Disclaimer- Gosho owns them, I do not. Sue me, and all you'll get is a large collection of stuffed penguins. This story is in my "Supernatural" series, which started with "Psychopompos," following in loose order from "Not Quite Ingmar Bergen." It is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for language. Most of it Heiji's.
Ran looked like hell. Of course, Hattori Heiji prudently kept that thought to himself-- he wasn't TOTALLY devoid of self-preservation instincts, after all. But it was the truth-- the usually vivacious girl was pale, with red-rimmed eyes and mussed hair. And from the way she fell into Kazuha's arms as the Kansai pair entered the hospital room, it was obvious she wasn't feeling much better than she looked.
"It's okay," Kazuha reassured her friend, hugging the other girl tightly. "We're here, it's going to be fine."
Ran pulled back a little, gathering herself. "I'm sorry, Kazuha-chan, it's just... he's so SICK..."
"He" being one Edogawa Conan, elementary school detective, the boy Ran spent a good portion of her time taking care of. From what little Kazuha had been able to get out of the near-hysterical Ran over the phone, Conan had come down with the flu that had been making the rounds in Beika, and it had hit him HARD. One moment, he'd been chattering away to the rest of the Shonen Tantei, and the next, he'd been face down in his lunch, running a fever hot enough to melt lead.
"How bad is it?" Heiji asked, moving a bit closer. He'd seen Kudo sick before, though only with a bad cold. The guy's immune system was either really bad or really good, because when he got sick, he got SICK.
Biting her lip, Ran turned to look at him, still holding onto Kazuha as she did so. "It's... bad. They couldn't keep him in the bed; he kept crawling out and trying to hide. They tried restraining him and... he started screaming. Right now they've got him full of sedatives, and that seems to be helping but..."
She shook her head. "He talks a lot, but a lot of it's in English. And the rest of it's so garbled, it's hard to understand. I think maybe he's having nightmares about all those movies he watches."
Heiji bit back a curse. He had a pretty good idea what Kudo's nightmares were about, and movies didn't come close. But he shrugged, doing his best to appear only mildly concerned.
"He grew up in America, right? He might do better if he hears somebody speaking English to him... more familiar. Besides, Neechan, you're not going to do him any good if they have to hospitalize you too. Let Kazuha take you home and get you fed... and get some sleep. I'll take over here for a while."
Ran hesitated for a moment, torn between Heiji's logic and a maternal desire to stay beside the boy who'd been her charge for the past year. The need for sleep won out, however, and she nodded, giving Heiji a quick hug before allowing Kazuha to lead her away.
Thus freed, Heiji made his way to the side of the hospital bed, looking down at the occupant. Luckily Kudo's insurance covered a private room, since things could have gotten very awkward with another patient around. But it was private, and so no one was there to see Heiji reach out and lay a hand on the boy's sweat-soaked forehead with more gentleness than anyone would ever have expected.
"You never do anything small, do ya?" Heiji asked, in English, as he pulled a chair up next to the bed. "I swear, when you get outta here, I am so giving you one of Kazuha's omamori. You need 'em more than I ever have."
Kudo stirred slightly, a flash of blue peeking out emptily before the lids slid shut again. It was amazing how different Kudo looked without the huge glasses that made him "Edogawa Conan." He could only hope Ran had been too preoccupied with the kid's illness to notice. She'd had her suspicions shot down plenty of times, but he had to wonder if she really had been convinced.
"Hatt'ri..." Kudo mumbled, voice thick from the sedatives. "Ran... don't let... please..."
"Hey." Scooting forward, Heiji gripped his friend's shoulder, all too conscious of the heat coming through the thin hospital gown. "Neechan's fine, she's safe. You just concentrate on getting BETTER, damn it..."
At that, the boy subsided, drifting back off into whatever haze he occupied. And just in time, too, as a nurse entered through the door.
Heiji blinked as the woman bounced in. She didn't look much older than he was, for one thing, though appearances could certainly be deceiving. Stranger, though, was her hair, golden-blonde and pulled up into two of the odder ponytails he'd ever seen. At the base of the tail, the hair was wrapped around itself several times, making an odd shape, almost like a dumpling.
"Oh, did Mouri-san go home?" she asked, eyes wide.
Quickly, Heiji checked her nametag-- Tsukino. "Yes ma'am, she went to get some sleep," he replied, as politely as he could. "I'll be standing watch for a while."
