Author's Notes: Well it's certainly been a long time, eh? Especially since I've written Conan, as upload dates would tell you. So forgive me if characterization is a little off, I've got to get back into the swing of writing these guys.
Warnings: This will end up yaoi/shounen ai, with the pairing Kaito/Shinichi. Those who don't wish to read such things, please use the emergency escape exit located in the "back" button on your browser. This is also an AU, in many meanings of the word, heh. It is also completely un-beta'ed. -jazz hands-
Disclaimer: As Kaito and Shinichi are not having hot mirror sex in the manga/show, obviously I don't own them. Characters property of Aoyama Gosho.
Setting Up The Board
It had begun, as Shinichi would later remember ruefully, with such an innocuous little thing.
In this case, a stupid shiny rock.
It had also started, as Shinichi normally had no interest in rocks no matter or sparkling or shiny beyond knowledge needed for cases, at a Kaitou Kid heist – another source of things that Shinichi tended to later regret.
It had been a crisp, clear autumn dawn when Kid's next target had been announced, a large chunk of tanzanite that had been named "Night Sky" due to its flawless, exceptionally rich indigo color and a rumor that if one stared at it in certain lighting, it looked like it was filled with stars. Big, flashy, and with a weird legend attached to it, perfect Kid bait.
Shinichi, newly-returned to his life after finally taking out the Black Organization and obtaining a cure from Haibara, had had a long debate with himself on whether or not he should go as he munched on a piece of toast at breakfast, reading the paper that announced Kid's intentions.
On one hand, Kudou Shinichi had no business at the heist. He had long proclaimed mere thieves below his skills, deeming murder the far more heinous crime to set his sights on. It would be odd for him to show up contrary to his opinions, and from what he remembered of Inspector Nakamori, another "snot-nosed brat thinking he can get Kid before me" would likely infuriate him. The man hadn't been too happy the one time they'd met before he was shrunk, either, at that clock tower. And, of course, Kid heists were the stomping grounds of Hakuba Saguru, whom Shinichi would have to pretend to never have met before – especially as a little seven-year-old with big glasses – and the reserved teen might take it as an affront to his skills.
On the other hand, he found himself wanting to go. Kid's heists were...something of an oasis in a desert of murders. Kid's luck seemed to counter his ability to inevitably have a murder occur at his feet (most of the time), and Kid's personal policies of never hurting anyone – besides their pride and dignity – greatly helped in that factor. It was nice to take a break from constant death, to work his mental skills against a brilliant opponent that didn't result in a body bag. Shinichi felt a little guilty, he really shouldn't be chasing a capricious thief when murderers might be roaming free, but he couldn't help but enjoy the brief respites Kid provided.
Of course, even if he did go, he wasn't quite sure how the thief would respond. Shinichi was fairly certain – no, make that dead certain – that the thief knew just who he was when he'd been Conan, although he'd never admitted it directly, but the times the thief had covered for him spoke volumes. He had wrested respect from Kid at the Black Pearl heist, and Shinichi wondered if that respect and the almost friendly rivalry between them would remain now that he was taller than the thief's waist.
It also irritated him when he realized that made him worried. How low had he fallen as Conan, to warrant holding a criminal's respect in such high regard that he was worried about keeping it?
Irritated and finished with his toast, Shinichi was no closer to a decision on his attendance and just decided to go to school and think more on it there. He still had vast amounts of make-up tests to do if he wanted to graduated with his age group on time, and if he missed any more school, even that option might be a bust.
As fate would have it, his decision was taken out of his own hands by one Suzuki Sonoko. Her fangirling and determination to win Kid's eye hadn't faded one bit, and now that she had Shinichi's skills in easy reach again, she was determined to use them.
He was sorely tempted to say just no and forget the heist due to Sonoko's insistence he went, but Ran had turned apologetic but amused eyes on him, asking him if it wouldn't be bad to go "just this once". And, with considerably more secret amusement, "I'm sure you'll find something to like about it".
