A.N: I've never written something this long so quickly!
Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK or YGO.
Chapters: Each chapter will be a different crossover, but they are all connected. Think about it as a series of chronologically related one-shots. So each chapter will be its own story.
The Travelers Chronicles
1: Of Worlds and Realms
(World 1: Yu-Gi-Oh)
When Shinichi opened his eyes to find a huge, green dragon looming over him the first thought that crossed his mind was that dragons were a lot bigger in real life than stories could ever make them sound. The second thought that followed was that dragons didn't exist and this had to be KID's fault because making people think creatures like dragons did exist was just the kind of thing the magician would cook up. That and even Shinichi's life wasn't crazy enough to produce this kind of mirage without outside help. Then the dragon roared loud enough to make the air itself vibrate and bright, blinding light burst forth from its open jaws to blast straight towards the detective.
At that point Shinichi knew something had to be wrong because mirages didn't make the ground shake and he flung up his arms in a vain attempt to shield himself, hoping like hell that it would be over quickly because being fried alive by a mythological beast wasn't something anyone wanted time to contemplate.
The pain never came. Instead he heard a startled shout and the sound of running feet.
"Are you all right?" a female voice asked anxiously. "I'm so sorry, I didn't see you there. You didn't hurt yourself falling did you?"
Blinking open his eyes, Shinichi found himself looking up at two teenagers. The blond haired boy was eyeing him with obvious curiosity while the black haired girl wore an expression of concern. They both had what appeared to be playing cards in their hands and identical, mechanical . . .somethings on their left arms.
With an effort, Shinichi pulled himself back together and clambered back onto his feet. "It's all right, I'm okay—just a bit surprised is all." Boy wasn't that an understatement. A hurried glance around the wide, grassy field revealed that the dragon had disappeared. "Where did it go?"
The two strangers traded looks before the blonde spoke. "Where'd what go?"
"The dragon," Shinichi clarified, the word stumbling out of his mouth like an ungainly fledgling. He couldn't believe he'd just asked that—and judging from the odd looks he was now getting his two companions couldn't either. "You . . .did see it, right?" The question emerged carrying the tiniest hints of dread. The last thing he needed was to start seeing mythical animals no one else could.
"Uh, of course we saw it," the blonde said as though there was nothing at all strange about either the question or his answer. "I mean, we were in the middle of a duel. Were you runnin' with yer eyes closed or something?"
"No, of course I wasn't," the detective huffed, slightly offended. What kind of a stupid question was that to ask someone? Then he frowned. "Duel?"
"You know, Duel Monsters," the girl piped in, eyeing him as though he was some kind of alien from outer space and she'd only just realized it. On an impulse, she slid the cards she'd been holding into a holder on the contraption on her arm and took a single card off the fan-like attachment. Turning it over she showed him the front where an image of the very dragon that had just tried to blast him into oblivion was printed. "What you saw was the Luster Dragon #2. I guess you might not have seen it before . . .?"
Okay . . . So it was strange to them that he had never seen this—Luster Dragon before. He filed that information away for later contemplation and turned his attention back to the more important question at hand. The dragon had looked and sounded real. It had been able to make a sound so loud that he had felt the ground shake. These two said that they had been dueling, and the dragon was apparently a playing card. Dueling then was probably a gaming term, and the dragon a part of that game.
"So it wasn't real," he said aloud as realization dawned. Relief bubbled up inside him. For a moment there he'd thought for sure that all the rules of reality he'd known were about to be trampled to death by giant, clawed feet.
"Of course not," the girl laughed. The blonde too chuckled, though Shinichi thought he might have detected a hint of uneasiness in his voice. Odd. "It was just a hologram. Are you foreign or something? I didn't think there was anyone in the world who didn't know about duel disk technology these days."
Foreign huh? That was actually a very interesting question, Shinichi noted. "This might sound strange, but where am I exactly?"
The girl stopped laughing and stared at him. "You're serious? This is Domino City, Japan."
"Domino." The name was unfamiliar to Shinichi. And what had they meant when they said this 'duel disk technology' was known all over the world? He was sure he would have heard of it if it was. He'd always kept himself as up to date on new technology as possible, and he certainly would have remembered something that could produce holograms as realistic as that dragon had been.
"Are you lost?" the blonde asked.
"Yeah . . ." Lost didn't begin to cover it. "I just got here," he added, deciding to keep the fact that he wasn't sure how to himself. They already seemed to think he was a little crazy.
"Well, I can show you around if ya want," the boy offered. "Don't really have anythin' else I need to do right now."
"I've got a doctor's appointment though," the girl sighed. "Oh well, I hope you enjoy your time in Domino." Turning, she bowed to the blonde. "Thank you for dueling me. It was an honor. Even if we didn't get to finish, I learned a lot."
A rather goofy grin spread across the boy's face, obviously pleased by the attention. "No prob! We should have a rematch sometime."
"That would be great. Thanks again." With a final wave goodbye, the girl turned and trotted off across the field towards a distant playground. Once she was gone, the blonde turned and offered Shinichi his hand.
"I'm Joey Wheeler, nice ta meet you."
Shinichi took the proffered hand a little hesitantly. "Kudo Shinichi. Um, I didn't mean to interrupt your game."
Joey waved him away with an easy laugh. "Nah, don't worry about it. Like I said, I've got nothin' better to do, might as well give you a hand. So where're ya stayin'?"
"I don't really know yet," Shinichi replied honestly, falling into step beside the tall, blond teen.
"Didn't plan ahead huh? I do that a lot too, hehe. Why don't I give you the grand tour while you think about it?"
Shinichi nodded slowly. He needed to get a better idea of where he was and maybe he'd be able to figure out how he'd wound up here to begin with. "I would appreciate that. Thank you."
He was sitting on soft, springy grass. The rough surface behind his back could only be a tree trunk. But how had he gotten here? There hadn't been any grass or trees on the roof. Holding perfectly still and keeping his breathing deep and even, Kaito turned his attention to the quiet chirping of the birds and the distant rumble of traffic. Obviously he was on ground level somewhere with little vehicle activity. Closer to him there was nothing but the soft whisper of the breeze through swaying leaves and his own even breathing.
Satisfied, he opened his eyes and took a look around. As he'd surmised, he was alone. As to where he was . . . A small park maybe? Had there been any small parks near the heist scene? He certainly couldn't remember any, and he always memorized the lay of the land before executing a heist. That and even if there had been a park it wouldn't explain why he'd been sleeping in it in full costume in broad daylight.
