Shinichi had felt the tug to travel since he was little, a toddler barely capable of speech as his parents took him to place after place. He remembers the joy of seeing a new location, the anticipation that going to an airport would fill him with, the laughter in his parents’ eyes as he pointed to items on the map of where they were going next that he wanted to see.
It had been fun, Shinichi would think wistfully as the years went by, as he turned four and suddenly had two new reasons to stay in Japan (well, he thought, one and her tagalong). He enjoyed Ran’s company, but it wasn’t the same as the utter relief at leaving a country, the wonder of seeing the lights in a city you’ve never been to before.
His parents felt the same, he knew, and he went with them as often as he could when they had the spontaneous urge to go somewhere new. They were contained to Japan, now, but that was okay; he went to the beach with Ran and solved a case with a nice not-pierrot; he went to Nara and pet the deer that approached him, as curious of him as he was of them; he climbed Fuji-san and explored the island of cats and watched the sun shine through the branches in the Arashiyama. He and his parents did everything they could think of.
And, eventually, it would grow to not be enough.
He felt the clawing of dissatisfaction intensify when he was twelve, and went to his parents. They looked at each other, then at him, and his father frowned and knelt to place a hand on his head. “We’ve been nearly everywhere in Japan, Shinichi,” he dad told him, and it felt like an omen.
“Then what can I do?” he asked. His hands itched, and his feet twitched, and his chest felt tight.
His dad frowned, picking up on the anxious tells his son wasn’t bothering to hide. “I’ll fill out the library more,” he said. “Books can take you to different places without having to leave the house –”
“But it isn’t the same,” Shinichi argued, and his dad’s frown deepened.
“I know it isn’t, but do that for now. We’ll figure something out.”
And as Shinichi was leaving the room, he heard his mom. “I feel it too, Yu-chan. I’ll want to leave soon too.”
The only time Shinichi felt like the world itself wasn’t crying out for him to explore was when he was caught up in his own adventures. Solving crimes, investigating places, even playing soccer was enough to make the itch abate. And Ran, his companion in his adventures, was enough to keep the urge to just walk out of the city at bay as well. First as his friend, then as he became her pillar when her parents separated, it was easy to hold off. Ran needs me, he thought, and that was enough to stay.
Two years passed and his parents sat him down. “We’re planning to leave,” his dad said, and Shinichi felt first confusion, and then relief.
“I can go with you?” He asked, a little surprised, and his parents exchanged glances.
“You can,” his mom confirmed, before holding up a hand when he started to speak again. “However, we’ll have to figure something out with your education. We wouldn’t be staying in any one place long enough for you to go to school.”
And that was when reality returned to Shinichi with a sharp, clinical clarity. I have to go to school if I want to be a great detective, he thought. And Ran…
And Ran had started trying to get her parents back together and would email him if she was upset and needed him to grab ice cream for her and Sonoko as the other girl tried to comfort her. I want to go, he thought, felt, ached. But I can’t leave Ran.
His parents read his answer on his face and his mom hugged him to her heart. He wondered if she could feel his own cracking a little.
They took him to Hawaii for a week.
They sent him back alone.
That gap where he wasn’t allowed to go to crime scenes was sort of hell, and Ran spent a lot of that time complaining about him not being home. “Are you sneaking out and trying to solve crimes on your own?” She asked once, fuming at him while Sonoko rolled her eyes on Ran’s other side.
Shinichi frowned. “Of course not,” he huffed back. Not on purpose, he added in his mind. Ran seemed incapable of understanding that if he didn’t look for trouble, then trouble often found him. “I went to Akiba,” he settled on telling them. He heard that there was a convention taking place and wanted to experience it. It was as simple as that.
They didn’t look like they believed him, but he wasn’t going to bother proving it. They didn’t need to see the buttons and the shirt someone convinced him to buy, didn’t need to hear the stories he’d gathered from the people there. He doubted they would share his enjoyment at seeing such passionate people, of living for a moment in a life as fantastical as the ones those people saw.
He went out the next weekend and worked as an extra set of hands for some fishermen, then helped a couple evaporate the weekend after, then saw a geisha performance after that. He was tied to the land, but he wouldn’t let that restrain him.
He went to museums, aquariums, theaters, concerts, conventions, anything to make it feel like he wasn’t dying a little inside. He accidentally got tangled with the Yakuza for a month before parting on amicable terms and visited more hot springs than anyone his age had a right to.
His parents were understanding. He had unlimited access to their travel funds and his dad told him their plan to put aside money into an account just for him. “Once you graduate, you can use that,” he’d said, and Shinichi loved them for it. Any money he made on his odd jobs would go into their travel account to try and make it back to them, and he’d only had a few arguments with them about it.
He learned English when his parents told him of their plan to have him visit America, and he took Ran with him.
The plane seat was more comfortable than any bed could ever be.
After the plane ride and the case that came with it Shinichi was back on call for Division One, and that horrible tightening around his chest, like a noose placed improperly, eased enough for him to be able to take ragged breaths when no one was looking.
The cases kept him sane, the English books he now read kept him content, the weekend adventures kept him happy enough, and Ran kept him in Japan.
He was sixteen when Megure let him ride in a helicopter with him, when he interfered with an attempt to steal a clock tower, when he barely knew what was going on but had the time of his life trying to stop the thief. The urge to leave was sated, but only for a moment, and he chalked it up to the joy of being in a helicopter as it took him away from the scene.
He was seventeen when he went to Tropical Land with Ran – and she never questioned how he knew the amusement park like the back of his hand, how some of the employees would wave at him as he passed and he’d nod back, the free cotton candy they were given as the worker there grinned at the face he made back at them – and solved a case that would lead to a year that felt decades longer.
Being Conan was…an experience. He was tied to the ground in a way he had never been when he was originally a child and that stung in a way, but Ran and the old man were frequent travelers themselves and they would bring him along. He’d forgotten how fun it could be to travel with other people, he wasn’t ashamed to admit.
He met a lot of people on cases that he wouldn’t have on his own, celebrities and masters of their fields, CEOs and their children, went to islands he couldn’t when his parents were still around.
He met the Detective Boys, and he loved that their drive to see everything matched his own. He loved following them on adventures, no matter how much he complained, he tolerated their teasing and their badgering him to play video games with him, he reveled in going on field trips with them and telling them random bits of trivia he’d picked up over the years that they all absorbed with gusto. It wasn’t enough to be happy. He would never say that.
But with this new childhood came a new trauma he’d not had in the last one, the understanding that, had he been in his original body, he could save more people, do more good. He remembered trying to pull a serial killer out of a fire only to not be strong enough, trying to save Miyano Akemi only to not be fast enough, trying to save Ran and only just being enough.
Sometimes he looked down and thought he saw blood on his hands, but then he’d blink and they’d be as clean as he usually kept them.
When his parents kidnapped him and tried to instill the fear of the men in black they thought he lacked, they probably didn’t know that he hadn’t felt that alive in weeks. It should have been his first tip off of who they were, really.
“Come with us, son,” his dad entreated, and Shinichi felt his breath catch, his heart thump for a moment in relief, before reality caught up again and his eyes clamped shut. Ran still needed him, he remembered, now as her support as Shinichi disappeared and wouldn’t call her near enough for her to be happy.
And what if the old man investigated something only for it to be tied to the men in black? What if they tried to silence him? What if he wasn’t as lucky as Shinichi had been?
Shinichi had to stay, and that realization was like a knife in the chest.
“I can’t,” he made himself say, and his parents looked at him in concern even as they said they understood and ensured that the Mouris wouldn’t question where his parents were again.
And he couldn’t help but be sad that, no matter how much they loved him, he wasn’t enough for them to stay.
He made friends he’s not entirely sure he would have were he still Shinichi, but he treasured all of them. Hattori was a great best friend; he may not entirely understand Shinichi’s growing ennui, but he was always willing to show him a different part of Osaka whenever he visited and Shinichi could appreciate that.
Haibara was a partner in crime that Shinichi never expected to make, but would never complain about. Her presence gave him a new purpose: keep her safe from the Black Organization, be her guinea pig for potential cures, be her support when she couldn’t walk on her own anymore. She – and the agony of the cures – made the burning in his lungs and the stinging in his feet feel like nothing in comparison.
There were so many others – Sera, Amuro, Akai, Jodie, Nakamori – and with each new connection made as Conan, each connection severed as Shinichi, he felt like someone was cutting off the ropes that were tying him to port.
And then there was Kaitou Kid.
Shinichi isn’t sure what it was about the thief but going to his heists, chasing after him, doing everything he could to outwit him; that made the creeping dread and the overwhelming desire to leave ease far more effectively than anything he had done before.
Even as he stayed in one place, even as he struggled and screamed through every antidote, even as he felt a moment of relief as he one week went to London and another week plummeted off of a cliff, Shinichi knew that Kid would be there for him to return to.
And that kept him in Japan too.
When the real cure to the apotoxin was created, nearly a year after the day he was shrunk, it felt like someone had put the world on fast forward. Suddenly he was an adult again, suddenly he was talking directly with the FBI, suddenly the Black Organization was being taken down as Bourbon, Vermouth and Kir switched sides or revealed their true allegiances. Suddenly the Black Organization was gone, Ano Kata detained and all of their pillars removed to leave anyone who got out floundering.
The first thing Shinichi did, with the Organization gone and his body back, was sit down Ran and tell her everything.
This, as one might expect, did not end well.
“I appreciate your honesty,” Haibara told him blandly as she handed him another ice pack.
He gave her a smile that was more of a grimace. “You might be the only one,” he told her, before hissing as he tried to keep the ice pack on his shoulder in place while pressing the new one to his rapidly-forming black eye and swelling cheek. Honestly, he thought he deserved the slap, and even Sonoko punching him in the face.
Considering that Sera knew or at least heavily suspected his condition, he thought the body throw was a bit overboard.
Akai walked in, no longer having to hide as Okiya Subaru, and looked at him lying on the couch. “There’s a girl with a ponytail at the gate yelling at you to let her in.”
Shinichi groaned but rolled onto his feet and started moving to answer. “Sure,” he said absently. “I still have a functioning arm. Might as well get this over with now.”
Akai and Haibara frowned at him but knew arguing would be futile.
Maybe if he was punished enough it would make up for the tears he saw in Ran’s eyes.
Ran was avoiding him.
Shinichi saw this coming from a mile away.
It hurt nonetheless.
Sonoko snubbing him in response was as inevitable as the tide. They had barely considered each other friends for years, their only connection being Ran, and with that gone, it had been expected.
Sera was avoiding him too, but if they walked past each other she might slow enough to shoot him a grin. He had a feeling he knew what this sudden radio silence was about, and it had to do with the looks she and Ran would share. He wished the best for them, though he doubted Sera would need it as she would never screw up as much as he had.
He tried to go back to school, but it was as awkward as parts of everyday life were now, especially as he still shared all of his classes with Ran. So he completed all of the makeup work that was assigned to him, spent a few weeks holed up in his library, and sat his exams early. He graduated within two months of his return.
He only left his house for cases and Kid heists these days, as far as his friends knew. They’d never believed him before when he told them he was doing random things in different towns, and he doubted they would suddenly believe him now, so he didn’t bother wasting his breath.
And returning to his wandering was like jumping into a hot bath after weeks of nursing sore muscles. He went to cat cafes and beaches, festivals and casinos, back to following his own whims and reveling in the utter joy that came with that. Traveling and sharing experiences with others was fun, but controlling the pace of the adventure kept Shinichi from losing his mind, and it looked like he could never do both at the same time.
The only other thing that brought him joy outside of the occasional call to solve a crime (which were becoming fewer and fewer because Akai had decided to stick around and there were now four notorious detectives in Beika, three of which were good) and his weekend adventures was attending Kid heists.
Nakamori didn’t take his presence well, at all. With Conan he could easily take most of the credit, and Conan didn’t have an official case success rate like Shinichi did. The other detective he saw at the heists, Hakuba, was equally displeased by his attendance, though he seemed to like him well enough in a non-professional setting.
But Shinichi didn’t go to heists for them.
Kid appeared to revel in Shinichi’s return to adult form, and Shinichi in turn gave as good as he got; jumping over traps, keeping pace with the Moonlight Magician, running until his lungs were burning pleasantly and his legs were shaking from the adrenaline. He sometimes wondered just how in sync his mind was with the thief’s.
He wondered this more when he was sitting on the roof after a heist one night, looking down at the city lights, and heard the flap of fabric in the wind next to him. He swung his legs a little from where they hung over the edge. “Hey Kid,” he greeted.
“Meitantei,” he received back, and he hummed a little at the moniker. It was only silent for another moment before he heard a throat clear. “Could you move more onto the roof?”
“Afraid I’ll fall?” he teased, but withdrew his legs and settled with his body on the roof and his back against the raised lip of the edge. When he was comfortable he heard Kid’s dress shoes step onto the roof as well.
“It wouldn’t be the first time,” the thief teased back. “At least this time it wouldn’t be on purpose.”
Shinichi laughed at that and tilted his head to see Kid standing just out of arm’s reach from him before turning back to examining the night sky. The light from the city hid the stars from view, and Shinichi felt a pang of longing. Maybe his next trip will be out to the country. “Take it easy, Kid,” he said lazily to the air. “The heist’s over; you’re out of bounds.”
There was another pause, as if Kid was trying to figure out Shinichi’s sincerity, before he heard a huff and the sound of dress shoes stepping closer to him. When glanced at him again Kid had settled onto the ledge, facing inwards, his leg inches away from Shinichi and his hand nearly brushing Shinichi’s hair. Shinichi hummed a little before turning back to the sky and following a blinking light with his eyes. Was it a satellite or a plane, he wondered.
“What are you thinking about, Meitantei?” Kid asked, and Shinichi blinked as the light moved behind a cloud and disappeared from view.
“Where I’m going to go next,” he answered. Maybe hiking; the last time he’d gone hiking he’d still been Conan. Maybe Agasa could find a way to invite him along on the Detective Boys’ next field trip.
Kid was silent for a moment. “What do you mean?” The question was sharp, and Shinichi tilted his head a little to see the light glinting off of Kid’s monocle obscuring most of his visage.
“I’m thinking about where I’m going next,” Shinichi repeated. “Maybe hiking, I haven’t seen the stars in a while.” He frowned a little. “It’s still too cold to go on a cruise and enjoy myself.”
