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Hakuba was impressed despite himself as he watched KID’s doves fly around the room in eerily perfect formations, as though they were all connected through some kind of hive mind, with KID as the demented queen. Said thief was currently conducting for his doves as they flew around dropping glitter-glue bombs on unfortunate task members. Every single explosion of color timed precisely to the music KID had somehow triggered to begin playing as he appeared. Mentally resigning himself to finding green glitter everywhere for the foreseeable future, Hakuba had the wry thought that ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ was appropriate for a KID heist.

 

 

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Kudo Shinichi sighed in resignation when a body crashed on the table between him and Heiji. As his fellow detective attempted to reassure Kazuha and Ran, he started to analyze the corpse, grimacing at its state. Shinichi understood why the girls were upset, when he and Heiji ran across cases they were usually recent occurrences, and this one—was obviously not. Hearing Kazuha yelling (Don’t tell me it’s nothing, Heiji, I’ll never be able to eat ravioli again!) Shinichi bit back another sigh and pulled out his phone to report the case. Hopefully the Osaka police would be able to identify the victim.

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“Leaving already?”

Shinichi turned in the entryway to see Haibara raising her eyebrows at him, “I need to see Ran.”

“You’ve been gone for years, Kudo,” Haibara gave him a flat look, “Do you really think she’s magnanimous enough to take you back just like that?”

“I’m not expecting her to, Haibara. But now that the last of the Organization is down I can finally tell her about why I disappeared.”

“And Conan?”

“She’ll hate me for it for a while, but yes, she deserves to know.”

“Good luck then Kudo-kun.”

With a final nod to Haibara, Shinichi stepped out the door to as himself for the first time in what felt like forever.

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"Hakuba! You can't believe that note is real." Nakamori growled at the high-school detective.

"It's in his announcement style, and the chirography matches previous notices."

"You're telling me that damn thief is planning to skulk around police headquarters to crash a party!?" Nakamori's volume was rapidly headed towards a roar.

Hakuba grimaced, "The riddle indicates he's after something owned by one of the guests, but without more information I couldn't say what."

Nakamori immediately started barking orders, interspersed with cursing KID's name. Walking away to investigate, Hakuba heard a final shout, "as if we'd let KID get away with stealing from our own headquarters!" before the closing door muffled Nakamori's voice.

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“Ladies and Gentlemen!”

“GET HIM!!”

It had taken less than three seconds after KID’s appearance for the rarefied atmosphere of the Suzuki’s charity ball to descend into chaos. The Task Force had lunged for KID almost instantly, however their plan was mostly foiled by the large number of guests. Those guests were now divided between shouting in anger (those who had been between KID and the Task Force) and cheering with excitement (those who had come with hopes of seeing KID).

KID grinned widely, Such a wonderful start for the night, he thought as he set off his first trick.

 

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In bas-relief a tale is told

Embosomed deep with sacred tales

With brightest moon, on night most cold

A wizard claims the judge’s scales

Conan glared at KID’s most recent notice. He had a good idea what the thief was after this time, though how he planned to take that specific jewel out of the mural without irreparably damaging it he wasn’t sure. The problem (for Conan, that is) was that the building in question was too far from Tokyo. Ran was unlikely to let him miss a day of school just so that he could attend a KID heist.

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“Bakaito! You promised to spend the day with me! If you back out on me, again…” Aoko trailed off threateningly, and Kaito made a face at her.

“But, Aoko,” he whined, “Why do I have to go to a stupid flower class with you? Can’t we do something else?”

“It’s just ikebana, Kaito, it’s not going to kill you.”

“It might! I’ll be bored to death!” Kaito flailed dramatically.

Aoko looked unimpressed. “Fine, don’t come, I’ll just tell Chikage-san you’re a horrible person.”

“What!? Aoko! That’s cheating!” Kaito chased after his friend as she walked away, pouting theatrically when he saw her smug expression.

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Heiji cast an experienced eye over the crime scene that had chosen to drop itself on him and Conan. The not-elementary-schooler was busy complaining that he couldn’t even have a day off, but Heiji saw Conan’s sharp eyes furtively analyzing the scene. Heiji wondered who Conan thought he was fooling.

