Counter Projection Ver. II
A Magic Kaito/Detective Conan Fanfiction
08/23/10 (Revised 03/22/2013)
Summary: She hated the thief, hated him for taking her father away, hated him for being the one that her father chased after, paid attention to, stood constant vigilance for…she honestly couldn't say when she first thought of putting on the costume.
*A/N: Just a quick note; I'm not a psych major. I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a police profiler. If you want proper detailed psych analysis, go buy a textbook and enroll in the next doctorate program you find. That said, if you'd like to read this fic, please don't nitpick my use of wiki-psych. If I do grossly misuse terminology, though, feel free to call me on it.
~Have a Nice Read,
"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."
Book 1 - Kaitou Duels
Chapter 1 - Shafts of Moonlight
Grins and Shadow.
A flutter of wings.
A shifting mirage at the edge of their mind.
The Master Actor.
The King of the Stage.
The Star of the Show.
"Damn you Thief!"
Flashing laughter, twisting dances of light and illusion as the Task Force fell over each other chasing after the white-clad figure. That grin, that horrible, obnoxious grin on that smug, smug face that made Nakamori scream in outrage and frustration each time he fell inches short of his goal. The sounds of struggles rang out through the cavernous museum as the latest Kaitou heist went into full swing, bodies hitting the ground as knock-out gas sprayed from tiny pellets and enormous crashes of cacophonous noise erupted in tandem with paralyzing and dazzling light shows from flash-bangs.
And…flutter the cape juuuuuuust right!
"Not again! You won't get away this time, you damn thief!" Nakamori howled like an angry wolf giving pursuit, his only response another infuriating grin and an explosion of confetti as he captured a duplicate. The thief, out of sight for just a moment, gloried in the attention…center stage, standing proud. The smile turned tender and soft for a scant second, before flashing back to that predatory grin as a newbie officer raised an alarm from behind.
An experienced member of the Force would have tried to sneak up from the back and catch the thief unawares. Of course, it wasn't like that worked either…
Onto the banister and sliiiiiiiiide…!
More laughter, still honest and amused as the thief perfectly matched each step to its pattern. The white-clad figure didn't look up, didn't need to as the top-hat hung on tightly to its perch. Nowadays the thief didn't check to see who was watching…there was only one member of the audience that bore any importance and he'd always be watching, nevertheless…it didn't hurt to think good thoughts and keep grinning like a madman!
Watch me Dad! Watch, this one is for you!
Hook the chandelier and…
Always wanted to try this!
Swinging crystal and bright lights as the thief's audience gasped. The telltale of snapshots told a few reporters sneaking their way into the crime scene and tomorrow's paper. An image of a white-suit, top-hat and all, hands gripping a golden chandelier as the figure dropped down, flipping and sliding for the exit like an acrobatic baseball player trying for the home plate. A gloved hand discretely pressed a remote and…
A cloud of white smoke obscured the room.
"I'd like to thank the tireless devotees of law and order for coming out tonight, especially Nakamori-keibu; let's give him a biiiig round of applause! I'm afraid, though, that tonight's little chase has come to its end. Good night and pleasant dreams, Ladies and Gentlemen!"
When the smoke cleared, the thief was gone.
Nakamori didn't know why he was surprised, but the scream of important rage that tore through his throat did relieve some of the stress caused by his latest failure. Closing his eyes, the policeman snarled away his last regret and turned to the mess that the museum had become under his watch. Another late night…I'm so sorry Aoko, I guess I won't make it home for your birthday this year either.
"Kaitou Joan, I swear, you'll pay for that broken promise," Nakamori Ginzo spat as he dug free his cell phone.
"Ah…Aoko-chan, I'm not gonna' be home until the morning. The museum's a wreck and that damn Kaitou just disappeared on me again-" Ginzo started, his purpled complexion souring the conversation.
"Dad, its okay! I understand how important your job is, and how long you've been chasing the first one and this new %*# thief," Aoko stated offhandedly.
"Language sweetie," Ginzo reprimanded lightly, not forcing the issue when he rightfully agreed with the sentiment. "We'll have dinner tomorrow after all the paperwork is done and I've gotten a little sleep. Oh…and, your present's under my bed at the house."
"I'll wait till tomorrow to open it," Aoko said tiredly as a loud grinding noise filled the receiver, the screech of metal plainly apparent.
