Tea, Anyone?

Disclaimer: Nothing belonging to me excepting the plot bunny. My own fault if I let it go free in my own living room…

My advice: Dear reader, this story is kind of a funny plot bunny that has grown and grown inside my head until I finally let it loose on my computer's word program. Thusly, you might want to make yourself a nicely steaming cup of tea, grab some sweet chocolate cookies, lean back and get comfortable in your chair, just to put yourself into the right mood for reading this little ficlet... :_D

Additional information: As an inspiration for the implementation of this rather… unorthodox… idea the following video has helped me a lot:

http: slash slash www dot youtube dot com slash watch?v=rrXnPaY4OQA

(just fill in the blanks yourself, please. Ffdotnet doesn't let me post the link otherwise.)

I hope you enjoy this first installment of my newest plot bunny's story!

Have fun!

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Kyû/Ku/9

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"Why, I'm having tea. Would you like some, too?" He was sitting in front of a table, having just extended his right hand that was holding his own slightly steaming tea cup towards the person in front of him. It obviously was a man, but more than that he could not make out. Somehow the light exuding from that person cancelled out his vision. Had it been a woman, he knew he'd have stood up already. Why was he sitting in his seat, still? This wasn't showing off his good manners, at all.

As a proper host, he was supposed to stand up to show the other man that he respected him. But once that thought had formed in his head, he realized that he simply wasn't able to lift his body up from the chair. Why couldn't he stand up?

The other person came closer – still the facial features and general body outline were obscured, were indeed growing more and more blurry around the edges the more focused he tried to see who it was that was standing right in front of him.

And then, all of a sudden nothing seemed to make sense any more, as the other person let themselves gracefully down into the chair opposite his own (where had the second chair come from?) and took on the form of one well-known Kaitô Kid, costume, monocle and hat. But he knew already that his classmate, Kuroba Kaito, was Kid. So why was Kaitô Kid, in full costume, sitting in front of him? It should be his classmate, instead!

And yet, the other featured a different face entirely when he looked up at him. This Kaitô Kid looked… older, somewhat more… adult-like, as though it was a grown-up version of the magician-part-time- class-clown, only with a moustache. Why was he wearing a moustache? That was what struck Hakuba as really odd and it got his brain going. Finally, one rather essential question appeared on the forefront of his mind. Namely: What was the detective doing there in the first place? He couldn't remember his walk, nor could he remember his arrival on that rooftop. The draft and the view most certainly helped making sure of that little tidbit of useless information. In the end, he was still left wondering wherever that rooftop was located in the first place.

What came next baffled the sleuth. The other opened his mouth and spoke. However, it wasn't Kid's suave "working voice" – nor was it Kaito's playful tones that came out of that mouth. It was someone else's voice entirely. This was decidedly surreal, and at the same time rather frightening to the detective. What he said sent especially shivers down the Hakuba heir's spine despite its seeming ridiculousness.

"You might want to add cookies in there – wouldn't want the tea to become too bereft of sugary components, would we now? Additionally, you might want to invent more creative ways to keep the crows away from the cookies – maybe one of them you can allow to come closer, but you can never be so sure about that now, can you? After all, crows like to steal." A brief pause followed this statement as the man lifted his eyes off the tea cup in front of him to look at Hakuba meaningfully.

"And what they steal, they never give back. My advice to you: be wary around them." The older man looked him straight into the eyes as he said that, staring right into his very soul, as though it lay bare before him just like a book to be read at his earliest convenience.

Next, Hakuba felt a rising heat surround him, he felt something encircle his body so he couldn't breathe any more, and he needed air, needed to breathe, it was vital, there was some vertigo and what was going –

A loud thump marked his body meeting the ground after he fell out of bed one sunny weekday morning in early autumn, a few minutes before his alarm clock rang.

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A few weeks later, his whole behavior at the Kid heists had changed.

To be fair, it had only been an innocent sentence that had started off the strange new attitude in the self-proclaimed Kaitô Kid expert and future capturer, having been uttered by a person completely unrelated to the thief or his heists in any matter at all, except for having her son participate in the creative wild-goose chases that the police put up every time the thief appeared on the scene.

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"Well, he sounds just like a real gentleman, from what I've heard. Why don't you invite him for tea?"

