Fandom: Detective Conan
Disclaimer: I don't own Detective Conan. But I do have homemade hand-puppets for each character...that's normal, right?
Summary: Sequel to A Perfect Act. There's a killer on the loose, with an very odd MO. Helping with the investigation means that Kaito might need to watch his back.
It was a very subdued Kuroba Kaito that Shinichi found sitting on the roof of the Metropolitan Police Headquarters. It had taken the detective a bit of searching to find the magician in the first place, but he'd noticed a draft on the stairs, and followed it to where the door to the roof was propped open. Somehow, he suspected that Kuroba wanted to be found up there, brooding, and wondered if he was the one who was intended to find him.
Regardless, he stepped onto the roof. It was late evening; the sun was almost done setting, and the last orange and pink fingers of sunset were fading into the dark, inky violet of the night sky. It was a lovely sight, although recent events had somewhat tempered his appreciation of the beautiful image.
It had been an interesting twenty-four hours, to say the least. Finding Kuroba on that stage had been a horrible moment, and in some ways Shinichi still couldn't believe that the young man had managed to stay alive long enough for them to rescue him. He had been rushed to a hospital, and given a clean bill of health, save for some bruises and a cut on one cheek from the mysterious broken glass that had saved his life. Treatment had been prompt, and the doctor had said that there shouldn't be a scar.
Kuroba had named his assailant, though, and Suoh had been picked up at his home. He had been startled to see his colleagues walk in and inform him that he was under arrest. But when the word "attempted" preceded the word "murder," he seemed to understand. He went without resistance or protest of innocence. In fact, he said nothing at all. The arresting officer who drove Suoh back to the precinct said that the man had actually smiled the entire way there, citing the serene expression as being extremely unnerving.
Under interrogation, Suoh had admitted to everything. Not only to the murders they knew about, which numbered at six, but also to two others which had not yet been discovered. He offered instructions as to where one of the bodies would be found, and detailed the manners of that man's death scene. The second, however, he refused to divulge any details on. After all, he said, Doc Nixon had vanished without a trace.
It was frustrating, but police officers were digging through their missing persons cases, searching for any who fit the victim profile of a young, healthy male in his late teens to mid twenties, with brown hair and blue eyes. They were sure they would be able to find someone that fit the bill.
It was the motive that was the most eerie, though. Suoh had smiled when they asked him about why he did it, why the elaborate set-up and staging of the bodies. He had simply looked at them with that same frightfully serene expression and stopped the investigators cold with his reply.
"It's all Kuroba's fault."
Unfortunately, Kaito had been released from the hospital by this point, and had been watching from the other side of the two-way mirror at this point in the interrogation, and had heard the accusation. He had grown very quiet at Suoh's words, and left the room soon after without a word to anyone, after the explanation had come.
Suoh had met Kaito at one point, a couple of years ago, and knew him as Kuroba Toichi's son. Having been a fan of Toichi's, he introduced himself. But it seemed he had caught Kaito at a bad moment (after a bit of digging through his own memories, Kaito had recalled the moment - he had been on his way to meet Aoko, and was running late, and feared her wrath), as Kaito had been a bit short with him.
As odd as it sounded, that was the catalyst for the whole thing. Kaito's hurry to be somewhere had been perceived as a brush-off, and something within the man had cracked. He had turned to murder, setting the stage of magicians' deaths as a private joke that would only be known to him.
He did make it clear, however, that his ultimate target and ultimate scene would be Kuroba. The greatest magician to have ever lived, Suoh said reverently. And his son was also a magician. How fitting that the son's death scene would be staged to mimic the father's. It was a perfect symmetry, Suoh had insisted. The ultimate tribute.
It was enough to make even seasoned officers like Megure and Nakamori shudder. And no one but Kuroba Kaito himself could have said how it felt to know that you were the cause and ultimately the target of such a horrific obsession.
After the interrogation, Shinichi made a phone call to Ran to let her know that everything was all right, then looked over some paperwork pertinent to the case, and then went in search of Kuroba. And now here he was, standing on the roof, staring at the sunset and the magician's back.
