Heiji was on the street beat that night again.
“Don’t work yourself too hard, Hattori-kun, and sleep early once in a while,” the police chief liked to say, but the reality was, that wasn’t really an option. There was only one Genius High School Detective in all of Western Japan (around Tokyo there was that Hakuba guy, but he spent most his time wrapped up in Kaito Kid cases), and that was Heiji. Just one of him to hundreds and hundreds of unsolved cases.
In his first week Heiji sat down in the cold case room and went over the cases one by one and shelled out the ones he thought could be solved if he went over the evidence again. One sleepless month later and the police department’s cold case room was two-thirds empty.
But it wasn’t enough. There was still more work to be done, so he did it. He was a ‘Special Consultant,’ Sherlock Holmes style, which should have been awesome, except Sir Doyle never wrote about how exhausting it was to be shipped from police department to police department, how the most sleep he ever got were the snatches of hours on the train, how he never had time to respond to Kazuha’s emails or texts and most contact he had with her and his other friends was falling asleep on the line as they told him about their lives.
Someone had to do it.
Heiji was on the beat this time for a series of what looked to be serial murders. Heiji expected to be done by morning. Serial murders were always gruesome, but the killers were more likely disorganized than organized, and thus easy to track. Witnesses were easy, too. Everyone remembers that one guy who acts uncommonly creepy.
Easiest, though, about serial killers, was that they always had to leave some kind of calling card. Unless they were some kind of home-grown terrorist group in which case they kill indiscriminately, they’ll have a victim type and some modus operandi that made them easy to identify. In this case, the victims were completely drained of blood, and the only external wounds were two pinpricks on the wrist of every victim. Not a single trace of spilt blood was found at the scene, nor, as Heiji found, donated at any blood banks (curiously they had been missing blood bags), found in the water supply, in the river, or any other place blood might be disposed. Not a single store in the area had records of large amounts of Tupperware bought or stolen. Heiji couldn’t think of a single trick that could pull it off, which had never happened to him before in his life.
So obviously it could only be vampires.
The police chief had laughed. “Take the night off,” he had said, slapping Heiji on the back so hard he almost slammed into the wall.
Except Heiji was definitely not crazy. See, unlike a certain Hakuba, Heiji believed “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Thank you, Sherlock Holmes. Since it wasn’t possible for a human to carry out these murders, it was obviously a vampire. Honestly, proving vampires existed would be easier than to prove these murders were carried out by a person, or a group of people, even—unless, the entire city was in on the murders, which was statistically less likely than a vampire existing.
Which was why he was hitting up the sites of the murders in the hopes that the vampire would be back. It’d be best if he could get his questions answered directly.
But obviously it’d be foolish to expect a vampire to just show itself when he was tromping around, so he had a plan.
Heiji cupped his hands around his mouth. “Hey, vampire, I know you’re out here!”
He’s been shouting at every crime scene. Someone’s got to answer at one of them.
Disappointed, Heiji turned away and was about to leave when he saw something rustle at the corner of his eye. Without hesitating he pounced, crashing into whatever it was. It felt like a solid wall playing dress-up in a blazer.
“Oi, dude, what are you doing?”
Heiji stumbled backwards, but smoothly drew his shinai and leveled it at the creature. “Reveal yourself, vampire.”
“What, wait, what? Oh my god, are you serious?”
Two white hands emerged into the streetlight first, followed by a pale face. The vampire was a young man, probably around Heiji’s age when he was turned, with dark hair and blue eyes, and, as expected, uncommonly white skin. He was dressed in a blue blazer and semi-professional slacks. “Hey, are you lost? Do you need help?” he said, hands still in the air.
Heiji rolled his eyes. “I don’t need help; I’m the Great Detective of Japan,” he said.
The vampire’s eyes lit up. “Oh, great, I’m Kudo Shinichi; are you investigating this case, because I’ve hit a few blocks myself—”
Heiji jabbed his shinai at Kudo to make him shut up. “You know about this case too? Then you are investigating this case from the inside?”
Kudo squinted at him. “Uh, it’s been all over the news—”
“Look here, vampire, it’s no use trying to hide your identity. I’m onto you. Tell me what you know about your fallen comrade.”
“Oh my god, are you for real? Are you seriously the Great Detective of Japan? Vampires don’t exist.”
Heiji hated talking to plebeians. “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable…”
“Must be the truth, I know,” Kudo finished for him. “But vampires should have been the first thing you crossed off on your list. Idiot.”
“What has not been disproven cannot be impossible,” Heiji reminded, and with a quick flick of the wrist, threw the small bag he had been hiding in his sleeve at Kudo.
“Argh, what the hell!” Kudo flinched out of the way, but in his motion to duck, the back of his left hand brushed against the bag. “Jesus!” Kudo snapped his hand back up, but it was too late. The back of his hand began to smoke and Heiji’s eyes glinted with triumph. “Why do you not just let up! Vampires don’t exist.”
Heiji tossed him a look that asked who he thought he was fooling, and Kudo sighed.
Keeping his shinai’s business end pointed at Kudo, who was now cowering on the ground holding still smoking hand to his chest, Heiji began to move towards the bag, circling around Kudo. “I can’t believe you didn’t expect me to do my homework! Arrogance will be your undoing, you know.”
