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They actually let him call me? Saguru was rather surprised to hear the artificially disguised voice of Bitters (or rather, Hattori Heiji) on the other end of his cell phone as soon as he pressed the answer button. Ever since Kudo Shinichi had pulled his still-unexplained vanishing act in Japan two nights ago, he and Heiji had been placed on what amounted to twenty-four hour solitary confinement. The Black Organization had also decided to place a continent or two between the two remaining Brain Trust members as well, Saguru having had to endure a rather haphazard, turbulence-filled ten hour trip on a small plane until early in the morning. He had no clue where he was at exactly, and Saguru knew that was intentional, but he'd glanced at his watch before and after the trip to get a rough time frame of his travel. He'd also begun feeling the familiar effects of jet lag washing over him, and he'd actually just been contemplating a short nap when his phone had rung. Saguru grabbed his synthesizer off of the small bedside table and held it close to his mouth. "This is Tonic, yes."
"Good. How long do you have to talk?"
Now Saguru knew that it really was Heiji. "That depends on what we need to talk about," he replied evenly, finishing out their code and verifying that he was himself as well. He, Heiji and Shinichi had decided that they needed some way of verifying each other back when they'd first started to realize that their 'jobs' weren't with any sort of legitimate business, so a set of questions and answers had been quickly developed during one of their last face to face meetings together. There were thirty different questions along with thirty-five possible answers, and they tried to never use the same combination twice so the Organization wouldn't catch on; they also tried to use the questions and answers in more places than just the start of their conversations as well. Of course, the three of them hadn't had time to come up with some kind of in-person verification system before Vermouth had revealed herself and sucked them fully into the Organization, so they could only make the identifications if it was a phone call.
"I have to ask the obvious question first. Have you heard from Quinine at all?"
You know I haven't. There's no way in the world Kudo would be stupid enough to call one of the Organization's phones when he's on the run from them, and all of our mail is opened before we get to look at it. Saguru's found his curiosity piqued, though. Just where are you going with this, Hattori? "Right, Bitters. As if Quinine would be stupid enough to contact either of us right now," he half-laughed through his synthesizer in reply.
"That's why I keep trying to tell them too," snorted Heiji, his impatience almost seeping through the forced monotone of his own synthesizer. "Vermouth and that friend of hers, Grenadine, asked me about it again today..."
OK, so you met with Vermouth and Grenadine today. Why is that so important, or what happened that made it important? "They haven't questioned me any more about it yet, but I imagine that's because you associated with him much more regularly." Saguru still recalled how shocked he'd been when 'Edogawa Conan' had revealed himself as the long-absent Kudo Shinichi at the first of the Brain Trust's meetings. The improbable story he'd relayed of shrinking after being given some kind of poison had sounded like something out of an over-the-top crime novel to Saguru initially, but the shrunken teenager in a seven year old's body sitting across the table from him had been impossible to dismiss. Later, of course, there'd been the testing of an experimental antidote on the other teen after the Organization had revealed themselves- an antidote that had put Kudo Shinichi into a deep coma for two weeks but reversed the poison's effects permanently.
"Grenadine seemed pretty interested in Quinine." This was followed by a very deliberate cough. "Of course, they all want to catch him so I guess that's no surprise, right?"
Of course it wasn't a surprise to Saguru; Rum, in particular, had been absolutely furious the last couple of times the blonde had seen him. "Not particularly, no." He sighed. "Get to the point, Bitters. I'm quite tired and I'd actually like to take a nap if pos-"
"Just make sure to pay attention to anything weird. That's all."
