Rolling Snake Eyes (Two Craps Two)

Typhoon Marilyn will make landfall at approximately 1:45 pm came up in disjointed, blocky patches when Kaito refreshed his weather app. Local wind measurements and a lot of little raincloud icons followed, covering the map from here to Nagoya, and beyond should Kaito bother to scroll out. He didn't bother, though; it would be a swirling pixelated rainbow on radar all the way from Kyoto to Tokyo, and for hundreds of kilometers out to sea. He'd stockpiled convenience store onigiri and water in his room, even though the hotel's kitchen was brimming with the same supplies.

The hotel was a tiny thing, a bed and breakfast really, made from a pair of old townhouses at the edge of the old mountain village. Some creative spark had put an actual floor in where one house's kitchen and storage had been, and ringed the sunken space with comfortable bench seating and mounds of pillows. It wasn't ideal to wait out the coming storm, not with the slow wifi and close quarters with Meitantei, but it was cozy and warm, and didn't even have the usual decorative iron f-f-thing in the tea kettle's traditional suspension chain over the hearth.

Maybe Kaito could distract Meitantei with a few games. Poker could be fun...

"Excuse me." Kaito blinked up at Mouri Ran, a certain tension at the corners of her eyes making her next question unnecessary. "Have you seen a little boy? About six, wears glasses?"

"No..." Kaito replied, thankful for his gangly, square-faced disguise. The hotel wasn't that big, what was Meitantei doing...?

Mouri-san sighed. "Well. Thank you, anyway. Sorry to bother you." And she turned away, polite expression vanishing as she did. "That boy," she grumbled in exasperation, so quietly Kaito almost didn't hear her. "Usually he's always underfoot when Otousan's working-"

Working. Present tense. A case in progress without Meitantei anywhere in sight...?

Slowly, Kaito tucked his phone away, gaze dragging itself inexorably to the glass doors to the parking lot, the pouring rain already starting to blow sideways, and the nearly invisible gap of the hiking trail just on the other side of the road.

"Oh Benten no."


Runnels of water were burbling down the steep slope already, the trail nothing but ankle-deep mud and fast-spreading puddles as Kaito struggled up deep into the autumn-gold forest. His poncho flapped in the rising wind despite the rope he'd looped around his waist, and the hood was staying on more by luck he couldn't spare than by design.

He really hoped he wouldn't need the flashlight he'd tucked into his pocket at the last minute, but the daylight was already little better than murky twilight, and the canopy above did nothing to help - it was that perfect spot in the season where nothing green remained, but the leaves were still up there, blocking the light far better than they did the driving rain.

Something deep in the forest cracked, then creaked over with a far-too-close rustling crash. Kaito somehow managed to keep running, ignoring the sound except to send up a quick prayer that Conan had been nowhere near that tree.


Up and down, around hairpin turns and strange wavery bits that looked completely unreal, the trail threaded itself between overflowing rice paddies jutting at odd angles towards the sky, and through open meadows where Kaito very nearly had to crawl to keep moving forward. A few cutout cliff faces were little more than walls of flowing mud, and all that let Kaito keep his footing were the rough pavers underfoot, too uneven and widely spaced to not become makeshift stepping stones.

"Meitantei!" -ei... -ei... -ei... echoed despite the buffeting wind as he kept calling, every hundred meters or so, and hoped that he wouldn't find Conan at all... that Conan was safe and sound and completely unaware back at the hotel. He'd rather end up miserably sick and yelling at the kid than lose him.

So of course, almost as soon as he finished that thought, he rounded a curve that led into a steep staircase, and saw a tiny bundle crumpled on the bottom step. "Mei-" Kaito all but hurled himself down the stairs, the chain handrail like ice in his grip, and landed on his knees at Conan's side.

No damaged spine, no head injury, no broken bones- Kaito rolled Conan limply to his back, and very nearly felt his heart stop. Conan's left arm was swollen nearly twice the size it should be, his watch missing and the sleeve torn completely open, and covered in trickling, drying blood. Kaito wiped the taut, too-cold skin with rainwater until he found the twinned needle marks oozing fresh blood, just a couple centimeters up from where the watch would've protected him.


