Disclaimer: Don't worry, only saying this once... I don't own anything you recognize, nor would I really care to. Seriously, nothing would ever get done if I did.
Part One: Conversation
Kaitou Kid decides it's time for a few words with Suzuki Jirokichi.
So, this has been sitting on my computer far longer than I care to admit... I've finally decided to just put it up and be done with it.
When I began writing this, I realized I had no clue how to write Jirokichi ("loud old men" aren't exactly my forte). And unfortunately, searching for reference didn't turn up much. He didn't even have a place on the series' character lists, the poor guy. And given his obsession with headlines, that has to hurt. So, I'm apologizing in advance if Jirokichi ends up being out of character in this, though I am making an effort with him. Maybe it's just that I tend to give people too much credit, but, if nothing else, we know from the Iron Tanuki arc that he and Kid are capable of a civil conversation with each other. In theory.
Plus, I find myself becoming rather fond of the old coot; his security measures in Lost Ship in the Sky have endeared him to me greatly.
"We need to talk."
Suzuki Jirokichi was not a man easily shocked. Thus, the sight of the infamous phantom thief waiting in the advisor's private study was merely surprising. But given the events of the previous night, Jirokichi couldn't say it was completely unexpected.
Kaitou Kid was sitting calmly on the windowsill, one knee drawn up to his chest to rest an arm across it. The moon outlined him from behind, lighting the thief with a soft, almost ethereal glow as his cape billowed softly in the night air behind him. The hat was pulled lower than usual; the pale moonlight filling the room was barely enough to see the thief's face. And undoubtedly Kid had planned it that way, since his voice had called out as soon as the door was opened, before the advisor had even turned on the lights.
For once the boisterous older man didn't speak. He shut the door, silently respecting his "guest's" presence by leaving the lights off as he made his way to his desk. The open window was too clear an escape route, hinting to exactly how nervous the internationally-wanted criminal was by being there.
A faint smile ghosted across the thief's face. "No threats or elaborate security tonight, Suzuki-san?"
The old man scoffed. "Bah. There's no point in catching you like this." If catching Kaitou Kid was going in his memoirs, it needed to be at least as thrilling and memorable as the rest of the man's illustrious life.
The thief's head lifted slightly, appraising, and his smile was much warmer this time. "I knew there was a reason you were one of my favorites."
Jirokichi started at the unexpected compliment (and after only three or four heists, depending on how one counted, it was quite flattering). "You said you wanted to talk," he said gruffly, masking his surprise. "So talk."
The thief sobered. "I would like you to stop baiting me."
Jirokichi exploded. There was no other word for it – the pent-up emotions that followed heists, formed from the stress of planning, the tension and adrenaline of the actual event, and the slow wind-down afterwards that was a mixture of elation from preventing Kid's theft and disappointment at his escape, were still too fresh and raw for that kind of statement. "What! You expect me to give up on catching you just because –"
"That is not what I meant." Though Kid's voice was still calm, it cut through Jirokichi's temper instantly. Underneath that soft tone was an undeniable power, that of a performer commanding the attention of his audience. For a moment the room was silent, and when the thief spoke again, it was with his usual airiness.
"I didn't mean to imply that I wish you to cease chasing me." Kid gave the advisor his typical cocky smirk. "In fact, I quite enjoy your challenges. You have excellent taste, and always think of such interesting schemes, giving me a chance to put on a true show rather than just a simple thievery. It's... therapeutic, in a way." The smirk widened into a full grin. "And you care about the show almost as much as I do, which is quite a feat."
Then the grin vanished, and the air became suddenly heavy. "But last night proved that you have been following my pattern too closely. And for your own good, you need to stop."
"Remember who you're talking to." Jirokichi crossed his arms, daring the thief to explain. He was by no means a stupid man. Kid stole gems. Big gems. Old gems. Preferably gems with myths or legends attached, and the harder to get to, the better. So that was what Jirokichi had decided on as his main criteria when "setting bait" for the thief. He wasn't about to give up just because someone told him to, and certainly not if it was the thief in question.
Kid merely stared, still as a statue. When he spoke, it was with just a hint of that same demand for the old man's attention as before. "Suzuki-san, by now you've no doubt figured out I'm looking for a specific jewel. What you may not realize is that I am not the only one searching for it." Kid stood, all smooth, casual grace as his weight shifted to one leg, arms loosely crossed so that his elbows rested in the palm of the opposite hands. "If my... competitors..." and the distaste oozing off the word made it clear that it wasn't the thief's first choice, "even think you might be after it, as well..."
Perhaps the old advisor imagined it, or perhaps his study of the phantom thief had made him more perceptive. Maybe it was just the moonlight playing tricks on him. But he could swear he saw Kid shudder, just the tiniest amount, barely more than a shiver. There was something overly tight in the thief's stance, but it vanished as Kid continued, changing tone and subjects like a hat.
"I can assure you, I'll still answer your challenges with all due enthusiasm. I wasn't lying when I said I enjoy them. After all, have I ever not responded when someone calls on me?" There was a rambling quality to Kid's voice that Jirokichi had never heard before. "And I'll admit I've grown somewhat fond of Samizu Kichiemon's work, which you are so very good at finding. Though you may wish to avoid the mountain villa – I've already been through and it's a bit the worse for wear, I'm afraid. But, really, that's all Tantei-kun's fault, I told him –"
"Kid." The thief's chatter trailed off, and his eyes met Jirokichi's directly for the first time that night. The advisor matched the level gaze. "I don't care about the gems. I want to catch you, and they're the best bait to lay a trap with."
