Another fairly short one, but this was the next step to getting information characters have been keeping as closely guarded secrets into the hands of other characters.
Chapter Ten: What Remains
At least I didn't have to attend school today, I was thankful for that, but I didn't exactly have anything better to do as I waited for time to pass. I couldn't go to a bar to pass the time, and with this high-schooler body I'd probably get in trouble for being a truant if I tried to go to a mahjong parlor at this time of day. So I waste the time watching tv at the professor's place, it's already starting to get dark by the time the others begin to arrive.
I know school must have ended while there was still daylight out, so I find myself being somewhat annoyed by their lateness in arriving even though I know that the whole point of the meeting was going to be holding the magic rock up to the moonlight so it had to wait until after dark anyway.
The first to arrive is Amuro, he's come in with the little girl that lives with the professor. They must have walked the other kids home before heading here, otherwise they probably wouldn't have been able to get here without the boisterous gaggle of youngsters in tow.
The squinty eyed girl makes a quick retreat to her room in the basement, and Amuro comes over to sit on the couch, he looks lost in thought so I just give him a little wave as a greeting and go back to watching tv.
Next to arrive is Hattori, looking a bit surprised as he comes over to sit on the other couch, "Eh… am I early?"
"Everyone else is just late," I answer, kinda empathizing knowing that he's probably feeling every bit as aware of the passing time as I had been when I was in Hakuba's body. Even now I felt a bit of discomfort if I didn't check the time every few minutes.
"Hardly," Comes a retort as the door opens again, "We agreed to meet after sunset, but no specific time was given. As it stands, there are still five minutes thirty-seven seconds, and ten milliseconds until sunset finishes. So we've arrived fashionably early."
"...So, I've been wonderin', what's with tha time thing anyway?"
"Excuse me?" Hakuba seemed surprised by the sudden question.
"Ya seem like you're much more fixated on it than tha average person, I mean, it's even ingrained in your body like this…" Hattori continued.
"I'm a bit curious myself," says another voice, causing us to all look up to where the Kudo brat look-alike had suddenly appeared sitting on the railing of the loft.
"Wha- when did you-" I start to ask, but Hakuba interrupts me.
"He came in with me…"
They must have had a talk in private after what happened earlier, that's good, it had been awkward listening to them before.
The love affairs of others weren't something I liked to make my business though I was often hired to do infidelity investigations so I suppose it did make up a fair bit of my business… but if I wasn't getting paid I couldn't care less whether or not whether or not someone loved someone else, unless it were Ran, Eri, or Yoko-chan.
"So? Saguru, the time-keeping, what's up with it?" The thief asks again.
"If you must know, Kaito…" He sighs, "I simply find it comforting to keep up with the passage of time. I can't relax if I don't know the time."
That definitely was how it had felt when I was in his body. Still seemed a bit odd, but if that's all it is then it's my own fault for expecting it to be something interesting.
So Hakuba and Kid came together, what's more it seemed they'd taken to referring to each other by their given names… seems like they've gotten a bit closer than they were before. Guess everyone has some romance in their lives but me.
It's not a relationship I would have ever expected to see blossoming, but I hadn't really expected Kudo to get on so well with the thief either… I can't really deny that Kid has a certain charisma to him that makes him hard to hate.
That aside, there's probably a bit more to his temporal fixation than Hakuba was letting on but if I had to guess it's probably just a bit of a sensitive subject rather than some mystery that absolutely must be brought to light. If he doesn't want to talk about it then hopefully it won't be something he needs to say in the event that the condition for returning to our original bodies really is confiding in the others. It's not like Kid revealed all of his secrets, so it's probably fine even if Hakuba still has some things he's not going to reveal.
For Kudo's sake I hope we can figure out where the line of how much needs to be said is. It'll make a huge difference whether he can get away with just revealing that Edogawa Conan is a fake name, or if he has to admit to being Kudo Shinichi. Heck, if it's just secrets, maybe he can even get away with just saying that he's the brains behind the Sleeping Kogoro, I'm pretty sure everyone here but Hakuba and the uncle himself already know that.
We'll figure it out somehow.
The real question is going to be… what should I do?
My thoughts are interrupted when another person enters. It's Kudo, but it feels weird thinking about him as Kudo when he's in a girl's body right now, even with how boyish she is.
"Ah, already a bit of a crowd… we're just waiting on Sera-neechan then?"
