Disclaimer: not mine. Movie-verse & Anime-verse.
Summary: For Takagi-puppy and Sato-kitty. And also Akai, wherever you are, as this is Friday the 13th. This one's for you. This chapter is brought to you by the number 13 and the letters 'B' and 'O' and is a product of the Children's Television Workshop. (yeah, right.)
"Good morning, Matsumoto-keishi. The usual?"
Matsumoto Kiyonaga gave the barista a pleasant nod and moved to the back of his favorite café seeking an empty booth to spend his brunch break and his only moment to relax during the workday. His regular brunch spot was the only place his new shadows didn't follow him and he had come to truly appreciate his hour of freedom. Oh, he was well sure he wasn't completely alone. Over the last few weeks he had come to recognize the same man sitting on a bench reading a newspaper out the café's window, the same elderly lady that came each day at the start of his break to feed the pigeons, people he had never seen before outside his favorite haunt until his abduction almost a month ago now. But none of them ever actually entered the café, a point he was becoming increasingly grateful for.
"Oh, sorry Masako-san," he said kindly, breaking from his inner musing. He leaned back in his seat so the young girl could set down his cappuccino and newspaper. "How are your classes going?" he asked in fatherly care.
"Just fine, sir," she replied with the easy smile of a familiar subject. "I made an 'A' on my last term paper. Thank you so much for lending me those books. I have them behind the bar so don't forget to remind me to give them to you before you leave today."
"That's wonderful news Masako-san. I'm glad they helped," he grinned. "Have you applied yet?" he asked, taking a quick sip. Masako pulled a folded paper from her back pocket and held it out to him solemnly. Setting his cup down, he pulled a pair of slim wire-rimmed glasses from his breast pocket very seldom people besides his daughter knew about, not bothering to put them on properly but holding them to his eyes like a pair of opera glasses and opened the sheet of paper. "'To Hirasawa Masako, Regarding your application to Touto University College of Pre-law, we are happy to accept-.' You made it in?" he asked in surprise.
"On full scholarship!" she finished, fairly bouncing on her toes.
Matsumoto gave the young girl a wide smile. "Congratulations, Masako-san. I know how hard you've worked for this."
"Thank you, I just had to let you know," she gushed. "Um… this is actually my last day today. I'm going to be moving closer to the university so I'll be transferring to one of our stores in the district."
"Well I'll certainly miss your coffee. I don't know anyone who makes them half as well as you," the superintendent told her kindly. "I'll have to drop by your new store to check up on you."
Masako grinned stepping back from his table. "I'll go check on your plate, sir," she said with a happy smile, wandering back to the store counter.
Matsumoto watched her go with a smile while he reached for his coffee again and shifted his attention to the window, a reflex he'd honed over the last few weeks of constantly checking for those tailing him. His hand froze halfway to his mouth as he realized the usual faces were nowhere to be seen. He set his cup back down now actively searching out the window with a growing frown. While part of him felt he should be happy to find the shadowy people who had infiltrated his life gone, a policeman's instinct deep down that years behind a desk had failed to quell was finding the situation strangely foreboding. A low rumble of an engine drew his attention to the window again and down the road outside, about half a block away, he saw two cars idling in the middle of the road facing opposite directions, windows down while the occupants of the two cars appeared to be speaking. A fineable offense in the middle of the moderately busy neighborhood, yet he stayed rooted in his seat in recognition, his breath hitched in his chest. One of the cars, a black German import, took off and he watched the blue sports cars turn into the alley across the street from the café.
The blue car was barely out of sight when a hail of screams started from the front of the café. He looked up to see two men in ski masks had burst in the door waving weapons at the cashier, customers and employees screaming and backing away in fear.
In the midst of a strange calm, almost surreally so, and despite the high intensity of the situation, Matsumoto frowned giving the armaments of the two criminals a once over. Even without the fact weapons were near impossible to come by in Japan for the average street criminal, Russian Silents were much too exotic for something as simple as a common robbery. With a last look to the alley where the blue car he'd seen so many times outside his mansion's windows hid, he pushed himself up from his seat approaching the crowd and walked slowly up to the men making demands and threats to those around them. As soon as his approach was noticed, he raised his hands in a calm clear sign of submission.
"What'dya want old man!" the burglar sneered pointing his gun in the superintendent's face.
Matsumoto couldn't help but notice the flash of recognition in the man's eyes, the only thing he could see with the mask in place. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a determined Masako reaching under the counter for the café's silent alarm. Swallowing hard, he stepped through the crowd of people too frightened to move until he stood in front of them all. "No one here wants to make trouble for you. I'm sure everyone will cooperate with whatever you demand. There's no need for more violence than necessary," he said, edging his way to the side until no one stood behind him. "I'm Matsumoto Kiyonaga. Alright? No one else needs to be hurt."
It seemed he had finally run out of time.
By: The Silversage
"WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT NAME?!"
Ran froze in place watching the usually cool and calm Ai shaking in fear and fury, wild-eyed and standing stock still in a puddle of hot coffee and broken shards of ceramic porcelain. Behind her, it was Professor Agasa's sudden fist slam on his desk that startled her out of her stupor whirling around to see the man's staring at her with an unreadable expression where he'd jumped to his feet at his desk, and for the first time in her life, she felt eerily out of place in the house she had known since she was five. "Ai-chan?" She took a small step towards the overcome girl and stopped, frozen again when Ai backed up a step. Behind her the professor closed a firm hand over her own, holding her still.
"Ran-kun, where have you heard this name?! Does anyone know you've heard it!?" he asked in quiet urgency, pulling on her arm with a gentleness that belied the intensity in his voice and turning her to face him. She gave a last look at Ai, who had backed up far enough to place one of the professor's couches between them. "Ran-kun! This is important!"
"Umm… I think… Araide-sensei may have heard. It was back when Conan-kun was so sick that first night. He kept saying that name. Agasa-hakase, what's going on?!" she asked with the growing chill of terror creeping upon her that she couldn't pinpoint the reason for but creep over her it did. "What does this Jin person have to do with Conan-kun?"
"NO! No, you can't ask about this! You mustn't find out about this! Never ask about that name!" Ai begged, curling in on herself and wrapping her arms around herself. "Just walk away from this, please!"
"Ai-chan, you know who these people are too? Are they threatening you too?" Ran asked, cautiously approaching the tense jumpy girl. Lost in her own terrors, Ai didn't notice Ran's approach until she was being pulled into a tight embrace. "Ai-chan, if someone is bothering you and Conan-kun just tell me and we'll find a way to fix this," Ran whispered in gentle concern.
"You can't. You can't! There's nothing you can do!" Ai insisted, trying to worm her way out of Ran's tight hold, fighting the tears that had started to gather at the corners of her eyes, tears she hadn't shed since the first and last time she had attacked Kudo for failing her own older sister. And now, in her panicked mindset, events were repeating themselves all over again. Again Mouri Ran was trying to place herself between herself and the shadows of the organization reaching out for her like that night on the docks only a few months past.
Ran just pulled her embrace around the weakly struggling child tighter, having recently gotten quite good at holding down a struggling child what with Conan's rash of violent dreams and delirious fevers and just held Ai closer, running gentle fingers through her hair until she stopped her fearful quivering breaking down into sheer tears. Ran gave a worried sigh after it seemed Ai was calming down and she felt the light wetness on the bit of shirt her school blazer didn't cover on her chest, looking up over the small head of dirty-blonde hair to where a worried Agasa was standing at his computer with a hand leaning on the back of his computer chair. "You are going to tell me what's going on," she ordered firmly of the older man.
"…Ran-kun… I promised Sh-Conan-kun I wouldn't…"
"No. You can't keep this from me anymore. I have a right to know what's going on and what has Ai-chan and Conan-kun so scared!" she insisted firmly. "Tell me!" Agasa held her angry worried glare a moment longer and finally sat back down with a sigh.
"All units, all units. We have registered a silent alarm at café Coffee and Cake. Unknown disturbance in progress. All available units, please respond."
Takagi leaned forward in his seat, raising the volume on Sato's police radio while Sato bit her lip. "We're only five minutes out," she mused exchanging a tense look with him. Without a word, Takagi reached for the siren on the dashboard and flipped it on, lowering his window to set it atop the car and make a fast grab for the overhead handle in anticipation of Sato's surge of speed and traffic weaving, a song and dance they both had down pat.
"Handcuffs?" Takagi asked checking his pocket for the familiar heavy rings.
"Check," Sato replied returning a hand to the wheel from checking her own pockets.
"Piece," Takagi called out next, working through their private checklist. He pulled his gun from his holster and pulled the clip, double checking the count. "Mine's good."
Takagi accepted the gun she was holding out to him and pulled the clip. "You're good," he replied jamming the clip back in place, handing it back.
"Go ahead and call in our position. Ask the dispatcher on duty to sign us in," she replied, tucking the semi back in its holster.
"Right." Takagi pulled the mike attachment from the radio. "Sato-san? Why does the name of that restaurant sound familiar? I know I should know that name for some reason," he mused aloud, lowering his hand.
"That sounds like the place the superintendent likes," Sato mused aloud. "Hold on. We're leaving the highway." Takagi lowered the radio piece and focused on his hold on the overhead bar. Sato glanced at him once they were level after her sharp turns from the off-ramp. "What are you waiting for? Call us in!"
"Ah." Takagi held the mike up again…
"This is patrol car 520, reporting in, first on the scene."
"Hold on," Sato said holding out a hand for Takagi to wait, which frankly, he was already doing as soon as the voice started talking.
"We were unable to see anyone through the windows. Approaching the entrance. We're going to try to see what's going on through the door, stand by."
They both leaned close to the console's speaker waiting for details.
"Oh, man! It looks like a bloodbath in there! Central it's looking like zero survivors. Put in a call to the coroner, I'm counting… eleven, no make that fourteen down I can see from here."
"Yuasa-san! Against the wall over there, is that… Central! Officer down! Officer down! We need a bus, now! It's Matsumoto-keishi!"
"Amari-kun! Wait! We haven't secured the scene yet, don't just run in!"
Takagi turned a shocked and frightened gaze on Sato at the sharp sounds of bullets fired, her own eyes wide with fear for their fellow officers.
"Car 250, respond! Car 250, this is Central! Please respond!"
"Hold on, Takagi-kun!" Sato floored the gas, and Takagi held on for dear life as she took turns in sharp angles, gritting his teeth at the force of the car's rear half making sharp slides to keep up with the front of the car with her tires squealing in protest. "Please, let them just be injured," she muttered aloud. Takagi gave up on trying for the radio, needing both hands to hold on to keep up with the shifting centrifugal force of the many turns.
"Matsumoto-keishi!" Takagi whispered in a voice tight with a mixture of fear and shock. "He can't be…"
"They're not getting away with this!" Sato growled, allowing herself to fall completely into her anger lest she break down and start crying right then and there that one of her father's closest friends, a man who's family had been neighbors and good friends of hers and her parents back when she was a child before his promotion could be… She poured every trick she knew into navigating the close quarters of the narrow streets to get her there just one second faster.
"Central! This is car 243 joining the scene! How far out are those ambulances?! Tell them to hurry! We'll secure the scene!"
Sato slammed on the brakes, letting the car skid sideways to a stop outside the family restaurant, mere feet from crashing into the unit already there. "Wait!" she ordered, grabbing Takagi's arm to hold him still before he could open the door. "There's no way whoever did this would stay after shooting police officers. They must be in the process of escaping," she spat out fiercely, scanning the streets.
"We're not going to help them?" Takagi asked in surprise gesturing to the black and white they had nearly hit.
"They've got the scene secured! We're better off finding whoever did this!" she replied fiercely. She gripped the wheel tightly, her eyes beginning to fill with tears she couldn't quite fight back anymore, spying the familiar sedan of the police superintendent parked innocently just outside the restaurant's wide window front, windows spattered with streaks of bright red blood.
They both watched the blue and white Viper SRT pull out of the alley ahead of them with a low thrum of its engine and turn down the road toward the highway. Sato growled low in her throat and her hand shot to her gearshift.
"Sato-san? What are you doing?" Takagi asked looking back to the flashing lights of the squad cars newly arrived surrounding the block.
"What does it look like, I'm catching the bastards that did this!" Sato exclaimed angrily with a squeal of tires when she punched the gas pedal. The car only made it forward a few meters before they were thrown against their seatbelts and warning lights lit across the dashboard from the stalled motor. Sato glared at Takagi through her tears, his hand still on the parking brake. "Why!?" she demanded through falling tears, "Why are you stopping me!? It's Matsumoto-keishi! And they…he was one of my father's friends! He's Megure-keibu's friend! We can't just sit and watch his murderers drive away!" she screamed through her tears.
"Sato-san," Takagi's voice was soft but firm and drew Sato's attention in its still seriousness. "We don't have time for any of this. Matsumoto-keishi gave us a job to do." He stared at her meaningfully.
Sato stared back as their clandestine conversation with the police superintendent caught up with her. She gave her partner a quick nod. "You're right. I'm sorry," she wiped her tears with the back of her hand. She cleared her throat and restarted the engine. "We need to get there before these people finish the job." Takagi nodded and took well-practiced hold of the overhead bar above his door. She pulled a sharp u-turn that took them past the alley. Takagi caught a glimpse of two crumpled bodies and a blood-washed wall before they were long past the scene and racing for the Matsumoto estate. He jumped slightly when Sato thrust her phone in his face during a turn he silently felt needed two hands on the wheel.
"Here, I need you to dial for me," Sato muttered with a steel edge of determination in her voice. "Sayuri-san needs to be ready to leave when we get there. We have no way of knowing how much time we're going to have."
"Right." Takagi answered scrolling through Sato's address book where they had programmed Matsumoto's home and family numbers only a few days ago. He watched her as best he could over the phone. Aside from a few more tears, she seemed okay in her grim determination of their current mission but he was well aware that she was holding herself together by sheer will power alone. "It's ringing," he told her. He sighed expectedly as she held out her hand in silent demand for the phone.
"Sayuri-san? This is Sato Miwako," Sato tightened her hold on the wheel until her knuckles were painfully white.
"Miwako-chan? It's been such a long time since I've heard from you," the cheerful voice over the phone answered. "How have you been?" Sato felt her tears, which she thought she had under control, well up so quickly she couldn't even try to blink them back and simply gave in to letting them fall uncontrolled. "I heard from my father that you finally closed your dad's case. I'm so…"
"I-I'm sorry Sayuri-san," Sato interrupted in a shaky voice. "I'm calling because something has happened." She stopped and took a steadying breath before she could continue.
"Miwako-chan…has something happened to my father?"
"…I'm so sorry," Sato whispered.
"I see… I understand, Miwako-chan," Sayuri answered almost calmly. "Please Miwako-chan, tell me… Was it the people who have been shadowing my father these last few weeks?"
"You know? He told you what's been happening?" Sato asked somewhat shocked that Matsumoto-keishi had told his daughter about something so dangerous.
"Miwako-chan, I know my father can seem like an intimidating person, but this is the man that raised me alone since I was eight. He could never keep anything that worries him from me. With everything that's been happening, he asked us to make plans in case something did happen. In fact, I've been expecting it. How serious was he hurt?"
Sato's hand clamped over her mouth to choke back a sob. Just as smoothly Takagi reached a hand over to hold the steering wheel steady. He asked permission with his eyes which she could only nod to behind her tears and took the cell phone from her while she reclaimed the steering wheel.
"Sayuri-san, this is Sato-san's partner," Takagi spoke quickly. They had already made it to the more upscale neighborhoods; he could just make out the Suzuki estate in the distance, which meant they were almost there. "We're on our way to pick you up. We need you to be ready to leave the moment we get there. Can you and Toshihiko-san be ready to leave when we get there?"
"It was Takagi-kun, right?" Sayuri asked. "We already have emergency bags ready."
"Please get whatever you need in the next five minutes. Stay away from any windows and wait for us in the garage with the door closed," Takagi ordered.
"Takagi-kun, where is my…"
Takagi snapped Sato's phone shut and tucked it into the breast pocket of his jacket. "We can tell her once we have them in protective custody," he said softly when Sato gave him a worried look. "They won't be ready to leave in time if we tell her now." She nodded through tears and they both sat in silence while navigating the maze of mansions.
"This is our fault," Sato said quietly. She curled over the steering wheel holding onto it desperately. "We knew he was under surveillance. We should have reported it."
"Sato-san, who could we have told?" Takagi said just as quietly. "These people have infiltrated everywhere."
"We could have gone to Megure-keibu," Sato suggested. "He would have moved mountains if we had asked him to."
"And we would have brought him and his wife into the line of fire," Takagi replied. "We can't second-guess our every move, we can only move forward. And right now we have to get Matsumoto-keishi's family away from here."
"Takagi-kun, something's not right here." The last turn had put them on the Matsumoto estate's street… which had a disturbing prevalence of black vehicles. "This might get dangerous." Takagi nodded and readied his weapon.
