She first discovered they go to the same university.

All the tingling anxieties about entering a new chapter in her life were cut short when she saw Shinichi, making the already rapid beating of her heart escalate further.

It can't be Shinichi was her first thought. Impossible.

Impossible, because even if she had no idea where in god's world he currently was, what in god's world he was doing even, somehow, she highly doubted he would apply to the same university without telling her. Once upon a time, surprising her could very well be his intention, but with the way things are, what could've been a pleasant surprise would just turn into a cruel joke.

An unpleasant feeling in her gut replaced the brief surge of excitement. Despite all the pain that may have been caused by him, Shinichi was not cruel, or at least, she knew he would never intend to be like that.

Her gaze probably lingered more than what she intended it to, because Not-Shinichi looked back and their eyes met. Briefly, she realized a part of her was willing to accept this cruel joke if it meant she could be with him again. It was laughable how pathetic she was at that moment.

But he did nothing she was hoping him to do—he neither stood up, nor approached her, nor even said "hello." Instead, he simply grinned before engaging in boisterous conversations with his peers again. The grin was casual, like what any friendly stranger could've just given to her, and it was enough to bring her back to reality. Even if their looks were very eerily similar, the casual smile, almost mischievous she just realized, that marked his face along with the messy brown locks sitting atop his head were all uncharacteristically Shinichi.

Therefore, it wasn't Shinichi.

For the sake of her sanity, she thought that was actually a good thing.

The next thing she discovered was that apparently, she shared about four subjects with Not-Shinichi. Since one may apply to whatever subject he or she preferred as long as it satisfied the unit requirement for their chosen course, it wasn't unusual for her to have different sets of classmates per subject.

Despite all the possible opportunities, she never really had any real interaction with him apart from exchanging brief smiles every now and then. Often times they just happened to sit at the opposite corners of the room so there really was no chance to do so. She wasn't exactly the type to seek interaction just for the sake of it, so not once did she dare to approach him . . . even if he happened to look like Shinichi.

Mentally, she smacked her head. Why should that even be a factor?

A series of amazed gasps broke her out of her musings, and she realized that Not-Shinichi once again was showing off his little magic tricks. Watching him from afar was enough for her to learn what sort of person he was. A jolly guy who loved being in the center of attention with his jokes and tricks, who possessed a goofy laugh escaping from his mouth from time-to-time.

"Do it again, Kuroba!"

He definitely wasn't Shinichi.

Their first, actual encounter in the university was unplanned, outside of their common classes, and involved several books falling and documents flying off the air. It wasn't even the impact that rattled her the most; rather, it was the fact that milliseconds before their collision, she could've sworn that Not-Shinichi actually called her out by first name, in a tone that was very Shinichi-like.

Being the first to recover, he ratted out apologies as he picked up the scattered objects on the floor. She remained completely still despite the aching of her back side, watching as he frantically gathered her belongings.

"Did you just call me . . . 'Ran?'"

Her words seemed to have struck him frozen. "I—uh—!"

"I . . . don't think we've even had a proper introduction."

Not-Shinichi laughed nervously. "Well, we are classmates in English, right? Not only that, but also History, Humanities—"

Her eyebrows furrowed. "That's not my point."

They both fell silent for a moment, paying no heed to the nosy gazes of the passersby along the corridor. Ran felt . . . odd. Suspicious. She wasn't even sure of what. Heck, she didn't even know where she wanted their conversation to head to. It was definitely absurd to start accusing that Not-Shinichi was actually Shinichi in disguise, right? Or Not-Shinichi was actually Shinichi trying to live a different life? Her mind was already spinning thinking of all the possibilities and impossibilities. What makes the slightest of sense in their current predicament even?

"Well . . . You are 'Ran,' aren't you, Mouri-san?" Not-Shinichi scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. "Sorry if I seemed to have stepped over some boundaries with that. But you are already pretty famous yourself, y'know?"

She raised an eyebrow at his remark. What did he mean? She was also a freshman just like him, right?

"Mouri Ran. Regional martial arts champion back in high school, the daughter of the master detective, 'Sleeping Kogoro.'" He paused as he gave her a strange, almost embarrassed look. "Not to mention, someone who's definitely a head turner . . . who apparently is fond of cute lacy underwear."

Immediately she followed where his gaze had been on and she realized her skirt had been flicked in a manner that exposed something that should not have been exposed due to her awkward sitting position. Face turning into a deep shade of red, she quickly whipped her arm towards him, intending to wipe that smug look on his face or make him look away (or both), but he managed to evade it by shielding himself with one of her books.

"It's nice to meet you too, Mouri-san," he said instead, laughing. Ran pursed her lips together, folding her arms after she fixed her skirt. He slowly brought the book down as if checking whether or not she still intended to hit him. "The name's Kuroba Kaito."

He extended his arm, offering his hand. She stared at it for a moment and frowned, remembering all his pranks in class. Particularly the one involving an electric shock buzzer.

"Hey, don't worry, no tricks!" he assured her as if reading her mind. With one rapid flick, a purple orchid appeared from his hand. He reached it towards her. "Well, at least not those sort of tricks you're thinking, anyway."

She finally took it from his hand, earning her a toothy grin. She sighed before the corners of her lips started to rise.

"Likewise, it's nice to meet you too, Kuroba-kun."

At that moment, all her suspicions about him were forgotten.

That was close, he thought, waaay too close.

He just had to bump into her of all the people in school. It wasn't that he was intentionally trying to avoid her—that was pretty much impossible since he technically would see her almost everyday for the next several months—but if he could help it, he'd rather not deal with people he encountered as Kid when he's currently himself.

Ran especially was someone he wished he wouldn't have to meet outside his Kaitou Kid persona for several reasons. For one, he had deceived her in more than one occasion, and as sweet as she was, Ran didn't really seem the type to take deception lightly. He didn't want to suffer from any bruises or broken bones secondary to deadly karate chops, thank you very much. Not only that, he deceived her by disguising as her beloved detective friend, and even if sometimes he did receive consent of said detective to do the act, it didn't change the fact that he played a massive part in playing with her emotions.

. . . Okay, maybe he does deserve that karate chop.

It also didn't help that dressing up as Tantei-kun was probably the most effortless disguise he had ever done in his phantom thief career. The tricky thing about dressing up as him was that it didn't give him enough tactile and visual feedback compared to wearing prosthetic makeup, considering he only needed his own face and some hair gel to pull off the 'Kudou Shinichi' look.

He only realized that it's much easier for him to shift from being Kuroba Kaito to being Kaitou Kid, if only due to massive difference of the weight—literally and figuratively—when he's donning his Kid costume. On the other hand, it was much more complicated to shift from being Kuroba Kaito to Kudou Shinichi and vice versa because as much as he hated to admit it, they were pretty much doppelgängers of each other. In all honesty, he thought that Kudou was actually a pretty good guy and did his field justice, but if he could avoid it he'd rather not be him. It was one thing to act as the Great Detective Kudou Shinichi—all he had to do was to shift his love for magic onto Kudou's passion and voice for 'discovering the truth' and all those detective crap and voila—he's Kudou! The role simply required him to bluff his way out of things and he could easily go about his plans. However, it's another thing to be Shinichi the boyfriend (or whatever the heck the status of their relationship was), especially when he's in the middle of a heist. He's already dealing with things that break the law, and he'd really rather not involve himself with breaking hearts too. . .

He sighed, recalling their encounter by the corridors. Up close, she really did bear a striking resemblance to Aoko, didn't she? He chuckled bitterly. Was this some sort of cruel joke by fate?

But even so, he didn't think he'd ever mistake Aoko for Ran or Ran for Aoko—that little incident made that pretty clear.

At the spur of the moment, he knew he had ran into Ran . . . and he had been careless. He had called her by her first name, even if technically, it was the first time they had met each other. Ran herself caught on the slip of his tongue, and he was relieved she seemed convinced of his excuse, or at least, he was successful in diverting her attention to something else. He realized that's the part he hated about disguising as Shinichi—his visual cue had been Ran herself, because he only ever saw Ran when he was Kid; therefore, when he sees Ran, it meant he's disguising as Kudou. Obviously, that wasn't the case anymore at present.

He groaned. Maybe he should just consider dropping his subjects. But what would he tell his mother? Hey mom, I won't go to university anymore because of this girl?

He groaned even more. Sounds ridiculous, especially for a phantom thief like him who went on stealing prized gems. Ran was just an ordinary girl, right? He has dealt with law enforcement officers, criminals and actual witches so she should be something he could handle.

But wasn't Aoko just an ordinary girl too and she had driven him crazy?

He scratched his head hard before collapsing onto his bed. Perhaps, this would be his downfall someday. Was this his karma for all the things he's done?

He closed his eyes, trying to think about his upcoming heists instead. He was pretty successful at first, but his last thoughts before succumbing to sleep was the image of Ran reaching for the flower in his hands.

Their next encounters had been pleasant, cordial at the most. Which shouldn't really bother Ran as much.

But it did.

Apart from some brief attempts of teasing, it's like he was being too nice, too careful in her presence, like every move he did with her had already been calculated in his head. She had seen the way he dealt with their classmates, how unfiltered he was in their exchanges and parlor tricks. Gender wasn't even a factor as she had seen him perform his silly pranks on boys and girls alike.

"I think he likes you," Sonoko pointed out.

She dismissed it quickly, because she felt like that wasn't the case. She has had her share of admirers before so she basically had an idea on how guys with ulterior motives act. Kuroba seemed like a different case. . . Like he was someone hiding something from her.

Sonoko shrugged. "Or maybe you just don't want to think that someone who happened to look like Shinichi-kun is having an interest you."

Ran frowned. What does Shinichi have anything to do with all of these?

Sonoko rolled her eyes. "With you, Ran, anything about love simply revolves around Mr. Detective."

Ran gave her a disbelieving look. Was Sonoko implying that she was having some sort of odd coping mechanism from Shinichi's disregard for her feelings?

Sonoko sighed in defeat. "Let's just forget about that guy, 'kay? Here." Sonoko took out a pamphlet from her purse which she handed to her. "Are you free this weekend?"

An art exhibition. Ran looked at the images of the various prized artifacts with awe. Apparently they were recovered from a coast in France. But Ran shook her head. She's supposed to visit her father during the weekends.

"You don't have to worry about that because I already invited your dad too! He actually confirmed he was going a while ago. Jirokichi-ojisama liked to make necessary precautions even though he hasn't left any cards yet."

Ran nodded in understanding. Sonoko was pertaining to Kaitou Kid, of course. Large gatherings related to priceless treasures were that guy's sort of thing.

"So, are you going?"

She nodded. Well, if her dad's going, she didn't she why she shouldn't.

"Great! Here."

Sonoko handed her another pamphlet. She gave her a puzzled look; didn't she already have one?

