It’s cramped and dark – only the slightest hint of light shining through the gaps of the floorboards, just centimetres above him. Conan can feel someone breathing shallowly against the top of his head; their body against his side; something damp, soaking through his clothes; can smell a horrible smell that he immediately recognises as a rotting corpse.
And he’s tied up – rope binding his wrists and ankles.
There’s a sharp stabbing pain just above his brow, where he’d hit his head before…before he’d blacked out. He must have blacked out.
He’d been with Hakuba before, and then they’d been attacked.
“Hakuba?” Conan whispers.
The body beside him twitches and then says quietly “Yes, it’s me.”.
“Are you injured?” Conan asks, because Hakuba isn’t breathing normally, and he has a worrying suspicion that the damp something he can feel is blood.
“He stabbed me. It’s been…I can’t reach my pocket watch like this…I was counting when I woke up…I keep losing count…”
It starts – as most things start – at a KID heist.
“Good morning Nakamori-keibu!” KID chirps from atop the glass case that had just a second ago housed the Golden Opal. He’s way too smug as he holds the gemstone teasingly up to the light, and Conan is tempted to kick a football at him then and there.
The gem he’s holding isn’t even the real one anyway. It glints strangely in the light – a cheap replica. The real Golden Opal is still inside the glass case – Conan cranes his neck – hidden by KID’s reflection.
The trick is so lazy that Conan gets second-hand embarrassment when it immediately manages to fool the entire Kaitou KID taskforce.
“Don’t say good morning when it’s night-time Kaitou KID!” Nakamori-keibu roars. He makes a dive for KID but only ends up toppling over the now abandoned case (and come on, it’s obviously not empty! KID isn’t even obscuring the view anymore). KID is swinging from the chandelier, grappling hook wrapped around it.
He pulls something from his jacket pocket and throws it to the ground.
Conan slaps his hands over his nose and mouth as soon as he sees the object leave the thief’s hand, but the taskforce doesn’t have the same foresight. They collapse against each other in a thick cloud of pink smoke, asleep within seconds.
“Hehehe,” KID giggles as he jumps down to the ground and steps over the sleeping bodies, “you’re right, Keibu – it is night-time. And it’s time you went to bed! Really, this is way too eas-“
KID lets out a strangled, terrified scream as he’s dragged to the ground by a hand around his ankle. Hakuba Saguru rises above KID, trusty pocket watch in one hand and the canister that KID had just thrown in his other, the opening sealed by his firm grip.
“The time is 23:14:05:02,” He says. Conan hears the click of his pocket watch as he closes the case – pockets it – and then Hakuba lifts the canister “don’t you think it’s time you went to bed, KID?”
He has a handkerchief to his face before the canister has even left his fingers. With a loud ping sound, the canister hits the floor and then rolls sluggishly away. The last dregs of KID’s sleeping gas seep out. It isn’t enough to incapacitate Conan – sat in the vents on the other side of the room – but he’s sure it must be at the very least dizzying near the case.
Hakuba must have quick reflexes, he reflects, to be able to grab the canister before it let out all of it’s gas.
“Oh, of course you would!” KID hisses as he scrambles back onto his feet, pressing a gloved hand against his mouth.
And – oh! He’s heading for the vents.
“Hello Kaitou KID-san!” Conan chirps, as soon as KID wrenches the cover off of the vent. He grins at the horrified face KID makes and presses the button on his watch to release the tranquiliser.
KID darts away quickly but Conan doesn’t give him time to think. He has a tracking device and he’s going to use it. Conan tackles KID and clambers over him, kicking and scratching at every available surface. This is fun – this is very fun. He finds himself grinning.
“Get off me you little demon!” KID yelps, grappling Conan’s hands away from his face. Conan’s foot ‘slips’ and just happens to connect with KID’s crotch with the full force of a kick. KID makes a pained noise.
“Hold him still, Edogawa-kun!”
KID wriggles violently underneath him. Conan just about manages to slide his tracking device into KID’s pocket before he’s thrown off.
Just like always, KID jumps off of the roof at the end of the night, an arrogant blob of white against the star-spattered sky. Police sirens blare in the distance.
“At least we managed to keep his hands off of the jewel.” Hakuba sighs, hands in his pockets. The wind is strong up on the roof and it catches against his clothes. He looks disappointed and very annoyed, as everyone does when they lose to KID – and Hakuba’s lost to KID more than most. Hakuba’s been going against him since before Conan found himself as a seven-year-old. Conan feels sorry for him.
He wasn’t going to tell Hakuba about the tracking device, but he’s sure that the other detective can keep a secret. They get along, after all, and there’s no way a fan of Holmes could be a bad person.
Conan looks up at Hakuba, a smile quirking at his lips, “That’s not all.” he says.
“Oh?” Hakuba says, interested.
Conan brings a hand up to his glasses and switches on the tracking mode. Sure enough, there is a blinking red dot, getting further and further away.
The tracker brings them to an old-looking house – two stories tall. The corrugated iron is more orange rust than not and the piping that runs up the side of the building looks like it needed a new coat of paint twenty years ago. Despite this, it looks like every other house on the block – if only a little worse off.
“He’s in here then?” Hakuba asks when Conan stops in front of the house.
“He should be,” Conan says, “but it’s entirely possible that he found the tracker and has led us on a wild goose chase.”
Maybe this is one of KID’s safehouses – if KID even has safehouses – but Conan somewhat doubts it. The house just isn’t the kind of place that he would associate with the thief. It’s too ordinary.
They walk up to the front door, Conan lighting the path with his wristwatch.
Hakuba, being the taller of the two, moves to open door. He stops short of it though.
“Edogawa-kun…” Hakuba says. He’s looking down at Conan – staring right into his eyes, even – with an odd look, like he’s trying to make sense of him. Conan looks up at the other detective questioningly, head cocked to the side.
Hakuba opens his mouth, closes it. His face scrunches up. In the end, he looks down with a perplexed smile and says “You astound me. A tracking device is something I never would have thought to use.”
It’s obviously not what he was going to say.
But the compliment is sincere, and Conan feels his face flush.
“Oh.” He says awkwardly, “Thanks.”
Hakuba looks speculative – assessing. That’s dangerous. Conan thinks quickly.
“Ah!” he yells, voice pitched probably a bit too high. It makes Hakuba jump.
“Ah?” he asks, eyes wide.
“Ah!” Conan confirms. His smile is so wide it hurts. He looks to the side for something, anything – that tree! He points at it “There was a tree like that in Kamen Yaiba!”
“Mhmm! It’s only the best show ever! Have you not watched it Hakuba-niichan?”
Hakuba squints his eyes at him. He looks at a loss for words.
“I’m not stupid, Edogawa-kun.” He says finally.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.
“Whaaatt?! Hakuba-niichan, are you saying you think only stupid people watch Kamen Yaiba?”
“No.” Hakuba bends at the waist so that they’re eye level, hands shoved into his pockets “I’m saying that I see right through you – the truth will always come to light. You may be a child, but you certainly don’t act like one.” There’s a frustrated note to his voice.
“Ah,” Conan says blankly, taken aback. He blinks, swallows, opens his mouth “right…the truth will always come to light…what truth is that? Exactly?”
“I’m not quite sure yet.”
“Oh…alright. Sorry…for treating you like an idiot…”
“That’s quite alright.” Hakuba says with a huff. He unbends and turns back to the door without even offering his own apology. Not that Conan’s sure what he wants an apology for, but something about Hakuba’s arrogant attitude rubs him to wrong way.
So, this is how Hattori felt.
Hakuba pulls on the door handle but it doesn’t budge – the door’s locked.
“Let me get that.” Conan says, throwing caution to the wind, and nudges Hakuba out of the way.
Is there even a reason to be cautious around Hakuba anymore? He obviously knows that something about Conan is wrong, even if he doesn’t understand it.
Conan feels his face twitch at the thought. No, of course he can’t be truthful with Hakuba.
“It’s all yours.” Hakuba says. And apparently, he can’t read the mood, because he goes on to say “Though, I have to say – first a tracking device, and now lock-picking? Are you sure you aren’t a budding criminal, Edogawa-kun?”
It’s affectionate; it’s teasing. Conan has to say that the only instant he’s found himself not liking Hakuba was just a second ago, when he called him out on his bullshit. And he’s somewhat glad for that, now that he thinks about it, because he enjoys talking to the other detective as an equal.
Conan grins as he fishes around in his pocket for the hair grip Ran had dropped earlier in the day.
“As if you don’t know how to pick a lock – you can’t be that strait-laced.”
“Well, no, but you mustn’t tell KID. I have a reputation to uphold.”
Conan pulls the hair grip from his pocket and sets to work on the door.
The lock gives a click and when they push the door open, they’re flooded with a cloud of dust that has them both coughing. There’s also an awful smell – like rot and mould and old crime scenes.
“Someone hasn’t been in in a while.” Hakuba comments. He absent-mindedly retrieves his pocket watch from his coat pocket and checks the time.
“Yeah.” Conan agrees. The pocket watch closes with a sharp click.
“Where’s the tracking device then?”
Conan leads Hakuba up the rickety, splintering stairs, following the red dot on his glasses. Inside the house it’s pitch-black and when Hakuba nearly trips over the first step he takes out his phone and turns on the torch. Pausing on the top step, Conan observes that the smell isn’t as bad on the second floor.
The landing that the stairs lead up to is small and there are only two doors – one on the left, one on the right. The red dot blinking away on Conan’s glasses indicates that the tracker is to the right.
He steps up onto the landing and makes his way to the door.
“Edogawa-kun?” Hakuba says suddenly. The light from his phone glances off of Conan’s face as he turns around to quirk an eyebrow at him, “Don’t you think it’s strange that there are no decorations here? I didn’t see any furniture downstairs either.”
“Houses get abandoned all the time.” Conan says.
Hakuba raises an eyebrow.
“This is central Tokyo.” He says flatly.
“You would not believe the number of abandoned houses the kids manage to find on a weekly basis.” Conan snorts, “I don’t think it really matters where you go – there’s always going to be an abandoned house.”
“Still,” says Hakuba, “Most abandoned houses aren’t so close to city centres.” He pauses for a second. “The kids? You say that as if you aren’t yourself a child.”
Conan feels his breath catch in his throat.
“Ah! Well- I mean- my friends!” he fumbles.
Hakuba gives a light chuckle, looking thoroughly amused, “I don’t expect I’ll ever understand you Edogawa-kun. I suppose my friends act a bit like children as well. Although, they don’t have the excuse of being actual children like yours.” His brow furrows for a second. “Ah- friends. Perhaps that’s not the correct way to refer to them – I don’t spend a lot of time with them.”
Hakuba doesn’t look at all put off by his words, merely speculative, so Conan gets up onto his tiptoes and turns the door handle. He has to admit that he doesn’t know a lot about the other detective.
The room beyond is almost as empty as the rest of the house. The only thing setting it apart is the white pile of material lying discarded on the floor, directly below a hole in the roof. As soon as Hakuba catches sight of it he strides past him.
There’s a pinched expression on his face as he crouches down and picks it up.
“I can’t I believe I fell for this.” Hakuba mutters.
“What is it?” Conan asks. Whatever it is, Hakuba had recognised it without even shining a light over it. Conan wanders over and peers over Hakuba’s shoulder.
He’s holding one of KID’s inflatable dummies, only this one is deflated. It must have snagged against something on the way in.
“He noticed the tracker then.” Conan sighs.
“It would seem so.”
“What a shame.”
It’s with an air of annoyed defeat that they leave the room. Hakuba leads the way downstairs, his pace quicker in his frustration. He has the deflated Kaitou KID dummy folded over his arm.
It’s when he steps off of the bottom step that Conan almost trips. Something small skitters past his feet.
“Huh?” he says.
Hakuba turns around, half-way to the door. “Edogawa-kun?” he asks.
“There’s something here.” Conan says. He points his wristwatch across the floor, just about manages to see the form of a rat before it’s scurried out of the room “A rat.”
“A rat?” says Hakuba. He tilts his head “Are you sure? This house is completely abandoned – there wouldn’t be a food source here.”
“I’m certain.” Conan says. He walks along the wooden floorboards, hears Hakuba hesitate for a second and then follow him.
Now that they’re both quiet, concentrating on their surroundings, Conan realises that he can hear something from below – a quiet, wet, squirming sound. He shines his wristwatch down at the floor.
“Do you hear that?” he says.
“Yes.” Hakuba nods. He gets down on his knees, places the deflated dummy next to him and then his phone over one of the gaps between the planks of wood. He presses his face right up against the floor. Conan squats down next to him.
“Can you see anything?” He asks.
Hakuba looks up, disgust evident on his face.
“Maggots,” he says, “There must be dead rats down there.”
“Hah.” Conan snorts, “That explains the old crime scene smell.”
“And the food source,” says Hakuba, nose wrinkling, “I wouldn’t put it past rats to eat their family members.”
Conan nods. He moves to stand back up and then-
A ringing goes off – the default ringtone of a phone. It’s coming from beneath the floorboards. He sees Hakuba stiffen out of the corner of his eye. Conan stiffens himself, feels an icy feeling in his chest. They both sit there until the ringing cuts off.
“That doesn’t sound like maggots.” Conan says.
“Agreed,” Hakuba says. He grabs his phone off of the floor, “we should call the police.”
Conan mumbles an agreement. Across the room he sees a crowbar, propped up against the wall. It’s the only thing he’s seen in the empty house.
Conan stands and walks over to it. He picks it up.
“What are you doing Edogawa-kun?” Hakuba asks warily, phone held to his ear.
“Might as well save the police a job.” Conan says. He hooks the end into one of the gaps between the floorboards.
“Maybe don’t do that.” Hakuba advises. His voice is pitched a bit too high and he crosses the room quickly to take the crowbar from Conan.
“Huh?” Conan says, dumbfounded.
“You’re a child Edogawa-kun.” Hakuba says pointedly.
“Oh, fuck, I forgot.”
It just kind of slips out. Conan freezes, lips pursed.
“Oh fudge, I mean.”
“I honestly don’t know how to treat you,” Hakuba declares “my brain says to treat you as a child because you are one, but then you go and say things like that – as if they’re second nature – and it makes me all the more dubious of what you are. Please don’t try to hide your obvious intelligence in front of me – it just makes you look pathetic.”
Before Conan can ask what Hakuba means by ‘dubious of what you are’ (and also tell him off for calling him pathetic, because he’s not pathetic) the other detective turns his attention back to his phone.
“Ah, good evening Nakamori-keibu. This is Hakuba. Edogawa-kun and I seem to have stumbled upon a crime scene…” he pauses, listening, and then lets out a long sigh “I’m not talking about the heist, Nakamori-keibu – I’m talking about a murder.”
It starts at the Detective Koshien. Or rather, it starts at the Sunset Mansion, but he doesn’t truly understand what it is until the Detective Koshien, when Edogawa Conan tells him that his deduction is wrong.
‘It’ is a niggling feeling, that something is not quite right.
And that ‘something’ is Edogawa Conan.
A boy who displays intelligence well beyond his age; a boy who talks in a chirpy tone one second and then a serious one the next; a boy who doesn’t get scared at the sight of a dead body.
A boy who seemingly didn’t exist before December the previous year.
Yes, he has a birth certificate – but that’s about it.
There’s no record of any schooling prior to Teitan Elementary, nothing about him in newspapers. He wasn’t registered at birth. No friends or proof of his parents’ identities. No passport – so how on Earth did a boy who apparently grew up in America get all the way to Japan?
Saguru would think he was under witness protection if the cover-up wasn’t so sloppy.
When Edogawa had tackled KID and kicked him in the crotch earlier that very evening, Saguru hadn’t been surprised. He’d spotted Mouri Ran and her friend leaving the museum at 20:54:32:02 minus a child and had drawn conclusions.
What had surprised him was Edogawa revealing his use of a tracking device. It was a pretty careless move for someone who was so obviously hiding under a fake identity.
The tracking device; the lock-picking; the way he talks about his friends; ‘Oh, fuck, I forgot.’ – nothing Edogawa does is childlike at all, even when he’s pretending to be childlike. Edogawa Conan is on the opposite end of a scale to a 4Kids anime dub, but Hakuba has no idea what that end of the scale can be described as.
“Oi, oi. How many bodies are they bringing out…” Conan’s surprised muttering brings him out of his thoughts. It is in fact a lot of bodies.
His hand moves in his pocket, tracing the casing of his pocket watch. It’s a comforting feeling. Saguru takes it from his pocket and opens it. The time reads 01:11:45:08.
He just knows that Kuroba is going to be insufferable during class today.
In the end, seven bodies are recovered from underneath the floorboards.
Megure-keibu agrees somewhat hesitantly to send Saguru the case notes once his officers have gone through all the evidence and interviewed the victims’ families. And then Saguru goes home, falls into bed, and wakes up after three hours of sleep to his alarm.
As expected, Kuroba makes a valiant effort to be incredibly annoying as soon as he steps foot inside the classroom.
Saguru ignores him and sits down at his desk, but that just seems to delight Kuroba even more. It’s not surprising that when Konno-sensei finally arrives – five minutes and 25 milliseconds late, mind you – she takes one look at the ceiling and walks back out.
Saguru grinds his teeth together. He reaches into his pocket to finger at the cool metal of his pocket watch, but even that doesn’t abate the headache that is steadily growing.
“Will you stop that, Kuroba!” he snaps finally.
“Stop what?” Kuroba asks innocently. The picture of innocence is completely ruined by the fact that he’s upside-down, on a bicycle, on the ceiling, with a harmonica held against his lips.
“You. Know. What.”
Kuroba blows a long note through his harmonica, after which he says, “No. No, I don’t.”
“Hey! Bakaito! Get down from there!”
Enter Nakamori Aoko. She’s clutching a mop (and Saguru still to this day hasn’t worked out where she gets them from) in one hand, body shifted into a battle stance. There’s a hard look in her eyes.
Kuroba cycles a tiny bit backwards on the ceiling, something like fear showing on his face.
Sometimes, Saguru likes to play a game called ‘let’s pretend my life isn’t horrible.’ He closes his eyes, breathes deeply, pretends the noisy yelling in the background is just screaming seagulls – that he’s still in England.
England, where he doesn’t have to deal with incompetent thieves and an even more incompetent police force. England, where he doesn’t have to deal with Hattori Heiji prank calling him at 2am (because overseas calls are expensive). England, where he doesn’t have to deal with Edogawa Conan pretending really badly to be an actual child and not just a budget replica slapped together in under a minute.
His moment of peace is shattered by the sound of his phone going off.
Saguru heaves a sigh and takes his hand out of his pocket. He reaches down into his bag for his phone and then unlocks it before accepting the call.
With the phone pressed to his ear, the first thing he hears is: “You know you got me grounded, right?”
“Edogawa-kun,” Saguru says, trying his utmost best to sound civil. Kuroba’s bicycle reaches the other side of the classroom at a suspiciously fast pace. Saguru watches idly as Aoko chases after him. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“You told Takagi-keiji to escort me home, remember?” Edogawa’s tinny voice says. “Well, he did, and now Ran-nēchan knows that I wasn’t at Agasa-hakase’s last night. And now I’m grounded.”
His headache is becoming worse and it is all Edogawa’s fault. Saguru pinches at the bridge of his nose.
“And that’s my problem why?”
“I’m only saying – you got me grounded. So, when the police send you the case notes, you have to share them with me.”
“You’re a minor Edogawa-kun.”
Saguru heaves a sigh and leans back against his chair. He looks up at the ceiling, eyes wandering over all the cracks and grooves it’s gained over Kuroba’s time at the school.
“I’m not giving case notes to a minor – that’s highly illegal,” he says.
There’s a pause on the other end, and then, “It doesn’t have to be giving case notes to a minor. It could be giving case notes to a friend.”
Does Edogawa really think that’s convincing? For someone with such a high intellect, he has shown many signs of stupidity. But then, he thinks that he himself is the only intellectual person he knows of that doesn’t do that.
Saguru runs the idea through his head, finds himself imagining a court situation.
“That’s not going to hold up in court, Edogawa-kun,” Saguru says.
In his peripheral vision he spots Kuroba. Apparently, he’s deemed that Edogawa can’t be a threat when he’s not physically in the room and has returned to his favourite pastime of annoying Saguru.
He flashes a wild grin, ducks a whack from Aoko’s mop, and then blows into the harmonica. It’s after about ten seconds that Saguru realises he’s playing Britney Spears’ Toxic. It irritates him – it really irritates him.
He’s trying to have an important conversation. Well, not so much important to himself, but it certainly seems to be important to Edogawa. And if it’s important to Edogawa then it means he’s liable to get frustrated and slip up on…whatever it is that makes him such an impossibility.
“Oh, will you just- Kuroba, there are no words that can politely express how much you anger me!” Saguru shouts, cutting Edogawa off in the middle of his speech of why it would only be moral for Saguru to give him the case notes. He makes a mental note of that – because Edogawa just quoted English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, which is so far from believable seven-year-old behaviour that it’s laughable.
It’s definitely spite that makes him enable his camera. He knows that Edogawa scares Kuroba.
A second later, Edogawa has also enabled his camera and it shows him, somewhat blurry, surrounded by tree branches. Saguru’s not going to even ask why he’s in a tree.
Edogawa seems to have the effect that Saguru had hoped for, and Kuroba falls from the ceiling almost immediately. Aoko jumps at him with her broom, giving a solid thwack at his head.
And then his bicycle falls on top of him. Saguru winces at the pained groan Kuroba emits.
“K-Kaito?” Aoko says askingly. She prods at him with her broom. “Kaito? Are you okay?”
Saguru feels bad for all of the second it takes Kuroba to raise his harmonica to his lips and make annoying noises.
Edogawa looks disgusted. “What’s wrong with that guy?” he asks.
“Something I ask myself every day.”
“Hakuba-niisan,” Edogawa says, seriously. “My condolences.”
“Thank you, Edogawa-kun.”
And then Edogawa smirks, like a villain in a movie. “But I will be getting those case notes, one way or the other.”
“And I will uncover whatever it is you’re hiding. I will figure you out, Edogawa-kun – I swear it.”
“I look forward to it, Hakuba.” Saguru doesn’t miss the slip of suffixes. How interesting.
It’s then that the door to the classroom bangs open. Konno-sensei is there, armed with a spray bottle. Her look of determination drops into relief when she sees Kuroba on the floor.
“Oh!” she says. “So I won’t be needing this.”
“It looks like class has started,” he says. “I must say goodbye.”
Edogawa nods, glancing down out of the camera at something.
“Yeah,” he says distractedly. “I’m busy now as well. Bye, Hakuba.” A blurry hand enters the frame and the call cuts off.
“Down under you go,
To sleep with the dead,
He will lead you there,
The tiny little crow.”
Saguru puts his sandwich back into his lunchbox and crosses his legs. He looks up at Koizumi with raised eyebrows.
“Pardon?” he says.
Koizumi laughs (‘ohohoho!’ – why does she laugh Like That?), a hand hovering just in front of her mouth. She leans over the table, casting her shadow over Saguru in a way that is probably meant to be intimidating.
“After your call with that…thing, I consulted Lucifer,” Koizumi says, because of course she consulted Lucifer. Silly of Saguru to not assume that right off the bat. “That is what he told me.”
“How lovely,” Saguru says. Koizumi smirks and leans further down.
“Would you like to know what you’ve got on your hands, Hakuba-kun?” she says teasingly into his ear. Saguru grabs onto her shoulders and pushes her backwards, out of his personal space.
“Please, go ahead,” he says.
Out of the corner of his eye he spots Kuroba watching them by the door, an uncharacteristically guarded expression on his face. Aoko is trying to tug him away. Saguru hears something about lunch.
Kuroba has expressed hostility around Koizumi before, which Saguru understands; he’s seen her set fire to Kuroba’s desk with her mind. What he doesn’t understand is why Kuroba is seemingly keeping watch at the moment. It would make sense if Koizumi was talking to Aoko – his friend – but she’s not – she’s talking to Saguru.
File it away for later, he thinks, and his hand slips into his pocket. He only just manages to retract it before it makes contact with his pocket watch. It would be rude to check the time mid-conversation.
“A demon. One of Lucifer’s forsaken children – I think it’s working outside of his influence, though. I can’t see what Lucifer would want a child to do.”
Everything that comes out of Koizumi’s mouth is pure and utter garbage, but Saguru can’t help but be intrigued.
“Your mind fascinates me, Koizumi-san,” he says, feeling greatly amused. “I would love to study it. Whatever led you to that conclusion?”
Koizumi looks smug at Saguru’s words, and he’s long since accepted that most people don’t understand the British sense of humour. Sardonic, sarcastic. She really thinks her charm works on him like everyone else.
To be fair, her mind does fascinate him. It’s like a building with a raging fire tearing through it. It’s like the Leaning Tower of Pisa – somehow still standing in spite of its wonkiness.
“Ohohohoho!” she laughs (again – why Like That?). “Really, it’s only a theory, but I’m undoubtedly right. Can you confirm some things for me, Hakuba-kun?”
“Oh, but of course,” Saguru says.
“The boy – does he speak in tongues?”
“Probably Latin. Though, knowing languages that he didn’t know before he was possessed is a sure sign.”
“Well, I suppose it wouldn’t surprise me if he knew Latin. And since he apparently lived in America before he started living with his guardians, he must be multi-lingual – which is unlikely when you’re talking about a seven-year-old, especially when he’s so fluent in Japanese.”
“Is the boy violent? Does he have strength far beyond the capabilities of a little boy? What about insults? Demons can be very rude.”
Violent doesn’t even begin to cover Edogawa, who purposefully kicked Kuroba in the crotch last night. And Saguru’s often wondered just how he’s been leaving football imprints on Kuroba’s face when he only comes up to his waist. And rude? Edogawa-kun is beyond rude.
“I suppose all of those things are true to Edogawa-kun,” Saguru says.
“Then there’s no doubt about it,” Koizumi says seriously. “The child has been possessed by a demon.” She crosses her arms and looks down at Saguru. “I can exorcise him. For a small fee, of course.”
Saguru is dying to know what Koizumi thinks of as a small fee.
“Please, Koizumi-san, tell me what this small fee is. I am dying to know.”
Koizumi laughs her strange laugh again. What she says does not disappoint Saguru.
“Your soul, or life-long servitude. I’m not very picky.”
“Oh, thank you – thank you so much,” Saguru says giddily. It’s always a blessing to talk to Koizumi. Just like Edogawa, she is incapable of acting like an actual person.
“Oh, no – I won’t be needing your help. I’m sure I can deal with Edogawa-kun myself. If he…turns out to be up for a spot of ankle biting, or…other satanic rituals, I’ll just hold some case notes out of his reach.”
“That might anger the demon – it might use its demonic powers on you.”
“I’m sure it will,” Saguru says comfortingly, adopting a sympathetic expression on his face.
“Well,” Koizumi says, “as long as you know what you’re inviting to maim you.”
She laughs again and then leaves, and when Saguru thinks he’s finally been left alone to enjoy his lunch in peace, Kuroba takes her place.
“What were you two talking about.” It’s a demand rather than a question. Saguru sighs.
“Koizumi-san seems to be under the impression that a mutual acquaintance of ours is possessed by a demon,” he says, reaching into his pocket to retrieve his pocket watch. The lid clicks open. 12:25:42:08.
“What mutual acquaintance?” Kuroba asks, brow furrowing. Saguru snaps the lid closed again and places the pocket watch back into his pocket.
He looks up at Kuroba and says, “Edogawa-kun.”
“I don’t know Edogawa Conan – I’m not KID.”
“Then how do you know I’m talking about that Edogawa-kun specifically, Kuroba? If you’re not Kaitou KID? Why on Earth would he be the first thing to pop into your head? It makes you look exceedingly guilty.”
“It looks like class has started,” Hakuba says, smiling amusedly at something out of view of his phone’s camera. “I must say goodbye.”
Conan nods and then catches sight of the object of his stakeout down below the tree branches.
“Yeah, I’m busy now as well,” Conan says, tracking Takagi-keiji with his eyes as he walks past. “Bye, Hakuba.” He hangs up and puts his phone into his backpack. Crouched on a sturdy branch, he parts the leaves to watch Takagi. He’s got a happy bounce to his step and is holding Starbucks coffee in each hand.
Conan licks his lips.
He hasn’t had coffee in a while.
He taps at the side of his glasses to enable the audio function. It’s a good thing he’d had the foresight to put the microphone in Takagi’s shirt pocket the night before.
All he really needs is victim names and whatever the forensics department has concluded about the murders, and then he can start investigating on his own.
“A-ah! Satou-san!” Takagi’s voice stutters into his ear.
“Oh, Takagi-kun. Thank you.” There’s a loud shifting sound as Satou presumably accepts the offered coffee.
Conan sits back against the trunk of the tree and closes his eyes, listening to the mutterings inside the police station. It’s peaceful, in a way that he never really gets peace anymore. He can almost pretend that he’s still Kudou Shinichi, discussing cases with Megure-keibu. A light gust of wind ruffles his hair and the sun shines just right against his face.
“So, what do you think about those murders that Conan-kun found last night?”
“It’s very worrying. Most of the bodies had been there for a while, but one of them was still fresh – probably only put there about two weeks ago.”
“A serial killer, then. There were seven bodies.”
The day goes on and eventually the officers start to chatter about the case.
The first victim, Amari Kyo – 40-years-old – disappeared somewhere between the 5th and the 8th of October in 2018. He didn’t have any friends and his only living relative is his sister – Enciso Saki, who lives in Spain with her husband. His co-workers at the office building he worked at noted that he had been very jumpy for a while, though they had no idea when that behaviour had started. Amari Kyo was a completely ordinary – if boring – person. He hadn’t even called his sister in about a year, which says a lot about their relationship. He’d died from a slit throat.