The sound of running footsteps approaching from behind brought him whirling around, one hand moving up automatically to tug down on the brim of his hat. Expecting to see the police converging upon him, he was surprised when he saw two somewhat short teenagers instead. His eyes were drawn immediately to the identical, upside-down pyramid pendants they had around their necks. The things looked like they were made of gold—and he should know. But what really made him raise his eyebrows was the two's appearances. Both boys had the craziest hair he'd ever seen—and that included all the interesting things he'd managed to do to Hakuba's—all spikes streaked with at least three different colors. Even stranger, the slightly taller of the two had red eyes. He wondered briefly if they were contacts, but the color looked genuine. The smaller of the two was in the lead and he skidded to a stop when he was a handful of meters away to stare at Kaito in surprise.
"Oh," he gasped, already large eyes widening in confusion. "You're human."
Kaito paused for a moment. That . . .wasn't what he'd expected. "That I am," he agreed finally. "Were you expecting something else?"
"Well, I just thought, when we felt the distu—I mean—" The boy cut himself off as his companion (brother? They certainly looked similar enough. On the flip side, since he'd seen Kudo Shinichi—and thoroughly researched their respective family trees—he'd learned not to presume physical similarities were absolute proof of blood ties) placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Who are you?" the red-eyed one asked in a clear, strong voice that indicated he was used to giving commands.
It was slightly disappointing to discover someone who didn't know who he was—even if that was probably a good thing in this case—but hey, there was always time to remedy that. He swept into a bow, razor grin firmly in place.
"Kaitou KID, at your service. May I inquire as to whom I am speaking to?"
"I'm Yugi Motou," the smaller boy introduced himself. "And this is Yami."
"That's a strange name. Is it really what you're called?" the one called Yami stated. Even as he asked his question those strangely colored eyes narrowed. "There is the touch of magic on you."
"Well, I am a magician," Kaito pointed out, producing a deck of cards from nowhere and arching them between his hands with practiced ease. "As for names, forgive me for the bluntness but your own is quite peculiar too." He thought he saw wry amusement flash across the boy's face at the comment as Yugi covered a smile.
Yami cleared his throat, face serious once more. "That is not what I meant when I asked about magic. I was referring to what brought you to this world."
Now Kaito was wondering if he'd hit his head somewhere and this was some kind of dream. A very realistic dream, granted, but a dream all the same because these two seemed to really believe what Yami had said.
"I think there may have been a misunderstanding here, but just out of curiosity, where exactly do you think I'm from then?"
"Well, since you speak Japanese, it's probably a world parallel to this one," Yugi replied honestly. "You are from Japan, right?"
Kaito debated answering for a moment, but what was the harm? And besides, he was starting to get the feeling that something a lot bigger than he had first realized was going on here. "I was in Tokyo before I got here, in fact. Assuming this isn't Tokyo anymore?"
"This is Domino City," Yami supplied.
"Domino huh? I've never heard of it." And he'd thoroughly researched all the cities that could possibly contain gems worthy of his attention. This city, if it really wasn't Tokyo (which was starting to feel more and more likely the more he thought about it), was certainly big. He could even see the glitter of skyscrapers in the distance. Setting aside his bewilderment to be dealt with at a later date, he fixed the pair of lookalikes with a searching gaze. "Were you serious when you said I was transported here from another world by magic?"
Both lookalikes faces went momentarily blank at exactly the same time (it was actually kind of creepy) before Yami spoke. "I believe it would be best if we found somewhere less open to talk about this. If that is all right with you?"
Kaito shrugged. "Fine by me. Just give me a moment." That said he dropped a smoke bomb. When the smoke cleared he was no longer dressed as KID but in casual clothes with a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, one of which was still obscured by his monocle with the charm tucked up out of sight. This got a started gasp from Yugi and a quirk of the eyebrow from Yami but neither of them commented. Interesting. "Lead the way."
Shinichi was starting to get confused. This Domino was clearly a large and highly populated city well ensconced in the international economy. So how had he never heard of it? It just wasn't possible! But the evidence was staring at him in the face. The question was, what was it pointing to?
"Hey, you all right there?"
Shinichi looked up to find Joey giving him an odd look. "Oh, yeah, sorry, what did you say?"
"I was askin' if there was anywhere else you wanted ta see," the blonde reiterated, waving one hand to indicate the city in general. They had already visited several hotels (Shinichi still wasn't sure if he was supposed to be getting a room or not), multiple restaurants, and more gaming related hotspots than he had ever thought could exist in one city. Games seemed to be the life's blood of this city and he'd witnessed at least a dozen of those 'duels' in progress. The holographic technology was truly fascinating but at the same time it just reminded him of how strange his situation was. Their last stop had been the city's museum. Privately, Shinichi was surprised by this, since his guide didn't really seem to be the museum type.
Well, there was one place Shinichi knew he could start getting some answers. "Could you show me to the library?"
"The library?" Joey repeated in the tone of voice someone might use to refer to rotting fish. "Why would you wanna go there?"
"There's something I want to look up," the detective explained patiently. "You can just drop me off there. I remember the way to the hotels so I won't get lost again."
"Nah, I'll come with. There's usually a duel goin' on in the lot behind the library anyway and there was one more place you've got to see while you're in Domino. We'll head there once you're done lookin' your stuff up."
"I guess if you don't mind then that would be fine," Shinichi agreed. "You're really into this Duel Monsters game aren't you?"
"Are you kidding? Of course I am! You're talkin' to the Duelist Kingdom runner up and Battle City top four!"
Shinichi had no idea what either of those things were—probably tournaments—but Joey was obviously very proud of his accomplishments. The detective was just wondering how he was supposed to respond—was he supposed to congratulate him?—when he was saved from having to say anything by a shout.
"Joey!" Coming towards them was a dark-skinned boy with a mass of pale, blond hair and a broad grin.
Joey too broke out into a matching grin. "Malik! I didn't know you were in town."
"Just got here this morning," the newcomer replied with a shrug. "Isis is helping with a new exhibit the museum's opening tomorrow." His lavender gaze turned to Shinichi and the detective could have sworn he saw a flicker of shock then suspicion flash through them. "So who's your friend?"
"Oh, this is Shinichi Kudo. And this," he added, turning to Shinichi, "is Malik Ishtar."
The two traded the usual first meeting pleasantries, Shinichi watching the other's face closely for any signs of the odd emotions he'd thought he'd seen before or any indication of what they might have meant, before Joey and Malik got to chattering about people they knew. Apparently this Malik person was from Egypt and hadn't been in Domino for several months now. When Joey mentioned his current self-appointed task of showing Shinichi around town and the events that had led up to it, Malik cast Shinichi a rather speculative look.
"You should take him to Yugi's," the Egyptian remarked.
"Yeah, I'm going to, but he wants to see the library first." Joey made a face at that.
