Soul Searching

Warnings: Spoilers for the manga ending of Mirai Nikki. Possibly inaccurate details of Japanese and British culture (American here). Gruesome scenes (it's Mirai Nikki). Portrayals of God and Lucifer that may offend some (it's Mirai Nikki and Magic Kaito).

Pairings: Mentions of both Yukiteru x Yuno and onesided-or-maybe-kinda-mutual Aru x Yukiteru (it makes sense if you read).

Notes: Based on a weird idea I had after finishing Mirai Nikki recently. Essentially just me trying to explore my crack concept. Technically ought to be Magic Kaito x Mirai Nikki, but labeling it as Detective Conan just because.

Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan, Magic Kaito, or Mirai Nikki.

When Saguru was born, his hair was white.

The doctor told the parents that it was merely a case of albinism, which also explained the child's startling red eyes. It was a rare condition for sure, and also very surprising considering neither father nor mother had any family history of albinos, but it did not seem to be having a negative effect on their son. In all other aspects, the boy was perfectly healthy and even a bit on the strong side, so the doctor claimed that there was no need for the parents to worry.

Yet worry they did. While it was assuring to know that their child wasn't weak or impaired, his unusual coloring could still cause problems. Surely, in a country as conventional and homogenous as Japan, he would receive unnerved or disgusted stares, and some people would make fun of him. So throughout Saguru's time as a toddler, his parents hardly ever brought him out in public. And whenever they had to bring him, they stuck a hat on his head.

Then, when his parents divorced four months after his third birthday, they agreed that Saguru should live with his mother in London, as English society would be more accepting of him. But when it came time to send him to nursery school, his mother began to fret. Even in England, if Saguru went to school with a head of unconcealed white hair, the other children might still isolate him, or laugh at him, or otherwise bully him for his appearance. And he wouldn't be able to hide his hair at school—a hat could easily fall off when he was playing, and even if it stayed on, his hair would still be visible at close distance. This concern plagued his mother until finally, she decided she had to do something about it.

And when Saguru was four, his hair was dyed blonde.

By the time Saguru was in Year Five, he had found that his mother had been right in that others would bully him, but wrong in that it would be because of his looks. Sure, with his combination of Asian features he'd gotten from his father, blonde hair that nobody knew was actually white, and red eyes that his mother had been unwilling to hide if it meant making a child handle contact lenses, Saguru was often called a "freak of nature" by the ruder and typically male members of his peer group. But he knew it wasn't that they truly had any problem with how he looked. Rather, they just wanted to make him feel insecure, and his atypical appearance was the easiest thing to pick on.

Those boys wanted to bring Saguru down because they envied him. They hated that he always got the best grades even though he never studied, that he could beat them in any physical sport or competition without breaking a sweat, that even his looks that they constantly insulted were exactly what made him seem so exotically handsome to their female schoolmates. Of course, they never actually said this, but one didn't have to be nearly as observant as Saguru was to notice the dirty looks they shot him whenever he exhibited these qualities.

But Saguru knew he was stronger and faster and smarter than all the other kids, and petty taunts could do nothing to change that. He had no real friends due to his abilities, but he could live with that—most of his classmates couldn't hold an intelligent conversation anyway. But even though the bullying didn't damage his self-esteem, endless hassling could still get rather annoying.

So whenever Saguru noticed his hair color begin to fade, he took it upon himself to get it redyed. Not because he was ashamed of white hair like his parents thought he was, but because he just didn't want to deal with any additional, unnecessary trouble from his peers. And although Saguru was now considered mature enough to responsibly wear contacts, if he changed his eye color after people had ridiculed it, it would seem like he was letting the bullies get to him, and he wasn't about to give them that satisfaction. His mother had controlled his appearance for so long that by the time he was allowed to make his own cosmetic choices, he didn't really have a choice. So Saguru resigned himself to life as a red-eyed blonde.

But once, when he looked into the mirror, the tiled bathroom became tatami, blonde hair suddenly turned pure white, and he saw the albino he was supposed to be. The image disappeared in about four seconds, and his actual likeness blinked back at him again, but the experience left him disconcerted. It was strange—the vision had been crystal clear and the surroundings had changed and it had felt like reliving a past memory. But Saguru's hair had not been white since he was four, and the boy he had seen had definitely been his current, ten-year-old self.

Saguru wondered if he was going crazy, but when the phenomenon did not happen again after a day of many repeated looks in the mirror, he decided that his brain had simply played a trick on him. His imagination had probably decided to satisfy some innate curiosity that had wished to know how he would look with his natural appearance. With that, Saguru's worries of mental instability were forgotten.

