Okay. This was inspired by Alaena F. Dragonstar's "The Travelers Chronicles" so all the credit for the plot line and whatnot goes to her. If you haven't read the series, check it out! I fell in love with it after the first chapter! ^^ In any case, since this story is meant to be an alternate ending to the 3rd chapter "Alchemist" so you'll need to read chapter 3 to understand what's going on in this story as this story since it begin from a point near the end of that chapter. The reason I wrote this was because, while I LOVED what Alaena wrote, I couldn't help wishing that more of the FMA characters had shown up - and that was when the plot bunnies attacked and this monster of an alternate side story was born (I NEVER planned for it to be as long as it is...it just sort of happened TT_TT)
This is where you can read The Travelers Chronicles: www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/s/6544734/1/The_Travelers_Chronicles
Alaena gave me permission to publish this as long as I made sure to mention that while this story is based off Travelers Chronicals, it is NOT CANON to that fanfic in any way! In other words, as far as Alaena's original story goes, this fanfic NEVER HAPPENED.
I've been sitting on this for a while, not sure if I should publish it or not even with Alaena's permission, but I finally decided to just go ahead and post it.
I apologize for the length (I blame the plunnies!) but I hope you'll stick with and that you enjoy it! Also, remember to read Alaena's oringal story! It really is great!
Final Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan, Magic Kaito, or Fullmetal Alchemist, nor do I have any claim to the overall plotline of The Travelers Chronicals. I merely borrowed them. :P
Shinichi rolled under a second wave of shots before leaping to his feet and making a dive for the baron's legs in the hopes that he could knock the man over. Unfortunately, the man saw him coming and pulled a handgun from inside coat pocket.
Kaito thought his heart might have stopped for a moment when he heard the shot and saw Shinichi fall and it didn't start again until he understood that the detective had gotten hit in the leg and not somewhere fatal. The baron must have realized it too as he adjusted his aim for another go, but before he could pull the trigger the earth between the two rose up into a wall.
"Over here, gramps!"
The Baron turned around just in time for his face to meet Ed's fist. He flew backwards into the wall Ed had created and slid to the ground with a groan.
Ed snorted. He kicked the machine gun from the Baron's hand into the pile Alphonse was currently melting into scrap before he clapped his hands and once more pressed them to the ground. Simultaneously, the earthen wall shrunk back into the ground as iron bars rose around the Baron as they had his men.
"You brat! Let me out!" The Baron snarled as he uselessly shook the bars.
"Not a chance. You're staying right there 'till the backup I called to come get your sorry asses arrives."
"Detective!" Kaito cried out as he ran over to Shinichi.
Ed turned his attention to their impromptu partners. From what he'd glanced earlier, it looked like Kaito had only been grazed, but he swore mentally as he turned to look at Shinichi who was still on the ground. He hadn't been as lucky as his companion.
Shinichi hissed as he forced himself to sit up and examine the wound as Kaito knelt beside him. There was only an entrance wound, which meant the bullet was very likely still inside his leg. Judging from bullet's angle, and the degree of pain he was in, Shinichi was willing to bet it had been stopped by his femur. This was both good and bad. Good because it would take less time to heal since the bone hadn't completely broken; bad because they now had to remove the bullet.
However, all that would have to come later. Right now he had focus on stopping the blood currently flowing from the hole in his leg.
"Brother! We need to stop the bleeding!"
"I know, dammit!" Ed snarled as he slipped off his jacket and threw it at Kaito. "Use that to put pressure on the wound. Al, you help."
"What about you?" Kaito asked as he and Alphonse did as they'd been instructed.
"The back-up I called should be here soon," Ed said as he stood up again. "There'll probably be someone with medical experience with them. At the very least, they'll have medical supplies with them. I'm gonna make sure they know exactly where we are." That said, he took off around the side of the building the Baron had just vacated.
"Didn't he say he'd called that back-up to come and get those guys?" Shinichi asked, grimacing at the pain the pressure on his leg caused.
"That's right. Why?" Al tipped his head to the side slightly in confusion.
"Then why does he think they'll have medical supplies? He even said there might be a doctor!" Kaito asked, following Shinichi's line of thought.
"Oh, that," Alphonse laughed sheepishly. "Um…well, you see, Ed has a tendency to go a little…overboard…when he gets angry…and well…Brother has bit of a…a short temper…so it…sort of just…happened…"
The travelers shared a look as the younger brother's explanation faded into nervous laughter, but chose not to comment.
Approximately fifteen minutes after Ed had left, an armored box truck with barred windows, sandwiched between two large, black cars, turned the corner of the road beside the house. The vehicles pulled to a stop as they neared the trio. A voice reached his ears as Ed stepped out of the car closely followed by an agitated woman with short, black hair and a mole under her left eye. Following leisurely behind the woman was a much taller man with glasses, a slightly scruffy beard, and black hair that was completely slicked back with the exception of a single long strand which stood prominently forward. Both newcomers wore identical uniforms clearly identifying them as military.
" – erstand your hurry. But, seriously, Edward. Was it really necessary to draw our attention by creating a giant statue of the Colonel wearing cat ears and a mini-skirt?"
From the corner of his eye, Shinichi noticed Kaito's grin at the mention of the monstrosity Ed had erected through alchemy on the other side of the house. Alphonse had only sighed and shook his head at the sight, but Kaito had begun cackling in such a way that would have sent any task force member running for the hills.
"I am curious as to how you got the statue to sparkle like that, though." The man's comment caused a look of exasperation to cross the woman's face as Ed answered him.
"Heh, that was easy. I just maneuvered the quartz already in the soil to form a thin layer covering the statue. The quartz's reflective properties, combined with the rays of the setting sun, did the rest. And it worked didn't it?" Ed's last commented was directed at the woman, who looked like she was about to argue, but Ed cut her off as he turned to look over his shoulder as an older man, dressed in normal clothes and carrying a large bag in his hand, stepped out of the car, "The patient's over here, Doc."
Edward introduced the elder gentleman sat as Dr. Cason, the town's resident doctor. As the man sat down and began to examine Shinichi's wound, the officers also introduced themselves as Second Lieutenant Maria Ross and Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes.
"It's nice to meet you as well," Kaito grinned as he stood and presented a rose to Ross. "My name's Kaito Kuroba."
"I'm Shinichi Kudo," he looked at the currently bemused Ross and pointed at the thief, "and you can just ignore this idiot's antics. Things tend to be simpler that way."
Shinichi ignored the look Kaito threw him (a mixture of insult and amusement) and looked in the direction Ed had wondered off in after introducing the doctor. The other black car had been carrying the back-up Ed had requested. The men wore the same clothes as Ross and Hughes and had gathered near the caged men. The Baron had already been taken to the armored truck. As he watched, Ed clapped and added a door to the larger cage. The officers began to handcuff the criminals and take them to rejoin their leader.
"Well, that's about as much as I'm capable of doing here," Shinichi turned back to Dr. Cason as he spoke. He had finished examining and cleaning the wound and was currently wrapping adhesive bandages around the gauze he'd placed over top of it. "I'm afraid I don't have the supplies necessary to remove the bullet with me, but this should hold until you can get to a hospital."
"That's all we need, Doc," Ed nodded as he rejoined them, "Central's not even a day's drive from here."
"Central?" Ross looked at Edward, "doesn't this town have a hospital?"
"You know as well as I do that Central has much more advanced medical equipment than any civilian hospital."
"But sir!" Ross objected, "they are civilians. Central's hospital is specifically for military personnel!"
"They were injured while assisting with a military operation." Ed glared at Ross as she opened her mouth to argue, "We're taking them."
Ross still looked like she wanted to protest, but the tone of Ed's voice had made it clear the subject was closed.
Hughes had simply watched the interaction with a vaguely amused, knowing smile.
Kaito was interrupted from watching the exchange as Dr. Cason approached him. Oh, right. He'd been injured too, hadn't he?
"Please slip out of your shirt. I'd like to take a look at your injury now."
"Don't worry about it. It's just a scratch, really," but Kaito's words were ignored as the doctor gave him that look that all doctors seemed to have for difficult patients. Shaking his head, Kaito stripped off his shirt and let the doctor do as he pleased.
He returned his attention to young Alchemist who had just signaled the driver of the first car drive up beside them. Hughes wandered to help the process along.
"You do realize," Ross warned from beside him, "that the Colonel isn't going to like this, don't you?"
"All the more reason to do it then, Right?" Ed grinned devilishly at her before kneeling down next to Shinichi to speak with him.
"Of course…" Ross turned away with a defeated sigh. Kaito grinned, suddenly reminded of Nakamori-keibu after learning Tantei-kun had arrived at a heist.
The doctor finished wrapping up arm just as the car pulled up. Slipping his shrirt back on with a quick thanks, Kaito jumped forward and slid into the car to help as Ed and Al maneuvered Shinichi inside. The seats inside the car were arranged so that they faced one another; a window separated the driver's area from the main compartment. Shinichi was set on the forward facing seat, using a pillow the driver had pulled from the car's trunk to prop himself up. Kaito, Ed, and Hughes sat facing him on seat near the driver and Ross who had chosen to sit up front. Al's size forced him to sit on the floor between them, but the armored brother didn't seem to mind. Kaito suspected he'd just gotten used to it.
Hughes knocked on the window once everyone was settled as a signal for the driver to go. He then turned to address the group, "I was told we'll likely arrive in Central tomorrow around mid-morning."
"I take it that 'Central' is a sort of military base?" Shinichi asked curiously only to flinch slightly (though Kaito doubted the others had noticed it) from the disbelieving looks he received from Ross and Hughes (although, Kaito noted his was more curious than disbelieving).
Alphonse didn't seem to notice the looks as he turned to Shinichi, "Yes and no. 'Central' can refer to either Central City ,the capital of Amestris, or Central Command, which is located there and is the main headquarters for the military."
"The important thing," Ed said as he took up the explanation, "is that the most advanced hospital in the country is located there. The doctors there will have you up and about in no time."
"And Ed would know that better than most, wouldn't you, Brother?" Al teased.
"Right," Ed nodded then paused, "Hey! I don't get hurt that often, Al!"
Al just laughed at his older brother's scowling face.
"But didn't Miss Ross say it was only for military personnel?" Shinichi asked.
"Don't worry so much!" Ed grinned and pulled a silver pocket watch from his pocket, "If I just show this to them, they'll take you."
"A…watch?" Kaito frowned. He hid his own flinch behind his poker face when the disbelieving looks turned towards him. Oops.
"This isn't just any watch," Ed puffed his chest out proudly. "It's what proves I'm an official State Alchemist."
"Huh, I thought everyone knew about the watches," Ross remarked from the front seat before Kaito could respond.
"I'm more surprised you didn't know about Central," Hughes commented as he glanced from one to the other. "Where exactly are you boys from?"
"It's not a place you'd have heard of," Kaito assured him with a smile. Definitely time for a change of topic. Kaito decided to ask something he'd been wondering. "Oh, speaking of unfamiliar things…Ed, that statue you made was of a real person right? It was a guy, wasn't it? But…why would a guy wear a skirt?" Kaito firmly squashed the bubble of laughter caused by Shinichi's soft snort. Glancing at the detective, he allowed his amusement to show through his poker face for a moment before he turned back to the blonde alchemist with a perfectly innocent, questioning look. "Who was it?"
"Only the most cocky, egotistical, manipulative bastard you'll ever meet! Dammit, just thinking of him pisses me off!"
"His name is Colonel Roy Mustang," Alphonse sheepishly picked up the explanation as his older brother began to mutter darkly to himself. "He's Ed's superior and the one who first talked Ed into joining the military. We owe him a lot."
"Whatever!" Ed barked as he re-entered the conversation, "As far as I'm concerned, putting up with that arrogant, I've-got-a-God-complex attitude of his for all this time has erased any debt we may have owed him!"
