Disclaimer: I don't own Detective Conan, Magic Kaito, Nancy Drew, or the Hardy Boys.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Unfortunately it turned out that Hakuba was very smooth, and very, very good. Nancy had been lunching on the roof with Aoko and Kaito when he walked up. He smirked widely when he saw her company, but changed it to a polite smile before they could notice. "Ah, Nancy, I was hoping to find you up here. How are you liking Japan so far?"
Nancy smiled back at him. "Well, I haven't seen much other than the inside of a classroom so far, but I'm liking the inside of the classroom."
"Shame that you haven't had a chance to sightsee yet. Tokyo's quite beautiful if you know where to look."
This seemed to give Aoko an idea. "Of course!" She started tugging urgently on Kaito's sleeve. "Kaito, let's go plan a Grand Tour of Tokyo for Nancy! A surprise!"
Nancy laughed. "I'm sitting right here, Aoko-san."
"Don't be silly, the tour itself won't be the surprise, it'll be where we go! Come on Kaito, I need your help on this!"
Kaito cocked an eyebrow. "Sure. Sounds like a good plan Aoko." He and Aoko both stood up. "It'll be the tour to end all tours," he said directly to Nancy, and she couldn't help but feel that there was something more to the sentence. As the two of them left, Kaito bumped into Nancy. "Oh, sorry."
As soon as Kaito and Aoko had gone beyond hearing range, Hakuba leveled a look on Nancy. "Check your pocket."
"Check your pocket," Hakuba repeated, urgently.
Confused, Nancy did so. She pulled out everything she remembered putting in her pocket, plus one other thing: a small round thing that looked a little like an LED light. "What is this?"
Hakuba chuckled. "Knew it." He then grabbed the object and crushed it under his foot. "There. Now he can't listen in."
"Who can't listen in?"
"Kuroba of course. You saw his expression when I mentioned the Hardys. He knows something that he's not telling. And he knows that I specifically got him and Aoko out of the way so I could question you on what you know, so he slipped that listening device into your pocket so that he can learn what we know."
"If he knows something, why hasn't he gone to the police?" Nancy questioned. "You know the lay of the land, tell me what you think."
Hakuba smiled. "Because he most likely didn't come by his information through entirely legal means."
"What makes you say that?"
"Nancy, I've got a pretty good idea why you're here. I know that you're not just a casual acquaintance of the Hardys, that bluff was way too easy for me to call. You spill your beans, I'll spill mine, that's the way this is going to work."
"Okay, but you go first."
Hakuba held his hands away from his body in a shrugging gesture. "That'll work for me. The reason Kuroba hasn't gone to the police with what he knows is because he can't. He can't because then he'd have to tell them how he learned it. He can't tell them how he learned it because he is Kaito Kid."
"What!" That was not what Nancy was expecting. "If he's this Kid character I keep hearing about, how come he hasn't been arrested?"
"Because unfortunately he can be very slippery when it comes to wriggling away at the last minute. But there's enough coincidences and circumstantial evidence that I'm positive it can't be anyone else. I have a couple different theories as to how he could have come across his information, all plausible. Perhaps he witnessed the murder as Kid, when he as Kuroba would have no reason to be there. Perhaps he slipped a listening device much like the one I just destroyed into the pocket of one of the Hardys. Who knows."
Nancy's mind was racing. She's barely gotten started, and already she was bumping into Kaito Kid left and right. Frank and Joe had come to Japan to chase Kid. They had then apparently discovered that Kid was involved in something big, and mentioned this school. Hakuba was convinced that Kuroba Kaito, who knew something about Joe's murder and went to this school, was Kaito Kid.
Well, it seemed her entire case rested on the shoulders of Japan's most elusive thief. Absolutely fantastic.
"You shouldn't mention any of this to the Nakamoris by the way," Hakuba said after he was done.
Nancy looked up from her thoughts. "Oh? Why not?"
Hakuba shifted uncomfortably, and Nancy got the feeling he was speaking from experience. "Kaito and Aoko have been very close friends since they were little. The Nakamoris have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to the Kurobas."
Hakuba smirked. "You don't think a two year old was running around stealing things, do you? Eight years ago, Kuroba's father died in a stage accident. This was mere weeks after Kid's last theft before his hiatus. Yet more circumstantial evidence that won't hold water. Anyway, I've told you why Kuroba can't go to the police with what he knows. Now it's your turn. Why are you really here?"
