First off, I'd like to thank all my reviewers for reviewing. You are wonderful and your support is similarly wonderful. This hasn't been a very long fanfic, but it's been a lot of fun writing it.
Second, I'd like to thank Rare Kuma especially for his continued assistance. Your stuff was way too good for me not to use. I'm looking forward to new developments in your stories, too.
Lastly, I ask you to please enjoy the spectacular finale of Ace Defectives, the greatest crackfic I have ever written. Believe me, that is no tall order. The culprit is revealed in this chapter. Did you guess correctly? Let us find out. This is by far the longest chapter, but I hope I kept it relatively non-boring. Here we go, the grand finale!
"Who the hell ate my pudding?"
Previously on Ace Defectives…
"Yuka-tan, don't be a bitch!"
"Oh, god… I didn't know."
"I see. Very well, then."
"Heh, maybe you just ate it without noticing, Yuka-tan."
"Ken-kun, you ate my pudding!"
"But Junpei-san was…!"
And now, the heart-stopping detective thriller reaches its conclusion.
"Aw, damn. How long were we up?" Junpei awoke from a deep slumber, having fallen asleep at the table. Still groggy, the sunlight from the windows, hitting his face like a ton of bricks.
Yukari was still asleep, her face serene and peaceful. She definitely didn't look like the ravaging beast she had been just the day before. In the room's corner was Aigis on standby. Strewn across the room were instant noodle cups, snack wrappers, donut boxes, etc. They really had been at it for a while. Speculating, that is.
They had both changed from their street clothes before pulling the near-all nighter. Yukari had on a simple pink t-shirt with a flowery design and red sweatpants. Junpei, again, had on a less charming ensemble, being but a dark blue tank top and white shorts, the 'I don't care' look completed with plain black socks.
The lone sheet of paper they had used to discuss the suspects had now been joined by fifteen other sheets, all of which were filled with hastily scribbled word salads and vaguely offensive doodles.
Junpei stretched. His muscles were aching from the awkward way in which he slept. The next forty seconds of his life were spent yawning very loudly and obnoxiously. Not like it was disturbing anyone. After all, he was the only one awake.
"Good morning, Junpei-san. The time is currently 9:12am—"
Startled by Aigis's unintentionally (?) stealthy greeting, Junpei shrieked loudly, falling behind himself and onto the table, strewing paper all across the room in addition to waking up Yukari.
"WHAT THE HELL GO AWAY SAUSAGE MAN—!"
Rudely awakened and now laying on the floor, Yukari was in the bad mood to end all bad moods. She growled at Junpei, who had made her messy room all the messier. In a way, they were lucky. Even though it was Monday, there was no school. A freak plumbing mishap had flooded the entire school, forcing it to close down for the day, leaving them free to wrap up the case that had plagued their night. Groggy, tired, and off their guards, Yukari and Junpei were not at all ready for what was to come.
They could both tell that they were in for a long, long day.
Case of the Pudding
Part III – Conclusion
Starring Yukari "Manic-Depressive" Takeba
Junpei "God Damned Stupei" Iori
Minato "Totally Metro" Arisato
Akihiko "Gym Bunny" Sanada
Mitsuru "Workaholic" Kirijo
and Stalkerbot Aigis as 'Magical Cyber-Detective Ai-chan'
featuring Fuuka "Suspect #1" Yamagishi
and Ken "Suspect #2" Amada
Written and Directed by ExtraSaber
"So. What we got?" Yukari said in-between yawns. They had a lot of paper and theories to go through before the eventual conclusion they had planned later that day. And what a conclusion it would be.
They were to round up all members of SEES into the Command Room, where they would reveal the truths of the case, the fruits of their labour, the results of their investigation, etc.
"Well." Junpei started, sorting through the papers. "You, me, Minato, Akihiko-senpai, Ai-chan, Koro-chan, and Mitsuru-senpai are all definitely innocent."
"So, that leaves Fuuka and Ken-kun as our most likely suspects, yeah?"
"That's right. We should talk about why we think they could have done it. I'll take Ken, you can do Fuuka-san."
