A/N: I am so sorry about Taiki in this chapter, but I had to add it XD
Sensitive readers be warned! If you don't want to know, you can jump over Hakuba's part in the end.
Strange English, OOCness
Shinichi's age: 17
Chapter rating: K+
More Than It Seems
It didn't take long before the real Kaitou KID showed up, using tauntingly difficult riddles, clearly intending to up the stakes of the challenges between him and his black foe, and more often than not Shinichi found himself in the company of both Hakuba and Yuusaku, trying to solve the heist notes. Despite being in the vicinity of each other, all of the detectives sat by a different desk without speaking, trying to outdo the others, and the only reason the organisation member even participated in their gathering was in case they figured out the solution before himself.
As Shinichi stared intensely at the note, he caught the author sneaking a peak at him for the millionth time that day, but the thief was happy that he'd seemed to back off. Shinichi wanted to believe that the author had accepted that he wasn't his son, but he didn't want to get ahead of himself; it could just be a trick. As Hakuba seemed to stretch his back a bit both of the other detectives gave him a sour look, recognising that he'd thought of something, but the blond only sank back down as he realised that his idea had failed.
Relaxing slightly, Shinichi scribbled a note in his block, writing on his made-up language so that the others wouldn't know that he was working on his own answering-note without having an actual answer, but so far he only had: "I, Night Baron, graciously accept your provocative invitation, and eagerly awaits the day in consideration." Shinichi knew that he had to solve the note and incorporate the date, time, place and object in his own heist note when he communicated through the newspapers, pretending that it was the only way they could speak.
Knowing what the criteria of the target was, the western thief went thought the list of probable Pandora diamonds. Comparing the riddle to each of the diamonds that the organisation wanted him to check, made him come up with nothing, and caused him to smile within himself; it would allow him to let Kaitou KID win this time, since no large diamond had entered the country. As he brought up his phone from his pocket he saw that his white foe had sent a message, taunting him for not having responded with his own note during the whole day, and time was already approaching a late dinner.
'You must've worked hard on this one. Thank you, I appreciate it.' the thief-and-detective wrote to the contact called Amias, but was better known as Kaitou KID.
'You're very welcome, and you have a few days to solve it. Three days from now I'll just tell you the secret!' Shinichi smiled slightly at the reply, remembering their last encounter on the rooftop of the police station where they had kissed after Shinichi had finished a report; KID had thought that he'd chosen the location just because of the danger of being caught, but that was only part of it.
Curiously peaking up above the phone allowed him to see that the author had one hand gripping into his hair, showing that he was having trouble solving it and was literally tearing at his hair. While searching on his phone for the diamonds that the organisation already had stolen once before Shinichi slowly progressed through the list, but then got bored.
"Have you solved it, Nozaki?" Hakuba asked interested and looked to the thief's relaxed pose, but Shinichi could still discern the annoyance in his voice; his old friend seemed to draw the conclusion that he'd solved it without informing them.
"No, I'm taking a break to let my mind run free," the answer made the Brit visibly relax, now knowing that he could still win, "it's a trick Kudou-san taught me; it hasn't given any result yet, but I have full confidence in Kudou-san's knowledge."
"Oh?" Yuusaku smiled as he looked up, surprised that his advice to relax had been followed, but seeing it as a good sign that the young man was beginning to trust him. After a while of searching on his phone Shinichi came across a diamond that the organisation had stolen that could be the target and he memorised its name before continuing down the mental list. It wasn't until very early that morning, after spending half the night up solving the riddle and thought of his own, that he had finished his answer.
Yawning, Shinichi poured himself a cup of coffee at the police station while Yuusaku was being yelled at by an upset Nakamori, and for the second time in Japan Shinichi was happy that the famous author was around so that he was forced to take the blame for the still unsolved riddle.
"I'm guessing that you haven't solved it yet," a voice stated beside him and made the thief turn to see his old British friend.
"No, and neither have you," Shinichi commented as he studied the detective's tired expression, lazy posture, lack of pride and the steaming hot cup of coffee in his hands.
Intrigued by the fact that he had no idea that the blonde drank coffee, the thief watched as the detective sipped the liquid and tried to disguise the expression of disgust that passed over his face.
"Not much of a coffee drinker, huh?" the thief remarked and watched the Brit shiver from the taste.
"I never drink coffee, and I don't get how you all can do it," Hakuba grumbled and took another sip, trying hard to not look like he hated it.
"Just think of it as really strong tea, with more caffeine," Shinichi suggested and heard a small snort from the other, remembering that he had told Saguru exactly that back in England while they were staying up all night to solve a murder. At that time the Brit had tasted it without expecting anything, but had then been forced to run over to the sink to rinse out his mouth.
