Heh. Started another one. When will I learn? ^_^

This story is a two parter and written in Hakuba, first person, perspective

Please tell me if you like my stoires in first person or third person better. I've only written Kaito in first person before, so I'd like an opinion on which is better
considering I can write in both quite easily


Who's the Criminal, Tantei-san?


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Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it...
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
then accept it and live up to it.

-Buddha

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Chapter One: Change of Rules

I waited, the longer strands of my bangs blowing into my eyes as the wind hit me at an angle as I stood outside of the building. The cold stone pressed up against my back was the only thing around me that I was aware of. There were several officers running around me, frantic but in a controlled way, shouting orders at one another. Even when one of them tapped my shoulder and asked if I was alright, my smile and consequent answer were done without thought. The officer's face as he turned and sprinted off quickly lost to me as I closed my eyes and pressed my head against the stone.

Why was I even here? I'd told Nakamori-keibu that I wasn't going to be at heists anymore. I had more important things to look into. Nightmare had only just died a month ago and I was still working with several officers to get the money for the man's son.

I shook my head. I was lying and it left a dissatisfying taste in my mouth. I was lying for the good of another, had been doing it for weeks now, but I would never get used to it. As far as I was concerned, I was as much a criminal as Kid. At least Kid gave back what he stole. I was helping swindle thousands out of the federal government.

Not only that, but I was less interested in catching the thief than ever. The last time I actively played a part in trying to stop him was when I had been trying to bait Kuroba into showing his true colors in front of Aoko, partly also because, for all her faults, Aoko was a nice girl and I found myself being inadvertently drawn to her when she entered a room. It was too early for me to call it love, but it was something.

Most of the officers around me vanished inside the building, leaving only three to guard the entrance which they did with matching looks of determination. I couldn't understand where they found their resolve. Sure, Kid was a thief and there were a lot of people wanting the phantom behind bars, but it wasn't like they were running into a fire to save someone's life. What was so great about catching a criminal who had more good come out of one night than a normal officer on a beat could. I had seen more than one crooked person placed behind bars thanks to the kaitou than most of the officers here, though of course, they had been given the credit.

"Hakuba-kun, you sure you don't want to go inside?" The officer on the end asked, eyeing me from where I was resting just feet away.

I thought about it for a moment. At least inside, I'd be able to watch the show. It didn't mean I had to participate, though I hoped there would be no more sleeping gas. Kid and the police had been known to throw it around like candy. True, in my own duel with Kid, I'd been the one that sanctioned it the first time, but the effects had left me with a headache for the next two days. Kid was faster too, so the odds weren't in my favor if the thief decided to turn the tables. As much as I knew about his weaknesses, the thief easily knew three times that amount of my own.

I pushed myself off the wall. Something had been bothering me for some time now, since my arrival. Something was off. Something I was sure Nakamori-keibu had felt as well when we had first arrived on location. It was almost as if we were being watched, and the person behind the eyes didn't feel friendly.

"Excuse me," I nodded to the officer who had spoken to me, and the man stepped back as I opened the door. The glass door was closed lightly behind me as I watched the officer take up his vigil once more.

I watched the officers inside, along with their Inspector, as they ran checks in the security and searched for any miscellaneous item laying around that could be one of Kid's little toys, disguised so that it was overlooked. One particular flaw an object near me caught my attention, but I let it be. That is, for a second or two.

Whether or not I cared to chase the Kid anymore, I was at the scene now and I couldn't let one of the thief's silly ploys remain unnoticed. I took the small speaker off of a vase. It was rather nicely hidden in the floral patter that wound its way around the porcelain, but amateurish at best. I pocketed the device before returning to my accommodations against the far wall where a thick set of curtains lay. I wasn't going to make it too easy for him. As much of a criminal as I considered myself now, and with as much good a the thief was carelessly participating in, I couldn't let him pass me that easily. It went against everything in my nature not to be helping with the setup. As much of a contradiction as that made me, I found it easier not to care as long as I did what I thought was right, and that was going to be my own version of the law for the time being until I found a better coping method for my own misdeeds.