But the vivid image of that albino boy in the mirror never was.

It was also in Year Five that Saguru fully realized that he wanted to become a detective. In retrospect, the revelation had been a long time coming—he had always enjoyed solving riddles and playing detective games, the Sherlock Holmes stories had been his favorites since the moment he'd discovered them, and he had always taken a deep interest in crime-related news. So it really shouldn't have been a surprise when he announced his wish to his mother.

As Saguru pursued the field, his mother worked to help him reach his goal. She contacted her ex-husband, and with his connections in the Japanese police force, he sent her case files and police reports that she then gave to their son. Saguru was grateful for the effort, and for the useful study materials, but he saw that while his mother supported him superficially, she actually had serious doubts about his decision.

She thought that Saguru felt unhappy because she was divorced. She worried that his interest in crime-solving was a coping mechanism, something he was using so that he could feel close to the other parent that he hardly ever saw. She believed that he wasn't doing this because he truly wanted to be a detective, but because he just wanted to be more like his distant father.

She didn't understand. This wasn't about his father at all. The desire to observe, to investigate, to find the truth and bring criminals to justice, was something that was ingrained into Saguru's own very being. No, he didn't want to be a detective like his father. He wanted to be far better.

He wanted to be the greatest detective in the world.

It wasn't easy for Saguru to obtain a significant spot in the world of crime-solving. After all, he was merely a child with absolutely no connections in the British police force, and nobody with a position of importance would give him the time of day. But Saguru was incredibly persistent about having his deductions heard, whether it was through dialing 101, or visiting Scotland Yard in person, or even sneaking into the crime scenes themselves.

Initially, he was regarded as nothing but a troublesome and stubborn brat. But time and time again, his input was found to be useful and his conclusions were proven correct, and Saguru gradually managed to convince the police that he was worth listening to. By the time he was twelve, all ideas he offered were readily taken into account, and by fourteen, he was allowed to participate in official investigations alongside members of the force.

One such investigation was the pursuit of a rampant serial killer, which was actually a rather simple case. The victims seemed to have no correlation with each other, and the murders were done sloppily, with useful evidence left behind more than a couple times. So the culprit was one of those disorganized and spontaneous types, someone who tended to kill within a comfort zone. A scan of the forensic reports, a glance at a map, and already Saguru knew the killer's distinguishing characteristics and approximate place of residence.

From there, the police easily tracked down the culprit without a hitch, and Saguru, who had tagged along, was able to witness the capture in person. The murderer desperately screamed out incoherent, crazed words as he was handcuffed, and the teen's lips pursed in slight distaste. In the end, it had been a dull crime committed by a man who was obviously mentally disturbed. And though he was happy to have caught him, Saguru couldn't help but be a little disappointed at how boring it had been.

He sighed and turned away from the scene, irritated at the sight of the struggling, shrieking captive. The case was closed, but Saguru was left feeling unsatisfied, and he really didn't want to watch any more of this pathetic display. He told a nearby detective that he would be waiting in the car, but just when he was about to leave, a single phrase amongst the senseless shouts behind him managed to register in his mind.

"God made me do it!"

Saguru froze.

"He forced me to kill them! It wasn't me, it was God! It was God!"

And those words got stuck in his ears, ringing out over and over again in his head. For the next minute or so, the world around him was a blur. His heart pounded against his ribs, panic overcoming him for no discernible reason, until eventually, he was able to pull himself together. By this point, the killer had been securely seated in the back of the leading police car, and his cries were no longer audible. But Saguru still felt uneasy.

Why was this having such a great effect on him? Those words had been nothing more than the ravings of a deranged man. At least, that was what Saguru repeatedly told himself, but despite his efforts, he remained thoroughly shaken. The notion that a god could control somebody—he should have considered it ridiculous. But instead, he pondered it with a strange and powerful sense of horror.

Even after he went home, Saguru couldn't stop thinking about it. The lingering fear from the experience haunted him for days. It continued to trouble him throughout his next investigation, and once that case was solved and its culprit was arrested, his emotions culminated in a sudden, impulsive action. He approached the captured criminal, ignoring the confused stares the police shot him, and as Saguru locked eyes with the other, he spoke.

"How come you did that?"

The simple reply of "I needed the money" was one of the most comforting things he'd ever heard.

From that point onward, Saguru asked the question at every arrest and to every culprit. Whenever anyone inquired as to his reasons for asking, he claimed he was attempting to understand the psychology behind crimes. But in reality, his motives were much simpler.

