AN: ...holy crap, am I seriously posting? Really? Yes, dear readers, I finally penned a sequel to No Little Plans. This is a shorter story, just a two-parter, but I fell in love with the idea. There'll be more explanation in the author's notes at the end of the chapter, since I don't want to spoil anything. But anyway, here be part one. Hope you enjoy! I don't own Detective Conan or Magic Kaito. Just playing around with 'em~
Part I: Noises in the Night
What dreams may come, both dark and deep
Of flying wing and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep…
- Charles Anthony Silvestri
After the successful conclusion of what the media had so uncreatively dubbed the Magician Murders, several of the parties involved in that case were in desperate need of a break. But there had been no immediate respite. First things first.
There was no doubt of their culprit's guilt. While he had not actually been caught in the act, the finger had been pointed by his final victim, and he had confessed immediately. During his lengthy questioning period, he had been serene, almost happy as he described what he had done and how he had taken so many lives in such a callous manner, staging their death scenes to resemble those of famous magicians. How Kuroba was to be the pinnacle of his spree.
It was Kuroba's fault, after all. And Kuroba Toichi was the greatest magician to have ever lived. It only stood to reason that the son should follow in the father's footsteps not only in life, but in death, in the ultimate performance on the doorstep of the afterlife.
Kudo Shinichi had been in attendance for the questioning. He had sat in on many of these sessions, listened to many murderers tell of their crimes, ranging from crimes of passion committed in the heat of the moment to the most carefully planned campaigns of torture and death. Listening to the details of the Magician Murderer's killing spree easily topped the list as the most chilling.
The trial was a nightmare. Kuroba Kaito had been the key witness for the prosecution as the lone survivor of a direct attempt on his life, and the only victim who could directly identify the murderer because of it. His testimony had been exhaustive as he had been forced to relive the ordeal, those awful moments where he had been sure that he was going to die. Not once, but repeatedly.
He understood why. They were driving the point home. But he wished someone else could take the stand and discuss it. Let one of the police officers who had rescued him tell of what they had seen when they'd entered the auditorium. Let the paramedics who had treated him en route to the hospital speak of his injuries. Let the hospital doctors inform the court of his recovery.
Anything to get him off the damn witness stand.
After it was over, he went home and spent a full two hours trembling in Aoko's arms, curled next to her on his bed on top of the comforter, his face buried in her neck as she held him, stroked his hair, whispered to him. His mother looked in on them several times, but otherwise left them alone. He needed her right then, to keep him grounded, steady, sane, and to not let the fear take control of him.
He also had to keep telling himself that it was worth it to make certain that his would-be killer was never going to walk the streets again, free to search for victims to satisfy a vendetta borne from a misunderstanding.
It was Kudo who suggested they all take a trip. For one, he was just as exhausted by the entire affair as Kuroba (albeit for different reasons) and thought that maybe a change of scenery would do everyone some good. Two, he pointed out with a grin, he thought Ran would like to meet Aoko-chan. He suspected the two would become very fast friends.
It was with that reasoning that the four young adults piled into a car and took off to drive the one hundred kilometers for a weekend away. Away from Tokyo, the police, murder cases, and far too many bad memories. And exactly as the boys had expected, Ran and Aoko hit it off immediately. Almost frighteningly so, they realized as they watched them whispering to each other and giggling. Especially when they looked over at the boys before they started giggling again. Shinichi and Kaito looked at each nervously. What had they unleashed on the world?
After an exhausting, but fun day of shopping and sightseeing and exploring a city that none of them had ever been to, the four young adults found themselves seated inside a busy, fashionable restaurant for dinner. Ran and Aoko were talking a mile a minute about the things they had seen and the purchases they had made. It made Kaito smile to see the two getting along so well.
His attention then turned to Kudo, who was looking past Ran, out the window at the people walking by. Every few moments, his eyes would drag over to the girl, as if reassuring himself that she was, indeed, still sitting next to him, safe and sound. Then his gaze would return to what was happening beyond her, in the darkening city beyond the glass.
"See anything interesting?" Kaito asked quietly, lifting his water glass to his lips as he spoke.
"Just people watching," Kudo shrugged, turning his head to look at him squarely. "Call it a hobby, I guess. It's good practice."
"I agree. Done it myself quite a few times over the years. But you didn't answer my question," Kaito said. The glass returned to the table with a soft clink. "Did you see anything interesting out there?"
