"Mom, it's me," I say into the phone.
"Masumi." She acknowledges simply.
"There's… evidence to suggest that the person currently in my body is a member of the group that poisoned you. At the very least he has ties to the people that poisoned Shinichi…"
That much was undeniable.
"What's the evidence?" She asks, always one to cut to the chase.
"Phone call, he was called 'Bourbon' by someone called 'Rum' and asked for a report about an investigation into whether or not Shinichi had survived after being poisoned…"
I can practically hear her frown through the phone, "I see… and the answer?"
"Kid answered the phone for him, so we don't know what he would have answered himself given the chance…" I hesitated a moment, "But Kid confirmed to them that Shinichi survived the poison, then claimed that Shinichi was in hiding as Kaitou Kid."
Silence hangs heavy in the moment before Mom speaks up, "Which means that the enemy is now confirmed to be aware that their poison can be survived. We can't afford to delay anymore."
I find myself nodding even though she can't see me on the phone.
"You said he would be in your body. So he will come to this hotel room, I'll interrogate him." She declares, "If this goes poorly we'll need to move again."
There's the unspoken command to make sure that I have everything in order to leave if needed.
I don't want to move again. I don't want to have to leave my friends behind and just pack up my life. And I especially don't want to leave while I'm not even in my own body.
But I can't deny that it would be the safest course of action, so I force down my personal feelings and steel my resolve, hoping I don't need it.
"Alright… good luck."
That was a few hours ago, no contact from Mom yet.
I step to the left narrowly avoiding a kick. She quickly pivots, going for a punch with more force than would normally be expected from such a small body.
Who is she? That part was easy.
I recognized her face. Those eyes of her's gave away everything. She was Mary Sera, the mother of Akai Shuichi, the Tokyo Meijin, and Masumi Sera; and Sister of Elena Miyano. But she was too small.
Trained foreign agent or not, her appearance is that of a child, I'd rather not hurt her unless it becomes necessary. So I focus instead on dodging her attacks while seeking a way to restrain her.
I jump back, and she closes the distance quickly, deftly using her size to her advantage, relying on speed over power. Not really causing much damage with any attacks that manage to land, but she's limiting my actions and draining my stamina as the fight drags on.
But how did she get to be so small? The answer to that came surprisingly easily as well when I recalled that Vermouth had added her name to the list of people who had been disposed of using the experimental drug Apotoxin 4869.
It was a bit unbelievable to think that the drug would have an unknown side effect that causes people to physically regress, however, that was the most logical solution. A solution that was supported by the fact that Kudo Shinichi was on that same victim list, and Edogawa Conan could be traced back to appearing the same day that Shinichi disappeared.
I would have to talk to him later.
I duck as Mary spring jumps off the hotel bed, and I manage to catch her… only for her to twist in my grip, fluidly moving to try to choke me out with her legs.
I understand why she sees me as an enemy, the organization poisoned her, and thanks to that unfortunate call earlier I was outed as a member of the organization to her daughter and I suppose her as well just by extension.
I find myself wondering just how far she's willing to take this. Will she see me as a serious enough threat that she's willing to kill her own daughter's body to get rid of me, or is she just trying to knock out and restrain me so she can interrogate me?
More likely than not she's going for the interrogation. It is a bit strange that she jumped straight to attacking instead of trying to get information out of me peacefully first. Perhaps she's gotten some amount of information from Conan already, or maybe I'm just destined to come to blows with members of this family. Whatever the reason she doesn't seem to be holding back, but she also doesn't feel like she's aiming to kill either, she's not even using a weapon.
I let myself fall backwards onto the hotel bed, forcing her to either let go or be faced with my weight falling onto her. She chooses to hold on.
We're on a bed so the blow is no doubt considerably cushioned, but with her small body I still wouldn't be surprised if this results in a broken rib or some internal hemorrhaging. At the very least, her grip loosens for a moment.
I take advantage of the moment to say, "I'll talk."
As fun as a good fight can be, there's no point in this one continuing.
Shinichi looks nervous, and I get why, I really do. It's hard to tell Ran dangerous information, but it's just the right thing to do. It probably doesn't help that he did a lot of silly childish things as Conan to convince us he was a normal kid.
