Haibara hated Conan's plan. That was not unusual - she tended to hate most of his plans in general.
First she tried to tell him some nonsense about it being "dangerous," but he refused to hear it. Kid would never hurt anyone, not even nosy detectives who broke into his house. He was so sure of it that he had laughed off her concerns until she switched tactics and tried to tell him again about the problems with the temporary antidote. That he conceded, but he reminded her it had been a long time since he'd taken one and would be a long time until he took one again and it would just be one single dose and he'd be careful and couldn't she see that this was important and did she even have a heart it was only for this one time please please please?
Only when he'd explained more details of his plan to her, including the part that required her to participate and accompany him in the search, did she inexplicably change her mind about the "risks" and agree to help.
First, they spent over a week simply stalking Kuroba on social media. His posts were always random and ranged from trivially mundane… to utterly indecipherable. For example, last Wednesday he had posted:
6:42 - 'most precious little cutie ever! ❤️' as a caption for a picture of one of his doves eating what appeared to be a bunny shaped marshmallow for some reason.
7:14 - 'pink polka dots' which had garnered quite a few dislikes and angry comments from Nakamori-chan and several of the other girls in the class, which was weird.
11:30 - 'New four chocolate fudge cake sunday flavor at Sakura Cafe, YOLO!'
3:21 - 'blond is too borinnnggg other colors are better~~' which received a reply from Hakuba, 'Please refrain, I have an interview tomorrow.' That seemed like a rather disconnected conversation but also vaguely ominous somehow.
6:08 - 'new trick is gunna be so awesome when finished plz look forward to it! 😇' with a somewhat foreboding picture of a slightly singed and damp carpet covered with spots of glitter.
Conan had to wonder what it must be like to attend class 3B at Ekoda High. Were the teachers really that lenient toward him? Or was he just impossible to discipline? Well, on second thought, yeah, probably. This was The Kaitou Kid after all. But at least the class wouldn't be boring. Conan would certainly have preferred that over his own elementary school classroom if given the choice.
Haibara had scoffed at him for actually reading through all of Kuroba's posts, and even had the gall to say "Congratulations on finding out that the Phantom Thief likes candy, oh great master sleuth, I'm sure this is the crucial missing information that the task force has been looking for all along to finally bring him in."
"All knowledge is valuable, Haibara," he'd shot back annoyed, without looking up from his computer where he continued to scroll through Kuroba's page. "You never know what little fact might prove useful later in an investigation."
"Yes, I'm sure you have entirely pure motivations for stalking the person you're obsessed with."
"Investing a criminal, and yes, of course I do," he corrected dryly. And then proceeded to completely undermine his own words with his unconscious smiles and huffs of laughter at Kuroba's mock serious commentary on the current state of imported peonies and why daisies were the superior flower.
So far, he'd discovered that Kuroba liked sweets, doves, animals in general, anything magic related, and pulling pranks on anyone too slow to escape them, which is to say, anyone within sight. He appeared to hate Hakuba for some reason, and had a… strange relationship with Nakamori-chan where it was impossible to tell if the two were best friends or hated each other. Dating, maybe? That thought didn't sit well with him at all, and he dismissed it. Though he did go back and read through their bios again and noted with relief that Nakamori-chan at least had listed herself as single. Kuroba hadn't filled in his relationship status, but it was a reasonable deduction that he was single if the only people he interacted with were as well. He breathed a sigh of relief.
He was relieved because if Kuroba had been dating someone, it would have made Conan's investigation much more difficult. Being relieved that one's plans were not foiled was an entirely normal and expected response.
Later, after obtaining questionable access to what looked suspiciously like tax records, Haibara even found Kuroba's home address. He lived in a very average looking house, right next door to the Nakamori's, which they both got a good laugh out of. At first, Conan had assumed he must live there with his mother, but Kuroba Chikage's social media was flooded with more-than-daily selfies in front of chic cafes and scenic landmarks throughout Europe and America. It seemed she hadn't even been in Japan for quite a while, which meant that her son lived alone.
Conan had felt very vindicated at this discovery and reminded Haibara that it was indeed useful to cyber-stalk Kid after all. She hadn't responded except to give him a half-smirk as if she knew something he didn't. Which was annoying and frustrating, like most of his interactions with her.