“Ya might get tha day off after all, Conan, it looks like this criminal slubbered his plannin’.” Ignoring his fellow detective’s odd expression, Heiji made his way over to Takagi to point out several pieces of evidence the killer had carelessly left behind.

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“You’ve been cornered, KID.”

The white-clad thief merely smirked at him. “And yet the only thing between the door and myself is you, Tantei-kun.”

Conan promptly flipped open his watch face and aimed, “You don’t have any tricks that will let you get around me.”

KID made a tsk sound, “Such assumptions Tantei-kun. I assure you you’ve yet to see even a fraction of my repertoire.” His smirk widened as he saw Conan’s increase in wariness. KID shot forward, dodging the dart from Conan’s watch in a blur of movement and spraying sleeping gas directly into the child’s face.

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Shinichi was tired. Not physically, but mentally drained. Another case had just been closed, and the killer’s motive was frankly petty. Murder should not be anyone’s reaction to having their love confession rejected. He really wished people would realize how deleterious murders were, to everyone involved and not just the victim and killer. A woman had killed someone because he’d turned down her best friend, and now everyone who knew either of them was struggling to cope with what had happened. Shinichi thought the fact that cases like this weren’t even unusual only made it worse. He needed a vacation.

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Hakuba watched as the Task Force hurried around making last minute preparations for KID’s heist. Honestly, he didn’t have much confidence that Nakamori’s plan would be able to slow the thief down at all, much less prevent him from absconding with the jewel. To be fair to the Keibu, it probably would have worked—against anyone who wasn’t KID. But Hakuba could see at least three ways for KID to turn this against the officers. Not that they would listen to him; he was still too new. Once he could work with the task force rather than around them, Hakuba felt the thief would find heists much more difficult.

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“Ne, Hakuba-san,” Conan piped up, “isn’t that meaning wrong? It should be ‘to split’ right?”
Hakuba frowned at the heist notice. “Which word are you talking about, Edogawa-kun?”
“This line, look, cleave means ‘to split or sever’, right?”
The older detective pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’re not wrong, Edogawa-kun, but that word is a contranym. It has two definitions...” Hakuba trailed off looking at the rest of the note, “And KID is using both. For all of these. Wonderful.”
Conan blinked, “All of them?”
Hakuba grimaced, “There is a contranym in each line of the notice, which means we need to start over.”

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Kaito was annoyed (and more than a bit alarmed, not that he’d admit it). He’d been coerced into hanging out with Aoko and Hakuba, as well as Kudo Shinichi and Mouri Ran. It would have been fine if Hakuba wasn’t making continual implications that Kaito was KID. At the moment, the only thing keeping Kaito from breaking down and pranking the Brit horribly (and ignoring Aoko's likely retribution) was Kudo’s blatant ignorance of the hints. Kaito prided himself on reading people, and even he couldn’t tell if Kudo was doing it deliberately or was just oblivious.

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It wasn’t often that Shinichi was actively called in for a case. He came across enough incidental murder cases that Megure-keibu only called him specifically for clamant cases. When Megure-keibu called Shinichi in, it was either for a serial killer or a child kidnapping, when Shinichi’s ability to quickly solve a case could mean the difference between life and death. Thus seeing Megure-keibu's name on his phone was enough to wake him instantly. Minutes later, he was out the door and on his way to the scene, cup of instant coffee in hand.

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Nakamori Ginzou glared at the desk in front of him, filled with different plans to finally catch the Kaitou KID. He hated that the ones he felt were most likely to work had the least chance to be allowed to be put in place. That and the damn thief was too labile for a set of pre-planned traps to really work against him. Unfortunately, Nakamori had nothing close to the thief’s ability to change plans in an instant. But he’d be damned if he let KID get away without a fight. Nakamori would catch him, no matter how long it took.

