile. It’s not quite KID-good, but he’s pretty sure he could fool people into believing he’s unaffected by his conversation with the ex-detective. He says, “I get the top bunk, right? So it doesn’t seem like much of a punishment.”

Kudo doesn’t respond. Instead, he lays back against his bunk, scoops one arm beneath his pillow and curls into a ball, ending the conversation without some much as a second thought. As Kaito climbs his way up to his own bunk, he can hear faint mutterings from the bottom bunk.

He’s not sure what to feel about that.

“I don’t get it,” Kudo says after a moment, “the guards all change over at this time. Why would you try to escape during the busiest twenty minutes of the day?”

Kaito isn’t completely sure.

“You can’t be both reckless and free in here,” Kudo mumbles as Kaito closes his eyes. “You need to choose one and stick with it.”


Kaito has never needed much sleep - it’s a side effect of stealing under the moonlight while still being a high school student - so he’s kind of surprised when he jumps down from his bunk to stretch his legs and finds Kudo reading a book.

“Oh,” Kaito says when the other man looks up. “You’re already awake?”

Kudo yawns, placing his book down onto his bunk. He looks different today, it’s less easy to read him - yesterday he’d been a book written purely in Hiragana, today he’s kanji.

“I wanted to finish my book before the library cart comes around,” Kudo says, shrugging. “so I’ve been reading since the shouting woke me up.”

“Shouting?” Kaito asks. He’s a fairly light sleeper, so he’s kind of surprised he slept through it, especially if it’s loud enough to wake other up. stretching out his arms, he spares a glance outside his cell. Sunshine is starting to peek through the windows, but overall, the grey walls make the place seem lifeless.

“It’s Saturday today,” Kudo says, re-opening his book. It’s a dog-eared copy of a Edogawa Rampo book, pages yellowed and curling in on themselves. “It’s visiting day. Naturally, people are excited.”

Kaito has obviously missed that memo.

But that makes him stop - will he get any visitors? Or will he go into the visiting room, sit down and wait for people who don’t want to see him. He wonders if his mother will come, or if it’s too much of a risk for the Phantom Lady to set foot near any prisons. It would have been nice to have known in advance.

Kaito runs a hand through his hair - Will Aoko visit him? Will Inspector Nakamori? It’s stressing him out because he didn’t even know, and now he’s nervous.

“…You didn’t know about the visits.” It’s not a question.

Pivoting on his foot, Kaito jumps back up to his bunk, burying his head into his pillow. He says, “I did not.”

Kudo clicks his tongue. He says, “then you’re not going to even go to the meeting rooms. People don’t just show up to visit, you have to send them a visiting order first.”

Lifting his head from his pillow, and leaning over the edge to face the ex-detective, Kaito sends him a smile. Worry dissolves into his stomach, leaving a faint relief behind. There’s also lingering disappointment bleeding out of him. It’s been over a month since his trial, and he really misses… he feels like he’s trapped in a bird cage, and if there’s anything KID wasn’t ever meant to be, it is trapped.

“How about you Kudo-san,” Kaito asks, the name sounding wrong from his lips. Maybe if they’d met in the past, he’d have called him detective, but he doesn’t now. The label won’t fit. “Are you expecting any visitors?”

“I try not to.” Kudo sighs, turning his page, “there’s someone who shows no matter how much I tell her not to though, so… who knows?”


It turns out that Kudo does have a visitor. The guards open the cell, give Kaito a glare, before dragging the ex-detective out of the cell with fingers digging into his shoulder. Whether it’s painful or not is a question Kaito can’t answer - the moment the guards opened the lock, Kudo’s face switches from faintly amused to a cold glare.

Kaito isn’t sure which expression is the real face of Kudo Shinichi, even with his experience of masks and poker faces.

“You as well,” the guard says, beckoning him outside. Kaito hesitates, but jumps down from his bunk when he receives another barked order, “you’ve got a visitor.”

“I didn’t send out any visiting orders-” Kaito says, when one of the guard puts a cuff over his wrist, warning him that they’ll shoot him with the taser if he so much as blinks without permission.

“Idiot,” Kudo says, flippant now. “It means you’ve got a legal guest. Maybe a lawyer, maybe a police officer or something. Do you seriously not know anything about how this place works?”

For a moment, Kaito bites down on a sarcastic response. He swallows it instead, wary at the sudden stony-like glare and gritted teeth that are sent his way. What exactly has he done wrong?

“I’ve not exactly been here long,” Kaito says instead, “I’m just getting the hang of it, Kudo.”

The other prisoner hums, the sound low in his throat. It sounds almost like a growl, animalistic in a way that shakes Kaito to the core.

As they start making their way down the corridor however, Kudo turns his head so that he can see Kaito faintly, sends him a quick smirk and winks. He mouths, “it’ll be a detective.”


After all of the movies he’s seen depicting various different prison visits, Kaito can calmly say that he feels extremely underwhelmed. There is no room with one way mirrors leading into a room that’s secretly filming him. Instead, he is led into a room large enough to hold twenty small tables, chairs on either side of them.

He’s not handcuffed to the table he’s assigned either, which frankly, is a little offensive because Kaito is certain there’s an easy way out. There’s a vent at the end of the room, in the corner, and if he could just unscrew the grate Kaito would be out within seconds.

The difficult part would be unscrewing the vent - it’d be impossible without any tools, and even then he’d need to factor in the guards and what lies on the other side of the vents.

“Okay…” Kaito mumbles to himself. For a brief moment, he wonders whether he’d be able to steal any of the cutlery from the prison’s kitchen, if he volunteers to help make meals. He’s not sure though… if it turns out that each item is counted daily then he’d rather not add extra work to his schedule.

Plus he’d also have to find a way around the checks each guard conducts before entering the room.

He’s so focused on a potential escape route, that he doesn’t notice his visitor sit opposite him, sitting straight in his chair. He doesn’t pay attention until the polite clearing of the other’s throat, at which he turns his head, tongue clicking in irritation.

“What’re you doing here, Hakuba?”

Hakuba is a lot of things. He’s antisocial in an accidental way - the type who, in his attempt to fit in, only manages to ostracise himself further. He’s dilligent, smart enough to see through Kaito’s various heists, and his own identity. He’s the one who eventually shackled him with handcuffs, the one who eventually handed him over to Inspector Nakamori to arrest.

Yes, Hakuba Saguru is a lot of things, but Kaito is pretty sure that he’s not the type to gloat.

Meaning there must be a reason for the detective’s visit.

“Kuroba,” Hakuba says, posture alert as his eyes flicker around the room, “looking for ways to escape, I presume?”

Kaito shrugs, “nervous that I’d manage it?”

“I caught you once,” Hakuba places his hands on the table. He doesn’t steeple his fingers, but Kaito thinks that he’s the kind of person who could without looking like a complete idiot, “I’m certain I could catch you again.”

His poker face can do a lot, Kaito thinks, but it cannot hide the twitch of his eye. He says, “that’s rather presumptuous.”

Hakuba’s smile is tight-lipped, and there is something behind his eyes that lurks, unspoken. Instead, he says, “you’re just out of practise. Apparently you tried to stage an escape yesterday.”

Leaning back in his chair, Kaito returns to looking around the room. He shrugs again, a self deprecating smile making it’s way onto his face. “I wasn’t quite expecting the tasers.”

A small smile. For Hakuba, it’s practically like he’s beaming, the sadist.

“I am here for a reason though,” the detective leans forward, “it’s regarding your later heists.”

“I’d assumed it was related to KID.”

“Yes, well, we’re still working through all the paper work even now,” Hakuba sighs. It’s hard to feel bad for him when Kaito’s the one in prison, even if he knows how tiring police paper work can be. “It’s about the heist where you attempted to steal the red admiral opal.”

Kaito remembers it well - it had been the only heist where he’d been seriously injured. Following a confrontation with Snake, he’d managed to leave the gemstone at the cost of a bullet wound. He’d been lucky Jii had been waiting outside the heist location.

And here he’d thought Hakuba hadn’t caught on to that. Someone must have heard the gunfire.

“Oh? That old butterfly stone?” Kaito waves the comment away, “why’d you want to bring that up? I’m pretty sure you were asleep for most of that one.”

“I heard the shooting that night,” Hakuba says, “and when you came  into school later that week, you weren’t exactly the epitome of health.”

Hand lingering around the scar from that particular heist, Kaito wonders how much Hakuba had actually known all along. Had he had the proof outside of each heist? Had he waited until he could actually corner him during one of KID’s shows?

“I… want to know more about the people shooting at you.” Hakuba sighs. His shoulders are tensed. “I’ve got some questions if you’ll answer them.”

Kaito stills. Ever since he first found out the truth of his father’s - the original KID - death, he’d decided to take down the organisation that did it. Not overtly, no, Kaito doesn’t think he could ever take down a criminal syndicate by himself, but he had planned on stealing pandora for himself.

A gem that cries tears of immortality - The premise is both intriguing and terrifying.

He’d promised himself he would destroy it, and Kaito… even if he’s been imprisoned, he know’s he’ll find a way to keep that promise.

“I’m not sure what I can tell you,” Kaito says, relaxing his shoulders. He taps his fingers against the table, repeating the same word in Morse code: pandora.

“There was no shooting at all.”

Hakuba purses his lips, frowning. “We can catch whoever did this-”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kaito waves the comment away, discarding it like shredded paper. Pandora is his to find, not Hakuba’s, not the police. It will never fall into the hands of Snake and his men.

Pandora is the only thing driving him.

Kaito will shatter it if it’s the last thing he ever does.

“I see,” Hakuba says, although it’s pretty sure from the slight tilt of his head, gold hair splayed over his forehead, that he doesn’t. “If that’s all, then I’ll make my leave.”

“I have a question,” Kaito says, as Hakuba moves to stand up, “before you go.”

The Brit’s eyebrow quirks.

“Aoko… how is she?”

Hakuba stands. Sighing, he tugs on the corner of his jacket, gaze shifting towards the doors. “I haven’t spoken to her much, she’s not exactly keen to talk to the person responsible for taking her best friend from her.”

Like a flower in bloom, Kaito tries not to wilt. He says, “she’s always been stubborn.”

“She has, however, expressed outrage at the fact she hasn’t had a single phone call from you.” Hakuba turns, pushes away from the table, “so maybe you could ask her yourself.”

Maybe he should.

As Hakuba leaves, and Kaito’s escorted back into the main prison though, he realises that he probably won’t.

Chapter Text

The next week flows in a disorganised harmony of confusion and unease.

Kaito tries not to toe the line too much, attempts to avoid attention and the staring eyes that follows it. His cell is on the top floor in C block, which he’s learnt is in the prison’s centre. From what he can make out during time in the prison yard, and from making his way to the west workshop during the afternoon, blocks A and B are either side of the gatehouse.

There are roughly six-hundred yards between his cell block to A-block. If he sprints it, he’s certain he can cross the yard in just under a minute and a half.

The issue is just where he goes from there - sneaking into the other cell block is just a lock down waiting to happen, but if he can manage to get inside the gatehouse…

He’d be one step closer to freedom.

The only problem is that he hasn’t got the tools to get out of his cell. He could try to antagonise Kudo like he had with his previous roommate, but something in his survival instincts are warning him that he really, really shouldn’t try that.

Not after finding out what happened to Yoshida. When Kaito sees him walking around the prison yard, he notices the patch over his eye and shivers. He doesn’t know how injured the man is - but if Kudo did that unprovoked then… 

Kaito shudders.

“What are you thinking about now?” Kudo asks from where he’s sat cross legged against the wall, another book in hand. It’s the sixth Kaito’s seen him with - the dude’s book obsessed, he swears.

Kicking his feet from where he is sitting on the edge of his bunk, Kaito shrugs.

He says, “that Yoshida guy… you did something to his eye?”

Looking up, Kudo closes his book. He looks faintly surprised, as if he hadn’t been expecting to be called out on the matter. He tilts his head. He says, “after I got him to stop hitting you, he decided to go for me. Going for his eyes was the quickest way to get him to stop.”

Kaito thinks back to the fight - it had only taken seconds before Yoshida had been on the ground, curling in on himself, covering his eyes. But… But still.

“I… Why’d you help in the first place? He wouldn’t have come after you…?”

Kudo’s fingers tap against his book, once, twice, each tap more violent than the last. After a moment, he sighs, “I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t stepped in, you’d have been in the infirmary for a long time.”

“What…?”

“Yoshida was immediately placed in Block C.” Kudo leans his head against the wall, looking up. “They only place high profile cases in here, the people who need to be under the most supervision. He’s not exactly high risk of escaping, with how heavy-footed he is, so he’s probably here for serious assault or murder.”

What does his crime have to do with this? Kaito thinks. He’s about to ask, when he notices the small smile on Kudo’s face. It’s the expression of someone who is content - he’s seen it before, on others who’ve come to a conclusion and are eager to share it.

“He’s quick to anger,” the ex-detective continues, “and he wouldn’t have held back, not with the way he was shouting, radiating all that anger. If I didn’t break it up, there was the likelihood that he’d have fought back against others.”

That… almost makes sense. Even if it does seem to be a pretty… drastic response.

“Plus, I’m pretty sure Yoshida wasn’t going to understand the dynamics of this place,” Kudo lets out a small laugh, “people should really learn their place in here.”

Kaito gulps.

“Their… place?” He mumbles, moving back on his bunk. For a moment, he wants to beg the guards to send him back to his old cell, understands why they think keeping him in this cell would be a problem - they’ve given him a room mate who is out of his mind.

Glancing up, Kudo stills. Rubbing at his temples he says, “that came out wrong. What I mean is that all prisoners are here to be punished, not to punish others.”

Does he not understand how hypocritical he sounds?

“And you’re… above Yoshida? You can punish others…”

Kudo smiles - when he meets Kaito’s gaze, his eyes are devoid of warmth. In his head, Kaito reminds himself of what he knows about the case: A detective who had punished other criminals by taking their lives, of course he feels like he can harm others, he probably thinks they deserve it.

“Didn’t you see how he went for me?” Kudo tilts his head again, “that was pure self defence.”

Kaito’s nervousness grows.


Both roommates tend to keep their distance outside of the cell, something that gives Kaito a temporary state of calm - a time to rest the poker face that he’s constantly wearing inside his cell. The only time, really, when they notice one another outside of their cells, is when all of C-block are ushered into the cafeteria during meal times.

Usually, Kaito tries to avoid Kudo during meal times. It’s not that difficult - most prisoners leave Kudo to his own devices, letting him eat in peace lest they end up in a situation of Kudo’s ‘self defence.’ They leave a gap between them and him on tables.

Some days, when Kaito glances over, Kudo is talking with one of the guards - always the same officer - expression shifted from calculating to something… kinder.

Two weeks into sharing a cell with one another, Kudo beckons Katio over during lunch. The thief hesitates, but is quickly shoved forwards by another prisoner telling him not to risk it. Which… doesn’t fill him with much confidence.

Still, he makes his way over to the table, tray in his hands.

“KID!” Shinichi says as Kaito places his tray down on the table, taking a seat opposite him. “I thought you might walk past me again.”

Now that he looks at him, Kaito can see purple marring the other man’s neck, bruises hidden beneath his overalls. It’s strange, how even after two weeks he’d been so unobservant as to not notice them - either Kudo hides them brilliantly, or Kaito is the worst cell mate ever.

“Kudo-kun,” Kaito says, and then he pauses, “…again?”

Kudo pauses, lowers his chopsticks, “…oh, if you didn’t notice then I guess it wasn’t on purpose. Don’t worry about it!”

Even if he tries not to, Kaito knows he will. Instead, he picks up his own chopsticks, mumbles a thanks for his food, before digging in.

“So, KID…” Kudo pipes up after a moment, “…have you had anymore… incidents since Yoshida?”

Around a small bite of mackerel, Kaito shakes his head. He feels almost calmer now, having something to do while the other man talks. Dinner conversation, he thinks, is always much more neutral compared to conversations within a cell.

“Nothing,” Kaito says, “people tend to leave me alone.”

Kudo smiles. Kaito thinks he prefers this smile over the previous ones he’s received - whereas the other was cold, this one has a warmth to it that reminds Kaito of autumn and fallen leaves rustling beneath his feet. It is not a smile he’s seen since setting foot inside the prison.

“I’m glad they’re leaving you alone,” the ex-detective says. 

“But they don’t leave you alone,?” Kaito asks, glancing around momentarily, before bringing his gaze back to Kudo’s bruises. They look like hand prints wrapped around his throat, but grow more splotchy as they reach under his clothes. “Do they?”

Taking a bite of his own food, Kudo shrugs his shoulders. He winces as he swallows and Kaito can’t help but feel like he should have noticed earlier.

“A fair amount of the people in here,” he says, “are here because of me. From when I was a detective. Sometimes they like to blame their imprisonment on me.”

It’s both illogical and logical, Kaito thinks. He does it too, sometimes he feels resentment welling in his stomach when he remembers how he’d still be free if Hakuba hadn’t thrown the shackles on him - sometimes he feels more like Hakuba is an enemy, and less like he is a rival.

“That’s not fair…” Kaito protests.

Kudo turns, looks over at the over prisoners that give him a wide berth, and sighs. He says, “it doesn’t really matter if it’s fair. It just… is.”


The following day, when Kudo beckons Kaito over during meal times, Kaito doesn’t hesitate.

He’s not sure what it is about the ex-detective, but there is something melancholic about him. He’s seen shifting emotions and he’s not exactly sure how he should respond to each reaction he receives. It is like Kudo is constantly weaving through different masks, like KID used to during his heists, and… Kaito doesn’t exactly understand why he’s shifting so much.

Kaito wonders, not for the first time, if Kudo is similar to him - so used to hiding the integral parts of himself that now it is difficult to let them simply exist.
“Did you know,” Kudo says, hands wrapped around a cup of tea, “that I once attended one of your heists?”

Kaito can feel the moment his eyes brighten, feels a small amount of glee in his stomach. “Oh really? I didn’t know.”

Kudo lets out a small laugh, sipping at his drink. He says, “you were trying to steal a clock tower. It was a pretty fun case.”

“Ah,” Kaito leans back, his chopsticks firmly against his plate. “I remember that being one of the hardest heists to pull off. Someone kept anticipating my every move.”

“What can I say,” Kudo grins, “I’m pretty good at solving crimes.”

He is also good at creating them, the unhelpful part of Kaito thinks, and while he tries to push the thought away, he can’t. It’s surprisingly easy to talk to Kudo, despite him having murdered people, but it is a lot more difficult to forget what he’s done.

Kaito is pretty sure there will always be a part of him that is on guard against the other prisoner.

“You’re quite the escape artist though,” Kudo continues, “you kept coming up with various different ways to get out, even as I started seeing through them all.”

“I wish it were as easy there, as it is in here.” Kaito breathes.

The sad thing is that it would be easy to escape from this prison, if he had all of his devices and tools. If he had access to the building plans, he’d be able to memorise the dimensions and come up with several escape routes. If he knew where guards patrolled and when, he’d be out of the prison without so much as being seen.

Without all of the information, his plans are incomplete.

He can only improvise.

“It is easy,” Kudo says, glancing around - his gaze lingers on the air vents and the window, all places Kaito has scouted before, “if you just look in the right places.”

Kaito pauses.

“If you talk to the right people,” Kudo gestures to the guard in the corner that Kaito has seen him conversing with regularly, “and if you know the layout of the prison well enough…”

“I suppose,” Kaito says, “but there’s a lot more than that, like unlocking doors, I don’t have anything…”

Raising an eyebrow, Kudo leans back, finishes the rest of his tea. He says, “once again, I really think you should look in the right places.”

Half of him wants to ask whether Kudo has planned his own escape, whether he’d be capable of actually following through with finding freedom. The other half of him wants to stay quiet out of fear of the answer.

“Anyway,” Kudo stands, brushes the creases from his overalls, “I’m heading off. See you in a while.”

“See you,” Kaito says.


Kudo lies.

They do not ‘see one another in a while’.

When Kaito returns to his cell, it is empty.

A week passes, and it remains vacant. A week passes, and Kudo remains gone.

His week ends the way it starts - uneasy and confused.

Chapter Text

Seven days pass without a word on Kudo.

Kaito tries to ask other prisoners of his whereabouts, but they refuse to talk, tell him that they’d much rather not deal with the consequences their rumours cause. He is not given any answers from staff either. Some guards laugh his question off, asking if he’s wondering how long his safety will last. Others shut him down and tell him that it’s none of his business.

Slowly, Kaito comes to the conclusion that Kudo is either dead, or has escaped.

He considers the possibility of the other being in the infirmary - maybe to check his throat and make sure there’s no lasting damage to his trachea - but Kudo’s not there when he checks. He glances around anyway, during his routine check up, BMI taken by the infirmary’s nurse, but the ex-detective isn’t there.

By day eight, Kaito finds himself hoping that Kudo has escaped.

He’s not sure how he’d respond if he found out that the other man was dead - not when he’d only been talking to him hours prior to his disappearance.

Unease transforms into anxiety, and Kaito finds himself staring at the walls of his cell more often than not. There’s only one way, really, for him to find out about Kudo’s status. He needs to escape.

If Kaito’s right, and Kudo has broken out of the prison, then the media will be covering it with such ferosity that the entirety of Japan will be on the lookout for him. All he has to do is break out and find the nearest news outlet, which - well, if Kaito takes Kudo’s advice and looks in all the right places…

Plus, on the outside he can get back to finding Pandora, performing his magic during his heists. He plans heist notes in his head, wonders whether Inspector Nakamori will continue to solve them if he sends them out, or whether the KID task force will be headed by someone without personal ties to the case.

Not for the first time, Kaito wonders whether he’s ruined Inspector Nakamori’s career. He doubts he’s been fired - but he’s almost certainly his capture has thrown a cog into the works, leading him able to progress on to a promotion in the future.

Either way, Kaito knows he needs to get out.

Kudo was right, he can’t be both reckless and free. So Kaito chooses freedom, and he plans.


His plans aren’t too complex, because sometimes, the simple plans are the most efficient.

Kaito needs to find something to break out of his cell.  The lock keeping him trapped is a deadlock - complex yet without an alarm - but with his experience opening  Samizu Kichiemon’s puzzles, Kaito thinks he can have it open within seconds.

This, he decides he can think about later. For now, he needs to find out about the patrol schedules and come up with an escape route. And then he needs to find something that he can wear over his overalls to avoid the colour being seen.

He said it before, people tend to over look what they are not expecting to see.

“Okay…” Kaito says, brows furrowed. “I can do this.”

By the end of the eighth day of Kudo’s disappearance, Kaito has the beginning of a plan. It is less like solving a puzzle, and more like creating a masterpiece. Anyone can solve a puzzle with enough time, but only the best can create with depth, and his escape will be art.

The ninth day includes adding the fine details. His hour outside is used with a determination filling his stomach as he judges which part of the yard he should run to be quickest. He makes a mental note of the entrance to the gatehouse, and the vent that is outside it.

He does’t mind exactly where it takes him - he knows that the gatehouse isn’t patrolled as much as each cell block, and even then, that’s only during the day when prisoners are being fed into the system, or lead into the visiting room. If he gets inside the gatehouse, he’ll simply have to improvise.

There’s no way to know the layout inside, so Kaito focuses on what he does know.

He returns to the nurse at her request, escorted by the guard Kaito has seen talking to Kudo many times, to receive his results from his tests. He’s fine, except for a blood sugar level that’s lower than it usually is - Kaito doesn’t explain that it’s probably just his body reacting to the lack of sugary content.

As she’s giving him a shot of glucagon, (“this should do the trick, but you’ll have to come back soon to make sure you’re back at the average levels”), Kaito notices the hair grips in her hair. It’s wouldn’t be so difficult to get a few, and… well…

His plan starts to come to life.


It is not until he is sat back in his cell, the evening approaching lights out, that Kaito curses himself for not questioning the guard for any information on routine patrols. Hiding the hair grips he’s managed to take beneath clumps of his own hair, Kaito stands, lying back on his bunk, waiting for the guard change over to finish.

After five minutes, he grows bored, and decides to prepare instead. His blanket is a dark navy blue, and he plans to bring it with him to cover the white t-shirt and green overalls he’s been issued as prison uniform. He’ll wear it as soon as he leaves his cell, shrouding himself to blend in with the darkness.

By the time the lights go out, Kaito has gone over his plan multiple times, adding and subtracting details as he goes to make it as effective as possible.

He needs to get to the west workshop near B-block before he makes his way to the gatehouse, needs to pick up a screwdriver to unbolt the vent outside. It shouldn’t take long, and the lock will be child’s play compared to his cells deadlock.

“Okay,” Kaito breathes, pulling the hair grips from his hair. He bends two into something resembling a pick, keeping the third in his hair on the off chance that one might break. Then, after wrapping himself in his blanket, Kaito makes his way to the cell door, jimmying the grips in the lock until he hears a faint click.

Keeping them in place with one hand, he pulls the handle up, opening the cell just wide enough to squeeze through. Then, he closes the cell door again, throwing the grips into his overall pockets.

The laundry shoot, Kaito knows, is on the third floor, near the staircase. It’s wide enough that Kaito will be able to fit in it, making his way down to a room just outside the cells. From there, he just needs to unlock the door outside of the laundry room and make his way out into the yard.

Each step is riddled with uncertainty - instead of wearing his shoes, Kaito moves barefoot, shoes in hand to avoid any cracking of soles against the floor.

Moving quickly enough to avoid the sight of any prisoners that might catch notice of him, yet slowly enough that they do not see him moving, Kaito makes his way to the end of the corridor.

The moment he reaches the steps, he leans forward peering through the gaps. There aren’t many guards patrolling the actual block, just two or three nearby the exit, illuminated by their torches.

He sneaks down the staircase, and lets out a sigh of relief when he realises none of the torches moved towards him. He lingers, ears listening out for any footsteps, as he readies himself to climb into the shoot. Glancing down, inky blackness greets him, daring him to jump down and embrace it.

A giddy feeling wells inside of him.

Kaito holds his breath, and disappears into the dark.

He lands in a hamper of dirty bed sheets.

For a moment, he relaxes, letting a laugh bubble up from where it’s been trapped within lungs, breathless and ecstatic. In the next, he smothers the sound, pulling himself out of the hamper and scuttling forwards to the exit.

He smiles, retrieves the hair grips from his pocket and unlocks the door.


There are several differences to being outside during the day and being outside during the night.

The thing about being attacked by the wind during the early hours of the morning, when the sky is black, freckled with thousands of stars, is that it is liberating. It is whispers in his ear telling him he should be indoors sleeping until the morning comes back for him. It is ignoring the messages of melatonin in his blood telling him he should rest, despite how alive the night makes him feel.

Having rain spit out at him during the dark is like collecting secrets in a jar for later use, drinking them up and revelling in them until he’s had his fix.

For Kaito, standing beneath the moonlight is addictive.

Even when the moon is not full, even when it’s waning and has left him behind.

Still, he loves it, this feeling that he cannot share with anyone else. It makes his heart thump against his chest, makes him feel alive in the only way that matters, and for a split second, Kaito forgets about escape and wishes only to stand staring up at the moon in wonder.

Then he remembers where his is - reminds himself that the moon will still be there when he is outside the prison gates. It doesn’t take him long, then, to spur back into action.

He glances up at the walk ways, trying to see where each guard is - he counts five patrolling the perimeter, and thinks that it’s probably best to stay nearer to the prison walls so less can see him. His gaze follow beams of light designed to hunt him and anyone else brave enough to try to escape down. He time each sweep of the beam across the yard, and attempts to figure when the best time to run is.

He waits…

Shuffles across to the wall, and waits.

And then - now.

Kaito sprints, eyes narrow as he glances towards the west workshop. He needs to find that screw driver and it needs to be found quickly before anyone notices his absence in his cell. The blanket that he’s covered himself in ripples around him, making him feel more like a ghost than a convict attempting to flee.

For a second he almost feels like a phantom again.

Gasping for air, he reaches the west workshop, hides behind one of the walls while light bathes the entrance. He catches his breath, and as soon as the light moves again, he races back towards the door, jamming the hair grips into the door, haste making him sloppy as he opens the door. Luckily, even his sloppy work is quick.

He closes the door behind him seconds before the light returns, crouching out of sight of the windows and crawling towards one of the workbenches. He quite likes the workshop, even if he can’t create anything outrageous, simply because it demands each prisoner to be innovative. 

So far, he’s seen someone make a 3-D model of a boat out of broken chopsticks, another person creating a replica of a race car out of match sticks.

It’s brilliant, Kaito thinks, how much the mind is capable of when it’s left without anything to do.

He picks up a screwdriver from one of the benches, gripping it tightly as he unbends the hair grips, threading them back into his hair. He contemplates for a moment whether he will have enough time to unscrew all four screws within the time he had between the lights hitting him, and doubts it.

When he races outside, he keeps the workshop unlocked, sprints towards the vent and tries to undo the first screw irregardless. It’s surprisingly easy to unscrew, and while he pockets the screw, Kaito keeps an eye on the lights.

Before it can come back to expose him, Kaito throws himself back inside the workshop, gasping for air. He continues this until the grate is open. As he crawls inside, leaving the grate by the entrance, Kaito pulls himself forwards, biting his lip as he realises - he does not exactly have a plan for if the other grate is also screwed on too tightly.

Eh, he thinks, he’s got a screwdriver now, it’s nothing he can’t handle.

The vent leads him into the prison’s visit room. It is empty, and Kaito has to stop himself from letting out a cheer as he places the vent back into place.

With a grin, he stands, turns his head and makes his way to the door Hakuba had left out of.

He waves for a moment, at the camera’s he walks past - because if the camera’s are going to pick him up anyway, then he’s going to have to wear the mask of KID and smile at them all.

It is almost as if he has performed a magic trick without needing to create any false illusions.

“Okay,” he whispers to himself, making his way out of the door and down towards the exit. He pauses for a moment when he realises that the initial door leads into a small room, which then leads outside. If Kaito’s right, then only one can be open at a time, and it requires the press of a button from the reception.

“Dammit”, Kaito hisses, and returns back to the visitors room, squinting around for any rooms labelled ‘staff only’. It’s difficult to see in the dark, so he has to check each door individually. Eventually, he finds it.

It is labelled 'no entry’, and Kaito, rule breaker that he is, completely ignores it and breaks in. 

And is met with the scowl of one the guards.

“Shit.”


He is thrown into solitary confinement for two days, limbs jerking with electricity, mind racing with a strange euphoria.

Maybe he didn’t escape this time, but if he keeps improving with every attempt, well - then Kaito really will be able to free himself someday.

If only they’d stop fucking tasing him.


After two days of boredom, staring at the wall and replaying memory after memory, coming up with countless designs for future heists, Kaito is released.

They release him shortly before lights out, probably to keep him disorientated - even though they have drugs for that.

Which he doesn’t really know how to respond to. All he knows is that they want him to take sleeping pills every night to make sure he’s not alert enough to break out again.

The first two days he takes them, tries to teach himself what the effects feel and look like, so that he can emulate them when he next attempts to leave. If it makes them lower their guards…

Either way, he’s tired by the time he is paraded back into his cell, eyelids drooping. He’s so tired, it’s easy to forget the pain that is painted into every crevice of solitary confinement, the tiny laughs that echo ongoing anxieties.

People, Kaito knows, are social creatures - him more so than anyone, he needs a crowd as opposed to people and his skin itches more so every day that passes without one - and solitary takes advantage of it.

“Stay inside this time,” his guards growl, and Kaito suppresses a grin when he realises he still has hair grips buried beneath his hair, waiting to be used again.

“Let me guess… Tramadol?”

It takes him a lot more time than it should to realise the cell isn’t empty.

“Kudo-kun!” Kaito turns to him,  eyes widening. “You’re not dead!”

The other man raises an eyebrow, “…why would I be dead?”

Kaito shakes his head, lets out a small laugh and attempts to climb up to his bunk. It takes him a second longer than usual, and he hears Kudo’s choked laughter behind him, but soon he is sat on him bed, squinting over at Kudo.

“You were gone over a week.” Kaito says. “And I tried to escape.”

“Solitary confinement is a thing…” Kudo sighs, exasperation echoing in his voice, “seriously, didn’t anyone tell you I was there?” He pauses. “And let me guess, you made more progress this time?”

Kaito hums his agreement.

“Listen…” Kudo says, his voice quiet. Kaito doesn’t turn to him, but he can hear desperation echoing in his voice. He wonders whether it is genuine. “I can help you get out of here, if you really want to go. But I want to go too.”

Kaito pauses, closes his eyes. Even with exhaustion weighing down on him, seeping into every bone, his mind races at the proposition. Firstly, Kudo is smart - he’s obviously intelligent enough to match Kaito, and if he’s capable of getting information from guards, then he’d be a valuable asset.

But he’s also a murderer - is it right to say yes?

Is it smart to say no?

“We work together until we’re free,” Kaito decides, “from there, we go our separate ways.”

Hopefully, this will give him enough time to get under the radar. Hopefully, the police will prioritise serial killer over a phantom thief.

“Of course,” Kudo says, and from across the room, Kaito doesn’t need to see him to know he is smiling. “It’s a deal.”

Chapter Text

Three months ago:


The court room looks like it has been coloured with regret.

The walls had been painted by guilty verdicts and pleas of innocence, the carpets woven from shredded alibis and broken defences.

Shackled to his seat, Kaito struggles to keep his poker face. His solicitor, sat beside him, has told him that he’ll try to lessen his sentence, but that there isn’t much hope in this case. Kaito doesn’t respond to the whisper in his ear as the prosecution opens the case, already aware that there is no way he will be walking out of the building with his freedom.

So he shrugs his shoulders. He grins. 

And he bears it.

“It is to my understanding that the defendant is responsible for crimes committed after Kaitou 1412’s eight year hiatus,” the prosecutor says, “which is a total of twenty three heists to date.”

The judge turns to Kaito, “how does the defendant plead?”

Kaito’s solicitor has told him that he should simply say he is guilty, that it will cut his up to a third off of his sentence if he simply admits to his crimes from the beginning - but with the amount of offences he has piled against his name, Kaito is certain that no amount of discounted sentences will let him back out of prison any time soon.

Still.

He glances momentarily to the seats at the back of the court. They’ve closed it to the press, although he knows the masses are waiting outside to see if he’ll perform one final trick and disappear forever, but his associates are allowed inside.

He glances at Aoko, who sits at the back of the court, hand squeezing her father’s, trying to look her in the eye, but she won’t tear her gaze from the judge. Her father won’t look at him either, which strikes harder against his being, pain spreading through his veins, blooming like a weed that won’t die, regardless of how much he struggles to pluck it away.

“Guilty,” Kaito breathes - not for him, but for them. “I plead guilty.”

The judge looks back to his case notes, squints over his glasses at summaries of his heists. Kaito resists the urge to tell him that the summaries will do them no justice, that if he wants to know how utterly brilliant they were, he should go to youtube and watch camera footage of each one.

Something in his head, however, tells him he’d better not. It warns him that he won’t be impressed.

“I see,” the judge says, and nods to Kaito’s solicitor. “The defence may argue it’s case.”

They talk of mitigating factors, reasons his sentence should be lighter: The lack of a criminal record before now, his potential as a bright young pupil, a lack of any harm at heists. Then, the prosecution argues aggravating factors, like repeat offending and the fact all heists were planned will in advance.

“Let’s bring this hearing to a close,” the judge states after an hour and a half of listening to testimonies and arguments about sentencing. “Kuroba Kaito, you are hereby charged with 23 accounts of theft upon breaking and entering, how do you plead?”

Kaito has already answered this, but apparently, they need to know again.

“Guilty.”

“For the wasteful employment of police forces, how do you plead?”

He grits his teeth “Guilty.”

“For the abuse of a position of trust to gain access to police records, how do you plead?”

Glancing back over to Aoko, he finally meets her gaze.

Nothing will hurt him more than the look in her eyes. He doesn’t need to be anywhere near her tears to know that each droplet burns like acid, leaving irreparable scars where her heart should be.

“How do you plead, Kuroba-yoshiga?”

Kaito tears his gaze from Aoko, traces her name against his arm so that he can marr this moment into his own skin, depicting the moment he feels the red string that’s bound them for years sever, sliced into two. Kaito strangles himself with his own end, turning away from his best friend and looking up at the judge.

He breathes, “guilty.”


Kaito wakes with the words ‘I’m sorry’ ringing in his ears, Aoko’s tears against his cheeks - except… no, they’re not hers, they’re his. It’s still dark, still the early hours of the morning, but Kaito doesn’t exactly feel like going back to sleep.

His bones rattle when he lowers himself from his bunk, but he grits his teeth and deal with it. His muscles still ache from electricity - last time he’d recovered from the shock fully within two days. This time it’s been four days and he still gets random palpitations.

Although, realistically, he’s not sure whether he should be blaming all this on the taser. Maybe it’s just the result of stress.

Is Kaito stressed? He’s not sure.

Has he seriously grown so used to wearing his poker face, that he’s become unreadable to himself? Or is he just looking for something that isn’t there?

He turns the faucet of by their sink, water pulsing from the tap, and attempts to wash away any insecurities. It doesn’t work, but it does wash away the nervous sweat from the back of neck, so he's grateful for the water either way.

Then, he shuts of the tap, and tries to imagine he didn’t hear the shifting of Kudo behind him.

“You can’t sleep either, huh?” Kudo whispers. It’s dark enough that Kaito can’t see the other’s face - meaning Kudo can’t see his - which is reassuring, because at least the other man won’t pick up on the fact he’s woken up tearful.

“Not really,” Kaito says, climbing back up onto his bunk. He dries water from his face with his blanket, before burying himself under it, shivering from the cold.

“That sucks,” Kudo sighs. His voice is tired, and he yawns.

Kaito closes his eyes and sees Aoko. He sees Hakuba and Keiko and Akako - sees a filled classroom instead of a cell, sees magic where there is nothing but dust. It doesn’t hurt to think of them when he is awake - the pain dissipates into a numbness during the day, making him feel like he is missing some fundamental part of himself, the part of him that makes him like everybody else.

“Hey Kudo,” Kaito forces his eyes open, dispersing the illusion, “how long until…”

He trails off, not because he’s embarrassed, not because someone could overhear, but because they only decided two days ago to escape with the other’s help and he’s not exactly sure if Kudo was messing with him or not.

From the bottom bunk, Kudo shifts. It’s a jerking movement, as if he’s been caught off guard, but Kaito doesn’t think too much on it. There are a lot of things about Kudo he chooses not to think about - mostly because it leaves him riddled with uncertainties.

“Soon,” Kudo whispers, “at the latest, we leave on the 3rd of May. Not a day later.”

Kaito doesn’t want to point out that it’s only the beginning of March. Doesn’t want to echo his impatience, that May is two months away, and what if Pandora is found during these months. He imagines that to Kudo, two months means nothing, not when he’s got a life sentence.

The same goes for him, he thinks  - two months isn’t actually that long. Kudo is promising him freedom within 61 days, and maybe he should just… accept that. Maybe he should stop spending so much time wondering whether they can realistically achieve it.

“That’s specific.” Kaito says.

Kudo hums. “We’re both going to have to do some volunteer work. Starting with the laundry room in the mornings and helping out in the kitchens.”

“Okay…”

“You’re going to have to teach me how to pick locks,” Kudo says, “I can break spring locks, but the others just… nope.”

His chest must be a good spot, because all it does is cultivate anxiety, breeding negative thought after negative thought. Why Kudo needs to know how to break locks when they’re working together, Kaito doesn’t know, but he does know that it would be foolish to teach the other to escape.

Teaching a murderer to become an escape artist… well, doesn’t that sound smart.

“…You think that’s a bad idea.” Kudo sighs. It’s not a question, but rather a deduction formed from the shifting of Kaito beneath his blanket and the hesitation to respond. “I guess I understand, I’ll just hand double the work to you then.”

Kaito nods, realises they can’t actually see each other, before mumbling 'that’s fine’. 

Kudo lets out a small laugh, “for this to work, you’re going to have to learn to trust me though.”

That’s the thing that’s been bugging Kaito so much, he doesn’t. He wants to be able to, wants to throw away whatever scrambled morality he has left, but murder? He can’t just overlook that. How can Kaito trust that?

“I know.”


The following day, before they’re let out of their cells, guards bring around forms for visiting order.

Kaito glances down at the sheet of paper, glancing down at the pen they’ve passed through the bars. Kudo glances at his sheet, writing out a name and address immediately.

After a moment of hesitation, Kaito writes Aoko’s name down, recalling her address and filling in the gaps. Once it is filled in, he leans back, frowning at the page. He doesn’t want to see her, not after causing her so much pain.

"Hey, Kudo,” he says, gaze refusing to move from the character’s of Aoko’s name. He focuses on the character blue in her name, and wonders, not for the first time if she is happy.

“Mhmm?”

“You said before that you didn’t want someone to visit you,” Kaito glances at his form, “yet you send them visiting orders. Why?”

He can feel the other’s gaze burning him, but Kaito doesn’t look, continues to stare at Aoko’s number. At some point the characters blend into one another, until eventually all he sees is lines on a page. Kudo places the pen against the floor of their cell, where he sits, leaning against the wall.

“Ran, she… she refuses to move on.” His voice is pained when he says it, the most vulnerable Kaito has ever heard. Kaito is glad that he’s not looking up - he doesn’t want to see the expression that pairs with those words. “The visits are more for her sake than mine.”

There isn’t much that Kaito knows to say to that. “…The two of you were…?”

Kudo clears his throat, and when he speaks, his voice lacks emotion, back to the chilled apathy he typically wears. He says, “that’s in the past.”

But he doesn’t want it to be, Kaito can see that much. 

He understands the feeling even if it was difficult with Aoko, even if they’d only been best friends. He wants the past back, wants to go back to a time before all of the lies and forced distance.

He wants to go back to when she wasn’t just a memory. Now she is just a ghost haunting his dreams, with sad eyes and an outreached hand waiting for him to take. And Kaito…

“You have someone like that too, don’t you?” Kudo says.  

Kaito looks down at his form, scribbles Aoko’s name out. Then, he rips the form up, scattering the scraps around him, turning to Kudo with a feigned smile.

“No,” he says, “I don’t.”


He’s lying.

(“We need to get to work.” He says with false cheer, and if Kudo gives him an odd look, then fine. For once the ex-detective can let him be the mysterious one.)


Three days later, when they sit down to eat dinner, Kudo snaps.

It is not a violent snap - not like with Yoshida - nor is it fueled by emotions. Rather, the other prisoner just seems fed up and so he glares across at Kaito and pokes him in the chest with his chopsticks.

“Will you stop it already?”

Kaito blinks, opens his mouth and then closes it when words fail him.

“You’re moping,” Kudo says. “Whoever you’re missing, whatever your issue is, it’s frustrating to watch.”

“I’m not moping.” Kaito protests, batting Kudo’s chopsticks away.

“You are. You can mask your expressions and you can alter your body language but your eyes give it away.” Kudo sets his chopsticks down, “that’s what the monocle and top hat were for, right? To make sure no one could see your eyes?”

Kaito glares.

“I’m being serious,” Kudo says, quieter now, “whatever shit you’ve got going on in that head of yours, sort it out. If we’re gonna get out of here, it’s gonna take our full focus.”

The glare falters, but Kaito still feels irritation stabbing against his temples.

He’s escaped from heists despite having other things on his mind, so he…

Except, he’s already failed twice, because he’d been focused on other things. Maybe he really can’t afford to have something else on his mind at a time like this…

“Fine,” Kaito leans back. He doesn’t know why he feels drained, but he is. “I’ll figure it all out. Where can I use a phone?”

Shinichi points to a small room outside at the side of the cafeteria, telling him that it runs off of his prisoner number. Kaito stands, (“What are you doing.” “Figuring it out, obviously.”), making his way towards the room.

He has to wait two minutes for one of the phone booths to empty, but then he is inside, pressing each number in quick succession until the phone is ringing, leaving him to wait.

He’s never been patient, but he waits anyway. Aoko could be doing anything, she might not even be home.

What does he do if she’s not home?

What does he do if she refuses the call?

The phone clicks, and Kaito is subjected to background noise and a voice, “Hello?

“Aoko.”

Chapter Text

“Hello?”

The voice is low, and feminine, with an all too familiar lilt of playfulness that Kaito has come to miss. It echoes in his ears, replaying over and over until he forces himself to speak.

“Aoko.”

Another pause, as he waits to see whether she will hang up or not. He won’t blame her if he does, will sit back and accept it - but if Hakuba told the truth during his visit… then Aoko has been waiting for this call for a while. She won’t end it so quickly.

“Kaito!” She cries, emotion overwhelming her voice before quickly turning to irritation, “you idiot, you should have called sooner!”

Kaito feels a smile worm it’s way onto his face, relief jittering through every synapse in his body. Joy bubbles up from his throat until eventually he is laughing, tears in his eyes. He’s been worried over this? Over talking to Aoko, his greatest friend?

“…Is everything okay?” Aoko asks when he stops laughing, finally succeeding in smothering his emotions, forcing himself back to one piece.

“I’m just… really glad that you picked up,” Kaito admits, leaning against the phone booth, brushing his hand up and down the phone’s cable. It’s short - probably so prisoners can’t use it as a weapon - the cable thin enough that with big enough scissors he’d be able to cut through. “And that you haven’t hung up yet.”

Aoko lets out a small laugh - it is a nervous bell-like sound as if she’s suddenly realised where he is, who he is. “Aoko still might, if all you’re going to do is laugh at her.”

“Okay, okay,” Kaito says, “I’ll quit laughing. Just… catch me up with you, how’s everything going?”

There is a pause on the other side of the phone, and the background music halts, stopping with a small shudder as Aoko presses the off button.

“Aoko was just doing her homework,” she says, “it’s difficult maths, mechanics - Aoko thinks you would enjoy it. School isn’t too chaotic, although everyone in class cannot get over the fact that you’re-”

Kaito wants to tell her that she shouldn’t falter, that she should just call him Kaitou KID and get used to the fact that they’re both the same. Wants to say that KID will always be his alter ego, that he claims it as his own with pride.

He doesn’t.

“Yeah…” He mumbles instead, hand tightening over the phone. He sighs, “how’s… my mum, is she okay?”

“Aoko’s not sure.” She breathes uncertainty, and it is sad in the same way that snow is cold. It freezes him, leaves him shuddering as he waits for any more information. “the last time Aoko saw her, she was trying to find a buyer for your house, said that she couldn’t bear staying in it.”

Kaito stops breathing. His mother wants to sell their home? She wants to throw away the last place his dad lived, throw away the memories of Kuroba Toichi that live beneath the floorboards in his own secret room?

“She can’t sell the house,” Kaito says.

Aoko sighs, “you’re mother doesn’t spend any time in Japan, and since you can’t live there anymore…”

Kaito heaves out a sigh and pushes the thought away for later. The fact that home isn’t going to be there for him when he leaves - not that he’d considered going back, that’d be a stupid place to escape to - isn’t something that he’d ever considered. What will his mother do with all of his father’s equipment?

“I get it,” Kaito says, even if he doesn’t. It shouldn’t matter if they can return there, as long as it remains a possibility. “Don’t worry about it.”

“You’re not mad?” Aoko asks. Knowing her, she’s sat back, frowning across at the photo of the two of them she keeps on her desk, imagining which expression he’s wearing. She’s seen them all - well, almost all, over the years so she should have a faint idea.

“A gentleman never gets mad at the middle man,” Kaito grins, before falling short. Because - well, that sounds more like KID than it does Kaito. He hopes that Aoko will overlook it, glance away from it like she used to glance away from the subtle similarities between the two personalities, but she doesn’t.

Instead, there is a very audible intake of air, not quite a gasp, but not simply breathing. It’s almost as if Kaito can hear her simmering on the other side of the phone, bubbling anger ready to explode.

“Aoko-”

“I want to talk to Kaito.” Aoko whispers, her voice grave, “not to KID.”

Kaito takes a deep breath, pulls at the collar of his shirt when he feels like he’s being strangled. It doesn’t help, not when it’s his own words that are suffocating him. She knows - Aoko knows that he is both and neither. She should know he is just a canvas worn by both.

“They’re both me Aoko.” He says, helplessness seeping into his voice, “KID and Kaito… we’re the same, I’m both of them.”

“No,” Aoko says. “They’re different. Kaito is my best friend, whereas KID is the reason behind so much pain. There’s a difference.”

“There isn’t!”

“Yes there is!” Her voice rises to a shout, leaving behind a silence and a bullet sized wound where Kaito’s sure his heart should be. “And until you learn to separate the two, Aoko doesn’t want to talk to you.”

Kaito’s voice transforms into a plea, “I can’t just separate two parts of myself. Aoko-”

Kaito grits his teeth, resists the urge to slam the phone back onto the receiver. It feels, almost as if there is something within him dying - but he doesn’t have the time to mourn it. He just needs to bury it, try to explain to Aoko in a way so she’d understand.

Maybe if he tells her everything-

The background noise cuts out. The line goes dead.

And Aoko is gone.


Kudo doesn’t ask him about it, even though Kaito can see that he wants to.

Another day passes, and Kaito thanks every possible god he can that he will only have to deal with 56 more days at the most before the two of them are free again.

Already he’s tired of working on laundry duty, sick of remembering to empty the lint filters every time he throws a new batch of clothes into the dryer. Sick of folding and giving out clothes to other people - he doesn’t understand why Kudo thinks this is important to help them escape.

“What are we doing here?” He sighs after he’s folded another set of blankets, placing them over to the rack where they will be given out to other prisoners. “There’s no point to this.”

Kudo grins, shaking his head. He seems a lot more relaxed than Kaito is, folding the ends of blankets with a careful precision. He says, “there’s a lot of points behind all of this. You’re just not seeing them because you’re still moping.”

“I’m not having this conversation with you again,” Kaito huffs, “just tell me why we’re doing this.”

Smirking, Kudo places his blanket down, brushes out the creases and moves to do the same with another. As he does, he glances at the thief, eyes dancing with something akin to mischief. He says, “did you know this is the place where most things get smuggled into the prison?”

Oh. Oh.

“Well… how would we get anything smuggled in, huh?” Kaito hisses. He knows that he could ask Jii for help, but he’d told the man before that they would have to go their separate ways if Kaito was ever caught. He wonders what the old man’s doing now. “I don’t have any-”

“Then aren’t you glad we’re working together?” Kudo laughs, “I’m lucky to have someone who’s able to bring stuff in for me. We place whatever we need for our escape in these blankets, smuggle it into our room and then, we’ve got we need for when we’re ready to head off.”

The idea of the ex-detective having allies in a place like this isn’t actually that strange. He has a kind of superficial charm that he expels, eyes that are far too wise and experienced to seem anything but trusting. Even knowing that he shouldn’t, Kaito wants to trust him.

“That guard you always talk to,” Kaito guesses. He’s seen them, talking to one another often. Kudo talks to other guards too, but it’s always with an air of hostility, superiority rolling off him in waves.

Kudo hesitates, waits a moment, before nodding. “Oto-san yes. It’ll take him time, but he’ll get us whatever we need. Provided he can get it past the metal detectors he has to go through when getting into work.”

“How’d you manage to get a guard in your pocket, huh?” Kaito asks. He scowls at the blanket he’s been trying to fold for over a minute, but ultimately he feels hope climbing up his spine.

“I didn’t,” Kudo says, taking the final blanket from his pile, leaning against the counter when he is finished. “He’s one of my father’s contacts.”

It is not private that Kudo Shinichi is the son of novelist Kudo Yuusaku. For as long as he can remember, Kaito has passed the man’s mystery novels every time he’s been inside a bookshop. His books are bestsellers, each one containing a plot more overwhelming than the last. He’d help solve murders with the police in the past, long before his son had started his own detective career.

Kaito had thought that the father and son duo didn’t talk. The only visitor Kudo seems to get is that one female - Ran he’d called her - so naturally Kaito had assumed…

“My father is not in a position where he can openly support me,” Kudo says, snatching the blanket from Kaito’s useless hands, “so I have Oto-san as a go between instead.”

Frowning Kaito says, “Your father wants you to escape?”

Kudo purses his lips but after a moment, he grins. “My parents don’t exactly believe that I killed those people.” He shrugs. “I understand that, it’s a hard thing for a lot of people to accept. That six people are dead because of me, well-”

For a split moment, Kaito hesitates. 

From what he knows, Kudo Yuusaku does not make mistakes. Is there something odd about Kudo’s case that makes his guilt unbelievable? Or is it the delusional thoughts of a father unable to believe that the son he has raised is capable of creating such a bloody scene, victims slashed and left skewered against the walls?

“Did you?”

Kudo’s eyes widen, shock erasing whatever amusement he’d been feigning. He looks away from Kaito at first, at the window, the door, anything that is not the thief before turning back. He meets his eyes, lips thin a taut smile on his face.

“Did I what?” It’s almost chilling how different his voice sounds. It’s not the usual irritated response he normally throws at Kaito during the day, nor is it the argumentative tone he wears around guards and their fellow prisoners.

No, this is the voice of someone who’s swelling with resentment. Kaito takes a step back at the sudden change in Kudo’s expression, the way his brows draw together into a glower.

“Did you really kill them?” Kaito doesn’t even know why he’s asking. The way he’s reacting - isn’t this practically a confession? But would a serial killer really be angry about him bringing up his crimes, wouldn’t he be more thrilled to talk about them?

Kudo’s shoulders tense, and once again he turns away. “I’m certainly… responsible for their deaths.”

Kaito doesn’t breathe.

“But did I actually kill them?” He glance back with a self-deprecating smile, his eyes far away but his body language more welcoming than it had been previously, “well… There’s not a trace of blood on my hands.”

There is nothing Kaito can do but blink.

“Although, that’s for you to take however you want.” Kudo says, turning away. “I’m pretty sure most of the people in this joint claim they’re innocent. Actually, KID, you might be the only guilty person here."

Chapter Text

With fifty-two days until the deadline on their escape, Kaito finds himself buried under questions that he has no answers to. It’s almost as if he’s slowly drowning in uncertainty, each mystery boiling his blood, his skin itching from the rawness of it all.

It is like he’s readying himself for a test but hasn’t been told what he needs to know in advance. Instead of feeling certain that everything is going to work out eventually, he is left reeling, confusion blurring his thoughts, twisting them until they are only recognisable in the form of anxiety.

Usually energetic, he spends days feeling listless, lacking his usual vigor, maskless and uncertain what he’s doing. It’s the result of being locked up all the time, his freedom gone as if he is a domesticated animal, a bird trapped in a cage that is rusting.

“How much longer,” he asks one day, “until we can leave?”

They are both in the prison yard, feeling the sun beat against their neck, and Kaito is sprawled against the dirt, eyes closed as Kudo sits beside him. People give them a wide berth, decide to leave them both alone, and Kaito know’s by now not to expect anyone to come talk to them.

“I told you,” Kudo sighs, “by May 3rd at the latest, it’s not going to be after then.”

Kaito cracks open an eye, squints against the glare of the sun. “What’s so special about the third of may?”

Kudo smiles. It’s strained, and goddammit, Kaito just wants him to stop with all of the masks. If this is what Aoko meant in the past when she’d said it was difficult to read him, then he’s ready to apologise tenfold. “It’s always good to work with a goal in mind.”

“Would it kill you to be honest with me?” Kaito says. He doesn’t quite expect his voice to come out so agitated, had been under the belief that he’s been suppressing his feelings enough to keep the pretense of calmness - but apparently not.

Kudo flinches away, turns. He says, “We just need to leave before then, okay?”

“I don’t trust you Kudo.” Kaito breathes, and it’s like the words unravel off of his tongue before his brain can fully process them. “I can’t, because you don’t tell me anything.”

The is a sharp inhale from beside him, and Kaito is surprised at how he’s remaining in one place despite the cold look Kudo sends him.

“You don’t exactly tell me things either KID,” Kudo growls, animosity lacing his tone. “Like… What exactly is this Pandora that you’re so obsessed with? And what’s going on with you, you were fine and now suddenly you seem like someone’s taken the life from you?”

Kaito sits up, and now he’s glaring too. “How do you know about Pandora?”

“All of that tapping you do, it’s always the same sequence, repeated over and over again, spelling out that stupid word!” Kudo snaps. “I don’t expect you to tell me about that, so why do you expect me not to do the same?”

“Because you are not the one who’s got to worry about whether us escaping will lead to more people dying!” Kaito cries. He’s glad that people keep their distance from them, because his pitch is rising, louder and louder, filled with more emotion than he can realistically handle.

It is like a crescendo of noise, and he cannot process his emotions because he does not have an off button.

“You think I want to leave so I can kill more people?” Kudo asks, and he is quieter now. His glare has faded away, his skin paling until he is colourless, washed out in the same way a corpse is. The hurt in his voice is gut-wrenching to hear, but Kaito is at his limit of feeling guilty.

“Well do you?” Kaito asks, and he feels faintly like his heart might give out with how heavily it is pounding in his chest. “Because you’re not exactly forthcoming with any useful information. Forgive me for being skeptical.”

Kudo stands, glances at Kaito for a single before tearing his gaze away. It’s almost as if he can’t bear to look at him - Is it because he can’t keep up the appearance of pretending to be upset? Or is it because he’s trying to avoid falling into despair?

“They were all criminals.” The ex-detective says, “I’m sentenced with killing six criminals, so why would I try to escape when everyone here fits my MO?”

Kudo doesn’t turn back as he storms off, and Kaito is left to stare after him. As soon as he steps back inside C-block, Kaito draws himself up, jumping on the balls of his feet.

Is it that difficult to just say ‘don’t worry, I won’t kill anyone?

The thief doesn’t know. All he can do is imply Kudo’s meanings, intended double-meanings thrown into every word. News articles had said that he’d valued the truth over everything else, and well - maybe part of making sure everything he says is true is making sure nothing is certain.

“Jeez,” Kaito rubs at the back of his neck, staring at the open doors, “he’s so annoying.”

Except, he’s more worried than annoyed.

“This place is driving me insane,” Kaito sighs, turning in the direction of the laundry room. It’s the subtle things that make him feel out of touch with reality. The way the wind whispers against his neck, taunting him with it’s freedom, his fellow prisoners and their eyes follow him.

Mostly it’s the hollowness, the boredom that wraps around him in an embrace, and the feeling that it will never let go.


Kudo doesn’t show up for laundry duty, which means that the guards stack Kaito with double the work. He groans, complains over the fact he’s got twice as much to do because Kudo’s being a jerk, but ends up biting his tongue the moment one of the guards gives him the option of helping out or spending a day in solitary.

(Kaito would like to point out that this is unfounded seeing as all he was doing was cursing Kudo, it’s not quite worthy of solitary. But hey, what does he know?)

As he’s folding blankets, he finds that his mind slips into a steady rhythm, his hands working without needing any direct instruction. It gives him time to think.

Aoko’s request of the difference between Kaito and KID isn’t something he necessarily wants to think on, but it’s the first place his mind wanders. He doesn’t know exactly what Aoko means by them being two different things, but is that simply because he’s spent too long immersing himself in both?

“What is so different about the two?” He mutters, racking his brain. Both are magicians, both have never thought much for the rules. Both like to prank others, although KID’s were always on a greater scale and they were designed to fool hundreds.

Kaito’s tricks were always just that… tricks. But KID creates magic, creates illusions because he is an illusion himself.

Is that the difference Aoko was talking about? That one is real and the other is a concept?

No. That’s not it. After all, people are just concepts melded together into a living personality - there’s a distinct contrast between the two.

He decides to think of something else instead. Rather than try to strain his mind, he decides to think on the significance of May 3rd.

Kenpo Kinenbi takes place on the third, is in the middle of golden week. A national holiday brought in after the war, constitution day celebrates new principles brought in after the end of the war… well, Kaito doesn’t think that there’s anything special about it.

Only… There’s something about the day that would make their hiding a lot more easier. It would be easier to disappear when most of the country is travelling over the holidays, and it’s typically busiest on May 3rd. It’s a possibility, but something in the back of Kaito’s head tells him it’s not the only reason.

There’s too much urgency for that to be the only reason. There has to be a reason why Kudo’s gotten so emotional over the date, despite usually keeping a collected voice.

“I’ll get it out of him eventually.” Kaito promises himself, grabbing a blanket, “and tomorrow, he’s going to do my share of the laundry.”


Kudo is not in their cell when he goes back after lunch, but Kaito’s not worried. He’s either in solitary - again because apparently he spends a lot of time there - or he’s actually decided to go down to their kitchen duty.

Wherever he is, Kaito doesn’t care. Let Kudo wash double the dishes, it was his idea for them to help out, after all.

He sits back on his bunk, skims through one of Kudo’s books and finds that it’s extremely tiring sitting by himself. Maybe if he had playing cards to perform tricks with, or a coin to practise sleight of hand with, it wouldn’t be so tedious inside the cell, but words have never been enough to keep him entertained.

Kaito misses being part of a crowd.

“Damn that detective,” Kaito says and he’s not exactly sure whether he’s cursing Hakuba or Kudo, “keeping me cooped up like this.”

Ah, Hakuba then.

“And that idiot, always creating more questions than answers. Damn them both.”

And Kudo.

He decides that the only interesting option will be to go down to the kitchen and attempt to find more information on the prisoner who’s left him in a fit of confusion.


Kudo is not in the kitchen, nor is he in the cafeteria. Solitary then, Kaito supposes.

“That idiot,” Kaito sighs, “causing all this trouble for me.”

Behind him, snickering catches his attention. He leans against the wall temporarily, listening in to the conversation behind him.

'I can’t believe they’d try to mess with a guy like that.’

'They’re not messing with him, they’re just giving him a taste of what’ll happen next.’

Kaito takes a deep breath, glances around until he meets the gaze of the group who’re crowded in a circle. One of them catches his eye, smiles over at him - he’s never learned the man’s name, hasn’t really cared enough to learn it.

It’s not like he’s going to be here long enough to make fake friendships.

“Don’t you worry KID,” the guy says, “you won’t have to deal with him long.”

Kaito scowls, turns around. And then - then he hears the cry. It’s choked pain, low and guttural, almost like a wounded animal. Someone laughs.

He turns, follows after the sound until he’s in the kitchens stock room, glancing at the backs of four men each one glowering down at a figure: Kudo. He’s holding his throat, coughing on dry air.

“Wh- What are you doing?” Kaito says, racing forwards. He shoves past the prisoners, dropping down in front of Kudo, glancing at the raw fingermarks against his neck.

“We’re just training him,” one of the men says, and… wait, is that Yoshida at the side of the group? Didn’t he learn enough after losing one eye? “You know, for when it actually happens.”

“For what happens?” Kaito says, shielding Kudo from the others.

“You didn’t know?” Laughter echoes the room, “we’re just training him for the same thing that awaits every serial killer. We’re all very eager to buy tickets, Kudo, wouldn’t do well for you to get to hurt now.”

Kaito watches them as they leave.

And slowly, it clicks.

“They’re going to hang you.” He turns back to Kudo, eyes wide. It’s the standard punishment for serial murders, for them to be executed. And with six murders under his belt, Kudo is going to die.

Kudo glances at him, and Kaito can see he’s trying to hide his wounds - not the physical ones, but the emotional ones that he’s harboring. No wonder he doesn’t want to talk about it, things don’t hurt as much if you leave them alone to form a scab.

“That’s why your parents want you to escape, that’s why you’re so urgent…” Kaito whispers, “because you’ll be killed.”

“They… can’t until I… turn eighteen,” Kudo rasps, “but when I do…”

May 3rd. The day before Kudo’s birthday, the day he becomes a legal adult, the day they can finally start pushing the process for his execution. Any day after would possibly be his last. It makes every breath harder to bear.

From the moment he first met him, Kudo has made it clear that people should be punished. It’s why he fought back against Yoshida, it’s why he tries to maintain order in the prison. For him, someone who’s so hellbent on justice to try to escape his own punishment…

“You didn’t kill them, did you?”

Kudo coughs. It is only now that Kaito can see the tears lurking behind his eyes. He looks helpless, staring up at the thief - it reminds him of himself, the moment he’d found out about his father’s murder, the way he’d felt when they’d buried him in the ground.

“I didn’t.”

Chapter Text

“I didn’t kill them,” Kudo leans his head back, voice hoarse as he closes his eyes. He shudders, a cough building in his chest. “I’m telling the truth, I swear.”

Kaito struggles to think - The other could be lying, but the way he whispers is too genuine. Or rather, it sounds genuine, and Kaito doesn’t want to overthink it, because how nice would it be if it were true? He decides to believe in the ex-detective, it’s too much effort not to.

He smiles to himself, laughs under his breath.

Kudo opens his eyes, glances over at him, at the grin that’s wormed it’s way onto the thief’s face. And he pales, well, most of him does - his neck remains splotchy, red and purple spreading across skin like a child’s painting.

“I’m not laughing at you,” Kaito says after a moment, his own eyes widening. “I believe you, but… just, what’re the chances, you know? What are the chances that they’d arrest the wrong man and-”

He falters.

“We obviously need to talk about this,” he continues, “but we also need to get you to the infirmary, okay?”

Kudo waves him away, gives a weak smile and rasps, “I’ll be fine. Let’s go back to the cell.”

He grasps at the wall as he stands up, trying to stand on shaky legs. Kaito catches Kudo when he staggers, lifting one arm to settle around his shoulder, using his other arm to hoist him up.

“Don’t be stupid Kudo,” he says. The tone is not quite scolding, but it’s wrapped with concern, is harsh enough that it lets the other know he won’t take any nonsense. “You need to double check that it’s nothing internal.”

When he opens his mouth to respond, Kudo chokes on air. It hurts to hear - he wonders just how much it hurts Kudo, to feel that. Kaito gives him a look that tells him all his arguments are meaningless and that he’ll drag him to the infirmary if he needs to.

Or carry him there, it’ll probably be quicker.

“It’s probably nothing,” Kudo rasps when they’re halfway down the corridor.

Kaito scoffs, “sure it isn’t. It’s not like being strangled is a big issue or anything. Of course not. It’s not like this would have any future implications at all.”

The other boy scowls, but doesn’t protest again. Instead, he leaves Kaito to a sullen silence, letting him muse over what he’s learnt. Kudo’s going to die - which isn’t an option, not if he’s innocent. That leads to the question, why is the detective in prison in the first place?

Obviously, he’s been framed. But why would anyone make it seem as if he’s committed the murder of six people, especially when it’s so contradictory to who he is as a person? He used to solve murders for Christ’s sake - why would someone want to lead the public into believing he’s guilty?

Unless…

No, he’ll leave the theory until later, will wait until Kudo tells him what he thinks.

It’s not coincidence that Kudo was thrown into prison, so there must be a reason behind it, and who better to tell him then the victim himself.

It’s not long before they reach the infirmary. Kaito bundles Kudo inside, passes him over to the nurse and explains that he needs urgent care, right now, and that he should probably stay overnight to monitor his symptoms.

Kudo sends him a glance of disbelief, and only gets a shrug in response. His brows furrow as Kaito leads him over to a spare hospital bed, setting him down and looking at his neck. There are little red pinpoint spots - Petechiae - where fingers have squeezed against skin and worry flares in him, hot and boiling like rage but not quite.

“KID… I… Uh… thank you.” Kudo mumbles as he shuffles against the sheets, trying to find a comfortable position. His hands bunch the blankets in his hand, and he looks almost as if he is curling in on himself, even if he’s not moved much.

“Kaito.”

“Huh?”

Kaito leans forward, trademark grin forcing its way onto his face. He says, “I think we’re at the point where you can call me by my name. So… call me Kaito from now on, okay?”

Kudo’s go wide. “I-”

“I’ll call you Shinichi in return,” Kaito continues, nodding to himself and turning around. “So, let’s succeed with this escape of ours, alright?”

“Y-yeah.”


The nurse decides to keep Shinichi in the infirmary overnight, much like Kaito had thought, just to keep watch and make sure the swelling stops without further injury. She hands him some inflammatory drugs, offering him a smile, before leaving them to focus on other patients.

Kaito stays for as long as he can, sitting against the wall. He thinks of different ways of trying to escape, wonders whether Shinichi’s ‘contact’ would be able to get them floor plans, whether they could get him something better to pick locks with than the hair grips that he keeps hidden in his hair.

“The guard,” Kaito says, when he’s certain that the nurse is out of hearing range, “what are the limitations on what we can ask for?”

Shinichi leans forward, glancing over at him. His brows furrow and for a moment, he looks the part of the detective he used to be, eyes narrowed in thought. It’s almost nice to see, Kaito thinks, regardless of the fact he usually hates law enforcement and detectives.

He should re-evaluate that, he decides. It might be that he simply hates Hakuba and has been assuming all over teenage detectives are as stuck up as he is.

“Can’t be metal,” Shinichi croaks, pausing to sip at some water. He winces as he swallows, but otherwise, he doesn’t seem to be in too much pain, “it’s got to be small, nothing that can’t fit in his pocket or under any clothes.”

“Hmm,” Kaito says. If they can’t bring in metal, then guards probably need to go through metal detectors every time they enter the prison. It’s not odd, he himself has to go through some every time he leaves the west workshop to ensure he doesn’t take anything out with him. Not that he has to worry in the evening, when the power is out. “Can he get the prison’s building plans to us?”

Shinichi nods, “It shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Good,” Kaito grins, pumps his fist in the air, “and a pencil.”


48 days until March the 3rd and Oto-san manages to get them both a pencil and some building plans. During this time, Shinichi somehow talks a guard into bringing him a torch - 'For the evenings, because I just want to read some nights’ -  and Kaito doesn’t ask how, because he doesn’t quite want to know what the other prisoner has done to acquire it.

He spends the day jittery, feeling like they shouldn’t be waiting until lights out to look at the plans, even though he knows that they need to make sure the paper doesn’t get confiscated.

In the end, he spends more time outside than he should, bouncing with energy. While Shinichi sits and watches him, he practises acrobatics, reminding himself of the time when he spent days practising front walkovers and dive rolls until his muscles are sore and he’s certain that he can perform them without any failure, like he used to at heists.

He repeats back walkovers until he’s confident that he won’t stumble, before grinning over at Shinichi. When he’s finished, Kaito collapses beside the other detective, closing his eyes and settling his breathing.

“You did gymnastics when you were younger?” Shinichi asks. He seems more relaxed around Kaito now, which is nice, if not a little odd with the countdown over his head.

Kaito hums, “I always had to much energy, apparently. Gymnastics was meant to wear me out.”

Shinichi lets out a dry laugh, “I can’t imagine you without all that energy.”

“You’ve seen me without it,” Kaito sighs, massaging his hands from stones have pressed against skin. Even the best spots in the yard aren’t rock free - he’s lucky that he’s not cut into his hand. “I mean, after that phone call I had.”

He’s still not sure, even after a week of wondering, what Aoko had meant, and while he wants to know how to make things right, every time he thinks back on it, it leaves him wallowing in regret and a strange sense of self-pity. He doesn’t feel any different when he’s acting as KID as opposed to Kaito, and maybe that’s the problem, maybe he’s just too involved to find any answers.

“…Who did you call?” Shinichi asks, hesitancy clouding each word.

“A friend,” Kaito turns his head away, bites on his tongue, “my best friend. She hasn’t really taken well to me being KID.”

An understatement, Kaito knows. He just doesn’t have the words to explain how betrayed Aoko had looked when he’d been dragged away, the ashy pallor of her skin, the way she’d cried that it was another one of KID’s tricks as he’d been forced into the police car, despite his cheeks having been pinched for any masks he could have been wearing.

It had been on that night that Kaito had finally understood why people hated silence - because it’s never just quiet. Maybe no one had said anything inside the police car but it certainly hadn’t been noiseless. His thoughts had exploded, ricochet against every corner of his mind. The had not been a moment in that patrol car where he had not replayed Aoko’s cries.

“I don’t imagine that it’d be an easy thing to accept.” Shinichi says, and Kaito opens his eyes to glance at him, trying to read the emotions across his face - he’s been through the same, Kaito knows, except he’s lucky enough to have a few people who understand.

Or maybe they don’t. He doesn’t know.

“She told me that there’s a difference between Kaito and KID,” Kaito says, sitting up, “but they’re both me, and well… I can’t see things the same way she does.”

Shinichi purses his lips, “some times people see the things they want to see… but it doesn’t necessarily make her wrong either.”

Yes, because that helps.

“I don’t even know why I’m letting it get to me all that much,” Kaito sighs, “it’s not like I’m going to see her again. As soon as we leave this place, I won’t be able to speak to her again - this isn’t something I can come back from.”

For a moment, none of them speak, then Shinichi says, “maybe that’s why you want to know the difference so much, because if you don’t figure it out now… you won’t afterwards.”

Kaito sighs, closes his eyes, and pretends that it’s not stressing him out as much as it is. There’s so much he wants to do - he wants to figure out what Aoko means, he wants to come up with a daring escape - but most of all, he just wants it to be the evening, so they can read over the building plans and take one step forward to being free.

“I don’t know what she wants from me,” Kaito says.

Sometimes it feels like there are more questions than answers, that he’s unable to interpret anything that’s been thrown at him. In the end, the day is not one of beginnings or endings, just a blur of unrest as they trudge through the in between, waiting for their ideas to come to life.

Chapter Text

As soon as the lights are out, Kaito shuffles from his bunk, dropping to the floor. While he pulling a pencil from his pillow case, Shinichi unfolds the building plans, placing it on the cell floor. He holds his torch in his hands, cradling it between his thumb and index finger.

“Okay,” Kaito says, sitting cross legged as he peers over at the plans, “let’s get this started.”

Shinichi gives him a glance, turns the torch on and points it at paper. It’s not a bright light, a low powered torch with batteries Kaito is certain are running out of energy, but it is good enough to see the darker lines.

“How many of the cameras do you remember Shinichi?” Kaito asks, pencil in hand. If they can mark the various cameras and avoid showing up on the video feed, then he’s certain they’ll have a longer time to run before the alarms are triggered - hopefully they’ll be long gone from the prison by then.

Kaito marks the camera’s on the page with his pencil, a faint arrow pointing at the direction if they’re pointing in specific directions. There aren’t too many in their cell block, as far as they’ve seen. The bottom floor has the most, spread out, monitoring the doorway and the staircase upstairs.

“There’s one on our floor,” Shinichi says, “it moves from looking at the staircase to the hallway, every few minutes.”

The prison yard doesn’t have many cameras, they realise - mainly because it’s constantly monitored by guards.  Kaito scrawls what he remembers about the beams they use to check for any people, scribbling the time it takes to get from C-block over to the gate house. If he uses that, he can estimate the time it’ll take to race to other places as well.

“I think you were doing great with your last escape,” Shinichi says, pointing down at the the map, “until you went into the gatehouse.”

Kaito nods. He’d given Shinichi the overview of his previous escape plans, hoping that it would help them with any their new plan. The vent had been a good idea, but from what Shinichi’s seen of the visiting room, it’s far too riddled with cameras to be used again.

“That’s the only actual way out of here though,” Kaito says, squinting at the map. He runs a hand through his hair, resists pulling it out, before shaking his head. It’ll be hard, he knows, after all, the prison’s been made to keep them in, and civilians out.

Not that this has ever stopped Kaito in the past - he wouldn’t have been labelled an ‘escape artist’ if it had.

“Yes there is,” Shinichi says, and he moves his finger to rest on a single building - solitary. “I’m not sure what the camera’s are like inside, I’ve never really bothered to look, but there’s a gate around the back of it.”

Kaito pauses, leans closer to the page. He draws a faint line from C-block over to solitary, wonders how many guards will be inside and whether he’d seen many cameras when he’d been in there. Most of his time had been stuck in his cell, so he hadn’t bothered to be as observant as he should have been.

“It looks like you need to actually go through the building to get there though,” He says, “and we don’t exactly know if we can get through without getting caught.”

Shinichi frowns, moving the torch to double check for any other routes they could take. The entrance and exit of the gatehouse is heavily controlled, cameras focusing on everyone entering the place.

“If I get myself placed into solitary again,” he says, “then I can try and take note of all the cameras I can.”

Jerking back, Kaito turns to him, looking the ex-detective up and down. His lips are pursed, brows furrowed as shakes his head. “That’s not a good idea, and you know it. You’ve been in solitary a lot, right? What’s to stop them from turning around and deciding that they should just leave you in there?”

Pausing,  Shinichi huffs. He clicks the torch off, folding the paper back up, “there’s not much of an option else, is there?”

“I’ll figure it out.” Kaito says, crossing his arms. He climbs back up to his bed, seemingly finished with the plans for the evening. It’s getting late, and they can’t exactly spend the entire evening awake without creating questions from the guards as to why they’re sleep deprived. “I’ve only been in solitary once, so there’s less chance of them keeping me there.”

“I suppose.”