At first, he could not help but immediately protest that unwanted description of the annoying cat burglar by the person on the other end of the line. "Mother! This is an internationally wanted criminal that you are talking about! One cannot simply invite him over for tea…" He trailed off pensively, his brain shifting into gear, having just been hit by an inspiration and a decisive déjà-vu.

In the following silence, his mother's remark went almost unheard by her son, "Oh my. I guess I might have just given you an idea, have I now? What a pity. I really hoped we could talk more this time around, but I think I'll leave you to your wool-gathering for now. I will, however, call you again this coming weekend, so do schedule so that you can spare me some time then, or I will be most displeased with you, do you understand? Goodbye." With a clack, she ended the call.

Hakuba's mind, on the other hand, was too preoccupied by the thoughts that were chasing one another at the speed of lightning in his head, so he did not immediately put the phone back down but stood listening to the beeping of the dead line for a few more moments.

The thief wasn't caught yet – why? Because he was able to outwit the police force. In other words, the thief could follow their train of thought and preempt any strikes and actions that could put a) his plans and/or b) his freedom in jeopardy. Usually the larcenist would predict fairly accurately or somehow find out beforehand what the police was about to do in order to catch him. It was eerie how he was able to do so without them being any the wiser. Oftentimes he would then somehow simply turn the police's trap against them and escape. This endeavor was also helped greatly by the thief's talent for improvising on the spot.

So, in order to: maybe at first not catch, but rather lure the thief into the trap, you had to try and understand his way of thinking. It was a rather daunting and more than slightly dubious achievement. Hakuba could already feel the headache coming his way.

Nevertheless, it was a sound plan, if you asked him. The sleuth had already made the concession to himself to hear the midnight magician out before deciding upon a course of action. He'd been at it for too long already to still believe the thief was starving for the attention he got at his heists. The heists, after all, were nothing if not attention-grabbing. Nevertheless, the moonlighting magician returned every single gem that he got his hands on. He could have been filthy rich by now, but chose not to be. Hakuba wanted to know why.

Thus, offering tea (and cookies) and inviting the lawbreaker to sit with him really didn't appear absurd to the detective's mind at all, if one took into account just what the other put his chasers through during each and every heist without fail. Indeed, it seemed like a good way to throw the other for a loop for once. At least for the first few seconds.

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Grimacing, the detective had to admit that the other was a master when it came to taking things in stride. Only those first few seconds he was able to see surprise in those unfathomable eyes. To think that it had taken him nine tries to finally encounter the thieving man, it was quite ridiculous that he only wanted to offer him tea instead of cuffing and arresting him.

He'd bought another (breakable) tea set – together with a travelling bag and a foldable mini-table and two chairs – on the first occasion that presented itself. The only thing he had to do then was figure out where the most probable routes leading the thief towards and away from the targets at his heists would most likely end up being. That, quite frankly, had proven to be the trickiest part so far. Snorting depreciatingly to himself, he was most decidedly sure of the fact that – was it not for the thief's innate curiosity – he would not even have met the other on that ninth night that he spent waiting out on an anonymous rooftop a fair distance away from a certain jewelry gallery, the heist location of the latest heist.

As it was, however, the thief had deemed him a formerly-chasing-now-curious entity, comparable to a train that had apparently switched tracks. All in all, he must have observed and followed Hakuba's seemingly-impromptu little tea sessions and supposed that it was worth a shot asking the sleuth just what the heck he thought he was doing sitting there calmly sipping his tea when he could be one of the many other people chasing after him.

So it came that on the ninth night after he'd started up his new routine that the thief had finally appeared on the scene and spoken to him, one eyebrow raised in bemused contemplation of what was right in front of him.

"My, my, tantei-san. Expecting someone special?"

The sleuth did not deign that with a response. The resulting silence was, of course, immediately noticed and interpreted by the other.

"Or, would it rather be me whom you were expecting to show up? What a warm welcome to tonight's heist!" It almost seemed as though he were putting invisible cream on the pronoun when he spoke; as if it were a beloved pet that he was talking about instead of himself. Right. Arrogance, check. Or would that rather be categorized as self-confidence? Whichever it was, the thief obviously had it aplenty. Not that that was anything new.

