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Cut Scenes: Fall into Flying

Chapter Text

Case 4.5 – Waking

 

He saw it from a distance – the car, that same car, colliding with a person this time.

Then he was there, kneeling in the street where blood was smeared and a young man with dark, messy hair was lying.

There was no one in the car. He reached for the door handle and froze.

Driver’s door closed. Engine off. Keys gone. Tires pointed straight ahead. Headlights out – no, off. Airbag deployed but punctured. No fingerprints.

“Tantei-kun.”

Shinichi turned from the car. The young man in the street was gone.

“…KID–?”

 

Shinichi suddenly flinched awake. He’d tried to reach out but his arm had gotten caught in the twist of the blanket draped over him.

“What…?”

He was lying on the couch in his sitting room and he sat up slowly, his muscles sore and his body stiff but his mind much clearer than it had been when he’d–

“Wait, how’d I get here?”

Shinichi closed his eyes and tried to focus, recalling a careful touch he’d thought he’d dreamed, and someone gathering him into their arms. Carrying him. Laying him gently on the couch. He looked down at the blanket in his lap again and his eyebrows creased together.

“Did… KID…?”

His hand went to his head and he looked around the room. Nothing seemed out of place. His phone was still in his pocket, so he pulled it out, checking the time. It was already past noon. Getting up slowly, Shinichi made his way into the foyer. His house key was lying on the floor just inside the door.

That’s right, he thought. I… collapsed right after I shut the door. He tried the handle, but the door was locked. “I’m sure I didn’t…” Looking down at the key again, he let out a sigh, but couldn’t help smiling just a little.

I guess I have to thank you, KID, he thought. He knelt and picked up the key, smirking down at it. But if you break into my house again, I’ll catch you for sure.

Chapter Text

Case 16.5 – Into the Fold

 

“Hey, Sonoko,” Shinichi said slowly, looking around at the endless expanse of trees flanking the road. “Are you sure we took the right bus?”

“Of course I am. Look.” Sonoko held her phone out right in front of Shinichi’s face and he struggled to focus his eyes on the email on the screen. It was from Makoto, explaining that he had made arrangements for Sonoko at a little-known hot spring resort and instructing her to take some friends. Shinichi couldn’t blame him for not wanting her to go alone. These sorts of trips always seemed to end in trouble, after all.

Shinichi took the phone from Sonoko’s hand and scrolled down to the instructions Makoto had provided for how to get to the resort. They had, in fact, taken the correct bus. Apparently the resort was just a quick walk from where they had been dropped off.

“All right,” Shinichi said, handing the phone back and ignoring Sonoko’s look of smug satisfaction. “This way, right?” And he, Sonoko, Ran, and Kaito headed into the trees.

 

It was dusk by the time the group finally spotted the resort and all of them were exhausted.

“That’s Kyogoku-kun’s idea of a quick walk?” Kaito breathed out, reaching for the shoji door and shoving it aside. The four piled in and Sonoko sank to her knees right there on the floor.

“We finally made it!” she cried.

“Welcome!”

Everyone looked up to see a willowy old woman standing in the entranceway.

“You must be Kyogoku-kun’s friends. My name is Murota Mamiko. Please enjoy yourselves! Would you like a tour?”

Sonoko groaned and folded over.

“Um, maybe just point us toward the room for now,” Ran said, apologetic. “It’s… kind of a long walk to get here.”

“Of course!” Mamiko replied cheerfully. “There’s nothing like a soak in the hot spring after an invigorating hike through nature.”

“Invigorating. Right,” Kaito said under his breath.

“Maybe dinner before the hot spring,” Shinichi suggested and four stomachs growled in agreement. Mamiko laughed.

“Of course. I was expecting you so it’s almost ready. Your room is upstairs. Go on and settle in and I’ll bring it up to you.”

 

The room was large and open, with four cushions already set out around a low table, and a cool spring breeze blowing in from the balcony. They dropped their bags in a corner and Ran went out onto the balcony to look out over the trees. Sonoko sprawled on the tatami mats and threw an arm over her eyes with a dramatic sigh.

“I know Makoto-san was, like, worried about my health or whatever but normal people don’t just hike up a mountain for relaxation.”

“Your health?” Shinichi said skeptically. His eyes were on Kaito, watching him take in the room. He could practically hear him noting each potential exit.

“He says I’ve seemed stressed lately, but it’s just the usual stuff with my mom and her ‘upholding the Suzuki family name’ speeches,” Sonoko replied.

It wasn’t long before a soft knock came at the door and Mamiko slid it open.

“Dinner is ready,” she announced, shifting a number of trays through the doorway.

“Hey, are you running this place all alone?” Kaito asked, already at the door to help bring the food to the table.

“Oh yes,” Mamiko replied. “It’s a small place – you’re the most guests I’ve had all at once in a long while.”

Once everything was set out, Mamiko excused herself. “Just leave the dishes in the hallway when you’re finished,” she said. “The hot spring is open any time you like as well.”

She beamed at them as they thanked her, then slid the door softly shut again.

 

“That was delicious,” Ran said, leaning back a little.

“No kidding,” Kaito agreed. “Don’t be too hard on Kyogoku-kun, Suzuki-chan. That meal alone might have been worth the hike.”

Sonoko blushed a little and subtly reached for her phone, opening a text with a smile. Shinichi shifted over and opened the door to the hallway and they started gathering up the dishes. "What do you guys think? It’s not too late; should we hit the hot spring?”

“Definitely!” Sonoko and Kaito both said.

They finished stacking the dishes and each took a yukata from the wardrobe in the corner before heading back downstairs, but something made Shinichi stop short.

“Kaito… did you just yawn?” he asked, staring.

“Huh. Yeah, I guess I did,” Kaito answered.

“Why is that strange?” Ran asked. “I think we’re all pretty tired, especially after that big meal.”

“Don’t fall asleep in the hot spring like your dad,” Sonoko teased, elbowing Ran.

The spring was split in two by a tall wooden fence that led right up to the resort’s two changing rooms. Shinichi and Kaito headed into one and Ran and Sonoko disappeared into the other.

Shinichi yawned as he pulled a bin from the shelf for his clothes. “Now you’ve got me doing it,” he accused somewhat sleepily and with no real malice. He started on the buttons of his shirt and Kaito turned away.

“So, um…” he started awkwardly and Shinichi stopped cold, a dark blush heating his face.

“Oh, I, uh– I wasn’t really thinking. Guess I’m more tired than I thought. Is this weird? You know, since we’re–”

I’m fine with it,” Kaito assured him quickly, though he did not turn back around. He could feel his face warming and Shinichi did not need to see him blushing like an idiot over nothing. “I mean, it’s not like anything’s gonna happen just ‘cause–”

Something clattered.

“Kaito–”

Kaito turned immediately, his train of thought wiped away by the weakness and urgency in Shinichi’s voice.

“Shinichi!” Kaito dashed to Shinichi’s side just in time to catch him, and he sank to the floor with Shinichi half resting in his lap. “Hey! Shinichi!” Shinichi’s eyelids fluttered, clearly trying to open, but he lost the battle and went limp in Kaito’s arms. “What the hell?” Kaito’s eyes moved over him carefully but he didn’t seem to be hurt in any way. He pressed his fingers to the side of Shinichi’s neck just to be sure but the pulse there was steady and strong, if a little slow. It was almost as if… “No way,” Kaito murmured. “He’s asleep.”

It didn’t take years of experience with sleep gas and other similar strategies for Kaito to realize Shinichi had been drugged.

But we all ate the same food, he thought, carefully laying Shinichi on the floor. I’m mostly immune – the worst I’ll probably see is slowed reaction time. But Ran and Sonoko…

There was a distant crash and Kaito jolted to his feet, but he hesitated, looking down at Shinichi. Whoever did this… they drugged us, but they didn’t poison us. There’s got to be another stage to this. Another purpose. If I’m quick… He took off, pushing himself to sprint toward the sound and found Mamiko in her room. It looked like she’d picked up her own dinner tray then passed out, the empty dishes strewn in pieces across the floor. Kaito hardly paused, just gathered her into his arms and hurried back to the changing room where he’d left Shinichi. As he went, he saw the door to the women’s side standing open. Tch. What the hell is going on?