Malik laughed and winked at Shinchi. "You'll be setting a record if you manage to get him through the door."
"Hey I've been in the library," Joey said a bit defensively. "I just prefer to do my readin' at home."
Malik put on a show of being shocked. "You read?"
"Just kidding," the Egyptian laughed, raising his hands. "I'd love to stay and talk but Isis is going to kill me if I don't get her those folders soon. I'll probably swing by Yugi's once I'm done here too so I guess I'll see you guys later."
"Later," Joey echoed and the three parted ways.
Apparently the park Kaito had woken up in was a small one situated in a quiet neighborhood. He saw almost no one as he followed Yugi and Yami along the sidewalks. He made a point of checking the street signs as he went, taking note of the occasional advertisement which proved that this really was a city called Domino. Still, he wasn't sure if he was ready to believe that he was really in another world.
He'd never been opposed to the idea of real magic. Unlike many of the people he knew, he didn't have the driving need to find logical answers to everything. But at the same time, being a magician had taught him that many things that looked like magic really weren't. He loved that moment when a person could forget logic and believe that the object really had disappeared or the bird emerged from a flower bud but he still knew fundamentally that there was a logical answer. Real magic on the other hand . . . Real magic lay in the light of the sun and the flight of a bird across the clear, blue sky. It glimmered in the crystal depths of dewdrops and echoed in the laughter of the wind.
Or at least that was what he'd always believed—still believed. Only now he was starting to think there might be more. It was a thought he'd often entertained—it was hard not to when he had appointed himself the task of searching for a gemstone with supernatural powers—but it wasn't until now that the sheer significance of what that would mean hit him.
But other worlds? That was a whole different basket of eggs. And yet the more he saw of this place the more likely it was beginning to seem.
Ahead of him Yugi was idly explaining where they were and how long it would take to get to where they were going, etc, probably more for something to say than anything else. Yami on the other hand was scanning their surroundings like he was searching for something. It reminded Kaito of how the two had looked when they'd first run up to him. They had expected to find something. He'd surprised them not by being there but by being . . .human? But what could they have been expecting that wouldn't be human? Somehow he doubted the usual dogs and cats would warrant the urgency he'd read in them.
A flash of movement in the corner of his eye brought Kaito to an abrupt halt. The lookalikes too had stopped, both their postures tense. He followed their gaze to where a—a large, gargoylian thing with a massive canon mounted on its back had just stepped out into the middle of the thankfully empty street. It snarled at them, revealing uneven teeth and making its almost bestial features twist into a grotesque mask of malice.
Well, if that didn't put the icing on the cake, he didn't know what would.
The monster spotted them and a vicious gleam lit up its beady eyes. Taking a menacing step forward, it let out a screeching roar and bent forward. As it did so the canon on its back lit up and energy blasted from its circular mouth. Pure reflex had Kaito up on a lamppost before the blast had fully left the creature's weapon, but he had no idea how he was supposed to prevent it from frying his two guides, neither of whom had run. He was just about to attempt pulling them out of there when he saw Yami step swiftly in front of Yugi and hold up what looked like a card. The energy blast hit the card with a blinding flash of light then rebounded to strike its source. Said monster let out an outraged cry and dissolved into nothingness. There was literally nothing left of it—but it had to have been there because he could still see the marks its claws had left in the concrete street.
"Are you all right?"
Coming out of his thoughts, Kaito looked down to find Yugi peering worriedly up at him. Offering his devil-may-care smile, Kaito leapt off the lamppost to land lightly on the ground beside the lookalikes.
"I'm fine. However I would like an explanation. First of all, what was that thing? And secondly, what did you do to it?"
Once again both lookalikes faces when momentarily blank before Yugi answered. "We're almost at the game shop. We'll tell you more when we get there."
Seated at one of the many reading tables scattered throughout the Domino City Library, Shinichi stared blankly down at the open notebook in front of him. Its pages were covered in the notes he'd taken through the course of the last two hours' research, all of which seemed to be mocking him. Tearing his gaze away from his own writing, he picked up the atlas again and gave it another halfhearted once-over. Nothing had changed. Domino was clearly marked as a sizable city in Japan. There were also a handful of other cities he'd never heard of but which showed up on every map he'd looked at. Dropping the atlas back on the table with an unceremonious flop, he prodded the modern history books as though they'd readjust their contents if prompted then dropped his head into his hands. This just didn't make any sense! Years of history couldn't just change overnight! But there it all was—everything from the groundbreaking technology emerging from the gaming industry to articles on strange, natural—and some possibly not so natural—disasters that had struck all over the world in recent times. It was almost like he'd woken up in another world or something.
But that was just ridiculous! Wasn't it? What other explanation could there be? He could be dreaming, but he'd pinched himself several times already and it had definitely hurt every time. He'd also considered the possibility that he'd somehow been put into some kind of virtual world like the one he'd met Hiroki in, but the people here were too natural to be programmed. It also felt too real to be either a dream or a virtual simulation.
So if this was all real—because that was the least nonsensical explanation out of the host of impossibilities—then how in the world had he gotten here and how was he going to get back? Closing his eyes, he thought back to what he remembered of the events that had led up to his waking up in the path of a holographic dragon's rampage. He had been at a KID heist. It was the first one he'd gone to since the shutdown of the Black Organization. Kogoro and Ran had been there too, the former having been invited by the jewel's owner despite Nakamori-Keibu's vehement complaints. He'd spent some time catching up with Ran since they hadn't seen much of each other lately. It felt a little odd not seeing her and Kogoro every day after living with them for two years, and he still found himself slipping and addressing her as "Ran-neechan" now and then. It was almost funny how he could tell that Ran was torn between being irritated by that and not minding. It seemed she'd enjoyed being a big sister and it had left its mark both on her and them. But they were comfortable with it and they were still good friends, so he supposed things had worked out for the best. Certainly better than he'd had any right to hope. Anyhow, Hakuba had shown up at some point and come over to introduce himself since he didn't know that they'd actually already met before. He had talked with the British detective for a while about some of their recent cases before the lights went out and KID had arrived with his usual flash and flare.
There hadn't been much time to think about anything but the chase after that. It was as crazy as ever and he would never forget the sight of ten taskforce officers stumbling about in a single, long caterpillar costume. When he'd finally caught up to the thief he'd been mildly surprised to be greeted by a "Welcome back, Tantei-kun, I guess you won your war".
They'd bantered a bit before he made the customary demand for the thief to return the jewel. That was where his memory got a bit confused.
He remembered KID holding out the jewel which didn't look anything like the one Shinichi had seen him steal. It was the same color but the wrong shape. Curious and a bit wary of what tricks the thief might have hidden up his sleeves, Shinichi had reached out to examine the thing and . . .and . . .
