Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ The Gathering Storm ( Chapter 22 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter Twenty-two
The Gathering Storm
Ravens. So many circling that there was nothing but black. Gathering thickly, circling ever closer…
Then they struck, and the white dove screamed as it fell…
Akako jerked awake, sweat beading her forehead as the dream remained in her mind, crystal clear. Witches’ dreams never faded. Instantly, her servant appeared.
“Prepare a summoning circle,” she snapped, pulling her brief dressing gown over her even briefer nightdress.
“Right away, Akako-sama,” he said, bowing and vanishing. She stalked down the stairs, into the basement, where the circle was already drawn and incense prepared. She never wondered how he always did what she asked of him so fast. He was a youkai. It was what he was meant to do, very literally what he was for. For a witch, her youkai- or army of youkai, some summoned many, although Akako had never bothered, as she preferred solitude- was a loyal and vital servant.
But should a single tear fall, it would instantly become her gaoler.
She swiftly donned the black cloak that was, if not strictly necessary for the ceremony, did look good. With a snap of her fingers, the incense began to smoulder, scented smoke rising and, rather than dispelling, followed the tracks drawn on the pattern on the ground towards the centre of the circle. There, at her command, they merged into one huge, pulsating cloud. She continued the summoning chant and the dark cloud thickened. Not stopping or slowing in her chanting, she stretched out both arms and drew her left hand up, then slashed it down, her sharp fingernails cutting into her right wrist. A little blood dribbled down, the tiny red orbs floating towards the cloud, which instantly turned a matching red. She waved her left hand again, and her right arm healed without a mark. As a witch, she never injured, never sickened, never aged. Her reward was perfect, eternal beauty- its price the white scars that were almost invisible on her alabaster wrists, the only scars she would ever have, the scars that she would always have.
The cloud was changing shape now, developing into a face, indistinct but discernable forms of a mouth and fiery eyes forming. Akako looked Lucifer straight in the eye and made her demands.
“What has become of Kuroba Kaito?” she demanded. “I dreamed of a dove hunted by ravens. So who are the ravens, and what has become of the Kaitou Kid?”
The Kaitou Kid shall not meet his end until the full moon shines on the red tower, Lucifer repeated. The dove shall continue to fly until that day, even if he does so alone and with blood pouring from his beak.
So he lives,” Akako thought with involuntary relief, “But has been hurt…
The ravens have already struck down a dove, Lucifer continued, and will hunt until they have destroyed the nest and taken their blood jewel. But as they circle the white thief, so too do they hunt the black knight- and the ravens cannot defeat a united coin.
“Who are the ravens?” Akako insisted.
Those who crave the shadows, who strive to defy my reach for which they are destined.
The smoke faded; Lucifer had clearly said all that he intended to say. Frustrated with dark creatures and their general tendency to be enigmatic, Akako stalked back up the stairs, out of the cellar and into her dark foyer. All of the windows were covered with heavy curtains, blocking out the pure new light of the sunrise. She snapped her fingers and the servant instantly appeared with a pot of fresh tea, which he poured for her before withdrawing.
It seems that Kuroba has made some dangerous enemies,” she mused as she drank. “And perhaps it is they and not I who are fated to end him at the red tower… yet I wonder if their fate with him is changeable. A “United coin”… opposites of a single entity… perhaps He means that the “Black Knight” is destined to be an ally of the “White Thief”… opposites, certainly… thus, someone who is Kuroba’s opposite, yet shares his fate. Mmmmm…
“Akako-sama,” the servant said, returning without her summons, something he only did if something of great importance had happened. “I was examining radio waves for news of the Kaitou Kid, and it seems that Kuroba Kaito and his mother were in a traffic accident.”
“It was no accident,” Akako said, sipping her tea as she forced herself to remain composed. “This was the ravens’ strike of which I dreamed. So he is hurt?”
“Hospitalized but alive at the Haido Central, Akako-sama,” he replied.
“And his mother?” Akako could not help but ask.
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“Otou-san!” Aoko gasped as her father strode down the hospital corridor towards her. “Can we see them?”
“They’re not supposed to be letting anyone but family in yet,” Ginzo replied, “but they assumed I was with the police investigation into the accident and I never bothered to correct them. They’re both alive, I was told, and while Kaito-kun doesn’t have any serious permanent injuries, Minami-san’s another story. She hasn’t woken up since the accident, and they think she may have slipped into a recuperation coma- she’ll sleep until she heals, which I’m given to understand won’t be any time soon.”
“Oh, no,” Aoko whimpered, covering her mouth with her hands as her eyes heated with tears.
“It’s all right; she could very easily have been lying in a casket now instead of a hospital bed.”
They both stopped in surprise as the young female officer addressed them. She was just leaving the room where Kaito and Minami were, along with a male officer and a woman in a traffic warden’s uniform.
