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Little Shooting Star

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Miyano Akemi is nineteen, celebrating her birthday with her best friend and flat mate Harumori Nabiki. They are at a bar, having good time. A mysterious man catches her eye.

Akai Shuichi is twenty-four, doing information gathering for his future mission in two years’ time. He is at a bar, taking a break from investigation. A vivacious girl catches his eye.

One thing leads to another and the wheel of fate turns in unexpected manner.

Nine months later, Moroboshi Chiyuki is born.


 

1

When Akemi learnt that she was pregnant to the stranger she’d met at a bar, she decided immediately that she was keeping the baby. And she was absolutely not going to let the organization get their hands on her baby, like they had gotten Shiho.

Nabiki was godsent. She knew that Akemi was working for some dangerous underground group because her parents had been part of it and thus had allowed her to craft a false identity of Harumori Madoka for her to use occasionally when she needed to do things away from the groups radar. They looked alike enough that they could pass as siblings after all.

And thus Harumori Madoka was the one to give birth to a healthy baby girl in Beika General Hospital on a chilly November evening.


 

2

Chiyuki was a quiet baby. Nothing concerning really, she did cry when hungry or needing change or simply craving attention. But as she grew up she shied away from strangers and spoke softly, unsure of her own words.

Nabiki did most of raising Chiyuki. Akemi needed to pick up slack from the last six months of her pregnancy, both in organization’s missions and university work. Thankfully part of the latter she had been able to do online.

So Nabiki was kaa-san and Akemi was mama. And the unknown man who was Chiyuki father, became papa, if only in the girl’s mind.


 

3

When Akemi met Moroboshi Dai for the second time, she almost run him over. She was surprised to see him again but he didn’t seem to remember their precious encounter.

Good.

Akemi was understandably wary about his intentions, especially when he seemed to be slipping into the shadows of the organization but she couldn’t help but falling in love with him. Nabiki wasn’t thrilled and Shiho was suspicious about everyone who spent extended amount of time with her.

So Akemi wasn’t telling the man about Chiyuki but she did show her daughter pictures about the man.

It was the same with Shiho too. But in her case, Akemi didn’t want to risk someone else overhearing given the way they monitored their comings and goings.


 

4

Chiyuki was smart girl. Even though she was hesitant to speak, she was eager to help with housework and made sure to clean up her own toys without needing to be prompted. She practiced her handwriting on the sheets given at daycare and could do simple maths independently after Nabiki explained her the concept of adding and subtracting. At four, she counted for the first time from one to hundred with the help of her abacus.

Akemi couldn’t have been prouder. It made her terrified and determined at the same time. And incredibly guilty. She had to be away so much for the sake of protecting the girl. To keep her under radar constantly.

When Chiyuki was five, Dai finally confessed Akemi that he had been using her in order to infiltrate the organization. That he worked actually for the FBI. Though he tried it by saying he would quit working for the feds… sweet but unnecessary.

“A lie like that won’t drive me away.” Akemi smiled through tears.

But it drove him away when one of his own colleagues accidentally blew his cover.


 

5

Chiyuki started school in Teitan elementary, class 1-A. Her teacher was Ohata Masayuki, a nice if a bit plain man that cared for all of his students.

She made friends with Tsukumo Ayano, Nakada Toshiya and Sugiura Kaito. She liked them all and they made a good grouping. Ayano was lively girl that liked to drag everyone else along whichever make-believe game she had come up with. Kaito generally enabled her and added always some sort of twist to the games with his knowledge of cars. Toshiya and Chiyuki in turn remained as the voice of reason but readily followed them.

Other thing that drew them all together was their love for board games. Kaito liked Othello, Ayano Shogi, Toshiya Go and Chiyuki Backgammon. They had already decided to form a boardgame club once in middle school.


 

6

Chiyuki heard gossip on the halls about a transfer student to class 1-B. A boy with strange name, strange clothes and dorky glasses. Edogawa Conan. She kept walking on. Kaito had asked her help with math homework.


 

7

Akemi had everything handled. She had recruited two men to help her rob one billion yen from a bank while it was being transported to other location. The money would go to the organization. With that done, she and Shiho would be free. They could start over somewhere else. Possibly with Chiyuki, unless the girl wanted to stay with Nabiki. Akemi would accept either decision from her. She loved her little girl too much to force her to stay or leave.

The heist didn’t go according to plan. Hirota Kenzou, the getaway driver vanished with the money. And so did their brute of an accomplice. Akemi dreaded to know what the other man was up to. She needed to find Kenzou and quick. Maybe she should hire a detective…

Mouri Kogorou took her case after a sob story from her. The man’s daughter was nice and generous with her words and the little kid – Akemi recognized the unusual name belonging to the transfer student Chiyuki mentioned once – was quite smart. Akemi liked them all but she worried more about finding Kenzou. About freeing Shiho.

She should probably meet with Shiho and tell her about Chiyuki, right?


 

8

Akemi hid the tapes given to her by her mother at Dejima Souhei’s house and informed the people working there that she’d come in a week to visit again with her sister. On the way out, she left the items hidden before to the shoe rack and started planning how to let Shiho and Chiyuki see each other without the organization noticing… They wouldn’t outright listen in but there was bound to be a look out…

“Edogawa Conan?” Shiho asked when they finally had time to sit down and have lunch together. On the phone Akemi had already relayed some information about the people she’d met while doing damage control for the botched mission.

“Yes! The boy in glasses I told you about. See… You told me that you had some business in Beika-shi and went to someone’s house as well, right?” Akemi really didn’t want to know what that business was about but it was as good reference point as any.

“Yeah. Kudou Shinichi…”

“Yes, yes! He’s the kid in the neighborhood’s detective agency.” Akemi smiled fondly. “He’d a bit odd… How would I describe him? The calm type? Or maybe… and adult-like type…” A bit like Chiyuki really.

“Besides, will you be alright?” Shiho changed the subject. “I heard that things are pretty bad…” Oh, Shiho, always worrying…

“You don’t need to worry.” Akemi soothed the younger woman. “It’ll work out smoothly. I’m more worried about you, Shiho! Stop making drugs and get yourself a boyfriend already! I’ll be alright so…” She tried to joke but it fell flat.

“Onee-san…” Shiho had a tone a reprimand in her voice and Akemi sighed.

“There was another reason why I wanted to meet you here. I’ve been keeping a secret… For years really.”

“A secret?”

“Mmmhm.” Akemi hummed an affirmative and turned to gaze at the booth on the other end of the cafeteria. Nabiki and Chiyuki were eating there. A moment later Shiho followed her sister’s gaze.

“That’s your friend from Nanyou, right? Nabiki-san?”

“Yes.” Akemi sighed.

“I didn’t know she had a daughter…” Shiho’s tone said that she didn’t think this would be a secret worth of Akemi’s regretful face.

“She didn’t. Chi-chan is my daughter.”

“What?” Shiho breathed in disbelief.

“Seven years ago, I got pregnant to a then stranger.”

“The time when we didn’t see for months… your last two trimesters then?” Akemi nodded. “Who’s the father? You said a then stranger…”

“Dai-kun…”

“That traitor…” Shiho hissed. “He used to you and… did he even know?”

“No. He was getting into the organization and… I wanted to keep Chi-chan out of this all. Not to have their claws grabbing onto her like they did to us…” Akemi sighed. “I’m sorry I kept this from you. I’m such a bad sister. And bad mother too. Nabiki has been primarily taking care of Chi-chan during these years.”

Shiho took a deep breath to calm herself before speaking again.

“She has started school then?”

“Yes. Teitan elementary, first grade.” Akemi smiled fondly. “Chi-chan has made friends there and seems to be liking it. I… if I succeed… I want to leave this all behind with you but at the same time… I don’t wish to uproot Chiyuki-chan if she wishes to stay.”

Shiho wanted nothing but wipe that miserable look away from Akemi’s face. She looked at the little girl – Chiyuki – again. The girl looked up and hesitantly waved at her. Shiho waved back.

“I support whichever decision you come to.”


 

9

Detective Mouri had managed to track down Kenzou. Akemi had been with Nabiki and Chiyuki when the call came and she might’ve been in a bit of a rush when putting together her disguise and leaving but this was important.

She didn’t expect Kenzou being killed by their accomplice but could do nothing about it. She just lent her watch for the other man as they transferred the loot to Enjyu City Hotel. She needed to contact the organization for the successful retrieval of money.


 

10

It all went to hell. The man died instead of being simply sedated and then Akemi’s contact informed her that they wouldn’t be letting Shiho go. And that Akemi herself was a liability.

One shot was all it took. And then the girl and boy from the detective agency came running. They’d been at the hotel so it probably shouldn’t have surprised her but to catch up with her so quickly…

“What happened, Masami-san!? Hang in there!”

“Ran-neechan, hurry and call an ambulance!! And occhan and the others!!”

Too late, too late. The shot was too severe…

“How did you know I was here?” Akemi asked the boy. And the boy told her about a transmitter stuck in her watch and other things he’d observed until coming to the conclusion that was the truth.

“Mama!”

Chi-chan… What was she doing here?

The girl came running from between the containers, tears already falling down from her eyes.

“Chiyuki… Why…?”

“You weren’t calling for days! And when I was near Mouri detective agency, I heard them talking about your alias and suspecting you were dead! Of course I followed them.” Chiyuki shouted, falling on her knees next to Akemi. She’d never seen the girl cry like this. Raise her voice like this.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve called.” Akemi apologized. “But I was in hurry and I didn’t want the bad guys to hear about you.” She heaved her body a bit more upright and raised a hand to wipe away tears from Chiyuki’s face. She had her eyes, even though the color was from Dai-kun. She also had his hair color rather than Akemi’s own dark brown. The curls were all him too even though when she’d known him, the length and weight of his hair had kept it straight. Skin color and other features were all her though.

“And now you are dying…” Chiyuki choked out. “And we wouldn’t have known until tomorrow earliest!”

“I’m sorry.” Akemi repeated. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there for you more. That I couldn’t be a proper mother. That I’m leaving like this and you have to see it.” Damn, now she was crying too. “But I’m so glad I got to see you once more. I love you Chiyuki. Mama loves you so much.”

The girl continued crying silently, heedless of the bloodstains left by Akemi’s hand, when Akemi turned to address the boy standing next to them. She told him about the organization and where she’d hidden the money. And if there was a silent request to look after Chiyuki in her eyes…

“I’m counting on you, small detecti…-ve…”

Chapter Text

11

Chiyuki had been happy with her new life. She had had two wonderful mothers and interesting auntie that she heard a lot of stories of. She had also had a father though she knew him only in pictures and stories and the man didn’t know about her.

But then mama went missing because she needed to clean up after her botched mission. There was no word from her. So Chiyuki had made her way to Mouri Detective Agency where she heard them talk about a Hirota Masami. A female Hirota Masami, because Chiyuki knew there was also an old man by that name who was a university professor.

“Mama…” They were talking about her. As the two men, a young woman and a little boy compiled information they knew about the missing woman, Chiyuki realized the fact matching with mama’s mission. They were looking for her now!

So when they called a taxi in order to… track her location? … Chiyuki snuck into the trunk and stayed inside until they stopped for longer than for traffic lights. She found herself at Enjyu City Hotel and settled outside to wait.


 

12

Chiyuki didn’t need to wait for long. Soon her mama came out of the hotel and got into a taxi. A moment later, the girl and boy from the detective agency came running and managed to get the next taxi. In the confusion, Chiyuki once more snuck into the trunk.

The taxi stopped at the docks and Chiyuki slipped out. Mama had to be somewhere here…

The girl and boy… Mouri Ran and Edogawa Conan were already running ahead. It was a large area… Chiyuki too another route.