Her father winced away from his phone, looking at the device suspiciously. "Aoko? Where are you…what was that?" Ginzo asked, concern in his voice.
The noise suddenly cut off, his daughter explaining hurriedly. "Ah…sorry, dad, that was the TV, I think it's an American movie. Someone just crushed an evil robot in a metal press. Guess I had the volume too loud." A deep yawn. "Well, I'm going to head on to bed now, night."
"Alright," Ginzo agreed, accepting the explanation easily. "I'm sorry again honey."
"I'm okay dad," Aoko replied warmly, "be safe."
Ginzo sighed. Well, at least she wasn't watching the fiasco of the latest Kaitou heist. Still, he shook his head in a dejected way that only nostalgia can bring up. "Evil robots! Why, in my day we had decent television, none of this gunk on nowadays!"
"Uh…sir?" One of the grunts asked, somewhat understandably reticent to disturb Nakamori 'The Volcano' Ginzo during a tirade, even if the subject was inane.
"Ah, right," Ginzo grunted, turning back to the mess and sighing.
In the freight elevator beneath him, roughly fifty feet, a young woman with practically luminescent blonde hair grinned in the shadowy illumination of her cell phone. A white domino mask and wide hat brim combined with a notorious use of misdirection, disguise, and illusion obscured her person enough to prevent complete identification.
"Don't worry dad," Kaito Joan said softly, appreciating the glimmer of the emerald in between her thumb and forefinger by the LCD display. "I had a great birthday. Granted, I'd like a smaller party, but you insisted on bringing all your friends…ah, well, maybe next year...I wonder if Kaito would like to come?"
Grinning at her own joke, the Phantom Thief stood and made her way to a hidden ventilation duct in a derelict corner of the basement museum storage room. "I'd love to take the skyway home, but I'm not really in a mood for that long of a chase. Besides, this way I get the dramatic disappearance…and I know how you just love those, right dad?"
Choking a snicker, the thief pulled the vent back into place behind her and shimmied down the narrow rectangular tunnel. She'd taken great care in the last week to clean the wretched old vent out, but even an industrial Kaitou-cleaning wasn't enough to get all of the rust and miscellaneous dead insects out from all the nooks and crannies. "&^#! air ducts! Do you have any idea how hard it is to get stains out of this outfit!?"
Of course, there were downsides to the quiet and unseen escape as well…
The next day was, well, just another day in the life of average teen Nakamori Aoko.
Of course, with Kuroba Kaito as your best friend, no day could ever be completely ordinary. Case in point: today had turned into a festival of glitter and streamers as random lockers, desks, and backpacks exploded without warning. No one could guess how the magician had managed to booby-trap dozens, if not hundreds, of peoples' belongings. Well, no one but Aoko, and even then, that was only because she had an unfair advantage.
That still didn't stop her from being irritated, though. School was no place for magic tricks, even if her prankster friend thought differently. Granted, at this point in their friendship, the mop was more of a knee-jerk reaction, but it was the principle of the thing!
"Aww…come on, Aoko, lighten up a little bit will ya?" Kaito teased, dancing around the strikes with the ease of long practice and a cheerful smirk that belied the apparent violence of the situation. "Is this about your birthday? I'm sorry I couldn't come over last night, but you know how your dad gets about you being alone with company that late on a school night."
Aoko rolled her eyes, she'd worked really hard for that excuse, thank you very much. Another swing, "It's not about that, Kaito! You shouldn't do magic at school, you know that!"
Dodge, "But Aoko, it's a special occasion! You're sixteen!"
Stop. Blink. "You…Kaito, you did all that for me?" Aoko asked quietly, her mop falling to the ground, her expression stunned. Deep inside, Joan was grinning, the Kamen no Kaitou pulled on an elated expression of deep joy and…
-squee! He remembered! That must have taken so much work, it's so sweet, ooh! Plant a big smooch on him, come on!
Kaito looked off to the side, his stance suddenly awkward as the conversation shifted. Gone was the self-assured magician and, in his place, a self-conscious teen was left, his features slightly flushed in nervous embarrassment and anxiety, "Um…yeah, so…sorry, if you don't like it, I mean."
The rooftop was quiet for a moment, each silently counting their blessings that their chase had concluded itself in a place where they could enjoy privacy.