"You always have such a way with words, Stupei." Yukari said, wiping the tired from her eyes. "I'mma head downstairs and get us some stuff to drink, k? Clean up your unholy mess while I'm gone."
With that, Yukari casually strolled downstairs and into the lounge. When she arrived at her destination, she could see Minato preparing to go outside. Equipped with a black band t-shirt and dark gray jeans, he looked just about ready to take on the world!
"Ah, Minato-kun…" Yukari blurted out, catching the aforementioned wonder child's attention. "You're going out?"
"Hm? Oh, yes. I'm not one to waste a day off school, so I figured I'd hang out with grade school girls and old people in bookstores." Minato said with a completely straight face.
"Er, right…" Yukari didn't really believe him, but he didn't seem to be lying. Perhaps some stalking was in order.
"Huh? Oh, er, I said that out loud? Um, it was a joke! Ha ha ha, funny joke…" Yukari smiled nervously, regaining her composure. "Anyway, make sure you're back by sunset. There's a meeting tonight with mandatory attendance."
"Uh… huh. Just call me or something. I'll be there. Later." Minato left Yukari with a smile and disappeared into the daylight.
Her mood elevated a bit, Yukari re-entered the crime scene to fetch some Dr. Salt cans from the fridge. However, the kitchen wasn't empty.
Akihiko was indeed there, clad in a red t-shirt and jeans, and he was feasting on what appeared to be… pudding.
"Hey, Takeba." Akihiko's face was beaming. "It's this new zero-fat pudding they got at the convenience store. It tastes kind of like cardboard, but it's better than no pudding at all."
"Really?" Yukari's interest was piqued. "I'll have to have Junpei treat me to one of those after we wrap up the case later today. We totally have it narrowed down between two suspects, and we're super close to having a breakthrough."
"That so? Good luck, Takeba." Akihiko swallowed another bite of the cardboard diet pudding. "You'll have to tell me who did it, alright?"
"Oh, I will. In fact, we'll be telling everyone tonight. You're free to show up at the Command Room later, right?"
Back at Yukari's room, Aigis and Junpei were hard at work cleaning up the mess.
"So, Ai-chan, who do you think did it?"
"I cannot say."
"You haven't picked your perp yet?"
"I cannot say."
"…have you even been paying attention?"
"I cannot say."
As Junpei's palm ran across his face, he said to himself, "I wonder if we're doing everything wrong. Prolly not, but…"
"I'm baaaack." Yukari entered the room, three cans of Dr. Salt in her arms. "Hey, you actually cleaned up? Who the hell are you and where's my Stupei?" Yukari smiled.
"Yuka-tan, what's got you in such a good mood?" Junpei grabbed a can and started gulping it down.
"We're so close. I can feel it. This case is as good as closed."
With that, the doubts slowly cleared from Junpei's mind. A smile returned to his face as the fire flared up again.
"Yeah. We're catching this guy, and we're catching him good."
Yukari and Junpei bumped their fists together, their resolve tougher than leather, harder than a diamond, and brighter than the sun itself.
Their Social Link had reached rank 9.
"Incidentally, Yukari-san and Junpei-san, I feel that I must tell you tha—"
"Not now, Aigis. Can't you see we're having a moment, here?" Yukari said, sighing.
"Let's review the evidence one last time. We need to be completely prepared for tonight." Junpei said, fire burning in his eyes. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I mean his eyes looked pretty damn sparkly.
Clearing out the floor, Yukari and Junpei carefully arranged all of their speculation papers into rough chronological order.
"We left the dorm at 9:32am, about 24 hours ago."
"We didn't return until 17:00pm, which was when I discovered that my pudding was gone."
"I can confirm that those present upon your arrival were all residents, bar Mitsuru-senpai."
"Yuka-tan and I then questioned Minato, but that was a no-go. Ai-chan joined up with us from there."
"After that we interrogated Fuuka and blew up her door, who was acting very suspicious and shocked. She looked like a total mess, as if she wanted us to think she's been cooped up in her room all day."