Saguru looked at his phone in puzzlement after Heiji quickly hung up. There was no question in Saguru's mind that the Osakan had desperately been trying to tell him something, but he had no idea what exactly the other boy had been trying to convey. He put the phone back on the table before he heard a soft, muted chiming coming from somewhere in the room that he didn't recognize. He looked around for a few moments and stood up as the noise the stopped and then started again, Saguru quickly realizing that it was a ring tone that was also coming from behind him- on, or perhaps even in, the bed somewhere. He turned around and moved the top sheet down; the ringing increased in volume immediately to his left, where the pillows were located. He lifted up the first pillow as the third ring began and saw a small, square object fall into the pillowcase's corner. Saguru reach in and grabbed it - a cell phone, just as he'd expected - and flipped the phone open, pressing what he hoped was the answer button as he turned his synthesizer back on. I'm sure Hattori arranged for this phone to be here somehow, but it always pays to be cautious. "Hello?"
Saguru realized that Heiji wasn't using his synthesizer anymore, which told him that this pair of cellphones had been acquired without the Black Organization's knowledge. He turned off his own synthesizer and looked over at the hawk, who was out of her cage and preening herself on the wooden bed's rustic-looking headboard. "She shed a couple feathers last night, but that's about it." After verifying the code, Saguru sat down on the bed and studied his suitcase that was sitting upright and still unpacked across the room. "I assume that we have a helper of some kind on the inside now?" he asked quietly. He'd already done a close visual sweep of the small cabin he was locked in for bugs or cameras, and had found to his mild shock that there weren't any. He wasn't sure if it was due to a simple oversight in security or the fact that his trip had been so hastily arranged, but either way he wasn't being watched or recorded and he was very glad for it now.
"In a manner of speakin'. You know Grenadine, Vermouth's buddy that's always travelin' with her?"
Saguru cocked his eyebrow. "I've seen Grenadine a few times, yes. I've never actually gotten to talk to him, though." At least, Saguru had always assumed that Grenadine was male; Grenadine changed appearances and ages so often that it was very hard to know for certain. It was also usually Vermouth that did all the talking any time Saguru had been in the same room with her and Grenadine.
"I met Grenadine today, like I said. But that's not all." There was what sounded to Saguru like paper getting crinkled up on the other end of the line briefly. "I got to see his actual face."
"I see." Saguru had the feeling that they were finally getting to the point of the covert cell phones and this call. "Why did he decide to show himself to you today?"
"Vermouth asked 'em to take his disguise off. That's not the important part, though." This was followed by a few muffled footsteps. "The guy is an absolute dead ringer for Kudo; in fact, they could be twins. And he's also willin' to help us if we help him."
Saguru yawned. "Help him...with what, exactly? And how exactly does he plan to help us?"
"Well, Grenadine thinks he and Kudo might be related 'cause the two of them look so much alike - basically that his dad hasn't been tellin' him the truth about him being an only child. Grenadine said if we help him look into that, he'll help get us more things like these phones that we can use freely."
"So detective work, then. I suppose he could do worse than us for that." Saguru shifted position on the wooden-framed bed and pulled out a small notepad that he kept in his pocket. "What's his real name?"
"Eh, he wouldn't give that to me, not that I blame him. He was pretty much raised by Vermouth in the Black Organization from what he told me; I can only imagine what kinda paranoia'd set in hangin' around them all the time."
"True." Saguru sighed lightly as he realized something. "It's going to be more than a bit difficult for us to do any research without so much as a name to go on. Grenadine realizes that, right?"
"Well, I do have the name of the hospital he was born in. It's a start, at least."
"Better than nothing." Saguru looked around for a pen, finally finding one in the top drawer of the bedside table. "What's the hospital's name?"
Agasa nearly jumped out of his skin as he heard Shinichi's yell come all the way downstairs to where he and Shiho were working. Shiho turned to him and offered a sly, knowing half-smile. "It sounds like you're needed upstairs, Agasa-hakase. And judging by Kudo-kun's tone, I'd hurry."
This is definitely not good. Judging by Shinichi's crossed arms and irate expression alongside Kaito's impatient tapping of his own foot and similar accusatory expression, the two of them had found out something in the library. Agasa felt his stomach sink as he quickly began to realize what it probably was.