"Why don't you invite Kuroba-kun too?"

She let out an incredulous sound. Why him?

"Doesn't he seem like the sort of guy who'd be a fan of Kaitou Kid too? Magic tricks and all that!"

We aren't even sure if Kid is coming, Ran retorted back.

"That's because Uncle hasn't announced it to the public yet! I'm sure he'll dare Kid to get one of his prized possessions again." When Ran gave her an unconvinced look, Sonoko sighed. "Well, if Kid-sama doesn't come, isn't this also a way for you to know whether or not Kuroba-kun has any 'ulterior motives?' Or whatever you're suspecting him of, anyway."

Ran looked at the pamphlet, contemplating.

Kaito looked at the pamphlet, contemplating.

On one side, it was pretty funny. An invitation to the one of the famed exhibitions hosted by the Suzuki group first got to him, Kuroba Kaito, before 'Kaitou Kid' did. On the other hand. . .

He let out an exasperated sigh, turning on the television to distract himself.

Things were not going as he planned. Did he perhaps overthink it?

His game plan with dealing with Ran was to be careful as possible.

To put it simply, he'd rather be a distant classmate, at the very most a lowkey acquaintance to Ran because being close to her meant the possibility of her finding out about his secret identity, and that would just be a whole pandemonium in itself.

But somehow, his plan seemed to have backfired. He came up with it because he didn't want to deal with the situation like how he dealt it with Aoko. He didn't have to lie if they don't reach that point, right? Right . . . ?!

It just dawned to him the major error of his ways. He overlooked the fact that Ran herself was keen, just like her precious detective friend. It was already too late for him to change his "trickster" image.

He held up the pamphlet again. Should he or should he not accept her invitation? If he doesn't, would that make her even more suspicious? Especially if he does end up coming as Kaitou Kid. Or what if he just doesn't come as either? The rich old fart hasn't even announced anything yet.

As if on cue, the distinct sound of the news broadcasting system played on the television, showing a flash report. Suzuki Jirokichi graced the screens with his signature bald head and striking facial hairs.

"This Saturday, we will be opening our latest exhibit featuring the lost treasures from a French ship centuries ago! Everyone is invited to come, even you, Kid! Come, you white sinner, but I bet you won't get your hands on any of my prized gems!"

The corner of his mouth twitched. He wondered what would happen if even once, he stood that old man up. He chortled at the mental image of Jirokichi bracing for any attacks by him from early morning until midnight only to be met with nothing.

It was tempting to do to the old man if only for the laughs, but he shook his head, remembering the reason why he donned the white suit every time.

He has decided. It's not like this was his first time, right?

She told him to meet them at the corner of the street near the venue of the exhibit. He easily spotted her underneath a lamppost.

"R—!" Immediately he smacked his mouth shut with his palm.

You're not Kudou, he reminded himself.

"Mouri-san!" he corrected, waving his hand.

"Ah, Kuroba-kun."

Beside her was the infamous Mouri Kogoro, who likewise wasn't an entire stranger in his eyes having encountered him before as Kid. Still, he reached out his hand, introducing himself. The old guy simply grunted while giving him a strange look. Kaito didn't dwell on it too much and instead noticed the absence of a certain four-eyed runt.

"So," he began saying the moment her father was beyond earshot, "Mind telling me why you invited me here again?"

He noticed the flushing of her cheeks. Cute, he thought. "I told you, it was Sonoko's idea! She was convinced you're a Kaitou Kid fan, just like her."

"Mmhm. But I don't see why she couldn't have done it herself. Suzuki-san is in one of our classes too, right?"

She gave him an unamused look. "If you have something to say, Kuroba-kun, say it."

He obliged, showing a cheeky grin. "I think you invited me because you like me."

It seemed to have struck a nerve since he saw the immediate clenching of her fists.

"Relax, I'm just teasing you, Mouri-san," he quickly retorted, wanting to avoid being the receiving end of her dangerous-looking limb. She seemed to have calmed afterwards to his relief.

"So. . ." he tried again as they entered the building, "It's just you and your dad?"

"Huh?" She seemed briefly rattled about him speaking again but recovered almost immediately, "Oh, yes. Him and Mom already separated, so—"

"Oh! I'm sorry for asking—"

"It's fine. They're on speaking terms anyway and she visits me from time-to-time. Mostly though I stay with dad so I accompany him in gatherings."

"I see."

There was a brief moment of silence before Ran spoke again. "Well, before, there's also Conan-kun, but he's now overseas with his family, so. . ."

He raised an eyebrow at the new information. So Tantei-kun was no longer within arm's reach? He pondered on things for a while. Even if he told himself that he'd prefer not to disguise as Kudou for that night's heist, he'd be lying if he said it wasn't an option he considered. For some reason, seeing the dejected look on Ran's face was convincing him that he really shouldn't, regardless if she also knew about the little detective's secret.

"Is that Ran-chan?"

He turned to see two familiar teenagers around his age. The female, who had her hair up in a ponytail, skipped over to where Ran was and gave her a hug.

"Kazuha-chan!" Ran said, embracing the other back. He couldn't fight back a smile when he noticed her mood shifting for the better. "Hattori-kun!"

"Hey, nee-chan!" the other greeted back in his distinct accent, "Great to see ya again."

While the two ladies were engaged in their talk, he felt the watchful eye of Hattori Heiji piercing right through him. Ignoring the discomfiting lump on his throat, he held his hand out.

"You are Hattori Heiji-san, right?" Kaito initiated. There was no use of avoiding the situation since he was already there, anyway. "One of the famous highschool detectives from back then! I have heard of you."

Hattori continued looking at him closely, his thick eyebrows moving towards each other scrutinizingly. He did end up returning the handshake firmly. "That's me, alright. And you are?"

He managed to summon the friendliest smile he could offer and introduced himself. It wasn't the first time he encountered the Great Detective of the West too, and he just knew the guy wouldn't have a very favorable view on Kaitou Kid especially after that Fairy's Lip incident a.k.a. incident involving disguising as his beloved Kazuha. He chuckled on the inside, trying to think positively of all the recent developments, as troublesome as they could be for him. With Tantei-kun's apparent absence, it should make his heist later a bit interesting with Hattori around, no offense to Kogoro-san.

"If I may be frank," Hattori said in a dangerously low tone, making his heart sink, "what business do ya have 'ere?"

Kaito's gulped. What the heck are with these detectives and their scary observation skills? Did he know? Was his cover already blown before it even started?

"Who the heck are you to Ran-san?"


"Heiji!" came the scolding tone of Kazuha, who comically hit Hattori on the head. "What're you doin' threatening Ran-chan's friend!?"

"We're in the same class," Ran said, seemingly clarifying Kazuha's assumptions. He wanted to laugh, because what the heck was happening?! Ran then gave him a look, and somehow, he understood it said:

Don't you dare play with the fire.

"Actually, Mouri-san and I are dating" was very tempting to say, but he decided against it. It was very apparent that Hattori seemed protective over Ran, but because of what? It didn't take a genius to know that Hattori and Kazuha had a thing going on, but what's the deal with him and Ran? Did it have something to do with Kudou again?

What's the real score between Kudou and Ran, even?

"We're in the same class, indeed—humanities class, in particular! I've told Mouri-san that I'm actually pretty interested in arts so I was grateful she extended her invitation."

He decided to settle with the least troublesome response; technically it was also the truth, anyway. Ran seemed to appreciate it since it effectively silenced Hattori. It was all for the best; besides, he had far more important things to focus on.

He checked his watch. 10:31PM. Less an hour and a half before showtime.

Soon enough, they also met up with Sonoko who wasted no time in chatting with Ran. He took out the pamphlet, pretending to be immersed in reading the articles, but in reality, he was studying the map for routes to escape for later.

"Didja hear? I heard that detective guy from Britain is also comin'," he heard Kazuha say, to which Hattori groaned.

"Seriously? Don't really like that guy," he said, "He kinda gives the pompous prick vibe, y'know what I mean?"

Kaito's urge to laugh increased, but he was thankful for his self-control. Looks like he had something common with Hattori. Maybe they could end up being friends.

Kazuha suddenly looked pretty sullen, and whispered her next words. Not loud enough for Ran to hear, but unintentionally loud enough for him. "But y'know, Heiji, with you detectives here, I kinda wish Kudou-kun was here too."

Kaito realized he could make that happen. With the presence of all the detectives in the area, it was easily the least difficult route if worse came to worst.

He looked at Ran. But what would be the cost of his actions?

He sighed, taking his transceiver from his pocket.

"Jii-chan, are you ready?"

It was a complete chaos. While it wasn't something new to Ran, especially for her who had been involved in solving numerous murder cases, it didn't make her any less rattled. Nevertheless she listened intently to the detectives accompanying her.

Almost an hour ago, they had been looking over at the exhibit in peace. She was almost surprised to see Kuroba actually taking an interest on all the artworks, or at least he seemed to be since he was almost always in deep thought when looking at them. He didn't even make any attempts to do any advances towards her, which meant Sonoko was definitely wrong.

"Are you disappointed?" Sonoko asked as soon as she pulled Ran a distance away from Kuroba, who was busy checking some antiques behind a glass case.

Ran denied it, ignoring the flushing of her cheeks.

"You know, I kinda didn't expect that a trickster guy like him would be a man of culture. I bet he'd nerd out even more when Jirokichi-ojisama opens the grand exhibit later on!"

Ran didn't say it out loud, but she did think so too. Thinking about it, did he accept her invitation because of Kid, or was it because of the art itself? He didn't confirm nor deny he was a fan, so. . .

She looked over at Kuroba's figure, who seemed to be reading the descriptions of the antique. She just hoped Kid wouldn't spoil his overall experience.

Almost five minutes ago, Sonoko's uncle announced the opening of the grand exhibit, haughtily calling out Kaitou Kid on stage. Beside her, Sonoko was busy speaking with Kazuha. She looked to her right and saw Kuroba smiling.

"Are you excited to see the new exhibit, Kuroba-kun?"

The dim lighting of the room hid his eyes in the shadows, but she saw the smile erupting further on his face.

"I am."

Almost three minutes ago, a card was sent flying towards the stage, just when Sonoko's uncle was unveiling the briefcase with said gem in it. She looked over where the card came from and saw a white figure emerging from the window.

"CATCH HIM!" Sonoko's uncle howled, directing his security personnel towards the thief. But Kid brought out his gun, releasing a net which caught Jirokichi and his men. Kid then snapped his finger, causing all doors of the stadium to open. He released a series of smoke bombs and confetti which caused a few to gasp in awe and several to scream in panic.

"MOURI-SAN!" she heard Kuroba call him out, but she was being pulled away by the sea of people towards the left. She last saw him being dragged away, along with Sonoko, Kazuha, and her dad, towards the right exit.