Kaito laid Mamiko beside Shinichi and quickly checked for injuries but it seemed she’d only been drugged as well. I guess that rules her out, he thought. Is there someone else here? He edged back out of the room, keeping one eye on the doorway as much as he could as he peered into the women’s changing area. Ran was there, lying on the floor, and he swore softly, running over to pick her up. Sonoko was nowhere to be seen. Shit… He took Ran back to the other changing room and laid her with Mamiko and Shinichi.

Do I go looking for Sonoko? I shouldn’t leave them alone but she could be in big trouble. I doubt she walked out of here on her own…

There was a soft sound from the floor and Kaito knelt quickly to shake Shinichi’s shoulder. “Shinichi? Shinichi, you need to wake up; we’re in trouble here.”

Shinichi started to move and Kaito breathed out a sigh of relief. I should have known. Not even tasers keep him down for long. “Come on, Tantei-kun, get up–” He cut himself off at a faint click and the squeak of hinges from somewhere in the resort. Hinges…? Kaito thought. That would have to be either the bathroom or the basement.

Shinichi was already struggling to his hands and knees so Kaito took off, out of the room and around the corner to the hallway where an unfamiliar young man was standing in front of the open basement door. He was holding an unconscious Sonoko under her arms as if he’d just dragged her there, and even as Kaito ran for them the man shoved Sonoko through the doorway. Kaito just barely pushed past him in time to grab on to her, and he and Sonoko fell together down the staircase just inside the door.

Clutching Sonoko tightly to himself, Kaito managed to catch the railing with one hand and cut their fall short without too much damage to either of them. He looked up. The man standing at the top of the stairs looked surprised, but only for a moment. Then he smirked and shut the door, throwing Kaito and Sonoko into near-complete darkness. Kaito heard a key turn in the lock.

“You have got to be kidding me,” he muttered. He shifted carefully under Sonoko until he could pick her up, feeling around to get his footing and stand on the stairs. The only light was the thin outline of the door above, and Kaito headed down, away from it, laying Sonoko on the floor at the bottom.

“You’re okay, right?” he murmured, checking her for injuries as best he could in the dark. When he felt mostly sure that Sonoko’s situation was the same as the others’ he moved on to check her pockets but they were just as empty as his.

“Of course. No one takes their phone or their lock picks down to a hot spring,” he whispered bitterly to himself. Giving up on that, he tried to feel around in the basement for anything that could help him, but as far as he could tell there was nothing of use. He went back up the stairs anyway to check the door, but there was nothing he could do. He considered pounding on it but settled for throwing his shoulder against it instead. A few tries later, all he’d succeeded in doing was giving himself some bruises, and it was still perfectly quiet on the other side.

Dammit… Shinichi… Was he able to fight that guy off half-drugged? Maybe if he came up with something clever. Maybe they’re all okay…

There was a soft murmur from the darkness behind him and Kaito rushed down the stairs to Sonoko’s side. “Suzuki-chan. Hey, are you awake? Can you hear me?”

There was another quiet grumble and he felt her roll onto her side. “Wha’d’you want, Shinichi?”

Kaito let out a laugh. “It’s Kaito,” he said. “Sorry, I know we kind of sound the same. Are you okay? Can you sit up?”

Sonoko opened her eyes and blinked several times just to be sure because she couldn’t see anything at all. She sat up abruptly and her hands flew out in front of her, waving around and eventually catching Kaito’s shoulder. “What’s going on?” she asked. “Where are we?”

“Uh, locked in the basement of the resort,” Kaito answered. “Somebody drugged you and threw you down here.”

“Where’s Ran?” she demanded. “And Shinichi. Are they okay?”

“I’m sure they’re fine,” Kaito lied. “Shinichi will figure it all out and come to get us in no time, so we can just hang out here for now.”

He sounded perfectly confident and calm and it didn’t occur to Sonoko to doubt his sincerity for even a moment, so instead she took the opportunity presented to her. She’d invited Shinichi and Kaito along mostly out of curiosity, after all. “You must think pretty highly of Shinichi, Kuroba-kun,” she observed, her voice sly.

“Huh?” Kaito blinked at her in the darkness. “Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I?”

He heard her sigh in a distinctly patronizing way. “This is your first time in love, isn’t it,” she said.

“Uh, well, no. It isn’t.”

“Eh?”

“There was this girl back in Ekoda. Aoko. We grew up together. I think it’s pretty safe to say she was my first love but… I never told her how I felt.” He shrugged a little, though it went unseen. “It was for the best.”

“…Right,” Sonoko murmured and Kaito was alarmed to hear a degree of sadness hidden under her voice. “Sometimes that’s for the best.”

“Er… What about you, Suzuki-chan? Did you ever tell Mouri-chan how you felt before you met Kyogoku-kun?”

This time he felt her quickly shift away from him, and she sounded panicked when she replied, “Wh-What are you talking about? I don’t–”

“Oh… Oh geez, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize– Um… Look, I won’t tell anybody–”

“There’s nothing to tell,” Sonoko insisted.

Silence fell in the dark basement for a few awkward seconds. Then Kaito heard a small whisper. “How did you even know?”

“I…” Kaito thought back to all of the interactions he’d witnessed between Sonoko and Ran as KID and sighed. “I’m just good at that sort of thing,” he murmured. “Nobody told me, or anything. I can just see how much you care about her and I thought…” He trailed off, feeling like a tactless idiot for not realizing it was a secret. Silence threatened to descend again, but instead, Kaito reached out carefully, finding Sonoko’s shoulder, and said softly, “Do you wanna talk about it?”

Sonoko turned toward the sound of his voice, warm tears welling in her eyes. Then, all at once, she threw herself into his arms, clinging to him as she cried.

 

Kaito was starting to think that it had been quiet upstairs for far too long, his worry burning hot and fierce and hidden as he talked to Sonoko. Then a faint call carried through the door. “Did you hear that?” he asked, his voice dropping to a whisper. They both fell silent and the sound came again, a little louder this time. “That’s Shinichi,” he said, carefully muting his relief. “Wait here.” He got up and rushed up the stairs to knock on the door.

“Sonoko? Kaito?” Shinichi’s voice was much closer now and the handle jiggled but didn’t turn.

“Shinichi,” Kaito called back. “Some guy locked us down here.”

“Is Sonoko with you?”

“Yeah. We’re all right. The guy probably has the key. Is he–?”

“Don’t worry. Ran’s got him. I’ll be right back.”

Kaito heard his footsteps retreating down the hall and felt Sonoko reach the top of the stairs beside him, clinging to the railing in the dark. Just a few seconds later, there was a click and the door opened, throwing them into the light.

Sonoko immediately pushed her way into the hall. “Where’s Ran?” she demanded.

Shinichi’s eyes flickered over her face and Kaito saw his fist clench at his side before he answered, “She’s in the men’s changing area, but–”

He didn’t have the chance to finish. Sonoko took off down the hall, calling Ran’s name.

“What happened?” Kaito asked, eyeing Shinichi. He was dripping wet, and his shirt seemed to have been torn the rest of the way open, a few of the bottom buttons loose or missing.

“Nothing much,” Shinichi sighed, pushing his wet bangs away from his eyes. “More importantly… that guy… Kaito, did he do anything to Sonoko? Or to you?”

“You mean besides drugging us and shoving us down a flight of stairs?” Kaito asked.

“You’re sure that’s all?” Shinichi insisted, and Kaito frowned at the intense concern in Shinichi’s face and voice. “Is Sonoko okay? It looked like she was crying.”

“She’s okay,” Kaito assured him. “She was just a little scared for Ran, that’s all.” Shinichi just nodded, his mouth still set in a grim line, and Kaito asked slowly, “What was he trying to do?” He already had some ideas of his own, but he was hoping he was wrong.

“I’ll tell you later, okay? Will you stay with Ran and Sonoko? I’m going to grab a phone, and the anesthetic watch just in case.”

Kaito nodded and headed back into the men’s changing area. Ran was there, also dripping wet and sitting on the stranger with his arm held up behind his back and his face pushed against the floor. With a sweeping glance around the room, Kaito also noted a wet clothes bin lying on its side nearby, and Mamiko still sleeping soundly on the floor. He let out a low whistle. “You’re really incredible, Mouri-chan.”

“Of course!” Sonoko cheered.

“Where’s Shinichi?” Ran asked, never removing her glare from the young man pinned beneath her.

“Calling the police,” Kaito answered. He went to Mamiko’s side again to check once more that she was all right. “But I’m sure it’ll be a little while before they can make it up here. Let’s get this guy tied up in the meantime, okay?”

