Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK
Genre: Romance/Fantasy [Modern]
Pairing: Eventual KaiShin [Kaito x Shinichi]
Summary: Their story began in Beika Park during the longest and shortest summer of Shinichi's life. And it grew around friendship, secrets, magic, and a curse. The thing about fate is that no one can really say for sure what is or isn't meant to be.
A Curse Marked Fate
1: A Summer Dream
It was the longest and shortest summer of his life.
It began, however, like any other summer would have with the spring chill melting into long, sun-drenched days that swam by in dreamy tranquility. The day that all changed began, like many of Kudo Shinichi's days, with a book.
To be more specific, it was the newest book written by his father, Kudo Yuusaku, and it had not yet technically been published. One perk of being the son of an author, however, was that Shinichi could, if he wanted to, get his father's newest books before they were officially put on the shelves for the general public. At eight years old, this was an exciting privilege—one of the only privileges in his life that Shinichi truly enjoyed even though, deep down, he knew he was being ungrateful. After all, most other children he knew would be thrilled if their parents let them go wherever they wanted whenever they wanted unsupervised. Most of those same children envied the fact that his parents never hesitated to buy him the books or puzzles he wanted, and they thought him strange because he didn't take advantage of the fact that his parents wouldn't mind if he ate more sweets. It was just that those same children who thought he had everything actually got to see their parents every day. Their parents viewed them as the children they were. They worried about them and looked out for them and tried to teach them about the world. But he was getting sidetracked, wasn't he?
Shinichi had stopped wondering what it would be like to have parents who behaved like parents when he was six.
The point was that this day, this peaceful, warm summer day, began with the arrival of the new book on Shinichi's desk. When his father had delivered it, Shinichi didn't know, but he had long since decided that such things were trivial. What mattered was that the book was there and that the weather outside was splendid. Therefore, book in hand, he had dropped by the kitchen to make himself two sandwiches—one ham and cheese and the other peanut butter and jelly—then packed both the sandwiches, a water bottle, and his book into a small backpack before he headed out the door, making sure to lock it behind himself.
He never once saw his parents on his way out. But that was just the way things went at the Kudo house.
He had wandered then down through the streets until he reached the lightly forested grounds of Beika Park.
Though not a large park, it couldn't be called small either, and the city had made sure to keep it well tended. It sported several stretches of lush, green lawn upon which families could picnic or children could play ball. There were small groves of trees beneath which tired parents and guardians could take shelter on long benches away from the sun and rest their weary feet. Shinichi's favorite part of the park, however, was a small but almost perfectly circular lake ringed by trees. Shinichi had spent many a long hour reading on its grassy banks.
And so here he was again.
Picking a spot under the largest tree growing along the lakeshore, Shinichi sat down and opened his book.
"Hey, you there!"
Starting in surprise at the shout, Shinichi glanced around. Seeing no one, he frowned. "Hello?"
Tilting his head back, he searched the spreading boughs over his head. Spotting a splash of color, he squinted. There, high up amidst the branches, was a boy about his age. Blue eyes widened. The stranger was hanging from a branch with one hand. It looked like he would fall at any moment.
"That's dangerous!" he called up, scrambling to his feet.
The stranger actually laughed. "I know that."
"Then you should come down or at least use both hands," Shinichi retorted, wondering what was wrong with the stranger. Unless he was stuck?
"Do you need help?"
The stranger waved away his concerned inquiry with a most inappropriate laugh. "Nah. I got this."
That said, he traced a sign in the air with his free hand then pointed down towards his own dangling toes. Shinichi started in surprise when threads of golden light traced a magic circle in the air just below the strange boy's feet. The moment it was complete, the boy let go of the branch and landed lightly on the spell circle. Shinichi lurched backward, half expecting the stranger to continue falling through the tracery of light, but he didn't. The boy grinned and stood up straight right there in mid air.
"Ha! I told you I got it," he whooped. Then he turned to look down at Shinichi and swept into a deep bow as though he were a performer on stage. When Shinichi only blinked at him, he frowned. "You're supposed to clap."
Shinichi made a face. "Seriously?" On the other hand, he supposed it was a pretty amazing feat. All considered, most people weren't able to use magic until they turned thirteen. Yet this boy was already casting advanced spells. Heaving a sigh, Shinichi dutifully clapped twice then sat back down and retrieved his book from where it lay on the grass.
"Aww, come on, you can do better than that." Creating two more hovering platforms, the stranger hopped down from one to the next before landing lightly right next to Shinichi. "Oh, I know. How about this?" Sticking his hand between Shinichi's nose and the pages of his book, he snapped his fingers. Shinichi jerked his head back with a yelp, cracking the back of his skull against the trunk of the tree behind him. A yellow rose popped into existence out of thin air, the petals so close that they filled his field of vision.