Because even though there was a risk of getting the one answer he never wanted to hear again, he was lucky enough to never encounter it. Everyone attributed their actions to money or love or revenge or whatever else, and each time they did, Saguru felt just a little bit freer inside.

It took months for him to finally find peace with the subject, and by then, the habit had stuck. Becoming genuinely curious, he gradually developed an actual interest in psychological analysis and continued asking the question. And finally, the thought of God controlling people stopped scaring him.

Yes, Saguru no longer feared the concept.

But he was never able convince himself that it was impossible.

Saguru's reputation as a detective continued to grow, and by age seventeen, he was famous throughout England. Reporters showed up at almost every case, and he obliged them, partaking in interviews and even donning a Sherlock Holmes outfit for dramatic flair. His customary question became a renowned phrase, and the people around him, other than those school bullies, treated him with awe and respect. The general public praised him as a young hero, a righteous genius, a prodigy with a great and successful career ahead of him.

And yet, Saguru was bored out of his mind.

Hardly any case challenged him, and that thrill he used to get from investigations was quickly fading away. Sure, he was delivering justice to wrongdoers, but that alone was not enough to make him feel fulfilled in his work. He thirsted for a real puzzle, a true test of his brainpower, something that would force him to the very limits of his abilities.

And finally, he found it.

Saguru owed his discovery to an agreement between his divorced parents, which stated that he would live with his mother, but spend school vacations in Japan with his father. The February half term of his Lower Sixth year was no exception to this, and to prepare for the trip, the teen researched current Japanese case files, hoping to come across something interesting to investigate while he was there.

There was one file in particular that caught and kept his attention—a flamboyant phantom thief who primarily targeted jewels and had recently returned from an eight year hiatus. Phantom Thief 1412, more commonly known as "Kaitou Kid," had eluded the police countless times, and his crimes were still ongoing.

Saguru took interest due to how different this was from his typical case. A phantom thief was something he had only ever encountered in fiction, and facing one would be, if nothing else, a greatly needed change of pace. He set the file aside for consideration, and when the other ones proved to be dull in comparison, he decided that the Kaitou Kid would be his main focus on this trip.

Even so, Saguru did not expect this case to give him much more than some fresh new experience. Nothing in his research suggested that Kid was any more intelligent or capable than other opponents he had faced, and he figured that capturing the thief would be easy enough.

Oh, how wrong he turned out to be.

When Saguru went home immediately after the Adam's Smile heist, he went to his room, plopped himself onto his bed, and pondered the night's events. Even though he had seen through the Kid's tricks, he had underestimated the thief and let him get away. In that aspect, Saguru had lost.

But for the first time in a long time, he had been surprised. He had not expected Kid to use a hang glider, nor for him to escape on the ice in such a comical but inventive manner. Strangely enough, he had appreciated Kid's creativity, relished the shocks the thief had given him, enjoyed the overall event. And in that aspect, Saguru had won.

Contrary to what he had originally hoped, this heist wouldn't be Kid's last. But if Saguru stayed here longer, he might get another chance to capture him. And even better, if he faced Kid again, the fun thrill he had received tonight could be experienced one more time. After a brief period of contemplation, Saguru got up from his bed and rushed down to the study, where he greeted his father with an excited grin on his face and a request on his tongue.

"Father, I would like to stay in Japan for a while."

Overnight, his father managed to get him enrolled in a nearby school, and the next morning, Saguru stood at the front of Ekoda High's Class 2-B and introduced himself. Almost immediately, he figured that things here wouldn't be much different than back home—the girls were already staring in adoration, the boys in jealousy. And indeed, the next few days seemed to prove him correct. The Japanese style of classroom and curriculum felt unexpectedly familiar, and the people here were, tragically, no different than the students of London Bridge High.

Except for one girl.

Her name was Nakamori Aoko, and coincidentally, she was the daughter of that inspector he had met at the Kid case. Yet she was vastly different than her father. She had dark hair with bangs over a pale, soft face, coupled with charmingly deep blue eyes, and topped off by a sweet and almost innocent sort of aura that seemed to radiate from her very being. Saguru felt a tug at his heart when he first saw her, for all those qualities she exhibited were both oddly nostalgic and incredibly attractive.

He wished to approach her, but he deemed it necessary to take his time and wait for a good opportunity. Then, one morning, as Saguru waited for class to start, he overheard a conversation between Aoko-kun and a friend of hers, Kuroba Kaito, about tickets to a concert. When the boy refused what was obviously an invitation from her, Saguru realized that this was his chance. And he took it, leaving his seat, cutting into their conversation, and kissing Aoko-kun's hand.

