Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK
Main Pairing: KaiShin [KaitoxShinichi]
Side Pairs: HakubaxAoko, HeijixKazuha, OCxRan, TakagixSatou
Warnings: Going to be kind of a long story.
1: The Disappearing Policeman
It was one of KID's biggest productions to date. The target of the heist was a rather large sapphire set into the eye of a magnificent statue which in turn was the centerpiece of a fountain that sat smack in the middle of the central courtyard of the city's new science museum. The courtyard itself was covered by a sprawling, stained glass dome that spread from the eight different buildings forming the complex. As that meant there were also eight open courts, one between each pair of buildings, all of KID's fans were vying for a position where they may actually be able to see the thief up close. This meant the police had their work cut out for them keeping people from slipping in where they could only get in the way. Nakamori could be heard cursing the damned magician for choosing to stage a heist that wasn't inside a building (with a target that couldn't be moved), but the audience didn't care and his task force were too busy keeping people back to calm him down. Besides, they knew any attempt would be a lost cause. The man had been in a particularly foul mood ever since the last heist and the picture of him dangling upside down by one foot in a butterfly costume had made it onto the front page of the papers. It had only added fuel to the fire that KID's notice this time around had begun with the—in Nakamori's opinion—horrendously insulting phrase 'Greetings, my most loyal followers'. Several of his officers would swear that their ears were still ringing from his outraged tirade at seeing that.
For his part Shinichi was glad the crowds were so big that night. It meant that it was easy for him to avoid Ran who had been dragged to the event by an overly excited Sonoko. Things had been rocky between them for a while now. He let out a quiet sigh at the recollection that no one heard over the roar of the masses. Two weeks ago he had done as he had promised and told her everything that had happened over the last two years. She had, to his surprise, listened to the whole thing in silence. When he was done she had remained silent for several more minutes before saying "I see", getting up, and leaving without another word. It wasn't the reaction he'd expected. Well, truth be told he hadn't known what to expect, but utter silence had definitely not been it.
After that she had stopped talking to him altogether. So he'd decided it was probably best to let her simmer down before trying to talk to her again. After having gotten used to seeing her everyday, it was taking some getting used to. Still…it bothered him a bit that it didn't bother him more. There was the nagging fear of losing one of the few real friends he had, but nothing more or less than that. Maybe it was because he knew now that she would never really understand him (not that that was really new news, he mused, they'd never had much in common). And, well, frankly he wasn't sure he could understand her either. So in a way it was probably best that they knew that now.
Still, he kind of wished…that things were different. It seemed he was getting to know less and less about himself with every passing day. There was something incredibly unsettling about that. Life wasn't supposed to work that way, was it? Surely it was supposed to be the other way around.
"Oi! Kudo! Why're you just standing here?" A dark-skinned hand fell on his shoulder and began to propel him forcibly through the crowd. "Come on, the heist's about to start! If we don't get through this lot before KID shows up we'll probably get stampeded to death."
Noting the extreme likelihood of this hypothesis—KID's fans were an enthusiastic lot and this was one of the few heists where they might actually be able to see the thief up close—Shinichi picked up his pace.
Even with Hattori's liberal use of elbows and swearing it took them nearly ten whole minutes to make it to the line of police holding back the spectators. There they had to shout at the top of their lungs for another five minutes before the officers understood what they were there for. It seemed these officers were new to the force and didn't recognize either detective on sight. At least one of them went so far as to accuse them of being KID fans trying to use the names of prominent detectives to sneak in. That particular genius received a deluge of accented curses for his troubles and Shinichi was beginning to wonder if he'd have to stop Hattori from throwing a few irate punches when one of the older task force members showed up and rescued everyone involved by knowing who they were.
Of course, that led to the customary face pinch and pull, but after that they were allowed through so that Nakamori could take a turn at shouting at them not to get in his way.
Oh what fun, Shinichi thought wryly. It was nice to know that no matter what happened in his tumultuous life some things would never change.
Shinichi had positioned himself beside one of the museum windows where he could get a good view of both the fountain in the center of the courtyard and the inside of the main museum building. It was because of this choice of locations that he saw the shadow creeping into one of the inner exhibition rooms. He could tell from the slightly clumsy movements that it wasn't KID, but obviously it wasn't someone who belonged here either.
It seemed someone might have decided to use the KID heist as a distraction so that they could steal their own share of goods from the museum.
Shinichi eyed the creeper for a moment, debating with himself. The heist was about to start, but on the other hand he couldn't just sit by and watch whoever that was go about his or her illegal business. KID he knew was technically harmless as far as people's lives went, but this creeper might not be. And there was certainly no lack of people around the museum tonight.
