Disclaimer: I don't own the DCMK characters.
Fragments of Yesterday
3: Old Promises
Ran had been watching the chicken soup simmer on the stove when the lights over her head flickered. Hakuba looked up from his seat at the dining table where he was sorting through the papers in his backpack for the assignments that they were supposed to be passing on to Kaito and Shinichi. All the lights in the kitchen went out for a second before coming back on again.
"That's certainly peculiar," the detective observed, frowning. If it had been only one bulb flickering then it could have been a simple case of a dying bulb. This, however, was clearly something different.
"I suppose there's something wrong with the power lines," Ran said a little uncertainly. Power outages were normal after all, but she couldn't shake the uneasy feeling creeping over her. Her gaze drifted to the lights directly above her, half expecting them to go out again. She was so focused on the lights that she didn't notice Hakuba rising from the kitchen table until he spoke, his voice a sharp, sudden crack in the silence.
"Ran, the soup!"
Confused, she looked back down—and stared. The translucent, gold liquid inside the pot was bubbling, which would have been normal for a liquid on the verge of boiling if not for the fact that the frothing lot of it had exceeded the sides of its metal container. Being an experienced cook, Ran knew how much a pot could hold without boiling over, and she knew she had measured everything correctly, but the soup wasn't simply bubbling out of the pot. It was rising like a geyser straight up in a frothing, yellow gold pillar. Even as she stumbled back with a cry, ladle flailing, the soup had completely risen free of its former confiner and was now twisting and contorting into odd shapes in mid air over the stove. First it was simply a mass of undulating, ripples. Then it was a serpent writhing in the shape of a figure eight before it drew in on itself and unfurled again into a demonic face with eyes that were nothing but holes in its liquid mask and a shapeless mouth that gaped open wider and wider as the thing advanced.
Ran knew she was screaming. She had never liked ghost stories, and her recent introduction to the reality of the existence of supernatural beings and powers was still a shock she was getting used to—a shock that she would call unpleasant except that she didn't want to hurt her new friends feelings. They had suffered enough because of their abilities.
But this… This was like something out of her nightmares.
The steaming, hissing face flew straight at her, mouth stretching as though it was going to swallow her whole. Ad all she could smell was hot chicken soup, which might have made the creature—thing, ghost?—rather comical if it hadn't been so absolutely terrifying.
With another scream, she lashed out at it with her ladle. There was a swish and a splatter, and suddenly the floor was covered in soup.
On cue, the whole house shook. The floor heaved. Ran stumbled and would have fallen if not for the hand that closed around her arm. She looked around to see a white-faced Hakuba holding a heavy math textbook in one hand as he stared at the rest of his books. All of them were rising from the table where they had been lying, and they were beginning to whirl in circles over the dining table like a mad merry-go-round. One jetted out of the flock straight at him, but he bashed it out of the air with the math textbook.
"We have to get out of here. Now."
Ran wasn't going to argue.
The girl and the detective stumbled into the front hall to find Heiji picking himself up off the floor at the foot of the stairs. He was cursing loudly. Lying not far from where the dark-skinned teen had been was Shinichi, who wasn't moving.
"Shinichi?" Running to the oracle's side, Ran knelt down beside him and turned him over. Shinichi's eyes were closed. There was a large bruise forming on the side of his face. When Ran tried to shake him awake, he let out a pained whimper. She stopped quickly.
"What happened?" Hakuba demanded, still holding his textbook like a weapon.
"I dunno," Heiji snapped. "Kuroba's magic's gone ballistic. We gotta get out of this house."
Hakuba was already at the front door. Heiji crouched next to Shinichi, and Ran helped him get the unconscious oracle onto his back.
Outside, the world was going mad. The sky blazed through every color imaginable, blinking from one to the next and back again like it was channel surfing. Up and down the street, people were opening windows and spilling out of doorways to gawk heavenward.
"We can head over to my house," Ran offered. "It's the closest."
Having no better ideas, the boys agreed. All three cast wary looks back at the house they had just left before setting off down the street. There were lights in the windows—strange, twisting lights that flickered like fire, tracing nonsense symbols against the glass. It was enough to make the hair on the backs of their necks stand on end. On the bright side, nothing outside the house was flying about and trying to bash their faces in.
The fact that that could change at any moment went unsaid, but Ran was pretty sure that they were all thinking it. Best to put some distance between themselves and the source until things quieted down. Hopefully Shinichi would wake up soon. If anyone would know how to solve this predicament, it would be him.
Tense and silent, the three teens wove their way through the crowd thickening on the streets.