It was a while before the killer struck again. On Saturday, the 20th of July 2019, their second victim – Goda Megumi – went missing. Best friend – Furuta Mami – reported her disappearance a day later, as she’d stayed over at her house after a night of drinking. Goda was 23-years-old and apparently very talkative, according to her co-workers at the local retail store. She’d complained about break-ins in the night, things being switched around and windows being opened, but no one had believed her, chalking it up to attention seeking.
Conan yawns, pausing in his note-taking to rub at his eyes. Hopefully the officers will be finished soon – Ran will be suspicious if he doesn’t come home around the time he usually does.
“She was stabbed five times and then was killed with a knife to the throat, just like Amari-san,” an officer says, voice a static murmur in Conan’s ear.
“After this, our murderer targeted a couple -” His phone starts buzzing in his backpack, hung over one of the tree branches. “- Tommy Wilson-san and Rachel Brown-san -” The buzzing stops and then starts up again. “- Americans, their holiday was supposed to last two weeks -”
It looks like they’re having an extended stay, Conan thinks morbidly. The buzzing continues and then stops, and then-
Conan leans over the tree branch, nearly falling off in his haste, to unzip his backpack. It’s his Shinichi phone, he realises with annoyance.
“- went missing on the 15th of November, 2019 -”
Conan lets the phone ring through again and hopes it’ll dissuade Hattori. Maybe he’ll take it as a sign that he’s busy – Conan is meant to be in class right now. His hopes are dashed when the phone starts buzzing again. Grumbling, he answers the call.
“Yo! Kudou!” Hattori says cheerfully.
At the same time, the officer says, “- strangled to death. Brown-san, however, was tied up and died from dehydration -“
“What do you want from me?” Conan asks, sourness colouring his tone.
“Aww, is it past someone’s bedtime?”
“I will eviscerate you,” Conan hisses. “What do you want? I’m busy.”
“What! Can I not call my best friend just because?” Hattori is snickering, the bastard.
“Out with it,” Conan snaps.
“Okay, okay!” And over the top of that, Conan hears ‘- Nakai Sora-san, 82-years-old –‘
He presses his notebook against his knee and scribbles it down. “Wanna come to Osaka? There’s an interesting case going.”
“Can’t – grounded. Anyway, I’ve got my own interesting case going.”
“- disappeared a couple of months ago, sometime between the 25th of January and the 1st of February -“ Conan notes that the murders are getting closer and closer together. It seems the murderer got cocky.
“Oh, that sucks.” Hattori sounds like a rejected boyfriend. Conan rolls his eyes. “You sure ya can’t make it? It’s your favourite kind! Locked room murder!”
“Tempting, but no,” he says. “I’ve got serial murders going on over here.”
“Oh damn,” Hattori says, “maybe I’ll have to visit.”
“Sure, come over.”
“It can be a competition!”
“Between you and Hakuba, maybe.”
Hattori is blessedly silent. “- son, Nakai Osamu-san, reported that she’d been increasingly paranoid leading up -“
“Hakuba?” Hattori spits out, sounding almost physically sick.
“Yes,” Conan says sweetly. “Hakuba Saguru. We’re working together.” If what Hakuba had said in their phone call earlier was anything to go by, then they were not working together, but Hattori’s jealousy amuses him.
“- put up a fight. There’s bruising along the arms. She bled out from a stab wound to her stomach -“
“Why the heck would ya work with that bastard!” Hattori shouts.
“That’s no way to talk about Saguru,” Conan says.
“Saguru! You’re on first name basis?! Kudou, no!”
“What can I say? The way the light falls over his golden hair, his brown eyes. His dick-ish personality reminds me of myself. He is just a bitch and I feel a kindred spiri-“
“You’re having me on, aren’t ya Kudou.”
“Yeah, no shit.”
“- Oye Airi-san, 30-years-old -“
They fall into silence and Conan can finally put his whole attention into listening to the police station.
“- lived with boyfriend Nishiyama Hideaki-san, 32-years-old, and their son Oye Hibiki-san, 5-years-old. She went missing on Saturday the 14th of March – staying at home with a cold while Nishiyama-san and Hibiki-san went to the aquarium -“
Conan can hear Hattori muttering on the other end of the call, about telephone wire and sunglasses. There’s a loud hum of a computer.
“-left around 10am and returned around 2pm to find the house empty. Nothing seemed disturbed, though Nishiyama-san noted that a lamp had been smashed and thrown in the bin -“
Conan pauses in his scribbling when he hears a buzzing sound from his backpack. The Conan phone. Luckily, it’s not Ran and instead-
“Hakuba.” Conan grunts, readjusting himself on the tree branch and slotting the Conan phone in between his ear and his shoulder. He picks his notebook up again. “’To what do I owe the pleasure?’”
Hakuba’s mildly insulted ‘Are you making fun of me?’ is interrupted by Hattori’s yell of “Hakuba?! Hey! Hang up on that bastard!”
“Is that Hattori-kun I hear?” Hakuba asks, sounding less than pleased.
“- followed home on several occasions and claimed to have break-ins – items being moved around and such -“
“Yeah. He called me earlier. And no Hattori, I’m not hanging up on him.”
“Two phones?” Hakuba says smugly. “Thank you for that titbit of information, Edogawa-kun. I’m sure it will make my file on you all the more interesting.”
“Ya can’t solve cases with him, Kudou! Solve them with me!”
“My, my, I can’t quite hear what Hattori-san is saying from here, but he sure seems riled up.”
“Haha,” Conan says. It’s very blank though, because he doesn’t really have the energy for it. “- glass shards stuck in her feet – presumably from the smashed lamp – and -“
“Argh! That bastard! I don’t know what he’s saying, but it’s definitely smug!”
“He’s saying he thinks you’re stupid.”
“Well, I wouldn’t put it past Hattori-kun to say such a thing. Edogawa-kun, have you ever watched BBC Sherlock?”
“What an asshole! He thinks I’m stupid? I’m gonna prank call him right now!” This is faintly amusing, Conan reflects, even if it’s making it even harder to listen to the police officers.
“- died from internal bleeding -“
“I watched one episode and then left a scathing review,” Conan says. He hears the stomping of footsteps from his Shinichi phone.
“Good,” Hakuba says. “It appears that I can continue to respect you.”
“- the seventh victim – one Saeki Naomi-san – went missing on the 3rd of this month and died of dehydration around a week later -“
The 3rd of April, huh? That was only two weeks ago. It must have been her phone that rang out in the murderer’s dumping ground. But why wouldn’t anyone trace the phone through its number? Unless…a signal jammer? No, if the criminal was using a signal jammer then the call wouldn’t have gone through. But if they weren’t using one then the phone would have been tracked.
So, they were using a signal jammer for two weeks and then just…stopped? Did they want someone to find the bodies?
“Excuse me for a moment,” Hakuba says. “Someone’s calling the home phone.” There’s a shifting sound, and then footsteps. A door opening and closing. A dialling coming from both the Shinichi and Conan phone.
“- 16-years-old. Lived with her mother Saeki Junko-san -“
“Hey, what do you mean, ‘home phone’?” Conan asks absently.
Hattori makes a questioning sound while Hakuba says, “You do, presumably, know what a home phone is? A landline?”
“Yes, I know what it is. You’re at home?”
“- no injuries apart from rope burn around her wrists and ankles -“
“Yes,” Hakuba says.
“What’s the time?”
“- mother had reported to being followed home several times by a man in a trench coat -“
“Mr. Wolf,” Hakuba mutters under his breath (and he can hear Hattori going ‘c’mon, c’mon, pick up’ on the Shinichi phone). There’s a click over the other end, “16:23:05:21. Excuse me for just a second.”
“Oh, fuck,” Conan mutters.
“- multiple break-ins -“
“Language,” Hakuba says.
“Kids shouldn’t swear,” Hattori says.
“How many times do I have to threaten evisceration before you learn,” Conan hisses.
“- things being rearranged. One morning all of the plates were found smashed on the -“
Hakuba chuckles quietly. The dialling sound cuts off on both phones. “Hello, this is Hakuba,” the British detective says.
Hattori snickers and says, “Hey, is your refrigerator running?”
“Hattori-kun, if you don’t stop calling me unprompted I will be forced to block your number.”
“- Junko-san received some threatening mail -“ The mother – Conan notes – and not the victim. A diversion?
“Haha, you’re ugly.”
“And you’re downright revolting.”
Through the glasses, Conan hears the officers wrapping up for the day. They’ve finished giving out details for the case. Conan shuffles across the tree branch and reaches over to drop his notebook and pen into his backpack.
“Yeah? Well, not as revolting as your mum!”
Really, Hattori? Really? Conan rolls his eyes and settles back against the tree, taking the Conan phone into his right hand to relieve tension from his shoulder. He listens idly as Takagi packs up.
“I wonder how your mother must feel, to have such a-“
“Is there any chance one of you would be willing to call Ran and say I ran into a murder?”
“I apologise Edogawa-kun, but I don’t wish to incur Ran-san’s wrath,” Hakuba says, which is understandable.
“Yeah,” Hattori says, “I don’t like agreeing with the bastard, but Nēchan is scary when she’s angry.”
“Edogawa-kun,” Hakuba says, voice chocked full of suspicion. “You’re not still in that tree, are you?”
“I am in the tree.”
“Tree? Hey, what’s going on?”
“Ah.” Conan drops both phones into his backpack before zipping it up, throwing it over his shoulder. He jumps down from the tree, landing right in front of Takagi and Satou on all fours.
“C-Conan?!” Takagi yelps, grabbing onto Satou’s arm.
“What are you doing, Conan-kun?” Satou asks. She only looks mildly surprised.
“Hehe,” Conan laughs, sugary sweet. He picks himself up off of the ground and looks up at them with a beaming smile. “I wanted to see Takagi-keiji, of course.”
“M-me?” Takagi stutters.
“Yep!” Conan chirps “You’ll get me coffee, right?”
“Um- well- I don’t-“
Conan grabs onto his arm, ignoring the muted arguing going on inside his bag. “Come on, Takagi-keiji! Let’s go!”
“A-ah! Wait!” Takagi squeaks as he’s pulled along. Satou has no choice but to follow them.
“Hey,” Conan says. “Is there any chance you can tell Ran-nēchan that I ran into a murder?”
With a grimace, Saguru hangs up on Hattori, and then does the same to Edogawa with a quick tap to his phone screen. His notifications say that he has a text from Aoko and he clicks on it, walking back to his bedroom on auto-pilot.
- Look at this idio
Beneath is a video. Saguru taps at the play icon as he opens his bedroom door. He closes it behind him and makes his way over to his bed, flopping onto it with a lack of grace that he would never display in front of company.
“I’m gonna do it,” Kuroba says, gesticulating wildly. He’s waving a lit lighter about.
“Do it then, coward!” Aoko shouts.
Kuroba takes the lighter to his hair and then the video cuts off.
“Oh, dear,” Saguru murmurs. He sends a horrified looking emoji Aoko’s way and then turns off his phone.
Fished out of his pocket, his pocket watch reads 16:26:73:24. Saguru lets it click shut. He turns over onto his back and stares up at the high ceiling, watch limply held about his stomach. His fingers tap against it.
It’s only four in the afternoon, so he can’t go to sleep quite yet, even if he is tired. He finds himself at a loss of what to do.
He has no ongoing cases at the moment (apart from the seven bodies he and Edogawa found beneath the floorboards the previous night, but he’s waiting on the case notes for that), and calling Edogawa had only taken up about five minutes.
Why did you call him?, his mind rings out.
Because every time he talks to Edogawa it increases the probability of a slip-up.
That isn’t the only reason, though. Saguru knows that he craves social interaction – it’s basic human behaviour, after all – and he supposes that he and Edogawa are possibly friends. What a strange notion, being friends with a seven-year-old.
His phone rings out next to head.
Which it shouldn’t do – because he puts it on mute – but Kuroba has a habit of hacking into peoples’ phones.
He recognises the number as Megure-keibu’s. Saguru accepts the call.
“Hello, this is Hakuba.”
“Ah, Hakuba-kun,” Megure-keibu says. “This is Megure. We’ve put together a case file for you, so whenever you’re free you can come and collect it.”
“Oh, thank you,” Saguru says. He finds himself a bit confused – usually they leave it up to him to make the case file. “I’ll be over on Saturday to collect it.”
“We look forward to seeing you, then, Hakuba-kun,” Megure-keibu says. “Have a goodnight.”
“Yes, you too.”
The call cuts off. Saguru checks the time on his phone – 16:39.
Saturday, then. That works out. It’ll be an interesting read for the flight on Sunday, at least, and there isn’t even a chance that the police will have figured everything out before he gets back. As much as he hates to say it, the police are incompetent.
His phone rings – 16:40. Saguru breathes out through his nose.
It seems that everyone has decided to call him today.
“Hello, Mother.” Saguru says, restraining himself from the impolite, ‘What do you want now?’ hanging on his tongue.
“That eagle of yours is making a racket.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” Saguru says disinterestedly.
“You’ll take it back with you to Japan, won’t you?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Good boy.” She hangs up promptly.
“Good boy?” Saguru repeats, nose wrinkling. It’s as if she thinks he’s a dog.
here's a link to my tumblr if anyone's interested: achairwithapandaonit.tumblr.com
Saturday rolls around slowly.
The first dregs of daylight break through his half-drawn curtains and Saguru forces his eyes open.
“Pocket watch, pocket watch,” he mumbles sleepily, patting at his bedding until his fingers make contact with the familiar metal. He pulls it upwards, chain dragging against his bedsheets, and opens it.
Tick, tick, tick.
Saguru blinks slowly and closes his pocket watch. 6am. Good.
He grabs at the red fleecy blanket that’d fallen on the floor during his sleep and wraps it around himself before making his way downstairs. He can hear Baaya puttering about in the kitchen.
“Botchama,” she acknowledges as he slides into a chair at the kitchen table.
“Good morning.” Saguru yawns.
There’s tea already on the table in front of him, still steaming. It must have been poured about two minutes ago. Saguru pulls it towards himself and watches as Baaya puts together breakfast for the two of them.
“Did you have dinner last night, Botchama?” the housekeeper asks as she puts two plates of French toast on the table. She sits down across from him and holds out a knife and fork.
“Oh,” Saguru blinks, taking the offered knife and fork. “I must have forgotten.”
“Now,” Baaya says with a fond shake of her head. “What are we going to do with that scatterbrain of yours?”
“I’m sure I’ll remember tonight,” he says stiffly, looking away.
“Would you like me to ring you up?”
“Oh, dear me, no thank you. I get enough calls already,” Saguru says. He tilts his head. “Text? Perhaps?”
“You know I’m no good at those mobile phones,” Baaya says. “I’ll leave a note.”
“Ah, yes. Old fashioned but fairly reliable, or so I hear.”
Baaya tuts, “Now, I’ll have none of your lip, Botchama.”
“Of course, Baaya.” Saguru chuckles.
They finish up breakfast and Saguru retreats back up to his bedroom, fleece blanket trailing behind him, as Baaya gets started with her actual housekeeping duties. He checks his pocket watch (06:42:64:32), brushes his teeth, and dresses smartly.
Finished at 06:54:20:04, he combs at his hair while checking his phone.
Six missed calls. Why does everyone enjoy bothering him so much.
Two are from Hattori, one from Kuroba, and three from Koizumi. They’ve all left voice mail. Oh joy.
Saguru deletes the voice mail from Hattori and Kuroba without a second thought and allows Koizumi’s to play.
“- I think I might murder Kuroba tomorrow. I know it’ll be Saturday and I usually save the murder attempts for Sunday, but I’ve had a pretty stressful week. I followed the possessed child home, but the demon sensed me and used its supernatural strength to kick a ball at me. I was expecting something a bit more gruesome, but I suppose I don’t have all the facts yet - “
“- It attacks Kuroba pretty regularly so I at least know that we could be friends. I’ve never had a friend before because no one is worthy of me, but I think I can make exceptions for a demon - “
“- don’t let your guard down quite yet. Or you can, I guess, but I might have to kill you. If you let that demon run off before I’ve managed to get through to it then I’ll be very angry - “
Saguru shoves his phone into his pocket and makes his way downstairs. He throws on a coat and slips his pocket watch into the breast pocket.
“I’m going out!” he calls into the house before leaving for the police station, locking the door behind him.
“’Live bees’…” Conan mutters, the light of his phone reflecting off of his glasses. “’Buy live honey bees – whether you’re just starting your first hive, or you’re just looking to expand your apiary,’” he drags his thumb down the page to read more, “’we’ve got the package bees, queens and nucs you need. When you want to buy bees, we have packaged bees with your choice of marked Italian or Russian hybrid queens; and we have marked Italian and Russian hybrid queens available for purchase.’”
“What’s that, Conan-kun?” Ran asks, ruffling his hair as she walks past, into the kitchen.
“Bees,” Conan says.
“Oh?” He hears the fridge opening. “For a project?”
For more information on buying live bees, click here, says the webpage. So Conan does.
“Maybe,” he says nonchalantly.
It looks like the bees only ship in the US. His parents are in the US right now, maybe he can get them to-
No. He doesn’t need live bees.
“I’m going out, by the way, with Sonoko,” Ran says, appearing in the kitchen doorway with a water bottle. “Don’t ‘forget’ you’re grounded, okay?”
“I won’t forget.” Conan huffs. He opens google and types in ‘beehives near tokyo’.
“Uh huh,” Ran says, unconvinced. Conan rolls his eyes.
As soon as she shuts the front door, he turns off his phone and heads for the bedroom he and Mouri share. There, he takes his notebook from his backpack and lies down on his bed. He can hear Mouri’s cheers from the floor below – presumably distracted with one of Okino Yoko’s shows. Time to start thinking.
He makes a note of the dates – the first disappearance (victim – Amari Kyo) happening around the 5th of October in 2018, and then the next on the 20th of July 2019 (victim – Goda Megumi). That’s a large gap, considering that the latest murders happened so closely together. Eight months – a little over a year.
Tommy Wilson and Rachel Brown went missing on the 15th of November 2019, four months after Goda Megumi and twelve months after Amari Kyo. The time between the murders is halved and the victims doubled. Is this on purpose? No.
Nakai Sora disappeared between the 25th of January and the 1st of February this year, between two and three months later. Not just two months, between two and three.
Just as he’d observed on Thursday, sitting in that tree, the murderer is cocky. They’re arrogant – confident – they want to be known, want to kill. The more they kill, the more they want to kill, it seems.
Oye Airi was next – disappeared on the 14th of March. About a month after the last murder.
And then, finally, Saeki Noami, who disappeared on the 3rd of April, less than a month later.
Oye Airi and Saeki Noami are where it starts to get interesting, Conan thinks, because the killer is getting showy – they start letting people know that they’re there. Like Kaitou KID, but with murderous intentions.
The first murders are easy targets, and maybe they were noticeably rattled before their deaths, but they were people that were easy to ignore. A boring office worker with no friends and only one relative living all the way over in Spain. A loud party girl who’s obnoxious and everyone assumes is making things up for attention. Two Americans on a holiday, away from anyone they know.
The murderer experiments with Nakai Sora a bit. She’s an in-between – an old lady living all by herself who gets visited by family once a week and ‘put up a fight’ according to the officer that read out the reports.
Oye Airi lived with her boyfriend, Nishiyama Hideaki, and her son, Oye Hibiki. And Saeki Noami lived with her mother Saeki Junko.
Oye Airi was followed home by someone that was presumably the killer on multiple occasions, and Saeki Junko was also followed home. Despite this, the killer never assaulted either of them on these occasions – was just fine with watching them.
The killer likes fear, Saguru notes. Otherwise they wouldn’t have followed Oye Airi and Saeki Junko home at night so many times without taking action.
But the killer also likes a challenge.
Oye Airi was a well-known feminist and had been a practitioner of aikido from a young age. She put up a fight that caused a lamp to be smashed and then the murderer binned the lamp to…to what? Why on Earth would they do such a thing?
To hide that they had been there?
They wanted people to know! They obviously used a signal jammer to stop people from tracking Saeki Noami’s phone and then stopped using it to lure people over. They wanted to be found out – wanted people to know that they had been killing.
The ‘why’, what’s the ‘why’? Why did he do that?
Just to mess with the victim’s family? No ordinary person would do that. But then, no ordinary person would hide dead bodies under floorboards.
It’s a highly inconvenient way of hiding the body. They would need to pry the floorboards loose after every murder.
Saguru riffles through the file, looking for something in particular.
Ah. He holds out a printed sheet.
Takahashi Ichirō – 72-years-old. Owner of the seemingly abandoned house. Hasn’t visited it in about ten years (or so he says) and the prime suspect, taken in for questioning. Wife died five years ago and he lost contact with his son, Takahashi Ken, around that time.
Saguru doesn’t want to cross him out as a suspect quite yet, not without questioning him himself, but he has a feeling that the man has nothing to do with the murders.
Back to the lamp though. Why?
It’s quite possible, Saguru reflects, that Oye Airi was the one that broke the lamp, and that the lamp has nothing to do with anything.
But no! That can’t be it! There were shards of glass stuck in Oye Airi’s feet! God, Saguru is tired.
To overlook such a detail. He feels almost as incompetent as the Kaitou KID taskforce.
If the glass was stuck in Oye Airi’s feet then someone must have knocked the lamp over when she was attacked by the murderer. Which means that the murderer was the one that cleaned up the broken lamp.
Saguru runs his hands through his hair and grabs his phone. Scrolling through his contacts, he reaches Edogawa.
‘What are your thoughts on the broken lamp?’ Saguru taps out.
Edogawa’s reply of, ‘what are you talking about’ comes very quickly.
Saguru pauses. Right. Edogawa doesn’t have any case notes…right…
He could…send over just a snippet. Edogawa is intelligent – he would know not to tell anyone, and-
What is Saguru thinking? That’s a seven-year-old he’s thinking of sending case notes to.
‘Nevermind.’ Saguru sends.
‘I hadn’t really thought about it,’ Edogawa replies.
Of course, Edogawa’s found his own way to the case notes.
Another text comes through from Edogawa, this one saying, ‘WHY would they clean up after themselves WHY would they do that’
‘Aggravating, right?’ Saguru sends back.
‘yeah!’ Edogawa replies, and then, ‘what’s your analysis on the killer’s personality. seems a bit overconfident right’
‘Oh, very. I believe that they like fear in their victims, but also a challenge.’
‘yeah makes sense. all of the victims were pretty different, like they were trying out new things. I can’t find any link between them. also the killer went from immediate killings to leaving the victims to their deaths’
‘Under the floorboards as well. It’s likely that our murderer has a superiority complex.’
‘about what you said about fear. a lot of the killer’s actions seem very fear mongering, like they’re only doing them to scare their victims. moving things around in the night is not normal criminal behaviour’
And just like that, Saguru gets carried away in discussing the case with Edogawa. After about an hour, conversation turns to mystery novels. Saguru mentions that he finds Kudou Yusaku’s Night Baron series to be greatly intriguing but also greatly frustrating, and it turns out that Edogawa shares the sentiment.
Though, it does seem a bit more personal for Edogawa.
Saguru types out a reply to Edogawa’s question on his favourite book in the series while writing a note in his Edogawa Conan file about a connection to Kudou Yusaku. And possibly the rest of the family too.
Eventually, they both get bored of texting and start a call.
Quickly, they get into discussing how much they both hate the BBC Sherlock series, finding once again that they agree on all the same points. And then they go on to talk about Nicholas Rowe’s interpretation of the famous detective in the 1985 Young Sherlock Holmes movie, and then Tom Baker in the 1982 BBC production of The Hound of The Baskervilles. Douglas Wilmer and Peter Cushing and then Jeremy Brett and Japan’s own Miss Sherlock series.
“What do you think of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Edogawa-kun?” Saguru asks. “I watched the series back in 2012, when it first came out.”
“I watched it around then too,” Edogawa says. “I liked it, haven’t watched it for years though.”
Something about that sticks out to Saguru. He pauses, frowning, hand falling on top of his pocket watch.
“Wouldn’t you have been…you couldn’t have possibly watched it back in 2012,” Saguru mutters. “You’re seven. You would have most likely only just been born.”
“Oh, ah- well- I was just imitating Shinichi-niichan!” Edogawa chirps out quickly, childlike innocence curling around his speech.
Oh really, Saguru thinks, feeling horribly amused and horribly annoyed at the same time. Edogawa doesn’t imitate adults – he practically is an adult. What a horrifying thought.
But there’s nothing that Saguru can say against it. Edogawa’s lying about not having watched Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries back in 2012, but at the same time there isn’t even a possibility that he’s lying.
Saguru sighs and looks down at his abandoned case notes.
“What do you think of the threatening mail that Saeki Junko-san received? More fear mongering, or a diversion?”
“It’s hard to tell right now. Maybe if I can question Saeki-san myself…”
When the call ends, it’s dark. Saguru checks his pocket watch (as he does after everything) and then gets up from his desk. He trips over his suitcase almost immediately and it’s an annoying reminder that he still has yet to pack.
It’s also a reminder that Kuroba can be very quiet when he wants to be – the suitcase had been at the other end of the room earlier.
Saguru grumbles and picks himself up off of the floor and, just as he gets to the door (because life is hard, obviously) the landline rings. Saguru takes a moment to breathe in deeply before he turns the door handle and slips out of his bedroom. He doesn’t get to the phone on time, but a voice mail is left.
“I’m going to be in Ekoda tomorrow, Saguru! It looks like I’m less busy than I thought I’d be. Can you inform Baaya that I should be arriving around lunch? Have a good night and remember to go to sleep. I know you’re probably on one of those cases of yours, haha. Bye.”
What an idiot his father is, Saguru thinks to himself.
A piece of paper by the phone catches his attention. He picks it up and squints at it in the dark light, only to realise that it’s Baaya’s note to remind him to eat. Well, better get to it then.
Sunday is a busy day for Conan. He gets up early, wrestling on clothes and tip-toing around his and Mouri’s room, afraid that Ran will sense that he’s up to something. He shoves his voice-changing bowtie and notebook and pens into his backpack and then puts his suspenders on over the top of his outfit. Better safe than sorry.
Conan checks his watch, sees that it’s only 06:29, and then throws his backpack over his shoulders before making his way out of the house.
He heads down the familiar roads that lead to Agasa-hakase’s house. He hesitates when it comes into view and then crosses the street, hands shoved in pockets, to stand just before the gates of his own house.
It stands just as tall and looming as ever, seeming all the more impossible with every second that has passed since That Day.
“Are you having a moment?” Haibara asks from behind him.
Conan clears his throat and blinks, finding his eyes slightly wet.
“I guess,” Conan says.
“Ah,” Haibara says, monotone, and then comes to stand next to him, joining in with watching the house. They stand there until the sun has fully risen and a couple of cars have passed them by, and then they go to Agasa-hakase’s house and have a breakfast of coffee and dry cereal straight from the box.
“I almost impulse-bought live bees yesterday,” Conan says, hand full of cereal.
“That would be the depression,” Haibara says.
Conan rolls his eyes.
“I’m not depressed.”
“That’s not what your doctor says,” Haibara says. She picks up her mug of coffee and takes a sip.
“You’re my doctor,” Conan says pointedly.
“Exactly,” Haibara says.
Conan rolls his eyes again and continues eating the cereal. He’s not depressed.
After they’ve finished eating and Agasa-hakase has walked past them in a tired daze, and Conan has let Ran’s first call of the day ring through, he takes his backpack from where he’d left it at the door and slips his shoes on.
“What are you doing today, anyway?” Haibara asks as he ties the laces.
“Interviewing witnesses,” Conan says.
Haibara huffs and he looks up to see a glare on her face.
“You’re getting sloppy, you know,” she says. “Sooner or later someone’s going to figure you out.”
Someone already has figured him out, Conan thinks. He doesn’t say it.
He probably shouldn’t encourage Hakuba’s investigation, but he’s found that he gets on very well with the other detective when he’s not being overly smug, and there’s something exciting about being the one laying out the mystery. Maybe he just likes seeing Hakuba’s confounded face.
“Why don’t you leave this one to the police?” Haibara says.
“It’s my job,” Conan says. He finishes tying his laces and stands up.
Haibara rolls her eyes. “Just don’t bring any serial killers to my doorstep,” she says, and then turns around and strides back into the living space.
Conan huffs and leaves, shutting the front door behind him. He casts one last look to his house and then starts walking, towards Meguro city.
It’s only an eight-minute walk from Beika and, most importantly, it’s where Goda Megumi – the second victim – lived.
As he expects, when he gets up on his tiptoes to peer through the window, there are people in her old apartment. It’s been almost a year since she died, after all.
They’re old, the new residents. Old people are easy to trick, Conan thinks.
He just needs a look around the apartment.
Conan gets down from his tiptoes and-
“What are you doing, bouya?”
“Ah!” Conan yelps, and turns around, pressing his back flat against the side of the house.
Standing in front of him is a young woman. She looks unimpressed, hands on her hips and an eyebrow raised. “You know, you shouldn’t be peeping through windows, bouya. That’s bad,” she says.
Immediately, Conan puts on the kiddie eyes.
“I wasn’t peeping…” he says miserably, clasping his hands together behind him and looking downwards. The woman grimaces.
“Hey, don’t worry,” she says, getting down on her knees in front of him, hands hovering awkwardly. “I’m not mad.”
Conan lets a fake sob rack through him. It just seems to unnerve the woman even more.