Sato raced down the street pulling a hard turn into the long driveway that almost had them colliding with the estate's tall iron wrought gate, and pulled a tire-squealing slide that ended with her side of the car flush against the garage door already rising. Matsumoto's daughter and son-in-law now had Sato's car safely between them and their surveillance detail slowly gathering in large numbers at their gates.
Takagi and Sato were out of the vehicle in a synchronized move honed from the last year and a half of working together, Takagi using his door for cover with his firearm pointed down the driveway over the door and Sato had her weapon similarly aimed over the roof of her RX7. "Hurry!" she shouted over her shoulder to the two hurrying to the vehicle. Toshihiko yanked open the back door of the vehicle and the two hurried in with nothing more than a mid-sized suitcase apiece. Sato and Takagi followed in after them with the sound of many vehicles roaring to life ahead of them.
"Keep your heads down." Sato ordered revving the engine in first gear before jumping directly to third in a racing start peel-out. She pulled the handbrake in a screeching power slide out of the driveway and accelerated down the street. Takagi gripped the headrest of his seat, fully turned around and leaned out the window to take a careful shot at the tires of the lead car behind them. Whether it was luck or providence, his first shot blew out the tire of the leading black sedan behind them that lost control and wound up stalling, half blocking the road behind them. They exchanged a look of relief while Takagi belted himself in. "Let's hope we don't run into anyone else and we can get to a safe house quickly."
"…My father wasn't just hurt, was he?" Sayuri asked from the back seat. Next to her, Toshihiko held her hand tightly.
"No, Sayuri-san," Sato replied grimly, keeping her line of sight strictly on the road ahead of them.
They were nearly out of the neighborhood when a sleek black coupe pulled out from a side street after them followed closely by a motorcycle Takagi was all too familiar with. "Sato-san," he warned.
"I see them," she answered back. "We're almost to the highway, we can lose them there." A second motorcycle joined them from the left. The two motorcycles started to creep up on their sides while the Porsche kept stubbornly behind them. "They're trying to box us in. Hang on."
Sato made a run for the main road ahead of them swerving sharply to the side forcing one of the motorcycles to break off. The opening gave Sato enough room to drift the next turn ignoring the red light and leaving a mess of cars forced to break blocking the Porsche behind them. Sato raced for the on-ramp with only the two motorcycles left to race after her. "We might just make it," she muttered with every intention of running any motorcycle that came too close into the wall.
They were just cresting the on-ramp when a blue car parked in the emergency lane came into view. Sato barely had time to register the sight of the two rifles pointed at them over the hood of the Viper when the loud bang of the two shots was heard over the roar of her engine.
Conan sighed to himself in consternation when his attempts to reach the door handle of the hotel room failed in painful wincing. Had he reached the room without incident that morning, he was sure he could have handled the distance but his rough tumbles in the back of Sato's car had aggravated his sore muscles that had only just begun to feel manageable, and were currently blown to hell. A few experimental rubs had confirmed his back and neck were feeling much puffier than when he had checked that morning. He glared at the key card Jodie had left for him down at the concierge's desk and settled for knocking on the door and waiting in the plush hallway of the hotel's floor of large suites feeling very out of place in his ill-fitting oversized coat and ski cap dipping low over his face hoping no one left their rooms until he was safely inside. He had already had to live through the humiliation of the concierge's 'awwing' and 'cooing' at how 'adorable' he looked and if he was wearing his big brother's clothes.
The second the room's door opened he marched in past the legs of an agent he vaguely recognized from Kir's hospital stay with barely a word of thanks, ripping the coat off as he went and chucking it onto a chair next to an ornate marble table with a flower arrangement against the wall and throwing the hat after it. Around him, several agents gave him nods of greeting a few staring openly at his visible bandages, which he strictly ignored, scanning the room for sign of Jodie and the others. His gaze fell on the closed double doors of what he imagined was the suite's dining room and stalked over to it, giving the door a couple of kicks with his good foot.
"Oh, good. Conan-kun, you're here," James greeted blithely, opening the doors wide for the sullen child to enter.
Conan stalked in, his glare finding Kaito quickly at the table. "I hate you," he glowered at the thief staring back at him, glare turning into a light flush as Kaito had the temerity to burst out laughing.
"Serves you right you little groper," Kaito shot back between fits of laughing.
At that, Conan's light blush of embarrassment for being laughed at spread in milliseconds to consume his face to his ear tips, leaving Heiji and Hakuba staring between the two in confusion. Conan maturely stomped his way to Heiji's side of the table away from the laughing teenager having a grand time making him miserable and pulled out the seat, giving a hop to land the top half of his torso on its seat and giving a soft grunt pulling himself up on it by his forearms, legs swinging in the air. Not bothering to help knowing he'd only be glared at, Heiji rest his cheek on a hand and watched him struggle, waiting until the boy, now red-faced from effort, was fully up on the chair kneeling on his knees to see over the table edge. "Sato-keiji let ya get away?" he asked in a half-bored half-amused voice. "I'm surprised. I thought she was gonna handcuff you to herself so ya couldn't escape."
Conan shifted his glare to his friend's arching eyebrow and barely disguised grin. "Funny," he muttered in a droll voice around his heaving breaths from his fight onto the chair.
"Told ya not to keep avoiding them," Heiji continued earning him another pointed glare. "Hey, what did Kuroba mean when he said 'groper'?" he asked in a private soft voice. Conan held his glare another few seconds and turned his attention to the group, ignoring the Osakan's question.
"Sorry I'm late," he told the two FBI agents patiently watching their bickering in amusement. "I was detained," he finished with a light glare Kaito's way.
"It's alright. You haven't missed much," Jodie replied. "They only got here maybe fifteen, twenty minutes before you did."
Conan looked over at Kaito and Hakuba in surprise. He had wound up stuck in Sato's car at least forty minutes. "I had an errand to run," Hakuba told him lightly, observing his questioning look.
Conan shifted his attention to the still lightly smoking laptop on the table. "What happened to that?" he asked.
"Night Baron happened," Hakuba answered, giving the laptop a light poke with a pen. "It seems there's no way to make a burned copy of the hard drive's content without carrying the virus with it. Our evidence is going to come down to using the original files on the hard drive without any way of backing them up if we can't find a way to deactivate the virus."
"We'll have to print hard copies of everything," Conan mused, reflecting on how precious each file on the drive was going to be now that they had little means of making digital copies of anything in the drive.
"We're giving them Hakuba's computer since it's just safer if the drive stays where it is," Kaito added.
Conan turned a surprised look of shock Hakuba's way. "I'm really sorry about having to turn over your computer, I'll replace it," Conan told him in a low voice.
"It's fine, I can get a new one myself, Conan-kun. It's worth it if it can stop these people," Hakuba returned frankly. Conan held his gaze for a moment and finally gave Hakuba a nod of acknowledgement. "Oh, and I suppose we should have mentioned this earlier," he continued, turning to address the two FBI agents, waiting politely for James to sit down again. "On our way here, we encountered the car of that Gin person."
"You saw Gin's car?!" Conan exclaimed in alarm, leaning over the table on his hands towards the blonde. "Where?!"
"When we were passing through Beika," Kaito added. "We saw Gin and Vodka both," he told them splitting his attention between Conan and the now very interested agents.
"That's right," Heiji muttered with an annoyed sigh. "It's my fault K-…er…-Conan-kun," he added catching his slip with a withering glance from Hakuba. "They wouldn't listen ta me."
"Why? What happened?" Conan asked, suddenly on high alert.
"Umm… I kinda broke into his car?" Kaito confessed hesitantly.
"You WHAT?!" Conan yelled.
"Oh, dear. Kuroba…-kun? I really don't think that was a very good idea," Jodie agreed after exchanging an alarmed look with James.
"I told 'em not to," Heiji spoke up insistently.
"Relax, Conan-kun. I wouldn't usually endorse Kuroba's illicit habits but some good did come of it," Hakuba said turning his nose up at Heiji for so quickly assigning the two of them blame and ignoring Kaito's glare.
"Right," Kaito jumped in, giving Hakuba a light kick under the table and pouting lightly when Hakuba made no reaction. "That tracer you planted on me last night…"
"You didn't," Conan moaned.
"Hakuba hid it really well. There's no way they'll find it," Kaito insisted.
"Do you mean to say we have a tracking devise on Gin right now?!" James asked in stunned amazement.
Conan sighed, breaking his glare on the two Ekoda-cho teens and activated the lens on his glasses. "It looks like he's somewhere in Beika," he said, watching the red dot closely. "He's on the move but not particularly fast. I'll consider us lucky if he's just out running errands again like the first time I found his car," he muttered. He lowered his glasses to peer at Kaito and Hakuba over the top like a stern teacher. "With this, we may be able to find their new base. But it was still reckless," he scolded when he noticed the two start to grin. "We can be thankful for small miracles none of you were seen." Next to him, Heiji dropped his face into his crossed arms on the table with a low miserable moan. "What now!" Conan demanded glaring at them all.
"Um… he saw them," Kaito volunteered, pointing at Hakuba and Heiji in turn. "They shoved me in an alley."
Conan glared down at Heiji next to him, assigning his friend full blame for supposedly knowing better than the two Ekoda-cho students. "Quit looking at me like that," Heiji muttered, sparing Conan a one eyed look from his arm nest. "I'm not the one who decided ta hold a conversation with the guy," he grumbled glaring at Hakuba across the table.
"… … …I just can't leave any of you alone ever!" Conan growled with his eyebrows twitching madly.
"That was an incredibly dangerous move, Hakuba-kun," Jodie added tensely. "One wrong step and you could be facing protective custody when dealing with these people and even then your chances are slim."
"I'll be fine," Hakuba insisted seriously, "Though I do apologize for letting your friend be noticed," he told Conan sincerely. Across the table, Heiji scoffed at his polite apologetic tones to Conan and re-buried his face.
"That aside," Conan grumbled pointedly giving Hakuba a sharp glare, "I have a few more people that are going to need to be brought in. People who are discreet." He gave up his glare on the blonde and turned to face the two agents. "Detectives Sato and Takagi. From what I understand, they have found some evidence of their own." He poked Heiji in the arm to draw him out of his burrow.
"New evidence?! Have these two detectives really found some!?" Jodie asked excitedly.
"These are the two you asked us to monitor, right? If they've found anything we must have access to it," James agreed looking equally eager. "Do you know what they have?"
"They have a laptop Irish planted in the tower," Heiji spoke up, "It has all the video surveillance feeds from the tower during the attack."
Jodie's mouth fell open in shock, turning to exchange surprise with the equally shocked James. "That's… astounding!" James wondered aloud. "They really have the entire thing on video!?"
"More than that. They have a huge bag of stuff they won't let me see," Heiji continued.
"Really?!" Hakuba piped up from his side of the table with amused interest and Heiji made a face at his droll tone, brimming with all the comments he was probably considering making about his intellectual failings.
"How soon can we orchestrate a meeting with these detectives?" James asked Conan, learning fast when to drop his attention on the teenagers at the table.
"Today. It's already arranged. I've asked them to stop by after their shift ends," Conan replied with his familiar shark grin spreading across his face. James smiled, both happy and amazed that the boy had once again already anticipated him. "It looks like we're about to be one step closer," he told Jodie quietly.
Sato fought the wheel from her hunched position. She had definitely been running much too fast for the unexpected swerve and her wrists and forearms were screaming from the sheer force it took to control the swerve and keep the car from sliding too wide and straight into the concrete median. She couldn't even assess the situation in the car around her when a second volley of shots pinged against the car's exterior, flooring the gas and forcing sore arms to round out the swerve. As soon as she could spare a hand free from the wheel she dragged the back of her hand across her cheek, oddly wet and glanced down. Her hand was streaked with a light spattering of bright red blood, and her cheek had felt most uninjured.
Her eyes widened in fear focusing on the two spidering holes in the glass of her windshield, one of them nearly centered on the passenger side. A distant but loud rev behind them kept her eyes split between watching her mirrors and where they were going as the blue sports car they passed roared to life and the two motorcycles blew past the car after them.
"Takagi! Answer me, damn it!" she cried, her hands clenching the steering wheel for dear life… and she just couldn't seem to force herself to look to the side at all.
Next to her, she finally heard movement… the light twinkling of glass falling. She finally dared a peek to her partner who was slowly leaning forward and carefully brushing tiny shards of glass from his hair. Perhaps sensing her arrested stare, Takagi looked to the side from his bent position, still not ready to straighten and risk glass falling in his eyes and Sato's wavering stare centered on the line of red crossing the edge of his cheek toward his ear and the bright red blood running down the side of his face, her mouth falling open at the sight of how close, mere millimeters, the bullet had come from piercing straight through his temple. "SATO-SAN? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING?" Takagi asked a little too loudly and promptly frowned, rubbing the back of his wrist against his ear, keeping his glass-tainted fingers away from his face.
Sato finally shut her mouth, her chest, tight in a twisted terror, beginning to unknot itself and the resultant rush made her feel shaky and giddy all at once. "…you idiot," she murmured under her breath. "Do that to me again and I will shoot you!" she muttered, focusing her attention fully on the road.
"WHAT?" Takagi asked in confusion, still fussing at his ear with the back of his hand trying to alleviate the incessant ringing.
"Forget it!" Sato told him in a loud voice. "Sayori-san, Toshihiku-san, are you both alright?" she asked checking her rearview for both their passengers and their pursuers.
"We're fine," Toshihiku replied from his protective curl over Sayori. Satisfied in his answer, Sato switched her focus back to the vehicles behind them. At her side, Takagi was dialing on his cell phone and Sato gave him an odd look, watching him hold it to his left ear with one hand, the other making a second attempt to clear out his hair.
"What are you doing?" she asked loudly.
"Conan-kun told us to call him if we saw that Porsche," he replied in a volume closer to normal and Sato gave an inward sigh of relief the bullet had done no permanent damage. Not even pausing to think the move odd for them to be calling in their situation to the strange child, she gave him a fierce nod of approval focused on her appointed task of keeping them all alive until some kind of plan was made to rid themselves of their pursuers.
Jodie looked up with an annoyed glare to a group of young agents gathering around the hotel room television. With a heavy sigh for needing to prod the younger members of their team back to work yet again, she left the small encampment of teens to stalk over to the suite's large living room area. Conan spared her a quick glance of curiosity that quickly became sharp and hawk-like noting the sudden change in her posture when she looked to see what had her men so enraptured. He was already hopping down from his chair and trailing after her before she turned to give them a serious look and beckon them over.
Conan wedged himself past the light forest of legs abandoning his fellow detectives to fight for view over the shoulders of the adults and snagged himself a front row view of the breaking news report interrupting whatever mindless sitcom the television had been playing for background noise. His eyes widened in surprise, recognizing the restaurant behind the reporter and the obvious blood on the windows visible even from the distance the police on scene were keeping the reporters to. "Raise it," Jodie ordered softly to one of the agents on the couch.
"…haven't been able to have many questions answered from the police on scene but for the moment, it seems there were no survivors in this altercation with two unidentified assailants and word is, one of the victims is rumored to be a high level authority in the police force and that's in addition to the deaths of the two officers who were first on the scene…"
"Oh my God," Hakuba murmured under his breath, his complexion dropping in color, fishing through his jacket pocket for his cell and slipping away from the group. "Come on father, pick up," he muttered dropping to the back of the room to pace.
"Have they said who it was!?" Kaito asked in a dread fear of his own, fighting his own urge to phone Nakamori just to make sure the man was keeping to his usual workaholic mode of skipping meals. He actually jumped, a hand catching onto Heiji's jacketed arm when two shrill phone rings sounded loudly in the room almost simultaneously.
At the front of the crowd, Conan gave his phone a suspicious once-over at the 'unknown' call his cell's i.d. glared up at him and exchanged a sharp-eyed look with Jodie also frowning over her phone. Catching the boy's intent, Jodie backed away from the group, retreating into the conference room they had just left with Conan running to catch up with her and trailing his group of detective friends after a sharp snap and point to the room. She caught James' eye on her way, waving him over to follow.
"Yes?" she answered as soon as she reached the quieter room.
"…a hit has been called…" a whispering voice answered, just loud enough to be heard over the random noise of the outdoors.
"…Kir," Jodie replied in answer, recognizing the light tone and drawing James' attention in an instant.
"…I can't fake my way out of this. You must protect them… or I will have to go through with it. We're going now."
"Just tell me who," Jodie answered with a frown, her temper drawing in agitation knowing full well the CIA agent meant it.
"I'm sending our list to your email. It's a double hit with multiple secondary targets. I leave it to you."
Jodie cursed under her breath hearing the woman hang up abruptly. "We have a situation," she spoke in a rush to James while she hurriedly pulled her laptop from a carry-all she'd left in a corner of the room earlier that day. "Get everyone ready, they're about to make a move," she told him urgently, racing to pull up her email.
In his own corner of the room, Conan ignored Jodie's conversation answering his own phone. "Hel-"
"They're coming for her!"
