Chapter 12: Hospital Visit
"Do you want me to get a nurse?" Shinichi asked as he leaned against the door while listening to Kaito throwing up in one of NTT East Medical Center's public bathrooms.
"No!" Kaito spat out. Shinichi heard the sounds of the toilet flushing, rushing water from the sink running, followed by a miserable, low-pitched groan. Shinichi idly wondered if the reason why Kaito had said no to asking a nurse for help was due to NTT East's reputation for a less than friendly staff. It was known for having one of the top medical care units in Japan and had been the first hospital in Tokyo to receive accreditation from Joint Commission International, even if it may not have the reputation for the best bedside manner.
Personally, Shinichi had been treated there once during his time as Conan and found all the staff members he had interacted with to be quite pleasant. Still, these connections and possibilities all whirled around in the Meitantei's mind only for a split second before refocusing on Kaito's situation.
"I'm sure they have medicine here," Shinichi noted dryly as Kaito walked out of the bathroom. Kaito's face wasn't as pale as Shinichi had expected it to be, but his observant eyes noted that Kaito had applied a light layer of skin-toned foundation and blush to hide his suddenly pale skin. If he looked too sick, they probably wouldn't let him see Hakuba-kun.
Shinichi noted it was a good thing that they had swung by Kaito's house before they had headed to the museum. Chikage had been the one to drive them from the house to pick-up Kaito. She had then kindly lent them her car to run errands. Kaito had been adamant about wanting to drive. Quite frankly, Shinichi's first reaction about having Kaito drive with his reckless personality had been hesitant until he'd come to the conclusion that Kaito had probably been driving (illegally) longer than Shinichi had. He also then remembered Kid disguising as Mouri Kogorou and being able to stop before hitting Furuyo Senma during the Detectives Gathering Case at Sunset Mansion.
"Just too much chocolate," Kaito mused unhappily, hating that Shinichi had warned him about it when he'd been eating it. But he couldn't help it. He'd had little to no chocolate during his prison stint! At least, the craving had been satisfied. For now. He probably shouldn't have eaten his entire to-go order as soon as they had gotten in the car. Or perhaps it had been him eating that chocolate shake and hamburger to go as they left the museum. Or maybe it had been the candy bars and chocolates he'd taken from his stash at home...
Deciding not to worry about it, he noticed Shinichi looking at him with concern.
"We don't have to visit Hakuba-kun now if you're not feeling up to it," Shinichi said tentatively.
"No way. There's nothing better to help Hakuba recover than showing him another detective has taken over one of his cases. That'll make him work harder to recover faster, ne?" Kaito said, grinning, all traces of illness gone.
Shinichi couldn't help but grin too. He knew that would certainly give an adrenaline rush to keep Shinichi going.
On their way to the Motoyama Bird Sanctuary, Shinichi had received a phone call from Nakamori-keibu letting him know that Hakuba-kun had woken up. After discussing it, he and Kaito had decided to visit Hakuba-kun first. Shinichi wanted to ask if he remembered anything about who had attacked him, not to mention ask him questions in regards to what he had gleaned from Kaito's case.
Shinichi was sure Kaito wanted to know the same things; if Hakuba-kun was okay, if he remembered who had attacked him, and about any details in regards to Motoyama-san's death.
Holding the flowers they had bought, Shinichi gave a look at Kaito before heading toward Hakuba-kun's hospital room.
A police officer sat in a chair outside what must have been Hakuba-kun's room.
"Guarding it just in case," Kaito noted unnecessarily.
The guard recognized Shinichi and allowed Kaito to enter after a cursory check of the flowers. As Kaito had expected, Aoko was sitting next to Hakuba. She had a book in her hand and had appeared to have been reading to him until the interruption of the door sliding open.
Shinichi walked in first, Kaito in close step behind him keeping out of sight. Aoko began to stand, an expression of surprised recognition crossed her face before she sat down again. Kaito watched her reaction and realized what she had thought.
"Kudou-kun does look...a lot...like Kuroba-kun," Hakuba pointed out in a weak voice, coming to the conclusion that she had mistaken Shinichi for Kaito.
"Y-yes. I've seen his picture in the papers," Aoko noticed. "Kaito's still..."