Mashing his face into his palm, Kudo grumbled, “I can’t believe this little brat isn’t dead yet.”
“So what was it?” Heiji said, scooping the bag up from the ground. “The garlic? The silver cross? The holy water?”
Kudo glared. “None of those, moron. Suppose vampires exist. Then what? They’re the undead—something that is both dead and alive at the same time, so what do you suppose they fear? Not death. Not life. They fear what’s in-between—spirit. What’s in that stupid bag of yours that has spirit attached to it?”
Heiji snapped his fingers. “The cross then.”
Still wincing slightly, Kudo stood up on wobbly feet. “It’s not just the symbol for Christianity. It’s anything that involves spirit—usually that’s religion, although it’s ethnocentric to even think that just one culture’s chosen religion is the end-all-be-all—”
“Are you still trying to say there’s no vampires, vamp?” Heiji interrupted with a smirk.
Kudo growled. “There’s no such thing—”
Heiji mimed throwing the bag at Kudo’s head, and Kudo flinched.
“So what are you even doing back here?” Heiji continued. “Come back to gloat, come back to relive your crimes?”
“No!” Kudo shouted, frustrated. “I’m here to solve them. I thought this looked suspiciously like a vampire’s work too, and wanted to check it out.”
Heiji arched an eyebrow.
Kudo threw up his hands. “What? You need proof?”
Heiji did, but now that he had the vampire at his mercy he wasn’t entirely certain what kind of proof he could get. Unless… “Show me your fangs,” he said.
“Show me your fangs,” Heiji repeated, sheathing his shinai crowding Kudo up against the alley wall.
“I don’t have—”
Heiji dangled the pouch in front of Kudo’s eyes.
“Jesus Christ,” Kudo swore, and with a soft snick, two long, sharp fangs rolled out of his mouth like a snake.
Ah, sweet, delicious proof.
Kudo observed him closely from under half-lidded eyes. “You bluffed,” he accused.
“Called it,” Heiji said smugly. “Well, you don’t bluff when you can’t at least pretend you can’t make good on your threats. But honestly, you know what gave you away?” he said as he poked and prodded at Kudo’s fangs. It looked like once the vampire extended them, they locked into place just like any other teeth. He removed his cap and tried to use a fang to poke a hole in it. Aha—as expected, the fang went easily through the fabric, but not the cardboard rim.
“Whfph ah yough douphin—” Kudo protested.
Heiji ignored him. “When you told me the weakness of vampires. While spiritual stuff sounds appealing, sure, I’d already proposed the Christian cross, and you, reflexively, said that’s wrong, before making up some bullshit answer that points to the clichéd Christian cross as the real reason. You lie well, vamp, but not well enough.”
“So what? You gonna kill me?” Kudo snarled, eyes flashing. “Some detective you are. Jumping to conclusions, assuming things without any proof—”
“Oh, I have proof.”
Kudo shrank back immediately, withdrawing his fangs. “What?”
Heiji released him and stepped back a few paces. “See, there are fang-holes in the bodies of each victim. We studied the cells around each puncture wound and found that only the most immediate cells around the wound were harmed. It was a ridiculously clean wound. That means whatever punctured the victim’s wrist—”
“Had to have been extremely sharp,” Kudo realized. “But I’ve been around for a long time, and I’ve been drinking out of blood bags—”
“Aha,” Heiji said.
“—So when you tried to rip my teeth out with the brim of your hat…”
“I was testing how sharp they were,” Heiji confirmed. “Anything sharp enough to make clean cuts like that should be sharp enough to cut straight through the cardboard in my hat.”
“What if I didn’t use my teeth?” Kudo said. “I could have used a sharp knife, or a needle.”
“The only thing that could have made a hole like that would probably be a pretty thick needle, not a sharp knife. Needles that thick aren’t very sharp. And, it’s more than likely you would have left some trace of blood on the crime scene—but there aren’t any,” Heiji explained.
“Exactly,” Kudo said.
They shared a look of smug satisfaction, basking in the glory of kindred spirits.
“Then you’re point on this case?” Kudo said, bringing them bock back to reality.
Heiji nodded. “Yeah.”
“I realize I’m in no position to ask for a favor but…” Kudo trailed off, biting his lower lip uncertainly.
Heiji broke into a wide smile and slung an arm around Kudo’s neck. “Yeah, I’ll bring you in as a consultant. I think you’ve proven your worth here tonight, plus it’ll be good to have someone on the inside. What should I call you?”
“Just say I’m a consulting detective. I’ve worked with the police before a few times. Kudo Shinichi,” Kudo said.
Heiji side-eyed him. “I won’t insult your intelligence by asking if you have papers, so don’t forget to bring those in. Drop by the station tomorrow morning and I’ll bring ya in. You, uh, got a place to go for the night?”
Kudo laughed. It sounded like a treebranch snapping off a tree in the middle of winter from high winds. “Yeah, yeah, I can take care of myself. Look forward to working with you,” he said, ducking out from under Heiji’s arm and running off into the night. Heiji thought he saw a tree rustle as Kudo disappeared.
Heiji looked up into the sky. All in all, it had been a very productive night. He had proved vampires exist, and gained an ally in his investigation. Kudo Shinichi had proven to possess a very sharp mind.
He grinned. He was looking forward to this.