Bang!


 

13

Chiyuki ran as fast as she could to the direction of the gunshot.

“What happened, Masami-san!? Hang in there!”

“Ran-neechan, hurry and call an ambulance!! And occhan and the others!!”

No… No…

Nonononononononononononono…

Please no… She could almost see them…

“Mama!”

“Chiyuki… Why…?” Mama had so shocked and pale face. Why was there so much red? Was mama hurt?

“You weren’t calling for days! And when I was near Mouri detective agency, I heard them talking about your alias and suspecting you were dead! Of course, I followed them!” Chiyuki shouted, falling on her knees next to her mother. The girl was angry and sad and desperate.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve called.” Mama apologized. “But I was in hurry and I didn’t want the bad guys to hear about you.” The woman heaved her body up and raised a hand to try and wipe away tears from Chiyuki’s face. It just left blood smudges on the girl’s face.

“And now you are dying…” Chiyuki choked out, wiping her face to her long shirt sleeves. “And we wouldn’t have known until tomorrow earliest!”

“I’m sorry.” Mama said again. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there for you more. That I couldn’t be a proper mother. That I’m leaving like this and you have to see it. But I’m so glad I got to see you once more. I love you Chiyuki. Mama loves you so much.”

“Chi-chan loves you too, mama.” Chiyuki cried, clutching onto the cold hand of the woman. She absently heard mama telling Edogawa where the money was hidden.

And she was gone.


 

14

As much as Edogawa Conan would’ve liked to watch after the last robber’s daughter, he had no idea what her name was aside from given name and likewise he had no idea what was ‘Hirota Masami’s’ real name. Only vague reference to possible be living relatively close to detective agency but even that didn’t help much considering that the girl had secretly followed them all the way from detective agency to the hotel and then to the docks without being seen. And once the police arrived, she managed to vanish again.

If Moroboshi Chiyuki had come to the school in the next week, there was a possibility that Conan would’ve met her, but alas it didn’t happen and eventually the boy was forced to give up.


 

15

While Chiyuki mourned Akemi’s death silently, Nabiki sprung into action. There were many safeguards in place for situation like this and as soon as Akemi’s death was confirmed Nabiki went and got full custody of Chiyuki since there was no trace of the girl’s actual father. The woman asked Chiyuki if the girl wanted to change her family name to Harumori but the girl refused.

Then were monetary arrangements. Akemi had left everything to Chiyuki and thankfully the lawyer was someone that the organization didn’t know of and things were handled quietly and discreetly.

A bit later, Nabiki went to claim Akemi’s body from the police morgue. She was there as a Yamada Yuna – Jane Doe – so it was easy for Nabiki to claim her as Harumori Madoka.

And with some money for the recordkeeper, all traces of Akemi were gone.

Time for funerals.


 

16

It was on the day of funerals, Chiyuki remembered. She remembered living another life as a regular British girl up until 15 years old. Then all memories stopped and memories as Chiyuki began slowly trickle in.

“Oh… This is bad…” She muttered when she realized just who her parents were. But she had kept low profile this far, she could do this. And Akemi had made sure the organization didn’t know about her.

“Chiyuki-chan, it’s time to go!” Nabiki called from the genkan.

“Hai!” Chiyuki got on her feet and hurried through the entire apartment. She was wearing a black dress with white lace at the collar and hems and there were new black shoes bought for this occasion waiting for her in the genkan. “I’m… I’m ready.”

“No one truly is.” Nabiki smiled sadly. Chiyuki just tilted her head before putting on her shoes and taking the woman’s hand. “But it’s going to be alright.”

“I think so too.”


 

17

The funerals were a quiet and small affair, with Akemi being cremated under different name. Nabiki just was very grateful that her parents allowed her to be added to the family register as Nabiki’s sister and thus was allowed a place in family grave.

Chiyuki remained quiet the entire procession, silently following Nabiki’s lead.

They were both glad when it was over.


 

18

Chiyuki returned to school soon after and with the help of her friends, caught up with school work.

“I’ll be fine.” She told them to quell their worrying about the fact her mother died. “What has been going on here in the meanwhile?”

“Class 1-B have detectives now. They made an announcement through the PA system.” Kaito grinned in excitement.

“Teachers didn’t like that they did it without permission though.” Toshiya pointed out. “But they did get an assignment on the same day.”

“Yeah, Hiroki-kun from our class wanted them to find his cat.” Ayano continued. “They found it…” A dramatic pause. “…and a murder!”

“Murder?!” Chiyuki gasped. “Were they alright?”

“Yeah, they called the cops and I guess the case was solved too since Kojima-kun isn’t loudly complaining about it.” The daughter of a magician shrugged.

“Kojima-kun?”

“Kojima Genta, the big kid with big appetite. He is the leader of Shounen Tantei-dan.”

“Other members are Tsuburaya Mitsuhiko-kun, he is quite smart and tall and has freckles on his face…” Toshiya continued. “Then is Yoshida Ayumi-san. I heard everyone of 1-B likes her.”

“Social girl then.” Chiyuki nodded.

“And the last is Edogawa Conan-kun, the short transfer with funny glasses.” Kaito added. “I heard he lives with a real detective and has seen a lot of real cases before coming to school.”

“Nee, Chi-chan, do you want to come to my house after school?” Ayano asked. “I could ask otou-san teach us some magic tricks.”

“Sure.” Chiyuki smiled. She was very glad to have such good friends.


 

19

Chiyuki loved the tricks that Tsukumo Motoyasu’s students showed them and tried to teach too. It seemed that Ayano’s father was currently too busy but the students were happy to pick up the slack. While Chiyuki’s hands might be too small and fingers too clumsy for majority of tricks, she was getting there.

“Can I have all of your autographs?” Chiyuki asked with hopeful tone of voice. “I could bring cards next time.”

“Sure.” Sanada Kazumi smiled and shuffled cards between his hands. “Pick a card.”

Chiyuki picked one from the deck offered to her. Seven of Spades. Her favorite. Kazumi pressed the card against her palms.

“Hold onto it…” Chiyuki held the card against her chest and stared at Kazumi’s hands when he went to shuffle the deck again.

“And, voilà…” Miyoshi Mako flicked the correct card up above Kazumi’s shoulder. Chiyuki blinked at it and then looked down in her hands. When she opened them, the girl had brightly colored silk flowers her palms full.

“Ah!” The little girl gasped. “Flowers!”

“Mako…” Kazumi complained for the woman stole his show.

“My turn… Would you like to visit the doves, Chiyuki-chan?” Mako asked, crouching down to speak to the girl. “Ayano-chan and Yuji went ahead already.”

“Sure!”

Chiyuki liked it here. She wanted to visit again.


 

20

Four autographs from magicians richer, Chiyuki returned to normal school life. Since her friend group didn’t run into cases like the detectives of class 1-B, life was quite monotonous sometimes.

Until Ayano-chan’s father was killed.

Until Toshiya-kun’s brother was kidnapped.

Until 1-B got a new student.

“Shiho-neesan!”

Chapter Text

21

Chiyuki tried her best to push Akemi’s death behind her. She had barely known the woman after all. And she was mentally fifteen, at least. So why should… a death of a… fictional character… matter…

Tears bubbled in her eyes and fell down her cheeks. Chiyuki took several greedy gulps of air in order not to make any noise and alert Nabiki but…

“…” She was so sad. Akemi was her mother. It didn’t matter that Nabiki had mostly raised her, Akemi had loved her anyways. “Mama…”

Her death hurt. There was no way over and around it. No way to deny it.

“Shh…” Nabiki appeared by her side. “Just let it out, Chi-chan… Let it all out…” The woman rubbed circles on her back.

“I… I want… mama…”

“I know… Trust me, I know… I want her too…”


 

22

Chiyuki escaped to make-believe worlds Ayano was excellent to craft. Some day they were part of Kamen Yaiba’s allies, the next they had dragons, princesses and knights. Time after school was spent in parks or at Ayano’s house. Toshiya and Kaito happily tagged along.

Chiyuki was busy and happy. She was learning little magic tricks and was in good terms with her friends.

Then Ayano told her father had gone on a long trip. Right before her birthday even. Chiyuki stopped eating her lunch and turned to look at her friend.

“Are you alright, Aya-chan?” She asked.

“Of course! It’s just a silly trip. Okaa-san said that otou-san will come back soon.” The other girl smiled. “Which reminds me, I’ve got these invitations for you guys!”

Ayano took bunch of invitation cards from her backpack and gave three of them to her friends.

“Thank you, Ayano-chan.” Toshiya thanked.

“Thank you!” Kaito chimed in.

“Thank you, Aya-chan.” Chiyuki smiled in strained manner but turned her attention to the other cards then. “That’s a lot of invitations.”

“Yeah. I’m inviting both our class and B-class. Do you wanna help me put these in their shoelockers?”

“Sure.”


 

23

Day before Ayano’s birthday, Chiyuki spied the other girl’s mother entering the Mouri detective agency. She turned silently away and hurried home.

About an hour later, there was a call in the landline. Nabiki answered it.

“Chi-chan, it’s Ayano-chan’s mother asking if you want to go shopping with Ayano-chan and Miyoshi-san.”

“Okay.” Anything for her friend. Especially considering that she would be told of her father’s death after her birthday.


 

24

Ayano picked an orange dress with white ruffles. And somehow managed to convince Chiyuki to picked herself a mint green dress with lilac accents.

“You look cute in that, Chi-chan!” Ayano gushed.

“You think so?”

“Yes. Right, Mako-neechan?”

“Indeed. You make a wonderful pair.” The magician apprentice smiled to the two girls.

“But is it really okay for me getting a dress? It’s Aya-chan birthday soon, not mine.” Chiyuki frowned.

“It’s fine. Your mother agreed when I asked.” Mako showed her pager. “Shall we go pay for these and go to eat then?”

“Yes!” The girls smiled.


 

25

They ate at Donny’s when Mako got a message from Ayano’s mother, asking them to go back.

“No way!” Ayano protested.

“But it’s getting late.” Chiyuki pointed out. “If we stay up too long, we’ll be all tired tomorrow.”

“But Mako-neechan is taking us to a surprise place though?”

“We have to take Chiyuki-chan home first. Her mother asked that she’d come home before it’s too late.” Mako answered.

And so Chiyuki was dropped off at home. Mako and Ayano visited park that had fireworks on that night before returning the Tsukumo residence, the girl all tired.


 

26

Ayano’s birthday party was great even though the birthday girl was upset Mako couldn’t attend. Chiyuki tried her best to distract her friend with the help of Toshiya, Kaito and the two remaining disciples.

Almost everyone who got the invitation, were present. Except for Edogawa Conan who was spending time with a relative of his.

Weeks later Ayano took absent from school for her father’s funerals.


 

27

Toshiya’s brother went missing so he made a request for the Detective Boys to solve the case. On the same time than leaving the request, class 1-B got a new student, Haibara Ai.

Chiyuki bit her lip. She wanted to see Shiho again. But how? She was shrunk. And Chiyuki wasn’t supposed to know about APTX.

When the day ended, Chiyuki, Ayano and Kaito went to collect their shoes together while Toshiya waited for the detectives in their classroom. They’d offered to stay with Toshiya but the boy had refused, saying he trusted the detectives.

Chiyuki had gotten her shoes on and was passing the shoe locker aisles when she abruptly stopped to watch the 1-B students. And one of them… had reddish brown hair…

“Chiyuki-chan? Are you alright?” Kaito asked. Chiyuki blinked rapidly and noticed tears falling from her eyes.

“I… Yes… Sorry…” She wiped tears away quickly and ran outside.