 

The police arrived a few hours later to find Shinichi, Ran, Kaito, and Sonoko all sitting on the floor in the front entranceway, keeping a close eye on the young man who’d been bound hand and foot with clotheslines and gagged with a towel for good measure. Mamiko, who had been filled in on everything once she’d woken up, had understandably retired to her room, more than a little shaken by the whole ordeal. They all gave their statements, and the intruder was arrested and taken away.

Upon Mamiko’s insistence (either out of gratitude or a desire not to be alone), the four remained at the resort, and headed up to their room.

“Hey,” Kaito said in an undertone as he and Shinichi trailed a little farther behind Ran and Sonoko on their way upstairs. “This sort of thing happens to you guys a lot doesn’t it.” He was watching Sonoko and Ran, who were chatting and laughing together as if nothing had happened.

“Yeah,” Shinichi said, apologetic. “You up for it?” he added with a smirk.

Kaito laughed and paused for a moment to sneak a quick kiss onto Shinichi’s cheek. “Anytime, Tantei-kun,” he murmured for only Shinichi to hear. Shinichi’s face went a little pink as they followed the girls into the room and Sonoko didn’t fail to notice.

“Hm, do we need to leave you two alone for a little while?” she asked, grinning.

“Oh?” Ran said, her voice sliding up with interest as Shinichi’s blush deepened. “Maybe we should all go down to the hot spring after all,” she suggested, her merciless smile matching Sonoko’s.

“Would you guys knock it off!” Shinichi whined, but Kaito was grinning too now and he knew he was doomed.

“I think that’s a great idea~!” he said and Shinichi had no idea what to make of the thumbs up Sonoko gave Kaito when she thought Shinichi and Ran weren’t looking.

Somehow, he thought, resigned to his embarrassment as he was ushered back out of the room and down the stairs. I’ve got this ominous feeling about how Sonoko and Kaito have been acting since they got out of that basement. Like it’ll lead to nothing but trouble. Well… more trouble.

But he didn’t have much more time to consider it, because then he and Kaito were shoved through the door into the men’s changing area and he didn’t have the benefit of being drugged to take the edge off of the potentially awkward situation this time around. Fortunately, Kaito was prepared for that.

“Here,” he said, tossing a towel at Shinichi and turning away as he started to undress. “I won’t look. Thief’s honor. Just let me know when you’re in the water and I’ll join you. How’s that?”

Shinichi scoffed and turned away as well, stubbornly hiding his relief. “Thief’s honor, huh? I don’t know about that,” he said. Then, reluctantly, he added, “Thanks, though. That sounds good.”

Chapter Text

Case 16.75 – Phobia

 

It was a quiet, sleepy sort of afternoon in the Kudou family library when Kaito abruptly blurted it out.

“Shinichi–” he started, and there was a kind of desperation in it that made Shinichi look up from his novel.

“…Kaito?” Shinichi answered from his armchair, raising an eyebrow at him. Kaito had been pacing for a while, and Shinichi had recognized that there was probably something on his mind that would be coming out soon. The way Kaito was standing now, facing him, clearly gathering his courage as he forced himself to meet Shinichi’s eyes, probably meant that the time had come. Shinichi’s mind shuffled through a cascade of possibilities in the span of a few seconds.

Something’s wrong? Relationship stuff? KID stuff? Organization stuff? Did he have a fight with Aoko? Did he do something wrong? Did I do something wrong? Did something happen with Chikage-san? Or Jii-san? Did–?

“Shinichi,” Kaito said again, and Shinichi managed to shut his brain up long enough to listen for the answer instead. “I need to… I wanna tell you something.”

“Okay,” Shinichi replied, closing his book.

Kaito looked away again and Shinichi’s eyebrows pulled together. He was more than a little curious by that point but he kept himself from saying anything more. It was clear that Kaito had decided to say whatever it was, but if Shinichi pushed him he might change his mind, and then he’d never know.

“I…” Kaito paused to swallow nervously. He looked up again. “There’s this phobia I have,” he said and Shinichi blinked at him.

Well there was no way I was gonna guess that, he thought. “A phobia?” he repeated, and Kaito took a little strength from the lack of judgment in the simple response. He nodded.

“I’ve never told anybody before. Kaa-san and Jii-chan know. And Kaa-san told Aoko.” His eyes moved away again, an eyebrow twitching just slightly. “But… I wanted to… tell you.”

Each word was clearly an effort for him and Shinichi fought the urge to go to him and pull him into his arms. Kaito was trying to admit what must have been, to him, a serious vulnerability. He was trying to be strong, and Shinichi had no intention of undermining that.

The words caught in Kaito’s throat each time he tried to say it outright, so he settled for a less direct approach. “Do you remember when we went to that restaurant on Valentine’s Day?”

“Yeah,” Shinichi said.

“And they had said they were–”

“Out of seafood,” Shinichi finished for him, getting a little wrapped up in the mystery of it. “I’d thought that was weird. Did you–?”

“Jii-chan did it for me. I’ve had… bad luck on Valentine’s Day a lot before and I didn’t want anything… I’m getting off topic,” he said firmly, like he was scolding himself. “I’m scared of fish.” He was standing with his hands in tight fists at his sides and his face set, his head raised. It looked like he was bracing for some kind of retaliation.

“Okay,” Shinichi said. “That must be really hard to deal with – it’s not something that’s easily avoided… I’m impressed you hide it so well.”

He was meeting Kaito’s eyes from where he sat in the armchair, and for a few long seconds Kaito just stared back. Then he sank to his knees and folded forward, and Shinichi came up a little out of his seat.

“Kai–”

Then he realized Kaito was laughing. He was laughing so hard that tears were gathering in the corners of his eyes, his shoulders shaking with it. Shinichi set his book on the chair and went to sit on the floor in front of him, smiling a little as he waited for Kaito to pull himself back together.

“I was so scared of telling somebody,” he gasped after a little while. “I was so scared of getting laughed at or not being taken seriously. But you just… ‘Okay.’ That’s it. Just ‘okay.’”

“Well, it was pretty obvious you weren’t lying or making a joke,” Shinichi said. “Ichthyophobia isn’t as well-known as other phobias, but that doesn’t make it less real.”

Kaito looked up again, finally sitting back. His eyes were huge and watery but he smiled at Shinichi with so much gratitude and relief that Shinichi’s breath caught a little in his chest.

“Thanks, Shinichi,” he said. I am so completely in love with you.

“I’m glad you told me,” Shinichi answered with a smile. How did I ever get so lucky as to win his trust? He took Kaito’s hand and helped him to his feet. “Do you want to stay over tonight? Maybe get a movie and some takeout?”

Kaito grinned at him. “That sounds great.”

Chapter Text

Case 18.5 – Toasted Marshmallows

 

“The school was dark. Silent. But we knew that someone… something was there. Any corner we turned could bring us face to face with it. We might never see it coming. We might never be seen again. Just two more kids that had gone missing in the dead of night.”

Mitsuhiko, Genta, and Ayumi all shivered and drew closer together on the opposite side of the campfire from Kaito. Shinichi sat on Kaito’s right, opposite Haibara who was still just smirking as Agasa’s snores from inside his tent created a rumbly backdrop with the rustling leaves and snapping fire. A wild dog howled somewhere far away.

“And then we heard it. An eerie voice… ‘Leave here!’” Kaito wailed, his own voice wavering and strained.

“…What did you do?” Genta asked. The boys were sitting on either side of Ayumi, dutifully guarding her from the looming shadows of the trees outside their ring of firelight, but their arms were linked behind her, where she couldn’t see, clutching with mutual shaking grips.

“What do you think?” Kaito asked. “I ran toward it!”

“R-Right?” Mitsuhiko laughed weakly. “It’s Kaito-san. He’s just like Shinichi-san.”

Shinichi let out a little sigh and Haibara made a quiet sound of amused agreement.

“So?” Ayumi insisted. “What happened next?”

“Well, I was running,” Kaito said. “And I could tell the voice was coming from upstairs so I headed up – but I slipped, and when I got up…” His expression twisted into one of horror, his head tilted just right to throw deeper shadows across his face. His hand came up, touching his forehead for just a moment before coming away, held out in front of him with the fingers tensed and splayed. “There was blood all over!”