"You know," Hakuba smiled and looked over the Kuroba-look-alike, "you really remind me of someone."
"Oh? I hope that it's someone kind-hearted," Shinichi smiled and saw how the Brit shook his head bemused.
"I can't really say who you remind me of, but it just feels as if we've met before," Hakuba absentmindedly sipped his coffee and grimaced, "I guess that it's because you look like one person in my class, but you're much nicer than him."
"Then, that's probably the case," Shinichi nodded and watched as the angry inspector growled and spun around to stomp away, but as he turned around the author's eyes widened, seeing a note from Night Baron stuck to the back of Nakamori with a bit of tape.
"We have an answer from Night Baron," Yuusaku called out to the two other detectives and smiled as Nakomori turned back to him to see it, not knowing that it was stuck on his back.
"Show it to me!" the man demanded, but Yuusaku only grabbed into his shoulders and spun him around too look at the note, "where is it?" The inspector looked around the room in front of him, believing that Yuusaku had seen it somewhere on the wall.
"He's taped it to your back," the author stated as he pulled on a pair of gloves and then carefully removed it, hoping that there would be fingerprints, but knowing that it was most likely completely clean. As soon as the note had been removed he frowned at it, only able to read the first sentence before a clearly made-up language of circles, squares, lines and other shapes formed the answer.
"Now you must be able to solve it!" Nakamori smiled broadly and looked to the author with hope.
"Only if you can understand it," Yuusaku commented and turned the note to let the man see it. For a second cluelessness was shown on his face, before he got angry again and tried to grab the paper, but the slightly shorter detective only held it into the air behind him.
"We need to dust it for fingerprints," the author stated calmly.
"You know just as well as I do that there won't be any damn prints on it!"
"What if he messed up this time?"
"Pff… Fine! Hand me the solution to the riddles by the end of today!" Nakamori growled and walked out of the room.
"I can't imagine that his blood pressure is fine with a temperament like that," Shinichi mused and heard the Brit hum in agreement, "I envy you for working with him often."
"Ha ha, no, you don't," Hakuba downed the last of his coffee with a shiver of abhorrence, "he makes my ears bleed every heist, metaphorically, even though I'm trying to stay away from him as much as I can." While the Brit placed his cup in the washer Shinichi filled his with a second helping before they both began to walk towards the author that had frozen in place while staring at the note.
"Are you okay?" Hakuba asked as they reached the man, seeing him look up to them with surprised eyes.
"No, most definitely not. This has never happened to me," Yuusaku stated shocked and showed them the note with symbols, "he-, Night Baron beat me in solving it, even though I was up all night trying to figure it out. I've never truly lost before. It's a strange feeling."
"Okay," Shinichi sighed as he stared at the note, strangely happy over the fact that he was the first person to have ever beaten the man, but he did, kind of, cheat. "Night Baron's answer doesn't help me the least, and my guess is that he is building off of KID's note, like usually, so we cannot know what Night Baron's note says until we've figured out KID's note."
"I can bring it up to the forensics lab to dust it for fingerprints,-" Hakuba offered and pulled on a pair of gloves, "-put it into a computer and then try to solve it both by myself and with the program, but I doubt that it will work." As the blonde took the note from Yuusaku the man seemed to come alive again.
"That'll be perfect, Hakuba," the author stated a bit distant and frowned, "Night Baron must've cheated… Somehow…"
"Oh? Really? And you call me irrational, while assuming that no one on the entire planet is smarter than you," Shinichi remarked while staring at the author, "how could he possibly have cheated? It's not like KID and Night Baron would hang out together. And the fact that they see each other's as enemies makes it highly unlikely that KID would've told Night Baron the answer to his riddle, it's not like they are sending each other messages."
Knowing that the last comment would cause the author to waste time on the forum Shinichi turned and left to solve an old case under the ruse of working on KID's heist note, and he quietly wondered how long it would take for the white phantom to solve his answer, but as KID knew the story around the diamond he would be able to solve the riddle in little to no time. Smiling slightly to himself, Shinichi pressed a number into his phone and called while looking at the screen. Four seconds went by after the answer and then the call was cut off. Feeling a bit disappointed over the fact that he couldn't see the four newspaper offices explode in smoke and have his note hanging from the ceiling he resorted to updating their online papers, but not even five minutes later the papers' online news site was updated with photos of Kaitou KID's heist note and Night Baron's answer, followed by a challenge to crack them both.
While sitting by a corner computer to protect his screen from any snooping detectives or officers, Shinichi researched the object he would go after next. A beep in his phone, however, made his attention break and he picked it up and smiled, seeing that it was his white foe.