Kid let out a breath that almost sounded relieved and turned away for a second. He had soft smile on his face. “I see. I thought…”
Shinichi stared at him, parsed the words, and let out his own sigh. “You thought I was leaving.” He turned his attention to his own feet, at the shoes Agasa remade to fit his adult self now and watched them drag against the rooftop idly. “I’ve considered it,” he confessed and the hand that had settled next to his head twitched slightly.
“Why?” Kid asked, and there was a hollow ring to the words that made Shinichi curl up a little more tightly to try and conserve his remaining body heat.
“Why stick around when you aren’t wanted?” he asked back. Why remain in one place when inaction can fill you with agony, he thought. “I decided years ago that I’d be gone the moment I wasn’t needed anymore.”
The gloved hand by his head moved, and Shinichi started a little as he felt fingers run through his hair and gently, insistently turn his face toward Kid’s. The thief was as inscrutable as ever as he looked at Shinichi and firmly said, “Then I guess you’re never leaving.”
Those words felt like a shock to his system, and his breath hitched as heat bloomed in his chest and spread up to his face. Luckily Kid had turned away to look at the city behind them, and Shinichi prayed he didn’t see the blush on Shinichi’s cheeks or the tears obscuring his vision.
It was only because Kid was the one to say it that the words felt like a comfort and not like a death warrant.
Shinichi was working in a casino as a favor for one of his acquaintances in the Yakuza and talking through the round when he heard an enraged, “Bakaito! What are you doing in a casino?!”
He turned to politely tell the person they appeared to have the wrong person after a quick glance at his players gave him nothing but confusion – only to yelp and jump away from the mop he found swinging at him. He started dodging away from his table.
The girl – who looked astoundingly like Ran – followed. “Aoko can’t believe you! You told Aoko you wouldn’t step in here until we were twenty!”
“Miss, I think you have the wrong person,” Shinichi entreated, only to flinch for his watch when she swung at him again.
“Don’t talk like that! Aoko recognized your voice!”
Of all of the frightening non-criminals Shinichi actually knew, he honestly hadn’t expected someone random to be the one to kill him. He’d had his money on Sonoko, truth be told. When his next backpedal caused him to run into something solid he covered his head and waited for the pain.
A few seconds passed before he cracked an eye open and saw that security had arrived and two men currently each had a hand on one of her arms. “Is there a reason you’re attacking one of my employees, miss?” A voice called out, and Shinichi turned to see Jozu, his acquaintance, striding forward with a tight frown on his face.
Well, he thought an hour later as the young woman – Nakamori Aoko, daughter of the inspector, of all people – took him to get coffee as an apology for assaulting him, he certainly couldn’t complain about the day being boring.
It was two heists later that Nakamori waved him over, and Shinichi felt dread creep like ivy up his spine. His obeyed the beckon and politely ignored how his smile was little more than gritted teeth.
“Kudo,” the man said. It sounded like a curse. But there was an undertone of satisfaction also there, and it made Shinichi wary.
He nodded back nonetheless. “Nakamori-keibu. Can I help you with something?” He cocked his head as the inspector wordlessly gestured to his side, where Hakuba had been standing.
“I’m afraid to say that you are no longer necessary nor wanted for these heists, Kudo-kun,” the blond detective said, and it felt like a knife had worked its way into his body.
Shinichi took a deep breath and tried to hide the pain that ricocheted through him. Not needed. “May I ask why?” he requested, and the other teen gave an assenting sound.
“We have reason to believe that the Kaito Kid’s natural face greatly resembles yours. If you attend a heist, there’s a decent chance that he could knock you out and disguise as you without any need for a face mask, rendering our efforts to check personnel before heists to be fruitless. You have become, I’m afraid to say, a liability.”
Shinichi nodded. “I see.” Not wanted. He swallowed and tried to regain his composure. “I’ll entrust this to you then.” He didn’t see a point in arguing, he knew that Nakamori wasn’t the type that would stand for any disrespect. If he acted on his own Nakamori could very well have him arrested and detained for obstruction.
Hakuba nodded back. “I’m glad you understand, Kudo-kun. Rest assured that we’ll see he gets brought to justice.”
Shinichi’s sure he made some kind of understanding sound, and he had to have physically walked away, but he couldn’t remember anything between that moment and Haibara tugging on his hand. “Kudo-kun?”
He jolted violently and suddenly the sounds of the crowd hit him. He had returned to where the audience was standing – and why did he do that, he wondered hysterically – and Haibara was watching him with well-hidden concern. “Are you alright?” She asked.
No, he wanted to say. No, I feel like I’ve lost everything now. Instead he shrugged and quirked a small smile at her. “I will be,” he said, and she looked like she was willing to trust him on that.
“So you’re going to watch the show this time?” she asked, and he shrugged again.
“Something like that,” he told her, before gently releasing her hand to ruffle her hair and make her shoot him a venomous glare.
Shinichi had often likened his situation to a boat that had been tied to port by various ropes, with the ropes all being things that kept him in Japan. Three of them, finishing his education, being old enough, and taking down the organization, had broken a few months ago, along with one of the largest ones: Ran needing him.
Slowly, after that, the other ties snapped one by one. Division One didn’t need him anymore, not with all of the detectives running around. The FBI didn’t need him now that the Organization was gone, Hattori didn’t need him – he had to assume, seeing as he hadn’t heard from the other detective in weeks because Kazuha was so angry with him on Ran’s behalf she got mad at Hattori for talking to him. The Detective Boys didn’t even know him, and Agasa had Haibara. Haibara had Agasa, the Detective Boys, and Akai to keep her safe now.
All that had been left, the only thing he had tying him to Japan, had been Kid. His heists, his riddles, the chase. Simply Kid. It had been the strongest tie he’d had in the end. And now it was gone.
He felt lost at sea, Shinichi realized, staring blankly ahead as the people around him starting counting down to when the heist would begin. All of his ropes were gone, but he was just…drifting away.
It felt awful.
Whatever else Shinichi was going to think in this strange fugue state shattered as Haibara’s hand suddenly clamped down on his again and she pushed herself as much as possible against his legs. His eyes shot down to see her shaking. “Haibara? Hey! Are you okay?”
“They’re here.” Her voice was barely audible and Shinichi crouched down to better hear her. “Kudo-kun, they’re here.”
What? But they’d taken down the Organization! He bit back his questions and slipped off his jacket to drop on top of her, pulling the hood up to obscure her hair and face. He then pulled out his Conan glasses that he’d taken to carrying with him and slipped them on. A push of a few buttons and the infrared vision flickered to life before his eyes. He swept the buildings around them and then –
“Ladies and gentlemen!”
There, on an adjacent building. Single person, too far to be in a good position for media personnel. He switched to night vision, zoomed in, and saw the gun. “Stay near the police,” he told Haibara, and he waited long enough for her to nod before tearing off toward the building.
As he ran he pulled out his phone and called Jodie. When she picked up he gave her the relevant information and she agreed to send people his way to help detain the man. They wouldn’t be fast enough, but that was alright.
He didn’t have anything left to lose.
Sneaking onto the rooftop honestly wasn’t the hardest thing he’d ever done. He took the elevator until he was about five levels from the roof and went the rest of the way by foot, inflating a soccer ball when he was a floor away. When he got there the man’s gun – a sniper rifle – was trained on the building the Kid heist was taking place in, and he had a second to line up and kick the ball before the man noticed him.
The ball hit its mark and sent the rifle skittering away from the man, stunning him enough for Shinichi to inflate another ball and send it slamming into the sniper’s face. As he was bent over and groaning Shinichi was able to close the distance and shoot a tranquilizing dart straight into his neck.
As he waited for the FBI team to arrive Shinichi tied the man up with his and the man’s belts and patted him down. He found a paper on the man and quirked a brow as he read it.
Itt wn bpm wbpmza izm owvm
Vwe qa vwb bpm bqum bw nitbmz
Lw ia gwc emzm qvabzckbml
Wvm apwctl jm mvwcop
Zmuiqv nzmm, uioxqm
Ivl bpm kzwea eqtt zmbczv
He blinked at the note for moment before running the first line through various caesarian shifts. With the key found he ran through the entire note again.
All of the others are gone
Now is not the time to falter
Do as you were instructed
One should be enough
Remain free, magpie
And the crows will return
While not explicit, it said more than enough for Shinichi. He took out his phone and snapped a picture, first of the message and then of the man.
The rest of the wait he spent on the roof, watching the heist through his glasses and smiling at what little he could see. The squad arrived just as Kid appeared on the roof, to the roar of approval from the audience, and Shinichi shut off the telescopic function to turn and talk with them.
“Glad you caught this guy, Boss,” one of them said, and he laughed as he watched the man carefully disassemble the sniper rifle.
“Last I checked I wasn’t anything close to your superior, McCoy.”
The American grinned at him. “You might as well be. Last I heard, some of the FBI are –”
Whatever the FBI were doing Shinichi would never know as that was when Jodie appeared and all of them came to attention. Shinichi offered her a nod that she returned with a slight smile before he went back to an impatiently waiting Haibara. The only people left as the scene besides them were the police, who shot him a nervous look as they clearly recognized the boy who’d just been banned from participating in heists, but he ignored them to crouch down next to his friend.
“Well?” she demanded when he was level with her, and he smiled and flashed her his phone with the photo of the captured man. Her breath left her in a whoosh.
“I got him,” he said needlessly. “He’s now detained by the FBI. And,” he flicked his thumb to show her the next picture, the encoded message that she decrypted as quickly as he did, “he should be the last of them.”
She raised a shaking hand to swipe back to the photo of the captured man, and stared. “It’s over?” she asked, and he smiled softly at her.
He didn’t say anything as she threw herself at him and cried into his shoulder, only rubbed her back with a gentle hum. When she stopped but didn’t release his neck he picked her up and carried her back to Agasa’s.
When his windows blew open that night Shinichi threw himself out of bed on the other side more as a survival instinct than any actual thought-out plan, his phone getting knocked off his bedside table along the way. This was apparent when he hit the ground with an oomph and, when he connected the dots on who that could possibly be, groaned into his plush carpet. When a peek over the bed confirmed that it was indeed Kid, perched on his window sill like a demented gargoyle in a top hat, he slowly got to his feet and shuffled over. “Kid?” he enquired, and felt a flash of apprehension as Kid’s face remained hidden from view.
“You weren’t at the heist tonight.” The thief accused, and Shinichi was ready to argue that he was there, what did he –
“You are no longer necessary nor wanted for these heists.”
– right. “I was…detained,” Shinichi told him, and Kid twitched like he wanted to make a gesture and had forced himself to stop.
“What could have detained you?” he asked, sounding genuinely irritated, and for a second Shinichi was tempted to tell him about Hakuba and Nakamori, about being banned from the heists, and not being needed anymore.
But what if he agreed with them? Kid already had a history of dressing like Shinichi, both to help Shinichi and to mess with him, and what if he started dressing like Shinichi as a simple solution to move around the heist scenes as he pleased after finding a way to let him participate again?
Shinichi wanted to be needed, but he refused to be used anymore.
So instead he took out his phone, got the picture of the sniper from last night, and offered it to Kid. It disappeared from his hand as the thief took it to scrutinize the photo and went so still that for a second Shinichi wondered if he’d replaced himself with a dummy and vanished. “I saw him at your heist and captured him. The previous photo –” Kid swiped to bring that one up “– implied that he was the last free member of the Organization. He’s in the custody of the FBI now.”
Kid was silent, but Shinichi thought he saw a tremor run down his arm, gone before it reached his hand. “So he’s gone? He’s not running around anymore?”
“He’s not running around anymore,” Shinichi confirmed.
And then suddenly there was a thief in his arms trying to hug the life out of him.
Tension flowed in and then out of Shinichi like a wave on a shore before he hesitantly raised an arm to herd the other teen closer to him. Kid followed the direction and loosened his grip on Shinichi, tucking his face into the detective’s neck. Shinichi felt a great shudder run through Kid’s frame and sighed softly, rubbing Kid’s back as he felt liquid drip onto his neck. Him too, huh. These people sure knew how to bring ruin wherever they went.
They stayed like that for a few minutes, Kid trembling occasionally before tightening his grip on Shinichi’s sleepshirt and releasing it again. Shinichi didn’t say anything, and eventually Kid released a shuddering breath before slumping forward in Shinichi’s arms. Shinichi blinked at him, momentarily stupefied, and gently moved him to sit him on the bed.
His monocle was skewed and his hat nowhere to be seen, but Shinichi just smiled and adjusted the eyewear to sit comfortably on Kid’s face again, before his hand drifted down to Kid’s cheek to brush away the shimmering tear track he saw there. Kid gave him a brief smile and began carefully tucking away his thoughts behind a neutral expression. “Thank you, Meitantei. That was…relieving to hear.”
“I can imagine,” he said lightly, tugging gently on Kid’s hair before letting go and stepping back, missing the way Kid’s breath hitched at the action. He nodded to the phone that had reappeared in the thief’s hands. “Email that to yourself if you’d like, I imagine you can keep where you got it a secret.”
Kid smirked at him even as he unlocked the phone – his hands fumbled on the password for a second and Shinichi smirked back when Kid gave him an almost flustered glance – and started up an email. Shinichi looked away and instead checked his traveling pack. He’d packed it the night before, but had been so out of it from the adrenaline rush of finally destroying the Black Organization that he wanted to make sure he’d packed the right sized clothing.
He had just taken out the suspenders Agasa had remade for him and was contemplating if he really wanted to bring them along when he noticed that Kid wasn’t typing anymore and was instead watching him with an amused smile, arms wrapped around a bent knee. He folded the suspenders away with an almost embarrassed huff. “Can I help you?”
Kid’s smile widened into a grin. “I would say you’ve already done more than enough tonight, Meitantei. I should really go.” The man got up with a swirl of his cape and slipped the hat that had just appeared in his hand back into place.
Shinichi nodded and watched the thief walk back to his open window. “It was good to see you, Kid,” he said, and Kid paused on his window sill. He felt the other’s eyes flit back to him for a moment.
“And you, Meitantei,” the thief said, and then he was gone.
A quick glance through his email history confirmed that Kid had deleted the message from the sent folder and removed it from suggested contacts, and Shinichi turned the phone back off with a fond smile.
With Kid gone Shinichi considered going back to bed, but he was jittery with the rude awakening he’d received, and so grabbed his laptop and retreated to the library. He had wanted to examine the note a little more, and now was as good a time as any. Once he’d settled onto his couch he opened his laptop and typed in the translated note.