The armor's echo caused Alphonse's sigh to be even more long-suffering than it might have normally sounded. Ed rolled his eyes at his brother before turning back to Kaito. "As far as the mini-skirt goes," Ed grinned, "all I'll say is that I was inspired by a rumor that's been circulating through the ranks about something that idiot apparently said."
Hughes sighed at that and muttered almost to himself, "Oh dear, that managed to make it all the way to you two, did it?"
"I see," Kaito said as he returned Ed's grin with an added touch of Kid's trademark insanity. His mind was already abuzz with ideas the alchemist had inspired. He began to turn his thoughts inward to begin designing Kid's next prank, but a familiar voice stopped him.
Did the temperature in the car just drop?
"Yes?" Kaito asked, poker face firmly in place. He looked up and smiled innocently at the detective. That's when he noticed that Shinichi's eye was twitching.
Oh. Damn. He must have put more Kid into his earlier smile than he'd thought. Or was Tantei-kun just getting that good at reading him…?
"If I see a single mini-skirt at the next heist, or any thereafter, I will have Agasa Hakase add lead weights to my soccer balls. Understand?"
Lead soccer balls? Kaito wanted to whimper at the mere thought. Regular soccer balls hurt enough as it was! Not that he was about to tell Shinichi that. "Don't you think you'd hurt yourself trying to kick something like that, Tantei-kun?"
"Not if I wear the adult-sized shoes Agasa made for me," Shinichi told him as he tilted his head slightly and smiled. Kaito felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up as he recognized the look. It was a carryover from Conan, and on a full-grown Shinichi it was positively creepy. Wait. Adult sized super shoes? Oh, hell no.
He held his hands up in defeat. As amusing as the thought of seeing the task force in mini-skirts was, it was not worth risking that kind of potential pain, "a truce then? I'll leave mini-skirts off my list of pranks if you'll leave those shoes of yours home. Deal?"
"Deal," Shinichi grinned smugly at him before relaxing back into the pillow again
Kaito ignored the bewildered looks of the car's other occupants as he scowled/pouted behind his poker face.
Then a thought occurred to him.
"Hey, Tantei-kun?" Kaito didn't bother stopping the manic Kid smile from appearing on his face as he leaned forward in anticipation.
"…What?" Shinichi's obvious apprehension at the appearance of his grin only caused it to widen.
"You do realize that our agreement doesn't apply to disguises…right?"
The look that came over Shinichi's face was absolutely priceless.
Too bad they hadn't bought that camera yet.
After the excitement died down, Shinichi decided to ask the Elric brothers about Alchemy as a way to pass the time, as well as to satisfy his own curiosity. He'd almost laughed at the expression that appeared on the boys' faces (Shinichi was constantly surprised how expressive Al managed to make his suit of armor); it was clearly a favorite topic. He couldn't help but be reminded of himself whenever Sherlock Holmes was mentioned; judging from the snickers coming from him, Kaito had also noticed the similarities.
Shinichi pointedly ignored him as the brothers began to talk. He was surprised to realize how scientifically orientated alchemy seemed to be. It was a stark contrast to the fantastical magic of the Aurors' world. This revelation had sent Kaito into a bit of a tantrum (in Shinichi's opinion) as he pointed at Edward with an outraged look on his face.
"How can you mix science and magic! That's…just wrong!"
Ed just looked at Kaito for a long, silent moment before shaking his head, "You know, Kaito…"
Shinichi quickly ducked his head to hide his grin, barely able to contain the laughter that threatened to overwhelm him when he heard Ed's tone; he'd heard it aimed Conan countless times and had used it himself with the Shounen Tantei on numerous occasions: it was the tone a patient, much smarter adult took when trying to dissuade a stubborn child from a foolish belief.
"Alchemy is a science. It's not something that can be compared some hobby consisting of tricks like pulling flowers from your sleeves or popping small smoke capsules to conceal your bird long enough for it to hide in your clothes."
Shinichi's laughter rang out loudly in the car's confined space. Both Ross and Hughes, who had both fallen asleep by this point, were jerked back into consciousness where they looked at him in confusion. Ed had an amused grin; Al was trying to portray neutrality, but the rattling of his shoulder plates gave him away.
Kaito glared at him with a look of betrayal before turning away with a huff. "I'm going to sleep."
Of course, Kaito's announcement only made Shinichi laugh harder. It took a good minute before he was able to regain control over himself. By that time he was gasping for breath and had tears in the corners of his eyes.
Shinichi couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed so hard.
When he finally looked back up, wiping his eyes as he did, Shinichi was somewhat surprised to find that everyone (minus Kaito, who had curled up to sulk) was looking at him with similar smiling expressions he couldn't quite identify.
"Um…sorry I woke you," he nodded to the uniformed officers, "I don't usually…"
"There's no need to apologize," Hughes shook his head. And suddenly Shinichi recognized the look he and the others wore; it was a look of understanding. "There are times in a person's life when, after experiencing especially difficult or emotional situations, like witnessing what you boys did in that house last night, where the only thing you can do is to find something in life that can still make you laugh and just move on."
Ed grinned, "though…most people usually wait until after they've had the bullet removed."
Ed's comment got the whole group chuckling. Glancing at Kaito, Shinichi was able to discern a slight tremble to his shoulders as well, and Shinichi couldn't help but wonder if the happy-go-lucky magician hadn't been aiming for this sort of outcome all-along. But even if that were the case, Shinichi knew that Kaito's outrage at having his tricks revealed, even if he'd displayed it in an overblown manner, hadn't all been faked. And that meant he really was pouting, at least a little.
A yawn interrupted Shinichi's grin. It was only then he realized just how tired he was. Though, now that he thought about it, it shouldn't be a surprise. Not only had he been shot, but his body was still recovering from strains his temporary return to Conan-hood had put on his body. "I think I'm gonna try and get a little sleep as well." His announcement was met with a few nods as he settled down onto the pillow, being careful not to jostle his leg.
He was asleep in moments.
"It looks like you've woken up."
Kaito looked up from where he sat in one of the recovery room's two guest chairs as the doctor walked in. Hughes and the Elrics were also in the room, with the Lieutenant Colonel in the second guest chair while the brothers stood by the wall.
The group had arrived at Central's hospital without incident…Well, that wasn't completely true. Kaito sweatdropped as he glanced at Hughes. The man had awoken all of them with a startled cry; Kaito had awoken to find pictures of Hughes' wife and daughter shoved in face. He'd quickly moved (no…danced was a better description) over to Shinichi to do the same. After he introduced them, he proceeded to pull out more than a dozen more "new" photos from his jacket to show the Elrics, who wore expressions of semi-amusement and resignation.
Kaito had been surprised by how easily Shinichi had seemingly taken it all in-stride and mentioned this to him when he went over after vacating his seat to allow Hughes to show the photos to Ross (Kaito still wasn't sure how he'd gotten the window open – it'd looked to him like it only opened from the front seats). Shinichi just got an odd smile on his face and told Kaito that he would understand if he ever met Shinichi's mother.
Kaito'd wanted to ask more, but was brilliantly distracted from doing so when Hughes nearly got them killed by shoving the photos in the driver's face. After regaining control of the car, the enraged man's threats finally got Hughes to settle down, though Kaito had seen him take out photos and admire them silently several times before they arrived at Central Hospital an hour later.
Once they'd arrived, things had gone exactly as Ed had said. After seeing Ed's watch, the nurse at the desk had nodded and promptly added Shinichi to the patient list; the fact that he was a civilian with absolutely no form of identification wasn't even mentioned.
Shinichi was wheeled into surgery less than an hour after they'd arrived; he was back out, bullet removed and wound closed, less than 30 minutes later.
Kaito tuned back to the present and glanced back at Hughes who was in the middle of repeating what the doctor had told them while he'd been asleep. Apparently, the bullet hadn't lodged itself in Shinichi's femur, like the detective had feared. Shinichi's muscles had reduced the bullet's speed too much for it to do so. The impact had caused a fairly deep crack along the bone, but that was the worst of his injuries.
"The doctors had actually been pretty surprised," Hughes frowned. "They said that, by all rights, your muscles should have been damaged a lot more when the bullet passed, but apparently your muscles have more elasticity to them than normal…"
"Well, it doesn't really surprise me too much, considering the great stretch they'd gotten earlier," Ed laughed and ignored dark look Shinichi gave him.
Shinichi muttered something under his breath (Kaito was fairly sure he'd heard the words "what would you know" mentioned) before sighing and throwing Kaito a slightly sardonic grin, "it looks like that damnable good luck of yours might be rubbing off on me."
"Good thing too," Kaito smirked, "since yours clearly sucks."
"Oh, shut up." Shinichi rolled his eyes.
"But, it wasn't all luck." Al piped up suddenly. "The slight wind resistance and conflicting energy caused by you running in the opposite direction probably also helped."
"Running in the opposite direction? From the bullet?" Hughes looked between the boys, "wait, that means you'd have to have been running toward the gun!"
Shinichi shot a glare at the armor. He'd been trying to keep that fact from Hughes; he could tell the Lieutenant Colonel was the type who would react badly. It didn't look like the older brother was going to be much help either…
"Well," Ed drawled with a grin, "Technically, he was running toward the maniac holding the gun to try and take him down, but –"
"That's even worse!" Hughes told the blonde before he turned to the detective, but Shinichi beat him to the punch before he could say anything.
"You weren't there, Lieutenant Colonel Hughes," His voice was calm, but firm. It was the tone he'd developed specifically to get stubborn adults to look past his age and actually listen to what he was saying. He interlocked his fingers in front of him. "Baron Bulshay had been firing his weapon in an increasingly erratic manner. Kaito had already been hit, and I'd had no way of knowing if it was serious or not. Anything that might have offered cover was too far away to be a viable option, and the last time I'd seen Edward and Alphonse there had been a wall of nearly a dozen armed men between us. Machine guns such as the one the Baron was using have an inherent weakness: they are difficult to turn quickly mid-fire. So, I predicted his swing and made my move. I don't regret my choice, even now, because at that moment, with the knowledge I had, it was the best choice available to me."
A long silence followed as Hughes stared at Shinichi in apparent shock. A knock on the door made them all look up a doctor entered the room, followed by Lieutenant Ross who'd disappeared shortly after their arrival at the hospital.
"All of your sign out procedures have been taken care of," the elderly man announced; he turned to Shinichi. "The crack in your bone has responded well to the treatment. The new calcium will need time to harden, however, so try to avoid putting weight on it for about 48 hours. We'll provide crutches to use in the interval. After that, just make sure avoid strenuous activity for a few days to give it and the muscles time to rebuild their strength and you should be as good as new."
"Wait, what?" Shinichi blinked. "48 hours? A few days?"
"That's right, keep all weight off that left leg for 48 hours. Then no strenuous activity, that is, anything more than light running, for at least three days.
"Yes, quite. Now, if you'll excuse me." The doctor bowed slightly and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Shinichi's wide eyes found Kaito's, but all he could do was shrug. Both teens then turned to face a very amused looking Edward Elric.
"I said they were the best, didn't I?" He took a few moments to laugh at their expense before pointing to the ceiling. "It's Alchemy."
Kaito's head snapped up. He hadn't seen anything when they'd walked in…but now that he was really looking he could faintly make out a design.
"An alchemic circle?"
"You got it," Ed grinned. "That one's used to charge the air to speed up recovery."
Al nodded, "See, this is the only hospital in the country that's certified to use alchemy in medical practice."
"So, he'll seriously be as good as new in less than a week?" Kaito shook his head amazed.
"A bit more impressive than a disappearing bird, right?" Ed grinned cockily at him.
Kaito's poker face fell into place, hiding his twitch of annoyance. He'd let Ed's mocking of magic yesterday slide (barely) since he'd had technically been the one to start it. But this was an unprovoked attack! Kaito grinned. He'd been wanting to test the effectiveness of his latest hair dye formula anyway (Hakuba had finally figured out how to get his old recipe out).
"Alright Edward," he turned to address the smug boy, "I'll admit alchemy is impressive. But," he held up and wagged a finger, "magic is still way better in at least one aspect."
