AN: Yup, this is what I've been doing instead of working on the next chapter of "What You Wish For." Said chapter is in progress, I promise, so feel free to not throw things at me, both of you. I bruise easily. So now for something completely different: ANGST. I hope you enjoy it!
I do not own Detective Conan or Magic Kaito.
Part I: Overture
"A man who was completely innocent, offered himself
as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies,
and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act."
- Mohandas Gandhi
A hospital, Nakamori had decided, was his least favorite place to be on the entire plant. For a place that was supposed to encourage healing, recovery, and recuperation, it were bland, sterile, and bordering on stifling. That was his opinion, at least.
He had come to this conclusion while sitting in one of those bland, sterile, stifling waiting rooms. The chair was uncomfortable, the magazines were old, and for a place that was spotless, he swore he could detect some musty scent amidst all the cleaners. The white walls, with a wide blue stripe painted about three feet above the floor, all around the perimeter of the room, gave him nothing to look at and nothing to distract him from the reason he was there.
And he really didn't want to think about why he was there.
What a night.
Nakamori shifted in the uncomfortable chair for probably the fifteenth time in as many minutes and again glanced at the clock. Sure enough, not nearly enough time had passed to account for how long it felt like he had been sitting here. He sighed and leaned his head back against the wall.
What a night, indeed.
Between the collective events of the past two hours, the continuing wait, the uncertainty of what was to come, and the fact that his chair was causing him to lose feeling in some very private places, Nakamori Ginzo desperately wished that the night was over already. Mostly, though, everything that had happened over the past two hours.
That was the worst part.
That, and the phone call he had been forced to make a good twenty minutes ago. He would have gone to make the visit in person, and in hindsight, he really should have gone to make the visit in person. It was a horrible thing to do over the phone, but he had been instructed to go to the hospital and stay there until there was word.
Still, he had thought that the news might be best coming from him, so he had made the call anyway. The reaction that had come from the other end of the receiver was less than what he had expected, and yet somehow still managed to be enough to nearly bring him to his knees.
What a goddamned night.
It was as he was looking at the clock once again (and was dismayed to discover that only another two minutes had passed) that the waiting room door flew open and there was the sound of footsteps coming towards him. They seemed to slide on the polished tile floor.
He knew who it was before he heard his name; the voice was merely a confirmation of something he already knew. Both hands went to his knees to push himself out of the chair. He nearly went straight down and onto the floor as blood rushed back to a few areas that had been somewhat deprived for a time. Still, he managed to stay upright and hobble towards the new arrival. "I'm so sorry—"
"Where is he?" Kuroba Meimi asked hurriedly. There were none of her usually pleasantries or manners. Her appearance was uncharacteristically disheveled, her hair a mess, and her clothing showed signs of having been thrown on quickly and without care for matching.
"They haven't told me anything," he said, running one hand through his own hair.
She closed her eyes for what seemed like a long moment. Several breaths passed, deep and steady, in and out, before she opened them again and regarded him with the thinest veneer of calm he had ever seen another person wear. How she could look at him like that, as though nothing were wrong, escaped him. It was only her eyes that betrayed anything.
Nakamori found it very difficult to look at her eyes in that state, but it was impossible to look away.
"Since my son is not available to give you any sort of explanation," she said, her voice thin and strained from the effort of staying calm, "I suppose it falls to me, doesn't it." It was not really a question.
"I…" He nearly refused, but realized that they were probably going to end up sitting and waiting for quite some time longer. And when he let himself wonder about it, he was ravenously curious about this whole mess of a situation. Hearing the story might at least help him understand some of it. "If it's not too difficult for you to discuss right now, Meimi-san."
He was proud of that response.
They sat in the farthest corner of the waiting room, where they could speak in hushed tones and not be disturbed, and where they could see if anyone else entered. By some miracle there was no one else in there. Anyone else who had been injured during the events of the evening would be at a different hospital. That had been a conscious decision on the part of those involved.
That was part of the story he would have to tell Meimi-san. But best to let her go first.
They sat in silence for a moment before she began.