Kaito doesn’t exactly know what he’ll do to get into solitary - another escape would make the guards up their guards, especially if they realise he can easily get out of his cell, and that his first escape wasn’t a fluke. Violence isn’t really an option - if he wants to escape, then he needs to be on the top of his game, can’t be injured.

He’ll figure it out.

He hopes.


“Who did it?”

The following day, Kaito finds that his tongue can’t keep the question in. He wants to know, doesn’t like mysteries, especially the type he needs to solve by himself. He’s not like Shinichi - he doesn’t enjoy living inside his head, musing over things. He needs to be active, needs to be able to work with things, not think about them for too long.

“Who did what?” Shinichi asks.

They’re both walking to the kitchens, afternoon sun beating down on their backs, preparing to wash plates from lunch. Kaito isn’t exactly excited per se, for the work, but at least it gives him something to do.

“Who framed you.” Kaito says, turning to look at his cell mate. “You’re innocent, right? It means someone obviously wanted you in here, do you have any idea who?”

Shinichi doesn’t look at him, and for a moment it is almost as if Kaito can see the barrier he keeps to avoid answering any questions. It’s a shield, keeping his mind in tact, his emotions sealed. Personally, Kaito thinks it’s unhealthy - not that he can point it out, when he does it too.

The other prisoner takes a deep breath. He says, “I have a faint idea.”

It doesn’t sound promising, but at least there’s something he can pursue. Kaito wonders how he will do it, how Shinichi will prove his innocence when they break out. He’s certain that’s what the detective will do - after all, it’s not like he can live the rest of his life on the run, he’s not exactly well suited to something like that.

He still has people to go back to. Shinichi, in that aspect, is nothing like Kaito.

“That’s something at least.” Kaito says, prompting him further. He stares expectantly, raising an eyebrow when he is met with hesitation. “…Shinichi?”

Shinichi turns then, and his expression is grave, despite the smile he tries to plaster to his face. He looks like his mind is faraway, his skin pale. He says, “I’ll tell you when we’re out of here, one day, but right now… I can’t be sure no one won’t be listening.”

It’s dangerous then - possibly a gang, maybe some sort of group operating in organised crime. It’s disappointing, to say the least, but if there’s any risk of people relaying the information on to others…

“On that day,” Kaito says, sticking his hands into his pockets, raising his gaze to look at the sky, “I’ll tell you about Pandora. It’s only fair.”


It starts to bug him though, how little he knows about Shinichi’s circumstances.

He’s innocent - he has to be, Kaito can’t let himself doubt it - but somehow the police came to the wrong conclusion. The police, despite the thoughts of many, aren’t incompetent. Inspector Nakamori and the KID task force weren’t stupid, KID was just good at reading them during heists. He knows that those in division one are similar, they’re smart people, or else they wouldn’t be detectives in the first place.

But they do overlook things. Things that Kaito knows teen detectives would have spotted. And overlooking these things have obviously led them to a fake verdict, leaving an innocent teenager staring at his own death, the noose wrapped around his neck.

If there’s anyway he can change the verdict - if there’s any chance at all, Kaito knows Shinichi will find a way. But… He’s been here for over a year, has been sitting in the same cell, waiting for the guards to apologise and let him go free…

Part of Kaito knows that if Shinichi escapes with him, the other detective will never be free. He will be hunted down until he is caught, and guilty or not of murder, he will still have to carry out a sentence for breaking out of the prison. And after all of that, he’d still be haunted by the voices from within the prison itself, plagued with memories of solitary confinement and the beatings of prisoners.

Another part of Kaito realises that even if Shinichi’s lawfully freed, he’s not going to escape the memories. He’s never going to forget what it feels like to be unable to breath, hands squeezing against his throat, just like Kaito will never forget the moment he first started to crumble, when his closest friend had looked at him like he was a stranger.

But still. Still.

If Kaito can find a way to make things easier for Shinichi, he wants to. He doesn’t know why, maybe it’s because he’s the only decent person in here, maybe it’s because he feels some sort of friendship between them, but he does.

However, there’s not much he can do really.

Only… Only maybe there is.


He stands at the phone box and hesitates.

He waits until he hears a prisoner clear his throat from behind him, and then Kaito presses buttons, holding the phone up to his ear.

And he waits.

The call goes unanswered - Kaito tries again.

This time, they pick up which is good, because honestly, Kaito hadn’t thought that Aoko would pick up after the first phone call.

“Hello?”

“Aoko,” Kaito says, “it’s me, Kaito.”

She’s quiet on the other side of the phone for a moment. Then: “Aoko’s currently eating lunch, this isn’t the best time. Maybe you should phone after school.”

Impatience bleeds through the phone, but Kaito doesn’t blame her. He’s just glad that she hasn’t hung up yet.

“It’s because your at school that I’m phoning,” Kaito says, and he closes his eyes imaging the classroom and times when everything was normal. “I… need a favour actually.”

“A favour?” The words are dry.

“I need you to pass the phone to… Oh my god I can’t believe I’m asking this… I need you to pass your phone to Hakuba.” He pauses, lets out a small sigh, “please.”

“Eh?”

Kaito doesn’t respond, taps his finger against the side of the phone. He waits for Aoko’s response - there’s no shuffling in the background, she’s not moving.

From what Hakuba had told him before, they’re not on good terms, but that could just be a misinterpretation - the Englishman has never been very good at reading people.

“But Hakuba-kun is-”

“You don’t like him anymore? You practically adored him when he was hunting down KID.” His tone is flippant now, an attempt to spur her into action.

He imagines that right now she’s glaring at her phone, imagining it’s him, feeling an overwhelming need to throttle it.

“Yeah, well, that was before…” Aoko sighs - which… isn’t what he’d expected. She’d been livelier when he’d last talked to her, now she just seems worn out. Kaito wants to put it to the fact that it’s only a few more days until the end of the school year, but…

“I’m sorry,” Kaito says, and he means it. He’s sorry for lying, sorry for being the one person she hates over everything else - he’s just… sorry.

Another pause, if he knows Aoko at all, she’s probably biting her lower lip - a terrible habit she’s brought with her since she was a child - trying to find the right words to respond with.

“I’ll pass you over to Hakuba-kun.”

“Thank you.” He says, and he hears shuffling behind him, as Aoko stands. He can hear a sudden questioning of 'Aoko?’ from who he can only assume is Keiko, as she makes her way over to Hakuba.

Aoko’s voice is quiet when she asks, “do you know the difference between the two yet? Between Kaito and KID?”

“Not yet,” Kaito says, “but I promise I’ll figure it out.”

There’s more shuffling in the background, and Kaito hears Hakuba’s alarmed 'Aoko-kun?’ from the background, but all he can focus on is the sad laughter from Aoko as she tells him to hurry up, because she’s not the type who’s going to wait forever.

“Aoko’s passing you over now,” she says, “but she won’t talk to you again until you really do figure it out, okay?”

He doesn’t have time to respond, to agree, before the phone is passed over and Hakuba is questioning who it is.

“When can you next visit the prison?”

Hakuba’s voice is confused, “Kuroba? What?”

“I’ll tell you about the men who shoot at my heists,” Kaito says, “the next time you come to visit.”

There is a bit of hesitation, as if the detective is trying to figure out just what is going on. “What’s in it for you?”

Kaito takes a breath, tries to avoid the anxious feeling festering in his stomach.

“It’s something you’d enjoy actually,” he chirps, faking calmness, “I want you to look into a murder case for me.”

Chapter Text

The days seem to blend into one another until Kaito is woken up early on a saturday morning by other prisoners yelling that they’re getting visitors today.

It’s louder than it usually is, more rowdy, and when Kaito sits up, yawning, he wonders why there are more people excited today.

“Apparently,” Shinichi says, having heard him shift from below, “they’re opening the second visiting room today, and double the prisoners are getting guests.”

Which explains the sheer noise of it all. It’s like words a bouncing off of the walls, getting louder and louder as they echo into the various hallways of C-block. Kaito almost wants to shout at them to be quiet, and to let him think, but he doesn’t exactly want to think at the moment.

He wonders how the day will go - Hakuba had said over the phone that he would be there on the next visiting day, would get his father to sort out the details, since it’s a police issue and he’s going to be the leading consultant on it. Kaito doesn’t care how the detective figures it out, as long as he shows up.

“It’s just like the other visits,” Kaito sighs, “they should just calm down, it’s not anything to scream about.”

Shinichi clicks his tongue against his teeth, tutting, “let them be excited. It’s not like they’ve got much to look forward to.”

It’s true, Kaito guesses. It’s not like most of the people in this place are going to see the outside ever again - the only good part of their lives are their visits, and even then, they’ve got to constantly worry whether they’re visiting orders will be greeted with actual people.

“I take it that girlfriend of yours is visiting today,” Kaito says, and his voice is light, teasing. He doesn’t take much notice in the slight hesitation he receives, is too used to the pauses in their conversation as Shinichi rewires his brain into giving information and not hiding it.

“Yeah,” Shinichi says, and he’s standing up making his way over to the faucet to wash off of his face. “It’s the last time I’m going to send her a visiting order… I can’t… Not anymore.”

Kaito glances at him, tries to think of something to say that will make him feel better, but nothing seems like it’ll be able to fix the hole this prison has caused.

After all, how is he supposed to help wake him up from the nightmare he’s living, when Shinichi’s not even asleep.

He doesn’t know.

“I’m sorry,” he says, lacking the words to the detective back together.

“So am I,” Shinichi says, “but I need to stop thinking that this is something I can come back from, you know?”

Kaito hums - he understands the feeling whole-heartedly, although he thinks it might be easier for him, because he’s used to adopting and throwing away various personalities and personas unlike Shinichi who’s always just been… himself. It’s probably more painful for him, knowing he needs to discard the parts of himself that make him… him.

“I get it,” Kaito says.


The minute he sets foot in the visiting room, standing beside Shinichi, Kaito feels his determination spurring him forwards. He watches his cell mate as he makes his way over to a table, sitting down opposite a brunette who looks similar to Aoko in a startling way that leaves his heart aching.

He stops himself before he starts wallowing, moping over a situation he can’t change. Instead, he makes his way over to his own table, steeling himself as he sits opposite Hakuba, giving him a small nod. They don’t normally let visitors bring things into the visiting room, but the detective is armed with a pen and a notepad, having no doubt prepared questions for him to answer.

Kaito wonders how he’ll respond to the case he puts forward - Shinichi’s case - but decides that thinking about it will get him nowhere. No, he needs to give Hakuba enough information that he’ll have no choice to take the case, simply to get the rest of the story. If it’s the only way that Shinichi can be deemed innocent…

“Hakuba.” Kaito says as he sits down, leaning back in his chair, fake confidence rolling off of him. He needs to remember that he’s the one in charge here, no matter how intense Hakuba gets with his questioning, he’s the one who’s going to walk away a victor. He needs to be - It’s too important for Kaito to walk away with any less than everything.

“Kuroba,” Hakuba says, opening the notebook and looking down at the pages. Kaito is right, there are questions written in the detective’s hand, the writing looking almost like calligraphy. “Do you want to get started?”

“Why yes, Mr detective, I am doing well in here.” Kaito drawls, watching the irritation build in the other teen, “in fact, I think I’m more relaxed than ever, this place does wonders. You should try it.”

Hakuba’s frown shows that he thinks this is not the best plan. “I’ll pass. The questions?”

Crossing his arms and leaning them against the table, Kaito forces a grin onto his face. It’s almost KID worthy, he thinks, which is always good because it shows he’s able to throw himself back into the game. He thinks that he should start practising his vocal range again, should start preparing a back story for some new identities that he needs to use when he finally frees himself.

“No questions,” Kaito says, shaking his head. “Just sit back and let me tell you what I’m willing to talk about, okay?”

Opposite him, the englishman raises an eyebrow. After a few seconds, he nods, clicking his pen. Kaito takes a breath, tries to reassure himself that he can explain, it’s not that difficult to explain, even though he’s been keeping this secret for years.

“The original KID was murdered.” Kaito says, keeping his expression blank, poker face tight over his skin. His voice is uncaring, as if the story doesn’t hurt, doesn’t tear him into pieces every time he remembers his reasoning for becoming KID in the first place. “An organisation wanted him to steal a gemstone for them, but he refused. So they killed him.”

Hakuba scrawls this down onto paper, although Kaito doubts that he’ll forget a single word that is said. The detective’s frown deepens, and when he looks up, he says, “KID disappeared within the same time frame as your father’s death.”

It is not shocking that Hakuba knows this information. Kaito would be offended if the detective hadn’t seen the connection, especially after all of the research and effort Hakuba had put into catching him.

“Yes.” Kaito says. “The organisation is still looking for the gemstone. I want to find it first.”

Present tense, just to emphasise that he’s not given up yet. That he will never stop in his attempt to destroy Pandora, not even if he has been locked up.

“I see.” Hakuba glances up, trying to read Kaito’s expression. After a moment he sighs, pulls at the tie he’s wearing - Why is he always so formal? Why can’t he simply wear informal clothes like everyone else? “Why didn’t you go to the police when you found this out?”

Kaito’s lips purse. “They killed my dad. You really think I was just going to let them get away with it?”

“They wouldn’t have gotten away with it. The police would have arrested them, and they’d have been in here instead of you.”

That’s wrong, Kaito thinks. Why should he have relied on the police force if after eight years they hadn’t solved the case? And now… knowing that they’ve sentenced the wrong person, well - he doesn’t have much confidence in the justice system if he’s being perfectly honest. It seems skewed in the favour of the guilty, a distorted version of truth ruining the lives of the innocent.

“I did what’s right.” Kaito said, and he stares Hakuba down, daring him to argue back. “I don’t quite care about the repercussions.”

He needs to calm down before he tears holes in his own mask. This is a negotiation, he tells himself, information for a favour, and Kaito needs to remain calm if he wants to make any progress.

“What gemstone where they trying to find?” Hakuba asks, and he places his pen down, far more interested in reading his expressions than scribbling down words he has no use for. It’s a question that Kaito isn’t willing to answer. He’ll let the detective take down Snake’s and his organisation, but Kaito isn’t willing to give any leeway on Pandora.

“No.” Kaito shakes his head. “I’ve told you something, now you’ve got to hear me out on my case.”

Another quirked eyebrow.

“I want you to look into the Kudo serial killings.” He says, and for a moment he feels strangely vulnerable, “I want you to find out who’s really responsible for them, because it’s not Kudo Shinichi.”

Is this how Shinichi was feeling when he first told Kaito about his innocence? Because it feels terrible, like something is gnawing at his gut attempting to claw it’s way out. Anxiety clings to his lungs, squeezing air out until he needs to remind himself how to breathe.

But… He needs Hakuba to look into this. They might have never been friends, and honestly, Kaito doesn’t think there is any situation that will ever make them see eye to eye, but he’d be a fool not to admit that Hakuba is a good detective - He will see what the police detectives on the original case had overlooked.

If anyone can prove Shinichi’s innocence, it’s Hakuba, no matter how irritating it is to admit.

“No.”

Kaito’s poker face cracks, and he leans forward, eyes narrowed into a glare. “What do you mean no?”

“I mean no, I will not reopen the Kudo case because of a hunch you have.” Hakuba replies, closing his notebook. The emotion in his eyes has shuttered, blocking off any attempts for Kaito to try and read his thoughts. All he can read is that this is a topic the englishman does not want to breach, something he is unwilling to talk about.

Well, Hakuba can go to hell. Kaito isn’t going to step back, this is something that he’s going to keep pushing until the other man relents. He’s not willing to ignore this, not right now.

“I’m not asking you to reopen it,” Kaito says, trying for a reasonable approach. “All I’m asking is for you to look over the case notes, because I’m sure if you do, you’ll find something that everyone else overlooked.”

Hakuba’s glare is like fire, and it makes Kaito feel like he is burning. He doesn’t know why the detective has suddenly had such a change of mood - doesn’t understand why the detective is suddenly so defensive. It goes against everything he knows about the englishman. It’s just… not like him.

“Kudo-kun did it.” Hakuba stills. “He committed those murders, no matter what you’d like to think.”

Kaito picks up on the honorific immediately, leaning further forward until he’s certain he’s invading the other’s personal space, eyebrows raised. “You know Shinichi?”

Hakuba glances away, his teeth biting into his lip. It’s not a habit Kaito has seen often, although he has noticed in the past that sometimes Hakuba’s bottom lip is raw with cuts where he’s bitten through skin, stress making it a battleground made of blood and tension.

“I don’t think anyone actually knew Kudo Shinichi… not really. But, we occasionally consulted with one another on particularly difficult cases…”

There is something unsaid there. Something that Kaito reads into before he can force himself not to - the revelation burns him more than fire ever could, scalding him. He says, “you two were friends, weren’t you?”

When Hakuba turns back to him, regret blooms in his eyes, his teeth clenched.

“Kudo-kun did it. I’ve looked over the evidence time and time again, but it always leads to him. Kuroba, if there was even a shred of proof that he isn’t the killer, I’d have found it. Don’t you understand, Kudo-kun is responsible, all he’s done is manipulate you.”

Kaito stills, “I know he didn’t do it. I know.

“No,” Hakuba breathes, deflating against his seat. He shakes his head, his hands clenched into fists by his sides, “you don’t.”

He thinks of Shinichi, of the way he views justice and punishment, of the bruises that scar his neck, faded but not quite healed. The small smiles and his hesitance to open up, to even talk about the murder scene. It doesn’t fit the image Kaito has of a serial killer - Shinichi doesn’t fit the profile of a serial killer, has a completely different personality.

He has morals.

“Just look over it again will you?” Kaito leans back, glares at the detective. This is why they could never get along - Hakuba always believes in his own theories, is far too stubborn to give them up, but he doesn’t believe in the ideas of others. Not always.

It makes it worse that they’d been friends.

“It’s a waste of time,” Hakuba says, “Kudo-kun is guilty, and he’s just manipulating you. Just like he’s manipulated Ran-san and Hattori-kun. Just like he tried to manipulate me. There is no evidence disputing it, Kudo-”

It is always the simple things, Kaito believes, that sets people off the edge. It is not until he is falling, emotions overwhelming him, that he realises he’s leapt off of the edge without his glider, staring down at a void that’s pulling him in, further and further.

“Did you know they’re putting him on death row.” Kaito says, and his voice is a whisper. They both have to strain to hear it. “They’re going to kill him, where’s the justice in that.”

“Kuroba-”

Kaito slams his hands against the table, glancing up. His sight is blurry, and he has to blink back tears, because he is so done with this place, with life constantly punishing people who don’t deserve it. His father should be alive. He should be at school with Aoko. Shinichi shouldn’t have to die for someone else’s actions.

“He’s innocent and they’re going to kill him.”

Hakuba flinches, almost as if he hadn’t know. Except, Hakuba always seems to know everything, so he’s obviously been trying to forget it. From the corner of his eye, Kaito can see that the guards have turned to him, pointing him out as a potential loose thread, someone who’s at risk of starting trouble.

“If you don’t look into this case, then you’re sending an innocent man to his death,” Kaito cries, voice raised, growing louder and louder with every word until he’s practically shouting. Behind him he can hear the guards moving towards their table, each of their steps like thunder. Well, if they are thunder, then Kaito is lightening.

“It’s not like that-”

Kaito pulls himself to his feet when it becomes too unbearable to sit across from Hakuba and pretend that things are okay. “And for what? Because you’re too proud to look back over things and see whether you’ve overlooked something? Because you don’t want your original deduction to be wrong? That you’ve been wrong this entire time?”

“He is guilty!”

“No he’s not,” Kaito says, and no mask can hide the emotions flowing through him not. Tears burn his cheeks, and his ears ring with every word from Hakuba’s mouth. “He is you’re friend, and he’s innocent.

Hands pull him back from the table, pulling him back from under his arms, restraining him. Kaito takes no notice.

“He’s your friend. And he’s innocent.” Kaito cries. “They’re going to hang him and you won’t double check, you’re just going to let them bury him even though he’s done nothing wrong.”

Hakuba’s usually rigid posture deflates, even as the guards pull him backwards, even as they warn him to calm down or else he’ll find himself in solitary.

Kaito feels himself break - the pressure is too much, and this prison is draining all of the life from him. He cannot handle it, cannot deal process what is happening.

“He was your friend, and he’s going to die, because you won’t help him.”

Chapter Text

Seventeen months ago:


“I didn’t do it.”

Saguru puts a hand to his forehead, rubbing at the creases in his forehead. He’s tired, having been working this case for over a month now, his eyes heavy in their sockets, begging him to rest. The only thing however, is that Hakuba Saguru does not have time for sleep.

In between attending KID heists, school work and trying to prove the innocence of one of the only people he has ever truly gotten along with, it is difficult to relax, to rest.

Saguru doesn’t quite want to sleep if it means waking up to this. The school work is easy - he almost thinks he should skip class for a while until everything returns to normal and Kudo-kun goes back to being a regular high schooler.

“I know you didn’t,” Saguru says, staring across at Kudo, smiling in what he hopes is a reassuring manner. It has never once crossed his mind that the other teen is actually guilty, he won’t believe it - not ever - because it’s just not the type of person Kudo is. “And I’ll prove it.”

From the cell he is being held in, awaiting a trial that Saguru will make sure ends with an innocent verdict, Kudo grins. He doesn’t look nervous, probably because he knows that he has done nothing wrong, that there is nothing for them to convict him of.

It’s just circumstantial evidence that has been found at each of the murder scenes. Kudo Shinichi is not a murderer, all Saguru needs to do is prove it.

“I know you will,” Kudo says, sitting back against the wall. “I believe in your skills as a detective.”

Saguru nods, and when he leaves, it is with determination weighing down on his shoulders, feeling almost as if it is the world he needs to carry. He feels like Atlas, holding the world up, the strain against it hurting but something only he can do.

He does not visit Kudo Shinichi again.


“Ran.”

Mouri Ran looks up, glances at Shinichi as he sits opposite her, and smiles.

There is a sadness lurking behind his eyes as he smiles back, something that’s only developed since she’s started visiting him, but Ran tries not to overthink it. Instead, she leans forward, takes his hand, and prepares for another visit.

(She attempts to forget that her visits are numbered but it is a difficult task.)

“Shinichi,” she replies, rubbing circles on his palms, “how are you doing?”

“I’m okay,” a lie, “this place is bearable, you know?”

There had been a time when Shinichi had not lied to her, but Ran knows that this is not the truth anymore. For someone who’d once valued the truth, he gives her nothing but falsehoods, words designed to offer reassurance where there is none.

Ran fills in the gaps: Shinichi is not doing well, and he is not coping.

“I’m glad.” She doesn’t call him out on it though, if it makes him feel better to know that she is reassured by his words, then she’d let him tell her a million lies. As long as she knows the truth, how he is really doing. At first, when he’d shut her out, she’d been left with a bitterness in her mouth, betrayal stinging her over and over again like a particularly malevolent wasp.

Then she’d managed to make him cave through phone calls and letters, until he’d finally sent out her first visiting order. She’d been uncertain at first whether he’d done what they’d accused him of, but the moment she had seen him, she had known.

Known that he was innocent.

“Tou-san’s still working on your case,” Ran says, searching for things to say.

It’s always difficult trying to find what they can and cannot talk about. School and life outside, no matter how much Shinichi asks, isn’t something she can go into. She cannot bring herself to remind him of all the things he is missing.

“He is…?” Shinichi says, and his smile flickers, almost as if he is battling against a frown. “He won’t find anything, you know. Not now.”

Ran knows that it’s unlikely that after a year they’ll find any new leads on Shinichi’s case, but she and her father haven’t given up - won’t give up on it. Even if her dad has tried to talk her out of looking into it further, he’s never told her to stop, and he’s never put the case files back onto the shelves.

“We will.” Ran says, although she can hear her own uncertainty. It’s not an easy case, someone has been thorough in making him seem culpable. “It’s just taking time, leave it to us, okay?”

Shinichi grimaces. And Ran realises it’s going to be one of those visits. One where he tries to push her away again - he’s never been good at fooling her, maybe to others he is unreadable, but Ran has spent far too long by his side to be fooled by pretend grins and empty words.

“I want you to drop the case.” Shinichi says, and Ran has to pretend it does not hurt as much as it does. It leaves a gaping wound in her chest, as if he has torn her heart out and is squeezing it before her eyes, waiting for her to crumble.

“I won’t.” Her voice is firm. They’ve had this conversation countless times and frankly, Ran’s tired of it. She wants to have nice conversations, wants to hear about him, the book he’s most recently read - she misses when he would gush over Sherlock Holmes to her.

Now instead of being faced with one truth, she is subjected to several lies that she has to sift through herself. This is not how their relationship is meant to work - and it hurts to see that it has deteriorated so much.

“Ran.” Shinichi says, “Please. You need to just let it go. There is no evidence that will prove my innocence.”

He pauses, chokes on words, before steeling himself. Well, Ran thinks, she’s not a Karate champion for nothing, she’s capable of taking whatever hits are frown at her. She can deflect them and she’s not afraid to throw them back.

“I did it.” He practically spits the words out, as if the words burn his tongue as he forms them, poison sizzling against muscle. “I killed those people, so stop trying to prove that I didn’t.”

Ran leans forward, and cups his cheek, and smiles. It’s so like him, she thinks, to tear himself apart simply because he thinks it will benefit her. She just hopes that he can understand, why she won’t let him hurt himself like that.

“Shinichi,” she stares into his eyes, keeping his gaze until he glances away, “I trust you, and I always will. But if you think you can convince me that you committed a crime like this, I can only say that I will never believe it.”

Shinichi pulls at his collar, and for a moment Ran sees purple bruises, many of them fading into a splotchy yellow. It makes her feel slightly sick, makes her want to grab onto his sleeve and drag him home so that he doesn’t have to deal with whatever is hurting him anymore.

“You are wasting your time here,” Shinichi says, “you should be outside trying to move on.”

There’s only two problems with that, Ran thinks.

Firstly, she can’t leave Shinichi behind, it’d be impossible to cut him out of her life, not after all of these years watching him out of the corner of her eye, not after loving him for this long.

Secondly - she doesn’t want to move on. Not unless she really has to.

“I’m not leaving you behind.” Ran says.

“Don’t be an idiot,” Shinichi narrows his eyes, turns away from her. “It’s only going to hurt you more if you keep coming to visit.”

She does not care much for the pain she might feel. Ran would rather see the two of them through to the end, even if it means turning her heart into dust, emotions aflame as if they’ve been set alight with gasoline.

Ran does not have time to respond, not before the shouting starts. It’s loud, and when Ran turns her head, eyes widening, she realises that the man looks scarily like Shinichi. It does not take long for her to add a name to the face - Kuroba Kaito, phantom thief KID - and it takes significantly less time to realise that he is bleeding, raw emotion replacing blood in the room.

“Kaito…” Shinichi mumbles, from behind her, and when Ran glances at him, she realises that he has gone pain. He is wincing.

He was your friend and he’s innocent. He’s going to die.

KID says the words that Ran has been too scared to say - Shinichi is going to die. She’s known since his trial, has known that there has been a countdown over his head, the number lessening with every passing day, but she has never let herself vocalise it. The moment she does, it becomes real.

“I am going to die.” Shinichi says once the shouting has stopped. He leans back against his chair, pulling his hand away from her. Ran flinches, scratches at one of her arms in an attempt to calm herself down. “There is nothing you can do that will change that.”

“I’ll get mum to appeal against the death penalty, we’ll get rid of it.” Ran tries. Desperation leaks into her voice, and maybe she is crying but she doesn’t necessarily think tears make her weak, they just make her honest with herself. “I won’t ever let you die.”

Shinichi hesitates. “Your mother is a brilliant lawyer, but she won’t be able to change my verdict. Please Ran.”

“I can’t just give up-”

“Listen Ran,” Shinichi leans forward, and it is almost as if he’s trying to memorise every part of her - the colour of her eyes, the laugh lines that have worn away at her cheeks. “I can’t keep this facade up, I can’t keep sitting down in this room and pretending it’s not going to happen, so please, let me give you this.”

She doesn’t quite feel like he’s giving her anything.

“I don’t want your last memory of me being one that’s painful, okay?” He continues, “so let’s enjoy this visit, and leave it like this. Let’s end it all on a happy note.”

But here is the thing, Ran doesn’t quite feel like this is a happy note.

“Okay.” She says anyway. She wipes away tears, and forces a smile on her face. “Yes, let’s just enjoy ourselves today.”


When the visiting times draw to an end, the clocks ticking and ticking, a feeling similar to doom festers in Ran’s stomach. Shinichi glances up at her and his smile is bittersweet, an expression that reminds her just how much she both hates and loves him.

“I love you,” she says, and means it, even if it is quiet and he doesn’t hear it. She doesn’t repeat herself, not even when he questions it. Instead, she tells him that she’s never going to stop missing him, no matter how much time passes.

“Thank you,” Shinichi says, after a moment, “for giving up on me.”

Ran wants to laugh. She wants to tell him that she is not giving up. Not on him, never on him. Even if she cannot see him, even if he thinks she has, she will never stop trying to prove that he truly is good.

Instead, she nods.

She will let him think what he wants. If it makes things easier on him, then for now she will be the one who has finally given into his request, who has finally decided it is time to take a step and face reality. Ran does not tell him that this is not the way it is supposed to end.

“We’ll meet again,” Ran says, as she stands up. She grants him one last smile, “someday.”

Their fingers touch for a second, and then, there is only empty space between them.


It is not until she is outside that Ran dissolves into tears.

She falls to her knees on the grass and sobs until tears are staining her cheeks and the back of her hands. In the back of her mind she knows that she needs to catch the next shuttle bus down to the train station, but it doesn’t quite register in her mind - it is not urgent.

“Ran-san?”

The voice is male, and she recognises it, how couldn’t she? Turning up to look at him, Ran wipes away her tears and takes the hand that is offered to her.

“Saguru-kun.”

Saguru smiles at her. It’s not mocking, or pitiful, nor is it very happy. It’s the smile of a man who has realised that being weighed down by problems leads to nothing but aching bones and crushed spirits.

“I’m on my way to the train station,” he says, and he points to a car, driver sat in the front. “If you’re headed in the same direction, you’re welcome to join me. You don’t have to wait for the bus.”

Ran opens her mouth, readies herself to refuse. “I coul-”

“Actually,” Saguru interrupts before she can turn him down, “I was hoping that we could go over Kudo-kun’s case. I feel like maybe we’ve overlooked something.”

Chapter Text

The first three days of solitary confinement make Kaito feel as if he’s going insane. The silence and the lack of stimulation leaves him feeling jittery, as if the walls are moving in on him. He moves between feeling overwhelmed by his own emotions, and an emotional flatness where he just feels like there is no hope.

It does not take him long to understand why people label solitary as psychological torture. Not with how quickly it has led to his unravelling, not with how loneliness has gripped into his skin and is pulling him under the water, drowning him.

“I need to calm down,” Kaito says, and he’s not sure why it seems so much more difficult to deal with this time, but solitary is taking the life from him. “It’s not going to be like this for too long.”

There is no response - but in solitary, there never is. He spends 23 hours waiting for the hour when they will take him out of his tiny cell and into the solitary exercise room, where he can use energy that springs back to life at the sight of people.

“Yes,” Kaito tells himself, moving from the bed he’s been lying on, moving to the small window to glance out at the hallway. All he sees is grey walls, and it makes him miss the colour white - he wonders if this is what he’s been succumbed to, his suit dirtied and grey, never white again. Maybe he should just become colourless. “I’m only here for a little longer.”

He won’t let it get him down, Kaito thinks, that his life is falling apart. It’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things - and he’s got something to work towards. A goal that’s weighing on him, something he needs to do. He needs to escape, get pandora and then he can let himself wallow in self-pity.

When they try to let him go back to his cell at the end of his third day in solitary, Kaito realises that he hasn’t figured out the placement of the camera’s in solitary. He needs to figure it out, he thinks, before he goes back - won’t be able to face Shinichi again if he comes back empty handed.

“Will you let go?” He snarls, at the guards when they open his cell door and try to drag him out. He shrugs them off, gets halfway down the corridor, before they react to his hostility, lifting him and moving him backwards. It gives him enough time to memorise four of the cameras.

“How about you calm down,” one guard mumbles when he kicks out at another’s leg. Kaito doesn’t know why he feels so annoyed, but he is, and he doesn’t care if he’s lashing out. He’s thrown back into a cell, which… isn’t exactly going to help him calm down… but at least it’s gives him a second look at the cameras when they let him out again.


By day five, Kaito doesn’t think that solitary confinement is driving him insane. He knows that it is.

At first he doesn’t quite catch on. He doesn’t think too much on the fact that he’s talking to himself, it’s not like he’s hearing voices in his head, he’s just creating random conversations with himself, straining his voice to talk in different vocal ranges, imitating people he’s heard before, mixing different voices to create his own characters.

The conversations mean nothing - although he does rehearse certain memories that he needs clear in his mind by the time he leaves. He reminds himself of the location of the cameras he’s notices, marking them on an imaginary map.

“I’m bored,” he whines to himself, in his normal voice. Then, switching to a more nasal voice, a mix between Akako and Keiko, Kaito says, “then do something to entertain yourself.”

“Like what?” He asks, and leans back against his bed. It feels like he’s leaning against wood, the bunk rigid, leaving his back aching.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Kaito responds, closing his eyes. There is attitude to his voice, and it morphs as he says, “how about me?”

Aoko.

“Not right now,” Kaito says. And he’s growling under his breath. He doesn’t want to talk to Aoko even if it’s just him mimicking her. “I’m not thinking about you right now.”

A lie, because if he wasn’t, then he wouldn’t be speaking with her voice, wouldn’t be having a conversation with a fake version of her. He’s taken her identity before, has disguised as her - and well, part of being KID is being able to see what makes a person them, so his imitation of her is similar to what Aoko is usually like.

“You are,” not-Aoko says, and with his eyes closed, it’s almost like she’s there beside him, sitting at the end of the bunk. “You can’t stop thinking about it can you. The difference between you and KID.”

“Later,” Kaito says, his voice tired and strained. “I’ll think about it later.”

“Why not now?”

“I don’t have time to think about you right now Aoko,” Kaito says. “I need to focus more on the escape, on leaving this place for good. I can’t think this over.”

“You promised you would,” not-Aoko says, and his voice echoes loudly, ringing in his ears. “You promised you would figure it out.”

“I know.” Kaito grits his teeth.

“Then figure it out.” If it was actually Aoko, and not just him, Kaito imagines that she’d be wielding a mop, or another long stick, readying herself to hit him with it. She’d always been pretty violent like that, had expressed embarrassment and anger by trying to beat him. “The difference is easy to find.”

“Then tell me.”

“Aoko doesn’t want to.”

“Just tell me!” Kaito shouts, opening his eyes and pushing himself to face her. Except… she’s not there - he should have known this because he’s literally just been imitating her voice.

How had he forgotten so quickly. He doesn’t know.

It feels like he’s forgetting all of the truly important things inside this cell.

“This place is driving me insane.” He mutters to himself, and runs a hand through his hair, wondering whether the information on the cameras is worth the extra two days in solitary, whether it is worth the mental torture he is subjecting himself to. “I need to get out of here.”


After six days in solitary confinement, Kaito feels like fresh air on his neck and believes that he’s found his way to heaven.

It’s dark when they take him from the cells, approaching lights out in the evening, but Kaito doesn’t let the fact that the day is coming to an end bother him. The wind feels like freedom, and while he knows he’s still bound by rules and prison cells, simply walking beside others makes him feel like the world is not weighing down on his shoulders.

Shinichi is waiting in their cell, has obviously heard Kaito chattering to the guards - (God, it’s nice to just talk to someone who’s not himself) - for him when they open the cell doors. He doesn’t speak until the cell door is closed behind Kaito, waits until the guards have left them behind.

Kaito takes a step forward and looks for any new bruises. He sees none, but he doubts the other prisoner hasn’t gained any. It’d be too optimistic, and being anything other than realistic in prison is practically labelling yourself a fool.

“Everything okay?” Shinichi asks when Kaito makes his way to his bunk, pulling the pencil from his pillow case. He doesn’t stop to look back at the ex-detective as he pulls the building plans out from beneath Shinichi’s blanket, unfolding it.

“I’m good,” Kaito says, although he doesn’t quite feel like himself at the moment. He rolls the pencil in his hand, and frowns, “I found out about the cameras, but… I just really hate Solitary dude.”

A hum echoes Shinichi’s agreement. Kaito wonders how the other teen reacts whenever he’s in solitary, whether he gets overly emotional like Kaito, or whether he grows solemn and quiet. It’s difficult, and half of him wants to ask if Shinichi has ever convinced himself that there are people there with him.

He doesn’t ask, because he doesn’t want the answer to be no.

“Ah,” Shinichi says, “yeah, solitary isn’t… the best place to be.”

Kaito nods, marks the cameras he’d taken notice of while in solitary onto the map, before leaning back and taking in the view. Within the solitary wing, there’s not really any blind spots he can find - he reckons that they’ll have to risk it, and get through the wing as quickly and out of the building before people can respond.

It will be difficult, but he reckons if they have some way of getting away from the prison quickly, then the escape will still be possible.

“We can try this soon,” Kaito says, turning back to Shinichi and offering a small smile. “We’ll need your guard to get some clothes for us to change into - because we can’t leave this place behind in prison clothes. Can he do that?”

Shinichi pauses, but after a moment, he says, “he could leave them down in the laundry room, yeah.”

“Good,” Kaito says, and he squints down at the building plans, trying to think over everything they’ve written down. There’s still more they need to plan - it seems like they’ll never finish planning their escape, and he finds it irritating.

“Put that away for today,” Shinichi says after five minutes of staring down at the building plans. “We’ll pick it up for now, give yourself a break.”

“I haven’t done anything for almost a week,” Kaito protests as Shinichi moves the paper away, shoving it back under his blanket. The other detective reaches into his own pillow case, tugging at his shirt.

“You’ve been surviving solitary,” Shinichi says, “it takes a lot out of you. We’ll deal with this tomorrow, but for now - catch.”

He turns quickly, and Kaito only manages to catch what he throws over to him because of his fast reflexes. Looking down, he lets out a small gasp, plastic packaging grabbing his attention, joy overwhelming him as it bubbles up out of his chest.

“Playing cards.”

Kaito lets out a small laugh, ripping through plastic to open the seal. The feel of playing cards against his fingertips is euphoric and it makes him feel like Kuroba Kaito again, not just an inmate. It makes him feel like the magician he claimed to be.

“Yes.” Shinichi says, and when Kaito looks over to him, the ex-detective is smiling, “I had Oto-san bring them in. You said you like card tricks, right?”

“I love them,” Kaito breathes, picking the jokers and premium cards out of the pack. “Shinichi you genius.”

He shuffles cards with a passion, thinking over the card tricks he’s taught himself. There are some that he thinks Shinichi will see through immediately, but some - some he thinks will fool even the legendary ‘detective of the east’.

When he turns to Shinichi, he’s certain there are stars in his eyes. He says, “watch this, I’m going to blow your mind.”

Shinichi crosses his arms. He grins. “You can try.”

Kaito beckons Shinichi forwards, waits until the other detective is sat opposite him before dropping all of the cards onto the floor. With his hands, he messes them up like a child, watching as Shinichi frowns. Collecting the cards again, Kaito splits the pack into two, spreads one half out face up, the other half face down.

Then, he cuts them into each other, so that every other card is face up, the entire pack shuffled in a way that Kaito thinks Shinichi will find irritating once the card trick is over.

“Okay,” Kaito says, collecting them in his hand and spreading them out for Shinichi to see. “I want you to take two cards out.”

Shinichi raises and eyebrow, but takes two cards. He glances at them both, before turning them around to show Kaito at the other boys request. The 3 of clubs and Jack of spades stare at him, and Kaito smiles.

“And now, I want you to put them back in the pack, wherever you want, face up or down it doesn’t matter!”

“Okay…” Shinichi says, placing the cards back. He places one upright, the other facing down.

And now, time for his trick. Kaito places the pack down, places his hand over the cards and gives Shinichi a grin. He says, “wouldn’t it be cool if these cards just… flipped themselves over and left only your two cards face down?”

Hesitating, Shinichi’s lips twist into a smile. “It’s not possible.”

Kaito glances down, lets out a laugh. Spreads the cards out and watches Shinichi’s expression when he realises that all of the cards have been flipped like Kaito had said.

“Uh,” the magician laughs, “I’m in the business of making the impossible happen thanks.”

Shinichi leans forward, frowns and says, “again.”

It’s the first time Kaito has truly laughed in this place. This, he reminds himself, is what happiness is like. 

“I’ve never seen anyone get so intense about my magic tricks.” He laughs, shuffling the cards again.

Chapter Text

March bleeds into April.

Even though he knows days aren’t getting shorter, and that time isn’t set to fast forward, Kaito feels like each day passes at a much quicker rate than the last. Most of the time he tries to forget about it, focusing on his magic tricks - Shinichi’s discovered a majority of them, but is still pondering over the more complex tricks - to avoid actively thinking, but some days it’s difficult.

A week passes from his days in solitary, and there are 29 days left until 3rd of May. It makes him feel antsy, especially when he thinks about all the things they haven’t planned.

“You’re sure he’s able to leave clothes in the laundry room?” Kaito asks when they are cleaning dishes after lunch, polishing rice bowls until he’s satisfied they are truly clean. “We can’t mess this up.”

From beside him, Shinichi lets out a sigh. He’s been dealing with Kaito’s worrying for days now, and frankly, it’s surprising that he hasn’t snapped yet. Kaito sees it sometimes, irritation lurking behind his eyes, anger blooming in his pupils.

He says, “Oto-san says he can get them in there, quit fretting over it.”

Sometimes Kaito thinks that he cares more about this escape more than Shinichi does. Which is stupid, because if Kaito is caught all he needs to suffer through is a few more days of solitary - he shudders at the thought - whereas Shinichi will…

Kaito doesn’t even want to think about it.

There’s a lot he doesn’t want to think about these days.

“But what about when we’re outside the prison, huh?” Kaito asks, and he turns to Shinichi wide-eyed, questions scalding his tongue, burning against his throat every second he doesn’t ask them. “We’re in the middle of nowhere, how are we supposed to avoid capture if all the guards have to do is drive down the road and drag us back?”

Another sigh, “I told you I’ll figure that bit out myself, leave it to me.”

It doesn’t exactly fill Kaito with confidence. He needs to have a more fully formed plan, the thief thinks, before they can try further. His heists were always planned fully in advance - and he’d had back up plans for his backup plans. How is he supposed to function with only one plan, and a barely formed one at that?

“Listen,” Shinichi says, “you don’t have anyone on the outside right? So leave that part to me.”

Ouch, Kaito thinks, and he places a hand over his heart as if wounded. “How dare you.”

“I’m right though, aren’t I?” Shinichi stops scrubbing at a bowl with rice stuck to the bottom, placing it back onto the counter and turning to face Kaito completely. “You don’t have anyone who can help you on this.”

Refusing to look at the ex-detective, Kaito picks up the abandoned bowl, washing it properly before placing it on the drying rack. There is always Jii, but it’d be unfair to bring the old man back into all of the trouble, and while Kaito knows that Jii wouldn’t mind helping, harbouring two escaped convicts, he can’t bring himself to ask for it.

“Not on this,” he sighs, “no. But… It makes me nervous not having the full plan, alright? We’ve got less than a month left. Who’re you getting the help from, one of your father’s contacts?”

Shinichi smiles, turns back to soapy water, the sleeves of his overalls soaked with water as he drops his hands back into the water, rubbing at dirty splotches of food on plates. Shaking his head he says, “not my father’s contacts, no. Someone we can trust.”

For a moment there is hesitation, then Kaito feels like he’s being shot through the chest with how pained he suddenly feels. “…We can’t trust your guard? Or your father?”

Shinichi disbelief is echoed by the furrowing of his brows and the ‘o’ shape of his mouth.

“W-wait, no we can! I didn’t mean it like that-”


When the countdown is at 27 days, Kaito comes to the conclusion that he might be paranoid. It’s not crippling, he doesn’t think, although it does leave him feeling considerably more jumpy as the clock ticks, time counting down to the inevitable.

He takes his frustration out on his playing cards, shuffling them over and over, performing trick after trick. Instead of thinking further on stressful things, he decides that it’s better to count his cards, creating his own stories with the numbers of the cards that show up.

“What are you doing?” Shinichi asks after watching him set down cards on the floor, slamming them down as if he is playing a game of snap, desperate to be the winner.

Kaito picks up his cards, shuffling them in his hands. “Just telling stories with the cards. Like this.”

He places the first card down, the ace of clubs, and begins to tell the story, “first there was just a boy,” he places down the next card - the king of hearts, “who idolised his father very much.”

The three of hearts, “for a long time, they boy lived along his parents, and was happy. His father taught him how to be a magician, and he taught him the importance of a poker face.” - The eight of spades - “It was a perfect life until the boy had to bury his father.”

Across from him, Shinichi takes a deep breath. His voice wavers as he says, “Kaito-”

Kaito continues with the story, because for some reason, he feels like it just needs to be told. He needs to tell the real story to someone, not one of the many versions, but the truth. For once, he doesn’t want to sugarcoat the truth, twisting it into a pretty, harmless lie.

“The family of three quickly became two.” Kaito places the three of clubs down, the two of hearts following in quick succession. He lets out a breathless laugh, dropping the jack of diamonds down. “But the boy never let it get him down, because he was always surrounded by people.”

Another ace - the ace of hearts. “He only had one close friend though, you know how it is, surrounded by people but still alone somehow. Except for that one person.” The two of clubs, “she was always kind, even though the two bickered all the time.”

“You don’t have to tell me this,” Shinichi says, when Kaito pauses, glancing away. It doesn’t stop him from dropping the next card - the eight of clubs - onto the pile he has already dropped. It glides through the air, weightless, reminding Kaito of the times he’s jumped carelessly from rooftops trusting that he’ll catch himself.

“Eight years passes before the boy learned the truth.” He places the king of spades down, “his father had been murdered." 

Another ace, spades this time. "Alone, the boy decided that he needed to do something about it. Get back at the people who were responsible.” The two of clubs. “So he split himself in two and dressed in white so those people could see that he’d never hide from them.”

He leans back, and grimaces. No poker smile can hide the nostalgia he feels telling the story, although he’s not sure whether he’s fond of the memories. Proud of them, maybe, because he’s never once looked back on his decisions and thought he should have reacted different.

Only… Kaito doesn’t really spend much time looking back - not when it leads to turning back and reminiscing on times when he was just Kuroba Kaito. He doesn’t look back on then, because he doesn’t want to think about how things would have turned out if he’s stayed as just Kaito.

“That’s it?” Shinichi asks after silence blossoms within their cell. “How does the story end?”

Kaito shuffles his remaining cards, spreading them out in his hands, “the story isn’t finished yet. I’ve still got a lot of cards left.”


“Who do you keep going to see?” Kaito asks when there are only three weeks left until May 3rd. He lifts himself up, leaning on his elbows, staring over at Shinichi as he is led out of the cell again. He’s had two visits in the past week, and Kaito’s not even sure how it’s possible because there haven’t been any visiting days this week. “I thought you stopped sending out visiting orders?”

Shinichi turns back as one of the guards grabs onto his arm, pulling him further out into the corridor as the close the cell door.

“It’s not a visit like that,” he says, “some people don’t need visiting orders remember. I’ve just got a very persistent man psychoanalysing me.”

He winks, before adopting that steely expression he usually does whenever he’s around anyone other than Kaito.

The thief leans back on his bed, shuffles his playing cards, flicking through his fingers until he’s certain he shouldn’t know where the aces he’s just been fiddling with are. (He does).

Kaito bites back a smile.


“I’ve got it sorted out.” Shinichi says when he gets back that day. “The getting away when we’re outside the prison’s walls. So now we just need to tweak the rest of the plan and we should be fine.”

Kaito crosses his arms and gives him a look, but Shinichi doesn’t offer him an explanation.

“…Shinichi.”

“Listen,” the ex-detective says, “it’s all planned, but I really can’t talk about it here. If anyone finds out the person who’s helping out is involved in this break out, there will be serious consequences for him. So… Just trust me on this bit, okay?”

“Is there anything I can do?” Kaito asks, and he waits, uncertain of what answer he will get.

The only response he gets is a shake of the head. Kaito tries not to let it get to him, tries not to let the uncertainty wash over him, drowning him, and holds on instead to the thread of hope he’s been granted. He reminds himself that his plan is gifting him with something he’s recently started to think was an impossible dream: freedom.

“Just trust me.” Shinichi says.

At this point, Kaito thinks he’d be a fool not to.


“Not long now,” Shinichi says when they are working in the laundry room, two days left of April. He’s a mixture of excited and nervous, has been as the days have raced past, too quickly for them to just sit back and relax.

“Yeah.” Kaito breathes. The same feeling spreads through him, a strange hybrid of his stomach churning and his heart lifting. He feels as if something is fluttering inside his stomach, but he’s not actually sure whether it’s butterflies or wasps getting ready to sting into his, spreading anxiety through his bloodstream like poison.

Or maybe they are bees, ready to lay down their lives to give him short bursts of adrenaline when the night finally arrives.

Kaito turns to Shinichi, lets out a small laugh and says, “I can’t wait.”


And then, after what feels like a lifetime of waiting, the calendar finally reaches May the 3rd.

Chapter Text

May the third.

If not for their plans, it would be an average day. And for the most part, it is.

Kaito wakes up, washes his face and rakes his fingers through his hair in an attempt to look presentable, like every other day. While they’re waiting for the guards to open their cell doors, Kaito pulls the hair grips he’s had for months now from his hair, placing them in his pillow case.

Then, they go down to the showers, wash, and ready themselves for the day.

“Don’t stand out today,” Shinichi says when they trudge down from the showers to the laundry room. Kaito can spot two out of place bundles at the back of the room, beneath other blankets - not as neatly folded, and feels relief spread through him.

Oto-san has delivered with the change of clothes. Kaito memorises where the bundle is, calculates how many steps it will take from the laundry shoot when they jump. With a deep breath, he focuses on the fresh laundry he needs to give out to other prisoners, making sure to avoid leading anyone’s attention to the bundle.

“I know what I’m doing,” Kaito says. He wants to remind the other prisoner that he’s the one capable of blending in anywhere, has worn so many faces and acted out so many personalities that they come off as real, but he knows it’s just Shinichi’s way of sorting through his own nerves. “I’ll be good.”

Good isn’t a word that Kaito tends to use. He thinks that a lot of people get it mixed up with doing the right thing and claim that the two are interchangeable. But for the sake of their plan, Kaito has to forgo what is right - his honesty, his own feelings - and just… act good.

It’s not difficult to act as if today is like any other. Kaito goes through the motions of laundry service, and lets out a huff when there are ten minutes left because, why can’t it just be lunch yet? Like every other day, Shinichi tells him to be patient, ten minutes isn’t too long to wait, and they pretend that eating lunch will be the highlight of the day.

Shinichi is right though, ten minutes isn’t too long to wait. An entire day however, is.

After lunch - where Kaito clears his plate and Shinichi leaves half - they carry out kitchen duty. Kaito has to resist the urge to grin as his fellow prisoners wash dishes with him, has to screw his poker face on tight to ensure it won’t come off. 

He almost wishes he could leave a note, similar to his heist notes. It makes him want to laugh, thinking of how the prison staff will react to an empty cell tomorrow. He hopes the other prisoners freak out about their escape.

“Calm down,” Kaito whispers to himself, drying off a rice bowl, “you’re not out yet. Don’t get your hopes up.”

Failure however, isn’t an option. They can’t let any obstacle halt them when they start trying to leave, not with Shinichi’s life on the line, not when there are less than twenty four hours before they can start pushing for his death sentence. It makes him shudder, to think of how high the stakes are.

It also makes each nerve in his body spark from synapse to synapse, emotion electrifying him, bursts of emotion rushing through him as if he is constantly being struck by lightning. It’s almost as if he is a battery just waiting to be used.

“Ah,” Kaito says after a moment, “it’s no use.”

Shinichi turns to him, splashes him with soapy water, and says, “stop being weird.”

His excitement bubbles, and Kaito finds himself scooping water into the rice bowl he’s been drying, the cuffs of his overalls sodden with dishwater. Then, with a grin, he stares at Shinichi as he tips the bowl over, a surge of water splashing against his hair.

“I defend my right to be weird,” Kaito says as Shinichi splutters, turning back to his drying.

“Yeah?” Shinichi says, “well I defend my right to stay dry.”

Kaito finds himself laughing as water is splashed into his face. He finds that he’s like a small child, snickering to himself, even after the guards tell them to wrap it up and get back to work. It’s by far, the best part of the day leading up to their escape.


When the clock finally reaches ten P.M, Shinichi and Kaito are leaning against their bunks, pretending to be asleep. The lights flicker out, and Kaito wonders whether this will really be the last time he has to deal with the darkness and openness of living in a cage.

He rolls the hair grips in his hand - one has snapped, but fortunately Shinichi had thought to ask Oto-san for more, just incase anymore end up breaking - before some into his pocket, and the others into his hair.

“You ready?” Shinichi says, after a moment of hesitation. There is rustling from the bottom bunk, and Kaito knows that the ex-detective has taken the map from beneath his pillow case, and is folding it into as small a square as he can manage.

“Give it a while,” Kaito says, although he jumps down from his bunk. His shoes plop against the floor, and he drops down to take them off - he’s not taking any risks. He’s capable of being light footed, but under this much pressure and with only one escape route, he can’t risk a single footstep being heard.

Shoes are louder than going barefoot. He leaves his socks inside his shoes - with all the running around they’re going to have to do, he doesn’t want to risk slipping. Even if he doubts he’d fall… Actually, knowing him, he’d fall. Smooth floors and socks aren’t unlike ice skating, not Kaito’s never had the knack for that.

He glances at Shinichi, and finds that the detective has followed suit. Good.

“Okay… get your blanket.” Kaito says, dragging his own off and wrapping himself in it. He’ll only need it until they get to the laundry shoot, in which they can change out of their brightly coloured clothes, but right now it’s the only thing that can keep them covered from the cameras.

Knowing camera’s like those, it’ll be difficult to fool administrators completely. But they’re less likely to gain attention if the camera has moving black spots, rather than moving prisoners in white and green clothing.

“Yeah,” Shinichi says, and wraps the blanket around himself. Kaito reaches forward and pulls part of the fabric down, so that the ex-detectives neck isn’t on show, before turning to the cell door. It doesn’t take long to undo the lock, not when he remembers how to work the lock from his last escape attempt. “Are you bringing the cards?”

Kaito turns back, smirks at the sound of the lock unclicking, and grins. He says, “most of them.”

The other prisoner frowns, confusion lighting up his eyes, but he doesn’t question it. Instead, he shrugs his shoulders, and follows Kaito out of the cell. When Kaito puts his finger to his lips and whispers, ‘shut up’, Shinichi rolls his eyes.

It makes him grin.

They close the cell door, although they hesitate, holding their breaths until the click tells them it’s properly closed.

Now all they have to do is leave the prison’s walls, Kaito thinks to himself.

They shuffle forwards, at a slow pace. Part of Kaito knows that this is the way it has to be - slow as not to alert anyone of any movement - but his heart is pulsing as quickly as a hummingbird’s wings, and the rest of him wants to catch up.

He doesn’t speed up though, no matter how tempting it is. He has to treat this like a job, something to be taken seriously, with no cut corners. It’s not a game, and he certainly cannot cheat. Not now. No amount of magic tricks can help him leave this place, just sheer stubbornness and painstakingly brutal persistence.

Turning back to Shinichi, Kaito beckons him closer, before pointing to the right side of the hallway. They’re going to have to stay as far away from the cell doors if they don’t want any prisoners to notice them.

Shinichi shuffles to the right, and they continue down the hallway.

After what seems like an hour - but is more like three minutes - they reach the end of the corridor. They spend another minute waiting for the camera to move away from the staircase before they’re moving down the stairs to the third floor towards the laundry shoot.

Kaito feels elated just knowing that he’s going to be able to feel the sensation of falling, the weightlessness of flying through the shoot down three flights of steps. It’ll be like he’s reenacting the fall from a rooftop, only he won’t have to rely on his hang-glider to keep him from his death. He gets to rely on a bed of clothes to keep him from breaking any bones.

Kaito pushes Shinichi down the hatch first - the other prisoner isn’t as flexible and needs a boost to get into it. Smothering a laugh at the grumbling he receives, Kaito pushes Shinichi into inky blackness, leaning back against the wall.

They’ve decided that Kaito should give Shinichi at least ten seconds to pull himself out of the laundry basket, so the thief closes his eyes and counts. His fingers graze across the box of cards in his pocket, and he smiles.

10 - He thinks of Aoko and how she’s going to hate him for this escape. How she’s going to hate the newslines that will broadcast how Kaitou KID escaped from prison, not Kuroba Kaito.

7 - He thinks of Hakuba, how the detective will make everything more difficult for him. How Kaito will probably be hunted down for the rest of his life by both detectives and criminal organisations.

4 - And that, naturally, brings him onto the topic of Pandora. He’s going to have to research all he can on it, has to get back home before his mother sells the house, to pick up all of his gadgets. He misses his card gun, and the sooner he picks that up and his suit, the sooner he can get back to running his heists.

2 - And Shinichi. He wants to help him too. Wants to help him beyond just an escape. The other detective doesn’t deserve the life he’s been thrown into, and if there’s any way to make it easier for him… well. Kaito’s going to try and figure out a way to help.

Kaito turns, and throws himself into the laundry shoot.


“Everything okay?” He asks after he’s landed amongst sheets and bedding. His eyes have adjusted to the dark just enough to see Shinichi’s outline near the bundles of clean bedding, to see that he’s pulling out the clothes that Oto-san has left behind.

“Yeah,” Shinichi whispers as Kaito pulls himself out of the hamper. Kaito shrugs the blanket off, leaves it with the laundry as he makes his way towards the ex-detective.

“Okay,” Kaito says, taking the clothes that Shinichi passes him. They’re black, and for a moment Kaito struggles to tell the different articles of clothing from the other. He takes off his overalls, throwing his shirt back into the hamper, before slipping the clothes on, “why are these clothes so heavy?”

Rule one of every heist, Kaito thinks, is making sure that all the clothing word is light. Despite looking smart and gentlemanly, he’d made sure that it was easy to move in first. That had meant no tight hems, trousers he could easily do the splits in.

These trousers are heavy denim, loose, but not something he could do acrobatics in.

(Not that he’s planning on needing any of his gymnastic skills, but it doesn’t hurt to have the option open.)

“Trust me,” Shinichi says again, shrugging on his own jacket. “you’re going to thank me for them later.”

Kaito thinks it’s probably best not to think about it. He transfers hair clips and his playing cards into his jacket pocket, and makes his way towards the exit of C-block. After a few seconds of jiggling the lock, clicking the pins inside, Kaito pushes the door open.

The moon beams down at them.

Kaito beams back.

“You ready for the hard part, Shinichi?”

Chapter Text

“I understand what you’re saying Ran-san, but looking into someone’s medical records is illegal.”

Ran sighs, crosses her arms over her chest and looks sends Saguru a look. She’s in the middle of pouring out tea for them both - Sencha, not the tea she’s certain the Englishman is used to - but she doesn’t let it stop her from narrowing her eyes at him.

“Your family own a pharmaceutical company,” Ran says, “are you seriously telling me that there’s no doctor there who can look through the psychiatric reports?”

Saguru hesitates before shaking his head. “Not anyone we can trust to give accurate feedback to us. They might leave important things out.”

His expression changes then, and Ran frowns, setting the tea down and clearing off some space on the coffee table. They’re sat in the Mouri’s detective agency, Shinichi’s case files spread out between them - they’d both sat down to review the cases again after lunch, and they’ve still not finished for the day.

Even if it is almost midnight, she doesn’t want to call it a night yet. There has to be something more, and this shift in his expression, the minute detail as Saguru bits his lip, leaves her wondering what he knows that she doesn’t.

“What is it?” she asks - they’d promised no secrets, that if one of them has any ideas they’ll share them with one another. Ran knows that she isn’t a detective, but she can calmly say that she knows Shinichi better than anyone else in the world, she knows that she can help if someone just lets her.

“It’s probably nothing,” Saguru says, taking a sip of his tea. He takes his phone from his pocket, and glances down at it. “But if anyone’s read Kudo-kun’s psychological records, it’s Hattori-kun.”

“Who’s Hattori?”

Saguru’s eyes widen, as he places his phone on the table. He says, “you don’t know who Hattori Heiji is? I was certain he’d have asked you about Kudo-kun.”

Ran doesn’t recognise the name. She’s not sure how to react to the name - wants to ask why Hattori would want to talk to her about Shinichi - but from his expression she can tell that Saguru has some respect for the man at least.

“You’re sure you’ve not met him?” Saguru asks, and he frowns when Ran shakes her head. “That’s strange. You see, Hattori-kun is a teen detective as well, he was labelled as Shinichi’s equal from the West. After Kudo-kun was convicted, he decided that he wanted to look into the case.”

The way he says Hattori’s name, well, Rans doesn’t need to be a detective to see that the two don’t get along.

“And this Hattori-kun has read Shinichi’s file?” Ran asks.

Saguru hesitates. Then he nods, eyes glancing to his phone again. “If there’s anyone who has, then it’s Hattori-kun… He’s convinced that Kudo-kun is innocent, that there were a few things missing from the crime scene.”

Ran balls her hands into fists, winces at the feeling of her nails piercing her skin, before unclenching her hands. There are faint crescent imprints in her palms, but she doesn’t pay any notice. She asks, “is there any way we can talk to him?”

“We could phone him,” Saguru says, although he sounds like he’d much rather not. “he’s probably working on cases right now.”

Part of Ran wants to refuse. Who phones someone else at midnight? Even if they don’t have school the following day - one of the perks of golden week - it still feels inconsiderate and impolite. The rest of her wants to force Saguru to ring the phone number, regardless of the time, because every minute she waits is a minute she could be using to help secure Shinichi’s freedom.

“You’ll put it on speaker phone?” Ran asks.

Saguru plucks his phone up, nods, and he scrolls down through his contacts. He presses call. At first, the call goes unanswered, and Ran watches as her friend frowns, creases forming between his eyebrows. The second call, however, gets a response.

“Hakuba, what d'ya want?”

The voice is accented, and Ran’s pretty certain the speaker uses kansai ben, the accent thick. It doesn’t take much effort to decipher some of his words, nor is it difficult to read into the irritation that leaks from his voice.

“Are you busy?” Saguru asks, foregoing any greetings. It’s odd, Ran thinks, because usually Saguru is formal with everyone, but with Hattori he is curt, his words more blunt, with a certain directness that she’s not seen in him before.

“Not really,” Hattori says, and Ran is certain the boy is smiling - can practically hear it in his voice, “I just have this game where I don’t answer your first call, and see whether you’ll phone again.”

Well… Then. She doesn’t quite know how to respond to that.

“How considerate.” Saguru’s voice is dry, already fed up. “I did have a reason for calling though. I’m going back over Kudo-kun’s case, and I was wondering whether you had access to the files from his psychological assessment.”

Hattori is quiet on the other side of the phone. Then: “you don’t still think he’s guilty, do ya?”

Ran takes a deep breath, and lets out a sigh of relief when Saguru claims that no, he doesn’t think that Kudo-kun is guilty.

“Then ask th’ guy yerself,” Hattori says, “that’s wha’ I did. If you get ‘is permission, I’ll bring th’ files down to ya myself.”

It shouldn’t surprise her that Hattori has met with Shinichi, not if he’s certain Shinichi’s innocent, but it still leaves her reeling, confused why she’d not been told anything during her visits. It makes her wonder what else Shinichi had left out of their conversations during the past year.

She misses the times when they’d been able to simply talk without feeling like they’re standing on glass. She misses not having to worry about whether their conversations will leave splinters.

“That’s the thing,” Saguru says, “we’re going over the case without Kudo-kun’s permission. I’m not sure he’ll give us it if we ask.”

From the other side of the phone, Hattori hums. After a moment, he says, “I’m in th’ middle o’ a case right now, but I’ll email you th’ videos tomorrow. Is that okay?”

“Thank you,” Saguru says, looking very much like he wishes he didn’t have to thank the other detective. Ran sends him a small smile.

“No problem,” Hattori says. “I’m hangin’ up now.”

He doesn’t give Saguru a chance to say anything else, and the line goes dead.

Ran picks up her cup, takes a sip of tea, and grins. It’s as if luck is finally on their side.


Lady Luck, Kaito thinks to himself as they step out into the darkness, counting down the seconds until the lights reach the far side of the prison yard, had better not mess with them today.

He’s spent all this time stuck in this prison because luck had abandoned him during a heist, and Kaito knows that he’s going to flip out if his luck doesn’t turn back on. He doesn’t care for what happens afterwards - he’ll plan everything with such detail that he’ll never need to rely on chance again after today, but right now he needs things to go his way.

“Okay,” Kaito turns to Shinichi, whispering. It sounds like a shout in the darkness, although with the wind, he’s almost certain that it’s too loud for their voices to carry. “We’ve got two minutes to get from here over to solitary. You’re a fast runner right?”

Shinichi nods, doesn’t say anything. If he looks closely, Kaito can see that he’s scratching at his neck, just over the bruises he’s received. The nervousness, he assumes, has started to kick in.

“Then let’s go.”

Does Kaito’s running morph into an energetic mutated skip as they start racing over to the solitary block - yes, but it doesn’t slow them down, which is the important part. Plus, he’s enjoying himself, being outside in the dark, the moon lighting up the prison yard, leaving it just dark enough for them to be able to move without being seen.

Kaito almost wishes that there were cameras in the prison yard, just because he thinks the guards would freak out a lot more if they realised he was skipping during his escape. If they’d seen that he’d been merry, oozing confidence during his own escape, then Kaito thinks he’d never stop grinning about it.

Once again he tells himself not to get ahead of himself. He’s still within the prison walls, then need to make their way through a monitored section of the prison, and then they need to actually get away with it. He needs to focus on the present and not the future in which he can boast about his escape.

But he will boast, obviously, once they’re outside the gates.

It’ll be amazing. And- of course he’s already doing it again.

“Come on,” Kaito says, pulling Shinichi down as they reach the door to solitary. They have to crouch to avoid being seen from the windows, light pouring out of them. 

The light makes Kaito shudder - another thing he’d hated about solitary, the lights were never turned off. He knows that it’s used to deprive the senses of external factors, but Kaito wishes they’d do that with the lights off. He’s always preferred the shadows compared, has always preferred being able to choose who really sees him.

“What now,” Shinichi whispers when they stop outside the door. Kaito knows that it’s not locked - not with the guards who’re still moving around inside, talking in the staff room, occasionally checking on the prisoners.

Kaito shrugs his shoulders, glances inside the door, and takes a step back.

This is one of the riskier parts of the plan, he thinks, mainly because it’s where their luck comes in. They need to sneak past the staff room, to the end of the corridor and unlock the door at the end. From there, they’ll be able to climb over the smaller gate.

For a moment, Kaito closes his eyes and listens. He can hear three voices - all of them guards he recognises from his own time in solitary. Their words seem to be vibrating, struggling to be heard outside of the room they’re tucked away in.

“Come on,” Kaito says, and he races into the corridor. Better now than never, he thinks. He spares a glance towards one of the open solitary cells, grits his teeth when he sees Aoko glaring across at him, before turning back to the corridor.

This time, when he sees a camera, he doesn’t wave at it. He feels like that might be tempting luck just a little too much. As Kaito makes his way over to the door, he brings the hair grips from his pocket - at this point he should just keep them in his hands, he swears it’ll be easier than having to take them out again and again - and inserts the ends into the lock.

Out of the corner of his eye, he notices Shinichi duck into one of the open solitary cells, receiving something from inside the door. He hears the faint unfolding of paper, and shortly after, a sigh of relief.

Instead of focusing on what the note says, Kaito focuses on the lock, easing on of the hair grips up, pushing pins into place. One of the pins is particularly stiff, and Kaito winces when he hears a small cracking sound.

He pulls the hair grip out of lock - it’s not fallen apart, but there is a huge crack down the side. He tosses it aside, pulls out another hair grip and tries again.

The stiff pin clicks this time and Kaito moves to the final two pins, trying to be both quick and quiet. He feels sweat on his neck, but eventually he hears the satisfying click of the door.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

It’s not Shinichi’s voice.

Kaito jumps, the door swinging open in front of him. He considers, briefly, running from the door - but the second he does that, the guards will chase after him, leaving Shinichi in the cell he’s ducked into.

'Don’t look at Shinichi,’ Kaito tells himself, 'they won’t know that he’s there if you don’t look at him’.

He doesn’t move, but the guard does. He moves forward, and draws something from his belt - Kaito bets it’s a taser, because it always seems to be a fucking taser.

“I thought you were meant to be a good escape artist?” The guard snarls as he gets nearer. Kaito takes a step backward for, almost trips on the door and lets out a small groan as he hits his arm against the wall.

“Admittedly,” Kaito says, feeling only a slight bit helpless, “luck hasn’t been on my side recently.”

The guard takes another step forward, another, until he is almost face to face with Kaito. His taser isn’t a long distance one like in C-block, but rather, a taser for closer range, and the thief flinches away at the sound of static electricity.

A cry of pain.

Kaito doesn’t feel electric pulsing through his veins - instead, he watches as the guard drops to the ground. Behind him, Shinichi is holding one of the meal trays, having grabbed it from the cell.

“Fortunately for me,” Kaito says, racing towards the guard and taking the taser from the guard, “I have Shinichi.”

He sends Shinichi a strained smile and continues, “help me get him into that cell.”

They spend more time than they can probably afford pulling the unconscious guard into the cell - he wakes for a moment, but Kaito tases him before his fingers can reach for the radio by his belt.

Kaito takes the radio as well.

Electricity buzzes in his ears. 

“It’s not a nice feeling is it?” he asks the guard, before they close the door on him.

It is not until they are outside of the solitary block, racing fifty metres towards the gate, that Kaito realises the other guards have most likely heard the cries. He thanks luck for the slow reactions of the guards, before cursing fate for the footsteps that follow after them.

“You get over first,” Kaito shouts, giving Shinichi a boost so he has a headstart over the gate. It’s roughly two metres tall, with a layer of barbed wire, and Shinichi’s fingers grapple for more metal as he pulls himself up. Kaito joins him, hauling himself up as he struggles for speed.

It’s impossible to ignore the footsteps behind him, pounding and heavy behind him as guards shout behind them. People are screaming into the radio, and Kaito tries to make sense of what they’re saying, but it’s like they’re speaking in a language he doesn’t understand.

Shinichi jumps down from the top of the gate, and Kaito can see the conflict on the other’s face - does he run while he can and leave Kaito to the guards? Or does he wait.

The ex-detective doesn’t move, shouting instead for Kaito to hurry up.

Letting out a howl, Kaito clenches his fists around the barbed wire, metal tearing into his palms, pulling himself up. He’s grateful for the trousers, and the jacket as he drags himself across the barbed wire, but he really wishes he’d been given gloves as well.

“Hurry up or I’m leaving you behind.”

Kaito jumps from the gate.

He’s back on his feet for a second and then - oh no.

“Fuck.”

Static electricity jarrs him, and he falls forwards as barbs claw onto his jacket - the electricity is at a high enough level that it doesn’t even need to graze his skin to shock him.

Kaito’s heart stutters. It sinks in his chest.

His sight blurs.

“Shit,” he hears Shinichi mutter, and then, he feels his clothing being tugged, his arm being thrown over someone’s shoulder. “Listen, I can’t carry you, so you need to run.”

Kaito lets out a small moan, but after a few seconds, he’s sprinting towards trees, Shinichi dragging him forwards.

“Oh my god,” Shinichi mutters under his breath as they race into the woods.

His eyes are wild, feral as they race forwards. They don’t stop until roughly four minutes later, they approach a small clearing, then, Shinichi leads them both North-West, out of the clearing.

They continue to run, until Kaito feels like he might throw up. He feels like he can’t breath, and he wonders for a moment if Shinichi feels the same thing with his injuries, or whether it’s just him and his electric synapses sending too many messages at once.

Kaito lets out a laugh, “we did it.”

“Not yet,” Shinichi says, “don’t say it yet.”

But Kaito really wants to celebrate it. He feels laughter bubble inside him, a mix of hysteria and pleasure. It rests in his stomach, churning his gut and squeezing his lungs.

“I thought-” He gasps for air, “I thought you were going to leave me behind.”

Shinichi lets out a breathless laugh - it’s more wary than elated, but it still makes Kaito grin shakily over at him. “Like I could leave you behind. You wouldn’t survive without me.”

They run.

And after what feels like a lifetime, Kaito lets out a laugh of his own. He laughs, head tipped back a gleeful, cackling laughter boiling out of him. It feels like the most natural sound he’s made in years, even before he was caught. It’s a satisfying sound, a melody bursting out of him, louder and louder, uncontrollable in its intensity.

“I’d tell you to calm down,” Shinichi laughs beside him, “but we deserve this.”

Finally, their legs lead them to where they need to go. They come to a stop in a small clearing, a dirt path leading out to what Kaito can only assume is a road out of the woods. In the middle of the clearing, he can see the outline of a person. There are two motorbikes beside him, although the person - Kaito’s certain it’s a man - is leaning against the one nearest to them.

He’s also on the phone.

When he sees the two escaped prisoner racing towards him, he lifts his hand in a wave.

“No problem,” a small pause, “I’m hangin’ up now.”

He closes his phone as the two stop in front of him. Kaito peeks closer, looks at the face of someone he’s seen before in newspapers.

“Took yer time, didn’t ya?”

Hattori Heiji.

Chapter Text

“I wanted to drive.”

Kaito grumbles from where he is holding on to Shinichi’s waist, air slapping against his arms as they race down the dirt path, following behind Hattori on the motor bike. He doesn’t know how quickly they’re moving - although he’s pretty sure that it’s fast - but it doesn’t seem quick enough.

He wants to yell at Shinichi to move at a much more rapid pace, even if it’s dangerous - especially because it’s dangerous.

“You were tased,” Shinichi shouts back, and almost as if he’s read Kaito’s mind, he revs the bike, pushing it further, faster. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to drive.”

Yeah, well, Kaito doesn’t really care for good ideas right now. He’s fed up with having to be ‘good’ and with playing the rules and goddammit, they’re escaped convicts now, why are they following the law and making sure not to break speed limits.

A voice in the back of his mind calls him an idiot and tells him it’s to stop them from getting caught. It sounds almost like Aoko - what is it with her stubbornness keeping her in his thoughts? - It’s irritating and so like the idiot to do that to him. She’s frustrating like that.

“You were electrocuted too,” Kaito mutters, and somehow, through their helmets and despite the wind that’s blasting against them, the detective is able to hear. He lets out a small laugh, although it’s more irritation that elation

“Yeah, and who’s fault is it that I had to rip the barbs off of you.” Shinichi says, his voice significantly louder than Kaito’s own. The thief grimaces, recalls the burns across Shinichi’s hands where he’d yanked the electric wire from his jacket. How Shinichi had been able to keep moving after having electric pumped through his veins is beyond him - sometimes Shinichi seems more machine than human.

It’s impressive.

“Thanks,” Kaito whispers, and this time, Shinichi doesn’t hear him.


Hattori leads them out onto the motorway, and after about two hours of speeding down tarmac roads, weaving in and out of the fast lane, he indicates left, leading them into a city - when Kaito glances at the road signs it reads Nara, which he knows from experience, is about thirty minutes from Osaka, where Hattori resides.

They don’t drive far into the city, remaining in the outskirts. Hattori signals left, and Shinichi follows after him, clicking his indicator and turning the handlebars left. Letting out a sigh, Kaito feels a steady calm spread through him.

They are both free.

He can’t wait to see what happens next. Except, he’s almost dreading it - he knows that the media can be ruthless, and while he’s genuinely excited to see how they’ll react to his own escape, he’s nervous on how they’re going to portray Shinichi.

Police officers will search for Shinichi everywhere - they will tear apart houses and neighbourhoods to find a convicted serial killer, and they’re going to use the media to make him out to be the most despicable human in the world.

'Don’t think about it,’ Kaito thinks, as they come to a stop outside a block of flats - there are signs around the doors, blocking it off and stating it’s due for demolition in a few weeks. It’s not the most ideal place, but it is somewhere they can hide out without being caught, “Shinichi’s got tough skin. He can survive a few harsh words.”

Except, Kaito isn’t actually that sure whether the other man can. He knows that Shinichi tries to pretend that he’s feeling fine, that he internalises his emotions as not to bother others - and frankly, Kaito doesn’t think it’s going to lead to anything other than long-term damage.

