Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK

Pairing: Eventual KaiShin [Kaito x Shinichi]


A Curse Marked Fate

2: Of Curses and Wishes

Two years came and went. They didn't do so quickly, but they did so bearably. Over time, Shinichi managed to forget the frustration he'd felt at being dragged to another country without warning for so long, but he never forgot the friend he'd made that strange summer. His mother had been right about a few things at least. Hawaii was a beautiful place, and it was difficult to stay mad at his parents while surrounded by the many wonders the islands had to offer. Despite that, Shinichi still found himself looking forward to going home.

Everything changed again the day after his tenth birthday.

"There's something we need to tell you."

Shinichi looked from his father's serious face to his mother's pensive one and back again. His small hands tightened instinctively around the pineapple smoothie he was drinking. "What is it?"

His parents exchanged one of those looks he'd come to know so well over the past two years before his father cleared his throat.

"First, you know that education in the use of magic generally begins when people turn thirteen."

Shinichi nodded.

"Do you know why?"

"I think it was because that was when most people's magic develops to a point where it can actually be used. Though some people with particularly strong magical gifts can begin training early."

"That is correct. What you may not know is that, typically, a person's magic begins developing around the age of ten. Therefore, for people born with Curse Marks, that is also usually the time that their curses begin to manifest themselves."

Shinichi felt himself go cold. "I…I see."

"Your mother and I have been speaking to specialists for a while in the hopes that someone would know what your Mark meant." His father took a folded paper out of his pocket and spread it out on the table. Shinichi was not at all surprised to see an enlarged picture of the Curse Mark at the base of the back of his neck. It looked like a tattoo drawn in dark blue ink, but it was nothing so innocuous. Like all Curse Marks, it resembled three interlocking circles, each with an impossibly complex pattern inside that wove together where those circles overlapped.

"According to the scholars, the contents of the circle of a Curse Mark that is closest to the heart represents a person's Task or fate," his father explained. "If you rotate the Mark so that the Task circle is the one on top then the contents of the lower left hand circle is the blessing, which is typically a special gift meant to make it easier for you to carry out your Task. And, lastly, the circle on the right symbolizes the curse. Some people consider it the price the person pays for his or her blessing."

His father paused, and Shinichi nodded to indicate that he'd understood. He'd heard all this before, though he'd never told his parents. He had read about these terms and beliefs in Kaito's book.

"Unfortunately, it's extremely rare for Tasks to be repeated, so we weren't able to find anyone who could interpret yours," Yuusaku continued. "But we were able to identify the other two aspects of your Mark."

"You were?" Shinichi straightened abruptly. His heart rate quickened. "What do they mean?"

"We'll start with the blessing. This particular one has only been documented twice before that we could find. It is referred to as the Blessing of the Cat. It was named based on the myth that cats have nine lives. A person who carries this blessing can survive what should be fatal circumstances eight times."

"And the curse?" Shinichi prompted.

The brief hesitation before Yuusaku answered was telling.

"It's called the Eye of Misfortune. And it's basically just what it sounds like. It's a curse that brings misfortune."

"So…I'm going to be really unlucky, but I don't have to worry about being so unlucky that it kills me?" Shinichi guessed. "Well, I guess it could have been worse," he mused, thinking out loud. "They sort of cancel each other out."

"It's not that simple," Yuusaku said sharply. "The misfortune brought on by this particular curse doesn't only apply to the bearer. It applies to everyone around him—around you. As for the blessing, I doubt it will always be clear to you when its effects have come into play. After all, how can you know what was a death narrowly avoided and what was just an ordinary close call? Don't take anything for granted. You should know better."

"Yuusaku!" Yukiko hissed, driving her elbow into her husband's side hard enough to make him wince. She leveled him with another glare for good measure before turning back to Shinichi. "I know this must all sound really scary, but there's good news. You see, when Toichi-sensei deciphered your Mark, we all started looking for a solution. Do you remember Eri, my old classmate? The one who married a police officer? Mouri Kogoro. They have a daughter about your age called Ran."

"They came over once so that Mouri-san could ask Tou-san some questions," Shinichi recalled.

His mother nodded enthusiastically. "That's right. Well, it turns out Kogoro has a Curse Mark too. His causes all magic around him to weaken or malfunction when they don't just outright stop working. And so, well, we thought, if you were to stay with the Mouris, you might actually be able to live a normal life until we can find another way."

"Stay?" Shinichi echoed. "As in live with them?"

His mother nodded, smiling in a manner that was too bright to be entirely real. "We've already arranged everything with the Mouris. You'll have this summer to settle in before you start at Ran-chan's school."