But with that last fact in place, they were finally ready to move on to the next phase of the plan.
The next phase of the plan was waiting. Conan hated waiting. So yes, he might've felt a bit grumpy. Apparently he wasn't hiding it as well as he thought, since Ran was concerned about him and even the detective boys had to ask what was wrong when he kicked the soccer ball hard enough to dent playground equipment in their games after school.
It had already been eight horrible long days since he'd finalized his plan and yet been unable to carry it out. Eight days of continued sleep deprivation. He was dying to get to the investigation so that he could finally get the thief out of his mind. In the meantime, he sulked and poked sullenly at his breakfast.
"Conan-kun? What's wrong? Do you want to talk about it?" Ran asked yet again, ever optimistic.
"Oh, it's nothing, Ran-nee-chan!"
"Brats don't have anything to be sad about, especially not free-loading brats who have everything they could ever want," Mouri muttered.
Ran turned to scold her father but their attention was caught by the tell-tale white card that flashed on the news channel of the tv that was playing in the background.
"Ran-nee-chan, raise the volume!" he cried out, stumbling over his feet as he scrambled to the tv to get a better look before the view changed.
The newscasters started speculating over the meaning of the note, and Conan sat back on his heels with his hand to his chin to decipher it.
"Moouuu, you really like Kid heists, don't you Conan-kun? Is that why you've been sad lately? Did you miss Kid?" Ran asked sweetly as she picked him up.
"Here, finish your breakfast first, Conan-kun! You don't want to be late for school, do you?" she said gently, putting him down and turning off the tv. "I know what will cheer you up - how about this? If the heist isn't too late on a school night, maybe we can go together, ok? But only if you're good until then!"
"Ah - uh, ok!" he tried for a childish smile, already knowing that he was going to be 'camping with the professor' that day.
Ran was not happy when he told her he had to skip the Kid heist. "You're just planning on sneaking away to go to the heist by yourself, aren't you Conan-kun? You're always being too reckless with these things! Even if Kid won't hurt you, what if you get lost or something?" She placed her hands on her hips and gave him he stern expression.
"Eh? No, of course I'm not going to sneak to the heist, Ran-nee-chan! This camping trip has been planned even before the heist notice came out, and my friends will be really sad if I don't go!" It wasn't even 100% a lie - he had in fact been planning this excuse since before the notice came out.
"That's never stopped you before," Sonoko pointed out bitterly. "My uncle specifically asked for you to come, you know."
"Sorry, Sonoko-nee-chan! I'll come to the next one and then I'll catch Kid for sure!" Conan said with an awkward laugh. Of course this heist had to be for a Suzuki owned jewel. He hoped Kid wouldn't notice his absence, but it wasn't worth worrying about, especially since Hakuba had recently started attending heists again. Kid should have more than enough to keep him occupied without noticing or caring about exactly which detectives came to which heists.
"But remember, when you catch him, hand him over to me instead of the police! My Kid-sama is too precious for jail!" Sonoko emphasized her point by poking his forehead several times. He gave her one of his trademark deadpan stares, and Ran smiled placatingly.
"Just don't get into any trouble, ok Conan-kun? Be on your best behavior for the Professor."
"Ok!" he chirped. Ran really made a good big sister, he thought fondly as he hurried out the door and hopped onto his skateboard to get to the professor's house as quickly as possible. Still, he felt guilty that he had to keep lying to her, and wouldn't even be able to "visit" her as Shinichi this weekend since it would be too conspicuous. Some day, though, he told himself. Then his thoughts shifted as he arrived, slammed the door behind him, threw his bag off to the side, and bounded up to Haibara, who handed him the familiar blue and white pill.
The antidote worked quickly, and after he'd had a few minutes to calm down from the pain, he started on the disguise, if a mere change of outfit and hairstyle could even be called that.
