Disclaimer: I do not own Numb3rs, Detective Conan, or Magic Kaitou.


Chapter 3

"Thank you all for your help," Charlie stated, somewhat distractedly, as he studied the graphs that their combined data analysis had produced. Amita sat over by the computer, while Larry twisted back and forth on a stool, much as Kaito had done earlier that day.

It took several minutes of studying the graph before Charlie realized Larry was acting agitated. He blinked. "What is it, Larry?"

"Well, I'm just not so sure on this thesis we're starting out with," Larry began reluctantly.

Charlie shared a smile with Amita. "And what is it this time? A black hole in the middle of our thesis?"

Larry gave him a look. "No…it's just the nature of the problem itself."

Amita favored him with a confused glance. "What about it? You know people inevitably fall into patterns—we're just trying to define this thief's particular patterns."

"But that's precisely the problem. We're trying to define someone who by his very nature flaunts definitions at every turn!"

Charlie paused. "But even if he says he has no pattern or purpose, the mind will instinctively fall into something, some habit."

"I'm not saying he has no purpose- just the opposite, Charles. I'm saying…we're making the assumption that he won't have noticed any patterns."

"Well, it's a reasonable assumption. Most people don't notice the patterns- they're too engrained in their everyday life," Amita noted.

"But you're ignoring some of the data. This isn't just a thief who hasn't been caught yet. This is a thief who's been at his craft for over ten years, not counting the period he disappeared in. A thief who warns the police before every heist, and yet still hasn't been outfoxed yet."

"You're saying we're dealing with a genius," Charlie realized.

"Not just a genius, Charles, but a genius who attempts to use patterns and puzzles to lead the police. I'm saying that any pattern that we find, he knows its there. It could be a trap, or it could be misinformation."

"Just like his notes…he wants us to find whatever's in the pattern…" Charlie mused. He pulled the data up, studying several of the graphs at once…and focused on the blank spot in between the data.

Don sat quietly by his desk, pulling up another file. Conan Edogawa was an enigma, and despite his admonition to his team, he was very discomfited. Especially after he had decided to act on his hunch.

When Conan had first seen Don, he hadn't been impressed. He hadn't thought being in an FBI office, being spoken to by a member of the FBI was interesting or unusual. He hadn't been surprised by anything.

He had met the FBI before.

Don had done a search on Conan Edogawa's name then…and came up with an FBI file. As if the knowledge that his agency had a file on the kid wasn't disturbing enough, it was linked to a mission in Japan. Where the FBI was not supposed to be.

Not only that, but the kid was listed as an informant and consultant.

He was only eight!

Following that, he'd tried to figure out how the kid had gotten involved. He was living with a private detective, but that hardly seemed like something the FBI would get involved in. Checking into his parents had brought even more distressing information.

The parents supposedly were in America. Their passports were fakes.

Close examination showed that Conan's documents, at least on the American side, were all falsified as well.

But they did come with a phone number, which was what he was calling right now.

"Kudo residence!" a cheery voice answered.

"Ah, Ms. Kudo? I'm Agent Eppes, with the FBI. I…was expecting a Ms. Edogawa." Not really, considering she didn't exist…but who was Kudo?

"Ah…" the woman paused, as though reluctant. "She's my distant cousin. She and her husband stay with us very often when they're in America."

"Where would they be now?" Other than the land of imagination, that was.

"You know, I'm not really sure…She usually calls maybe once a month, tells me how things are going."

"And her son?"

"You know Conan-kun? Oh, isn't he just adorable!"

"I'm sure, ma'am." Clearly the woman did not know Conan—how could anyone consider someone that analytical and serious adorable?

"But why did you call? I certainly hope nothing has happened to him." And if she wasn't fishing for information now, he'd eat his badge.

"Oh, nothing really, ma'am. I'm not allowed to discuss it with anyone but his parents, actually." Take that, liar.

"Ah. I'll be sure to let her know that you called. What is your number?"

He told her, just to keep up the façade , then hung up,. Besides, it would be somewhat interesting to see how this game would end. He wanted to know who had pushed an eight-year-old into hiding his identity and being an informant, of all things, for the FBI.

He leaned back in his chair. He had dealt with geniuses before. Charlie had been going to college at 13; this boy was only a few years younger. The problem was that the boy was involved in the government, in crime. That…just wasn't right. There were times Don still wanted to pull Charlie back from working with the FBI. Conan, and even Hakuba, were still too young for this.

"Don! I wanted to talk to you!"

Speak of the devil. Charlie hurried towards him, and Don sat up straight. "What's up, Charlie? You found something?"

"Yes, I…"

Don cut him off. "Hold up a second, let me get the rest of the team together, okay?"

It took only a few minutes. Don attempted to argue with Hakuba over whether or not Conan could be in the room, but eventually was persuaded that allowing Conan to have access to some of the less sensitive data would prevent the kid from getting into worse trouble.

"So, what do we have, Charlie?" Don started.

"A problem in the thesis," Charlie said, a slight smile on his face.

"What do you mean?" Colby asked. "And…what exactly is our thesis anyway, according to you?"

"The data you gave me stretched back over eighteen years, with an eight year gap, right?"

Don nodded.

"The thesis was that was all one person."

Hakuba raised a brow skeptically. "The inspector was at heists on both sides of the gap. He says they've got the same voice and attitude."

"And that means a lot on someone who can apparently manipulate his voice and appearance at will?" Charlie pointed out.

Hakuba nodded, accepting the point.

"The trends of Kaitou Kid would generally put him as an adrenaline seeker; he doesn't steal for money, just for the thrill. A person like that could not stop for eight years. Not like that."

There was a collective blink as they thought it over. "So, what? A copycat waited eight years to commit a crime?"

"Not exactly. Larry pointed out to me that this thief makes a point of creating riddles— puzzles, patterns. He said any pattern we saw, Kid wanted us to see. I looked at it in that light and I realized it. Kid's not trying to find a jewel—or at least, that's not what he cares about. He's trying to bring attention to the last Kid. How that one disappeared."

Megan spoke up in realization, "And that…would be those snipers, wouldn't it, Conan?"

Don started. "What? Snipers?"

"There have been snipers at Kaitou Kid heists, on occasion," Hakuba acknowledged. "They have left no traces."

"And you said you had suspects on who the snipers were, right, Conan?" Megan pressed, moving towards the small boy.

Conan closed his eyes. "It's…an ongoing investigation."

"Whatever clues you have, I need them," Don stated authoritatively.

Conan smirked ironically. "Gin, Vodka, Vermouth."

"What?" Don said, startled.

Conan shrugged slightly. "I've seen those three."

Frustrated, Don growled, "I'm asking you for the snipers, not alcohol."

Hakuba frowned. "You don't know their real names, do you, Conan-kun?"

Conan nodded. "Gin drives a Porsche," he offered. "But you're not going to find them."