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06 February 2008 @ 11:58 pm
After the Show (Fanfic100)  
Title: After the Show
Fandom: Detective Conan
Characters: Kaito/Aoko (General series)
Prompt: #72—fixed
Word Count: 5087 words
Rating: PG
Author's Notes: I do not own Detective Conan. It all belongs to Gosho Aoyama. I simply borrow the characters, tie them up, and dance them around like life-sized puppets. I do wish they’d stop complaining.
Summary: A lot happened after he spotted her at his performance one night. Kaito/Aoko



“You have to come with me!”

Aoko turned an exasperated glare on her well-meaning co-worker. “I don’t have to do anything.”

“Come on! Please?” Haruhi, a bubbly girl two years Aoko’s junior, pleaded, throwing in her best puppy eyes. “you know you want to go. Free ticket?”

The debate in question was over a magic show taking place that evening. The performer was a world-famous stage magician, and that evening was his last show in town—his home town, no less—before his latest tour was over. Haruhi was a die-hard fan, and had been planning to go see the show from the minute she heard about it. But her friend had bailed on her at the last minute due to a family emergency, and so she was desperate for a friend to go with her. And thus, she had chosen Aoko.

“It’s just…not my kind of thing,” Aoko sighed.

“Have you ever seen this guy perform? He’s amazing!”

Aoko didn’t reply. She didn’t want to tell her that yes, she had seen him perform many, many times. The first time she had seen the magician do a trick, they had been five years old in front of a clock tower; he had pulled a rose from thin air and introduced himself. Years later they had parted ways; it had been her choice, not his, and was definitely less than amiable.

“Aoko, please? Go with me?” Haruhi asked, this time in a softer voice.

Finally, Aoko let herself be worn down. “All right,” she said. “All right. I’ll go with you.”

While Haruhi bubbled up with excitement, Aoko quietly hoped she wasn’t making a mistake.

-o-


The auditorium was packed with people. It wasn’t too surprising, really, given his star status as a world-renowned performer. Even here, in his own hometown, he was recognized and adored. And he was good—Aoko knew how good he had been when they were still in high school. Now with a few years of experience under his belt and world-class training and equipment at his disposal…

She shifted in her seat and regretted her decision to come. Beside her, Haruhi was fidgeting. “Almost time, almost time!” she squealed quietly, and Aoko fought down the urge to sigh.

Finally, the house lights went down, and an excited murmur rippled over the crowd as they quieted down. Then the curtain rose…on an empty stage. There was another cascade of quiet mumbling from the audience…

Until there was an enormous puff of smoke in the middle of the auditorium and the spotlight focused on the man who had magically appeared in the aisle as the audience erupted into cheers. Aoko didn’t even applaud; her heart dropped into her stomach when she saw him.

Kuroba Kaito.

Still, she managed to stay in her seat, despite the fact that she just wanted to run. And she watched the show. Some of the things he was doing on stage were absolutely miraculous. He was still as much of a performer as ever—even paying homage to his father by pulling a giant turkey out of his hat. And he was good enough to actually make her forget, just for a little while, who he was and what had happened between them.

But as the show ended and he performed an encore that made the audience go wild, reality set back in. When the curtain came down and the show was officially over, Aoko just wanted to get out of there.

But her plans to escape were thwarted when they finally made it out of the building; the milling crowds had been slow-moving, and so it had taken them quite a bit of time to actually get out to the sidewalk. Her friend unwittingly turned out to be her worst enemy. “I want to get his autograph!” Haruhi gushed, grabbing Aoko’s hand.

Aoko felt her heart drop. “W-what?”

“He’s always willing to stop and talk to a fan,” Haruhi explained, obviously taking Aoko’s startled question as a sign of ignorance rather than surprise. “He usually goes to the stage door after performances and signs autographs, poses for pictures, that kind of thing. I want his autograph!”

