The Vampire Detective
For everyone who asks receives and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke, 11:10
Hours dragged on as they waited. Every so often at regular intervals, reports of events would come through by radio. Various people took turns pacing, not able to stay still for very long. Others found things to be doing to keep themselves occupied, such as making cups of tea and bringing refreshments. None of them had been able to sleep at all, despite it being so late in the night that it wouldn't be too long until it was early in the morning. No one had been able to bring themself to interact with the ones who didn't know what was going on, knowing themselves well enough to understand that they would only spread the worry.
Mouri Ran was sick of it.
Sick and tired, afraid and angry and absolutely infuriated with Kudo Shinichi.
She knew that he had had to go. But that didn't mean that she couldn't still be annoyed at him for leaving her and forcing her to wait for him yet again. A part of her wondered just how much of her life would be spent waiting for him, even when she knew that he was right beside her, even when he had told her that he wasn't going anywhere.
What was worse was that this time, she wasn't even the only one waiting.
Kazuha, who had usually teased her about Shinichi before, now held on tightly to her omamori, moving her weight from foot to foot. Megure-keibu hummed and grumbled while Takagi-keiji and Satou-keiji talked together and went over paperwork. Ai-chan's fingers drummed on the table she was sitting at, her eyes distant. Even Koizumi-chan was affected, she knew. It showed even in the short times when the witch (Ran shivered) came down from the roof and into company. She tried to hide it, but it simply didn't work.
When Inspector Nakamori and his men returned at last, the tension merely peaked. The final stretch. Only a short time now and the others would be back. Even and especially those from the teams who had come back were still worried. For the police officers who regularly set out to catch the criminal, the Kaitou Kid Task Force members were all singularly attached to the Kid himself.
Ran knew intimately that the feelings were mutual. They were Kaito's Task Force, and he had been highly reluctant to involve them at all.
The clocks ticked on.
Koizumi-chan, who had slinked down as soon as they had started to enter the house, spared a brief glance at the wall clock before disappearing back up again.
It was far too long after that that Hakuba and Hattori had returned to them with Nakamori Aoko.
The moment he was in through the door, Hattori strode purposefully and unerringly over towards Kazuha, who instantly started to berate him on just how much of a stupid idiot he was. Hattori only started to smirk, then smile, then grin, then finally just hugged her, leaving the poor girl flustered, confused and bright pink, not to mention that it immediately ceased her rant.
Aoko came in just before Hakuba Saguru, who, while his suit had certainly seen better days, wasn't too much worse for wear. Having seen Aoko to her seat, Ran caught Hakuba aiming an irritated yet suspicious glare at Hattori. Leaving the girl momentarily to be fussed over by her father, she went over with great purpose and intent to Hattori Heiji.
"What's going on?"
Hattori jumped slightly, looking more than a little guilty if she did say so herself.
"Eh. . . nothing, really. Just a last minute change of plans. Kudo an' Ku- Kid're stayin behind a bit to clean up some loose ends."
"You look me in the eye and say that."
He closed them instead, unable.
"It's Shinichi, isn't it." It wasn't a question. It didn't have to be. "What's wrong? What's happened?"
Heiji looked at her.
"You don't wanna know, 'Neechan. 'Sides, they're gonna be fine.
"You better hope they are," she said, hands on hips. "They better be."
Despite his reassurances, he seemed as happy about the situation as she was, darting swift glances toward the door and at one point getting into a heated discussion with Koizumi Akako in one of the hallway until Hakuba went out and calmed things down.
In the end, Superintendant Chayaki strong-armed Nakamori and the men into going home and getting some rest. For the most part the officer's plan worked – the Task Force dispersed to the varied regions of outer Tokyo, that is. Nakamori himself had looked dead set on staying with his daughter the whole night long and until the last minute possible, but Hakuba and the other officers reassured the man that not only did he need rest (not to mention to clean out the house before Aoko got back to it) but also that his daughter was in possibly one of the safest places in the country, what with the buildings security and the number of people ready and able to protect her in the house.
Somehow, even though more than half of their number had comprised of police officers of some description and so were now gone, the atmosphere seemed almost to be a touch more relaxed.