“There used to be a lady living here,” he says, lips trembling. “And I- I’m worried. Why are there new people living there?”
“You knew Megumi-chan?” the woman utters.
“Uh uh,” Conan nods, “Megumi-neechan is super nice! I miss her.”
The woman bites her lip.
“Do you wanna get ice cream?” she asks, voice wobbly.
“Kaa-san said not to go with strangers,” Conan says hesitantly.
“Ah, well- we’re not strangers, are we? We both knew Megumi-chan,” the woman says, hands shaking as she clasps them together over her knees.
“Oh! Yeah! I guess,” Conan chirps. “What’s your name, neechan?”
“Furuta Mami,” the woman says, and she’s starting to smile again.
“I’m Conan! Let’s get ice cream, Mami-neechan!”
“We don’t have to go if you don’t want to, Saguru-Botchama.”
“I miss Watson,” Saguru says nonchalantly, watching the passing traffic.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have left him in England,” she says.
“Father gets into a tizzy around Watson. He’s such a coward.” He absently opens his pocket watch, to check the time.
“You’ve never been one to listen to other people,” Baaya comments, and then says, “If your father gets annoying, you can keep Watson at my flat.”
“Can I keep myself at your flat, too,” Saguru comments dryly.
“I don’t have a guest room.” Baaya says. Saguru lets out a long, frustrated sigh. “Now, none of that. Don’t have a strop now, Botchama,” says Baaya.
“I’m not having a strop,” Saguru grumbles.
Baaya regards him with a raised eyebrow. Saguru huffs and turns away.
Furuta Mami doesn’t really reveal anything that Conan didn’t already know. She says that Megumi had trouble sleeping at night, and that she’d been sure her apartment had been broken into, and that-
“I’m glad there’s someone else out there that thinks well of Megumi-chan,” Mami sniffles, what’s left of her ice cream cone crumbling under her clenched fingers.
Conan sits awkwardly next to her. Why does he always manage to get himself into these situations?
“Everyone was always saying that she was a loud-mouth, and attention seeking, but…Megumi-chan…she was my best friend.” Her voice cracks.
“I…” Conan says. He pats her on the arm, “I’m sorry about Megumi-neechan.”
Mami breathes in deep, stuttering breaths.
“The police refused to do anything about the break-ins,” she says. “They said she was over-reacting, that she was lying…and then she died. Because of the fucking police.” She drops the fractured pieces of ice cream cone and laughs half-heartedly. “Sorry bouya, I shouldn’t be telling you these things. I was meant to be comforting you, but here I am…”
“It’s okay,” Conan says. He smiles up at Mami. “Adults need comforting as well sometimes.” Conan looks away for a second, weighing out his options, and then back up at her. “Do you know anything about the break-ins? Did Megumi-neechan tell you anything?”
Mami lets out a light huff of laughter.
“What are you, then? Some kind of detective?”
“Yeah! Edogawa Conan – tantei-san!” Conan chirps.
Mami’s eyebrows draw together. She holds still for a moment and then closes her eyes, leans back against the bench.
“Megumi-chan…she said that her windows would be opened during the night sometimes. She would get up, and they would just be open – same with the front door. Things went missing sometimes as well, just to turn up another day. And I’m not talking about things like…pens…or coffee mugs. A whole potted plant went missing once, soil and all.”
“Huh…” Conan breathes. He reaches into his backpack to retrieve his notebook and flips to a clear page. “Sounds like the killer wanted to be known. Just as I’d thought.”
He continues questioning Mami, but the woman can’t really tell him anything else except that Megumi felt like she was constantly being watched. After about half an hour, Mami says she needs to get going, and Conan waves her off.
After that, he heads up to the apartment again and sticks a listening device beside the front door with some gum.
He’s not sure if much will come from looking inside, but it’s better to start monitoring the new residents now rather than later. This way he’ll know when the apartment will most likely be free to look through.
His next order of business for the day is to travel to Minato city. Two of the victims – Nakai Sora and Oye Airi – lived in the area, and Minato is the next closest city to Beika after Meguro.
It’s about 9am by the time he gets to the train station. He takes the Hibiya line and it takes about thirty minutes.
He scopes out Nakai Sora’s house first. It’s a slim detached house with a small front garden.
Nakai Sora only went missing back in January, so Conan highly doubts that it’s been resold quite yet. He lingers outside the front garden, leaning against the stone wall, and fishes his notebook out from his backpack.
Nakai Sora – 82-years-old. Her son, Nakai Osamu, had reported that she’d been paranoid before her disappearance. She bled out and died from a stab wound and was covered in bruises, likely from putting up a bit of a fight.
Conan hopes the killer was similarly bruised.
Now that he’s reminded himself of the details, he slips the notebook back into his backpack, shoulders it, and then glances around before unlatching the front gate. He closes it behind him and runs up the front path. He takes a slight detour to peer through the windows.
No one seems to be in.
Conan pulls a paperclip (that he’d found on Mouri’s desk that morning) from his pocket and then sets about unlocking the door. Once it’s open, he’s quick to shut himself inside the house.
It’s dark, but nowhere near as dark as the abandoned house was. Conan treads cautiously inside the house, avoiding windows, and looking in every corner that he can.
The house is overly cluttered with photos of what Conan can only assume is Nakai Sora’s family. Conan lingers at one of them, gazing at the cheerful pull of a woman’s lips and her proud hand, resting on a young man’s shoulder. He’s holding a trophy, though Conan doesn’t know what it’s for.
He hadn’t really been thinking of the people that the victims had left behind. It had just been another interesting mystery yesterday and, yeah, he hadn’t liked the murderer, but after talking to Mami, it feels a lot more personal.
The killer had gotten cockier and he’d started disrupting families, even families that lived together. Imagine that – having the confidence to not just terrorise one person, but a whole host of them, and then going through with killing one of them. Conan grits his teeth and moves on from the photo.
There’s a shelf littered with medals and various small clay sculptures (presumably made by a child). There are abandoned knitting needles and wool sitting on top of a side table.
Conan casts one final look around the place and then leaves.
There’s nothing here but the shell of an old woman.
Oye Airi lived further into the city, away from the serene neighbourhood Nakai Sora had spent the last years of her life in.
It’s several floors up an apartment building.
When Conan arrives at the building, he takes the time to sit and think. He knows that this one is going to either be his easiest interview, or his hardest interview.
Seeing as Oye Airi only died a month ago, her boyfriend – Nishiyama Hideaki – and their son – Oye Hibiki – wouldn’t have had the time to move away. This means that Conan has a five-year-old – young, naïve, probably overlooked in the police reports – to interview, which seems like an easy thing to do, seeing as he himself looks about six.
But then, the question is, how does he approach him?
In the park? No – there’s no way the two of them would be going out, not after everything that happened surrounding Oye Airi’s death. Nishiyama Hideaki is likely paranoid and heartbroken.
Then is it the classic little boy gets lost and knocks on a door for help? Three stories up? It’s an unlikely story.
But he could…send Agasa-hakase a message – tell him that someone might end up calling him to pick his nephew up. Agasa-hakase will play along. It takes about twenty minutes to get from Beika to Minato, but if he tells Agasa-hakase to delay himself…
No. That’s absurd.
Why would Conan be in a city so far away from his supposed legal guardian.
Maybe he can just swan in and say he’s a detective. Seeing as Nishiyama Hideaki has a five-year-old son, he should know that children can be like that.
But then, it’s insensitive for a child to ask questions about someone’s dead wife – he would get kicked out immediately.
It wouldn’t be this hard for Hakuba. Hakuba may be a teenage detective, but he’s had plenty of news coverage and is just about as famous as Shinichi, if not more because of his investigation into Kaitou KID.
Hattori also wouldn’t have this problem.
Oh. There’s an idea.
Conan takes his Conan phone from his pocket and opens it up, scrolling through his contact list until he finds Hattori’s number.
‘do you feel like being useful’ he sends.
Hattori immediately pings back with, ‘im always useful’.
Haha, Conan thinks sourly. He taps out on the phone screen.
‘yeah sure. Can you help me’.
‘what do u need’.
It’s with Hattori on video call that Conan advances on the building. He rises onto his tiptoes to ring the doorbell and then steps back and waits.
After about a minute there comes a shuffling sound behind the door, and then a click, and then the door opens to reveal a young-ish man, shirt untucked and looking put together at the bare minimum.
“Hello, Mister!” Conan chirps. The man looks down at him, face pulling in confusion. “Are you Nishiyama Hideaki-san?”
“I…yes. Um, do you need something, bouya?”
“Yeah!” Conan says. He turns his phone around to show Hattori. “My detective nii-san wants to ask you some questions. He’s Hattori Heiji. You know, that famous high school detective. Not as famous as Kudou Shinichi, but we can’t all be as cool as him.”
“Haha, sorry about him,” Hattori laughs (and Conan can hear a twinge of annoyance in it). “He’s my little helper, seeing as I’m all the way in Osaka. Did ya know that trains all the way over here are super expensive? And Kudou never pays for me even though I help him out loads, seeing as I’m the better detective.”
Like hell you are, Conan thinks.
“Oh, um…” Nishiyama says, blinking. “I can imagine…that the trains would be expensive.” He hesitates and then holds the door open. “Would you like to come in, bouya? You can play with my son while I answer your detective nii-san’s questions.” He blinks again. ”O-only if you want to, of course.”
Conan grins and shoves his phone into the man’s hands. He fumbles a bit before getting a good grip on it.
“I’d love to, Mister,” Conan chirps. He enters the house.
Nishiyama nods and shuts the door. They walk together, Conan practically bouncing as he keeps up the kiddie act.
“Hibiki,” Nishiyama calls gently into the living room. The living room is small and only houses a tv and a couch, as well as several dried-up potted plants. Hibiki is sitting on the couch, watching Kamen Yaiba, and he turns when his name is called.
Yay. Kamen Yaiba.
“This is…” Nishiyama starts, gesturing to Conan. He blinks and looks confused.
“Conan,” Conan says. He smiles warmly at Hibiki.
“Oh…yes. This is Conan,” Nishiyama says. “He’s helping a detective, but detective work is boring. Do you want to play with him?”
“I guess…” Hibiki says, though he doesn’t sound like he wants to.
Nishiyama smiles and then continues further into the house to be questioned by Hattori.
“Hello Hibiki-san,” Conan says, sitting down on the couch next to him.
“Hi,” the boy says glumly.
“Do you like Kamen Yaiba?” Conan asks.
Hahaha. Great. This is a kid who doesn’t want to answer questions.
“Hey,” Conan whispers. It garners a glance, “I know your daddy said that I’m helping that detective, but the truth is that I’m also a detective.”
“You’re a kid,” Hibiki mumbles.
Hadn’t noticed. Thanks for the update.
“But I’m a detective, too,” Conan says.
“Kids aren’t detectives,” Hibiki says. “The police people weren’t kids.”
“That’s because kids can’t become officers,” Conan argues. “There are a lot of things you need to do to be an officer – like learn to shoot a gun. And it’s stupid to give a minor a gun, they’d probably shoot themselves by accident. But to be a detective all you need to do is be very clever and good at deducting.”
Hibiki looks away from Kamen Yaiba.
“You talk like a grown-up,” he says judgementally.
“Because I’m clever,” says Conan. “And that means I get to be a detective.”
“Grown-ups are stupid,” Hibiki pouts.
“Yeah, they are,” Conan agrees.
“Tou-san is stupid.”
“He’s dealing with a lot of stress.”
“What’s ‘stress’?” Hibiki asks. Conan is reminded that he’s dealing with a five-year-old here.
“It’s when…” Conan pauses, thinking. He fiddles with the straps of his backpack absently. “It’s when bad things happen, and they make you sad, or scared.”
“Like when Kaa-san went away,” Hibiki mutters.
“Yeah,” Conan says. “Like that.”
“Are you…um…do you have ‘stress’?”
“Me? No,” Conan says cheerily.
“But you’re sad.” He looks at Conan frustratedly. “And you lie like Tou-san does.”
What is it with everyone telling him he’s depressed today?
“I’m not sad,” Conan says.
“Uh huh,” Hibiki says, unconvinced. He turns back to the TV, and then, after a second, to Conan. “You know, it’s naughty to lie.”
“You’re very sassy for a five-year-old,” Conan huffs.
“I don’t know what that means, but you’re a little baby.”
“Are you gonna ask me about Kaa-san or not?”
“Yeah, yeah. Getting there,” Conan says with a roll of his eyes. He takes his backpack from his back and then drops it on the floor before fishing around for his notebook and pen.
“Right,” Conan says, setting the notebook on his lap. “Just tell me everything you know.”
It starts off with things he already knows – like the fact that Oye Airi went missing when Nishiyama and Hibiki went to the aquarium together, and that sometimes things would be moved around the house during the night for no reason. Eventually though, Hibiki says something that Conan doesn’t know.
“What,” Conan says, pen stilling on the paper.
Hibiki looks frazzled and nervous. He’s holding back tears.
“There was a strange man in the kitchen the night before Kaa-san... I wanted water and he was there. I…I thought it was a dream…but. Hey, Conan-kun, did Kaa-san go ‘cause of me?”
“No,” Conan says fiercely. “No, she didn’t. She went because of an awful person who finds making people…leave…funny. It’s not your fault, Hibiki.”
“’Kay,” Hibiki mumbles.
“Was he doing anything in the kitchen?” Conan asks. “Anything suspicious?”
“He was looking in a cupboard,” Hibiki says.
“Can you show me?”
Hibiki nods and then leads Conan to the kitchen. He points to a cupboard and says, “There.” Conan thanks him and then crouches down by the cupboard. Hibiki stands back, fidgeting nervously.
Conan looks the cupboard over, presses his face to the floor to check underneath the doors, and then opens it. He fumbles with his watch and clicks the flashlight on.
It lights up the back of the cupboard. And there he sees some kind of scribble, carved into flaky paint. He crawls into the cupboard to squint at it, hears Hibiki’s nervous shuffling.
It’s two letters, squiggly and incomprehensible. Likely initials.
It could just be nothing. But…this killer wants to be known. It’s possible that he – and it’s probably a man, because Hibiki said it was a man – left a mark. Conan takes his Shinichi phone out and snaps a picture.
It’s as he’s crawling out from the cupboard that Nishiyama comes back, Conan phone still in his hands.
“Oh.” He utters, seeing Conan emerging, dusty, from the cupboard. “It…looks like you boys had fun.”
“Yeah!” Conan chirps, and he clambers the rest of the way out before shoving his phone in his pocket (this gets him a weird look, because what sort of seven-year-old has two phones). He closes the cupboard doors. “We were playing hide and seek, but Hibiki-san found me.”
After leaving the house and listening to what Hattori managed to gather from Nishiyama (not much; Conan’s time had evidently been better spent than Hattori’s) Conan hangs up on Hattori. He sends the photograph of the back of the cupboard to his Conan phone through Bluetooth and then puts his Shinichi phone away.
Conan sends the photograph to Hakuba, with the message, ‘found this in a cupboard at Oye Airi’s house. Oye Hibiki says that there was a strange man in front of that cupboard the night before Oye Airi’s disappearanance’
He looks at the time. Lunchtime – time to eat, then.
By the time he gets home it’s 2pm, and Ran is very angry.
“Ah! Sorry – forgot.” Conan says.
“Of course you did,” Ran seethes. “That’s why you left the house before seven, like any normal person would.”
“Honest,” Conan says. He looks up imploringly. Ran sighs.
“Just- just go to your room. You’re grounded.”
Conan does as he’s told and collapses onto his futon. He takes his phone from his pocket. No messages from Hakuba. Huh.
He turns around and hits the call button and holds the phone to his ear.
“The number you are calling is not reachable.”
“Huh,” Conan mumbles. He calls again just to be sure, but he gets the same answer.
Hakuba’s phone isn’t reachable. Did he…he couldn’t have…
He’s probably investigating too, but…Conan doesn’t think he would let the killer overpower him. But then, this killer has killed seven people – possibly more – and Hakuba is only seventeen.
Conan sends a message to Hattori – who he knows has the number for Hakuba’s home phone – and then rings that once he has the number.
After a few beats it picks up.
“Hello,” says an older man. “This is Hakuba.”
“Oh,” says Conan. “Are you Hakuba-niisan’s dad?”
“You mean Saguru?” asks the man. He chuckles. “What’s he been up to then? Got himself a little admirer?”
Conan rolls his eyes. Like hell. He only admires Holmes.
“Something like that... Say, you haven’t seen Hakuba-niisan today, have you?”
“Ah, no. I only just got home a few hours ago. I think he mentioned having something to do today? Or yesterday? Or maybe tomorrow? I can’t remember for the life of me. Do you want to leave a message? I can tell him you called.”
“No, thanks!” Conan says, feeling horror rise up in him. Hakuba’s gone and done it, hasn’t he. He’s gone and gotten himself into trouble. “Bye!”
He hangs up before Hakuba’s dad can even get another word out.
“I hope Hakuba-kun’s alright,” Ran says worriedly as she ladles curry onto all of their plates.
“Yeah,” Conan says. He frowns down at the text that pings through from Nakamori-keibu (and apparently his daughter sent it, since he’s bad with technology), saying that he also hasn’t seen Hakuba. “Megure-keibu says they can’t launch an official investigation until he’s been missing for 24 hours, but, seeing as Hakuba-niichan is involved with the floorboards case, he’s looking into it.”
Ran hums. She puts the ladle down on the side. “We can’t lose another teenage detective,” she says.
“Ah- well,” Ran says, good-naturedly but sad at the same time. “It’s just- I know Shinichi’s alright but I worry sometimes – that he’s gone and gotten himself into trouble.”
Conan says nothing.
“Well, no need to worry,” Ran says. She smiles down at Conan. “Want to help me take these to the kotatsu?”
Conan nods and grabs one of the plates.
Still, even after dinner, nothing’s turned up about Hakuba. Conan feels like he should be investigating himself, but there’s not much he can do. He didn’t think to leave any tracking devices on Hakuba, and the other detective would have found and discarded them even if he did.
Mouri tells him not to worry too much, because teenage detectives are hardy. Conan still worries.
It happens at 2:40am – his phone starts buzzing. Conan grabs at it, sees Hakuba’s number, and answers.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Hakuba says, and then, in a sarcastic tone, “By the way, thank you for convincing every single person that I know that I was murdered by a serial killer.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have gone missing for so many hours if you didn’t want that to happen,” Conan hisses. “Where the fuck even are you?”
“Language.” Hakuba chides.
“Oh, sorry,” Conan drawls. “Where the fuck even are you?”
“You didn’t even correct yourself.”
“London. There’s a family gathering, and I have the esteemed privilege of being part of that family.” Hakuba sounds mildly annoyed. Conan hears a woman say, “You’re sounding very rude, Saguru.” In English on the other end. “Oh, I apologise,” Hakuba says, also in English, sounding as unapologetic as a person can sound.
“Okay. So you didn’t think to tell anyone you were going to be on a long flight today- no. Wait.” Conan runs a hand through his hair. “Yesterday.”
“Ah. Well. It didn’t seem all too important. I told father weeks ago, but he’s stupid.”
“Haha,” Conan laughs sardonically. “Fuck you.”
And then he hangs up.
Come talk to me on my tumblr over here: https://achairwithapandaonit.tumblr.com/
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Hmmm okay this chapter took a while. Really sorry about that, I've been so busy lately. So like updates will be slow for a few more weeks probably. I hope you enjoy this one!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Yes,” Saguru says with great boredom, “I’m safe, I promise. I am not being held at gunpoint, or knifepoint, or any other kind of point.”
The person on the other end of the phone asks him if he’s sure and Saguru confirms that, yes, he is sure, before hanging up.
The breakfast table is tense this morning, as Baaya and Mother do not get along. They’ve never gotten along and Saguru is rather tired of it.
“I could have sworn you were just a housekeeper, Bertha,” Mother comments as she passes the bowl of fruit salad down the table to Saguru. He takes it from her hands with a stiff ‘thank you’ and begins dishing it out onto his plate. “Did you get promoted?”
“Well, you know as well as anyone that I’m not just employed as a housekeeper,” Baaya says.
It’s true. She isn’t really even a housekeeper.
“Oh, and getting Saguru into dangerous situations is part of your employment, then?”
“I would rather imagine that I’m employed to keep him out of dangerous situations,” Baaya says. “The number of dangerous situations he gets himself into per year has more than halved since I was employed.”
“Yes. Truly splendid,” Mother says waspily. “I do hope you aren’t encouraging him, though.”
“Encourage Saguru-botchama? Never.”
“We don’t want him swanning off to be a spy. Really, Bertha, your background is far too energetic for a family like ours. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather go back to your old job?”
“My bones are far too brittle for that nowadays, I’m afraid. I’ll have to leave it to the younger generation.”
“As long as you’re sure.” Mother smiles tightly.
“I assure you, I am.”
Saguru clears his throat. “Would anyone like the fruit salad?” he asks.
“The grown-ups are talking,” says Mother.
Is this how Edogawa feels 24/7? No wonder he swears so much.
Saguru sets the fruit salad back down on the table. He hears the tell-tale flapping of wings and holds out his arm just in time for Watson to land on it. Watson opens his beak and lets out a horrifying screech.
“Aww,” Saguru coos. “Would you like to go hunting? I’m sure we can find some mice that are due a murder.”
Watson shrieks again. How endearing. Saguru smiles.
“Of course, Watson, I understand. But Kuroba’s doves are all the way over in Japan.”
“Saguru,” says Mother, face screwed up into a sour expression. “We don’t have eagles at the dining table.”
“There are no eagles at the dining table, Mother,” Saguru says. Watson’s a hawk, after all.
“You know what I mean,” Mother says. “You’ve even got your falconry glove on, so you’re doing this on purpose. Tell me, Saguru, has Japan treated you well?”
Saguru raises an eyebrow. He doesn’t see what Japan has to do with anything. “I must admit that it is challenging, but I enjoy the challenge.”
“You’ve always enjoyed challenges.”
“Is there a meaning behind this unrelated line of conversation?”
“I was going to make a remark on Japan turning you into an argumentative brat, Saguru,” says Mother. “But then I realised that this is an untrue statement.”
Beside him, Baaya’s face pinches.
“You’ve always been an argumentative brat, Saguru. Japan has only encouraged you. Or rather, Japan’s resident phantom thief has only encouraged you. Tell me, do you enjoy making a fool of yourself on live television?”
Saguru’s feels his face heat up with anger.
“I-“ he says, but gets cut off by Baaya.
“What Saguru-botchama does with his life is no concern of yours,” she says.
“I did not ask for your opinion, Bertha,” Mother says icily. She turns back to Saguru, her eyebrow raising. Saguru frowns – there’s a strange look in her eyes. “Do you enjoy it, Saguru?”
“Yes,” he decides.
“I will refrain from attempting to dissuade you from your work then, Saguru,” Mother says.
Saguru blinks, taken aback.
“Mother?” he asks.
“As long as you do not get the overbearing urge to become a spy. I will not have a liar as a son.”
Ah. That sounds more like Mother.
“It is a good thing, then, that I detest lying.”
That seems to be the end of that. Mother and Baaya start trading insults once again and Saguru returns to his breakfast without the worry of strange conversations that are apparently about his happiness.
He finishes eating, watching idly as Watson walks up and down the dining table to steal from the various dishes, and then retires upstairs to read ‘The Sign of Four’. Watson flies after him on his way upstairs.
He’s about half-way through when his phone buzzes. Watson lets out a shriek and flies down to perch behind Saguru’s shoulder on the chair. He ruffles his feathers, peering over Saguru’s shoulder as he opens up his phone.
Ah – Aoko.
Her text reads, ‘do u want to video chat’.
‘Sure.’ Saguru sends back. He might as well.
The video connects and shows Aoko’s smiling face. She’s propped her phone up on something and whatever it is, it’s emitting a faint rumbling sound.
“Hello, Hakuba-kun,” she grins, and then tacks on, “Hello, Watson.”
“It’s good to see you, Aoko-san,” Saguru says.
“Yeah, Aoko’s happy to see Hakuba-kun too!” Aoko cheers.
“Was there something you wished to discuss?” Saguru asks. Watson edges off of the back of the chair and onto Saguru’s shoulder. That’s another shirt ruined by Watson, Saguru thinks, as a talon gets caught in it.
Aoko glares. “Yeah!” she says. “There is something Aoko wants to talk about.”
“Oh?” Saguru says. He frowns, because Aoko only ever gets angry at him when he accuses Kuroba – quite rightly – of being KID. “Have I done something?”
“Why didn’t Hakuba-kun tell anyone he was going to be in England?” Aoko asks moodily, “Everyone was worried. Aoko was worried.”
“Oh. Well…I hadn’t thought it relevant. I didn’t expect it would worry anyone,” Saguru says.
“Why wouldn’t Aoko be worried?” Aoko yells. “Hakuba-kun is Aoko’s friend.”
“Pardon?” Saguru says. Watson takes flight from his shoulder.
He can’t quite believe what he’s just heard.
Aoko frowns. “Aoko said that we’re friends.”
“Oh,” Saguru says. He blinks twice, body perhaps a bit too still. “Alright.”
“Did Hakuba-kun not know?”
“Well, I suppose I didn’t.”
“Oh. That’s sad.”
“I- yes.” Saguru says stiffly. He feels a fair bit suffocated. His hand slips into his pocket and he withdraws his pocket watch. The familiarity of it is comforting.
“And Kaito’s your friend too,” Aoko says awkwardly.
“Now that takes the suspension of disbelief a bit too far,” Saguru says. Aoko pouts.
“It’s true,” she says. There’s a shuffling sound. “Bakaito, wake up,” Aoko says. There’s the sound of shifting, then a quiet ‘ow’. The camera moves slightly and then goes black as her phone drops off of whatever it was propped on top of.
“Huh? Aoko?” Kuroba says groggily, over the other end, “Was your phone on my head?”
“Aoko was talking to Hakuba-kun,” Aoko says. The phone lightens as Aoko picks it up. Saguru sees that Kuroba has joined her.
“Ew. Hakuba,” Kuroba says. He yawns and leans his head against Aoko’s shoulder.
“Kaito,” Aoko chastises. “This is why Hakuba-kun doesn’t know that we’re all friends with him.”
Kuroba stills. He turns to the camera.
“You’re an idiot, Hakubaka.”
Saguru flushes. His fingers tense around his pocket watch.
“You just had to tell Kuroba, didn’t you?” He seethes.
“Oi,” Kuroba says, “I’m not making fun of you, idiot. I’m saying we’re friends,” and then he mutters, “Shithead.”
“I heard that, Kuroba,” Saguru says. It does make him feel better though, that Kuroba is confirming their friendship. It shouldn’t – because Kuroba is insanely annoying and also a thief, and he has broken so many laws – but it does.
Aoko giggles. She runs a hand through Kuroba’s messy hair.
“Anyway,” Saguru says, trying in vain to keep his composure. “Kuroba could have told you that I wasn’t missing – he snuck into my home the other day to mildly inconvenience me, and he would have seen my suitcase, seeing as he moved it. With the obvious intention to trip me up, might I add.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” Kuroba grins. He looks way too smug and Saguru can only gather that he’d watched him trip over the suitcase.
“Kaito needs to stop breaking into peoples’ homes,” Aoko says. “Or people might start believing Hakuba-kun when he says Kaito is Kaitou KID.”
“Hey, hey!” Kuroba complains. “I’m a magician! How can I not be tempted to break into Hakuba’s house when he has such state-of-the-art locks?”
“Spoken like a thief,” says Saguru. But he can’t fight his smile down.
“Um, actually, a thief would be talking about all your expensive paintings and vases. And I’m pretty sure I saw a ruby embedded on that bust in the main hallway. So, y’know, Kaitou KID will probably be all like, ‘Ladies and gentlemen and detectives – yoink’ soon.”
“Because you are KID.”
“No. Because if I can break into your house then KID can too. And he’s gonna yoink all your stuff. Better hurry home before your supply of banana ice cream mysteriously goes missing.”
“You don’t even like banana ice cream, Bakaito.”
“Doesn’t mean it won’t go missing.”
“If you so much as touch my banana ice cream, I’ll bring Edogawa to class. I know he scares you.”
“Not KID. But yeah, I’ve seen him on the news, and I can confirm he is scary.” Kuroba visibly shudders. Aoko whacks him on the head.
“He’s just a child, dummy,” she says.
“Yeah, he’s just a kid,” Kuroba says. “But he’s a scary one. Remember when we watched Jurassic Park and that raptor learnt how to open the door? That’s him – that’s Edogawa Conan.”
What an apt description.
“How very accurate that is for you to say, when you apparently have never met the boy.”
Conan spends most of Monday in a tired daze. He has a horrible headache and elementary school isn’t making it any better.
The kids comment on his tiredness and Mitsuhiko asks if he was up last night, reading mystery novels.
“Yeah. Sure,” Conan says. He doesn’t have the energy to actually properly explain last night. Hakuba really has communication problems.
“Ah! You’re lying!” Genta says.
“You shouldn’t lie, Conan-kun,” Ayumi says.
Conan looks at them blankly.
“First Hakuba,” he mutters, “And then Haibara, then that little boy. Ran as well. Now you three. Everyone seems to think I’m lying about something.”
Granted, he is, but most of them are wrong about what it is. Haibara and Oye Hibiki think he’s depressed (they’re wrong, by the way), and Ran thinks he’s lying about having forgotten he was grounded (and she is right, but that isn’t really anything important). Hakuba, at least, seems to be on the right track.
“To be fair to all of us, you are lying,” Haibara says.
Yes, he knows that.