"Oh, yeah?" Ed snorted "And what would that be?"
Kaito heard Shinichi shout his name, but he ignored it (way too late, Tantei-kun!) as he bestowed Kid's brightest grin upon the naïve alchemist before answering him.
Kaito was out the door and in the bathroom down the hall before the smoke cleared from Shinichi's room. Moments later, the hospital's newest (and very temporary) middle-aged janitor stepped out in time to join the rest of the hospital's staff and patients in staring in confusion as a very pissed-off State Alchemist ran down the hall screaming words no one that small should know, as a much larger male wearing a suit of armor followed behind, muttering apologies to people as he passed.
Externally, the janitor was sharing bemused looks with co-workers. Internally, in between cackles, Kaito was sighing in disappointment.
The red and pink had clashed horribly.
Shinichi didn't see Kaito again until that evening when he entered the hotel suite that Ed had reserved for them, luckily, before Kaito's little prank.
Pocketing the room key and shoving the door shut easily despite the crutches (not like he hadn't used them before, after all) he turned to see his fellow traveler leaning casually with his arms crossed against the wall by the window (through which, Shinichi had no doubt, he'd entered by). Aome and the others were pecking at some food on the windowsill. Throwing the thief an exasperated glare, Shinichi hobbled over to the nearest bed and sat down facing away from him, leaning the crutches against the wall.
"You have a real way with short-tempered people, you know that?" He commented, untying his shoes.
"Has he gotten it out?"
Shinichi stared considerately at the shoe in his hand, but he didn't feel like having to retrieve it after it inevitably missed. Sighing, he glanced behind at the grinning idiot, "Pretty much. Though in the right light, it still has a slight peach tint."
"Damn, seriously?" The prankster frowned. "Well, can't say I'm too surprised considering how much chemistry seems to be involved in alchemy, but still…"
Shinichi sweatdropped. If he didn't know better he'd swear he'd just heard Kaitou Kid whine. "You realize he's not the type to let this go, right?"
Kaito just laughed, "It should be an interesting way to stay in shape."
"You really are insane…" Shinichi signed. "So what do we do from here?"
"I figured we'd just stay put 'till you've recovered," the magician shrugged. "After all, we've got no idea what things will be like where we land in the next world."
Shinichi had figured he'd say something like that. He hated knowing he was holding them back, but he knew it was better to avoid taking unnecessary risks. "True…there's no guarantee our next jump won't leave us in an area we need to vacate quickly…"
"Right? So we'll wait until we're both fully able to 'run like hell' if we need to!"
"Kaitou Kid 'running like hell' Huh…? I'm pretty sure Nakamori-keibu must have dreams about…" Shinichi's sardonic words faded when he'd turned to glance behind him at the thief only to find him squatting next to him with a serious look on his face. "W-what is it?"
"There's no reason blame yourself. I'm not. It could have just as easily have been me whose injury held us up."
Shinichi looked at him for a few moments before sighing, a small smile appearing, "doesn't mean I have to like it, do I?"
"Nah," he grinned, "though I'd have thought you'd be used to your rotten luck by now, Shinigami-kun." Kaito laughed as he jumped away from Shinichi's irritated swing at him. In a puff of smoke, he'd changed into some pajamas and crawled onto his bed.
Shinichi got ready for bed as well, though at a much more sedate pace. Before long he switched off the light and both teens drifted off to sleep.
Having grown up next door to Agasa Hakase, Shinichi was used to being awoken in unusual ways, but nothing could have prepared him for what greeted him the following morning.
"Elric brothers! Fortune smiles upon us to allow us to meet like this! Allow me to awaken you in the manner that has been passed down the Armstrong line for generations!"
Five thoughts quickly flowed through Shinichi's brain as it awoke to an extremely muscular, half-naked man bursting into their room. The first was that he needed to talk to the hotel staff regarding their choice of wakeup calls. The second was to wonder just where those sparkles were coming from. The third thought that passed through his mind was to wonder whether this was one of Kaito's pranks; the fourth thought disregarded the third upon noticing that his roommate was currently bracing himself up near the ceiling in the corner of the room, wide eyes staring at their visitor. Shinichi chose the voice his fifth thought aloud, as it was the most succinct and awake of the group, "What the hell?"
"What's this?" The man blinked his blue eyes and stopped posing as he took in the occupants of the room. He was mostly bald except for a single, curly tuft of hair in the center of this forehead; it was the same light blonde as his miniature handlebar mustache. "You're not the Elric brothers!"
"Ya think?" Kaito quipped as he allowed himself to fall back to the floor. Shinchi noticed with no small amount of amusement that the other teen's voice was half an octave above his normal tone.
"I tried to tell you, Major Armstrong, sir!" A familiar voice reached them as Ross walked in followed by a blonde officer. "Edward rented two rooms this time! One for himself and Al, and another for these two!"
"What's going on?" Alphonse appeared in the doorway, along with a barely-awake Ed.
"Ah! There you are, Elric Brothers!" The sparkles retuned as the man held open his arms and as if telling the boys to leap into them, but the action only made the brothers flinch. "It's been too long!"
"M-major Armstrong!" Ed, now wide awake (Shinichi could sympathize) slowly inched away. "What are you doing here?"
"Apparently," Shinichi deadpanned, "he was trying to wake you two up in a way passed down through his family."
Ed and his brother both blinked as if they'd just remembered they were there (Shinichi suspected they had – Armstrong seemed to have that sort of effect). Glancing between Shinichi, Kaito and the major (who was still without a shirt), a look of realization dawned at their faces as they looked at one another. Al groaned and covered his face with a hand while Ed just burst out laughing.
"Sorry about that, Shinichi," Ed somehow managed to look guilty while still snickering, but any trace of guilt disappeared when he glanced at Kaito, "I suppose I'll count this as your payback for yesterday."
Kaito looked indignant, but Shinichi cut in before he could say anything, "Excuse me, but can introductions and whatnot wait until after we've gotten dressed? Preferably after I find some coffee as well?" He hadn't actually meant to say the last part aloud and only realized he'd done so when Kaito laughed, but he didn't bother apologizing – it was the truth, after all.
"Sounds good to me," Ed yawned and ruffled his unbraided hair. "How about we meet in the lobby in 15 minutes?"
Everyone agreed and went to get ready.
Kaito laughed at the look of bliss that came over Shinichi's face when he took his first sip of the large premium-blend coffee Armstrong (who had, thankfully, put a shirt on) had handed to him when they'd arrived in the lobby. From the look he'd given the major, any earlier transgressions the man had committed were forgiven in the detective's mind. Kaito just shook his head wondering how anyone could stand that bitter stuff.
Once everyone gathered, Armstrong turned and saluted Shinichi and Kaito, sparkles appearing around him once more.
"My name is Alex Louis Armstrong," His voice boomed, "a fellow State Alchemist to Edward Elric. I'm also known as the Strong Arm Alchemist!"
Shinichi sweatdropped before introducing himself and Kaito. The blond man who'd appeared with Ross introduced himself as Ross's partner, Sergeant Denny Brosh. Both were apparently under Armstrong's command.
After introductions were complete, Armstrong led them to a nearby restaurant where they were surprised to see Hughes with his wife and daughter.
"Big Brothers!" The little girl cried out happily and ran over to the Elrics.
"Hey, Elicia!" Ed greeted happily as the brothers knelt down to the girl's level to each give the girl a hug.
"You've gotten so big!" Al told her, causing the girl to smile proudly.
"Hello there," Kaito squatted down to the ground with a grin. "You're name is Elicia, is it?"
"Uh-huh!" The girl nodded happily, "who are you mister?"
"Me?" the magician pointed at himself, smiling, "I'm Kaito! Nice to meet you!" A yellow rose appeared in his hand, and the girl took it with a squeal of delight. She then turned to look at Shinichi, a look of expectation in her eyes.
Shinichi looked at a loss for a moment, before he seemed to get an idea. Bending down as well, he took the stem of the flower and deftly twisted it around one of her wrists into a bracelet, "I'm Shinichi."
The girl laughed happily and ran to show her parents. Kaito threw a smile at Shinichi who scratched his cheek and looked away embarrassed.
"You know alchemy?" The mother, Gracia, asked Kaito curiously.
He tutted at her slightly with a smile before holding a closed hand out toward her, "not alchemy," he corrected as he opened his hand; one of his personal doves appeared in a puff of smoke and flew over to Gracia, a yellow rose identical to the one he'd given to her daughter in its beak. "Magic."
Kaito ignored Ed's and Shinichi's rolled eyes (though he noticed the detective also had a smile on his face). Hughes was looking at him, a bit disgruntled (jealous might almost be a better word), so Kaito turned to him with a smile and gave a stage bow, "you're family is just as wonderful as you described them, Lieutenant Colonel Hughes." Yep, that did it. Hughes smiled widely at him and began to gush happily over his wife and daughter again.
The group all sat down to order and eat breakfast.
"So Major," Ed commented between bites. "What did you come to the hotel for in the first place?"
"Actually," Hughes smiled, "I was the one who asked him to bring you. I didn't want your guests to miss the chance to meet my lovely wife and daughter in person! After all, pictures can only do them so much justice!"
"Lieutenant Colonel…" Ed groaned in exasperation.
"Besides, both Gracia and Elicia wanted to see you two while you were in town," Hughes added, smiling gently, "Especially, Elicia. She misses her big brothers."
Ed's face softened as he glanced over to where the young girl was happily feeding Aome and the others with Gracia. "She really has grown."
"Unlike some people, right?" Seargant Brosh laughed.
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO SHORT THEY HAVEN'T GROWN AN INCH SINCE THEY WERE THREE!" Ed screamed in the man's face.
"So, Hughes, has anything been happening in Central while we've been gone?" Al asked, turning attention away from his fuming brother.
"I'd like to say not really, but…" Hughes paused then, and Kaito didn't miss the glance thrown at him or Shinichi. The detective apparently noticed it as well, because he was suddenly turning around in his seat, away from his empty plate, crutches in hand.
"Lieutenant Colonel, is it alright if me and Kaito go and play with Elicia for while?"
"What? Oh!" Hughes blinked but recovered quickly as he smiled what Kaito had dubbed his "daddy" smile. "Of course! I'm sure she'd love to see more of that "magic" or whatever of yours!"
Shinichi nodded with a smile. Kaito followed when Shinichi stood, but not before he surreptitiously attached one of his listening devices beneath the table. Kaito stood with a stretch, putting his earpiece in place.
"Alright! How shall we entertain ourselves Elicia?" Kaito grinned down at the girl. He glanced at Shinichi and noticed he had that look that said he knew what Kaito had done. His grin widened.
"They're certainly good at reading the atmosphere," Brosh commented as the boys walked away with Elicia in tow to give Kaito more room for his show.
Ed glanced at the Sergeant but chose not to comment. He and Al had decided to keep the boys' story to themselves. Ed doubted anyone would believe it anyway; he still wasn't sure if he believed it completely.
"So what's going on?" Al asked.
"In truth, there have been a few attacks in Central," Armstrong told them seriously.
"What kind of attacks?" Al questioned.
"The killing kind," Hughes frowned deeply as he pressed his glasses up, "It looks like we've got a serial killer on our hands."
"Seriously?" Ed groaned, "First the Baron and now this…"
"I know how you feel, Ed," Hughes sighed. "So far, the higher-ups have managed to keep a lid on the story so far, but that's not going to last much longer. I'm shocked it's lasted this long."
"So, what is the story?" Ed pressed. "Is it another group of crazy revolutionaries?"
"No, from the looks of it, it's a single person," Hughes shook his head. "Whether the guy, assuming it is a guy, considers himself a revolutionary though, is anyone's guess," Hughes paused then grumbled, "although he certainly seems to want his actions to be known…that's one of the reasons the brass doesn't want to publicize this mess; they're afraid it'll encourage him."
"He wants his actions to be known?" Al looked at him, "how do you know that?"
"That's easy," Hughes sighed, "he always dumps the bodies in really public places."
