Sorry this isn't one of my more dramatic stories, but it always bothered me after that last book that Hakuba
pretty much was left with no choice but to lie to the police for Kenta's sake...

I promise the next one will be more exciting ^_^;

THIS IS THE END THOUGH. I know I don't cover everything... again, sorry

Chapter Two: To Be a Thief



Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one. ~Chinese Proverb



I woke up to the steady swish of an overhead fan. There wasn't much light in the room I was in, only whatever illumination managed to creep under the door frame. I was in a bed, which was a surprise to me. I expected to wake in a hospital, not a room that felt more like home than any hotel could have achieved.

I removed the blanket that was on top on me and tried to get up before thinking better of it and bracing my teeth against any sound. Besides the pain, I was hungry. I hadn't eaten anything beside an apple I'd picked up on the way to the heist. Breakfast had been overtaken by a lengthy phone call to my mother and I'd missed lunch due to my own studies that I'd had to dive into now that I was back in Japan for a while. I'd been neglecting the work for a while, but it was necessary if I wanted to continue my career as a detective. No one wanted to hire someone who didn't even have a high school education. I'd work on college when I had to take on that obstacle.

So I was somewhere I didn't recognize, I was hurt, I was hungry, and the last thing I remembered was my desperation. But I was not helpless. Against the pain, I got to my feet after a string of curses that I would not let pass my lips. A noise in the other room seized my attention enough for me to forget, temporarily, about my worries in favor of soothing my curiosity.

"That hurt!"

"Stop complaining, Young Master. You know it could have been much worse."

There weren't any words that followed. It didn't sound like Kuroba, not quite, but that may have been the closed door. The voice definitely was not Kid's. The older one I'd never heard before, but I'd had a guess long ago that Kid had an accomplice of some sort. I never imagined it was some so on in years that they sounded like my grandfather.

I approached the door as silently as I could on tired legs. I still felt drowsy, but I wasn't going to let it take control of me and risk missing whatever it was that was taking place around me. I couldn't possibly be anywhere but somewhere that Kid had brought me. One of the voices on the other side of the door had to be the thief. I had no need to prove it, but I wanted to know.

The handle was impossible to move without creating some type of noise so I went about it as slowly as possible. My hand wanted to shake but I didn't allow it. Each millimeter of movement I was afraid would give my presence away. When I finally had it, I moved the door so it was scarcely open enough for me to peak through, releasing the knob as slowly as I had opened it. It took practice to be this quiet and I'd learned long ago how to accomplish it. When you were a detective, there were places it was better to get into without people noticing.

The narrow crevice of light that bombarded its way into the room I was occupying cut through the darkness and blinded me. I was able to take in my surrounds now, but it seemed an unimportant task. I was more focused on the sight before me.

Kid was on the ground of a room that was created for guests, not living. There was no bed and the only place to rest was a sofa that was pushed against the far wall that I could only see the corner of, and a chair in the adjacent corner, right in my line of vision. Kid was closer to the couch and I was only able to see him from the waist up. There was an old man kneeling over him, placing a cold pack on the thief's back. I watched Kid wince at the contact.

"You're going to be sore for a while. You'd better think up some excuse for it."

"I don't care."

"Young Master." The older man sighed and stared down at Kid as if he were his misbehaving son. 'Young master' was such a lenient term of address coming from someone the older man's age that all I could say for certain was that Kid was somewhere under the age of thirty.

"You know what could have happened today?" Kid ignored the man's hand and stood up, hints of tension around his eyes. "If Hakuba-kun hadn't acted, I don't know what I would have done. There was... This-" Kid cut himself off with a shake of the head. "What am I supposed to do if they try it again? Hakuba-kun's not going to give up. If I didn't think they wouldn't go looking for him right now at the hospitals to try it again, I wouldn't have brought him here. I can't-"

"I know, Young Master, I know. You have to calm down though. Right now the both of you are hurt and working yourself up over it before you're better won't do anyone any good."