It was a bold move, yes, but he was bold by nature. Besides, judging by the way Aoko-kun was blushing, his actions had put him in a favorable light in her eyes. But then Kuroba-kun had to go and insult him, and he was not about to stand for that. He proposed a bet, the other accepted, and Saguru confidently walked away from the conversation, certain that he would catch the Kid, go on a date with Aoko-kun, and have a great time doing both.

Things did not go as planned.

Saguru did enjoy the second heist, but to his disappointment, he did not catch Kaitou Kid. At first, he simply pinned the blame on an uncharacteristic moment of carelessness—his hesitance in putting on the gas mask—and assured himself that he would not make another such mistake, that he really would catch the thief on his next try. But when further attempts also resulted in failure, even after Saguru discovered Kid's true identity as Kuroba-kun, he was forced to reevaluate the situation. The conclusion he came to was rather surprising, but it made sense.

Saguru did not actually want Kaitou Kid to be caught.

Perhaps it was because the heists were so clever and fun. Perhaps it was because his treasured Aoko-kun was friends with Kuroba-kun. Perhaps it was because Kuroba-kun himself, as annoying as he could be, was actually beginning to grow on him. But whatever the reason, the truth was that if Kid ended up behind bars, Saguru would be unhappy, and the part of him that had already realized that had been holding himself back all this time.

The revelation came with a dramatic increase in performance, on both their parts. Saguru uncovered the tricks in record time and did all he could to retrieve the stolen items, but never interfered with Kid's getaway. In return, Kid wrote harder riddles and made the tricks more creative, but began to treat the detective with more respect and even friendliness. It was a mutual agreement, a game of sorts, and both of them loved it.

And as time passed, Saguru began to develop a real attachment to Japan. Here, against Kid, he got challenging and exhilarating battles of intelligence, strategy, and wit. Here, at Ekoda High, he could spend time with Aoko-kun and Kuroba-kun, the only people who he had ever considered friends. Here, in Japan, he felt as if he belonged, as if he was finally where he had yearned to be for years.

And here, in Japan, the memories started to come back.

It began with a dream he had one night, which Saguru could scarcely remember once he woke up. He recalled the highlights—a dead body, some vicious dogs, a boy in an orange hat—but the rest was a blur. At that point, he paid it little mind, believing it to be nothing more than just a strange product of his imagination.

But two nights later, Saguru dreamed again, this time of guns, a car, a motorcycle, and a girl holding hands with the boy from before. Four days after that, it was of cellphones, a 10-yen coin, knives, and again, that girl and that boy. And the dreams continued for months, interspersed amongst his nights, each containing the same people and places and things.

He quickly realized that the dreams were all related, but many things were still confusing. The scenes Saguru saw were hazy and out of order, and although he knew that there was a story behind them, he found himself unable to connect the dots or see the full picture. And that was upsetting, because while this was highly unusual and made little sense, something inside of Saguru kept telling him that whatever he was missing, whatever these dreams meant, it was incredibly important to him.

But everything finally became clear due to a certain murder case he solved. He ran into it by chance, when the discovery of a fresh and beheaded corpse in the dumpster of the restaurant he was eating at ruined his appetite. Saguru quickly deduced the culprit—a restaurant worker, who had stolen a butcher knife from the kitchen and used it as the murder weapon—but the investigation disturbed him more than usual. Being a detective had gotten him accustomed to gruesome deaths, but for some reason, the killings that involved cut throats had always been the most difficult to stomach.

And when Saguru dreamed that night, he finally found out why.

He had failed.

Blood gushed out from his sliced throat as he lay on the ground, weak and in tremendous pain from multiple fatal knife wounds. He had tried to kill that girl, had been sure he would kill that girl, but instead, he was the one dying. He had destroyed her cellphone, her lifeline, but she had a second phone and was still alive. And he didn't understand how this could be.

His mind raced with confusion, trying to analyze the possibilities. One by one, things began to fall into place. Three corpses, matching DNA, an imposter; a survival game, God, going back in time; two cellphones, two of the same girl, two worlds...

And suddenly, something clicked in his mind, and everything made perfect sense.

Now knowing the truth, he was filled with new strength and determination, and he managed to stand. The world was beginning to fade, and he was barely able to register what was happening around him, but no matter what, he had to tell that boy. That single thought drove him to continue through the pain and struggling, even when he choked on his own blood after trying to speak. If he couldn't talk, at least he could still text.

And even as that girl, that Gasai-san, came running at him again; even as he felt that knife slash his neck, swiftly tearing through skin and flesh and bone; even as his own head detached from his body and blood spurted from his neck like a volcano; he still stumbled, still walked, trying his absolute damnedest to display the message on the phone in his hand. Because all that mattered was that boy, his dearly beloved, his precious Yukiteru-kun.

