Disclaimer: I don't own the DCMK characters.
Pairing: Established KaiShin [KaitoxShinichi], HakuRan, HeiKazu
Summary: When magicians catch colds, it's time for everyone else to duck for cover. Flying glasses are the least of it.
Important Notes: This story is set in the same universe as "Illusions of the Sun" and "Diamonds in the Rain". It can be read separately, but it may be easier to follow if you've read Illusions. Chronologically, it would be the third in the series.
Fragments of Yesterday
1: The Beginning
It had started that morning on the way to the grocery store when Kaito noticed Shinichi giving him a look that was somewhere between exasperated disappointment and concern.
"What is it?" he'd asked, confused. He couldn't remember having done anything that could have elicited such a peculiar reaction from his oracle. Nor could he think of anything regarding their errand that might warrant it.
"I told you that you should have worn a coat out yesterday," the smaller boy sighed. "Why didn't you listen to me?"
"…Because it wasn't that cold."
That earned him another of those looks. He didn't much like that look. So he leaned in to plant a quick kiss on Shinichi's nose, making the boy go cross-eyed. Then he looped an arm through Shinichi's and dragged him into the store before he could say any more.
It wasn't until that afternoon that he understood what Shinichi had meant.
An instant later, the cup Kaito had been drinking out of shot across the room and smashed against the wall, sending water droplets spraying in every direction and leaving a wet stain on the wall and the floor below. Shinichi jumped, the book he'd been reading dropping from his hands and landing on the ground with a loud thud. A crash echoed from the kitchen followed by hurried footsteps.
"What happened?" Chikage asked as she burst into the living room to find her son blinking at his upraised hand like it was supposed to be holding something and Shinichi on his hands and knees, picking up shattered pieces of glass.
"It was just a sneeze," Kaito replied, scratching the back of his head. "Sorry about the cup. I didn't mean for that to happen."
Chikage relaxed, smiling faintly. "It's okay. As long as no one was hurt. Hold on Shinichi, let me get the broom. You don't want to cut your hands on that."
"Let me," Kaito cut in. He waved a hand at the glass, and the shards rose in a glittering flock to soar away and into the kitchen trash can.
Chikage gave the trash can a long, thoughtful look before turning back to the boys. "Dinner is ready. Set the table, and I'll get the curry."
They were all seated around the small, kitchen table when Kaito sneezed again. He had the presence of mind to turn away from the food, but that didn't stop the curry from turning bright blue. Shinichi paused with his spoon halfway to his mouth. Chikage hesitated with hers still buried in her bowl. Kaito cursed.
"Damn, sorry about that." He snapped his fingers at the curry.
It changed from bright blue to creamy purple.
The magician's eyebrows twitched. He snapped his fingers again. This time the curry became a soft, cherry blossom pink. It looked kind of like lumpy icing, but it still smelled very much like curry. The contrast was more than a little disconcerting.
"Maybe you should just leave it be," Chikage said gently when Kaito made to try again.
"It still tastes okay," Shinichi added, swallowing the spoonful he'd been holding.
Dinner resumed. And if they were all eating a little faster than normal, no one commented on it. They had just swallowed their last bites of curry when all the water in their cups evaporated in a cloud of steam.
"You can't go to school like this," Chikage said into the ensuing silence. "I'll call them tomorrow morning and let them know you're sick. I can take the day off work."
Kaito frowned. "But didn't you say the bakery got a large order for tomorrow? They'll need you. I'll be fine by myself." The words had no sooner left his mouth when he sneezed again. The light above his head shattered. All three of them ducked as yet more bits of broken glass littered the ground around them and clattered over the dining table. It was a good thing they had all finished eating or they'd have been picking glass out of their food.
"I still think there should be someone with you," Chikage said, giving the glass a pointed look. "I know you can't control these…power outbursts, but I think it would be safer for everyone if you aren't alone. I'd hate for the house to burn down."
"I can stay home," Shinichi offered. "I'm sure our teachers will let us make up any work we miss."
And so it was decided. Kaito still didn't think he needed someone to stay home and look after him, but he wasn't going to object. He didn't want Shinichi going to school without him anyway. He much preferred to keep Shinichi close by where he could keep an eye on him.
Ran was the first to notice that Kaito and Shinichi were absent. Their two resident detectives might have noticed sooner if they hadn't been busy arguing about a case they had both read about in the paper that morning.
