Many many thanks to those people who have bugged us to work on this over the past year, espeically Ysabet, Becky Tailweaver, Dogmatix and the rest of the late-night fic group. Chocolate and glomps to those who beta it and were paitent with my grammer errors, Mel Redcap and Kiena Tesedale.
The Price You Pay: For Freedom
By Icka! M. Chif
"Kudo Shin'ichi is now wanted for the murder of Hanashika Ta-" He watched Agasa-hakase turn off the television with an angry click of the remote control. The news had been all over the media for the last couple of hours and already he was sick of it, probably as much as the scientist.
Kudo being accused of murder. Really. It was as unlikely as it was impossible. Kudo, or Edogawa, had been at school at the time. There was no way for it to happen.
And it was just up to him to figure out how it was done.
"He really didn't do it, you know." A voice spoke from the window ledge, startling both him and the kindly doctor who nearly dropped the beaker he carried. The figure in white chuckled, sliding into the room from his perch on the windowsill and closing the window after him with the ease of familiarity.
"Don't startle me like that, Kid-kun!" Agasa-hakase scolded. "It could have been something highly explosive and 'KA-POW'! There goes the whole place."
Kid the Phantom Thief, the moonlit kaitou himself, looked amused. "I would have caught it before it landed, Agasa-hakase." He assured the scientist. "Although..." he added in a thoughtful tone, "it wouldn't be out of character for that to happen."
Agasa-hakase playfully threatened to hit him with the beaker, causing the thief to laugh and hold his hands up in a placating gesture, acting like a child around a favourite uncle. The scientist certainly resembled one as he chuckled, unsuccessfully hiding a grin in his moustache. "So what brings you to my window tonight, Kid-kun? I don't have any new toys ready for you yet."
"What?" the Kid looked around the lab, poking at the various things that could be found there as if searching for a distraction. "I can't come visit an old family friend?"
The scientist raised an eyebrow. "Right. Now what was that you said when you first startled me so? 'He didn't do it, you know'?"
"He didn't," the thief agreed, all amusement fading from his face to be replaced by a blank mask that did nothing to hide the startling fury behind the sharp indigo eyes. "I saw the whole thing. It was someone who used my father's techniques to look like Kudo."
"Ah." The scientist nodded. "And you know who did it?"
"I saw their face." The thief replied edgily.
"Enough to recognise 'em at a later date?"
Hattori Heiji then abruptly found himself looking down the barrel of a card gun. He slowly raised his hands, a bead of sweat sliding down the back of his neck. That was probably not the smartest move he could have made, he mentally reviewed.
The Kid paused for a moment, then smoothly put the gun back where it had been as quickly as he had taken it out. "Sorry," the thief apologized, his tone and expression neutrally blank. "I'm a bit jumpy at the moment."
"Understandable," the Kansai detective agreed, pushing himself off of the doorframe he'd been resting against to walk in. Seeing someone killed would do that, and surprising an edgy thief probably wasn't one of his best ideas. There had been no known record of the Kid hurting anyone, but Heiji wasn't about to push his luck.
Sensing the underlying hostility, Agasa-hakase faded into the background.
"How's the Shrimp doing?" the Kid inquired.
One of Heiji's eyebrows rose at the question. Kudo had complained in the past about the thief knowing who he really was, but he hadn't quite believed it. "'Neechan's currently usin' him as a teddy bear. Partly for comfort, partly so that he stops shoutin' at the reporters comin' to their door. He was startin' to edge towards the soccer balls."
A proud grin spread across the thief's face. "Good for him."
"You said that you saw what happened?" he asked, bringing the subject back to the topic at hand.
The grin faded once again from the Kid's face, to be replaced by a more cautious expression. "I did."
"Then we can clear Kudo!" He beamed "All you have to do-"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," the thief held his hands up, stalling the teenage detective. "In case you hadn't noticed, 'Police' and 'Phantom Thief' do NOT go together. As fond as I am of the modern Sherlock Holmes, I am not going -anywhere- near the cops!"
Heiji gave him a dark scowl, definitely not pleased by that announcement. There was also something rather odd about the statement that set off warning bells.
Agasa-hakase cleared his throat, catching the attention of both teens. "Kid-kun, would you sit down with Heiji-kun and explain things from the beginning, please?" he requested pleasantly, motioning for them to sit down on the lab stools. There was more to the request than met the eye, Heiji sensed. "I'll go make us some hot chocolate in the meantime."
The thief shot the scientist a disbelieving look.
"Just how you got involved in Shin'ichi-kun's current mess, if you would. I think he would find it immensely helpful in a case of his own," Agasa-hakase assured him. "You don't have to tell him how you became the Kid if you don't wish."
Kid shrugged. "It's your head."
"Maa, maa." Agasa-hakase made a reassuring gesture. "Heiji-kun, please don't arrest Kid-kun while he's a guest in my house. Kid-kun, play nice with Heiji-kun." With that, he slipped out of the door, shutting it behind him.
"I always play nice," the Kid grumbled, taking up a perch on a counter top that just happened to conveniently lie within some shadows that helped to obscure what features the hat and monocle did not. "-and there had better be marshmallows for this!"
Heiji snorted, grabbing one of the computer chairs in the room, and turning it around to straddle it. Marshmallows. Right. As if Kudo being framed for murder wasn't weird enough, Agasa-hakase and the Kid certainly were. "Alright. Just how did you and Hakase become such good friends anyway?"
"Long story." the Kid flicked his wrist, a small round crystal about the size of a tennis ball appearing in his hand. He played with it almost idly, rolling the ball around his hands and between his fingers in ways that appeared to defy gravity and the laws of physics. "Which can be summed thusly."
The Osaka detective nodded, frown gracing his features as he stretched out his legs and got comfortable.
