"I don't know where your head was at. Trusting one detective maybe, but walking into a room with three…and one of them being Hakuba-kun. Kaito you are just going to-"
Kaito's sheepish grin turns into a slightly bigger one as he sweeps forward and wraps his arms around his mother for a brief hug, cutting her off. He steps back, and offers a dark pink rose.
"I need to make sure that you to know how grateful I am to you…and dad…for everything. Just trust me to know what to do. Hakuba-kun might have been suspicious but I'm certain that neither of the other two will let on that I wasn't who I said I was."
Chikage's expression goes back and forth between exasperation and surrender. When she takes the rose, he takes her hand and places a kiss on the back of it. As she watches, the head comes up and the monocle flashes, turning the moment into one from years ago, seeing another white-clothed male kneel before her after a close call. He too had asked for her trust, only the rose at that time had been a yellow one…for an apology.
"You Kuroba men love to have flowers do your talking. Perhaps a flower garden would leave you without any need for words. Just leave a bouquet somewhere that says what you want to and leave it at that."
With a smile, her son tips his head to the side.
"I'm not sure how Aoko would react to that. Is she fluent enough to understand them?"
"Takagi-kun…what are you thinking about?"
Sato observes her partner. He had appeared to be deep in thought since he hadn't notice her approach at all. Now, his fidgeting clearly says he doesn't want to talk about it.
"Ah…you see…I was just…thinking about Conan-kun…how he sometimes acts so much older at times before suddenly acting his age…or…at least closer to it." Takagi sighs, "Also…this is a bit funny…earlier…I heard Hakuba-kun claim that Conan-kun was actually Kudo-kun. I…I sorta considered it for a moment…until Kudo-kun approached to visit Conan-kun…he just left…didn't you pass him?"
"No," Sato says, shaking her head. "I didn't see Kudo-kun."
Sato looked at her partner and then toward the door. She'd heard similar theories before but knew better. It was impossible: a teenager with the appearance of a child.
"Well, well, well. So this is where you live. A detective agency for the detective brat. Cute."
Carlene dips the sunglasses a bit as she looks up the stairs before entering the diner. The morning rush is almost gone so she slips to the back and, when the waitress comes over, she smiles at her.
"Coffee and…can you tell me if the detective upstairs is any good?"
She finishes with the air of someone that is a little embarrassed. The woman smiles back and nods.
"Mouri-san is wonderful. He and the kids are down here often enough and Conan-kun is learning a lot from him. He and his little friends have solved a few cases on their own too. Anything you need, ask Mouri-san or, if it's a lost item or something, you could even ask Conan-kun."
Carlene balances her excitement to pleased interest and asks the woman if she can hear more. While she's getting the coffee, Carlene slips out her phone and adds that tidbit of info to her memo pad.
'If I can get you alone then forget waiting, I'll take the first chance I get…besides, most accidents happen at or near the home. Not right to fight statistics.'
She looks back up and takes the coffee as the woman sits across from her and offers examples and stories she'd heard, including her personal experiences. The way she describes it, the kid sounded almost as good as Mouri Kogoro.
"So, they really caught the ring all by themselves? Those kids are very impressive. My problem isn't too big; maybe I should just ask Conan-kun to take care of it instead of bothering the Meitantei."
Carlene smiles to herself when the woman supports her and even offers to pass the word straight to him.
"Do you know when he'll be back?"
"No, but I'm sure you don't need to worry, Mouri-san and Ran-chan were here; they stopped by with a friend of Ran-chan's to pick up breakfast not 10 minutes before you arrived. I'm sure they'll be back with Conan-kun since Ran-chan was asking if they'd bring him home today. You can wait or leave a number."
Carlene smiles at her and shakes her head while standing to put some money on the table.
"Just tell him I'll stop by later. It's not so much of an emergency: just tracking down someone I haven't seen in a couple years."
After walking out, Carlene glances back though the glass to see the woman cleaning the table. She goes to the stairs and up, passing the first door to come to the top landing. The lock was easy.
'No deadbolt, really? A detective should know better.'
Once done, Carlene slips in, checking the rooms off the main one. The first one had to be the teenage girl's from the stuff in it, as well as a futon on the floor. The next one was more promising. Plainer but the bed roll off to the side and the mix of clothing sizes told her enough.
'Well, well, well. So the boy bunks here…'
She peaked out the window and wondered if there was a way to get to it from outside…maybe the roof.
Kaito jerks awake, cursing falling asleep and wondering what woke him at first until he sees the girl sitting up and panting.
"He's fine. Last night he was talking to Hattori-kun for a bit before falling asleep."
He sees her relax and reaches out to touch her forehead, stopping when she tenses.
"Just checking to make sure you don't have a temp. Mom said you were fine but I'm still worried and just want to make sure."
The girl's eyes stay on him and he feels like he's being examined…'These detectives, especially the shorter ones, can really creep me out when they do that. It's not normal at their age.'