"Gods dammit, Kudou, does Benten hate you that much?" Kid asked, even as he bundled Conan under his poncho and into his lap, tucking the arm into the curl of Conan's body. Too limp, too cold, not even shivering... not that shivering would be much good, muscle contractions would spread the venom...

"Nn...?" One blue eye opened, peering blearily at Kid past mud- and water-streaked glasses. "Who-?"

"Who else would it be, Meitantei?" Kid answered in his own voice.

"... unno..." Conan mumbled, sluggishly shifting further into the heat of Kid's body. "M'luck... v'mouth..."

Crap. Crap crap crap crap- that was a codename, as if Conan's life wasn't enough of a mess already- "I am strictly a non-alcoholic kaitou, promise." Though he might well want a drink by the time he got off this blasted mountain. "Here, take the flashlight," he said, curling Conan's tiny, cold fingers around the handle and flicking it on. It didn't cast much light, blocked mostly by the folds of the poncho keeping the meitantei mostly... well, not dry, but unrained on more... but at least it was something for Conan to focus on. "And up we go," Kid continued with a falsely cheery huff, suiting words to action. "Try to stay relaxed and awake, okay? Did you see what bit you?"


Mamushi. Okay. Kid knew that one, and for being one of the most poisonous in Japan (how did this sort of luck keep happening to Conan?!), its venom worked slow. Even at Conan's tiny size, they should have time to get to a hospital, and the viper was common enough that they'd all have antivenin.

Kid continued to ask questions, Conan answering in varying levels of slur as he retraced his steps. The culprit (who'd used a cast-iron kettle to bash in the head of one of the village's museum docents; Kid had to bite back meitantei you idiot, you gave chase to that violent of a killer on your own?!) was darted and tied up, on the path so he was well out of reach of the snakes, because of course that was Conan's primary concern after getting the guy. And of course Conan had gone and very athletically used his soccer ball to knock the guy senseless in the first place, and then pushed through the pain to tie him up with both hands, and then deduced that no one knew to come get them off the mountain and tried to hike back himself, nevermind how much he was circulating the venom faster doing all of that...

"You have got to be fucking kidding me."

Where just half an hour ago there'd been a wall of flowing mud and stepping-stone pavers, now looked like a giant had scooped out a chunk of mountainside. The new gorge was fifty meters of loose clumps of dirt, broken trees jutting up splintery and sharp as swords, and more streaming mud.

"We're not getting past that," Kid finished, voice heavy as his stomach. He wouldn't dare even if it were just him, not with footing like that and winds that would turn him into kaitou kebab if he had the glider. With the meitantei...

No. No, they'd never make it.

Conan made a soft sound, tiny fingers plucking at Kid's shirt. "The guy... he must've been going somewhere..."

It clicked. Of course. The man Conan was chasing. Who would run off into the mountains with a typhoon about to hit if he didn't expect someplace to wait the storm and police out? "Right." Inari please. "Let's hope my luck is operating rather than yours, hm?"

"Yeah." Conan gave him a small, tight smile, eyes marginally more alert and his face nearly white where it was visible between the front flaps of Kid's poncho. "Stay on the trail. He won't have someplace that needs to go through underbrush to get to."

"Trust me, I want nowhere near that underbrush."

Retracing their steps felt like defeat. Going further, climbing higher and farther away from the hospital Conan needed... There had to be something, there just had to.

Every turn, every rise, there could be another landslide blocking their path. Just two turns, though, brought Kid to the well-hogtied culprit, on his side in the thick mud and completely soaked through. There was a crushed swath through the underbrush near him, under a plainly visible red-on-white sign warning for snakes...

"He threw you in on purpose."

"... Yeah."

Kid dropped an extra gas bomb on the guy's head as they passed. He'd survive - Mouri Kogoro got darted while drunk fairly often, which was close enough with the drug reactions - and Kid wasn't quite sure he'd care if the bastard got hypothermia. ... He couldn't carry both the culprit and Conan, anyway.

