Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ Preparations ( Chapter 9 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter Nine
Preparations
Otou-san says I met him when I was a kid,” Shinichi reasoned, “and Hattori keeps insisting that he’s gotta be my twin… that must be it…” but Shinichi still kept getting the unsettling feeling that he’d seen the teen magician before, and neither of these rationales felt like the right explanation.
The underground storage facility that they’d built since Kid’s last heist was an impressive piece of work, but it seemed to Shinichi to have a whiff of Suzuki Jirokichi’s bottomless-pocket madness. There was only one elevator going down to the sub-basement level, and once there, there was something of a labyrinth of corridors to be navigated in order to reach the storage room. They were currently being led by Heiji’s father, who was the only person to have been told the route through aside from the museum owner.
“This is one’ve those moments where I actually envy you,” Heiji grumbled quietly as he tried to rub the little dents made by Nakamori-keibu’s fingernails out of his cheek. “Kid can’t actually disguise as a kid…”
“Underground, so Kid’s wings are useless,” Kaito noted. “Good thought. `Course, if Kid gets in, he’d probably remember the route to get out again… No guards?” The passages so far had been completely empty.
“There will be two by the elevator doors,” Nakamori said, “but the halls are mainly monitored by security cameras equipped with heat and motion sensors. If they detect anything, a series of cages will drop. Kid will be either caught in or between them.”
They stopped in front of a door as Heizo tapped in a passcode. When it opened, there was another door a few feet behind it. Behind that, Heizo explained, were three more.
“Geez… the amount it cost to build this place might end up being more than that ruby’s actually worth,” Shinichi commented as Heizo tapped in the code for the fourth door.
“The curator was dead set that Kid ain’t stealing from `im again,” Heiji said. “He really pulled out all the stops, huh?”
“How are the codes protected?” Yuusaku asked. “Is the computer capable of dealing with hackers?”
“Mostly, although I suppose someone sufficiently skilled could break in and get the codes,” Heizo said. “But it wouldn’t help much. He’d still have to type the code in, and each key contains a fingerprint sensor. It will only react to the correct code, and only if typed in by the owner, myself or Nakamori-keibu.”
“Are there any other ways into this room?” Hakuba asked, looking around the chamber. Shinichi gave it a quick scan too, even craning up to look over the door, but it seemed sealed.
“No conveniently adult-sized ventilation shafts or similar,” Yuusaku noted.
“Why aren’t the doors closing?” Kogoro asked, glancing back into the passageway.
“Oji-san just said why,” Shinichi said. “If there are no ventilation shafts or other openings, then when the doors are closed, air can’t get in, right?” He was laying on the “kiddy” a little thicker than usual, he knew, but there was both a detective and a magician with a mind that was rapidly proving itself as sharp as a detective’s present, neither of whom were in on the secret, and he didn’t propose to enlighten either of them.
“Precisely,” Nakamori said. “That’s why there’ll be no guards in here. The defences in the hall can’t be deactivated as long as more than one of the doors is open, and they can only be controlled from the control room. Kid will never get past all of this…”
Never say never, Nakamori-keibu,” Kaito noted, kneeling down to examine the bottom of a wall. “We’re talking about the guy who walked on air and teleported, here.”
“Any other defences within this room?” Hakuba said. He kept watching Kuroba as well.
“Kuroba-kun’s already found the lasers,” Nakamori said. “Look. They’re going to be making a web across the room. Kid won’t be able to make his way through them to the ruby.” The walls and ceiling were flat and smooth, Shinichi noted- even the lights were flat-panel to avoid presenting handholds. No doubt about it, this looked impregnable.
No, Kuroba’s right,” he reminded himself with a sigh. “Make no assumptions with this jerk…
“Well, I can’t see a way in,” Nakamori commented, glancing over the room again. “We’re going to get him this time!”
“Just make sure to double-check the guards,” Kaito commented. “Hmmm… maybe we need to remember to check you, Hattori-keibu and the curator occasionally, just in case, Nakamori-keibu,” he added to the inspector. “It would be suitably deceptive to steal the jewel in advance and swap it with a fake… these days, with the right chemicals, he could easily fake your fingerprints, so getting the code would be a simple matter of hacking.”
“That is a clever thought,” Yuusaku said thoughtfully. “Oh, the joys of modern technology…”
“I guess we’ll all have to keep an eye on each other, then, won’t we?” Hakuba said acidly. He was glaring at Kuroba again.
