He wasn't aging.
No one was.
Years had passed, according to the number of New Year's celebrations he could recall having with the Mouris if he thought about it. He'd gone through the files, checked the pictures to be absolutely sure. Checked previous case files, because there had to be something he was missing, something that would make more sense.
Sleeping Kogoro had been solving cases for- according to the dates written in the files, which he remembered if he really focused- over two decades now.
But he hadn't physically aged, and neither had anyone else. He still attended elementary school. Ran was still in high school. Despite over 20 birthdays, Conan Edogawa never turned 8. Shinichi Kudo never turned 18. He'd almost be worried it was some side effect of the antidote if it weren't clearly true of the entire world.
The idea was unfathomable- though progress marched on and the calendar itself changed, time had somehow stopped having any meaningful effect. He hated to entertain such a blatantly science fiction concept as a "time loop", but there was simply no other explanation he could think of.
At a certain point, continuing to deny it would be going against Holmes' very principles… even if Holmes never had to deal with living as an elementary schooler for longer than he'd been a teenager.
So… after pages and pages of his notebook filled with any evidence he could think to check for, and even his own memories, he had to accept it. No matter how much he wanted to find something that felt logical and didn't give him a headache to think about for too long at a time.
Something had altered the passage of time itself, and as far as he knew, he was the only one who had noticed it.
That was established. Rather definitively. He had to stop questioning that, and start looking into the frankly more important part- how? While he hadn't even believed such a thing was possible a month ago, it was now staring him in the face. And, considering how long it had already gone on, it was going to continue unless he could do something about it. He wasn't a believer in the supernatural, but he was a detective. This was just another case, like the murders he was always stumbling into.
(Was that why they felt so frequent? His memory, trying to loosely set them all on the timeline of a single year, resulting in well over twice as many murders as there are days?)
(... Well, even 20+ years of detective work was frankly a small number for the sheer amount of death he'd seen, but the apparent time loop likely wasn't helping.)
The question was simply where to start.
Ignoring the lesson- which, now that he was aware, was one he clearly remembered going through several times before- he started with creating a basic timeline for the case. Assuming the effect of this "time loop" (for frustrating lack of a better term) on memories was limited to making people gloss over inconsistencies from the time loop, and it couldn't create new memories entirely, then any time he could recall progressing or aging was safe.
… Though that admittedly wasn't something he'd paid much attention to once he'd stopped having major growth spurts (and was taller than Ran and Sonoko). Certainly he'd done it plenty after becoming Conan, but as Ran hadn't gotten any older, and it was temporary anyway, that didn't mean much. It had to have been sometime after the start of the school year when he was Shinichi, because otherwise Ran would have gone up a grade since.
That gave him a time frame to work within. It had to be in the months between the start of the school year and when he'd gotten turned into Conan. Roughly, either the late spring or summer of that year. This year. Whatever difference there was anymore.
Obviously, he'd have to scour news records for anything notable that happened around then. Maybe ask Dr. Agasa what he thought of the situation… Haibara, too, in case this was tied to the Organization in some other way. Hattori'd never forgive him if he left him out of anything this big, and another set of eyes looking into that time period would be helpful. If it came to it, he could begrudgingly ask his parents to look into any US sources he wouldn't have access to, because this was apparently worldwide- time hadn't suddenly caught up when they went to London, for instance- and possibly look into other contacts, but hopefully it wouldn't take that long to track down some leads. He couldn't imagine the sort of event that caused a time loop flying completely under the radar.
"Hey, you're not hiding a case from us, are you?"
Genta's voice snaps his mind back into the classroom, where he could see the other kids had started leaving. Ah. He'd missed the bell.
"You've been jotting things down in your detective notebook all day," Mitsuhiko agrees. All three Detective Boys were giving him suspicious looks, and even Haibara was watching him.
He snaps his notebook shut and quickly starts packing up. There was no point in dragging them into this, both because the existential questions would be a bit much for them and because they likely wouldn't be able to help much anyway. "Nah, just trying to figure out the trick in this mystery novel I was reading yesterday."
"It's really making you think that much?" Ayumi asks, her genuine surprise ringing in his ears.
He swallows his pride. It'd be worth it in the long run. "Yeah, I think I might just be missing one of the crucial clues. I'm going straight home to read further into the story, so we'll have to hang out another time, okay?"
He ducks out of the room in an attempt to avoid the worst of their disappointment, but he still overhears their complaints as he all but runs to the front of the school. Haibara was definitely going to question him later, but he was going to catch her up on everything later anyway.
First- calling Hattori.
"Kudo!" He'd picked up the phone on the first ring. Sometimes it still surprised him how enthusiastic Hattori always was to talk to him, but he couldn't say it wasn't nice. "Ya just get out of class?"
"Yeah, and I think I've managed to find a case even weirder than the one I'm currently stuck on."
"That even possible?"
"I started to notice it a month ago, but it took me that long to convince myself it was even a case at all."
"Damn. Should I come ta Tokyo?"
"It's not confidential or anything, so I don't have a problem giving you the details over the phone. I don't think anyone would actually believe me, anyway."
"Well, I don't think I woulda believed some of the other stuff you've gotten into until I met ya, either."
"Hattori, we've all been the same age for over twenty years."
There’s complete silence on the line for a moment, which was nigh impossible in a call with Hattori. And yet, somehow, it still seemed too short after what he'd just said.
"Ya… sure about that, Kudo? Not that that sounds anythin’ like the kinda joke you'd make- though, hey, yer sense of humor's pretty weird sometimes."
"Like I said, I've spent a month confirming this before going to anyone about this, and you're the first. Think about it- really think- what year did we meet?"
"Ah, this year, right? That a trick question?"
"What year did you show up in the Mouri Detective Agency looking for Shinichi Kudo?"
"Earlier this year, so it should be… ah…" Hattori's end goes silent again for a moment. "It couldn'ta been this year. I covered fer ya at that out-a-season Halloween party. Last year? But it was-"
"You keep records of the cases you've worked on, right? Or they have them at the police station? Because according to the files at the Mouri agency, that diplomat was murdered in 1996."
"But we- we're still seventeen, Kudo-"
"Conan Edogawa has had more birthday parties than I can count on both my hands. And yet you're right- we're still seventeen."
Hattori's voice takes on a grim quality usually reserved for announcing a body has no pulse. "So yer sayin' no one has aged… or gone up a grade 'n school, or anything… since 1996."
Conan doesn't bother responding; the tone shift was more than enough to prove Hattori was taking him seriously.
"We really are stuck in some kinda… time loop or whatever, aren't we? How the hell does somethin' like that happen?!"
"That's why I called you first. I'm trying to answer that question."
Hattori sighs, that deep "this case is going to be a long one" sigh, and he hears a shuffling that he assumes to be Hattori preparing to take notes. "So what's the plan?"
After recapping his best friend on what he'd figured out so far, and who he'd planned to talk to next, Hattori agrees to look into whatever he had at his disposal, and text about any other avenues that might come to mind. Once they'd hung up, Conan figures it should be long enough after school's end for him to head to Dr. Agasa's without risking the Detective Boys seeing him.
The Professor, of course, lets him in with no question. Haibara, who’s sitting on the couch, is another story. "What's the case you've carelessly mixed yourself into this time, Kudo-kun?"
"I'd say we've all been brought into this one against our will, actually. I was hoping maybe one or both of you would have some lead I could look into, but just so we're clear- as someone who made a poison that can shrink people, Haibara, you can't call me crazy no matter how it sounds."
That, at least, got her to put her book down and properly look at him.
He ran through everything much the same as he had for Hattori, and by the end both the Professor and Haibara were giving him appropriately wide-eyed looks. While adjusting to this information had been a lot at first, it was gratifying to know others took the information about as well as he had.
"I can't say I've heard of anyone I know working on anything like time travel…" Dr. Agasa mutters, visibly trying to think back through the years. "Though knowing now that something has managed it, I wonder if I could-"
"Please, Professor, let's-" he takes a deep breath- "try not to do any further damage to… whatever's going on with time, at least until we know what it is?"
"I can try to figure out if I can put together anything that might be able to counter or fix it," he amends after a moment.
"I hoped finding the cause would make the solution obvious, but I guess that wouldn't hurt. Haibara?"
"I don't think I heard anything about a project like that on the Organization's end, either. They do tend to have several projects at once, though, so I may have just been too busy with the apoptoxin at the time. I wasn't informed on what other branches were up to, either."
Conan frowned. "So we can't rule them out for certain, then… and if it is them, our chances of figuring this are about as good as our chances of a permanent antidote until we can take them down for good."
"Perhaps this 'loop' is for the best," Haibara replies, having fallen back into her usual aloof demeanor. When he gives her an incredulous look, she clarifies: "You're not falling behind in school."
The or behind Ran went unsaid. Vague memories of that dream of a future where Shinichi never came back swirled in the back of his mind. "... I guess you're right it's not all negative. I'd still like to figure out what caused it as soon as possible."
"Apparently, 'soon' is entirely relative now."
"That’s not helping."
She sighs, as if what she’s about to say is a huge favor she’s deigning to offer for him. "Then I suppose I'll assist the Professor, and let you know if I recall anything that might be related to them."
