Disclaimer: I don't own the DCMK characters.

Moon Over Eventide

25: Recuperation

"There does not appear to be anything wrong with him," Kuroba Toichi said to his son. The two of them were watching Chikage fuss over Shinichi's clothes. His old ones had been deemed no longer fit to be worn after suffering through a night of root chases and magical flames. He had his own change of clothes from home, which he was now wearing, but Chikage had decided that replacements were in order. And so she had commissioned the tailors for new clothes, and now she was attempting to convince Shinichi to accept the half dozen outfits as a gift. The detective had refused after one look at the garments in question, saying he couldn't accept such extravagant gifts, but Chikage was insistent. After all, she argued, he was going to be part of the family, and there was no such thing as a gift that was too extravagant for family.

Shinichi turned pink when he heard her say this, but his spluttering went completely ignored.

Kaito watched the seamstresses and his mother pushing and prodding Shinichi into the first outfit so that they could adjust the size and couldn't hide the grin. That slightly panicked, deer in the headlights look on Shinichi's face was adorable. But he knew better than to say so. Yet.

"I think he's fully recovered," Kaito confirmed. "Though he gets dizzy spells now and then. And he tells me he has strange dreams."

"strange dreams?"

"That's what he said. But after everything that's happened, I'd be more surprised if he wasn't having strange dreams."

"That is true," his father agreed. "But dreams often foreshadow changes in one's self. They can reflect issues within that you have yet to notice with your conscious mind. Considering his recent encounter with the Source…"

Kaito tensed. "What? Is there something I should know?"

"I don't know." The older demon sighed. "I wish I could tell you more, but we've never had a case like this before. The chances of a human inhaling so much raw magic and surviving is almost nonexistent."

Kaito's hands clenched into fists at his sides. With an effort, he forced himself to relax. Slim chances or not, Shinichi had made it. That was what mattered.


"So are all of you packed?" Aoko asked, dropping the massive picnic basket she had been carrying onto the grass then waving a hand over it. The basket instantly began to unfurl like a blooming flower. It spread out and out until it had become a woven picnic blanket large enough to house a feast. And, indeed, it had a feast already laid out upon it.

"Yep." Kaito picked up one of the empty plates stacked at the corner of the spread and began piling it high with food. "We'll be heading back this afternoon."

Kazuha sighed. "I almost don't want to go. It's so beautiful here. And the air's so clean, it's amazing."

"There's no pollution here," Shinichi agreed. "But we can't stay any longer. People will be worried. And we've already missed a lot of class."

"I'm sure the school will forgive us. We did help rescue a load of people," Kaito reasoned. "Anyway, was there anything you wanted to see before we went back? We have time for one more tour after lunch, I think."

"Well, there's always the library," Shinichi suggested, brightening. "If I'm going to be learning your language, I'll probably need a book or two to study with."

Kazuha started to laugh. "We've come all the way to another world, and you'd choose to bring books back as souvenirs. Sonoko would throw a fit."

"Oh, hey, that's it!" Aoko exclaimed before Shinichi could respond. "We can go shopping! There's a sale going on at the Oracle's Boutique today! It's not far from here by air. We can go and be back in time for you to head back, no problem."

Kazuha perked up then paused. "Wait, um, did you say by air?"

"Yeah. We can borrow two of the doves. We can, can't we?" she asked, turning to Kaito.

"Sure. Go ahead," the magician said around a mouthful of fried soft-shelled not-crabs. He'd told Shinichi they were land crustaceans that lived up in the canopies of certain trees, but they deep fried just like soft-shelled crabs. "Take Hina and Seki. They've been way too lazy about their exercise lately."

"Wait," Kazuha cried out, jumping to her feet. "I don't know how to ride a dove. I've never even ridden a horse by myself!"

"It's easy. There's nothing to it, actually, because the doves do all the work. You just hold on and wait until they land," Aoko explained cheerfully. "So are all of us going? I'll go round up our rides."

Kaito swallowed his last not-crab and picked up a slice of red fruit pie. "Nah, you two go. I'm taking Shin-chan to the library once we're done here. Let's meet back at the castle at four."

