A.N: Er, I'll apologize now for the lack of any real interaction with the actual crew. The problem was I couldn't find anywhere online to re-watch the series and the last time I watched Voyager was years and years ago. Therefore I can't really remember how people talked, etc. So yeah, fortunately, the point of this chapter didn't need them to be very involved.
Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK or Star Trek
10: A Glimpse of Home
(World 10: Star Trek - Voyager)
Over the course of their travels, it had become abundantly clear that the variety of worlds in existence were as numerous and different as the imagination could produce—more so, in fact, as they were both sure that there were many things out there they could not even begin to imagine. Similarly, the hazards in these worlds ranged just as widely up and down the scale. Therefore each time they made a jump they were leaping into an unknown situation head first and figuratively blindfolded. So they took their rest where they could and it had become habit, whenever possible, to wait until after they'd gotten a full night's sleep before heading back out onto the road. Each leap felt a little like heading into battle. There was the tension of knowing you had to be ready to move at any moment and the sharpness of the senses brought on by the knowledge that the future could be even more uncertain than it always was. Of course, the fact that they didn't always arrive conscious and the way the fabric of space warping around you disoriented the senses didn't help at all, but they had to make do with what they had.
Shinichi had found that it was easier to keep his bearings if he kept his eyes shut during the translocation. Once the blaze of green light had vanished from beyond his eyelids, he opened them again and looked around. Today, however, he couldn't see a single thing. It was pitch black in every direction. Not only that, he couldn't hear anything either.
"Hello?" he called out softly, reaching his hands out and sweeping them through the air to see what he could find. His fingertips encountered nothing but air—air that was so still that he was probably indoors. The smoothness of the surface beneath his feet compounded this belief.
He nearly jumped out of his skin at the sudden introduction of sound into the absolute silence. "Kaito?"
"Hold on a moment. Let's see…" There was another moment of silence. Then a soft, white glow bloomed in the darkness. It formed into a ball of radiance a little larger than the average candle flame and it was hanging unsupported in the air four inches above Kaito's open palm. It lit his face from below, giving it a rather eerie cast. It also dusted their surroundings in shades of gray. With its aid they could see that they were surrounded by boxes. Large, heavy, nondescript boxes that did not appear to be made of wood.
"It appears to be some kind of storage room," Shinichi concluded.
"Indeed. Do you happen to see a door?"
"Could it be that?" Shinichi pointed to a large, rectangular patch in the wall that was about the size of a door. It had no handles though. Neither could they see any light around its edges. Either it was night out there or the door didn't open to the outside.
"Electronically locked, perhaps?" Kaito suggested, indicating a panel in the wall beside the door. Tossing his light up to hang over their heads like their own personal moon, he made his way over to inspect it. In only a matter of seconds he had the panel removed and lying on the ground by his feet. That was, however, where progress halted as the magician stared at the mechanics of what he had revealed.
"What's the matter?" Shinichi asked finally, impatience warring with growing concern.
"Well… Let's just say, this is the most high tech warehouse I've ever had the privilege of being in."
Frowning, Shinichi moved to join Kaito in front of the open panel. It was his turn to stare. He was no slouch when it came to mechanics, but he couldn't make heads or tails out of what they were looking at either.
"I see two options here," the magician declared after several more seconds of silence. "We can poke around in this panel and see if anything happens, or we can try to force the door. I should be able to manage a good blast of something."
Shinichi couldn't help but look up at the bobbing light over their heads again before he glanced back at the door. "And leave a gaping hole in the door? That's not like you."
"Well, it's not ideal, certainly, but we have to make do with what we can. If we had a computer, I'd try to hook it up to this contraption and see if we can make something of it, but as it is we don't really have much in the way of tools."
"It would be too risky to just wait," Shinichi sighed. "But let's see if we can pull the doors open before you try to demolish it. If it's built like your usual sliding doors, there is the possibility that we could open them enough to get out."
Kaito shrugged. "All right, but I don't think they look like the kind to give."
Whether or not the doors were the kind to give, they never got the chance to find out. It was just as they were standing up from their examination of the panel that the doors let out a hiss and slid open to admit a rush of armed men.
Shinichi assumed they were armed because the little objects they were holding and pointing at him and Kaito were being held and pointed in the manner of weapons. What the objects actually were, he didn't know. Like the electrical panel, they were of an entirely foreign design. The men were also all clad in what were clearly uniforms with small, shiny badges over their hearts. His mind labeled them immediately as security guards—well trained ones at that.
