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Shinichi groaned back into a bleary sort of consciousness. His head was throbbing, he was laying uncomfortably on the hard ground, with the taste of mud and something worse, terribly bitter, in his mouth, and something else was subtly off, though he couldn’t put his finger on quite what. He opened his eyes and gingerly tried to push himself up off the ground, but as soon as he did so, he realized his hands were bizarrely caught within his sleeves, and even more strangely, there was a white barn owl with pale blue highlights and inexplicably spiked feathers giving him a very concerned look, standing right in front of his face. Shinichi groaned again and let himself collapse back into the grass. If he was hallucinating, he must be hurt pretty badly, and he could afford to rest a little before dragging himself to somewhere safer. It didn’t look or sound like those creeps in black were anywhere nearby anymore, so he didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger, besides his head injury anyway.

“I heard something from over here!” Shinichi heard a voice call, and dragged himself up into a sitting position just in time for a pair of policemen to round the corner with flashlights. One had a white and yellow shadow, the shape of a Yorkshire Terrier, bounding ahead of him through midair, trailing sparks, and the other had a tiny gray-brown elephant with jewels apparently embedded in its knees and ears riding on his shoulder. He was still hallucinating strange impossible animals it seemed. Shinichi glanced down, and the owl was still in front of him. He would say it was looking at him expectantly and with a little worry, which he could somehow read in its eyes that were sparkling with green sand rather than really looking like eyes at all. Although, given that he was hallucinating, it really wasn’t all that surprising that the animal would have such a human emotion attached to it. 

When he met its eyes, the bird suddenly ruffled up its feathers (were they coated with ice? That would perhaps explain why they looked so jagged) and then took off, startling him into scooting back. He instinctively looked up into the sky to watch it go, but realized, as he couldn’t find it with his eyes, that the owl had landed on his knee instead, its talons a gentle pressure rather than sharp like he expected. It also felt proportionately bigger than it looked, as though his knee was suddenly scrawny. That actually made sense with how his clothes were draped strangely around his body.

Shinichi was startled out of his examination of the mysterious ice-coated owl he was still probably hallucinating when the policeman in the lead pointed the flashlight straight at him, stopped running, and observed, “that’s a nasty lump on your head, kid. Are you okay?” 

The dog, electricity still crackling through its fur, landed silently on the ground in front of him and turned to the owl instead, echoing the question, “are you both okay?” in a voice very similar to the policeman’s.

Shinichi was still processing why they called him “kid” when he was clearly 17, when the owl turned back to the impossible (and impossibly small) dog and said something that simultaneously sounded like it ought to be language, and as though it had no relation to Japanese or anything Shinichi had ever heard before at all.

Both policeman and the elephant turned to the owl, looking startled. Shinichi tried to tune them out as the policemen took a step back and had a quiet but intense argument. If they could see his hallucinations, that meant they were part of the hallucinations. He didn’t need to listen to what they had to say, though he did catch the phrase “recently awakened” several times. More proof that the adults were part of his hallucinations: they would have no reason to know he’d actually been unconscious moments ago, since they hadn’t appeared until after he wasn’t. He returned to staring at the owl, trying to focus on all the things that made it impossible, hoping that would make it easy for his brain to discard the distracting thing so he could focus on his predicament instead. The owl stared right back.

Momentarily, the police officer with the elephant stepped forward, crouching down gently in front of Shinichi. “Hi kid. I’m Officer Kondo. You haven’t seen that little owl before, have you?”

Shinichi finally accepted that his senses were telling him that he was as small as a young child, despite the fact that in his hallucination his clothes hadn’t shrunk with him, and tried not to be too offended that this hallucination-cop was also calling him a child. His brain was producing far more consistent nonsense than he thought hallucinations were supposed to involve, but he was more stressed about the fact that, other than the police officer acknowledging the owl and calling him “kid”, there was no way he would have recognized the cop as a figment of his own imagination. He wouldn’t have answered, but the cop still felt so real, looking at him expectantly. Eventually, he shook his head no, since his throat felt closed-up with stress.