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“Wow! So Yuusaku-san nearly caught Kid in the past?”
“Yep!” Yukiko said with a wink. “Ah, it was a close thing, too. That thief only got away out of pure luck!”
Ran giggled. Aoko was so excited to think that someone who’d nearly caught Kid before was on the case. Aoko, it had soon become apparent as they’d got chatting, bore a hatred for Kid to rival her father’s.
“Well, his luck’s gotta run out some day, don’t it?” Kazuha proclaimed. “You’ve got four PIs on his ass today, halfa the Japanese police force, and that bright Conan kid. Funny how Kaitou Kid gets beat most by a real kid, huh?”
“Hey, as long as he stuffs that thief in his top hat and sends him to jail, I couldn’t care less how old he is,” Aoko stormed. “Finally get Otou-san off the damn case for the first time in twenty years… Even when Kid vanished, he didn’t give up looking for him…”
“I always wondered why Kid vanished back then,” Ran commented. “I mean, I wouldn’t say he’d made enough money- doesn’t he return everything? But he’s clearly not lost his touch either. So why…?”
“Nobody knows,” Kazuha said, “I guess it’s just one more mystery around that guy, huh?”
“To be honest, it took me a while to notice that he’d vanished,” Yukiko said. “I forgot entirely about that heist, so I never noticed that he never turned up. I was still reeling over Toichi-sensei’s death…”
“Huh? You mean Kuroba Toichi? Kaito’s Otou-san?” Aoko said in surprise. “You knew him?”
“Oh, yes,” Yukiko said, smiling sadly. “Toichi-sensei and I were friends for a very long time. When I was younger, he was my acting sensei- he taught me a lot about role-play and disguises and so on, along with-” so stopped for a moment, and then started talking again, carefully pretending that there hadn’t been more to that sentence. “Well, when I heard about the accident on the radio, I couldn’t believe it! Yuusaku and I drove over there straight away. Yuusaku was so angry- well, Toichi-sensei was a friend of his, as well. He looked over the accident scene forever, but in the end it was just bad maintenance. I feel so bad for the poor mechanic, though. He felt so guilty about it that he hung himself…”
“Oh, that accident was horrible…” Aoko said, looking pale and pinched. “I was there, you know. Kaito gave me free tickets to go see the show with Otou-san- his first day off in forever– but then that trapdoor just…” she shivered. “I didn’t actually see it, because Otou-san covered my eyes, but I heard Kaito yelling…” She shook her head. “I don’t think he’s ever really gotten over it, to be honest. Toichi-ojisan was the whole world to him… for a week after the funeral, he didn’t even leave his room. Ever since, he’s been completely obsessed with stage magic, as if he couldn’t already go a week without pulling a trick…”
“Oh, I remember seeing him there!” Yukiko said. “And poor Minami-chan… well, really, I think Kaito-kun’s been a big support to her, you know. I still call her once in a while…”
“Geez, that’s just nasty,” Kazuha said, shivering. The precise nature of Kuroba Toichi’s fatal accident had never been publicly stated, but Yukiko and Aoko’s conversation had given them a clear enough idea. “No wonder ya weren’t payin’ attention to Kid.”
“Well, Yuusaku didn’t seem all that surprised when it became apparent that not only had Kid not turned up for that heist, but hadn’t given any indication of another, ever,” Yukiko said. “He just said it was fitting- like all of the magic had died with Toichi-sensei.”
“Maybe whoever Kid is was a fan of Kuroba Toichi,” Ran suggested. “I mean, he’s a stage magician too, isn’t he? Maybe it was a mark of respect or something…”
“But now he’s back,” Aoko pointed out, “After eight years- kind of a strange time gap, isn’t it? Doesn’t conform to any statute of limitations or anything… It didn’t even happen anywhere near the date that Kid disappeared, or Toichi-Ojisan’s death or anything.”
“When exactly did he come back?” Kazuha asked. “I mean, we totally didn’t notice him for ages, `cause he was only stealin’ stuff in Tokyo…”
“A good two years ago, wasn’t it?” Yukiko said. “I was so surprised when I read about his return in the Japanese newspapers. When I told Yuusaku, he spilled coffee all over his keyboard.”
“About two and a half years, I think” Aoko said. “About… June 28th. A week after Kaito’s 16th, I remember.”
