(Italics are Japanese)
Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence
Part One: For Educational Purposes
"Perhaps," I hinted darkly, "there may be an outcome of the expedition."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well," said I carelessly, "there seems a gap that might be filled by an exhaustive work on--"
"Oh! will you write a book?" she cried, clapping her hands. "That would be splendid, wouldn't it, Robert?"
Anthony Hope "The Prisoner of Zenda"
Their guide, Professor Martin, was a friendly looking foreigner with impeccable Japanese and a really silly coat. Well, Kaito supposed, the man wasn't really a foreigner, Kaito was actually the foreigner. They were in England after all.
"You'll be studying English conversation and composition as well as learning about British culture. We encourage you to interact with other students as much as possible. Don't just spend time with other Japanese," he chided. The rented bus they were riding topped a hill and the school came into view. Prof. Martin smiled and switched into English, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Eton College."
It was a scene right out of a painting or a recruitment brochure. Rolling green fields and stately trees, clusters of imposing gothic buildings and cobblestone walkways. A few people milled about dressed in formal uniforms like their guide, all stark black and white.
Kaito looked out into that sea of propriety and wondered just how he got himself into all of this.
* * *
"A study abroad?"
Jii studied the green felt of the billiard table before answering. It was late on a Friday night, maybe early Saturday morning by now. The place was closed and it was just the two of them. Jii was determined that Kaito learn how to play a real game of billiards if it killed both of them.
"Yes, Young Master Kaito. It would be good for your education, improve your language skills, broaden your horizons…"
Kaito snorted, "Not to mention giving Kaitou Kid the chance to be an international jewel thief again."
"I admit the thought occurred to me." Jii's hands that he wrung so worriedly during a heist were calm and steady as he lined up his shot. "Eight ball, corner pocket." And of course, it was.
"Well, I don't see any reason not too. It'd be cool to get out of Japan, see something new. Besides, I was reading about a jade exhibit at the British Museum…five ball, side pocket." And of course, it wasn't.
"England?" Jii frowned, "Your English is fairly good already. I was thinking Austria or Italy. Your father spoke half a dozen languages fluently, you know."
Kaito sighed, "I'm workin' on it. I'm workin' on it. Jeeze, just because a guy can turn into Kaitou Kid over night doesn't mean he can do it ALL that fast. One step at a time. Besides, France is close enough to go on a weekend if I need to hit two countries, I think."
"I suppose you have a point. Six ball in…what?" Jii looked down at the table to see that all the balls had been switched into different positions without him noticing.
"The hand is quicker than the eye," Kaito said with a wink. He pulled a cue ball out of midair and rolled it across his fingertips.
Jii was about to lecture him on fair play, but saw an excellent shot all lined up for him and decided to let it slide.
A few applications and a few months later, and here he was.
* * *
As a detective, Hakuba Saguru was deeply disappointed in The Confessions of Saint Augustine. It was far too wrapped up with concepts of God as an immaterial being and different sorts of love. Not that the man himself was to be blamed. It was just that Hakuba considered some things in life more interesting than others, and the study of theology wasn't.
He enjoyed his time in Japan where Theology and Latin weren't a part of the required curriculum. Well, the Latin was mildly interesting if ultimately useless. But Hakuba couldn't abide Theology. He didn't see the point of trying to define something that was, by definition, beyond the grasp of human understanding.
But it was standard, and if Hakuba wanted to pass his lower sixth year he had to show he was competent in it. In all honesty he was grateful that Eton was willing to let him make up the subjects he missed while studying in Japan. And he was even more grateful that his Tutor suggested a paper on sin as an absolute, using stealing as an example.
Not that Hakuba thought in terms of 'sin' so much. His absolutes had nothing to do with God.
He was trying to find a quote to buttress his point, his pen clenched in his teeth when there was a knock on the door.
"Mmf?" He put the pen down. "Yes?"
Oliver popped his head in, "Saguru? Me and Adam and James are going down to the dining hall for lunch. Want to come?"