“Chi-chan, wait!” Ayano called after her before rounding the Detective Boys and the new transfer. “What did you do to Chi-chan?!”

“Wha-? Nothing!” Kojima Genta protested. What else was being said, Chiyuki didn’t hear when the doors closed behind her. Kaito had run after her.

“Chiyuki-chan?” The boy asked. “Are you sure you are alright? We can postpone game night, if you want to.”

“So Toshi-kun can play with us?” Chiyuki rubbed her eyes.

“Yes. And… Is there something you need?”

“Not really.”

“Okay.”

Ayano appeared next to them.

“Okay. They were apparently innocent.” The magician’s daughter grumbled. “And I remembered okaa-san asked me to come straight home today.”

“So the game night is postponed?” Kaito confirmed.

“Well, you two can still play, if you want to… But the sleepover game night gotta be rescheduled.”

“Okay. Let’s have it when we all can attend.” Kaito smiled. “Do you still wanna come over Chiyuki-chan?”

“Yeah… If you don’t mind…” Chiyuki sniffed and blew her nose to a handkerchief.

“It’s okay. We can play other games or maybe with my cars or something.”


 

28

Next day they heard from Toshiya that his brother had been threatened into helping a group of money counterfeiters.

That weekend they had a sleepover at Kaito’s house, Mokubasou. They played games til late at night when they one by one fell asleep on one puppy pile.

At school, Chiyuki couldn’t go around without almost bursting in tears whenever she saw Shiho. Every time, she was reminded of Akemi and her emotions just overflowed.

So it was just easiest to avoid her. And since the ‘transfer student Haibara Ai’ didn’t seem to be interested in the students of class 1-A…

They really were to peas in a pod.


 

29

Until enough was enough. Chiyuki couldn’t stay away anymore. She one evening walked up to Professor Agasa Hiroshi’s house and rung the doorbell. The professor opened the door.

“Oh, hello. Who might you be?”

“…” Chiyuki bit her lip. “Please excuse me!”

And she darted past the professor, to the living area. She didn’t pay any heed to Conan standing there and promptly glomped Shiho to the ground. She was crying again.

“Chi-…Chi-chan?” The voice was right and it was wrong at the same time.

“Sh-Shiho-nee…” Chiyuki blubbered. “Shiho-neesan!”

“It’s okay… It’s okay, Chi-chan…” Tiny arms wrapped around Chiyuki’s shoulders as she cried against the shrunken scientist’s front. “I’m here now.”


 

30

The completely embarrassing scene later, the two girls were seated on a sofa, mugs of tea on the coffee table in front of them (brewed by Agasa) and Conan staring them down, hands on his hips.

“Care to explain, Haibara?” The boy demanded.

“She is my niece.” The auburn haired girl replied while making sure Chiyuki didn’t burn her mouth with the hot tea.

“How did she find you?”

“I made sure to enroll to the same school than where Chiyuki-chan was. That she happened to attend the same school than you and that I ended up on the same class with you, that’s a coincidence.”

“But how did she know you were…” The boy bit his tongue as to not blurt out the word shrunk in the case Chiyuki didn’t know things after all. That he’d not noticed the robber’s daughter attending the same school than himself… that was embarrassing enough.

“What do you mean? Big or small, Shiho-neesan is Shiho-neesan.” Chiyuki blinked. “Of course, I’d recognize her.”

“There you go.” Haibara agreed, not concerned at all that actual children’s logic didn’t make a lick of sense here.

“Auchi! Hot!” Chiyuki grimaced, splashing tea on her shirt. Haibara just smiled fondly and started cleaning her niece. She could see Chiyuki’s behavior what it was though. Avoidance and distraction.

“Was that all, Edogawa-kun?” She asked.

“Just… make sure she won’t spill information to anyone.” The boy grumbled and stalked off.

“I already spilled my tea so no worries.” Chiyuki chirped after him.

“…You do understand that you can’t call me Shiho-neesan on public though.” Haibara spoke gently to the girl.

“Hai… Because the bad people that mama hid me from might to try after you.”

“Exactly. So call me Ai.”

“Ai-neesan?”

“…If you want to.”

“I’m glad I found you Ai-neesan.”

Chapter Text

31

Even after meeting with Shiho – Ai – properly, Chiyuki did not start actively hang out with the Detective Boys. She is introduced to them, yes, as Ai’s cousin to explain her calling the auburn-haired girl ‘neesan’, and even invited to join their little detective club but she had her own friends already.

Besides… Genta was way too loud, Mitsuhiko too snobby and Ayumi too saccharine sweet in Chiyuki’s tastes. Not to mention that Conan was way too nosy. So, Chiyuki declined the invitation and the DB badge that would track her movements. They were still sort of friends… in a… “Cousin of Haibara-san is a friend of ours” way.

Well, at least Ai was fond of them in a big sister sort of way.


 

32

Ayano, Kaito and Toshiya were also told about Chiyuki’s cousin. They took it in stride and understood when Chiyuki explained that last time, she’d seen Ai was when her mother was still alive and that’s why she’d started crying and had run away from the Detective Boys when the other girl had enrolled Teitan.

Toshiya invited all three of them over his place to play a new board game his brother had bought for him as an apology for worrying him. The game was called Go for Broke where the aim was to spend one million dollars as fast as possible. It was a fun game. And ironic considering what had happened with the brother. But good they were getting over it.


 

33

A bit later there was a threat of a shootout happening at a football game.  Everyone heard everything about it the next day at school since the Detective Boys had been involved in finding the culprits.

“Dangerous stuff.” Kaito mused.

“Yeah, but they really like mysteries.” Toshiya agreed, having been in danger himself when he’d been with DB looking for his brother.

“But do they do it for the mystery or for the reward?” Ayano asked.

“Bit of both really I think.” Chiyuki smiled. “Kojima-kun wants reward, Tsuburaya-kun likes the intellectual challenge, Yoshida-san has thirst for adventure, Edogawa-kun is the trouble magnet and Ai-neesan is their babysitter.”

“True…” The other three chorused.


 

34

Then came the first murder case where Chiyuki was involved in. She’d been chatting with people on Magic Lovers Forum and enjoyed their talk. As it was online and behind a username, she could talk as she wished and let the other members draw their own conclusions of her age and gender. And now Chiyuki wanted to attend their face to face meeting, if only to see their faces when they realize a grade schooler was chatting with the adults.

It had taken some time to convince Nabiki but finally a compromise had been achieved. Nabiki would take Chiyuki to the lodge and see the other people in the meeting herself and then decide whether or not she’d leave Chiyuki with them for two nights. Thankfully at least Fake Child, Illusion and Magician’s Apprentice were obviously girls and Magician’s Apprentice was taking a friend – another girl – with her to the meeting so it wouldn’t be just males.

And Nabiki was a good judge of character so she’d be able to easily determine whether or not Chiyuki would be safe.


 

35

It was funny how after ringing the doorbell, the owner of the lodge, Ara Yoshinori aka Silent Ventriloquist, addressed Nabiki as Ace of Spades – Chiyuki’s username.

“No, Ace of Spades is my daughter. I’m here only to see if it’s safe for her two stay.” Nabiki retorted.

“Konnichiwa!” Chiyuki smiled next to her.

“Ah, my apologies.” Ara replied. “We thought you were at least in twenties based on some of the words you used.”

True, Chiyuki as a first grader wasn’t supposed to know that much kanji but that’s what a dictionary and Nabiki was for.

“I asked kaasan about kanji and she helped.” Chiyuki grinned. “And sometimes I thought how would kaasan say this when chatting.”

“That was a clever trick.” Ara praised the girl.

“You pass.” Nabiki stated then. “Where are other participants?”

“Dining room for now. Many people arrived only recently so we’re getting to know each other.” the man led them to the dining room where three people were gathered. Two women and one man.

“Ace of Spades? Nice to meet you.” The man got up from his seat and offered a hand to Nabiki. “You are as beautiful as I imagined.” He kissed the back of her hand and winked at her then. Chiyuki and Ara exchanged an exasperated look.

“…You pass.” Nabiki decided then. Apparently, the man was casual flirt and since Chiyuki hadn’t talked with him via PMs or had ever hinted anything in regards her own looks… Casual flirt, not a pervert. Likewise, Ara hadn’t known it was Chiyuki chatting so he was discounted as a pervert luring a child into a remote ski lodge as well.

“Pass?” The flirt asked.

“Ah, Ace-san, you didn’t mention you were taking your daughter with you.” One of the women, with glasses, said. Ace-san was the way Chiyuki had asked to be addressed as online since her username was a bit long to write out every time direct addressing was needed.

Nabiki just smiled at the two of them. “Of course not.”

“…Is there a trick going on?” The last woman asked after a bout of silence and confusion.

“Indeed.” Nabiki nodded. “My name is Harumori Nabiki. My daughter Chiyuki here is the one behind the username Ace of Spades. I came here to see what sort of people are meeting and if it’s safe to leave Chiyuki here for two nights.”

“Konnichiwa!” Chiyuki greeted again. “My name is Moroboshi Chiyuki. Nice to meet you all finally.”

Stunned silence followed.

“May I know the usernames of each of you?” Nabiki enquired.

“Of course.” The woman with glasses nodded, getting up from her seat as well. “My name is Kuroda Naoko. I go by Illusion.”

“Tanaka Kikue. I’m called Fake Child.” The other woman smiled, offering a wave to Chiyuki.

“Hamano Toshiya. I’m Disappearing Bunny.” The rebuffed man smiled too and then bent to address Chiyuki directly. “Nice to meet you Chiyuki-chan.”

“It’s Ace-san to you, she-male.” Chiyuki replied, in reference to the fact that Hamano had pretended to be a woman online. Naoko snorted at the reply and the others smiled too at the exchange.

“Who else are coming?” Nabiki asked Ara then.

“Magician’s Apprentice and her friend, Red Herring, Shadow Manipulator as well as our admin Escape King.”

Right on point, the doorbell rang again. Ara went to answer while Nabiki gently interrogated the other participants about their occupations and lives in general before being satisfied.

The newcomer was Doito Katsuki aka Red Herring. He glanced between Nabiki and Chiyuki for a moment before asking which one of them was Magician’s Apprentice.

“I’m Ace of Spades, Doito-san.” Chiyuki answered. “Kaasan just drove me here.”

“Oh, I see.” Doito nodded.

“You pass as well.” Nabiki stated then. “Chi-chan, I’m going to get your bag from the car, be nice with your new friends.”

“Hai.”


 

36

Nabiki had Chiyuki settled in one of the rooms before leaving. Chiyuki promised to call home with the lodge’s landline before going to sleep and the first thing in the morning.

Then she and the other magic lovers settled down to wait for the rest to arrive. It didn’t take long before the doorbell rang again. This time it was the Magician’s Apprentice and her friend that arrived. Suzuki Sonoko and Mouri Ran. There was discussion about how people’s mannerisms online had managed to confuse people of their age and gender. Sonoko had been obviously girl pretending to be a man, Kikue had seemed like a man convincingly (thought Chiyuki knew the owner of the username had changed recently), Hamano had been so convincingly woman that even Naoko had been fooled. And of course, there was Doito who was excited to meet Sonoko who in turn had hoped to meet a dreamy prince and…

“You sound like an otaku who’s never scored a date in his life.” Chiyuki bluntly informed Doito.

“Okay, I can see how she managed to seem like one and half decades older.” Naoko mused. “Her phrasing is well above her age.”

Chiyuki just ignored the remark and glanced out of the open doorway. Conan was there. She didn’t feel like talking with him though.

Sonoko asked as well who else were coming to the meeting and was informed that only Shadow Manipulator and Escape King were missing.

