It was not unusual for Conan to think about Kid. Even from their first meeting, Kid had always been a challenge and an enigma. Every heist notice since then had always brought Conan a thrill of excitement and filled his mind until he solved the riddles.
It was not unusual for him to lie awake at night in the days preceding a heist, going over and over in his head all the possible ways it might go, every trick Kid might pull to try, how to block every escape route. He would visualize the building's layout, try to put himself in the thief's place and predict his (admittedly unpredictable) moves, and ponder various ways he might land a soccer ball or two.
It was not unusual for him to be utterly unable to sleep the night of a heist, even when they got back to agency in the early hours of the morning, dead tired from running through buildings and across roofs and up how many flights of stairs. And that was perfectly natural - after all, it took time to come down from such an adrenaline rush, and Conan of course could never be satisfied until he understood (or could at least pretend he understood) the various magic tricks and surprises Kid always seemed to come up with.
And he would continue pondering every move that had been made a heist, dissecting it and analyzing it until he had appreciated every angle of it. He wanted to be able to improve his game after all, to be able to anticipate Kid better and outsmart him the next time. His detective mind fueled a need to know how each trick was done, and his competitive streak made him eager to get a step ahead of Kid, to try to rattle him into showing an expression of surprise or anything other than his usual arrogant smirk. Oh, and he needed to help arrest Kid too, of course. So it was not unusual for him to continue thinking about Kid for days after a heist.
But Kid was an enigma, not easily understood no matter how long one lay in bed and thought about him. This was a fact Conan was being forced to acknowledge more and more lately. Of course he'd known since almost the beginning that Kid wasn't your standard run-of-the-mill thief. Sending advance notices, enforcing a strict no-one-gets-hurt policy, and returning everything he stole sort of set him apart from every other criminal Conan had ever known or even heard of. It was strange, and it never quite fit any logical explanation Conan had come up with so far. The vague notion that Kid was "looking for something specific" stirred rather than sated his curiosity about the matter.
He had more things to think about now. Kid simply kept surprising him. How many times now had the flamboyant untouchable phantom thief saved his life or his friends' lives? How many times had he put himself in danger to keep others safe? How many cases had they reluctantly solved together, only to find how well they worked as a team? When Vermouth had shown up at his family's house pretending to be Kid in disguise, he hadn't even questioned it for a second, such was his trust in Kid.
So it was not usual for Conan to think about Kid for much longer after any such interaction with him. It bothered him. Kid was just too… good, too kind and brave and noble, to be a criminal, at least not in the way that Conan understood criminals. So then why? Why had someone with such strong and selfless morals decided on a life of crime? What was Kid trying to do? Why was he doing it this way? Was it right? And what should Conan do about it?
That's why he was unable to sleep and was thinking about Kid now, Conan thought to himself. It wasn't unusual at all. It had been weeks since the last heist, longer since he'd last seen Kid, and there had been no news or advance notices from the thief. But it surely wasn't unusual to be lying awake deep into the night, his brain echoing in an endless loop with images of white capes and glistening monocles and stupid smirks. It wasn't unusual at all, because Kid was a mystery and Conan wanted to solve mysteries.
He sighed and rolled over on the futon, snuggling into the covers and trying to block out Mouri's snores. He was tired and wanted to sleep.
He wanted to know about Kid. Who even was he? It obviously wasn't the same person as before his eight year disappearance. But since nobody seemed to be talking about it, he must've at least fooled the task force into believing he was the same person, which meant he must be convincingly carrying on his predecessor's persona, so how much of Kid's personality was just a front? Would Kid's civilian identity still—
Conan groaned into his pillow. He just wanted to sleep. Even if it wasn't unusual to think about Kid all the time (and he assured himself again that it wasn't), it was still damn annoying. And completely unnecessary. Yes, Kid was smart and capable, but Conan was definitely going to catch him at a heist one of these days. He'd already been close a few times, so it would definitely happen soon. So what did it matter what Kid's secret identity was like? It didn't matter and he didn't care and he wouldn't think about it and he would go to sleep now.