"Agasa-hakase has known the Kid for longer than you'd probably believe," the Kid began, the clear sphere flowing from hand to hand like a crystal water droplet. "Trading gadgets for information and assistance, much like he does with Kudo now. Nothing illegal, mind you. So when Kudo's *ahem* -small- problem came up, he naturally turned to me for help."
"With what?" Heiji frowed suspicously.
One deep cerulean eye peeked out from under the brim of the white hat. "You don't honestly think that the paperwork allowing 'Edogawa Conan' to go to school and function as a normal member of society appeared by magic, do you?"
"Err..." He hadn't quite thought of that.
The thief chuckled. "Forgery isn't my specialty, mind you. I ended up having to take a peek at Kudo's records to make sure I got them right. That's when I discovered something odd, which is what I'm figuring Agasa-hakase wants you to know about. Some of Kudo's records were incomplete. Nothing big; the hospital that he was supposedly born at had no records of him, there's no physical proof that he was born at all, that sort of thing. When I did a little bit more digging, I found two more people with records like that."
Heiji frowned, alarm bells going off in his head. "Three."
"Grand total of four people," he clarified. "You're missin' one."
The Kid gave him a knowing look that made the Osaka detective feel decidedly uncomfortable. "Get on with your story," he growled, eyes narrowing in a defensive glare.
Kid shrugged gamely. "Not much to tell. I did the forgeries and been keeping an eye on the on the ones I found ever since."
"And this has to do with Kudo's setup... how?"
"It doesn't," Agasa-hakase confirmed, walking into the room with three cups of steaming hot chocolate and a plate of brownies. "But unless I'm missing the mark, it's very similar to another story, ne Heiji-kun?"
Heiji's features came down in a deep scowl. Way too familiar. He'd only told the scientist about a private case he was working on when he reached a complete and utter frustrating dead end. Agasa-hakase occasionally picked up random bits of information that came in handy, and he had promised to send any information his way - but this wasn't quite what he had in mind when he had asked for help. "Ya mean he knows about-?"
"Bits and pieces. From his own experience." Agasa-hakase smiled into his moustache again, holding the tray up to the thief. The crystal ball vanished as the Kid gave the treats a quick once-over before reaching for a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
"Haibara didn't make the brownies, did she?" he asked warily.
"They're from Ran-kun," the scientist assured him. "I hid them from Ai-kun this afternoon, so you don't have to worry about them. And I'm afraid we're out of marshmallows; she's watching what I eat again."
The Kid laughed and eagerly took one of the large brownies, grinning like a child with a special treat as he dunked it into the hot cocoa and took a bite.
Agasa-hakase chuckled, bringing the tray over to Heiji. "He doesn't like to admit it, but he's got a weak spot for chocolate that's gotten him into trouble a few times," he whispered to the other boy, sounding much like a fond uncle. "Ai-kun's snuck a few nasties into the sweets before."
"Ah." Heiji nodded in confusion. He wasn't exactly sure what to make of sitting down and having a snack with a thief he was pretty sure he was supposed to be arresting, but he was pretty sure that there were worse things he could be doing.
"Why'd you want me to tell him about that?" Kid asked suspiciously, even as he looked more at ease then he had a right to as he devoured the treat.
"Heiji-kun has some information on that particular mystery that you may find useful." The usually absent-minded looking professor had a knowing gleam in his eye. "And since you claim not to be a detective-" the thief made a face, affirming the statement, "-the information should more than make up for your lack of 'deduction' abilities."
"Oi." Heiji shot a glare at Agasa-hakase. "What's in it for me? By all rights, I should be bustin' his butt for even bein' in public in that ridiculous outfit."
A frosty glare the Phantom Thief shot him made him reel backwards a bit in surprise, sweatdropping again. Open mouth, insert foot...
Agasa-hakase ignored the silent interplay, calmly sipping his hot chocolate. "I'm proposing a truce," he announced. "Heiji-kun tells Kid-kun about that case-" a stern look in his direction, "-and Kid-kun tells Heiji-kun what happened to clear Shin'ichi-kun's name." Another stern look, but this time in the Kid's direction.
The Kid was silent, an introspective look on his face while he thoughtfully chewed on a bite of brownie. "I don't like this," he finally announced, speaking slowly. "There's too much at stake for things to go wrong now, but..." he trailed off, an almost protective gleam in his hard gaze as he looked at Heiji squarely. "I'm in."
Heiji had to admit that he didn't like this either. Working with a wanted thief rubbed him the wrong way, but on the other hand, he didn't have any other leads to clear Kudo either. All of his other tips had fizzled out, which was what brought him to Agasa-hakase's in the first place. He was between a rock and a hard place.
"Alright," he agreed. "Truce. For now. But as soon as we've got whoever did this, all bets are off and I'm trackin' you down."
The Kid smirked mockingly back.
Agasa-hakase sweatdropped. "Oi, oi..." he looked between the two grinning teenagers before sighing, realizing that there probably wasn't a way around the clashing of egos. "Heiji-kun, if you would start from the beginning?" he requested, looking grateful for the distraction at hand.
"Right." The Osaka-jin leaned forward, resting his elbows on his thighs, resting the mug of cocoa in his hands between his knees. "A few months back, I started ta get a little curious about some things that just didn't seem to fit. Primarily the fact I've never seen pictures of my Grandfather, whom I supposedly get my dark colourin' from. A little diggin' showed that there weren't any baby pictures either. There were a few of 'Kaasan pregnant, but none of her in the hospital."
"Let me guess," the Kid commented, not exactly unkindly, his legs tucked up on a stool rung in a relaxed manner. "You're adopted."
"And then some." He nodded, rubbing the back of his neck. Even though it had been several months since he'd found out, it still felt like a raw wound in his side. It didn't help that he was telling his most guarded secret to a thief either. The things he did for Kudo... "I discovered a book in my father's drawers, a journal written by his brother. Never knew Oton had a brother before. Turns out he never mentioned it cause while he joined the Force, his brother joined a criminal syndicate. But the real shock was when I started readin' it..."