They'd purchased a simple outfit earlier that week based on a photo of Kuroba that Nakamori-chan had posted recently. Kuroba had a somewhat questionable sense of fashion, Shinichi thought as he eyed the blue and purple striped v-neck with distaste. Then Haibara climbed up onto the bathroom counter to help him style his hair, and he cringed at the sheer quantity of hair gel needed, and at the absolute tragedy of his normally meticulously styled hair being mangled into this garbage heap look. At least the color of the contact lenses was nice. It really was a unique and lovely shade of indigo, now that he saw it in the light. He popped them in then leaned over the counter to examine them up close in the mirror and make sure they were in properly and seemed natural and didn't have any flaws.
"Let me know when you're done ogling yourself so that we can leave," Haibara said airily.
"Eh? What? Why - Haibara, why are you always saying dumb things like that?"
"Because you are too oblivious to see it coming and very amusing when flustered." Indeed, he had blushed a deep pink from just that one comment. "Your disguise is perfect since you already have the same face and nearly the same voice, so stop checking yourself out and let's go."
So, grumbling all the way, he followed her outside to where Agase-hakase was already waiting for them in his little yellow beetle.
Shinichi stepped up to the door and hesitated when he considered whether to knock or ring the doorbell. He thought for a moment, reflecting on what he knew from his interactions with Kid, then rapidly hit the doorbell four or five times in a row.
"Uggg, Kaitoooo!" an exasperated female voice came from inside, followed by the sounds of someone approaching the door. "I thought you said you weren't coming to dinner today? You already missed it anyway, so did you want leftovers or something?" Aoko continued talking as she opened the door.
Shinichi was relieved to see that she didn't pause for even a moment when she saw him, indicating that she didn't notice anything off about her childhood friend. He kept a neutral look on his face as he answered her.
"Aoko, you have a spare key to my house, right? Could I borrow it? I sort of… misplaced mine."
"Eh? But you never lose anything! And why not pick your lock? You're always showing off how fast you can pick locks!"
Of course. It figures Kuroba would have no qualms about picking the lock to his own house, even in full view of the neighbors. What an outrageous person he was. Shinichi couldn't compete with that. Time to increase the lie then.
"Ah well, I lost my lock picking kit too…"
"Hehehe… I was maybe practicing a levitating trick? Over the river? And it kind of… stopped levitating?" he tried to look sheepish, which was challenging because he couldn't imagine either the cocky Kaitou Kid or the energetic Kuroba Kaito being embarrassed about anything, but it was necessary for this lie that they'd rehearsed.
"Ohh, of course, the river, that makes sense now," Aoko said quickly, in a complete reversal of her previous disbelief. That was unexpected. Was it sarcasm? But no, Aoko was turning to fetch the keys without even a hint of suspicion. So apparently there was some connection between Kuroba and the river that they didn't know about? Could he not swim? That was hard to believe.
"Here, here's the spare key. Let me know if you need anything else."
"Thanks Aoko, you're the best!" He turned to leave but was interrupted. "Oh, Kaito, would you like to watch the heist with me? I promise I won't say too many mean things about Kid this time so you can enjoy the show." Why was she being so nice to him all of a sudden? This was not what Shinichi had expected from their relationship based on all the bickering he'd seen online.
"Thanks Aoko. I've got some stuff to take care of at home, but maybe I'll come by when I'm done. The heist doesn't start for another hour, right?"
"Yeah, of course, see you later then," she said cheerily and closed the door as he hurried away.
He was wary entering the Kuroba household. He knew that Kid always arrived to the heists very early, sometimes half a day in advance, and all the lights in the house were off, so he didn't expect anyone to be home. But he didn't know what kind of security system the thief might have, or worse, any homemade traps or pranks he might've set. However, nothing exploded or sprayed silly string when he opened the door, and he couldn't find any cameras or security devices as he quickly scanned the rooms visible from the entry, so he relaxed slightly.
Shinichi pulled on a pair of gloves then carefully made his way to the back door, peeking into the rooms he passed and trying to behave naturally. He opened the door a crack and stuck his head out to look around. He couldn't see anything, but a dark shape quickly emerged from behind the bushes and slid into the house beside him.
"Well done getting inside," Haibara told him as she put on on her own gloves.
"You as well. I didn't see you there at all."
"That was the point. Now how are we going to do this?"