Kid shook his head. "Suzuki-san, if it were you, I think I would come even for a painting." He grinned, amusement clear. "Even one of those silly modern pieces."
"But you're not looking for a painting." Jirokichi stood firm, arms still crossed. His temper was working its way back up, wanting a proper reason behind the thief's visit. "I don't see why I should change my tactics if you're not changing targets."
Kid frowned, the barest whisper of a growl drifting in the air. "Suzuki-san, tell me something. Does death scare you?"
Confusion showed clearly on the old man's face. "What are you talking about?"
"Everyone dies eventually, Suzuki-san. It's only a matter of sooner or later." To say it was strange hearing Kid speak so blandly about death, when he was attributed with "No One Gets Hurt" as his motto and had put his own life at risk several times for the sake of another, was beyond an understatement. "And you have led a very full, very interesting life. You're still doing so. But you're not young anymore." The barely-visible eyes narrowed. "So are you afraid of dying?"
Jirokichi burst out laughing. As a result, he was treated to a very rare sight: Kaitou Kid, for just a fleeting moment, was completely shocked. Eyes went wide, jaw slackened, and he was actually leaning back from the waist... And then it was gone, poise recovered and face smoothed as though nothing had ever happened.
"I take it that's a 'no?'"
"Kid," Jirokichi breathed, fighting down the laughter that was still trying to work its way out. "Why do you think I'm writing my memoirs?"
The magician grinned. "I'd assumed your memory was going." The comment was playful and without bite. "And you needed the reminder."
"Bah." Calm now, Jirokichi eyed the thief. "What brought this on?"
The humor left Kid's face instantly, and his head tilted down subtly so the shadows hid his eyes. "Humans are funny things, Advisor. Escaping death, finding 'eternity...'" He hesitated, shifting his weight, hands going to his pockets. "One wouldn't think it strange for a man such as yourself to seek something like that."
Jirokichi considered that for a moment, frowning. "What has this got to do with gems?"
Kid flicked a hand dismissively. "Forgive me, I've distracted myself." The tone was repentant, and he pulled on the brim of his hat, tugging it lower. "The point is that there is a very real threat to you if you continue in the way you have been." A trace of genuine concern slipped into the thief's voice. "And my list of favorites is short enough."
Jirokichi laughed again, though this time there was no reaction. "Don't forget, I have the best security in the world! Suzuki Jirokichi isn't an easy target!"
"Suzuki-san." Kid's hand was still on his hat's brim, making it impossible to see even the vague, moonlit features. "If I can get in here, so can someone else."
Jirokichi scoffed. "But you're the Kaitou Kid. You're better than some two-bit jewel thief trying assassination."
"Suzuki-san," Kid said again, exasperation working its way in. "As much as I appreciate your faith in me, if these men believe you have discovered our mutual target, if they even suspect you are after it for the same reasons..." He stopped, letting out a slow breath. When he spoke again, there was just a trace of strain in the normal cheerfulness. "No one gets hurt, Suzuki-san. That's been more true at your challenges than my usual heists. Should I sign a contract for you to believe I'll come, even without a gem as the prize?"
"But that wouldn't help you." Jirokichi mentally cursed as the words slipped out.
Kid's head tilted to one side, the perfect picture of puzzlement. "Help me? Why would you..." He straightened with a small, comprehending "ah." Then he shook his head. "This is because of the dog, isn't it?"
Jirokichi didn't answer. Kid was laughing softly, but it wasn't his usual laugh: it was thin and weak, more reminiscent of when one unknowingly dodged a bullet, and laughed because it was the only way to avoid breaking down when they realized the occurrence. The sound was too wrong to be anything but real. "I thought you were going to put off thanking me until I was caught?"
Jirokichi scowled. "Like you said, I'm not young anymore. If I don't catch you, I wouldn't be able pay that debt."
Kid's laugh was lighter this time, returning to his normal tones. "I'm touched, but I'd rather you wait." A Cheshire grin split his face. "After all, isn't this the same as admitting you can't catch me?"
Jirokichi opened his mouth to deliver an angry retort, but stopped, cut off by the thief slicing a hand in the air. The thief's expression was suddenly intent, focused somewhere behind him, and Jirokichi only now became aware of the footsteps on the other side of the door.
"My apologies," Kid said when the footsteps had faded. "It seems I've taken up enough of your time for this evening." With a rustle of silk and smooth movement, Kid was easily balanced on the thin windowsill, facing the moon so he was left only a vague silhouette.
"Wait, Kid!" Jirokichi started towards the thief, even now a part of him not wanting to let the thief go so easily.
Kid chuckled. "Not to worry, Suzuki-san." Moonlight glinted off the monocle's glass as he looked over his shoulder, a fierce, manic flash of too many teeth stopping the old man in his tracks. "I'm sure you'll be hearing from me again."
In the space of a breath, Kid had leapt from the sill and vanished into the moonlight, the open window and billowing curtains the only proof he'd been there at all.
Next time: Conan learns he didn't have it all figured out.