Kaito reacted purely on instinct. The appearance of a bunch of armed men in uniforms switched him instantly into kaitou gear and he dropped a smoke bomb, grabbed Shinichi, and legged it out the now open door before anyone else in the room could blink. Behind them, they heard someone shout something like "we found them", though who they thought they had to tell was a mystery to Shinichi. All their companions would know that already after all and none of them were holding anything that resembled a phone or walkie-talkie.
"Why are we running?!" Shinichi asked through a brief coughing fit caused by having inadvertently inhaled a lungful of smoke. At least it wasn't sleeping gas.
Kaito picked up his pace. "You have to ask? Tantei-kun, we are being chased by armed security guards who found us in their territory without an excuse."
"But now we look like they caught us committing a crime," Shinichi pointed out.
Kaito couldn't help the laugh that burst from his mouth at that. "Yes, well, we were about to bust the doors open. Seriously Tantei-kun, is now really the time to be worrying about trivial details like that?"
The problem, Shinichi noted, was that it didn't look like they were going to be getting out of here any time soon. However, the more they ran, the guiltier they looked. On the other hand, good security shouldn't shoot first and ask questions later. Hopefully, that was a universal ideology.
What Kaito hadn't counted on was the invisible barrier across the corridor beyond that they almost ran right into except that Shinichi dug in his heels just in time. How he could tell it was there, Kaito had no idea, but by now he was used to Shinichi's seeing things that weren't there (er, well, were there, but not really there in the normal sense anyway). By then, however, their pursuers had caught up. This was just not their day.
The security guards were remarkably polite for guards, but they were also wary. The travelers had been escorted to meet their captain, a woman by the name of Kathryn Janeway. There they had learned that they were on a starship (a.k.a. spaceship) called Voyager. The ship's occupants were surprised to learn that they were human (and it really was kind of bizarre how often people had been surprised to discover that fact in the worlds they had traveled through). In this case, however, they were surprised because this particular ship was currently decades of faster-than-light travel away from Earth and the area of space in which humans were more commonly found. It turned out this ship had been dragged out to what sounded like basically the middle of nowhere a few years back by a piece of alien technology and now they were searching for their way home.
The story sounded eerily familiar to Shinichi. It reminded him uncannily of their own situation.
The idea of dimensions wasn't a new one to their new acquaintances. They did seem to find the whole concept of a stone that dragged people across the universes intriguing but not overly shocking. They wanted to examine it. That was when the travelers remembered with a certain shock of horror that they hadn't found it yet—and they were in a spaceship.
It was tied to them, Shinichi reminded himself. It wouldn't go dropping itself in outer space while tossing them into a ship traveling zillions of miles at high speeds away from it, right? Right. It couldn't be so convenient as to land itself with them because of that whole bouncing thing he couldn't claim to fully understand, but it was generally somewhere reasonably within reach unless someone else had found it first.
A scan of the ship turned up nothing. Just as the panic was tying its shoes to begin charging, Aome came to the rescue by leading them right back to the storage bay they had first appeared in. There they found their wayward stone tucked away in a corner. It turned out none of the ship's considerable wealth of technology could tell anything about the stone. They didn't even register its existence. It was like it wasn't really there at all but on another plane of existence entirely. And, well, all things considered, maybe that was precisely what it was.
They were asked to go to the ship's sickbay and get a checkup just in case, since they had to be careful about health and hygiene in such an enclosed environment. The holographic doctor (who reminded Shinichi of the holograms from their first stop only even more alive and physically tangible) had given them the all clear and they had been given a tour of the areas of the ship they would need to know and a guest room.
A few of the technicians had helped them synthesize some moonlight, but the translocater hadn't responded to it. It seemed the magic of the stone didn't work simply by coming into contact with the right kind of rays. That or it registered the machines as much as they registered it—in other words, not at all. They had ended up leaving the translocater on the table by the small window in their room. They figured it would change when they passed within reach of the next suitable moon. In the meantime they could kick back and relax.
They had spent that entire first day beside that window, staring out into the blackness. It was breathtaking and not only because it was vast and endless. It was, after all, outer space. Somehow endless deserts on a different planet with two moons wasn't quite the same as actually seeing space up close and personal—or as up close as anyone could get to something that, for all intents and purposes, had no boundaries and no substance. And when they had just gotten used to the idea of life on another planet too.