“Eh, Shadow Manipulator is coming as well?” The girl asked, shocked, and then went to explain to Ran that the user behind the name was creepy.

“I think they’re funny.” Chiyuki stated. It was true. She’d talked a lot with Shadow Manipulator when she’d come home and other users weren’t present yet due their work or in Sonoko’s (and Doito’s) case school. Shadow Manipulator was always courteous towards her and it was nice to talk with them about favourite magicians and impossible feats. With them Chiyuki had also talked about death of Ayano’s father and asked how to comfort her friend afterwards. Which probably tipped Kikue about her true age and saw through Chiyuki and Nabiki’s ruse.

They went to set their beds in the lodge. Ran and Sonoko were sharing a room so Chiyuki went to shyly as Naoko if she could share a room with her as well. The woman agreed and as there were two beds in each room, it was no problem space vise.


 

37

It was after eating a delicious lunch and conversing about their favourite magicians when the start of the case began. First Hamano, who wanted to try calling Escape King again, noticed that there was no dial tone in the landline. Then Ran found Conan in the snow in front of the lodge.

When discussing about the situation and Ran telling others Conan’s warning, Kikue suggested it having something to do with Shadow Manipulator and Escape King. Unfortunately, though even when Ara tried to call Escape King again, there was no dial tone, meaning that the phonelines were having problems.

“Or have been cut…” Chiyuki thought but asked aloud. “Ran-neesan, if Edogawa-kun is here, is your otou-san nearby then too?”

“I don’t think so… He would’ve been with Conan-kun and rang the doorbell otherwise.” The karate champion replied. Okay, so no one was willing to go investigate the bridge then. Fine. Chiyuki would do it herself then.

The girl went to downstairs while adults were worrying about Escape King’s absence and evening program. And eventually deciding on selecting a new leader. Meanwhile Chiyuki took her coat and boots from the front hall, found a flashlight and exited via backdoor. The door she left open with an umbrella between it but packed snow on the outside so wind wouldn’t slam it open.

And she went to see the burnt bridge.


 

38

Snow was crunching beneath Chiyuki’s boots as she walked around the house and towards the bridge. The wind blew in the woods and snowflakes fell gently down.

Chiyuki stopped and looked up. It was so pretty. Dark, cloudless night sky with stars twinkling far above her. No light pollution messing with the scenery.

“Pretty…” She breathed. Then she continued walking on… While singing softly.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star… How I wonder what you are… Up above the world so high… Like a diamond in the sky… Twinkle, twinkle, little star… How I wonder what you are…

She arrived to the ravine and the collapsed bridge. Across seemed to be marks of a car being parked there but it was hard to say in the dark. Well, Mouri Kogoro had gone to get some help then. Chiyuki turned around to get back to the lodge.

“When the blazing sun is gone… When he nothing shines upon… Then you show your little light…Twinkle, twinkle, little star… How I wonder what you are…”

She stopped at the corner of the lodge and clicked the flashlight shut. A shadow was slipping down from Hamano’s rooms balcony to the middle of the yard. The girl swallowed and then ran along the wall of the house back to the backdoor, her eyes firmly not looking at the corpse. She was silently thankful that the hallway window and the bath heating system were at the other end of the house and thus Tanaka Kikue could not see her.


 

39

Chiyuki slipped back in and put the flashlight back where she’d taken it, then taking her shoes and coat to the front hall and slipping back in to help with dinner preparations. No one had noticed she was gone, assuming she’d gone to bathroom.

Okay. Bar Ran, none of them had experience in childrearing. And Ran was preoccupied with worrying about Conan and thus not leaving his bedside.

Eventually Sonoko did drag Ran down for dinner which looked at least delicious as well.

“Escape King and Shadow Manipulator haven’t come yet, it seems.” Kikue commented as they sat down to eat.

“Both didn’t get along well together. They might’ve met somewhere earlier and had a fight.” Naoko suggested.

“They didn’t get along well?” Ran frowned.

“Yeah. They once got into a flame war about a magician.” Sonoko began.

“I remember that too!” Chiyuki blinked. “King-san called Shadow-san a hypocrite and pretentious liar and Shadow-san called King-san and Bunny-san murderers.”

That had actually happened in the conversation once. Those exact insults had been said very late in the evening though that Chiyuki hadn’t seen the continuation of the argument once Nabiki ushered her to bed.

“That’s old stuff.” Ara intervened. “Let’s not talk about that right now… Don’t know about Shadow Manipulator but Escape King, our board leader, will eventually…”

“He’s not coming either…” A voice interjected from the doorway. Conan was up. “He was murdered in his apartment.”

“Murdered?!”

“His name is Nishiyama Tsutomu, right?”

“Yeah…”

“Then what I heard on the radio should be correct. I rushed back here to warn everyone that all of you are in danger right now.”

“How are we in danger?” Naoko asked.

“Because there was a message left on the monitor next to Nishiyama-san’s body… ‘The first one – Shadow Manipulator’…” Conan informed them. The adults were shocked.

“If it’s because of the thing they argued about, then Hamano-san was involved as well.” Kikue muttered.

“Then he might also be…” Ara began and thus everyone hurried upstairs to check on the absent man.


 

40

Hamano was lying in the middle of the yard in untouched snow. Doito pronounced him dead and then told the rest not to approach and disturb the crime scene.

“Crime scene?” Ara asked.

“Don’t you get it?” Conan asked. “The body’s found over 30 feet from the lodge but the only foot prints around the body belong to us.”

“Yes, this is a murder that people without wings like us shouldn’t be able to commit. This is an impossible crime.” Doito said which, considering who he actually was beneath that disguise, was quite ironic choice of words.

Next people were bantering back and forth about the possibility of murderer being nearby, with Doito saying that murderer might be one of them. Then the creepy assistant/part timer Ara had hired mentioned the missing Shadow Manipulator being a likely suspect. Kikue wanted to leave the whole place when Conan told her that the bridge had burnt down and there was thus no way out.

Naoko spoke of the cut phonelines. Doito mentioned no cellphone coverage. There was no way to call for help.

“Is it Shadow Manipulator then?” Chiyuki asked quietly drawing attention to herself. “After Edogawa-kun came here, I went to see the bridge if Mouri-san was nearby… The bridge was burnt and collapsed and when I came back…” She bit her lip. “When I came back, I saw a shadow flying out from Hamano-san’s balcony!”

Chapter Text

41

They were all gathered in the dining room. after Chiyuki’s outburst, it had been ironically Kikue aka the culprit of the day, who had comforted her.

“Okaasan is going to be worried.” Chiyuki spoke up after Sonoko professed her guilt over choosing Hamano to be the entertainment of the evening and thus gotten killed because of that. Doito had comforted her.

“Yes, you did promise to call on the evening…” Naoko remembered. The girl nodded mutely.

“Maybe she has contacted the police then?” Conan suggested. “After the bridge burned down, Kogoro-ojiisan told me from the other side, that he’d bring help from the police as soon as possible and told be to come and wait here! So, the police should be here by tomorrow morning!”

“It’s good to heart that…” Kikue mused. Chiyuki looked up at the woman. She’d liked the woman as Shadow Manipulator but as Fake Child, she was… weird. And here she was Fake Child while Shadow Manipulator was the murderer… Chiyuki didn’t know what to think…

“But why was Hamano-san and Nishiyama-san murdered?” Ara thought aloud.

“If Shadow Manipulator is the culprit, then… Is the chat from the other day the cause?” Naoko asked. The conversation then went to explaining the concept of chat to Ran. Considering that at this point of time the Detective Agency didn’t even have a computer, it was quite believable that the teen hadn’t used chat before… still, timelines and the development of technology was weird. Chiyuki didn’t have her phone cellphone yet, people still used pagers and fax machines… Landline phones were everywhere, internet and computers – especially laptops – were a novel concept that only rich and office workers used.

Then the dispute was explained. Escape king Harui Fuuden and Shadow Manipulators comments accusing them all. Chiyuki bit her lip. She felt sorry for the deceased magician. At such advanced age he still wanted his fans to experience the thrill of seeing an escape trick. And died for that.

The girl had seen the comments Nishiyama and Hamano made of the late magician after the disastrous trick and tried to have them show more respect and cease their joking. But they hadn’t listened.

Chiyuki had liked the original Fake Child. Though old fashioned with his words, he had been an enjoyable conversation partner. And had gently corrected Chiyuki’s grammar when it had been just the two of them online. After Harui Fuuden’s death, Chiyuki had ceased more personal communication with Fake Child. It wasn’t the same after all. Instead, she’d started talking with Shadow Manipulator who’d joined the chat not long after the fact.


 

42

Kikue, Ran, Conan and Doito went upstairs to get some warm clothes. Meanwhile Sonoko and Naoko went to bathroom. Suddenly they could hear windows breaking. Apparently both Kikue’s room’s balcony window and the window of the bathroom had been shot through with a crossbow arrow.

Apparently. Meaning that it wasn’t as it seemed.

Kikue went to chase for the culprit in the woods. Everyone followed her.

Everyone but Chiyuki.


 

43

Chiyuki had bundled into her jacket again as she went to the opposite direction from the others. She left through front door though, as to not leave any prints when she rounded the lodge and went to search for the tree with the other arrow of the trick.

Finding the arrow was easy. Pulling it out was hard. Chiyuki had to brace her both feet against the tree trunk in order to get enough leverage to pull the arrow out. And naturally fly and fall into the snow once it loosened.

But it was out now. Time to join the others and hid the arrow itself.


 

44

They had found a crossbow in the woods as well as an arrow. It was a different kind of arrow to the one Chiyuki had found. Chiyuki’s had a hole with a string looped through it while the other arrow had none.

And thus, they all returned inside and Conan began his investigation at earnest. He started with asking everyone’s alibis. Ara was astonished, Naoko and Kikue amused. Doito was the first one to answer his questions though.

“When Hamano-san was killed, he was alone in his room. Kuroda-san and I were setting up the dinner table and preparing the party. Isn’t that right, Kuroda-san?”

“Yes. After I finished, I went to help Sugama-san in the kitchen. Chiyuki-chan had joined us in setting the table… presumably after she came back from the bridge.” Naoko agreed. Chiyuki nodded in confirmation.

“Help?” Conan asked Sugama the creepy part-time helper.

“Ara-san told me to prepare dinner, so I was in the kitchen.” Sugama answered.

“When Kuroda-san and Sugama-san were in the kitchen, what were you doing?” Conan asked Doito then.

“Ah, I went to bring crackers for everyone.”

“Heh… Crackers…”

“I went to see Conan-kun and Ran in the room…” Sonoko joined in.

“That’s right. Then I came to the party with Sonoko and left Conan-kun alone in the room.” Ran continued.

“I was in charge of preparing the baths, so I used wood to heat the bath.” Kikue told the little detective.

“I went to fetch some wine from the wine cellar.” Ara added.

And from there on Conan led the investigation to outside, first to the wine cellar and then to the furnace used for heating the bath water.


 

45

“Naoko-oneesan, I want to take a bath.” Chiyuki told the bespectacled woman once everyone came back inside.

“Are you sure?” The woman asked.

“Yes. Kikue-oneesan went through a lot of effort to warm the water. It would be pity if it went to waste. And Sugama-san already taped the broken window shut, right?”

“That’s true.” Sugama the creep nodded.

“Alright, then. But you are not going alone.” Naoko stated.

“Of course.”

And the thus those who wanted to bath, drew lots on the order and went in pairs. First Chiyuki and Naoko, then Sonoko and Kikue. Others weren’t feeling up for a bath and thus declined.

Meanwhile, Conan solved the mystery and began preparations for solving it.


