Warnings, disclaimers, this is all Sait's fault strike but mostly because I'm desperate to write and stuck on Deal /strike .


"I, Kaitou Kid, will certainly find the jewel holding the Pandora Gem before you!"

Kaito's words from earlier in the night floated back to him, echoing in his tired mind. Missed Aoko's birthday party, broke into a museum, evaded Nakamori's trap (good show by the Task Force; it was a shame he'd had to miss their party too), discovered his father's murder and a load of bullshit cultist crap, and broke into an office building to light up birthday wishes for Aoko -- it had been a long night.

He really should have gone straight to bed afterwards, but the legend and the adrenaline rush hadn't let him drop yet. Something about Pandora, the gem's name, had triggered familiarity, but he couldn't place the term. However, an internet search had brought up a Greek myth. Several variations of the myth, in fact, and he recognized the basics from a lecture on English sayings in his foreign language class.

Oddly, not one variation mentioned gems. Boxes, jars, vases, but never gems... which made some sense. The whole point of the myth was that Pandora had opened the container of mankind's ills. It was stupid to make a container from a gemstone, though the syndicate's myth indicated Pandora was indeed held within one. But you couldn't open the outer gem, not according to what Kid had overheard. Under the light of the Volley Comet, Pandora wept through the vase or jar or box that...

... Pandora had opened.

That didn't make any sense.

Kaito sat up straight, rubbed his eyes hard, and reread the first paragraph of the open webpage.

In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman.

Woman. Not box, not jar, not vase, not gem. Woman.

The Volley Comet passed once every ten thousand years, and was due shortly. The only way anybody could know that would be if the story was just under ten thousand years old, minimum; the astronomy was not a factor because obviously somebody had known comets had orbits and could calculate them. Ten thousand years was a long time for a story to not get twisted and misinterpreted... and only the syndicate's version mentioned gems.

The Greek Pandora myth wouldn't be much more than three thousand years old, but already had multiple versions. The word Pandora was Greek, though: "all gifts". What were the chances...?

Kaito's train of thought twisted sharply, his powerful intellect crashing into his deep-rooted performer's instinct for the human psyche and veering off into a realm of insane conclusions.

"If I," Kaito whispered, "were a ten-thousand-year-old woman who wept immortality, I would..." Dear gods. "Split the truth in half. One story about my tears; one warning about myself." And he'd use a language the people knew. If the legend died, he'd replant it, again in the language of whatever civilization he was in. Then he would ghost through history, hiding and misdirecting, teasing and laughing at the hunters when the comet's time came again...

... and if a third element, a mysterious good guy, came into position to meet the hunters, he would be right there watching.

At Kid's heists.

Kaito stared blankly at the screen. "Who the hell are you, Pandora?"

Several kilometers away, Hakuba Saguru sneezed, and rolled over in his sleep.



"You know..."

Hakuba Saguru spun, banging his shin on his nightstand, to stare at the source of the unexpected voice.

"All this time," Kid continued, lounging on Saguru's windowsill, "I thought I was looking for a woman."

Saguru stared. Of all the things he'd ever expected to hear Kid say, that was perhaps the last. "I have little interest in your personal issues."

Kid laughed. "Not like that!" Saguru felt himself go cold -- colder than could be explained by the open window and the pajama top he hadn't yet buttoned -- as Kid fanned a deck of cards. "See, once upon a time, a criminal syndicate murdered a man over a ridiculous legend." He tossed the cards into the air, showering coins to flip in an odd semblence of juggling. "The man was a famous thief; the legend was of a gem named Pandora."

Pandora. Saguru hadn't heard that word for years, but he didn't let his expression change.

Coins became a twist of scarves in Kid's hands. "So the man's son came of age and took up his father's mantle, and the syndicate mistook him for the original thief." Scarves looped into a hangman's noose, then fell straight again. "Rather a fairy-tale occurance, really, but lucky for the son. The syndicate boasted too much information to him that night, and the son went and researched the legend. Only--"

Saguru knew what Kid had found.

"-- it turned out that the rest of the world swore Pandora was a woman, never an object."

"You are quite mad," Saguru stated, flat and foreboding. The problem was that Kid was just mad enough.

"Indeed I am," Kid agreed happily. The scarves vanished. "Which is why I realized something the syndicate never did." Saguru's fingers twitched on the drawer of his nightstand, edging it open. "The differing legends are half-truths, flip sides of the same coin, planted by Pandora herself... but that's the one detail I overlooked in my work to draw out both the syndicate and the legend. Pandora, being a person, could lie. A Greek woman would've never been in a position to preach history... but you were, Tantei-san."

Saguru's hand tore his gun from inside the drawer, flicking the safety off and cocking it in a split second.

Kid's monocle glinted in the moonlight. "Tsk, Pandora," he said, heedless of the muzzle aimed at his heart. "I may have sworn to destroy a gem, but what's my first rule about people?"

The words came out dull, Saguru's mouth on automatic. "Nobody gets hurt." It never seemed to hold true when it came to material gain or confronting an enemy. "You have no idea how often I've heard that lie."

"Ah, but how often has it been a lie from me?"

"The second-most common response," Saguru stated. His finger wasn't tightening on the trigger. Why was his finger not tightening on the trigger?

Kid shook his head. "I don't want you dead."

Saguru gave a sharp bark of laughter. "I have died... over twenty thousand times. Some years I couldn't go two weeks without dying; plague, famine, thirst, exposure, war, drowning... It never takes."

"I don't want to hurt you, then."

"Then what do you want? Immortality?" Saguru sneered. "I can't give it."

Kid abruptly smirked. "I know. The Volley Comet: you rounded out the date to a unit more pleasing to ancient sensibilities. It passed in 1680, when nobody was looking for you."

Saguru paled. "Then..." Then what? What did Kid WANT?

"I wonder what you want," Kid replied softly. "A bit of comfort. A friendly face. My life's little more than a few days to you, but those few days... how often have you had a friend?"

"One who hasn't turned on me...?" Saguru asked, barely avoiding a shudder. "Six." Some few more had managed to not covet his curse for themselves, but when a child took sick or was pressed to war... once in a millenium was an overstatement.

Kid walked slowly towards him, almost drifting across the floor, hands held open and harmlessly in sight. Scarcely five centimeters from the barrel of the gun, he stopped. "I'm not sane enough for greed: not for myself, not for others. You know that. A moment's hold is enough for me." He stared seriously into Saguru's eyes, not a shred of attention on the gun shaking in Saguru's hand. "Take my moment."

Nine thousand, seven hundred and one years of life... nine thousand, six hundred and seventy-four years of death. Nine hundred and twenty-three names, five hundred and fifty-two wives, two thousand, two hundred and eight children; no grandchildren he'd ever "lived" to see. Twenty-three people who'd discovered his secret.

Six friends.

The gun clattered from Saguru's hands.