He trailed off again, gathering his thoughts. The Kid was thankfully quiet as he did so, watching him with too-wise eyes under the brim of his hat.
"Oton's brother went by the code name 'Tequila', in a crime syndicate you may be familiar with. They wear all black." He finally commented.
"The same ones who shrunk Kudo?" Kid queried.
He gave a short jerk of his head, motioning towards Agasa-hakase. "We think so. No evidence yet, they hide themselves pretty well."
Kid nodded, saying nothing.
"Shin'ichi-kun's predicament was the by-product of looking for ways to create immortality," Asaga-hakase supplied. "Not that you would know anything about something like that, would you Kid-kun?"
The Kid flashed a too-innocent grin. "Me? Never..."
Heiji squirreled this tidbit of information in the back of his head to muse over later. "Before they could work on creatin' eternal life, they did experiments on -creatin'- life," he continued. "Genetic human constructs, from the DNA on up. Created ta be the reincarnations of some of the greatest literary minds ever created. The first being Sherringford Holmes, the predecessor to the Sherlock Holmes we're more familiar with."
The thief's eyes practically -glowed- at the information, and Heiji realized with a jolt that the Kid was probably much more familiar with the case than he was telling.
"There was some sort of flaw in Sherringford, they forgot somethin' essential when programming the intellect. That was to be expected, which is why they started out with Sherringford. Then they began work on Sherlock Holmes, only to have somethin' un-expected happen. The cells didn't divide up like they were supposed to, but split into a two separate entities. Twins."
"Twins?!" Kid's eyes widened a fraction, his skin turning a few shades paler.
"Identical twins," he confirmed, noting the odd reaction. "In a pique of humour, for lack of a better term, they turned one into Sherlock Holmes, and the other into Arséné Lupin, sort of a yin-yang type of thing. The most famous detective and thief as twins..." He narrowed his eyes at the thief, a small click falling to place in the back of his head. The Kid looked to be roughly their age as well, now that he was able to look at him somewhat up close.
"Oi, roll up your right sleeve a second, will ya?" he requested.
The Kid shot him a blank look, his mouth full of brownie. "Bwah?"
"Each of the experiments has a similar distinctive scar." He pulled back the sleeve on his right arm, showing off a scar that looked like a hook or an upside down question mark on the back of it, about half the length of his thumb. "Looks like that."
An eyebrow rose as deft gloved fingers undid the buttons on the jacket sleeve and dress shirt of the thief's right arm. "Nope." The Kid raised it in the air, not offering to come any closer as he rotated the arm at the elbow to show the un-blemished skin of his forearm. "No scar there."
So much for that theory. He shrugged. "After the sudden appearance of the other twin, they decided ta make one last back-up in the batch, Ellery Queen. Evidently they didn't like Peroit's stuffy attitude."
"Wasn't Ellery Queen two people?" Kid inquired, buttoning up his sleeve again. "A father-son team?"
"Uh, yeah..." He blinked, taken back. Ellery Queen was not a topic of conversation he ever thought he would have with a thief.
"What?" the Kid grinned, almost the mocking smirk he was famous for. "Thieves aren't supposed to read detective novels?"
Agasa-hakase covered up a snicker with his cup of cocoa.
"Um... anyway.... Back to Tequila..." He shook his head; this wasn't the time to get distracted. "He may have been workin' for the Syndicate as one of the major baddies, but evidently somethin' about creatin' and playin' with life rubbed him the wrong way. Near as I can figure he had a weakness for children, and didn't want to see kids raised in that kind of environment. So he went to his brother, who was still just a cop at the time and made a deal to smuggle the kids out. He'd have them raised by extraordinary couples that didn't or couldn't have kids of their own."
"Such as Kudo Yuusaku and Yukiko." Kid grinned. "Bet they disappeared and travelled around so much that no one would be able to tell if she was pregnant beore or not."
"Actually, they had a coupla months ta pull it off and prepare." He smirked back. "Humans aren't created overnight, especially not with the materials they had then. It's a freakin' miracle that they were able to accomplish what they did at that time."
"True." Agasa-hakase nodded, looking nostalgic.
"Anyway, Mom had been pregnant, but lost the baby before it was born. So they adopted me when they had the chance, and I guess Kudo went to his folks, so my problem now is that I haven't a clue where the other two ended up." Heiji sighed, reaching up to fiddle with his cap. "It wasn't written down, for fear that someone besides one of the kids found it. So I don't know who or how they're doin'."
"I know who they are," Kid said quietly, looking into his hot chocolate, as if contemplating something. He glanced up, sharp violet eyes catching his for moment, as if weighing him in their depths. "They're both doing well, driving everyone around them crazy. Rather like you and Kudo actually, top of the class and everything."
Heiji's green eyes peered back. "You're not gonna tell me who they are, are you?" he questioned with a sinking feeling. So close, yet so far.
The Kid sparkled back. "Maybe later!" he winked. "Have to keep some aces up my sleeves, you know."
"Right." Stupid thief. He made a mental note to either get the information from the thief or to kick his ass before this was over. "Oton and Tequila went their separate ways again after the kids made it safely to their new homes. There was a quiet uproar at the syndicate as well, but somehow they managed to trick 'em into thinkin' that all four infants died, so Tequila was never suspected. Our Kudo met him shortly after his -small- problem arose, just long enough to see him get blown to smithereens by a bomb, so Tequila's a dead end."
The Kid opened his mouth, then shut it, most likely biting his tongue on a comment. "Anything else?" he asked diplomatically.
Heiji shrugged, not feeling very forthcoming at the moment. He'd fulfilled his end of the bargain anyway.
