Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan/Case Closed (though the other elements of this story are mine:)

Pairing(s): Kaito x Shinichi, Heiji x Kazuha

WARNINGS: Shounan ai (boy/boy pairing), you have been warned. Also, please note that since this story largely takes place in a parallel universe, character counterparts from this universe may act differently than they would in the original universe, taking into account new backgrounds and story history.


Resurrected in Flames

By V. Shalyr


Chapter 5

"So this is the place, huh?" Shinichi mused, surveying the rundown building with slight misgiving.

"According to Tou-san's directions, it would appear so."

The furrow in Shinichi's brow deepened as he recollected their meeting earlier with Kaito's father…

.

"You want to meet the Counter Guard?" Toichi raised one just slightly dubious eyebrow at them from across the circular table.

The three of them had decided to meet for breakfast in a moderately sized restaurant not quite in the midst of city activity but not too far out of the way either. It was kind of ironic, Shinichi noted idly, that out of the three of them, Kaito was the only one who actually looked like himself considering how much time the magician spent pretending to be other people. Then again, no one in this world could recognize Kaito. As far as most of them knew, such a young man had never existed. Shinichi shivered and quickly took another sip of his coffee.

"Shinichi—ah, the other Shinichi—sort of asked us to," Kaito explained carefully. He wasn't sure he really wanted to share the contents of that letter with anyone, even his father. It felt too private somehow, the last words of someone who—though not his detective—was as close to being his beloved as anyone else could get. "We just want to talk."

Toichi studied them for a moment longer then nodded. "Fair enough, but I have to warn you. They may not want to hear what you have to say."

"We just want to understand a few things," Shinichi said.

The corner of Toichi's lips twitched into a sardonic half smile. "I don't think understanding is high on their list of priorities."

Kaito frowned. "So do you know where their main hideout is?"

"Yes, I do."

.

…Toichi's reactions had been far from reassuring. Of course they could already tell that the magician's views on matters clashed dramatically with some of the rebels' closely held beliefs, but it was hardly encouraging when they had been charged with trying to bring these different sides together.

The house that stood before them looked fairly ordinary if rather rundown. It kind of reminded Shinichi of the Kudou manor when no one had been living in it for awhile. That was probably the impression its current occupants wanted to give all considered.

"Shall we?" Kaito asked, sweeping his detective a short bow and holding out his hand, always the picture of a perfect gentleman. At least until he added, "I can get us in through a back window. They won't know what hit them."

"We're only here to talk," Shinichi reminded him, painfully worried that the magician's attitude would provoke the rebels unnecessarily.

"I know, I know. Now come on, it's getting late and I don't want to be here all night."

As far as Kaito was concerned, sneaking the both of them into the rebel hideout turned out to be laughably easy. There were traps of course and two sentries posted, but that was nothing compared to what he normally dealt with on his heists, not to mention all the infiltration work he had done when he and Shinichi had partnered up to finally bring down the Black Organization back home—back when Shinichi had still been Conan. In retrospect, this felt a lot like life had felt back then: dangerous, fragile, and complicated.

Helping Shinichi through the upper-floor window he had chosen, Kaito made a mental note to make sure he ate more. His detective was alarmingly light in his arms, and that was already taking into account the fact that the poison that had turned him into Conan to begin with had left the detective's body rather frail. It didn't help that Shinichi had a tendency to overwork himself.

They found Hattori in the second living room on the ground floor, located at the back of the house so that any light wouldn't be visible to anyone passing on the street out front. And he wasn't alone. Seated in a second wooden chair across the worktable from him was an all too familiar blond-haired young man.

So Hakuba was in this rebel group too, huh? Kaito supposed he shouldn't have been surprised that all these law enforcement people had flocked together under this particular flag. But he wasn't sure what that spelled for their chances at a peaceful, reasonable resolution to their problems. As far as he was concerned, good, sound reason wasn't one of Hakuba Saguru's admirable qualities. Actually, Kaito wasn't sure he believed the blonde had any admirable qualities—he was just such a damned nuisance back in their own world, but that wasn't really the point here.