Funny that. Shinichi couldn't help but wonder if there was any connection between that thought and where the translocater had decided to bring them. After all, Yuuko had told them it was listening. The question was, listening to what?
The question lingered in the back of his mind as they settled in to life on the Voyager. With so much time on their hands and nothing they were supposed to do but wait, he found himself returning to it over and over again. He'd started sketching out diagrams in his notebook of the worlds they had been to and the various aspects that defined them. There was definitely something there, he'd decided, but he still couldn't say what for sure. In the meantime there were so many new and inexplicable things that it was impossible to get bored.
"Hey Shinichi, guess what I just found!"
Shinichi lowered the gadget he'd found in their room that he was turning over and over in a vain attempt to understand and awarded the magician a flat look. "Can't you just tell me? I mean, I know and I know that you know that I couldn't possibly guess what you just found."
Kaito laughed, sliding into the seat beside the detective and looping an arm over his shoulders. "I found this room with this big platform in it that they apparently use to transport people across certain distances. It takes people apart and puts them back together somewhere else. That way they can, for instance, get down to a planet's surface to look around without having to actually land the ship."
Shinichi mulled this information over for a moment. "So they chop people into little pieces, hurl them through space, and reassemble them miles and miles away?"
"That seems to be the idea—or at least that's how I understood the explanation the engineers gave me."
"And people survive this?" He couldn't keep the incredulity out of his voice. He was willing to believe a lot of things these days that he would never have given a second thought to in the past, but that… Well, there were limits even to being open-minded. "Without problems?"
"Obviously. It's not that hard to believe is it?"
Shinichi turned the idea over a few more times before letting out a resigned sigh. "Unfortunately, I guess it's not." Leaning back in his seat, he glanced again towards the window. He didn't think he'd ever get tired of looking out at the ocean of stars and passing planets. "Do you think our world's going to end up like this one someday?"
Kaito shrugged. "It depends on how far space travel gets and if aliens exist."
"I want to show you something."
Looking up from the mug of coffee he had just acquired from the replicator, Shinichi blinked slowly. He'd only just gotten up and frankly he wasn't really awake yet even if his eyes were open. Already not a morning person, the fact that there was no such thing as a sunrise or set to tell time by, his personal clock had been going a bit haywire.
Seeing the uncomprehending expression on the detective's face, Kaito suppressed a laugh and moved to pull Shinichi to his feet. The large, white cat that had been sleeping on the detective's lap let out a discontented hiss as it landed lightly on the floor and shot Kaito a disgruntled look before turning into a dove and flying off to join the other doves currently napping on a ledge above Kaito's bed. The magician raised an eyebrow at him before turning to steer Shinichi out of the room. He had the feeling that Kishiro was getting bored—not that he could blame him. They had decided to confine their magical and animal companions to their room to avoid unnecessary complications.
Shinichi buried his nose in his mug, trusting his companion to lead him wherever it was he wanted them to go without incident. Hopefully by the time they got there he would be awake enough to deal with whatever Kaito had in store for him. Strange, he would have thought the idea of walking blindly into something Kaito had been plotting for over the past several days should fill him with dread—or at least an acute sense of anxiety. It didn't though. If his thoughts were just a bit clearer, he might even admit to a certain degree of curious anticipation.
The magician was talking now but it wasn't to him so he didn't really bother listening to it. Except then his mug disappeared and he let out a disgruntled noise of complaint and finally looked up. He had the briefest glimpse of a rather barren room (the holodeck?) but then it was gone.
And all around them Tokyo materialized as though they had been transported from the bare, unadorned chamber right onto one of the city's streets.
There were the skyscrapers, their gleaming windows bright under the morning sun as they reached towards the clear, cloudless sky. There were the people flowing in streams along the streets, the constant, mingling murmur of their voices and their laughter floating over their heads like a soft cloud. There were the cars with all their colorful shells sparkling like jewels as they added the roar of engines and the honking of horns to the buzzing harmony of city life. There was even the smell of all the restaurants and traffic and sun-warmed cement. All of it washed over the two travelers like a palpable wave of life.
It was home, and yet it wasn't, and Shinichi found he wasn't sure if he was feeling less homesick or more.