Kid turned towards the older man and I caught a glance of his face that I'd seen earlier. The dark mark under his eye had grown, just an inch down from giving him a black eye. Thinking back on it, that man in the shadows hadn't been a lightweight, and Kid was by no means a large person. I had to think that it was a difficult fight to win.

"Not thinking on it will only get people killed." Kid was visibly upset to a point I'd never witness before. His eyes were dead set, his fists shaking when he clenched them them too hard every few seconds. I'd mostly likely never seen him like this before because Kid didn't know he was being observed, and this older man seemed like someone that he trusted. I couldn't make out the second occupant very well myself, only catching a glimpse of white hair and dark glasses before he retreated out of sight.

"I don't know what to tell you, Young Master. You'll just have to be more careful from now on. Maybe it would be best to warn the police of the potential danger that boy could be placed in, then they can take care of their own."

"I know. I wish it were that easy, but-"

"But you'd get involved anyway because they'll always be someone after you and someone that they can point a gun at. I know, Young Master, but for now, there's nothing we can do about it."

"I can stop."

I swallowed as quietly as I could. If Kid stopped, if I didn't have to chase him anymore... What would happen? I might not have those same reasons to keep going that I had now. Kid was doing good for most, if not all the people who crossed paths with him. I was doing the same. We were both using less than legal means to produce our results. If Kid backed out now and I was left with only those in jail cells to compare myself too... I don't think I'll be able to do it anymore. Kenta, and all the work that I'd already put into his case, would be lost. But maybe that was for the best. Maybe neither of us were meant to do things this way. Kid wasn't a bad person, though I'd only come to let myself acknowledge that fact recently. This stealing had to be be taking its toll on him just as much as lying to all the lawyers I had to face, as well as acquaintances I'd come to know through my short time in Japan, was marking me.

"And if you give up, what then? They win and innocent people will still die. At least with Kid, they have a chance, Young Master."

"But then it's my fault when I don't fulfill that role! When I mess up, it's not longer because of them, it's because of me. I'm the one who lets those people die then. Jii-chan, I can't do that. I can't-"

"Take the risk of losing? Kid is what he is, and you're him. You don't have to protect everyone. You didn't have to start publicly looking for your targets like you have, like your father had. You could have done things differently, remained in the shadows until you found it and then gotten your revenge on them. But you didn't, Young Master. You made yourself public so those in their way would be brought into the light with you, where Snake and his men fear to tread. I don't mean to encourage this behavior, but I want you to know what you'd be giving up."

I had to remind myself to breath. Okay, there was new information that I was filing away on Kid now. He had a father, and his father had been Kid previous to this new person taking over the role. That was understandable. Kid couldn't possibly be as old as Nakamori-keibu and run around with the dexterity that he had. That still put Kid as anyone in the age category that I determined earlier. The hair at the crime scene that I had found that put him between fifteen and seventeen had the possibility of not being his. But if it was, there wasn't a long list of people that Kid could be. I'd have to look into Kuroba's father when I left.

That thought shocked me as much as Kid's bitter expression when he turned away from the man. I'd presumed that Kid would just release me. I was somewhere that could be traced back to him right now, so my distaste of sleeping gas came back to me. That was nothing compared to what had almost happened tonight though, if it was still tonight. I'd almost been killed. Kid had almost been killed. Until I knew for certain what was going on and why there were killers walking the streets, as free as a bird, I wasn't going to give up on this. If Kid disappeared, these men were the type to go underground where the police couldn't find them.

"Either way I lose." The thief dropped to the floor in a sitting position, one gloved hand clutching at nothing in air. "What am I supposed to do? What would I have done? If Hakuba-kun hadn't saved himself, I would have been..." The kaitou moved his relaxed hand to grab at his chest. "I couldn't run away then, I guess I can't run away now. If that idiot detective gets himself killed because this though..."

"Your father had been their only target before. I didn't think this kind of thing would happened. I'm sorry."

