Disclaimer-- Gosho, not me, yadda yadda. I think Holmes is public domain now, though... This short is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for mentions of drug use. It is in my "Unprofessional Opinion" universe, following UO Gaiden.

Seven Percent

If anybody had told him two months ago that'd he'd be spending a large number of his afternoons sharing a study with Hakuba Saguru and the Kaitou Kid, Conan mused, he'd probably have hit them with a dart from his watch and called the men in white coats. But here he was, comfortably curled up on a couch in the study of the Hakuba mansion, thumbing through a stack of old case files, police reports, and a couple things Hakuba had somehow managed to wheedle out of Jodie and the FBI. He wasn't sure how the blond had managed that, and he wasn't going to ask.

He didn't spend all his time over here, of course... he still had a life, and he didn't want the Shonen Tantei to start worrying about where he was disappearing to. They were pit bulls on the scent of a mystery, and yes, he was fully aware of the irony there. But once or twice a week, he usually wound up here, working on nailing the Black Organization to the wall. That was, of course, when he wasn't discussing Holmes or detective work with Hakuba, or playing poker with Kuroba, or sometimes just lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling and decompressing.

The study had quickly become a sort of oasis for all of them, primarily because it was the only place in the city where they could actually talk without fear of being overheard. It had no telephones for use with infinity transmitters, no windows for laser microphones to bounce a beam off of or parabolic dish mikes to home in on, and any more traditionally planted bugs were rendered useless by the white noise generator and signal scrambler that the room had been fitted with. The Hakuba family, after all, had a long-standing history of research and technology, and the current heir to the name was not averse in taking advantage of that if he needed to.

Hakuba'd had kittens when he'd realized just how much he and Hattori talked about the case over cel phone, too, and promptly fitted all four of their phones, plus Shinichi's, with signal scramblers that would defeat ninety-nine percent of listening devices currently known to be in operation. It didn't make phone calls perfectly safe, but with Hattori in Osaka most of the time, it was a risk they couldn't avoid entirely.

Looking up from his report, he let his gaze slide across his companions. Kuroba was currently juggling a set of brightly-colored stress balls, staring through the complicated pattern, rather than at it. That meant he was thinking about something-- it hadn't taken Conan long to figure out that the magician thought best when moving, and in point of fact was almost never fully STILL.

Over in one of the wingback chairs, Hakuba was poring through a folder full of something, shifting awkwardly to flip through the papers with only one hand. According to the doctors, he only had to wear the sling for another week or so, but it was likely to be tender for a while after that. Even as Conan watched, the blond shifted position, sucking in a pained breath as he accidentally stretched the damaged bicep muscle.

"Hakuba-kun?" Conan asked, setting his sheaf of papers aside.

The half-Brit looked up at him, raising an eyebrow. "Yes?"

"I've been wondering... that arm's got to be killing you; you pop aspirin like they're candy. Cade said you flushed your painkillers down the toilet. Now, I've BEEN shot. I know how bad that hurts. Why would you do something like that?"

"Got to admit, I'd like to know the answer to that one too," Kuroba said easily, hands slowing. "Occurs to me there's been a couple times I've seen you hurt, and you never take anything stronger than aspirin."

Hakuba hesitated. "I..." He looked from one to the other, obviously deciding whether or not he'd be able to dissuade them with a light answer. Kuroba's raised eyebrow seemed to convince him otherwise, and he sighed.

"This... isn't easy to talk about... No one knows save my mother and one of my aunts... not even Cade, though he's likely guessed..."

Setting back in the chair, he rubbed his forehead. "Kuroba... how much do you know about opiates?"

The magician blinked as he stopped juggling. "Um, class of drugs derived from the Chinese Opium Poppy, contains morphine, heroin, a lot of the higher-class painkillers still in use are in that category. Some risk of addiction..." He trailed off, understanding beginning to dawn on his face.

"Holmes was a habitual morphine user," Conan commented. "He used it to come down off the cocaine he took when he didn't have a case to stimulate him. It wasn't considered a real vice back in Doyle's day, but it wasn't exactly encouraged."

"Very good," Hakuba nodded, "though I'm hardly surprised you knew that. Yes, opiates are still used as high-level painkillers, even though they're new derivatives. Darvon, Percocet... chemists always trying to maximize the effect and minimize the addiction."

The blond sighed again, eyes drifting closed. "When I was fifteen, I was in a car accident. The other driver was at fault, going too fast on a slick road. He died, Mum got out with bumps and bruises, and I... wound up with two broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a great deal of internal bruising. As you can imagine, during my recovery, and even later, during physical therapy, I was in a considerable amount of pain."

... Hakuba had a gift for understatement, Conan thought dryly. He'd bruised ribs during soccer practice; he could only imagine how bad breaking them would hurt.