“That’s okay,” the officer said gently while Shinichi idly registered his partner radioing for an ambulance from halfway down the alley. “That owl is your Kri, which is basically the other half of your soul. If you give him a name, he’ll talk in plain Japanese. People discover they can see their Kri after they’ve been through something really painful or scary. Did something like that happen to you tonight?” 

Shinichi thought about everything that had happened earlier that night. Witnessing a murder wasn’t terribly unusual for him and it wasn’t really scary in the moment because he was always so distracted looking for evidence. But being bashed on the head with something heavy, and being poisoned (if he hadn’t hallucinated that too) probably counted. Both were definitely painful. Still, a figment of his imagination would know all of that and he didn’t feel like saying it aloud. He shrugged instead.

“Are you sure, kid?” the cop asked, looking concerned and disbelieving. “You don’t have to tell me about it, but I just want to know if something happened.” Shinichi tried to stare through him, rather than acknowledge his hallucinations again. Eventually, the cop frowned, stood up, and retreated to his partner to talk quietly again.

Well, since his hallucinations were not seeming to go anywhere on their own, Shinichi decided he really ought to get himself out of this alley, to somewhere safer. He stuck close to buildings and shadows, carefully feeling his way along since he didn’t trust his senses on what was real or not. He felt remarkably clear-minded, despite his still-aching head, but the hallucinations weren’t going away, and if his brain was this screwed up, he couldn’t be waiting on an imaginary ambulance either.

He heard the policemen starting to panic behind him, when they realized he was out of sight, and started running, hoping that at least putting physical distance between himself and his hallucinations would help them to fade.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

“…And Agasa-hakase said he would be very grateful if we would take Conan-kun in,” Ran finished explaining.

Kogoro looked at the mysterious child who had been at his doorstep when he’d gotten the phone call hiring him for a kidnapping case. The kid who had chased him into a taxi, followed by a very flustered Ran, and later had run off and found the other, missing, child, ignoring all possible threat to himself. The surprisingly small child who had been Awakened before tonight, and who apparently now was being foisted from household to household. Kogoro might not know what had happened to this child, but tonight had gone better than any of his other recent cases, even if the kid had nearly gotten himself beaten up. “Of course he can stay, he’s like a good luck charm,” Kogoro answered, following with an over-cheerful laugh that nearly turned genuine at how much the response made Ran’s face light up.

Isamu nodded proudly, echoing Kogoro’s enthusiasm, then bounded over to the kid and nuzzled his cheek. “Welcome to the family, kid.”

Conan smiled a small, tight smile that barely reached his eyes, and nodded stiffly back at the billowing fiery lion, but didn’t respond verbally. Still, that was a friendlier response than he’d exhibited upon meeting the lion earlier, when Conan had locked eyes briefly with Isamu in the taxi, froze, and then spent the remainder of the ride looking anywhere except at his or Kogoro’s Kri. That was an impressive feat considering he also managed to look Kogoro directly in the eye while he was demanding why Ran and a strange child were there. Kogoro considered the lack of avoidance progress. He didn’t love the child or his owl either – why would he, they were still strangers to each other – but he was willing to let them stay in his apartment. It was enough that they didn’t hate one another.

Looking wistful, Conan turned back to Ran, who was rushing around to try to prepare a space for him to sleep. That was wise of him, actually. Better to not discuss Kri in front of Ran, when their words would just get garbled between her ears and her brain and she would try to have a different conversation with them than Kogoro needed to have with Conan.