 

46

“Say… Why are you Doito Katsuki? Wouldn’t Toki Kida been easier and less suspicious to be?” Chiyuki asked Doito after her bath, her fingers clutching onto the pocket of his jeans. While asking, she slipped a playing card into that pocket without the moonlit magician noticing.

“What are you talking about?” The otaku-ish man asked.

“Red Herring isn’t exactly conspicuous, you know. It basically screams that you are fake or at least a distraction.” Chiyuki continued on. And she probably would’ve continued her line of one-sided conversation if Conan hadn’t screamed upstairs. Everyone came running from the dining room and went to upstairs, sweeping Doito and Chiyuki with them.

“Tch…” The girl frowned. “He got away…”

Glass broke. They ran outside, towards the tree from which Chiyuki had pulled the arrow free from.

Sonoko collapsed the snow and began “solving” the case.


 

47

Ran was sent back to the lodge, to the upstairs to perform the trick Conan instructed with Sonoko’s voice. Then Doito appeared there as well, to perform the shooting of arrows in her stead.

And thus, a triangular sail lookalike was arranged in the middle of the yard, hanging in midair. With it, a rolled-up blanket was cleanly lowered to the center of the yard without disturbing the rest of the snow.

“Most likely the shadow Chiyuki-chan saw flying from the balcony was Hamano-san’s body being moved down.”

One last arrow was shot into the woods to get rid of the strings and then “Sonoko” named the culprit.

Tanaka Kikue.

Naturally what followed was back and forth banter whether or not it was possible for her to have done it all as she’d been warming the bathwater and she had been shot at with the crossbow… all of which “Sonoko” disproved.

Finally Kikue confessed. And told about Harui Fuuden being her grandfather. About the disrespectful comments Nishiyama and Hamano both made after her grandfather’s death. About the fact that only Chiyuki had tried to make them stop.

“You guys probably don’t know that my grandfather intended to reveal himself if the show was successful… “I somehow managed to pull it off! Did you enjoy it, ladies and gentlemen? Fake Child aka Harui Fuuden” … I found this unsent comment left on his PC and felt sad and frustrated. And thus, I was unable to stop myself…” Kikue explained.

“But if those two had known who Fake Child was, they wouldn’t have…” Naoko began.

“True… But it seems that ‘he’ noticed…”

“’He’…?”

“Doito-kun… He sent grandfather a message encouraging him the day before the show…”

“But how did he know?” Ara asked.

“Maybe because he’s also a magician?” Sonoko’s voice continued. Chiyuki had her eyes on the balcony.

“He is?”

“My, you haven’t noticed yet? His name, Doito Katsuki, is an anagram… If you rearrange the kana…”

Personally, Chiyuki would’ve used romanji. The tsu-syllable made it all bit too obvious in her opinion.


 

48

Kaitou Kid flew away from the lodge when the sun began rising behind the mountains. A police helicopter arrived to the scene with Nabiki and Kogorou with them.

“Okaasan!” Chiyuki couldn’t help but cry in relief when she ran for her mother. Nabiki caught her into a fierce and relieved embrace.

“Oh, Chi-chan, I was so worried. I heard the radio and when I headed back, I came across with Mouri-san and he told me about the bridge…” The woman spoke, not really caring whether or not Chiyuki listened to her. The girl burrowed against the woman’s winter jacket and just hummed at appropriate moments. While this case wasn’t as bad as some others that Conan came across – there was no decapitation, witnessing or poisoning, blood, or other gruesome features – just man in the snow, already dead and due cold not even decomposing yet.

It was a clean case so to say.

But it didn’t mean that Chiyuki liked it.


 

49

Kikue turned herself in and confessed to the police. Statements were taken from everyone from the lodge. Miraculously Sonoko wasn’t required to explain everything all over again.

Chiyuki told her observations to Takagi and was scolded by Nabiki for leaving the cabin while it was dark out. Then she yawned and was ushered by Nabiki to upstairs to get her bag so they could go back home.

The police didn’t notice until she was already gone that there was no second arrow with a string loop anywhere in the scene. It was gone like magic.

In reality, Chiyuki had hidden it among her things after the magic lovers had gone back inside after the first window breaking episode. And now it was in the bottom of her wardrobe, hidden.


 

50

Ai was understandably worried after she heard Chiyuki had been pulled into one of the Conan’s cases. She did calm considerably when Chiyuki told it had been clean scene and the culprit had not wished any ill to her. On the other hand, Ai was also quite worried when her niece described her own conflict over the culprit. Chiyuki had genuinely liked Kikue. She had liked Harui too but she’d talked with Shadow Manipulator more in the end.

And thus, as a result Ai insisted on Chiyuki spending breaks with her and Detective Boys. So naturally Chiyuki’s friends joined them as well. It went on like so for a while. Until Genta declared 1-A kids too boring and Ayano 1-B kids too wild. Well, at least they weren’t on each other’s’ throats and the relations remained amicable.

Also, about a week after the case, Chiyuki got her playing card back. It was in the mailbox, in a letter without a stamp. And on the card – an Ace of Spades – was Kaitou Kid’s autograph.

It became the gem of Chiyuki’s magician autograph collection.

Chapter Text

Chiyuki did not know when Araide Tomoaki got swapped with Vermouth. She did know it happened between Haido City Hotel and Desperate revival. No matter how carefully she looked at the man’s mannerisms, she could not find any differences.

How did she get so many chances to see him? Easy. She’d gotten a cold after the Magic Lover Meeting and as Araide clinic had been closest, Nabiki had taken Chiyuki there. In the first check ups it had been Tomoaki’s father but when the man had gotten murdered by his second wife, Tomoaki had taken over.

But then again, Chiyuki had been terribly distracted in the aftermath of Haido City Hotel since Ai had come back with multiple bullet wounds and several fractured bones (falling into chimney hadn’t been risk free after all). So the girl had been fuzzing over the auburn haired girl and berating both shrunken teens with teary voice of how reckless they’d been. And careless, considering that Gin had come after Ai and had warned Pisco and Vermouth only based on the hair he found from inside his car.

So yeah, Chiyuki hadn’t actually had that much attention to spare to the Vermouth-Araide dilemma.

Then came the Teitan High’s School Festival and with it the Desperate Revival.


 

Chiyuki looked around in awe. It was the first time she had seen a high school from the inside in this life. Well, and in her previous life as well. And the booths made by the classes were so great! The cafés had good food, the ghost house was scary though cheesy, exhibitions made by artistic clubs were brilliant and the performances given by martial arts clubs were amazing.

Not to mention the sort of main event, the drama club’s Romantic Shuffle play. Nabiki and Chiyuki had arrived in time to get their places at the front so Chiyuki would see everything. She sat in her seat, almost bouncing in excitement, and clutching her cup of soda.

Then the lights dimmed and the play began. Chiyuki really loved Ran’s pink dress and the heartfelt way she delivered her lines. Though it was very cheesy in plot and dialogue, Ran made Chiyuki to believe in the world created around the princess and her knight.

Pity she wouldn’t be able to see the end of the play…

The Knight arrived to save the Princess. Heart and Spade. Opposite yet alike, if you just flip the other upside down.

And through the lens of knowledge, Chiyuki could see the relief and desperation Shinichi had in his frame when he embraced Ran against him. He was finally back in his body. He was finally able to touch and look at his beloved without a veil of deception hanging between them.

Chiyuki was not crying, she was not…

She dried her eyes to her sleeve. Damn this little body so prone to crying. While she had been sensitive in her previous life as well, being just six – almost seven – years old, made her even more prone to crying.

And then there was a scream. The victim of the day was dead.


 

Nabiki made sure Chiyuki did not see the corpse. The first thing the woman did, when the scream sounded, was to lift Chiyuki on her lap and have the girl drink her soda in peace while everyone else hustled and bustled around. The two of them were in the front rows, the commotion was way behind them. If they didn’t move, the masses would cover the body.

When the soda was finished, Nabiki slipped earphones to Chiyuki’s ears and some music played from her MD player, to block the declarations of murder and poison. Chiyuki had been exposed to the darker side of the world with her witnessing Akemi dying and then seeing that one magic lover’s corpse and Nabiki did not want the girl to see anything more. Not to have death tainting memories of places. Docks and some distant villa that Chiyuki would never visit again were okay. But Teitan was the closest high school and the most likely one for Chiyuki to eventually attend.

Herself, Nabiki listened to the proceedings. Of Kudou Shinichi stepping on the stage. Of him pin-pointing evidence and giving his deduction show. And collapsing afterwards and Hattori Heiji – another high school detective – stepping up and requesting the audience not to talk about the case and Kudou’s presence. Well, Nabiki had no intention of bringing this up to anyone.

“Is it over, kaasan?” Chiyuki asked suddenly, looking up at Nabiki and removing one earbud.

“I think so. The Knight pointed the culprit to the guards who took her to the dungeons then.”

“Good.” Chiyuki nodded. “Can we go home now?”

Nabiki looked behind them. It looked like the scene was being cleaned up. Corpse had been taken away ages already.

“I think so. Are you tired, Chiyuki-chan?”

“Un.” The girl nodded. “Carry me?” She asked hopefully.

“Very well.”

Nabiki gathered the little girl on her arms and got up from her seat. Ouch, her legs had fallen asleep in the meanwhile.


 

Next day, Chiyuki walked to Agasa’s house in order to walk to school with Ai, only to find out that she was sick. Chiyuki narrowed her eyes at the portly inventor before nodded and turned around, only to find Ran and Conan ringing the bell of the gate of the Kudou house.

“Ran-oneesan? Edogawa-kun?” Chiyuki asked aloud. “What are you doing here?”

“Ah, Chiyuki-chan!” The older girl smiled. “I was just seeing if Shinichi – my friend – was awake yet. He is such a sleepyhead that I need to wake him up in the mornings.”

That was quite the good lie actually. No word about Shinichi being missing.

“I see. Nee… Is Shinichi-oniisan Knight Spade from yesterday? He seemed really happy to see you again.”

“Ah…” Ran blushed. “Yes, he was playing Spade.” Then she turned to ring the door bell once more. The gate slammed open.

“Sheesh! You’re annoying!!” The resident of the house shouted. “You only need to ring once. I know you’re here!” But then he stepped aside and let Ran and Conan to enter. Or well… ‘Conan’. Chiyuki lingered at the gate.

“Ano… May I come in? Shinichi-oniisan?” She called.

“Uh… Sure.” The detective shrugged.

“Arigatou gozaimashita.”

“H-Hey? Do you really know what we’ll do at school today?” Ran was asking Shinichi as they made their way to the Kudou house.

“It’ll be the same as last year, right? We’re going to clean up from the Festival, aren’t we?” Shinichi replied. Chiyuki sidled next Conan who was walking beside Ran, with bored face. Then Shinichi slammed the front door closed in front the three of them. “I’m going to get ready, so wait there!!”

“How rude.” Chiyuki huffed. Conan just shrugged and slipped inside the house when Ran was distracted by the sight of her sort-of-not-quite boyfriend. Chiyuki considered doing so as well but refrained. Maybe some other day she’d get the chance of seeing the house and its library.

“Aren’t you glad, Conan-kun?” Ran asked the now missing boy. “Huh? Conan-kun?”

“He went inside. Probably wanted to talk with Shinichi-oniisan.” Chiyuki replied. Then she looked away and back up at Ran. “Ran-oneesan was very pretty last night.”

“Thank you, Chiyuki-chan.” The karate champion smiled. “Playing a princess is pretty fun sometimes. Have you ever been a princess?”