"So what do you think""
Dragging his eyes away from the distant silhouette of Tokyo Tower, Shinichi found Kaito watching him with an expectant gleam in his eyes. The detective took a moment to recollect his wits and steady his nerves. He was more shaken by it all than he cared to admit.
"It's so real," he managed finally, dismayed at the slight hitch he heard in his own voice.
"They have programs for most major Earth cities through the ages," Kaito explained, tactfully ignoring the tremor in his companion's voice. "Since you can add your own modifications, I took their program for late twentieth to early twenty first century Tokyo and made a few tweaks."
"What kind of tweaks?" Shinichi asked, curious. It was easier to focus on what was happening than try to analyze the strange, twisting sensation in his stomach.
"I'll show you. Come on."
"Welcome to Ekoda!" Kaito declared, throwing his arms out to either side in a grandiose gesture as though to encompass all of the city before them. "Home to the great Kaitou KID! If you look to your right, you will see the Ekoda High School campus. It's not all that different from any other high school, but I hear it has some of the best parties you'll find anywhere in Tokyo! Courtesy of yours truly, of course."
"Now, if you'll come this way, you'll find the most popular ice cream parlor in the area. It's famous for its massive variety of fresh, fruit toppings. A little farther and we have Minazuri's Household Necessities!"
Shinichi gave the shop a puzzled once over. "Do they really only sell mops?"
"Er, well, no, but it was the only thing that came to mind." Kaito shrugged. "It's where Aoko gets hers. Really that's the only reason I ever took note of the place."
"So…Nakamori-san buys a lot of mops?"
"It depends. She breaks them every so often, and sometimes they—get lost."
Shinichi suspected that 'lost' probably wasn't quite the right word, but Kaito had already draped an arm over his shoulders and was moving on. He was introduced to a variety of other shops and landmarks of the Ekoda district, some of which he'd seen before but most of which were new to him. The magician had even included the Ekoda police station on their list of places to visit. Shinichi had to admit that he only heard half of what was said though. It wasn't that he wasn't interested. It was just that he couldn't help but notice how the arm that had been on his shoulders earlier had, somewhere along the way, made its way downward to drape around his waste. It was a very relaxed kind of contact but it was still much closer than he was used to being with anyone. What was distracting him however was his own surprise at how comfortable he was with the gesture. It helped that he knew all the people walking past them were only holograms but it still made him wonder… For the first time, he found himself thinking that maybe things really could work out.
"So," Kaito concluded as they came to a stop outside the main entrance to Ekoda Park, "now that you've had the grand tour, where would you like to go first? If you're hungry, we can head over to Castle Cuisines. It's got some of the best food in the district and they've got just about anything you could want on the menu. If you'd rather eat later, I was thinking we could go to the aquarium first."
"I'm not hungry yet, so—wait. The aquarium?" Shinichi repeated in disbelief. "Are you…sure? You're not sick, are you?" He reached up to check but the magician didn't seem to have a fever. "I thought you really hated fi—"
"But that's why we're going today," Kaito cut in before he could finish, grin widening until it looked like he was about to split his face in half. "Today's the only day it's gonna be full of things worth seeing!"
With that, he grabbed Shinichi's hand and started to haul him down the street towards the Ekoda aquarium. The detective stumbled before he got his feet under him properly and began running to keep from being dragged. His companion sure seemed eager.
"What do you mean?" he asked as they raced down the sidewalk, miraculously not bumping into a single passerby. "What did you put in it?"
"Ah, so you guessed! That's my Tantei-kun," the magician laughed, beaming. "You'll just have to wait and see~!"
The woman at the aquarium's front desk smiled brightly at them as they came in and waved for them to head straight in. Apparently they didn't need to purchase tickets. Shinichi paused by the visitor information stand, reaching for one of the building maps, but Kaito snagged his wrist before his fingertips had even come in contact with the glossy paper and he was being towed away again.
"You'll ruin the surprise," he said by way of explanation.
"Why did you even bother programming them in then?" Shinichi grumbled.
"…Of course. I guess I should've known."
"Yep. Now come on, this is going to be awesome!"
Not sure if he should be nervous but curious nonetheless, Shinichi let Kaito lead him into what appeared to be the aquarium's central chamber. The entire wall before them was composed of one, massive tank. Open archways to either side led into a series of other exhibits. Clusters of other visitors were drifting in and out of those exhibits. Kaito brought them to a halt beside the tank wall. The tank itself must have truly been enormous because neither the far wall nor the floor was visible. Looking up however you could see the faint shimmer of light that suggested that the top of the tank was open to the sky.