The English seems deliberate, he mused as he stared at it. He searched English and magpie, and read through the nursery rhyme that came up. It wouldn’t be a stretch for an Organization that used the Nanatsu no Ko in their communications to use nursery rhymes from other languages.
One for sorrow, seems fitting, he thought grimly before looking a little further. Oh? “Jackdaws, crows and other Corvidae are known to be used instead of magpies in places like America where magpies aren’t common,” he read out loud.
If you only counted based on the crows from Nanatsu no Ko, it would be “a secret never to be told” or “the devil himself”, both also fitting. But add in the stray magpie and it became “a wish”.
That still wasn’t enough information, he groused, if it was anything at all. It didn’t tell him anything about what the secret was or what they wished for. But, before he could try and look deeper into the rhyme, he heard a throat clear behind him and nearly jumped out of his skin, his hands flinching as he stifled the instinct to protect himself. He spun around to see Akai standing there, looking slightly abashed but mostly amused.
“If you’re so tired you didn’t even notice me coming in then you should be in bed,” he admonished, but Shinichi just shrugged back at him.
“Couldn’t sleep,” he told the older man, and Akai hummed in acknowledgment.
“Mind if I join you then? I’ll be leaving shortly.”
Shinichi waved him further in and watched him in curiosity. “It’s oddly early for you to need to head out.” With the stuff that happened with Kid and his research it was only – he checked a nearby clock and grimaced – three in the morning.
“Masumi’s somehow managed to wrangle our entire family into going on a trip to the countryside with her and Mouri-san,” Akai told him. “I should be back in a week.” Shinichi tucked that information away. Less people to make food for, especially as Haibara and Agasa were going camping with the Detective Boys for a week as well, but that also meant Shinichi would be cooking all of the meals he was at home alone.
“Have fun,” Shinichi said, and Akai gave him a smile before settling into his chair with a book he’d grabbed from one of the nearby shelves. Shinichi looked back down at his laptop to continue his research and froze.
When his hands had twitched he’d managed to type gibberish onto the document (away from the message fortunately) and align everything to the left. And there, running down his screen, was possibly his last clue.
Shinichi wished Haibara, Agasa, and the kids a fun time camping and studiously avoided the look Haibara was leveling him. He’d slowly been looking worse and worse as of late, he knew, and his suddenly upswing in health that morning, while relieving, was most likely suspicious to her. But it looked like this time she was going to count her blessings with him and reminded him to eat regularly while she and Agasa were gone.
Once the car was out of sight Shinichi burst into action, settling the house into the state his family used for when it was vacated for a short amount of time. When he finished he grabbed his travel pack and checked it one last time.
Clothes, toiletries, gadgets he might need, identification, and a ticket to Greece. Shinichi smiled and threw the bag on, checking the locks one last time before slipping on his shoes and leaving, locking the door firmly behind himself.
His taxi arrived ten minutes later, as instructed, and he was taken to the airport.
Shinichi didn’t know what Kid was looking for, why the Organization had been trying to kill him, what the leader of the Organization “wished” for, or what any of that had to do with something called Pandora, but he was going to find out.
He was waved through security quickly and settled into a seat in the airplane in short order. As he read through a basic introduction to the Greek language, he thought briefly to the people who would notice his leaving. Haibara, Agasa, and Akai, definitely, but they were all adults who didn’t need him sticking around for one reason or another, and could support one another like they have been.
Hattori would notice, but that may be some time yet, seeing as the two could barely interact without Hattori getting in trouble with Kazuha – at least that’s what Sera had told Akai, who in turn told Shinichi.
Division One might notice, but they had more than enough detectives hanging around these days to pick up his slack.
Kid would definitely notice, but – “no longer necessary nor wanted” – he had Division Two and Hakuba to keep himself entertained.
Shinichi closed his eyes as the plane’s engines started up and began to lull him to sleep. It was fine.
No one really needed him anymore.
Shinichi wasn’t sure what surprised him more. The fact that his English and what he’d learned of the written language was enough to get him through Greece without much issue, or that the first tiny bookstore he found and asked about a gem associated with Pandora immediately got him a crumbling paperback about obscure Greek myths.
Either way, he spent the next four hours holed up in his hotel room reading the book and hoping no one was dropping dead outside because he’d siphoned away all of their luck.
So it was a gem that reacted to moonlight and granted immortality under special circumstances…honestly, with the life Shinichi has lived, the existence of an immortality stone wasn’t as surprising as it could have been.
But how was he going to find the stone? Or, more importantly, examine a potential candidate under moonlight?
It was at this point, as he wasn’t looking for any trouble in the slightest, that a hand landed on his shoulder. “Hey there, boyo, mind serving as a temporary hostage?”
Shinichi felt a grin creep onto his face and thanked his luck for the first time in a long while. “Only if you don’t mind helping me steal a particular gem, Lupin-san.”
A familiar face appeared, grinning cheerily back at him. “I’m listening.”
Unfortunately, you guys won't be able to see anyone reacting to Shinichi disappearing beyond Hattori, Ai, Akai and Kaito. The fic splits itself between following Kaito around and Shinichi, and Kaito has no reason to hang around Shinichi's former friends.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kaito hoped his smile wasn’t as dazed as he suspected it was as he looked down at the picture for the twentieth time in five minutes. Snake tied up.
Kaito felt like he was on top of the world, and it was no surprise to him that it was his favorite detective who had garnered such a reaction.
When Kudo had missed his heist, Kaito could admit that he’d felt…slighted wasn’t the right word. Maybe stood up. The Kid heists were the only way they could meet with any consistency these days, what with Kudo no longer living with the Mouri family and not being a grade-schooler, so to have him miss one of their dates – shut up that’s not what those are, a part of him hissed – had hurt.
When he’d gone to confront the detective, he hadn’t expected him to already be asleep, but he would admit he had been slightly mollified when Kudo had literally startled out of bed in response to his windows blasting open.
And then, of course, he found out that his detective had caught Snake, and with Snake captured every pillar of the Organization had been destroyed, and the fallout would likely quash any attempt to rebuild.
He could now look for Pandora in peace, and the thought had Kaito smiling at his phone again. He’d saved the photos onto his phone the moment he could and deleted Kudo’s email and contact information from his account to prevent any nosy blonds from asking too many questions.
Speaking of which…
“What has you smiling so much? Pleased your heist went so well?”
Kaito looked up to see Hakuba watching him warily and tried to affect a bored appearance, finger swiping his phone screen subtly to switch to the code Kudo had also taken a picture of. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I was just thinking about what I plan to do as my morning prank tomorrow.”
Someone next to them shivered at the thought but they both ignored him to lock glares. “What do you have on your phone?” Hakuba asked, and Kaito flashed him a fake smile and waved the screen at him, fast enough that he could only make out a piece of paper in the picture.
“Someone sent me a riddle, it’s fun to look at all of the implications on it.” Hakuba’s eyes narrowed on the photo and Kaito felt a surge of – something. Annoyance, maybe.
“Why is it so dark in the photo?”
“He’s a bit of a night bird, likes to wander.” Kaito would find out, months later, just how much of an understatement that one sentence had been. For the time being, he glowered at Hakuba a little longer before turning off his phone and stowing it away. He couldn’t afford to look at the picture of Snake with the nuisance watching him so closely.
The rest of the day passed Kaito in a rush and when he got home he entered the Kid Cave and stared blankly at the suit. His father had been avenged. Pandora was still out there, and Kaito wouldn’t rest until the gem was in his hands and destroyed, but now he didn’t have to worry about death being around every corner, about a sniper taking him out as he’s checking a gem in the moonlight.
It was a strange, freeing realization.
That night he emailed his mom the pictures as well, and they talked for hours about everything. She had cried for most of it, but he knew the feeling. He’d cried on his detective when he’d realized what it all meant as well.
He blushed faintly at the memory of Kudo holding him when he’d hugged the other man and then, when Kaito had calmed enough to be led to Kudo’s bed, rubbing a thumb along his cheek and tugging his hair just hard enough to register as a distant, pleasant pressure.
After the roller coaster of emotions that had taken place, watching his detective pace around the room and check on his own items while he thought Kaito was still emailing those pictures to himself had been relaxing. It’d been clear that he had still been a bit blurry from waking up so abruptly, but Kudo hadn’t complained about it as he rifled through a bag and contemplated the suspenders he’d found there with a cute – distracting – frown.
He shook the memory away and started planning his next heist. Now that the Organization was gone, there shouldn’t be anything to distract his favorite detective from their chase.
It took him a few days to realize that he hadn’t sent his surveillance doves back the Kudo manor yet. He kind of…skipped over the night he went to talk to his detective. It was too emotional for him to bring up without having to make sure his Poker Face was firmly in place the entire time. He thought about sending them back before dismissing the thought. He would get too distracted if he sent them over there.
The weeks leading up to the next heist were a whirlwind of planning, preparation, and watching Inspector Nakamori grind his teeth nearly to dust. Hakuba was keeping a wary eye on him but Kaito found he couldn’t care less.
He wondered if Kudo was as excited for the next heist as he was.
Shinichi was wondering how his life had led to this moment.
“Kudo, you’re the replacement for Schmidt, yes?” The conductor looked at him with a calm wariness that would have been more fitting on a police inspector than the conductor of an orchestra, but Shinichi just lowered his head a touch and nodded.
“Yes sir,” he answered, and for a second he wondered how the hell Lupin and his group had set this up. He showed the man the violin he’d bought a few days ago and let him inspect it as he wished. “I couldn’t bring my instrument from home but acquired a new one recently and practiced to become familiar with its quirks.”
The man hummed critically but relaxed a hair, and Shinichi did the same; it was clear the man could see he was being honest and his admittance to his practice ethics had been a point in his favor. “Well, here’s hoping you don’t ruin tonight’s performance, or no pay will be the least of your worries if you ever plan to pursue a career in Europe.”
Shinichi swallowed a little at the threat, playing his part, and gave a quiet, “yes sir.”
As the man nodded and motioned him to the other musicians, Shinichi saw Lupin give him a thumbs up and signal the rest of the group. Hopefully they’ll get one of the jewels on display tonight without much issue.
Shinichi looked out of one of the windows and took in the way the garden was softly highlight by the setting sun, and frowned at the dissatisfaction he felt turning in his stomach.
He hoped Kid was having fun.
Kudo missed another one of his heists.
Kaito breathed out a little to try and stifle his irritation. As with what usually happened whenever his detective didn’t attend a heist, he had the jewel in hand and had gotten away with little issue.
Maybe Kudo had been detained again? Kaito really hoped not; the last time, while incredibly rewarding in the end, was terrifying to think about in hindsight. Kaito didn’t know how many people had been there when Kudo encountered the member of the Organization, but knowing his detective he probably hadn’t had a lot of people helping him with it.
He pulled the same maneuver he had last month, landing on his window sill and blasting the window open. But he didn’t hear his detective respond at all; he didn’t roll out of the bed, sit up, shout, anything in response. Before Kaito could do more than hop off of the window sill and into the room there was a pounding of footsteps going up to the door, which slammed open just after.
It was the other man who lived in the house, Akai, looking around frantically before locking eyes onto Kaito and stopping short. “Kid-san,” he greeted warily.
Kaito didn’t say anything back only dipping his head for a moment. After a beat of silence as they sized each other up, Kaito lifted his arms to gesture at the bed. “Where’s Meitantei? He wasn’t at my heist tonight, and I’m feeling rather insulted.”
The freeloader leaned against the doorway and there was an exhaustion in the move that surprised Kaito. “I was rather hoping you could tell me,” he said. “Kudo-kun has been missing for a few weeks.”
And suddenly his detective missing from his heist was the least of his concerns.
The professor, little miss, and Kudo’s best friend were both downstairs when he and the freeloader went there, the little miss hunched up in a recliner with one of Kudo’s jackets around her shoulders while Hattori paced a hole into the ground. While she didn’t look as panicky as she might have were there any remaining Organization members on the loose, she looked like she was barely able to remain relaxed as she typed on the computer.
The Osakan detective on the other hand looked like he hadn’t been sleeping. There were deep shadows under his eyes and stress lines were creasing his forehead. His jaw looked clenched. Both of their heads snapped up when the freeloader entered the room.
“It was Kid,” he told them and Kaito followed him in. He couldn’t stop looking around, taking in the library. His dove spies had revealed before that this was the room in the house Kudo most frequented, and it showed in little ways, like the blankets draped over the back of almost all of the furniture and the scattering of books around the room.
The little miss’ shoulders dropped for a second before she regained her composure. “Kid-san,” she greeted.
The detective didn’t say anything, just grunted something and returned to his pacing.
“How long has he been gone?” Kaito asked, done playing these formality games.
Fortunately the little miss appeared to be of a similar mind. “We aren’t sure,” she admitted, before turning to type on the laptop balanced on her legs. “He wasn’t present when the professor and I came home. I’m trying to get in contact with his parents now. It’s possible he told them of his plans.”
“I was called a week after they couldn’t find Kudo,” the detective admitted, and Kaito grimaced at the envy he felt for a heartbeat. He wished there was a simple way for them to have contacted him, he could have helped them look for his detective. “It doesn’t help that the idiot apparently left his phone,” he then added, holding up a familiar device, and Kaito shot it a mild frown, trying to convey all of the anxiety growing in him toward it.
The little miss continued with her typing and Kaito rocked on his heels for a minute before moving to look at the books that had been scattered on the desk and tables, ignoring the wary way the Osakan eyed him. The Sign of Four was in what looked to be a place of honor, on the side table of the chair Kudo frequented the most, but on other tables was Poe, Christie, Allingham, Sayers, Crofts; it was a crime novelist’s dream room, Kaito was sure.
His thoughts were interrupted as he heard a female voice resound from the laptop. “Shin-chan? Oh, Ai-chan! How have you been?”
“…Not well, Kudo-san,” the little miss admitted, and Kudo’s mom seemed to finally notice the jacket around her shoulders.
“Ai-chan, what’s going on?”
“Have you heard from Kudo-kun?” she asked, and there was a pause from the other side of the computer. Kaito crept forward, curious about the hesitation.
“Not explicitly, no. Did something happen?”