Setup currently consisted of a ten foot gap between the display case and any living creature. I didn't know what Nakamori had done to the case, but for him to feel that comfortable leaving it so vulnerable had me coming up with a few ideas. Having his men back made it so that Kid couldn't sneak up on it. Not a new strategy, but being the the exhibition hall of a large corporation, Kid wouldn't be able to use smoke bombs with any lasting results. The few seconds it would take from the thief to cross the gap might be enough for Nakamori-keibu's men to have time to get to him. That was only with a lot of luck though. If Kid didn't want to be caught, he wouldn't. At least, not when I suspected he knew so much about Nakamori outside of this theatrical show to know what he was or could be planning.

The room was very quiet. It was the other reason I was here tonight. Kid's notices were often sent directly to the Inspector. The general public became aware of the heists because there was always an identical notice sent to them around the same time the police received theirs. A few times I'd seen the Inspector ready to rip someone's head off when he'd heard about in from the papers first and his officers second because they had dallied with the mail. It wasn't from lack of trying that Nakamori-keibu often had to wade through hoards of fans in order to attempt to protect the target that Kid was trying to steal. That was, when it was on exhibit like it was now. For things that were stollen during, say, a play or something else of the like that would be spoiled by the large crowds, the thief was kind enough to keep it out of the papers. It hadn't reached print of Kid's intent to steal a large, trilliant-cut diamond ring from the hall, though that was what should have happened for something like this. Kid loved the crowds and for him not to have notified his fans of what he was going to do... it left me worried. That, and I still felt a pair of eyes on my back, even though I was leaning against the wall. Nakamori-keibu and the task force were just as on edge, though they had less reasoning to base their suspicious in than I did.

Of course, I was the only one taking it seriously because of that. They were nervous because they thought Kid was up to some new way of evading them, and had something planned just for the police officers. Had I not had the foreboding feeling since my arrival, I might have been coined into believing that falsity.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my pocket watch. Ten minutes. I placed it back gently and retrieved the speaker, playing with it between my fingers. I didn't know what Kid had planned to do with it. He'd never used speakers before. Maybe I was being paranoid and Kid really was just planning something more flamboyant maybe reindeer could really fly.

The waiting was as intolerable as ever. Ten minutes never carried the same weight for me as they did during heists. This time, the waiting was made all the worse because, as much as waiting was taxing, I didn't want time to pass either. I didn't want whatever my subconscious felt to come into a reality.

I watched Kid arrive in a flash of white, staring helplessly at him while I tried to figure out how his had gotten past my visual perception with such ease. The officers around me were just as startled as they witnessed the thief's impossible appearance as well. As if defying gravity itself, I heard the soft click as one heel of his foot descended onto the display case, followed by a second, and his cape flowing in an invisible breeze until it settled around his form.

I didn't attempt to search for his entrance, nor the tricks he must have employed to archive those effects. Had I not thought something was already off, the aura that Kid was emanating around himself would have brought it to light. Not even the task force dared to move upon the thief's arrival. Something completely unheard of in any natural sequence of events.

When Nakamori-keibu did try to close in on the phantom, a gloved hand was placed into the air, palm forward in the universal symbol of 'stop'. To my surprise, Nakamori-keibu heeded the thief's silent order. Kid moved his raised hand to the brim of his hat, watching us all as we stood like servants before a lord. I wanted to say something, demand to know what the other officers were doing, because I had already told myself I wasn't going to catch the thief. Afraid that if I succeeded, a part of me would be unable to let him go, which is what had to be done. Kid was doing more good than not, but if I got him in my grasp, my conscience would render me unable to let him go. Any words I had been prepared to say were wiped away again when Kid's trademark smile came into play, a few edges closer to madness than I had ever seen it.

"Found you." Kid raised his card gun and the motionless officers were no longer so still. Several jumped the barrier, ignoring the order to stay out of it in favor of stopping the criminal before them. I ignored their actions, instead focusing on the card gun until my eyes came to rest on the individual in it's line of fire. I had been traveling back and forth from Japan and England so often that I had never gotten close to any of the officers under the Inspector, so it was no surprise that the man's face was new to me. At one time I'd played with the idea that knowing them better would help me catch Kid, but I'd given that up because, no matter how far I pressed, no one knew these men better than the one who they were pursuing, for safety's sake if anything. Putting on a face was easy, getting the character right was a lot harder, and this was one place that Kid would always outrank me in.