"First I'm going to do a quick sweep of the house to make sure we're alone. Then we want to start looking for anything Kid related, which will most likely be hidden in a secret compartment somewhere. We'll want to look for drawers with false bottoms, loose floorboards, trick books, or safes hidden behind picture frames. Try to avoid anything covered in dust - he's at a heist right now so we know that wherever he keeps his gear won't be dusty, and we don't want him to suspect that anyone's been here."
"Hmm. The pictures are not within my reach so I guess I'll look at drawers and floorboards."
"Alright, let's go."
Fortunately, the house was not large (or perhaps it just felt that way because he was twice the size he was used to and the house was a fraction the size of the Kudou manor). It took no time at all to confirm that it was empty and to get an idea of the layout.
There was a single bookshelf in the living room, but all its books were genuine. Family photographs lined the hallways, and though Shinichi took a few minutes just to look at them, none of them proved to be hiding anything.
"I couldn't find any trick drawers or floorboards in the kitchen or bathroom down here, though of course it's possible they're just well hidden, " Haibara reported.
"Let's check upstairs next before doing a second search."
Kuroba's room was surprisingly plain. A single twin sized bed with mostly tidy blue sheets, a desk with a laptop, a half bookshelf filled with school books, and a life sized poster of his dad from one of his magic shows. They couldn't find anything suspicious under the bed or in any of the desk drawers. They even flipped through a few of the school textbooks hoping they might be fronts, but to no avail.
"Alright, so the last thing left to check in this room is the poster and then - huh, that's strange. I can't push it to the side. Is it glued to the wall? Or maybe…" he gave an experimental push forward on the frame and nearly face-planted as he tumbled headlong through the wall.
"Kudou-kun! Are you ok?" Haibara's muffled voice called after him in concern.
He sat up and rubbed his head. Motion activated lights around him flickered to life, revealing a large room straight out of any Kid fan's wildest dreams. He laughed loudly in triumph. "Haibara, you've got to see this!"
She entered the room more cautiously, then looked around impressed. "Kuroba-kun is very lucky that you're not here to arrest him."
"As much as I'd love to arrest him tonight, technically I'm breaking and entering right now, so it's not like I could use this evidence in court anyway. Still, it can't hurt to look around and get some photos. You have the camera ready?"
"Of course. Go stand over there by the costume and act like you don't know there's a camera."
Shinichi had far too much fun running about the room, faking candid photos, admiring the various gadgets, drooling over the car, flipping through papers, and even collecting a few fingerprints. But to his disappointment, there was nothing hinting at the thief's goals or motives. Not that he'd necessarily expected to find anything, but it did make the next phase of the investigation more difficult.
"You look like you're about to have a bad idea," Haibara commented.
"I think we should go to the Blue Parrot and try to talk to Jii-san." They had learned about Jii-san when Agase-hakase had absently commented about his friend that he sold inventions to as they drove past the Blue Parrot on the way over. He'd immediately tried to cover his slip-up, but when pressed had finally admitted that he'd been somewhat knowingly supplying Kaitou Kid with gadgets for nearly 20 years now. Since they knew that Jii-san was not Kid himself, they'd surmised that he must be the assistant.
"But think about it - we can't exactly go next door and talk to Aoko about Kid! I'm sure she doesn't even know. His mother and his assistant are probably the only people who might be able to tell us more about everything, and his mother is in Paris right now. That only leaves Jii-san."
"May I remind you that 'you' are supposed to be at a heist right now? What will Jii-san think if you suddenly show up now? If he's not at the heist with Kid, that is."
"I know, but the antidote really doesn't give us a lot of time. Maybe I can go see him after Kid escapes? Or perhaps in the early morning… ahhh no that won't work since the bar won't be open first thing on a Saturday morning! Or—"
"What's that noise?"
"Huh? What noise?"
"It sounds like music!"
Shinichi froze and listened intently for a moment, then hurried past the poster back into Kuroba's room to find the laptop displaying an incoming video call from Kuroba Chikage.
He glanced down at Haibara who had followed at his heels, made sure the poster had stopped spinning, then slid naturally into the chair and clicked accept, ignoring Haibara's wide-eyed silent horror.