Disclaimer- Gosho Aoyama owns them, I do not. I do own Cade, though. This short is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for language. This is a sequel to "An Unprofessional Opinion," because the plot bunnies in my head do not know how to leave well enough ALONE...

Unprofessional Opinion Gaiden

Ch 1- Talk To Me

I'm going to make him eat that deerstalker cap of his... wait, no, I don't think he brought it back from England after the last time. Okay, I'm going to find a deerstalker cap, and then make him eat it. Or maybe I'll steal all his Holmes books and replace them with Arsene Lupin. Or dye his hair green again. Or all of the above. It was hard to think up an appropriate way of showing Hakuba just how annoyed he was, but Kuroba Kaito was currently giving the task his full attention. It made it easier for him not to think about how close the idiot detective had come to... NOT thinking about that, damn it! And he wasn't thinking about the worried tremble in Aoko's voice, either, as she'd called him this morning to tell him what he already knew.

He kept up his mental litany as he walked, all the way to the Hakuba mansion, pausing only as he smiled and charmed his way past the housekeeper who opened the door. Although frankly, she didn't seem unwilling to let him in... and in fact looked like she'd been expecting him.

Once inside the foyer, his attention was caught by what sounded like a fairly intense argument going on upstairs. He didn't recognize the first voice, but the second was Hakuba, and he sounded definitely upset. Kaito frowned, heading for the staircase; he hadn't been sure Hakuba was capable of raising his voice. And the argument seemed to be switching randomly between Japanese and English, sometimes in mid-sentence.

"Damn it, Junior! You do not have to be Superman! Put on the sling!"

Junior? Kaito blinked, even as he climbed. Somebody's calling Hakuba "Junior," and they haven't been eviscerated yet? The voice was male, he noted absently, and an adult's. Not old, but mature; thirties or forties, he'd bet.

"I can't let this slow me down," Hakuba replied, irritation evident in his tone. "They're already making noises about removing me from the Task Force."

"Somebody took a shot at you, Junior, it MIGHT be a good idea!"

The sheer venom in the teenager's response made Kaito's jaw drop. "And what do you suggest I do? Step back and watch as they get away with a second murder?" His voice lowered, gaining in intensity.

"For the first time in my life, Cade, this is PERSONAL. I will not let them take him away from me."

Tracking the voices to the upstairs study, Kaito stopped dead in the doorway, trying to process the scene in front of him. Stand-offish, prickly, overly smug Hakuba Saguru... was wrapped in a tight hug by an older man Kaito didn't recognize. And even odder, he was leaning into the stranger's embrace, hugging back just as fiercely.

Kaito wasn't sure if he'd coughed or moved or what, but something alerted the two to his presence, and they pulled apart, Hakuba swinging around to give him what could only be described as a "deer-in-the-headlights" stare.

"Kuroba-kun? ...Oh HELL." Hakuba pinched the bridge of his nose, an expression Kaito was more than familiar with.

The other manlooked amused. "Friend of yours, Junior?"

Hakuba snorted. "You could say that. Cade, this is Kuroba Kaito, my classmate. Kuroba-kun, Cade Maboroshi, a... professional acquaintance."

"Translation," Cade drawled, "we got seated next to each other at a conference, traded snarky comments about the presenters, tore up a bar together, and decided to become pen pals."

Kaito pinned Hakuba with an astonished gaze. "You got in a bar fight?"

Blushing slightly, the blond folded his arms across his chest, wincing slightly at the movement. "Some of the gentlemen there took exception to my skills at billiards," Hakuba replied stiffly.

"You skunked 'em out of two weeks pay, Junior," Cade chuckled. "And sling." He held the offending item up, dangling it in Hakuba's face until the teen grabbed it and reluctantly put it on.

Oh yeah, that's right, Kaito remembered, watching as the fine pain-induced lines on Hakuba's face were smoothed away. I'm pissed off at you.

"I suppose Aoko-san called you?" the detective asked, tone determinedly nonchalant.

"To tell me that you'd been grazed by a bullet? A bullet that was aimed at YOU, not at Kid?" Kaito's tone dripped with poisonous courtesy. "Yes, she did, Hakuba-kun. Apparently you scared her pretty badly."

Hakuba drew himself up with as much dignity as he could muster, though he wouldn't look either of his companions in the eye. "I am a detective," he said calmly. "Bullets are an occupational hazard."

"Not when you're chasin' a thief whose most violent act is tye-dyin' people's underpants while they're still wearin' 'em," Cade replied dryly.

That got a blush from Hakuba and a snicker from Kaito. It HAD been one of his better tricks, if he did say so himself, not to mention it had been installed in Task Force lore under "Things We Do Not Mention In Front of the Inspector."

"He's right, though, Hakuba-kun," Kaito replied honestly, collecting himself. "Bullets are NOT an occupational hazard for the Task Force."

"No. However, for a detective who's gotten close to things that people would rather keep hidden, they're positively commonplace."

Only years of Poker Face let Kaito keep from going pale at that. "What... what did you DO?" he asked, hands fisting almost unconsciously.

"As phantoms go, those snipers are more deserving of the name than Kid ever was," Hakuba mused, not seeming to hear him. "We can't get the slightest information on them. Forensic evidence, once gathered, seems to go up in smoke. Witnesses develop amnesia... or disappear. Files are misplaced, or damaged, or outright destroyed, accidentally, of course. And I'm not the only one who's noticed. I had a very interesting conversation with Nakamori-keibu last night, as we sat in the emergency room."

Looking up, Hakuba met Kaito's eyes. "It appears that the investigation into Kuroba Toichi's death was closed quite quickly. TOO quickly, some people think... but saying so might be hazardous to your career. Or possibly your health."

Kaito's stomach felt like he'd just stepped off a roller coaster. "Do you have any idea what you're getting yourself into?" he croaked.

"Unfortunately, yes. And if I said I wasn't terrified, I'd be lying," the blond replied. "But I cannot simply sit back and allow these people to get away with what they're doing. It goes against everything I am, just as it goes against who YOU are."

Cade, who had watched this exchange in silence, suddenly frowned. "Wait a minute. You said you two were classmates?"

Hakuba nodded. "Ekoda High."

"He the class clown?"

"Oh yes. He's a magician, not to mention a gifted engineer."

"Great grades?

"Stellar. But I have no proof."

The older man gave Hakuba a look. "How hard have you tried, Junior?"

At that, the detective seemed to deflate. "Not very. Not nearly as hard as I could... or perhaps SHOULD."

Despite only hearing two-thirds of this conversation, Kaito was pretty sure he could reconstruct the other third, and it made his blood run cold. But he pasted on his best innocent expression as he looked from one to the other.

"Did I miss something here?

Cade gave him a jaundiced look. "I doubt it. I doubt you miss much at all, Kuroba-san."

"Cade is a police profiler by training, Kuroba-kun, and a very gifted one," Hakuba replied, faint amusement on his face. "He did an excellent profile of the Kid for me... You might wish to read it, being the huge fan that you are."

"Yeah, I think I might," Kaito replied warily.

The profiler grinned. "Of course, given that I'm not even a Japanese citizen, let alone a member of the Japanese police, and I retired from police work several years ago, I really don't give a damn WHO Kid is. I don't even have much reason to see him get caught. After some of the stuff I've seen, a thief who returns what he steals is downright angelic."

... Kaito had the feeling he really, REALLY didn't want to pursue that line of questioning any further.

"So, to sum up," Cade continued, "Kid's trying to protect everybody but himself, while Junior's trying to protect Kid, and has pissed off somebody's version of the Mob doing it." He shook his head.

"Well... all I can say is that this has been one HELL of a vacation."