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Chapter Text

Conan’s hands shook. He anxiously bit his lip.

It had been three weeks since he got any. Three. Weeks. He could usually convince Professor Agasa to give in and sate Conan’s craving, but the scientist had been gone the last two weekends at a convention. Ran watched her stash too closely for Conan to sneak a few grams.

It was now coming up on his third weekend and Conan was going through withdrawals.

What’s worse, KID had announced a heist that night. With his shaky hands and jittery nerves, Conan would be lucky if he spotted the thief, let alone caught him. He really hoped Agasa came home the next day so Conan could beg some-!

Conan stopped, a fragrant, familiar smell hitting his nose.

Eyes like a hawk, Conan honed in on the source. A single barista in the lobby of the museum –the newest fad these days. The barista seemed… familiar. Dark hair, laughing eyes, it was most likely KID, Conan deduced, but his hands…

In his hands was liquid gold.

It was easy to snake his way through the crowd and clamber up a high stool, eyes on his prize. Before the fake-barista could take his order, Conan whispered harshly, “Hand it over, KID, and nobody gets hurt.”

The thief paled, though his smile made a brave attempt on his face.

“I’m sorry?” KID asked, voice a little deeper than usual. Probably an attempt to further hide himself.

“You heard me.” Conan retorted viciously, straining to reach the object in KID’s hands, “Give it!”

KID gave it.

Conan inhaled and let out a moan that was, frankly, obscene. It made KID twitch from where he stood on the other side of the counter.

Weeks, he’d been without this for weeks. And now that he’d finally been reunited with it…

He was going to savor this.

The first mouthful of that bitter-sweet ambrosia was like heaven in his mouth. He almost couldn’t bear to swallow and lose that little slice of bliss he’d managed to find –almost.

“Uh… Tantei-kun?” KID called, alerting Conan to his presence. Why was the thief still there? Conan didn’t need him anymore. He was free to go. “Um… you know coffee isn’t for kids, ri-?”

Conan hissed and curled protectively over his cup.

KID shrank back and fell silent.

Conan kept an eye on the thief as he took another sip of heaven. Slowly, he relaxed again, lulled by the heat and bitter-sweet taste.

“Um, I’m just gonna…” KID pointed at the officers. They had gathered at the stairs to his target exhibit, “… go steal stuff now.”

Conan waved him off. He got what he wanted. Conan wasn’t moving from this spot until he was done. A guy had to have his priorities in order, after all.

KID hesitated, as if he thought Conan would unveil him, just like that. When he didn’t, the thief just… walked off. He looked back a couple times, but no, Conan was not following him.

What did the thief think he was? Stupid?

As soon as he went back to the adults, his coffee would be confiscated and he’d be back to square one.

No, Conan much preferred sitting here, coffee in hand, to that.

What had to be fifteen minutes later, KID returned, fuming. He dropped the gem stone next to Conan and crossed his arms with a pout, “I stole it, you know. My heist is over.”

“That’s nice.” Conan said, taking the last sip of his coffee and feeling all the more human for it.

“It wasn’t the right one, in case you were wondering.” KID continued, but Conan wasn’t listening. He stared forlornly at the bottom of his cup. Empty.

“Ugh, fine!” KID sighed loudly, dragging a hand down his face, “I’ll make you another, just… stop with the pouting!”

Two cups of coffee in one day?

Conan’s luck was turning around!

Chapter Text

Conan: I have been shrunk to an eight-year-old's body by a poison that was supposed to kill me. If the Black Organization ever finds out I lived, I and everyone I love will be killed

Agasa: I’ll lie to your childhood friend about your identity so she doesn't find out.

Yukiko (mom): I’ll lie to your childhood friend about your heritage so she doesn't find out.

KID: I’ll disguise myself as you, so your childhood friend sees us both in place and disregards all suspicions.

Hattori: I gives no shits.

Chapter Text

KID cackled as he slid in through the roof vent unit. Normally, he left by rooftop. Now, he was arriving by it. He was sure he’d thrown Nakamori-keibu off, given no one had been posted at the vent. Then again, the location may have been enough to throw Nakamori off his game.

Shimmying down the first drop, KID quickly navigated his way through the maze of vents. Not for the first time, he was happy that this building had such large vents –most likely to keep the air fresh for their product. The vents were also cleaned regularly, so his white uniform remained clean and dust-free.

He should target buildings like this more often!

Sadly, it was more likely he wouldn’t. It was only by chance that he had this heist in the first place.

After all, what normal person thought to bake a gem into a wedding cake?

Okay, in the fondant tier decorations, but still!

By the map in his head, Kaito figured he’d be right above the main kitchen of the bakery. A quick look through the grates of the ceiling vent confirmed that.

Officers milled about, waiting for the time of the heist (three minutes). A short, blonde-hair girl in a frilly pink dress stood threateningly in front of a display, two guys on either side of her. The dark-haired guy was dressed in a forest green jacket/pant combo while the other guy (with white hair, like white white) sported some of the trendiest looking clothes KID had ever seen. Maybe the guy was a model?

The display itself looked something of a mash of the traditional bride and groom and something resembling dodgeball as far as Kaito could tell. The display was only half done, the gem not yet integrated into the design –to which Kid was grateful. He didn’t want to mess up the work of another artist.

Two minutes now. Kaito looked around the rest of the room, surveying the officers. That’s when he saw it.

The giant twenty-layered, fudge covered, dark chocolate cake. The flowery decorations were all chocolate icing as well as the chocolate figurines. It was so beautiful, an actual tear trailed down Kaito’s cheek. Just looking at it made Kaito’s mouth water. The things he wanted to do to that cake.

Kaito shook his head. No! He had to be strong! He came here for the gem! He was looking for Pandora!

One minute left.

KID looked at the cake. 45 seconds.

He looked at the gem. 30 seconds.

Brown eyes looped up, locking gazes with Kaito. 15 seconds.

Kaito nodded to himself, mind made up.

The officers counted down. The dark-haired guy crouched, fist cupped with one hand at his side. The white-haired guy fingered something in his pocket, looking strangely calm in this situation. The girl cracked her knuckles.

KID gulped.

“3… 2… 1… 0-!”

Smoke filled the room.

“Bisky!”

“I’m fine!”

“He’s coming from the ceiling!”

“Wha-? Why didn’t you say that earlier?!”

“I thought you knew!”

“Your freakin’ super senses –No, I didn’t know!”

“Hey! Less talking, more guarding! He can’t get Blue Planet! Not after all I’ve done to get it!”

“Kaitou KID!” that was Nakamori, but KID didn’t hear him.

He was already gone, prize in tow.

The smoke cleared.

“Inspector!” an officer shouted, “KID’s gone!”

“Haaaah?!” Nakamori yelled. He whirled around to glare at the gem’s owner, “The jewel?!”

The blonde-haired girl turned to look. She frowned, “It’s still here.”

“What?” Nakamori ran over to see for himself. The blonde girl lifted the blue jewel, inspecting it, but no, it was real. Nakamori lilted to one side, “But… if he didn’t take the gem… then what-?”

He cut off at the cry of the white-haired guy. The white-haired guy had his hands in his hair, eyes open wide in shock, “My cake!”

The cake was, indeed, gone.

Where the cake had been, was a small white card.

Sorry for the change of plans, Nakamori-keibu, but this was a chance I could not pass up.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

-Kaitou KID

“… I never thought I’d see someone who loved chocolate as much as you.” The dark-haired guy said to the white-haired one.

The sound of electricity made the hairs on the back of Nakamori’s neck stand on end. The look on the white-haired guy’s face was murderous. “Gon, we’re going after him.”

“Wait, Killua! We can just get another cake!”

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito stared at the cake, unsure of how he was going to eat the entire twenty layers and various decorations without succumbing to diabetes. He could probably freeze some of it and those chocolate decorations would last a while…

He really needed to get a handle on his impulses.

Chapter Text

“-coffee?”

“Sweet, heady and covered in cream.” Shinichi answered, not seeing the look on his friend’s face afterwards. However, he did see the look on Kaito’s face –one of abject horror.

When he looked up, all of his friends –Hattori, Kazuha, Ran, Hakuba, and Aoko –all of them avoided eye contact with him.

Shinichi had messed up. He knew he messed up… he just didn’t know how he messed up.

Taking a few seconds to replay the conversation, he tried to see what, exactly would make everyone react like that, but… nope, he had just answered the question.

How did he like his coffee?

Maybe it’s that people always thought he liked it ‘as dark as my soul’? But, really, he could do some sweet things, as long as the sugar was offset by something equally bitter.

Looks like he had no choice.

He’d have to ask Ran.

“Shinichi, how could you?!”

Or just wait as Kaito left to his feet and threw a bundle of scarves in Shinichi’s face. The detective watched, stunned, as his boyfriend stormed off.

“What just happened?” he asked more to himself than anyone else.

“You answered the question,” Hakuba replied, “Completely serious.”

Shinichi frowned, “Yeah? And?”

“Kaito doesn’t like those things out in the open!” Aoko hissed at him.

Shinichi leaned back in his seat, eyeing her and everyone else at the table. Had they lost their mines? “Kaito never cared to keep my drink orders a secret before.”

 “When you say you’re ‘drink orders’…” Kazuha started, but Ran cut her off.

“Wait!” she dropped her forehead into her hands, “I think I know what happened here.”

Thank God, because Shinichi did not.

“Shinichi, what question were you answering?” Ran asked.

Shinichi looked at her, as if she was suddenly going to take her question back, but no, she was really asking.  He said, very slowly, “How I like my coffee?”

“That’s it?” Ran confirmed. The rest of the table was tense for some reason unknown to Shinichi.

“Yeah?” He felt like he should be hiding to get away from those intense stares. “I mean, I know most people think I like black coffee, but I didn’t think it was that big of a surprise?”

The entire table continued to stare at him for several seconds before everyone deflated.

“What?” Shinichi asked, completely confused. “Did I not hear the right question?”

“Well, kinda?” Hattori scratched under his cap, “You heard half of it.”

“Half?” Shinichi parroted.

“We were making fun of a meme going around,” Hakuba informed him, “I like my coffee how I like my women, followed by some smart remark.”

“Kaito said ‘I don’t like coffee’,” Aoko pointed out.

“Which is, in fact true,” Shinichi replied. Then Hakuba’s statement, combined with Kaito’s hit him. Then he remembered how he had answered.

His face erupted into flames.

“Wha-! But-! I-I didn’t-!” He trailed off into a wounded whine.

“It’s okay, Shinichi,” Ran patted his shoulder. “We all get-!”

“I’m not even on top!” Shinichi shouted, as if that made his situation any better. The entire group stared at him again, but Shinichi’s mind was elsewhere. If Kaito had drawn some conclusions about his misplaced comment…

He needed to find his magician and set things right!

Before he went home and found himself in the middle of a one-sided, week long prank war again.

Chapter Text

KID couldn’t help himself. That scent was so tantalizing. Just a little bit wouldn’t hurt.

Tantei-kun reared back, nearly falling out of KID’s arms, the look on his face shocked and bemused. “Did you… did you just sniff me!?”

Kaito didn’t answer because: yes, yes he had.

“Not only is that an invasion of privacy,” Tantei-kun ranted, the scent becoming spicier with his anger, “But also pointless!”

“I would say it had a point.” Kaito said, a little loose-lipped with that incredible scent in the air between them, “You smell really good, Tantei-kun.”

Tantei-kun feel quiet, eyes going wide, “KID… KID, I don’t smell like anything.”

“Of course you do.” Kaito retorted, “Bittersweet coffee, fresh like lemons and a little musty like library books.”

“KID,” Tantei-kun turned serious, “The poison didn’t just shrink me. It took away my Alpha instinct and dropped my pheromone production down to practically nothing. I don’t smell like anything.”

But that wasn’t right because Kaito could smell him just fine and-!

Oh.

Realization hit him in the gut.

Only Kaito could smell him because Kaito was attuned to him, to Tantei-kun specifically.

Tantei-kun was his mate.

The look on the teen-turned-child’s face showed he knew full well what KID had just realized. This was important. This was life-changing. This was-!

Going to have to wait for later.

When they didn’t have a deadly virus outbreak on an airship. When that same airship wasn’t heading straight for one of the most populated cities in Japan. When Tantei-kun’s ‘nee-chan’ wasn’t on the brink of being killed, along with all the officers on KID’s Taskforce.

After all that was done and over, then, they would talk.

They never did.

*             *             *             *             *

When Kaito had presented as an Omega, he had a short pre-heat and then nothing else. He never had another heat follow, nothing like what his friends complained about –sweltering, burning heat, out of his mind with need.

No, Kaito just got a little warm, like he had drunk some sake without a meal. His scent got a little heavier for a few days and that was it.

Aoko accused him of using suppressants, but that wasn’t the case. Kaito just… didn’t go into heat.

Until now.

Kaito woke up and found he couldn’t leave his bed, let alone the house. His pants were soaked along with his sheets. If he’d been in his right mind, he’d have died of embarrassment.

Instead, he called Aoko, begging for help.

The girl came over, a smug smile on her face which quickly fell when she saw the state her friend was in. Without words, she drew a bath –lukewarm, but felt freezing to Kaito –and threw him in.

“I’m going to the store,” she said, voice urgent as she felt his forehead, “You don’t have any of the food for heat and your mattress doesn’t have a pad to soak up extra slick. Stay in the bath until you’ve cooled down. Don’t fall asleep in it!”

Kaito groaned some kind of confirmative. The water was starting to warm up, or he was cooling down –whichever, it felt great! He didn’t hear her leave.

None of his heats had been like this! What was different?

Two days ago, Kaito had noticed his own pre-heat habits –throwing extra covers and pillows onto his bed, wanting to eat every spec of chocolate in sight. He’d known he would spend the few days following in his usual pseudo-tipsy state.

He done his heist anyway.

And that, maybe, is where things went wrong.

Because remembering the heist, remembering Tantei-kun held by his shirt by a criminal, remembering Tantei-kun plummeting out the window threw Kaito’s heart in third gear. Remembering catching him, holding him close, smelling his scent…

A gush of slick slipped into the water.

Kaito whined in embarrassment and need as his hands traveled downwards.

*             *             *             *             *

Conan groaned as he lay in his futon. It was hot, way too hot. He was on fire, burning up inside…

Was he sick? Was he dying? He couldn’t die yet! He still had to take down the organization! He couldn’t-!

His stomach clenched painfully. Conan whimpered.

“I don’t like it.” Conan heard a voice say, “He looks like he’s in pain! We should take him to the hospital!”

“Brat’s just got a stomach bug! Few days, he’ll be fine!”

“Otou-san!”

Conan rolled over and puked. It didn’t make his stomach feel any better. Instead, it felt worse.

At least he’d missed his futon.

*             *             *             *             *

“Your body was trying to go into rut.” Haibara stated.

“Rut?” Conan frowned, “But I’ve never gone into rut! Not while I’ve been Conan!”

“Correct. The APTX should have put a stop to those hormones.” Haibara said, “So it’s strange that they have started up production so suddenly. Have you don’t anything different recently that you can think of?”

Conan opened his mouth to deny, but paused and though. He sighed, “Yeah, I can think of something.

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito woke up nice and cool and everything was right with the world again. Which is why he should have expected the text from Tantei-kun.

We need to talk –KS

Chapter Text

KID held the newest target up to the light of the full moon. His wide grin faded and his sighed. Not the right one. Oh well, next time, he told himself. Always next time.

Footsteps made his grin return.

Looks like his favorite Tantei-kun had made it after all. KID had been worried, since this was Paris and little Tantei-kun was in Japan, but it appears the tyke followed him. KID was flattered.

A strange whirl made KID dodge instinctively. He was… mildly surprised to see a bright red yo-yo fly by. Did Tantei-kun get a few additions to his arsenal?

Kid turned and blinked, “You’re not Tantei-kun.”

The girl standing where Tantei-kun should have been gave him a confused look before falling a bit deeper into her defensive crouch. Her outfit was… tight… and reminded KID heavily of ladybugs. “Stop speaking gibberish, Akuma! Hand over the gem!”

“Ah!” KID switched over to French, “My apologies, I was expecting someone else –someone who speaks Japanese.”

The girl startled at his abrupt language shift.

“AS for the gem,” KID held it up, inspecting it again, before making it disappear in a cloud of smoke. “I will be handing it back to the police. It was not what I was looking for, after all.”

“If you think I’m just going to believe some Akuma-!” whatever else the girl was going to say got lost under an excited squeal.

“Oh my gosh!” a blonde-haired boy landed on the roof. His outfit had a distinctly cat-like quality to it. And… did that belt just move? Like a tail?

Well, it wouldn’t be the weirdest think Kaito had seen. He did know Akako after all.

“Ladybug!” the boy stage whispered to the girl, “It’s Kaitou KID! He’s actually here! In Paris!”

“Only for tonight, I assure you.” KID put his hands in his pocket. “Despite what the newspapers say, I am not returning to Paris to stay. I have someone waiting for me back home.”

“KID Killer, right?” the cat-boy perked up, his ears standing straight up in excitement. “He’s the closest one to ever have been able to catch you! He’s been made out to be your intellectual rival. He’s who you’re talking about, right?”

Well… Tantei-kun was one of the reasons Kaito would need to return. And had he not known Tantei-kun was indeed far smarter than any boy his physical age (though not mental age) should be, he may have taken the cat-boy’s guess as an insult.

But he didn’t.

“You seem to know a lot about me, but I don’t know you.” KID said, cocking his head to the side, “Care to enlighten me?”

The girl drew herself up and crossed her arms, “I don’t want to give my name out to just-!”

“She’s Ladybug and I’m Chat Noir.” The cat-boy interrupted, not seeing her glare, “We’re heroes of Paris!”

KID blinked, “You are not Chat Noir.”

The bat-boy’s ears ducked down. His smile fell, “Yes, I am.”

“No.” KID said, shaking his head, “I distinctly remember Chat Noir being female.”

“What-?”

“Also, she only targets Cat’s Eyes,” KID added on, putting his thumb to his chin in thought, “And last I checked, she had retired, having recovered all the gems in her father’s collection.”

The cat-boy’s eyes grew wide, excited again. He breathed, “You met Chat Noire?!”

“Chat, who is he talking about?” the red-spotted girl asked, looking more and more confused. Unfortunately for her, the door to the roof chose to open.

“Apologies.” KID told them, “But it appears the person I was waiting for decided to show up after all.”

To the intruder, KID said, “Greetings, Tantei-kun. Did you have a nice flight?”

“Sending the notice to my parents was cheating!” The child groused, then he spotted the two heroes and took a startled step back. “What, have you started multiplying?!

“I assure you, they are on the correct side of the law.” KID answered as the cat=boy squealed again.

“Ladybug! It’s KID Killer!”

“I don’t know who either of these people are!” the girl stomped her foot, “And what are they saying to each other?!”

“It’s just a greeting.” KID replied to her. “My companion, unfortunately, does not speak French.”

Do you speak Mandarin?” the cat-boy asked, switching between languages, “Or English?

Ah! Yes, I speak English.” Tantei-kun answered, shakily, “I am here for Kaitou KID. I am going to catch him!

“Aw!” the girl cooed, giving voice to Kaito’s inner thoughts. Tantei-kun was adorable when he pretended to be an ordinary child. “You’re so cute!”

You know,” the cat-boy squatted down, looking the kid over with his bright green eyes. “I thought you would be more impressive, for being KID Killer and all.

“Eh-heh,” Tantei-kun backed up warily, “Well, what can I do? I am just a kid-!

And that was KID’s cue, “It’s nice to know you’ll follow me anywhere, Tantei-kun, but how about you follow me back to Japan, neh? After all, this gem wasn’t the one I was looking for.

“KID!” Tantei-kun shouted as KID leapt off the roof and let out his white wings. The tell-tale whirl of electricity had KID dodging the soccer ball before it ever got close.

“Whoa.” The cat-boy said, in awe of that explosive kick.

“Should we go after him?” Ladybug asked, “He’s not an Akuma, but he did take that gem.”

“Don’t bother.” Conan said. The girl looked at him weird. He took the gem from his pocket, “He slipped it in when you two weren’t looking.”

The cat-boy squealed again.

*             *             *             *             *

Monday morning saw the gem back in the hands of its rightful owner and Conan back in Japan where he belonged. His friends buzzed about him, asking about the legendary City of Love.

Half-way around the world, a dark-haired girl was being accosted by her friend.

“Marinette,” a brunette leveled the girl with a look, “What are you reading?”

“Um…” the dark-haired girl hid behind her magazine, “Just… some things on Kaitou KID?”

“That thief from last weekend?”

“Y-yeah. And, um… the KID Killer?”

“The only one who seems able to stand up to the thief?”

“R-right!”

“Hmmm…” the brunette eyed her, but dropped the subject, “Okay, but be careful what you read, girl. Some of those things can get down and dirty pretty fast.”

“Of course, Alya!” the dark-haired girl didn’t have the heart to tell her friend that these magazines she was reading?

They were from Adrien.

Chapter Text

“Uh, Thief?” Shinichi stared into identical (if younger) blue eyes. He ignored the correction ‘Magician!’ by rout, choosing to point down at the child in front of them, “What is this?”

“Not what, who,” the child answered, scanning Shinichi with what looked like an alternate version of the sonic screwdriver. “And to answer your question: I am the Detective, Last Time Lord in existence.”

Shinichi looked over at the Thi –Magician and raised an eyebrow. The Magician simply shrugged and grinned that maniacal grin at him, “You heard him.”

“Tantei-kun?” the second Magician –er, magician, hovered over the Detective’s small form, heedless of the younger’s growing temper. “Is this us in the future? ‘Cause I gotta say, you grow up hot.”

“Time Lord’s do not grow up, we-!”

“Merely change forms. Though there are instances where, should we remain in one form long enough, it does age,” the Magician finished far more pleasantly than the Detective had begun. The Magician merely smiled at the Detective’s glare.

“And didn’t I tell you to quit calling me that?” the mini-Shinichi grumbled, “My name is Detective, Kaito, Detective.”

“That’s what I said,” an oh-so-familiar grin spread across the Magician’s double –Kaito’s cheeky face.

The Magician eyed Shinichi speculatively. Shinichi glared, “Don’t even try it.”

“You always ruin my fun!” the Magician sighed dramatically.

“So, what do we have here?” Shinichi asked, “Imperfect clones? Merging timelines? You said you were the last of the Time Lords.”

“I am,” the Magician said just as the Detective scoffed, “More like overlapping Universes –alternate ones.”

“Magic!” Kaito and the Magician said simultaneously with identical hand gestures. They looked at each other and grinned.

The Detective and Shinichi sighed and turned to each other for some intelligent conversation. They ignored the flashes, pops, and smoke as the two pranksters decided to one-up each other.

“Alternate universes?” Shinichi prompted.

“There are theories that the number of parallel universes is infinite. In one, you took a left turn. In another, you took a right,” the Detective explained.

“In one, I am human,” Shinichi fiddled with his sleeve, “Only a companion to the Magician. In another…”

“You are the Detective,” the boy confirmed, glancing over to his companion, “And the Magician is the human, short lifespan and all. If he was born at all.”

Shinichi glanced over where the Magician was covered with confetti, in the process of covering Kaito with silly string. He couldn’t imagine a world without the Magician in it, in even the smallest aspect.

The very thought made the universe seem darker.

“However, you do not need to worry,” the Detective assured, having sensed Shinichi’s distress, or perhaps, in response to his own, “the parallel universes are called such because they never meet.”

“But we did,” Shinichi pointed out.

“A rare anomaly, most likely a one in a google chance,” the Detective surmised, giving his screwdriver a pointed shake. “Once we leave here, the disturbance should settle. Likely, our universes were already close and it’s by chance that we decided to go to the same place and the same time. Two Tardises across two universes likely reached out and pulled us together until the overlap merged.”

“So once the Tardis moves…” Shinichi nibbled at the corner of his cheek, “We should be fine? No adverse reactions?”

“None I can foresee,” the Detective confirmed.

“If there are…” because, knowing Shinichi’s luck (and therefore the Detective’s), there would be.

The Detective seemed to agree, “We meet back here and send out a multi-universal distress beacon.”

“Do we have on?” Shinichi asked. If parallel Universes were meant to stay parallel, would a beacon come through?

“Not yet, but you will,” the Detective looked over at the two magicians, “If I can build one, so can he,” the Detective pocketed the screwdriver, “Hey! Thief!”

Twin calls of –“That’s not my name!”

The Detective grimaced, “Get over here. We’re leaving.”

“Aw, already?” Kaito wined.

The Magician clapped him on the back, “It’s all good, other me! We’ll see each other again! Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after-!”

“And that’s enough of that,” Shinichi said, heading to the Tardis, “If you’re not here in the next five seconds, I’m leaving without you.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” The look on the Magician’s face was not as sure as he wanted it to be. “Besides, you can’t drive.”

Aoko remembers who cleaned up her lab after your latest experiment.” Shinichi gave him a pointed look as the Detective and Kaito had a similar conversation behind him.

The Magician squawked and flew inside.

Shinichi couldn’t help a small, secret smile as he followed. Who would have known facing off against the eccentric, note-leaving thief all those years ago would have led to something like this?

Chapter Text

Kaito held up the jewel to the moonlight, eyes not truly focusing. It was only about the size of a quarter –too small to actually hold a doublet within it, but Kaito had already exhausted all of the jewels in Japan. He was grasping at straws as it was with the strange legend surrounding this one.

Granting new life under the eyes of the moon –yeah right.

At this rate, Kaito would have to start going abroad. That would mean moving from his home and the KID Cave, leaving behind Aoko and school, and most importantly, surrendering the chance to match wits against-!

KID!”

Right on time. KID thought as he turned with the gem still held high. He cracked a crooked grin, “Tantei-kun! I was wondering when you would get here!”

The boy stood panting at the top of the stairs. Most likely because Kaito took out the only elevator in the twenty story building, but still. Looks like Kaito would have to start working on his detectives’ workout routines, add in some hill-training.

Instead of replying, Conan brought up his watch, barely taking aim before firing the invisibly thin needle. It was always a gamble. Take too long to aim and Kaito would dodge. Not take long enough, and he’d miss entirely. This time, it was a moment that Kaito could take to dodge by merely leaning back.

What he didn’t expect was for the needle to clip the gem and send it plummeting off the edge of the building.

“Haaa!” Kaito yelled as he doubled over the railing, “the gem!”

Something sailed past him –something decidedly not soccer ball shaped.

Tantei-kun!” Kaito shouted as he dove after the (stupid, self-sacrificing, suicidal-!) kid plummeting to his death. Just as the boy grabbed the gem, Kaito grabbed him, and snapped his hang glider out. It was close, a near miss, but wind caught under his sails and Kaito managed to pull them out of the sharp dive to slingshot them back into the air. He let out a relieved sigh…

Then turned on the (idiotic) boy.

“What were you thinking!?” Kaito demanded. He clutched the boy tighter to him as they banked, heading to one building over from his heist. “You could have died!”

“You would have caught me,” Tantei-kun answered confidently, “It would go against your code otherwise.”

Next time, I should just let you drop,” Kaito grumbled to himself as he landed on the vacant roof. One roof over, he could hear Nakamori-keibu swearing up a storm. Focusing his attention on the squirming boy in his arms, Kaito demanded, “Give me the gem.”

“I got it back fair and square!” Tantei-kun argued, trying to wrestle himself down. He kicked backwards, but the best he did was a bruise to Kaito’s thigh. He got shot at regularly, a bruise was nothing.

“And you nearly died doing so!” Kaito countered, holding the boy with one arm as he attempted to wrestle the gem from tiny hands with the other, “You don’t get to keep the jewel if you’re going to put your own life in dan-!”

He cut off as the boy let out a sharp cry and the jewel in their hands flashed once, brilliantly, before lighting up like a tree at Christmas. The light was blinding, so much that Kaito had to close his eyes and look away –an effect echoed by Tantei-kun if the nose buried in his shoulder was any indication.

Kaito felt the jewel vanish from their fingers.

Hey!” Tantei-kun shouted in outrage, “Give it back!”

“It wasn’t me!” Kaito said, cautiously opening his eyes. He had to blink away bright spots in his vision before he could make out the change in front of them.

There was a boy.

A boy who looked significantly like a younger Kaito.

“Tantei-kun, was there a child here when we landed?”

“No. There was not.”

“Ah…” Kaito blinked and rubbed at one eye. Nope, the kid was still there. “Tantei-kun… you do see a child in front of us, right?”

“Yes.”

“Ah…” Kaito stared at the boy. The boy stared back, blue eyes blinking up at them curiously. “Tantei-kun…?”

“Yes, there is a child. No, he wasn’t here when we landed. No, I didn’t see him come from the stairs or anything and no, I don’t know where the jewel went.”

“Okay…” Kaito slowly knelt, “Truce until we figure out what’s going on?”

“… Fine. Truce…For now.”

Good enough for him. Kaito let Tantei-kun go in order to wave at the child. Tantei-kun moved out from between them, just enough that Kaito could get a size/age comparison between the two. The new child looked to be about two or three years younger than Tantei-kun, so three, maybe four years old.

“Hi there!” Kaito smiled broadly, his typical street magician smile, “What’s your name?”

“Pan,” the boy said, shoving a knuckle in his mouth. The other hand twisted in the bottom of his shirt, a typical sign of nerves, but… the boy wasn’t displaying any other signs. In fact, he looked quite content standing on a rooftop alone with an internationally wanted thief and a boy only a few years older.

“Hi, Pan-kun,” Tantei-kun said, smile bright and childish –acting his age for once, “How come you’re up here alone? Where’s your mom and dad?”

Pan unwound his fingers from his shirt and pointed to Kaito.

Kaito and Tantei-kun looked behind him, looking for some parent randomly on a rooftop with a kid.

Nothing.

“You don’t think…?” Kaito craned upwards, as if he could look over the railing from where he knelt.

“It’s a possibility,” Tantei-kun agreed quietly, casting an anxious look at Pan, “I didn’t see anything when I fell or when you caught me, but…”

“But you weren’t looking,” Kaito finished lowly before turning back to Pan, “Do you have anyone else who’s looking after you, Pan-kun?”

Pan tilted his head to the side.

“I’ll… take that as a ‘no’,” Kaito assumed, “Well, I guess we can take him to the police?”

“They can’t do anything,” Tantei-kun said, “Best he’ll get is a few missing posters and then a spot in the system.”

Kaito winced. He’d heard stories about the system, but he wasn’t sure how much stock to put in them. He’d scraped by with a late father and an absent mother, it couldn’t be too worse, right?

“Nakamori will be here soon,” Tantei-kun said, “You should take him with you, at least for now.”

“Wha-? Me?!” Kaito stood up, gesturing to himself exaggeratedly, “I’m a criminal! What am I supposed to do with him!?”

“Well, for one-!” Tantei-kun started, only to be cut off when Pan took his hand out of his mouth and held both up to Kaito.

“Papa, up!”

Kaito and Tantei-kun stared.

“Did he just…?”

“Yes, yes he did,” Tantei-kun narrowed his eyes at Kaito.

Kaito held up his hands, “He’s not mine! I swear! I may be a thief, but I’m not that irresponsible!”

“No, he isn’t. If my deduction is right, you’re too young for a child this age,” Tantei-kun agreed. He gave an increasingly frustrated Pan a calculating look, “But you are also able to pass yourself off as Kudo Shinichi without a mask. It could be the boy’s father looks like him or someone of that family, since this boy… looks like a young Shinichi.”

“How would you know that?” Kaito asked, finally giving in and picking the kid up before he started crying.

Tantei-kun took off his glasses.

Kaito looked between Pan and Tantei-kun, once, twice, again, and… yeah, they could be brothers to anyone else. And Kaito knew for a fact that Kudo was Tantei-kun’s cousin. He wouldn’t be surprised at family resemblances.

“Take him for now,” Tantei-kun said again, “He probably thinks you’re his father since you look similar. I’ll contact a few people and see if they know where he-!”

“Daddy, up!” Pan pointed to Tantei-kun, leaning so far out that Kaito nearly dropped him.

Kaito and Tantei-kun stared at the boy.

“Did he just…?”

“Yes, yes he did,” Kaito narrowed his eyes at Tantei-kun.

“What are you looking at me for!?” Tantei-kun took a few hurried steps back, “Do I look old enough to have a kid?!”

“Well, no,” Kaito answered, “But, I don’t think you can make a case for you looking like his father as well… and he said ‘Daddy’ as opposed to ‘Papa’.”

“Why would…?”

“You know, there was a legend on that stone tonight,” Kaito cut in on Tantei-kun’s musings, “the Heart of Osiris will grant new life in the eyes of the full moon.”

“You can’t be telling me that this kid is the jewel you stole!” Tantei-kun threw his arms wide, “Things like that don’t happen! It’s impossible! Inconceivable! It’s-!”

“Magical,” Kaito finished, holding Pan up above him. With the moon to Kaito’s back, he could see the bright orb reflect in the child’s eyes…

And see them light up red with an inner glow.

Kaito felt his breath catch.

It wasn’t.

It couldn’t be!

Pandora wasn’t-!

Sounds of yelling from the stairwell prompted Tantei-kun into action.

“Get him out of here!” Tantei-kun pushed Kaito towards the railing. “Now!”

“Why don’t you take him!?” Kaito asked, more than a little untrusting of a magical gem baby, “You’re practically the same age!”

“And tell Ran what?! That I suddenly have a little brother? That likes to call me Daddy?” Tantei-kun scoffed, “Take him with you! I’ll figure something out! I’ll call you later! Just get out of here!

A final push had Kaito swinging his leg over the railing and steadying himself for the drop.

“Hold on,” He whispered to Pan. The boy obeyed, wrapping his little legs as much as he could around Kaito’s waist and snagging the collar of Kaito’s jacket with his free hand, left having found itself in his mouth once again.

Pan was so much easier to deal with than Tantei-kun (and he was a magical gem baby –that should be saying something).

Just as the door flew open to allow the KID Task force to pour out, Kaito dove off the building and took to the skies, precious package clutched close to his chest.

Pan let out a delighted squeal.

Kaito sincerely hoped his mother kept his old childhood clothes somewhere around the house.

Chapter Text

The door to the roof slammed open and Kaito turned to greet his diminutive adversary, “Ah, Tantei-kun! So nice to-!”

“Don’t you ‘Ah Tantei-kun!’ me!” Conan shouted, “What was with that heist last month!?”

“... I’m not sure I follow,” Kaito said.

“Jirokichi had an amethyst broach crafted especially for your heist. It was the deepest purple he could find –the size of my fist!” Conan held up his hand to emphasize his point, “And you went after Sonoko’s turquois ring instead!”

“The amethyst isn’t what I’m looking for.” Not right now anyway. If he runs out of jewelry gems, then Kaito will turn to ‘jewels in the rough’ (and ones that had been within the last decade), but that was a last resort. That may rough gems? Kaito would never be able to work his way through them.

“Doing so angered Makoto and made him chase you! Again!”

“I like a challenge.”

“And then, instead of using the balcony not three feet from you-!” Conan’s face started turning red. Kaito wondered if high-blood pressure could occur in children, “You swan dive out a window barely big enough to fit me! And didn’t use your glider until you’d already dropped five stories!”

“I fit too, obviously,” Kaito raised an eyebrow, “Where are you going with this, Tantei-kun?”

“I can’t understand you! You never make sense!”

“Yes, I do!”

“No, you don’t!” Conan stomped his foot and looked this close to pulling his own hair out.

Kaito narrowed his eyes, “Okay, I’ve got an explanation that will put everything into perspective.”

“This’ll be rich.”

“Now, stay with me here,” Kaito held up his hands on either side of his face, fingers like a frame. “Imagine me…” he raised his eyebrows, pointedly, “as a cat.”

He pushed his hands outwards, as if to say ta-da!

Conan’s jaw dropped and his eyes widened behind his glasses, a look of sheer enlightenment, “... oh my gosh, it all makes sense.”

“I know, right?”

Echoes of shouts and footsteps thundered up the stairwell behind the mystified Tantei-kun.

“And that’s my cue to leave!” Kaito said, leaping over the railing and disappearing, just as the Taskforce appeared.

“Every time! He waits until the last minute every time!” Nakamori pounded a fist on the railing. “I don’t get him!”

“Think of him as a cat,” Conan said quietly.

“What?” Nakamori turned to him, not having heard what the boy said.

“Think of him,” Conan said clearly, giving him a deadpanned look, “as a cat.”

There was a collective gasp from the Taskforce.

“... Oh my gosh,” Nakamori breathed, as Conan turned back to the stairwell, “It all makes sense. Everything makes sense.”

 

Chapter Text

Shinichi and Hattori had ranked second on the Drift test for Japan, second only to Hattori and Kazuha. But Kazuha… Hattori refused to Drift with her. He refused to let her onto the front lines. So Shinichi had gone instead.

At the facility, though, there was a person who ranked a better Drift than Shinichi –Hakuba Saguru. He and Hattori fought like cats and dogs, but their movements were flawless.

Common backgrounds, the experts had said, shared experiences.

Shinichi and Hattori were detectives form Japan.

Kazuha and Hattori were childhood friends from Osaka.

Hakuba and Hattori were children of high-profile figures, in the same field as they. They were stubborn, wanting to make a name for themselves and prove they weren’t riding on the coattails of their fathers. They were men of the blade, warriors of an unspoken code. They were partners.

Shinichi never stood a chance.

The facility wasn’t quick to throw him out, though. His sharp tactics and analytical mind became the driving force of all their strategies. He developed a second sense of when and where the Kaiju would surface, cutting response times by half. His skills became invaluable.

He may not be up close and personal in the fight, but that’s okay. Long-distance had always been his forte.

Kaito was an unseen force in Shinichi’s life.

The engineer transferred from a French Sect with plans and ideas for better suits, stronger weapons, more powerful batteries. With his eidetic memory, the newcomer quickly became an expert in other sciences like biology, chemistry and something that was, quite frankly, black magic to Shinichi.

Kaito Kuroba was a genius in his own right, so when he requested a Kaiju head, Shinichi gave it to him.

He didn’t expect that to land him here; Kaito holding out a drift helmet connected to the Kaiju brain, a second on the table behind him.

“You want to what?!” Shinichi choked out, not sure he’d heard correctly.

“Connect our brains with the Kaiju.” Kaito repeated, his confident look turning nervous as his eyes skated away, “If we can understand them, know what they are trying to do, where they’re coming from, how to stop them-!”

“But you must have thought of the possibility,” Shinichi shifted his weight to his right foot. “That, while we can look in, they can look back.”

“That’s why we’re using a dead one.” Kaito explained, eyes dropping to the helmet, “We’re just going to look into its memories, nothing more.”

“Why me too?” Shinichi asked, crossing his arms, “Can’t you do it?”

“A Drift always takes two.” Kaito pointed out, fingers tensing around the metal contraption.

“We might not even be Drift compatible.” Shinichi fired back, eyebrow raised.