Kogoro sat on his bed and watched Conan settle himself on the hastily-prepared futon in the corner. He exchanged a glance with Isamu, who obligingly bounded forward to ask. “Hey, Kid. Conan-kun, right?” Conan met the lion’s eyes cautiously, then glanced at Kogoro, who did his best to nod encouragingly, despite being impatient already for the conversation to be over. Isamu was going to fish for the details of Conan’s Awakening under the guise of teaching him about Kri. It was a solid strategy, which they had hastily agreed upon in the bathroom away from listening ears, because an Itsa soul, especially such a young one, would most likely be distracted by the promise of knowledge and would be less wary of opening up in return. Unfortunately, Kogoro was so familiar with the Spirit Spiral that the conversations inevitably bored him. Regardless, Kogoro tried to keep that off his face, so he wouldn’t sabotage the conversation before it even started. 

Conan finally turned back to Isamu and nodded carefully. “My name’s Isamu. I know it’s kind of personal, but have you been Awakened long? It’s rare to see an Awakened kid, you know. I’m just curious,” Isamu fibbed.

Conan glanced defensively at his own Kri, sharing a long look with the bird, before shrugging at Isamu. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he said with a quiet finality. 

“I only ask because if you’ve been Awakened for a long time, I don’t have to teach you about the Spirit Spiral,” Isamu hurriedly assured Conan. “But if I’m the first Kri you’ve met besides your own, I feel obligated to explain it all to you. You seem like the sort who would be interested.”

“Tell me what you know, I guess,” Conan grumbled, his face showing a slowly-growing openness. The offer of information was well-placed. Conan’s response was also a very informative answer for Kogoro. Most Itsa kids Kogoro had met, if they had heard of something, would scoff in someone’s face at the suggestion they might not know something, ready to show off how much they knew instead. Either this kid had literally no one in his life who was Awakened and had tried to explain about Kri to him (that didn’t make sense at all, Agasa was Awakened, and didn’t Ran say the boy had been staying with him?) or he had been so recently Awakened that no one had had time to explain more than the basics. If Conan had gone through something painful enough for Awakening that recently, it was no surprise at all that he was acting so aloof, especially when confronted with strangers. Kogoro hoped the trauma had been witnessing someone else get hurt. Considering Conan didn’t seem injured, anything else so recent that Agasa and his Kri hadn’t explained anything to the boy probably meant interpersonal conflict, and Kogoro did not intend to get his family involved with anything like that. 

Isamu bounded over to Kogoro’s desk, with Conan cautiously following behind and the owl riding on his shoulder. Isamu grabbed some paper and a black pen, and started sketching the spiral – an empty circle in the middle with three spikes coming out of the bottom, and seven tendrils curling around each other on top. Kogoro didn’t have to see it from across the room to know what his Kri was drawing – he’d seen the Spirit Spiral more times than he could count, and often marveled at how a Sleeper’s eyes would skim right past it and never register the design.

Isamu spoke as he drew. “First of all, there are seven common elements and three alignments – I’d color them the way they ought to be, but I’ve only got this pen handy, and you can do that later. Kri usually have one of each, though some, like me, have two elements,” Isamu began explaining, and Kogoro took a moment to admire yet again how Isamu’s elements complemented each other. A gentle wind bringing oxygen to the ever-burning fire. “I’m Feri-Wados myself, that’s my elements, and a Necros alignment.

"Now, don’t let anyone tell you Necros means evil," Isamu continued, and Kogoro noticed Conan's raised eyebrow. "It just means, if the building was burning down, my Kogoro would get his family out first, before strangers, and definitely before a book of medical advances, even if they might be used to save more people in the future. Or if you look at western fantasy stories, he would be the last person volunteering to slay a rampaging dragon, not because he doesn’t care about the damage it causes to the countryside, but because what would his family do without him if he failed?” Conan was listening attentively, soaking in all the information. It was definitely the first time he’d heard any of this. “Your Kri, who you haven’t introduced to us, but I’ll forgive the slight, seems like he’s Palan instead*. A lot of people claim that’s ‘light’ as opposed to Necros’s ‘dark’, which isn’t quite right. But it does mean you’re probably the sort to try to sacrifice yourself for the greater good and damn the consequences, right?”