“Actually, there’s a thought,” Kazuha said. When they all stared at her in surprise, she elaborated, “y’know, the part about him only nicking things from Tokyo. I wonder why that is? I thought he used to steal from all over the world.”
“Well, it has been a good twenty years since he first appeared,” Yukiko giggled. “About time he settled down!”
“He can settle, all right- in a cell!” Aoko declared. Ran finally broke down laughing. She wasn’t the only one.
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“Arigatou Gozaimasu,” Emma said, waving as she closed the door. Hazel rolled her eyes.
We may have cleaned everything up and recarpeted the room, but face it, none of them are gonna stay there,” she pointed out.
Aye, that’s true,” KJ agreed. “Douglas, David and Scott can stay with me-” she made an obscene gesture and ducked as Hazel and Cathiey both swung at her- “All right, just David, but where’s Steven gonna stay? Heather’s room?
Like he’ll go near it,” Richard said, shaking his head. “Neither will Dillon.
Well, if Andy and Taylor are willing to double-up with their boyfriends-” Charlotte turned red as her friends’ wolf-whistling made her realize just how dodgy what she’d said actually was- “Oi, you know what I mean. There’ll be room for them then. My cousin can have Heather’s room, he’s never met her…
We’re basically doing that anyway,” Alex said, leaning back to kiss Andrew. Douglas and Ruaridh made gagging motions.
Suddenly, someone upstairs screamed. They all ran up the stairs, panicking as they followed the scream to Max’s room. They ran into Max halfway along the second floor.
What’s going on?” Ruaridh asked frantically.
What’s wrong? Was that Tay-chan? Max, what happened?” Charlotte said. To her surprise, he grinned as he grabbed her arm and Alex’s and dragged them towards the stairs.
It’s the Kaitou Kid!” he cried ecstatically. “It’s on the news! He’s after a ruby in Osaka! They’re giving it live coverage all night!
Holy-no way!” Hazel shrieked, running for the stairs. Charlotte was already running full speed up the stairs, followed closely by Alex, both of whom were squealing at a pitch that was likely to summon bats.
Max, how do you set your DVD-recorder?” Charlotte was hollering as the rest of them made it to the third floor. “I’m not gonna have to watch this one on YouTube!
Yeah, this is why she came to Japan,” Laura giggled as she threw herself into a beanbag. “Look, it’s airing the riddle at the moment!
Damn, I wish we were in Osaka…” Alex groaned.
“Well, you might get lucky and get to see him here,” Taylor said, swivelling around the screen of her laptop so they could see the homepage of the Beika Museum. “Check this out. I fed the page to a translation engine, and apparently they got this haul of jewels out of an old underground vault. They’re theorizing that it’s the lost treasures of the Tokugawa shoguns…
What, so they actually exist?” Laura snorted. Alex whistled as he looked at the screen.
Check out the size of that thing!” he said, indicating a pride-of-place diamond. “Kid’s gotta go for that…
Shhhh! It’s starting!” Charlotte hissed, waving a hand at him, eyes fixed on the TV and a fangirl grin on her face.
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“It’s gettin’ late- whaddya mean, ya can’t get past the cordons? I thought ya had passes- oh. So just get Aikido on their asses already. All right, all right…” Heiji clicked his phone closed with a sigh. “The girls ain’t makin’ it back,” he explained. “There’s already foot-traffic jams four blocks back, and it’s probably gonna take `em a couple hours just ta get past that lot.”
“Ah, Geez. And they promised to bring takeaways back too,” Kaito complained, thumping his head off of the backup generator that they were checking. In the event of a blackout, it would keep security power running. “I’m gonna starve.”
Shinichi’s stomach rumbled. Yuusaku noticed and chuckled, ignoring his son’s Evil Eye. “Well, this museum has a restaurant in it somewhere, right?” he suggested. “I don’t think it’s open anymore, but at least there’s bound to be food of some variety in it…”
“I just hope they’ve got some pre-cooked dishes left over and a microwave,” Kaito groaned. “You realize you’re talking to teenage boys and bachelors here.”
“There might be bento or somethin’ in the gift shop,” Heiji suggested.
“Well, hunting for food that doesn’t need preparing should kill some time,” Hakuba said as they turned to leave. “I mean, it’s only after nine now, and Kid won’t be coming until after midnight.”
“I’m not hungry,” Nakamori snorted. “I’m going to go check over the men. Hattori-kun, what about you?”