Making up his mind, Shinichi slipped away from the main courtyard and made his way to one of the museum's many doors. It had been left open as several officers were stationed just inside it. Shinichi negotiated his way inside and headed towards the exhibition room he'd seen the shadow moving into.
This particular wing of the museum was dedicated towards various chemical discoveries and inventions. Walking through it was like walking through a science fiction movie. Soft lights glowed from inside different displays, some of which bubbled softly as others swirled with neon lights meant to highlight whatever invention they were displaying. The exhibition room however was almost entirely dark. A sign outside proclaimed that it would not be open for another three months. There was no one inside. What there was instead was the faint outline of light seeping through the cracks around a door. The door was slightly ajar.
Making his way over, Shinichi peeked inside. The room beyond the door looked like some kind of laboratory. A few of the signs that had been put up made Shinichi think that it was probably meant to be a hands on exhibit in the future where visitors might be able to view various types of chemical reactions in a 'safe' environment. At the moment however the place made Shinichi think of a mad scientist's heaven.
And there at the massive bank of computers that dominated the center of the lab was a person dressed from head to toe in concealing, black cloth. He couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman but whoever it was knew their way around a computer. Their fingers were flying over the keys and Shinichi had a very bad feeling about the whole situation.
Deciding it would be best to interrupt whatever was being set in motion, Shinichi pushed the door open and stepped in, automatically scanning the room to check for alternate exits. There was only one other door but it was much farther away from the main computers than the one he had come through. "Stop right there!"
The intruder jerked around to reveal that its face too was almost entirely hidden by black cloth. Kind of like a mummy in black wrappings, some corner of Shinichi's mind remarked. The rest of his mind however focused on the way the intruder spun and bolted.
Shinichi's feet started moving before his mind could give the command and he raced to intercept the fleeing mummy in black. The mummy had a head start but Shinichi was the faster runner. He was gaining.
The mummy stopped abruptly beside a bank of large, glass displays. Shinichi's steps faltered slightly as he saw the person's hand emerge from a hidden pocket with something that glinted. A weapon? But no, it looked more like a bottle—
Glass shattered beneath a black, booted foot that must have had steel caps on.
Shinichi could see the moment whatever was inside the tanks flashed and sparked. The mummy set off again but Shinichi lost track of it an instant later as the entire lab went up in a nearly silent explosion.
A bluish smoke gushed through the museum and out over the screaming crowds. The once excited screams turned to shrieks of confusion and then terror as flames followed the blue mist.
Kuroba Kaito, the man behind the glamour that was Kaitou KID, had watched the commotion that was his fans and his task force duking it out for the best spots at his upcoming show from the shadows amidst a particularly elaborate set of sculptures adorning the upper balconies of the main museum building. The turnout this evening had been even better than he'd expected and it was making his blood sing with excitement. This was going to be one heist no one ever forgot! Of course, that was his goal with every heist, but for an audience this big he was definitely going to have to do something extra. To make things even better, he had not only his task force but three detectives to play with today.
Sharp, indigo eyes zeroed in on the Detective of the East the moment the boy emerged from the flailing crowds to be subjected to Nakamori's unwelcoming bellows. He hadn't seen Shinichi for a while now and he was pleasantly surprised to note that the detective was back in his teens. He wondered idly if it was permanent this time. After all, he hadn't heard anything about Conan for weeks.
Well, whatever the reason behind the boy's appearance tonight, the important part was that he was here and this night was looking more fun by the moment.
With all the possibilities whirling through his mind, Kaito was a bit confused to see the focus of his attention making his way indoors mere minutes before the time when the show was scheduled to begin.
"And where do you think you're going?" he muttered under his breath as he craned his neck for a better look at the door the detective had gone through. That was the courtyard entrance for the lab exhibits. He remembered seeing Nakamori posting guards there in case KID decided to make a surprise entrance from indoors. Why the man thought he'd choose such a difficult to see place to make his entrance he had no idea. It was just one of those things about Nakamori, he supposed. Tantei-kun on the other hand surely knew he wouldn't be down there where nobody not in the immediate vicinity would see him.
Well, he'd have to investigate it later. Right now he had a show to open.
"Look!" Suzuki Sonoko shrieked in excitement as she latched onto her best friend's arm and pointed towards the stained glass dome overhead where a flock of doves had apparently detached themselves from the glass and were now circling the courtyard in a flurry of white wings.