“Wait, you’re Sato and Takagi, right?” Nakamori asked the two officers. “I thought you were assigned to violent crimes primarily in the Beika area.” The traffic warden nodded.
“I’m Yumi, since you didn’t ask,” she said, “and we’re assigned to these street racers thanks to Miwako’s own… unorthodox driving.”
“Hey, they needed someone who can actually keep up with these guys,” Sato said, “although they’re both claiming innocent, as it happens. The bosses of Red Comet and Black Star both have solid alibis for the time of the accident, and although they admit that they can’t vouch that their gangs wouldn’t get into a street race without them, they did say that they’d banned battles happening anywhere except the docks, so this kind of thing doesn’t happen and draw the attention of the police. If they find that one of their gang members has been involved, they swore to report it, but we’ve got nothing so far.”
“They probably won’t find anything,” Takagi said. “If they were battling, one of them would have been in a red car, right?”
“Kaito-kun said that both cars were black?” Ginzo asked. All three nodded.
“He was backed up by four witnesses,” Takagi said, opening his notebook. “There was a backstreet Mahjongg club on that street, and four friends were coming out just as the accident happened. Neither Kuroba-san nor any of them saw the drivers’ faces, however. The first car missed them by inches and kept going until it was out of sight. The second car came straight at them. According to the witnesses, Minami-san pushed her son out of the car’s path and jumped.”
“J-jumped?” Aoko asked. Sato nodded.
“Smart move,” she commented. “It means she was knocked over the car instead of being dragged under it, which saved her more grievous injuries and may well have saved her life. That’s what I meant when I said it could have been worse.”
“Oh, Kami,” Aoko muttered, pushing past the officers and into the hospital room, leaving her father to the officers’ questions.
There were only two beds. Kaito was lying in the one nearer to the door, right wrist thickly bandaged and in a sling, a white bandage wrapped around his forehead before disappearing into his mass of shaggy hair. He was awake, but was facing away from the door, watching his mother. Aoko couldn’t help a strangled sob at the state of her, barely any skin visible beneath bandages and thick casts. Kaito looked over in surprise, evidently only just noticing her presence.
“Aoko?” he said in surprise. “Hey, I thought they weren’t letting anyone except family in yet. Jii-chan only got in by pretending I was his grandson.”
“Otou-san managed to pass himself off as being with the police investigation,” Aoko sniffed. “Kami, Kaito… are you all right?”
“Aww, I’ll be fine,” he said dismissively, waving his left hand. “You can’t kill me if you try… you should know that,” he added, flashing what was only a thin shadow of his normal cheeky grin. “But… Kaa-san…”
He turned away, no longer able to look her in the eye as his voice broke, unwilling to let her see as he tried to reassemble his crumbling and broken Poker Face against the constant onslaught of tears of grief and fear. The sight was not new to Aoko, and it broke her heart to see it again.
“He’s still in his room, Aoko-chan,Kuroba Minami said, her voice hoarse from the tears that seemed to have fallen non-stop for the past week. “He eats, a little, but he won’t talk to me or Jii-san… I wonder if he’ll open up to you.”
“I just wanna see if he’s all right,” Aoko said, heading for the stairs. She paused and looked back at Minami, sitting alone at the kitchen table with only a cup of tea from which she occasionally sipped. “Minami-obachan… are… are you all right?”
Minami forced a wan smile. “I… I’ll be fine, Aoko-chan,” she said reassuringly. “Thank you for your concern, but… Kaito is the one who needs it.” Aoko nodded and climbed the stairs.
Kaito was sitting alone on his bed, surrounded by a flock of Kuroba Toichi’s doves. They fluttered back and forth, cooing and pecking gently at him, but he remained curled up in a little ball, his head buried in his knees.
“K… Kaito-kun?” she said tentatively. He didn’t respond. She moved closer, calling to him again, but again he didn’t respond. She climbed up onto the tall Western bed next to him, almost sobbing as she called to him. As her voice broke with tears, he finally looked up, an ostensibly happy smile on his face as he told her not to cry.
It was the same smile now. It was weak, fake, something to force down his own pain in order to prevent someone else’s. But…
As Aoko sat down on the chair beside the bed, she reached out and gently placed a hand on his shoulder, saying the same words she had back then.
“It’s all right, Kaito-kun,” she said, adding the “kun” out of simple nostalgia. “You don’t have to pretend that you’re just fine. It’s okay to let yourself be sad… it’s okay to cry. You don’t have to hide in front of me. That’s… what best friends are for, right?” her voice trembled as she forced her own little smile, a mirror of the one that fell away from his face as tears finally welled up.
“I thought she was gonna die too…” he whispered. And then, just as he had ten years ago, he leaned into her embrace and, just for twice, let the Poker Face fall away as he cried.