"You don't have to apologize, Jii-chan. You didn't do anything wrong."

"And neither did you."

Kid practically flew across the room at my words. He tired to get to his feet, tripped, fell back as far as he could and looked at me as if I'd just shot him. The older man had a similar look of terror and had backed up, but my main focus was Kid. I stared down at him on the floor, while his eyes did a quick check of the best escape routes. I wouldn't be able to stop him if he ran. I was hardly in any condition to do more than I currently was.

"How long-"

"Long enough," I answered him truthfully. That stuck it. I didn't need any declarations or removing of articles to tell who it was before me. Kuroba tensed up at my expression. His voice had given it away even before I opened the door, but that wasn't evidence. It wasn't as if I recorded him. There are people out there who sound alike as well. The real reason I was sure it was him was the way he was glaring at me. Only Kuroba could put such hatred and a simultaneous degree of comradery that completely contradicted one another into a look.

Neither of us said anything to each other because neither of us had the words in which to express what we had to say. That, and neither of us knew what we were supposed to say to begin with.

"Damn it." Kuroba broke the silence, closing his eyes. "You were supposed to be sleeping."

"There are a lot of things that I'm supposed to be that I'm not. I believe I can say the same about you." I didn't know how this was going to work, how I wanted it to work. I wished that things would just go back to the way they were before, when I wasn't forced to lie. Now the situation had all the implications that I'd also be keeping one of the world's greatest secrets. It was all very stressful. After thinking it, the pain that followed was less physical. What a selfish wish.

Kid couldn't possibly be doing what he was without reasons that were too painful to think about. I may not know Kuroba personally, but Kid cared too much for this all to be for fun. Looking down at Kuroba and what he must have gone through to be where he was now, I was sure he had the same wish that I did. That things would just go back to the way they were.

If only life were so simple.

"Tell me what happened."

Kuroba raised his eyebrows up at me, eyes glittering with the same innocence that I had seen earlier. It wasn't all a lie after all. Kid, for all his tomfoolery, actually held onto the innocence he danced around with. Tonight must have affected the thief as much as it affected me, maybe even more. "Tell you what?"

"Tell me what happened. Why someone just shot me and dragged me off so that they were able to kill you. Tell me why you didn't leave when they gave you the chance. The guns were pointed at me, not you, and I know how fast you can be when you want to."

Instead of answering me, Kuroba took off the top hat and monocle so that we would be able to face each other properly. He asked a question of his own. "Would you have been able to walk away if it were me that they had?"

I was the one left without an answer. Kuroba had one, even though he didn't answer it in the conventional way. I watched him as he looked down and scratched his head where it must have itched because of the top hat, making him look like a puppy. He came up with a smile, only cementing the image. The problem was the way he smiled was unlike Kid's or his own. It was strained and worried. It wasn't that I couldn't answer. I was afraid of my own words. And by the glare in his eyes when he opened them, he could sense my fears, though I doubt he understood them.

"Of course I couldn't have just left, because there's a difference between the two of us. If the world lost me, it would be sad, if the world lost you, it would be a tragedy. Kuroba-kun, I don't think you understand your own importance. I'm not bolting out of here in search of the police because I do. You're not Batman, but you're close enough to it that I wouldn't jeopardize your well being."

"And I can say the same about you, Hakuba-kun."

I frowned, looking down at him due to the sincerity in his words.

Kuroba let out a breath, somewhere between annoyed and authentically tired. "I mean, I can only do so much as Kid. The rest is really up to the police. I'm like the dog that points at the bad guys and you go chase them down. I don't think what I do is as impressive as what you do, if you don't include the thieving. That," Kuroba snapped his fingers and produced the white diamond from the case that he hadn't done more than land on, "I don't think you can top."

"Anyone can follow a map."

"And anyone can magnetize a needle if they know how it works." Kuroba started laughing out of now where. "You know, why are we trying to make fun of one another? I mean, we both do what we have to. You don't... mind letting me go?"

