A/N: This is something that kind of just came to me as I watched Conan discover his 1,574th random dead body the other night. I thought, "Would he just have a heart attack if one time it was someone he knew?" and that kind of mutated into what you now have before you. Yes, this crosses over with Magic Kaitou, because those characters are just too much fun to leave out of this, and they happen to be necessary to pulling off the plot. If I decide to put any hints of romance in here, they will probably be between Shinichi and Ran, but since that happens every couple of episodes in the anime it shouldn't be too big a shock to anyone. By the way, this takes place before Kid knows who Conan is. (grins) Let the games begin.
Disclaimer: I don't own Detective Conan or Magic Kaitou. I am nowhere near clever enough to plan out all those heists, or to come up with 300+ ways to murder someone and darn near get away with it.
To Guard the Living
Ch. 1: A sparkling prism
It was the kind of night that makes people fall in love with big cities.
The stars, wrapped contentedly in the midnight sky, were mirrored billions of miles below by the glittering windows and headlights of those who chose not to spend the night in sleep. Cars slid through the city in single file , illuminated by streetlights and neon signs, the sound of their engines eerily muted. The people that drifted down the sidewalks like ghosts kept their hands in their pockets, their heads down, and if they did speak, it was in the same hushed tone, as if any sound they made was somehow muffled by the millions of dreams taking place around them.
If, as some like to believe, the stars are in fact souls suspended in the sky, they must have believed Tokyo to be some kind of marvelous ornament decorating the Earth, a sparkling prism that shone every color of light imaginable.
And if the moon, not quite full, did in fact have eyes with which to guard the living, she must have wondered that night why there were so many flashes of red and blue coming from one particular area...
Twelfth Street Jewelry Store ("Hand-Crafted Excellence Since 1952") was not normally at the center of so much excitement. Situated between a small antique store and a cafe favored by couples, it was content to display reasonably priced sapphire necklaces and bracelets studded with rubies, as well as more expensive diamond rings in case a night at the aforementioned cafe should turn into something more.
Tonight, however, the store's owner had decided to catch the attention of passersby with something slightly more noticeable. Thediamond had been in his family for generations, and he felt that its presence in his store would bring him good luck from his ancestors. It sat surrounded by black velvet inside a glass cube in the middle of the store.
Or at least, it had.
"Damn it! What the hell happened to the floodlights!"
Saguru Hakuba tensed in irritation. "What do you think happened to them? The same thing that always happens to them when you plug them all in to the same power source!"
Inspector Nakamori whirled around, gladly taking out his frustration on the blonde boy. "Watch it, detective," he growled, and Hakuba noted with annoyance that there was a trace of sarcasm in the title. "I'm allowing you to watch because you've been helpful in the past, but if you get in the way I'll have my men escort you off the premises. This isn't a game, all right?"
"Oh, really?" Hakuba snapped, glancing up from the jewel's still-intact glass case. "Well, that's good. Because if it were, this would be a rather embarrassing loss on your part, wouldn't it?"
The inspector's face reddened. "My part, huh? I sure as hell didn't see you lift a finger to help."
Hakuba returned to his examination of the glass. "I'm trying to help, Inspector, but it's a bit difficult to concentrate when you're screaming curses at the last twelve generations of Kid's family right in my ear."
Footsteps on the stairs made both of them turn around. Forgetting the argument, Nakamori eagerly ran to greet Officer Ishihara. "So?"
Ishihara shook his head miserably. "We searched the whole building. And everything around it within five miles. He's gone. He flat-out disappeared. We didn't even see him leave."
Hakuba's fists clenched. Nakamori's reaction was rather louder, but as this was not uncommon no one paid too much attention.
"Where did the guards at the rear door go?" Hakuba demanded, surveying the crowd of disappointed policemen. "You left your posts during the heist. He must have escaped through there. What happened?"
Two of the men looked sheepishly at each other. "Well..." one ventured, "It's just that...Detective Kudo said we were needed on the roof..."
Hakuba stared blankly, beyond words. Nakamori grabbed the guards by their collars and yelled, "Kudo? Kudo? You left your post because you think Kudo told you to? What on God's earth would Kudo be doing here? How much am I paying you people?"
Hakuba turned back to the empty display stand, pressed his hands against his ears, trying to shut out everything but the facts of the case. "He moved it a little..." he murmured.
Nakamori threw up his hands. "He's gone, Hakuba. The jewel is gone. He beat us. He pulled it off. Why the hell does it matter how he did it?"
Hakuba turned abruptly and shoved a finger in Nakamori's face. "Because it is a game, Inspector. It's a game because that's how he sees it." He was breathing hard. He forced himself to drop his hand, trying to calm down. Getting worked up wasn't going to help matters. He glanced out the window at the moon, noticing absently that it was almost full. "And the only way to beat him is to figure out how he plays."