The phantom thief stood, aim still holding the officer in place. The others didn't seem to care if their actions led to the injury of one of their own. I was too confused to take action. Kid wouldn't hurt one of the officers, right? He'd never done so much as push one of them back. The thief standing there, his card gun steady with intent to harm in his eyes, couldn't be what it looked like.

My body moved without consulting with my brain. Kid was prepared sooner than I was, finger already putting pressure on the trigger so his actions couldn't be stop. I ran in front of the officer he was aiming at, the man taking a step back and scared out of his mind.

Those stupid cards of his aren't as harmless as they appear. Kid was drawing the weapon back when he realized that I was in the way, but it was too late to stop anything. The first one cut deep enough into my arm, right above my elbow on my left side, that I knew I'd be needed a trip to the hospital. The second one cut across the side of my head like a razor. I winced, fighting back the urge to crouch down, because then Kid would have full access to his target once again and I wasn't going to have that. Those cards had been aimed for vital points.

I stared up at him, seeing Kid's eyes return my surprise, reflecting my own anger and pain as well. That only made me more confused as the thief jumped out of the way of the still pursuing officers. That was no imitation either. That was Kid. Kid had just broke his own rule of not hurting any of those who went after him.

And I had to know why.

Nakamori-keibu and his men dutifully ignored what had been going on behind them as they chased after Kid. I glanced around. The thief wouldn't be stupid enough to stay in the middle off all those officers. He'd be escaping out of one of the exits while they all piled on one another with no one the wiser. There was only two choices of escape, and the first meant going through the officers still gauding the door, so I took off for the open passageway. I never studied the layout of the office building so I had no idea where I was heading, just that Kid would be heading that way too.

Following his namesake, the phantom seemed to come from behind one of the last officers charging the place he had previously been. I was only a few steps behind him and grinning before I remembered that this wasn't like the other times I had chased him down, as few as they were. This time I felt more of an affinity towards Kid than the officers I followed, because both he and I were breaking the law for the good of others. It almost felt like a betrayal when I realized he was turning to violence. That emotional pain was fleeting. I'd been betrayed before. I'd been look down upon my whole life because of anything from my age, to my heritage, to the way I dressed and spoke. This was nothing new.

Something hard hit me from behind, making me stumble a few steps forward towards Kid that should have been longer and faster strides. There was a flash of pain and I felt my breathing speed up, what with the air having been knocked from me because of whatever had hit me. The pain soon faded and I was ready to take up the chase again. The only problem was that my legs wouldn't seem to move. I went to take a step forward with my right one and barely had it up in air before I had to return it to the ground, an inch or so off of where it had been before.

I turned, wondering if one of the officers had run into me or something when they noticed me following the thief. I'd made myself pretty obvious about it. They were there, several of them stopped in mid pace, the Inspector out in front. And none of them close enough to have touched me. I was sure I was frowning at them, but my brain wasn't telling me much more than the sight before me didn't make sense. If they were that far away, how could they have hit me?

Finding the same shell-shocked look on Nakamori-keibu's face left me more baffled. Having to turn my head to look at them was making me dizzy. I must have been hit hard, but that still didn't seem possible. Turning to face forward so that the world would stop spinning, I was even more shocked to find the thief so close to me. Kid was less than ten feet away and as frozen in place as the officers. The only difference was that I couldn't see more than the fact that the thief was no longer smiling.

Something was very wrong, but I couldn't find the pieces to fit together. I swallowed, finding it difficult. Now that I didn't have the mysterious expressions to focus on, seeing as I couldn't read Kid's, I noticed I was breathing rather funny.

That, at the dizziness that had yet to fade made me feel really tired. I blinked my eyes several times, seeing less of the room each time I opened them. Had I been hit with sleeping gas after all? But then, I should have fallen asleep right away. How was I still standing?

"Hakuba-san..."