Ayumi let out a little squeal, shutting her eyes and turning away as all three kids pulled in a little closer. Haibara scoffed, but she too had drawn just slightly back, her eyes on Kaito’s hand. Shinichi smirked. Kaito was plenty quick and plenty tricky enough to have used fake blood in that moment, but it was that much more impressive that just his acting could paint the image clear as day in his audience’s imagination.

“K-Kaito, you’re gonna die!” Kaito squealed in a carefully imperfect imitation of a female voice. His expression shifted from horror to a more fragile, worried fear, both hands now quivering at his lips.

“No!” Ayumi wailed, her face still hidden against Genta’s jacket and one hand fisted securely in Mitsuhiko’s sweatshirt.

“O-Obviously not!” Mitsuhiko declared, but his voice was definitely unsteady.

“Well, it wasn’t my blood,” Kaito said with a slow and sinister grin.

Genta and Mitsuhiko each let out a barely stifled whimper.

“Anyway, we went to wash it off, and I was waiting for Aoko outside the bathroom when I saw something go by. A black shadow, too fast to see, and then it was gone. But when Aoko came out…” He paused for dramatic effect. “Whisssh!” His hand cut through the air. “It was back and it attacked her! She screamed and fell back and when she turned to get a look…”

The kids were shivering, Haibara was leaning in, Shinichi’s eyes were fixed on Kaito.

“…It was a cat.”

All five slumped at once, and Shinichi started laughing.

“Kaito-oniichan!” Ayumi complained, finally picking her head up to regard him with huge, betrayed eyes.

“What?” Kaito laughed. “That’s how it happened!”

“That’s a pretty lame ending,” Genta said, straightening up and pulling his hand back from where he’d been clutching at Mitsuhiko’s sleeve so he could cross his arms in front of him, turning away with his usual “indifferent tough guy” face.

“Oh no,” Kaito said, suddenly serious. “That’s not the end. Because it wasn’t just a cat.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean–?” Shinichi scoffed, but Haibara shushed him. Her attention was still on Kaito.

Well, Shinichi thought. Kaito is a compelling storyteller. If a bit overdramatic.

“I’d never have believed it if I hadn’t been there myself,” Kaito lied, dropping his voice and leaning in toward the fire. “The cat stopped. And it turned to us… and it started glowing.” Something cracked sharply in the depths of the fire. The kids all jumped. “Its whole body,” Kaito said. “Just this… glowing blue.” The flames flared and wavered… and the orange light turned eerie as the color changed with his words. “The space warped around it,” he whispered through the wavering heat in the air. “And it changed. Glowing red eyes. Black feathers. Shining talons…” His body hunched up, casting a shadow that loomed behind him. “It spread its wings and rose up above us with an echoing screech – and then it vanished, right into the ceiling.”

Ayumi let out another scream as the blue fire flared up one last time then seemed to flicker back to orange. Kaito settled back, relaxed again and just faintly smug in the warm light.

For a few moments, everyone was quiet. Then Mitsuhiko asked, “W-What did you do then?”

“We ran to the nearest classroom and shut the door,” Kaito explained. “You don’t stay in a hallway were something like that just happened.”

Shinichi wasn’t buying it. “And what did you do after that?” he asked, perfectly skeptical.

“Went to look around by myself.” Kaito’s tone added “obviously.” He looked back to the kids. “So I’m walking the halls,” he said, dropping right back into the hushed tone he used for suspense. “It’s dead quiet – just my echoing footsteps – and I’ve been walking a while when I see it. This glow, like fire, coming through the science room door. So I opened it.”

He paused, letting his intense stare build the tension. His voice lowered. “There’s candles,” he said, starting the list slowly. “And beakers filled with bubbling, blood red liquid. An amulet – a skull with fangs and horns strung on a chain with beads, and it’s resting on top of a book filled with strange symbols and pictures.” He was fully whispering now, all three kids, and Haibara too, leaning in for each word. “I figure it’s got to be a spell book. So I go in for a closer look. That’s when I hear the scream.”

The kids drew a near-silent breath in unison.

“It’s Aoko,” Kaito said, picking up both speed and strength and drawing the kids in right along with him. “I know it is. So I run from the room and try to find her and I follow the sound to the bathroom where the door is standing wide open and inside, standing over Aoko, is this dark, hunched figure in a red cloak – the phantom everyone had been seeing, standing right there in front of me… and Aoko’s cornered and collapsed in one of the stalls.”

Ayumi looked to be on the brink of tears and for the first time Kaito hesitated.

“And?” Haibara pressed. Her voice seemed to bring Ayumi back to herself a bit. “What then?”

Kaito smiled. “I fought her off,” he said with a shrug, dropping the creepy tone and fully breaking the tension. “I picked Aoko up and ran out of there and that was it. The ghost never came back.”

“That… That’s so brave!” Ayumi said, a little breathless.

“Hey, hey,” Genta insisted. “So are you a ghost hunter, Kaito-nii?”

Kaito laughed. “Sure thing!”

Haibara folded her arms, giving Kaito a scrutinizing look.

“What?” Kaito asked.

“Oh nothing,” Haibara answered.

Shinichi was watching him too and Kaito got the feeling they both knew that wasn’t the real end to the story, but he shrugged it off.

“So,” Kaito said to the kids. “How was that for a ghost story?”

“It was amazing!” Ayumi cheered.

“But, it was all made up, right?” Mitsuhiko asked. “I mean… ghosts aren’t actually real.”

“How rude,” Kaito shot back, nose in the air. “Of course it happened.” He plucked a package of marshmallows from one of the bags behind him and tore it open, popping a whole one into his mouth and shoving another onto the end of a stick.

He offered the bag to Haibara who silently passed it off to Genta, but when bags of chocolate bars and graham crackers followed she started to look more and more disapproving. As she took the crackers from him, she leaned over and whispered, “You better do something about this. I’m not up for dealing with nightmares all night.”

“Oh~?” Kaito whispered back. “Was it too scary? I’m sorry; I wasn’t trying to give you nightmares.”

Haibara snuck a quick hand out and pinched his arm hard.

“Hey!” Kaito yelped.

“Not me, moron. Them. Do something about it.”

Kaito laughed nervously, eyes edging away from her harsh glare. “Sure, sure,” he murmured back. Then, aloud, he said, “Hey, do you guys wanna see some magic tricks?”

 

For the next half hour, they sat laughing around the campfire, switching off between toasting marshmallows and watching the flames change colors, or pop and spark and let off puffs of different colored smoke as Kaito flicked little capsules from hidden pockets in amongst the firewood.

Eventually, Shinichi had to cut Kaito off, confiscating the marshmallows and chocolate on the basis of “No more sugar for you.” Haibara had similarly put a limit on the children’s intake, and had sent them all off to the nearby stream to wash up.

“So,” Shinichi said when they were gone. “What was the real story behind the phantom at your high school?”

“What real story?” Kaito answered innocently.

“You imitated the voice,” Haibara cut in. “The voice telling you to leave. I certainly couldn’t tell if it was male or female, but you said you fought her off.”

“There are details you’re not saying,” Shinichi added. “So spill.”

Kaito laughed. “It really is nothing. It wasn’t actually a ghost; it was just Akako.”

“Oh, that woman I met in Ekoda, right?” Shinichi said, hand at his chin as he thought back. “The one you said was a witch?”

Is a witch,” Kaito corrected. “She was just using the science room to work on some spells at night.”

Haibara went still for a few seconds then stood. “…I’m going to bed,” she decided. And not thinking about how insane the guy in the next tent actually is. “It’s cold out tonight,” she added offhand, ducking into one of the four tents they needed now that the kids were getting older and Shinichi and Kaito were tagging along. “You should keep the fire going if you’re planning to stay up anyway.”

“Sure thing,” Shinichi answered. “Good night Haibara.”

The kids came back shortly after and went into their tents – Ayumi into Haibara’s, and Mitsuhiko and Genta into another.

After all the rustling and residual whispers finally fell away, Kaito shifted over, sitting close beside Shinichi. Without a word, he pulled another bag of marshmallows out of nowhere and happily settled in, poking one onto the end of a stick and turning it slowly over the fire.