Kudo frowned and sat up straight. "As a matter of fact…" he squinted towards the street outside. "What are they doing out there…?" His eyes widened.
Kaito opened his mouth to ask what was going on, but he didn't get that far.
With a crash that seemed to rock the entire building, the front doors to the restaurant were thrown open, and three men came barreling inside, weapons drawn. "This is a hold-up!" the lead man bellowed, gesturing wildly with his weapon. "Everybody get their hands where I can see 'em!"
Kaito's first thought was for the safety of Aoko and Ran-chan. His second thought was for his own safety, as well as Kudo's. His third thought was to wonder why whatever deity was up there hated him so damn much. Judging by the flickering expressions on Kudo's face, his own thoughts were not too far off.
Honestly, what did a guy have to do to get to have a nice, quiet date with his girlfriend?
Still, they were quiet and compliant as the robbers came around, as were most of the other restaurant patrons. Pockets and purses were emptied as weapons were waved around and threats were made. It was only as they got to the table where Kaito and his friends were sitting that something went wrong.
In hindsight, he wasn't that surprised.
If Kaito had to guess, he would assume that a police car had seen the robbers enter the restaurant, and called for back-up, or perhaps a civilian had realized what was going on and summoned law enforcement. Whatever the case, officers burst in, ready to take down the criminals and save the day.
Of course, this happened right as they arrived at their table. And the robbers took immediate action.
Three robbers required three hostages. Shinichi, Aoko, and Ran found themselves dragged from their seats and held in front of their assailants as human shields, guns pressed to their heads. Kaito was on his feet in an instant, but held back by virtue of the fact that there was a criminal lunatic (to his mind) holding a gun to his girlfriend's head. He decided not to push his luck.
No matter how much he wanted to toss his precious rule of "no one gets hurt" into a fireplace, drop Poker Face off a high building, and punch the son of a bitch in the face until he let Aoko go. Fat chance of that happening without someone getting shot, but hey, he could dream.
Instead, he had to watch with everyone else as the three men dragged their hostages towards the door, continuing to keep the three teenagers between themselves and the police as they backed up towards the van they had parked and waiting at the curb in front of the restaurant.
They had Shinichi in the back of the van when he made his move. He was positioned half on his back, leaving him perfectly poised to haul back and kick the other two men in the back. It wasn't much, but it was enough to startle them into loosening their grips.
And then a shot was fired, people screamed, the girls broke free and ran, the robbers (now down to one hostage) jumped in the van, which sped away before the back doors were even closed. And the last thing anyone saw before those doors closed was a gun coming down hard on the head of the young man, their final hostage.
Ran hadn't stopped crying since she had looked up and realized that the van was gone with Shinichi inside it. "I should have done something!" she sobbed. "I thought if I tried anything, then they might hurt Shinichi or Aoko-chan, but maybe if I had…"
Aoko was offering a friendly shoulder for her to cry on, but her own gaze was worried as it kept drifting towards Kaito. He was trying to find out what was going on, but he wasn't in Tokyo, where some of the police force had a passing familiarity with him and so might be willing to share information. Most of the officers here wanted him to give a statement about what had happened, and then wanted nothing more to do with him.
Surprisingly, it was Ran who finally managed to break their silence by wiping her eyes and storming up to a police officer and demanding information. "Tell me what's going on! Now!"
The officer looked a bit surprised. "Miss, I realize that you've had a traumatic day, but we're handling it."
"They've got my boyfriend!" she said. Kaito took an unconscious step back. He knew that look. It usually meant pain was on the horizon.
She cut him off, drawing herself up to her full height. "My boyfriend, the one they just drove off with, is Kudo Shinichi. My father is Mouri Kogoro. I've got ties to the police department in quite a few places, and I know a lot of people. So help me god, if you don't start telling me what I want to know…"
The poor man she had slowly been advancing on held his hands up in a gesture of placation. "M-Miss, please calm down." He glanced around. "Wh-why don't I get you one of my superiors."
"Thank you," Ran said with a surprisingly sweet smile.
Kaito shook his head and gave her an admiring look. Mouri Ran was something else.
His attention quickly turned back to the questions that he was sure the police officers on the scene were asking themselves as well. Who were the robbers? Was this a singular crime, or one of a series? Was there anyone else involved?
…and where had they taken the hostage?