“That’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Kaito gave him a crooked smile. Shinichi remained quiet for a long time, watching Kaito squirm. Finally, he spoke.

“Look into the void for too long and the void will look back.” Shinichi said, eyes watching Kaito’s expression. The engineer’s face fell, shoulders drawing up in defense. Before he could pull the helmet back to him, Shinichi put a hand on the cold metal. “That’s why I will only look at you. You will have to look enough for both of us.”

Kaito beamed.

*             *             *             *             *

The drift with Kaito was different than with Hattori.

With Hattori, it felt like a handshake, a meeting of similar minds with similar plans and similar goals.

With Kaito… it was a dance. The mind of a detective and that of an engineer –no, a magician –pulled against each other only to be pulled back towards each other and around and around. Keeping with the imagery, Shinichi found himself in the lead position, his mind’s eye entirely focused on Kaito and maneuvering them through the bits and pieces of a foreign mind that he could feel.

Kaito, on the other hand, let Shinichi pull him this way and that as he focused on looking and watching and seeing as much as he could before Shinichi felt something at the back of his neck. Something like breath, hot and humid, and sharp teeth ready to snap down-!

Shinichi pulled them from the Drift before Kaito could even think to protest.

*             *             *             *             *

“What was that for!?” Kaito demanded, as Shinichi yanked his helmet off, “Shinichi! We have to go back in!”

“No.” Shinichi said firmly. “I… there was something in there, Kaito. Something alive. I… I felt it, wanting to snap at us, eat us, tear us apart. If we had stayed any longer…”

Shinichi shuddered, cupping a hand over the back of his neck like that would ward off the feeling of teeth at his spine.

When Kaito didn’t immediately start up his argument again, Shinichi looked up with worry. It wasn’t often Kaito would give up on an argument, not if he really wanted something.

Kaito’s face was pale white, as if he’d seen a ghost.

“What did you see?” Shinichi demanded suddenly, needing to know. Few things in this world could scare Kaito. Only one thing, now that Shinichi thought about it.

He was pretty sure Kaito had not seen fish in that Drift.

“Kaito.” Shinichi ordered again, “What did you see?”

“It was alive.” Kaito said quietly, slowly taking the helmet off. His hands shook so much that he dropped it to the ground, flinching away at the sound it made, “The brain, it was still alive! It was connected!”

“To what?” Shinichi questioned. When Kaito didn’t immediately answer, Shinichi grabbed him by the shoulders, “To what, Kaito!?”

“To them. The Kaiju. Every Kaiju.” Kaito’s lip quivered, “To us.”

To Kaito, with his knowledge of the new and improved mecha suits and the human biological system. To Shinichi, with his battle strategies, numbers of their fighting force and his own sense. To them, the tag-team that was hailed as humanity’s last hope.

“Oh God.” Kaito covered his mouth, turning from white to green, “What… what have I done?!”

Shinichi opened his mouth, but whether it was to console or condemn the other, he didn’t know. He didn’t have a chance to find out. At that moment, he felt his stomach drop to his toes and the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

Those teeth on the back of his neck again.

“It’s coming through.” Shinichi said, pulling away to look at the Kaiju head. He kept one hand on Kaito, needing something to steady himself. “A level 5… it’s coming through the gate!”

The alarm sounded not two seconds later.

Shinichi looked over, locking eyes with Kaito and he knew. He knew they thought the exact same thing.

Shinichi ducked his head the slightest bit in question. Kaito nodded and the two took off, winding their way into the maze of the facility.

*             *             *             *             *

Kudou!” Sera yelled over the buzzing alarm. “In the Pacific, near the Mariana Trench! It’s a Kaiju like we’ve never seen! It’s a-!

“Level five.” Shinichi confirmed calmly as he pulled on an old but familiar suit. “I know. I felt it.”

Kudou, where are you?” his com crackled in his ear, “We need you up at the bridge!”

“I’m in the loading bay.” he replied, looking over at his partner as the two climbed into the lift to the last mecha in the bay, Kaito’s personal project. Kaito’s smile was shaky, knowing what they were about to do. Shinichi spoke into his com, “Maneuver Delta-7, Kaito KID is moving in.”

Chapter Text

It was inconceivable.

Through every heist he’d ever held, every trick, stunt, and hang-gliding escape, KID had never done one thing –until now.

For the first time ever, KID tripped.

“OW!” KID hissed as he rolled his ankle and crashed onto the tile. He cursed and held his ankle gingerly, mind pulsing with pain. But he didn’t have time to lie here because the Taskforce would be here any minute and he needed to-!

The Taskforce ground to a halt three feet from him.

KID blinked and looked over his shoulder.

The Taskforce fidgeted in place, some looking him over, some reaching for their handcuffs but never making it. Even Nakamori looked to be warring with victory and concern.

And then KID remembered.

The Taskforce, in typical police fashion, were all Sentinels.

KID was a Guide.

KID was hurt.

In typical Sentinel fashion, the Taskforce wanted to help the hurt Guide, who was KID. Also, in typical Sentinel fashion, the Taskforce wanted to eliminate the threat to the hurt Guide, which was KID himself.

It was a dilemma their instincts weren’t allowing them to work past.

KID was sure that, had Hakuba –a rare Neutral detective –been there, he’d be arrested and on his way to a police approved hospital for a quick fix.

But Hakuba was not there, so KID continued to lay on the floor of Jirokichi’s mansion with the Taskforce dawdling three feet from him.

Well, no use in sticking around in his condition.

KID dragged himself to his feet, leaning heavily on the wall next to him. Half the Taskforce took a step forward, hand out to help or stop him, he’s not sure even they knew.

Tentatively, he put his injured ankle to the ground and immediately regretted it, hissing in pain. Behind him, a few Taskforce members whimpered or let out warning growls. He scowled at them

What was he supposed to do? Lay in the middle of Suzuki’s floor until his ankle healed? Not likely.

“KID,” Nakamori started, “You shouldn’t…”

“I’ll be leaving the target for tonight, Keibu,” Kid cracked a grin, trying to reassure the officers despite the waves of pain that were no doubt rolling off him. “I hope you don’t mind my early departure.”

Nakamori did mind, thank you! If that stupid thief tried to move his ankle in its current condition, he’d hurt himself more, maybe even permanently! But Nakamori couldn’t just stop him-!

The answer came in the form of the smallest Sentinel –little Edogawa Conan, who pushed his way through the legs of the officers.

“O-oh… Hey~ Tantei-kun…” KID shored up against the wall. He hated that his little critic saw him at his worst, but there was no helping it. “Aren’t you getting a little close ther –Hey!”

Conan wrapped an arm around KID’s thigh, taking the weight off the injured ankle by force. Startled, the thief put a hand on the kid’s shoulder to steady himself. Conan took a step forward and KID was forced to hobble after him or fall flat on his face –further embarrassing himself.

They continued this way, Taskforce in tow, until they found a room deemed acceptable by Conan’s unknown standards.

Those standards became clear when the boy prodded KID onto the couch, elevated his injured ankle, and proceeded to pile every available pillow and blanket in the room around the thief in a veritable palace of a pillow fort.

“Um, guys?” KID called out from under the pillows, “A little help here? Guys? Hello? You are trying to arrest me, remember? Guys? Keibu?”

Nakamori stood in the doorway, looking on as his Taskforce ferried load after load of pillows from other rooms. Conan had taken lead on construction (rather aptly) and even Jirokichi (a known Sentinel as well) was aiding in design and structural integrity.

KID’s cries were growing increasingly panicked –but it wasn’t fearful, rather a bemused ‘how did it come to this?’ kind of panic.

Nakamori was sure that, once KID had healed, they’d be back to fighting like cats and dogs and chasing him down like a particularly stubborn fly. Until then, Nakamori was content in the fact that KID wasn’t going anywhere anything soon.

Maybe he could get some food in the kid too. He always looked too skinny in that white suit of his.

Inside the pillow fort, KID let out a defeated sigh.

Freaking over-protective Sentinel instincts…

Just wait until his Power of Suggestion broke through that hive mind of theirs!

 

Chapter Text

Kaito had agreed to go to the school festival with Aoko, but only after weeks of begging. It’s not that he didn’t want to go with her, it’s just… every time they went to something like this, she would run off and Kaito wouldn’t be able to find her until the end of the day. Then she’d get mad, like it was his fault that she ran off.

Just like now.

She said she just wanted to check out the stall next to the food stand Kaito was waiting in line for. One minute, she was there, the next, she was gone. He’d only turned his back for one gosh-darn second!

She was going to get kidnapped one of these days and Kaito wouldn’t know until a ransom arrived, he could see it now.

“Kuroba-kun!” Kaito looked up at his name. Two stalls down, Akako waved at him and gestured him closer.

Well, he didn’t have anything better to do. He’d already gotten his caramel apple.

“What are you selling?” he asked, looking at her wares. It just looked like tiny envelopes, but he wasn’t to be deceived. “Curses?”

“Oh, please! Curses? In the hands of mortals? That’s asking for trouble,” she scoffed and picked up an envelope. It had a red heart on it. “These are Love Fortunes. 100% accurate, you know. Will help anyone with a troubled heart.”

100% –yeah, right. And Tantei-kun wasn’t running around in a child’s body.

“You doubt me?” Her eyes narrowed. She held out the one in her hand. “Why don’t you try one? I’ll give it to you for free.”

Well, Kaito was never one to back down form a challenge. However, he didn’t take the one in her hand. Instead, he picked another from the table at random (it had a blue heart on it). After all, if they were 100% accurate, it wouldn’t matter which one he opened, just that he picked it himself. Classic magician sleight of hand rebuff.

Ignoring Akako’s flustered cries of ‘wait!’, Kaito opened the envelope and took out the tiny scrap inside.

He read: “To capture the heart of your brilliant-minded man, just be yourself exactly as you are. Even if you try to pretend and act cute, beware that he’ll immediately see through it. Stay true to your natural and pure self… and if you keep pressing onward and holding onto what you believe… Your feelings will certainly be delivered to him.”

Kaito paused at the end of the inscription and looked up at the sorceress. “Akako, I think your papers are broken.”

Akako bristled, “you just chose the wrong one! Yours is right here!”

She ripped the paper out of his hands and replaced it with another. Kaito blinked, opened the letter and, after a quick scan, turned it towards her. “It says the same thing.”

What?!” the screech from Akako was bone-chilling, causing shivers to run up Kaito’s spine.

Well, at least it proved that the first fortune was his?

Six fortunes later and Akako had done nothing but prove the first two to be correct.

“I don’t understand!” She stared down at the pile of fortunes Kaito had opened. “I bespelled them for you.”

“Well, I think your spell needs some work,” Kaito noted, “since I don’t even have a crush on a guy.”

Any guy. Except maybe Tantei-kun, but that was an intelligence crush, not involving any other body part than his brain. Kaito would admit he had a competence kink a mile wide. It had been a little awkward in the beginning with Hakuba, but after meeting Tantei-kun?

Meeting the only one to figure out his heist notice ahead of time? And have that person be a child? A child with a sixteen-year-old brain, but a child none-the-less. The fact was just driven home with every heist his favorite critic attended.

No one else did it for him and Tantei-kun was a ‘No-Go’ zone. His life was a sad joke.

Akako shot him a wild-eyed look, “I bespelled them so they would hint at me.”

“Oh,” Kaito blinked, and, well… “Akako, is there something you’re not telling me?”

She let out an aggravated growl and reached for him. Kaito let out a laugh and danced away, hands in his pockets, caramel apple between his teeth. He hid behind the apple bobbing stand to snicker –and that’s when he saw him.

Tall, dark, and handsome –typical Japanese hair but bright blue eyes the color of sapphires. Just about Kaito’s height, more on the lean side than muscular, with a pouty lip that Kaito just wanted to –mmm~...

And then his brain caught up with the rest of his body.

Wait a minute, that’s Kudou Shinichi… Kaito blinked, jaw dropping. Wait a minute, that’s Tantei-kun!

Kaito didn’t know when, how, or why, but Tantei-kun had his body back and was the most delectable thing Kaito had seen at the festival yet.

His last thought before bouncing over to bother the detective was, Huh, maybe Akako’s fortune had a little truth to it after all.

Chapter Text

Goal: Apologize to Shiho about Akemi’s death

Sub-goal: get close to Edogawa Conan (who appears to be her protector)

        Step1: Hide identity.

                Akai Shuichi is presumed dead. Okiya Subaru is not.

        Step2: Obtain housing.

                (And watch as it burns. *sigh*)

        Step3: Obtain different housing.

                Subaru: hmm, I have nowhere to live now.

                Conan: ...

                Subaru: Oh, I do so love Sherlock Holmes.

                Conan: Hell yeah! Come live at my… cousin’s house! He’s got all the books!

        Step 4: Realize Conan is the missing Kudou Shinichi.

                Subaru: Well played, boy. Well played.

        Step 5: Wait for Conan to realize your disguise.

                …

        Step 6: Realize Conan doesn’t know Akai is dead.

                WTF, Jodie?!

        Step 7: Subtly hint at various things until the unnaturally smart kid picks up on the fact that you are not who you say you are.

                Conan: [glasses flash and (in Haibara’s words) that mischievous smile grins]

        Step 8: Smack your head against the wall as he still doesn’t bring it up.

                “Kudou-kun, I heard noises at night!”

                “It’s okay, Haibara! He likes Holmes!”

        Step 9: Resign yourself to the fact that, for this particular season(s), you are nothing more than a dues-ex-machina character that will magically appear when Conan needs you… and only when he needs you.

                Subaru: *sigh*

        Step 10: Stare creepily out your window at your main target, further confusing the audience of you identity and intentions.

                “The only way you’d know that was if you were watching the house the entire time.”

                “I was.”

                (Paraphrased excerpt from Episode 623... not paraphrased by much. Honest.)

        Step 11: Begin planning best approach to meet with eighteen-year-old Shiho –now six years old.

                “How in the world…?”

Chapter Text

“Kudou-kun!!!” Satou called from the entrance to the general area. Shinichi looked up from his desk where he’d been packing up his bag for the day. Today was a good day, with only one case he wanted to take home with him, but the look on Satou’s face had Shinichi rethinking his assessment.

“Good afternoon, Satou-san,” Shinichi greeted, ignoring the other officers’ irritated faces. “What can I do for you?”

“It’s more what can I do for you?” Satou’s grin was so cat-like it was scary. The intensified glares from his colleagues were also scary. “I know you’re single at the moment, and I just happened to run into this nice guy…”

“Sorry, Satou-san, but Kuroba-kun asked me out a few days ago.” Shinichi admitted, a weak smile forming on his lips. “I… already said yes?”

Satou’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “This Kuroba-kun… did he approach you on your own?”

Shinichi wanted to hide his face in embarrassment at her blatant show of over-protectiveness. He would call it extreme… if it didn’t have merit.

Every serious relationship he’d been in since Ran had led to some… unfortunate circumstances. The latest of which had been a kidnapping and imprisonment by his own girlfriend.

Freshman year of college, Shinichi had met Minozu, a bright, cheerful girl. She hadn’t been the brightest crayon in the box, but what she had lacked in smarts, she’d made up for with enthusiasm.

Perhaps too much enthusiasm.

When Shinichi woke up in her basement, bound hand and foot to a solid metal chair, he knew what was going to follow before she said those words. And it was, “Shin-chan, I have something to tell you.”

Those words had ended every relationship he’d been in, male or female, because those words…

...were followed by a murder confession.

Turns out, Minozu had been the serial killer Shinichi and Division One had been searching three months for. Most of the killer’s victims were female, but some males had been found under similar MOs. They had all been from Shinichi’s college and now he knew why.

At first, it had been to get his attention, she’d said, to lure in his detective mind.

But then she had to get rid of any competitors so Shinichi would look at her alone.

Before she could go any further, Division One had gassed the house. Shinichi had held out against the sleeping gas (too used to other kidnappings from other criminals), but it had been the final nail in the coffin for his love life.

While putting the unconscious female in handcuffs, Megure had demanded that the entire Division One have the right to vet any of his lovers, for his own health after that. At this point, with them being the only reason he was still alive, Shinichi was willing to let them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time either.

It had started with Hana in junior year. Sweet girl, quiet at times, but so was Shinichi. Her little sister had gone missing half a year before they started going out. In fact, it was the reason they had met in the first place. Shinichi had taken it upon himself to start the search and Hana had hero-worshiped him a bit because of it.

Four months of dating, then it was, “Shinichi, I have something to tell you.”

Her sister was found under the rosebush Hana took care of at school as part of the gardening club’s activities. Apparently, Hana had offered her sister in some sick ritual in exchange for Shinichi’s love.

She’d been sent to an asylum. He still got birthday letters from her.

Leo, the foreigner, had been next. Shinichi didn’t usually go for red-haired baseball lovers -much too extroverted for him. However, Hana had left a bad taste in his mouth, so Shinichi wasn’t exactly looking for a serious relationship.

Apparently, Leo was, because it was, “Shinichi, I have something to tell you…”

Luckily, Shinichi found Hattori before he’d run out of air, but it was still attempted murder that put the jealous Leo behind bars. After that, Hattori had demanded to vet any other guys Shinichi dated, per best friend agreement (and to prevent a repeat).

Latest in the line, Minozu hadn’t made it to her trial. She had committed suicide in the holding cell. Shinichi knew why too, without ever looking at her suicide note.

He’d told her about the one time a murderer had committed suicide -how it had haunted him ever since. She ensured the same.

Needless to say, Shinichi was in a love-hate relationship with his own love life.

But, Kuroba… Kaito was different. Shinichi hoped.

He’d met Kuroba Kaito in his second year of college. The amateur magician had been familiar, but in a way Shinichi couldn’t put his finger on. Surprisingly, Kaito had gotten the ‘okay’ from Hattori, despite the way the magician rubbed him the wrong way. More than that…

Satou cleared her throat, bringing Shinichi’s attention back to the present.

“Division Two’s Nakamori-keibu has nothing but good things to say about him,” Shinichi said to Satou in lieu of an answer, “I’ve told you guys about him before.”

“He… sounds kind of familiar…” Satou crossed her arms, “But when you spoke of him before, it wasn’t in the romantic sense! I thought you two were just friends!”

“We are?” Shinichi ignored the way his cheeks flushed without his consent. “We just… wanted to try and see if something more would work.”

“Hmm…” Satou narrowed her eyes at him. “If Megure-keibu trusts Nakamori-keibu, I’ll let it go, but-! I hope you know we’ll have a tail on you for the first couple dates until we’re satisfied.”

“At this point, I won’t even point it out when Takagi sticks out like a sore thumb,” Shinichi deadpanned, throwing the strap of his bag over his shoulder. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, Kuroba should be here to pick me up. We’ll be going to the theater on 6th and then the little cafe on 12th. The one with the pink umbrellas?”

“Got it,” Satou nodded. “We’ll plant bugs long before you get there.”

“... Thanks.” Shinichi wasn’t sure whether to be thankful or not, but he decided not to worry about it now. Right now, he had to get out to the lobby before Kaito decided to go in and find him. With the memories of past experiences fresh in his mind, Shinichi’s stomach clenched with nerves, but once he saw Kaito’s smile, bright, happy, and carefree, he had to laugh at himself.

Kaito couldn’t possibly be a serial killer in disguise…

Right?

*             *             *             *             *

Two weeks.

It had only been two weeks when it happened. They were enjoying a peaceful evening in Shinichi’s library when Kaito’s nervous energy culminated into action.

“Shinichi?” Kaito called, voice quiet.

“Yeah?” Shinichi replied, eyes not leaving his newest mystery novel.

“I… have something to tell you.”

Shinichi stiffened and paled. With those words, Shinichi had a flash-back to every relationship he’d ever had –of Hana, of Leo, of Minozu. He couldn’t help the quickened of his breath or the pounding of his heart –his body trained to react to those words.

All he could think was: Oh no, not again!

“Shinichi? Are you listening?” Kaito pouted.

Shinichi swallowed thickly and closed his book, “Y-yeah, I’m listening.”

“Good. Okay,” Kaito inhaled deeply and locked eyes with Shinichi in an intense stare. Shinichi held his breath, “I’m Kaitou KID.”

One second. Two.

Shinichi deflated into a slump, “Oh my g-! That’s all?!”

“Huh?” Kaito blinked at him, then his cheeks reddened, “Hey! Being Kaitou KID is not-!”

“I thought you were going to confess to murder!” Shinichi dragged a hand down his face. Granted, Kaitou KID wasn’t much better, but… Shinichi could deal with it. He’d dealt with him as Conan and he liked him before he’d ever gotten to know Kuroba Kaito. Kaito being KID? Not the worst thing to happen.

Actually, it explained the familiar feeling he’d gotten every time he and Kaito spoke.

Kaito wrinkled his nose. “Why would that be your first-?”

“With my luck, it happens,” Shinichi sighed, “Multiple times.”

“...Is that why the police officers from Division One have been tailing us the past two weeks?”

Damn, Shinichi had hoped that Kaito had just been oblivious. Now, it was obvious he’d been playing dumb. How would Kaitou KID not see a tail as obvious as Takagi?

“So…” Kaito cocked his head to the side when Shinichi didn’t answer, “You’re not mad at me? For keeping this a secret?”

“Let me put it this way,” Shinichi deadpanned, “you could steal the moon and I wouldn’t care.”

Kaito got that look on his face –the one Shinichi now knew as his heist planning look. Since he didn’t really need the moon to disappear (Shinichi wasn’t thinking about the how), he decided to distract the other and yanked him forward by a hand on his collar.

*             *             *             *             *

It didn’t work.

The heist notice arrived three days later.

You have seen me dance under the spotlight of a pale goddess.

Now, I shall take the goddess herself.

-Kaitou KID.

PS: Challenge accepted, my dear Meitantei.

“Dammit, Kaito, I was kidding!”

 

Chapter Text

Conan massaged the bridge of his nose and tried to draw his mental shields back up. They were shaky at best, but they were all he had to keep emotions not his own at bay.

Empathy was good, in theory, but in practice?

It was hell.

The constant bombardment of other people’s emotions gave Conan constant headaches. He always had to double check himself, make sure his anger or sadness was his own. The mental shields helped, but only just. They muffled the extra feelings, but didn’t make them go away completely.

It was times like these he wished to have Hattori’s clairvoyance. An equally useful skill when it came to deduction, premonitions didn’t typically come with constant headaches, only the occasional week-long nightmares and sleep-deprivation.

But Hattori had Toyama-san, for what her level 3 Sentinel mental fortitude could do for him.

Conan only had KID heists.

He’d found his safe haven by accident, actually. He’d been suffering a headache much like this one; was more focused on keeping his mental shields intact and his “Guide in distress” at bay –when he’d felt it.

*             *             *             *             *

Conan’s breath hitched as his mind brushed against another unexpectedly. Unexpected because this mind hadn’t felt like one, hadn’t been overflowing with emotions.

It was a mind without feelings.

No, that wasn’t right –a mind that held its emotions inside, away from prying eyes.

Conan was, admittedly, curious. He scanned the area before taking a seat on a stone bench, confident the police would keep a watch for KID. He leaned against Ran, using her as the barest anchor he could as he dove inwards, then out.

The mind that piqued his interest held the feel of a strong Sentinel, but it was muted, covert. It was open, as if inviting Guides to come and look, for they would find nothing of importance. It was like its owner was taunting him.

Conan couldn’t help but take a peek.

Behind those strong mental walls was a veritable maze. Somewhere deep down was the Sentinel’s conscious, Conan was sure, but he didn’t get a chance to look.

The Sentinel felt him poking around and threw Conan from his mind, imaginary doors slamming shut. The abrupt return to his own senses felt like a sudden ice-bath. Too caught up in his own curiosity, Conan hadn’t noticed when the emotions had begun to fade until they were thrown back in his face ten-fold.

“Conan?” Ran asked, raising a hand to run her fingers through his hair. “Are you all right? You sound like you hurt yourself.”

Had he made a sound? He didn’t know. He couldn’t tell.

“I-I’m fine, Ran-nee-chan,” Conan replied as he desperately tried to get rid of the torrent of emotions. He slammed his mental walls up, but he knew they wouldn’t hold his distress for long.

“If you say so…” Ran looked concerned. Conan wasn’t doing a good job reassuring her. “Maybe you should stay here until the heist starts…”

“O-Okay,” Conan acquiesced too easily. He felt his shields waver. “I’ll do that.”

Any other time, his pride would keep him from acting, but Conan had too much to lose if his secret got out. Which is why he did the mental equivalent of pawing at the doors to that mysterious quiet mind.

Not an attack, he tried to convey, not a bond. Just need rest.

The Sentinel caved, allowing Conan to slip inside, to the blissful quiet that lay between the Sentinel’s emotions and the rest of the world. Conan breathed a sigh of relief as the world around him fell silent, nostalgic of his days as a Neutral.

Beside him, Ran wrapped an arm around his shoulders, pulling him close in a side hug. Conan snuggled in and fell a bit further into his trance.

The maze of the Sentinel’s mind changed, partitioning off the ‘door’ and Conan’s own presence from their own, but that was fine. Conan didn’t need to intrude on the Sentinel’s thoughts and memories. He didn’t need a bond –just a quiet space every once in a while to breathe before he took on the world again. He was content to sit by the ‘door’ of this beautiful, quiet mind until the KID heist began.

Ran nudged him as the countdown started. Conan blinked and stretched, feeling some-what invigorated now that the world was quiet again. Suddenly, joining the mob of Taskforce Officers in a mad chase around City Hall didn’t seem so painful. For the first time in a long time, Conan didn’t lose himself among the mob mindset.

He made it to the roof with enough time to fire off a single soccer ball before the thief took off into the night.

Later, Ran was helping him into the car when the Sentinel prodded him to leave his quiet sanctuary.

Reluctant as he was, Conan did so, fortifying his shields before leaving the safe haven he’d found. The world was just as loud as before, but he could manage. For now.

*             *             *             *             *

That mind returned with every KID heist, so Conan had to think it was one of the officers on the Taskforce. He didn’t necessarily need to intrude every time, but in a life that rarely let him catch his breath, Conan learned to take every chance he could get.

And the Sentinel was amiable enough, always allowing Conan in –sometimes enticing him with a small mental ‘ping’. Conan didn’t think much of it. He knew higher powered Sentinels required high level Guides to ground them. Conan didn’t know how powerful his own rank was, but any little bit helped, right?

In return for peace and quiet, Conan was happy to help tie down the Sentinel’s senses so he could use them properly. It was like holding the strings of a bunch of balloons as the Sentinel yanked them down, let them drift up and so on. As long as they never got loose, the two were fine.

KID was extra hard to catch that heist, but Conan figured that was because he was a bit distracted.

He didn’t mind. That was part of the thrill of the chase. Even without the Sentinel’s mind, Conan would join in the heists any way he could. Maybe it was the crowd’s constant litany of awe and happiness that felt less like sandpaper and more like silk, but Conan couldn’t say he found the heists bothersome at all.

Then, one heist, the Sentinel’s mind was… different. The partition that kept Conan back was gone. It unsettled Conan, making him bunch up against the entrance to the Sentinel’s mind. He didn’t want to accidentally go where he wasn’t wanted.

But the path widened, as if to draw more attention to itself, taunting Conan’s curiosity.

In the real world, Conan paused on the stairs he’d been running up, hand tight on the railing before taking off again to chase the white Phantom. Inwardly, he let his mind be drawn deeper, just a little –and felt the doors start to close behind him.

That’s when it hit him

The Sentinel was trying to bond with him – Conan as a child; having not ever met; in the middle of a heist-!

Conan tore himself from the Sentinel’s mind, heedless of what it meant for the Sentinel and himself. At the same time, his foot slipped on the stairs in the real world. He stumbled awkwardly –felt his feet slip over the edge of the stairs –and grabbed onto the railing base as the rest of his body tumbled off the side. The world was loud, too loud, he couldn’t drown it out, couldn’t draw up his mental shields, couldn’t hold on, couldn’t breathe-!

His hands slipped.

Conan plummeted down the stairwell.

The world screamed at him. Wind whistled past his ears.

The Sentinel’s mind snapped around his like a rubber band as white-gloved hands plucked him from the air.

The shot of a gun and the whiz of steel cable and suddenly, Conan was falling up instead of down.

Distantly, Conan felt the minds of the Taskforce clambering to reach him, and he winced, realizing he’d sent out a “Guide in distress” wave to every Sentinel in the area in his panic.

Including his Sentinel.

Who was currently wrapped around Conan’s mind tight enough to hide him from other Guides let alone the Sentinels below.

Everything was such a mess.

Conan thought his rescuer would put him down on the stairs when he’d climbed the railing, but the man didn’t. Instead, he ran up the stairs –or continued running, Conan amended when he saw white clothed arms and legs, gloved fingers grasping his small frame.

Only one person would be dumb enough to wear white to a KID heist.

“KID!” Conan squirmed in the thief’s grasp. “Put me down!”

“So you can careen off the side of the building too?” the thief snarled. “Not likely.”

The harsh response made Conan pause, long enough for KID to deploy his hang glider and throw them both off the building –and once in the air, struggling was a death sentence.

“KID,” Conan tried again, quieter, “where are you taking me?”

“Somewhere you and I can have a chat, little Guide,” KID replied, banking around a building.

Conan winced at the words “little Guide”, wondering where his previous title of “Tantei-kun” had gone. He tried to get a read on the thief, but no matter how much he tried, he couldn’t untangle himself from the Sentinel’s mind. It held fast, a sticky glue trap of a mind, when Conan realized.

It wasn’t getting weaker.

KID and Conan were several blocks away from the heist site. The Sentinel’s grasp on him should be weakening with distance.

It wasn’t.

“You…” Conan breathed, eyes wide “You’re the Sentinel?!”

“Hmm… so you didn’t know.” KID wondered aloud. “I know you never tried to press for more than a shield, but I had thought your sudden rejection had come from knowing my identity. I should have known it was because you were too young to bond.”

Conan recoiled at that, but stubbornly said nothing.

KID eyed him, suspicious.

“You know I can feel you displeasure,” KID noted, his mind wrapping a tad snugger. “You’re deep enough down that our emotions are starting to bleed together.”

“Are you sure it’s not your own displeasure?” Conan snapped, then winced at his words. KID narrowed his eyes at him, but said nothing.

After a small circling maneuver, they landed on a smaller rooftop. It was at an altitude lower than what helicopters were allowed to fly in the city, so the police would have to follow on foot and by then, KID could be gone.

KID’s cape fluttered down, the mechanism for his glider folding up. He set Conan on the ground, but didn’t let go of his shoulders. Instead, KID knelt to look him in the eye.

“You want to tell me what happened back there?” It wasn’t really a question.

“I tripped,” Conan answered, his ears burning in his embarrassment.

“Tripped,” KID repeated. Conan could feel his disbelief, distant as it was.

“I was surprised, okay?” Conan defended, cheeks heating. “You asked for a bond in the middle of a heist! I panicked and the world was too loud and I tripped and slid-!”

“What do you mean too loud?” KID cut in before Conan could work himself up.

Conan swallowed thickly and looked anyway but at KID’s face, but there was no escape. Taking a deep breath, he said, “I am an empath.”

KID frowned, but said nothing, prompting Conan to continue.

“I can feel everyone’s emotions. In a city like Tokyo, it’s a lot –too much sometimes. So when I found a mind that was quiet…” Conan hung his head. “I couldn’t help myself.”

“That’s why you were so insistent that first time,” KID muttered. “I thought Hakuba had wizened up and enlisted a Guide to penetrate my mind.”

“I didn’t know it was you!” Conan protested hotly.

“I gathered that,” KID agreed, cooling the boy’s temperature, “Especially since you helped me with my senses and kept me from zoning at a heist."

And, yeah, Conan did that. Crap.

In his defense, he’d thought he’d been helping an officer, not an internationally wanted thief.

“So what now?” he asked, needing to know. Conan knew he should turn in the thief first chance he got, but… he didn’t want to.

KID’s mind was the first safe haven he’d found since coming online.

He didn’t want to lose it.

A tickle of amusement reminded him that KID’s mind was wrapped around his own.

“Your thoughts are more honest than your words, Tantei-kun,” KID grinned. “Why don’t we bond? I know legal bonding age is 16, but I feel the Center would make an exception for your current situation…?”

Conan’s mind screamed a negative before he could even open his mouth to reply. KID actually flinched back at the volume, much to Conan’s chagrin.

“I… didn’t realize you were so against it, Tantei-kun,” KID’s smile had dropped, leaving a strangely blank mask behind. Even his mind felt barren to Conan, giving him no hints to the thief’s own emotions. “I would have thought you’d be more amiable, given that you hadn’t wanted to turn me in, even though I’m a thief. And you were the one to seek me out…?”

Conan wanted to. He really did, but it was too dangerous, too dangerous for KID. If Conan was found, if they found him, if they realized he wasn’t dead –it was too dangerous for KID.

So he couldn’t.

“There’s something going on in that head of yours, Tantei-kun,” KID said, a confused frown on his lips. “I can feel your fear and distress. Is it… is it because of me?”

No. Instant denial. Conan knew, KID would never hurt me.

“Then who…?” KID didn’t have time to finish his question before steel grey eyes came to Conan’s mind, unbidden. They stole away from his memories, trailing silver hair and gun smoke. The memory had just started to hurt –his head bleeding, fire in his veins, boiling him alivewhen Conan managed to shove it back into the box he’d locked it in.

KID looked equal parts sick and enraged. “Tantei-kun. Who. Was. That?”

It was a stupid idea to try to lie to the thief, the Sentinel, that had hold of Conan’s mind. Instead, he replied, “he’s the reason we can’t bond.”

“He is the danger?” KID frowned, sensing more from Conan that he wished to let on. “No, not just him. Others too, but him especially.”

Conan gave a half-hearted shrug.

“I could help, you know,” KID offered, eyes sincere even in the shadow of the night. “You don’t have to be alone. We could do this together…?”

No. Still dangerous. If they found out-!

KID scoffed, “They would have to find out who I am first, Tantei-kun, but I’ll relent for now.”

For now.

Yeah, for now. Just… for now. Later, when Gin was gone and the Black Organization was down and Haibara had finished, then they could…

KID smiled, teeth white in the dark. “I’ll be waiting, Tantei-kun.”

Overhead, the sound of helicopter blades preceded a blinding search light. Conan covered his eyes against the harsh light, but KID just glanced upwards, smile still playing at his lips. “Guess it’s time for me to go.”

Before Conan could pull away, KID enveloped him in a hug. A whisper caressed his ear, “be safe, Tantei-kun.”

Then KID was gone, taking off into the night. Conan ran to the edge to watch the white figure disappear into the dark. Slowly, as the distance grew, the thief’s hold on his mind faded until he was, once again, alone in a world too loud.

*             *             *             *             *

Later that night, after Ran had mother-henned him for being kidnapped (albeit from KID, so… meh) and staying out so late, Conan felt his phone vibrate. Holding it up, he frowned at the message icon on the screen.

Number unknown

He probably shouldn’t respond, but… there was no harm in reading it, right?

In case you ever need a reprieve, Tantei-kun.

Conan scoffed, even as his cheeks reddened with heat.

Stupid thief.

Chapter Text

The ringing in his ears persisted, ringing, ringing, ringing. He couldn’t hear anything over that ringing. Not his footsteps on the cold tile floor. Not his own panting breaths as he fought through the pain and pushed forward. Not the sounds of the bullets that hit the wall where he’d been mere seconds before.

All he could hear was the ringing.

When he’d thought he’d gained enough ground between him and his enemies, he ducked around a corner. Rickety scaffolding littered the warehouse under construction. It was one of these that he shimmied up to hide from prying eyes, but only for a moment.

A moment was all he could afford.

Sinking to his knees, he grasped at his side. His pure white suit was discolored. It soaked up blood and made the wound appear far more serious than it was. A bullet had grazed him, tore through suit and skin alike. He was lucky the bullet hadn’t veered two more centimeters to the left.

He was lucky too many times to count.

Now, though, his luck had run out. He’d held the Lady’s favor too long. Now, the cruel mistress of Karma had it out for him. He would have been fine with that. He would have been fine with the price being paid in his blood. He would have been fine…

Had it not also called for the blood of his detective.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are!” a voice called out, echoing through the warehouse. It was barely audible over the ringing in his ears, but he heard the next words clearer. “Come on, KID! If you don’t come out, you-know-who will get to taste the lead we’re saving for you!”

He cursed lowly, pressing his hand closer to his side.

He was bleeding, out of ammo and out of tricks. His hang glider still worked, but there was no way he would turn tail and run. Not when his detective was still here, somewhere, being held by the men in black. He had to do something, anything, but what?

Shinichi’s fingers paused on the keys. He frowned at the screen, biting at his lip in thought.

He’d been struggling with this scene for weeks now. Everything he tried, led KID, the phantom thief protagonist of his latest series, right to this spot. It had all the action and tension a criminal-romance novel needed, but… it was a dead end.

KID was surrounded on all side and his tricks had all been expended. Normally, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. KID could escape any situation. He was an escape artist to rival Houdini. Even now, KID could escape at the drop of a hat.

But his detective could not.

Edogawa Conan was a top-rate detective, part of the Tokyo police force. After witnessing some suspicious dealings, he’d been forced to lay low. He’d switched divisions from One to Two, homicide to thievery. In doing so, he’d met Kaitou KID, an internationally wanted thief who had, surprisingly, similar goals as Conan.

The two decided to work together, and well, as that saying about familiarity went…

But fate was not nice to them. At least, not in this novel. No matter which way he wrote it, either Conan or KID was going to meet a bloody end. Shinichi wondered which one fans would be more upset about. Conan had started the series, but KID had grown abundantly in appeal –to the point where he nearly overshadowed the main character and became a second protagonist. Show-off.

Shinichi sighed.

Maybe he’d take a bath and think it over again. There had to be some way, right?

The bathroom was empty, being that he was the only one in the house. He’d drawn a bath a while ago and covered the top of the tub, so it was still warm as he scrubbed himself clean and climbed in. The water felt good over his aching wrists and neck. Sitting hunched over a computer and furiously typing wasn’t as easy as it seemed to be.

Then again, he’d re-written that same scene five times in the past week, three times more than his typical re-write. Shinichi would be more surprised if his neck and wrists weren’t hurting from the constant abuse.

“But what else can I do?” he asked the empty room. “It’s where the story always takes me. If I’m not supposed to kill one of them off, what else is there?”

Shinichi was a serious author. His stories practically wrote themselves and, in instances like this, it wasn’t always helpful. But he also refused to be one of those authors that forced a happy ending or introduced a dues ex machina. Whenever he read stories like that, Shinichi couldn’t help a cringe. If the story wasn’t meant to have a happy ending, it wouldn’t have one.

Unfortunately, that seemed to be the case with Conan and KID.

Shinichi sighed, “What I wouldn’t give to get into KID’s mind. He’d know how to turn the situation around.”

Somewhere down the hall, a door closed.

It wasn’t a slam. It wasn’t even a firm press. It was quiet, almost inaudible.