Annoyed, Shinichi pushed the flower away and glared at the stranger. "What is your problem?"
"Don't be like that," the stranger chided. "It's a beautiful day. It'd be a waste to spend it in a bad mood."
"I'm not in a bad mood."
"Your frowny face says otherwise~."
"Can you please leave me alone?"
"Why would you want to be alone?"
Groaning, Shinichi buried his face in his book. "I give up. What do you want anyway?"
"Well, a smile would be a good start."
"How about a name then? I'm Kuroba Kaito."
Sighing, Shinichi peeled himself off his book. "Kudo Shinichi," he muttered, not entirely sure if it was wise to give his name to this rather pushy new acquaintance. If the boy had been an adult, he would certainly have qualified as exactly the kind of stranger that small children should avoid. But since he couldn't be much older than Shinichi himself, the blue-eyed boy decided it probably wouldn't hurt to humor him a little. At least until he got bored and went away. He seemed the sort to bore easily.
He was broken out of his thoughts when the stranger—or rather Kaito—suddenly leaned over him, pushing his face right up close to Shinichi's.
"Oi!" Shinichi spluttered, trying to scramble backward but being unable to because there was a giant tree in the way. Didn't this boy know anything about personal space? "What—"
"You look a lot like me," Kaito crowed, face splitting in an excited grin. "I just noticed."
Shinichi's brows furrowed. His gaze traveled from the other boy's messy bird's nest of brown hair to his oddly colored indigo eyes. He couldn't help the snort that escaped his lips. "What are you talking about? We don't look anything alike."
"I mean, there are differences, obviously, but you could totally pass for my twin. Look." He plopped himself down on the grass right next to Shinichi and produced a hand mirror out of nowhere with a flourish. He held it up in front of them, leaning sideways as he did so so that their heads were closer together. Shinichi inched away instinctively, but the taller boy scooted right after him. "Just look. Come on. It won't kill you."
Pursing his lips, Shinichi relented. With both their faces staring back at him from the silver surface of Kaito's mirror, he supposed he could see what the other boy had meant. There was a certain similarity to their faces, but only just. Still, it was a little bit creepy. Was it remotely possible that this boy was some sort of distant relative he'd never heard of before? He was sure that even his parents would have told him if he had a brother out there somewhere. Right?
"Hey, how old are you?" Kaito asked.
"Huh? Oh. I'm eight."
"Then we're the same age," the other boy exclaimed with a toothy grin. "Until tomorrow anyway."
"Oh." Shinichi blinked. "Um, happy early birthday then, I guess."
"Thanks." The mirror vanished in a puff of smoke.
Not a spell this time but sleight of hand, Shinichi thought. Which reminded him…
"Have you been studying magic long?"
"Since forever," Kaito said at once. "I've been learning from my dad. He develops new spells. He's really amazing! People are always coming to ask him for advice and other kinds of help. We came to Beika today because one of his old students called about a problem she wanted his opinion on."
Shinichi felt his heart rate pick up. Only the most knowledgeable and skilled of magic users could develop their own spells. "Do you…know anything about Curse Marks?"
Kaito cocked his head to one side as his gaze sharpened. Suddenly he seemed a lot less manic and a great deal more serious. "I know a little. Was there something in particular you were interested in?"
Shinichi hesitated. "Well, I guess…do you know what they actually are?"
Kaito considered him for a long moment before answering. "I guess it's best to start at the beginning. I assume you know about the main types of magic?"
Shinichi nodded. "Sky and Earth. Everyone has either one or the other. Sky magic can be further broken down into the elements of air, water, and fire. Earth magic is comprised of wood, metal, and mineral."
"You're right about most of that. But the truth is that there are two more types of magic. They are generally referred to as Fortune and Soul Magic."
"I've never heard of those."
"Most people haven't. My dad says that only one in every thousand people is born with one of these types of magic. But when someone is, they are also born with a Curse Mark."
"So the mark is a sign that someone has Fortune or Soul Magic?"
"That's one aspect of it, yes."
Shinichi frowned, hand rising to his chin. "But then why is it called a curse?"
Kaito's expression grew grim. "It's because they are. The Curse Mark is just that. It's a mark a person is born with that tells you they are cursed. If you know how to read Curse Marks, you'll even know what curse it is."
"But then what do they have to do with a person's magic type?"
