Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK or Naruto

Rating: T

Pairing: Established KaiShin [Kaito x Shinichi]


When Visions Collide

Set 2: Reunion

Decision

"There. Try putting your weight on it now."

Heiji rose from where he'd been seated on a fallen log and gingerly set his left foot down. He had sprained it while helping Lady Rina's two retainers out of the inn just ahead of the explosion. Now though, he found that his ankle didn't even twinge when he shifted all his weight onto it. He hopped up and down experimentally then grinned.

"Man, have I ever told you how glad I am that you decided to become a medic?"

Shinichi offered him a weary smile. "You may have mentioned it once or twice." What went unsaid (though not unknown) was that Shinichi was just as glad. Though he understood the inevitability of battle in this world of theirs, he had always loathed bloodshed. Violence had always struck him as the last and worst solution to any problem, and being forced to fight always left him feeling sick. Healing, on the other hand, was a job he could be proud of. And he knew that he owed Heiji in part for helping him make the decision to apply for a transfer into the Medical Core. If anyone should be expressing their gratitude, Shinichi felt it ought to be him.

Having assured himself that the worst of Heiji's injuries were healed, Shinichi turned to survey the rest of their group. They were distributed around the small forest clearing, each nursing their own burns and bruises as they worked to clear the smoke from their lungs. Shinichi had already tended to the worst of their wounds, but he hadn't had enough chakra to fix everything. On the bright side, no one's injuries had been fatal, and Shinichi had made sure that they would mostly be back in fighting shape within the next few days. The real problem now was figuring out why they had been attacked in the first place. And he was pretty sure he knew where to start looking for answers.

Shinichi's gaze drifted to where Lady Rina was seated by her young man's side. Akihiro had proven during the battle that he was indeed a skilled swordsman, but it had also been abundantly clear that he did not have much experience fighting shinobi. Of their entire group, his injuries had been the worst. It had taken every trick Shinichi knew to staunch the bleeding from the wound in his gut. Out of all of them, he was the only one who would need extended time for his recovery. Though the lady wasn't crying, the pain was obvious in her eyes.

Shinichi turned away. There would be time for questions later.

Identity

"The perimeter is secure," Saguru announced. "But I recommend we stay on alert."

Heiji snorted. "That goes without saying. Seriously though, does anyone have any idea who those people were? I didn't see any identifying emblems on them."

"Neither did I," the blond replied. "But I believe our clients have a few things to explain to us." He turned a pointed gaze on Lady Rina and her guards.

The lady bowed her head. "I'm sorry," she said quietly. "We really had no idea that it would come to this. We will tell you what we know, but the truth is that we too are sorely out of touch. We only knew there was unrest because my father called me back. You see, I am the only daughter of the lord of this land."

Move

They had decided to continue camping in the forest at least until they could gather more information about the real situation in Chikana and the reason behind the attack on them. As Ran had pointed out, there was supposed to be a Konoha informant somewhere in the area. No doubt said informant would find a way to contact them eventually. For now, they had to build up their strength.

Shinichi had left the others this morning in order to go purchase additional medical supplies from the nearest market. He had just walked out of an apothecary with a pack of herbs and rounded a corner to take a shortcut to his next stop when someone grabbed him from behind.

He dropped the pack and fought back, but this man seemed to know every move he was going to make before he made it. A short but fierce scuffle later, he found himself trapped on his knees with his arms pinned behind his back and his captor's weight pressing down on him in just the right way to prevent any movement.

"Jeez Shinichi, I haven't seen you in over three months and this is how you say hello?" an achingly familiar voice sounded in his ears, sounding equal parts amused and chagrined.

Shinichi's breath caught in his throat. "Kaito…?"

His captor's grip relaxed, though he didn't let go. "Before I answer that, I need you to tell me the first thing you ever ate that my mom made."

"A chocolate cake. You brought me another one afterward and helped me eat it but it still lasted for days."

The warm breaths puffing past his ear hitched for a moment before warm lips brushed against his neck, sending pleasant shivers down his spine. Then his captor was pulling him back to his feet.

He opened his mouth to speak—Kaito, the name that he had longed to say for months—but he never got the chance as he was pushed up against the alley wall. But he didn't care because a hot mouth had descended on his, and all he could do was melt.

Surprise

"You nearly gave me a heart attack," Shinichi informed Kaito much later. "Attacking me out of nowhere like that."

Kaito only laughed. "I apologize, but I had to make sure it was really you. You know that."

The two of them were currently hidden in the attic room of what Kaito had told him was one of the most prestigious tailors in the region. The place was filled with enormous bundles of a variety of different cloths. Despite being a place of storage, it sported very little dust, suggesting that it was frequently visited. When Shinichi had worriedly pointed this out, however, Kaito had assured him that the tailor and his entire staff would be out for the rest of the day.