With that settled, Conan finally went on to the library, and began the dull but unfortunately necessary task of combing through the news archives.
(The frequent articles about his own cases- as Shinichi, of course- from back then did nothing to make the research more pleasant. If anything, it was salt in the wound.)
It was hard to say what could constitute an event that would cause a time loop, and a small part of his brain was kicking himself for not reading more science fiction. Not that that could even be expected to be accurate, but then, he hadn't thought it possible in the first place, so at this point he was willing to give any theory some consideration. Still, process of elimination wouldn't completely fail him- it was unlikely a death caused it, considering how many of those occurred, though it could have been something behind the scenes in a case. Bank robberies, muggings, and other crimes along that line felt similarly mundane. He was hoping whatever could cause something like this would appear as an anomaly, rather than one of the unfortunately common occurrences of daily life around him.
At least with how frequent violent crime was in Beika, ruling those out meant he could skim through a lot of articles. He kept an eye out for strange details, but- he remembered these cases. He was rather proud of his ability to close things neatly. If something were out of place, he wouldn't have let it be.
In the end, there isn't much that stood out, which leaves him uneasy. There were some unusual things, but they didn't seem big or strange enough to be able to lead to something this… borderline supernatural.
Still, there was one in particular he felt drawn to, though it was just a vague feeling. Intuition, he'd call it, if he ended up being right about it. A moonstone had gone missing near Ekoda about a month after the semester started, which was apparently newsworthy enough to show up in Beika’s own newspapers as well. It didn’t seem quite like the type KID would usually steal- there wasn’t any kind of calling card found, anyway- and searching for other articles about it, the Anesidora Moonstone didn’t come up again, not even in an update about a search for it. It was as if it had vanished altogether, not just from its display.
Gemstones were often said to have magic powers (though just because he was believing in time loops doesn’t mean he was going to jump right off the deep end into believing everything. He’d just try to be… a bit less dismissive now), and the lack of any sort of followup or resolution did have him intrigued.
He sends a quick text to Hattori to update him on the results of his research, then checks the time and realizes with a jolt that he’d have to take his skateboard back to the agency or risk Ran’s wrath for coming home too late.
"Sorry I'm late, Ran-neechan!" He calls, upon getting home. Home. He'd lived with the Mouris longer than he'd lived in his actual house, hadn't he? "I was doing research for a school project at the library."
Ran frowns at him from the kitchen. "Well, you're not too late for dinner, and it was for school, so I guess it's okay. Let me know next time, though!"
He nods, and they fall into the usual evening routine. While Ran finished cooking, he looked around the current news on his phone for a reason to go to Ekoda that he could use as a cover. He wasn't planning on explaining his concerns about a time loop to Ran (because honestly, while it was much less dangerous than the other secrets he was keeping from her, it'd been hard enough to wrap his own mind around it), but with a case that outwardly appeared over twenty years cold, he doubted he'd get anywhere investigating the Anesidora Moonstone without going to its former home in person and trying to ask around.
A museum exhibit opening in a week? That'd work. Even if it was going to mean a bit longer of a wait than he'd hoped… Haibara was right, at least for this case they seemed to have all the time in the world.
The idea came up as naturally as he could pretend to make it while they ate, and though Mouri protested at first, Ran's glare was always enough to convince anyone.
He passed the time impatiently, doing whatever research he could on the gemstone in question, texting Hattori about the case in between classes, and half-heartedly asking Haibara if she and the Professor were making any progress. Of course, there were murders to solve over the week, but those were so routine it'd be a bigger surprise if he didn't. A comment from Megure about death gods did get him absently wondering if others were at least subconsciously aware of how strangely frequent the time loop made the murders seem, but there was no way Conan could ask them about that even if he wanted to.
Finally, they were boarding the train that would take them to Ekoda.
They'd only been riding for a few minutes when Ran glances over at him, suspicion written all over her face. On instinct, he feels himself get nervous, eyes widening- but he hadn't even done anything this time to warrant that reaction! Did she find out he wasn't actually interested in the exhibit, somehow?
"A calling card from Kaito KID was just announced to the public," she says, carefully calm. "He's planning to steal the Crown's Carnelian at the exhibit you were so insistent we go see."
He tries to sound as genuine as possible, which shouldn't have been as hard as it was, because he was mostly telling the truth. "I had no idea, Ran-neechan! I was interested in the sculptures, I didn't even pay attention to the jewelry stuff." The sculptures were what he'd lied about reminding him of something in school for the excuse, after all.
"Well, I suppose you wouldn't have any way of knowing in advance…" She mutters, evidently still not completely satisfied.
"But I can still go to the heist, right?"
She narrows her eyes, and he almost wishes he hadn't asked. Still, better to rip the band-aid off now, because he was going to go, if it meant a chance to talk to someone who admittedly knew way more about gemstones than he did. And he'd rather have Ran's approval, if at all possible.
Her stare was starting to bore into him a little, but finally it seemed like he'd passed whatever test she was running, and she sighed. "I'm sure you'd go anyway. Just be careful, and come back to the agency right afterwards. Call me if anything happens, and listen to the officers there."
He nods vigorously, and looks up the riddle on his phone.
The exhibit ends up being about as interesting as he expected, though now he’s paying extra attention to the layout of the building and the security around the Crown’s Carnelian. Nakamori’s already on the scene, with some officers floating around, and Conan figures they’ll have formed the usual attempt at some kind of blockade by the evening. He’d hoped to stop by the building that the Anesidora Moonstone disappeared from after the obligatory trip to this museum with Ran, but now KID’s gone and thrown that off. Figures that the thief would manage to derail even plans he doesn’t know about.
Instead, he wanders around the museum until the announced time. About 10 minutes before it, Hakuba shows up, and seems only mildly surprised to see him.
“Edogawa-kun? You don’t normally come to heists in Ekoda.”
“I was coming to the exhibit anyway!” He chirps, easily falling into the usual act.
They discuss the theories on KID’s plan to pass the last bit of time, but unsurprisingly, his heart’s not really in the “catching KID” part of it this time. On top of that, he’s even running through possibilities to counter Hakuba’s own plans, because as bad as he was about this time loop thing, he’s pretty confident Hakuba will be even worse if he overhears any of it. Not to mention the fact that he was going to be talking to KID, who Conan had let off easy before in exchange for help, but Hakuba was way too uptight about the law to allow.
He’s not sure how much time he’ll even manage to get to talk to KID, but he needs every second of it he can get, and all the evidence says Hakuba is absolutely going to be an obstacle to that, given half a chance.
The lights cut out, and something starts happening, but Conan uses the darkness to get away from the task force and other detective.
The weather conditions were more than favorable for hang gliding, and that was by far KID’s favorite method of escape, so whether it ended up being the real KID flying off or just a decoy in the end, he was all but certain he’d encounter the thief on the roof for at least a moment.
(KID would also definitely notice Conan Edogawa’s disappearance when the lights turned back on, if he hadn’t seen him leaving to begin with, and he hoped that in and of itself would at least pique his interest.)
The roof’s mostly empty, although he does immediately spot something rigged to the side of the building- some kind of pulley?- though it’s painted black, and only stood out because he was actively looking. It appeared to be set up so something could make either a quick ascent or descent from the side of the building. Part of him wishes he’d been able to stick around to see how KID had stolen the gem this time, because he’d never admit it but the show was a bit entertaining.
Sure enough, after a minute or two a white cape shot up from where the pulley was set up, and KID easily landed on the roof. Conan didn’t make any attempt to hide, because that would have been counterproductive, and so the thief is already facing him.
“I need your help with something,” he starts, suddenly not really sure how to proceed with this conversation.
The thief holds an orange gem- presumably the Carnelian- up to the moon, and studies it for a moment before tucking it away somewhere. As always, the emotion of KID’s expression is unreadable, despite the teasing smirk that appears as he says, “I hope you don’t have something like the Bell Tree Express in mind again.”
“Luckily, no. Actually, I was wondering if you knew anything about the Anesidora Moonstone.”
Something in that sentence makes KID’s eyes widen ever so slightly for a split second, before his face returns to the usual mask. “The one that disappeared several months ago? I promise, tantei-kun, I’m not the one who stole it. Why the interest?”
“I’ve been looking into it. I think it might be tied to a case of mine.” One that you haven’t put together yourself, if you think it was only months ago, he doesn’t add. “Hence the question. I know you’re more knowledgeable about gemstones than I am.”
“So you’re asking for an expert’s opinion, not a thief’s?”
“Well, I suppose as the Moonlight Magician, I’d be remiss if I didn’t help you with what’s said to be a type of gemstone made of solidified moonlight. But it’s a little difficult to know what you’re looking for in particular if you don’t tell me.”
And there it is. But as much as he’s pieced together of the thief’s personality from their previous meetings… “I’m not sure you’ll believe me if I try to explain it. Frankly, I’m still surprised I believe it.”
“Try me.” KID’s demeanor shifts almost imperceptibly, and Conan gets the impression he’s genuinely interested in hearing this. Or, at least, as “genuine” as Kaito KID can be in anything.
