A.N: So this is another of those stories I unearthed from my old stuff that I have decided to finish. Pieces of it were written a while ago, but I need to connect them.
Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK
Pairing: KaiShin [KaitoxShinichi]
Warnings: This is an AU, and everything that entails.
Ages: Everyone's a little older in this story. Think early twenties for Shinichi's generation.
1: The Phantom
"They say that three hundred years ago a young man stole the heart of the moon. She would come out every night and they would ride across the grasslands like the wind. But the moon had to return to the sky. So she asked the young man to go with her. However he would not go with her for he knew that any man of earth who left for the skies would never be able to return, and he loved the earth too much. But the moon felt betrayed by the young man's decision. Yet despite her sorrow and anger, she could not bring herself to harm the youth. Instead she decided that if he would not come to her, she would make sure that he could never leave her sight. So she cursed him, taking away his time so that he must forever wander the earth he claimed to love beneath the moon's watchful gaze, unchanging and unchangeable. And she thought that now they could both have what they wanted and be content. But the young man came to the moon once more when he realized what she had done and told her that he would not be satisfied with such a fate, for those who are denied time have no life at all. He did not wish to simply be as everything else changed and passed. Moved by his sincerity, but unable to simply give in to his request, the moon declared instead that she had hidden his time inside a stone and hidden that stone somewhere on the earth. If he could find his time, it would be returned to him, but until then he must remain as he was, forever in her sight."
Seated around the small, wooden table in the inn's common room, two young men and one young woman gazed thoughtfully into their respective cups. Ran Mouri, the girl who had just finished recounting the tale she had been told, tucked a strand of brown hair behind her ear and sighed.
"The story is rather popular here it seems," she concluded, looking up at her companions.
Shinichi Kudo, the young man seated to her left frowned slightly, blue eyes thoughtful. "So this thief is claiming to be the person from this legend?"
Heiji Hattori, the last of the three, shrugged as he leaned back in his seat. "Well, not exactly claiming. More been attributed with. Though there are some people who think he's the real deal."
"I know, but they say he's been around for at least fifty years or so but by all accounts he's still a young man. That's why they call him the Phantom."
"It just means there have probably been several of them," Shinichi reasoned. "If no one's ever seen his face clearly, then it would be easy for several different men to build the one reputation."
"That's true," the girl agreed. "I think people want to believe he is the legend though. There is a certain romanticism in mystery and myth that people find attractive."
Heiji snorted. "I'll say. Most all the women and girls in town are in love with the bastard."
"Really?" Ran asked in surprise. "I would have thought they'd be scared."
The dark-skinned young man shrugged. "They say he's a real charmer. A real gentleman, or something like that. Girls are just weird that way I guess—er, present company excluded, of course."
Ran smiled. "Good save."
There was a moment of contemplative silence before both she and Heiji turned to their blue-eyed companion with expectant faces.
"So? What did the lord say?" the latter prodded.
Shinichi ran a hand through his hair. "It seems this thief—or thieves, as the case may be—has stolen over a dozen highly valuable gems in the last year alone, most of them sapphires. Almost all of them belonged to local nobility like the Suzukis and the Hakubas. Local authorities have had no luck whatsoever in tracking him down. He is supposedly both an expert in disguising himself and a master magician. Last week Lord Hakuba received a notice from him that said he would be taking the three sapphires he is sending to his fiancé that will be leaving by train this afternoon. And that's why we're here. He—"
"Wait, wait," Heiji interjected, raising his hands to forestall further words. "Did you just say the thief told him he would be stealing the jewels on the train?"
Shinichi nodded, extracting the copy of the notice he'd traced and placing it on the table where both his companions could see it. "From what I've been told, it appears to be a habit of his."
"And why's it signed 'KID'?" Heiji asked.
"It's what he calls himself. No one knows what his real name is. Anyhow, we're being hired to make sure that he and his accomplices don't take the sapphires."
"So he has accomplices?" Ran asked curiously. "How many?"
"No one knows."
Heiji snorted. "They really don't know much about this guy do they?"