"Good. So…what do we call you?"
The girl's look says something changed and he raises his hands, still smiling but thinking he may have to change that. He shrugs and motions at her.
"It's not like I can just call you 'girl'-"
"And you know I don't know my real name since you'd have asked for that instead. You know a lot more than you've admitted."
Kaito can't believe he did that. He'd have to keep in mind that she is like Tantei-kun but before he can cover, she continues.
"I suppose it would be safer that they don't know I'm alive. They can't use me or Conan-kun anymore, but whoever they were after is still in danger and they never said who."
Kaito grins wider. The choices he had were many but his mom had said he couldn't keep a detective and he agreed. The girl was still good and if she got her memory back while spending time with him, then teamed up with Saguru again, he'd be busted…again.
"Maybe Conan-kun can help. Kids are good at coming up with nicknames."
Kaito raises an eyebrow and shakes his head with a smile.
"Not only is that taken, but you're a girl so you can't use that."
She rolled her eyes at him. Was that a habit among them? Aoko and the detectives seemed to love doing that.
"I know that, but he was likely named for Sir Arthur ConanDoyle."
"Yeah, those won't work either."
"I know that too, but I'm thinking of another mystery writer, a femalemystery writer, like Agatha Christie."
Kaito looks at her, wondering if that was how Tantei-kun had done it. The kid was almost as much a Holmes nut as Saguru so it was possible. A 'C' name would work too and he could force him to pass her off as…yep.
"For a first name. If anyone asks I'd need-"
"Nope. You're fine. I got that sorted and a way for you to stay close to Conan-kun and find whoever you said is also being threatened. Here."
In a flash of pink smoke, he changes her clothes to a white shirt and the pair of glasses he'd swiped from the hospital room the first time. He grins as she sits there with a look of shock on her face. She reaches up for the glasses and looks at him.
"You want to check on Conan-kun, so, be part of his family. You can pass for a cousin and for all anyone needs to know, you're Edogawa Christie. Think of it as an... undercover protection detail."
Kaito winks and reaches out to pick her up when she shakes her head.
"I can't see with these. It's like when I wasn't wearing them last time."
Kaito considers that and takes them off.
"I guess false lenses are better than none."
He turns from her and then back and puts them on her again. This time, the polished lenses are now simple glass. After Scorpion's shot, he'd kept extra lenses, as close to Tantei-kun's as he could, at each of his hideaways. Who knew he'd be using them to make fake glasses for a mini detective? He picks her up despite the looks and protests and heads out, reminding her that she wants to check on Conan-kun. Low but it quiets her…that, or the sleeping gas.
"Conan-kun, you're awake. I'm so glad you're alright."
"He really missed ya."
Conan inwardly cringes as Ran reaches down and wraps him in a hug.
'Hattori, I swear, I will get you back.'
He looks at Heiji over her shoulder but can't even give him a look or mouth a threat with Saguru standing right there…maybe. As soon as Ran releases him, he points to Heiji.
"Heiji-niichan is awake too and missed Kazuha-neechan; does that mean he gets a hug as well?"
Heiji's expression is worth it but anything further stops when the door opens and Kogoro walks in with the doctor, who smiles at them.
"You're OK to leave. Just take it easy for the rest of the day. No driving or heavy lifting."
The doctor's joke gets a few laughs and Conan makes sure to add his, especially with Saguru there. The doctor nods to Kogoro and leaves but the door doesn't shut before Inspector Megure enters and looks toward Saguru. As soon as the blond meets the inspector's eye, the man shakes his head. Conan knows why Saguru is the one the head shake is intended for.
"You haven't found her yet."
Conan feels Ran put her hand on his shoulder. He looks over at Saguru and reads his body language. The girl had saved his life twice now but Saguru seems to be the one that is taking it the hardest. Conan figures he can put the 'little kid' act to work again.
"Don't worry, Hakuba-niisan, I'm sure they'll find her."
Saguru looks over at him and Conan winces internally. He had not meant to give away that he noticed Saguru's reaction when it was so small. Saguru's eyeing him again but Ran gives him a hug and encourages him.
"Of course, Conan-kun. It's just taking a little longer."
Conan can tell it is more for his benifit but he lets her, feeling sure that the girl had died in the water last night and even if she is found, it will not be alive. Outwardly, he smiles and nods, following Ran as they leave the room to head back to the agency. Inwardly, he is trying to figure out who was behind this and how to catch them. They had involved him and now, they would find out that that was a mistake.
"You. Are. Insane. Do you know that?"
Kaito grins at the girl and holds her tighter as he jumps, waiting a beat before activating the glider. This is the only real idea that works to make sure she won't try to identify him later. After all, Kaitou Kid could be anybody and, as quick as she was, knowing him as Kid was safer than a random person whose description was way too close to Kudo Shinichi. Tantei-kun would start putting the pieces together too and that meant the others would get the hints.