Hakuba made a face at his research. "Anything sounds better than doing this." He stood up and stretched.
"Yes, well you didn't HAVE to go to Japan you know. Then you wouldn't have make up work. You could be lying about doing nothing but club activities like the rest of us staying the summer." Oliver said with an insolent grin
"I'm not going to dignify that with a remark."
Oliver nodded sagely and guided Hakuba out of the room. "Of course you're not. You never do."
They met up with the other boys and started the walk across the courtyard towards the dining hall. It really was a beautiful day. Not as hot as it could have been, with a mild breeze and clear skies. It felt good just to be outdoors.
"The soccer camp should be starting up soon. I think the last of the students from the special summer programs got here yesterday."
"Even the Japanese exchange students?"
"I think so."
"Hm. I didn't even notice." Hakuba usually make a point to at least introduce himself to the summer exchange students. Before he went to Japan he saw it as an opportunity to brush up on his Japanese while helping their English. Besides, he felt like he really had no connection to Japan, even though he'd been born there. It was at least one way to connect with his heritage. Now that he'd been to Japan and lived there for a semester, he knew what it was like to be a foreigner. And he knew how important having even a small connection with someone could be, and how hard it was to make one. He'd promised himself to try and do more with the exchange students this year.
"Ha, I knew it. See? That boy there, I think he's Japanese." James said, pointing.
And he was Japanese. In fact, the other boy looked awfully familiar. In fact he looked a lot like…
The boy spun, and it WAS Kuroba Kaito. He gaped, "Hakuba!? What the hell are you doing here?"
"Me!?" Hakuba spluttered, "This is MY school. What are YOU doing here?"
Kaito recovered from his surprise and grinned broadly, "Study abroad. Expanding my horizons. Learning about the great wide world. Dude, you look like a penguin."
Hakuba felt his ears turn pink. He was trying to think of a proper comeback when Oliver tugged on his sleeve. "Saguru, do you know him?"
"Err. Yes. He was at the school I studied at in Japan." He said mechanically. Even on auto pilot Hakuba's brain had impeccable manners. "Everyone, this is Kaito Kuroba. Kuroba, these are a few of my housemates, Oliver, James and Adam."
"Nice to meet you," Kaito said.
"You'll have to come over to our house sometime for a chat," said Oliver, "tell us all about Japan and all. Saguru hardly ever tells us anything."
Kaito looked completely lost and Hakuba fought the urge to sigh. He knew from experience the English ability of most High School students. "Oliver would like you to come visit our house sometime and tell him about Japan."
"Ohhhh. Yes please. I want to make new friends and study English and English culture." Kaito said in a stilted voice. It was really much better than most Japanese could manage, but still made Hakuba wince. He knew Kaito, and it was strange to hear him speaking with an adult's vocabulary and a three year old's grammar.
"Try to speak slowly and use simple words," Hakuba told the other boys. "They don't do a very good job of teaching English in Japan for the most part. And even when they DO do a good job, it's American English anyway. They think it's 'proper' English."
"Silly of them." Adam turned to Kaito and said very slowly and clearly, "Nice to meet you, Kaito. We're going to go eat lunch. Will you come with us?"
* * *
Kaito was at least as floored as Hakuba looked. He was just better at hiding it. Being a professional thief you learned fast how to keep your cool in strange situations. But honestly, honestly, what were the odds?
Things just got a hell of a lot more complicated.
For one thing, it would be a lot harder to plan a theft. He knew Hakuba already suspected him, and if he DID pull a heist it was just going to be ten times worse. He'd have to manage to be in two places at once somehow, or some kind of camouflage. It wouldn't be too hard normally, that kind of misdirection is child's play to a magician. The hand is quicker than the eye. The problem was that Hakuba's eyes were quicker than most.