“We’re here,” Hattori calls, turning off his engine. He pushes his bike towards some garages, beckoning Kaito and Shinichi over with his hand. “Hurry up. Th’ two of ya are so slow.”

There are so many questions that Kaito wants to ask the Osakan, words that have been dripping from the tip of his tongue, but so far they’ve been too focused on escaping to be listened to. He hopes that the Osakan will stay around long enough to answer their questions, but he’s not sure.

It’s past two a.m, Kaito reminds himself, and Hattori probably needs sleep. The same with Shinichi as well - he’s pretty sure the teen hasn’t slept properly in weeks, not with the impending break out. Even Kaito himself knows that as soon as he sits down he’s going to fall asleep.

He jumps from the bike and jogs over to Hattori, bouncing on his feet - it’s a task he used to do to keep him awake before his heists, even if he’d felt alert enough to start. Instead of it using up excess energy, the movement recharges him, like a generator whirring producing more electricity for him to run off of.

Kaito shudders at the thought of electricity - he’d been tased, again, and frankly, he feels like it’s getting old. His fingers brush against the taser he’s left in his pocket, a memento, he thinks, of his time in prison. He’ll certainly use it as a last resort on heists, especially with how it affects movement. His pain will be useful in finding Pandora at least.

“Stop daydreaming,” Shinichi says, patting Kaito on the back. “Let’s go inside.”

It takes Kaito a second to realise that while he’s been standing, lost in his own thoughts, relishing the freedom of fresh air and wind tickling his neck, Shinichi and Hattori have wheeled the motorbikes into one of the garages.

Half of him thinks that he shouldn’t have missed such a big detail. The other half is too tired to care.

Kaito follows after Shinichi. He races up the stairs, jumping on his toes until Hattori reaches the door, pulling out a key. It’s not the real key, just a replica - Kaito knows the difference, thank you very much - not that it matters. The door reveals a small apartment, and Shinichi lets out a small groan when he realises that the heating has been left on, specifically for them.

“Hattori,” Shinichi says, “you are amazing.”

“I know,” Hattori laughs. He’s not how Kaito had imagined a detective to be - not studious like Hakuba, or closed-off like Shinichi - rather he’s light hearted and cheerful. The Osakan points into the main room, where two futons have been laid out, staring the two escaped convicts down until they trudge inside, discarding their shoes.

“There’s a medical kit under th’ table,” the Osakan calls as he moves into another room, “clean ou’ those cuts o’ yours.”

Neither boy refuses the offer. Instead, they sit cross legged on individual futons, and take the first aid kit from beneath a small table in the middle of the room. Kaito wants to deal with Shinichi’s burns first - they’re not too severe, but they’re red and the thief thinks they might end up blistering - but the ex-detective sends him a withering glare until Kaito wilts and gives in.

“You’re the one who’s actually bleeding,” Shinichi says in response to Kaito’s long winded sigh, “you really shredded your hands on that barbed wire.”

The pain doesn’t really register with Kaito, even though his adrenaline has long since worn off. The thief wonders whether it’s because he’s been shot - nothing is as bad as having a bullet tear through his body, and having to dig it out yourself.

“Let’s just pretend I’m growing roses.” Kaito shrugs as Shinichi starts wiping away blood, although he can’t bring himself to look down at his skin. He wonders whether the wounds will scar his palms. “The blood is just the petals.”

“You sound insane when you’re tired,” Shinichi mutters, although he’s grinning, creases around his eyes. He almost seems fond, which is… nice.

“You sound insane when I’m awake,” Kaito retorts, sticking his tongue out.

“Yer both soundin’ weird,” Hattori says, returning to the room. He brings blankets with him, although they look fluffier, softer than the one’s Kaito’s grown used to inside the prison. “Maybe ya should both 'ead of ta sleep.”

“But I have questions-”

Hattori shakes his head, and while the movement is small, it’s powerful. Kaito can see the sternness behind the Osakan’s eyes, knows that despite his efforts, he will not have any questions answered tonight.

“You guy’s need ta sleep.” Hattori says, crossing his arms around his chest, “questions can wait 'till tomorrow.”

Shinichi glances over at Hattori, frowning, “there are only two futons. You’re not staying?”

“I’ve got ta get rid o’ the bikes,” Hattori says, shaking his head. He hasn’t even stayed long enough to take his shoes off, or even to sit down, and if Kaito has to respect any detective - excluding Shinichi, of course - then it’s got to be this teenager, who’s most likely running on fumes, energy dwindling out.

“You’ll be back tomorrow?” Shinichi asks, when Hattori makes his way towards the door. It sounds more like a plea than a question, and Kaito doesn’t fully understand the emotion behind those words, but he does empathise.

“I’ll be a few hours,” Hattori says, turning to them both with a grin, “don’ worry, I won’t wake ya up on my way in.”

Shinichi purses his lips, before turning to Kaito with a grin. He says, “you can say it now.”

Kaito leans forward, lets out a small laugh and breathes, “we’re out!”


Saguru wakes up to the chiming of his phone.

He doesn’t remember falling asleep, and after rubbing at his eyes, he realises with a wave of embarrassment, that he has fallen asleep in the mouri-agency. His sight is blurry as he yawns, stretching out, before reaching for his phone.

It’s on low battery, but Saguru doesn’t let it bother him. He’ll charge it when he returns home - oh, Baya is going to scold him when he returns - but for now, he presses answer. It’s only once he’s pressed the phone against his ear that he realises it would have been a good idea to check the caller I.D.

And the time - it’s still dark outside the window. Half-awake, Saguru predicts it’s about five a.m. An ungodly time to be awake he thinks.

“Hakuba-kun,” the voice belongs to Inspector Nakamori. They haven’t talked in a few months, and Saguru finds himself blinking in confusion at the tension in the other man’s voice. “I’m sorry to wake you, but would you mind coming down to the station?”

Saguru doesn’t know why the Inspector would want to talk to him - they’ve never really seen eye-to-eye, and the man hasn’t really liked having teenagers on his crime scenes. Not many police officers have liked having civilians working cases in a while actually, Saguru thinks, not since Kudo’s conviction.

“I can?” He responds, and in his half-awake state, he finds himself forgetting to ask why he’s needed down at the station. Opposite him, Ran pushes herself up from the couch she’s fallen asleep on - at least it wasn’t both of them, hopefully she won’t think less of him for overstaying his welcome this once - rubbing at her own eyes. “I’ll get the first taxi I can.”

“Thanks,” Inspector Nakamori says, “I’ll see you then.”

The inspector hangs up before Saguru can say anything else.

“Who was that?” Ran asks, and she leans forward, grabbing a hair band from the table, pulling her hair back into a messy ponytail. “Was it Hattori?”

“No,” Saguru purses his lips, “it was Inspector Nakamori.”

Ran stretches, stands up. She closes the case files they’d been working on before they’d fallen asleep, stacking them amongst other files from the Kudo-case. “From Division two?”

“Yes, he wants me to head to the station.”

Turning back to him, Ran says, “let’s freshen up, and then we’ll head to the station together - I want to talk to Inspector Megure and the other detectives in division one.”

Saguru nods. “I’ll phone for a taxi.”

Chapter Text

Tokyo - 6.12 a.m.


Unlike the streets of Tokyo, which are unusually quiet this morning, the police station is bursting with activity. The moment Ran races in, holding onto Saguru’s sleeve to avoid losing him through the crowds of officers, she knows that something has gone extremely wrong.

The way Saguru’s lips purse tells Ran that she is not the only one is confused. She’d listened faintly to his side of the phone call - something she knows is rude, but she’d been excited over the concept of it being Hattori - and from the abrupt end to the call, she knows that he’s not had anything explained to him.

They weave through the sea of uniformed police. She recognises some faces, but most of the officers are blank slates, not people Ran has met or talked to.

“Come on Ran-san,” Saguru says, and he offers her a smile. It’s strained, but recently most of the detective’s smiles have been awkward. She wonders whether it’s because he feels guilty about the case they’re working on, for putting it down and walking away, but Ran’s not sure. Maybe it’s the fact that he knows today is May 4th, Shinichi’s birthday, and that, like last year, Shinichi will be spending it away from home.

“But division one isn’t this way,” Ran protests.

“I have a feeling,” Saguru says, rolling his eyes at the sight of a particularly burly officer, shoulders drawn, chest puffed out, “that we’ll find them in the same place.”

Ran doesn’t ask why - it’s obvious from how packed the station is that something has happened. It’s just a matter of getting that information and helping Saguru in whatever way she can, so they can both focus back on Shinichi.

“Okay,” Ran says, and lets out a sigh when they break away from the crowd and into the corridor, “have you got any idea what’s going on?”

Saguru turns to her, shakes his head. “Not a clue.”

The walk to division two’s headquarters isn’t that far, it’s just a floor beneath homicide, and Ran feels like she’s being lazy when they push through the doors and haven’t had to climb any staircases. 

Saguru straightens out, almost as if he’s smoothing out the cracks in his posture rather than the creases of his clothing. It makes him seem more confident, compared to the quiet nervousness she’d seen festering during the taxi ride to the station.

Division two is not quite as busy as reception, but alarm is thick within the room - it’s not as lighthearted as the theft division has been joked to be. Instead, it seems dull, lifeless despite all of the frantic movements, people banging their fingers against keyboards with obnoxiously loud taps, other shouting into their phones.

The words seem to blur together as Ran follows Saguru towards Inspector Nakamori’s office. Somehow the inspector has kept his job, despite having personal ties to Kaitou KID.

Saguru raps his knuckles against the door. Since he knows they’re expected, he doesn’t wait to open the door, pushing it open as a wary ‘come in’ echoes from inside.

They step inside. The office isn’t small, but with the amount of people milling inside, standing by the desk, sitting in the chairs, it is claustrophobic.

“Hakuba-kun,” Inspector Nakamori says. Despite the tiredness pulling at his eyes, he looks almost relieved to see the detective. “Come in - no, don’t bother closing it, people keep coming in and out, we shouldn’t bother-”

A girl is sat on his desk, and Ran thinks for a moment that she looks awfully familiar - an awkward laugh bubbles in her throat, when she realises it’s because they look alike, the same brown hair, same azure eyes staring out at the world. Saguru has talked about her in the past, a classmate of his, Nakamori Aoko. Her expression is blank, although Ran can see expressions flickering across her face, forming and falling apart.

“You wanted me Inspector?”

Now that she surveys the room, Ran’s pretty certain that she recognises the other detectives in the room. Superintendent Matsumoto from Division one is standing beside Inspector Megure, detective Takagi on his phone beside them. Superintendent Chaki of Division is reading over a file, although he looks up at the sound of Saguru’s voice.

Ran feels tension coil in her stomach. It feels like a snake, getting ready to strike.

“Yes.” Inspector Nakamori says, standing to the side of his desk. He squeezes his daughter’s shoulder quickly, before side stepping around her, making his way towards them. “It’s about Kaito… It’s about KID.”

“Kuroba-kun?” Saguru tilts his head slightly - to some, it might come off as arrogance, but Ran knows it’s simply confusion. “What about him?”

Inspector Nakamori hesitates, glances away from them. He says, “KID escaped from his cell early this morning. He’s out of prison.”

The glare that blooms across his daughter’s face, does not linger, just a flash, before it disappears again, and Ran recalls what Saguru has told her about the case of Kaitou KID. Nakamori Aoko had quite possibly been the person who KID would have seen as his closest friend - Kuroba Kaito, the thief’s real identity - has practically been family to the Nakamori’s.

“He’s what?” Saguru breathes the words, almost disbelieving. Except, from the way he collects himself within the next second, Ran realises that he’s not as alarmed as the police officers. He’s surprised, yes, but not overly so. Almost as if he’d been expecting it.

“KID escaped,” Nakamori Aoko mumbles, “that thief escaped.”

Saguru doesn’t have time to respond before Superintendent Chaki steps forward, turning the file around. He says, “we’ve just had the log of KID’s visitors faxed over. You’re the only one he’s seen.”

Oh no, Ran thinks, that doesn’t sound good.

“I visited him twice, yes.” Saguru says, and he’s biting his lip, recalling the visits. It makes Ran recall her own visits to Shinichi, makes her miss him even more. “The visits were never long.”

“We need to find him as quickly as possible,” Superintendent Chaki says, closing the file, “before he has a chance to completely disappear. Anything KID said during these visits would help us.”

“Of course,” Saguru says, and he tells them. Ran listens in silence as he tells them about how his first visit had been a plea for KID to tell him about the danger he’d encountered during his heists, and how KID had been unwilling to give him any facts.

“And the second visit?” Inspector Nakamori asks. He wears a frown, his eyes narrowed with focus - if there’s a part of him that feels dismayed by KID’s escape, he’s buried it deep inside him, has decided that his work takes priority.

“What can you tell me about that one?”

Saguru rubs at his chin, hesitates. He’s seems slightly pale, almost as if it pains him to remember his most recent interaction with the thief. He says, “he seemed… different.”

“Different?” Nakamori Aoko echoes.

Nodding, Saguru crosses his arms around his chest. “He asked for me to visit, but when I arrived he seemed… subdued.” The looks he gains urges him to continue. “Quite honestly, he seemed depressed, like he was weighed down by something. I couldn’t ask though, he was taken from the room before we could talk in depth.”

Ran flinches at the memory - the screaming on Shinichi’s behalf is still painful, like a wound that has been unable to heal.

“Kaito was removed from the visiting room?” Inspector Nakamori asks. Behind him, his daughter’s stare is unwavering, only broken by random blinking.

“He was…” Ran knows that Saguru is looking for a polite way to say having a mental breakdown. “…Upset.”

Out of all of the… Well, Ran doesn’t think she’d be able to word it in a better way either. All she’d be able to say is that there had been an outburst, and then screaming, until Ran’s ears had been ringing with the fact that Shinichi is going to die.

“Any idea why?” Superintendent Chaki asks.

“He asked me to look into the Kudo serial killing case,” Saguru’s quiet now, and there’s certainly guilt in his voice. “I refused, seeing as I’d already…”

He trails off and no one comments on what Saguru was going to say. They all remember the first month after the conviction, how Saguru had thrown himself into the case, unwilling to accept the verdict Shinichi had received. Ran remembers how he’d told her he didn’t want to visit Shinichi until he’d solved the case, how he didn’t want to visit until he could tell his friend he was free.

He’d never visited - Shinichi remained trapped.

“KID talked about Kudo Shinichi’s case?” Saguru nods, and Superintendent Chaki turns to the detectives from Division one, eyes narrowed. “There you have it, there’s the link.”

“I’m sorry,” Ran steps forward, stands beside Saguru, “what has this got to do with Shinichi’s case?”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand either,” the Englishman adds. “Why is division one concerned with an escaped thief?”

Inspector Megure glances at his fellow detectives, and after silence has enveloped the room, the adults all seem to come to a consensus. He lets out a sigh, long and suffering, rubbing at his mustache.

“We’re not concerned with Kaitou KID’s escape,” Inspector Megure says, “we’re concerned with the serial killer he brought along with him.”

Ran lets out a gasp, the sound is low and almost goes unnoticed in the silence of the room - she’s never known a room to be so loud despite no vibrations meeting her ear drums.

“You don’t mean-”

“Yes. KID helped Kudo Shinichi escape from prison.”


Nara - 8.32 a.m


Kaito wakes and realises that he’d much rather fall straight back to sleep.

His bones ache, his heart is quick in his chest, palpitations making it feel like he’s been running despite only having just woken up, his mind blurry. He feels the pain in his hands now, where he hadn’t felt it before, and it keeps him from falling straight back to sleep.

“Yer awake then.” It’s Hattori. He’s sat back against the wall, cradling a water bottle in his hands, one eye open, watching him. “Kaitou KID.”

Kaito lets out a sigh, realises that he can’t find it in himself to be formal with the detective who’s helped aid their escape and says, “call me Kaito.”

“If that’s what ya want,” Hattori says, throwing the water across to him. It lands in front of Kaito on the futon, falling with a sloshing sound that reminds him of the ocean. “Kudo’s still asleep, so we’re gonna have to stay 'ere for a while.”

They’re moving again? So soon? Kaito thinks that now is the best time to stay low, while people are expecting them to be moving back and forth, from place to place.

“We’re going somewhere?” The thief asks, rubbing at his eyes. He picks the water bottle up, uncaps it and gulps down water. He doesn’t realise how hungry he is until he feels water slithering down into his stomach, settling and churning. His throat, at least, is no longer parched.

“Kudo din’t tell ya?” Hattori asks, and his expression shutters from open to closed off within seconds. He waits, before shaking his head, letting out a small laugh, “I can’t believe 'im. I mean, I can, he’s always like this, keepin’ th’ details to 'imself.”

Kaito caps the water bottle, placing it down opposite him. “Everything’s on a need to know basis with the guy… but… he said he’d tell me.”

Hattori offers him a smile, pushes himself up. He said, “I bought instant ramen, if yer hungry. I kno’ it’s not much, bu’ it was all I really though’ of when I was at th’ shops.”

Kaito feels his heart leap. “Don’t apologise - I… Ramen’s great seriously. We haven’t had anything other than rice inside… Ramen’s fine.”

“I’ll make it then,” Hattori says, standing up. “Wake up Kudo, an’ he’ll explain everythin’ to you over food.”

“Do you have coffee?” Kaito asks, “I’m pretty sure Kudo will kill me if I wake him without coffee.”

“I’ll make some.” Hattori laughs.

Oh thank God.

Chapter Text

Twenty months ago:


“This case isn’t something you can work on long term, you know. You can’t do it, silver bullets only have a short range.”

Shinichi turns at the voice - it’s relatively new, this voice, although he’s certain he’s heard it before. When they’d talked the first time, over the phone, there hadn’t been so much worry over who he was talking to. It wasn’t like Kudo Shinichi didn’t regularly get phone calls demanding him mind and asking for deductions.

Now that he’s met with this person however, - each time in different disguises, the both of them struggling to remain inconspicuous despite forcing themselves to meet in public - he’s been struggling with the lack of reasonable identity.

All he has is a codename. Vermouth.

“Get to the point.” Shinichi says, as they’re walking through Ueno park. Vermouth is disguised as a high school student today, wearing the same school uniform as him - it makes it seem as if they’re on a date to any onlookers, although it’s the furthest thing from both of their minds. “I don’t have time to talk about stuff like this.”

Every time they meet, it fills Shinichi with a nervousness that makes him unsteady. She’s a member of the very organisation he’s been looking into for months, yet she’s made no efforts to dissuade him from looking into the case - not until now.

“You should find the time,” Vermouth sighs, throws her hand out in the way adults do when dealing with ‘difficult’ teenagers. “You need to stop looking into the organisation for now. The water’s getting hot, lay low, and come back to it.”

“Exactly,” Shinichi says, turning his head to Vermouth and narrowing his eyes. “Things are getting heated, I need to gather as much information as I can while you’re all focusing on other things.”

“No. You need to stay alive.”

Shinichi turns, glares. He doesn’t know why he hasn’t called the police on Vermouth, told them about the crimes he’s unravelled, and while part of him feels guilty for not telling, he also knows that he’s got more important things. Like this organisation - the one he’d first spotted at Tropical Land, where he’d almost been caught taping the result of blackmail.

“Why do you care if I die anyway?” He snaps. It’s not something he’s thought about since she first sat him down in a cafe and explained that she wanted to see whether he’d be capable of taking down the organisation he’s part of.

Vermouth purses her lips. After a few seconds, she brings her finger to her lips, whispers, 'it’s a secret.“

"And secrets make a woman right?” Shinichi rolls his eyes. They’ve only talked in person three times now, and yet he already knows this is the response to every question she doesn’t want to answer. It’s frustrating.

“Hide the information you’ve gathered so far,” Vermouth says, when they stop in the middle of the park, looking up at the trees that are in full bloom. “Because they will come looking for you soon. And if they find anything…”

Shinichi lets out a low laugh. It sounds bitter, the sound scratching against his throat in a repugnant manner. It feels almost like it’s being formed by a machine.

“They’ll kill me, won’t they?”


Nara - 8.47 a.m


“So… what’s the plan from here?” Kaito asks, once Shinichi is awake - unwillingly, but supplied with coffee that’s helping him wake up - and they’ve prepared instant ramen.

Hattori leans back against the wall, cupping his hands around the pot. His eyes are closed, although Kaito can tell from the tilt of his head that he’s listening to the conversation as it happens. He wonders when the Osakan last slept, whether he’ll have any time to rest before they set off again. The bags under his eyes tell Kaito that it’s been a while.

“Before I was incarcerated,” Shinichi says, swallowing down coffee like it’s water, “I was working on a pretty high profile case. When things started to look like I might get arrested, I took the information I’d gained and hid it.”

Kaito hesitates, places his ramen against the small table, giving Shinichi his full attention. Nervous energy bubbles in his stomach, but he doesn’t smothers it, tries to ignore the dread that starts to build. His poker face masks the worry - well, he thinks that it does, he’s not that sure - and Shinichi doesn’t question it, so it’s nothing he needs to think about right now.

“This case,” Kaito asks, “the people you were looking into are the one’s who framed you, right?”

A nod. “I think so. I was warned shortly before the murders began, that if I didn’t stop looking into the case that… that… well… In a way I really am responsible for those murders.”

“They’d 'ave killed 'em anyway Kudo,” Hattori says, pausing from eating ramen to glance at the two. “That’s the kinda organisation you said they were.”

For a moment there is silence.

Then, “I know… It’s because of those deaths that I can’t give this up. I’m not willing to let their murders go unsolved, so I need to get the files I had and keep investigating.”

His voice is urgent, raw emotion bleeding through each word, cutting deep into Kaito. It’s no doubt difficult, Kaito thinks, to open himself like that - even with the closeness of a shared prison break looming over their heads. The thing about Shinichi, Kaito has learned, is that the ex-detective is the type to keep secrets if it seems like it’ll benefit others.

He doesn’t think about how the secrets will weigh down on him… and yes, Kaito knows that it sounds familiar, keeping secrets for the sake of others, but it doesn’t matter anymore if he’s had his secrets publicly announced. Shinichi however…

Shinichi is still living with his secrets.

“What can you tell me about this organisation?” Kaito asks, leaning forward. He almost knocks his ramen over, the movement reminding him that it exists and that he should probably eat before it gets cold - before he misses another meal.

The flavour is overwhelming - it’s stupid, Kaito thinks, to let that affect him, but tasting food that isn’t bland, that’s actually got taste to it after months of prison food… sadness washes the nervousness he’s been feeling away, leaving him with a cold nothingness.

It’s not fair - not fair that he’s overjoyed by things he’d once thought of as everyday. It’s not fair that he’s stuck here, breathing in freedom without really feeling free.

“Members go by code names,” Shinichi says, drinking the rest of his coffee and placing his cup on the table. “The codenames are all based on alcohols. So far, I’ve discovered five codenames: Gin, Vodka, Tequila, Pisco and… Vermouth. Shortly before I was incarcerated though, Tequila was murdered in an explosion before I could get any information from him.”

Neurons spark in Kaito’s own mind, memories of his own organisation - Snake - flashing behind his eyes. It’s almost as if he can see the man in front of him, his stache, the black suit he’d always seen him in. The black suits the organisation has solely worn, refusing to wear anything that doesn’t resemble death.

“Is there any way of identifying them?” Kaito asks, once he’s finished his own ramen. “Other than the codenames, I mean.”

Shinichi nods, “I’ve been calling them the black organisation for a while now, because that’s all they seem to wear: Black.”

Siren’s echo in the back of his head, and Kaito recoils, without meaning to. It’s not until he hears a voice, similar to Hakuba’s own, in his head telling him that he should wait until he’s got all of the facts before he settles on any conclusions, that he tries to calm the sudden pounding of his heart. He’s not sure why exactly, he’s trying not to show any other responses, when they’ve already seen his first reaction.

“K-Kaito?”

The thief shakes his head, reapplies his mask and smiles. He says, “I’ve been working against an organisation stained with black as well. What are the chances?”

“Do ya think they’re the same?” Hattori asks, wide-eyed. “Wha’ do ya know about 'em?”

“I don’t know,” Kaito shrugs, turns away from them both. “All I know for certain is that they’re the type of organisation who kill to get rid of problems, so it sure is possible…” He takes a deep breath. “If you explain what you’ve got on them, we’ll be able to see if it really is the same organisation.”

Another hesitant silence. “About that, I can’t really remember without the case files.”

“Eh?” Kaito turns back to Shinichi, shock registering on his face. “How can you not remember such an important thing!”

Shinichi frowns. “It’s not that I don’t remember… it’s that so much time away from the files… I don’t remember which bits of information are theories, and which bits are truth. So, I’d rather not throw any false evidence at you…”

“Then let’s get the files!”

“If you’d have let me finish,” Shinichi crosses his arms, leans back against the wall, “I’d have told you that getting those files are the first thing on our to-do list… If you’re staying with us…”

Kaito lets out a small laugh, grins. “Of course I’m staying. I owe you. I’ll help until your organisation can’t mess with you anymore.”

There are two sighs of relief - Both Shinichi and Hattori. It’s almost as if they’d been expecting him to disappear as soon as things seem like they might be getting rough. Kaito wonders whether they’ve ever heard of the phrase 'honour amongst thieves’.

If anything, he is a gentleman. He’ll see it through until the end, until Shinichi no longer has a use for the criminal, until he has to throw behind his identity of 'Kuroba Kaito’ for good.

“Thanks.” Shinichi says, before sharing a look with Hattori. “The case files are in Tokyo.”

For a moment, Kaito stiffens - because, surely Shinichi has not suggested that they head into the most heavily policed and populated city in all of Japan. The look on his face must ask for some sort of repetition, because Shinichi repeats Tokyo once more.

“Oh yeah, sure,” Kaito says, “what a brilliant idea. Why can’t Hattori get the files?”

Shinichi falters again, scratches at his neck. Kaito narrows his eyes, repeats his question.

“Hattori can’t get to them without raising suspicion,” Shinichi mutters. “And if Hattori raises any suspicions, we can’t have him help us anymore. So I - So we need to get them and then move on to somewhere we won’t be found.”

Kaito snaps his fingers, grins. “I’ve got a few safe houses in Tokyo, and some others around Japan. Give me twenty minutes and a computer and I’ll be able to tell you which ones haven’t been found by the police.”

“That’s something we don’t have to plan then,” Shinichi says, “we just need to figure out how to get the actual files.”

Apprehension squeezes his bones, makes his skin feel tight, but Kaito manages to ask, “where are they?”

When Shinichi scratches this time, he’s moved his fingers to his cheek. He’s sheepish - it doesn’t make Kaito feel any better.

“Tokyo’s main metropolitan police department?”


Tokyo - The same time


“Aoko doesn’t understand.” Aoko says, and she’s biting down on her lip, sat back on a chair watching as her father pours himself into his work. She’d thought that they’d finally been getting along better, had the capability of a better relationship now that he’d finally caught KID, had finally cut down on his own work load, but apparently he’s as lost in his duties as ever.

“What don’t you understand, Nakamori-san?” Aoko doesn’t like that Hakuba of all people is the one trying to help, not when he’s the reason she’s been feeling lonely recently. He’s the reason that Kaito is gone, and Aoko can’t forgive him for that, even if Kaito is KID.

“KID… Aoko understands why he’d want to escape, but… Kaito would never work with someone who hurts others.” Aoko shrinks in on herself, leaning back on her chair. She’s been ushered out of her father’s office, and is sat around one of the spare desks. Shortly after she’d been kicked out of the office, Hakuba and Mouri Ran had sat opposite her.

Mouri shares a look with Hakuba.

“Shinichi isn’t… we don’t believe he did it,” Mouri protests, leaning forwards.

Aoko reads the belief on the girl’s face, sees herself echoed between each crease on the other girls face. It’s not that Aoko doesn’t believe her conviction it’s just… she also remembers how her own concrete beliefs had been shattered following the unveiling of Kaito’s crimes.

“Aoko doesn’t know…” She says, “because she doesn’t think that Kaito would be easily tricked. But she also doesn’t know what KID is capable of.”

Hakuba leans forward on the desk. He says, “work with us on this. You know Kuroba-kun better than anyone in the world, and Ran-san knows Kudo-kun best. If you… If there is any part of you that wants to find Kuroba-kun before the police, I beg you to help us.”

Aoko narrows her eyes. “Why do you want to find them before the police?”

Mouri responds first. She says, “we think the escape had to do with Shinichi’s upcoming death penalty… We’re not sure why KID… er, Kuroba-kun, decided to help, but we do think that Shinichi’s innocence might have had something to do with it.”

“Hakuba-kun is certain that this Kudo-kun is innocent? He’s not tricking Aoko?”

“I promise you that we’re not tricking you.” Hakuba says, “I’ve not lied to you before now, Nakamori-san, I’m not going to start now. We have questions that need to be answered before we let those two get caught… If you’ve got any questions for Kuroba-kun…”

This might be the only chance to truly ask them. The words are unspoken, but Aoko hears them ringing in her head - and she does have questions. She’s had them since the moment she’d first learned Kaito was KID, back at the heist when her father had finally been victorious in catching him. 

(Even now she knows it was a fluke, knows it wasn’t so much her father but the vibrating gun shots that had left Kaito without a suitable exit.)

She has so much to ask - and she knows she should have simply asked when Kaito had phoned… but… She’d just been so glad to hear his voice at first, and then… Then he’d gone and acted like that - that criminal.

“Aoko will do it.” She says, nodding her head. “Aoko will help in any way she can.”

Hakuba nods, beside him, Mouri gives a smile, overwhelming with its intensity. The brightness is blinding.

“After all,” Aoko continues, turning away from the duo, “Aoko still needs to hit Kaito for toying with the police.”

Chapter Text

Osaka  - 10.15 am


Heiji doesn’t stick around.

He leaves Nara behind with a basic plan of how they’re going to deal with the days to come, before leaving the small apartment behind, making his way towards his own motorcycle, readying himself for the drive back home. It’s about half past nine when he starts up his bike, and he needs to be back home within an hour to greet Kazuha when she comes around.

He hadn’t even remembered until six a.m that he’d promised to take her out for okonomiyaki today, and that she’d be over at ten-thirty.

It’s almost… unnerving to leave both Kudo and Kuroba behind, even if he’s left them with a disposable phone that they can use whenever they need to contact him. Not that he doesn’t trust them, it’s just - he doesn’t like the idea of them both getting caught, and the two of them going to Tokyo doesn’t quite install any confidence in him.

He makes it back home with fifteen minutes to spare - usually it takes him half an hour to get back into Osaka when he takes the Daini Hanna toll road, but there’s busy traffic today - and even then, his speed is only fast because he weaves in and out of cars, ignoring the loud beeps that echo after him.

(It’s not exactly the safest driving, but these drivers haven’t seen an angry Toyama Kazuha before, so Heiji forgives them for misunderstanding.)

As soon as he’s parked his motorcycle, he races into the house, discards his shoes, and heads straight up to his room to change into clean clothes. The idea of settling down on his bed only serves to make him feel tired, so he forces his way down to the kitchen, pours himself a drink, before settling back against the counter.

He doesn’t have to wait long for Kazuha to show up, but during his wait for her to show, he glances through the morning news on his app, trying to make sense of the lack of reports on the prison escape. It’s been ten hours, Heiji doubts that the police can keep something this large out of the media for much longer.

“Heiji!”

The detective turns at the sound of Kazuha’s shout from his front door - his mother is out with friends, his father is never home, so he doesn’t expect her to apologise for her intrusion - and calls back that he’s in the kitchen.

As soon as she’s swapped her shoes for slippers, Kazuha pops her head around the wall, sending him a small glare. Already, Heiji knows that he’s forgotten to do something important - he’s too tired to figure out what.

“I phoned ya earlier an’ ya didn’t pick up, ahou.” She says, when she settles into the chair opposite his, leaning over to face him on the corner. “What’s the point in havin’ a phone if ya won’t answer it?”

Heiji glances down at his phone, pulls up his missed calls and realises that she’s not lying - there are two missed calls on his phone from her that he’d forgotten to take. His lips tighten when he turns the phone around to face her.

“Why’d ya phone at six a.m, idiot? I coulda been asleep!”

She gives him a look that says that ‘you obviously weren’t’ and Heiji gives her a blank stare back until his phone starts buzzing in his hand.

Kazuha squints at his phone screen and says, “who’s Hakuba?”

Heiji frowns, turns the phone around to press answer and says, “not anyone important.”


Tokyo - The same time.


It’s the mention of getting both Kuroba and Kudo’s files from their time in solitary that reminds Saguru that he’d asked Hattori to send him over Kudo’s psychiatric files. It’s not exactly odd that Hattori hasn’t sent them over - he’s the type who’ll take his time, and make things harder for Saguru at every turn - but it does make him remember that there are parts to their case that they need to catch Aoko up on.

He mentions it to her, and her first response is that they phone again. With both KID and Kudo on the run as criminals, they need whatever information they can get.

“Saguru-kun,” Ran says, when he’s pulled his phone out from his pocket, having poured over the visiting sheets they’d been given by Inspector Nakamori, “Hattori-kun isn’t on Shinichi’s list of visitors. I’m the only one on it.”

Saguru doesn’t want to pause about what that means, about the fact that Kudo’s parents had never visited their son, how Hattori had probably never been invited by Kudo to the prison. Instead, he mutters, “Let’s just ask Hattori-kun about it.”

Aoko leans forward. She says, “Tell him about the escape as well.”

“We’ve been warned not to tell anyone about this escape,” Saguru responds, glancing away from his phone to face her. Her eyes are narrowed. While she’s been perfectly civil towards him while they’d been catching her up, the glisten to her eyes cannot hide the distrust she has in him.

“Hakuba said Hattori-kun is a detective, right?” She leans back in her chair, relaxed within the police station. Saguru imagines that she’s more adjusted to spending time in a station than at her own time, with the amount of time she spends trying to visit her father. “So he can help track those two down.”

Ran says, “I don’t know-”

“He thinks that Kudo is innocent, right?” Aoko asks. “Just say it. Aoko doesn’t see a reason to hold off on telling him.”

Saguru sighs, shakes his head. It’s not exactly a bad idea… and if Hattori decides to help, they’ll be able to work with someone who’s talked to prisoner Kudo Shinichi, and isn’t weighing him against the teenager they’d known in the past.

He nods, and presses call. Then, at Ran’s request, he puts the phone on speakerphone.

“I said I’d send ya the files in a while,” Hattori says when he picks up. There’s a voice behind him - female, Toyama-san - asking whether 'Hakuba is that British detective he’s complained about in the past’, but the Osakan doesn’t offer any response.

“I’m not calling about those,” Saguru says, and already he wants to hang up. Talking to the hot-headed man always makes him feel irritated, even though he tries to remain calm at all time. “Although, it would be beneficial if you sent them over sooner than later.”

Hattori lets out a sigh, “What'dya want then?”

“Early this morning, Kudo-kun and Kaito KID escaped from prison.” Saguru doesn’t think that sugarcoating it will be effective, not with something like this, so he tells it straight. “The police are currently going crazy over it.”

“He what?” There’s disbelief there, but Saguru can hear something else mixed in alongside it. He’s unsure whether it’s relief or confusion, but it’s certainly something. It’s probably nothing important though, and Saguru files it away so that he can think about it later, when he’s dealt with more serious things.

“They escaped.” Saguru repeats, ignoring Hattori’s response of 'oh shit’ as he glances up at the clock. They need the solitary files - if only because it gives a clear idea of how they’d been acting during their imprisonment, detailed reports giving them a pattern of behaviour to look out for.

Saguru doesn’t really know how to feel about the fact that both teenagers have found themselves confined in solitary. He’s read up on the effects of solitary confinement in the past and… it makes him nervous to think what it must have been like.

“Wait,” Hattori says before Saguru can speak again. “Are ya sure you ain’t pullin’ my leg, it’s not in the news of anythin’.”

Saguru pinches the bridge of his nose. While he knows that it’s not a stupid question - a smart one actually, considering the dislike they share - he doesn’t really have the patience to explain fully. Instead, he says, “the police want to hold off on letting the public know. They don’t want to cause a panic.”

“I see…” Hattori says, and in the background, he can hear muffled movement, “we’ll 'ave ta find 'em before the newspapers catch on then.”

Saguru glances over at Aoko - the smile she sends him is smug, is clearly a non-verbal version of 'I-told-you-he’d-help’.

“That’d be great, so those files-”

“I’ll bring 'em with me,” Hattori says. Saguru can hear footsteps against a hollow staircase, echoing through the speaker, but he doesn’t comment on them, waits instead for the Osakan to explain what he means. “You gonna be at the station in a few hours still? Or do ya wanna meet somewhere else?”

“Hattori-kun is coming to Tokyo?” Aoko asks, and if Hattori is alarmed by her voice, he doesn’t let it show. He’s probably heard the static of the speaker phone and realised there were other people with him.

“Yeah,” Hattori says, “Kudo’s probably gonna try to visit that nee-chan - er, his girlfriend - right? I imagine he wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to see her before disappearin’ for good, ya know?”

Saguru bites his lip. He hadn’t thought of that. He’s never thought of Kudo as a very sentimental person, but from the amount of visits he’d had with Ran - it’d be stupid to think he’d be able to throw their bond away without so much as saying goodbye.

“It’s certainly a possibility,” Saguru says, glancing at over at Ran. She sends him a tight smile; He wonders whether the possibility of Shinichi being caught again will be due to her, and whether Ran herself is worrying about the idea of being his downfall. “We’re still waiting on some files from the prison, so we’ll probably still be here if you take the train…”

“Good,” Hattori says, “text if anythin’ changes, 'kay?”

“Okay.”

The phone line goes dead.

When he turns to the others, they are wearing a mixture of emotions. Ran’s face is worried, lines spreading across her forehead, fingers rubbing at her ear as she rereads the files they’ve been given. Aoko’s expression however, is still morphed into a smug glee.

“See, Aoko told you that it’d be a good idea to talk to Hattori-kun about the case.”

Saguru isn’t so sure.


Nara Station - 11.19 a.m


“For the record,” Shinichi mutters, “this is a bad idea.”

Glancing around the train station, wearing the disguise of a woman in her early twenties, Kaito nods. Hair tickles his neck, from the wig he’d been brought, brown curls bouncing against the dress he’s wearing. There was a time when Kaito would have been self-conscious about walking around in women’s clothing, but years of being KID has made it seem like second nature.

Beside him, Shinichi is wearing a suit - a man in his late twenties, black hair - looking very put out in the large area they’re standing in.

“Yeah,” Kaito says, shrugging his shoulders. “But, we’ll be fine.”

Shinichi sends him an incredulous look, eyebrows raised, face pale. Despite his disguise including a change in skin tone - something Kaito had insisted was necessary if Shinichi wanted to remain dressed as a man - the nervous sheen to his skin makes it seem counterproductive.

“We’re three minutes away from a police station,” Shinichi hisses as they make their way to the vending machines, lining up to buy tickets. “When I say this is a bad idea, I mean it’s really bad.”

Kaito turns back to Shinichi, gives him a look that tells him that he should shut up, before stepping forward to buy tickets. Shinichi follows behind him, hovering as Kaito presses the ticket that will take them to Shinagawa station in Tokyo.

“Listen,” Kaito says, “you didn’t think it was a bad idea when we were talking with Hattori about it. So calm down, and act like we’re meant to be here.”

“But we’re not meant to be here.”

Kaito sends him a look. He’s lucky that Heiji had thought ahead to withdraw enough for their tickets, because right now they’re relying on him for funding. Well - it’s not like they’re going to be able to take money out of their own accounts without it raising alerts to the police.

He’s got fake bank accounts with alias’ at some of his safe houses though - if they can get to one that’s not been discovered by the police, they’ll be given a network for money. Figuring out which safe houses have been found though… it’s another task they’ve given to Hattori.

Kaito almost feels guilty.

Almost.

“We’re not meant to be anywhere but our cell.” Kaito waves the comment away. “But you said it yourself, we need to get to Tokyo to get your files, right? The train is the quickest way there.”

He collects the tickets when they’re printed off, and pockets them in his jacket pocket. Then, he pivots on heels, turning to face Shinichi, pulling him along by his hand, sparing him a toothy grin.

“They’ll expect us to take the train.” Shinichi protests, although his expression morphs to something more confident as they continue walking. It’s almost as if he’s started to adopt the role of his disguise, the details Kaito had given him being emphasised through relaxed shoulders and a heavy footed walk.

Kaito wags his finger. He says, “no they won’t. They’ll expect us to try and blend in with all the other cars travelling during Golden week. Hattori told us that they’ve set a checkpoint on the Tomei expressway checking all the vehicles for us. They’re not looking at the trains right now.”

Shinichi retaliates with a groan.

Kaito can’t help but think that maybe the ex-detective places too much hope on the police force. In Kaito’s experience, they’re not exactly the… brightest police force he’s come across.

“And even if they do look at the trains,” Kaito chirps, as they make their way down to the platform. The next train is scheduled to show in fifteen minutes, and Kaito wants to be early, “it’s not like they’ll be able to pick out the disguises.”

“Didn’t they check your disguises by pinching at your cheeks?” Shinichi mutters.

Kaito brushes curls from his face, turns to look at the other man. His eyes glisten with something similar to mischief, a playful smile gracing his face, his cheeks dimpled as he snickers.

“Why do you think we’ve used glue today? There’s no pulling these off without a huge tub of vaseline, and a lot of soapy water.”

Shinichi laugh is more alarmed than amused. He raises an eyebrow, and shakes his head. “You’re an idiot.”

“Let’s just get on the train.”

Chapter Text

Tokyo MPD - 3.54 pm


“They took their time sending it over,” Aoko’s father says when she returns to division two. She, Hakuba and Ran had left for lunch after Ran’s stomach had started to growl, and after deciding on tempura, they’d left the busy police station behind. “But here are the reports from solitary. I printed copies for you.”

Her father doesn’t hand them to her, but rather to Hakuba and while it irritates Aoko that he’s trusting the teenager who dragged Kaito away over her, she doesn’t say anything.

Maybe because she knows it useless. It’s not like her father thinks she can find KID - she’d not known even when she’d been standing next to him.

Aoko shakes her head, and perches on the chair beside Ran.

“Aoko wants to read Kaito’s first,” she says, glancing at Hakuba. “Before either Hakuba or Ran-chan reads it.”

It’s a selfish request, she knows, but out of the three of them, she feels like she’s the one entitled to know what happened to him. Hakuba hesitates - clearly he wants to read them before the girls, wants to be the first one to know everything, how utterly like him. But he doesn’t hold onto the papers when Ran flicks through the pages, tugs papers from his fingers.

“Ran-san…” Hakuba says, but Ran doesn’t offer an explanation to him, simply placing the papers down in front of Aoko, offering a smile.

“We’ll look over Shinichi’s reports,” Ran says, “you read over Kuroba-kun’s, and we’ll swap in a minute, okay?”

Aoko mouths ‘thank you’ before looking down at the papers. There aren’t that many pages, no more than ten, and one glance at Kudo’s tells her that the ex-detective had gotten into far more trouble than Kaito had. (Either that, or time is a large factor. Aoko isn’t actually that sure.)

She decides not to spare the amount of pages any additional though, and instead, leans forward, both elbows on the desk, immersing herself in Kaito’s report.

Incident report - Prisoner 093253

The inmate was found attempting to escape in the gatehouse at approx. 2350.

Initial period of two days in solitary confinement has been issued by Guard: XXXX

Somehow, Aoko isn’t surprised about this incident. It’s kind of… expected when it comes to Kaito - he’s not the type of person who’s taken much notice of the rules. It’s expected of KID too, the escape artist that he is, who wouldn’t suspect him of trying to scheme his way out of prison.

This report, she skims over with only mild interest. It’s more technical than she’d expected, and Kaito doesn’t really do anything over the days. The reports did say that he was electrocuted though, but the guard who had caught him, so she suspects that he’d probably be quieter. He always did seem to be less outrageous whenever he was sick, recovering from flus and any other illnesses he’d had.

She turns the page, glances over the next incident - there are only two, if the markings (2/2) mean anything - and takes a deep breath.

Inmate was issued three days of solitary confinement following an outburst within visiting room A.

It’s not until she sees some of the transcribed outbursts he’d made that Aoko remembers to breathe again. She shudders, choppy breaths hitched as she glances over claims of innocence and death penalties and-

Aoko turns the page. She can’t keep reading Kaito’s words - they echo in her head, Kaito’s voice ringing out, sounding vaguely similar to the way he’d cried alongside her when his father had died. The next page is less painful to read over.

Well, the first half of his second visit to solitary confinement isn’t painful. He’s mostly quiet, there aren’t many notes written down. From the looks of the pages, he’s a perfect inmate, well behaved when he’s sat inside his cell.

It doesn’t seem very much like Kaito, for the first three days of solitary. He’s never been well behaved. Ever since they’d first met beneath the clocktower, Kaito had been pulling pranks and creating trouble. Never once has Aoko seen him play by the rules; he’s always had a passion for standing out, not fitting in.

Aoko sighs.

Then, she turns the page, and she sees it.

Possible visual hallucinations. Inmate’s grown more unsettled over the course of days 4-5.

Aoko bites her cheek. Her gaze lingers over the word 'unsettled’ before dragging it down to the transcribed conversation they’d written in the report. It’s not complete, starts halfway through, and while she’s certain something big had happened before hand, she’s not exactly sure whether it’s enough to lead to… this.

“The difference is easy to find.” - “Then tell me.” - “Aoko doesn’t want to.” - “Just tell me!”

Despite her best efforts, Aoko lets out a sob. It is quiet, at first. A silent shudder not unlike the tears she’d shed months ago, when she’d first found out, when she’d first learned of the connection between KID and Kaito, and the realisation that Kaito wasn’t going to catch the bus with her to their entrance exams at Musashi university. 

She wipes at her eyes the same way she had when Keiko had promised they’d go together instead, the same way she’d brushed away tears as she’d waited by the phone for her idiot best friend to call and just explain everything to her.

Her body collapses on itself as she turns the page, forcing herself to read everything, the same way it had when she’d spent an entire evening waiting for her father to come home from work. He’d solved the case, hadn’t he, so why had he kept her waiting?

She was always left behind… By the people she love, by time. By life.

Another sob. She reaches the final page, skims the contents until she’s reached the final word. When she looks up, tears blurring her sight, Hakuba and Ran haven’t seemed to notice her - she’s glad. All she needs to do is go clean herself up, and then… then she’ll be able to focus on finding Kaito, that idiot, and reading over Kudo’s file.

She pushes her seat out from beneath the table, stands. Then, at the sight of watermarks on the pages beneath her, Aoko stills. She flips the paper over.

“I’ll be back in a moment,” Aoko says, turning away from the table so that no one can see her face. She doesn’t give either Hakuba or Ran any opportunity to respond and is out of the room before either can respond.


“Ran-san…”

“Yes,” Ran says, turning to look at Saguru. She’s watched Aoko’s departure out of the corner of her eye, had seen the tears soaking paper, “I saw.”

“Should we-”

His phone buzzes in his pocket, and Saguru glances down. He glances down, reads the number on across the screen, before looking back up at Ran.

“I’ll go check on Aoko-chan.” She says, when he says it’s Hattori. “You answer that call, I’ll be back in a while.”

Saguru nods. “…Make sure she’s alright? Aoko-kun… she doesn’t like to let anyone know she’s suffering.”

Ran wraps her hands around her stomach, standing up. It sounds familiar, almost like Ran is the one being described. She remembers how hard it had been the first initial months without Shinichi, and she’d been able to visit him - Aoko… as far as she knows, hasn’t had any contact with him since his arrest.

“I will.” Ran promises, leaving the room in pursuit.


Aoko doesn’t make it to the bathroom.

She curls in on herself halfway down the second corridor, slides down the wall until she reaches the floor and lets herself cry. She’s glad for the urgency within the station, because no one stops to ask if she’s okay, to wrapped up in their own business to inquire about hers.

She can hear the transcript in her head, can hear Kaito’s words as if they’re being spoken right in front of her. She doesn’t know why she’s so overwhelmed, why she feels like someone is twisting her intestines - shouldn’t she be glad that Kaito was thinking about what she’d asked?

“Just tell me!”

His words filled her lungs like water. It was her fault, wasn’t it, for the torment he’d endured? When he’d called, she’d just caused more suffering, when she should have been understanding, should have known he’d been punished enough, that she shouldn’t have added to it by making him question…

“Aoko-chan.”

Aoko stills at the voice, but refuses to look up. Instead, she closes her eyes, trying to ignore the shuffling as Ran sits beside her. Glancing through the small hole between her legs and her arms, she notices that Ran is sat cross legged beside her.

“It hurts, doesn’t it,” Ran whispers after a few minutes of silence, “to read what they’ve gone through?”

Aoko doesn’t respond.

“The last time I saw Shinichi… He asked me to give up on him.” She pauses, chokes on the words. “And… I don’t think my heart would have been able to cope with that if I hadn’t been able to talk to anyone about it.”

They’ve not talked much before, Aoko knows, but there is some sort of link between them already. They both have to live with an absence in their lives, and Aoko wonders whether Ran is hurting as much as she is.

“You genuinely think Kudo-kun is innocent?” She asks, and tries not to sob when Ran responds with a quiet, yet firm, ‘I do’. “Well… Aoko knows that Kaito is guilty. She knows that he’s KID. She just doesn’t know how to feel about it.”

The curiosity behind KID’s identity had created her, has built Aoko into the person she is today. All of the protests against KID, all the time spent hating him and… and then her curiosity had just as easily destroyed her. How stupid that she’d told herself to never trust a liar - to never trust a thief - and yet… here she is… unable to figure out where she stands.

“What was Kuroba-kun like?” Ran asks. “I always find that it’s easier to figure out how you feel, from the memories you first come up with.”

Aoko closes her eyes, lifts her head up from her arms and leans back against the wall. She wipes away her tears, and she thinks.

“Kaito was…” She racks her brain for words, pictures him in her brain and scratches at her arm with nails. “Aoko doesn’t think he loved anything more than a crowd… He probably cared more about what everyone thought than what Aoko ever did.”

Beside her, Ran reaches out a hand, taking Aoko’s. She gives it a soft squeeze.

“And… he was always close enough to touch, but never close enough to Aoko to let himself get hurt,” she says, “Kaito was always the one saving Aoko, all the time. Even though he was always such a nuisance and constantly embarrassed Aoko daily, he never let anyone else make fun of her.”

Another squeeze, and Aoko falters as she searches for words.

“We went to find a monster in school once, and Kaito tried to keep Aoko safe…” She hesitates, “Aoko just wishes…” No, the illeism doesn’t seem right… not at the moment. She pushes it away. “I just wish that I hadn’t put all my faith in him.”

Emotion crashes over her like waves to the shore - hatred for KID, guilt that it means all this time Kaito has been conflicted, sadness now he’s gone… Fear that she’ll never see him again.

“We give away things we won’t ever get back,” Ran says, and when Aoko opens her eyes, there are tears in the other girls eyes as well. “But it’s okay… Those boys probably need it more anyway.”

Aoko glances at Ran, chokes on another sob. She says, “We need to get back-”

“The investigation can wait a little longer.” Ran says. “It’s okay to have a bit of time to ourselves.”

Aoko blinks, shudders again. This time, when Ran squeezes her hand, Aoko squeezes back.

“Aoko doesn’t know who Kaito is anymore…” She whispers, and then she is sobbing again, fingers wrapping around Ran’s jumper, tears staining fabric. She lets out a wail, pain bleeding from her - the thought of never hearing Kaito’s laugh again overwhelming her until she feels like her heart is disintegrating, turning into ash.

And it hurts, because even if she doesn’t know who he is anymore, she’s still willing to love him endlessly. Because even after everything that’s happened with KID she’s still unable to let go of the red string of fate that binds them together.

It’s agonising, because in the end, he still matters the most.

Chapter Text

Tokyo - 4.01 pm


“I still don’t think that this is a good idea.”

Kaito doesn’t respond to the nervousness this time, grabs hold of Shinichi’s words and throws them out into the wind. 

Nothing they’re going to do, really, is going to be a good idea - breaking out of prison and causing panic across the police force was technically a bad idea, but they’ve done it. Catching the train into Tokyo wasn’t the smartest idea either, but well, they’ve been walking around Chiyoda for over an hour now, weaving in and out of crowds.

He’s not even sure what Shinichi’s worried about. Either he’s uneasy by the crowds that swamp them, drowning them in a sea of pedestrians, or he’s unsettled by the fact that they’ve slowly started to wander in the direction of the police station they’re planning to break into.

Kaito doesn’t particularly mind it himself, slowly sidestepping closer and closer towards his target. They can’t go into the station yet - need to prepare, need a little more time to come up with a plan that won’t get them caught immediately - but they can case out the station.

“Listen,” Shinichi mutters, “we shouldn’t test our luck. We should plan and then go near the station-”

The thief turns to him, gives him a blank expression before shaking his head. It’s stupid to hesitate, Kaito thinks. Why would they want to subject themselves to extra worry, negativity that might not even affect them at all.

He just needs Shinichi to think of something else. Anything that gets him to forget about their proximity to the police station will be welcome, and Kaito needs it to be big. He can’t talk about their personal lives - cannot say anything that people might overhear and link back to them later… but…

“I never actually told you about Pandora, did I?”

Shinichi stops in his tracks. And just like that, Kaito’s pretty sure that he’s got the ex-detective’s attention. It just sucks that he has to talk about Pandora, to get him to stop thinking about being captured again.

“You didn’t.” Shinichi says quietly, walking again, next to Kaito in the street. It’s weird having conversations with one another in fake voices, Kaito thinks, but at least he’s not the one who’s listening to a female - he wonders whether it’s easy for the detective to remain serious, or whether he has to try.

“It’s a gemstone.” Kaito says, after a few seconds. “It’s the one I’ve been trying to steal for years. The one I ruined my life to find.”

Beside him, Shinichi stares at the ground. Kaito doesn’t know what’s going on in the detective’s mind, but there’s surely something circling around, questions he wants to ask. Sometimes, when they talk, Kaito wonders whether Shinichi is judging him - he’s not a criminal, and Kaito is… He wonders if he’s judging him now.

“Why Pandora?” He asks, and Kaito isn’t sure if he’s asking why that gem in particular, or why he decided to choose Pandora over the rest of his life.

Sometimes, Kaito wonders it himself - he could be living a perfectly average life right now, but… He really shouldn’t spend his time looking back.

“The original KID was murdered when he didn’t steal it for them.” Kaito says. “So, now I’m going to find it, and I’m going to destroy it.”

Shinichi sighs, and for a moment, Kaito doesn’t know how to react. He smiles instead, like a machine trying to act out emotions, the quirk of his lips strained.

He tilts his head when he looks at Shinichi, the subtle action screaming at him to respond.

“I’m going to take down the organisation that killed my father,” Kaito continues, throwing his arms up and spinning around to face Shinichi on the pavement, walking backwards. He grins, “And you know what? It’s going to make all of what’s happened worth it.”

The responding frown isn’t very comforting, but Kaito doesn’t let it bother him.

Instead, he waits for Shinichi to speak, watches at the ex-detective grapples for the right words - He doesn’t seem able to find them.

“I didn’t think you’d be the type of person who wants revenge.” Shinichi says.

“You’re trying to take down your own organisation,” Kaito points out, “tell me that’s not slightly out of revenge, for the fact that they got you thrown into prison. Tell me you’re not going to feel any satisfaction when you get them thrown into prison.”

“That’s different,” Shinichi sighs, and it’s obvious to anyone with ears that this is not the way he’d imagined the conversation going. It’s not how Kaito had imagined it either, but he’s never been very good at letting things go - is probably why he’s in this situation in the first place. “My indictment was a result of my investigation. And I was only looking into it because it was the right thing to do.”

“I’m also doing the right thing.” Kaito says.

“Are you?” Shinichi asks. This time, it is Kaito who stops walking - beneath his mask the blood drains from his cheeks, and his smile falters ever so slightly. He should have known that detectives only ever take the moral high road… But still… He takes a breath and reworks the smile back onto his face.

“Frankly, I don’t know. I’ve only ever been taught the law - Nobody explained the difference between right and wrong. I think everyone just assumed that I got it, that rightness coincides with lawfulness, but that’s… that’s not true…”

Kaito turns walks ahead of Shinichi so that the ex-detective can only see his back.

“Maybe you’re right…” Shinichi says from behind him. “The law hasn’t exactly helped me out either… Looks like we’re just on our own to figure it all out.”

Kaito lets out a small laugh, “we’ve got a lot of time to figure it out, I suppose.”


“I can’t believe ya fell asleep on th’ train.”

Heiji lets out a sigh, rubs the sleep from his eyes as he pockets his phone. He’s done the polite thing, has checked in on Hakuba’s situation at the police station - You’ll be able to find us in Department Two, we’re sat in the main offices. 

He’s also done the illegal thing, and checked in on Kudo and Kuroba, the phone call short and brief, telling them he’s also in Tokyo and that he’ll check in with them properly when he’s got more information.

Now, cradling his cheek in his hand, he stares out of the window of his taxi, Kazuha sat beside him. He’s not told her everything about the reason he’s decided to come to Tokyo, hasn’t even mentioned the case - but she does know that it’s got to do with him being a detective.

“I was tired, ya can’ blame me for tha’.” Heiji whines as the taxi pulls up at the station. He yawns, stretching his legs as much as he can in his chair. He can’t wait to be outside again, to actually stretch without hitting his elbows against the car’s interior.

“I guess not.” Kazuha sighs, “Were ya workin’ a case again?”

Heiji nods, leans forward to pass the taxi driver his fare. As they’re getting out of the taxi, he says, “yeah, was looking over a few murders.”

“As you do,” Kazuha says, climbing out of the taxi. They grab their bags - they’ve not brought much from Osaka, just two backpacks, each with clothes that will last them a few days - before making their way into the station.

Neither Osakan has been to the station before, and have to ask at the front desk for directions. It takes a while, since everything is so hectic - Heiji has the faint feeling that Kuroba would love to hear that, it seems to fit what he’s read about KID - but after a while, one detective says that he’s on his way there and that he’ll show them the way.

He introduces himself as Detective Takagi, and Heiji tries not to let it show on his face that he recognises the name from Kudo’s stories. Instead, he grabs hold of Kazuha’s wrist and pulls her along with him, telling her to hurry up and not be an inconvenience.

“Ahou,” Kazuha mutters, but her steps quicken.

“Don’t be such'a idiot, idiot.” Heiji says, and lets out a small laugh as she hits his arm.

It doesn’t take long until they reach division two however, and their playfulness dies out, drowned out with the serious atmosphere that swamps the division.

Kaitou KID had been their biggest arrest in years, the sheer publicity of catching KID reaching the news stations not only in Japan but across Europe as well.

The fact that Kuroba is now free… well… The moment it gets out to the media, Heiji’s certain the division is going to have difficulties surviving the scrutiny.

“Thanks detective,” he says to Takagi, before calling out for Hakuba, who’s sat by a desk. Kazuha trails behind him, mutters under her breath that ‘I wasn’t expectin’ th’ guy to be so… blond…’ stopping a step behind Heiji by the table.

“The psych files ya wanted,” Heiji says by way of greeting, and drops the file in front of Hakuba, grinning as the other detective jumps, glancing up from the stack of paper he’d been reading over. “How’s th’ investigation goin’?”

Hakuba frowns, before signalling at Heiji to take a seat.

He does, and beside him Kazuha sits as well, although she pulls out her phone. Heiji finds it astonishing how easy it is for her to tune out cases, especially when they’re in a police station - it truly marks her as the daughter of a police chief.

“It’s difficult.” Hakuba says, passing the papers he’s been reading over to Heiji to read.

They’re about Kudo’s time in solitary confinement, and Heiji glances over them with minimal interest. He already knows the basics of what had happened - Kudo had caught a lot of murderers, and inside the prison, he’d had to protect himself. Violence was a necessary evil, and while Heiji doesn’t condone it, he understands.

“It’s not easy to solve, I mean.” Hakuba continues. “The solitary reports aren’t telling me much. I’ve not looked at KID’s yet, but Kudo-kun’s are telling me things I’d already gathered. Some violence, although it’s only ever against people he’d gotten convicted…”

“Except here,” Heiji says, having flicked through the pages, and stopped on the final pages. “On this page, he gets two days in solitary fer attacking Yoshida Haruki - he wasn’ one o’ the men convicted by Kudo before he was locked away.”

“No…” Hakuba says, taking the paper that Heiji passes to him, to look over the incident report. “But he was present at one of KID’s heists a year ago… was arrested shortly after KID was for grievous bodily harm… Do you think… This was the first point of contact between the two?”

Heiji nods - it’s the first link they’ve been able to find, anyway. He remembers Kudo telling him about standing up for Kaitou KID, and wanting to talk to the criminal he’d once squared off with in the past.

“And then th’s final incident.” Heiji says, reading over it. “He got eight days in solitary after a violent outburst wit’ a guard?”

Hakuba nods. “It’s probably a lead, but I’m not sure what to make of it yet.”

Neither does Heiji… The next time he talks to Kudo, he’ll have to ask him about it. It’s something Kudo had kept even from him. He doesn’t fully understand why Kudo would fight with a guard - either something big had happened to settle him… or… maybe he’d wanted to get himself locked in solitary for an extended time.

“It’s something we’ll have t’ look into.” Heiji agrees, and tries not to shudder at the thought of it. He crosses his arms, “what other leads have we got? We might need some to do with the actual escape, not what happened weeks before it.”

Hakuba’s expression shutters, and crosses his arms over the table. He steeples his fingers, and Heiji hates when the Brit does that, because he’s one of the few people who can steeple their fingers without looking completely stupid.

“All the guards found in the cell when searching for any clues, was a playing card on the top bunk.” Hakuba sighs, “it had KID’s caricature on it, along with the words, ‘better luck next time’, scrawled in pencil.”

Heiji has to suppress a grin. Such a bold display left behind by Kuroba makes him believe that the thief might actually want the police to come chasing after him again. He wonders whether Kuroba enjoys having the police on his trail - whether he likes the danger that comes along with it.

Maybe he’ll ask.

“Well… then…” Heiji says, “maybe this is a sign that Kuroba plans on coming back to play games with the KID task force.”

Hakuba glances up, “…Kuroba?”

Heiji freezes for a millisecond, realises that he probably shouldn’t be referring to Kuroba by his surname, before offering a sheepish smile. “That’s what KID’s called right? There’s no use calling him a phantom thief if everyone knows his name.”

He receives a raised eyebrow. “… I suppose that makes sense. You’re probably right though, KID isn’t just going to give up his heists, when I spoke to him last, he told me that he was searching for something. He’ll resume heists until he finds the gemstone he’s after.”

“Do you think he’ll come back to Tokyo then?” Heiji asks, despite knowing that they’re already in the city, walking around, waiting for Heiji to send them crucial information on the locations of any safe houses that Kuroba had before his capture.

“It’s certainly possible.” Hakuba nods. “Aoko-kun… Ah… Inspector Nakamori’s daughter, seems to think that he’ll return to Tokyo.”

Heiji nods. “And Kudo, do you think they’ll be travelling together?”

Hakuba shrugs. “I’m not sure yet. From the way he got angry over Kudo-kun’s case however, I think that KID might be loyal to Kudo-kun for at least a short time. But, I’m not sure.”

“Okay…” Heiji nods his head, takes the information in. “Suppose they’re in Tokyo… I imagine KID would have places they’d be able to hide. I’m pretty sure newspapers said that he had safehouses. Think he’ll use any?”

“It’s possible.” Hakuba reaches over, picks up a bulky folder. It’s labelled Kaitou 1412, and Heiji waits as the detective opens it up, flipping through pages until coming to a stop. “There were four locations found when he was caught. All found through CCTV feeds to give us more evidence for a conviction. We could suggest to the Inspector to watch over the locations, just in case they drop by.”

Heiji nods, stands and reads the locations over Hakuba’s shoulder. He says, “that’s a good idea. We’re probably closer to catching them already.”


4.26 p.m


A text buzzes in Kaito’s pocket - he’d taken it from Shinichi shortly after the phone call with Hattori, testing his pickpocketing skills - and he pulls it out, almost eagerly.

In the text, are four addresses. Kaito curses, but after a few moments of hesitation, passing the phone over to Shinichi to read, he brightens again.

“Don’t worry,” Kaito says after a moment, “there are more places we can go.”
Shinichi raises an eyebrow, “really?”

Kaito nods, leans forward and grins. “They only found four of my Tokyo safe houses. I’ve got two more - so where do you want to go, Shinjuku or Nakano?”


The author very much so enjoys comments.

Chapter Text

4.40 p.m


They choose to head to Shinjuku - it’s a shorter distance to travel to from Chiyoda, and Kaito argues that the sooner they arrive at the safe house, the sooner they can come up with a plan that will get them inside the police station.

“We need to take out time coming up with this plan,” Shinichi says, when the leave behind a convenient store, bento’s and snacks in a plastic bag. “I don’t want to go into this half-heartedly.”

Kaito hums, looks at the ex-detective and decides that yes, it would be stupid to go into this without a plan. But he also thinks that waiting is a stupid idea.

“Tomorrow,” Kaito says, “we’ll head in tomorrow.”

Shinichi balks, catches him by his arm and pulls him back. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Kaito shakes his head. He says, "not at all. Remember what Hattori told us - the entirety of division one and two is in a state of panic right now. We use the panic as a smokescreen and sneak inside. It’s not like we’ll need to take the time to remember the blueprints of the station, since I already know them, and I’m pretty sure you do too.”

“Panic will make the police even more suspicious. We can’t just enter a police station-”

“We can.” Kaito skips forward, splashes his feet into a puddle, the water soaking his socks. It’s cold, and he regrets it almost immediately, but it leaves him grinning, reaffirming his freedom. He’d not had many days in the rain, had been locked inside his house…

“I’m being serious,” Shinichi sighs.

“And so am I. You think the police are going to suspect two escaped convicts to walk straight inside their main headquarters a day after they’ve escape prison?” Kaito shakes his head, “no. They still think we’re focusing on escape, not getting away. The longer we take to act, the more time they have to prepare countermeasures.”

Shinichi lets out a huff. It tells Kaito that while he doesn’t fully agree with the sentiment, he can admit that the plan isn’t completely stupid.

“I’m not exactly comfortable with it…” He says after a pause, glancing up at Kaito. He’s scratching at his neck again, his nails brushing off the makeup Kaito had used to hide his bruises. “But since we’re under pressure.”

Kaito grins, smiles again. “Only if the plan is fully formed. We won’t go in unprepared, I promise.”

Shinichi nods. “I’ll trust you on this.”

Tomorrow then, Kaito thinks.


The same time


“You took your time,” Saguru says when Ran rejoins the group, pulling Aoko along by her hand, his voice only slightly irritated, “don’t worry though, we waited for you.”

Beside him, is the detective Ran assumes to be Hattori Heiji. He’s dark-skinned, wearing a green hoodie that makes him look out of place amongst all of the detectives racing in and out of the department. Beside him is a girl, hair pulled back with a yellow bow, matching the yellow blouse she’s wearing.

“That’s good,” Ran says and nods, pulling Aoko down into the spare seats on the other side of the table - they’ve had to move to a bigger desk, have been forced to sit by the entrance, the area busier than their previous quiet corner. “Let’s get started then?”

Saguru nods, turns to Hattori and says, “Hattori, this is Mouri Ran, and behind her is Nakamori Aoko. They’re helping because they’ve got a link to both Kudo-kun and KID respectively. Ran-san, Aoko-san, this is Hattori Heiji.”

“An’ that’s Toyama Kazuha,” Hattori says, pointing to the girl, “but don’ worry, she ain’t a detective, so she’s not gonna get involved.”

Ran raises an eyebrow, decides it’s probably best not to ask why he’s brought his… friend… with him to a police station while he’s on a case, and pulls her chair in tighter, leaning forward over the table. She says, “you brought Shinichi’s psychological files, didn’t you, Hattori-kun?”

Hattori nods and points a finger towards the file in front of Saguru. He says, “huge misuse o’ trust, but if it gives ya leeway on where Kudo went… There’s a video file on a usb too, if tha’ helps any.”

Ran knows they don’t have a computer with them, but she’s certain that if they ask to borrow a laptop one of the detectives will guide them to a spare. It’s not much, at least, but it’s something they can work with. She wants to reread the files from Shinichi’s isolation though, and KID’s, but that’ll have to wait until later.

“It helps a lot,” Ran says, offering him a smile, “thank you.”

Reaching a hand forward, Ran waits for Saguru to pass her some of the contents of the files for her and Aoko to read over - they’re transcripts, she notices when they are passed to her, interviews given following Shinichi’s arrest and the opening months of his imprisonment. She’s not sure how to deal with it.

Halfway into the first page, she shakes her head, glances up and asks to see the video footage instead. She’s always been good at reading Shinichi’s emotions - or rather, she thinks she has, - but only ever when she’s been able to see his body language. If she doesn’t know how he’s saying things… Well, she doesn’t want to misinterpret anything that could give them a lead.

“I’ll go ask if we can borrow a laptop,” Saguru says, pushing up from his chair.

He’s gone before anyone can properly respond, although Ran doesn’t think that it’s a bad thing. She turns to Aoko, notices the frown lines on her forehead and opens her mouth to ask what’s wrong.

She doesn’t have the chance, Aoko leans forward and asks, “When was the last time Hattori-kun saw Kudo-kun?”

Ran closes her mouth and turns to the Osakan, interlocking her hands together. She waits, holding her breath for any response that comes - any information on Shinichi that will come her way. Part of her is excited, eager at the prospect of getting more information, whereas the rest of her… The rest of her is simply nervous.

“Kudo…” Hattori stops, takes a moment to think, “th’ last time I visited him was abou’ nine days ago? Why?”

Aoko takes a moment, squints, before leaning back against her chair. She says, “that means out of him and Ran-chan, Hattori-kun visited most recently. What was Kudo-kun during these visits?”

Once again, Hattori pauses, raking his mind for information. After some thought, he says, “I don’ think he was any differ'nt, kinda grumpy but that’s Kudo for ya. He wanted to know about a case I was workin’ but, I mean, tha’s what we always talk abou’.”

Ran wants to comment on the fact that the two had shared cases - Shinichi had never mentioned that, but hearing it now, it makes sense. Since his imprisonment, he’d not talked a word about any cases other than his own. Hindsight forces her to realise how suspicious that is. But if he’d been solving cases with Hattori, then maybe…?

It confuses her and leaves her wondering what else Shinichi had been keeping from her - apparently a lot more than she’d originally thought. And here, she’d thought the biggest secret he’d been keeping from her were the bruises around his neck.

It hurts more than it should.

“Did Shinichi ever mention KID?”

Aoko shifts at the question, readies herself for the answer - she’s watching Hattori closely, she notices. And Ran isn’t sure what she’s seeing, but if Aoko’s getting any clues or hints then she’s going to try and help as much as she can with her own questions.

“A few times.” Hattori admits, scratching at his ear. He leans forward, “apparently they did a lot together. Helpin’ out in th’ laundry room, and in th’ kitchens. Spent a lot'a time together. But whenever I asked wha’ KID’s deal was, he wouldn’ say.”

“Kudo-kun was unwilling to tell Hattori-kun about Kaito?” Aoko repeats, before glancing down at the pages she’d read. “Aoko doesn’t really understand what’s going on - why were they placed in the same cell anyway?”

Ran freezes, and across from her, Hattori does as well. Since they’d arrived, he’s been moving constantly, drumming his fingers against the table, muffled tapping against the carpet from his foot. To see him so quiet…

“I don’ know. It worked out well for ‘em, but it is strange tha’ someone thought it was a good idea to place th’ two in th’ same cell.” Heiji leans forward, frowns. “Kudo never mentioned it, so I didn’t really think ta ask?”

Ran leans on her hand, elbow cold from the surface of the table. She thinks that if all of the officers in division two are going to overwork themselves, then it should, at least be warmer.

“Oh, another thing Aoko’s curious about,” Aoko says, “Hattori-kun is absent from all of the records of visitors. Kudo-kun was only ever visited by Ran-chan.”

Like that, Hattori seems to recover from whatever confusion he’d had over Shinichi and KID. It’s obvious that this is a question he can answer, and he seems almost thankful for the certainty.

“I’m on th’ record,” he says, and at the slight complaint from Aoko, he waves his fingers. “See, most o’ th’ visits I had weren’t planned visits, so they didn’t go through th’ system on computer. They have a sign in book for th’ more urgent visits. I didn’t really know when I’d be able to get down to visit, so I used tha’ instead.”

“It’s true,” Toyama pipes up, head still buried in his phone, “th’ ahou is to lazy to plan ahead.”

Hattori’s responding smile is wry, and he proceeds to call Toyama an idiot before settling back down and staring across at both girls. As Hakuba returns with a laptop, Hattori settles back down into what Ran can only describe as a 'detective-mode’ - Shinichi had fallen into it a lot, and she’s seen it on Saguru before, is able to see the shift into seriousness.

“Anything else you were thinkin’ abou’? I’ll tell ya what I can?”

Saguru gives him a strange look, and Ran, watching as he sits back down, looks at the laptop. Saguru says, “more questions in a while, for now, let’s look at these interviews.”


Seventeen months ago


Ando Tomoko glances up from her notebook as her interviewee enters the room, and smiles. She’s never been one for interviewing serial killers, and during her thirty years of psychiatric practice, she’s not studied more than five.

She’d been unable to turn the offer down however, when she’d been asked to delve into the mind of a teenage killer, a kid detective who’d swapped from obeying the law, to breaking it in the worst ways imaginable. The horror that had swept over her when she’d first read the article, the way she’d been frightened, almost, of a child…

Tomoko had been incapable of turning away, ignoring the interview.

And now, here she was, sat in a private room - more like a police interrogation room - waiting for the newly captured prisoner to sit down opposite her. As far as she knows, he’s refused any attempts to talk until now, and while she doesn’t know why the sudden change of mind, Tomoko is glad.

“Shinichi-kun,” she says, as he sits down, her head tilting slightly, “I hope you don’t mind if we skip the formalities?”

Kudo Shinichi leans back against his chair, mirrors her expression, and smiles.

He says, “not at all, it’s how psychologist’s build a rapport, right? Through the use of first names. I hope you, in turn, don’t mind if I call you by your surname, Ando-san.”

Tomoko doesn’t mind at all. Over the years, she’s had hundreds of clients to nervous to forgo tradition and skip straight to forenames, valuing the honorifics. She gets the impression, however, that it’s not tradition that keeps Kudo from stating her name.

She clicks her pen, and prepares herself to write, to search for any abnormalities in his thought processes, any discrepancies in the schema he’s evolved over the course of his life.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me,” she says, “I’ve been told that before now, you’d been unwilling to speak to anyone about yourself…” A pause. “About the real you.”

Kudo smiles. It’s crooked, his grin, but Tomoko thinks it suits him - it’s almost difficult to remember that he’s capable of causing such bloody crime scenes. She’s looked over the details of the case, and while it’s shocking to think that this sixteen year old is capable of such a gruesome scene, she knows psychopaths are usually the least obvious suspects.

He’d been sloppy though - hadn’t even lasted two months before he’d been caught. The police had considered calling it a killing spree, but with the week hiatus between each killing, the control and set up… they’d labelled it serial murder instead.

“I think it’s about time I talked to a psychologist,” Kudo grins, self-deprecating, “i’ve had a lot on my mind recently.”

“About the murders?”

Kudo tilts his head, and hell, such a small movement shouldn’t be creepy, but it is. His gaze is vacant, like spiders crawling down her spine, weaving webs between the gaps of her spine. “Yes, I suppose.”

Tomoko scrawls across paper, notes she will throw into a medical file later for other teen detectives to glance over. “What’re your thoughts on the serial killings?”

Kudo glances down at his hands, picks at his nails. He seems too calm, Tomoko thinks, to be innocent like he claims. His stillness makes him appear cold, icy contempt lingering in his eyes. He’s angry - she decides, and files it away for further thought.

“As far as murders go, I’d say that they were well executed. Barely a shred of evidence left behind - for a crime scene so bloody, well, it’s unusual,” he says, “it was interesting to watch the other detectives work at it from a different angle.”

Grip tightening on her pen, Tomoko tries not to let him wind her up. The apathy she’s hearing though doesn’t do much to make calm her - she should have expected it, but she’d also been expecting superficial charm, fake guilt on his face as he apologises for what he’s done.

Instead, he seems like he’s toying with her. It’s hard not to get annoyed by it.

“It was interesting to watch the detective’s muse over how it happened?” She asks.

“No. It was interesting to watch their attempts to try and figure out who did it.” Kudo sighs, crosses his arms over his chest and kicks his feet out on the chair.