"Okay, so there are six main branches of exhibits in here," the magician began, sweeping an arm out to indicate the building at large.
That was when the dragon swam by. It was long and covered in glimmering, aquamarine scales. For such a massive creature, it flowed through the water with supernatural grace. It paused by the glass and turned for a moment, huge, golden eyes examining the two humans on the other side, before it turned and continued on its way. Shinichi stared after it in awe, almost forgetting to breathe.
Kaito let out a low whistle. "Wow, it turned out a lot better than I expected."
"It's incredible," Shinichi breathed, eyes fixed on the graceful shape gliding through the waters. Another dragon had appeared to join the first. This one had scales the color of pearls that shimmered in the soft light within the tank. Pale rainbows ghosted over its scales as it moved.
The grin on the magician's face grew, if possible, even wider. He did so love when someone appreciated his work. Eventually though he had to interrupt the moment.
"We still have the rest of the exhibits to see," he reminded Shinichi, wrapping an arm around the shorter boy's shoulders and prying him away from the mesmerizing sight. "You can see them again before we go."
The dragons were indisputably the highlight of the aquarium as dictated by Kaito, but they certainly weren't the only astounding creatures to be seen. There were the two prehistoric exhibits where they were presented with everything from trilobites to plesiosaurs. A kraken made a brief appearance from the black depths of one particularly dimly lit tank that had been built into one exhibit's floor. One massive, round, yellow eye glowed at them from beneath their feet as the creature's thousand tentacle arms made twisting, ghostly patterns in every direction.
"I think that one was unnecessarily creepy. What possessed you to put it under the floor?"
Kaito made a thoughtful noise in his throat. "I thought it would be cool, but I guess it might scare some people away."
The midmorning show involved yet another gargantuan tank where a sea serpent with a head the size of a sailboat was presented with a full-sized model ship which it happily crushed to bits. Afterward it posed for pictures with the wreck, looking rather pleased with itself in its own, reptilian way. It even allowed several of the more daring children in the audience to climb onto its back. For a creature that seemed to delight in its ability to reduce ships to driftwood, it apparently had a very friendly, playful nature.
In the end the sea mammal exhibit was perhaps the most normal as far as occupants were concerned—except, of course, that the museum had somehow managed to acquire two blue whales. The tank had to be bigger than the actual museum, but Shinichi supposed the discrepancy didn't really matter to a hologram no matter how real it felt. There was even a whole pod of dolphins. Granted, the pod consisted of multiple dolphin species, including the Amazon Pink Dolphin.
"You know they're river dolphins, right?"
"Of course," was the amiable reply. "It adds to the variety."
Before they left the reception lady helped them take pictures in front of the dragons, who swam obligingly closer. Their large, bejeweled eyes seemed to be smiling as they gazed down at the tiny humans below. It kind of gave Shinichi the impression that the dragons were enjoying watching their visitors just as much as their visitors were watching them.
Kaito thanked the lady and the two made their way out of the aquarium. "The computer will print them for us. So are you hungry yet?"
Shinichi opened his mouth but his stomach beat him to the punch with a growl. He blushed in embarrassment and Kaito laughed.
"I'll take that as a yes."
They had lunch at the Castle Cuisine restaurant that Kaito had mentioned before. The place offered dishes from all around the world in an airy, well lit building decorated with paintings of old castles from different countries and time periods.
"Back home, this place had the best chocolate cake—after Mom's anyway. I got it to look right, but I had to choose a recipe from their database for the actual product." Forking up a chunk of the dark, brown dessert, Kaito put it in his mouth.
"So does it compare to the original?" Shinichi asked curiously.
The magician put on a show of chewing slowly and swallowing before sinking into a thinking pose. "I'd give it a nine out of ten."
"Well, it's just not quite the same," he admitted. "Not that it isn't still good. But I guess that's only to be expected."
A solemn silence fell over the table then. They could make this place look like home, but it would never be real. Shinichi found himself wondering if the Voyager's crew members ever used their holodeck technology this way—to get a glimpse of the home they were trying so hard to return to. If they did, did they too feel this strange sense of disconnectedness? If they didn't, did they avoid it because they knew that holograms could never really compare with the real thing?
