Kaito watched from his spot on the balcony as the teen-turned-child nursed an especially large bump on his head. Ran was currently scolding her father while simultaneously trying to make sure Conan was alright. The thief narrowed his eyes an abject dislike as the older "detective" simply made a comment about how kids shouldn't interfere in adult business and turned away.
That was the finally straw for the phantom thief as he pushed himself away from the railing. He had been watching Tantei-kun for a while now, always making sure that whatever his favorite little critic got into he would get out of it in, if not the same, then almost the same condition as when he started. And after nearly three months of being the boy's secret guardian he would be damned if he would sit by and let this man hurt his Tantei-kun in front of him.
Kaito had seen enough of the boys 'extracurricular activities' to know the kind of danger the mini detective put himself through almost on a weekly basis. Yet he was the only one who knew excluding that detective from Osaka. Kaito could only imagine how frustrating it was for Conan –or Kudo Shinichi- to have more intelligence than half the people around him and yet be forced to lie about who he was and go off by himself to try and put a stop to a criminal organization so deeply rooted in the city. Often Kaito wondered just what kept the boy sane.
That was the reason for the heist today. It was during his last heist, when that murder had taken place, when he had decided what his next target would be. Shinichi had been out of sorts to say the least and Kaito had quickly become worried about the little critic.
Well who wouldn't be concerned when one of the world's greatest minds didn't notice and internationally wanted thief standing next to him for ten straight minutes.
He hadn't even seemed interested when the murder took place; he had simply stayed still and watched, not even saying anything as the cops and Mouri-san had worked. After almost an hour of watching Conan suddenly moved sluggishly toward the second rate detective, grabbed a hold of his pant leg and tugged gently.
"Oji-san," Conan's voice was so quiet that it could barely be heard. Had it not been for the tug on his pants Mouri probably wouldn't have looked down at all.
"Conan!" he spat angrily when he saw who it was, "Haven't I told you not to interrupt me while I'm working?"
Conan actually cringed, "But…"
"No buts now. Get. Out. Of. Here." With that the detective slammed his fist into Conan's head.
And the boy dropped.
Gripping his head as though it was about to split in two, he curled up into the fetal position and moaned in pain before going completely still.
Everything had happened rather quickly after that, but Kaito would never forget how he felt when he saw Shinichi's mother pick up her son's limp body and rush out of the banquet hall. It was forever seared into his heart.
As it should have been for Mouri. Yet here he was again laying a fist on the child detevtive again.
Well, Kaito thought with a smirk, we'll just see about that won't we.
The lights faded as a spotlight illuminated the main attraction of the museum. A beautiful green emerald shone from behind its glass case and for a second Kaito felt the urge to feel its heavy weight in his pocket. But he was here to steal another emerald tonight. A magnificent treasure that the world had forgot about.
With a running leap the thief jumped gracefully over the balcony and landed softly on the carpet below. That was the easy part. He picked his way silently through the crowd not worrying about getting caught since he wasn't in full Kid gear yet, but not wanting to alert his little detective either. Looking around quickly as he approached the spot where the detective was standing ideally with his hands in his pockets, Kaito slipped into the hallway that contained the bathroom and waited.
Earlier that day, after making sure the bathrooms had been conveniently out of order, he had set up the things for his escape. Now he just had to wait. He had seen the way Tantei-kun's eyes had narrowed at him as he slipped down the hallway and, knowing the detective, would probably be along in a minute to check out this man's strange behavior.
Sure enough, after waiting only five minutes, the sound of little footsteps tapping against the tile floated down the hall. Kaito waited until he was sure the detective would see him before ducking into the bath room and hiding behind the door. The footsteps became slightly more rapid as they drew closer until they stopped in front of the bathroom, there was a slight pause and then the door opened. Conan stepped cautiously into the bathroom and let the door close behind him.
That's when Kaito struck.
Springing from his hiding place Kaito wrapped an arm around the small torso and clamped a cloth over the young mouth with the other. A muffled gasp escaped the boy's lips as he tried to pull away from the Kid. Tisking at the struggling child Kaito picked him up and brought him to the last stall.
"Now now Tantei-kun," he said sweetly as he kneeled down in front of the last door and pinned the boy to the floor with his knee tying the gag around the boy's mouth in the process, "you could get hurt if you keep that up." Still pinning the boy to the ground Kaito reached under the stall and pulled out a burlap sack from which he pulled a coil of rope. With the rope he quickly tied the boy's arms and legs so that he couldn't struggle. He then picked up the bound child and placed him lovingly in the sack. The last thing he saw before he tied the top was a pair of glaring ice blue eyes.