The thief nodded, then flipped the last of his brownie in the air and caught it in his mouth with a pleased snap of teeth. "Then I guess we'd best get down to the business of clearing Kudo's name before the squirt has a heart attack. If he hasn't already."
"Good." Kid seemed pleased. "What do you need to know?"
"Everythin'. Any and every little detail."
"Detail, huh?" The Kid looked thoughtful for a moment. "Well, I'm not much of a storyteller-" Heiji got the feeling that was likely a lie or at least a vast understatement "-or a detective, but I AM a showman. You know where 'Kudo' killed the victim?"
"Yeah...." he replied warily.
"Great." the Kid hopped off the stool with cat-like grace. "I'll meet you on the rooftop above the scene. Half an hour enough time?"
"Wait, what are you up to?" He rose as well, just in case the thief made a break for it. He doubted he was as fast or agile as the slippery Kid, but he was sure that his kendo skills could amount to something.
The Kid beamed in response. "I'm going to do you one better."
He blinked. That was... new. "I'd really prefer if we went together then." He scowled, fighting un-ease in the pit of his stomach. "I don't want you out of my sight."
"Afraid I'm going to run off before fulfilling my end of the bargain?" Kid teased. Agasa-hakase sweatdropped and held up a hand to try to forestall the upcoming argument.
The thief raised an eyebrow. "It's not like I can just go walking around on the street like this," he pointed out.
"You are a master of disguise, are you not?"
"You WANT me to dress in drag?"
Heiji blinked again, not quite how to respond to that one.
"Maa, maa..." Agasa-hakase stepped between them. "Heiji-kun, Kid-kun will keep his end of the deal-"
"It's okay, Hakase," Kid cut him off with a slightly bittersweet but still friendly grin. "Honour of Thieves and all that, right?"
"Kid-kun..." Agasa-hakase looked sad at the comment.
Kid winked, and pulled a white card out of mid-air. "Here. Will this be enough insurance for you?" A pen appeared the same way and the kaitou leaned over a desk to scribble on it before handing it to him.
Heiji took the card and looked it over. It matched the description of a typical Kid Note, right down to the grinning figure in the corner, stating plainly that the Kid would meet 'one Hattori Heiji' tonight on a rooftop above the crime scene at 23:53.
The Kid had yet to miss arriving for one of his notes, even if sometimes the meaning of his notes was obscure enough to confuse people. "Yeah..." he said slowly, pocketing the note. He was sure that there was a way for the thief to worm his way out of it, but he couldn't spot any tricks in the wording.
"Good," the Kid smiled, all cheerful again. "I'm counting on your Detectives' Code of Honour, or what ever you want to call it, that you won't be tipping anyone off to my appearance. While I -do- enjoy a challenge, in this case it would be counter-productive for both of us."
"I'll keep my end." Heiji growled gruffly. "Just keep yours."
"Heh." Kid saluted them, turning to head for the window. "See you later, Hakase!" He called cheerfully; ignoring the fierce glare the detective was shooting him. "I'll ask Mom about those fat-free brownies, okay?"
"Thank you, Kid-kun! Take care!" Agasa-hakase waved back at the thief vanished into the night, like the phantom that was his namesake.
Heiji snorted and turned to walk out the door. "He's not a bad person, Heiji-kun." Agasa-hakase informed him, following.
"I figured that much," Heiji sighed, his shoulders slumping as the scientist escorted him out. It was rather hard to reconcile that with the fact that for all intents and purposes, he was supposed to be catching the thief instead of making friends with him. The whole situation was making him nervous. "Tell Kudo that sometime," he grumbled, taking protection in surliness. "He's gonna throw a shit-fit when he finds out the Kaitou Kid is a frequent visitor to your house."
"Infrequent," Agasa-hakase corrected absentmindedly. "But I doubt he would complain about the gizmos he has, eh?"
"Huh?" Heiji blinked.
"Where do you think I got the idea for a voice changer in the first place?" Agasa-hakase winked. "Or the sleeping darts? And Kid-kun was nice enough to help me out with both of those; I never would have gotten the range of voices so quickly otherwise. And he donated the first batch of sleeping serum before I figured out my own."
"You're sayin' that Kudo's detective devices-"
"Were modified off the Kid, yes. He's very creative." Agasa-hakase sighed lustfully. "You should see the things his father used to come up with. Flamboyant, but they worked so very well in unexpected ways..."
Heiji stared at the scientist as if he had just found out that the absent-minded doctor was an alien from outer space. Not only had the doctor been a friend of the Kaitou Kid -for two generations- but the Kid himself was helping the detectives from behind the scenes!
"Oh, don't look so surprised Heiji-kun." Agasa-hakase cheerfully scolded. "This may come as a shock, but you don't know -everything-. And Kid-kun is really a nice boy doing the best he can in some tough situations. Lighten up! Who knows? You may get a friend out of it."
Agasa-hakase patted him on the back and ushered him out of the house, barely giving him time to slip his sneakers on before firmly shutting the door behind him.
Belatedly, Heiji realized that neither of them had asked that he not pass on word of just what Agasa-hakase was doing...
Yet at the same time, he realized that he probably wouldn't anyway.
"Question for you." The moonlit clad thief spoke without glancing backwards as Heiji made his way across the roof. The thief had a foot propped up on the edge of the rooftop, looking down at the crime scene below, where policemen were still wandering around and fending off reporters.
"What kinda question?" Heiji asked back suspiciously, walking over to the roof's edge, but far enough away so that they both felt 'safe'.
"The other three... what do you call them?" The Kid's voice held friendly curiosity.
"Well, you are all from the same experiment, right? So doesn't that make you all related to each other or something?" the Kid asked, turning slightly to face him, the monocle catching the light and glowing like a deamon's eye. "Brothers, cousins, half-siblings, not at all?"