"I never caught you. I can't let you go of someone I never had. It's my job to help bring peace to those you need it, not take it away. But please, I really need to know what you've been doing. I've tried figuring it out and I can't. I never thought it was this dangerous, but isn't it better that I know?"

"No," the older man spoke up right away. "The more you know, the more danger you'll be in."

Kuroba didn't say anything though. He just looked at me. I couldn't tell whether he was weighing his trust in me or thinking on a more personal level, but I waited for his answer. As classmates, I knew as much about him as I did any of the others around me. Kid I knew, and I knew him well. Kuroba was a mystery and they had to be different enough people that he could fool those close to him. Kid then, was the fake, and I was putting my faith in hope that Kuroba was at least the same type of person on the inside that Kid was on the out.

"Jii-chan's right. It will put you in danger. But you're already in as much danger as you can be, now that they know that they can use you against me. It's better to take the known route than place your hopes somewhere else. Chance are they'll come after you again."

I shivered. I couldn't stop that. I may be afraid, but that was something that I couldn't control. I could control what I did about it and I wasn't going to let Kuroba fight these people on his own. Call it revenge if you must. I wasn't to sure myself why I wanted in so badly, but I did. As long am I was happy with the person I am tomorrow, then I didn't cared much anymore about the things I have to do to get there. Being a good person and following the law should have been the same thing, but Kuroba found a loophole and, if he was willing to go down that path, then so was I.

Cowardly. Yes, I knew that about myself. While Kuroba was willing to keep going, what did it matter? For now, he knew more about the situation than I did, and for all my flaunting, I needed someone else to be there. I wasn't strong enough to stand on my own. Maybe, if these people ever succeeded in killing him, I'd worry about my own faults.

"I'm ready to take them on."

Kuroba laughed again, this time looking me over without mentally judging me. "I don't think I want you taking them on just yet. You know, it took Jii-chan over an hour to get that bullet out of you. It didn't do a lot of damage, but enough that I'm sure running, heck, walking is going to be hard on you for a while."

As long as Kuroba was admitting to knowing about how much pain I was in, I let myself sit on the floor in front of him so I could at least get off my feet. "Yeah. Maybe your right. That doesn't change my answer."

"Didn't think it would." Kuroba yawned. "Can it wait until morning?"

"No." I wasn't going to be swayed on this either. If Kuroba was willing to talk now, that didn't mean he'd be willing to talk later. For all I knew, he would wait until I fell asleep, get me to my house, and try to convince me that this was all a dream.

"I didn't think you'd change your mind on that either." Kuroba sprawled out, Kid's white costume enveloping him as his arms came to rest above his head and his eyes closed. Whoever that man was, he hit Kuroba hard. That mark on his face would take a miracle to hide and an even greater miracle to explain. I had to guess that the suit was hiding similar bruises.

"Are you alright?"

Kuroba opened one of his eyes, the one without the injury, and stared at me strangely. "I'm fine. This isn't the first time I've been up against them. You're the one I'm worried about. Don't go asking me questions like that when I'm sure it's worse for you."

"You make it sound like you were the one responsible for my injuries."

Kids eyes tinged with fury as he propped himself up on an elbow and stared hard at my arm, followed up by glancing somewhere above my eye. I looked down and felt the bandage that was under my shirt. I had completely forgotten about those stupid cards that had hit me. It wasn't like they were anything compared to the bullet, and Kuroba hadn't been aiming at me.

"That was my fault. I didn't understand what was going on. Telling me now may prevent it from happening again in the future, or you could let things be as they are and we get a repeat of tonight."

Kuroba flinched before going back and laying down less comfortably than he had previously. "And if I had told you before now, you may have run after the officer yourself and gotten shot before he could even take you hostage."

There was a loud banging at the door and all three of us jumped. I winced, trying to force my eyes open against the sudden pain. The bullet may be gone, but the damage was still there. I moved my eyes to Kuroba as he got up stiffly and pressed his body to the side of the wall where thick curtains were draped over the window.