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“So they will both, in all likelihood, live,” Akako summarized, careful not to show the involuntary stirrings of relief. Even so, the youkai servant, so annoyingly in tune with her emotions, sensed her feelings.
“Surely you are not pleased, Akako-sama?”he responded with a rare seriousness- his kind were not prone to much beyond subservience and malignant glee. “The death of the Kaitou Kid is in your interests, after all.”
“That will be enough,” she snapped, mind spinning with the search for a pretext to send the old toad away. Then she remembered something.
“If you can, go uncover who was the one in the helicopter at the Clock Tower heist,” she demanded. “The one who nearly cornered Kid.”
“Yes, Akako-sama,” the servant replied, before bowing and leaving. Akako returned to her uncooling tea.
Yes,” she mused, “With the police, so certainly a knight of justice, the opposite of the Kaitou Kid… and yet, his aura was so like Kuroba’s… so powerful, so aggressive, so purposeful… like a lightningrod, the dark powers that it so despises inadvertently drawn to it… yes, this could certainly be our “Black Knight”. As for Kuroba…
She couldn’t help the surges of relief at the news that, not only had Kuroba survived, but so had his mother. For all his light-hearted silliness as Kuroba Kaito and his unshakeable confidence as the Kaitou Kid, she could tell that, behind the Poker Face, his father’s death and the Raven’s persecution had left him a glass dove. Beautiful, but so much more fragile than many would realise, filled with invisible hairline cracks and scars, only too easy to shatter. To lose someone else that he cared about to those shadows… it wouldn’t kill him physically, but the damage to his soul would be no doubt irreparable.
His death would be in the best interests of my magic, yes,” she mentally acceded, “But I am still, to an extent, human… and I’m just far enough away to know that humans never know what’s best for them.
Kaito… people like him were rare, different, and people couldn’t help but be drawn to them. For all the dark power that flowed through her, Akako couldn’t bring herself to long for the destruction of something like that. After all, she knew all too well, didn’t she, just how far pain could break and twist people? How far it could put them beyond recognition or salvation?
Unconsciously, she closed her left hand around the almost invisible scars on her right wrist.
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Saguru sifted through almost endless files, a talent for speed-reading and a photographic memory allowing him to cover nearly a hundred cases in the few hours that he’d worked that morning, ever since he’d confirmed the news reports with Nakamori-keibu. Kuroba would probably out soon, as his injuries weren’t serious, but his mother would be doing an Egyptian mummy impression for some time. The final tally was a snapped right leg and badly crushed right shoulder and arm, as well as some head trauma and a number of broken ribs. Her left side, having not been the focus for the impact with the car or the ground, sported only a dislocated elbow and a badly sprained ankle, aside from the entire surface area of her skin having been transformed into one giant bruise and scrape. Still, she was clearly a smart woman- jumping had saved her from being dragged under the car, which as it hadn’t braked would likely have torn a limb or two off, in addition to significantly more serious head injuries and probably fatal internal injuries. And that bugged Saguru. Not that she was alive- Kami, no, however much he disliked Kuroba, watching his mother disembowelled by a car was not something he would wish on anyone, not even Professor Moriarty- but the thing that worried him was that neither car had braked, according to Kaito and the four witnesses.
Even if they were terrified when they realized that they had hit someone and fled,” he thought, adding some notes to his notebook, “Surely, the second that they saw that they were bearing down on somebody, they would have braked or at least slowed or turned, race notwithstanding. Which implies that it was no accident. That’s another point, come to that. Two street racers, even if they were racing without their bosses’ permission, would never race in cars of the same colour, but both cars were consistently reported to be black. All of which points to a hit that someone planned to direct blame towards the turf war between the Red Comets and Black Stars. The only reason that no-one’s realized this is that I’m the only one to suspect that Kuroba actually has something that is likely to make him a target of the more unsavoury elements of the criminal underworld.
He scanned his eye down the list of cases that he had amassed to look over again- there really were a staggering number of people who had, for one reason or another, tried to kill the Kaitou Kid. He marked an early and particularly strange incident, where an imposter Kid had attacked a number of police officers and used some very advanced robotics to steal a diamond. No-one had ever been entirely certain what had happened there, or how it had ended; there had been a mysterious explosion on the top level of an office building that was under construction, and all that had been left at the scene had been some shattered and scorched fragments of machinery and the stolen diamond, with a note from Kid attached to it, proclaiming innocence. The whole thing had been sufficiently weird even by Kid’s standards to make the case still something of a subject for discussion and speculation among the special unit.
Almost equally weird and even closer to fatal for Kid had been the heist with Nightmare, but Saguru preferred not to think about that, and neither did most of the high-ups at Interpol. He’d told them that Jack Connery had died fighting Nightmare, and they’d officially left that case open, but there still lingered the unpleasant common deduction of the truth left unsaid. He had felt genuinely sorrowful for Kaito on that case. He had seen hundreds of dead bodies, of course, but he had been lucky enough, at least, to never witness an actual death, and he couldn’t imagine how horrible it had to be, not only to see someone die in front of you, but to see them die after slipping from your grasp.