The little miss curled up more into Kudo’s jacket. “Kudo-kun is gone. We haven’t seen him in weeks. We were hoping…” her eyes flicked over to Kaito for a second. “We were hoping that it was Kaitou Kid related and he would return after the heist, but Kid-san appeared tonight because Kudo-kun hadn’t attended.”
“I see.” There was a thoughtful pause on the other end of the call. “Yu-chan, can you check the account?”
Kaito crept closer and could finally see Kudo’s parents on the screen, his mom frowning slightly as his dad got another laptop out and started to type on it. “He’s withdrawn from it,” Kudo’s dad confirmed, and his mom sighed.
“Ai-chan, I’m sorry Shin-chan has worried you so badly, he likely didn’t know how to properly say goodbye.”
“He left?” The question sounded hurt, and it took Kaito a second to realize that he had been the one to ask.
Kudo’s mom looked surprised as she took him in, his dad’s eyes narrowed and analytical as he too stared at him. “Yes, I’m afraid Shin-chan left some time ago. He flew to…” she trailed off and peeked at the other laptop, “Greece four weeks ago.”
The little miss looked ill. “He must have left right after Agasa-hakase and I went camping with the Detective Boys.”
The freeloader grimaced, hinting that he too had left around that time.
“Damn it, I should have called him more!” Hattori growled, and Kaito turned to see the teen’s hands clenched into fists and shaking. “Every time I called him he said everything was fine! And with the way Kazuha was railing at me for siding with Kudo all the time I thought Kudo could hear her over the phone and it was just making him feel worse! I…” His shoulders slumped.
But Kaito couldn’t bring himself to care, not right then, not about that. “Why would he leave?” He demanded, and Kudo’s parents exchanged a glance.
“Shin-chan has wanted to leave Japan for years,” Kudo’s mom said gently. She held up her hand when Kaito moved to ask her more questions. “He traveled with us for years before we settled in Japan. When he was twelve we were all getting tired of Japan, and when he turned fourteen we offered to take him with us when we left.”
She looked resigned. “He’d gotten attached to Ran-chan, and she wasn’t in the best state at the time and really needed Shinichi to be there for her, so he stayed. Someone – something – in Japan has needed him this entire time, and that was enough for him to stay.”
“‘I decided years ago that I’d be gone the moment I wasn’t needed anymore’,” Kaito said, mimicking Kudo’s voice as he repeated the words that had almost stopped his heart months ago. He remembers seeing Kudo on that roof, on top of the world and all the lonelier for it. He remembered telling Kudo that he would never leave then, not if Kaito could help it he’d added silently, and having to look away so that Kudo wouldn’t see his Poker Face break just enough for a blush to rise on his cheeks.
He still wasn’t quite sure why he’d said it that way.
“Yes, that sounds like Shin-chan,” Kudo’s mom confirmed. “Whatever has been keeping him there must have finally been resolved.”
“He caught the last member of the Organization that has been a thorn in my and Meitantei’s side,” he offered, but the little miss surprised him when she shook her head.
“We didn’t know he was in the area when Kudo-kun apprehended him. We were…” she looked uncertain all of a sudden. “We were attending your heist, Kid-san. He had gone to speak with Nakamori-keibu and came back instead of finding a defensive position near the gem. He hadn’t looked good. After that I sensed the Organization member and alerted him.”
Kaito hid his tension behind his Poker Face as his brain whirled. His detective had gone to the heist? Why hadn’t he said anything? He’d spoken with the inspector before the heist and came back to the little miss. Had the man turned Kudo away? Why would he do that? Nakamori was at his most successful whenever the detective attended his heists. Was that what Shinichi had meant when he said he’d been detained?
Kaito didn’t know, but he intended to find out.
Shinichi blinked slowly at the gem in his hand, observing it in the moonlight. It was very beautiful, he noted, but it did not glow the red of Pandora’s hope in its center. He put the gem down next to him and leaned on the balcony railing, unsurprised when a person made themselves comfortable next him and snagged the gem. “Having fun?” Jigen asked, and he shrugged.
“I suppose. I’ve never played in an orchestra that large or professional before. It was…interesting.” He had been invited to an after party and danced with quite a few people. He felt great. But…
“Whoever you’re doing this for sure must be worth it,” Jigen said, and Shinichi snapped his eyes away from the horizon.
“How do you mean?”
“Look around you, kid.” Jigen opened his arms to encompass the area surrounding them. “You’re traveling across Europe working with a bunch of actual criminals to find a single jewel, and don’t care about us selling off whatever gem we find that doesn’t meet your specifications. You’re breaking the law for this person. So,” he gestured at Shinichi, “they must be pretty worth it.”
Shinichi stared at him for a second before letting a tiny smile escape. “Yeah,” he agreed, turning back to gaze out beyond the balcony. “I guess he is.”
He didn’t say anything about how, with his input and participation, he’d cut the number of injuries on both their side and the law’s down to miniscule. Nor did he point out how they were ransoming the gems at a lower rate than they ever had before. He knew bringing it up would not be appreciated.
So he just looked at the horizon and wondered what time he would need to get up to see the sunrise, his heart tugging insistently that way.
“Hey, Ahoko! What the hell was last night? Was your dad even trying to catch Kid?”
Okay, so maybe Kaito wasn’t the nicest when he was on a mission.
His friend turned to look at him, glare already fixed into place as she pulled a mop out. “Bakaito! Don’t say that about my dad!”
They went through their usual song and dance, but Kaito didn’t find any enjoyment in it like he normally did winding up Aoko. She seemed to pick up on that and soon slowed down, frowning at him. “What’s gotten into Bakaito?”
He rested his arms behind his head and continued walking to school, keeping half an eye on her in case she started attacking again. “I’m just bummed. I wanted to watch Kid go up against that Kudo guy and see what he did to get away, but he doesn’t even show up, it’s just your third-rate inspector of a dad and that bastard Hakuba.”
He ducked just as she swung at him again and she huffed a little in irritation. “Aoko can ask her dad about it,” she offered reluctantly, and he made certain that his head tilt toward her was languid rather than anything that would betray his hope.
“That’d be great. If the guy’s not going to show up anymore I need to know to lower my expectations,” he said blithely, before running as her grip on her mop tightened.
After that Kaito spent most of the day in a distracted haze, thinking about why Kudo could have possibly gone to Greece. Was it random? Did he go for the culture? The atmosphere? The cats? Kaito had no idea what kind of criteria Shinichi was using if he was going to be traveling erratically like his mother implied he would be.
His mom had also said he’d done nearly everything he possibly could in Japan to keep his cabin fever low. Maybe a place would remember him? There was a good chance he frequented venues like theaters or parks that offered multiple things to do. And if Kaito could get a good sense for what would grab Kudo’s attention, maybe he would be able to find him.
As he was looking up theaters in the Beika area he couldn’t quite contain his bristle as he heard a voice start up next to him. “I imagine you’re quite pleased with yourself.”
Kaito looked up and quirked an eyebrow at Hakuba, his finger stilled on his phone screen. “Why would I be pleased with myself? I always get Aoko this angry.”
Hakuba gave him an annoyed look. “Last night’s heist?” he prompted, and Kaito snorted and turned back to his phone.
“More like ‘last night’s circus performance’,” he scoffed. “Normally I’m on Kid’s side but I’ll admit that was quite the embarrassment.”
The blond hissed at him before regaining his composure. “You seemed agitated last night,” he hedged, and Kaito gritted his teeth a little as he realized he’d clicked on the same link three times now.
“Funny, I don’t remember running into you. Why do you think I was ‘agitated’?” He drew out the last word mockingly but Hakuba seemed determined to ignore his digs for the moment.
“You kept looking around and grew less predictable as the heist went on.”
“Oh I thought you were going to say I was getting agitated watching what’s supposed to be Japan’s finest make complete fools out of themselves, considering that I’m not Kid and even the newspapers aren’t pulling their punches this time.”
The newspapers today had been so harsh that Kaito had actually grabbed his own copy and was keeping it for a rainy day when he needed a good laugh (and wasn’t still reeling from Kudo being gone).
Hakuba seemed aware of this as well – of course he did, the asshole probably read it every morning with a cup of tea and a scone or something – and grimaced a little at the reminder. “What are you looking up?” He finally asked, eyes narrowed suspiciously.
Kaito mentally awarded himself a point for making him change the subject before looking down. “Museums.” It was a list of ones in the Beika area, and Kaito was about to back out and continue looking through the parks there instead when a picture grabbed his eye.
It was a picture of Kudo, fairly recent, wearing a modification of the employee outfit. There were bags under his eyes but he was grinning at the camera, hand up in a V with other people in the picture dressed the same and doing the same pose. It was located next to the volunteer services link, and Kaito stared at it for a second with a bit of incomprehension.
Aoko, who had been looking over his shoulder, perked up a little. “Aoko knows him! Aoko met him a while ago working at a casino. Aoko mistook him for Kaito.”
Kaito turned his stare towards her for a moment before resisting the urge to groan.
His search became both a lot easier and a lot more complex if Kudo was running around going to events and helping at them.
But Kudo had been chasing Kaito for years. Kaito certainly didn’t mind doing a bit of chasing back.
“I don’t see what this has to do with scouting for your next robbery,” Shinichi grumbled, but sighed when Lupin ignored him to stare at Fujiko sappily.
Fujiko heard and laughed a little, leaning back to give him a tiny wink that made him shake his head in exasperation at her. “I personally just wanted to see you in a gondolier outfit,” she admitted.
He grinned and tipped the hat at her, mostly to elicit another laugh, before pushing the boat further along. “I think I pull it off rather well,” he mused to himself, looking down at the striped shirt and red kerchief. “I’ve certainly been dressed in worse. Now then, Lupin, would you get on with the debriefing?”
“The what?” Lupin blinked at him and Shinichi genuinely thought about using the stick as a blunt weapon for a second before Lupin placed his fist into an open hand. “Right! The gem, that’s why we’re in Italy. Not for a date with Fuji-chan.”
“Yes Lupin,” Shinichi confirmed slowly, lifting a hand to try and rub away the tension headache he felt building. “Not for a date with Fujiko-san.”
“We’re after something called The Griffin’s Heart,” Lupin said, and Shinichi steered the boat carefully along the waterway as he listened. “It’s a huge piece of citrine, one of the Big Jewels, and is being kept in one of the more renowned museums. Boya, you might need to be more of a participant this time.”
Shinichi frowned. “What would you theoretically need me to do?”
“We’re going to bluff everyone out and make them think we’ve stolen the gem and then, while Zenigata and his men are chasing me and the cameras are still down, you can get away with the real Griffin’s Heart.”
Shinichi let that plan cycle gently through his mind, looking for weaknesses and pitfalls. It was a simple plan, with simple issues that were easy to move around, but Shinichi knew what the real issue was here.
Before now, while he’d known they were stealing things and was willing to be used as a distraction if necessary, he’d never physically stolen a gem himself. And now he might have to.
Shinichi worried his lip with his teeth for a moment, and Lupin and his paramour were understandingly quiet as he mulled over his change in participation. Shinichi, despite what Hakuba, Hattori, and various police officers thought, actually did know the law inside and out. He knew when he was doing illegal things, and he always took a moment to genuinely weigh if doing less-than-legal things to acquire proof or a confession was worth it in the end.
Shinichi had long known that he did things he thought were right, not what he thought were legal, not all the time. And stealing this gem was certainly proof of that, as this wasn’t legal in the slightest.
But it was for Kid, for whatever made Kid steal every month and look like he was losing hope every time he put the gem to the sky and nothing happened.
And Shinichi never shied away from breaking the law if he thought it was for a good reason.
Kaito had dinner with the Nakamori family that night, and he was looking forward to Aoko’s and possibly his interrogation of her father. He was disappointed he wouldn’t be able to get an immediate start on his Kudo investigation, but he comforted himself with using the rest of the day to plan on where to go first.
When he arrived at their place the food was already prepared and he had a list of places he’d be going that weekend. He threw himself into a chair with a, “whatever it is smells good!” and did his part of keep the night fun. Worried as he was about his detective’s disappearance, the teen had been gone for weeks now, and the country wasn’t in mourning from a news report of his demise. Kaito could hope that he was doing alright wherever he was.
As the dinner was winding down Kaito caught Aoko sending him a look and glancing at her father. Huh, looks like she wanted him to open up the interrogation. Should be easy.
“So Inspector, what happened last night? Kid looked like he was running circles around you guys.” The inspector tensed but Kaito just continued blithely onward, leaning his chin on a propped up hand. “Like no offense but the newspapers are kind of in the right on this one.”
Like Hakuba, the inspector grimaced at the mention of the papers. Kaito had a feeling that, if the man ever found out Kaito was keeping one of those for himself (and considering getting it framed), he would stop at nothing to see it destroyed. “We just hadn’t anticipated his change in methodology. We’ll do better next time,” he swore, and Kaito felt his brow furrow a little.
“What change in methodology?” He didn’t remember doing anything out of the ordinary, but once he’d realized that his detective hadn’t attended he could admit that the rest of the night had turned into a bit of a blur.
“He was less acrobatic and was using more gas and large area-affecting gadgets,” the inspector told him, clearly proud to have picked up the change in routine, and Kaito stared at his finished plate, surprised as he looked through his own memories of the night and realized, yes, he had changed how he did things that night.
He drummed his fingers on his chin for a second. Why would he change his performance enough for the inspector of all people to notice? Not noticing his lapse in concentration the inspector continued. “He acted similarly the heist before that but we simply thought he was having an off day. If he’s shifting how he behaves at his heists we need to adjust and respond in kind.”
He’d acted weird on the heist before that too? Just what Kaito needed to hear. He groaned into his hand a little in frustration before Aoko spoke, her brows furrowed. “So he started acting weird after Kudo-san stopped going to his heists?”
Both Kaito and the inspector froze at that, her dad frowning. “What brought that connection together?” he asked, but Kaito was too busy looking at his childhood friend like she’d upended a bucket of water over his head to check the inspector’s expression.
“I was going to ask if you knew why Kudo-san wasn’t attending heists anymore, as you always looked closer to catching Kid when he attended, so I was thinking about when he stopped showing up.” She shrugged easily and took more food from the center plate.
Kaito tried to center himself and took a sip of water, before grabbing more food for himself as well. He was digging into the rice when the inspector harrumphed and stabbed his chopsticks into his food roughly. “Well I can tell you the answer to that last question. Kudo isn’t attending heists anymore because I banned him from coming.”
Kaito inhaled some of his rice in surprise.