Oh no… Something deep inside Aoko went cold. She couldn’t see him—she just couldn’t. Not after everything that had happened to them, between them. She shouldn’t even have come to this show tonight, but her curiosity had won her over. Seeing him on the stage from the anonymity of the audience was one thing. But face to face?

“Haruhi, wait!” she tried to protest, but they were already around the corner. The stage door was at the back of the building, and there were about half a dozen girls standing around it. In terms of age, they ranged from early teens to maybe late twenties. There were more girls on the sidewalk, giggling, and still more walking away, jabbering excitedly and looking at the items in their hands. She assumed that they were autographs; the ink probably wasn’t even dry yet. And standing in the doorway…

It was him.

He looked exactly as she’d remembered him, more or less. He’d always had sharp features, and they had finally settled into an adult face. His hair was still a mess—some things would never change, she imagined. And he was still wearing the clothes he had finished the performance in—white pants and a red shirt. And even from where she was, she could see that his eyes were the exact same shade of blue.

The most painful thing about the scene was that he was smiling. One of the younger girls was saying something eagerly to him, and he was smiling while he signed her book. It was the same smile…or was it?

Aoko couldn’t breathe. She had to get out of there. It was a mistake to come.

“Haruhi, I’m sorry, but I’ve gotta go,” she gasped, wrenching her hand loose and turning to get away from the stage door and from the man who had broken her heart years ago and who she had spent those years trying to forget. She barely even heard her friend’s protest.

She ran for about a block before slowing to a brisk walk, which she kept up for a few more blocks before slowing again. After a while she stopped and just stood there, her hands in the pockets of her jacket. She just needed a minute to steady herself and get her breathing to even out.

Because really, the more she thought about it…the more she realized that it wasn’t that she didn’t want to see Kaito. She did. She wanted to see him desperately. But she wasn’t sure if she could truly swallow the things she had said that long ago. And given everything, he really had every right to reject her. Besides, it wasn’t like that one time…he probably wasn’t even talking about her. It was highly doubtful that he would even recognize—

“Aoko?”

—her.

She straightened instinctively and turned around. One hand drew to clutch at her heart. “Kaito…”

He was panting now, and she had the impression that he had run after her. He hadn’t even bothered to grab a jacket against the chill. At the sound of his name, he straightened and looked at her, almost wondrously. “It is you,” he said. “I thought it was—but I wasn’t sure…it’s really you.”

“Y-you too…” she said softly, feeling like an idiot. But…had he really run after her?

Kaito opened his mouth, closed it again, and then let out a nervous chuckle. “You look great.”

“Thank you,” she replied. “So do you.” She was probably blushing like a schoolgirl.

“You came to the show…?”

“My friend from work brought me—she had an extra ticket. Insisted I should go.”

“I see.” Judging by his jerky hand gestures and the fact that he couldn’t seem to decide on what exactly to say, he felt more or less as nervous as she did about this encounter. But he cleared his throat and said, “Are you…I mean, do you have somewhere you need to be?”

She could guess where this question was going. “No. I was just on my way home.”

He nodded, cleared his throat again, and asked in a subdued tone, “Well…are you hungry?”

She had guessed right. She hesitated for a moment—after all, she had told him that she never wanted to speak to him again. But still…she felt herself smile and heard herself reply, “Sure.”

The smile that lit up Kaito’s face put the nearby streetlamp to shame. Then he looked a bit discomfited. “Oh…ah, I need to go back and change…my stuff’s back at the theatre—“ He was uncharacteristically nervous.

“No problem,” she said, feeling her smile grow a bit wider. “I can wait.”

-o-


Aoko was pleasantly surprised to find that Jii was not only still working with Kaito, but remembered her. Kaito didn’t even have to ask; Jii told him that the crew could handle things. It was the end of the tour—the young master should go celebrate. Kaito looked faintly annoyed at the nickname. Still, he muttered his thanks and hurried to change, leaving Aoko alone with the old man.

They sat on the stage stairs to talk while she waited. The initial chat consisted of the usual polite inquiries and pleasantries—how they were each doing, how was her father, and the like. Then Jii asked. “I think this is the happiest I have seen the young master in quite some time.”