There’s no one else in the room with them, although Tomoko’s been warned about the alarm button under the table, been reminded by the guards waiting outside the room incase anything goes bad.

“I see… It must have been exciting, working both sides.”

“It was exhausting, actually.” Kudo admits, and his expression is wary. “I had to pretend I didn’t know about the cases before we set off to work on them. Working the same case in two conflicting ways is… let’s say it’s difficult.”

Tomoko leans back against her own seat, crosses her arms over her chest and smiles. It’s half-hearted, but at least it’s something. She says, “would you tell me about the first murder you committed. Tell me what was going through your head.”

He uncrosses his arms, and takes a moment to think. Almost as if he’s weighing up what he will say next. Then, after a brief pause, Kudo grins, the expression sardonic.

“Let’s see… the first person I ever killed..?” Another pause. Tomoko thinks he’s doing it for dramatic effect, wonders whether he’s taken after his mother, the actress. The crime scene would make sense then, she thinks, with the flashiness of it - each body suspended, each victim killed after what appeared to be days of torture. It’d explain why each victim’s name had been painted in blood followed by the term 'guilty’.

“I suppose, I killed my first victim when I was five.” Kudo’s grin widens, borderline hysterical. Possibly even delusional. “See, I raised two fingers up to my head,” he does so now, “closed my eyes,” he does, “and whispered bang.”

It takes him a few seconds to reopen his eyes, and during that time, Tomoko is scrambling for words. “You… But no one died. You didn’t kill yourself.”

Kudo nods. “Exactly. No one died.”

“And yet-”

Kudo taps his fingers across his chair, his smile faltering, fading away into a blank mask. He says, “you see, Ando-san, no one died, because my mind is not criminal. It’s forensic. Did I pull the trigger on their deaths? Yes. But did I kill them?”

Tomoko leans forward. “What do you mean?”

A grin - it reminds her, scarily, or fairy tales of girls who fall down rabbit holes and of cats that smile too widely.

“I think maybe I’ll leave that for you to figure out."

Chapter Text

8.14 p.m


“He’s hiding something.”

Aoko crosses her arms over her stomach as they finally leave the police station behind, glancing over at Ran with stiff shoulders and a steady frown. She hasn’t said much after they’d finished watching the interviews, had only offered the smallest opinion that Kudo doesn’t seem wholly innocent, but she has been gathering information of her own.

From beside her, Ran purses her lips, adjusting her bag on her shoulder. She doesn’t comment at first, but when Aoko refuses to elaborate, she offers a short ‘who?’.

“Hattori-kun.” Aoko can’t help but look back at the Osakan from where he’s getting into a taxi for the evening with Toyama, eyes narrowing with suspicion.

She doesn’t know what’s off, exactly, but she’s not stupid and it’s not easy for people to fool her. Kaito, she thinks, is the only exception, and that’s because he’s KID. “Aoko doesn’t think he’s being entirely truthful.”

“What makes you think that?” Ran asks. She sounds distant, almost as if she’s still caught up on the interviews they’ve watched, trying to process the words Kudo had said. Aoko doesn’t blame her, not really - even she’s a little put off by the delusional words she’d heard, the borderline hysteria that had crept into Kudo’s voice as the interview had proceeded.

“Aoko asked him when he last saw Kudo-kun,” she pauses, takes a moment to sort the words in her head, “and he told Aoko when they’d last visited. Doesn’t Ran-chan find this suspicious?”

They cross the road, having both made a unspoken agreement to walk to Kudanshita station with one another, and Aoko holds her breath, waiting for the response. She’s not Hakuba, she knows she’s hardly detective material, but she is normally a good judge of character.

“I admit it’s strange…” Ran trails off. She doesn’t sound wholly convinced that it’s anything, and Aoko finds irritation building in her stomach - it’d been obvious when he’d talked that Hattori had spoken that he’s a poor liar, and so he’d evaded questions and given them half-truths instead. “But-”

“Aoko thinks that he’s seen both Kudo-kun and Kaito recently,” Aoko says, skipping over the cracks in the pavement. She feels strangely animated beside Ran. “Aoko thinks that why Hattori-kun made sure not to show up on official reports, because he didn’t want to be linked fully. What if he helped-”

Ran shakes her head now, glancing over in disbelief. She says, “if that was the case, then he wouldn’t have told everyone he’d visited in the first place.”

“But-”

“And anyway,” Ran adjusts her bag, pulls at her jumped so that the fabric doesn’t ruffle beneath the strap, “Saguru-kun and I phoned him early this morning, at the exact time Shinichi and Kuroba-kun escaped. Hattori-kun, he has an alibi.”

Aoko closes her mouth and thinks of alibis. She thinks of the time she’d tried to prove that Kaito wasn’t KID to her dad, and how he’d found a way despite being beside her, to commit a crime - she reckons it was during the film. He had been unusually quiet during it, hadn’t given her his usual commentary on it.

Either way, she knows that alibi’s aren’t concrete, that they can be faked and staged.

“Maybe Aoko’s just reading too much into it,” she says, offering the other girl a smile. “It’s probably nothing.”

Except, it doesn’t seem like something she wants to drop. Wariness fills her, and she can’t help but bite down on her lip, wondering whether it’d be foolish to let another one of her suspicions drop because she’s supposed to be trusting others.

“Aoko will take your word for it.” She lies.


The following day


“You’re certain this will work?” Shinichi asks as they’re readying themselves to go to the police station. Kaito’s barely talked to him all morning, too busy finishing up the disguises they’re going to wear, adjusting the suit he’s forced Shinichi to try on twice now.

He’d made the masks yesterday, after a short conversation with Heiji, and is waiting to put the finishing touches on, a bit of concealer to smoothen the edges and make it look more realistic, the creases of laugh lines beneath the eyes.

“Very,” he hums, taking the suits cuff and sewing it so that it will fall from Shinichi’s wrist in just the right way. He’s only working from pictures he’s seen from pictures he’s found online, but the suit isn’t going to be difficult to make, and he’s certain Shinichi can pull it off. “I happen to be very skilled at what I do.”

“Right.” Shinichi says, dryly. Kaito feels tempted to just stab him with the needle he’s holding, but he decides it’s probably best not to. “Why don’t you just steal their clothes like you used to during heists?”

“I’m used to the pressure,” he says, cutting off left over thread once the cuff is correct, “so I can get changed quickly and apply masks with no difficulty. But you? You’d take too long. So we’re going to show up in the disguises, except the masks of course.”

“I wouldn’t.” Shinichi protests.

“Unless you only take ten seconds to change and throw on your mask,” Kaito says, moving the the other sleeve, “you’re too slow. And we don’t want to waste a second.”

Shinichi sighs. Then, from across the room, where he is throwing other clothes into a bag - the one’s Kaito has left out for him - he stretches, lets out a groan.

He says, “I still feel guilty about this.”

“Why?”

“We’re stealing someone’s… we’re stealing identities, I… I don’t know, something about it just doesn’t feel right.” He zips up the bag, lets out a sigh, sitting down on the sofa. The room doesn’t have much in the form of furniture, only has a futon and couch. (Shinichi had insisted Kaito sleep on the futon. Kaito hadn’t objected.)

Kaito hums in response, not overly empathetic.

“Doesn’t it bother you?” Shinichi asks after a pause, gaze burning into the back of Kaito’s head. The other sleeve finished, Kaito moves to his own disguise, picking up a skirt and adjusting it to so that it will make his hips appear wider when he puts it on.

“Why would it?” Kaito clicks his tongue, shakes his head. “I rather enjoy it actually.”

“I’m questioning your mental state.”

“You wouldn’t be the first,” Kaito laughs, and places the skirt back onto the futon where he’s laid both disguises out. “What time is it…?”

Shinichi glances at the mobile phone, nods his head. “Almost 7 a.m.”

“Good,” Kaito says. He stretches out his arms, tries to relieve his bones of the ache that comes with sitting hunched over for hours, “the police records said that they’re scheduled for a 9 a.m shift. If we catch the Shinjuku line then it’ll take us twenty minutes to get to the station… You know them both, are they type to show up early?”

Shinichi nods, making his way over to the futon to grab his suit. “The last time I saw them, they had a habit of being at least fifteen minutes early.”

“We need to be in the car park before them, so let’s get there ten minutes earlier. If we aim to be at the station car park for half past eight…”

Another nod. Shinichi says, “I’ll go get ready then.”


Heiji wakes to the sound of his phone alarm.

Across the room, Kazuha lets out a groan and tells him to turn it off. Half asleep, Heiji leans across to his phone and presses snooze. He doesn’t really want to get up, which is strange, considering how he’s normally a early riser, but he pushes himself up anyway, thinking that he’ll need to make contact with Kudo and Kuroba before they head to the station.

The time says it’s half past seven - he’d promised Hakuba and the others that he’d meet up with them at around ten a.m, but with his knowledge of the plan Kuroba and Kudo have put together, he’s wants to get there by nine a.m.

Glancing over at Kazuha, he lets out a sigh, and grabs his clothes to get changed. As soon as he’s ready, he kicks the end of her futon, telling him that he’s gonna head to the police station.

“Yer gonna leave me in Tokyo by myself?” Kazuha grumbles, sitting up. She rubs at her eyes. “Ahou, give me ten minutes, we’ll go together.”

Heiji loves Kazuha, he does, and maybe it’d taken him a while to realise it, but right now, he really doesn’t want her to join him at the police station. Even if she’s only going to sit on her phone - Heiji needs to be able to talk on the phone to two wanted criminals, and it’s going to be nigh impossible if Kazuha comes with him.

Either way, he doesn’t beg her to stay behind. It’d be too suspicious, and if he asks, it’ll only cause Kazuha to grow more stubborn.

“Hurry up then.” He grumbles, “Don’t wanna be late.”

He doesn’t explain that the thing he doesn’t want to be late for it the break in of two escaped convicts.


“You’re at the police station now?” Kaito asks, phone pressed to his ear as he stands in the stairwell leading up from the car park into the police station.

Shinichi is also leaning against the wall, Kaito having recently helped him put on his mask when they’d first stepped foot into the stairwell.

“Yeah,” Hattori says on the other side of the phone. “Kazuha and I just got here. I’m in th’ bathroom at th’ sec, so I can’t talk long… But I’ll have ta ditch her in a minute.”

Kaito nods, glances around the wall into the car park and notices the car they’re waiting for - a Mazda RX-7. He smiles, turns back to Shinichi, offering him a thumbs up.

“We have to head off as well.” Kaito says, “call us as soon as you’re inside the CCTV room, alright?”

On the other side of the phone, he hears a grumble of 'I can’t believe I’m doin’ this.’ before a sharp inhale. Hattori says, 'alright’, before hanging up, the line going dead against his ear. Kaito throws the phone to Shinichi, who pockets it, before pulling something out of his own pocket.

Shinichi narrows his eyes.

Kaito glances as two detectives get out of the car, one of them holding two coffees. When Shinichi opens his mouth, Kaito shakes his head, hisses 'catch the coffee, okay?’

And then, they wait - what only takes two minutes, lasts what feels like a lifetime. One of the detectives calls out 'go on ahead of me, I need to grab these files’. Footsteps echo in Kaito’s ears, adrenaline pumping through his blood, burning against his veins.

Waiting is agonising.

Excitement builds in his stomach, and Kaito grins because the stakes are high and he’s always loved dabbling with danger. Aoko had called him an adrenaline junkie once, back before he’d become KID, back when he showed her every daring magic trick he’d thought up. Playing with fire and heights, with swords and throwing knives had made him feel a little like a circus act, but there had been magic there too.

They’d made a deal after the first magic trick - one that had included a tank of water and handcuffs he’d strapped to himself. Every idea he’d had, Kaito had to run by Aoko first - He told her, she had to tell him whether he could do it or not.

(“Does Kaito really want to risk everything for this trick though?” She’d asked him, once. Usually, it would make him say no, because he hadn’t wanted to worry Aoko - she was his final trick, the trick he used to avoid doing dangerous things. Mainly because he hadn’t had the nerve to tell her that he’d wanted to do anything that involved overcoming what might destroy him.)

Then he’d become KID, and the responsibility of being told not to do dangerous things had fallen to Jii. And it had always been easier to ignore Jii on subjects like danger.

Without anyone to hold him in check, he’s almost giddy. He’s burning up, too much energy swimming around him.

Kaito wants to act.

He doesn’t want to be stuck in his head, waiting for all of the action. He wants to feel the rush he’d felt when they’d escaped yesterday morning.

The second he sees the shadow approaching the entrance to the stairwell, Kaito readies himself to move. As soon as he sees the man’s shoes, he pulls draws himself up, grabs hold of the beige suit the detective wears and slips around behind him.

“Hello Detective Takagi,” Kaito says, voice mimicking Detective Sato Miwako’s. He brings his spare hand up to Takagi Wataru’s mouth, smothers any potential complaints, before pushing the taser he’d brought along with him from their previous escape into the detective’s shoulder.

A crack of electricity. Takagi convulses, fingers going loose on the coffee’s he’s been holding. Shinichi reaches forward, catches the cups before they can fall, before leaning back. He looks the perfect image of the detective, down to the loose button on his jacket.

“I hope you don’t mind if we borrow your identity for a little while.”

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe I’m doin’ this,” Heiji mutters under his breath, pocketing his phone. It’s not even nine a.m. yet and he’s already stood in the middle of a police station, preparing to abet two criminals and add more broken laws to his ever growing list of faults.

If his father ever finds about this… Heiji shudders, decides that it’s best not to think about that, and looks in the bathroom’s mirror. He wonders, not for the first time, if he’ll be able to convincingly lie to those around him, asks himself whether his facial expressions will give him away.

It doesn’t matter, he tells himself, because it needs to be done.

Kudo needs those files, and from the moment he’d first decided that Kudo was innocent, Heiji had promised himself he’d do what it takes to prove it. Sure, it might mean breaking some laws… but if he balanced it out, a few broken laws were worth it, especially if it meant they could bring down a ring of organised crime.

Heiji knows this, and yet-

He slaps his cheeks, forces a smile onto his face and readies himself to leave the bathroom. Outside, Kazuha leans against a wall, waiting for him to return. She glances up at him, offers him a smile in return to his own, and pushes herself forward.

“So where are we headin’?” She asks, grabbing onto his arm and pulling him back towards the main corridor. “Are we goin’ to th’ same place as yest'rday?”

Heiji shakes his head, letting her pull him back towards the reception. He says, “we’re goin’ up ta division one’s headquart'rs. They used ta work with Kudo, so hopefully they’ll give us some insight to wha’ he was like.”

Kazuha squints at him, “but you’ve met him?”

“Yeah,” Heiji says, and suddenly he is the one pulling her forwards, their positions shifted as Kazuha follows him, “but I only met ‘im after his case was solved, not before. I wanna ask them about wha’ he was like then.”

Kazuha nods behind him, and Heiji, nervous about what comes next, attempts to unscramble his thoughts. The CCTV room is just down from division one, and Heiji knows that he’s only got a maximum of five minutes to figure out how to get inside. The idea is unsettling, and Heiji runs a hand through his hair trying to think.

It shouldn’t be so difficult, he thinks, to get inside the room - if he asks to look at the old tapes, they’ll let him sit inside and watch. Getting inside the room isn’t exactly the difficult part. Getting inside without Kazuha joining him is.

“Tha’ makes sense I guess…” Kazuha mutters, wrapping her arms around herself when Heiji lets go of her hand. “But, why’d ya never tell me you were talkin’ to a criminal?”

She speeds up in her pace so that she’s equal to him, walking beside him rather than behind. Then, after a short pause, she jabs Heiji in the side, glaring at his lack of response.

“I’m thinkin’ how ta put it into words.” Heiji scowls, looking down at her. “It’s jus’, when I learnt that Kudo was apparently th’ one who committed those murders, I wanted ta ask 'im why. But askin’ the old man only got me a no… So I went behind 'is back…”

Kazuha wrinkles her nose, the way she normally does when she pieces things together, her lips pursing. She continues for him, “and ya didn’t say anythin’ to me 'bout it, so there was less of a risk of yer dad findin’ out?”

Heiji nods. It’s not a lie, per se, but it isn’t the full truth. Maybe at first he’d not told Kazuha about Kudo because it had meant getting in trouble with his father, but then he’d learned some of the truth, and it had transformed, leaving him stuck in something much bigger, and extremely dangerous.

Before he’d even had the chance to tell Kazuha about the situation, he’d learned that it would be stupid to talk about it with anyone he didn’t want to endanger… The only person he’d talked to about the case had been Hakuba, a fellow detective, someone he’d thought would have helped prove Kudo’s innocence.

“Sorry,” Heiji says, “I just didn’t wanna make him mad again.”

Kazuha grimaces, shrugs. She says, “it’s all water under th’ bridge, don’ worry 'bout it.”

Offering her another smile, Heiji nods his head, turning left and stopping in front of the entrance to division one. A glance at the clock tells him that it’s 8.53, and he pushes forwards, gaze flittering from detective to detective in a search for any of the detectives he had met the day before.

As soon as he spots Inspector Megure, he makes a beeline towards the man, glances at the frown lines on the man’s face and decides that while it’s going to be a long day for him, it’s going to be an even longer one for the police.

“Inspector,” Heiji says, grabbing the man’s attention as soon as he sends another detective off for work. “Do ya have a minute?”

The inspector turns, raises an eyebrow and says, “I thought you kids were coming back at ten?”

Heiji offers a sheepish smile, rubs at his neck and says, “ah, I was told to be 'ere for nine… Did we say ten..?”

He’s not lying… not really, and so he’s certain he comes of as truthful - maybe Hakuba and the others had all agreed on meeting again at ten o'clock, but he’d also agreed to show up at nine to help Kudo and Kuroba. It’s something Heiji hates, half truths, and yet, it seems to be all he’s used these past two days.

“It’ll take too long ta go away an’ come back again…” Heiji continues after a second, “…say, I meant ta ask yest'rday, how did Kudo know those he killed were criminals?”

Megure frowns, his brows furrowed, stroking his chin. He says, “the victims hadn’t set foot in division one… so the only place he’d have found files for them, would have been in the archives? Kudo-kun went down there a lot.”

Heiji pauses, adjusts his cap and asks, “do you have any CCTV from back then? I want to see if we can spot when Kudo first… changed… and decided to become a criminal.”

Megure falters, takes a moment to think, before nodding his head. When he speaks, there is forced hesitation, as if it almost… hurts… to talk about anything related to Kudo. It’s hardly surprising, Heiji thinks, especially when the inspector was close to Kudo Yuusaku, having in response, been one of many police officers who’d watched Kudo grow up.

“Yes,” he says, “I’ll get Chiba-kun to take you to the CCTV room and set it up the video player.”

Heiji nods. And just like that, he’s on his way to the CCTV room.


“Takagi-kun?” Detective Satou calls, as Kaito ties a gag around Detective Takagi’s mouth, binding his wrists together with cable ties. He does the same with the man’s feet, binding them, before glancing over at the storage room towards the side of the stairwell.

He doesn’t have enough time to throw him inside, and so he jerks his head towards the entryway, signalling at Shinichi to go out an answer the poor detective before she picks up anything odd. He knows that Shinichi isn’t the best at mimicking voices, but a quick test on the way to the police station had shown that he could mimic shorter sentences if he needs to.

“Satou-san?” Shinichi asks, poking his head out of the stairwell.

As Kaito pulls the detective up by his arms, he drags him backward, nearing the storage closet. He leaves the real Takagi sprawled across the floor, keeps the door semi open and makes his way back to the entrance, holding his taser up.

There’s more conversation, although Kaito doesn’t think too much of it, prepares himself for the moment Detective Sato steps through the doorway and-

Electricity sparks, the air crackling.

Unlike Takagi however, Sato doesn’t pass out quite as quickly. It’s a risk they’d had to take, he’d be a fool to expect both detectives to go down without any trouble. Sato drops the box she’s holding, the thump echoing through the stairwell, and jerks her elbow backwards into Kaito’s stomach.

Kneeling over, Kaito lets out a breathless laugh, gasping for air, winded. Sato staggers forward, turns with a raised leg, kicking out in Kaito’s direction. He grins, side steps and raises the taser up.

“KID,” she gasps, swaying, hand going to her hip - she hesitates when she realises that she’s not wearing her holster, and curses. She glances at Shinichi, notices the blank expression he’s giving in response to her, and pales. “Kudo-kun.”

“It’s been awhile, detective.” Shinichi says, and his fingers tremble against polystyrene coffee cups. “You look well.”

Sato stills, and then frowns. Eyes narrowed, she glances between the two of them, bites at the side of her lip. She says, “I’m sure you’re well as well, Kudo-kun, beneath that mask.”

Shinichi tilts his head, and smiles. On Takagi’s face, it looks deluded - Kaito’s going to have to teach him later on about not making himself out to be a psychopath, because smile’s like that aren’t going to help him when he pleads his innocence to others.

“Sorry to cut things short,” Kaito says as soon as he can see the tips of Sato’s fingers twitch - she’s going to make a run for it, he assumes, either that or she’s going to attempt to fight back. He won’t allow either option. “But we really are running short on time.”

He lunges.

Despite already having been tased, Sato’s reflexes are quick. She heaves herself backward on shaky legs, moving just out of reach, as Kaito pivots to follow after her. She’s just fast enough that Kaito has to push his own reflexes to the limit.

He grins, lowers the taser in his hand and leaps again.

This time, he moves to far in front of Sato, and she uses the time to lift her leg into a kick. Kaito anticipates it, shields himself and doesn’t try to dodge.
It feels momentarily, like his ribcage is going to snap.

Kaito lets out a laugh - and yes, maybe it sounds a little manic, but he’s enjoying himself - and moves forward, just enough to grab hold of Sato’s wrist.

Pulling the detective back, Kaito smiles, pushing the taser into her stomach.
More electricity - this time, he holds down just long enough for Sato to sag against him.

Once she goes limp, he pauses, before pressing down on the button again, not entirely sure whether the detective is really unconscious, or simply playing pretend. She jerks, but doesn’t give off the impression of someone who’s conscious.

They throw her into the storage cupboard as well, along with the box of her files, locking the door behind them. As they’re making their way up the stairs,

Shinichi having passed him Sato’s coffee - disgustingly black coffee with little sugar. The things Kaito does for this guy - he hears the phone ring in Shinichi’s pocket.

“Pass it to me,” Kaito orders, as Shinichi pulls the mobile from his pocket, “we need to be moving while talking, and I’m the only one capable of fully mimicking voices.”

Shinichi passes the phone over without a word, and Kaito answers the call, the two of them reaching the first floor.

“Detective Sato speaking,” Kaito says when he brings the phone up to his ear, his voice a mimic. If it throws Hattori off, there’s no mention of it, just a click of his tongue. “You’re in place?”

“Yeah,” Hattori answers, and there’s shifting in the background, almost as if he’s moving in his seat, “I can’t see either of ya in th’ cameras - yer still in the stairwell?”

“We got a little held up,” Kaito says, “nothing we couldn’t handle. We’ll give you the details later. And you, did you manage to lose your friend?”

Hattori heaves a sigh, leans back in his seat. Kaito can almost hear the exasperation in his voice, the readiness for this break-in to be other with already. He says, “I asked her to get some drinks from th’ coffee shop across th’ street. Given tha’ it’s th’ morning rush, we should have a wide enough window to get you guys in an’ out before she gets back.”

“Plus,” Kaito chirps, “you get a drink for all of your hard work. Congrats.”

Hattori lets out a long suffering sigh. Beside him, Shinichi snorts - the thing about being inside enemy headquarters, Kaito thinks, is that they haven’t even been inside for longer than twenty minutes, and it’s already driving them both insane.

Well, not exactly, but Kaito’s going to pretend that’s the reason.

“You worry me,” Heiji claims, when they’ve reached the second floor and push out onto the corridors. “Oh - wait, I can see ya on th’ cameras - I’ll tell ya if I see anythin’ worrying, just stay on th’ line, alright?”

Kaito says, “yes,” and creates a fake conversation for the phone, conjuring a fake murder case from thin air. He thinks it’s a mix between one that Shinichi had told him about during their imprisonment, and fiction, but it comes of as a usual conversation for Sato.

They take a left down the first corridor, turning right into a second, before Heiji’s voice cracks from speakers.

“I’m assumin’ ya don’t want the Inspector to talk to ya,” he says, “so take a right an’ wait for 'im to walk past.”

They do as Heiji suggests, leaning against the wall as if having a conversation with one another. Shinichi doesn’t speak, other than to ask what Heiji’s saying - Kaito mouths the answer, 'Megure’s walking past, we don’t want to get roped into any work.’

“Okay,” Heiji continues, “keep going.”

Kaito hasn’t had to come down into the archives before, hasn’t actually needed to visit anywhere other than theft, but he does know the route. From the first time he’d entered the station as KID, he’d made sure to know every single exit without the building.

He short sigh, continues with his fake case, and keeps walking.

Every step feels more serious than the last.

“You’re going to need to pick the lock,” Shinichi says when they reach the archives, the corridor empty of people. Kaito nods, reaches into his pocket, to where he’s brought actual lock picks.

“I’m going to need you to be our cover,” Kaito says into the phone, before passing the phone over to Shinichi. He throws the coffee cup - still half full - into a nearby bin, before glancing at either end of the corridor. “Speak up if you see anyone coming, okay?”

Shinichi nods, and Kaito approaches the lock.


Heiji glances between three screens, trying to blank the others from his mind. Phone pressed to his ear, he doesn’t really listen to anything he can hear - it’s mostly nonsense words, nothing valuable that he needs to hear, so he focuses all of his attention on the camera feed instead.

For a moment his thinks that someone’s coming, but they stop walking half way down one of the connecting corridors, talking to a colleague who’s just left the bathroom. Heiji takes a deep breath, tells Kudo that they should both pick up the speed, his gaze flickering back to the two connecting corridors.

“Apparently the locks are stiff,” Kudo says - in the absence of any people, he’s dropped any pretence of a fake voice, which makes the situation a lot less creepy. “It won’t take long, but we’re going as fast as we can.”

Heiji holds his breath. Glances at the corridor with the talking colleagues, watches them as they break apart and one starts walking in the direction of Kudo and Kuroba.

“Someone’s comin’ yer way,” Heiji warns, his voice weirdly choked. “Either open the door or walk down the corridor and come back in a minute.”

He glances at the other corridor - someone’s walking down that one as well. If he’s right, then it’s someone from the KID taskforce.

“Give us a second,” Kudo whispers.

“I can’t give you anything.” Heiji says, “ya need to either get tha’ lock open, or keep walkin’, there are people coming from both directions.”

A pause, in the camera, Kudo surges forward, towards Kuroba, leans in to whisper something in his ear. The other shakes his head, curls in on himself around the door, before pushing it forward.

“Get inside,” Heiji hisses, “It’s not gonna be good if ya both get caught-”

The sound of footsteps echo in his ears, and then, there’s a gasp. Heiji doesn’t notice it at first, mainly because he’s staring up at the figures of Kuroba and Kaito throwing themselves into the room, the door slamming behind him.

Then, it registers.

Cheeks paling, Heiji turns from the cameras, breath hitching in his throat. His legs feel weak, as he takes in the figure, the wide-eyed stare looking back at him.

“What th’ hell is goin’ on?”

Chapter Text

“What th’ hell is goin’ on?”

Heiji takes a step back, drops the hand carrying his phone to his side and lets out a strangled gasp, breath constricting as he glances over at the girl he has been in love with since he was a child. It feels almost like his heart is attempting to squeeze through the gaps of his ribcage, the valves constricting in a way that brings him nothing but pain.

“Kazuha,” he breathes, pressing his thumb against the touch screen of his phone, ending the call without glancing down at the screen.

He keeps his gaze on Kazuha, searching her face for any reaction other than shock. How is he going to explain this… how can he possibly explain what he’s doing in a short enough time to be able to convince her to not only keep his secret, but to let him continue?

“What are ya doin’ back…?” He asks, glancing down to Kazuha’s empty hands. He’d been so certain, so completely sure that she’d be down at the coffee shop long enough for…

“I forgot my bag…” Kazuha says, stepping forward and closing the door behind her. She leans against it, almost as if she’s attempting to barricade them both inside and keep any other police officers out. “Heiji… what’s goin’ on?”

Heiji bites at his lip, running a hand through his hair. “N-nothing.”

“Tha’s a load'a crap.” Kazuha whispers, eyes narrowing as she stares him down. “You ain’t a liar Heiji, when ya lie it always shows on yer face…”

Not good, Heiji thinks, not good at all.

“I don’t know w-what yer talkin’ abou’.” He stumbles over the words, goes to take a step forward, but hesitates at the expression on Kazuha’s face. For a second, there is just faint horror - that he’s been lying to her, hiding more than she could have expected - and then, it shifts to distrust and shock, puzzle pieces clicking into place.

“Oh god,” she lifts her hand up to her mouth, stifles a gasp and shakes her head. Heiji isn’t sure whether she’s blinking away tears of anger or horror, but her eyes are wet and she’s looking at him as if she doesn’t know him. “Tell me ya didn’t…”

“Kazuha-”

“You were talkin’ to those escaped criminals,” she whispers from behind her hands. Then, tearing her gaze away to look at the ground, she adds, “you helped ‘em, didn’t ya? Heiji have ya gone mad?”

Heiji takes a step forward, frown forming across his face. “You wouldn’t understand.”

Hell, Heiji isn’t even sure if he fully understands - he’d knows that there’s at least a small element of insanity to his actions, he shouldn’t have helped break Kudo out… but he was on death row for crying out loud…

“Then explain it to me.” Kazuha says, raising her head. She takes a step away from the door, crosses the space between them and glances up at Heiji - her glare is overwhelming, like flames licking at his skin, the heat burning him from the inside out. “Explain how you ain’t completely insane.

“Kudo didn’t do it.” Heiji says, “and they were gonna kill ‘im. He was framed.”

Kazuha throws her hands up. When she speaks, it’s with a raised voice, the volume bordering on a shout. “Where’s yer proof, Heiji?”

Heiji frowns, glares back. “I looked into th’ case myself idiot, I know he’s innocent.”

“Then why didn’t ya get a’  appeal on th’ case? If he’s innocent, then why did ya need to break 'im out?”

He takes a step moment, tells Kazuha to quit yelling. It’s… The evidence he’s put together is circumstantial, nothing that would hold in a court of law against fingerprints and lacking alibis. But there had been clues at the scene that had gone overlooked - he wonders whether Hakuba and the others have picked up on them when overlooking the case…

“Quit yellin’,” Heiji hisses, “and jus’ trust me on this, okay?”

“No wonder yer dad refused to let ya visit this Kudo guy,” Kazuha says, reaching forward to aim a punch at his arm, “he’s manipulated ya into thinkin’ he’s a good guy, an’ not a serial killer.”

That’s - that’s not true, Heiji tells himself. He’d… there had been truth to the conversations he’d had. Maybe Kudo was a little bit odd, and maybe he’d been thrown into solitary confinement because he’d had to protect himself through violence but - but Kudo wasn’t a killer.

“He’s not a serial killer!” He cries, and it feels almost as if his anger is burning, provoked by Kazuha’s own fiery glare. “I know tha’ he isn’t!”

“You wanna know why yer dad told you not to visit this guy?” Kazuha spits, “It’s 'cause ya look fer puzzles where there ain’t any - ya can’t believe tha’ a detective is responsible for those deaths right? So ya mind made this fake case to make 'im out to be innocent.”

Heiji takes a step forward, glares and looking down his eyes at Kazuha, he growls, “Kudo is innocent.”

Kazuha flinches away, and like that, any anger Heiji feels is extinguished.

She…

“I’m not lettin’ ya do this,” Kazuha says, shaking her head, “they’re criminals.”

His stomach twists. Heiji doesn’t know what to do - Kazuha just doesn’t understand, won’t understand because she’s too focused on murders and is trying to rationalise things. For someone who believes in the supernatural, sometimes he thinks she’s a little too close minded.

“Give me today,” Heiji whispers, “give me today ta convince ya he’s innocent. After tha’, if you don’t believe me… I’ll turn 'im in myself.”


They don’t slam the door behind them, but it almost sounds like it when Kaito closes the archive door behind them, holding his breath as they wait to see whether anyone has seen them enter the room. Opposite him, Shinichi lowers the phone from his ear, glancing down at the screen with wide eyes.

“What…?” Kaito breathes, as Shinichi passes the phone over to him. The screen glows amongst the shadows, and he leans over to press the light switch.

Light illuminates the room, and for a moment, Kaito glances at the rows of bookshelves, each containing files from various old cases. There are four rows, roughly fifteen foot long, and it leaves him wide-eyed wondering how they’ll be able to find Shinichi’s case files within the thousands of files.

“Hattori hung up,” Shinichi says, and he makes his way down the aisle on the far left, eyes skimming over the labelling system, never once stopping to examine anything. “It looks like we’re on our own right now until he can call us back.”

Kaito slips the phone into a pocket, racing after the ex-detective, escape plans spurring into life as they make their way to the end of the row.

“I see now what you meant when you told me you had to come along to find those files,” Kaito says, falling into step beside Shinichi, “a simple search around would take too long.”

Shinichi nods, “exactly,” before dropping down to his feet, nails digging into the gaps between one of the tiles - he exhales, lifting it up, tile scraping the edge another.

Inside the gap, there is an aluminium case, a padlock sealing it, keeping it shut. Shinichi pulls it out, placing it in front of Kaito.

“Can you pick it?” he asks.

“I really don’t think we have the time-” Kaito mutters. The look he receives however, forces him to glance down at the padlock, pointing it upward. He’s always been quick with padlocks, and this one doesn’t look like it’s rusted at all. It shouldn’t take any longer than ten seconds. “Yeah, sure, whatever.”

Shinichi mutters a thank you, watches Kaito as he pushes his picks back into the lock, feeling the pins with the top pick, jiggling the lock until they’re all firmly up. It takes five seconds, and then, he’s pulling the lock off, passing the box back over for Shinichi to open.

Inside, there is a mobile phone, a case file and a set of keys. Shinichi pockets the phone and the keys, offers Kaito a sharp smile that begs him not to ask right now, before placing the case file - it’s thick, at least a centimeter thick - on the inside of his suit, inside the pocket Kaito had incorporated into the disguise.

“Okay,” Shinichi says, as he closes the box, placing the lock back on. “We need to get out of here.”

“That would be nice,” Kaito responds as the other teen places the box back into the hole, putting the tile back into place. “I do think maybe we’re pushing our luck inside a police station.”

“This was your entire idea!”

“I know that,” Kaito says, standing back up and glancing over at the door, “and I’m not saying this isn’t a good idea, but we’re still pushing the limits and as fun as it is, I don’t think we’d survive the ridicule of being caught the day after we’ve escaped prison.”

“They’d probably throw us in solitary confinement forever,” Shinichi sighs, “not that I’d complain.”

Kaito shudders, remembers the image of Aoko staring across at him, her voice ringing in his ears. The movement is visible, shows in the quake of his shoulders and for a moment, Shinichi stops, offering him a small smile. It’s meant to be reassuring, but it seems more like pity.

“Let’s avoid being locked up again,” Kaito says after a while, dragging himself to his feet. “Especially if it means no solitary.”

At the door, Shinichi and Kaito share a look, offer sharp nods, before forcing themselves back outside into the corridor. Excitement curdles away into nervousness, and Kaito forces the door closed behind him, glancing up and down the corridor.

If there’s anything he’s learnt from his heists, it’s that it is always easier to get inside a location, than out of it.


“Ran-chan!” Aoko shouts, climbing the steps from Kudanshita station to the street above, where Ran is waiting. “Aoko’s so sorry for running late!”

The fact that they’ve still got over an hour until they’re meant to all meet at the police station, leaves Ran wondering whether Aoko notices the irony of her own statement. Instead, she smiles, tells the girl that it’s alright and they start their walk towards the police station.

Aoko had called her, asking if they could go to the station earlier today, before either Saguru or Hattori could arrive. Ran knows that she and Saguru have promised not to keep secrets, but she’s accepted without telling him about it - she doesn’t want to give Aoko any reason not to help them find Shinichi and KID.

“Come on!” Aoko says, offers a grin, and grabs onto Ran’s wrist, pulling her along the street until they reach a taxi. And then, Aoko pushes Ran inside, offers another quirked smile and demands for the driver to take them to the police station.

The urgency makes Ran feel nervous.

As the taxi pulls away, Ran crosses her legs, turns to Aoko with a question in her voice. She says, “you never explained why you wanted to go to the station earlier.”

Aoko leans back, rests her head against her seat. When she speaks, her previous smile has faded, leaving behind a blank expression not unlike the one’s that Ran has read about in KID’s case file. “Aoko wants to rewatch the psych files with Ran-chan, just with the two of us.”

“Why?”

“She wants to rewatch the first interview, the one where Kudo-kun said working the case from two sides was exhausting,” Aoko says, and she leans forward, her gaze meeting Ran’s. Her irises dance with conviction - Ran purses her lips in response. “Aoko thinks that Kudo-kun was telling the truth.”

Ran narrows her eyes, “Shinichi isn’t a criminal.”

“Aoko hasn’t decided on that yet,” she admits, shaking her head. “No, Aoko means that the case was exhausting to him. Aoko wants to rewatch the videos to see if he drops any hints as to why - Kudo-kun said it himself, he’s leaving the case for whoever watches the recording.”

A frown, Ran feels something fluttering in her stomach, although she’s not sure whether it’s nervousness or relief. In thinking that Shinichi was fully innocent… has she overlooked what he’s been saying? Had he been leaving messages behind for people to look into…

“But… Surely he’s leaving it up to the psychologist who was studying him… not for whoever was watching the video recording…?

Aoko bites her bottom lip, shakes her head. "He didn’t keep full eye contact with the psychologist. Aoko noticed that he looked at the camera more often that he looked at her.”

Ran hadn’t notices that - in fact, she’s pretty sure that none of them did. She and Hakuba had been so certain he was innocent, that they’d been focusing more on his words and overall body language. How they’d overlooked Shinichi’s eye contact…

“Good find,” Ran mutters, as the taxi pulls up to the pavement, the police station looming over them. “Let’s head up to the computer then, shall we?”


“I thought ya said they were meeting ya at 10 o'clock,” Kazuha asks, leaning forward over at the CCTV cameras. Heiji watches her from the corner of her eye, considers the sudden calmness in her voice, and turns to face the monitors. “But those two are here early.”

Heiji watches, nervous, as Aoko and Ran walk in through reception, holding his breath. Then, his eyes flicker over to another camera, the outlines of Kuroba and Kudo in their disguises walking down the corridor.

Despite showing no outward signs of being on guard, Heiji can practically feel the paranoia they must be emitting.

“Yeah,” Heiji says, pulling at the collar of his shirt - is it hot in here? Or is he just starting to feel the pressure?

“And this is Kudo an’ Kuroba?” Kazuha asks, moving her finger to point up at the two criminals, as they take a left down the corridor, towards the staircase.

Heiji mutters a 'yes’, and she frowns. “That’s gonna be troubling. Tell 'em to stay away from tha’ stairwell.”

Heiji sends the text without thinking, before asking why.

Kazuha moves her finger down to another screen, the real Takagi and Sato standing in the entrance to the first floor’s stairwell, talking to a twin-tailed traffic officer. Heiji feels his heart leap up his throat, tries to reach up to drag it back into his ribcage, and fails.

“Oh shit,” Heiji mutters. “I need to tell them.”

“Ya can’t,” Kazuha says, “'cause Nakamori-chan, and Mouri-chan, are on their way. They’ll chase after 'em as soon as they can, an’ it’ll look weird if ya don’t go with 'em.”

The groan that seeps from his throat, is nothing short of helpless.

“Gimme ya phone,” Kazuha says, leaning down to her bag and pulling out a pair of headphones. Placing them in her ears, she glares until the mobile is in her phone. She plugs them into Heiji’s phone, unlocks it - she’s known the passcode since before he’d even set it, somehow - and turns back to the CCTV footage. “Go help with th’ search.”

“Kazuha?”

“I promised I’d hear ya out didn’t I?” Kazuha mutters, pulling up the records of his most recent calls. “I can’t do tha’ if yer in jail for abetting criminals. So… jus’ for now, I’m on yer side.”


The text message, Kaito thinks, offers no explanation, but since it’s from Hattori, he accepts it and turns around before they can even set foot in the stairwell.

Minutes later, he overhears the outburst of 'they’re in the what?’, assumes the worst and realises that things aren’t going as well as they could be. Glancing over at Shinichi, he offers his best poker face, a calm exterior to the worried paranoia he now feels.

And then, the phone goes off.

Kaito picks up, relief spreading through his bones as they rush down the corridor, back in the direction of the archives. How did they wake up so quickly - and even then, how have the detectives been discovered so early?

“Oh thank God,” Kaito breathes, pulling Shinichi left, rather than right like the ex-convict seems to want to go, “you can get us out of here right?”

“I’ll try." 

The voice is not Hattori’s.

Unless Hattori has suddenly learned how to mimic voices, Kaito is extremely certain that the voice does not belong to the detective. The accent is still Osakan, but that doesn’t mean anything to him - in fact, it only makes him feel more confused. His friend Kazuha then…? But why would Hattori-

"Heiji ain’t available,” Toyama Kazuha says, and her tone is quiet, “but I ain’t a bad alternative. Turn right.”

“I’m not sure I understand what’s going on,” Kaito asks. He takes her direction anyway, making his way down the corridor with a quick gait, steps like thunder across the floor. “Where is…?”

“He’s searchin’ for ya, like th’ others,” Kazuha says. “I found out he was helpin’ ya when I came back fer my bag, and he still owes me an explanation, but this once I’ll help.”

Kaito exhales. He still feels nervous, energy building in him at the sight of danger and the unknown, but there’s also a source of comfort there - even if it’s not Hattori, there’s someone on the other side of the phone willing to help them. He still doesn’t know whether he can trust Kazuha, but for now, they don’t really have a better alternative.

“Left,” Kazuha orders, and then, another left. A right and then the two of them falter when Kazuha tells them to take a right here.

“But that’s a dead end,” Shinichi mutters. “We can’t go down this way.”

“Yes ya can-” Kazuha breaks off, and there’s muffled conversation, “this room has th’ best wifi, I’m watchin’ videos while I wait for Heiji… look, do ya want a headphone - ya look stressed, I’ve got th’ best cat video- no… okay…” another pause, “head down that corridor.”

Kaito does, and as they’re walking down the door, he realises why she’s sending him down a corridor with no stairwells or obvious exits.

“What was that about cat videos, miss?” Kaito asks, as they come to a stop at the end of the corridor. He taps his hand against the window, glances at the lock at the bottom and nods his head. It’s a fairly low window, almost seems like a hidden fire exit for police officers who need it.

“I’m playin’ on my phone, while talkin’ to ya on Heiji’s. If anyone asks, these headphones are for videos I’m watchin’, not talkin’ to you guys.”

“I almost feel like you need an award.” Kaito mutters, glancing at the window, Shinichi keeps guard opposite him, looks over at him as he works on the lock, phone balanced between his shoulder and ear. “That’s downright devious.”

“Heiji told me ta get ya there,” Kazuha says, “an’ he’s on his way with Kudo’s girlfriend… an’ yours. Don’t take it by surprise, when they notice ya, get out.

She doesn’t offer anything else, the line going dead.

Kaito doesn’t understand why they need to see him - wait… it clicks almost instantly. If Hattori is seen openly trying to catch Shinichi and Kaito, he loses any suspicion that might fall upon him - it’s almost genius. He wonders who came up with it, Hattori, or his protector Kazuha.

It seems almost odd to think that Hattori, supposed kendo champion needs to be protected, but looking at his decision to work with two escaped criminals, breaking laws to help them, it almost makes sense.

“I get it,” Kaito says, turning to Shinichi and offering him a small smile. It’s weak, worried. “Shinichi, we’re gonna get company pretty soon.”

“Shit…”

Kaito agrees wholeheartedly, but keeps his mouth shut. The sound of footsteps leaves him moving away from the unlocked window, pulling Shinichi backwards so that he’s standing nearer to him.

Hattori comes into view, and then Shinichi’s girlfriend, Ran-chan, and then, finally - Aoko.

He offers a wave, a smirk that seems to satisfy the growing hysteria building in his stomach as she faces him. Kaito doesn’t even know why it unnerves him to see her face, to watch the wide-eyed stare she gives him, watching it slowly transform into a frown.

“Ran-” Shinichi breathes from beside him, and he takes a step forward, as if to walk towards her.

“Shinichi!” Ran calls, and she’s moving forward, in front of Hattori who’s frozen, in front of Aoko who is simply staring. “Shinichi?”

More footsteps - it seems that Hattori has brought a legion of police officers along with him, steps sounding more like a death march leading him back to prison. 

The sound brings him to life again, forces his attention away from Aoko, the curve of her eyebrows as she frowns, the openness of her body language, the way her expression is shuttered, a blankness not even he can read.

“Shinichi,” Kaito says, raising his hand so that the teen can’t move forward, “do you trust me?”

Shinichi glances at him, shakes his head ever so slightly, and responds, “with your mental state, not particularly." 

He pushes Kaito’s hand down, stares past him to Ran. Kaito feels a fleck of irritation throb at his forehead, wonders whether he can get them out before Shinichi’s own love-sickness can get him caught, and decides that there is only really one thing to do.

"That’s the spirit,” he chirps, and pushes Shinichi from the window.

Ran surges forward, and Kaito uses this moment, to pull a piece of paper from his pocket, tossing it to the ground by her feet.

“Sorry to cut all the reunions short,” he says, offers a quick, small bow, “but we’ve got somewhere to be.”

As he throws himself from the window himself, Kaito tries to ignore Aoko’s call of 'don’t leave.’

(Like with everything else she ever seems to say, it’s completely impossible.)

Chapter Text

“What is wrong with you?”

Frankly, Kaito isn’t sure whether this question is rhetoric, so instead of offering a response, he grabs hold of Shinichi’s wrist, pulls him across the roof they’ve landed on towards the edge.

“You pushed me out of a window!” Shinichi cries.

Still, Kaito doesn’t offer an answer - maybe seeing Aoko has rattled him more than he thinks. He’s not sure, but it feels almost as if she’s following after him, a ghost by his side, holding her place until the real one can take it’s place.

He looks over the edge of the roof - it’s a long drop, about five meters, but Kaito thinks if they lower themselves from the gutter and shimmy across to the drain pipes, they’ll be able to get down to the ground in no time at all.

From there… well, all they need to do is get to the bags they’d stashed at the train station, change into a different disguise and get out of Chiyoda… Sure, no problem at all. It’s not like there are infinite police officers right beside them.

“You won’t even say you’re sorry?”

Kaito glances up from where he’s testing the gutters for any weak spots. There’s one further down, but it should hold if they go one at a time - he’ll have to go after Shinichi then, so that the other can get down without any extra time pressure weighing down on his shoulders in the form of police officers.

“Maybe later,” he says, voice controlled despite his own feelings, “when we’re not being chased by the police. Right now, I need you to climb across to that drain and slide down to the ground.”

Shinichi blinks. Then, despite the tension in his shoulders, he lets out a sigh, drags himself to the grate and does as he’s asked. It’s doesn’t seem difficult for him to get down - he’s almost… quick… - and Kaito lets out a breath of relief as he places his hands back against the gutter, swinging himself across.

Metal groans.

Kaito curses as it turns from a groan into the sound of ripping metal. The gutters had already been weak… and with Shinichi…

“Oh shit,” Kaito says, as it gives way above him.


It feels almost like there are needles hammering away at her heart.

Glancing out of the window, eyes wide as she mouths Shinichi’s name, it takes Ran a while to register the tears rolling down her cheeks. His name burns against her tongue, and it’s painful because he’d been so near, and yet, like always, he’d been so far from her reach.

“He came back,” Ran mumbles, when she notices the presence behind her, a hand on her shoulder. It’s a light touch – Aoko – and it leaves her feeling only vaguely reassured. “Why would Shinichi come back?”

Hand dropping from Ran’s shoulder, Aoko pushes a piece of paper into her hands. It’s A6, tiny, the size of a postcard, kanji scrawled across the page, with a little caricature. Ran takes a deep breath, reminds herself to breathe.

“KID…”

Aoko nods. “It’s so like Kaito to announce a heist within two days of breaking out of prison. Aoko thinks he’s probably been planning it since he was in prison, it explains the playing card he’d left behind. He was toying with the police before he even escaped, and this is just to bait them into coming after him.”

Ran turns away from the windows, glances at the police officers that have raced down the corridor in their attempts to recapture the convicts. Then, she looks down at the heist notice – it’s different to the ones she’s read before, more blunt. Either KID is wilder now, prison having altered one of the key principles of his personality, or he’s pressed for time.

The fact that he’s left them two messages in the span of two days, forces Ran to think that maybe it’s the former – especially if she adds the records of him during solitary that she’d skimmed through yesterday.

The note reads:

Let’s not use pretty words with one another, detectives.

I’m taking the Cullinan Diamond. You won’t be able to stop me – just like you won’t be able to catch me again.

You’ve had one miracle. You won’t get another.

Ran passes the note over to the first detective she can, shoulders through the crowd until she’s at the end of the corridor, both Hattori and Aoko looking at her for what to do next.

“But why would KID bring Shinichi here?”

It feels like an incomplete theory. A heist note declaring KID’s intentions following his escape from prison only accounts for KID’s presence, not Shinichi’s. And unless Ran assumes that Shinichi’s working alongside KID…

There must be something else, something bigger than what Ran already knows.

“Maybe Kudo’s workin’ with ‘im or somethin’,” Hattori says. “what did th’ note say?”

Ran repeats what she’d known, watches as Hattori scrunches his nose, confusion swimming through his eyes. Beside him, Aoko frowns, attempting to figure out whether the Osakan is sincere in his confusion. It’s stupid, Ran thinks, to suspect the Osakan when they should be trusting him to help solve their case.

Plus, it’s impossible to fake the level of surprise and confusion Hattori’s currently wearing. He rubs the back of his neck, brows furrowed in attempt to figure it out. Not that the message itself is difficult – KID will come and steal the diamond. No fancy talk, just a warning.

“But why a heist…” Hattori asks, “surely they wanna lay low?”

Ran bites at her lip. Shrugs her shoulders. She’s not completely sure, but from the subtle shift of Aoko’s shoulders, she’s pretty sure the other girl has an idea. It’s KID’s idea then, to not remain hidden, to act so suddenly.

“Kaito’s very active,” Aoko says, and she crosses her arms. There’s a slight pause, as she tries to find the right words for what she’s saying, “Aoko wasn’t expecting him to lay low at all. He always needs to be doing something or else it drives him crazy.”

Just by looking, Ran can see she’s remembering the solitary reports. The grief of knowing about the topics KID had talked about during his time in solitary… the fact that he’d mimicked Aoko in particular… it shows in her expression. In the way her smile tightens.

“In fact, Aoko thinks the heist will be within the week… If Ran-chan and Hattori-kun have read up on KID, then they’ll know that Kaito always conducted heists to a quicker time plan. The original KID would conduct heists every three months, but Kaito conducted them every month. He’s always been impatient.”

It still doesn’t give Ran any answers as to why Shinichi was here… Unless…

“Are ya suggestin’ we look for Kudo at th’ heist and ask why he was here?” Hattori asks, leaning forward. It’s not a bad idea… Even if it goes against what she knows about Shinichi, if he’s come to the police station with KID, then logically, he’ll be present at the heist as well…

Although, she’s still not that sure…

“Aoko’s suggesting that we follow the clues that Kudo-kun left behind.” Aoko says, breathing a heavy sigh. “In his psychological assessment, he left clues, and Aoko thinks him coming into the police station with Kaito is a clue as well.”

Ran bites down on her lip – again, it seems like Aoko is seeing things that she’s overlooked because of her own emotions. She says, “and what clue is that?”

“Kaito would have left Kudo-kun if they weren’t working together,” Aoko says, turning on her heel so that Ran can’t see whatever emotion is splayed across her face. “Since Kaito pushed him from the window to stop his reunion with Ran-chan, Kaito must have a reason not to want Kudo-kun to get caught.”

There is a pause as Ran comes to grips with what she’s hearing.

“And if KID wants something from Shinichi, then Shinichi must want something from him.”


As the metal gives way, cracking beneath him, Kaito surveys the rest of the gutters – it’s about a three meter jump from one wall to the next from where he is. The fall, however, is much further and he’s not sure he wants to risk it.

Instead, he looks down. There’s a window ledge beneath him. A metre – no, a metre and a half below, and it juts out far enough that he should be able to get a good enough grip if he drops.

Not that he has much choice.

His fingers scrape against stone, wounds from barbed wire screaming in protest as his palms smack against rock.

Body smacking into the wall beneath the window, Kaito lets out a hiss. He’s not falling, no, but pain courses through him like the electricity he’s learned to hate.

“You okay?” Shinichi shouts up, which… Kaito isn’t sure whether he wants to thank the detective for thinking about his health, or whether to shout down at him for being a complete idiot. Giving away their location by asking if he’s okay?

Kaito’s pretty certain that Shinichi would not make a good criminal.

He doesn’t give a response. Instead, Kaito glances to the side, shuffles to the left of the window and glances over at the drain pipe. It’s not the furthest jump he’s had to do before, but with little practise, it feels almost as if he’s pushing the odds.

“I’m not going back to prison,” Kaito mutters. He looks up at the sound of footsteps, decides he doesn’t want to see the police officers when their heads appear over the side of the roof, and throws himself towards the gutter instead.

His fingers slip against the metal as soon as he touches them, and for a moment, it’s as if he’s falling again. Instead, Kaito lets out a pained breath, his fingers aching, and tries to find a better grip.

Two metres from the ground, he finds it. He pushes back from the gutter, jumps and dives into a roll. Before he even has time to blink, he’s grabbing Shinichi’s arm, adrenaline spurring him forward as they make their way outside of the alleyway.

“You know what,” Kaito breathes as he drags them right, “I’ll be great when we can get to the station.”

The thing is though… Kaito’s pretty sure that even if they run, they’ll get cornered by the police before they can reach the station – where it’ll take them fifteen minutes to run to Kudanshita station, it’ll only take the police eight minutes to drive there. Even with the busy traffic, the police will be able to get there before them.

Unless…

Kaito glances across the street. He glances at the cars, tries to guess when to run in order to not get hit by any that are actually capable of moving, and drags Shinichi across the busy road without a second thought.

“Bikes,” Shinichi says, when Kaito grabs hold of a bike that’s been left outside of a shop, “we can’t…”

“Get over yourself,” Kaito snaps, throwing his leg over one of the bikes, “if we run, the police beat us to the station. If we ride the bikes, then with this traffic, we’ll get there at roughly the same time.”

Shinichi takes one of the other bikes.


Making his way back to the CCTV room and to his best friend that’s waiting inside, ready to receive an answer, Heiji lets himself hold a breath. It’s not every day that he has to explain himself to Kazuha, usually she gives him the benefit of the doubt, goes along with his decisions.

Now however, she wants answers. And… Heiji isn’t sure whether he’s got the capability to make her understand. Not fully, not… not in a way that will make Kazuha agree with what he’s done.

“Okay,” he tells himself, “you can figure this out.”

He’s not sure where Aoko or Ran have gone, which… is difficult on his end – he knows from the looks Aoko keeps giving him that she’s suspicious. Especially with him being early to the police station on the same day Kudo and Kuroba have broken in… Hell, he’d find it suspicious as well, if he were her.

At least Ran isn’t suspicious – Heiji can see that there’s a degree of influence there. Had seen the way she and Hakuba had worked together. They won’t get suspicious because of the phone call… He’s glad he’d changed his mind on the second call, the sudden burst of inspiration that he might need an alibi if anyone came asking.

He’s smart about that, at least.

Stepping into the CCTV room is chilling.  Kazuha drags her gaze to meet his, lips pursed, and offers him a small glare. Her headphones dangle from where she’s threaded them up through her jumper, abandoned, just like Heiji’s phone that she’s left on the table.

“Kazuha listen-”

She shakes her head, raises a hand to stop him before he can start explaining and says, “this really isn’t th’ place. We’ll go somewhere else.”

Heiji bites his lip – a police station isn’t really a smart place to explain why he’s aiding two high profile criminals, he knows. But then, he doesn’t know whether it’s a smart idea to just leave before working on the case.

Kazuha however turns, points a finger at one of the CCTV screens. The camera shows Inspector Nakamori squinting down at Kuroba’s heist notice, barking out orders. At first, there’s a blankness, Heiji having no idea what he needs to say. Then, it clicks.

“The gemstone. If we go there, we can say we’re planning counter strategies, while I can explain…” He says.

Kazuha nods, crosses her arms over her chest and pulls at the ribbon in her hair, adjusting the bow until it looks perfectly symmetrical. Heiji doesn’t know how she does it without looking in the mirror, but she manages it.

“And… Kudo-kun… If he’s innocent, he’ll come convince me too.”


Kudanshita station is busy. Busy enough that Kaito reckons they can blend into the crowd pretty easily as long as they ditch the disguises – he’s glad at least that he’d left a bag hidden inside the station when they’d shown up.

He doesn’t stop the bike the way he usually does, and he knows Shinichi will be angry about any damages, but the instant they reach the station, he pulls the handlebars down to the side, lifts his feet up to the seat and rides the pavement until the bike comes to a stop.

The force throws him forward, not overly so, but enough to give him the right momentum to keep running.

He’d shouted to Shinichi as they’d been riding their bikes that they’ll have to meet on Platform 5, where he’s hidden their other disguises, and right now, he surges forward, not thinking about whether Shinichi’s abandoned his own bike or has rested it against a wall.

Morals, Kaito shakes his head at the prospect of never adapting them.

His feet dance across steps as he pushes his way past civilians, and Kaito takes off the ring he’s been wearing on his finger. He feels almost like he should be pulling off his mask, even though he knows his face is more well known than Detective Sato’s is. Frustrating, he thinks, and jumps the final step.

He has to climb down to the 4th basement level, races down the staircase as quickly as he can. He waits a minute for Shinichi to show, before turning on his heel and racing across to receive the bag he’s hidden. It’s in a small storage room that he’s had to pick the locks on, and Kaito quickly steps inside to change his disguise.

He pulls the disguise from his back, tears the mask of Detective Sato from his face – some of the mask sticks to his cheek and he grimaces as it pulls at the faint stubble he’s not gotten around to shaving.

Then, as quickly as he can, he discards Sato’s uniform, replacing the skirt for jeans and the blazer for a shirt and jacket. Then, throwing on a hat and a pair of glasses, he forces his way back outside of the room, carrying the bag he’d brought with him in an attempt to look for Shinichi.

He opens the door and is met with Detective Takagi.

Except, with the way his fingers curl in over themselves, almost as if protecting themselves from burns, he quickly realises it’s Shinichi.

“In here,” he hisses, and pulls Shinichi in by his tie, closing the door behind them. It’s a small room, and there’s not much space, but he manages to pull off the mask he’d applied earlier, revealing Shinichi’s face.

“What were you thinking announcing a heist,” Shinichi hisses, as Kaito undoes his tie, pulling it off and throwing it into the bag. He seems to take offence when Kaito attempts to undo his shirt, shrugging him off and raising it over his head instead.

Kaito holds out a hoodie for him to throw on, before leaning forward and plucking a bit of mask that has stuck to his eyebrow.

“The police realised we were there,” Kaito replies, as he leans forward, adding a quick mask to Shincihi’s face, making his nose rounder and less sharp. He also pulls a eyebrow brush out, adjusting the shape of his eyebrows. Basic things for a disguise, he knows, but it’s the smaller things that help. “We needed a reason.”

“Yeah right,” Shinichi hisses, as he changes from trousers into a pair of jeans, the fabric ripped at the knees. Kaito adds a bandage to his cheek for extra effect, before forcing Shinichi into a wig and pulling his hood up. “You did it because you want to cause trouble.”

It’s not… entirely untrue.

There’s an element of truth in there, somewhere, but Kaito thinks that it’ll be better in the long run if they just overlook it.

“Listen,” Kaito says, as Shinichi changes work shoes for trainers, “as far as we know, your organisation have enough power to get you on death row. The crimes you supposedly committed… they weren’t enough for death row, and yet you still got it – if they can make that happen, then they obviously have people in the justice system.”

Shinichi glares, but it’s not as heated as before. There’s anger there. But not as much. Instead, he scratches at his neck and sighs.

Kaito continues, “And if they have people in the justice system, then you don’t want them to know why you were really there, do you. The heist note is a valid excuse.

“You’re putting a target on your back…” Shinichi says, weakly, as they leave the room – and the bag – behind. They make their way over to the crowd, standing beside other students who’re travelling during the holidays.

“Oh please,” Kaito says, glancing out of the corner of his eye for any movement. He resists the urge to smile as he spots three detectives race out of the stair well: The real Takagi, followed by Inspector Megure. “I’ve had a target on my back for a very long time now.”

The detectives push through the crowd, and Kaito has to mutter under his breath for Shinichi to stop glancing over at them. It’s not long now, he knows, until the next train is due.

Megure takes another step in their direction – another detective bundles out from the staircase as the train pulls into the station.

The doors open.

Shinichi and Kaito manage to lose them in the crowd, blending in to the crowd of people who’ve just gotten off the train on their way to the stair well. It’s almost amusing, Kaito thinks, to walk right past the detectives who’re about to assume they’ve gotten onto the train.

They will be – but not from the platform they’re on.

“Come on,” Kaito says, as they reach the  second basement level, making their way to platform two,  where he’s anticipated the next train will be arriving any second. “We’ve got a train to catch.”


 

The text comes later, when Shinichi and Kaito have gotten off the train.

“It’s about Kazuha,” Kaito says, when they step off. He receives a blank look, as if there is no reason to bring up Toyama Kazuha, and Kaito thinks that maybe to the detective there isn’t. He hadn’t heard her voice on the other side of the phone. “She knows.”

Shinichi’s face drops. He doesn’t say anything as Kaito leads him right onto another train. His skin is pale, worry creasing his eyebrows but he doesn’t say anything.

“She’s giving Heiji an opportunity to explain his side of the story…” He adds, before looking up. He offers a supportive look – it’s not like all hope is gone, Kazuha knowing doesn’t leave them in any trouble only Heiji.

“But…?” Shinichi says, as they sit back on seats. He digs his nails into his neck, and Kaito wants to tell him to stop, but there’s nothing he can do to alleviate the other boy’s worry. It’s impossible. “There’s something else isn’t there?”

Kaito nods. “She wants to hear your side of the story as well.”

Shinichi seems to regain some of his colour – Kaito’s guessing that he’s caught on to Kazuha’s want to believe in Heiji’s decision. They’re obviously close then, Kaito thinks, for him to be able to have such sway over her.

That, and the fact that she’d been willing to help them escape.

“Where does she want to meet…?” Shinichi asks.

“Ueno station.” Kaito says. “It’s a short walk to the heist location from there.”

There’s a short nod. Then, Shinichi says, “Text Heiji that we’re on our way.”

Kaito sends the text, but lets a complaint rise on his tongue. If he goes, then he knows that Kazuha’s only going to remain conflicted – Shinichi, he knows, will be able to convince Kazuha that he’s innocent, mainly because he is. Kaito doesn’t know how he will, but there’s faith there, that the detective can convince her.

If he goes, he counteracts that. After all… He is guilty. He shouldn’t be walking around in freedom, he should still be inside the prison, no matter how boring and monotonous it was.

“You’re going alone.” Kaito says, when the he’s managed to send the text. It’s difficult with the service on the train, but he manages to send it when they’re in a station. “I need to go prepare for this heist.”

Shinichi frowns.

Kaito reads his look, fidgets in his seat. He taps his foot against the floor, a succession of anxious movements that only helps any awkwardness grow. He says, “I’m going through with it.”

“It’s a stupid idea.” Shinichi says, and he turns to look out of the window, teeth grinding in an attempt to remain calm. “They want you dead, don’t they?”

There is fear in his voice, and Kaito emphasises, even if he doesn’t share the emotion. There isn’t time for fear, not now – Being scared or hesitant will only hinder his search, and he can’t allow any of his emotions to restrain him.

“They do.” Kaito says, “Which is why I need to be prepared.”

Shinichi doesn’t say anything else on the subject. Instead he says, “where are you going?”

“After I leave you at Ueno station?” Kaito shrugs his shoulders, throws his poker face back on to throw away his upcoming anxiety. “Ekoda.”


The train ride to Ekoda feels like it drags.

From there, the walk to his house takes even longer, as if it’s stretching time through a loom, forcing him forward even if the clock hasn’t moved onward. There’s a moment, when he almost wants to break into a run, spurring himself forward until he reaches the old familiar block of houses he’s grown up exploring.

He needs to get into his house – back window will do. He can’t go in through the front door without gathering any unwanted attention, and as long as his mother hasn’t fixed the latch on the back window, he should be able to open it within seconds. His father’s secret room – KID’s room beckons him forward, and his mind scrambles in an attempt to remember every detail of it.

“Okay,” Kaito mutters to himself as he makes his way to the back of his house, to the small back garden. The grass is uncut – he doubts his mother’s done much in the way of maintenance since he’d been imprisoned. “Lets do this.”

The latch, as expected, is still broken, and Kaito pulls himself up, shimmying in through the window and across the kitchen counter. It feels nice, he thinks, to finally be home again.

He lets out a deep breath. Closes the window behind him, and decides that since he’s in a rush, his mother will forgive him for keeping his shoes on and not swapping them for slippers.

“What do I need…” He asks himself, making his way to the staircase, creeping upstairs. It’s a habit at this point, keeping quiet, silent. He forces himself to list everything inside his head: he’ll need his suit, his card gun. He’ll need his hand glider and-

And-

Kaito’s pretty sure he’s going to try and bring everything he’s got back to his safe houses. His home after all… He knows he won’t be able to return again. He’s already risking so much coming here now. But well, he’s already broken into a police station, why not go all the way?

His bedroom door is ajar, and Kaito pushes it open – slowly at first, to avoid the creak it usually sounds when it’s first opened, and then the rest of the way.

His eyes widen at the sight he sees.

“Aoko asked you to stay,” his best friend says, sitting on his bed. She’s frowning, looking down at her phone that lays in cupped hands. “When you didn’t, she thought she’d just have to track you down instead.”

Chapter Text

No poker face can prepare him for this.

Kaito stares, heart pounding against his eardrums as Aoko stares back at him, eyes blank. There are tear stains marring her cheeks, and he feels almost as if he’s been punched in the stomach. He’s put those tears there, hasn’t he? It’s his fault that Aoko’s crying.

“Tell me,” Aoko says, as he inches a step backwards, towards the door. She’s cradling her phone in her hands, and Kaito watches wide-eyed as she lifts it up, fingers brushing the sides. “If I ask you to stay this time, will you?”

Kaito bites the side of his cheek, glances down at the carpet. If he runs now, then he should be able to get down the stairs in a manner of seconds, climb back out of the kitchen window before Aoko can even press the call button.

And if she chases after him, well, Kaito knows that he’ll be able to outrun her.

Aoko raises an eyebrow at him, drops the arm holding her phone down and lets it rest against her leg. Her fingers don’t move, not even a millimetre and Kaito holds his breath as she pushes herself up from his bed, standing, staring across at him.

“I take it that’s a no.” Aoko says, and she lets out a laugh. It’s strangled, almost pained, and Kaito lets  out a sigh as she hides her mouth behind her free hand. Blinking away tears. “I should have known you wouldn’t.”

Kaito lets his emotions morph from blank, faintly shocked, to irritated. His eyes narrow in on the phone – she’s still holding it, not making an effort to use it or to put it away – and Kaito thinks maybe there’s already a phone call broadcasting to the police, or to Hakuba. Hell, she could be broadcasting their conversation to everyone.

They probably already know that he’s here; Why is he still here?

“You’re angry at me for not staying in a police station?” Kaito asks, after a moment, and the words are sour, like they’ve curdled. He doesn’t know why he’s so angry – maybe because she’s infected his thoughts through one single phone call, and he can’t stop thinking about some stupid difference. “I’m not going to stay in the lion’s den just because you asked, Aoko.”

Her shoulders shake, and Kaito doesn’t know what to do as she heaves a step forward, the movement heavy as if it takes effort to take even a single step. It’s almost as if her body is made of lead, weighing her down.

“Kudo Shinichi would have stayed for Ran-chan.”

Kaito lets out something similar to a growl. It’s feral, almost wild with it’s intensity and Kaito isn’t sure where exactly it leaves him, but he’s starting to think a good word is ’unhinged’. He says, “yeah, well, Shinichi really needs to sort out his priorities.”

Aoko glances up, glares. “I think Kudo-kun’s the one who has his priorities straight.”

Kaito takes a step forward, and for a moment there is only red anger, pulsing through his veins, burning through his eyes. All this time plagued by her face, all this time wondering if she’d give him answers to the question she’s asked.

“You know nothing. You don’t understand a thing Aoko! You never did.

He doesn’t even know why he’s breathless, but he is. Maybe it’s the anger he’s feeling, filling the pits of his stomach, maybe it’s just his own mental exhaustion catching up with him. Either way, part of him just wants to lay down and sleep.She doesn’t understand because there is no understanding this, and since she won’t give him an explanation…

The sound of Aoko’s phone dropping against the floor is a loud thump. It echoes against Kaito’s ears, and he feels blood filling his mouth from where he’s bitten into the side of his mouth, nervousness setting in.

“If I don’t understand anything, then it’s because you never told me.” Aoko says, and she takes a step forward, and another, and another until Kaito’s jerking backwards out of her reach when she lunges to grab hold of him.

She’s almost as relentless as he was with Sato, because she jumps forwards again, fingertips brushing against his arm as she tries again and against to catch hold of him. How she can see properly through all of the tears, Kaito isn’t sure but she can.

“If I don’t know anything,” she continues, voice brittle, reaching its breaking point. “Then it’s because you never said.”

Kaito narrows his eyes, moves backwards again. He’s too busy watching Aoko’s movements, the way one muscle will tense, uncoiling as she lunges forward, trying to figure where she’ll move next, that he forgets about her phone on the floor.

He slips. Falls to the floor with a thud.

It’s only because of quick thinking that he tucks his head in to avoid hitting the side of his bedpost, and for a moment, Kaito lays breathless on the floor, staring up at Aoko. She drops too, although hers is a more controlled fall, pinning him to the ground by his wrists.

“I don’t have to explain myself to you.” Kaito whispers after a moment. He takes a moment to breath, staring up with slightly widened eyes. “I don’t owe you anything.”

Tears stain his cheeks, and maybe it’s a method of torturing himself but he won’t look away from her eyes. He’s been electrocuted several times, but somehow, somehow, the burning of her tears against his skin is worse. It’s like he’s being scalded.

Kaito squirms, tries to throw her off of him, but she doesn’t budge.

“Yes,” Aoko says, “you do.”


Heiji doesn’t know when he should let go of the breath he’s holding in, so he doesn’t.

Neither Kazuha, nor Kudo have said a word. Heiji’s been waiting in a jaw-grinding silence since he’d told Kazuha that Kudo was on his way. It’s remains even after they’ve left the platform, left Ueno station behind, making their way towards Ueno park.

Kudo walks in the middle of them, trapped between the two. Neither of the Osakan pair have had to explain what Kazuha will do if he tries to make a break for it. They don’t need to tell him that Kazuha practises aikido and can keep him from leaving, Kudo can read it from her body language, from the way she stands and the muscles she’s built.

Ueno park is loud – Heiji’s not visited Tokyo a lot, but he’s pretty sure that it’s always loud. They climb up steps, make their way into the park, and yes, it is loud, and yes, there are hundreds of people who could potentially see Kudo’s face, but somehow it is still the perfect cover.

Isn’t that why Kuroba had suggested he and Kudo catch the train into Tokyo, because it gave them a chance to hide within the crowd?

Kudo’s footsteps quicken when they’re at the top of the stairs – not be a noticeable amount, but he does break away from them ever so slightly, only by a few feet. Beside him, Kazuha tenses. Heiji reminds himself to breathe.

“I can’t believe I… I should have known all the cherry blossoms would be gone.” Kudo says after a moment, glancing up at the trees. Heiji wonders whether he’s trapped seeing pink petals rather than the green leaves sprouting from branches. He wonders what else his friend is trapped seeing.

“Of course they’re gone.” Kazuha says from behind him, as if it’s obvious. She crosses her arms over her chest, quickens her steps so she’s walking beside him. “It’s May. The blossoms fell last month.”

Heiji, stays behind them both, near enough that he’s still part of the conversation, but far enough that there is…

That there’s what? A way for him to escape if this goes bad?

“I know,” Kudo says after a moment, and he turns, makes his way to one of the benches that sits by the side of the path. Kazuha follows after him, and while Kudo’s perfectly fine with sitting back against the bench, she decides to stand instead. “It’s just the last time I visited it was.”

Her glare is toxic, chilling. Heiji’s almost glad that he’s not the one currently on the receiving side of it, not the one being poisoned by the fire in her eyes.

“I remember readin’ an article about ya, ya know.” Kazuha says, when she realises Kudo’s not going to say anything else. “About how th’ police arrested ya on yer way here, on yer way to view yokazura, right?”

Kudo goes still at the mention of viewing cherry-blossoms, and Heiji bites down on his tongue to avoid telling Kazuha not to torment him. He’s read the arrest report, talked to Kudo about the day he’d had handcuffs bound to his wrists, but they’ve never fully talked about where he was going.

Probably because by that time, Kudo had wanted to forget. Probably because by then there had been bigger things to think about.

“That’s right.” Kudo says, and he leans back against the bench, relaxing his shoulders as he looks up at Kazuha. Despite his relaxed shoulders though, he’s ashen, counteracting any attempt to seem calm. “I was on my way to view the blossoms. It’s kind of irrelevant now though, isn’t it?”

Kazuha moves her hands to her hips, stares him down. “Oh, sorry, I thought since we got sidetracked on our location, we were allowed t’ get sidetracked on our conversation as well.”

Kudo leans forward, leans his elbows against his knees as he interlocks his fingers together. Then, with his head slightly tilted, chin resting against his fingers, he sighs. “You’re mad at me for sitting on a bench?”

Heiji shifts behind them both. He runs a hand through his hair.

“Not for sitting on th’ bench.” Kazuha says.

There is a pause, between all of them. And maybe Heiji shouldn’t feel surprise digging against his intestines, making him feel ill, but he does – because… What is with so many people thinking that he’s incapable of thinking for himself. Why can’t people accept that it didn’t take manipulation for him to want to help?

“You don’t have a right to be mad at me,” Kudo says, and his voice is even, the most controlled over them all. “You don’t even know me.”

Her face contorts, her current annoyed demeanour transforms into a wild fury, eyes flashing with a thunderous energy. Kazuha says, “Exactly. I don’t know ya. I only know of you.”

Kudo grits his teeth.

“And what I do know of ya, Kudo Shinichi, is tha’ ya were imprisoned because th’ police found evidence that ya killed six people.” She continues, venom dripping from her words. How she’s capable of keeping her voice from raising into a shout, Heiji doesn’t know – she normally always ends up shouting whenever her emotions become a tangled mess.

“I didn’t kill anyone.

“Oh, I take it tha’ was a lie then, huh?” Kazuha asks, animosity rolling off her in waves. “And those prison reports of ya being violent, they’re all lies too, right?”

Heiji turns to Kazuha, tries to recall when exactly she’d read over the case files – she’s not a detective… she’s never had much interest so when? It must have been yesterday, when she’d glanced over his shoulder to see what they’d been reading over.

“It was self defence.”

“Self defence against a guard? Oh please,” Kazuha shakes her head, “th’ report said that ya attacked him first, which was why ya were in solitary confinement fer so long. Don’t try ta trick me into believin’ self defence.”

Kudo pushes himself from the bench, scoffs. “Oh, you’ve been in prison before have you? You can account for how perfectly safe it is inside?”

Kazuha takes a step forward. Her voice is shrill, strained. “The system is fair.”

“Oh please,” Kudo groans, “If the system was fair, I’d never have been thrown into a cell in the first place! Just get straight to the point, Toyama-san, you’re angry because Hattori’s involved.”

There is a pause, and Heiji is forced to watch as Kazuha takes a step back. He swallows nervously, eyes flickering between the two, trying to think of some way to calm them both down. They’re lucky that people aren’t looking at them yet, eyes roaming over them as if they’re nothing but normal teenagers.

How nice would it be, Heiji wonders, if they were just normal teenagers?

“Of course I’m angry that ya got Heiji involved!” Kazuha says. “Do you know what ya made him do? If anyone finds out abou’ this, then you’re not th’ only one goin’ back to prison. You’ll be draggin’ Heiji down with ya, because ya made him an accomplice.”

