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29 April 2007 @ 12:52 pm
Holding It In (40 Nights: Kaito/Aoko)  
Title: Holding It In
Fandom: Detective Conan/Magic Kaitou
Author: Candyland
Theme: #24—my heart is bleeding for you
Pairing: Kuroba Kaito/Nakamori Aoko
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Gosho Aoyama. I do not own them. I merely borrow them, drop them in a blender, hit puree, and watch them dance. Yes, dance, my pretties…ahem.
Summary: Can you pretend I’m telling the truth when I say I’m fine?



“Kaito-kun?”

He refused to answer. He wouldn’t even so much as look at him—he wouldn’t look at anyone. He just sat there, curled up on the front steps, his knees pulled up to his chest, arms resting on his knees, face buried in his arms.

Nakamori Ginzo recognized that it was probably not a good idea to touch the boy then. But Aoko, standing beside him, immediately reached out with a small hand to grab her friend’s shoulder. She pulled back instantly, though, when he jerked away from her touch. She stepped back behind her father’s legs for protection; she looked hurt.

Giving her a paternal pat on the head, he stepped down and sat on the steps behind the child he had come to think of as a son. She stayed right at his shoulder, watching sadly. She’d run to get her father for help; he was having his own difficulties dealing with things, but he was first and foremost a parent. “Kaito-kun, look at me.”

Finally, the boy looked up with shadowed eyes and a face so void of expression that it could have been a mask. “Leave me alone,” he said shortly, voice far too clipped and harsh for a child his age.

“Kaito-kun,” Nakamori-keibu said, voice uncharacteristically soft, “everyone’s worried.”

Kaito’s hands clenched into fists on his knees. “I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not. And there’s no reason you should be,” the Inspector replied. He looked up at the sky. It was a clear night; the stars were lovely, shining beautifully in the sky. It was such a contrast to everything that was going on down on Earth.

“I said I’m fine.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Can’t you pretend I’m telling the truth when I say I’m fine?” Kaito snapped, looking away.

“No, I can’t,” the adult said with a shake of his head. “Stop holding it in. Just let it out.”

Kaito didn’t say anything. But the back of one fist found its way to his face and scrubbed at his eyes, possibly in a vain attempt to hide the fact that they were watery. He was holding his breath, but a few tiny whimpering noises still slipped out as small shoulders started to tremble. After a moment, something traced down the line of his cheek and dripped off his chin.

A nine-year-old boy, torn up over an earth-shattering loss that no child his age should have ever had to deal with, yet trying desperately to hide the fact that he was crying. It was heartbreaking.

Having known the boy for as long as he had, Namakori Ginzo had no immunity against that. Then again, no one with a heart—especially a parent—would have even tried to be untouched by the scene. He reached over with one hand and gently pulled the child closer, letting Kaito lean against him.

The other person watching the scene wasn’t unmoved either; small arms wrapped around Kaito’s neck in a tight hug, and held on. Kaito looked up, tears streaming freely. “Aoko…?” he hiccupped, glancing back over his shoulder at her, only seeing the top of her head against his shoulder. “What’re you doing?” He had a sudden moment of panic—boys weren’t supposed to cry, and the idea that she saw him like this was horrifying for some reason. But Aoko didn’t laugh, and she didn’t answer. She just kept her arms around him as tightly as possible.

They sat like that for a long time, father and daughter comforting a hurting friend. It had taken so little to break through the tentative shell, and now so much was coming out, grief and pain and loss and anger and all the things that went with it.

But after a while, Kaito sat up and used his sleeve to wipe at his eyes. It still hurt so much…and yet there was still that strange feeling of underlying embarrassment. “No matter what cards you’re holding, good or bad, you don’t let it show. That’s Poker Face.” Dad always said that.

“Come on,” Aoko said, pulling on his arm to get him to his feet. It was now that he noticed that she was crying, but she made no effort to hide it at all. “Your mom’s looking for you.”

Leaning heavily against Aoko for support, he allowed himself to be led back into the house, where the funeral party was in mourning. His mother was waiting—she needed him. He had to be the man of the house now and take care of his mother, since Dad was gone. Swallowing hard to stave off any further tears, he squared his shoulders and resolved to make Dad proud.

Poker Face, he remembered. Never forget Poker Face.

That was the last time that Kuroba Kaito cried.



PS. Ten done, thirty to go. We’re a fourth of the way through the challenge! This one…I tried to write it with Aoko talking to Kaito, but it just wouldn’t work. Then the plunnies suggested the substitution of father for daughter, and it worked a little better, even though it still didn’t come out quite the way I thought it would. Oh well. Thanks for the great comments, all. Much love!