He frowned. His memory was a complete blank from that point on until he'd woken up that morning.
Had it had something to do with the gemstone? That had to be it.
So he'd pinpointed the most likely source of the problem. How it was responsible was something he'd have to leave for another time though. The more important question was that of getting back to—to . . .back home. A quick inventory of his personal belongings was no help. He had his case notebook, which was almost brand new and now had several pages of notes on the oddities of this—this world. Ugh, that was hard even to think to himself. He also had several pens, his tranquilizer watch, a backup supply of darts, the newest version of the soccer-belt made to suit his current age, his wallet, cell phone, his Conan glasses, and a small box of Haibara's new temporary shrinking pills (which she'd made because even he had to admit there were times when being a kid was more convenient and which she'd assured him were perfectly safe but should still be for emergencies only). While several of those items were useful while he was on a murder case, they didn't look all that helpful now. The cell phone, usually the most helpful of items when he was lost, was probably useless if his theory was correct.
Fishing said handheld out of his pocket he flipped it open and confirmed that yes, there was no service.
He was about to put the phone away when a hand snatched it right out of his fingers. Startled and annoyed, he looked up to find a rather rough looking teenager dressed like a cross between a wannabe gangster and a drifter turning his phone over in gloved hands. He also had one of those duel disk machines strapped to his arm.
"Not really," Shinichi replied, watching the intruder through narrowed eyes. "However it is mine."
The intruder snorted, making no move to give the phone back. Instead he turned his own glare on the increasingly irate detective. "I heard from some people you were a friend of Wheeler's. So where is he?"
Shinichi blinked slowly at the demand, expression blank. Did this guy think he was stupid? What kind of person in their right mind would help someone acting the way this guy was find anyone, especially if they were friends?
"Oi, you listening to me?"
"I would rather not be," Shinichi said honestly, not bothering to hold back an exasperated sigh. "Are you going to give me back my phone or not?"
The intruder's glare darkened then he smirked and flicked his wrist. The cell phone disappeared. "How about you answer my question, and then I give you the phone?"
Shinichi's hand flashed forward and the intruder's eyes widened as he stepped back. He probably thought he was being attacked, but instead Shinichi plucked his abducted phone from the guy's jacket pocket and tucked it back into his own.
"You can't fool me," he said dryly as he stood up and began gathering his things. "I know someone who can do tricks like that much better than you ever will. Now if you'll excuse me, I have better things to do with my time than answer your questions."
He'd almost gotten to the library doors before the intruder caught up to him again and planted himself squarely in front of the doors. The guy sure was persistent, he'd give him that much. Rude, but persistant.
"You will tell me where Wheeler is!"
"I doubt that," Shinichi sighed, walking around him and making another bid for the door.
"Yeah, he doesn't have to," a familiar voice piped up and they both turned to see the blonde in question emerging from a corridor to their right. Shinichi remembered that the library map had said that corridor led to a small printing center and an exit that opened on to the back lot. "Collin right? I remember you. Didn't you learn yer lesson last time?"
The intruder, Collin, snarled and for a moment Shinichi thought he might actually attack the blonde, but instead he lifted his duel disk like it was a weapon. "I'm ten times better than I was and you're going to pay for embarrassing me last time!"
Joey grinned cockily, obviously eager. "All right then, let's duel. You don't mind do you Shinichi? This shouldn't take very long."
Shinichi shrugged, biting back the urge to reprimand the duelist for using his first name. It hadn't helped the last twenty times he'd said something after all. From what he'd seen of the people in this city—or possibly just the people around Joey—they all treated each other with the same casual friendliness. For Shinichi, who'd had the importance of politeness drilled into him since he was little, it was a little uncomfortable. Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he trailed after the two opponents out to the library's back lot. Truth be told he was really curious. He'd read a lot about the blossoming of the game's popularity and the astounding technology that had come to be considered an integral part of it and he was itching to see how it worked. This time from an angle where he could actually appreciate it.
Settling himself on the steps leading down from the library's backdoor. There was a strip of flagstones between the bottom of the steps and the green lawn beyond where a handful of families were having picnics. Joey and Collin traded decks and shuffled before returning each deck to its respective owner. Then they walked away from each other and activated their duel disks.
"Your move," Joey called out as he spread his hand of cards.
"Shut up! I'll set one monster in defense mode and one card face down." Two enormous cards appeared in front of Collin's feet.
"All right then. I play two cards face down and summon Gearfried the Iron Knight, in attack mode!" A tall, armored knight rose in front of Joey and raised its blade in anticipation. As the blonde duelist called out for the charge it leapt and brought its blade down on the closer of the face down cards. For an instant a bird-like creature appeared before dissolving in a shower of sparks and an echoing screech.
Collin grinned. "Ha! Thanks. You've activated my Owl of Luck's ability. I get to move one field spell card to the top of my deck."
Joey rolled his eyes. "Big deal. I place another card face down and end my turn."
"I'll show you what's a big deal," his opponent sneered. "You handed me your own death sentence! I activate the field spell Zombie World!" Even as the side panel where the newest card was placed slid back into its slot the ground all around their feet went from flagstone to dark, uneven dirt. Shinichi stared, fascinated as horror-movie type trees sprouted all around them and glowing eyes blinked open amidst the branches under rising patches of dirt. It all looked so real! He could even hear the faint twitters and rustling of unseen critters moving amongst the branches. A thin, white fog began to rise, eddying around the duelists' feet and lapping at the steps where Shinichi himself sat. He almost reached out to see if it was damp—it certainly smelled like damp earth and fog—but his attention was dragged back to the game as Collin activated a spell card he called "Field Barrier" then slammed another card onto his duel disk.
"Welcome the Paladin of the Cursed Dragon!"
The sky darkened as storm clouds spread like spilled ink across a sky blue canvas. Then dark, purple lightning flashed and a winged creature burst from the billowing clouds. It was a dragon, but its flesh was translucent as though it was a ghost and Shinichi could clearly see its skeleton inside it. Seated astride the creature's back was an armor-clad warrior with a sword held menacingly in one hand. As the beast landed on the ground in front of Joey's Iron knight the dragon rider turned its head first to the holographic knight then to Joey standing behind it. Even sitting off to the side Shinichi could feel that heavy gaze and it sent a shudder of something akin to fear racing down his spine.
It's just a hologram, he told himself firmly.
"All right Paladin, crush that Iron Knight!" Collin crowed, triumph bright in his eyes. Joey tensed, waiting, but the seconds drew on and nothing happened. Collin's triumphant grin faded into a puzzled scowl. "Hey, what the hell's going on? Attack already!"
