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Fall into Flying

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Case 1 – The Compound

 

“He’s been getting too close. Too many coincidences. It’s time we put him to sleep for good.”

“Yes, sir. Where should we set it up?”

“The research compound at the docks. It should be perfect.”

 

Conan flew around the corner, crouching even as he turned to look for his pursuer while backing into the space behind a large, dusty crate. He froze when he bumped into what was obviously another person and whipped his head back around, hand twitching toward his watch.

“KID!” he whispered, eyes wide in the darkness. His hand fell away from the tranquilizer’s trigger.

KID, who was peering around the opposite corner of their shared hiding place, glanced at Conan over his shoulder, unfazed. “Quiet, Tantei-kun, you’ll get yourself caught,” he whispered back with a grin. They both turned their attention back to looking around the crate.

“What are you doing here?” Conan asked stiffly.

“I have some business with your friends.”

KID felt Conan tense behind him, could sense him inching for the watch again. “Calm down, Tantei-kun. Do you really think I’d ever be on their side? I’m honestly insulted.”

It took an extra second or two, but Conan abandoned the watch again. KID had sounded unusually serious and maybe even a little angry, the emotion coming through strangely genuine. But instinct was instinct and Conan felt no guilt for reacting the way he had. “Then what are you here for?” he asked.

They both fell silent as soft footsteps neared and someone came into the room. Conan could feel KID tensing, like the spring of a trap being compressed, all confidence and self-assurance. But the person kept moving, passing through the room, and KID relaxed again.

“I’m looking for someone,” he answered after a few moments. “It’s rare that these people get sloppy enough for me to be able to find one of their bases. I’m just taking the chance.”

A bitter smile found its way to Conan’s face. “Happy to help,” he muttered.

“What’s that?”

“I’m pretty sure you were able to find this place because they’d set it up as a trap for me – to lure me in. Well, not me exactly. They were probably expecting the old man since I got him involved.”

KID paused a moment, extremely tempted to ask right then and there, once and for all, how Shinichi and the Organization were involved, but he resisted. He put on a grin. “Did you fall for it?” he asked instead.

“Shut up.” The response lacked bite because at that moment, another two people, this time armed and clearly looking for something to shoot, walked in and started a preliminary search of the room.

Conan chanced a look back at KID and choked on his surprise when he saw KID facing him, leaning in close with a sharp grin and a finger laid over his lips, instructing Conan to keep quiet even as a gloved hand clamped over the boy’s mouth. Then KID picked him up, tucking him under his arm, and paused, watching the two guards for the right opportunity before stepping out of their hiding place. Conan’s heart shot into double-time, expecting a confrontation, but instead he was amazed when KID proceeded to move silently into every blind spot between the two until he and Conan were out of the room and running down a hallway.

He didn’t stop until they came to a short side hallway where the lights were off and the floor was slick with dust. KID moved into a corner and crouched down among some flattened cardboard boxes that had been left leaning against a wall, setting Conan down beside him.

“So,” he started casually, as if they had never been interrupted. “If you knew it was a trap, why did you come?”

Conan considered him silently for a moment before answering. “I want to catch them, of course.”

KID’s eyes narrowed. “Then you wouldn’t have come alone. You would have called the police. There’s more to it than that.”

His tone left no room for argument and Conan’s expression grew serious as he met KID’s stare. His throat felt tight but he forced the words out. “Look, you obviously already know… that I’m actually Kudou Shinichi.” It was harder than it should have been to say it. He’d almost told Ran so many times, but actually saying it now, in this place, still scared him somehow. “These guys… they’re the ones that did this to me, and they’re my only shot at getting back to normal.”

“And until then, no one can know what’s happened to you,” KID concluded with more sympathy than Conan felt he should have been able to manage in this situation. Conan nodded anyway.

“Until the Organization is taken down.”

KID watched him for a few seconds, his eyes sharp and critical until he suddenly grinned. “Well then, Tantei-kun, I think I’d like to help.”

Conan squinted suspiciously at him in the poor lighting. “…You never told me why you’re here,” he said, not buying it for an instant.

“Sure I did,” KID returned easily. “I’m looking for someone.”

“Who?” Conan demanded, and KID was analyzing him again. Conan had to hold back an exasperated sigh at the thief’s erratic changes in humor.

“His codename is Snake,” KID eventually answered and the words were cautious as he watched for Conan’s reaction. “He’s been trying to get rid of me for a while now.”

“Get rid of you?” Conan’s hand came up to his chin out of unconscious habit as he considered that. “Because you’re looking for something,” he came up with. “And they don’t want you to find it.”

The look that earned him was somewhere between suspicious and impressed. “Seems we both know a little more than we should. It’s something like that,” he admitted.

There came the sound of general commotion, loud and chaotic from somewhere down the hallways, and KID grinned, sharp and wicked.

“Well, it’s been fun, Tantei-kun, but that’s my cue.” He stood and gave a cheerful wave. “Try not to get into too much trouble!” There was a large explosion of blue smoke and Conan flinched away on instinct, coughing lightly. KID was gone.

“Dammit,” he hissed under his breath, ducking back down as a group of people in lab coats ran past the hallway where he was hidden. He waited for several minutes, listening, but the disruption seemed more distant now and concentrated on one side of the building. The other side, where everyone was running from, seemed quiet. He let out a sigh.

I might end up regretting this, he thought, and he took off running down the silent halls, away from the commotion. He was careful at first, watching and listening, ready to hide or fight if anyone appeared, but the place seemed suddenly empty.