"I wouldn't have brought you here if I didn't know it was safe," he admonished, sitting down next to Shinichi on one of the many tidy heaps of cloth. He immediately wrapped an arm around Shinichi's waist, pulling the smaller boy right up against his side. Shinichi leaned into his embrace, letting his head rest comfortably against Kaito's shoulder.

"Does that mean you knew I'd be coming?" the medic asked.

"I didn't know, per se, but I made an educated guess. Then my watch doves told me about what happened at the inn." His arm tightened protectively around Shinichi. "I assume everyone's in one piece."

"They are."

"And you?"

"I'm fine."

"You look tired."

"Well, I can't say we got out unscathed," Shinichi admitted. "But like I said, everyone will be all right. Although we'd all appreciate some explanations."

Kaito's lips quirked into a wry smile. "I would expect nothing less. I'll tell you what I know so you can tell the others."

"You won't come see them?"

"Can't. Not yet."

Shinichi inclined his head in acceptance, unconsciously snuggling a little closer to his partner. "So what's going on?"

Royalty

"The royal family of Chikana has been in power for six generations. For the most part, they were decent rulers, but in recent years they've been a bit weak. The last lord was more interested in gardening than in matters of state. Because of that, the ruling of the country fell largely on the shoulders of their vassals and other members of the court. That worked for a little while, but then the lord fell ill and his vassals began to fight amongst themselves for more power. In the midst of the chaos, the Leiten family, who also have royal blood from some four generations back, began to take control. They won over a lot of the courtiers with sweet promises and beat down the rest with brute force. They have been saying that their own head of family should be the next lord because the current family has proven unfit to continue holding the position."

"What do the people think?"

"Opinions are mixed. The chaos of the recent years has led many of them to want change. Some think that a new royal family would be a good start. Others think that they should bring the princess back from her studies abroad. She is the heir after all, but she's young, so a lot of people are afraid that she wouldn't be able to handle it and nothing would improve. The Leiten family has quite a large following as well, though mostly in the upper classes. Everyone wants order, but no one wants to have to give anything up."

"That sounds rather grim," Shinichi murmured, brows furrowing. "I'd never have guessed. This place looks so peaceful."

"On the surface, it is," Kaito replied. "But surface is all it is. At the moment, as long as you give whichever vassal lord in charge of your area whatever he or she wants, you'll be fine, but make one wrong move and the best case scenario is that you're stripped of all your wealth. The worst case scenario is you're executed and your home burned to the ground. That's why there wasn't much of a commotion over that inn you guys were at getting torched."

"That's…" Shinichi trailed off, shaking his head. There was just something incredibly horrible about the idea that such violence could become normal to people. "Are all the vassal lords corrupt?"

Kaito shrugged. "Not all, but those who aren't are keeping their heads down to avoid catching the Leiten family's attention. They all expect the Leiten to become the next ruling house, whatever their personal feelings on the matter. You see, the Leiten aren't only the largest and wealthiest clan in the kingdom. They also control the most military force."

Shinichi bit back a sigh. "Why am I not surprised?"

"It gets worse. When I said they had the most military force, I wasn't talking your typical guards and soldiers. The current head of the Leiten family is Genrou. Or rather his father's the head, but everyone knows Genrou's the one who's been running everything since he returned to the kingdom ten years ago. Before that, he did a considerable amount of traveling, and sometime during those travels, he must have found someone to teach him ninjutsu."

"He's a shinobi?"

"Not just him. He brought a whole troupe with him when he came back. They're all rogues who believe that shinobi shouldn't have to serve feudal lords or anyone else when they're the ones who have power."

"So they're planning some kind of military take over?"

"They have made preparations in that direction, but they have also approached the current lord about a marriage between Genrou and the princess as that would legitimize the take over without the use of force."

"Lady Rina."

"That's the one. They're smart enough to know that too much fighting would drastically reduce the value of the lands they're trying to take."

"Then why did they attack us?"

"Because her father turned down their proposal. He said he had already agreed to a match between Lady Rina and the son of the lord of the Land of Cranes—that's just over the mountains. It's a country that produces a lot in the way of gemstones and precious metals from their mines. An alliance with them would definitely strengthen Chikana."

"And reaffirm the power of the current royal family."

"Yep. Better yet, the Land of Cranes is known for its skilled and righteous warriors. The citizens would rally behind leaders like that."

"So our job would be—"

"To keep the lady safe and bring her to meet her betrothed when he arrives in Chikana in six weeks time."

"Six weeks?"

"It should've been two, but there was a rockslide in the main mountain pass between the two lands. There are people working to clear it right now, but that sort of thing takes time. And it was a treacherous pass to begin with."

Language

Being the master spy that he was, Kaito excelled at reading body language, and Shinichi was one subject he'd delighted in studying ever since that first mission they had had together. Because of that, he could tell right away that something was troubling his beloved, though it took some gentle prodding on his part to coax the reason from the medic.