It's also pretty weird hearing him play at being Conan even when he's not in a child's body. If I were him, I'd probably consider telling everyone my identity just so I wouldn't have to keep up the charade. I guess he's used to it by now though.
Kudo sits down next to me, Kid jumps down from the loft to join us.
After making sure that the others didn't seem to be paying attention to us the thief flashes a USB drive before slipping it back into his own pocket, "I managed to get into Bourbon's computer for you guys, I'll pass the data off to your poison princess before I leave tonight."
"Thanks," Kudo nods, "Did you find any useful information?"
"I was a bit too busy talking with Saguru at the time to look through any of it myself…" Kid shrugs, "Hopefully there's something in there that'll help you."
"Must'a been a meaningful talk, you're calling him by his given name now," I point out, "Don't tell me ya actually started dating him…"
"No, No, Nothing like that Tantei-han," he replies light-heartedly, "... he and I just had a heart to heart. I told him everything-"
"But-" Kudo starts to protest.
Kid finishes, "-my side of everything, I kept a few lies in place to keep your secret safe, Meitantei-kun. Saguru knows I'm working with Kudo Shinichi, and he thinks that 'Conan' is Kudo-kun's assistant for covert work."
"I see… I appreciate that."
"If tha test with Hakuba goes well… ya might end up having ta out your secret anyway Kudo…" I remind him, "I mean… I'm sure your body isn't great, but it's gotta be better than having to be someone entirely different…"
"You have a point…" He mutters, "But what about you? What will you do?"
Right… this isn't just about him, I need to think about what to do too…
I glance over at Kaito. He seems to be having a serious talk with Hattori and Edogawa-kun… so it would seem that as expected Hattori is also in on Kaito and Kudo's battle against an evil organization.
I find myself simply watching for a moment- wanting to join the conversation and offer my assistance, but most likely Kaito needs to let them know how much I know before they'll be able to open up to me with their side of the story- because I know that there are probably things that Kaito was leaving out for their sakes considering how quick he was to jump to the conclusion that the answer to this situation had something to do with secrets…
I'll find a way to get the information later.
For the time being I strike up conversation with some of the others, if I can't participate in the discussion this time then I can at least distract the others to lower the chances that they'll be listening in. Knowing what I know now, after that rather illuminating chat with Kaito, Amuro-san especially shouldn't be allowed to overhear anything.
"Ah Amuro-san, your dog, may I ask what breed he is? I couldn't tell and it got curious." I ask, it's idle conversation but it should distract him and help pass time.
"Haro's a stray I picked up, I think he's a mutt but judging from his appearance I'd assume he has some shiba in him," Amuro smiles a little, that combined with his currently being in Edogawa-kun's body makes it difficult for me to believe that this guy could actually be someone dangerous. But if Kaito is wary of someone he must have reasons.
"Oh, so his name is Haro… I played with him a bit today, seems like an intelligent dog for being a stray, you must have trained him quite well…"
Idle chatter. A simple distraction to pass the time.
Eventually Sera-san arrives, she smells slightly of alcohol. While I don't condone it, I suppose since she's in Mouri-san's body it's not bad for her to have been drinking despite being underaged, most likely she'd found herself with some of his drinking buddies and wouldn't have been able to decline a drink without looking suspicious.
With everyone here there's no need to delay, we quickly get down to business. There's not much to talk about, and despite the gemstone shining when Kaito holds it aloft there is no immediate effect.
We request permission from the professor to stay the night and see if something would change, feeling that that might be less suspicious than all seven of us likely needing to return here tomorrow morning.
Some lay down for a nap, others go back to talking with each other… I chose to keep an eye on the time. Perhaps it will not matter, but if something happens then the knowledge of what time the body changes occur at could potentially be helpful.
Minutes pass, then hours… it's 2:22 AM when I suddenly find myself assailed with a sense of sleepiness, forcing my eyes closed before allowing them to blink open with a different view of the room.
I look down, the clothing and size confirms that I truly am back in my own body.
Glancing around to see the reactions of any others that were awake, most of them are checking their bodies like I did- the most notable exception being Kaito, he must still be in his own body. It seems the theory that it has to do with secrets has been all but confirmed.
I go retrieve my pocket watch from Amuro-san's body and go over to sit with Kaito.
Given the context it seems Saguru's back to his own body. He comes over and sits next to me.
"It looks like your theory was right… now that we've got evidence everyone else should be able to tell the rest of us their secrets and this whole thing should be settled…" He says rather optimistically.