And second, English, and remembering just how good he was supposed to be at it, was harder than he thought. Back when he was really little his Dad insisted on English lessons. And he'd kept up studying on his own. His English was really a LOT better than he was letting on. Kaito figured that a Kaitou Kid that spoke good English wouldn't be connected with one Kaito Kuroba that spoke like…well, a Japanese high school student. But it was harder to remember what he was and wasn't supposed to know than he thought.
And to Kaito's great embarrassment…even after all that, he wasn't as good as he thought he was. Hakuba and his friends talked so fast. And they slurred their words together, or used strange slang. He didn't like it. What if he did try and steal a gem and he couldn't understand what the police were doing around him? This would make getting out a lot harder than he thought.
"So what's your hobby, Kaito?"
"Hm?" Kaito looked up from his plate that held some kind of strange glop. Beans and toast. He shuddered and remembered his mother telling him to not be rude and eat whatever was in front of him. And foreigners thought raw fish was strange. Of course, Kaito thought that raw fish was strange too, but that was neither here nor there.
"What do you like to do? Sports? Music?" Oliver asked, starting in on his toast without a second thought. "I'm the assistant editor of the literary magazine, James does debate club, and Adam is on the rowing team."
"As an alternate," Adam put in dryly, adjusting his glasses.
James grinned, "Quiet you, you're the most socially acceptable of the lot of us, so no sounding bitter about it." Adam socked him in the shoulder.
"Oh. No clubs. But I play Magic."
"The card game?"
Huh? Did they mean card tricks? "Uhh… Magic. Tricks."
The other boys looked very impressed and Kaito preened a little. He was good enough to stand up to anybody when it came to magic and he knew it. "Really? You know magic? Can you show us a trick or two?"
He looked left and right as if making sure no one was watching. "I don't know……" Magic was all about showmanship after all.
Hakuba unwittingly cooperated by saying to his friends, "He's really very good. He did tricks without any kind of preparation in class all the time."
"Please?" Asked Oliver.
It was all Kaito was waiting for. He pulled a pack of cards from his back pocket. If it was supposed to be card tricks, he might as well do card tricks. He shuffled them lightly for a moment and then handed them over to Hakuba. "Hakuba is detective. He won't cheat."
The other boys laughed and Hakuba's lips thinned in what might have been a smile, and might have been anything else. He looked over the deck very carefully, checking for marks or flipped cards or any other obvious cheat.
"Give it up, Hakuba, it's just a magic trick."
"I'll catch you at something one of these days." The blond retorted
"But not today!" Kaito grinned toothily and took the deck back. He fanned out the cards towards the boys. "Pick a card! Any card!"
Kaito gestured for all four of them to choose a card.
"All of us?"
"Yes." Eyebrows went up around the table. They'd never heard of more than one person choosing a card at once. Not every magician could pull it off. It was one of his dad's specialties.
Cards were chosen, studied and placed back in the deck.
He handed the deck over to Hakuba again. "Is it okay?"
Hakuba looked at the deck. "Am I supposed to shuffle?"
"It doesn't matter," Kaito said with a shrug.
The detective got a challenging look in his eyes and shuffled the deck very, very thoroughly. Kaito would think he was out to ruin the trick if he hadn't seen this kind of reaction a hundred times before. People liked to be fooled by magic. But they didn't want any doubt that it was some kind of simple trick. If they were going to be wowed, they didn't want to be wowed by something simple.
Magic was a two-way challenge. The challenge to astound and be astounded. And Kaito knew that it worked best when audience and magician were doing their best to one up the other. It was a lot like being a phantom thief.
Hakuba was finally satisfied and handed the deck back. Kaito handed it to Oliver. "Half, please." Then he handed the two halves to James and Adam. "Half please."
He set the four piles down on the table in a row. Then he took a butter knife and tapped each stack. "One, Two, Three!" Kaito flipped over the top card on each of the four piles. "Are these your cards, gentlemen?" The three of clubs. The Jack of diamonds. The seven of clubs and the Ace of Hearts.
There was a long silence. Finally Adam said, "Um. No. My card's not here."
"My card isn't either." Hakuba said. He looked disappointed.