But in a house? At night? When he should have been alone?

The smallest sounds echoed like gunfire.

Silent as he could, Shinichi sat up and climbed out of the tub, slow as to not disturb the water. He reached for a towel, quickly drying his legs and feet, in case he had to make a speedy getaway. From the medicine cabinet, he drew a small pistol, thankful for his father’s paranoid teachings when it came to thieves and other criminals –typically rabid fans. Fans of crime novels had very… strange ways of proving their love of the books.

Shifting the safety off, Shinichi drew the sliding door open as slowly and quietly as he could, just enough of a crack to peer out. At the end of the hall was a window, cleared glass turned mirror-like in the darkness of night. The image wasn’t perfect, but it told Shinichi what he needed to know.

A white blob with roughly four limbs –an intruder, scanning the hallway just outside his study.

Shinichi didn’t know how he got in, considering the study had no windows and he was sure he’d locked his doors downstairs, but that didn’t matter now.

There was an intruder and Shinichi was going to take him down, naked glory and all.

Sliding the door the rest of the way open, Shinichi calmly took a step out into the hall, his heart rabbiting in his chest. He took aim at the figure who’s back was to him and calmly ordered, “Don’t. Move.”

The intruder froze.

“Raise your hands.” Shinichi commanded, tightening his grip on his own gun. His hands shook a little, but he forced himself to concentrate. Once the intruder had been apprehended and the police called, then Shinichi could break down. Until then…

The person raised their hands, gloved in white; one empty, the other holding a firearm.

Shinichi sucked in a fearful breath and demanded, “Drop your weapon.”

The intruder didn’t move.

“I said,” Shinichi growled, trying to keep his voice calm, “Drop. Your. Weapon.”

“Mind if I put the safety on first?” the intruder asked, voice whimsical and oddly familiar. “Wouldn’t want it to accidentally go off.”

Shinichi felt like allowing the intruder to do so would put him in a dangerous situation, but on the other hand, his father had drilled gun safety into him until he could recite the rules in his sleep. Swallowing thickly, Shinichi rasped, “Fine. But hands where I can see them.”

“Of course!” the intruder answered, his hands coming up over his head. His left hand went to the safety on his gun… but the right slid into his sleeve. Before Shinichi could utter a remark or even twitch his finger trigger –bang –smoke filled the corridor, masking the figure in white.

The smoke was unnatural, a sweet, cloying chemical smell filled the air. Shinichi’s chest clenched up, his rib cage rattling as he coughed in the sudden onslaught. An invisible hand twisted his wrist painfully, gun slipping from his grasp as Shinichi let out a pained cry. He never heard it hit the ground.

Scrambling back several steps, Shinichi held his aching hand to his chest as he valiantly tried to see through the smoke. Nothing. Nothing at all. It was too opaque to see-!

A flourish of a cape and the smoke dispersed, leaving Shinichi staring down the barrel of his own gun.

Down a barrel to a white-gloved hand and pure white sleeves, flecked with red dots of blood. Further down to a cuffed shoulder, dark blue undershirt and tasteful red tie. Up to a pale face, silver monocle, and wide brim hat. To sharp eyes that weren’t quite blue, but some mystical color leaning towards a royal purple –a color unseen in the real world.

A color Shinichi instantly recognized.

It couldn’t be.

The figure held still for all of a second before the gun dropped a few millimeters, now the intruder’s turn to waiver.

“… Conan?”

It couldn’t be.

“Is that you?” The gun dropped a few more centimeters, now aimed at Shinichi’s chin rather than his forehead. “It is you, right? Conan!”

It was.

Shinichi didn’t have time to react as the intruder –the thief, Kaitou KID! –dove forward to gather him up in shaking arms.

“I thought I had lost you! I thought it was the end for us!” KID pulled back to cup Shinichi’s cheek, “How did you escape them?”

Shinichi opened and closed his mouth, the words he was world-famous for refusing to come forward. In the end, he just shook his head, hoping the thief would understand.

“Conan?” KID’s eyes narrowed, searching his face –for what, even Shinichi didn’t know. Apparently, he didn’t find it, because the thief’s gaze darkened, his touch turned painful. “You aren’t Conan.”

“I’m not.” Shinichi shook his head.

“You tricked me!” KID spat, throwing Shinichi back, “Just what were you trying to pull? Did you think I wouldn’t realize you’re different? I’m the master of disguise here!”

Shinichi cowered against the wall, not sure how to deal with an angry KID. So rarely did the thief ever become enraged in his books, that the few times he did stood out. They were… not good times.

“Where is Conan?” KID demanded, the gun making a reappearance. “What did you do with him!?”

“I, I didn’t-!” But he had, hadn’t he? Shinichi was the author. What was writing if not a violent form of manipulation? He’d strung along both KID and Conan through situation after dangerous situation –all for the sake of his audience’s amusement.

In a way, whatever happened to Conan was his fault, Shinichi’s fault.

“I’m not going to ask a third time.” KID said, voice cold as ice. The hammer of the gun clicked back, “Where. Is. Conan?”

Scared witless, Shinichi spat out the first thing to come to mind, “If you kill me, you’ll kill him too!”

That gave KID pause. “What?”

“If…” Shinichi swallowed thickly around his tongue, “if you kill me… Conan… will die too. And you.”

KID’s gaze narrowed, “I don’t believe-!”

“And Aoko.” Shinichi continued, “And Hakuba. And Akako and Nakamori-keibu and-!”

“Quiet!” Kid demanded, though his hands were shaking now. “How? How do you know those names?!”

“I’ll tell you.” Shinichi said, shifting a leg closer to his chest, “I’ll tell you, just… put the gun down…”

KID didn’t budge.

Shinichi let out a small, “Please?”

The safety clicked back into place and the gun disappeared, but Shinichi didn’t doubt for a second KID could have it back out and ready to fire in two seconds flat.

KID crossed his arms, “Well?”

“Do you… um…” Shinichi rubbed at his arms, just now feeling the goosebumps that had broken out across them. “Do you think I could put some clothes on?”

KID’s cheeks reddened the tiniest amount.

*             *             *             *             *

“So I am…” KID frowned, flipping through a couple pages in Shinichi’s latest book, “a character?”

“In my novel, yes.” Shinichi fiddled with the ends of his sleeves. He’d slipped into a set of sweatpants and an old knitted sweater. The ends were starting to come loose with all his fidgeting. “You and Conan are characters in criminal-romance series: Heart Thief.”

“Is it a good series?” KID asked awkwardly, almost like the time he’d been trying to get to know Conan. Shinichi still suffered second-hand embarrassment from it.

“You two have ranked number one nationwide for weeks after each publication.” Shinichi bragged just a little bit.

“Of course we would.” KID looked a little like he wasn’t sure how to take the information… and like he still wanted to gloat about it anyway. “It makes sense then, that my side isn’t hurting at all. Not leaking blood even. If I’m a character, I guess I must, what? Pause when not being written or read? Convenient.”

Shinichi fidgeted a little more before swallowing his pride and bowing his head, “I’m sorry.”

KID sounded surprised, “Whatever for?”

“For… manipulating your lives.” Shinichi said, rubbing at the back of his neck, “For putting you and Conan in dangerous situations. For your father, Aoko’s mother. For Gin and Vodka and Snake. For-!”

A hand on his head stopped him. Gentle fingers dug through his hair before sliding down behind his ear to cup his jaw. Shinichi followed the slight push that guided his gaze upwards.

KID smiled at him, a gentle smile –one Shinichi recognized he usually only reserved for Conan. “Why should you be sorry, Sensei? After all, if you had not written our story, Conan and I… we would never have existed, would we?”

Shinichi’s jaw dropped, never having thought about it that way.

“Aoko, Nakamori-keibu, Akako… my father…” KID shook his head, “None of us would have existed, would have life without you. Conan… Conan and I would never have lived, never have met, never have fallen in love.”

KID slid his hand away, a cheerful smile on his face as he placed Shinichi’s book back into his hands, “I would go through any danger for Conan, no matter the cost. I’m sure you know that better than I.”

And yes, Shinichi did know that. He knew because he’d made KID that way, but… it didn’t look like KID minded so much. He had one thing that most people in real life didn’t have –a love worth dying for.

“I’m sorry.” Shinichi shook his head, “I shouldn’t have dwelt on your sorrows when I know you only look for the happiness each day brings.”

“I guess even your characters can teach you something, Sensei.” KID’s smile brightened further. “Despite the fact that I’m going into a lion’s den, I do need to get back. Conan needs me. I can’t leave him behind.”

“Wait, KID!” Shinichi grabbed the thief’s sleeve, remembering what, exactly, he’d been having so much trouble with. “The warehouse, the men… I can’t… I can’t find a way around it. Any way I see it, one of you dies. You’re out of ammo, out of tricks, surrounding and running out of time. I’ve re-written it five times, but I just can’t-!”

“Why would you tell me this?” KID asked, voice perfectly blank. “If I am a character, and you the author –why do you think I’ll be able to change anything?”

“I… I don’t know.” Shinichi answered, voice quiet, “I don’t know, but I thought… I thought you might have an idea. Something to turn the situation around. Anything so you and Conan can both make it out alive.”

KID put a finger to his chin in thought, a Cheshire grin slowly crawling along his face, “You know… I might have something up my sleeve.”

“What?” Shinichi perked up, “What is it?”

“Or rather, someone’s sleeve.” KID leaned close, nose almost touching Shinichi’s. “I always plan for the worst, don’t I? That doesn’t always mean that I plan on doing the saving. Somethings… I plan on being saved.”

Inspiration struck Shinichi.

Conan. Trapped in a room. One guard outside the door, all that was needed for a supposedly drugged detective.

Supposedly.

“Thank you.” Shinichi breathed, a relieved smile breaking out across his face, “Thank you, Kaitou KID.”

“You know, you look breath-taking when you smile.” KID cocked his head to the side. “You should do it more.”

Shinichi flushed. “Just-! Go back to your book!”

And KID went.

Later, after hours of writing and passing out in front of his computer, Shinichi isn’t sure whether he dreamed up the meeting or not. All he knows is that Conan arrived just in time to provide KID with some much needed backup and the two managed to escape to a safe house where the detective could tend to the thief’s wounds.

And if the thief said a couple fourth-wall breaking statements in his fever-wound state, well, that was purely for Shinichi’s benefit.

*             *             *             *             *

“Shinichi!” Sonoko yelled through the study door. “The apprentice I was telling you about is here!”

“Just a minute!” Shinichi called back as he saved his work and gathered up his notes into a neat pile.

He heard Sonoko converse with the struggling author, saying something like “-a little scatterbrained-“ which, no, Shinichi was not, thank you.

“Sorry about that!” he said has he opened the door. “I was just cleaning up-!”

Shinichi trailed off, eyes going wide as his jaw dropped.

A playful smile. Dark, wild hair. Grinning eyes that weren’t quite blue, but some mystical color leaning towards a royal purple –a color unseen in the real world.

Or, should have been.

“Kuroba Kaito!” the man introduced himself, holding out a hand. “I’m eager to work with you!”

“Kudou Shinichi,” Shinichi replied, snapping himself out of it enough to shake the other’s hand. “Well, you already knew that.”

Kuroba’s grin brightened further, “Please take care of me!”

“Something tells me you are more than capable of taking care of yourself.” Shinichi scoffed.

“Aw, meanie!” Kuroba pouted.

Sonoko grinned at the interaction between the two, knowing her job was done.

*             *             *             *             *

“What are you working on there, KID?” Conan asked his partner. The thief had been hunched over a laptop all day. At first, Conan had thought he’d been planning a new heist, but when he’d peered over the other’s shoulder, it had been a simple word document –one with a word count of almost 3,000.

“Just thought I’d try my hand at something new.” KID grinned, closing his laptop. “Hey, Conan, do you think I could be a famous author?”

“Maybe if every other author on the planet died.” Conan scoffed and took a sip of his coffee, “Just stick with stealing, KID. If we both survive long enough to take down the Black Organization, then think about what you’re going to do for a living. Until then, I need your head in the game.”

“Yes, dear.” KID sang, not the least bit put off. After all, he knew exactly how their story would end now that they’d passed the one of the last hurdles.

It wasn’t cheating if his author just happened to leave some of his notes in plain sight, right?

Chapter Text

Shinichi loved coffee.

He liked it nice and dark, bitter on his tongue with maybe the smallest hint of cream to thicken the texture on his taste buds. He liked it in the mornings and late at night. He liked it when he sat in front of the fireplace alone with a good book. He liked it when he went out to cafes with his friends, like he was doing now.

He did not like it being interrupted by screaming civilians and murderous mobs.

Which was also happening right now.

The rest of his friends stared at him hard as he looked mournfully down at the cup in his hands that hadn’t even had a chance to cool.

“You know you have to, Kudou.” Hattori raised an eyebrow. “Remember what happened last time we waited for you to finish?”

Shinichi scowled into his cup. Yes, he did remember, thank you Hattori. The Dark Nation had succeeded in getting away with the energy they’d stolen and had been so smug about it the next time, but…

But coffee!

“Might as well get it over with,” Sera said as she stood and called out, “Mars Power Activate!”

Shinichi sighed and rose to his feet, calling out, “Moon Prism Power Activate!”

Across the table, Hakuba seemed to sink into his seat further, pouting down at his own cup of Earl Grey. “Do we have to?”

“What’s wrong?” Hattori asked as he, too, stood, “I thought you liked saving people from evil villains.”

“I do, but…” Hakuba scowled as he shifted his seat back to stand. He left his drink along with the others. “It’s just… Kuroba.”

“Jupiter Power Activate!” Hattori called, his transformation making Hakuba’s hair stand on end. “What about Kuroba?”

“Just…” Hakuba sighed and held up his blue pen, “Mercury Power Activate!”

The cool wash of water never ceased to startle Hakuba, but he was getting more and more used to the feeling. It used to feel like ice water on his skin, but now it felt… cleansing almost. It didn’t lift his mood.

“Just…?” Shinichi asked, apparently having been listening in even during his unnecessarily longer transformation.

Before Hakuba could answer, an orange clad figure dropped in beside them, skirt fluttering around pale thighs. Kuroba smiled brightly as he waved, “Sorry I’m late, guys!”

Hakuba gestured wildly to the other Sailor Scout, “Why?! I have pants. You have pants. Hattori has pants. Sera-san has pants! So why? Why is Kuroba in a skirt!? And high heels?!

“He asked specifically for a skirt during transformation,” Shinichi explained.

“Yes, but why?!”

Kuroba shot finger-guns at him. “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!”

Hakuba paled. “No. Just… no.”

“Hey, are we heading out or not?” Sera asked as she cushioned her head against her arms.

Shinichi gave another mournful look to his coffee before sighing and nodding. “Yeah, let’s get this over with.”

*             *             *             *             *

The Dark Nation’s plot was to take the energy from mystery fanatics. Apparently, the inner workings of detectives like Shinichi and the gang while reading popular novels produced a lot of extra human energy. Shinichi wouldn’t doubt for a second it was true. He knew the feeling of adrenaline in his veins as he worked towards a deduction with the scant amount of clues available.

Fortunately for them, none of the gang had bought the energy-sapping book or borrowed it from any of their many shared friends. It had actually been on Shinichi’s to-do list that day. He’d heard good things about that book from his father.

Too bad.

Unfortunately for them, the readers that were being mind-controlled by Zoisite were smarter than average and… more bloodthirsty than typical. Shinichi wondered what that said about detectives like him and the other Sailor Senshi (minus Kaito).

“They’re too powerful!” Shinichi yelled at Hattori. “Where’s Kaitou KID when you need him?!”

To his right, Kuroba froze up. Sailor Venus pushed back the zombie-fied people around him with a Crescent Beam before pointing in a random direction. “Sailor Moon, I think I saw Zoisite go that way!”

“Sailor Venus, stick with us! Don’t-!” but it was too late. Kuroba took off.

Hattori looked over to Shinichi and easily threw off the person he’d been ‘struggling’ with. “Seriously?”

Hakuba rolled his eyes and sent out a blast of cold around him. A large group found their feet frozen to the ground, immovable. “He’s just going to go do the thing.”

“Do we know why he does the thing?” Sera asked as she made use of her years in martial arts training. “I mean, isn’t it hard to do, being a Senshi and all?”

Shinichi frowned at everyone and crossed his arms, canting his hip. “What are you all talking about?”

Before they could answer, a forgotten mystery-book lover lunged for the leader of the Scouts, a gleaming knife held in his hand. Shinichi let out a theatrical scream.

A playing card flew between them and embedded itself into the grey cement.

Shinichi gasped, hands going to his chest. His eyes immediately found the figure clothed in white standing on top of the bookstore’s roof. “Kaitou KID!”

“Do not be afraid, Sailor Moon. I believe in the power of your deductions. You are far smarter than any of these so-called detectives here. Even the Youma will fall to your skills,” KID said. He tipped his hat and, with a flourish of his cape, he was gone.

“KID…” Shinichi said dreamily.

Hattori gagged.

Hakuba looked very unimpressed.

“You know that Kuroba is KID, right?” Sera pointed out from her perch on top of a pile of zombie-fied mystery lovers.

“What are you talking about?” Shinichi asked innocently. “Sailor Venus is right here.”

He gestured with his arm and, right then, Kuroba reappeared, slightly out of breath. His uniform was perfectly intact, no evidence that he had de-transformed, changed, did the KID-ditty, and hit reverse.

“P-present!” Kuroba gasped, doubling over onto his knees.

“Did you get Zoisite?” Shinichi asked.

“Uh…” Kuroba straightened, sheepish look on his face. “N-no. It… turned out to just be another zombie.”

“Ah, too bad,” Shinichi commented. “Well, let’s get this over with, yeah?”

“H-huh?” Kuroba blinked at the sudden change in demeanor.

“KID gave me a wonderful idea,” Shinichi said brightly before zeroing in on where the Youma was planning its next action like the chess-master it was.

“He’s about to do the thing.” Sera nudged Hakuba.

“I know, but is it really necessary?” Hakuba asked, cocking his head to the side. “We’ve pretty much won, haven’t we?”

The street was littered with unconscious bodies, proving the truth of his words.

Hattori scowled at Hakuba. “He isn’t a hero unless he does the thing. Every hero does the thing!”

Hakuba just sighed.

“In a world such as ours, there is only ever One Truth.” Shinichi struck a pose and pointed to the lone Youma, “In the name of that Truth, I, Sailor Moon, will punish you!”

Sera nudged Hakuba, cheeky smirk on her lips. “He did the thing.”

Hakuba hid his face in his hands. “Why am I associated with you?”

“Because a black cat with mystical powers decided you would make a good fighter,” Hattori answered honestly. “Don’t worry, I question it every day.”

Hakuba looked up, “Why she chose you?”

“No, why she chose you.”

“So, what’d I miss?” Kuroba asked as he sidled up to them.

“Moon Crown Action!” Shinichi shouted, taking the golden circlet from his head. The circle lit up and started to spin, forming a sphere. When it reached its highest velocity, he drop-kicked it at the Youma like a soccer ball. The Youma dodged, but Shinichi had anticipated that.

The sphere bounced off a street sign behind it and, after an impressive number of hits and angles, slammed into the Youma’s side, causing it to turn to dust.

The books all vaporized as the energy returned to the enslaved humans. They woke up with no knowledge of the past few minutes or recognition of the group of teenagers making their way back to a café down the street.

“I bet my coffee’s cold by now,” Shinichi groaned as they found their table exactly as they left it. He scowled down at his cup. It was luke-warm, but… ick.

“I’ll go get you a new one,” Kuroba said as he ran inside. “Least I can do for running off in the middle there.”

“You don’t have to!” But Kuroba was already inside, ordering Shinichi’s usual.

“Seriously.” Hattori set his chin in his hand. “When are you going to tell Kuroba that you know he’s KID?”

“What do you mean?” Shinichi asked, blinking at him. “Kuroba isn’t KID.”

The entire group stared at him. Shinichi rolled his eyes. “When it stops being funny.”

“So…” Sera cocked her head to the side, “Never?”

“Never.” Shinichi nodded as Kaito came back out with a fresh cup of coffee.

Shinichi liked coffee. He liked it best when it was free.

Chapter Text

“Okay, so let me get this straight.” Sonoko massaged the bridge of her nose. “Hondou-kun likes Ran who is in love with Shinichi who has a crush on Kuroba-kun.”

Hondou and Ran blushed, the first looking away and the second looking at her shoes since she was between the two boys. Shinichi stared at Sonoko with disinterest.

“Kuroba-kun, is in love with Aoko-chan,” Sonoko pointed at the boy and girl, then to a blonde, “who has the hots for Hakuba-san who, in turn, has some serious UST with Hattori-kun.”

Hattori punched Hakuba’s shoulder.

Ow!” Hakuba hissed, rubbing his arm and glaring at the Osakan, “What was that for?!”

“Stop dragging me into things!” Hattori hissed.

Hattori-kun,” Sonoko continued with a glare to the other two. “Who only has eyes for his childhood friend Kazuha-chan.”

Shinichi sighed, “Yes, that is what-!”

“I’m. Not. Done. Yet.” Sonoko growled.

Shinichi motioned for her to continue.

“Kazuha likes Makoto,” she ignored Makoto’s blush and the yell of Kazuha! followed by but his muscles, Heiji! His muscles! and continued listing off people on her fingers. “Who has his heart set on me, who also has feelings for Sera-chan, who is in love with both Hondou and Ran!” She took a deep, gasping breath. “Did I forget anyone?”

Sera raised her hand. Sonoko gave her a withering look.

“Okiya Subaru is Akai Shuichi.” Sera noted

Sonoko stared in confusion. “...who?”

“My brother.” Sera explained, “who Jodie-sensei is in love with and who has a love-hate relationship with Furuya Rei who is actually Amuro Toru, that guy who is Mouri-san’s apprentice.”

Sonoko stared at her for a few more seconds before hanging her head. “I think I need to lie down.”

Kaito leaned over to Shinichi, whispering, “think I should tell her that I'm Kaitou KID, whom she also has a crush on?”

“Please,” Shinichi scoffed. “If you want to break her, tell her I was Edogawa Conan. Both Ayumi and Haibara had the hots for me… And Genta was after Ayumi while Mitsuhiko couldn’t make up his mind between her and Haibara.”

Kaito frowned as he thought it over. “I think you have me beat by two people.”

Shinichi blinked, “just two?”

“Akako.”

“Ah, right.” Shinichi nodded, can't forget about her. She had made sure none of them could forget her.

Also, she was kind of hot, so…

Did her magical pheromones mean that she won instead of him as being ‘Center of the Love Dodecahedron’?

... Shinichi decided not to ask Kaito. Because, if Akako's followers counted, then so did KID's fan base and Shinichi...

Shinichi refused to lose.

Chapter Text

Shinichi was just walking through an estate sale of one of his father's close detective friend, when he saw the perfect thing.

You see, Shinichi had taken down the Black Organization, changed back from being Conan and escaped with his life and dignity intact –all with the help of Kaitou KID (also known commonly as Kuroba Kaito).

Ever since changing back, he and Kaito had kept in touch –closely. They'd been allies, then friends, then lovers and now, Shinichi hoped, partners in a more permanent way. He was going to do it, he was going to pop the question, but he had to find the right gem! To a thief that held countless priceless jewels in his hands and let them go, this ring needed to be the more perfect gem Shinichi could find.

At last, he found it.

It cost him three times what it would go for at a common jewelers, but Shinichi didn't care. This was the perfect ring and he wasn't going to let some greedy handed collector snatch it up.

*             *             *             *             *

This was it, tonight was the night.

Shinichi had taken Kaito to a wonderful restaurant (that did not serve fish), made sure to bring flowers that evening even though that was usually Kaito’s shtick (and the other said as much), and then brought Kaito up to the roof of the hotel where they had their meal. Everything was perfect.

Almost everything.

“Not that I don’t like rooftops and moonlight just as much as the next thief, Tantei-kun.” Kaito started, winding his fingers behind his head, “but I think I’ve seen the view from just about building in this city.”

“What about the view behind you?”

“Really, Shin-chan?” Kaito scoffed as he turned, “I’m happy to compliment you. You don’t need-!”

Kaito trailed off in a choked garble of words. Shinichi is on the ground. Shin-chan is down on one knee! This can’t be happening! Please tell me this is happening!!!

“Kaito.” Shinichi started, drawing a small box from his pocket. “Will you-?”

“Yes!” Kaito yelled, not even letting Shinichi finish. “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Get up here!”

Shinichi let out a surprised yelp as Kaito dragged him to his feet and into a passionate kiss. For several minutes, the two were lost in their own little world until Kaito pulled away and demanded Shinichi put the ring on him.

“It’s beautiful.” Kaito said, staring at the ring. By habit, he held it up to the moonlight, liking the way it reflected off the gem set in the cool gold. It was a tiny thing, smaller than his pinky nail and nearly colorless –a moonstone if Kaito was correct. It wasn’t big or flashy, but it didn’t matter. It came from Shinichi –that’s all Kaito cared about.

“Yeah.” Shinichi agreed, though his eyes weren’t on the ring. Rather, they were trained on Kaito’s smile like the love-sick fool Shinichi was.

Which is why he didn’t see the ring change colors. Shinichi didn’t… but Kaito did.

Kaito’s breath caught in his throat. “… Shinichi? Where did you get this?”

“Hmm?” Shinichi reached up to grab Kaito’s hand without looking, “Oh, let me tell you. I know you love a good story and this ring has the best. It's said that it was a gift from a man to a woman, two lovers of the greatest until history. The man died young, but the woman swore she would not die until she saw him again. The ring kept her safe through the ages.”

“Ages?” Kaito breathed.

“Ages.” He agreed. Shinichi brought Kaito’s hand down, allowing him to kiss pale knuckles now that he had his lover’s rapt attention. “The woman it belonged to wore for decades, never knowing the misfortune of death or loss herself until she saw her husband's reincarnated form. At that point, she could die happy seeing him one last time.”

Blue eyes gazed into star-struck indigo.

“You and I are like that story, never letting go of each other through thick and thin, always pulling each other from the maws of death. That’s why, I want to continue being partners, from now until our luck finally turns and we meet death like an old friend.”

“...”

“...”

“Shinichi?”

“Yes, Kaito?”

“You just proposed to me with Pandora.”

“Haha, good one, Kaito.”

“...”

“...”

“...”

“Wait, you’re serious?!”

“This lady you bought it from. She died recently?”

“Yeah, her name was Irene.”

“Do you know how she died?”

“She went to a KID heist. The way I hear it, she swooned when she saw Hakuba.”

“Holmes nerd, huh? Um… Shinichi? That's a scary look on your face.”

“Why didn't I see it before?! Irene? A man she loved? Hakuba is Sherlock Holmes reincarnated!”

“Whoa, calm down there, Shinichi. I’m the one who's supposed to believe in magic.”

Shinichi blinked and refocused on Kaito, “... So that’s still a yes, right? Finding Pandora or figuring out Hakuba is Holmes didn’t just crush the mood, right?”

“Yes, Shinichi. It’s still a yes. I’ll marry you, crazy detective deductions and all.”

Chapter Text

Shinichi was enjoying a lovely afternoon in the garden with his favorite book –A Study in Scarlett, when a white blur ran past him.

“I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” the blur cried as it ran off.

Shinichi blinked after it and wondered if he should follow… but he was just getting to the good part where Sherlock Holmes was making his deduction, so…

Eh, white blurs can wait. He had Holmes to read.

Just as he turned his attention back to his book, a shadow fell over him. “Ahem.”

Shinichi looked up to find… a rabbit? A man? A rabbit man?

It looked humanoid, with pale features and blonde hair denoting a ‘foreigner’ status. The man was sharply dressed in a tailored waistcoat, straight tie down to shined shoes. The only thing that was tripping Shinichi up… was the set of ears on the blonde’s head –rabbit ears.

“Ahem,” the man cleared his throat again, giving Shinichi an impatient look.

“Weren’t you running late?” Shinichi asked, pretty sure this man was the blur he had seen.

The man scoffed. “The very idea of my being late is preposterous. My pocket watch is correct down to the millisecond. I only said such words because it is what the script dictate I do.”

“… Okay?” Shinichi looked back to his book.

“Okay? That’s it?” the man looked ruffled. “You’re supposed to get up and follow me!”

“But it’s getting to the good part!” Shinichi complained. “Holmes is just about to make his deduction!”

“I don’t care if it’s getting to the good part! The script says-!” the man stopped, cocking his head to the side. His ears twitched in excitement. “Did you say Holmes?”

Shinichi blinked. “… yes?”

“Scoot over,” the rabbit man ordered as he sank to the ground beside Shinichi. “Which one are we reading?”

A Study in Scarlett, English version,” Shinichi answered, sliding the book so that it was between them, “Do you want me to start at the beginning?”

“I’ve read it many a time before,” the rabbit man said, his ears twitching in indecision, “but it is always best from the beginning.”

Shinichi grinned and flipped back to the first page.

*             *             *             *             *

Book finished, the rabbit man had jumped to his feet, yelling about how he was actually late now and ran off. Deciding to follow the script, Shinichi placed his book aside and got up to wander after the rabbit man.

After a wonky rabbit hole, a talking doorknob that loved pachinko a little too much and a few questionable snacks and beverages, Shinichi found himself in a strange looking forest.

Shinichi looked away from the path for one second and when he turned back, a new person had appeared. The person looked strangely like himself, only clad in varying pink and purple stripes with a broad, Cheshire grin on his face. The boy pulled out a stack of papers and folded them over to a specific page.

“Welcome, Alice, to Wonder…” the boy paused, his ears twitching. He looked between Shinichi and his supposed script several times. “You’re not Alice.”

“No, I suppose I’m not,” Shinichi agreed.

The boy looked between him and the papers a few more times before tossing the pages aside. “That’s okay. I think I like you better.”

Shinichi blinked. “What?”

The boy’s Cheshire grin grew, showing all his teeth.

*             *             *             *             *

“Welcome to Tea ti-?” The dark-skinned boy stopped in the middle of pouring tea into a cup. He looked, by far, the most normal of the bunch, disregarding the mouse girl that nibbled on cakes beside him. The boy brushed off his hat –a baseball cap turned backwards –and regarded Shinichi with concern. “What happened to you?”

Shinichi looked down at his disheveled state and subconsciously put a hand on his neck to hide the red marks. The blue flower girl (who only spoke in third person) had made fun of him enough. He didn’t need it from this guy. “Um… I met a cat boy?”

“Oh, Kaito,” the guy looked unimpressed. “Yeah, he’s a bit of a flirt.”

Shinichi looked down at himself again. “A bit?

“Okay, a lot,” the boy reiterated, his Osakan accent coming through thicker. “Just head to the Queens of Heart. Ran should fix you right up.”

“… Isn’t it Queen of Hearts?”

“I know what I said.”

*             *             *             *             *

Shinichi recognized Ran immediately, despite the poufy frou-frou dress.

“Shinichi!” the girl ran at him, throwing her arms around him. “I’m so glad you made it!”

“You’re late!” another girl with short brown hair growled. She was in a similar dress as Ran, but instead of green, hers was blue. “It’s a criminal offense to keep a lady waiting! Off with his head!”

“Oh, but he came, didn’t he?” Ran asked, looking back at her friend with a bright smile. “Surely you can forgive him, Sonoko? I already have.”

“Not when he’s looking like something the cat dragged in!” Sonoko huffed, eyes taking in Shinichi’s disheveled appearance. “I think he cheated on you, Ran.”

Ran finally noticed his appearance as well. Her eyes grew tearful. “But… you were only in Wonderland for an hour! How could you, Shinichi?!”

Sonoko grinned evilly, but a pale hand appeared at her shoulder, bidding her wait.

“I do not think a simple beheading is enough,” a third woman appeared, one Shinichi didn’t recognize. Her gown was a bright, flowing red, matching the dark sheen of her hair like roses and blood. She had a long staff in her right hand.

“Akako…” Ran started, sniffling before hiding in Sonoko’s shoulder. Sonoko shot Shinichi a disappointed look.

“Instead of losing your head, we will make your entire existence a living nightmare,” the Queen –the witch stated, picking up her staff. “You will shrink to the size of a child! You will have knowledge beyond words and wisdom beyond belief, but no adult will ever heed you. You will forever be bond to play second fiddle to another, constantly made to give up your fame and pleasure for some humility!”

“Nooo!” Shinichi yelled, horrified as he watched his hands shrink before his eyes. “NOOOO!”

He jerked awake, head hitting the ground as he fell over.

“It was a dream?” Shinichi looked down at himself, no longer disheveled. His hands were as big as they had always been, nice and adult-like. “Just a dream.”

“Shi~ni~chi~!” a call came from above. Shinichi looked up into the face of a grinning Kaito. “Did you fall asleep out here?”

Shinichi screamed and ran inside.

Kaito blinked after him. “What?”

Chapter Text

“Whatcha doin’?” a voice startled Shinichi from his book. He blinked through the fog of deductions and mental pictures to find two eyes staring at him. Blue eyes and a button nose, messy hair that framed his face.

It was a man, dressed to the nines in a tailored suit, white shirt, black pants, and black jacket. Two tall, white… ears stood out at forty-five degree angles from his head, twitching occasionally.

“Huh?” Shinichi said oh-so-eloquently.

“Looks pretty interesting,” the man said, stealing Shinichi’s book from his hands.

“Hey!”

“Ugh, Holmes?” the other teen wrinkled his nose. “Of course, you would be into that.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Shinichi asked, affronted.

“It’s okay, though,” the man said, ignoring Shinichi’s protests. “You’re cute.”

“Um… thanks?”

“I think I’ll take you with me!”

“Wait, what?” Shinichi blinked and found himself bound by surprisingly soft rope. Soft though it was, it didn’t budge no matter how much Shinichi struggled. “Hey! Untie me right now!”

“One, two-!” the rabbit man hefted Shinichi over his shoulder and took off running.

“Put me down!” Shinichi ordered. “Hey!”

His eyes widened when he spotted the rabbit hole.  He started struggling harder, muttering, “No, no no nononono!”

“Stop squirming or I’ll drop-!”

The rabbit man dropped him down the rabbit hole.

Shinichi hit his head.

The world went black.

*             *             *             *             *

Shinichi woke up to sunbeams blinding him as they peaked from behind leaves at the tops of a tree.

Trees.

As in more than one.

Shinichi only had one tree in his backyard and he lived nowhere near a forest. This should not be possi-!

The wind blew.

Shinichi felt it between his thighs.

With a yelp, he sat up, snapping his knees together and shoving his hands into his lap. His eyes widened at the sight of his clothes.

Poufy blue dress, frilly edge, pure white apron and striped stockings… He was wearing a dress. Shinichi was wearing a dress.

Why was he in a dress?

“Oh boy, I thought you’d never wake up!” a voice from overhead called down to him. Shinichi flinched at looked up. It was that boy, the rabbit one from earlier that had kidnapped him, except… it wasn’t?

This boy was dressed in what looked like pink and purple striped pajamas. On his head, a pair of cat ears twitched and when he grinned it looked just a little too big –Cheshire in effect.

“I thought you were going to sleep forever!” the boy said, turning over onto his side –and Shinichi realized with a start that he wasn’t laying on a tree branch, he was hovering over it. Obviously there were wires or something, Shinichi was sure-!

“Hello? Hey!” the boy called down, drifting lower with concern. “You are awake, right? Because, to be honest, it would be really creepy if you were sleep-walking… or sleep-staring? Whatever. It’s creepy.”

“Who are you?” Shinichi blurted out. “Where am I? Why are you a cat? Weren’t you a rabbit? Why am I in a dress!?”

“I am Cheshire Kaito,” the boy answered as a fluffy tail curled around his hip. “You are in Wonderland. I have always be a cat, loud and proud! The rabbit before was probably White Kaito. He likes to take people, like you, on a tour of Wonderland. As for the dress…” the boy, Kaito, shrugged. “Eh, his personal tastes. I think you would dashing in a three-piece suit myself.”

Shinichi blushed as he scrambled to his feet. “You said a tour. Where is he? That… White Kaito?”

“Oh,” Cheshire Kaito did a back bend over Shinichi’s head to look him in the eyes. “Well, it turns out, he was late for a meeting with the King. Fashionably late, but late none-the-less. The King gets upset when people are late you know.”

“The King?” Shinichi asked.

“Of Clovers, yes. Please keep up.” Cheshire Kaito turned and curled around Shinichi’s shoulders. “Speaking of, the King is expecting you, Shin-chan. He won’t be happy if you are late.”

“The King? Expecting me?” Shinichi’s stomach dropped. “What happens if I’m late?”

“He’ll take your head as compensation I imagine,” Cheshire Kaito picked at something in his teeth. “So you might want to get on that.”

“W-What?!” Shinichi’s hands went to his neck. “I need to get there now! Which way is this King?”

Cheshire Kaito stared at Shinichi before letting out a loud groan. “I don’t wanna go! Go find someone else to take you!”

“What? Wait! Who else do I-?!”

“Follow the path,” Cheshire Kaito said with a yawn. His body slowly started to fade from existence. “You should find the Hatter just in time for tea.”

Then he winked out of sight.

Shinichi looked around for the wires and tricks, but he could find none. Instead of wasting time looking, he started off. It wouldn’t do to be late, after all.

*             *             *             *             *

Shinichi found the ‘Hatter’ that Cheshire Kaito spoke of… only, it was another Kaito. This one dressed in a pure white suit with a stately top hat and monocle. He sat at the head of a table littered with tea cups and kettles. He and another Kaito, one that looked strikingly like the White Kaito, were dancing on a table together when Shinichi happened upon them.

As soon as they spotted him, Shinichi was dragged into their dance.

“Have a very merry Unbirthday!” Hatter Kaito cheered as he poured Shinichi a cup of tea. It tasted like alcohol.

“It’s not my birthday,” Shinichi objected.

“Exactly!” Hare Kaito toasted him overenthusiastically. His cup sloshed over into Shinichi’s. “What’s so good about celebrating Birthdays when you can celebrate Unbirthdays?!”

“I don’t follow,” Shinichi sighed, despondent. “Cheshire Kaito said that I could come to you to…?”

“Have a party?” Hatter Kaito finished with a bright grin. “Of course! And you even dressed up!”

Shinichi blushed bright red. “No! It wasn’t me! It was White Kaito!”

“Oh, quite forward, isn’t he?” Hare Kaito asked, looking Shinichi over in a way that made Shinichi’s blush deepen and crawl down his neck. “I have to say, he has quite good tastes.”

“What? No, he doesn’t!” Hatter Kaito slammed his tea cup down. “He didn’t even give Shin-chan a hat! A tiara! Or even hairclips!”

“Hatter Kaito has a thing about hats,” Hare Kaito whispered to Shinichi. “And headbands… and hairclips… basically anything that can be worn on the head.”

“Please, you two!” Shinichi set his cup down. “I am late for a meeting with the King!”

Both of them gasped comically, hands going to their cheeks.