Kid was speaking to me. I shook my head, only for the world to blur and the thief to meld into the blobby mess my vision had become. I opened my mouth to speak, but only air escaped. Yes, something was very wrong. That didn't matter though. Nothing did. I was too tired as whatever drug was being used on me quickly made it so I could no longer stay on my feet.

I must not have hit the ground, because I was conscious enough to know that my head was higher than the rest of my body. Whatever my face had fell against was soft and there was something under my arm that made the pain from earlier come back. I opened my mouth again to protest the position, pushing away with my arm only to fall back onto my side when the defiance I was putting up only made the pain worse.

"Why did you do that?" The loud voice in my ear was piercing, almost enough to distract me from the pain, as it seemed to be numbing itself again now that I wasn't moving. I opened my eyes to find Kid, or more accurately, the thief's chest in front of me as the thief laid me on the ground. Once there, I almost let sleep overtake me, staying awake only because I felt a hand on my shoulder shake me roughly so that more spikes of pain ran through my body.

"Don't fall asleep, Hakuba-san. You're injured pretty badly."

Injured? Yes, I knew that, but how had it happened?

I was still watching the figure at my side as the thief drew up one knee and looked ready to bolt off. My line of reasoning quickly disappeared as the pain became unbearable again when something pushed onto my back and I choked out a cry.

"Sorry, Hakuba-kun. I have to."

I'd never heard that voice speak so quietly before. I was sure it was the Inspector, but I never thought I'd hear his words sound so soft. Opening my eyes against the pain, I could still see the thief before me. Kid had never ventured this close to me before and not tried to have escaped. I knew I lacked the ability to, but I going to try and ask why when another voice broke through my hazy thoughts.

"You know I still have him in my sights! I said hand it over!"

This person now, I knew I'd never been acquainted with. The tones were husky and deep, near Nakamori's baritone but different, more careless on the inflections.

Being on the ground, I was getting a better look at Kid than the rest of the room. The thief was preoccupied glaring at something in the direction of my feet, so I was able to get an unmasked view of him. Had my breath not escaped me long ago, it would have at that moment. Kid looked- almost afraid. It didn't show in the expression, set in neutral displeasure, but in deep blue eyes that I, for once, wasn't sure were Kuroba's. They were much older and glowed with pain and fear that the kaitou's face wouldn't let him show. I knew there was something going on, that the heists were put on for a reason. Maybe when the pain stopped and I had time to figure things out, I'd find that reason.

Kid stood in a graceful motion, and before I understood what I was doing, the arm currently able to do so grabbed the hem of Kid's pants before he could retreat. I had trouble looking up so I settled on letting my head rest against the floor and pray my subconscious knew what it was doing.

Gloved fingers brushed over the top of my hand, Kid coming to rest one knee on the floor so that he would be able to pry himself free. I didn't know why, but I refused to let go. Letting Kid go would be bad. I didn't know where the thought had come from, but it wouldn't leave and, considering that Nakamori-keibu was in arm's reach of the thief, I decided to forget about the 'why's. One of us had to be professional.

"Hakuba-san, let go." The words were cold. Just as I'd never heard Nakamori speak so softly, I'd never heard Kid's tone so harsh it felt as if the words could tear skin from bone. I knew my hand was shaking as I shook my head. Something bad was happening and I couldn't figure out what it was, but I wanted it to stop. Kid could stop it. When I tried to get a breath to speak the words, a cough tore through me instead, making the pain worse and bringing with it a bad taste in my mouth.

Kid's hand went slack against mine, giving up on setting it's host free. Kid instead leaned forward to whisper in my ear. I shivered against the light breath hitting me as I tried to make sense of the words. Please, Hakuba-kun, I need you to trust me.

I reluctantly let go, feeling the material slide free when I dearly wanted to hold on. Kid had never addressed me in such a way. It was the kaitou's way of getting across the message that he either was Kuroba, and addressed me as my classmate would, or was using the term as a way of fooling me because Kid was aware of my suspicions.

I couldn't see whoever it was that the thief was facing down, but the other officers did nothing to intervene, and my guesses at what was going on while I was only semi-conscious turned into facts that I wasn't too happy with.

"And what does the promise of a killer mean to me? I'm not the one holding the gun and I really doing think that we have the same chances at a fair trade. Try again."