Kaito initially flinched when Aoko made contact with him, still wary of a mop-attack, but relaxed when Aoko's arms enfolded him, her slightly shorter frame brushing her hair into her face. "Thank you, Kaito…it really was a really nice gift."
"You're not going to whack me again?" Kaito couldn't keep himself from asking.
"Just this once," Aoko promised, releasing the teenage magician, "for being so sweet, I'll let you off."
Kaito smiled softly, a true smile, not like the wide grin that so eerily mirrored the Kamen no Kaitou her 'other half' wore like a second face. "Ah, in that case, I guess you don't want this."
Aoko blinked, her eyes locking onto the positively tiny wrapped box, probably no larger than a few inches cubed, with a small red ribbon tied into a bow placed on the top. Her mind raced, the thief within her yearning to snatch the box discretely, remove the treasure inside, and replace the container, none the wiser, but…
"It's not booby-trapped?" The part-time criminal asked, eyeing the package with some measure of distrust.
"Birthday truce," Kaitou promised, placing his right hand over his heart in the sacred oath.
Immediately, with a speed vipers would be envious of, Aoko grabbed the box and, very carefully, proceeded to open it. With the lid off, her breath caught as she stared at the treasure, and it was a treasure, within.
"Shiny," Kaitou Joan whispered reverently, her manic grin vanished for once, stroking the pendant gently as the thief whet her lips. Reluctantly, she slipped back beneath Aoko Nakamori's persona. With slightly damp eyes, Aoko brushed the intricate weave of silver and the tiny star of a blue stone embedded within. She couldn't even work up the irritation to get angry at her aibou, given how beautiful the gem was.
And gems, more than anything, were prey for a Kaitou.
"I mean," Aoko started, finally aware of her friend's odd stare, "It's beautiful, thank you Kaito."
The teen magician's anxiety eased, dismissing Aoko's strange behavior out of hand. She'd probably just been startled, after all. "You're welcome, I'm glad you like it."
"I love it," Aoko corrected, lifting the pendant up to catch the sun's light. "It really is beautiful…where did you get it? Did your mom help you pick it out?"
"Ah," Kaito hesitated. "Well, actually, I think it's been in my family for a while. When I was talking to mom about what kind of gift to get you, she started to recommend jewelry and then got this weird look on her face and said she might have 'just the thing,' and ran off. When she got back, she was coated in dust and had dug this out of some nook in the attic."
"Are you sure it's okay for me to have this?" Aoko asked, her eyes still locked on the gem. "I mean…if it's an heirloom or something…"
"Mom didn't actually say what it was, just that it'd been in our attic for as long as we've lived there; so, as long as she says it's okay," Kaito shrugged. He bit his lip suddenly, "Here."
Gently, her childhood friend took the pendant from her hands and pressed in closer, almost to the point where she could feel the heat coming off his body. Her breath caught as his breath breezed over the nape of her neck, cool metal dipping to conform over her skin as the previous sensation vanished. Looking down, the pendant rested safely at the rise of her chest, nearly over her heart.
"And…here!" Kaito grinned, a mirror appearing in his hands in a poof of white smoke.
Aoko's jaw hung loose, her mouth going dry as she tried to form a coherent sentence. It really was beautiful, the braid of silver chain looking as though it had actually been woven around her neck, the nearly luminescent blue matching her own eyes perfectly. In the mirror, though, she caught the whisper-quick shadow of her other, her aibou as something that wasn't quite nearly, or even at all, Aoko Nakamori looked out her eyes.
I normally have to steal a gem for it to look this good on us...but, I think this time, it looks even better...and that rascal actually thinks he can get away with it, too...
Aoko blinked, jarred by the other's thoughts before a sudden rush of cool air raced up the back of her legs. Realization dawned on her even as the cackling in her mind alighted light fire on dry brush.
"KAITO!" Aoko growled, her reflection in the mirror (now held by a mannequin) flushing red even as she spun on her heal to see the retreating form of her best friend at the stairwell door. "Get back here you skirt-flipping maniac!"
"What was that color again?" Kaito asked from his position in the doorway, a ponderous look on his face as he smiled. "Robin's egg blue? I don't get to see those much...very lacy choice, A-o-k-o!"