Nancy sat down. "Frank and Joe's father is here in Tokyo working on the case. Frank and Joe had called him a day before the body was found. They were excited about something, but wouldn't tell him why. They did mention this school in passing however, and so there's a working theory that this school is somehow connected to the situation at hand. At first I had no idea why a high school could be connected, but now that you've told me about your Kuroba/Kid theory, it seems more plausible."
Hakuba sat down next to her. "You're here undercover. Why you?"
Nancy smiled at him, but she knew he would see right through it. "You were right, we're not just casual acquaintances. Frank and Joe, they're rather good friends of mine. When their father Fenton Hardy realized that maybe they needed a teen to go undercover, I was the first person he thought of. So he called me up and asked if I wanted to help find Frank and solve Joe's murder. It was... a bit of a shock. The unreal kind, until I was in the morgue yesterday."
Hakuba shifted so he could look straight at her more easily. "So since you're undercover, you're on the inside of the investigation, right? They're telling you everything, or at least more than they're telling the general public."
Nancy shrugged. "I suppose so. Why do you ask?"
"I've been trying to get into the investigation myself. I'm a little surprised that they would call you up when I was already going to school here and was more than willing to help out. At any rate, they won't tell me a thing. All I know is what's in the papers and what I've managed to glean from a handful of tattletales. I don't even know how he died." Saguru grimaced. "I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out my father's involved in this in some way. He originally wanted me to come to Japan to chase Kid in order to get me away from the bodies."
Nancy actually laughed at that. "That's the thing though, isn't it? No one knows how Joe Hardy died."
Saguru was taken aback at that. "What do you mean, no one knows? Are there no marks and for some reason they haven't performed an autopsy yet?"
Nancy shook her head. "Nope. They're performed an autopsy, but it's come up completely blank. They haven't the foggiest idea why he's dead."
Saguru whistled low. "Wow. Now I really want in. Anyone who can do that... sheesh, they'd be able to kill dozens of people and probably get away clear."
"Dozens of people..." Nancy repeated quietly.
"What was that?"
Nancy suddenly lashed out and grabbed Saguru by the shoulders. "That's it! Dozens of people! If someone had the ability to kill like that, they wouldn't just keep it to themselves! Clearly it's been used to kill once, so it's not in the hands of someone with strong moral compunctions. If you were someone without strong moral compunctions and you had that kind of power, what would you do? Kill dozens of people? Or sell it to people who would kill dozens of people for an outrageous amount of money?"
"But there hasn't been a mass number of people just dropping dead," Saguru pointed out the flaw in her logic. "As far as I know, there's just been Joe Hardy."
Nancy was working through it. "Well they wouldn't want to give the game away too quickly, would they? Use normal methods whenever they could, but every once and a while a silencer wouldn't do the trick and so they just drop dead! And of course if the body was found it would be like this murder, the facts would be held back because what police department would want to admit that they couldn't even figure out why the victim died?"
Saguru was nodding slowly to this. "Yes, there could be other cases like this, we just haven't heard about them for the exact reason you stated. And of course such a method of killing would only be created either by accident, or by some sort of organization of hit men that could expect to get back the time and undoubtedly money that they poured into the development of such a weapon through repeated use. So unless Joe just happens to be the very first, there are others."
"It's perfect," Nancy breathed. "That's what this is: the perfect murder. And see, that makes sense! Frank and Joe thought that Kaito Kid was mixed up in something big. This, this here is definitely huge. But things still don't make sense!"
"Where's Frank?" Saguru agreed.
"Why would they kill one and not the other? Why would they keep Frank alive? Well the obvious conclusion is that they wanted something from him. But if that were so, why would they kill Joe? Those two would do anything to keep each other safe, if they wanted something from Frank, Joe was much more valuable to them alive. Or perhaps this miracle murder of theirs didn't work for some reason, it killed Joe but not Frank. Then why not just kill him then and there in a more traditional manner? So let's assume that they couldn't for some reason, maybe it was Kid but don't ask me how. They take him away and kill him somewhere else. It's been weeks, and so many people are looking for him, don't you think we would've found a body by now? They could've dumped him in the ocean, but why go the distance? He wouldn't have any evidence that couldn't be taken away."
"He escaped," Saguru stated.