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Shinchi was sitting at a desk in the far corner of Division One’s bullpen, avoiding his parents. They’d discovered somehow (he suspected Agasa) exactly how dangerous taking the APTX antidote had been, and promptly flew back to Japan to smother him. Realistically, no one who knew Shinichi would have any trouble finding him here; he was hoping he could brainstorm a place to bivouac before his mother finished hunting through his friends. Agasa and the Mouri’s were out, and although Heiji would try to help, he was too horrible at lying to actually hide Shinichi’s presence. Maybe he could crash with Akai?

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“We’re going to watch this one!” Aoko declared.

“Eh? A whole movie?! Is it even subtitled?” Kaito argued.

“You're good at English, you can explain if it gets confusing.”

“But—“

“It says it’s comedy, with adventures and sword-fighting.”

“A movie about swashbucklers? Ahoko, why didn’t you say that from the start?”

“Swash-buckle…What are you talking about Bakaito?”

“It’s got awesome adventures and sword-fighting, so it must be swashbucklers!”

Aoko stared at Kaito’s dramatic pose for a moment before rolling her eyes and shoving him off the couch.

“OI!”

“Since Bakaito isn’t sitting, you can put the movie in.”

 

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Takagi had been dismayed to find out he’d been assigned to a desk, effectively banned from taking active cases after getting injured. That was before he’d seen the contents of the file on said desk. He’d been going through the collection, taking notes as he put together potential clues, for three days now. Holding up the threat letter that had confirmed his conclusion, Takagi grabbed the other officers’ attention as he stood.

Any onlookers would have gaped in awe if they were able to see an entire Division of Tokyo’s police galvanized into action by three short words:

“They’re targeting Conan.”

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“Whoever decided to call you a gentleman thief has clearly never met you in person.” He felt the comment was justified, having just dodged a series of traps that left the Taskforce stuck to the wall in a variety of embarrassing poses.

“How rude, Tantei-san. I take pride in being a gentleman, you know? All my shows are planned with utmost prévenance.”

Hakuba snorted derisively at KID and dryly responded, “Yes, Nakamori-keibu has a great need to be stuffed into atrocious costumes.”

The white-clad thief smirked in response. “I’m merely helping my audience to be well-dressed.”

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This...was not what he had expected to happen. To be honest, after coming to terms with being shrunk, he'd only had wishful dreams of returning to his life just as soon as he caught the men who'd poisoned him. Those dreams had been crushed the instant he truly understood the scope of the Black Organization. And now, Shinichi was faced with the detritus that was left of his life in the aftermath of the takedown. He'd completely missed four years, his friends only knew he'd disappeared...and Shinichi was alone, trying to pick up enough pieces to make a life he actually wanted to live.

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Bourbon listened to the feed from the recorder Vermouth was carrying as the woman verbally lured her contact into a trap; so subtly he doubted the unfortunate man would realize what had happened until it was far too late. It was like seeing a spider slowly reeling in its prey on a gossamer thread, until it was inescapably caught in the center of the web. He resolved to increase his vigilance any time he was in the woman’s presence, so that he’d have a chance to counter anything she became bored enough to throw in his way.

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Hakuba Saguru sometimes wondered what people were expecting when they asked him about the most challenging/strange cases he’d solved. True, his average cases tended to be significantly less outré than Kudo’s (barring KID heists, which were their own special version of bizarre) but Saguru had run into his fair share of truly strange crimes. Saguru had a feeling that most of them were attempting to get him to gossip about KID heists; the thief was basically a celebrity to the media. With some of the worst gossipers he described cases that would be too disturbing to pass on, just to spite them.

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Heiji frowned down at his best friend, who was currently examining yet another body. The reactions of the officers on scene indicated that Shinichi’s involvement with the case was both expected and axiomatic. Seeing as the Heisei Holmes had only returned to being full-sized three months ago, that implied Shinichi was encountering a worrying number of cases. Heiji didn’t know the officers who’d shown up by name, but neither of them had made more than a token effort to investigate and take statements before standing back and watching the teenagers. Maybe he could get Otaki-han to shame the Tokyo division into doing their collective jobs?