"Well..." He paused, thinking it over. The thief had a point. He'd been thinking of the other three as 'family', but hadn't given them a name past that. "Kudo and whoever Lupin is are definitely brothers. They're twins, ya can't get much closer than that. But as far as the others... If we'd been brought up together, then I think we'd be brothers. But with everyone having different parents now and all, I guess I'd call us cousins."
"Cousins..." The Kid appeared to roll the word around in his head, enjoying the sound of it. He grinned, an actual happy expression instead of the smug smrik he seemed to always have. "I'm sure they'll be glad to hear that." Kid beamed. Heiji blinked, surprised by the response. The thief seemed rather pleased about it.
A little too pleased. Suspicion rose in the back of his mind. "As long as we're askin' questions, here's one for you."
An eyebrow rose. "Oh?"
"Just why do you seem to follow Kudo around anyway? Most people barely catch a glimpse of you once, even if they're followin' you around and yet he's run into you what, three times now? And you've masqueraded as both Ran and Mouri. Kind of makes one wonder."
"Four if you count when he was still himself," the Kid corrected with a slight grin. "And as my dearly departed father told me, 'When in front of an audience, never sneeze or get angry, -know your enemies,- and never forget Poker Face.'"
"He's an enemy?"
"Well, he's something alright..." the Kid grinned, then let out a chuckle, shooting him a rueful grin that made him look almost human. "You're dangerous, you know that? Got that whole 'tell me anything, I won't tell a soul' feeling around you. No wonder Kudo trusts you with his secrets. Few minutes with you and you already know more than the Bird-brain does."
Heiji blinked, surprised by the compliment. "Bird-brain?" He echoed.
"How good are you at sneaking?" Kid asked, abruptly ignoring the question as he straightened up, the cool facade slipping back into place as it if had never left.
"Uh... decent. Why?"
The Kid grinned, somehow appearing to vanish without moving. "Meet you down in the alley. If you can make it."
Heiji blinked, and he was alone. "Dammit!"
Heiji felt the hairs on the back of his neck prick up. The alleyway was dark and cold, illuminated by the dim glow of the lights on the street and the flashing of the lone police car still blocking entrance from rubberneckers. "Kid?" he hissed, just under his breath, mentally cursing himself. This Was Not Good. What the hell was he doing, sneaking into a crime scene, just to meet an internationally wanted criminal? The thief could easily have ditched him here in the shadows, or alert the officers to his trespassing. He somehow doubted they'd appreciate his help.
There wasn't much in the alley. There were lots of footmarks in the dust of the street, most likely the police officers, and the tape outlines of the where the body had fallen still lay there. He leaned over and inspected it, mindful of the dark puddle of dried blood that still clung to the ground. Not much information for him to analyze.
A footstep behind him caused him to jump slightly, and slowly rise. Someone was walking towards him, concealed in the shadows. "Kid?" He breathed, eyes narrowing to peer into the shadows. It was male, and by their outline, not one of the uniformed officers. A detective perhaps?
The person got closer and the bottom of Heiji's gut nearly fell out as his eyes went wide in surprise. "k-Kudo?! What are you doin' here?!"
The other teenager moved into a lighter patch of light and his brain informed him that there was no way that it could be Kudo back to his proper size. Who ever it was moving stiffly, taking short brisk strides, while Kudo usually had a longer, lanky walk. The expression was all wrong as well.
Not Kudo then. "Kid?"
The Kudo look-alike looked at him, an almost sad expression on his face as he pulled a gun out of the jacket pocket. "Sorry about this." He apologized in a voice lighter than Kudo's as he levelled the gun towards Heiji's chest.
'Oh shit, oh shitohshitshitshit-' He had just enough time to mentally curse blindly following the thief here before the finger on the trigger twitched, sending a projectile speeding towards him.
He flinched as he was hit in the chest once, then again. Silence filled the alley as his blood buzzed in his ears and he realized he wasn't dead. He blinked, muscles slowly unclenching as he looked down to find two velcro tipped foam darts clinging to his shirt, one hanging right were his heart was.
The tape outline of the woman's body lay at his feet like a gory shadow. Oh... shit.
The Kudo look-alike continued walking, picking up the pace as he passed him and continued into the darker parts of the alley, staggering a bit as if blinded. Feeling very, very cold, as if he were full of ice water, Heiji followed him, his own feet unsteady as he moved.
'Kudo' paid no attention to him as he continued down the alleys, taking a few twists and turns. Somehow they managed to avoid any patrolling cops or other late-night walkers, be it a miracle or meticulous planning.
A few blocks away, the fake Kudo stumbled into a dark patch of shadows, seeming to disappear again. There were some muffled noises from inside, and for some reason, Heiji got the feeling of the person putting a disguise -on- instead of taking one off.
"I'm afraid here is where it gets a little blurry." The Kid's voice apologised from the shadow and he startled a bit.
"What the hell didja think ya were doin'?!" He demanded, taking refuge in anger to cover the fright he had felt, still felt, coursing through his veins. "And ya shot me!"
"I told you I wasn't much of a storyteller," the Kid admonished, stepping back into the lighter area of the alley, causing him to nearly do a double take. "But I am one -hell- of a showman."
For one thing, the Kid was now female. And about fiveteen years older. Round face, medium length reddish hair and brown eyes. Probably working class, Heiji analyzed. A shopping bag held in one arm most likely carried the weapon and 'Kudo' disguise. "I'm afraid I didn't hear her speak, but this is what they looked like when I saw them again."
It was down right disturbing hearing the Kid's voice coming out of a woman's body. He even had nylons on. He didn't want to think about what else the Kid was probably wearing to pull that disguise off.
"Did you get the information you need?" The thief's voice was curious, just tinted with humour.