She nodded. "Good, he needs to know that he's not alone," the woman replied, pulling out a thermometer. It was one of the newer ones that went in the ear, Heiji noticed; a lot easier than trying to get a thermometer into the mouth of a hallucinating grade-schooler.
"How is he?" he asked quietly.
"No worse," Tsukino replied, flashing him a smile. "He's not in the danger zone, even if it is high. I'll be coming in occasionally and cooling him down. That won't bother you, right?"
Heiji shook his head. "No, ma'am, not at all."
It figured. It just figured. He'd left for all of five minutes to get a can of coffee from a vending machine. The floor was lousy with nurses and doctors and security guards, and they'd all ASSURED him nobody would be able to go in or out of the chibi's room except the nurse assigned to his care.
So of course, he was standing outside, pressed up against the wall, listening to a very familiar, very MALE voice inside the hospital room he'd just left. The damnedest part of it was, it sounded like Kudo, on those rare times he'd heard or seen his friend in his real form.
"Shh, shh, settle down now, tantei-kun," the voice soothed. "I'm here; which means no one dies tonight. You trust that, at least, don't you?"
Heiji winced. Ouch, that made WAY too much sense. Even as fried as he was, Kudo would be worried about that talent he had to trip over corpses. And there was only one person whose presence seemed to keep that curse at bay...
"Kid." Leaning against the doorframe, Heiji was unsurprised to see the pretty nurse from earlier, standing in the shadows by Kudo's bed. Looking up, the blonde gave him an unmistakable GRIN.
"Greetings, tantei-han," the thief said easily, tossing pigtails back over his shoulders. "Fancy meeting you here."
Heiji snorted. He slowly made his way into the room, hands at his sides and away from his pockets. Not that he thought Kid would hurt him, but he wanted to ask the thief a few questions, and spooking him into flight would be counterproductive.
"Do I want to know what you're doing here?"
An eloquent shrug. "I like to check up on my rivals. Life would get very boring without him chasing me, you know."
"Uh huh. How'd you know?"
"Police officers gossip worse than old women and most of Tokyo PD knows Edogawa-kun by now. Which reminds me, Hakuba Saguru is likely to come by in the morning... please don't kill him."
Heiji snorted. "Guy's got all the emotional range of an ice cube-- why would he come here?"
A flash of something like fondness flickered over Kid's face too quickly to catch. "He doesn't, you know. He's got quite a soft heart; he just guards it too well. But he's got a soft spot for Edogawa-kun nonetheless."
Huh. Well, Heiji acknowledged privately, if anybody would know, it would be Kid. The guy knew his pursuers well enough to support allegations of stalking. Nodding his acceptance, he changed the subject.
"So you just wanted to make sure he wasn't too sick?"
"Well, and this way I made sure that one of the nurses with some... interesting connections was assigned FAR from this floor. No proof of wrongdoing, or even that she knows the wrong people, but..."
Heiji got it. "Better safe than sorry. ... Thanks."
Kid shrugged again. "He looks so small like that... not nearly so terrifying as when he's armed and dangerous."
"Heard he kicked a soccer ball at your head that first time."
"Shattered a damn phone. I'm lucky he's not the type to hold a grudge."
Still giving Kid a wide berth, Heiji pulled up one of the chairs and sank into it. "... Gotta admit, I'm kinda glad you're here. I can keep an eye on him, but... I gotta sleep sometime."
"Does this mean you're not going to arrest me, tantei-han?"
"Nah. Have to leave K-Conan behind to take you in." He yawned, leaning his head against the wall.
"True enough," the thief replied thoughtfully. "Then I'll get back to work... sleep well, Hattori Heiji... And I'll take the night shift." And with a little two-fingered salute, he slipped back out into the corridor.
"That," Heiji said, more to the empty room than the slumbering Kudo, "Is one WEIRD guy. Good thing he likes you."
Kudo made no response.
Knowing Kid was on duty had given Heiji enough confidence in Kudo's safety that he was able to doze in the chair, if only lightly. Anyone entering the room would wake him up, of course, but at least for a while, he could let some of the worry go and drift. There were no clocks in the hospital room, but the full moon shone brightly in the window, and he could at least mark the passing of time by the patch of moonlight that was creeping slowly across the floor.
The square of white was halfway to the main bed when he awoke to the sounds of conversation. Well, no, it wasn't conversation, it was pretty one-sided... actually, Kudo was talking to himself. Keeping still with an effort, Heiji opened his eyes slowly, gaze already aimed towards the bed.