Five minutes later, Conan made an unmistakable throaty grunt, struggling weakly, and Kid just barely managed to get him down and bent over the ground before he threw up.

Headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, collapse or convulsions, one page had said. Renal failure, visual disturbances, palsy, on another, which had links to a specific toxin in the venom that caused hypothermia, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest.

"Any other symptoms?" Kid asked as Conan spit out the last traces of bile and let him splash water against his mouth.

"... Kinda glowing," Conan admitted. "Dizzy."

"Tell me if anything else pops up." The boy already had heart problems, if the way he clutched at his chest when he reverted was any indication- he had scar tissue, definitely... oh Inari what if the venom reacted badly with whatever that was? Kid let him catch his breath, holding a clean handkerchief out in the rain to soak up as much water as possible, then gave the sodden bundle to Conan as he set off once more. "And suck on that. Dehydration's a problem at your size."

Kid tried to keep Conan as level as possible as he continued to climb - maybe if he kept the vertigo to a minimum, he could keep the vomiting down? - and ask questions, random comments and thought puzzles meant to just keep Conan responding.

Inari, I swear I'll bribe Hakuba-kun's Baaya personally to make you that chocolate cake of hers. Entire thing on your altar. Just please let meitantei survive!

After what felt like hours, with the light fading fast and the storm trying to wash Kid off the mountain entirely, the trees opened up into a broad meadow. The sudden rush of wind drove Kid to his knees, but as he pushed himself back up, he saw it: the blocky shape of an old farmhouse, all closed up and dark, right next to the swirling brown river of the path.

"... Thank you, Inari," Kid muttered, stumbling once he got close enough the building itself blocked the wind. He sloshed the last couple of steps to the door, popped the cheap padlock, and slid it open on a well-oiled guiderail. The meager dregs of daylight streamed for a moment around his shadow, casting faint gray light on several long, empty wooden tables and benches lined up across an earthen floor, and nothing but shadows past that.

Kid reached for a light switch that - please Inari please - should be there, and his questing fingers found it to his left. Three old-fashioned lanterns lit up in the rafters, chasing the deeper shadows away. There was a raised living room proper just on the other side of the tables, with an traditional inset hearth and hanging tea kettle, and a cabinet against the wall on the far side of that.

He dropped his poncho and toed off his shoes at the step up onto the living room floor, then peeled off his wet socks, then set Conan down on the single tatami next to the hearth. There was still kindling laid and ready to be lit, thank all seven lucky gods. He dropped one of his flashbombs in to light it, paused squinting past the bright light just long enough to be sure it caught, then hurried to the cabinet while blinking spots out of his eyes.

Tea, cups, hard candies, small round straw mats, radio and first-aid kit. Kid flicked the power button for the radio, getting beautiful beautiful static, and opened the kit. It held a neatly-packed set of band-aids and ace bandages, hand sanitizer, antiseptics, a couple of epi-pens, and, sitting alone in its own plastic compartment - one single-dose syringe in a sealed plastic bag marked with the same "caution: snakes" sign, bright red on white and captioned "mamushi". Anti-venin, one dose, with its expiration date... tomorrow.

It was the spots from his flashbomb making his eyes wet, really it was.

Inari, you may be laughing but I'll take it.

Conan was completely unconscious when Kid scooted up next to him, the precious syringe held with more care than any gem in one hand. Poking his unbitten arm got him no response. But the meitantei was at least still breathing and not convulsing, so Kid tapped up a vein on his right arm and injected the dose. The pinch of the needle got no response either.

Next step, wet clothes. Kid's sweater was damp from Conan's body, and the cuffs were completely wet halfway to the elbow, but this identity had a thing for flannel buttondowns underneath and most of it was dry. Goosebumps prickled up on Kid's chest and back in the cool air, as he stripped off Conan's wet things and burritoed him into the flannel.

Medicine. Dry clothes. Heat source. Now to check out that radio...