The warrior on the dragon's back turned its head in his direction. Then, with a suddenness that had both duelists and Shinichi frozen in shock, the skeletal dragon spun on its heels and snapped at Collin with massive, bony jaws. The boy let out a strangled cry and fell back onto the ground, eyes bulging and mouth agape. Rearing its head back, the dragon screeched and made another dive for him. Collin threw himself sideways then scrambled back to his feet, cards flying in every direction, and bolted. With the duel interrupted Joey's duel disk deactivated and both his Knight and set cards vanished.
The dragon and its rider did not.
And all around them the dark, damp earth terrain began to spread along with the creeping, cloying fog. The smell of both was growing stronger too and Shinichi didn't have to reach out to feel the damp.
Joey cursed. "Damn, we gotta find Yugi."
Kaito stared down at the playing card in his hand in bemusement. The name on it read "Big Canon Ogre", which was rather uncreative but certainly fitting. It had definitely looked ogre-ish and boy had that been a big canon.
"So these . . .monsters are real around here?"
"Well, not usually," Yugi admitted from where he was seated on the couch. "Most of the time they're just part of the game, though Kaiba's holograms can make them pretty real. But the monsters have, well, real counterparts that dwell in the Shadow Realm."
"Is this another world too then?"
"No," Yami said firmly. "Realms are the various dimensions that exist within the same world. Some worlds do not have them, some have many. Realms therefore can interact with each other much more easily whereas worlds themselves are usually entirely separate."
"So then how did I get here?" the magician asked the question he'd been dying to know for a while now. He'd decided to suspend all disbelief for the time being and just see what he could learn. If it turned out in the end that this was all just some grand hallucination then he would at least have had a fun experience. If not, then not believing something just because it was odd wouldn't help him in the least.
"That would depend," the red-eyed teen said after a moment's consideration. "Can you tell us what happened prior to your arrival?"
Kaito pondered this for a moment then nodded. It wasn't as though he had anything to lose, and these people obviously knew things he didn't. They didn't seem half as surprised at his presence as he was to be there after all even if they hadn't expected it either.
"I had just acquired a new gemstone," he began, mentally tweaking a few minor details his audience didn't need to know. "An emerald. It was night time and I was looking at it in the moonlight when it—changed. When I first got it, the thing was sort of egg shaped, but while I was examining it it became a sort of pyramid. An acquaintance of mine wanted a closer look, and when he touched it there was . . ." He paused then shook his head with a rueful grin. "It's kind of hard to describe. There was definitely a lot of light, but it was also like the entire world was twisting, or melting—maybe both. Next thing I knew I was waking up where you found me."
"Have you had any contact with magic before?"
"Not of this variety, no. Though I do know a witch. I don't really think she has anything to do with this either though," he added quickly at their thoughtful looks. "Personally, if I had to point fingers, I'd point it at the jewel."
"That would be the most likely," Yami agreed. "Did you feel anything from the jewel before your friend made contact with it?"
"Just the shape-changing. Does that mean something?"
"Possibly, but I would need to examine the jewel to know what. Either way though I am certain your friend was probably caught up in the same magic you were."
Kaito straightened abruptly in his seat. "So he's somewhere around here too?"
"I believe so. Though I may be wrong. We really need to get a hold of that jewel. Do you know where—" Yami cut himself off abruptly as his head snapped around like a bloodhound scenting prey. "Another one just came through."
"Another one?" Kaito repeated. "Another what?"
Yami was already on his feet and moving, Yugi not far behind, but the smaller boy paused at the question. "Another shadow monster. We have to go find it before anyone gets hurt."
"I'll come with you," the magician said immediately, bounding to his feet.
"Are you sure? It's going to be dangerous."
Kaito's grin widened into a full KID smirk, all razor edges and mischief. "Don't worry. I'm far from helpless."
Shinichi had thought his definition of weird had reached all new heights when he'd been forced to the conclusion that he may very well be in some other dimension. Now he realized that the definition of weird had no boundaries and he hadn't reached anywhere worth mentioning before.
The ground beneath his feet was moist, soft, and uneven. The air was heavy and stuck in his throat as he struggled to breathe. He couldn't have been running for more than ten or fifteen minutes but the lack of stable ground was making it three times harder to run than it should have been. The task was then made another ten times harder by the fact that there was a phantom-skeleton-dragon monster chasing after him under the direction of its a sword-wielding master. Even worse, the ground shifted occasionally not from being loose but because other half-dead looking creatures were slowly rising from it. To his left he could hear Joey muttering something about "stupid shadow magic" and needing to find someone called Yugi.
All around them people were screaming. A part of Shinichi's mind noted that their reactions seemed to indicate that this kind of thing wasn't normal in this world either, even if some of them seemed less surprised than others. It certainly didn't stop them all from making a break for the hills.
Joey had probably been the least surprised of all the people in the monster's near vicinity. He had yanked Shinichi to his feet and said they had to run. The monster liked moving targets and it had come after them (which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing since the only other prey it could have chosen in the immediate area were the picnicking families with their much younger kids). They couldn't run forever though and the bony dragon had much longer legs than they did even if it was slightly awkward on the ground. Thank heavens there wasn't enough room for it to fly.
If this was what advanced holographic technology led to then Shinichi hoped that his own world never, ever developed it.
"Do you have somewhere we can go in mind?" Shinichi panted as he ran. "Or are we just running?"
"We're leadin' that thing to my friend Yugi's house," Joey replied, casting a distracted glance back over his shoulder. Shinichi raised an eyebrow at that but decided not to waste oxygen asking about it. He wouldn't bring this kind of guest to his friend's house, but that was just his opinion. And it sounded like Joey expected this Yugi person to be able to do something about the overly realistic monster.
Joey swore as they rounded the corner and skidded to a stop so that Shinichi had to scramble to avoid running into him. He didn't have to ask why they'd stopped with the monster mere strides behind them. The answer was standing in front of them in the form of six different ghoulish creatures with blank, staring eyes.
Joey gulped and took a step back as the monster brigade advanced. "We're in trouble now."
"And we weren't in trouble before?" Shinichi asked. His mind was racing in search of an escape route. He'd tried a soccer ball on the Paladin, but the black and white shreds in the teeth of his mount showed how well that had worked. These creatures on the other hand weren't as large, so maybe he could get one of them to move aside long enough for him and Joey to get through.
Shinichi's hand froze halfway to his belt. He recognized that voice, but what was it doing here? Turning instinctively to search for its source, he was momentarily blinded by several flash bombs going off all around him and Joey. He could hear the blonde's confused yell as a hand caught his arm. There was a moment of mindboggling motion that his senses didn't seem to want to explain to him. When his vision cleared however he was looking at the distant backs of the monster brigade. Joey was sitting in the dirt not too far away, looking dazed, and standing to Shinichi's other side was—
The magician winced. "No need to yell Tantei-kun, my hearing is perfectly fine."