"Fine. We leave the cops so that I don't get shot the minute I get my prize, and we're good. See here though, the problem I see with that is that you can flit off the minute I don't have any leverage against you. He's coming with us."

I saw Kid's eyes harden and it took me a second to realize why. Great, now I was going to be leverage.

"He can't even stand up."

"Oh, don't worry about it. I've got him." There were footsteps and Kid tensed noticeably. I heard Nakamori-keibu from behind me, where his hand was still resting on my back, let out a husky breath that was almost a growl.

"You're not touching the boy."

I would have sighed if the situation were any different. I hated being looking down upon and 'boy' was a very degrading word. But Nakamori's defiance against any actions taken against me was endearing. He'd never stood up to be before. We were usually pitted against one another as much as I was against Kid.

"Move."

I could barely see a figure near me. Kid's gloved hand clenched in a fist but he back off.

"You too."

"No." Nakamori-keibu's voice held no room for argument. "I said you aren't touching him. You can take me instead."

"Tempting, but you see the problem is, I'd want to kill you then. You cops make me sick. Too afraid to take chances if it means risking something, whether that something be good grace in the public eye or life, your's or someone else's. Anyway, it doesn't matter. I'll kill you if you make me. Really, I'm just one of many, so if I have to kill you and get caught in the process, it won't matter. Sure I may get caught after this is over too, but someone will take my place until none of you cops are around anymore."

Kid was the one who moved. He did so slowly until I wasn't able to see him anymore and I felt his presence somewhere behind me, where the Inspector was kneeling. I heard no words spoken for a minute or two before Nakamori-keibu cursed, and I felt his hand come up off my back. I was able to turn enough to watch them after that, just as the Inspector got up and shoved Kid away from him as roughly as he could. The thief actually stumbled, but he didn't fall. There was a smear of red on Kid's coat and I thought for a moment that he'd been hurt before I realized that it was my blood. I could feel the ground cold around me. I must be bleeding quite badly.

A hand latched onto my arm before I was aware that there was a new presence beside me. They yanked me up off the ground hard enough for my vision to cut off. Whatever noise of pain I made was lost to my own ears that decided now as a good time to stuff themselves with cotton.

By the time I got my senses back, I was no longer in a building. There were a lot of trees. That was about all I was able to focus on before my bleary perception reminded me about what had just happened. Kid was strolling in front of me as if he hadn't a care in the world. It was late, but his costume was hard to miss. I would have liked to think it was all a dream but the firm arms around my shoulder and legs made that very hard.

"Good, you're up. You can walk on you're own now, can't you?"

The hand by my leg dropped down and my feet braced to catch me on instinct. If it weren't for the man's arms still under one of my arms and holding me close to him, I would have fallen. Kid stopped in his tracks to watch this, eyes glittering with something akin to fear once again. My own eyes shot up to met his. He was scared. Not just about this whole life or death situation of mine that the two of them were playing with like a game, but just scared. The thief had never been in a situation like this and he didn't know what to do, how far the boundaries lie. Kid was scared not only of the prospect of someone dying, but he was scared of himself, of the man, of me, and what had to be done to correct the situation was slipping past him.

I would have laughed at his juvenility if I could have. Yeah, maybe it was Kuroba after all. He was the kind of idiot to throw himself into danger and not think about the consequences.

The next thing I did was turn to the man holding me up. It was what you did when you were a detective. Worry about yourself later and scan the area for clues that could be later used against the perpetrator that you're after. The best thing to have when doing so is the man's face. I tried subtly to look up at him, still facing Kid so that I wouldn't garner too much attention. Having Kid see his face was one thing, the thief could hardly testify on behalf of the police, having me see his face was another and I didn't feel like making the rest of the trip to wherever I was being led off to, unconscious.

I was nearly speechless when I saw who it was.

"You're..."

"Yeah. Thanks for the help back there. Couldn't have gotten this far without you."

The man beside me was the police officer with the terrified expression that Kid had fired on in the hall.