“Being late is bad!” Hare Kaito stage-whispered.

“Well, not when you’re fashionably late,” Hatter Kaito whispered back, “but late for the King? Tsk-tsk!”

“I’m not trying to be!” Shinichi protested emphatically. “But I don’t know how to get there!”

Hare Kaito gave him a curious look. “Didn’t White Kaito give you the tour?”

“No,” Shinichi dragged a hand down his face. “He was also late to see the King.”

Both Hatter Kaito and Hare Kaito stared at him.

Fashionably late,” Shinichi corrected.

“Now that sounds like White Kaito,” Hatter Kaito nodded to himself and to Hare Kaito and to Shinichi. “Okay! I know the way to the castle!”

“Great!” Shinichi said, getting up from the chair he had been forced into. “Then let’s get go-!”

“But I don’t want to go,” Hatter Kaito continued. “Not until I’ve eaten my Unbirthday cake.”

Shinichi looked to where Hatter Kaito gesture to a giant, seventy-tiered chocolate cake. The sheer size of the thing cast shadows over Shinichi.

He’s pretty sure it would kill Hatter Kaito before the other ever finished.

“But I need to go now!” Shinichi protested. “I don’t know how long it will take me and I’m already late!”

“You’re in luck!” Hare Kaito clapped his hands as Hatter Kaito swan-dived into the cake. “You’re already half-way there!”

Shinichi gaped. “I am?”

“Yup!” Hare Kaito beamed. “Just follow that path there and you should get there in about five.”

“… five what?” Shinichi asked. He looked back, but the Hare Kaito had already followed Hatter Kaito into the massive chocolate cake. “Five what?!”

No answer and Shinichi really didn’t have time to stick around for them to finish off their cake. So he started off.

*             *             *             *             *

Roughly twenty-four minutes later (how was that five anything?!), Shinichi arrived at the castle.

“You’re late,” a voice called from the top of a really long set of stairs. Shinichi let his eyes follow the staircase up to… another Kaito –this one dressed in medieval style clothes, complete with a Crown on his head and sword hilt at his hip. “But I supposed I can exact my punishment later, in light of-!”

“Are there only Kaitos here?!” Shinichi blurted out in exasperation before he could stop himself.

The King –King Kaito –blinked and started down the stairs. “Of course there are only Kaitos.”

“Of course?” Shinichi jerked, taken aback. “What do you mean ‘of course’?”

“Well, when the last ruler, the Queen of Hearts, reigned, she held the kingdom bound to her by a powerful curse. None were able to disobey her, none except me,” King Kaito said as he reached the bottom of the stairs. “So, naturally, I cloned myself, led a revolt against her, freed the people, and sent the Queen into exile.”

“What happened to the people?”

“The curse was strong. They decided they liked the Queen better than me and went after her,” King Kaito shrugged. “Last I heard, they were building altars to her beauty somewhere in the West.”

“… Huh,” Shinichi clicked his tongue. The whole thing sounded… calm and oddly anti-climactic.

“Now that you have been briefed on our history, let us be off!” King Kaito said, taking Shinichi’s hand in his.

“Off?” Shinichi struggled. “Off where?”

Kaito looked back at him. “They didn’t tell you?”

“They? Tell me what?” Shinichi asked, looking to where Kaito still held his hand. Then he realized that his sleeves had changed, his dress had changed. It used to be a frilly blue thing, but now it was a frilly white thing. A cloud of gauze drifted into his eyes, attached to the veil headband in his hair. “Wait, what’s going on?!”

“Well, this is awkward,” King Kaito coughed. “White was supposed to tell you.”

“Hey! You called me for a meeting!” White Kaito objected, popping up at Shinichi’s elbow. “I told Cheshire to do it!”

“I was too lazy!” the cat said, laying on his back above them. “I was sure that Hatter would tell him since I know he got his notice this morning.”

“I was going to!” Hatter complained, coming up behind Shinichi. Both he and Hare were covered head to toe in chocolate. “But Shin-chan –great veil by the way. Love the look –ran off before I could tell him!”

All eyes turned to Hare.

Hare shrugged. “I didn’t know. I don’t read those things. You all know that.”

“Can someone please tell me what’s going on?!” Shinichi begged.

“Why, we’re getting married, of course,” King Kaito smiled at him with such happiness that Shinichi felt his heart speed up.

“You and me?” Shinichi squeaked. “Married?”

“Well, you and I…” King pointed to White, “And him,” then to Cheshire, “and him,” then to Hatter and Hare, “and those two.”

“I… getting married…” Shinichi paled, “to all of you?!”

“Of course,” King frowned at him. “It makes sense doesn’t it?”

“How so?!”

“Well, we can’t marry each other,” White said, crossing his arms. “That would be weird.”

Shinichi was speechless.

“Now that we have our bride…” King clapped his hands. “Places everyone!”

The other ran off, leaving King with Shinichi at the bottom of the large staircase. Still shell-shocked, Shinichi didn’t react to King leaning down to his ear, not until his whispered words made their way into Shinichi’s brain.

“And later, during our first night as husband and wife, I will be taking you ‘head’ in compensation,” Kaito snickered. “Though, if you want to go first. I won’t mind.”

“Nooo!” Shinichi yelled, horrified as King dragged him up the staircase. “NOOOO!”

He jerked awake, head hitting the ground as he fell over.

“It was a dream?” Shinichi looked down at himself, no longer dressed in white or wearing a veil or –anything. “Just a dream.”

“Shi~ni~chi~!” a call came from above. Shinichi looked up into the face of a grinning Kaito. “Did you fall asleep out here?”

Shinichi screamed and ran inside.

Kaito blinked after him. “What?”

Chapter Text

“Hey, Hattori! You got a gender-bender I can use?”

Shinichi blinked and actually looked up from his book, because… there were three things wrong with this scene.

1) Kaito didn't need any help to dress up like a girl, especially not Hattori’s help.

2) They were in the library. Kaito was a sociable person. He knew the ins and outs of decorum that even Shinichi failed to grasp. A public place like this was the last place to ask for something so… candidly.

3) Was Hattori's answer.

“Sure, you need a spit-roaster or a snake dong?” the Osakan asked without looking up.

Shinichi choked and died a little inside. Neither of the two seemed to notice.

“Hmm… I got two males, so… spit-roaster.”

He had two what?!

“How’d you end up with two?” Hattori asked as he bent to grab his back pack. He shoved on hand in to start digging around.

“I thought I wrote down the kind I needed, but I wrote down the kind I had.”

What?

“So you're fixing your problem, not by returning the one you bought, but by bumming a gender-bender off your friends.”

What was going on?

“Sue me, I'm lazy.”

“Won't sue you, but I’ll take a twenty.”

Prostitution? Right in front of Shinichi’s eyes?!

“Hey, Kuroba-kun!” Sera piped up from the other side of Shinichi. “Did you figure out problem 8 in the digital homework?”

“Oh, yeah! I found a function that made it way easy,” Kaito leaned over her shoulder as Hattori continued to dig through his bag. “Here, try this.”

She squinted at what he typed in. “Cumtrapz?”

“Oh yeah,” Kaito nodded. “It catches all of it for you and gives you one big output.”

Shinichi was done. He couldn't handle anymore. Without a word, he grabbed his things and ran for the front door, face ablaze.

Hattori and Sera stared after him, and Kaito looked on with a smug grin.

“Damn, you’re right, Kuroba,” Sera raised an eyebrow. “The boy’s mind is a gutter. You wouldn't think it with how innocent he looks, but he is anything but amorphous.”

“I think you mean asexual,” Kaito frowned.

“Not, like an amoeba,” Sera clarified. “Amorphous reproduction.”

“... Asexual reproduction.”

Sera frowned at him. “You're joshing me.”

“Think we went too hard on him?” Hattori asked as he finally pulled a connector converter from his bag. They were standards in his and Sera’s motorbikes –and apparently Kuroba’s as well.

“It’s his own fault for getting worked up,” Kaito handed over a twenty.

“Still, coming up with 'cumtrapz’, I think you were pushing it,” Hattori raised an eyebrow.

“It’s a legit function in our software,” Sera turned her laptop around.

Hattori blinked at the screen, jaw dropping.

Cumulative trapezoidal,” Kaito recited with a grin. “Pronounced 'cue-m-trap-z’. It's an integration method that worked best for the problem Jodie-sensei gave us.”

“No shit,” Hattori cocked his head to the side.

Kaito looked to the doors to the library and sighed. “I better go after him. It won't do for him to get too riled up…”

“And for you to miss the party?” Sera’s grin was savage.

Kaito’s wink was equally so.

Hattori groaned and buried his face in his arms. “How am I friends with you two?”

“Because you love us!” Sera grinned.

“And we have enough blackmail to keep you from running away,” Kaito added.

Right.

That.

“See you later!” Kaito waved as Sera turned her laptop back around in order to continue work.

From his spot in the neat if his arms, Hattori heard. “I still think it's ‘amorphous’.”

He looked up and squinted at her poorly hidden smirk. “You're messing with me, aren't you?”

She grinned.

Chapter Text

Kaito threw himself onto the couch next to Shinichi. Shinichi merely lifted his book to allow the other to nestle his head into his lap and kept reading. Finishing the page, Shinichi asked “So, how was your day?”

“I firmly believe that high heels are commercialized torture devices.”

Shinichi blinked and tilted his book away to look down at his boyfriend. “… Why are you even wearing them?”

“You told me your parents were coming home two weeks from now,” Kaito said, as if that was an answer.

“Yeah? I told you on Saturday,” Shinichi frowned. “And if I recall correctly, you yelled at me because ‘I didn’t give you enough notice’ and then ran out of the house.”

“Of course I did!” Kaito huffed, crossing his arms and elbowing Shinichi in the hip in the process. “I needed to get these!”

“… That doesn’t explain why though.”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Kaito wiggled his toes in the strappy death-traps. “I’m going to dress up as a girl for your parents!”

“… But why?” Shinichi closed his book around his index finger, giving Kaito his attention. “I already told my parents that I’m dating a guy. They’ve seen pictures of you.”

“That just makes it better!” Kaito popped his hands up like ‘ta-dah!’, smile wide. “Then they’ll be expecting me to be a guy!”

Shinichi groaned and massaged the bridge of his nose. “I don’t understand you.”

“Don’t worry about it!” Kaito reached up to pet at his boyfriend’s face. “Just don’t tell them that I’m doing anything, yeah? It’ll be a fun surprise!”

Shinichi remembered that time when his own parents had kidnapped him in the name of a ‘surprise’. He was struck with the sudden realization that he was never going to get away from it. Kaito was just like Shinichi’s parents –right down to the nearly flawless disguises.

“Now, get your shoes on!” Kaito ordered as he got to his feet. “We need to update my wardrobe. All I have are disguises like Aoko. I am not going to be Aoko for your parents.”

Shinichi wanted to say that Kaito was already like Nakamori-chan, but he wisely held his tongue.

*             *             *             *             *

“I take it back. Headbands are commercialized torture devices.” This was the latest comment Kaito made about various feminine details he wanted to perfect.

Shinichi gave the same response as he always did. “… Why are you wearing one?”

Kaito huffed and put his hands on his hips, a very feminine action –or at least, the way Kaito did it was.

“Shin-chan!” Kaito whined. “We went over this already! I have to be a perfect girl in front of your parents!”

“But why?” Shinichi asked for the umpteenth time in the last week. The deadline was down to seven days and Kaito was freaking out over minute details like headbands and lip gloss. Shinichi knew far more about feminine beauty products that he had ever wanted to know.

“Shinichi…” Kaito whined.

“What does it matter if my parents see you as a boy or a girl?” Shinichi asked, frowning in hurt. “Are you ashamed? Have I made you feel that way? Do you… not want…?”

“No! No! No!” Kaito waved his hands in denial. “It’s nothing to do with you!”

“Then what?” Shinichi asked, brow furrowing.

“It’s…” Kaito fiddle with the hem of his shirt. “Your mom’s a really famous actress, yeah?”

“She was,” Shinichi nodded, remembering his mom’s movies that she’d forced him to watch. “She’s retired now, though.”

“And your dad’s a famous author,” Kaito listed off, as if not hearing Shinichi’s comment.

“Again, yes. He is,” Shinichi raised an eyebrow. “Are you going somewhere with this?”

“I just… I don’t know,” Kaito scratched at the back of his neck. “I want to impress them?”

Shinichi blinked. “Let me get this straight. You want to impress them by dressing up as a member of the opposite gender, because they are famous?”

“Well, when you say it like that, it sounds stupid!” Kaito huffed, crossing his arms. The bangles on his wrist jingled. “I want to impress them by making up a believable character and staying in character while in front of them. It’s a bonus if I actually pull one over them, what with your father being a smarter detective than you.”

“He is not a better detective than me!” Shinichi protested. “He cheats, okay?!”

“Still,” Kaito smiled brightly, “don’t you want to see him look all lost and confused over the fact that I’m a girl when you said I was a boy?”

“I… guess…” Though Shinichi highly doubted his father would miss something like that. If nothing else, his mom would clue in her husband. Shinichi sighed. “Just… don’t be upset if they don’t fall for it?”

“Upset? Shinichi, do you have no faith in me?” Kaito pouted. “You know exactly how good my disguises are!”

“And I have figured you out every time,” Shinichi deadpanned. “Haven’t you ever wondered why that is?”

“You’re a party-pooper,” Kaito declared, turning away to mess with a long-haired wig. “I won’t talk to party-poopers! Come back when you want to have some fun!”

Shinichi sighed and rolled his eyes, but left Kaito to it. After all, he had a certain call to make in order to surprise his magician.

*             *             *             *             *

When the doorbell rang, it was Kaito who opened the door with a bubbly, “Welcome!”

Yuusaku and Yukiko Kudou blinked at him –or rather, her, as Kaito had already slipped into the persona of Aizawa Hinata, cheerful down-to-earth girl whose dream it was to make it big on the movie scene one day. As such, she was always up-to-date on the latest fashion, which explained the tempting mini-skirt, knee-high boots and crop-jacket/tank-top combo Kaito had eventually decided on for his first costume.

Kaito was pretty proud of himself, not going to lie.

“Um…” Yuusaku coughed, his voice raspy like he had a cold or something. “This is… the Kudou house, correct?”

“Yes, yes!” ‘Hinata’ confirmed with a bright grin. “Come in, come in! Shin-chan is just inside!”

“Shin… chan?” Yuusaku echoed, perplexed even as his wife took the invite and slipped off her shoes at the doorway.

“It’s good to see you guys again,” Shinichi said as he came in from the hallway. He shook his mom’s hand and gave his dad a strange side-hug. When he’d finished his greeting, he pulled back to stand next to ‘Hinata’. “How was your trip?”

“Good,” Yukiko answered, that same raspy quality to her voice. Maybe the two had gotten sick together? It wouldn’t be a surprise. Kaito got sick from Shinichi all the time.

“Shin-ch…” Yuusaku coughed. “Shinichi, I… thought you said we were meeting your boyfriend.”

‘Hinata’ gasped and turned on Shinichi. “Is that what you told them? Shin-chan is so mean! Just because I act boy-ish sometimes!”

“Sorry, sorry!” Shinichi rubbed the back of his head. “Let me introduce you.”

Shinichi put an arm around ‘Hinata’s’ waist and turned them both to his parents. Kaito made sure to slouch slightly so that he was shorter than Shinichi. After all, the average girl wasn’t taller than her male counterpart.

“Mom, dad,” Shinichi looked to both of them. “This is Kaito.”

Hinata!” ‘Hinata’ corrected. “Steal a french fry one time.”

“More than once,” Shinichi argued calmly, but continued before ‘Hinata’ could protest. “I think I’ve sent you pictures before?”

“Yes, you did…” Yukiko replied. “But didn’t… Hinata… have short hair?”

“Oh!” ‘Hinata’ hid her face in her hands. “That was so embarrassing! I got some gum stuck in my hair and I had to cut it all off! I only just managed to grow it back out. Shin-chan is so mean! Sending those pictures out! What if my agent finds one?”

Shinichi let out a sigh and rolled his eyes. “Your non-existent agent.”

There was a gasp of outrage, but it was not from ‘Hinata’.

“Shini-! Shin-chan!” Yukiko started in that no-nonsense tone of hers. “How could you?! What a horrible thing to say!”

Kaito suddenly remembered that Yukiko had been an actress once and probably knew the hard life of finding an agent and working her way to the top. This would surely play in his favor.

“Isn’t it?” ‘Hinata’ choked up, fake tears coming to her eyes. “I try so hard, but all he ever does is put me down! It’s like he doesn’t know how hard it is!”

“Oh, poor girl!” Yukiko grasped ‘Hinata’s’ hands in hers, the two fitting together evenly. “I understand! I do! Yuu-chan is so much the same! Shin-chan is just like his father!”

Shinichi and Yuusaku share a look.

“Is he?” ‘Hinata’ hiccupped. “Really?”

“Yes, he is! He is!” Yukiko nodded adamantly. “He ignores me constantly! He has to write his books and gets chased everywhere by his agents! And every time we go to a book meet, he lets some floozy hang all over him! I swear, he’s cheating on me with every woman he meets!”

‘Hinata’ gasped, wide-eyed with concern. “No! How could he!”

“Honey, I have never-!”

“And Shin-chan is just like him!” Yukiko continued fervently. “He plays with girls’ hearts and drops them when he’s grown bored! Have you spoken with Mouri Ran?”

“Hey! Don’t go putting ideas into-!”

“Isn’t she his childhood friend?” ‘Hinata’ frowned, wiping fake tears from her cheeks. “Don’t tell me. She…?”

Yukiko nodded seriously and turned a dark look onto Shinichi, one ‘Hinata’ mirrored.

“Honey, please don’t miss-lead the girl,” Yuusaku sighed heavily. “You’re blowing things out of proportion.”

Yukiko pulled away from ‘Hinata’ to cross her arms. “So you’re saying you’ve never cheated on me? Never even thought about it? Not once?”

“Of course I haven’t. Not a one of those ‘floozies’ could stand up to your beauty,” Yuusaku scowled. “Which is why I don’t understand why you need to run half-way across the world with some made-up story, just to get me to chase you. Wouldn’t it be easier to talk it out instead?”

“Sometimes a girl just wants to feel wanted,” Yukiko grumbled, a pout on her lips.

‘Hinata’ watched the back and forth, a little mystified. It… looked like her plan worked?

“Okay, that’s enough of that,” Shinichi said, tone familiar. It was the same tone that he used before he revealed one of Kaito’s tricks. But no! Shinichi promised! “You’ve had your fun, you two. Time to switch back.”

Wait, what?

“Oh, thank the heavens!” Yukiko said, her voice suddenly dropping octaves. Her hands went to her chest, fondling her boobs. “These things are heavy! I don’t understand how you handle walking around with them all day!”

What?

“Same to you!” Yuusaku said, his voice rising octaves. He plucked at his mustache, slowly peeling it off, “This thing is so itchy! How do you put up with it!?”

What?

“I do it for you,” Yukiko looked over with a sly look, “because you said you liked a man with a little hair.”

“And I do,” Yuusaku returned the look. He pressed himself up against Yukiko’s back. “So why don’t you take off that mask and give me a little smooch?”

No, seriously, what?!

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kai-chan!” Yuus –no, Yukiko said, enveloping ‘Hinata’ in a warm hug. It was then that Kaito noticed that ‘Yuusaku’ was several inches shorter, something he had not noticed when Shinichi had hugged the other.

Because Shinichi has slouched, just like Kaito had, to emphasize a difference in height.

“Your acting is quite good and your improvision is Grade-A work,” Yuki –no, Yuusaku offered a hand as he took a step up from the entryway, putting himself slightly above Kaito’s height. And when, dumbly, Kaito shook his hand, he could have smacked himself.

Their hands were the same size.  When his hands had been grabbed before, Yukiko’s hand would have been smaller than his, not the same.

“I almost bought the whole thing!” Yukiko clapped her hands and leaned forward to wipe a finger under Kaito’s eye. “If not for the crying.”

“Why…” Kaito cleared his throat, dropping back into his normal tenor. “Why was that what gave it away?”

“Actresses who wear makeup know not to cry,” Yukiko said, showing him a black smudge. “Or if they do, they know to dab at their eyes to keep the mascara from smearing.”

Ah, yeah. Kaito forgot about that. He should have invested in water-proof makeup.

“Okay, but why…” he pointed to the two of them, “are you dressed up?”

“They always do something like this when they come home,” Shinichi explained. “I just called them ahead of time to ask if they could go as each other.”

“It was so much fun!” Yukiko beamed at her husband.

“Speak for yourself,” Yuusaku rubbed at his calves. “Those shoes were killing me. I swear, they are torture devices!”

Kaito scowled at Shinichi. “I thought you said you wouldn’t tell them!”

“I didn’t,” Shinichi shrugged.

“We guessed on our own,” Yuusaku agreed.

“It’s hard not to notice when we’ve had similar mentors,” Yukiko added.

“Similar mentors?” Kaito cocked his head to the side.

“Kuroba Toichi,” Yukiko’s smile turned slightly sad. “He was the one to teach me how to disguise myself for my acting.”

Kaito’s breath caught in his throat.

“Toichi-san was a very close friend,” Yuusaku put a hand on Kaito’s shoulder. “You’re a lot like him.”

Kaito had to struggle to hold back real tears at that. He hadn’t had the chance to grow up with his father, didn’t know if he’d become a man his pops could be proud of. If his father’s friend said something like that though, who was Kaito to disagree?

“Now,” Yukiko put her hands on her hips, “are we going to stand around in the entry way or do we get a tour of the house?”

“Right this way!” Kaito said, recovering quickly and leading Yukiko around by the hand, eager to show off his and Shinichi’s home.

Yuusaku hung back with Shinichi. He tugged off the long-haired wig and watched after the two with a smile mirrored by his son.

“You know, she wasn’t wrong,” Yuusaku said, “You and I are a lot alike.”

“Yeah, we’re detectives,” Shinichi rolled his eyes, “It’s a given.”

“More than that,” Yuusaku grinned when Shinichi made a questioning sound. “We have a similar type –dramatic actors who want the world but somehow settle for us.”

Shinichi didn’t voice it, but he couldn’t help but agree.

 

Chapter Text

Shinichi hated this.

‘This’ being a setup.

Ran had said she just wanted to have a nice afternoon to catch up now that she’d finally forgiven him for the Conan thing and for breaking up with her (even though she was the one to do the breaking up. Shinichi remembered this. He still had bruises on his shins to prove it.) Shinichi was just glad to have his friend back after so long, so he didn’t question the sudden invite.

He really should have.

Ran didn’t arrive alone. Sonoko was with her and where Sonoko went, drama was sure to follow.

“Shinichi,” Sonoko addressed him as she leaned intimidatingly over the table. “Ran told me you aren’t seeing anyone.”

Shinichi drew back from her. “I’m… not?”

Sonoko raised an eyebrow. “Is that a question?”

“Um… no?”

Sonoko narrowed her eyes. “Ran said that you aren’t dating anyone. She won’t feel okay with dating other people until you are happily off with someone else. You see my problem here.”

Shinichi looked at Sonoko, then at Ran. Ran gave him a long-suffering stare and shrugged, like what can you do? Shinichi turned back to Sonoko. “I don’t see how this is my fault.”

And he didn’t.

Ran was a strong, independent woman that didn’t need Shinichi’s permission to date whomever she found attractive. Shinichi’s inability to be polite company to the vast majority of the population played no part in her ability to draw men to her like moths to a flame. And honestly?

Shinichi is kind of insulted on her behalf that Sonoko would think otherwise.

Sonoko let out a dramatic and, quite frankly, over-exaggerated sigh –as if the very thought of putting up with Shinichi’s social ineptitude might actually kill her. “You don’t see. You never see!”

“But I observe,” Shinichi pointed out. Hey, it was close enough to a Sherlock quote to get a little sassy in his opinion.

“Well, go observe some nice ladies and let Ran get on with her life!” Sonoko threw her hands up, drawing attention from the café as a whole. “She can’t move on until she’s sure that you’re happy and not some sad sack moping in the corner.”

Shinichi does not mope, thank you. “Ran can do whatever she wants. Can’t you, Ran?”

“Well…” Ran hesitated. Shinichi looked over at her, wide-eyed. She looked apologetic even as she continued to speak. “I would feel better knowing that someone is coming by to keep you from gathering dust in that big library of yours. Sometimes I feel like, if I weren’t around, you’d just waste away in there.”

Shinichi does not feel the need to tell her she’s right. Ran normally is.

“Right!” Sonoko agreed whole-heartedly. She jabbed a finger in Shinichi’s direction. “So you need to get on with the moving on! And to do that, I have decided to appoint myself your official match-maker!”

Oh no.

Please, please no.

Think of something, Shinichi. Anything to stop the insanity!

“I already have a lover,” Shinichi said.

Anything but that.

“Oh, really?” Sonoko gave him a calculating stare. Ran just looked surprised, probably more than she should have. Wow, harsh. “What’s her name?”

“I don’t need to tell you,” Shinichi covered as he sipped at his drink. “I came here for a nice talk with Ran. Not the Inquisition.”

“Well, too bad,” Sonoko crossed her arms. “Because, unless I see them in person, I won’t believe it!”

Shinichi took another sip of his coffee, screaming internally.

“Call her up and make her come here,” Sonoko demanded. “I want to see her in person.”

“I’m not calling them,” Shinichi said, grabbing his phone to put it in his lap. Just in case. With Sonoko, he could never be too careful. “Besides, they’re probably in class.”

“We can wait,” Sonoko said, making herself more comfortable in the booth. Ran looked just as interested, probably because he’d never told her about any dating action going on.

Shinichi scowled at Sonoko. She scowled back.

“Fine,” Shinichi grumbled, opening a text to Hattori. “I’ll text them, but don’t get upset when they say they’re busy.”

 “Like I said,” Sonoko raised an eyebrow. “We’ll wait.”

Hattori, help! I’ve been trapped by Sonoko and Ran in some sort of intervention!

Intervention? Of what kind?

Sonoko says that my stagnant dating life is preventing Ran from moving on.

Oh, one of those.

Yeah.

You’re on your own.

Damn.

*             *             *             *             *

So they waited and waited… and waited and waited until the caffeine had hit Sonoko’s system and she found that a restroom break was required. So she and Ran went together as girls often do and Shinichi found himself alone for the first time in an hour.

Perfect.

He needed to make this quick if he wanted to be free of the two she-devils (no offense, Ran).

Granted, he could just run away and hope that Sonoko gives up on the whole endeavor, but from past experience, that was… Shinichi shuddered. That wasn’t an option, not in the least. No, he had to come up with a better plan.

Shinichi looked around for someone –anyone –to play his lover. Someone good-looking and charming enough to put Sonoko off his trail. Even if they were an idiot and way below Shinichi’s standards, he could claim brief insanity and ‘break up’ later.

But now, he needed a body.

Not that girl, that guy was too buff, that was a female version of Hattori… There!

Male, his age, fairly attractive, nimble hands and ordering a drink from their non-caffeinated menu.

Shinichi rushed him. “You!”

The man startled against the counter, nearly knocking over his cup. Curious indigo eyes flew wide as Shinichi approached. The man’s voice cracked as he answered. “M-me?”

“Do you want to make quick money?” Shinichi asked, deadly serious.

“... Money?” the man frowned at him. “Are you propositioning me?”

“Kind of?” Shinichi winced because he knew that sounded bad. “Look, my friends are concerned that I don’t have a significant other and decided to ambush me instead of talking it out like normal people. I just need you to play my lover for a few minutes –half an hour, tops. I’ll pay you a hundred dollars.”

As he spoke, the other man’s eyebrows crawled up his forehead. When Shinichi had finished, he took a thoughtful sip of his drink. He gave Shinichi and his fidget-tapping foot a slow once over. Then he took another sip.

“Look, are you in or not?” Shinichi demanded. “Because, if not, I need to find someone else in the next-!”

“Okay, I’ll do it,” the man said. “What do I need to know?”

“My name is Kudou Shinichi, feel free to call me Shinichi,” Shinichi listed as he grabbed the other’s hand to tow him back to their table. “I am a detective. The two friends are Ran and Sonoko.”

Before he could get any further than that, the two ladies returned from the restroom.

Dang. Shinichi hadn’t even been able to sit back down, make it look like his lover had arrived like asked.

Sonoko stopped when they drew close, eyeing the newcomer with suspicion. Ran cocked her head to the side, curious. Sonoko crossed her arms with an impatient look. “And who, exactly, is this?”

“This is my boyfriend,” Shinichi said, words sounding weird in his mouth. A second too late, he realized that Sonoko might question his sudden change in sexual orientation.

She didn’t.

“An actual boyfriend?” Sonoko raised an eyebrow. “Or someone you found in this cafe and paid off.”

“An actual boyfriend, thank you,” Shinichi said hotly.

“Oh really?” Sonoko scowled, then grinned widely. “What’s his name?”

Shinichi blinked. “What?”

“His name,” Sonoko pointed to the man who was calmly drinking from his cup at Shinichi’s side. “What. Is. It?”

Shinichi looked over at the man. The man smiled brightly at him. Shinichi looked over at Sonoko who looked smug, then over at Ran who just looked disappointed.

Shinichi felt his stomach twist.

Oh, sh-!

*             *             *             *             *

-it! This was hilarious!

And poor Tantei-kun looked so sad! He just wilted at the Suzuki girl’s question. Oh, this just made Kaito’s day!

After a few more seconds of squirming, he figured he should probably put the detective out of his misery. (Let it never be said that Kaito was mean to his detectives.)

“Apologies, but he doesn’t know my name,” Kaito said with a charming smile directed at the girls. Before Sonoko could grow any smugger, Kaito continued. “You see, we have a bet going on.”

“A bet?” Ran asked over Suzuki’s scoff.

“We date for however long it takes him to figure out my name,” Kaito smoothly covered. He eyed their gaping faces over his drink. “Should be easy for a detective, no?”

“How did you know he was a detective?” Suzuki demanded. “I bet he just told you to say that. Make it more believable.”

As he searched his brain for ‘Hakuba-like’ actions, Kaito took a sip of his hot chocolate. Finding a good plot to use, he swallowed and shrugged. “In a way, he did. First time we shook hands, he did that… thing, you know?”

“What thing?” Suzuki scowled, but Ran lit up.

“Ah! You mean the Holmes Handshake!” Ran beamed. “Shinichi told me about it once! That Holmes was able to deduce anyone’s occupation based on their hands!”

“Yes!” Kaito pointed to her before gripping Shinichi’s hand in a shake. “And when we shook, he said…?”

He looked over to his Tantei-kun questioningly. He’d set him up and everything. If Tantei-kun could just play along…

Shinichi stared down at their hands, mystified. “I don’t know.”

Kaito hung his head. “I was letting you reclaim your dignity, Shin-chan.”

Shinichi twitched and frowned. “Don’t call me that.”

“I’ve never seen Shinichi fail to deduce before!” Ran gasped in shock.

“That’s…” Sonoko frowned, her confidence shaken. She rested her cheek against the knuckles of her right hand. “That’s… unusual.”

Shinichi scowled at both as Kaito grinned and withdrew his hand. In the next moment, a rose sprouted from between his fingers. “Well, I do imagine he hasn’t shaken hands with a magician before. There are few of us now-a-days.”

“Magician?” Sonoko looked ecstatic. “Like Kaitou KID?!”

“KID wishes he was as good as me!” Kaito laughed, because it wouldn’t do for Tantei-kun to become too suspicious. But then, because Kaito liked to toot his own horn… “KID is actually an idol of mine.”

“Same, same!” Sonoko cheered. Shinichi groaned as Ran gave a polite smile. “I love KID!”

Oh, Kaito knew.

He grinned as he sat down, purposefully in Tantei-kun’s seat where the lukewarm coffee needed a refill.

Shinichi just huffed and stole his drink back. It’s okay. Kaito didn’t want his coffee. It was probably sin sugar and cream.

“How did you two meet?” Ran asked, genuinely interested.

“Oh, this oughta be good,” Sonoko rubbed her hands together.

Kaito traced his finger around the lip of his cup, thinking. “Well…”

*             *             *             *             *

Don’t say crime scene. Don’t say crime scene, Shinichi prayed. Don’t. Say. Crime. Scene!

“... It was at a crime scene.”

Shinichi face-palmed and wondered if he could suffocate himself with just his hand. Probably not.

“It was just as they were wrapping up, actually,” the man (what was his name?!) explained. “I got to see Tantei-kun’s deduction show and everything. Now, I’m not one for dead bodies, but his showmanship was flawless.”

“So you fell for his theatrics?” Sonoko smirked over her parfait.

“Hardly!” the man turned up his nose. “I fell for his romantics.”

“Shinichi?” Ran clarified.

Romantics?” Sonoko repeated with a disbelieving drawl. Both girls laughed at Shinichi’s expense.

“Yeah, it might not have been the usual kind of romantic gesture, but it made my heart flutter,” the man rested his chin on his knuckles. Indigo eyes stared at Shinichi, making him shift self-consciously. “After he had finished calling the criminal out, he looked over towards me. Our eyes connected and he said one word: fireworks.”

“Fireworks,” Sonoko repeated, doubtful.

“I assume he meant the spark that ignited between us with that first glance,” the man smiled at Shinichi, not seeming to pay the doubtful girls any attention. “I know I felt it.”

Wow. This guy was good.

Both girls looked starry-eyed and impressed now. Shinichi himself half-believed it and that was saying something.

“I think he was struck dumb by my good looks, because he totally missed my introduction right after,” the man huffed, looking mildly offended before winking at Shinichi. “But that did lend me a brilliant excuse to capture him. He never could say no to a challenge.”

“And I regret it every day,” Shinichi groaned.

“So, how long have you two been going out?” Sonoko quizzed.

“Two years,” the man said, dead serious. Shinichi sputtered into his drink and nearly choked. Ran looked stunned.

“But, that was when…” Ran fell quiet as Shinichi quickly tried to remedy the situation.

“Weeks!” Shinichi waved his hands at Sonoko’s angering face. “He meant weeks!”

“I think he knew exactly what he meant!” Sonoko hissed. “Is he that ‘case’ you were working on for a whole year!? Were you dating him while dating Ran!?” she gasped and turned to Ran. “Is that why you broke up with him!?”

“No, no, no!” Shinichi waved his hands. Shit! He should never have chosen a random person from the coffee shop to play his lover. That was a terrible idea!

“Sorry, sorry,” the man laughed non-chalantly. “I couldn’t help myself! You should have seen your faces!”

The three stared at the man like he’d grown another head. Shinichi punched his shoulder, infuriated.

“Ow!” the man complained, rubbing his shoulder. “What was that for?”

“That was a terrible joke and you know it,” Shinichi grimaced before he turned his gaze back down to his coffee. He took a sip –ew, it was cold… He took a sip anyway.

“Mmm… Sorry, Tantei-kun,” the man smiled, not looking apologetic in the least. “But I had to make sure they were really your friends!”

Shinichi blinked and looked up.

What?!” Sonoko shrieked. “Us!? We’re trying to make sure you’re really his boyfriend!”

“Why would you need to test us?” Ran asked, in a calmer tone than Sonoko, but still quite sad.

“Why?” the man swished his drink around –hot chocolate, now that Shinichi was close enough to smell it. “Well, of course! For the same reason that you felt the need to interrogate my… Shinichi about his love life, which neither of you are currently playing a part in, nor need to concern yourselves with. If Shinichi wanted to, he could choose to get a Sugar Mama or love a criminal or grow old and die alone –and that would be his choice. Your thoughts and wishes have no bearing on what Shinichi should do and, quite frankly, you have no right to tell him who he should date or even to date if he chooses not to.”

Sonoko was stunned.

Ran was stunned.

Shinichi was stunned.

The man smiled. “But I’m sure you had his best interests at heart. I’m glad that Shinichi has friends like you who want to look out for him. Just know where to draw the line from now on, okay?”

“Yeah,” Sonoko said, sounding a little dazed.

Ran nodded with a look that said she was re-evaluating her life choices.

“Good!” the man said as he drained the rest of his drink. “Now, Shinichi and I have somewhere else to be, so if you two will excuse us!”

They did? Shinichi didn’t know about this.

Oh wait, the guy probably wanted his money.

Had Shinichi really paid one-hundred dollars for a fake-date? Well… it did come with the added bonus of a stern talking to for Sonoko. He probably owed the guy more than the hundred he originally offered.

While Shinichi was thinking this over, the other man ushered him out of the booth and then out the door into the chilly post-winter, near-spring air. He took Shinichi’s hand to lead the detective away from the café, probably putting on a show for the girls who could still see them through the window.

Just as Shinichi was about to question where they were going, the man spoke up. “I’m sorry about intervening like that. They are your friends, so I probably shouldn’t have yelled at them like that, but…”

“It’s fine,” Shinichi shook his head and kept pace with the other. “Someone had to do it or Sonoko would have kept chugging along like a train with no brakes heading into a highly populated town.”

“That’s a…” the man frowned, “morbid image.”

“Indeed,” Shinichi agreed. “So you’ve actually done us a favor. Ran and I, we wouldn’t have stood up to her. I’m not sure she would have listened even if we did. Sonoko’s just always been Sonoko.”

“Well, I’m glad that I could help,” the man looked at him out of the corner of his eye. “In more ways than one.”

“Oh right!” Shinichi paused them at a crosswalk. “I own you some money, right?”

“Nah, that’s fine,” the man shrugged. “I don’t need it.”

Shinichi looked at him. “You don’t need a hundred dollars.”

“Nope,” the man shook his head. “I’m not strapped for cash or anything. If you feel bad about it, donate it to some animal shelter in my name. Make sure they take in birds too, though. I like birds.”

“Huh…” Shinichi… didn’t know what to do with that. This guy just… blew all of Shinichi’s expectations out of the water. He… kind of liked that. Too bad it had to end. “Well, thank you, anyway. I guess this is good-bye then.”

“More like ‘see you later’,” the man replied with a cheeky grin. “After all, you still haven’t guessed my name.”

Shinichi frowned. “I thought you made that up for my friends. We’ve never met before today.”

“Haven’t we?” the man smiled at him. “I’ve given you enough clues, Tantei-kun. You should have known by now.”

Shinichi frowned harder, eyebrows furrowing as he thought back to the things the man had revealed about himself.

“Well, I do imagine he hasn’t shaken hands with a magician before. There are few of us now-a-days.”

 “KID wishes he was as good as me!”

“... It was at a crime scene.”

“Our eyes connected and he said one word, ‘fireworks.’”

“He never could say no to a challenge.”

One scene stood out above all the others.

“So, how long have you two been going out?” Sonoko quizzed.

“Two years,” the man said, dead serious. Shinichi sputtered into his drink and nearly choked. Ran looked stunned.

“But, that was when…” Ran fell quiet.

When Shinichi was Conan –which Ran knew and Sonoko didn’t. But this man couldn’t know. It wasn’t possible-!

“I’ve given you enough clues, Tantei-kun.”