“My life was at risk, I had no other choice.”

No other choice, but to die. It was the main reason why Heiji had decided to break Kudo out in the first place – he’d worked on the case for months before he’d realised that an escape was something they should be focusing on more. He’d made leeway on the case, of course he had, he’d followed all of Kudo’s clues, but there wasn’t any evidence that would hold in court.

Surely Kazuha will… She can’t blame him for wanting to live.

She takes a step forward, presses a finger into Kudo’s chest and lets out something similar to a growl.

“Maybe you didn’t have another choice,” Kazuha says, “but now Heiji’s life is at risk too.”


Kaito gives up trying to throw Aoko off, goes limp, and stares at the ceiling past her ear. It’s strange, being pinned down by her after spending years of dancing around one another, chasing and being chased – playing cops and robbers.

“You’re lying.” Aoko says, bottom lip trembling, “when you say you owe me nothing.”

Of course he is.

But shouldn’t she know at this point that lies and poker faces are all he has left? Kaito has lost everything – his home, his friends, his life. The only thing that’s left is a facade, an infection that has spread too far, taking everything.

“I’m not lying.” Kaito says and counts the cracks in his ceiling. He remembers months ago, when he’d forced Aoko to help him repaint the walls; Something he could have done alone, but had wanted her help with irregardless. It’s strange how far away the memory feels, as if it’s ink fading from a page, water dripping from an outstretched hand.

Sometimes, he wants to do everything he can to go back to times like that. Instead, he’s got to deal with a ex-best friend who cries at the sight of him. He’s certain there’s some irony there.

“You are.” Aoko says, and removes one of her hands from his wrist to wipe at her tears. Kaito thinks that this is the longest she’s ever gone without speaking in third-person, and he almost wants her to fall back into the illeism, to stop acting so serious with him. “You’re the one who thinks you owe me.”

“Do you seriously think you know what I think?”

Aoko scrunches her nose, shakes her head. And then, after she’s wrapped her hand back around his wrist, she says, “there are reports, about your time in solitary confinement,” - Kaito shudders at the reminder, - “so I’ve got a pretty good idea.”

“If you know that,” Kaito says, tearing his gaze from the ceiling to her face. She really is… She really makes him feel like his poker face isn’t enough sometimes. “Then you know that I don’t have an answer to your stupid question yet.”

The look receives is annoyed. Aoko says, “I know you don’t have an answer yet, Bakaito, but the fact that you’re actually trying to figure it out…”

“I’m not trying to figure it out,” Kaito says, “I’m actually trying my hardest not to think of it at all. Because there isn’t a difference. I thought you said that you weren’t going to talk to me until I figured it out.”

Aoko shrugs he shoulders, glances over to where her phone lays on the floor. She reaches for it, picking it up. There is a voice in the back of Kaito’s head yelling at him to take it back, but he almost wants to see whether this entire conversation has been recorded.

“I lied,” Aoko says, and she pries the back of her phone case off, pulling the battery out. “If you’d bothered to test it, you’d know that.”

Kaito stares as she places her phone back down, the battery thrown up onto his bed. He lets out a choked breath, because he just can’t wrap his mind around what she’s… KID’s a professional when it comes to getting into the thoughts of other people, becoming them, and yet Kaito has no idea what she’s thinking.

“You’re not phoning the police?”

She shakes her head. “Why would I ask you to stay, if I was only going to let the police take you away?”

A grin – small, uncertain – tugs at Kaito’s lips. He says, “that’s illegal, you know.”

Aoko offers him a small smile in return. It lights up her face, but not her eyes – Kaito wishes her eyes didn’t seem so scared, so nervous as to what will happen next. She says, “you would know… If I let you up, will you stay? Not forever, but just so we can talk?”

Kaito’s nod is slight, but he means it. And as Aoko lets go of his wrists, she pushes herself from the floor, walking back to sit on his bed. Kaito remains on the floor for a few seconds, stares back at a ceiling he will never see after today, before pushing back up to his feet.

He joins Aoko on the bed, sitting opposite her – closer, probably, than he has the right to sit. Not near enough that their knees touch, but close enough that it feels like there has never been any divide between them.

“I… was so scared when you escaped…” Aoko says after a moment, and Kaito’s fingers twitch with a want to reach out and comfort her when she turns away. He ignores the need, realises he doesn’t have the right. “I thought I’d never get to see you again.”

Kaito tilts his head, “you’d see me at heists.”

Aoko scrunches her nose again, shakes her head. “That’s not you… KID… is like a performance prop, he’s a role you fill, it’d be like watching an actor on stage. They’re there, but it’s not the real thing.”

He hesitates. “Is that the difference then?”

She turns, gazes into his eyes and offers a smile. Kaito feels the seconds as they fly past, silence deafening, tearing at his skin. “No.”

“Will you tell me it? You know, people shouldn’t give out riddles that don’t have answers.”

Aoko lets out a quiet, breathless laugh. It’s not musical, but it could be, if it were louder – if she were more confident in their conversation. She offers a punch to his arm, more amused than annoyed.

“One day,” she says, “but not now. I’d like it if you thought about me for a little bit longer.”

Kaito can’t suppress the sad smile that bloom in light of what she says. Instead, he leans forward and says, “you don’t need to plague me with riddles just so that I’ll remember you.”

Tilting her head to the side, Aoko asks, “don’t I?”

“No.” He doesn’t quite recall moving, but the sudden feeling of his hand resting on hers catches his attention, and Kaito looks down. He says, “there is no forgetting you. I sometimes wish I could.”

Aoko purses her lips. “That’s not nice.”

“But it’s true,” Kaito says. “I want you to disappear from my thoughts, because you’re always there. Just at the tip of my consciousness, ready to call me out for every stupid thing I do.”

He doesn’t receive a response. Not for at least a minute.

“Even after I found out,” Aoko says, “I didn’t want you to disappear. It’s just so boring without you around, and we were supposed to go to university together, and we were supposed to be…”

Kaito winces. He knows what she’s not said. Together. They were supposed to be together. And yet, they’re not – It’s this fact that he wants to forget the most. Instead, he lifts her hand, spreading her fingertips out so they’re not bent, and glances away momentarily.

This… Is probably not a good idea. And yet he wants to do it anyway.

“Kaito..?” She asks, as he places her hand onto his chest, just over where his heart is.

“Feel this?” He asks, gentle, so unlike his previous anger at her. “Do you feel it?”

Aoko frowns. “Your heartbeat?”

Kaito nods, hums his approval. Then he says, “it’s broken. But it’s yours. If you want it.”

Red tinges her cheeks. Kaito’s pretty sure he’s the same colour too, can feel the heat rising against his skin – he knows that it’s possible for him to stop blushing, but for some reason, he doesn’t want to. Aoko deserves more than just a poker face.

Aoko inclines her head. The smallest of nods, the smallest approval.

He moves forward, lifts her chin with two fingers. And leans forward. Aoko stays rooted where she’s sat, but she parts her lips, just slightly, and offers the faintest smile. For the slightest of seconds, his leans his forehead against hers, and then he tilts his head, lips meeting hers.

Aoko’s hand moves from over his heart, reaching down to interlock with Kaito’s own.

Her lips are soft, not overly so – Aoko’s always had a love-hate relationship with lip balm – but soft enough. When he finally moves away, lowering the hand that has been cupping her cheek, Aoko is red. She tilts her head, gives him another smile – a full, real one – and squeezes his hand.

“Stay?” She asks, after a second.

“Okay.”


Kazuha knows that she should remain calm, but there’s something very wrongwith this entire situation and knowing about the trouble Heiji’s gotten himself into is making it very hard to remain controlled. She wonders whether anyone will blame her if she ends up smothering him when they get back to their hotel room later, because she’s seriously considering it.

“If I was caught again,” Kudo says, staring her in the eyes, “I wouldn’t give them Hattori’s name. I wouldn’t do that to him.”

Kazuha wants to believe him. Not just on this – but on the fact that he’s innocent. She doesn’t like the idea that Heiji’s been manipulated, it isn’t something she likes to entertain, but well… Maybe Heiji doesn’t know, but he does still need protecting sometimes.

Maybe she’s not protector material, but Kazuha knows it’d be stupid not to try. While Heiji will help anyone he can, Kazuha’s devoted to helping him. (Maybe that would be more special, if Heiji wasn’t such an oblivious idiot, but he is, so it doesn’t.)

The thing is though, she can’t find it in her to believe. There’s little evidence – they’ve not been talking long, but it shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes to convince her. If there’s no evidence, than the case of ‘make Toyama Kazuha believe’ is going to end with Kudo being found guilty. Again.

“Is tha’ right?” Kazuha asks, and she turns, deciding that walking through Ueno park will be a lot better than standing still. Heiji and Kudo follow behind her. Their paces matching hers. “And what if someone figures out th’ connection between ya both? They won’t need your statement then.”

Kudo glances away. Guilt blooms across his face, and it’s little expressions like these that make her want to believe that he’s innocent. She’s met killers before – she’s travelled with Heiji on cases – but not one of them has shown guilt quite as subtly as this. Either there is a lack, or there is an overplay. His expressions are neither.

“Kazuha, what’s done, is done. Let tha’ bit go.” Heiji says. “Just make up ya mind on what ya think now.”

She glances over her shoulder at him. It’s the first time he’s talked since he’d set up the meeting between them. He’d been quiet on the train, and he’s been practically mute since they met up with Kudo. Looking at him makes her relive summer days spent climbing trees in search for neighbourhood cats, forgotten kendo practices that she’d had to drag him to…

“Right,” Kazuha says, and turns back to Kudo. “Is there any evidence at all that you’re telling me the truth?”

Kudo pauses, halts in his steps, forcing Heiji to walk straight into him. Beside them, Kazuha stops too, watching with concern as Kudo’s eyes widen, as he pulls his hand into his pocket, pulling out a phone. It’s an android – an older model, similar to Kazuha’s own.

“I think I’ve got evidence you might believe.” He says after a moment. He opens the case, removes the battery and looks at Kazuha, “can I borrow your charge?”

Kazuha decides it’ll be better for her sanity if she doesn’t ask how he knows what type of phone she has – it must be some weird detective skill, because Heiji has it too – and she pulls her pocket out instead. They shuffled to the side of the path again, out of the way of walking tourists.

Handing Kudo her battery, she watches as he slowly forces his phone to come to life.

Beside him, Heiji says, “the missing phone. One of the missing things that never made it to evidence.”

“Because I hid it.” Kudo says. “It’s got some evidence, but I thought it would only incriminate me at the time, so when I hid my case files, I hid the phone as well.”

Kazuha bites at her lip. It hurts slightly as her teeth graze raw skin, but she decides not to say anything. Case files? Heiji had said that he’d been framed for looking into a case… So it must be files on that.

“You never said anything about evidence on ya phone,” Heiji says, and he’s frowning.

Kudo lets out a nervous laugh. “Yeah, I did. I didn’t know how you’d react, so at first I thought it’d be best not to mention it.”

He enters his passcode, and the screen brightens, leaving him with just an ordinary phone. Kazuha tries to look over, but says nothing, simply waits.

Kudo presses into his messages.

“See, shortly before the police found any of the six bodies, I’d always get a text to my phone.” Kudo says, and he lifts his spare hand to scratch at his neck. “Of the crime scenes themselves.”

He shows the picture to Heiji, then turns to Kazuha. Previous attendances to crime scenes in Osaka are the only reason she doesn’t throw up – she pales though, feels slightly faint. Heiji’s moves his hands to her shoulders, making sure she stays stood up.

“They’re different though,” Heiji says after a second. “It’s not the same crime scene as the police reports.”

Kudo nods his head. “Exactly. I think it was one of their plans, you know. They wanted me to mess up during the investigation and say things were different. So the pictures…”

Kazuha feels understanding flash through her. Her mind recalls the interview she’d overheard yesterday, unable to forget it. She says, “that’s why you said you had to solve the case from two angles. The way the police saw it… and the way you’d seen it before…?”

He locks his phone. “Yes.”

It’s almost enough, but… She wants to say he’s telling the truth, but, it could all be some ruse. Some way of making sure that someone would believe it if they came across the phone. But then… Kudo hadn’t shown anyone since he’d hidden the phone over a year and a half ago…

“Is there anything else…?” She asks.

He nods again, eyes lighting up as if he can see that he’s getting through to her. “Yes, I-”

His phone buzzes. The three of them seem to jump at the sound, staring down to face it. Heiji’s arms around her dig into her shoulders. Kazuha feels her legs waver. Opposite them, Kudo lets out a small cry, something not quite human.

Unknown number. His phone reads. One new picture message.

Chapter Text

The thing about cases, Heiji thinks, is that detectives can’t prevent them from happening. They can’t fix what’s going to happen without knowing about the potential risks, and most cases are impulsive, the cause of spur of the moment decisions.

Perhaps he’s not really a detective then… because between him and Kudo, they could have prevented this. They  should have known that people would find out about Kudo – that they’d have to keep up the facade of Kudo being a serial killer – but they’d disregarded the fact.

And now there was no way to fix things. Someone was dead.

The case fell into their laps, already broken.

“I didn’t-” Kudo heaves out a breath, brings both hands up to his neck and scratches. He digs nails into skin, picking away at steadily fading bruises. Heiji doesn’t know how exactly, but in between him seeing the phone and Kudo raising his hands, Kazuha has reached forward, taking Kudo’s phone from the other boy.

She passes it to Heiji, and after a brief moment of hesitation, he reopens the text message, seeing the picture that Kudo hadn’t turned his phone around for them to see. Beside him, Kazuha cranes her neck to see as well, lets out a small gasp before burying her head into the nook of his shoulders.

“It wasn’t me,” Kudo breathes, and he moves back until he’s curled in on himself on the bench he’d been sat at moments before. “I didn’t-”

“I know ya didn’t.” Heiji says, and maybe his voice wavers a little bit, but it’s not fear of Kudo, but rather a fear for him. “We’re gonna solve this.”

And then, he takes a moment to fully look at the message. Since the first image, three more have been sent, all of the same crime scene but from different angles. All four pictures, however, depict the murder victim – an older man, one that Heiji recognises as Numabuchi Ki'ichiro from the news – suspended to a wall, blood dripping down…

Heiji has to turn away. Holds his mouth to avoid being sick. He’s seen plenty of murders in his time, some even more gruesome than this, but they’ve never been personal before. Not like this.

“They brought that man here yesterday,” Kazuha whispers, “so that he could show them to the fourth body he killed…”

Heiji knows – they’d read the back of someone’s newspaper on the train from Osaka, read about how a famed serial killer was being brought into police custody from prison to bring the police to one of the victims that had never been retrieved. Apparently they’d be going into the woods…

“He was a serial killer…?” Kudo asks, and drops his hands away from his neck, placing his feet back down onto the floor. He’s pale, and he pushes away from the bench with a slight stumble in his step. His gait is one that Heiji’s seen before with witnesses to crimes, melancholy jerking their bodies as they try to smother their grief.

“You don’t know who he is…?” Kazuha asks, taking Heiji’s own phone from his pocket and searching for an internet article. “He was caught a while back, near Osaka, after having killed several people.”

She passes the phone to Kudo, and Heiji has to watch as he skims over the article, lips slowly forming a tight line. Kudo brings a hand up to his neck again, digs his nails further into his bruises, and – and his throat is bleeding in a similar manner to how Numabuchi is, in the picture.

He’d always thought the scratching was unconscious – but…

“Shinichi-kun,” Kazuha says, and Heiji startles at just how familiar she is, when seconds ago he’d been the person she most despised. She takes a step forward, takes the phone back, and wraps her other hand around the wrist he’s using to scratch at his neck. “yer hurtin’ yourself.”

Kudo glances at her, and Heiji forces himself to move, to offer some sort of help as well. He’s not good with emotions, so he hovers instead, helps Kazuha lead Kudo over to some grass where the three of them sit; Heiji with his legs crossed, Kazuha on her knees, holding both of Kudo’s wrists away from his neck. And Kudo – staring at nothing, eyes wide and dull.

“It’s because I went to the police station.” Kudo whispers after a moment. His voice isn’t loud, but somehow it echoes, sends a shudder down Heiji’s spine. “They found out which city I was in and now they…” He chokes on the words, turns his head so that he’s staring away from them.

Kazuha turns to Heiji, swaps his phone for Kudo’s. She bites her lip, pockets Kudo’s phone and scrunches her nose as she attempts to think. Good, Heiji thinks, at least one of them is thinking. Because he doesn’t know what to do. He is not good at being on the other side of crime – breaking Kudo out, seeing bodies before the police do…

Heiji has to suppress a shudder.

“We’re gonna figure this out.” Kazuha says, and she lets go of Kudo’s hands long enough to reach into her bag. She pulls out a small first aid kit, unzips it, and pulls out an antiseptic wipe. “Heiji’s gonna go back to th’ station, to find a way onto th’ case. And Shinichi-kun and I are gonna search through whatever files tha’ he has.”

Kudo nods, almost half heartedly.

“I thought ya were mad at ‘im,” Heiji says after a while, “why are ya bein’ so….”

Kazuha rips open the antiseptic wipe, uses one hand to lift Kudo’s chin up while wiping his blood away. There are crescent marks where his nails have dug into skin, but luckily it isn’t too deep.

“Kind?” Kazuha asks after she’s finished wiping Kudo’s neck, moving down to brush off any flecks of blood on his hands. “I’m not like you, Heiji, I have the capability of feelin’ more than two or three emotions at a time. I’m still mad, but there are more important things.”

Heiji bites his cheek, nods.

“I’ll head back to th’ station then.” He says, “and find a way onto th’ case. If there are two versions of the case, I’ll send pictures. That’ll help, righ’?”

Kudo nods, looks back at them both with focused eyes. The expression he wears… It’s determined, and somehow, Heiji knows that Kudo will solve the case he’s been trapped with, even if it kills him.

“It’ll help a lot.”


“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Saguru turns at the voice. It’s not that he likes worrying people, but he almost can’t bring himself to respond. Instead, he glances across at Ran, bites into the inside of his cheek and nods his head. He’d been late – which, well, Saguru doesn’t do late – and maybe he’d had a bit of a panic attack inside the car, relying on Baaya to calm him down, but he’s certainly fine now.

“I’m fine,” he says when Ran’s frown remains on her face. It’s a stupid question though, Saguru thinks. No one asks if someone’s okay, without knowing they’re not. Without having at least a slight inkling that someone might need some reassurance. Without needing to have the question asked in response… “And you? Are you alright?”

Ran shakes her head, and for an almost heart-stuttering moment, Saguru wonders what’s happened. Then, he reads the creases beneath her eyelids, takes a second to notice that she’s slightly pale – such a distinct reaction. It can only be-

“What’s happened with Kudo-kun?” Saguru asks, moving forwards. He leans forward, hesitates from where he’s gone to put a reassuring hand to her shoulder, letting his hand drop. If something’s happened with Kudo, then she’s not going to want comfort. She’s going to want to act.

“He was here.” Ran says.

Saguru stiffens. “Here, as in Tokyo?”

“No.” Ran shakes her head. “Here, as in the station.”

The inside of his stomach flips, acid churning against his stomach. Of course, on a day that he’s late because of car problems, he’d miss out on something so important. It’s not like it’s a big deal or anything. He steps forward, glances at the police officers that are swarming the department, and decides that this must be the reason for the buzzing in the station today.

“Tell me everything,” Saguru says, and she does. She talks about how she and Aoko had found themselves chasing after the escaped convicts after two detectives had been found tied up in a cupboard by a traffic officer on a search for traffic cones. Says how together with Hattori they’d tracked them down to the second floor, to a seemingly dead end, where both Kuroba and Kudo had jumped from the window.

“Something doesn’t feel right…” Saguru mutters when she’s finished telling the story. Beside him, Ran tugs at her ponytail and glances across at him, a dip between her skin where she’s frowning. “I… need to see videos from earlier.”

He needs to see the chase from the security tapes because something just doesn’t add up.

“Let’s go ask Inspector Megure for access,” Ran says, and grabs his wrist. “He’ll let us in, if it’ll help…”

The inspector is shrugging on his jacket when they knock on his office door, opening to face him. He’s unnaturally pale, almost the same colour of Kuroba when he’s playing the part of phantom, and Megure turns to face them without so much as a greeting.

Instead, he asks, “You’re trying to prove Kudo-kun innocent?”

They both nod. Somehow, words stick to Saguru’s throat, making him unable to form any response. He bites at his cheek until he tastes blood, nervousness oozing from every pore.

Inspector Megure nods his head, glances away from them. His fingers clench as he looks towards the exit, where Detective’s Sato and Takagi sit outside, answering questions by their fellow detectives. He sighs, a long suffering sound, echoing regret and frustration.

“You’ll probably want to try and solve this murder then,” the Inspector says.

Murder?

“Let’s go then,” Megure says, and he pushes himself forwards, weighed down by the stress Kudo’s escape has brought to him. It’s only been days, but somehow, the case has aged him several years. “Before the reporters catch wind of everything.”

Another murder?

Saguru doesn’t know what to think. It’s like a punch to the gut. Just looking at Ran shows him that she’s got the same feeling settling in her stomach as well, and he reaches forward to grab her hand, squeezes it with some form of reassurance. Ran offers him a small smile.

“Let’s go.” Ran whispers after a moment, “we need to prove him wrong.”

They need to – and yet, they’ve been failing at proving people wrong for months.


“You came here for a reason,” Aoko says, after they’ve spent an hour lying back against the bed, laid beside one another, trying to catch up. “Didn’t you?”

So far, Aoko has told him about entrance exams and the new book series Keiko has forced her into loving, and Kaito, in return has told her about how they’d gotten out of prison – excluding all mention of Hattori and Shinichi’s prison guard contact – and about how he’d originally been thrown into solitary confinement.

“Yes,” Kaito says, and his shoulders tense as he senses the oncoming questions. Why? What for?

“Related to the heist you’re going to hold soon?” Aoko asks after a moment, and it’s still odd that she’s acting so seriously, but Kaito thinks he can adjust to it, if only for now – Maybe she’s not childish like she used to be. Kaito isn’t sure whether it’s current circumstances that have changed her speech patterns, or whether Aoko’s simply… matured since they’ve last spoken.

“I thought you didn’t like hearing about KID,” Kaito asks, pushes himself up on his elbows to look Aoko in the eye. His lack of an answer is confirmation though, and instead of staring back at him, Aoko’s gaze flitters across the room as she tries to figure out what exactly is out of place.

Kaito would have to be a fool to think that they hadn’t searched the house shortly after his capture, but he’s certain that they’ve not found the secret room – he’d only ever found it out of pure luck. From the lack of police tape over his fathers painting, it’s obvious that he’s still lucky in one regard.

“I don’t,” Aoko says at last, facing him when her search comes up empty. “But you’ve announced a heist at a very bad time.”

Raising an eyebrow, Kaito shrugs, pushes up completely from his bed. He crosses the space to his dresser, picks up one of the photo frames that rest there – an old one, from back when his father was alive.

“Did I?” He asks, as he unlatches the photo frame, folding the photo up and tucking it into his jacket pocket. He moves on to another photo, one with him an Aoko, which he also pockets. “I think it’s a good time.”

Aoko pushes up from his bed, frowns. “The police think you’re working with Kudo Shinichi. They’ll be more pressed to catch you at the heist if it leads them to him. People put more effort into catching killers than thieves.”

Kaito turns. “But I am working with Shinichi.”

It takes a moment for Kaito to process the fact that Aoko flinches away from the fact. It’s almost like she’s been burnt, and he wants to reassure her of the truth, but she’s the daughter of an inspector and without proof she won’t believe in a person’s innocence – or their guilt.

How else had he been able to keep the facade of not being KID for so long? She’d had her suspicions several times, yet he’d only been able to keep her unknowing because she wasn’t the type to believe without seeing.

It’s probably the reason she’d always loved magic tricks. She’d seen the trick, and believed in magic because it had been there, before her very eyes…

And yet… Aoko forces a calmer expression onto her face and says, “you think he’s innocent too?”

“He is innocent,” Kaito says. Then, after a pause. “What do you mean too. Who else thinks he’s innocent?”

Aoko scrunches her nose, crosses her arms. She nods her head absent-mindedly as she speaks. “Kudo-kun’s girlfriend, Hakuba-kun, and Hattori-kun. They’re working to try and prove his innocence.”

Hakuba…? To think that after refusing him… So Kaito really did get through to him. Somehow, it leaves him feeling slightly less riled than before. Had Hakuba just said no to get a reaction, or more information from him? Or had he really not intended to…

“You’re working with them too?” Aoko dips her head yes. “What are your thoughts on Shinichi?”

Aoko leans back, brushes her hair behind her ear. Her shoulders tense, not much, but enough to say that she doesn’t think he’s innocent. Not by a long shot.

“I don’t know,” Aoko says after a moment. “All I do know, is that working with him puts you in more danger than working without him.”

She has a look in her eyes that makes Kaito want to turn away. It’s hot, more fiery than the usual chilling worry he’s seen her wear in the past – almost as if she’s angry that he’s consciously putting himself in danger. Maybe she knows that he’d much rather crash and burn than force himself to do something boring.

Aoko knows him, knows him well enough to know that to him, life is a performance, and the more risks… Well, the more risks he takes, the larger the applause he’ll receive when the curtain falls.

“I’m in danger either way,” Kaito says. “At least with Shinichi, I have someone in a similar position to me.”

There is a nod, almost as if Aoko had known, almost as if she’s expected to hear such a thing. Kaito expects that one day he’ll explain, maybe when they’ve got time, when he can fully explain without putting Aoko in danger herself.

She rises from the bed, crosses her way over to him, resting her hands on his arms. For a moment, Aoko simply looks up, almost as if she’s trying to memorise his true face, as if she won’t see it again. Then, she tears her gaze away, staring down at the carpet.

“Call off the heist then.” She whispers, “wait until everything’s calmed down.”

Kaito shakes his head, lifts a hand up to trace her name against her skin, hoping she’ll remember the trust she’d had in him once, to survive against the odds. He smiles, sadly, a melancholic mixture of stuttered heartbeats and forced happiness. A mask, despite the fact that he just wants to be himself around Aoko. “No.”

“Why…?”

There are too many reasons and Kaito can’t just pick one.

He thinks about how he needs to find Pandora, thinks about how his father would have found the gemstone already if he were alive. He wants to say that the heist is a smokescreen to more dangerous things, something to keep people’s eyes from the real reason they visited the station. He wants to say that he enjoys heists, that they’re too interesting to just put off.

Instead, he asks, “if I give you a proper heist notice, with the date I have planned, will you give it to your father?”

Aoko blinks away tears. “You’re going to get yourself hurt. Or caught. I’m not sure which is worse.”

“No,” Kaito says, “I’m not.”

It doesn’t offer any reassurance to either of them, but it does lead to Aoko saying she’ll hand a note in, if only because she can’t destroy evidence that the police might need in catching him. They’re quiet, as Kaito reaches into his desk, scrawls kanji onto a blank card, offering a time and date for his heist.

In two days, he decides. Another quick move – impulsive, maybe, but also effective in stealing police attention – and he knows that Aoko has to keep the surprise from her face as she realises he’s not even going to take weeks to prepare, just days.

“It’s a bad idea.” She says again, when he passes the card over.

“Will you deliver it for me now?” He asks, “So that you won’t lose it?”

The way Aoko’s lips purse together, tightening, brings a sickening feeling to his stomach. Skin pinches around her eyes as she frowns, but ultimately, Aoko nods, accepts that she’s got to leave soon anyway. He doesn’t want her to go, but Kaito knows that he needs to focus on the heist now, not Aoko and that there will be time…

He’ll find time – it’s not like he has a fully functioning life that’s going to demand something of him any more. Just a life on the run, wasting time until he can fulfil the goals he’s set for himself.

“You’ll be gone though,” Aoko says, “if I come back.”

Another smile. From the way it falters after seconds, it’s not exactly a mask, and Kaito feels vulnerable in a way he’s not exactly used to. He shakes his head, “you’ll look for me at the heist though, I’m sure.”

“I won’t just look,” Aoko says, and she places her hands on her shoulder, stands on tiptoes so that she can plant a kiss on his cheek, “I’ll find you.”

She retrieves her phone, places the battery back inside, and slips it into her pocket. And then, with one final look, Aoko leaves his room behind, taking with her the heist note declaring KID’s return in full detail.

Kaito watches her from his bedroom window, takes the risk of peeking out of curtains, before setting off into the room his father had hidden, closing the door behind him.


The safe house that Kudo’s – or should she refer to him as Shinichi now? After breaking the law and not turning him in immediately, Kazuha feels almost like they have a certain degree of intimacy, as if referring to one another by surnames isn’t right – is larger than expected.

Kazuha doesn’t know what she’d been expecting, maybe a single room, maybe something more hidden, but the safe house is strangely large, empty, but not lacking in space. There’s a small table in one of the corners, and Shinichi pulls up a chair as he removes the case files he’d received from the police station. Begrudgingly, Kazuha copies him.

“I…” Shinichi doesn’t talk much, keeps breaking off whenever he wants to say something, but frankly, Kazuha doesn’t blame him. She wouldn’t be capable of saying much if her actions had just resulted in the death of a man. Despite the fact that the victim had been sentenced to death as well… Kazuha knows that it’s not going to offer any comfort. “I can’t…”

She doesn’t say that it’s going to be okay, because such words would be empty promises. Instead, she waits until Shinichi opens the folder, says that they’ll work on the case until they find a breakthrough.

“I don’t know where to start,” Shinichi sighs, shaking his head. For a moment, he flicks through pages of information, skin pinched together into a frown, but then, he lifts his hand to scratch at skin again. Kazuha pulls on his wrist, tries to stop him before he can reopen the cuts that have dried on their way back.

“Start at th’ beginnin’.” Kazuha says, “and explain it t’ me. You’ll familiarise yerself with th’ case, while we wait for Heiji to send us updates on th latest murder.”

Shinichi leans forward, plucks up the paper and after skimming over each, he compiles an ordered list. Offering a small smile, he says, “Let’s get started then.”

Chapter Text

“Listen, when I said convince her you’re innocent, I didn’t mean bring her here.”

Kaito isn’t sure how he should be feeling, but vulnerable shouldn’t be it. He’d known that Shinichi would have to prove his innocence in some manner, but bringing Kazuha into their hideout…? Whatever reason the ex-convict had to bring her here… Kaito isn’t sure it’ll be a good enough explanation.

“Kaito-” Shinichi turns, a guilty expression on his face. He practically shrinks from the stare he receives, even though Kaito’s lips have turned upwards, into some amicable version of a smile. He hopes Kazuha doesn’t read into the tightness around his eyes though, because he doesn’t feel calm enough to fully wear a mask.

His safe house… one of the only places he can let his guard down and now–

“You’re KID,” Kazuha says, turning her body to look at him more closely. She crosses her arms, leans forward slightly as she stares at him. “Or do ya prefer Kuroba Kaito?”

“Kaito’s fine,” he says, because any level of intimacy is bound to make her act more open towards him, “And I’ll call you Kazuha, is that alright?”

She stiffens for a second – the intimacy is probably too quick for her to wrap her head around, laughable considering how quickly she’d adapted after finding out about Heiji’s involvement. She’d helped them escape seemingly without a second thought – before relaxing her shoulders.

“Sounds good t’ me,” Kazuha says, “nice to meet ya Kaito-kun.”

“Now,” Kaito says, dropping his bag onto the floor as he stalks forward, crossing the distance from the entrance to both Kazuha and Shinichi. “I don’t mean to be rude but, why are you here?”

Shinichi shrivels away from the question, even though it’s not directed towards him. Kaito’s first thought is that something has happened – maybe she’d been more reluctant to believe Shinichi than they’d expected – but then he racks his brain to the increased activity of police cars on his way back to the safe house.

“I’m helping Shinichi-kun with his case,” Kazuha says after a moment, turning away and glancing back at the files they’ve sprawled across the table. Kaito can’t read any of the words there, but from the intensity he feels both exuding, they’re obviously important. “And it had to be here.”

Kaito rubs at his temples, “you couldn’t have gone to a cafe or something? You had to compromise this place?”

The only place he can truly be himself, doesn’t have to wear a poker face or mask and… and Shinichi’s compromised it because he’s incapable of living efficiently as an outlaw?

“The police are on high alert,” Shinichi says, turning to face him properly. His eyes look faraway, glassy, but there’s conviction there too. “Seeing as someone died.”

“Of course they’re on high alert, I mean we–“ Kaito has to do a double take, feels dizzy on his feet. “Someone what?”

Shinichi doesn’t need to say that he’s being serious, Kaito knows how to read his expression’s at this point. Sharing such a small cell, being confined in the same room for hours a day practically makes you a pro at reading them.

And well… They’ve gotten this far on trust, Kaito doesn’t see a reason not to trust what he’s saying.

“Another dead,” Shinichi says, “because of me.”

Not his fault, Kaito thinks, not Shinichi’s. And it’s not his fault either – they’re not guilty. They can’t afford to be guilty, they’re not responsible for someone else being killed… they’re not responsible for the actions of others, so…

“Let me take a look at this,” Kaito says, stepping forward. Maybe he should show some sort of reaction, but a murder? There’s no good way to react, so Kaito simply… doesn’t. “This is all the information you’ve got right? We’ll see if it coincides with anything I know.”

“Kaito-”

Kaito shakes his head, blinks away any hesitation as he snatches some pages up, settling on the floor when he realises there is a distinct lack of a third chair. And maybe he feels like hiding beneath the table, just to sort everything that’s happened in his head, but he forces himself not to.

His father had always said that having a poker face offers some sort of security. Even if it’s not a particularly healthy coping mechanism, it is, at least, a way to deal with this issue without letting it consume him.

“We’ve got work to do,” Kaito says. Then, he pauses. “If Hattori isn’t here, and you know about this murder then… I take it he’s gone to investigate?”

Kazuha nods, a small movement that Kaito only catches because it’s easier to meet her eye right now that Shinichi’s. He’s certain the detective is blaming himself, angry at himself for doing something flashy that’s led to the murder but – frankly, the flashiness is something Kaito had thought of…

Kaito closes his eyes for a second, tries not to imagine the scene that Hattori is heading towards, before shaking his head.

“Yes,” Kazuha says after a moment. She’s quiet, almost reserved, but with an intensity that shows she’s the calmest of them all. Maybe if she wasn’t currently capable of getting them both arrested, again, Kaito would be impressed by her. Instead, he’s just… intimidated? “He got a text from Hakuba-kun telling him to show at an address as soon as possible. He’s on his way now.”


“I came as soon as I got the text message,” Aoko breathes as she races up the stair case towards some police tape. She’d been halfway towards the police station, ready to deliver the heist notice when her phone had buzzed, tearing her attention from looking outside the train window. It had been a rare moment of service on the train, the message slithering into her inbox.

A murder.

Ran and Hakuba are stood speaking to a police officer, gathering any information on the victim’s identity. Aoko glances at them momentarily, before turning her gaze over to Hattori. He’s tense, almost nervous as he stands to the side, glancing at the street name and surveying what Aoko can only assume are CCTV cameras in the street.

She supposes that she should talk to Ran or Hakuba first, for some sort of input as to what’s going on, but she’s certain that’s not the best idea. They’re both intuitive, and well, Aoko thinks that it’ll be difficult to fool them.

And Aoko really needs to fool them for a little while – If only for Kaito’s sake. After all, she’d let him leave without a word, and he’s their easiest way to Kudo…

“What’re you doing?” She asks Hattori instead, making her way to stand beside the Osakan. She glances in the same general direction as he does, squints at the amount of frayed wired and broken lenses on each of the CCTV cameras.

“I-” Hattori turns to glance at her, (he’s pale, swallows air as if struggling to think), “I’m tryin’ to see if there’s any video evidence tha’ Kudo was here.”

Aoko crosses her arms, realises that the cameras probably aren’t going to give them any help. A good infiltration route, but also a clear point for any argument that Kudo is innocent. A possible copycat murder then? But if no one knows that Kudo’s outside of prison…?

“None of the cameras seem operational.” Aoko sighs in response, following Hattori as he makes his way nearer to one of the police investigators. He’s a slightly rounder man, a detective that Aoko thinks is called Chisa… wait… no Chiba.

“No,” Hattori says, turning to glance at Aoko, “they aren’t. But in a’ area like this, I don’t think anyone cares much abou’ workin’ cameras.”

It’s true, for an area as run down as this one, there had been a subsequent lack of police influence. Some patrols had been present, when Aoko had left the station behind to find the scene, but there had been broken glass and crushed cigarettes scattered across the pavements.

It’s a shame that areas like this even exist, but Aoko supposes there’s little they can do in tackling crime without inflicting unjust punishments.

“Detective Chiba” Hattori says as he stops in from of Chiba, not waiting for Aoko’s response. “Has th’ coroner gathered th’ time o’ death yet?”

The detective nods, crosses his arms. “It was between 11a.m and 1pm. They’ve taken the body to the morgue to see if it fits within the profile of… the previous killings, but the basic MO labels this as one of… Kudo-kun’s.”

Hattori stiffens, a minute detail but something that Aoko reads with a side glance. She tries to narrow in on what exactly has made him nervous, but it’s too difficult to read his movements that intricately. There’s something though, something that has him riled.

Aoko glances at her phone, the time flashing 15.23 at her. Something about the timings seems off. She bites into her cheek as Hattori asks another question, words that don’t quite register. 11a.m and 1p.m.

The realisation washes ice down her spine.

11.30a.m – the rough timing when Kaito had shown at her house. They’d talked for hours; Not long enough that it had dragged, but by the time he’d left, the time had been past 1p.m. And he’d been by himself, no Kudo with him.

Which begs the question: Where had Kudo been?

Aoko isn’t sure, but it is worrying. She knows that Kaito’s got faith in him, believes that he’s innocent, but frankly, she’s nervous. Doesn’t it seem like too big a coincidence for them to be split up, for Kudo to have been by himself at the direct time?

She’s missing something.

“Can we go inside?” Aoko asks, and maybe she should ask things like ‘who was the victim?’ or 'who discovered the body?’, but she’ll leave that line of thought to Hakuba and Ran. It’ll offer her a little bit of comfort, anyway, if she doesn’t know – it’ll only lead to a sickly feeling in her chest if she can associate a name with a pool of blood.

“Y-yes,” Hattori says, “we need to actually investigate th’ scene.”

Detective Chiba takes a moment, before nodding his head. They leave the other two behind without a word, following behind the detective as he leads them into an apartment building, up a small stairwell to the second floor. It’s a dusty place, abandoned, but there are certain areas that seem to still be in use.

Maybe for the homeless, or for those trafficking drugs. Aoko doesn’t know, isn’t sure whether she even wants to know.

“I know you probably know this already,” Chiba says, leading them down the corridor to a room where they have to duck under more police tape, “but don’t contaminate the crime scene. If you really need to move anything I’m sure forensics will give you some gloves.”

“We will,” Aoko says as they step into the room. Both she and Hattori have to push their way past a small cluster of detectives who’re discussing the case near the doors, as they enter the room.

The first thing she sees is the blood. There’s a lot of it, splattered across the carpet and the far off wall. It makes Aoko’s stomach squirm, and she reaches forward to grab Hattori’s arm.

“I’m sorry,” she says when he turns wide eyes on to her, “I’ll be okay, I just… haven’t been at a murder scene before.”

“It’s alright,” Hattori says, and then after a second, “I’m sorry ya had ta attend this one. Let’s look over there.”

They move nearer to the blood splatter, and Aoko finds herself breathing through her mouth to avoid the pungent smell of copper invading her nose. Instead, it feels almost like she can taste metal in her mouth, something that forces a shudder to run down her body.

The walls – usually beige – are stained red, but in the middle of the stain are clear blotches. A glance to the side of the blood stains shows two cable ties on either side wrapped around the rafters. She supposes that’s how the body was suspended, as Kudo’s supposed victims usually were.

Hattori pulls his phone from his pocket as Aoko takes a step forward, dropping her hand from his arm. There’s something… odd, about the colouring of the blood and she’s almost disgusted that she’s thinking so intensely about blood.

“Hattori-kun,” she says, grabbing his attention. He lowers his phone – wait, was he taking a picture? - and steps forward, waiting for her to respond. “Is it just me or… does this area look a little… wetter than the rest of the wall?”

Hattori squints, looks closer as Aoko points a finger at the area she’s talking about. If she can envision a body with this amount of blood… She doesn’t know the size of the victim, not without seeing him, but if she’s going on the basis that he was the average height then… this blood is above the heart by several centimetres.

“It’s… Yeah,” Hattori says, almost quiet. “Considering how th’ rest has started drying, and how tha’s still wet…”

“Almost as if it was added too, after the initial bleeding stopped. Maybe…?” Aoko asks, and Hattori steps forward frowns.

“It’s not dripped, like th’ rest has. And… it’s small, like a rectangle.” Hattori pulls his phone out, takes a picture of the area which… weird but okay. “Let’s see if anything else seems strange.”

Aoko nods. And together they make their way through the room.


“There’s something I just don’t understand,” Saguru says, when he and Ran are climbing the stairs towards the crime scene. They’d been talking to Inspector Shiratori, gaining a wider background on the victim, Numabuchi, and hadn’t really gotten answers as such. “How does a serial killer escape under the watchful eye of several guards suddenly go missing.”

Ran’s pace is brisk, and Saguru had to take longer strides to keep up with her. Her face is scrunched up in thought, fingers clasped together as she tries to come up with some sort of an explanation.

“I don’t know,” Ran says, shaking her head. “They said they were searching in the woods for it, so they even sent extra forces in.”

“Exactly,” Saguru says, shaking his head. “How would a prisoner under that much surveillance be able to get away. His base intelligence wasn’t very high, according to tests he’d taken, and he wasn’t even an escape risk.”

Ran curls a strand of hair behind her ear. “Tests can be cheated. Maybe he was waiting for a moment to escape?”

Saguru shakes his head. It doesn’t seem plausible, plus, if what Shiratori had told them was true, then there wasn’t a change. He’d been heavily chained, kept under the watchful eye of at least three guards at every moment. Some escapes are simply impossible without sheer luck mixed with pure brilliance.

“No,” he says, stepping onto the crime scene. “Numabuchi wouldn’t have gotten away without a big diversion. Without something massive happening, and even then, they should have caught him while he was still in the woods.

Ran shrugs her shoulders, an indication that she really doesn’t know what she should think at this point in time. Maybe if they had more facts, some information from the people in charge of keeping Numabuchi in chains, they’d be able to get some sort of truth from the situation.

“The woods are an hour drive from Tokyo,” Ran says, as they move through the crime scene. Neither she nor Saguru are focused much on the scene though, not right now, “if we take into account how long it takes to get there, create a big enough diversion, steal Numabuchi and bring him back here to be killed, Shinichi and KID couldn’t have done it.”

Saguru pinches the bridge of his nose. “The police are going to talk about how they escaped. You know that someone helped them escape, they wouldn’t have been able to get into Tokyo without an accomplice. And they’ll argue that this third person was collecting Numabuchi while those two were stealing attention inside Tokyo.”

“This is…” Ran shakes her head, “I don’t understand anything about this case. I know that Shinichi wouldn’t kill anyone, but the day he appears in Tokyo someone dies… I don’t understand how someone else could know his location.”

Saguru stills, takes a moment to think. Then, turning his eyes towards the police inspectors, he lets out a deep breath. “There are only so many people who know about the escape. The police. The prison. And us. If we consider that no one’s leaked this to other groups then…”

Ran makes her way to the window, glances out at one of the cameras and it’s wiring. It’s been sliced, probably with wire cutters, by how clean the cut is. Saguru follows behind her, a heavy feeling slinking down on his shoulders, weighing him down.

“It’d explain how Numabuchi happened to get away from the guards,” Ran whispers, edging Saguru to look at the cameras. It’s professionally done, not done by amateurs. Something easily blamed on KID and his skills, but also something anyone with patience and an internet connection can learn to do.

“I think,” Saguru says, crossing his arms, “that we really need to talk to both Kudo-kun and KID.”


The KID-KUDO jailbreak: Echoes of murder as police hunt two escaped prisoners – including serial killer Kudo Shinichi who murdered six, and infamous phantom thief KID (Kuroba Kaito) – who left their cells and escaped through the solitary confinement unit.

Two prisoners are on the run after breaking out of XXXX using minimal tools, have been named as a serial killer and illustrious phantom thief.

Kuroba Kaito, 18, and Kudo Shinichi, 18, escaped the prison several days ago after leaving a playing card in their beds to goad the police.

Kuroba had been serving a sentence for crimes as the thief Kaitou 1412 (KID). Kudo had been serving a sentence after he was found guilty of serial murder, with six counts of premeditated murder.

Police warn members of the public not to approach the escapees as they are dangerous, and if seen to phone XXX immediately.

Read live updates on this case.

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Chapter Text

The heist notices burns a hole through Aoko’s pocket. Or rather, it scalds her skin, through the fabric of her clothes, leaving her with second degree burns.

She’s not sure whether it’s because she’s just finished looking around the murder scene that’s partially blaming Kaito – Kaito who she’d been with the moment the murder had even happened – or because she needs to figure out a way to give the heist notice away without giving away any clues to any of the detectives she’s seen.

The burn, is guilt, as Aoko realises she’s going to have to lie.

And the longer she leaves the heist notice in her pocket, waiting for the ‘right’ time to give it to the police, the hotter it burns. Beside her, Hattori doesn’t seem to notice anything, closing his eyes as he tries to piece everything together.

She’d been nervous when he’d started taking pictures on his phone, but it had make her think. There is something to Hattori that she can’t quite place, and she’s suspicious, like she’s been suspicious since he’d first shown up. Why is would he need pictures from obscure angles, when they don’t show quite as much as the pictures forensics will print them later.

Aoko isn’t sure.

“Hattori-kun,” she mutters, grabbing his attention from the plug sockets he seems interested in. There’s some blood by the switch – a dying message? Or just coincidence? - “What were you studying when Hakuba-kun rang?”

Hattori glances at her, tilts his head. “About th’ murder?”

“No,” Aoko shakes her head, “what were you studying when he asked for Kudo’s files?”

For a moment, Hattori is quiet. He shrugs his shoulders and says, “radical equations, I think. Why?”

Aoko puts her hands in her pockets, feels the heist notice between her fingers. It’s a little thicker than card, but smoother and she almost feels her pulse in her ears, knowing she has something the police force are bound to be searching for.

She brushes her finger across the notice again, before shaking her head, standing up.

“I was just wondering, is all.” She stands up, pulls her hands from her pockets and turns away. “I was thinking that I shouldn’t be here, I’m not the detective, I should be at home finishing my homework.”

Hattori’s tone sounds almost as guilty as Aoko feels. He says, “if ya go home now, you’ll be turning yer back on 'em.”

Aoko bites her lip, steels her voice and says, “I’m in this to catch them, Hattori-kun, not to prove their innocence.”

She moves before he can grab hold of her wrist, moving towards the doorway. As she rushes down the stairs, under police tape and out into the streets of Shibuya, she heaves out a sigh.

Hattori Heiji, she thinks, is a terrible liar. He’s convincing, yes, but without a fully formed cover story, he’s practically an amateur. Kaito would be better – Kaito is better. KID weaves cover stories until he has a brand new personality, and maybe Aoko had been angry about it, but it had also been admirable.

Kaito would have remembered that he’d told someone he was solving a case when he’d answered the phone – he would not have been so easily fooled into changing the cover story.

At least Aoko can help. If she leaves now, she’ll be able to get the heist notice to the station – for Kaito’s sake – and it’ll leave Hattori with a window of opportunity to take whatever his pictures are for, to… To Kudo-kun right?

That must be it. The reason Hattori had shown early this morning, helping the criminals break in, the reason he’d not known his own cover story.

Hattori Heiji is their accomplice.

Aoko glances back at police cars, lifts her fingers to her lips. They come away bloody, having punctured her teeth into the skin. If Hattori is the accomplice, then the murder – the idea that a third man grabbed the murder victim – falls flat. With all three of them in Tokyo, there had been no one to…

She bites her lip, makes her way towards the station.

For now, Aoko decides to believe in Kaito, in Kudo’s innocence – she’ll find a way to keep people from figuring Hattori out. And to keep them from looking too deeply into Hattori… she’ll have to direct their attention.

Aoko needs to send in the heist notice.

And she needs to do it convincingly.


“We need to go to the museum,” Ran pulls away from the window, eyes clouded with something – Saguru isn’t certain whether it’s determination, or reservation – before crossing her arms. “If we want to talk to KID and Shinichi, then our best shot is that heist. And we need to figure out KID’s planned routes in and out.”

Saguru agrees.

He doesn’t know much about the museums in Ueno, but he does know the museum Kuroba has hinted at. Just as much as he knows the gemstone – Kuroba has started with the very heist location that had got him caught in the first time.

The Cullinan diamond. Kuroba had failed on his first attempt to receive the gem. One of the taskforce had torn the hang glider he’d used for some escapes, making it impossible for him to use his most efficient exits. With the handicap, Kuroba had been forced to the lower floors, where he’d attempted to climb from the first floor down to the road below.

Saguru isn’t completely sure what had happened during those minutes. He’d been inspecting one of the vents, wondering whether KID had used it to get to the upper floors undetected, when all units had been notified of KID’s capture.

We’re unmasking him now, Nakamori had said, while Saguru had pushed through the crowd of police officers, towards the centre of the ring. And off with the disguise.

He’d discarded the top hat and the monocle until all that was left was Kuroba Kaito sat with his arms shackled, squirming in an attempt to get away before the task force checked to see if this was his true face. Saguru had stopped breathless, staring across the crowd at Aoko as she’d stared, wincing as he’d realised that soon she’d know the truth.

Now off with this mask, Nakamori had pulled at his cheeks, pulled until he was certain it was skin and not glue, until he was certain his mind had not been playing tricks on him. Kaito…?

And KID – Kuroba Kaito – had simply smiled. Not angrily, or sadly – Saguru can only recall the smile being amused. His eyes had been alight, wild in a way Saguru had never even seen as he’d laughed, 'you all made it so easy.’

Back then, Saguru hadn’t know why he’d done it. Why he’d aggravated the Nakamori’s, when all he’d gotten out of it was tightened handcuffs that had dug into his wrists. It had taken a while to realise the smile had been Kuroba’s version of control, his words designed to keep the Nakamori’s angry rather than sad.

“I’ve got the plans to the museum from the last heist,” Saguru says after a moment, biting the inside of his cheek. He’d kept them, although frankly, Saguru isn’t sure why he hadn’t thrown them away after the capture, maybe he’d felt bad that he hadn’t actually been the one to apply the handcuffs… maybe he just wanted to remember, “I’ll ask Baaya to bring them.”

Ran nods, rubs at her ear as she tries to think. Then, her eyes widen, confusion swimming through periwinkle irises. She says, “KID never steals from the same place twice.”

“You’re right,” Saguru nods, plucks his phone from his pocket. “He’s picking up where he left off.”


The arrival of a fourth person to the safe house seems to leave Kuroba reeling.

Heiji watches as the other boy frowns, practically glaring at the toolbox he’s brought with him, unscrewing some sort of capsule.

It’s difficult to see what it is, but Heiji supposes it’s going to be filled with some sort of gas. Sleeping gas is the most obvious choice, based on previous heists, when he’d taken to sneaking behind police officers, forcing them into unconsciousness before stealing their identities.

“Yer still gonna do a heist despite th’ murder,” Heiji tries not to let the disapproval sink into his voice, but it does, festering with the sickness that keeps settling in his throat every time he thinks about the murder scene. “Even though someone died.”

Kuroba shrugs, glances away from the gas capsules. His expression morphs from annoyed to blank as he says, “people die every day. Should I stop my heists for them too?”

“Yer a murder suspect!” Heiji digs fingernails into his palms, closes the door behind him.

“Yes, and the heist is the explanation for why we set foot inside the station. To avoid catching the attention of the people who’ve made Shinichi and I into suspects.” Kuroba turns back to his tools, placing the capsules down. He picks up his monocle – something Heiji remembers being rumoured to offer night vision to the thief.

“It’s dangerous…” Kudo mutters, and Heiji nods his approval. “…But… It’s not like we can stop you.”

Well, Heiji thinks, they could. Just not in a way that would leave them all outside of a prison cell. Instead he watches Kuroba’s expression flicker. One second, there is amusement sparking in his eyes, the next, Heiji can only read seriousness.

“Don’t worry,” Kuroba says, and Kazuha looks up now, lips pressed together. She’d been texting on her phone, but now she places it down, offering them all a stern expression – Heiji’s pretty sure she’s thinking the same as him – a heist is too much of a risk.

Not that Kuroba would listen to either of them, he’s only known Kazuha a day, and Heiji for three. He sighs.

“I’m not going to get caught,” Kuroba promises. “And you guys are going to stay back here, so it’s not like you’re at risk, you know?”

“They’ve got just as much time t’ prepare as you,” Kazuha says. She lifts the papers she’s been looking at up into a pile, straightening them out. Since Heiji has stepped inside the room, she hasn’t so much as sent a look his way. “and they’re gonna treat ya as a murderer, meaning you’ll be at a big risk.”

Heiji’s been thinking about it too – how the danger doesn’t only mean recapture, but that there’s also a risk of being shot. Before, KID wasn’t seen as a high risk, but working together with a so-called serial killer only makes him a huge risk to civilians.

And Heiji knows what the police are willing to do to keep the general public safe.

“They’ve got a day to prepare.” Kuroba says after a while, crosses his arms. “I’ve had months.”


“What do you mean you’re closing the heist to the public?”

Ran is trying to be calm, she really is, but the moment the announcement pops up on her phone – KID heist announced for tomorrow, police blocking roads around – she feels vision glowing red, voice boarding from annoyed to outright outraged.

“It’s too dangerous,” Inspector Nakamori says, rubbing the back of his neck. He looks slightly sick at the thought of a KID heist being dangerous, at the idea of the boy he’d practically helped to raise being dangerous. “No civilians, and that involves you kids.”

“Inspector,” Saguru says from beside her, “with all due respect, that’s insane. KID’s a thief, but the only person he poses a risk to during this heist, is himself.”

Nakamori grabs a mint from his desk, fiddles with the edges of the wrapper. He doesn’t look at them when he speaks – maybe the thought of KID being dangerous, hurts to imagine as much as imagining Shinichi to be a murderer does. “You went to the crime scene.”

Ran’s voice dies in her throat. They have theories about that, but nothing concrete, and she doesn’t want to offer any answers before she knows for certain that they’re true. That’s why they need to go to the heist.

“We did.” Saguru answers for the both of them. He rests a hand on Ran’s elbow, offers some stability as she the taste of  blood catches in her throat.

She doesn’t fall.

“I don’t want to believe that Kai- that KID did that,” Nakamori says, “but until we get evidence against it, we’ve got to proceed along the lines that KID is dangerous. And with the added risk that Kudo might show as well-”

“You don’t want to risk any hostages.” Saguru mutters.

“Exactly.”

Ran feels herself still – Shinichi, at the heist? He’d be smart enough not to attend. He’s not like KID, he won’t be able to get in and out as easily. And maybe KID is used to immediate captures, is used to reacting immediately with smart plans, but in Ran’s experience, Shinichi needs time to plan everything over.

She don’t want him to attend. But… But it does give her an idea.

“Make an exception.” She says. Nakamori frowns, but she pushes onwards anyway, “make an exception for Aoko-chan and I.”

The frown doesn’t cease – if anything, it deepens. Nakamori says, “absolutely not.”

Saguru, however, seems to catch on to her meanings. He nods, “it’s not a bad idea. The only visitor Kudo-kun sent for, was Ran-san. And Kuroba has always had a soft spot for Aoko-san.”

Nakamori pops the mint into his mouth, glances up at them both. He says, “If we can get the two of them to stand down, it’d be easier. You’d have to wear the same protective wear as the task force…”

Ran holds her breath as she realises that he means wearing a bullet proof vest – because if things go badly, KID and Shinichi will have targets on their backs. But ultimately, she understands.

She nods, “Okay.”


They’ve closed the surrounding area down, how are we even going to get in?”

Listen, if we can stay out of their grasp this long, we can avoid the police as well.”

It’s too big a risk.”

It’s a chance to live a normal life again. Just me and you.”

…”

I’m certain KID will know how to reach Kudo Shinichi,” a sound causes the two figures to turn, eyes wide as they ensure it’s nothing dangerous. “And when we find Kudo Shinichi, he can help.”

He won’t trust us.”

Leave the worrying to me, alright Shiho? I’m the big sister, after all.”


Daytime blends away into evening with orange and pinks as the sun sets.

After hours of trying to settle himself long enough to fall asleep, Kaito goes out onto the roof instead. He sits, looking out at the city. Every so often he think he catches sight of stars shooting across the sky, but they disappear from his vision before he can appreciate them for what they are.

The moon, waning, offers a faint light – but Kaito doesn’t need it, not really. Despite it being evening, Shinjuku is restless, awake and busy. People bustle between theatres, bars and every other establishment designed to dig into the pockets of workers after a long day in the office.

Kaito glances at the roads below. The masses crossing roads, finding their way down the subway to the metro lines. What do they think of KID’s return? People had loved him once, but then he’d been locked away – will they still applaud him even now that they know who he is?

“I was wondering where you were.”

Kaito doesn’t turn. Instead, he steps to the side, offers Shinichi some room to lean against the wall and breathe in the evening air. The other boy had been asleep when he’d come to the roof, exhaustion having dragged him into unconsciousness. Not that Kaito can blame him – Shinichi’s sleep pattern in prison had always been inconsistent, and even after the break out, he’d not slept as long as he could have.

“I should have written a note.”

“You left the door open slightly so you could get back in,” Shinichi says, “so in a way you did.”

Kaito hesitates, decides not to answer. Instead, he watches cars as they move through the streets, tries not to let the police lights burn against his vision. He fails anyway, reds and blues searing his retinas until he has to squeeze his eyes shut and remind himself that he will not be caught.

“I-” Shinichi trails off, “will you be okay tomorrow? With the heist?”

Kaito glances at him, offers a grin. “Quit worrying. We’ve got this far, so quit thinking everything’s going to go wrong.”

Shinichi breaks eye contact. His skin pales and suddenly, Kaito doesn’t know how to describe him. He doesn’t look like the self-assured detective he’d been before his imprisonment. He wears his expressions differently to the prisoner he’d been, back when he’d willingly fought to keep himself safe from other prisoners.

He doesn’t look like the person Kaito’s grown to know. Now, instead of looking confident in himself, or even certain they’ll succeed, he looks almost… scared.

“I should be happy, right?” Shinichi says, and if his voice cracks, neither of them point attention to it. “That things are working out for us. We’re free, we retrieved my case files…”

Kaito glances at him from the side of his eye. His fingers are white from where he’s holding them so tightly.

“I should feel something other than dread.” Shinichi continues, “but I can’t. There’s someone dead, and it’s because we left. Kaito… I don’t know if I can solve this.”

Shinichi shudders. He heaves in a sigh, a deep breath, and suddenly Kaito can see him as he is. Not as a brave detective or a cunning prisoner, but rather as a shattered reflection of Kaito himself, a piece of someone lost to time.

The realisation is jarring. It is an ache, a feeling that spreads through his body like ice, as he realises the depth of just how… hopeless the situation is. But still…

“You will.” Kaito says, voice quiet, yet steeled. Shinichi sends him a doubtful look, so Kaito repeats it. “You will. We’ll find a common link and we’ll track down that stupid organisation. We’ll find the organisation and we’ll tear it down – even if everyone think we’re the bad guys while we’re doing it. That’s what detectives do, isn’t it? They solve things. You are a detective, right?”

Shinichi lets out a shallow breath, a shaky, almost choked sound. He wipes at his face with his sleeve, before turning, making his way towards the exit, back down to the safe house. He stops by the exit, turns back to face Kaito. Then; a nod, the smallest dip of his chin as he mutters, “yeah.”

He leaves Kaito to the city.

Chapter Text

They block off the streets.

Kaito hadn’t thought exactly that they’d block off an entire street, not when KID heists had been so popular, but he supposes that because there’s technically a murder case with his name against suspect, and they want to ensure he doesn’t take any hostages.

Not that Kaito would ever be desperate enough to turn to hostage-taking. It’s messy, and frankly, he doesn’t want to rely on random strangers to help him find Pandora. Or… anyone really, which is why KID is a one-man show.

Shinichi, he’s left back with Hattori and Kazuha. The three of them looking over the more important murder scenes, while Kaito tries to divert the attention of those who are trying to set them up.

The blockade is a mixture of police vans and wooden signs. The signs are manned by two security guards. Two, because the police haven’t forgotten his track record of knocking people unconscious and stealing their identities.

Not even months in prison can make people forget that.

The blockades are a nuisance, but they’re still easy. He’s not too arrogant to forgo them completely, but KID is a phantom and if Kaito needs to get into a museum, then he’s perfectly capable of doing so.

The sky is black, an absence of stars in the night. The light of the waxing moon is shuttered behind clouds, releasing only the smallest hint of light, the city covered in dull shadows. It’s the street lamps, really, that will be a problem when trying to remain unseen.

Okay, Kaito thinks, tugging at the sleeve of his jacket. It’s a deep brown, filters into the shadows better than pure black clothing ever could. Let’s do this.

Which way to go, though? The sound of police choppers above the museum, scouting out the rooftops for him, means that going above will be a bad idea. Too much lighting, and he can’t be arrogant while getting indoors.

They must be expecting him to come from the skies, flying in because of how utterly hopeless it is to come in from the streets. Except… they seem to have forgotten one important key fact.

Magician’s perform magic, and tonight, Kaito will disappear and reappear inside the museum. A good comeback for KID, although he’s not… entirely pleased with the mechanics of how his trick is going to work.

He’s brought a mask, which should help, but he still shudders as he pries open the manhole in the alleyway that’s 100m from the police blockades. The sewers wait below, an overpowering stench meeting his nose before he even reaches it.

Kaito winces, double checks that the backpack he’s bringing is properly sealed, before climbing down to the sewers below. If his information is correct, then there’s a walkway that will lead him the 700m to the manhole just outside the museum’s back entrance.

He tightens the mask he’s brought with him, pulls the straps tighter until it feels like he’s being pinched. Then, he loosens the strap slightly, so that it’s comfortable, but still effective in its use.

“Okay,” Kaito says, once he drops down onto the walkway. He clicks on a small torch, the light dull enough to see where he’s going without creating a bright beam of light, “time to get this show on the road.”


Ran paces.

Aoko watches with uncertainty racing in her mind, wondering whether she should comfort Ran by saying it’s okay, or stand back and let the girl stay in one piece. Comfort is something she needs, but right now, Aoko needs Ran to stay in one piece.

They are, after all, the backup plan that will ensure Kaito and Kudo will stay alive if guns are aimed on them. And as much as Aoko knows Kaito wants to be free, she will gladly throw him back in a prison cell.

But only if it comes to it. If there’s a way to get around it… then she’s going to ensure Kaito doesn’t get murder added to his sentence. Either way, that requires Ran to be strong and comfort takes away that need.

Aoko hopes Ran won’t hate her for that. Instead, she stands from her seat and offers the only comfort she can.

“Ran-chan,” Aoko says, and it’s quiet, just loud enough to pull the other girl’s attention from her own thoughts, “will you help Aoko tighten this?”

Ran turns, glances down as Aoko points at the vest they’ve been ordered to wear during the heist. The other girl flinches, but moves forwards, hands trembling as she tightens the edges, so that the vest is snug. It’s more of a reminder of what’s to come next, than a comfort, Aoko supposes.

“You’re so calm,” Ran says after a second, once she steps away. “I wish I could be, but I’m just so worried.”

Aoko glances in through the doors to the room where the diamond is being held. She bites into her cheek, wonders how Kaito expects to get past the guards without getting caught in the crossfire, before realising that this is Kaito, he has always been good at evading capture.

Except for the time he was caught, her mind supplies, rather unhelpfully, forcing a shudder to slither down her spine.

“It’s okay,” Aoko says, “Aoko’s been to heists before, she’s used to them now.”

Ran’s lips tighten, as she wraps her hands around her stomach, hugging herself with an anxiety that makes even Aoko feel nervous. From the way she turns her head, a sudden sharp movement, it’s clear to see that this isn’t quite what she means.

“I suppose,” Ran says finally, biting into her lip, “it’s just… they’re not usually this dangerous, are they?”

Aoko isn’t sure. There have been several heists where KID was left slightly injured, now that she thinks more on it. Especially his last, where shackles had dug into wrists, bruises had littered his skin where he’d fallen.

Still, as far as Aoko knows, there hadn’t been any guns.

“Not normally,” she agrees, “but they’re only a last resort.”

Ran pales, “don’t the police usually have to use every resort to try and catch KID?”

Aoko hums, turns her back on Ran so that the other girl can’t see the worried expression that she’s trying to hide. It’s Kaito’s decision, yes, but it’s also a stupid one – mainly because Ran’s right. The KID taskforce have had to use every trick up their sleeves to catch Kaito, and if they’ve got the clearance to add guns, then… then, they will.

She wonders whether her father will shoot.

Aoko wonders whether she’ll hate him if he does.

“They’ve had a hard time catching just Kaito,” Aoko says after a second, “with a detective on his side, they’ll have more time to plan.”

Not just one detective either – two. Both Kudo and Hattori. Aoko’s not sure whether Kaito will bring the detective’s in on much of his plan, but he would listen to their ideas, coming up with counters to whatever ideas they’d come up with to stop him.

“And anyway,” Aoko says, “KID’s pretty solitary, I doubt he’d let Kudo-kun show up and put his escape plan at risk.”


“Hey,” Kudo says, dragging Heiji’s attention from the file he’s looking at. He’s brought as many files as possible from the previous cases, whatever he can manage to convince Megure to take photocopies of, and is now sat catching up on the murders he’s looked into before, “look at this.”

The Tokyoite has been sat scanning over the crime scene for half an hour now, looking between the official crime scenes, the pictures Heiji’s taken himself, and the photographs that have been sent to him.

Heiji glances over, realises he can’t see well enough, and begrudgingly pulls himself out of his chair, stepping around the table to look at the pictures over Kudo’s shoulder. He asks, “what is it?”

Kudo points his fingers towards the photographs. The two crime scene photos are absent of Numabuchi’s corpse, while the sent message has the body still pinned up.

“Doesn’t the blood around where his shoulders would have been look a little wetter in the newer pictures?” He asks.

Weird. The Nakamori girl had pointed out the same thing.

“Yeah,” Heiji says, “what abou’ it?”

“Well,” Kudo says, and he leans closer, looking more in depth at the picture that’s been sent to him, “it had to be placed there after they strung Numabuchi up, right? To cover something up – that’s what I was thinking to begin with.”

Heiji nods, “well yeah, th’ killer must a wanted t’ hide somethin’ right?”

“Maybe,” Kudo says, “or, they wanted to cover up the fact that they’ve taken something away.”

For a moment, Heiji is silent, and then his gaze flickers towards the final photograph, looking at the area behind Numabuchi’s shoulders. There… he needs to squint to see it, but soon he can see what Kudo was talking about.

“There’s somethin’ there,” he says, pointing his finger towards a flash of silver peeking just from above the corpse’s collarbone.

“Exactly,” Kudo says. He nods his head with a sharp, sudden movement. “It looks almost like a sticker. So I started looking into the other pictures on my phone, and there’s always at least a small hint of silver peeking from behind the bodies.”

The air is stagnant, tense with what exactly this means.

“They’ve been playing with you since the beginning,” Heiji says, almost regretful. Fire ignites in him as he realises, whatever organisation Kudo’s been fighting against has only been toying with him this entire time – God, who exactly are they up against?

“They’re playing with us,” Kudo says after a moment, turning to him with bright eyes, “but the thing about games is that they can easily be skewed in your favour, if you know the rules.”

Heiji runs a hand through his hair, sits in the seat beside Kudo at the table. He says, “we don’t know the rules.”

“So we create them,” Kudo says. He lifts the pictures they’ve printed from the phone messages, lays them out on the table, leaning forward to grab one of the abandoned notepads they’ve been writing notes down in.

“First, starting with this,” Kudo says, drawing a rectangle onto the page, “we figure out what that sticker looks like.”

Heiji nods, “okay.”


The moment Kaito pushes the manhole open, he feels a familiar jolt of excitement. It’s the same feeling that spreads through his veins every time something dangerous happens, the same rush of euphoria he’d felt when he’d broken into the police station with Shinichi by his side.

Climbing back out into the night, the air crisp against his clothing, he removes his gas mask just long enough to take in a breath of fresh air. Then, he puts it back on, places his hood up and makes his way towards one of the entrances.

He uses the vents often, so he decides that it’s going to be on the lists of the task force. And Kaito can hardly climb the walls without being seen, so he decides it’s probably better if he goes in through one back entrances.

Or… well, a window would work too, but he doesn’t want to risk breaking one or leaving an open route that will lead the task force toward the manhole he’s climbed out of. Now, he closes it, leaves it behind as an exit if his other plans fail.

They shouldn’t fail, but he really isn’t sure. Some detectives have a way of surprising him when he least expects it, and they’re… well… he doesn’t want arrogance to walk him right back into a prison cell.

He moves forward, the wind guiding him forward, whispering the location of guards in his ear. Every few seconds it nips, sending a rush of cold against his skin, reminding him to stay focused.

It is times like this that Kaito wishes he could wrap himself up in the wind, live beneath moonlight forever. He wonders if his father had felt the same, wonders whether he enjoys this because he’s KID, or because he’s Kaito.

He isn’t sure – now isn’t the time to think about it anyway.

“This way,” he mutters to himself, cutting through the hedges and dropping down to his feet at the faint sound of footsteps. The hedges scratch against his hands, the feeling reminding him to push his gloves onto his hands.

It’s not like he really needs to hide his fingerprints, but at this point it’s practically tradition. One of the many things he’d done before heists to make sure everything had gone well. Maybe it’s superstitious, but he’ll take whatever he can get.

The footsteps get nearer, and Kaito shuffles forward on his arms to get a faint view of the pathway between the hedges and the museum. There’s a ventilation shaft across from him – and yes, maybe he doesn’t want to rely on them, but if he’s remembering the building plans correctly, this one leads down to the basement.

Into a furnace.

A furnace that’s been out of commission for almost fifty years, since the museum has been refurnished, changing over to a central heating system. Kaito rakes his thoughts, asks himself if there’d been any particular reason he’d not entered the museum that way, during his last attempted heist.

Oh!

The door had been stiff. When he’d faked maintenance work for his previous heist, it hadn’t been favourable, mainly because he’d wanted to hide his entrance, and the layer of dust in the sliding door had made it difficult to be inconspicuous.

After breaking out of prison, and breaking in to a police station, Kaito isn’t so worried about a bit of disrupted dust. Instead, he starts thinking about how quickly he can undo the vent and how he’s going to navigate the fall without any concrete knowledge of what he’ll be falling onto.

It a risk, yes, but it’s also one of his best shots.

The footsteps fade away, and in that moment, Kaito scurries forward, towards the vents. It takes time, but after a few minutes, he’s undone the vent, and is climbing through. He doesn’t want to fall, not unless it’s a controlled descent.

“Okay,” Kaito says, the sound echoing down the vent, causing him to wince. “Time to do this.”

He places the main vent back on, keeps it loose so that he can push it off from the inside when he gets ready to leave, before readying himself for a fall.

Kaito checks his watch, realises that he’s still got fifteen minutes until his heist begins, and crawls deeper into the vent. Darkness awaits him, but this time, he doesn’t let gravity drag him down. He climbs down, his back arched against one end of the vent, his feet on the other, almost as if he is walking down the metal.

By the time he’s out of the vent, Kaito only has ten minutes left.

Ten minutes to get to the other end of the museum.

He’s played worse odds than that before.


Kazuha is the one who finally pieces the logo together.

Heiji isn’t surprised, she’s always been good at remembering brands and logos, spends enough time on social media and her phone to have seen and practically remembered it all. Sometimes, her random phone browsing comes in handy.

“You have?” Kudo says, glancing up. His eyebrows are furrowed, worried at the concept of narrowing down on the sticker so quickly. Suspicious, as if it shouldn’t be this easy. Heiji thinks that the other detective just hasn’t accepted that his organisation wants him to figure out the logo on this sticker.

Something meant for only Kudo’s eyes… Heiji’s curious himself, about what it could be.

“I think so,” Kazuha says, and her voice wavers, uncertain. “From th’ bits we’ve been able to draw ou’ from th’ picture messages, there’s only so many tha’ it could be. And most o’ ‘em don’t seem suspicious, except for this one.”

She places her phone in between the two boys, stealing their attention without even batting an eye. Heiji tears his eyes to the logo and barely manages not to flinch. Kudo however, reels back as if he’s been burned.

“I don’t know for certain yet–”

“It’s them,” Kudo says, steel in his voice. He leans forward, lips pressed in a tight line, finger nails reaching up to his throat, scratching against skin. Heiji contemplates stopping him, but the other boy doesn’t look like he’s digging too deeply into skin, and Heiji doesn’t want to take away one of the coping strategies Kudo has developed. “Of course, it’s them, they’re trying to be funny.”

Heiji glances down at the logo again.

A sign broadcasting a chain of liqueur stores across Japan. With the knowledge of what Kudo already knows about the members of the organisation… their codenames being that of various alcohols, it just seems like taunt, a reminder of how much he doesn’t know.

“Those bastards,” Heiji hisses, poison spitting from his voice. “They’re just messing around with you–”

“Maybe it seems that way,” Kudo says, an eerie calm settling into his bones, “but this is worth more than they think. Kazuha, can you search the chain online?”

Kazuha nods.

Heiji has to resist the temptation to pull out his own phone, clicking onto news related to the current KID heist, just to check in on how Kuroba’s fairing. However, as far as he knows, the media have been denied any access to the scene, leaving the news reports lacking, due to the absence of reliable sources.

“Okay,” Kazuha says after a moment, pausing only to ensure both boys are looking at her. “there’s a lot o’ information about th’ business an’ its history. There’s th’ main site, but tha’ doesn’t seem like it’ll help much… hey, no wait.”

Heiji waits.

Kudo continues to scratch at his neck.

“There’s a news article dated from this mornin’.” Kazuha says – there’s a pause as she clicks on the link, opening it up. “Wait… this can’t be a coincidence, listen t’ this, ‘company offers group of security guards in response to announced Kaitou KID heist.’”

Kudo freezes. Beside him, Heiji shudders, holding his hand out for Kazuha to pass him her phone, so he can read the rest of the article. She passes it over without a word, leaving Heiji to scroll up and read for himself.

The recent police announcement that Kaitou KID (Revealed last year to be school student Kuroba Kaito) is on the run, having announced another heist, has brought anxiety to the streets of Tokyo.

In light of this anxiety, and the knowledge of recent cuts to policing, chain store Yamaya Dogenzaka, has offered a small group of volunteers from the branch’s main team of security officers.

There’s more, but Heiji pushes the phone away before he can read any more. The timing of these seems wrong, like there’s some ulterior motive in giving resources to the police. It all seems… wrong. Like a corruption that runs deeper than they’d originally thought.

“Shit…” Kudo mutters once he’s read through it himself, “it’s a ploy. They want access to the heist.”

Heiji runs a hand through his hair, tugs at the ends as he stands up. He moans, “Oh God.”

“…What?” Kazuha says, pocketing her phone. She’s paled, although it’s more from the atmosphere and from clarity. “What am I missin’?”

Heiji glances at her, feels his intestines wrap around his stomach, twisting, churning his stomach acid. A feeling of sickness wraps around him, tearing him apart.

Kudo is the one who answers. There’s a calm to him that Heiji’s not seen in a while, back before he’d allowed himself to show vulnerability, during their many meetings within the prison. A defence, to keep himself from breaking apart.

“The police have signed off on the use of weapons,” the boy whispers, “and the organisation is going to take advantage of that. They’re going to kill…”

Heiji pushes away from the table, bites into the side of his mouth with enough force that he tastes blood. He swallows, tongue tasting only the copper tang of blood, before saying, “I need to warn him.”

“You can’t,” Kudo says, and it’s aggravating, watching him remain cool when there’s such a risk, such weight weighing down on them – they’re already responsible for one death, due to their misguided actions, but they can at least offer help to Kuroba…

“We’ve got to!” Kazuha says, jumping to his aid. They’re a good team, Heiji thinks, have always been good at backing one another up. “If he’s at risk of dying we need to make sure he doesn’t–”

“You two can’t go,” Kudo says. There a harsh edge to his voice, a sternness that shows that this won’t be debated. “I’ll go.”

“They’ll kill you too!”