Pulling the knot tight Kaito quickly slug the bag over his shoulder, exited the bathroom and slipped through the emergency exit to the left. Stepping over the unconscious guard, the thief made his was down to his waiting motorcycle and loaded his bundle into the side car covering it with and extra blanket to further muffle any sounds the not-child was making.
"Fear not my little Kudo," he purred at the bag using the detective's real name for the first time, "I just need to go make a quick speech and I'll be back." The bag rustled as the captive inside struggled angrily. Kaito smiled, changed into his white suit and toward the museum. He needed to get this over with quickly so he could get Tantei-kun out of his make shift prison so that he didn't accidently suffocate. Jumping onto the fire escape this time Kaito quickly made his way to the roof to slip back into the building. Returning once again to his perch on the balcony, Kid rushed over to place a bomb on the railing directly opposite of where he would show and returned to his spot just over the jewel case.
Setting off the smoke bomb the thief waited until all the heads in the roomed turned to face the cloud of pink before dropping cat-like to the ground.
"You know Nakamori," Everyone's head snapped back around, "If you truly wish to catch me one day I suggest you keep your eyes forward."
Nakamori growled angrily, "Kid," venom dripped from his words, "You're not getting away this time, and you're defiantly NOT taking that emerald."
Kid smiled wider at that, "What do you mean my dear Nakamori, the emerald is already within my position."
"Your mistake was assuming that this," he gestured behind him with his thumb, "was the emerald I was after."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
Kid's smile grew wider and wagged his finger at the inspector, "I thought you could figure it out yourselves, isn't that why you threw such a precious stone away?"
Whatever Nakamori had been going to say seemed to vanish from his mind as he gave Kid a puzzled look.
Kid sighed irritably and the smile slipped from his face, "Since you are probably wondering why I'm still here if I have the gem, I'll tell you." Kid's words were hard and devoid of any of his normal playfulness. He wanted to make sure he had their full attention. "I'd like to extend a challenge to Mouri-san." He paused to make sure the older detective was looking at him.
"What kind of challenge?" he asked suspiciously.
"If you can find were I have hidden the emerald I will return it to you and turn myself in."
Kid ignored the sudden uproar.
"If, as I don't doubt, you cannot, then you will renounce you're title of 'world's greatest detective'. If you lose and don't renounce your title or use it anymore in the future then you will never see the emerald again." The older detective's eyes went wide. Then he smiled.
"No problem phantom thief," he laughed out, "I'll find the emerald and have you put in jail and when I do I'll make sure that everyone knows that it was World's Greatest Detective Mouri Kogorou that caught you."
Kid smiled again, "Since you have accepted my challenge let me tell you the rules."
"Of course, after all, what is a game without rules? First and foremost, you are not to be helped by anyone. Not even Ran-chan"
A bit of the arrogance faded from the older detective's eyes.
"Second, you will have three days to come up with the answer, and third, once you have discovered the location you are to post it in the Tokyo Time so that the world can see if Mouri Kogorou is really as great as he says he is."
Kogorou was defiantly looking pale now.
"If you do not follow these rules then not only will you never see the emerald again, but I will personally make sure that the world knows just how incompetent you are."
A heavy silence descended on the room and Kaito used that to his advantage, setting off another smoke bomb as he changed his clothes and disappeared into the crowd.
This time Kuroba Kaito was able to walk out the front door undisturbed and make his way back to his bike. Getting on he did a quick check to make sure that Tantei-kun was still breathing before he gunned the engine and took off.
Fifteen minutes later Kaito arrived home and immediately went to his room, his bag slung over his back. Untying the top Kaito gently lifted an extremely disgruntled Conan out of the bag and laid him, still bound, on the bed. Probing fingers gently sifted through the boy's hair until they came to a rather large bump.
The growl that emitted from him caused the previously glaring eyes of the boy on the bed to widen in shock.
"Jackass," He mumbled to himself, "and he calls himself a great detective for hitting a child."
Conan blushed slightly at being referred to as a child, but his anger had been replaced with complete confusion. Kaito noticed and smiled.
"Don't worry it's nothing to worry about." Conan narrowed his eyes. Kid laughed bring his hands up in mock surrender, "Okay okay, I'm sure you're wondering what you are doing here so I'm going to remove the gag, but you have to promise not to try and call for help, okay?"
He watched as Conan pondered this for a minute before nodding. Kaito leaned over and gently pulled the piece of cloth off the detective's mouth. True to his word Conan stayed quiet.
"I meant what I said about you being a neglected emerald," the thief said turning away from the little critic, "I'm sure you have noticed by now, but I have been following you."