"Still what?" Kaito asked, appearing from behind Shinichi, the flowers disappearing from Shinichi's hands and reappearing in his own. The shocked looks on both Hakuba and Aoko's faces were priceless. He'd missed them – even the arrogant detective who had the indecency to go and get himself attacked when Kaito wasn't around to help out.
"Kaito?" Aoko asked. Her eyes darted from Shinichi to Kaito, shock written on her face. Hakuba sat up straighter, looking at a loss for words. Though as Kaito looked over Hakuba, he expected that was likely due to the concussion. Hakuba's head was bandaged rather tightly, his left eye under the bandages, his right eye barely peeking through the white wrap.
"Kuroba-kun! What...are you doing...here?" Hakuba all but choked out.
"Shitsurei na. I took all that effort to break out of prison just to see you, and this is the welcome I get?" Kaito joked. Except, by the looks on Hakuba and Aoko's faces, they seemed to believe him.
"Kaito! You didn't?!"
"Of course I didn't, Ahoko," Kaito grumbled, coming closer to stuff the flowers into a vase that housed flowers from previous well wishers.
"You were released?" Aoko said, her face lighting up like a sparkler.
"Your case was...solved?" Hakuba asked, looking at Shinichi.
Jabbing his thumb over his shoulder at Shinichi, Kaito explained: "He bailed me out."
"The investigation is still ongoing. I'd hoped that we would be able to share our findings," Shinichi explained.
"Ah, I suppose, though...I hadn't yet...delved very deep. But how...do you two know...each other?"
"Apparently our parents know each other. My mother fronted the bail and asked me to look into the case," Shinichi explained calmly. Kaito frowned at Shinichi. That wasn't quite how he'd heard it. A blue parrot had asked him to look into the case, he'd said. That meant Jii. But he still hadn't had the chance to ask Jii why he'd asked Shinichi to help him out. A sudden thought struck him. The fact that Shinichi seemed so sure of his identity and the fact that the news reporter had said that Shinichi had wrestled the jewel from Kid...had Shinichi unmasked Jii?
"Yabe," Kaito cursed.
"What's wrong?" Aoko asked.
"Look at what I did to these poor flowers!" Kaito covered his slip quickly, drawing his attention to the way that a few of the flowers dangled over the edge of the vase. Before anyone had the chance to say anything, a snap of his fingers and a poof! later, the flowers were arranged in a much neater way, the broken head of the flower he'd pointed out earlier in the trash and out of sight.
After a moment, Aoko broke the silence by officially introducing herself to Shinichi and vice versa.
"How're you feeling?" Shinichi asked as he sat down, scooting closer to Hakuba-kun.
"Disoriented and tired," Hakuba-kun answered, truthfully. "I can't remember...much. I don't...even know where I was when...I was attacked." Hakuba-kun's words came out labored.
"Don't push yourself," Shinichi said, worried at the breathiness in Hakuba-kun's voice.
"I'm fine," Hakuba-kun insisted.
"Baka. No you're not. Boys just try and say they're fine, but they're not. Take it easy, okay?" Aoko admonished. Even though her words were directed at Hakuba-kun, Shinichi had the distinct impression she was also referring to Kaito. Shinichi had just met him, well just met him officially, but he could tell that the Phantom Thief and the head of the Kid Task Force's daughter had a close relationship. She kept shooting Kaito glances as though wanting to talk to him but not willing to do so in front of the two detectives which was fine with Shinichi since he wanted to speak with Hakuba-kun alone.
"Aoko-kun," Hakuba-kun began, sensing the same thing, "why don't you see...if you can find some...hot tea for us. Kuroba-kun, you'll help...her carry it, won't...you?"
"No problem. I don't want to be here when the two of you detectives start delving into the case and saying things without saying things that don't make sense like 'this means it had to have been culprit A because his shirt threads didn't match up.'"
"Kaito!" Aoko grumbled, standing up and grabbing him to push him out of the room.
"Is he even allowed to have tea?" Kaito asked Aoko as they left the room, the door sliding behind them.
"Have you been attacked?" Hakuba-kun asked as soon as they left.
"No. Then again I've had people with me ever since your attack." More or less.