"Jii-chan, any chance you were expecting someone tonight?"

"No, Young Master. Were you followed?"

"Tsh. It wouldn't have been hard. I had to carry Hakuba-kun here and I couldn't stop the bleeding. I didn't think I'd left enough of a trail to follow."

There was an electronic whirring that ran through the room, buzzing inside my ears. Kuroba perked up at the noise, interested but not worried. It took him a minute to realize that the noise was coming from a cell phone on the table next to him. I was tempted to pick it up but Kuroba got to it before I could and flipped it open.

"Ah," Kuroba sighed. "Don't worry, it's just Mom. I guess I must have scared her again."

"You didn't call her to tell you you'd be home late?"

"Nope. I think it's safe to say I had other things on my mind." Kuroba snapped the phone closed and went to answer the door. I waited for my own heart to slow down, hearing Kuroba mutter 'she could have texted me FIRST', under his breath as he unlocked several bolts.

I couldn't see into the main room very well because you had to go traverse a desk, and even then the door was off to the left. I moved forward a few feet so that I could attempt to view what was happening. I got there just as Kuroba managed to unlock the door in the darken light that was spilling in from the room we were in. A woman with shoulder-length brown hair was standing in the door way but I couldn't get a good look at her. In the next moment she lunged in and wrapped her arms so tight around Kuroba that it looked like she was trying to crush him.

"Ow! Mom, let go! That hurts!"

"Serves you right for not calling me! Honestly Kaito, ever since last month, when I didn't see you until you came home from school the next day... You promised me that you would call if you were going to be out late. The heist has been over for nearly four hours and I hear all this talk about kidnappings and how the police aren't giving out information! What was I supposed to think!"

My heart lurched. No one knew I was safe. I couldn't imagine the task force would be doing nothing to find me.

One of Kuroba's arms reached out from where he was engulfed in his mother still, as he tried to catch my eye. "Don't worry, Hakuba-kun. I already talked to Nakamori-ojisan. He knows your safe, but I told him I couldn't take you to a hospital. I'm gonna talk with him tomorrow at some point so that I can warn him about what Sna... about what they might do to try to get me again." And then Kuroba was lost in his mother again as she assumed for herself what had happened. I noticed a suspicious lack of white in Kuroba's clothes while this happened. At some point during transit, Kuroba had changed into a normal outfit, though I couldn't see much of his attire to know more than it wasn't Kid's while his mother was embracing him

"How many...?" I stopped, about to ask him how many people knew of his identity as Kid, since this older man and his mother both knew. I couldn't have been the only one who suspected something was up either. Now wasn't the time to bother him. As much as it looked like Kuroba was putting up a fight, he was the type of person who could escape from anything. Whether it was to sooth his mother's fear or his own, I didn't know, but I let them be.

Before they pulled away from each other, I joined the older man in the other room. Now that I had the opportunity in which to observe him, he was indeed a person close to the age of my grandfather. He looked about as tired as I felt, though his eyes were still viewing me as a wild predator that had walked into his home while he was vulnerable. I couldn't blame him. Honestly, so much was happening at the moment that I couldn't be sure of what I was doing, or going to do.

Heists weren't supposed to be like this. Kid wasn't supposed to be a target of anyone other than the police. There weren't supposed to be guns, ever, on either side.

To save the poor man some peace of mind, I didn't met his eye nor stare at him any longer than it took me to notice his discomfort with me. I was still very tired, and as rattled as I was, putting Kuroba's words together meant that this person was the one who had helped me, maybe even became someone I owed my life too. I had acknowledged that I wouldn't be running to the police, and I wasn't going to go back on my word, but that didn't mean I wanted to embrace Kuroba's own brand of anarchy.

I couldn't stifle a yawn. Even with the current conditions of the situation, I didn't know where I stood. There was a mutual agreement that neither of us would say anything of this night. That I could understand. Everything else crawled out of my metal capacity to comprehend. It could have been the blood loss and consequent lack of sleep. I yawned again, running a hand through the parts of my hair that weren't currently tied down by wrappings.

