Summary: It all started when the strange side effects of yet another failed cure leave Shinichi in the care of an unusual magician.
Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan/Case Closed.
Pairing(s): Kaito x Shinichi
WARNINGS: Shounan ai (boy/boy pairing), you have been warned
AN: I originally didn't want to put up any other stories until I finished "With Each Season", but I've been drawing a total blank on the events of the last chapter for that story, so I've decided that it'll just have to wait. This one might be a little weird, but I hope you enjoy it:)
House of Cards
By V. Shalyr
Shinichi groaned, struggling to open his eyes. What happened? Everything felt off, but his mind was spinning and it was so hard to focus enough to fit together all the fuzzy fragments of memory. Every part of him ached and there was a dull throbbing in his shoulder.
He had been at a KID heist. He'd been looking forward to that heist, if he was honest with himself. More than two years as Conan had rather worn down his enthusiasm for murder cases. He still found some satisfaction from placing the killers behind bars, but more than anything the cases left him feeling a little down. People almost never died at KID heists and that was more than enough to draw him there, not to mention the lure of the thief's puzzles and tricks.
He would have been quite excited if it weren't for one thing.
Shinichi had been attending the heist as a dove.
Haibara had given him another test cure, and it had worked for two whole days—two whole days where he'd finally allowed himself to become properly excited—until something completely strange had happened. And it had happened just moments after he arrived at the museum. Shocked had been a complete understatement. Never in his wildest nightmares would he have imagined that a human being could be turned into a small, white bird because of a medical accident. Then again, before Conan, he would never have imagined that a mere pill could turn a sixteen year old boy into a six year old child.
Apparently, the world really was full of surprises.
But what had happened after that? He recalled struggling to extricate himself from his suddenly way too large clothes then struggling even harder to drag his clothes somewhere out of sight so no one would freak out thinking he was running naked through the streets. He could have flown home after that, but Shinichi had been tired of letting the poison and its experimental antidotes rule his life. So maybe it was a completely pointless, stubborn act of rebellion. But he'd planned on attending the KID heist, damn it! And so attend it he would, as a dove or not. He was not going to admit that he was sulking. It wasn't like it could cause any more harm, right?
It was almost amazing how he could be right about so many things at a murder scene and yet wrong about so many other things the moment a crime was not involved.
Obviously, he couldn't join the chase for KID as a bird, but it did give him an unparalleled view of the goings on. Maybe that was why he saw the sniper.
Ah, that must be why everything hurt. He had been shot at, and hit too. The glancing blow had sent him crashing from the skies to a bruising landing on the cold concrete. He didn't remember much after that, just being picked up by a gentle pair of hands and the murmur of a concerned voice.
At least he could be almost positive that he hadn't been taken by the gunman.
/ Is he awake? /
/ I think so. /
/ I'll go get Master. /
Shinichi frowned. Well, that was a weird conversation. Forcing his eyes open, he blinked a couple times then stared. He was surrounded by a circle of white birds. The doves stared back at him with what he assumed was probably curiosity. Hold on, so the voices he had heard...
/ Greetings! / the bird directly before him cooed enthusiastically. / Are you feeling better? /
Kaito had been in the kitchen making hot chocolate when one of his doves landed on the counter beside his hand. He'd been having a rather bad day up to that point. Meetings with his would-be assassins never put him in a good mood, Hakuba was always even more of a nuisance than usual on days following a heist, Aoko was upset because her father had apparently missed out on their family dinner—also because of the heist, and then there was the matter of the strange dove.
Kaito was almost sure it had been trying to save his life.
"Ah, is our guest finally awake?"
He had done the bulk of the cleaning for the dove's injuries while it was unconscious, but you could never be too careful, especially with birds. Hopefully, he wouldn't have to remove any feathers to ensure the wounds healed cleanly.
The dove cooed, bobbing its head up and down in its own version of a nod. Kaito did love how intelligent all his birds were.
"Let's go see how he is then."
Finishing up his steaming mug of hot chocolate, Kaito retrieved a tray of medical supplies he'd deemed might be necessary and walked towards his room, the dove fluttering ahead of him.
Shinichi was having trouble wrapping his mind around the situation. It now occurred to him that maybe it had been more of a shock to be turned into a bird than he'd at first thought. He'd simply pushed the shock away temporarily in favor of more normal things, like being annoyed about not being able to properly attend the KID heist. Since when had KID heists become "normal" in his life? But no, that wasn't the important thing here. The important thing was that he was surrounded by birds, and they were talking to him—and he understood them.
When he didn't reply right away to its inquiry, the doves turned their heads to look at one another as though concerned.