"Ahou!" He lunged toward the thief, grabbing a fist full of collar and pulling the Kid towards him so that they were nose to nose. Getting shot, sneaking into a crime scene, risking arrest, for THAT? "What the hell were ya thinkin'?!"
Someone cleared their throat behind them and he had a moment of foreboding doom. "Seigen-san!!" A drunkenly slurred voice called. "Whadda doin' here?"
Kid blinked. Heiji blinked. They looked up to see several men dressed in business suits of various disarray. They didn't look happy to see what appeared to be a teenage punk harassing their female friend. Kid chuckled nervously.
"It's not what it looks like," Heiji said quickly, releasing his grip on the Kid, suddenly overly conscious of the realization that the thief was wearing a bra, which was full and it jiggled a bit under that blouse. He held his hands up in an appeasing gesture, taking a step back.
The men swept past him, dragging 'Seigen-san' along with them as they headed off to another bar to soothe the supposed woman's nerves with a drink, shooting death glares at him the entire time. Kid meekly went with them, his voice low and soft as he nodded and went along with them.
It wasn't until after they'd disappeared from view that Heiji realized that the Kid had managed to escape from him.
Heiji took off running after them. They didn't get very far, the first bar he ducked his head into he could see them talking. The Kid, still in his disguise, sat in their midst pouring drinks for them with a demure air.
He frowned, walking in and lightly rapped the thief on top of the head with his knuckles. "Oi."
The Kid looked up, the wig sliding backwards, red strands catching slighting on Heiji's fingers before falling off completely.
Chaos erupted around them.
The Kid lay flat on his back on top of the rooftop, his arms stretched out as if to embrace the sky, and laughed his head off.
On his left, Heiji did the same, his hat pushed forward over his eyes obscuring his view. "I can't believe..." he snickered, "we did that."
"What? Get into a bar fight?" Kid not-quite giggled. "Or escape before the cops arrive?"
The Osaka boy waved a hand around, laughing easily. "Everythin'! Do ya do this often?"
"Not if I can help it. Although..." The Kid's grin grew fond "This was -nothing- compared to some of the Kaitou Kid Task Force parties. THEY know how to party hard."
"You go to those?"
He opened his mouth to retort and ended up laughing instead. It made sense, in a twisted sort of fashion. It was being held in the thief's honour anyway. He changed the subject "That still was pretty funny though. The look on that one guys face..."
They started snickering again. It was rare that someone turned that shade of green so fast. But attempting to hit the kaitou for it had been a bit much. Even if the Kid had dodged.
Resulting in the table they'd been sitting at to flip, launching its contents across the room.
The resulting brawl had been short, but long enough for some fists to fly and some major chaos, during which the Kid had grabbed him and taken off running. Which had been a good thing, all things considered.
"Thanks for the assist, by the way." Heiji grinned.
"Welcome," the Kid snickered. "Not sure I should thank you for 'upholding my honour' or not."
Heiji snickered again. Shouting 'It's not nice to hit a lady!' while cramming some nearby wasabi and slightly squished sushi down a guys shirt had been highly entertaining
The two of them relaxed a moment more, waiting for the adrenaline rush and the snickers to fade before moving on.
After a while, the Kid sighed, holding up his left arm with dry amusement. There was a slice halfway up his forearm, causing the sleeve to almost fall off his arm. "Great. Looks like I get to do some sewing tonight."
Heiji chuckled, reaching over to lazily flick the draping fabric with a finger. "At least it's a clean cut."
"I guess-" Kid was cut off in mid-sentence as Heiji suddenly grabbed his arm, so tight it most likely hurt as he sat up to peer into the thief's face. "What?!" Kid snapped irritably, sitting up as well, the hat shadowing his face once more.
"You said you didn't have the scar!" Heiji accused hotly, jabbing a finger at the pale mark in the thief's skin.
"I said I didn't have the scar on my other arm," the Kid retorted, yanking his arm out of the Osaka-jin's grasp and rising to his feet. "I never said I didn't have it."
"Then you... you..." Heiji stammered as he rose as well. Pieces clicked and fell into place. "You're the one based off of Lupin!"
The Kid stayed silent as he glanced away, the granite-like expression on his face was more than enough evidence for the detective. "This is great!" Heiji exclaimed, a grin splitting his face. "Kudo's twin! He's gonna flip!"
This time the Kid grabbed the Detective's arm in an unshakeable grasp. "You can -not- tell him." The words were flat, but a sense of urgency from the dark eyes drew Heiji up short.
"What?!" Heiji looked at him in shock. "He's your BROTHER! Why wouldn't you want him to know?"
"Think about it!" the Kid growled, defensive and uncomfortable with the topic. "How did you react when you found out?!"
Heiji froze, recalling the feeling of betrayal, his whole world flipped around, not knowing who he was anymore, or even if anyone mattered at all.
"Would you deny him the one thing that has remained stable in his life?" the Kid asked softly, releasing his grip on him. "Since his first incident with the men in the black suits, he still knew that his parents were his family, even when everything else has been turned on its ear. Take that away and..." He trailed off, obviously not wanting to continue that train of thought.
"Ah, it doesn't matter anyway." The Kid let out a deep sigh, dismissing it with a wave of his hand, his voice light and airy again. "When you get right down to it, he's a tantei, and I'm a kaitou. His code of ethics won't allow him to do anything other than his best to catch me, regardless of any other circumstances, same as you. Besides, what am I supposed to do? Lead him on a merry battle of wits then at the climatic head of it confess-"
He took a deep breath, as if straining to breathe through a machine as he posed, on hand out in front of him as if beckoning. "-Kudo... I am your brother..."
The Kid did a fair impression of Darth Vader, Heiji noted as a bead of sweat slid down the back of his head. "That's true..." He admitted. "This... is gonna take some time to absorb..." It rubbed him the wrong way, keeping family from each other. But at the same time, the Kid had a valid point. He certainly illustrated it with his own less than trusting behaviour in the past several hours.