With a grand hand movement, he bowed once to the detective, and then, with a mischievous glimmer in his eyes telling the thief the famous words "catch me if you can" in that one look, he got back up and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

The sleuth now had a decision to make. He could follow the thief (and make a good clown out of himself in the process) or he could simply sit there and wait for the moonlighting magician to come back (because he already had a feeling that the ledgerdemainist would be back once the heist was over). In the end it was an easy decision to make, he supposed, as he added another sugar cube to his newly-filled cup of tea.

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About two hours later, he was still on that same rooftop, sipping tea and eating cookies. He was glad to have had a few runs of this before he'd met the thief (or rather before the thief had let himself be seen and interacted with), or he would have already run out of cookies and tea. Seeing as he had had those few "trial runs" before, he had had a few things to add and a few more important things to consider and keep in mind (such as easy access to the toilet, for example. That had not been a fun trial run) before he could safely say that he was completely prepared for meeting the thief.

The last few meetings had been kind of boring, nevertheless.

So it was still with quite a bit of surprise that he managed to only just not let his face show that he realized that the thief had indeed come back.

"Pray tell, what exactly do you want to accomplish with this?" It was all about pronouns nowadays, wasn't it? The thief didn't even have to move a finger and yet his speech managed to encompass all the items, the table and the chairs that Saguru had diligently arranged the evening before.

Curiosity killed the cat. He was happy that old sayings always held true in the end.

Rather fervent shouting could be heard in the distance. In such moments he was glad for his new-found habit of drinking tea on a heist; he wouldn't have to endure a Nakamori-keibu-given-speech from direct proximity. And yet, it brought out all the more laughable aspects of what he was doing, as well. Holding onto his cultivated speech by a bare thread, he managed to miraculously get out a very calmly spoken string of words that actually could be counted as a sentence, "I'm having tea, Kid-san. Would you like some too?" With a light gesture towards the second seat, he invited the thief to sit with him.

All that time, the detective sincerely hoped that the moon that was shining brightly that night would still be able to help obscure the light coloring of his cheeks when he was sitting with his back towards it. In the meantime, he absolutely tried not to think about the absurdity and ridiculousness of explaining his actions to a thief that strived to single-handedly show up reality and all the laws of physics at the same time. He marveled at having gotten out a whole sentence without either coughing embarrassedly or dissolving into insane giggles.

If he'd looked at the situation at hand from a safe distance, he would have admitted that he'd never before managed to talk to the thief like this before. Thus, it could in all honesty be booked as a small victory already. Yet, he didn't, and so it was decidedly difficult for Hakuba to keep a straight face.

Gulping all the excited bubbly feelings down, he instead concentrated on the conversation. The thief had asked him something, after all.

"Isn't it rather obvious what I am doing here? Why, I'm having tea. Would you like some, too?" Hakuba felt as though he had experienced this conversation somewhere before… ah yes, that dream. An absolute déjà-vu, this scene. Another shiver went down the sleuth's body. Please, don't say anything about cookies, please –

"Why?" A frown marred the thief's face. A rather youthful face. Without a moustache, thankfully.

He closed his eyes, grateful for the similarities between reality and that weird dream to have ended there. With a slight smile playing on his lips, the detective answered, having all the time in the world at his hands to do so as long as the thief decided to stay.

"I wanted to have tea. Contrary to popular belief, I do not particularly care for being an active participator in the wild goose chases you inspire in the members of the Kaitô Kid Task Force, so I thought about other ways we could meet."

A raised eyebrow over the one visible eye marked the disbelief that was plain to hear in the larcenist's voice. "And you immediately thought having a tea party was the best course of action. Seeing as how I never actually showed any interest in tea at all before, it might just be one of my favorite things to do once I shed the mask."

Blood was returning to his cheeks. Right. Bad plan, but nevertheless, it seemed to have worked – at least for now. They were talking, after all, instead of shouting at one another and/or running around. He coughed once to clear his throat and get his voice working (and to ensure it would not hitch or change at inopportune moments). Shrugging, Hakuba informed the thief in a matter-of-fact kind of voice of current the state of things.

"Well, I admit that this was a setting that I had not envisioned myself in before I was given inspiration to do so. But it certainly helped my case, didn't it?" Fixating the thief with a sharp look, the detective went on bravely.