“Maybe,” Kudo says, pushing away from the table himself, “but suppose you do go and warn him. Firstly, you’d be announcing that you’re working with KID and helped us, which will ruin your life and effect the careers of both of your father’s. Secondly, you’d be announcing to the organisation that you know.

Heiji freezes. He’s always been the irrational sort, but faced with the logic almost makes him sit back down. There’s too much risk, yes, but the loss of another life… adding an additional risk by putting Kudo’s own life on the line…

“Kudo… they’ll sooner shoot you than him.” Heiji says, a tremor to his voice. Usually, he’s calmer but this… this isn’t right, it shouldn’t… they shouldn’t have to worry about things like this.

“I know,” Kudo says, grabbing his jacket from one of the abandoned chairs and slipping both arms into it. After he’s buttoned it, he throws on a cap, covering his face as he pulls it down. “But someone’s got to warn him.”

“Shinichi-kun,” Kazuha says, “don’t–”

“It’s okay,” Kudo says, “I’m going to solve this case, even if it kills me.”


There are lists – so many lists that Saguru feels himself drowning in a sea of names, searching for a common link between Kudo’s case files and people who’d immediately been informed about the prison break.

The list is exhaustive. Police officers who’d worked the case alongside Saguru and Kudo last year, the police commissioners who’d overlooked it. It’s not even central to just the Tokyo branches, seeing as the prison had been forced to inform other cities and ensure everyone was on the lookout.

Compared to finding any suspicious names, Ran’s task of finding Kudo and Kuroba themselves seems easy. At least she’s got an announced location, something to work with. All Saguru has is a list of names.

Wait…

He turns on his laptop, waits for it to load.

How efficient are his hacking skills again…? Saguru doesn’t use them for cases, because it’s a blatant insult to professionalism, and solving things in the correctmanner, but he does know the mechanics. He’s always been interested in codes, in numbers, in binary and the way different variations of ones and zeroes melt together to create something more.

And yet… Can he really figure out this case with the same professionalism and law-abiding as he usually does?

Saguru doesn’t think so.

Not if he’s suspecting the people who appear on both lists. If they can’t trust the people there, if Kudo is being framed, then he can’t let anyone know he’s investigating them. He can’t ask for the third list he wants.

Instead, he’ll need to get it himself.

It’ll take time – hacking always does, and he briefly considers requesting Baaya to bring a cup of coffee upstairs. He decides not to, she’ll ask questions, and Saguru doesn’t want to implicate her.

“Is this what Kudo was feeling…?” Saguru mutters to himself, “the last time we spoke…?”

He isn’t sure. Maybe one day he’ll ask him, for now, he just needs to find the third list. Needs to find the people who’d been briefed about the trip to retrieve the hidden bodies Numabuchi had promised the locations of.

Saguru takes a deep breath, winces.

And proceeds to hack into confidential police files.


Kaito is halfway down the hall, sticking to the shadows, when something catches his eye. Aoko.

She’d said she’d see him at the heist, and yet she’s nowhere near the jewel room, has wandered off on her own. Her hair is pulled back in a ponytail, something that seems almost foreign on her face, not that Kaito can judge her for it.

She turns, looks up and down the corridor, before continuing.

Kaito glances at his watch – there’s still seven minutes until the heist begins – and steps forward, grabbing her wrist and pulling her back into the shadows with him. She lets out a small squeak, eyes wide as she looks up at him.

“Kaito,” Aoko says, and there’s a seriousness in her voice, a worry that Kaito doesn’t like hearing from her mouth, “I’ve been looking for you.”

The lack of any illeism is haunting as well, Kaito has to resist a shudder.

“It’s a good thing I found you first,” Kaito says, glancing at her, “because else you wouldn’t have found me at all.”

Aoko frowns. Then, she reaches down to her jacket, tugs at the zip until she’s shrugging it off. Kaito’s response is a half-hearted laugh.

“Oh, Aoko, we really don’t have the time.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Aoko says, “they’ve got guns in there, okay? And I doubt you’ve got a vest that’ll make sure you don’t die. So… Take mine.”

Kaito pauses. He’d gathered there’d be guns, it’s customary with police officers, they’re issued them, but to hear that they’ve got orders to… to shoot. The thought fills him with dread – he needs that vest.

But… Aoko needs it too.

It must shine through the mask he’s wearing, that he doesn’t want to steal away the safety net she’s been given, that he doesn’t want to be the one to put her in harm’s way, because Aoko puts a hand on his and squeezes.

“They’ll be shooting at you,” Aoko says, dropping her hand to fiddle with the clips by her side, “not at me. So take it.”

Kaito doesn’t move.

“Aoko wants you to,” she says finally, when he meets her eyes, offering him the brightest smile she can. It’s faked, of course it is, Kaito can read her better than he can read himself, but there’s a determination there too.

“…You’re sure?” Aoko nods, “…okay then.”

She lifts it from her body, passes it over to Kaito, who changes within seconds. He has to tug a few straps loose, tightening other before he clips it back up. Then, he throws his shirt back on over it, and the jacket he’d been wearing. Too many layers should leave him overheating, and yet, all Kaito can feel is the cold.

“It’s still not too late to back out of this,” Aoko says. The terrible thing is that she means it. She’s willing to ensure he isn’t killed if he wants to carry his plan out, but she’s also dreading his decision.

Kaito feels guilty for worrying her. He almost wishes it were months ago, back when she’d cheered on the police catching KID, before she knew it was him. Now, she’s urging him not to show up.

“I’m going to get the gemstone,” Kaito says, and he places both hands on her shoulders, presses his lips against her forehead, “and then I’m going to figure this whole mess out. Wait for me?”

Aoko looks at him. She shakes her head.

“You think I’m going to wait?” Aoko says, brushing his hands from her shoulders and turning to put her jacket back on. “No, I’m going to be in there with you.”

“Aoko–”

“I’m involved now,” Aoko says, “I have been since the day I found out you were KID…” Another fake smile. “Don’t worry though, Aoko’s going to make sure Kaito doesn’t get himself caught again.”

Kaito bites his lip, nods. Then, he turns, looking towards the corridor where the Cullinan diamond awaits him. Aoko walks past him without another glance.

“Thanks,” Kaito whispers.

The only sign that she hears him, is the faintest twitch of her fingers.


Aoko has to force herself to keep looking forwards.

She can feel Kaito’s presence behind her, for all of thirty seconds, where he deviates, making his way towards his own entrance. It’s almost scary how vulnerable she feels once he’s gone, a feeling of loss overpowering her as she keeps pacing towards the exhibit room where the gemstone is on display.

No… it’s not a feeling of loss… it’s terror.

Aoko isn’t doesn’t like the absence because it means she can’t keep Kaito out of trouble. Yes, he might have gotten this far by himself, but she remembers new scars getting added to an ever-growing list, remembers uncertainty weighing down on her shoulders when she’d been unable to help him.

Now, she has to return to a room filled with suspicious police officers, with her father, and attempt to keep Kaito alive while ensuring they don’t catch on. Is it even possible?

Well, even if it’s not, how hard will it be to create her own miracle?

Kaito’s done it time and time before – if he can do it, Aoko can too.

“Where’s Ran-chan?” Aoko asks, after she lets her father pinch her cheeks, double-checking that her identity is her own. “I can’t see her anywhere.”

Her father glances around the room, hardly seems to hear her question. Aoko asks again, breathes out a sigh as she realises this is their usual routine.

“Oh, the Mouri girl?” He answers after a pause, “she went out to find you, after you left a little while ago. Isn’t she back yet… Where did you go anyway?”

Aoko lets nervousness creep into her voice, just a tiny amount. She said, “I went to the bathroom?”

“Next time,” her father continues, “take someone with you. You can’t go anywhere by yourself at KID heists.”

“Kaito’s hardly going to take Aoko’s identity while she’s using the bathroom,” Aoko says, crossing her arms. “He’s not that perverted.”

Her father sighs, rubs at the bridge of his nose, “I don’t know what he’s capable of anymore… Aoko… Things aren’t looking good for him right now.”

Aoko knows.

She glances down at her watch, waits for the second hand to reach 12.

“Yeah,” she says, “Aoko thinks that a lot of things aren’t going the way he’d hoped they would.”

Seconds tick, until finally she lets her hand drop. The clock reaches 11pm.

“Look at that,” Aoko mutters, “it’s showtime.”


At this rate, they’re both going to miss the heist.

Ran doesn’t know what way she’s searching, or if she’s already looked down this corridor, but she keeps going anyway. She needs to find Aoko, so that she can have the other girl help her track down KID.

A quick glance at her phone shows that the heist has already begun.

What should she do – Ran needs Aoko’s help… but she needs to talk to KID and Shinichi more. Aoko knows what way she needs to go to get back, surely, it’s fine to wait nearby the gem.

Yes, she should. That’s the best plan of action she can take right now. After all, she’s got people relying on her, and Ran can’t let them down. She needs to prove Shinichi’s innocence, somehow, and she needs to find a way to help Saguru solve the strain of murders.

She’s not much of a detective, but she can do this.

Ran pivots, hurries back up the corridor she’s just walked down, turns around the corner with such speed that she doesn’t exactly look where she’s going. And she bumps straight into one of the police officers.

“I’m sorry,” she says, not quite looking as she continues.

Then, she pauses – because that wasn’t a police officer. She knows that small breathless tone, has heard it every time she’s accidentally bumped into it growing up.

Ran turns and stares.

Shinichi stares back.

“No,” Ran says, although she’s delighted to see him. Paranoia and panic crash into her, both tsunami’s that she can’t protect herself against. It feels almost as if she can’t breathe – a panic attack, possibly, except… Ran hasn’t had one of those in years. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“Ran,” Shinichi says. And despite the fact that he’s not supposed to be here, despite the fact that being in a place like this is practically going to end in his own recapture, Ran races forwards and wraps her arms around him.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” Ran mutters into his shoulder, before pulling back, “you could die.”

“I know,” Shinichi says, and his hands grip around her wrists, a movement Ran mimics almost unconsciously. “But Kaito – uh… KID – doesn’t know that, and I need to warn him.”

“The police want you more than they want him,” Ran whispers, and she stares up at him, a tremor to her lips as she attempts not to cry. She’s always been emotional, it shouldn’t be a surprise that every feeling running through her is overpowering, each feeling tearing into her with such ferocity that she doesn’t know how to feel.

“It’s not the police shooting that I’m worried about,” Shinichi says, and then, pauses, offering her one of his awkward smiles. He doesn’t comment on it any further, and Ran knows that unless she prompts him, he’ll leave it as it is.

“The people who framed you,” Ran says, “is it them?”

His lack of an answer is enough.

“I’ll find a way to tell him then,” Ran says, “just. Please, leave before you get into trouble… or… or stay here, and I’ll come back. We can figure this all out together, okay? You don’t need to put yourself in danger to help save someone else.”

Shinichi winces.

“I’m already in danger,” he says, “I can’t put you in danger too, Ran. I…”

She understands. It doesn’t mean she’s got to approve of his decision.

“Okay,” Ran says, “but… come back okay. Because – because I owe you an apology okay? And I want to give it to you properly.”

Shinichi gives her a look, a mixture of confusion and sadness. He probably thinks that he’s the one who needs to apologise. What an idiot.

“Because I lied to you,” Ran says, and she grabs onto his hands, pulls him closer so she’s peering up at him, “I lied. Because I’ll never be able to give up on you. Do you understand?”

Shinichi shudders, glances in the direction of the doorway.

Then, he turns back to Ran, his lips set, eyes narrowed with a plan forming in his mind. He hesitates, waits until Ran offers him a nod and asks,

“Will you help me?”

Chapter Text

Showtime begins thirty seconds later than Kaito had originally planned.

It’s not as unnerving as Kaito had expected it to be. Instead, as he glances down at the room below, it’s confines holding familiar faces with unfamiliar weaponry, Kaito can’t help but feel a wave of calm rush through him. It starts with a warmth that spreads down his back, out into his limbs.

He can do this.

He’s certain of it.

The thirty seconds is all part of a waiting game – showing up later than expected had ruined any chances of watching the KID task force go about their usual patrols, has made in impossible to do anything but go in blind.

Not that Kaito’s too worried about that, all he needs is a smooth entrance and he’ll be in possession of the diamond within seconds. It’s titillating, how his heart is pounding against his rib cage, excitement leaving him breathless.

“Not too long now,” Kaito says, gaze glancing between each of the KID task force. He takes a moment to analyse their body language, to see which leg seems tenser than the other – any clues into which leg has a holster on it.

He draws maps in his mind, biting on his lip as he shades out any areas which have immediate sight from the task force. The entire room is shaded out – which means he’s going to have to create a diversion.

Okay. Fine by him. Kaito’s always loved a good distraction.

It’s why he’d become a magician in the first place.

“Distraction,” Kaito mouths now, bringing himself up on his elbows and wiggling until there’s enough space for him to access his pockets. He’s got some ideas, although he’s pretty certain the task force won’t be so easily distracted as they had been in the past.

That had been back before they’d been chasing a supposed murderer – the stakes are too high to simply mess around.

Kaito’s hand moves past the gas mask he’d worn previously, something he pulls out now, placing it on the grate in front of him so he can push his hand further into his pocket. He needs to push up on one of his elbows, but eventually, he grabs what he needs.

Four cannisters, the one’s he’d seen Hattori eyeing when he’d been preparing for the heist. They’re hollow, gas inside them begging to be escaped, but he doesn’t dare break them open yet. Instead, he takes a few seconds to adjust his view, crawls nearer to the grate of the vent – the fall will be nothing worth worrying about provided he lands correctly – and takes a deep breath.

“It’s show time,” Kaito says, as if this is like every other heist. “Time to get that diamond.”

He places one gloved hand against the grate, blinks when the movement brings dust up at him, before testing the metals resistance. It’s an old grate, and he’s already removed the screws, so there’s only a small groan as the metal pries off.

Not enough sound.

Kaito needs more – he pushes the grate off, fully. And waits.

And as he’s waiting for the grate to clatter against the marble flooring, he pulls out the phone he’d grabbed on his way to the heist, pulling up a prepared playlist.

The grate crashes against the floor just as he presses play – the first track, scheduled for only thirty seconds, is silence.

“What’s that-”

“It’s the grate.”

“Should have known he’d come in through the ventilation,” Inspector Nakamori’s gruff voice almost catches Kaito off guard, but he pushes forward despite it. He’s gained more than he deserves with Aoko’s forgiveness, he doesn’t deserve her fathers too. “KID’s up to his usual tricks.”

There’s almost relief there.

As Kaito grabs hold of the cannisters, he tells himself not to feel guilty at the prospect of removing the relief in the man’s voice. He pockets them in his outer pockets, fingers wrapping around the gas mask for later use.

“Why hello there, Inspector,” Kaito calls, pulling himself from the vent and allowing himself to drop. He rolls to his feet, glancing at all of the guards that stiffen at the very sight of him. “It’s been a while.”

The sight of Nakamori Ginzo is as jarring as hearing his voice. Kaito swallows, adjusts his top hat. He forces himself to wear the widest smile he can afford. It only takes a second before Inspector Nakamori has his gun out of it’s holster, the metal aimed straight at him.

For a moment, Kaito feels panic well in his chest. It entraps him, for a millisecond, before he can disassociate the fact that his once father figure is pointing a gun at him. The panic transforms into something else, an ugly sort of emotion that Kaito just knows will leave some sort of stain on his very being.

“What’re you doing here Kaito?” Nakamori asks. The man is terse, not that Kaito can blame him. Beside him, Aoko lets out the faintest sigh, worried, but doing her best to keep it from showing. Even with the vest, Kaito knows her anxieties are going to be at levels he won’t be able to wave off.

“Isn’t it obvious,” Kaito responds, and there – he can hear it, the second track from the phone playing, a subtle change from the silence, only noticeable if pointed out. “I’m robbing the place.”

“Right,” Nakamori says, his voice dry.

“I did in fact, leave a note,” Kaito says, tone flippant. He moves his hands towards his hands – an open move, one that’ll spring the heist into motion. “I’m certain you found it, else you wouldn’t be here.”

The inspector takes a step forward, levels the gun. “Hands up, this isn’t a conversation, it’s an arrest.”

Kaito cocks his head, “okay. If you want me too.”

He raises his hands up. Nakamori nods towards one of his team members to handcuff him, send him back, and Kaito would rather die than go back.

Boom.

Track three of his playlist. The sound vibrates against the vent, ricocheting like a bullet only with far more damage. For a second, there’s confusion: The sound is too loud, migraine inducing, and Kaito uses it to his advantage. His hands reach down into his pockets, fingers tightening around the cannisters that he throws to each version of the room.

“What’s a show without a little music inspector?” Kaito calls, voice almost swallowed by the music, as he lifts his top hat, retrieving the gas mask from inside.

He manages to pull it on, just in time to shield himself from the smoke that explodes into the room.


“Will you help me?”

Ran surges forward, glances at Shinichi with every inch of emotion she can muster and says, “what do you need me to do?”

For a second, there’s silence. They don’t have much time, Ran knows, but even still she can’t find it in her to force him to hurry. She should, Ran knows she should, but it’s impossible. How can she, when she’s struggling to think of what she could possibly do to aid Shinichi?

After a few seconds, Shinichi nods his head. He bites into his lip and offers her the faintest outline of a smile. He says, “we need to find a way to evacuate the building, without them thinking it’s part of Kaito’s heist.”

Ran bites her lip. Thinks of all the provisions the Inspectors had told her about, the things they’d brought to ensure nothing go wrong. She says, “I’m pretty sure that’s impossible, the task force expected KID might force an evacuation, so they made counter plans against it.”

Shinichi places his hand on his neck, digs his nails into the scabs that reside atop of the skin and frowns. “Any alarms pulled would go ignored then.”

“And the fire services are waiting outside just in case fire was to break out.” Ran adds. She doesn’t mention the ambulance waiting outside either, but surely Shinichi would have anticipated one – what with guns being authorised.

“Damn,” Shinichi mutters, “it sounds as if they’re not going to leave for anything less than a bomb…”

Ran really hopes he doesn’t suggest they build a bomb.

“what if,” Shinichi breathes, scratching deeper into his throat now, “instead of getting everyone out, we get all the people from outside in?”

The idea of bringing more law enforcement officials into the building to hunt them down brings Ran nothing but anxiety. Surely Shinichi can’t be suggesting they make it harder to remain anonymous that it already is.

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s perfect,” Shinichi says next, lips widening into a smile. He drops his hand, glances at Ran with blood staining his neck and joy brightening his eyes and says, “the more busy the place is, the less likely a sniper’s going to shoot.”

Ran pales at the word sniper, feels nausea creeping up her throat.

“Sniper?”

“Yeah,” Shinichi says, “no one’s going to risk taking a shot that’s not clear – even them, because it’ll raise more questions than they can answer. So if we can make the exhibit room busier, Kaito should be safer.”

Ran bites her lip, uncertain. She says, “but wouldn’t that get him caught? And you, Shinichi you can’t afford to get caught. You’ll die.”

His expression darkens, “if Kaito’s killed because of something I dragged him into, I should get caught. Either way, I can break him out of a cell if he’s caught, I can’t bring him back to life.”

Ran muses over it, takes time to think it through and yet it still tastes bitter on her tongue. The idea of anyone being caught or – god forbid, killed – leaves bile in her throat and yet if it had to be either of the two…

“Okay,” she says, “we’ll bring as many people in as we can. But… but you leave here in one piece and without chains, do you understand me?”

Shinichi leans forward, traps her hand in his. As he offers a strained smile, he squeezes, the lightest comfort, the most he can afford to give. “I understand.”


Aoko is certain it’s going to be another smoke bomb, like the ones Kaito’s used in the past. It’s not. The gas is smoky, yes, but not coloured like KIDs usual bombs. It sends alarm signals rushing through Aoko’s brain.

She closes her eyes, lifts a hand up to her mouth to use it as a filter, but it’s hardly efficient.

She still feels water welling in her eyes, her throat growing scratchy with every breath. Her father had said Kaito was the same old KID – but Aoko knows that’s not true. There’s an element that’s changed, more reckless maybe, or simply more determined.

Aoko’s not sure.

The only thing she’s sure is that KID’s brought tear gas to the heist. And that he’s using every opportunity to taunt her father.

Why?

Is there a point in taunting her father, getting him to keep track of his position through it all? Isn’t KID supposed to be inconspicuous, at least some of the time, drawing attention away from him during his illusions and tricks.

There has to be a second motive, Aoko just doesn’t know what it is yet.

“Turn on the fans,” her father shouts, authority dripping from his throat. It’s hoarse, already affected by the gas. After watching him aim his police issued handgun - .45 calibre, her mind supplies, rather unhelpfully – she can’t help but feel as though he deserves it.

Just a little bit.

“They’ll wash this smoke out pretty quickly KID,” her father shouts, and as the music, such horribly loud music, finally dies down, she can hear his footsteps echoing within the exhibit room.

Aoko bites into her lip – if all goes well, surely Kaito will use this time to steal away. Get away before anything else can happen.

“Aoko,” it’s a whisper from beside her, from someone who really needs to leave. “I need a favour.”

“Aoko’s all out of favours,” she whispers back, trying to keep her voice steady. And then: “tear gas was a foul move.”

“So are guns,” Kaito says, and there’s a darkness to his voice that hurts, just a little bit. “But that doesn’t matter, this favour does.”

Turning to him, and squinting through her own smoke-borne tears, Aoko finds herself struggling not to frown. Helping KID had never been part of the deal she’d found in her head – but helping Kaito had. If she helps… she’s inadvertently breaking the line she’s fit between the two.

What a situation he’s put her in.

“Tell me the plan.”


Miyano Akemi likes to think of herself as an opportunist.

Her sister, Shiho, tends to think of her as a little reckless. That’s okay though, because as long as it’s not the younger of the two sisters being reckless, Akemi is perfectly happy to continue with things the way they are.

Or rather – to continue with their dynamic as sisters. There’s a lot she’d like to change lifestyle wise.

“Okay,” Akemi mutters to herself, hands brushing against the bun she’s pinned up, lowering the hat she’s wearing to cover her face, “this is about to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, or the smartest.”

She hopes it’s the smartest.

Taking a step forwards, she pushes past the crowd of civilians piling around the blockades for any sight of KID, heading towards the police. Taking a deep breath, she forces herself out of the crowd, glancing at the police officers lining the patrol.

“The task force called for more outside patrols,” she says, pulling out the fake police badge Shiho had made for her. “Can I get through?”

“…only the assigned personnel are allowed,” says one of the officers. Akemi forces herself to remain serious, to avoid pouting at the refusal. “It was in the briefing.”

“Wasn’t it also in the briefing,” Akemi says, crossing her arms over her chest attempting to look fed up, “that the inspector in charge of this case can assign detectives, as he sees fit.”

She’s hoping that whoever’s in charge had in fact said something along those lines, because else she’s going to be completely screwed.

“Well yes but–”

“Now if you wouldn’t mind doing your check to ensure I’m not KID, then we can move on and let me do my job.”

She gets two pinched cheeks, pulled at with enough strength it leaves her cheeks stinging, but Akemi finds herself walking past the blockades without any other question.  

“That’s the easy part over,” Akemi mumbles, pulling down on the hat again, paranoia overwhelming her system as she forces herself to keep walking forward. “Now I’ve got to find Kaitou KID. Or better yet, Kudo Shinichi.”


Ran bites into her lip, quickens her pace as she races down the corridor with Shinichi. Part of her wants to grab his hand and drag him away, never let go and just leave all of this behind, but she can’t.

Instead, she keeps herself focused on the moment, eyes glancing towards every camera they pass – later, she’ll be convincing, explain it was just another police officer she’d been working with, but for now…

“Shinichi,” Ran says as they reach the stair well, after they’ve passed one of the guards without gaining so much as a second look. It’s currently heist time after all, everyone’s anticipating KID’s movements that they aren’t anticipating theirs.“You need to leave.”

He almost trips at the words, catches onto the bannister before turning to look at her. His expression is nothing short of hurt. Offended that she’d even consider making him stop halfway.

“Ran–”

“Trust me when I say, you shouldn’t be here.” Ran glances towards the corners of the staircase. There aren’t any cameras, so she takes the opportunity to cup his cheek in her hands, staring him in the eyes. “You should be running from here. I’ll get people flooding the halls, but you need to go first.”

Shinichi tries to pull back, but Ran won’t let him. Instead, she drags him towards her, rests her forehead on his.

“Do you have any idea, how much it breaks me to tell you to leave?” Ran asks. Her voice shudders, as if she’s been standing out in the cold for hours. Like it had broken when she’d first been informed of what Shinichi had supposedly done.

Shinichi lifts his hands, pulls on Ran’s wrists until she lowers them. “Kaito needs to live, I need to make sure he gets out of this alive.”

“He won’t die,” Ran promises, “I’ll get so many people inside the building that no one would risk firing their gun. You just need to trust me.”

He opens his mouth to complain, but she won’t allow him the words. Ran’s known Shinichi long enough to know that as soon as he gains a little headway with something, his stubbornness won’t allow him to let things go.

“Do you trust me?”

“Ran,” he glances away, doesn’t meet her eye, “it’s not about trust. It’s about what’s right.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Ran whispers, “it’s always about trust.”

Shinichi lets go of her wrists, lets them drop. He still won’t look at her, and Ran isn’t sure whether it’s a step in the right direction, or a backwards step. Overthinking it right now, isn’t going to help.

“I trusted you over the police, over the evidence.” Ran says, voice louder than intended but filled with a passion, a calmness that can only be expressed through closeness. “I trusted the version of you over the version people told me you’d become, and you try to tell me it’s not about trust?”

“Ran–”

“You asked me to help, didn’t you?” Ran turns now, realises that she won’t be able to look away if Shinichi refuses her, “so trust me to do just that.”

There is quietness for a few seconds and for a second, Ran’s certain that’s it. She’s not going to get any further, Shinichi’s not going to accept her help – why would he, he’d probably thought she’d given up on him before now – and then:

“Okay.”

She glances over at Shinichi, at the frown he offers her, and offers her widest smile.

“Okay?” She says.

“Yeah, okay. I’ll always trust you, Ran.”

Ran smiles. “And I’ll always believe you over everyone else. Now, go.”

Shinichi leaves with heavy footsteps, racing down staircases without so much as a goodbye. Probably because to say goodbye would be permanent – maybe because to say see you soon will bring questions to both of their minds as to when exactly ‘soon’ is.

Once he’s gone she whispers, “I’ll wait for you, Shinichi. I always will.”


There are three points of entry that KID would consider.

Akemi and Shiho had found documents of the museum online – funny, what an internet connection and lack of job do for production levels – and narrowed it down to the three.

The roof is off limits. Previous heists with KID making his way to the jewels with his hang-glider had made it so the KID task force employed police helicopters. The entrance too, is off limits – not that it takes a genius to figure that one off.

She needs to search the three potential entry points, and decide which to wait for KID at. And it needs to be correct. Who knows when KID will hold another heist after this one?

The three points:

One is the second-floor window, just outside the exhibit into a no-entry room. Outside the window is piping that KID could easily shimmy up to get inside. Akemi disregards it as soon as she sees the outside patrols. There’s no way KID would be able to time it correctly to get indoors before any soldiers would catch sight of him.

Two is the first floor, just past the museums café. If KID were to scale the fence and hide within the bin outside, wait for the perfect opportunity, he’d be able to get indoors. From all the videos online though, Akemi’s pretty sure that the man’s ego wouldn’t let his white suit get dirtied.

That leaves the third. There’s a small ventilation shaft at the back of the building, one that leads down into the basement. A furnace that’s been out of commission for years – Akemi’s certain KID will use that one to get in and out of the building. But where would an escape after that lead him.

There’s nothing else she can do but wait. There are bushes nearby – Akemi should hide, wait for KID to make an appearance and ambush him.

She does. And she waits.

“God, if I’m wrong how will I explain this to Shiho?”

In the end, she doesn’t have to worry. After crouching in the bushes for ten minutes, she watches a hand reach out of the ventilation shaft, pulling himself up. There’s a lack of white, a significant lack of white, but Akemi’s 100% sure it’s him.

She creeps forward, squints.

He’s wearing the same uniform she is, a light blue colour that belongs to the KID task force. She supposes it’s probably been bought from a fancy-dress shop, like Akemi’s had been, before being altered to look like the real thing.

It’s got to be him.

Akemi needs to get to him – she practically springs from the bushes in an attempt to catch him off guard, digging her fingers into his shoulder.

“KID,” she says, pulling him back so she can see his face, “I need to talk.”

KID turns, and it’s not the face she’s expecting, instead, it’s the face of Kudo Shinichi.


The vent he came through isn’t possible to use for an exit, so Kaito knows he needs to rely on Aoko for his escape. The smoke is going to be dispersed soon, and while he knows there’s another vent that will get him to the lower floors within seconds, he can’t get it undone by himself.

Aoko isn’t the fastest, but as soon as he explains what he needs to her, she clicks her tongue at him and nods.

“Only issue,” Aoko mutters as he pulls her towards the grate, passing her a screw driver, “I can’t see.”

Kaito takes a moment to think about that, realises there’s not much he can do besides give her his mask and shrugs. But then – Aoko had given him her vest, the least he can do is exchange it for the mask…

He does, and through squinted eyes, he crouches down to the right-hand side of the grate, unscrews the right two, listening to the whirring of fans above him. Aoko glances at him twice during the movements, lets out a deep breath as she drops the first of the two screws on her side to the ground.

It clatters – the sound is deafening.

“I was going to let them capture you,” she whispers, as she starts working on the next. Kaito lifts his fingers forward, pries them beneath the grate and tries to pull it off. “I wasn’t going to let them shoot you, but I was willing to let them lock you back up.”

Kaito doesn’t respond. How could he – he’d practically been expecting it. Aoko’s been open about her stance on KID since the beginning, it’s not something she’s ever lied about.

“But I don’t…” Aoko takes a moment to breath, as she lets the other screw drop. The grate pops off with it gone, leaving the vent open wide, bringing their conversation to a standstill.

Despite his best interests, Kaito finds himself stalling.

“But you don’t…?”

“I don’t like the idea of you locked up,” Aoko glance away, “not anymore. Off you go then.”

Kaito nods, offers his best poker face and smiles. Then he turns to the grate.

A flash of red catches his attention before he can crawl inside. Though the smoke is still there, it’s dispersed, easier to see through. And it’s that which catches him off guard – this flash of red.

A red dot.

A gun – and not the one that Nakamori had been pointing at him previously. There’s a sight and that can only mean one thing… except. One look shows it’s not pointed towards him.

It’s aimed at the gas mask.

“Aoko!”

From through the smoke he can see a flash of light.

“Hey, are you okay?” “Someone call an ambulance.”

“Fuck there’s so much blood, hurry up.

Chapter Text

3 days after the heist


“How’re ya holdin’ up?”

There are a lot of things that Shinichi will leave out, unwilling to tell anyone. The majority includes: what really happened in prison, his interactions with Vermouth, and his feelings.

Still, turning to Hattori, he can’t help but feel like he’s got to answer honestly. The idea of answering the question brings an all too familiar itch to his throat, and he lifts his hands, only to dig his hands into the bandages Kazuha has applied.

“I’m coping,” he admits, more quiet than usual, “I just wish the heist hadn’t…”

Shinichi breaks off before he can continue. They both know what he means. The seriousness of the Black Organisation targeting him, and now by association Kaito, brings horror rising up his throat in the form of bile.

It’s not fair, but then again, nothing about their situation is.

“Yeah,” Hattori glances away. Guilt bleeds into his voice, the emotion raw. Still, he’s coping better than Shinichi had expected him too. “That’s another one of KID’s heists that have gone wrong now…”

Shinichi winces.

The comment stings – no, it’s like a stab into the abdomen, or a hand squeezing around his throat leaving him hanging, because this is all his fault. He’d brought Kaito into this back when they’d been cellmates and now there is damage, irreplaceable damage that he cannot take back.

“Hattori…” He says, unable to look at the Osakan. Instead, he turns to the woodlands, stares at the morning dew on the grass, at moss that litters rocks at the side of the path. “Do you remember what I said when you first realised I was innocent?”

He remembers the meeting so clearly, he can practically hear the entire conversation, can see the dulling grey table as he’s pushed into it. Back when Ran had been the only person with faith in him, back when Hattori had arrived to try and understand why he’d allegedly committed the crimes.

Now, Hattori flinches. He says, “ya said you’d been lookin’ into a case that took more than it would give back.”

Shinichi finally turns to look at him. The other boy looks almost fragile, still pale and with guilt swimming in his eyes. Having heard about the shot – Shinichi knows that Hattori is regretting not trying more to get onto the crime scene and offer help.

“And here we are,” Shinichi says, “still struggling to solve that case.”

Except it feels wrong now.

“Yer worried about Kuroba,” Of course he is. Hattori pauses. “Listen, I’m sorry I pushed ya to leave Tokyo behind but–”

Shinichi turns, offers the best version of a smile that he can. It’s not Kaito’s poker face though, so it comes out as something more like a grimace. It’s not very reassuring. He says, “I understand, don’t worry. Golden week’s over, you had to go back to Osaka – and this was my best bet to get out of Tokyo.”

My – not ours.

“Yer still angry that we left Kuroba behind.”

It’s not a question. It’s a statement.

A truthful statement. Because, yes, Shinichi is angry that he left the heist with his freedom while Kaito left the heist with a police officer by his side. He’s angry that they can’t do anything to help him because planning would take weeks and he needs to be in Kyoto in two days.

“I am,” Shinichi mutters, “but it’s not like he’s in the right state to join us anyway.”

Hattori sighs. Their conversation, as they’d expected, goes downhill before they have anywhere to start.

“What about the Miyano girl?” Hattori says after another pause, “you trust her enough to go to Kyoto?”

Shinichi thinks over the brief conversation he’d shared with Miyano Akemi, the woman who’d cornered him during the heist, when he’d been getting ready to leave. How she’d stated she was running from the organisation he was pursuing, how she had leads he could look into, if only he’d be willing to come to meet with her in five days.

The first thing he’d thought was: trap.

The next had been ‘wait, why hasn’t she shot me yet, if she’s one of them?’

“I’ll prove it,” Akemi had said, “I’ll give you a lead to look into during those five days, okay? Please, just consider it.”

And then she’d given him a business card for a small café in Kyoto. She’d whispered a name – Sharon Vineyard – into his ear and waited until he’d memorised the name, before leaving him behind.

As soon as he’d returned to the safe house, and before the news of the heist’s conclusion reached his ears, Shinichi had looked her up. This Sharon Vineyard. He’d heard the name in the past, someone he’d heard his mother mention but the face? He couldn’t recall it.

By the time he’d seen a picture of her though, he’d known for certain what this lead was.

Vermouth’s identity.

A clue that had proven that Akemi knew what she was talking about, that she had information if only Shinichi listened. She’d wanted something from him – no one gave something for nothing – but there was almost an element of power on him.

Even if it was a trap, Shinichi was going to go, and he was going to hear Akemi out.

“I don’t know if I trust her,” Shinichi says, nodding at the Osakan, “but I’m going to go anyway. It’ll be difficult getting there, but I should manage.”

“I don’t like th’ idea of ya goin’ alone.” Hattori mutters.

Shinichi won’t admit it, but he doesn’t like the idea of going alone either. But with Kaito back in Tokyo, and Hattori unable to attend with him due to the end of golden week, there’s not exactly much he can do.

“I’ll be fine,” Shinichi says, even though he’s pretty sure it’s a lie. Whatever he ends up learning, he’s going to feel hurt, or disappointed or… something. Either way he will not be fine.

“There’s nothin’ I can do t’ stop ya, so… Okay.” Hattori mutters. “But come back here afterwards, don’t.. don’t jus’ disappear okay?”

Shinichi glances around at the forest. He swallows, nervously as he looks back at the old, shut down shrine he’s been sleeping in. It’s not the best area to hide, and frankly, with Hattori And Kazuha back in classes, it’s lonely most of the time as well, but for the time being, it’ll do.

“I won’t disappear,” Shinichi says, “there’s not really anywhere to disappear to.”


The Hakuba household is bigger than Ran had been expecting.

She’s cheated in terms of accessing his address. After days of no contact with the Brit, she’d gone into the police records she’d obtained regarding Shinichi’s case, and gone to the files on the two teens working the case.

Saguru – who’d been working with Shinichi – had several pages on him. He’d had to go through several interviews to ensure he hadn’t been helping his friend, and fellow detective with the supposed murder.

And on the front page – his address.

Knocking on his door brings a chill running down Ran’s spine. Usually, Saguru is not one to leave things be, is too neurotic to leave things the way they are. It’s not a terrible thing, she thinks, when he’s keeping it in check. It’s helped considerably with Shinichi’s case.

Well… it would if they could make any considerable leeway.

The door opens and Ran blinks as she comes face to face with a short woman. It must be Baaya, the woman Saguru always speaks about with such fondness. Her grey hair is pulled back into a bun, making the woman seem stern, almost strict.

“Good afternoon,” Ran says as the woman looks up at her, “I was wondering whether Hakuba-kun was here, we’ve been working together on a project.”

Baaya gives Ran a once-over, shakes her head and says, “You attend a different school to the one he does.”

“It’s not a school project,” Ran says, tugs at the straps over her bag, “we’re working together on the Kudo Shinichi case…?”

She’s hoping that Saguru has at least mentioned to his housekeeper that he’d been reworking the case with her. If not, there’ll be no possibility of seeing him until he responds to the voicemail she’s left on his phone.

After a brief sigh, the other woman nods. She says, “wait there, I’ll get you some slippers.”

With that, she ushers Ran into the household, closing the door behind her. Ran lets out a deep breath, offers a bright thank you as the housekeeper ducks into a small storage cupboard, pulling out a white pair of slippers.

“Here,” Baaya says, “put these on, maybe you’ll have more luck with the young master than I have been.”

Ran leans down, discarding her shoes in favour of the slippers. She says, “more luck?”

“Yes,” Baaya says, “I’ve not seen him days. I’ve heard him, yes, but whenever I’ve knocked on his door, I’ve only received silence.”

“Oh,” Ran doesn’t know how to respond, “that explains the lack of answer to my phone calls.”

The housekeeper hums, a low sound, as she turns towards the staircase, beckoning Ran to follow after her.

She does.

“This is it,” Baaya says, after they’ve climbed up one staircase and reached the end of a rather curved corridor. She points at the door, offers Ran a smile and says, “hopefully he’ll respond better to you than he will to me. Do you remember the way back down, if he doesn’t?”

Ran nods.

“Then I’ll leave you to it.”

The housekeeper leaves, and Ran turns to the door, taps her knuckles against the wood. She calls, “Saguru-kun, it’s me, Ran.”

There is no response.

“Saguru-kun?” Ran calls again, “I need to talk to you about the heist that happened – I know it didn’t…” didn’t go well, “Listen, I saw Shinichi, and I’ve got some new facts that we need to go over.”

Now there’s sound.

Footsteps – erratic, as if rushing around the room. They move and then pause, several times until eventually, the door swings open, revealing Saguru.

The detective is a mess. Shadows weigh on his eyelids, his hair goes unbrushed and Ran’s pretty sure he’s only wearing a t-shirt because doing up buttons would be too difficult.

Hakuba Saguru, is very clearly sleep deprived.

“You saw Kudo?” Saguru says, and Ran nods, trying to look at him. It’s difficult not to look away though, at the mess of his room behind him – Ran’s never been in it before, but there’s clearly something off about it.

Maybe it’s all of the string dangled around, with pictures and files pinned to the walls.

“Tell me about the meeting,” Saguru says. He turns, waves her into the room and then shakes his head, “no wait, I need to tell you the identity of the person who committed the murders Kudo was framed for.”


Are you okay?

The words whirr in her mind, a repetitive drawl filled with pain and worry.

Are you okay?

Aoko blinks, tries to come back to the present rather than remaining trapped in her mind. She sighs, glances at the book she’d supposedly been reading and shrugs the kinks from her shoulders.

She’d thought taking a break from all of the work she’s set herself would be refreshing, but it… it’s too difficult. Instead, Aoko finds herself wincing every time she turns a page, the sound of ripping paper sounding unnaturally similar to a bullet tearing through flesh.

…Kaito.

“Goddammit,” Aoko mutters, blinking away tears. She looks down, at her desk – the place she’s found unable to leave for three days now and bites into her lip. “Why would he go and do something like that?”

On her desk, there are several plan pieces of paper – most of them crumpled into paper balls, but some left in a pile beneath the Cullinan diamond KID had stolen during his heist. She knows she needs to return it, but it’s not a full moon yet and Kaito would want her to check to see if it was… if it was the Pandora gem he’s been looking for.

Until the full moon though, it’s her loyal paperweight.

“How do you come up with all of this stuff?” Aoko mumbles to herself, sweeping the paper balls from her desk. They land with the rest of the discarded paper on the floor. She’ll need to shred them later, but for now.

Floor plans.

The address of a garage that sells cars at low prices.

The route to get to Jii’s bar unseen by any cameras.

“Kaito…” Aoko mutters to herself now, wincing at the sound of his name from her lips. It sounds to solemn to belong to him, not energetic enough from her lips, “why’d you have to… KID’s meant to be the villain, you’re not supposed to just…”

Save me.

Even now, she can remember his blood. Can smell it as it had poured from his shoulder – turns out, offering him the vest hadn’t been enough. His limbs had been exposed and… and when he’d tried to tackle her from whatever danger he’d seen she’d…

Alive. But hospitalised.

And there’s a time limit to the amount of time he needs to remain in hospital before the police can move him. A timer working its way to zero, recovery time that Aoko knows she’s going to need to use effectively.

Now, she lifts her fingers to brush away her tears.

“Kaito saved Aoko’s life…” She whispers, trying to keep her voice steady as reminds herself of the heist she’s lived through, “now Aoko’s got to save Kaito’s.”

Aoko heaves a sigh; She’s got so much work to do.

Chapter Text

“What do you mean, the person who framed Shinichi?”

Saguru leans forward, raises a hand to make his point but shakes his head. He glances at the door, waits until Ran takes a step inside and closes it. There’s a jittery energy to him from his sleep deprivation and Ran doesn’t know whether to trust what he’s saying or to blame it on the lack of sleep.

No blind faith, she decides. She’ll just have to wait for the proof.

“Exactly that,” Hakuba says, stifling a yawn. “I found the person who did it. Well, a name anyway.”

Ran pauses, stands awkwardly by his door as Saguru makes his way towards the files pinned to his wall, untacks one of the pins as he grabs the paper. It’s rumpled as he brings it towards her, and places it on the wall temporarily to try and rub the creases out.

“Saguru-kun?”

“It’s fine,” Saguru says, turning back. He makes his way towards her, passes the paper over to her. “Look at this.”

It’s a list of names. One of the names is circled in red pen, an erratic circle that looks more like a scribble than an identifying mark.

“…Oogami Shukuzen? Isn’t he a famous detective?”

Saguru nods. He says, “I was looking at all the lists that could help us. There were three – one of the people who worked Kudo’s case originally. Another for those who knew about Kudo and Kuroba’s escape before it was leaked to the media – and the final one: those who knew Numabuchi was going to be moved the day he was murdered.”

Ran tilts her head, “isn’t there a chance that as a famous detective he could have been called in to help?”

Saguru takes a step backward, runs a hand through his hair and shakes his head. “No chance. He’s dead after all. Someone's using his name to get those lists.”

Well… that doesn’t exactly make much sense. Ran might not be as knowledgeable as Saguru or Shinichi on how police procedure works, but she does know that credentials are pulled from the system following a death. It had never been in the newspapers either…

“That’s not possible…” Ran mutters, because within all reason, it shouldn’t be. There’s a way these things work, and even though it’s been skewed in Shinichi’s case, there’s always some sort of system in place… right? “It would have made the news…”

Saguru crosses his arms. Shakes his head.

“No,” he says, “he’s definitely dead. Kudo and I were both invited to a gathering of detectives, and were present when he died. He was poisoned by one of the detectives present and we managed to catch her...”

“But the news.” Ran says, repeating the words to try and emphasise her points more. “Why wouldn’t they broadcast that?”

Saguru pauses, tilts his head. “The police asked us to stay quiet about the murder. So the detective present kept their silence, promised not to bring it up to the media or… Only a few people know about his death.”

Now it makes a little more sense – but who would be able to keep a murder like this from the police? Out of police files at least?

“It was someone who was there,” Ran says now, coming to such a conclusion. “Someone present at that crime scene covered it up and made sure it never reached the police station’s files.”

Saguru nods. “His file says that he’s alive, but Kudo and I know he’s not… This thing has been following him a lot longer than the serial murders, it predates it by at least two months…”

There’s a shiver at that. To think Shinichi had been a victim to whoever is playing the role of Oogami Shukuzen… it’s not a nice feeling at all. And to further think that that person has been watching over Shinichi far longer than they’d ever expected…

“We find the person who’s pretending to be Oogami Shukuzen and then we find our murderer.”

After spending so long musing over the same old files, it feels good to finally reach some headway. Except, looking at Saguru’s pallid demeanour, Ran can’t help but feel like they’ve taken a step back too.


Shinichi’s heart feels like it might give out.

Hattori drives him to the train station, so he can make his way to Kyoto, but the Osakan can’t stay long. He’s more popular in Osaka than Tokyo, people notice him, their eyes lingering on his form when he stands by his motorbike.

Just standing near Hattori is a risk. Shinichi knows that, so he tries to keep the goodbye short.

“You’ve got a phone,” Hattori says now, nodding his head. “And ya know my number so we don’t need t’ put it into th’ contacts list.”

Shinichi nods, pulls down on the cap he’s wearing and tightens the straps on his backpack. There’s enough money inside to supply a stay in Kyoto, and while he knows he’ll be back within a week – if everything goes well – he’s got enough for longer if necessary.

Kaito’s safe house had supplied enough cash for that.

“I know,” Shinichi says, lifts his hand up to dig fingernails into his neck. Hattori’s worried expression makes him freeze before he can, dropping his hand almost immediately. “I’ll send ongoing evidence to you, in case…”

In case this really is a trap.

Hattori winces, the words lingering between them. He says, “come back, or else I’ll have t’ drag ya back myself.”

They can’t go into anything more than that, Shinichi knows. There’s too big a risk – Kazuha had been right when she’d called him out for putting him in danger, he can’t do that again. It’s not fair. Not to Hattori, not to her…

Plus – isn’t seeing what happened to Kaito enough? Shouldn’t he know that it’s too dangerous to include Hattori in anything else?

Even sending the evidence towards the Osakan is too dangerous. And yet… it’s possibly the only way.

“I’ve got to go…” Shinichi mutters, turning away. He scratches at his wrist now, instead of his neck, attempts to rid himself of the unease building in his stomach. Not that he’ll be able to – the train ride to Kyoto will be an hour of hoping he doesn’t get noticed, hoping that no random coincidences will happen during the ride.

He really wishes Kaito were with him. At least his experience with KID would have helped him blend in. Instead, Shinichi is completely on his own.

“Promise you’ll be ok,” Hattori mutters, biting into his lip. There’s some underlying emotion there, something Shinichi doesn’t know how to read into. Can’t read into. “Kazuha an’ I don’t wanna have to patch you up again.”

His neck…

“I’ll be fine,” Shinichi lies. He turns away before Hattori can read into his emotions anymore. He forces his hands down, doesn’t raise them up; Up to the noose that has been coiled around his neck for months, woven to prick at his skin, tightened until he can’t breathe…

Shinichi wants it off.

“Got to buy a ticket,” he mutters, reminding himself the noose is just a hallucination, something that’s only there because of stress and sleep deprivation. “…to Kyoto.”


“I’m worried abou’ him.”

Kazuha looks up from math equations to see Heiji, hovering at the doorway to her room. He must have let himself in again with the spare key her parents have entrusted him with, his expression too raw to have been hidden away for anyone else to see.

“Of course ya are,” Kazuha mumbles, as she beckons him in, standing to close the door behind him. She can’t close it fully, not without her parents commenting and ordering her to keep the door completely open.

“I jus’,” Heiji shakes his head, collapses onto his bed. “I wish I could’ve gone with ‘im, ya know? But he’s on ‘is own and he’s blamin’ himself for everything and…”

Kazuha takes a seat next to Heiji, abandons her math equations for good, and rubs his arm. It’s a movement she’s always done to calm him when he’s started to worry, and while it doesn’t remove his worries, it eases them, slightly.

Heiji curls into her. Not much, but enough that it’s noticeable.

“He blames himself for th’ shootin’,” Heiji continues, “an’ for leavin’ Kuroba in th’ hospital. How’s he even copin’ with stuff like tha’ running around in his head?”

Kazuha thinks of nails nipping against skin and thinks that he’s not. There’s a lot to worry about in Shinichi’s case, and while she knows now that he’s not a risk to other people – not meaningfully – he is one to himself.

She wishes they could offer him help with that. Even though she doesn’t know the detective that much, Kazuha wants to help. His mental state…

No; she can’t go down that route. Kazuha needs to place her primary focus on Heiji, and think about Shinichi as and when she can. There’s zero point worrying about something she can’t change.

“We can look into stuff he can’t,” Kazuha says after a second, “when he sends information t’ us, we’ll write it down, and keep it safe.”

Heiji doesn’t look pleased by her answer.

But then again, he’s not looked anything but worried since Kuroba was shot – no, before that even. He’s been feeling bad since Numabuchi’s murder. The direct link between him helping Shinichi escape and the murder…

“I…” Heiji sighs, “how does he deal wit’ it Kazuha? It’s tearin’ me apart.”

Kazuha glances down, unable to meet his eyes for a second, because… she doesn’t know. How do they deal with things like this, being linked to murder, being involved in a takedown of a large organisation? Lying to everyone about the fact that they’re assisting a convicted killer who didn’t do it.

“It’s okay,” Kazuha whispers, lifting off one of her legs to wrap her arms around Heiji’s chest. “We’ll figure this out.”


Aoko has maybe two days to get Kaito out of prison before he’s moved. Three tops if the hospital decides he’s not stable enough to be moved.

So that’s how long she’s got to plan.

There’s not enough time to plan something by herself. Not if she wants to factor in every element to a correct standard.

Seeing as she can’t go to her father – he’s too busy standing guard and keeping watch over Kaito between the bursts of paperwork he’s got to fill in – Aoko will have to find someone else. None of her school friends will be good ideas, and seeing as she doesn’t know anyone devious enough to break out of a hospital other than Kaito himself, she’s going to have to go with people she’s not close to.

Jii – Kaito’s friend. The one who worked for Kaito’s father before he died.

From the rough explanation Kaito had given her about KID, she’s pretty sure Jii is the one who’s helped Kaito with heists requiring more than one person. Kaito hadn’t known him before KID had reappeared, had only taken Aoko to his bar afterwards to play pool following his own induction as KID…

So, Aoko’s going to take a leap and decide that Jii is the identity of Kaito’s mystery helper. It’s easy to figure out once she has Kaito’s side of the story, and while she might not have all of it… she’s got more than any others.

If he’ll help Kaito with a heist, then Aoko is certain Jii will help her with a heist of her own. Except, she won’t be stealing a gemstone, she’ll be stealing Kaito from police custody.

Taking a deep breath, she forces herself into the Blue Parrot, the doors of the bar heavy as she pushes through them. Her body feels tense, heavy as she glances at the bartender in front of her. Jii is drying a glass as she walks in, although he places it down as soon as he catches sight of her.

“The bar is currently closed,” Jii says, and then, recognising her. “Aoko-san. It’s been a while…”

Aoko glances around, tries to pull up the courage she’d previously had and stops just beside the bar. She bites her lip, offers the smallest smile and says, “Jii-san, you’ve heard about Kaito?”

Jii does not look happy as he nods.

“The young master was arrested again following a break out,” Jii says, “I don’t think there’s anyone in Japan who hasn’t heard.”

“He was shot,” Aoko continues, and while she’s certain Jii already knows, even if they’ve kept that much out of the media, he still looks faintly surprised. “And Kaito was only shot because he pushed me out of the way.”

“Why are you telling me this, Aoko-san?”

“Because,” she glances away for a second from the older man, bites into her lip. “I know you helped him with heists before. And I need you to help me with my own version of one.”

She looks back at Jii now, is greeted with shock.

“Kaito saved my life,” Aoko says, “and he’s… he wants to find that Pandora gemstone, right? So… I can’t let him go back to prison. So please… will you help me?”

Uncertainty.

As someone who’d brought up her hatred of KID hundreds of times, of course he’d be sceptical. It’d be foolish not to be.

Something to fool him – Aoko’s glad she’d thought this far ahead. She pulls the recently stolen Cullinan diamond from her bag, places it onto the counter for Jii to see.

“Is that?”

Aoko nods. She says, “Kaito placed it in my pocket when he pushed me out of the way. And… I haven’t given it back yet.”

Jii picks up the diamond, appraises it. He says, “it’s the real thing.”

“I know Kaito would want to check it when I got him out,” Aoko whispers, “to see if it’s Pandora.”

Jii glances at her now, and the readiness in his eyes shows that he’s ready to listen. Fully and without restraint.

“Please help me,” Aoko repeats, “I can’t plan these things as good as he can.”

Jii nods.

Chapter Text

“There’s no need to be afraid,” Jii says, as they sit in his car, an old beaten up thing, with a speedometer that doesn’t register anything past thirty miles an hour, and a clutch that never wants to reach the biting point on the first attempt. “You’ve not done anything wrong, they won’t suspect you.”

From the passenger seat, Aoko shudders. She attempts to breath, closes her eyes for a moment and nods her head. She says, “and they won’t suspect me even after we do anything wrong, because we won’t let them.”

She can’t see the older man nod, but she can hear the movement. It gives her enough courage to lean down to unbuckle her seatbelt, opening her eyes and staring down the hospital.

“We’re not doing anything illegal today anyway,” Jii says, offering what can only be a comforting smile. There’s a calmness in his voice that shows that he’s obviously used to this sort of pressure – obviously he is, if Kaito had trusted him enough for help in the past – and Aoko finds herself wondering if there were ever any signs in the past that he was much more than a bar owner.

There probably isn’t, and part of that bewilders her. How good a liar did he have to be to fool everyone, even after the police had investigated Kaito’s associates, aiming to catch any accomplices?

“Exactly,” Aoko says, nodding, “I’m just worried about my friend. I just want to make sure he’s alright before they send him back.”

Jii nods his head. He says, “exactly. And if we happen to get the layout of the hospital room, of the guard rotation, that’s completely legal as well.”

She nods. And then, after a pause, acid rolling in her stomach at the thought of Kaito wounded, – “And the medication he’s on. I need to pay close attention to that. Along with any machine’s they’ve got him on…”

It’s all too much, and there’s no way of writing down notes, but Aoko nods her head anyway. She’ll find a way to remember all of this, even if it seems impossible. For Kaito’s sake she must.

“Exactly,” Jii says. And then, he reaches into his pocket, presses a small black button into her palm. Except, Aoko knows for certain that it’s not really a button. “Just be calm and everything will be alright. This is the easy part.”

Aoko nods her head. As soon as she’s finished pocketing the ‘button’ into her palm, she pushes open the car door, pulls herself out of the car and focuses on the hospital entrance.

She walks.


“Saguru-kun,” Ran says, as he turns, making his way back towards the computer he’s no doubt been typing into for days now. “When was the last time you slept?”

He’s so pale, and part of her thinks it’s because he’s entombed himself in the dark of his room. She enters further into the room, makes her way towards the windows and draws open his curtains.

Saguru hums his displeasure. Ran isn’t sure if it’s because his bedroom is suddenly bright, or whether he simply doesn’t want to answer the question, knowing that she’ll dislike the answer.

“I haven’t slept well recently,” Saguru admits, “not since the escape. I’ve had a lot of… thinking to do.”

He leans forwards, squinting at his screen, and lifts a hand up to tap at the monitor. The light flickers for a moment, before settling on the picture it’d been trying to show. Ran takes a step closer.

“It’s difficult, yes, but we can’t afford to be exhausted for this case.”

Another hum, it’s low in his throat, and Saguru doesn’t respond with words, decides simply to focus on typing out more, trying to learn more.

“Okay then,” Ran says, grabbing a foldable chair from the side of his desk and pulling it towards the desk. She sits at the edge, peering onto the screen, “we’ll focus on the case instead of you. Oogami Shukuzen, how are we going to learn more about him.”

Saguru turns, meets her eye and says, “we steal the any files relating to his current life. Case files, bank statements, bills.”

Ran bites her lip. Coming from his mouth, this all seems wrong. Saguru has always been one to play by the rules and hearing him so much as suggesting that they… no.

“We can’t steal personal files,” Ran hisses, hating how unsettled the idea makes her feel. “What was it you told me when I suggested reading Shinichi’s statements? We’re doing things by the book, so we can declare the evidence if we can get Shinichi acquitted.”

“We’re not going to catch Oogami’s imposter if we do things by the book.” He says. “And seeing as Kudo all but admitted to you there were people trying to kill him… I don’t think that there’s enough time to go by more conventional methods.”

Ran bites her lips, “this isn’t like you at all.”

“I don’t feel much like myself right now,” Saguru admits, “so you’re probably right.”

He runs a hand through his hair, and Ran can see him absentmindedly chewing on the inside of his cheek.

“I talked to Kudo once,” Saguru says now, “on the phone about three months before I helped to catch KID. I hadn’t visited, because well – I said I wouldn’t until I got him free, and I’d started to lose faith in him.”

She doesn’t know why he’s saying this now, when he could have during all the nights they’d spent looking into the case. Maybe he hadn’t thought it was important – but Ran knows Shinichi, he always leaves clues to those he thinks are capable. And Shinichi had trusted Saguru to pick up on clues.

“What was it about?”

Saguru says, “he said that he didn’t need me to look into the case anymore. That he knew I was too involved to be able to offer a fresh perspective. Someone else was looking over the case with him, and he said I’d never been confident with murder scenes anyway. I excelled with catching thieves.”

Ran can only imagine who had taken over the case, looking into it. There’s only one name she can think of: Hattori Heiji.

“Part of me wonders whether he wanted me to catch KID,” Saguru continues, “so he’d be able to escape. I mean, I used to complain all the time about how I was so close to him. Do you remember?”

Ran nods.

“And if he wanted me to catch KID, and if he wanted to escape,” he continues, “then he probably knew that I would be there to catch KID again, and him. That I’d look into the lists and figure out who’d been linked to the various cases.”

“Saguru-kun,” Ran mutters, “don’t you think this is a little far-fetched? I mean, I doubt Shinichi would have thought that far ahead, he’s not capable of scheming things like that by himself–”

“I think, if you put someone into solitary confinement as much as they did for Kudo,” the detective says. “I don’t know how much Kudo did plan, but he created an opening for us to get these lists, and now we have a name. And… I promised him I’d solve this case, so – that’s what I’m doing. No matter how much trouble I get into.”


Heiji takes a deep breath, tries not to think about everything that has happened up to this point, and finds that it’s impossible, because just like the previous events – his own emotions are out of his control.

He should be focusing on his classes – he can’t afford to avoid studying now, golden week is over, and his life needs to continue, even if he’d put it on hold temporarily to break Kudo out – but it’s too difficult to focus on physics when all he’s thinking about is their situation.

What will they do now?

How can he offer help to someone in Kyoto, all the way from Osaka?

His mind is whirring so much he’s pretty sure people can hear the sound. Looking up, Heiji sees that his classmates are all looking at him, so they must be able to hear. But no – he’s just been asked a question by their teacher and is taking too long to answer.

“I’m sorry,” he mutters, asking for the question to be repeated after Kazuha pokes him in the arm, bringing him back to the present.

He gets the question wrong.

Seconds later, when their teacher has gone back to writing on the whiteboard, Kazuha sends him a look that’s a mixture of worry and ‘get yourself together’. It feels almost warm in his chest, that he’s finally sharing this secret with someone else, but there’s also discomfort there too.

Probably because part of the secret involves a dead man.

Heiji offers her a smile that tells her he’ll try to focus more, but it’s weak, worry gnawing on him, locking it’s jaws around his stomach and refusing to let go. Heiji feels almost… lost.

Is Kudo alright? Or has Heiji left him to walk into a trap? Is Kyoto really a good idea?

God, Heiji doesn’t know, and the uncertainty is killing him. He’ll have to phone Kudo later, after class has let out and they’re no longer trapped by the weight of their teachers. Until then, he’ll have to deal with the temporary freedom their lunch break gives, send off a text to check in.

“Hey Hattori,” it’s one of his classmates, Ryu from the volleyball team. Heiji turns, slows his gait so the other boy can catch up. They’re both walking in the same direction it seems, both ready to buy food from the cafeteria.

“What is it?”

“Well,” Ryu says, “that serial killer tha’ escape. We’ve been thinkin’ about where he would go, and since yer like, a detective an’ all we were wonderin’ what you thought about it?”

Heiji takes a moment to feign thought. He can’t exactly go around telling lies, not if people are going to talk about said theories. Heiji’s just paranoid enough to know he needs to deal in half truths. Not completely spreading falsehoods – he can’t ruin his reputation, or make it seem like he’s covering for Kudo, but not quite the truth he knows.

They are just entering the cafeteria when he says, “I’m not sure where, but I’d say he’s gonna be in plain sight, ya know?”

At the puzzled expression he receives, Heiji continues. “Well, ya know those spot the difference puzzles that ya can get? It’s kinda like that – until your told there’s any differences there, ya don’t really realise any are there. So I reckon Kudo’s doing that – no one’s expecting him to be out in the open, so they ain’t lookin. They’re tryin’ t’ find hiding spots instead.”

Ryu gives a small nod. “So since they’re expectin’ him to go into hidin’, they’re not going to search in the open?”

Heiji nods. And then, as they’re about to join the queue, stomachs rumbling for food, he pauses. Hiding things out in the open…

He has an idea. A way to find some more evidence.

Kudo needs to hear this… No, Kudo has too much to worry about in Kyoto, and this lead isn’t necessarily going to be as successful as he suspects it will be. Heiji needs to talk to Kazuha instead, and together, they’ll be able to figure things out.

Heiji starts to count the hours down before they’ll be freed from class, ready to plan things through.


It’s a little difficult for Aoko to gain entry onto the floor Kaito’s being kept on.

The police guarding the corridor Kaito’s staying in are sceptical when they see her, uncertain of whether they should let her in or not. On one hand, she’s the daughter of their inspector, the man who’d put the handcuffs on KID’s wrists, not once, but twice now, a girl with an outright hatred for Kaitou KID. On the other hand, she’s KID’s childhood best friend, and the bullet proof vest she should have been wearing during the heist, had been found around KID instead.

Aoko crosses her arms at their indecision, shakes her head and says, “KID saved my life. All I want to do is thank him before you send him to prison.”

It only seems to intensify their worry.

“Oh please,” Aoko continues, “I’m not asking to go in there for a private conversation. Kaito’s dangerous, I know that. I just want to say thanks so I can forget all about it.”

Now, they seem more sympathetic. A young friend wanting to say thank you for being saved, wanting to get the words out so she never has to see someone suspecting of being an accomplice to murder again…

“Okay.” They relent. “But make it quick.”

And now, for the final push. Aoko doesn’t want to seem to eager, so she hesitates, just long enough that one of the police inspectors – what was her name? Sato? – asks if she’s alright.

“…I don’t…” Aoko shakes her head, crosses her arms around her waist. She says, “I don’t want to be alone with him. Will you..?”

The detective’s eyes soften. Good – Jii had suggested trying to get some sympathy from her, an easy feat, if turning things against Kaito. After all, she’s one of the police officers who Kaito had knocked unconscious during his break in to the police station.

“Of course,” Sato says.

Aoko nods her head. She whispers, ‘thank you’.


Shinichi reaches Kyoto at midday.

He’s not meant to meet Miyano until four, so he spends his time searching for a cheap place to stay. Somewhere without cameras, but big enough that people won’t remember his face when he tries to stay.

And even then… no… Kaito wouldn’t risk staying in a hotel, would he? Did he ever mention having a safehouse in Kyoto?

Shinichi can’t remember. But that’s alright, he knows how to pick basic locks, so he’ll just find a house that’s currently on the market with no residents and stow himself away there. He’ll have to do that later then, it’s not exactly something he can do properly during the day.

He finds himself walking through neighbourhoods anyway, eyes flittering from ‘to let’ signs outside houses. Some of them, he notices have CCTV cameras above them, and he resists the urge to pull his hat down lower, knowing that it’ll only draw more suspicion to him if people were to start looking.

Others have alarms that Shinichi isn’t trained well enough to turn off. If Kaito were here, then he’s certain they’d have a place to stay without so much as a second thought, but…

But he’s not.

Shinichi doesn’t want to overthink it. So he doesn’t, and instead, he turns his attention back to more houses, overlooking their security and how busy the surrounding roads seem.

Not wanting to overthink, and not overthinking are two different things though. He can’t stop thinking about how Kaito’s been caught – he’s alive, yes, but being mobile and conscious is different to being unconscious and injured. And for him to have just… left Kaito behind.

It leaves a sour taste in his mouth.

Maybe… Maybe before he returns to Osaka, he can find a way to break Kaito out of the prison again? True, Kaito has committed crimes, and Shinichi doesn’t necessarily agree with some of his methods, but Kaito hadn’t just been an accomplice to the prison break. Against his original efforts, he’d let Kaito in – and now, well, now they’re friends.

And Shinichi knows how lonely it is to be imprisoned without any friends there to watch his back.

“Okay,” he mutters to himself, forcing himself out of the moment. He taps his fingers against his leg, tries to avoid scratching into skin as he glances at more houses. “That one seems alright?”

It’s a semi-detached house, not far from the train, and just on the edge of the road, overlooking the crossroads. No CCTV cameras overlooking the door, yet Shinichi eyes a contractor making his way indoors, taking out the alarms, as if getting ready to swap them over.

A bust then.

He hesitates, waits a moment. The contractor peeks inside the door, fiddles with the wires in the wall and seals them away – Shinichi assumes he’ll come back to fix it.

Waiting a few more minutes, he observes as the contractor drives off.

Maybe he could…? Shinichi picks a leaf up from the floor, pushes it through the side of the door, using it as a temporary wedge. He’ll have to come back later, and if it’s still there… then he’ll pick this house to stay in.

Glancing around to ensure no one’s seen his quick movement, Shinichi shudders. Paranoia is eating away at him, and without Kaito to assure him it’s alright, he feels his throat tightening, panic making it difficult to breathe.

All Shinichi needs to do now, is find his way to the café Miyano’s directed him to, looking out for her again.

God, he hopes this isn’t a trap.


Kaito is awake when Aoko closes the door behind her.

She bites on her lip subconsciously, listens to the faint click of heels as Sato follows her inside. The detective sits at the end of the room, opens up her notebook and seems to pretend that she’s not going to be listening to everything they say.

Even now, Aoko knows that the detective is watching her from the corner of her eyes. She takes a deep breath, focusing on each movement of her muscles, the lack of control over her lungs as she exhales.

“Kaito.” She says, after a moment.

He’s been watching her since she came in.

“Aoko,” he says, offering the same nervous tone that she’d said his name in. “You came.”

Aoko glances away. As if she can’t stand to look at him.

Kaito frowns. But there’s also a glimmer of understanding in his eyes, and his gaze flickers across to Sato. He lets out a sigh, and continues: “but you don’t want to be here.”

“Aoko just came to say thank you.” She says, glancing anywhere but at Kaito. She wants to look at him, to study every inch of him and make sure he’s alright, but she can’t. Right now, she needs to understand the layout of the room, remember where the exits are, which machines he’s currently attached to. It’s not a lot – a heart monitor just as a precaution, and a drip with pain medication.

Aoko takes a moment to focus on the drip – it’s not dripping. It’s been turned off.

Kaito must be thinking through his own escape.

“Is that supposed to be doing that?” She says, before he can respond. She glances back to Sato, who stands, wandering nearer to his drip. She squints, shakes her head.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything dripping,” Sato says. “He’s turned it off.”

Aoko forces her eyes to widen, hopes that she wears horrified as convincingly as she wants to be. She says, “he’s going to escape…”

“There’s enough staff here that we’re always watching him,” Sato says. And after a second of contemplating her next move, she nods her head: “I’m just going to get a nurse. I think we might need some sort of… sedative.”

The moment Sato is gone, Kaito glares. He says, “thanks a lot.”

Aoko takes a step forward, grabs hold of his good hand and lifts it to her lips. Instead of explaining anything, she kisses his hand, and asks, “if you were to hide in this room, where would it be?”

His glare drops replaced only with confusion. He says, “There’s no point in hiding. They’d know.”

“But if you were to hide, where would it be.”

Kaito shrugs. He says, “there’s a medicine cabinet where they keep some of the equipment. I’d move the equipment and hide inside that, I guess.”

Aoko nods. For improvisation, it sounds like it could work. She’ll have to tell Jii about it.

“And how about your injury. Are you alright?”

Another shrug, although this time, Kaito winces slightly. He lets go of Aoko’s hand, and taking the message, Aoko steps back. He says, “it only grazed me really. The wounds deep, and I needed stitches, and a transfusion, but nothing ricocheted into bone.”

She hadn’t realised that she’d been holding a breath, but now Aoko breathes out, a steady calm flooding through her veins.

“Honestly,” Kaito says, “they’re only keeping me here for a little longer because they were worried it’d get infected if I went straight back to…”

He doesn’t say it, but the words linger. Prison. Aoko’s certain Kaito thinks she’s resigned to let him go back, that she won’t put up a fight when the police decide to resentence him, placing him back in an even trickier cage to escape from.

But Aoko is not cruel – she will not trap a dove inside it’s cage when it’s still strong enough to beat its wings. Maybe before she’d been willing to, but everything is… everything is different now.

“Right.” Aoko says. She hears the patter of footsteps, Sato making her way back down the corridor alongside a nurse. “Well… yeah, I wanted to say thank you… you didn’t have to risk your…”

Kaito offers a lopsided smile.

“Yeah,” he says, “I did.”

Aoko blinks. She hopes it erases any signs of the giddiness she feels hearing his words. She says, “you’re not going to like what happens next.”

His smile wilts. The temporary brightness in his eyes dulls, looking much more sardonic. “No? But I’ve got to go back, right?”

Aoko scratches the back of her hand. She says, “what you gave to me… I’m giving it away.”

Kaito’s expression goes blank. He shows nothing, but she knows he’s hurt. Even if he has no idea at all.

“You can have it,” Aoko continues, “I don’t want it.”

“What is it?” Kaito whispers.

Aoko shakes her head. She says, “tomorrow, will you hide in that cabinet? At around eleven a.m? Will you do that for me?”

Kaito nods. She can see it in his eyes, that he doesn’t want to, but he does anyway.

By the time Sato returns with the nurse, Aoko is gone.


As school ends, Heiji grabs her arm and drags Kazuha down the hall.

“What is it?” she asks, voice low in a whisper. She knows it’s probably about their little secret, but she can’t honestly see how things can have risen in their intensity just yet, when Shinichi’s probably only just going into his meeting now.

“Where did ya put the phone?”

She doesn’t need to ask which phone. Heiji’s got no interest in her own phone, so he’s probably talking about the phone Kudo had received his photographed messages on, the one with all the dead bodies captured in it’s memory storage.

Kazuha has kept it in her bedroom drawer since they’d returned from Tokyo. Heiji’s too linked to Shinichi for them to risk him keeping it with him. She tells him where, and waits for Heiji to answer the silent question in her gaze. Why?

“I was just thinkin’,” Heiji says, “how we’ve been thinkin’ entirely too complicated about all this. We’ve been lookin’ for a completely secret organisation, yeah?”

Kazuha bites her lip, nods. “What of it?”

“What if…” Heiji tugs at his sleeve. “What if that organisation isn’t as secret as we’re thinkin’ it is? What if it’s just hidin’ in plain sight?”


Shinichi feels almost like he’s drowning as he steps into the café.

It’s not too near the centre of Kyoto that there’d be cameras stalking the streets, but near enough that there’s a steady flow of customers. He will not stand out for being the only new face, something which leaves him with a state of calm.

Although, the calm doesn’t last that long. Not when he remembers why he’s here. His situation is too dire for him to simply forget.

Shinichi picks up a water, pays at the counter, before heading to one of the tables at the back. The entire time, he resists the urge to pull down on his cap.

“Huh,” he mutters to himself, “I don’t see her anywhere.”

And he can’t. Even though he’d only spent a moment talking to Miyano Akemi, he’s memorised the face, knows he can recognise her if he saw her. And yet, as he scours the café, he can’t see her at all.

“Kudo-kun?”

The name catches him off guard, and Shinichi glances around, his eyes settling on a woman – around the same age as him – standing by his table. Her hair is short compared to Miyano’s, but their eyes are the same. Are they…?

“You must have the wrong person,” Shinichi mutters, deciding not to risk it. He stands from the table, decides to call it a bust and just leave, when a hand shoots out, wrapping around his wrist and trapping him beside her.

“Unless there’s another alleged serial killer in this café,” the girl says, “then I’m pretty sure you’re the exact person I’m after. Akemi sent me to make sure you didn’t bring any friends.”

Shinichi narrows his eyes. “I was told Miyano would meet me here. Not someone else.”

The girl rolls her eyes, shakes her head. She says, “I’d have thought as a detective you’d have known the second you saw me. Perhaps I put too much faith in you. You’ve been met by a Miyano, just not Akemi. I’m her younger sister. Shiho.”

Shinichi crosses his arms. Something about this feels wrong. Two sisters asking for his help? But… well, there’s nothing really for him to do other than accept it.

“And is your sister around?”

Shiho nods. “Not in this café, but somewhere a little more private.”

She doesn’t wait for his response. Instead, Shiho pivots, leaving behind the café before Shinichi can ask where. For a moment, he indecision seizes hold of him – does he follow?

And then, his muscles push him forwards, as curiosity bears down on him.

“This way,” Shiho says, and Shinichi, without another word, follows the younger Miyano sister.

Chapter Text

 “Let’s go over the plan one more time,” Jii says, from where he’s sat, his arms crossed. They’re sat at the bar, going over the final elements of their heist, thinking things over.

They’re not KID – so they will send no heist notice, but Aoko can almost understand why Kaito does. To share the plan that they’ve thought of for themselves… she forces herself into a state of calm.

Aoko nods.

“Let’s start with security.” Jii passes her a glass of water, something Aoko takes gratefully. She sips at water as she thinks back over everything they’ve discussed already. “Tell me about it.”

“Kaito’s in the short stay ward, second floor, kind of out of the way of the rest of the hospital.” Aoko says, putting the glass back down. Ice sloshes against the glass. “To get into the ward, you either need to be buzzed in, or to hold a staff I.D.”

Jii clears his throat, “what else?”

“The police keep watch.” Aoko says, “there are three keeping guard around Kaito’s room, making sure he can’t escape. Two sit outside, and the other sits inside his room.”

“Two trained cops outside. Detective Sato will be inside, keeping watch, if the rota in the police station is anything to go by. We need to distract the three of them, if this is going to work.”

Aoko nods. She says, “we’ve got that covered. What else?”

“The materials are ready. You’ll find them in that bag,” Jii points over to a small messenger bag. It does not bulge, but Aoko knows that’s because it’s there’s only so much hidden inside. “That alright with you?”

It is. Aoko knows that it is. She says, “ok, now to the plan.”

“We arrive at hospital for ten o’clock–”


Their first hurdle is getting into the ward.

“Are you ready?” Jii asks, for probably the tenth time, as they head through the main hospital doors. Aoko hums her agreement, before falling into the role that they’ve come up for themselves.

“Ready to visit your wife, grandfather?” Aoko asks, a smile in her voice. Even though she’s wearing a light disguise – her hair shortened, sprayed to be darker than it already is, skin a slightly more tanned shade.

“Of course, I am,” Jii responds. He’s wearing a disguise too, makeup designed to make him look older, in his seventies at least. “Let’s go visit my darling, Mizuki.”

Aoko smiles.

And she pushes Jii along in the wheelchair they’ve brought along. They do not stand out. Anyone who looks towards them, are stuck viewing a girl and her grandfather, the two of them making their way inside the hospital to visit a family member.

Not that getting in to the hospital is the difficult part.

Aoko presses the elevator button, continues light, fake conversation with Jii, and waits for the doors to open. As metal doors open, she glances around, wondering whether she needs to hold the door open for any other patients.

She doesn’t see anyone, so she rolls Jii inside, brings the chair to a stop and presses the button for the second floor. Once inside, she lets out a nervous laugh.

“Don’t let your guard down,” Jii says, if not for the thousandth time. “There are cameras in the elevator as well. It’s for patient safety, you see.”

Aoko clears her throat, says, “I know that.”