“What were you doing then, Conan-kun?” Mitsuhiko asks curiously.
“Yeah!” Ayumi says. “Ayumi wants to know.” Genta nods along in agreement.
“It’s not really something you should be involving yourselves in,” Conan sighs.
“It’s a mystery, then,” Mitsuhiko says wisely.
“And Conan’s trying to keep it all to himself!” Genta gasps, annoyance lining his every word.
“How mean!” Ayumi exclaims.
Conan is fond of the Shounen Tantei-dan, but he really wishes they’d stop trying to edge their way into every mystery they hear of. The sheer number of dead bodies they’ve stumbled across is apparently not encouraging enough to stop them.
“I’m not joking,” Conan says seriously. “This one is really dangerous.”
The Shounen Tantei-dan seem to catch onto his seriousness. They still don’t look fully convinced though.
“But still…” Ayumi mutters.
“If Edogawa-kun says it’s dangerous,” Haibara says, “Then you should probably leave it alone.”
Funny thing is, they actually listen to Haibara.
Eventually, the school day ends, and Conan goes home. The Shounen Tantei-dan ask if he wants to play soccer with them but he says no, because he’s grounded.
‘You’re getting sloppy, you know,’ Haibara had said yesterday, and it echoes in his mind. He knows he’s getting sloppy – he’s doing as he likes without thinking of what Ran might think on the daily. If he keeps sneaking out to investigate these murders, she’s going to catch on.
But there’s no way he can let up on his investigation.
It’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again.
He’ll use the nights to investigate the victims’ homes, to look for the initials. If he’s right – and he’s probably right – then the killer likes to leave a mark where he’s been. Maybe he’d been leaving a trail for someone to discover, but then gotten impatient and revealed the bodies.
Once Conan’s confirmed that the mark is the killer’s, he can start looking into who might be the next victim. There are a lot of people in Japan, but if he plots out a map, he can mark out the killer’s territory and look only in that area. And then he can bank on his luck and hope he just mysteriously stumbles across a paranoid person.
It’s most likely going to be a woman, as the killer didn’t attack any men after Tommy Wilson. Even then, he may have just come as a package deal with Rachel Brown.
That night, after Mouri’s started snoring and the light in Ran’s bedroom has turned off, Conan gets changed into everyday clothes and pulls a coat on. He’s wearing his suspenders once again, just in case.
The night air is chilly, and it makes him thankful for his coat. He’s also thankful that Meguro city is just a walk away. It would be suspicious for a young boy to get on the train at this hour.
He lets his glasses home in on the listening device he’d left at the front door of the apartment Goda Megumi used to live at. He’s been listening in all night and he knows that, while the old couple who now lives there haven’t gone out, they are probably asleep.
It would be so much easier to search Nakai Sora’s house, but that would require a bit more planning, as Conan would need to take a train to get there. He would use his skateboard, only it doesn’t work after dark, powered on solar energy as it is.
When he arrives at Goda Megumi’s old apartment, Conan takes a moment to peer through the window. The window looks in on the living room, and it’s dark in there. There are no lights shining underneath any of the doors that he can see.
Conan’s actually planned his criminal activity for this evening. He’s brought two paperclips, which he pulls straight and then inserts into the lock. It only takes about ten seconds – the locks on front doors are awful and it’s surprising that houses don’t get broken into more often.
He heads inside cautiously, ears open for any sounds from inside the house. All he can hear is a loud snoring.
He shuts the door and clicks the light on his wristwatch on.
He searches the kitchen first, inside the cupboards. There’s nothing in them, not even when he flicks his light over the ceiling of them, head craned inside to catch any glimpse he can. This doesn’t mean he can give up yet though – he’s sure the mark was left by the killer. Conan shuts the cupboards behind him and gets up. He dusts himself off and then heads towards the table set.
Taking a wander around it, nothing sticks out. Conan crawls under the table, and then each of the chairs, flashing his wristwatch above him, but there aren’t any marks there.
Next, he checks the sofa in the living room over. Nothing seems to be disturbed. The coffee table is the same, and the cabinet at the back of the room, that holds old china inside.
He looks towards the room that the snoring is coming from. The bedroom, presumably. The mark is probably in there, but it would be dangerous to search the room. He doesn’t want to be found snooping around someone’s house.
What other choice is there, though?
Conan hesitantly takes a step towards the bedroom, and then another. The floorboards creek beneath him and he has to force his mind not to think of squirming maggots. He walks on, to the door, and then he slowly turns the door handle, opens the door a crack.
It takes Conan’s eyes a second to adjust to the darkness in there and when they do, he sees that there are two people sleeping on the bed, as he’d expected. They both seem in the depths of slumber, chests moving up and down rhythmically.
Conan opens the door the rest of the way and then tiptoes into the room. He keeps his watch pointed at the floor, away from the couple. He heads towards the wardrobe and looks it over. And then, when he can’t find anything there, checks over the side tables.
There’s a shuffling sound next to him and Conan freezes, watching the man. He rolls over, mumbling lightly in his sleep.
Conan breaths out a sigh and then heads around the bed to check the other side table. Nothing there.
He crawls along the floor, light shone beneath the bed. There is nothing on the wooden beams supporting the mattress. Nothing on the bed’s legs. Nothing even on the back of the mirror when he edges between it and the wall it stands against. He checks underneath every picture frame in the bedroom.
After that – and still no sign of the scribble – Conan hurries out of the room, disappointed. He lets the door click shut.
Maybe he was wrong…but he doesn’t feel wrong.
Conan heads back the way he came.
It’s as he’s passing in front of the window that he feels eyes on him. Conan freezes up. He slowly turns his head to look out of the window.
There’s a shadowy figure there, hidden in the darkness. Anxiety sparks in Conan’s chest for all of a second before he gives chase.
He dashes towards the entry way, and then out of the house. There’s a metallic thumping against the walkway. The light on wristwatch catches the figure before they’re gone, down the stairs, on much longer legs than Conan’s.
“Bastard,” Conan mutters.
He breathes out through his nostrils and then bends down to turn up the dial on his sneakers. Electricity crackles around his foot. He grabs onto the railing and looks down at the figure running down the stairs. Conan analyses where he thinks the person will be in five seconds and then presses on his belt to release a soccer ball. It blows up. Conan kicks.
The ball bounces off of the railing and then hits the wall behind him before heading straight down and nailing the figure in the head. They stumble and fall the rest of the way down the stairs.
Ha, Conan thinks. He turns back to the front door and closes it. The couple is old – they’ll probably think they just forgot to lock it.
Then he heads down the stairs. If he weren’t so small, he would be taking them two at a time.
The figure is gone by the time he gets to the bottom of the complex.
His Conan phone buzzes once. He swears again and pulls it from his pocket.
It’s Hakuba – he’s sent a text. Conan doesn’t even look at it. He presses call, enabling the video option so that Hakuba can see just how annoyed he is.
“Can’t you tell I’m busy being angry over here?” Conan hisses as soon as the call’s connected.
Hakuba blinks. “I’m…sorry?” he says. He shifts and the video freezes for a second before catching up with his movement.
Conan looks up to the dark blue of sky and sighs. He feels the anger sort of ebb away.
“No, I’m sorry,” he sighs. “Shouldn’t have snapped.”
It reminds him of Wednesday night, when they’d found the bodies. He’d apologised to Hakuba then for pretending to be a child around him, and Hakuba had been very haughty.
He says the same thing now, “That’s quite alright,” but there’s nothing haughty about it this time. He’s even smiling slightly.
Conan realises it then. They’ve sort of grown closer over the last few days. Hakuba had respected Conan for his intellect back then, but now he respects him as a person as well. They’ve become…friends, almost.
Conan feels a warmth in his chest.
“Do you play the violin?” he asks, smiling.
He’s still on edge though. He glances around, feeling almost as if the shadows are closing in on him. Whoever that was, they could be anywhere right now – far away or close by. And they’re most likely the killer.
“I do,” Hakuba says, “Because of Holmes. What about you?”
“Yep. The same reason, as well,” Conan says.
“I had no doubt of that,” Hakuba says. “By the way, what are you doing outside at this hour? Japan is eight hours ahead so,” there’s a click on the other end. Conan presumes that Hakuba has opened his pocket watch. “It must be 01:32:56:21.” Another click, as he closes the pocket watch.
“Just a bit of investigating,” Conan says.
“Go home,” Hakuba says forcefully. Conan snorts and Hakuba gives out a frustrated noise. “I mean it, Edogawa-kun. Go home. You are seven-years-old, even if you don’t seem like it. You shouldn’t be out by yourself at night.”
Hakuba raises a valid point.
“Fine. Okay. I’ll go home,” Conan says. He casts a final look at his surroundings and then starts walking back to Beika. Hakuba insists on keeping the call running until he’s locked the Mouris’ front door behind him.
Tuesday dawns with auditory hallucinations of Latin chanting. Saguru sits up in bed, wiping sleep from his eyes, and watches with quiet detachment as a flaming pentagram draws itself into his bedroom floor.
Watson launches himself from his perch at the disruption and Saguru catches him effortlessly, letting him burrow against his pyjama shirt, feathers ruffling in distress.
“Hohoho!” Koizumi’s disembodied voice laughs. “Bow before me O mortal one and accept thy gift!”
The fire gives a loud crackle and then disappears in a plume of smoke, taking Koizumi’s presence along with it. All that is left is a singed pentagram on his bedroom floor, a book sitting neatly inside.
Saguru heaves a sigh and gets out of bed, Watson still cradled against his chest. He stands before the book.
It’s old. ‘The Creatures That Roam Japan’ is hand-written in hiragana, likely with a calligraphy set. There’s a bright orange post-it note, that Saguru recognises as belonging to Aoko’s collection, taped on the front cover with masking tape. It reads, ‘see page 234 for kitsune’.
Saguru reaches down to take the post-it note from the cover. He registers a tearing sound as Watson’s talons get caught in his shirt.
There’s a gruesome drawing of a giant centipede eating a person beneath. Saguru wisely puts the post-it note back in place.
The rest of the morning proves to be quite boring, but at least the book gives him something to do that isn’t pouring over case notes he’s already poured over.
Baaya disappears very quickly, claiming that she’s meeting an old friend. This wouldn’t usually be something suspicious but, seeing as Saguru’s relatives are coming over for lunch (and some possibly even before then), Baaya has a justifiable motive to be fleeing the house.
Saguru is rather annoyed that she’s abandoned him like this.
“Make sure you present well for lunch,” Mother says after they’ve silently eaten breakfast together, as if Saguru wasn’t already planning on ‘presenting well’.
Saguru says, “Of course, Mother,” and then leaves for his bedroom. He goes through his daily routine with great boredom and, strangely enough, finds himself missing Kuroba’s annoying shenanigans. Aoko’s mop wielding. Koizumi’s fantastical ramblings.
Well, maybe he doesn’t need to miss that last one, because Koizumi has proven that she’s quite adept at keeping up contact.
They’re friends. He’s not sure about himself and Koizumi, but Kuroba himself had clarified that they were friends, which really meant something. No wonder he’s been happier in Japan lately, if he’s somehow, unknowingly, made friends while there.
He’s friends with Edogawa as well, though that friendship is proving to be very unconventional.
Watson gives a shriek. It makes Saguru jump. He watches the hawk blankly, before his eyes slide down to what Watson is impatiently ruffling his feathers at.
His pocket watch.
“Oh, thank you, Watson,” Saguru says as he takes the pocket watch from his desk and flicks it open.
He must have zoned off while thinking. It’s easier to do that here.
Saguru pulls a sweater on and puts his pocket watch into his pocket, where it belongs.
Conan doesn’t wait around when school lets up. He speeds out of the door, saying hasty goodbyes to the detective boys, and then heads towards Meguro city.
The old couple living in Goda Megumi’s old apartment have reservations for dinner tonight. This will leave their house unattended.
Conan is going to find the mark.
It is there. He knows it’s there. It’s not the only thing there.
Conan’s hands clench around the straps of his backpack as he storms up the path that is quickly becoming familiar to him.
The person he chased after had to have known something. No one runs for no reason, especially not from a little boy. He was the killer, probably, and he knows that Conan is related to the investigation.
He could have just killed Conan then and there, but that’s not his style. The killer wants his victims to live in fear for weeks on end before he kills them. Conan doesn’t feel fear – he just feels rage.
He is not a suitable victim.
Therefore, the killer left him alone. Therefore, Conan is safe.
Don’t lie, a voice in his head says. It sounds suspiciously like Hakuba.
Conan will lie as much as he wants. Lying is all he has in this form; it’s all he is. He cannot be Edogawa Conan and be truthful at the same time.
He sits in the park across from the apartment complex until 4:30 comes along and the old couple amble out to catch the bus. He feels like someone’s watching him the entire time, but he knows it’s just nerves.
Nerves? Because he’s scared? Of course not.
He’s not a child and he doesn’t get scared. He’s just anxious to get this over with, to get home.
Once the old couple have disappeared around the corner, Conan leaves the bench he was sitting on. The air is a bit chilly and the sky is full of clouds. It won’t be getting dark for a couple of hours.
Sneaking back into the house is easy. The lock gives a click and Conan goes inside.
He searches everywhere he’s already searched, and it’s easier in the afternoon light. Still, he finds nothing. So, he looks behind the pictures on the wall and inside the fridge and even on the big wooden spoons. Nothing.
Conan breathes out an unsteady breath. This is beyond annoying.
But…maybe he just needs a new angle. Another perspective.
Hakuba looks unimpressed when the video call connects.
“That’s not the Mouris’ residence,” he remarks, one eyebrow raised. “It’s illegal to break into other people’s houses, Edogawa-kun.”
“What’re they gonna do?” Conan says blandly. “Take me to court? I’m seven.”
Hakuba looks troubled.
“I can’t exactly ignore this behaviour, Edogawa-kun,” he says.
“Well, it’s a good thing you’re in England then, isn’t it.” Before Hakuba can say anything on the matter, Conan continues. “This is Goda Megumi’s old apartment. I’ve been looking for that marking I found at the back of the cupboard in the Oye household, but I can’t find it anywhere.”
“Have you looked in the cupboa-”
“Yes. I’ve looked everywhere, Hakuba. Even under picture frames. Even on things that obviously came with the new residents. It’s nowhere. But it can’t be nowhere beca-”
“Because every instinct is screaming at you that you’re right,” Hakuba finishes. He frowns. “My instincts are telling me that you are right as well, and my instincts are rarely wrong.”
Hakuba really is an arrogant person but…Conan’s beginning to find it endearing. A bit funny, maybe.
“Yeah,” Conan says. “That’s it exactly.”
Hakuba nods in understanding. He shifts, face set carefully. “Edogawa-kun,” he says. “I don’t wish to incur your wrath, but have you checked above your eye level?”
Conan freezes. Realisation washes over him. He feels his lips curl up and he doesn’t even try to stop the short burst of childish laughter that leaves him.
“No,” he says good naturedly. “It never crossed my mind.”
He clambers atop the cupboards with the help of a chair and then begins sorting his way through the upper cabinets. He hits jackpot on the third one and snaps a picture.
“What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?” Conan says in English as he pushes the chair back under the table.
“You’re familiar with the game?” Hakuba says. There’s a click over the other end.
“I’ve heard of it,” Conan says. “And you referenced it on one of our calls.”
“Oh,” Hakuba says. “I hadn’t meant to. The time over here is 09:02:38:01, so it will be 17:02:38:01 in Japan.”
Conan sets about wiping his fingerprints from everything he’s touched, and by the time he’s finished that, Hakuba informs him that it’s 17:13:25:37. Conan leaves and locks the door behind him with his makeshift lockpicks. Hakuba makes a wounded noise as he does so but otherwise stays silent on the matter.
“Where is your next destination? And should I be informing your guardians of today’s burst of criminal activity?” Hakuba asks when Conan gets onto a train. By now, they’ve both plugged their earphones in. Hakuba has been reading something, and it occurs to Conan that he’s interested in whatever it is.
“Minato city,” Conan says. He doesn’t offer anything on Hakuba’s second remark – he thinks he’s familiar enough with Hakuba now to recognise it as teasing. “I’ve already checked out Nakai Sora’s house, but I didn’t know about the mark then.”
“Her house hasn’t been sold off yet, then?”
“Still open for investigation.”
“Ah.” There’s the sound of a page turning. Conan finds he can’t hold back his interest.
“Hey, Hakuba. What are you reading?” he asks.
“It’s a book on Japanese folklore,” Hakuba says.
“Folklore?” Conan repeats, unable to keep disdain out of his voice.
“Yes, a girl in my class sent it to me. Well, I say sent it to me, but to tell the truth, I woke up to auditory hallucinations of Latin chanting this morning and it appeared in the middle of a flaming pentagram. I’m going out to buy a rug to cover up the scorch marks when I’ve finished this chapter.”
Conan opens his mouth, but he can’t think of what to say to that.
“I understand that what I’ve just told you is much too nonsensical for you to comprehend, Edogawa-kun,” Hakuba says.
“You’re joking,” Conan surmises.
“Actually, no. I am perfectly serious. I suppose one has to witness Koizumi-san to understand the full breadth of her…well, I hesitate to call it magic, but I can’t think of anything else quite so truthful to Koizumi-san.”
What bullshit, Conan thinks.
“Magic isn’t real,” He says instead.
“I assure you it is,” says Hakuba. “Though I do not know if Koizumi-san is just an outlier.”
Conan hadn’t taken Hakuba to be naïve. He supposes that everyone has their flaws – Arthur Conan Doyle himself was fooled by magic tricks, believing whole-heartedly in spiritualism.
“I’m sure all of her tricks can be explained away with wires,” Conan comments.
“I assure you they cannot be,” Hakuba says.
Conan decides to shelf Hakuba’s naivety for later and looks out of the window instead. At some point Hakuba closes his book and says his goodbyes before disconnecting the call, likely heading out to buy the rug he’d mentioned.
Latin chanting and a flaming pentagram, huh? Hakuba’s family is obviously more creative and prone to pranks than Conan had thought.
He reaches Minato about twenty minutes later and heads towards Nakai Sora’s house. By the time he gets there, it’s just past six. He reaches for the front gate thoughtlessly and then pulls away at the faint sound of voices.
There are people inside the house.
Conan stands on his tip toes and cranes his neck to see inside the window. He can’t really see anything, though.
It’s probably Nakai Sora’s family, but Conan can’t let it go until he’s sure of that.
He unlatches the gate and creeps up to the window, peers inside with as much stealth as he can muster.
The window looks into the living room, and there’s a middle-aged man – probably in his fifties – sitting on the couch, a box of photos in his lap. There’s a teenaged girl on one side of him, and a young man probably only a few years older than her on the other side. Across the room a man and a woman – early twenties – are admiring the clay sculptures on one of the shelves.
The middle-aged man looks up to say something, and Conan realises he’s seen the man before. He’s Nakai Sora’s son, who features in a lot of the photos inside the house.
And the young people in there are his children.
Conan stands from his crouched position. There’s no point in lingering at the window. He’ll wait from across the road and then sneak in after they’ve left.
He walks back down the path. His hand falls on the gate and-
Conan freezes up, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. There’s someone watching him.
He looks behind himself, but Nakai Sora’s family aren’t at the window. He turns back to the gate, and- right across the road. A man, hidden in the darkness of a side alley. His face is covered by a hat and he’s wearing a bulky trench coat. Conan thinks he might be the same person he’d chased the night before, but he can’t tell decisively.
The man smirks.
Anger boils in Conan’s chest. This is the killer – they’ve got to be the killer – and they’ve been watching the family inside Nakai Sora’s house. Probably looking for a new victim.
Conan flings the gate open. The man steps back, looking amused. The chase begins.
The man’s much quicker than him, but he doesn’t run at his full potential. He waits at the ends of roads for Conan to catch up, looking more and more amused as time drags on.
Conan staggers to a stop inside an alley after a while, unable to go any further. He breaths in harsh gasps of breath, almost choking on them. He grasps a hand at his chest as he regains his breath. The man watches him several feet away and Conan regards him with hate-filled eyes.
“Bastard,” he wheezes. His legs burn.
The man just smirks. He turns and leaves the alley. After Conan has caught his breath he follows, leaving the alley for the bustling streets. He almost gets knocked over by an old woman, who apologises and helps him up. It’s dark by now. Conan can’t see the man.
He walks around the streets, looking this way and that, but he can’t find him.
And then he gets that familiar feeling of eyes on his back. Conan spins around, catching sight of someone at the edge of the crowd. There’s a man with a baseball cap and a hoodie on. Not the same outfit, but…
Conan narrows his eyes. The killer could have changed – to throw him off of his scent.
When the man edges away after Conan’s gaze has been on them too long, Conan knows. He starts running.
And of course, because this is the killer, they start running too.
Conan follows him throughout Minato. Something’s different about his suspect now though. He seems more energetic, like he’s really, truthfully playing. It’s weird.
The man enters a warehouse and Conan follows without a thought.
It’s dark in there, darker than outside. Conan can barely see anything. He bends over to power up his shoes and then turns the light on his watch on, readying his finger to release the tranquiliser inside. There are large crates all over the warehouse, stacked on top of each other and spaced evenly, with thin spaces in between, just about big enough for someone to walk through.
Conan wanders around the warehouse, fully aware of the prickling sensation of watching eyes.
It’s like a game of hide and seek. Every time he catches a shadow of a figure, they flit around the corner and Conan loses them for a few more minutes.
Just after losing sight of the man again, Conan hears a woosh of air.
He flattens himself against the floor just in time to avoid an airborne biro pen. It flies past him and then clatters to the floor uselessly.
Conan watches it with wide eyes, but it doesn’t do anything. He gets up and crawls over to it. He pokes it.
It’s just a pen.
“Okay,” he mutters, picking it up. “Why the fuck did you throw a pen at me?”
A joyous laugh fills the air. A familiar laugh.
The pen falls from Conan’s surprised hands.
He’s just realised how incredibly stupid he’s been. He has not, in fact, been chasing the killer. A strange feeling of relief comes over him, though he isn’t exactly sure why.
Another pen sails through the air and Conan doesn’t even bother to dodge. The pen bounces off of his cheek. There will be a bruise there tomorrow morning.
The warehouse is silent. And then-
“What? Tantei-kun! You’re meant to dodge!” KID shouts, voice strangled. “It’s no fun unless you dodge!”
He appears in front of Conan in a crouch, clad in his usual white outfit. He’s pouting.
It doesn’t take much to get Conan angry these days, and KID instigating a city-wide chase while Conan is trying to do his job is a lot more than ‘much’. Conan grabs at the thief’s tie and wrenches him down, bringing them face to face. KID lets out a quiet choking noise and grabs at Conan’s white-knuckled fingers, trying in vain to remove his grip.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Conan barks.
“Oh, uhh…you’re really angry, aren’t you?” he says, as if Conan needs that pointed out.
“What did you expect?” Conan snarls.
KID finally untangles Conan’s fingers from his tie. He gets to his feet and steps back before Conan can make another grab and glares down at him.
“What did I expect?” he says mockingly. “You horrible demon child, you’re the one that started chasing me. What did you expect?”
Conan feels a horrible headache coming on. He twitches.
“I wouldn’t have started chasing you,” Conan growls, “If you hadn’t been lingering around suspiciously.”
KID opens his mouth, then shuts it. He gets down onto his knees in front of Conan, still looming above him.
“Okay, first off,” he says, wagging a finger in front of Conan’s face for emphasis. “Eyeing up a dress is not suspicious activity, so jot that down. It was a very nice dress as well, and I was thinking I might even keep it after using it for my one of my disguises. And my friend and I swap clothes all the time and it’s definitely her sty-” Conan slaps his hand over KID’s mouth before he can continue.
“Hold the fuck up,” he says. “Dress? What dress?”
KID raises an eyebrow. He removes Conan’s hand from his mouth and says, with Hakuba’s voice, “In the shop window. Bright orange with blue polka dots. I was thinking of buying it.”
“Don’t do that,” Conan says, nose scrunching up.
“Sorry,” KID says, not sounding sorry at all. “If I raise my eyebrow, I have to imitate Hakuba. Those are the rules.”
Conan rolls his eyes.
“Just because you wanted to buy a dress, it doesn’t mean I’m the one at fault here,” he says. “You knew what you were doing, waiting for me in that alley.”
Conan stills. KID doesn’t look like he’s joking. He looks exasperated, like nothing Conan’s saying is making any sense.
“KID…” Conan starts. “You were in the alley, weren’t you? Opposite Nakai Sora’s house?”
KID watches him sharply, brow crinkling for a very long time. Finally, he smirks, throwing his arms wide.
“Yeah! Course I was!” he says cheerily, voice echoing through the warehouse. “I wanted to have a fun game of chase with my favourite critic.”
KID was not in alley. He’s lying to put Conan at ease.
“Hey, Tantei-kun,” KID chirps. “Wanna get dinner together?”
And now he’s making sure that Conan isn’t alone at…Conan looks down at his watch. 6:42PM. He knows that Conan won’t let him escort him home, and he also knows that Conan is possibly in danger.
Except, Conan isn’t in danger, because he’s not the killer’s favoured kind of victim.
Still, he is hungry.
They end up eating sushi from Costco, sitting across from each other on a picnic bench. It’s just hit 7PM and the sun is already setting, casting red shadows over KID’s white suit. Conan knows that he’s going to have to get rid of KID at some point so that he can investigate Nakai Sora’s house.
“How come no one’s calling the police?” Conan asks as he picks up a piece of sushi with his chopsticks.
“They think I’m cosplaying.” KID grins.
Conan snorts. “You’ve become too powerful,” he says.
“I’ve become too powerful?” is KID’s teasing reply. “What about you? You’ve already got the entire police department wrapped around your little finger. And now you’re making moves on Tantei-san as well. Is there a limit to the people you brainwash?”
“Hakuba isn’t wrapped around my little finger,” Conan corrects him. “We’re friends.”
“Oh my God!” KID crows. He leans over the table mischievously- maliciously. “Baby’s first crush!”
“What,” he says.
KID giggles and settles back on his seat. “Well,” he says dramatically. “I always knew it would happen. You are at a young, impressionable age.”
“I don’t have a crush on Hakuba,” Conan snaps.
“Uh huh,” KID says, unconvinced.
“I don’t!” Conan shouts. His phone buzzes. He takes it from his pocket and immediately turns it off when he sees the caller ID.
“It’s Tantei-san, isn’t it?” KID says smugly.
Conan scoffs. He looks away.
“No,” he lies. He stabs his chopsticks into his sushi in a vicious movement that earns him a flinch from KID. “I don’t want to have dinner with you anymore.”
“Too late for that!” KID chirps.
He is beyond annoying. And Conan has something to do tonight. Since his phone is still out, Conan opens it up again, declining Hakuba’s call.
“Aww,” KID teases. “Texting. How romantic.”
“You do realise that Hakuba’s like over twice my age, right?” Conan grouches, kicking KID under the table. His fingers tap out a message to Nakamori-keibu. He knows the man isn’t good with texting, but his daughter apparently is, and that’s good enough. “That’s creepy.”
“I’m not encouraging it,” KID says. “I know Tantei-san’s not got a crush on you. Because you are an actual literal child and he’s not a creep. Doesn’t mean I’m not gonna make fun of you for your crush though.” He tacks on, “You know, I think it’s really cute that a murderous psychopath like you can actually get a crush. You’re adorable when you’re not causing harm to my body.”
“I’m not adorable,” Conan growls. “And I don’t have a crush on Hakuba.”
KID laughs at him and then peels the plastic from his pre-packaged sushi. He stills for a moment, growing unnaturally still.
“I didn’t think this through…” KID says.
“Do you…not like sushi?” Conan asks, peering over the edge of his phone.
“Hate it,” he says, but there’s something more to it. His eyes are shining with fear.
“Why did you buy it then?”
“Well, it’s not the sushi I hate. It’s the…the f- the f-word.”
“Fuck?” Conan suggests.
“Fish,” KID says, revulsion clear in his voice. He gets up and carries his box of sushi to the metal bin at the edge of the park before throwing it in. Then he strips his gloves from his hands and disposes of them, too.
It’s probably taking it a step too far when he lights a match.
“Come on, Tantei-kun, bring that sushi over here,” KID coos.
“Fuck you,” Conan says, and shoves his sushi into his mouth with the chopstick still impaled in it.
About ten minutes later, police sirens sound in the distance.
KID looks up from his marshmallows that he’s roasting over the flaming bin with confusion. Conan smirks. KID’s face falls into offended shock.
“Oh, you little-” he stops himself short of saying ‘shit’ and mutters, “-no, must keep things PG rated. Can’t have them rating my heists eighteen plus. I’m not eighteen yet.”
He shoves his roasted marshmallow into his mouth absently as he watches the police cars rock up. One squeals to a halt in front of the park so aggressively that Conan knows Nakamori-keibu’s got to be in it.
“Have fun getting arrested,” Conan says sweetly.
“Have fun doing your borderline illegal detective work,” KID answers back, equally as sweet.
“KID!” Nakamori roars, clambering out of the police car.
“I haven’t even committed any crimes today!” KID yells. “I bought these marshmallows fair and square! You know, sometimes I think you don’t respect me!”
Conan sneaks past KID and tries to climb over the low fence bordering the park, but he’s too short.
“Do you need help, Bouya?” a police officer asks.
“Uhh, yeah,” Conan says. He allows the man to help him over the fence. He gives him an awkward wave and then nods subtle goodbyes to the other officers watching him as he leaves the area.
“Bye, Conan-kun!” one calls after him.