"Now, if you would sit down? It's disrespectful towards my person to keep standing, don't you think?"

"No, I do not think I care for having tea at such a late hour." The moonlight magician lifted one hand to the brim of his hat and pulled it down a little so that the shadow fully covered his face, only barely leaving the reflection of the light that was coming from all around them to shimmer off the monocle. The grin was nondescript, though the law-abiding teenager thought he could detect a certain soberness and seriousness in it that simply did not suit the thief. There and gone again.

"I advise you too to consider returning home sometime soon, tantei-san. After all, it wouldn't do for someone with such high standing as you to be accused of trespassing now, would it?" The familiar mocking form of the unorthodox thief was standing there in front of him once more, before – a rather out-of-place, calmly spoken "See you next time, tantei-san." accompanying a flash! (Obviously one of his more silent smoke bombs) – his conversational partner deserted the place.

It was this quickly that he found himself alone again on the empty rooftop in the middle of the night.

Allowing himself to outright grin now, the Hakuba heir was sure that even if he didn't have the thief's trust, for now he had an admittedly decidedly doubtful way of ensuring they would meet; and it didn't even include those useless chases, either! That was one thing he would be happy to scratch off his list of things-to-do-at-a-Kid-heist. Not that he didn't like working out every now and then, but to senselessly chase after a thief that might not even be right in front of him anymore? No thank you. He knew better pastimes and hobbies he could take up if he happened to have too much time on his hands.

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Roku/6

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It wasn't until the next meeting that Hakuba was sure that their last had not been – as his mind had so helpfully suggested to him immediately afterwards – a dream, an illusion, a trick of the eyes, wishful thinking or anything the like. He'd looked into the mirror at about four o'clock in the morning that day (or night), and made himself doubt what he'd experienced barely an hour or two before. After all, it hadn't been all too likely for the thief to really take an interest in what one of his chasers been up to during the heists of his.

Hakuba was a detective, for crying out loud. He was supposed to chase the thief, arrest him and put him behind bars (not that knowing that had helped him in the past), not have tea while other people were doing the chasing, the shouting and the falling-for-traps for a change. Surrealism doesn't even begin to cover the situation.

Instead, when he found himself once more on a rooftop, glad to have opted for a cheap foldable table and matching chairs instead of heavier variants, sitting comfortably in front of yet another cup of tea, this time with a little bit of honey and sugar added. The last meeting had been a little too reminiscent of the dream he'd had (could it be called a nightmare? He wasn't sure about that), so he'd decided to add a little more sugar to his tea. Should any ravens come, well, he'd brought a flyswatter with him this time. Not that he felt any more ridiculous with it, not at all. It was just a precaution, a sensible precaution against… oh, who was he kidding? This was a set-up more ridiculous than anything he'd ever done before.

And yet, it seemed to be working. For standing right in front of his very eyes once more, was the thief clad in white that he'd already tried so much to trap.

"Having tea again? Isn't it a little late for that?"

Incredulous to have been spoken to once more by the unique larcenist, though trying not to let it show, the detective looked the magician over. Yes, it was late. The heist had ended just about half an hour ago – he'd heard it over the walkie-talkie that all members of the Kaitô Kid Task Force were supposed to bring to any and all heists and that he still possessed. The Task Force members still used it to stay apprised of any news regardless of whether the thief could hack it or not. Without it, his late-night tea sessions would have been so much more boring. A little disgruntled at his own forgetfulness, he still remembered the one time that he had indeed forgotten to bring it. It had not been a nice night – especially not since the thief hadn't deigned him with his presence yet.

And he still had to answer him, too. Deciding to be frank, he told the thief, "Well, I didn't know whether our last meeting was my imagination running wild or not. I had to make sure you were real, didn't I?" Right. In retrospect, it seemed it was more likely that reindeers could fly than that the thief wasn't real. But, well, with someone like that, you simply couldn't ever know for certain, could you? Suddenly, the detective had no idea whatsoever just what he wanted to make sure of any more.

"I am real, tantei-san. As surreal as it may appear, our last meeting did, in fact, happen. Though I am still unsure about just who it is that others might call insane now, in a choice between the two of us."