It had been a mind-turning experience, with mass of bodies running for the doors while smoke and bits of paper filled the air. She only felt herself being pulled by the arm by someone, who she soon discovered to be Hattori. And because she was with Hattori, one of the hired detectives for the exhibition, she learned that what Jirokichi showed on stage was in fact a replica. Apparently, Kid already knew that but still put on a show. At that moment, he was on the way to where the real gem was.

Now, she, Hattori, and Hakuba Saguru were on a chase.

"Ya really sure y'wanna come with us, nee-chan?"

To be honest, Ran herself didn't know what pushed her to come along. She could've easily stayed with the other visitors while waiting for the security personnel to sort things out with Kid, but. . .

"Positive," she retorted back, keeping up with the two detectives running with her. Behind them, the security personnel were trying to keep up their pace.

"To be honest, I myself would prefer that a lady like Mouri Ran-san stays behind," Hakuba said, "We may be heading for something dangerous."

"Hey, nee-chan could defend herself well."

She smiled at Hattori in gratitude, "I'll be fine, Hakuba-kun."

Hakuba seemed to think otherwise, but didn't say anything else. They soon reached a crossroad—one led to a narrow, spiral stairway, while another led to an immense hallroom.

"It would be wise for us to split up," Hakuba said, "Hattori Heiji-kun, you go to the hallroom with the security personnel, I'll go to the stairway."

Hattori didn't seem to appreciate being bossed around, but barged into the hallroom, anyway. She was left with Hakuba along with some of the personnel. Hakuba started ascending the spiral stairway.

"I'll go with you, Hakuba-kun," Ran offered, as she started to ascend the stairs too.

"Wait, Mouri Ran-san, you stay here with the security. The staircase doesn't seem very sturdy."

She gazed down to see that the staircase was indeed made of a flimsy metal material, seemingly not made to be ascended by several people.

"Then I'll go up right after you reach the top."

"It's better if you stay here," Hakuba said, face frowning, "Kid is dangerous."

Ran found herself disagreeing. Kid may be a thief, but. . .

"Forgive me, Mouri Ran-san, but we're racing against time here." Hakuba ascended the stairway further. "Should I need back-up, I will not hesitate to call the security. Besides, I need you to stay here. Kid might escape somewhere from here."

Ran was left with no choice but to agree, staying vigilant with the remaining personnel as they listened to his footsteps dying down. She turned her head to the side, seeing the enormous windows of the building which allowed the moonlight to shine through. Now that she think about it, the four corners of the building had similar architectures, meaning they've reached the other end of the facility.

Kaitou Kid. . . Moonlight. . . Why did that seem familiar?

Then she remembered it. The airship. The jewel, Lady Sky.

She began ascending the stairway, startling the personnel.


"Don't worry, I'll be back," she assured them, "Please stay here."

By the time she reached the top, she witnessed Hakuba standing by the windows that reached the ceiling, his back facing her. He seemed to be holding something, his arm extended upwards to the moon's direction.

"Mouri Ran-san," he said without turning, most likely already aware of her presence due to her noisy ascent, "Didn't I tell you it's dangerous here?"

"I don't see anything dangerous here." Ran treaded slowly towards him. "Or anyone, for the matter, Hakuba-kun."

Hakuba finally turned. He was smirking. "Are you sure about that, my lady?"

"Yes, not even you, Hakuba-kun. Or should I say. . ."

Ran stopped just a few meters away from him.

"Kaitou Kid?"

'Hakuba' smiled, and with a quick swipe of his hand removed his disguise, revealing Kid. The white fabric of his suit glowed underneath the moonlight.

"Is it true, Ran-san? You do not find me dangerous?"

Ran's eyebrows furrowed. "You may be a thief, or a pervert, but. . ."

He laughed. "You're still upset about that?"

She crossed her arms, pouting. "Who wouldn't be?"

Footsteps were then heard by the stairway, causing Ran to turn back briefly. In that short amount of time, Kid took the opportunity to charge towards her, pressing a finger to her lips.

"My apologies for that then, Ran-san. That time. . . it was the only way I knew how to reveal the truth to you."

His face was close to hers, shadows occluding his eyes with a smile that seemed . . . oddly familiar. Perhaps, it was much like the time when they were alone at the top of the airship, with the faint brightness of the moonlight illuminating the surroundings. Heat rose up her face at the memory.

"I'm afraid we have to cut short our conversation, however. Would you also do me a favor?"

Kid placed something in her hand and pushed her away, causing her to tip backwards and fall. He then ran to the open window and aimed his grappling gun to a nearby tree, but panicked when he witnessed Ran reacting quickly as she stood up and dashed after him with an obviously annoyed look on her face. He threw another smoke bomb in front of them which occluded her view, and when the smoke cleared, she only saw a white figure souring in the skies. She also realized that he returned the jewel to her hand.

"I can't believe that thief tricked me again!" Hattori was obviously more than upset. Kazuha was by his side, trying to appease him.

The venue was peaceful again, and she was reunited with the others who got stuck at the other side of the building. Sonoko approached her and was practically shaking her arm. "Is it true though, Ran?! You were the one who stopped Kid-sama?!"

"I didn't technically stop him, but I did discover that he was apparently Hakuba Saguru-kun."

"Aww, I wish we could've witnessed that! Right, Kuroba-kun?!"

Said guy was standing at the corner, shoulders jolting upon being called. "Right. I mean, the stunt he did at the exhibit hall was pretty lame. My magic tricks are definitely better."

An old man at the other end of the hall sneezed loudly just when Ran thought that that wasn't something a fan of Kid would've said.

"I feel like this had been a waste of my time," her father said, who apparently had been stuck in the room with the rest of them.

"Don't say that, ojisama! Ran had her moment to shine!"

They all laughed. Ran noticed a single leaf on Kuroba's head. She gestured to her own. "You have umm, have something."

"Huh?" He slowly reached out his right arm to his head, slightly wincing in the process. He then used his left instead but still kept on missing it, so she patted it herself. "Oh! That must've gotten stuck when I . . . uhh, fell from the stairs and bumped into a plant in all the commotion. . ."

Ran eyed the stairs and there was in fact, a broken potted plant on the platform. "I see. . . Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm okay—ATATATA!"

Ran pursed her lips together, releasing her grip on his arm. "You're not okay."

"I'll be okay, then," he stubbornly corrected. She looked at his tired face and concluded that the commotion earlier must've stressed him out.

She held his other arm, the uninjured one, and started dragging him towards the first aid section.

"Wait, I said I'll be okay, there's no need—"

"I invited you here so I hold some responsibility," she responded without looking at him.


"Kuroba-kun," she said simply in warning. He sighed in defeat and obliged.

His week started with an arm cast that caused several worried sentiments from his classmates. Which he already anticipated so he had prepared various scripts for the occasion.

"I was mastering my tightrope crossing skills when the rope broke off due to my coolness."

"I broke it while trying to lift a coffin with one arm!"

"I attempted juggling three baby gorillas."

All classmates reacted the same, chuckling heartily at his responses. He never did tell any of them the actual truth, the real lame reason behind the sprain.

"Really, Mouri-san, there's no need to feel guilty."

While it was partly true that Ran was the reason why his escape plan didn't go smoothly, it was his own stupidity that caused the injury in the first place. There was only a little truth to the "falling on the stairs and hitting a plant" story, because he actually just bumped onto the poor plant along the way while he was going back in haste. The actual injury happened minutes before that, just after he threw the smoke bomb in front of her. It wasn't just her vision that got obscured with the smoke, and it caused his hand to overshoot from the grappling hook which led to him falling onto some bushes on the ground (which unfortunately also led to him breaking said grappling hook in the process). The "white figure" that flew in the sky was simply a decoy, because he did have to run back to the venue where the others were.

But Ran didn't know any of that, of course.

"It's just food, Kuroba-kun. Just accept it, please."

He stared at Ran, who stood unyielding right in front of him at the cafeteria, offering a paper bag. He took it from her with his free hand.

"How do you suggest I'd eat this, though?" He nudged the limb covered in the cast. "I mean, this is my good arm. Are you going to feed me?"

"Pssh. Silly. Those are rice balls."

"Heh. I knew that."

She sat across from him, taking out her own lunch box. It had the same rice balls. Ran wasted no second eating hers, and then looked away. He realized he must've made her self-conscious since he was staring.

"If you don't eat that, I'll feel offended."

"Oh! So you made these." He grinned. "What an honor."

He then chuckled, looking at the neatly-presented food before taking a bite. It was good. He could get used to this.

Sonoko joined them soon enough. He pretended not to notice the cheeky, teasing looks that Sonoko was giving to the flustered Ran.

It didn't take him long to realize that her concerns weren't just limited to food. Right after English class, she handed him a bunch of papers.

"Mouri-san, what's this?"



"Notes from class. You said it was your good arm that got injured, so…"

He chuckled, taking the papers. He could really get used to this. "You really shouldn't have bothered, Mouri-san. But thank you."

"It's nothing big."

"Isn't anybody going to get jealous if you keep pampering me like this, though?"


"Isn't Kudou gonna get jealous" was what he wanted to say, but how should he say it, given that he shouldn't technically know about him?

"I mean. . . it feels like you're a nosy girlfriend. Or to be more specific, a nosy mom."

Her cheeks became red and she seemed ready to pounce him. He quickly raised his uninjured arm in defense, making her remember the cast present on his arm. She calmed down significantly.

"Nobody," she mumbled.

He thought he heard it wrong. "What?"

Her gaze fell to the ground. "I said, there is nobody."

He watched her for a long second. "Well, if you say so."

The sullen look in her face didn't go away. A pang of guilt snapped at him.


The moment she looked at him, he whipped out a mini gun from his sleeve and shot her with confetti, making her a shriek in surprise.

He showed a toothy grin. "I look forward for tomorrow's menu, then!"

She didn't say anything, instead patting the small bits of paper out of her hair. Her face had a mix of annoyance and mild amusement. He grinned even wider.

"Whoops, I think I made a mess," he said pertaining to scattered confetti on the floor, "Could you kindly clean that up too, Mouri-san?"

Then she finally exploded, pinching his cheek hard.

"Excuse me?! Who am I, your personal maid?!"


Seeing he managed to shift her mood made the cheek-pinching worth it.

A week had passed since the incident at the art exhibit. Meaning a week had also passed since she started doing things for Kuroba out of her own will. He did manage to talk her out of note-taking for him, however.

"There's no need for you to take notes for me, Mouri-san. I have just trick for that!"

When she asked what, he took out his smartphone and aimed it at her face, and a distinct 'click' sound was heard.

"I could simply take photos of your notes, you know. Not everyone has old fashioned flip phones like you—ATATAT!"

She shook her head at the memory. The nerve of that guy!