Conan froze recognizing the rushed voice, even over the loud background sound of rushing wind and an engine, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. "What do you want Ver-"
"There's no time! They're coming for her and her family! You're in danger too! Get out now! There's nothing I can do to help you! Go! … … …"
Conan felt his fingers go cold on his phone, now beeping a dial tone and he felt his chest synch tight, looking up at Jodie with a look fast approaching panic. If Jodie noticed, she didn't stop or pause in her frenzied task of printing out whatever the CIA agent had sent her and Conan swung his fear-stricken gaze to Heiji. The young Osakan dropped to a knee the second he noticed Conan's pale face with Kaito and Hakuba right behind him, huddling close when they noticed his move.
"Kudo! What's wrong?" Heiji hissed in a quiet whisper.
"They're coming. They've found out." His voice came out in a stricken, dumbfounded whisper of a voice even as his mind was screaming at him to MOVE.
"What?!" Kaito hissed in surprise as softly as he could.
"Shit," Heiji muttered under his voice but whatever he was about to say next was swallowed in Jodie's strict voice calling the room to silence.
"'The organization has just put a hit out on the two detectives Conan-kun had us put under watch. Kriss, call Michaels and Jameson and tell them to extract now! I want Detectives Sato and Takagi's parents in our custody and at our safe house yesterday! Stevens you're in charge, pick four people for your team and make sure the safehouse is ready and guarded by the time Michaels and Jameson bring them. We also have an additional family we weren't expecting that was put on their list as secondaries so we need to move fast. We'll also be taking the Mouri family!" She paused as agents all around the room and the three teenagers all turned and stared at the child in their midst turning whiter and whiter at every second.
The silence was broken when Conan's phone rang loudly again, and the shaken boy yelped aloud at the shock of it. Under everyone's sorrowful gaze, Conan answered the phone with shaking hands. "Hello?" he answered shakily.
"Conan-kun, it's Takagi. I'm not sure what you can do about it, but you told us to call you if we saw a black Porsche," Takagi spoke quickly, clearly audible in the stunned silence of the room and Conan could hear the tangled background sound of a car being stressed through high paced moves. And his shell-shocked mind was moving with the speed of mud trying to react. Making a quick decision watching the boy, Heiji reached down and snatched the phone from his limp grip.
"Keiji-han? It's Hattori," he walked away from the boy with the eyes of the FBI following him as he moved closer to Jodie. "They're in the middle of a car chase right now," he told her in a lowered voice. "They're being chased by them and they need help now!" he told her urgently. "They have two targets the organization was going to eliminate with them!"
Down near his knees, Conan snapped his head up at his words, his eyes picking up their usual sharpness and Kaito breathed a light sigh of relief nearby watching the usual ferocity he knew so well in the kid returning.
"Who do they have with them?" Conan asked sharply, and Heiji paused, and grinned seeing Conan was pulling himself back under control. He nodded to the kid, asking his question for him to the Beika-cho detective.
"He says they have Matsumoto-keishi's family with them," he paused listening again, and the room watched his face fall at whatever was said next. "Matsumoto-keishi… was just assassinated," he said in a quiet, stunned voice. Conan's eyes went wide as did Hakuba and Kaito's eyes, all quite familiar with the name. Of the FBI, Jodie and James nodded gravely, more familiar with Tokyo police forces members than many of the agents under them.
"They need extracting and we're wasting precious time," Jodie replied, taking up her lead again. "Camel, take Johnson, Smith, Garcia, Yokokura and Jackson and get them to safety. James-san can I ask you to handle finding Mouri-san and his wife?"
"I can give you Eri-obasan's address. She should be at the office right now," Conan piped up with a glance at his watch.
"And don't worry, I'll find Ran myself Conan-kun," Jodie told him in grim seriousness, exchanging a soft look with Conan who nodded gratefully.
"Thank you," Conan told her quietly. "You have her number, right?" he asked to which Jodie smiled an affirmative.
"You're not going with them?" Kaito asked in surprise, somewhat stunned.
"They're looking for me. By now they all know what Ran and I and her parents look like. If I go, I might be noticed. We'd only be bringing them straight to her. It's safer if I stay away," Conan reasoned. "Camel-san, I'm going with you. We need Sato-keiji and Takagi-keiji to follow your group without question. They don't know any of you all that well and we won't have time to waste. But they'll trust me."
"Alright kid. We're wasting time, lets go," Camel said hurriedly, yanking his coat from where it was lying draped over a chair and rushing to the door, his aforementioned team following after him. Conan gave him a fierce nod and turned to face his fellow detectives.
"Hattori, you need to let Yamato-keibu know what's happened," he said in low voice, now that the FBI agents were scattering to their tasks of coordinating the multiple rescues. "They need to be ready to leave Takagi-keiji's apartment. We're racing the clock before the organization sends someone there. We've caught a bit of a break with them knowing Takagi-keiji is on the road right now."
"Got it," Hattori replied.
Conan turned to face Kaito with stern eyes. "You need to decide what you're going to do. I've got to go with Ran and Oji-san wherever they can hide us."
"I'm going too," Kaito answered without missing a beat, his gaze just as fierce in case the brat was hiding any thoughts of ditching him. Conan nodded, already knowing what the thief's likely answer would be.
"I will too," Hakuba added, in a slight rush, Kaito and Heiji looking him askance. "In for a penny and all that," he muttered. Conan gave him a firm nod, the only one of the group who seemed to have been expecting his choice.
"Come on, kid! Or we'll leave you behind!" Camel called from the suite's door, holding it open for the last of his team rushing out. Conan gave them all a last look and took off out the door activating his glasses' radar as he went followed closely by James and Jodie.
Watching them go, Heiji fished his phone from his pocket and retreated into the dining room they'd just vacated, pulling the door closed as he went only to be stopped by Kaito's hand above his on the door and frowned somewhat finding Hakuba on the thief's heels but said nothing, leaving the two to follow him in while he dialed out. He leaned back against the table, fidgeting a leg, waiting with tense energy for the detective to pick up.
"Yamato-keibu, we have a huge problem," he said fiercely watching the FBI agents rushing about madly through the sliver of open door. "And we're running out 'a time."
"Damn it!" Yamato cursed loudly, pocketing his phone in a hurry and drawing Uehara's attention away from cutting the pictures from the docket of material Sato had brought home from the botched Kid heist for their evidence map on the wall. She looked up in alarm seeing him snag a shoulder loop of the evidence bag with his crutch and hauling it closer in an agitated jerky move.
"What's wrong?" she asked instantly wary when she noticed he had paled considerably.
"Pack all that!" he ordered roughly pointing at the stack of folders and binders. "It was that Hattori kid. Our two detectives just got put on these freaks' murder list and he says they're not the type to waste time. I want every stitch of evidence in this room packed in our car and ready to get out of here now!"
Uehara's eyes went wide in shock and she sat frozen in place unable to move. "Are they okay?!" she asked urgently, watching him pull himself to his feet.
"He said they're being chased right now," he replied in hurried tones, rushing to the wall of evidence where he began ripping down papers and pictures popping out push pins to fall to the floor around him along with all the lengths of string previously crossing the wall in complex webworks. "He didn't add much detail except that help is on the way to them. What are you doing Yui!? Move it!" he ordered in a near yell.
It was just the impetus she needed to shake herself from her worry and start shoving folders into the gym bag, and jamming in fistfuls of papers Yamato was handing her while he worked his way across the wall, the both of them moving just slow enough to make sure they left not a scrap of the pages and photos for some assassination squad to find later. Yamato left her in the living room to make a rushed trip to the kitchen for anything left behind in the room. His eyes fell quickly to the sink with four coffee mugs neatly stacked in the drying rack. With a muffled curse he started pulling cabinet doors for the proper place to store them away and searching for any other evidence in the room four people had been staying in the apartment the last week. His searching found him the drawer of random odds and ends Takagi stored the few tools he owned.
"Yui! That guy left his car here, right?" he called from the kitchen.
"Yes! They went in Miwako-san's car!" she called back, dashing from the coffee table and a full gym bag to Takagi's room for something else to fill with their evidence. "He has the keys for it though!" She came back from the bedroom with an armful of suitcases in time to see her partner hurriedly slipping his shoes on. "Where are you going?" she asked worriedly passing him up for the computer and the mess of discs and electronics on Takagi's desk. He paused just long enough to hold up his free hand full of screwdrivers.
"I'm gonna give 'em a fighting chance," he answered, pulling his arm out of his crutch to pull on his jacket, still laying across the top of the couch where it had been for the last few days. "Don't forget to get rid of that futon," he ordered on his way to the door. "It's just as important no one figures out they should be chasing four people instead of two long enough for us to find a safe house to regroup in later."
"You expect we'll be found out," Yui said without hint of a question in her voice.
"We've been here too long," he called back from the door, not bothering to slow down. "We've both left prints everywhere and we don't have time to do anything about it."
"So wherever they wind up, we're going with them," she finished. Her words finally made him pause, his hand frozen on the doorknob.
"…I'm sorry about this Yui," he replied after a moment. And then gave a self-deprecating laugh. "I've really landed us in deep this time."
She looked up from Takagi's computer she was in the middle of shutting down. "Wouldn't have it any other way Kan-chan," she called back, her sharp eyes almost twinkling in wicked mirth despite the dangerous net of time closing in on them. "You always were good at finding adventures that bring nothing but trouble. Now hurry up and do whatever you were planning on, the clock's running," she finished, turning back to the now black screen and unplugging wires and cables. Yamato gave her a rakish grin she couldn't see and left the apartment.
The phone was ringing.
The phone in Professor Agasa's kitchen was ringing loudly in the room's silence following the wake of Ran's demand. Ran and Agasa both stood rather frozen in place, neither willing to set aside their stubborn stances. It was Ai that pulled herself out of Ran's arms, wiping away at still teary eyes in frustration for her inability to have stayed detached in front of the high school girl and forcing herself to settle back into her normal temperament by the time she reached the kitchen, dragging a stool to the counter. Considering the phone had been ringing for such a long time, she felt fairly confident who was calling and if she was right, Kudo was going to get the earful of his life for having screwed up so badly this time. There was almost no way now to avoid full disclosure of the organization to Ran and she was not pleased.
"Edogawa-kun," she answered in a low voice brimming with a repressed urge to shout.
"Haibara! Why didn't you answer?! Do you have any idea how bad that scared me?!" his voice raged over the line.
"I really don't care," she answered after holding the phone away from her ear and keeping a close eye on Ran and the professor to make sure they hadn't heard him. "I see you're finally rejoining the world after your vacation," she told him sarcastically. "How could you possibly have let her find out about this! Did I not make myself clear that knowing ANYTHING about the organization would be her DEATH!" she cried, barely managing to keep her voice at an unnoticeable level to the two in the open-plan house's living room. "Do you realize what you've done?!" Across the line, all she could hear was silence that seemed to go on forever. "WELL!? ANSWER ME, EDOGAWA-KUN!"
"… …Ran's there?" he asked with a tense stillness and edged with a hopefulness he was unwilling to believe.
"Yes, she's here! And she'd asking about them! What did you do to screw up this badly!? She knows names!" Ai hissed. "She knows GIN'S name!" She listened to his silence over the line holding the phone tight to her ear, stretching her hearing for the light background sounds of what sounded like a car's engine. Good. The fool detective had better be on his way there. She absolutely refused to explain everything to the girl alone. "What do you have to say for yourself, Edogawa-kun!?" she demanded, tiring quickly of his silence.
"…It doesn't matter anymore," he answered softly. "There's no point now."
"What?! What are you talking about?!" she asked irately, irritated by what seemed his lack of taking the situation for the serious danger to his childhood friend that it was.
"Listen, Haibara. You have to keep her there! Don't let her leave! It's got to be a miracle she's with you instead of at school right now," he answered and Ai bit back the long list of scathing comments she had ready for him hearing the tense seriousness in his voice she hadn't heard since the foul up when his tracer and listening bug had wound up in organization hands.
"What've you done now?" she asked, her voice holding less and less venom being quickly replaced by the familiar cold sense of foreboding any dealings with the organization tended to bring. "Something's gone wrong, hasn't it?"
"It's happened. We're going to bug out," he told her in an even voice meant to be calming. Ai felt her fingers go cold on the phone receiver, a shallow gasp leaving her pale and shaking, staring wide-eyed to where Ran was trying to cajole answers from the older man.
"…what?" her voice almost squeaked out but came as more of a breathless whisper.
"It's not on you. You and the professor are still safe as far as I know," Conan continued, "It's up to you two what you decide, but the Mouri's have made their list and we need to disappear." Ai barely listened to him, her shocked eyes moving from Ran to the outer walls of the house, two-stories of large clear windows and skylights letting in sunny light that she had only recently begun to look at as making the house she lived in a place of sunlight as opposed to the terror it had given her in the beginning when she first started making the elderly man's house her home, her thoughts currently racing to her former mindset of how vulnerable one was in the house full of sunshine. She brought her sight right back to Ran with the sudden realization Conan was still talking. "…sending the FBI to find her mom and dad so can I ask you to just keep her there until Jodie-sensei arrives?"
"How?" Ai interrupted.
"How did this happen? Why are they coming after her," she asked softly, demanding an answer.
"Why does that matter right now?" Conan asked crossly for her having broken his stream of orders.
"I need to know. I need to know how close they are to linking the professor and I," she insisted feeling her sense of paranoia mount with every car she could see pass by through the gate in front of the professor's house. She flashed a fast look over her shoulder to the Kudo mansion in case anyone there was watching them and managed a sigh of relief that didn't make her feel any better finding the window curtains next door drawn.
"Sato-keiji and Takagi-keiji. They've been investigating their attack on Touto Tower. I don't know all the details but they were just put on their list for elimination a few minutes ago. The Mouri family was listed under secondary targets, all of us." Ai bit her lip, absorbing every detail in silent terror. "I was with Jodie-sensei and James-san when Vermouth called."
"And now you all have to disappear," she finished. "The lives you had are over now." Across the line, Conan fell silent again. "You said Jodie-san was on her way, right?" she asked, marveling at the fact she had kept any shaking from her voice.
"How long do we have?" she asked firmly, feeling her terrified energy starting to fall under control in anticipation of the work ahead of her.
"Twenty… maybe twenty-five minutes. I know it's not much time," he answered in apology.
"We'll be ready," she answered not even waiting for any social niceties of ending a conversation from him and hanging up before he had time to say anything else… she had all the information she would need anyway. She jumped down from her stool and rushed to lock the front door.
"Hakase, it's happened. It's time to go," she said forcing herself to stay calm and interrupt the arguing pair, walking up to them. "We don't have much time."
From his place at his computer, Professor Agasa paused in his arguing to stare at her in disbelief. "You can't mean…"
"That was Edogawa-kun on the phone. The Mouri's have been targeted. It's time to use the plan," she said softly. "He said we were still safe but…
"You plan to go with them," Agasa finished for her, rising from his chair and crouching down in front of her to give her an encouraging hug.
"I'm sorry I've brought this down on you too," she whispered leaning her forehead forward to rest on his shoulder feeling herself tear up again.
"Nonsense, Ai-kun. I knew this could happen from the first day I took you in," he told her in a fatherly voice. "Now, what kind of timeline are we working with?" he asked standing back up and looking over the floor.
"Twenty minutes," she answered, "You have a larger window since we aren't on their list yet."
"Alright, I'll start packing," he said navigating his way out of the living room's furniture.
"Our emergency suitcases are in the upstairs' closet," she called to him, wiping her eyes again in annoyance for the public display, directing the older man to where she had long stashed emergency 'get away' suitcases for them both not long after she started living there, full of clothes the professor had given up as mysteriously lost long ago.
"Ai-chan? What's going on? You two are going somewhere?" Ran asked after their confusing conversation in front of her.
"Mouri-san, I need your help," Ai said, her eyes narrowing in seriousness. "I need you to do as I ask and not ask any questions for now. Can you do that?" she asked, her voice only shaking slightly. She balled her fists as the increasing adrenalin jitters were starting to mount.
"O-Of course, Ai-chan. What do you need me to do?" Ran asked, confused but determined to do whatever she could. Ai gave her a nod and started for the basement stairs in a fast walk. The sooner she got Ran out of sight of the many windows the better. "Did you say Conan-kun just called?" Ran asked following her down the carpeted stairs to the basement office the professor had let Ai claim for her own. "Is he okay? I haven't been able to ask Hattori-kun how he's doing."