Letting out a short, barking laugh, the Hakuba offspring conceded the point. So what, he might have gone mad by association. The thief couldn't be called normal by any standards that existed, be it rational ones or not.

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CHANGE TO KAITO KUROBA'S POV

The thief had quirked a smile at the uncommon humor in the blond. Who'd have known? There obviously was hope for the detective, still. Now he wasn't just one of the chasers. The detective's status in the thief's mind's eye had changed from an interesting challenge and occasional verbal sparring partner to an intriguing human being that had to be dissected and new parts of whom apparently still had to be discovered. Nothing the challenge-happy magician wouldn't enjoy tackling.

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He'd originally only started talking to him because he'd wanted to know just why the detective would decide to camp out on a rooftop somewhere (sometimes closer to his escape routes, sometimes farther away) in the middle of a heist night when he could be one of the people trying to arrest him, instead.

The second time that had found him in front of said tea-drinking detective was, admittedly, because of a far more sobering reason. The thief's first rule about people did include that nobody got randomly shot at during one of his heists. Especially not by people in trench coats who just so happened to attend some of his heists.

With the main action over for tonight, the amateur magician had wanted to check up on the blond teenager and see for himself whether or not he'd made it out unscathed. Fortunately Kaito had found his chosen spot this time before the heist already, so he had been able to keep tabs on him and lead any and all hitmen away from rather than towards it (at least he hoped to have done so), but he still yearned to ensure the detective's continued life personally.

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And that was exactly what had found him there once more, standing in front of the detective and a little bit unsure about how to proceed. For his defense, it was a rather extraordinary arrangement that the detective had managed to prepare. Extraordinary circumstances called for extraordinary handling. Now, if only he could make his mind up whether he wanted to go on with caution or plunge right in.

… Was this… strange meeting on middle ground … considered a truce, then? That was probably one of the first things he'd have to clear up before anything else could take place. So he continued speaking before the detective thought of something else to say.

"What kind of tea do you have?" Well, he could still ask after he'd gotten the "basics" out of the way. And it might just be considered rude to talk about "working matters" before doing small talk.

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CHANGE BACK TO HAKUBA SAGURU'S POV

After the magician dressed in white had left, the detective was honestly surprised at how well the meeting had gone. The thief clearly was less than comfortable extending his trust to the sleuth, but what is not now, could still well be after a few more meetings like these. Hakuba had not missed, nevertheless, the way the thief had addressed their "tea sessions" as a kind of "middle ground," nor had he missed the sense of warning that the kaitô had conveyed in the words he'd spoken. Apparently he was wary, on his guard – about what, though?

It wasn't the "The Task Force might not be too agreeable to your frequent tea parties with an internationally wanted criminal and might kick you out if not arrest you for aiding and abetting a wanted felon" – kind of warning, that much was for certain. It did seem more… urgent; more deadly, if this ridiculous thing could be said for the thief's words.

Also, in the same words, an altogether different meaning was hidden, as well. In the detective's ears, it had come down to something like

"A truce, detective?" (Here, he imagined the mad hatter from Wonderland, all clad in Kid's costume and with that infuriating grin in place, asking this question while extending a hand towards the detective, against all conventions and reason.)

Thus, the "middle-ground" had been formed, with its very own rules in place – obviously rather different ones from those that were valid on a heist. Unfortunately, the detective still had no idea what those "rules" consisted of. A truce, yes, but at what price?

Pensively Saguru regarded the tea set. Still, only one cup had been touched and drunk from. The cookies hadn't been touched by the other teenager, either. Sighing, the teenager picked up the cup, drank the rest of the already-cooled down tea and got up. It didn't do to dawdle.

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Four meetings later, the detective was still left wondering why the thief even bothered with coming to the tea sessions he'd prepared. It was obvious – to both parties – that, had he not "let himself be met," the detective most probably never would have met him at those and would have been left drinking his tea all by himself. As it was, the detective still drunk the tea by himself, but the thief had at least deigned to come a little closer to the prepared table every time.

It almost seemed as though Hakuba had set out to tame a wild animal. Quite frankly, though, the detective had to admit, it certainly felt like it. Kid wouldn't be someone who was persuaded to do anything by anyone. If he didn't want to do something, good luck trying to make him do it. So it was no wonder that the thief had only scurried closer bit by bit all those meetings.