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Shinichi really wished his mother was less crazy about getting him to ‘meet someone’. She’d ambushed him as he was getting back from his latest case and dragged him to get clothes before heading to this party. Shinichi had then been steered around the room and introduced to what felt like every single woman present, except there were still more. Being paraded around like this was bad enough, but the girl in front of him started to simper at him while fluttering her eyelashes, and Shinichi was just done. The second his mom’s grip loosened enough, he was leaving.

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Saguru stared blankly at Nakamori-keibu for a few moments before asking, “You’re doing what?”

“I’m assigning you to lead a squad during the next KID heist,” Nakamori repeated impatiently, “Do your best to break their viridity and assumptions of invincibility without letting them get traumatized enough they all quit, would you?”

Suspicions roused, he asked cautiously, “Who exactly will be in this squad?”

Nakamori-keibu’s response was to shove a handful of papers at him. Taking the papers, he let himself out of the office. Glancing at the names listed Saguru grimaced; KID would trounce the lot in seconds.

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Conan blinked bemusedly at the sight in front of him. He’d arrived late to the KID heist tonight due to having to wait longer than he’d thought to escape Ran’s supervision. Looking at the state of the museum room, he was glad he’d been late.

The entire room looked like it had been tie-dyed, including the Task force members still chasing KID around the room. There was glitter suffusing the air of the room, thick clouds of it following in KID’s wake. Conan settled in the doorway to watch; he couldn’t risk tracking the glitter back with him after all.

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I’ll probably have to use spitzenburgs, Kaito mused to himself, although pomegranates would be more on theme…really, whose idea was it to call this one Persephone’s heart?

He frowned at the blueprints in front of him as he went over the needed setup in his head. I doubt I can manage to get that many pomegranates at this time of year…would Jii-chan know who to get them from?

Kaito considered the amount of time before the planned heist (still need to send that notice) and made a decision. Worst comes to worst, I can paint them to look like pomegranates.

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Sonoko squealed in delight. There was a new emporium opening downtown, it would be perfect for a shopping spree! Better yet, the place had advertised that they specialized in KID-sama's merchandise! Looking through the advertisement, Sonoko wanted to buy everything, which wasn't surprising; it was her KID-sama after all. She would have to plan to get there early, it wouldn't do to sleep in and arrive late only to find everything was sold out. They were even having an opening sale; Sonoko couldn't wait to get her hands on one of those KID-sama plushies!

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Saguru was beginning to be exasperated by KID’s antics, and it wasn’t because he was a teenage prankster thief. He would admit (if only to himself) that the thief was annoyingly hard to catch, but that was only a miniscule part of his frustration. No, Saguru was exasperated because the damn thief seemingly insisted on being morally ambiguous. He knew Kuroba, well enough to know the prankster wouldn’t just become a thief for his own amusement. There were extenuating circumstances that convinced the idiot that becoming a thief was the only good plan, and Kuroba refused to share them!

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Conan’s eyes sharpened as the individual pieces of evidence he’d observed coalesced into a conclusive picture. It was unfortunate that the picture included shady hit-men who were possibly involved with the BO; Conan would have to be much more careful than just ‘hinting’ his observations to the police. To be honest, he’d half been expecting something like this because something a detective and the police force could deal with easily wouldn’t have led to this situation in the first place. No, now the hard part would be convincing his friendly rival that working together would solve things much more efficiently.

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"How narrow can ya get identifyin' where foliaceous plant matter is from?"

The forensic analyst frowned at him in confusion, "The type of plant is doable, but if it's common there could be a large area where it might be grown, why?"

Heiji held up a picture of the crime scene, "Tha guy didn't have any plants in his apartment, and tha only trees around tha buildin' shed needles, not leaves. This," he held up an evidence bag holding a single leaf, "woulda been tracked in by someone else if tha guy was home all day like his landlady said."

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“We think KID delivered a new notice.”

He blinked at the officer’s abrupt greeting before cautiously asking, “You think?”

The man held out a photocopy and Saguru frowned at the apparent gibberish followed by the usual doodle. “I see,” he murmured, “the KID doodle looks authentic…I believe this is written with a runic alphabet, possibly futhark.”