"Yes, he's fine for now," Ai answered distractedly, looking around the room taking stock of what needed to be done. With an assessing nod to herself, she tugged several heavy boxes of paper reams out from under her desk and proceeded to dump their contents on the floor. "All those notebooks," she said pointing to her once organized shelves, now a bit more haphazard since Conan's Osakan friend had come by and she fully blamed her disorderliness on his distracting presence in the house, "All the notes on the wall there," she said pointing to a low corkboard full of quick notes of sudden inspiration for chemical formulas she had amassed and had yet to test, "I need all of those packed in these boxes, as fast as you can. If you see anything on these tables that looks chemistry related, pack that too and set the boxes in the hallway," she ordered, grabbing one of the boxes and climbing her stool to a table full of chemistry glassware and sweeping them all into her box with the exception of any flasks still carrying liquid, hand placing them more carefully. "I'll be right back," she called over a shoulder, leaving Ran to start packing, still watching her in confusion. She made a fast trip upstairs to the house's fireplace, unloading the collection of glassware she used for her antidote experiments, grabbing a collection of nearby Cosmopolitan magazines and some of the Professor's science journals to shove in, lighting a match and leaving the glass to melt away any evidence of what they'd been used for. She paused just long enough to pull an envelope, slightly ratty from age and handling from the professor's desk, shaking its contents out into her hand, a black hard disc. She thanked her obsessive habit of backing up everything on all the home's computer's each night before she slept and slipped the disc into the professor's computer and left the device smoking while she walked away, disc in hand. She ran back downstairs finding Ran diligently working away at her appointed task and several finished boxes neatly stacked in the hallway. Ai pressed past her legs to reach her child-sized lab coat and fling it into the open box Ran was working on.
"Ai-chan, are you and Agasa-hakase going somewhere?" Ran asked carefully, knowing she had just promised not to ask questions. "It almost seems like you're packing up to go away someplace, like you're moving away somewhere," she said hesitantly.
"I am. You are too," Ai answered coolly, bent to her task of opening drawers in her desk and pulling out anything incriminating. She held the disk over head and waited until Ran obligingly took it. "Run that disk through this computer and the laptop in the corner over there," she muttered pointing by memory too occupied to bother looking up.
"W-What do you mean by that," Ran asked, freezing in place at the computer.
Ai looked up from her searching abruptly, "Mouri-san, the computer," she snapped bending back to her task. Pulling open the next drawer, she surreptitiously watched Ran through her lashes to make sure she was well occupied and slipped a handful of flat plastic cases full of spare needles for Conan's watch and what little she had left of her initial batch of temporary antidote into her pocket. She looked up again wide-eyed with a guilty start when Ran gave a cry of alarm and she looked up to see her fretting over the smoking destroyed computer. "It's supposed to do that," she said cutting through Ran's concern and returning to her own searching. "Do the laptop next."
"You're destroying these computers!?" Ran asked in alarm.
"Yes, the information on them is too dangerous," Ai answered through her searching.
"You said I was going away, what do you mean?" Ran asked in firm demand, taking in the increasingly bare room and now destroyed computer in front of her.
"I don't have time to explain much but because of something those detectives your family is close to have learned, you all are now under threat," Ai explained with a sigh.
"Takagi-keiji and Sato-keiji!?" Ran asked in alarm. "Are they okay?"
"I don't know," Ai replied tersely, forcing Ran to move as she pulled open the long thin drawer of the desk and pocketing a slim, old leather case.
"Under threat how? What's going to happen to my family? Do my mom and dad know they're in danger!?" Ran demanded.
"Most likely not," Ai replied, pushing the last of the boxes into the hall.
"What will happen to us?"
"If any of you are caught, you'll be killed," Ai answered sending her a firm look. "You're to stay here until someone comes to pick you up," she told the high school girl who had taken to pacing in the small room.
"No. I need to go home… right away," Ran said both to Ai and herself while she paced in arms-crossed distraction. "I mean, dad has no idea something like this is going on. And he's in the office all by himself right now. If something happened and he was hurt, there's no one there to help him," she fretted. She looked up to see Ai, just as arms-crossed, standing in the middle of the room watching her with thinly veiled worry.
"You have to stay here!" Ai ordered in no uncertain terms. "It's too dangerous for you to be seen right now! It's too dangerous for you to even be upstairs where someone could see you!"
"And is all this why you and Agasa-hakase are leaving too?" Ran demanded. "Is our being in danger affecting the two of you too!?" Ran asked in horror, sidestepping Ai's orders completely. "Please don't tell me this means you both have to leave your homes too!?" She hardly waited for an answer to her question, taking in the stripped room and making the affirmation herself. She moved for her book bag she'd brought downstairs with her, removing her phone and re-buckling the satchel.
"Don't worry about that, it's not your problem," Ai shot back. "Didn't you hear me?! I said you can't leave!" She watched in alarm as Ran gathered her things, readying herself to leave. She made a quick dive, pulling something from under the small couch Agasa had let her have.
"Thank you for telling me all this Ai-chan," Ran said, pulling on the bag's tightened shoulder straps she almost never used and fitting her arms through them as soon as the straps were adjusted long enough to be comfortable. "But you don't have to worry, dad and I will be fine." She paused noticing the young girl standing in her path and right in the doorway.
"You can't go! You'll die if you leave!" Ai cried and Ran stopped cold, not from her plea but from the P32 Ai had pointed straight at her with a steady hand despite her terror she was barely keeping bottled down.
"Ai… chan?" Ran froze in place in the room. "Where did you… How did you…"
In the doorway Ai watched her sadly, backing up and pulling the door with her as she did. "I'm sorry Mouri-san… but you're staying here where it's safe." She kept the gun trained on Ran, her hand on the doorknob holding tight to the key she held between her palm and metal, readying it for use the instant the door was shut. She knew she wouldn't have much time once she closed the door and Ran no longer had a gun pointed at her. Taking a deep breath and holding it, she quickly slammed the door shut and hurried with shaking fingers to shove in the key and turn it, jumping back from the door as it shuddered violently from what was likely a powerful kick from the other side and she let out a shaky breath glad the professor had installed heavy metal doors everywhere in his house to protect themselves from any possible explosions from his experiments. She had no doubt if the door had been wood, it would be lying in pieces. She dragged in heavy breaths from the far side of the corridor in front of the door watching it shake and tremble from more blows.
"Ai-chan! Ai-chan, let me out! You have to let me out! I need to find my dad, please! Ai-chan!"
Ai stared at the door with a sigh now that her breath was back to normal and leaned back heavily against the wall, sliding down to the floor in the dim yellow light of the downstairs hallway and drew her knees to her chest, listening to the muffled pleading from the door, flinching at the cold metal of the gun held loosely in her hands touching her leg. 'She's safe, Edogawa-kun. Like I promised. Now please hurry!'
Conan shut his phone, shoving it deep in his pocket. "You already got Jodie on her way to that professor of yours' house?" Camel asked from the seat in front of him.
"Yes," he answered with a sigh of relief, finally feeling the closest to calm he'd felt since the calls from Vermouth and Kir had come in. He adjusted his focus back to the lens in front of him, flipping through zoom levels while Camel gave him the occasional look through the rearview.
"What've ya got kid?"
"Gin's on highway one, moving north towards Chiyoda ward," Conan answered, his eyes almost crossed focusing on the small blip on his glasses. "He's moving pretty fast. That's the wrong way from Beika, he must be chasing Sato-keiji and Takagi-keiji."
Camel nodded at the sound logic, taking an on ramp onto the highway. "Afraid we're not as familiar with the roads of Tokyo as you must be, kid. Think you can make us a plan? We need to get ahead of them all if our plan's going to work," he said watching over the boy as he stood on his seat to look out the back windshield at the group of cars following them.
Conan gave him a rather sharkish grin and hopped up to the gap between the two front seats. "Up ahead, highway one splits in two and then joins a loop in the center of Tokyo in Chiyoda. They're not that far ahead of us and they just entered the right branch of the split. If we take the left and gun it, we can pull ahead and be waiting for them when they enter the loop."
Camel grinned rakishly back at the boy. "You're sure they'll turn left when they join the loop?" he asked, more interested in Conan's reasoning than actually criticizing his plan.
"If they turned right, the highway's being repaved, it's down to two lanes," Conan explained with a wide smile, eyes sharp with anticipation. "Will that work for what you've got in mind?" he asked, even though he was almost sure what Agent Camel was planning.
"Kid? You ever seen a little movie called 'Smokey and the Bandit'?"
A Mercedes squealed to a stop outside the detective agency and James hurried out his door following after Eri's brisk walk for the stairs. "Madam I really think it would be safest if you waited in the car," he called following her up the stairs.
"We have two floors to search," Eri replied from above him. "It makes much more sense for us to each take floor and where does leaving me alone in a car while you are in a location with no direct line of sight to see if I really am safe make any sense?" Eri shot back, leaving him behind on the second floor landing while she took the third. James gave a frustrated sigh and entered the agency office somewhere having lost track of the exact moment he had stopped giving orders and begun taking them from the formidable woman.
He had arrived so quickly at the law office he had been surprised himself he hadn't been stopped, but with the seriousness of the shooting that had just happened, it seemed most of the police force in the ward were entirely too busy to worry about a speeding tourist. Flashing his badge had gotten him into her personal office with little time spent. But once there, he had had to let slip the fact of the superintendent's murder, less than an hour old, to fully impress on her skepticism the graveness of the situation, a move he was still unsure of being unable to check her office for any bugs the organization might have had present. Though once fully convinced, Kisaki Eri had jumped into action with the clear mindedness of one well accustomed to handling dire situations. She had immediately sent away every member of her staff on fuax breaks or errands until the office was completely empty. For every case she had pending, she sent out a series of faxes, assigning each one over to one of her colleagues and, taking only her purse and the small kitten keeping them company in the room, had followed him out the door and away from her hard won career without a single witness to say where she had gone.
He shook himself from his reverie leaving the empty office to meet her rushing down the stairs from the upstairs apartment. "He's not there, he wasn't in his office?" she asked in mounting concern.
"Empty," James confirmed with his own worry growing.
Eri dug through her purse frantically, pulling out her cell phone and tapping an impatient foot waiting for her husband to answer while the FBI director waited with her in the shadows of the concrete stairwell. "Come on, come on," she muttered while the phone seemed to ring forever. The phone rang unanswered finally lapsing into the auto-voice messaging system. "Useless man," she cursed in a low voice, squeezing the phone tight in her grip, the device hanging up its call during her mashing of buttons under her fist.
"Could he have run into trouble somewhere?" James asked in concern, though he wasn't quite sure who's watching her temper rise.
"I'm sure he's just fine," she growled, shoving the phone back in her purse. "I'm almost certain where he is," she said rushing back down the stairs, barely waiting for him to follow. "Move Goro-chan," she ordered opening the door to the front passenger seat and shooing the kitten back.
"Kisaki-san, it really would be safer if you took the back seat," James said as he climbed into the driver's seat.
"You told me earlier you hadn't been in Beika long, right? You'll need me to give you directions, the place we're going is a little off the beaten path," she countered while she pulled on her seatbelt. "We're wasting time. How long has it been since those execution orders were given for Sato-keiji and Takagi-keiji again?"
James spared a moment to check the time even as he was pulling away from the agency. "We're closing on twenty minutes ago," he said tensely.
"Too much time," she argued back. "If this organization after them is as large and dangerous as you say, they'll soon realize they only need a few people to chase them down and will be better served to allocate their resources into small separate teams to track down everyone on this hit list of theirs before they face the fact that Sato-keiji or Takagi-keiji could already be phoning warnings to anyone they've been working with on this. We've no time to spend arguing and our timing could come down to as close as taking a single wrong turn. Turn left here," she ordered setting her purse in her lap. James sent her the occasional side glance in between her directions watching her slip on a pair of sunglasses and pulling her surprisingly long hair from her cool quaffed up-do, running her hand through her waves of light brown hair. A close look in his rearview showed him quickly how the two simple moves had drastically changed her look even making her look far younger. He gave a light grin, despite how tense the situation was he could certainly appreciate working with such a keen intellect even under pressure. She rather reminded him of the young genius who'd been helping them thus far, the strangely mature child Conan.
"There!" she said suddenly, pointing at a storefront down the road.
James looked up at the sign reading 'Baker' and looking past it into the brightly lit open storefront of pachinko machines. "This place!?" he asked in surprise. Eri rolled her eyes behind her shades and got out of the car amidst a heavy sigh. Slightly wary of the narrow aisles between rows of pachinko games in the shot-gun styled room that could easily allow an assailant to shoot from the sidewalk straight to the back of the store and escape before anyone could make it out of the building quickly, he followed her with a hand over his holster keeping a keen eye on any suspicious movement letting her take the main brunt of searching for the man.
"What do you think you're doing here?! Do you have any idea how much trouble you're causing?!" she yelled.
Kogoro jumped in instinctual terror at her voice in his sacred sanctum, spinning in his seat to find her stalking up on him. "E-Eri!?" He froze seeing her not two meters away and gaped at the rare vision of her with her hair down wearing her sunglasses. "Eri?" He recovered from his shock quickly, bringing up his full attitude of belligerence as far as she was concerned. "Shouldn't you be stuck in that office of yours? And what are you doing walking around looking like that?!" he griped back.
James tensed; Eri's loud shout from somewhere near the back of the arcade at the virtual mahjong machines broke his concentration quite suddenly and he turned to the pair where Eri couldn't seem to hold her temper at actually finding the man there. He cast a worried eye over the few other patrons either watching the arguing couple with annoyed glares or enjoying what must be a familiar scene in the seedy establishment of men being accosted by their angry wives. Clearing his throat conspicuously, he closed in on the two. "Kisaki-san, Mouri-san, perhaps you can continue your discussion once we're all back on the road," he suggested diplomatically.
"Who's this guy?" Kogoro asked rudely pointing a finger at the older man glaring at Eri all the while.
"I beg your pardon for not introducing myself," James responded, reaching into a pocket for his identification. "James Black, FBI. There's been an emergency of sorts and I need you both to come with me without delay."
"Huh?" Kogoro answered intelligently. "Ow! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!"
"Just come with us," Eri ordered, giving his ear another sharp tug and proceeded to drag him after her, ignoring his yelps of pain and protest. James gave another mystified throat clearing and followed after them.
Jodie rushed up the familiar steps of the professor's modern home, about to knock when she heard the sound of soft grunting noises from around the corner of the house. Drawing her gun and holding it low ready, she edged to the corner of the house and carefully hazarded a peek… to where Professor Agasa was hefting suitcases into his yellow volkswagon. With a smile of relief, she holstered her piece and turned the corner. "Agasa-hakase, I see you're planning to leave too," she said with a smile by way of greeting. Startled, the man dropped the suitcase he was currently shoving in and had to jump back to avoid his toes being crushed.
"J-Jodie-sensei! Thank goodness you're here," he greeted, abandoning the suitcase to rush her into the house through his back door.
"I had to park on the street so we should hurry," Jodie told him in hushed tones. "They know my vehicle. Where's Ran-san?" she asked, pausing in the wide openness of the home past the kitchen area as she caught sight of the neat pile of boxes by the front door and a lone suitcase. Ai sat, perched on one of the shorter stacks of boxes huddled in one of her longer coats. "Ai-chan?"
"I'm going with you," she said simply. "You'll need to go underground now that you're taking in the Mouri's and the detectives, and I have information you'll need," she insisted before the FBI agent could tell her 'no.'
Jodie smiled gently at the young girl's insistence. "You're going to leave Agasa-hakase all on his own?" she asked, crouching down to look her in the eye on her own level.
"It's safer for him that way," she answered simply, "and believe me, you will need what I know."
Jodie turned to Agasa for help at the little girl's firm demand. "Jodie-sensei, I know this is hardly the time for us to make demands of you," he began carefully, "but Ai-kun is right. After this point it may be ages before we can contact your people. She truly does need to go with you now."
"In return, I will tell you everything I know about the organization," Ai added solemnly.
"Are you sure, Ai-chan? I can't guarantee a time where we can reunite the both of you."
"The decision's been made," Ai answered with finality.
"Alright. I take it all this needs to go?" Jodie sighed and finally turned to Agasa, tossing him her keys. "If I can ask the favor Agasa-san, if you'll start loading her things, I'd appreciate it."
"Of course," the man replied, taking up Ai's lone suitcase spending a moment undoing every lock on the door Ai had previously set and bustled out the door.
"Now," Jodie started, catching Ai's attention. "Where's Ran-san? I was told she was here with you."
Ai paled but otherwise remained expressionless, pulling a key from her pocket and held it out the woman. "Downstairs," she said simply waiting just long enough for Jodie to take the key and then, taking up one of the boxes in her stack, followed Agasa out the door. Jodie watched her go slightly perplexed and then made her way cautiously for the staircase leading downstairs unsure why the child had left the task to her alone while she was so unfamiliar with the house.
Her musings were answered for her the minute she went down the stairs, hearing a consistent light banging coming from the door along with Ran's voice hoarsely calling out for the child, pleading to be let out of her confinement. "Oh dear, I see," she said aloud, rushing to unlock the door.
"Ai-chan, please… please unlock the door…"
"Ran-san!? Ran-san, can you hear me!? I'm going to unlock the door now so hang on," Jodie called through the solid door.
"J-Jodie-sensei? I… ah…Why are you… … … Sensei, please get me out of here!" Ran cried from her side of the door.