"Maybe it's an aurora," Ran heard a young boy suggest to his two friends.
"It can't be," the one girl in the trio said, though she didn't sound all that certain of her statement. "Auroras are only supposed to happen at the North Pole. That's why they're called the Northern Lights, right?"
"Maybe it's some kind of special effect," the second boy said. "They must be filming a movie somewhere nearby."
The first boy shook his head. "We'd have heard about a project that big being filmed right here in town. I think it's probably some kind of new climate phonomi…uh, phona—phenomenon. Yeah, that's it. It's part of global warming. The weather everywhere is going crazy."
"That doesn't look like any kind of weather to me," his large friend grumped. "I bet it's aliens."
Further down the street, two women were standing on the fringe of the local park.
"Has that always been there?" one was asking. She was pointing to a large, stone lion that was standing in the middle of the grassy field that served as the heart of the little park.
"I don't think so," her friend said slowly. "It looks so real…"
As if to answer her, the lion opened its rough, stony jaws and roared.
The women screamed and bolted. The lion threw back its head and roared again. Then it exploded in an expanding cloud of glittering, silver dust and crackles of blue lightning.
And those were the calmest of the cries of the storm.
As Ran, Heiji, and Hakuba made their way towards he Mouri house, they saw lamp posts sprout long, skinny arms and legs and yank themselves out of the ground. They had to make a detour around a major intersection because there was a sudden and ferocious snowstorm. It swamped the entire intersection with snow, burying a dozen cars in the process. At the next corner, a pillar of fire suddenly erupted out of a woman's tote bag. She shrieked and flung it away from her, but the flames kept spewing forth like the tote was a singularly strange flamethrower.
Traffic came to a screeching halt as cries of horror and confusion filled the air.
As though answering to the rising flames, a nearby fire hydrant suddenly spat out a jet of water. It rushed across the street in a white torrent that spiraled upward into a watery twister. The pillar of fire answered in kind, beginning to spin. Faster and faster they whirled until both exploded outward.
People screamed. Stationary cars disgorged terrified passengers. Everyone had the same thought in mind: run. Only a scant few lingered. Most of these were teenagers standing with their cell phones up, snapping pictures and recording videos with the special kind of fearlessness born from youth and inexperience that said injury and death were things that happened to other people.
Skirting around the disaster zone, Ran prayed that those gawking teens would not be learning their lesson today.
"Kai?" The whispered name left his lips so tentatively that Shinichi wasn't at all sure he had spoken it aloud. But then the warm body lying next to him stirred.
"What is it?"
"I… I can't sleep."
Kaito shifted to wrap his arms around the smaller boy, pulling him closer and tucking Shinichi's head under his chin. "What's on your mind?"
There was a long moment of silence before Shinichi spoke. His words were warm puffs against Kaito's neck. "I'm afraid."
The arms around him tightened. "Did you have a vision?"
"No, it's not that. I was just thinking…"
"I… I'm afraid that I'm going to forget."
He could sense Kaito's confusion even if he couldn't see a thing in the darkness behind his closed eyelids.
"What do you think you'll forget?"
"I…" He paused, drawing in a ragged breath as he struggled to find the words to describe the fear that had begun to gnaw at him. That cold, suffocating sensation that had taken root in his chest… "Everything," he said finally. "About the past. And the outside. I'm afraid I'm going to forget the color of the sky and what the stars look like. I'm afraid I'm going to forget what the wind feels like and how warm the sun is when you're standing underneath it. Sometimes, I think I'm forgetting Mom and Dad's faces. And I…It just feels like I'm slipping away. It's like everything we had was a dream. None of it feels real anymore. The house, the library, that park we used to play at, the little magic shows your dad put on for us when the weather was bad and we couldn't go outside. Do you remember those?"
"I do," Kaito murmured, soft breaths ruffling the hair on top of Shinichi's head. "Like that time Dad was watching us while our mothers were out shopping and your dad was at a book signing. You just got your own soccer ball, and we were going to go to the park. You were going to teach me how to play. But then the storm blew in, and Tou-san said we had to stay inside. He saw how disappointed we were, so he put on a show for us in your living room."
"I think that was the first time I saw him using doves in his tricks," Shinichi recalled.
Kaito chuckled, the sound more a vibration in his chest than an actual sound. "Yeah. He made your soccer ball explode into a flock of white and black doves. You thought he'd actually popped your first soccer ball. You were so horrified you cried."
Shinichi wrinkled his nose but laughed too, curling closer to Kaito's warmth. "Hey, I was only, like, five."
"True. Then he had the birds fly back, and they all came together and became a ball again."