It then left her with one thing to do.

Preparing lunch.

Personally, she didn't mind it. She got used to preparing more than enough food for her after living with her father for long. Perhaps, it was also her way of lessening the guilt in relation to Kuroba's injury.

It was Saturday morning. She had just left her dormitory and was on the way to her father's house. She reached the neighborhood in no time, and gazed at a familiar looking house, her landmark for a specific street.

The street going to Shinichi's house.

Admittedly, she developed a habit of looking at its direction every time, with the hope of seeing him by the gates, that perhaps one day he'll come home. It was a bad habit, she knew, especially if she wanted to move on.

The thought made her stop in her tracks. Should she perhaps start stopping now? It would be for her own good. . .

Her head was still upright, gaze straight ahead. Her hands felt clammy.

She sighed, it wouldn't hurt to look one last time, right?

She looked to the side, expecting the street to be completely empty like the many times she had gazed upon it.

It was, not a soul was seen. She sighed. But the moment she gazed forward again, her eyes widened.

A guy wearing a cap just walked out from Professor Agasa's gate. The height, the body built, was it—

He stopped in his tracks upon seeing her, just like she did. She saw a clearer view of his face, his hair, his arm covered in an arm sling.

It wasn't Shinichi.

"M-Mouri-san!" came his startled voice.


"What brings you here?" he asked first, placing down the large paper bag he had been carrying.

"I live nearby," she replied simply, "I should be asking you that question. What brings you here? You have business with the professor?"

"Well. . . My mother knows the professor and she asked me to claim some stuff from him, yeah. I'm going home now."

Ran nodded, eyeing the paper bag. She couldn't see what exactly was inside, but it seemed to be a metal object. "I see. That looks heavy, though. Why don't I carry it for you until the station?"

She attempted to reach for the handles of the bag when Kuroba blocked her. She tried again.

"Nonsense, Mouri-san, I can do it myself—"

"Kuroba-kun, it's fine—"

His hand enveloped her wrist, completely stopping her from moving altogether.

"Mouri-san," he repeated. "I'm okay. I can do it."

An assuring smile appeared on his face. His grip was still around her, firm yet gentle at the same time. It caught her off-guard.

"F-fine. Then if you're already okay, don't expect any lunch from me this Monday!"

"Wait, no, that's not what I meant!"

She smirked triumphantly as he tried to change her mind, tugging at her arm helplessly. Warmth trickled her cheeks, and she convinced herself it was simply because of the humid weather. It was almost summer, after all.

His arm fully recovered another week after, and he found that Ran opted to spend time with him even when her responsibilities for him were technically over. She, and by extension Sonoko, had been his usual companions even outside of class.

Whatever happened to his plan of staying away from Ran? He didn't know.

Was their companionship simply something that formed out of the habit caused by the incident? He wasn't sure.

Was he perhaps just there to fill the hole that Kudou left them in? He wasn't certain.

But what he knew was that it was hard for him the resist the happier smiles he witnessed from Ran, compared to her sad longing the few times he had to be Kudou.

Soon enough, summer vacation came before he even realized it. Kaito was ecstatic of course, free time was something he greatly appreciated.

One day, he received an SMS he wasn't expecting.

It was from Aoko.

They met at a nearby café in their neighborhood. A faint flutter in his heart danced when he saw her again. It was almost a year since they last saw each other. She still looked the same.

They talked about many things, bantering about the most trivial stuff. It was almost as if the heart aches never existed between the two of them. Kaito cherished the little moments, and as cheesy as it sounded, he wished it would last forever.

It soon came to a point where they ran out of topics to speak about. The ice cubes on his drink had completely melted.

Then her phone rang. She excused herself, walking further away from him as she answered it. He didn't miss her smiles and blushes the moment she did. She caught him staring at her, and it was too late for him to conceal the sad smile apparent on his face.

His own phone vibrated, and without thinking he unlocked it, only to be greeted by a photo of Ran wearing a white top hat with a sticker filter of a monocle over her right eye. Her smile, unsurprisingly, seemed rather annoyed.

I told her she'd be perfect as Kid-sama's assistant, Sonoko captioned on her MMS.

An amused snort escaped his nose. If it were probably a different person, he would have been convinced it was their way of implying that they knew his about his secret. Yet it was Sonoko, who was rather . . . simple-minded about those sort of stuff. She's probably still riding the train of thought that he was a fan of Kaitou Kid.

Aoko returned, and he immediately shut the screen of his smartphone. An awkward silence followed.

"A friend of yours?" he initiated.

"Yeah, I guess you could say that. . ."

There was a distinct pause. Aoko twirled the straw on her drink.

"It's actually Saguru-kun. . . An overseas call so I had to take it."


A faint, discomfiting weight skipped in his gut, yet he ignored it. It was something he expected it, something he was just waiting for her to say.

"Kaito," she began, breaking the silence this time, "Is there someone you already like?"

A thin line formed in his lips.

He wasn't sure.

He stared at the blank screen of his smartphone.

"You seem happy though, Aoko," he said instead, changing the topic, hoping she wouldn't pursue the topic any further. "I'm glad."

Thankfully, she didn't. It was something he didn't really want to face yet.

"I hope you find your happiness too, Kaito."

A warm smile appeared on her face, sending him the same bittersweet flutters.

"And if you do find that someone, I'd be sure to tell them about your fondness for fish!"

Goosebumps erupted from his skin as she chortled evilly.

"That's so mean, Aoko. How could you say that when I bought this flower for you?"

He took out a yellow rose from his jacket, a gesture that surprised her. Before she had any time to think, he squeezed the stem which caused a beam of water to splash directly on her face.


He burst into laughter, tears forming at the corners of his eyes. "I can't believe you fell for that, Ahoko!"

She grabbed the flower and smacked it on his head. Despite being seemingly upset, he found her mirroring his hysterics soon enough. Hearing her sincere, jovial laughter made something heavy being finally lifted off his shoulders.

Three days before summer vacation came to an end, he received a call from Sonoko while he was out jogging. Initially, he chuckled. Was she bored again and was inviting him over to some extravagant family rest house? An opening to some brand new amusement park owned by her family? The possibilities were endless. Being friends with a multimillionaire heiress did have its perks.

The moment he swiped 'answer,' however, Sonoko's unusually distressed voice reached his ear.

After hearing her explanation, he rushed to their meeting place.

"Sorry, Kuroba-kun! I didn't know who else to call."

He forced a smile, trying to mask his worry. "It's fine."

Apparently, Ran was sick. It was probably just some common fever and colds, so it wasn't something to be massively troubled about, but he felt worried, nonetheless. Sonoko's panicked cries from earlier didn't help at all.

"Where's her father?"

"On a business trip, apparently, so she's alone at their house. Her mom's coming over later tonight."

"I see."

"Actually, Ran told me that there's no need for us to come, but. . . that girl, she likes putting up a strong front even if she's really hurting on the inside."

Kaito said nothing, listening on.

"That's why that guy Shinichi really pisses me off. He made Ran wait for so long only to leave her hanging!"

"Shinichi?" he asked, pretending not to know.

"Ran's . . ." Sonoko seemed to search for words, only to ending up grabbing her own hair in frustration, "How should I even describe him when they weren't even together?! Well he's her childhood friend, that's for sure, and I know very well that they have the mutual like-love thing going on them. But then he just disappeared! And just messaged her whenever he felt like it!"

His eyebrows furrowed, his gaze sinking to the ground. Ran definitely didn't deserve that.

"Ran told me they actually met one day and she found the courage to confess. . . But years after making her wait, did you know what he did? He just rejected her. With no explanations. Can you believe it? The nerve of that guy!"

And yet, he understood where Kudou was coming from. He still did not find it in himself to talk, which Sonoko didn't seem to take offense in.

She sighed. "Sorry, I think I might have said too much. . . But it's just frustrating. I just want Ran to be happy, you know."

He slowly nodded. He too, understood where Sonoko was coming from.

They soon reached a particular point of District 5 of Beika town, and he glanced at the floors above Café Poirot—Mouri Detective Agency. Sonoko guided him up, and he kept up with the act that it was his first time going there. They reached the third floor, and Sonoko pressed certain buttons on the digital lock which clicked the door open. It was a proof of their trust and friendship, he noted, and he was glad Ran had Sonoko despite everything.

The family quarters were empty, quiet. A faint sound of sniffles could be heard from one of the rooms.

"Ran, we're here," Sonoko said, and soon, she entered what seemed to be her room. He was about to follow when he realized it was Ran's room. Don't some girls have something against guys entering their rooms? The line of thought was disrupted when he saw Sonoko impatiently gesturing him to come inside too. He complied, and set his gaze on the girl resting.

Ran's eyes closed, and she was breathing heavily. "Sonoko . . . Didn't I tell you there's no need to come?"

He stood uncomfortably, clenching his fists. Something ached in his chest seeing the usually headstrong Ran confined in bed.

"Of course I'd come! There's no way I wouldn't after knowing you're unwell and alone! Wait here while I prepare your food."

And then she just left, running off to kitchen. He stood frozen. Should he say something?

He tried, anyway, grabbing a chair and sitting across from her. "Anything I could do for you?"

She didn't respond immediately, and for a while, he thought that maybe she had fallen asleep. He decided to look around her room. His gaze paused on a framed image of her and Kudou during their younger years.

He didn't notice she was already aware about his presence.

"Yes . . . Don't just barge into my room . . . Kaitou . . . Kid."

His heart almost stopped.

"I'm . . . calling the police . . . You'd be caught in broad daylight . . . "

Nevermind how ridiculous she sounded with her extremely nasal voice attempting to be tough and threatening! This was Ran he was talking about, who seemed to be suspicious towards him in the first place. He was about to retract her accusations when he looked down, realizing he was wearing his white tracksuit.


He shook his head, trying to contain his chuckle, hoping he had the correct hunch.

"Mouri-san," he began carefully, "how could you mistake me for someone less cool than I am?"

Her eyebrows slowly rose, her eyelids half-opening. "Oh, Kuroba-kun. . . ?"

He rejoiced in the most subtle way possible.

"What are you doing here. . . ?"

"Visiting you, of course. How could I ignore a friend in need?"

She sniffled, her nose obviously clogged. "Really. . . That Sonoko. . . I already drank my medicine so she shouldn't have bothered you for this. . . "

"Bothered me? Not at all, Mouri-san."

And then she grew quiet again. He gently placed the back of his hand on her forehead. It was definitely a fever. He took a wet cloth from a basin beside her and place it on her forehead.

The touch seemed to stir her awake, and she mumbled again. "What was that heavy thing?"

He looked at her puzzled. Was she talking about the wet cloth?

"In the paper bag? From Professor Agasa's house?"