"What are you doing here?"
The thief shrugged, eyes trained on the monsters who had just realized where the humans had disappeared off to. "Same reason you are most likely. Might I suggest we leave now and talk later?"
The source of the disturbance had, Yugi thought a bit wryly, been easy to find. They'd just had to go against the flow of fleeing people. From the size of the commotion whatever had come through had to be either very powerful or extra nasty—or both.
::I think there may be more than one of them,:: Yami's voice rang out in his mind, sounding slightly baffled. ::There's something . . .strange about them though, like they're not all exactly what they should be.::
:I guess we'd better hurry then,: Yugi thought back, forcing himself to run faster. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of white and he wondered briefly when their visitor had re-donned the costume he'd arrived in. Not that it mattered, he supposed, but it was a bit shocking how quickly the magician could change his appearance.
::He is very skilled,:: Yami agreed. ::I must admit I am surprised that he is not a practitioner.::
:Maybe people in his world don't really practice magic.:
All speculation on the practice of magic in other worlds was cut off as they found themselves on a street that had taken on the physical attributes reminiscent of a haunted forest. By now most people had cleared out of the area, but there were still a few who were scrambling to get away from the creatures slowly clambering up out of the soft ground. In the distance Yugi thought he saw someone who looked an awful lot like Joey and another boy he didn't recognize being surrounded. And there, looming over them, was . . .
:The Paladin of the Cursed Dragon!:
::That was the one we sensed come through,:: Yami replied grimly. ::It also explains all these zombies. They are all being controlled.::
:So if we send it back to the Shadow Realm all the others will go too?:
Nodding, Yugi turned to warn their visitor to remember what they'd told him about shadow beasts only to see the magician vanish. He stared, blinked, then jerked back around as monsters let out angry shrieks. Several blinding flashes of light exploded amidst the group of monsters nearest the Paladin, making the undead creatures cringe. When the sparks cleared Yugi could see that Joey and his companion were gone. A frantic search found them now much closer to Yugi and Yami's position and temporarily out of harm's way along with a familiar, white-clad figure.
"Stop gaping Aibou," Yami admonished lightly, amusement clear in his voice as he selected a handful of cards. "We have work to do."
"I should have guessed you would be right in the middle of the trouble," KID remarked as two almost identical boys with the most unusual hairstyles Shinichi had ever seen ran past them. The shorter one stopped beside them for a moment to give Joey a little shake.
"Joey, are you all right?"
The blonde blinked out of whatever daze he'd been in and his face lit up. "Yugi! You made it! You have any idea what's going on here?"
"We'll explain later," the one called Yugi said hurriedly before looking up at KID and Shinichi with an apologetic smile. "We need to deal with the Paladin first."
"I'm comin' with you," Joey declared, scrambling to his feet and dusting himself off. "Just tell me what ta do."
As the two of them ran off after Yugi's lookalike, Shinichi turned to give KID a searching look. "Do you know what's going on?"
"As in do I know what's going on in general? Or do I know what's going on right here?"
"Both, but here would be a good start."
"Ah, but you were here first, were you not? Perhaps you should tell me."
Shinichi frowned. "All I know is this one person's holographic projection device malfunctioned and somehow managed to produce all this."
"Oh, the holograms! I heard about those. These aren't holograms though Tantei-kun, haven't you noticed you can touch them?"
"What do you mean they're not holograms? What else could they be?"
"I would have thought the answer to that would be fairly obvious, Detective." The thief tensed, noticing that some of the monsters were beginning to turn their way.
"You—you mean some of those things are real?" Shinichi half squeaked half choked. His gaze flew back to the rampaging monsters and just seemed to stick. He literally couldn't tear his eyes away. "That's real?"
"Don't lose it now Tantei-kun," the magician muttered, dragging them both behind one of the tombstone-like rocks that had sprouted from the dark, moist earth along with the twisted trees and zombie beasts. "I hear these things do worse than just eat you."
Shifting onto his knees, Shinichi moved to peer around the boulder. He was greeted by one of the most bizarre scenes he had ever laid eyes on. There on one side loomed the menacing figure of the Paladin and its skeletal mount. Before it was arrayed a veritable army of monsters, all of whom were converging upon Joey and the two boys with the crazy hair. Or at least they were trying to. It was like . . .watching some kind of video game. There were flashes of light and pulses of distorted space. Odd contraptions appeared one moment only to vanish the next. There was even the occasional other monster which would emerge from apparently nowhere to engage one of the Paladin's zombie army in combat before disappearing as quickly as it had come. It was fairly clear that the zombies weren't making any headway against the three humans, but at the same time for every zombie vanquished another would rise to take its place—often the same one that had just been destroyed.
"This has to be some kind of nightmare," Shinichi breathed, trying to convince himself more than anything. This kind of thing didn't happen. It just—didn't.
"Well, I wouldn't call it a nightmare," a new voice remarked. "But it is a bit of a fix. Good thing I got here so fast."
Jumping, Shinichi spun around, his back pressed flat against the boulder. To his left KID too tensed. But the only thing standing before them was a lean, dark-skinned boy with platinum blonde hair.
"Malik Ishtar?" Shinichi gasped in surprise, recognizing the new arrival.
The Egyptian grinned. "The one and only. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a bit of crowd control to do." That said, he pulled a long, golden scepter from his belt and stepped around the boulder to go striding towards the battle for all the world like he was just going for a walk.
"Yo Yugi! Pharaoh! Just leave the cronies to me and get rid of that eyesore with the sword!" As he spoke, Malik raised his scepter and the decorative sphere with the eye-pattern on its end flashed a brilliant gold. In it s harsh light almost all the monsters froze. Malik himself now wore an expression of fierce concentration.
The taller of the lookalikes immediately darted forward through the unmoving masses to face the Paladin. He was chanting something but Shinichi didn't recognize the language even as the syllables echoed and vibrated in the air in a way no sound was meant to. It made the air tingle with a sense of heavy, age-old power. Each word drew the world in closer and all other sounds faded until all that existed was that voice and its speaker. Then, with a final, commanding snap of syllables, the Paladin's mount reared back and screeched an ear-piercing cry before it, its master, the paralyzed monsters, and even the unnatural scenery vanished, leaving behind nothing but an ordinary city street.
"It seems your arrival caused a temporary breech between realms—more specifically, the Shadow Realm and our human one," Yami concluded. He, Yugi, Malik, Joey, and the two otherworldly visitors had retreated to the Kame Game Shop after the incident with the Paladin. There introductions had been made all around before the red-eyed duelist explained his take on the current spate of monster sightings.