Besides, whatever Kid was like, he was surely just as good and moral in his real life as he was in costume. Conan was sure he wasn't faking that part at least. And he was definitely clever and witty and athletic, or else he wouldn't be able to pull off any of the stunts he was so fond of showing off all the time. Actually, Kid's apparent need to show off and attract attention all the time was probably genuine as well. And—
Conan sighed loudly and rolled over again. He glanced at the clock and winced. He would not get much sleep tonight, and of course there would be no coffee tomorrow. School was going to suck more than normal.
Rubbing a weary hand over his eyes, he decided something needed to be done. Clearly the problem was that he didn't know enough about Kid. If only he knew more about him and could satisfy his curiosity, then surely he'd be able to think about other things and sleep better. Yes, that was a solid plan, and the peacefulness of knowing that relief would come soon was enough for him to finally drift off to sleep and start dreaming of Kid, which was also not unusual.
Conan had a few minutes of hesitation about his plan the next day. There had seemed to be an unspoken gentleman's agreement between the two of them that Conan wouldn't hunt Kid down outside of heists and that the two of them would stay out of each other's private lives. A small pang of guilt twisted his stomach when he considered being the one to break that agreement and risk betraying his rival's trust.
But by third time that he nodded off in class, head slipping out of his hand and banging against his desk while his classmates laughed at him and his teacher scolded him, all hesitation had vanished. Kid had already sort of spied on him a few times anyway, right? Actually, he'd even kidnapped Conan and stuffed him into a suitcase to smuggle him out of the country once, so he should have no reason to complain about Conan just looking him up a little. Yes, definitely. He nodded resolutely. Haibara gave him a side look, probably silently judging him. He yawned again, too tired to care.
When class let out for lunch, he immediately slid over to Haibara's desk and sat down on an empty chair in front of her to talk face to face. The detective boys were thankfully too busy discussing the recent Kamen Yaiba episode to bother them. So he turned to Haibara and—
"What do you want, Edogawa-kun?" She sounded bored and a little accusatory.
"Eh? Oh, well, there's something I want you to research for me."
"I am not your secretary nor I am I interested in doing busywork for another of your little murder cases. You're the detective. You do the detecting." She unpacked her lunch daintily without so much as a glance in his direction.
"Of course you're not my secretary, I'd never pay you to work for me with an attitude like that!" Hopefully he could warm her up with an attempt at humor. It did not work. He fought the urge to sink down in the chair under her glare. "You know I see you as a parter in my cases. And besides, this isn't a normal case. I think you might even be interested in helping with this."
She resumed not looking at him, starting in on her lunch, but he took the lack of a withering death glare as an invitation for him to continue. He was very tired and very desperate, after all.
"I want to find and investigate Kaitou Kid's real identity," he murmured, making sure no one could overhear them. Haibara subtly raised an eyebrow and her expression became more strained. Was she trying to suppress a smile? He had always suspected that she was secretly a Kid fan, but the confirmation of it brought him a brief surge of self-satisfied pleasure.
"Oh? And here I thought you didn't want to arrest him. How nice to see you being so law-abiding, detective-san." Was she teasing him? It sort of felt like he was being mocked. But for what though? Well, no matter.
"Not to arrest him! Well, maybe, I guess. I don't know. I mean, yes, I definitely want to arrest him, but I'm going to do it a heist, for sure! This is just… to satisfy my curiosity..."
"Wh- because…" Because he thinks about Kid all the time to the point where it's impacting his sleep? No way would he admit that to her. Never mind that the bags under his eyes told the story for him. "Because I'm just curious Haibara! You know I can't stop myself from trying to solve every mystery I find. You're usually the one pointing that out to me, in fact," he added indignantly.
"Hmm," she hummed then was silent for a few minutes, eating her lunch. Conan fiddled with a pencil and tried not to bounce his leg while he waited.
"I assume you have a lead for me to search based on, Edogawa-kun?"
He could hardly suppress the wave of giddiness from showing on his face. "Yes! And thank you Haibara! I'll fill you in after school."
"What are you doing after school?" A too eager Ayumi inserted herself into the conversation.
"Is it a case?" Mitsuhiko asked hopefully.
"You're always keeping the good cases to yourself!" Genta accused.
"No, it's nothing like that. Conan-kun was simply having trouble with his math homework and wanted me to tutor him after school. You're welcome to join if you want to practice math too," Haibara said. Conan gasped in indignation and was going to protest when he got a swift kick in the shins from under the table.