Ran. It had been hard, confessing to her, and the week or so afterward she had been too furious to speak with him. Thankfully, she had calmed down, and asked for a second, more detailed explanation, and that day she left considerably more friendly. Even so, it was still awkward sometimes, and Shinichi often had to bite his tongue to prevent himself from tacking on the "-neechan" to her name. Still, she was glad he had told her and that he was back, and he could see it in her smile that she understood. She thought he was an idiot for thinking she needed such protection, but she understood.
He had to admit though, that he did regret how their relationship had turned after two long years as Conan. He'd always thought, had this vague future plan in the back of his mind, that one day he'd marry her and they'd have kids and it would be a happy little fairy tale. He'd had the feelings to do it, too, before he'd been shrunk.
But after two years of being her pseudo little brother, he found he just couldn't think of her romantically. It was hard to think of someone as a girlfriend when she picked you up and carried you like a doll half the time or scolded you to brush your teeth and be in bed by nine.
Ran, too, felt it. No longer came the blushing and stuttered denials from either of them when Sonoko slyly called them husband and wife, just calm corrections – amused exasperation on Ran's end, irritation on Shinichi's. The acted like brother and sister now, and honestly, it was more than Shinichi had hoped for after two years of lying to her. She'd said she'd been able to forgive him, because as Conan he always tried to take care of her, to reassure her Shinichi would be back. It showed he cared, that he wasn't doing it by choice. And Shinichi had felt no surprise when, last week, she'd casually discussed with him whether she should do some casual dating now or wait until college, or even after, and he'd felt no surge of jealousy. They had even chatted about it, Ran mostly scolding Shinichi for his admittedly dismal social life, or rather lack thereof.
Shinichi really couldn't help it. He'd always been terrible at making friends, Ran really being the only one he had his age, and trying out a romantic relationship with someone he hadn't known for a considerable period of time was just out of the question, he was too reserved for that. He supposed it's why he'd crushed on Ran at first. The only other girl he'd known well enough was Sonoko, and like hell he would harbor any mere iota of romance for her.
So, that day, he found himself folding under the look he'd privately come to call the "Ran-neechan Knows Best" look – she did remember how much Conan had been interested in Kid after all – and wound up promising he'd be at the heist, trying to catch the thief if he could.
Well, he had wanted to go, anyways.
That's how Shinichi found himself on a rooftop, hands shoved into his coat pockets to protect them from the steadily increasing chill of the night air. He'd staked out this spot as the most probable escape route for the thief, so now all he had to do was wait for the show to be over downstairs and he would confront Kid.
Of course, he'd be lying if he said he was doing this to actually catch him. If he'd wanted that, he'd be in the building, trying to trap Kid into a small enclosed space with hopefully only one exit. The rooftops were Kid's element, and he'd undoubtedly find a way to get away from Shinichi, advantage of being his regular size again or no. But, in an effort to make himself not feel disgusted with his mind for its reluctance to catch Kid, he reasoned that tonight was just a test run, to see how Kid would react to Kudou Shinichi and if their old relationship and rules still stood. The thief didn't seem to be going anywhere after all – odd that, before his disappearance he'd been much more active in the international stage, now he mostly waited for the jewels to come to him in Japan, which was more proof of Shinichi's niggling theory this wasn't the first Kid – and there would be plenty more opportunities to catch him in the future.
Later, Shinichi would kick himself relentlessly for this decision.
He was blowing on his hands, idly wondering if he really should go down there and pursue the thief for real before he froze like a popsicle, when he heard the faintest rustle of fabric. The swooshing of it, and few seconds of faint flapping he'd heard, meant that his visitor was wearing something long that blew in the wind, like a trench coat – or a cape.
Sure enough, he looked up – a reflex he'd developed during his days as Conan, it was always up with Kid – and there the thief sat, legs dangling over the side of the small maintenance building that Shinichi was currently leaning against, smirking at Shinichi with that ever-amused air.
