Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK


Midnight White

35: Tactics

The first step, everyone had agreed, was to find the kidnapped citizens and locate the hypnotist and his allies. Hakuba, with his new language skills, had been placed in charge of trying to locate Imazaki himself. They had reasoned that they knew there were people looking for them and these people had to report back to the man at some point. Therefore if they could find at least one, preferably more, of the searchers then they could follow them to the man himself. Or at least to some kind of headquarters. For the task he had been assigned about two dozen helpers—all of them small, feathery, and beady-eyed.

"You better be nice to them or they have permission to peck you," the thief had cheerfully informed him before his expression turned deadly serious. "And then they'll come tell me and you'll wish they were still at it."

"I know how to treat animals," he'd snapped, but now he had to admit, if only to himself, that KID's doves were… He wasn't sure how to put it, except maybe 'mindboggling'.

The thief had told him they knew what they were supposed to do. All Hakuba had to do was tell them where to look and organize the information they brought back. Therefore the blonde had brought a map of the city into the room where the doves were lined up on the various pieces of furniture, waiting. It was one of the few upstairs rooms with a window facing away from the main street.

/Oh no, it's the weird one,/ was the first thing he heard upon walking into the room.

The dove next to the speaker nudged it. /Be nice. He can't help how he was made./

This, the blond detective thought with a grimace, was going to be an awkward day. He wondered briefly if Kuroba had trained his doves to behave like this, but no, there was no way for him to. After all, he couldn't understand what they were saying. Still…something must have rubbed off. He knew for a fact normal birds didn't act like this.

Downstairs at the tables in the bowling alley, Yamada was introducing a boy and a girl who shared a remarkable resemblance to each other to Shinichi, Hattori, and Mia. The three had been placed in charge of what Hattori laughingly called 'battle plans'. Granted, the name was probably much more accurate than any of them would like to think.

"This is my friend Oguro Akira and his twin sister Mina. They weren't at the museum, but I was telling them about some of the people we might be running into and they had some ideas I thought you might want to hear."

"Well, the more the merrier," Mia replied with a sardonic smile and a shrug. "Take a seat."

"So we were thinking about the people we know are in that hypnotist guy's army—"

"Wait, wait, army?" Hattori sputtered.

"Well, yeah, isn't that what they are? Anyway, we believe that our main obstacles if we want to corner and take out the boss—I mean Imazaki—would be the girl who can teleport and that guy who runs really fast," Ogura Akira began, eyes bright with a kind of barely contained excitement mixed with a dash of focused determination. "The first would make it much too easy for them to run even if we covered all the escape routes and the second can do a lot before we even realized he was there."

"Well actually Mitsuki-san is fast, but he can't keep it up for long periods at a time."

"Really? How do you know that?" Hattori asked in surprise.

For some reason the question made Shinichi grimace. "He told me in between asking me about one of my cases and telling me about the case he was writing that was inspired by it."

"That's good then," Mina announced, mirroring her brother's enthusiasm. "What we need to do first is catch the teleporter and find a way to keep her here. So what we thought was that…"

In the kitchen, Kimura stared across the table at the master thief Kaitou KID. The same man he and his fellow task force officers had been trying and failing to put behind bars for years. Fate certainly had a twisted sense of humor.

"Kimura-san, I get the distinct impression that you are not listening to what I am saying," the thief admonished, sounding like an adult scolding an inattentive child.

A moment later a thunk echoed through the kitchen. KID gazed across the table at the officer with a bemused expression as the man's forehead hit the table. That was… Frankly, what it was was funny, but it would make their job a lot harder if the man couldn't pull himself together. Of course he could do the job himself, but Shinichi had been right when he'd said that it would be a lot faster with Kimura's particular abilities.

"Kimura-san?" he prodded again.

With a visible effort, the policeman sat back up and straightened his shoulders. "I—I'm sorry. I… So, we will be going to each of these structures that you and Kudo-kun believe the citizens are most likely to be held in."

"Exactly. Don't worry about the getting there, I'll handle that. But once we reach each place, it'll be your job to take a quick look around and see if it's a hit or miss."

"Right, right… Um, so…when are we supposed to do this…?"

The thief grinned and the policeman fought the urge to turn around and dive for cover. "Technically, we were supposed to have left five minutes ago, but since it's five minutes too late for that we'll be leaving now."

X

"Saguru?"

The British detective looked up from his now considerably marked up map at the sound of his name to see Aoko standing by his table. He hadn't even heard her come in. She was wearing a slight frown as she studied him for several seconds before setting the tray she'd brought with her on the table beside the map.

"You didn't come down for lunch so I brought your share up instead. It's not as hot as it would've been but it's still warm—or it will be if you eat now," she added, giving him a pointed look. "Ran made it. It's very good."

Hakuba glanced towards the window, saw that the sill was deserted, and set his pen across the map. "Thank you. I apologize for missing lunch. I—lost track of time."

She laughed at that. "I can't remember the last time you did that."

He coughed lightly, obviously embarrassed. The ability to never lose track of time was one thing he had always been immensely proud of.

"It's all right, you know," the brunette said. Picking up the small teapot on the tray, she poured him a cup before taking one herself and pulling up an empty chair. "We all have a lot on our minds. I'm just glad we can start doing something." She glanced down at the map spread out on the table. There were arrows and circles and tiny blocks of notes all over it. An open notebook lay on its other side, also full of the blonde's neat handwriting. "Have you made any progress?"