Aoko had even started to become slightly more responsive, but still had short patience for conversation with anyone other than Hakuba or Hattori, though Ran hadn't found the girl too unwell-looking, only mildly mind-numbed. Ran recognised it easily. She had seen it before in herself, from the time not too long ago when she had found out that the person she loved was back, the little brother she had looked after for nearly a year had been that person, and that, not to be forgotten, that the creatures in the night were real.
As the only one she felt was truly able to sympathise, Ran simply sat there next to her, a friendly presence. No need to talk. Just to be there, and –
Click-clack. Creak. . .
Everyone's attention turned to the door and Ran stood. Aoko riveted a piercing blue gaze in the same direction as everyone else as they heard footsteps coming down the hall, then saw the daw open slowly to admit first Kaito, back in civilian clothes yet still somehow grimy and then, at long last, Shinichi.
Shinichi, who moved like a big cat. Shinichi, whose opaque blue eyes were like a mask of his very own, obscuring his thoughts and feelings from any who would read them there. A Shinichi who couldn't hide the constant scream of danger about him, even though if you relied on mere eyesight alone you would see clearly that he was withdrawn, a danger to no one.
She, who had never felt any sort of compunction to put her childhood friend on some sort of pedestal, did the first thing she thought of – she hugged him. He tensed slightly at first, but put hiss arms around her anyway for a moment before gently but firmly letting go as if he was afraid that he might break her.
Kaito was back to his usual boisterous self; laughing, grinning and generally making a well-meaning fool of himself. Hardly anyone noticed that, in between all this, he was shooting worried glances at not only Aoko, who was relaxing so far as to fall asleep in her armchair, but also Shinichi. No one seemed to comment on the fact that the only tricks that he did could be cone with one hand or one arm. Not to mention that when he went to carry Aoko up the stairs and to her room for the night, Shinichi was instantly there, helping. Neither of them said a word and Kaito didn't shrug the offer of help off.
And at one point, maybe, they saw a glimpse of white under the long sleeves that wasn't silk. A time or two when he winces, the fabric on his left arm tightening a little too much, showing a lump on the top of his forearm where there might or might not have been a knot in the white material probably glimpsed before.
No one asked.
Saguru had been on his way to speak to the thief anyway when he had come up to the room only to find the door closed. He had noticed – he would have had to have been blind in his own home not to – the sudden presence of a sleeve's worth of silky white material that had been ripped, with blood stains blossomed around the tear, now in his 'clinical waste – to be burned' bin. Kuroba must have been out of his mind to have thought that the piece of Kid's uniform would go unnoticed in this particular household. He wasn't usually that stupid.
So. He had come here to talk, except the door was closed, whereas it had usually been open before. Something, he thought, about escape routes. And there were. . . sounds of talking? Someone else in the room?
Despite himself, Saguru drew closer to the door in an effort to make out words.
". . . you sure you're alright?"
He started, instantly recognising the voice. Kudo Shinichi. And he sounded. . . worried?
"Stop fussing, you big idiot. I'm fine."
There was a short yet telling silence.
"Fine. Have it your way. Something happened. But it wasn't as big as you're making it. Barely hurts any more. See?"
"I'm well aware of just how fast it's started to heal, Kaito. My problem is the fact that it happened at all!"
There was an anger in that voice. Guilty anger.
"Yeah, well. Next time, you'll make sure that doesn't happen."
And in that Saguru heard what had, if he was interpreting the conversation correctly, been missing so far. Anger, fear, and maybe a slight bit of accusation in the tone of Kuroba's voice.
"Next time!? There won't be a next time if I have anything to do with it!"
Saguru, taken aback by the anger and denial in Kudo's voice, almost took a step back.
"That's your problem, Kudo!" Kaito bit back. "You keep running away from the fact that unless you face up to it and do something about it, you are going to let there be a second time. And a third. I hate to say this, but it's who you are now." There was a pause, a sigh and a creak of the bed. Live with it," he finished, almost too quietly for him to hear.
"But I'm not-"
"None of us care."
"You don't like it."
"We don't have to. That's why I'm you're friend, remember? Big rooftop discussion? Ring any bells?"
"I knew I'd missed something out."
Saguru frowned, confused. Just how was the detective of the east more or less dangerous than any of the rest of them? It didn't make any sense.
For a while there were no sounds except the slight creak of a chair as Kudo sat down.
"I'm going to have to tell him."
"Huh? Tell him who?"
Another creak – Kudo had evidently stood up again.
"Wh-What?! Why – ow."