"Go back to sleep. There's nothing we can do right now until morning comes."

I smiled, remembering not to reach his eyes when I looked up. "I guess you're right. I do want to thank you for your help."

"Anyone would have done the same."

I couldn't tell if I was smiling or not any longer. I highly doubted that many others would have been able to, let alone want to since it required assisting and accepting Kid as well. I wouldn't have been turned out of a hospital, but by the way Kuroba had been talking, it seemed these assassins I'd never taken much notice of would have gone looking for me.

That brought up more questions. I knew that there had been attacks before this one. Why had I done nothing about it? I didn't want to believe that I was as ignorant as the police.

I had only just started heading for the adjacent room where that held the bed I awoke in when the distinct sounds of a window breaking caught my attention.

The older gentleman was quicker on the uptake than I, and already out the door by the time I had accomplished more than to turn myself around. Walking, standing, breathing - all the pain associated with these medial tasks was easily hid under adrenaline. I stopped and wondered about it for a moment before chastising myself and going to see what had happened.

The old man was in the doorway so viewing was limited. The window that had broke was the one in this room, about two in-a-half feet by three and near head hight. I could see dozens of tables now that the light was allowed in. I walked up beside the man instead of treading on the broken glass to see outside.

Kuroba's mother inadvertently moved closer to him from where she was standing outside, blocking my sight once again. Being taller does have its advantages though, and I was able to place a hand on her shoulder, not inappropriately, and have a looked around. "What's going on?"

A none too sober man answered my question for me by stumbling a few paces towards us. He was heavyset, thick greasy hair parted unevenly across his face. His clothing spoke of hard times and his eyes were narrowed in drunken determination as he waved a whiskey bottle around in his left hand. Several other things registered to me of no consequence. His left shoelace was tied very loosely, on strand somehow defiantly dodging when his other shoe went to take an inebriated step. From his gait and heavy breathing, he may have had a minor health problem. He also had a wallet in his side pocket that he kept touching every now and then to make sure it was still there, as if he weren't used to carrying it in his pants.

"Calm down."

Kuroba's voice startled me, my mind turning back thoughts of defense from several bad pranks he'd pulled on me soon after I had stopped trying to challenge him in the classroom. I'd learned quickly that being near Kuroba was a dangerous pastime in school. If Kid was slippery, Kuroba was ten times worse when he had a home field advantage.

I couldn't see him, though I had heard him. His mother was currently blocking him from my view.

So I moved past her to the point I was nearly out the door when the man suddenly shouted into the night, loud enough to carry several blocks.

"Shut up! You don't get to tell me what to do!"

Kuroba placed his hands into the air, head down. It was the human translation of a wolf baring its throat to another in defeat. "I'm not trying to tell you to do anything."

"Like hell! I heard you! Want me to calm down?"

I could only watch as the man swung the bottle at Kuroba, who was much smaller than his attacker. My worry may have been misplaced. Kuroba raised his forearms and angled it so the bottle slid down, the force of the strike offsetting the man's stance as he tired to do it several times more, only making him more unsteady while it did nothing more than leave a few bruises on my evasive classmate.

Kuroba's mother went to intervene and I unconsciously placed a hand in front of her so that she couldn't pass me. With no idea why I did it, I was left with her glaring at me and trying to figure out myself what to do with the drunkard.

"Why didn't you call the police?"

"Because you're here." Kuroba's mother crossed her arms in front of her chest, her eyes traveling to her son in worry. "Kaito told me that they can't know that you're here. It would implicate too many people."

I should have come to that conclusion myself. If I was supposedly in Kid's company after the disasters of tonight, then that would be very hard to explain why I was with Kuroba, not Kid, and this older man who's place of business we were currently residing at. Kuroba may be able to procured some excuse or another, but his older friend would have no such luck.