"Aw! You're too fast!" the thief had sent to him.
"Well, it's just that I know that you're talking about a diamond; it narrows the option down, vastly. It would be harder to solve any riddle if you just went after a random object, like you did in the beginning," Shinichi quickly wrote back and kept a vigilant eye on the police that were working in his proximity.
"Hmm, that sounds like a challenge."
"Well, that would require you to go back to stealing Christmas decorations, crowns and stop stealing diamonds. If you're willing, I'm up for the challenge," the thief-and-detective hoped that he could get KID to stop stealing diamonds and thereby not be a target by the organisation, but he doubted that it would actually work, especially since Shinichi theorised that Kuroba Toichi had actually been the original Kaitou KID, and been assassinated by Spider, which would most likely make his son, Kuroba Kaito, blatantly refuse to give up the search for his father's murderers.
Shinichi thought about the things that he'd read in the files that Whisky had on the confrontations with Kaitou KID. In the past, now ten years ago KID had seemed to know what they were searching for, but now that he came back, he had gotten that information by eavesdropping on Snake and Whisky. Listening to the beep of his phone, Shinichi pulled it up to look at the message, reading exactly what he'd thought that KID would say.
"Oh, I can't do that yet! Not until I've held every pretty little jewel in my hand!" The thief that wanted to be a detective sighed, not knowing what to respond, and just sat there for a few seconds, feeling as if the world had stopped and despite his worry, he relaxed.
"And I'll be there to stop you every time," Shinichi sent back, loathing the organisation for the time of his life that they had stolen. If they hadn't been there, shackling him, imprisoning him, he would've been free. He would've been a detective, and he would've gone to Japan the moment he'd seen Kaitou KID show up again, not to catch him, but to just meet him and challenge him. They would've fought for the jewels and both of them would then have returned the treasure. KID would've been just as free as Shinichi, neither would've been shackled to the organisation.
"You just wait! You might have experience on your side, but I'll beat you eventually!" Shinichi sighed at the message, hoping that the organisation wouldn't send out Gin or Chianti to take the thief out if that ever happened, but finding Pandora didn't seem as prioritised as other areas, especially since it only was six people in the entire branch, including himself; Snake had been sent to North America, Frangelico was in South America, Spider in Europe, Churchill in northern Africa while Nixon was in the southern regions of the African continent, and now Shinichi had been assigned to dealing with Kaitou KID and searching the rest of Asia.
Hearing his phone ring made him pull it out, half-expecting it to show the name Amias, but as he looked to the phone, his heart filled with anger, for on it stood the name of his other relayer; liquor store.
"Hello," the thief answered on a whisper as he bent forward to let his computer screen cover his mouth from the camera that was in the corner. Judging from its angle he doubted that it could even see him, but he could never be too careful.
"Hello, Regal," a voice he'd never heard before stated in his ear, and Shinichi pretended to read something on his screen, but his eyes were merely following the lines without understanding them.
"Hello, stranger, but that's not my name," the thief stated lightly, too suspicious to confirm his identity; for all he knew it might even be the CIA or the FBI.
"Chivas," the thief answered as he knew that only a few members were aware of his second codename, and he guessed that everyone had one.
"You have been summoned, wait for a black limousine, driven by Vodka at the northern road from the Tokyo tower at 19.00. Sunday." The phone clicked as soon as the command was voiced and Shinichi let his phone slip into his pocket; he never liked it when he was summoned by the organisation, but he felt lucky that they hadn't said Saturday since it was the day of the heist, and once again, Shinichi was tense.
As soon as Yuusaku had been left alone by both of the younger detectives he went to an available computer to search the forum thread that he knew was the thieves, KID had even confirmed it. Scrutinising the text that the thieves had sent between each other he found himself frowning; they were way too casual and friendly towards each other, sure there were a few taunts, but for all he knew the criminals could be best friends. Getting more and more annoyed and frustrated by each comment, Yuusaku inserted a hand into his hair to gently pull in it, like he always did when he was thinking hard, and continued reading about the thieves sharing information about their private lives.
Everything was in a code, that by just reading it, it would sound like any conversation, but he knew that the thieves were smarter than that. Night Baron apparently had problems with his hands stealing things on impulse and complained that he found stolen wallets, pens, sweets and jewellery in his pockets that he then had to return. He was trying to control it, while KID just mocked him for it, seemingly amused over the fact that someone could steal absentmindedly, without noticing. Their conversation drifted off and they were both praising a movie that they wanted to see, surprised by the fact that the other thief wanted to see it. Night Baron taunted KID with the information that he had seen it one day before his foe, and KID complained that he had to wait an entire day extra as he'd promised to go with some friends.