"The amazing thing about opiates," Hakuba continued, eyes still shut, "is the fact that they don't actually make the pain go away. You still feel it; you simply don't CARE. You're wrapped up in a blanket that makes the pain unimportant. It's that feeling, as much as the physical properties, which seems to lead to addiction.

"Not caring is very freeing, you see. When you don't care, the body on the floor isn't a person; it's simply a logic puzzle. When you don't care, it doesn't matter that your father's halfway around the world and your mother barely has any time for you at all. When you don't care, it's immaterial that you have no friends and that your peers see you as some type of-- of freak." His voice broke slightly there, but he caught it.

"Of course, the pills did, somewhat, interfere with my thought processes, but... I was able to work around it, and I responded by becoming cautious in my deductions, not venturing a comment until I was certain of the answer. And... well, to be completely honest, while you two would certainly detect a slowdown in my mental abilities, few others would."

Conan and Kuroba both nodded at that. Few people could consistently operate at their intellectual level long enough to know when one of them wasn't operating at top form.

"I took them through my recovery, as ordered, even after the physical pain had pretty much faded away. I told the doctors I still ached, which I did, though probably not enough to justify the medication. But I needed it, I wanted it, and it wasn't... wasn't REALLY a lie. Finally, the doctors decided that the medication was no longer necessary, and they cut me off... and one of them expressed his concerns to my mother.

"They use the word 'dependence' now, rather than addiction... not so harsh, I suppose. But it was all the same in the end. Given what it would have done to my professional reputation, and my mother's social one, there was never a question of sending me to a facility. The hospital got a sizeable donation, the doctor kept his mouth shut, and my mother packed me off to an aunt out in the country to dry out."

Hakuba shuddered slightly. "Those are the worst four weeks of my life. Withdrawal is never pleasant, but far from home, out in the English countryside, with an aunt who felt quite justified in letting me know just how badly I'd let down the family... it's the closest to hell I ever want to come, believe me. On top of the pain, my feelings were so RAW that I felt like I might bleed. I needed the distance the pills gave me... but I couldn't have it. So I taught myself not to feel. I boarded over my emotions, shoved them down, and approached crime as a logic puzzle. And it worked; professionally, I was doing better than ever, to the point where I was starting to become bored. And then I heard about the elusive Kaitou Kid, the thief no man could catch, and you know where that led."

Kuroba leaned forward, tossing a blue ball up and down absently. "You're not like that now, though," he pointed out. It was not a question.

"No. I... let's just say, I had it pointed out quite strongly to me that there were consequences to not caring, and I got a rather unpleasant look at what I might be turning into."

Conan made a face. Yeah, he remembered the Detective Koshien way too well. He couldn't help but wonder, though, who Hakuba'd been afraid of becoming: Tokitsu, with his sloppy detective work, or Koshimizu, who'd been willing to kill seven people to take revenge for her friend.

"You stayed in Japan after that, instead of going back to England," Conan commented. "Why?"

"A few reasons. One, I felt raw all over again, and I'm now seventeen. As a detective, and a near-adult, I know enough people that it would be very easy for me to find a supplier for painkillers, and believe me, I did want them. But... more importantly, I knew that here, there were at least two people who didn't think of me as some type of freak."

He gave Kuroba a pale smile, which the magician returned.

"Aoko may think you're a bit messed-up, but no, she doesn't think you're a freak," Kuroba replied."

"This probably goes without saying," Conan added, stealing one of Kuroba's juggling balls off the table and tossing it in the air, "but Hattori and I don't think you're a freak, either. Hattori's even agreed that maybe you don't have a stick lodged up the back of your Inverness cape after all."

The blond snorted. "How incredibly reassuring."

"And if you're worried about our reaction, don't be," the boy continued. "I mean, if you want to talk about self-destructive behavior, you can't find a better panel than the three of us. Dancing on rooftops, following black-clad and mysterious men, getting shot in the stomach when confronting a perp alone... yeah, we've all pulled the occasional bonehead move. You walked away from it, and you didn't go back. That counts for a lot."

He tossed the ball into the air for a few more seconds, face contemplative. "Hey, Hakuba... you know the seven percent solution?"

"Seven percent cocaine, it's mentioned in one of Holmes' books. Why?"

"That's a LOT of cocaine. Even by the purity standards of the day, that's a serious dose. But by the end of the stories, Holmes wasn't taking drugs at all. He'd found something that was more important than the drugs."

Looking from one to the other, Kuroba cocked his head. "Solving cases?"

Conan shook his head, smiling. "Watson."

That got a slow smile from the Brit. "I suppose you're right, Edogawa-kun."

"Good thing you got that hawk, then," Kuroba said innocently.

The pillow that nailed him in the face did nothing to dampen his manic grin.