The gunmen had returned.
And Nakamori had been stupid enough to let himself wind up back here.
…all right, that wasn't entirely true. Between the bullets whizzing through the air, the haze from a smoke bomb (he wasn't at all sure who had deployed it in the chaos), and the bodies and shouting, he had gotten a bit disoriented. Then he had heard his superior's voice—of course the higher-ups would be on the scene tonight.
They had spotted Kid disappearing behind the building. Presumably to avoid the gunfire.
Somehow, that didn't seem right to Nakamori. Kid was the sort who would rather get shot himself than see someone else fall prey to an assassin's bullet. He wouldn't just run off and leave the Taskforce to perish in a hail of fire. But orders were orders, and he followed them.
Nakamori, along with his two superiors, made their way around to the back of the building. He was vaguely aware that he was being followed; a glance back proved that Hakuba Saguru was hot on his heels. He didn't bother telling the boy to go back. Wasted breath, wasted effort, and it certainly was no safer back there with the rest of them.
They skidded around the corner.
Kaitou Kid was facing a man in black. A man wielding a gun, with his back to the officers.
There were no smiles, no smirks, no teasing words. Kid looked somewhere between furious and frightened, and the gunman's expression was no less than outright murderous as he brandished his weapon at the thief. They were speaking to each other in harsh, barking tones.
Kid, calling the other man Snake and demanding that the man in black call off the guns.
Snake, demanding Kid surrender the jewel and threatening all sorts of things.
And then Kid seemed to notice the handful of people who had pursued him this far.
What happened next all happened very, very quickly. Even after it had all passed, Nakamori still found himself trying to figure out exactly what had happened and how things had happened. But the answers were nowhere to be found.
Meimi began her story softly, slowly, and with that same calm. "This whole thing is really a story of things that were not," she said, a strange opening. "I doubt much of this will surprise you at all at this point, Ginzo-san, but Kaito was not the original Kid. Toichi's death was not an accident. Toichi did not tell Kaito about Kid, and Kaito did not tell me."
"He started this whole thing. He was happy with his magic, and with Kaito and I. But you knew Toichi. He liked to push the envelope. I think when he started this whole thing, it was sort of a joke," she sighed, her tone growing fond. "I think he once mentioned it as being the ultimate performance. I was never entirely sure if he was serious about that or not."
"I guess I have a little trouble understanding what would drive an otherwise upstanding citizen, celebrity, and family man to become an internationally wanted jewel thief," Nakamori said. No point in not being honest about it.
"An adrenaline rush. Excitement. There are plenty of reasons, but suffice to say that he did it. He went out of his way to make a mockery of everything that was known, established, and accepted about criminals and thieves. And he was good at it."
It took him a second to recognize that note in her voice: pride. The realization left him boggled.
"You know about the exploits of the time. What you don't know is what ended them," Meimi went on. Now her tone turned sour. "Malfunctioning equipment…it's insulting. Everyone knew that Toichi was borderline obsessive about checking things before a show. He would have sooner pulled a trick from the line-up then try to perform it when something was not working properly."
"That never did set well with me, but the investigation—"
"Turned up a problem. I'm aware," she said. "I'm also aware of something the investigation left out. The part that was ruled the cause of the fire? Both Jii and Toichi checked it before the show. It was fine when the curtain went up. Sometime in the interim, something was messed with. And…well, you know what happened." Her voice finally cracked.
Oh heavens, did he know what had happened. He remembered that show all too well, watching Toichi perform the impossible as if it were nothing. The loud crack. The flames erupting from the center of the stage. The realization that this was not part of the show. The panicked screams of both audience members and sirens. The remains that barely seemed to be human anymore…
"So it was murder." Ginzo didn't know why he even needed further assurances on that matter.
"I did not tell Kaito about his father's, ah, night job," she went on, steady once again. "You know how much Kaito idolized his father. He still does. It destroyed him when Toichi died. And he was so young. It was best to just let him think that it was an accident." She looked off to the side. "There was no reason to let him know that someone intentionally took his father away."