“Is it?” Aoko asked, surprised at the comment.

“He was always very fond of you, Aoko-san,” Jii explained; it brought to mind the image of one describing a much-beloved grandchild. “The separation was not easy for him at first. I suspect he missed you a great deal more than he let on. To see you again has made him very happy.”

“I doubt he missed me that much,” Aoko said softly. “I said some horrible things.”

“On the contrary,” he said knowingly. “I don’t believe he blamed you for anything you said to him.”

“You knew about it, too?” It was a statement, not a question, and there was no mistaking what ‘it’ was referring to.

“I did.”

“Was I the only one who didn’t know what was going on?” she sighed.

“Not at all. But I do hope you two will be able to patch things up.”

“Why?”

“Because, Aoko-san,” Jii said wisely, “you were always the one person who gave him hope.”

It was on the tip of Aoko’s tongue to ask what he meant by that, but they were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing his throat nearby. They turned around. Kaito was standing there in jeans and a dark gray jacket; he looked a bit uncomfortable, which suggested that he had heard at least part of the conversation.

“Jii-chan, I’ll thank you to stop playing matchmaker like some old woman,” Kaito said smoothly, offering Aoko a hand up. His tone softened. “Thanks for handling things.” When Jii nodded and waved them off, Kaito turned to her with a smile. “Well, shall we? Any requests? My treat.”

-o-


After a quick chat, they’d agreed on ice cream. It was awfully late to be eating a full meal. There was a nice little place nearby, open twenty-four hours a day. They scored a corner booth, placed their orders, and settled into conversation. It was amazing, how things seemed to pick right back up where they’d left off, as though the harsh words had never happened between them.

Aoko took a long sip of her drink, then fixed him with a raised eyebrow. “So,” she said, “you seem to be doing very well for yourself. You’re doing what you always wanted to do.” She wasn’t about to admit how familiar with his career she really was.

“Well…yes, I am,” he admitted with a grin. “And I love it. You know better than anyone else that I’m happiest when I’m in front of an audience. I wish everyone could love their job as much as I love mine! Now what about you? I remember you saying you wanted to go into the police academy…”

“Full-fledged member of the police force, thank you very much,” she said with an air of feigned haughtiness.

He grinned. “So I should behave myself?”

“You are going to behave yourself. Or else,” Aoko said shortly. Then her expression lightened. “So I bet you’ve traveled the world, seen all sorts of places…got a girl in every port, do you? You’ve always had a way with the ladies, intentionally or not.”

“Ehehe, not quite,” he said. “Still quite single. Not that there haven’t been…offers. But nope, nothing. And what about you? Married with three kids? Got ‘em lined up outside your door, I bet.”

“Hardly!” she huffed. “I barely have time to sleep some weeks, let alone date. Like you said, I’ve had some offers, but nothing’s ever panned out.” Was it just her imagination, or did he look faintly pleased at that? No, that was silly. “But…it’s nice to see you’re doing so well. Looks like all your dreams came true, didn’t they?” She didn’t mean for that last to come out as wistful as it did.

Kaito’s expression grew thoughtful. “No,” he said quietly. “Not all of them.”

Confused, Aoko opened her mouth to ask what he meant by that…and was interrupted by the arrival of their ice cream. In the time it took her to blink, Kaito’s face had gone from pensive to ecstatic at the sizable chocolate sundae in front of him. She let the thought go, instead amused at the fact that for all he had grown up, he was still such a child when it came to chocolate.

-o-


“Are you sure you’re all right?” Kaito asked, concerned.

“It’s just brain freeze. I’ll be fine in a minute.” Apparently, Aoko’s last bite of ice cream had decided to bite back.

It was a nice evening, if a bit cool, so Kaito had casually suggested a walk. The night was clear, the moon a sliver shy of full. And they happened to be near the river, so it was the obvious choice for a place to go. The conversation they’d had over ice cream continued—catching up, remembering details from the past few years, sharing stories.