It was a sweet kind of ache though, being so close yet so very, very far away. This facsimile of home may only be an illusion but it was also the closest they could get at the moment to the real deal.
"So how's your pie?" the thief asked eventually, deciding it was time for a change of topic.
"It's good." Recognizing the change for what it was, Shinichi forked the last piece of said pie into his mouth. "So where to now?"
Kaito's face broke out into a grin. This time though, there was a certain quality to the expression that his companion couldn't remember ever having seen there before. "You'll see when we get there."
"This is where I live—or, well, where I would be living anyway." Leading the way up to the front door, Kaito opened it before stepping aside and sweeping into a deep bow. "After you."
Shinichi rolled his eyes at the theatrics though he was really more amused than anything else (it was funny really. When had the thief's antics become a comfort?). Cautiously, he stepped over the threshold and halted. He half expected something to explode but nothing did. In fact, it looked like any other ordinary house. The kitchen, the living room—all of it looked exactly how you would expect in any random house you walked into.
"Is there a problem?" Kaito's amused voice inquired as he watched Shinichi inspecting the kitchen cabinets like he thought they might contain hidden treasures (or maybe hidden landmines).
Shinichi looked up at the question then blushed as he realized exactly what he was doing and how rude it was. "Sorry, it's just—I kind of expected something…more."
"More?" the magician repeated, eyebrows rising to his hairline. Then his face split into a devious smirk as his eyes glittered. "Oh, that. You wouldn't expect me to leave my equipment lying around where just anyone could find it, did you? If you want to see the lair, you'll have to wait until we get home. I didn't put it in the program."
Kaito shrugged. "Headquarters, secret base, hideout, whatever you want to call it. Anyhow, I didn't bring you here just so you could see what my place looks like. Follow me."
Turning, he led Shinichi through the house. The detective couldn't help but notice that there was an extra bounce in his step. Their journey came to an end in front of a large painting of a tall man with twinkling, indigo eyes decked out like a stage magician.
"This is my dad," Kaito said proudly. "He was the best magician in the world! Well, one day I'm going to be better, but that's beside the point."
Shinichi looked from the painting to Kaito and back again, suddenly at a loss as to what to say. The man in the picture was Kaito's father—the man who had been murdered because he'd been the first Kaitou KID.
What was he supposed to say? What could he say?
Why was Kaito even showing him this?
Well, okay, he could probably make a pretty well educated guess as to the answer to that one. And he wasn't sure how he felt about that. He was touched at the gesture, happy that Kaito would want to share such an important memory with him, sad that the magician had had to lose someone so obviously so important to him at such a young age, guilty because it seemed like he should say something but he wasn't sure what, and uncomfortable because he felt a little like he was intruding.
"I met your father once, you know," he said finally, gaze still fixed on the painting before them.
That caught Kaito by surprise. "Really?"
"Yeah. I was still in elementary school—the first time, I mean. Ran and I went to the school library to investigate the story about there being a ghost there that appeared on nights with a full moon. When we got there, we met the so-called ghost who challenged me to solve a riddle. I…uh, kind of got it wrong," he admitted, blushing faintly in embarrassment, "but I found the thing again my second time through grade school and got it right that time. I believe it was supposed to be a message for my dad, but I still don't know what it was supposed to mean."
"Oh? What did it say?"
"Nothing. It was just a question mark. Well, that and it was signed by KID."
Kaito blinked then started laughing. "That's Dad for you." He gave the painting one last, long look before turning away (and it seemed to Shinichi that his posture seemed straighter—more determined). "So did you want to see your house?"
"You did my house too?" he asked in surprise.
"Yeah," Kaito replied, tone entirely too matter of fact. "Who knows when we'll get another chance to see home? We might as well take advantage of the opportunity. We can take the bus. I set it up so there would be one that'll take us straight there."
"Well, I guess there wouldn't be any harm in going."
It felt surreal to actually be standing in his own front hall again. Suddenly it seemed like only yesterday that he had finally returned to it for good after getting back to his proper age and moving out of the Mouri Detective Agency. Or at least he'd thought it would be for good. Little had he known then that he would soon be off again, this time even farther away than he had ever believed possible.