Arrangements made, the girls finished off their food then left. Kazuha hesitated at first when she found herself looking up and up at a hill of white feathers that was supposed to be her ride. She still couldn't quite wrap her head around the idea that it was a dove. But the bird turned to warble happily at her and bump her with its head until she finally climbed up onto the massive, downy back.

After her initial trepidation had worn off, she decided that flying by dove was a surprisingly comfortable way to travel.

As Kaito continued to polish off what was left of the picnic, Shinichi wrapped his arms around his knees and gazed down the gentle, grassy slope at the lake below. Its vast, mirrored surface was like a second sky right now. It was beautiful. Sights like these still existed in the human world, but they were growing rarer by the day. Seeing it here now made him feel…happy, he supposed, because he was getting the chance to see such pure, natural beauty. But it made him a little sad too. It was a reminder of how different their worlds were once again.

It also made him wonder. Would he… Would he really want to come live here one day? To leave behind the world he had grown up in to become a part of this strange and dangerous yet beautiful land?

Sitting here with Kaito, he found he could easily imagine himself saying yes.

He wasn't surprised by this little discovery about himself. He supposed he had suspected it all along, but he also knew that it was unwise. He might love Kaito, even if the thought still made him blush, and this world was beautiful when no one was trying to kill you or kidnap you or use your friends as living radars, but it was not his world. He knew nothing about it, really. Nothing important. He didn't understand how people here thought or know what anyone did for fun or the kinds of things they learned in school. He didn't know when children started school even, nor where the cities were. All he had seen was a castle and a ruin beneath a tree.

Their idea of law enforcement was clearly nothing at all like the law enforcement he had come from, and that was half of who he was. He was a detective. He uncovered crimes and made the world safer by putting unsavory characters behind bars. Out here, he suspected anyone deemed in need of a prison would just be put out of everyone's misery.

He sighed, resting his chin on his knees. When all was said and done, he was human, and Kaito was not. They had grown up in completely different worlds in completely different ways. They had shared a precious handful of years of memories that, apparently, had meant a lot to both of them despite their brevity, but was that enough to justify either of them up and moving into the other's world? They both had responsibilities. And though Kaito could relocate with ease, he was the one who had people he was responsible for, being nobility and all.

"Why are you looking so gloomy?" a chipper voice demanded as Kaito flopped down onto the grass beside him. "We're about to go back to school. Oh, wait," he added as an afterthought. "I guess that is a reason to get gloomy isn't it? Though I didn't think you'd be one of the ones who'd mind."

Shinichi had to laugh. "No. I'm not bothered by having to go back to classes. Though I am a little worried about how many projects and assignments we've probably missed."

"Once they know we were out doing the greater good, they'll let you make up the work," Kaito theorized then laughed. "But hey, a few bad grades are just a few bad grades. What's that compared to making the archeological discovery of the century, stopping a crazy power hungry nut, and rescuing a couple dozen humans?"

Shinichi snorted. "When you put it that way… But I don't think it would be wise to tell anyone all that when we get home."

"Yeah. You're probably right."

Scooting closer, Kaito wrapped an arm possessively around Shinichi's waist, pulling the detective back against his chest.

For a moment, they sat in comfortable silence, Shinichi resting lightly in his magician's embrace as they watched the sky in the water shift from blue to wispy white with gold.

"This place really is beautiful," Shinichi murmured then sighed. "So, were we going to the library?"

Kaito smiled. "Of course." Bouncing to his feet, he swept Shinichi up into his arms, earning an embarrassed squawk from the other boy, but he ignored it. Instead, he spread his wings and ran down the slope towards the lake, laughing even as Shinichi continued to demand to be put down.

Then he jumped, and Shinichi was clinging to him like his life depended on it and muttering angrily about lousy magicians with their penchant for being showy even as said magician's wings caught the wind. The water raced by so close that Kaito decided to grant it an audience with his feet. He half skipped across the lake for a few steps before taking off in a shower of water drops and black feathers.


"So, everyone's ready?" Kaito asked the small clearing at large. He, Shinichi, and Kazuha were the only people present, so it was perhaps too dramatic, but none of the others pointed this out to him.

"You seem to have a lot of baggage," Shinichi couldn't help but notice, looking at Kazuha's duffle. It was bulging all over, and was that a horn sticking out of the unzipped left side of the bag?