After they’d been strolling for a little bit, Aoko decided to go ahead and bring it up. “My dad was really upset when Kaitou Kid retired,” she said calmly. “And Hakuba-kun was furious.”

“Ah yes, I heard about that,” Kaito’s response was deceptively calm. Of course, there was no way he could be unaware of the uproar the thief had caused a year and a half earlier when he had sent a note to his favorite Inspector, tendering his resignation as though he were retiring from a legitimate profession. A note also appeared in the newspaper from the legendary criminal, offering his thanks to the police for the many wonderful chases and his fans for their support and encouragement.

“Well? What do you think about it?” she asked.

“About the fact that he retired?”

“That…and why do you think he retired?”

Kaito was quiet for a moment, then stopped walking suddenly enough that Aoko actually went forward another few steps before she realized that he was now behind her. She turned to face him, waiting for his answer. It was something she had been wondering about for a long time.

“If I had to guess…” he said slowly, “I would guess that he accomplished whatever it was that he set out to do. Or he found what he was looking for. Since he was done with it, he could let it go and finally go back to his own life instead of having to chase after something.”

“Do you think he regrets?” she pressed.

“Oh, I don’t know if he really regrets being a thief,” he said. “But I would assume that he regrets at least something about it. Maybe he regrets that he had to lose something for the sake of his mission.” His eyes were almost luminous in the moonlight. “Something very precious.”

Aoko stood stone-still for a second, processing this. Kaito took advantage of her momentary surprise to do something that she doubted he would have ever done before: he crossed the small distance between them and put his arms around her.

Even if she had wanted to resist, she wouldn’t have had the presence of mind to do so. She moved her head to rest her head more comfortably against his chest and slipped her arms around his waist. It was warm and comfortable and safe. She didn’t want to move.

“I missed you,” he murmured.

Aoko didn’t bother with banter or denial. “I missed you too…you idiot…”

Sadly, all good things had to come to an end sooner or later, and she eventually had to lean away from the embrace, stepping back as they separated. But she didn’t even have time to catch her breath before his hand was in front of her eyes and a rose appeared in his fingers, seemingly from mid-air.

“Hello. I’m Kuroba Kaito,” he said softly. “Nice to meet you.” He smiled as she took the rose.

“…I don’t want tonight to end,” she whispered, studying the contours of the scarlet petals. “But it’s getting late…”

“It is,” he agreed. “I’ll walk you home.”

“Before I go home,” she looked up at him, “can I see where you’re living? Please?” It was a silly request, but it was something to prolong the night for just a little longer. “If you’re going to walk me home, it’s only fair.”

He grinned. “You’ve already seen it. It’s the same house.”

“Really? Does your mother still live there?”

“After I started performing, Mom said that the house was mine. Said that I needed the space more than she did, especially if she was ever going to get grandchildren. I’d need a place to raise them—that’s a direct quote, by the way,” he explained, his tone fond. “We found her a nice apartment.”

“You take good care of her, I bet.”

“Absolutely.”

“Aren’t you a good son?”

“That’s what Mom tells me.”

-o-


“Wow,” Aoko looked around the house she had spent so much time in as a teenager. “It looks exactly the same.”

“Not much has really changed here,” he agreed, closing the front door and slipping his shoes off. “Just the inhabitants and the visitors.” He shed his jacket and took hers in a perfectly display of gentlemanly behavior. He looked like he was about to say something else, but they were interrupted by the sound of a cell phone ringing. Kaito fished into his pocket and pulled out his phone, glancing at the screen. “It’s Jii. Wonder if something happened.” He threw her an apologetic look. “I need to take this. Feel free to look around—the whole house is open to you!”

She nodded as he ducked into the kitchen. A second later she heard him speaking.

Taking him at his word, she began to wander the house. It really was as she remembered it. Taken by an impulse, she crept quietly up the stairs. When they were teenagers, they spent a great deal of time up there in Kaito’s room, doing homework or just hanging out. She figured that room, at least, had changed.