"'Like where?'" Ed asked.
"Sorry," Hughes smiled wanly at him, "for now only those in Investigation are privy to those kinds of details. All I'll say is that when he dumps the body, he makes damn sure everyone in the area knows."
"So what can you tell us?" Ed asked, irritated.
"That there have been four attacks in two weeks and that all of the victim's have had a significant connection to someone in the government."
"So that's why they're so desperate to keep things hush-hush," Ed rolled his eyes in exasperation.
"Anyway, the reason I'm telling you this is that, if this guy continues his pattern, we'll be seeing another body any day now," Hughes told him.
"Got it," Ed nodded, "We'll keep an eye out for anything unusual."
"Right," Al nodded as well, a bit more noisily than his brother.
"Thanks, Ed, Al," Hughes smiled.
Applause suddenly filled the air, and the group looked over to discover Kaito had apparently gathered a bit of an audience. The magician himself was currently bowing to the audience with his arms held straight out. Ed blinked. Four doves were perched on Kaito's outstretched arms, two to each limb and facing in alternating directions; a fifth dove was perched atop his head. Everything single one of the birds was bowing its head.
"Where exactly does he keep them all?" Ross muttered as she shook her head.
Ed was secretly wondering as well. One bird he could understand, but five! He'd never admit it to the older boy's face, but Kaito was pretty good at what he did.
Alchemy was still better, though.
Ed coughed to cover a chuckle when the birds all took off as one and flew into the crowd and, from the sounds of it, between the legs of a few ladies. Okay, he could also be pretty amusing, just so long he left Ed's hair alone. He hadn't even known those chemicals could be used to get that reaction…how much time had that guy spent…?
A pained yelp suddenly erupted from the magician as a crutch's handle connected solidly with his head. Ed didn't bother to cover his laughter this time as Kaito, in a crouch and holding his head, pouted up at his assailant. Apparently, Shinichi didn't find his partner's antics quite so amusing.
"Well, we should be heading back," Hughes stood up, chuckling himself.
"Okay," Ed nodded as he followed Hughes lead along with everyone else, "thanks for the heads up."
"Sure thing, but don't let this ruin any plans alright?" Hughes smiled and hooked a thumb toward the near-identical teens. "You should show them around Central, since it seems like its their first time here."
"We were already planning to," Al admitted, "though we'd been a bit worried about Shinichi with his crutches…"
"Yeah," Ed grinned, "I'm thinking he'll be okay."
"That hurt, Shinichi!" Kaito pouted, rubbing his head.
Honestly, Shinichi was still a bit shocked that he'd actually managed to hit the slippery magician. He didn't let it show though, "then don't go training animals to flip women's skirts!"
"They just flew between their legs!" Kaito argued, standing up.
"Uh huh," Shinichi deadpanned. "And why would you train them to do that?"
"Because it's fun?" Kaito suggested with a grin. Shinichi took another swing at him, but he dodged this time. He tutted him, smirking, "Uh-uh, Tantei-kun. You managed to catch me off-guard while I was still in 'stage' mode, and I'll also admit I was surprised with how fast you're able to move with those things. But, you will not be connecting again."
"Well, we'll just have to see about that, won't we," Shinichi smirked.
"You're pretty handy with those," Hughes commented walked up them. Kaito returned his smirk before wandering off.
Shinichi looked at him and shrugged, his smile turning slightly sheepish, "I've had to use crutches a couple times before; leg injuries are pretty common in soccer."
"Soccer?" Hughes looked at him in confusion. "Is some sort of game where you're from?"
"Oh! Uh…yeah," Shinichi nodded slightly, mentally kicking himself. Just because the Aurors' world had had soccer didn't mean every one did!
"Daddy Daddy!" Elisia cried out, suddenly hugging her fathers' legs. "Did you see the birdies?"
Shinichi sighed silently in relief when Hughes went into "daddy" mode and completely forgot his existence.
"You two up for a look around Central?" Ed asked as he walked up to them.
"I'm fine with it," Shinichi told him.
"Better than just sitting around," Kaito nodded, wandering back over after, Shinichi was certain, he'd retrieved his listening device.
"We'll show you around, then!" Al said, his smile apparent in his voice.
The two Alchemists lead the way down a different street than the one the others had taken. Shinichi fell back slightly with Kaito.
"What did you hear?"
"Oh? You're not going to scold me for eavesdropping?" Kaito grinned mischievously at him.
Shinichi felt his eyebrow twitch. Kaito chuckled slightly before growing serious as he repeated what he'd heard through his listening device.
"He seems certain there's going to be another death," Kaito muttered as he ended.
"He's right to," Shinichi whispered grimly, "all the signs point towards that."
"Maybe, but isn't it possible that whoever's doing this is finished?"
"Well, it's not impossible," Shinichi admitted, shaking his head, "but it's highly unlikely, and until the culprit is caught its safer to assume that he will strike again."
"What are you guys whispering about?"
Shinichi felt his heart skip a beat at the sound of the echoing voice. He and Kaito both looked up to find that the brothers had finished whatever they'd been talking about and had taken notice of their conversation.
"Nothing much," Kaito responded with an easy smile. "Just wondering what our next destination will be like, and whether or not we should try to make any preparations. Right Shinichi?"
"Uh," Shinichi blinked before his mouth went on auto-pilot, "right. Though, since we don't have any money, it's not like we'll be able to do much."
This was one of those moments when Shinichi was grudgingly thankful for his time as Conan; it'd forced him to learn how to lie on his feet really well.
"Yeah, I guess that would make things a bit difficult," Ed commented.
"Doesn't mean we shouldn't at least think about it," Kaito muttered, throwing a 'look' at Shinichi for effect.
"What good is thinking about it if we can't do anything with what we think of?" Shinichi retorted as he fell easily into their fake argument.
"Because we might think of a way that we can do something about it!" Kaito shot back. Shinichi opened his mouth to respond but was cut off by soft, echoing laughter.
"You two really get along, don't you?" Al commented.
"Huh?" Shinichi and Kaito both looked at one another simultaneously.
"See? You're even in synch!" Al laughed. Ed stepped forward, chuckling as well.
"We're gonna be walking through the city's main shopping area anyway, so you might as well take a look. It couldn't hurt, right?"
"Sounds good to me!" Kaito smiled victoriously.
Shinichi scowled at him; even knowing that the argument was completely made-up, he still found himself irritated that he'd lost it.
Ed and Al took on the roles of tour guides as they entered the downtown area of the city. They visited several shops; Shinichi and Kaito actually did end up making a small list of items that could prove useful. They also visited some of the landmarks of the city, as well as some of the usual tourist spots.
Eventually the group stopped to take a break in a large, circular plaza with a water fountain at its center with two short, broad steps winding around it.
"Do a lot of people practice alchemy?" Shinichi asked, glancing at the fifth alchemy-related store they'd seen. He sat down with the others on one of the fountains steps. Kaito sat down on his right, and the Elrics on his left.
"I think it depends where you are," Al answered. "I know it's pretty popular here in Central since this is the base for State Alchemists."
"That's also why there are so many stores related to alchemy here," Ed added before suddenly perking up and glancing at Shinichi with a smile. "Do you wanna try?"
"What, alchemy? Me?" Shinichi's eyes widened.
"Sure! You're obviously curious about it, and you seemed to follow my explanation of it in the car well enough."
"Ed's right!" Al piped up, sounding excited. "And anyone can do basic alchemy as long as they understand the fundamental principals!"
"But I'm not from this world, remember?" Shinichi reminded them, shaking his head.
"So? That doesn't mean it definitely won't work!" Ed's grinned widened. "It won't hurt to try at least!"
"Give it a shot," Kaito interrupted. "Who knows? It might actually work!"
"Then…what about you?" Shinichi asked him.
"Nah, no thanks. Not my thing," the magician shrugged, "too sciency." Ed snorted at that, but Kaito just grinned. "Don't let that stop you, though. This sort of thing seems right up your alley, Mr. Critic."
Shinichi scowled at the title before turning to Ed and nodding, "I guess I'll give it a try, then."
"Great!" Ed smiled widely then quickly began digging in his coat. A moment later he pulled out a metal box about the size of a small dictionary. Popping the latch, he opened it to reveal several pieces of chalk held in place on the cover, with several small glass bottles filled with various substances. He pulled out one of the largest bottles, which looked like it was filled with sand. "Do you know what quartz is?"
"Of course," Shinichi nodded. "Silicon dioxide, right?"
"Right," Ed nodded then held the bottle up. "This sand is made purely of quartz."
"It's a common material and its composition is simple, so it works well as a base for beginning alchemists," Al explained as Ed handed Shinichi the bottle and one of the sticks of chalk.
"The simplest type of alchemy is where the base material is manipulated, but not altered. Like this." Moving to the bottom step, he clapped his hands and placed them on the ground; he then lifted his hands up as the dirt from the ground around them moved to where his hands had been, forming a small pile. "See what I mean?" He waited until Shinichi nodded before grabbing a stick of chalk himself. "Next is the transmutation circle."
Shinichi watched as Ed drew a circle with two squares, one smaller and skewed, and a smaller circle within, explaining what each part meant. He then had Shinichi copy him.
"Good, now for the fun part," Ed grinned. He picked up the pile of dirt he'd gathered earlier and placed it in the center of his circle. "First, place your hands at the edge of the circle," he demonstrated, "then picture in your mind how you want the material to move. Finally, you will the transmutation to start, and be sure to keep your hands on the circle and remain focused until the process is complete."
The circle beneath Ed's hands lit up, and the dirt in the center moved and shifted into the shape of a small bird.
"Yeah…I think so…"
"One more thing," Al added. "It helps to say something like "go!" or "start!" aloud when you're first starting since it helps to focus your thoughts."
Ed nodded in agreement.
Shinichi looked down at the bottle of sand still in his hand and the circle he'd drawn before taking a deep breath and uncorking the bottle. He poured the contents directly onto the circle and set the bottle down.
He could feel everyone watching as he slowly placed his hands on the circle. He froze for a moment; not sure what he wanted to form the sand into, but he couldn't help but smile when an image popped into his mind. Keeping the image in mind, he stared down at the circle. "Go!"
For a moment, nothing happened, but just as Kaito was beginning to feel the edges of disappointment, the circle lit up in the blue-white light that was becoming familiar to him. Slowly, the sand began to shift. The process took a lot longer that Ed's transmutation had, but a shape began to define itself out of the shifting sand. Kaito had to choke back laughter when he recognized the shape.
The shifting sand was beginning to resemble a very familiar bowtie.
After several long moments, Shinichi sat back with a sigh and stared at his alchemy-created sand-tie. "It…really worked…I actually did alchemy…"
Kaito clapped quietly a couple times drawing Shinichi's attention. "Not bad, Tantei-kun. Though I have to say: a bowtie?"
"Thought you'd like that," the detective smiled slightly.
"Ok, I'm lost," Ed scratched his head, "what's the big deal about bowties?"
"It's sort of an inside joke," Shinichi shook his head.
"I…see, well whatever," Ed shrugged. "In any case, Kaito's right. That was definitely 'not bad' for your first transmutation!"
"Especially considering you didn't even know what alchemy was until a few days ago!" Al added excitedly.
"It's probably just beginner's luck," Shinichi scratched his cheek in embarrassment. "But thanks for letting me try."
"No problem," Ed smiled.
The group looked up at the sound of the feminine voice. A female military officer with brown eyes and long blond hair pinned up, creating a loose loop at the top of her neck and the rest and the ends sticking up in a style reminiscent of a bird's tail. She was carrying a simple black tote bag.
"Lieutenant Hawkeye!" Al cried as both brothers jumped to their feet. Kaito noticed with a raised eyebrow that Ed was visibly tenser than he had been a few moments before as he seemed to search the area.
"Wait…if you're here, that means that the Coronel is too, right? So, uh…where is he?" the older brother asked in an obviously trying-to-be-casual tone of voice.
"You can stop panicking, Ed," Hawkeye smiled, "He's not here."