"We'll label Fuuka as 'Suspect #1', alright? Ken is 'Suspect #2'…"
"Right. He was the one we saw next, and he didn't seem to be doing anything. Maybe he was trying to act as inconspicuous as possible, since he knew we investigating."
"Amada-san did not exhibit any exterior peculiarities that came to my attention."
"Still, he's prolly just a great actor. No kid can resist the call of the pudding, y'know. Suspect #2 can't be much different. Also, he said that he had seen Yuka-tan's pudding in the fridge around the early afternoon."
Junpei played with his pencil. He felt like a real detective, so he couldn't help but grin.
"You look creepy, Junpei. Anyway, next up we saw Koro-chan. He was clean, and decided to help us."
"Mmhm. He wasn't any help, though. Someone, probably the perp, had covered up their scent with perfume."
"Specifically, the scent was composed of the French perfumes Houbigant Quelques Fleurs and Eau d'Hadrien."
"I don't see how that makes a difference, but let's note it, anyway."
"Akihiko-senpai was clean, too. He seemed too depressed for someone who had stolen a pudding and seemingly gotten away with it."
"Mitsuru-senpai, who left earlier that morning at 11am, arrived shortly after Akihiko-senpai left, but she only stayed for like two minutes when she left again. By car, incidentally."
"We couldn't ask her about it, but I doubt it was her."
"Yeah, so do I. Aigis is… innocent, probably."
"So, what do we know, Yuka-tan?"
"Well… we know that… err…"
"We'll think of something tonight, yeah?"
"Yeah, that's right. No rush. It's probably either Fuuka-san or Ken. We got this. We got this, right, Yuka-tan?"
"We totally got this, Junpei. Now, as for our suspects' most likely motives…"
Yukari readied her notebook, signalling for Junpei to do the same. However, they had only the one notebook.
"Er, we'll pass it around. That works. Anyway, Fuuka. She doesn't seem to be on a diet, so she didn't have much to lose, or gain, from eating my pudding. Also, it seems that she kind of resents me, seeing as how I'm a lot hotter than she is."
Junpei and Aigis stared peculiarly at Yukari from that last remark.
"Well, it's true! Anyway, her behaviour. She seemed really flustered, most definitely because she knew we were onto her. Unfortunately for her, she's not a very good actress. Her stage outfit was totally way over the top, too."
"It could just be that she wanted to be comfy for her lazy day off, though." Junpei chimed in.
"Indeed, that does seem like the more likely possibility. She didn't appear to be hiding anything from you." Aigis backed up.
"Well, how about Ken-kun, Junpei? What do you have to say about him?"
"Um… Ken's a kid… and kids like sugar…"
Yukari sighed. "Is that really your entire argument? I don't think you're thinking this through very carefully."
"Well, what else am I supposed to go on? I think Ken did it. The reasons why are really simple. It doesn't get any easier!"
"Y'know, I think you're just jealous of Ken-kun, Stupei. He's a little kid, but he's so much cuter and more mature than you." Yukari wore an unpleasant grin.
"What was that? I'm totally more mature than that little brat!"
One volley of insults after another was fired between the two feuding detectives. Aigis could do nothing but watch. This was out of her hands.
A curious glimmer in her eye, she stood up and walked up to the window. A limousine was parked out front, and out of it stepped a familiar face. Specifically, Mitsuru Kirijo. However, she wasn't alone. Accompanied by several men clad in black suits, she entered the dorm.
Aigis nodded to herself. "Verily."
It was now sunset. The neatly organized papers had scattered all around the room, and the two master detectives were panting heavily, worn out from all that wonderful arguing they did.
"So… have we… reached our… conclusion…?" Yukari said between gasps for breath.
"I think so… I think we nailed it…" Junpei said, similarly worn out.
"Then it is time. Should I call everyone up to the Command Room?" Aigis asked the duo, unfazed as ever.
"Yeah, you go do that." Yukari said, smiling. "Junpei, we need to change our clothes. Have to make a big impression, after all."
"You got it, Yuka-tan." Junpei gave her a thumbs up.
"Get out of my damn room already!"
With that, Junpei was kicked out of Yukari's room. It was time to prepare body and soul for the big, explosive climax.