“Sometimes. Aya-chan wants to be a knight or dragon mostly and the boys are what they need to be. So I’m usually a princess or a fairy.” Make-believe was probably the best thing about being a child again. No one judged you for silly ideas or playing in general. It was something that Chiyuki had come to miss in her old life. When you grew up, you became more and more critical when it came to things you did, things you created, things you read and consumed. Nothing was ever enough, you always compared yourself to others and set the bar higher and higher for yourself.

“That sounds nice.” Ran continued. “When I was your age, I liked fantasy games as well. Though I had a lot of detective games with Shinichi too. Shinichi was often Holmes while I was Watson or police officer or anyone else needed.”

“I see. Was Shinichi-oniisan only Holmes? Was he incapable of pretending to be someone else?”

“Well…”

“What are you spouting here, Ran?” Shinichi emerged from the house, Conan following behind. “I was perfectly capable of pretending to be other roles than Holmes.”

“Oh yes… It was just that your ego couldn’t handle being anyone else.” Ran retorted. Chiyuki snorted behind her hand. Such a bickering couple.


 

The four of them walked on. Ran and Shinichi discussed the play and lines. Chiyuki walked beside Conan and…

“Chi-chan…” The ‘boy’ whispered suddenly.

“Edogawa-…?” The girl began in surprise as the real Conan had never addressed her by her nickname. Submerging to this world was way too easy for her and thus her reactions remained mostly natural. She let herself take in the familiar eyes above the face mask and have a realization to dawn on her face. “Ai-neesan?!” She whispered back. “But Agasa-hakase said that you were sick!”

“It’s a ruse.” Ai replied back and flicked her eyes towards the high school detective.

“Ah… Edogawa-kun is Shinichi-oniisan like Ai-neesan is Shiho-neesan?”

“Yes. And I’m only telling you this because you would’ve noticed anyways.”

“I see…” They came to a crossing where they met with other Detective Boys and… Chiyuki kicked Shinichi in the shin before he could greet the kids and thus almost blow his cover.

“Ouch… What was that for, Chiyuki-chan?” The teen grimaced.

“You were being rude to Ran-oneesan.” The girl explained and tilted her head towards the kids who gathered around ‘Conan’. Then she hurried to join them, leaving the young detective watch after them… in realization that he was no longer a kid. He was not Conan that the kids knew.


 

School went on as normal. Chiyuki spent time with Ayano, Kaito and Toshiya. The Detective Boys hung in the periphery but not really involved.

The next day, everything was even more normal. Ai was back and Shinichi was Conan once more.

Life went on.


 

One day when Chiyuki was walking around Beika, she saw the prettiest woman she’d ever seen. While both Akemi and Nabiki, as well as Shiho had been pretty too, this woman took it up a notch.

“Kirei…” She whispered, but apparently a bit too loud for the woman heard her and turned around.

“Ookini, ojou-chan.” The woman smiled. She was wearing a violet kimono with a black haori thrown on top of it. Her dark brown hair was perfectly put together and pinned at the back of her head. “You are very cute as well.”

Chiyuki blushed.

“A-Arigatou…” The Osaka-ben the woman used, revealed pretty much who she was. Hattori Shizuka, Heiji’s mother.

“Could you perhaps tell me how to get to Mouri Detective Agency?”

“Sure!” And thus Chiyuki instructed her how to get to the fifth block of Beika. She also told, when asked that there was some phonebooths near the agency so the woman could call ahead.

This was… This was Shizuka’s introduction case then. And holy shit, she was pretty!


 

Teitan Elementary school was having medical examinations done to all students. Height, weight, eyes, hearing, blood pressure… The entire deal really. Araide-Vermouth was conducting them. The first years went first. Ai was absent.

“Moroboshi Chiyuki-san?” Araide looked between the girl and the name on his file. “Weren’t you Harumori?”

“I’m officially Harumori but at school I use my father’s family name.” Chiyuki replied. Yikes. No hiding that anymore. She could only hope that the disguiser wouldn’t try anything weird. Or dangerous.

“I see. I shall update your file here from the one I have on the clinic then. In the meantime… Leave you hoodie and skirt behind the screen and then step on the scales…”


 

“How did it go, Chi-chan?” Ayano asked when Chiyuki came back.

“Just fine. Nothing scary. I’m healthy… And I’ve grown an inch!”

“Ooh, that’s great!” Kaito congratulated her.

“Araide-sensei really knows his stuff. He is really kind too.” Toshiya noted. Of the friend group, Chiyuki had been the last one to have her checkup. While she had been dreading it because of Vermouth, she was relieved nothing suspicious had happened.

Maybe everything would be okay… Chiyuki really hoped she could live on her life as normally as possible.

Chapter Text

Short version: Get invited on a skiing-trip, have the bus hijacked, have the bus explode, everybody lives.

Chiyuki tried to sell that story to Nabiki. Nabiki was not impressed.

So the long version it was…


 

Everything started on a nice crispy February morning. Technically it started before that, when Chiyuki got the invitation but all the excitement happened later.

Chiyuki was with the Detective Boys and professor Agasa, ready to board the bus. The rest of the kids were chatting excitedly about the prospect of going skiing and then also berating Agasa for not taking a good care of himself and thus getting himself sick just prior the trip. Meanwhile, Ai and Conan were talking about Haido Hotel and Black Organization. Chiyuki was sitting on the seat with them but not really paying attention on the things said. She knew what had happened after all. And as a child outwardly, she was not expected to pay attention. Despite the Detective Boys being nosy and always butting into the two shrunken teens’ business.

Then Ai froze in fear and asked Conan to swap seats with her. Thus she was placed between him and Chiyuki. Jodie and Araide-Vermouth had entered.

The Detective Boy’s greeted Araide, remembering him from the annual health checks. Genta teased the man of being on a date. Thus Jodie introduced herself.

“Hi, Cool Kid!” The English teacher greeted and then smiled at the others. “I’m Jodie Saintemillion. I teach English at Teitan High. Doctor Araide and I are going to Ueno Museum.”

The two Teitan high faculty members took their seats and mere moments later…

“Everybody shut up! I’ll kill anyone who makes a fuss!” A busjacker declared. There were screams but then the guy shot once at the ceiling. “Didn’t you hear what I just said?!”

“Put up the “No service” sign!” The other busjacker instructed the driver. “And drive for a while. When you get stopped by a red light, call your bus company.”

“Good kids… Give us your cellphones! Don’t hide them… If you do, we’ll make sure you’ll never be able to use a phone again. Got that?”

Chiyuki didn’t have a phone of her own yet. Neither did the other kids bar Conan who had the earring cellphone. Considering Chiyuki’s spot next to window, she was safe from the accomplice’s gaze but at the same time she couldn’t do anything. However, she had full faith in Conan and was sure he’d be able to solve this just like in canon.

Moreover… Chiyuki needed to be Ai’s support. Vermouth was sitting right in front of them. Ai might not have known whether the woman was disguised as Jodie or Araide but Chiyuki would do her best to divert attention.

The girl threaded her fingers through Ai’s and gave a reassuring squeeze. Ai clutched back, trembling.


 

Everything sort of faded out. The bus rode on, Chiyuki kept looking at the scenery. Most of the places were some that she’d never seen before…

Only the occasional twitch of Ai’s hand and the busjackers barking at other passengers when a message of something suspicious happing was sent out, jerked Chiyuki back to the present. Watching Araide-Vermouth defend Conan was… Well, it was. Chiyuki couldn’t help but wonder what Jodie and Akai thought about the boy now, given that Vermouth protected him with her life.

Then…

“Don’t risk it, Cool Kid. A good chance will come along soon! You don’t have to be scared. We’ll get rescued soon.” Jodie spoke first to Conan and then to Ai.

“What’s your name, little red riding hood?” The woman leaned against the backrest of her seat. Chiyuki looked up.

“Oh, her? She’s just a girl we met on the bus! She’s really scared, so could you leave her alone?” Conan whispered back.

“Yeah, the busjackers really spooked her so we had her sit between us.” Chiyuki continued.

“Oh sorry!”

“Hey! What are you guys doing?!” One of the busjackers shouted and thus had Jodie retreat.

“Jodie-sensei, please don’t provoke them.” Araide admonished Jodie.

“Oh yes!” She smiled at the doctor and sat down. “Let’s talk later…” She whispered to Conan. Chiyuki stared at her intently as the woman observed Ai until Jodie finally turned back to face the front. Then she continued watching the back of her head, wishing she’d know what Jodie was thinking. Chiyuki knew that Jodie wouldn’t put together Ai being connected with Shiho until way later. Was it Four Porches case or something? But all the same Chiyuki knew that the woman’s curiosity was piqued now.

“I just noticed… You don’t really seem worried, do you?” Conan spoke to Chiyuki then, snapping her back to focus. The girl blinked back.

“No… Not really…” Chiyuki shrugged.

“Why?” The small detective frowned.

“Because I’m sure you’ll solve this. Just like you solve those murders. I’m a Harumori. We have faith in people.” Nabiki had had faith in Akemi, all the way until her death. Chiyuki had faith in her friends, including Detective Boys.

“Harumori?”

“My legal name. Be sure to use that outside school.” Chiyuki smiled. And her smile widened when she saw Conan’s eyes wander past her, at the window. He saw the balloon!

It was showtime!


 

The busjackers ordered Araide and Akai to come to the front. The bus drove to the tunnel. Conan explained his plan for the Detective Boys.

“What about me, Edogawa-kun?” Chiyuki leant past Ai. The boy frowned for a moment.

“You do magic tricks, right?”

“Some.”

“How quick are your fingers?”

“Quite quick.”

“Can you get the woman’s watch without triggering it?”

“Can’t guarantee anything but I’ll try.”

“Good.”

Chiyuki let go of Ai’s hand. It was disconcerting how easily she was let go. No reassuring squeezes. No desperate attempt to stop her. Nothing.

In the dark it was easy to move without the busjackers seeing. Moreover, they were more focused on adults than children. Mitsuhiko and Genta moved to the gaps between the seats to secure one of the skibags. Agasa and Conan lifted the other ski bag to be horizontal and Conan wrote the backwards letters on it with the lipstick he got from Jodie. Ayumi suffled to the back seat to secure the old man with hearing aid. Chiyuki crawled beneath the seats so she was at the very front near the woman. She was keeping her arms aloft though in the pretense of tensing against her captor.

The bus drove out of the tunnel.

“OK! DRIVE FASTER!” The thug but smarter of the busjackers commanded the driver. “Don’t try anything funny. As long as you do as I say, you’ll go home alive…”

“You’re one to talk… You intend to kill us anyway…” Conan spoke up then.

“What?!” The thin hotheaded one growled.

“See, that’s the reason you’re showing us your faces, right? If we don’t do something, we’re going to be killed… By this bomb!” Cue shock among the passengers.

“I’ll make this brat shut up!” The thin one shouted. Oh, was that a bulging vein on his forehead?

“Oi, you idiot, don’t shoot!” The smart one retorted.

“Hn? What’s that read writing?”

“NOW!” Conan yelled.

It took maybe a few precious seconds to happen but the driver did make an emergency brake. The three busjackers fell to the floor. Conan and Chiyuki both darted forwards. The smart one was tranquilized in short order.

“Araide-sensei! Get a hold of that woman’s arm!” Conan told the doctor. “The watch on her wrist is the switch for the bombs!” Okay, it was canon and opportunity presented itself but… rude.

“Little brat, you made a fool of us…” The thin one growled, pointing a gun at Conan. But Jodie was there to take him down.

“Oh sorry! I lost my balance when the driver slammed on the breaks…” She lied – badly.

“Stop kidding around!” The man pointed the gun at Jodie but no matter how many times he tried to pull the trigger, nothing happened. “O-Oi… The trigger…”

“How silly… Lifting the hammer of a Tokarev slightly and twisting midway activates the safety, you know? Study that before hijacking busses…”

“W-What? W-Who the hell are you?”