Diamonds really were beautiful, Kaito Kuroba thought as he gazed up at the moon. He didn't think they were worth all the hype that surrounded them--society's attitude that a man didn't really love a woman unless he gave her a diamond was, to him, absolute idiocy--but he had to admit, as his hand closed around the one in his pocket, that there was something enchanting about them. It was a sort of cold, merciless beauty, and he could see how someone might be driven to kill for one.
I wonder if anyone's ever killed for this one, he thought idly, pulling the stone out to look at it. It was beautifully cut, and set with a fine gold chain. As soon as he had picked it up that night, Kaito had thought how silly it was to think of wearing something that heavy around your neck. It seemed like it would weigh you down, like the albatross in that poem Hakuba had made him read. Maybe it's heavy with the sins that have been committed in its name.
Kaito grinned at the rather poetic idea. It sounded like something Shinichi Kudo would say. He covered a laugh, resisting the temptation to shout that line about truth Kudo always said when he solved a case. He admired his reflection in the dark, dusty window of an office building. The disguise really was perfect, right down to the last detail. It was too bad no one had gotten a chance to appreciate it except two dimwit guards. Maybe someday he would track down Mr. and Mrs. Kudo and invite himself in for tea.
Tea sounded good. Kaito grinned again, pocketing the diamond, and began to walk home, fading into the moonlit fog.
"Do you have the item we requested?"
Gin kept his eyes on the trembling man standing in front of him, while Vodka peered around through the fog to ensure that they remained alone. Hiroto Souma, sweat running visibly down his balding forehead, removed a small disk from his pocket and shoved it in Gin's direction.
"There," he said, his voice shaking with fear, but obviously also with anger. "Take it. Just take it and get out of here. I never want to see you again."
Vodka grinned, his eyes fixed on the street outside the alleyway, and Gin's lips curved slightly as he reached out and took the disk, maintaining contact for a second longer than was necessary. "That's too bad. I get the feeling we're going to be seeing a lot of each other from now on."
Souma's fists clenched. "Bastards."
"Don't get too friendly," Gin said, his smirk fading into a more businesslike expression. He looked at Souma coldly. "If this is really what we asked for, your secret's safe for now. Don't talk about this to anyone, Mr. Souma."
Souma glared at him. "That's obvious."
"It's obviously not," Vodka commented from his post, "or you wouldn't be in this mess, would you?"
Souma flushed. He couldn't think of anything he'd like to do less than stand and chat with these two, but he had seen what they did to people who trusted them enough to turn their backs on them. He bit his lip, hesitating.
Gin raised an eyebrow at him. "You're dismissed," he said, his voice faintly mocking.
Souma gritted his teeth, decided he valued his life more than his dignity, and walked backwards out of the alleyway and around the corner of his office building, Vodka's laughter ringing in his ears.
Akako's eyes flew open.
She lay still for a few seconds till her vision cleared, then sat up and clutched her sheets, breathing hard. What the hell was that?
All she remembered of the dream was Kuroba...only he didn't look like Kuroba...he looked like...Akako grabbed her forehead, trying to remember. Someone else...but no, it was Kaito, and he was--
Akako hissed at the sudden image, her fingernails digging into her skin. What was going on? She hadn't cast a scrying spell...She shook her head to clear it and glanced out the window beside her bed, noticing as she did so that the moon was almost full. She bit her lip, looking around the silent bedroom as if she might see Kaito bleeding to death on her floor
Her muscles tensed. This was stupid...it had just been a dream. There was no reason to get so worked up. What did she care about Kuroba?
But wait...what did she care about Kuroba? Why...why would she have a dream like that? She looked again at the almost-full moon. Unless...
Unless it wasn't just a dream.
Her mind made up, she swung her feet over the edge of her bed and dropped to the floor. Silently, she made her way through the halls of her massive house, stopping at the black door with the silver handle. Opening it as quietly as she could, she slipped inside and faced her scrying mirror. She wasn't sure she had enough power to cast this spell at this time of the month, but...if the moon had given her that vision, then it was obviously telling her that she couldn't afford to wait till it was full. She muttered the familiar incantation and watched as the surface of the mirror clouded and swirled to form images of the not-too-distant future.
Akako pressed her lips together. She didn't have time for whimpering. If she was going to stop this, it would have to be now. She straightened, businesslike, and ran out into the hallway, opening the first window she found. She let out her breath, forcing herself to calm down, and the night itself seemed to lift her off her feet, pulling her into itself, until she was a quickly fading silhouette against the white moon.