It clicked.

Clicked like the click-clack of shoes against tiles floors of expensive museums. Clicked like set traps that he wove around, designed for bodies far larger than his own. Clicked like his watch as he took aim, fired, and missed.

Clicked like the snap of his phone as he closed it to address the newcomer to the rooftop, a figure dressed in all white, who moved silent as a cloud, but made noise as easily as an explosion and called in the voices of every officer on the Taskforce and many other people Conan did not know.

Tantei-kun…”

This man… Shinichi knew this man.

“Kaitou KID?” Shinichi whispered, surprised by his own deduction.

The man –KID –just smiled at him. “Ex-KID, actually. When you took down that terrorist organization, the people I was working against fell too. I’ve been keeping a low profile ever since, keeping an eye out just in case some decide to try their hand at finding… at completing their mission.”

“So you haven’t been… stalking me?” Shinichi winced at the way that sounded. “Today in the café was just…?”

“An accident,” KID confirmed. “Though I will admit: I thought you were there to arrest me. You practically tackled me against the counter. I thought you had found my civilian identity and were just lying in wait to strike.”

“You make me sound like some kind of predator,” Shinichi scoffed and crossed his arms.

“Aren’t you?” KID asked. “I’ve heard detectives are like sharks –they smell blood.”

Shinichi had said as much before, though KID couldn’t possibly have known that.

“As fun as this revelation is, I’m going to have to bring you in now,” Shinichi said, despite the pain in his chest at the words. “Kaitou KID is a notorious criminal. As a detective, it is my duty to bring him in.”

KID tensed, as if to flee, but he hesitated. “I’m sensing a ‘but’ in there…”

“I can’t turn Kaitou KID in until I’ve figured out his real name,” Shinichi said. “And I can’t do that unless you give me plenty of opportunities to learn.”

“Going back to our supposed ‘bet’?” KID laughed, shoulders relaxing. “You’ll date me until you deduce my name? But then what?”

“Well, according to the laws in effect, I could not be counted as a key witness,” Shinichi shrugged, even as he stared into KID’s eyes with a fervor that had driven lesser men and women to their knees. KID merely blushed. “After all, significant others are generally too biased to be of logical use to the court system.”

“I like the way you think, Tantei-kun,” KID said, grin becoming devious. “I’ll make sure our actual first date is better than this one.”

“I’ll be waiting,” Shinichi said. At that moment, a rush of wind tore past them. Shinichi closed his eyes against it, not wanting to get his bangs into delicate parts. When he opened them again, KID was gone.

“You better come back, you thief,” Shinichi said as he looked up towards the sky.

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito cowered behind the corner he’d fled to as the detective crossed the street and continued on his way.

He felt as if he’d just escaped the maws of a lion on sheer luck of a full stomach –and at the same time, like a curious little fox that couldn’t help but go back for more. This thrill, this sense of chase, he had missed it since leaving the KID mantel to rest. He had thought that everything of that life had to be left behind –including and especially Tantei-kun.

Kaito is so glad he’d been wrong.

He covered his nose against the cold and blamed the redness of his cheeks to the wind.

“I’ll definitely come back, Tantei-kun,” Kaito promised. “So be ready when I do.”

Chapter Text

Kaito liked the ocean. It’s calming waves, refreshing salt spray and beautiful sunsets; everything combined into the most calming place Kaito had ever seen.

Oh, he’d never set foot in it –never even think about it! Not with the f-f-f –things living inside it. No, Kaito wouldn’t go in, but the surface wasn’t bad to enjoy.

Usually, he’d sit at the edge of a small pier, beach on one side, surf on the other and just watched. All of the crazy spinning thoughts in his head would quiet and his fidget-tapping fingers would relax. Sometimes, he’d do homework. Sometimes he’d work on his magic. Other times, he’d just sit and enjoy. After all, you only live life once.

It was one of those days now where he just needed a break from school and Aoko and people and-!

“Are you not going to get in?” a voice off the edge of the dock startled Kaito. Roughly two feet below, a face peered up at him from the water. Blue eyes, the bluest blue Kaito had ever seen, stared up at him, curious. “Are you?”

“What?” Kaito asked, dumbfounded.

“Are you going to come in?” the man asked, pushing one dark lock of soaked hair away from his eyes. “I see you around here a lot, but you never jump in like everybody else.”

“Oh, I just like watching the ocean,” Kaito said, finally tuning back in to the conversation. “Not everyone comes to swim, you know.”

“I know,” the man said. He pointed out to a couple boats lining the other docks. “Men come out on those to haul up fish. You don’t.”

“Because I’m not a fisherman,” Kaito rolled his eyes and leaned back on his hands. “Some people just like to stare out at the ocean. It’s calming.”

“It’s weird,” the man wrinkled his nose.

Kaito scowled and turned up his nose. “You know, some people would find it weird that you were watching me.”

The man sank up to his chin in the water. His lips brushed the waves as he spoke. “It’s not weird.”

“It’s weird,” Kaito confirmed with a teasing grin.

“I just…” the man looked off to the side, cheeks flushing slightly. “I like the things you do with your hands. It’s… interesting.”

“My hands?” Kaito held one up to examine. Things he did with his hands… Oh! “You mean my magic?”

The man frowned. “That’s not magic.”

“Of course it is!” Kaito defended. “I’m a magician! It’s magic!”

“You may be a magician, but what I saw is not magic,” the man argued.

“Here, I’ll show you!” Kaito said hotly. He took a coin from his pocket and flicked it into the air. When he caught it, he grinned down at the man before making the coin dance across his knuckles and disappear.

“It’s under your watch,” the man said quite accurately.

Kaito scowled at him, because, hey! His attention should have been on his fingers when Kaito turned his hand over…

Then Kaito realized that the man was far shorter than Kaito was used to. For sleight of hand to work, he needed his audience at a certain angle. Right now, the line of sight was all wrong.

“You saw it because you were in the water!” Kaito hissed, ruffled because his trick had been seen through. “Get up here!”

“I don’t…” the man winced and ducked his head. “Think that’s a good idea.”

“Nope! Nope! You called my magic into question!” Kaito crossed his arms petulantly. “You have to get up here so I can prove myself!”

The man let out a sigh and ducked below the water. Kaito stared after him and deflated. Guess the man was done with him. Dang, he was pretty hot too.

Just as Kaito settled back into his lounge, he heard a sound that shot ice to the depths of his stomach. On the calm beach, with the sun on his face and wind in his hair, Kaito heard a splash.

A big one.

Followed by a solid thud as water sprayed all up his right side.

“Hey, a little help here?”

Strong arms grasped at the boards of the dock. Pale skin flowed down a broad back to a trim waist and. Bright. Blue. Scales.

“F-f-f-!” Kaito crab-walked backwards. His palmed scraped against the old wooden boards, doubtlessly picking up splinters from tip to palm. He couldn’t care less.

“Hey, are you-?”

FISH!” Kaito yelled. He finally managed to scramble to his feet and flat-out bolted away. Behind him, he heard another splash, but it was far away.

Far, far away.

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito was scared to return for fear of the half-fish monster lurking near his spot. It had said that it watched him for a while. It had wondered why he didn’t swim.

Was it waiting for him?

Was it watching for him to return?

Did it dream of dragging him beneath the surface? Holding him down? Feasting on his flesh?

Could it find him on land?

Could it smell the blood he’d left behind and follow the trail to his house?

Could it drag its way from the watery depths and kill him in his sleep?

Kaito didn’t know, but he lay awake at night, terrified of any of it being true. One night turned into two… turned into three… turned into ten. The monster never showed its face.

Maybe…

Maybe Kaito had dreamed the whole thing up. Maybe he got a little heat stroke and started to hallucinate things. There was no way a monster like that would be real, right? No, it just had to be Kaito’s overactive imagination.

Another week went by and still no monster, so Kaito felt he was safe enough to return to the dock and his usual spot.

“Oh, you came back.”

Kaito was wrong.

He was so wrong.

*             *             *             *             *

It should be noted that Kaito only ran away from the beach two more times before he decided to get to the bottom of this.

‘This’ being the pair of beady eyes staring at him from the watery depths.

Kaito stared back, glare fierce even as his hands shook.

The eyes rose as their owner brought his mouth out of the water. “Are you going to run away again?”

“That depends,” Kaito said.

“On?”

“Whether you’re going to try to eat me again.”

“I… never? Tried to eat you?” the monster cocked his head to the side. “Besides, shouldn’t it be the other way around?”

Kaito frowned, carefully taking a seat, albeit further away from the edge of the dock than normal. “What do you mean?”

“You’re human. I’m part fish.” That slimyscalyevil tail flicked out of the water. “Humans eat fish.”

Kaito cringed back. “No, idiots eat f-f-fish! I know that f-f-f-you are plotting to take over the world! With your scaly scales and slimy fins! I know the pets are just undercover agents and that the markets are used to lure us into a false sense of security while purging your numbers of the weak! I know everything!”

The monster stared. “Wow. Just… wow. Are you okay? Is this normal for humans?”

“Just know that I won’t fall for your tricks!” Kaito huffed as he got back to his feet and walked away. “I know your plans! I know!”

He did not run away that time. He merely walked at a faster pace than normal.

*             *             *             *             *

The next couple times that Kaito visited his spot, the monster was nowhere in sight. Kaito was able to bask in the late afternoon sun, listen to the waves and feel the wind against his face.

It was all to disguise an ambush.

“Hey!” a familiar, unwelcomed voice called from below.

“Ugh,” Kaito groaned. “What do you want?”

“Can you read this?” the creature held up a… piece of glass? Kaito cocked his head and squinted. It looked to be the bottom of a bottle of some sort with recycling instructions.

“It’s just telling the make, model, and how to dispose of it,” Kaito guessed.

The creature’s face lit up. It was almost… cu –No! The creature was not cute! Even if it’s upper half was human and had the bluest eyes Kaito had ever seen –it’s second half was an abomination!

“Wait here!” the monster ordered before his head ducked back underwater. Kaito stared after, curious despite himself. A few minutes passed before the monster resurfaced with a splash, something larger in his hands. “What about this?”

It was a boardwalk sign, one of those warnings they put up for slippery piers. When Kaito said as much, the creature looked ecstatic.

“Why are you so eager to know?” Kaito asked, but the creature ignored him.

“One more! One more!” the monster disappeared again, splashing with the enthusiasm of any two-year-old. Kaito sighed but resigned himself to ‘one more’ seemingly random object that the creature just had to ask about.

When the creature resurfaced a third time, Kaito was surprised to recognize the item in his hands. “Is that a book?”

“You know what it is?” the creature asked, eyes bright with curiosity. “I liked the picture on top, but I couldn’t understand anything inside it.”

“Yeah, I bet not,” Kaito said, leaning forward despite himself. “Let me see it.”

The creature held it up. Kaito leaned more, squinting down at the book. Normally, he’d be able to discern words even from a considerable distance, but the water damage made them nearly impossible to read.

“Just take it,” the creature ordered, shaking the book where he held it out of the water.

Kaito leaned backwards, face falling into a pale frown. “It’s too water damaged. I can’t read it.”

The creature frowned at him, but brought the book close again. “You’re lying.”

“Am not! It really is-!”

“You’re scared of me,” the creature cocked his head to the side. “Why? I’m part human.”

“But you’re also part f-f-fish,” Kaito said the accursed word like a hiss.

“But I’m also part human.”

“It’s the f-f-finny part that matters!”

The creature pouted at him. “But I also eat fish.”

“Cannabalism,” Kaito shrugged. “It’s not a novel concept.”

The creature looked horrified and, okay, maybe Kaito went a little too far with that.

“Sorry, just…” Kaito rubbed a hand at the back of his neck where the sun was starting to burn. “It’s something I can’t really get over. Nothing to do with you, just…”

“Just fish,” the creature furrowed his eyebrows. “Why didn’t you run when I first approached? I wasn’t exactly… subtle.”

“I wasn’t paying attention,” Kaito rested his chin on his knuckles. “I just looked down and saw a swimmer at the end of the dock. Half-f-f-marine life person was the farthest thing from my mind.”

“I think the politically correct term is ‘merman’,” the creature raised an eyebrow. “But my name is Shinichi.”

Strangely, having a name made the creature less… threatening. There was no way that Kaito would ever forget that the other had a slimy, scaly tail, but… talking didn’t seem so bad.

So long as this ‘Shinichi’ kept his distance.

“Mine’s Kaito,” he replied, leaning forward again. “But I’m sorry, the book really is water damaged. Water and paper don’t mix. I’m surprised it hasn’t disintegrated entirely.”

The cre –Shinichi looked so disheartened that Kaito felt an ache in his own chest. Sighing, Kaito stared at the cover, trying to remember where he’d seen it before. He thought it was something Hakuba had been reading, but…

“Tell you what,” Kaito said, slapping his thighs with his sudden decision. “A friend of mine has an undamaged copy of the book. I’ll ask him to borrow it and bring it by.”

Shinichi perked up, wonder in his eyes again. “Will you read it for me too?”

Kaito balked. That would mean spending the day with a f-fi-fi-! (Kaito swallowed) merman only a few feet away from him. That was not any kind of situation Kaito wanted to put himself into, and yet…

Shinichi stared up at him, blue eyes glistening with hope and innocence and all the pure things in the world.

No matter how much Kaito told himself this was a trap –don’t be an idiot, they’re after you-! –he found himself falling for those baby blues and reluctantly nodding his head.

Shinichi’s cheer was almost worth it.

*             *             *             *             *

“Hakuba, I need to borrow this book.”

“…Why? Last time I checked, you loathed anything and everything related to Sherlock Holmes. What could you possibly want this book for?”

“What? I can’t fulfill my suddenly acquired appreciation for distinguished British detectives from a previous century?”

“No.”

“Ah, you caught me. I’m actually taking it to the docks where I’m going to spend my afternoon reading aloud to a mythical creature and hope no one thinks I’m crazy.”

“Ah, now that sounds more likely. I want it back by ten. I’m just getting to the good part.”

*             *             *             *             *

So Kaito’s peaceful afternoons continued with a little more company than he was used to and a little more Holmes than he would have ever liked. Shinichi loved the story about the intelligent detective and his caring cohort and begged Kaito every time they finished to return with another book. Kaito, unable to say no to those pleading blue eyes (he was trapped, hook, line sinker, no escape-!), always said yes.

Hakuba had yet to question Kaito about the sudden interest in Holmes. Kaito actually feared that the Brit believed him, which said a bit for the other’s sanity. After all, Kaito never showed up with any evidence or proof and Hakuba never went looking.

(Some things, Hakuba decided, are better left unquestioned.)

And with all this time spent together, well… Kaito had to admit that Shinichi was starting to grow on him.

The merman was funny in a sassy, sarcastic kind of way. He was mellow when Kaito just wanted to relax, but turned intensely eager when the Holmes book of the week was brought out. Sometimes, he left little shells on the dock for Kaito, one of the few things from beneath the waves that Kaito didn’t mind. If that wasn’t cute, Kaito didn’t know what was.

He was completely lost on the man. If only it weren’t for the tail.

It was on another of these peaceful days that Shinichi did the unthinkable (for him) and interrupted Kaito’s dictation. “Are we friends?”

Kaito paused in his reading. “What?”

“Are we friends?” Shinichi repeated. “We spend a lot of time together and I don’t dislike it, but I can never tell with other people.”

“Other mer-people,” Kaito corrected.

“Men, mermen, same thing,” Shinichi shrugged.

Not the same thing!” Kaito said as he sharply snapped the book, A Study in Scarlet, shut. “Big difference! Huge!”

“Is it… really that big?” Shinichi asked, brow furrowing in thought.

“Uh, yes?” Kaito gestured wildly. “You’re part f-f-fish! You live in the water! You have gills! You’re part f-f-fish! You have a tail! You probably have some weird hypnotic powers! You’re part f-f-fish!

Shinichi scowled at him. “I can see where you’re getting hung up.”

“It’s not just me!” Kaito set the book to the side. “Anyone who happened upon you would freak out. Sure, they’d likely try to capture you and sell you off to the circus or something, but still! You aren’t normal!”

“I’m normal for a merman,” Shinichi said, looking put out.

“Not my point,” Kaito scowled. “My point is, humans and mermen… we are different. You belong to the sea and I… I belong on land, where I can walk without getting bowled over by waves and where slimy things don’t swim between my legs.”

Shinichi grew quiet, eyes thoughtful as he stared into the gently lapping waves. Suddenly, he nodded to himself, as if coming to a decision. Looking back up, Shinichi asked. “Kaito? Can you bring some clothes with you tomorrow? Whatever it is that humans dress in to be ‘normal’.”

Kaito blinked. “If you think dressing as a human with a tail is going to make you fit in…”

Shinichi rolled his eyes and flipped backwards into the waves.

Kaito instinctively closed his eyes to spare himself a glance at those gleaming evil scales.

*             *             *             *             *

When Kaito arrived the next day, Shinichi wasn’t there. Or, no, that wasn’t right. Shinichi was there, just… beneath the surface of the water. Only his glowing blue eyes could be seen.

“Okay, so…” Kaito nervously shuffled the bundle of cloth in his hands. “I brought clothes, like you asked. Any particular reason for them? Are you planning to splash me again?”

Below the water, Shinichi shook his head and made a motion for Kaito to step back. Baffled, Kaito did so. He watched as Shinichi’s watery figure backtracked several yards… only to turn around and swim headlong at the dock. Little ‘V’s rippled after him.

With one hard slap of his tail, Shinichi arced out of the water to land hard on the dock.

Kaito’s throat closed up and his blood pounded in his ears as those scales he hadn’t seen in months reappeared. He scrambled backwards, hands clutching at his spare clothes and feet turning to flee when Shinichi started to seize.

He shook as if having a seizure; those death throws that caught fish always did, mouth gaping for air and silently screaming in pain. It was the worst thing to watch because Kaito couldn’t get over his stupid fear and do anything about it!

Then Kaito’s breath caught.

Those scales… those scales that decorated Shinichi’s lower half like some bedazzled fabric; those horrible, evil scales were sliding off.

Shinichi writhed, clawing at the dock as the scales trickled off like water until, with a sudden gasp, he went limp.

Kaito stood frozen in place.

Seconds ticked by.

“Shin…” Kaito swallowed and tried again. “Shinichi?”

“It’s cold,” Shinichi said from where he lay face-down on the dock. “I didn’t expect that.”

Kaito stared and then cracked up laughing. “You… you-!”

“Help. Please?” Shinichi asked as he pushed himself up with his hands only. His left foot twitched. “I don’t think I can stand.”

“Coming, coming,” Kaito said, careful to keep his eyes away from the pile of scales. They weren’t attached to anything f-f-finny anymore, but he still wanted to avoid looking at them if at all possible. “If you had warned me, I could have brought a towel or something!”

“I’ll dry,” Shinichi said flippantly as Kaito dragged him from the pile of scales and shoved the clothes into his hands. Shinichi donned the shirt with ease, but the pants left him mystified. “Um…?”

Kaito rolled his eyes and knelt to help Shinichi slip his uncooperative feet inside and down the pant legs.

“This is so weird,” Shinichi said as he wiggled his toes. Kaito rested his chin on his knee, watching the ex-merman gain motor control over his new limbs.

“Why’d you do it?” Kaito asked suddenly. Shinichi looked up from where he’d been poking at his ankles. “You had the entire sea at your fingertips. You could have been halfway around the world before I woke up this morning. You could have been with your family-!”

“But I couldn’t be with you,” Shinichi said, deep blue eyes staring at Kaito with that same mystical quality they’d always had. Shinichi frowned and twitched his knees into some kind of copy of Kaito’s position. “You were scared of me –half of me, but the half that mattered. But I… I didn’t want you to be scared. If it meant making a deal with a sea witch, then so be it. Besides, I can always come back and visit my family later.”

“But what about –wait,” Kaito blinked. “Sea witch? Like in the Little Mermaid?”

“I guess?” Shinichi cocked his head to the side.

“Then you had to give up something! But you can still talk!” Kaito paled. “What did you trade?”

“My luck,” Shinichi snorted. “Joke’s on her. There’s no such thing as luck.”

“... You are a merman that made a deal with a sea witch for legs,” Kaito rubbed a hand down his face, “and you don’t believe in luck.”

“Yes,” Shinichi deadpanned.

Kaito stared.

Shinichi stared back.

Kaito threw his hands up. “I give up! Nothing in my life makes sense anymore!”

Shinichi frowned. “Just now? I would have thought that started back when you first began speaking with me.”

Kaito scowled and jabbed a finger at Shinichi’s chest. “Don’t go trying to push your luck, pretty boy.”

“You…” Shinichi blinked, taken aback. “You think I’m pretty?”

Kaito worked his mouth for several moments, a bright blush painting his cheeks. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud. He really hadn’t meant to say that out loud!

Before Kaito could dig himself even further into the hole, a scream sounded like a siren over the beach. Both men looked over to see a woman collapsed over an unmoving body part way down the sand.

“What’s that?” Shinichi asked, curious.

“Most likely? An accident of some sort,” Kaito replied. “Drowning, jelly fish sting…”

“…Murder,” Shinichi’s eyes widened with excitement. “Kaito, this could be just like Holmes! This could be a murder mystery! Where’s the detective on the case?”

Kaito gaped for several minutes before he realized: No, Shinichi was not joking. “Shinichi, detectives don’t just happen upon crime scenes like Holmes. That’s fiction, not-!”

“That won’t do,” Shinichi said as he pushed himself shakily to his feet. He made it half-way up before he tumbled, Kaito just barely catching him before he pitched off the side of the dock. “We need to find the culprit!”

We?” Kaito squawked.

“I’ve always wanted to be a detective,” Shinichi noted as he stumbled his way down the dock, Kaito close behind.

What did Kaito ever do to deserve this?

(It was a murder… as was the one in the café they ate at and the one on the subway train on their way one. Kaito is sure that some sea witch, somewhere, is laughing at Kaito’s expense and Shinichi’s terrible luck.)

Chapter Text

That thief wasn’t escaping Killua again! Last time was a fluke. The thief known as Kaitou KID had played fast and loose with his target –a first if that cop was to be believed. Some research had shown the thief was consistent if nothing else.

If there was one thing a thief shouldn’t be, it was consistent.

Killua had it planned out. He and Gon were the first line of defense. With Gon’s senses and Killua’s reflexes, there’s no way the thief would get through.

On the very slim chance he did, there was Bisky. No one messed with Bisky.

“Okay, Gon,” Killua said as they cased the room. The officers had been forced to wait outside to prevent injury to bystanders, much to their grumbling. “Just tell me where he is and I’ll get him.”

Gon frowned. “I know he ate your cake, Killua, but don’t kill him for that! Besides, we got a second for you, didn’t we?”

“Of course, I won’t kill him!” Killua scowled, crossing his arms. “I don’t do that anymore!”

But breaking bones? Maiming? Those were almost expected in a confrontation, right?

“Like I said, I’ll get him, so you just tell me when he gets here.” Killua dropped his hands to his pockets, fingering his lead-weighted yo-yos.

“Ah!” Gon pouted at the ceiling. “Too late.”

Before Killua could question him, the room began to fill with smoke. “Gon!”

“Ew!” Gon whined, covering his nose. “Ew, ew, ew, ew!

“What is it?!”

“Smells bad!” Gon said, sounding nasally as he plugged his nostrils. “Ugh, I can taste it!”

“Then stop talking and just point to where he is!” Killua ordered, eyes trying to track through the smoke. He enacted Gyo to try and find the other’s Nen, but he didn’t see anything that stood out from the norm. Through the walls, he saw the officers’ Auras, but not KID’s.

“Don’t you think I’ve thought of that?” a voice echoed through the entire room. How did he do that?!

“Killua, I hear whining,” Gon said, rubbing at his ears.

Killua cursed.

The ‘whining’ Gon spoke of, they determined, was the feedback of this world’s microphones. Phones, speakers, camcorders –they all seemed to have minute amounts of feedback that only Gon could hear.

A room full of it meant one thing: the thief knew and had prepared a defense against it.

Killua felt a whoosh of something vaguely human-like off to his right as cackles filled the room. With lightning fast reflexes, he struck, only to end up claws deep in rubber. The balloon exploded with a burst of confetti and more smoke.

“Killua, left!” Gon shouted, but the three seconds it took for Killua to process the shout was too long. The thief had slipped between them. He swept Bisky up into his arms and disappeared up the stairs.

Killua growled, not liking being upstaged by a common thief. His Nen sparked around him, his hair filling with static charge.

“Killua, no!” Gon said, throwing himself at the other.

Killua stopped immediately, if only to keep the idiot from electrocuting himself. “Cut it out! We need to go after him!”

“We will!” Gon said, with a stubborn frown. “But we can’t use Nen against him!”

“And why not?!”

“Because he can’t use it! It wouldn’t be fair!”

“Bull shit!” He hadn’t been able to sense the other at all. No way the thief could do that without Zetsu!

“It’s true!” Gon insisted. “When he ran past to Bisky, I saw. He doesn’t have a Nen barrier up. If we were to attack him…”

Killua knew exactly what would happen. He remembered those at the Heaven’s Arena and even more afterwards. He knew the consequences –that didn’t mean he liked to go without.

He growled out a sullen ‘fine’ and headed to the stairs. He was more than ready without his Nen anyway.

*          *          *          *          *

Bisky was only holding on because she had been surprised, okay?! It’s not because she wanted to be held by the mysterious thief or anything! He was probably some ugly, smelly old man-!

Oh no.

He’s hot!

The thief, Kaitou KID, placed her on her feet once they’d retreated to the rooftop. Bisky tensed, knowing the fight that was about to come next, but she was surprised.

Instead of raising a hand against her, he knelt down to place a gentle kiss on her gloved knuckles.

“Please pardon my rough handling, mademoiselle,” KID said with a gentlemanly voice. Flowers seemed to grow around him in her vision, framing his figure. “But I could not view your perfection beneath such abysmal lighting.”

This guy needed to stop or Bisky would swoon.

“And such perfect beauty it is.” A gloved hand drew a blonde lock behind her ear and –yep, there went her knees. KID caught her like the gentleman he was. “Fear not, fair maiden. I wish you no harm. All I ask” –he held out a hand— “is to see your precious gem under the light of the moon.”

Part of her immediately wanted to hand over the gem held tightly in her fist. The other burned at the thought of losing Blue Planet-chan. But the thief was so hot! But her precious Blue-chan! Oh~!

She was saved from answering by the doors swinging open with a bang.

“Let Bisky go, thief!” Gon shouted. Bisky felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Once she gives me the Blue Planet, I will allow her free,” KID replied, not the slightest bit put out by having three-on-one. At least, not until Killua’s hands curved into claws. “Oh shit! What happened to your hands?!”

“Not so tough now, are you?” Killua’s grin was as cold and precise as his claws. Before he could take a step closer, a card embedded itself into the ground at his feet. “Did you just shoot at me with a playing card?!”

“Do. Not. Move,” KID ordered coldly.

“Or what? You’ll give me papercuts until I bleed out?” Killua flexed his fingers, eyes dark. “I’d like to see you try.”

Bisky saw KID’s grip tighten, but no other reaction to the taunt –at least, physically. His Aura roiled around him uncertainly.

“Don’t hurt him too much, Killua,” Gon said offhandedly as he stretched out his shoulders.

The thief’s trigger finger twitched, sending two cars out, both just barely missing Gon and Killua. It was just a warning, but to the two seasoned fighters, it was a challenge.

The two leapt forward in attack. Bisky pushed herself in front of the gentleman thief “Guys wait!”

A second body flew through the roof access door.

*           *           *           *           *

Killua acted on instinct, grabbing the smaller body and pinning it to his side, claws at the jugular. The person gasped and went stock-still at the feeling of something sharp against his skin.

“Killua!” Gon shouted, eyes going wide.

“Tantei-kun!” KID exclaimed, that perfect Poker Face breaking. His Aura flared around him. Both hands held the gun now, forming a stronger triangle stance. His voice was deadly as he growled. “Let. Him. Go.”

Killua felt a shudder roll up his spine, but refused to acknowledge it. Like some petty thief could scare him. The thief’s change in demeanor told Killua all he needed to know: the person in his grip was important to the thief.

“What if I don’t?” Killua threatened. “You’ve targeted us twice now. I feel an example should be made.”

The body clamped to him trembled.

“What would you like? An ear? A nose?” Killua ducked his head the tiniest bit, letting the shadows gather around his eyes. “How about an eye?”

“Killua…” Gon called, sounding disappointed –and what? Why? Killua was just doing what they’d always-!

“K-KID?” the body he’d trapped spoke, young voice (too young) shaking. “What… what’s going on?”

It was only then that Killua looked down to see a child trapped under his claws. Not a ‘child’ like he and Gon had been when they first took the Hunter’s exam. Not a ‘child’ like Zushi had been when they first met. Not even a ‘child’ like Alluka had been, locked away in her room.

No, this was a child, six years old and tiny. What parent in their right mind would allow a child this young to attend a commercialized heist? (His own parents would, but then again, Killua knew that his family wasn’t normal.)

The shock was enough to break Killua from his bloodlust, but not enough for him to take his words back. He had started this, he would finish it. His grip tightened.

“If you want this kid to remain unharmed, you will lower your gun,” Killua ordered.

“Killua…” Gon made a noise of disappointment, but Killua ignored him. Bisky didn’t look too happy with him either, but he would deal with the backlash after he made sure the thief would keep away from them.

KID held his gaze for another second or two before his hands went up in surrender. The gun twirled in his hand so that he gripped the barrel instead of the handle, then it disappeared.

Killua narrowed his eyes. “Now. Promise to never go after Bisky’s gem again and I’ll let the kid go.”

KID’s lips thinned. He didn’t immediately move to agree. Instead, his aura looked like it was warring with itself.

Was he really weighing a gem against this child’s life? Perhaps Killua should break a few of his bones anyway. The thief shouldn’t need to dither with an innocent’s life on the line. The tense silence was broken from an unlikely source.

“You guys are new to the area, aren’t you?” the kid asked, voice barely a quiver with fear. He didn’t wait for an answer as all eyes turned on him. “KID has a reputation for two rules: no one gets hurt and no jewel remains in his hands long. The first is self-explanatory. The second: he returns everything he steals to its rightful owner.”

“So Bisky will get it back?” Gon frowned. “Then why does he steal?”

“In his previous return notices, he has said that the gems are not ones he’s looking for,” the kid answered calmly. He even seemed to be relaxing in Killua’s hold, like the words and explanations held a serene place for him. It was bizarre.

“Then what gem is he looking for?” Bisky asked, cupping her hands to her chest.

The kid had no answer, but he must have been looking at the thief because Gon and Bisky turned his way. KID’s smile was fragile at best. He ducked his head down to hide beneath the wide brim of his hat.

“I’m sorry, Tantei-kun, but a magician never reveals his secrets.”

Killua hated magicians. He hated Hisoka and he hated KID. Why couldn’t all magicians just… disappear? Hypnotists like his brother should also disappear. The world was better off without them.

The kid scoffed, then sighed. “But it is likely a good assumption that the gem that… Bisky, was it? That Bisky-nee-chan has, is not the one you are looking for?”

KID’s smile dropped.

“The other gems you have targeted have all been of a specific size or greater and have been cut before the previous decade,” the kid stated as if knowing these facts were obvious. “Bisky-nee-chan’s gem, while large, is not of the same category as the other gems you have targeted, nor has it ever been cut.”

What was with this kid? He hardly sounded like a six-year-old! Not one Killua had ever known anyway.

“Going by these facts, one can deduce that this gem is outside your target zone and, most likely, not the gem you are seeking.”

The thief was quiet for a moment before answering carefully. “Given those facts, it is most likely that the gem is not the one I am looking for.”

“Then why did you target it?” that sounded like an accusation. The kid was trapped in Killua’s arms with blade-sharp nails at his throat and he was accusing the thief of being inconsistent.

This kid was something else.

“I targeted it because it was unique,” KID said, a grimace on his face. “It showed up suddenly one day, with no history or origins to speak of –almost like…”

Magic was left unsaid, but it made Killua scoff.

“I see… and any possibility, no matter how small is worth a shot?” In response, KID just smiled. “Bisky-nee-chan, KID will give you back your gem if you let him check.”

Killua wanted to demand what made the kid so sure, but Bisky was already handing over Blue Planet. KID gave Killua and the child a cautious look before taking the gem and holding it up to the moonlight.

Back was turned, attention adequately held, ample time to-!

“Ah!” KID sighed with a disappointed air. “While your gem is very beautiful Ojou-sama, it is not the one I seek. With that, I shall return it to your capable hands.”

And he did so… followed by tucking a pink rose behind her ear. Killua rolled his eyes at the hearts in her gaze.

“Freaking playboy,” he heard the boy grumble as tiny hands tugged on his forearm. “Mind letting me go now?”

“Ah, yeah.” The kid wasn’t any threat to him, so Killua dropped him onto his feet. The kid fixed his bowtie and –is that what that was? It had felt firmer against Killua’s skin, like metal or something.

Then the boy raised his watch and fired a near invisible needle.

Killua had barely registered the sight of the needle before he was in front of Gon, shielding the other from the stinging, painful, controlling-!

The needle was not aimed at them.

KID danced out of the way with a laugh, hand gripping his top hat tightly to keep it from falling off. His aura still sparked sporadically and Killua noticed that the thief moved away from them rather than towards. He had to admit, from one criminal to another, KID’s Poker Face was very good.

KID tutted and shook a finger at the boy. “Now, now, Tantei-kun. You should know better than to try to capture me by now!”

“If I didn’t try, I wouldn’t be KID Killer, now would I?” ‘Tantei-kun’ said. Killua frowned. Didn’t ‘tantei’ mean ‘detective’? But what was this about ‘KID Killer’? Was this child like Killua? Had he…?

“A kid to catch the KID, neh?” the thief laughed again and suddenly his cape was a hang glider –seriously, where did he keep that thing?! “Sorry, but you’ll just have to settle for watching me fly off into the night, Tantei-kun.”

“Uh-huh, settle.” The boy dropped to his knees. Killua felt Gon tense beside him as some ratcheting click-click-clicks filled the air along with a ‘whining’ even Killua could hear. “We’ll see about that.”

“N-now Tantei-kun, that’s not nice!” the thief waved his hands and –was this guy really a thief? Killua was starting to doubt his professionalism. “I just saved you, you know!”

“Technically, I saved me… and you. Who was is that found himself in a three-on-one?” The boy stood and fingered his belt.

“Three? Where’s the third?”

“Ten seconds.”

“What?”

“I’ll give you a ten second head start.” The boy’s voice turned mischievous. “Better make it count!”

KID gaped at the boy for several moments before he realized the child was not joking. In the next second, he threw himself off the building and in the following few, a ball of light shot through the air. Killua could barely make out the pattern of a soccer ball at the middle of the sphere of energy, then it and the thief were gone.

“Damn it,” the kid cursed lowly under his breath, unnoticeable to normal ears. “Off by ten centimeters.”

Killua stared at the boy. Just who was this kid?

As if feeling eyes on him, the boy straightened up and looked over. His aura spike nervously, but his face was wide open and innocent. “KID is gone now, so he won’t have to worry about him targeting your gem again, Bisky-nee-chan. Nakamori-keibu should be along any min-!”

The sound of thundering feet echoed up the stairs until the entire ‘Taskforce’ Killua, Gon, and Bisky had met twice now filled the roof-top.

“Where’s KID?” the head inspector demanded, but not to Killua or Gon or Bisky. No, his question was aimed at the small child that had driven the thief off.

“He got away,” Tantei-kun said, voice light and childish like Killua had never heard in their entire interaction. “But don’t worry. Bisky-nee-chan’s gem is safe. KID didn’t make off with it.”

“Well, small victories,” the inspector sighed. “At least it’ll be a blow to his ego when the news makes the report. Nakama! Torizu! Statements!”

“Yes, sir!” two officers separated from the pack to approach Bisky, Killua and Gon. Killua kept an eye on the boy, wanting to ask a few questions of his own before they left. The needle was one thing, but that ball… that had been the closest thing to Nen that Killua had seen in this world since they arrived. He wanted to know how a child so young had become so powerful.

With Nen like that, the kid would be a prodigy back home.

Yet sometime during his statement, the boy slipped away and by the time the officers had finished their questions, he was gone.

Detective and Thief, this world was interesting…

Chapter Text

Conan blinked as he brought his body back online. It had been several months since his run-in with the Black Organization (the first of many) and he’d only recently gotten his body back. He had received his larger body only after he’d taken care of the organization and made sure to ruin them as completely as possible.

He was only a little peeved that he couldn’t give them a more permanent end, but humans didn’t deal criminals the same way anti-virus software did. Instead, he’d had to let Jodie take care of matters, which she was all too happy to do.

But now, he was enjoying his life, new Androidal frame replica and all.

In fact, he already had a new job, one that had taken him online for approximately seven hours as he dug through archive after archive and followed lead after lead to track down his target. Detective work was much easier when he could contemplate evidence and reject leads faster than the speed of sound. He’s sure that, had Holmes had the brainpower Shinichi had, he would never have run into a single problem in his entire life.

Oh well, no use thinking about that.

Shinichi stood up and stretched his limbs, checking that they were all in proper working order before wandering over to the kitchen.

Now that he had the information he had set out to find, he should probably get his phone from the charger unit and give his client a call-!

Shinichi never got the chance.

Instead, he got distracted by a box –a box full of papers.

Normally, this wouldn’t stop Shinichi. Normally, he’d walk by without a second glance –sometimes not even a first! –and continue on his way. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem.

But today, something stopped him.

It stopped him dead in his tracks and whispered in his ear that those poor papers were so lonely and unloved. They were covered from the world, unable to be seen. All the hard work of printing diagrams and words on them… they deserved to be seen!

Shinichi would fix this!

So, making an abrupt left turn, he grabbed a handful of papers… and stopped. They needed to be put on display… but where?

His eyes sparked on the refrigerator.

That’s it!

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito hummed to himself as he skipped down the stairs. He was sure that Shinichi would be done surfing the web soon and Kaito really wanted to show him his new magic trick, so he was planning to just look in and…

He found Shinichi in the kitchen, slowly emptying a box of Haibara’s various thesis and patents onto the refrigerator. Kaito watched Shinichi go through the motions of picking up a paper, sticking on the fridge with a magnet, then turning to pull up another page from the stack. Kaito watched this several times before asking, “Shinichi? What are you doing?”

Shinichi looked over at him, but his hands kept up their pattern. Haibara would call the action creepy. “I’m putting these papers on the frig.”

“Okay…” Kaito frowned and watched Shinichi do several more rounds. “But why?”

“Because they need to be displayed!” Shinichi told him, looking a little feverish around the eyes. “They can’t be seen in the box! They need to be shown to the world!”

Kaito blinked and thought about it… and thought about it… and thought about it…

Kaito gasped.

“You’re right!” he exclaimed and dove into the pile with Shinichi.