“Hey,” Shinichi said, shooting for disapproving and landing more on the side of amused. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”

“Definitely not,” Kaito answered. He pulled the lightly browned marshmallow back and blew on it, but before he could take it off the stick, Shinichi made a too-quick snatch for it. The melted marshmallow collapsed between his fingers and he let out a hiss of surprise as hot sugar oozed onto his skin. Without thinking, he tried to shove the marshmallow into his mouth instead. He mostly managed it, but he could feel sticky, rapidly cooling sugar on his lips and chin.

Kaito caught Shinichi’s wrist when his hand reflexively came up to wipe at his mouth. “Hang on a second,” he said, eyes darting to Shinichi’s lips too frequently to truly meet his gaze. “You just stole from me.”

Shinichi swallowed hard and opened his mouth to respond. Kaito, still holding tight to his wrist, took full advantage and lunged forward to catch him in a kiss. His tongue roamed as much of Shinichi’s mouth as he could manage, leaving very little untouched, before he pulled back slightly to give special attention to Shinichi’s lower lip. Shinichi’s breaths were coming short and quick by the time Kaito finally trailed down to suck the sugar from the corner of Shinichi’s mouth and down his chin.

“Kaito,” Shinichi whispered when licks started to become kisses down his neck.

“Oops,” Kaito murmured with no apology in his tone. “Got a little carried away.”

Shinichi thought he could feel the grin form against his neck. He pushed Kaito back with his one free hand. “Maybe a little warning next time.”

“Right. You’re very right.” Kaito glanced over to where he still had Shinichi’s wrist in a tight grip, eyeing the sticky white still coating his thumb and two fingers. “Let me just get this last bit,” he said, voice low and warm. He seemed to pause an extra moment, eyes flickering to Shinichi’s, but Shinichi didn’t say anything and Kaito didn’t wait. His lips closed over each sugary finger, sucking and licking gently until every trace of the marshmallow was gone. When he was done, he finally released Shinichi’s wrist and sat back, licking his lips.

“…Sorry I stole your marshmallow,” Shinichi said, faintly breathless and very pink-faced.

“You didn’t burn yourself, did you?” Kaito asked.

“What?” Shinichi looked down at his fingers. They were definitely tingling, but really, a lot of him was. “No,” he said. “It wasn’t that hot; I was just surprised.”

“That’s good.” Kaito picked up another marshmallow and warmed it carefully over the fire, leaving it a bit more solid than the first. He slid it off of the stick and held it up to Shinichi.

“What are you doing?”

“I think this might be my new favorite way to eat marshmallows,” Kaito said, straight-faced. “You in?”

Shinichi hesitated, his face hot from more than just the fire, but he opened his mouth and allowed Kaito to push the marshmallow past his lips, following it up with a deep, sweet kiss.

 

Haibara never slept well on camping trips. Sleeping bags on the ground weren’t the most comfortable, and a tent in the woods felt exposed and dangerous, deep in the part of her that would always be on the run.

And one of the reasons tents felt so exposed was because they were really just propped up pieces of thin fabric. Definitely not soundproof.

“Hey, don’t you think you’ve had enough?”

Kudou-kun, she thought. He and Kaito did sound similar, but, unless Kaito was trying, it wasn’t difficult for her to tell which was which.

“Definitely not.”

It went quiet. Then a soft hiss.

“…Hang on a second. You just stole from me.”

Haibara’s eyes flew open a moment later at what she thought was a muffled moan. Maybe she had fallen asleep. Just as well she was awake now. Don’t need one of those dreams in the middle of nowhere with the kids.

Except…

Is that the wind… or someone panting. Maybe I’m imagining things.

“Kaito.”

“Oops. Got a little carried away.”

Haibara’s face went abruptly hot in the darkness. Her hands clenched on her sleeping bag, eyes wide.

“Maybe a little warning next time.”

“Right. You’re very right. Let me just get this last bit.”

It fell quiet again. Haibara’s mind, always quick, illustrated the gap quite colorfully.

“…Sorry I stole your marshmallow.”

Shinichi was definitely out of breath.

“You didn’t burn yourself, did you?”

“What? No, it wasn’t that hot; I was just surprised.”

“That’s good.”

More silence. Haibara let out a carefully mute breath and tried to calm herself down. But then…

“What are you doing?”

“I think this might be my new favorite way to eat marshmallows. You in?”

Haibara rolled over and planted her burning face in her pillow.

Chapter Text

Case 19.5 – Laying the Groundwork

 

“Okay,” Kaito said with more confidence than he truly felt. “I guess if you insist.” He got up and walked around the table and, in those few moments while Shinichi’s eyes were fixed on Kaito’s face, trying to read him, his hand passed over the game board, shifting a few of the tiles. Then he was right beside Shinichi, leaning in. One hand reached out to grip the back of Shinichi’s chair, white-knuckled, bracketing him in – giving him no escape and giving himself none either.

Poker face. You just have to say it.

He moved in close enough that his lips brushed Shinichi’s ear, making sure there was no way Shinichi could see his face as he whispered with a detached confidence, “You should know I’ve been imagining what our first time together would be like…” His face was warming. It took everything in him to force his body calm. It helped that he could feel Shinichi’s skin go abruptly hot against his lips as well. “And I really… want you inside me, Shinichi.”

He heard Shinichi take in a quick breath, or maybe let one out. He wasn’t sure. His own heartbeat was loud in his ears. He pretended it wasn’t and straightened up with a cheerful grin – an easy go-to that could cover anything. It was something of a relief that Shinichi was not so composed.

“Just something to think about,” Kaito added, and he bent to touch a quick kiss to Shinichi’s temple before heading straight for the door out of the library. “See you tomorrow~!” he called back as he left.

The moment he was clear of the room, he broke into a sprint and was outside and around the corner of the house, crouching against the siding between some bushes within a handful of seconds. His poker face took effort, but his flight instincts were peerless.

Hidden, Kaito covered his face with his hands and finally let his body react to what he’d just done, feeling the blood rise to his cheeks and ears.

It’s fine, he told himself. It’s fine. He took a few deep breaths and let his heartbeat slow at its own pace, and by the time it had he was already feeling much better.

This is good, Kaito thought. I’m glad it worked out this way.

It had been on his mind for what seemed like a long time now – the concern that Shinichi might not be as comfortable as Kaito was with the idea of them actually having sex. Because Kaito knew that for most of Shinichi’s life he’d only pictured himself with Ran, which meant a clear role that he would play, and a new, frightening uncertainty upon this particular turn of events. But Kaito also knew that Shinichi was physically interested in him. That much… was devastatingly clear.

Maybe now… he’ll feel more comfortable, Kaito thought, tilting his head back against the house. His blush returned just faintly as he tried to picture Shinichi sitting in the library now, reading the words Kaito had left for him on the Scrabble board. He let out a soft, breathy laugh.

“I’m such a coward,” he muttered to himself. “I could say something like that to him but I…” He shook his head and carefully shifted among the foliage, crouching on the balls of his feet. I really do love him. He stood, and then he was gone from the yard.

Chapter Text

Case 27.5 – Handcuffs

 

When Kaito wandered into the Kudou library he found Shinichi sitting at the desk, closely inspecting a pair of handcuffs.

Heh, he was serious, he thought, then asked with a slow smirk, “Shinichi, what are you doing?”

“…Learning,” Shinichi answered distantly.

Kaito dropped into an armchair, watching Shinichi’s fingers pass lightly over the cuffs. “There are easier ways, you know,” he said.

Shinichi just made an impatient noise. He was so engrossed that Kaito doubted he’d be moving from that spot anytime soon. He let out a sigh, feeling somewhat impatient himself. Picking the locks on a pair of handcuffs was something he’d mastered before the age of nine. Surely Shinichi didn’t need to spend any amount of time on–

His thoughts trailed off and his eyebrows went up as Shinichi locked the handcuffs onto his own wrists. He watched him push the double-lock pin into place, test that the cuffs would not open or tighten, and then less than a minute later get them open again. He tossed the paperclip he’d used down on the desk next to the key. It was by no means record time, but it wasn’t bad for a first attempt.

“Well done, Tantei-kun,” Kaito said, and he let it come out sounding as patronizing as it really was.

Shinichi ignored him. He was still staring down at the cuffs, and still looking unsatisfied.

“…Haven’t really figured it out yet, have you.”

He didn’t get any answer at all this time. Shinichi didn’t even glance up and Kaito let out another sigh. He was completely impossible when he got like this, and it was frustrating and a little boring waiting for him to get a trick that was so simple. Kaito stood, about to leave, when he heard Shinichi mutter something under his breath.