“Shh… It’s a big secret. I’m sorry, I can’t tell you. A secret makes a woman woman.” The secretly FBI agent replied in English. It was doubtful the busjacker understood her. “Oh, you surrendered!”

“Araide-sensei, Edogawa-kun asked me to get that woman’s watch.” Chiyuki told the man. Right then the woman looked at the watch herself.

“A-Ah! Gotta run, get away asap… I must’ve hit the watch when we stopped the bus. The bomb’s been activated! We have less then 30 seconds before it blows!”

It got everyone moving. Passengers rushed out in no way orderly manner as soon as the driver got the doors open.

And Chiyuki was in their way. Someone stumbled over her and sent her to the floor. But then someone else lifted her up and carried her out.

“…” Chiyuki looked at her savior. “Araide-sensei?”

“Not now, Harumori-san.” The man hurried on, away from the bus. For a moment Chiyuki forgot that it was Vermouth actually and just watched over the man’s shoulder as Conan hurried back to the bus. Her heart sank. Ai had remained in there after all.

Why? Just… why?

Wasn’t Chiyuki enough for her to stay?

Or was the fear so overwhelming that she rather disappeared without a trace so Chiyuki could be free?

A bundled figure flew through the bus’s back window. The bus blew up. Araide halted to a stop. Everyone stopped.

But then the police were there. Takagi took the Detective Boys and Agasa to the hospital, the busjackers were arrested, the passengers gathered together. Araide let Chiyuki down.

“Thank you for saving me, Araide-sensei” She told the man sincerely.

“Stampedes can be very dangerous as well.” The man told her and gave her a handkerchief to use wipe her scraped hands. Chiyuki nodded seriously, taking the piece of cloth and dabbing on the sluggishly bleeding wounds. There had been some gravel on the floor of the bus. Araide headed to go to check Edogawa-kun. She trailed behind. Aside from Conan and Araide, there was no one else Chiyuki knew around. Better to just stick with them.

“You’re hurt all over. Are you going to be okay?” Jodie was asking the little detective.

“Yeah, I’ll be okay!” He chirped back. then Araide grabbed his hurt arm. “Ouch…”

“Thought as much! You’ve got a big wound here! You’re so reckless!” The doctor scolded the boy.

“A-Araide-sensei…”

“First, you have to get that checked out before the police questioning, alright?”

“Ah, yeah…”

“Edogawa-kun! You’re okay!” Chiyuki hurried towards the boy.

“Ah… Moro-…” Conan began but was interrupted Chiyuki slapped her palms on his cheeks.

“How could you be so reckless! I saw you running in there!” She alternatively squeezed and pulled the chibi detective’s cheeks. “I was so worried! I… I…”

Chiyuki let out a sob.

“A-Arigatou…” She whispered. Thank you for surviving. Thank you for saving Ai.

And then she was bawling against the front of Conan’s jacket.


 

The police called Nabiki in. They called the Mouri Detective Agency as well. While waiting – and dreading – for their guardians to arrive in a separate room from other passengers.

“Why Harumori?” Conan asked her.

“Why not?” Chiyuki countered.

“Okay, let me rephrase. Why so strictly Harumori that you even stopped me from calling you Moroboshi before?”

“Because it’s dangerous.”

“Huh?”

“You know who mama was. When I was born I was legally Harumori because that was the name mama used when giving birth to me so I wouldn’t be found.” Chiyuki explained quietly. “Papa… Papa was part of the organization too. But he was a mole. So using his name is dangerous. School is a closed environment so it’s okay there. The only way I can honor him. But everywhere else I’m Harumori. It’s my real name after all.”

“I see. Good to know, Harumori-san.”

“Thank you for understanding.”

“Think nothing of it.” True, given that Conan was an alias as well.


 

Nabiki was not impressed. But she didn’t hold against Chiyuki. She did tell her though that there would not be trips any time soon. That Chiyuki would need to calm down from her experiences properly before going again out there… anywhere really.

Chiyuki gathered that Nabiki had realized that Detective Boys ran into crimes way too frequently and were become desensitized to them. And addicted to adrenaline. So the woman had decided to keep Chiyuki away from them so Chiyuki wouldn’t start thinking crimes in Beika as something normal and everyday occurrence.

Chiyuki didn’t mind. It had been a while since she had had a good game night with Ayano, Kaito and Toshiya.

And given that the next cases the detective boy’s ran into where a dog-napping, someone wanting to kill Genta and an actual murder, Chiyuki was glad to have kept her distance.

She kept frequent contact with Ai despite that but had declined some invitations from the kids.

Until the Animal Show, that was.

Chapter Text

Chiyuki loved animals. Watching nature documentaries was her favorite past time and she often pestered Nabiki to find some with original narrating but Japanese texts. Or then Japanese narrator but the scientists and zoologists speaking onscreen left undubbed. Refreshing her English skills was important and it was a fact that hearing languages helped learning them and thus could explain Chiyuki’s knowledge of English in the future if needed.

So when Ayumi invited Chiyuki and Ayano to Paul and Annie’s Animal Show, she agreed and pestered Nabiki to agree as well.

Nabiki did. Chiyuki was officially not grounded anymore.

(Not that she really had considered having been grounded at all. Nabiki was just worried.)


 

The first thing Chiyuki did with Ai and Ayumi once they arrived at the venue, was to check out the little stalls set inside. The boys and Agasa were taking last minute bathroom break and buying snacks for them all to share.

All three girls bought Leon the White Lion straps. Chiyuki planned on attaching her strap to her keys. She also bought a panda phone accessory with the same text tag attached for the event she had her own phone.

The show itself was wonderful. Mitsuhiko and Genta might’ve liked Leon best but personally Chiyuki liked parrots. They were walking on line, riding a bicycle and doing other tricks.

The show itself was spent by admiring and gasping in awe at the performances and thus it was after it that the gathered children got to gush over it to each other. Chiyuki was clutching one of the disposable cameras she’d brought with her in her hands. She had filled two entire rolls of film in then and halfway the third and couldn’t wait to have the photos developed

“That was so fun!” Genta exclaimed when they were making their way out of the building.

“The animals were so cute!” Ayumi chimed in.

“The white lion’s performance was amazing!” Mitsuhiko added.

“Because lions are the main feature of these shows.” Agasa agreed.

“They even have these Leon straps!” Ayumi showed her souvenir.

“That’s neat!” Mitsuhiko admired.

“I bought it in the store with Haibara-san and Moroboshi-san before the show! Right?”

“Ano… Yoshida-san… If you want to… You can call me Chiyuki.” Chiyuki cut in. Because there was no way she could explain these kids why she used a different family name outside the school without revealing too much. So having them call her by her name was the only alternative.

“Really? I can call you Chiyuki-chan?” Ayumi beamed.

“Hai! And the same goes for Kojima-kun and Tsuburaya-kun!” Chiyuki chirped, heedless of the two stares at her back.

“Arigatou gozaimasu, Chiyuki-san!” Mitsuhiko thanked the girl.

“That’s awesome, Chiyuki!” Genta exclaimed. Chiyuki tried to keep her face neutral and calmly smiling. Despite the permission, it would take a while until she’d get used to such directness from them. But thankfully the appearance of James Black among the reporters distracted the kids from her.

“Are you sure you don’t mind being so familiar with them?” Ai asked her quietly.

“It’s okay. I can ask change of address again once we are older.” Chiyuki shrugged and then glanced at between Black and the picture of Randy Hawk on the pamphlet. They didn’t look that much alike… or maybe that was Chiyuki former western eyes discerning the situation plus her foreknowledge coloring the situation.

“Can’t you give me a break!?” Black finally exclaimed in frustration.

“Oh my… The tough cowboy image is ruined…” Agasa commented.

“Sheesh. Praise will make him vain…” Ai continued. “I have to live my life in hiding, and I can’t even have bodyguards but I brought that upon myself.”

“Meh… he doesn’t seem like a hawk to me… more like an eagle.” Chiyuki stated, lifting her camera and snapping a picture of the scene. “Cornered by vultures…”

“Oh, well… Rather than blabbering, let’s go help him, shall we?” Conan spoke up. “The man confined by bulls… That cowboy sent by Her Majesty the Queen.”

Chiyuki snapped some other pictures as Conan stepped forward.

“Oh! There you are! Thomas-ojisan!” The shrunken sleuth called.

“Eh?”

“Thomas? This person isn’t Hawk-san?” One of the reporters asked.

“Yes… That person over there is an English teacher who is ojiichan’s friend.” Ai pointed at Agasa.

“There! Let’s go, Thomas-ojichan!” Ayumi continued.

“We’ve agreed to have lunch together, no?” Mitsuhiko added as Genta pulled the dumbfounded man’s arm.

Chiyuki snapped a couple of pictures more.


 

“Thank you very much! You kids got me out of the pinch I was in!” James Black thanked them as they walked towards parking lots. “I’ve been told many times that I look like Hawk-san, but this is the first time that I’ve been mistaken as him!”

“Then you should’ve disguised, man…” Genta retorted.

“Do you like the Paul & Annie’s Animal Show as well?” Mitsuhiko asked.

Oh yes! Their show is superb! And, also… I wanted to get my hands on this! ♥” Black showed the same lion strap that the girls had bought as well. “That’s why I came to Japan!”

Chiyuki snapped a picture of the man’s happy face and the lion strap. Hmm… seven photos left on the roll.

The conversation in the other hand rolled from the lion strap to Conan’s recognition of Black not being Hawk. And thus the boy explained the British pronunciation in the man’s English.

“What about you, Chi-chan?” Ai asked Chiyuki. “How did you know? You did call him an eagle and not a hawk.”

“They look totally different.” Chiyuki deadpanned.

“They are similar though if you compare him to the photo of the pamphlet.” Conan retorted.

“No, they don’t.” The girl frowned back. “Hawk-san had thicker neck, wider face and broader shoulders. His moustaches are different sort of blonde too. Not to mention that Hawk-san has a butt chin.”

“A butt chin?” Ayumi asked. Around adults and shrunken teens were sweat dropping.

“Yeah.” Chiyuki lifted her hand on her face and pressed her forefinger in the middle of her chin and then squeezed on the sides with her thumb and middle finger. “A butt chin, see?”

Cue laughter from the kids.

“Not everyone pays that much attention to faces, Harumori.” Conan stated then. “For most Japanese, like the reporters just now, it’s easy to make the mix up. Just like how foreigners have it hard telling Japanese faces apart, the Japanese mistake foreigners just because their hair of skin color is similar.”

“Oh! How perceptive of you!” Black complimented the boy. Well, Chiyuki had no intention of stealing his thunder. “My name is James Black. What’s yours?”

“Edogawa Conan. A detective!” Conan introduced himself.

“Edogawa… Conan?”

“Conan isn’t the only detective!” Genta joined in.

“We’re also members of Shounen Tantei-dan!” Mitsuhiko explained. Ayumi showed their badge to the man.

“Hm? Oh~! Sherlock Holmes! So, you guys are the Baker Street Irregulars, then?” Black asked. Chiyuki snapped a photo of the Detective Boys with the man and the badge in the middle of the photo. She was a ninja, no one noticed her photo taking.

“Huh?”

“They’re the kids Holmes used to gather information!” Conan explained.

“I was born on Baker Street! Since I met you Irregulars, I’ll give you a present! I’ll treat you to lunch at a great store I know!” Black told the kids.

“Whoah! ♥”

There was some exchange over whose car to use and Conan’s deduction over Black not living in Britain anymore. Which led to Black mentioning Chicago and Al Capone.