"Eh? Very strange." Kaito pretended to think very hard. "I think maybe because I'm in England the trick is bad."
The blond detective snorted, "What difference could that possibly make?"
Kaito rolled right over on top of him. "I think maybe the cards are shy. Can you pick up your plates?"
With a curious look the four boys picked up their dishes and looked underneath. And there, were four playing cards. The ten of hearts. The Ace of spades. The two of diamonds. And the six of diamonds.
"That's my card!!" said James incredulously. And it was. Each boy had their own chosen card sitting right under their plate. Kaito sat back and grin and bit into his toast, which wasn't as bad as he thought it would be.
* * *
It wasn't until much later that Hakuba could finally get Kaito alone. The Japanese boy was pressed into doing more and more tricks, a small crowd gathering around him. He was in his element, showing off and performing greater and more impossible feats of magic with the simplest of materials.
But Hakuba couldn't enjoy any of it. His teeth were on edge. Why in God's name was Kaito in England? If it were for a study abroad he'd eat his Sherlock Holmes commemorative hat…with ketchup.
But finally he and Kaito were alone walking back to the house the Japanese students were staying at. "Just what are you after?"
"After? I don't know what you're talking about."
Hakuba ground his teeth. "Well, there's an Egyptian exhibit here at school…and the chapel…And a dozen museums in London to pick from."
Kaito smirked. "I think you're mixing me up with someone else. I know Kaito sounds like Kaitou, but the kanji are different."
The detective poked Kaito hard in the chest. "If there is any kind of funny business whatsoever, you know exactly where I'm looking first. I'm going to keep my eye on you for the rest of this summer whether you like it or not."
"Yes, Mr. Detective, sir!" Kaito saluted.
Hakuba narrowed his eyes. He knew, KNEW Kaito was Kaitou Kid. He could feel it deeper than his bones. He could feel it on a cellular level. And now fate gave him this chance to catch him in the act, when there was no other explanation for him being there. And by God he was going to do it!
To Be Continued:
Hideously Long Author's Notes:
1. I know, it's a slow start, but I promise lots of Action! and Adventure! to follow. But I need a little bit of space to lay out the situation first. And I will warn you that this story has the possibility of being Shonen Ai. I'm not sure yet whether it will be, or whether it'll just be friendship. But it's going to be extremely light if it does pop up.
2. Eton. Yes, I know Aoyama said Hakuba went to "London Bridge High School." I'm ignoring that for two reasons. One, because I think going to a snooty private school suits Hakuba better. And Two, when I told my friend that he was supposed to go to London Bridge High, she said it sounded kind of scuzzy. I chose Eton because it's famous, and has an extremely good reputation. I want to show that Hakuba is smart. Also I want to dress him up in the silly school uniforms. Plus, Eton actually does have a study abroad program for Japanese high school and Jr. College students. Eton is an all boys school, but many of the summer programs are not.
3. Hakuba's intelligence. In the Magic Kaito manga Hakuba is a bit of a doofus. But in Magic Kaito everyone is a bit of a doofus, including Kaito himself. When Hakuba shows up in Vol. 30 of the Det. Conan manga he's still a weirdo, but he seems perfectly capable, right on the same level with the other detectives. And in the Clock Tower case Akako refers to Shinichi being as smart as Hakuba, not smarter. So for the purposes of this fic, I'm using Vol. 30 Hakuba and projecting him back on the rest of the series.
4. Glaring logic errors. These have mostly to do with the school and why people are where they are. So don't worry your pretty little head on why the other boys are there in the summer or anything else I make a big mistake on. They're all my fault, because I'm not a good enough writer to care. The plot and the major points will all be as well researched as I can make them. But there are bound to still be mistakes as I'm an American. The mistakes are all mine.
5. Thank you so much for reading! Please c&c. Critiques, Compliments and Flames are all welcome. The flames though, I warn you, will be sniggered at. All the same, I'm really eager to hear what you think about the story, so please let me know.