"There were just so many interesting things, I had to buy some to bring home so I can believe this all happened," she said a bit defensively. Of course, not all the clothes and accessories she had bought had been for her—or even for her friends. It was just that so much of it had been so exotic and fascinating that she had had to take it home for future examination.

The thing about demon clothes, Aoko had told her, was that there was no real difference between traditional demon clothes for men and for women. It was rather more important to consider how many arms and legs and heads a client might have than if they were male or female.

Of course, since human fashions were popular with the younger crowds, there were adaptations of human world designs in clothing for younger demons that could resemble what you'd expect. But then you'd turn around and find that that pair of jeans had a hole in the back for easy tail comfort. The things there were to consider were just so numerous and so bizarre, and she'd wanted some of these keepsakes as a reminder to herself about this world that she still couldn't quite believe.

"Just so you know, it's a general rule that you're responsible for your luggage," Kaito told the girl. "If it gets up one day and bites somebody, you're the one who's going to have to deal with the consequences."

Kazuha rolled her eyes to say she knew then paused. "Which one of these would bite somebody?"

"Well, that alligator pattern scarf I can see peeking out of your bag is pretty vicious. It's a Scarf Gator. Make sure you feed it once a month or it'll try to feed itself when you're not looking. It's particularly fond of hair."

Kazuha quickly fished the scarf out of her bag and laid it down on the grass. It unrolled, and the front end rose off the ground to look at her with yellow eyes, questioning. It looked a little sad.

"Uh," she started then stopped. "It's not that I don't like you or anything. I'm just not sure… I mean, it probably isn't wise to bring…"

Kaito saved her from the awkwardness by stepping in. "You can live in the closet under the first staircase on the mountain side of the castle," he said to the scarf. "There's a lot of old clothes in there that no one wants. There should be more than enough tide you over until I get back in a few weeks. Then I'll introduce you to Keiko. I'm sure she'd love to have you"

The scarf turned a happy shade of pink and slithered away.

"Clothes shops are not always separate from pet shops," the demon said by way of explanation, though whether he was talking to the gaping Kazuha or to Shinichi, neither human was quite sure.

"So then," he declared, indigo eyes gleaming. "Let's go home!"


After the wonders they had seen over the course of their stay in the world of magic, the city looked dull—almost fake. The towering buildings of glass and concrete, though impressive in their stature, looked cold and impersonal.

The streets were just as strange. Crammed with cars and people alike, they were a loud, chaotic mess. Yet though the colors of the vehicles' metal shells and people's clothes were numerous and bright, it was all so clearly artificial. There was very little of the natural vibrancy of the wilderness left under these skies.

Still, Shinichi reflected, for all its flaws, this was home. It was familiar, and, eventually, they would get used to it again, and it would be Kaito's world with all its amazing, incomprehensible things that felt like the dream.

"So where were we supposed to meet them again?" Shinichi asked, turning to Kaito. The magician was peering with great interest through the front window of a shop selling candy sculptures. At the moment, he had his eyes on a chocolate dragon two feet long sprawled upon a bed of cotton candy clouds. It had a candied kumquat in its jaws and spun sugar whiskers trailed in elegant wisps about its proud, draconic face.

"We're meeting at the Poirot Café," Kaito replied, eyes never leaving the chocolate dragon. "It's better than the police station 'cause we won't have as much to explain."

"We're meeting them at five, right?" Kazuha asked, checking her phone. The Kurobas had recharged it for her using one of their charging crystals. "We should go now or we'll be late."

"Just give me a moment." Straightening, Kaito opened the door to the candy shop and walked inside, making a beeline for the counter.

Shinichi and Kazuha watched him go, both bemused.

"Is he really going to buy it?" she asked, apparently in disbelief.

Shinichi only sighed. "Yes, he is." He just hoped Kaito had considered where he was going to keep it because Shinichi doubted even Kaito could eat that whole chocolate sculpture in one evening. Even if he could, Shinichi wasn't going to encourage it.

As they had predicted, Kaito emerged from the shop a few minutes later with a large, long box tucked under one arm and a very pleased expression.

"Now, we can go," he declared and set off at a brisk trot, forcing Shinichi and Kazuha to hurry to catch up to him.