The other VAI sped up, energized by his partner helping in his quest of getting all the papers displayed. With two sets of hands, this would finish up in no time!

*             *             *             *             *

Haibara decided it was time for a break when she picked up her coffee mug for the third time, only to be met with empty air… for the third time.

Not a long break, though. Just a small one. Just enough for more coffee, then she would head back down to the lab to work on her latest Nobel Prize worthy proj-!

Shinichi and Kaito were pinning her work onto the back of the door.

“What are you doing?” Haibara demanded, eyes wide. She should probably be mad. She most definitely should! But she just… couldn’t understand what she was seeing.

“The papers, Haibara!” Kaito exclaimed as he handed Shinichi another page. The other VAI was behind the door where the space had significantly decreased after Haibara had come through. “They were in the box!”

“Yes?” she frowned and looked behind the door to Shinichi. “I was going to mail them out.”

“But they can’t be seen in a box!” Shinichi argued as he taped another diagram to the back of the door.

“They need to be displayed to the world!” Kaito agreed enthusiastically.

Eyes narrowing in suspicion, Haibara looked between the two before asking, “Which one of you started this?”

Kaito pointed to Shinichi.

Shinichi held out a hand for more paper.

Kaito handed it over.

“Ah, right.” Haibara set her mug of coffee on the counter, then grabbed Shinichi’s hand and forced him away from the door.

“Wha-? Haibara, no!” Shinichi flailed. “I need to put the papers on the door!”

“I’m sure Kaito-kun will be more than happy to help while I run you through the virus scanner,” Haibara said, bodily pushing him out of the kitchen.

“Kaito?” Shinichi looked back, worried, but it was for not. Kaito gave him a big thumbs up, making Shinichi sigh in relief.

Haibara scowled. This break was going to be longer than she had anticipated.

*             *             *             *             *

Shinichi hid his face in embarrassment as Haibara stared at him. She crossed her arms.

“Do you realize now,” she asked, “why I tell you to use the anti-virus programming? Even if it slows you down?”

“Yes,” Shinichi sighed and dropped his hands into his lap.

“Will you ever run around without it again?” She raised an eyebrow.

Shinichi looked up to the stairs.

Shinichi,” she growled.

“Normally, it’s fine!” he protested weakly. “I can feel their attacks and either evade or counter! It’s what I usually do! It’s just… this time…”

“It felt like you, so you didn’t put your guard up.” Haibara sighed and showed him her computer screen. “It was a Snoop. Not you, not your code, but similar in primary directive, so you got confused and integrated it to your matrix. It then prodded you to share information once it got to your home computer –not realizing that your ‘home computer’ was your Androidal frame.”

Shinichi grimaced. “I’m really sorry about that, by the way.”

She shrugged. “It’s fine… so long as you put all the papers back in the right order so I can ship them out.”

“I will.” Shinichi moved to stand, but cowered at her look. “Right now. I will right now.”

“Good,” she said as she followed him up…

Into utter chaos.

Kaito stood in the middle of the Professor’s house, bewildered. Every flat surface –horizontal, vertical, or otherwise –in the house was covered. Every table, desk, counter, couch, window, and shelf was neatly littered with papers. Every possible space was lined with individual pages. Nothing remained uncovered.

Except Kaito himself.

Kaito, who stood in the middle of a feat of organization disaster that rivalled some wars.

When he finally noticed Shinichi and Haibara, he gave them a very sad look and held up a single piece of paper.

“I ran out of room,” he said.

Haibara’s jaw dropped. Shinichi opened and closed his mouth like he wanted to say something, but couldn’t think of what.

Suddenly, Kaito’s sad look disappeared and he beamed. With two quick steps, he stopped in front of Shinichi and stuck the last page to the VAI’s chest with tape.

“Done!” Kaito chirped happily, throwing his hands up in joy.

“… You’re cleaning this up,” Haibara stated before turning down to disappear into her lab.

Shinichi sighed and buried his face in his hands. After a few minutes of dealing with the fact of what Kaito had done, Shinichi straightened up and looked at the other VAI. “We have to clean up.”

Whaaaat?” Kaito whined. He looked around at his hard work. “But, Shinichi-!”

“Kaito. No.”

“The papers need to be displayed!”

“Kaito… No.”

“Shinichi~!”

“… You’re right, they need to be displayed.”

“See? SEE?

“But, what use is it to display them if they aren’t in the right order?”

“…”

“Wouldn’t they be much better if displayed in order?”

“… Yes.”

“And you know, the sorting algorithms would put them in the right order… but running around the whole room would take too much time.”

“You’re right… it would be more efficient to do it all in one place.”

“Right. So you go and collect all the papers and I’ll get them in the right order, okay?”

“Okay!”

“… *sigh* Haibara better thank me for this.”

Chapter Text

“Nice to see you again, Kudou-san,” Hakuba greeted.

“You as well,” Shinichi replied. “I expect things have been going well for you?”

“Swimmingly, just as planned.” Hakuba took a delicate sip of tea and savored the display of lights that occurred from his programs. “I could also say the same for you. I heard about Eldin Co. Brilliant work, by the way.”

“It wasn’t just me.” Shinichi played his fingers around the lip of his coffee cup. “Kaito was a big help.”

“You mean KID.” Hakuba’s face screwed up in an impressive display of disgust. “I know that you are a good person, Kudou, and that you mean well, but to pick up that charity case-?”

“Hey! I’m right here!” Kaito yelled from where he and Hattori were huddled over a new contraption Haibara had made. “Haku-bastard!”

“He knows that.” Hattori glared at the blonde. “He just doesn’t care. He thinks that being a full five years old gives him authority.”

“He’s a prickly old geezer.”

“I’ll say.”

“I am not old nor prickly!” Hakuba argued. “I was merely stating that turning a VAI into a functioning member of society is nigh impossible!”

“Excuse you?!” Hattori scowled at him, straightening up to make himself look taller and more threatening. “What does being a Viral-AI have anything to do with functioning in society?! I’ve seen plenty of AIs unable to-!”

“Hattori, please. It’s a simple fact.” Hakuba waved away the other’s anger like it was a particularly annoying fly. “Viruses were created to wreak havoc, infect computers, and steal personal information from humans. Starting with a base like that, it becomes obvious that VAIs, unlike AIs will always be unstable. It’s simple fact, right Kudou?”

Shinichi looked at Hakuba, then to Hattori and Kaito and back. He took a sip of his coffee. Hattori crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall, face smug. Hakuba’s eyes widened in shock.

“You can’t seriously-?!” Hakuba leaned in, searching the other’s expression. “You agree with him?”

“Well…” Shinichi ran a tongue over his lips to grab the last drops of coffee form his skin. “It’s more like, if I were to agree with you, I would be a hypocrite.”

“Hypocr-?” Hakuba’s eyes widened further and his mouth dropped open in shock. “You’re a… a-?!”

“VAI?” Shinichi shrugged. “Afraid so.”

“But you’re so… sophisticated!” Hakuba argued. “You’re stable! You know manners and that you can’t just binge on chocolate cake!”

“Hey!” Kaito yelled, affronted.

“You think about situations instead of jumping in like some hot-headed Horde.”

“Hey!” Hattori yelled, also affronted.

“Like you said, it depends on bases.” Shinichi set his mug down and crossed his legs. “I was, and still am, a Snoop. I liked to read and learn. When I was able to keep hold of the information I found, the next logical step was to apply it.”

“So that’s why you act like Holmes so much!” Hattori exclaimed. Shinichi scowled at him.

“I thought copying people was my thing,” Kaito grumbled.

Shinichi let out a fond sigh and looked over to the shell-shocked Hakuba. “Are you okay?”

“I will be. Just…” Hakuba put a hand to his head, making sure his processors weren’t overheating. “I need time to rework my matrix.”

“Take your time. We’ll be right here,” Shinichi said, giving Hakuba a comforting pat on the shoulder. “And when you’re back, maybe you’ll want to discuss why you watch Hattori so much.”

Hakuba very much did not want to.

“Fair warning, though. Antagonizing him is not going to make him pay attention to you. At least, not in the way that you desire.”

Very much. Did. Not. Want.

Chapter Text

“Smile, Tantei-kun!” KID flashed him a cheesy grin and pointed at the camcorder in his hands.

Conan scowled at him instead, pulling at the hem of his shirt. He isn’t sure how he ended up here, in this situation with an international Phantom Thief.

No, that wasn’t true.

He remembered exactly how it started. It started with a small key, an empty book and a talking stuffed animal. It continued with obstacles and situations the kind of which left Conan unable to ignore the existence of magic. When his best friend in Osaka turned out to be another ‘Guardian of Clow’, his fate was sealed.

This development with KID was… relatively new.

A card had decided to interrupt a heist –a quiet one without news crews –and KID had seen the entire thing. Afterwards, Conan realized he’d filmed the thing as well.

It was embarrassing.

Not as embarrassing as what KID made him wear though.

“This is stupid,” Conan grumbled, tugging at the male-sailor uniform. It fit amazingly well, considering KID had never taken Conan’s measurements (that he knew of). “You realize no one’s going to see this, right? You better not be posting this anywhere online, you hear?!”

“It is not stupid!” KID huffed, readjusting his lens. “And I won’t. You know me better than that! You’re just too adorable to miss a moment of!”

Before Conan could argue that he was not adorable, Kero-chan went stiff. “It’s here!”

Turning quickly, Conan searched the sky, but that wasn’t where Kero was looking.

“Watch out!” Conan found himself against KID’s chest as they tumbled across the roof. A dark shadow slithered backwards from where Conan had been standing. “Are you all right?”

“Fine,” Conan answered, pushing himself to his feet. More than fine, now that he knew what he was dealing with. He should have known. Wherever Light went, Shadow was sure to follow. “By the covenant, I, Shinichi, command you! Release! Light!”

A burst of light flooded the area, dispelling all shadows but one. It surged toward KID. Conan gritted his teeth and held out his wand. “Return to the form you were meant to be! Clow Card!

More light, then darkness as a card dropped to the ground. Conan let out a sigh of relief and retrieved it.

“Excellent as always, Tantei-kun!” KID applauded, camcorder nowhere to be seen. He ducked as a soccer ball sailed past him. “Hmm… maybe I should take your weapons next time. “

“You think?” Conan readied his watched, but found the needle had already been deployed. When did…?

“Ah, as lovely as this night has been, I really must be going.” KID waved.

Then he was gone as quick as Conan’s Invisible Card. In his place was Conan’s clothes. “At least he didn’t make me wear these home.”

Chapter Text

This heist was strange. The guards all appeared to be frozen in place, expression blank. No matter how much Conan pushed against them, not a one budged. Nakamori himself was frozen mid-yell, sound long faded from the air. The sight sent a chill down Conan’s spine.

Something was very wrong.

Just as he was thinking he was trapped in a nightmare forever, Conan heard footsteps. Whirling around, he came face to face with… “KID?”

The thief seemed just as surprised. “Tantei-kun? What are you doing here? And why aren’t you…?”

“I could ask you the same,” Conan snapped, though his voice quaked as he looked over at the … statues again. “What’s going on? Why is everyone…?”

KID looked sad. “I’m sorry, Tantei-kun.”

“KID? What-?”

Key that hides the forces of darkness, show me your true form.”

Conan stared in horror as a key no longer than his pinky finger suddenly transformed into a long, pure white staff.

“K-KID?”

By the covenant, I, Kaito, command you. Release, Sleep.”

The world turned black.

*             *             *             *             *

KID caught the sleeping detective and laid him down gently. “He has power?”

Hakuba materialized from a wall, wings wrapped tightly around him before flaring in a stretch. He crossed his arms. “It appears so. I did not sense it, it is so faint, but it is there. Likely just remnants of a wizard in his bloodline.”

Hakuba watched as KID picked the small boy up in his arms and continue through the museum grounds, searching for the card causing the disturbance.

“Had you not found Clow’s book…” Golden eyes flicked to him. “I believe he would be next in line to be the heir of Clow Cards.”

Kaito frowned and looked down at the boy in his arms. A boy as young as Tantei-kun with the burden KID felt? Not if Kaito had anything to say about it.

They found the card quickly after that. Time had taken up residence nearby in the clock tower that KID had once stolen. It took very little to return it to its card form, then set the world to rights.

As KID’s staff turned into a tiny key once more, he looked over at the little detective, propped up against the wall, blissfully unaware of the world.

“Don’t worry, Tantei-kun.” KID ruffled the boy’s hair. “This won’t change anything.”

Conan woke up to Ran shaking his shoulder, asking him why he left the heist early and how he got home on his own. The only thing he could remember was a very strange dream…

At least… he hoped it was one.

Chapter Text

KID waited at the top of the clock tower, watching the slow journey of the moon. There were still several minutes before his meeting, but he feared the other would not show. He had never had cause to doubt Tantei-kun before this, but lately…

Lately, the detective had been slower, not just physically, but mentally too. The last heist, it had taken him up to KID’s actual appearance to know the time and escape route. KID had warred with himself whether he should wait for the detective or not, but he’s glad he did. Because Tantei-kun caught up to him at the back entrance to the museum…

...and promptly collapsed.

At first, KID had thought it was a new ploy to get him to let his guard down, but when the boy didn’t move, he grew worried.

The boy breathed, but not even handling him had woken him up. There weren’t any injuries that KID could see, but the boy continued to sleep, dead to the world. A slow-mounting panic started in KID’s stomach, until at least five minutes later when the boy groaned, woken and startled to find himself in KID’s arms.

The subsequent shouting and flailing put KID’s heart at ease, but his worries didn’t subside.

He kept watch from the shadows, saw Tantei-kun lagging behind his peers, saw the worried looks from Ojou-chan. He noticed the way Tantei-kun slept more and longer and ate large meals but never seemed to gain weight. In fact, the boy looked to be getting thinner –and not in the way that denoted a growth spurt.

All these observations made him more worried.

He got his answer form Akako of all people.

“There is another witch in the city,” she said out of the blue. “I can feel her, but her powers are weak. She is sun-aligned, so her sun familiar is gaining power as she does, but her moon-aligned is fading. You have noticed it. You fear it.”

Kaito’s thoughts immediately turned to Tantei-kun, but… that couldn’t be right. He couldn’t be a familiar… right?

“The moon familiar is two-faced. Due to fading power, he must take a secondary form, one that lets him keep his reserves, but it only slows the output. If he depletes entirely, he will die,” Akako warned. “You could help if you so choose. Fortuna aligns herself with the moon. You could give him the boost he needs, but at a price.”

She had frowned at that and returned to her desk, refusing to say another word on the matter. It’s okay though. Kaito knew what he needed to do.

Which is why KID now found himself atop the clock tower, waiting for his little rival to appear. The gears overhead steadily clicked away the final seconds before the clock rang out the hour. The bongs reverberated though his entire body, vibrations rattling in his chest and deafening his ears. Twelve in total, then he felt eyes on his back.

“Tantei-kun,” he greeted, turning to spy the boy scowling at him tiredly.

“Kaitou KID,” Tantei-kun returned, putting his hands in his pockets. “Tell me why I shouldn’t capture you right here and now.”

“I’m only here to talk,” KID said, smile bright. “Besides, where would the fun be outside of a heist?”

The boy scoffed, but waved him off. “Go on then, what is it you want to discuss?”

“I’m afraid it’s not a conversation for you, but for the other you.” KID’s smile turned sad at Tantei-kun’s befuddlement. “Shingetsu.”

Tantei-kun’s frown deepened, then his eyes closed and he began to fall. KID reached forward, legs already working under him, but he need not worry. Instead of falling backwards down the winding stairs, Tantei-kun fell back into a bed of feathers. Brilliant black wings closed around him, trapping a blinding light within as he transformed.

Seconds later, Kaito was staring into the unimpressed gaze of a black garbed beauty. Black wings, black robes, black hair… the being appeared to be an adult Tantei-kun, though… his eyes were different. Instead of blue, they were black and clear as glass, reflecting the world around him, like the moon reflecting the sun’s light.

A moon-familiar indeed.

“I don’t have much time, idiot thief. If you have something to say, do so quickly.” Shingetsu crossed his arms impatiently.

“Ah, yes, you are quite low on magic, aren’t you?” KID grinned as the other tensed. “That’s what’s effecting Tantei-kun, making him eat more and sleep longer.”

“... Perhaps you are not quite the idiot I took you for.” Shingetsu shuffled his wings.

“I had a little help from a witch friend of mine, but that’s a story for another time.” KID held out his hand. “I’m here to strike a deal. I want Tantei-kun healthy as he should be and the only way to do so is to make sure you are healthy. I was told your master doesn’t have enough magic yet…”

“So you decide to offer yours.” Shingetsu looked torn, both very willing and not at all at the same time. “You don’t know what this means. Your magic is moon-based, yes, but without it, you will struggle far more. You heists…”

KID’s smile slipped. “Do I really rely on it that much?”

“More than you know.” Shingetsu looked at KID’s hand. “Your magic will return eventually, but in the meantime…”

He would probably have to put his heists on hold… just for a little while. He was loath to do so, but… Tantei-kun was worth more than his heists.

“If I do this, will Tantei-kun be okay?” KID asked, staring into those reflecting pools of black.

“Yes,” Shingetsu replied.

“Then that is all that matters,” KID said, smile on his face once again.

Shingetsu regarded him for a long moment before huffing a poorly disguised laugh. “You humans amaze me sometimes.”

Before KID could question him, Shingetsu grabbed his hand and reeled him in close. They were the same height, something Kaito hadn’t expected. He felt a hand wind around the back of his neck, tangle in the hairs at his nape. There was breath on his lips, warmth sealing over him, then more and more.

Oh wow. Okay. He hadn’t expected this.

He also didn’t expect the wave of cold to crash through him along with the hunger and exhaustion. Was this what Tantei-kun felt? All the time?

It was so… sad.

“Your magic.” The words came through a buffer, watery and distant. “It’s so warm, so bright and gentle… it flutters like a heart in my hands.”

Kaito’s own heart felt solid as a stone and just as icy.

“Thank you for your gift. I’ll take care of this chance you have given me.”

Kaito felt his body sag and float to the ground.

“Sleep now. I will watch over you until you wake.”

Then his vision blacked out.

Chapter Text

Kaito hissed as he lay back on his bed. His muscles throbbed painfully, an ache echoed tenfold by the neat line of stitches in his calf —a prize from his latest heist. His shoulder was doing better, the bruising from his unfortunate fall was already turning green, but the bullet wound in his leg was starting to turn red and heated to the touch. He knew he should change the gauze soon and douse it with disinfectant, but…

Kaito was so tired.

He couldn’t do it anymore. He didn’t want to do it anymore.

The lying, the stealing, the snipers… At the heist, he’d had to continue with his flippant devil-may-care attitude in front of the Taskforce despite a hidden bullet hole in his leg. And that night after his escape, he’d had to stitch it up himself, and deal with the bloodied rags as well. The bullet still sat in his drawer, a cold reminder of his mistake.

No. Kaito shook his head and forced his despair down. It was okay.

It was fine, he could do this. It was what his father had done and what Kaito took upon himself. It was the right thing to do. It needed to be done.

It didn’t mean he didn’t want to break down sometimes. It didn’t mean he couldn’t wish that someone else could fill his shoes…

A therapist might say that he needed to talk to someone, someone he could trust, but who could he go to for this?

Aoko was out immediately. She was the one who knew him inside and out before this whole KID thing, but now, if he told her, he was sure she would turn her back on him. Her hatred of KID was that great.

Jii-chan was the second person on his list, but if Kaito complained, he knew the other would force him to give up the hat, for good. Jii-chan had been ready to keep up his father’s act when Kaito hadn’t even been aware of it. He wouldn’t put it past the old man to try again.

Akako wasn’t an option. Half the time, she loved him, the other half, she wanted to kill him herself. He couldn’t trust her with secrets like this.

Hakuba wasn’t much better. If Kaito even gave a hint that he was Kaitou KID, any proof, he’d be behind bars before he could blink.

His own mother didn’t know of his nightly escapades.

Kaito only had enough support to keep his heists going, but no more and honestly? It was starting to wear on him, not having a single person to commiserate with…

Well, that’s not quite true.

Tantei-kun, for as much as he was like Hakuba, stood out. His comment last heist had struck a chord with Kaito. ‘I am not Edogawa Conan.’ The name he’d introduced himself with so long ago was fake.

What kind of people had fake names? Criminals… and those in witness protection. Hint: Tantei-kun did not seem like the former.

Perhaps… he would understand?

Understand the two-faced life that had him lying to his own loved ones. Understand the burden of being a one-man show. Understand the strain of bandaging his own wounds in the dead of night. Even if it was only an understanding between them of being unable to go back to the way things were before… Kaito might be able to find solace in that.

No, no, no. Kaito shook his head again and buried his face in his hands. He took a slow, deep breath and pushed against the pressure in his chest. Slowly in… slowly out.

He couldn’t go to Tantei-kun. The boy had his own problems, far worse than Kaito’s. They had to be, didn’t they? How much trouble could a seven-year-old get into before he had to change his name and, supposedly, relocate to run away from his pursuers? Frankly, if anyone needed someone to talk to, it would be Tantei-kun.

… If anyone needed someone to talk to… it would be Tantei-kun.

Kaito had the burner phone with the boy’s number still in it. It… wouldn’t hurt to call, right? Just to check up on him… It wouldn’t be specifically to talk or anything, just to check up on the other, make sure he hadn’t gotten into any trouble lately… It couldn’t hurt, right?

The ringing phone was pressed to his ear before Kaito knew what he was doing.

Hello?” Tantei-kun’s voice sounded wary. Ah, right, Kaito hadn’t saved his number in Tantei-kun’s phone. It looked like a strange phone call to him. “Hello? Is anyone there?”

“Tantei-kun,” Kaito greeted a little too emotionally. His voice cracked as he held back the rest of his words.

No, no, no! He’d told himself he wasn’t going to do this!

KID?” The shock was evident now, quickly followed by anger and suspicion! “How did you get this number? What are you calling for?”

Kaito should hang up. He should hang up right now. He should hang up before he embarrassed himse—!

“How do you do it?” Kaito asked, unable to keep the words from tripping off his tongue.

“...What?”

“How do you keep going? How do you deal with the stress of a double life? You’re seven years old. I’m seventeen and can’t keep it up.” Kaito drew a hand down his face and pressed at his eyes, as if to physically keep the tears at bay. The pressure in his chest increased. It felt like it was pressing against his ears too. “How can someone as young as you deal with it?”

The connection was quiet for so long that Kaito had to check the phone, to make sure the call was still in progress. It was.

“Where are you right now, KID?”

Kaito’s breath hitched. He knew he shouldn’t answer. Giving away his location was a big no-no.

“Let me rephrase. Are you at home?”

“... Yes.” Because that was true and Kaito was sure Tantei-kun didn’t have tracking technology at his disposal —at least, not for phones.

“Are you hurt?”

“... No.”

“Were you hurt recently?”

“...Yes. Just my leg.”

“Who did you go to for help?”

“No one. Stitched it up myself.”

Stitch-?!” —A quick breath— “Do you live with anyone? A mother? Father? Wife? Brother? Sister?”

“No, just me.”

A curse. “Who knows your secret? How many?”

“One, for sure, my assistant. Two are close, but I keep them guessing. They… aren’t exactly looking out for my best interests.” Kaito wasn’t sure where the detective was going with this. He heard more cursing across the line.

KID, this isn’t healthy!” Tantei-kun said, voice serious as a grave. “You need more of a support network than that!”

“But if they know, people could get hurt!” Kaito winced. That pressure in his chest constricted against his lungs. “Or I could get caught! Neither of which is an option!”

“I get it, okay? You’re on a mission to find something —I’ve gathered that much from our other showdowns. There are also people after you for it. Ones that will hurt the people that you care about,” Tantei-kun continued. “But that doesn’t mean you can be a one man army. If this continues, there’s a very real possibility that you’ll die!”

Kaito felt his heart give a lurch at the validity of that statement. He’d always known there was a chance of his death, but it felt like, as long as he didn’t say it out loud, it wouldn’t come to pass. Now, it stared him in the face with hooded figure and skeletal eyes.

He struggled for a minute to keep his breathing steady. No, no, no. Not now, not now! Keep it together!

Poker face!

He swallowed thickly and changed the subject. “How many do you have?”

Who know for sure? Five, one who is like me. Two more are edging around the truth and there’s you, who I’ve told part of it to,” Tantei-kun said without hesitation. So… Kaito was the eighth to know. That was… kind of shocking really. A little disappointing, but Kaito wasn’t going into that, not while the pressure in his chest hadn’t yet eased. “But more than that, I have others I can rely on. Mouri-jii-chan, the Shounen Tantei-dan, the FBI, CIA, and Secret Police.

Three undercover government agencies? Dang, this kid got around. It startled a laugh out of Kaito, some of the pressure easing with the startled movement. He muffled it, sure that if he didn’t, it would quickly turn to sobs. The bruises on his shoulder sparked.

But in the beginning, I had only one and I made far too many risky decisions. I couldn’t handle the stress and treated my life as a game token when I shouldn’t have,” Tantei-kun explained. “That’s why I know you need help. This isn’t something you can do alone.

“But I can’t,” Kaito choked on the word. His eyes burned, so he laid a hand over them to smother the pain. “If I told Nakamouri, the Taskforce would come after me, or worse, they will become the target! Same with Aoko and Hakuba and Akako and Jii-chan-!”

“Those are the people close to you?”

All too late, Kaito realized his mistake. He felt some strange, wounded noise, curl at the base of his throat.

“Why will they be a target? I thought the others only appeared at your heists?”

Kaito let out a relieved sigh and the steel jaws around his ribs slowly drew back. That was a marginally safer topic. As safe as he could get, being a phantom thief with a bounty on his head. So Kaito explained his run-ins with the ‘Others’ as he’d called them –the threats, the stand-offs, the snipers and kidnappings… the too many close calls.

His calf ached something fierce, but the pressure in his chest had deflated with every word his spoke.

“... And you said they wear black?” Tantei-kun asked after Kaito’s recounting —his only question.

“Yes?” Kaito frowned into the phone. “Why does that matter?”

“... Give me twenty-four hours,” Tantei-kun said cryptically. “I’ll see what I can do to give you some more support. Until then, don’t go running out into danger like an idiot.”

“Aw, but that’s my job!” Kaito ribbed, partly in jest, partly in fear of being left alone with his thoughts. “Why else would I run around in a bright, white suit?”

Ugh, just-! Give me a little time. Then we’ll talk about your little bait plan,” Tantei-kun huffed, then the call went dead.

Kaito sighed and let the phone drop to his pillow. He wasn’t quite as stable as he’d hoped, but it was far better than before the call. He felt less like he was fighting for air and more like he was plain exhausted instead. He wasn’t sure what a seven-year-old could do, but he didn’t give it too much thought.

Just having someone to listen made the pressure in his chest easier to handle.

*             *             *             *             *

The next morning, Kaito came in to his classroom to find his desk littered with tiny charms. Several dried flowers had been gathered into little gauze sacks. A few pieces of broken chocolate sat in a small plastic bag. A tiny, necklace sized jar held what looked like a handful of snowflakes. They weren’t melting though, so they had to be little piles of glitter instead.

The whole group of them set Kaito on edge. Not only were they a strange collection of things, but they were on his desk.

They was just asking for trouble.

“Kaito-kun,” Akako greeted him from her desk. The sharp look in her eyes immediately made him suspicious.

“Are these your doing, Akako?” He gave her a sullen look. When would she give up on him? It had gone past flattering and into creepy.

“The method to which they found your desk was, yes.” She flipped her hair to the side. “But they were not made by me.”

“Oh?” That was… surprising.

“They are protection charms an… acquaintance of mine made,” she said, her face flushing a little. “I am… not the best at those kinds of charms. But I assure you, they will work for their intended purpose.”

Ugh, magic again? Kaito sighed. “Akako, I told you. I don’t need-!”

“Kaitou KID does not need protective charms,” Akako cut in, eyes staring at him, cutting into his soul. “Kuroba Kaito does. My visions from last night have pointed to a turning point in your path. There is a god of misfortune awaiting you, should you fall. However, should you remain on a steady path, you shall find a twice hidden light to be your reward.”

God of misfortune? Twice hidden light? Kaito was smart, but those kinds of riddles were completely beyond him.

“Just…” Akako looked to the front of the class, nose in the air. “Take them with you. Put one on your phone, another on your keychain or bag if you want. Keep one around your neck at all times.”

Kaito really didn’t want to listen to her, but… She said she didn’t have a hand in making them, so he was relatively sure it wasn’t a trick. And she had said the warning was for Kuroba Kaito, not Kaitou KID, so maybe he should pay more attention instead of playing it off?

Grumbling to himself, Kaito took a seat and pawed through the bags. He eyed the chocolate one.

“And don’t eat the chocolate one,” she ordered. “It’s six months old.”

Kaito grimaced, but raised an eyebrow. As far as he knew, chocolate didn’t go bad…

“And it’s from my Valentine’s chocolate,” she warned. What was…?

Oh, right. The ‘love potion’ one. He stuck out his tongue in disgust and quickly dropped it into the bottom of his bag. Hopefully he wouldn’t forget about that when he found it again later.

Just as he was taking his tablet out of his bag, he looked up to find Hakuba looming over him. Kaito gave a startled yelp. (It was not a squeak! Definitely not!)

“Can I help you?” Kaito asked, frowning at the detective. The blonde frowned back.

“Have you…” Hakuba paused to consider his words. “Have you seen the morning news?”

“No?” Kaito gave Hakuba a wary look. “Something wrong? A homicide somewhere? Another KID heist?”

Normally, that last one would get Hakuba off on a tangent about Kaito’s identity, but the blonde was strangely subdued.

“No, nothing.” Hakuba waved off his questions and took a seat beside him instead. Kaito flashed him a startled, protesting look. “Did you do the reading for last night’s homework?”

Crap.

Kaito groaned. He knew he’d forgotten to do something! Normally, he would have gone home and immediately started homework, taking a break only for dinner, but last night had been bad. So bad, he’d ended up taking some painkillers for his various aches and pains and the healing hole in his leg and slept for a solid ten hours. Best sleep he’d had in a while.

Completely messed him up on his homework schedule though.

Kaito’s smart. Smart enough to breeze through homework when he has a chance to do it… but only when he has a chance to do it.

“I did the reading,” Hakuba said, bragged, as he held up his book and answer sheet. “But I am a little sketchy on the details. Do you mind if I go over it with you?”

Ugh, no. Kaito didn’t want to deal with Hakuba lording this over him. “Sorry, Hakuba, but I think it’s better if-!”

I think,” Hakuba spoke over him with a pointed look, “that the author’s point was made very clearly in paragraph four on page three.”

Kaito stared at him. Hakuba raised an eyebrow.

“When he’s speaking of time in reference to flowers —a being whose life is so beautiful and meaningful, but is just as quickly cut short,” Hakuba continued. He quietly tapped a finger against his paper and pointedly keep his gaze on Kaito.

Oh.

Oh!

Kaito hurried to drag his answer sheet out, keeping half an ear on Hakuba’s words and his eyes on the blonde’s worksheet. Normally, Kaito abhorred the thought of cheating, but with his double life taking such a toll on his mental capacities and his free time in general, he was willing to take any advantage he could get.

That is, if Hakuba wasn’t pulling one over on him… which might very well be the case. If that were true, Kaito deserved the F this paper would get him.

They continued on until the bell rang, Kaito having copied nearly everything from Hakuba’s sheet and words (put into his own wording, mind you) with the last bit saved in his photographic memory as the blonde returned to his seat. By the time the call came around, his finished sheet made it up with the others, completely filled out.

Kaito stared at the back of Hakuba’s head, unsure of what had caused this brief generosity from the blonde and unsure if he could trust it. He decided to focus on getting his homework done ahead of time now, if only to avoid future occurrences like this.

And then Hakuba came back over to his desk for lunch time and Kaito found himself working through the assignments of his afternoon classes.

So much for that plan.

At least he didn’t need to cheat off Hakuba for Calculus.

*             *             *             *             *

After school, Kaito found himself in another strange situation at Jii-chan’s bar.

He had come over to start planning his next heist and consider possible targets. Instead, his greeting was cut short when Jii-chan shoved a small tube of ointment into his hands. It was a simple silver package with a white cap and no label.

Curious, Kaito turned it over in his hands a few times before looking up. “What’s this?”

“A new medical gel from my inventor friend.” Jii-chan shrugged. “He said that it’s still in its prototype phase, but it should revolutionize the medical field and emergency response sectors once it’s finished.”

“And let me guess, he wants me to beta-test it.” Kaito gave the tube an unimpressed look.

“He said he already had. It was just a matter of getting the timing down.” At Kaito’s look, Jii-chan shrugged again.

“I thought you said he was a mechanical engineer?” Kaito asked as he slipped the tube into his pocket. “What’s he doing making ointments?”

“Beats me. Seems like he’s gone off down a rabbit hole. Wouldn’t be the first time.” Jii-chan pulled some files up from under the counter. “Now, about your next target…”

Kaito sat down, eyes pouring over locations and possibilities, looking for the jewel that stole his father’s life.

*             *             *             *             *

That evening, Kaito changed out of his clothes and into his pajamas. He hissed in pain as his pants dragged along the stitches in his leg. The wound was definitely red, but it looked pinker than it had the day before. Looks like dousing it in disinfectant —though painful —was effective.

As he threw his pants to the bed, the ointment from Jii-chan’s friend fell out and onto the floor.  Struck once again by curiosity, Kaito picked it up.

Like before, there was no label, so he wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be used for, but Jii-chan had said his friend thought it would revolutionize emergency responses. Perhaps it was to be used on severe wounds?

Well, it was worth a shot.

Folding himself up so he could get at the bullet wound, Kaito carefully dabbed at the edge of the tear. Instead of the feared burning sensation of a miss-applied medical gel, there was a soothingly cool sensation that spread at the touch. Growing bolder, Kaito smeared a very thin coat along the edges of the wound.

The skin turned cool, then slightly numb. Kaito reveled in the absence of pain.

Even if it didn’t do anything other than that, Kaito thought this cream was amazing.

After re-wrapping his leg, Kaito shimmied into his pajamas, did a little homework, and headed off to bed. Without the painkillers, he was able to get a deep sleep that left him well-rested for the next day.

He woke up to find his wound completely closed up. The only evidence it had been there at all, were the neat row of stitches Kaito had made himself.

(Those were a pain to get out, but a light dab of the Mystery Cream and they, too, disappeared by lunchtime. Kaito needed, like, three tons of this stuff!)

*             *             *             *             *

After that first day, Kaito thought the surprises were out of the way.

Akako hadn’t left any more charms on his desk and Jii-chan didn’t have any new supplies from his inventor friend —at least, not anything Kaito didn’t need for his heist. Hakuba still stopped by his desk to go over homework with Kaito, despite the fact that Kaito did his homework, thank you very much! …Mostly. Kinda. Like, seventy-percent of it.

(Kaito tried not to be grateful to the bastard.)

Other than that, Kaito found that his life was fairly normal, nothing that it wasn’t before. He didn’t know what he had expected from Tantei-kun, but he’d thought there’d be something out of the ordinary.

Ah well, what could he really expect a seven-year-old to accomplish?

Apparently, far more than Kaito could ever imagine.

It was his newest heist, location near Beika and time very pointedly early enough for the littlest detective to attend. He might have called at his darkest hour, but Kaito wanted to make sure that the kid didn’t get any big ideas running around in his head. Kaito was still just as much of a thief as he’d ever been and no amount of heart-to-hearts was going to change that.

He didn’t expect the Taskforce to be so… standoffish was the only word he could think of.

They definitely tried their hardest and definitely gave chase after him. Half of them fell to his tricks like usual and the others grew louder and more insistent because of it, but something was off. Something big.

When Tantei-kun cornered him in a backroom of the museum, next to the loading dock, Kaito couldn’t help but asked. “What are you planning?”

“Huh?” The kid had the audacity to look confused.

“You said to give you twenty-four hours,” Kaito reminded him. “I didn’t think you’d accomplished anything, but the Taskforce… there’s something off about them. They’re subdued. It must be something you’re planning. A trap for me?”

“Hardly,” the boy scoffed. He put his hands into his pockets. “Don’t you read the news?”

Kaito frowned, though he knew the boy wouldn’t see, not with Kaito’s back to the only source of light in the room. He answered carefully. “I read the news every morning, keeping an eye on possible targets and other things that strike my fancy in the general media.”

“General media?” There was that confused tone again, but it quickly cleared up. “Ah, you only have commercial channels to work with, don’t you?”

Kaito crossed his arms. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“In official, government-only channels, International Thief 1412 has been cleared of any and all charges within the last two years,” Tantei-kun said, eyes sharp behind the bright tint of his glasses.

Then his words hit Kaito. His lips parted to speak, but no words came. There were none to describe what he was feeling.

“I spoke with my friends in the FBI and Secret Police and they spoke with Interpol,” Tantei-kun continued. “With the information you’d given me about the organization you called the ‘Others’, they have reason to believe it is the same crime syndicate that they are currently attempting to arrest on several hundred counts of kidnapping, theft, and murder in the first degree. As such, you are considered to be an undercover ally with a means of luring agents of this organization out of hiding under the guise of your heists.”

Kaito couldn’t think of anything to say… except: “Nakamori-keibu must not have been very happy to hear about my pardon.”

“I think his thoughts are better heard from the man himself.” Tantei-kun spared a glance over his shoulder to the door. A shot of fear struck Kaito’s heart. Had he been tricked? Had the Taskforce surrounded him while Tantei-kun and he spoke? It wouldn’t be the first time Tantei-kun had tried that play…

“KID,” Nakamori called from beyond the door, but the obstacle between them remained solid. “If I had any idea of what you were doing… of the risks you were taking every month just by showing up to your heists… I would have helped you out long ago.”

Kaito’s breath caught in his throat. That pressure from days earlier returned, but it was different. It felt lighter, growing, uncontainable.

“You’re doing a good thing here, KID,” Nakamori continued. “You’re doing something I don’t have the guts to do. I couldn’t even think of risking my life, not with my men, my friends… my daughter. I wouldn’t be able to do what you do on a daily basis and still be able to smile the way you do.”

There was something lodged in Kaito’s throat that no amount of swallowing could choke down. His lips quivered and, not for the first time, Kaito was glad that Tantei-kun could not see his face.

“That’s why I’ve decided to support you. All of the guys on the team have. You may be pardoned, but what would a heist be without a Taskforce? What would draw the criminals out more than seeing how incapable Division Two is? And all the while, we’ll sneak up on them and trap them while their guard is down.” A hard knock sounded at the door, like Nakamori had punched it with a fist full of rage and determination. “And when all this is over! I’ll make sure we have a proper match-up! Just you, me, and my men, no third-parties to get in the way and give you a handicap.”

Kaito choked on a laugh. Of course, the inspector wouldn’t give up that easily. Nothing as simple as a pardon would make the man stop! “Of course, Keibu-dono.”