"Do you think something might have happened?" Ran asked in a worried whisper as, all around them, the students readied themselves for the start of class.
Distracted from their bickering, the two detectives traded worried glances. If they had been talking about anyone else, they would have assumed that it was just your everyday kind of absence. The missing persons could have overslept or gone to a doctor's appointment. They could be sick or possibly even out on a family trip. Since they were talking about a certain magician and his oracle, however… Well, those two had been abnormal from the day they'd transferred to this school. And after the kidnapping incident and the ghost (and all the other little pieces of weirdness that had cropped up in between), it was anyone's guess what could have happened this time.
Unfortunately, they still had a whole day of classes ahead of them.
"We should swing by their place after school," Hattori said.
On cue, the bell rang, and the teacher rose from behind her desk.
It was when lunch time rolled around that they finally got their answer. It came in the form of Hattori's cell phone ringing. He answered it, and the exclamation of "Oh, Shinichi!" brought everyone else in their little group running over instantly.
"You two are home sick?" he asked incredulously. The magician who could part storms and flatten mountains had actually caught a cold? It sounded preposterous. It just went to show how there were some things that no one had the power to do anything about.
"So you're both basically all right," he said, and the tight coil of tension that had been tying his stomach in knots all morning abruptly unraveled and melted away. No, their friends weren't being pursued by dastardly criminals this time. Nor were they in the hospital. They were just your everyday kind of sick.
"We're fine," Shinichi assured him, feeling like he'd already repeated himself half a dozen times today. "But there are a few things I need you to do for me."
"Yeah? Just tell me, and I'll get it done," he said.
"Hang an 'Out of Order' sign on the bathroom doors near the front office. You need to do that soon. The signs are in the janitor's closet right next to the restrooms. The lock on that door is broken, so you shouldn't have any problem getting in. After that, let me see…" There was the crinkle of turning pages. "Make sure you know where the fire extinguisher in the chemistry classroom is today, and have Ran sit next to the window. At ten before the end of Lab, you need to get all the students and the teacher out of that room. Shut the door, and don't go inside again until you can't hear anything."
"What? What the hell are you going on about?"
"Wait, there's one more. At about twenty three minutes before the end of the last class period, you have to pull the fire alarm."
"What? Pull the fire alarm? But—"
"Sorry. I have to go."
"Wait, First tell me why—" The dark-skinned detective cut himself off then turned to glare at his unresponsive phone. "He hung up on me," he ground out. "The hell was that about? He just goes and dumps a load of weird instructions on us and expects us to do it all without an explanation?"
"If you're done, we would appreciate an explanation ourselves," Hakuba said pointedly.
"Yeah, yeah. He said they—well, Kaito anyway—caught a cold. And then he listed a bunch of stuff that he wants us to do."
"Like what?" asked Ran. "Do they need us to help them pick up medicine?"
The dark-skinned boy snorted. "Nothing like that." He quickly recounted what he could remember of Shinichi's to-do list to the growing confusion of his friends.
"We don't have the authority to do such things," Hakuba said when he was done. The blonde had a frown etched between his brows. Though the list was most definitely bizarre, he couldn't help but feel that they couldn't just ignore it all. They were, after all, instructions from a person who could see into the future. Surely he had his reasons. On the other hand, what reasons could possibly warrant such strange precautions?
"I…guess we could at least put up the 'out of order' sign," Ran said a bit uncertainly. "I mean, it's just for today. And, well, I'd rather be safe than sorry, you know?"
Since neither detective could argue with that logic, the three of them slipped away from the rest of the chattering students busy at their lunches. They found that the janitor's closet was, indeed, unlocked. The signs were right where Shinichi had said they would be too. By now, this didn't surprise any of them. But it was still a tiny bit unsettling.
So, trying not to feel like they had suddenly all become delinquent pranksters, they put the sign on the door to the boy's bathroom right next to the janitor's closet. Before they did so, however, Hattori couldn't resist a peek inside.
The bathroom looked exactly how it was supposed to. Not a single thing was out of place. He turned on the faucets to see if they were working, and they were. He moved to flush a toilet to see if that was working, and it was. So he was on his way out, puzzling over what the point of the whole escapade was, when suddenly every faucet in the bathroom turned on at the same time.