It brought to mind another memory Ginzo wished he didn't have. Aoko coming home one day, two weeks after Toichi's funeral, in tears because Kaito still wouldn't smile at school and she couldn't figure out how to make him feel better.
He had called her and left her a message, telling her where he was and that he probably would not be home tonight. He'd reassured her that he was fine before he'd ended the call. It wasn't until after he had hung up that he realized she was going to know something was wrong when she found herself walking to school alone in the morning.
She was out with her friend Keiko, he knew, but he eventually called back and left a second message.
"How did Kaito wind up in this situation?" Nakamori pressed.
"When he was seventeen, he unconvered the secret, all on his own," Meimi said. "He learned of his father's other identity. It was around the time that the Kid reports began resurfacing. That was not Kaito, for the record."
"You know who it was." Again, not a question.
"I do, but I will not say."
He let it go for the moment. "Why did Kaito go out there, then?"
"As I said before, he never actually told me anything. The silly boy…" again, her voice cracked, and again, she quickly got herself back under control. "I was actually planning on having a conversation with him about that. So I don't know exactly the reason he went that night. But the fact stands that he did, and he learned the truth. The rest, as they say, is history."
Ginzo fell silent, processing.
"This is the abridged version of events," Meimi added. "Only Kaito can fill in the rest of the details."
"I don't suppose he'll be willing to do that."
"…you might end up being surprised, Ginzo-san."
A third person had appeared in the doorway. Nakamori quickly stood up. "Aoko."
She was still dressed up a bit from her night out. "Dad? Meimi-san?" She looked back and forth between the two adults with alternating concern and fear. "…what's going on?"
The man in black, Snake. He seemed to realize that there were other people around a mere second after Kaitou Kid did. He turned and stared at them all in visible surprise; he actually looked startled that they had been discovered.
Nakamori took one look at the man's eyes, and was told by his cop's intuition that he was looking at a killer. All the pieces fell together to give him a theory as to precisely who this Snake person was, and why he would be arguing with Kaitou Kid. It was not a pleasant theory, but then again, those who would open fire on police officers and civilians were generally not what one would call pleasant people.
Snake stared at them. In that split second, it was like he was sizing them up and making a decision. A sickening grin crossed his face as he whipped around and lifted his gun and took aim.
Right at Nakamori Ginzo.
It was one of those situations where the entire world seemed to be moving in slow motion. Nakamori's eyes could actually follow the motion of the man's finger squeezing the trigger, the path of the bullet as it sped out of the gun's barrel and towards him, followed by another and another. And he could hear a sound like several balloons popping in the distance.
There was a flash of white—
And suddenly his arms were full of a heavy weight that nearly knocked him over; instinctively he grabbed onto that weight and held on, supporting it. He felt silk against his hands and heard a shout and saw nothing but white and red.
There were shouts that he barely heard as he realized that he was holding Kaitou Kid. Now, as he had done figuratively so many times in the past, the phantom thief quite literally slipped through the Inspector's nerveless fingers and slid, almost gracefully, to end up in a heap on the ground.
He twisted as he fell, revealing growing stains marring the white and blue across his chest.
"He looks like hell," Nakamori said bluntly.
No one argued. It was a statement of fact.
They had only just wheeled Kaito out of surgery, and the doctor's words were still ringing in their ears, hollow and more painful than any injury. "We've done everything we can," the man had said. "If he makes it through the night, we'll know more. I'm sorry."
They had put Kaito in a room with an observation window, for various reasons. Nakamori, Aoko, and Meimi were standing before that window, looking in at the unmoving form swathed in pristine white sheets on the bed.
Kaito didn't even look like himself. There was none of the vibrant energy or mischievous enthusiasm. He looked wane, as pale as the sheets draped over his body. His skin had taken on a faint gray hue. There were machines all over the place, with sensors and electrodes everywhere. An oxygen mask covered the lower half of his face; the steady rising and falling of his chest, though, was reassuring.