"Are you going to stand over there all night, or are you going to come over here?" Kuroba finally asked.
Shinichi started walking towards him slowly. "Wasn't sure if you wanted any company."
"You're here. Might as well make yourself comfortable," Kuroba said. He only turned to look at Shinichi as the detective sat down next to him. There were a few crates up there that they were appropriating as seats. Not the most comfortable thing, but they served the purpose well.
For a moment, neither spoke. Then finally, Shinichi turned to look directly at Kuroba. He seemed so different from the energetic, driven young man of only a couple of days ago. The white bandage on his cheek somehow made him look paler, and it was doubtful that he had slept much the night before. Shinichi took a deep breath. "Mind if I ask you a question?"
"You're Kaitou Kid, aren't you?"
Kuroba didn't say anything immediately, and for Shinichi, that was answer enough, though not exactly what one would call a confession or anything. But he waited for the reply that he knew was to come. A moment later, it did come.
"Why do you say that?"
"I figured it out last night, when we went to your house after our phone call went dead," Shinichi explained quietly. "I'd been working with you on this case, trying to figure out where we had met. Then Kaitou Kid wanders into my library to share information with me about this exact same case, knowing details that weren't available to the general public. I tried to write it off as Kid being Kid, but somehow it just didn't fit. I started making those little comments, and your responses were interesting. At your house, I looked at your father's portrait, and everything just sort of...fell into place, I guess." He shrugged. "I had all the pieces for a while, but I wasn't doing a very good job of putting them together to get that big picture."
"Well, you did have other things on your mind," Kuroba said.
It wasn't a denial. Granted, Kuroba might be too damn tired to put up any sort of a fight.
Encouraged, Shinichi went on with his theory. "I also have my suspicions that at least one person in the police force knows who you really are. It just strikes me as odd that of all the magicians and magic buffs out there, you were the one who found your way onto this investigation. So here's my hunch - someone mentioned the original case to you, you realized what it meant, and that was the turning point in the investigation. They brought you on board, figuring you could do your work both in and out of uniform."
Kuroba stared straight ahead. If anything, he looked even more tired.
"Would you care to tell me the story, or should I just go ask someone else for the details?"
"I nearly died."
The words were so quiet that Shinichi could barely hear them, but they startled him into silence.
"The gun was aimed at Nakamori-keibu. I took the bullet. Was in a coma for a while. When I woke up in the hospital, imagine how surprised I was that I wasn't handcuffed to the bed. And they offered me a deal. I work for them, I stay out of prison, and my little secret stays a secret. End of story."
Shinichi nodded. "It's not easy, is it?"
"The first case I worked for them was that serial kidnapping at the beginning of the year. Turned out to not only be a serial kidnapping, but also a child prostitution case. You probably heard about it. I'm not sure if this case was harder than that or not."
"That case was harder on the emotional level because you don't want to see anything happen to kids," Shinichi said wisely. "But this case was harder on a personal level because you had a direct connection to it, and nearly lost your life to it."
Kuroba nodded ever so slightly.
"There are always cases like that. There's a couple that I've had trouble letting go of," Shinichi said. He leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees, fingers linked in front of him. "I let a murderer commit suicide on one case. He killed his father's murderers, then lit the house on fire and sat and played the piano until it was over." He shuddered. "I swear, the piano music went on long past the time that he could have still been alive. Smoke inhalation would have ended things long before that music stopped."
"It was my fault," Kuroba said finally, like he was letting out some big secret. "All those people are dead because of me. Because I was in too much of a hurry to stop and talk to someone. Their families will never have their loved ones back."
Shinichi thought about this for a moment. "Were you aware that Suoh was mentally ill?"
Kuroba looked at him directly now, visibly surprised by the question. "What?"
"Complete stranger stops you on the street and wants to shake your hand because he was a fan of your father's. Would you have any way of knowing that said stranger was suffering from any sort of mental illness?" Shinichi repeated the question with elaboration.