"It was the best piece of magic I'd ever seen."
"I could do it too, you know," Kaito said. "I've gotten really good at controlling the magic."
The moment of exuberance subsided as Shinichi buried his face more firmly against Kaito's shoulder. "I know," he said. And he did. Too well. He knew of the power growing in his best friend's soul. The power that had once been a crackling light ready to explode across the sky like fireworks and summer snow now burned like icy fire.
"I don't want to forget any of it," he whispered, though whether he was talking to himself or to Kaito or to some invisible third entity with the threads of fate in their hands, even he had no idea. "If we forget then we won't be who we were anymore. And I'm afraid of what would be left."
"That's silly. You'll always be you, just like I'll always be me."
Shinichi made a noncommittal sound that ne knew Kaito would interpret as agreement and wished, quietly, that it would be true even though he could already see them both changing. It was all too easy to see the change in the cold steel behind the deep indigo of Kaito's eyes.
Kaito wrinkled his nose. He couldn't see Shinichi's face, but he could tell that his friend was still worrying. Shinichi always did like to over think things. In Kaito's opinion, things were dour enough as they were without going out of their way to look for things to be depressed about.
"Come on." Sitting up abruptly, Kaito swung his legs over the side of the bed. Then he dragged Shinichi up to sit next to him. All around them, the little bedroom was nothing but a haze of black and blacker shadows.
"There!" Kaito said triumphantly as he raised his left hand, his right still tightly grasping Shinichi's own.
And there in the darkness before them, tiny lights blossomed. They filled the molasses darkness until every swath of shadow was dusted with sugar crystals.
Shinichi could only gaze upon the ethereal scene in wonder.
"We won't forget any of it," Kaito told him, and it was both a promise and a command. "I'll make sure of it. And one day we'll all see real stars again."
Shinichi had to smile then as a great weight lifted from his chest because Kaito really was still Kaito.
His head throbbed.
Letting out a quiet groan, Shinichi pried open his eyes. He got the impression of movement and heard a strange, dry rustling rather like leaves being tossed in a wind except louder and more rhythmic. Woozy and disoriented, it took him a long moment to understand what he was seeing.
There was a…a flock of papers in the air above him. Each sheaf was flapping its ends like they were wings as it soared around and around the room, darting and diving just like ungainly and extremely flat birds. A few, much larger flying papers were clearly the pages from a newspaper. Others were printouts or pieces of binder paper. There were so many of the flapping things that he caught only fleeting glimpses of the ceiling past their beating 'wings'.
It was a bizarre but spectacular sight, and Shinichi spent several long moments just watching the papers in their flittering flight. He supposed he should be more surprised, but growing up with Kaito had rendered him somewhat immune to odd awakenings.
It was the thought of Kaito and his many antics that abruptly reminded Shinichi of what had happened.
With a cry, he sat bolt upright only to groan again as a sharp pain lanced through his skull. He heard voices rising from some other point in the room before hands grabbed his shoulders to steady him.
"Don't move so fast," a girl's voice—Ran, he thought—urged. "You hit your head pretty hard when you fell down the stairs."
"My head?" he echoed, raising a hand to feel along his scalp. Touching a lump, he winced. He had definitely gotten a bruise there. And another on the side of his face, if the swollen feeling in his cheek and the tenderness of the area when he touched it were any indication. That would explain his pounding head.
"Where are we?" he asked. Though his vision was still fuzzy, he could clearly make out that this was not anywhere in the little house he shared with the Kurobas. This was an apartment. A spacious one with a large desk by a comfortably furnished sitting area. He suspected many of the flock flapping about over their heads had come from that desk as it was now strewn with empty manila folders.
Shinichi himself had been lying on a couch. Sitting there now, he could see that the sky outside the apartment was green.
It was still green.
Then he looked up at the flock of papers.
Called by some inner voice—an instinct, perhaps, he rose shakily to his feet despite Ran's protests. Seeing that he wasn't going to lie back down, she waved Hattori over, and the two of them supported Shinichi as the oracle made his way across the apartment to the windows and looked outside.
None of the teens had done this since they had arrived in the Mouri apartment. At first, it had been because they were busy making sure that Shinichi hadn't suffered a concussion. Then it was so that they could make themselves a quick meal. Grumbling stomachs never helped people think. Then all the papers in the apartment had taken flight, and that had been awe-inspiring enough to keep all their eyes trained inward until now.
The street outside was nothing like it had been when they had first arrived. Four teens stood in crowded about the window, gazing in rapt attention and growing awe and disbelief.
Everything was going mad.
A.N: The last part will take a bit longer. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!