From the shadows where they stood, Kaito couldn't be sure what the papers were that the two detectives were poring over, but that would soon be fixed. Glancing down at Shinichi, he quirked an eyebrow. And together, they moved out into the light to greet their unknowing hosts.

Hakuba spotted them first and his face instantly drained of all color. His hand flew to his belt only to discover that he no longer had his gun.

"That's no way to greet your guests," Kaito scolded, twirling said gun expertly around one finger. "Especially when we're only here to talk."

"Who are you?" the blonde demanded.

"It's you," Hattori said slowly, recognizing Kaito. Turning to the second newcomer, he added, "So then you must be Kudou?"

It still felt strange to use the name again after what had happened.

Shinichi pulled the wig off and scrubbed the makeup from his face on the sleeve of his new jacket.

"Aww, Shin-chan," Kaito complained in mock dismay, "you're wiping off my hard work!"

"What do you mean hard work? It took you like thirty seconds."

"Yes, well, I guess it just means I'll have to do it again before we leave. You're lucky I bring my equipment everywhere." Kaito paused, watching in amusement as Hakuba dropped back into his chair, eyes wide in utter shock as he stared at Shinichi.

"You, but you're—how is this possible?"

"You remember when I said the Pandora spills made some interesting stuff happen?" Hattori asked, not taking his eyes from the newcomers. "This was what I was talking about."

The blond detective opened his mouth, shut it again, and shook his head. He was so going to have a headache after this.

"So what did you come here to talk about?"

"This," Kaito said, holding up the pale brown envelope Kazuha had given them so the two rebels could see it.

Hattori recognized it at once. He'd been wondering about it ever since he'd seen Kazuha hand it over to the newcomers. "So what did he write?" At Hakuba's deepening frown, he added, "It's from Kudou, the one from our world. Apparently, he knew these two were going to show up and left a message for them with Kazuha."

The blonde's mouth formed a silent "oh" and he returned his attention to their visitors.

"To put it simply," Kaito drawled, "he asked us to help you—in a way."

"No offense and all, but what help would you guys be? You're not even from this world."

Shinichi coughed. "I assume that's partly the point. Sometimes, a new perspective can be very important. We're trying to understand all this ourselves. That's why we want to talk."

Hakuba frowned. "But why should we trust you? You might look like Kudou, but we don't really know you."

"We don't have to help you, you know," Kaito said dryly, but stopped when Shinichi elbowed him in the side.

"What he means is that we could say the same about you," Shinichi said quickly. "But we're willing to give you guys a chance, so the least you could do is do the same for us. I'm fairly good friends with both of you where we're from so I really would prefer that you don't get yourselves killed if it can be helped."

Neither of the other detectives had anything to say to this. The sentiment weighed heavily in the tense air for several moments before Hattori sighed and rubbed at his eyes. He looked tired, certainly a lot more tired than he had the last time they had met.

"Sorry, Kudou, you've caught us at a rather bad time. One of our best scientists has gone missing and we're pretty sure she was taken by the Guards. We have to get her back. She's too important, but we're sure they suspect that too so it's not going to be easy."

"How so?" Shinichi asked immediately, joining them at the table. Kaito followed him more reluctantly and remained standing.

Hattori shrugged, dropping gracelessly back into his seat. "She was working on a chemical that'll… counter Pandora."

Shinichi's brow furrowed. "Like cure or neutralize it somehow?"

The expression on both of the rebels' faces was guarded. "Not… exactly. But it'll only affect people who have used Pandora recently—within the last month at the most."

Behind his Poker Face, Kaito frowned, not liking the tone in Hattori's voice. From what he'd seen of this place, these rebels seemed a little too eager for a solution, perhaps even desperate. Magic—though he didn't like calling it that, there wasn't really a better name—couldn't be an easy thing to fight, and he wondered what these people might resort to in order to finally be free of the shadows. Honor and morality didn't always mean much to desperate men.

"In any case," Hakuba said stiffly, "she's one of the only people we've got who understands Pandora and how it works. She's far too valuable to either side so there are bound to be magicians guarding her along with the usual soldiers."