He sighs, and goes for the same approach he did with Hattori, for lack of a better idea. “Do you recall when we first met?”
“When I stole the Black Star, yes. I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t.”
“But when we first met. The year it was when we boarded that cruise ship.”
KID’s trademark grin diminishes slightly. “It…” He trails off, and Conan’s not sure he’s ever seen the thief at a loss for words like this. “It couldn’t have been more than a few months ago. It was definitely before that moonstone went missing.”
“It was in 1997.”
He doesn’t look surprised as Conan says it, but he does sit down as if in a daze, and suddenly any hint of KID’s typical confidence is gone. It’s strange to see, especially because his face has remained as unreadable as ever, though now set in a completely neutral expression.
“I’m not sure how much more time we have before Hakuba gets up here, so we don’t really have time to let the implications sink in right now. I only convinced myself this is happening about a week ago myself, but I’ve been trying to figure out what could have caused this. As far as I can tell, time has still passed, but no one’s been affected by it-”
There’s footsteps coming up the stairs on the other side of the door to the roof. The thief’s immediately back on his feet, expression resetting, and he looks like Kaito KID again. He goes to press the button that’ll shift his cape into a hang glider.
“Wait, I still need-”
KID cuts him off again, kneeling down and putting a hand on his shoulder. “You should check your phone contacts.”
Conan knows what he did almost immediately, having been suspicious the moment the thief was down at his level. His phone didn’t spend that entire sentence in his pocket, though he can tell from the weight there now that it’s been returned, along with something else. “Fine.”
The door bursts open right after the hang glider takes off from the building, and Conan hands the Carnelian to Hakuba.
"He gave it to you this time, did he? Well, I suppose he's returned gems in even more irresponsible ways before."
He ignores the- probably unintentionally rude, without knowing he's more than a seven year old- implication from Hakuba that giving the gem to Conan was reckless. "I tried to slow him down, but I couldn't keep him very long. Sorry, Hakuba-niichan."
"You did your best, Edogawa-kun. Certainly better than any of the rest of us did tonight," he mutters, and Conan wonders what kind of trap KID had left for them this time. The dusting of golden glitter all over Hakuba is enough to convince him he was better off not seeing it in person.
"I promised I'd call Ran-neechan after the heist. Is it okay if I go home?"
Hakuba waves him off, staring in the direction KID went like he's looking for something. "Yes. Goodnight, and hopefully I'll see you again next heist."
He calls Ran as he heads downstairs, letting her know the heist finished, they got the gem back but not KID, and that (of course) he wasn't hurt or anything. She'd always worried a bit anyway, but after the heist where KID tazed him she'd gotten worse about it. As if KID was actually going to risk permanently injuring him when he was apparently so much fun at heists.
Once that was done, he scrolled through his contacts as advised, and found a suspiciously new contact named with a magic wand emoji and a full moon emoji. Internally groaning, he renames it to M Leblanc before sending him a message.
Edogawa: Don't tell me that's how you name contacts on your phone.
Leblanc: Of course! You're soccer ball detective.
Edogawa: Isn't that *more* conspicuous than fake names?
Edogawa: Then again, I'm talking to someone who wears all white.
Leblanc: This is a burner phone, anyway!
Leblanc: As I'm sure you could guess.
Leblanc: I'm not even typing messages the way I normally would. I know you'd notice something like that.
Edogawa: I'd have been surprised otherwise. Are you hoping to get the rest of the details over the phone, then, or are we meeting somewhere else?
Edogawa: I'm planning to come to Ekoda again tomorrow, at the very least.
Leblanc: If this is sensitive enough that you don't want to leave a written record, we can meet, but then you'd be making me wait to hear the rest of your story.
Leblanc: Which would be disappointing. :(
Edogawa: Well, I'm still lacking a lot of information right now, so it's difficult to say how confidential this should be.
Edogawa: But in the interest of time, I'll fill you in on the details here.
Edogawa: It seems that a side effect of the "time loop" is altering memories so that people gloss over any incongruencies in their recollection- for instance, you believing we only met a matter of months ago, much like Hattori when I mentioned this to him.
Edogawa: However, enough solid evidence seems to break through this, such as when I pointed out the year we actually met.
Edogawa: I've narrowed down the time frame when this could have started to somewhere in late spring or early summer of 1996.
Edogawa: The short explanation being that that school year is the last time Ran-neechan or I went up a grade, and I went to live with the Mouris a few months later.
Edogawa: I'm not sure what sort of thing could cause a "time loop" to begin with, so parsing news articles from that time frame for anything relevant has been difficult. On a hunch, I decided to look into the abrupt disappearance of the Anesidora Moonstone, because it stood out from the usual sorts of cases in the news.
Edogawa: Though I can't even be sure the catalyst event actually occured in Japan. I'll broaden my search if it comes to it.
Leblanc: So you're asking me if the moonstone had any notable properties that might mean it could influence time.
Leblanc: Tantei-kun, are you trying to ask me if it's magic?
Leblanc: I know I'm a magician but that's a bit much.
Edogawa: I'm trying not to rule out possibilities, because as much as I hate to admit it, science fiction occurrences in real life are not something I know very much about.
Edogawa: Hence the fact that I'm looking for any outliers that could be further researched.
Leblanc: Well, if it makes you feel any better, I can ask a witch that I know about the Anesidora Moonstone.
Edogawa: This is serious.
Leblanc: Who said I'm joking?
Leblanc: Anyway, I'll look into some things. You're certainly not the only one concerned by this information.
Leblanc: Are you going to visit the mansion it disappeared from?
Edogawa: Yes, that’s what I was planning to return for, if I can get away from Ran-neechan.
Leblanc: Could be tricky for an elementary schooler to investigate that alone. How are you planning to get them to take you seriously?
Edogawa: I'll probably do what I usually do, and tell them Ojisan sent me.
Leblanc: And what are you going to tell them if they ask for what case, or why he's suddenly interested?
Leblanc: I'm guessing by how long you've been quiet that you hadn't thought that far ahead with your story.
Leblanc: It's a wonder you get anywhere if you're this bad at lying.
Edogawa: Oh, yes, because my goal in life is to be a detective known for his lying skills.
Leblanc: Well, there may only be one truth, but there's a whole bunch of fun lies you can tell!
Leblanc: Don't worry, I have you covered. Just show up at the mansion at noon tomorrow, and don't go in without me.
Edogawa: Should I be concerned?
Leblanc: You'll know me when you see me.
Leblanc: You shouldn't still be up talking to criminals like me, though, tantei-kun. Isn't it past your bedtime?
Edogawa: I have a soccer ball in my belt that you unfortunately didn't get to say hello to during the heist, if you'd like to be reacquainted with it.
Leblanc: You're no fun.
The conversation over, he does end up going to sleep shortly after reaching the agency, though in no small part thanks to Ran's fussing.
He's not sure what he expected exactly when he decided to ask KID for help, but he'd resigned himself to something like this happening as long as he could convince the thief to help in the first place. He did briefly think back to his reaction on the rooftop- while anyone would be shocked by the news, KID seemed to be dealing with something heavier tied to the apparent past 20 years of living in a loop. If he had to hazard a guess, he suspected it was related to why Kaito KID had suddenly reappeared about a year before he'd become Conan.
The next day, reluctantly, he goes along with KID's plan, for lack of a better one, and waits for him to show up. He assumes he'll be in disguise, so he keeps an eye on anyone who goes by in case they start to approach him. Of course, as he should have expected, the vigilance ends up being unnecessary, as he hears a voice call out to him that he immediately recognizes.
Who is definitely not the actual owner of that voice.
“KID. I don’t know why I’m surprised you chose to disguise as Hattori.”
“Heiji” blinks. “Why’d ya think I’m KID?”
“Hattori can never get my name right on the first try, and we’re investigating in different directions on this case anyway.”
“Ah, whatever, the point with this one wasn’t to fool you anyway,” “Heiji” grumbles, dropping the voice. “You already knew I was coming.”
“Speaking of which, I assume with a disguise like this, you already have a full excuse for why you’re here, and what we’re investigating, since you complained that I didn’t last night?”
“Heiji” grins, but it’s all KID at this point. “Of course! Who do you take me for?”
“Certainly not Hattori,” he mutters, then, louder, “And you’re not going to tell it to me in advance?”
“Short answer-” he puts on Hattori’s voice again- “I’m here ta investigate a case involvin’ another moonstone, an’ I’m here with my assistant because the Anesidora Moonstone might’a had some connection ta it.”
“Vague enough that they could fill in details for themselves, or we could if we need an excuse for something else.”
“Exactly. I know you love to explain things in full detail, tantei-kun, but you’re going to have to hold back for this to work.”
“I’m not an idiot, KID, I don’t need you to remind me.”
“Really? I was starting to think your deduction shows were a compulsive thing.”
“Shut up. Let’s get this over with.”
Still smirking, but much closer to the kind you’d actually see on Hattori’s face, “Heiji” steps up to the door with him and knocks. An older man answers.
“Good afternoon, what can I help you with?” And then he notices Conan, and adds, “This boy is the KID Killer they talk about on TV, isn’t he?”