Mouri Ran, the friend to whom the arm Sonoko was clutching belonged, winced as her friend's excited clutches cut off the circulation in her arm. The sight of all the birds was surprising and neat and all but it was hard to appreciate anything when she was starting to lose all the feeling in one arm. "Sonoko, could you please let go?"
Sonoko wasn't listening as all the lights in the courtyard chose that moment to go out. A single spotlight flickered to life to follow the circling doves, making the birds look almost like they were glowing as they turned and swooped in low over the crowd. People everywhere yelled and waved as Nakamori yelled for his men to get ready. Then the doves spiraled in upon the fountain and in a flurry of feathers they were no longer alone. There, balanced on top of the fountain's central statue, was the white clad form of the thief everyone had come to see.
Ran let out a sigh of relief as Sonoko relinquished her arm in order to wave fanatically at her 'KID-sama'.
Ran on the other hand found herself looking not at the thief but at the officers swarming towards the fountain. She remembered catching a glimpse of Shinichi earlier talking to the police. The thought made her stomach twist unpleasantly.
It wasn't that she was really angry at him, she thought. Or at least she wouldn't call it anger. She'd been mad for a while, certainly. It wasn't even so much the lies but the fact that he'd apparently been right there the whole time and seen how worried she had been and yet just let it go on. It was that more than anything that bothered her and she wasn't sure if she would ever be ready to forgive him for that. But no, she wasn't really angry anymore, just…disappointed, maybe.
When she saw him these days it always felt like she was looking at a stranger who just happened to resemble someone she used to know. It was a confusing and unpleasant feeling and it left her uncertain as to what to say or do. She'd been waiting all this time for him to come home only to find that he never would because the person she'd been expecting didn't really exist anymore.
And really she was beginning to wonder if she'd ever understood him at all.
Well, there wasn't much point in speculating about it now.
Shinichi coughed as the smoke billowed around him. Covering his nose and mouth with his sleeve, he ran in the direction he thought the door was. Behind him something crackled and sizzled and he could feel pulses of something cold washing over him every few steps.
Then the sparks began to dance and his vision was getting blurry. The smoke didn't smell like the kind that came off burning things, but it wasn't oxygen either and his mind was starting to spin as black spots danced across his vision.
The ground beneath his feet heaved like the deck of a ship on a storm tossed sea. His knees hit cold, granite floors and he doubled over, struggling for just one breath of clear air.
It was starting to feel like something was burning in his chest.
The last thing he heard before the world vanished was the shrill scream of a siren.
Kaito had secured his gem for the night and the best part of the fun was just about to begin when several of the ground floor windows of one of the museum buildings flashed and there was the sound of shattering glass. The museum's alarms went off with a shriek. When the blue tinted smoke began billowing from all the main building's windows he knew that something was seriously wrong. And he hadn't seen Shinichi come out of the building. Torn between irritation at having such a wonderful evening so rudely interrupted and concern, he pulled on one of the gas masks he kept with him. No one was paying attention to him anymore—not that they could see much through the smoke—so it was easy to slip through one of the windows on the second floor which he'd unlocked earlier that day in case he needed it. Trusting Nakamori to get the people outside to safety, he slid quickly inside and made a beeline for where he remembered the stairs were located.
The closer to the stairs the less the smoke looked like smoke. Now and then crackles of pale blue energy would flicker through it like currents of electricity. The currents were accompanied by sparks ranging from pale purple in color to a fiery red. It might have been pretty if it hadn't been accompanied by the occasional lick of very real flames. They were spikes of heat in the slightly chilly fog.
The visibility was dropping rapidly and Kaito was beginning to seriously wonder what he should do if he couldn't find Shinichi when the issue was taken out of his hands as he literally tripped over his quarry.
Kaito caught himself before he could fall and crouched down beside the detective's unmoving form. He shook Shinichi's shoulder after checking his pulse but got no response. On an impulse he pulled off a glove and pressed the back of his hand to the other's forehead. The heat that greeted his touch was definitely not normal. Tantei-kun hadn't looked sick earlier though.
What was in this smoke? Well, whatever it was, it couldn't be good.
First thing first then, he had to get them both out of here before whatever had set off all this weird smoke decided it was time to up the ante.
"Things can't ever be normal when you're around, can they?" he mused aloud as he gathered the unconscious detective into his arms and headed back for the stairs, trusting his memory to guide his steps since he couldn't see more than a foot in front of his face. Behind him the blue and green flames which had taken over from the orange slowly began to creep through the veil of smoke, the eerie light of their writhing shapes strange and almost ghostly despite the very real ferocity of the crackle of their hunger.