Gathered up on the top floor, the remainder of SEES was. Everyone was present and accounted for at the Command Room, ready to get their minds blown by the Ace Detectives.
"Er, what's going on here? I got the message from Aigis; she said it was important…" Mitsuru whispered to Minato.
"Yukari and Junpei are gonna reveal who stole Yukari's pudding yesterday." Minato whispered back.
"Takeba's pudding…?" Mitsuru muttered to herself. A sense of restlessness lingered in the air.
Mostly because everyone just wanted to get out and back to their own lives. Unfortunately, there would be no such luck.
The entrance to the Command Room was suddenly blown up, startling the hell out of everyone inside. Afterwards, additional explosions and fireworks of all colours went off, culminating in multi-coloured smoke and raining confetti. Out of the smoke stepped two figures.
On the left, there was Junpei Iori, clad in a sharp tuxedo and a fancy top hat. He had on a monocle and carried a plastic pistol, looking very pleased with himself. He winked at his audience, an act mostly ignored or giggled at.
On his right side was Yukari Takeba, a flattering red dress draping her figure. Glittering fake jewels gave the (budget-priced, second-hand) dress an elegant, if somewhat pathetic, air. Said air was reinforced by her footwear, her basic leather loafers. Junpei had gotten fed up with waiting for her to get dressed, so she had to rush some aspects of her outfit.
Tailing them was their technical expert for the evening, Aigis. Her fireworks display had been a last-minute idea of Junpei's. Yukari's reaction to said idea was something among the lines of "Sure, whatever."
"The Ace Detectives are here—" Junpei started…
"—and they're about to blow your collective minds…?" Yukari finished, her voice awkward and stilted. Yukari left the scriptwriting to Junpei, a decision she deeply regretted.
A silence that seemed to last weeks followed.
"I do hope you realise you just violated our fire code to an extreme degree." Mitsuru said, crossing her arms.
"That's not important, though. What is important is that we're about to blow a criminal's cover! Isn't that right, Yuka-tan?" Junpei called out and winked at Yukari.
"…screw your stupid script, Stupei. I am not saying that embarrassing crap." Yukari let go of Junpei's hand and sighed. "Alright, one of you stole and ate my pudding, and I know who did it."
"We know who did it! We know all, we see all, we are a—"
"Junpei, seriously. Stop."
"If you know then just tell us already." Minato said, groaning. Koromaru barked, agreeing with Minato.
"Fine, fine, if you really want to know…" Junpei shrugged and took a deep breath.
"One of you is guilty. One of you stole my pudding. But who? Who?" Yukari said, pointing towards the crowd. "It could be any one of you."
Junpei assumed a dramatic pose. "The culprit must have had a pretty serious grudge against Yuka-tan, to so mercilessly take away her dessert."
Yukari flipped her hair and put her hands on her hips. "Indeed, this person may even want me dead. Who could be so cruel? I know. Junpei knows. Aigis probably knows."
In their mind, the Command Room had transformed into a grand dining hall. They were the master detectives about to reveal the truth behind a terrible murder in front of a room full of noblemen.
Their expert deductions flew across the room in form of red letters. Yukari summoned a grand staff out of a swarm of beautiful, golden butterflies. (It was actually a broom.)
Junpei threw his jacket off in his best male stripper impersonation. "The culprit snuck down to the crime scene –the kitchen—at exactly 13:33pm!"
"Indeed. They then devoured my precious pudding with nary a shred of decency." Yukari swung her staff around dramatically, laughing softly.
The other people in the room, who could just as well not be there, could do nothing but watch. They were completely dumbstruck.
Junpei spun around, undoing his bow tie. Said bow tie then ended up flying into Akihiko's face, who recoiled in horror.
"They then doused the plate with a bunch of laundry detergent and crap, blew-dried it, and placed it back into the refrigerator. The perfect crime! Or was it?" Junpei unbuttoned his vest and threw it into the air. Yukari then accidentally hit him in the head with her broom.
"Ow—! Yuka-tan!" Junpei removed his top hat and held his head in pain.