What an idiot I was. Kid had been trying to stop all of this. He knew the officer was planning something, though I don't know how or why. If those cards had hit, he would have been down for the count. A trip to the hospital was a small price to pay for a life. But I'd gotten in the way because I thought it was the right thing to do. Well, it seemed my own version of right left nothing but misery for myself and those around me. The stupid thief had better results than I could accomplish and he was wanted by several countries.

I must not have been masking my thoughts very well because the man who had been, and still was, ready to take my life, grinned at me as if he'd just come out of the theater after seeing his favorite movie. I quickly drew in my expression but that only made him smile more at my pathetic attempt at abstaining from showing him anything. It felt cowardly but there was nothing much more I could accomplish on my own when I had to be held to stand up right and every breath I took felt like someone was harpooning me.

Now that I was conscious, Kid seem to take it as he cue to draw in closer to us. I'd never seen the thief place himself so close to someone's clutches while he was unmasked before. It made my aggressor nervous and I felt something pressed against my side by the hand that wasn't being used to hold me up.

"Don't try anything funny."

Kid's eyes glowed in the darkness much like I believe a demon's would, if the creatures were to take on a reality. The fear turned to something angry, possessive, almost feral that I'd never seen in the eyes of someone so cloaked in the ideals of childhood.

The gun was pressed harder into my side and I felt a ring of adrenaline run through my body. As much as Kid wasn't ready for this, I couldn't say I was prepared either. I'd always had the police around me for backup. I'd never imagined being kidnapped and held hostage as ransome for something someone seemed to want from the Kid.

Which brought up a ton more question that I didn't dare ask the answers to.

I started to feel myself nod off, not that I could understand why I was falling asleep during such a desperate situation anymore than I could control it. The man jerked me forward, sending a wave a pain through my body that woke me up enough to keep going. I hated the fact that the night was absolutely dead around us and there wasn't so much as a squirrel to what what was transpiring. With any luck, Nakamori-keibu would have found so way to tail us.

I barely registered the scenery as we passed along like silent shadows in the empty night. Kid had not left his new proximity any more than the man had removed the gun, so I had no choice but to follow the both of them. We finally arrived at a large building where the man's steps led towards the back, Kid in the front and catching onto the change in direction almost instantly.

There was a person leaning against the back wall, shadowed by the building so deeply that I couldn't make out more than the fact that there was someone there. By the movements of the darkness, I could tell they were a good deal taller than I was, but that was it.

Kid apparently didn't have that same problems that impeded my judgment. The thief outrightly snarled at the man that I couldn't make out, hands tightening into fists and dropping any semblance to the detached character that he had created for himself. In the darkness, a flash of light caught off of a small handgun. Now I was truly worried. Kid and I may have been able to get away from the man who currently held me in his possession. The gun made that difficult, but not impossible. Having two aggressors now, that was no longer fathomable. I watched Kid's eyes dart between them, absent of the same fear that I knew I couldn't hope to veil.

"To think, all it took to get you to me was to point a gun at someone. I should have tried it sooner." I watched at the shadowed man stepped forwards, his dark clothing and my blurry vision not making for a much better sight. He was facing Kid, but he raised his gun and pointed it at me. "Now, what to do with you now that I have you..."

My shoulders sagged and I felt the pressure on the bullet wound I had gotten earlier. That's what it was. After I felt the man's gun pressed up against my side, I had no doubt about it. I must have been in a sorry state for it to have taken so long for me to figure it out. Strange that it wasn't hurting much now. Kid wouldn't keep this up. If it came down to his life or mine, it wouldn't be much of a choice at all. Not that I hadn't known Kid sacrifice himself for another before, but his intelligence wouldn't let him do the same for me. Even if he agreed to do what they say in exchange for my safety, I had already seen their face and they were professionals. Once Kid was gone, their word wouldn't stop them from murdering me. I had the short end of the stick and I felt myself start to shake slightly at the notion. No matter how this turned out, I wasn't going to be walking away from it.

And, to add to the misery that I seem to start every time I try to do anything right, I let all my thoughts show on my face, seeing at the last second that Kid had been watching me instead of them. The thief's eyes were light, apologetic. And the worst part was that, whoever Kid was, he had nothing to be sorry for.

"What do you want?"