He shook that particular Nightmare aside and flicked through the list of further Kid assailants. He didn’t know much about what had happened at the Chat Noir heist, having been in Paris at the time, but he gathered that the entire incident had been non-violent beyond some damage to Nakamori-keibu’s favourite tie, and in any case Chat Noir had vanished immediately afterwards- unsurprising as they had all seven cat’s eyes at that point. No, Chat Noir was unlikely.
The perpetrators behind the debacle at Mystery Land (which, thanks to Kid, most people assumed he was more familiar with than he actually was) were all still behind bars, as was Scorpion. It was possible that they’d hired associates, but Scorpion had distinguished herself by insisting on working independently and as for the rest- if they had any means left to see Kid dead, they would have struck long ago. Besides, having already been arrested, they had no real motive for killing Kid aside from petty revenge, and even then Hattori and Conan-kun would be higher priority targets.
He turned to his last, most promising lead: the testimony of Jody Hopper.
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I think I got the physics for Minami-san’s accident right. I think get thrown up and rolling over the car should cause less damage than getting dragged and crushed underneath, but I could be wrong. I failed physics.
Yeah, in case you hadn’t already noticed, the more Kaito is in this fic, the thicker the Magic Kaito references are going to get. If you haven’t read the manga yet, every Magic Kaito chapter in existence is available to read free online at O/n/e/m/a/n/g/a. There’s no obligation to read it, but you’ll get a lot more out of this fic if you do.
Come to that, who was it that was asking about character birthdays? *can’t be bothered to go through old A/Ns* I was rereading all of Magic Kaito for references and Hakuba mentions that his birthday is August 29th. So there’s a date for Hakuba fans. ^_^
Minami isn’t dying at present, digifreak51794, but she ain’t in great shape… I feel so bad for Kaito… (then why did you write it?)
Shinichi wants to speak to Kaito, FaithlessGirl, but it might not be that easy…
That scene made me cry to write, AngelRoy. But I really wanted to write it. And you’re right- the trouble’s only just beginning…
Wow, I made everyone cry with that chapter, didn’t I, Lifawn? Including me… T_T
Kaito hasn’t been KIDnapped (:P), Mel7200, but he’s not in great shape, physically or emotionally…
I’ve got some great reactions with that chapter, Flippant Wisdom 😛 But yeah, I was worried as hell when I started writing this section too, because I hadn’t decided whether she’d die or not. As you can see, I let her live *muhaha*. This is where plot starts moving (it took you 21 chapters?!) so I’m planning for evil cliffies abound… *hohoho*
As you can see, Silver Shadowbreeze, they’re both going to live… which is rather kinder than my first draft ^_^; But Kaito’s PISSED now…
Pretztailfan95… you’re a strange person 🙂 *loves strange people* PWNage? Are you referring to the manga or the chapter? `cause if it’s the latter, you’re the first one to take that as a positive scene… WHAT?! YOU have nothing to say?! It’s the Apocalypse! Run! XD
Thanks for the kanji notes, BobbyNeko. I just like to respond to all my reviews, and if people just say “thank you for the chapter” I want to be able to say “you’re welcome” in Japanese, because I’m strange like that. ^_^ Oh, and the context for “nan desu yo” was a writer saying “thank you so much, everybody! Nan desu yo, once again!” And I had no idea what it meant. ^_^; Does it mean anything in that context? And pretty much every second I don’t spend writing, I spend reading, mainly any fic at all featuring Kaito. I don’t like using ideas I’ve seen before because then I feel like a plagiarist (DAMN YOU FOR USING THAT DREAM FIRST, PRETZTAILFAN! Not a scene that I’ve published yet, but now I feel nervy about doing so 🙁 ) so I always take time to come up with totally original ideas (well, I can’t vouch for complete originality, but I hope they are ^_^;) I’m glad that ya like it!
Ahhh! Forgot my disclaimer the past couple of chapters! Don’t sue! (uses Kaitou skillz to steal brother’s wallet)
I do not claim to own any of the characters in Meitantei Conan. They are the intellectual property of Aoyama Gosho. All characters, couples and locations, if Canon, will be faithful to the manga, so if you’re into fics with weird pairings like Shinichi and Heiji, the back button is at the top there. The fic may not make sense if you have not read up to chapter 692, which you can do at a site called (read between the lines) O/n/e/ma/n/g/a, but I advise you to buy the official Tankoban novels (up to volume 29 are out in English at the time of writing) so that Aoyama-sensei can afford to continue gracing us with his imagination. Now, I hope you enjoy the fic! (If you don’t, please see my previous comments re the back button).
Reflections and Realizations