On the fifth meeting after the thief had shown his face for the first time at those little get-togethers of theirs, the moonlighting magician had finally sat down in the chair Hakuba had prepared especially for him. Saguru felt like he'd made significant progress, too, so it was no little wonder that a bubbly feeling enveloped him and he was on the verge of giggling once more. Not that the Hakuba heir would do anything that undignified, ever.

Instead, he settled for the question that he'd found himself asking the most often at the beginnings of their meetings.

"How was the heist?"

He didn't really expect anything in answer to that; it was just an opener for small talk after all. So he was all the more surprised when the thief, instead of saying anything in response, ventured closer to the table and slowly let himself sink down in the prepared chair opposite the detective. Hakuba's eyes felt like they couldn't become any bigger, his mouth hanging open slightly in bafflement. Had the thief just…? Momentary silence reigned. It was so quiet on that nondescript rooftop that you could have heard a pin drop.

A smirk began spreading over the larcenist's face, before he opened his mouth and shattered the silence to pieces, "You asked me something, I believe?"

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It had been a real challenge, he mused, to keep his composure in face of having the thief extend his fragile trust to not having the detective grab him or invisible handcuffs fall down around him while he was sitting in that chair. This was progress! Hakuba had felt ridiculously similar to a psychologist in the moment that he had thought this and only just managed to suppress the insane urge to start giggling which would rather soon most assuredly deteriorate into laughing.

He did wonder about the thief's reasons, though. What could have made him come closer towards the tea table and simply sit down like that? That, however, wasn't as pressing a question for the detective as the following appeared to be: Was it even possible to keep one's composure in front of the Kaitô Kid, outside of a heist's settings?

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Hachi/8

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Again, he was sitting in front of a tea set, at the same foldable table and on the very same foldable chair that he'd managed to at least put a cushion on this time. He'd had time that evening to properly prepare everything once more, so he'd thought: "Why not?" If the cushion just managed to add to the hilarity of the "heist night" by way of having a flowery pattern or not, wasn't up for debate any time soon.

Hakuba felt he was entitled to some eccentricity, having met up face-to-face via tea sessions with the thief more often now than he'd met him at a heist. It was a good excuse, anyways. And, he'd officially decided to ignore the motive on the cushion, which had somehow made its way into his bag despite him having removed it several times already. He'd found out that his housekeeper had a rather stubborn streak, too, when it came to things she absolutely wanted him to do.

"How was the heist?"

Not that he expected an answer to that any more. The last few times the thief had danced around the topic; He'd switched to another subject, told the detective about the most insignificant details of things that the sleuth had never even cared to find out and all around not told him anything about what he'd asked him. Imagine his surprise and momentary loss of coherent speech when the other opted to answer him this once,

"As expected. Say, tantei-san, what would you do if you had found an immensely powerful item, something that could change everyone's lives?"

Not having anticipated this kind of answer at all (the magician still was unpredictable, dang it!), the detective's brain at first struggled a little to catch up. Thus, the only word escaping him was, "How?"

With a frown marring his face, Hakuba contemplated the information he'd just been given. The thief had found an "immensely powerful item," then? How in the world had he come about such a thing? And what goddamn idiot had told the thief just what it was that he was apparently holding in his hands? There was no telling what he'd do with it!

He knew it was rude, but he found himself still staring incredulously at the teenager opposite of him for what felt like half an eternity. The white-dressed gentleman-thief had meanwhile assumed a more and more relaxed position, juggling around a few small juggling balls with his right hand, resting the left one on the table.

It was a magician's position, the sleuth realized in the rearmost confines of his brain absentmindedly. Both hands were lying "open on the table," so to speak, facing the entertainer's audience and showing that they weren't doing anything untoward. A gesture of trust, if it could be called that. And the larcenist's posture was getting more and more lax the longer he kept staring. What that meant, the detective didn't want to find out at that very moment.

Back to the matter at hand, then. The thief had found an item that could do something as powerful as to change everyone's lives? How would it change everyone's lives? Just what item had he stumbled upon?