"That's…unusual," Ed said, trying not to look relieved and failing quite badly. "Aren't you always with him?"
"Yes, well someone needs to keep that man in line," Hawkeye's grumbled in a long-suffering tone. "But at the moment he's at headquarters getting briefed on the reason we were called here. I decided to do a little shopping since I haven't been to Central in while." She held up the bag before glancing at Kaito and Shinichi. "Who are these two?"
Kaito, always a gentleman, immediately stood. "Forgive my rudeness, miss. My name is Kaito Kuroba, it's a pleasure to meet you."
He smiled warmly as presented her with a rose from his hidden stash only to let out a gasp of startled pain when he found his arm jerked around by the woman and pinned behind his back a moment later. He felt a hard, metal object placed against the back of his head. The rose and tote both slipped both fell to the ground, completely forgotten.
A stunned silence followed as everyone else processed what had happened. Shinichi was the first to recover, but his response was far from what Kaito deemed appropriate considering that he had a gun pressed against his head. He started snickering.
"It would just figure that you would get caught for flirting," he muttered underneath his breath. Kaito began to do a mental checklist of the pranks he still had with him. He still had that pink hair dye didn't he?
"Ah, he's fine, Lieutenant," Ed said snapping out of his surprised stupor as well. "You can let him go. He's harmless."
"Yes," Shinichi added cutting off a few more snickers as he reached out and picked up the fallen items. He held the rose up for inspection. "Well, unless you're allergic to roses, I suppose."
Hawkeye blinked at the rose for a moment before letting go of Kaito and holstering her weapon. He took a step away from the woman then spun to face her with an easy smile; he was greatly startled, but refused to show it.
"I apologize if my magic, startled you, miss," he bowed a deep performer's bow. "I assure you that that was not my intention." He swiped the rose from Shinichi's fingers and reoffered it to her. After a few moments she finally took it.
"Magic?" Hawkeye blinked at the rose.
"It's just elaborate sleight of hand, basically," Shinichi said, ignoring Kaito's indignant squawk. He offered her the fallen tote with his left hand before holding out his right, "I'm Shinichi Kudo, by the way."
"Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye," she shook his hand after setting the rose upright in the bag.
"As far as my companion goes," Shinichi hooked a thumb towards him, "I've found that often times the best way to deal with him is to just ignore him, like you do with a misbehaving child."
"Tantei-kun, must you always be such a critic?" Kaito let a slight whine into his voice.
"When I'm dealing with an expert marksman already on her guard? Yes," Shinichi answered with a brow raised.
"You can be really annoying sometimes, you know that?"
"I try," Shinichi smirked.
"Wait a minute!" Hawkeye interrupted before Kaito could respond. "How did you know I was an expert marksman?"
"Oh," Shinichi blinked. "Well, the fact that you're carrying three guns, including the one hidden in your right boot, was the first clue not to mention the speed and confidence you showed earlier," Shinichi grinned, "but the real proof is on your hand."
"My…hand?" Riza looked at it in confusion.
"The calluses, to be specific," Shinichi nodded. "There are several different types of guns, and each type is held in a slightly differently way, so calluses develop differently depending on the type of gun used as well as how much it's used. When I shook you're hand earlier, I noticed two distinct patterns, meaning you've practiced a lot on two different types of weapons. One set is clearly from the type of handgun you used earlier. The other…" Shinichi paused for a moment and Kaito could see his right hand moving slightly, "a long-range sniper? That'd be my guess anyway." Shinichi finished with shrug.
Hawkeye and the Elrics were all silent for several dazed seconds. Kaito could sympathize, Tantei-kun really had that effect on people sometimes. Even he'd fallen prey to it a couple times as Kid.
Hawkeye finally gave her head a light shake, finally snapping out of it, "and you'd be right." She shook her head, smiling slightly. "Impressive."
"Showoff," Kaito muttered as the others got over their dazedness.
"I'm just stating what I observed!" Shinichi told him, irritated, "and anyway, you're hardly in any position to say that."
Unable to refute the claim, Kaito just grinned.
And that's when all hell broke loose.
Several surprised gasps caught his attention first. Shinichi glanced over to see several people pointing up; he looked up just in time to watch a person tip over the edge of a five-story building – the biggest in the area. Screams filled the air as the body plummeted to the ground, crashing through an empty selling stand.
Several stunned moments passed as everyone in the plaza stared at the man laying face-down on the concrete. Shinichi quickly catalogued what he could see of what he assumed was a corpse.
At least until it moved.
"He's still alive…!"Al cried out, his voice a mixture of shock, relief and horror.
"You, call an ambulance, now!" Ed pointed to a nearby passerby who jumped, nodded, and took off. He, Al, and Kaito all began to run toward the person. Shinichi was already moving to do the same when he noticed something.
The man's clothes looked like they were covered in dirt. Also, his arms were straight, resting almost at his sides, and his hands were balled into fists.
Shinichi instantly realized what this meant, and he felt his insides run cold as he also realized a likely motive. Seeing a spark from the corner of his eye confirmed his suspicion. He had to act fast; there was less than 10 seconds, max. He took a gasp of breath as he leapt forward with his good leg, grabbing one of Kaito's and Ed's shoulders.
"NO! IT'S DANGEROUS! STOP!"
Shoving hard on their shoulders, ignoring the Ed and Kaito's flinch at his booming voice, he was able to shove the two back while simultaneously giving him enough momentum, with another one-legged leap, to reach Hawkeye, who had reacted faster than any of them. He managed to grab her around the waist and dragged them both to the ground.
He could see as they fell that his screaming had brought everyone in the plaza up short, but several people who'd been closer to where the body had landed were already practically beside it.
Far too close.
Reacting on instinct, Shinichi grabbed the gun from the holster on Hawkeyes back. After a half-heartbeat's moment of relief when he saw he knew how to work the model, he flipped off the safety and pointed the gun straight up. He fired off several consecutive shots, praying that the people in this world reacted to gunshots the same way as in his.
But his relief was short-lived when the panicking screams turned to those of pain almost instantly as the area around the body burst into flame.
Shinichi swore loudly, barely conscious of his hands flipping gun's safety back on. He scrambled to get to his feet, but a hand clamped tightly around his wrist, forcing him to stop. He looked down to see Hawkeye looking behind them.
"Ed! The fountain!" She cried out, her voice urgent but in control.
"Dammit!" Ed swore as he clapped his hands. "What the hell's going on!" Ed placed his hands on the stone rim surrounding the fountain. With a burst of light the water rose into the air and flew across the courtyard to land on the flames. A loud hissing sound filled the air as the flames were extinguished.
Kaito stared as the smoke started to rise from the extinguished flames.
"..to!...KAITO!" He started as he finally noticed Shinichi calling him. He shook himself and looked at the detective.
"The roof!" Shinichi pointed to the roof where the guy…or rather, the body had fallen from. "Can you get up there?"
Kaito looked from the roof back to Shinichi, not following; he knew he should be able to, but in his defense, he wasn't the detective – he wasn't use to this sort of thing. He wondered if even Shinichi was used to it or if he'd just gotten to point of being able to think through it. To Shinichi's credit, he didn't comment or even roll his eyes as he explained.
"That guy died at least half a day ago, so he didn't jump on his own. Someone should have been there!"
Finally getting it, Kaito looked back at the roof and at the building in the area, looking for a way up. Spotting one, he sprang to his feet and nodded. He grabbed Shinichi's abandoned crutches and gave them back to the detective as he passed and quickly made his way to the overhang of a door. Grabbing the edge, he pulled himself up easily onto the wooden boards. Once up, he took a look around, more out of habit than anything, and saw nobody was paying any attention to him.
"Little wonder why," Kaito whispered darkly as he jumped up and grabbed onto the edge of window, climbing on top of the ledge to jump to the window above that where, swinging slightly, he jumped sideways over to the adjacent window. One more jump and he was at the window he wanted. He pulled himself up and then grabbed a pole holding an advertizing banner. After a quick test to make sure it'd hold him, he swung fully onto the bar, using the momentum to swing himself up and around to the top where he landed easily. From here he was able to reach the next set of windows; from those he was able to reach the edge of the roof of the four story building. He was up and over in a moment.
He could hear a child crying in the plaza below as he ran across the roof, could hear him tell someone that 'it hurt.' Kaito shook his head forcing himself to focus and not listen even as he gritted his teeth. No way. No way was the person who did this going to get away with it. He'd seen in Shinichi's eyes earlier that he'd felt the same way.
A quick running leap across a narrow gap of an adjacent roof, only a couple feet higher than the building he'd climbed, and he was on the building next to the targeted one. He picked up speed as he crossed the roof and jumped. His foot pressed against the side of the building and he kicked off, gaining the few extra feet necessary to reach another advertizing pole. The pole creaked slightly but held and he was able to climb on top of that. Pausing, he reached into his clothes and pulled out his card gun. It was unlikely that the bastard would be there, but living as Kid had taught him to always be prepared.
Ready, he jumped and pulled himself up onto the roof's edge with one arm. Kaito rolled to his feet easily, his gun at the ready. After a quick scan showed he was the only person on the roof, he lowered his gun, but kept it in hand.
He'd purposely chosen a section of the roof far away from where the body had been seen so as to avoid disturbing any evidence. The roof's access was near the center of the roof, and a quick check showed that the door was open. He glanced at the lock and had to stop himself from rolling his eyes; the design was so simple pretty much anyone who had some sort of wire and a little time would be able to get it open without much trouble. And judging from the dozens of scratch marks on either side, plenty of people had done just that. Probably coming up for a smoke or a breath of fresh air. So, nothing to be learned there.
He turned away, and made his way closer to wear the body had been dropped, staying close to the edge to avoid disturbing things. A fairly steady wind was blowing at this higher altitude, but Kaito was so used to such things that he barely noticed.
There were plenty of footprints all over the roof, but he couldn't see any sign of something, or someone, being dragged.
"So…he carried the body?" Kaito muttered. From what he had seen, the body had been pretty heavyset; the culprit would have to be pretty strong to carry it.
Finally coming to where the body had dropped he stopped and examined the scene he found.
Several small metal hoops had been driven into the roof and a rope was threaded through them. Attached to the rope was a line of thick thread, one of the edges black. Several feet farther back from where the other hooks were placed was another, but this hook had the same thick thread that was tied to the rope with an end black. A burned out candle was placed in front of the hook. Beneath the candle was a transmutation circle.
Kaito made careful note of everything he saw; it was all too likely that something he saw as insignificant might prove to be exactly the hint or clue Shinichi needed to solve the case.
Just as he was finishing up and thinking of climbing back down, he noticed the sound of approaching footsteps in the stairwell. He turned and brought his gun up, thinking it might be the culprit coming to clean up. Moments later however he found himself facing down the barrels of several real guns as a group of military officers burst through the door. Behind the first line of officers was the apparent leader, a man with an average statue who war nearly bald and had a wire mustache. It was the large man who commanded him in a squeaky voice.
"Hold it right there. You're under arrest!"
Shinichi watched Kaito disappear across the plaza before standing up himself, wobbling slightly as he got his crutches beneath him.
"Shinichi?" Al walked over, putting a steadying hand on his shoulder.
"I'm fine, Alphonse," Shinichi nodded at him before turning to Hawkeye as she walked over to him, eyes angry. He quickly shifted the gun in his hand so that he was holding the barrel end and held it out to her. "I'm sorry for taking this. I was moving on instinct and it was the fastest way I could think of getting people away."
She took the gun back without a word and examined it carefully, before holstering it with a barely-noticeable nod, seemingly satisfied. She finally turned her attention back to him, her eyes softening slightly, "Well, I can't say I don't understand acting on instinct. And you at least seem to know how to correctly handle one. Considering the circumstances, I'll forgive it, but see that it doesn't happen again, Kudo Shinichi. Taking and using a state officer's weapon is a serious offense."
"I understand," Shinichi bowed. "Thank you."