Kogoro cleared his throat pointedly at Isamu for swearing in front of a child, and the lion flattened his ears, appropriately chastised. If the kid stayed around for a while and picked up his or Isamu’s swearing, people would give him grief about it to no end, as the father-figure. There was a beat of silence, but right as Isamu took a breath to continue speaking, Conan stated, “His name is Sherlock.” The sentence came with confidence that was only surprising when contrasted with his previous timid near-silence.

“Sherlock-kun, good to meet you,” Isamu greeted, good naturedly. “You don’t seem to talk much, do you?” he teased.

“I speak when necessary,” Sherlock answered cooly, ruffling his feathers up and shuffling closer to Conan’s neck, seeming shier than the kid himself. The owl's voice was much deeper than Kogoro expected, considering most Kri's voices had the same resonance as their main soul's. The voice seemed almost familiar too, but he couldn't quite place it. He shrugged off the thought. Lots of people had similar voices.

Isamu took the hint to back off. “Well, anyway, as I was saying, Palan and Necros, they tend to always assume the other is being selfish. You’d probably call Kogoro selfish for putting his family’s lives above strangers’ if it comes to that but we’d call a Palan dad selfish for throwing his life away for the glory** and the ‘greater good’ with no regard for his family that he’s supposed to be providing for. It’s important to see that neither one is wrong though. We may have opposite priorities but that just makes us individuals, you understand?”

Conan nodded so seriously that Kogoro thought for a moment he really understood, but then he reminded himself it was ridiculously unlikely that a kid that young could truly understand the sentiment – most kids had very black and white thinking about morality. Still, it was good to put the idea in Conan’s head sooner rather than later that Necros wasn’t “evil”. If he believed all the Palan-written sources he was likely to find, he would come home one day terrified of Kogoro for having a Necros soul, and that was a confrontation Kogoro was happy to avoid. The Suzuki girl had come to him in tears once after having been harassed by classmates for having a Necros soul, and it had been enough of an ordeal to calm her down despite being able to reassure her that she knew she wasn’t evil.

“What’s the third alignment?” Conan asked. Kogoro glanced up, startled out of his train of thought, and realized that Isamu looked similarly tongue-tied for some reason. Since neither of them answered immediately, Conan repeated more clearly, “You said there were three alignments, including Necros and Palan. What’s the third one?”

“That’s right,” Isamu agreed, having already recovered. “The three alignments are Necros,” he gestured with his tail to the spike representing Necros. Conan squinted consideringly at the flaming tuft on Isamu’s tail, which was not even scorching the paper. “Palan,” Isamu pointed again, “and Dorn,” he stated, tail sweeping finally to the middle spike. “Dorn is pretty balanced. Considers both sides. Usually both Necros and Palan souls are impatient with Dorn ones for not acting fast enough or caring strongly enough. But I guess that sort values the balance, huh?”

“Sounds reasonable,” Conan mumbled.

Kogoro couldn’t hold back a snort of laughter at the mature phrase coming from such a small child’s mouth. Conan glared at him (but hey, emotion – even irritation – was better than how he’d been basically shutting Kogoro out all evening. It was easier to react to). He kept glaring long enough that Kogoro finally explained, “You’re such an Itsa.” It wasn’t really a helpful explanation, since Isamu hadn’t gotten around to explaining the elements yet, but Conan would understand eventually. Not tonight, though; the review was boring Kogoro to death. “That’s enough for now. I’m tired. You can learn about the elements in the morning.” Isamu obediently returned to Kogoro’s side, curling up immediately on the spare pillow that Ran thought Kogoro used to support his back. 

To Conan’s credit, despite the disappointment that flickered visibly across his face, he didn’t whine or complain. He just sighed heavily, and took himself back to the futon, curling up with his back firmly to Kogoro and Isamu. Kogoro sighed too, much more quietly, as he observed his new ward. Conan continued to be a surprisingly mature child. Kogoro just hoped there wouldn’t turn out to be a catch.