"Moshi moshi," Kid said into the mike, dropping into Shin'ichi's voice. The mask had an obvious line over his collarbone, where the flannel would've hidden it and the sweater's boat neck wouldn't. He'd have to get rid of it eventually anyway, so... Shin'ichi. "Moshi moshi, I'm at the tourist teahouse up in the pass? There's an emergency, over. Moshi moshi-"

"Hiker's teahouse," crackled statickily in, and Kid could've kissed the woman. "What is your emergency? Over."

"Three problems. Found the missing kid - you guys know there's a seven-year-old missing from the hotel, right? He got bit by a mamushi. There's a murderer knocked out and tied up near kilometer marker 2.7. And the trail's washed out at kilometer marker 2. I found the last dose of antivenin and injected the kid, but he's out cold..."

The radio crackled as something on the far end thunked. Then the operator's voice returned. "I've got someone calling 119 now. We'll get to you guys in time," she added firmly. "Tell me what provisions you've got, I know we don't keep much there."

"I haven't looked around much..." But there was only the one cabinet and no second story to the farmhouse; as large as it had looked from outside, the upper half was all soot-blackened rafters under thick thatching that creaked in the wind. "Looks like tea, hard candies, plenty of clean water," even if he'd have to put kettles out in the rain to get it, "a fire," and maps to use if they ran low on wood, "about thirty straw sitting mats, and a first aid kit..."

He went on to describe the kit's contents, then Conan's symptoms to pass on to the 119 operator, and came back to their clothes drying around the hearth. "... And a flashlight in case the power goes."

"Good. Very good, ah..." she paused. "What's your name?"

"Kudou." Meitantei was going to kill him, if Mouri-san didn't get to him first. "Kudou Shin'ichi. The boy's actually my little cousin, we weren't expecting to run into each other..."

"Okay. Kudou... kun?" When Kid didn't protest the suffix, she continued, "Now, you said it was kilometer marker 2 where the trail got washed out?"

"Yeah. Looked like a landslide, it's at least fifty meters wide..." Kid's eyes landed on the tiny lump of meitantei, backlit by the weak fire. The wailing of the storm seemed to rattle the roof even more loudly for a long moment, and he swallowed thickly, his grip tightening on the mike. "If... if you guys try... and find it's too dangerous... please." The sea of broken, spiky timber downslope flashed in his memory. "Don't keep going. The murderer's already killed one person; if innocent people died trying to help us, I don't think we could ever forgive ourselves."

A great clattering answered that, a faint and staticky "Ojousan-!" and then-

"Shin'ichi no baka!"

Kid eeped and fumbled the mike. "R-r-ran!" he stuttered, barely managing not to say 'Mouri' or add a polite suffix. "Look, um, now is not the time-"

"It's never the time! You always-"

"I know it's never the time!" Kid hissed back. He had to get her off the line before she broke his cover, or he'd end up having a significant conversation with her and Conan would kill him. "I'm sorry, okay, but this really is not the time, my little cousin is dying slowly at my feet and I! Can't! Do! Anything!" He choked as the words actually processed.

"... Oh." Mouri-san sounded as though she'd just been slapped. She pretty much had. "Oh, Shin'ichi..."

"I'm going to go lie down with him," Kid said, stuffing everything down where he didn't have to think about it. "He needs the warmth."


"I'll radio back if he gets worse."

He tore off his mask, took four of the heavy kettles with him, and levered them out into the rain one by one using the hook to hang them over the hearth. Then he curled up around Conan and waited.

Hours passed, and the radio crackled with updates as he tried to keep the two of them warm. Construction and disaster crews finding the landslide, police and paramedics in temporary shelters behind them, plans to send a runner ahead... Kid winced, since that wasn't going to work at all, but he'd already begged them to be careful and not be afraid to quit. He wasn't going to waste the heat doing that again.

What little light seeped in through the cracks in the shutters soon vanished completely; the howling wind and pounding rain continued unchanged. Kid wrapped his feet and Conan's thickly in bandages warmed by the fire, and checked the clothing draped on the other three sides of the hearth whenever he got too sore to stay lying down. Everything was starting to stiffen as it dried, but at least it was drying.