Yuusaku glared at the text, not getting anything special from their weird conversations, even though he normally thought that it was interesting to get an insight into the private life of the thieves, but right now he just wanted to roll his eyes at them, frustrated that he wasn't finding any clues, no matter how he interpreted the messages. Giving up on the forum, Yuusaku searched for movie releases during the date that the messages about it had been written, easily finding the movie, and sighed as he couldn't find any help from it either, but that would mean that Night Baron truly had beaten him.
Saguru was beginning to become just as annoyed as Yuusaku as he looked at the note; he knew what kind of languages that KID spoke, and he knew that Night Baron spoke a lot of them, so the note had to be in either Japanese or English otherwise KID wouldn't be able to read it. As the blonde stared at the copy he'd taken he sent a glance over to the forensic analyst that was searching for tiny particles on the original note; spores and pollen from different trees, flowers and bushes allowed them to narrow down the area to Tokyo, which wasn't any great news to them, but he had found a fingerprint from Yuusaku, even though Saguru was certain that the man had only touched it with gloves.
The Brit guessed that Night Baron had disguised as Yuusaku in order to get close enough to Nakamori, but it could just as well be that the thief wanted to get the author in trouble, concluded from the few interactions between Night Baron and his creator that he'd seen; Night Baron didn't seem to like Kudou, which made his choice of masquerade even stranger. With an annoyed sigh Saguru dropped his pencil on the copied arc to stretch his back; he wasn't surprised that Night Baron could solve the riddle quickly; he was intelligent, but what surprised him was the fact that KID was able to solve Night Baron's heist notes just as fast as his enemy, especially since Saguru only could describe Kuroba Kaito with an oxymoron; intelligently brainless.
"Have you found anything interesting?" the detective wondered and saw how Taiki looked up from his computer.
"No, not since you asked last time. There were dust mites, but the only DNA that I've managed to recover belonged to Nakamori-keibu. I'm still running tests on the others, but I suspect that all or most of them will fail," the old Japanese man stated and gave the detective an intrigued look, and Saguru knew what question was coming. "Are you sure that you don't want to create your own farm? They are quite lovely pets."
With a forced smile, Saguru glanced to the small glass container that was standing beside the man, knowing that it contained his own dust mites that he fed with his own skin.
"No, but thank you for the offer, I'm afraid that I'm more into falconry that dust mite breeding," the detective stated and managed to keep the gracious smile on his lips, despite feeling how his skin crawled by the thought of breeding human-eating creatures that he couldn't see without a magnifying glass, "I need to get this note to Nozaki and Kudou-san."
"Oh, just one more thing. If your bird ever gets a mite infestation, could you collect them for me?" Taiki asked with a hopeful smile.
"Sure, If Watson ever gets mites I'll be sure to collect some for you," Saguru stated and walked out of the room as fast as he could without looking like he was fleeing and heard a grateful "thank you" from behind him. With shivers running through his body, Saguru almost flew down the stairs and found Nozaki by one of the vacant computers in the second office area where he looked.
Shinichi saw how his old friend headed for him and he immediately pulled up a diamond that matched the note, but was still the wrong one.
"Hey, how are things going?" the thief greeted as the detective sat down beside him.
"The analysis of the note gave nothing, the computer program don't have a clue how to solve the riddle; it refused to accept it as a code altogether, so I've been trying to solve it by myself," the blonde quickly rattled off and absentmindedly scratched his hair, neck, throat and arms, making Shinichi smile amused; he knew of only one person at the station that could make people react with scratching themselves.
"So you were assigned Taiki," the teenage thief chuckled and made the detective realise that he was scratching himself.
"Yea, I don't like being in the same room as that man," Saguru complained.
"But he's very good at what he does. He's the reason many murderers are in jail. He's especially good on extracting DNA from mites," Shinichi informed, despite knowing that the Brit already knew that, "he even has his own farm of them. He told me that he's killing the smallest ones in the hope that they'll become big enough for him to see with the naked eye."
"Please stop talking about mites," Saguru demanded and glared at the dark haired detective, "I'm fully aware of the farm he has on his table." Unable to keep himself from tormenting his old friend Shinichi continued anyway.
"If you think that his personal mite farm is delightful you should ask him about the others that he has in the large cupboard. Taiki gets very happy when people want to listen to him talking about them."
"There are some things that I really don't need to know," Saguru hissed annoyed and scratched his neck as he watched the other detective laugh to himself, "if you don't want one of his farms over you, you better shut up about that. Right Now."
A/N: Next chapter might take a bit more time! (Sorry)