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Awakening

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Halfway home, and more winded than usual, Shinichi stopped to catch his breath, and caught sight of his reflection in the window of a closed store-front. He was still looking and feeling like a child in a teenager’s clothes, and the ice-crusted owl, which must have been silently following him, landed gently on his shoulder and met his gaze expectantly in their window-reflection.

He sighed. If his hallucinations were going to be particularly consistent, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have someone to talk things over with. “If I call you Sherlock, will you help me figure out what the hell is going on?” he asked skeptically. 

“Happily,” Sherlock answered, and Shinichi almost fell over in surprise. “I think I would also prefer to understand what’s going on.”

“So what is going on?” Shinichi asked, starting to walk toward his house again. Sherlock took off from his shoulder, flying a little ahead of him, and then doubling back to circle his head, then flying ahead again while Shinichi walked. Shinichi tried to balance his desire to not hallucinate with considering the likelihood that a real owl could fly when coated in ice like that.

“Well, that guy said we were Awakened because you went through physical or mental trauma,” Sherlock observed. I think it was the poison that did it, based on when my memories start being separate from yours.”

“Maybe I’ve just been imagining everything since that long-haired guy bashed my head in,” Shinichi suggested instead, not wanting to accept that it might all be real. “Even the poison. Maybe I’m still laying in that alley, imagining you and everything else while I bleed out and die.”

“I think I would know if you were dying,” Sherlock stated matter-of-factly. Then he turned back, gently concerned for Shinichi. “But I understand that I am unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. I’m not offended if you need to find someone else to reassure you that I’m real.”

Just then the sky opened up. Sherlock tucked himself away into the forgotten hood of Shinichi’s jacket to hide a little from the rain as Shinichi started running again, towards his house, hoping to get out of the rain.

When they got to the gate in front of the Kudou mansion it was still pouring. Shinichi struggled for a moment to reach the handle, before he remembered his Kri. “Hey, Sherlock, you can reach the handle for me, can’t you?”

“I can try,” the owl reluctantly agreed, emerging from his hiding place and fluffing his feathers up against the rain. But before Sherlock could leave Shinichi’s shoulder, there was an explosion next door, and Shinichi’s neighbor Agasa tumbled out of a new gaping hole in the wall, followed by what Shinichi’s eyes insisted was a poorly-defined panda bear. It was forest green against shimmering blue, with the borders between colors shifting, almost like the blue was water sloshing around. Actually, as he looked closer, the green spots almost appeared to be lilypads, despite floating "sideways" around the edges of the large creature.

Shinichi continued to stare, forgetting himself, until the panda nudged Agasa and the older man turned to see Shinichi on the sidewalk. When Agasa met Shinichi’s eyes, he abruptly remembered himself and called, “Agasa-hakase! Can you help me get into my house?” Agasa shot him a confused look, so he added, “It’s me, Shinichi!”

“Shinichi lives next door,” Agasa answered, confused. They went back and forth a few times until, in desperation, Shinichi deduced the entire circumstances of Agasa’s evening.

“Shinichi?” he asked, astonished. “What happened to you?” He looked Shinichi over, taking in Shinichi’s new child-sized form and his eyes settled on the owl still perched on Shinichi’s shoulder. “Were you just awakened tonight?” he asked even more gently, eyes suddenly full of sympathy.

Agasa was a little eccentric, but he wasn’t the sort to play cruel jokes on Shinichi by pretending not to recognize him, or pretending to see something that wasn’t there. Shinichi shivered as he started to really question if everything that happened tonight was real after all.

Shinichi met Sherlock’s eyes briefly, then Agasa’s. “I’m half-convinced I’ve been hallucinating tonight, ever since…” His voice caught, and he tried again, “Ever since I woke up after someone tried to bash my head in.” He hesitated a moment, but Agasa didn’t interrupt. “If I didn’t hallucinate it all, I’ve been poisoned by something intended to leave no trace in the dead body, woken up in the body of a child, and seen elemental animals that I don’t think are Pokémon following everyone around, including me.”

Agasa’s eyes widened. “It’s unlikely you’ve been hallucinating. About the animals anyway. We call them Kri, I don’t know why or where the name came from. People who have been through a physical or emotional trauma, called an Awakening, can see their own Kri, and the Kri belonging to others. People who haven’t are called Sleepers. I don’t really understand why, but it seems impossible for Sleepers to understand about Kri, even if you try to explain to them. A Kri is like your second soul, living outside of your body, and it has one or two elements that seem to correspond to the personality traits of its main soul.”