“Good,” Nakamori harrumphed. “Well, I’ve said what I’ve had to say. Get outta here you thief… and return that stolen ring!”

Kaito made a non-committal sound and waited long enough for the inspector’s footsteps to disappear before he slid down the wall to huddle in on himself. He couldn’t afford to break down here, not with Tantei-kun still gazing down at him, not with the heist still going on, but-!

He couldn’t help the relieved sobs that pulled harshly at his ribs.

Embarrassed, he grabbed at his hat, tugging it lower to hide his face from Tantei-kun.

Tantei-kun, bless him, allowed him however long it took for Kaito to pull himself back together. He wasn’t sure how long it was, but no doubt several minutes had past. His fans outside would start to get worried.

Hands tugged at his pant legs. “Looks like that ointment really works, doesn’t it?”

That… that was from Tantei-kun? And Hakuba… he must have known about this too, right? That’s why he was suddenly so nice to Kaito! And the whole Taskforce-!

“I don’t understand,” he said, voice rough and nose clogged. “Why? Why did you help me? It couldn’t have been easy to get a pardon for a thief that has escaped custody for decades. Why go through the trouble?”

Tantei-kun took a long time to answer, but when he did, his voice was soft. “You and I are a lot alike. We get ourselves in far too deep and before we realize it, we’re stuck. I had people to help me out of that, to push me forward, to watch my back. I figured, after all you’ve done to help me so far, I could at least return the favor.”

“Past your usual ‘letting you escape’ tactic?” Kaito laughed, feeling much, much lighter than he had since the whole KID thing started. He looked like a mess, he was sure, but he felt like a new person. “You must be going soft, Tantei-kun.”

“Shut up,” the boy grumbled. “And anyway, I figured, if you were going to play bait, I might as well lay a trap down for those you taunt. After all, what use is a worm on a hook without a proper net?”

“You can try to explain it away all you like, Tantei-kun.” Kaito beamed at him, careful to keep the hat brim low over his eyes. “I know that you enjoy my company too much to let me be locked away.”

“Keep talking like that and I’ll put the handcuffs on you myself.” The boy scowled at him, then turned away. “Get out of here, KID. I’m letting you off this time. Next time, be prepared. I won’t be holding back.”

“Of course, Meitantei,” Kaito pulled himself to his feet. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Chapter Text

Shinichi cast a wary gaze around before tugging the cloak further over his head and dashing towards the dock. There, a small vessel bobbed in the shadow of the Diamond’s ship. If he could just get to it—!

“And where do you think you’re going, Obsidian?” A deep voice echoed through the docking bay. A shiver ran up Shinichi’s spine as he ground to a halt and turned to face his shadow. Teeth as white as the other’s suit grinned down on him. “Or should I say, Shinichi?”

“You have no right to call me by that name!” Shinichi hissed, shoulders drawing up defensively as he cupped a hand over his side, over his gem. “Not anymore.”

“No right?” The stranger glided forward as if physics bowed to him. “I am a Diamond. I have every right!”

“No, you’re a traitor!” Shinichi spat, taking a calculated step back. He needed to get to that ship. He needed to get to Pink Colony No. 1. He needed-!

“The traitors are the ones that refuse to leave that miserable planet.” The white shadow flowed forward, cape fluttering after with a mind of its own. “She was a traitor! If she had just listened to Yellow Diamond, none of this would have happened!”

“You shattered her!” Shinichi shouted, his voice echoing against the stone walls.

The shadow frowned, eyes going cold as ice. “She saw you. She saw us. If I had let her, she would have—!”

“She wouldn’t have!” Shinichi defended. “She’s kind! She believes every gem has a purpose! Even the off-colors! She would never have—!”

“She’s a defective Diamond,” the white shadow stated, voice piercing in its judgement.

“She’s Pink Diamond! My Diamond!” Shinichi shouted, feeling his eyes burn with a familiar sensation. No tears fell, though. They had run dry when he was confined to his chambers.

The white Shadow was angry now. His feet clicked sharply against the cold floor. “I am your Diamond. I am the only Diamond you will ever need!”

Shinichi lowered his gaze, unable to look the other in the eyes.

The harsh words softened. “Come with me, Shinichi. No one will question it. Gems get reassigned all the time. This way, we can—!

“No, we can’t.” Shinichi shook his head and drew his weapon from his gem. “Never again.”

Beautiful white eyes pressed wide in shock as Shinichi shoved the pointed tip of his blowgun into the other’s chest. The white figure destabilized without a sound, the perfect diamond-shaped gem clinked against the ground.

Shinichi looked on, face twisted into despair and betrayal. “I’m sorry… Kaito…”

Without another word, Shinichi turned and boarded the ship.

He vowed to never return.

*             *             *             *             *

Earth was as he remembered it. As Pink Diamond had wanted it. The humans had advanced and the world had begun to prosper once again. The Crystal Gems were wary, but Shinichi didn’t care. This was the world his Diamond had loved. He would protect it with all his might against whomever decided to follow him.

But no one did.

A hundred years passed, then a thousand, then ten thousand.

No one from Home World came.

Kaito didn’t follow. Didn’t destroy the earth. Didn’t drag Shinichi back by the scruff to his ‘rightful’ place by the White Diamond’s side.

Shinichi was… free. Free to mourn, free to live… free to love.

Her name was Ran, a human girl. Her laugh reminded him of Pink Diamond. Her joy reminded him of the ruler’s delight in her first and last colony. At first, he loved the reflection he saw in her, but in time, he grew to love Ran as well.

He gave her everything, because there was no one better to take it.

Thousands of lightyears away, a cold white gaze watched on, teeth grinding as the solitary royal sat on his throne.

*             *             *             *             *

“Who are you?” Conan asked the giant white being. It had to be a gem, Conan knew that. The others hadn’t told him much, but he could tell the difference between human and gem. He just… couldn’t always tell if they were friend or foe. The sadness and pain he could feel from this gem didn’t help to divide that line.

The enormous being looked down at him and grinned. His smile was pretty despite the roiling emotions Conan felt. “Who might you think I am?”

“A gem,” Conan answered, pausing and adding. “A pretty one.”

The grin grew. The roiling emotions dulled. A bright light blinded Conan, forcing him to cover his eyes, but when it dimmed again, he looked up to see…

The man was the spitting image of his father, Obsidian, but… white instead of black. He still towered over Conan, but now he was shorter than Garnet, maybe a little taller than his mother, Ran.

The gem swept his top-hat off his head with a flourish and bowed to the little boy. The perfectly diamond-shaped gem twinkled from his right eye. “Hello, little detective. I am… White Quartz. Nice to meet you.”

“N-nice to meet you,” Conan replied, eyes wide at the beautiful figure. “Do you… Are you a Crystal Gem?”

“No. I am not,” White Quartz answered, placing his top-hat back on his head.

“Oh…” Conan frowned down at his hands before looking back up. “Then… why are you here?”

“You could say that I’m looking for someone,” White Quartz replied.

“Is it another gem?” Conan asked, suddenly eager to help. “I bet Garnet knows where they are! He knows everything! You should definitely talk to him!”

“Well, I can’t refuse now, can I?” White Quartz asked as Conan took his hand and towed him away.

*             *             *             *             *

“I’m not buying this guy,” Amethyst growled to the other two gems. “Like, I get Amethyst and White Quartz are different stones, but… it just doesn’t feel right!”

“I agree with Sera,” Pearl whispered to Garnet. “Another gem? Out here? Now? And he’s looking for someone? This just spells disaster, I know it!”

“Calm yourself, Kazuha,” Garnet said calmly, voice gruff with his own distrust. “We can’t afford to lose our cool and make the first move. We don’t know what he’s planning.”

“We don’t?!” Pearl hissed. “What about Hakuba’s power? Shouldn’t he be able to-!?”

“He’s been looking, but…” Garnet frowned. “I never saw us encountering him, not in battle. Whoever he is… I don’t think he’s looking for a fight. I think… he’s just looking.”

“For who?”

Garnet frowned, seeing images fly through his mind’s eye: two gems, white and black, side-by-side, an eternal Yin-Yang. The white gem resting on the beach as the sun passes the sky again and again and again, thousands of times as months turn to years. A little boy —Conan —growing before his eyes into a man and finally, the white gem looks up. Looks at peace.

And then, the two disappear.

“The person he is looking for is not here,” Garnet finally stated, unease growing in his gut. “Not yet.”

The two other gems looked on with concern as little Conan showed White Quartz his toy dog, Sherlock Bones, and his favorite TV show —Case Closed.

*             *             *             *             *

Conan grew up from child to teen. He made friends, lost some. Found more gems and even travelled to Home World once! And after seeing Yellow and Blue Diamond, seeing their gems, he felt the ground fall out from underneath him.

“Welcome back!” Kaito said from his place on the sand. His smile was so carefree that Conan felt his anger rise. “How was your-?”

Smack!

Okay, not a good idea. Now Conan’s hand hurt. Despite the pain, he felt vindicated. Kaito looked stunned beyond words —just like how Conan wanted.

“When were you going to tell me?” Conan demanded, voice cracking in his rage. “When were you going to tell me you were a Diamond?!”

Kaito’s face fell into a blank expression, chilling in its lack of empathy.

“Was this just some game to you?!” Conan demanded, stomping his foot ineffectively into the sand. “Was I just some game to you!?”

White Quartz —White Diamond frowned. “You were never just some-!”

“Wasn’t I?” Conan glared down at him. “You said you came looking for someone, another gem.”

Kaito didn’t answer.

“I’m him, aren’t I?” Conan growled. “You came looking for Obsidian! My father! He’s the one you wanted, isn’t he?!”

Kaito still didn’t answer.

“Well, guess what!?” Conan kicked sand at the other, needing some sort of output for his anger instead of the tears he could feel forming on his face. “He’s not here! He didn’t wait for you! He didn’t want to see you! He forgot you! And now, all that’s left—! All that’s left is—! …is me.”

Silence.

The Crystal Gems watched from behind cover, Amethyst with her whip ready to reel Conan back like some fish at the first sign of anger from the Diamond.

“They say you shattered her,” Conan said when Kaito refused to speak. “Pink Diamond… you killed your own sister. You killed the one ruler that cared about their colony past being a little farm to grow more gems. You took the kindest, most beautiful gem in the universe… and shattered her.

“I came to find you,” Kaito finally said. “To explain what really happened.”

Conan felt a question burning on the tip of his tongue, but remained quiet.

“That night, when you… he left, we were in the castle’s docking bay. He was looking for a way out. I was just looking for a way to make him stay.” Kaito’s gaze turned up to the stars. “The castle walls have ears. Everyone already suspected I was the one to break Pink’s gem, even my Obsidian, the Knower of Truth.”

“He’s not your Obsidian,” Conan said sharply, hand covering his side, palm resting against smooth crystal.

“I suppose not, but we were something to each other,” Kaito continued. “I was going to tell him the truth. He would be the only one to know, but… he destabilized me and when I reformed, he was gone. To Earth, to her Colony.”

“You didn’t come after him,” Conan pointed out needlessly.

“I couldn’t.” White Diamond shook his head. “Earth was the last place I could go. If I came here, Yellow would know and Shinichi would have…”

Would have what? Been captured? Shattered? Would Conan… would he have never existed?

“I wanted to tell him the truth, but he wouldn’t listen.” Kaito’s gaze finally fell upon Conan, white eyes staring at him with thousands of years of guilt as a burden. “But you… I know you are not him, but… will you listen?”

He didn’t have to. Conan could leave, right now, and not listen to another word from this gem. He couldn’t tell if the other would even tell the truth! He hadn’t for the past six years after all. What was to say that he’d tell the truth now? If Conan were smart, he’d leave, just like his father had, and turn his back on the gem that reeked of sadness, pain, and betrayal.

No one had ever accused Conan of being like his father.

“… Yes,” Conan replied as he took a seat where he stood. “I’ll listen.”

So Kaito spoke: of a secret love outlawed by Home World rules, of a Fusion that never should have happened, of Pink Diamond knowing and not minding in the least, of a Yellow Diamond disgusted by Pink Diamond’s flaunting of tradition, of underhanded plans and Kaito’s inability to stop them. He tried, so hard, but… Shinichi’s life had hung in the balance. Kaito had been forced to choose between his sister and the love of his life.

In that kind choice, there was never a winner.

“I came here to ask for his forgiveness,” Kaito sighed, digging his hands into the sand. He lifted a handful and let it fall through his fingers. “I know now, he can never forgive me.”

“Maybe he can’t…” Conan put a hand on the gem’s shoulder, face wet with tears as Kaito’s sadness echoed in him. “But I can. I hope that’s enough for you.”

Kaito smiled. “It will be… one day.”

The gem turned his gaze back onto the horizon as Conan leaned his head against the other’s shoulder. All this time, a Diamond on Earth.

Conan wanted to laugh at his luck, but realized: he was lucky.

Kaito could have destroyed the planet, could have refused to help with the Cluster, but didn’t. Kaito was here to stay, to repair his past mistakes. It may have been too late for Pink Diamond and Obsidian, but it wasn’t too late for Earth.

Not for Conan either.

 

Chapter Text

The heist had started out the same as usual. Heist notice, typical challenge to the detectives, the gathering of the crowd…

It started to go awry half-way through the chase when they suddenly found dead bodies on the premise. Not one, not two —many.

With seemingly no killer and no suspects.

Needless to say, the detectives and thief had a temporary truce to clear this up. The detectives didn’t like serial killers running around (for good reason) and KID didn’t like his ‘no injury’ rule broken (for… less of a good reason). The truce was pretty strong, all things considered, right up until…

They started brainstorming possible suspects.

“I’m thinking…” KID tapped at his chin in thought. “Ghosts.”

“… I’m sorry —what?” Conan eyed him like he was crazy.

“Ghosts.” KID gestured with his hands. “It makes sense, you know? How these bodies are getting here, even though they weren’t killed here but are still recent enough to leave a blood trail —which conveniently goes through walls? Multiple times?”

“Despite the strange occurrences, KID, there are no such things as ghosts.” Conan scowled, “Hattori, help me out here.”

Hattori looked between the two, smiling nervously.

“H-Hattori!” Conan frowned. “You can’t be serious!”

“Sorry, Ku–Conan, but I kind of have to agree.” Hattori shrugged.

“Wha—but—!” Conan’s jaw dropped. “What about all those cases we solved? And proved that ghosts were a myth?!”

“Ah, well, those were unique cases.” Hattori reoriented his cap. “Those turned out to be fake.”

“When are they not?!”

“When you aren’t there.”

Conan massaged the bridge of his nose. “Hakuba-san, please don’t tell me that you believe in ghosts too.”

“I am sorry to disappoint, Edogawa-kun.” Hakuba frowned apologetically. “But I have a classmate who is a sorceress and another who might as well be one with the amount of magic he does.”

Excuse you. I know that guy!” KID canted his hip with flair. “He would be a mage, thank you very much and he would be sexy at it.”

“Don’t you mean good at it?”

“I know what I said.”

“I don’t get it!” Conan hollered over them. “Why is it that you all encountered something like this before, but I never have!? We live practically the same lives!”

“Except me.” KID raised his hands in surrender at the glaring looks. “I’m just throwing that out there.”

“The only thing I can think of, Conan-kun,” —Hattori crouched down by his height-challenged friend and ruffled his hair— “Is that you are a ghost deterrent.”

“I can’t be a ghost deterrent!” Conan argued, throwing his hands up in frustration. “I can’t be because there’s no such things as ghosts!

“Meh, agree to disagree.” KID shrugged.

“I’ll toast to that.” Hattori stood back up and slid his hand in his pockets. “But, well… what if we think of it this way? Conan is a ghost deterrent, right? So that means that there’s a high possibility that this perp is an actual person, right?”

“Unless you factor in Kuroba’s magical magnetism,” Hakuba pointed out, ignoring the musical cry of ‘That’s not my name!’ from KID. “He seems to draw in more strange and unusual things than normal. He’s like a ghost attractor.”

“Hey! I resent that!”

“So it’s ghost attractor versus deterrent?” Hattori looked at the blonde with a raised eyebrow.

“There’s no such thing as ghosts!”

“Care to place a wager?” Hakuba mirrored his expression.

“Ah! Excuse you! I am not a gambling game! Poker Face or not!”

“Nah.” Hattori waved him off. “I like to know the odds before I start placing any bets.”

“There are no odds! There are no bets! Ghosts don’t exist!

“Fair enough.” Hakuba nodded to the bloody trail. “Shall we get started?”

“Might as well.” Hattori shrugged.

As fate would have it, it was not a ghost. It was actually a very old, very loyal servant to the family that had lived in the house years previous. The old woman had lived in the house long after the family had left or died and still remained within the servant corridors in walls, taking potshots at the bounty-hunters and members of the feuding family that tried to find the antique possessions of the long-gone family.

Kaitou KID had been next on her list, something Conan didn’t like to think about, but he didn’t have to. After all, the killer was caught, the gem recovered (when had KID stolen it?), and the truce dissolved. Everything was as it should be.

And there were no such thing as ghosts.

“I’m telling you, Kudou,” Hattori whispered harshly as they stood outside to leave. “It’s just when you’re around. There really are things beyond our knowledge out there.”

Conan just scoffed. Hey, he might look like a six-year-old, but he wasn’t near as trusting as that.

Chapter Text

Kaito had been born with lies as his closest friend. His father was a stage magician, sleight of hand his trade. His mother was an ex-thief; stealing someone else’s face was her specialty. It was obvious from his youth that he would grow to follow, grow in this world of lies and thrive.

But it went further than that.

Kaito could see the number of lies a person had told in their life. The numbers hung above their heads like a scoreboard, displaying their faults for him to see, but only him, Kaito found. His mother and father couldn’t see the numbers and other kids laughed at him when he insisted on their existence.

He wanted to prove it to them! Show them he was telling the truth! If only they could see it too! They would know he wasn’t lying!

Then his father died and the last thing he wanted to do was draw attention to himself, make himself ‘special’. He needed to fit in, to make his mother not worry. He learned magic tricks, impressed the other kids, grew popular for his lies. He got friends. He fit in.

His plan worked too well.

His mother took to traveling the world, leaving him alone again.

It was fine. He had friends now. He was older. He could take care of himself.

The scoreboard above her head ticked up at “I’ll be home soon.” He smiled, even if it hurt. His mother’s “I love you” hadn’t been a lie. He took comfort in that.

Then KID appeared.

Jii-chan revealed his father’s secret life. The scoreboard didn’t change. He found the men that killed his father and heard their plans. Their scoreboards didn’t change. They believed Pandora existed. Whether it did or not didn’t matter, because they would keep stealing and killing until they had satisfied their curiosity. So much death for a myth.

Kaito donned the hat with purpose now. He would search this world, uncover its lies, make it show its hand until not a single truth was hidden.

He was so sick and tired of deceit.

Which made the child in front of him unique.

Yes, there was a scoreboard over his head, but it held a paltry ‘21’.

KID was astonished.

How did a child have 21 lies to his name, to his entire life? Even babies had somewhere in the 50’s, crying just to cry. Toddlers ranged in the hundreds, not yet knowing lies were wrong, yet this child had less than 30.

Kaito was intrigued.

“Hey, boy!” he called out as he dropped the roof below his landing point. “What are you doing there?”

The boy startled and tucked his phone away. He frowned at the thief before brightening with a smile. “Fireworks!”

The scoreboard didn’t change, but Kaito still found himself surprised when the bottle rocket went off. It immediately brought the attention of the Taskforce and —oh. That was the child’s plan. Clever.

“What’s your name, kid?” Kaito asked, curious about the boy with the low numbers.

“Edogawa Conan.” The kid put his hands in his pockets. “Detective.”

The scoreboard ticked up. Oh, ha. That’s probably why. Kaito grinned. “Detective, sure.”

Conan frowned, brow furrowing in anger. “I am a Detective!”

Kaito opened his mouth to tease the boy, but stopped. The scoreboard. It hadn’t changed. Then where was the lie? Was it…?

“What did you say your name was again?” KID asked.

The kid lost his anger, turning wary instead. “… Edogawa Conan.”

The scoreboard ticked up again. 23.

Interesting.

“Well, Tantei-kun.” KID grinned at the boy’s affronted noise. “You may think you’re clever, but I have more than one trick up my sleeve.”

Faking Nakamori’s voice might have called the Taskforce onto him faster than before, but that didn’t matter. KID had a new piece to the puzzle, though he wasn’t quite sure where it fit yet, if it did at all.

Tantei-kun, ‘Edogawa Conan’.

What reason would a child have for a fake name?

KID planned to find out.

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito had been tailing this boy off and on for months now, but he was no closer to figuring him out. No ‘Edogawa Conan’ showed up in the population database so Kaito was sure the identity was a fake, but his face brought up no other match.

Besides, Conan acted like a kid. He met up with friends, played games (increasingly just soccer) and solved mysteries. That last one backed up his ‘detective’ title, though Kaito never wanted kids around murder scenes, no matter how smart. That, paired with his occasional appearance at KID’s heists…

Tantei-kun was smart and had a nose for danger. His penchant for walking towards it rather than away might have something to do with…

“Oi!” a gruff voice said from behind Kaito. He looked up from his chocolate milkshake to eye a tan teen about his own age —Hattori Heiji, friends with (and mentor to?) Tantei-kun. Strange, why was he here? Didn’t he live in Osaka?

He looked to be waiting for an answer. Kaito cocked his head to the side. “Yes?”

“Those kids out there.” Hattori nodded towards Tantei-kun and his friends. “Why are you watching them?”

Oh? ... Oh. That’s the idea he got? Kaito better set him straight. “Just feeling nostalgic. I used to run around like that with my friends, before I got into magic. Sometimes, seeing kids still doing that makes me smile.”

Hattori stared down at him, eyes narrowed, like he didn’t quite believe Kaito. Hm, that’s no good. Time to divert.

Kaito twisted a bit, displaying his neck and a scant patch of skin beneath his collar. “Though I have to ask: is there any reason that you are watching me so closely?”

Hattori’s face reddened and he crossed his arms. “Just making sure no one was going after one of them.”

Kaito knew of Hattori’s protective nature, knew he was telling the truth, but he couldn’t help a glance upwards to the teen’s scoreboard…

Only to see nothing but L’s.

Kaito blanched and leaned away. L’s? He’d never seen…

“Oi, oi.” Hattori’s brow furrowed, concerned. “Are you okay? You suddenly look pale…”

Kaito’s mouth worked but no words came forth. All he could do was stare at the L’s.

Frown increasing, Hattori looked up, to where Kaito was staring. Then his confusion cleared, looking down to Kaito with bright eyes. “You can see them too! The numbers?”

“You ‘too’?” Kaito finally managed. “You mean, you see them?”

“I thought that I was just weird!” Hattori said, rounding the table to sit in front of him. “But if you can see them too, it must mean something!”

“But yours…” Kaito frowned. “There’s no numbers.”

“Same with you.” Hattori nodded at the space above Kaito’s head. Kaito looked up, but saw nothing, as usual. “Nothing but R’s, right?”

Kaito frowned. “R’s? Don’t you mean L’s?”

Hattori frowned. “L’s? No, it’s definitely R’s above your head.”

“You have L’s,” Kaito repeated. “Why is it different?”

“Don’t know, but before that, answer me this.” Hattori grew serious again. “How many crimes have you committed?”

Kaito’s heart gave a painful thump, but he kept it off his face. “Why ask? Without being able to see my numbers, you won’t be able to tell if I’m lying.”

“What are you talking about?” Hattori wrinkled his nose. “It doesn’t track lies. It tracks the number of crimes a person has committed.”

Kaito stared at him. “No, it tracks the number of lies a person tells. The lady behind you?” He waited for Hattori to turn. “She just suggested a more expensive dish to a customer, saying it was ‘good’ even though she hated it when she tried it.”

Hattori stared for a moment, before looking back to Kaito. “What number do you see?”

“2,703.” Kaito rested his chin in his palm.

“I only see four,” Hattori replied, turning back around. He looked thoughtful, arm still slung over the back of his chair. “So we can see numbers…”

“But they tell us different things,” Kaito finished. “I see the lies people have said.”

“And I see the number of crimes they have committed.” Hattori narrowed his eyes. “This is weird… but it doesn’t answer my question.”

“What was that again?” Kaito asked, innocently.

“The number of crimes you’ve committed,” Hattori replied, gaze fierce. “And a forewarning, if I don’t like your answer, I’ll make sure you don’t get a single step closer to Conan.”

“What makes you think it’s this ‘Conan’ that I’m looking to interact with?” Kaito asked, face a perfect mask of a smile. “What makes you think that I’m doing anything but enjoying a nice afternoon at a cafe?”

“My gut,” Hattori answered immediately, face growing darker. “And Conan had mentioned seeing you around too often. One might think you’re following him.”

“One might be right.” Kaito’s smile grew when Hattori’s lips pulled back in a snarl. “And one might also be completely wrong. Guess we’ll never know, huh?”

Hattori glared at him, lips twitching a few times, like he planned to say something, but barely held it back. Finally, he growled. “I can’t help but notice that none of those were a true answer to my question.”

“That is because I dislike lies,” Kaito replied. “But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned to live around them.”

“What does that even mean?!”

“It means,” —Kaito gently pushed his chair back and tugged his thin jacket on— “that I won’t be answering you, Hattori-san.”

Hattori’s eyes grew wide. “How do you know my—?”

“I will not lie about my actions or my past, but that doesn’t mean I have to answer.” Kaito set his payment for the milkshake down on the table. He eyed Hattori out of the corner of his gaze. “Besides, we both know how this works. Even if you know the number, it means nothing without evidence.”

Hattori gritted his teeth.

“Later, Tantei-han.” Kaito waved as he walked towards the entrance.

“Hey!” Hattori shoved himself to his feet. “You better stay away from him, y’hear?! If I find out you’re following him again…”

Kaito felt a sardonic smile twist at his lips. He risked a taunting look over his shoulder. “Could you really keep me away?”

It was a threat, but an empty one.

Kaito never wanted to make Tantei-kun feel threatened. He just wanted to know about the boy. He wanted to know what made him different. What kept him from having such a high lie count. Even now, after months, the boy was only up to 102. It was nothing compared to his little female friend’s number, 705, or the skinny boy’s 789, or the tallest boy’s 832.

Kaito wanted to know… but if Tantei-kun had felt him following, it was best to stay away. Not forever, but for now.

Besides, Kaito had a heist to plan and some snipers to lure into a trap. He couldn’t afford to be distracted.

So, without another backwards glance, Kaito left the two mysteries behind: the boy with only 100 lies, and the teen whose lies he could not read.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t often that the three teen detectives (and Hondo) found themselves enjoying a nice meal together. With the way Hakuba and Hattori bickered with each other, it was hard to enjoy a nice anything together. Which was why this outing was a pleasant surprise.

Conan attributed it to Hondo. The clumsy teen had a soothing air about him.

“So…” Hondo began. “What do you guys think of Kaitou KID?”

And like that, the peace disappeared.

“Kaitou KID is an egotistical madman with a superiority complex,” Hakuba said without hesitation. Hondo blinked in surprise. Conan raised an eyebrow at the teen.

“You mean like you?” Hattori grinned at Hakuba’s fierce frown. “But no, really, I haven’t met the guy. So I don’t have an opinion of him. Stealing is wrong, so he’s a criminal and should be caught, but the guy himself?” Hattori shrugged.

“What about his tricks? You’ve had to have seen them on TV.” Hondo leaned forward on his elbows. “What’s your favorite trick? I kind of liked it when he stole from a boat full of people and got away scot-free. That had to have taken some planning.”

“I don’t know about tricks,” Hakuba seethed, “but his continued evasion of the law against all odds and laws of physics astounds me.”

Hondo frowned. “That’s not-!”

“I kinda like the way he pulls random crap from nowhere.” Hattori waved his hands in gesture. “Like, empty hands and —poof! —card gun. Think of how useful that skill would be.”

“That isn’t-!”

“Especially since there doesn’t appear to be enough room in his costume for it.” Hakuba nodded, finally getting into it. “Speaking of his card gun, I have to reluctantly admit that his impeccable aim impresses me. The aerodynamics of not just a card, but an unfolding one must wreak havoc on aim and yet he hits his target every time.”

“No kiddin’?” Hattori looked intrigued.

Hondo had had enough.

“Neither of those are tricks!” he yelled, quieting only when other patrons glared at him. “Surely one of the other tricks caught your eye? Walking on air? Opening an uncrackable safe? He even freaking teleported! T—Conan-kun, help me out here!”

The three teens looked to the shrunken teen, two sets of curious eyes, one set outraged and… offended. Conan took a long sip of his lemon smoothie.

“I like…” Conan set his drink down. “The way he changes his disguise.”

Hondo sighed. Of course, leave it to a detective to pick something so arbitrary. At least it was a trick though.

Then Conan continued. “Within three seconds, while holding a child he caught mid-skydive after jumping from a blimp —without letting go of the child.”

Hakuba covered his mouth in awe. Hattori let out a low whistle. “That during the plague scare?”

“Un.”

“You know, I always wondered how you had gotten back onto the blimp.”

“Ah, well, you see, KID disguised himself as Shinichi-nii-san and talked with the police, and—?”

“What is wrong with you people?!” Hondo tore off his clothes to reveal… Kaitou KID?! “I have pulled all-nighters trying to come up with amazing tricks for the heists and all you can focus on is my impeccable aim, my hidden stash of goods, and how I change my disguise, not even the disguise itself?!”

The three detectives interrupted him with clapping, quickly followed by the rest of the cafe. Startled by the attention, KID froze, blushed and bowed. When the clapping continued, he straightened and gave his impromptu audience a nervous smile before running off, embarrassed by the unplanned spotlight.

“Who’d’a known that Hondo was KID? And that he was the one who invited us out here?” Hattori mused.

“I did,” Conan said, thinking of the call he’d gotten yesterday from Hondo over in America. “I knew.”

Chapter Text

Shinichi stared down the horse with all his might. At least… he thought it was a horse. It kind of looked like those corpses that had been found after a really long time, nothing but rotting flesh and bones… with wings. The weirdest part?

His new friend Hattori couldn’t see it.

The two had met on the platform of the subway station in Central Tokyo. Shinichi just happened to overhear Hattori’s parents directing him and so decided to follow them. Since Shinichi’s parents hadn’t been allowed to follow him, he could take any advantage he could get at finding his way. Thankfully, the Hattoris were very nice people and Shinichi gained both a friend and a magical mentor in the dark-skinned youth.

Which made Hattori’s inability to see all the more alarming.

“Come on, Kudou!” the other eleven-year-old called from the carriage the horse-like creature had been hitched to. Shinichi didn’t climb on. He continued to stare.

“What is your friend doing?” the blonde who’d already been on the carriage asked. “Is he okay?”

“He’s fine!” Shinichi heard Hattori defend him. “He’s just new to the wizarding world! He’s tryin’ to figure out how it all works.”

“New?” the blonde wrinkled his nose. “Is he a muggleborn?”

“My great uncle was a powerful wizard and lots of my Mom’s relatives were squibs. There’s always been magic in my blood, it just decided to show up now,” Shinichi answered. He looked up at the two. “You really can’t see it?”

Hattori squinted at the space in front of Shinichi while the blonde cocked his head to the side. “See what?”

Before Shinichi could answer, a fourth voice joined them. “A Thestral, the scavenger of death and omen of misfortune. Only those who have stared death in the eyes will be able to see it.”

“Hah?” Hattori whined, confused.

“Who’s there?” the blonde called out. From the forest stepped another first year, indigo eyes twinkling playfully in the twilight.

“Kuroba Kaito.” The boy bowed grandly. “At your service!”

“Kudou! He looks like you!”

“Kuroba?” the blonde spat off the carriage. “I’ve heard of your father, Kuroba Toichi. Doing magic in front of muggles. How he continues to avoid the wrath of the Ministry is a mystery to me.”

“Hmm… blonde hair, local accent, haughty attitude…” Kuroba’s grin turned mean. “You must be a Hakuba. Tell me, how is your father doing? Still running into dead ends?”

Hakuba lurched to his feet, hands balled into fists. “When my father gets evidence, your father will be locked up in Azkaban before you can say ‘Ministry of Magic’!”

“Whoa, whoa!” Hattori held out his hands. “Calm down! No need to get into a fight before the opening ceremony!”

“Listen to your friend, Hakuba.”

“He’s not my friend,” Hakuba growled. “He is a minor annoyance.”

“Hey! Well, you’re an annoyance too, jerk-face!”

As the two devolved into fighting, Shinichi looked back at the solemn Kuroba. “Can you really see it?”

Kuroba broke out of whatever dark thoughts had been clouding his mind to give Shinichi a critical look. Then he smiled, sadly, and stalked forward to run a hand up the horse-like being’s flank. “Yeah, have seen them for about three years now. You?”

“This is my first time,” Shinichi admitted, carefully placing a hand next to Kuroba’s. The boy next to him startled. His eyes roved over Shinichi’s face, looking for something Shinichi did not know. “The wizarding world is truly spectacular, isn’t it?”

“The ‘wizarding world’?” Kuroba cocked his head to the side. “Are you a muggleborn?”

“Close enough.” Shinichi shrugged, dropping his hand. “My mother has magic in her family tree, but her branch has all been squibs. She was ecstatic when I got my letter, more than I was. Dad thought it was funny, though I’m not sure he believed the magic part.”

“What’s your dad do?” Kuroba asked.

“Muggle detective,” Shinichi answered, knowing what Kuroba really meant. “Also, author of the Night Barron series.”

“Night Baron?” Kuroba grinned. “My dad loved that series!”

Remembering Hakuba’s comments, Shinichi gave him a sour look. “Please don’t tell me he decided to copy it.”

“That would be lying.” Kuroba wrinkled his nose. “Although, he didn’t go as far as serial murder. Just the Full Moon Thief part.”

“Are you guys coming or what?!” Hattori yelled from the carriage. “I’d rather not be stuck with this stuck-up brat any longer than I need to be!”

“Believe me, the feeling is mutual.”

“Why you little—!”

Shinichi sighed, then blinked when a hand appeared in front of him. He cast Kuroba a questioning glance.

“Come on,” Kuroba prompted with a grin. “If we leave them any longer, they might just break into a brawl. And that’s something I don’t want to explain to the professors!”

Shinichi smiled at the thought and took Kuroba’s hand in his.

*             *             *             *             *

The carriage ride to the castle was short, all things considered. Hakuba and Hattori fought the entire way there, but Shinichi was able to converse with Kuroba beside the bickering. He learned that Kuroba’s father was not only a wizard, but a magician, an entirely muggle term for a con artist that tricked people with sleight of hand (his own father’s description, a rather apt one if Shinichi could say).

During their conversation, Shinichi noticed that Kuroba constantly used past tense for his father, but he also knew that kids didn’t like things like that pointed out. He had made far too many enemies by pointing out secrets and hurts better left untouched.

It was in this manner that they arrived at the castle, the last carriage in the lot besides the professor’s chaperone one. Then they were tumbling out and scrambling to fall into line for the sorting ceremony.

“Alphabetical order, everyone!” One professor with short dark hair and round glasses clapped her hands to get their attention. “Alphabetical please!”

That was all well and good, but Shinichi didn’t know everyone’s names. He only knew that he fell between Hattori and Kuroba… and that was if they were going by last name.

“Hey!” Kuroba smiled at him when Shinichi slipped into place in front of him. “You know, I don’t think I ever caught your name!”

“Kudou Shinichi.” Shinichi offered a hand to shake.

“Kudou-kun? Shinichi?” Kuroba thought hard and smiled. “Shin-chan!”

“Please don’t call me that.”

“Nonsense, Shin-chan!” Kuroba threw an arm around Shinichi’s shoulders, ignoring his hand completely. “We’re best friends! And best friends get to give each other nicknames!”

“Kuroba-san—!”

“Kaito,” the other boy corrected.

“Kuro—?”

“Kai-to!”

“Kuro—“

“Shin-chan, I cannot make this any easier. Do you want me to hex you to greet everyone by their first name?”

“… Kaito-kun,” Shinichi relented, red-faced. His cheeks darkened at Kuro –Kaito’s pleased look.

“Yes, Shin-chan?” Kaito asked.

“What is the Sorting?”

Kaito paused, cocking his head to the side. “You really don’t know anything, do you?”

Shinichi shook his head. “Hattori tried to tell me about it, but then he got onto a tangent about Gryffindor being the best house and where all the heroes come from and I couldn’t really follow along.”

“Well, I see your problem!” Kaito grinned. “First of all, no house is better than the others! They each have their own special skills. Second, there are four houses, not just Gryffindor. Yes, Gryffindors are known for their bravery, but Ravenclaws are known for their intelligence and Hufflepuff for their kindness. To be brave without wits is to be a fool and to ever be a hero, one must be kind. Simply singling out one aspect above the others is flawed thinking.”

“So there are three houses?” Shinichi asked, beginning to understand. But wait… weren’t there four colors on the Hogwarts crest? Perhaps it stood for faculty?

“Ah, no, there are four.” Kaito looked pained as he explained the last house. “Slytherin is feared and revered in equal measure. Some of the greatest wizards to ever live came from Slytherin, but they weren’t always ‘good’. Most importantly, though, only those of pureblood can be accepted into the Slytherin house, or so the saying goes. Its founder was very… against muggleborns.”

“Oh…” Shinichi frowned. “So I wouldn’t be able to get in.”

Kaito’s brow lifted, then he laughed. “You almost sound disappointed.”

“What can I say?” Shinichi shrugged. “I always aim high.”

“Well, believe me.” Kaito’s face held his grin, but his words were anything but happy. “That is one goal you’ll want to forget.”

Before Shinichi could question him further, his name was called.

“Kudou, Shinichi!” the witch reading off the roster called, looking over to him with a gentle smile. “Your turn dear.”

Shinichi looked to Kaito and took courage in the other’s grin. Walking across the long hall, he came to the seat where the last student was skipping away from, joining one of the four tables stretched out below. He sat in the chair and tried to keep a straight face as a hat was lowered onto his head.

The idea of a hat deciding his placement seemed kind of silly to him.

Oh, sorry to offend your sensibilities, Kudou Shinichi,” a voice whispered in his ear. He let out a startled gasp. “But perhaps you should keep an open mind? After all, you are in the wizarding world, now.”

As quietly as he could, Shinichi whispered an apology. If nothing else, his mother had ground manners into his head after years of hard work.

“Ah, it’s been a while since someone apologized to me. Fear not, I have seen far too much to be offended by you.” The hat chuckled lowly. “Now, let’s see… where to put you.

Shinichi thought back to Kaito’s words, about the houses themselves, about the one to avoid.

“Hmm… you could have the makings of a great Slytherin if you put your mind to it.” The hat hummed in thought. “But Gryffindor could fit just as well. Hufflepuff… possibly, but your selfless streak falls more into reckless than kind.

Shinichi felt his cheeks grow hot.