So … did that mean…

Hakuba had trouble getting his brain back into gear. This could very well be one of the very few moments of speechlessness that existed in the young high school detective's life; nothing for the magician to be proud of – and yet, he detected a little bit of smugness in the other's posture, too. Before the thief could comment on this, the sleuth decided to reboot his thinking facilities and answer the larcenist's question. More or less, at least.

"I would… I do not know what I would do with such a… an item. I only know that it should most definitely not get into the wrong hands." With that, he regaled the thief with a meaningful look that was to impart on him all the seriousness of what the possession of this… doubtlessly questionable "treasure"… entailed. If such a thing even existed in the first place. Which was, he was reassured to notice, quite unlikely. Nevertheless, the thief seemed to think it existed. Otherwise: why would he ask such a question? "If it even exists," he murmured to himself, before adding, "Why would you ask?"

"Oh, it was only a hypothesis of mine. Nothing to be concerned about." The nonchalant air that the moonlighting magician took on next was nothing if not baffling. It didn't fool anyone, and both very well knew this. Would that mean that such an item honestly existed? Hakuba had trouble wrapping his head around this novel concept.

It sounded so far-fetched, the son of the Superintendent General didn't know what was more surprising that night: the fact that the thief appeared to answer his questions – and had decided to give straight answers to all of them, actually – or the fact that there was an item out there (he glanced at the thief shortly; it was more than possible that this item was a gem or hidden within one, given the thief's track record) which would apparently decide the fate of the world as he knew it.

(He knew this was a dramatic way of phrasing it, but he didn't know a thing about the thief that could not be called thus. If the magician managed to attract trouble, it was almost granted that this would happen on a world-wide scale rather than locally. This was an internationally wanted criminal they were talking about.)

What the hell had the magician gotten himself mixed up in?

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When Baaya, his housekeeper, had asked him with a definitely-mischievous smile about how that night's heist had gone, he didn't know how to respond other than say that "It was… most exciting. I think I will retire for now. If you could turn down the volume of the TV, I would be much obliged. Thank you."

That night had most definitely been… exciting. It wasn't even a fitting description, he found, for what had transpired between the two of them. They stood on opposite sides of the "fence," that was true. And yet, they appeared to have the same morals at that. How in the world could the thief hold this balance and not teeter too much to one side or the other at all?

The thief had, as of the moment that he'd deflected Hakuba's question, diverted their conversation so far as to have completely brought it off track. In the end, they were both talking (though, in all honesty, it was more of a monologue of the magician's) about simple things as the uses of a wafer paper packet – just how they'd gotten there from their original thread of conversation, the sleuth couldn't recall in detail any more.

He'd found himself facing an undoubtedly against all reason and sanity in his presence obviously very relaxed moonlighting magician who'd tried entertaining him with a few of the simpler pieces of legerdemain that didn't do much to calm the sleuth's mind at all. A whirlwind of motion was what his brain's activity could be described then. It went even so far that the Hakuba heir most passively saw the thief off; the other had obviously noticed something wrong by then and was exuding – can it be possible? – Worried vibes in his direction, of all things possible!

The inane urge to giggle appeared to be the only thing that was reoccurring every single time that the thief (or he himself) sprung something new on him.

Tonight's revelation had been… enlightening, in the worst sense of the word. Even then, he was only scratching the surface of what the thief had experienced, he thought to himself tiredly. How many more exhausting hours filled with the insane magician's mad cackling would he have to survive only to get closer to the truth, little by little, step by step, as he'd already been doing by having those tea sessions? It was something new that he'd need to get used to, and soon. Otherwise he may as well fall behind.

Sighing, he concluded that the only thing he could say with any certainty at all was that that night had rocked his world, and quite literally at that.

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AN: Anyone able to guess what the numbers at the beginning of the story's parts mean and/or why I chose them gets a whole new story of mine dedicated to them!

Sorry for the late upload, the correction took ages… Or I'm just that lazy, your pick.

There will be no more chapters to this story, dear readers, I am sorry! Nevertheless, you can still go back to my profile page and browse through my other stories, should you like to! In any case: have fun reading and guessing!

Please do not forget to leave a review – it can be just a small note saying "I like" or "Too much tea in my opinion, I'm a coffee drinker" or anything; I am happy about EVERYTHING you have to say!

Until then:

Tea and cookies, anyone?