Kudo was sitting up, somehow out of the restraints the doctors had kept him in. Those blue eyes, still fever-bright, were fixed on the patch of brilliant moonlight, obviously focused on something Heiji couldn't see. Or could-- no, there wasn't anyone there. That brilliant blaze of white just did strange things to his eyes.
"Aa," Kudo was saying, all hints of the child gone from his tone. "I'll tell him... I'm always running messages for you, it seems... Yeah, I finally found the message in the wallet, sorry. Dad figured it out anyway, though, didn't he?"
A few moments of listening, and then Kudo laughed. "Of course he did. I think he still misses you, too."
Just then, a jaw-cracking yawn split Kudo's face, and the boy grimaced. "Sorry... I'm still really tired... But I promise, I'll tell him. And I won't let anything happen to him. We're not friends, but... we're not enemies either."
Apparently receiving an answer, Kudo laid back down on the bed, pulling the sheet up around him as he rolled to face Heiji. Their eyes met, and Kudo blinked in lazy surprise.
"Hey, Kudo," Heiji greeted, keeping his voice low as possible.
"Hey, Hattori," returned Kudo, eyes already slipping shut. "Kid was here."
Heiji raised an eyebrow at that. "Yeah, I know, I talked to him earlier. Thought you were asleep."
"Not that Kid," Kudo replied, shaking his head. "Th' other Kid. The first one."
A chill ran up the Osakan detective's spine. "Kudo... I thought we decided that the first Kid was probably..."
"He is." Despite the sleep thickening his voice, Kudo's tone was bleak. "They killed him, Heiji. He was one of the good guys, and they killed him."
The chill turned into a full-fledged icicle. "You sayin' you talked to a ghost?"
For his part, Heiji didn't believe or disbelieve in things like that. He was a detective; he wouldn't believe until he saw evidence, but until then, he'd keep an open mind. Kudo, though, always seemed rather dismissive of the idea, or of anything that reeked of the supernatural. What worried him more was the fact that there was only one group of people Kudo ever referred to as "They."
"He knew my Dad," came the dreamy reply, ignoring Heiji's question. "They were kinda friends, even though Dad chased him..." Kudo trailed off into silence, and then a light snore told Heiji his friend wouldn't be talking any more that night.
Mind a whirl, Heiji sat motionless in his chair, staring at the bed. It was tempting to dismiss everything as being the result of bad dreams and Kudo's high fever. It would certainly explain everything, with no need for ghosts. Except that there was one tiny flaw in that explanation, the kind that had always broken his and Kudo's cases.
While the Detective of the East wasn't too bad with a lock-pick, he wasn't Harry Houdini, either. But he was out of his restraints... which still lay, fastened and undamaged, against the bed's crisp sheets.
Heiji sat there staring for a long time.
Carrying a breakfast tray and singing softly to herself, "Tsukino Usagi" bounced lightly down the hospital hallway towards the room currently occupied by Edogawa Conan, nee Kudo Shinichi. According to the doctors, the chibi-tantei's fever had finally broken last night or early this morning. Which was good, it meant that the boy was finally out of danger, but it also meant that the razor-sharp mind behind those blue eyes was back in action. Only the fact that Kudo was still weak as a kitten and easy prey for anyone who wanted to target him kept Kid at the hospital. Okay, and the fact that the chibi had no access to his watch or shoes, which meant that Kid had a rare opportunity to taunt the detective without having to dodge.
Entering the room, Kid noted with some surprise that the chair next to the bed was empty. Hattori hadn't previously left the room for more than the occasional bathroom break, and after years of stakeouts and other detective pursuits, he didn't even have to take those very often. Smiling sunnily at the bed's occupant, he brandished the tray.
"Breakfast time!" he chirped, amused as he saw the boy roll his eyes. "Where's your watchdog?"
"Since I'm feeling better and am now lucid enough to scream for help," Kudo replied dryly, scooting into a sitting position, "Hattori went to find breakfast. And a shower." The boy's nose wrinkled at the memory.
The dry, mature tone and the use of the other detective's family name confirmed Kid's guess; Hattori had told Kudo of his presence and disguise sometime after the fever had broken. In truth, that's why he'd kept it-- he didn't want to get hit with a bokken if he tried to enter the hospital room as a stranger.
"Well, you get a breakfast you don't have to pay for," Kid said cheerily, setting the tray on a table as he adjusted the bed. "I even managed to get you some coffee, but don't tell the doctors. I don't think they'd understand."