"Kudo!" Hattori called out over the pushing, shoving crowd as he searched frantically for his vanished friend. "Damnit! I turn around for one minute—Kudo!"
But there was no answer and no sign anywhere that his fellow detective was near. What he did see was Kazuha waving frantically at him from an alcove beside a rather large potted plant. Giving up on finding Shinichi for the time being, he waded through the masses towards her.
"Heiji!" she called the moment he was within earshot. "What's happening?"
"I have no idea," he replied honestly as he shouldered past one last pair of onlookers and joined her in the relative calm of the alcove. "Something went off in the museum. They're trying to get everyone out of here before they go check it out. Are you all right?"
"Just a bit shaken," she replied with a strained smile as her eyes swept over him in search of injuries. "I thought for a moment I was going to suffocate in there with all that smoke but I ran into that other detective and he helped me get here."
"Other detective?" Heiji repeated, wondering if she'd seen Shinichi. Only if that were the case why didn't she use his name? "Do you know where he went?"
"The blond one," she elaborated. "I think he said his name was Hakuba. Anyway, he said he had to go find someone called Aoko and left in a hurry." She paused for a moment when she saw him frown. "What's wrong?"
Deciding not to mention the long, long list of 'wrongs' that hearing the name Hakuba brought to mind, Heiji focused instead on a more pressing concern. "I can't find Kudo."
"Wasn't he with you just earlier?"
"Was, yeah, but he disappeared just before all this smoke started pouring outta nowhere and I haven't seen him since. I get the feeling he might have gone in to see what all the commotion started from but the police won't let me in!"
The look she gave him clearly said she thought the police had the right idea. "That's just stupid. That's a chemical lab exhibit in there! Who knows what could happen next! You can go in when they're sure nothing's going to explode or anything else like that. I'm sure even Kudo-kun would wait that long before running into a building spewing blue smoke and rainbow sparks just to see what caught fire."
Heiji let his breath out in a rush and leaned back agains the towering, stone vase of the potted plant. "I hope you're right."
It took the police nearly a whole hour to clear everyone out of the museum. Heiji and Kazuha stayed in their alcove with the potted plant all the way up to the last moment but Nakamori wouldn't hear of letting them stay. He said in no uncertain terms that no one had been found inside the museum and that it would be up to the museum technicians to figure out what had gone wrong now. As for meddling high school kids who liked to fancy themselves detectives—well, he wasn't going to deal with them now when he didn't have to and the KID heist was obviously over for the night so they'd better clear out before he had them all arrested for interfering with police matters.
Heiji had a lot of things he would have liked to say to that, but Kazuha grabbed him firmly by the arm and dragged him away before any of them could leave his mouth.
"There's a reason we have telephones, Heiji," she snapped when he protested. "If we don't get going now we're going to miss our train and since Kudo-kun might not be home yet we won't even have anywhere to stay. I don't know about you but I'm not spending a night at the park or something just because you couldn't keep your mouth shut for once."
Heiji opened his mouth to defend himself, then thought better of it. She had a few good points, but still… "Man Kazuha, are you sure you're all right? You've been biting my head off all night!"
She paused for a moment as they reached a street corner, raising a hand to her forehead. Then she let out a tired sigh. "I—I'm sorry. I've just been feeling a bit sick…"
"What?" Alarmed by the sudden change in his friend's demeanor, he turned to look her over. She did look a bit pale… "Why didn't you say something sooner if you were sick?"
"It's not serious," she replied a bit defensively. "I'm sure it was just the smoke. You know, lack of air and all that. It'll pass."
Heiji frowned, not quite believing her. Her voice had come out much too faint for his liking and she seemed to be swaying on her feet. Reaching out on an impulse, he wrapped an arm securely around her to keep her from falling. "Come on, let's get you home."
He could call Kudo in the morning and berate him for pulling the disappearing act again. For now he had to make sure Kazuha got home and had a good rest. Why hadn't he noticed sooner that she wasn't feeling well? Ugh, he was supposed to be a great detective! If it had started with the smoke then she must have been feeling off for that entire hour they'd been waiting. Cursing himself for his inattention, he turned them towards the train station.
This, Kaito reflected, had definitely not been on any of his plans for the night. He was now in a small apartment several streets away from the museum with an unconscious detective tucked in the bed with a cool cloth over his head.