Absently, he slipped out of his shoes and wandered into the living room. He made a slow circuit around it before heading into the kitchen. There was a hot pot of coffee in the coffeemaker. He stared at it for a moment then shook his head, a slightly wistful smile making its way onto his face.
"So would you like some coffee?" he asked, heading to the cupboards in search of mugs.
"Sure." Kaito slid into a seat at the kitchen table. It was kind of funny really how easily his detective had slipped into treating this place like his own house just because it looked right. On the other hand, that had been at least part of the magician's intention. Since they didn't know when they would get back, he had felt it would be good for them to get a glimpse of home. It was also a reminder, in a sense, of where they had come from and what they were striving for.
Carrying the two full mugs to the table, Shinichi set one down before Kaito then took a seat himself. The magician snapped his fingers and a pot of sugar appeared in a puff of smoke. He began to spoon the white powder into his mug. He didn't stop until well past what Shinichi thought should be tolerable. He wouldn't be surprised if they found sugar lumps still lying at the bottom of Kaito's mug when the magician finished drinking.
"Do you know how long they've been on this ship?"
Kaito looked up from where he was drowning his coffee in sugar. He didn't have to ask who Shinichi was referring to. "Not precisely."
"I heard it's been years."
Kaito hummed thoughtfully, finally leaving off on the sugar project and taking a drink. "But they haven't given up."
"No, they haven't."
Shifting in his seat, Kaito snapped the fingers of his free hand again. A moment later a chess board appeared on the table between them with the pieces all set up. "Care for a game?"
They had both finished their coffee and two rounds of chess, but it was clear to the magician's practiced eyes that Shinichi wasn't quite ready to leave yet.
"We could watch a movie," he suggested.
The knowing smile playing around Kaito's lips suggested he understood exactly how Shinichi was feeling. "I'll order pizza then."
It took the pizza less than a minute to arrive after Shinichi had hung up the phone, which wasn't particularly surprising but was a little sudden. Shinichi's feet automatically headed for the door to answer it so Kaito made his way to the living room to begin perusing the DVDs there.
The deliveryman told Shinichi that the pizza had already been paid for. The detective thanked him and carried the cardboard box into the kitchen first. There he collected some plates and napkins before taking the whole lot to the living room.
"How about this one?" Kaito asked when he arrived, holding up a DVD box so that Shinichi could see the cover.
"I don't own that movie," the detective noted. "Actually, I've never even heard of it."
"The selection's from this world's Earth. I didn't actually watch any of them yet, but these all got pretty good ratings."
Shinichi shook his head in amazement. "You really did think of everything, didn't you?"
Kaito flashed him a smug look. "Naturally. I am always prepared. So would you like to try this one or should I pick something else?"
"Anything's fine. It's not like we'd know which one was better anyway."
"That's true. This one it is then." The thief popped the disc into the DVD player and moved to get himself a slice of pizza from the box. A few minutes later they were both settled on the couch with food in hand and fresh cups of coffee (for Shinichi) and soda (for Kaito) sitting on the table before them. Even if it was a hologram and half the actors on the screen were aliens, it felt just like having a movie night back home, and he was content to let that delusion swallow the moment.
He wasn't sure when Kaito had scooted closer and snaked an arm around his middle. When he noticed though, he didn't say anything. Instead he spent a few minutes analyzing how the gesture made him feel. Did it make him uncomfortable? No, he couldn't say it did. Did he actually like it? …He had to admit that it was kind of nice. Being here, it was easy to imagine being with Kaito back in their real home, and it didn't feel as strange as he'd thought it might. Unexpected, certainly, but not in a bad way.
The realization made him feel oddly relieved.
By the time the movie had ended the sky outside was dark. Empty plates were stacked neatly on top of the pizza box beside their equally empty cups. The credits scrolling across the screen didn't mean much to either of them, but they watched them anyway, not willing yet to break the comfortable silence. But then it really was over and Kaito switched off the TV.
Shinichi's breath left him in a soft sigh. "I guess we should be going huh?"
"I do have one question though."
"How do you know what my house looks like on the inside?"
"Oh look at the time. If we don't hurry we're going to miss our last show!"
Somehow Shinichi wasn't surprised to discover that the last stop Kaito had planned for their trip down memory lane was the roof of the very hotel where they had first met and spoken face to face.
"I thought about going to the clock tower instead, but since we didn't really meet per se I thought this place was more fitting."