And that was that.

Later, as he lay on his bed and stared up at the ceiling of his room in the small apartment that they'd been renting, Shinichi recalled the many accounts he'd read in A Curse Marked History of the lives of other people who had been born cursed. He had read them all a dozen times over and then some, but he'd never stopped to really think about the fact that all of the people in those stories had died young. He had assumed that it was because the tales in the book had been of particularly famous or consequential figures who, therefore, had led tumultuous lives. But now he had to wonder if maybe that was just another part of what it meant to be marked by a curse.

It was no wonder that there was a history of people with Curse Marks being ostracized. Their existence had been used to both prove the existence of higher powers and destiny and hammer home humanity's many insurmountable limitations. Because of that, cultures and civilizations around the globe had revered them as agents of the gods while simultaneously shunning them as people whose lives were not and would never be their own.

Rolling over onto his side, Shinichi stared at the sliver of night sky he could see between the crack in the curtains. He knew he was over thinking things and probably blowing everything up way out of proportion, but he felt he could allow himself this one night of melancholy. After all, his parents were basically giving him away next week to people that Shinichi had only ever met once in his life.

He knew they were doing what they thought was best for him, but that didn't make the encroaching change any easier to swallow.

He wished there was someone he could talk to. But there wasn't. And he supposed he wouldn't have known how to even start putting the jumble in his head into words anyway.

X

The flight back to Japan passed far too quickly for Shinichi's tastes. It had gone even faster because someone had been murdered on the plane. Since Shinichi had been one of the few passengers who'd been paying attention to which people had come and gone from their seats, he found himself providing evidence to his father and the off-duty police officer who happened to be taking the same plane. By the time the case had been wrapped up, the aircraft was already in sight of Tokyo.

They were picked up by a tall man with a small mustache and a severe-looking woman with spectacles who were introduced to Shinichi as Mouri Kogoro and his wife Eri.

"It's good to see you again. You're looking well," Eri explained as she and Yukiko hugged each other in greeting. "Ran's at her friend's house, but we're going to pick her up right now. We thought we could all have dinner together."

Yukiko beamed. "Of course."

Soon, the five of them were seated in the Mouris' rental car. They stopped by the Kudo Manor first so that they could drop off Yukiko and Yuusaku's luggage. Shinichi felt another pang as he was told he would be leaving his own suitcase at the Mouris' apartment. Said apartment turned out to be the site of the Mouri Detective Agency. Kogoro, it turned out, had left the police force three months ago and set up his own business.

This discovery cheered Shinichi greatly. He'd always loved mysteries, and he'd dreamed about being a detective himself one day. The thought that he might be able to see a real live detective at work on a daily basis was almost exciting enough to make up for everything.

X

"He seems to be taking everything in stride," Eri said. She, Kogoro, and Yukiko had retreated to the café below the agency after settling the children in upstairs. Yuusaku had stayed behind to read the two a story and hopefully help them get acquainted. That left the rest of the adults to discuss the issues that had been weighing on all their minds.

Beside her, Kogoro let out a loud snort. "He's just a kid. He probably doesn't understand what's going on."

"No, he does understand," Yukiko replied. She worried at her lower lip as her large, bright blue eyes (so much like her son's) filled with trepidation. "I think he's actually really upset, but he hasn't said a word about it to us. Shin-chan's always preferred to keep things to himself."

"Have you heard from the archmage recently about that project of his?"

"He sends me an update every now and then, but it sounds like he hasn't made much headway," the actress admitted. "And with the Promotion Exams coming up, he's been pretty busy. He's on the judges panel for the Master's Certification this year."

Eri nodded. "Understandable. Well, I'm sure he'll get back to you if something changes."

"I know."

"So what will you and Yuusaku be doing next?"

"We're thinking about going to America. There are several studies going on at major universities there that might be helpful. And Yuu-chan has some places he needs to go for research purposes."

X

Mouri Ran had always been told that it was rude to stare, but she couldn't help it. Aside from her father, she had never seen anyone with a Curse Mark before. Add to that the fact that the boy's parents were both famous names in the entertainment industry and, well, who wouldn't stare at least a little, right? Anyway, her friend Suzuki Sonoko had demanded that Ran report to her exactly what the boy looked like.

Shinichi had his mother's big blue eyes and delicate features but his father's dark hair. He was small for a boy his age, but he held himself with a calm assurance that made him seem older than he really was. His most distinctive feature, however, had to be the cowlick at the back of his head that Ran privately found rather comical.