Oh, that. It was the grappling hook that got broken partly because of you, he wanted to tell her. Her question was completely random, yet he decided to humor her, anyway. With how feverish she was she'd probably not remember their exchange.

"It's something meant to help me steal precious treasures and hearts."

". . . For a second there, I really thought I've been talking to Kid."

"If you're accusing me of those sort of things, might as well go along, right? Don't call the police, though!"

She made a soundless laughter before breathing heavily. "Thank you, Kuroba-kun."

The smile she managed to muster caused his cheeks to flush. Man, was he feeling feverish too or what?

"Please get well, Mouri-san."

Second term began.

She noticed something about Kuroba. She no longer felt that invisible wall that he seemed to surround himself with whenever he interacted with her. From all the times she's spent with him the past few months, she had felt nothing but sincerity and concern, and a massive part of her was thankful for having him as a friend.

On the other hand, a part of her felt afraid.

Her heart felt vulnerable with every kindness and mirth he had shown towards her.

With Kuroba's charm, sense of humor and wit, it was no wonder how popular he was amongst the first years in the university. More than once she had felt some jealous glances from some group of girls whenever she was with him. On one occasion, she even found herself having the nervous butterflies in her stomach the moment Kuroba placed his arm around her shoulder as they passed by those particular group of girls (though she did smack his arm away as soon as they turned around a corner).

Quickly she dismissed those feelings. Kuroba was a precious friend, nothing more, and she shouldn't interpret his displays of kindness as him having romantic feelings towards her or some sort. She could already imagine Sonoko's teasing remarks if those realizations came to light.

At the back of her head, she also didn't want to repeat the same mistake she did before.

At the second term, advanced classes for their first term subjects had also commenced, including Humanities. One of the requirements for passing included spending a weekend at the mountains—meaning excruciating cold weather.

Why their professor had to book some lodging at a mountainous range to give some lecture rather than just their classroom was probably something they'd learn later on. The old guy did have unconventional ways of teaching them.

One of the branches in humanities was the performing arts, and their professor flashed a series of well-known artists and performers on the screen which didn't particularly interest Kaito. Judging from the yawns of some classmates, they probably thought the same. It wouldn't be surprising if one of them had fallen asleep already. It was winter and it was warm and cozy inside, definitely the perfect place for a snore fest.

Until it reached a certain slide.

Phantom Thief 1412.

Kaitou Kid.

A familiar gasp was heard followed by a tender, almost worshipping whisper of 'Kid-sama.' He had to hold off his laughter. As expected from his number one fan, Suzuki Sonoko.

"Kaitou Kid could be considered as one of the infamous performing artists of this age for reasons I'm sure you all know. He basks in the spotlight of the media, the whole world watching him through the lenses of broadcasting cameras, at the expense of his life and going against the law."

He rested his chin under his hand. Well, he isn't wrong about that.

"One may think however, what are his intentions in doing so? Because in all the heists that he'd been on, he returns all what he has 'stolen.' Any thoughts?"

"He likes the free publicity? I mean he's giving a show without paying for anything yet he has lots of supporters."

"He's probably a major attention seeker."

"He probably wants to ridicule the flawed security systems of those rich guys. No offense, Suzuki!"

Hmm, there's probably some truth to all of those.

The lecture ended soon enough, and their professor advised them to roam around cabins and appreciate the works of art inside and outside alike. They chose to go outside to observe the lines of statues placed meters away from the lodgings. It was partly cloudy, the chilly air brushing against their skin.

"What do you think about our lecture?" Ran asked him.

The question caught him off-guard. There was it again. . . Detective Ran and her nerve wracking questions.

"It was . . . fine, I guess?" The curious look on her face didn't change. "Why the sudden interest in my thoughts?"

"Aren't you interested in arts? I'm curious to know what you think about those artists."


"That's right!" Sonoko interjected, "You were seriously like some art curator back in the exhibit."

He formed a sheepish grin. So he did manage to make it seem like he was preoccupied about the exhibits when he was actually thinking about his escape plans.

"Meh, they're all okay, I guess," he said, smoothly going along and feigning disinterest, "Tabata Teshi, Dama Sechi are most notable maybe, but overall, so-so."

"Not even Kid-sama?!"

"Well, okay, he's probably among the cooler ones in that bunch." Unsurprisingly his response delighted Sonoko. Ran on the other hand, seemed to be in deep thought.

"What do you think about Kaitou Kid's motives, though?

Her expression didn't change. Sweat began to form around his neck despite the cold weather, so he loosened his scarf. "I think the class managed to give convincing answers, actually. Personally, I like Konami-san's answer about Kid wanting to piss Suzuki-san's uncle off by breaching the security every time."

Sonoko chuckled. "Kid-sama does get on Jirokichi-ojisama's nerves. He always manages the break the security despite how updated they are."

"I think Kid wants to make a statement about improving the security for prized treasures? I mean, it's like he's one of those hired professional hackers in companies only he does it by his own volition. Out of love for art, perhaps?" He managed to say it flawlessly so he hoped he made a pretty convincing argument already. Ran's expression still didn't change however.

"Sometimes I think it's more than just making a statement. I mean . . . he is putting his life on the line."

He shrugged. "Well, maybe he is just crazy passionate on art." He paused, hesitating on saying his next words. "What made you think it's more than just making a statement, though?"

"I don't know. For some reason, I've gotten the impression that he's searching for something."

"Searching for something?" Sonoko repeated.

"Yeah. The reason why he keeps on returning the gems is because it isn't what he's searching for."

He stared at her for a moment, speechless.

Then Sonoko broke the silence with a laugh.

"So it's like Kid-sama is searching for that one precious gem? How romantic, Ran! I think you have a pretty active imagination! What made you say that?"

Ran scratched the back of her neck." I don't know. Maybe I'm just overthinking, after all!"

Kaito released a heavy sigh in relief. He pointed to one of the statues they had been approaching, intending to completely change the topic.

"Hey, take a look at that! It looks like some monster from a horror movie?"

"Oh, you are so right, Kuroba-kun! Imagine seeing this at night!"

"I-I'd really rather not, Sonoko," Ran mentioned, looking noticeably pale. Seems like she wasn't a big fan of anything physically terrifying. Should he perhaps tease her about that?

"Hey, there are actually rows of statues here with different themes! There are some more monsters here! There's giant bird statue too, and is that a fish?!"

He took a peek on what she's talking about and true enough, it was indeed those dastardly sea creatures. A whole pack of them, actually, with terrifyingly intricate details. Terrible goosebumps appeared beneath his skin.

"Hey, why are the two of you suddenly so quiet?!" Sonoko interjected.

On the second thought, teasing her would probably be a bad idea.

Their little field trip for Humanities went on, and after passing by all of the statues outside, they retired back to the lodgings. Which Ran greatly appreciated, because it took much of her willpower to go through them all. Apart from the chillier climate as the sun descended, Ran would absolutely rather not to see those creepy monsters in dim lighting. Though Sonoko jokingly mentioned that they should definitely check out that small hut at the end of all the statues during night time. Ran of course, refused, and surprisingly, Kuroba shared the same sentiments.

Their professor debriefed them of the activities for the next day. Apparently, a bunch of upper class performing arts majors would assist them in their class the following day to showcase some sort of play regarding a murder.

Along with a detective that had been famous since high school, apparently.

"Sorry Ran, but I seriously hope it's not Shinichi-kun."

Sonoko was very blunt, a trait that she both liked and not really liked so much.

She mustered a small smile at Sonoko, but didn't make any verbal response. Her feelings for Shinichi wouldn't just really disappear, no matter how much she wanted them to.

She spent the rest of her day discussing and hanging out with their other classmates, engaging in discussions related and not related to their subject. Ran appreciated it, because it took her mind off to that guest detective that apparently was already staying somewhere in their lodgings.

It came to a point where the topic was shifted to something else that she'd rather not talk about.

One of the rooms was apparently haunted.

If Ran could simply just cover her ears, or heck, leave the discussion entirely, she would have. But it seemed that everyone else was eager to hear to stories so she decided to bear with it. Kuroba seemed to notice her unease, and approached her.

"Just think logically, Mouri-san," he advised, "Preoccupy your mind with mathematical equations so your logical side would take over you. The next thing you'll know, you're no longer afraid!"

She nodded. "I'll try to keep that in mind."

"How did it all come to this" was a statement that Kaito often used in his life, especially in dire situations.

The sentence was applicable to his current predicament.

His mind was actually spinning as he tried to recall what prompted it to happen.

They were talking about ghost stories at the lodgings. Ran couldn't find Sonoko. Ran came up with the conclusion that she must've went to that hut. Ran charged outside the lodgings even with the minor snow storm. Minor snowstorm apparently wasn't very minor since it caused the electricity to go out. He ran after Ran despite the low light. He regretted not bringing a flashlight. He went on against the storm anyway. He saw the line of the dastardly fish statues. He closed his eyes and ran even more. He reached the end and saw Ran crouched by the door of the shed.

Despite his own irrational fears, he swallowed it down and guided Ran inside. She seemed to be in a state of daze, shivering both in fear and cold.

The winds were starting to violently howl outside. There was no light source either, and Kaito for the second time regretted not bringing any of his light tricks up his sleeves.

Truly, he was also afraid. Terrified. It may sound ridiculous, but he tried not to think that outside the freakish statues had come to life and those titan fish have surrounded the shed, ready to devour them as their gunky fins hurl them in their sloppy scaly mouths—

He shuddered disgracefully and immediately brushed the thought out, because it was totally not helping him. Following his own advice, he began to whisper simple mathematical equations in an attempt to preoccupy his mind when Ran began huddling closely to him, her shoulders shaking. He realized she was already crying. Witnessing her actions seemed to be the more effective approach to combat his fear since it successfully brought out his protective side. Despite his clattering teeth, he doffed the scarf around his neck and placed it around her.

"It's alright, Ran," he said, embracing her closer. He hoped that their classmates actually noticed they left so they'd come after them. "I'm here."

She shifted her head, trying to have a good look at him despite the darkness.


It wasn't the first time she mistook him for Kudou. Yet it was the first time a painful pang struck him deep in the chest, aching both in relief and sadness.

Relief, because he was assured that she was fine despite the freezing temperature. Sadness, because he wasn't him.

You're not Kudou, he reminded himself. And never will he be.

He didn't affirm what she said, unlike the time when they escaped the collapsing gallery of the Sunflowers. He neither denied it too. Instead, he simply held her closer, hoping the storm would subside soon.

"Did Shinichi come?"

Sonoko gave her the most incredulous look. "No?"

Ran had been resting in a clinic after suffering from mild hypothermia due to running off in a snowstorm without wearing her coat. The embarrassing part about it was that she ran out of impulse, because Sonoko didn't go to the hut and apparently just had a situation in the restroom.