"That's how the monsters are getting through," Malik added, absently twirling his golden scepter around and around in his hand. "I ran into a few over by the museum earlier too. Most of them seem to be coming through where duels are in progress, probably because that's where the realms are naturally drawn together already."
"So then it's our fault the monsters are appearing?" Shinichi frowned, guilt creeping through his stomach in acid tendrils. "Is there any way we can help?"
"Don't worry too much about it," Yugi replied, smiling a bit sheepishly. "This kind of thing happens all the time really. We just need to seal all the breeches back up and things will go back to normal."
"I will have to examine the object that caused the breech before I can properly seal them however," Yami interjected. "Any patching done otherwise would be taking care of the aftermath without solving the problem itself. Do either of you know where this jewel of yours is?"
Shinichi turned to the thief but KID only shook his head. "I don't have it. It was in my hand when this all started, but it was gone by the time I got here."
There was a long moment of contemplative silence in the living room before Malik let out an irritated sigh. "It's a pity Ryou's in England right now or we could've used the Ring to find it."
"Well that's no help," Joey scoffed. "Man, doesn't that mean this thing could be anywhere?"
"I doubt it could have gone too far," Yami mused. "A device made for traveling would hardly be useful if it got lost the moment it was used. It seems more likely that something about its makeup bounces it away from its users but that it would remain within a reasonable distance."
"Well, first thing's first," Yugi announced, drawing everyone's attention. He turned to the two travelers. "What does it look like?"
"It's an emerald," Shinichi answered. "Or at least it was . . ."
"And last I saw it was shaped like a pyramid about this big." KID held up his hands to indicate an object slightly smaller than a clenched fist.
"So we're lookin' for a small, green rock," Joey grumbled. "That's not gonna be easy."
Malik straightened up abruptly. "Wait a moment. An emerald pyramid? Are you sure that's what it looks like?"
The thief and the detective traded looks before they both nodded.
The Egyptian grinned, lavender eyes flashing. "Isis told me she found a small pyramid made of green stone when she was unpacking the last exhibit today. She thought someone put it in as a last minute addition but I'll bet that's your jewel."
"Can you bring it here?" Yami asked.
Malik nodded. "Sure. It'll have to wait until tomorrow evening though. Isis'll want to know what's going on and I'll have to, uh, do some arranging so no one misses it."
"You guys don't mind waiting do you?" Yugi asked, turning his attention back to the travelers.
"I doubt one day will make much difference," the magician replied, shrugging. "Tantei-kun?"
"I don't mind."
The diminutive duelist beamed. "All right then. You two can stay here the night if you want. Gramps is in Egypt right now so one of you can stay in his room and the other can use the guest room."
Shinichi nodded. "Thank you."
"Shouldn't you be sleeping?"
Shinichi looked up from his notebook to find KID leaning over the back of the couch. "Shouldn't you?"
"Are you kidding?" the magician laughed, vaulting the back of the couch to land neatly in the seat beside Shinichi. "We're in another world! Never needed much sleep anyway."
"Why am I not surprised?" the detective muttered a bit dryly, turning his attention back to his writing.
Curious, the thief leaned over to get a better look at what he was writing. "Why are you documenting everything that happened today? And with time stamps? This isn't one of your cases you know."
Scowling, Shinichi shut his notebook. "If you must know, I'm writing it all down so that when this is over I'll have some evidence that I'm not crazy and that this really happened. Ugh, Hattori's never going to believe this," he added to himself, voice growing quieter. Then he groaned as another thought struck. "How am I going to explain all this to Ran?"
"Worried about your girlfriend?" the magician asked mockingly.
"Ran is not my girlfriend," he snapped. "We're best friends! I don't know why everyone thinks that just because we grew up together we have to get married one day or whatever! There's no unwritten rule in the universe that says childhood friends have to be couples. Heck, she was my sister for two years for heaven's sake! I—"
"All right, all right! I get it," the magician interjected, raising both his hands in a placating gesture. "Sheesh, someone got up on the wrong side of the bed."
"And it's all your fault!" Shinichi snarled, all the frustrated confusion from earlier that day making an abrupt resurgence at the thief's apparent lack of concern for any of it. "If you hadn't stolen that stupid jewel we wouldn't be here! Has it even occurred to you that we might not be able to get back?"
There was a moment of ringing silence. Then Shinichi's breath left him in a rush and he closed his eyes. "Sorry, I didn't mean to snap . . ."
"No, I understand." The magician's voice grew serious as his grin faded. "And yes, Detective, it did occur to me. However, no amount of fretting on either of our parts is going to change anything either way."
Shinichi stared into grim, indigo eyes, reading in them the same fear that had been steadily growing in his own chest all day. It was the fear that he would never be able to see his friends or family again—that everything he knew might just have been torn away from him by a single moment in the moonlight and a single, ill chosen action. Unable to hold his gaze, Shinichi looked away.
They sat there in the living room for a long time after that, each lost in their own thoughts.
The following morning found Yugi and Joey taking the two travelers to the various sights of Domino since Malik wouldn't be bringing the jewel until late evening and KID insisted he wasn't about to leave the first other world he'd ever been to without a good look around. When asked about why Yami hadn't come with them, Yugi laughed (a bit nervously, Shinichi thought) and said that the other was resting but that he'd be there if they needed him. Shinichi had to admit that the day had been pleasant, even if he felt strange walking beside the Kaitou KID in casual wear, albeit with a baseball cap and his monocle still in place. He had to wonder if the thief found the situation as awkward as he felt, but if he did KID wasn't showing it.
About halfway through the tour Yugi had been accosted by several people wanting to duel him. That was when they'd learned that the boy was apparently some kind of gaming legend. As both KID and Shinichi were still fascinated by the technology, Yugi had ended up accepting a few of the challenges. This time the duels went uninterrupted with Joey giving the two travelers a running commentary and explaining the game.
"This really is incredible," KID remarked with a shake of the head as they made their way back to the game shop. "Who would have thought a card game could inspire the creation of such sophisticated technology."
"What I find interesting is how this game seems to have turned into a way to settle disputes," Shinichi mused. "Just imagine. If everyone could solve their differences just by playing a game . . ." But of course it probably wasn't that simple. Still . . .the idea was almost like a dream.
"We're here," Yugi announced as he pushed open the door to the game shop. "Do you guys want anything to drink?"
Yami joined them as they congregated in the living room once again (Shinichi noted absently that he hadn't seen the teen come in, but he must have just missed him). Joey ordered pizza and the rest of the evening was spent in casual conversation. The duelists wanted to know more about the world their visitors were from They were surprised to discover that Shinichi was a homicide detective and he found himself telling them about a few of his cases. He wound up mostly talking about the venture through the virtual reality RPG since he figured the gamers would find that more interesting and it wasn't as gruesome as many of the other cases he'd seen.