“Yeah, bye,” Conan says. He gives them a quick smile.
you can come talk to me on tumblr over here: https://achairwithapandaonit.tumblr.com/
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Okay, so, just want to warn you guys that something pretty violent happens in this chapter. Like, I feel like maybe you would realise that this kind of thing would happen because of the opening chapter and also I rated the fic M just in case, but I guess here's a little warning. Because the fic has been pretty light-hearted until now.
On a side note, every time I post a new chapter I'm like oh wow, 7000 words, that's a lot of words. @me, most of the chapters are 7000 words you dummy, stop being surprised.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Saguru smooths his new rug out on the floor, covering up the charred wood. He frowns slightly, fingers atop the fluffy surface.
There are floorboards everywhere. Most houses have them.
He wonders what secrets are embedded underneath this house. He wonders if perhaps he should stop wondering.
Watson approaches the new rug with cautious curiosity, talons making loud clicking sounds against the floor. He gives a small screech, head cocked to the side, as he watches Saguru.
“It’s perfectly safe,” Saguru assures him, though he knows that Watson can’t understand him. He pats at the rug. “See? Safe.”
Watson tentatively drops a clawed foot onto the rug. Apparently, he likes it. He screeches – Saguru recognises it as his happy screech – and starts hopping about it, feathers ruffling.
“Silly bird,” Saguru says with a shake of his head. He stands up and checks his pocket watch (11:03:15:26) before pulling his phone out. Edogawa declines his call, which probably means that he’s still out investigating.
Japan’s eight hours ahead, so that means it’s 7PM at the moment. Saguru hopes that Edogawa has the sensibilities to recognise the danger of being out late at night and chooses to go home soon, instead of lingering around Minato until 2AM.
Well, there’s nothing he can really do about it. Either Edogawa calls him back and allows himself to be chaperoned by an adult, or Edogawa continues on recklessly.
To be safe, Saguru scrolls through his list of contacts, coming to a stop at Mouri Ran. He’s never called her before, but they’d exchanged contacts after the whole fiasco at the Sunset Mansion. Edogawa will likely be annoyed at him for this, but it’s for the best.
Saguru presses call and raises the phone to his ear. Watson has stopped shrieking by now, apparently having conquered the new enemy within the house. He looks very proud of himself, blue fluff littered about his plumage.
“Hakuba-kun?” Ran says.
“Good day, Ran-san,” Saguru says pleasantly. “Or goodnight, perhaps? I understand that it is currently nineteen hundred hours in Japan.”
“Oh.” Ran sounds very confused. “Yes, it’s seven over here. Um…I don’t want to be rude, but..”
“You are wondering why I am calling you?”
“Ah, well. Yes. I don’t want to be rude, though, um. I’m sorry.”
“No, it’s quite alright. It’s understandable – we have never talked on the phone before. I am calling to ask whether or not Edogawa has safely returned home.”
A pause on the other end. And then, “Ah.” Flat and knowing. She’s wondering what exactly her little charge has been up to.
“Yes, ‘ah’,” Saguru says. “I quite agree. I was on the phone with him approximately an hour and a half ago. At the time, he informed me that he was heading to Minato to investigate something. As he did not accept my call just now, I gathered that he had not returned and thought it best to inform you, as you are his guardian.”
Ran sighs. “Thank you, Hakuba-kun,” she says. “Conan-kun has a habit of getting into trouble. Do you know where he is, exactly?”
“No, not exactly,” Saguru says without thought. It makes him feel a bit ill, lying like that. He’s not quite sure why he lied. He hates lying more than anything. Possibly a side effect of his newfound friendship with Edogawa – he doesn’t wish to get him into even more trouble.
Ran sighs again.
“Thank you for telling me at least, Hakuba-kun,” she says with exasperation. “I guess the only thing for it is to wait. He’ll be back eventually. He’s done this kind of thing before.”
They say their goodbyes and then hang up. Saguru places his phone on his desk and then reaches for his pocket watch once again. 11:09:37:14. He closes the case, traces lightly over the engraving on it, and then shoves it into his pocket.
He wonders what to do for the next fifty minutes. His eyes catch on Koizumi’s book.
It’s interesting, but hardly real. He understands that its easier for Koizumi to believe these things, with the powers that she has. He imagines that if he had strange, unknown powers he would also crave the existence of others like him.
But he does, in a way. He craves conversation with people of equal intelligence and understanding – it’s why he and Edogawa have hit off so smoothly.
Other than reading, there are cases. The Edogawa case, in particular.
Saguru finds himself pulling his suitcase out from underneath his bed, unzipping it. Watson opens one eye lazily to watch him, but then resumes his napping on the rug.
At the bottom of the suitcase, hidden beneath a science textbook and three mystery novels, is the notebook he’s been using to document his findings on Edogawa. He hasn’t opened it since Saturday night.
The most recent page, dated ‘Saturday 25th April, 17:23:15:74’, reads, ‘Possible connection to Kudou Yusaku. In our conversation on the Night Baron series, Edogawa expressed frustration that seemed rather personal, as if he was fond of the author but annoyed by his doings. It is highly likely that Edogawa has a connection to the Kudou Family.’
Saguru gets up from his position over the suitcase and brings his notebook to his desk before picking up his phone.
He types in ‘Kudou Yusaku Edogawa Conan’ and finds himself hesitating.
Would it annoy Edogawa if Saguru were to poke his head into this? Edogawa hadn’t seemed to want Saguru’s interference on the night that they found the bodies, but he’d seemed amused by it the very next day.
Edogawa is a wildcard. Edogawa ping-pongs between moods. Really, Edogawa’s opinion on whether Saguru should be uncovering dangerous personal information about him depends on what day it is and how many people have talked down to him on said day. If he’s in a good mood, then he’s likely to be too lax with information. If he’s in a bad mood, he’s likely to clam up. So, as long as Saguru reveals what he finds while Edogawa is in a good mood, Edogawa will not get annoyed at him. But then, Edogawa had actually been in a bad mood the day he’d been amused at Saguru’s insistence about discovering his identity.
All this hypothesising on Edogawa’s reaction when Saguru reveals his findings is useless though. Edogawa’s personal feelings shouldn’t be getting in the way of Saguru’s investigation, he’s never cared about that sort of thing before.
He’s never cared about Kuroba’s feelings. But then, he wasn’t friends with Kuroba when they met, and Kuroba is a criminal. He can recognise his friendship with Edogawa easily. Edogawa is not a criminal. Well, he doesn’t follow the law properly, but he has good intentions.
Does Kuroba have good intentions?
He’s searching for a specific kind of gem, Saguru knows that. And he always returns his stolen goods. Sometimes, though Kuroba covers it up to the best of his abilities, there are snipers at heists. And if Kuroba is Kaitou KID, then it stands to reason that the previous Kaitou KID was his father, Kuroba Toichi, renowned magician. Kuroba could very well have good intentions.
If Saguru is going to disregard Kuroba’s good intentions, then he should disregard Edogawa’s good intentions also and treat him like a suspect.
But Kuroba informed him that they were friends.
If Saguru ignores both of their good intentions, then it’s a personal affront to their friendship. Saguru’s never been friends with anyone before and he finds that he’s hesitant to break any of the friendships he’s somehow found himself ensnared with.
So, he should regard both Edogawa and Kuroba’s good intentions and treat them like friends?
Why can’t he just investigate them thoroughly and still be friends? Is there something wrong with that? He just wants to know the truth; the reasoning. But then, human beings hate to be picked apart. Saguru himself has never been investigated like he investigates Kuroba. If he had something to hide, would it be violating?
His phone buzzes in his hand and Saguru almost jumps. It’s Edogawa.
Saguru accepts the call.
“You did what?!” Conan snaps, fingers curling around his phone in anger.
He’s lingering outside of Nakai Sora’s house, back to the gate. He’d decided that they were working together now, as Hakuba had seemed happy to help him earlier, but it seemed that Hakuba didn’t agree, if his actions were anything to go by.
Hakuba frowns. “I only told her that you are in Minato at the moment, Edogawa-kun. I never specified where you were headed in Minato. Ran-san seems quite ready to wait for your safe return home. I felt it important to inform her, as you are a child.”
“She’s going to be angry,” Conan informs him. He’s unable to keep himself from sounding accusing.
“She was already going to be angry,” Hakuba says, and his eyebrows arch up. “At least this way she will know where you are in case of emergency.”
“Like I can’t take care of myself,” Conan mutters darkly.
The picture of Hakuba on his phone looks at him imploringly. “Edogawa-kun, please understand. You may be quite capable, but you are still small, and someone your age shouldn’t be out at night.”
“Ah,” Conan says. Because it’s always this. “Well, it all comes down to my age in the end, doesn’t it? You recognise that I’m smarter than most people your age, and you still only see me as a child.”
“It is my responsibility to see you as a child.”
Conan understands that, he really does. But he isn’t a child and he doesn’t like being treated as one.
“Yeah, I guess,” Conan says noncommittally. He ends the conversation abruptly by spinning on his heel and unlatching the gate. As he does so, he feels eyes on him. It sends a shiver through his body and lights up his nerves.
The killer is still around here, then.
Is it possible that they weren’t watching the family earlier but were instead watching Conan? It’s more than possible.
He shouldn’t stick around for long.
“Are you alright, Edogawa-kun?” Hakuba asks, a concerned look on his face.
“Yeah – fine,” Conan says. He edges around the gate and lets it close behind him.
There’s a knock at his bedroom door and that’s all the warning Saguru has before it’s opened. He looks away from his phone – that’s showing the front of Edogawa’s jacket as he marches through Nakai Sora’s front garden – to see Mother. She’s standing prissy, back straighter than Saguru ever aspires to be.
“It’s twelve o three,” she says, a single eyebrow arched high. “You were expected downstairs three minutes ago. Your uncle Hector is asking after you.”
“Uncle Hector,” Saguru repeats, smiling perhaps too brightly. “Oh, what a marvellous fellow.”
Uncle Hector isn’t marvellous in the least. He’s made several racist remarks about Japan on several separate occasions and always makes sure to remind Saguru that he can change his name to a ‘proper English one’ now that he’s 17.
Mother’s eyebrow arches higher, somehow. Her face remains otherwise unchanged as she steps into the room, heels clacking against the floor. It makes Saguru – who took his shoes off at the doorstep, as if he was still in Japan – feel very out of place.
Mother looks down at Watson, sleeping on the new rug, and then to Saguru. “Spectacular, if I do say so myself,” she says. There’s nothing sarcastic about her tone but Saguru knows that she and Uncle Hector do not get along.
His mother walks the rest of the way across the room and plucks his phone from his hand before Saguru even registers that she’s reached for it.
“Mother,” Saguru snaps.
“Hush, Saguru,” Mother says. She bats his hands away when he attempts to take his phone back. Saguru assumes from the angle showing on his phone screen that Edogawa has his phone in his back pocket as he works the keyhole of the front door. When Mother continues to not give his phone back, Saguru crosses his arms and raises his eyebrows at the woman, displaying his disgruntlement plainly. “I said hush, Saguru.”
Saguru’s lips thin. “I was not talking.”
“You know there is more to your behaviour than words,” Mother says. Saguru very nearly rolls his eyes.
He hears a click, and then the camera shifts as Edogawa take his phone from his pocket.
“Oh,” Edogawa says, blinking. “Two.” And then he seems to realise that Saguru’s mother is, in fact, an adult and plasters a sunny grin on his face. “It’s so nice to meet you! You must be Hakuba-niichan’s mum!”
Mother looks from the phone to Saguru.
“This child is very bad at lying,” she informs him, and then goes on to say. “Why is it that you are talking to him up here when you should be downstairs?”
Saguru doesn’t want to go downstairs; he doesn’t want to converse with the extended family over finger sandwiches and scones. The fairy cakes are only really there because of his younger cousins, and even they manage to be pretentious. The banana ice cream in his freezer back home sounds very appealing. He hopes Kuroba hasn’t filched it yet.
Saguru realises that he’s probably been quiet for too long (thinking about Kuroba, no less). His hand itches for his pocket watch but he stills it.
“Edogawa-kun is wandering around without a guardian,” Saguru says. “Someone needs to keep an eye on him.”
“And can Edogawa-kun not, simply, go home?” Mother asks, addressing the phone.
Edogawa looks perturbed at being addressed by her. “I’m busy,” he says shiftily. Edogawa doesn’t like Mother’s focus on him – it feels dangerous, no doubt, because he is very rarely called out in his lying. Or maybe it’s just that he doesn’t like Saguru’s mother. To be fair to him, Saguru doesn’t often like his mother.
Saguru is surprised when Mother says, “Very well,” as if Edogawa has satisfactorily answered the question. She hands the phone back to Saguru, who takes it cautiously, brow furrowing.
She’s definitely scheming something.
“You can speak to Edogawa-kun downstairs,” Mother says sharply. “But do make sure to speak in Japanese – I admit that I rather enjoy seeing Hector twitch.”
And there it is. Forcing Saguru downstairs to talk to their racist relatives when he has a very valid excuse not to come down, just so she can watch them be uncomfortable in his presence. This is why Saguru should have stayed in Japan.
At least his father isn’t around enough to force him into uncomfortable situations.
“Mother,” Saguru argues.
Mother raises her eyebrow and then turns. The click-clack of her heeled shoes punctuates her exit.
“So,” Edogawa says awkwardly. “Your mum seems pretty...”
“It’s alright, you can say anything about her. I wouldn’t take it personally.”
“Wouldn’t you?” Edogawa asks. His words lilt up, as if he doesn’t believe him. Saguru blinks. He looks down at the phone to Edogawa’s nonplussed face.
“No, Edogawa-kun, I wouldn’t,” Saguru says. His brow creases. He sighs and turns to his bed – where he’d thrown his earphones earlier – resignedly.
“I mean,” Edogawa says. Saguru’s face scrunches in annoyance. He doesn’t want to have this conversation, especially not with a seven-year-old, no matter how intelligent he is. “Look, I don’t really…talk about this but- well- you look like you need a talk.” It’s clunky and questioning, the way he says it. “And just, uhh…well, my parents are shit. Like, they’re nice and all – and your mum seems the complete opposite – but they’re really shit parents. So, like, if you need to talk…” Edogawa trails off, possibly losing confidence in his little speech.
Saguru hadn’t expected that. He’d known subconsciously that Edogawa probably didn’t have a good home life – it’s obvious from the fact that he lives with the Mouris – but he hadn’t ever expected it to be addressed. A part of him jumps at the opportunity to gain new information about Edogawa. He wants to bombard him with question, to work out the names of his parents. He wants to look them up and tear into the evidence and come to a final conclusion of Edogawa’s true identity.
But that would be wrong.
Friendship really does complicate investigations.
“Do you not want people to recognise that?” Saguru asks as he picks up his earphones, deciding that a little bit of conversation can’t hurt. “To agree with you. You sound as if you take offence when people say bad things about your parents. I know my mother’s horrible and I’m not afraid of people saying that.” He shoves the end into the phone jack and then places one of the buds into his ear, where it sits uncomfortably.
“No,” Edogawa says. “I don’t like it when people say that. I love them. And they may be awful at parenting but they’re really good people – not that I’m saying your parents aren’t good people. I’m sure they are-”
“They’re not,” Saguru says.
“Oh,” says Edogawa, and he sounds so worried that Saguru can’t take it.
“I suppose Father is good,” he says, just to placate Edogawa’s worries. “He may be useless, but he means well.”
“Useless, huh?” Edogawa says dryly.
“Yes,” says Saguru. “Useless.”
Edogawa laughs. “You’re really haughty, you know,” he says.
“Haughty?” Saguru repeats, blinking. “I don’t think I am,” and then he adds, “It’s not bad, is it?”
“No,” Edogawa chuckles. “I think it’s endearing.”
Getting called endearing by a seven-year-old. How amusing.
“I think your haughty attitude is endearing also,” Saguru says.
Edogawa huffs at that and says, “Shouldn’t you be getting downstairs?”
Saguru considers it.
“No, I don’t think so,” he decides. He grabs his keys off of his desk and strides across the room to shut his bedroom door. Kuroba wouldn’t have an issue getting past the lock but his mother is too refined – too proper – to even attempt lock-picking.
Creeping through the house, Conan still feels as if he’s being watched. He shines his wristwatch over the photos lining the hall, his other hand clutching his phone close to his chest. The photos look eerier in the dark.
He registers the sound of Hakuba’s footsteps over his earphones and it only serves to raise his heartbeat, though he knows the source.
“You know, I ran into Kaitou KID earlier,” Conan says, to disrupt the cloying silence.
“Oh?” Hakuba inquires.
“He threw two pens at me and we had dinner together. He’s scared of fish, apparently.” It brings KID’s insistence that Conan has a crush on Hakuba to mind. He almost scoffs.
Maybe he’s a bit taken with the other detective, but Hakuba’s the only person he’s become friends with lately who doesn’t have an ulterior motive. Even without knowing that Conan isn’t a child, he still seems to value his opinion.
(Maybe figuring out his identity is an ulterior motive, but it feels as if Hakuba’s almost forgotten about it)
“Fish?” Hakuba says. “I have noticed before that he tends to avoid the sea.”
Conan pauses at the entrance to the living room. He peeks round the corner, surveying the room. It’s empty. He heads for the coffee table and bends down to survey it.
He doesn’t see any marks.
Glancing down at his phone, he sees that Hakuba has settled into a chair with the book he’d been reading earlier. Conan realises that, now that he can actually see it on the phone’s screen, it’s an old book.
“Anything interesting in there?” he asks, though he doesn’t believe in folklore at all.
“Mostly, it’s about various monsters that mothers made up to scare their children into compliance,” Hakuba says.
“Huh,” Conan remarks. He tilts his head underneath the coffee table. “I thought you believed in magic.”
“Only because I’ve seen it with my own two eyes,” Hakuba says. “I think even you could be convinced.”
Conan snorts. Really, Hakuba’s too much sometimes.
“I’m serious,” says Hakuba, seriously. “It may be a ridiculous concept to consider, but I really have seen Koizumi-san set fire to Kuroba’s desk with her mind on multiple occasions. The first ten times, I tried to find an answer. After that, I just ended up accepting her magic as fact.”
Hakuba’s not stupid, but…
“Don’t worry, Edogawa-kun, I won’t attempt to convert you,” Hakuba says.
“How merciful of you,” Conan says.
“You’re much too haughty to convert, after all,” Hakuba says teasingly.
Conan rolls his eyes. “Funny to hear that from you,” he says.
Conan bangs his head against the top of the coffee table as he edges out from underneath it, caught off guard by an actual proper laugh from Hakuba. Not a light chuckle, but a laugh.
Conan smiles. “We should hang out when you get back,” he says.
Looking at his phone, he sees that Hakuba smiles back.
“What would you like to do, Edogawa-kun?” he asks.
“Hmm,” Conan ponders. “I don’t know. We could have a Holmes marathon at the Hakase’s, or maybe with Subaru-san. Subaru-san likes Holmes.”
“Yeah! He’s living in my h-” Conan stops short.
“Edogawa-kun?” Hakuba questions, and he actually sounds like he’d be willing to ignore his slip up.
Conan…kind of wants to tell him. But they’ve only been having these phone conversations for a week now and saying something like that over the phone is a bad idea. While he knows that his phone isn’t bugged, he has no idea if Hakuba’s is or not.
Conan clears his throat awkwardly. “He’s been living at Shinichi-niichan’s house,” he says, without the chirpy voice that he always uses for this particular phrase.
Hakuba lights up. “As in Kudou Shinichi?” he asks.
Conan blinks. “Uhh, yeah?”
“I’ve always wanted to meet him,” Hakuba says. Conan’s heart speeds up a little, for some reason. “Is he living with Subaru-san right at this moment?”
Conan breathes out slowly. He glances away, registering that there are no marks on the couch from his viewpoint. “You know the ship of Theseus?” he says. He’s noticed in their phone calls that Hakuba likes philosophy.
“I’m not sure why you feel the need to change the subject so suddenly,” Hakuba says suspiciously, probably already making plans to hunt down Kudou Shinichi and question him. “But the ship of Theseus was supposedly kept in a harbour as a museum piece, and the wood was replaced as it began to rot. After a century, every plank was replaced. The story questions whether or not it is the same ship, after every single piece of the original has been replaced.”
Conan probably realises a bit too late how that reminds him of himself.
“Hey,” says Edogawa, quieter than Saguru’s ever heard him. “If a person looked different, they’d still be the same person, right?”
Saguru frowns. “Yes,” he says. “Of course.”
Edogawa hums. He gets up, the phone’s view changing as he does so.
“What if…” Edogawa pauses for a long while. “Can I ask you something, Hakuba? Something personal?”
“I…” Saguru isn’t really sure what’s gotten into Edogawa. “What kind of personal?”
“Say that someone…changed. In appearance and…they were still the same person, but no one knew they were that person, because they looked completely different. And say that they stayed changed for a long time – months – and they didn’t know if they could ever change ba-”
“This change is not consensual, I assume?” Saguru interrupts.
“It was forced on the person,” Edogawa says.
“Wh-” Edogawa scoffs. “No – scientifically.”
Saguru considers it, frowning. “What? Did they have a run in with a chemical? Or is it a medical thing?”
Edogawa makes an impatient sound. “Okay, yeah, let’s go with magically, you dumbass.”
“Please mind your language,” Saguru says, though he’s pretty much gotten used to Edogawa by now. “How did the person change? What kind of change are we talking about?”
“You ask too many questions.”
Saguru scowls. “No, you’ve given me an incomplete hypothetical situation,” he says. “If I’m to answer a philosophical question then I need all of the details. I can’t solve a case with only the basics.”
“Forget it,” Edogawa says.
But Saguru has his answer anyway.
“I think that they’re still the same person,” he says. “If the change is only superficial then that doesn’t affect who the person is.”
Edogawa sighs. “Okay,” he says. “What if the person was changed because of the change? Like, the change affected their daily life a lot, and they grew and changed as a person without the people in their life knowing about it. They keep in contact with their best friend, but she doesn’t know what’s happening or that he’s changing.”
“They’re still the same person,” Saguru says.
“I don’t feel like the same person though,” Edogawa says frustratedly. The awkward pause afterwards shows that he hadn’t meant to say that.
So, the hypothetical situation is about Edogawa? It opens a lot of questions.
“I know you’re not in witness protection,” Saguru says. “The paperwork was too sloppily faked to be witness protection. But whatever is going on with you that you need a fake identity, it doesn’t make you a different person – just a more experienced person.”
“Oh, let me guess?” Edogawa says, sounding almost bored. “You hacked my personal information. Well done. So original.”
Oh right. Yes. He had in fact hacked Edogawa’s personal information. He’d almost forgotten about that.
“In my defence,” Saguru says. “You don’t make any sense. Not that it helped – I feel like you make less and less sense every day.”
It’s at that moment that a knock sounds at his door. “Saguru. Open this door right now,” his mother calls. Her voice is pinched, just as her expression is sure to be.
Saguru and Edogawa make eye contact over the phone.
“Watson’s there, right?” Edogawa asks.
Saguru frowns. “Yes.”
“Why don’t you just…set Watson on her?”
Of all the hairbrained schemes that Saguru has heard, this one takes the cake.
“Edogawa-kun, you are a bad influence. I refuse to do something so insane. I could get in a lot of trouble – not all of us are two feet tall.”
“It’s three, actually,” Edogawa admits, sounding somewhat defeated. “We measured ourselves in class the other day as a ‘fun’ activity on converting measurements.”
Saguru laughs. Mother bangs on the door again. “That sounds horrible, Edogawa-kun,” Saguru says. He thinks it over for a second before saying, “If you ever want to join a class more at your level, I do not expect that Konno-sensei would have any objections to your presence, seeing as we have Kuroba in our class. I feel you would be the lesser of two evils.”
“Kuroba,” Edogawa repeats. “He’s the one that fell off of the ceiling, right? You shouted at him.”
Before Saguru can answer that, his mother calls through the door again, “Saguru, this is childish. Open the door.”
Edogawa giggles. That’s probably why no one seems to question his status as an ordinary seven-year-old – he has a really adorable giggle. “I can hear her from here,” he says, grinning (because Edogawa enjoys chaos). “She sounds mad.”
“Maybe I should answer the door,” Saguru says, thinking out loud. He doesn’t want to answer the door, though.
“Hey,” Edogawa says. “You don’t have to listen to her. You’re Hakuba Saguru, you’re pretty much known for being difficult.”
“Am I, now?” says Saguru, feeling greatly amused.
Edogawa doesn’t answer. He chuckles lightly and then moves to another room.
The doorknob rotates. Saguru wonders if his mother will be giving up anytime soon.
He’s still watching as Edogawa crouches down to look at something. And then Edogawa seems to light up. He holds the phone up so that he can properly look at Saguru and says, “Found it!”
“Oh, that’s great, Edogawa-kun,” Saguru congratulates. “Time to go home now, perhaps?”
But he catches sight of something in the darkness surrounding Edogawa. A shadowy figure. Saguru feels his throat close up.
“Edogawa-kun…” he just about whispers, body stock-still, eyes focused entirely on the figure. The blood drains from his face.
“What?” Edogawa says, sounding bored.
“There’s someone behind you,” Saguru manages, a bit louder this time. His heart beats erratically.
Edogawa jumps. The phone clatters to the floor.
“Fuck!” he hears.
“Edogawa-kun?” Saguru shouts, panicking.
He needs to do something.
“Mother!” Saguru yells, book falling off of him as he gets up. “Do you have your phone?” he’s already at the door by the end of his sentence, keys clutched in one hand. Saguru inserts the key and unlocks the door.
“Your phone,” Saguru demands.
He hears the sound of footsteps over the other end, then a whooshing noise, which Saguru thinks might be one of Edogawa’s footballs. Saguru doesn’t hear a pained sound, though, and realises that the person dodged.
“I’m not going to fall for that one again, Bouya,” they say. Their voice is harsh and deep. Male.
So, they were right – the killer is a man.
“I’d hoped you would,” Edogawa growls.
Saguru’s mother passes her phone over and Saguru snatches it out of her hand.
“Is something happening?” Mother asks, face wrinkling at Saguru’s rudeness.
“Oh, why haven’t you unlocked it!” Saguru shouts, fingers fumbling with the power button. He shoves it back into his mother’s hands and takes off running down the hallway, in the direction of the landline.
“I’ve been watching you,” says the killer.
“I figured,” Edogawa says.
“Oh, bugger all!” Saguru swears, because of course Edogawa was being followed and of course he went into the house alone despite knowing it.
He skids around the corner, rips the earphones from his phone’s jack, and then practically throws his phone onto the side table in his haste to get to the landline.
Saguru punches in 111 on the keypad and then swears and deletes the numbers, because that number isn’t going to work overseas.
“That’s great to know.”
“Get out of there, Edogawa-kun!” Saguru shouts. He knows Edogawa can hear him through the phone.
“The others were amusing as well.”
Saguru dials Nakamori-keibu’s number. He’s sweating profusely, heart hammering in his chest. Why can’t Edogawa just run? Why can’t he use the high intellect that Saguru knows he has and get the hell out of there?
“And you killed them?” Edogawa comments. His voice is calm, though buried in malice. “Just because they amused you? That’s a shitty reason to take a human life.”
“There’s never a good reason.”
“If you know that then why do you do it?” Edogawa spits.
The call continues ringing and then disconnects. Saguru hurriedly inputs the Nakamori home phone number. This time it connects. Saguru raises the phone to his ear with shaking hands. He breathes deeply, trying to calm his nerves.
“Hello? This is the Nakamo-” Aoko’s voice.
“Where’s Nakamori-keibu?” Saguru asks immediately, forgoing politeness.
“Why should I care that it’s wrong? I like killing,” the killer says.
“Dad?” Aoko asks. “He’s chasing after KID. Are you okay, Hakuba-kun?”
“I am fine,” Saguru wheezes. He grabs his mobile phone off of the side table and sinks to the floor, landline held to his ear. He lists off the address, “Phone the police and tell them that Edogawa-kun is confronting a serial killer there, I cannot call them overseas.”
Aoko sucks in a harsh breath. “Aoko will call them on her mobile. Take deep breaths Hakuba-kun, count to ten and then start over again.”
“Why?” says Edogawa-kun, boldly.
“Why?” the killer laughs. “Why not?”
“In and out,” Aoko reminds him. “You have your pocket watch on you, right? Aoko’s noticed it calms Hakuba-kun down.”
“Yes, yes – I have it.” He takes it from his pocket and unlatches it shakily. “The time is 12:06:23:15.” Immediately, he feels more in control.
“No,” says Edogawa. “Why?” he puts a lot of emphasis on the word.
The killer gives pause for a long while. “Why?” he repeats. “You really want to know?”
“Yeah,” says Edogawa. “I mean, it’s pretty excessive to hide the bodies under floorboards if you’re just killing for the hell of it.”
If the killer wasn’t going to kill Edogawa, then Saguru would be the one doing it, because what sort of idiot would risk their life just to find out a motive? Saguru ignores the fact that he himself is exactly that kind of idiot.
“The police are on their way,” says Aoko.
“Thank you, Aoko-san,” Saguru says.
“I like them beneath me,” says the killer. “It’s a nice reward after scaring them half to death. But you’re not very scared, are you, bouya?”
“I have things I’m scared of,” says Edogawa. “But you’re nowhere near as terrifying as them.”
Saguru wonders what Edogawa is so scared of that facing off a serial murderer alone doesn’t scare him. He knows that Edogawa couldn’t have possibly led a good life to be the way that he is.
“Count the seconds,” Aoko reminds him, and Saguru remembers to breathe because of it. His pocket watch ticks on in his hand – one tick per second.
He just has to trust in Edogawa to get himself out of this situation.