Kudo snorted, but nodded his assent. And predictably, when Kid slid the table/tray in front of him, he pounced on the coffee first. For a moment, he simply communed silently with the drink, then that blue gaze moved to fix on Kid, who was adjusting the covers at the bed's foot.
"By the way," the detective said quietly, "your father says hello."
Only long years of practicing his Poker Face kept Kid from going through the ceiling. He'd known for a while that if Kudo put his attention to it, he'd likely be able to deduce most of the story behind the Kaitou Kid. Nakamori only really believed he was the first Kid because he didn't WANT to believe otherwise, and if Nightmare had managed to put the dates together, than Kudo Shinichi damn well could too. His only comfort there had been the fact that Kudo would never do anything without proof, and Kid had been too damn careful to leave any of that behind.
But to say that... Kudo might be of the opinion that tact was something that happened to OTHER people, but he wasn't deliberately cruel. Not if you weren't a murderer, anyway. Which meant he had a reason for bringing up Oyaji...
All of this went through Kid's head in a fraction of a second, and then he smiled easily. "Don't you know? Kaitou Kid doesn't have parents. He springs full-grown from the moon."
"Like the rabbit with the mochi?" Kudo replied blandly. "Appropriate, since he's looking for immortality."
Oh HELL. Kudo couldn't have figured that out, could he? He himself wouldn't have known, if he hadn't heard Snake and his boss talking.
"Where did you hear that?" he asked, his tone as level as he could make it.
"I told you," the boy replied, setting his coffee aside. "Your father says hello. I talked to him last night."
The detective's eyes met his own, no longer hidden behind the fake glasses he usually wore. Deep blue, the same shade as the ones he saw in the mirror every day. The resemblance really was amazing... but more incredible was the bone-weary HONESTY he saw in the Detective of the East's gaze.
"I know how it sounds," Kudo continued quietly, "a Holmes otaku talking about ghosts. But my fever broke last night, you can ask any of the doctors... and I saw him. In the full moon's light, I saw him. And it wasn't just a fever dream, because those are all fuzzy... this was clear. Clear as diamond." He snorted. "Besides, somebody got me out of the restraints they had me in, and it wasn't Hattori. And I'm no escape artist."
Composing himself as best he could, Kid sank down into the chair beside the bed. "So... what did he say?"
"He wanted you to know he was proud of you," Kudo said softly. "Very proud. That you've had a lot of chances to fall off the tightrope, and faced a lot of things he'd never even imagined, and you'd come through it all with flying colors. But... that you can't do this alone. None of us can. We're all fighting the same hydra, and we have to work together, or it'll just keep regrowing heads until it eats us alive.
"There was something about fish, too, and getting some therapy, but I really didn't understand that part," Kudo confessed.
At that, Kid laughed. If there'd been any doubt in his mind about whether or not Kudo had actually talked to his father's spirit, that last line had washed it away. Not only was it unlikely the detective knew anything about his phobias, but that line was so perfectly Kuroba Toichi...
"Sorry, private joke," he explained, relaxing a little. "Anything else?"
Kudo sighed, leaning back against the pillows. "Yeah. He said you were looking in the wrong places, and that you'd know where it was if you just read the legend again... Does that make sense?"
It did, yes. Kid went as still as if he'd been struck by lightning. "He found it?"
"I... don't think so." The smaller boy wore an expression like someone putting a jigsaw puzzle together. "He seemed to know where to look, but I don't think he ever actually found it."
Those eyes locked on him again. "Kid? What is it?"
Old habits, old caution, pushed at him to brush the question aside with a laugh or a glib non-answer. As if seeing that, Kudo took a deep breath and continued.
"I know they killed him for it. The same ones who did this to me. I don't care what I have to do to make sure they don't find it. Whatever it is, I'm IN."
Kid sighed. Kudo was right, they were both in this together... and Toichi'd talked to Kudo. That had to mean something.
"It's a gem. Called Pandora, it supposedly glows under the full moon and weeps tears of immortality during the pass of a particular comet."
The curse Kudo let out was a distinct contrast to his innocent appearance, forcing a weary smile from Kid.
"You've been around Nakamori-keibu too much," he scolded lightly.
"Bite me," came the swift answer. "So you steal gems with legends around them because they might be Pandora. Always big ones, does the legend specify a size?"
Kid cocked his head. "Why?"
"Trying to narrow things down. Size? Color? Clarity? Come on, work with me here."