They had only just finished eating when Malik arrived with a triumphant grin on his face.
"I got it!" he announced the moment he was through the door. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out something green and tossed it to Yami who caught it deftly. There, resting in the palm of his hand, was a pyramid that looked like it had been made of dark green glass.
"Is this it?" he inquired, showing it to Shinichi and KID. They both nodded. Frowning, crimson eyes focused on the jewel as it was turned over and examined from all sides. Everyone else in the room waited with bated breath. Finally he nodded decisively to himself and sat back to regard them all with a serious expression. "From what I can tell, this translocater won't work for just anyone. The energy you two possess just happens to be compatible with it so it's bonded to you."
"Bonded?" Shinichi repeated. "How can a rock bond with anything let alone a living organism?"
The look Yami was giving him was definitely amused. "Magic works with its own set of rules. And there are as many different types of magic out there as there are types of people. This particular 'rock' of yours really only seems to have two rules you need worry about. One, it cannot act unless it is in contact with at least two compatible sources of energy. It needs the contrast. As its current source is you two, it will continue to function for you two until one or both of you are no longer able, in which case it will become dormant again. And two, each time it does activate it must be reset again by exposure to moonlight before it can be used again."
"Can we make it take us home?" the magician asked.
Crimson eyes grew grim. "Not directly. Each time the gem is reset it randomly aligns itself to a different world. The shape it takes depends on which world that is, so that should give you some idea of the kind of world you're headed for, but again, it seems to be random. I can only assume it was created by someone with an extreme case of wanderlust."
Both Shinichi and KID fell silent at that revelation.
"But that doesn't mean you can't get home," Yugi pointed out hurriedly. "It just might take a bit of time."
"Yugi's right," Joey agreed. "You just need a little luck."
"And a great deal of patience," Malik muttered under his breath. "But hey, you never know. Magic has a way of coming full circle."
"Why don't we go outside?" Yugi suggested as he cast a glance out the window. "The moon's full tonight."
"Don't you need this though?" the magician asked, holding up the gem that Yami had just passed to him. "To fix those breeches that are letting the monsters through?"
"Now that I've examined the cause I can deal with it. You'll have to leave first anyway as it's likely your leaving will affect the realms the same way your arrival did."
The moon's silvery light gilded everything in pearl dust and diamonds as the four duelists, one detective, and one magician stood gathered in the game shop's backyard. Everyone watched as the magician held out his hand, palm up, with the glittering gem resting upon it. No one dared speak as the moon's touch ghosted pale fingers over its dark surfaces. For a moment there was nothing. Then the pyramid shaped stone shifted, smoothed, grew longer and thinner until it had become a long, thin cylinder.
Kaitou KID let out his breath in a hiss, a barely detectible flicker of disappointment flashing through his eyes. "Well, guess that answers that. Unknown destination it is."
Shinichi swallowed and nodded, not trusting himself to speak. It wasn't as though he'd expected they'd be lucky enough for it to just take them straight home, but part of him had still been hoping . . . Well, there was no help for it now.
"Hold on a moment," Yami said suddenly and Shinichi froze with his hand already halfway to the jewel. "You should take this with you." Stepping forward, the crimson-eyed duelist held out his right hand. It was empty, but he muttered something under his breath and suddenly it wasn't empty. There was a card lying across his palm. "Take it."
Hesitantly, Shinichi picked up the card and peered at it in the moon's soft light. It was a Duel Monsters card. The name on the card read "Noah's Messenger". The image of a snow white dove carrying a twig in its beak while soaring through a sky spangled with stars was printed beneath the words. Below that was a short inscription that stated "[Winged Beast] Quick and keen of eye, this little avian can find almost anything. ATK 1200 : DEF 1850".
"Think of it as a guide."
"A guide?" the detective repeated, looking up from the card. "But how . . ." He trailed off as his eyes widened. The card was glowing. He let go of it involuntarily but it didn't fall. Instead it shifted and grew, filling out until it became the same bird that had been only a picture a moment ago. It chirruped at him as though in greeting and he backed away in surprise. It chirped again, sounding almost sad, and fluttered over to perch on KID's shoulder where it peered curiously under his hat brim and he peered curiously back.
Yami chuckled. "There's no need to be afraid of her. She will help you find what you need."
"Oh, uh, thank you . . ." Turning back to the dove-creature, who was looking at him again, Shinichi hesitated then looked down. "Sorry."
It—she?—cooed happily and KID laughed. "I guess it's time to go then."
"You know, you could always stay here a few more days if you want," Yugi offered. "I mean, we wouldn't mind."
Shinichi considered the idea for a moment then shook his head. "I think I'd rather go now before I lose my nerve. I'm ready to go now. I'm not sure I will be anymore if we wait longer. KID?"
"Kaito," the magician corrected, taking off his baseball cap and making it vanish in a puff of smoke before doing the same to his monocle. "Kuroba Kaito."
Shinichi stared at him for a moment, torn between surprise and the sudden impulse to turn around like he'd seen something he shouldn't. Which, in a way, he had. "What—"
"We might be traveling together for quite some time through who knows what kind of places. I don't know about you, but I don't think having to keep a lot of secrets from each other at the same time is going to make things any easier."
"I . . .suppose you're right," Shinichi agreed hesitantly. He could see the logic of it, of course, but it was still . . .odd, like some kind of rule had been broken. On the other hand, they were in another world. Now was not the time to be worrying about trivial things like KID unmasking himself. And, truth be told, it was kind of nice that the thief was willing to trust him with the information, despite the fact that he couldn't use it now even if he wanted to so the risk could be considered negligible. "I guess we should get going?"
"Yep. No time like the present."
"It was good meetin' you guys," Joey told them with an easy grin.
"Don't spend too much time looking back," Malik advised, lavender eyes twinkling.
"Good luck," Yugi said, offering them a reassuring smile. "I hope you guys get home soon."
"And be careful," Yami warned. "There are a lot of different worlds out there, and danger can take many forms."
"We'll keep that in mind," Shinichi assured them. "And thank you, for everything."
"We'll take good care of your gift," Kaito added, grinning as he stroked the little white bird with a finger. Farewells complete, he held the now long and thin stone out to Shinichi.
The moment both their hands were on the gem it flashed with white light, the world rippled like the surface of a lake that had just swallowed a pebble, and they were gone.
Next: Aurors and Detectives, Magicians and Wizards (Harry Potter)
A.N: Questions, comments, etc, all welcome ^_^