"The young master will be fine. Please, get back inside before anyone sees you."

I thought of complying with the request. I did owe the man more than I could ever hope to repay, but retreating was not something I took with grace. I was no idiot either. Kuroba was doing a fine job of dancing around the drunk, but he never got far enough to be out of his range. I couldn't tell what he was aiming to do, but Kuroba wasn't running away. Curiosity does not effect me the way it does others. If it did, I wouldn't have spent my whole life trying to become a detective because, Kami knows, it was not in respect of my father. Maybe witnessing the way he worked was what pushed me so hard to prove that there was someone out there who wouldn't bury the truth. Detectives were independent. My father was nothing more than a dog on a leash, told when to sit and stand on command. No, there was no way that I could have been moved.

One swing with Kuroba to close broke the bottle. The magician retreated, nursing his arm while the man advanced on him.

"Inside. Now."

With pure force the older man pushed me back, sending a spike of pain through my body when it moved injured muscles. Additionally, this also shoved Kuroba's mother in before he closed and locked the door. My own movements mixed with Kuroba's or unnatural power the teen seemed to possess, and Kuroba vanished. He was simply gone. The door closed before I could watch the man could shake off his stupor enough to realize his prey was gone.

It wasn't the movement but the crunch of glass that had my attention shift to the other side of the room. Kuroba was there. How he'd gotten in the small window with such speed and ease was astounding. His eyes were set, watching outside as he nearly merged into the connecting wall. There was no need to ask for silence. We all could hear the man outside, cursing and trying to figure out what had happened. I saw his shadow flash across the window before he settled down, muttering about a dream.

"Young Master, are you alright?"

"I'm fine." Kuroba walked over, shaking his head. "I hate people like that. Sorry Jii-chan, I didn't know he was there until he broke the window."

"It's not your fault, and I see you got what you were after."

Kuroba raise something square and black into the darkness of the room, grinning. "Of course I did."

I stopped myself from asking what it was, searching the ill-light instead for my answer. The unalike way that the two pieces of material met, along with the clasp that glisten off of the small glare from the other room let me identify it as a wallet.

"You robbed the man for breaking the window?"

Kuroba raised an eyebrow, smiling at me. Instead of giving off the appearance of what else did you think I would do? his skeptic expression expressed, you think I did what? instead.

"No." Kuroba didn't explain, going over to his mother. "I'll be back later. I won't be home after school though."

"I'll see you when you get back then. Go to sleep, Kaito." She ruffled Kuroba's hair and then shoved him away from her. "You're getting sloppy."

"Thanks Mom." He grinned at her, turning back to me and the old man. "I'm sorry, Jii-chan."

"It's fine." The older man sighed. "I'll go get my supplies. Go to the bathroom."

Kuroba slipped the wallet into his own pocket as he went past me while the old man went to a back room. Of the two, Kuroba was the one I was more interested in, so I accompanied him.

The fluorescent lights of the bathroom flicker on, blinding me. Kuroba sat on the toilet seat and closed his eyes briefly against the light so they could adjust as well. I was going to proceed with my questions about the theft of the man's property. Before I got the chance, a thick streak of blood across the floor, leading towards Kuroba, distracted me.

Kuroba raised an eyebrow again at my look, this time tired.

"Cut myself on the way in. It just got my leg. It's nothing big."

Seeing the same pain and tiredness on someone else reminded me of my own. The adrenaline was long gone and, ignoring my reservations, I sat with my back against the tub so that I had something to lean against.

"Kuroba-kun, I'm to tired to think on it. Explain."

"I'm to tired to explain. Think."

I looked up at him, that stupid annoying grin on his face and all the energy of the world behind it. I looked down again and shook my head, scooting closer to the wall so that I could rest my head.

"Not in the mood for games, huh?" Kuroba kicked me with is leg that wasn't bleeding. I couldn't see the other one and I didn't have enough energy to move. "Fine then, but I'm only explaining this." Kuroba flashed the wallet and then it was gone again in a twirl of his fingers.