"Apparently not." Shinichi glanced up at the clock on the common room wall. "We should leave now. I wanted to talk to the sheriff's men being assigned to this before the train leaves."
All born in the town of Beika, the three members of the Beika Detective Agency had garnered a name for themselves despite their youth as being some of the brightest and most successful solvers of crime to surface in recent years. They were most well known for their successful tracking down and capture of the outlaw gang known as the Black Riders who had been terrorizing the eastern settlements on the grasslands for the past decade and a half. Ever since then they had been getting requests for aid from towns and cities all over the region. It was about a week ago that they had received the request for their presence by Saguru Hakuba, the young lord who had taken over the running of his family's lands since his father had fallen ill.
"So are those the sapphires KID's after then?" Ran inquired, peering at the suitcase being clutched protectively in the arms of a man dressed in the livery of the Hakuba household.
The man eyed her warily then shrugged. "It might." Then his gaze slid to the side where four other people dressed in the same colors carried four identical suitcases.
"So we'll all be stationed in the fifth car then?" Heiji asked. He surveyed the car in question with a critical eye. There was a door at the front and one at the back connecting this car to the one in front and behind it.
"We will be," the biggest man with a suitcase replied stiffly. "But you are to remain in the fourth with the sheriff's men."
"But what about the sixth and seventh cars?" Shinichi pointed out, frowning.
"They are cargo only and we have already searched them for stowaways and we have men stationed outside to make sure no one sneaks in before the train starts moving," one of the officers explained, herding the three of them into the fourth car before shutting the intervening door. They all heard the locks being secured on the other side.
The seats nearest the now locked door were all occupied by law enforcement officers. The rest of the train's passengers were eyeing them with obvious curiosity. Others looked nervous. Shinichi snorted to himself. Honestly…
"This is ridiculous! Why did they bother hiring us if they're not gonna let us do our job?" Heiji complained, voicing all their thoughts as he dropped into one of the train's padded seats. This one was located in the unofficial boundary zone between the wary officers and the confused passengers.
"Well, we can't really do anything about it if they don't trust us," Ran replied, shaking her head. "I guess we might as well get something to eat. It's going to be a long journey. Do you guys want anything from the dining car?"
"A bite to eat would be nice."
"What about you?" she asked, turning to Shinichi.
He shrugged. "I'll have a cup of coffee if they have it. In the meantime I think I'm going to take a look around."
"I'll keep watch here then," Heiji offered, casting another glance at the locked door to the fifth car. He watched as his two companions left before letting his breath out in an irate huff. This was going to be one dull train ride, he thought.
"That wasn't a very happy sound," an unfamiliar voice remarked. "Are you having a bad day?"
Startled, he looked up to see a pretty girl with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was watching him with curious, brown eyes from the next row of seats.
"Nah, it's nothing really," he replied, scratching the back of his head. "Just a bit annoyed I guess. Long trip ahead and all that."
"I know what you mean," she agreed with a sigh. "I never did like long train rides myself. But at least it's faster than riding or taking a wagon."
"So are you going to visit someone? I'm going to see my best friend. She moved away a few years ago so we don't get to see each other much anymore."
He smiled at the delighted gleam in her eyes. "Wish I was, but I'm working." He jerked his chin in the direction of the locked door and grimaced. "Or trying to anyway. My friends and I have apparently been relegated to the spectator seats."
She glanced at the officers around the door with interest. "Was that what you were sighing about then?"
"Yeah. It's frustrating when you get hired to do something and you come all the way just to be told you have to work from the sidelines."
"That sounds rather unreasonable."
"Tell me about it… I think maybe whoever had the idea of calling us in isn't on the same page as the people in charge."
"Oh, I forgot, my name is Kazuha." She stuck her hand over the back of her seat and smiled. "What about you?"
He found himself smiling back as he shook it. "You can call me Heiji." Maybe this wasn't going to be as boring as he'd thought. He found himself hoping Ran and Shinichi didn't come back too soon.