"I've been wondering," Kaito said suddenly, "why not try to enlist some help from these soldiers? Maybe get some of those magicians on your side? This isn't exactly a bright and happy world, is it? There's bound to be some discontent, even among the Guard. Wouldn't that make your lives a hell of a lot easier?"

Shinichi glanced sidelong at his partner. The thief was studying their companions closely for their reactions to this suggestion, and it was instantly obvious that he'd somehow struck a nerve.

"Some of them might be willing to switch sides," Hakuba agreed darkly, "but they can't be trusted. It's not just about what they want. Pandora does something to you when you've used it for awhile."

Hattori considered them for a moment before standing and motioning for them to follow him. "Guess we might as well show you if you're going to be staying in this world for awhile. You need to know what you're getting into."

A foreboding feeling curled in Shinichi's stomach as he rose to his feet. He had a feeling they weren't going to like what the other was about to show them.

He led them through the halls of the old house to a flight of steps leading down, hidden by a cleverly reconstructed section of wood paneling. These steps went down a good ways before leveling out into another, slightly more narrow hallway lined with rooms. Most of the doors were closed, though through the open ones, it looked like it was a combination of sleeping quarters and office space, and maybe even a few makeshift labs.

The dark-skinned young man stopped before a room near the end of the corridor and knocked softly before pulling a key from his pocket to unlock it. The action made Shinichi raise his eyebrows. Whoever or whatever was inside, it clearly wasn't something that could be easily dismissed. Then the door was swinging open and he felt more than saw Kaito stiffen.

"It" turned out to be a young woman with long, sweeping hair that shone a deep, deep crimson in the dim lighting. She was seated at a dressing table beside a neatly made bed, fiddling with what appeared to be a strange set of cards—Tarot cards, perhaps? What really made Shinichi freeze in his tracks however, was the gleam of red in the eyes that she turned towards them.

"Visitors, I see," she laughed, the sound strangely off though the detective couldn't quite put his finger on it. She cocked her head to the side and smiled at them, a sly, creeping smile that made his skin crawl unpleasantly.

Hakuba stepped forward, retrieving the untouched tray of food from the floor beside the door and carefully placing it on the corner of the table. "You should eat something, Koizumi-san."

"They put it in the food, you know," she whispered, loud enough for them to hear as she tapped one long, graceful, too-thin finger on the corner of the tray. "You can't ever get away."

"I assure you that the food is perfectly fine," the blonde said, but his words fell on deaf ears as her attention swung back to the people at the door.

"Four little birdies trying to find their way," she half sang, half taunted. "Or is it three little birdies and one snake?"

Her crimson eyes lingered on Kaito and she giggled, the sound escalating into a full on laugh that sounded at once musical and hysterical.

Glancing back at them, Hattori motioned for them to move away before exchanging a few quiet words with Hakuba and moving to join them. The blonde stayed behind to try and get the woman to eat something and Hattori eased the door shut, leaving the corridor in muffled silence once more.

"She," he jerked a finger back at the closed door, "used to be one of the empire's best Pandora users aside from the Four, but that doesn't save you. It doesn't matter how skilled someone thinks they are with the poison. She joined us with Kazuha, but she'd already been using Pandora for too long. She hardly ever makes any sense anymore. Her mind's as good as lost. That's what that kind of power gets you in the end. It doesn't matter how good your intentions or how much control you think you have."

"So what are your plans then?" Shinichi asked quietly. The strange woman in her prison of a room had left him feeling greatly unsettled. He wondered if Kaito knew her. The magician's reaction to seeing her had been rather strange as well.

Hattori shrugged. "We're still working on that. The good thing is that we're pretty sure we know where she's being held. A small rescue party would probably be better, but security is pretty tight. It's too bad we can't get a hold of KID. Then we could just make a trade with the Four for our scientist. Kill two birds with one stone before he can cause some real damage."

The next thing Hattori knew, Kaito had seized him by the collar of his jacket and pinned him against the corridor wall. Indigo eyes glared into his own green ones, suddenly hard and cold as ice. "Don't you dare even think that."

Green eyes widened in surprise for a moment before narrowing in disgust. "So you're a KID supporter too, are you?"