On his fifth trip, he brushed a finger over Conan's lips, then pinched at his right hand. The lips were dry and underfilled; the pinched skin snapped right back into place. He was probably thirsty, then, but not dangerously so, and Kid soaked his handkerchief again and tried to get Conan to suck at it.

"Meitantei... come on, drink the nice water, don't make me do choo-choo noises at you..."

Finally, a response. Even if it was only unconscious recognition of water to be had.

It could've been nine o'clock or it could've been midnight when something thumped at the door.

Can't be the runner, Kid thought, up and sliding across the floor on thief-silent feet, heart in his throat. Can't be. He's holed up somewhere in the mess of the landslide, if he's lucky-

The snake guy. It'd been hours, and the snake guy would've long since woken up and could've struggled loose. Must've struggled loose.

He had one more flashbomb, which would blind himself as much as the snake guy, and do absolutely no good if the snake guy had been enraged crazy enough to somehow bring one of the snakes with him... a couple silk flowers, still in their hidden pockets in the sleeves of the flannel wrapped around Conan, because of course those were useful now... deck of cards, maybe he could shoot the guy in the face with a round of 52-pickup, it'd get the guy to close his eyes on instinct, and Kid was really grasping for straws here...

Another pair of knocks, and Kid's fingers clenched on his flashbomb. If he threw it on the guy's face... he might not survive. But. Meitantei...

The door juddered, and then slid open, driving rain blowing in sideways around a massive, neon-coated figure.

"Kudou Shin'ichi?"

Kid gaped, knees suddenly going watery and the flashbomb tumbling back into the depths of his pocket. Snake guy wouldn't know that name. "You- the runner?!" he got out. "You made it?!"

A smile quirked on the man's half-hidden face. "I've been training for Ninja Warrior. Kaku Akio, paramedic." And he stepped inside, pushing his hood back to reveal short-cropped hair and a face entirely unlike the snake guy's. Removing his coat, he slung a massive backpack down onto one of the tables and began unpacking plastic-sealed bundles. One flat, dark bundle, he pushed towards Kid, topping it with a trio of smaller, fist-sized ones (two dark, one white). "Dry clothes and food. Go get changed and eat while I check the boy, sound good?"

"... I owe Inari another chocolate cake in your name. Conan's this way."

"I owe Ebisu half my hazard pay, myself." As Kid stripped and changed into a stiff but wonderfully dry samue, and found the white package was thick wool socks, Kaku unwrapped Conan and did medic-y things. "Your perp's woken up, by the way," he said absently as he stuck Conan with another dose of antivenin. "Nice job on those knots."

Kid hmphed into the rice ball he'd just unwrapped. "Motivation was high." And they were Conan's knots anyway.

"No kidding. Can you believe he tried to yell at me to help him out when I passed?" Kaku's expression hardened for a split second. "I damn near broke his nose."

"Yeah, he's a real prize. Kicking him was very tempting." Kid bit into the rice, chewed, and swallowed. "But Conan will be glad he's alive, all the same."

Kaku shook his head ruefully. "You kids." But he did smile a little, and started gently getting Conan into a smaller samue that was still twice his size. "We've got our oaths, so he'll be alive when we finally drag him off the mountain, but I for one hope he has a miserable time of it til then. Shouldn't be too long, we're doing a temp bridge with prefab pieces and a lot of plywood. Three or four more hours."

Kid couldn't help but grin a little. "Misery is just fine." In spades. "...and you guys are amazing," he added more gently.

"I'm pretty sure the crew boss got the idea from Mythbusters," Kaku replied, "but as long as it works, right?"

"That makes it better, actually."

"Yeah? Which one's your favorite?"

"Adam. I tend to identify with the zany ones." It wasn't a Kudou kind of answer, but he didn't even know if Kudou watched Mythbusters anyway. "Chibi here just needs a walrus mustache." And he tucked himself up next to Conan and wiggled his fingers over that small mouth.

Conan groaned, turning his head away. "Y' r'ject 'r reality..."

"And substitute my own," Kid finished in quiet glee.

