Disclaimer: Gosho, not me, yadda yadda. This short is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for language and adult themes. Also, this short has no connection with any other universe I've worked in... it's just a short bit that jumped me the other night at work. Obviously, it's set before Conan "rents out" the Kudo house to Ookiya Subaru in semi-recent issues of the manga.

Reasons

It had been a really horrible day, even by his standards. Letting his shoulders slump, Edogawa Conan dropped the mask of the bouncy grade-school child, tossing it aside with his shoes in the foyer of the Kudo mansion. Another dead body, another dance, leading the police around to investigate, putting words in Agasa's mouth, trying to keep the rest of the Shonen Tantei under control and away from the worst of the horrors of the scene. This one had been unusually... No, he wasn't going to think about that, or he wouldn't be able to eat for a week.

Somehow, he'd managed to keep up his usual mask of the cheerful child, when deep down, he'd simply wanted to scream and curl up in a ball. He'd managed to deflect the concerns of the police, the Tantei, and even the professor, and finally managed a few moments by himself. Eventually, he'd have to hop on his skateboard and head back to the agency but for now... he had a little while.

He forced himself not to run as he mounted the stairs up to Shinichi's room. He wouldn't run; running meant he wanted it, that he couldn't turn and walk away, and that wasn't true. He could walk away from anything, if he wanted to. He just... he didn't want to. Not right now.

Pushing open the door, he walked, slowly, calmly, over to his bed. Kneeling, he pulled a small lockbox out from beneath, fitting the key into the lock, and opening it.

... And then he muffled a curse, in shock and anger. The box was empty.

"Looking for something?" a familiar voice asked, from the doorway behind him. Conan whirled, heart pounding in his chest. It took an effort, but he managed to keep his expression flat. There was no way he was facinghim with anything less than a perfect mask.

And there he was, Kaitou Kid, the famous magician and thief, lounging in the doorframe, between Conan and the hall. In one hand, he held a bottle of sake, seal still unbroken. In the other, a plastic jar full of small blue capsules. And despite his usual impassive expression, Conan thought that the Kid looked extremely pissed off.

"What are you doing here?" Conan managed, calming slightly. Kid might be an annoyance, but he wasn't a danger, no matter how angry he might seem.

"I'm a thief, tantei-kun, I break and enter all the time. It's part of the job description." A flourish, and the pills disappeared. Conan couldn't quite suppress a flinch at that, and it only got worse when those blue eyes focused on him with laser-intensity.

"I'm not stupid, you know," Kid continued, conversational tone at odds with the frozen anger Conan could sense under that placid exterior. He didn't know how he knew with such certainty what the thief was feeling; he just did, and he'd always been one to listen to his instincts.

"Sleeping pills, at least three times the amount generally sold in corner stores, and a bottle of sake, stored in a nice little vault beneath your bed? Along with some interesting papers... last will and testament, all nice and formal, along with several sealed letters... You have a suicide kit under your bed, Kudo. I want to know why."

Hot anger rushed through Conan with an urgency he'd never known. "Who the hell do you think you are?" he demanded. "You break into my house, into my bedroom, and you ask me questions? Why the hell should I tell you anything?" Carefully he ignored the implications of Kid addressing him by his real name.

"Because if you don't, I will call Hattori and tell him everything. I know you don't want that. And I know he doesn't know, because if he had any idea you were contemplating something this stupid, he'd shake you 'til your teeth rattled and never leave your side. So you have a choice. You talk to me, or you talk to him."

"Go to hell!"

A humorless smile and the flash of a monocle. "But I'm already there, meitantei, didn't you know? After all, you're right here with me."

Fists clenching and unclenching, Conan considered his options. He really regretted leaving his shoes at the door-- he'd have loved to be able to kick a soccer ball at the thief's head. Finally he reached up, pulling his glasses off with a violent motion.

"It's not... I don't have any plans to use them. I just..." Turning away from Kid, he tossed himself onto his bed, staring blankly up at the ceiling. "You don't know what it's like... you can't, not entirely. I have no control over my life. Nobody listens to me, I have to have a chaperone, I have a bedtime, I can't answer to my own name... I got the first bottle of pills as research, for a case. Would anybody notice, would anybody care, if a cute little kid came in buying sleeping pills for his nee-san? The answer, by the way, is no. That's how a man managed to make it look like his wife killed herself. He used their son-- how do people do that? How can anybody be that empty?"