His breathing hitched in an unreasonable fit of panic. He was a detective. He had reacted in the normal manner the moment he had found something strange going on – in his own house, no less – and hadn't done anything wrong.
Then why do I feel the need to get away from here, rather quickly?
"Because," and Kudo's voice raised slightly for his benefit, "he's been listening to our entire conversation from outside your door."
With that the door opened to show Kaito already in bed, white duvets gathered up to his chest, where he was wearing an old T-shirt with the date of a magic convention. As suspected, most of his left forearm was bandaged up.
Kudo, now standing right in front of him and holding the door open, looked drawn and strangely defeated. He stepped aside.
"I think you'd better come inside."
Saguru did so, not straying too far from the door.
"I trust I didn't interrupt anything of great importance."
"Oh, no," said Kaito, shaking his head. "Nothing you wouldn't have gotten around to figuring out sooner or later."
"And is anyone ever going to tell me what I would somehow one day figure out and also apparently tore a rather long rip down Kuroba's sleeve a few hours ago?"
They both flinched.
"I, ah, oh hell. . ." Kuroba sighed. "Look, I think you'd better sit down. Oh, and keep an open mind.
A look of unimpressed nervous tension settled itself on the Brit's face. He crossed his arms.
"The last time you told me to 'keep an open mind' about something, you ended up telling me an unbelievable yet nevertheless true account of magical stones and secret mafia-type organisations. I hardly think that anything you have to say now could outstrip that."
Kaito gave a tired laugh, an eyebrow raised. Shinichi looked away or a moment.
"You willing to bet on that?"
Saguru thought on the matter. Swallowed, hard, and found somewhere to sit.
"Against you? No. Not really."
Shinichi snorted cynically, hands gravitating back to jacket pockets and expression distant.
"You're a detective, Hakuba-san. A good one. Which means. . . which means that you must have figured out by now that there are . . . some very important things about me that we haven't been completely honest with you about."
"Well, of course," the blond said, only starting to get the feeling that he was delving into waters well out of his depth. "I'm sure that if there was an award for mysteriousness in a detective, you would gain first prize."
"I never meant it to be like this," the other detective in the room said. "I was going to be normal. Mostly normal. Then. . . well. You've got to have some theories."
When you got down to it, yes, he did. Not that any of them would stand up to even the flakiest excuse, but they were there. They're the kind of theories that would make Holmes and Doyle disown me as a detective, more like, were his pragmatic thoughts on the matter.
"Imagine," Shinichi said, cutting into his musings, "hypothetically that is, that you don't have to worry about little things like something being impossible."
Saguru looked up at them sharply. He knew the dangers of the word 'hypothetically'.
"Then," he hypothesized carefully, "I would have to make mention of one Edogawa Conan. A young boy who, while in Japan, was a highly skilled detective for his age, with a . . . now familiar . . . style of Sherlockian deduction."
He paused for effect, and the other two shared a telling Look. Obviously, he was on to something.
"A boy who disappeared just over two to three weeks ago. Coincidence or not, the exact time when you yourself reappeared. If I had left all reason behind me, I would almost say that the two of you were one and the same."
"Then I'd have to say that, unfortunately for me, you're almost there."
Saguru paled. Kaito didn't say anything, but looked like he was about to burst out laughing.
Shinichi inclined his head but looked away. Forcing himself to think laterally and not attempt to explain or rationalise anything away, he continued.
"You've been acting strangely ever since you returned, at least to my knowledge. You have become more and more efficient at finding evidence to support your theories. For a while, you stopped including yourself in sports, even thought you are quite enthusiastic about football."
"I know from experience that you're stronger and faster than you ever were before. Sometimes you will react reflexively to the most abstract of things. You overhear things you shouldn't be able to. And. . . you always seem to know where everyone is," he finished lamely.
"Well? You're the detective in this situation. What does that tell you?"
Saguru rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming on.
"I don't know. . ."
That you're dangerous. That I shouldn't be here. That I don't want to know.
Shinichi and Kaito shared a glance.
"Think you do, Hakuba."
But I don't want to know!
(But Tantei-kun, how bright your eyes are -)
Hakuba Saguru looked up. His throat was suddenly rather dry.
"I don't bite," Shinichi said. "Well," he added with a shiver, "I try not to."
For the first time in what seemed like absolutely forever, Nakamori Aoko woke up to the beautiful light of day and the sweet sounds of birdsong and teenage bickering.
