Disclaimer: If I were the owner of DC or MK, I would be rich, famous, an amazing artist, and fluent in Japanese. I am none of these things.

Ten thousand thanks to the amazing NinthFeather, master of Naming Stubborn Fics and the best Beta Reader and Friend on this-or any-planet.

Also, this is very depressing but strangely hopeful all at the same time, so-you've been warned.

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Stolen, Not Returned

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It was a nippy autumn day, a bit breezy perhaps, but perfect. No rain in the forecast, and while it had rained just a few days prior, the mud in the park had long since dried. Children were playing happily, chasing one another around the swing-sets placed here and there between the trees and the jungle gym, parents talking quietly in the background as they watched over their charges.

No one had paid any particular mind to the two teenagers at a more secluded swing-set. At least, not until a young child—six or seven at most, judging from the pigtails and yellow-on-pink color scheme—ran over to them to say "hello".

Neither the boy with spiky brown hair and a bright smile, nor the girl with wild brown locks admiring the brilliantly cut jewel set into the ring on her finger answered, or moved when she touched the older girl's hand.

It was cold.

And the child screamed, scrambling backwards calling for her mother. "Mommy! Mommy! There's something wrong with that girl!" she cried, pointing the adult toward the frozen pair.

Her mother walked over, concerned. "Hello? Are you alright?"

There was no response.

Tentatively, the woman placed a hand against the teenaged boy's cheek, trying to get his attention, but in vain. Her daughter clung to her legs, still in tears.

The woman slowly knelt to her daughter's level and hugged her close. "Go play with Tsubame for now, okay?" she whispered. "It's alright."

The young girl nodded once, rubbed her eyes with her tiny fists and dashed away toward the jungle gym, relieved at her mother's words, and thought no more of the two strangers sitting so silently on the swings.

The woman ducked her head and took in a deep breath before pulling her cell phone from her jeans' pocket, dialing just three numbers.

"119, what is your emergency?"

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"Yes, I am Hakuba Saguru. How may I be of assistance?"

The police officer on the other side of the doorway sighed. "I'm afraid I have some bad news, Saguru-kun… You might want to sit down."

Hakuba blinked at him before stepping aside to allow the officer into his house, leading him to the dining room. "Yes?" he asked tentatively.

"I regret that I must inform you that Nakamori Aoko and Kuroba Kaito were found at the Ekoda Park this morning, deceased."

Hakuba had, as expected, paled significantly, and his hands clenched into fists. "What?" he asked. "How? When?"

"It appears that they were killed sometime last night and planted on a swing-set early this morning," the officer said with a regretful sigh. He'd already been to Nakamori-chan's father and Kuroba-kun's mother, and had little patience left for the same questions to be demanded of him once more, no matter how much he sympathized with the victims' family and close friends.

"That—that cannot be possible." Hakuba was barely breathing now. He'd likely entered the first stages of shock. "I—I was with them both just last night. We'd gone out for dinner to celebrate their engagement—" He broke off, shaking his head, then demanded, "Do you have any idea who was responsible?"

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The Task Force could not believe it when KID failed to show up for the heist that had been scheduled just days before. Reporters speculated for weeks about what had happened, the fans even longer, until everyone was convinced that the famous thief had simply taken another unannounced hiatus.

And, four years later, they were proven correct. A heist note was sent to the police department, the Task Force reformed—this time with a younger officer as its head, as Nakamori-keibu had finally retired—and the white hang glider sped through the night skies once again.

There were questions, of course, about the thief's slightly changed skills, but the audience accepted them just as easily as they had upon the thief's first reappearance after his eight-year absence, glad to see their star back in action.

And if no one on the police force could get in contact with a certain half-British consulting detective on nights when the Kaitou KID flaunted all efforts of policemen and detectives to detain or capture the famous thief, well, that was just a coincidence.

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Kaitou KID raised his latest theft up into the moonlight, smiling for the audience though he felt no joy himself, and nearly dropped the jewel when he noticed the blood-red shine at its core.

"I found it," he whispered. "I found it, Kaito. And this—" he deliberately flung the jewel into the air and used the cardgun to shatter it, "—is for you, and Aoko, and all the others who have died to keep this jewel from Their hands."

Behind him on the roof, out of reach of the spotlights, the returned Kudou Shinichi smiled. "It's finally over."

KID spun at the sound of his voice, and Kudou could see tear-tracks on the phantom thief's face. "Yes," he said, glancing back down toward the crowd. "Just one more thing to finish."

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"And then, one day, for no reason that anyone could discern, and without returning the last gem he had stolen, Kaitou KID announced his retirement. He held one last heist, a sort of grand going-away party for himself, and told the police and the press in no uncertain terms that he would not be returning. And so ended the story of the famous jewel thief that everyone loved."

"And that's really what happened, Grandpa?"

"Of course not, Ken-kun. But you're not old enough for the whole story just yet."

"Aww! But you'll tell me?"

Hakuba Saguru grinned down at his youngest grandson. "Maybe when you're older, but not today."

There's no need to inspire a fourth Kaitou KID, after all, he thought to himself. One phantom thief in this family is more than enough.

He looked over to the mantle above his fireplace, to the picture in the place of honor in the center, and smiled.

Kaito grinned back at him, Aoko's expression still torn between fondness and the desire to murder her best friend and fiancé.

Ken tilted his head to one side and followed his grandfather's gaze back to the picture. "Who's that?"

"Those are two very dear friends of mine, Ken-kun," Hakuba said with fond remembrance. "I only wish you could have met them…"