“Of course, there’s another house that might suit you even more. One that cherishes the mind and incites the imagination. One that gathers clues and facts and puts them together into the answers of the universe.” The hat sounded almost smug. “One that observes where others only see.

Shinichi felt excitement well up in his throat, because he knew that quote! It was slightly different, but it was there! It was-!

Sherlock Holmes!

Oh yes, I think we have a winner here.” The hat laughed louder and louder before proclaiming: “RAVENCLAW!”

The tables clapped politely with one table cheering as loud as they could. Shinichi deduced that as the Ravenclaw table.

As the hat was lifted from his head, Shinichi started to make his way down, but he couldn’t help a glance around. Hattori was not at the Ravenclaw table, as far as he could tell. So where was…?

Two tables down, at a table coated in red and gold scarves, Hattori stared at him, a sad look on his face. Shinichi frowned. That… was that right?

His first friend in the wizarding world and they were separated?

Shinichi felt his heart sink before he shook his head. No, it was okay. After all, Kaito could still be placed in—!

“SLYTHERIN!” the Sorting Hat shouted. Shinichi whirled back to see Kaito, the hat barely brushing the top of his head before it was lifted away again. Kaito smiled sadly at him before disappearing into the table next to Shinichi.

Stunned, Shinichi quietly sat down at his table, alone.

Hattori, Kaito, Hakuba… none of them were sorted into the same house.

Hakuba, Hattori, and a girl named Sera Masumi ended up in Gryffindor. Shinichi found himself in Ravenclaw with a girl named Miyano Shiho. A girl named Mouri Ran got sorted into Hufflepuff with two girls named Nakamori Aoko and Toyama Kazuha and Kaito landed in Slytherin with Suzuki Sonoko.

Shinichi looked over to where Kaito had taken a seat with the other Slytherin first-years. He glanced to where Hattori and Hakuba were already butting heads again, then over to table of Hufflepuffs who smiled kindly in greeting.

Just great, not even the first day of school and he was already separated from his friends.

“Alone at the table?” Miyano asked.

“Yeah, all my friends got sorted into different houses,” Shinichi sighed.

“I’d say that you’ll see them again, but you probably won’t.” At Shinichi’s dismayed look, Miyano shrugged. “House divisions are taken very seriously here. You might not see them again outside of classes until after graduation… if your friendship lives that long.”

Shinichi gave another series of glances to where his friends had gone, then stared forlornly at his empty plate. He heard a sigh to his right, then a hand appeared in front of his face. He looked up, surprised, to Miyano’s blushing face. “Miyano Shiho, Ravenclaw, first-year. Want to be friends?”

“Kudou Shinichi, first-year Ravenclaw.” Shinichi grinned and took her hand. “And yes, I do!”

*             *             *             *             *

It was not the last time Shinichi saw his friends.

In fact, Kaito sat next to him the very next morning, ignoring the scathing looks from the other Ravenclaws. “Shin-chan!”

“K-Kaito?” Shinichi hurried to move his plate to the side so his friend had space. “What are you doing here?”

“Saw you by yourself and thought you might be lonely!” Kaito grinned and started in on his food. “Did you have a good first night? Did you know they have dungeons here? They’re under the lake. I slept in them! It was so cool!”

“You must have felt right at home,” Hakuba noted coldly as he sat down in front of the two.

Kaito made a face. “Ew, go away. I don’t want to see your face first thing in the morning!”

“If you haven’t noticed, this isn’t the Slytherin table either.” Hakuba glared as he buttered his biscuit. “You are the one disrupting the status quo. I am just making sure you aren’t up to any funny business.”

“And trying to steal my friend!” Hattori cut in, slamming his plate down with a solid thump. He then proceeded to knee and elbow Hakuba out of the way until he had a spot in front of Shinichi. Then, he grinned. “Morning, Kudou!”

“Morning, Hattori.”

“What? No ‘Morning, Kaito’? Shin-chan, I’m hurt!” Kaito placed a hand over his heart.

Hattori frowned. “Wouldn’t it be ‘Morning, Kuro—?’”

“Morning, Kaito,” Shinichi dutifully said around a mouthful of rice. Hattori gaped at him. “What?”

“Kaito? Kaito? When did ‘Kuroba’ become ‘Kaito’?” Hattori griped.

Shinichi raised an eyebrow. “Last night?”

Hattori made an offended noise. “Then me! I’m Heiji!”

“Hattori…” Shinichi started with a sigh.

“Hei-ji!” Hattori insisted.

Shinichi rolled his eyes and gave up. “Heiji then.”

Satisfied, Heiji shot Kaito a smug look. Kaito just raised his eyebrows at him. Another set of plates sat down on Shinichi’s free side, causing all of them to look up.

“What?” Miyano asked. “This is a Ravenclaw table, you know.”

“Morning Miyano,” Shinichi greeted. “These are my friends, Hattori Heiji and Kuroba Kaito.”

Miyano gave them a calculating once-over. “Charmed.”

“Ahem.” Hakuba crossed his arms. “You forgot about me.”

“I… don’t know your name.” Shinichi gave him an apologetic look.

Hakuba gaped. “You don’t know my name?! How could you not—?!”

“I mean, I heard your last name, but…”

“Oi, y’dumb prick! What part of ‘new to the wizarding world’ did you mis-hear last night?”

“Oh, right.” Hakuba shuffled in his seat, shame-faced. “Hakuba, Saguru. Son of the Chief of the Aurors at the Ministry of Magic.”

“Kudou Shinichi,” Shinichi said. “Son of Kudou Yuusaku, detective and author of the Night Baron series.”

Hakuba’s eyes lit up. “Your father is the one that wrote those? I love that series!”

“Yeah?” Shinichi grinned.

“I mean, it’s nothing compared to…”

“Sherlock Holmes?” Shinichi’s grin grew wider at Hakuba’s enthusiastic agreement.

“Ew, stop being nice to him!” Heiji wrinkled his nose. “Stop talking to him, Hakuba!”

Shinichi raised an eyebrow at Heiji before looking over to Hakuba. “Call me Shinichi.”

Ignoring Heiji’s sputtering, Hakuba grinned. “Saguru.”

“Sonoko!” a girl said in introduction as she sat down next to Kaito. “Where were you, Kaito-kun? I thought we were sitting together this morning!”

“Oops, my bad!” Kaito scratched at the back of his head.

“Sonoko!” A voice called out, three more trays appearing at the table. “I didn’t think I’d get to see you again after Sorting!”

“Ran!” Sonoko greeted. “You know we always have a class together!”

“But it’s not the same!” the girl huffed as her two new friends looked on, curious. “Oh! I’m Mouri Ran. Who are you?”

She was looking at Miyano in particular, though the girl didn’t notice until Shinichi nudged her. Looking up, Miyano blushed in embarrassment. “Er, I’m Miyano Shiho.”

“Pleasure to meet you!” Ran greeted, then nodded to her friends. “This is Nakamori Aoko and—!”

“Kazuha!”

“Heiji!”

Shinichi blinked. “I take it you know each other?”

“We’ve been friends since forever.” Kazuha grinned.

Heiji looked dour. “She got us stuck in a pair of muggle handcuffs last year.”

“Our bond was forged in steel!”

“Wow, that’s a passion I can get behind!” another girl said as she paused by their table. She grinned a toothy grin. “Got room for one more?”

“Morning, Masumi-san.” Saguru greeted. “I believe there is room somewhere here.”

“Go for it.” Miyano shrugged. “It’s not like our table hasn’t already been taken over.”

Shinichi looked over at her and grinned. “Hey, Miyano-san… what was that thing you said about house rivalries?”

“Shut it, Kudou.”

Yeah… surrounded by his friends and more, Shinichi was thinking that his school life wouldn’t be so bad.

 

Chapter Text

Conan has had it up to here with KID.

Normally, Conan is a very easy going guy, all things considered.

He didn’t say a word when KID disguised himself as Shinichi in order to trick Ran and cover for Conan. He didn’t chase the thief down after he had used Shinichi’s face to try and cop a feel on his childhood friend. He didn’t even reveal the thief when he made the very bad choice of disguising himself as Sera Masumi. (Sera took care of that.)

Conan thought his tricks, while grandiose, were intriguing and looked forward to their interactions. He forgave the thief for his belittlement of police policy and laws in general. He’d even gotten over the Taser Incident!

But Conan could not get over the nicknames.

Keibu-dono was okay —mocking, but it showed respect. Tantei-san was impersonal and Tantei-han a play on Hattori’s Osakan heritage. What did Conan get?

Tantei-kun. ‘Little Detective.’

For a child, it would probably be a sign of respect. When he had been a child, he had thought it nothing but an insult. The title itself was just there, but the tone —that underlying Ah, you’re adorable, thinking you’re a detective. That tone had grated on Conan’s nerves. He had been so glad to outgrow it!

Now, he was stuck with it all over again!

No more. The next time that bratty thief came by, Conan was gonna give him a taste of his own medicine! He just had to find him in this joke of a heist first.

A set of doors shoved open let him pass. A white shadow stood in front of large bay windows. A blinding grin against the dark night sky.

“Oh! There you are Tantei-kun!”

Conan glared. “Stop calling me that!”

The thief paused. “Oh? But it’s such a cute nickname! Why would I stop?”

“Because if you don’t,” —Conan crossed his arms— “I’ll have to fight fire with fire.”

The thief rested his head back in his hands. “I’m not sure if Kaitou-kun would be very… vengeful. Or were you thinking of KID-kun?”

“No one said I had to make it about your chosen profession,” Conan smirked. “Mahoutsukai-chan.

KID’s lips parted, as if to retort, then he seemed to freeze.

Conan frowned. That was… not the reaction he had been expecting. It wasn’t a reaction at all. Where was the annoyance? Where was the thief’s denial of Conan’s new name for him?

Conan wanted him to feel the rage!

“What did you call me?” KID asked, voice sounding soft and barely contained.

Ah, did he just think he’d miss heard? Conan would be quick to correct that.

“Ma-hou-tsukai-chan,” Conan sounded out, annoyance coloring his voice. That’ll teach the thief!

Except, it didn’t.

KID’s hands flew to his face to cover his mouth and nose and cheeks —was that a blush?

Was Kaitou KID blushing?!

No, no, no! This wasn’t right!

“I like it!” KID said after he regained control of himself. Mostly, his voice still quivered with barely contained glee. “It personifies me perfectly! I love it!”

“No!” Conan shouted. “You’re supposed to hate it!”

“Why? It’s true, is it not?” KID cocked his head to the side, just enough so Conan could see that bright grin illuminated by moonlight. “And it’s special because you gave it to me.”

That… no. Just, no.

“I changed my mind,” Conan said. “I’m never calling you by that ever again.”

“Nope! Too late!” KID exclaimed with a flourish of his hands. “From now on, I am not KID! I am Mahoutsukai-chan!”

“KID!” Nakamori called as he and his men surrounded the room. “I’ve finally caught you!”

“Ah! No, no, no, Keibu-dono.” KID wagged a finger. “It’s Mahoutsukai-chan.”

“It’s… what?”

“My new nickname curtesy of Tantei-kun.” KID beamed proudly. “Treat it with care!”

Nakamori looked down at Conan, a disappointed face showing his displeasure. “What have you done?”

Conan sighed and shook his head. “I have no idea.”

And he didn’t.

For the rest of the heist (and the heist after that and the heist after that), KID refused to answer to any name other than Mahoutsukai-chan from any of the main chasers. The Taskforce in general could get away with calling him Kaitou KID or any version, but Nakamori, Conan, Hakuba and Hattori could not. He downright ignored them if they refused to play his game and they generally found themselves in the worst traps afterwards.

The others had already given in and started calling KID by his favored nickname, but Conan refused! He may have started the trend, but he wasn’t about to follow that thief’s rules!

Besides, it was something that annoyed KID just as much as his nickname annoyed Conan.

He’d get the idea… eventually.

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito rolled over onto his stomach and swung his feet in the air like a girl in one of those clichéd oldies movies. Resting his chin in his left hand, he twirled his favorite pen in the other. With a dopey smile, he pressed the tip to the small journal lying in front of him.

Dear Diary,

He wrote.

Tantei-kun gave me a nickname today! :D I’m so happy! It looks like I finally wore him down! I knew he really did like me. All those soccer balls mean nothing in the face of this!

Now, onto the next step in my twelve-point plan in integrating myself into the good graces of the Tanteis and manipulating them into taking down Snake and his cronies! Next step: Friendship bracelets!

Once that’s done, then it’s on to matching uniforms! I can’t wait!

Also, note to self: pick up more milk tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Shinichi learned to hate a lot of things since becoming Conan.

He learned to hate high tables he couldn’t see over. He learned to hate situations or objects that required a long reach. He learned to hate that condescending tone people spoke to him with when he tried to show off his deductions. He learned to hate the look on Ran’s face when he failed to show up again and again.

Those were all things he’d come to hate over the last few months. Now, he had something new to add to the list.

That he couldn’t fly.

More specifically, that he forgot that he couldn’t fly.

Leaping through the air only to drop into a free-fall 40 stories high was not the best time to remember this either.

Sickening fear clawed at his chest as he frantically beat his fluffy wings, full of baby down instead of the sleek adult feathers he was used to. Even if he was now 100 pounds lighter, it wouldn’t have made a difference. His wings were too small and hadn’t gone through their final molt. There’s no way he could save himself.

Fortunately, he didn’t have to.

“Gotcha!” KID crowed as he snatched Conan out of the air and kept up his death-defying flight. His breath was coming far too fast and painfully for his small lungs to cope with. Conan could only cling to the thief, fingers digging in tight to the thief’s white suit. “Got a little ahead of yourself there, Tantei-kun? I know you’re eager to grow up, but at least wait for your wings to be able to handle your own weight!”

Conan didn’t reply. The fear from before still pushed his heart too fast. It ached all the way up in his throat.

“Tantei-kun?” Conan could hear the shadow of worry in KID’s voice, but he still couldn’t force any words out. He felt like he couldn’t breathe. “Hold on, Tantei-kun.”

They banked sharply, then sped up. The wind whipping around them cut off the sound of Nakamori’s crowd-horn from his ears and stole the already limited air from his lungs.

Soon, the search lights disappeared and the wind stopped as KID slowed to land. Even with the wind gone, Conan’s lungs still fought too hard for air. It was the most unpleasant feeling he’d ever come across (save, maybe, the gun-shot wound from before).

KID tugged at Conan, but his hands held tight, unable to be pried off. He felt KID’s ribs expand in a sigh before they shifted and knees came up to cage him in. Jet black wings mantled around him, cutting off the light of the full moon. Close, caught, concealed —his breathing finally started to slow.

“That’s it, Tantei-kun.” KID soothed, pressing a warm touch to the space between Conan’s shoulder blades. The other arm held Conan around the waist, keeping him secured. “It’s okay. I caught you. Nothing to be afraid of anymore.”

With a start, Conan realized —he was scared.

Scared in a way he never was when confronted with the Black Organization. Scared in a way he never was facing down criminals every day. Scared in a way that he couldn’t comprehend, because with the others, he’d always had an escape. Nothing had been sure.

With the fall… nothing had been surer.

All because he stupidly forgot the size of his wings, quality of his feathers. All because he forgot, for a single moment, that he was Edogawa Conan, not Kudou Shinichi.

The band around his chest tightened, squeezing the air from him.

“No, no, no, stop thinking, Tantei-kun,” KID cooed. The hand along his spine traveled up to his hair. “It’s okay. I caught you. You’re fine. I know it was scary, but you’re fine. Promise.”

The words, while true, didn’t soothe Conan’s frayed nerves. Seeming to notice this, KID changed tactics, falling silent and letting his hands trail to Conan’s ruffled wings. There, he started to untangle the fluff and down, setting straight the baby feathers —preening him.

It was laughable, really. In any other situation, Conan would be beside himself at the thought of Kaitou KID preening him. After all, preening was only done in family flocks or between lovers, not some international thief and a world-renown detective turned preschooler.

But here he was, clinging to KID as deft fingers worked their way through his wings. With every ruffled feather set right, Conan felt the band around his chest ease. With every tangle undone, he felt the panic clawing up his throat recede. By the time KID had worked his gloved hands through Conan’s wings, the boy had dropped limp against him, fear gone and exhaustion taking its place.

Conan wondered, briefly, if he was supposed to offer KID the same treatment.

“You scared me there, Tantei-kun.” KID let out a sigh as he held Conan close. A hand at the back of Conan’s head kept him from looking up to KID’s face, but that was fine. Conan didn’t need to see him to know he was just as rattled as Conan. “I thought I had lost you at the rooftop. I didn’t think you would jump after me! Especially since your wings can’t hold you yet.”

“I forgot,” Conan grumbled, face heating in embarrassment.

“Forgot?” KID sounded perplexed and just a bit angry. “How could you forget that, Tantei-kun? I didn’t think children your age have even attempted flying yet! What was there to remember?”

Oops. Conan had slipped up.

“Nothing,” he said quickly. “Never mind. Forget I said anything.”

“Nuh-uh, no can do, Tantei-kun! I wanna know!” KID pressed. After several quiet seconds, he must have decided that Conan wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice, because he let out a gusty sigh. “Well, I have to admit: you had good form until gravity decided to take hold of you.”

Did… did KID just…?

“Maybe when you’re older, you’ll give me a right, proper chase, neh?” Even if he couldn’t see, Conan could feel that (stupid, idiotic-!) thief’s grin in the air. How could he say something like that to a child?! He had to have known what it meant!

“A-as if!” Conan sputtered, pushing against KID’s hold. “No one would chase a thief! Especially not me!”

KID laughed, but it was a sad sort of sound that dug guiltily at Conan’s heart. Maybe he shouldn’t have been too hard…

“You might be right, Tantei-kun, but then again, how will we ever know for sure?” KID asked as he let Conan push himself to his feet. Rising to his own, KID kept a hand on the brim of his hat as his wings flared wide. “After all, I am not always a thief, you know?”

Before Conan could retort (once a thief, always a thief), KID was gone, a silhouette against the moon with his white wings spread wide.

That was strange… hadn’t they just been black?

 

Chapter Text

Police lights still whirled, but the excitement of the evening was over. KID had taken the gem he’d warned about and stole into the night, out of Nakamori’s grasp. Now, the police were just taking statements of key players, Conan included. It was the same-old, same-old rundown that he gave, but Conan felt something off the whole night.

Something was different about this heist, he just couldn’t tell what.

It was probably that he hadn’t figured out the trick just yet. Once he did, everything would settle back down.

Casting a glance around, Conan tiptoed over to a dark alley and eyed the empty space around him.

“You did pretty well tonight,” he called into the dark. “I still haven’t figured out your trick.”

“Would you like a hint?” A voice asked as the thief seemed to materialize from the dark.

“I’ll figure it out soon enough. No need for hints.” Conan scoffed. “Was the stone the one you were looking for? Pandora?”

“No, it wasn’t.” KID flashed the gem in his hand before Conan felt his pocket weigh itself down. In the dim, fractured light of the far street lamp, Conan could just make out a displeased frown. “I really wish you wouldn’t try to figure out the trick. It loses its magic then!”

Conan rolled his eyes. “We both know there’s no such thing as magic, KID.”

KID froze, shoulders becoming stiff. His smile seemed strangely fragile, but Conan was sure it was just a trick of the light. “You never know, Tantei-kun. You might be surprised by the things hidden from this world.”

“I may look six, but I’m old enough to know better,” Conan said bitterly. “There’s no such thing as magic.”

“… Be careful what you say, Tantei-kun,” KID said, ominously.

“Why’s that?” Conan asked. He looked back the way he came, checking to see if Ran had noticed him missing yet.

“Renounce your belief enough and magic will lose its power,” KID said.

No, Ran was still being interviewed by the policeman. She had been the disguise that night, so he still had a few minutes.

 “If something loses enough power, it will simply…”

Conan waited for the end of the sentence to come, but nothing followed. He looked up to find the alley empty. “KID?”

The streets were empty, the fire-escape bare. He hadn’t even heard any footsteps from the thief running away. It was like the teen had vanished.

KID!” he called out, voice echoing, but it was no use.

Kaitou KID was gone.

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito watched the little detective run around, look right through him, pass right through him and hung his head. He hadn’t been able to save the little boy’s belief.

With a heavy heart, he cast his last words into the wind, “...cease to exist.”

Then, like mist in the late morning, he disappeared.

 

Chapter Text

 Everything was as it should be.

Thanos was enjoying the sunrise several months after the culminations of his campaign. The universe's population of intelligent life had been halved. Resources would be more abundant for those chosen to survive. He had enjoyed some of this plentifulness in his own meals over the past several days.

Everything was as it should be.

And so he sat and watched the skies change in a slow rainbow of colors. It was so beautiful on a landscape of emerald dotted with more jewels.

"I can see why you like this place," a voice said. "It is quite beautiful, indeed."

Thanos was out of his seat before he could recognize the other's words. His instincts pushed him to fight, but...

This being looked weak. 

The one who spoke was shorter than him by half. Dressed in pure white, the being's face was obscured by a monocle and tall hat with a wide brim. The rising sun cast shadows over the being’s features, but Thanos could still make out pale cheeks rounded with baby fat.

A young human. He thought to himself. Male, because of his voice.

But how did a human end up all the way out here? Sitting on his roof? Their technology was nowhere near the level necessary to pull off space travel. So how...?

"Are you Thanos, Destroyer of Worlds?" the boy asked, seemingly at peace in his presence. It made Thanos curious. Such a strange being, out here where it did not belong. He decided to indulge his curiosity.

"I prefer 'Savior of Worlds' to Destroyer," Thanos said, voice rough. He did not realize how long it had been since he'd used it. Not many came to his slice of the universe.

The boy cocked his head to the side, enough that Thanos could make out one calculating indigo iris. Strange... did humans have that eye color? No matter, a mutation of eye color meant nothing more than an interesting quirk. "Oh? Rather prideful, don't you think? How would killing half the universe be ‘saving’ it?"

Another being so naive as to not see what Thanos already knew. Thanos was loath to explain himself again, but he couldn’t help but want someone to understand the need of his actions. His own daughter had not and now she was... She would never understand. This boy might still.

"By reducing the population of intelligent life, those left behind will prosper by making use of the resources left," Thanos explained for the umpteenth time. "It forces the rich and poor to work together to care for their world, rather than one or the other."

"Perhaps that is true, perhaps it is not." The boy shrugged, fabric at his shoulders bunching at he did so. Was that a cape? Why was he waring it? Was he a hero like the wizard he’d fought? Thanos did not sense so. "But I have to say, choosing the people at random was a mistake."

Thanos was used to people arguing his ideology, but never from this angle and never without emotions clouding their thoughts. It intrigued him. "How so?"

"Three main reasons." The boy held up three fingers. "First, think of this situation. There are two people. One knows how to work the ground, to turn soil and sprout seeds and nurture plants to harvest. The other does not. A coin is flipped. The one who knows how to take care of resources is killed. The other lives on, not knowing how to care of the plants left behind. The plants, left to the elements, die."

"That is but one case," Thanos reasoned. "The probability of that happening—!"

"The probability is reset for each person. A fifty-fifty chance. Maybe it doesn't happen in one world, or the next, but can you say that to be true for every planet in the near-infinite number of worlds across the universe?" the boy asked, eyes sharp, but face calm. "What if there was only one person in a primitive society that had the idea of growing their own food?"

Thanos... had not thought of that, but he was sure that everything would be fine. Society would take a while longer to evolve, but they would get there eventually.

"Which takes us to the second reason that random choice is not a viable solution." The boy lowered one finger. "Civilizations. Evolution. If a planet out there had only one sire and bearer, what would happen if either one dies? There will be no offspring, no continuation of genes, no civilization out of the mud they grew or ashes they survived. You not only killed off half the population, but also the entire future of the society that could have been."

"If they had evolved, surely another would evolve to take its place," Thanos argued.

"Perhaps, perhaps not. Mutations work in strange ways." The boy's voice was cold. "What was once a viable ecosystem one day can become vulnerable the next, simply because one aspect has been taken away. The chance of mutations occurring in such a way to produce the same kind of being that would allow for fertile offspring is so small, that it's in the nano-percentage."

"But it resets for each individual, as you said," Thanos explained.

"Yes, but a nano-percentage for every possible mutation is extremely low odds." The boy tipped his head down and set his hand on his thigh. "And what if the time of evolution had already passed? What if it were two people, standing in the ashes of their world, looking to save their race? No amount of evolution will catch up to the thousands of years their species had lived on the planet. You would have doomed one person to years of solitude, had they not killed themselves outright."

"This is just conjecture. There is no world like this!" Thanos growled.

"Are you sure?" the boy asked, calm as a still breeze. "Have you gone to every planet to check? Have you seen the consequences of your actions?"

Thanos did not. He knew he was right. His ideology was the only way to save the world, the entire universe. He would not let one child make him regret his actions.

He would kill this boy so he could speak no more. But he would let him finish his argument. It was only fair, after all, if he were to end the boy's life after the Gauntlet had chosen to let the boy live. "You said you had three reasons. The third?"

"The third is rather simple." The boy dropped to his feet from the roof, getting close enough that Thanos would only need to reach out to snap his neck. He held back.

"The third is that you have no clue of who dies and what consequences they leave behind." The boy paced slowly, hands behind his back, cape drifting after him. "A train conductor gone, kills every passenger on his train. Same with pilots and crews of ships. A surgeon leaves his patient to die and a driverless car careens into anyone or anything in its path. Killing half the world kills more with the aftermath."

"I do not see how that could be bad." Thanos tightened his fist. "All the more resources to go around."

"And that aftermath leads to more." The boy paced around him, slow and cautious, but flippant at the same time. He was buying time, Thanos realized. It seemed the boy knew his minutes were numbered. "What becomes of the man left behind with no family? A child with no parents, a father with no son? A lover without their love and a friend with no partner? ... A thief with no detective?"

"They live in the place of their loved ones," Thanos decided, knowing he was right.

"That is where you are wrong." The boy stopped at his side, backs both to the climbing sun. "A man with no ties —no family, friends, or love —such a man as that?" Indigo eyes flicked to him. "Has nothing to lose."

Thanos knew that spark, had seen it in the eyes of an intelligent human, one Thanos knew understood him more than any other creature in the universe. One Thanos had hoped would survive the decimation.

He knew it as a spark of determination, not slain even in death. This boy would never give up, no matter how long it took him to pursue Thanos.

So Thanos had to put an end to him, right here, right now.

He struck fast and hard, hoping to end the child in a single, painless blow.

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito was no fighter.

He taunted and tricked. He laid traps and false leads. When confronted, he caused a distraction and disappeared. It was in his nature, his training. It was who he was. He was no fighter.

But he fought now.

He fought for the empty house beside his and the empty desks at school. He fought for the parents who grieved and the children who didn't understand why their parent never came home. He fought for those in his audience at that heist that had withered away before his very eyes.

He fought for Tantei-kun, who had turned to ash in his arms.

"KID? Is this one of your tricks?"

He fought because he had to. He had nothing left to return for. "Such a man as that? Has nothing left to lose."

Thanos, the giant man, struck out at him, but Kaito was quicker. He danced out of reach, fists tight. There was space between them now. He would have to close in if he was going to accomplish his goal. 

"So you are here to fight me, boy?" Thanos asked, an amused grin on his face. "I will admit. You are fast, but it takes more than that to defeat me."

"I am not trying to defeat you," Kaito said as he put his hands in his pockets, because he wasn't. That was never his goal. No matter how much he wanted to rage against this man, this alien, this monster, he knew he could not. It was suicide for him. He couldn't die, not yet. He had a goal to accomplish first.

"You are the Avengers." KID said.

The group turned on him, wide-eyed and guarded. Their security system blared warnings of an intruder, but he stood calmly before them. The system had been laughably easy to bypass. It gave him little hope for this small group of vigilantes.

"Look, kid." A skinny, exhausted looking man sighed. He may have been Tony Stark once, the man of parties and fame and tabloids. Now, he stood thin from lack of food and tired from weeks in space. His eyes held a sorrow KID knew. He wondered who he'd lost. "We know you've lost someone because we couldn't stop Thanos. Many people have. We’re doing our best to set things right. We can't do that if you attack us."

"I know," KID said. "I'm here to help."

The group started.

"Are you able to track him down?" a blonde man asked. KID didn't know whether he was Captain America or Thor. Frankly, he didn't care. "Can you fight? Do you have super strength or magic or the energy of a supernova?"

"No," KID replied honestly. The group looked disappointed. "But gems have a habit of falling into my hands. I think the Infinity Stones you talked about will be no different."

"Wait." The man who was Tony Stark sucked in a startled breath. "I know of you."

"As for magic," KID continued as if the man had said nothing. "I know a friend who can help."

It had cost a lot to get him here, to this point where he stood facing Thanos on alien land. He couldn't let it go to waste.

The Avengers were counting on him. His friends were counting on him. Tantei-kun was counting on him. He could not fail.

"I am not going to defeat you," Kaito said again, "but I will make it so the next one can."

"Oh?" Thanos smiled cruelly. "And how is that?"

"A magician," —Kaito pressed a finger to his lips— "never reveals his secrets."

Then he flew forward in a billow of cape and determination.

Kaito was not a fighter.

He knew this as he slunk around Thanos' attacks. He knew this as the training the Avengers had pushed him through became instinct. He knew this as his goal flitted in and out of his sight.

He knew this as his time ran down.

"Enough!" Thanos snapped his fingers to dispose of Kaito.

Kaito froze, feeling a jolt go through him, but he remained as he as —panting from exertion, but alive.

Thanos' face darkened. "What? How?"

"Sorry, but your power won't work on me." Kaito shrugged, hands held in a mock of surrender.

"Impossible!" Thanos held up his fist to examine it, but Kaito caught his attention instead. He pulled a necklace from his shirt, displaying it with a coy smile.

"A friend of mine dabbles in the dark arts." He let the charm fall to his chest. "For a price, I am granted immunity to other forces, though only for a limited time."

"That must be quite the price to render my Gauntlet useless." Thanos stared hard at him. "How long?"

"Five minutes? An hour? Who knows?" Kaito held up his hands. "It'll be more than enough for me to complete my task."

Kaito didn't let him think.

He flew in again, deflecting Thanos' fist, feeling the Gauntlet harder than steel under his own glove. They went again, round and round until Thanos grabbed hold of Kaito's cape, but Kaito was prepared. Practiced fingers unclipped it from his shoulders, throwing it at Thanos' face to blind him.

It worked, but in the process, Kaito mis-stepped. Thanos threw off the blinding fabric as Kaito righted himself. A meaty purple hand grabbed him by the collar and bodily threw him from their brawl.

Kaito flew back into a cliff face, slamming into it hard enough to break bones. He fell to the ground, gasping as his lungs struggled for air. He just managed to catch his breath when Thanos stepped up to loom over him.

"I enjoyed our chat and our spar, little bird," Thanos said as he held up the necklace Akako had made. He crushed it to dust. "But I think it's time to clip your wings."

Thanos snapped.

Kaito disappeared, cast into a cloud of feathery down. It felt weird, being scattered like this. Painful and not and distant and close. If he had to spend eternity like this, he would rather have died.

But his task was completed.

The small yellow stone he had spirited to his pocket during their talk turned to soft down, unable to hinder those that came next.

 The green stone he had palmed with that last deflection disintegrated and scattered with him.

And there would be ones to come next.

Because Kaito had not come to this planet alone.

Akako's charm may have made him the only one that could remove the stones, but it wasn’t their only advantage. It may have made him the first line of attack, but it did not make him the last. With two stones out of commission, the Avengers rushed from their hiding places. Thanos met them head on, not knowing what he'd lost until it would be too late.

Task complete, Kaito let his mind scatter with the wind as his body blew away.

*             *             *             *             *

Kaito opened his eyes to an endless sea and yellow sky. The water was still, not a hint of wind or creatures to disturb it. A green skinned girl stood in front of him, but before his eyes, she shifted and changed into someone he recognized. "Tantei-kun..."

Though the being looked like Tantei-kun, Kaito knew, knew, it was not. It held his face, but the usual scowl Kaito met with was gone. Instead, there was polite curiosity, a strangely bland face. This was not Tantei-kun, no matter how much Kaito wished it.

"Was it worth it?" Not-Tantei-kun asked.

Kaito carefully kept his emotions concealed. He didn’t know what the being spoke of, wasn’t sure he wanted to know. “Who are you?”

“I am who you wish to see most in the world,” Not-Tantei-kun answered.

Was he really? Kaito would have thought Aoko or her father, maybe Kaito’s own father, after so many years…

But then he recalled Tantei-kun’s face as it greyed and turned to ash. He knew what happened to Aoko and her father, but seeing it with his own eyes, feeling it with his own hands… That was something he couldn’t forget. Not for a second.

But that left the question…

“How do you know this?” Kaito frowned. “And how do you know what Tantei-kun looks like?”

“I know because he is here with us.” Not-Tantei-kun gestured to the expanse around them. “He is a part of me now. I know because you are part of me too.”

“Part of you…?” Kaito’s eyes widened in shock as his brain made the connection. “You are the Soul Stone.”

Not-Tantei-kun smiled some bland little thing that was wrong, wrong, wrong. “Was it worth it?”

“Was what worth it?” Kaito asked, but the answer was already bubbling up in his chest.

“Was it worth it, selling your soul to the Red Witch?” Not-Tantei-kun asked lightly, as if speaking of the weather. “You promised a lifetime of servitude after the effects of the charm wore off, to the witch who has hunted you for years. Was such a price worth the two Stones you separated from the Gauntlet?”

Kaito thought for a moment.

He thought of the life Akako had in store for him —of many tedious tasks, of giving up searching for the men that had killed his father, of giving up heists and magic and Tantei-kun because she thought them trivial out-right.

He thought of the Avengers —of the few shorts weeks he’d spent with them, of being trained to dodge a five-on-one battle, of the late night strategy meetings and the irrational hatred they earned simply walking the streets, of their drive to fight Thanos and avenge the world anyway.

He thought of the life he’d left behind—of the ashy kitchen he’d walked into while looking for Aoko, of the funeral flowers that decorated half the desks at his school, of the look of shock and fear on Tantei-kun’s face before it fell apart with the wind.

He thought and compared and tried to put a value to even one aspect, but it didn’t matter. His family, his friends, his Tantei-kun, would always outweigh himself. Every. Single. Time.

“Yes.” He finally said to the Stone. “It was worth it.”

The Stone nodded and offered a hand. Unsure of himself, Kaito reached out to take it…

Then he found himself waking up and staring out at a blue sky, the sun past the horizon and eyes staring down at him.

“Well done, KID.” The man who was Tony Stark once again, held out a metal hand to him. “If you hadn’t gotten those two Stones, we would have been goners.”

“We might have been anyway,” Widow said as she pushed her hair away from her bloodied temple. “Even without the Time Stone and Soul Stone, it’s hard to kill someone when you repeatedly turn to mud.”

“Hey, we put priority on the Soul and Time Stones,” Stark argued. “It’s better to deal with mud than to immediately die or have time re-wound on us!”

“I am not complaining, Stark,” Widow said. “I am merely stating a fact.”

Stark grumbled as he helped Kaito to his feet. Thor held the Gauntlet in his hands, ready to re-attach the two Stones Kaito had pilfered. Kaito held out the Time Stone and watched as it adhered itself to the Gauntlet, but when it came time for the Soul Stone, he hesitated.

“How are we going to do this?” Kaito asked. “If we ask for the Soul Stone to put back all the people it had taken, that’s not counting all the ones who died because of accidents. It could put pilots thousands of feet above water, wherever their planes had been at the time. We could be killing some of these people all over again —this time permanently.”

The group exchanged glances, before Thor spoke.

“Before my land was set to be destroyed by Ragnarok, I experienced visions of the future to come,” he explained. “It ultimately led me down the path of ruin and my people to destruction. However, there is a chance the Gauntlet can send a message to those of us in the past who can stop the wheels of Fate before they are set in motion.”

“Dr. Strange would have something to say about messing with the Time-Space Continuum,” Stark muttered aloud. “But right now, it might be the best chance we’ve got.”

“And if it leads us right back to this spot?” Kaito asked.

“Well, at least we know that we’ve got a way to defeat Thanos and get the Gauntlet back,” Captain Rogers said. His blue eyes burned bright and intense as he stared at Kaito. “Give it a shot. If nothing else, we’ll be right back where we started.”

“Me?” Kaito gawked as Thor held the Gauntlet out. “Can a human even use this?”

“We’re about to find out,” Thor answered as Kaito tugged it on. “Think hard about who you want to send the message to. It can’t be too long, or we may not get the warning in time. Concentrate, Child Thief, and send your mind back in time to warn of the coming events.”

Kaito looked down at the Gauntlet, one space left open for the Soul Stone. The gem pulsed in his hand, as if knowing its brethren were near. Kaito took a deep breath, closed his eyes and thought, thought, thought.

He let go of the Stone.

It sealed to the Gauntlet with a ‘click’.

And then…

*             *             *             *             *

Everything was as it should be.

 

 

 

 

Possible Alt Outcome

 Everything was as it should be.

Thanos sat and watched the skies change in a slow rainbow of colors. It was so beautiful on a landscape of emerald dotted with more jewels.

"I can see why you like this place," a voice said. "It is quite beautiful, indeed."

Thanos was out of his seat before he could recognize the other's words. His instincts pushed him to fight, but...

This being looked weak.

The one who spoke was shorter than him by three-quarters. Dressed in a dark suit and red bow-tie, the being’s face was obscured by a set of large glasses. The rising sun cast light over the being’s eyes, but Thanos could still make out pale cheeks rounded with baby fat.

A young human. He thought to himself. Male, because of his voice.

"Are you Thanos, Destroyer of Worlds?" the boy asked, seemingly at peace in his presence. He stood on Thanos’ roof, as if to gain advantage. He needed it, the boy was so short.

"I prefer 'Savior of Worlds' to Destroyer," Thanos said, voice rough. He did not realize how long it had been since he'd used it. His slice of the universe was rather sparse now.

The boy cocked his head to the side, enough that Thanos could make out one calculating sapphire iris. "Oh? Rather prideful, don't you think? How would killing half the universe be ‘saving’ it?"

"By reducing the population of intelligent life, those left behind will prosper by making use of the resources left," Thanos explained for the umpteenth time. "It forces the rich and poor to work together to care for their world, rather than one or the other."

"Perhaps that is true, perhaps it is not." The boy shrugged, hands in his pockets. "But I have to say, choosing the people at random was a mistake."

"How so?"

"Three main reasons." The boy held up two fingers and a thumb. Then he dropped to his knees, one hand going to his shoes and the other to his belt. “Unfortunately for you, only one of them really matters. And that’s the one that led me here.”

An echo of laughter and the vague memory of a wide grin. Obscure dreams that had haunted him for months. The sharp realization of what he had missed. The determination to right his mistake.

A message to lead him to this alien planet in front of this monster, ready for the final fight. One he had to win, no matter what.

Isn’t that right, KID?