DISCLAIMER: Magic Kaito is not mine, but belongs Gosho Aoyama. Used without permission. This piece belongs to Frances Marie, do not post or steal without consent.

A card trick's steps are revealed as a part of this work. You've been warned.

Vignette. Kaito's thoughts on magic, destiny, his father, and his friend.

Comments needed and welcome.


Mirror Image

I can remember the first time my father showed me how a magic trick worked. I was six. It was a very basic card trick. He called it "mirror image." He was always showing me card tricks or sleight-of-hand whenever he had a moment, when my mother was preparing dinner or any other time we had nothing to do. Even in our kitchen he was a performer.

We were sitting at the kitchen table, he and I, and he asked me to shuffle the deck once. He cut the deck, and lifted the top card. It was red, and he placed it face up on one end of the table, then without looking placed the next card underneath. He then lifted the third card and showed it to me. It was black, and he placed it on the side opposite the red card, also face up, and put the next card in the deck underneath without looking. He put one card under the red card and the next card under the black card methodically through the whole deck until he ran out of cards.

Then he flipped all the cards over. The pile underneath the red card was a mass of black faces. The pile underneath the black card was composed of all red cards.

Can you see why it's called "mirror image" now? he said cheerfully.

I couldn't figure it out.

Think about it, son, he said gently. You can understand on your own how I did it.

So I sat at the kitchen table and sifted through those cards. I sat for so long that my father eventually left me alone at the table. I mimicked his movements, his gestures as well as mine over and over again. But I couldn't understand it. I couldn't figure out how my father could make a perfectly ordinary deck follow his pattern.

I don't really remember how long I sat there. But my dad soon came back. I was crying in frustration by that point, and he sat across from me and gathered the cards to him carefully, taking his time.

When I dried my eyes enough to see, my father smiled at me. He didn't look frustrated or disappointed with me, though he might have been. He just held up the reshuffled deck.

This is the deck I had before I asked you to shuffle it. Look through it, he said, and he handed it to me.

Halfheartedly I took the cards. I'd already gone through them so many times I was sure there was nothing new I could possibly find. But I obeyed.

Throughout the deck, the cards were set in an alternating pattern of red, black, red, black. They had been tampered with before the trick ever began.

Do you understand now? he asked. Preparation, the first rule of magic. Every trick, no matter how spontaneous, requires it, he explained. Prepare your mind, prepare your will, prepare your audience, prepare your hand.

I had to ask what spontaneous meant before I really understood. But I never forgot that first trick, that "mirror image." I'm not upset that I didn't figure it out or something stupid like that; I was six, and I didn't know any better. I don't use it though, not sure why not. I only used that trick once.

I showed it to Aoko the next day. We'd only met awhile before that, a few months before, I think, but we were already on a first-name basis. It's funny, I can remember how I met her better than almost anything -- it's right up there with my first heist and, you know, my dad dying -- but I can't remember the when or why, just the how and where. Doesn't matter anyway, I guess.

I ended the trick with a flourish that my dad had taught me the night before, and she clapped and laughed and asked me how I did it. I only winked, something I had seen my dad do during shows. Aoko threatened to beat me up if I didn't tell her how I did it. Even then she was a spitfire, though she didn't find a mop until we were ten.

It's all preparation, I said then, echoing my father's words.

She asked me again, Please, Kaito, just tell me! I really want to know! Maybe you could teach it to me?

I never told her.

I should have told her. But when you think about it, there are a lot of things I should have told her and it's too late to try now, so there's no real point in worrying. Except sometimes it'll hurt at the most unexpected times, when we're sitting in class and she's not even looking at me, and I'll feel a pang of real regret and guilt. And then I have to tell myself that there's nothing I could tell her anyway.

That only makes it worse, I think, knowing there's no way I'd be able to breathe a word even if I had the chance. That even if I'd had time to prepare for the changes that came with that one night I fell through the portrait hole, time to get my cards ready, it wouldn't have made a difference when it came to Aoko. Besides, she's the kind of girl that you could plan and plan for and still not know what to expect.

There's something about that first night, that first time out in that white suit, that's been bothering me lately too. I didn't notice it then, but I notice it now. These heists are way too easy. And I'm not even saying it to be rude or conceited; they just are that easy, even when I first started, as if I'd been waiting to steal paintings and gemstones my entire life. And I'm beginning to think that maybe I have. I think my dad's plans for me went much further beyond magic tricks at the kitchen table, that maybe he knew what I'd be doing in ten years before I did. I don't know whether to be annoyed or pleased at Dad for his foresight. I do try not to worry about it too much; like I said, it wouldn't make a difference now.

But it did show me proof of what I already knew: Dad was one hell of a magician.

Because Mirror Image only works if you've got it set up beforehand, right?

Began: April 13, 2003

Completed: June 25, 2003