Coughing to try and clear his airways, Kaito’s brain buzzed frantically. “Why would you do that?” he gasped, finally able to speak. “That Kudo guy was the only reason you were even close to catching Kid a few times.”
“I’m going to be the one to catch Kid!” The inspector growled, and Kaito could barely stop himself from saying in what universe. “Besides, Hakuba had a good point. While we don’t exactly know Kid’s face, we know it looks like yours, Kaito-kun, and Kudo looks a lot like you. It would be child’s play for him to disguise as Kudo, and then he would be able to get to scenes without having to even put on a mask. It was only a matter of time before Kid figured that out himself.”
But I would never do that, Kaito wanted to argue, a curl of genuine indignation creeping through him. Kudo makes things fun, I wouldn’t ruin his ability to attend my heists. I want him there. But he kept all of these thoughts tucked under his Poker Face and instead played the role of an irritated fan, and not the incensed thief himself. “You said it was that bastard Hakuba’s idea?” When the inspector grunted an annoyed confirmation Kaito went back to his food as he mind started to whirl.
It looked like, next heist, he had a detective he needed to…chat with.
Waiting for the next heist he’d scheduled turned out to be quite the challenge for Kaito. It also didn’t help that a part of him now just wanted to punch Hakuba in the face every time he saw him – well, more than usual.
So Kaito spent a lot of time out of Ekoda, investigating Kudo’s travels through the country.
And if he’d had any doubts about his detective actually running around doing random things throughout the country, they were assuaged immediately.
It started with him going to Tropical Land, the ticket person there glancing at him before doing a double take and brightening a little. “Shinichi!” They yelled, waving him over to their closed window, which they opened with a flick of the wrist. “We haven’t seen you in a while! Here to work or play?”
Kaito looked at the teen’s smile, thought about telling them the truth, and decided to hold off. “I’ve been working a bit too much recently,” he admitted sheepishly, falling into his detective’s voice pattern without issue and rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. As he did so he began to subtly smooth his hair into resembling Kudo’s and shifting his body language as well.
The teen didn’t seem to notice and cocked his head to the side. “Oh? I haven’t seen anything in the papers.” He stared at Kaito for another moment before his eyes lit up. “Ah! Your volunteer work you mean! Glad to hear you’ve found more stuff to do.” And then, without bothering to ask for money, the guy printed out a ticket and handed it over. Kaito took it, hoping his staring wasn’t too dumbfounded. “Have fun! And try and visit the hospital soon, yeah? I heard the kids are missing their mystery-niichan.”
“They’re still calling me that?” he asked, adding an embarrassed note to his voice that Kaito’s only heard a few times, before accepting the ticket from the grinning teen.
Walking through Tropical Land while looking like Kudo was like stepping into a completely different world. The employees all waved at him, calling out greetings that he did his best to return, handing him items without asking for money and occasionally letting him cut in line if there was only one free seat left in a ride and everyone else was paired off. And the few complaints they got were waved away with a, “volunteer privileges,” that made Kaito actually want to check if that was real or not.
Everyone called him Shinichi instead of Kudo, and Kaito couldn’t help but wonder how deliberate that had been on his detective’s part.
The next day he went to the nearby hospital, not dressed as Kudo this time, and couldn’t help but wince every time a child ran up to him before realizing he wasn’t their “mystery-niichan”. He found pictures of the other teen, reading to the kids and playing with them, scattered with photos of other volunteers.
And so the entire month was spent traveling from place to place, trying to trace the trail of a teen who couldn’t sit still. It took a week before Kaito realized that Shinichi had no logic behind his wandering beyond popping into some places more than once to say hi. A quick break in to the Kudo Manor confirmed that Shinichi had a calendar with every event that was taking place every day. He likely just picked one every day and went to it.
It took another week for Kaito to notice that he’d started calling Shinichi by his first name.
He brushed that off easily, though. After all, everywhere he went, everyone used Shinichi’s first name, all of them smiling brightly at the thought of the teen detective that had watched their play/helped around the town/went with them to a cooking class despite not knowing them.
Kaito felt like he was learning something new about Shinichi every day he went out to a random city and poked around.
It was an exhilarating thought.
The benefit of working with a bunch of international jewel thieves, Shinichi has learned, is that they can steal quite a large number of gems in a short amount of time. The Griffin’s Heart was a quick operation and Shinichi performed his role and walked out with the real gem while Lupin and his group led the police on a merry chase through the city.
Now Shinichi was lounging in a café in Italy, waiting a few more days before taking a plane to Russia to meet up with them again.
The former detective looked out on the Riviera and swirled the coffee he’d ordered before taking a sip and humming softly in pleasure at the taste. Shinichi thought idly about the gems that had passed through the group’s hands with him along for the ride. None of them had been Pandora thus far, and Shinichi wasn’t ashamed to admit he was rather impressed with Kid’s determination if he felt the same curl of disappointment Shinichi did whenever a gem proved to not be Pandora.
Kid had been on his mind a lot recently, Shinichi realized. It wasn’t a surprise, Shinichi was literally committing larceny to help the thief out, but it was more than that. It was what Jigen had said. “They must really be worth it.” And Shinichi’s response, soft and genuine, “I guess he is.”
But what did that mean for Shinichi? Why was Kid worth going to all of this trouble? It was more than his mind, more than the banter, more than the games they played with each other.
It was everything underneath that, Shinichi realized with a start. It was the concern, the support, the vulnerability when Kid cried into his shoulder, the spark of electricity that had traced down his spine when Kid said “Then I guess you’re never leaving.”
It was the culmination of everything which made doing all of this worth it.
As Shinichi pondered this, in Japan, Kaito was getting ready for bed and having similar musings. He never thought that one day he’d be running around investigating someone like all of the detectives that have stood in his way over the years.
And yet here he was, chasing leads, talking to people about Shinichi when he was with them, trying to connect some kind of timeline to a map of Japan that traced Shinichi’s path for the past year.
And God, what a path. If Kaito weren’t as stubborn as he was and had the calendar he’d found in Shinichi’s house he might have called it quits days after he’d started. Shinichi traveled distances based entirely on his whims, decided when he got there whether he wanted to be a tourist or a volunteer. He moved so erratically Kaito was certain he could drop a tail if he ever wanted to. The only things that gave away each place he visited were the photos taken.
Kaito laid on his bed that night, staring at his ceiling, and thought, I wonder if Shinichi would be impressed with my investigation.
Right as he thought this, Shinichi’s head snapped to the side as he heard a flurry of wing beats, and watched as a flock of doves were startled into flight in the afternoon sky.
A rush of affection hit them both at the exact same time, along with a kind of breathless disbelief as the last clue slotted into place. Oh my God, I’m in love with him, they both realized.
Shinichi quickly got up, tipping his chair over in the process, and rushed off, not wanting to make too big of a scene as he tried to process that.
Kaito had no such issue and screamed directly into a pillow.
After going back to his bedroom, where he hyperventilated for several minutes before his logical side kicked in and reminded him that, not only was he in love with Kid, he had been for several months, and realizing it now did not change anything about his emotions, his objective, or what intended to do in the immediate future, Shinichi managed bring himself back under control and spent the rest of the day in a daze very reminiscent to the ones he’d get after a particularly draining case.
Once the day had come to an end and he’d slept off that revelation he took a flight to Russia and caught up with Lupin and his crew just in time to participate in their newest heist.
Holding The Artica up to the nearly full moon, Shinichi held his breath for a second before releasing it in a disappointed sigh as newly acquired sapphire glimmered but didn’t glow red in the center. He gently lowered it onto his lap and leaned his head on a window inside the car. “No luck,” he told them, to the discontented grumble of the group and the excited whooping of Lupin.
“More money for me~!” he said cheerfully, before twisting around in his seat and making grabby hands at the gem. “Now give it here! I need to start thinking about what the sucker’s worth on the market!”
Shinichi squawked and cradled the gem closer to himself. “You can think about selling it back to the museum when we arrive at the airport, now return to steering the car!”
Lupin whined at him and stretched to try and reach further towards the jewel but Jigen smacked him on the head. “Lupin,” he growled a little and Lupin pouted at all of them before returning his attention to the road.
“So where are you guys thinking to go next?” Shinichi asked, and Jigen turned to him with a smile.
“How does Spain sound?”
Shinichi blinked. “That’s a bit far.”
“Exactly! Tott-san won’t see it coming! We’ll steal something quick over there and head over to Paris.”
Shinichi scowled as the dots abruptly connected at Lupin’s words. “You’re not even going there for a Pandora candidate? Then why am I going?!”
“It’s a family trip, kid! You gotta come with, learn to appreciate the culture of the people you steal from. It’ll be informative.” Lupin grinned at him through the rearview mirror and Shinichi resisted the urge to kick his seat. “Besides,” he added, “I asked your Papa, and he gave me permission.” And gestured over to the grinning Jigen.
With that Shinichi gave in to his previous urge and slammed his feet into the back of Lupin’s chair.
“Honestly, you’re the worst,” he muttered at the man as he complained about having “such a bratty nephew” and turned to look out the window again. Tomorrow will likely be another Kid heist, he thought. I’ll have to see if I can find live footage of it.
Hopefully it would be an entertaining watch.
Kaito knew tonight’s performance was a bit of a shit show, but he honestly couldn’t bring himself to care.
With the realization that he was in love with Shinichi, the fact that Hakuba had been the reason he’d been banned from heists had only incensed Kaito further, and he was sure it showed tonight. He’d stolen the gem with only the barest flare for the dramatic and ran circles around the Task Force.
He’d also placed traps in locations he knew the Task Force wouldn’t check in their fervor to catch him but a detective would, based mostly on what he’d seen Shinichi step around before.
He arrived on the roof in near record time and waved briefly at the cheering crowd below before checking the gem under the full moon. Another failure, he noted with indifference as he pocketed the stone. That was fine, tonight wasn’t about Pandora.
He turned back to the entrance to the roof as Hakuba ran through, looking rather harried but no worse for wear.
Tonight was about “chatting” with an interfering detective.
“Tantei-san,” Kaito greeted, feeling a less-than-kind grin spread across his face. Hakuba took a step back, apprehensive, before steeling himself and walking firmly to the center of the roof. Kaito hoped his grin didn’t get even more sinister at that. Perfect. He quickly threw down a smoke grenade and relocated himself next to the door to the roof, closing and securing it into place.
No pesky police to interfere.
Hakuba spun around at the sound of the door slamming closed but Kaito had already moved again and relished a little in the blonde’s expression when he saw that Kaito had put his face inches from the other, expression tucked away.
Hakuba flinched back at the close proximity and narrowed his eyes, now wary of what Kaito could be up to. “What are you doing, Kid?”
Oh, good. He wasn’t trying to press his luck now.
“I have a few questions, Tantei-san. Questions I’ve been told only you can answer.” He slunk back a little, but only so that he could begin to circle the detective, trying to tamper down his need to move.
Hakuba was watching him carefully – probably trying to figure out just what kind of questions he alone could answer. And why Kaito looked like a wolf circling a lame deer. “I’m listening.”
Kaito hummed a little and cocked his head to the side so that the moonlight reflected off of his monocle. “My performances recently haven’t been as well-attended as I was hoping.”
“Oh? Is your ego hurt?” Hakuba asked with a smirk, and Kaito had to tamp down a flare of irritation at the expression.
“It was,” he admitted candidly, and Hakuba blinked at him in surprise. “That is, it was until I found out that the person I’d been hoping would attend was actually banned from heists. So tell me, Tantei-san,” here Kaito let the smile drop and felt the wind blow his cape some to the side, the fabric making a cracking sound with the force of the movement, “Why did you propose to ban Kudo Shinichi from my heists?”
He watched the blonde’s face twitch in surprise before he managed to hide it. “How did you learn about that?” He had likely guessed that Kaito had heard about it from the Inspector, which was true.
Nakamori wasn’t the only one who knew about it.
“I heard some of the Task Force talking about it,” he said lightly. “They miss Meitantei, almost more than I do.” A lie on both accounts, but not completely. Kaito had noticed that some of the Task Force looked down ever since Shinichi had been banned from the heists. It wasn’t uncommon for his detective to talk casually with the members before a heist, asking after their families and days. He remembered a time Shinichi had started asking after the wife and daughter of the man Kaito had disguised himself as, rolled his eyes when Kaito had hesitated too long to answer, and started the chase early. It had been quite the change in pace.
Hakuba narrowed his eyes. “I see,” he said, clearly not believing him. “I recommended Nakamori-keibu ban Kudo-kun due to his resemblance to you. It would be child’s play for you to detain Kudo-kun and disguise yourself as him.”
Kaito already knew all of this, but had wanted to hear Hakuba admit it himself. With the confirmation, Kaito felt his face shift, frowning slightly now.
But Hakuba wasn’t done.
The other teen gave him a look that bordered on patronizing as he said, “You’re being rather childish about this. When I informed Kudo-kun that his presence was no longer wanted nor needed and the reasoning why he accepted with good grace and left while you’re simply throwing a tantrum like a child whose favorite toy was taken away.”
But Kaito couldn’t hear him anymore, a ringing had filled his ears halfway through.
He thought back to that night on the roof, when his heart had nearly stopped when Shinichi talked casually about going somewhere, leaving he’d thought, the relief at learning he was just trying to find a way to spend the weekend.
“I decided years ago that I’d be gone the moment I wasn’t needed anymore.”
Suddenly the urge to punch Hakuba in the face got exponentially worse.
“It would appear, Hakuba-san,” Kaito heard himself say, but it sounded far away, like at the other end of a tunnel. “That you have broken one of the few rules I uphold in my heists.”
Hakuba looked confused, and Kaito kind of hated him for it. “I haven’t hurt anyone.”
Yes you have.
“There is a rule that no one discusses,” Kaito said instead. “A rule I know Nakamori-keibu does not care for but is in accordance with. Or at least, I presumed he understood.” Kaito took a step closer to the detective again, but Hakuba remained rooted in his spot. “I decide who attends my heists. I call the shots regarding who is banned and who is welcome. I make the rules.”
The blond bristled at that. “We don’t have to follow your rules, Kid. We aren’t here to entertain you.”
“Yes, you are,” Kaito hissed, and something about the way he said that made Hakuba flinch. “The reason I publicized my heists has been resolved, Hakuba-san. I no longer have to send out notices. I continued to do so because I wanted to see Meitantei again, but he’s been banned. The only reason I continued to release notices was because he improved the quality of my heists, and you have taken that away from me.”