This should be good enough, he thought.

As the world began to fade away, his ears managed to hear someone scream at him, shrieking his name in anger.

Then everything went dark.

Saguru woke up with a start, his eyes snapping open, his hands flying protectively to his throat as he jerked up into a sitting position. Gasping for breath, he began to take in his surroundings, and once he realized that he was safely in his room and his head was still attached to his neck, his panic began to dissipate. His hands slowly left his throat and came up to rub his temples as he tried to sort out his thoughts.

That dream had been the most vivid yet, and Saguru remembered it all too well for comfort. That recurring girl in his dreams now had a name. Gasai-san, he recalled. Gasai Yuno, something inside him supplied. That boy was called Yukiteru-kun, Amano Yukiteru, your love. And that name that had been cried at the end, that he had barely heard, was, strangely enough, the thing he remembered clearest of all.

Akise Aru.

And just like that, the floodgates burst open. All the memories that Saguru had never before been able to access crashed over him in a massive wave. Some flashed across his brain and were forgotten an instant later. Others were implanted firmly in his mind.

It was confusing and disorienting and it gave him the most splitting headache, because suddenly, fourteen years from another life were being forced into his mind in a period of minutes. Even after it passed, Saguru was still reeling, but nonetheless, he determinedly began to organize and process all of this new information.

Everything he had wanted to know for months was now right there in his head. All he had left to do was sort it all out.

Saguru had Baaya call the school and say he was sick. He had far more important things to attend to right now, and besides, it was true that he wasn't feeling very well. Then, he proceeded to spend the whole day up in his room, searching through the new memories, concentrating on them one at a time, pondering them for hours on end, until he had compiled a detailed analysis of their owner.

Akise Aru, a young detective in middle school. He had been pulled into a world of psychics, supernatural entities, and a twisted survival game. He was supposedly a creation by God, made for the purpose of overseeing said game. He had assisted and fallen in love with contestant Amano Yukiteru. He had investigated, fought, and ultimately been killed by contestant Gasai Yuno.

And whenever Aru had looked in the mirror, Saguru's own face had stared back.

Because this person known as Akise Aru was Saguru himself. He was not sure how it could be possible, but he knew in his heart that this was true. Somehow, Aru was him, even if he had kept his white hair, lived in Japan all his life, gone toe to toe with God, and died at fourteen.

But then logic spoke up, and Saguru faltered. If that was true, what exactly was Aru to him? A past incarnation? A counterpart from a parallel universe? How could he and Aru be the same, yet live in such vastly different worlds?

How could he be sure that this story wasn't all just an incredibly elaborate or even insane fantasy conjured up by his imagination?

When night fell, Saguru went to bed without any of the answers.

Though he was no more enlightened the next morning, Saguru at least felt good enough to go back to school. But he found himself having trouble paying attention during class as his thoughts continued to linger on Aru. The hours passed quickly, and before Saguru knew it, the last bell rang and the school day was over. Then, as he left the classroom and began to head down the hall, he heard a feminine voice behind him call, "Hakuba-kun."

Saguru turned around, and was met with the sight of someone he easily recognized. Koizumi Akako was from the same class as him, and many considered her the most popular and attractive girl in the whole school. Even Saguru himself would admit that, in terms of physical appearance, she was one of the most beautiful females he had ever laid eyes on. But unlike his male peers, he was not so infatuated with her as to treat her like a goddess. In fact, even though they were both somewhat close to Aoko-kun and Kuroba-kun, Saguru had hardly ever spoken to her.

So what did she want him for?

"Yes, Koizumi-san?" he responded politely, though he was slightly annoyed at being held up. At this point, all he wanted to do was go home so he could think things through in peace.

The girl flipped her hair. "Would you like to come to my house with me?"

Saguru blinked. That was blunt. "Eh? Right now?"

"Sure, why not." Seriously? Was she trying to ask him out or something? But they hardly even knew each other.

"Um, I'm sorry, but I'm rather busy today." A lie, but he really wasn't sure what else he could possibly say in this situation.

"Are you sure?" Koizumi-san said. Saguru was ready to respond that yes, he was sure, but she spoke before he could. "Akise Aru-kun?"

Saguru abruptly stopped, taken aback, and he couldn't hide the shock on his face. "What?" he murmured disbelievingly. "How do you know that name?"

She smirked. "If you want answers, Akise-kun, then come with me."