When they entered the café, the first thing they saw was Takagi quailing under the glare of an irate Hattori Heiji.

"The hell that's what happened!" the Osakan detective was yelling. "I wasn't even there!{"

"Yes, we know, but it's just easier if you say you were."

"Ya can't just knock me out then expect me to do whatever you tell me to. How do I know I can even trust you?"


The dark-skinned boy froze. Slowly, he turned around in his seat. Green eyes grew wide. "K—Kazuha?"

The girl marched straight over to his table. Standing before him, she planted her hands on her hips and scowled. "What, do I look like a ghost to you or something? Jeez."

"Kazuha!" Leaping from his seat, Hattori wrapped his arms around his childhood friend in a tight embrace slightly complicated by her overstuffed duffle that shocked the girl as much as it did their friends. She flushed pink and tried to push him off, muttering under her breath that he was making a scene.

There was a moment of awkward silence in which Heiji and Kazuha avoided meeting each other's eyes as their audience watched on. Kaito opened his mouth to comment, but Shinichi jabbed an elbow into his side.

"You know, Shin-chan. You have really bony elbows."

Kaito's comment cracked the tension. Kazuha turned to greet Takagi as she slid into an empty seat next to the chair Heiji had been sitting in and tucked her duffle under the table. Her friend, however, had turned his attention to his fellow detective and said detective's roguish lookalike.

"Dude, you gotta tell me what happened. The last thing I remember, I went to see you guys, but I don't remember if I even got there. Then I wake up this morning and this lunatic," he jabbed a thumb at Takagi, "tries to tell me this nonsense about creatures from hell or whatever. Then when I tell 'im I wasn't buying his excuses, he spins this yarn about crazy cultists I apparently helped you lot save the kidnapped people from. I think he's lost his mind."

"No, no, that's not what I meant," Takagi tried to defend himself as all eyes turned his way. His wild, hand-waving outburst, however, got him the attention of the rest of the café's patrons as well. Realizing his mistake, he flashed a sheepish smile at the room at large then leaned forward to whisper urgently for the rest of them to please sit down.

The three young men did so, though Hattori still looked suspicious. The moment they were all seated, one of the waitresses drifted over to take their orders. She lingered rather a lot longer than she had to, peering at each of them in turn and probably spinning all sorts of odd theories in her head as she did so. But, finally, she was gone, and suddenly it seemed that time was up.

Kaito turned to level Takagi with an even stare. "You told him about demons?"

The police officer laughed nervously. "Well…"

Heiji snorted. "He sure did. Spouted all this crazy stuff about other worlds and magic. He even said you were some kind of demon royalty or whatever. You guys play Dungeons and Dragons in your free time together or something?"

It was the two demons' turn to stare at Heiji.

"Dungeons and what now?" Kaito raised his eyebrows. "We don't have much use for dungeons in our world, to be honest. You're more likely to be banished or demoted. Unless the crime is really severe. Then you just get executed."

"Wait, what?" Hattori spluttered. "Executed?"

"Law enforcement where we're from is a little more…personal," Kaito explained. "But I take it you were talking about something else."

"He was making a joke," Shinichi said dryly. "And it isn't important. Heiji, Takagi-keiji wasn't making things up or playing a game. He was being honest."

"You didn't hear what he said. He actually told me he was some magic thing from another world."

"Not a thing," Takagi protested, clearly growing exasperated. "A demon. And our world is just a normal world like yours. It's not the afterlife."

"I can vouch for that," Kazuha piped in. "You should have seen it! It was beautiful!"

Hattori choked on his water. "You—you were there? Can someone just please tell me what the hell is going on?!"

"We're trying," Kaito said, amused. "But you're not listening."

"I am listening," he argued. "You're just not making sense."

"I think this calls for a more direct approach," Shinichi sighed, rising from the table. "Takagi-keiji, can you and Kazuha stay here? We'll be right back."

The officer nodded, looking equal parts relieved and anxious.

Having an idea of what Shinichi was thinking, Kaito smirked. Bouncing out of his chair, he made a beeline for the café doors. "Come on, Hattori, your world is about to change."

"You sound like some carnival show master," the Osakan grumbled, but he let Shinichi and the magician usher him outside and down the street to the small park there. The place was deserted at this time of the evening.