It was a good excuse though, he thought as he rubbed his leg. He'd never seen the kids so eager to lie about being unavailable to hang out together. Haibara had her good moments, he decided.
"So?" Haibara asked him once they had closed the door behind them at the Professor's house that afternoon.
"Well I thought we could start with the multiplication tables and then move on to the long division problems."
"Ha ha. What lead do you think you have on Kid?"
"Several, actually," he said as they walked over to her computer and he pulled out a piece of paper and a pen to write down his notes for her. Why did Haibara have no sense of humor? Anyway. "First, even though he's a master of disguises, not even the great Phantom Thief can make himself shorter or thinner, so we have some baselines about body type, height, weight, etc." He wrote the measurements as he spoke. "We also know that he looks enough like me to convincingly disguise as Kudou Shinichi without a mask. Even if that disguise still requires contacts, make up, or hair color, it does tell us gender, approximate age, and face structure. I thought we could start with a facial recognition search for people whose face most closely matches mine."
"Impractical. Yes, running a facial analysis check on a clear photograph of a person is trivial. But collecting photographs of every male in Japan is not realistic."
"That's why I thought we'd start with schools. If he can play a teenager so reliably, he can't be too far of being school aged himself. If I had to guess, I'd say he's probably in college now, or not long graduated. From the heist locations, it's very likely that he attends one of the universities in Tokyo. Schools keep registers of their students, right? Even if you have to hack a little, you should be able to easily access databases of student names and faces for all the major colleges in and around Tokyo. And those databases should even include alumni up to some point."
"'Easily'," she scoffed, implying that hacking into university databases might be more work than it sounded.
"Easy for you I meant!" He beamed at her, knowing fully well that she could do it but was secretly fueled by praise and appreciation. "Because you're the best person I know with computers!"
"Flatterer," she muttered, but seemed placated. "Yes, I can do that. It will take some time to access the databases, but then I can set up the photos to run through the facial recognition software overnight. You can check back tomorrow." In other words, 'you're dismissed, leave my house now.' He knew Haibara well enough for that, so he left readily.
That night, his excitement kept him up.
His excitement crashed back down to reality in the morning the second that he saw Haibara's tired grumpy stare. It's fine, he told himself. It wasn't the first time a lead had come up dry. Investigations always took work, and lots of trial and error. It was neither surprising nor discouraging. So there was no good reason for his smile to feel that forced when he greeted her.
"Don't make that face, Edogawa-kun. I'm not done yet. I can still expand the search to colleges further from the city."
"Ah, r-right. Thank you Haibara," he smiled at her. She gave him a speculative and slightly amused look in return, before settling in to pretend to focus on the lesson.
Conan kept thinking about Kid all day. He thought about that infuriating smirk Kid always wore as if he were trying to tell the task force just how much smarter than them he was. He thought about the way the thief held each gem up to the moon as if the moonlight would magically light it up in his hand. He thought about the immature pranks and playful banter and childish sense of humor that had always captivated—
On a whim, he hastily scrawled a note and passed it to Haibara. 'Expand the search to include Tokyo based high schools.' She raised an eyebrow at him, then shrugged in response to his earnest and overly intense gaze. It was worth a try, she guessed.
The next day, as Conan entered the classroom and immediately sought Haibara's gaze, his heart jumped in giddy anticipation at her triumphant look. Forgetting himself, he nearly started to interrogate her in full hearing of the entire class. Rarely had a school day gone by as slowly and painfully as it did that day. He couldn't stop squirming in his seat and had to be reprimanded by the teacher several times. And he couldn't stop thinking about Kid. He was about to find out more about THE Kaitou Kid!
The math tutoring excuse was going to get old real fast. No matter, Conan could think about that later. For now, he was just grateful it was effective because he couldn't wait any longer, even walking ahead of Haibara as he accompanied her to the Professor's house after school, trying to set a faster pace. Was she walking even slower and acting even more relaxed and unhurried than normal? Either way, she was definitely doing it on purpose because she hated him and loved causing pain in general, there was no other possible reason.
He whirled to face her the instant the door closed behind them. "Well? What did you find, Haibara?"