It was that cowlick that had reminded Ran that she really had met this boy once before. Back then, however, she hadn't known about his Mark. That wasn't the kind of information people shared about themselves without reason after all.

Now, she found herself peering at the boy whenever she thought he wasn't looking, wondering where exactly his Mark was and what it looked like and what it did that would lead his parents to come to her dad.

Pausing in the middle of her summer homework, she peered across the living room to where Shinichi was curled up on the couch with a book (this seemed to be his default state of existence. He had been with them for a week now, and he had spent more than half that time doing precisely this). She'd never met anyone else who could spend so much time reading.

The day was particularly hot, so, for the first time in his stay, he was wearing shorts and short sleeves. She found herself squinting, trying to find any trace of that telltale dark blue birthmark. Finding none, she returned to her homework.

An hour later, she decided she'd done enough and closed her books. She packed everything up and carried it back into her room. When she returned to the living room, she saw Shinichi still in the same position on the couch with that same book. Now that she thought about it, she often saw him with that book. It was a large, leather-bound thing with fancy gold leaf worked into the cover and a blue silk ribbon for a bookmark. Shinichi consumed new novels like they were oxygen, but he always seemed to go back to this book.

Unable to resist her curiosity any longer, Ran walked over to the couch and sat down next to him.

"Can I ask you what you're reading?" she asked politely.

Looking up, Shinichi blinked owlishly at her before uncurling to sit up straight. He looked down at the book on his lap then up at her again before speaking.

"It's a collection of records and stories about Curse Marks and the people who've had them," he said.

"It's a really beautiful book," she observed, looking at the full-page illustration just below where Shinichi's hand was resting. "I've never seen anything like it in a bookstore. Did your parents give it to you?"

He shook his head. "I got it from a friend."

"So it's from Hawaii?"

To her surprise, Shinichi actually laughed. It was the first time she'd heard him do so since he'd come to stay with her family.

"No," he said. "My friend lent it to me just before we left for Hawaii. I didn't know we'd be leaving, so I never had the chance to give it back to him." A look of guilt flashed across his face at the admission. That was another thing she'd noticed about him, Ran thought. His face tended to reflect his thoughts even though he rarely chose to voice them. It was particularly obvious when he was reading. He would smile or frown or make other faces as he moved through a story. It made him seem less distant than he had appeared at first, she mused. It was a good thing, she decided.

If they were going to be living together, they might as well be friends. It would be like having a brother. She'd always secretly wanted a little brother or sister, but neither of her parents seemed interested in having more children. If anything, they had begun arguing so much lately that she was honestly afraid they might get a divorce.

But she didn't want to think about that right now.

So instead she focused back on Shinichi. "Would you mind if I took a look at your book? I've always wanted to learn more about Marks and things because of Dad, but everything I found in the bookstore was fiction."

Shinichi hesitated only a moment before nodding and carefully passing the tome to her. Understanding just how much the book meant to her new brother, Ran accepted it with just as much care.

"Wow, it's heavy," she marveled. She flipped through a few pages, admiring the illustrations and the beauty of the old-fashioned calligraphy. "Oh, but there's English and Japanese in here."

"According to the preface, the original book was written by an American professor of Magic in Sociology who traveled the world collecting stories and evaluating their validity. Someone called Kuroba Chikage translated his work. The printers decided to include both the original English and the Japanese because they felt the information would be more complete that way. In any case, I've found that reading both gives you a fuller understanding of how the stories and ideologies fit into the modern understanding of Curse Marks and the role of magic in society as you get both a western and eastern perspective."

Throughout Shinichi's explanation, Ran could only stare. When he was done, she shook her head and let out a surprised laugh.

"I'm sorry, but I think that's a bit too much for me. Can you just maybe recommend a few stories? Do you have a favorite?"

The light that had ignited in Shinichi's face as he spoke of the book dimmed a little, but he directed her to a few chapters she might be interested in. They ended up reading the stories together, and he would explain the parts that she didn't quite get.

They started talking more after that—mostly about books, though Ran discovered that the boy was also quite enthusiastic about soccer.

She could get to like this new brother, Ran decided. He could get too caught up in his reading and spend hours on end blabbing about it regardless of her lack of interest, but he meant well. And he definitely wasn't the cold, snobby rich kid that she had been afraid he'd turn out to be.

Rather, she thought, he seemed to be an innocent soul trapped by unfortunate circumstances but determined still to find light in the darkness—even if that light was mostly between the pages of the latest novels.


TBC

A.N: It's been a tough year. Hopefully, next year will be better. I wish you all the best. Take care, stay safe, and happy New Year!