"That's fine." The Kid waved it off, taking a deep breath, the cold mask Heiji had seen at the beginning settling over his features again. "It's late, or early, depending on your perspective and our business deal has been concluded. So I shall wish you a good day and pleasant dreams." The white clad thief moved towards the rooftop, fastening a belt around his waist as he did so.
"Kid, just a moment." Heiji frowned, brows coming down over his eyes. "Please."
The thief paused a moment, one hand on the trigger that probably activated the glider.
"Our deal has been concluded," he said cautiously, "but I'd like to strike a new agreement."
"A new agreement?" The Kid looked faintly surprised.
He shrugged, a faint grin growing across his face. "Well, we're after the same thing, aren't we? To find out more about our family?"
The Kid was so still, so silent, for a moment Heiji was afraid he'd read him wrong. Then softly, "Family?"
"What I'm thinkin' is this..." He shoved his hands in his pockets, relaxing now that he knew he had the thief's attention. "You help me get Kudo off the hook, I'll share any information I get about our... cousins. And vice versa."
A hand reached up and fiddled with the brim of the hat. "A temporary truce?"
"At least on this?" He realized that his voice had taken on a bit of a begging tone, but ignored it. Family was Family, even if the circumstances were bizarre. He at least wanted the chance to know this mercurial cousin. And from what he had picked up while at Agasa-hakase's, family was equally important to the Kid. "We can do a trial run until Kudo is clear."
Kid nodded, pulling the hat lower. "Deal." A small smile seemed to flicker across his face. "Where do you want to meet tomorrow night? You'll have to pardon me if I don't give you a way to contact me during the day."
"You need your beauty sleep anyway." He smirked back. "With looks like Kudo and all."
The Kid snorted, and Heiji couldn't quite tell if he was amused by the comment or not so he let it slide. "Agasa-hakase's okay, just after dark? Neutral territory and we can pass information on through him. Also that way we can change locations if needed."
"Sounds fair," the Kid mused. "But if anything seems out of place, I'm gone."
"Agreed." He was rather surprised and pleased by the fact that the skittish thief had agreed to meet again at all. "Hey, just in case it comes up, is it okay if I tell Kudo that we're workin' together on this?"
The Phantom Thief paused, as if surprised by the question. Finally he shrugged fatalistically. "Really doesn't matter, he'll probably find out eventually. Your call. Just keep any possible reasons for my doing so out of it." There was steel in the tone that brooked no argument there. "That's between myself and... my brother."
"I don't like keepin' him in the dark about this, y'know." Heiji commented "But if I can keep Kudo's secrets, I guess I can keep yours. Fer now anyway."
"Hmph." The other boy snorted. He brushed the tip of his hat in salute, then tossed himself off the building, the glider snapping open and carrying him away.
A grin split across Heiji's face as he watched the thief glide away. "Doesn't mean I won't tease you about it... cousin."
"Heya, Kudo." Heiji grinned, leaning over the small detective, who was curled up on the sofa. Ran was most likely in her room upstairs, and he could hear Mouri-san snoring even from downstairs, leaving the smallest member standing watch, so to speak. "How's it goin'?"
Deep-set tired eyes, dull from weariness answered his question more eloquently than words could have. "Tell me you have a lead."
"Better than that." He grinned, eager to share his good news. "I have a witness who not only saw the whole thin', but them takin' off the makeup and what they really look like."
"Really?" Kudo lit up like a light bulb. "That's GREAT! All we have to do is take him to Megure-keibu and have him go through the-"
Heiji cleared his throat. "It's not quite that simple."
"Huh?" Confusion replaced euphoria on the young-old face.
He scratched the back of his neck, causing his hat to slide up and down on his head and sighed. "The problem is, I can't take them into the police."
"Why not?" Kudo's brows came down in a puzzled frown. "Don't tell me it was a dog."
"No, it wasn't a dog..." Somehow, he got the feeling that the Kid would take offense to be being called a dog. Cat might be okay, but not a dog.
"Can't take to the police, not an animal..." Kudo's eyes widened for a fraction of a second before his head jerked up to look at him in the face. "Who is it?" He demanded.
Heiji sweatdropped. Damn, he'd forgotten just how much alike he and Kudo thought... He -couldn't- keep a secret from the other detective, he'd be able to deduce it in a matter of time.
The Kid was Kudo's twin... did that mean they'd end up being able to know what the other was thinking as well? "Maa maa... Relax, Kudo. It's not that bad." He chuckled, trying to calm down his friend.
"Hattori." For being in such a small body, Kudo's growl was exceptionally dangerous sounding, especially when impatient and worried. "Who. Is. It?"
He sighed, already knowing he wasn't going to take this well. "The Kaitou Kid."
"KID?!" Kudo's voice was almost a yelp. "Hattori, are you INSANE?! How the heck did you-"
"Shhhh!" he hissed. Jeez, the last thing they needed was for Kudo's caterwauling to wake up Kogoro... "He volunteered, alright? He's got information I don't have and I have information he doesn't have, so we're trackin' them down together."
"Thieves don't just 'volunteer'," Kudo growled, his high voice pitched low. "And you're a Detective, Hattori! You don't make deals with wanted criminals!"
"I know that!" he snapped back, even as he felt a sweatdrop slide down the back of his head. Between Agasa-hakase's and finding out that the Kid was related, it had sort of slipped his mind that the Kid was also an internationally wanted criminal. Heck, he'd even begun to enjoy the thief's company, at least for a little while there...
"I don't get it." Kudo ran a hand through his bangs, looking like his head hurt to think so hard before looking at him with piercing eyes. "What does he get in exchange?"
"Exchange?" He shifted, hoping the other boy didn't notice his discomfort.
"People like him don't work without some sort of compensation," Kudo continued ruthlessly. "What was his price?"