It took a moment, but as he stared at her in astonishment, Saguru suddenly realized that this conversation was proof. Somehow, someone else knew about Aru, was referring to him as Aru, and this simple fact dispelled all his doubts completely. Those memories weren't just his imagination. They were real. He was Akise Aru.

But now, Saguru needed to know the rest. What had ended up happening to his dying world? How had he come to be in this completely different world? Why had he regained these memories now, or even at all? He needed the answers to these questions.

And Koizumi-san was offering them.

Saguru pulled his cellphone from his pocket, swiftly hit speed dial, and pressed the phone to his ear.

"Baaya? I'll be home late again tonight."

Beside him, Koizumi-san began to laugh smugly.

His classmate was a witch.

Well, at least when he was Aru, he had seen weirder.

As Saguru waited for her to finish whatever ritual she was doing, he took the time to look around himself. The creepy butler was lingering just outside the room entrance, bottles of what were presumably potion ingredients lined some shelves, and a crystal ball on a pedestal stood right behind the witch, who was stirring a large cauldron with a staff while reading from a spell book. Koizumi-san sure had an interesting home.

"Hakuba-kun," the witch's voice called, interrupting his observations. "Come here please."

Saguru complied immediately, walking up next to her. Since Koizumi-san was the one with both the answers he wanted and the powers of Lucifer, he had decided some time ago to not question or hinder her.

"Hold out your right hand. Palm up." Saguru obeyed and, to his credit, did nothing more than flinch slightly when she suddenly pulled out a decorated knife and sliced through the skin of his palm. It was a light cut, only just deep enough to draw blood, and she collected a few beads of the red liquid on her blade before flicking them into the concoction she was making. Then, she stirred the mixture one last time before pulling out her staff and leaning back. "There. That should do it."

And sure enough, moments after she said that, Saguru saw the crystal ball begin to glow out of the corner of his eye. Koizumi-san approached the ball and hovered her hands over it, beginning to speak. "Oh, magic crystal ball. Can Hakuba Saguru unlock the secrets of his past as Akise Aru?"

A little melodramatic, but apparently it got the job done, because the crystal ball itself replied in a squeaky voice, "He can."

Koizumi-san stepped back and turned to Saguru. "There. Ask it whatever questions you like."

He stared at the talking ball for a few seconds, trying to decide what to say, before finally asking the most puzzling of his questions. "How did I come to this world?" This world that, no matter how he looked at it, simply could not be the same as the dying one from Aru's memories.

The crystal ball paused only a second before launching into an explanation. "After you died, your world was destroyed. Your memories, just like everyone else's from that world, were stored away in the akashic records. They were intended to remain there, forgotten forever. But your will was incredibly strong, and being a creation of God gave you additional power against the divine locks. Your memories alone broke free. Then they found their way into a separate dimension, the one you now live in, and allowed your soul to be reborn as a human here with your memories, albeit suppressed ones."

Saguru took a moment to process this, pursing his lip in thought. "Is there a reason my memories came back now of all times?"

"Once you received prolonged exposure to Japan, your remembrance hastened due to familiarity," the crystal ball chimed. "Had you not lived overseas, your memories would have returned much sooner."

"And how exactly did my memories cross the barriers between dimensions?" It seemed rather remarkable when he thought about it.

"It was actually easiest for you to come to this dimension, because it is inherently inferior to the one you came from," the ball said.

Koizumi-san cut in. "And this being the case, I would never have been able to receive knowledge of your previous dimension if you had not wished me to."

Saguru frowned. "I never wanted you to know about it."

"But you wanted to know the truth about yourself," Koizumi-san said. "And with your spiritual status, even Lucifer was obligated to grant you that wish. Since I had magic and could contact you easily, he informed me of your hopes and told me to fulfill them."

"Hold on. My status?"

"You are a direct creation of a God from a dimension that is superior to ours, and in addition, you managed to overcome that God's control over you through sheer willpower." The witch actually seemed somewhat impressed when she said that. "Of course you have higher status. In fact, without your blood, this connection to the akashic records would have been completely impossible to create."

Saguru nodded his head, quickly deciding that he would have to accept this explanation. As strange as it was, he would likely never get a better one. To change the topic, he turned to the crystal ball and continued. "You said my world was destroyed." It hurt to even think about. "Does that mean that nobody won the survival game?" More importantly, did that mean Yukiteru-kun had died as well?

"Not exactly," the crystal ball corrected. "After your death, the events proceeded as follows."

Then, the fog within the crystal began to clear, allowing Saguru to see a vision within the sphere. Over the next few hours, during which he had to take a seat at one point, everything that had happened to Aru's dimension played out before him like a long, astonishing, unbelievable movie.