It’s Edogawa, so he’ll interrogate the murderer, incapacitate him, and then wait for the police to come and collect. Edogawa matches up to KID, so Saguru just has to hope that he can match up to a serial killer too.
There’s nothing else he can do right now.
“I wonder what it is that scares someone like you.”
“You think I would tell you?”
And then the killer advances. Saguru tenses, hearing his shoes scuff against the flooring in Nakai Sora’s house. Wooden floorboards, his mind supplies.
A football whizzes past the camera – the first thing he’s seen since Edogawa dropped his phone – and the murderer gives a grunt of pain. Edogawa’s not weak.
Suddenly, he’s not panicking anymore, because Edogawa is not weak.
“Breathe in and out,” Aoko says.
“It’s fine, Aoko-san,” Saguru says.
The murderer’s shadow passes over the camera and then flinches back, avoiding another football. And just where is Edogawa getting those? Does he keep a supply in his backpack? No – they’re too big, he would never be able to fit so many in there.
He remembers too late that the people the murderer got to weren’t weak either.
Edogawa goes down with a thump, and he actually lands within the view of his phone. Saguru’s heart just about leaves his chest.
“Edogawa-kun!” he shouts.
“What’s happening?” Aoko asks, voice edging into worry.
Edogawa grits his teeth and then his arm shifts, out of view of the camera. He turns over and Saguru’s pretty sure he kicks the murderer.
“Shit!” the man shouts, as if Edogawa’s kick had broken bone. Remembering all of Kuroba’s bruises, Saguru has a suspicion that it may have.
But Edogawa doesn’t have the upper hand for long. He’s only small – a child – and the murderer is a fully grown adult, with probably ten times the strength of Edogawa.
A hand closes around Edogawa’s throat. Saguru’s forgotten how to breath. He thinks Aoko may be talking to him, but he can’t hear her over Edogawa’s choking.
His tiny fingers scramble at the hand but they’re no match for an adult’s strength.
Why did he let this happen? Why did he― Saguru’s chest aches for air, but he just can’t force it in.
Then, Edogawa’s fingers curl around the murderer’s thumb and bend it right backwards and, holy fuck, Edogawa just broke the murderer’s thumb. The man shouts, but Edogawa has control of his entire hand now and he forces it away. He kicks out at the man, scrambles out from underneath him, coughing.
“You’re a challenge!” the murderer laughs, almost hysterically.
“Yeah, I’m a fucking challenge,” Edogawa spits.
But he’s only up for a moment. The murderer kicks at Edogawa. Edogawa dodges the first one, but he isn’t quick enough to dodge the second, which hits him right at the side of his head. Saguru goes completely still as Edogawa’s body hits the floor once again. He gets up – because Edogawa would never ever give up – and is kicked down once again.
Saguru can’t watch this. He feels sick.
This is a child.
The murderer is on Edogawa again, hands going for his throat again. He’s learnt from his mistake and forces Edogawa’s hands behind his back, trapped awkwardly between himself and the floorboards.
Edogawa’s body goes slack, eyes slipping closed.
When he’s completely still – looking completely dead – the murderer’s hands loosen. He stands and leaves the camera’s view.
Saguru can only sit there, watching the unmoving picture on his phone.
“Hakuba-kun?” Saguru hears through the ringing in his ears. “What’s happening? Are you okay? Is that boy okay? Hakuba-kun? Can you hear me?”
Saguru throws up.
He becomes aware – probably quite a while later – that his face is wet with tears as he leans heavily against the side table, feet edging away from the foul-smelling puddle of sick. He has a vague embarrassing thought of ‘oh God, I threw up,’ because he can’t believe he lost his control just like that. He hopes none of his relatives come across him.
And then he curses himself for his selfishness, because Edogawa is unconscious and―
And his body is not there in the phone’s view. Saguru’s heart skips a beat.
“Present,” he mutters, feeling horrified.
“You’re easy to scare,” says the murderer’s voice. Saguru thinks he might be talking to Edogawa’s unconscious body but- “You’re that British detective, right?”
The murderer’s talking to him – not Edogawa. Saguru’s chest feels tight.
“What have you done with Edogawa-kun?” he demands. He drops the landline and grabs at his phone with tight fingers. The murderer is standing out of view. The only thing he can see is his shadow.
“A classic,” says the murderer.
Underneath the floorboards, then? But surely Saguru hadn’t been so unaware of time that he’d managed that. Saguru glances down at his pocket watch and – 12:17:21:37 – more time had gone by than he’d realised. He must have zoned out completely. He hasn’t been so unaware of the time for a long while.
“Do you want to show me?” Saguru asks carefully. If he can just stall for time, then the police can―
The murderer barks out a laugh. “Do you think I’m stupid?” he says. “I know the police are on their way.”
There goes that idea. Saguru can practically hear his heart thumping away in his chest.
Edogawa must be alive, he tells himself. Saguru knows he’s alive because the murderer took his time before murdering his victims, making sure to get them scared beyond belief. Edogawa was not scared in the least.
Saguru’s sure that this will at least affect Edogawa somewhat, but Edogawa is strong enough that it won’t affect him as much as the killer wants. Saguru has complete faith in Edogawa.
He remembers what the boy had said earlier, about how much he hated being babied, and he decides that this won’t change anything between them. Because Edogawa isn’t made of glass. He’s stronger than anyone.
“The lamp,” Saguru tries. “Why did you put it in the bin? What compelled you to do that?”
“I just felt like it,” says the murderer.
Of all the lame excuses- “You just felt like it?” Saguru says, voice strangled. “You just felt like it?”
“What can I say,” says the murderer. “I like to clean up after myself.”
Saguru swears. And then he swears again.
“Did that feel good?” asks the murderer, amusement colouring his tone.
“It felt very good,” Saguru snarls. “You bastard, you prick! You- Oh! Well, fuck you!”
The killer’s hand takes up the entire phone camera and then the call cuts off.
Conan wakes up to a hand on his shoulder and someone saying, “Bouya?”
He tries to talk but his throat burns, and he ends up coughing instead. This just serves to make his throat burn more.
“The kid’s alive!” he hears.
What kid? Kaitou KID?
Conan struggles to open his eyes. They feel heavy.
“Hey, don’t worry, bouya. You’re safe now,” the person says reassuringly.
He’s not worried- he’s just. Conan feels faint. Limp, maybe. There was something he was doing before.
“-has a concussion probably, there’s a bruise at his temple.”
Ah. Well, that’d explain the woozy feeling.
Conan finally manages to get his eyes open. He grabs at the man’s – an officer’s – arm.
“Bouya?” says the officer, blinking at him.
Conan opens his mouth and says, voice strained and croaky, “Have you seen KID?”
“Kid?” says the officer. “You mean, a kid?”
Conan must blank out for a while, because the next thing he knows he’s lying on his futon, being shaken awake by Ran.
“The doctor said to wake you up every four hours,” she says. She looks both worried and disapproving. Conan wonders if he’s forgotten to call her as Shinichi in a while.
“Doctor?” Conan asks. His throat burns.
“Yeah,” Ran says. “You have a concussion. Don’t talk too much, okay?”
A concussion? That’d explain the woozy feeling.
She shakes him awake again four hours later.
Conan remembers that the officer had mentioned KID. “Where’s KID?” he asks, and then ends up coughing, which just makes his throat burn.
“I said not to talk too much.” Did she? Oh, right, Conan can remember that vaguely. “Nakamori-keibu mentioned that you’d been around KID last night, but I think he took off.”
He’s always getting away.
“Drink your water,” Ran reminds him. Conan blinks, head spinning a little, and takes a sip from the glass.
“Is Hakuba okay?” Conan asks around the soreness of his throat. He must have been attacked. He can’t remember who by, but he remembers Hakuba’s voice.
“Hakuba-kun?” Ran asks.
Conan nods. It makes his head pound.
“He knows about Theseus’ ship,” he says, remembering how Hakuba had talked so happily about the ship of Theseus. He puts the glass of water down on the floor – Ran catches it before it can tip over – and coughs into his hand.
“I don’t know who Theseus is,” Ran says. “But I do know that you shouldn’t be straining your throat so much.”
“You should ask Hakuba,” Conan croaks out, still coughing lightly. “Hakuba knows all about it.”
“I’ll do that,” Ran says absently. She pushes him down against the futon by his shoulders, gentle as she always is. “Make sure to get some sleep, okay, Conan-kun.”
The next time he wakes up, the room is lighter, with the curtains pulled closed. Mouri is there.
“Where’s Ran?” Conan asks, and coughs.
“She’s asleep,” Mouri grumbles. He helps Conan sit up and gives him a glass of water. It’s the same one as earlier, but it’s been refilled. “You gave us all a scare, brat.”
“Didn’t mean to,” Conan mumbles. He’s still not sure what he did.
After Conan’s drank from the glass, he takes it back and puts it on the floor as if Conan couldn’t have done it himself. Conan glares.
“Hey, Conan,” Mouri says, sounding serious for once. Conan blinks, caught off-guard. He looks up at Mouri. He looks concerned. “Don’t do that again, okay?”
Conan nods. His head aches.
They sit there for a while. Conan hasn’t quite gone to sleep yet when Mouri says, “You know, you really scared that British brat.”
“Hakuba?” Hakuba doesn’t get scared. He’s so confident – arrogant, even – and he’s always so well put together.
“Yeah,” Mouri huffs. “He called us earlier, talking like the Goddamn queen of England to apologise for letting you get hurt – ‘I must apologise for this discrepancy’, ‘I allowed and encouraged this situation and must be held accountable’. Fucking brat has some issues.”
“His mum’s an asshole,” Conan says, feeling a bit woozy again.
Mouri opens his mouth, closes it again. He looks at Conan strangely and then sighs.
“All those teenage detectives are so unadjusted,” he grumbles. He glares at Conan before saying, “And the kid ones too.”
Conan tries to laugh but just ends up coughing.
you come talk to me on tumblr btw: https://achairwithapandaonit.tumblr.com/
Conan wishes he could be anywhere but here. It’s been three days since he confronted the murderer.
He’s done a lot since then, like reassure Hakuba over text that he’s fine, and give the police a report on his encounter with the murderer. Now that he’s mostly recovered from his concussion and is a lot more aware of things happening around him, Ran has decided it’s prime time for a lecture.
“What you did was really dangerous, Conan-kun,” she says. “You could have died. What were you thinking?”
Conan sinks back into the couch, avoiding her eyes. He purses his lips.
“I wasn’t.” he says, just to get her off of his back. His throat still hurts.
“Uh huh,” Ran says dryly, her disbelief dripping off of her tongue. “Sure. You weren’t thinking. This has nothing to do with not wanting to be told off as well.”
Okay, so maybe Ran is a bit too used to Conan.
Ran sighs and sits down next to him with a soft thump. She props her head up with her hands, elbows on her knees. Her eyes are shining.
Conan feels a lump in his throat.
“Ran,” he says, reaching out to lay a hand on her arm. “Neechan,” he adds. “I’m fine now.”
“You could have died,” Ran says. She bites at her lip. “You could have died, Conan-kun.” Her fists are clenching.
“I didn’t though,” Conan tells her reassuringly. “I’m here – I’m alive.”
“Yeah.” Ran says. She rubs at her face, Conan’s hand falling from her arm. “Yeah, I know. You’re alive.”
Conan smiles at her. “I’ll…leave the case alone, if you want.” He doesn’t want to, but if it’s for Ran then he would be more than happy to. Hakuba is capable enough to take over the case for him.
Ran looks relieved.
“Please do,” she says.
Conan nods. “Okay,” he says.
“Okay,” Ran repeats. She smiles and then gets up, saying that she’s going to get started on dinner.
Conan follows her into the kitchen. She looks through the cupboards and then decides to make miso soup.
“Maybe we should invite Hakuba-kun to have lunch with us tomorrow,” Ran says as she rummages through the fridge for the spring onion. “He seemed really worried. Oh! But isn’t he in England right now?”
“He’ll be back tomorrow,” Conan says. “But he’ll be jetlagged then. We can invite him to lunch on Sunday.”
“Perfect!” Ran cheers. She gets up and closes the fridge, spring onion in her hand. “I’ll give him a call.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll text him,” Conan says. He pulls his phone from his pocket and opens it up.
“Hmmm?” Ran says, a teasing lilt to her voice. When Conan looks up, she’s grinning. “What’s this? Someone has a crush?”
“What? No!” Conan flushes, scowling up at her. “I just like Hakuba-niichan, that’s all.”
Ran giggles. “I’m teasing, Conan-kun.”
Conan huffs. He turns his phone off and puts it in his pocket. He can invite Hakuba out at another point, when Ran isn’t looking over his shoulder.
Later that night, when Mouri has fallen asleep, Conan calls Hakuba.
Hakuba picks up at the first ring and says, “I’m not going to ask you to drop the case, Edogawa-kun, but please don’t investigate anything by yourself from now on.”
Conan blinks. Hakuba just keeps surprising him. He turns onto his back to stare up at the ceiling, phone pressed against his ear.
“I’m dropping it anyway,” he says. “Ran asked me to.”
“Oh,” Hakuba says after a pause. He sounds both disappointed and relieved. “You will be careful anyway, right? The killer is probably still after you.”
Conan hums. He closes his eyes. “I’ll try,” he says. “But you have to be careful too. Call me when you start investigating, okay? You’re in just as much danger.”
“I’m not the one the killer attacked,” Hakuba protests.
“You’re in England right now,” Conan says, grimacing. “He can’t exactly attack you. I don’t know what he thought of you because of the whole being unconscious thing, but he called me a challenge, so that probably means he’s going to take his time before killing me. He worked all of his victims up until they were terrified, and I’m not terrified. You were terrified, though, weren’t you, Hakuba?”
There’s a pause on the other end. “You don’t have to draw attention to it,” Hakuba says, sounding very offended.
Conan groans. Hakuba’s not very good at picking up social cues. “I didn’t mean anything bad by it,” he says. “Of course, you were terrified. You couldn’t do anything. No one’s blaming you for that.”
“Can we please not talk about it?” Hakuba says.
“I mean,” Conan hesitates. “I stand by what I said – there’s nothing bad about it – but if you don’t want to talk about it then we don’t have to.”
“Thank you,” Hakuba says.
“No problem,” Conan says.
“Is there any chance that we can still have that Holmes marathon?”
Conan grins. “Yeah, definitely. By the way, Ran was saying that you should have lunch with us.”
“Oh?” Hakuba says. “When are you thinking?”
“Sunday? If that’s alright with you?”
Hakuba is silent for a few seconds.
“I’m terribly sorry, Edogawa-kun,” he says. “But I already have plans for Sunday.”
Conan thinks. “What about dinner on Sunday? Instead of lunch.”
“Dinner? Well, as long as I’m not intruding, that should be alright.”
“I promise you won’t be intruding,” Conan says, smiling. “Ran loves having guests.”
“If it’s alright with Ran-san –” Conan hears a knock against the window. His eyes snap to it and the vague shadowy impression against the curtains – there’s someone on the balcony. “– then I suppose I can come over for dinner on Sunday. What time would you say?”
Who could it be? The killer?
“There’s someone on the balcony,” Conan hisses into his phone. The door unlocks and lets in a woosh of cold air.
“Someone on the balcony? Edogawa-kun, you need to get out of that room.”
“Yeah- I- fuck.” Mouri’s still in the room. He has to wake him up- has to get him out- has to-
“Isn’t that Kaitou KID?” Mouri points out from where he’s sat up in bed, watching the window. The shadow has a top hat.
“Oh,” Conan says. “Yeah. That’s- that’s Kaitou KID.”
“Thank God,” Hakuba says breathlessly.
“Hahaha! It is I – Kaitou KID.” KID laughs, sweeping the curtains aside to reveal his eye-catching outfit. Conan hates this guy so much.
“Go home,” He says, point blank.
“No,” KID whines. “I’m here to reprimand my Tantei-kun for being a horrible, evil demon child that can’t even protect his horrible, evil demon self.”
Conan bares his teeth at him. “Fuck off.”
KID makes a squeaky sound and steps back. “Please don’t kill me, Tantei-kun,” he begs. “I’ve been a good thief, I promise. Yeah, I may have stolen all of Tantei-san’s teaspoons, but it’s not like he’s even here to miss them. And he’ll get so angry, it’ll be so funny Tantei-kun, I promise.”
“He did what?” Hakuba says, sounding very pissed off. “Edogawa-kun, throw him out of the window.”
“Go have your stupid drama somewhere else where I’m not sleeping,” Mouri grumbles. He pulls a pillow over his head. Conan and KID make eye contact.
“I can make hot chocolate?” he says.
KID beams. “As long as you don’t poison me,” he says.
Conan rolls his eyes but gets up from his futon anyway. Halfway out of the room, KID snatches his phone from him and decides to chat with Hakuba. Conan rolls his eyes at that too.
He goes to the kitchen and- sometimes he really hates that they have a kotatsu, because he always has to clamber up onto the counter whenever he wants something. A chair would be really useful.
Conan opens one of the lower cupboards and balances his foot on the top shelf. He pushes up and struggles onto the counter before standing and opening the cupboard above his head. Just as he’s about to reach for the chocolate powder, a gloved hand snatches it up.
“Seriously,” Conan spits.
KID laughs. “Do you want me to grab the mugs as well, Chibi-tantei?” he asks.
Conan kicks him in the leg, but he’s not wearing his shoes so it’s really just pathetic. He face burns red-hot. He hates being small. “Yeah – sure,” he snaps and jumps down from the counter.
KID makes a concerned noise as he sets Conan’s phone down on the counter and reaches for the mugs. “Did I say something insulting?”
“No,” Conan says, sighing.
“Edogawa-kun hates feeling small,” Hakuba’s voice says from his phone. “I’d suggest that you refrain from referring to his height from now on.”
“I said no,” Conan says. He feels his embarrassment grow even further. “Shut up, Hakuba. I’m not an experiment or a case, and I don’t need to be studied.”
“That’s not what I meant, Edogawa-kun. I simply made an observation as your friend. You dislike being treated as a child, so I won’t treat you as a child.”
And Hakuba really hadn’t meant anything bad about it. If he hadn’t brought it up to KID, then Conan wouldn’t have minded. “Sorry,” he says.
“It’s alright,” Hakuba says.
“Don’t worry,” KID says. “If it really bothers you, I won’t make fun of you for it.” He sets two mugs down on the counter and then grabs the kettle, looking it over to make sure there’s enough water in it. He puts it back down and sets it to boil.
“Thank you, I guess,” Conan mumbles. His eyes flick to KID as he withdraws two teaspoons from his pocket. “Are those Hakuba’s teaspoons?”
“Finders keepers!” KID singsongs. He closes the overhead cupboard and then darts over to the fridge to pull the milk out. After he’s put that down near the mugs, he ducks down and rummages through a cupboard for marshmallows.
“You really know your way around this kitchen,” Conan observes.
KID hums but doesn’t say anything. He just leans against the counter and watches the water boil. Something about the thief always seems so…lonely. Conan really must be going mad to find himself sympathising with a thief.
He wonders if KID eats enough. He must be really busy.
Conan grabs his phone off of the counter and whispers into it, “Do you think KID eats?”
“I would assume he does?” Hakuba answers back, sounding very confused.
“No, but, like, eats enough?”
“He eats dinner with his childhood friend often, but I wouldn’t put it past him to forget meals.” How does Hakuba know that? Maybe KID mentioned it to him at a heist. Oh well. It’s not really any of Conan’s business.
Ran made anpan yesterday, so Conan puts his phone in his pocket and grabs the tin she’d put them in off of the counter. The water finishes boiling, and KID makes them both hot chocolate.
“You know that I said I would make it, right?” Conan points out as KID spoons chocolate powder into the mugs. It’s an empty question, because Conan can’t really be bothered to make the hot chocolate anyway.
“I don’t trust you,” KID says. He puts the chocolate powder away and pours the boiling water into the mugs before adding the milk.
“Gee, thanks,” Conan drones. “Ah, don’t put marshmallows in mine.” KID pulls his hand full of marshmallows back from Conan’s mug and drops them into his own.
KID puts all of his collected ingredients away and they move to the kotatsu room. Conan sets the tin of anpan on the kotatsu, and KID does the same with the mugs of hot chocolate. Conan pries the lid off of the tin and takes one out, which KID immediately steals from him.
“You’re a kleptomaniac,” Conan says as KID takes a bite out of it. Secretly though, he’s pleased. There’s nothing more alluring to KID than stolen food, it seems. KID eats the anpan and then takes another. Conan snickers.
He hears from his pocket, “You shouldn’t feed stray thieves – they’ll just come back for more.” Oh, right. Hakuba’s still on the line. Conan takes the phone out of his pocket and puts it on the kotatsu.
“Sorry, Hakuba,” he says. “Forgot you were there.”
“Don’t know how anyone could forget him,” KID mutters. He reaches for another anpan.
Conan slaps his hand away, glaring. “You can’t have another until you apologise to Hakuba,” he says. KID pulls an offended face.
“I didn’t mean anything by it! Have you even met Haku- Tantei-san, he’s the most hard to forget person ever! He really makes an impre-” he cuts himself off when Conan kicks him under the kotatsu. “Fine. Sorry, Tantei-san.”
“I accept your apology, Kuroba, but only because we’re friends and I understand that you’re emotionally crippled.”
“What’s a Kuroba?” KID says innocently, though Conan’s already made the connection and come to the conclusion that Hakuba suspects his classmate Kuroba of being KID. He’s probably right. “Anyway,” he dusts his hands off. “I need to tell Tantei-kun off. Shoo, Tantei-san.”
“Watson wants to go for a walk anyway,” Hakuba says and then hangs up.
“You shouldn’t be so rude to Hakuba,” Conan scowls.
KID rolls his eyes. “That’s just how Tantei-san and I communicate. He knows not to take my insults seriously. We’re friends.”
“Alele?” Conan chirps, grinning. “Does Kaitou KID have a crush?”
KID sighs heavily. “Okay, I walked right into that one,” he says. “Can I just say that you are a horrible demon.”
“You can say that,” Conan says. He reaches for his own anpan. “It doesn’t bother me.”
Saguru gets back to Japan on Saturday, though he sleeps through most of the day. He finds, when he wakes up around 3pm, that Kuroba had indeed stolen his teaspoons.
Saguru sighs heavily. It seems that he won’t be making any tea today.
“What do you think, Watson?” he says. “Should we go out and buy some new teaspoons?”
Watson tilts his head.
“You’re right,” Saguru agrees. “I should just go back to sleep instead.”
So Saguru sleeps for a few more hours, gets up, has dinner, and then goes back to sleep. He wakes up at exactly 06:00:00:01 on Sunday before heading downstairs to have breakfast with Baaya.
His plan for Sunday is to continue on with the investigation that Edogawa started while he was in England. Edogawa had worked outwards through Beika, looking into Goda Megumi, Nakai Sora, and Oye Airi.
This leaves Saguru Amari Kyo (the first victim), Rachel Brown and Tommy Wilson (the American couple on a holiday), and Saeki Naomi (the latest victim).
It makes the most sense to chase up on leads surrounding Saeki Naomi, as she only went missing three and a half weeks ago. If Saguru wants to find clues, then he’s certain that she’s the victim he should be investigating.
Saeki Naomi was sixteen and lived in Arakawa with her single mother, Saeki Junko. She died from dehydration while underneath the floorboards, which sounds, frankly, horrifying.
Saeki Junko had been followed home on multiple occasions and even received threatening mail. Things had also been rearranged around the house and there had been break-ins reported. On the morning of the 25th Saeki Junko found all of the plates smashed on the kitchen floor.
“You wouldn’t mind driving me around for an investigation, would you?” Saguru asks Baaya over breakfast. He reaches for his tea and, once again seeing the horrifying normal sized spoon in the teacup, retracts his hand.
“I’ll be finished cleaning the house around nine,” Baaya says. “If you don’t mind waiting that long.”
“It shouldn’t be a problem,” Saguru says. He’d informed Saeki Junko that he would be visiting around ten, so he will only be half an hour early if traffic is on their side.
After breakfast, he gets ready for the day. Watson is a lot calmer in Japan. It’s probably because there’s no one inside the house at the moment that he likes to terrorise.
He manages to distract himself until 9am with a surprise visit from Koizumi. Saguru thinks that it’s probably his own fault that she now thinks it’s appropriate to drop in on him through supernatural means – through one of the hallway mirrors, this time – and talk his ear off about her latest conversations with Satan.
“You should invite him around to your house for afternoon tea,” Saguru tells Koizumi. “That’s what my mother does when someone disappoints her.”
Koizumi laughs that strange laugh of hers. “He will be so nervous, cowering beneath my feet. All men shall bow down to me!”
“That’s rather ambitious, but I feel like if anyone could do it, it would be you,” Saguru says politely.
“I’m so glad you’re my servant, Hakuba-kun. Our conversations are so enlightening,” Koizumi says.
Saguru pulls a face. “I’m not so sure about servant, but we could be friends if you’d like. Friends actually like you, so they’re more satisfying than servants.”
Koizumi seems overjoyed at this new development in their relationship.
“We should have a sleepover,” she says. “I hear that’s what friends do.”
“Maybe,” Saguru says, though he isn’t really sure how much he like the idea of sleeping at another person’s house.
“I can introduce you to Satan,” Koizumi says.
“Sounds riveting,” Saguru says. He’s still under the opinion that Koizumi is the only magical being, because his state of mind is just better that way. Hopefully she doesn’t prove him wrong whenever this supposed sleepover happens.
Saguru pulls his pocket watch out and checks the time. “Apologies Koizumi-san, but I must get going. We could resume our conversation later, if you’d like.”
“Later sounds fine,” Koizumi says. “When will you be free?”
“I’m having dinner out,” Saguru says. “But I should get home around…actually, I have no idea when the Mouris want me over.” It had slipped past him with Kuroba’s surprise visit to Edogawa. “I’ll get back to you, Koizumi-san. Do you have a phone?”
Koizumi shakes her head. “I have no need for a phone. I will check in on you around 1pm.” Saguru is already anticipating the absolute bullshit that she’s sure to cook up. “I assume you will know by then?”
“I should do.” Saguru says. They say their goodbyes and Koizumi disappears from the mirror, leaving Saguru’s own face reflected back at him.
“Saguru-botchama?” Baaya says. Her voice is strange and careful.
Saguru looks over to see her at the other end of the hall. “Yes?” he says, raising his eyebrow.
Baaya walks down the hall slowly, stopping in front of Saguru. She used to be taller than Saguru, but now she’s tiny compared to him.
“Are you feeling alright?” she asks, concern pulling at her face. “You haven’t come down with a fever, have you?”
“Nothing of the sort,” Saguru says.
When she gestures for him to lean down, he does. Baaya brushes his hair aside and puts a hand on his forehead. Obviously not happy with the outcome, she steps back, still looking at him strangely. “It’s time to get going, I think,” Baaya says.
“Of course,” Saguru says. “I’ll open a window for Watson and meet you at the car.”
Halfway through the journey, his phone starts beeping. Saguru frowns. The house has state of the art security and it, of course, has an alert system hooked up to both his and his father’s phones in case of burglary. Someone is trying to get inside his house.
Saguru feels his eye twitch.
Kuroba is trying to get into his house.
He clicks the button to alert the police and puts his phone away. It’s what Kuroba deserves for being an asshole.
It takes half an hour to get to the house that Saeki Junko resides in. Baaya parks the car across from her apartment at 09:35:21:04 and Saguru thanks her before getting out. He sends Edogawa a text to say that he’s about to interview Saeki Junko and that he has company before entering the apartment complex.
Saeki Junko is thirty-five years old, divorced, a boom operator at Nichiru television. Saguru goes over his notes again, feeling a little bit aggravated that whoever put together these case notes had decided not to write down anything about the break-ins, other than the broken plates and items being moved around. There isn’t even any information on the person who had been following Saeki Junko home, and there’s no copy of the threatening mail.
It’s as if the police don’t want him on the case.
Which is rather disappointing, because they’ve also never put together case notes for him before. He’d been pleasantly surprised.
Saguru resolves to give Megure-keibu a call about this later on.
Finding the apartment, Saguru rings the doorbell and steps back. Six point two seconds later, the door is opened by Saeki Junko. She had obviously put an effort into appearing put together today, but she’d been too nervous, waiting at the door (because no one answers the door that quickly unless they’re waiting), and her previously neat bun looks dishevelled.
Before Saguru can even get a word in, Saeki Junko grasps his hands. Saguru makes sure not to flinch back from the sudden contact.
“Thank you so much for taking this case,” Saeki says, face straining with the grief that she must feel. “I’m not sure how much I trust the police to get that -” her lips twist as she discards a word that was probably going to be foul. “- horrible man behind bars. But you’re a famous detective, surely you can help.”
“I will try my utmost best, Saeki-san,” Saguru says, slowly working his hands out of her grip. “I am sorry for your loss.”
The usual words. Saguru’s never sure how to treat the grieving families left behind in cases.
KID is safe and easy. Well, not exactly easy, but Saguru doesn’t have to give sympathies and console distraught people at KID heists.
Saguru bets that Edogawa’s much better at this part of the investigation. He’s manipulative and clever, and he knows how to play up his childish act to pry evidence from witnesses. Saguru’s sure that he himself has his good points, but in the end he’s just Saguru.
“Would you like to come in?” Saeki asks, finally stepping back out of his personal space.
“Of course,” Saguru says politely. He exchanges his shoes for the slippers that Saeki offers and follows her into the kitchen to sit at the small breakfast table as she makes tea. It’s quiet and uncomfortable.