The door was open. It felt a little like she was prying, but she decided to just poke her head in and take a quick look around. Sure enough, the room was completely different. New furniture, new decorations—no longer a student’s domain, but the residence of an adult.

Satisfied for reasons she couldn’t quite grasp, Aoko started to withdraw…but she paused when she noticed a framed picture on his nightstand. She hesitated, then walked into the room and picked it up for a closer examination.

It was a picture of her and Kaito together. They were in their high school uniforms, and judging by the background, it was taken around the time of the school’s culture festival. Kaito’s arm was slung casually over her shoulders; she was holding a box of supplies. And they were both smiling, genuinely happy.

Without meaning to, Aoko sank down to sit on the edge of the bed. She remembered that photo, now that she thought about it. It was the last picture that had been taken of them together in high school. Not long after that, their friendship had ended when she had discovered his betrayal. A heist gone wrong.

At the time, she had been so angry. The person she trusted most had proven to be the person she hated most. She knew Kaito better than anyone, and she had used what she knew. The words she had said, the phrases she had chosen…all of them used to hurt him as much as she could with the only weapon she had: her words. She told him she never wanted to see him again. She told him she hated him. She told him a lot of things. And the sign of her success was when his masks slammed down and she could no longer read him.

…and that was the end of it. After that encounter he had not bothered her again or attempted to make any contact with her. Questions from their classmates regarding the situation were ignored, and after graduation he effectively vanished from her life.

Not long after that, she began to hear about an up-and-coming magician who was gaining quite a reputation as a performer. Soon after that, his name was everywhere. A breakout act. The critics were raving about his shows. The fans loved him. He was achieving his dream. And before long, she found herself following the stories, the articles, the appearances…and hating herself for it.

Her fingers traced lightly over the glass, over her face and his. She would have been completely convinced that he had forgotten her if not for that one television interview…

There was a sound in the doorway, startling her. She looked up and saw that Kaito was standing there, hands in his pockets, leaning against the doorframe and watching her with a smile.

Aoko jumped to her feet, the picture still clutched in her hands. “I was just—I mean, the picture caught my eye. I just wanted to take a look. I’m sorry…”

Kaito shook his head. “No, no. I said you can look anywhere.”

She realized she was staring. She reacted by looking everywhere except at him, and busied herself by turning away and replacing the picture frame on the nightstand; she paused to fiddle with it for a second, getting it at just the right angle, before she made for the door, keeping her eyes down. “You still have that?”

“Of course I do,” he replied softly.

Aoko leaned against the opposite side of the doorframe and regarded him with a blush. “Even after—“

“Yes,” he seemed to know what she was going to say. “I told you. I missed you.” He leaned his head back and chuckled lightly. “Do you know how many times I tried to call you?” At her look, he went on, “I looked you up a while back. I can’t even count how many times I picked up the phone and tried to dial your number. Could never quite get myself to hit that last number, though.”

“Why not?”

“Was afraid you’d hang up on me.”

Somehow, that statement made her feel fluttery. “I didn’t think you were afraid of anything.”

“You’ve always had a knack for throwing me off-balance.”

Again, that warm feeling in her stomach. “I see.

There was a pause. They both just stared at each other. And then—

“Let me see you.”

Aoko was just opening her mouth to say she should be probably be getting home when Kaito said that in a rush. It stopped her, and she blinked at him in confusion. “What?”

“Please—let me see you,” he repeated. “I mean, even if it’s just for coffee once in a while or something.” His hands fell limply at his sides. “If I called you…would you hang up on me?”

“No,” she said after a moment. “I wouldn’t.”

Another moment of silence. The air between them was crackling.

“Kaito…” she said softly, “…a while back, you did an interview on TV. After you were in that magazine that said you were such an eligible guy—yes, I read the article, and yes, I watched the interview.” She admitted that after seeing him raise an eyebrow. “And…I was wondering who you were talking about.” She took a deep breath. “When you mentioned your…first love?”