“It’s easy,” he said.

Kaito paused. “What is?”

“Picking the lock,” Shinichi said dismissively. “That part is perfectly simple if you know how these work but… you can’t do it without some kind of tool. A hairpin, a paperclip, a safety pin… You could make any number of things work, and that’s not even counting all the professional tools you have at your disposal but…” He finally looked up – looked right at Kaito. “I got these on you when you were half naked and about to go to sleep. I stripped you down to nothing and still didn’t find a damn thing on you that you could have used. How in the hell did you get these off?”

So that’s what’s got him so determined. It’s not the trick itself. Not really. Kaito grinned and it was sharp and wicked. “I’m flattered, Tantei-kun,” he said.

Shinichi scowled at him from behind the desk. “Why?” he bit out.

“Because I think you probably missed a few important details at the time that would have helped you figure it out. Am I really that distracting for you?”

Shinichi looked away, his face going just a little pink. “So what if you are?” he asked. “Just ‘cause I’m apparently not that distracting for you.” He said it gruffly, like he didn’t want it to bother him but it did all the same.

Kaito’s eyes narrowed. “Shinichi.” He moved around the desk and grabbed the chair Shinichi was sitting in, dragging it back and turning it, detective and all, so that Shinichi was facing him. He got a knee up on the seat next to Shinichi’s hip and grabbed the armrests, leaning over him. “Do you know what happens when someone with my training is completely distracted?”

Shinichi didn’t say anything, just blinked up at Kaito and tried to pretend that his heart wasn’t suddenly racing.

“Reflex takes over,” Kaito answered for him. “…And that’s all I’m going to say about it. There’s something else I wanna talk about.”

“Something else?” Shinichi managed.

“Something doesn’t make sense to me,” Kaito said, easing back some. “‘Cause I know you, Shinichi. You never miss a detail. But for as long as I can remember, you’ve always acted like you don’t realize what you do to me. But there’s no way that’s true. There’s no way you could miss it. So, what–?”

“Kaito…” Shinichi reached out, his arms circling around Kaito’s lower back, and Kaito allowed himself to be dragged in closer. His other knee ended up on the chair as well and he found himself sitting on Shinichi’s lap. Shinichi’s brain had a moment of This chair is probably gonna tip over, colliding with yeah right, not as long as Kaito is involved, before he pushed it all out of mind and nuzzled a quick kiss against Kaito’s collarbone.

“I haven’t had your training,” Shinichi murmured against him. “And my deductions and observations don’t run on reflex.” His voice grew fainter, barely more than a whisper as he added, “You get your hands on me and I can’t even think, so if I don’t realize what I’m doing to you, it’s probably because you’re doing the same thing to me.”

And none of that was a lie, but it wasn’t the whole of it either. The first time they’d decided to switch things up in their sex life Shinichi had been a little scared. It was foreign territory for him, yes, but it wasn’t so much that as how good it was. Slow in all the right moments, fast and thrilling when he least expected it, and good enough that it flickered in his mind that he couldn’t possibly have been that good for Kaito.

The concern was enough that, the next time, he’d forced himself to focus – to really watch – and he’d seen Kaito fall to pieces at his hands. It was still alarming how satisfying that was. And once he’d realized he could take Kaito apart, make him completely lose his mind with just the right touch… it was absolutely addicting. One day he would probably tell him that, but for now he just wanted to be able to give Kaito those small moments of freedom and release, where he didn’t have to think or plan or hide or act or do anything except be himself.

He heard Kaito laugh softly somewhere above him. “Okay, sure,” he said.

…Who am I kidding? He always knows, somehow.

It was useless, but Shinichi tried changing the subject anyway. “…I still don’t know how you–”

“Shh…” Kaito lifted Shinichi’s face and leaned down, kissing him slowly, gradually easing his lips apart with both hands in Shinichi’s hair. When he finally pulled back he murmured with a hint of laughter, “Wanna try it again?”

“Didn’t know you were into that,” Shinichi replied, just a little breathless. “If it’s gonna be like that, we need to get you something safer than actual police handcuffs.” He held in his laughter as Kaito drew back, startled and blushing. “No good?” Shinichi chuckled.

“Hm. Not unless you’re wearing them, Tantei-kun,” Kaito said, recovering enough to smirk. “I don’t care about the context; no detective is locking me up.”

Shinichi smiled up at him. “Right. Of course.”

Chapter Text

Case 32.5 – Realization

 

He was only moments behind KID – close enough to almost touch his cape as the thief swept it into the compartment of the revolving doors ahead of them – but he was distracted by the gloved hand that brushed light and quick against the edge of the door that was now behind KID and in front of Hakuba.

He caught a faint clicking under the shiff of the turning doors, but it was too late to stop his momentum, his weight already thrown forward to push the doors along. The clicking escalated as they turned – and cut off abruptly when they caught with a jarring thud that had Hakuba stumbling against the glass.

KID paused before the lobby full of task force officers just long enough to glance back and grin wickedly. Then he vanished from Hakuba’s sight.

“Sorry to cut this short; it’s been fun, but an old friend has turned up and it would be rude to keep him waiting.”

Hakuba looked up. The words were muffled by the door, but it was definitely KID, and he was definitely somewhere above him.

“And, if you don’t mind, I’ll just ask you all to stay here. Well then…”

There was a pause, then Hakuba jumped and whirled to look back as something shattered in the street behind him. There was a mess of glass on the pavement, but nothing else around.

“Stop right there, KID!”

Hakuba turned back to the lobby and, from the nervous and unfocused shifting of the officers and the shade of Nakamori’s face, guessed that whatever had happened, it had marked KID’s exit. He let out a sigh.

Shinichi was trying the other doors now. Pointless, of course. Hakuba turned his attention to his own predicament. That sound… The clicking stopped the same time the doors did…

“I need everybody to move to the edges of the room!”

Again, he let his attention be drawn to the lobby and he watched through the glass as Shinichi spoke with Nakamori. At Nakamori’s command, the task force officers all moved, spreading out along the perimeter, and suddenly all Hakuba could see was a wall of uniforms.

Then the unmistakable crack of a gunshot went off and Hakuba wasn’t the only one startled. The task force had all drawn back slightly and Hakuba could hear Nakamori shouting something, but he couldn’t see past the officers gathered in front of the doors – not until he caught a glimpse above their heads of something huge dropping fast from the ceiling. It didn’t take a detective to know it was the Winter Cherry’s display case that made the next impactful crash.

Everyone was looking up, so Hakuba ducked down to get a better angle. Across the lobby, Shinichi was hauling himself up onto a metal support beam near the ceiling.

All of the pieces suddenly crashed together in his mind.

“What… the hell was he thinking,” Hakuba whispered, staring as Shinichi crawled toward the doors and out of his line of sight. He turned and squinted through the glass of the door behind him at the dark street and, sure enough, a few seconds later Shinichi landed neatly on the pavement and took off running with a grin. “All that just to chase KID?” Hakuba murmured. “KID has had more than enough time to vanish completely by now, so why–” “An old friend has turned up… I’ll just ask you all to stay here.”

Hakuba swore softly in English, his fingers clenching into a fist. “They are here. They must be. He went after them alone and Kudou-kun realized it.”

Turning sharply to face the door standing between him and the lobby, Hakuba pulled out a pocket knife and started cutting into the flexible weather stripping lining the edge.

KID did something, he thought as he tore pieces of black rubber away. A powerful enough magnet could stop the rotation. Or– He finished ripping the sealant away at the approximate height KID had touched as he’d entered the compartment ahead of Hakuba, and his fingers found a switch embedded into the edge of the door. Smiling, he pushed it down.

At the sound of the familiar clicking, he withdrew his hand and gave the door an experimental push. Nothing moved. The clicking persisted though, steady, and slower than it had been the first time, until it ticked to a stop with a final, more resounding clunk. The slight vibration in the floor at the sound had him on his knees in an instant, scouring the compartment for any change. He found it in the form of two rounded metal pegs poking up out of the floor, one close against the door in front of him and the other against the door behind, stopping them from turning in either direction.

So… Hakuba thought. He gave them an experimental poke without much hope that he’d be able to budge them. These are how he stopped the doors from turning… But these were not inside this compartment until I moved that switch. Standing, he squeezed a finger into the narrow gap along the edge of the door again and wiggled the switch embedded there. No, he thought. Not a switch. It’s… more like a cog. A wheel. He rolled it down another notch and stepped back as the clicking started up again. When he saw the peg on the street side disappear into the floor again he rushed the door and collided with the glass with a very firm thud.