Saguru engages himself by checking his pocket watch – 09:41:20:35 – and replying to Edogawa’s answering thumbs up with a query on when the Mouris want him over for dinner. He puts both the pocket watch and phone back into his coat pocket afterwards, feeling rude for taking them out in the first place.
The kitchen is dim, as Saeki’s apparently forgotten to put the blinds up. Saguru puts it down to the paranoia that the murderer has caused her.
“Here you are,” Saeki says, setting a cup of tea down in front of him and sitting across from him with her own. She says it quietly, as if she’s afraid to speak.
“Thank you,” Saguru says. He takes his notebook and pen out. “Would you be amenable to answer some questions?”
Saeki nods, staring down at the surface of her tea. The silence is cloying.
“Right,” Saguru says. “It was mentioned in the police report that you were followed home. Could you possibly give me some details on this? Perhaps, when it started? And what the man who followed you looked like?” They already know, as Edogawa has likely given a report on his encounter with the murderer, but it doesn’t hurt to ask multiple people.
“I- yes,” Saeki says. She raises a shaky hand to play with the teaspoon in her cup of tea. Saguru’s mind goes to his own missing teaspoons – he needs to replace those soon. “It- it started around- well, I first noticed it around mid-March. Maybe the 13th, or the 15th – I’m not too sure. It was around that time.” The murderer moves fast. Oye Airi went missing on the 14th of March. It’s likely that he had set his sights on Saeki Naomi before he’d even gotten to her.
Was Saeki Naomi really the victim, though? Saguru has a horrible feeling that she may have just been a consequence. He should speak to Megure-keibu about getting an officer to watch over Junko.
“He- um. Well, he was wearing a long coat, every time-”
Junko jolts in surprise, splashing tea over the rim of her cup as her hand spasms. Oh. Right. He shouldn’t have interrupted – that was really rude.
Before Saguru can apologise for his slip up, Junko says, “Grey.”
Saguru will have to chase Edogawa up on the colour. “Are there any features of his that you remember?” he asks.
“No,” Junko shakes her head. “It was too dark.”
“Did he ever speak to you?”
“He never opened his mouth.”
“Whereabouts were you when you noticed him behind you? Was it always the same place?”
“About five minutes after I left the television studio. I started asking Chino-san to accompany me home after a while, just in case. He never followed me on the days that Chino-san was there.”
Saguru has a thought. “Was that when you received the threatening mail?” he asks. “Or was that when the killer smashed your plates all over the kitchen floor?” It’s perhaps a bit presumptuous.
Junko quivers. “The first one,” she says quietly.
“So, you stopped asking Chino-san to accompany you home for fear of his safety,” he says. Junko nods. “Would you happen to have a copy of the mail that he sent you?”
Junko shakes her head. “The police took it as evidence,” she says.
This is annoying, but Saguru will make sure he gets a copy from Megure-keibu.
“And the plates? Did something happen before that?” The plates were found smashed on the 25th, just over a week after the killer started following Junko home.
“I- well, I called the police on the 24th,” Junko admits.
So, the killer was trying to scare her into keeping things to herself. Saguru looks down at his tea, that horrible thought from earlier coming back.
Saeki Naomi went missing on the 3rd of April, on her way home from school. “Did you do anything on the 2nd of April?” Saguru asks, though he thinks he already knows the answer.
“I…called the police again.”
Of course. Saeki Naomi probably didn’t even know about her mother being followed home – she probably wasn’t afraid at all. Because Saeki Naomi was never intended to be the victim.
She’s dead, but she’s just part of the killer’s scheme to break Saeki Junko. He’s still got his eyes on Saeki Junko.
“Have you noticed any break-ins since the 3rd?” Saguru asks, tongue feeling like soot in his mouth. “Have you been followed home at all? Noticed anyone suspicious?”
Junko fidgets. “It’s been calm,” she says.
Too calm. Suspiciously calm.
Saguru redirects the conversation to the break-ins. He doesn’t want to scare Junko.
“It was little things,” Junko says. “I would find windows open, or items that I used everyday in the wrong place, as if he was trying to-”
“Show you that he’d been inside.”
“Alright,” Saguru takes his pocket watch out. 10:12:35:31. “Could I take a look around the apartment?”
“Aren’t you going to ask about Naomi?” Saeki says, an almost angry look on her face.
“Oh.” Saguru clicks the pocket watch closed and puts it away. He picks up his pen again. “Yes, of course. What can you tell me about her behaviour leading up to her death?”
Junko flinches at the word ‘death’ and Saguru internally cringes.
“She- uh, well. She seemed fine.” Very helpful. Saguru feels a twinge of annoyance that Junko has directed the conversation here when she has nothing useful to say. But, he reminds himself, she’s grieving, and she doesn’t know what Saguru knows.
“Was she paranoid? Did she walk home with anyone? What about blinds? Was she -” he gives a pointed look to the closed blinds. “- keeping them closed?”
Junko looks uncomfortable that he’s mentioned the closed blinds. She looks like she wants to open them but feels too embarrassed to do so.
Saguru’s really acting awful. “Apologies,” he says. “I meant nothing by it. It’s perfectly normal to want to have them closed when you’ve been put in such a stressful situation.”
Junko bites at her lip. “Naomi…she didn’t appear bothered by anything. But then, she never tells- told -” Junko closes her eyes briefly before opening them again. “- me anything. I’ve always felt like there was something she’d been hiding from me.”
Saguru makes an understanding nod and writes it down in his notebook, though he doesn’t think he will be using the information.
“She had two close friends,” Junko sniffles. “Very close. Yamasaki-chan and Tsuji-chan. Yamasaki-chan was a bit of a tomboy. I always worried that she was a bit – you know.” Saguru can guess at what she’s hinting at, but he doesn’t see how it’s relevant and why she’s seemingly so shocked by it. “She was a nice girl, though. And Tsuji-chan and Naomi looked up to her. Naomi’s always had problems with bullies, so it was nice to have someone to stand up for her, even if she was a bit…” Junko trails off.
None of this matters, but Junko obviously wants to talk about it. “Did they walk home with her?” Saguru finds himself asking.
Junko nods. “Tsuji-chan would always walk her to our door. I think Yamasaki-chan lives closer to the school, so she only walked her home sometimes. She would double back the way she came when she did.”
“What school do they go to?”
“Arakawa Kuritsu Daishi Junior High,” Junko answers. “She would take the train from Nezu station – it’s about ten minutes away from here. It’s a bit far – a forty-minute journey – but it’s the closest school to where we live.”
Naomi was taken on the way home, it says in his notes. It looks like Saguru will have to pay Naomi’s friends a visit.
“I think that’s all I need,” Saguru says, putting his pen away. “Can I please look around the apartment now?”
Junko looks appeased. She nods and says, “I’ll wait in here.” That’s just as well. Saguru doesn’t want to get distracted while looking for the mark. He also doesn’t want Junko to see the mark, because he’s sure that it’s more than she can handle.
Saguru starts by looking around the kitchen first, Junko fidgeting as he does so. All of the marks were found in kitchens so far. Her kitchen is tiled, which Saguru is thankful for as he kneels down and searches through the cupboards. In the end, he finds nothing in the kitchen.
“What are you looking for?” Junko asks when he moves to exit the room.
Saguru hesitates. “Do you really want to know?” he asks. Junko nods. Saguru frowns, but tells her anyway. “There’s a mark that’s been left at the houses of victims. I am attempting to find this mark.”
He slips out of the kitchen and goes on to check the rest of the house. At 10:42:25:12, he has to admit that there just isn’t a mark. The killer hasn’t marked up her house yet, which feels very foreboding.
“Have you found anything yet, Hakuba-san?” Saguru puts the framed picture that he’s already inspected twice back into place.
“Nothing yet,” he says primly, hands clasping together behind his back.
“That’s…” Junko hesitates. “Is that good?”
Probably not. Saguru doesn’t like to lie, and it would be better for Junko to be informed.
“I don’t think your daughter was the killer’s intended victim,” Saguru tells Junko, watching as her face falls. “I believe that you are the intended victim and that he killed your daughter as a punishment for calling the police. Seeing as there is no mark in this house, he probably intends to put it here later on, before he murders you.” Oh. That was- Saguru probably should have thought that through before saying it. “I will give a call to the police to make sure you have an officer around.”
Junko is shaking, her eyes downcast and teary.
“Is it my fault that-” she bites at her lip.
“No,” Saguru says, feeling very unprepared for this. “I- this is the murderer’s fault. You did everything that you should have done. Your daughter’s death is at the fault of the-”
Junko can’t hold back her sobs. Saguru watches her helplessly, barely able to breathe, his shoulders practically up to his ears.
“I-” What is he meant to do? He reaches out to put his hands on her shoulders and hopes it’s somewhat reassuring. “I need to go?”
Baaya can help. He can get Baaya – surely she would know what to do.
“What?” Junko utters. She grabs at Saguru. “No- you can’t- don’t leave. I can’t- he’s out there. He- he’s going to kill me! You said he’s going to kill me!”
Saguru swallows. He’s definitely panicking. “Of course. Right,” he says. “We need to…would you like to sit down?” he doesn’t wait for her response before guiding her into the living room and pushing her down onto the couch. Her fingers scramble at Saguru’s sleeves as he pulls back. “I will give the police a call,” Saguru says, disentangling her fingers and setting her hands into her lap. “And I will wait with you until they arrive.”
“Thank you,” Junko says, choking up again. Her fingers dig into her knees.
“You’re welcome,” Saguru says.
It takes about an hour for the officer to arrive, so Saguru finds himself heading back towards Baaya’s car at 11:53:02:24. He can’t really find it in himself to speak as he opens the car door and gets inside the car.
“That bad?” Baaya asks, setting her knitting aside.
Saguru nods. He leans his head against the car window. “I messed up.” Baaya pats him on the knee. It doesn’t make him feel any better.
“Do you want to stay here for a bit?” Baaya asks. “Or we could drive around. We can get lunch if you’d like.”
Saguru doesn’t like the idea of lunch right now. “Can we just stay here for now?” Saguru asks.
“Of course, Saguru-botchama,” Baaya says. She picks her knitting up again.
Saguru closes his eyes, listening to the clicking of her needles. It’s very calming after the last few hours.
Around half past twelve, Baaya starts the car up again. They have lunch at a café in Arakawa and then return to her car. Saguru opens his pocket watch at exactly 1pm to find Koizumi staring back at him.
“How innovative,” he remarks, drawing a sideways glance from Baaya. “I do hope my pocket watch will survive this conversation.” It better survive this conversation.
“I’m an expert, Hakuba-kun,” Koizumi huffs, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “As if I would ever break your pocket watch without meaning to.”
“Of course,” Saguru says. “What can I do for you today?”
Koizumi raises an eyebrow. “We were going to work out when you would be free later on,” she says.
Oh. Of course. Saguru had forgotten with all that commotion. He fishes his phone from his pocket to see that Edogawa has texted him back.
“It appears that Mouri-san usually serves dinner around six. I would give about two hours – no, three, just to be safe, taking us to nine. Is nine o’clock alright with you, Koizumi-san?”
Saguru is going to be dead on his feet by then – seeing as he wakes up at 6am every day – but he doesn’t mind staying up to talk to his friend.
“Eight sounds fine to me,” Koizumi says. She disappears from the pocket watch immediately. Saguru shakes his head fondly and snaps the watch closed before putting it away.
“Is something the matter?” Saguru asks, seeing Baaya’s eyes trained on him.
Baaya frowns. “You’ve been under too much stress lately,” she tuts, turning her attention back to the road.
Hakuba turns up at five forty-five, stiff and polite. It feels strange to see him so uncomfortable after all of their phone calls.
It started raining a couple of hours ago, so Hakuba’s brought an umbrella with him, which he collapses when Ran opens the door.
“It’s good to see you, Hakuba-kun,” She says cheerily, stepping aside to allow him entry.
“It’s good to see you too, Ran-san,” Hakuba says. He comes inside and Ran shuts the door behind him.
Ran gestures to the umbrella rack and says, “You can put your umbrella in there,” and then takes his coat from him and hangs it up.
“I hope you don’t mind that we have another guest,” she says.
The other guest is, of course, Amuro, who had manipulated his way into joining them for dinner again. Conan thinks he’s probably lonely. He understands the appeal of the Mouris – they’re so welcoming, and as Mouri’s apprentice, he doesn’t think Amuro has escaped the warm bubbly feeling that Conan’s gained from being around them.
It feels a bit strange to say that Mouri is welcoming. He’s rude, drinks too much, and is a terrible detective. But it’s the little things that do it. He cares a lot more than he shows.
“Not at all,” Hakuba says. He bends down to untie his shoes.
Conan darts back into the kotatsu room and sits down next to Amuro to continue his favourite game of ‘subtly annoy Amuro until he breaks cover.’ Conan has never won this game.
“Hmmm,” Conan chimes, practically sparkling with his childlike innocence. “I wonder when Subaru-san wants to have that Holmes marathon. Haibara joined us last time. You know, Subaru-san is super nice, even more nice than Amuro-no-nichan.”
“Oh really?” Amuro says pleasantly. Conan can see that spark of annoyance, though.
“Yeah!” Conan cheers.
Ran and Hakuba are in the doorway now.
“I’ll get the food, you just sit down here,” Ran says and walks off to the kitchen
“It’s good to see you again, Edogawa-kun,” Hakuba says.
“It’s nice to see you too.” Conan says.
Hakuba stops just inside the room, eyes locking onto Amuro, but starts walking a second later as if it had never happened. He sits across from Conan and Amuro and puts his hand out in front of him. “I am Hakuba Saguru. Who might you be?”
Amuro smiles. Hakuba looks caught off guard. “It’s nice to meet you, Saguru-kun,” he says warmly, grabbing hold of Hakuba’s hand and giving it a firm shake before letting go. “I’m Amuro Tooru.”
That’s all it takes to turn Hakuba into a flustered mess, because apparently Hakuba has horrible taste in men. Conan nudges Amuro under the kotatsu with his knee and glares pointedly at him.
Amuro looks at him innocently, as if he hadn’t even done anything wrong.
“I hope curry is alright with everyone,” Ran says, coming into the room with a plate full of rice. Everyone agrees that it’s fine.
“Hakuba-niichan,” Conan says sweetly, because this is a great opportunity to get him away from Amuro and warn him about how horrible and awful the man really is (okay, so Amuro actually isn’t that horrible, but Hakuba just isn’t allowed to be crushing on him). “Can you help me get the plates down? I want to help Ran-neechan.”
“Of course, Edogawa-kun,” Hakuba says, predictably polite. Ran argues a little, saying that she can do it, but Conan argues back, saying that she always does everything, and doesn’t she deserve to sit down once in a while.
“How about I help Conan-kun,” Amuro, actual Satan incarnate, says. Conan narrows his eyes at him. “Since I come around a lot more. Saguru-kun is a guest, so he should be sitting down.”
“Ah,” Ran says. “But you’re a guest too, Amuro-san,”
“It’s no problem,” Amuro says, smiling harmlessly. “How about Conan-kun and I bring everything else in, and you find Mouri-sensei?”
It turns out that Amuro really does have an ulterior motive.
“I heard something suspicious on my listening devices,” he says as he takes five plates from the cupboard and sets them down on the counter.
“I thought I’d gotten rid of those,” Conan says testily. He remembers combing the house for them after he’d cleared up who’s side Amuro was on for himself.
“Most of them,” Amuro says.
Conan frowns down at the tiled floor. “What did you hear?” he asks. He thinks he already knows what Amuro’s going to say.
“Footsteps,” Amuro says, leaning back against the counter and crossing his arms. “When you, Ran-san, and Mouri-sensei were all down in Poirot earlier. Are you in trouble, Conan-kun?”
“I don’t know,” Conan admits. He steps towards the cupboards and opens one of them, but there’s no suspicious mark carved into it. “Where did you hear the footsteps?”
“I don’t have a bug in the room that you share with Mouri-sensei,” Amuro says, frowning. “But the door to that room definitely opened. I also heard sounds in the kotatsu room, around the TV set.”
“Right,” Conan says. “Thanks. I’m going to-” he waves his hand vaguely.
Amuro nods. “I’ll take care of these,” he says, gesturing to the plates.
Hakuba blinks when Conan turns up at the kotatsu room without any plates.
“Edoagawa-kun?” he asks, but Conan waves him off.
He checks the kotatsu first, flipping up the fabric to see underneath, but there aren’t any markings. There’s nothing on the TV set either. Conan stands up, frowning.
And then he realises that his spare pair of glasses are beside the TV. He never takes his glasses off and he knows that he didn’t put his spare pair there. They should be in a glasses case in his and Mouri’s bedroom.
Conan picks them up and looks them over, feeling unsettled.
Before Conan can say anything to Hakuba, Amuro comes into the room with the plates. His eyes say, ‘did you find anything?’ but he doesn’t say anything like that, probably because he doesn’t know Hakuba.
Conan and Hakuba hold still as Amuro places the plates on the table, looks between the two of them, and then walks back out of the room.
They’re both silent for a couple of seconds and then Hakuba asks, “Are you okay?”
Is he okay? Conan looks down at the glasses. He licks at his dry lips and then hooks them over the collar of his jumper.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he says. “Actually, there’s something I need to talk to you about.” He sits down at the kotatsu across from Hakuba.
And then they’re interrupted again, by Ran this time. She ducks into the room, shrugging on a coat, an angry look to her. “Dad’s gone out to play pachinko,” she growls, jerking the zipper up. “I’m going to go and collect him. Conan-kun, you’re in charge.”
Then she’s gone again. The front door opens and then slams shut.
When she calms down, she’s going to be so embarrassed about leaving two guests and a supposed seven-year-old alone inside the apartment.
“It seems that we’re alone,” Hakuba says.
“Yeah,” Conan agrees.
“What did you need to talk to me about?”
Conan scrunches up his face. “You can’t be crushing on Amuro-san,” he says.
“What?” Hakuba flushes a tiny bit.
“I get it,” Conan goes on. “He’s nice. But you can’t just crush on someone because they’re nice. And also, he’s pretty horrible and he tried to blow up KID once.” Granted, that was Vermouth, and she’d thought that KID was Haibara.
The idea that Amuro had attempted to blow up KID has the effect Conan wanted, though. “Really?” Hakuba asks, turning around as if Amuro is going to magically appear in the doorway so that he can question him. “Is he dangerous?”
Conan hesitates. “Okay,” he says. “So, he didn’t know it was KID, and he didn’t know that there were explosives.” Hakuba raises an eyebrow. “He’s an ally,” Conan says. “A very good ally, who I respect. But he’s also annoying and fake as hell, so I would try not to have a crush on him if I were you.”
“Noted,” Hakuba says. He sighs and says, “I hadn’t meant to, I’ve just had a very long day and he has a very nice smile.”
Conan means to say, ‘long day?’, but instead he says, “Do you think Kudou Shinichi has a nice smile?”
What’s wrong with him?
“I’ve never met Kudou Shinichi,” Hakuba says. “So, I can’t say whether or not he has a nice smile. But I’ve seen him in the newspapers and he looks just like Kuroba, so he probably has a nice smile.” Hakuba grimaces. “You can’t tell him I said that.”
Conan giggles and then immediately feels awful, because he sounds just like a child.
“Be careful, alright.”
“Has something happened?” Hakuba asks, suddenly more alert. He sits up straight.
It’s not really something Conan can tell Hakuba about. If he says that Amuro has bugs all over the house, then Hakuba’s going to become suspicious of Amuro. But then, he’s already said that Amuro tried to blow Kaitou KID up, so warning bells are probably already ringing in Hakuba’s head.
Conan fiddles with the glasses hanging from his jumper.
“I never take these spare glasses out of their case,” he says. “But they were over there just now. It could have been KID – he did come over last night – but it also could have been someone other than KID.”
Hakuba lets out a breath. “This is getting dangerous,” he says. “Can I tell you something about the case?”
“There’s no marking at Saeki Junko’s house.”
“Have you checked below your eye level?” Conan asks.
“And above it.” Hakuba sighs. “It’s nowhere, Edogawa-kun. She got sent the threatening mail after she started walking home with a work colleague, and she found the plates smashed on her kitchen floor the day after she informed the police about the break-ins. The second time she informed the police was the night before Saeki Naomi went missing.”
“So, Saeki Junko is the victim,” Conan surmises. “And Saeki Naomi was killed because she didn’t do what he wanted her to do. Then why didn’t any of the other victims get punished for reporting things to the police?”
“I expect,” Hakuba says, “that the killer treats every murder like an experiment. The murders are all very different from each other. He worked his way up in difficulty, and then decided to pick a different way to scare his latest victim. Fear for others is more terrifying than fear for oneself.”
Conan thinks they can both attest to that.
“I’ll be careful,” he says. “So, you be careful too.”
If the killer likes to experiment, then what kind of experiment are he and Hakuba? The killer followed him around and instigated a city-wide chase before coming close to killing him in Nakai Sora’s house. Was it a coincidence that Hakuba was calling him at the time?
And also, does this mean that he went after Conan because he’d switched targets? Or is he just a distraction?
There are a lot of questions.
You can find me on tumblr at: https://achairwithapandaonit.tumblr.com/
“Oh, by the way – ” Saguru looks away from Amuro, who is innocently eating his curry, to Edogawa, sitting to the man’s right. “– KID left those teaspoons behind,” Edogawa says.
Saguru beams. “That’s wonderful, Edogawa-kun.” He needs those spoons – he can’t live with using the regular ones in his cups of tea. It just looks wrong. “I had begun to worry that I would have to buy a new set.”
“Oh, those are your teaspoons?” Ran asks, setting her chopsticks down. “I was wondering where they’d come from.”
“I suppose they must be mine, if Edogawa says that KID left them here and you’ve noticed a new addition to your cutlery drawer,” Saguru says.
“I’ll go and get them,” Ran says, getting up. Saguru moves to protest, because he doesn’t want to interrupt her meal, but she’s already gone.
Mouri makes a confused noise. “I thought it was just a dream,” he says.
“What happened?” Amuro asks. He really does have a nice smile. Saguru can’t imagine him in a situation that nearly ended up with Kuroba blowing up. Is it possible that Kuroba deserved it? Kuroba does like to be antagonistic, and Saguru can see even the most mellow person losing their cool around him.
“Kaitou KID paid us a visit in the middle of the night,” Edogawa says.
“Oh,” Amuro says, smiling. “He does that to me too.”
“Excuse me?” Saguru splutters.
“Yeah,” Amuro says. “He turns up to threaten me every other week, because I’m apparently very sneaky and evil.” He leans down to share a smile with Edogawa. “But I’m really very trustworthy, right, Conan-kun?”
“Amuro-no-niichan is super trustworthy!” Edogawa chirps, laying on a thick layer of deception. “He helped us get Haibara’s charm back after she lost it.”
And- oh. They both have the same smile. The same fake smile.
This seems to be a game to Edogawa and Amuro, forcing their incredibly fake, cheery personalities on people who are – Saguru glances over at Mouri – utterly oblivious. They’re both internally laughing at everyone.
Saguru feels the remnants of the crush that he had for probably only five minutes dissolve.
Amuro Tooru is even more fake than Edogawa Conan. And Kuroba apparently drops in on Amuro just to tell him that he doesn’t like him.
Saguru can’t help but chuckle.
“Hakuba-niichan?” Edogawa says, tilting his head to the side.
“My apologies,” Saguru says, trying to force the smile away. “I just-” he glances at Mouri and Amuro, people that he doesn’t know very well. And then back to Edogawa, who he feels comfortable around. “It’s just like him to do that.”
Edogawa smiles. “Yeah,” he says good-naturedly.
“I once caught him rooting around my fridge,” Saguru says. It was actually more than once.
“Are we still talking about Kaitou KID?” Ran asks, coming into the room with two teaspoons. She offers them to Saguru as she sits back at the kotatsu.
It’s only two teaspoons, but it’s a start. Maybe KID will make a habit of visiting the Mouris and leave behind even more of his teaspoons.
“Thank you,” Saguru says, taking them. He puts them down beside himself. “And yes, we are.”
Ran lights up. “Sonoko told me that they paint their nails together sometimes.”
God, why is it that everyone who knows KID doesn’t inform the police when he breaks into their homes?
On reflection, it’s probably because they know him.
At least Saguru calls the police when he catches Kuroba in his house. He can still trust in himself, even if everyone else is brain dead.
Although, it’s not as if Kuroba ever does anything worse than breaking into the houses.
Oh- wait. No. He stole Saguru’s teaspoons for apparently no reason.
It’s a quarter to seven by the time they all finish eating. Amuro gathers his belongings and jokingly – or not so jokingly, if Saguru’s suspicions are true – says that he has an overdue murder to commit.
Saguru gives Edogawa a horrified look, but Edogawa just smiles cheerily and says, “Say hi to Subaru-san for me.”
“We need to tell Amuro that we accept his sexuality and that it’s okay that he’s dating that curry guy,” Mouri sighs, shortly after Amuro’s disappeared to commit a murder. Emphasis on the words, ‘commit’ and ‘murder’. “One day someone’s going to call the police on him for all those jokes about murder.”
“But Amuro-san knows that I’m bi,” Ran says. “So, I don’t think he has any reason to think we don’t accept him.”
Saguru looks between them. “Are you completely sure that he isn’t about to commit a murder?” he asks.
Ran giggles. “Of course, we are – it’s Amuro-san we’re talking about here.”
Edogawa, however, says, “He’s completely serious. He attempts to kill Subaru-san at least once a week. Subaru-san’s impressed, he says that each attempt is unique, and that Amuro-san has amazing perseverance to still be making attempts.”
Ran nudges Edogawa. “Don’t make fun of Hakuba-kun like that,” she says. “He seems really concerned.”
“Okay!” Edogawa chirps, the fake child persona back in place.
Saguru stays for another half an hour and then takes photographs of Edogawa’s notes on his own investigations. At 19:24:12:36 he shrugs his coat back on and says his goodbyes. Edogawa tells him to be careful and Saguru is being careful, but probably not as careful as Edogawa believes.
He knows that he can call Baaya to pick him up. The thing is that she’s already done so much for him today and he doesn’t want to interrupt her evening.
So, Saguru walks down the steps leading from the Mouris’ apartment and heads out into the rain, umbrella held above him. He doesn’t like how unnerving just walking to the train station is. Walking alone has never bothered him before and he wishes it wasn’t bothering him now.
Luckily, nothing happens on the way to the train station.
And nothing happens on the walk from the train station to his house either.
Saguru gets inside and props his umbrella up against the wall at the genkan. The water will probably stain the wall, but Saguru can’t find it within himself to care.
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his pocket watch, hand brushing against the two teaspoons in his pocket as he does so. Twenty-three minutes and fifty-two seconds past eight. Saguru puts the pocket watch away and exchanges his shoes for slippers before pulling the teaspoons out.
It’s satisfying to put them back into the drawer where they belong.
When he’s done with the teaspoons, Saguru works on the buttons of his coat. He gets that off and goes back to the genkan to hang it up on a hook. Then Saguru climbs the stairs and retires to his bedroom. Watson makes a happy screech from the windowsill. He’s covered in water, and so is everything by the window, since it’s raining.
For the first time since leaving the Mouri household, Saguru feels safe.
“Did you have fun today?” Saguru asks as he crosses the room. Watson gives a pointed look to a- a dead rat lying in a pool of blood by his talons. Saguru tuts. “You know you shouldn’t bring your victims into the house,” he says. He reaches over Watson and pulls the window closed.
Watson screeches. He snatches the rat up with his beak and holds it up to Saguru.
“For me?” Saguru asks. He chuckles. “Watson, how many times do I have to tell you that I don’t eat rats?”
Watson looks at him in a way that plainly states, ‘and how many times do I have to tell you that you should.’ Maybe Saguru thinks too much into the bird’s thought process.
“Right,” Saguru says. “I’ll dispose of the rat and then we can both go to bed.” He holds his hands out and Watson happily drops the rat into them. Saguru shudders at the slick feeling of the bloodied, rain-soaked rat.
Maybe if he was a bit more awake, he would have put the gloves he keeps in his pocket for crime scenes on before handling it, but Saguru has been up since 6am and he has no room for thought.
After disposing of the rat and washing his hands three times, Saguru gets changed into his pyjamas. He eyes up the puddle of blood on the windowsill and decides that no, Baaya is not paid enough to deal with that.
Saguru is just about to leave the room to grab a cloth when the ceiling light catches fire and drops to the floor. Saguru can only stare at it numbly as the flame grows taller and taller, eventually reaching the ceiling, somehow not burning anything around it or producing smoke. Koizumi’s face recreates itself in the flames.
“Hakuba-kun,” she says. “Have you ever heard of the Manananggal?”
Saguru can only communicate in stressed noises right now.
“That’s- that’s- Koizumi-san, that’s property damage,” he chokes out. Is it not enough that Kuroba stole his teaspoons?
“No, the Manananggal isn’t property damage. It’s a creature from the Phillipines that looks like the stereotypical – entirely false, by the way – depiction of a witch. They tend to tear themselves in half at the abdomen and fly around searching for sleeping pregnant women. They use their tongues to eat the hearts of the fetuses.”
Saguru…really doesn’t have the energy to argue. He sighs and sits down on his bed, listening as Koizumi info-dumps about creatures from the Phillipines that Saguru really hopes don’t exist. He must fall asleep listening to her, because the next thing he knows, it’s 6am and he’s lying on his bed. Watson is curled up by his head, radiating warmth. The puddle of blood is still at the window, probably crusty and dry by now.
“You have a perch,” Saguru murmurs, but Watson is fast asleep.
