Disclaimer: I don't own the DCMK characters.
Fragments of Yesterday
2: Old Memories
He could hear Shinichi crying.
It was his fault, he knew. Shinichi never cried for himself. Not since the beginning. There were only two things that he would weep for now. More commonly, his tears were for his visions. Those tears were brought on by the raw emotions that came with those visions—emotions he could not control for they were as much a part of the visions as the images themselves. Today, however, there were no visions.
Kaito leaned against the wall outside their bedroom door, listening. He wanted nothing more than to go to Shinichi right then—to hold him and tell him that everything would be okay, but he couldn't.
Just this once, he felt he didn't have the right.
He closed his eyes, picturing Shinichi's face as it had been that morning. He remembered vividly the desperation shining in earnest blue eyes.
"Don't do it."
Shinichi burst through the front door to find Ran, Hattori, and Hakuba all gathered at the top of the stairs. He scrambled out of his shoes then raced up to the landing.
"Shinichi!" Ran exclaimed. "What's happening?"
The oracle barely registered the question. He could see the sparks whirling around their bedroom even before he reached the stairs. And they were beginning to flicker past the threshold of the bedroom's open door.
That was not a good sign.
"Move away!" he instructed, pushing his way past the cluster of high school students. His steps never even faltered as he dove into the room.
He heard Hattori cry out in warning behind him, but he ignored the sound.
It was like plunging into liquid sunlight. The magic swept over him, into him, through him—crackling, buzzing, and pulsing between hot and cold. The air danced with thin streaks of gold lightning. He shuddered at the sensation.
It felt like being transparent, although he wasn't sure if anyone would understand what he meant.
It recognized him. He'd known it would. That was why he had nothing to fear.
Arriving next to the bed, he reached out first to give Kaito's shoulder a gentle shake. The magician didn't stir.
"Don't do it. Please…"
Kaito blinked in confusion at the top of Shinichi's head. The boy had his head bowed, and the hand holding onto Kaito's sleeve was trembling, knuckles white with tension.
"Shin-chan?" he asked gently.
Shinichi finally looked up then. Brilliant blue eyes met Kaito's gaze, their depths glittering with a myriad of emotions: fear, despair, determination, and others—none of which Kaito could think of a reason for. "No matter what they say. Promise me you won't agree."
Kaito opened his mouth to ask Shinichi what he was talking about—to ask him why, but the large guard waiting outside their door cleared his throat loudly. So, instead, Kaito offered Shinichi his best reassuring smile and left.
Shinichi bit his lip. His stomach twisted in worry.
Turning, he set the bag of things he'd just bought down on the desk and pulled out the fever medicine. He read over the directions before taking the bottle out of the box. He shook out two pills then turned to look for the glass of water that should also have been on the desk. It was empty.
Shinichi set the pills on the corner of the table and picked up the empty glass. Then he turned for the door.
As he did so, however, a wave of vertigo swept through him. He stumbled. It suddenly felt like all the energy had been sapped out of him. His world spun.
For a moment, he almost sank to the ground. But he bit his lip hard enough to draw blood and staggered on.
He knew it was Kaito's way of making sure he stayed nearby. But he was the only person who could walk safely in and out of this room, and Kaito needed to take that medicine.
He sat alone in the small 'conference' room, staring at the papers spread out on the table before him. The seat across from him was empty now, but he could still see the woman who had been there earlier in his mind's eye. He could still hear her words—her offer.
She had delivered it with a smile. Then she had left the room, taking the guards with her. Although he was certain that the guards at least were still standing just outside the door. There were also four cameras in the room. It was a ridiculous number of cameras for such a tiny space, but these people were a cautious bunch—especially around him. The thought always sent a surge of vicious pleasure through him. He relished in the knowledge that they feared him. Perhaps he shouldn't, but it was hard not to. In some ways, it was one of the things that anchored him. Though sometimes he wondered if he was just deluding himself, searching for some illusion of power in this situation where they were all really just helpless.
He picked up the file on the right of the spread and stared at the photograph at the top. The picture showed a man in his late forties with a bristling mustache and a squint. Kaito recognized that face even without the information detailed in the file. This was Dr. Maruguchi, the scientist in charge of studying Shinichi's abilities.
Kaito's hand fisted, scrunching up the edge of the paper in the process. The first time he'd laid eyes on the man had been a week after they'd first been brought to this forsaken place. That had been years ago now (four? Five? It was hard to keep track in this place, though he would bet Shinichi knew the time down to the day), but he still vividly remembered the man dragging Shinichi away that day.
How many times since then had he watched Shinichi disappear with this man? It happened once a week. He often found himself wondering if he should stop them, but those times they took Shinichi to the lab were also the only times when Kaito was allowed to meet his mother. He suspected it was their way of keeping him quiet. Loathed as he was to admit it, it was an effective ploy on their part.