“Ugh.” Glancing back, he saw that the peg against the lobby-side door was still in place, keeping all of the doors from moving in the only direction he cared about. He went for the switch again and pushed it down one more time.

The peg by the lobby-side door vanished. The peg by the street-side door rose up inside Hakuba’s compartment… not at all hindering his ability to push the door away from it. This time the doors turned easily, but they were clicking again too. The moment he had space enough to squeeze through, he sprinted out into the empty street, ignoring the clunk that sounded behind him, trapping the task force in the lobby with no way to reach the switch.

 

Hakuba slowed as he approached the general area he hoped KID would be. After skirting the edges of Jirokichi’s cordoned area, he’d realized that as long as the mysterious snipers were present, the wall of fans circling the space was the most effective means of keeping KID trapped. And there was no doubt now that the snipers were present. That had been confirmed by the single gunshot that had echoed sharply around the deserted section of city not long after Hakuba had escaped the Suzuki building.

Maybe… this wasn’t such a great idea.

Half of his mind was considering going back to the barricade to recruit some of the cops keeping order there (No, too risky. It’s most important to keep the civilians out, and the officers watching the perimeter aren’t equipped to handle an armed assailant. Not that I am either, I suppose…). The other half was just beginning to register hushed voices under the persistent beating of chopper propellers above.

Hakuba hesitated as he traced the sound to an alleyway, edging by it on full alert. The voices had stopped and he thought he saw movement in the shadows, but he kept walking until he was past the mouth of the alley. Pausing out of sight of anyone who might be somewhere down the passage, he waited, straining to catch any sound, and thought he heard hints of more whispering. He tensed when they quieted, and considered peeking down the alley again. He didn’t get the chance.

“Hakuba–”

Hakuba jumped, taking a startled step back when Shinichi poked his head around the corner of the building. “Kudou-kun!” he whispered back. “Where is KID?”

“Come here.” Shinichi grabbed Hakuba by the wrist and dragged him down the alleyway, into a dark stairwell. KID was there waiting, looking perfectly stoic, but Hakuba immediately noted one gloved hand pressed high against his leg. It was too dark to say definitively, but his stance certainly suggested an injury. Still, he was standing and didn’t seem otherwise distressed. Hakuba glanced at Shinichi.

“How many?”

“Two. The task force?”

“No. Just me. What is the plan?”

Shinichi glanced at KID, but KID could see he wasn’t looking for input. He was just considering their options. “Distract and lure,” Shinichi decided after a moment, looking again to Hakuba. “We’ll just focus on one of them for now.”

Hakuba nodded. “Do you have their location?”

“No, but we know where she’ll be headed.”

Hakuba didn’t miss the guilty shift in Shinichi’s eyes. “…Here?” he guessed.

“Yeah.”

Hakuba just nodded again. “I assume you are the lure,” he said to KID.

“And you’re the distraction,” KID answered.

“Are you the trap then, Kudou-kun? They must be armed. What will you do?”

“Improvise,” Shinichi said, his hand moving to his belt.

“Ah.”

“The real trap is the task force. As long as they’re still stuck in the Suzuki building, we know right where they’ll be, so that’s where we need to lead her. My job is just to make sure nobody gets shot before they can grab her.”

“And my job is to make sure KID has enough of a head start to not get shot before you are in range,” Hakuba finished for him, eyeing Shinichi’s belt.

“You in?” Shinichi asked.

“…Of course.”

 

They had been spot-on. The woman KID had described was creeping carefully toward the stairwell as Hakuba watched from another alley. Taking in a deep, silent breath, he resolved himself and stepped out into the street.

“Excuse me, miss–!”

He’d taken off his coat, leaving very little doubt that there was no weapon on his person. He kept his hands in full view as well, and tried to make his expression only concerned instead of wary. The woman stopped and looked back at him for just a moment before jerking her attention down the alley again. Hakuba thought he could hear her mutter something under the sound of the helicopters circling above.

“Miss, this area is closed off to civilians right now,” Hakuba said as he neared. She turned and he knew with alarming certainty that there was already a gun in her hand, ready and tucked just out of sight, blocked by her body as she turned toward him.

“I’m looking for something,” she said shortly.

“Oh?” Hakuba said, forcing himself to meet her eyes instead of looking down at the hand with the gun. “Perhaps I can help–”

Something passed by overhead, too smooth and bright and silent to be a helicopter, and the woman’s face turned to the sky. “…Stay outta the way,” she snapped, and she shoved past him and took off running after the white glider.

“Hm. How rude,” Hakuba murmured, ignoring how his hands were shaking just a little, from relief more than anything. He pulled out his phone and typed a text to Shinichi. Once it was sent, he took another steadying breath. Everything was going well, he had KID and Shinichi backing him up, and there was something satisfying in the thought of turning the tables to make a predator into prey. He let that feeling unfold inside him, let out a slow breath, then took off running toward the Suzuki building.

 

Hakuba caught up just as the soccer ball smashed into the woman’s hands, the gunshot cracking through the empty streets and striking a window across from the Suzuki building. The gun clattered to the pavement and the task force crowded up against the windows of the lobby. Then Shinichi and KID were both standing in the street and Hakuba noted with some consternation that they had left him out of the loop on the apparent decoy glider.

Biting back a sigh, Hakuba quickly pulled out a handkerchief and picked up the fallen gun. When the woman turned to him he stared her down, daring her to flee.

“Well now,” KID called out. “What do you think? Should I open the doors~?” The grin was a definite threat, and he held up a small remote to show the woman.

“They’d arrest you too if you do,” she warned and Hakuba breathed out a quiet laugh. The woman shifted a little, attempting to move away from him, KID and Shinichi, and the Suzuki building all at once, but that left only one direction which was blocked by the large, locked office high-rise across the street.

“To be honest,” KID was saying, strolling casually forward with his hands tucked once again into his pockets. “I don’t want to trouble my cute little task force with scum like you–”

“KID, above you!”

It took Hakuba a moment to fully realize that the shout had come from his own mouth, and another moment to realize why it had. He’d seen it – just a distant shadow shifting on the roof of the Suzuki building’s lobby – and he’d called out before consciously making the connection between the far-off shape of the gun and KID’s exposed position on the street.

KID moved with the same split-second, unconscious reaction time and a bullet struck the pavement. Shinichi turned, his eyes suddenly sharp and hateful as he stared up at the figure on the roof. Hakuba let out a shuddering breath.

Then everyone was moving. Another shot went off and Hakuba heard the bullet ping against something, but his focus was on the woman who had made to run past him, thinking him distracted. He tossed her gun in the opposite direction, out of reach, and threw himself in her path. They collided and both hit the street hard.

In some corner of his mind, Hakuba acknowledged Shinichi running by. Then something rushed up the side of the building but he couldn’t afford to turn and get a better look. The woman was struggling, thrashing fiercely to get away, and he fought to catch a solid grip on her.

“Let go of me!” she shouted, but at the same time she was clawing for purchase at the sleeves of his shirt, her leg hooking around his as she attempted to restrict his movement. He felt her pushing at him, trying to turn him over, but she didn’t have the size or strength to accomplish it. Hakuba chanced a look over his shoulder at the street. He was alone, and it was something of a relief.

KID and Kudou must have gone after the shooter on the roof. At least I can be pretty sure I won’t be shot in the back.

All the same, he jumped a little when one gunshot and then another echoed through the night.

“That’s one each for your friend and the thief,” the woman hissed. “You’re next – ah!”

Hakuba’s grip tightened and he finally managed to shove the woman over onto her stomach. He kept hold of her wrists, pressing them hard against her back, and sat on her legs. “You do not know them,” he said. “I do not believe I have anything to worry about.”

It was a few moments later that he heard the crack of a gun hitting the pavement from far above, and then something large and white cut into his peripheral vision. He looked just in time to see KID’s glider colliding quite solidly with the side of the office high-rise. A tangle of limbs and metal and fabric tumbled to the sidewalk below and Hakuba stared for a few seconds before he twisted as much as he could to look back at the roof of the Suzuki building’s lobby. A man in black was standing near the edge, but his hands were at his sides, not aiming a gun. As Hakuba watched, the man reached into a pocket and pulled out a phone, putting it to his ear.