Aru had been wrong about one thing, it turned out. Gasai-san actually had loved Yukiteru-kun, really had wanted him to become God. She had killed herself for him. And Yukiteru-kun had grown to love her back just as much. He had become God, only to fall into despair without her, never creating anything. It was excruciating to watch.

In the end, though, Gasai-san and Yukiteru-kun had managed to live together as gods in a third world, a timeline where the survival game never happened and nobody other than the both of them remembered the second world. While it was hard to not hold some resentment for the girl who had killed him and taken the one he'd loved, Saguru found himself okay with this outcome. He was no longer part of that world, and the Yukiteru-kun he knew was both well and happy with Gasai-san by his side. If his beloved was happy, then Saguru really couldn't complain.

Plus, Saguru felt better about it when he found out that, while second-world-Yukiteru-kun and third-world-Gasai-san were together in the realm of God, third-world-Yukiteru-kun was getting along quite well with third-world-Aru on the ground.

"That's enough," he told the crystal ball after watching the third world's Aru and Yukiteru-kun walk home together. "I think I've seen all I need to for today." Saguru stood from his chair and turned to Koizumi-san, who had been sitting and watching alongside him. "If I could take my leave?" he asked her.

"Of course." She called for her butler to bring Saguru his things, and the servant left to do so.

In that time, Saguru figured it would be okay to ask one last request of the witch. "Koizumi-san, could I come here again some time?"

"So you can see your old dimension?"

"Well yes," he admitted honestly, for he probably would want to check on it every once in a while. "But also to get to know you better." Sure, she had been more or less forced to help him, but she hadn't once complained, and she had watched the visions on the crystal ball with just as much interest as him. Besides, they had mutual acquaintances in Aoko-kun and Kuroba-kun, so it was about time they got to know each other.

The witch gave him a somewhat bewildered look but said, "Sure. You can come over whenever."

At that point, the butler returned with his school bag, but Saguru ignored him. Inexplicably but incredibly happy to have both the closure he had wished for and the permission to return, the detective grinned at her gratefully and earnestly. "Thank you very much, Akako-san."

The change in honorific was not lost on her, and she stared at him questioningly for a while. But then, to his pleasant surprise, she smiled back at him and replied, "Anytime, Hakuba-kun." Yes, this was turning out to be a good day.

And later, when Saguru got home and went to bed, he was met with sweet dreams and the best night's sleep he'd had in months.

As the days passed, Saguru slowly began to move on from Aru. Sure, it was nice to know who he had once been, and he would never want to forget his old life again, but those things were in the past now. And as he accepted that he was no longer a part of his previous world, he also began to change some of his views about his current world.

He realized that his romantic crush on Aoko-kun would not last, because while he still greatly cared about her, and she still shared similar traits with Yukiteru-kun, she was not actually his past love. And besides, it had always seemed pretty obvious that she and Kuroba-kun liked each other. Saguru also came to develop an entirely new appreciation for Kaitou Kid's heists, because his past dealings with Gasai-san opened his eyes to how absolutely wonderful it really was to have the thrill of a strategic battle without the constant threat of death over his head.

Above all, no matter who he had been before, he had been and still was Hakuba Saguru. He had a new life and new friends, and even if it had taken him years to get to this point, he was happy. And with that, he figured it was about time to put Aru to rest.

However, a week after his visit to Akako-san's house, during an early passing period at school, Saguru slipped into thought again. It couldn't be helped; at this point, it was still too early for him to be able to completely stop pondering Aru, especially when his mind wandered off like this. But then, Saguru was abruptly snapped out of his daze when he suddenly heard the sound of a small explosion and was enveloped in a puff of smoke.

Saguru took a moment after the smoke cleared to realize what happened, but once he did, he let out a groan. He looked up from his desk, and as expected, he was met with the sight of Kuroba-kun laughing. Saguru felt himself fill with annoyance, at both the magician and at himself, because he was normally rather good at avoiding his friend's pranks, but apparently, he was having an off day today.

Aoko-kun came over to reprimand the trickster, sternly shouting, "Kaito! That's not funny!"

"Oh, come on," Kuroba-kun said, still snickering. "He's been spacing out like that for days. I had to do something to get his attention."

"That's no excuse, idiot!" Aoko-kun smacked him across the head.

Kuroba-kun let out an "Ow" and brought his hand up to rub his head, but the smirk didn't leave his face.

Aoko-kun sighed in exasperation and turned to Saguru, looking apologetic. "Sorry."