“Your fans –” Hakuba started to say, but Kaito gave a flagrant, exaggerated shrug.
“Hacked security footage, recording myself, releasing notices with only just enough time to decipher but not enough for a coordinated police stakeout. It would be easy to keep the fans entertained without the police being involved.”
And I would give up all of my fans if it meant I saw Shinichi again.
Hakuba watched him for a minute, trying to see if he would falter perhaps, but Kaito met his gaze without any sign of capitulating. The detective eventually sighed. “We can invite Kudo-kun back, then,” he finally capitulated, and Kaito would have been pleased if he hadn’t known the truth.
“Unfortunately, that is no longer possible,” he told the other, and felt a kind of bitter satisfaction at the confusion he saw on Hakuba’s face. “Meitantei left Japan the day after you banned him from my heists. No one in the country has heard from him since.” Kaito smiled and hoped Hakuba felt every drop of resentment Kaito was nursing as he walked past him to the edge of the roof and engaged his hang glider.
“Sleep well, Hakuba-san,” he bade the blond who was watching him like he’d never seen Kaito before. “This might have been the last time you ever face me.”
And then he was gone.
Last chapter will hopefully be posted Friday!
It is complete!
For those who were asking/interested, I might add on extra scenes and snippets that detail other people's reactions to Shinichi leaving, but that is currently not a high priority.
Happy birthday Shinichi!
“So what am I supposed to do while you guys are having a night out?” Shinichi asked them, bag slung over his chair. They had landed in Spain without issue and, after a night in the hotel, met up to discuss plans.
Lupin shrugged and took a large swig of coffee that smelled far too much of alcohol to actually be coffee-based. “I don’t know, kid, what do you want to do?”
Shinichi contemplated for a moment and shrugged back. “Wander, maybe. I don’t think anything big is happening here beyond the viewing for the jewel you’re after. I might just be a tourist and go find some overpriced shirt to buy.”
“That’s the spirit!”
As they went their separate ways Shinichi lingered at the table and took a sip of his coffee, hoping the caffeine would help pick him up. He’d spent most of the night before worrying fruitlessly over Kid; the thief hadn’t looked very happy from what little the camera managed to catch of him the day before. Normally Kid was grinning his way through a heist as he dodged police officers and soccer balls with a near-unnatural grace. That night he’d only given the barest of smirks, and looked neutral every other time.
Shinichi had to tamp down the instinct to fly back to Japan and check on the thief himself. As lovely as the thought was, Japan was little more than a cage to him now; he wouldn’t be able to handle waiting for the next full moon in the country.
Maybe he could go back the day before the next heist and so only be stuck there for two days before leaving again? That could work it would also give him a chance to pick up his phone again.
Shinichi scoffed a little to himself as he finished off his drink and stood. Honestly, planning everything in advance and then forgetting his phone on the day he decided to leave? Sounded like him. He rolled his eyes at the thought and collected his bag and violin case.
Maybe he could play on the street for the day and try and solve a case he’d read about in the paper. That sounded rather fun.
“Kuroba-kun?” Kaito heard to his right, and he looked up with an annoyed face even as he moved his left hand so that it could clench without being noticed.
“Can I help you Hakuba?” he asked, his normal level of aggravation whenever the other was around on his face as the blond watched him with a worry Kaito didn’t appreciate in the slightest.
“Are you alright?” The blond looked uncharacteristically nervous. “You seemed quite upset yesterday.”
“Can’t say I know what you’re talking about. I had a bit of a head cold and decided to stay in and sleep it off.” His text history with Aoko would back that up due to a clever app he’d gotten made a few months ago that could delay texts. Aoko tended to watch and laugh as he sent complaining texts while he was sick, especially once he insisted he can take care of himself, he didn’t need Ahoko butting in, thanks.
He saw irritation flash over Hakuba’s face before disappearing again when Kaito moved to look at the board again. He’d tried to maintain his normal level of energy, but after how draining yesterday had been for him he just couldn’t. He took out a coin to flip over his fingers on his left hand, forcing it to relax and come back into view. Hopefully returning to his Shinichi research could pick him back up again.
The rest of the day was spent with him and Aoko squabbling about him being sick, lying to Hakuba’s face whenever the other teen tried to ask after him, and looking up more attractions in Japan that could have caught Shinichi’s attention.
When the final bell went off Kaito sighed in poorly hidden relief and got up to leave, only to be waylaid by Akako. He glanced at her as he pulled his arm from her grasp and shifted his weight to be evenly distributed. “Can I help you?” he asked.
Akako frowned at him. “You’re growing frantic,” she said.
He snorted. “What are you talking about? School just ended and I made a few plans. I’m not worried in the slightest.”
“Aren’t you? Ever since you learned about the Devil of Light’s escape from his gilded cage you’ve been losing your enthusiasm. Your last heist was proof of that.”
Kaito quirked an eyebrow at her as his arms crossed over his chest. “My last what? I’ve told you before, I’m not Kid.” He paused, trying to think of what else to say. “And what Devil of Light?”
She looked at him like he was being particularly stupid. “The one whose very presence can reveal all but the strongest of deceptions?” She shook her head. “No matter. If you wish to continue living as you are, trapped in a cage as your detective flies free, it is no concern of mine. Stop poisoning the air with your disquiet.” And then she shoved a paper at him before turning and walking off, leaving him to scramble to stop it from falling out of his hands.
Paper secure in his hands, Kaito turned and watched her walk away with narrowed eyes. What did she mean by ‘trapped in a cage as your detective flies free’? Did she mean Shinichi? Why did she know about his…interest in the other boy?
He cautiously shelved the thought for later and began looking for a trash can for the page of newspaper she’d shoved at him before something on the paper caught his eye. He froze and looked again.
It was a picture of an orchestra that had apparently played a month and a half ago, judging from the date of the newspaper. It was a number of people, most of them in their thirties and older.
With the exception of the wanly smiling Kudo Shinichi that Kaito spied in the violin section.
Kaito’s eyes zeroed in on the article itself before a frown crossed his face. It was a different language, words contained harder consonants than Italian or Spanish. He would have to do some research to try and figure out where the newspaper was from.
As he started making his way home, Kaito felt his chest get lighter. He loved traveling Japan, trying to figure out what Shinichi did when he was there, where he’d gone, but he had been looking too far into the past and not enough into the present or future. It may have been because of Akako, but he just got his first lead on Shinichi. He probably wasn’t in the papers every day, but it didn’t look like he was avoiding them either.
Maybe Kaito had a chance of catching him sooner than he’d anticipated.
Shinichi was in the middle of a song he’d been winging when someone walked in front of him, placing money in the top hat at Shinichi’s feet – he hadn’t even put the hat there, someone else had, but people kept putting money into it for him – and holding out a hand as if to shake one of Shinichi’s.
He let the song slowly trail away and shook the man’s hand amidst the polite applause of the people around him. “Can I help you, sir?”
“You can, actually,” the man said with a small, interested smile. “How would feel about making a bit more money than this way?”
Shinichi let his smile appear good-natured rather than suspicious. “Depends on how I’d be making it, sir.”
The man laughed at his supposed joke. “I’m part of a talent-finding agency, and I think I could help you find some work with the local music troupes and theaters if you’d like.”
Shinichi hid his reservations and started putting away his violin, checking the phone Lupin’s group had acquired for him. No messages, as he expected. With the violin tucked away Shinichi put case under one arm, handed the top hat of money to a beggar that had moved to be near him and turned to face the man. “Please tell me more,” he said, eyes wide with false-interest.
He thought he saw something like victory flash in the man’s eyes, but wasn’t sure if that was the case or he was projecting.
His mom was watching him from one laptop as he typed on another. He’d developed a simple search pattern, looking first for either of Shinichi’s names and then looking for anything about a young Japanese man helping out in an area or event. It got him a number of false positives at times but they were easy to filter through on his own.
“Kaito, your last heist…” she started, sounding worried, and Kaito looked up from his computer and twirled the pen in his hand absently.
“What about my last heist?” he asked, lost in thought. So far he found possible evidence of Shinichi in Austria, Romania, and Italy. Was he only sticking to Europe at the moment?
“You seemed upset,” she said gently. “Not even your Poker Face was hiding that.”
“It’s nothing,” he first said, as an automatic response to the gentle prodding, “I just…” he trailed of before deflating a little. “Yeah, I was upset. I’m still upset.”
“You know Kudo Shinichi?” She should, certainly. Even if she hadn’t been in the country for years, his detective has solved cases big enough to appear in foreign newspapers.
“Of course,” she said. “He’s Yuki-chan and Yuusaku-kun’s kid, isn’t he?”
That stopped Kaito short. “Um, yes? I think so?”
His mom read the confusion he wasn’t bothering to hide and laughed into her hand. She looked to be by herself, relaxing in a café in Paris. “Do you not remember? Your father trained Yuki-chan and had quite the rivalry going between himself and Yuusaku-kun, much like you and their son as I understand.”
Kaito coughed a little and tried to keep his face from heating. “I hope it’s not like me and Shini- Meitantei.” He took a breath to center himself, feeling his mom’s eyes on him as she watches curiously. “He left a few months ago.”
His mom raised an eyebrow. “What does that have to do with your heist last night?”
“…I may have found out that the reason Shi- Meitantei left was possibly because he was banned from attending my heists,” Kaito admitted to his twirling pen, and the silence that followed was confused.
“Kaito, I think you’re going to need to explain this to me better.”
“Apparently Shinichi has wanderlust like his parents,” Kaito began, and a nod from his mom let him know that she was rather familiar with that condition of theirs. “And the only reason he stayed in Japan was that he felt needed. I guess he thought I was last person left that needed him.” Kaito shrugged; he wasn’t quite sure of the logic, and the near frantic way the little miss, professor and Osakan detective acted when they found out kind of showed that Shinichi at the very least wasn’t unwanted. “And then he caught Snake and was banned from my heists, so I guess he assumed…” Kaito trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence.
His mom hummed thoughtfully. “I actually know the feeling. Kaito. I’m sure you’ve already guessed, but I have wanderlust too.” He nodded at the rather obvious observation. “So did your father, actually. We both loved traveling, going on world tours to steal gems wherever we went, it was such a rush.” She sighed a little at the thought, lost to happy memories, and Kaito felt bad even as he cleared his throat to wake her up. “Right. And then, when we had you, we suddenly were perfectly fine staying in Japan. We knew you needed us, and you as a baby needed to stay in one place to feel safest.”
She shrugged a little and her gaze flicked down. “After your father…passed, and you grew up enough to take care of yourself, I didn’t feel needed anymore and it felt like Japan would suffocate me if I stayed any longer, so I left. I’m sure Shinichi-kun felt something similar.”
Kaito blinked a little at the sudden deluge of information. “You’ve never told me this before,” he accused, and she shot him an apologetic look.
“I’m sorry, Kaito, but I was afraid that talking about it would…I don’t know…make you realize you felt the same.”
“What do you mean?” Kaito asked, apprehension about this talk stirring for the first time.
“Well, what do you plan to do after you graduate?”
“Look for Pandora and Shinichi,” he answered immediately, and she nodded even as she raised an eyebrow in curiosity.
“And what will you do after you find Shinichi-kun and destroy Pandora? Go back to Japan?”
“Why would I do that?” He asked, confused.
“Because you miss Aoko-chan and you can continue to be Kid and keep your fans happy. You can always video chat with Shinichi-kun once you’ve found him.”
Kaito, who’d been reluctantly nodding along for most of her logic, balked at the last part. “What? He wouldn’t come back?”
His mom shook her head. “Maybe in a few years, but going back to a place you felt stuck in for most of your life…I can’t imagine he’d want to go back for more than a few days at most.”
Kaito thought about it, thought about Shinichi coming to see him and looking like he was being chased by the Organization again, staring at the sky like he had on that roof months ago, disappearing for who knows how long again, and spoke without thinking. “I don’t want to stay in Japan.”
She blinked a little at that before a thoughtful look crossed her face. “I’ll ask you about that later, once you’ve thought more about it. Let’s go back to what we were talking about before. So Shinichi-kun left when he was banned from your heists, and then what? You found out, clearly.”
“It took me a month to figure it out,” Kaito admitted, and crossing his arms a little and leaning back in his chair. “When Meitantei didn’t attend the heist after that I went to his place to talk to him and found out he’d left the month before. His parents said he must not have felt needed anymore but that didn’t make any sense.”
His mom looked at him, somewhat confused. “Why would that not make sense?”
Kaito coughed at the question and looked away, fighting down the heat growing in his cheeks. “I may have implied to him that I still needed him.” His blush only grew worse as his mom cooed at him in delight. “Mom, please!”
“Alright, alright,” she giggled and subsided. For the time being. “And then you found out he was banned from the heists?”
He nodded glumly. “Nakamori-keibu said that Hakuba had told him to do it, so I wanted to confirm that was what happened, but…”
“But Shinichi-kun not being there makes it all less fun now,” she finished for him, and he nodded again. She sighed in understanding. “Keep at it if you can, Kaito,” she encouraged. “If you can finish school you’ll be able to travel more freely to find Pandora, and who knows, maybe you’ll find Shinichi-kun while you’re looking.”
“Maybe,” Kaito agreed, and felt his spirits rise a little at the thought. If the only thing keeping Shinichi from going to his heists was the Inspector and Japan, removing those from the equation should entice him back into attending.
“You okay, kid?” Jigen asked him, and Shinichi blinked at the man for a moment, caught off guard.
“Of course. I’m rather happy I managed to find the serial killer that had been targeting street musicians while you guys were off stealing The Nova.” It had been near frighteningly easy, if Shinichi were honest. Once the man had led him to an abandoned warehouse and tried to drug Shinichi with chloroform, it had been child’s play to get the guy with an anesthetic needle. After that he’d called the police, still a bit woozy from the bits of the drug he’d inhaled, and the rest of the day was spent talking with them.
“I wish you’d told us that was your plan.” The man grumbled, but Shinichi just relaxed further into his own chair with a sigh.
“I didn’t really have a plan until about half an hour after you guys left. Sorry.” He shrugged candidly as he said that and didn’t acknowledge the frustrated look Jigen was shooting him. “So we’re going to Paris now, right?”
Jigen grunted, seeing his diversion for what it was, but let it go. “Yup. Have you found the one you want to gun for this time?”