“That–”

Hakuba’s eyes tracked over to the breathless sound.

“That was incredible.”

Shinichi was lying on the sidewalk next to KID, the glider collapsed once again into a cape. A slightly hysteric laugh escaped as KID sat up and straightened his hat.

“Ten out of ten for the landing for sure,” KID laughed back.

Shinichi dragged himself upright and clapped a hand to KID’s shoulder. “Yeah. Thanks for the save.”

“Of course.” The response was coolly detached and Hakuba could not see KID’s face, but he could see Shinichi’s and there was something… something in his expression.

What is it? I’ve seen that look on Kudou’s face before. Appreciation? Gratitude? Yes. Both of those, surely, but it’s… deeper than that.

Hakuba let out a quiet sigh as the moment broke and Shinichi and KID both turned to look up at the lobby roof. He could hear one of the helicopters coming closer. The task force must be closing in, he thought.

Then Shinichi took his eyes from the criminal on the roof to scrutinize KID, his gaze clearly searching, and several facts very abruptly tumbled to the forefront of Hakuba’s mind.

Point one: Kudou seems to know the deep significance this man’s capture will hold for KID.

Point two: Kudou’s interactions with KID mirror his interactions with Kuroba.

Point three: Kudou’s interactions with KID used to be more similar to my own, but changed after the heist at the Noda mansion.

Point four: KID has favored Kudou at heists, with the exception of the Tiffany lamp heist which demonstrated a far more personal vendetta than KID’s usual pranking of officers and detectives.

Point five: Even allowing for Kudou’s kidnapping being a traumatic experience, he would have at least wondered how Kuroba managed to save him, and it is outside his character not to seek the answer.

Point six: People’s perceptions can be heavily influenced by what they expect to see, and what they expect to see can be influenced by what they want to see.

Hakuba paused at this last point before resolutely forcing himself to see it for what it was: a reason to dismiss what he himself did not want to see. A brilliant detective led far astray.

I have always thought that their relationship strongly suggested Kuroba using Kudou but… if Kudou knew all along… and KID favors him at heists…

He thought back to the heist at the music hall just six weeks ago.

Is Kudou actually using Kuroba toward some… furthering of his reputation? Or to escape the humiliation that comes with being a detective in pursuit of KID? Reviewing the facts, Kudou does make something of a… rogue detective. He could be capable of it. Or… Alternatively, he could–

“What–?” Shinichi breathed out.

Hakuba blinked and looked up. The man in black had grabbed onto a ladder hanging down from a task force helicopter and was being pulled up into the cockpit. Another helicopter chased after it, but it didn’t make it far. The small explosion sounded soft with distance, but the black smoke billowing out as the rotor blades stuttered suggested it had been fatally damaging. The chopper dropped.

“They sabotaged the other helicopter!”

Shinichi was staring up, his face clearly displaying his distress, and KID’s hand fell firmly onto his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, Tantei-kun. They’re not the only ones who know how to hijack a helicopter.”

From his position on the ground, Hakuba couldn’t see the moment the chopper crashed, but he saw the moment Shinichi relaxed. It was KID’s accomplice in that helicopter then, Hakuba reasoned. He must have escaped.

“The pilots are sleeping in the basement,” KID said, nodding toward the Suzuki building. “No casualties at least but… he slipped away again.” He got to his feet and moved into the street as he brushed at the dirt on his suit. “He’s earned that codename,” he added lightly.

“Maybe, but we were close that time,” Shinichi answered from the ground.

‘We’… Hakuba thought. And it was perfectly clear to him exactly who that ‘we’ included. He returned his focus to the woman beneath him who had started squirming and thrashing again.

“Well, you’re not gonna catch me sitting around on the sidewalk, Tantei-kun. And your friend there is otherwise occupied. What’s it gonna be?”

“Can we call this one a draw, KID? I think I’ve got bruises on top of bruises right now; I’d rather not invite any more.”

Hakuba heard a tsk-ing sound. “That’s not a draw, Tantei-kun. If you give up, then I win~”

“Jerk.”

“Well, you tried at least,” KID laughed. “Now then. Thank you for the eventful night. I look forward to your next invitation.”

There was a loud and somewhat familiar clunk, and Hakuba looked up again at the sound of a shouting stampede of task force officers charging through the unlocked doors of the lobby and into the street. KID was nowhere in sight, but Hakuba’s concerns were mostly centered around the possibility of getting trampled.

“I want teams A through C searching the area for any sign of him,” Nakamori was shouting. “Team D, help Hakuba-kun. Get that woman in cuffs, right now! Team E, make sure the fire department is at that building and the perimeter is still secure. Let’s go!”

The officers began to disperse and a small group of them circled around Hakuba, seizing the woman he had pinned and helping him to his feet.

“Her gun should be–”

“Here, Hakuba-kun,” one of the officers said, walking up with the gun and Hakuba’s discarded handkerchief in hand.

“Thank you,” Hakuba said, ignoring the woman’s vehement swearing as cuffs were locked around her wrists. “Is everyone all right?” he asked, as he always did on KID’s behalf at the end of a heist.

“We were all out of the action this time around,” one of them answered. “Really, we should be thanking you, Hakuba-kun.”

“Not at all.”

“So, what happened?” someone asked in an undertone, and a few of them moved in a little closer.

“Ah… Well–”

Between two of the officers standing in front of him, Hakuba spotted Shinichi ducking back into the lobby and his thoughts scattered once more into the realization that had struck him just minutes ago. His mind had continued to turn it over all the while, and the resulting conclusion was… inescapable.

“Actually, will you excuse me?” he said. “There is one more thing I need to do.” He pushed past the officers and headed into the lobby, striding right up to Shinichi.

“You knew!”

“Huh?”

“This entire time. How did I not see it.”

“Hakuba-kun, what are you talking about?”

“Of course,” Hakuba continued a little helplessly, barely hearing Shinichi’s question. “I thought, ‘He is the most brilliant detective I know. He would not knowingly fall in with a criminal.’” His mind caught and held the way Shinichi’s body tensed. The way his eyes had widened, locked on Hakuba’s. “But that logic was wrong.” He felt a strange kind of calm slowly creeping in now as the pieces settled together more snugly. “What I should have reasoned is that you are the most brilliant detective I know; there is no possible way you could have missed it. You just… do not mind. Or maybe… you even…” Like it. Have so much of a taste for danger or risk that you saw the enigma that is Kaitou KID and chased it. Caught it. Held on to it because you… wanted it. And perhaps… I was like you once. His jaw clenched. And perhaps that is the real reason I did not want to see it.

“Uh, Hakuba-kun, there’s something on your head,” Shinichi said in a pathetic attempt at distraction and damn did KID ever have his work cut out with this one. If Shinichi, however unintentionally, ever got Kaito in trouble with his inability to lie effectively, Hakuba was going to find a way to make him regret it.

“I am aware of that,” he snapped at Shinichi. He reached up and snatched the item from his head, not entirely certain when it had gotten there, and was not surprised to find himself holding the silver tiara bearing the Winter Cherry amethyst. There was a white tag dangling off of it and Hakuba tugged it loose.

“Thanks for the assist, Tantei-san,” it read. Signed, “Kaitou KID.”

Hakuba’s hand closed into a fist around the tag and he let out a sigh, closing his eyes. It looks like I’ll be helping them both from now on.

“Hakuba-kun…?”

And Kudou knows. “…It does not make any difference after all, does it,” Hakuba muttered. “It is a matter of proof.” He opened his eyes and met Shinichi’s. “Trust that I will be keeping a closer eye on you from now on, Kudou-kun,” he warned.

“Uh, sure?” Shinichi said.

Hakuba just looked down at the tiara and let out another sigh, then turned and headed off to find Jirokichi.

It would be so much simpler if we had remained black and white, he thought. Kuroba and Hakuba. He paused at the revolving doors for a moment then veered off to use one of the others instead, pushing his way out into the street. But with KID we cannot help but step into the grey. Kudou as well… How many more will be pulled in with us before this is over? He looked up at the smoke pluming up above the city lights as the sabotaged helicopter burned on a distant roof. I can only hope we know what we’re doing. Glancing down again at the tiara in his hand, he let out a soft laugh. Or, perhaps, it is enough to trust each other. There is no longer room for doubt.

Smiling, Hakuba headed down the street to return the stolen tiara.