"It's a field that's still being studied, but the general belief is that Fortune and Soul Magic are not truly meant to be wielded by human beings. You see, people who have these types of magic can't use normal spells. Instead, they each have a specific and usually unique power. Many people believe that the heavens bestow these powers on special individuals on whom they also bestow a Task. In other words, the magic that the cursed person wields is given to them by the heavens to serve a certain purpose. But because their powers go against the natural order, those powers are counterbalanced by a curse. Of course, this is all just speculation."
"Have you ever met anyone with a real Curse Mark?"
Kaito shook his head. "Not personally. But my father's met several. He told me he even met a girl a long time ago who had the power to bring the dead back to life. But her curse was that, for every life she restored, another life had to end. It was a trade. A life for a life. People were always going to her to ask her to bring back the people they loved, offering their own lives in exchange. But she always turned them away because she said that those loved ones wouldn't want to come back to life only to learn that the people who'd wanted them back had died in their stead. That, and she didn't want to be a killer. Dad told me it was pretty hard on her having to explain that to grieving people over and over again day in and day out. Then one day her sister fell deathly ill. Her sister was a talented Earth Mage who should have had a bright future. So, in the end, the Soul Mage decided to give her own life to her sister. My dad said that he thought, in some ways, she had been looking for a reason to escape."
Shinichi looked down, only just remembering that he still had a book open on his lap. After that grim tale, however, he found the words weren't making any sense. So he shut the book and set it on the grass before pulling his knees up to his chest.
"So, um, hypothetically speaking, if you saw a Curse Mark, would you be able to tell what the curse attached to it was?"
"I've seen a few in the old records at my house," Kaito said slowly, expression giving nothing away. "But like I said, I only know a little. But if you had a picture for me to look at, I might be able to figure something out." He paused then to give Shinichi a very searching look. The intensity of his scrutiny made Shinichi feel like he'd been stripped bare and vulnerable, and he almost reached up to cover that spot on the base of the back of his neck. He stopped himself just in time though.
Instead, he turned to the blank pages at the very back of his father's book then pulled a pen from his pocket. "I can draw it for you."
He began to draw the Curse Mark as Kaito leaned over his shoulder to watch. The older boy was so close that Shinichi could feel his breaths against the side of his face, but at least that meant he was in no position to see the Curse Mark hidden under the back of Shinichi's collar.
When he had finished, Shinichi presented the open book to his new friend (he supposed he had to call anyone who he would show this symbol to a friend no matter how strange and pushy they were).
Kaito spent such a long time studying the drawing that Shinichi began to worry. Was it something so terrible that he didn't want to say anything about it? Or no, it was more likely that the boy just didn't recognize the mark. After all, there had to be a lot of different types of Curse Marks out there. This one was probably new to him.
As though in answer to his thoughts, Kaito sighed and handed the drawing back to him. "I haven't seen this Curse Mark before, but it does seem quite strange. Normally, you can tell if the marked person is a Fortune or Soul Mage based on the Curse Mark, but I can't even tell that from this one. You might want to check whatever source you got it from to make sure it's an accurate depiction."
Shinichi bowed his head. "I'll do that," he murmured, though he knew that there were no inaccuracies in his sketch. "Are they permanent? Curses I mean."
"As far as people know." Folding his arms behind his head, Kaito leaned back against the tree, gaze shifting to the sky visible beyond the leafy canopy over their heads. "Though there are ways around some of them—Dad's helping develop a few. Anyway, it depends on the curse."
Shinichi nodded slowly. That made sense. It wasn't good news, but he knew more now than he had that morning, and for that he was grateful to this strange boy.
A beeping sound drew both boys' attention to Kaito's watch. The older boy made a face but hopped to his feet.
"Sorry, I need to get going. It was nice meeting you though." He offered Shinichi his hand, rematerializing the yellow rose from before. "I'll see you again sometime."
This time, Shinichi accepted the blossom, albeit a bit hesitantly. "Thank you," he said. "I learned a lot."
Kaito beamed. "Glad I could help."
Shinichi remained where he was for a long time after the other boy had gone. He was no longer in the mood to read, but neither did he feel like going home. So he watched as the clouds chased each other across the mirror bright surface of the park's small lake and wondered.
When he got home that evening, Shinichi was more than a little surprised to find both his parents waiting for him. He'd been under the impression that his mother would be having dinner with an old friend of hers, and his father should have been meeting with his editors. Although, on Kudo Yuusaku's part, perhaps it wasn't that surprising that he was home then. He spent just as much of his time running from his editors as he did actually writing. Why he did this was one thing Shinichi knew he would never understand.
His mother descended upon him the moment he crossed the threshold and scooped him up into a crushing bear hug.