Kaito's face went completely blank, and he forcibly reminded himself that he shouldn't make this too personal. "Whether or not I support him, from what we've seen, he's one of the only people doing any real good around here. You're fighting the same fight. It would be like treachery. Have you really let them make you so desperate that you'd stoop so low as to sacrifice another person's life for just one small victory?"

"You saw what's happened to her," Hattori said, his voice quiet but venomous as he jerked his head back towards the now closed door to the witch's room: her cell. "And that's what will happen to that damned thief too. No one can completely control Pandora and anyone who believes otherwise is a fool."

Shinichi placed a placating hand on Kaito's arm, and the magician reluctantly let the young man go. Stepping away from him, he moved a few steps down the corridor to put some distance between them and stuffed his hands into his pockets, scowling.

"Let's go back to the living room," Shinichi said, "and take a look at your rescue plans. We've both had some experience with such things. Maybe we can give you some ideas."

That wouldn't involve too many people getting hurt.

.

It was another one to two hours before the two left the rebel base. Kaito reapplied Shinichi's disguise and they made their way back towards the bookshop, taking a different route from the one they had taken to get there.

"He shouldn't have said what he said," Shinichi spoke up quietly when they were a good distance away.

Kaito didn't respond right away but his indigo eyes were still cold with anger. Instead, he materialized a piece of paper with a snap of his fingers and handed it to Shinichi.

"Where did you—?"

"Swiped it from the lab they had down the hall from Akako's room when I went to use the restroom."

"Akako?"

"Koizumi Akako. Ironically, she's a witch in our world too. She was a high school classmate of mine."

"So you knew her well?"

"We've had a... rocky acquaintanceship. Guess you could say that I was the only boy in my school who wasn't in love with her. She tried to kill me a couple times, and saved my life a couple times. Never really did get along though."

Shinichi frowned at that and opened his mouth to ask more questions, but Kaito silenced him with a shake of his head. "Not now. I don't feel like thinking about Akako right now. All that's in the past anyway."

The detective hesitated, but let the matter drop. Kaito was right. All that was in the past now, and it wasn't like they didn't both have rather colorful histories.

Glancing over the file, Shinichi felt his stomach drop. He almost stopped walking, but Kaito put a hand on the small of his back and kept him moving forward. This... This was what their scientists had been working on. "Have you seen this already?"

Kaito nodded curtly. "They're planning to kill them all, anyone who's been in contact with Pandora within a recent time frame—wipe out all the magic users."

Shinichi shut his eyes and took a deep breath, struggling to push back the bile that rose in his throat at the realization. No wonder his counterpart had been worried. He couldn't imagine that any version of him would condone such a plan. There was just no way they could let that happen. It just wasn't the right thing to do. No reason could justify that kind of slaughter.

"Much as I hate to admit it, the bastards do have one point though," Kaito said grimly. "I think it's Pandora that's mucked up everything in this world. It's what gave the Four Emperors the power that got them where they are. It might even have really driven them all mad. If we could get rid of all of it, make sure no one could get access to any more of it, people should be able to rebuild their lives and get this world back on track. Empires rise and then they fall. That's always been the way of things."

Shinichi nodded. "So then I guess the question is, how do we destroy Pandora? It's not just a single gemstone in this world so it won't be as easy as just finding and getting rid of one thing."

"I know, and that's where I think the Counter Guard has got it all wrong. If they think they can just discount magic altogether and lump it all in with the enemy, they've got another thing coming." The magician smiled darkly, tilting the brim of the hat he was wearing to obscure the fierce expression in shadow. "Looks like we're going to have to understand Pandora better before we can do anything else."

Tucking the research file under his jacket as they turned onto the street where Takagi's bookstore was located, Shinichi sighed. "That's not going to be easy, but I think I might know where we can start. Good thing our hosts own a bookstore. We've got a lot of reading to do."

And a novelist in hiding to find.


TBC...


AN: On a side note, Alaena F.D. and I planned another music video, and Alaena put it together and up online earlier this week. It can be found on our KaitoxShinichi fan site Phantom Destinies. The link to the website can be found on my profile.

Have a great week.

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