"Some, but not as much as I would have liked," he replied honestly as he picked up his fork and began to eat the pasta she had brought for him. "How are the others?"

"Kazuha-chan's organized another tournament. I think it's been a great help for keeping people's minds off things. The strategy meeting seemed like it was going pretty well, though it sounds kind of funny—like some kind of chess game gone mad."

Hakuba chuckled. "In a way, perhaps it is. Has there been any news from Kuroba?"

Aoko froze for a moment before she shook her head. Seeing it, Hakuba frowned, feeling a touch of guilt at having asked. He'd been trying to prove he was right about Kuroba being KID for so long that it hadn't crossed his mind to think of how Aoko might be affected by the news. It was stupid of him to not have thought of it. It was just that, well, she'd never believed his claims and maybe he'd been kind of frustrated that she'd never believed him on that count. But that didn't excuse his thoughtlessness. It was, however, to late to retract or rephrase the question.

"Ka—KID and Kimura-san are still out." She just couldn't bring herself to call him by name when he was in that outfit. It made her feel bad though. She didn't want to think of him differently. He would always be her childhood friend—that silly magician who could always make her laugh. This…discovery couldn't change that—she wouldn't let it. With everything that had happened lately, the thought of losing another friend was just… Well, it just wasn't worth it. That wasn't to say that it didn't upset her—and really she felt she had every right to be mad—but…well, the past was the past, it couldn't be changed, but the future could and that should be what was important. She didn't know what that meant for when this was over (would he stop stealing if she asked him to?), but the one blessing of the situation was that she didn't have to think about it now. "Um, there's a bird on the windowsill. I think it's watching you."

The blonde followed her gaze to see that there was indeed a dove sitting on the windowsill.

/Don't mind me,/ it assured him when it saw him looking in its direction. /It is only proper to take some time out of the day to spend with your mate. I can wait./

Aoko felt her eyebrows rise as she watched Saguru's face turn red. The color was accompanied by the strangest expression she had ever seen on his face. "What did it say?"

"Nothing! I mean, it was just…a—a bird thing."

"…A bird thing."

"It's… They use these terms—or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that whatever part of my brain interprets their speech interprets many of the terms they use differently. From the ones that humans would use, I mean."

"Yeah?" She leaned forward, intrigued. "Like what?"

"Well… One of them referred to children as chicks."

Aoko blinked then laughed. "I guess I should let you two talk then. I'll take these dishes back down to the kitchen."

X

"Honey, I'm home~."

Shinichi was rather proud of himself for not jumping out of his skin at the voice singing out right into his ear. He didn't manage to stop the color from rising in his face however when he turned around to all but bump noses with the magician. "Do you really have to keep sneaking up on me?"

"Of course. I am a thief after all." Said thief ducked his head to steal a quick kiss from the smaller boy before stepping back to drop a smoke bomb and 'transform' KID's white uniform into a set of casual clothes. Seeing Shinichi blush went a long way in lifting his spirits from where they had been somewhat weighed down by a day full of empty buildings. "So did you miss me?"

"You've only been gone for a day Kaito."

"Doesn't mean I can't ask, right?" The magician flopped on the couch that had served as their bed for the past few nights, dragging Shinichi down onto his lap. "I hope your day was better than mine."

Shinichi gave up on trying to wiggle out of Kaito's grasp and frowned. "Was it that bad?"

"Well, no, not really," Kaito admitted after a moment's thought. "It's just that I'd hoped for better results. We didn't get as far as I'd planned either. It was kind of funny how Kimura-san twitched every time I moved and jumped whenever I said something, but it's difficult to get things done with any kind of speed when every time you tell your coworker to do something he gives you a suspicious look and asks you why."

"Maybe I should talk to him."

"No, that's okay. He was getting better by the end of today's round. Besides," he added, smirking into his partner's hair. "Watching him twitch does add a dash of humor to what would otherwise be a tedious task."

Shinichi just shook his head. "Yes, well, you should probably keep that piece of information to yourself. I don't think Kimura-san would appreciate it. So have you had anything to eat yet?"

"We helped ourselves to some goods from a bakery we passed. I brought some back with us. No point letting it go to waste after all." Unwrapping an arm from around Shinichi, Kaito waved at the table. There was a flash of light and a small cake appeared alongside of two paper plates, a knife, and a pair of forks. "We also picked up a few other supplies—toiletries and that kind of thing."

"And Kimura-san was okay with it?" Shinichi asked, curious.

"I wouldn't say he was ecstatic, but he understands the necessities of our situation. I do think I saw him leaving them his number."

"You know," the detective began, hand rising reflexively to his chin. "Imazaki-san has to be feeding his captives. None of the shops around here have been looted yet, but it's been a few days so they have to be getting food from somewhere. Of course he could just order the owners to hand stuff over—" The rest of his words came out as a series of muffled, incoherent noises due to the hand that had clamped itself over his mouth. He turned his head in an attempt to dislodge the hand. Failing that, he turned a glare on its owner.

His glare was met by the magician's own determined look. "I've been working all day, you've been working all day," he stated in a tone that forbad argument. "We, therefore, are taking a break. I'm going to let you go know, but when you open your mouth I expect it to be telling me whether you'd like the slice of cake with the strawberries or the one with the peaches. Agreed? Good."

TBC


A.N: And the doves return! Hehe. And the final confrontation is about to commence. ^_^ See you next time!