"Mm. Conan want big boom." Conan yawned, and opened bleary eyes, almost looking his apparent age for once with his glasses off.

Kid could provide big boom, but not now. Next heist, fireworks, definitely. "Can you settle for a big mug of broth?"

"Yeah..." Conan's gaze landed on the medic. "... Um. Hallucinating."

"No, our friend here is just supremely athletic." Thank Inari and Ebisu. "Say hi to Kaku-san. He's a paramedic. Kaku-san, Edogawa Conan, detective."

"... 'lo."

"Hey there, Edogawa-kun," Kaku said gently. "You got a nasty snakebite, do you remember?"

"... yeah," Conan said slowly. "I got tossed into the bushes."

The medic's expression flickered darkly. "And that guy's having a nicely miserable wet time out in the storm, but he's otherwise okay. The police are going to pick him up as soon as we finish a quick bridge where the path got washed out. How are you feeling?"

"...woozy. N' my eyes are still funny. There's glows."

"Can you wiggle all your fingers and toes? Try to flex everything for me, but don't worry if something doesn't want to move or won't stop shaking, the venom likes to mess with that."

Conan made a soft sound in agreement, but obediently began twitching his fingertips - the right hand moved sluggishly, but the swollen left beaded up with shiny pinprick droplets of edema when Conan curled his fingers even the littlest bit, and he immediately stopped. "Too puffy," he murmured. Then he flexed against Kid, one long shift of muscle from shoulders to toes, and his left foot didn't stop twitching, thumping kittenishly against Kid's hip. "... Sorry."

"Just glad it's not five centimeters to the left," Kid replied with a little huff of false amusement.

He got a grimace at the teasing - to be fair, it wasn't really much of a joke - but Conan didn't take it any further, simply letting his gaze fall back on Kaku. "Fingers're all funny too."

But Kaku just nodded calmly. "Okay. You did good for me, and at this point we can't do much but ride it out. Tell me if anything gets worse though, okay?"


"Atta boy. Think you can drink some broth?"

Conan considered that for a long moment. "... I can try."

Kaku twisted towards the sunken hearth, picking up a teacup Kid hadn't noticed him preparing earlier. It was full of thin, clear dashi and wasn't steaming, and Conan didn't even try to reach for it as Kid helped him sit up.

After the broth came water, which Conan drank thirstily, much to Kid's relief.

"Not too quickly, now," Kaku cautioned, "but you're doing good."

Conan gave him a tired little grin. "Doin' my best." A little sigh. "C'n I go back to sleep?"

"I rather you didn't," Kaku replied honestly, getting a heavier sigh out of Conan. "You'll be better able to tell me if you start feeling worse if you stay awake."

"All right," Conan grumbled, rolling his head further into the crook of Kid's arm. Kid had just enough time to recognize the glint in the boy's eyes before he whined, "Niiiiiichan, tell me a story."

Little brat. He must be feeling a little better. But Kid gamely began, "Once upon a time, there was a lovely princess, a handsome magic prince, and a tiny court advisor who was somehow annoyingly right about everything except his survival instinct..."


By the time Kid finished his story, Conan had vomited again twice, the second time clutching not-subtly-enough at his chest.

"I don't know," Kid told Kaku, ignoring the meitantei's glassy-eyed glare, as the medic took to the radio with a certain tension around his eyes. "His mom never told us anything." Which was misleadingly true. "Ran knows more than I do- he gets these colds and they always go right to his chest, he's had six or seven this year alone, but I don't think he's had one for over a month."

"I'm fine," Conan grunted hoarsely from his pallet.

"Don't," Kid snapped, brandishing one finger at Conan so sharply the meitantei half-flinched. "Do not even start that with me. You are not fine, you are seven years old, no one needs you to fake being better off than you really are!" Under Conan's open shock, though, he deflated. "... What if we miss something because you're hiding it too well?"

"... 'm sorry."

Kid rubbed a hand across his face. "Don't be sorry, just stop doing it, okay?" Conan mumbled something agreeing, so Kid went on, "Good. Want to try that again?"