He resists the urge to glance at the teenager standing immediately next to him, and nods like an excited kid. “Yeah! I’m here with Heiji-niichan to help him with a case. It doesn’t have anything to do with KID, though!”
“Sorry ta bother ya.” “Heiji” looks slightly exasperated, and it’s difficult to tell if it’s KID himself, or KID-as-Heiji being annoyed at Conan being recognized before him. “Heiji Hattori, detective. I’m lookin’ inta the Anesidora Moonstone’s disappearance ta see if it’s related ta another case I’m workin’ on. Yer the last owner of it, right?”
“Anesidora Moonstone? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of it, let alone it disappearing,” the man replies, with a frown.
“You’re Ikuya Hatano, right?” Conan asks.
The man- Hatano-san- nods. “Yes, that’s me.”
“Heiji” takes out a phone, which Conan absently wonders if it’s the burner or his personal. KID wouldn’t bring his personal phone along in disguise, right? If the phone was less worn, he wouldn’t even be doubting it was a burner in the first place. After scrolling for something for a moment, he holds the phone out for Hatano-san to see. “This article says ya lost the moonstone we’re looking fer in May of last year.”
“Y-you’re right, it does…” Hatano-san drifts off, skimming the article and looking confused. “It even has pictures of one of the rooms in my house… I’ve never heard of it before though, I swear!”
Conan glances at “Heiji”, who looks about as unsure how to proceed as Conan feels. “Um, sorry to bother you, but can we see the room in the picture anyway, Hatano-san? Maybe that’ll make this clearer.”
“Sure… you boys can look around, but only in that room, and do be careful.” Hatano-san looks a little dazed, but moves out of the doorway to allow them in.
They both nod obediently, and step inside. Hatano-san leads them to the room; it appears to be a rather unremarkable, if a bit expensive and fancy, living room. Immediately, “Heiji”’s interest hones in on a glass display case sitting on a shelf on the wall to the right, and Conan follows him over to it, trusting a thief’s instinct on where a gem might have resided. It’s difficult to see, being mostly over Conan’s head, but “Heiji” seems to realize this and picks him up. Having long (way too long) adjusted to being picked up and carted around all the time, Conan doesn’t bother to complain, and instead focuses on the case.
There is something sitting in it, though it’s not a gemstone. It appears to be a nice glass sculpture, though perhaps not expensive enough to warrant its own case, unless you already had an empty glass case sitting around. The stand within the case is lined with crushed velvet, and the base of the statue doesn’t completely match up with how the velvet fibers are displaced. Other than that, there’s no real sign of a vanished moonstone, just that something else (something more appropriate for a case like this) likely used to reside within it.
The other shelves are mostly family pictures and little clay sculptures that appear to have been made by kids- probably Hatano-san’s grandkids, or maybe nieces and nephews, judging by the pictures. There isn’t any sign of the moonstone in the pictures, though in one taken in this living room the display case is visible in the background, and the statue doesn’t appear to be in it. A shoulder prevents him from seeing what is, of course.
“Heiji” sets him back down, and he surveys the rest of the living room more closely. There are two couches, a coffee table between them, and a large flatscreen TV mounted to the left wall. The far wall is a large window, and pulling back the curtains partially obscuring it leads to an empty balcony. The cabinets against the wall under the TV are mostly just full of DVDs, along with a few electronics hooked up to the TV.
Frowning, he returns to the coffee table, inspecting it a bit more closely. There’s nothing underneath it, and the top is only really littered with some coasters (one of which a mug of coffee sits on) and a small stack of books. Other than the imprint in the fabric in the case, there really doesn’t seem to be any sign of the- of the- what was he looking for?
He suddenly feels a bit lightheaded, and sits back on the couch for a moment, trying to clear his head. He came here with Kaito KID because he needed his help to find something for a case. Why did he need KID’s help? He solves murders, and sometimes heists in his spare time. Did KID bring him here? What does Hattori have to do with it?
Whatever was going on, he had no reason to be at this house. He’d have to just apologize to Hatano-san for apparently mixing up the address he must have actually been looking for, and-
“Conan-kun? Ya alright?”
“Heiji”’s voice pulls him out of his thoughts, though he still feels mentally off-balanced. “Heiji-niichan, we should get going and get back to the case,” he says, though the tone’s not quite right for... whatever he was going for.
“Yer here because of the case,” “Heiji” replies, looking concerned. “Unless yer sayin’ we should move on ta the next thing we wanted ta investigate?”
“I… guess that’s what I’m saying, yeah.” Something still feels off. What did this random house have to do with a case? Was it something KID didn’t want to remind him of while Hatano-san was in hearing range?
“Heiji” doesn’t look like he believes the answer, but follows Conan as he gets up and heads over to Hatano-san.
“Did you find what you were looking for, boys?”
His head feels clearer, but “Heiji” beats him to responding. “Yeah, thanks, Hatano-san. Sorry ta bother. If we have further questions, can Conan-kun an’ I contact ya?”
“I suppose, though I still think this is a misunderstanding… somehow. Here’s my number.”
“Heiji” notes the number down in his phone, and they thank Hatano-san again before leaving. Conan waits until they’ve gotten about a block down the street before addressing his apparent investigation partner.
“What are you doing here, KID?”
“You’re obviously Kaito KID, you called me “Conan-kun” and Hattori never remembers to do that. Why are you working with me on this case?”
“Heiji” looks genuinely confused, but it has to be an act, because while Conan doesn’t recall what KID did to get him to go along with whatever this is, there’s no way KID forgot.
“I can’t imagine you’d work with me on a murder investigation if you could help it, let alone drag me into one, so-”
“Tantei-kun, you’re the one who asked for my help with this. Last night? At the heist?”
He wracks his brain, trying to remember. Did KID knock him out, or something? Why was it so fuzzy? “I… can’t seem to recall much of the heist after I left during the blackout and headed to the roof. What did you do to me?”
“I didn’t- hey, why does it have to be me who did something?” He huffs, but it’s hard to imagine he could fake the level of concern evident in his voice. “I don’t have anything that would do something like this to someone. Are you... coming down with something?”
“I don’t feel any symptoms of anything that would cause a haze in memories like this,” he mutters, running the possibilities through his head. “Heiji” kneels down and feels his forehead.
“No fever or anything either.”
“I… can’t seem to recall what case I’ve been working on for the past week. I know I attended school, and solved a handful of murders, and came to Ekoda for an exhibit, but it was actually just an excuse so I could investigate… that… house we were just at? My memories only seem to be fuzzy in regards to the nature of the case itself.”
“Heiji”’s clearly thinking over this information, and actually resembles the detective he’s supposed to be imitating (for some reason) for a moment. “You definitely remembered before we entered that house. You didn’t start acting weird until you got near the table.”
He tries not to sound too disbelieving, because KID is trying to help him figure this out, but… “You think proximity to a coffee table triggered whatever this is?”
“Well, the case you’ve gotten into is pretty weird, itself.”
“So you think the table was, what, rigged with something that could alter specific memories?”
“You’re the one who proposed the idea of memory alteration in our conversation yesterday! At least, for the case in general, although if that’s what happened that would mean the Anesidora Moonstone is definitely tied to this somehow. Look, this is what you said about it,” he says, scrolling through Conan’s phone that he’d swiped at some point.
He presents the phone back to Conan, which vaguely reminds him of “Heiji” doing the same thing for Hatano-san when the man hadn’t known what they were talking about. The conversation does indeed show messages from his own phone he doesn’t remember typing, talking about altered memories, tied to… “A “time loop”? Really?”
“You said you had trouble believing it at first, which isn’t much of a surprise, knowing you.”
Torn between feeling offended at the implication he had trouble accepting something that KID accepted much more easily, and relieved at the other implication that KID still doesn’t expect him to be the sort of person to take things at face value even after apparently claiming a fictional concept is actually occurring, he decides to ignore the second half of the statement altogether. “I said that solid evidence counters the effect, as well.”
“On the rooftop at the heist, after asking me about the Anesidora Moonstone, you told me the heist we met during happened in 1997, and that’s what overcame the effect.”
“1997?” After the initial shock response, he tries to think back to the rest of the heist, finding the haze around it a bit easier to fight through now if he just holds onto the fact that, however unbelievable, something is altering time. “That’s… okay, yeah, that’s coming back to me, actually. I did the same thing with Hattori, I was figuring out the timeline and doing research over the past week…”
“So you remember why we went to the house together now, too, right?”
“Uh… yeah, I’m starting to recall. Sorry for accusing you,” he says quickly, as he thinks through what he saw in the house. “Why didn’t it affect you? You were right next to me after I sat down.”
The thief has the nerve to be a bit smug. “I have reason to believe I have a very strong resistance to magic.”
“What, as a magician?” Yeah, right.
“Look, I could give you my evidence, but if you didn’t like “time loop” you’re not gonna like this either.”
He sighs, willing himself not to get distracted when they’ve already wasted enough time fighting through whatever effect being in that house had had on him. “I suppose I won’t argue, seeing as this acts to our benefit in the event something causes it again. So you’ve concluded this is “magic”, after all?”