/ Do you think he understands us? You know how most other doves don't. /
/ I know, but I think he looks pretty bright. /
/ Well, I think he's in shock. /
/ What should we do? /
/ Let's just wait for Master to get here. Master will know what to do. /
Shinichi might have felt a bit indignant about their comments on his intelligence if he weren't so busy feeling relieved that they had backed off to give him some space. Space, at the moment, felt extremely important. Being injured suddenly seemed like the least of his problems. If he'd felt helpless as a child before, he felt even worse as a dove. And he was stuck here in someone's house!
Before Shinichi could properly start to panic however, he caught the sound of footsteps. All the other doves turned expectantly. Copying their motion, he looked to the door only to find himself looking at a young man who could have passed for his twin brother—if he was still human, that is, and his proper age. The newcomer looked like he might have been a year or so older than him. His features were a little sharper, his hair a whole lot messier and brown instead of black, but all those things were small differences that other people could easily overlook. The biggest difference between the two of them was in the way they held themselves. While Shinichi tended to give off an air of calm surety, this young man practically radiated with a calculating, energetic and restless confidence that reminded the detective of someone he couldn't quite put his finger on.
Hold on a second. Shinichi had been at a KID heist, he was surrounded by doves right now, and he knew that KID could disguise himself as the Detective of the East without a mask... The pieces all clicked together in his head and Shinichi stared.
Was this... KID?
"Let's have a look at you," the thief murmured, taking a seat in front of the desk.
Mind still whirling at the suddenness of this revelation, Shinichi automatically tried to scramble away from him, half hopping and half flapping his wings despite the pain that shot through him at the movement. He didn't get very far though as large hands deftly caught him. The man was obviously very familiar with working with birds.
"Now, now, none of that. You're going to hurt yourself even more that way."
Shinichi stared anxiously up at him. The thief just smiled, his fingers moving over him in a firm, gentle caress that he found himself relaxing into despite himself. When the man was sure the bird wasn't going to start struggling again, he carefully spread Shinichi's wings to examine the extent of his injuries. The face above him darkened at the sight of the damage, and Shinichi wondered just how bad it was. Birds were a lot smaller than human beings. It stood to reason that a bullet wound, even a glancing one like this, would be worse for a dove than a person.
"That bastard," the man muttered, reaching for the tray of medical supplies he had prepared beforehand. "And you're not even one of mine."
Shinichi blinked up at him. If he'd had doubts that this was KID before, he didn't now. But did that mean that the thief knew that sniper? Had that been a regular occurrence at KID heists and Shinichi just hadn't known? These questions and others gave him something to distract himself with while the thief tended and patched up the numerous cuts and scrapes.
"Well, it seems you're going to be just fine, though you won't be flying much for awhile," KID told him, sounding both glad and sympathetic. "I hope you don't mind staying here. At least you won't be lonely. Who knows? Maybe you'll like it here."
Replacing the medical supplies and moving them aside, the thief carefully picked the dove back up and lifted him so that they were more or less at eye level.
His eyes, Shinichi noticed, were a very unusual shade of indigo, and they were watching him so intently that he found himself shifting self consciously in the thief's grasp.
"Were you trying to help me back there?"
The thief's intense gaze didn't waver and Shinichi wondered if he was actually expecting an answer. Several seconds dragged by in silence then KID grinned.
"You kind of remind me of someone," he mused aloud, using two fingers to pet the top of Shinichi's head. He chuckled to himself. "Why don't we call you Shin-chan?"
Shinichi had never liked that nickname and he would have glared at the thief except that the name had caught him by surprise. Had the thief been thinking about him?
"So where's the brat?"
Ran blinked, pausing with her hand still on the agency door at Sonoko's question. It took her a moment to realize who her friend was referring to. "Oh, you mean Conan? It's almost Christmas and he's spending the holidays with his parents."
"So they're back in town, huh?"
"I guess so, but I think they were considering a family vacation overseas."
"I wish we could go overseas for the holidays," Sonoko sighed, folding her arms across her chest as she waited for Ran to finish locking up the apartment. "But my father wants to throw a party at that new hotel he's sponsoring and I'm expected to be there. Say, why don't you come with me? You can bring your father too. I'm sure he'd be ecstatic."
Ran smiled weakly at that. "I'm sure he would."
Really though, she had other things she really wanted this Christmas—namely, for both her parents to spend it together with her. The trick was how to get them to agree to it. She rather thought that she had a better chance of tricking them into it, but her mother wasn't nearly that easy to fool.
"So where is that no good husband of yours anyway?" Sonoko added, glancing sidelong at her then at the manor they were passing. The same manor that their missing friend had been living in alone since he was fourteen.
"He's not my husband," Ran sighed, exasperated. She was really getting tired of explaining this to her. "He's not even my boyfriend. And I don't know. He called to say he might be dropping by for the holidays, but I haven't heard anything else since."
"You don't sound as upset as I thought you'd be," Sonoko observed.