A bit random…

“Ah, I gotta stop by the store…” Chiyuki rummaged her small backpack. “I forgot to pack paper handkerchiefs.”

It was the flu season and her nose had been runny lately.

“There was some combini close to parking lot.” Ai advised. “Be quick.”

“Sure! See ya soon, Ai-neechan!” Chiyuki jogged onwards, tracking the route Black had taken. Call her weird or any other names but she wanted to take a photo of the kidnapping situation in order to have clear chronology on her blackmail photos.


 

And thus Chiyuki bore witness to the kidnapping of James Black. Two more photos were taken. The kidnappers’ faces were seen clearly and their actions telegraphed, including the gun and kick.

As the car drove away, Chiyuki stood up and left. She had a convenience store to visit before returning to the kids. She really needed those handkerchiefs as well as new disposable camera.


 

They were still waiting for Black. And once 40 minutes had gone past since the man’s departure, the kids decided to investigate. Black’s van was easy to find and some local kids pointed them to the direction the fake policemen had taken the man. Conan discovered the lion strap, stained in blood.

While Chiyuki could’ve told them what she’d seen, she decided to remain quiet. It was important for this case to go as canon in order for Conan to be suspicious of Black and Akai and Black be impressed by Conan’s intelligence. Moreover, Chiyuki didn’t want to be scolded for following weird men and putting herself in danger. Not to mention the awkward question of as to why she’d followed Black.

Thus even when they went to inform the police at the local police box, she didn’t speak up about her photo evidence even when the two cops made fun of Detective Boys. Well, at least the kids got information about the radio interview going live, cluing them on the urgency of the situation. But even when they presented the strap as an evidence, the two officers remained skeptical and amused. So they only took the strap as evidence to it to be tested whether or not it was real blood in it.

“They are indulging us.” Chiyuki muttered. While it was true than the blood had dried and turned rusty brown already, it was still annoying how… disinclined to help they were.

“If only we knew what ‘P & A’ meant…” Conan pondered aloud.

“P and A make ‘PA’, but…” Agasa said.

“Is it a store with ‘PA’ in its name?” Ayumi asked. “Like bakery [panya] or something similar!”

“No…” Conan rebutted. “If he was driven by necessity and wanted to tell us ‘PA’ then he would’ve put his blood on the ‘PA’ on ‘Paul’. We should split the code in half and think about it…”

And thus the children started thinking. Chiyuki joined in that too even if she knew the code should be considered as one whole.

“P and A… P and A…”

“Pink and red [akairo]…”

“Wrestling [puroresu] and beanpaste [anman]…”

“PC and access…”

“Pistol and assassin…”

“Parrot and red panda [akai panda]…” Well, those were in Chiyuki’s mind currently. And… apparently Conan didn’t hear her as he got stuck with Ai’s first thoughts.

“Ah, maybe is means ‘Parking Area’!” Mitsuhiko realized.

“Oh, parking!” Agasa was on board.

“But we don’t know which parking area!” Genta retorted.

“Maybe it means that he left another clue where he parked his car!”

“Yeah, I thought the same thing at first, so I checked the car-park again, but found nothing…” Conan added. “Alright, let’s split up and ask if anyone’s seen a couple of guys and a foreigner around! If you figure something out, contact me with the detective badge!”

And then Ayumi noticed her missing badge and Conan realized they could track Black through that. The faux-child finally called the police who knew him and would actually act on the information given by him.


 

Conan sent Agasa to get his car. Chiyuki swapped cameras. The previous one’s last roll had come full when she’d taken photo of Conan making the call.

She listened with half-ear Ai’s suspicions about Black. Rest of her attention was on the passing cars and…

Snap!

“Hello, father. I really don’t need you to my life.” Chiyuki thought idly but then went to calm down Ai who’d been spooked by Akai’s still lingering BO scent.

“Are you okay, Ai-neechan?”

“J-Just fine. Don’t worry about it, Chi-chan.”

“…okay.” Did Ai not want to worry Chiyuki or did she not trust her enough to actually tell her worries? Granted, Ai thought Chiyuki as a genuine child so she probably took to herself not telling things her because of that… But it was still… Chiyuki felt so useless.


 

Agasa arrived with his beetle and they drove to meet up with Yumi who was at a road blockade and thus should’ve spotted Black in one of the cars heading out of Tokyo.

“There was no foreigner…” The policewoman told them though.

“What does that mean, Conan-kun?” Ayumi asked.

“Where is the car at?” Mitsuhiko continued.

“It’s still on the move, 8 kilometers from here but I’m about to run out of battery.” Conan replied.

“So the culprits must have a way to not rouse attention.” Chiyuki concluded. “Someway to get past the inspection by looking completely normal despite the unusual situation.”

“If he’s got the badge on him, then let’s ask him where he is!” Genta suggested.

“That won’t do… the ringtone would make the culprits notice it and our only clue would be crushed.” Ai countered.

“So we’ll have to solve the ‘P & A’ clue…” Agasa stated. Yes, they were indeed back in square one. And Chiyuki couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the suggestions while taking two more pictures.

“Edogawa-kun…” She spoke up then. Sorry to steal Ayumi’s chance to give a hint but this had gone on long enough. “I’ve been thinking for a while but… Could the clue mean ‘panda’?”

“That’s…” Conan blinked at her. “That’s indeed it! Well done, Harumori-san! I got it now. I know where James Black is!”

“Great to hear.” Chiyuki smiled, lifting the camera to capture Conan’s smug smile. It was time to explain his deduction and hatch a plan in order to save Black. Chiyuki had her camera ready. This would be a nice investigation scrapbook.


 

Detectives Satou and Takagi arrived and to them Conan explained about patrol cars and the fact that they were first introduced in England and called there ‘panda cars’.

“Speaking of which, I let one patrol car pass without checking…” Yumi remembered. “But there was no foreigner…”

“Did the officers inside look suspicious?” Ai asked.

“No… two officers were sitting in the back with the suspect, who had coat over him, sat in between them… Aaaaahhh!”

Bingo.

Time for chase.


 

Chiyuki sat happily on the back seat of Agasa’s beatle. She had the middle seat and thus is was a bit though fit as there was five of them aboard. Genta was thankfully on the front seat. Conan was listening through a detective badge planted in Satou’s car the conversation Satou and Takagi had about the suspects and very likely situation that they were armed.

“There’s a way to do that!” Conan cut in the conversation.

“C-Conan-kun!?”

“A badge!?”

“Sorry! I secretly placed it there a while ago!”

“Where are you now?”

“About 500 meters behind your car! Hey, what will you do? I’ve got a plan in mind but will you try it out?” The boy asked. “Well, for this stupid plan to succeed, we’ll need many other officers to take part.”

About fifteen minutes later, Conan got the okay to start their part of the plan. Chiyuki snapped a photo of the kids cheering excitedly at the prospect of acting out a kidnapping scheme and thus lead fake cops to a trap.


 

Agasa sped by the car of the fake cops. Satou’s car tagged behind them, sirens ringing. Genta, Mitsuhiko and Ayumi put a good show for the fakers. Chiyuki giggled kiddily as she listened them.

“Well? Is it working?” Ai asked Conan.

“It’s ok! It’s going fine!” The boy reassured her, covering her from the view as Akai’s car slowed past them. “You don’t have to worry…”

Chiyuki twisted around in he seat and trained her camera through the back window at the fakers’ car. It wasn’t the best angle and view especially with as shitty camera as she had but… she made do.

And thus she managed to witness the group of police cars surrounding the fake patrol car and then brake in synchronization.

“They got them!” Chiyuki exclaimed. “Let’s turn back!”

She really wanted to photo the conclusion of the case before Black slipped away.


 

She did get her photo. Photo of Black walking away after the culprits had been arrested (Chiyuki had a photo of the arrest as well). Then she took a photo of Black getting into Akai’ car but then she had to hurry back to Ai, before she noticed Chiyuki had wandered off.

Ai and Conan were dissecting Black’s name and possible references as the man had struck to them as odd and suspicious.

“I really hope that okaa-san won’t be mad at me for getting involved in yet another case…” Chiyuki stated aloud, pouting.

“Ah… I’m sure she’ll understand. Besides we were in no direct danger.” Ai comforted her.

“Maybe you are right…”

“Alright, children! Time to go!” Agasa called to them. Ah, yes… they needed to go a give statements at the police station about this case.

“Coming!”


 

James got on Akai’s car after being released from the kidnappers. There was a flash of something behind him but when he turned to look around, there was nothing to be seen. Curious…

“As expected…” Akai mused aloud once they were on the road. “Being able to make such a code immediately. When did you notice? That they were fake cops…”

“When they addressed me in Japanese.” James replied, removing his glasses in order to clean them. “If they were policemen and knew I was a foreigner who could speak Japanese, they would’ve asked for my name first… So that’s how I knew that they were fishy guys, pretending not to know who I was. Well, it seems they mistook me for someone else.”

Amusing how such mix up had happened twice in the same day by two completely different groups of people. And interesting how on both times it had been the same kids bailing him out.

“But I’m surprised, you ended up cutting your hair.”

“It’s a renewal since my lover dumped me.” Akai smirked.

“And? You bothered to call me so… think you’ll be able to get back together with them?” There was a lot of unsaid context in the conversation. James was very aware of the death of Miyano Akemi and that Akai now had Gin in his sights. Oh dear, his subordinates, such vendettas they both had. First with Jodie and Vermouth and now Akai and Gin. James could only hope that they’d remember caution as well. But that was why he was here. He’d give operational support and oversight to them while being ready to pull them back if needed.

“Yes… I’ll make them regret it. And shall shed bloody tears due to it.” Moment of tension occurred before it vanished. “By the way… did you get a good look on that girl with the camera?”

“Not exactly… She was fairly smart and good at telling differences between faces but she was largely overshadowed by the young Holmes.” Why was Akai curious about her? Had some new information come up? Jodie had already informed them about Edogawa boy and Vermouth’s nickname to him even if meeting the boy himself had been a coincidence.

“She is the girl Vermouth rescued from the bus. Though initially it was possible for her to save the girl simply in order to keep up the façade, Jodie went through her evidence and discovered another photo from Vermouth’s target board.”

“Oh?”

“Aside from ‘Angel’, ‘Cool Guy’ and ‘Sherry’, there was a photo of that girl. She is named ‘Star’ in it.”

“Any indication as to what the girl’s name is then?”

“Harumori. But when Jodie went through Teitan elementary’s records, there was no Harumori listed as a student.”

“So you think she could be a plant.”

“She was aiming a camera at you when you came here. And I bet she took a photo of me when I drove past the kids.”

“This is worrying… We don’t know what she is planning with Edogawa-kun and Harumori-kun yet it’s obvious she is going to lengths in order to gain their trust.”

“Unless they already work actively with her. The boy is already wary of me and was on the scene of Akemi’s death. He is cozy with numerous police officers and regarding Sleeping Kogorou’s reputation, has been on numerous crime scenes.”

“While the girl takes directions from him and discreetly observes everyone around them.”

“She was aiming for the watch of one of the busjackers during the boy’s plan. The watch which turned out to be trigger to the bombs.”

This was worrying… Worrying indeed. Especially when they didn’t know how widespread the prospect of organization using children as young as first graders as agents was. Hopefully it was only limited to Vermouth and those two. The other four children hadn’t seemed suspicious though one of them did resemble the assumed target of the woman, ‘Sherry’.

“Let’s focus on Vermouth’s role as Araide and keep those two in mind in the case we see some interactions between her and the children.” Black decided. And considering that Araide was the school nurse for both Teitan elementary and high, the likelihood that there would be future interactions was considerable.