“I think so. There’s a display being hosted by one of the wealthiest in the country, which is showing off a bunch of the gems he keeps hidden away most of the time. There’s a star sapphire on display there called Starlight Symphony, and it sounded rather…eye-catching.”
A few days later Kaito sighed a little as his theory about Shinichi focusing on Europe was put into question. Apparently he’d run afoul of some people in Russia a bit ago but ended up uncovering a human trafficking ring when he was found by – wait.
The magician frowned a little at that line and started skimming the rest of the article. Was Shinichi traveling with a group, or was it just some people that he befriended in Russia? It didn’t mention them again, going on to talk about the human trafficking ring, but Kaito ignored that and brought up the articles he’d already read through. A quick search confirmed that Shinichi hadn’t been seen with companions in any other country, and Kaito made a small note of that before continuing to look through recent news articles.
And immediately found a new one that detailed Shinichi catching a serial killer in Spain – Kaito checked the date of the report – a day after he busted the ring in Russia.
The magician groaned and let his head thump gently onto his desk. “Meitantei, why must you make my life difficult?” he whined into his table, arms wrapping around his head in frustration.
“Kaito? Are you okay?” He heard Aoko ask, but only made a sound back in answer.
When he talked to his mom that night, she looked at him over her cup of coffee and put it down to take a delicate bite of the mousse she’d ordered. “Did you find Shinichi-kun?”
“I found out he was in Russia a few days ago and Spain the day after that,” he told her with a yawn, exhausted and frustrated and just a little bit impressed. When his detective didn’t want to be followed, he sure knew how to move erratically.
His mom winced. “I’m sorry to hear that, sweetie. Maybe you’ll find him in a paper before he plans to leave.”
She sounded hopeful, but Kaito just waved at her. “It’s fine if I don’t find him right away.” It really wasn’t, but Kaito wouldn’t tell her that. “Besides, it’s all a part of the chase. It’ll make when I catch him even more satisfying.” Now that he meant every word of. He rolled his neck for a moment to stretch it after a day of digging through foreign news websites and, when he looked back, his mom looked deep in thought.
She snapped out of it soon and put down her fork. “Have you thought more about whether or not you want to stay in Japan, Kaito?”
“I have. And I have no intention of staying in Japan any longer than necessary.” If staying in Japan only gave him access to some gems and meant he’d never see Shinichi again then what was the point? Besides that, Kaito thinks his mom might have been onto something when she said talking about it might make him more aware of it, because he’d noticed his feet itching and how he was getting bored in class even faster than usual (to the horror of his teachers and classmates).
His mom seemed to pick up on all of things he didn’t say and gave him a small, sad smile. “I’m sorry dear. If you need to, once you’ve graduated you’re more than welcome to travel with me.”
That sounded…fine. But not ideal. So he kept his face neutral even as he said, “Thanks mom, I’ll think about it.”
She read him easily enough and leaned forward suddenly, like she wanted to share a secret, and he followed suit. “Consider something for me, Kaito.”
“I was thinking about our last talk and wondered: would you stay in Japan if Shinichi wanted to go back and stay with you?”
Kaito blushed a little as he did what his mom asked and thought about it, imagining waking up to see Shinichi smiling at him, his hair messy like when Kaito had visited him two months ago. Shinichi swatting at him as he stole the book his detective would be reading while they ate breakfast. Just Shinichi, smiling quietly whenever Kaito looked at him and not glancing out the window like he would rather be somewhere else. “Of course.”
“And what if Shinichi looked at you one day and said, “I need to get out of the house. I want to go to Bucharest”? What would you do?”
That seemed like a weird question, but Kaito tried to imagine it, imposing the Shinichi in his head with one that was fidgeting slightly, looking determined but nervous as he said that, one leg bouncing.
For a moment Kaito imagined simply letting Shinichi go there alone, asking him to come back when he was ready, and was nearly bowled over by the fear and the anxiety and the dissatisfaction the thought inspired.
“I’d go with him,” he said, and hoped none of the negative emotions he’d just felt showed on his face. “I’d take him to Bucharest and go to shows and movies and concerts with him.”
His mom hummed at him. “Kaito, your wanderlust, now that it’s awake, might be tied to Shinichi-kun. You’ll only be your happiest when you’re with him, traveling or no.”
He snorted a little. “I could have told you that, Mom.” He’s pretty certain he’s been in love with Shinichi for at least a few months now. It didn’t come as a shock to him that he might only be at his happiest around his detective.
His mom didn’t say anything to that immediately, watching him for a moment through the laptop screen. “Well, I’m glad you’re amenable to the idea. It looks like Shinichi-kun is also quite fond of travelling with people.”
His attention snapped to her in an instant. “What do you mean? Did you find information on Shinichi?”
She frowned back at him. “Do you remember the news article that had him in Greece?”
Greece? Kaito hadn’t seen anything about Shinichi in the Greek news sites. “How old is the report?” he asked her as he changed his searched parameters to only look at Greece pieces. “His parents said the first place he went after leaving was Greece, but I didn’t think he’d be in the papers so soon after leaving.”
“I don’t think he intended to do so either,” his mom said wryly. “It was kind of…against his will.”
And as she said that Kaito stumbled across an article about a young Japanese man being held hostage by the international jewel thief Lupin the Third and screeched like a scalded cat.
“What’s that guy doing there?!”
“Stealing a jewel and kidnapping a teenager by the look of things,” his mom noted and Kaito spun around to point a finger at her.
“Why are you so calm about this? Lupin took Shinichi hostage! Why couldn’t he take literally anyone else?!”
“I don’t know why Lupin took Shinichi-kun in particular, but it’s obvious that the two of them are traveling together,” his mom said patiently, and Kaito felt his brain stall at the thought.
“What do you mean, traveling together? Shinichi may be fine with some types of criminals, but he wouldn’t just…let them steal gems without a good reason.” With the exception of Kid, but Kaito didn’t ransom the gems back to the owners for money.
His mom shrugged a little and sent him a bunch of links through the chat room. “This is a bunch of the reports about the gems Lupin has been stealing, the timeline he creates across Europe matches Shinichi’s whenever he appears in the news.”
“It would explain why Tantei-han and his parents haven’t been able to predict him,” Kaito agreed begrudgingly, thinking back on the Osakan detective that had thrown himself into looking for Shinichi like a man possessed. He checked through the links his mom had sent him to confirm that they lined up with what he’d seen of Shinichi’s traveling and felt something click into place. “Wait…” he turned to his other laptop and started searching the gems Lupin had stolen and frowned. “Nearly all of these are Pandora candidates.”
His mom leaned forward then, her interest further caught. “Oh?”
“Yeah, I researched all of them to see if they would be coming to Japan. The Griffin’s Heart and the Artica were definitely on the list.” Kaito narrowed his eyes at the news reports, considering. Lupin had never gone explicitly after the Big Jewels before, preferring easier targets for comparable sums of money. But he started going after them once he started “traveling” with Shinichi. His mind flicked back to the coded message his detective had found and it was like a lightbulb had flicked on. “Shinichi knows about Pandora and is looking for it,” he breathed.
“What?” his mom asked, surprised, before her eyes also narrowed in thought. “It would make sense timeline-wise, why Lupin started targeting the candidates so close together. And…that says quite a bit about what Shinichi-kun is doing.” She said that with a tiny smile, like she knew a secret, and Kaito looked at her curiously.
“What do you mean? And why would Shinichi be looking for Pandora?”
“Well the most obvious answer is he wants to ensure whatever Pandora is doesn’t end up in the Organization’s hands if they ever find a way out of prison.”
“That’s true,” Kaito agreed, but that also didn’t sound like Shinichi, not completely. He could have just found a way to inform his FBI friends about Pandora’s existence if his primary concern was getting it away from public access. So he had to have a reason for why he wanted to get a hold of it himself.
If he knew about Pandora and also knew Snake had been after it while targeting Kaito Kid, maybe he knew Kaito was looking for it, a part of him suggested, and a warmth bloomed in his chest.
Was Shinichi looking for Pandora for Kaito?
He hastily shoved the thought away and prayed his mom hadn’t seen anything. The tiny smirk she shot him did not fill him with confidence. He cleared his throat awkwardly and looked at the gems they’d gone through and crossed them off his own list. “They’ve gone through a lot of them,” he noted.
Luckily she decided to go along with his distraction. “They don’t have to worry about maintaining a school schedule, and steal at least one gem a week. Hopefully they’d be moving at a faster pace than you.”
Kaito hummed and looked back over at her, resting his chin on his hand. “Once I graduate I can just skip looking for Pandora and go straight to Shinichi, then. If he’s looking for it too, we can work together to find it.”
“Sounds like a dream come true,” his mom teased with a wink, and he whined a little back at her to try and stop his blush from making a reappearance.
“No! Honestly the best thing would be finding them in the same place.”
He could just imagine it now: Shinichi and him on a balcony somewhere, Shinichi leaning against the railing and holding up a gem to the moonlight, which filtered through it…
…only to reveal nothing within it.
Shinichi felt all of the air leave his lungs in a sigh as he looked on, disheartened once again to see nothing. “No luck, you guys,” he said, and Lupin’s crew all groaned behind him. He tossed it over to Lupin, who snatched it and jostled him gently on the shoulder.
“Tott-san’s gonna think we skipped town again, so we’re targeting another one in the area in two weeks,” he told him, and Shinichi pinched the bridge of his nose to stave off the flash of heat he felt building behind his eyes for a second before turning to Lupin.
“Why two weeks? Since it’s already in the area…” he trailed off in confusion, and Lupin suddenly started to look shifty-eyed, glancing over at a suspicious Jigen and moving so that Shinichi was positioned between the two of them.
“Well the one I’m after now isn’t actually in Paris yet. It’s being moved here from a vault in Greece. Called Anesidora’s Last Gift.”
“How do you know it’s being moved here?” Jigen asking, a scowl beginning to form.
“Umm,” Lupin drew out nervously, and Shinichi twisted around to watch him back up. “A pretty little bird told me?”
“Why are you trusting that woman again, Lupin!?” Jigen shouted then as Goemon and Shinichi both groaned and started massaging their foreheads to offset the oncoming headaches.
“Fuji-chan won’t betray me this time, Jigen! I just know it!” Lupin cried out near fanatically, and Jigen let out a growl and tried to get to Lupin only for the other man to dance around Shinichi to keep the teen between them. “Besides, I looked into it myself! Anesidora’s Last Gift is definitely coming to Paris in two weeks and I don’t want to miss out cause we’re stuck somewhere! We’ll strike while the exhibit’s still being set up!”
Whatever Shinichi had thought of the situation was dashed as Jigen picked him up. He squawked indignantly as he was moved out of the way so that Jigen could lunge at Lupin again. Now that he was out of the line of fire Shinichi rested his chin in his hand and hummed thoughtfully. So the gem would be arriving a little after Christmas. Ideally that would minimize security and people being out and about outside of the venue.
Hopefully Lupin was right and Fujiko wasn’t going to stab them in the back on this.
Kaito was horribly jarred out of his thoughts during class by his phone vibrating as a call came in. His hand shot out and silenced it immediately before he got a look at the caller.
His mom? Why the hell was she calling him at eight AM? It was like one in the morning for her over there. Kaito exited the room immediately, shooting the teacher a mischievous grin to cow them back into submission when it looked like they were about to speak up, and answered. “Mom? What’s up? Is everything alright?”
“Everything’s fine, Kaito, but I need to know: if I give you a week and a half of preparation, can you sit your exams early?”
Kaito blinked a little at the question. “Well, sure, there’s only a few months left and it should be easy to read ahead. But why?”
“I have a lead on Lupin’s next heist,” she said, and suddenly if felt like every single one of his nerves were firing at once.
“Where?” He demanded.
“Paris again, over your winter break. But if you really want to travel with Shinichi-kun, you have to sit your exams.”
“Yeah. I can do it,” he assured her, and ran a hand through his hair as he thought frantically about everything he’d need to review, what he would have to tell Aoko and Jii, how that would affect the next heist– “My next heist was in two weeks,” he realized.
His mom was quiet on the other side for a moment. “Have you already sent out a notice?” She asked, and he snorted.
“No, and I didn’t intend to. It’s fine, if anything this will really drive the point I’m trying to make home.” It did remind him to send the police a reprimand for taking liberties with his heists, but that should be an easy enough note to make. “Right, do you need me to go to the principal now, or will you call him?”
“I’ll call him,” she said. “You go back to your class and start reviewing what you need to. Once you sit your exams you’ll have half a week to pack whatever you’ll need.”
“Right.” He moved to hang up and hesitated. “Thank you, Mom,” he added, hoping she could hear just how much what she was doing meant to him.
“Of course, sweetie. Goodness knows your father and I weren’t any less dramatic.”
He laughed and hung up, strolling back to his classroom with a grin that unnerved everyone in the room, given how sullen he’d been looking until then.
He finally had Shinichi in his sights.
If there was anything Shinichi was not expecting as he sat at a table in Paris and discussed composing with a street musician he’d invited to lunch, it was someone calling out, “Shinichi-kun, is that you?!” In Japanese.
He spun around, surprised, to look at the woman approaching him. She appeared to be about his mother’s age, with hair that glinted red in the sunlight, and was wearing sunglasses and a stylish hat. She certainly fit into the crowd around here. “Hello? Can I help you miss?” He asked back, and she walked over.
“I’m not surprised you don’t remember me, the last time you met me you were a baby,” she said, and he nodded like he believed her. “I’m Kuroba Chikage, a friend of your parents.”
Shinichi blinked a little at the name as he ran it through his head. “Ah, you’re the woman my mom likes to visit when Dad really upsets her, right? She said something about him having a hard time finding her when you two travel together.”
The woman’s smile twisted up into a smug smirk, and Shinichi had to stop himself from twitching at seeing such a familiar expression on someone else’s face. “Yes, well, maybe Yuusaku-kun will figure out how to not upset Yuki-chan if he actually struggles to find her.”
Shinichi laughed at that, and the woman seemed to relax at the sound. He turned back to his table companion. “I’ll talk to you later, Lucas. Good luck on making that piece.”
“Of course,” the man nodded agreeably and Shinichi stood from the table to walk over to the woman.
She was looking at the man he’d been talking to curiously. “Making friends?” she asked, but Shinichi just shrugged and put his hands in his pockets.