Jodie took her confusion and subsequent silence with a grim smile and worked at unlocking the double set of deadbolts, swinging open the door to find the lone teenager standing frightened in the middle of the room just outside of the door's reach. Jodie had just enough time to take in a quick assessment of the girl's state, pale and frightened out of her mind but had yet to succumb to any actual tears. "Jodie-sensei!" That moment's once-over was all she had before Ran had rushed into her arms, hugging on to her tightly. "Jodie-sensei! What's going on!? Ai-chan was saying my dad was in danger, and she locked me in, and she wouldn't let me out, and no one will tell me what's going on! Please take me to my dad! I have to find him! And Conan-kun and my mom!" she babbled in a rush, incapable of slowing down.
Jodie hugged her all the more tightly, tucking Ran's head against her gently. "It's all right, Ran, everything's going to be okay. Just take a deep breath and try to relax." She eased Ran out of her desperate hug and bent slightly so she could look the girl in the eye. "I want you to listen to me very carefully. I can't explain everything right now but you must do as I say. There'll be plenty of time to ask questions later, okay?" she said placing a bracing hand on each of Ran's shoulders and waiting for her responding nod of assent. She pulled her badge from her jacket pocket and held up the i.d. for Ran to study, letting go of it when Ran's stunned hands reached up to take the i.d. from her for closer study. "I've kept this from you until now, but I'm a member of the American FBI, Ran-san. I didn't come to Japan to teach or take some hiatus from my job back in the States, I'm really here to track down some very dangerous criminals. Criminals two detectives you know have also started investigating."
"…Sato-keiji… and Takagi-keiji," Ran's murmured in a still shocked voice. "Is it… about the Touto Tower Disaster?" she asked in a voice choked with a growing terror.
"…Yes," Jodie answered softly, watching her struggle to pin down her emotions and consider the implications of such information. "These people… have discovered those two detectives and have decided to get rid of them… along with anyone they might be close to, especially if they think those second parties might be dangerous to them, like…"
"..like dad," Ran finished in grim horror. Jodie gave her shoulder a squeeze before she could say anything more.
"Listen to me Ran-san. Your parents are going to be fine. My partner is bringing them in and I couldn't trust anyone more with this mission. You'll see them soon," Jodie promised. "But for now you have to come with me. I'm going to take you someplace safe. Can you do that?" she asked with tense firmness. Ran nodded hesitantly and Jodie took back her badge from Ran's numb fingers. "Okay, let's go. When we get to my car, I need you to sit in the back seat and lay down across the seat as best you can. We don't want anyone to know you're in the car," Jodie said, leading the way out of the basement.
Up on the first floor, Agasa was waiting for them with one of his raincoats in hand. "Ran-kun, wear this," he told her eyeing her identifying school uniform. He held them up until she had put on the coat and reached forward to pull the hood over her hair for her, studying her surprising calm after he and Ai had had to listen to her pitiful cries while being held prisoner. "I'm so sorry this had to happen, Ran-kun. I had hoped things would never come to this," he said holding out a sealed white envelope to her.
Ran accepted the envelope, turning it over in her hands and read the address information. It was a letter sent from the Kudo's to Agasa, from Italy in fact. "Agasa-hakase, what is this?" she asked even as Jodie was hustling her towards the front door.
"Something that may help," he answered grimly and gave her a final wave.
And she was out the door, no longer able to see him anymore and being partially dragged and pulled to the white Mercedes-Benz parked in front of the professor's front gates. She froze, digging in her heels and staring with what she couldn't quite stop from being a hurt angry glare at the little girl standing with her back against the left-side pillar of the gate, hidden from the street. Ai held her usual cool disinterested gaze on the stone of Agasa's walkway making no real acknowledgment of Ran's presence. Jodie turned at the jerk of Ran's sudden stop and silently took in the tableau in front of her.
"Ran-san, Ai-chan, we have no time for any bickering," she said urgently, frowning at whatever tiff had the two girls at odds with each other.
"Ran-san, please don't be angry at her for locking you in that room. I'm the one who ordered her not to let you leave under any circumstance," Jodie lied, abandoning them both to move past them and open her car's doors, "Now, hurry and get in. We've no idea when these people may think to check the professor's house for you once they find out you weren't in school." She gave Ran a pointed stare and Ran dismissed her glare with the girl with a reluctant huff and climbed in the backseat, Jodie shutting it after pulling the backseat lock switch. Once Ran was safely inside, Ai tugged at the hood of her own coat, ensuring her face was properly hidden, and emerged from her shadowed hiding spot, searching the streets as surreptitiously as she could to either side with the white sedan shielding her from the front and climbed in the front passenger seat, staring back at the white sunny house of windows that had been her home for over a year until Jodie's closing the door blocked most of her view. She continued to stare up at the windows of the second floor until the entire house itself was out of sight.
"Takagi-kun, how much ammo do you have left?" Sato asked, crouching low behind the wheel as another ricocheted bullet pinged off the roof of her car. She gave a curse for the cars up ahead, unassuming motorists that were soon going to be both a hindrance and a potential disaster as far as stray bullets and innocent bystanders were concerned. She floored the gas, bringing the car's center of gravity forward to pull a sharp lane change into the highway's inside emergency lane.
"One more clip," Takagi answered curtly, automatically leaning into the curve with one arm threaded around his seat's headrest while backwards on his knees in his seat. Unable to get a clear shot one-handed due to the semi's kick, he had settled into the occasional warning shot each time one of the motorcycles came close enough to return fire. Sato had used the occasional light traffic to put distance between themselves and the blue sports car though the motorcycles had no problem weaving their way after them and he was beginning to notice two small dots in the distance behind them that were slowly but steadily creeping up on them despite the near accidents and many fender-benders Sato had caused in their wake. "I think that blue car is catching up to us," he told her warily. "And another car. It might be that black Porsche again."
"Damn it," Sato ground out. "Didn't Hattori-kun say help was coming!?" she griped not really expecting an answer, and Takagi didn't bother trying for one, leaning out the window and making another attempt for the Harley creeping up on their front tire. "Use mine," she said between curses, swerving around another patch of traffic congestion. "I've got two more clips in my jacket pocket. The one in my gun makes three. That's all we've got so make it count," she ordered keeping both hands on the wheel but lifting an elbow, obviously expecting him to retrieve said items himself.
Takagi gulped hard, dropping back onto his seat. Keeping a close eye on her in case he had somehow misinterpreted her intentions, he reached a hand around her jacket, searching by feel in the soft material for her inner pocket. He pulled out the two loaded clips quickly with a sigh of relief and pocketed one, setting the other in the handhold depression of his door for easy access. Giving her another cautionary look, he sent his questing hand under her jacket one more time, trying for the shoulder-holster's catch and wound up brushing the outside of his pinky against warm soft fabric with something far warmer and softer underneath. Despite the danger of their situation, he froze. He could feel the heat washing up his neck and face in a strong wave all the way to the roots of his hair. "Sorry!" he squeaked, as instead of moving his hand away from her, his entire body froze solid leaving his hand right where it was and he flinched inwardly feeling Sato's frustrated?… angry?… sigh through his finger, her warm body pressing into his hand during her exhale. His flinch became outward when he felt her opposite hand grab his roughly and set his hand over her shoulder holster much higher and to the side of his earlier position.
"Right there," she bit out and he didn't dare look up to see what her face looked like right then, he just silently kept to his task of unclasping the holster and pulling her gun from it, returning to his post at the window with his heart hammering in his throat and the side of his finger burning just as hard as his face he was sure.
Settling into place keeping an eye out his open window, their back windshield being far too webbed with cracks, he took notice that the two specks were considerably closer and now recognizable as the blue and black cars they'd worried about.
"S-Sato-san? It is their cars," he told her carefully, still wary of her temper. He was able to bypass actually having to look her way needing to take a few precious shots at the two motorcycles who had inched up on them during his quest for ammunition and he emptied the last few shots in his clip pushing them back.
"Shit! How far back are they?" she demanded, cursing again as a shot from one of the motorcycles took her side view mirror.
Takagi gave the two cars a studied look. "4 kilometers… I think," he guessed, no longer taking such scandalous notice of her language, that phase had long passed before they had even left Beika-cho for Tamachi-cho.
Sato winced at his estimation. "Then we're going to be in their range pretty soon," she muttered, worrying at her grip on the wheel.
"Eh?" Takagi wondered aloud in surprise.
"That blue car has rifles, remember," she rebuked lightly, almost grinning at his naïve oversight. "They're going to be in range of firing at us long before we can shoot back. And that blue car is carrying two people. We can at least keep these motorcycles too busy to shoot at us but once we're in range of those snipers…" She sighed and chanced a quick look behind them to their two passengers on the floor behind their seats. "I'm really sorry Sayuri-san. It looks like we may only be delaying the inevitable."
"It's alright, Miwako-chan. We know you did your best," Sayuri whispered back, her face pale but her voice steady and determined. "I'm just sorry the two of you had to be here in this too."
"We're not done yet," Sato muttered taking the west onramp to the large loop in Chiyoda ward where several highways met. "We might find a way to split away if we're lucky." She told them giving Takagi a look equally mixed hopeful and questioning. Regardless of his own pessimistic view of their chances, he gave her a firm nod, readjusting his position guarding from the window.
Sato gave a feral grin, noting the lines of congested traffic reaching down their ramp from the cars trying to take the east fork and swiftly rode the emergency lane around the sitting cars, the two motorcycles following close behind. "Takagi-kun, hand me my gun," she said, lowering her window. Takagi obliged, curious as to what she had planned and took control of the wheel with one hand while she concentrated on the shot coming up. As soon as they broke onto the west fork of the onramp, she shot two bullets to the grouping of plastic crash-absorbing bins lined up in front of the concrete division of the two sides, cutting loose the bins next to empty from their usual horde of water after the long summer and making the small target shot seem easy. Rocked by her shots and already situated at the top of a steep incline, the yellow barrels skidded down the street just long enough for that day's sharp wind to knock them over and start rolling down the ramp and, thanks to the curve gradient of the ramp, straight into the emergency lane they had used to cut around traffic. Sato grinned madly, tossing her gun to her partner next to her. "We've bought some time," she announced proudly, giving little mind to the two motorcycles who had only just cleared her barrel hazard before the way was plugged. "They'll have to slow down to push those barrels out of the way without taking damage," she said happily. "We've got time to try and lose them now."
Takagi grinned back, taking the break for the motorcycles to catch back up to reload a new clip and accept the gun Sato handed back and take a look around the new road they were on, the opposite side heavy with traffic while theirs was almost clear. "Sato!" he cried, quite forgetting himself and pointing straight ahead to the merging branch of highway one's second westward branch. Ahead of them, a line of cars easily matching their own high speed had emerged and the leading three had spread across the four lanes forming an uncrossable line in front of them.
"No! NO!" Sato cursed aiming for the emergency lane between the wall and the lead car. "They're not pinning us now!" she growled.
Catching her move, the lead car served over the line, neatly blocking her way out and braking slightly, forcing her to do the same or crash. The car in the next lane over took their drop in speed to cross in front of the lead car, the other cars taking her weakened control during her speed drop to cross their lanes into the adjoining second lane, crossing the line and locking them in place halfway into the emergency lane. "Damn it, damn it!" Sato almost screamed, looking into her rearview mirror just as the tail cars past the end of her car in the lane over crossed behind her, pinning her in place.
"Sato-san? Should I try shooting the driver?" he asked in an almost impossible calm considering their circumstances.
"If you hit, we'll just crash into his car," Sato growled back, "He can turn around and shoot us before we reach the next exit any second now. We're caught."
Takagi gulped and looked back to the road behind them to the distant blue and black dots growing larger and the two motorcycles currently on the opposite side of their cage… and unable to reach them. "Sato-san? I don't think…"
Next to him, Sato gasped aloud and he turned forward to the lead car in front of them… and the child waving at them through the rear windshield with a merry expression. "Conan-kun!?" he wondered aloud in as much shock as his partner. From the car ahead of them, Conan grinned and motioned to the side and then for them to follow. "Sato-san… I think we're…saved." Takagi mused watching the boy turn and duck back down to sit properly in his seat. Next to him, Sato just grinned in a mad mix between relief and anticipation. Alongside them, the two motorcycles made a few attempts to break the ranks of their protective escort but were both pushed back with warning shots from their protectors. Sato gave a sigh of relief watching the car in front of them turn on it's turning blinker and followed the car down the next offramp exiting the Inner Circular Route while two of the cars pining them to the wall moved from the second lane to theirs taking the place of the two exiting vehicles and blocking the exit from the two motorcycles and staying on to continue blocking exits. Sato stayed close, riding the bumper of the car ahead of them as it blew through yellow lights left and right turning on a route straight back to their Minato ward and driving, in Takagi's firm opinion, in a reckless way that reminded him awfully similar to someone he knew well. From the car ahead, Conan once more popped up into the window, studying their car with a sharp-eyed stare. They watched him turn forward to speak with whoever was driving and then sit back down out of sight again. Their leader took a quick turn into the Roppongi-cho district and ducked down the first underground parking garage they passed in the nightclub district. Exchanging a questioning look of curiosity, Sato turned to follow, trailing the car down level after level of increasingly bare floors, all the way to the bottom of the garage, normally chock full of expensive cars at night but glaringly empty in the day. Watching the car park, Sato pulled in to the passenger side of the vehicle in time to see Conan tumble onto the front seat from the back and pull down his window. She obligingly followed suit.
"Sato-keiji, is everyone okay?" Conan asked the second her window had a noticeable gap.
"Yes. We're all okay," Sato replied with a grin, finally able to relax. "Who's your friend?" she asked pointing to the man behind the wheel. Next to her, Takagi leaned over to look out her window too.
"Ah! Camel-san!" he exclaimed catching sight of the driver. "What are you doing here?!"
"You know him?" Sato asked curiously.
"A murder case a while back, he's Jodie-sensei's husband!" he explained in surprise.
"Umm… about that," Camel replied with a sheepish scratch behind his head. "We aren't actually married. She just told you people that to get me out of that mess. We're more like colleagues."
"Eh!?" Takagi exclaimed.
"This Jodie person lied to the police during a murder investigation?!" Sato grumbled, overriding Takagi's surprise behind her and turning a suspicious eye Takagi's way.
"Sato-keiji!" Conan said firmly, drawing her attention back and giving a lightly frustrated sigh. "This is Agent Camel with the FBI. He's part of a team here to investigate them, and he's here to extract you. All of you need to get into this car, and hurry. The rest of the team won't be able to keep Gin and Chianti on the highway for long if they still are."
"We'll just follow you then," Sato replied still looking a tad ticked off and quite impatient.
"Sato…keiji, was it? You should really get into our car," Camel called from the other side of his vehicle.
"Hurry," Conan added insistently.
Giving the child a nod, Takagi wasted no time exiting his car and turning to open the backseat… and stood stock still, staring at the car. "Sato-san, you need to look at this."
Giving an irritated huff at the man for not siding with her, Sato got out of her car grumbling all the way and turned to see what he was harping about… and stared. Her car was riddled with metal grey bulls-eye pot marks from bullets and both windshields were a sorry sight of spider-webbed cracks ringing the two sniper shots the car had taken. The car was also streaked with any number of metal grey streaks from bullet grazes. "My car!" Sato wailed softly.
From his own car, Camel was already jumping out and pulling a folded bundle of canvas material from under his seat. "All of you transfer to my car," he ordered now that the intimidating detective woman was no longer eying him suspiciously. "It's much too dangerous to drive around in this. They'll find us in no time." Obediently, Takagi helped their two passengers out, he and Toshihiko grabbing the luggage from the car. Inside Camel's car, Conan pulled the trunk lever and watched them work, unlocking the car's locks for them. Still in some kind of shock, Sato watched Takagi and the FBI agent cover her car until no sign of its red coloring was visible.
"We're just going to leave it here?" she asked Takagi glumly when he stood from smoothing down the canvas.
"Sato-san. There's no way we can drive it now. Conan-kun is right, we'll be found in minutes," he said softly, closing a hand on her arm but making no move to pull her away.
"That's my father's car," she whispered sadly.
"I know," he replied softly. "And it did its job protecting your life through that chase," he said gently not even bothering to count how many of the shot marks should have cost them their lives during that chase. "We have to go now." Tugging on her arm gently, he pulled her away from the Mazda and opened the front door of Camel's passenger door, waiting for Conan to back up to the car's armrest where he was just small enough to fit using it for a make-shift seat.
"Conan-kun? What are you doing mixed up in all this?" Sayuri asked from the back seat in deep concern and next to the car, both Camel and Takagi flinched unsure how to explain the little boy's presence.
Conan turned and for a moment sadly assessed his former hated teacher who's life was now irrevocably changed. "I'm really sorry all this has happened to you, sensei," he said, side-stepping the subject. "You both are going to have to go into protective custody, I don't know for how long, but the FBI is going to take good care of you." He sent Camel a meaningful look at that, who shook himself from his pause, he had actually been interested in what the kid was going to say being curious himself how the child was not only involved in all this but appeared to have his two superior's ears and full confidence. Following after him, Takagi entered the backseat, he and Toshihiko sandwiching Sayuri between them for safety.