"Then where is he?" Nancy hissed. "And how does this Kaito Kid character fit in?"
Saguru nodded. "I can't see Kid mixed up in this in any way, honestly. Heists are fun and games when you get down to it and ignore the whole stealing thing, not dead bodies and perfect murders." He stood up and made to leave. "You should tell Inspector Megure about the 'dozens of bodies' theory though, it makes sense. Perhaps he could send out feelers and put some pressure on people to admit they've got murders and they can't figure out why. It might bring in something. Unless you're holding out on me, this case seems like one huge mess."
Nancy sighed. "Kaito Kid holds the key. Of all the people in the world, Kaito Kid holds the key to solving this, and I don't think he's going to give it up."
"Let me tell you one thing Nancy Drew: Kaito Kid is very much interested in justice. He has worked with the police several times, though it often hasn't become apparent until after. You just need to give him the right openings, push in the right places, and his information will make it to you." And with that said, Hakuba Saguru walked away to reenter the school.
As soon as he was gone, Nancy shifted and reached into a small crack in the wall. She pulled out a tiny device identical to the one that Saguru had previously destroyed. "You, Kuroba Kaito, are far too slippery by half," she told it. "Don't think I haven't figured out how clever you are. You knew that Hakuba-kun would suspect you of leaving a bug, so you left two: one secretly, and one obviously. Hakuba-kun is too focused to think you would leave two; he would crush the one and think the situation dealt with. And so now you know just what this case hinges on.
"There's one thing that you should know about me and my state of mind at the moment: I don't give a damn. I couldn't care less about catching Kaito Kid, as well as Hakuba-kun's theory about you. I just want this case solved and Frank found. I know you know something Kuroba Kaito, Hakuba-kun and I both do. And I know that whatever the answer to this puzzle is, Kaito Kid is in it up to his neck. I don't care how you get your information to me, just that you do. Please."
And with that, Nancy set about examining the bug and, finding a microscopic switch, fiddled with it a bit until she managed to flip the switch with her nail.
It didn't take long for Kuroba Kaito/Kaito Kid/Whoever to act. Nancy found a typed, anonymous note tucked into her book with a time and place, and the postscript to come alone. Considering the caveat, it was pretty clear who the note was from.
In the meantime, Nancy told Inspector Nakamori about the 'dozens of bodies' theory without letting on that Hakuba now knew. He said he'd pass on her theory to Inspector Megure and that they'd look into it. He'd become gradually more worried as she'd explained the basis behind the theory, and she didn't blame him.
Nancy thus arrived at the café alone and sat at one of the outside tables in the sun. She took a long glance around and, seeing no one of note, pulled out her book and started reading. It wasn't long though before someone sat down opposite her. She was rather surprised to see that it was Kuroba himself, and said as much. "You came as yourself."
"Who says I'm not just disguised as Kuroba Kaito?"
"I do," Nancy answered, replacing her bookmark. "Which means that you think I'm earnest enough to trust. Either that, or this is really big. Or both."
Kuroba leaned close. "This is big. Bigger than you could possibly imagine. And very, very dangerous. You already know this. However, they don't know you know this. You could still walk away, right now. Turn around, and leave with your life. That's no guarantee if you continue down this path. The risk will grow ever greater that they will find out about you and how much you know, until one day they do find out, and then there's no more Nancy Drew."
Nancy also leaned in. "Just like there's no more Joe Hardy?"
Kaito paused. "That method, as you have deduced, is for special cases. You might just qualify. Trust me when I say that a bullet to the brain would be infinitely preferable."
"So the perfect murder is very painful?"
"Just as much pain to watch?"
"Like you would not believe."
"No. It's too dangerous. I won't let anything happen to you if I can help it."
"I'm not giving this case up until I know what happened and I find Frank. They're my friends and I'm not giving up. It would be better to know what you know than to fly blind. If you want me to stay safe, tell me."
Kaito sighed and started to stand up. "I'll do you one better. I'll show you." Nancy also stood and followed him for a few blocks, then he abruptly stopped between two buildings. "Here."
Nancy realized why Kaito had chosen that particular café as their meeting place. The side street was well lit in the midday light, and just barely wide enough for an American-sized car to drive down. The overall effect was almost cheerful, not the kind of place for a murder. Kaito started talking as he walked down the alley. "A few choice words at a heist had Kaito Kid scrambling to make contact and learn what the Hardys knew. They were playing with fire, but it was unclear just how much fire they knew about. He set up a meeting in order to warn them off. Unfortunately, somehow the details of the meeting got into the wrong hands, and as it happened the Hardys were running early. So was Kid, but not early enough. He was up there, on the roof," he said, pointing at the top of one of the buildings.