“Yes, I think I’ll come too, if only to ensure that neither of us gets switched,” Heizo agreed. “We’d better find the curator as well. Heiji, here.” He tossed a ring of museum keys to Heiji. “Good luck.”
“Thanks fer the vote of confidence,” Heiji said sarcastically, heading for the restaurant.
“Ah, I wish we’d let Ran make us bento,” Kogoro muttered depressedly. As they entered the stairwell, he lit up with a bored sigh.
“Ran-neechan’s going to kill you if she finds out you’ve been sneaking cigarettes, Oji-san,” Shinichi said sweetly. “She’s been trying to make him stop,” he added to the others.
“Rightly so,” Hakuba said, wrinkling his nose. “Disgusting habit.”
“Tell her, brat, and you’re getting the thumping of your life,” Kogoro growled, and yelped as Kaito jerked the package and cigarette from his hands.
“The museum’s non-smoking anyway, Mori-tantei,” he pointed out, jerking his thumb at the red sign, before closing the lit cigarette into his hand, flicking his wrist, and opening his hand again to reveal a distinct lack of cigarette. The package also disappeared in a puff of smoke.
“Cool,” said Heiji appreciatively, watching a couple of bits of confetti fall to the floor. “`course, it woulda been more impressive if ya hadn’t been standin’ right next to a bin.”
“Did Toichi-kun never tell you not to perform in front of detectives?” Yuusaku asked. Kaito sighed.
“Actually, yeah,” he said. “He said they have an annoying tendency to blow away the smoke and break the mirrors. But I figure, hey, if I can pull that off…”
“Good luck with that,” Hakuba said. “No hand will ever be faster than a detective’s eye.”
“No hand’s faster than any eye, period,” Kaito corrected him. “Speed of light and all that. The hand just has to be smarter.”
“That’s why Kid’s such a successful thief,” Shinichi said thoughtfully. “He uses all of the magician’s skills- how to deceive, how to control what the crowd thinks. He knows there’s no need to sneak around in the shadows when everyone’s looking the other way.”
“Good thought, that,” Heiji said, unlocking the restaurant doors. “I guess that’s why Nakamori-keibu brought you, huh, Kuroba?”
“Some people say you need to think in corkscrews to be a magician,” Kaito said, “But I disagree. You need to think straighter than anyone else. It’s foolish to perform a trick by doing the last thing anyone would expect- do what no-one expects at all.”
“For once, I agree,” Hakuba said. “That’s how we’ve never caught Kid- he’s hiding in plain sight, where we’ll never look.”
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Thanks for the heads-up, Bobbyneko… *blushes*
Glad you liked it, Mel7200. I always love it when the Kudo-oya turn up.
Thanks for the notes on kanji, Angelroy! The explanation I gave was the one that Viz and similar companies that do manga in America give for why the names in the manga are often Romanized differently than on the internet, which given their track record is not an explanation I should have taken to heart. I’m going to stick with my romanizations out of habit, but it’s interesting to know for learning kanji. And actually, your grammar and vocabulary are great. Much better than mine are in French… *hides several years of failing grades*
And thanks for the reviews, pretztailfan95 and silvershadowbreeze! Yes, I’m quite fond of my Heiji… He and Yukiko are both going to pop up a lot. I guess part of the reason that this is going to be so epic is that I’m trying to juggle pretty much all of the characters… ^_^;
*steals Flippant Wisdom’s two cents*jk! I’m afraid the update rate will be slowing to a week once I get back to school, so enjoy `em while you can! And I think Kaito’s name has a different kanji from the Kaitou meaning “phantom thief*. I understand Kuroba Toichi had a… unique sense of humour, but I think naming his son “phantom thief” would have been pushing it, even for him. 😛
Glad you think so, Twilightserius. Next chapter- the heist itself!
I do not claim to own any of the characters in Meitantei Conan. They are the intellectual property of Aoyama Gosho. All characters, couples and locations, if Canon, will be faithful to the manga, so if you’re into fics with weird pairings like Ran and Heiji, the back button is at the top there. The fic may not make sense if you have not read up to chapter 679, which you can do at Onemanga.com, but I advise you to buy the official Tankoban novels (up to volume 27 are out in English at the time of writing) so that Aoyama-sensei can afford to continue gracing us with his imagination. Now, I hope you enjoy the fic! (If you don’t, please see my previous comments re the back button).
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