“I’m just reminding you,” Jii says. “A lot of this plan relies on you, Aoko. We cannot bring the young master home without you doing your part.”

“I will,” she says. “I know I can do this.”

Jii nods his head.

The elevator doors open. Pushing the wheelchair forwards, Aoko steps into the hallway. She takes a deep breath, tightens her grip on the wheelchair’s handle and forces herself to take more steps.

The corridor is narrow. There’s a bold, blue line in the middle, a pathway that leads them towards the ward they’re heading towards. The little guide is a welcome sight. While not needed after hours of memorising the hospital’s floor plans, Aoko’s glad to know there are little aids for her, if needed.

“…On his first heist,” Jii says now, voice low in case anyone turns the corner, joining them on their way to the ward, “…the young master was just as nervous as you are now.”

“Right,” Aoko says, a small laugh in her voice. “I can’t imagine Kaito being anything but confident.”

He’s just trying to make her feel better, Aoko knows, but the idea of Kaito worrying, nervous and quivering over a heist cheers her up anyway. A smile settles on her face as they walk, the edges quirked up as she continues to think of him in such a manner.

“It’s true,” Jii insists, although there’s a small smile in his voice as well. “It was quite a sight to see.”

Gee, Aoko can imagine. She almost wants to keep talking about it, but shakes her head at the last moment. They’re almost at the ward after all, and so their conversation turns from Kaito, to the fake Mizuki they are on their way to visit.

(Well, not that the Mizuki they’re visiting is fake. They’re just not on their way to visit her.)

There’s a small button on the wall by the wards entrance. And Aoko presses it, waiting for the intercom to burst into life. It takes a minute of standing around, but Aoko doesn’t find herself upset about that, the staff as still busy with their morning routines, will be until about eleven.

When they finally get a response, it’s to a staff member saying, “are you a visitor?”

“Yes,” Aoko says, “We’re here to visit my grandmother, Shido Mizuki?”

There’s a pause, and for a moment, it feels almost as if they’re going to be denied, as if the staff members already know that Mizuki does not have a granddaughter, only two grandsons, and that her husband resides in a residential home.

Still Aoko holds her ground and forces herself not to be too relieved when the doors buzz open. Pulling on the door and leaving it open enough that she has time to push Jii in without the door slamming on either of them, Aoko lets out a deep breath.

Now, for the hard part.


The inside of the ward is the same it had been yesterday, when Aoko had come to visit.

The nurses station holds only one nurse in it, and Aoko uses the lack of people to read the room numbers, scanning for any empty rooms. There are two so far – one directly opposite Kaito’s room, and the other one’s a little further down the corridor, on the other side of the staff changing rooms.

“Okay, grandma’s this way,” she says, pushing Jii in the direction of Shido Mizuki’s bay. Her bay has two spare beds, so Aoko pushes Jii into the room, pulls the curtain on the spare bed, and leaves him there, to continue with his end of the plan.

She takes a moment to look Jii in the eye and offers a small smile. “five minutes.”

He offers a terse nod.

And Aoko goes in search for a uniform.

They’re not difficult to find – yesterday, as she’d been leaving, she’d watched one of the nurses as they’d entered the changing rooms, tried to memorise the number. Now, she pretends that she is the nurse she’d watched yesterday.

Putting in the code to the door – 3579X – she bites into her lip. It opens, and she hopes that no one else is inside that she needs to make awkward conversation with.

Luckily, it’s empty.

There are mainly just lockers in the changing rooms, but that’s not what Aoko is looking for. No, she’s aiming for the shelves of hospital scrubs, the yellow band ones for the medium size that she’s got to change into.

Near the side of the room, she finds them.

They’re blue. And baggy enough that she’ll be able to move quickly in them if she has to.

Aoko really hopes that she won’t have to.

The top of her scrubs stops at her elbows. She can’t hide anything up her sleeve, seeing as there are no sleeves, but that’s okay. Seeing as most of her role requires acting, and less gadgets.

All she has with her, is the messenger bag Jii had passed her earlier. Now, she opens it, pulling out a bin bag filled with tied bedsheets. The bag is yellow, with black stripes, and Aoko puts it to the side of her bag.

Then, she discards the clothes she’s changed out of into the messenger bag. Zipping it up, she grabs the strap, glances towards the clock in the changing room and nods her head.

She loops her arm through the bag, lifts the bin bag up as well. And opens the door.

Just in time to deposit both onto the wheelchair as Jii walks past, making his way up towards one of the bays nearer to Kaito’s room.

Aoko lets herself smile.

Now all they need are a few distractions.


This is not Jii Konosuke’s first heist.

But it is his first time stealing a person, instead of a gemstone. Part of him is nervous, but most of him sees this as just another day’s work. First, he had helped with master Toichi, and then he’d helped with master Kaito.

This is just another person to help, another heist in the grand scheme of all the others.

And so, as he wheels a chair into the spare room opposite his current master’s hospital room, he treats it as such. Just another situation where he will help a thief come away with that which they want to steal.

He leaves the wheelchair just to the right of the room’s door and leans down to look at it. As he does so, takes a mobile phone – something cheap, untraceable until he makes the first call, and types in the number Aoko has passed him.

Sato Miwako.

He can hear her phone go off. It’s a horrible ringtone, but Jii supposes most police officers are lacking in good taste. Either way, he waits until she answers, stating her name.

“Detective Sato,” Jii says, straining his voice into the vocal range of one of the inspectors on the KID task force, “we’ve been looking over the KID heist and we managed to get a lead on Kudo Shinichi’s whereabouts.”

He can practically hear her footsteps, as she paces inside of Master Kaito’s room, thinking things over.

Aoko had mentioned that the detective was good at her job. That she’s the type of police worker who’ll stick always to professionalism. She’s also willing to leave her post if she believes that the information she’s receiving wouldn’t be good for a master thief to hear.

They’re weighing their plan on it.

“What kind of information,” Sato says, sceptical, “and why isn’t this a registered number to the police task force?”

Jii imagines himself as a tired, KID task force investigator, huffs and says, “there was a maintenance issue with some of the phones for us in division two. Since we’re just using these old one’s from storage, they’re not logged in yet.”

She’s still sceptical, he can hear it in the echo of her footsteps from the other room. So Jii continues, “listen, if you really want, I can head into one of the offices and phone you back, but I’m meant to be in the briefing room pretty quick, so I’ll have to skim over a few details.”

The footsteps pause.

And then Sato says, “no, it’s alright. Let me just move into another room.”

She moves to walk into the empty room that Jii is in, pauses as she sees a man fiddling with the footsteps of a wheelchair and makes her way down the hall, into one of the other empty rooms.

Now, Jii begins his fake briefing.


Aoko needs to cause trouble.

She knows that she does, but there’s not really anyone around who can help her. So she needs to fake it instead. One of the empty rooms will do – She can find a way to grab the attention of the two police officers waiting outside.

Maybe – yes.

She’ll have to talk to them directly.

She walks up to them, brisk, hoping that her faint disguise is enough to throw them off of her identity and tries to look faintly panicked.

“I need some help with de-escalating a patient?” Aoko says, trying to make her voice wobble in just the right way. How freaked out would someone be if needing some help with a difficult patient… as young as she is, a new starter? Aoko’s going to go with very.

One of the officers opens his mouth, but Aoko doesn’t give him the chance to respond.

“I know it’s not your job,” she blurts out, “but I was meant to give a blood test – so now they have a needle… And you guys are better trained in this than me.”

The concept of a weapon. They offer a nod and follow her as she makes her way down the hall.

To her non-existent patient.

Aoko knows that if she doesn’t react quickly enough, she’s going to be so screwed. Okay – there are two bays in this ward. Each one housing six patients. If she manages to get them to the furthest bay, then she should be able to give Jii just long enough to get things set up for the next phase of her plan.

The nurses station is empty. Aoko’s heart lets out a small cheer.

“It’s just down here,” she says, and leads them into the bay. “Just there, third on the right.”

They step past her, heading up to the closed curtain.

Aoko takes a moment to gather herself, and then, as they lean, hands gripping around the hospital curtains, bolts out of the room. She doesn’t listen for their response, instead throws herself down the corridor, until she reaches the nurses station.

As soon as she reaches it, she throws herself to the floor, sliding ever so slightly to a stop. It scuffs her arm, white grazes across her forearms.

“Fuck,” she whispers, as she hears footsteps racing back down the corridor.

She can only hope that she’s given Jii enough time.


It’s at this time that detective Sato finishes her phone call.

Her footsteps echo across the corridor, causing palpitations in the girl hidden behind the nurse’s station’s desk. Not that she will ever know. It catches the attention of a janitor, who walks past her, a black and yellow bag in his hands, heading to the clinical waste room.

She does not pay the janitor mind, but rather the two police officers who seem unsettled.

“What is it?” She says, her wall quickening to a brisk pace. “What’s got you panicked?”

“He’s gone,” one of them whispers. “KID is gone.”

The detective swears. “How?”

“Out the window,” the other responds, and Sato follows him into the room. A quick glance around the room shows that it is, in fact, bare of Kaitou KID. Something which irks her all the same.

His bed, previously on the left corner of the room has been dragged sideways, nearer to the open window. On the bars, are tied bed sheets, reinforced more and more.

KID could not have got these by himself. She knows that, which brings Sato into wondering when the equipment had been handed over.

She’d been gone for her phone call, but the two officers had been watching.

Unless…

“The two of you left your post.” She declares, turning to look at them. They don’t try to deny it, so she continues, “with the three of us distracted, an accomplice helped KID escape. I’ll need one of you to get the security footage to see who went inside the room.”

One of them nods, and takes his leave, racing towards the doors, making his way to the security room. Then, “and you, that window leads into a courtyard. He can’t have been gone that long, and with his injury he won’t move quickly. Cut KID off before he leaves the hospital grounds.”

The other leaves.

With both officers gone, Sato turns back to the scene. KID left a lot when he’d left, hopefully this will give her an understanding as to how. Leaving evidence… it doesn’t seem like him at all.

She steps further into the room, looks out of the window and down. They’re on the second floor, so it’s a fair climb. But if anyone’s capable, she’s certain KID could do it.

Except – the thief is injured.

So, it wouldn’t be possible.

She takes a step forward, makes her way to the bed, and lowers herself to look at the sheets. They’ve been tied together, but the knots aren’t tight enough, not like they would be if someone had climbed out a window.

And there are no ripped threads, no signs of strain on the sheets at all.

“He didn’t climb out of the window.”

So, where is he?

She hears a faint cackle from behind her, feminine. It forces her to whip around, and there, with dark hair in a bob, wearing medical scrubs, is who she assumes must be KID.

“With my arm?” KID says, “of course I didn’t climb down.”


This is not part of the plan.

This is definitely not part of the plan.

Pretending to be Kaito so that Detective Sato won’t start searching the room for the real KID – absolutely, 100% not part of the plan. Oh well, Aoko’s pretty much screwed now.

And she’s pretty sure Sato could beat her in a fight any day.

Okay, Aoko thinks to herself, she’s just going to have to figure things out in her head, very, very quickly.

Aoko is no Kaito. She’s not got the skills to fool people into believing one thing when something else is true. She can’t perform magic.

She’s also not trained like her father. She can’t fight back without putting herself at risk of injuring herself. The only fighting she can do is when she used to chase Kaito down with a broom stick.

Wait – chasing. Okay, that’s what she’ll have to do.

Aoko offers a small wave to Sato, something she’s certain Kaito would do, and races down the corridor. If they’re going to get Kaito out of the ward, then Aoko’s going to have to get Detective Sato out first.

Not part of the plan, she was supposed to go with the others, but Aoko can improvise. She’s spent enough time chasing Kaito to know what he’s like when running, so she’ll flip the board and take his role.

If only for a few minutes.

Aoko’s glad that Jii made her memories the plans for the entire hospital and not just this ward, because if he hadn’t… her chances would have gone from probably screwed to definitely going to prison for this.

She takes a breath, turns from the detective and sprints down the hall, heading towards the exit. The keypad out, has a simple code – seeing as the staff had told her the code on her way out yesterday, and Aoko can only let out a small sigh of relief as she throws the door open, racing out into the corridor before Sato can grab hold of her.

The door sounds like it slams as it closes behind them, but maybe that’s just the sound of Aoko’s heart pounding against her chest.

She’s got Sato out of the ward.

Now all she needs to do, is lose the detective in the hospital.


Jii heads back into the room.

He brings a wheelchair, and a messenger bag. He doesn’t risk closing the door, not on the off chance that someone will come back, looking in the room. No, they’re going to have to find their way out of the room within minutes, there’s no point alerting people to the fact that people are still inside.

With the wheelchair left by the bed, he heads to the storage cupboard, leaning down to open the both doors.

Inside, is the form of Kuroba Kaito.

“Hello, young master,” Jii says, offering a smile. “It seems to have been a while.”

Kaito lifts his head up, wide-eyed, as Jii holds out his hand for his young master to take.

“Jii,” Kaito says, and then, squinting, “what are you doing here?”

His words are slightly off, for the pain medication, Jii presumes. Looking him up and down, Jii notices a few things.

He’s holding onto his left hand tightly, pressing down against what can only be a cotton bud – from where he’d removed the I.V drip – to stem any bleeding. His right upper arm is bandaged, from the bullet that had grazed him days before.

“Doing what I do best, young master,” Jii says, offering a smile, “aiding someone with a heist. Now, out you come.”

Kaito grabs hold of his hand, leaving behind the cupboard. Once he is stood, Jii returns to the wheelchair, picks up the cushion from the bottom and unzips it. Inside, there are clothes, and a makeup set.

“A heist…” Kaito takes a step forwards as Jii passes the clothes over to him. He looks at the clothes before shrugging his shoulders. There’s not point being fussy. “But that doesn’t make sense, I only know to hide because of–”

He pauses, understanding swimming among his eyes.

“Because of Nakamori Aoko yes.” Jii says, turning away to offer his young master time to change.

“It’s her heist.” Kaito says, and Jii can practically hear the grin in his voice as he thinks about that. “This is her heist, and she’s stealing me.”

Jii allows himself a smile. “Yes. But it is still her first heist, so let’s help her succeed a little, yes?”

He turns now, glancing at Kaito, the young man dressed the part of an old woman. Kaito nods.

“Let’s transform you into Shido Mizuki, a loving grandmother.” Jii says.


Aoko runs.

Somewhere on the first floor, she’d thought that she had managed to lose Sato, only for the woman to come out of nowhere, back into her sights.

Already, she’s breathless, running out of stamina.

Sato has more training pursuing criminals that Aoko does. It’ll be impossible to keep outrunning her for much longer.

Which means she’s left with either two options. Keep running until Sato finally tackles her, and realises she’s just an accomplice, or, stop running on her own terms.

The second seems like it could be more problematic, but, if she times it correctly, it should work to her favour.

Well, Aoko can hope at least.

Skirting one of the corners, Aoko makes her way towards the centre of the building. It’s not the busiest hospital, although that’s only really in the wards. On the ground floor, well, that’s where most of the people are.

Running on a phone doesn’t seem the smartest move, but she needs Jii’s assistance, so she brings it from her pocket, holding it in one hand.

It’s difficult to run and keep speed up, and Aoko’s certain that Sato narrows the gap between them, but this is something she’s got to do.

A+E – leave the bag down there.

With the text sent, she grips the phone in her hand, cursing her legs for not being able to run faster. All she needs to do now, is get down the stairwell without Sato getting too close and make her way out into the main reception.

“Stop running, KID,” Sato shouts, as if thinking that’ll make Aoko stop. “There’s nowhere to run.”

“Maybe not on this floor, detective,” Aoko shouts back, as she bursts into the stairwell. She takes two at a time, realises it’s an ineffective way of climbing down stairs, and grabs hold of the banister instead.

Should she try to vault across? No… it seems like a way to be quicker, but one wrong landing and she could sprain her ankle.

Or worse, break her neck.

“Okay,” she whispers to herself. Holding the banister, she opts to making larger jumps down the stairwell, two steps widens to four, something that leaves her a little wobbly and nervous of herself but is manageable.

The sound of Sato’s footsteps following behind her are probably going to be ingrained into the inside of her skull after this, Aoko just knows it.

“Okay.” Aoko whispers, as she leaves the stairwell, “time to lose a tail.”

And she stops running.


Detective Sato exits the stairwell and is greeted to the sight of the main reception. It’s busy, usually is at this time, but she’s not looking around for members of the public, she’s looking for a staff member.

Well, a fake staff member.

No one’s running through the crowd, so Sato turns her eyes onto anyone walking at a brisk pace. Someone who looks like they’re trying to get somewhere and quickly.

One glance at the exit – no, no one is leaving the hospital while in uniform. So KID must have gone somewhere else, where else in this hospital would there be a lot of people?

The accident and emergency department. The emergency room is always filled, is always busy and so it’s the best place for someone to lay low, to blend in with the sick. And it’s only a few metres away from the reception.

Sato’s heartbeat hums in her ears as she makes her way forwards.

The inside of the emergency room gives no immediate clues as to where KID is. Staff come in and out of the room, and Sato looks at them with glaring scrutiny, trying to look for any signs of KID in their movements.

She looks for anyone wearing a bandage on their arm, an injury that’s easy to narrow in on. Sato turns, and there – is that Kuroba?

A girl with the similar hair colour as before. The same shape to her face. Could KID have created a brand-new disguise so quickly, if someone had been there to leave the objects? He could.

Sato’s eyes flicker to the girl’s arm – no bandages.

It’s still suspicious, she looks so similar to the disguise Sato had just been pointing out. Even as the girl stops, looking around the room, as if searching for a family member.

Sato’s going to talk to her. She’s too suspicious.

“Yuno-chan!”

The girl turns her head, glancing towards an elderly couple who’s waving her over. “We’re over here, my love.”

Sato’s gaze weighs onto the elderly couple, but there’s nothing strange with them. One is in a wheelchair, and the other is sat beside her, although he stands up as the girl makes her way towards them.

Not KID, Sato thinks, turning back to the rest of the department. She’ll just have to keep searching.


They leave through the front entrance of the hospital.

Jii pushes the wheelchair. Aoko holds her grandmother’s hand, as they make their way to the machines to pay for parking. As Jii leaves to get the ticket renewed, she leans down to Kaito, trying not to laugh at the disguise he’s wearing.

“You’ve certainly aged,” Aoko says, looking across at him.

“I feel very wise,” he replies, not bothering to disguise his voice this time. There’s no one around after all, there’s no point in it. “Although I must say, I prefer being a teenager.”

Watching a deep, young male voice come out of the mouth of an elderly woman is too much for Aoko to bear. She burst into giggles, wipes tears away from her eyes.

“Of course, you do,” Aoko whispers, “I prefer you that way to.”

And then, before Kaito can say anything she adds: “If you’re feeling wiser, maybe you know the difference between you and KID now, then?”

The smile Kaito had been wearing is quickly replaced with a grimace. Exasperation melds into the curve of his eyebrows, the scrunching of his nose.

“…I don’t.”

“You do,” Aoko says now, standing up. It’s soft this time, when she states that he does. “But maybe not consciously. That’s fine, I don’t mind telling you now.”

Kaito lets out a deep breath. “What’s the difference?”

“When you were KID,” Aoko says, reaching down with her hand to interlock her fingers with his once more, “you only pushed people away. You didn’t want to get them involved in everything, so you were so distant. And you… you never asked me for help in anything.”

“Aoko…”

“But as Kaito… when we met again at your house, you didn’t push me away, you asked for help.”

“I didn’t–”

She squeezes his hand, and says, “you asked me to deliver a heist notice. That was helping. Listen, I know it’s not much, but it was a difference and it means a lot to me.”

Kaito bites his lip.

Aoko decides she can’t push it, not here in the car park. She steps away, lets their hands drop, and waits until Jii leads them back to the car. Then, after they’ve buckled Kaito in one of the back seats, they fold the wheelchair up and throw it in the trunk.

Aoko joins Kaito in the back. And as the car roars to life, she reaches forward to peel away the disguise they’d hastily applied to his face.

He looks much better like himself.

“Wait,” Kaito says, as he watches the hospital go out of view. He turns, “Aoko – you disguise wasn’t as defined as Jii’s… if they run your face on facial recognition… they’ll know it was you.”

Aoko offers him a smile, “I know.”

“You’ll be… Aoko, they’ll catch you.” He seems panicked now, pale as he leans forward to look at her. “Your freedom.”

“I told you yesterday,” Aoko says, leaning forward and lifting his chin up so she’s looking in his eyes, “you’re not going to like what happens next. And yet, here we are.”

Kaito glances away, guilty. “Why would you…?”

“You said I could have it, no matter how broken it was,” Aoko says, leaning a hand down to put it over his chest, listening to the heart beat. “Well, you can have mine in return.”

“Maybe,” Kaito says, “but you didn’t need to–”

“Kaito,” Aoko says, trying not to let too much emotion filter into her voice. “I did. You think that if I were free and you the only one running from police, then they wouldn’t use me as a way to get to you?”

“You didn’t have to do this for me.” Kaito says, although now, she can see a faint glimmer in his eye, as if he’s glad that she did. Despite all the worry that she’s probably already brought him.

She reaches forward, cups his head up and brings her lips to his. Kaito lips, slightly parted, lift upwards into a smile as she presses against them, the two of them smiling, as she wraps her arms around his neck.

Aoko feels breathless in a new way, like the adrenaline from the heist they’ve just completed is electrifying her body, and she knows that Kaito’s probably feeling the same.

She wants more, but she leans back anyway. There will be time for more later, but now, she settles for shuffling back in her seat, leaning her head on his shoulder.

“I didn’t,” Aoko admits, “but I don’t want to be free if you can’t have it too.”

Chapter Text

“You know,” Shinichi says, following Shiho as she leads him to their new meeting place, and the older sister that is waiting for them, “for a meeting that’s supposed to make me trust you, you and your sister aren’t doing a very good job.”

Shiho does not respond. She does however, glance back at him, eyes scanning the street behind him. It’s the same kind of glance that Shinichi is accustomed to throwing around the area, brimming with paranoia and a heavy worry that something’s going to go incredibly wrong pushing down on his shoulders.

“We want to make sure you weren’t followed.” Shiho says. “…Or that you didn’t bring anyone with you.”

Shinichi lifts a hand, fingers brushing against the bandages around his neck and shudders. Bringing people with him, he can accept as a concern, but the idea of people following him…

“No one’s following me,” he says, resisting his own urge to look behind him. “If anyone were to see me, I’d either be arrested or dead.”

Shiho glances at him, wide-eyed and pale. She says, “it depends on who’s watching you. If they’re watching, then there’s a third option that’s worse than both of those.”

“What’s that?” Shinichi breathes.

“They wait.” She turns the corner, cutting through a small alleyway. The walls seem to loom over them, blocking out more sunlight than should be feasibly possible. Shinichi feels like he’s drowning in the shadows.

“They wait,” Shiho continues, “until they have every piece of information on you possible. And then, when there’s no more use for you, they’ll make a sport out of hunting you down. Seeing you cornered and–”

She doesn’t need to finish, Shinichi knows what she means. It’ll be a slow death, he knows, if they catch him before he can catch them. This time when he lifts his hand up to his bandage, he digs his nails into the fabric, until he can feel the scabs on his neck throbbing.

“Well,” he says after a second, “what a good thing we’re not being followed, then. Right?”


“I’ve got it.”

Ran turns, glances towards Saguru. She’s been sat on his floor for a while now, waiting for him to grab whatever information she can. Looking back over old case files, she’s been highlighting important concepts in green, things they need to investigate further orange, and things that she simply doesn’t understand in red.

There’s a lot of red.

Crime scene photos are painful to look at but Ran forces herself. Saguru’s added to his previous files, has printed off the photographs from the newest crime scene. Numabuchi’s body is displayed from various angles, still as gruesome as when they’d both made their way to the scene themselves.

Ran still has so many questions. But now, she pushes them down as deep as she can, looks over to Saguru.

“You’ve got what?” She asks.

Saguru offers her a smile, wide-eyed and sleep deprived. He says, “I got an address. Not the fake that’s been placed into the police database, but the one linked to Oogami’s bank statements.”

She swallows her nerves. Ran knows this isn’t what they usually do, but there’s a part of her that understands Saguru’s side of things. Because, well, this is Shinichi, and Ran’s pretty sure there isn’t a thing she wouldn’t do for him.

“Okay,” she whispers, standing to look at the computer screen. She glances at the address that Saguru’s highlighted, blinking at the sight. It’s so near, on the outskirts of Ginza. “What do we do with that information.”

Saguru is quiet. He says, “we can’t go to the police.”

Of course, they can’t. Ran’s known since they’d analysed Numabuchi’s murder that she couldn’t trust the police, not when they should never have let the prisoner disappear in the first place. Something just doesn’t… bode well because of that.

But even then, had that been the first time Ran had considered herself untrusting of the police force? Or with the justice system as a whole? Hadn’t she had her doubts when Shinichi’s sentence had been harsher than it should have been, a death penalty for someone who’s crimes weren’t worthy of death, but simply a lengthy sentence?

“I know that,” Ran says, glancing away. The address is already burned into her skull. “But what do we do with this information?”

“We investigate,” Saguru says, pushing away from his desk, standing. He rubs exhaustion from his eyes, scrawls the address onto a post-it note and nods his head. “We investigate the fake.”

Ran bites into her lip. How do they go about investigating something the justice system is complicit in – well, maybe not all the police… And how do they go about changing things when they finally have the evidence? They’ll have to figure that out when they’ve got said evidence.

Right now, it doesn’t matter how they report the evidence, doesn’t matter who they tell. They don’t have the proof.

“Sure,” Ran says, “let’s get going.”


They make their way to the Blue Parrot.

The billiards parlour is closed until evening. It’s nothing out of the norm, Aoko had forced Jii to promise he wasn’t changing any of his usual routine. He’d insisted that since Kaito’s arrest, there hadn’t been much point in opening early. They’d been the only two teenagers that had shown up during the daytime to play.

Now, his patrons are mostly adults, and his business strictly bound by night hours. As sad as the change to his business makes her, filling Aoko with a strange melancholy, it’s useful for them. It means that when they get ready to sneak Kaito into the building, there’s no customers waiting for them inside.

They loop the camera feed to Jii’s bar, and help Kaito inside, assisting him as he settles into one of the seats, leaning against the counter. He looks more awake now, the drugs working their way out of his system, but Aoko knows he’ll need more pain medication soon.

Maybe not as much, if Aoko knows Kaito, then he’ll insist on a lower dose. He’s always been the sort of person who’d decide on keeping some pain, if he also stays in full control of his thoughts. Aoko knows he values clear thoughts and pain, over a foggy mind and a numb body.

“So, what now?” he asks, as soon as they’re all sat down.

Aoko slips into a seat beside him, watches Jii as he makes his way towards the bar, grabbing at the glasses. He sets three down, alcohol for himself and soft drinks for them both.

“There’s a storage room upstairs,” Jii says. From the way Kaito’s mouth quirks upwards, he’s probably accustomed to such storage room. “The two of you are free to stay here as long as you want. But you’ll have to head up soon, if you are, because we’ll have customers in soon.”

Aoko pulls a face, but she already knows that they’re going to stand out if anyone comes inside. It’s not too late yet, but getting upstairs, and comfortable before people get ready to arrive is always better than leaving their retreat upstairs until the last moment.

And even then, Aoko’s pretty sure she and Kaito need some time to simply talk, to figure out what they’re going to do from here. She has a few ideas, questions that she wants to go into, but that can wait. She can see from Kaito’s expression that he wants to ask her things in return, and so she’ll wait her turn.

“How about we head up then?” She suggests. Jii offers her a glance, a quick nod and watches as she takes a step nearer to Kaito helping him up. The bullet had only grazed him, she knows, and he can walk perfectly fine, but Aoko wants to take this opportunity to support him.

“…Sure,” Kaito says. He turns to Jii, offers a grin and says, “have you got any ice cream we can take up with us?”

Why a billiards parlour would have ice cream is beyond her, but Aoko doesn’t question Kaito’s request. Instead, she watches as Jii brightens, lifts a finger that urges them to wait just a little while longer and turns around.

He heads into a back room, comes back with a tub of chocolate ice cream and two spoons.

“It’s almost like I was expecting you back here young master,” Jii says, as he hands Aoko the ice cream. The tub has frost covering it, etched all around it. Aoko can feel her hands freezing already, wet from the way it’s already melting against clammy hands.

It doesn’t take a detective to realise that this tub… it’s been in the freezer for a while. It’s most certainly not new. If Jii had been expecting Kaito to come back, then it had probably been either when Kaito had been imprisoned, or in the first few days of escaping.

(How Jii could have gotten that information though, she’s not sure. Although, some element of her doesn’t doubt that he’d find a way to stay in the know, anyway.)

“You’re on ice cream protection duty,” Kaito breathes, as he stands, offering her a wild smile. Aoko smiles back. “Let’s head up, alright?”

Aoko nods. They’ve got a lot they need to work through.


“What’s th’ rush Heiji?” Kazuha complains as they arrive at her house, Heiji all but rushing inside, hardly giving her the time to swap her shoes for slippers. Only years of dealing with Heiji’s impatience gives her the ability to swap shoes while practically being dragged inside.

Heiji glances back at her. He says, “I need to know something.”

“Heiji,” Kazuha says, grabbing his arm and pulling him back. She raises an eyebrow, ignores the restless energy that’s simmering in his muscles, the tenseness to him that shows how he wants to move. “Tha’ phone isn’t goin’ anywhere.”

He almost sends her a glare but stops himself. It’s not Kazuha’s fault he feels so impatient. Sure, the evidence isn’t going anywhere, and yes, no one even knows they’re in possession of it, so there’s no risk there but – but he’s been wanting to crack into his case for months now and a lead could finally be in front of him…

“I know,” Heiji responds. “But this is important.”

“That’s exactly why we can’t rush these things Heiji,” she says. Heiji follows her eyes gaze towards the sitting room. They’re lucky that Kazuha’s mother isn’t sat inside, is probably outside working on the garden, or else they would have already been noticed.

“Kazuha,” Heiji sighs. “I need t’ know.”

“You’re so stubborn sometimes, ya know?” She shakes her head. “I thought ya were supposed to be smart, but maybe I need t’ explain this in a way ya can understand.”

Heiji does not want any explanations thrown his way unless they’re deductions. And even then, he only wants them if they’re relating to this case. He crosses his arms, rolls his eyes and waits for the explanation.

“Wha’ we’re doin’ here…” Kazuha states, “is illegal. This isn’t like all th’ previous investigations I’ve followed ya on before, this is one where we need to be subtle. People find out tha’ we’re lookin’ into things, and we either end up in prison or dead.”

Heiji knows that. He understands, it’s why he’d settled on walking home with Kazuha at a slower pace, why he’d only started to speed up once they were inside the house.

“I know tha–”

“No Heiji,” Kazuha says, “I don’t think you do. Remember – we’re keepin this from everyone. That includes, my dad, the chief detective, that lives here.”

Heiji frowns. “Your dad’s at work.”

“But his wife isn’t.” Kazuha says. “And my parents talk Heiji. Ya think they won’t act questions if they realise we’re acting weirdly? And I may be lyin’ to them by omitting the truth, but I won’t lie to their faces.”

Of course, it’s something that Heiji hadn’t really considered. He knows that he’s been keeping things from his own father, but that’s… he’s not as close to his father as Kazuha is with her. Heiji had kept his plans to himself, never holding any evidence, nothing around that could be found by others.

But now, they have tangible evidence, a physical link to Kudo, and they can’t risk anything. That includes keeping up a façade, even when they’re in their own homes.

Heiji wonders how stressed Kazuha is about this. He should have ensured there was no chance she got involved in the first place.

He shouldn’t be thinking about what ifs, they can’t change things now.

A sigh. “I’m sorry. I – Whenever I get a lead ya kno’ I get so…”

“I know,” Kazuha says. “But we need to blend in as well. We’ll greet my mum, then, we’ll head up to th’ phone. Okay?”

Heiji nods.


The storage room is double the size of Aoko’s living room, but it feels smaller. There are crates from deliveries stacked within the room, alcohol that goes in the bar when they need it. Surely it would make more sense to have these crates downstairs, for easy access?

Kaito must see her expression, because he explains for her. He says, “this is where Jii stores the alcohol that’s more expensive. That way, if anyone tries to grab any from the other storage room, he doesn’t suffer too much for it.”

Aoko nods. They shuffle past the crates lining the room, down a thin pathway. It’s almost like a maze, except they are heading in, instead of trying to find an exit. Her fingers brush against the crates, memorising the route although it’s not very far.

“It’s just past here,” Kaito says. He’s been up here before, and as they squeeze past the final crate, she starts to wonder why he’d had to stay here before. The result of a heist going wrong? Or simply because he’d been curious once and had decided to head up. “I’ll get some light in here.”

He moves forward, unsteady on his feet. Aoko feels tempted to follow him, but she can’t see well enough to promise herself that she won’t trip.

Seconds later, a small electric lantern lights the room. It’s not overly bright; It’s gives the same amount of light as a smouldering flame, faint but enough that she can still make out the vivid blue of Kaito’s eyes.

“Come sit down,” Kaito says, and then, more indignantly, “I want that ice cream, so you kind of have to sit, you know.”

She would punch him, if he weren’t already injured. But he is, and Aoko doesn’t want to argue with him right now, is just glad to have him in the same room. She says, “you don’t have to be rude about it.”

A smirk. Kaito says, “I know, but ice cream.”

For a moment, it almost feels like before. As Aoko sits beside him on a small mattress – no frame, but the mattress alone is enough – she bumps his shoulder, offers a smile as she deposits the tub of ice cream into his lap.

Ignoring Kaito’s resulting cry of ‘I-it’s so cold’, Aoko turns her gaze to the little room that’s present within the storage crates. There’s the mattress they’re sat on, pillows at one end and a pile of blankets on the other. Across from them is two chairs, and a mini water cooler, a tower of plastic cups beside it.

The lantern sits on a small coffee table. One of the legs is a few centimetres smaller than the other three, because the surface is uneven, the lantern tilted but not enough to worry about it falling.

It’s like a little bedroom, and Aoko finds it beautiful.

“I never thought a storage room could feel so calming,” she mutters, watching with a smile as Kaito lifts one of the spoons from her hold. He’s opened the tub and tries to dig his spoon into the ice cream.

He proceeds to frown. The ice cream is like a block; He’s going to have to wait for it to melt a little, for it to become softer.

“Jii set it up a while back, with some heists I’d be too tired to go back home immediately, so I’d stay here and head home early the next morning.” He voice is soft, reminiscent. “I’m surprised he kept it the same.”

Aoko doesn’t know much about Jii, but she understands the want to keep hold of a memory.

“Ugh,” he says, “I’m going to need to wait for this to melt, aren’t I?”

Kaito places the ice cream on the floor, reseals it and leaves his spoon on the top. Aoko follows suit with her own spoon and turns to him. In turn, he glances at her, tilts his head.

“We need to talk,” Aoko says. Part of her just wants to sit back and talk about ice cream, and what exactly they mean to each other now, how much she’s missed seeing him in class every day, but another element of her knows they have more pressing matters to think about.

Like what to do now.

“Right,” Kaito says. He nods his head, and then, there is a light frown, as if he’s finally cleared his thoughts on something. “You… You could have still stayed with me, without giving your identity up. Now there’s no going back, the police–”

Aoko closes her eyes. She should have known he’d be caught up on this.

“It’s not about the police, Kaito.” She moves her fingers to the space between them, Kaito’s meet hers, intertwined. “I could have stayed behind, and the police wouldn’t have thought for a single moment I were involved. I know that.”

“Then why?”

She feels strangely disconnected. Aoko says, “this is the best way I know of keeping everyone safe. The people who shot you, they – they were going to shoot me.”

Kaito takes a deep breath. He remains quiet.

“And I… at first, I thought if I broke you out, that would be enough. I could pretend everything was normal again.” Aoko pauses, hesitates with the words. “But they tried to shoot me. And you took that bullet instead – you saved me, but in return, you showed them that I was someone you cared about.”

When she opens her eyes, there is something like guilt on Kaito’s face.

“I’m a weakness, and we both know that if you were freed, they would come for me.” Aoko takes a breath. “Maybe not immediately, but they would. Because I’m someone you risked your life to save.”

Now, Kaito tries to move his hand away. Aoko doesn’t let him, squeezes until he stops trying.

“The best chance of making sure they didn’t get to me was this.” Aoko says. “If I were to disappear, they’d go to dad to see where I am. But if I let the police realise they’re after me, then it’s not just the police that’s searching for me, but dad too. And he’ll be safe.”

Aoko offers a smile. It’s a mixture of sad and happy.

“Plus, it means I get to stay with you,” she whispers, “which is always an added plus.”

Kaito shakes his head. He says, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I didn’t do anything I wasn’t prepared for.” Aoko leans down, grabs the ice cream. It’s still difficult to get any out, still frozen, but she persists until she’s got spoon full. The taste is like frozen cocoa, nice, but she’s certain it would be better if it was hot. With marshmallows.

“Anyway,” she continues, “we need to decide what to do next. Do you have any ideas?”

Kaito grabs his own spoon, digs his own slither of ice cream from the tub. His expression is far more content at the coldness against his tongue. He takes a moment, simply enjoying the sweetness before speaking. He says, “I want to go back to the museum, see if we can get any information on the guys who shot me.”

It’s not an idea that sits well with her. Aoko feels nervous at the concept, going back to the place she’d almost died in… to the place she could have just as easily lost Kaito at…

Aoko isn’t sure she wants to.

“Is that the best idea though…?” She asks, waiting to see if there’s any shift in Kaito’s expression. She hesitates.

“Well, eventually, I want to get back to Shinichi,” Kaito says. Aoko grimaces at the idea. “But I don’t want to go back until I can offer some sort of information. I want to know the kind of resources they have.”

“And going back to the museum gives us that?”

A nod. “We got back to the museum, find out where they shot from and search for any evidence from there.”

It’s risky. Includes evading not only the police but those who clearly want Kaito dead – or out of the picture. But still, it’s riskier to forgo gathering the information at all. Every piece of data they collect will lower the possibility of someone gaining the upper hand.

Aoko breathes out a sigh. Nods her head. She says, “alright.”


The fake Oogami lives opposite a café.

While Saguru squints, trying to see which apartment is the one they’ve got to keep an eye on, Ran glances towards the shop window, notices an open booth. It’s not the busiest of cafes, but there are enough people that they won’t stand out in anyone’s memories.

“Saguru-kun,” Ran says, nodding towards the building, “why don’t we keep watch inside. I brought a notebook, we could pretend we’re studying.”

Saguru nods. Ran lets out a sigh of relief, wanting nothing more than to just sit down and process the latest information in her mind. The murderer who framed Shinichi lives across the street from where she’s about to order green tea. A shiver runs down her spine.

“Come on,” she says, the two of them not moving fast enough to settle her nerves.

The café is an old one, accompanied by an older woman stood behind the counter, her hair greying with age. Ran points towards the booth she’d sat at previously, tells Saguru to sit and turns to the woman behind the counter, ordering them both tea.

Ran pays, receives her change and is urged to sit down, told that one of the staff will bring the drinks over in a few seconds. With a smile, offering a cheery ‘thank you’, she does exactly that, sitting opposite Saguru in the booth.

Bringing her notebook from her bag, she places it on the table, opens it to a blank page, writing kanji down for what she’d recently learned in her Japanese literature classes. It’s better to have some words on the page filled, Ran thinks, before she and Saguru start talking about the case.

That way, they’ll be able to pretend she’s inquiring about grammar, or whether she’s got the right kanji. Saguru however, seems to have his gaze fixed the window, looking the part of a friend who’s been forced to a study session without wanting to be there.

(It seems very… bizarre, when placed against his usual personality.)

“Two green teas.” Their teas are brought to them just as Ran’s scrawled enough kanji to fill half of her page. She glances up, only to be greeted with an expression that is less than pleased.

Their waitress, it seems, is the standoffish type. The feeling she gives off is not one Ran usually associates with those working in hospitality. She’s got short brown hair, barely covering her ears, with a straight box fringe. Around her right eye, the woman has the edge of a butterfly wing tattooed in red.

“Thank you,” Saguru says, for them both. He reaches forward to remove the teapot and the cups from the tray the waitress has brought them both. As soon as he has, the woman takes the tray back, and heads away.

Ran watches her from the corner of her eye, before turning away, deciding that a rude waitress is nothing to bother with. Not in the grand scheme of things.

“Here,” Saguru says, stealing her attention, holding out a cup for her. He’s filled it for her, and white wisps of stream rise from the rim.

“Thanks,” Ran says, with a smile, settling back into her seat. “I think I need it.”


After a brief conversation with Kazuha's mother, Heiji finally manages to convince her to head upstairs. Kazuha supposes it’s the most she can ask for. She grabs Shinichi’s phone from her sock drawer, hands it over and sits on her bed, waiting as he powers it on.

“What are you thinking?” Kazuha says. She knows his idea relates to the organisation not being as hidden, but she doesn’t see how it relates to the phone.

“I wanted to check th’ photos, to make sure I ain’t wrong.” Heiji says, crossing his arms. He takes a moment, only continuing when he notices Kazuha waving her hand, urging him to carry on his explanation. “But I think th’ only evidence worth payin’ attention to in these photo’s is tha’ alcohol label.”

Kazuha tilts her head, tries to think it through. The pictures, she’s pretty sure they’re seared into her memory – she’s certain she wouldn’t need to see them again to explain every detail – had only held one difference between what was sent through the image and seen at the crime scene. The alcohol label.

“Right,” she says, “but we already know abou’ th’ alcohol label. Of course, it was hidin’ in plain sight.”

“Not just th’ label itself Kazuha,” Heiji says. “I think th’ alcohol label is a front, right. Th’ group tha’ framed Kudo are usin’ it as a front. So – so, shouldn’t we look into the chain of liqueur stores?”

“Right,” Kazuha says. She points towards her laptop, “you kno’ my password. Get going.”

Heiji scrambles across to it, throwing the phone onto the bed beside Kazuha in his haste to grab her laptop. Kazuha takes a second to switch the phone off, popping it back in her drawer, before joining him by her desk. Listening to Heiji tap against the keys on her keyboard.

First, Heiji types the alcohol chain into the laptop, glances at the thousands of responses. There’s mostly news about the new regulations they’ve brought in, advertising for various answers.

“Try getting th’ more business-related facts down,” Kazuha says. Heiji does, retyping into the search bar, blinking as the results go down by a couple thousand.

He clicks into the official site.

Kazuha spares him a glance, before tearing her gaze back to her computer screen. She lifts her finger, uncertain what to say, before lifting her finger to the drop menu, where one of the options reads ‘our story’.

Heiji clicks into it.

And they read over the company’s history for about twenty seconds before they both grow bored. Heiji scrolls down, skimming, as Kazuha searches for any information on the page that could help.

They both freeze at the same time.

“There,” Heiji says, and Kazuha swallows, nerves running frantic. She nods, staring at the link. “That.”

The pair hold their breath, and Heiji clicks onto a link labelled, ‘notable sponsors’.


“We’re here,” Shiho says, at last, pushing open the doors to what must be the shadiest café Shinichi has ever had the misfortune of laying his eyes on. As a teen detective, he’s seen his own fair share of shady areas, but this is on a different level.

The staff seem to be paid not to serve, but simply to avert their eyes to anyone entering the area. There are no welcomes, like at other cafes, and Shinichi follows behind Shiho, feeling for the life of him, that he might possibly be the only person who doesn’t belong in a place like this.

Although, with his current label of serial killer, he might well belong here more than anyone else.

He doesn’t want to think about it.

“You say your sister is in here?” Shinichi says. He can’t doubt the older Miyano for wanting to meet somewhere inconspicuous, like this, but it also fills him with worry. She’d waited here, alone? This café seems to dangerous to lay down your guard and arrive alone.

“She is,” Shiho says, and her voice has softened slightly. Shinichi suspects that it’s not due to a growing warmth towards him, but rather, an already present adoration for her older sister. “In here.”

There’s a side room, and Shiho steps inside, urging Shinichi inside. He does, gaze searching for sight of Miyano Akemi.

At the table towards the end, she sits, talking to a man wearing a beanie, pulled down over dark hair. Not alone then. Definitely not alone, since she’s got this male guest, and her younger sister with her. Shinichi’s hand reaches back for the door – it was stupid to come here, he should have stayed with Hattori and Kazuha, what a stupid idea – before coming to a stop.

“Come on then,” Shiho says, turning back to watch him. She raises an eyebrow at his tense shoulders, at the hand that’s slinking backwards towards the door handle, before shaking her head. “You don’t know the way back. The best thing to do now, is hear us through.”

Shinichi submits. He steps forward, shuffling to the seat opposite Akemi. Shiho slips into the seat beside her sister. Three on one side, and Shinichi on the other.

“You came.” Akemi says now, a thankful smile on her face. Of the three, Shinichi assumes she is the most trustable. But even still, he doesn’t feel like she’s particularly trustworthy. Not anymore.

“I’m starting to think I shouldn’t have,” Shinichi says. He glances around the bar, for any exits and finds that the door they entered in is the only one. There is a window just past their table, but he’d have to move past Akemi, and that exit plan seems to be less likely to succeed.

“You’ll be glad you did,” Akemi says, “trust me.”

Shinichi offers a glance that seems to broadcast that any trust for her is going to be difficult to gain. The most she’ll get within this meeting is scepticism.

“Either way,” Akemi says, “I have to admit. I lied when I said I wanted to talk to you. I mean – you can help us a lot, yeah. But… But I’m not the one who has things to discuss.”

Shinichi lifts his fingers to his neck. He rests them against the bandage, forces himself to keep them there and not to dig into his throat. Akemi frowns at the movement, concerned.

“Him then.” Shinichi concludes.

“Yes,” Akemi nods. She glances towards the man beside her, the two sharing a conversation with only a glance. The man nods, and with that, Akemi says, “this is Shuuichi Akai. He’s with the FBI.”

Shinichi stills.

Panic spreads through him almost immediately. His heart feels like it’s going to collapse from the sudden shift in pressure, chambers threatening to collapse. He feels almost faint.

“The… FBI.”

Akai speaks now. He says, “I’m investigating the same organisation that we believe you were investigating, before you were framed.”

Shinichi presses his lips together. He says, “the FBI believes I’m innocent?”

A nod. It’s small, but present, and Shinichi strangles the hope that starts to build inside of him before it can grow too much, because he’s not to certain that this isn’t just a trick.

“The evidence suggests so.” Akai says. “I was sent undercover to infiltrate the organisation, to collect evidence for arrests. I made contact with Akemi, who was looking to defect from the organisation.”

Shinichi glances towards the woman. She doesn’t look like the sort to be part of such an organisation. But then again, most successful criminals, like the kind he’d been investigating, are usually those who appear as anything but.

Akai continues, “I was discovered and had to leave my undercover mission, but I’ve continued working on the case. A few months ago, Akemi managed to contact me, and we came up with a method of escape.”

Yes, and interesting story, but where does Shinichi fit into this?

“We’ve been forced to lay low,” Shiho says, from the side, “because the FBI agent that was meant to meet us to help us leave the country was killed at Tokyo docks.”

Akemi sends her sister a harsh look, something that tells the girl to let Akai explain. She quietens, although Shiho doesn’t seem pleased to be doing so.

“As you can see,” Akai continues, almost as if Shiho hadn’t spoken at all, “the escape was successful. It was then that both sisters decided to give us all the information they could remember.”

Shinichi narrows his eyes. “Right.”

“You were part of that information.” Akemi cuts in. “I overheard that woman – Vermouth – boasting about how they’d managed to frame you, influencing the judge so you’d be given the death sentence.”

And since she’d boasted such a thing, they had cause to think he was innocent. How strange, to learn that Vermouth, the woman who’d warned him against continuing the case lest he be killed, had been the one who’d started the timer on to his own death.

“I still don’t understand what that has to do with this meeting.” Shinichi rubs the back of his neck. “I’m innocent. So, what?”

“The organisation usually kills those that look into them.” Shiho says. It’s a brutal honesty, something that causes Shinichi to flinch. “But they didn’t shoot you dead. They framed you instead.”

“I’m perfectly aware of what they did–”

“There must be a reason for it.” Akai says. “Our working theory is that they decided to make everyone suspicious of you, rather than outright kill you, because you had evidence that they couldn’t locate. Something that would point straight to them.”

Well, Shinichi had. Kind of. There had never been a lot of information, but he’d had a warning to keep every piece of evidence he’d gathered hidden somewhere nobody could find.

Vermouth had warned him.

Vermouth…. Where does she fit into all of this?

Shinichi crosses his arms. “And with them suspicious of me, thinking I’d killed those people… they’d be able to kill me without anyone finding the evidence.”

It’s incredibly jarring, but the reasoning fits.

“The FBI thinks – no, we think – that if we combine our evidence and yours, then we’ll have a higher likelihood of making mass arrests and taking this organisation down for good.”

Shinichi does want that. He’s never been the sort to want revenge, but he does. He wants to solve this case and send the criminals to prison, make sure they never see freedom again.

Strip their freedom away like they’d done so easily with his.

Shinichi hates this side of his, the anger he feels mingling with all the self-doubt and fear. He doesn’t want it, and yet, it festers. He sighs, not quite realising he’s done so out loud.

“You’d get something out of it,” Akai says, and Shinichi glances towards him, uncertain. “The FBI is offering to make you a deal.”

Chapter Text

He’s not sure why the offer of a deal fills him with dread.

Maybe because Shinichi hasn’t been offered something that doesn’t come with a hidden backlash in a long time. For a moment, he is still, wondering whether it’s some sort of trick to install a fake sense of security in him. Then, he decides that he can worry over it when he’s got more information.

“What kind of deal?” Shinichi says.

He turns, looks around the room and finds nothing. Simply paranoia? Do they want him to keep talking so that they can bring people to capture him, lead him away to his death in handcuffs again?

Fuck. When did trusting people become so hard?

“If you help us,” Akai says, “then we’ll help you. There’s a free space in the witness protection programme. If you want to take it after all of this, it’s yours.”

Witness protection.

Shinichi lifts his hand to his neck, digs his nails into the bandages and scrapes them down. There’s so much there, he isn’t sure whether he should unravel it now. Would he want to live in witness protection for the rest of his life? Give up who he is as Kudo Shinichi to…

“I’ll help you,” Shinichi says. “I don’t know if I want to go into witness protection, but… but I’ll help you.”

He forces his hand down, ignores the welling of blood he can feel. Already, he can see Kazuha in his mind telling him off for scratching again. Kazuha–

Two names of people who’d been helping him. A trick, this could all be a trick for those names. If they ask for names of accomplices, then the only one he can possibly give is Kaito’s. After all, he’s the only one who’s been confirmed as an accomplice.

“I’ll help you,” Shinichi continues, “but we do this my way.”

“You need us more than we need you Kudo,” Shiho says, leaning forward. Her eyes are narrowed, as if judging him. Shinichi refuses to let her intimidate him, because, realistically, isn’t he the one with the evidence they need?

“Shiho–”

Akai puts a hand on Akemi’s shoulder, as if saying it’s alright for the younger Miyano to speak. Then, he says, “We do things in a way we can both agree on. We need to trust one another.”

“I’ll work with you.” Shinichi says, “but the people I work with, they won’t be involved. I’m not implicating them any more than they already are.”

Akai nods his head. He says, “You don’t want us to know who they are? That’s fine, we won’t ask for you to explicitly tell us.”

Shinichi narrows his eyes. “I won’t tell you inexplicitly either. If you start looking into them, then I’ll pull back and we’ll all go underground.”

Well, he’s not certain Hattori and Kazuha would disappear from their day-to-day lives, and Shinichi know she’s unwilling to drop the case, not now, but there would be some sort of disappearing act from them all.

There’s some sort of bluff here, Shinichi knows, but he wonders if they can read into it.

“We don’t need to go looking to know that Kuroba Kaito was an accomplice,” Akai says. “And seeing as Nakamori Aoko broke him out from hospital this morning, it’s clear to say she’s an accomplice too.”

Shinichi schools his expression into something unreadable. Nakamori Aoko? Hadn’t Kaito mentioned how she hated him after she’d learned about his other identity?

It’s a question for another time, he supposes. Something for when he finds Kaito again. If he finds Kaito again.

He says, “Well, if you know KID, he’s very good at disappearing acts. As his best friend, Nakamori-san probably knows how to do a pretty good job of it too.”

Akai dips his head in a nod. Shinichi wonders if the man knows anything else, whether he’s suspicious about whether they were working with anyone else.

“We suspected as such,” Akemi says.

Shinichi takes a moment to consider his next move and stands up instead. He says, “I’ll need to go and make copies of my evidence and get it to you. Is there a way I can contact you?”

“We’ve got a burner phone for you,” Akai says, and leans into a bag, pulling out a phone. “The numbers are inside.”

Sure, Shinichi thinks. A lot more could be inside. A tracker, something to log every key he pushes and capture all the numbers he phones. And oh – there’s no limit to what devices they could add.

Still, Shinichi offers a smile and takes the phone.

He’ll pick up another soon and transfer the number over. He won’t let them track him, follow him. He knows the organisation spreads over into the police force, who’s to say it won’t spread into the FBI?

Shinichi offers a small smile, nods to the trio and says, “I’ll let you all know when I’ve got all the evidence in one place.”


The museum is cordoned off when they arrive.

Not all of it. The lower floors are still open to the public, and it’s that entry point that they use to get inside. They use the wheelchair again, pushing clothes and disguise makeup into the cushion, so that when the guards look in Aoko’s purse, there is nothing suspicious to be found.

Not that they would. There’s little for security guards to suspect in an elderly woman, with long, greying hair, and her chair-bound husband. Especially not in those who’re completely complicit in the searches, with nothing to hide.

And if anyone notices the elderly man’s wince as he lifts his arm to take his wife’s bag and hold onto it for her, then, they’re not going to assume it’s anything other than arthritis.

“Upstairs,” Kaito says to her, his voice morphing into a mixture of rugged and frail. “There’s a wonderful exhibit upstairs.”

It’s as they’re reaching the elevators that they realise it’s off-limits. The stairs are cordoned off, and the elevators won’t take them to the upper floors.

Aoko glances at Kaito. Waits for him to arch his neck and point towards the public restrooms.

They wheel the chair towards the disabled bathroom. Locking the door behind her, Aoko turns to Kaito. She says, “What now?”

There’s no way they’ll be able to climb upstairs, not in broad daylight, not when there are people making sure no one goes up. The elevators are down, and the outside is too… maybe at night they’re something they could climb, but now, it’s nigh impossible.

And even then, if they came back, they wouldn’t be able to climb. Aoko doubts Kaito could even make his way up without injuring his arm further.

“We find another way,” Kaito says. “I have an idea for it. I’ve spent a pretty long time coming up with routes around this museum.”

Of course.

He’s failed to leave this place twice now without being caught. Kaito probably only needs to look at the entrances to feel the sting of handcuffs around his wrists.

“What are you thinking?” Aoko says. Kaito jumps up from the wheelchair, makes his way towards the mirror, breathes close to it to fog it up. Then, with his pinkie finger, he draws a quick diagram on the mirror.

“This is the layout of the bottom floor,” Kaito says. As if it totally normal to go into a disabled bathroom and draw floorplans on a fogged-up mirror. “Just past the restaurant, there’s a staff elevator. Remember how when they opened the Cullinan diamond exhibit, they made it a full event? Brought up champagne and a buffet? They used that elevator to get up.”

Aoko remembers the exhibit, yes, but it is not the champagne and food she remembers. Either way, she nods.

“You used it to get up too, didn’t you?”

Kaito nods. He says, “if we can get past the restaurant staff, through the kitchen, then we can get to the staff elevator. Then, it’s just a manner of being in and out quickly enough that no one can catch us nosing around.”

Nodding her head, Aoko turns, looks back at the wheelchair. She says, “we’re going to have to leave the wheelchair behind then. If we go pushing you inside the kitchens in a wheelchair, it’s only going to bring attention.”

He sends her a grin. Then, “Of course, I know that. The disguises are going to have to go. The staff were all young last time I checked in the restaurant.”

The disguises would have to be scrapped – and with them, their clothes. They’re not the kind of thing young people would wear. How lucky that they’d thought ahead, bringing another pair of clothing for a younger disguise.

She grabs the pillow of the wheelchair, unzips it and pulls out the contents. Two pairs of jeans, each their size, and then a button up shirt for Kaito, and a light blouse for her. She places the clothes on the top of the chair, before reaching up to the mask she’s wearing.

She peels it off within seconds. It’s not designed to last, is designed to come off easily, rather than stick until solvent is used to pry it off. It rips around her nose, and Aoko peers through the foggy mirror, picking the final bits off.

Kaito follows suit, although he’s quicker than she is. Then, he removes the wig he’d been wearing, removes grey and a wig cap so his natural brown sits back in a mess around his hair.

Aoko removes her wig, looks at him and passes him his clothes.

“Aoko,” Kaito says, more serious than she’d been expecting him to be, as he leans forward and pushes the wig into the cushion, depositing the previous mask in the one of the bins. “I’ve got a small problem.”

Aoko waits, watches as Kaito lifts his uninjured arm, pointing at his bandaged one. She tilts her head, as if to force him to say the words and waits.

“I was shot.” Kaito says.

“Yes,” Aoko responds. She breathes out a small laugh. “You’ve spent so long with that detective, that now, your observational skills are outstanding.”

Kaito huffs, “it hurts to move my arm a lot. Can you help?”

Her expression softens, and Aoko dips her head, nodding. It’s the least she can do, since the injury is partly because of her. She steps towards him, unbuttoning the first two buttons before hesitating.

She flushes.

“Don’t make it weird,” Kaito mutters, under his breath. When her gaze flashes up to meet his though, she can see the faint smirk, a level of satisfaction in the gleam of his eyes.

Aoko narrows her eyes and says, “It’s not weird. If anything, you’re trying to make it weird.”

“Taking off my clothes isn’t weird?”

“Helping you isn’t weird,” Aoko presses the words out from between her teeth, unbuttoning the other buttons, until the shirt is open and all she can see is a – surprisingly toned chest. She should have expected it really, it’s Kaito, he steals gems and climbs buildings part time.

“You’re staring,” Kaito says.

She is. Aoko is completely and wholeheartedly staring, and part of her can’t find it in her to be ashamed at that. Then, she catches Kaito’s eye again – he’s not even bothering to hide the amusement now.

“I am not staring,” she huffs, haughty.

“Admiring?” Kaito says instead, a laugh rising in his throat. Aoko tugs off the sleeve of his bad arm, ignoring him. “Applauding?”

Aoko glares up at him. She says, “If you keep it up, I won’t help you.”

“Then I’ll just be the weirdo walking around the museum without a shirt on?” Kaito offers a pout. “That’ll blow our cover immediately. Only a criminal could be this defined.”

Her expression goes bland as Aoko pushes a new shirt at Kaito. She says, “I see that prison didn’t do much for that ego.”

“Escaping it helped me build it into something even better.”

“Shut up,” Aoko says, and finishes helping him. Then, she pushes Kaito’s jeans at him. He can do those, at least, by himself. Two hands aren’t necessary.

She flushes when he wags his eyebrows at her then, turns away with the absolute conviction that she will never help him again. She grabs her clothes – a jumper and a pair of jeans - and begins undoing her own buttons.

She pauses in on the fourth button when she feels eyes watching her. She looks over her eyes and is greeted with Kaito. Somehow, he’s already switched the trousers out for the new jeans. They hang folded on his good arm.

“A little bit of privacy, please?”

“We’re in a bathroom Aoko, I think this is about as private at it gets.” Kaito says. At her glower, he shrugs, “If I turn around, then I’ll be facing the mirror, and I’ll see everything anyway.”

“Look at the door,” Aoko says, “and nothing else. Don’t be a pervert.”

Kaito huffs, but still, she waits until he’s turned, staring at the door to finish getting changed.


They last all of three hours of fake – well, it’s real, in some context, isn’t it? – before Saguru leans forward and catches Ran’s attention. She looks up at him, pauses where she’s still recounting words she needs to remember for the test she’s made up, and lowers her pen.

“What?” Ran asks.

“We’re waiting to see if the fake comes home,” Saguru says. Something in his eye leaves Ran nervous – maybe it’s because there’s a mixture of desperation and cunning. A dangerous combination in those operating on a lack of sleep. “But they’re not in.”

“We just need to wait until they come back then.” Ran says.

Saguru fixes her with a look. Stern, as if he’s disappointed in her for not being able to see what he’s thinking. He’s quiet with his suggestion, “if there’s no one inside, then surely we can look for evidence.”

Ran’s gaze flickers around the café. There’s not a lot of patrons inside, it’s particularly dead. No one other than the two staff members – the old lady, and the tattooed waitress.

“You’re suggesting we break in to the fake’s apartment?” Ran whispers. She receives a nod. “Are you completely crazy?”

“Listen,” Saguru says. His voice is low, almost inaudible, “We’re operating under the assumption that the fake is impersonating Oogami constantly, living his life. This might just be somewhere the fake comes and goes to. They won’t necessarily show up.”

Ran stares. She shakes her head, busying herself with the tea she’s been sipping at. They’d gotten more, but this too, has gone cold. She drinks it anyway, nervousness forcing her to pause, find the right words.

“The risk if they do come back though–”

“We’re so close to the person who framed Kudo-kun,” Saguru says, and sure he has a point, but it doesn’t make Ran any calmer. Any more certain. “There’s so much information in there that we can interpret.”

What Ran thinks, is that they should take a breather and come back tomorrow. When Saguru isn’t sleep deprived, when he’s thinking properly, as himself, the Saguru that Ran knows.

What happened to following the rules. This feels like too much, even for them. It’s far too risky.

“Ran,” Saguru says, staring her in the eye. “This could be our chance to prove Kudo-kun’s innocence. If they ever catch him again, and we have this evidence, we can get a retrial.”

He’d still go back to prison, simply for breaking out, but he wouldn’t die.

“…I think this is a bad idea,” Ran says, but she doesn’t refuse. She follows him when he stands up, shoves her pen into her pocket, and puts her notebook back into her shoulder bag.

“Maybe it is,” Saguru says, as the door chimes on their exit. “But we’re so close. We’ll loop around to the back - we can’t stop now.”

Ran presses her lips together. It’s almost chilling how close they are to the end of this case, to the person who framed Shinichi.

But after that – after that, there are still going to be people in the police that they have to weed out. They’re close to a checkpoint, but not the finale of their case. She wonders if this is what Shinichi felt before whenever he’d been out solving cases.

“Okay,” Ran says. “Let’s go.”


The ‘notable sponsors’ list seems to take forever to load.

It’s just not quick enough, and Kazuha bites her lip as they wait, watches as Heiji’s leg jiggles, unable to stay still. They wait, and after a few seconds, Kazuha begins to worry that it won’t load, that her internet is down, or the list is a fake, something to track whoever is looking into her.

Shinichi’s paranoia seems to have spread. She almost wants to slam the laptop screen down.

“Heiji–”

“Give it time,” Heiji says. His brow furrowed, he stares at the laptop. It’s only when he repeats it again, under his breath, that Kazuha realises he’s talking to himself. “It’s a good idea, ya just need t’ give it time.”

Kazuha knows the words aren’t for her, but she follows them anyway. They wait in a tense silence, watching the screen, hoping for some splash of colour to grace them with something that’s gone purely white.

And then, it loads.

“Heiji–” Kazuha pauses, as names fill the page, glancing between alcohols and the sponsors for that brand. “Heiji, are you seeing what I am?”

“Yeah,” Heiji says. “It’s a list of names.”

Kazuha leans forward, scrolls down the list and takes a moment to take in all the names. Then, because there’s no way of knowing how long it will remain, she dives for Shinichi’s phone, grabbing the camera function to capture the list.

“I dunno how much we can trust th’ list,” Heiji says, “but I think that th’ person who killed those people, I think they wanted us to find it?”

Kazuha falls quiet. She doesn’t know what that means – does that… why would the person framing Shinichi want him to find this clue? Did that mean Shinichi had someone… offering information on the inside?

“We need t’ talk t’ Shinichi about this,” Kazuha says. “It was a message left for him, right? So, it’s gotta be somethin’ he’d understand.”


They leave the wheelchair folded up in the corner of the bathroom and head in the direction of the restaurant. They move in such a way, that it’s almost as if they’d never needed a wheelchair in the first place.

Which, Aoko supposes, is the point with disguises. Easily shed, capable of jumping from one to another. Even now, their new disguise is easy to remove. Makeup changing their skin tone, contour to make their cheekbones more prominent. No wig this time, but with brunettes so popular, simply changing their hairstyles helps a lot.

“Let’s get going,” Aoko says, eyes alert. Her gaze darts across the room, flittering between tourists, staff and security.

Kaito’s hand settles between her shoulder blades, fingers soft against the small of her back. He says, “If you’re so tense, watching everyone, it’s just going to capture attention.”

She knows that. But it’s difficult to remain calm and steady when she’s got not only her own freedom, but Kaito’s on the line. Yesterday, breaking him out of prison had been easier, if only because there was no other choice.

But here… now, they could walk away and neither of them would be worse off.

“I’m trying,” Aoko says, “but it’s difficult. I’m not – I’m new to this.”

“Let’s talk about something else then,” Kaito says, lowering his hand from her back. His fingers brush against hers, a silent question, but Aoko can’t risk answering it right now. She sends him a look.

His fingers curl back into his palm. He doesn’t seem bothered by it, but Aoko can’t read him. Especially not with this face.

“Okay,” Aoko says, “Something else. To focus on, to act natural…”

She can’t think of a topic, but that’s alright, Kaito’s got it at hand for her. He looks at her, and says, “In there, when we were getting changed, it wouldn’t have been perverted.”

“Watching me getting changed is one of the forefronts of a pervert,” Aoko responds, frowning.

“You watched me–”

“Different, I helped you.” Aoko huffs. God, she’d forgotten how irritating Kaito is, hasn’t spent any longer than a few hours with him at most since his imprisonment and now she’s preparing on… forever. Maybe. “It’s completely different.”

“Couples watch each other, they’re comfortable with that kind of thing.”

Oh. Oh, Aoko sees.

He’s gone for months, they kiss a few times and now he thinks he can forgo the entire… courting process. Well, wanted con-man or not, she’s not letting him off that easily.

“We’re not a couple,” Aoko says. She watches his expression, smirks at the flash of indignance that settles there. As he opens his mouth to respond she turns, acts as if she’s appreciating one of the fossils inside the glass casing.

“What do you mean we’re not a couple?” Kaito asks, his voice low. They continue down through the exhibit, nearing the end, where a pair of oak, panelled doors have been held open, leading into the restaurant. “We– I– you–

“Well,” Aoko says, the tone slightly teasing, “For one, you never asked. Plus, I’ve never been taken on a date, so, at the moment we’re not.”

She can feel the rising heat in his glare, even as it settles out, realising she’s only playing with him. He says, “I’ve brought you to a museum, doesn’t that count?”

“No.”

“See, now you’re just being picky.” Kaito says, laugh in his tone. Then, after a few seconds, “Do you really want me to ask?”

Aoko hadn’t thought she did, but now it’s here… she does. She knows it’s stupid, knows that they’ve got more pressing things to worry about. There’s the police, the people who tried to kill Kaito–

But even still, she wants it to be asked.

“When we’re not in the middle of all of,” – she waves her hands around, gestures at the museum – “this, then, it would be nice. I know it’s stupid, but I still–”

Kaito falls quiet, glances around and says, “Okay.”

Not sad, his sadness doesn’t look anything like this. He’s… thinking it over. She takes the initiative this time, brushing her hand against his. Kaito interlocks her fingers through his.

The conversation has distracted them, because almost immediately, they’re inside the restaurant, glancing between the counter where snacks are left individually packaged, the tables with little numbers on for hot meals to be brought to customers.

Kaito takes a single look at the waiting staff, glances towards the doors that lead into the kitchen, and takes a moment to think. There’s something about the way the light glints against his eyes, that makes Aoko realise he’s scheming, working the situation through in his head.

Even if to everyone else they just seem like two normal teenagers.

It’s interesting to watch, to watch Kaito go around things like this, knowing that the plan will be including her and not using her as some sort of diversion.

“This way,” Kaito says, seconds later, arm around her waist, pulling her alongside him. “Shoulders back, confident, alright?”

His voice is smooth, almost like a spider’s web woven into silk. Aoko nods, taking the words into consideration, loosening her stance and following after Kaito as if there’s nothing wrong with walking through the doors into the kitchen.

She doesn’t turn back, keeps her eyes rooted on Kaito, and almost too easily they’re through the doors, heading into the kitchen. There’s a chef talking to one of the waiters, and Kaito grabs her wrist, pulling her out of direct sight, making sure they head past the fryers instead.

“So, how about it then?”

Aoko glances at him, blinks. She says, “how about what?”

“The whole couple thing,” Kaito says. They make their way towards out of the kitchen, past a staff room and towards a small metal elevator. There’s a ‘out-of-service’ sign stuck up with tape.

“Kaito, now’s really not the time–”

“Probably not,” he agrees, as he points towards the staircase, “But seeing as how we’re both fugitives, it’s probably never going to be the right time?”

Aoko goes to sigh but smiles instead. She feels, almost, like punching him in the arm, but that doesn’t seem right. Instead, she dips her head in a nod, and says, “This still doesn’t count as a date though.”

Kaito’s grin widens. He says, “Of course, the date only begins when we’re upstairs.”

Oh, how lovely.


Shinichi doesn’t have much of an understanding of Kyoto, knows that he doesn’t even really know where he is, but that’s what maps are for. He makes his way to the nearest shop, hopes no one will recognise him, and pays for the map without another word.

He grabs another phone too, the cheapest he can buy. Then, he ducks into the nearest alleyway, switches the numbers over and sits, trying to figure out where he is on the map.

A highlighter in his pocket helps him figure it out, and then, it’s just a matter of memorising the route. He’ll keep the burner phone until he reaches the Higashiyama district, and then, in the busy area he’ll drop it into one of the bins.

All he has to do is find his way to the busy area, and pass through it to get back to Kyoto station without being seen.

Shinichi pulls at his sleeves, pulls down at his hat, and then strictly tells himself not to do anything more than that. If he keeps bringing attention to himself through defensive movements like that, he’s only going to get himself seen.

The route is quiet for the first hour, and then, as he gets nearer and nearer to Higashiyama, the streets narrowing as the buildings become more traditional, wooden stores selling pottery and crafts and so many other things that appeal to both tourists and natives alike, everything becomes busier.

Perhaps the only calming thing here, is that in the places where tourists are rampant, he’s just another face to many of these people. He doubts he’s known by those from other countries.

Still, the district makes him feel uneasy, almost as if eyes are watching him. And maybe they are. Maybe people are drawn to the man walking quickly without any glances at the spots, as if there’s nothing that can hold his interest.

Working against the paranoia, Shinichi forces himself to slow down. He makes a habit of wandering into random shops, every time he feels like the eyes are watching him too closely.

He drops the phone into one of the bins – all numbers deleted from it, just in case anyone comes after it. He’ll only send one message from the phone, and it goes straight to Akai – Will be in contact soon.

Even with the phone gone, he still feels nervous. Jittery energy leaves him leaning back up, ready to scratch into his skin, his neck, to feel some sort of relief to this noose that’s getting tighter and tighter.

His fingernails are about to dig when hands close around his wrist, holding him firm.

“That’s not a good idea,” says a voice. It sends a shiver through him, as he turns to look up. He can almost hear the way his heart rate picks up, louder, even higher than he’d wanted it to get–

“You just never act according to the plans that I put into place, do you, my silver bullet?”

Vermouth.


The inside of the apartment is cold, almost as if the thermostat has been turned to the lowest setting. As they step through the back door, Saguru bringing out a small torch to light the room, Ran rubs her arms, trying to warm herself up.

“You’d think it’d be warmer,” Saguru says, “since we’re heading towards summer, but this is ridiculous.”

Ran nods her head. The building structure seems as if it’s been built from ice rather than bricks. She doesn’t doubt the fact that the pipes probably have cracks from being so cold – if this is how the apartment usually is.

“Yeah,” Ran mutters. She’d been reeling from breaking and entering, but the cold is helping to ground her. “How cold is it, do you think?”

They move past the kitchen, towards a small walkway into the rest of the apartment.

“Thermostat says ten degrees,” Hakuba says, “it’s on the lowest setting.”

Some part of Ran wonders why they’d risk lowering the temperature so much, thinks about how Shinichi would say it’s suspicious. Why so cold, no one could live like this.

“It doesn’t matter,” Ran says, “lets just find some evidence and leave.”

She doesn’t want to stay here any longer than necessary. There’s a bad vibe about this place, something leaving her feeling awkward, not quite… settled in the way she wants to be.

And yes, she knows there’s no way to truly be settled when breaking into someone else’s home, but there’s something about this place that is simply eerie.

“Over here,” Saguru says, moving past the thermostat to a small cabinet. It’s in the corner, the shape of a triangle, fitting in a way that doesn’t seem like it’s jutting out. Ran follows, just as he opens it up.

“What is it?” She asks, as he shines his light down, brightening up the cabinet. She watches as Saguru leans into the cabinet, pulling out three letters. Not bills, from the looks of them, but something more personal. “What are they?”

Saguru glances at her, shrugs. He says, “I’m not sure, but I think they’re important. Let’s take a look?”

He brings his torch up, keeps it between his teeth, and holds it in the direction of the letters. Then, he pries his fingernails beneath the flap to the first envelope, pulling out the letter.

Unfolding it, Saguru goes quiet for a moment, reading over the letter. Ran moves forward, skimming over it at the same time. A letter thanking someone for their sponsorship?

“What does an alcohol label have to do with this?” Ran asks.

“I’m not sure,” Saguru says, “but I think the other letters should have more information. We need to find a surface, take a picture of these letters.”

Ran agrees. Slowly, they make their way into a small living room. The streetlight from the street outside offers light, and so Saguru pockets the torch, not wanting random rays of light to give them away.

Inside, there’s a small coffee table, and Saguru leans down, looking at the letter, smoothing out the creases as he attempts to gather enough light to take a photo. From the way he heaves a sigh, Ran reckons they’re not going to get the photo taken without some sort of light.

“Just use your flash,” Ran says, and since Saguru is busy enough, turns to look around the room. Maybe there’s something else they can pick up, something worth looking into.

“I–” Saguru pauses, heaves out another sigh. “Fine. Since there’s not really another option.”

The flash is one very quick burst of white. It lasts no longer than a second, and then, Saguru is putting the letter back into the envelope, reaching for the second.

Ran glances around the living room. There’s a fish tank, although the filter looks broken and the water is a dark green. When the room lights up with a second flash, she sees that all of the fish are at the top of the tank, floating, all of them dead.

She squints. These fish are tropical fish but, they’ve been put in a tank that’s designed for cold water fish? That makes no sense – surely there’s something inside meant to cool the water up and it’s malfunctioned, somehow?

Leaning forward, Ran places a hand on the glass, leaning forward. There’s something inside, but it’s certainly not a heater. A fake rock catches her attention, plastic, which isn’t exactly shocking, seeing as people place all sorts into tanks to make them their own habitats.

No, what’s strange, is the fact that the rock has a rubber band around it. Green, it doesn’t stand out too much against the fake plants inside, but still… suspicious.

“Hey, take a look at this,” Ran says, turning. “The fish tank is–”

She spots red. A small ball of it, coming through the window, directed straight at her. Ran is pretty sure she spots it, just at the same time Saguru does.

There’s no time for either of them to tell the other to get down, no time for anyone to warn the other.

Ran drops to the floor just in time to hear the window shatter, glass spraying everywhere.

Chapter Text

The glass of the fish tank splinters at first, like a spider’s web, and then, it cracks completely under the pressure of the water. The glass comes first, and then the water in a downpour, bringing with it the dead fish and little pebbles from the bottom of the tank.

Ran curls in on herself, braces herself, and winces as everything crashes down on her. She gasps at the cold of the water, the feeling of glass digging into her skin, but luckily the moment only lasts a few seconds.

“Ran?” Saguru breathes, from the other side of the table. He’s wet, too, but not quite as drenched as she is. “You okay?”

Ran pushes herself up, not far enough to be seen through the window, she hopes, but enough to meet Saguru’s eyes. She nods, mutters, “It’s freezing, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to need some tweezers to get rid of this glass, but I’m fine.”

Saguru lets out a sigh of relief. He says, “I was worried you wouldn’t dive in time.”

She narrows her eyes at him, about to scold him on the entire idea of breaking into the apartment but stops herself. People wouldn’t have shot at them if they weren’t hiding something secret. Instead, she says, “the red dot means it was probably a sniper, right?”