“So you can read it?” The officer interrupted eagerly.

“No. I need to research a bit to determine if this is futhark or a different alphabet, and it will probably take a while to translate, since it’s likely KID did something other than straight transliteration.”

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“How did you do it?”

“I have my ways.”

Conan huffed in annoyance, “James-san basically admitted the FBI would be thrilled to work with you, the internationally wanted criminal.”

“Tantei-kun, no self-respecting magician would divulge their secrets just like that,” KID replied with a teasing grin.

Conan crossed his arms and gave the thief a flat stare, “What did you tell them.”

“Oh, just some interesting information they’d overlooked.” Conan waited expectantly, and KID made a placating gesture, “Nothing that would hurt me, Tantei-kun, no need to be so concerned.”

His grin widened as Conan spluttered with embarrassment at being read so easily.

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KID cheerily greeted the officers gathered below him, grinning wickedly as his trick caused even Nakmori to silently gape in disbelief. It had taken a lot of effort to set this up in time for the heist; it would have been disappointing if his Taskforce just ignored his magic show. He strolled casually towards his target, retrieving it from the case with ease as the police continued to stare in bewilderment.

The Taskforce watched in confusion as KID proceeded to glide with flexuous, eerily graceful movements out of the hall; having done all of it while hovering seven feet above the floor.

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“Hey, you guys—“

“Who are you? You won’t be able to stop our grand plan!” Genta proclaimed with a glare.

“Isn’t it obvious looking at his strange outfit? He’s tellurian.” Conan looked at Haibara deadpan as the other three all paused in confusion.

“Ah!” Ayumi exclaimed, “Could he be the famous Tellurian?!”

“Ahahaha…” Deciding an explanation would be too troublesome; Conan went with it, “So my reputation precedes me.”

Mitsuhiko immediately shouted “Be wary! He’s able to read the secrets of any opponent he faces!”

At least they’re not walking into traffic anymore, Conan thought as he was dragged into their game.

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“Your scolding was more caustic than usual.”

Glancing to where Conan was slumped in the backseat next to her she pointed out, “You didn’t stop me.”

“Maybe next time they’ll listen when we say it’s dangerous.” Haibara stayed silent, and Conan continued, “I almost didn’t make it this time; if I had been a few seconds slower…” the edge of fear in his voice was clearer than she’d ever heard when they were facing the Black Organization.

“Next time we’ll make sure they can’t sneak off anywhere.”

“What; lock them up?”

“If we have to,” she smirked as Conan laughed and finally relaxed.

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“…and of course, his lambent wit only adds to KID-sama’s gentlemanly character!”

“How would you know, you’ve never talked to him,” Conan interrupted, having been forced to listen to Sonoko squealing about KID for far too long today.

“As if you'd know any better brat,” huffed Sonoko.

Conan made a face at her before returning to his book. If I told her how often we talk after heists she’d never shut up, he thought. Mentally groaning as Sonoko resumed her litany of “KID-sama’s” he decided to go find the Shounen Tantei; at least they would only talk about catching KID.

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Kaito felt himself grinning widely as he spotted a familiar distinctive hairstyle near Hakuba and Nakamori-keibu. He hadn’t been this eager for his heist to begin in a while.

Making his entrance standing on the display case of his target, he bowed theatrically towards the detective, exclaiming, “Meitantei! Allow me to offer my felicitations on your return!”

His grin turned mischievous as the Heisei Holmes responded with amusement, “From what Conan told me, I wasn’t expecting this kind of friendly greeting, KID-san.”

“A magician can’t let his audience be disappointed,” Kaito teased as he dodged the Taskforce and began the chase.

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Just looking at KID’s latest notice was giving Saguru a headache. In a complete departure from his usual style, the thief had apparently chosen to model his notice after a medieval illuminated manuscript. Except, instead of single letters, entire words had been historiated, using the most blindingly bright colors of ink possible. Thus the notice became an eye-watering, headache-inducing eyesore. Saguru couldn’t even examine a black and white copy instead; as it was very likely the decoration was the note rather than being just garish distraction, so the colors were probably symbolic as well.