"Stop that," Ed walked up, "we should be thanking you. There's no telling what kind of shape we would have been in if you hadn't stopped us."
Shinichi shook his head, "you'd have done the same in my shoes."
"But how did you know that –"
Shinichi froze when he saw Hughes and another familiar man running up to them; this was the first time he'd seen the latter without cat ears, though. Shinichi noticed Ed's shoulders hunching from the corner of his eyes.
"Coronel," Hawkeye stood up saluting.
"Are you guys alright? We heard the gunshots and came running!" Hughes gasped as he tried to catch his breath.
"We're fine, although there were some civilians injured," she indicated the area.
"We'll get someone right away," Hughes promised and turned to a subordinate.
"Your late to the party as usual, Coronel Mustang," Ed accused, sounding annoyed.
"Hello to you too, Fullmetal," the Colonel deadpanned. "Really now, is that any way to greet your superior officer?"
Noticing that everyone's attention was on the bantering alchemists, Shinichi took his chance and slipped into a crowd of people moving to help the victims. He wanted to investigate the spark he'd seen earlier before it was too late.
Weaving through a crowd on crutches wasn't the easiest thing to do, but he managed and reached the shadowed alcove where he guessed the spark had originated from.
"BASTARD! WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO SHORT THAT HE'D MAKE THE PERFECT DECOY SINCE NOBODY WOULD BE ABLE TO HIT HIM!"
Shinichi couldn't help chuckling at the power of Ed's voice. He'd never say it aloud, but he was surprised how loud Ed was capable of being, considering his size and relative capacity of his lungs. Shaking his head to focus, Shinichi began to look around, and found something within moments. Tucked into the corner was a small transmutation circle, and leading from the middle of the circle was a scorched line about the width of two fingers that lead out of the alcove and ran along the edge of the building before turning to run beneath where the empty stand had been before the body crashed through it. Shinichi brushed a finger along the edge of the scorch mark and sniffed: gunpowder.
He looked the scene over once more, ensuring he hadn't missed anything before he made his way back towards the others who had apparently noticed his disappearance, since Ed seemed to have been sent to find him.
"There you are," Ed walked up to him. "What were you doing?"
"Just wanted to check something out," Shinichi smiled innocently.
Ed looked at him for a moment before shrugging, "whatever. The others are looking for you; apparently, they have some questions."
Shinichi nodded and made followed Ed back to group.
"I found him," Ed announced unnecessarily as they approached.
"We can see that, Ed," Mustang told him dryly.
Hawkeye broke in before another fight broke out, "I thought I overheard you tell your friend that the body had been dead for half a day?"
"At least that, yes," Shinichi confirmed. "As for how I know, since I'm guessing that's what this is about, it's because I saw signs of Rigor Mortis clearly indicating that he'd been dead anywhere from about 12 to 24 hours."
"Rigor Mortis?" Hughes blinked.
"The hardening of muscles after death…? Maybe you know it by another name?" Shinichi's heart beat picked up nervously.
"No, not that," Hughes shook his head, "I'm just surprised you know about it. Could you explain exactly what you saw?"
"Of course," Shinichi nodded and described what he'd seen.
"So, did they use alchemy to blow that guy up?" Al asked quietly.
"…Yes and no," Shinichi answered softly, and told them what he'd discovered.
"Show us," Hughes said.
Halfway to the alcove, they were stopped by a sudden commotion at the door of the building the man had fallen from. A group of military officers were making their way through the door, and in their midst, handcuffed and with a thoroughly sour look on his face was…
"Kaito!" Shinichi took off at a run, using his crutches almost as an afterthought; he vaguely heard the others following. He could hear some of the officers in the procession loudly claiming to have caught the killer.
"Of all times for you to get caught…!" Shinichi muttered as his inner Nakamori began swearing up a storm in his mind.
"Hold it!" He yelled, standing right in front of the procession.
"Move boy!" Man leading the group who was balding badly at an early age, yelled as he swept his hand in front of him as if to physically brush Shinichi away. "Can't you see we have a murderer to bring in?" He moved to step around him.
"No, you don't," Shinichi told him, taking a step to the side to stand in front of him again.
"What'd you say?" The man growled, freezing again, a slight vein appearing on his forehead momentarily.
"I said, no, you don't have a murderer" Shinichi told him clearly. "You've got the wrong person."
"Oh, and what would you know about it?" the vein appeared again.
"He was with me when the man fell," Shinichi told him.
"That doesn't matter," the man sneered, "we found evidence on the roof that the body had been released over the edge using a timed device."
Shinichi blinked, adding this to the things he knew even as he spoke again. "Even if that's the case, he was beside me at the moment the culprit lit the gunpowder that caused the fire."
"What gunpowder? This is the first I've heard of it. And even if that's the case, I'm not about to take the word of his brother –"
"We're not related!" Shinichi and Kaito spoke at once.
"Whatever, you obviously know him and could easily be lying to try to save him."
"Well, if you won't accept his word, then how about that of a State Alchemist?" Ed spoke up as he stepped forward; he held his silver watch up for a moment before tucking it back in his pocket. "He's been with me and my brother all morning, First Lieutenant Yoki."
"You're Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, if I'm not mistaken?" The man sniffed. "So you're saying that this guy's been with you all day?"
"That's right. So let him go."
"Hmph! Since you are a State Alchemist. Fine. I'll accept your word and drop the murder charge. But! He's still under arrest!"
"What? Why!" Ed demanded.
"He was carrying a gun when we found him. That can't be refuted, even by a State Alchemist! I may only have a rank of first lieutenant, but I'm in charge of this area's police force!" The man puffed his chest out proudly, "Even if I am scheduled to be put in charge of an entire town soon, it's still by duty to uphold the law here until then!
"This gun," Shinichi stepped forward again, "I'm assuming you have it with you now?"
"That's right," he held it up proudly.
"Then if you would, please fire it at the ground."
"And why should I do that?" Yoki bristled, his vein ticking again.
"Because that gun doesn't fire bullets," Shinichi smirked.
"What?" He looked at the gun then fired it at towards the earth; a card sliced partially into the ground.
Shinichi plucked up the card and held it out for inspection, "This gun was specially made. It only shoots these cards."
"No ordinary card does that," Yoki snapped the card up and examined it. "Hah! I knew it! This card has a special edge that allows it to cut things easily!"
Shinichi turned to Hughes who was standing a ways behind him at the front of the crowd that the scene had gathered. "Hughes could you please tell me exactly what the law in question states?
Hughes blinked, a little surprised at suddenly being addressed, but quickly answered, "yeah, the law outlaws "deadly weapons" within city limits and defines these weapons as "items used to kill or intentionally harm another individual."
Yoki smiled victoriously, "And, even they're not bullets these cards are still be capable of killing someone. This gun is clearly designed to harm."
"No, it's not," Shinichi told him simply. "Kaito only uses that gun for self-defense."
"It has the capability to kill!" Yoki shouted, his vein ticking with every word, "and as far as I'm concerned, anything capable of killing someone is a deadly weapon and against the law!"
"That's – !" Ed bristled. But Shinichi held up a hand to stop him, not taking his eyes off the man in front of him.
"Let me get just make sure that I have this straight, First Lieutenant Yoki," Shinichi's voice was deceptively calm as his eyes shined dangerously, "you're saying anything that is merely able to kill someone, no matter the intended purpose, is to be classified as a deadly weapon under the law?"
"That's right! Do you have a problem with that?" The man sniffed disdainfully.
"If that's how it's going to be then you also need to arrest that woman over there with the necklace," Shinichi pointed into the gathered crowd, "as well as that man with the flower pot. That woman with her laundry, she has several hangers – you'll definitely have to arrest her too. Oh, you don't own floss do you? If so, you'll have to arrest yourself as well."
"What are you talking about!" Yoki screamed, his vein throbbing constantly now.
"What? 'Anything capable of killing someone' Isn't that what you said?" Shinichi turned an icy glare on the man. "I've seen every one of the items I just named used as a murder weapon! If you're going to arrest Kaito, then you'd better arrest everyone I just mentioned as well!"
"Shut up! SHUT UP!" Yoki yelled. "Get out of the way, now, or I'll have you arrested as well!"
"For what?" Shinichi smirked, crossing his arms. "Pissing you off?"
"For interfering with justice!"
"What justice? All you're doing is taking the law and twisting it however you please to get what you want! That's not justice. That's just bullying!"
"Why you…!" Yoki's face was bright red as he trembled in rage.
"I suggest you give up, First Lieutenant Yoki," Coronel Mustang stepped forward.
"C-Coronel Roy Mustang?" Yoki stuttered for a moment before squaring his shoulders. "I'm sorry, sir. But even a Coronel can't overturn my decisions on the street! I'm am in charge of this area, after all."
"Which is why it is a suggestion, not an order," Mustang nodded, "however, unless you want to become a villain in the eyes of the public you're in charge of, I suggest you listen to it."
"What?" Yoki blinked dumbly.
"Look around, First Lieutenant," he gestured to the surrounding crowd. Shinichi looked as well; he was surprised to see how angry many of them looked. "The young man you've just threatened to arrest is the same person who, through his warning about the body being a trap, prevented any lives from being lost in the ensuing fire. I also have to agree with the boy's arguments regarding that card-gun. So I'm suggesting that you admit you were wrong and let it go."
"That's…but…" Yoki stuttered his face taking on an interesting mixture of red and white.
"I know it's frustrating to admit being wrong, but doing so often gains us more respect than stubbornly hanging onto a falsehood. I'm sure nobody here will hold your rush to judgment against you. After all, you merely had the public's best interest at heart, right?" Mustang finished with a smile.
After he spoke, Shinichi was able to sense a shift in the atmosphere; Mustang's words had shifted the people's righteous anger toward a more sympathetic understanding and gratitude.
One thought entered Shinichi's mind as he realized this: this guy was good.
"Th-that's…that's right…" Yoki looked around, apparently noticed the change as well, and took the out the Coronel had made for him. "I apologize, everyone! I got too worked up, worrying about your safety and made a mistake…! Forgive me!" He turned to one of his subordinates, "You there! Release the boy!"
Kaito's handcuffs were quickly removed to the sound of clapping from the crowd.
Kaito resisted the urge to bow to the applause, and made his way over to the detective. He had to admit, he'd been surprised at how angry Tantei-kun had gotten. He turned to him as the crowd began to disperse. "Thanks."
Shinichi glanced at him before looking away, scratching his cheek, "He just pissed me off, that's all."
Kaito grinned but decided not to say anything.
"Anyway, how'd you get caught anyway?" Shinichi turned to him, "I know first-hand that you've gotten out off worse situations."
"As Kid," Kaito shrugged, "but they saw my face. If I escaped, you and the others might have gotten in trouble since you've been seen with me."
As the crowd dispersed, Shinichi lead the group to the transmutation circle he'd found. While they were busy inspecting that, Kaito quietly told Shinichi about what he'd seen on the roof.
Eventually, the group began to make their way back towards where Hughes worked. He wanted both boys to retell their stories there. Kaito and Shinichi were walking behind most of the group with the Elrics and Hughes.
"Hey, Shinichi?" Ed turned to him. "You weren't really serious when you were talking to Yoki, were you? About seeing people killed with hangers or floss?"
Both travelers were suddenly aware that the area around that had gotten quieter. It seemed Ed wasn't the only one curious about Shinichi's speech.
"I wasn't lying," Shinichi told them as he glanced at Kaito who quickly realized what he was asking. If they were going to really help with the case, and they both wanted the bastard caught, they needed to come clean about a couple things. Kaito nodded. "You see, I'm a detective where I come from. And I specialize in murder cases."
"What? But you're just a kid!" Hughes gaped.
"I'm older than Ed," Shinichi told him, eyebrow twitching.
Kaito chimed in, "he's actually pretty famous for his ability too. He's solved tons of cases, and one of his nicknames is 'Savior of the police force' since they always call him in when their stuck." He omitted the city for simplicity's sake.
"Seriously?" Al's voice was awed as he stared at Shinichi.