"Oh Shin-chan, where have you been? Dinner's already cold!" she scolded—rather hypocritically, in his opinion. Not waiting for an answer, she dragged him to the kitchen and pushed him into a chair, chattering all the while about how nice it had been to see Toichi-sensei again and what a charming boy his son had been even if he still had a thing or two about good manners.
She bustled about the kitchen as she talked. Shinichi watched her uncertainly, wondering what was wrong. Her cheer seemed forced. But that thought was quickly eclipsed by the bigger worry that his mother might actually have cooked dinner. Kudo Yukiko was many things, but a good cook was not one of them. Her husband wasn't any better. The best they could manage between the two of them was sandwiches. But then his mother brought some boxes out of the fridge. It looked like his parents had ordered out from one of the pasta places they frequented.
Shinichi relaxed. It was only then that his brain caught up with what his ears had been telling it.
"What?" he asked.
"I said we really haven't been spending enough time together as a family," she said. "So both your father and I are going to take the rest of the summer off. We can go to the beach and the zoo and the amusement park—oh, and there's that huge new shopping center!"
Shinichi opened his mouth then shut it again at a total loss for words. He knew he should be pleased. Instead, he couldn't help but think that something was wrong.
Shinichi went overnight from rarely seeing his parents to being nearly suffocated by them twenty four seven. They dragged him to every conceivable place a family could go. Some of it was enjoyable, but there was only so much of his parents' craziness that Shinichi could take at a time before he felt like he was going to go mad himself—especially when his mother got it into her head that what they really needed to do as a family was dress up and take a million pictures.
It didn't help that, with every passing day, the sense that something wasn't right grew stronger. He often caught his parents trading grim, meaningful glances when they thought he wasn't looking. But neither of them seemed to want to explain what was really going on. The whole situation left Shinichi confused and frustrated and just a little hurt. Didn't his parents trust him? He'd always thought they did, and he'd treasured that belief. But now…
It was an entire week before he was able to get some time to himself (his parents had suddenly announced that they had to go visit someone. They didn't say who, and he didn't ask). He immediately made his way to the park. This time he brought The Sign of Four with him. He was fully intent on immersing himself in one of his all time favorite novels so that he could forget at least for a little while the weirdness that had overtaken his life.
He succeeded for all of ten minutes.
"Oh hey, fancy seeing you here."
He knew that voice. He hadn't thought he'd ever hear it again, but, when he looked up, there stood Kaito.
"You live near here, right?" the older boy asked, inviting himself to sit down next to Shinichi like he had before. "Any idea if the ice cream from that cart by the front entrance is any good?"
"It's ice cream," Shinichi replied, puzzled. "Isn't it always kind of the same? As long as you're getting the same flavor anyway."
"Clearly you've never had ice cream from Umeko's Parlor," Kaito replied with all seriousness. "You don't know what really good ice cream is like until you've had theirs."
Shinichi tilted his head to one side, considering. "In that case, I can't tell you if the park ice cream is good. Since I've never had really good ice cream."
Kaito blinked at him for a moment, and Shinichi felt the corners of his lips twitching despite himself. Then Kaito burst out laughing.
"You have a point," he said, grinning. "But like you said, ice cream is ice cream. And Ice cream's always good. Come on. I want to try their peanut butter and chocolate swirl."
Somehow, Shinichi found himself accompanying Kaito to the ice cream cart. And when the older boy bought two cones instead of one and offered him the second, he accepted after only a brief hesitation. Once they'd finished their treats, Kaito asked Shinichi to show him around the park. Once again, the blue-eyed boy paused for only a split second before acquiescing. They ended up exploring not only the park grounds but also the surrounding neighborhood and shops. The rest of the afternoon flew in a surprisingly pleasant haze of what—to Shinichi anyway—was unaccustomed good cheer.
This time when they parted ways, Shinichi realized that he was hoping he would see Kaito again. And he did.
The following days crawled and galloped past in turn. Most of the time, he was gallivanting all over the region with his parents. But, whenever he got the chance (which was typically when his parents hurried off again to meet another mysterious someone or other), he would slip away to the park. And, more often than not, Kaito would meet him there.
The older boy, he soon learned, was not only a talented mage but also a skilled actor. Behind his good-natured cheer was a highly intelligent if rather devious mind with a penchant for mischief and mayhem. He could be rather arrogant, and he was definitely pushy. But he was also thoughtful, and he missed nothing. Best of all, he was every bit as well read as Shinichi was even if they tended to have different perspectives on things.