"I told you." Heiji shot back defensively. "He volunteered."
"Hattori." Kudo caught his eye and they had a miniature clash of wills, Kudo demanding and he refusing. It was a loosing battle, and he knew it. Dammit, and it did no good to lie anyway, Kudo'd just worry about it more until he got some information to sink his claws into.
"Aa." He broke contact first, glancing away, shaking his shoulders in a defensive gesture. "There's a price."
Kudo waited, not quite patiently.
"But... I can't tell you." he admitted slowly. "It's my price to pay, not yours."
"Dammit, Kudo! That IS the price!" Heiji snapped. "Yeah, I know why the Kid's doin' this, yeah, I know why he's keepin' an eye on you, yeah, I know the questions you're lookin' for, but I CAN'T TELL YOU WHAT THEY ARE!"
Kudo took a step back, his eyes wide, suddenly looking like the young child he appeared to be. "Hattori..."
He snorted, shoving his hands in his pockets as he glanced out the window as he attempted to reign in his temper.
The other detective sighed, reaching out and brushing the side of his jacket in a silent apology. He snorted and shot a small flash of a grin back. Apology accepted.
"What's your problem with the Kid anyway?" Heiji asked, in a calmer tone. He knew he had a short temper, but it usually cooled fairly quickly, given half a chance. "Yeah, he's a law-breaker, but he's not goin' around killing people either. And he's helped out before."
Kudo snorted, looking very weary and tired as he looked at the floor. "That's the problem right there. Most people think he's some sort of ghost, yet it's almost like he's following me sometimes. And He knows... He knows who I am, even impersonated me before, and I don't know how he knows or why..."
"And he hasn't told anyone either, has he?" He gave a sarcastic half chuckle. Kudo was afraid of his own brother. But he felt safe enough around him, who wasn't as closely related. Really, could this whole family relations thing get any more messed up?
Kid had also mentioned that he was keeping an eye on their other 'cousin'. Did that mean that their other cousin knew who Kid was under that monocle, possibly even helping him? Or were they in the dark as well, like Kudo? "And I thought I was having family problems before..." he muttered to himself, rubbing his eyes.
"Hattori?" Kudo's voice was concerned. He glanced down to see Kudo looking at him like he was seeing him for the first time in a while. "Is everything alright? You're looking a little worn down."
"Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine." He waved it off. "It's just been a long couple of weeks, y'know?"
"Why don't you crash on the sofa tonight?" Kudo motioned towards the now abandoned piece of furniture. "Unless you've got some more leads to follow tonight?"
"No, not until tomorrow." A yawn blindsided him, and suddenly the sofa was looking pretty good, even if he knew that it had a highly vindictive personality for sleeping on, taking great delight in jabbing things in his side. "Mind if I crash at your house? Don't really feel like havin' Kazuha track me down ta chew me out for runnin' over here again."
"Yeah, not a problem." The concerned/suspicious look didn't leave the smaller boy's eyes. "You know where the key is hidden, right?"
Back porch, second loose brick from the bottom on the left. "In my sleep." He nodded, turning towards the door. "See ya later, Kudo. Try to stay out of trouble this time, alright?"
"Yeah. You do the same, Hattori."
He waved at the still-standing figure behind him and opened the door, shutting it softly behind him. Man... he was beat. He really should have waited before springing that one on Kudo, but he needed to pass along the good news too...
"Heiji-kun?" A soft voice jolted him awake, and he glanced up to see Ran in a bathrobe standing on the stairs, looking worried. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, 'Neechan. Just great." He dredged up a smile for her. "Was just tellin' Ku-Conan-kun that I found a witness who can prove that Kudo didn't do it. Figured you could use some good news when you woke up."
She beamed at him, her face lighting up as it looked like a heavy weight had been lifted off her shoulders. "That's wonderful, Heiji-kun! Thank you!"
He shrugged it off. "Maa ne. He'd do the same for me." A yawn blind-sided him, causing him to pause until it was over. "Anyway, I'm off before I fall over. G'night, 'Neechan."
"Good night, Heiji-kun." She smiled softly.
He had just turned to leave again, when a gentle touch on his arm stopped him. He paused to find Ran standing next to him, her hand resting on his sleeve. "'Neechan?"
"I know... I know I'm not Kazuha. But if there's something bothering you, you do know you can talk to me, right?" she asked, warmth and sisterly concern radiating off her.
"Yeah..." He smiled at her, a real one this time, touched by her friendship. "Actually, I haven't even told Kazuha yet... the ahou's prolly worried about it too..." For a moment, he was half tempted to tell her. To tell someone who he -knew- was a friend, not just a white clad thief whose real name he didn't even know. He shrugged, laughing it off. "But it's nothin' really. I'll figure it out. Don't worry about it 'Neechan. Ya got enough to worry about with Kudo and all."
"Hmm..." She smiled, a tender one that he recognised as her thinking of Kudo. Stupid ahou was so lucky, and didn't even realise it... Moron. He should pound some sense into him.
... Later. He -was- tired. And he hadn't been kidding when he said it had been a long day.
Ran patted his arm, smiling for him. "Just so you long as you know that we're here for you too."
"I do. Thanks, 'Neechan."
"You're welcome, Heiji-kun." She smiled again, turning to head into the office, most likely to put 'Conan' to bed. He watched her disappear into the darkened room before heading down the stairs again.
Stupid ahou. The lot of them. Himself included.
~ To Be Continued ~
Oton: Kansai-ben for 'Father'
This is actually the first chapter, but it got so long we divided it up into two. Next will be the rest of this, then 'For Friends', 'For Family', and there's already one follow up to the story done. Fanart can be found on Mischif.net
And we're off to Japan until late April, so won't be posting anything for a while. ^__^ Sorry.
24 April 2003 - 31 March 2004