And they didn't just turn on. They practically exploded. Water jetted out of those faucets so hard that the spray they made dashing against the sides of the sinks sloughed like waves over the counters and across the bathroom floor. A particularly wild spout shot out almost horizontally to catch Hattori square in the chest.
He stumbled back at the force of the blow. His shoes slipped on the wet tiles, and he went over backward with a cry.
A pale hand seized his arm, steadying him. Then it was pulling him out of the waterworks and back to the safety of the hall.
A moment later, the bathroom door banged shut, and the 'Out of Order' sign swung happily and oh so innocently back into place.
"That," Hattori coughed, trying to clear his throat of the burning feeling you get when water goes up your nose or down the wrong pipe. "That was crazy!"
"Give me that list." Ran snatched the list from Hakuba's notebook and read it over again. "So, fire extinguisher. That part should be easy," she murmured to herself, running one finger down the blonde's neatly handwritten items. "But pulling the fire alarm…"
"I think we got no choice," Hattori said grimly, staring down at the soaked front of his shirt. "But first, I'm gonna go change. Good thing I still have my gym clothes."
Later that day, their chemistry lab caught fire. Fortunately, Hattori had had his hand ready to grab the fire extinguisher the entire time, so the flames leapt up then died a fast and foamy death mere moments later.
Ran, being the only student still seated by the window while the lab had its little fireworks show, was the only person who saw a long parade of…of tree people. She couldn't think of any other way to describe them. They were vaguely human in shape, but their bodies were made up of branches and flowers all woven expertly together into beautiful if slightly creepy life forms.
They crossed the lawn below the classroom window in a slow, shambling line. Then, as they reached the far side of the field, they vanished as though they had never been.
Ran didn't tell anyone about what she'd seen. She might have, but Hakuba had realized that it was time to evacuate.
So the blonde had not so accidentally dropped something he shouldn't have into one of the chemical solutions. It hissed and began to give off yellow smoke.
Students gasped, some screamed, but several wanted to get a better look. The teacher, however, knew better.
"Hold your breaths and get outside!" he ordered at the top of his lungs. "That gas is harmful to your body. Don't breathe it in!" That said, he moved to throw open the windows as his students escaped. Ran, who was already by the windows, helped.
They had no sooner shut the door then the sounds started. There were snarls and yelps and crashes and bangs. There might even have been a shriek or two, though since no one was inside the room, none of them had any idea what could have produced the cry. The whole class stood frozen in the hallway with their eyes fixed on the door and their imaginations running rampant in their heads. It was a good half hour before the noises stopped.
They stopped so abruptly that no one noticed until Hattori wondered aloud if it was safe to go back inside yet.
The science teacher insisted that he open the door. When he did, his face went the color of old milk, and he sank to his knees.
His classroom had been completely trashed. Test tubes and beakers lay all over the floor, many of them smashed. The tables had long furrows gouged out of them like they'd been raked by massive claws. One table had been completely reduced to matchsticks. And the whiteboard had turned a flawless, neon green.
That was the day that the tale of the ghost of the chemistry classroom was born.
By this point, none of the three errand runners had much in the way of qualms left in regards to pulling the fire alarm when no fire was yet apparent. At the rate things had been going, the school could easily find itself at the heart of a volcanic eruption.
There was no volcanic eruption. But, the moment all the students had gathered on the lawn, every window on the school building blazed a brilliant orange. It was the color of firelight, and it flickered like firelight, but there was something not quite right about its motion to the two resident detectives' experienced eyes. It was like the fire or whatever it was was rushing this way and that through the building. There was no smoke either. Then, with a suddenness that made everyone jump, half the windows blew outward in a shower of glittering, glass shards.
Several people screamed. Many leapt or stumbled back and fell. Even the firefighters who'd just arrived stopped in their tracks to gape.
What astonished them all even more was the way the glass suddenly flew back into the window frames, piecing themselves together like so many jigsaw puzzles. In no time at all, every window was back to the way it had been. Even the cracks disappeared. And now, all was still once more.
"That…was really weird," a boy near the front of the crowd said. Not a single person present disagreed.
The firefighters warned everyone to remain outside as they ventured into the building to investigate. When they returned, they reported that all appeared to be in order. The only thing was that, for some reason, every single ruler in the school had snapped into perfect halves. That, and every whiteboard in every classroom was now covered in crazy, scrawling lines of nonsense.