They spent many hours discussing everything from literature and current events to magic and philosophy. At other times, they played games. One particularly memorable afternoon, Shinichi had arrived at the park to find that Kaito had left him a riddle beneath their tree. That riddle had led to a series of other riddles which evolved into a full blown treasure hunt that ended with a book.
"A Curse Marked History," he read out loud, tracing the gold embossed letters on the leather cover.
"Since you were so interested in Curse Marks, I thought you might like this."
Not having heard Kaito approach, Shinichi jumped and spun around so fast that he would have fallen if Kaito hadn't caught his arm and steadied him. The Sky Mage must have been watching him this whole time.
"You mean this is for me?"
"But…" Shinichi trailed off at a loss as he hefted the large and probably rather expensive book. "I can't take this."
Kaito's brows furrowed. "What do you mean? Don't you want to read it?"
"It's not that," Shinichi said hastily. "Of course I want to read it. But this has got to be worth a lot. I mean, just look at this workmanship. You can't just go giving something like this away."
Kaito studied him for a long moment with an expression Shinichi couldn't read before he finally spoke. "Consider it a loan then. You can read it then return it to me when you're done. How about it?"
Shinichi considered the offer then nodded shyly, gaze fixed on the book's beautifully crafted cover. "Thank you. I'll take really good care of it."
Kaito chuckled. "I'm sure you will." He produced a pale pink rose with a flick of his wrist and tickled Shinichi's nose with it until the younger boy looked up, at which point Kaito offered him the blossom. "But this you have to keep."
Shinichi felt a peculiar fluttering in his stomach that he couldn't explain as a blush tinted his cheeks. Not sure what to say or why he was feeling this way, he accepted the rose.
The odd, bubbly happiness stuck with him all the way home and through to the next day. It lasted all the way up until his father handed him a brand new suitcase.
"We're going to Hawaii," the author informed him. "We're leaving tomorrow, so you should go pack."
"Two years?" Shinichi repeated numbly. It was a good thing he was already sitting down because his knees had gone weak at the news his parents had just dropped on him like the proverbial ton of bricks.
The entire Kudo family was currently seated in the airport waiting to board the plane that would take them to Hawaii. Kudo Yukiko had recently accepted a role in a short series to be produced in those tropical islands, and her husband was planning to set his next book there. It was the perfect opportunity for a chance in scenery, they'd said. With both elder Kudos working, the stay would be an extended one.
Two whole years to be exact.
"But what about school?" Shinichi asked a little desperately.
"We'll be homeschooling you while we're there," his father replied. "We've already informed the school."
Shinichi opened his mouth then shut it again. What could he say? He wanted to know why his parents hadn't told him sooner—wanted to tell them that he wasn't ready for a long stay overseas, but what then? Nothing would change. They would be boarding their plane in less than an hour!
"It'll be wonderful," Yukiko gushed, brandishing a colorful travel brochure. She went on to detail all the amazing places they would visit and the cool things they would be able to do, but Shinichi wasn't really listening.
Letting out a silent groan, he slumped back in the airport's gray plastic seat. He wanted to be surprised, but he found he just couldn't stir up the energy. Instead, he just felt resigned at this latest demonstration of how inconsiderate his parents could be even when they were trying to be nice. It was obvious to him that his parents both thought he should be excited about the trip, and part of him was. But he would have been a lot happier if they hadn't neglected to warn him.
Because of that, he'd never gotten to say goodbye to Kaito, the first real friend he'd ever made. A friend that he might not ever see again. He felt a pang in his chest at the thought. They'd never traded contact information, and he had no idea where Kaito lived except that it wasn't in Beika.
Would Kaito even remember him in two years?
And what about the book Shinichi had promised to return? It was currently in his suitcase. He winced at the thought. If he'd known about this trip, he would never have taken it. Now he might never get the chance to give it back.
The people all around them began rising to their feet and getting in line before the gate's closed doors. His parents rose as well, forcing Shinichi to follow suit. Soon, they were filing onto the plane. Then the airport was dwindling away below them. In no time at all, the patchwork of grays and greens that was the ground was washed away by a sea of fluffy clouds.
A.N: This is another of the stories I've had lying around that I'm now trying to finish. Technically, it's part of a set of fics I wanted to write that are loosely based on fairytales. I'll explain which it was at the end, but big thumbs up if you can guess which one it is before that. :)
Anyhow! Like a lot of my stories, it's turning out somewhat longer than I expected, but I have most of it outlined so updates should be fairly regular (about once every two weeks unless I say otherwise). If you're reading any of my other ongoing stories, I'm sorry about the slow progress, but I am still working on them.
I wish you all a happy holiday. Thanks for reading. Take care and stay safe!