"How do you really...know Kuroba-kun, and how did you...hear about his case?" Hakuba-kun asked. Shinichi gave a short, dry laugh.
"According to my mother, we apparently met as children, though I only have vague memories of the encounter, which is probably a good thing. My mother asked me to look into it since she was friends with Kuroba-kun's father." Shinichi didn't mention that he had first heard about the case after unmasking the assistant. He did, however, decide to test the waters. "Though since meeting him, I have a few speculations that we may have met since we were children."
If he hadn't been bandaged, Shinichi could imagine Hakuba-kun arching an eyebrow at him. As it was, the other detective leaned back into his pillows.
"Be careful. Around him. And in general."
"I will be. You've shared your suspicions with Nakamori-keibu, right?" Shinichi prompted, remembering how the head of the Kid Task Force had asked Shinichi if he'd talked to Hakuba-kun about his theories.
"To a point. I told him…that Kid is much…younger than what they…think."
"Do you think Nakamori-keibu suspects Kuroba?"
"If he has…he's…never mentioned it…to me."
That was interesting. From what Nakamori-keibu had said to Shinichi, he had gotten the distinct impression that when the detective had asked him if he had talked to Hakuba about his theories he was referring to Hakuba suspecting Kaito of being Kid.
"What have you...found...so far?" Hakuba-kun wheezed out, his exhaustion getting the better of him.
"You should rest."
"Doctors want me...awake due to my concussion...might as...well, help me stay...awake," Hakuba-kun explained, his usual eloquent tones dulled and slightly slurred.
"Fair enough," Shinichi agreed. "How much have you found out so far?"
"Not much. I spoke over the…phone with Motoyama Reiko-san briefly…and had planned to meet her on the…day that I was…attacked," Hakuba-kun breathed out with difficulty.
"Oi, oi. You sure you're okay?" Shinichi asked concerned.
"Yes," Hakuba-kun insisted, though he did take a minute before he continued speaking. "I also spoke…with Nakahara Tsutomo-san. I've met him before…Since…he's a fellow falconer, the two of us…had met before. While I received…my beloved Watson-san via…another falcon breeder, Nakahara-san and…I…had met through mutual acquaintances," Hakuba-kun explained.
"He was the one who videoed what had happened," Shinichi recalled.
"Nakahara-san was…pretty adamant that it could…only have been Kuroba-kun since he…was the only other person…who was there. Other than that…I hadn't found much…more out due to the…fanatic. Speaking of which…what have…you found?"
"As of right now, we don't know too much in regards to the Kid fanatic. And as for Kuroba-kun's case, I'm still gathering data, but there are two points that I found very telling. The first is that Kuroba-kun's prints were on the jewel, but nowhere around the room where the jewel was kept. The second is that, for some reason, Kuroba-kun didn't hear Motoyama-san scream as he fell."
"What do you mean...he didn't hear...him?"
"Within the room where Kuroba-kun was, he should have been able to hear the scream. I've seen the video, and there's no way that he would not have heard it if he were in the room. There's no reason for him to say that he hadn't heard it."
"Unless he's lying."
"What would he gain from lying about it?"
"Because he...did it."
"Except there were too many clues left behind, and I think you and I are both onto the fact that if Kuroba-kun had done it, there'd be no evidence left behind."
"Saru mo ki kara ochiru. Even monkeys...fall from trees," Hakuba-kun recited the well-known Japanese proverb. Shinichi nodded his head. It was true that people made mistakes. People were not infallible. However, there were just too many loopholes. This wasn't a monkey falling from a tree. This monkey got pushed.
"Nanakorobi yaoki. Even if he falls seven times, he will get up eight."
"Demo, akuin akka. But you...reap what you sow. His thefts...have finally caught up to him," Hakuba pressed.
"In this case, I feel that you need to fix the problem, not affix blame. If he keeps stealing but gives it back, if he feels guilty about it even, there's something more going on. The so called evil deeds have something else behind them," Shinichi pointed out using his own thoughts.
"As Thomas Edison said, 'We should...remember that good fortune often happens...when opportunity meets with preparation.' He has only been lucky...because he is always prepared. It's our...chance to take this opportunity."