Saguru goes downstairs and has breakfast with Baaya. She shows him the two teaspoons, saying that they’ve found their way back.
Saguru apologises for the mess that Watson’s made (hinting that the ceiling light might have been him as well), but Baaya taps him on the head with a teaspoon and tells him to stop being silly. They eat and then Saguru gets ready for school. He opens the window for Watson once again before leaving.
The classroom isn’t very busy quite yet. The time is – Saguru takes out his pocket watch – 07:43:53:12, about half an hour to their first class. Aoko is also early, and she looks up as soon as he walks into the room.
“Hakuba-kun!” she exclaims, getting up from her seat.
“Good morning, Aoko-san,” Saguru says.
Aoko doesn’t waste any time getting to him, she practically runs across the classroom. “Are you okay?” she asks worriedly. Saguru realises that he hasn’t talked to her since Edogawa was attacked.
“I am quite well, Aoko-san,” Saguru says.
Aoko doesn’t look convinced. She frowns and says, “You didn’t sound very well on the phone.”
Saguru flushes at the reminder. “I’m terribly sorry for inconvenie-”
Aoko punches his arm in a way that is probably meant to be light but ends up being mildly painful. “Hakuba-kun wasn’t an inconvenience!” she insists, an angry bite to her tone.
Saguru- he smiles, feeling his shoulders slump as he accepts her words. “Alright, Aoko-san,” he says.
Aoko beams. Saguru likes seeing his friends smile, he likes seeing them happy.
“Can Aoko hug you?” Aoko asks.
Saguru blinks. He shouldn’t be so taken aback by the request, seeing as they’re friends, but he can’t remember the last time he hugged someone.
“I suppose so,” Saguru says, setting his bag down on the floor.
Aoko’s arms wind around him quickly, pressing them together. It’s warm and comfortable, but Saguru’s not really sure what to do with his hands.
“You can put your hands on Aoko’s back,” Aoko says softly. Saguru feels his face heat up. Is he really that obvious?
He leans into her anyway, putting his arms around her. It’s very peaceful, even if he’s aware of the two other students in the classroom.
Of course, the peace is only short lived, because in a classroom that Kuroba frequents, you can’t expect such things to last.
“Alele,” Saguru hears from behind them. He has a thought of, ‘why is Edogawa in our classroom?’ as he disentangles himself from Aoko and spins around, only to find himself face to face with Kuroba. Kuroba grins. “Is it hug the repressed nerd day?” he says, still in Edogawa’s voice.
“Did you just say, ‘alele’?” Aoko asks, blinking in confusion.
“It’s an inside joke,” Kuroba says, as if it isn’t at all suspicious that he referenced Edogawa Conan’s favourite ‘oh look at me I’m a child’ phrase in his exact tone of voice. Saguru narrows his eyes. “Anyway, it’s totally unfair if you hug Aoko and not me.” Kuroba tells him.
“E-excuse me?” Saguru squeaks. Is Kuroba saying that he wants a hug?
“It’s not fair,” Kuroba whines. “And it’s really evil and sneaky of Aoko to go behind my back like this.”
Aoko’s face turns dark. “What’s that supposed to mean, Bakaito?” she asks, voice loud and demanding.
Kuroba steps back a little, looking wildly amused. “Only that you’re hogging all of Hakubaka’s attention. Did you know, Hakuba?” he turns to Saguru conspiratorially. “That Ahoko always hogs everything? She hogs the blankets when we take naps together, and she hogs the remote when we watch TV-” he steps around Saguru, avoiding a punch from Aoko.
“Stop being an asshole, Bakaito!” Aoko yells, ducking under Saguru’s arm to make a grab for Kuroba. He just about avoids her, making the full circle around Saguru so that he’s back in front of him.
Saguru watches his impish grin with mild concern. “And she hogs Dorito’s attention as well-” Dorito is one of Kuroba’s doves.
Kuroba keeps talking about all of the things that Aoko presumably hogs, dodging Aoko’s attempts to attack him while still managing to walk a perfect circle around Saguru for a good few minutes. Eventually, Aoko full-on body tackles him, and they’re forced to take up the entire classroom with their fighting, instead of just using Saguru’s personal space.
He sighs and picks up his bag before sitting down at his desk.
It’s 08:12:36:54 when Koizumi turns up. Saguru’s half-way through the book she sent him and Kuroba and Aoko are having a swordfight with mops.
Pretty much everyone in the class except for Kuroba and Aoko flood Koizumi at the door, asking if she needs anything and going above and beyond to compliment her.
Koizumi laughs smugly and says, “I could go for a smoothie.” Her fans rush to get one for her, fighting amongst themselves to get out of the classroom first.
“I do believe you’ve started a fight,” Saguru says, setting his book down as Koizumi saunters over.
“En garde!” he hears from the back of the room. Kuroba’s mop misses Aoko’s and smashes against the wall, chipping at the paint.
Koizumi smirks and takes a seat on his desk. “Look at them, all vying for my attention.” She laughs. “I really am the most beautiful woman in the world.”
Saguru shakes his head fondly. “That you are.”
“I’m glad you think so, Hakuba-kun.” She spots the book he’d been reading and picks it up. “Kiyohime, huh? She’s one of my role models.”
Kiyohime is a character in Koizumi’s book who had fallen in love with a monk. When the monk rejected her, she chased after him, transforming into a serpent. She then killed him in a bell that he had hidden within.
“You could probably pick a better role model,” Saguru says.
Koizumi squints her eyes at him and says dangerously, “What’s so bad about Kiyohime?”
“She’s just a little bit murderous, isn’t she?” Saguru points out. “I understand that you like attempting to murder Kuroba, but it’s not very nice to do so.”
Koizumi puts the book down with a heavy thump. She crosses her arms and stares at Saguru. “Well?” she says, raising an eyebrow. “Who would you suggest?”
Saguru’s mind goes straight to Miss Fisher, but she’s a fictional character and he would like to suggest real people. “Possibly Amelia Earhart?” Saguru says. “She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.”
“So?” Koizumi says.
Saguru sighs. “How about Julie d’Aubigny? She was a bisexual opera-singer who challenged a lot of men to swordfights. There were laws against duelling, but she managed to get pardoned because the law only governed men at the time. Once at a court ball in Paris, she kissed a woman on the dancefloor and was challenged by three different noblemen. She fought all three at once and defeated them.”
“She sounds more interesting,” Koizumi says, leaning forward. “I think she will do as a role model.”
“If you wish to learn fencing to be more like her then I can help you find a place to learn.” He’s not too sure that that’s a good idea though, because it would just give Koizumi a new method for killing people.
“Why would I need to learn fencing when I have my magic?” Koizumi huffs. Well, that sorts out that problem. Her eyes trail over to the back of the classroom. “What are those two fighting about this time?”
Aoko makes a jab at Kuroba with her mop, who backflips out of the way and sweeps his own mop at Aoko’s legs. Aoko jumps over it and meets his mop with her own, the clack of the mops loud in the-
Oh. The classroom’s empty. It seems that everyone went to get a smoothie for Koizumi. She’s way too powerful.
Oh, right. Saguru clears his throat. “Kuroba expressed a displeasure at Aoko-san ‘going behind his back’ and she got angry at him and challenged him to a duel.”
“Like Julie d’Aubigny,” Koizumi says.
“That’s right,” Saguru says. “Perhaps Aoko-san would like to learn fencing.”
“She would be very good at it,” Koizumi says.
“I hope you’ve learnt your lesson.”
Conan’s face scrunches up. “I’m a victim, you know. You could be nicer.”
Haibara’s shoulders lift with mirth, an amused smile on her face. “Maybe, but you’re also an idiot.” Conan doesn’t actually mind Haibara’s scolding too much. She has a point and…it’s just nice to be around Haibara. Maybe her way of thinking isn’t like his, and maybe they don’t share the same interests, but Haibara understands him more than anyone ever has.
They’re partners – partners against the organisation. Conan can’t think of anyone he would rather be teaming up with.
“What’s with that look?” Haibara asks, raising an unimpressed eyebrow.
Conan smiles at her.
“Nothing,” he says, shrugging. “I’m just glad that we’re partners.”
Haibara’s face softens uncharacteristically. “Yeah, same,” she says quietly.
Conan grins and adjusts his grip on his backpack straps. “Even if you are a scary old lady,” he laughs.
“I’m only a year older than you,” Haibara huffs. She looks at him out of the corner of her eye, refusing to turn her head. “I was going to stomp on your foot, but I think you’re already injured enough.”
Conan’s grin widens. “Thank you for sparing me, Haibara-sama,” he says teasingly.
The kids stick to him like glue as soon as they see him, acting like tiny guard dogs. They point out every ‘suspicious’ person they see, making plans to incapacitate them before Conan pitches in with the reasons why the people are obviously not guilty of murder.
“Kiyoko-chan is our age,” he points out.
Ayumi pats at his arm, looking around the wall in a way that she thinks hides her from Kiyoko’s view. “That doesn’t rule her out – maybe she was on stilts.”
Conan rolls his eyes. “I think I would know if the guy that attacked me was a seven-year-old girl on stilts.”
“Mitsuhiko read all about concussions and he said they can make you forget things,” Genta says.
“Yeah!” Mitsuhiko chips in. “I’m sorry, Conan-kun, but we can’t trust your judgement.”
Conan groans. “That wore off days ago,” he says. Haibara laughs because she’s evil like that.
Saguru leaves half-way through the day to continue his investigation into Saeki Naomi. He doesn’t exactly need to investigate any further, but he doesn’t like leaving sources alone, and the school that she went to could be a source.
Baaya drives him there, as Saguru had told Edogawa that he wouldn’t investigate anything while alone. Saguru leaves her in the parking lot anyway.
Saguru had forgotten to call the school up to get permission for his investigation on the grounds, so it takes a while before he obtains a visitor’s pass. At 13:43:26:54 the headmaster of the school gives him the key to Naomi’s locker. They’ve already cleared it out and the items inside are in a box back at Junko’s apartment.
“I doubt that you’ll find anything,” the headmaster says as he unlocks the locker. The superiority of the man rubs him the wrong way.
There aren’t any marks inside the locker, though, so Saguru withholds the scathing remark that lingers in his mind.
“Is it alright if I take a look around?” Saguru asks, shutting the locker and handing the key back to the headmaster. He doesn’t wait for an answer and starts looking over the surfaces of everything in the room. Nothing sticks out.
Just as he’d expected.
Saguru tries to smile politely at the headmaster but feels like he only ends up looking stiff and annoyed.
That night, Saguru’s woken by a loud beeping coming from his phone. He recognises it as the intruder alert, which just makes him even more annoyed about being woken up.
He’s barely awake as he grabs the phone off of his side table. He considers alerting the police but decides that he can’t be bothered to deal with them. Instead, he turns the alarm off, deciding that whatever Kuroba wants to do is probably harmless.
So Saguru goes back to sleep.
He’s awoken an unknown amount of time later by horrific screeching that has his eyes wide open in a second, heart thudding dangerously in his chest. His bedroom door slams closed and Watson attacks it with ferocity, talons dragging long jagged lines into it.
The screeching, Saguru realises, hand fisted at his chest, is coming from Watson.
“Watson,” Saguru says, heart settling down a little bit. He swallows. “You scared me.”
Watson doesn’t acknowledge him – he just keeps attacking the door.
“It’s only Kuroba,” Saguru tells Watson. But, something about that isn’t right, because Watson has met Kuroba and while he treats the magician with disdain, he’s never reacted to him so violently. “Oh dear,” Saguru says, the reality of the situation dawning on him. “That’s not Kuroba, is it?”
He grabs his phone off of the side table and enables the torch (noticing that the time is 01:06), getting out of bed. Watson calms down when he sees that. His eyes are trained on Saguru as he opens a drawer and grabs his falconry glove.
“Come along Watson, let’s catch ourselves a murderer.”
The house is pitch black, as one would expect in the middle of the night. Saguru pads down the hallway in his slippers, shining the light from his phone at every nook that looks like it could harbour something vaguely human-shaped. Watson is perched on his arm, keeping his own look-out.
“I expect he’s made a rush for the front door,” Saguru mutters.
He quickens his pace, inwardly cursing his father’s need to have a house far bigger than can be reasonably justified.
The front door isn’t open, but that doesn’t mean that the murderer hasn’t left by it. Saguru shoves his feet into a pair of shoes and hurriedly pulls his coat on before trying the door. It’s unlocked.
Nothing seems out of place in the front garden. Saguru stops short, just outside the front door, wondering how he expects to search out the murderer with no clues.
Still, Saguru trudges down the garden path, figuring that he may as well try.
Watson’s enraged shriek is the only warning he gets. He feels hands shove at his shoulders. Automatically, Saguru’s KID-honed instincts kick in. He falls into a roll, hands stinging at the impact with the hard ground, but body relatively unharmed.
Saguru’s up in a second, which the murderer obviously hadn’t expected. He also hadn’t expected Watson to dive-bomb him. Arms held up to protect his face from Watson’s talons, the murderer stumbles backwards, tripping into a flowerbed.
Watson screeches. He makes to attack again, but-
“Watson!” Saguru shouts, rushing over. “Watson, no! You can’t kill him!” Watson flaps his wings angrily and gives Saguru a look.
Saguru raises his eyebrows at Watson, because he is not letting a man die in his front garden, even if that man is a murderer.
“Awww,” the murderer chuckles, picking himself up from the flowerbed. By his tone, it seems that he’s vastly underestimating Saguru. Which, understandably, makes Saguru even more angry than he already is. “How cute. You detectives can’t injure people because of your moral codes.”
Saguru scoffs. “I have a problem with murdering you, not with injuring you.” And then he reels back his fist. The murderer, caught by surprise, doesn’t have time to dodge.
“Oh, shit!” he yelps, clutching at his bleeding nose. Saguru notes that his hand is bandaged and remembers how Edogawa had broken his thumb. The thought brings a smile to his face.
“Yes, ‘oh, shit,’” Saguru says smoothly, taking a step towards the murderer. “That was for Edogawa-kun, by the way. Not that he isn’t capable of getting his own back.” Watson gives a shriek, as if agreeing with him. Saguru really does love Watson. He acts like he knows what’s going on all the time, but Saguru feels like he’s just going along with everything and pretending his best to have a grasp of the situation.
The murderer swings his fist at him. Saguru ducks.
Watson makes another attempt at the man, talons extended. Saguru had thought he’d gotten his point across – he doesn’t need Watson’s help. The murderer only escapes Watson’s talons by a hair. He steps back and Saguru advances with a punch that gets avoided. The murderer doesn’t anticipate the fact that Saguru has two working legs, however, and Saguru’s foot slams against his shin.
The murderer’s fallen into the flowerbed again. Saguru should call the police. His phone was in his hand- isn’t anymore- he dropped it when the murderer pushed him over-
Watson gives an almighty shriek and makes for the murderer again.
The murderer ducks down, grabbing a flowerpot.
“Watson!” Saguru yells, but Watson isn’t listening.
The flowerpot sails through the air and slams into Watson. Saguru heart leaps out of his chest as his body falls to the damp grass with a dull thud.
“Watson!” he shouts, sprinting towards Watson.
Watson shifts a bit, lifting his head. He makes a small chirping sound, eye wild and confused.
He’s probably shocked, because no one’s ever thrown anything at him before. “You’re alright,” Saguru says, kneeling down. He pats at Watson’s ruffled feathers soothingly. “You’re okay.”
Behind him he hears the grass squelching. Saguru turns just in time to see the murderer’s dark figure closing the front gate behind him, disappearing into the night. Saguru’s not letting him go that easily.
“Stay here, Watson,” he says, standing up. Watson gives a squawk, wings flapping ever so slightly.
Saguru finds his phone on the garden path. The screen is cracked but the torch is still functioning.
Saguru shakes it to loosen the bits of glass that could get stuck in his fingers. He presses the power button and watches the screen light up. Working, then. Just to be sure, he unlocks it. Saguru walks down the path to the gate, opening it as he scrolls through his contacts. He sends a quick text to Megure-keibu about the break-in and then puts his phone in his pocket.
He can’t see the murderer anywhere nearby, but that doesn’t mean he should give up. Saguru starts walking.
He gives up on his search five missed calls from Megure-keibu later, standing in the middle of a park he’s never been in before. It was a fruitless idea anyway.
Sighing, Saguru sits down on a bench. He rubs at his temples as if it’s going to relieve any of the stress. There’s really not much to see, what with how dark it is. The streetlights cast an orange-y glow that probably wouldn’t even light a room well, let alone a street. Saguru sighs again.
“So, what are you so upset about?”
Saguru makes a startled sound, turning on the bench to see Kuroba leaning over the back of it. “K- Kuroba! What are you doing here?”
Kuroba huffs. He steps back from the bench and holds a hand to his chest, somehow lit dramatically by the streetlight. “I am taking a walk. What are you doing?”
“I could also be taking a walk,” Saguru argues.
“Most people take walks near their houses,” Kuroba says. He throws his arms out, gesturing towards one of the houses across the street. “Case in point – my house.” Oh, so Kuroba lives in the area.
“Most people sleep during the night,” Saguru says, turning away from Kuroba to settle back against the bench. He crosses his arms. “But then, we’re not most people.”
Kuroba hums. The wet grass squelches beneath him as he steps around the bench to stand in Saguru’s eyesight. “Image how boring that would be,” he says, sitting down next to Saguru. Kuroba looks tired. There are bags under his eyes that he no doubt covers up with concealer during the day. He’s still wearing his school uniform, though it has the rumpled appearance that neat clothing gains when you sleep in it.
“Long night?” Saguru guesses.
“Yeah,” Kuroba grins. “Stayed up watching Pingu.” That probably means that Kuroba was up late making plans for his next heist.
Saguru narrows his eyes at him. He has half a mind to interrogate him – he wants to know what Kuroba’s planning, where he’s going to break into, what he’s going to steal. Saguru opens his mouth. He closes it.
“Aren’t you gonna accuse me of being KID?” Kuroba asks, a sceptical look on his face.
“I was going to,” Saguru says. “But you never reveal anything.” It’s better than saying, ‘I’m not sure how long we can keep up this friendship if I keep accusing you of a life of crime.’ Friendship really is becoming a big problem in his ongoing investigations.
“Huh,” Kuroba says, grinning. “Maybe that’s because I’m not KID.”
“Maybe,” Saguru sighs.
Kuroba’s face falls. Apparently, that isn’t the answer he wants. “Hey,” he says. “You’re meant to accuse me of being KID, Hakuba.”
Saguru shifts uncomfortably. “It doesn’t go against our friendship?” he asks.
“What part of, ‘you’re meant to accuse me of being KID’ didn’t you get,” Kuroba says, scowling.
Saguru lets out a frustrated puff of air. He looks away from Kuroba. “You make no sense, Kuroba.”
“I don’t like making sense,” Kuroba declares. “There’s no fun in it.” Something about the soft smile on his face makes Saguru relax. He doesn’t think he’s ever been so calm in Kuroba’s presence before. Usually, he’s wondering when the next prank is going to come.
Kuroba’s like a snake – a predator. He attacks without warning. That analogy is kind of false, though, because while Kuroba is clever and sneaky, he’s also one of the safest people that Saguru knows, probably right after Baaya and Aoko.
“I wonder if that’s Koizumi-san’s philosophy also,” Saguru says.
Kuroba makes a face. “You should stay away from her,” he says. “She’s dangerous.”
Kuroba’s being awfully truthful tonight.
“She’s just lonely,” Saguru says. He wonders what Koizumi’s life was like before this, how she became the way she is. It seems that just last week none of his friends were as complicated as he now sees them.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees someone entering the park. The figure is small – not the murderer.
“I know you probably won’t believe me, because you detectives are all about murder and science and all that,” Kuroba rolls his eyes. “But she’s an actual witch.”
Saguru scoffs and says, “Don’t presume that I’m so stupid I could miss that fact.” He watches the figure approach and realises that it’s Koizumi. Speak of the devil and she shall come.
She’s dressed in a floor-length robe and her hair is up in a ponytail.
“Okay,” Kuroba says disbelievingly. “So, you know. You should still be careful, because she’s going to turn you into a frog or something as soon as you turn your-”
“Are you bitching about me?” Koizumi asks, glaring angrily at Kuroba as she throws herself onto the bench on Saguru’s other side. Kuroba shrieks.
“You!” he shouts. “What are you doing here? Have you been out slaughtering innocent kittens?!”
“Of course not,” Koizumi huffs. “I was doing other rituals.” Saguru thinks she probably just had trouble sleeping. Because, just like Kuroba, she has bags under her eyes. Better not to mention it – he prefers his organs inside his body.
“What? Slaughtering babies?”
“Haha,” Koizumi says, almost snarling. “Very funny. I know Satan, so that obviously means I kill babies.” She leans over Saguru to point at Kuroba. “The only things I kill, Kuroba, are ugly little insects like you.”
They’re getting a bit heated. Saguru should probably say something.
“I am not ugly,” Kuroba says. “You’re ugly.”
Koizumi inhales angrily. “You- you- the absolute-“ Her shoulders hunch up and she shrieks, “How dare you!”
Kuroba opens his mouth. Saguru elbows him. “You’re both pretty,” he says. “Please stop fighting.”
Saguru hadn’t actually expected that to work, yet somehow it does. Kuroba and Koizumi look away, both of them falling silent. It’s very awkward. Saguru should probably say something to make it less awkward.
“Aoko-san would make this less awkward.”
Koizumi nods and Kuroba makes an agreeing sound. Saguru’s phone rings for the sixth time that night. He takes it from his pocket, sees that the caller is Megure-keibu again and declines the call. He sends a text to say that he’s still alive, though, remembering the panic he’d sent Edogawa into when he’d been on his flight to England.
“I need to get back to Watson,” Saguru sighs, not even moving. “He’s probably worried.”
“If you go, I’ll get mad and try to kill Kuroba again,” Koizumi says. Kuroba looks at her angrily.
It’s not stated like a threat, just like fact. Saguru knows Kuroba’s annoying, but he can’t actually imagine getting so annoyed by him that he attempts murder.
Saguru shifts. “Koizumi-san, I hope I don’t have to remind you that murder is bad and that you shouldn’t do it.”
“He deserves it,” Koizumi mutters, hands bunching around the fabric of her robe.
Kuroba splutters. “What the actual fuck is wrong with you? I never even did anything to you!”
Koizumi glares. “You deserve it – you do!”
“No one deserves to be killed!” Saguru shouts. “Not even Kuroba – not even the worst criminal.”
“He-” Koizumi bites at her lip, her shoulders hunched. “He does. He’s not under my control. He-”
“I’m not under your control,” Saguru reminds her.
Koizumi blinks. She looks up. “You’re not?” she says.
Saguru raises his eyebrows. “Of course, I’m not.” Kuroba shifts uncomfortably beside him. “Whatever gave you the impression that I was?”
“Oh,” Koizumi says, looking away with a frown. Her fingers loosening their hold on her robe. “I just- the mirror said-” She turns back to Saguru. “Why aren’t you affected?”
“Because I’m not an idiot,” Saguru says, shrugging. He has no idea if that’s it and by the look on Koizumi’s face it probably isn’t.
Kuroba coughs. “So, like, are you gonna try and kill Hakuba now too? I know he’s annoying, but he has his good points, so I wouldn’t kill him if I were-”
“Hakuba-kun’s my friend!” Koizumi snaps. “I would never try to kill Hakuba-kun!”
“Okay, okay,” Kuroba says, rolling his eyes. “I was just making sure. Geez.”
“While we’re on the concept of friends,” Saguru says. “Do you think you could try to possibly not attempt murder on Kuroba’s person?”
Koizumi scowls. “Maybe,” she mutters. She stands up. “I’m going home.”
“Yeah, bye. See you later,” Kuroba says disinterestedly. The look on Koizumi’s face is furious. She whirls around and starts walking away.
“You could have tried not to aggravate her,” Saguru says tiredly
“She’s annoying as hell,” Kuroba says.
“She can kill you with her mind. I would probably try to be a little less rude to someone like that.”
“Hah!” Kuroba laughs. “She’s never gonna succeed! I’m like…Batman.”
“Batman?” Saguru repeats blandly.
“I don’t actually know,” Kuroba shrugs. “Never watched Batman.”
“Neither have I,” Saguru says. He sighs and picks himself up from the bench, hand going to his pocket. He remembers that his pocket watch is on his side table. “I need to get going now.”
Kuroba nods. He stands up too. “Thanks,” he says awkwardly, gesturing. “For, you know, getting Akako off my back.”
Saguru blinks. He tilts his head. “It was basic human decency,” he says.
Kuroba rolls his eyes. “You’re such a nerd. I am literally only thanking you, Hakubaka.”
That silly nickname again.
“You’re welcome?” Saguru says, squinting his eyes at Kuroba.
Kuroba claps his hands. He lets out a whoop. “Well done! Five points for Hakuba!”
“Christ, I should have just let Koizumi-san kill you.”
“But you didn’t,” Kuroba croons. “So now you’re stuck with me.” He starts circling Saguru, just like he was in the classroom earlier that day. “I’m a problem.”
“You’re giving me a headache, Kuroba.” Saguru grimaces.
“Good.” Kuroba grins.
Saguru starts walking and Kuroba follows. They separate at the edge of the park, the both of them going their own ways.
The flashing lights of police cars at his house make him groan. It looks like he’s having another sleepless night.
Watson screeches from above and Saguru puts his arm out for him, still wearing the falconry glove. Watson lands on it, feathers settling.
“Hakuba-kun!” Megure-keibu calls. Saguru sees that he’s by the front gate.
“Good morning, Megure-keibu,” Saguru smiles as he approaches, hoping that if he lays on enough charm he’s going to get away with this.
“You shouldn’t have gone after the murderer,” Megure-keibu says, opening the gate for him. There are police officers inside the house. “You could have gotten hurt.”
“I was fine,” Saguru says. “Besides, I wasn’t about to let him get away.” Watson makes an agreeing squawk.
Megure-keibu frowns. “Kudou-kun was like you,” he says. “And now he’s gone. We shouldn’t be allowing teenage detectives into our investigations.”
“Yet you do anyway,” Saguru sighs. He turns to Megure-keibu. “Kudou-kun? Kudou Shinichi, you mean? Whatever happened to him? Is he dead? Or in hiding? I hadn’t thought anything much was going on, because if there was something the media would be on it, but something about Kudou-kun seems awfully suspicious.”
Megure-keibu looks so upset that Saguru almost wishes he hadn’t asked.
“I’m not meant to say anything, but we think he’s gotten himself involved in something bad. He’s turned up several times since he’s went missing, but he seemed sick every time and he never stuck around for long.”
This smells like a mystery.
“Please keep safe, Hakuba-kun,” Megure-keibu says. “We don’t want another Kudou Shinichi.”
“Of course,” Saguru says, though he has no intentions of doing anything that Megure-keibu would classify as keeping safe. Keeping safe means no investigations, keeping safe means no mysteries.
“Alright,” Megure-keibu says. “We’ve taken the smashed teacups as evidence. Do you have any idea who broke into your house, Hakuba-kun?”
Ah. He must have not said that it was the murderer in his text. Which is just as well, because he doesn’t want to have any officers getting in the way of his investigation.
Also, teacups? It sounds worryingly like the incident in Saeki Junko’s kitchen that she mentioned.
“I expect Kaitou KID was just pulling a prank,” Saguru lies. “He probably didn’t mean to smash my teacups, though. By teacups, you don’t mean…”
“I’m afraid he’s smashed all of them, Hakuba-kun.”
Saguru grimaces. “Great,” he says. “Perfect.”
Megure-keibu smiles sympathetically. He calls to his officers to clear out, that it was just KID. And KID is such a perfect candidate to pin mischief on, he makes everything easier to smooth over.
“Ah, by the way,” Megure-keibu says off-handed. “We know who the murderer is – for the case with the floorboards.”
Saguru perks up. “Oh?”
“Takahashi Ken – you would have seen reference to him in the case notes. He’s the son of the man that owns the house the bodies were found under. His face is a perfect match to the description that Conan-kun gave. The only problem is that we can’t find him.”
Saguru raises his eyebrows. Watson blinks.
“He can’t be that hard to find,” he says.
Megure-keibu sighs. “He’s just been too silent. He has no address and he’s been missing for five years. We’re still checking security cameras, but it looks like our only hope is that he’ll make an attempt at Saeki Junko-san. Until more information turns up, there’s nothing we can do.”
“But,” Saguru shifts. “He’s been everywhere. He’s been in so many houses – it can’t be that hard to find him.”
“He must be a genius,” Megure-keibu says. “He’s completely vanished.”
The murderer is a complete idiot. The only thing on his side is luck. Saguru sighs.
“Well,” he says. “Good luck with the investigation.”
“Yes,” Megure-keibu says. “Have a goodnight Hakuba-kun.”
Saguru smiles and waves him off. His smile falls as soon as the police cars have cleared the area.
“Today’s been tiring. Don’t you think, Watson?” Watson shrieks. “You know, I have no idea of the time. Better check my pocket watch.”
Only, he can’t find his pocket watch. Watson looks on in concern as Saguru looks everywhere it might possibly be, becoming more and more frustrated when every place he looks turns up with nothing.
“It can’t be gone,” Saguru says. He groans and pulls at his hair. He shoves at his bed, pushing it along the wooden floor so that he can check underneath it. “I’m not so stupid that I could lose it.”
Yet, no matter where he looks, he can’t find it.
Saguru feels frazzled and panicked. The only conclusion he can draw is that the murderer’s taken it. Watson lands next to him and nudges him, but it does nothing to abate the stress.
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