Closing the subject of Sayuri's questions and certainly refusing to answer any more, Conan waited just long enough for Camel to start the car to gently place a hand on Sato's shoulder to draw her away from watching her car growing smaller as they left it behind. "Sato-keiji? I need to tell you and Takagi-keiji something, it's important," he said pouring in all the wide-eyed innocent childishness that usually brought Sato under his influence almost on pure reflex without even noticing the odd look Camel was giving him.
"What is it, Conan-kun?" she responded with a depressed sigh, the high adrenalin surge of the last half hour beginning to wane and turned away from the window to face Mouri's young ward looking up at her with concern. From the backseat, Takagi leaned forward tensely, noting the worried expression on the boy's face.
"You're not going to like this, but the both of you are also going into protective custody. Camel-san is taking us to the FBI's headquarters at the Haido City Hotel and you're going into protective custody from there," Conan told them, his expression sliding right back into his usual sharp-eyed look of mature intelligence.
"What?!" Sato exclaimed, her car forgotten, at least for the moment, rounding on the child.
"Conan-kun? Has something happened?" Takagi asked in concern, well used to that particular hawk-like look of Conan's.
"The organization has just placed execution orders for you both, and for anyone associated with you. They know you both have been becoming a problem and your stepping into their elimination plans just now made up their minds," he explained to his wide-eyed stunned audience.
Sato was the first to recover her senses. "Take us back to Takagi-kun's apartment!" she ordered, rounding on Camel next to Conan. "Please! And hurry!"
"I can't do that Miss Sato-san, it would be much too dangerous. My orders are to bring you all to our headquarters," Camel said, turning back onto the road.
"You don't understand! Yamato-keibu and Uehara-keiji are still there along with all the evidence we've collected! We have to go back!" Sato insisted.
"Wait, we have more people?" Camel asked in worry. Whatever plea she or Takagi were about to make next was drowned out by the crackle of Camel's walkie-talkie, sitting on the dashboard, coming to life.
"This is Agent Starling, reporting in. Target acquired, plus one more. Agent Camel, Agent Kriss, what's your status?" Next to Sato, Conan shut his eyes and gave a deep heartfelt sigh of relief, smiling for the first time since they'd driven into the garage.
"This is Agent Kriss at home base. Michaels and Jameson have already reported in successful extractions on both counts. They're already en route to the safe house."
"This is James. Targets acquired, en route to base. Has Agent Camel reported in?"
"Here, boss," Camel replied, answering his walkie-talkie. "Sato-keiji and Takagi-keiji are safe along with the people they were transporting."
"Matsumoto-keishi's daughter and son-in-law," Conan whispered helpfully. "The FBI have both your parents in custody," he told Sato in a hushed voice, lowering his eyes at the shock of emotions he saw running through her own at his words as he realized neither of them had likely realized yet the depth of what their actions had truly sparked.
"Matsumoto-keishi's daughter and son-in-law," he repeated. "And Detective Sato has put in a request to return to Detective Takagi's home. They have evidence to recover along with two more detectives."
"Conan-kun, what do you think," Jodie asked over the line. "You have the best idea of what kind of timetable we're looking at. Is there time?" From the backseat Sayuri and Toshihiko stared in shocked surprise at the seven-year-old accepting the heavy duty walkie-talkie almost the length of his forearm from the FBI agent, apparently just as much a part of the operation as the grown man. Takagi watched him with veiled suspicion but with no smidge of surprise at the move and noted Sato was watching the child with a similar mindset.
"If we're going to do it, we should go now," Conan answered. "I believe Yamato-keibu and his partner already have an idea of what's going on. They should be in the process of packing up but we can help them get out faster. Now that the organization lost us, we have a chance they might assume Sato-keiji would take Matsumoto-keishi's daughter to the nearest source of large-scale help she would know of. That's the Chiyoda Metropolitan Police Station just off the Inner Circular Loop but they'll try their places of residence after that."
"Is there a chance we'll need to bring in this Yamato-keibu and his partner?" Jodie asked.
Conan turned to Sato and Takagi in questioning and Takagi nodded back to him. "They know just as much as we do. If there's any chance these people might link them to us, it's safer if they come with us at least until we can find out if they've been discovered like us," he said in quick hushed tones, Sato nodding along with his logic, while Conan absorbed his words.
"Yes, we're taking them," Conan answered quickly.
"Then hurry," Jodie said. "I'll send you back-up."
"No! A convergence of vehicles at that apartment complex would stand out if they have anyone watching. If Yamato-keibu and his partner aren't ready to leave yet, we'll be shortening whatever time we have," Conan responded.
"That's awfully risky, Conan-kun," James answered, joining the conversation.
"Chief Black! This is Kriss from home base. I just took a count and it's looking like we have a problem. Even if we assume the kid's friends aren't joining us, we have thirteen extracts headed for the safe house. We can't accommodate that many!"
"Damn it! We never expected we would need to hold that many," Jodie responded.
"She's right," Camel told the boy next to him in a low voice. "It's just a small hidden house in the middle of nowhere in Chiba."
"So we need a bigger place?" Conan asked him just as softly, making a mental run-through of his parent's summer homes in Japan. They both started somewhat hearing a static-filled argument of sorts over the wire.
"-ust gimmie that!" Heiji's voice came over the speaker amidst Agent Kriss's protests coming through in the background. "Jodie-han! If ya give me a minute, I think I can arrange us a place with plenty of room. I just need ta make a quick call, hang on!"
"In the mean time, lets get these detectives to their apartment," Camel said, flooring the gas.
Inspector Otaki's eyebrows climbed into his hairline staring at the screen of his ringing cell phone. Giving a furtive look around the room, he ducked low at his desk behind his computer monitor and hesitantly answered the call.
"Hei-chan! It is you!" The Osakan inspector dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper giving the room a quick sweep after his loud volume. "Where have you been?! Your father is livid! He said you haven't been to school or home for three days!"
"Not now. I need ya to sign out the mansion for me," Heiji said in a rushed voice.
"Hei-chan! I can't just…"
"It's an emergency! This is a matter of life or death! Ya gotta do it for me!" he insisted.
"Hei-chan! …f-fine, but if your father finds out about this…"
"Don't worry, I'll take the rap for it," Heiji insisted, "Can ya have the keys waitin' for me? I'll be there in about three and a half hours. And don't tell anyone about this, okay?"
"Hei-chan…are you in Tokyo?"
Detective Otaki frowned at the steady beeping coming over the phone. "That boy is going to drive me insane someday," he muttered pulling up the register of Osaka Police Department's safe houses.
He pushed back on his rolling chair, preparing to heft himself up and pick up the keys from inventory. He froze when he realized who had been standing behind him. "Ah…Toyama-keibu! How-how long have you been standing there?"
The much taller police inspector gave him a wide grin. "Finally heard from Hei-chan have you? So, what does the little troublemaker want this time?"
"Uh… n-nothing? Nothing, j-just saying 'hi,'" Otaki replied with a self-conscious guilty stammer.
"And 'nothing' involved commandeering our best safe house?" Toyama asked with the sly grin of one who has caught his victim mid-lie. Otaki wisely shut his mouth. "Come on, Heizou wants to talk to you."
Otaki followed the inspector fully aware that he was once more the subject of the room's amusement. He sighed as he was led to the same private office he always found himself in each time Heizou's impetuous son got him in trouble.
"Otaki-kun." Hattori Heizou gestured to the chair in front of his desk and watched the guilty looking man sit down gingerly. "You've had word from my son? What does that foolish boy want this time that he feels he needs to disrupt my department?"
"Ah nothing…much really," the detective stalled, trying to think of an excuse that would keep both Heiji and himself out of trouble.
"And this nothing seems to have my son thinking he has the right to use this department's private assets whenever he pleases?" Hattori asked darkly, turning his flat-screen monitor for the inspector to see.
Otaki took a peek at the screen seeing his own computer's activity and request to inventory from not five minutes ago. "You were… monitoring me, sir?"
"Are you kidding? He's been monitoring your station since Hei-chan skipped out three days ago," Toyama said with a light laugh from where he was leaning against the office door, blocking Otaki's escape. "We figured he'd contact you eventually."
"My son is nothing if not predictable," Hattori added, leaning his elbows on his desk and lacing his fingers. "Why is he asking for use of the Takado mansion?"
"I-I don't know, he just said it was a matter of life or death," Otaki admitted, withering under the stern glare of the darkly silent Hattori.
"Can you tell me where my son has been?" Hattori asked over his laced fingers.
"I think maybe Tokyo?" Otaki hazarded a guess.
"So, he's gotten himself tied up with some business of that Sleeping Kogoro person or that Kudo boy he knows," Hattori mumbled turning back to his computer and the request for use of the mansion from Otaki's computer. "Toyama-kun, I want you to put in requests for use of four more safe houses, the choice is yours, just make them randomly spread out geographically over the city. And be ready to leave in twenty minutes, we'll wait for that son of mine at the mansion and get to the bottom of this."
"Yes, sir," his long-time friend and partner answered with a grin, quietly exiting the room.
"Otaki-kun, you're dismissed. If my son contacts you again, I expect you to report it to me immediately."
"Y-Yes sir," the detective answered with a sigh of relief that he wasn't in any major trouble. Giving his superior a final look, he opened the door to slip back out to his desk.
The man froze in the doorway, looking back to the stern man with his head down, still writing. "It would be appreciated if you didn't inform my son we had this conversation."
"Yes, sir," Otaki answered, closing the door behind himself and trying not to feel guilty about handing an uninformed Heiji over to his father.
Conan perked up, his attention drawn from watching the road back to the walkie-talkie he was holding hearing Heiji's voice back on the line.
"If ya don't mind a long drive, I've got us a place to go!" Heiji said in a tight serious voice. "I have a safe house for us to use in Osaka! It's big enough to hold as many as you need," he told her. "Just say the word."
"James?" Jodie asked, seeking his decision.
"We'll take the offer," James said decisively. "Tokyo is going to be too hot for us to stay anyhow. The minute the organization finds their targets have all gone missing, they'll logically assume we had something to do with it and come looking for us."
"Alright," Jodie answered. "Camel-kun! I want Matsumoto-keishi's family in our safehouse along with the families of those two detectives. Once this mess is sorted, I want you to take charge of breaking down h.q. James and I are going straight to Osaka from here, we're carrying precious cargo and we can't afford to be spotted. We don't know what kind of means the organization has to try and track us and our vehicles might already be known to them. Give Johnson, Yokokura, Smith, and Wright the equipment they need to set up a full skeleton team at our safe house, tell them they're part of Steven's team from now on. Kriss, start packing up, I want everyone and everything else moved to Osaka. Hattori-kun, you can give them the location."
"Sure thing, Jodie-han," Heiji answered from over Kriss's shoulder.
"The detectives and the Mouri family will be going with us to Osaka," Jodie finished. "Is everyone clear?"
"Got it," Camel answered, and turned the walkie-talkie's volume down a smidge, handing it back to Conan. "You be in charge of that, kid." Conan nodded and pressed an ear to the walkie-talkie's speaker, keeping track of the continuing chatter and ignoring the odd look Sato had been giving him since he had started his conversation with Jodie.
"The next left," Takagi spoke up softly from the backseat, somewhat intimidated by the close conversations passing between the boy and so many FBI agents. He directed the FBI agent into his apartment's parking lot in time to see Uehara coming down the stairs with a large bundle that looked like his bed's comforter. She hesitated on the stairs noticing their approach and from near his car, Yamato stood up, previously unseen, from the front end of his car with a hand inside his jacket at his holster. Inside the car, Sato was already opening the door before they had even stopped.
"Sato-keiji." Yamato lowered his hand and gave the vehicle a nod. "Where's your car? And who's this guy?" he asked giving Camel a nod from where he was exiting his own car and stepping aside for Conan following him out. Takagi made his way for the stairs where Uehara was still standing watching them.
"It's a long story," Sato muttered, eyeing his car's open trunk already loaded with several luggage bags including the gym bag from Shindou's apartment. "The evidence?" she asked, begging confirmation.
"We're almost done. The two of you should do a final sweep in case we missed anything," he answered. Sato gave him a nod and took off for the stairs where Uehara was handing over Takagi's comforter wrapped computer tower to him. Yamato watched her go for a moment and gave the street a close sweep, finally returning his gaze to Camel. "And you are?"
"Agent Camel, FBI," he answered holding a hand out. Yamato shook his hand with an arched eyebrow and then spotted Conan standing near the man's legs.
"So you're in the thick of all this, huh kid?" he mused.
Conan returned his gaze fiercely and unapologetically. "Are you and Uehara-keiji going into protective custody with Sato-keiji and Takagi-keiji?" he asked without preamble.
"Yes. We're going with them," Yamato returned firmly in case anyone had any ideas about arguing him out of it. Conan gave him a nod and backed away from them, pulling out his cell.
"The FBI, huh?" Yamato started, turning to the agent. "You're a little out of your way. What are you doing in Japan?"
"Fighting the same enemy by the looks of it?" Camel answered carefully, recognizing the man's territorial probing for what it was.
"Just how long has the American FBI known this underground group has been working here in Tokyo? Without letting any of us know?" Yamato demanded, his temper edging into his voice.
"I'm afraid I'm not allowed to discuss the case without permission," Camel hedged with a stubborn set of his jaw.
"We don't have time for any arguing over jurisdiction," Conan piped up testily from near Yamato's knee. "Here," he told the man, holding up a piece of paper torn from a discarded receipt he'd found in Camel's car. "This is the address of the safe house. Everyone is relocating there," he told the Nagano inspector. "You need to leave as soon as possible. The organization will be starting a dragnet of the city looking for Takagi-keiji and Sato-keiji soon," he said with a nod to Takagi's car. "Especially if you plan on taking that."
"Yeah, yeah. We got it kid," Yamato sighed giving the child a firm glare and giving the bandages peeking out from under his hastily donned overlarge ski cap a serious onceover. "I got questions for you when this is all over," he said, putting the boy on notice.
"You and everybody else," Conan muttered under his breath, walking back to Camel's car. He gave the agent's pants leg a tug on his way. "We need to get sensei and Toshihiko-san to the hotel."
"Shouldn't we wait until these guys take off?" Camel asked curiously.
"They know your face from the operation with Kir. You shouldn't be seen here. They'll be safer if we're gone," Conan responded. "Can you leave in the next ten minutes?" he asked Yamato.
"We're ready to leave as soon as they come out," he answered with a nod to Takagi's apartment door.
"Good. Lets go," Conan said, pulling on Camel's leg again to guide him back to the car.
"Alright, kid," Camel answered with the hint of an amused sigh at the child ordering him around. "See you guys in Osaka then," he said to Yamato, following Conan into his car.
"Osaka!?" Yamato exclaimed in surprise.
Heiji shut his phone and pocketed it. "Kriss-han, did you get the address?" he asked after his conversation with Conan.
"Yes, I'll transmit it to Agent Starling and the chief," the communications specialist answered, picking up his quick note of the address he'd jotted down. Heiji gave him a nod and threaded his way out of the confusion of agents scurrying about the room, breaking down and packing up several month's worth of research and equipment until he reached the relatively quiet spot against the wall Hakuba had claimed and sank down in the chair Conan had tossed his borrowed clothes on until he'd left and gave a sigh of nervous energy. He joined the blonde watching the FBI agents pack until he turned back to Hakuba with a confused look on his face.
"Where's Kuroba?" Heiji asked curiously.
"Probably finding the hotel's safe since we're here anyway," Hakuba muttered with an aggravated snort from his position, leaning against the wall.
"I didn't even see him go," Heiji mused, ignoring Hakuba's snide tone.
"What a surprise," Hakuba sighed sarcastically, equally ignoring Heiji's glare. "All I know is he better turn up soon. We have a lot to pack up back at his house and we need to leave here soon." Heiji gave a nod of agreement and slumped back in his chair to wait.
Shiratori frowned, trying to decide whether or not to turn on his siren and tapped a finger impatiently on his steering wheel, waiting for the light to turn green.
Division One's squad room had been in an uproar of barely controlled chaos the moment reports started filtering in about the shooting the news media was now dubbing a massacre downtown and rumors about the possibility of Superintendent Matsumoto being a possible victim had them all working on edge, especially around the anxiety-stricken Megure who was shouting angrily over the bedlam in their office, organizing the investigation. They even had unsubstantiated rumors of a high speed car chase through town involving the use of firearms. And through it all, no one knew where Sato or Takagi were… and neither were answering their cell phones. Once Megure had learned they never reported in that morning, he had sent him off to find the two and he was quite sure if he didn't find them soon, Megure would be demoting them both back to directing traffic. Personally, his own stomach had knotted itself quite tightly at the news. It was just too close on the heels of the restaurant shooting for his particular comfort and he feared the two of them and their secret investigation was somehow involved and for the first time, he was desperately hoping Yumi's suggestion they had finally eloped was true.