Shinichi's head hurt like hell, he realized as he stirred himself awake. Not entirely surprising, since the last thing he remembered was a gun swinging towards his forehead. It was a wonder he wasn't concussed. As the events that had led to this moment rushed back to him in a gradually-clearing blur, he realized that he should take a quick stock of his surroundings before he belied his conscious state to anyone who might be around.
A gentle shift of his hands proved that they were bound behind him, but it didn't feel like they were tied with any sort of professionalism or finesse. Chances were that he would be able to get out of his bonds with relatively little effort. He was startled to realize that his feet were not similarly bound. He was lying down on his side; the texture under his cheek felt like leaves, dirt, and twigs, scratching against his face.
He gingerly cracked one eye open. There was light, and it hurt his head, but it wasn't bright light. It seemed to flicker and cause jumping, twisting shadows, which made him suspect that it was some sort of firelight. Otherwise, it seemed to be dark. Added to the smells around him, the feel of brush on his face…
He was outdoors, and it was after sunset.
A more exploratory glance around suggested he was in some sort of a forest. And there were three men sitting nearby, at a campfire, talking in hushed voices. He could only hear bits and pieces of the conversation, but he figured out that they were debating on what to do with him. Somehow, he doubted that whatever they decided would mean well for him.
Closing his eyes again, Shinichi carefully began to work his hands loose. As he had suspected, the ropes weren't tied properly, and he slipped his bonds with relative ease. Now the real trick was making a getaway while his kidnappers were distracted. They were in a forest; there was no shortage of places to hide until he could get to safety. He didn't know where he was, but that was a moot point at the moment.
They seemed very engaged in their conversation. None of them were paying attention to him; they were apparently oblivious to the fact that he was awake. It was an opening he couldn't pass up.
Slowly and carefully, Shinichi rolled onto his hands and knees, trying his best not to make a sound. He crawled a couple of feet closer to the trees, where darkness lay beyond the glow of the criminals' campfire. He took a deep breath, steeled himself, and surged to his feet, breaking into a dead run.
He heard the startled shouts behind him, but didn't stop to pursue that particular matter any further. He just ran, twisting and turning through the trees and hoping to god he didn't manage to step in a hole or anything like that. If he fell, it was over. It was just a hair above pitch black, making it all the more difficult to avoid crashing. But it also meant that they would have a harder time seeing him.
Finally, he stopped, having only just managed to stumble over some low-lying brush. His lungs were burning and his legs ached from exertion. He sank down behind that brush and listened for any sign of his pursuers.
He heard nothing.
Still, he didn't move for a while longer. There was no telling how close on his trail they were. Best to wait for just a bit before striking out in search of an exit, of safety. The seconds ticked by, but the men did not appear. It would appear that he had lost them in the darkness and the trees.
Satisfied, Shinichi carefully rose. Making a mental note to thank Agasa profusely when he got back home, he flicked a switch on his wristwatch, and a small beam of light came forth to light his way. It wasn't much, but it was enough to keep him from tripping and breaking his ankle, or crashing into anything. He began to make his way around slowly, looking for any sign of where he was, or perhaps a trail to help him navigate this place.
But it took quite a bit of searching before he found a clue.
What he found was a sign. It seemed odd, really, to have a sign stuck out in the middle of a forest. But it was what the sign said that really gave him pause.
"YOUR LIFE IS PRECIOUS! PLEASE RECONSIDER!"
Such a strange thing for a sign to say.
Shinichi stared at it for a long moment before it clicked. He knew exactly where he was, and was almost kicking himself for not realizing it sooner. It made perfect sense - they were at the base of Mount Fuji, and it was the nearest forest. Accessibility, as well as having a reputation that would keep many at bay…
His kidnappers had dragged him out of the city proper and taken refuge in Aokigahara.
The Sea of Trees.
The Suicide Forest.
PS. Aokigahara is a real place - a large forest at the base of Mount Fuji. It is known as both the Sea of Trees...and the Suicide Forest. For some reason, the forest became a popular place for people to go to end their lives. Signs like the one Shinichi encounters are actually posted around the forest. This story came about when I was watching an episode of Destination Truth on Netflix (DON'T JUDGE ME THAT SHOW IS ADDICTIVE and also the episode with the Island of the Dolls scared the hell out of me), and they went and investigated Aokigahara, as it is reported to be a very haunted place. There'll be more details in the next chapter. I hope you'll check back for part two, in which I screw with Shinichi. Thanks for reading! Much love!