Kid addressed the man for a moment before turning back to watch me. I wished he wouldn't. I was hurt, scared. It wasn't the best time for me to try and hide my sentiments from him, even though I knew I must. I had to be the only casualty here. It would be stupid for us both to die and the stupid thief was doing more good than I was anyway.

"I've been thinking on that. It's clear you won't work for us. I could just keep getting more and more people involved in this until you give up or agree to. But that won't make me happy. You've been a pain in my side for years now, and I'm not letting you go a second time." The large man paused to think about it for a second. "You know, I can only see you dieing today. If we can't use you, you'll only be in our way."

Kid interrupted him before he could continue, voicing the same concerns that I had. "And what's to stop you from murdering the detective once I allow you to have your way?"

"Absolutely nothing. Walk away now then and let him die alone. I don't really care."

Kid twitched. I was amazed that the man had freely admitted to what we both knew he would do. At least feeding Kid false assurances could have him agreeing faster.

At that point, some part of me that was still methodically thinking instead of near-panicking, saw an opening that had a better chance of working than waiting for these men to kill us. The policeman holding me was focused on Kid, just as the man who seemed to be his boss was. Both their guns were pointed at me, but with neither actually facing me, it made it easier for me to move.

Because I had no better option, and the longer I waited, the more scared I would be and the higher the chance that their attention would shift, I acted.

I didn't have much strength, and knew it. Being shot leaves you very weak, and this was the first time I had to deal with a bullet that did anymore than scratch the surface of my skin, so I don't have any pain tolerance. What strength I did have, I used to latch onto the barrel of the gun at my side so that it would fire into the wall of the building past me. The man must have has his finger on the trigger because it barked once at my sudden jolt, barely missing my skin before I heard it ricochet off the wall.

Kid acted as the boss turned his head to see what had happened. The thief knocked his wrist so the gun went flying off to the side, skidding across the asphalt to rest near the doorway of another building. I saw the problem with both our strategies, and we both were left with the consequences. I had no energy to do more than face the gun away. I was lucky enough that the man still dressed as a policeman was too shocked that his weapon was no longer in his control, and able to tear it away before throwing it somewhere behind me. I had no energy to actually fight him. When he realized what had happened, he tried to charge passed me to get the gun and I had to hold him off. It was difficult, and painful, but when your life is riding on the outcome, you realize you can do amazing things.

Kid wasn't so lucky. Once the gun was knocked away, Kid was left vulnerable and the man took advantage of that. Being twice the thief's size, when he raised his arm that had been holding the gun and shoved it as hard as he could into the back of Kid's neck, he went down.

I could scarcely hear the man's words as he spoke to the fallen thief.

"You know what I call bleeding-hearted fools like you?" I could hear the sneer in his voice, even as my own hard breathing tried to drown out all other noises. "Dead."

"And do you know what I call people who underestimate the strength that others can possess when protecting someone..."

Kid never finished his sentiments, and though his vocal argument was no where near as threatening, nor said in the same deep, intimidating voice, it left a far more dire impression.

I couldn't see what transpired. They must have been fighting one another, but I was too preoccupied holding the man where I had him to focus on anything else. I heard Kid make some sort of pained noise at one point, but the rest of their brawl was done without much noise and with even fewer words. Kid must have gotten the upper hand at some point, because I saw a flash of white a few minutes later, and the policeman I'd been holding off fell to the floor.

"Hakuba-san, are you alright?" Kid was panting, face a similar white to his outfit, if not for a dark mark under one of his eyes where he must have been hit. I started at him, swaying where I was and trying to figure out what to do next. Was I alright? I certainly didn't feel alright. And he was there when I'd been shot. What kind of idiotic question was that?

I tried to answer him, only to taste blood in my mouth and watch the buildings steadily turn a morbid grey in my vision. Kid remained his untouchable white that even my withdrawing vision couldn't warp. Before I fell, I felt the same pair of arms around me that I had this evening. Kid caught me a second time before I could injure myself.

Not that it meant much to me at that moment. I was too hurt and confused and still had the spikes of adrenalin running through my body at random intervals, telling me I was still in danger.

"I'm sorry, Tantai-san."

I laughed, or tired to. It came out as a breath of air and a smile. I hated be apologized to by this idiot.