It definitely doesn't help that we'll have to explain this whole body-swapping nonsense first. We can't just walk up to Ran with Shinichi in my body and have him just go "oh just so you know I'm Conan but I'm also Shinichi" and expect that to be that. I really hadn't thought that part through.
I'm not sure I thought any of this through actually, and that's a little bit scary, but I hold on to the sense that I'm doing the right thing.
Thinking about it now I'm not even sure why I didn't tell Ran about this body thing right away. She has a right to know who she's been making dinners for. Maybe I was waiting til I had a better idea of what was going on before telling her- and I definitely still have questions but at this point I feel like we understand enough that I should have just told her by now. So maybe that's not it, maybe I was just in denial and hoping that if I ignored the problem it would just go away.
I don't know what I was thinking.
But now here we are in front of the detective agency. Ran should be getting home from school soon, she'll have probably stopped by the store on the way home to pick up groceries since today was discount day at the local market. She'd start cooking, and since I'm Amuro right now she'd ask if I'm staying for dinner, and I would because I'm already missing her cooking-
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Shinichi askes, shooting a look that tells me just how scared he is. At this point I'm not sure if it's the evil murder organization or Ran's potential reaction that's scaring him, probably both.
I nod as he goes to unlock the door, "She deserves to know everything."
We make our way inside.
"You're right but when you say everything do you really-"
"Everything." I reiterate sternly.
"Even if you don't know everything yourself yet?" He asks warily.
Shit, he's still got stuff he's hiding? How much burden has this teen- this kid been trying to bear alone? Wait, is he even alone? He might have some kind of help at least. I don't know how much I don't know, and I definitely don't like that.
"Yeah, everything," I confirm, "and I'll be listening too, so I can know everything."
He sighs and takes a seat, taking a quick glance at one of the probably empty beer cans sitting on my desk. I absolutely understand, I'm feeling like I could use a drink right now myself. But he shakes his head slightly as he resists the urge, good kid; I guess that means I'll have to hold back too as the responsible adult here.
"Then… I should probably tell you one more thing before Ran gets here… so you don't get blindsided and get upset later…"
He's hesitant, which I guess makes sense if this is something he thinks will upset me.
I nod, "go on."
"The Sleeping Kogoro is both of us. Not just you."
It takes a moment for me to process that, and once I do I am a bit upset, because in hindsight he's right.
Now that I know what to look for I can distinctly remember Conan constantly popping up and giving me hints to help me solve almost every case I'd had since he'd started living with us. I thought Conan was my good luck charm but he was-
"You've been holding my hand through cases this whole time like you think I'm incompetent!" I say a little louder than I mean to, shouting it out feels kind of good though.
He looks away a little, "well umm… there is that, but… I mean more than that. You're the face of the Sleeping Kogoro, but I'm the detective. I've been… knocking you out, and using your voice for my deductions…"
Okay, that's worse. That's a lot worse. So much worse that I'm not really sure how to react.
Several questions pass through my mind as I find myself staring at my own face making a sheepish expression.
Why would he be knocking me out? How would he even be knocking me out? He's been in the body of a six year old for crying out loud, and it's not like it's easy to knock out a full grown man, so how? Come to think of it there is that sharp prickle I often feel right before I solve a case… has that been his doing? Is he drugging me?
Is that why I've been feeling sleepy whenever I'm really thinking about a case these days? I hate to admit that one actually makes sense.
Does this mean that none of the work that's made me famous this past year has been my own? Have I just been piggybacking off the success of a kid that was just letting me because he had no choice? What was he going to do when he eventually returned to his own body and didn't need to hide behind my face? Would he have just left me famous and full of a completely unearned confidence, or would he have said something?
Now I really wish I had a beer after all, but no, I'm trying to be the responsible adult here.
I'm also trying very hard to not shout at the kid that just shared information that he probably would have much rather just kept to himself, information that I really wish I knew way sooner.
There's a sound from the stairwell. Ran's home.
But something's wrong, there's a haste to the sound of her footsteps as she's coming up the stairs. Somewhere in the back of my mind I find myself thinking that I probably wouldn't have noticed that normally, I try to ignore that thought and instead focus on figuring out what's wrong.
Ran opens the door to the office a little bit aggressively, "Thank goodness you're here- Dad have you heard anything from Mom lately?"