It didn’t take him long to run across a lab labeled Research and Development. He jerked to a stop and stared up at the door standing slightly ajar. Clenching his jaw, he pushed inside.

The counters in the lab were filled with a mess of glass beakers and flasks, burners left on at low flame, and puddles of strong-smelling chemicals bleeding across the surfaces to run into carefully measured piles of powder. He dragged a metal stool over to one of the islands in the middle of the room and climbed up onto it to get a better look. He almost fell off again when he spotted the empty pill casings piled in the middle of the counter.

Is… Is this…? His hand was reaching out for them before he even realized it, but a distant blast and accompanying rumble toppled him off of the stool. He yelped, taking a fruitless swipe at the counter to try to catch himself before hitting the floor hard, the stool clattering down beside him. He stayed down and covered his head as a few glass containers dropped over the edges of the islands as well and shattered on the tiles around him.

“Wh-What the hell was–?”

Another blast, closer this time, cut him off and he pushed himself to his feet and ran for the door. Thick smoke was already filling the hallway outside and a third explosion knocked him off of his feet.

“Not good,” he gritted out, scrambling up again and dashing back into the lab. He squared himself up with the windows and released a soccer ball from his belt, dialed up the power on his shoe, and sent the ball blasting forward, shattering the glass. The ball sailed far into the distance beyond and he was running after it in almost the same motion as the kick, but it wasn’t quick enough. A crashing wave of heat and debris caught him in the back as the opposite wall was blown out, throwing him forward into the concrete wall below the broken windows. He crumpled to the floor, trying desperately to move, but his body would not comply. His eyes were cloudy with smoke, dust, and pain but he caught sight of one blinking red light flashing its silent warning from where it was fixed to the bottom of a lab table.

Everything went black.

 

When Conan woke, it was to cold night air rushing around him with only a faint smell of burning from his own scorched clothes and body. He struggled to open his eyes, lids sticky with cool blood, and saw the clean white and blue of KID’s clothes through cracked lenses. KID’s hold on him tightened slightly.

“Are you awake, Tantei-kun?”

It took him a few extra moments to process the question, and when he did, he didn’t bother answering. His head felt like it was splitting. Another few moments and he realized they were flying, and so took extra care as he twisted in KID’s grasp to get a look at the ground below. The compound was an impressive sea of fire.

“What happened?” he croaked.

“I… might have stolen something from the ringleader of this setup, and he might have overreacted when he noticed it was gone.”

They touched down, light and silent on a dock nearby, and KID set Conan carefully on his feet. He staggered slightly before finding his balance. “Nn… What… did you steal?” he asked.

“Hey–” KID said, ignoring the question and moving like he wanted to help – like he was worried Conan was about to collapse – but he pulled the motion up short.

“Did you find that guy…? Snake?”

KID’s face seemed to be stuck on “worried” but it went unnoticed. Conan’s eyes were unfocused and his skin had a distinctly unhealthy grey cast to it.

“No,” KID answered, never taking his eyes from the child detective. “He wasn’t here, but I did find this.” He knelt and pressed a flash drive into Conan’s hand, closing small fingers firmly around it. “It’s a full analysis of the poison they used on you. There’s no sample, but with this you shouldn’t need one, right?”

Conan had frozen, eyes suddenly clear, staring down at his and KID’s hands until KID let go and left him gazing at the flash drive clutched in his fist. Then he was falling and KID lunged forward, snatching him into his arms before he could hit the ground. He stayed crouched on one knee and ran careful fingers through Conan’s hair. The white glove came away blotched with fresh blood and he swore softly under his breath.

A short time later, a shadow lighted silently upon the sidewalk outside of a nearby hospital and ghosted inside with little more than the soft rustle of cloth. A child appeared, laid on a couch in the lobby, then KID disappeared into the night.

 

The next time Conan opened his eyes, he was lying in a hospital bed with bandages on what felt like every inch of him. It took him a good couple of seconds to remember what had happened and to figure out how he’d probably gotten there. Then he remembered the flash drive.

Conan jumped out of the bed and immediately fell to his knees, dizzy from the sudden movement, but the moment his head cleared he was up and running for the chair in the corner where his clothes had been left, cursing his stiff and sore body. He picked through his things quickly, but the flash drive was nowhere to be seen. Not only that – every gadget he’d had on him was gone as well, and while “Conan’s” cell phone was there, Shinichi’s was gone.

“What…?” he breathed. What the hell happened? He stared down at his clothes for a few seconds more before the creeping sense of loss in the pit of his stomach finally got to him and he slammed his fist into the wall with what little strength he had. I had it in my hand!

“Now, now, Tantei-kun, remember, you’re injured.” Conan whirled at the voice to see KID grinning by the now open window beside his bed. “Glad to see you up and about,” he said.

“KID… What happened to–?”

KID produced the flash drive from nowhere at all and tossed it to him. Startled, Conan bobbled it clumsily in bandaged hands.

“I thought it would be safer with me until you woke up,” KID said. He proceeded to pull Conan’s bowtie, belt, watch, broken glasses, suspenders, cell phone, and Junior Detective badge out of thin air and pile them one after the other on the bed. Conan gave him a questioning look and KID shrugged. “If I found things like this on a kid, I’d be pretty suspicious. As soon as you handle them you can tell they’re rigged.”

Conan silently agreed. “Thanks,” he said.

KID’s smile softened unexpectedly. “Good luck, Tantei-kun.” Then he vanished through the window.