“Well, I could ask an expert, if you’re willing to further outsource. But she’s kinda tied to the “evidence” I mentioned.”
“The “witch friend” you said wasn’t a joke?”
He nods, and Conan resists the urge to bury his face in his hands. Unsuccessfully. “Heiji” laughs, and he doesn’t have the energy for more than a glare at this point.
“We don’t have any better leads at the moment, seeing as Hatano-san is thoroughly affected by the memory alteration… and I assume you’d rather I didn’t join you for that conversation, if she’s a friend of yours?”
“Actually, I was so caught up in how great your reaction would be to her that I hadn’t thought that far ahead. You probably wouldn’t be able to connect her to me unless I told you how we met, though…”
“Heiji”’s tone makes him regret suggesting he’d want to come along if KID would let him, but at the same time, it’s true. As much as he’s skeptical that this is really magic like KID says, let alone the fact that he has a friend that can perform genuine magic, he is legitimately curious what he’ll see if he goes. And though it’s strange to admit, he has no reason to believe KID is going to lead him down some completely unrelated rabbit hole, especially when the thief appears to be just as interested in figuring this out as he is.
“Though I’m skeptical about the idea of magic being related to this case, as opposed to something explainable, if highly unusual, I would like to join you, if possible.” He considers for a moment, to make sure there isn’t an obvious way what he’s about to promise will backfire. “If it’s any comfort to you, I won’t look into your friend any further than research for the case demands.”
“Heiji” studies him for a moment, then shrugs. “If you’re willing to offer that much, I guess it’s only fair to say yes. I’ll pick you up tonight, from the detective agency.”
“Not as Hattori, where Ran might see, I hope?”
“Nah. I’ll be dressed a lot more casually.”
Not disguised as a completely different person, he takes that to mean. Did that mean the “witch” knew his true identity? Or just that- no. He had to stop that line of thought. “Alright. I’ll see you then.”
They part ways from there, and Conan heads back to the agency to call and update Hattori on what he’d learned. Predictably, he isn’t particularly happy to learn that KID used him as a disguise, but concedes that he was probably the easiest person Conan knows to justify the appearance of, especially when Conan adds that he made sure Ran didn’t see KID. He does his best to explain the occurrence with the table without it feeling like nonsense, but Hattori takes it well enough.
“My best hypothesis at the moment is that something happened to the Anesidora Moonstone to transfer whatever effect it had as the center of this time loop into the table, though that’s still much vaguer than I’d like it to be.”
“Maybe it was built into the table…?” Hattori tries, sounding like he doesn’t really believe it either. “Nah, if he’d done that it woulda still shown off the Moonstone somehow, and ya wouldn’ta missed that.”
“Yeah, I keep going in circles like that too. I’m going to be meeting with someone KID knows who might know something about this tonight. He seems to think it’s magic, but for obvious reasons I disagree. I’m more inclined to believe it’s just something that isn’t publicly known to be scientifically possible, like my own case.”
“Well, lemme know what ends up happenin’. I dunno if I like the idea of ya going to meet one of KID’s accomplices without backup, but KID’s not really known fer lettin’ people get hurt, I guess. I’ll be on the first train ta Ekoda if ya call me, though!”
“It’d be too late to stop anything by the time a train from Osaka gets here, Hattori.”
“Not if I have anythin’ ta say about it!”
The conversation veers off topic from the case at that point, and goes on for a while until he hears Ran calling for him for dinner. He doesn’t eat so fast that Ran might notice, but he doesn’t exactly savor the food either, not knowing when KID plans to come by. In the end it doesn’t matter, because he doesn’t get a text from KID until a good two hours later.
“I’m gonna spend the night at the Professor’s house, I’ll see you tomorrow, Ran-neechan!” He calls, grabbing a bag and hastily stuffing a change of clothes into it to sell the excuse before heading out the door.
True to his word, KID doesn’t appear to be wearing a proper disguise- instead, it’s just the black outfit Conan’s seen him in before when he’s trying not to draw attention, with the addition of sunglasses that Conan spots under the brim of the hat. He’s leaning against a dark grey car.
“We’re driving there?”
“Unless you’d rather go by hang glider.”
They get into the car, and Conan’s almost surprised when KID doesn’t make any move to blindfold him or otherwise stop him from seeing exactly how to get to the residence of one of his accomplices. When he asks as the car starts moving, KID just laughs.
“She’d be insulted if she heard you say that. She’s more of an enemy of mine than anything, but I think she’ll want to hear about this too, so it’s probably fine to show up and ask about it.”
“”Show up”? You’re telling me we’re coming over unannounced, late at night, and she doesn’t even like you?”
“Oh, she’s saved my life before, she just doesn’t like that that I haven’t fallen for her. If we don’t give her time to prepare for me coming over, it’s safer, though she might know anyway.” He glances at Conan to give him a smile that really isn’t at all reassuring, and looks more like the one KID has when he thinks he’s getting away with something. “Not that I think she’d do anything to you, since you’re just a kid.”
There’s quite a bit to unpack there, but true to his promise, he tries very hard not to. KID chatters on about some story involving Valentine’s chocolates and a city-wide power outage that Conan doesn’t really bother to pay attention to, thinking about something else.
“So if you think she’ll have some useful information about a “magic” stone, does she have anything to do with why you’re looking for a particular gemstone with your heists?”
KID’s story immediately stops, and his voice goes forcibly neutral in that same way it had on the roof. “No. She’s just someone with an interest in the kind of magic I’m not very good at.”
He immediately misses the atmosphere of the car when KID was still acting the way he usually does (or, not the usual, exactly, because it lacked the sort of cool confidence KID has on heists, but the underlying sense of chaotic but mostly harmless mischief was still there). Now, it’s just awkward. “Uh, sorry,” he fumbles, finding himself trying to fix this after a moment. “Was that too close to breaking my promise about not looking into her?”
KID looks distant. “No, it’s a completely different topic. It’s not a surprise you’ve figured out I’m looking for something in particular, since I haven’t exactly hid that information. I’d… just rather focus on one gem at a time, and this one’s a lot easier.”
There’s something deeper behind those words, which confirms Conan’s suspicion that KID was significantly impacted by the news that he’s been doing this for over twenty years. “You’ve been looking for it for a while, right? The fact that I’ve been searching for something for so long, and still made so little progress, was… certainly a lot for me as well.”
“Over two decades, and I still haven’t found it. At this rate, it probably doesn’t exist.”
“Well, you at least have the option of quitting, right?”
KID’s expression turns rueful. “No, if it doesn’t exist that means I’ll be doing this forever, with or without a time loop.”
Conan’s not sure he follows the logic, so there’s undoubtedly more to this than just finding a gem. But it seems unlikely KID’s going to tell him what it is; this has already been much closer to answers than he thought he’d get from the thief.
“What about you? Can’t stop until you get the answers?”
“No, it’s… probably more like your situation. If I can’t find this particular answer, I’m going to be doing this forever.”
The “this” he’s referring to is much less obvious than the one KID was talking about, but luckily, KID doesn’t ask what he means. They’re completely quiet for a bit, though it’s not awkward like it was before.
Eventually, KID asks a different question. “Do you think the fact that time’s not really progressing is why we can’t find what we’re looking for? Once we fix it, are we going to be able to move on with our lives?”
Or is it really just a lost cause, being the unspoken alternative. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t having any of the same doubts, but... “Well, we’re not going to find out until we do, right?”
Because he can’t let himself actually lose hope on this. He’s already made more progress than the combined police force, FBI, CIA, and who knows who else outside of Japan. He’s going to get his life back, damn it.
KID sighs theatrically. “Geez, tantei-kun, tricking me into a deep conversation like that. You’re never riding in my car again.”
“I think I’d prefer it that way, actually, yes.”
The atmosphere in the car is much lighter as they approach a house that looks… a lot like his own Western-style mansion, though located in a rather secluded area with trees that doesn’t seem like it could be somewhere within Tokyo (despite knowing fully well that they haven’t left).
KID stops the car a ways from the house- though whether that’s so this acquaintance of his doesn’t see them coming, because he expects some threat to the car, or just because there’s nowhere up ahead he’ll be allowed to park it, it’s hard to say- and they get out and walk the rest of the way to the front door.
“Alright, tantei-kun, let me do most of the talking unless she starts asking about details I don’t know. Trust me, the less you interact with her, the better. I don’t exactly like to talk to her either.”
Conan nods, despite the strangeness of the warning compared to what he was saying about her earlier. KID changes into his usual white with the drop of a smoke bomb, then knocks on the door.
A teenage girl with dark red hair answers, looking annoyed though not surprised. “What are you doing here with him?”
KID and Conan both blink, not expecting this reception. “Him…?”
"The demon of light from the east,” she replies immediately, as if it means something. Well, the east part could almost be...
“That was about that other high school detective guy, Kudo or whatever, wasn’t it? The one who… went missing…”
Conan’s eyes widen as he sees the gears turning in KID’s head.
In an instant, he spins around to face Conan, indignant. “You shot at me with a real gun!”
“How did- how could I be a teenager? I’m seven years old!”