Her memories were a blur after she had exited the lodgings. The feeling of mangled monsters chasing after her was one thing she recalled, the other thing was that someone ran after her and took care of her until help came.

Sonoko began shaking her head, holding Ran's hand. "Could you do me a favor and forget about that guy for a second? Why would he even be there?"

Ran didn't respond. She knew he called her by her name.

"Just to be clear with you too, the guest detective was Masumi-san."

Ran nodded slowly.

But then, who was that person, who she even heard was chanting numbers? The voice was very familiar, almost like Shinichi. . .

Or was she just convinced she had been with Shinichi all along?

She gathered all the facts and it dawned to her. She didn't need to ask Sonoko who it was.

It wasn't Shinichi.

It was Kuroba.

Ran was discharged the same day, though was advised to stay home and rest for another day. She was initially against it since it meant missing a day in the university, yet her mother, after knowing what happened, insisted that she followed the doctor's orders.

The next day, she was well enough to go to school. It was also the day when she discovered that it wasn't just her that had been hospitalized.

"I don't understand why you're upset, sheesh," Kuroba said, rubbing his finger under his nose.

"Sonoko didn't tell me. You didn't tell me."

"I specifically told Suzuki-san there's no need to tell you so don't get mad at her." He sighed, refusing to meet her eyes. "Besides, I'm fine now, right?"

Ran crossed her arms, puffing her cheeks. Well, he was right after all. Whatever annoyance dissipated when she remembered her initial purpose of approaching him.

"Kuroba-kun, it was you, right?"

He was quiet, and then nodded, still refusing eye contact.

"Thank you."

He finally looked at her, smiling, yet it didn't quite reach his ears. "Don't mention it. I did tell you I'll always go after a friend in need, right?"

After their exchange that day, she learned he couldn't quite reach him again. He'd usually appear at the last second before class started and leave in a hurry afterwards. Rarely did he also accompany them during lunch, saying he had some requirements for other subjects needed to be done, which she knew probably had some truth in it since school demands had been tough lately. He still kept in touch however, just via SMS, and he'd respond promptly to her messages whenever she asked if things were still going well. It went on, and she herself had been rather preoccupied until it was already winter break.

'I'll be on vacation, Mouri-san! See you next grading!' he texted her one day. He didn't say where, yet she didn't ask him either.

'Okay, please take care' she replied. He no longer responded.

Most of her vacation were spent at home, helping out her father in housework. There weren't so much clients for him during the season, so she didn't really leave the house much unless needed. Winter frost had been harsh lately, and she rather not experience the same incident that happened back in the mountains.

She had been cleaning her room one day when she came across a brochure featuring the Sunflower paintings of Van Gogh. That incident happened roughly three years ago. As someone who appreciated fine arts, it was one of the more memorable exhibits she had been to, because not everyone would be given a chance to view all paintings in one gallery. Of course, it wasn't also free from unpleasant scenarios which, to simply put, involved attempted theft, arson, destruction of one of the collections, and destruction of the whole gallery itself. The experience would've probably left her traumatized if she wasn't used to witnessing other gruesome and seemingly hopeless situations. She must've just grown resilient from being involved in her father's affairs, which was probably both a good thing and a bad thing.

Thinking about it, she never did have a clear story of how she ended up escaping the collapsing building. Her last memory before ending up at the clearing by the lake was being with Shinichi and Conan, both asking her help to clear up the jammed painting by the wall, and herself somehow being carried by Shinichi with a clear view of the sky behind him.

Though if Genta and the other kids were right, it wasn't actually Shinichi.

It was Kid.

And given how she confirmed that he somehow closely resembled Shinichi in the Lady Sky incident, needing no mask to disguise as him, it shouldn't be surprising that she mistook Kid for him. Despite that, she realized she couldn't find herself feeling angry or annoyed at the thief. She felt there was another reason, apart from the fact that he basically saved her life.

So when Sonoko informed her about another gemstone exhibit at the end of the month, Ran was urged to go. She wanted answers.

It was the same old routine, almost comedic if viewed in a different perspective. Sonoko's uncle invited Kid. Kid appeared. Kid got his hand on the gems. The security panicked.

But instead of staying by the sidelines like she usually did, she pursued after him and was successful in the process.

The moonlight was shining brightly in the balcony where he stood tall, holding the gem upwards like before. She heard him sigh.

"It's not this, too…"

It was the same observing pose that he did when she caught him holding Lady Sky. She then realized why she thought he seemed to be searching for something.

"Kid," she said, finally revealing herself from the shadows. His shoulder flinched.

"Ah, Ran-san. It's a pleasure to meet you again."

"Why do you do it?" she said, skipping the pleasantries.

"Do what?" He turned to face her, yet she couldn't see his eyes hidden in the shadows of his hat. "I'm afraid I do not follow."

Ran seemed to search for words, gesturing with her hands until she briskly laid her arms in front of her. "This! This whole stealing thing. Why go through such lengths when you just return the gems in the end?"

"While I'm happy to know you want to know my side, I'm afraid it's something I cannot divulge." A mysterious smile graced his face. "Forgive me but my lips are sealed for that manner, Ran-san. It is also dangerous for you to associate yourself with me."

Ran's gaze fell. It wasn't that easy, huh. . .

She faced him again.

"Then . . . tell me. If you put it that way, then how come you're the one who had actually put others out of danger? You've saved a plane full of people. You've saved Conan-kun."

She paused, walking closer to him. He didn't move, something she did not expect.

"You've saved me. That time, at the Sunflowers exhibit, it was you, right?"

There was something strangely familiar with their conversation, situation and circumstances, like an odd sense of déjà vu. Kid smiled, the corners of his lips rising in a way reminiscent of someone she knew.

Kuroba-kun . . . ?

The line of thought was disrupted when Kid began to move closer, taking her hand. This was her chance, she knew, as she could easily twist his arm behind his back just like before. She could finally have him captured. She could finally confirm his identity, her suspicions.

Yet she simply let him place the prized jewel in her hands.

"Earlier, you asked me about my goals. I guess . . . there's no harm if I tell you this."

Kid stepped backwards, moving towards the end of the balcony. He stood over the railings, and she was left gazing at his figure towering over her.

"Apart from stealing, which thieves do best, saving precious treasures is also something I like doing."

And then he was gone, flying through the sky, leaving her with more questions than answers.

As he soared through the skies, gliding his way back home, his mind was in circles.

That time, at the Sunflowers exhibit, it was you, right?

It had been him, that's for sure. But that time, while he could never stomach the idea of leaving an unconscious person behind a collapsing building, he also responded to Kudou's request, who clearly valued her life more than his.

Kaito felt conflicted, because he was a witness to how much Kudou cared for Ran. It wasn't because of companionship or whatever, because he wouldn't exactly call Kudou his friend, yet he did recognize even a tinge of empathy for him, especially in his situation.

Stealing is what thieves do best, even hearts . . . Could he still really tell that to himself?

That time, he felt it too, the déjà vu. Along with the hunch that Ran finally knew who he really was.

Kaito already recognized his feelings for Ran, yet he's terrified. Terrified of dwelling on the idea of them being more than friends. Terrified that she won't even consider that idea between them, given that she's still seemed committed to Kudou despite the breakup. Terrified if she did, because if he was right that she really knew his secret, it meant possibly bringing her close to danger.

He didn't know what to do the next time he'd see her.

One day, Ran found herself still thinking about Shinichi.

"Ran, what I'm saying is that you can choose to be happy," Sonoko told her, "As much as I disapprove of Shinichi-kun's decision to leave without saying any explanations, that's what he ended up choosing in the end. That was his choice, Ran."

Tears had started forming at the corners of her eyes. She had already said the same words to herself way before so it shouldn't hurt much, but why did it cut deeper coming from someone else?

Her best friend held her hand, gripping it firmly. "You'll find it hard to move forward if you can't accept it."

But even for one last time, Ran wished to see Shinichi. It didn't mean she wanted them to be together. She just wanted explanations, a closure.

Unbeknownst to Ran, Kaito had been listening to their exchange. He vowed if he could avoid it that he'd never be Kudou again.

It was as if fate was testing him.

Days later, a familiar yellow Volkswagen beetle stopped by his house. It was Professor Agasa, along with a familiar-looking kid, who had grown several inches taller.

Tantei-kun. Edogawa Conan. Kudou Shinichi.

Sonoko apparently reached out to Kudou, filled him out with the details about Ran. Kaito already had a feeling why the detective had visited him.

Kaito declined.

"Kid, please." Kudou's voice was pleading, desperate. "Reconsider. Just one last time."

Resentment was slowly creeping through his veins at how selfish Kudou was being. Kaito would rather not lie anymore.

Yet he listened. Kudou's body had become immune to the antidotes, meaning there was a miniscule chance of him ever being back to his normal body. Knowing Ran, if she ever found out about the truth, she'd be willing to wait for him no matter how dire the odds were. He didn't want her to wait for him to grow up to be a teenager when she's already an adult. He didn't want to reach a point where people would judge Ran for being in a relationship with the boy who had been like a little brother to her. He couldn't stand imagining it.

At that point, Kaito understood where he was coming from. Yet he couldn't. Kaito didn't think he could ever do a convincing Shinichi after everything that happened. He didn't think he could ever fool Ran again.

"Just tell her the truth," Kaito said, wishing their exchange to end with it.

Kudou's face was pained, creases forming on the child's face. For a brief moment, he thought he saw a glimpse of Kudou's actual self. Despair, he felt it.

"I can't."

"Then perhaps it's better if the two of you don't meet at all." Kaito stood, gesturing towards the door. "Please leave."

Kaito could only watch as the small detective left, dejected.

The next day, Kaito ended up coming to their meeting place. He wore some prosthetics of a middle-aged guy, which could be quickly pulled to reveal the 'Shinichi' underneath.

After some internal deliberation, he couldn't stomach the thought that Ran would be left hanging again if Kudou decided to back out at the last minute. He rehearsed it, stayed up all night practicing the words that Kudou wanted him to say, hoping Ran wouldn't notice. If Kaito had to be a vessel to set Ran free, even if it risked his own friendship with her, he'd do it.

But to his surprise, he was already there.


They were seated outside the cafe. Kaito sat a few tables away from them, his back facing them. He wasn't sure if it was the right thing to stay, but he did.

"Shinichi-nii-chan cannot come," he said, voice boyish in nature. It was nothing like the serious tone Kudou had used when he visited her the previous day.

"Then, when would he?" Ran's voice was soft, almost hopeful. He felt his heart being crushed for several reasons that he didn't wish to name.

"Ran-nee-chan . . . You misunderstood." He couldn't see them, yet the emotions in his voices were evident. He imagined Kudou was feigning a smile as he said the next words. "Shinichi-nii-chan would not and cannot come back, ever."

There was silence. He knew, somehow, that tears were already forming in Ran's eyes.

