I. The Meeting
"As usual, I thank you all for coming. Is everyone here? Good...let's begin."
As was the custom at the beginning of these bi-weekly meetings, Officer Chiba wheeled a slide projector into the center of the police conference room; the device saw very little actual use during these clandestine affairs, but Megure-keibu was a stickler for doing things properly...and since he was gracious enough to allow the use of a secured room at the Metropolitan HQ, nobody really objected to the formalities.
"New business?" Megure asked, glancing around.
"Hai," a voice piped up from those assembled. The inspector nodded to acknowledge the speaker, and Mouri Ran stood, fidgeting uncomfortably.
"The latest forced revelation operation failed...as usual," Ran scowled. "Agasa-hakase got the drop on us again. We need to be more careful, guys. I think they're starting to catch on. If Shinichi figures it out, we'll ALL be in trouble."
"Che," her father snorted. "Like that punk can do anything to us the way he is..."
"Oh, really?" This refined, cultured voice, tinged with amusement, came from the corner. "You seem to have forgotten the incident with the brick, Mouri-san. How many bones in that killer's hand did he shatter? And do you really want to think about what would happen if he aimed a kick like that at your...shall we say, personal valuables?"
Kogorou turned an odd pale green color and fell silent.
"Mou, Shiratori," Satou Miwako admonished, though she was chuckling slightly. "We don't really need to get into another round of examples of Reasons To Avoid Pissing Kudou-kun Off. We go over that every other time we do this."
"True enough, Satou-san. I digress."
Megure coughed. "I believe Ran-kun still has the floor. You were saying?"
"Hai. It's becoming harder and harder to fake being tricked, and the schemes Shinichi and Hakase come up with are getting more and more ridiculous. And that's not even counting that idiot Kaitou Kid butting in."
"Do we have ANY new clues as to why he's involved in this at all?" Megure asked.
"None, Keibu-dono," Takagi replied. "The best guess we've been able to come up with is that he's doing it because he knows it annoys Kudou-kun."
"That certainly fits what we know about him," Megure agreed, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "What bothers me is that we're never able to outright expose Kid as a fake when he's disguised as Kudou-kun."
"I still think he must look exactly like Shinichi, or close enough, on his own," Ran said.
"God, I hope not," another female voice put in airily. "I'd hate to think I've spent forever mooning over a clone of Ran-chan's husband."
"AHEM!" Megure glowered at the wealthy airhead. "Sonoko-kun, PLEASE refrain from making those comments during these meetings, or I shall be forced to prevent you from further attendance."
"Hai, hai!" Sonoko said, smiling and raising her hands in a gesture of mock surrender.
"Do we have any new information on Subjects Black One and Black Two?"
"Actually, yes. We recently learned that Black One owns a fairly rare classic car. I've placed photographs of the vehicle in the official folder. However, he and Black Two have been keeping rather well out of sight recently. We think they might have realized someone is watching them."
"Hmm. That's not good. Especially since we can't get any cooperation from those FBI agents or Yusaku-san's Interpol contacts. Nobody who actually knows anything is willing to tell US anything..." Megure grumbled in irritation.
"Is it really that surprising?" the crisp, calm voice of Kisaki Eri asked. One slim eyebrow arched, she stood, arms folded. "If too many people get too curious about these men, they'll disappear completely. If that happens, it's possible Shinichi-kun will never be able to return to normal and seek justice against them. I can hardly blame Yusaku-san and Yukiko-chan for being skittish."
"I don't know," Kogorou rumbled. "If it were Ran, I'd want every police officer in Japan and probably the entire JSDF hunting those bastards down."
"Yes, but you're an idiot with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer cracking an egg, anata."
"It's not like Shinichi-niisan's being very subtle himself," a younger voice piped up. Everyone glanced at Mitsuhiko, who shuffled nervously before continuing, "I mean, it only took us a month to figure it out, and we barely even know who Kudou Shinichi was."
"True, but he's handling his enemies with far more caution than he's handled his friends and his secret," Eri replied. "Which, all things considered, is a good thing."
"Anou...do we have any new information on Haibara-san?" Mitsuhiko asked, flushing slightly.
Satou couldn't hide a smile as she replied, "We actually did find a DNA profile match. There's a 99% probability she's related to the deceased female member of that gang from the billion yen robbery. Unfortunately, we can't find any records for either that aren't complete forgeries."
"Can we even be sure that girl's like Kudou?" Kogorou asked. "She could just be a really weird creepy little girl."
"No...she's involved too deeply in Shinichi's mess to be normal in any way," Ran replied.
"Besides, she's been trying to make a cure for Shinichi-niisan, and using her own blood for it, and Hakase is NOT helping her," Mitsuhiko added.
"You've been inside her lab?" Ran asked sharply.
"Un. I kinda snuck in..." Mitsuhiko flushed.
Megure turned his full attention to the boy. "Did you find out anything else useful when you were in there?"
"Well, I think I found the name of the drug that shrank Shinichi-niisan and Haibara-san," the thin boy replied hesitantly. "The name 'Apotoxin-4869' was all over all her notes."
"4869...that's the same as the passcode for Shinichi's mobile," Ran mused.
Shiratori snickered. "No surprise. 'Sherlock'..."
Megure groaned. "I thought that old number game went out of fashion when I was still a rookie."
"I'd like to make a proposal," Ran suddenly spoke up.
"What is it, Ran-kun?"
"I think we should bring Toyama Kazuha into the fold." She fidgeted. "Hattori Heiji, we know, is in on Shinichi's secret. And he does a really, really terrible job of covering up for it. I think...if Hattori-kun has anything really incriminating lying around that we can use to force Shinichi to drop the act, or any information about the enemy or Ai-chan..."
"Kazuha-chan would be the best way to get at it, since she's his girlfriend, right?" Satou finished. "Not a bad idea, if a little dirty and underhanded."
"Like 'Edogawa Conan' isn't a dirty, underhanded little lying sneak?" Ran retorted archly.
"Oh hell, here she goes again," Genta groaned.
"Hush!" Ayumi chided. "Ran-neechan has every right to be mad at Conan-kun! It's so mean of him to make her so worried..."
The door suddenly burst open. "MEGURE-KEIBU!" an officer bellowed.
"This is a closed conference! You know better than to come in here!" Megure roared.
"There's been a murder!"
"When ISN'T there a murder?" Genta commented in a stage whisper.
Megure sighed. "Let me guess. It was called in by..."
"Edogawa Conan-kun, hai."
"Alright everyone...that's a wrap for today. Usual dispersal patterns on exit, just in case Kudou-kun or the enemy have someone watching the building. Everybody who needs to be on the scene, game faces on. Everybody else, usual assignments until next time. Meeting adjourned."
Thus did twelve people—only five of them actual police officers—disperse from the secured police conference room, each hoping that by the time two weeks had passed again, the next meeting would no longer be necessary...
...and, as usual, all of them prayed it would be for the right reasons.