"Well, well, I see my favorite critic has rejoined my game...with a new hand. So glad you decided to join us...Tantei-kun."
That was probably as close as Kaitou Kid would ever get to "Congratulations, welcome back".
Shinichi merely arched one dark eyebrow. Kid didn't seem very surprised, but then again, Shinichi had been back for over a month now, and though he kept a much lower media profile than before due to ingrained paranoia, his return had still been enough to ignite a small media frenzy. That, and if he knew the thief even the tiniest bit – which he hoped he did – Kid probably regularly staked out the homes of the detectives he considered "his", and hearing that Conan had "gone home" would have been enough to connect the dots.
Or, he might very well be surprised and was just hiding it. Kid's act was so flawless, he wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyways.
"Aren't you a little worried that the task force is going to catch up with you, and that you're currently making small talk with a detective?" Shinichi asked dryly as Kid idly swung his feet, looking like he didn't have a care in the world, smile still in place.
"Oh, don't worry about my loyal followers, they're handling a rather...sticky situation right now-" – Shinichi immediately didn't want to know what said situation entailed – "-and it will take them fifteen minutes at the least to free themselves." Kid finished, waving a hand airily, before jumping off the building, landing on the ground and shoving his hands in his pockets as he faced Shinichi, hat and monocle hiding his features but his smile still visible.
"But I must ask you, Tantei-kun...you claim you're a detective, but you don't seem to be doing a very good job of trying to catch me. Hakuba would have attempted three times by now."
"I'm not much for taking useless odds," Shinichi shrugged, continuing to lean idly against the wall. Maybe he would make a half hearted attempt at catching the thief, just to surprise the bastard, but he'd probably been standing out here so long his legs were frozen to the ground. "If I'd really wanted to chase you tonight, I wouldn't confront you in an area that so blatantly tips the odds in your favor."
He got the impression that one eyebrow was cocked at that, an amused mirror of Shinichi's earlier expression, but the hat made it impossible to tell. "You never seemed to consider that before. In fact, I remember quite a lot of rooftops in our confrontations."
"No choice. As Conan, I wouldn't be able to direct anybody around, I could only follow and hope to catch you off-guard. If any of your task force had any sense, they would realize routing you off before you got to the target and made a big flashy show is far better than standing around like mannequins until the jewel's in your hand." Shinichi mildly replied, finally pushing himself off the wall and turning to face Kid directly. Of course, it would take a few heists yet to get anyone to follow his command. Inspector Nakamori had made his opinion on Shinichi very clear, mostly with a long tirade that had a lot of repetitions of "helicopter", "brat", and many colorful adjectives describing said words. It had been almost impressive.
"Is that so?" Came Kid's even tone, still in that mildly-amused voice, far too young-sounding for a thief of almost twenty years now, even if eight of those were out of commission. And Shinichi had heard enough unintended exclamations from the thief to guess it was his real voice. Soccer balls aimed at delicate parts tended to inspire that reaction.
"So, now that we've got that out of the way," Shinichi decided to continue breezily. Maybe if he kept up this too-casual front with the thief, he'd let his guard down one day. Unlikely, but it was another line to cast into the water in the hopes to land his catch. "Why don't you just hand over the jewel like a good thief and we'll be on our way? You'll just send it back anyways, save yourself the postage. It's freezing up here and I'd like to go home."
"Oh, but it's such a pretty jewel, I would at least like to admire it for a day, wouldn't you agree?" As he spoke, Kid snapped his fingers, and in a puff of smoke the jewel appeared, balanced on one finger. "I don't know if I want to give it up yet."
Shinichi just sighed. "It's a rock. Just do your strange little moon ritual and give it back if it's not what you're looking for. And then we can have a nice stress-free parting and I can go home and sleep in my warm bed."
"My, my, someone's not very chipper tonight. Did you not get enough of that paint thinner you call coffee? I tried what you made for the task force, how you drink it I will never know." Kid flippantly replied, but moved to hold the gem up to the moon anyways. "And you seem to think I am searching for something. Whatever gave you that impression?"