"No, there are no specifications, but supposedly it's actually buried inside a larger gem. Other than that, there isn't too much about it that I've found."
"Huh. Okay, so the outside gem has to be pretty big... at least twenty, thirty carats of weight, I'd say... probably doesn't see moonlight much... if it's in a private collection somewhere, we're screwed of course."
Kid just watched, fascinated. He'd had the opportunity to watch Kudo on cases before, but never this closely, never without the nagging worry that the mind behind those glasses might turn towards him and break his cover. It was fascinating to be able to simply sit and watch, and listen as deductions slotted together.
"But if it was private, your dad would have said, and ones that big and that old should get some press, even just in academic circles. And it's called Pandora... THAT'S IT!"
A blink, as the shout caught him by surprise. "What's it?"
"That's where it is! It explains everything; the legends, the history, the glowing, all of it!"
"Kudo." Kid's voice was hard, hard as the gems he stole. "TALK to me."
"Your dad said you'd know where it was if you read the legend. Kid, when Pandora opened her box, and all the evils of the world rushed out, what was left?"
Kid stared at him in awe. "... Hope."
"The Hope Diamond. Started as the Tavernier Blue, roughly a hundred-some carats, supposedly stolen from an idol of the Hindu Goddess Sita. Sold to Louis XIV of France, recut down to sixty-some carats, now known as the French Blue. Was gifted to Marie Antoinette, stolen while she and Louis were in prison, and got the guy who tried to fence it locked up in jail. Made its way to the Hope family in 1824. Bounced around to various American socialites until 1958, when diamond merchant Harry Winston donated it to the Smithsonian. Exhibits delayed fluorescence under UV light, glows a brilliant red. Legend has it that people who own it tend to have bad luck and die. History doesn't really bear that out, at least not any more than people usually die for big diamonds, but... it seems to have been around a lot of nasty history."
"... Kudo, how the hell do you know all this?" Kid didn't bother to hide his shock.
The boy smirked. "You're a JEWEL THIEF. You think I didn't research the world's most famous gems after we started to meet?"
Kid laughed. "Of course. Silly of me... Well. The Hope Diamond... not a tall order there."
"Mm. It's in DC... My parents vacation there, sometimes. I wonder if the Smithsonian would let the famous writer and detective Kudo Yuusaku look at it."
"Maybe, if he was protecting it from Kid. He's famous for chasing the thief, after all."
"Of course, they wouldn't trust you alone, but if we both went..."
Kid nodded. "And we can't just talk about it over the phone."
The thief cocked his head. "So, does this mean you're not going to arrest me?"
"No. ... Unless after we find it, you start up again. But I don't think you will."
Kid shook his head. "If this pans out... I'm retiring. There's better ways to go after them than getting shot at. Although... there may be one last heist. Where the Kid gets hit again, and vanishes for good this time."
Conan nodded. "That's probably for the best..."
"But you'd damn well better be ACTING when it happens," a British-accented voice broke in from the doorway.
Looking up, Kid stifled a curse. Not only was Hattori Heiji leaning... almost lounging in the doorframe like a cat who'd cornered a mouse, but behind him stood Hakuba Saguru, looking from Kudo to Kid with an expression of total shock.
"Yer slippin'," the Osakan commented, grinning fiercely.
"We were otherwise occupied," Kid replied, with as much dignity as he could muster.
Kudo grinned mischievously. "So... what do you think? Should Shinichi-niichan take a trip to visit his parents, with his cousin and two new friends?"
Hattori shrugged. "I've never been to America. Sounds like fun."
"Only if you tell me what's going ON here," Hakuba replied, folding his arms across his chest.
"I'm not sure you'd believe me," Kudo said wryly, exchanging glances with Kid.
The half-Brit snorted. "I'm watching you two get along. After that, I'll believe almost anything."
Kid chuckled. "Oh, didn't you know, tantei-san? We're practically family."
Hakuba looked rather ill. "I have this horrible feeling I should start running now..."
Both boys grinned at him, and Kid noticed with some amusement that Kudo's grin was a perfect match for his own. Hakuba apparently noticed it too, because he blanched further, and moved slightly behind Hattori.
"Good Lord, that is disturbing," the blond said faintly.
Hattori just laughed, breaking out in a grin of his own. "You know what they say, Hakuba-san... if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em." Pushing closer, he sat down on the bed near Kudo's legs.
"Now... what's this about a trip to the States?"