The Raven Express had been built several years ago in order to make it easier for the inhabitants of the grasslands to cross the Oasis. The Oasis was, contrary to its nickname, a barren stretch of land where nothing could be cultivated and no rivers ran. Uninhabitable and dangerous, people used to have to circle all the way around it in order to get to the settlements on the other side. So the people of Ekoda County got together and it was decided that a railway should be built. The tracks had been difficult to lay and their construction took nearly five whole years. There had been moments when everyone thought they might have to give up on the project, but they pushed on. Their perseverance was eventually rewarded. Now it was the pride of many in the area.
Despite its fame, this was the first time Shinichi had ever been on the Raven Express himself. Having grown up in a neighboring county on the eastern borders of the grasslands, he'd never come this far west before. Seeing all those endless hills and rocky ridges made him miss the sea, but it was beautiful here too in its own way. Much more quiet too without the ocean's steady roar or the never ending cries of the gulls.
"I take it this your first time on the express."
Startled, Shinichi tore his gaze away from the racing scenery beyond the window to find that a young man in a uniform that marked him as one of the workers on the train standing beside him. He was a little taller than Shinichi but appeared to be around the same age, maybe a year or two older at most. His own gaze was still trained on the view outside as he stood with his hands in his pockets.
"Is it that obvious?" Shinichi asked.
The stranger flashed him an amused grin at that. "After you've been working the route for a few rounds it's easy to tell who's new and who's not."
"I see." He wondered if that meant he looked like a tourist.
"It's not a bad thing," the stranger continued, grin fading into a faint smile. "It's good to hang on to that sense of wonder for things. Not many people do."
Shinichi blinked in mild confusion at the rather odd statement. What wonder? All he'd been doing was looking outside. "I am afraid I don't quite catch your meaning."
The stranger however just shrugged. "Sorry, I get that a lot. Anyway, I just thought I'd let you know that you should find a seat soon. The next part of the journey can sometimes be a bit rough. I need to head back and make sure all the luggage is secure before my boss starts yelling. See ya." He tipped his hat and continued on his way. Shinichi watched him go feeling oddly like he'd missed something.
The first car was mostly deserted so Shinichi picked a random seat and sat down as two more train attendants left the engine room and made their way down to later parts of the train. It being around noon, most of the other passengers had headed to the dining car. The only other occupant of his current car was a young woman also in Raven Express livery. She was arranging a tray of drinks.
Shinichi's eyebrows drew together. Why was she doing that here instead of in the dining car? His eyes narrowed when he saw her deftly slip something into the glasses.
"Excuse me, Miss!" he called out as he stood up abruptly and approached her. "I need drinks for my friends, can I have those?"
She looked around at him quickly, surprise flashing across her face before it disappeared behind an apologetic smile. "Oh I'm sorry, but I was actually getting these for someone else. If you'll wait a moment though, I can get more for you once I've delivered these."
"What did you put in them?"
She froze, her smile going wooden. "What are you talking about?"
"I saw you adding—" He was cut off by an earsplitting crack that had both him and the girl jerking their heads around in search of its source.
Ran was still waiting in line for her turn in the dining car when the shots rang out. The first thought that flashed through her mind was that the Phantom was making his move, but then she remembered that they had been told he and his men didn't kill. Had those been warning shots? Or was this another group of thieves? If so, then had they been the ones to orchestrate this under another's name or were both sets here?
She had just pulled herself out of the line and was trying to push her way through the frozen, confused crowd when the entire train rocked with an explosion. She lurched and would have fallen if the dining car hadn't been as packed as it was.
All around her people started to panic as yet another explosion rocked the train. What the hell was going on?
Finally reaching the door, she charged back into the fourth car where the passengers were crouched down amidst the seats in fear and the officers were scattered near the gaping hole that now gave them a clear view into the car where the sapphires had been being kept. Or it would have if the fifth car wasn't rapidly disappearing into the horizon. The officers' clothes were stained with dark patches that Ran recognized to be blood.
Sprawled near them, was an all too familiar figure.
"Heiji!" she gasped in horror, darting forward and dropping down beside her friend, bumping shoulders with one of the passengers who was apparently applying a hasty bandage to a bullet wound in the dark-skinned boy's arm.