Finally things had started to seem like they were calming down a little.
Sure, there were still five detective's bodyswapped with each other that would likely stay that way until they discovered each other's secrets- that was definitely still a problem. But the secrets seemed like they were starting to come out, so this would probably be over sometime soon and attention could be redirected to more important things.
Important things like the fact that there were apparently two different criminal organizations running around, and at least half of these detectives were investigating them but not sharing any info with each other. The fact that I haven't been sharing information with any of them until very recently doesn't count, unlike the rest of them I'm not a detective I'm a thief, so I shouldn't be expected to be sharing anything.
But since I'm in this situation anyway and being forced to trust these guys with my secret I feel like I need to see things through. So I'm going to do what needs to be done to get the rest of them to start talking about their secrets. For that I'll need information though.
So I'm finally getting around to asking Akako what she's been able to figure out about the gems.
At this point it's already been a few days since the girl detective had entrusted the Maiden's Heart gem to her, so surely she's figured something about it's magic out by now. If anything, talking to her about it was long overdue at this point.
And so here I was talking with Akako during lunch break, but I have to psyche myself up a bit first.
I had never wanted to be so open about my identity with her, but much like Saguru she's made it pretty clear she already knows. And she's even helped me out a few times, though she's usually pretty prickly about it. I can probably trust her… probably. Nevermind that I don't really have a choice, the fact that I had the gem given to her is as good as an admission of guilt anyway, not trusting her simply isn't an option anymore.
I try to push the nerves away and start, "Hey Akako, any luck with the gem?"
"Oh? Ready to talk about it, are you?" She asks, tone haughty as she levels me an almost annoyed look, "You've been back to being yourself a few days now haven't you?"
"Yeah but… look, a lot has been going on. There are so many detectives around, and they all bring different drama to the table."
"I can imagine… but it's not as if you're free of drama yourself."
I feel myself sighing before I can even think about it, "... Yeah… Anyway, the gem, any luck?"
Sure, at this point we're pretty sure that it's related to secrets, but having that confirmed would go a long way. Besides, we don't know how it decided that the seven of us were the targets; there were dozens of people in the building that night, but the seven of us had been singled out to be affected by the magic.
"Yes, I've been able to identify the spell held by the magic stone you entrusted to me." She states, "It's designed to target a group of people that are bound together by their secrets."
"That tracks with what we've experienced so far… but why the seven of us?"
"Well, I imagine that you held the gem up like you normally do… so you would have been selected first… then the next person had a secret close to yours, then the next had a secret that connected to that one… and so on until there were seven of you."
So the secrets connect to one another? I suppose that's new information. Unfortunately the word 'connect' makes it pretty vague.
Though looking at things with the understanding that there was a connection made it easy to finds some. If we assume the order was the path the light had taken that night then the one after me would have been Shinichi, and it didn't take much thinking to see similarities between my secret and his. We were both hiding our identities.
But it's not like all seven of us are hiding identities, so then do some of us have two secrets? One that connects to one person and one that connects to another? If that's the case then would they have to reveal both secrets or just one? Saguru only revealed one, so maybe it's just one…
Before I can continue that particular spiral I decided to just try to ask, "Any idea how it decides what secrets?"
"It should be the target's deepest secret, one that they feel will ruin them if it becomes known."
I guess that makes sense, but surely Saguru having a crush on me isn't exactly a life-ruining secret… or not. I can kind of see why it would be actually. With him being a detective it'd be problematic for him to be romantically interested in Kaitou Kid, and even if he were to switch careers himself his family is high up in the police chain of command so he still wouldn't be in the clear, not to mention the stigmas that come with not being straight in Japan where the culture is built around reading the mood and not breaking away from the status quo… he was probably planning to take that one to his grave.
"What if someone has more than one secret like that?" I ask, just trying to cover my bases.
"I'd wager it'd still be whichever one is the more damning in the opinion of the secret's keeper," She answers, but it's not a confident answer. Still, I can work with that.
"Alright, thanks, I'll have to pass that along to the detectives."
"You're welcome," She smiles softly, "So then, it seems you've learned to be more comfortable with showing the white of your feathers than you have been in the past. What changed?"
"I'm trying something new," I admit, not really wanting to elaborate.
Thankfully, she doesn't ask me to.