Vodka studied the disk in Gin's hand. "So what's so important on this thing that we had to come all this way in the middle of the night?"
Gin pocketed it with an unconcerned shrug. "As long as we get paid, I don't really care. It had better be whatever they're looking for, though. If we get in trouble with the bosses because that little coward lied to us..." He trailed off.
Up ahead, in the distance, a figure was appearing out of the fog. As he came closer, Gin saw that it looked to be a teenage boy...but it couldn't...it couldn't be who it looked like...
Vodka's mouth dropped open as saw what Gin was staring at. "Christ, Gin, is that...?"
They quickly backed up into the protective darkness of the alleyway. The boy, smiling cheerfully, walked right past them without giving them a second look.
Vodka licked his lips nervously. He knew that, even if it was...him...he was just a teenager, but...he had to admit the ghost of a teenager was a little more worrisome. "Did he see us?"
Gin's hand shook slightly as he drew his gun. "It doesn't matter. I'm doing it my way this time."
Souma watched fearfully from behind a telephone booth. Some kid had just walked out into the street, right in front of the two men in black. The men had a short conversation, then the tall one...Souma's eyes widened as he pulled his gun and began to walk quickly but silently after the kid.He shut his eyes tight...
Kaito glanced up again at the moon. Not quite full, he thought. He would have to wait a few more days to check the gem. Which meant that Inspector Nakamori would probably gripe about not getting it back as soon as usual. But the gem was only going to be on display this week, and it was such an impressive stone that Kaito hadn't wanted to miss the opportunity to see if it was the one...
He shrugged. Whatever happened, would happen. Nakamori would get over it.
He blinked as he heard footsteps approaching him on the otherwise deserted street. Someone wanted to talk to him at this hour? His heart skipped. Had the police found him?
He suddenly caught sight of himself in a nearby window. Oh, yeah, he thought. Shinichi Kudo. I'm kind of a celebrity, aren't I?
He turned, smiling, to greet the figure emerging from the fog...
The boy turned around, and Gin fired.
The kid's mouth opened slightly as he stared uncomprehendingly at Gin, then down at his chest, where blood was beginning to seep through his clothes. He swayed slightly.
"What...?" he managed to choke out faintly before he stumbled and fell to the pavement, still staring up at Gin.
Gin backed up to avoid the blood pooling around Kudo's body, pocketed his gun, and beckoned to Vodka. Throwing the corpse one last look, the other man swallowed slightly and nodded, and the two of them faded into the shadows.
The next morning...
Breakfast at the Mouri home was an unusually quiet affair that day. Kogoro's recent lack of cases had caused both him and Conan to sink into a sort of bored stupor, and Ran, as she pulled out bowls and plates, was content to enjoy the rare stretch of peace.
Kogoro threw down his newspaper with a sigh and absently stirred his coffee. On the couch, Conan's book of crossword puzzles slipped out of his hand and fell to the floor. He gave a sigh identical to Kogoro's and didn't bother to retrieve it.
Ran rolled her eyes. She supposed you could have too much of a good thing. She reached for a cup to pour herself some coffee, then picked up the remote and turned on the news just in time to hear the word "murder."
She rolled her eyes again. "There, now, did you hear that? A nice murder. That ought to cheer you both up."
Kogoro and Conan glanced listlessly at the TV screen as the newscaster began to speak gravely. "Local police discovered a body this morning near Kitasawa Industries's main office building. The victim has been identified by Inspector Megure as Shinichi Kudo, a high school student who had gained some local fame as detective."
Time seemed to stop.
Conan somehow found himself on the floor. He realized dimly that he must have fallen off the couch. He...he couldn't have heard correctly. He glanced over at Kogoro, who had frozen with his coffee cup halfway to his mouth, and turned numbly back to the TV screen.
"Kudo was shot once in the chest, by a gun that is, as of now, untraceable. It is possible that this was a professional hit."
As if in a daze, Conan reached out to touch the picture on the screen. It was...him. That was...him...lying on the ground in a pool of blood, an expression of shock on his motionless face...a hole in his chest...Conan swayed. What...what the hell?...
"Jesus..." Kogoro breathed, his face white. Suddenly, he tensed and leaped to his feet, running into the kitchen.
Conan, still gazing transfixed at his own corpse, jerked violently at the sound of breaking china.
"Inspector Megure asks anyone who may have information regarding this case to come forward as soon as possible. It is hoped that this terrible crime will soon be solved, and that the shooter will be brought to justice."
Kogoro stood in the kitchen, an unconscious Ran in his arms, staring grimly down at the shattered pieces of the coffee cup. As Conan watched, the hot brown liquid spread across the entire kitchen, ruining everything it touched.
A/N: Please review with any suggestions!