The newly-minted sixteen year old slammed a foot down on her broom, flipping the object into a spin and allowing her to catch the wooden cleaning instrument with a loud slap as it hit her hand.
Kaito blinked, now looking nervous as he edged towards the stairs. "Oh, Aoko-chan, c'mon, it was just a joke...no need to be hasty."
Aoko's lips twisted into something just a little to sadistic to be called a smile as she replied, "Good, because I thought it was hilarious, Kaito-kun..."
"In fact, it was so funny that I'd like to tell you a joke, too..." Aoko's not-smile widened.
Kaito paled and spun.
Aoko, showing her law enforcement lineage, gave pursuit...even as Joan laughed madly behind her eyes.
Oh dear, he nearly got the drop on us that time, Aoko. Maybe next time you catch him I'll take some of that silk rope, a few bottles of that lotion we use after a workout, and ooooh...I bet he'd love how we look in that catsuit we got for that one job...
So, maybe Aoko's blush wasn't entirely fueled by righteous anger as she intended.
The brunette turned, blinking, as Kuroba Kaito approached her, "What, Kaito?"
The male teen shrugged slightly, "You...wanna' come over to do some magic practice?"
Aoko pondered the question for a moment, then shook her head, "Sorry, dad and I are having a quiet night at home to make up for...well, the Joan heist and everything."
Kaito winced. "Ah, yeah, sorry, I forgot."
Now Aoko shrugged. "It's not a big deal, Kaito...I understand dad has a lot on his plate. A few of the old task force guys just retired last month and he's been training the new replacements. You wouldn't believe how green some of them are-"
Kaito gave her an odd look.
Aoko forced a grin, "-or, at least, that's what he says. Personally, I just think he's being too demanding, but I'm not the Inspector, am I?"
Kaito snorted. "Oh, that'd be something to see...Inspector Nakamori Part Two!"
Now Aoko's smile strained. "Oh really, I thought I was going to be your 'beautiful assistant' when you finally got your magic act up to par?"
Her friend flushed slightly, "Oi! You know I was just joking about that!"
Aoko's heart almost stopped, though she contained it well.
Kaito turned a smirk on her, "We'd be partners! Your magic is at least as good as mine. You can still wear the sparkly swimsuit if you want, though."
Her heart, pattered like a drum, speeding as if to make up for lost time. "Baka Kaito," she muttered, even as she flushed and smiled. "What if I made you wear it?"
Katio's rakish grin was her answer. "Only if you promise to tie me up!"
Can we keep him, please? Please? Kaitou Joan implored, even as Aoko's face burned red. We can even do that corrupt politician and donate the money to charity! Please?! I'll be a good little Phantom Thief forever and ever!
Aoko discretely shook her head, knowing with surety that there was no such thing as a well-behaved Phantom Thief. 'You're incorrigible, you know that? Why do we hang out again?"
After a moment of pretending to be puzzled, the other teen smirked, "Cause we're the only ones in Tokyo who know how to do a triple back-flip, reverse somersault without breaking a leg? No, wait, I know! It's because if we didn't hang out I'd keep bugging you until we did! Or...maybe I'd just start a campaign of terror on the school, coating all the gym clothes with itching powder and filling all the teacher's pens with invisible ink!"
Aoko snickered despite herself, feeling another mad grin from her other form in the back of her mind. "Completely incorrigible," she repeated, "though I suppose there are worse fates than being force to watch Kuroba Kaito make fool out of himself everyday."
Kaito pouted, then stilled into a slightly more serious expression. "Hey, Aoko, you mind if I ask something?"
"I guess," Aoko replied, frowning slightly. "What?"
There was a moment of silence before Kaito pushed onward. "Well...I just noticed, you don't really get angry about the Phantom Thief stuff anymore."
Another brief silence.
Aoko sighed, "No, I guess not, why?" The topic made her uncomfortable, for multiple reasons, but she'd bear it out for Katio's sake. Besides, it would be weird if she started acting suspicious when this subject came up every time.
"I wanted to make sure you were okay," Katio confessed, his gaze turned away from her and a slight blush on his face. "I mean, back when it was Kaitou Kid, you got so...angry, every time your dad missed something and then your mom-"
There was a sudden, deafening silence.
Kaito spat a quiet curse, "Aoko, I am so sorry and a complete idiot. Just...just forget I said anything."