Ran shrugged. Now that she mentioned it, she didn't really feel that upset about it. There was disappointment there, but it was the normal kind of disappointment that you got when someone you considered a good friend couldn't pay a visit because of one reason or another. Maybe it had just been too long, and somewhere along the way, she'd decided that she couldn't keep on waiting for him this way. It was no way to live. If he did come back and they talked and they both still felt that connection she'd thought they had, then maybe they could pursue something more. But until that happened, she wasn't going to hold her breath hoping. It wasn't worth it.
"I just don't understand you sometimes," Sonoko huffed then grinned, slinging an arm through hers. "I bet there'll be tons of hot guys at Dad's party. All sorts of celebrities will be attending."
From the window of Doctor Agasa's house, Ai watched the two girls pass the Kudou manor and continue down the street. The child frowned, her brow knitting in a serious expression of concern that didn't seem to quite fit onto such a young face.
Her cell phone rang and she answered it at once. "So?"
"What? Not even a thank you for coming all this way to help?" the familiar voice of the high school detective Hattori Heiji came through the receiver. Or she supposed it would be the college detective soon. He'd be graduating high school this year.
"Just get to the point. This is urgent."
"Right, sorry. I'm not sure how to say this," Hattori said slowly, "but the only things I managed to find were his clothes."
The little girl's frown deepened. Well, if Shinichi had shrunk again, it would explain the clothes. However, it wouldn't explain why he'd simply left them lying around. She drummed her fingers on the windowsill for a moment before making her way back through the house towards her laboratory. "Bring them to me."
Whatever had happened to Kudou Shinichi, she had a responsibility to find out and fix it. After all, she still held herself partly responsible for the mess he was in, having been the one to create the poison that had turned him into Conan in the first place. It didn't matter how often he told her that it wasn't her fault. She was a scientist and that meant she would take responsibility for the things that she created, and maybe it was a matter of pride too.
The call ended and Hattori pulled the phone away from his ear to stare at it. It still felt weird after all this time to be ordered around by a girl less than half his age, but she had this way of speaking that sounded so sure of herself that even adults who didn't know who she had been tended to find themselves doing what she told them to.
"What have you gotten yourself into now?" he sighed, retrieving the discarded clothes and stuffing them into a bag he'd procured from a nearby store. At least there weren't any traces of blood on or around them. That was usually a good sign.
He jerked upright at the cry only to be smacked upside the head by the girl it belonged to.
"Ow!" he complained, rubbing the sore spot. "What was that for?"
Kazuha's long ponytail swung as she put her hands on her hips. "I can't believe you! Do you know how long I've been looking for you? We were at the station and then you were just gone. What if something had happened to you? Knowing you, it would have been something terrible and I wouldn't even have known where to start looking. You could have called."
"You didn't have to come, you know," he grumbled. "And I can take care of myself."
She looked away. "I know, but it's the holidays. I wanted us to spend them together. If I hadn't come, who knows how long it would have taken for you to come home?"
Green eyes softened and Hattori moved to wrap his free arm about her shoulders. He couldn't really blame her for worrying. There just seemed to be something about being a genius, high school detective that meant you always got into more than your fair of trouble, usually involving dead bodies and murderers. "Well, we're here together now, right? Just let me drop this off at the professor's and we can have a look around. I have a whole list of restaurants I wanted to try."
"It's always about food with you when we visit a place," Kazuha sighed, but she was smiling. Food was better than corpses any day. Sure, she loved how happy he was when he solved a case. But it was almost Christmas. The holidays weren't a time that she wanted to think about people taking other people's lives for stupid reasons—or even halfway decent reasons. The holidays were supposed to be a time of forgiveness, of sharing and spending time with the people that you loved. And for once, Kazuha just wished that they could have a normal winter break.
"So does that mean we'll be staying for awhile?"
"Yeah." Hattori turned his head away so she wouldn't see the worry that flashed across his face. "Yeah, I think we will."
It was hard for Shinichi to pinpoint exactly when his relationship with the infamous and much beloved Phantom Thief had changed. They had always had a strange sort of rival-ally dynamic, which Hattori had once remarked upon being a little peculiar in itself. But overtime, something about it had shifted. He hadn't really noticed until KID himself had pointed it out after one particular heist...
"Is there something wrong, Tantei-kun?"
Shinichi blinked, looking over at the thief from where he had been sitting in the shadows a little ways from the door that led up onto the roof. "Not really. Why?"
"Well," the thief drawled, turning to face him, the moonlight glinting off his monocle and making his grin seem even more lopsided than usual, "you haven't really been trying to catch me lately. Growing fond of me, Tantei-kun?"
The half question, half statement made the detective stutter. "Of—of course not! Who said I wasn't trying?"