Shinichi chuckled. "Especially considering I didn't even know that was you at the clock tower until after we met here and I went back to look up more information about your old heists."
The thief's jaw dropped. "How could you not know it was me?" he demanded, flabbergasted and maybe a touch affronted at the thought that anyone could attend one of his heists and not know him. Arriving without prior knowledge was one thing, but leaving without even his name? Unforgivable!
Shinichi shrugged, hiding a smile. "It just didn't seem important at the time. Besides, after I figured out your message, it was obvious you were only trying to protect the place."
Kaito blinked then laughed, moving to join him by the edge of the roof and slipping an arm into its increasingly familiar place around the detective's waist. "I suppose. But I'm hurt; I kinda hoped I'd left more of an impression than that." He heaved a melodramatic sigh. "I mean, I always remembered that heist as one of my favorite, and here you're telling me you forgot all about it just like that."
"Well, you certainly left an impression the second time. I thought you were insane." And amazing, and maybe a little intimidating, but he was never admitting that out loud.
"I get that a lot," Kaito said sagely, a smirk making its way across his face. "I guess it's like they say. No one understands a true genius."
"Then you must truly be phenomenal," the detective quipped.
"Why thank you. It warms my heart to know that you think so highly of me."
Shinichi gave him one of those looks that made Kaito want to start snickering but before he could say anything they were interrupted by the bang and whistle of fireworks. Both teens turned in unison to see the sudden explosion of colored lights across the black canvas of the sky. It was every bit as spectacular as Shinichi would expect from a show designed by Kuroba Kaito.
The magician, however, let out a quiet breath that almost sounded like a sigh. "It's more fun actually making them, but at least it looks right." Despite his comment, his tone was clearly dissatisfied.
It was the first time that day that Shinichi had seen anything resembling real homesickness in the magician's eyes. He'd almost started to believe that he was the only one the scenery was getting to.
"You did a really good job, you know," he said softly, leaning slightly into the magician's side. "On all of it I mean, not just the fireworks."
"Good." Indigo eyes wandered over the thousands of shining windows and headlights dotting the ocean of darkness below, taking on a distant gleam. "I thought this would be a great idea at first, but now I'm not so sure. It's just not the same."
"It isn't," Shinichi agreed, following his gaze to the city spread out below. "But I'm glad you did it. Thank you." Because, even if it was a little painful, it was good to remember.
A small, genuine smile made its way onto Kaito's face. "In that case, I suppose I can consider this venture to be a success."
They returned to their quarters to be greeted by Aome's excited coos and the flapping of feathery wings. All the doves were crowded onto the table by the window like a crowd around an interesting sight. Kaito whistled and they dispersed, returning obediently to their perches. Only the two pseudo doves remained standing on either side of a green, stone mask.
"Well, it looks like the vacation's over," Kaito observed, picking up the miniature mask and turning it over in his hands. "Kind of an odd shape it's chosen. Wonder what it means."
Shinichi sighed. "Who knows. Maybe the next world's really into theater."
The magician let out a snort of laughter at that. "We'll find out tomorrow."
That night Shinichi dreamed of silent fireworks blooming in a sky filled with the light of glowing windows as though the sky itself was a curved window beyond which a city floated in the dark expanses of outer space. Then the rainbow sparks of the fireworks were falling all around him and he realized that they were stars—tiny stars each carrying a miniature image in its glowing heart. There were the faces of people he knew and people he only vaguely remembered. There were places he'd been and things he'd seen. They were so close he thought he could touch them if he just reached out, but when he tried he discovered that even the closest was just beyond his fingertips.
Then he noticed that there was nothing under his feet and he was falling with the lights into the star-spangled void. No, wait, he wasn't falling, he was flying. There was a hand holding his, pulling him forward.
Looking up, he caught a glimpse of white teeth in a grinning face and the glint of glass.
"Where are we going?"
"Where? Why, to the end of the world! Where else?"
Next: Walking with Spirits [Bleach]
Question: Do you guys have any preferences as to if the Bleach section should take place in the human world or soul society? There is a chance I might do both, but there's also a chance I won't so I thought I'd ask.
A.N: I'm looking forward to the next one, though I haven't made up my mind exactly what the plot is going to be yet. Suggestions are welcome. Well, I hope you all enjoyed. Have a merry Christmas and a happy New year! Hopefully, progress will be faster next year, hehe ^^U.