"Kaito," Aoko started, then took a deep breath. "It's okay. It's been six years and I...well, I'm not over it, but you don't need to treat it like such a taboo subject. I mean, we talk about your dad all the time-"
"-but it's not the same," Kaito interjected. "Dad died and, yeah, it hurts, but your mom just...left."
Aoko rubbed at her eyes slightly, looking in the opposite direction of her childhood friend. "Yeah, she did...and your mom was great. I know that after your dad died, my dad tried to help your family as much as possible, so let's just call it even okay. It doesn't matter to me why my mom isn't around anymore, I just have to live with the fact that it's..." She shrugged, unable to convey the fact that she had acknowledged her reality.
"So...why don't you rant about Kaito Kid or Joan anymore?" Kaito pressed.
Aoko sighed, once again torn between keeping her secret to herself and telling her friend. Part of her felt the happy-go-lucky teen might be enthusiastic about her dual identity, might even like the idea of it. Another part, though, regarded her 'hobby' with disgust, appalled at the fact that she went out to steal from society, mock the police, and toy with her father almost monthly.
An unearthly sensation, like moonlight on glitter, curled around her, warm and cold at the same time. It pulsed in time with her heartbeat, tasting of adrenaline and shadows and addictive chases over rooftops and down alleys...and she knew she'd never give it up.
I love you too, Aibou Kaitou Joan thought without the usual mocking lilt. Always and forever in moonlight and shadows for gemstones and grins ahead of lawmen and nightmares, I'll be with you.
"Because...Kaito," Aoko answered softly and belatedly, "As much as I don't...like them. As much as I might have...hated them, a long time ago, my dad's entire career has been chasing them. Every meal I eat, every piece of clothing I wear, it's thanks to them, in a way."
Kaito was silent, watching her with curious eyes.
"So...even though Kid might have made my father work day and night, week after week, kept him away from home for months...and my mom left because of him, he also gave me you," Aoko smile, her expression slightly watery.
Kaito blinked, understanding slowly dawning in his eyes.
Nakamori Aoko and Kuroba Kaito had met after Kaito had been sight-seeing following one of his father's performances. Aoko had been left at the Tokyo Tower by her mother, for pickup by her father; both men had been late by hours, leaving the two children to bond tightly.
"Well, they can't be all that bad, then," Kaito forced himself to say. "I wonder whatever happened to Kid, anyway..."
Now Aoko shrugged, happier to be on a more neutral subject. "No idea really. No one knows for sure, but he probably retired. After all, he'd been...performing? Stealing? Whatever you call it, he'd been playing his game for ten years."
Kaito shook his head admiringly, "And...Joan has only been at this a year, right?"
"Yep," Aoko replied, 'popping' the 'p' with a certain snarky tone. "This was her anniversary heist, just yesterday. Dad was steaming mad when he found out she wanted to do another heist for the second year in a row, on my birthday."
"Ouch," Kaito winced sympathetically, "and she got away again, right? You think she's Kid's...daughter?"
Aoko had to work to keep a straight face as her other started snickering childishly. "Maybe, dad thinks there might be some relationship, but he's not sure. She could be his sister, or wife, or even something like a student...some of her tricks are just so close to Kid's that, well..." She shrugged.
They'd better be pretty close! By the Lady Moon, I worked so hard to get those perfect! Kaito Joan whined even as Aoko soothed her other.
"I've gotta' admit, there's one thing she's got going for her Kid never did, not really, at least." Kaito stated suddenly, his expression serious as he looked over the canal and the red, setting sun.
Aoko blinked, turning to face her friend with a silent question.
"She's probably the hottest Phantom Thief there's ever been," Kaito grinned impudently.
Aoko choked, "WHAT?! Kuroba, you pervert!"
Her face turn luminescent as she twisted her wrist, a retractable mop springing out from her sleeve. Kaito laughed maniacally, the noise echoing eerily Aoko's other inside her mind.
"Awesome magic there, Aoko!" Kuroba grinned, scratching his cheek before exploding into a cloud of colored smoke when the prop-mop struck him.
"Argh!" Aoko cried, turning about to chase her prey down and strangling the smile that threatened to break out any moment. It simply wouldn't do to let Kaito know how flattered she'd been by his comment.
Although, she supposed not making contact with the annoying teen was enough of an allowance for his inadvertent compliment.