"Oops! Sorry, Junpei." Yukari put the broom away, in case someone else got hurt. The illusion broken, she looked across the group amassed before them.
Minato and Fuuka were struggling to contain their laughter, Mitsuru was covering her face with her hands, Ken was giggling wildly, Akihiko was still intently watching, Koromaru was licking his own privates, and Aigis was applauding heavily.
"This is what one calls a stand-up comedy routine, is it not? I find it greatly amusing." Aigis said, breaking the awkward silence that had formed.
"Er, y-yes." Yukari smiled awkwardly. One could tell by her face that she was very close to losing her sanity. "Um, let's skip ahead, shall we?"
Junpei, halfway through unbuttoning his undershirt, stopped in his tracks. "Huh? Oh, alright."
Was he actually planning to bare it all? Those thoughts ran through the minds of everyone in the room, Yukari included.
"It's time to announce the culprit. We know who did it, and the one who did it was…" Junpei started.
"The one who did it waaaaaas…" Yukari added to the buildup.
This was it.
The moment of truth.
The two pointed dramatically towards the group and shouted their conclusion simultaneously.
"Fuuka Yamagishi!" "Ken Amada!"
"Wait, huh?" Yukari and Junpei said in unison.
At that point, Minato exploded into a fit of laughter that would make a hyena blush.
"Oh, Jesus. Ace Detectives? Your conclusions didn't even match up! You're Ace Defectives" Minato howled between laughs. The rest of the group was either laughing or smiling very awkwardly.
"Er, F-Fuuka! You're the culprit… right?" Yukari said, her composure gradually dissolving.
Fuuka, back to her usual homely self, smiled weakly. "Sorry, Yukari-chan, but I really didn't eat your pudding. I was in my room on message boards all day."
"But then why were you so startled and nervous when we came in?" Yukari was putting the heat on Fuuka. She would get her confession, no matter what it took.
"Erm, you did kind of blow up my door and see me looking all… unkept. I didn't know what was going on and it kind of freaked me out a bit…"
"So… you're really innocent?" Yukari said, a puzzled look on her face.
"Indeed. Fuuka-san has nothing to answer to." Aigis stated.
Yukari's face grew redder and redder by the second. She slowly shuffled over to the big couch, currently housing Minato, Mitsuru and Akihiko, and sat herself down next to Minato.
"S-so, Junpei! You tell us how it is. Why is Ken guilty?" Yukari tried to keep herself from crying. The embarrassment was almost too much for her to handle.
Junpei finished buttoning down his shirt. Why leave a job half-finished? His unmagnificent non-abs were now on full display, prompting an agonized groan from Yukari.
"Fine, I'll reveal my expert deductions." Junpei said. His voice was full of confidence, but the cold sweat running down his face told a different story.
Their little game of detective was falling apart before everyone's eyes.
"Y'see, little Ken was all hopped up on sugar, and he just needed more. More! Therefore, he stole Yukari's pudding."
Junpei slowly took off his shirt, and crossed his arms. He wondered if he needed to get completely naked in order to distract the crowd from his failing logic.
"…that's it? That's your entire reasoning?" Akihiko said, his palm getting a pleasant introduction to his finely crafted face.
"Um, Junpei-san, I don't even like pudding. It's unhealthy and too sweet for me." Ken said, trying his best to keep a straight face.
"H-huh? Really? That's… er…" Junpei was about to say something, but he stumbled over his own words.
Junpei started undoing his belt buckle, an act everyone present objected to.
"Well, er, I dunno!" Junpei shrugged dramatically and retreated to the smaller couch in which Fuuka was sitting. "I got nothing, okay?"
Minato, having mostly gotten over his laughing fit, decided to stand up.
"Alright, that went nowhere." He said, sighing. "However, this still kind of bugs me. If Ken didn't do it, and Fuuka didn't do it, then who? Who stole Yukari's pudding?"
"It was Mitsuru-senpai."
"Say what?" Yukari said, looking up at Aigis. Tears had welled up in her eyes.
"A-Aigis…!" Mitsuru said, standing up. "I… I, er… I didn't do it!"