"I guess," Shinichi scratched his cheek, "anyway…I want to help on this case."
The atmosphere quickly grew weary, and Hughes shook his head. "I'm sorry, but we can't let you do that."
"I'm not asking for your permission. I'm going to work on the case whether you give it or not," Shinichi announced boldly. "What I'm asking is whether you'd be willing to work with me on it, or if I have to do this solo?"
"Plus one," Kaito amended.
Shinichi glanced back at him for a moment before nodding.
This time it was Mustang who spoke, having apparently overhead them. He and Hawkeye, along with a couple of his subordinates who'd arrived earlier, including Armstrong, fell back with them while he waved the others on. "We appreciate what you did today, but we can handle this."
"Before there's a sixth victim?" Kaito asked, dropping the bomb.
In any other situation, Kaito probably would have laughed as the whole group froze, causing a few people to stumble.
"What did you just say?" Hughes blinked.
"Sorry, but we listened in on your conversation this morning," Shinichi turned to him.
"Well, technically I was the one who listened in, but he didn't stop me," Kaito corrected. "Then I told him what I'd heard."
"But you were doing that show! How could you have listened in?" Armstrong demanded.
"I'm talented like that," Kaito shrugged, grinning.
"The point is," Shinichi cut in quickly, "we know what's going on."
The group looked at one another uncertainly. Kaito decided to add something, "I'll admit I'm pretty much playing assistant on this one, but if you're still worried about Shinichi's ability you should ask Hawkeye, she's seen a little of what he's capable of."
Instantly everyone turned to Hawkeye who blinked at the sudden attention.
"Hawkeye?" Coronel Mustang questioned.
The blonde glanced around before closing her eyes and sighing, "I think we should let them help. It couldn't hurt at least."
"Seriously, Hawkeye?" A redheaded, Megure-figured man name Breda stepped forward, his eyes widening.
"You only met him a couple hours ago, right?" another subordinate, Havoc, a tall blond with a cigarette in his mouth, shook his head, "what on earth did he do to convince you?"
Hawkeye smiled slightly before turning to Mustang, "Coronel? How many guns do I usually carry?"
"What?" Mustang frowned. "Two, but what does that – "
"Wrong," Hawkeye cut in. She reached down to her right boot and pulled out the hidden pistol. "I also carry this one, in case of an emergency." She turned to Shinichi, "within minutes of meeting me, this boy was able to spot what none of you have in years. He was also able to tell that, besides handguns, I was also trained as a sniper just by shaking my hand and feeling the calluses on my hands. And of course, there's also the fact that he saw the body as the trap it was when I couldn't."
Everyone was silent for a while as they took this in. Finally, Hughes and the Colonel looked at one another in a silent conversation before both turned and nodded.
"Alright," Hughes sighed, "we'll let you in, but this can't leave this group, understand? Letting civilians in on a case this big could land us all in some pretty big trouble."
"If anyone's uncomfortable with that," Mustang added, "forget this happened and leave now."
Nobody moved. Mustang grinned and nodded. "Then it's decided," he turned to Shinichi and held out his hand, "I suppose we're co-conspirators then." He shook Kaito's hand as well then turned and began to walk forward, but after a few moments he stopped and turned back to Shinichi. "Just out of curiosity…could you tell what sort of weapon I use?
Shinichi blinked before smirking, "that's kind of unfair isn't it? After all, considering the shade of the skin, I'm guessing you wear gloves a lot, don't you?"
"I suppose it was a bit unfair," Mustang admitted smiling slightly.
"But, since we're on the topic…" Kaito noticed Shinichi rubbing the thumb and middle finger of his right hand slightly before he looked at the Coronel curiously. "Do you have a habit of snapping your fingers a lot?"
The sudden laughter that burst from the whole group caught both boys off guard.
Over the next two days, Shinichi became completely absorbed in the case and his leg healed almost without notice. Kaito could help grinning every time Shinichi's observations threw everyone through a loop; he'd have thought they'd get used to it.
It became an unspoken rule for either Edward or Alphonse to always be with them, since they knew about the two being from another world and could answer questions that they would have normally known the answer to. They'd all realized that everyone had enough to deal with without that particular revelation. Kaito saw that the others had noticed this, but they'd apparently chosen not to comment, probably thinking it was due to them being closer in age or something.
Shinichi spent most of the first day simply reading all the information that had been gathered about the case. Over the second day, he began to look at things from different angles, but while he'd made several connections, it was nothing groundbreaking. By sunset, Kaito could tell Shinichi was beginning to feel the pressure and becoming frustrated. According to the timeline they'd established, the next victim would be killed in less than 24 hours.
"Dammit!" Shinichi slammed his fist on the table causing half the room to jump.
"Hey, take it easy," Hughes soothed walking over to him.
"How can I when I know that someone's life will be lost if I don't figure this out!" Shinichi's fists were clenched so tight they were beginning to shake.
"Beating yourself, or my furniture, up isn't going to solve anything," Mustang said, not looking up from a report he was reading.
Shinichi sighed in frustration, "I know that! But dammit, I know there's something here, but I'm just not seeing it!"
"You will," Kaito smirked. "After all, you managed to take down the Black Organization."
"The black organization?" Hughes looked between them. "Can't say I've ever heard of 'em…"
"You wouldn't have," Shinichi cut in with a quick glare at Kaito. "Anyway, it's completely different! For one, most serial killers work alone whereas…" Shinichi's words faded as he stared the desk in front of him. A hand slid to his chin.
"You've thought of something," Kaito walked over to him.
"Maybe…it would explain a few things but…
"What is it?" Ed demanded, irritated by the silence.
"I think…there might be more than one criminal."
"Wait…what?" Kaito blinked. "Didn't you just say serial killers work alone?"
"I said usually," Shinichi shook his head still in the midst of thinking. "But not all, especially if their working for a purpose…!" Shinichi stood suddenly, nearly crashing into both Breda and Havoc who'd wandered over to him, but Shinichi didn't even seem to notice as he nearly ran over to the box of folders containing the various files on the case. He pulled out one and set it out for the others to see.
Everyone in the room crowded close to see the folder. It was about the most recent case and detailed the layout of the ropes, burn path, and transmutation circle.
"There's something that been bothering me since that day," Shinichi told them. "I couldn't understand why the murderer used alchemy."
"What do you mean 'why,' wasn't it to light the fires?" Sergeant Brosh asked glancing at Ross who shrugged.
"That's just it!" Shinichi shook his head. "Despite knowing alchemy, the criminal only used it to light the fires. The rope, thread, metal loops, and gunpowder, you said none of them showed any signs of being transmuted, right?"
"Yeah," Mustang nodded. "It's not a commonly known fact, but it's almost always possible to tell if something been transmuted if you know where to look."
"The other crimes were the same right?" Shinichi pulled out several other files. "So basically, that means that all of those items had to be brought in by the criminal, right? But wouldn't it have been easier to transmute them on the spot?" Shinichi looked around at the Alchemists in the room, "how difficult would it be to do that?"
"It would depend on a few factors," Al began, his voice thoughtful, "but from what we've seen…"
"Yeah," Ed nodded, picking up on his brother's line of thought, "the alchemy this time was pretty basic, but the criminal's used alchemy at each of the scenes in one way or another, and while it was nothing too advanced…I don't know about the gunpowder, but pulling off transmuting something for hooks and rope should definitely be possible for someone capable of what we've seen so far."
"Alright, I can see how that's weird," Havoc shrugged. "But how does that equal there being two culprits?"
"It has to do with something Alphonse mentioned to me last night," Shinichi turned to Al. "You said that you and Ed had used the same circle in the past?"
"What?" Al tilted his head in confusion, "You mean, about how it was the same transmutation brother and I used to use to light our campfires?"
"Oh yeah…it was that one wasn't…wait!" Ed's eyes grew wide, "but that's…!"
"What?" Kaito glanced between the Elrics and a now smiling Shinichi, "Hey, mind cluing the rest of us in?"
"That transmutation," Ed said shaking his head, "it's specifically designed to create a spark of ignition only at the moment of activation."
Mustang, Hawkeye, and Hughes's eyes all widened, but everyone else continued to just look confused. Seeing this, Ed clarified, "in other words, if the fire doesn't start or goes out, the circle needs to be activated again.
Now Kaito understood where this was going, "but there's no way that candle could've stayed lit! I was up there myself! The wind would've blown it out!"
"Exactly," Shinichi nodded. "For that set-up to work, with that circle, somebody would have had to either block the wind from hitting the candle, or re-activate the circle whenever the candle was blown out. In either case, it means that somebody had to have been up on the roof at the time the body fell."
"But then how did the culprit get down and ignite the powder? It was less than a minute between the body landing and the fire, right?" Havoc asked scratching his head.
"He couldn't have," Mustang announced, looking right at Shinichi. "That's what you're saying, right?"
"Exactly," he nodded, "even if they could somehow get down in that time frame, since the only way into that alcove is from the plaza, someone definitely would have noticed them."
"I get it," Hawkeye nodded. "Looking at it that way…there would have to be more than one culprit!"
"Right," Shinichi nodded.
"Dammit. This renders most of the alibis we've gotten so far useless since one could have just covered for the other…!" Hughes groaned running a hand over his face.
"Wait, there's something else as well," Armstrong realized. "There wasn't any need to use alchemy at all, at least not in this most recent occurrence!"
"You're right!" Havoc's eyes widened. "Hell, my cigarette lighter'd have been enough."
"Exactly," Shinichi smiled, "and yet they did use alchemy. That fact, more than anything, just might be the key to this whole case."
"How do you figure?" Breda pressed.
"It's a message…!" Kaito realized looking at Shinichi.
"That's what I think," he nodded. "Can you help me look over the files?"
Kaito had already reached for the box of folders before Shinichi had finished asking. Shinichi quickly joined him. The others looked at each other, blinking, before turning back to watch the two otherworlders flipping through page after page of notes. After a couple minutes, Kaito looked up at Shinichi.
"It's the same; both the first and third incident had the same pattern!"
"Same here," Shinichi nodded closing the folders to the second and fourth cases.
"What's the same?" Ed demanded, obviously tired of being left out.
"The way the alchemy is used in every case," Shinichi placed his hands on the folders. "Just like in this latest case, alchemy was always only used as the catalyst to the end result."
"Ok…and you're saying that's a message?" Havoc asked.
"Oh, come on, don't you see it?" Kaito smiled humorlessly. "It's fairly straightforward – doesn't even qualify as a riddle."
"Alchemy leads to death."
Mustang's voice seemed to ring throughout the room; the group looked over to see him with his elbows on the desk and his chin resting on folded hands, "and, considering the victims, state alchemy in particular." Shinichi and Kaito nodded simultaneously.
A long silence followed which Shinichi finally broke. "Based on what we know, I'd like to take a look through the obituaries leading up to the first attack."
"You have a theory?" Hughes guessed.
"I…do," Shinichi hedged. "But I'd rather not say anything until…"
"Just say it," Mustang sat back, looking resigned.
Shinichi hesitated slightly, glancing around the room, before finally nodding. "Alright. The victims are targeting people with connections to the government, not people in the government themselves. I believe that the culprits are taking what they see as revenge on government officials for taking the life of someone connected to them. Based on the message we just discussed, the death almost certainly related to alchemy but wasn't the direct cause…"
"Basically," Ed cut in, "you think the culprits are the grieving parents of a recently killed State Alchemist."
"…or other close relatives, yes," Shinichi nodded. "From what Ed told me, State Alchemists aren't that numerous. So, if you narrow your search down to relatives who know alchemy, and who've lived in the area for a while, since they seem to know the area well, I think you should have a small enough suspect list that you'll be able to place a lookout on each."
The room fell into silence for several long moments. Finally the Coronel stood up. "Hughes, get your men on this immediately."
"Right," Hughes nodded and stood. He quickly made his way towards the door, but he paused to pat Shinichi on the shoulder before leaving.
"Everyone else is dismissed," Mustang announced before he followed Hughes.