An impatient honk behind him alerted him to the light's new color and he punched his gas, pealing out from the intersection and down onto the block Takagi's apartment was located on. If they weren't there, he resolved himself to drive all the way to Haido-cho and try Sato's apartment next.
He drove into Takagi's parking lot just as Sato and a familiar looking woman were rushing down the stairs with their arms full carrying a perfectly good futon between them both and carrying the heavy load to the apartment's dumpster. On the second floor landing, he could see Takagi locking up what must be his door and following after them. He frowned watching their actions from his car as he pulled up and parked in an empty spot nearest Takagi's Nissan.
"Sure you have everything?" Yamato called to Takagi, rushing down the stairs tucking the thick stapled envelope of discs into his jacket pocket.
"Even if we don't, we've been here too long. We need to go," Takagi answered back, making it to level ground. He shot a fast look to the girls on their way back from the dumpster. "Sato-san, are you all right?" he asked watching Sato rubbing her left forearm.
"I'm fine," she replied in a distracted voice, wringing out her hand. "Just heavier than I thought." Takagi gave a nod, accepting her answer and turned back in time to catch the keys Yamato tossed him.
"We're switching cars," Yamato informed him, noting Takagi's confused expression.
"We can't let you do that! They'll be looking for us by now," Sato exclaimed in protest.
"Exactly why the two of you will be safer in a car they're not expecting," the Nagano inspector replied, holding his hand out for Takagi's keys. "Besides, I know what kind of a risk this is, that's why I took precautions," he grinned rakishly, tapping Takagi's back bumper with his crutch. The two Beika-cho detectives looked down following the point of his crutch to the license plate, an entirely different license plate than the one issued to Takagi's car. Takagi blinked at the change and Sato grinned realizing the trick.
"Which car did you take those off of?" she asked curiously with an air of approval.
"The minivan in the back end of your parking lot," Yamato answered trying not to look too proud of his petty law breaking. "Your tank's filled up too but I'm sure a few of these car owners are going to complain about it so we have more than one reason to get going already."
"Here, you two should use these," Uehara cut in, handing Sato two pairs of sunglasses from their glove box. "Your keys?" she asked expectantly to Takagi.
Still unsure of the decision, Takagi hesitantly pulled the ring from his pocket and half held out his hand trying to think better of it. It was the opportunity Yamato needed to make a quick grab for them and toss them to Uehara. "Alright, lets get going," he muttered, "We've got a long dri…" He trailed off noticing their audience for the first time with Shiratori exiting his car and staring at them from over the top of his car.
"Sato-san? Takagi-kun? Just what is going on here!?" Shiratori asked looking in the windows of the two cars with loaded backseats. "Going somewhere? It's awfully bad timing don't you think? Don't you two know what's been going on downtown!?" he growled out with increasing volume and a deepening stare. "And aren't you a little out of jurisdiction Yamato-keibu!?"
"A-Ah! Shiratori-san!" Takagi stammered in shocked dismay.
"Shiratori-kun, you shouldn't be here," Sato exclaimed in tense worry, shooting the streets a quick search. "You need to leave, now," she said urgently.
"Why? What's going on?" Shiratori asked suspiciously, sweeping his gaze between the four of them. His gaze fell on the streak of red across Takagi's cheek and his wildly windblown hair and Sato's suit jacket had the odd shine of sunlight reflecting off pale green flecks covering her clothes. The longer he stared, the more Takagi felt the nervous need to fidget. "…it was you two… wasn't it?" he asked in a low still voice.
Sato pressed her lips firmly together in a stern line, unwilling to fall into blushing stammering like Takagi next to her. "Shiratori-kun, I wish we could explain, but that would be much too dangerous. You need to turn around and go back to the precinct and pretend this conversation never happened, in fact, you never saw us."
"Please, Shiratori-kun," she pleaded, cutting off whatever he planned on saying next. "Just stay out of this and keep by Megure-keibu's side… for us, okay?" she finished with a spark of her usual brilliant smile. She took the opportunity of his ensuing silence to open the passenger door of Yamato's car and climb in. "Come on, Takagi-kun. Yamato-keibu. The clock's ticking."
Yamato and Uehara broke from their frozen stances and jumped into Takagi's car, turning the engine and backing out of his space. Shiratori turned his gaze on Takagi still standing at his door. "Takagi-kun…" he called, drawing the junior detective's attention before he could get in his own door.
Takagi looked up, catching the firm serious expression on his face. "I know, Shiratori-san… I'll keep her safe," he promised with an honestly grave expression of his own. Catching Shiratori's acknowledging nod, he climbed into the car and shut the door. Shiratori stood silent, watching the grey sedan leave the parking lot and disappear into the street's traffic. Giving a frustrated sigh, he got back into his car wondering what kind of explanation he was going to give Megure about their disappearance.
Conan strained with a dismal whine, trying to reach the right button for the floor in the elevator with the heavy oversized coat weighing him down in addition to barely healed injuries. He'd left Camel with an agent who's name he couldn't remember to sort out shifting the superintendent's family into a new vehicle ready to leave with the first wave of equipment for the FBI's safe house to reach the room ahead of him but was now finding Camel was probably going to catch up with him before he got the elevator going. He'd been lucky enough when he'd first arrived to ask a nice elderly couple who got on with him to push the button for him. Now, he couldn't even hit the button to open the doors again. He was almost ready to sit down against the back wall and sulk when the doors opened and he had to back up for the hotel staff member walking in with plastic wrapped hangers of clothes, fresh from the hotel's laundry room.
"Excuse me, mister. But can you hit the button for floor two?" he asked in as cute and small a childish voice he could manage.
"Sucks being such a shrimp, huh?" an irritatingly familiar voice sounded above his head.
Flinching, and already feeling his frustrated mood drop, he looked up to see Kaito grinning down at him in the well-pressed black slacks, white dress shirt and trim vest the rest of the bellhop staff of the hotel was wearing. He gave a low sigh, dropping the cute act like a ton of bricks. "What are you up to now?" he muttered. "You better not be causing trouble, we have enough as it is," he griped.
"Just thinking ahead," Kaito smiled, reaching over his head to press their floor button. Conan sighed again and settled into following Kaito's legs back to the FBI's suite. With a glum look around the room, he tallied up the work the agents had already put in packing up their equipment in the half empty room.
"There you are! You can't just take off without giving us notice, especially at a time like this!" Hakuba scolded, stalking up on the thief with his collection of hangers slung over his shoulder where he stopped and looked the thief's clothing change up and down. "You just can't help yourself, can you. It's like a disease. You just have to cause trouble!"
"What were ya doing?" Heiji asked in genuine curiosity vacating his chair and walking up to the group. "Good thing you're back, Kudo. We need ta find a way to get ourselves to Osaka along with that computer hard drive. Sato-keiji paid my ticket here on the Shinkasen so maybe we can ask one of the agents here ta give us a ride," he suggested.
"Don't worry about getting to Osaka, I've got that covered," Kaito said, brushing past them towards the suite's bathroom, unbuttoning his vest as he went and clearly expecting them to follow while he kept talking. "What we have to worry about is getting back to my house without anyone being able to identify us. I'm assuming the organization has people who work for them all over the city in everyday jobs besides their top agents and hitmen, right?" he asked Conan down near his hip. Conan nodded, curious to where he was going with his conversation. Kaito reached down and tugged the ski cap off Conan's head and tossed it to Hakuba. "If the Mouri's are currently on their hit list, we certainly can't let you run around town while we get back to Ekoda. Someone might spot you. And you've been in enough newspaper articles and on the news enough that even normal people might recognize you and they'll be able to track you down. A blonde teenager in an Ekoda High School uniform is much too identifying, that's for sure. And I look way too much like the tall you that I might draw attention too. So…" He dropped one of the hanger hooks through the plastic, pulling out a child-sized set of clothes and held it out to the boy.
"No. No way!" Conan announced firmly in an arms-crossed full pout staring at the taffeta ruffly dress with tiny rosebuds, with a matching magenta beret and white tights staring him in the face.
"I'm going to need to borrow that hat of yours," Kaito asked of Heiji over Conan's head, completely ignoring the boy's vehement protests. "Hakuba, you'll need to wear this," he continued patting Conan's shoulder, indicating the overgrown jacket. "It might be a little small but I think you can manage it, at least until we reach my house. Here. Hurry up and change," he muttered, pushing the hanger into Conan's hands. As soon as his hand was free again, he pulled a pair of shiny black dress shoes, one from each pocket and dumped them on the floor at Conan's feet. "Those should fit you. We'll carry your real shoes and clothes so hurry up." He turned straight to Hakuba and dropped another hanger from the plastic covering and handed him a pair of still warm from the iron jeans. "Here. Your pant legs scream school uniform. The last thing we need is to be stopped by any truant officers."
"You want me to wear some stranger's pants!?" Hakuba exclaimed in protest, his face twisted in disgust at the idea.
"Then wear them over yours. Come on, and be fast about it," Kaito ordered, uncovering the last hanger with his own neatly hung clothes. "You've got the restroom," he told Conan, backing back out of the room and claiming the dining room for himself, shutting the doors on them and leaving Conan and Hakuba sharing sighs of sulking and exasperation.
"I'll just wait out here," Heiji mused aloud, retreating before Conan could notice the thoroughly amused laughter he was trying to hide and kick him for it.
Conan and Hakuba exchanged a frustrated look and Conan finally shed the jacket to the ground, slinging the hanger over a shoulder and marching for the frosted glass shower stall, shutting it with a slam that vibrated its walls.
"Isn't he ready yet?" Kaito asked Hakuba who was struggling to zip up the tight jacket outside the restroom.
Hakuba shrugged finally giving up on the zipper. "I don't think this is going to work," he muttered dropping his arms for Kaito's inspection.
"Fine," Kaito answered with a sigh, retreating back into the dining room and emerging with a black hoodie on a hanger.
"Why didn't you give me that from the start?" Hakuba griped, handing over the too small jacket and pulling the hoodie over his head. Kaito ignored his complaints looking over the small jacket in his hands quietly, the last one his father had bought for him even though it was too big, he'd wanted it so badly for all the hidden zippered pockets the thing had, inside and out, with the sworn promise he would use it faithfully all through junior high without asking for another one until he'd outgrown it. Before he could think too much more about it, he shoved it in the pillowcase he'd already snagged from one of the suite's bedrooms along with the staff uniform he'd borrowed to be slung down the staff laundry shoot the minute they left.
"Come on! Aren't you done yet!?" he called in a loud voice through the bathroom door with a knock.
"I don't like this!" Conan yelled back.
"We don't care," Kaito returned, sighing in relief when he finally heard the door unlock, pulling it open to find the sullen boy glaring up at him with the back of the dress halfway done up and the beret in his hands glaring at them all with his shirt and shorts in a pile at his feet. Behind him, Heiji made a choking sound that had a suspicious Conan shooting daggers at him. Even Hakuba was making suspicious sounds and trying to find somewhere else to look. Kaito just sighed at the bedraggled sight Conan made and pointed a finger, ordering him back in and to climb onto the covered toilet. Setting down a borrowed makeup bag from one of the female agents, he made a twirling motion with a finger and finished doing up the back of the dress and pulled a ribbon from his pocket, physically turning Conan's shoulder until the kid was facing sideways.
"Where'd you get that?" Conan asked in mild curiosity, making a sour face when Kaito grabbed his head and chin, fixing him in place at an appropriate tilt for him to gather enough of Conan's short hair to tie the ribbon onto.
"I pulled it off a peasant blouse in the laundry room," he murmured, finishing off the bow. He took the beret from Conan's hands and set it on his head, angling the thing so it swallowed and hid the ringlet of bandages. "Now hold still," he ordered, unzipping the bag and digging through his make-shift supplies.
"Makeup!?" Conan whined, eyeing the loaded blush applicator Kaito was bringing his way.
"Just wearing a dress doesn't make you look like a girl," he muttered, taking hold of Conan's chin and angling it. "Now I mean it, hold still." Conan rolled his eyes at the snickers coming from behind the thief and he could just make out Heiji's back where he was bent against the door, his shoulders shaking from repressed laughter. "Don't think the two of you are getting off," Kaito called over his shoulder to the two laughing detectives. "I plan on adding another five years on the rest of us so just stay there and wait your turn." It was Conan's turn to smirk victoriously at the scowls on Heiji and Hakuba's faces. "Quit moving," Kaito ordered, giving Conan a firm flick to his ear.
Conan fairly raced, well, limped quickly, past Kaito's legs the second the door was open plopping down on the stairs to unstrap and yank off the shiny mary janes, devil-made narrow-toed things. "How do girls wear these things!" he howled, flinging them into the dining room opposite him and massaging his injured toes, now doubly swollen from the cursed girl-shoes with no support. His complexion was still hinged towards pink that had nothing to do with the light layer of blush Kaito had put on him after his aching toes had Heiji carrying him off the subway piggyback and the rest of the trip by bus as well with Kaito grinning madly and snapping the occasional cell phone photo the entire way, despite the seriousness of their situation, and he mentally cursed every single person along the way who'd commented on how 'kind' his 'big brother' was to look after his 'little sister'.
"Try fifteen centimeter stilettos," Kaito replied struggling to control the manic urge to laugh at the boy's complaining.
"Not on your life," Conan muttered, trudging upstairs. Kaito just grinned as they all heard the slam of Kaito's bathroom door and the light whine of the house's pipes from the running sink.
"I got downstairs!" Heiji announced squeezing past them and running for the downstairs restroom. Outmaneuvered, Hakuba walked into the kitchen, grabbing a clean towel from a drawer and quickly got to work, scrubbing the make-up off his own face. Behind him, Kaito hopped up onto the counter patiently waiting his turn and casting an assessing look around the room.
"You said you had our way to Osaka covered?" Hakuba asked, drying off his face. "What did you mean by that?"
"We can take my mom's car," Kaito answered lightly, jumping off the counter to take his turn at the sink.
"You do realize we're underage, right?" Hakuba reminded in a droll voice. "Not that you care."
"You know me so well," Kaito mused aloud while he soaped his hands with a secret grin and a touch of sarcasm.
"Fake i.d.?" Hakuba asked, leaning back against the counter.
"That's the general idea," Kaito answered, drying his face. "Come on, we have to load whatever we have and get out of here," he muttered, tossing the towel into the laundry room and making for the stairs. "We can stop by your place on the way out so you can pack if you're really coming with us."
"No need," Hakuba answered smoothly, "I'll buy clothes when we get there." Kaito raised an eyebrow but let the subject be, climbing the stairs to his room and started pulling cables from the back of Hakuba's computer.
"What do you think, take both?" Kaito asked in all seriousness.
"It's unlikely they'll connect your normal identity to anything, but better safe than sorry," Hakuba mused, crouching down to lift his heavy tower. Kaito lifted his own and led the way down the stairs, setting his computer on a counter to fish a set of keys out of a junk drawer.
"Mind if I put you in charge of loading things up?" he asked, continuing on the laundry room and opening the back door, flipping a switch. Hakuba blinked in surprise at the sleek silver Jag in front of him.
"…wow," Hakuba murmured, hanging in the doorway while Kaito opened the trunk and unlocked the doors. "That's you mother's car!?"
"It's not stolen," Kaito said automatically, almost on reflex, frowning at the blonde.
"I never said it was," Hakuba muttered back testily. "I just never imagined your family would drive British." Kaito held his frown for a moment more and then set the keys down on the roof of the car.
"She just had to have one 'cause one of her best friends had one," Kaito murmured, turning back to the car. "No real reason beyond that. Here. I have things in 'the room' that need to come with us," he said in a low voice, ducking back out of the room.
Upstairs, a freshly dressed and make-up-less Conan tugged his suitcase from its home out from under the bed, grabbing the pajamas he'd discarded around the floor, shoving them in. A quick double check made sure his father's credit card was where it was supposed to be, tucked into one of the small zippered pouches. He made quick work of repacking his gadgets, tucking away his bowtie and watch quickly enough. Finished with that, he knelt by the bag and slowly searched around the room for anything else that could become useful now that everything he had left in the apartment was lost to him. He imagined his skateboard would soon be in organization hands once they tossed the apartment and agency and he was very grateful Kaito hadn't forgotten his Shonen Tantei badge. He ran a finger over the edge of the pin and hoped against hope the organization would make no move against the children. A thumping sound from downstairs shook him from his musings and he chided himself for wasting time unnecessarily. Back to his searching, his eyes fell on Kaito's bookshelf. Hesitating only seconds, he sprang up from the floor and swept up as many of the thick Night Baron novels he could carry, shoving them into the suitcase.
Two armloads later and he was shoving the first volume into the side zippers. "Kudo, ya need help with anything?" Heiji asked from the doorway. Conan shut the zipper and turned to face him feeling oddly out of phase, the reality of the scenario starting to crash down on him as he looked up at the concern in Heiji's eyes despite his light tone.