"It's just that I'm pretty sure Lady Rina is involved with one of her guards."

Kaito raised an eyebrow. "Is it serious?"

"I think so."

"She should already know about the betrothal though," Kaito said after a long pause. "If she's here then she's accepted the situation."

Shinichi sighed. "I know."

Time

They remained where they were for a long time just watching the sun creep across the sky through the attic window and reveling in each other's company. They both knew that they would have to go their separate ways again soon, but neither could bring themselves to move just yet.

It was Kaito who eventually broke the silence. "I have to get back. My shift will be starting soon."

"Your shift?"

"I'm a guard at the Leiten's main house."

"Oh."

Silence returned. Neither of them moved.

Letting out a short bark of laughter, Kaito turned and caught Shinichi's chin with one hand. Tilting the medic's head up, he leaned in and caught Shinichi's lips in a fierce kiss. Shinichi slid his arms around Kaito's neck, lips parting in a soft gasp that Kaito was quick to take advantage of. He deepened the kiss, relishing the way Shinichi shuddered under him. When the kiss broke, Shinichi was panting for breath, cheeks flushed pink. He blinked a bit dazedly up at Kaito and wondered how exactly he'd ended up on his back. Much as he would have liked to stay right where he was though, he knew he couldn't.

"Kai, we have to go," he said softly.

The spy let out a resigned sigh. "I know." Leaning down, he gave Shinichi one last, lingering kiss before rising to his feet and offering the medic a hand up.

"I have doves watching most areas around here. They're in camouflage, but they should recognize you. If you need anything, just signal one of them with our usual codes, and they'll let me know."

Camp

It was a grim group of faces that gathered around their campfire that night. Shinichi had just finished relaying the information Kaito had given him. Now they sat in a pensive silence, each reviewing what they had learned and organizing their thoughts.

"Six weeks is a really long time," Heiji said finally. "We can't spend the whole of it camping out. If these Leiten people are as eager to prevent this marriage as they seem, they'll be looking for us."

"They probably already are," Saguru said darkly. "We will have to keep moving."

"Wouldn't it be better to find a defensible position we could hold?" asked Ran.

All eyes turned to Shinichi. He chewed on his lip as he thought. Eventually, he shook his head.

"While I'd normally agree with Ran, we're considerably outnumbered, and our opponents are going to be far more familiar with the layout of these lands than we are." He cast a look towards Lady Rina and her guards for confirmation.

The scarred man nodded. "I am afraid that we have all been away from the kingdom for many years as the lady was attending school."

"We understand. But the problem with staying on the move is that we have injured."

"Just leave me behind," Akihiro said at once. Though his voice was strained with pain, there was no fear or hesitation in his words.

Lady Rina's face went white. "Don't say such things!"

"Your safety is what matters, my lady," he replied. "If something were to happen to you because of me, I would never forgive myself."

"We're not leaving anyone to die," Shinichi interjected before either of them could say more. "But I do think we should split up."

Misdirection

"They decided to do what?!" It took all of Kaito's formidable self control to stop himself from shouting. As it was, the exclamation hissed out between his teeth like a jet of steam.

The dove perched on his desk hopped sideways and flipped its wings. Then it cocked its head to one side and burbled inquiringly at him.

"Show me again," he instructed.

The dove bobbed its head and did as instructed. Kaito sorted through the memories that the ninja dove passed on to him again, scowl deepening. Seeing it all for the second time did not improve his mood. He wasn't, however, particularly surprised.

Whirling around, he paced to the door then back to the desk before flinging himself into the room's one rickety chair. It creaked alarmingly at the rough treatment, but he paid it no mind. He drummed his fingers on the desk. His thoughts buzzed.

Shinichi had split his team up into two traveling parties, each of which had its own Lady Rina. The real one was traveling with Ran, Heiji, and Hakuba. The fake was traveling with the two retainers. And since one of said retainers was still in dire need of medical attention, Shinichi was playing the fake so that he could tend to his patient. Both groups would be making their stealthy way towards the lord's palace.

Considering the structure of the two groups, it would be natural to assume that the lady with the shinobi guards was the real one. But the lopsidedness of the arrangement would also make it feel as though that solution was too obvious to be correct. In the end, Kaito suspected that their enemies would have to divide their forces and pursue both groups if they found them. Shinichi's group would have an easier time disappearing once the invalid was well. The other team, though larger, was better defended, and, if discovered, could split into two even smaller units that could run or attack as needed.

It wasn't a bad plan.

"I still don't like it," Kaito grumbled to the dove. "Shinichi knows his team's more likely to be found. Damn it, I'll bet he plans to be found first. That's just like him."

The dove cooed in a commiserating manner.

The spy's lips quirked into a half smile. Reaching out, he gave the dove a fond pat on the head then stood. "Well, nothing we can do about it right now, eh? Shin-chan and I are going to have a very, very long talk when this is over."


TBC