He stopped right in the middle of the side street and turned around. "The Hardys walked up this way. A man walked up the other way. They thought he was Kid in disguise. The man played this to his advantage, and questioned them. But Frank realized something was up really quickly. The man noticed that Frank was suspicious, and gave some sort of signal to his partner, who was here." Kaito then backed into a crevice, just large enough for a person, that ran between two buildings and met with the side street at a right angle. "The partner came out behind the Hardys with his gun out. He hit Frank, who was on the right, on the back of the head with the butt first, then swung to the side to hit Joe." Kaito, his hand in a finger gun, swept in an L shape to demonstrate how it had been done.
Nancy slowly walked forward, and knelt on the ground several feet in front of Kaito. She very nearly reached out. This was where Frank and Joe had fallen, one for good.
Kaito gave her a few minutes before continuing on. "Then the first man pulled a small, thin box from his coat. In the box were twelve pills and a small container of water. Your perfect murder is a poison, by the way. With his partner's help, he forced a pill down each throat. Then they left. As soon as they were gone Kid rappelled down, but it was too late. Joe Hardy managed to curse Kid before he passed out, thinking that Kid had betrayed them and that they had thought wrong about his loyalties. After..." Kaito's voice caught slightly, and he cleared his throat before continuing, "After it was over, Kid took Frank's phone and called an acquaintance. The acquaintance arrived, took Frank, and then Kid left."
Nancy closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. "So the perfect murder isn't foolproof."
"Damn near close enough. As far as I know, three people have survived out of your dozens of people and probably dozens of lab rats. And it's not like it doesn't have its own little special effect on those who do survive."
"So Frank's in a hospital somewhere?"
"No. Since his body wasn't found with his brother's, the men who tried to kill him are on full alert for the slightest trace. The police aren't the only ones looking. He's hidden in a very safe place, don't worry."
"With Kid's acquaintance, right? I want to see him."
Kaito shook his head. "I'm sorry, that can't happen. It would put you in far more danger than you're in right now, and would spill the secrets of too many people."
Nancy smiled kindly. "The whole thing probably shook Kid up, didn't it? I wasn't even there and I'm close to tears."
Kaito cocked his head and adopted a crooked grin. "Yeah, just a bit."
Nancy stood up and stepped forward. "Kuroba-kun, I'm going to find Frank. I'm going to find him whether you help me or not because I promised his father, I promised myself, and I promised Joe, wherever he is, that I would. You've helped me so much when you really didn't need to, even at risk to yourself."
Kaito's smile became a little more real. "You saw through me in ways Hakuba'd never managed. I had no doubt that you'd corner me eventually. And of course I heard your entire conversation with him. You know far more than is safe to know just putting together other people's pieces. Warning you off sooner rather than later seemed a good idea."
"It's not going to work." Nancy started wandering in small circles, eyes to the ground. "Where was the watch found?"
"I don't know, Kid didn't see it."
"Because see, that's the only part that still doesn't make perfect sense. If it's a message from Frank that he's alive, then he was conscious enough to think of leaving the message, so why then hasn't he made contact in some way? And your acquaintance seems to like his privacy, so why would he leave the message? And you didn't know about it. So what does it mean?"
"Are you trying to demonstrate something to me?"
"If you're getting, 'Nancy Drew is not leaving this case alone,' from it, then yes."
Kaito sighed. "I'll contact my acquaintance, see if I can set anything up. But if he says no, that's it, understood? No more freebies from me, since it's obviously having the reverse of the desired effect."
Nancy reached into her pocket and pulled out the deactivated bug. "By the way, you want this back?"
Kaito shook his hand at it. "No, you keep it on you. If you get into any trouble, just turn it back on since you've obviously figured out how. I've got recorders on standby 24-7, and I'm often listening in. I'll be able to send help if it sounds suspicious."
And then Kuroba Kaito turned around and left, leaving Nancy alone in the side street. She only stayed there for a few more minutes, knowing that the police had already gleaned all that they could from the area.
Reviews are adored! Merry Christmas!