Chapter 1: A New Case

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The calming aroma of coffee wafted through the small café in the late afternoon, the sophisticated scent intoxicating. He sipped his hot drink, then placed the cup back on the round table with one hand. With the other, he turned the delicate page of his newspaper. A certain headline caught his attention: Phantom Thief Strikes Again! Idabashi Catastrophe!

"Hey Shuichi! What's so interesting in there that you can't stop reading?" a tall boy with over-styled purple hair asked, tapping the top of the newspaper with a finger.

Shuichi looked up. "It's that phantom thief again. Look," he passed the newspaper to his friend, "Professor Idabashi's blueprints and the prototype for his new robot were stolen last night."

The taller boy scanned the page before handing the paper back with a sigh. "So who do you think is the culprit?"

A girl with long dark brown hair bunched in pigtails peered across the table at the paper. "Kaito, it could be anyone."

"Anyone incredibly sneaky and intelligent." Shuichi added. "But you can't throw around accusations. No one has gathered any information about the thief's identity either, besides the fact that he's male."

The boy named Kaito stared into his glass. "You think they're gonna catch him?"

"No. They've been trying to catch him for months, Kaito. If they could catch him, they would've devised a plan which succeeded in capturing him already." the girl beside Kaito replied, resting her elbows on the table with a huff.

"Yeah... I suppose you're right Maki. I hope they catch the guy soon!" beamed Kaito.

Shuichi pulled his black cap forward. "There's got to be something in particular that they want. They may have a goal. It doesn't make sense."

Maki offered Shuichi an intrigued look. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that there's got to be some kind of link between all the thefts or the culprit must have an end goal at least. Why, for months, steal from jewellery shops across the country, and then show up at a high security laboratory to steal blueprints and a robot prototype? They're completely different things! It doesn't add up." Shuichi took another sip of his coffee in frustration. This whole Phantom Thief ordeal irritated him. He couldn't seem to work it out.

"It does sound like they're trying hard to attract attention." Kaito stated as he stared even harder into his glass as if he were a clairvoyant gazing into a crystal ball. "If there's no pattern with the crimes, then the only explanation is they're trying to attract as much attention as they can. They could be trying to make themselves known, don't you think?"

Maki smirked. "Wow Kaito! You actually said something smart! I'm impressed."

Despite her predatory leer, her words were laced with adoration rather than venom.

"I've said smarter things, Maki Roll." Kaito replied.

She smiled, "Yeah? Like what?"

Kaito returned the gesture and leaned over to Maki to whisper in her ear. "I love you."

Maki turned her head away and blushed, her face as crimson as the ruby sailor uniform and thigh-high socks she sported. Her skirt was black, pleated and plaid underneath the table along with her brown ankle boots. Her red eyes darted away from the boys as if not seeing them would prevent them from noticing her cherry cheeks. Shuichi smiled warmly at his friends' loving interactions. He was happy for Kaito and Maki; it had almost been seven months since they'd started dating and the trio were the best of friends. Shuichi could trust them with anything.

"But Kaito, I doubt you're wrong there. It could be an attention thing." Maki shrugged, swiping Kaito's glass from him and sipping his water. Kaito raised his eyebrow at her as she slid it back across the table. Of course she had her own drink but she appeared to think Kaito's was better. She turned back to Shuichi. "What do you think Shuichi?"

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