"I've heard that more than once. I live for it."
He hold her close and heads to the hospital. When he figures he can catch them at the agency he turns sharply, the girl gripping his arm and gasping.
"Relax. I'm just going to set you up so you can keep an eye on Conan-kun and not be suspicious. It's what you want, right?"
The girl seems to relax a bit in his hold and looks away at the area below. Flying was something no one could really ignore, even at night. He heads over, coming down on the roof of the building across the street. A snap of his fingers and a small bit of smoke left him standing over the young girl dressed as Kudo once more. He smiles and takes her hand.
"Time for you to meet your cousin. He'll listen to me, so let me do the talking."
"Well, well, well…who are you?"
Carlene eyes the teenage boy and the little girl that walk up to the agency. The files had nothing on them but if they were coming here, they may be connected to one of them. The girl esecially since she appears to be about the same age at the boy. The teen was leading when a cab pulls up. She watches as a teenage girl she recognizes from the hospital climbs out and freezes, looking at the two on the sidewalk. She can't make out what the girl says as starts toward the teen but as soon as the boy she was waiting for gets out, the little girl cries out louder, pulls away from the male teen and runs over.
"Conan-kun! You're OK. I was so worried. I heard that-"
Conan stares as the girl runs from that doppelganging jerk and straight at him, actually grabbing him in a hug. He has no idea who she was but looks up to see Ran had turned to look at them, giving Kid the chance to grin at him. What had that smug bastard done and how did he get this girl to go along with it? Kid, wearing his face, scratches the back of his head.
"Gomen. Christie-chan was coming to visit you and heard about the second kidnapping. She refused to go anywhere but here to wait for you. I hope you don't mind but I really can't stay, I just had to bring her here, and, see you, Ran."
Conan sees Ran blush when Kid puts his hand on her shoulder. He really wished this girl wasn't looking him over like some nurse and let him at the guy.
"Shinichi, do you have to leave?"
"Yeah. I need to get on to that case. If you could, do you mind asking Agasa to watch after her, her mother's sick and with Conan-kun's parents out of touch, she couldn't stay with them. I thought it was better if she's at least able to hang out with someone she knows."
Ran turns just as the girl finally lets go of him and smiles at the two of them. Ran steps over and kneels down in front of them.
"I can see that. So, your name's Christie. I'm Ran-"
"I know. I mean, I heard him call you that so…I know."
Conan looks sideways at the girl. She was nervous now and looked as though she was trying not to look at Kid.
"OK. Christie-chan, you do whatever Ran says. I know you'll behave for her as well as your cousin. See you later."
Kid smiles, turns and leaves before Ran can stand up and stop him but Conan feels worse when she calls after him. He was so going to get Kid for doing this to Ran. She had it hard enough as it was without him running from her again.
"What's this? He's dumping another kid on us? No way. We're not an orphanage; she's going to the professor's."
Ran settles her hands on the girl's shoulders when she flinched and bit her lip.
"It's way too late to go over there; they're likely asleep by now. You and Conan-kun both get to bed now. She can stay in my room tonight. We can sort this all out tomorrow." Ran looks at the girl and smiles. "He's just grouchy because he's up so late, don't take it personally. Come on. I can make you up a bed on the floor in my room. Do you have a suitcase?"
"Um…no, it…it got lost."
"Well, we'll take care of that tomorrow too."
Ran takes her hand and grabs Conan-kun's too. Her dad heads up ahead of them and opens the door, sulking, and goes straight to the bedroom, shutting the door. If they were going to have another kid here tonight, Ran was going to deal with them, not him.
"Here, you can sleep right here tonight."
Ran unrolls Conan-kun's sleeping bag over her own folded comforter. She thought it was really cute how the little girl had kept glancing at Conan-kun even if she had suddenly become very shy around both of them. It was as if she thought she had gone too far hugging him and was trying to keep her distance. She moves the girl closer, passing the girl one of her nightgowns, even though it would be large on her and shoo's Conan-kun out. He had been staring at her with a strange look and she shuts the door before looking down at him.
"I guess it's been awhile but the fact that you're acting like you don't know her at all is making her feel bad. She was obviously worried about you, the least you can do is talk to her and let her know you're OK yourself."
"No, it's not that. I-"
Ran sighs sadly and puts her arms around him.
"I get it. You're still thinking about that other girl. Megure-keibu said they'd keep looking and I'm sure they'll find her too."
Ran had to do her best to give him hope and keep his spirits up. She hoped too that, by some miracle, the mystery girl had survived the river and been found like Conan-kun had.
A/N: OK, I am sooooooo sorry about the long hiatus. The collab between LostInTheDreams and I has just... expanded so much and I have had zero time between work, sleep and the collab. I hope there are still readers out there that are interested in this and I promise, really promise, the next chapter will not take anywhere near this long. Gomen but big thanks to my beta and the recent reviewers for reminding me that you were still waiting. Take care.