"I'm all right," Heiji said the moment he saw her, his voice strained but steady.
"This bunch of people who were sitting with us just up and pulled out guns!" the girl who'd been helping Heiji exclaimed, her voice shaky. "They shot the officers and blew the door open and—and then they shot those other men, the ones with the suitcases, and then they were just gone!"
"Looks like we've all been duped," Heiji grated out through gritted teeth. "None of us were expecting that kind of force. Where's Shinichi? He should've come running in here by now."
"I don't know." Ran frowned. Heiji was right. Shinichi was usually the first one on the scene. She was halfway back onto her feet when another explosion threw her across the aisle.
The explosions were far too close. The early ones had been distant, somewhere at the end of the train, but now they were literally next door.
Having been thrown onto the floor for the third time already, Shinichi scrambled onto his hands and knees and looked around. Hot pieces of metal littered the floor around him, cutting at his palms as he moved, but he ignored them. The end of the car before him was a wreck and the girl he'd been talking to was bleeding from several cuts but she seemed otherwise unharmed. She too was clambering back onto her feet, her face pale and confused.
Looking past her, sharp blue eyes widened as he realized that the train car beyond, now clearly visible through the obliterated door, was beginning to fall away. Those explosions must have been designed to separate the cars.
Cursing inwardly, Shinichi lunged and pushed the girl into the departing train car just as it finished breaking away. He landed flat on his stomach, half hanging out over the edge of what was now the end of the train. The tracks raced by mere feet below his nose as the wind tore at his hair. With an effort, he managed to drag himself back away from that deadly fall. In the distance the rest of the train's detached body grew smaller and smaller by the second.
His heart was pounding so loudly that it was all he could hear and his breaths rasped in his throat in painful gasps. But he didn't have time to just sit around and be relieved.
Scrambling to his feet, he ran through the empty car and threw open the door to the engine room. Instantly a cloud of thick, black smoke billowed out, wrapping around him in searing waves and clogging in his throat. He doubled over, slapping a hand over his nose and mouth as he struggled to breathe. His eyes watered and he couldn't see a damned thing. What had happened to the people who were supposed to be working there? And the conductor? He barely had a second to wonder how he was supposed to check what was wrong, let alone figure out how to fix it—especially since he didn't know a single thing about trains other than that this couldn't be a healthy sign, when his world erupted in fire, smoke, and the smell of gunpowder.
His last thought before he lost consciousness was that this was not how he wanted to die. At least he was the only person left in this part of the train.
It was a dull, throbbing pain that suffused every inch of his body from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. If asked, he would have been hard pressed to say which part hurt the most. Or the least for that matter. On the other hand, since he'd expected to be dead, he supposed it could have been worse.
Then again, maybe he was just lying on the side of the tracks now and he was going to either starve or bake to death under the Oasis's relentless sun if he didn't turn into something's dinner first. It wasn't all that hot right now though.
Deciding he couldn't put it off any longer, he cracked open his eyes. Expecting to see the empty sky, he was surprised to find himself looking instead at a dark, cavern ceiling. From the play of the light on the uneven stone, he could tell that there was sunlight coming in from his left. But he must be far enough away from the cave entrance for it not to be shining directly on him. That, at least, would explain why he was only warm. How had he gotten here though?
Carefully, he levered himself up into a sitting position, biting his tongue against the protests being lodged by all his limbs. A look down at himself revealed that someone had treated his injuries. His right leg had been splinted, while his midriff and arms were wrapped in bandages. Said bandages looked suspiciously like pieces of his jacket, which he was no longer wearing. The rest of his clothes looked rather worse for wear, but not quite as bad as he had expected. So someone had brought him here.
Self examination complete, he turned his head towards his left. As he had predicted, the cave mouth stared back, looking out onto the dry, rugged landscape of the Oasis. Only the view was partially obscured by a person seated just inside the cavern mouth.
The person must have heard him moving, for he turned to regard him with a pair of calculating, indigo eyes.
"You might want to lie back down," he said.