"Because that's what it is. A mental illness. Whether or not he'll be able to get an insanity plea out of it, I couldn't tell you. But there's something wrong with him, Kuroba. They're bringing in a psychiatrist to talk to Suoh and see if they can figure it out. You couldn't have known, and even if you had somehow been able to realize it, you couldn't possibly have known that this would be the thing to set him off."
"I should have just taken that moment and talked to him..."
"Have you ever heard of erotomania?"
Kuroba's brow furrowed. "Can't say I have."
"It's a mental illness in which a person somehow comes to believe that another person is in love with them," Shinichi explained. "Person A might loan Person B a pen. Person A thinks that they're doing something nice. Person B suffers from erotomania, and thinks that the pen is actually a secret symbol of undying love. It can start with simple romantic pursuit, and can escalate into stalking, kidnapping, imprisonment...even murder. And all Person A did was loan someone a pen."
"You're serious," Kuroba said after a moment.
"Completely. There was an American President named Ronald Reagan who nearly died because of it. A man named John Hinkley became convinced that an actress was sending him secret messages through her performances and appearances, and so he decided that shooting the President was the way to earn her love. Reagan lived, and the actress was understandably horrified at the whole thing."
Shinichi rocked forward and stood up. "Fact is, Kuroba, the human mind is capable of some pretty weird shit. And even though modern psychology and psychiatry have figured out a lot of things about it, we haven't even scratched the surface of what's lurking inside our collective heads. I repeat: weird shit. So let's get one thing very straight here. Until you tell me that you personally put a bag over someone's head, you have not killed anyone, nor are you responsible for anyone's death."
He was relieved to hear a very small chuckle escape the magician. "Weird doesn't even begin to cover it, I'm afraid," Kuroba sighed and also stood up. "On a mental level, I know that I didn't do anything wrong. But there's that stupid little voice in my head that says if I'd just stopped and talked to him, none of this would have happened."
They stood there, side by side, looking out at the city for a few moments in companionable silence. The last light of sunset had all but faded, leaving only the lights of the city to illuminate their view, like earth-bound stars. The sounds of the hustle and bustle...the sounds of life going on and moving on...drifted to their ears, an odd musical accompaniment to the unfolding scene.
"So what are you going to do, exactly?" Kuroba finally asked.
"About...what you figured out."
Ah. Kaitou Kid. "The agreement is that you work for the police to apprehend criminals and stop criminal activity and all that, right?" At Kuroba's nod, Shinichi grinned. "At the risk of sounding extremely juvenile, doesn't that mean we're on the same side?"
On the same side.
Hadn't Aoko used those words, or something extremely similar to them, to describe her rationale for not shutting him out of her life after the truth came out, after he had escaped the clutches of Death?
...either he was just awesome enough that people around him were deciding not to turn him in, or everyone around him who had every reason to turn him in had just lost their minds. Somehow, Kuroba was pretty sure he wasn't that awesome.
"I'm interested in this whole arrangement," Shinichi said. "And I think we work well together." A smirk. "Reminds me of trying to land an airplane after the pilots lost consciousness, crashing into the roof of the control tower, losing an engine, setting the entire runway on fire..."
Kuroba actually shuddered. "That was not my fault! It had better not be on my record!"
"There! Finally, a reaction!" Shinichi said. He clapped a hand onto Kuroba's shoulder. "Come on, let's go back inside. I'm sure they're looking for us. Pretty sure there was a pretty girl looking for you. I think she was holding a mop or a broom or something like that...?"
"Oh god, Aoko. She's going to kill me..." Kuroba moaned.
They were almost down the first flight of stairs when the penny dropped. "Wait. Aoko?"
"As in, Nakamori Aoko?"
"You're dating the daughter of the officer in charge of trying to arrest you?"
"Says the guy who was secretly living under his girlfriend's roof cleverly disguised as a seven year old?"
"...touché, Kuroba. Touché."
PS. And with this, we have the conclusion of No Little Plans. Been a bit of a road to get here, but I had fun with it. This is my first time writing any sort of actual murder. I'm sure it shows brutally. But fear not, I have ideas for at least two more fics in what is rapidly becoming a little universe, and one fic that's begging to become a side-story. We'll see what happens. I hope you enjoy the conclusion. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!