Unfortunately, Conan had no explanation for the twinge, and Kid spent the next hour or so in silence, plotting how to steal Conan's file from Haibara. There had to be one, right?

The paramedic team arrived soon after that, half a dozen giants in bright orange jumpsuits and climber harnesses. They did a few more medic things, swarming around Conan so that Kid couldn't actually see what they were doing, but most of it seemed to be about checking his spine before popping him into a half-sized rescue basket.

The basket was little more than an aluminum frame with a lot of canvas and straps, but it had a hard plastic lid that they clipped over top, sealing Conan away in what looked far too much like a coffin for Kid.

"Are you good to stay up here, kid?" one of the paramedics asked, and Kid very nearly twitched into the rafters.

"Stay?" he echoed as his heart climbed back down into his chest where it belonged. There was a small pile of plastic-wrapped, lumpy onigiri next to the hearth, on the damp tatami where Conan had been... more than enough onigiri to outlast the storm, if it was just him. But. "Stay? The last time I let this kid out of my sight, he wound up bitten by a venomous snake. I'm not staying here!"

"Rather thought you'd say that." The paramedic tossed a bundle of thick nylon straps into Kid's arms. It was another of the climbing harnesses everyone else was wearing. "Suit up, then. No one goes down the mountain loose."

Kid bit back a very unKudou-like sputter, shaking out the rig to see how it was supposed to go- okay, if you tightened all the straps and clipped the loose pair together in the front, it should fit very much like his cape-glider's support structure- and began pulling it on. "No argument?"

"Guy goes up a mountain in a typhoon on the off chance that someone else is up there, he's not going to sit tight while we take the kid down."

"Fair enough."

The rig strapped down and checked, and with Conan loaded up on one of the men like a backpack, the paramedics tethered everyone together in a jangling of carabiners. Someone put out the fire in a hiss of water and kicked sand as Kid tied his wet boots back on, and then Kaku slid open the door, and they headed out into a watery hell.

Kid hadn't thought that anything could be worse than that initial panicked climb up the mountain, a half-conscious meitantei in his arms and only a thin hope that Conan's promised shelter would be close enough to reach at all. He was wrong.

Almost pitch black, with only the swirling glint of the paramedics' headlamps catching on water in every direction, the sideways rain and howling wind nearly drove them all to their knees in the first minute alone. The ground was nothing but tattered streams rushing between clumps of underbrush, frigid silt sloshing up to Kid's ankles, and the current - as he found out on the first hairpin turn between creaking, branch-whipping trees - was going downslope heedless of which direction the trail itself was going. Only where there were steep dropoffs to one side or another, water cascading over the sides and sweeping leaves and loose rocks with it, was it at all obvious where the trail was.

Worse than that, though, was that Kid couldn't see Conan under the plastic lid and rain cover. Couldn't see if he was conscious, or breathing, or clutching at his little chest with his only good hand...

They stopped at one of the few solid-looking spots, up on top of a rise, to switch Conan's basket to a larger paramedic's back. The largest paramedic's, actually, a head taller and nearly half again as wide as Kid, and the choice made Kid swallow thickly. The next leg of the journey hadn't been that hard on the way up, that Kid remembered, so why...?

Five minutes later, they hit a part of the trail that had been a strange question-mark-shaped dip between a cliff and a rice paddy. The entire thing was now a frothing lake, and the rescue basket just skimmed the surface as they slogged through it, four men in front finding footing and everyone nearest the basket on guard to catch the paramedic if he slipped.

After struggling out of the lake, it took another half-hour - or possibly ten minutes, or possibly fifty, Kid wasn't sure - to reach the makeshift bridge and its night construction floodlights. A horrific half-hour which Kid spent with his throat tight, thinking of all the baby stories he'd make up to tell Mouri-san and her friends while Conan was recovering in the hospital. Mysterious old family friends and distant relatives crawling out of the woodwork. His own baby pictures, so that Mouri-san wouldn't recognize them as Shin'ichi's.

Hah, like that would teach Meitantei to stop with this haring off thoughtlessly into danger schtick of his. (Hypocrisy, thy name is Kid.)