Ran shivered. "That's so creepy."
"No kidding," Kazuha agreed. She'd joined her friends during the evacuation. "And did you see the way the windows repaired themselves? It was like magic!" She cut herself off abruptly as her eyes grew wide. "Wait, was it…?"
"He and Shinichi are both home sick today," Hattori said, lowering his voice. "So it can't be him…"
Hakuba looked skeptical. "You think not?"
There was a long silence during which they all looked at each other. It was Kazuha who eventually broke the silence.
"Well, I'd rather think it was him than that it was some ghost haunting our school."
Opening the medicine cabinet, Shinichi frowned at its contents. There really wasn't much in there. They had a few things for dealing with headaches, Band-Aids, and a handful of other products for dealing with cuts and scrapes. They didn't have anything for colds.
He frowned and shut the cabinet door. He'd meant to buy some last time they'd been at the store. But then he'd noticed that somehow, when he'd been distracted, the oranges had morphed into an extra bag of chocolate. He'd switched the items back and rushed the cart through checkout before any more of the items could mysteriously transform into sweets. And so he'd forgotten to swing by the medicine aisle.
He padded into the kitchen and filled a mug with warm water. Then he squeezed a slice of lemon into it because he'd heard that was good for colds. Mug in hand, he returned to his and Kaito's room.
The magician was sitting on their bed with his back against a pile of pillows and a book open on his lap. A comic book, Shinichi observed. One that Hattori had lent the magician last week.
"Kai," he said softly. "I brought you more water."
He noted with worry the way that Kaito reacted a split second slower than he usually would have.
Slightly unfocused, indigo eyes met his from over a lopsided grin. "Thanks Shin-chan. I think I've discovered one of the fundamental laws of the universe."
Shinichi handed him the mug. "Really?"
"Yep. Being sick sucks."
"…Oh." Shinichi blinked. "I need to head to the store and pick up some fever medicine."
Indigo eyes narrowed instantly, all signs of fogginess gone. "You can call and ask mom to get it on her way back."
"You need the medicine now," the oracle said pointedly, though he hadn't moved to touch the thermometer sitting on the desk of the nightstand. "It won't take long."
"Then I'll go with you. A quick walk in the fresh air should be good for recovery."
Kaito swung his legs over the side of the bed and moved to stand, but Shinichi held up a hand to stop him. Without a word, the oracle pointed to Kaito's right hand. The magician followed the direction of his finger to see that there were little, multicolored sparks leaping from his fingertips.
"Oops," he muttered, brows furrowing. The sparks stopped dancing around his right hand. Instead, they began to spiral around his left. Annoyed, he waved the hand like someone shooing away flies. A small gout of flames blazed through the air.
Shinichi jerked back in alarm. When he was sure nothing was going to catch fire, he looked back at Kaito. He didn't say anything. He didn't have to.
Kaito grimaced. "Fine. I'll stay here. But if you're not back in half an hour, I'm going to go look for you."
Shinichi loved the grocery store. He suspected others would find his fascination with the place to be quite odd, but, for him, it represented a kind of freedom that would never get old. It was always so bright and full of new and refreshing things. He marveled at the neat pyramids of produce and the shelves upon shelves of boxed and canned foods. It was an endless sea of choices. It was wonderful in a day to day life kind of way.
The medicine aisle wasn't one he'd visited much though. Shinichi found himself standing between two rows of shelves all covered in boxes of different colors and labels. Some were simple and straight forward, others made no sense. Several of them sounded like the same thing in different packaging. How was he supposed to tell which one was better?
Shinichi hovered in front of the cold medication for several minutes before deciding to pick the one that looked the most familiar. He had just reached the end of the line in front of the cash register when the doors to the grocery store suddenly burst inward.
Two large men came charging in. They had wooly hats pulled low over their faces and ski masks on to hide their features. Both were armed.
"Stay where you are and don't move!" the taller one bellowed, brandishing his weapon. "If anyone calls the police, you're all dead. Now, you at the register, give us all the money you got in there."
For a moment, no one reacted. None of them could quite believe that this was happening. The reality of the situation was only just sinking in when it happened.