"Then, if you ever see him one day, please tell him that there would be no one who'd be like him for Ran. That nobody could ever replace Shinichi, her best friend."

Her breathing hitched, yet she continued to speak. Kaito began to stand up, ready to leave. The more he listened on, the more he thought he could no longer take it. It was a bad idea to go in the first place, anyway.

"But tell me, Conan-kun. Did Shinichi ever say what he wanted me to do?"

"Shinichi-nii-chan wishes for you to be happy."

Ran has had her suspicions about Conan's true identity. He may have fooled her several times, yet her gut feeling told her Conan was hiding something. She didn't force him to reveal it however. Perhaps, she just simply needed to wait when he's ready.

Even if it meant years, so many years, she didn't mind waiting for people.

However, if the person tells her she should stop, if that's what the person wishes, then she would.

She understood. Without pushing him to tell her, she accepted it. The days where she denied it had passed long ago. The anger, the sadness, it had long passed too. Slowly, a heavy burden had been lifted from her heart.

There will never be another Shinichi, she knew, but perhaps, it was possible for her to shift the kind of love she had for him. Perhaps, it was possible to love him like how she had learned to love Conan. In the end, he was her precious friend, and she would forever treasure the memories they had together. Perhaps, some people weren't really meant to be with her; rather, their purpose was to be an instrument to make her stronger the next time she fell in love again.

She closed the box of all the items that reminded her of Shinichi, and pushed it under her bed. After dusting off the dirt from her hand, she collapsed onto her bed and breathed heavily, a light feeling enveloping her.

She pushed herself up again, ready for another round of cleaning her room when a single, wilted purple orchid caught her eye.

She wondered how Kuroba was doing at the moment.

She didn't know that miles away, Kaito had been wondering the same about her.

Months passed and it was spring again, meaning, it was his second year at the university. While they had less subjects together due to the differences in their course degrees, he still spent time with Ran and Sonoko if he could.

"Y'know, you've been friends with us for more than a year," Sonoko pointed out, "Could we all agree to call each other by our first names now?"

"If that's what you wish, Sonoko-san." He turned to the girl next to her. At first, he hesitated. Because he knew her name would roll out from his tongue in a familiar way. "Ran-san."

"Kaito-kun!" Sonoko cheered enthusiastically.

"Kaito-kun," Ran said in a calmer manner, ending it with a smile contagious enough to make him do the same.

He was convinced something was different with Ran. She had always been beautiful, yet her aura glowed with radiance the moment the academic year started again. Her kindness in helping out her peers, her fierce elegance when performing her martial arts, and her attentiveness towards the needs of the people around her were among the many things that further added to her grace, and he couldn't help but be drawn to her.

And yet, he didn't do any active effort to act upon his feelings. It wasn't an issue of uncertainty of his feelings for her; rather, it was an issue of the uncertainty of the consequences, whether she reciprocated or not.

Confessing might destroy their friendship.

Or confessing might lead her closer to danger.

His gut feeling told him that Ran already knew about him, about Kaitou Kid, and she was just pretending not to know. It was harder to deal with someone pretending than someone right out confronting him, because he wasn't sure why they resort to pretending in the first place.

Therefore, with the way things were, he thought leaving everything to status quo would be for the best. Letting go of Kaitou Kid wasn't an option for him.

He wasn't lying when he said that saving precious treasures was something that he liked. And if saving the treasure meant he would suppress his feelings for her, if being simply friends would be the best way to keep her safe, even if it pained him, he would do it.

He'd rather love from afar and suffer in silence than let Ran resign herself again to pain, waiting and longing.

One day, she found herself thinking about Kuroba.

Kaito, she corrected herself.

Kaito. Kaito-kun. Kaitou Kid.

Ran-san, his voice echoed in her head.

She wanted to hit herself hard about not knowing it soon enough, how she wasn't able to connect the dots the moment she had met him. The clues were right in front of her even before Kaito became her friend. A magician who strangely resembled Shinichi. The same sentence could be used to describe either Kuroba Kaito or Kaitou Kid.

And while it certainly took her long to realize that fact, it didn't, however, take her long to realize that she had fallen for him.

She hadn't told Sonoko, or anybody in fact, about her recently found realizations. She was certain she already moved on, yet she was uncertain what she should do about it.

She knew they were both playing the game of "You know I know" and "I know you know," yet he had not said anything. She had not said anything either.

Because she was terrified. Terrified if she confronted him about his secret, he'd push her away. Terrified if she told him she knew, he'd choose to leave her behind without giving her the chance to tell him how she felt.

Therefore, she thought it would be best if she played it safe, if she pretended not to know anything at all. She braced herself, ready to resign herself to loving someone from afar just like before.

School days passed and weeks went by. It didn't matter whether they spent more or less time with each other; they learned to appreciate every minute despite the busier days in school. They both seemed to be trapped in a spiral, both longing to reach for each other, yet when their hands are about to meet, they simply let themselves be pushed back by the waves again.

That's simply how it was for her and Kaito, and him and Ran.

During one of their school breaks, Sonoko reserved a booking for a lakeside resort near the mountains, telling them they all deserved a calming vacation after accomplishing their requirements for the term.

But at the last minute, Sonoko backed out, claiming she had a family business to attend to. She didn't know if she set it up or it was purely a coincidence, but it was already too late for her and Kaito since they were already at the location.

S-O-N-O-K-O. Ran sent the SMS to her in all caps, hoping she caught the meaning behind it. Good thing Kaito was still busy talking to the receptionist because her cheeks were puffing, literally flaring and all flustered!

What? It shouldn't be an issue right? I mean, you guys are friends. :-P

She stared at her reply in disbelief.

Her shoulders jumped when Kaito called her name.

"I have the key cards," he said, waving them. When she reached for the spare card, it disappeared from his hand.

"Huh, where did it go?" He quickly extended his hand behind her ear and the card 'reappeared.' She snatched it from his hand as he grinned, ignoring the shiver that trickled her skin at the brief contact of their skin. At least, one of them was handling it better than the other. "Sonoko-san apparently booked a suite, so, uh, our room should be rather spacious."

True enough, it was. The suite had two large bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining area and a kitchen. A balcony giving a nice overview of the lake and the mountains was also accessible. Ran's distress about their situation was forgotten and was quickly replaced with incredulity. Of course, she wasn't a stranger to Sonoko's exquisite tastes, but the whole suite was enough to house two families!

Beside her, Kaito could only scratch the back of his neck. "Sonoko-san . . . is really something, isn't she?"

She couldn't tell if he was amused, annoyed, or both. She could relate to him, though.

"No kidding."

After settling their things, they explored the various recreational facilities in the resort, something she was thankful for since it kept her mind from focusing on the fact that it was just the two of them together.

But soon enough, she knew it wasn't something she could avoid, because by the end of the day they shared the same room.

As Kaito rummaged for his key card, Ran stood awkwardly while holding an expensive bottle of sake, a prize they won after winning an impromptu competition between other guests in the facility. It involved them being mistaken for a couple which inadvertently led to them being forced to join when neither of them were able to retract the other guest's misunderstanding. They decided to go along with it; Kaito seemed like a competitive person to begin with. It had been a close fight, and they were lucky enough the final deciding game was one of those arcade machines which involved kicking and measuring the output strength.

Minutes later, after freshening up and having a change of clothes, Ran decided to enter the balconies, where Kaito already was. He had his arms crossed, eyes directed at the lake while wearing the same yukata the resort prepared for them. He watched as she sat right beside him.

"It's beautiful, isn't it," he started, pertaining to the sight of nature before them. She agreed.


"Unexpectedly, this has also been tiring day," he remarked, "And Sonoko-san said this was supposedly a calming vacation."

She wanted to say they could've avoided it if they just told them they weren't really a couple, but who was she kidding? She knew she enjoyed what happened too. "Well, isn't the good part of everything was that we won?"

"You're the one who made us win though. As expected of the karate champion!"

She blushed, bringing her knees towards her. "Don't sell yourself short though, you won the other games!"

He laughed, putting his arms behind his head. "Heh, guess I did."

As he leaned back even more, she noticed the bottle of sake beside him. He followed her gaze and seemed startled.

"Uh, it's not what you think! I'm not suggesting that we're gonna drink this or anything!"

She held back her laughter. Why was he being so defensive? "Then, if I may ask, why did you bring it here?"

He gave her a sheepish smile. "It's Juyoundai sake, right? It's not something you could just get your hands on easily, apparently. I just wanted to see if it looked any different if seen here." A pause, and then he shut his eyes, leaning even further until his back had rested completely on the tatami mats. "I mean, don't precious things look better under the moonlight sometimes?"

Her eyes widened at his last statement. It seemed like he was testing her, inviting her to finally ask about his other self. It was as if the spiral had brought them at a reachable distance once more, and he was extending his hand towards her.

She hesitated, remembering her fears. If their hands really do connect, what if he lets go? What if she lets go?

"Why don't we ask each other questions?" She grabbed the bottle from his hands, her heart racing. Her parents would probably throw a fit if they even found out about what she'd suggest next. Yet she trusted herself that nothing would go out of hand; she trusted him. "We could even try out this sake! A celebration for our win?"

He finally opened his eyes, watching her carefully for a few long seconds. He took the bottle back from her and opened it with a quick flick of his hand before making two glasses appear from his arms. With his trick she wondered if he had actually been planning to suggest the same thing to her. "Well, okay. Let's see if it does live up to its reputation."

It started pretty silly at first, topics ranging from which classmate they thought would definitely get married first, to which professor they thought would make an interesting villain for a movie. Minutes went by and she realized the more alcohol entered her system, the more serious the topics they've had. A warm sensation creeped through her head, yet her mind was still clear.

"Hey, it's your turn to ask." She looked at him and likewise, he still didn't seem intoxicated yet.

"Is it possible for you to let go of Kaitou Kid?" she was itching to ask, because she knew, it was one thing keeping them from being together. Yet she wasn't feeling dauntless enough to say it. She refilled her cup and took one quick swig, feeling the warm, burning sensation down her throat.

"Could I ask you the same question?" she said instead, "What do you seek, or what do you aim to achieve in the near future?"

He was quiet, and for a moment she wondered if he had heard her. She watched as he also filled his cup and drank without blinking.

"I'm not sure if I could say something particular for myself, like you aspiring to be a lawyer, but right now . . . I seek the truth," he said, not taking his eyes off the lake, "The truth about my father's murder. Whatever means I have to do to reach it, I'll do it."

He didn't have to say it, because she knew the means he was talking about was Kaitou Kid. From that moment, she knew it would be selfish of her to request him to just let it go. He was Kid even before she had met him. It was already part of who he was, something he simply couldn't release from himself for his own peace of mind. It was a pill hard to swallow.