“That’s the thing you’re going to be doing forever if you can’t find an answer, right?” KID says, still upset (and since when is KID, in costume, this easily readable? Is he not really acting as Kaito KID with this girl? No, stop thinking about it.)
“Most people don’t start thinking someone can de-age like that so easily,” he tries to counter, at a loss for how to actually convince him he’s not Shinichi when this “witch” could apparently immediately recognize it.
“We’re trying to solve a time loop here! Honestly, Kudo, who brings a gun to a heist?”
It’s almost a bit of a relief that he’s more hung up on that than on the identity itself. He supposes an internationally wanted thief would have some idea of the experience. Resigned to his fate, his only retaliation is to mutter, “I wasn’t shooting at you, and the gun wasn’t even mine.”
KID’s tone shifts to something jokingly scolding. “Stealing a gun? From a police officer? Honestly, they’ll let detectives get away with anything these days.”
“Can we please stop talking about this outside? There are people who want me dead that I really don’t want to overhear this.”
The “witch”, who he hasn’t even been properly introduced to yet (though, apparently, he needed no introduction for), rolls her eyes and lets them step inside. “What’s this about a time loop? What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything. Kudo-” there’s an edge to how he says the name, is he really that hung up on the gun? No, maybe just that he gave him such a hard time at that heist in general?- “is the one who noticed it, comparing dates to cases. It’s been going for over twenty years now.”
“Twenty- how could it have gone on this long without my noticing?” That’s finally enough to get more of a reaction out of her, as much as it really should have been the fact that there’s a time loop at all.
KID shrugs. “It messes with memories so that people think all the time we’ve spent in the loop has just been a year or so. We’re pretty sure we found the source of it earlier today, because getting too close to it actually clouded Meitantei’s memories again.”
“We’re not sure why the effect seems to be tied to a table, though. From my research, it seemed more likely to be somehow involved with the Anesidora Moonstone that went missing around the time the “loop” started,” he adds, mostly because he still feels like he should be the one presenting this information since he’s the one who figured it out. “... Also, can we do a proper introduction before we go any further?”
“Ah, yes. My name is Akako Koizumi, and I’m sure if Kaito KID brought you along, he’s at least explained to you that I’m a witch.”
He once again finds himself attempting to suspend his disbelief a bit, at least so he doesn’t immediately insult the thing she defines herself as. “He mentioned that, yes. I’m… well, I guess you already knew somehow that I’m Shinichi Kudo, the high school detective.”
“Your auras are identical,” she “explains”, and he decides not to question it at the moment for the sake of getting somewhere with this conversation.
“At any rate, I assume you’re here because you expect I can help you with the apparent warping of time. I do know some spells to that effect myself, but I don’t typically bother with more than temporarily freezing time, and certainly none of my books detail a spell that would last as long as this has.”
“So you don’t think it’s magic?” KID prompts, as Koizumi walks over to a bookshelf, looking for something.
“Oh, it almost certainly is,” she corrects. “But likely not from a specific sorcerer. I believe Kudo-kun is correct that this Anesidora Moonstone is to blame, though it’s unusual for a moonstone to possess any time-altering properties.”
He once again elects to keep his immediate response- It’s unusual for any stone to possess any time-altering properties- to himself.
Koizumi locates the book she was looking for, and flips through it with the practice of someone who’s memorized most of the pages. “As I thought, typically red gems are the ones associated with magic related to time.”
KID’s got that analytical look again, like he’s piecing something together.
Part of Conan almost wishes he could so easily take this information at face value as well, but then, questioning things is his job. He just needs to try to strip away the fiction the information is wrapped in, and get to the actual point. “So… if I’m following you correctly, you don’t think a moonstone could be involved in this case?”
“It would be quite the anomaly, and it wouldn’t explain why it vanished afterwards. Smoky quartz is usually associated with spells related to obscuring things,” she states, once again with an almost alarming confidence for something so out there. At the same time, he is starting to adjust to it a bit- she’s just going to keep talking like this. He’s had to listen to testimonies from people thoroughly absorbed in superstition before; sometimes it’s even been Ran.
“What do you consider moonstones to be… capable of, then?” He tries, hoping he’s not sounding so much like a skeptic that he causes her to stop.
“They’re generally for absorbing energy from the moon’s rays,” she answers, reminding him of KID’s own words on the rooftop. “It’s not uncommon to use them as a power source or amplifier for other spells.”
At that, KID’s the one to speak up again. “And if it was a moonstone with some kind of red gem encased inside of it?”
“Then… the logical answer would be some sort of time related spell, strengthened by the light of the moon.” Koizumi’s giving KID a strange look, and Conan’s immediately aware that he’s a step behind everyone else in the room in putting this together (though whether they were completely off base with assumptions about this being magic, or whether there was some element of truth from the wrong formula resulting in the right answer, he couldn’t be sure).
He gives it a try anyway. “Are you asking because that’s the gem you’ve been looking for, KID?”
"You’re not believing any of this magic stuff, so you wouldn’t believe me about that if I told you, Meitantei.”
Which isn’t the outright no he’d expected. “You’re saying you’ve been looking for a gem that can alter time?”
KID sighs, though it’s difficult to tell if it’s genuine or just for show. “I’m not going to give up my whole MO and origin story just like that, you know. Especially not with her around."
“Oh, excuse me for helping you while asking for nothing in return!” Koizumi takes some kind of Kaito KID doll off the shelf, and KID pales. Still in her hand, she moves the doll away from herself intently, and Conan can only jump out of the way in surprise as KID himself seems to mimic the doll’s actions, shooting backwards and landing just outside the doorway.
KID sits up, rubbing the arm he landed sideways on. “I thought you got rid of that!”
“Evidently it still has its use from time to time,” Koizumi replies with a smirk, replacing the doll on the shelf. “If you’re not going to appreciate the rather generous gift of my time, I’m going to have to ask you to leave, Kuroba-kun.”
That sounds suspiciously like a last name.
Koizumi ignores KID’s retort about crossing a line, and directs her attention back to Conan. “I suppose that’s the end of your questioning for me?”
Unsure what, exactly, just transpired, he nods. “I guess so, yes. I don’t mean to overstay my welcome.”
“I’m aware you’re trying to be polite despite not believing any of this information, but I can at least appreciate your work disproving the cons that he tries to pass off as magic, so I’m more partial to your presence than his at the moment. Even if you’re physically too young for my charm to work on you!” She punctuates this statement with a haughty laugh.
“Uh, thank you…?” He ignores the last comment. He’s found himself having to ignore way too much since coming here in order to proceed, and it’s starting to bug him.
“If you ultimately decide you’re in need of my services to fix this issue, I might be convinced to help,” she declares, apparently as her parting words, as she then all but ushers him out the door (She didn’t have a doll to repeat the trick on him? Or was he just too small for whatever she’d done to KID to work on him?). She then slams the heavy doors shut, and he hears her footprints walk off.
“I thought my acquaintances were strange, but I think you win, Kuroba.”
KID hops up, glaring down at him. “Don’t you start calling me that! I can’t believe she did that!”
“If you’re going to be calling me “Kudo” all the time now, I think it’s only fair.” He crosses his arms, hoping KID will get the idea and go back to “tantei-kun” and “Edogawa”.
“”Only fair”, huh… Man, I guess you do have a point.”
There’s another puff of smoke, and KID is back in the black outfit, notably sans glasses this time, with the hat in his hand. “Kaito Kuroba, at your service, Meitantei,” he announces with a completely superfluous bow.
“You’re- really just giving up your identity like that?”
Kuroba shrugs. “She’d already given you half my name. You’d have put it together the second you looked into it at all, or if you saw me at a heist. Nakamori calls me in to get a magician’s opinion on the security sometimes,” He says, with a very KID grin.
“That’s... true.” He’s not really sure what to say here; usually he’s the one doing the secret identity reveal. “Well, thank you for leveling the playing field again, I suppose? I don’t plan on arresting you unless I catch you during a heist, anyway. It’s not like I’ve lived the most law-abiding life since shrinking, myself.”
“Speaking of which, I’ve gotta drive you back to the detective agency-”
“Actually, I told Ran I would stay over at Dr. Agasa’s house.”
“-Whatever. Since you’re gonna be stuck with me in the car again anyway, can you tell me the story there? How does a high schooler shrink, and more importantly, how do I avoid that at all costs?”
He laughs ruefully. “It certainly isn’t a fun experience. I’ll tell you, if you tell me the rest of the story with the gem you’re looking for afterwards. Especially since you seem to think it’s related to this case."
“Fiiiiine,” Kuroba groans, already getting back into the car.
True to his word, Conan fills him in on how Conan Edogawa came to be, and Kuroba doesn’t waste a second making fun of him for coming up with that name on the spot. And in return, Kuroba explains that he’s trying to find a gemstone called Pandora before his father’s killers can, and that it’s supposed to “cry tears of immortality” in the moonlight.
“I can see why you started to think it might be related to-”
“Hold on. First, we’re both definitely in agreement that the guys in black that shrunk you are connected with the ones that shoot at me on heists, right?”