Shinichi sat down on a swing. Heiji paced across the sand box then back then crossed his arms and looked from Shinichi to Kaito, who was juggling seven colorful balls, and back again.

"So what's this you're going to show me?"

"Oh, nothing really," Kaito began. "Just this." All seven of his juggling balls disappeared, transforming into flaming, golden butterflies that flew to circle Shinichi's head. There, they landed, making it look as though Shinichi was wearing a luminous wreath.

Heiji whistled. "Cool trick."

"It's not a trick," the demon said from behind the Osakan detective. "It's magic." As he uttered the last words, he unfolded his black wings.

Sensing the odd movement and hearing the rustle of feathers, Hattori tore his gaze from the butterflies and turned around—and nearly fell into the sandbox, mouth wide open.

"They're real," Shinichi said absently from where he was still sitting on the swing. He had coaxed one of the butterflies from his hair and was watching it flap its wings gently atop his fingertip. "He carried me with them before."

"So you knew?" Hattori demanded. "You knew that Kuroba was a…a…"

"Demon," Kaito supplied—much too eagerly, in Shinichi's opinion. "But we're not evil. Well, not most of us anyway. If you want to get really technical, you might even be able to say we're your distant cousins."

"It's a long story. And I'll explain everything," said Shinichi. "But it won't make any sense unless you're willing to believe at least that much. So…do you want to hear the story or not?"

"You also have option B," Kaito added.

"Yeah? What's that?"

"I can erase your memories of these last few hours and give you new ones in accordance to the story Takagi was trying to tell you earlier. Which, by the by, is the story the rest of the victims now believe and that the police will have in their files."

"You guys are seriously just going to hide everything that happened?" Hattori looked from Kaito to Shinichi, frowning. "You? Kudo, I thought you were better than that."

Shinichi flinched, and Kaito's eyes narrowed.

"I know it's a lie," Shinichi said quietly. "We're covering up what really happened to those people even from them, but that's all we can do. We want them to be able to go back to their lives. They wouldn't be able to do that thinking about another world."

Hattori hesitated. He couldn't in good conscience disagree. Even with Kaito standing right in front of him, wings and all, and the fiery golden butterflies still clinging to Shinichi, he was having a hard time wrapping his mind around the existence of…of people with magic. As for other worlds, well, that was even crazier. Even so, it just seemed wrong to him to cover the whole thing up.

"If it makes you feel any better," Kaito drawled, "most of the kidnap victims agreed to having their memories replaced."


"Several were too overwhelmed to communicate coherently."

"Too overwhelmed? What did the kidnappers do to them anyway?"

"Oh, so now he wants to hear the story."

Shinichi gave Kaito a warning look. The last thing they needed was for the magician and the Osakan detective to get into a fight.

"We should go back," he said instead, rising from the swing. "We can explain the whole story over dinner," he added when he saw Heiji's mouth begin to open. "But you're going to have to trust us when we say that we're telling the truth."

Heiji ran a hand through his hair then let out a short breath. "This still sounds crazy, but…I do believe you."

"Good." Kaito's wings vanished as he slung an arm over Shinichi's shoulders and began propelling the smaller boy back towards the café. "That'll make things easier. Now let's go see if our food's still hot. I'm starving!"

As he spoke, the golden butterflies took off in a flurry of flickering, fiery wings. In seconds, they had dissolved into streams of golden sparks that vanished without a trace into the chilly night air.

Hattori watched the last butterfly disappear before picking up his pace to catch up to his friends. Try as he might, he couldn't figure out how the butterflies had been conjured. So was this really magic?

It did seem to be the only plausible explanation at the moment, strange as it was to call something supernatural an explanation.

He sighed. This was going to take some getting used to.

They arrived back at their table to find Kazuha and Takagi in deep conversation about some magic world boutique. Had she just said something about some dress she'd wanted to buy except that the shop had run out of the version meant for bodies with only two arms?

"Oh, so are you ready to listen now?" Kazuha asked—rather unfairly, in Hattori's opinion. It wasn't his fault he was a normal person who didn't think magic and other worlds should be the first answer to turn to when strange things happened.

Dropping unceremoniously back into his chair, the Osakan detective grumbled, "Let's just get this over with."


A.N: Just one more chapter to go! :)