I shake my head.
"I don't think this is enough of an incentive for some of them… Some of them are very attached to their secrets. At least the ones I know are…" I start to explain, "Conan-kun especially can't tell his secret to everyone here without some serious resolve… Amuro's presence in the group puts him in danger if the truth about him is exposed, and if the sleeping Kogoro knew- well that would be a whole different kind of danger…"
Conan's secret has got to be that he's Kudo Shinichi, Amuro's probably is about him being with the secret police but it's possible there are other things he's hiding, and I want to assume that Sera's secret is her shrunken mother but it seems weird to call that her secret when it's not really about her. I'm not sure what the drunken Uncle or Hattori might be hiding… I hadn't really ever looked into them that deeply, but perhaps I needed to run a background check on all of them now.
"Is that so…?" Saguru questions, "Can you tell me what a child like him could possibly be hiding that's so serious?"
"No. Not my secret to tell. I've given you all the pieces, so deduce it yourself or ask the brat to tell you. I've let him know I trust you…. The rest is up to whether or not he wants to burden you with the risks of being close to him on top of already being close with Kaitou Kid."
"When you put it that way… it seems you believe his secrets are just as dangerous as yours." Saguru frowns a little, "No matter how smart he is, isn't that too much at his age…"
"I was in about as much danger when I was his age…" I respond, trying to answer as honestly as I can without giving too much away.
"I suppose with Kid as your father…"
C'mon, Saguru, you're not an idiot, figure it out.
He's got most of the piece's by now; a large criminal investigation that Kudo is investigating, a connection between Kudo and Conan, Kudo's appearance, Conan in a similar level of danger to me, Kudo hasn't been appearing in public…
That should be enough to put things together… now it's down to if he'll figure it out or if this body swapping thing will force the little detective to reveal it himself.
I turn my attention to the others… It looks like while we were talking they'd been waking each other up to do the obligatory who's who.
Based on how they were sitting… Mouri was in Amuro's body, Amuro was in Sera's, Sera was in Hattori's, Hattori was in Kudo's, and Kudo was in Mouri's. Not too bad of a set up for most of them I think, in fact the sleeping Kogoro routine is even skipping out on the middle man.
Saguru and I head over, thinking maybe the discussion will need us when it comes time to start bringing up secrets. If someone wants to tell theirs then that makes things simple, but if not then… then I suppose I'll just have to count myself lucky to have already mostly removed myself from the situation.
Suddenly a phone rings.
It's strange enough for someone to be calling someone when it's nearly three in the morning, but considering that the ringing is coming from Amuro's body I can't help but worry a little.
It takes Mouri a few rings to find the phone and check the caller ID, "... Rum? Some kind of drinking buddy, eh Amuro-kun?"
"That's-" Amuro looked ready to panic. And he's right to feel that way, Mouri is the last person that should be talking to the kinds of enemies that Conan and I have, he'll get someone killed.
"Hattori, bowtie, now!" Kudo shouts.
"Right! You or Amuro?" Hattori scrambles to get the voice changer out and adjust the settings.
"There's no time, leave it to me," I interject, quickly closing the distance and snatching the phone from Mouri. I clear my throat before answering the phone with Amuro's voice, "Rum."
"Bourbon," Responds a voice that's clearly being mechanically altered, "I want an update on your report. Now."
"My report- yes, I'm still looking into some of the details so I haven't been able to obtain all of the evidence yet, however for the time being-" I glance over at Amuro while stalling with words.
Amuro mouths 'investigating Kudo Shinichi', giving me all the information that I need to know what this is about.
Time to spin a lie. Sorry, Meitantei-kun.
"I've been able to confirm that Kudo Shinichi is in fact still alive, I haven't uncovered how he survived the poison Gin gave him at that theme park- perhaps he regained consciousness before it took effect and was able to trigger his gag reflex to remove it from his system," I continue, fully aware of all the eyes in the room being locked on me by this point, "I'm not sure where he's hiding himself, but I think that ever since that little attempted murder he's been investigating us… and I have reason to believe he might be Kaitou Kid. That is all for now though, I'm still working on getting confirmations."
I can feel the tension in the room as several people resist the urge to yell at me for saying what I just said and those remaining want to yell asking for more details.
There's a slight sound on the other end of the phone before the line goes dead. I let out a sigh of relief as I hand the phone back.