A ragged cheer went up when they hauled themselves by a heavy guide chain across the slick plywood, hard hands and muscled arms dragging them up onto the trail once more. The construction crew passed out thermoses of hot tea, just a quick swallow for each of them, before forming lines around them and marching them the rest of the way in triple file. The going became easier after the bridge, with worklights strung like Christmas lights all down the trail, bouncing in the wind but solidly tied to poles driven deep into the muck.

One last staircase, and the last twenty meters of descent was a straight shot backlit by the flashing red lights of police and ambulance. Even the sight of police was welcome, a shot of relief straight to Kid's heart, and another cheer - shouts even louder than the buffeting wind - went up.


Who the-? And then suddenly all the world was bright lights and yellow-coated people brandishing microphones. Conan and the paramedics vanished somewhere behind a sea of cyclopean cameras.

"Kudou-kun, a statement! Where have you been?" "How did you-?" "Why did you-?" "What have you-?"

Kid raised his hands against the onslaught. Oh Inari and Benten is this live?! And then, they must've been here almost since I got on the radio and if it weren't for the weather I might well be shot already. "Maa, maa, calm down-"

The reporters - there looked to be only four, actually, far fewer than it had first seemed, probably everyone who could actually get to town at all - subsided, very nearly vibrating out of their skins already.

"I have only one thing to say," Kid began, pulling his hood just that touch lower and sliding a hand surreptitiously into his pocket. "Just one. And that is..." he shut his eyes, "So sorry to disappoint." And he hurled his last flashbomb at their feet, ducked under the camera's line of sight, and ran for the hotel as the reporters shrieked.

Goddamit, meitantei. You're going to have to make it the rest of the way on your own now. Kid didn't have any disguise that would stand up to getting into the hospital, not with reporters on the hunt.

Somehow, somehow, he made it to his room without leaving a trail of water a toddler could track him from, mostly by dint of leaving most of his clothing in a sodden heap in the hotel's genkan. Whatever hour it was, it was apparently too late for anyone to actually be up but the reporters, and he could have on a dry face by the time anybody actually bothered checking rooms, if they did. He didn't bother with that face yet, though, toweling himself finally dry and changing into a hotel yukata, filling the sleeves with a few more flashbombs and sleep capsules just in case. Then he burrowed into his futon and turned on the news.

All four relevant channels were showing heartwarming replays of the team getting Conan off the mountain, their arrival just minutes ago off the trail, but The Weather Channel had theirs in a screen insert, with the camera back to reporting live as Conan - the lid from his rescue basket gone and medics poking at him - was getting hauled to the ambulance.

"Kid saved me," he was correcting firmly, almost inaudible around a wide yawn. "S'okay if he borrows Shin'ichi-niichan... he wouldn't mind."

Kid smiled, clicked off the tv, and fell asleep in just minutes.

End notes:

- Benten is Benzaiten, one of the Seven Lucky Gods, the Japanese version of Sarasvati, a river goddess of beauty, eloquence, music, time, water, etc. Basically, if it flows, it's hers. She also has strong associations with snakes and dragons in Japan, because those are also covered under the riverine "that which flows" stuff.

- Kid's flashbombs are of his own manufacture, as they only make a big flash without the "potential concussion 170+ decibel kaboom" of actual flash grenades. They do have enough pyrotechnic material to set something on fire if it's flammable, though, so Kid's very careful to not use them on non-woolen carpets.

- antivenins are actually stored as freeze-dried ampoules, and if in liquid form MUST be refrigerated. It is also supposed to be administered in an IV, not a single shot. But DCMK breaks the laws of physics enough in the name of artistic license, so I'm taking liberties.

- 119 = Japanese 911 = emergency services

- Ebisu is another of the Seven Luckies, a god of luck, fishermen, and medicine and small children

- samue are a traditional Japanese at-home-lounging garment that looks a lot like pajamas with a wrap-style instead of pullover top

- dashi is the basic Japanese broth. It can be made with dried bonito flakes and seaweed, or with bullion grains.