"So," began Shinichi in an irritated, bristly tone, "when exactly were you going to decide to tell us that Amano Achika had triplets, not twins?"
"Kudo and I were doing research in the library and he found an article about it," explained Kaito as they both continued to level glares at Agasa.
Agasa sighed as he looked at Shinichi, then Kaito. Exactly what I was afraid of. But they deserve to know the truth..."She gave birth to triplets, yes. However, it's not certain that your third brother is even still alive, which is why I didn't want to say anything about it for a little while longer." He took a seat on his couch, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of him all of a sudden. "I figured that you two had enough to deal with right now- especially you, Shinichi- but I'll be glad to tell you anything that you'd like to know."
"How about everything?" asked Kaito as he sat down on the edge of the coffee table facing the scientist.
Agasa nodded. "If you want to go back to the very beginning, an acquaintance of mine sent your mother to me; Achika-san felt that her three boys seemed to be developing their motor coordination at unusually fast rates for thier ages. She'd apparently been to their pediatrician multiple times about it already and he'd assured her that everything was progressing normally, but she still felt like something was wrong." He looked down at the table. "Something was wrong, of course, but we wouldn't know that until later. Anyhow, after doing some basic tests- having you boys play with blocks and some other things- I explained that there did seem to be some merit to her concerns and that I'd be happy to refer her to a pediatric specialist I trusted since that's not really my line of work at all." Agasa rubbed his temples and leaned forward, trying to think of how to best phrase what was going to come.
"Achika-san eventually confronted her husband about her suspicions since he was the one who started having her see that pediatrician in the first place. He evaded her questions, and she got curious enough to start doing some investigating on her own. When her husband actually ordered her to quit asking questions about what had happened a few months later, she left him and took the three of you with her. Of course, by then she'd managed to put a lot of what had happened together on her own." Agasa offered the pair a smile. "She was a very good, capable policewoman."
"You mean she found out about the stuff we were injected with- APTX-48." Shinichi settled into the love seat on the opposite side of the coffee table Kaito was perched on. "So how did she wind up getting killed?"
Agasa shook his head sadly. "I think it was a simple case of her finding out too much, actually. She never got too specific with me, but it was when you boys were about six months old that she began mentioning what she called 'a plot to slowly take over the Japanese police force.' She also tried to go to the other parents and tell them what was done to their children, but by the time the other parents involved had gotten thier own tests done and realized that Achika-san really was telling the truth, she was already dead."
"So what about our third brother? Where does he come into this?" Kaito crossed and uncrossed his arms before deciding to use them to steady himself on the table.
"Achika-san had been in hiding for two months at that point, but a single woman with identical triplets can't really vanish that easily." Agasa found his eyes drawn to the carpet. "Her husband and whoever he was working for finally tracked her down that night. She managed to call the police before she called me, but it was far too late by the time help had arrived. When the police broke down the door, they found black-jacketed men taking you three out of your cribs while Achika-san lay dying in the next room. The police managed to subdue two of the men- the ones carrying the two of you, of course. Your brother, however, was stolen away by a black van that simply seemed to vanish entirely from the area."
"And they decided to split us up so that it wouldn't be obvious who we were." Shinichi got up off the couch and began pacing around the room, questions quickly filling his mind. A brother raised in the Black Organization? Is he even going to want to be rescued? Of course, that's also assuming he's even alive in the first place...
"Yes. Actually, that was my idea." Agasa fiddled with a stray napkin that was on the other end of the coffee table. "It was your mother's dying request that I try my hardest to protect your identities, and splitting you up seemed like the best course of action. After you two became eligible for adoption, the Kudos and Kurobas each agreed to take one of you." He smiled at Shinichi and Kaito in turn. "I never told them that you two were twins in order to help protect your previous identities, but I think they might have suspected something because of your similar ages and appearance."
"Welp," began Kaito after he turned to look at Shinichi, "looks like we've got one more to help out, eh?"