A nod. Saguru squints, “why?”

“How long does it take for someone to aim a sniper rifle?” She asks.

Eyes narrowing, Saguru shakes his head. He says, “Ran, right now the best idea is to stay down and out of sight and leave out the back.”

“It’s not that,” Ran continues now. “There’s something in the fish tank. We need to get it. I think it’s important.”

Saguru crawls towards her, a frown prevalent on his face. He winces as he pulls himself through the glass, coming to a halt beside her. She points up to the fish tank, at the plastic rock covered in rubber bands. She notices that the letters are crumpled in his hands, wet. Ran takes them, gingerly places them in her bag.

“It’s too risky,” Saguru says.

“How many seconds would I have to grab it?”

He shakes his head, looks at her and says, “that’s a horrible idea Ran, Kudo would never forgive me if I let you get shot. I – Do you really think it’s that important?”

Ran nods. There’s no doubt about it. They’d been fine before she’d started to focus on the fish tank, and maybe that’s in part related to the flashes when Saguru had been taking photos, but she thinks it’s also related to what’s inside this fish tank. She says, “I really do.”

“The one with the rubber band?” Saguru asks. Another nod. Then, he turns to her, pulls out his torch and says, “The only way we’d even have enough time to do this, is if the sniper has their attention somewhere else.”

He passes the torch to Ran. She takes it, although with some confusion, and watches as he points towards the doorway. Then, it seems to click.

“You can’t leave me to be the diversion,” she hisses, “what if you get shot?”

“I won’t be, if you divert the sniper’s attention enough,” Saguru says. At her doubt, he says, “Listen, you’re wet, and there’s glass all over you, even if you don’t admit it, you’re aching, you’re freezing and right now, out of the two of us, you’d be slower.”

She doesn’t like that he’s right, can’t help but worry. She can feel all the grazes though, all the glass piercing into her skin, still held there from where the water had applied pressure not even a minute before.

“Fine,” Ran says, “but for the record, I absolutely hate this.”

He offers her a smile, then waves his hand, urging her to move back towards the door, a few seconds later, she does. She wants to wait, wants to take time and hope the sniper goes away, but the likelihood is too low. If they stay here, soon, people will come up, and surround them.

They don’t have much time to disappear, Ran knows that.

“Okay,” Ran says, “on three.”

She points the torch up, turns it on so there’s a large beam of light aiming into the room, a sliver of light among the darkness. Saguru bursts upward, leaning into the fish tank.

He hisses, not even bothering to remove glass shards as he leans his arm on it, slicing into his sleeve as he moves his arm forward, grabbing for the rock.

“Got it,” Saguru says, and turns to offer her a quick smile. He’s about to dive back for the floor, when a loud bang reaches their ears. Ran watches at the bullet zips past him, embedding itself into the wall beside them.

Saguru drops down, swears.

Ran’s eyes widen, and she crawls forward, even as Saguru starts to edge nearer to her. He swears again, and she clicks the torch off, throwing it into her bag.

“Come on,” Saguru says, and he sounds almost breathless. He’s pale. His free hand – the one not holding the rock – is pressed against his side. “Let’s get out of here before someone comes looking for us.”

Ran hesitates, but what can she do? They need to leave. They start moving together, until they’re past the door and away from the window. She says, “you were–”

“The bullet grazed me,” Saguru says. His eyes seem strangely light, not at all dull, or pained. Ran imagines it’s the adrenaline pumping through him. She can feel it too, knows she’s probably not feeling the full extent of her own pain. “That’s all.”

“A graze is still serious,” Ran mutters. They can stand in the hallway with no risks of a sniper coming after them, and so they do. It’s darker here, difficult to see, but Ran doesn’t dare turn the torch back on.

Instead, they move forward, Saguru following behind her, both stopping when they reach the kitchen. Then, they lower to the floor again, not wanting to risk and more gunfire.

“I don’t know if there’s any one out this way,” Saguru whispers, as they inch towards the door, “but I think we need to risk it.”

Ran nods her head, and without any hesitation, lest they give whoever is shooting at them more time to corner them, she opens the door, crawling out into the street.

No red dots meet them.

“Take this,” Saguru says, passing her the rock. She drops it into her bag, shivers against the wind. She wonders what people will think if they look at her, glass clinging to her body, just like the drenched clothes she’s wearing. “And come on.”

He grabs her by his arm, and then, with a laboured breath, starts running down the alley, dragging her along. Ran doesn’t put up a fight, even when her lungs feel like they’re going to burst.

They keep running until they feel like there is nothing but empty space between them and the apartment. Then, they slip into an alleyway, and try to think of what to do next.

“Let me get that glass,” Saguru says, turning Ran around. He can’t get all of it, obviously not – there are a lot of small shards too – but he manages to brush off the pieces that cling to her jacket. Ran returns the favour, brushing off the stray pieces of glass from his sleeves.

Then, she looks at the fabric just around his abdomen. Saguru’s left side is darker – instead of the dark grey jacket he’d been wearing, it now looks like a wet black.

“You said it grazed you,” Ran says, stern. This doesn’t exactly look like a graze.

Saguru scowls. He says, “It did. But I am bleeding. It’s alright, I’ll deal with it when we find somewhere to settle for a while.”

“What do you mean find somewhere,” Ran says, and then, pauses. She answers the question herself before Saguru can. “We can’t exactly go home and explain ourselves to our parents. It could be dangerous.”

“Exactly,” Saguru says. “We could head to one of KID’s hideouts, one of the places taken over by the police, but they could be watching those–”

And they still can’t trust the police.

Especially not now.

“I think I know somewhere we could go,” Ran says. She pulls out her phone, but it won’t turn on, is waterlogged. She’ll have to put it in a bag of rice and hope the rice will soak up the moisture. “Give me your phone.”


 

 

Her grip is tight around his wrist, not to a painful amount, but enough that Shinichi knows that if he tries to pull away, he’ll fail.

Vermouth is wearing the disguise of someone his age, looks startlingly close in appearance to Ran. It’s almost as if she’s teasing him, or maybe, she’s simply trying to draw his attention.

Shinichi isn’t sure, all he knows is that his stomach is churning, and he can’t find a way to settle it.

“Vermouth,” he says, trying to sound calmer than he feels. His voice comes out slightly high. “What a pleasure.”

“Hello, Shinichi,” Vermouth responds, sickly sweet, her voice mimicking Ran’s. He fixes the woman with a glare. “I’d like the talk.”

“I won’t talk to you if you look like her,” Shinichi whispers. “I’m not sure if I really want to talk to you at all.”

Vermouth’s grip on his wrist slackens, enough that he can worm his way out of it, if he wanted to. Shinichi doesn’t. Instead, he waits, watching to see if Vermouth offers any hints as to what she’s thinking.

“I wanted to catch your attention,” Vermouth says. A pause and then: “Well, maybe it is a little cruel to show you an angel when you’ve been stuck in hell so long. I’ve been waiting a while to talk to you, silver bullet, so I’ll change. How about we both adapt our disguises and sit down in that café over there?”

Shinichi pulls a face. He says, “I’m kind of done with cafés today. How about you drop the disguise and we just… walk.”

Now, Vermouth lets go of his arm. She says, “It seems we both have a train to catch anyway, so we’ll be going in the same direction.”


Suzuki Sonoko slams open the door with a burst of sound not unlike cannon fire. Her hair – falling just above her breasts – was pulled back into a ponytail, and it swishes as she throws herself forward, pale as she takes in her guests.

“Hey Sonoko,” Ran says, feeling woozy on her feet. Beside her, Saguru looks just as pale, like he needs to sit down. She really hopes he hasn’t lost too much blood, because a hospital doesn’t really seem like something she wants to do, not right now.

“Ran,” Sonoko says, rushing forwards. Her hands wrap around Ran’s wrists, her eyebrows furrowing as she looks her up and down. If there’s any residual glass on her – and Ran bets there is – Sonoko doesn’t show any signs that she can see it. “You’re soaking, you must be freezing.”

Ran offers a wobbly smile. She says, “we came around the back, so no one would see us–”

“I rerouted the camera feed for you,” Sonoko says, waving them inside. “This is about Shinichi-kun isn’t it? You started looking into his case and stumbled across something big.”

She says it with such certainty that Ran can’t find it in her to deny the words. There are only two people in the world who she understands better than she understands herself, and that’s Sonoko and Shinichi. The premise, she knows, goes both ways.

Lying to Sonoko is impossible, her friend will figure her out within seconds.

“Yes,” she breathes after a second, as they take off their shoes, replacing them with slippers, “yes, we found something and it’s–”

Sonoko leads them into a small sitting room – not one that Ran has ever been in before, the Suzuki estate is larger than she can comprehend – and waves for them to sit on a couch. There’s a plastic sheet draped over it.

“How do you know how to reroute the camera feed?” Ran asks, finally registering Sonoko’s words. She watches as Sonoko raises an eyebrow, turning back to grab the first aid kit she’d been warned to bring with her.

“I’m no genius in Math or Japanese like you and Shinichi-kun are,” Sonoko says, “but I am good with computer sciences, and I’m pretty good at sneaking out. You just tend to pick things up, I suppose.”

Ran doesn’t… really have a response to that.

“Anyway,” Sonoko says, “catch me up Ran. And you,” – she juts her finger out at Saguru – “you’re injured. Shirt off, show me.”

Saguru pulls a face, but ultimately does as she says, ridding himself of his jacket and unbuttoning his shirt. Without any fabric covering him up, it’s easier to see the where the bullet grazed him, and Ran holds her breath.

“Does it hurt,” Ran says, and receives a nod. “I’m sorry. I should have–”

Sonoko opens the first aid kit, takes a moment to look at the contents and says, “This is what happens when a bullet grazes someone. Why, exactly, are we being shot?”

Saguru purses his lips, lets out a small groan as Sonoko pulls on a pair of gloves, and grabs a pair of tweezers from the first aid kit. He mutters, “how’d you gather it was from a bullet?”

The stare Sonoko gives him, is quite possibly the blandest look Ran has ever seen her friend give anyone. She says, “I grew up with Shinichi-kun, you think I don’t know what bullet wounds look like? It took him a while to realise to keep his nerdy detective stuff to himself.”

Ran has to stop the giggle that rises in her throat as she watches Saguru raise his eyebrows, mouthing a small ‘o’ as he realises. And then, as he lets out a small hiss, the laughter dies in her throat.

“Is there anything we can give him?” Ran asks. “Any painkillers or…?”

Sonoko shakes her head, mutters something about the medicine cabinet being kept in the main house, not the extension that they’re currently in. Going would mean having people ask questions.

“Which we don’t want, exactly,” Ran says.

Sonoko nods, leans forward before stopping herself. She puts the tweezers down before she can even use them and says, “We don’t want people knowing if they’re only going to go on and tell other people. But… we do need a doctor, you need more treatment than what I can give with a first aid kit, I think.”

Saguru shakes his head no, and then, promptly, passes out.

“They’ll be bound by confidentiality, he won’t go telling anyone.” Sonoko pauses. “I’ll go phone the doctor.”


Vermouth returns to the street with a new disguise, someone less recognisable. The wig depicting brown hair has been cut into a bob, the mask adjusted so that instead of looking like someone in their late teens, she looks instead like a woman in her late twenties.

“What did you mean,” Shinichi says, as they fall into step, making their way through the crowd. “when you said I wasn’t going towards your plan.”

She looks as if she wants to lift a finger to her lips and claim her secrets make her a woman, but instead, Vermouth shrugs. She says, “Well, I suppose since now you’d sooner be shot than arrested, there’s no fault in knowing the truth.”

The words are flippant, as if they don’t matter, but there is a strangeness to the way Vermouth words them, something that leaves him curious. The truth – well, Shinichi hasn’t thought he’d get much of it in a very long time.

“Do you remember the final warning I gave you when we last met?” Vermouth raises an eyebrow at him when he remains quiet, lets the words roll on her tongue as she adds, “Well, it was almost two years ago, it’s difficult to remember that far back, it seems.”

“I remember.”

“Then you remember that I said, my organisation was looking into you,” Vermouth says. “And that they would kill you if you let them know who you were.”

It had been a few weeks before the first murder, before everything had started to go downhill. Shinichi’s nod is small.

“They found me,” Shinichi says. “Which is why I’m in the situation I’m in now.”

Vermouth rolls her eyes, pushes through the crowd and they turn into an alley, something she mentions is a small shortcut. Paranoia rises through him, but there’s little he can do. If this is a trap, then Vermouth has orchestrated it so he can’t exactly run.

She could out him as a runaway criminal, and both of them know it. Or, she could lead him into a trap where he’ll be killed. Why hadn’t she done that from the very beginning?

“In a way,” Vermouth says. “They wanted to shoot you, but I convinced them that other options were much more efficient.”

Heat rises in Shinichi’s cheeks. For a moment, he wants to shout, to yell about how he’d much rather have taken a bullet to the head rather than live with the knowledge for over a year and a half that he would hang.

He swallows down the heat and forces himself to cool down. Even still, when he speaks, there’s a bite to his tone, “So I’ve heard.”

“You weren’t meant to escape the prison,” Vermouth says. Which is, well, alright, that’s pretty obvious. The organisation hadn’t planned for him to live, so this goes against her plans.

“Obviously not,” Shinichi says. “I was supposed to hang.”

He can feel the noose around his neck. Can feel himself having to balance so he doesn’t trip against the stool around him. Not that there’d even be a stool – Shinichi knows how they do hangings. A noose and a floor that opens up. Instead of falling, he was supposed to swing.

“Not quite,” Vermouth answers. He glances up at her, frowning, suspicious. “I peddled favour with the judge, so you would hang the day you were old enough to be punished. No rehabilitation, just a quick death.”

“I’m sure you thought that was a kindness.” Shinichi’s throat is dry, and as such, his words come out brittle enough that they cut into the woman beside him.

“If you want answers so much, silver bullet,” Vermouth continues, chiding now. As if she is his superior and not the woman responsible for his imprisonment and sending him to be hung. “Then you will listen rather than throw accusations at me.”

He supposes it’s fine. Shinichi shrugs his shoulders, purses his lips and decides that no further comments will be important for him.

“The plan was that to the world, you would hang. An execution behind closed doors,” Vermouth says. “Kudo Shinichi would die, but the silver bullet would be smuggled out of the prison, swapped with someone already dead.”

For a moment, Shinichi forgets to breathe. Carbon dioxide collects in his lungs in the place of oxygen until his lungs are screaming at him. Time feels like it’s slowing down, and he feels like maybe he’s close to breaking down. He lifts his hands up.

They shake around his throat.

Then he breathes.

“You murdered seven people, framed me for it, and made me go through – through hell – just so you could… fake my death?”

Even knowing the truth, the noose remains. Maybe he’s escaped one death, but there’s always another. More waiting for him, more people to be wary of.

Vermouth doesn’t respond. Perhaps because she knows confirming this will do little good. She’d wanted to help, and she had, in a fucked up, criminal way. She’d saved him from dying, she’d saved his life from an organisation that had wanted him dead.

She’d found a way.

But Vermouth had never told him. She’d never asked him whether this was what he’d wanted, whether he’d prefer living hopeless for months, choking and trying to remember what happiness feels like, over dying. Dying, maybe, but dying happy and a little paranoid, but able to breathe.

He pauses in the street, turns to look at her. He says, “They were innocent.”

Vermouth’s lips tighten. She says, “They were going to be killed anyway. They were members of the organisation, deserters.”

A bitter laugh rises from Shinichi’s throat. He says, “As if that makes it any better? They were killed slowly, their blood – they were… they were tortured to make the case seem like something I’d done.

They would have had quick deaths, Shinichi’s certain, if not for him. He lets the realisation stir, blinks and tries to push it down. Not now, he’ll deal with his own reactions later, but for now.

Now, Vermouth is here and he’s going to get answers.

“So, what?” Shinichi continues, “You swap me out and what? I live my life pretending to be someone else, hiding from your organisation so they think I’m not around anymore?”

“No,” Vermouth is flippant. “You look into the clues I left you.”

What clues?

But of course, Shinichi already knows. The pictures of the bodies, only the killer and he should have ever seen them. The link to the alcohol company – and the fact of her codename. It hadn’t been someone goading ‘here, I dare you to find me’, it had been ‘this is where you need to start looking’.

“Right, the clues.”

“Yes,” Vermouth continues. “I’d thought you’d be smart and keep people from getting involved in the searches, but apparently not. You let those two wander into danger, and now, I’m not sure if they’re going to live.”

Shinichi’s head whips around so quickly, he’s not entirely sure he hasn’t pulled a muscle. He whispers, “what is that supposed to mean?”

“I keep watch of some of the more physical clues I leave,” Vermouth says, “through a video feed, to make sure none of the organisation go removing things. They went investigating and overlooked Chianti.”

Shinichi shudders, “…Chianti?”

“The sniper who’s been stationed across the street.”

He shivers. Who could it be – Hattori and Kazuha, no doubt. They’re the only one with access to Vermouth’s clues. And Hattori is surely foolish enough to investigate without him if it would mean furthering their case so–

Shinichi needs to make sure they’re okay. He needs to– he needs–

“It seems we’re here,” Vermouth says, finally. When he looks up, the train station is bursting with energy. Shinichi is surprised that he managed to overlook it so completely, overwhelmed by the crowds surrounding him.

For a moment, he’d thought he was completely alone. Perhaps that hasn’t changed much, if Vermouth is telling the truth then, he truly is…

“Yes.” Shinichi hums. “It seems we are.”

“Then, I’m sorry to cut this short, silver bullet, but I have a train to catch.”

Shinichi nods. He watches her blend into the crowd, just another passenger and then, very slowly, pulls his phone out from his pocket. He almost doesn’t want to call.

But still, he presses ‘dial’


The burner phone bursts to life with a sudden ferocity that it makes both Kazuha and Heiji jump.

From where he’s sat at Kazuha’s desk, looking over the list they’ve transcribed, Heiji turns. Kazuha’s already up, halfway across the room. He watches, forced into silence as she scoops the phone out of her desk, putting it to her ear and answering the call button.

She also presses speakerphone, which Heiji supposes is alright, seeing at they both need to have this conversation with Kudo, and Kazuha’s mother had called upstairs saying she’d be popping out to go buy groceries.

Still, they don’t respond first. They’d decided on a system. Anyone could grab hold of the phone, and if they did, well, they could phone the only number. Their only rule had been – the one who phones, speaks first.

“Tell me you guys are okay,” Kudo’s voice breaks on the first words, a mixture of paranoia and terror, croaking as if the words won’t form properly on his tongue. His voice sounds dry, as if he’s been swallowing down air rather than inhaling it.

“Kudo–” Heiji starts, only for Kazuha to shake her head at him. Her lips are pursed, as if she’s trying to figure out what’s going on for herself.

“We’re fine, Shinichi,” She whispers. Her voice is soft, a soothing whisper which makes Heiji think that she is an angel, sometimes, when she isn’t being such a pain in the neck or arguing with him. “Heiji an’ I, we’re okay.”

Kudo heaves out a shuddered sigh on the other side of the phone. He says, “If you guys are lying to me–”

“We’re fine,” Kazuha presses. She places the phone on the desk, nudges Heiji so he’ll shuffle, offering her half of the chair. He swivels it in her direction and complies this once rather than complain that there’s a bed literally three-feet away. “Why wouldn’t we be fine?”

“Found a lead,” Kudo breathes, and it seems almost like he’s both calming down and getting more agitated at the same time. “You found a lead, right?”

How could he have known that?

“Yeah–” Heiji says, frowning. He trusts in Kudo’s skills as a detective, but he’s ever been omnipotent, capable of making leaps without the evidence in front of him. So, where’s the worry coming from? What has he heard? “How’d ya know abou’ that’?”

They can’t hear him completely, when Kudo next responds. All Heiji really captures is the word ‘dying’ and ‘shot’.

Kazuha, more experienced in dealing with emotions than he is, puts it together a lot quicker. Heiji’s wondering who’s been shot, and Kazuha seems to hear the question rather than the statement.

“Neither of us have been shot, Shinichi,” Kazuha says. “I promise, we’re fine. We found a lead, but we didn’t wanna pursue it til we next talked to ya.”

“We know this is a dangerous case, Kudo,” Heiji adds, “we ain’t gonna go investigating without letting ya know and decide whether ya want in on it, okay?”

Kudo’s silent on the other side of the phone. Then, slightly horrified: “Kaito and Nakamori-san.”

“Shinichi?”

“It must have been them…” Kudo mutters, “she must have meant them.”

Heiji wants to ask who, opens his mouth to ask, but Kudo speaks again before the words can even form against his tongue.

“I’ll explain later. I’m – I’m on my way back now. If you can get out, I’ll be back just past midnight. I’ll explain then.”

He doesn’t give them time to explain. The call goes dead, the phone screen going black as he hangs up. Heiji stares at Kazuha, gives her a look that he hopes translates into ‘what the hell just happened’ and realises that the question reflects back from her.

“Do you think you’ll be able to sneak out without your parents noticing?” Kazuha asks after a moment. She’s gone pale, and Heiji assumes he looks just as stunned. Neither of them had been expecting any more talks of shootings and death.

Heiji doesn’t want to think about it. About the possibility.

“No,” Heiji says. “My old man’s notices every tiny detail.”

“But we’re going to go anyway, right?” Kazuha says. He dips his head in response, a silent yes. They can’t leave this until tomorrow, not if Kudo had been so panicked.

Heiji will just have to figure out some red herrings to leave for his father, to make him think that Heiji is out doing something other than aiding an alleged serial killer.


Ran is pretty sure the doctor is going to get a speeding ticket, because Sonoko leads him in to the room not even ten minutes later, pointing towards Saguru and explaining about his injury.

Not knowing what to do, Ran remains still, waiting for the verdict.

“Do you think you can help him?” Sonoko says, as the doctor assesses him. He’s a tall man, wearing a white overcoat and with wiry, black glasses framing his face. There’s no name badge though, and Ran can’t help but feel uneasy.

“It doesn’t look like the bullet skimmed anything important,” the doctor says, quietly. He leans down, taking a closer look at the wound. “I think this is just a task of cleaning the wound and applying stitches.”

A small smile. Ran feels relief spread through her as well, mutters, “thank you.”

“I’ll prescribe some painkillers,” the doctor continues, “and some antibiotics for preventative measures. Then it’s just a matter of monitoring him.”

He turns to Ran, offers a smile – reassuring, a sedative prescribed to those around him in the form of expression – and says, “it could have been a lot worse.”

Sonoko nods. She says, “we’ll leave him to you, Araide-sensei. Ran, come with me.”

Ran, not wanting to leave Saguru behind, offers a quick glance towards Sonoko and shakes her head. She receives a stern expression in response, tight lips and hands on hips, and realises that while she is stubborn, she has never been as stubborn as her best friend.

“You need to get out of those clothes,” Sonoko says, “and warm up, you’re shivering. And that glass, I’ll help you get rid of it. Let’s go have a bath, okay?”

Ran relents. She grabs her bag and follows after her friend.

Chapter Text

Water flow from taps as Sonoko draws the bath offering white noise, something that keeps Ran’s thoughts from overflowing.

She sits on the small stool Sonoko brings forward before peeling her jumper off. Behind her, Sonoko kneels and assesses any damage from the glass. She lets out a small whistle, and then, after placing a hand on Ran’s shoulder as a form of warning, she pries the first bit of glass from between the knots of Ran’s shoulders.

Ran lets out a small hiss.

“I know it hurts,” Sonoko says, “but this is what happens when you get caught up in mystery work.”

There’s an element of disapproval in her voice. Worry. Ran doesn’t usually get such seriousness from her best friend, but she supposes being covered in glass and mentioning how she’d been shot at could be a sobering experience for anyone.

“You’re not angry at me, are you?”

For a moment, Sonoko is silent. She plucks another shard of glass from Ran’s skin, before pressing gauze against it, applying pressure to stop any potential bleeding. Then, she sighs.

“I knew you were looking to help Shinichi-kun,” Sonoko says. Her voice is quiet, like she’s not sure just how much she should say. “Your dad told me when I visited once how the two of you just… poured over the files together, looking for new leads. I knew you weren’t going to give up.”

Ran bites her lip. She knew, in some sense, that Sonoko had always known about her trust in Shinichi, but they’d never brought the topic up. Mainly because Ran hadn’t wanted to ask Sonoko what she thought, hadn’t wanted to bear the idea that her best friend didn’t trust him anymore.

“As soon as the news said Shinichi-kun was free, I knew you’d look even deeper. And it looks like you found the lead you were looking for.” She sighs again. “I’m not angry at you, Ran, I just wish you’d talked to me about it.”

Another small pause.

“About him.”

Ran shudders at the idea. Perhaps it’s selfish not to ask, not to talk about things, but she doesn’t want to. If they cross this divide, if they share their innermost thoughts and they’re contradictory… Ran doesn’t know what she’ll do.

Still, Sonoko might not be begging for the conversation, but she wants it. And it’s long since overdue.

“… I’m sorry,” Ran whispers. And then, “Do you think Shinichi is really capable of murder? Would you have told me to stop looking?”

There’s another tug against her skin and then, Sonoko pushes herself up. The tweezers make a small clink against the bathroom sink as she places them down. Ran turns, meets Sonoko’s gaze.

The expression is set, determined. Like it’s not something easily changed.

“I grew up with that nerd too,” Sonoko says, and for a moment her eyes soften. Then, they’re hard again, unrelenting. “Of course, I don’t believe any of the charges for a second. Ran – I’m not going to pretend I didn’t consider it, all that evidence against him is convincing, but I know him.”

Has she really been so foolish as to think Sonoko wouldn’t understand in the same way she did? Jeez, she really is an idiot.

“And as far as the investigating goes,” Sonoko says, “I… I don’t like the idea of you putting yourself in danger, and Shinichi-kun wouldn’t like it either, but I wouldn’t tell you to stop. I’d have helped, if I could have.”

Ran bites her lip.

“The bath is ready,” Sonoko says, “I’ll let you warm up – I’m going to go check on Hakuba-san.”

Ran turns, lets her lips tug upwards and offers a small smile. “Thanks, Sonoko.”

Sonoko flashes the same smile back and says nothing.


Aoko doesn’t like the way the exhibition room leaves her feeling cold.

Even with Kaito beside her, a warmth by her side, she feels frozen. She pushes her hands into her pocket so that he can’t see the way they shake, and grits her teeth, anticipating the shivers that wrack through her body.

“What do we look for?” Aoko asks, because it’s better than admitting that the place spooks her. That standing in here reminds her of how her father had bared firearms at the man she loves, how a red dot on her own forehead had led to Kaito’s injury.

“The night I was shot,” Kaito says, as if it doesn’t matter to him that he’d been injured, as if he can so easily leave it in the past. Aoko wishes she knew what he was thinking. “It wasn’t by the police. They would have never shot without a clear line of sight. Without a clear ID on me.”

Right. They’ve already gone over this. The shooter had been external, probably part of whatever case Kudo had gotten Kaito caught up in. Which was why they were doing investigative work, despite the fact neither of them are actually detectives.

“Okay,” Aoko says, “so what’re we focusing on first?”

“They didn’t dig a bullet out of me,” Kaito says, “it went through my arm. So somewhere, there’s a wall with a bullet imprint on it.”

Aoko pauses. Bites her lip and says, “I thought you said the bullet skimmed you.”

It hadn’t even crossed her mind that Kaito might have lied to her, to make his injury out to be less than it is. But really, that’s such a him thing to do – and she hates him for it.

“Skimming, going all the way through,” Kaito says, leaning forward to grab her hand, “they’re the same difference.”

She’s not pleased. Lips tightening, shaking her head, she wants to pull away, to punch him for not telling the truth. But she won’t. A lie from kindness… she can see how he’d been trying to be kind.

Even if she’d have preferred the truth.

“You better not be lying to me still,” she whispers.

“Nope,” Kaito says. “Let’s find my bullet fragments alright?”

Aoko sighs, and together they make their way towards the grate that Kaito had been meaning to make his escape by. They’ve since refastened the screws, keeping it in one place.

She doesn’t know where the vent leads, but she can imagine how cramped and dark it might be. That’s one thing she’s always found shocking about KID’s heists, that he doesn’t mind the sharp squeezes, that he trusts his plans so much that he’ll crawl through dusty vents just to procure his prize.

“Here it is,” Kaito says. He lifts his hand, points toward a hole in the wall. Dry paint has crumbled around it, but there’s a hole around the size of her little finger. Aoko leans forward, imagines the bullet going through.

Inside the wall, where cleaning hasn’t got to it, there’s specks of dried blood. This time, Aoko does shudder.

“I don’t know much about bullet sizes,” Kaito admits, finally, “but this one seems like it was small. It seems like the diameter was less than a few centimetres.”

Aoko blinks, nods her head.

“I’m gonna take a picture of it, use my finger as a reference.” Kaito says. “It would be easier if we had the bullet fragments, but the police have already taken them away as evidence.”

She shrugs.

“We can’t get out hands on that,” Aoko says. And then, turning her head, she considers the wall. “But we can figure out where they shot from, maybe?”

Kaito nods his head. He says, “we take the angle of where the bullet went into the wall and consider where someone could have shot from. Which vantage point.”

Aoko nods. She almost wishes that she had some ribbon, something that she could use to create a taut line, a path that the bullet could have taken. Instead, she shakes her head, tries to visualise a path instead.

“How much of an angle from the window to the wall?” She asks. “If we figure that out, we can figure out between the buildings too.”

Kaito hums. He says, “it’s not particularly steep.”

He runs his hand from the bullet hole, walks towards the window and slowly adjusts his hands, as if creating a triangle between the two and the floor.

Aoko can’t help but find it interesting, a vivid line of red in her vision, where the two points meet. She heads towards him, glances out at the buildings around her and takes a moment to consider. There’s a fire station and two multi-story flat complexes, not to mention office buildings and restaurants.

“How far can people shoot?”

Kaito shrugs his shoulders. He says, “It depends on the gun, really, but the longest shot is thousands of metres long. I’d say… in an area like this, someone could manage a couple of hundred?”

Aoko hums. Then, she points up towards one of the apartment buildings. If she imagines the path, imagines the trajectory, it seems like the roof of that apartment building is one of the only ones it could be from.

The other apartment building is too far left from the window. The bullet wouldn’t be able to hit the glass at the correct angle from that building. The fire station is out of the equation too, since the building isn’t high enough to create a downward slope.

Similarly, with the restaurants, they’re singular storied, no area for a sniper to climb up to, to offer a good enough vantage point.

“How about that apartment building?” Aoko says.

Kaito clicks his tongue. He says, “lets go check it out.”


The first thing Shinichi does as he races into the cabin, energy bursting as he’d forced his way through Osaka, remaining unseen, is check for any signs that he’s being watched.

Then, he searches for any signs of Hattori and Kazuha. They’ll be around soon, he knows. So, he takes some time to consider his next course of action. His mind has been racing since Vermouth left him in Kyoto, but now, he wills himself to slow down.

To think everything through.

To give them the time rather than to come to hundreds of conclusions, to drive himself insane. Shinichi sits down, presses his back against the wall, aching without having really done anything.

Vermouth’s plan echoes in his head, and he pushes away the guilt, the horror for what was meant to be her kindness, by breaking everything she’d said into facts.

She’d left clues for him. One that had been heavily guarded by a sniper – and if Hattori and Kazuha aren’t harmed, then that clue must have been found by Kaito and Nakamori. They’re the only other people, Shinichi knows, to be capable of finding the clue – because Kaito had been the only other person with access to his case files.

There are only two options for what might have happened. Either Vermouth knows about Kaito’s breakout from the hospital, insinuating that without proper medical treatment following his shooting, he might not survive. Or, in the hours following their breakout, they’ve been injured again.

Shinichi bites his lip, lifts his hands up and curls his fingers into a fist. He shudders, hopes that Vermouth means the former. Kaito’s been shot before, Shinichi’s seen the scarring, which means he’d had at least one contact capable of getting him the help he needs.

(Even though, well, he’d not been a wanted man back then.)

Heaving in oxygen, Shinichi pushes forwards. He doesn’t have enough information to do anything but worry, so he needs to trust in Kaito and Nakamori, trust them both to keep themselves in one piece, whether they’re injured or not.

It makes him wonder: What clue is so important that there’d been a sniper waiting outside?

He worries his teeth against his lip, until he can taste blood, metallic on his tongue. Another thing he doesn’t have an answer to.

He needed to focus on what he can answer. It’s frustrating because he’s lacking in them. There are barely any.

Shinichi startles at the sound of conversation, caught off guard. He closes his eyes, listens quietly enough until he can confirm the voices belong to Kazuha and Hattori.

Going over all the information – or, well, most of it – will help clear things up, offer much-needed clarity. He pushes against the wall, peers from the window, pulling the blinds open enough to see outside.

Hattori has driven them on his bike. Kazuha stands opposite him, brushing her hand through her hair, trying to rid herself from the static her helmet has caused. Hattori has taken both helmets, holds them in one arm each.

Even though they’ve told him they’re fine, that they’re not injured, Shinichi does a check up and down anyway. They don’t seem in pain, don’t seem to be guarding any area of their bodies more than another.

They seem fine, it helps some of the tension roll out from his shoulders. His shoulders are still tight though, and Shinichi lifts a hand, presses his fingers beneath his collarbone to try and release some of the rest.

It doesn’t help but, it’s something to focus on as he heads towards the front door, ready to meet them. They turn to look at him as the door opens, and as he makes strained eye contact, Shinichi offers a strained smile.

“So, what’s this about a clue?”


Ran leaves the bath behind and finally lets herself feel as worn down as she actually is. Adrenaline gone, her joints feel heavy, her skin bruised and cut from litres of water and a sharp flow of glass and the odd dead fish.

She sighs, pulls at the sleeves of the jumper Sonoko had left on the side for her, and pushes back into the sitting room. Sonoko sits on the couch opposite Saguru and the doctor, low conversation that fades off when Ran enters.

“Ran,” Sonoko says, patting the seat opposite her. She reaches over the side of the couch, and as Ran sits back, drapes a blanket around her shoulders. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Ran breathes. As much as she aches, she is warmer now, doesn’t seem like she’s going to freeze over. “Yeah, I’m better now.”

She turns towards Saguru, and finds, with wide eyes, that he’s awake.

“Saguru-kun,” she starts, but he doesn’t turn to look at her. His eyes are wide, as he watches the doctor finish up his stitches. His lips are pinched shut, a wince spreading through him, and Ran can see the way he tenses, trying not to flinch.

“I’m okay,” he breathes, finally, voice light. “We’re almost done. Give me a… a second?”

Ran falls into silence, tries to consider everything that’s happened. She still can’t quite believe that someone shot Saguru, that they were in that situation little less than a few hours ago, but it’s true.

It means that they’ve gotten close to something. Right?

Something important?

“Araide-sensei gave Saguru-san some pain killers,” Sonoko whispers, nudging her foot against Ran’s ankle. She hums in response. “Nothing overly strong, but it should help. If you’re in pain, we’ve got over the counter tablets?”

Ran bites her lip, and then, shakes her head. “I’m fine, if I start hurting, then I’ll take one.”

Sonoko doesn’t push her, and Ran is thankful for that. Instead, she simply stays quiet, shifting to a more comfortable position when Ran leans her head against her shoulder, watching Araide apply a dressing to Saguru’s wound.

Finally, the doctor steps back, says that he’s finished and removes his gloves. He places the gloves in the bin, and to Saguru, he says, “I’ll write you a prescription for antibiotics, which should keep the wound from getting infected. But if you start feeling unwell, you need to go to a hospital.”

Saguru nods. “Thank you.”

Sonoko shuffles, and Ran finds herself shifting too, lifting her head to allow her friend to stand. Sonoko waits until the prescription is written out, passed over to Saguru, before muttering about how she’ll show him out.

With Sonoko gone, Ran forces her focus onto Saguru.

Finally, he turns to look at her. He’s pale, and he winces as he moves but he meets her gaze, his eyes steely and determined. The expression almost reminds her of Shinichi, of when she’d seen him at the heist days before. How he’d not wanted to give up on helping Kaitou KID.

It’s a determination, Ran realises, that only the desperate really ever manage to tune into.

She wonders if she’s wearing the expression on her face too. It wouldn’t be surprising to her if she is – after all, they’re injured. Maybe they knew people were out to hurt them before, but now they have proof, and the proof includes blood splattered against their clothes.

“I’ll have to take a detour to the pharmacy before we continue the case,” Saguru says.

Ran stills. She’s not sure why she’d had the thought that they’d step back now that they’ve faced danger, but it’s only now that she begins to realise that… they probably can’t.

Maybe before they’d stepped foot inside that apartment they could, but now they’ve been injured – which means they’ve been seen – and they can’t stop.

“Where do we go next?” She asks, “we can’t go back to that apartment again, and they saw us.”

Saguru shakes his head, and says, “I doubt we were any more than outlines to the shooter. I don’t think we need to worry too much about being tracked, as long as we don’t stand out.”

Ran thinks that maybe the fact that Saguru’s been shot might make them stand out, but well… maybe they’ll be able to pretend he hasn’t been. It’ll be difficult but if they can avoid having any eyes fall on them…

“That sounds dangerous,” she whispers.

“Probably,” Saguru responds, and his expression shifts. His eyes are bright, and he leans forward despite himself, lifting his hands up, “but it’s a little exciting too, don’t you think?”

“N-not really?”

He blinks and the brightness shutters, replaced again with a wince as he moves back. “The case I mean – if it’s dangerous, it means we’re closer to things than we ever were before.”

Ran isn’t one hundred percent sure that this is what he’d really meant, but she doesn’t want to press. Instead, she nods. Falls quiet.

“That rock,” Saguru continues. “The one we got from the fish tank. It’s about time we opened it up, right? There was something important about it.”

Reaching down for her bag, Ran unzips the pocket, brings out the rock and holds it closely enough to see it. It’s plastic, bound together by rubber bands. She loosens them, dropping the bands into her lap and slowly watching the plastic unravel, ever so loosely.

“Is that a…”

Ran doesn’t finish her sentence. Instead, she presses her nails into the space between the two halves of the rock and pries them apart. They fall into two, leaving behind a plastic bag that’s been wrapped up in a similar manner, to avoid any water damage to it.

“What is it?” Saguru says, as Ran unfolds the bag, removing more packaging. She bites into her lips, pulls the plastic open, and reaches inside.

“An address book?” She mutters. “Why would someone hide that in here?”


Kazuha doesn’t really think that they should be exchanging all the information and clues that they’ve come across, since it’s past midnight, they all need to rest, and Shinichi seems beyond spooked but… but it seems like they’re doing it anyway.

“I’m glad I brought coffee,” Kazuha mutters under her breath, as she sets the travel kettle on the heat, boiling water. She’d thought maybe coming would give them time to see how Shinichi’s doing, emotionally, mentally, after spending time in Kyoto, but there’s no time for that, apparently.

Which is a load of crap, but both of her detective friends are stubborn and apparently all talk about feelings is off the table.

Just because she’s not pushing the subject, isn’t asking the questions, doesn’t mean that she’s going to forget about it. Either way, she finishes coffee, stirring it and distributing it amongst the three of them.

“Thanks,” Shinichi says, and then, “you said about a lead.”

Kazuha wants to tell him to calm down and be patient, but at the same time: She really wants to talk about the notable sponsors list they’d found and what it might mean. So she shrugs, glances at Heiji and lets him take the lead while she rummages in her back, searching for the paper they’d scrawled each name down on.

“I started thinkin’,” Heiji says, leaning forward, capturing attention in the way he always seems to when offering a deduction. “About those pictures tha’ were sent in those messages. I think they weren’t just taunts, ya kno’?”

Shinichi’s expression shifts. Eyes glazing ever so slightly, his lips tighten, his brows furrowing. He says, “It was a clue, I know.”

Kazuha can’t stop herself from gaping. She says, “If you know it was a clue, then–”

“I didn’t – I – It doesn’t matter.” Shinichi shakes his head. “I hadn’t figured the clue out yet, so if you’ve figured it out.”

Blinking away any of his surprise, Heiji continues.

“Well,” he starts, “it’s uh – well, we kno’ the clue is tha’ sticker of the alcohol label, right? So we thought, if they’re masqueradin’ as this alcohol agency, then they’re gonna leave a trail. We thought maybe the agency website itself is a clue.”

Raising an eyebrow, Shinichi shifts. He sips at his coffee, waiting for an explanation.

“…Of course.”

“We looked on the site,” Kazuha says, taking over, passing the list over. Shinichi sets his cup down, smooths out the creases, without a word. “It had a list of notable sponsors.”

Heiji fidgets beside her.

“We thought it might o’ been your organisation,” he says, “so we jotted it down, thought maybe you’d know more ‘bout it than us.”

Scanning the list, Shinichi is quiet. He mumbles alcohol names under his breath, trying to place names to the drink, but doesn’t seem to figure them. Or at least, it seems that way at first.

Then, his eyes widen, and he glances back up, looking between them both.

“What?” Kazuha says.

“It says here, that the sponsor for Vermouth, is Sharon Vineyard.” He says. “That’s true. And Miyano – her younger sister – she’s on here too. Sherry.”

Kazuha blinks. Feels bitter spread across her tongue. She bites her lip. “This is what that woman told you? So, we can trust the list?”

“She told me bits and pieces,” Shinichi says, “I’ll explain later. But – I think this list is legit. It’s got the main players. I think the list gives us people we need to look into, we need to find the evidence.”

For a moment, they’re all silent. Shinichi reaches for a pen, scrawls notes onto the page.

Then, Heiji says, “I don’t get it.”

Shinichi lifts his chin, raises an eyebrow, a silent question. Don’t get what?

“Whoever left the list, committed those murders.” Heiji lifts his hand, runs it through his hair as he tries to think. “The point was to frame you, Kudo, so what was the point in leaving you a clue to solve who did it?”

Shinichi flinches. He blanches, skin paling in a way that Kazuha’s always does whenever Heiji suggests they watch horror movies together. No – he looks almost like the ghosts that terrify her.

Or… or almost like a corpse.

“I don’t get it,” Heiji continues, and he’s not noticed Shinichi’s expression, Kazuha knows, because you can’t see such an expression and not realise. Not realise that Shinichi has an answer to that question, that it horrifies him, that it’ll leave him awake tonight just thinking about it.

“Shinichi,” Kazuha says, “do you want to talk about it?”

He makes a show of checking the time. Shinichi shakes his head, and his lips are red, bloody, from where his canines have torn through the skin. He says, “Tomorrow, we’ll finish this tomorrow.”

“But everything tha’ happened in Kyoto–”

Kazuha rests her hand on Heiji’s shoulder, and when he turns to her, she mouths, ‘not now’ at him. He quietens – Kazuha is glad. Sometimes, he never takes her lead. She’s glad he’s taking it now.

They want to solve the case, yes, but making sure they don’t break their friend is far more important.

“Alright,” Kazuha says, “we should probably be heading home now anyway, it’s late. And we can only sneak away from our parents for so long, anyway.”

“Tomorrow,” Shinichi mutters again, and Kazuha takes the muttering as it’s intended to be: A plea for them to leave.


Fighting birds for ownership of the rooftop, Aoko shifts, making her way towards the side of the building that overlooks the museum.

“You sure it’s this one,” Kaito says, “and not the offices next door?”

Aoko nods her head, taps a finger on her chin. She says, “well, there’d be more cameras in the office building than inside the apartments, right? And if the police are already on high alert, you don’t want to go on to become suspicious.”

Kaito nods, moves forward to the edge of the building, kneeling down. He glances around and then, leaning forward, scoops up a small metal casing. Aoko blinks at the sight of the bullet casing.

“What’re the chances that multiple people have fired a gun from here?” Kaito says, clicking his tongue. “Because, this doesn’t seem like it should be here.”

It probably shouldn’t be, Aoko knows that much. The police should have guessed the trajectory of the bullet, should have led their search across the street to where the gun had been fired. They should have taken the bullet casing into evidence, but they’ve overlooked it.

Aoko’s pretty certain that her father wouldn’t turn around and make such a rookie mistake like overlooking the shooters location. So, either the investigation into the shooter isn’t as high a priority as it should be, or someone’s pulling the strings, keeping people away from looking too closely into the shooter.

She doesn’t want to consider why that would be, so Aoko shakes the concern away and focuses on the evidence they’ve got in front of them.

“Do you know what it’s from?” She asks.

A pause, and then, Kaito heaves out a sigh. He shakes his head. “No… but I bet that Shinichi would know. He knows all about this kind of stuff.”

Aoko scrunches her nose. She can’t imagine being the kind of person to memorise facts about guns and bullets, to be able to identify them based off their casings and the size of bullet holes in the walls.

Still, she has to admit that in a situation such as theirs, it will be beneficial.

“It’s probably for the best that we find him then,” Aoko says, “you know how to find him, right?”

Kaito pulls a face. Which means that he does, but he’s a little nervous to let Aoko know. Aoko supposes she understands, since she shouldn’t know anything about their accomplice, about how Hattori had helped them out. But she does, she’d figured it out days ago.

It feels almost longer than that. Somehow.

“I don’t know if he’s stayed at any of the safe houses,” Kaito says, “but we can check there.”

“No,” Aoko says, “I don’t think after you got injured, he’d stay in Tokyo. I think he’d go with the one who helped you two break out. Hattori-kun, right?”

There’s no point in lying, in pretending she doesn’t know. It’ll save them both time if they avoid a lengthy explanation.

“How did you–”

“He’s not as good at lying as you are,” Aoko says. She shrugs her shoulders. “As far as I know, Hattori-kun went back to Osaka the day after the heist. The likelihood of Kudo-kun remaining by himself in as populated a city as Tokyo – it’s unlikely.”

Kaito nods his head. He says, “I don’t know where he’d go, but I agree. Hattori is probably most likely to know where Shinichi is. We should rendezvous with him in Osaka.”

Aoko’s lips lift up. She says, “You know, taking me on a trip sounds like a pretty nice date idea.”

“We’ll be sure to stop off at a nice restaurant while we’re there,” Kaito says, a slight laugh to his voice. “I’ll see if we can get cheap enough tickets there.”


“What would someone be hiding an address book for?” Sonoko asks when she comes back into the room. Ran has moved to sit beside Saguru, the two of them poured over the book, trying to figure out its meaning.

“One would think because of the addresses written inside,” Saguru says, “but the words written inside are coded. They make little sense at all.”

Ran nods. She hates that they’ve risked enough to get a clue that they can’t immediately decipher, but it must be… important, right? Whatever is hidden inside the code must be vital, something that needs to be hidden completely, so the information can only be broken apart by a set person.

“So, you need to find the key?” Sonoko continues.

“Well,” Ran says, “yeah, I suppose we do. But there’s no clues here, nothing that we can use as a key.”

She pauses, shares a look with Saguru and shakes her head. The only information in the entire book that isn’t in code, are the words, ‘for you, Silver bullet.’ It’s hardly a key, just a message.

She says as much.

Sonoko leans forward, picks at her nails and says, “why are you assuming the key is in the book? Wouldn’t it be with the silver bullet person?”

Beside her, Saguru stiffens. Almost as if he’s angry at himself for not thinking of such. And maybe they should have – why would someone leave both cipher and key together when they’ve gone through all the trouble of keeping things hidden, impossible to decipher.

So, they need to find the silver bullet.

The address book is a clue then.

“Who could the silver bullet be then?” Ran asks, and it seems almost weird to consider someone as such a thing, to have that name in her head. It’s a weird label, hardly a name, more of a title.

Beside her Saguru is quiet. He shifts in his seat and finally: “Kudo-kun.”

“Huh?”

“It can only really be him,” he says. “If we think it over – we only found the apartment because of the lists. The lists about Kudo-kun. And there are only around six people who actually know Oogami is dead. Kudo-kun and I worked that case together, the fact I figured it out is pure coincidence.”

Ran bites her lip.

“This is linked intrinsically to Kudo-kun.” Saguru whispers. “So, I think… we’ve got the cipher, and he’s got the key.”

“So, we find Shinichi and we figure out what the coded message is?” Ran asks.

“Exactly.” Saguru says.

Chapter Text

Jii buys them the tickets.

He leaves the paper in the backroom, waiting for them to grab when they get back to the Blue Parrot. Aoko wants to thank him, to grab the old man, pulling him into a hug, but doing so would be suspicious, especially while there are patrons attending the bar, grabbing his attention.

They go through the back entrance anyway, so it’s impossible to say thanks. Not yet. And part of Aoko feels guilty for that, but the other half of her understands that it’s necessary to remain quiet.

Patrons are witnesses and Aoko doesn’t need any more witnesses. Not when they need to remain anonymous.

They grab the tickets, and Kaito looks Aoko up and down, claiming they’ll need better disguises, things that will last long enough even if people start testing them.

“Your hair,” Kaito says, and he takes a moment to pause, “how do you think about colouring it? Semi-permanently, but it’s still your decision.”

It’s not the biggest change that Aoko’s been asked to make in the last twenty-four hours, he doesn’t understand why he’s giving her such a look about the decision. Even if she changes the colour, it’ll change back eventually.

It’s not a big enough change though.

“I don’t mind,” Aoko says, “make it darker.”

Kaito nods. Aoko’s hair has always been a light brown and changing it to black will change her look slightly, making her less noticeable, even if she were to lose a disguise.

What else can she do…

“How good are you at styling things?” Aoko asks, and she leans forward, looking into the small tool box that Kaito has for creating his disguises.

Kaito, frankly, looks insulted that she needs to ask. But then, he says, “I’m an expert at disguises, idiot, of course I’d be good at styling.”

“Good,” Aoko says, “because you’re going to have to make this work.”

Then, she scoops her hands around a lock of her hair, grabs a pair of scissors and begins to cut.


“We need to find Kudo-kun,” Saguru states, and he shifts on the sofa, leaning forwards as he tries to consider everything that they’ll need to know. Ran watches him, tries to figure out what he’s going to suggest, and comes up blank.

If she could find him easily, then Ran would be by his side right now, ensuring he isn’t alone. But she isn’t, and Shinichi is good at disappearing. Too good, she thinks.

“Yeah,” Ran sighs, because they need to find him, but there’s no thought in her head that offers a way as to how. “But it’s not as easy as that.”

“Rightly so,” Saguru says, and there’s something in his voice that makes her shiver. “If he were easy to find, then he’d be dead.”

Ah, not something Ran likes to spend her time thinking about. She’s thought about it in the past, when Shinichi had first been given the death penalty, when the time until the ruling could be passed had grown nearer and nearer.

“So how do we find Shinichi-kun then?” Sonoko asks. She crosses her arms, stares across at Saguru without so much as flinching. She’s the calm presence that Ran realises she’s been needing.

“We don’t find him,” Saguru says. Like it’s obvious, like he’s disappointed in them for not having come to the same conclusion. Ran opens her mouth to respond, but he cuts her off before she can say anything. “We find his accomplice.”

For a moment, Ran frowns.

She says, “The police arrested KID, he’s been in custody for three days now, I doubt he’ll know where Shinichi is.”

Saguru shakes his head. “I don’t mean Kuroba. I mean the person who helped them escape the prison.”

For a moment, Ran’s mind goes blank. KID and Shinichi had worked together to escape, obviously, and KID always managed his own escapes. Two people would have made it easier.

And then she recalls the fact that there had to be a third person. Someone on the outside who helped set the escape up.

“They’ll be impossible to find,” Ran mutters. She says, “We don’t know anything about them. The escape didn’t go perfectly, but it went well enough that there wasn’t any evidence left behind.”

“The absence of evidence,” Saguru says, his voice a deadly calm, “is evidence in itself.”

Ran pauses.

She remembers Shinichi having said something like that in the past. She’s not sure whether it’s inspiring or haunting. Ran takes a deep breath, bites into her lip and nods her head.

“Plus,” Saguru continues, “to coordinate such an escape, there must have been frequent contact. Maybe prison staff, or an ex-inmate. You can’t pull stuff off like that without planning.”

For their sake, Ran hopes it’s easy. But at the same time, she hopes that it’s challenging, impossible to find the name. After all. she’s pretty certain that they’re not the only ones looking.

“We need to head to the police station,” Saguru continues, and he pushes himself up now, face paling as he stands. He lets out a small hiss, and despite knowing it’ll only bruise his pride, Ran goes to him, concerned.

He waves her off.

“We don’t currently trust the police,” Ran reminds him, because they don’t. Not with what they know about the recent murders, about the lists. Whoever framed Shinichi has links with the police.

“We don’t?” Sonoko asks.

Ran spares her best friend a glance, shakes her head ‘no.’ She hopes the look in her gaze promises an explanation, later, when they have time, but she can’t be sure.

“Of course not,” Sonoko continues, and she throws her hands up, her tone sardonic. She says, “Wouldn’t have come to me about being shot if you could go straight to the police.”

Saguru gives a short nod. He says, “Exactly. Sorry to get you involved, Suzuki-san.”

“I’ve seen you topless, I think it’s alright to forgo formalities Hakuba-kun. It’s Sonoko.”

He gives her a dry look, one that explains that she’s only seen him in a state of undress because of the gunshot wound, and that they are not, in any way, able to forgo formalities. However, then he shrugs his shoulders and says, “Fine. Sonoko-san.”

Sometimes, Ran finds it strange how he’s so swift in changing between address. Then she remembers that he grew up in England, that they call each other by forenames, and so the change isn’t as big to him, even with his Japanese culture.

“So, you’re going to the police station,” Sonoko continues, “if we can’t trust them, is that a good idea?”

“It’s the only place we can get information, really.” Saguru says. He turns to look at Ran. “It’s up to you whether you want to come with me. I know it’s dangerous, you can stay here, and I’ll come back–”

There is no chance in hell that Ran’s going to let him go anywhere on his own. He’s already gotten himself shot, she’s not going to let him go through anything else.

“It’s okay.” Ran says, “I’m coming to.”

“They shot at you guys though,” Sonoko says. “What’s to say they won’t do it again?”

For a moment, they’re all suspended into silence. Then, Saguru leans back, breathes out a small sigh. Ran, however, is the one to answer.

“The apartment was dark.” She says. “I doubt the person who shot us made out our profile.”

Saguru clears his throat, nods. He says, “I reckon at the moment, those people are searching for us at hospitals or the likes. As long as we don’t let anyone see that we’re injured, then we’ll be fine.”

Which would be easy, but well, injuries aren’t easy to walk off. She doubts Saguru will stay on his feet the entire time without wavering, doubts that he’s a good enough actor to lie and pretend he’s fine but what does she know? Maybe she should just trust him and focus on staying well herself.

Ran doesn’t know. She reckons they’ll both figure it out.

“That doesn’t sound very safe,” Sonoko mutters, and Ran agrees. “What if they had cameras, something that saw your faces.”

“Then we need act quickly,” Saguru says. “Take the information before they think to come after us or hide it any further.”

Ran isn’t sure about whether she agrees completely, but he does have a point. She bites into her lip, nods her head.

“I’ll leave it to you two,” Sonoko says. Then, after a short pause, she glances between them both, her gaze settling on Ran’s form. “Bring him back. My family owns a villa just outside of Tokyo – it’s seldom used. Shinichi-kun can hide out there as long as he pleases once you find him.”

A pause.

“He’ll be safer there.” Sonoko says and Ran takes a moment to draw her friend back into her, squeezing her into a tight hug. Sonoko squeezes back, and the movement stings slightly, but she still curls into it. “Don’t go getting injured any further, okay?”

“We’ll try our best.”


On the train, Aoko counts seconds under her breath.

She’s not sure what she’s counting to – maybe it’s the time until the train docks into the next station, maybe it’s how long they’ve managed to go unseen – but she is. The number is high, but Aoko counts by tens, marking how many times she’s reached one hundred in a tally on her arm.

It passes the time.

Kaito watches her as she does this, raises his eyebrow when she meets his gaze, but doesn’t say anything. Maybe because he doesn’t want to interrupt whatever counting she’s doing.

Aoko sighs. She’s got a window seat, and while watching the scenery would be nice any other time, it leaves her anxious, because Kaito – beside her, in the aisle seat – is trapping her.

She feels oddly… vulnerable.

Not because of Kaito, not because she feels trapped by him, but rather, because leaving Tokyo is the riskiest part of their plan. If they’re caught here, then there’s no getting away. It’d be impossible to escape a moving vehicle – not until they reach the next stop.

Maybe KID had managed it in the past, but he’d been uninjured then. And it had been a calculated jump, something he’d no doubt spent ages planning through. Now, trying to do such a thing would only lead to disaster.

And that leaves anxiety rising up Aoko’s chest. Even her own nervousness squirms.

Perhaps Kaito notices, because he leans forward, rests a hand on her arm and finally breaks the cycle of her counting. He says, “what’s with the numbers?”

Aoko leans her head onto his shoulder, takes a moment to steady herself, focusing on her breathing. She inhales, holds her breath, and then, after five seconds, she exhales for ten. It’s still counting, but not in the same way.

“How many seconds,” Aoko says, quiet. “But I don’t know how many seconds of what.”

“It’s okay to be worried,” Kaito says, and it’s like he doesn’t need to ask about it, perhaps because he feels similarly. Or maybe Aoko is just projecting onto him, maybe he isn’t concerned about their train ride at all: There are only two options for them after all.

To be caught, or to get away with it.

“I know,” she says, closing her eyes. It’s too bright outside to block the world, not completely, but all that registers is an orange glow around black shapes. It’s easier seeing nothing, keeping her eyes closed like this. “But I can’t help but think of all the ways this train ride could go wrong.”

“I see,” Kaito leans forward, squeezes her hand. “But that’s why we stay vigilant right?”

Aoko nods her head against him. Even knowing that they’re meant to be on guard, even knowing they’re disguised, she feels like they’re unprepared.

“And anyway,” he continues, “not to play down your anxieties, but the train ride is probably going to be the easiest part. Finding Hattori and Kazuha and being able to talk to them without anyone becoming suspicious will be the hardest part.”

For a moment, Aoko feels herself nodding along.

And then, it registers. She opens her eyes, doesn’t quite understand why she feels dizzy as the realisation sinks in.

“Toyama-chan?”

Kaito blinks, and then, a smug smile sets across his face, plastered on just as well as their own disguises. He says, “you didn’t know that she was helping out?”

Perhaps the scowl that spreads across her face is unwarranted, but Aoko doesn’t try to hide it. Her own irritation settles both in her cheeks and her chest.

“How would I know that?” Aoko says, “I only found out about Hattori because it was pretty obvious.”

The way Kaito’s expression shutters should not look so haunting. There’s just something about the way his eyes dim that sends shivers down her spine, her stomach twisting.

“What?”

“Is it really obvious?” Kaito says. “Hattori having helped us?”

Oh.

Yes. Aoko supposes that having such a thing be obvious would be pretty dangerous, wouldn’t it? With their lives on the line, not just with police searches but people seeking to murder them…

They’re not exactly safe if people know who helped Kaito and Kudo escape.

“Well,” Aoko says, “it is and it isn’t? I’m pretty good at reading people, I think. So – some of the ways he was acting were suspicious.”

“…Is he in danger of being figured out?” Kaito asks, quiet. “With that information?”

It’s… well, actually, Aoko doesn’t really think that it is possible. She’d found out from a misleading question and her own gut feelings. From little things she’d personally observed. He’d been good at lying – it’s just, Aoko had been better at seeing through those lies.

“I don’t think so. No one really questioned him as far as I know.” She shrugs her shoulders, “and I think the police won’t look into him. Because of that murder.”

Tapping his fingers against his knee, Kaito takes a moment to consider it. And then, “why not because of the murder?”

“Because of the theory that the accomplice arranged to get the victim,” Aoko says. “And because Hattori was seen at the police station around that time. They’d discount him as an accomplice because of that.”

She pauses, tilts her head. “How did you guys manage to get Toyama-chan to help you?”

“We didn’t, really,” Kaito says. “It was more… she found out by accident and has kind of gone along with it since.”

“Tell me how?”

Maybe getting fully up to speed with the situation will help her settle her nerves. Aoko hopes so, anyway.


Shinichi doesn’t sleep.

He doesn’t think with the revelation that he’s received, he’d be able to, but he tries anyway, and stares at the ceiling instead. He squints his eyes shut, presses his hands to his ears as if it’ll stop his thoughts being so loud, and curls in on himself.

It’s so very cold here, even with the portable heater, even wrapped up in blankets, and Shinichi’s beginning to get the impression that it’s not because of the temperature, but how cold he feels now that he’s found out the truth.

The truth is cold, and horrifying, and it leaves him shivering.

He can’t do this. Shinichi can’t do this. How is he supposed to go into solving a case, knowing that the people who’d died weren’t killed to frame him, but rather, to save him?

What is he supposed to do now?

At some point, lying down becomes too difficult, nervous energy bubbling up inside of him, leaving him anxious, jittery. He stops staring at the ceiling, and sits up, rocking back and forth in an attempt to use up the energy.

It doesn’t work. And soon, he’s pacing back and forth, trying to figure out his thoughts, his feelings. He grapples at the noose around his neck, and knows that it was never real, that it would have never been real. There was never anything to be scared of.

And isn’t that even scarier? That he’d faced the worst of the danger when he’d been up against his fellow prisoners, the one’s who’d wrapped fingers around his neck and squeezed. Who’d taught him what it was like to be truly breathless, to gasp for air, to see black spots in his vision.

He’d never been scared of all of that, because he’d always been scared of something else, something further away, something fictional.

Shinichi chokes on a sob.

“You shouldn’t have told me,” he whispers, curling in on himself, rubbing at his cheeks. He shouldn’t be letting it get to him, not now, not when there are clues to be found, a case to be solved, but… but it won’t leave him be. “Vermouth, why did you tell me?”

He’d known that Vermouth was cruel the minute she’d made herself present, told him she’d been part of the organisation he’d started to look into, promising him information.

And he hadn’t trusted her, couldn’t trust her. Not even when the information she’d offered rang true. He’d started to think himself a fool, in prison, for not trusting her a little bit, because she’d warned him, because he’d not listened, but now he knows he was smart not to.

How can he trust someone who murders others?

(How does he trust someone who kills to keep him alive?)

The answer: He can’t.

He won’t.

Gritting his teeth together, Shinichi lowers himself to the floor. He brings a hand to his throat, holds it there. It feels like a weight as he brings it up to his mouth instead. Using it to suffocate the sound that breaks from his throat. Pained, anguished.

Guilty.

He wipes at his cheeks again, keeps wiping at them until they’re dry. Then, he pushes himself up, heads towards a small light and clicks it on. He grabs his casefiles, decides to relook over the case.

And then, the names that Hattori and Kazuha had found.

If the organisation own shares in the alcohol company, enough to list the names of various members, then Shinichi knows that’s where they should search. Does it include information leading to their head offices, the nerve centre of the organisation? Even if it doesn’t, it leaves him with a list of people to look into, a larger pool of people who might lead him there eventually.

Shinichi bites his lip.

And he decides to get started.


Ran doesn’t spend much of her time in the police station – even if it’s beginning to feel like she does – but she’s starting to get the idea that it shouldn’t be as busy as it is.

Detectives run from office to office, flittering between departments, and Ran knows half of it is because of Shinichi, but they’d not been as frantic when she’d last visited. There’s a flurry of case files, paperwork that is clenched by people’s sides as they keep moving as they consider what they need to do next in their cases.

Beside her, Saguru walks slowly, with a sense of calm that is mostly an attempt at pain management, gaze flittering between the flurry of police. He meets her eye after a second, face ashen, eyes heavy with exhaustion, but simply shrugs his shoulders.

He doesn’t know either.

Ran supposes that the lack of sleep, the pain medication they’d picked up on the way, and the whole, bullet grazing his skin, isn’t leaving him with much energy. He’s always been stubborn though, so Ran decides they can wait a while until she brings things up again, before she lectures him on pushing himself too far.

“Something’s happened,” she says instead, trying to grab his attention. “They’re too frantic.”

Saguru pauses, hesitates in his step, and takes a moment to stare at the commotion. Sometimes Ran wonders what he sees, what Shinichi and all the other detectives see, when looking at things like this, but right now, she gets the generic idea: Nothing good.

“Yes,” Saguru agrees, “the last time it was this chaotic, it was the morning of the break-in to the police station, right?”

He says it as if the event had happened ages ago, not only a week ago. Has it really only been a few days? How strange to think Shinichi has only been outside of prison for no more than two weeks.

“The day of the murder.”

Saguru grimaces, nods his head.

Things had become frantic because of an event that would spark public outrage, that would cause commotion with a backlash against the police. Before the murder, there had been a tension, time pressure, but there hadn’t been anyone from the media letting the public know.

Then the murder had caused a busyness similar to this one.

The media had caught on and there was a man dead now, so the task force had been doubled. The place had been so busy that day, because everyone had been trying to figure out what their plan of action was next.

“Exactly,” Saguru says, “Something happened, and now they’re reassessing their action plan.”

But for what reason, Ran doesn’t really understand.

They decide to head toward Inspector Nakamori’s office. Tapping against the door with a weak knock, Ran waits, watches as the inspector turns from his computer towards them.

He looks almost like he’s aged in the hours since she last saw him.

Inspector Nakamori’s expression shifts as he spots them. His eyebrows furrow, hand lifting up to loosen his tie. He begins to shake his head, lips tightening.

“No,” he says, “You kids are done with this investigation.”

Saguru leans forward, squints. “I beg your pardon?”

Inspector Nakamori pushes himself up. From the way his sleeves have been rolled up to his elbows, it’s clear that he’s been at the station for hours now. He points down at the chairs by his desk, a silent order for the two of them to sit down.

Slowly, they do.

It’s only when they’re both sat down, that Nakamori really seems to see them. He looks them up and down, as if assessing them and how they are holding up, his frown deepening.

“You look like shit,” Nakamori says, eyes on Saguru.

Saguru’s responding laugh is short, tense. He says, “Insomnia. Sometimes it’s particularly worse than other days. What’s this about us being off the case?”

The inspectors gaze flickers for a moment, to the room outside, and then, back to the both of them. His voice doesn’t crack as such, as he speaks, but weariness does drift through each lulled word: “We should never have let you teenagers work on this case, it’s highly unprofessional.”

“I disagree,” Saguru says, and he leans forward, lips twitching from where he supresses a flinch. Ran sits, almost frozen as she watches the two interact. “Give me an example of where we’ve been unprofessional, and maybe I’d believe you.”

The skin around Inspector Nakamori’s eyes tightens.

Almost like he is biting on the words, he says, “It’s unprofessional because none of you are adults, nor do you have the training.”

“What, so we don’t have a diploma so now our insight is irrelevant?”

“No, Hakuba-kun,” Nakamori says, his voice raised, enough so that Ran finds herself jumping, “your insight is irrelevant, because you’re all conflicts of interest.”

Ran watches as the words practically die on Saguru’s tongue. He looks uncomfortable with the silence that follows.

The inspector shifts in his seat, lets out a long sigh, and continues: “Mouri-san, you and Hakuba-kun both had a close connection with Kudo Shinichi. That Hattori kid too. Hakuba-kun and Aoko were both close classmates to KID. There was always a conflict of interest, but we were desperate.”

“And you aren’t now?” Hakuba asks.

Inspector Nakamori closes his eyes, inhales sharply. He reaches up, pinches his fingers against the rim of his nose.

“Not desperate enough to let sympathisers to two criminals remain on the case, no.”

Ran leans forward, she says, “I’m sorry Inspector, but I’m not sure I understand.”

“I heard from Megure, lead on the homicide side of this case, that the two of you were still trying to prove Kudo’s innocence.” The inspector leans forward, looks between them both. “I’d say that’s a pretty big conflict for the two of you, wouldn’t you?”

Saguru shifts, “we want to prove his innocence the legal way.”

He says it so smoothly that Ran can almost forget that the previous evening had included breaking and entering, that they hadn’t spent the hours prior to that, hacking into sealed police files.

“Giving the both of you access to police records while you’re sympathetic of a serial killer would be irresponsible.” Nakamori’s voice grows hard. “I won’t allow it, and frankly, the case will probably be better off for it.”

“Excuse me?”

“Shinichi is innocent, Inspector.”

Inspector Nakamori’s fingers tap against his desk, and maybe he would get angry at them, raise his voice, but he doesn’t. Perhaps, because despite all his irritations with the case and their situation, he knows he is still talking to children.

Even if Ran doesn’t feel too much like a child.

He turns to Saguru first.

“The case has suffered losses because of personal connections.” He looks almost pained now. “Aoko’s personal connection to KID led to her – from the evidence we have – helping him. Giving him her bullet-proof vest, delivering his heist notice to the precinct.”

He pauses.

“Helping him escape the hospital.”

Ran hadn’t thought it was possible for Saguru’s face to pale even further. Ran imagines her face is similar, the blood drained, leaving her looking almost corpse-like. The shock is almost overbearing.

“KID escaped?”

“I expect the two of you will learn about it later,” Nakamori says, “when it makes the news. Like every other civilian.”

Honestly, Ran knows she shouldn’t be so shocked. Aoko had opened up to her, told her about how she loved KID, how she just didn’t know how she should feel about him anymore. The other girl must have finally made her decision on how she perceived the thief.

“All worries aside, Inspector,” Saguru says, “we’re not your daughter.”

“No,” Nakamori accepts, “you’re not. But you’re both in a similar situation to her, in relation to your relationships with Kudo. So, you’re off the case. We won’t risk it any further.”

“But–”

“A man is dead,” Nakamori says. “Two officers have been tasered, their identities stolen. KID was shot. I don’t think you realise how little choice you have in me taking you off this case.”

“I guess that all you need to say then,” Saguru says, and now he pushes himself up, not bothering to restraint the scowl that twists his lips. “We’ll leave you to it.”

Ran follows suit, standing. Her expression, she likes to think, is lacking in the hostility that her friend is wearing. She says, “We understand, Inspector. We’ll take our leave.”

Saguru takes the lead, leaving the room without another word, practically storming out. Ran goes to follow, pauses only when the inspector clears his throat.

“Mouri-san,” he says, and Ran turns, watches him. “You truly believe in Kudo Shinichi’s innocence, even when the evidence points elsewhere?”

She nods.

The inspector sighs. He says, “having that much faith in the absence of evidence doesn’t make you loyal, Mouri-san. It makes you a fool.”


“Okay,” Kaito says, once they step off the train, uncaught. “It’s time to find Hattori.”

Aoko shivers against him. It’s not cold by any means, but the train station seems to bring a chill with it. Maybe because looking around, there are so many people.

They’d gotten onto the train from Tokyo pretty last minute and had managed to avoid being stood in waiting in the crowd, but now, as they try to figure out where they’re headed, they can’t avoid it.

She sticks to Kaito like glue. Her hand gripped tightly on his sleeve, like a scared child trying desperately not to seem afraid.

Kaito pulls out his burner phone, taps against the screen. For something that he’ll have to throw away if they’re noticed, it’s pretty expensive, but Aoko supposes that fits into his disguise as well. How many people expect someone to have a smart phone as a burner phone?

“What are you doing?” She asks, arching her neck to see the screen. He’s opened the search engine, tapping against the screen to see what shows up.

“Well,” Kaito says, “these teen detectives don’t really get much privacy, do they?”

Aoko blinks. Sure enough, on the web search, he’s looking up Hattori, trying to find out information on the guy.

“…Please tell me you’re not trying to use google to figure out where we go next?”

“But that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Kaito says, he zooms in on the screen, tilts his screen so she can see better. “I mean, it’s an efficient way to find out where to go. And see here – his school.”

Should she be finding it creepy that the internet know which school Hattori goes to? Isn’t that the sort of thing that shouldn’t be making it online – who goes around declaring all this information about teenage detectives?

“Right,” Aoko says. “That’s where we’re headed then?”

“Exactly. It’s a few hours until the end of the school day. If we catch the next bus, we should get to the school just as classes finishes.”

“It’s far?”

“Not too far, really,” Kaito says, switching from his search for Hattori’s information and looking up the route to get to the detective’s high school. “It just seems to be one of those buses that likes to take an obscure route.”

Ah, Aoko hates bus routes like those.

Either way, it will give her some time to consider what to say when she meets Hattori again, to think about what she will say to Kudo, if the convict is easily accessible.

“Let’s go then,” she says, looking up at the signs to see which way the bus stops are, “which bus was it?”


Heiji isn’t sure whether the paranoia begins to build during class or after they’re let out, but he feels it inside his stomach, and would kind of appreciate if it went away.

It doesn’t though. In fact, if anything, it intensifies as their cleaning duty after class progresses, even more so as they head out down the gates. As if someone is watching them. Or maybe even, just a gut feeling that something bad is going to happen.

Not an altogether incorrect feeling, he supposes.

But hearing Kudo’s fear on the phone yesterday has him slightly freaked. About people being shot – about their leads being that dangerous. Of course, Heiji had known, it’d been hard to forget the danger, but knowing that it’s possible someone has been injured again.

Kudo reckons Kuroba and Nakamori.

And if they’re being hunted down now, then what means Heiji and Kazuha won’t be either, when they’d opened that notable sponsors list?

He stands by the gate, closes his eyes for a moment and tries to breathe.

“Everything okay?” Kazuha asks, stopping in her stride to face him. Maybe he’s pale, the blood drawing away from his face, but something in his expression must be rattled enough to catch her attention. “Heiji?”

“Yeah,” Heiji mutters. “Just feeling a little…”

“Worried?”

“Paranoid.” He reaches up, rubbing at the back of his neck. It doesn’t rub away the growing jumpiness. “I think it’s just been a long d–”

He trails off, takes a moment to glance around at everything happening around them. Their school opens out to the main street, so it’s not unusual for there to be an influx of people walking past. Nor is it unusual for some of the benches by the street to be filled with people.

It’s just – he isn’t sure.

Something feels wrong. Like they’re being watched.

Except there’s not really anything out of the ordinary. Businessmen walking past, groups of teenagers sat around, talking after school has ended.

“I’m,” he shakes his head, “-it’s nothing. Let’s walk home.”

Perhaps a testament to how well Kazuha trusts him, she doesn’t second guess. She simply falls into step beside him, quiet washing over them both as Heiji keeps an eye on his surroundings.

They have to head home before they can drive to visit Kudo, and Heiji reminds himself that this is a good thing. Even if he’s impatient most of the time, the distance between school and home are far enough that he can assess his own paranoia to see if it’s safe enough to go straight away.

If they’re being followed, after all, then it’s for the best if they hold off. That way, none of them get traced back to Kudo.

“You can drive a bike, right?”

She frowns, nods her head. “I got m’ license a few months after you did, idiot. Of course, I can.”

Heiji knows, of course he knows, but somehow having Kazuha explain as such helps to settle him.

He glances around, feels his eyes narrow. There’s a few familiar faces even as they turn the corner, heading towards a more residential area, people who had been stood outside the school but now have started walking in a similar direction.

Four catch his attention, leaving him nervous. One, a woman with blonde hair, short, curling around the bottom. Another, a businessman, and lastly, a pair of teenagers like them, both female, talking to one another as they keep walking.

“I think,” Heiji says, as they keep walking, taking another turn. Three of his four concerns keep following. Perhaps it’s coincidence, but something in his head tells him that it’s not. “That we’re being followed.”

Not many people tend to follow them – Heiji and Kazuha have been walking this route for years. And people don’t tend to go the back route, it’s not worth it unless they’re headed to the edge of the residential area, like Kazuha does.

Kazuha takes the concern with an ease that seems almost too much. She nods her head, and says, “alright, what do we do abou’ it?”

“If you head home,” Heiji says, “like we usually would, then I’ll head back t’ mine. If they keep going my way, then I’ll let ya know, an’ you can head to – ya know – on your bike.”

She frowns. “Is splittin’ up a good idea, really?”

Heiji shrugs his shoulders. He lowers his voice, “probably not. But I think one o’ us should get to Kudo if we are, right? And th’ chances of me bein’ the one followed are higher than you bein’ followed.”

Kazuha purses her lips. She says, “okay. But I don’t really like this, just for th’ record.”

Honestly, Heiji doesn’t like it too much either.

“Don’t tell Kudo until I can confirm it for real,” Heiji says. “The guy’s paranoid enough.”

Kazuha’s expression darkens, but still, she accepts. Maybe it’s selfish, asking her not to tell Kudo about it, but he does regardless. He could just be overreacting.

“Phone me if everything’s okay,” Kazuha says, “I want to hear it from you.”

Heiji nods. “Of course.”

“Alright then,” Kazuha hesitates, and then, since they’re coming up to her turning, she offers a weak smile and the words, “see you later.”

She offers a short wave, and then, she’s gone. Heiji keeps walking straight. A quick glance over his shoulder shows that the three he’d been watching, keep walking straight too.