Aoko had let out a little cry when she saw him, the most reaction she had shown since they had told her the truth. She had listened to the story quietly, her expression growing more and more drawn with each new point. By the time they had finished she was pale and silent. It was not quite what they had expected from one as fiery as Aoko, especially when they told her how he had been shot.
"If he makes it through the night, he might pull through," Meimi said in an echo of the doctor's words.
Nakamori was about to reply when he heard a stern voice saying his name. He knew who it was before he turned around: one of the higher-up had returned, and his presence was being requested. He waved his hand to let them know that he would be there momentarily, and turned back to his friend and daughter. "I need to go update my superiors."
Meimi nodded. She had already looped an arm around Aoko's shoulders in a comforting maternal gesture. The comfort was doubtlessly mutual. As Nakamori left, they went into the room to say hello to a young man who probably could not hear their voices.
"How is he?" Takahashi asked after they had stepped into a side room, out of immediate earshot.
"I spoke with the doctors," Nakamori said, a bit surprised at the almost casual manner of the question. "They managed to retrieve the bullets and patched him up as best they could. But there was a lot of damage. Internal organs were hit. They've done all they can. Now it's just a matter of waiting to see if he makes it through the night."
"I see…" his superior seemed to mull this over before he spoke again. "Stay here. Keep monitoring the situation, and keep us updated on any developments. We're trying to decide on a course of action."
Again, Nakamori found himself started. "A course of action?"
"There will be a meeting at the precinct probably in the next two hours to discuss the matter," Takahashi said. "We'll send someone to relieve you at that time." He glanced towards the door. "Keibu, correct me if I am wrong, but you know that boy, don't you." It was not truly a question.
"He's my daughter's friend, sir."
"…how is Aoko-chan holding up?"
"As well as can be expected."
The meeting ended on that note, and Nakamori returned to the hospital room. Meimi and Aoko were sitting beside the bed, as close to him as was permitted. Neither spoke; the only sound was the steady beeping of the heart monitor.
"No response," Meimi said. Her voice cracked.
A doctor appeared in the doorway, a clipboard under one arm. "Kuroba-san?" he said apologetically. "I'm very sorry, but I need to speak with you for a moment." She nodded and followed; Ginzo accompanied her, leaving Aoko alone with Kaito.
"Sorry, Keibu. Not lettin' 'em take anyone else's dad…"
The soft voice pierced the chaos, reaching Nakamori's ears. How strange. He knew that voice. That sounded like Kaito-kun, but Kaito-kun was not here. There was only an injured thief on the ground—
Who was moving.
Ginzo put one hand on the thief's shoulder. Kid's hat had tipped off his head and was rolling in a circle across the ground a meter or so away. The only thing protecting his identity was a monocle, and as he watched, Kid shifted and actually removed it himself. He closed his fist around the small ring of metal and glass like it was some infinitely precious treasure, something he could not let go of.
Even in death.
He pressed on Kaitou Kid's shoulder and rolled the world's greatest thief onto his back.
Kuroba Kaito was looking up at him with the faintest of smiles.
Before Ginzo could say a single world to his daughter's best friend—no, his greatest quarry—a shout from behind him made him jump and glance back over his shoulder. He waved and turned back.
…Kaito was no longer wearing the infamous white suit. Kaitou Kid's uniform had vanished, leaving the teenager clad in the same sort of clothes any other boy his age would wear: jeans, sneakers, and a black sweatshirt. Even Kid's hat had disappeared from the pavement beside them.
Like this, he could have been anyone.
But he wasn't just anyone.
Nakamori watched as the now-unconscious young man was loaded into an ambulance and rushed off to a hospital. Kaito was not in good shape, and it was possible that he might not even make it to the hospital with those injuries.
…not just anyone at all.
Aoko reached out tentatively and touched his hand. He felt so cold.
…but wasn't that how she had described him that once at the amusement park, right to his face? Cold like ice cream. He had laughed it off and responded that ice cream was also sweet. She had smiled; it was an argument she couldn't quite deny, even when he annoyed her.
How could this be? There was no way that this pale, lifeless person could be the same young man who flipped her skirt every morning and teased her mercilessly and then would turn around and give her a present just because he had seen something that made him think of her.