Saguru managed to smile at her. "That's alright, Aoko-kun. You're not to blame." Then he looked down at himself, trying to determine what exactly the prank had been, and after finding nothing out of place, he turned his gaze back up to the girl. "But could you tell me what Kuroba-kun did?"

"Um, your hair..." Aoko-kun trailed off, pointing at it.

Oh, so it had been a hair dye bomb. "I see," he sighed. "What color?"

"I think it'd be best if you saw for yourself," a new voice chimed in. Saguru turned to the speaker and saw Akako-san walking up to them, holding a compact mirror in her hand and biting her lip as if to hold back laughter. Geez, was it really that funny?

She handed the mirror to him and he brought it up to his face, positioning it so that he could see his hair. Saguru was expecting to see something outrageous and ridiculous, like electric green or hot pink, but upon seeing his reflection, he froze, unable to take his eyes off of it.


His hair was pure snowy white.

For the first time in thirteen years, Saguru had his natural hair color, and he marveled at the difference it made, how much more it made him look like Aru. But then, amusement rapidly rose up within him, and his lip twitched, and soon he was grinning, and before he knew it, he was outright laughing like a madman.

Because this was his actual appearance, and the timing had been perfect because it'd happened right when he'd been thinking about his past self, and Kuroba-kun had just revealed his lifelong secret of being albino but didn't even know it, and oh, the irony!

Eventually, his laughter died down, and once Saguru had his breath back, he looked around to meet his classmates' stares. Aoko-kun seemed worried at his display, Kuroba-kun looked scared for his life, Akako-san was giggling knowingly into her hand, and everyone else was gaping in bewilderment.

The detective ignored the reactions, handing the compact back to the witch before turning to the magician. "Kuroba-kun, how long will this dye last?" Saguru asked, feeling rather satisfied when he saw his friend cringe.

"Ah, well, it comes right out with water," Kuroba-kun said nervously, guiltily, eying him as if he was expecting the detective to eat him or something. "I can get it out immediately—"

"Oh no, it's fine," Saguru interrupted. "I rather like it. In fact, I think I'll keep it like this until it wears off." He grinned wickedly. "Thank you, Kuroba-kun."

The magician gaped at him, but before he could get another word out, the teacher walked into the room, forcing Kuroba-kun to return to his seat. The teacher apparently noticed the detective's hair and stared for a moment, but then she moved right on to begin the class without bothering to question it. Meanwhile, Saguru only barely managed to stop himself from laughing aloud again when he heard Kuroba-kun whisper worriedly to Aoko-kun, "Crap, I think I broke him!"

And true to his word, despite a few people's insistence that he could go wash it out in the bathroom, Saguru kept the white hair for the rest of the day. He was actually enjoying the aftereffects of this prank, partly because he found amusement in the shocked looks he was given, but also because it was surprisingly liberating to look like Aru again.

Of course, Saguru would not keep his hair like this forever. It would have to go back to being its unnatural blonde once he took his shower later that day. But for now, he let himself have fun with it, messing with his friends' heads, smirking more than usual, and feeling great whenever he looked into the mirror. And once the day passed, Saguru decided that, in the future, he would have to buy his own white dye and do this again sometime. Maybe eventually, he would even let his blonde dye fade away completely.

Because sure, no matter what, he would still be Hakuba Saguru.

But there was nothing wrong with being Akise Aru too.

More Notes:

-Basically, this all started when I realized that Hakuba and Akise were both young detectives and looked somewhat similar. And also had the same seiyuu. Then I noticed that Aoko and Yuki kind of have the same characteristics, and the rest was history.

-First heist is Adam's Smile, Magic Kaito Chapter 15. Second is the statue heist, Chapter 16.

-Minor dreams are, in the order mentioned, Hinata's "death" from Mirai Nikki Chapter 14, reveal of Yuno as a fake from Chapter 38, and the left-or-right game from Chapter 16. Major dream is, obviously, Akise's death, taken pretty much directly from Chapter 51.

-Akise!Hakuba may not be completely in character, due to it being difficult to grasp either of their characters when in their separate canons, much less when they're smushed together.

-Yes, I know Hakuba's eyes are blue in the manga, and normally I try really hard to stick to canon details, but the anime made them red like Akise's and I just found that easier to work with, so I'm using anime!Hakuba's appearance and lumping it together with my interpretation of canon!Hakuba's character to make Akise!Hakuba. Apologies if this bothers anyone.

-I honestly have no clue how that interdimensional memory travel thing would work, but just try to roll with it.

-That was a needlessly long and terrible fic based on only a crackpot theory. And probably nobody's actually reading it. Yep.