"Different jewel each time, all with a specific set of requirements, always returned. Classic search pattern behavior. I think you even wrote a few times that some weren't what you were looking for. Your earlier heists since your re-emergence fit into the pattern less, but I suppose you picked up your goal along the way." Shinichi just shrugged as he watched the thief, Kid making an amused hum.
"You detectives do love to analyze, don't you..." Kid mused, still staring at the jewel, and Shinichi felt himself relaxing slightly. So far, Kid hadn't changed his demeanor at all from when he'd been Conan, although the mocking was a little less present, more like friendly teasing by now. They had, after all, had been doing this for over a year now.
Friendly teasing from a thief. When had his life gotten so weird? Well, he knew the answer to that was in a little red and white pill, but still. Shinichi tried to push down the guilt about being happy that Kid seemed to accept Shinichi, that their little rivalry could continue. He wanted to catch the thief, not play with him.
Kid, he noticed, was taking entirely too long staring at that jewel. Usually the strange habit was over in a few seconds – another clue it was a search pattern – so the fact that Kid was still enthralled in it meant that he was either seeing something he looking for, or he was lost in thought.
Or he was receiving beams from the mothership about his next instructions to drive human beings insane. Who knew.
"See something interesting?" He finally decided to ask, as a full minute passed and Kid seemed riveted like a statue. "Like what you're looking for?"
Kid was silent for a moment – if he was ignoring Shinichi he was getting a soccer ball to the back of his head, frozen feet or not – but eventually made another hum. "...Not quite. But I must say, this light show is rather interesting."
"Light show?" Despite himself, Shinichi moved forward in curiosity. Always his curiosity, damn it. Sure enough, dancing in the jewel were bright little silver lines, like if the stars rumored to be seen in the gem all decided to play pachinko in no gravity. It was rather pretty, even if it was making Shinichi stare at it in dumbfounded amazement. Rocks didn't do that.
He took another step forward to see more clearly, and suddenly the lights started to slowly get brighter, enough to cast dancing silvery lines across the thief's hidden face. A face which suddenly lost its air of perpetual amusement and took on one of confusion and slight worry as he lowered it from the moon.
This did not stop the light show. If anything, the lights kept getting brighter, and now Shinichi was staring at the jewel in worry as well. "...Uh. Is it supposed to be doing that, Kid?"
"...I must admit, I have no idea." Kid replied, voice still calm but a frown was starting to pull the corners of his mouth down. "Perhaps I should have researched this particular jewel's legend a bit more-!"
Kid suddenly let out a startled yelp as the jewel suddenly lit up like a lightbulb, bright enough Shinichi couldn't look directly at it. And hot, too, if if the sudden smell of singed silk and Kid's slightly pained voice were any indication.
Shinichi found himself reacting on pure instinct as a detective and as someone who'd spent two long years doing his best to protect everyone – dangerous object, hurting someone, must remove object – and found his hand flashing out to grab the jewel. To take it or at least knock it out of Kid's hands, he wasn't sure, but he found his fingers closing around the gem, frigid to his own touch despite what it was doing to Kid's glove.
But Kid was a magician on top of being a thief, and was a master at both, and his hands had long been trained to grip like iron if needed, even when wearing slippery silk gloves. He didn't let go of the jewel as Shinichi grabbed and tried to yank it as well.
That's when everything went to hell. The jewel suddenly surged, brighter than before, and the light show become multicolored and prismatic on top of that. The distant part of Shinichi's brain not absorbed in panic over a gem that seemed to be going nuclear observed that probably the entire city for a mile around now knew were they were, judging by brightness and intensity. The rest of him continued panicking.
"Tantei-kun, let-!" He distantly heard Kid's voice, seemingly in a rare state of distress, but before Kid could complete his sentence he was cut off and Shinichi knew no more.
Next chapter coming soon. Reviews always appreciated.