KID made a great show of considering this. "Let me see. You did join the chase downstairs and you're here now on my escape route, but you're not even on your feet."
"I just don't see the point of exerting myself when you're just going to give the jewel back anyway."
"Ah, of course, that must be it."
Shinichi—or rather Conan at the time—was sure that the thief was laughing at him behind that smirk.
"Why do you steal gems?" the detective asked instead, wanting to steer the conversation elsewhere and seizing on the questions he'd been contemplating for some time now off and on. "What are you looking for?"
...Shinichi didn't remember the thief's answer, something vague and puzzling. It didn't really matter since he hadn't really expected a straightforward reply. This was KID after all. But the entire conversation had gotten him thinking.
What exactly did the thief mean to him? If he was honest with himself, Shinichi had to admit that he no longer really cared for the idea of putting the enigmatic magician behind bars. That didn't mean he didn't still want to know who he was, or that he wasn't curious about the magician's mysteries. But he no longer cared so much if he was the one who figured them out. If anything, he found a tiny part of him that seemed less confused than the rest that hoped the thief would just tell him someday.
That was when it hit him what was different.
Somewhere along the line, he'd started to think of the thief as a friend.
KID knew all his secrets. Shinchi had nothing to hide from him. He could be himself—not Kudou Shinichi, the famous detective, or Edogawa Conan, the startlingly bright child and shadow of Detective Mouri Kogoro. And on top of that, KID was a master thief so he didn't have to worry about the thief accidentally letting his secrets slip where the wrong people could hear them. After living as Conan for two years, Shinichi couldn't even begin to say how much of a relief that really was, and how much of a gift.
In light of all that plus this recent development, Shinichi was having a hard time figuring out what he should do. He'd been fed and watered, courtesy of his new caretaker, and now sat huddled on his desk, trying to put some distance between himself and the magician's other curious birds. One of them in particular just kept staring at him and it was making him uncomfortable. What had KID gone to do that was taking him so long?
/ What? / he finally snapped, feeling a bit defensive.
This seemed to shock all the doves for a moment before the first one who had spoken to him—at least he thought it was the first one, it sounded kind of the same—piped up in astonishment.
/ So you do understand us! My name is Aka. It's a pleasure to meet you, Shin-chan. /
/ That's not... / Shinichi started then trailed off. Well, he couldn't exactly say that it wasn't his name. His mother still called him that more often than not.
/ You mean you had another name before Master named you? / Aka asked, surprised. / Did you used to live with another human? /
/ You... could say that. / This was just getting weirder and weirder.
/ Hey, I want to ask a question too! /
/ Me first! Me first! /
/ That's not fair, Zam. Why do you always get to go first? /
/ Because I'm the youngest. /
/ Then you should be going last. /
Shinichi tried to draw in on himself as the doves crowded around him, their feathery bodies pressing in from all sides as they argued in increasingly loud voices. Claustrophobia was starting to kick in with a vengeance and he tried to flap his wings in an attempt to clear some space for himself, only for the pain to halt him mid motion.
"Hey, hey, watch it there, all of you."
At the reprimand from the door, the doves stopped squabbling and Shinichi sighed in relief as the hands from before plucked him out from amidst the flock.
Cradling Shinichi to him, the thief glared. "Don't crowd him. Can't you tell you're all making him nervous?"
The doves looked suitably ashamed, and Shinichi wondered again at just how much they apparently understood of human speech. Or maybe it was just the tone of KID's voice.
Muttering something under his breath, KID carried him back out of the room and set him down on a couch cushion he relocated to the sitting room table. It looked like the magician had been going through his school books. Shinichi couldn't help feeling a bit guilty as he glanced over them. It felt like he was intruding on the thief's civilian life without permission, even if it wasn't by choice. Though maybe it wasn't so wrong of him, since he'd already decided that he wouldn't act on anything that he learned?
"You're pretty unusual, aren't you?" KID murmured, taking a seat at the table and reaching for a textbook without looking away from Shinichi. "Most doves like the company of other doves."
Shinichi shuddered. He'd never much liked being surrounded by so many people at the best of times. The paranoia he'd picked up from his time as Conan hadn't helped matters.
The thief chuckled at his response. "Ah well, that just means you get to keep me company. A bit strange though, that you're more comfortable with a human than with other birds."
Not being able to speak, Shinichi decided, was more than a bit of a pain. Instead, he tilted his head to one side and tried to look confused.
This earned him another amused look before the thief settled down to finish what Shinichi guessed was his homework.
Shinichi shifted around a bit to get more comfortable and sighed tiredly. Well, he might as well take this opportunity to learn more about his rival turned sort-of friend. It wasn't like he had a choice anyway. He was hurt and he agreed with KID that trying to fly back home probably wasn't the smartest idea.
And maybe eventually, he could figure out a way to let the thief know who he was.