“A few. I met Lucas on a street corner playing guitar and wanted to ask if he composed his own pieces and how that affected income. Would you like to find a place to sit and talk, Kuroba-san?”
Her smile, which had looked a bit forced, seemed to become more real after that. “I imagine you’re quite tired of sitting, so let’s walk around. I know a lovely park nearby,” she offered, and he couldn’t help but smile a little.
She seemed quite nice.
“I approve,” his mom said a few days later, as he’s nearing the day he would be taking his exams.
Kaito blinked at her over the papers he’s reviewing in confusion. “You approve? Of what?”
His mom laughed. “Of Shinichi-kun. I already thought I would, given his parents, but now I definitely think you’ll be good for each other. So you have my approval.”
Kaito couldn’t help but stare at her, a little blown away. “You found Shinichi? He’s still in Paris?” Honestly, only his mother could find the one person she’s looking for in the largest city in France.
“I told you, Lupin’s next heist is here,” his mom sniffed, but Kaito just waved his hand at her with an impatient glare.
“Well, yeah, but the man also has stolen at least one gem a week! I didn’t think he’d actually go two weeks without stealing something, it’s not like him!” But Kaito let the point go anyway to lean closer to the screen so he could see his mom better. “How did Shinichi look?” he asked.
His mom dropped her offended look to give him a soft smile. “He looked good, Kaito. Apparently he’s entertaining himself by talking to random street musicians and looking at different tourist spots. He was also quite the gentleman when we talked, asking after my health and being a wonderful guide if he knew anything I didn’t about an area.”
Kaito sighed in relief. “That’s good. I’m glad traveling with that guy hasn’t messed him up any.”
His mom laughed as he scowled at the thought of the thief Shinichi was currently hanging with. “I’m sure you’ll make your opinion known when you two meet up,” she said, and he huffed a little.
“You bet I will.” He reached out and fiddled with the phone he’d swiped from the Osakan detective before he’d left the Kudo Manor months ago. “And hopefully I won’t be the only one.”
He unlocked the phone – 1412, the same as it had been months ago – and looked at the mass of texts waiting for his detective. Only a few of them angry, most of them confused and concerned and asking after the teen.
Hopefully Kaito will get it to him soon.
It was the day of the heist and Shinichi didn’t quite understand why there was such a strange tension in the air. His eyes flicked to Jigen and Goemon, but they both equally confused and unnerved by the air. Lupin was frowning a bit. “You guys know the plan,” he said, unusually somber. “I’ll bait them out, start a car chase leading away from the city, with Jigen and Goemon providing back up in case anyone tries to come back, and Kudo will go in while the Tott-san and the police are busy with us and make his way to the roof. I’ll shake my tail once he confirms he has the gem, grab a helicopter, and extract from there. Clear?”
“Got it,” Shinichi confirmed, the other two making agreeing noises.
“Right,” Lupin nodded back, before gently nudging Shinichi. “Go get into position, kiddo. I’ll ping you once I think they’re far enough away.”
Shinichi nodded and made himself comfortable on the steps of the museum, pulling a book out of his slim backpack without issue. He flipped to where he’d stopped and read for a minute, then five, then ten, ignoring the wailing sirens around him and shouting people until he heard his phone chirp. With a smile he stowed the book away and pulled out a security jacket, putting it on over his shirt and zipping it up, turning his outfit into a fairly convincing guard disguise.
He trotted up to the doors and presented a swiped ID card to the reader, which unlocked the doors with a small beep. When he opened the door the entrance looked deserted.
It was easy work to make his way over to where Anesidora’s Last Gift was being stored, the gem already in its casing but no security around it set up beyond the now absent guards. With the ease of practice Shinichi slipped leather gloves over his hands and lifted away the glass container, setting it down gently before palming the amethyst. “Hmm,” Shinichi sounded, slipping the amethyst into a pocket of the security jacket and zipping it shut, “this was a bit too easy.”
“I have to agree,” he heard behind him, and Shinichi spun around to look at the guard that was approaching him, having clearly seen everything. “Let’s fix that, shall we?”
Shinichi swore a little at his luck and took off for the stairs, his hand darting into his other pocket to ping Lupin back twice – code for “have the gem but being pursued”.
What a night, Shinichi groused.
What a night, Kaito thought, careful to not let his grin show as he chased Shinichi through the museum.
His detective was rather clever, doubling back and feinting to try and trick him into hallways that Kaito knew led to dead ends. Unfortunately for him, Kaito had already been given the layout to memorize by his mom when he arrived in Paris a few hours ago. Now it was just a matter of chasing Shinichi until he reached the roof for his escape.
But even this was fantastic. Kaito could see why Shinichi liked chasing before; the different mental hurdles, struggling to keep his eyes on his detective, making sure to keep the other away from the other exits in case he wanted to cut his losses and make a break a different way; Kaito could certainly see the appeal.
Although, that may be due more to who he was chasing than anything else.
He narrowed his eyes as Shinichi’s body language shifted – preparing to force something open, he guessed – before he rammed into the door to the rooftop, and Kaito let out a near silent laugh as he followed close behind.
Shinichi was as far from the door as he could be panting a little as adrenaline coursed through his body. He looked up and groaned and Kaito finally let his grin creep onto his face. “You’re persistent,” his detective said.
“And you,” he said back, speaking in Japanese and not bothering to disguise his voice, “are a hard man to track down, Meitantei.”
Shinichi’s head immediately snapped up and Kaito felt himself go warm at the surprise and hope he saw in the other teen’s face. “Kid?” he asked.
He gave a theatrical bow. “Of course, Meitantei. The one and only.”
Kaito watched as Shinichi took a hesitant step closer. “How did you…what is…?” He started several questions, clearly confused, and Kaito felt his grin soften into something much gentler.
“Come now, Meitantei,” he said, taking a step closer and quietly adoring how his detective only seemed to relax more at his approach. “You know how the script goes. Now you have to hold the gem up to the moonlight.”
He was close enough now that he could see Shinichi swallow a little as he gave an unsteady, “Right,” and fished the amethyst out of his pocket. Together, they watched Shinichi hold it up to the moonlight.
Together, they watched it flash a brilliant red in its center.
This might actually be the best day of Kaito’s life.
This is the most confused Shinichi has been in a long, long while.
For one thing, what was Kaito Kid doing in France? Shinichi had already been worried when Kid didn’t post a heist notice in the slightest a week ago, and suddenly the guy he’s been in love with for years is in France chasing him?
That just doesn’t happen to Shinichi.
He turned to look back at Kid, only to see him inches away, his eyes locked onto his. Shinichi swallowed a little again, unbalanced at how intently Kid was watching him. “I think I found what you were looking for,” he said, and Kid’s smile made butterflies flutter in his stomach.
“I think we both found something I was looking for, today,” he said, never taking his eyes off of Shinichi and likely catching the way Shinichi’s breath hitched at his words.
Shinichi was both grateful and disappointed when a spotlight was suddenly on them and the ever-familiar voice of Lupin rang out. “Yo, kiddo! Did you get the gem?”
He took a deep breath, the banter steadying him even as Kid gave an offended hiss at the chopper. He smirked up at the man and turned his hand so that the gem was clearly in his hand even as he called out, “Sorry Lupin! This one is mine!”
Whatever Lupin yelled back – probably something congratulatory – was lost as he heard the shifting of cloth and felt the world tilt around him. “And this one,” Kid declared loudly, so that the other thief could hear him, “is mine!”
And that’s when Shinichi realized that Kid had shifted into his outfit and was holding Shinichi in his arms.
He made a protesting sound that was ignored as Kid continued to stare up at the helicopter. “It is safe to say your services will not be needed any longer,” Kid announced to the other man, and Lupin started saying something back before yelping as the helicopter pulled away. Shinichi switched his eyes over to the front and cocked his head as Fujiko gave him a little wave before his world shifted again and he realized Kid had jumped from the building and deployed his glider.
It wasn’t a long flight, and Shinichi spent it watching Kaito steer the hang glider and the way the moonlight illuminated his features. When he landed and gently helped Shinichi down Shinichi looked around and his eyes narrowed suspiciously.
This was the balcony to his room.
If he needed anymore confirmation that their plan to steal Anesidora’s Last Gift had been leaked, this was it.
But he shook the thought off – it all worked out in the end, so there was no need to worry about it now. “I believe this is yours,” he said instead, offering up the amethyst.
Kid stepped off the ledge and looked at the gem for a moment before turning his eyes back to Shinichi’s. “I’ll trade you,” the thief offered instead, and Shinichi quirked an eyebrow in confusion until Kid showed him the phone he’d left in Japan.
He stared at the device in surprise for a second before turning his hand so that the gem rested innocuously on his upturned palm. “Deal.”
Kaito cradled Pandora in his hand but all of his attention was focused on Shinichi, watching the other boy go through his texts. His detective wasn’t trying to hide any of his thoughts, and Kaito could nearly read the texts solely through Shinichi’s facial expressions; guilty frowns whenever he read ones asking about his health or situation, neutral for any angry ones, tiny smiles for whenever someone – probably Hattori, that guy really wasn’t the kind to give up – gave him humorous stories about their day.
Near the end he came across something he clearly wasn’t expecting, as his expression faded to a neutral frown before swiftly turning to one of surprise. Kaito crowded closer to look over his shoulder, giving in to the urge to lean against Shinichi. “What is it?” he asked, and Shinichi twitched in surprise at his proximity.
“It’s from the FBI,” he told him, before scrolling to the top to read the message again. “They want to sign me on as an unofficial contact in Japan.”
“What would that mean for you?” Kaito asked, before hearing a soft hum as Shinichi considered the question.
“If there was a case that extended to Japan, they would contact me to help look into it. Likewise, if I came across something in Japan that appeared to have international ties extending to America, I could immediately call them. It’s…interesting,” he said after a pause, and Kaito turned to look at him, his nose inches away from Shinichi’s cheek.
“But you won’t take it,” he guessed.
Shinichi nodded. “Not if it means staying in Japan,” he confirmed, and Kaito hummed a little at that and silently stowed Pandora away.
“You know,” he said after a moment, and waited until Shinichi turned to him before continuing, “when I said that you were never leaving Japan, I didn’t mean despite the risk to your mental health, and I’m glad you didn’t take it that way.” And he really was. Despite the fear, despite the uncertainty, he’d face that all again if it meant his detective could keep the color in his cheeks and the shine in his eyes.
Shinichi tried to look away but Kaito put his now free hand to Shinichi’s cheek, stilling him. “Japan was killing me, and you didn’t need me anymore.”
Kaito brought his other hand up so that Shinichi’s face was cradled in both. “I agree with you on that first part, but I think you quite misunderstood me that night,” Kaito told him gently. “I’ll always need you, Shinichi.”
At that Shinichi made a soft sound and leaned closer to him like a flower in the sun, and that was when Kaito pressed their lips together.
He doesn’t know how much time they spent kissing, pulling back by inches to breathe before coming back together. All he knew was that, by the time they withdrew, Shinichi had a hand wound through Kaito’s hair and another on Kaito’s hip to try and keep him in place. His hat had been gently knocked next to him and he removed his monocle and stowed it away. He then wiped away the tear track he saw shimmering on Shinichi’s cheek and smiled at the wonder he saw in his detective’s eyes. “Hello,” he said. “My name’s Kuroba Kaito.” And he offered him a dark red rose.
Shinichi blushed and gave him a tiny, adoring smile, and it felt like coming home.
Three Years Later
Shinichi was relaxing in a mountain lodge, letting his hands thaw by the fire when his phone rang. He checked the caller ID and blinked a little at who it was. He’d thought it was going to be Hattori, calling to complain about having to work with Hakuba on a case again. He answered and held the phone up to his ear. “Hello?”
“Shin-chan~” he heard, and Shinichi turned away from the fire to stare out the window to better concentrate. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been alright, Mom,” he said. The snow was falling in a soft blanket on the mountains and it was comforting to watch. “Kaito and I are taking a vacation up in the mountains before going back on Kaito’s tour.”
“Oh that sounds lovely! You’re in Switzerland at the moment, right?”
“Yes. It’s quite nice.” He’d found a store dedicated solely to chocolate a few days ago and led a blindfolded Kaito there to run around for two hours. Yesterday they had spent the day curled up by the fire, Shinichi reading a book and Kaito watching movies with his head on Shinichi’s lap.
Shinichi was enjoying himself, but he was excited to return to Kaito’s magic tour. The next venue was in Belgium. “Was there a particular reason you called?” he asked, before letting out a happy sound as Kaito settled next to him and handed him a coffee. Shinichi kissed him on the cheek in thanks and watched Kaito’s eyes as they mapped out his face before settling on the phone pressed to his ear in curiosity.
“So mean! Can your mom not call you just to check up?” He heard her ask in mock offense and rolled his eyes, not saying anything as Kaito pressed his ear against the back of the phone to listen in.
“It would be a first,” he said lightly, and she grumbled a little at him.
“Yu-chan and I are meeting up with Chika-chan in Vegas, and we were wondering if you two wanted to come watch a magic show with us.” Shinichi raised an eyebrow and didn’t have to look to imagine the face Kaito made at that.
“You want us to scout the competition? I doubt they’re much of a threat,” he said, and Kaito made a pleased sound and nudged the hand holding the phone gently. Shinichi smiled back at him before tuning back in to his mom.
“No! We just want you guys to visit and have some fun in Vegas with us!” He could hear her pout over the phone and sighed. “And we’re the reason you two got together, so you should be nice to us,” she sniffed.
“Mom, if anyone has the right to say that it’s Chikage-san, considering it was all of the favors she called in with Fujiko-san that let us see each other in Paris,” he said, before giving in as she whined at him again. “Fine, fine, I’ll see if Kaito wants to go. Happy?”
“Always with my Shin-chan! Talk to you soon!” she chirped, and he barely got out a goodbye before she hung up.
He closed the phone and put it away so that Kaito could interlace their fingers together. “So what do you say?” Shinichi asked, turning and letting Kaito curl up against his chest. “Interested in going to Vegas for a little bit?”
“Sure, but if one more amateur magician tries to vanish your ring because they think it’s funny I’m taking it as a declaration of war,” Kaito grumbled before Shinichi tightened his grip and made their wedding bands clink together.
He kissed his husband on the back of the neck, and Kaito relaxed further into him with a content hum. “I’ll keep that in mind,” Shinichi promised, already preparing for the drama that was bound to unfold.
He was looking forward to it.