"You," Shinichi gasped in recognition. It was the young man he had talked to on the train—the one who'd claimed to be one of the train attendants. Only instead of the Raven Express uniform, he was now dressed in white.
"So you remember me," the stranger noted, his lips quirking into a smile. "That's good. How are you feeling?"
Shinichi couldn't stop the grimace that forced its way onto his face at the question. "How do you think?"
The other man laughed at his answer. "I suppose it was a stupid question. So your name was Shinichi, correct?"
"Yeah." Shinichi confirmed then frowned. "How did you know?"
"I make it my business to know things. Especially when they relate to my work."
There was a pause before blue eyes widened in realization. "You—you're the Phantom!"
"Why ever would you say that?" the other asked, but there was no question in his tone. Only amusement. Obviously he didn't care if Shinichi knew or not, and that made the detective a little nervous.
There were, however, more important things he needed to know about.
"The train," he began, eyeing the thief's face closely. "Were you—"
"That was not my doing," the thief cut in coolly, expression neutral though his eyes had hardened at the accusation. "There were robbers on the train. They separated the cars and sabotaged the engine. I believe they may also have killed the conductor and the engineers. It seems they ran off with the cargo and stranded the passengers. The idea was probably to keep the authorities too busy rescuing the passengers to search for them and their loot."
"I see… And the jewels?"
A smirk flashed across the thief's face as he opened one hand to reveal a small, gold case which Shinichi recognized from his first meeting with the lord when he'd been shown the sapphires in question. "Do you mean these?"
He narrowed his eyes in indignation. "You mean you took them anyway after everything that happened?"
The gold case disappeared.
"Pardon me, but I acquired these well before our dear uncivilized robber friends made their move. It's not my fault if you lot didn't notice. And really, rather than pointing fingers, you should be thanking me for pulling you out of that explosion, Detective. Otherwise you'd be nothing but ashes right about now."
Shinichi looked the thief over in disbelief ."How could you have pulled me out? You don't have a scratch on you!"
KID simply raised an eyebrow, his tone mocking. "Does it matter how it happened?"
Obviously the man wasn't going to answer the question. Looking away from that too-knowing smirk that was beginning to make him feel like a clueless child, Shinichi stared instead at the cave wall opposite him. "Why did you help me?"
"Why did you help Aoko?" the thief countered.
Shinichi frowned in confusion. "Who?"
"The girl you pushed into the other car before it broke away," KID clarified, his voice growing serious. "You could have gone yourself. Instead you helped her even though you knew she was one of my people. Why?"
"That's a stupid question," Shinichi muttered, feeling more uncomfortable by the second. "I can't stand by and watch someone die."
There was a long moment of silence. "I see."
Slightly surprised, though not entirely sure why, Shinichi turned his gaze back to the white-clad figure seated by the cave mouth. KID caught his gaze and quirked a questioning eyebrow.
"Were you expecting something?"
"I—no…" he shrugged then winced as the motion reminded him of his injuries. "I guess maybe I'm just surprised you didn't laugh."
"And why would I do that?" the thief asked, sounding honestly mystified.
Why had he thought that? Maybe because he was talking to a criminal? He'd met more than his fair share of people who would find the idea of saving someone who was supposed to be your enemy ludicrous indeed. Not all of them were criminals either. "Lord Hakuba says you're an unscrupulous criminal with no respect for anything."
"Does he now?" KID stood up and walked towards him, making Shinichi tense in sudden anxiety. If he could have, he would have moved away. As it was he gulped as the thief braced one hand on the cavern wall and leaned down until their noses were practically touching, his smirk widening slightly. "Don't believe everything you hear."
For a moment Shinichi couldn't breathe. All he could do was stare into those deep, indigo eyes that seemed to be laughing. Then the thief was walking away.
"I will return shortly. I recommend that you try to rest."
Shinichi's shoulders sagged in relief as his breath left him in a shuddering sigh (why did he feel like blushing?). There was something…something strange about those eyes.
A.N: This should have eight chapters and will be updating in place of Illusions of the Sun now that Illusions is done. Well, hope you enjoyed and see you next time!