And yet, she was willing to accept it. She was willing to reach out her hand to him so they were no longer trapped in the whirlpool.

"It's my turn to ask now, isn't it?" he said instead, and asked her something completely unrelated to the previous topic. By that time, she learned that he had retracted his arm once more, and yet again, they were being pulled apart, the vicious cycle of reaching commencing again.

It was probably already midnight when their little game had ended.

Beside him, Ran had long passed out, her head resting against the wall. At some point he noticed she began drinking a little more than him. He had a hunch why. She was probably rather upset, disappointed that he didn't go any further about Kid, yet she didn't seem to really take it against him since she didn't push it any further. It was as if she was waiting for him to be ready, to tell the truth by his own volition. It was the sort of person she was, unbelievably patient at the expense of her own happiness. It was bringing out mixed emotions in him. He thought she deserved to know the truth even more. And yet, he also wanted to protect her from that very truth which may put her life at risk.

He sighed, and began carrying her back inside the room. She was sleeping soundly. It had been a long day.

He tucked her in one of the massive futons, careful not to stir her awake. Her eyes slowly fluttered open anyway, and she began to mutter something incomprehensible. He braced himself for the heartache, that she would mention the name of someone he could never be.

To his surprise, she said his name.

"Kaito," she said again, and her hand landed on his. He was suddenly very conscious of his heart beat. "The answer is . . . 35-24-35 . . ."

And then she covered her face as if she was embarrassed.

What was she talking about, he thought, and wondered if she had left anything unanswered before.

And then he understood. He likewise covered his mouth as heat enveloped his face. The airplane incident. The three sizes. She actually said it?!

The moment he completely processed it, Ran seemed to have really fallen asleep. For both of them, he thought it's best that she did. At that time, he tried not to think about the implications of Ran answering a question made by Kaitou Kid years ago.

The next morning, Ran opened her eyes to see the elegant designs of the room's ceiling, the heavy, comforting blanket weighing down on her body. In the futon next to her, Kaito was still sleeping. To be more accurate, his body was basically sprawled on bed, one of his legs peeking out from the tangled mess that was his comforters. It was a funny sight that instantly made her morning.

They returned home later that day. Kaito still acted like his usual self, as if none of their conversations that night happened. She went along with it, their little pretending game, making no effort whatsoever to change what they already had. She did wonder about the possibility of them moving forward from where they were, even as another school term began.

Was that all there was for her and Kaito? It was the same quesion she kept asking herself whenever she was with him, but she couldn't find the courage to tell it to him directly.

One day, news about Kaitou Kid planning another one of his heists surfaced.

It gave Ran an idea. If she couldn't confront Kuroba Kaito, would it perhaps be a different thing if she confronted Kaitou Kid?

It was a crazy idea, she knew. Especially considering the fact it was an private event hosted by a multinational financing group, someone not directly associated with the Suzuki group. Meaning Ran had no easy means of entering it.

The larger, logical part of her was telling herself to just drop the whole thing, perhaps wait some other time. Yet the other part of her was curious, impatient, and simply tired.

The night of the heist, she learned the latter part of her had won. She didn't need to use her connections to enter the event; there was no need for her to chase after him, because she already had a hunch where his end goal was.

She entered the building, and made her way to the top floor. After making sure none of the security was looking, she ascended the steel ladder that led to the roofdeck, the highest point of the building.

It was the spot where the moonlight shone the brightest.

It was a gamble, she was aware; she wasn't even sure if it was where he intended to go, yet she waited, even as the winds grew stronger. She must be really going crazy.

Minutes later, a brittle sound of metal hitting each other resounded, followed by rapid noise of something like a rope being pulled out from somewhere. It snapped Ran on guard, and immediately she hid herself behind one of the big pillars. Her eyes widened in surprise when an old maintenance personnel pulled himself up from a rope and landed his feet squarely onto the top floor. He flicked a switch on the gun which pulled back the rope inside it.

Kid, she thought, and her pulse raced. She didn't move from her spot and opted to observe him just like before. Just as she expected, he examined the gem under the moonlight for a few seconds before his shoulders slumped down in defeat.

"It's not that too, huh," Ran spoke in her head. Even if she wasn't certain about the details, she knew whatever he was looking for wasn't the gem in his hand.

The sound of the door clicking reached her ears, and she turned her head to one of the restricted doors in the roofdeck. He didn't seem to notice it yet. The warning bells in Ran's head clicked, and without thinking, she crawled out from her hiding place.

"Kid!" she called him out, and he was as shocked as she was. He was the first to react quickly, gesturing her to hide again, as he slumped on the floor as if injured. The door opened, revealing four policemen who held out guns in front of them. Ran cowered even more, covering her mouth and freezing in her spot, hoping she wouldn't get noticed by them.

"H-he returned the jewel!" Kid cried out in his best impression of an old man as a series of footsteps approached his location. After a series of exchanges, she heard the sound of the same hurried footsteps fading back towards the door.

"Let's bring you to the first aid section, old man." The voice seemed to belong to one of the policemen.

"N-no need, I'm fine. Please prioritize catching the thief. I s-s-saw him jump down from there!"

The remaining policeman seemed to give in, making him breathe heavily in relief the moment he was gone.

"Well, so much for my grand exit," the 'old man' said in a very characteristic voice of Kid before he completely pulled away his disguise, revealing him in his white suit. He approached her just as she stood up. "What are you even doing here . . ." There was a distinct pause, as if he hesitated to say her name. "Ran-san."

She was likewise taken aback. It was the same name and honorific that Kuroba Kaito and Kaitou Kid used. At that moment, was he speaking as the former or as the latter?

The wind grew stronger, making his cape flutter wildly. It blew away his hat in the process and instinctively she tried to reach for it, but her line of sight was blocked the moment he covered her eyes with his hand. She knew the reason for his action; without his hat, no shadows would occlude his face in mystery. He was desperately hanging onto the last thread that kept her from the truth.

"Why do you always have to run away?" she asked, making no effort to remove his hand away from her eyes.

"It's just the nature of who I am."

She wanted to tell him she wasn't talking about Kaitou Kid, but was interrupted by the noise coming from the stairway. He released his hand from her eyes but pulled her towards his back, concealing her behind his tall frame.

"Could you do me a favor, Ran-san? Please close your eyes."

She didn't know what he was planning, yet she braced herself for the possibility that he's going to leave her behind again, just like the many times she watched him soar through the skies.

Yet she complied, and the moment she did, the cops reached the roof deck.


"Heh, I knew you gentlemen wanted to witness a more grand exit from yours truly." She didn't know exactly what occurred next because it happened all so quickly, but the sound of something hitting the floor which produced a hissing sound reverberated, and she yelped in panic when a pair of arms lifted her off her feet, followed by the sensation of the wind rushing through her body. By instinct she opened her eyes and discovered she was flying above the buildings of the city. Panicked, she immediately clung her arms to the most accessible solid object—Kid himself.

"Don't worry, I got you." His calm reassurance managed to relax her for quite a bit. They soared through the skies for a few more moments, and Ran found herself getting used to the sights from above, though she still didn't let go.

"Kid," she whispered, and she knew the words reached him since their heads were that close to each other, "Do you . . . really have to do it?"

He did not say anything after a few long seconds.


They descended soon enough, and landed by a clearing with an overview of the city. He settled her down gently, but she still refused to meet his gaze. She wasn't certain if that's what he wanted yet. From her periphery she watched as his white-clad figure sat beside her, likewise facing the skyline.

She had many questions to ask, reminding her of the time at the resort. She thought to ask the most obvious one. "Why did you bring me here?"

"It's beautiful, isn't it," he said, and she realized the familiarity of their exchange. It made her think about the spiral. Did it mean they would also be stuck in situations that kept on repeating?

She found herself agreeing anyway, but it wasn't the point she was making.

"Is it my turn to ask now?"

His remark caught her by surprise even when she knew she should have expected it. What made her even more surprised was the question that followed.

"Why did you tell Kuroba Kaito the answers to the question that Kaitou Kid asked?"

Mixed emotions surged within her. The first she recognized was embarrassment, because she confirmed she really did reveal her body measurements out of drunken stupor. There were a few others she could name, but what overpowered them was relief.

Finally, she allowed herself to look at him, and for the first time, she did not see him as either just Kuroba Kaito or simply Kaitou Kid.

"The answer to that should be obvious, right? Kaito-kun is Kid, Kid is Kaito-kun. . ." She placed her hand atop his. "And it's something that I have already accepted."

"You . . . don't understand, Ran," his voice was troubled, his hand trembling under hers. He doffed the monocle from his eye as he planted his other hand over his face. "What I'm doing as Kid, it's not an easy walk to the park. These people I'm dealing with are no joke; they murdered my father. I-I can't put you at risk too—"

She pulled him tightly into an embrace, as if she was clinging onto her life. She wasn't sure when the tears had started falling from her face.

"Then all the more that I should support you, right? Do you think I'd just let you barge in a death trap all alone? Do you think I'd just leave you alone after knowing all that? In the first place, the world isn't very safe anyway, so—"

He pulled away as he hushed, rubbing the back of her head soothingly.

"Forgive me, Ran, I haven't considered how you would feel in all of these."

She looked at his eyes, the same crestfallen gaze was still there.

"However. . ."

She shook her head. "What I'm saying is, shouldn't you let me decide on that? I'm not saying I'm gonna go around wearing a white suit too, but will you allow me help you?" She held onto his arms firmly, hoping it would help him understand the sincerity of her words. "You said you like saving precious treasures. Then please let me save you too in ways that I can, like the times you have saved me."

He shut his eyes for a while before sighing.

"If that's how you really feel. . . then I guess we'll have to make something work."

He reached out his hands to wipe the tears from her face.

"Thank you, Ran."

At that moment, she realized the whirlpool had long evaporated, and their hands were finally connected, neither letting go. The bottom of her lips trembled, and she tackled him to a hug that sent both of them onto the ground.

"Thank you, Kaito."

He chuckled as he attempted to sit up, not caring if the soil grazed his pristine sleeves. He brushed her hair behind her ear the moment she released her arms around him.

"Since you've given me the three sizes that I wished, will you also give me the treasure that I've been longing for?"

It wasn't as nearly as romantic as the last time he said it, under the moonlight in an airship with "Shinichi" as the mysterious Kaitou Kid. Right then his white suit was soiled with dirt, his hair even messier than ever. He was grinning up to his ear, which was very characteristically Kaito.

And she wouldn't have it any other way.

She pinched him on the cheek first—something he wasn't expecting—before she pulled him into a kiss which he immediately reciprocated with a smile on his lips. The warm fuzzies spread throughout her entire body like magic, and all her worries about everything were momentarily forgotten.

She had no idea where they were heading to at that point, and neither did he, yet they were content in knowing they were finally moving forward.