"I don't know, Kudo," the thief said softly. "Some people have no heart or soul."

"Yeah. So I decided to keep them... given how often I have to tranquilize people with my watch, I thought they might be useful. And then I had them... and I kept thinking about it. When I get so tired, how I could come here, take them all, and just go to sleep. No more worrying about bullets, or cases, or corpses... no more watching three kids lose what remains of their childhood facing off with murderers and maniacs... no worrying about blowing my cover and getting everyone killed. And most of all... It'd be my choice. That's why I kept them. So I'd always know there was one thing I could keep control of, even if nothing else was mine to choose. I could decide to walk out of this any time I wanted. Of course, I'd need more pills to make certain I wouldn't just get sick. And as long as I was at it, might as well wash them down with another depressant. Easy enough to steal one of Oji-san's bottles of sake while he was drunk, he just figured that he'd drunk it too, once he sobered up. And I put them in the box, and I wrote the notes, and... I put it all away. Most of the time I don't even think about it, unless it's been a really bad day. Then I just need something to remind me I've got one out, one thing that's mine."

Kid was silent for a moment, then crossed the room to stand beside the bed. "And do you think so little of yourself, of your friends and family, that you could walk away like that?"

Conan threw an arm over his eyes, not wanting to meet those blue eyes, fierce and accusing. "No. I know better, that's why I haven't done it. I can't do that to Ran, to Hattori, or anyone else. I just... I need something to hold onto, damn it!"

"I know you do. Better than anyone, I do. But this... this isn't it, Kudo. And you know that. We're not samurai, you and I. We know death too well, that it's not noble or honorable. It leaves a hole in the world that tears at everyone who loves you. And if you choose it because you're too damn proud to ask for help... that's nothing but selfish and stupid."

Moving his arm, Conan shot Kid a startled glance. "You sound like an American."

"That accusation has been made in the past, yes," the thief replied lightly.

"I'll make you a deal, Kudo," he continued. "Aside from that regrettable mess on the airplane, have you ever found a body on one of my heists? A real heist, not one of those situations set up by people using my name for their own purposes."

Conan sat up. "No, I haven't. But that might just because I don't go to heists..."

"Possibly, but aside from the occasional anomaly, I rarely have people injured or killed on my heists, despite the occasional interference by unpleasant characters. It would seem that when I set the game, my luck tends to cancel out yours."

"Which is totally unscientific, but I'm three feet shorter than I should be, so I'm going to be open-minded on that subject. What's your point?"

A grin. "My point, chibi-Holmes, is that you need cases that don't involve death. For you especially, but perhaps also for your young friends. I suggest a game. Occasionally I'll set you a riddle... if you solve it, you'll get a prize. Possibly the latest heist, to be returned to the police. And won't that do wonders for your reputation?"

"You really are insane," Conan replied dryly, interested despite himself. "What do you get out of this arrangement?"

"Me? I get to play the game with someone who can actually challenge me. Hakuba Saguru is in and out of the country so much, I'm never sure if he'll be around or not. And since Nakamori-keibu won't generally allow you at heists proper..."

Kid's tone became sober. "Besides, I've lost enough. I won't lose anyone, even one of my hounds, to this mad quest. Not again."

For a long moment, Conan just stared at the thief, slotting through guesses, deductions, memories of bits and pieces of information...

"Your predecessor set me and Ran a game like that once," he said finally. "It was... fun. Okay, I accept."

A true grin now, that manic expression that was the closest to true emotion the Kid ever showed. "Magnificent! Keep your eyes open, tantei-kun, the games will begin shortly. In the meantime... " He produced the jar of pills again.

"I believe I'll just keep these as a souvenir, ne? And, of course, if you attempt to rebuild your stash, I'll be forced to call Hattori. Clear?"

Conan made a face. "Clear. Of course, I'm still going to try and catch you."

"I'd expect nothing less." Leaning close, Kid tapped Conan on the nose. "And remember, Kudo... you have control. Every day you live, every day they don't find you, it's because of who you are and what you've done. It's a dark and scary control, but you've got it. Hold onto life, not death." And with that, the thief disappeared in a puff of pink smoke.

Conan sighed, leaning back on his bed. Well... this was going to very interesting. It might even be fun. He wrinkled his nose, snuggling down against the pillow. That smoke sure had a strong smell, kind of sweet, not like Kid's usual... oh damn it.

And with that, Conan dropped into much-needed sleep.

Owari