"I can confirm that Mitsuru-senpai is, in fact, the one who stole Yukari-san's pudding. I saw her." Aigis said, her face unmoving as ever.
"I… I explicitly told you not to tell that to anyone…!" Mitsuru stomped over to Aigis, her face growing ever sweatier.
"That is true. You did give me the order to keep your actions a secret from everyone here. However, I am programmed to override any and all orders with those of Minato-san's, should the situation call for it." Aigis nodded, looking over at Minato.
"But… agh…" Mitsuru sighed, looking very dejected.
Yukari bolted up from her seat, gaping in disbelief.
"It… it was Mitsuru-senpai? What… huh?" Too shocked to be seriously angry, all Yukari could do was make small, confused sounds.
At this point, Junpei was gathering up his clothes, now strewn all over the room. He put them into a pile on the small couch and sat back down.
Mitsuru sighed once more. "I suppose I owe everyone, especially Takeba, an explanation." She grabbed a nearby chair and sat herself down. Sad-sounding background music started playing as Aigis cast the spotlight on Mitsuru.
"I have always wanted to taste a pudding just like the one Takeba bought. However, my status as a lady and Kirijo's heiress has always kept me from engaging in such pleasantries. Therefore, I decided to do something unspeakable, and wrongly take someone else's pudding for myself."
Everyone gasped. Everyone but Minato. He was still chuckling.
Mitsuru's sad tale continued. "I had left at 11 that morning, but I returned about two hours later after seeing that pudding in the fridge. I… I just couldn't get the image of that pudding out of my head. So, I left my important business meeting and came back here. I ate Takeba's pudding. I ate her pudding with pleasure. It was… very delicious." Mitsuru wiped a tear from her eye.
"Of course, after I had done it, I was overcome with guilt. What had I done? What kind of monster had I become? I immediately retreated to my room and called some of Kirijo's agents. I instructed them to go to a dessert specialty store and purchase their most expensive pudding, and place it upon the plate I had left in the fridge. In order to cover my tracks, I sprayed it with two of my pretentiously French perfumes." Mitsuru held up the perfume bottles she conveniently had on her person.
Sure enough, the same two brands of perfume Aigis had mentioned.
"Unfortunately, my agents got stuck in a traffic jam. They didn't arrive until this morning, where they had provided me with a pudding of comparable brand with the one Takeba brought. However, I found that the plate had been shattered. I gave them instructions to replicate the plate exactly and bring it here. I had to keep Takeba from finding out, so—"
Mitsuru got interrupted by a car honking outside.
"…that must be the plate. Excuse me." Mitsuru stood up and walked up to Yukari. "I am truly sorry, Takeba. It was foolish and immature of me to do this to you. Could you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?"
"…surewhatevercool." Yukari blurted out, still utterly confounded. She had heard maybe a quarter of Mitsuru's long-ass speech.
Mitsuru sighed in relief. "I'm glad. I will return with pudding. Your pudding." Mitsuru smiled and walked off in her quest for pudding.
As she left, everyone stood up from their seats and stretched.
"Well, that takes care of that." Minato said, putting his hand on Yukari's shoulder. "Glad it's over, huh?"
"Yeah…" Yukari said, sighing once again. "Let's all just forget this happened, okay?"
No one opposed to the notion. This weekend hadn't been a pleasant one.
End of Part III
Case of the Pudding
Minato had sat himself down in the lounge, currently reading a magazine. Junpei, now fully dressed, sat beside him and began a conversation.
"S'up, dude." He smiled at his evidently best friend.
"…not much." Minato replied, tossing the magazine aside.
"Listen, I'm really glad you were there earlier. The group going against one another is clearly nothing but trouble, and it's kind of my fault. You handled it really well, though. It's great to have you around as the rational one, if that makes sense." Junpei sighed.
"The rational one, huh? I can live with that."
"I don't know what we'd do without you. We'd prolly fall apart instantly, I'd guess." Junpei smiled weakly.
Minato put his hand on Junpei's shoulder. "That's not true. You'd do fine. At any rate…
"I'm not going anywhere."