Out of nowhere, a bolt of lightning smashed through the grocery store's front doors and caught the taller robber in the back. He let out a gargled scream as his hair stood on end. Then he collapsed to the ground, still smoldering. His partner in crime turned at his cry and let out a pained scream of his own as a second bolt of lightning struck him square in the chest. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he landed in a graceless heap on the floor as well.
The young man behind the cash register whistled. "Now that's what I call divine punishment."
There was a scattering of laughter and applause. Then a few of the onlookers set about unmasking and restraining the unconscious robbers while another of the store clerk's picked up the phone to call the police.
Preoccupied with willing the checkout line to move faster, it took Shinichi several seconds to realize that the strange buzzing sound in his ears was his cell phone. The little device was a recent acquisition (a plain, silver thing that Sonoko had called a fossil), and he still wasn't entirely used to its presence. He often forgot it even existed. When the vibrating phone finally registered, Shinichi fumbled hurriedly through his pockets.
"Hey Shinichi, it's Heiji. We just got to your house but no one's answering the door. Are you out or something?"
"What? Oh, uh, yes, I needed to go buy fever medication. Did you guys need something?"
"Need something?" the teen on the other end of the phone repeated, puzzled. "No, we just came to see how you guys were." There was a murmur of voices in the background. "Oh, and Ran brought some stuff from home to make soup." Then, away from the phone but still audible, "Why in the world did you bring a pot too? I'm sure they have pots."
"But this is the one I'm used to using," Ran's voice replied. "And besides, they could be using the pots they have for other things."
"That was rather thoughtful of you," a third voice said.
"Oh, um, thank you, but really, it was nothing."
"So how long are you gonna be out?" Heiji continued, returning to the phone. "We can wait."
"That won't be necessary. I put a spare key in the flowerbed this morning."
"Just this morning huh?"
"Yes." He had had the feeling that he should, though he hadn't known why until just now. "Count six flowers from the left then two in. It should be under that one."
"Let's see…five, six…and two… Got it! We'll let ourselves in then. You don't mind if we use the kitchen, right?"
"No, it's fine. I'll be back soon."
"Cool. See ya."
Shinichi paid for his purchase on autopilot. There was something niggling at the back of his mind. Something about that conversation…
He was waiting at the traffic light when he realized what it was. Fishing his phone out, he dialed Heiji's number.
"Yo, not very good timing," the detective said the moment he picked up. "Carryin' a bowl of hot soup here."
"Sorry. I just wanted to ask, did Kaito greet you guys when you went in?"
"Huh? Uh, no." Heiji sounded confused. "We figured he was asleep."
Shinichi frowned slightly. That was possible. Still, it was strange for Kaito not to have reacted to the presence of visitors. He would have known it wasn't Shinichi because Shinichi wouldn't ring the doorbell. And neither of them had grown comfortable enough around others yet to stay quietly in bed when there were guests, even if those guests were people they were beginning to consider friends. Could Kaito have already left the house? But it hadn't been half an hour yet.
"Hey, his room is the first one at the top of the stairs, right?" Heiji asked. There was the sound of a door opening then a pause. "Whoa, that's really weird."
"What is?" Shinichi demanded. "Is Kaito there?"
"Yeah. He's sleeping. But the air in the room is kinda glowing. Hold on, just let me put this soup down—"
"No, don't go in!" he shouted into the phone moments before a loud crash came across the line. His stomach turned over with worry. "Hello? Are you all right? Heiji!"
The voice that answered was shaky but clear. "I—yeah, yeah, I'm fine. But the tray… It—it just—dissolved!"
Shinichi winced, partly at the sheer volume of the exclamation and partly at the images that flashed through his mind.
He still remembered the first time Kaito had gotten like this. The magician didn't get sick often. It had only ever happened twice in his life—well, before now anyway—and both instances had been… The oracle shook his head. He still remembered what had happened to that poor guard who'd been assigned the job of delivering cold medication to their rooms that first time. Fortunately for him, his arm had been the only part of him to cross the threshold. His screams and the sight of his arm dissolving into ashes had haunted Shinichi's dreams—or rather nightmares—for weeks afterwards.
"Please don't go into that room," he said, breaking into a run the moment the walk light blinked on. "I'll be back in a few minutes."
A.N: When I started this, it was supposed to be something short and funny, but it ended up becoming something a bit more serious. There should only be three or four chapters though. In any case, hope you enjoyed it and have a great week!