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The Taskforce falters as KID’s trap activates, turning the floor beneath them abruptly slick and sending those who continue the chase skidding across the room. Shinichi, seeming unfazed, goes into a controlled slide across the slick patch of floor and promptly retaliates.

KID dodges the black and white ball with aplomb as it ricochets around the room, whistling in appreciation as it bounces to a stop in front of the detective.

“Impressive, Tantei-kun. How long did it take to calculate all those rebounds?”

Shinichi smirks, “Aren’t you always saying not to reveal secrets?”

KID grins with theatric excitement, “Tantei-kun! You’re becoming a magician!”

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Shinichi was planning; sprawled on the couch in the apartment he'd found as soon as Haibara had assured herself the antidote had no unexpected side-effects. The Black Organization had finally been dismantled enough for him to go out in public without a disguise. He knew that as soon as the media caught wind of his 'return' he'd be bombarded by reporters. Thus he was planning an exoteric story so he wouldn't contradict himself. He also needed to sort out which details he would share with the Police (and who he might be able to tell about Conan).

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Mouri Ran was on the warpath. Sato-keiji had informed her just minutes earlier that the station had received a series of letters threatening her young charge. Ran had nearly broken her cellphone when hearing the news due to gripping it too tightly, and rushed to the station to demand to know what the police were doing to protect Conan from the threat sender.

 Those not familiar with her were shocked at the usually genial girl’s deadly aura and terrifying expression as she stormed through the police station towards Division One, leaving cringing officers in her wake.

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Saguru was unsure what had brought Edogawa Conan and his guardians to Ekoda, but he was beginning to think there was more truth to the rumors than he’d initially believed. It seemed every time he’d met the young detective they had encountered a case, and Saguru had noticed Conan’s astonishing ability to notice clues that others seemed to miss.

“How can you stand to listen to his maundering through every case like this?” he hissed to Conan as Kogoro immediately jumped to conclusions about the case.

The child detective looked up from scanning the ground for clues with a huff, “I don’t. Listen, that is.”

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Being a child was frustrating—and it wasn’t because it was difficult to get the police to listen when a case happened, he’d found ways around that. He’d gotten to know Sato-keiji and Takagi-keiji well enough by now that he could give them the right hints without blatantly knowing more than he should; and if hints didn’t work, well, there was always his watch.

No, the most frustrating thing about being a child again was that he was just too small. It was the everyday minutiae of life, so many things that he was used to doing for himself as Shinichi that were impossible as Conan.

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Kaito was pouting down at the plans for his next heist. He already knew that it was going to be far too easy—he was really missing Tantei-kun, and the tiny detective had only missed one heist!

Thankfully for his need to be challenged, Hakuba was usually too canny to fall for the same trick more than once. He almost never went after the dummies for example, while the Taskforce…well; their favorite strategy was still ‘dogpile’. Kaito was seriously hoping Nakamori-keibu came up with something creative enough it would force Kaito to plan around it…maybe he should send his notice early?

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When Conan caught the words ‘KID-sama’s heist’ in the midst of Sonoko’s chattering to Ran, he couldn’t keep from listening in. He might have felt guilty for eavesdropping, but with his daily life comprised of kiddie school and murder cases, KID heists were probably a major reason he was still sane. Chasing the thief was always an exhilarating challenge, and that he could drop the child-act around the thief was a bonus he couldn’t give up. If Conan was honest with himself, he didn’t think about catching KID anymore—not when he felt more alive during heists than he had since he’d been shrunk.

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Kaito’s classmates regarded him with consternation as he sat calmly at his desk, appearing to take notes. Of course, they had no way of knowing that he was actually doing calculations for the newest trick he was planning. Hakuba probably would have figured it out had he been present, but as he was currently off in England (on some kind of case? Kaito hadn’t paid much attention) Kaito didn’t need to worry about keeping the nosy detective out of his plans. He’d seen an outline of this trick in his father’s notes, and Kaito was determined to make it work.