His first thought had been to take the detective back to the Kudo Manor, but then he remembered that Shinichi lived alone. It would be pointless to take him there only to leave him by himself. There was the hospital of course, but just dropping the boy off there would feel a bit like abandoning him. So instead he'd brought the detective to one of his safe houses instead before calling his mom and telling her that he was spending the night at a friend's. Technically he supposed he could have still taken Shinichi to the Kudo Manor and simply hung around long enough to make sure he was okay, but this place was much closer and just more convenient all round. Even so it still hadn't been exactly what one would call close.
Carrying the detective all that way without being seen had been a bit tricky but he wasn't a phantom thief for nothing. And not once through the entire journey had Shinichi so much as twitched.
That was somewhat concerning.
The detective was worryingly light too. Kaito was by no means an expert on human health, but he was pretty sure people weren't supposed to be that thin. Maybe it was a side effect of growing up again? After all elementary school kids naturally needed less in the way of nutrients than teenagers. So it wouldn't be that surprising if the sudden change from eight to eighteen led to some (hopefully) minor problems.
Shaking away those unpleasant thoughts for the time being, Kaito set about exchanging his KID uniform for something less distinctive. He didn't generally need much sleep—which was good luck on his part since he spent so many of his nights running around high security museums and mansions, but even he was feeling a bit tired after all the commotion. And he'd been feeling a bit off balance since he'd gotten a whiff of that smoke. Not enough for him to think it was anything dangerous, but he definitely needed a few hours to sleep it off. Then he could figure out what to do with Shinichi and maybe find out what the hell had happened back in that museum.
Takagi Wataru groaned as the shrill cry of his alarm clock cut through the fog of sleep. Prying his eyes open, he levered himself out of bed and stumbled to the desk where the clock sat. He turned it off with a sigh and set about getting ready to go to work.
In retrospect going to see the KID heist the night before an early morning investigation probably hadn't been the best idea, but Miwako had been so excited and he just couldn't not go with her. And, well, it had been nice to spend time with her. They hadn't had much leisure time together for a while now with all the clean up going on surrounding that criminal organization that had apparently kept Kudo-kun away for so long. Not that Division One had all that much to do with the operation—it was being handled mostly internationally and was just about over with—but as several of the organization's agents had been caught in Tokyo they had inevitably been drawn into it.
He had to wonder how Kudo-kun had gotten himself mixed up in the whole thing. Takagi himself was an adult and a policeman with some experience and he still felt a bit out of his depth. Then again the young detective had been looking a little worn out himself. Takagi remembered the boy from before his disappearance, and it seemed to him that the Kudo-kun who had come back wasn't the one who had left.
Well, it wasn't really his place to speculate about it.
If he didn't hurry he was going to be late and then Megure-keibu was going to have his head. And Miwako wouldn't be too happy either.
With that in mind, he grabbed his keys and bolted for the door. He reached the station just in time. Letting out a breath of relief, he reached for the door just as it opened.
He stepped aside quickly as two officers walked out.
"Good morning," he greeted them, but neither of them heard him and in moments they were gone. Shrugging it off, he entered the station and headed for Megure-keibu's office.
He stepped in just in time to hear the inspector shout, "Where's Takagi? He should've been here by now?"
"I'm here, Sir," he said quickly, stepping up to the desk.
Megure turned around then frowned, his eyes scanning the room. "That's strange," he mumbled to himself after a moment. "I could've sworn I just heard…" Trailing off, he shook his head and strode out the door to shout to the rest of the station. "If any of you see Takagi, tell him I've gone ahead and he'd better have a damned good explanation for being so late!"
Takagi stared after the man with his mouth slightly agape. What was going on? The inspector had walked right past him! As though he wasn't even there!
Confused, he stood in the empty office for several minutes before making his way outside. No one he walked by looked at him or spoke to him. When he said things people glanced around like they thought they'd heard something but they inevitably turned away, dismissing it as nothing more than a whisper form their imagination. He was starting to feel distinctly…well, freaked out. In the end he took refuge in the bathroom where he splashed cold water over his face in an attempt to calm his nerves.
It was working until he looked up and found himself facing the mirror over the sink.
The mirror showed only the bathroom behind him.
He had no reflection.
A.N: Wow, this makes DCMk fic number ten. Anyhow, this story is going to have a slightly larger array of character focuses than any of my other ones, but it's still mainly going to be on Kaito and Shinichi, since it's me writing. It's also going to be kind of long—though not in the freakishly long way Travelers is (for anyone who cares, yes, I'm still working on that). Well, I hope you found it interesting and I'll see you next time. I'll try to update this at least every two weeks. ^_^