Shinichi blinked up at him, skeptical. “That makes no sense.”

Agasa shrugged, “I know it’s hard, and you’ve probably been convincing yourself all night that you’ve been imagining it, and it frustrates me sometimes too, that we don’t have better answers, but I wouldn’t lie to you about Kri. This is my Kri,” he said, gesturing back at the watery panda. “His name is Kazuki, and he’s a Weln-Druim panda.”

Kazuki stepped forward and dipped his head politely. “It’s nice to meet you.”

Shinichi glanced at his owl, who self-consciously puffed his feathers up again and addressed Agasa directly. “He calls me Sherlock but we don’t know elements or their names.”

Agasa nodded sagely, grinning with incompletely-hidden amusement at the source of Sherlock’s name. “You look like an Itsa to me. Ice, basically. It’s an element that frequently belongs to intellectuals.”

“In that case, I’m Sherlock, an Itsa barn owl,” Sherlock concluded. “Can we go inside please?”

“Oh, of course,” Agasa remembered, easily opening the gate for them. Shinichi handed over his door key on the short walk up the path, and they let themselves into his house.

After Shinichi had found reasonably sized clothes to change into (thank goodness his mother had insisted on keeping his first school uniform “for memory’s sake” long after he outgrew it, and even after Teitan Elementary quit requiring uniforms) he met Agasa back in the library. Shinichi explained more thoroughly about what had happened that night, and Agasa warned him not to tell anyone who he was. They argued briefly about it, with Shinichi not actually giving in, but finally changing the topic to ask, “Why isn’t Kazuki-kun getting water everywhere? He seems to be half-made of it.”

Kazuki took it upon himself to explain. “We Kri aren’t quite physical. We exist on another plane of reality. So even though we appear to be here, even though we’re physical enough to interact with you and to prefer not to phase through walls, I would have to work very hard to douse anything you can touch.

Shinichi considered that, but before he could formulate another question, he heard Ran’s voice calling his name. He froze, while Agasa instructed, “Shinichi-kun. Hide!”

Ran’s footsteps echoed down the hall as she continued to call his name. Moments before she opened the door to the library, Shinichi finally un-froze, and rushed towards his dad’s desk to hide. At Sherlock’s prompting, “Do you want a disguise?” Shinichi grabbed his father’s reading glasses out of the desk drawer and popped the lenses out so he wasn’t giving himself a massive headache wearing them.

Sherlock stayed under the desk while Agasa was making excuses about why he was in the Kudou library and Shinichi peered around it to see Ran, looking frantic, at the door. Her eyes fixed on him, and he froze again. “Now who is this?” she interrupted Agasa, and stepped forward toward Shinichi, who instinctively backed up until he ran into the bookshelf. “What’s your name, kiddo?” she asked.

Shinichi, didn’t even identify that he was panicked about whether to identify himself to Ran or not and concerned that she would recognize him until it was already clear she did not, in fact, recognize him. “I, um, I’m…” he babbled, to give himself another moment. He glanced over his shoulder at the bookshelf, and picked two names he recognized. “Conan! Um, I mean, Edogawa Conan, that’s my name.” He giggled nervously, mentally kicking himself for not having prepared a better pseudonym.

“It’s nice to meet you, Conan-kun,” Ran said pleasantly. “I’m Mouri Ran. Have you seen Shinichi-kun by any chance? He lives here.”

“No, I haven’t seen Shinichi-niisan tonight,” Conan answered nervously. He stepped around Ran and rushed towards Agasa, intending to ask questions, when he heard a frantic rustling of feathers. Sherlock had emerged from under the desk and was rushing to catch back up to Conan. Conan turned around, startled, and expecting to see Ran also staring at Sherlock after the noise he had just made, but instead she continued turning slowly around to watch Conan.

“It’s okay to be shy, Conan-kun,” she cooed.

Sherlock apologized softly. “Sorry, you got so far away, I had to catch up,” and Conan looked to Agasa for an explanation.

“Ran’s a Sleeper,” Agasa whispered. “Just like you were until tonight. She can’t see or hear our Kri.”

Conan nodded without really understanding. He understood the words just fine, but in practice it was hard to wrap his head around why some people could see Kri and others couldn’t. But since the Kri were mostly non-physical did that just make them a shared delusion? None of the possible explanations were making sense.