Conan sighs, exasperated but not really. “Yes, that would be the logical conclusion. More pressing at the moment, you brought up what was obviously a question about this Pandora while we were talking to Koizumi-san. I take it that I’m not too far off in thinking that something like this time loop keeping the world from aging could be interpreted as a type of immortality?”
“Yeah, and if it’s supposed to “cry” and we take that as the gem itself liquefying, it’s not crazy to think the “tears” might’ve sunk into the table, and that’s why we can’t find the moonstone but the table seems to be doing its job.”
“Especially with the large window facing east in that room. If exposure to moonlight was the catalyst, it would have gotten plenty if it were sitting on the table at the time the moon rose."
“You’re taking this rather supernatural line of speculation pretty well, Meitantei,” Kuroba teases.
“I’m operating within the facts we have. While I’m not sure how much of this “magic” I actually believe, this moonstone being the cause of the time loop is what all our information points to. I didn’t want to believe in a time loop either, at first, but refusing to see the answer right in front of me just because it seems improbable would be a disgrace to everything I’ve learned from Holmes.”
“Ugh, you and Hakuba. Have you ever tried to connect over your shared idol?”
“... I wasn’t aware he was a fan.”
“He used to show up to my heists dressed in the full Holmes outfit. Consider yourself lucky you’ve managed to avoid it.”
“That sounds fun, actually. Maybe I should do it sometime."
“You detectives are the worst,” Kuroba grumbles, then abruptly stops the car. “We’re here.”
He thanks the thief for the ride, grabs the bag he’d hastily brought with him when they first left the agency, then hops out of the car. And then belated realization hits him. How the hell is he going to explain all this to Haibara and Hattori?
He gives a single, half-hearted wave as Kuroba drives off. Deciding it’s better to just face his fate, he heads inside. Haibara and the Professor are working on… something, some kind of device, but he immediately draws both of their attention as he shuts the door.
“Well? You left to investigate that Moonstone today, didn’t you?"
That feels like it happened years ago, which is weird, because the things that actually happened years ago still don’t really feel like that. “Yeah, and I think my hunch was right that it’s the cause of all this."
“The cause? But you haven’t figured out how yet?” Haibara doesn’t look impressed, and he supposes that if that vague answer is all the information he got today he wouldn’t be impressed either.
“KID thinks it’s magic,” he replies, not sounding nearly as dismissive of the idea anymore as he wishes he did.
Haibara and the Professor just stare at him.
“It’s been a long night.” He’s sure he sounds as tired as he feels. “I don’t know if I believe it’s as simple as “magic”, but as much as I hate to admit it, there may be something more going on that we don’t understand, especially if it’s messing with time and memories like this. Though I’m not so far gone off the deep end as to suggest we won’t be able to prove a logic to it with some experimentation.”
“You’re going to have to explain a bit more, Kudo-kun."
He fills them in on what happened when he and KID went to visit Hatano-san, and then has to stop the story. “Let me call Hattori for the rest, so I don’t have to go through all of this twice and can actually get some sleep tonight."
He puts Hattori on speaker as soon as he picks up, so everyone in the room is subjected to his immediate, very loud, “Are ya okay, Kudo?! Do ya need me ta come get ya out of there?”
“Yes, Hattori, I’m fine. I’m back at the Professor’s house, and I figured I’d catch all three of you up at once on what I learned visiting KID’s acquaintance."
“Oh. Ya hadn’t called in a while, so I was worried. Uh, hi neechan, Professor.”
“Hattori-kun.” Haibara returns the greeting in a tone like she’s going along with a little kid’s nonsense.
He recounts the trip to Koizumi’s house. He doesn’t get very far before there’s an uproar.
“Kaito KID and some random teenage girl know who you are?!”
“KID already basically knew who you are, Haibara, considering we needed him on the Bell Tree Express,” Conan grumbles. “Look, I’m not thrilled that apparently “my aura” can immediately give me away, or however she actually knew, but at least KID knows what having a secret identity is like, and Koizumi-san evidently already knew who KID is as well.”
Shit, he’d been planning to cover that part of the story later. Or never. “She used his last name to refer to him when she got mad at him, I think because she knew it’d make him equally mad if she gave away his identity in front of me. It certainly wasn’t a slip of the tongue.”
“Kudo, are ya sayin’ ya know who Kaito KID is now?”
“Yes. Like I said, it’s been a long night. It’s not my secret to give away, especially seeing as he could do the same to me if he wanted, but I’m not planning to do anything with the knowledge anyway. Can I tell this story in chronological order?”
There’s some grumbles of agreement, obviously not pleased at being left out of the loop on what they think is probably the most exciting information of the night, and he continues. He makes it clear he wasn’t just blindly going along with the very fantastical information Koizumi gave them, but that parts of it do in fact seem to match up with what they know about the case at the moment, so he’s going on the assumption that there is some truth to it. It also matches up with what KID knows about a gem called Pandora that he’s been looking for, and Haibara shudders when he mentions who’s looking for it. He stops the story, and looks at her expectantly.
“I know there are different branches of the organization as you follow the threads, though as I’ve said I was really only given information about the part I was working for. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s all the same people when you trace our end and KID’s end back to the top.”
“KID and I figured as much. Knowing that, we might be able to work together on this, if he’s still willing to help once we’ve eliminated Pandora and the time loop it seems to have created and he can hopefully retire.”
“So ya really just happened ta stumble onta the gem KID’s been lookin’ for fer two decades, and solved it fer him just like that?”
“Well, there is the fact that the gemstone itself doesn’t exist anymore, and passed the source of its effect onto a table. I haven’t brought it up to KID yet, though I’m sure he’s thinking the same thing, but it’s going to be difficult to convince the people after him that destroying a piece of furniture means Pandora is gone and they should stop looking.”
“Yes, that will provide a bit of a problem,” Haibara agrees. “It’s likely that even if he had properly destroyed a gem that appeared to be Pandora right in front of them, they wouldn’t have completely stopped looking unless they could confirm it beyond a doubt themselves.”
“Do you think the person who named it “Anesidora” knew what it contained?” The Professor muses, his mind clearly elsewhere. “That is Pandora’s other name in the mythology.”
Conan shrugs. “It’s either that, or an almost unbelievable coincidence. I’m not sure it really matters, especially not at this point.”
He finishes off the story mentioning that Koizumi-san had been possibly willing to provide further assistance if needed, though he expressed his own doubts that happening to have information that got them somewhere equated to an actual ability to provide further help later on.
“So we’ve just gotta figure out what’ll stop Pandora now, right? Have ya considered just… breakin’ the table?”
“That feels a bit too simple, but I guess we really don’t know enough about how Pandora works to say with any certainty that that wouldn’t work…” He drifts off into a yawn. “You’re all caught up now, though, and I’ve had a pretty busy day, so I’d love to get some sleep.”
There’s some agreement from the others, and he hangs up the call and goes to change into the pajamas he’d brought. Honestly, he didn’t really want to stop working on this case for the night, but he also knew from experience that- while he’d take this admission to his grave- the people constantly making fun of him about a bedtime were right, and his shrunken body actually did need a lot more sleep than he’d needed as a teenager. So acting like it’s a conscious choice, rather than an unfortunate necessity, was mostly just to save what little dignity he still had.
All the same, he decides to send a quick text to Kuroba before calling it a night, just to let him know everyone was on the same page. He discovers a new contact has been added to his phone named “Kaito-niichan”, and groans. Of course. He decides on a different text to send, one that’s way less practical but hopefully at least a bit more annoying.
Edogawa: So is there a reason you look so much like Shinichi-niichan?
Kaito-niichan: maybe /he/ looks like /me/
Kaito-niichan: maybe theres really only 1 of us
Kaito-niichan: ive been leading an elaborate double life
Kaito-niichan: your distant cousin has been me all along
Edogawa: What do they say about lies? That there’s always some truth in them?
Edogawa: Also, you weren’t kidding about typing differently.
Kaito-niichan: its faster if i dont bother with punctuation or capitalization
Kaito-niichan: also hakuba and akako hate it
Edogawa: I can’t imagine why.
Edogawa: Wait, what are you doing texting Hakuba?
Edogawa: Oh. You go to the same school.
Edogawa: I pity your classmates.
Kaito-niichan: so if you noticed this ig you caught your friends up
Edogawa: Yes. Hattori thinks we should just try breaking the table.
Kaito-niichan: well maybe hes onto something idk
Kaito-niichan: breaking things usually works for akakos stuff
Edogawa: I’d rather avoid acting until we’re at least somewhat sure it’ll work.
Edogawa: Also, Haibara put the idea in my head, so you can blame her, but the time loop keeping us in this same year of our lives has actually been rather convenient given my condition.
Edogawa: Obviously, I’m not the only one with a say in the matter, but there may be benefits to waiting to try to end it until we’ve wrapped things up with them.
Kaito-niichan: id need to think about it
Kaito-niichan: i kinda swore to destroy the thing that got my dad killed as soon as i found it yknow
Kaito-niichan: though ig i wouldnt mind keeping up this night job if it meant messing with you some more
Edogawa: It would be a shame to end our battles, they’re a nice break from the usual murders.