"Oh, nothing much, just a nearly impossible 96% match for your face who comes with a full background of circumstantial yet compelling evidence." She didn't bother hiding the self-satisfied smirk, and she had certainly earned it this time, in Conan's opinion.
"I knew you could do it! Well done, Haibara!" he exclaimed with feeling. She smiled. "Show me his picture!"
She entered the password on her computer and navigated to the right folder, which seemed to contain only the one photo along with several videos and text files. Had she really already researched this person so much? Conan beamed in delight.
The photo had barely appeared on the screen before Conan burst out "That's him!" And it most definitely was, no mistaking it. The way the school uniform was slightly rumpled, the playful carefree posture, head cocked slightly to the side, face split in a wide infectious crooked grin, the childlike joy and mischief that radiated from the vibrant indigo eyes, the messy brown hair that couldn't possibly be natural (seriously, what were the odds of getting every single lock of hair out of place, it had to be styled that way, right?). Even from this single school ID headshot, the strength of personality that radiated from him was insane. He conveyed a sense of that obnoxious, easy, open, charming confidence and enthusiasm that Conan was so familiar with, and Conan would've recognized it anywhere.
"Oh? You sound very sure of it for just looking at one single picture."
"Absolutely! I'd know that smile anywhere and…" he trailed off, seeing his friend's unimpressed expression and closed off body language. Was she pouting? Could she be feeling insecure just because he'd come to a conclusion faster than she probably had or—
Suddenly he remembered the rest of the files in the folder with the photo and realized the time it would've taken her to research it all.
"Well of course I'm sure, since you're showing me something you've already found evidence for after all. Show me what else you found."
She hummed, soundly subtly pleased again. He was sure she could see through the flimsy attempts at flattery, but his gratitude was real enough so they both chose to overlook the rest.
"His name is Kuroba Kaito," she began, pulling up a text file where she'd compiled basic background information. "17 years old, attends Ekoda High, perfect grades but several notes on his record for 'disturbing lectures by extravagant pranks,' aspiring magician, only son of Kuroba Chikage and Kuroba Toichi."
"Kuroba Toichi? The famous magician?"
"Correct. Kaitou Kid first appeared in France 18 years ago, coincidentally at the same time that Kuroba Toichi was touring there. He died 8 years ago in a fire during one of his magic shows. Kaitou Kid 'disappeared' after that and then 'reappeared' about a year ago, when Kuroba Kaito was about 16."
"My mother knew Kuroba Toichi. I remember her telling me that she took disguise lessons from him. It makes sense - if he was a world class magician and disguise artist, then he probably had the skills to be Kid, and he would've been able to teach them to his son as well. I wonder if my parents knew about it, then?" Conan muttered thoughtfully, rubbing his chin.
"Obviously I couldn't find any information on Kuroba's disguise skills, but look at this," and here Haibara paused to open several of the video files. "He doesn't have much of an online presence, beyond utterly inane random posts on social media about magic and chocolate, but several of his friends have uploaded videos of him practicing magic tricks to their social media accounts. It seems Kuroba is quite skilled at sleight of hand and likes to cause a commotion."
"Yeah that sounds like him alright," Conan chuckled as he fondly watched the candid videos of Kuroba performing elaborate card tricks then doing something with confetti and doves. Apparently the act Kid put on of being a flashy showman who craved the spotlight wasn't an act after all.
Haibara watched him with an inscrutable expression for a moment, then shifted her attention back to the screen and pulled up another file. "Look at this - his classmates include the detective, Hakuba Saguro, and the inspector's daughter, Nakamori Aoko."
Conan laughed heartily. "A detective and the inspector's daughter? Even when all the evidence against him is so obvious? He really is as cocky as he seems, huh? How has he not been caught yet?" Despite himself, he couldn't help but be impressed and pleased. From what he knew from the few times they'd met, Hakuba was a good detective. There was no way he wasn't suspicious, yet Kuroba wasn't in jail yet, which just meant that he must be astonishingly good at making sure he never left any evidence behind. But then again, Conan already knew that. Kaitou Kid was famously thorough at covering his tracks.
"Is your curiosity satisfied then, meitantei-san?"
"Are you kidding? Now we can finally start the investigation!" He felt a wide grin spread across his face. This was going to be fun.