"Why?" Conan's voice wasn't accusing, but full of curiosity.
"It happened after my last heist, when you collapsed after Mouri hit you."
"It felt as though my world was about to collapse. Seeing you lying there limp I…I thought….I thought that you had…." Kaito stopped and swallowed thickly, "I couldn't go through that again, not after Aoko, so I decided to follow you. That is when I came to realize just how often you put your life in danger and how little you were given in return."
Kaito continued, ignoring the little detective, "I had thought about giving that Mouri idiot a piece of my mind for a while and I knew that he wouldn't be able to say no to my challenge if his ward was in danger, at the very least Ran-chan would be hounding him and looking for you herself. But to tell you the truth I didn't know if I could go through with it. I was afraid that either myself or Nakamori would accidently hurt you, not to mention the fact that you could unmask me when I let you go."
He could feel blue eyes watching him intently, urging him to continue.
Kaito suddenly glared at the floor, "My mind was made up however when he hit you today." His fists clenched in the sheets, "I couldn't believe it. He dared to lay a hand on you again after what happened last time? It was unforgivable!"
Conan shifted at Kaito's side, shocked by the thief's sudden display of emotion. Taking a deep breath to calm himself the thief continued softer this time, "That was the reason I kidnapped you and issued Mouri the challenge that if he could find out where I was hiding you then I would turn myself in."
There was a moment of silence.
"Are you out of your mind?" Conan exploded, "Even if you set the challenge for him do you really think that the entire Japanese police force won't be looking for you? Why would you do such stupid thing?"
"Because I love you."
The statement was barely above a whisper but he could tell that Shinichi had heard it as a look of pure shock came over his face. Kaito quickly added, "Not like that. I only mean that you have become very close to me, almost like you were a long lost twin. My heists became much more important after I met you. Like you were there to watch over me and I you. If anything were to happen to you, well, I can honestly say I don't know what I would do. When you collapsed I thought I had failed to protect someone else I cared about. Someone whose life was worth more than all the jewels and precious stones in the world."
Suddenly Kaito scooped Conan into his arms and buried his face in the boy's hair.
"Nothing can happen to you." He said adamantly, although it sounded like he was trying to convince himself rather than Shinichi.
"It really affected you that much, when I passed out?" Kaito squeezed the tiny body by way of answer. Kaito could feel the little body relax slightly in his arms and they stayed that way for a while before the not-child began to squirm.
"I need to use the bathroom could you untie me?"
Kaito stiffened slightly at the request.
"I won't run away. I promise."
Kaito sat still for a moment before nodding into the boy's hair. Lifting his head up, Kaito quickly untied the ropes around Shinichi's arms and legs and placed the boy on the floor. Conan rubbed his slightly chaffed wrists before turning to the Kid with a questioning look. The thief gestured vaguely to the door down the hall and to the right. As he watched Conan walk down the hall Kaito was suddenly filled with a sense of dread and stupidity.
What had he been thinking? Kidnapping and bringing the detective here? Had he lost his mind? Not to mention the fact that he had shown his face to him. Curling up on his bed Kaito buried his face in his pillow, silent tears rolling down his face. Feelings that he had been hiding came back full force as he saw, once again, his little Tantei-kun fall to the floor, this time his face covered in the blood that seemed to be coming out of every part of the detective. He shivered as he heard the screams of Ran and Kudo's parents. He wanted to rush forward, to cradle Shinichi in his arms and tell his body that it would be alright.
But he couldn't seem to move.
Tears fell faster as the tiny body suddenly began to glow its limbs stretching out to their full size. The cries and screams rose in volume as the body slowly grew into the missing detective. Lifeless blue eyes stared at him accusingly, telling him it was his fault. This wouldn't have happened if he had been watching, if he had not issued that stupid challenge then he would not have been in jail and Kudo would still be alive.
Suddenly Kudo's body disappeared and was replaced by a young girl, no older then himself, with long brown hair.
A tiny hand brushed the thief's tears away. Blue eyes sprang open and looked in wonder at the little face staring back at him. It took him a moment longer then it should have to recognize the face without the overly large glasses.
"Don't look so surprised Kid," Conan tried to keep his voice light, but he could not hide the underlying concern, "I told you I would stay."
Before he could register the movement Kaito had wrapped his arms around the little body and pulled him down, pressing him into the face of his shirt.
Little arms wrapped around the thief as best they could as Kaito pulled the boy still closer to his body.
And for the first time since Aoko had died he did something he thought he would never do, especially in front of Tantei-kun.