Edogawa: But I wouldn’t ask you to do that if you didn’t want to, and not just because I’m a detective and therefore cannot condone illegal actions.
Kaito-niichan: well ill let you keep being a hypocritic all you want
Edogawa: If you’re going to choose to communicate in puns, I may have to block your number.
Edogawa: I get enough from the Professor.
Kaito-niichan: ive seen sleeping kogoro make them on tv too sometimes
Kaito-niichan: but ig its okay when /he/ does it?
Kaito-niichan: i cant believe these double standards
Kaito-niichan: theres one truth and its that youre a hypocrite tantei kun
Edogawa: It’s a necessary evil.
Kaito-niichan: you just keep telling yourself that
Edogawa: Anyway, there’s your update. A certain thief has made this a *very* long night for me, and I’d been hoping to get some sleep now.
Kaito-niichan: kid sama would never do that so it must be another less cool thief youre talking about
Kaito-niichan: in which case thats very unfortunate and i can see why youd need to sleep after such an ordeal
Kaito-niichan: so goodnight tantei kun i hope you recover from being a hypocrite in the morning
Resisting the urge to groan again, he sets his phone down, and finally gets that sleep he keeps talking about.
It’s roughly another year- roughly, because the time loop continues to make it difficult to judge it exactly without careful monitoring- later that Shinichi Kudo, with the help of the some other high school detectives, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, FBI, CIA, and even Kaito KID himself according to rumors, manages to land a decisive blow against the Black Organization. There’s still the inevitable stragglers, but with the central command of the operation gone, they’re considered significantly less of a threat and it’s not expected to take long for them to be apprehended as well.
Shinichi had reappeared about halfway through that year, after they’d managed to get their hands on the antidote (definitely not, recognized on any recorded communication, with the help of any internationally-wanted thieves who could break into a facility with the right information). Ran had been informed of little more than his return prior to the takedown, and told in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t tell anyone about it until afterwards, when she was also filled in on the details of the case not involving Conan. She was annoyed at being left out of the loop, and even angrier when she’d quickly thereafter put together for herself who Conan Edogawa was, but ultimately their friendship survived, if a bit different than before.
Haibara ended up not taking the antidote, which wasn’t a huge surprise, but proceeded to tell the Detective Boys the less gory details of the case anyway, after they’d rallied to “visit Conan in America for summer vacation”. She elected not to inform Shinichi of this in advance, which led to a rather awkward conversation between him and three angry elementary schoolers where they scolded him for lying because lying is bad and he’s supposed to be a detective and what kind of example is he trying to set for his friends? (Shinichi did a poor job of hiding his relief when they still referred to him as their friend, and Haibara made fun of him for it later.)
About a month after the Black Organization case had settled down, Shinichi finds himself sitting at a table in the Blue Parrot with Kuroba, Hattori, and Koizumi. The Professor had come along as well, but quickly gotten sidetracked catching up with the owner once they arrived, as they were apparently good friends. Shinichi had barely resisted a laugh when he realized how many of KID’s gadgets had the same source as Conan’s.
Kuroba was, of course, dressed as KID. Shinichi couldn’t say he blamed him for holding onto his secret where he could, after having the rug pulled out under him with his own secret so many times (especially recently), but it was also a bit difficult to take KID seriously when he was squished into a booth with the rest of them and not actually upholding any of the KID act.
“So. Destroying Pandora. How do we do it?”
“Great way to start the conversation, KID. Truly eloquent.”
“We’re gonna need the table fer whatever we do, right? We’re not just gonna steal it from Hatano-san, I hope.”
The other three occupants of the booth, who were significantly more used to casually breaking the law out of either necessity, perceived necessity, or personal disdain for it, exchanged glances.
“We can buy him a new table,” Shinichi suggested.
“I can swap them pretty easily, especially if one of you distracts him,” KID adds.
"Alternatively, I could just cast something to freeze time for a moment to switch them, and save everyone the trouble.”
“I don’t think they’re ready for you to be using magic all over the place, Akako.”
Hattori just shrugs at that, which feels like a bit of a betrayal to Shinichi because surely he’s not actually going along with magic to fix something, right? “Okay, I guess as long as we can get him the same one it doesn’t really matter.”
“I was worried you’d have more of a problem with that, Hattori.”
“Well, normally I don’t like ta do stuff like that unless it’s fer investigatin’ a case an it’s a suspected murderer’s stuff, but I dunno if there’s really an easier way ta do it short of askin’ him.”
Shinichi blinks. “I guess we probably should just try asking him for the table first. Just in case.”
“Either way.” KID waves a hand. “Akako, how do we break the time spell or whatever this is?”
She shrugs, in a flippant way that conveys she thinks this conversation is beneath her. “If it’s tied to an object, it shouldn’t be more difficult than breaking the object. At worst, you may need to burn the pieces under a new moon afterwards.”
“So I was right!” Hattori declares, immediately smug. Oh, so he was going to treat this as a victory of the West over the East, huh?
“Assuming Koizumi-san’s suggestion is correct.”
“Are you suggesting I might be wrong, Kudo-kun?”
His mind suddenly feels like it’s buzzing a little, and his thoughts become momentarily hazy. Something seems different about Koizumi, but he can’t identify what the feeling is. “O-of course not, Koizumi-sama. I apologize,” he answers, not entirely aware he’s doing it.
KID elbows Koizumi hard, and the mental buzzing stops. Shinichi has to blink a few times before he feels like he’s really aware again.
“I told you not to use your stupid charm on them,” KID hisses, like he doesn’t really want Shinichi and Hattori to overhear but doesn’t care enough to fully whisper. “It’s counterproductive, and also super creepy. He’s not even interested in you.”
Hattori’s glaring at Koizumi, so it must have been outwardly clear she was doing something to him. He suspects it was the same thing she had mentioned before that wouldn’t work on him while he was physically a child, but he’s still a little out of it, and can’t figure out how she got him to speak against his will like that.
KID sighs. “I’m not going to apologize for her, but I’m not sure you’re going to get an apology from her, either. Let’s just move on. There’s going to be a new moon in two days, so if we want to replace the table we should figure out how we’re going to get an identical one now.”
The atmosphere at the table is still a little tense, but they at least have a picture of the table from the old news article to work with. The fact that the model of table is that old should have made it hard to find, but they end up getting lucky, and a pawn shop not too far away has one in pretty good quality. KID then goes on to run them through the brilliant heist/switch plan he’d devised while they were getting the table and taking it temporarily back to Shinichi’s house.
It’s lackluster compared to the heists KID is known for, but considering the theatrics are usually part of the act, and misdirection isn’t really required for this very simple theft from an empty room, bringing that up seems all too likely to cause more problems.
Koizumi doesn’t join them for the actual heist, the following evening, but KID assures them it’s for the best and the detectives are inclined to agree. Hattori goes in to distract Hatano-san (as the only one Hatano-san has “met”, and ironically therefore the only one that hasn’t actually met him), KID enters via the balcony to switch the tables, and Shinichi’s on the ground to help him in getting the tables out of and into the car.
It goes surprisingly smoothly (other than Shinichi experiencing another brief lapse in memory as he’s handling the table, easily snapped back out of), which KID assures them is because he’s an expert, and also because there wasn’t anyone trying to stop them. The jab isn’t subtle.
They end up letting KID do the honors of breaking the table back at the Kudo manor (for reasons other than simply that he's probably the only one of them that could without forgetting what he was doing), with a tarp under it so they don’t risk losing any small pieces of it at Koizumi’s insistence. He’s never seen someone get so emotional about destroying a table, but he supposes it’s warranted given the context.
“So… did it work?” Hattori asks first, looking around as if there’s going to be some physical sign of the time loop’s end.
Actually, he has no idea if there would be. They really had no guarantee that the past decades wouldn’t suddenly catch back up to them, or something equally unpleasant. He’s glad when that doesn’t seem to happen, because he’d had more than enough rapid aging as Conan, and also because such an obvious physical change would be very difficult to explain to the entire world while maintaining his reputation as a sane detective. If he could even be called that anymore, after determining a gem melted into a table to be the culprit of this case.
“I guess we can burn pieces tomorrow night to be sure,” KID suggests, looking like he very much wants to have a table bonfire regardless of whether it’s necessary.
That’s what they end up doing, though there’s still no physical sign of anything happening, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. As annoying as it is, they’re just going to have to wait and see. (Again, assuming this even fixes it in the first place, which Shinichi finds himself getting caught up in believing between Hattori, KID, and even to some extent Koizumi’s confidence that it will, but still has trouble really completely rationalizing when he’s alone.)
A week later, Shinichi immediately calls Hattori and Kuroba after Ayumi informs the Detective Boys she’s had a growth spurt, and then takes the kids out for ice cream. Hattori and Kuroba later grumble that they didn’t also get ice cream, and don’t stop until Shinichi promises to buy them some next time he sees them. But he can’t find it in himself to actually be mad about it, because he can finally actually move on with his life now and call his last case as Conan closed.
(Even if he was definitely planning to investigate deeper into how a stone could warp time like that, and then fuse into a table but maintain the effect, in his spare time.)