"…yeah… Yeah. I'm fine," Conan answered, looking away and running a hand through his hair. "All packed." Eyeing him oddly, Heiji walked in and hefted the canvas suitcase's strap onto his shoulder, raising an eyebrow.
"What ya put in here!?" Heiji exclaimed, walking for the door. "It weighs a ton!"
"Stuff," Conan answered noncommittally, following him out. "I could have carried it," he added crabbily.
"Nah, you'd just pull your arm out of its socket. I got it Kudo," Heiji answered, waiting in the doorway long enough for Conan to limp out and walk ahead of him.
"Where are my shoes?" Conan asked, wincing with each step on his way to the stairs. His foot had been throbbing when they'd left that morning and after wearing those infernal shoes, the slightest flex of his toes was sheer agony. His mincing steps were so slow, he wasn't all that surprised when Heiji picked him up one-handed by the back of his shirt. "… … …thanks," he mumbled in the most sullen voice possible, being hoisted along, down the steps, like a rag doll.
"Right there," Heiji said, plopping him down on the carpet of the living room in front of his discarded shoes. "But I don't think you should put them on for a while. Just wait there and I'll get ya when we're done packing," he said, walking off into the kitchen and out of sight.
Sulking slightly that his injuries and diminutive size were forcing him to be left out, Conan gathered his shoes and slipped on the one for his uninjured foot… and watched the others work.
Heiji made one last trip upstairs for his own backpack and from then on, worked alongside Hakuba carrying file boxes from the blonde detective's horde in the dining room and the long heavy-duty tackle boxes Kaito was bringing up from his hidden room and leaving stacked outside the open painting door. "How much are you taking?!"Conan asked the next time Kaito popped out of the room.
Kaito raised an eyebrow staring at the boy where he was sitting nursing his toes. "Taking a break, princess?" he asked teasingly, trying not to grin at the face Conan made. Conan was highly tempted to throw his shoe at the thief.
"Provisions?' Conan asked in confusion.
"I'm pretty sure you and the Mouri's weren't planning on abandoning your lives today but I happen to have experience living in a situation where you might have to leave on a moment's notice. You guys will need all this," he answered.
"Oh… right," Conan replied, making the glum realization that the suitcase Heiji had taken for him was now all he owned. Things were starting to feel very overwhelming. Kaito caught the boy's brooding expression and sighed, pausing in his own work.
"It's gonna be okay, Kudo," he said with a clearing of his throat, drawing the boy's attention. "Nothing you did caused this," he said, leaning over the top of his stack of tackle boxes.
"It's more like what I didn't do," Conan returned angrily yanking his laces as loose as he could on his remaining shoe. "I knew Sato-keiji and Takagi-keiji were looking into things. I should have warned them sooner! I just… I never imagined they were this far along!" he bit out, trying to force his swollen injured foot in the shoe in between wincing and curse words.
"You can't control everything, Kudo," Kaito answered plainly, walking forward and snatching the shoe from Conan's hands. "And quit that. It hurts watching you." He straightened and tucked the shoe on a high bookshelf in the living room, ignoring Conan's angry glare. "Just hold on, we're almost ready to go," he said loading up as many boxes he could carry and disappearing into the kitchen.
Left with nothing to do, Conan flopped back onto the floor, staring up at the ceiling with an unfocused gaze. He absently groped for his pockets, hoping to at least find out if Ran was all right until he remembered Heiji had been holding his phones after he'd changed at the hotel, the damn dress having no pockets at all. Which only led to a whole new realm of depressing thoughts. How was he going to explain to Ran and her parents why they had just been kidnapped into protective custody, it would be unfair to let Sato and Takagi take all the blame and he knew it. Hearing the sound of arguing coming vaguely from the kitchen, he picked himself up and clung to furniture and kitchen cabinets until he'd hobbled himself to the garage door in the laundry room where he could easily hear everything.
"Well, where am I supposed to put my stuff!?" Kaito griped to the blonde forcing another file box in the luxury car's already full trunk.
"I don't care about what toys you want to bring! This is evidence!" Hakuba argued back, leaning down on the trunk lid to force it closed.
"It's my car!" Kaito snapped back.
"Mature. And complaining is hardly going to change the amount of evidence we need to take," Hakuba replied. "Just… find a place!" Conan limped to the door and pushed it open a crack cautiously, locating Hakuba trying to stack the last of the boxes he'd brought home the night before into the backseat while still leaving room for sitting with Kaito huffily opening the front passenger door. In a corner against the wall, Heiji was watching the argument play out with amusement.
"You seatbelted the computers!?" Kaito muttered with a low glare.
"That hard drive is fragile, Kuroba!" Hakuba replied with finality. "And you better not drive like a maniac, that hard drive is priceless evidence!" Kaito glared at the blonde with an eyebrow twitching madly and turned back to creatively arranging his tackle boxes in the foot space of the front seat, building up the pile until they were leaning against the two computer towers with low muttered unintelligible curses. Conan pressed back away from the door to avoid being hit when Kaito stalked to the door, presumably to collect the last of his boxes, pausing the moment he noticed the kid.
"You're supposed to be resting," Kaito told him pointedly, but opened the door wide anyway. "Go on, I'll get your shoe," he said, standing aside for Conan to limp through. Finally able to see the sleek Jaguar in all its glory, Conan paused in the doorway, staring at it with wide eyes, verily impressed.
"That's your mom's car?!" Conan asked in disbelief. In the room, Heiji and Hakuba looked up at him, finally noticing his presence. "That's a Jaguar E-type…"
"The 2+2. Yeah, she is nice," Kaito agreed with a smug grin. "Mint and not a single scratch, ding, or replacement. And Hakuba over there, better not tear the leather!" he called in a purposefully loud voice to the blonde, trying to force fit his last box over the mid-seat median without taking up more of the backseat's sitting space.
"No, I mean… my mom has one just like this," Conan said taking the small step down onto the garage's concrete floor with a wince. Just backing his way out of the car, Hakuba stared at him sharply, unbeknownst to the child focused on making his way across the room with mincing steps, and then back up to Kaito who gave him a cryptic shrug, disappearing back inside the house.
Gathering his last few boxes, Kaito gave his hidden room a last good look and shut the room with a leg. Double-checking the front door and grabbing the small red and white shoe, he crossed into the living room and slipped out back opening the gate to his doves' hutch. Obediently trained, each bird stayed on their perch, waiting for orders. Standing back from the door, he gave a complex whistle and watched the chaos of feathers as his brood flew off, disappearing from view quickly. "Bye guys. Jii will take good care of you all until I get back," he said in a soft voice. He started slightly feeling the brush of wings against the side of his face as one of his doves stubbornly perched on his shoulder. "So, you want to come with us Snowflake?" he asked softly, brushing a finger over the bird's breast feathers with a light grin. "Okay." Locking the pen shut again, he took a deep breath and plunged back into the house and back into the garage, hitting the door opener as he went. "Lets go. We need to catch up with everyone else," he said, carefully stacking the last of his boxes on top of the computer towers, tucking them under the seatbelt strap and adding a small travel cage with a lone dove. "Watch her, okay?" he asked Conan, tossing him his shoe as he made his way around to the driver's seat, collecting his keys from Hakuba climbing into the backseat behind him.
"You do know how to drive, right Kuroba?" he asked in a low apprehensive voice.
"Of course. I know what I'm doing," he muttered, shutting his door. He watched in light amusement as Conan scrambled over the backseat and squeezed past Hakuba's mountain of boxes in the middle of the car to sit on the front seat armrest, an arm holding the bird cage steady. "You're not going to have a seatbelt there so be careful, Kudo," he warned him softly, turning the engine while Heiji closed his own door, and grinned lightly when the kid waved him off impatiently. "All right. Lets go," he mused more to himself than anyone else, backing out of his driveway and turning for the highway, leaving Ekoda-cho and Tokyo behind.
Happy 'death' anniversary Akai (as if, we all know you're alive) this being Friday the 13th. I had always intended that chapter 13 be released on Friday the 13th so here you are. Congrats readers, you got a double release of two chapters, 12 and 13(chapters 7 & 8 by my own odd chaptering) and right on the heels of chapter 11(~6~). For one reason only. I actually was gonna release these three about three or so months apart so I could take my time working on the next two but I was foiled by one thing. After this Friday the 13th of July 2012 the next Friday the 13th won't be until September of 2013. I decided that would be too cruel to make you wait that long so I rushed you these next two. You have now gotten 100 pages out of me early, so enjoy. I am now going to take a bit of a vacation from writing. Don't worry, it won't be a long one. But I've got art projects, paintings and sewing projects I've been putting off for almost two years because of this story and I'm putting in for some me-time. So please be patient with this giant peace offering. Of course I'm already working on the next chapter, I just got half a scene done this week, I'm just putting it on a bit of a back burner for a couple of months. I just started a new job and I'm not too sure if I want to continue my current one for much longer (I hate Gamestop, I hate them, I hate them!) so I just need some time to work things out and again, I have paintings that need to be finished and sewing to do. But I'll be back soon enough, I swear! And we are starting a new path on Fallout after all. The beginning of this story is now concluded. Now we start the next leg of the journey. Thank you all for following me this far but this story has only just begun. I hope you follow me to the end. I will see you all again after my vacance my little ringo-chans. (If you get the reference, give yourself a gold star, two if you can sing the song)
I did a slight bit of canon fudging. I readily admit it. In episode 18 of season one, Matsumoto Sayuri's wedding is interrupted by her near death where the groom, Toshihiko almost kills her. He gets arrested and does his time and according to the episode's epilogue, they marry anyway three years later. The episode ends with a very lovely photo of them on their wedding day with Matsumoto–keishi in the background. So technically speaking, they aren't married yet according to the Conan timeline of it being less than two years that he's been small. But seeing as time seems to be a pretty fluid concept in the Conan world, I'd rather have her already married making that photo valid, than kill her father before she technically should have married making that photo invalid. I'm usually pretty meticulous about my canon facts but it just seemed too cruel to do that to her. So please forgive this one fudged fact.
On Sayuri Matsumoto-sensei and Miwako Sato-keiji:
Growing up the daughter of a teacher, my mother's friends were her coworkers and principal (all teachers) and my first friends were the their children. We pretty much knew each other and hung out because our parents did. Not being or knowing any police officers or law enforcement people, I can only speculate that having a job that could cost your life and that consistently places your life in the hands of your coworkers and peers has one growing up being tight with your coworkers and friends-slash-family almost environment. That said, their kids likely grew up like I did, your friends being the kids of your parent's friends. Having had parents that were cops within the same era at the Beika Police Department, Sato and Matsumoto's daughter likely knew each other growing up if not were close friends themselves, or at least that's my theory. I do have Sato use a more polite '–san' with Sayuri for the simple fact that even though they may have been friends when young, Sayuri is the daughter of Sato's superior officer and someone of rank, Superintendent Matsumoto and thus I feel Sato would feel she should use such a level of politeness .
PSS Silent: This Russian gun has a built in silencing effect due to firing special cartridges that jams the piston after firing trapping the propellant gases along with much of the noise, smoke, and flash, inside the case.
Kel-Tec P32: a small, light concealed type handgun only 5 inches long and weighing around 7 ounces loaded.
My personal thanks to the Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond (who's adorable like a puppy) and of course, the one and only, often imitated but never replicated, Stig. I became a fan a full year ago (from the time I wrote this chapter) in preparation of writing this chapter. Thanks for the knowledge… and the laughs. And seriously, I don't know what History Channel was thinking. Top Gear is not a show about cars. It's Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond (and the Stig) doing a show about cars. Give us the BBC Top Gear! I'll get off my soapbox now.
I lied about the soapbox. GIN'S. CAR. I fucking hate you Gin… and your damn little Porsche too. First off, you're a liar Conan. Liar, liar, pants on fire. For one thing, Gin has TWO, count 'em TWO different Porsches. Or at least that's how I'm counting it. He has one Porsche he used from the introduction of the thing in episode 128-The Black Organization Ten Million Yen Bank Robbery through episode 176-178 Meeting the Black Organization Again pts.1-3. Note the double grill on the back of the car over the engine. While it's parked on the curb, Conan walks up to the back of the car and muses "Porsche 356A." This is the first time in the show that he sees Gin's car. Yet the Porsche he drives the next time we see him and his car in episode 345 Head-To-Head Match With the Black Organization: Two Mysteries of the Night of the Full Moon, the back of his car has a single grill over the engine. Now either the artists didn't know what they were doing, or they were working off faulty data and fixed their mistake three hundred eps in. The car they were initially drawing seems to be suffering from multiple personality disorder. From the back, the car is an almost perfect match to the 356B (Type 6) 1961 Coupe Super 90. Except for the front bumper and the nose drop Porsche insignia on the bonnet, these were borrowed from the 356A (Type 2) 1959 Carrera GS Coupe. His car can't be a Carrera though because of the slope of the back of his car seen from the side. His car is a Coupe. Seen from the side, the car's chassis is a continuous single slope from the roof of the car to the rear bumper. The Carrera has a larger more prominent rear wheel well and seen from the side looks like it has a bit of a hitch above the back wheels giving the look of two arches. First off Conan, no 356A has a double grill, or rather no 356A in the way they meant Gin to have.
The 356 comes in many kinds. First off, they come in 356, 356A, 356B, and 356C lines, each the new edition after retiring the one that came before it with upgrades and mods that come with new improved technology. Each of those lines also come in the Coupe, Speedster, Cabriolet, and then there's the Carrera which also comes in the previous three kinds. They also came in "types" numbered 1-6 (with no type 4 as far as I could find). With each subsequent alphabet letter, Porsche also made more of the cars. For serious Porsche aficionados and particularly those of the 356 line the rarest and, if you're going to brag like Gin does, the only one that will get you brag rights period is the Type 1 and someone speaking with Gin would be shrewd to know that reference. (The only way his car could be more pimp would be if he had a speedster, but I digress.) Very few were made and they are the earliest ones, the 356 from 1950 to 1955, and the 356A from 1956 to early 1958. I guess once they realized they were drawing the wrong car, and a chimeric one at that, they booked up on their research and changed the design. Rather then say they screwed up, I'll allow that he just has two different Porsches. From ep345 onward, they draw a correct, mostly accurate Type 1. Specifically, a 1957 Coupe 356A (T1). (I have pics) There is still the slight hiccup in the front bumper. The one with a floating bar over the top. This bumper actually comes from the '57 speedster (a convertible) and they draw this bumper in movie 13. In the latest episodes (the Red vs Black arc), they draw the correct bumper, no floating bar and with two vertical notches. I'll allow that he was still in the process of restoring his baby. No wonder his car was such a bitch to research.
For those for whom this research can be of assistance, Gin's car has excellent braking, handles turns like a dream and tops out at 110-115 mph. Not really fast but in Japan, cars are capped from going faster than a certain speed anyway, 180km/h to be exact (about 112mph). (Not that organization vehicles would listen to that anyway.) It has left side steering (American standard side) and only one side view mirror on the driver's side. He has less then 6000 miles on it as of the last time I saw his odometer in 345 so his car was practically factory mint when he got it considering how he uses it as his main vehicle. (Must have cost a fortune. Guess the organization pays really good salary.) His car predates seatbelts. The ignition is not on the steering wheel column but on the dashboard on the left side lower corner near the door. Manual windows, of course, and the car's a manual, four gears. Porsche didn't introduce automatic driving until around April or May of 1968, the Volkswagon following in July of the same year. His car has air conditioning and heating. The engine is four cylinder and the cylinders are actually made out of cast iron, two on each side of the engine. Means he better not accidentally drive it off a pier, his engine 'll rust but good. The engine is also air-cooled and thus has no radiator and needs no water or anti-freeze. The driver seat and passenger seat sit flush next to each other with no arm rest area between with plenty of leg space, a six-foot man would have plenty of room. The back seat is a bench but there's a small rise in the middle that would pretty much encourage a person to sit behind the driver or passenger side, great for two people, three not so much. The back seat also folds flat for more storage space. And as far as I've been able to research, that whole 'Germany's Rainfrog' comment is a reference to the silhouette created by the bonnet and front headlights of the car as seen from the front at a low angle about level with the bumper (about Conan's eye-height). And one last thing, I hate your car Gin. I really do.
My thanks to my local library for their library exchange that won me the 'Porsche 356: Owner's Workshop Manual: 1957-1965.' Only three copies in the country's library exchange system and they worked their butts off to find it for me. And my thanks to the official Porsche 356 Registry, thanks for the pics and well-organized information.
Episodes Referenced: 18 June Bride Murder Case, 75 The Loan Company President's Murder Case, 176-178 Meeting with the Black Organization Again pt1-3, 232 The Mansion Degradation Case, 345 Head-to-Head Match With the Black Organization; Two Mysteries of the Night of the Full Moon, 445 Secret of the Russian Blue, 491-504 Clash of Red and Black! pt1-14, 545-6 The Witch Enshrouded by Fog pt1-2