Shinichi always told him not to worry about it, though he never would explain what exactly those bastards got up to in that lab (and Kaito had the sneaking suspicion that Shinichi wouldn't tell him even if they were really hurting him in there). All he'd say was that the scientists wanted to know how his powers worked. It was per their instructions that, for a year now, Shinichi had been told to keep a detailed journal about all of his visions. He wrote them all down with supplementary sketches. And then the documents would be taken away and never seen again by either boy.
Here, Kaito had information on where all those journal entries had gone.
He picked up another file, thumbing through it. These bastards had found themselves a goldmine, he realized. From his Shin-chan's dreams, they had garnered a vast amount of information about the future—information that they were already exploiting to get themselves a whole lot of gold and influence. It was no wonder their guards had been somewhat more obliging lately about what kind of food they brought and fetching a few luxury items for them like that color pencil set and those Poker cards, Kaito thought, torn between pride for his friend and disgust at these leaches who would stoop to taking advantage of Shinichi's gifts for their own gain. He knew it wasn't the kind of thing Shinichi had wanted from his visions.
But that wasn't the issue here.
He picked up yet another set of files. These were why they had brought him here today. Why they had left him here alone to think. Because, with these, they believed they knew what he would decide.
That man, Maruguchi, had been deceiving them all. He had altered some of Shinichi's journal entries before passing them on, feeding false information to the rest of the Wraith while he took the correct information and made himself a not-so-small fortune. He'd only done it a few times, but, each time, the errors that came up on the other end of the process came back to his research division as complaints. And each time the complaints arrived, the man had pushed the blame for the errors onto Shinichi.
Indigo eyes narrowed.
So that was what had happened.
Kaito remembered a day roughly three months ago when he'd found Shinichi curled up in the corner of their room after one of those weekly lab visits, trembling and murmuring to himself.
"I can't be wrong, I can't be wrong," he had chanted under his breath like it was a magic spell. "I can't."
"Shin-chan, what's the matter?" Kaito had asked, alarmed. He'd knelt down beside Shinichi and placed his hands on the smaller boy's shoulders. "What happened?"
"If I can't give them good information then they won't need us anymore," Shinichi had said in a rush, eyes wide with something as close to terror as Kaito had ever seen on his face. "I…I can't let that happen."
Kaito barely heard his words, gaze fixed on Shinichi's face. Now that the oracle no longer had his face buried in his knees, Kaito could see the bruise darkening on his left cheek. Moving of its own accord, the young magician's hand rose. His fingertips brushed over the blemished skin. Shinichi flinched, and Kaito pulled his hand back.
"What happened?" His voice sounded strange even to his own ears.
Blue eyes softened. Small hands reached up to clasp the hand Kaito had just withdrawn.
And it wasn't right at all, the magician thought, that Shinichi was apparently trying to reassure him.
It was not okay at all, and he hated how Shinichi could say that like he meant it.
Giving himself a shake, Kaito forced himself to focus back on the papers in his hands.
The man had used Shinichi as a scapegoat for his own misdeeds then had the nerve to punish the oracle for them. Even thinking about it was enough to make Kaito's blood boil.
With an effort, Shinichi half leapt, half fell out of the room. He would have fallen flat on his face if Hattori hadn't caught him. A fountain of sparks followed him out into the hall. Hattori cursed and half carried, half dragged Shinichi towards the stairs. His grip on the smaller boy was so tight it was painful.
"What the hell is—"
He was cut off as a shockwave shook the entire house. His feet slipped. In an instant, both he and Shinichi were tumbling down the rest of the stairs. In the kitchen, they could hear Ran's and Hakuba's cries of shock. The empty glass Shinichi had been carrying smashed to pieces on the floor.
"You can put an end to it," the woman had said with that saccharine smile. In a scant handful of sentences, she had offered him both a chance at revenge upon his best friend's tormentor and the opportunity to save Shinichi from ever having to go back to that lab. They still wanted the journal entries, but there would be no more 'research'.
And all Kaito would have to do was kill a man.
It was the first time anyone had ever suggested that he should take a life. If he'd been asked before, he wouldn't even have considered it. His father had always emphasized how people with powers like theirs needed to master their emotions because, if they let themselves get carried away, their magic could easily cause a great deal of harm. They were responsible for not letting that happen. And yet… And yet, sitting here now, he hesitated.
Now he understood why Shinichi had said those words to him that morning. He understood too, the despair behind that desperate plea.
When he stood in the lab before Doctor Maruguchi, he knew that he was going to do it.
And the doctor knew it too. It was written on his face. His eyes were bright with terror despite the fact that the boy standing before him was less than a third his age. The man scrambled for something—anything—that could save him.
The only regret Kaito had carried home that night had been the regret that he was the one who'd made Shinichi cry. For he knew then that Shinichi's tears were for the blood on his hands. He would never be able to tell Shinichi that he had wanted it—had wanted to make that man suffer for all that he'd put Shinichi through. When he'd seen the man vanish in a twisting pillar of white fire, all he had felt was a vicious, acid triumph.
This new knowledge about himself was chilling, but he accepted it because, in some ways, he'd known it all along. And he knew then too that he had lost something—something precious and indefinable. Something that could never be retrieved.