And there was no way her mind could reconcile either of those images with the moonlight thief who made a spectacle of the police and did the impossible and kept her father from her…
Meimi-san had told her why. They had told her the entire story, all the reasons and logic behind Kaito's actions. But that wasn't enough. She wanted to hear it all from Kaito's lips, in Kaito's voice. She wanted Kaito to tell her the truth himself. Why that would make such a difference to her, she did not know.
He would wake up. He had better wake up so she could yell at him.
…and she needed to thank him.
To hear the story as her father had told it, it was between the two of them. Kaito had chosen to die himself rather than let her father be hurt or killed. She was still trying to decide whether that one act was enough to redeem so many lies.
In the end, she realized she would probably not make those decisions until she saw his eyes again.
Until then, she would wait and watch and wonder.
"A pleasure as always, Nakamori-keibu."
Even as he stood, hunched over and panting for air from the chase, Nakamori still found he had it in him to muster up a glare for the one who had addressed him. The one he had pursued all the way up here.
Kaitou Kid, International Criminal 1412, was sitting on the knee-high concrete barrier that ran around the perimeter of the rooftop. His pose was relaxed and far more suited to someone lounging around in their own living room than a wanted man facing his most dogged pursuer. "I can tell you're thrilled."
The police officer straightened and tried to pretend that he wasn't still out of breath. Maybe Aoko had been onto something when she had decided that he should stop smoking, and thus had gotten Kaito-kun to start hiding his cigarettes.
"You and your men were on top of their game tonight, Nakamori-keibu," Kid said in that smooth tenor of his. "But I will admit that I am pleased that there should be a moment for just the two of us."
"…coming from you, that sounds sort of creepy," Nakamori shot back.
It was odd, but the laughter that came from the white-clad figure almost felt like a reward. "I assure you that my intentions are completely pure." Though his face was obscured by shadows, both of the night and the ones cast by the brim of his hat, there was the sudden sense that his expression had grown more serious. "You do have my word on that."
"What exactly are your intentions?" Nakamori asked. Getting the thief in handcuffs was, strangely enough, the furthest thing from his mind. "Aside from making yourself into a public spectacle."
"You must admit, I'm quite good at that."
"I think I know that better than anyone."
Another chuckle through the relative darkness, followed by a pause before Kid spoke again. "With regards to my intentions, good sir…well, I suppose it would be easiest to say that in many ways, my intentions are the same as yours."
That stopped the Inspector cold. "The same? You're a criminal. I'm a police officer. We're on opposites sides of the law!" That niggling little voice in the back of his mind reminded him that Kaitou Kid was certainly no ordinary criminal, but he ignored it.
Kid spoke again, a hint of a smile in his very voice. "Have you ever heard the old saying about there being more than one way to skin a cat? This is one of those situations." He stood then, rising up to his full height. "At the most basic level, you and I are both after the same thing, Nakamori-keibu." White-clad shoulders moved up and down in a shrug. "We just have very different ways of going about accomplishing those goals."
"I don't suppose you're going to tell me what those goals are." It was a statement, not a question.
Kaitou Kid lifted one foot and stepped up onto the concrete barrier, now standing on the spot where a moment ago he had been sitting. "I have to keep some mystery about me. It wouldn't be any fun at all if I gave you all the answers." He did seem to hesitate. "But really? We're on the same side, Keibu. If things were different, you would understand that."
A step backwards, and Kid was gone.
After his replacement came, and he was relieved to go to the meeting at the precinct, Nakamori pondered over that memory the entire drive. It was from a heist months ago, where he had actually managed to track Kaitou Kid all the way to the rooftop.
He couldn't quite say why it had come to him as he climbed into his car, but it had given him an idea.
One that could either save them all, or cost him his job.
PS. A few other notes: this is one of those ideas that's been sitting in the Junk Drawer of my mind for quite a while, and finally I'm just deciding to write it, realism be damned. I'm aware that this part might be a bit jerky, but it's all set up now.
This should ultimately wind up being either three or four parts long. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!