"That's a start."

"It's stolen. Even Mom could tell. I'm going to bring it to Nakamori-ojisan in the morning."

"You could tell it was stolen?"

"You couldn't?"

I laughed quietly. I had a feeling that it hadn't been in the possession of its owner, but no proof. I couldn't have done anything if I'd run into the man normally. Kuroba had done what I couldn't and with the best results. "Touché, though the irony in that is astounding."

Kuroba grinned, pleased with himself. "A third of the things I steal are already stollen, or ill-gained."

"Enough of your phenomenally mixed up, yet completely rational logic. What happened tonight?"

"I can't tell you anything else. Jii-chan is right, it will put you in danger."

"I don't care. I'm already in danger."

"It will put you in more danger. Knowing who I am puts you in danger. Chasing me puts you in danger. Being so nosy puts you in danger. Hell, you're living danger and you don't even know it." Kuroba grew quiet. "I don't want to add to it."

I didn't know what to say to that so I replaced it with a question I never thought I would ask him aloud. "Have you ever done anything that hurt someone?"

Kuroba tilted his head. Yes, he was like a puppy. A puppy who would chew on your socks until they had holes in them because it was fun. It didn't really hurt you and it made him happy, so you forgave him.

"I would like to think that I haven't. Why?"

"I just wanted to know." Though your expression was enough to tell me as much. "How can you keep going on like you do?"

Kuroba laughed quietly. "I guess I can answer these types of questions, but don't expect details. Have you ever had something that was so important to and then lost it because someone stole it from you? Probably not, but you can imagine it, right? Well, something like that happened to me. I went to get it back. Well, I went to get something back, but it's not really want I want. It's kinda more like something that needs to be taken. On the way, I noticed that other people were after the same thing I was. But they weren't so nice about it. So I make sure that I am. As long as I'm there, people won't get hurt, and they won't get scared. So I can keep doing it, because without me, I'm not so sure those people would still be here today."

I shook my head. "I'm very confused already. You're afraid people will die if you don't steal something?"

"Yes." Kuroba's eyes danced as he moved his gaze from mine to the door where I could hear the old man's approaching footsteps.

I closed my eyes, letting myself relax against the wall. It was cool to the touch and felt good where my exposed skin came in contact with it. "You really won't tell me anything important? I'm going to be as good as walking around blind and in danger from these people who tried to kill me tonight?"

"I can't help that, only you can. And I doubt you'll quit like any sane person would do."

"No, and who are you considering less than sane, Kid?" I couldn't see him but I could guess he was smiling and I obliged. "Not anymore than you can." I made a decision then, that I'd been warring with myself over with since I'm come to the conclusion that I'd been living in a fairy tale as much as Kuroba pretended he was. Ignorance was no excuse for your actions. "You know, I've been lying to the police."

"I know." Kuroba's voice sounded depressed, but what I was doing didn't overly bother me like it had before. They couldn't prove I was lying and, as long as I watched what actions I took, I wouldn't commit any crimes that weren't necessary. If I couldn't watch myself, I would hope Kuroba would be there to do it for me. Maybe I could do it for him as well and we could keep each other in check. Criminals. Concerned citizens. Vigilantes. We were none of the above, though I'm sure a label would fit in someone else's mind. In mine, were were just people.

"I'm sure that if I can manage to break my principles long enough to lie to them, I could assist you, should the police come up with any inventive ways to catch you if you cannot avoid them."

"I can't ask that." Disapproval is one of the feelings that is expressed through more than an expression, so it was easy to pick up on through closed eyes. "Please, try and stay away from me."

"Won't happen." I felt sleep coming on and there was nothing to counteract it with. "I'm a detective and I need a reason for not going after a mystery. As long as I can help, in the little ways, I'll be fine with that. For now at least."

"Fine." Cheekiness was also something that didn't need to be seen. "Let's see how long you can keep that up."