"Lord Byron said, 'Where there is mystery, it is generally suspected there must also be evil.' The evil may not be Kid, but something he is fighting against. After all, 'the reverse side also has a reverse side.'"
"How can you defend...his craziness? How...can you defend when you suspect...all the theft he's...committed? Do you not want him...to be caught?"
"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it quite nicely in the Red Headed League, 'There are always some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them.' Where would we be without a little lunacy?" Shinichi sighed. He was getting a bit tired of this impromptu quote war. Hakuba-kun's sense of justice was strong, but even he recognized certain limits. Still, Hakuba-kun seemed adamant. Something nagged at Shinichi.
"True," Hakuba noted. "But really...they had to get...Al Capone on tax evasion."
"You're forgetting that he did end up going to jail before that for having a concealed weapon."
"But the charges didn't...stick compared to everything he'd done."
"So you're saying let Kuroba-kun go to jail for this crime even though he didn't commit it because it's what is available in terms of possible evidence?" Shinichi asked, crossing his arms.
"Not the mur...der. Just the...theft. After all, the…true murderer should be…brought to…justice."
"That doesn't seem right," Shinichi murmured.
"But it might be...safer."
And there it was. Shinichi had to hold the smirk back. Hakuba-kun was worried about Kuroba. It meant that there was more going on that Hakuba-kun had acknowledged.
"What type of danger do you think he's in?"
"They'll be...back soon. We can talk about that…later. What else...do you suspect from the...Kid fan?"
Despite what he said, Kaito was itching to know what the two detectives were talking about. However, he hadn't seen Aoko in a long time. It was the first time he'd felt so distant from her. He was used to seeing her almost every day. To go so long without seeing her felt strange. It was like he was seeing her for the first time. Her hair was longer than when he'd last seen her. The shirt she was wearing was new and the headband that held back her rather unruly hair was an accessory that she must have bought specifically for the shirt she was wearing. Aoko didn't usually dress up so nicely, and to see her going out of her way to fix her looks to visit Hakuba in the hospital while Kaito had been incarcerated left his chest burning heavily with jealousy.
"I wonder where they have tea," Aoko muttered to herself, her eyes darting around, looking anywhere but at Kaito.
"Aoko," Kaito began, wondering how to start speaking to her. It shouldn't be so hard. The sound of her name seemed to jolt her, and she stopped walking. Kaito nearly ran into her as she whirled around and all but threw herself into his arms. "Aoko!" Kaito gaped, alarmed.
"I was so worried! So worried, Bakaito! I know you didn't do anything, but everyone said, and then...and then the attacks on my dad and Hakuba-kun, and thank kami-sama you're out of jail," Aoko sobbed into his shirt. Kaito grimaced as a group of doctors and nurses stopped to stare at them. Awkwardly putting one arm around her, Kaito managed to maneuver her to a less populated area, Aoko still clinging to him.
"Ahoko, it's fine. I'm fine. You're dad's fine. And Hakuba's gonna be fine. Don't be such a crybaby."
But even his attempts to rile her up didn't stop her from clinging to him. In fact, she hardly even put any weight behind the punch to his arm when he said that she was wearing purple underwear. Instead, he finally put both arms around her and waited while letting her shuddering sobs fizzle out. She backed away from him, wiped her eyes and nose on the back of her sleeve before turning her red blotched face to look at him.
"You sure you're fine?" Aoko whispered.
"Of course! Why wouldn't I be?"
Aoko looked at him as though she weren't sure whether to believe him or not. Heck, Kaito wasn't sure if he should believe himself or not, but Aoko nodded her head once, taking his word for it.
"We need to find that tea."
And that was that. No other questions, just a mission to take care of. Kaito sighed, feeling a weight of anxiety lift him, a burden he hadn't even realized he was carrying as Aoko began to fill him up to date of her most recent activities, carefully not mentioning what had happened with her dad, to Hakuba, and especially not about what had happened with Kaito. For that, Kaito was grateful.
Next Chapter: Fitting Puzzle Pieces
No idea why, but the thought of Hakuba and Shinichi having a quote war has always amused me. Hope you enjoyed it – and the rest of the chapter!