For a while, she just lay there languidly. She was comfortable. If she squeezed her eyes shut, they still burned red on the inside of her eyelids with the light that was still there. Friendly light. When her eyes were open she could see where she was.
It was a room she had never been in before. Which instantly ruled out her own home, Kaito's place and Keiko's, the only places she had ever stayed over at. The walls were white, but not clinically so. Only precisely. There were bookshelves, with detective novels and classics in alphabetical order. There was a chair and a desk with a mirror, and the chair had a set of her clothes on it. Leaning against the wall next to the door was a mop. A very nice mop. One that just happened to be just the right length for her arms and with just the right weight, if she was any good judge of these things. Which she was. She was, as Kaito said, a master of what he had affectionately called 'mop-fu'.
Suddenly she sat straight up, overturning blue duvets.
Memory and understanding of where she was returned to her in chunks and pieces. She was at Hakuba-kun's. She had just been rescued from a group of people who really hated the Kaitou Kid – even more than she did – and wanted him dead, even. They had even thought that the Kid had been Kuroba Toichi. She had scoffed at them, at first out loud and then later not so loud, that Kuroba-ojisan hadn't been that kind of person, and anyway, he was dead now, wasn't he? Had been for nine and a half years.
They'd both been wrong.
Oh, Kaito. . .
Do you trust me?
(Please, Aoko. I need you to trust me.)
How could he have not hated her? She had hated Kid. She shook her head miserably. Who was she kidding? Her best friend had been lying to her for months and years and she hadn't even noticed and when it had been obvious, she had believed him, even though his excuses around her were near see-through, even though she knew him better than he thought. She had thought she had.
It wasn't fair.
From somewhere below her, someone could be heard yelling 'Idiot!' at someone else. Aoko nodded. It sure seemed a pretty good approximation of how she felt right now.
She dressed like an automaton, and not really knowing why, she took a hold of the mop before leaving the room.
Right in front of her and on the opposite side of the corridor was the person she had just been thinking about. Kuroba Kaito, in the flesh, albeit with a white bandage around most of his left forearm that made her instantly start to worry over, because it hadn't been there last time she had seen. He was dressed already, though that wasn't saying much being that it was already halfway through the morning. In jeans with ripped knees and a black-and-white horizontally striped T-shirt, he looked almost normal. Asleep, he almost looked at peace.
Almost. The T-shirt made it look as though he were trying to make some kind of statement about prisons, and there was a sad and vulnerable frown on his face even at rest.
Kneeling down, she got to his eye level, watching him. Actually looking at him for the first time in a very long while.
His eyes opened, startled violet-blue. Kid's eyes, Kaito's eyes. One and the same.
She scowled at him, and he cowered.
"I," she said menacingly, "have a mop. And you know what? I'm not afraid to use it."
She was going to say more, but the look of mischief returning to his face robbed her of those all-important words, and the flip of her skirt made her forget threats and simply whack.
All was back to normal in the world, and Aoko was happy.
That night, as the sun set, various people around various parts of the Hakuba mansion found their ways to the roof.
Shinichi and Ran talked quietly, but sometimes sounding put out with the other. Eventually they just watched the colours in the sky in silence, just like the others. For once, Hattori and Kazuha were quiet too, more interested in the general feel of the sunset than how much of an idiot the other had been – or how much of an idiot they themselves had been, even. Kaito and Aoko discussed things that had never been talked about before between them, and made each other promises that neither would keep secrets from the other any more so long as they could help it. Kaito still had several rapidly healing bruises from allowing his friend to get in a few hits that she definitely, really did, deserve to have reach their target. Hakuba and Koizumi also watched the sunset, further apart from each other than the others were, but still talking mostly civilly, about various topics. Vampires, magic and the basic occult often came up. So did science and detective work.
Over the entire scene, a shimmering glow of pearlescent pinkish-magenta watched over them, not spoiling the sunset, but somehow enhancing it.
They still had their problems to sort out, but they were problems of another time. Now was the time for other things.
Like red skies at night.
AN: And there you have it. It's finally here (after the four-day long breakdown) and The Vampire Detective is finished.
I originally planned to have an extra conversation between Shinichi and Ran, but it didn't fit. Hints as to what might have been said may turn up in other forms, though. And for those of you who want more -
Watch. This. Space.