Hughes' department worked throughout the night making a list of suspects. By sunrise they'd narrowed it down to less than 30 couples and had dispatched patrols to monitor each. At 7:53 pm the call came in: one of the men they'd been monitoring had tried to attack the daughter of a government official. He was arrested on the spot, and within minutes his wife was also arrested and brought in.
The couple admitted everything easily, sounding almost proud of what they'd done. Their only son, shortly after becoming a State Alchemists, had been killed less than a month before the first attack. Apparently, he'd been told by his superiors to quell an uprising on his own. The parents felt that if their son had had back up he wouldn't have died, and blamed the government for not caring enough to provide even a single person to help. They'd wanted to teach the people who'd ordered their son to his death what it felt like to lose someone in the hopes that they'd prevent another death like their son's.
However, the parents had been mistaken from the start. As it turned out, their son had requested to go alone, saying he'd wanted to prove himself. The military had chosen not to make this public, not wanting to tarnish the young man's name. When the couple learned this, they broke down crying with regret and horror for what they'd done.
It was at this point that Shinichi decided that he'd heard enough. He turned and walked out the door. He could hear Kaito following after him.
"You okay?" The thief asked as they left the building.
"Fine," Shinichi sighed, "I just get tired of hearing the same things over and over. Even in another world it's the same thing…but even after hearing so many stories like that one, I still can't understand how one person can kill another."
Katio remained silent as they continued toward their hotel.
"Ah! It's him!"
The teens looked around to see a pair of children, a boy and girl, running toward them. Both had dirty blonde hair, although the boy's was closer to brown, and both were covered in freckles. The girl looked to be about 12 and looked to be about five years or so older than the boy. She was holding his right hand as they ran; Shinichi noticed that the boy had bandages coving his left hand and arm.
"You're the person from the fountain plaza a couple days ago, aren't you?" The boy asked. "The one who yelled to get away and fired the gun?"
"That's right," Shinichi nodded kneeling down to be at their level, glancing at the bandaged arm again with dawning realization.
"I knew it!" The boy grinned happily, one of his front teeth missing. Suddenly the girl leapt forward and grabbed Shinichi around the neck in a desperate hug.
"Thank you!" She cried as tears ran down her face. "If you hadn't given that warning, my brother might not be here right now!"
Shinichi blinked for a moment before smiling and patting the girls back reassuringly as the girl continued to cry. After a couple minutes, she finally pulled away, her eyes red and puffy. She looked at him again, slightly embarrassed, "Sorry…"
Shinichi just shook his head, "It's fine. I'm just glad he's okay."
"Yeah," the girl smiled again as she wiped her eyes, "he can be a pain sometimes, but I don't know what I'd do without him!"
"Hey! I'm not a pain!"
"You are sometimes," the girl told her brother simply causing the boy to grumble and the teen to grin. The girl took her brother's hand again, "I'm glad I was able to meet you and thank you in person! We have to be going now."
Shinichi nodded and stood.
"Thanks again! Bye!"
"Bye bye Mister! Oh! And thank you from me too!" the boy waved his bandaged arm as he was pulled along.
Shinichi waved until they were out of sight.
Shinichi turned to Kaito a slight smile on his face, "yeah, I guess I am."
Kaito grinned, "Good."
"I suppose we should probably get ready to leave," Shinichi turned away and started back towards their hotel again as he changed the subject.
"Yeah, we've already been here for a while now."
"So what should we leave? Tonight?"
Kaito thought, "why don't we wait 'till morning? No telling how long it'll be before we'll get to sleep in a bed again."
Shinichi nodded, "good point. Tomorrow it is then."
The two were approaching the front of the hotel now.
"We should let the Elric brothers know, at least. That we're leaving," Kaito commented.
"I agree, but I don't really feel like walking all the way back."
"Well, let's let Aome do it," Kaito grinned. "She hasn't had anything to do for a while now, so I'm sure she's bored."
"But we can't write the language, remember?"
"We'll just ask someone to write it for us!" Kaito smiled as the entered the front doors. He quickly turned to do just that, bringing a slip of paper and a pen out from…somewhere, as he approached a young woman watching out a window, apparently waiting for someone. Two minutes and a rose later, he was back.
"I had her write 'We've decided to leave tomorrow morning. We'll be on the hotel roof at 10. Come if you can, but if you can't make it thank you for everything. Kaito and Shinichi.' Sound good?"
"Yeah, it's fine," Shinichi nodded and the two made their way back to their room where Kaito quickly opened the window and whistled. Immediately, Aome and Kaito's own doves began arriving on the sill.
"Aome, you remember Ed and Al right?" Kaito asked as he held his hand out to. Hopping on the, Aome cooed, bobbing her head. "We need you to find and deliver this note to them. Think you're up for it?"
Aome cooed happily. Kaito quickly rolled the note up and held it out to her; she immediately grabbed it in her beak and took off out the window.
Aome returned within an hour, and the two teens got a good night's rest after packing what little they'd taken out.
Morning came quickly. Kaito dropped off their keys at the front desk while Shinichi had has morning coffee, and at 9:50 they made their way to the roof.
They opened the door to the roof, and began to walk around the access to the main part section of the roof. As soon as they rounded the corner however, they both stopped in surprise.
The Elric brothers were already their waiting. With them were Hughes, Armstrong Colonel Mustang, and Hawkeye.
"They uh…found out," Al mumbled nervously.
"About everything," Ed clarified.
"You're not the only ones capable of 'listening in' on others' conversations," The Colonel smirked. "You were whispering with the Elrics so often, I got curious. "
"Is it really true? Are you two really from another world?" Hawkeye looked from one to the other.
"…yeah," Shinichi nodded after a moment of hesitation. "It's true."
"Stupendous!" Armstrong jumped forward with his arms held out towards them, tears flowing from his eyes as sparkles floated around him. "To think! Not even your own world, yet you're working so hard to help others! How noble! How selfless!" Both boys to back away simultaneously as the man flexed, causing his shirt to tear under the strain. "Accept my admiration!"
"Uh, that's okay," Kaito told him quickly as he and Shinichi both held their hands up, "We're good."
"From another world or not, I'm still disappointed that you were planning to leave without telling us!" Hughes scolded gently as the Major pulled another shirt out of nowhere and slipped it on. "You could have said good-bye even without telling us where you were going!"
Shinichi and Kaito both looked at one another guiltily, not sure what to say. Before they could think of anything, though, Hawkeye stepped forward towards Shinichi.
"It occurred to me last night after you left that I never actually thanked you for saving me at the plaza that day," she held out her hand to him, "so I'll say it now. Thank you Shinichi Kudo."
"Um…you're welcome," Shinichi scratched his cheek as he shook her hand. "I'm just glad nobody else died."
"It's too bad you can't stay longer," Hughes said as Hawkeye turned to shake Kaito's hand as well, "but we can understand why you'd want to get going." Digging in his pocket he suddenly produced several photos and shoved them in the boys' faces. "So here! I brought you some pictures of my sweet, adorable Elicia to cheer you up if things get rough! Isn't the one where she's wearing her mothers had just the cutest?"
"Maes!" The Coronel shoved Hughes away, a longsuffering expression on his face. Kaito looked over Shinichi's shoulder as the detective casually glanced through the small pile. He stopped when he reached the last photo. It was another Hughes family photo, but both Ed and Al were in this one as well.
"Thanks Hughes," Shinichi smiled at Hughes as Kaito took the photos; they disappeared in a small puff of smoke.
Mustang and Armstrong quickly said their goodbyes as well; even Kaito's skills weren't enough to escape the Major's tearful embrace.
Finally, it was the Elrics' turn to say goodbye.
Ed stepped over to Shinichi and held out his hand, revealing a small box resting on his palm. "A little souvenir," he grinned as the detective took and opened the box. Inside was the bottle of quartz Shinichi had transmuted that day at the plaza fountain. "A little something to remember the time you used alchemy."
"Thanks," Shinichi closed the box and pocketed it. He looked at both the brothers. "Despite everything, it was fun. Good luck in getting your bodies back to normal."
"Thanks," Al nodded. They turned to watch Ed and Kaito's exchange, not without a little trepidation on both sides. Both were shocked by what followed.
"Sorry for giving you so much crap about your 'magic,'" Ed muttered, refusing to look at the magician.
Kaito blinked in surprise but recovered quickly. "It's cool. Sorry about dying your hair pink," he smiled, winking, "I should've gone with a color that didn't clash so much."
Ed scowled for a moment before shaking his head, chuckling slightly. "Thinking about it now, I'm actually glad you weren't interested in alchemy. You cause enough chaos as it is."
"You don't even know the half of it," Shinichi sighed. Ed's eyes widened slightly, but he chose not to comment. "I think we're about ready to go, Kaito."
"Right," Kaito reached into his pocket and pulled out the currently-feather-shaped gem.
"Is it alright for us to watch?" Hughes asked them.
"Sure," Kaito shrugged. "It won't be the first time someone's watched us leave."
"Just be sure to stand back," Shinichi added.
Everyone did just that as Kaito and Shinichi moved towards the center of the roof.
"You guys take care," Al called as he waved.
"We will," Shinichi nodded before turning to Kaito. "Ready?"
"Yeah…oh! Wait! I almost forgot! Here, hold this for a minute," he tossed the gem to Shinichi.
"What is it?" the detective asked catching it easily.
"There's one more thing I need to do," Kaito shot over his shoulder as he walked towards Ed. "I may not have been interested in alchemy," he said as he reached the blonde alchemist, "but I can at least understand the concept of Equivalent Exchange. You've really done a lot for us, Ed, so I've been trying to think of something I could do for you in return. I've finally thought of something."
"Oh? And what would that be?" Ed asked, raising his eyebrow.
"It's something that I can do with my magic that you can't do even with your alchemy," Kaito smiled mischievously as he leaned down and whispered, making sure only Ed could hear. "I can bring your vision to life!"
Kaito stood, Kid grin fully in place, and announced loudly in Kid's voice. "Next time, remember that eavesdropping can have consequences!" He snapped his fingers.
Instantly the small group was enveloped in a cloud of smoke. After a couple moments Kaito dashed out of the cloud and sprinted towards Shinichi, a manic grin on his face. He glanced at Shinichi as he stopped beside him and turned back, as the smoke began to clear. "This isn't a heist so it doesn't count."
"What?" Shinichi frowned, but then realization dawned and his eyes widened and flew back to scan to group across the roof from them. The smoke had pretty much cleared completely and Shinichi was able to instantly spot what Kaito had done. He groaned.
Standing amidst everyone, still where he'd been when the smoke first appeared, was the Coronel, who now had a pair of large white cat ears protruding from his head. Also, he wasn't wearing the military uniform he'd been wearing moments before.
"I gotta say, Coronel Mustang," Kaito called out, "you look dead sexy in mini-skirt! Bye!" He cackled and grabbed onto the gem Shinichi was still holding.
The boys were able to catch a glimpse of a look of pure glee dawning on Edward Elric's face, and one of pure horror on his superior's, before the air, rippled, warped, and they were gone.
That's it! I hope you liked it! Again I appologize for the length. But since you made it to the end, please don't forget to R&R! Also, if you haven't already, go read the REAL The Traveler's Chronicles by Alaena. Even if there were parts of this you didn't like, I'd still suggest checking it out since this was ME writing, not Alaena.
Remember: What you just read was my own creation, which I wrote without input from Alaena. As such, the events in this fanfic have no bearing whatsoever on the original story of "The Travelers Chronicles" !
Also, just FYI, I did NOT plan on using Vic Mignogna's famous quote when I began this story, and it was only as the scene was coming up that it occured to me, and once it did I couldn't resist. (It's a pretty well known quote, but for those who don't know Vic, who is Ed's voice actor, was once asked by a fan to say something nice about Roy Mustang in Ed's voice. Vic's, or rather Ed's, response was: "Colornel Mustang is dead sexy...in a MINI SKIRT!")
Thanks again for reading! *Bows*