It had been one of those things that had taken the rug out from under her and let her wondering. In the interview, he had been asked why he hadn’t let some lucky girl steal his heart away. He’d been quiet for a moment, then quietly admitted that he was still getting over a lost love—his first love—and it wasn’t fair to anyone else to attempt a relationship when his heart wasn’t entirely his yet.

The audience had collectively let out an ‘aww’ at that. Aoko had nearly burst into tears. It wasn’t something she had ever expected him to say—he was usually very private about such things. But with the publication of that article and the resounding publicity, it seemed he was saying it to stave off further pressure.

It had haunted her for the past several months. And now he was here, and she could ask. Even if he didn’t deem fit to tell her, or he told her that he was just saying that to make everyone stop asking, at least she would know.

Instead of either of those responses, he simply looked at her. And there was something in his look…

And then it clicked.

“Oh…” she breathed, one hand moving to lightly cover her mouth. “Kaito, I…”

Now he looked faintly embarrassed. “I guess I hoped I’d get to tell you myself someday, but…” He trailed off.

She realized belatedly just how few masks he had been wearing throughout this conversation. She had seen him flustered, embarrassed, nervous…he was letting her see him as he was right now, and that spoke volumes. Aoko lowered her hand from her mouth. “Kaito…are you thinking what I’m thinking right now?”

Kaito’s eyes were intense. “I don’t know. I was thinking how much I’d really like to—”

“—kiss you,” she finished.

That was all it took. He reached for her as she reached for him and they met in the middle.

He leaned against her, pressing one hand to the small of her back to crush her against him. He put his free arm between the doorframe and her head to act as a cushion, trapping her between the door and his own body. Meanwhile, her hands were tracing his face, feeling the well-chiseled features beneath her fingers; she slid her arms around him, finally tangling both her hands in his hair.

Somehow, everything that had been destroyed between them in the past was all right now. That which was ruined was now fixed, by some magic, in the moment of that kiss.

Suddenly, Aoko realized where they were, and the possible implications of crashed into her. She needed to set that record straight at least. It took a great deal of will power to move her head back enough to break the kiss. Kaito looked at her questioningly.

“J-just to be clear,” she gasped, out of breath, “…regardless of where we are…your bedroom or not…I’m not going to sleep with you. Not tonight. Too soon…” When she saw the surprised look on his face, she wanted to hide her face. “…or it could be that the thought hadn’t even crossed your mind.”

He chuckled and pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead. “Actually, the thought did cross my mind. But I wasn’t going to suggest it. You’re right—it is too soon.”

Aoko smiled. “And I’m really not God’s gift to men…”

“I don’t agree with that,” Kaito said, pressing his forehead to hers. “You’re certainly God’s gift to me.” Another quick kiss. “So…I can call you?”

Aoko laughed. “Oh, I think that’s a definite possibility.”

-o-

Several months later…


When Kaito came upstairs, Aoko was sitting on the edge of his bed by the nightstand. It was like reliving a moment from the recent past, seeing her in that exact same place. The difference, though, was that before, she had been studying a photograph from his nightstand—said photograph had been replaced by a more recent one. But tonight, he walked in and found her sliding his nightstand drawer closed.

She turned and looked at him with a smile that seemed to radiate false innocence. “Hey.”

“What’re you doing?” he asked, leaning against the doorframe.

“Nothing,” she said airily, cementing his suspicion that she was doing something. She rose and crossed the room to meet him in the doorway. Her arms slid around his neck, drawing him down for a very sweet kiss.

When they separated, Kaito smiled. “All right, what are you up to?”

“Oh, nothing,” she leaned back against the wall. “I was just thinking that I’m a little tired.”

“Do you want me to walk you home?” he asked.

“No, I’d rather stay here,” she replied. “With you.”

“Oh?” One of Kaito’s eyebrows arched suspiciously.

“I was just wondering when we were going to sleep together,” she said lightly.

“…we have slept together,” he said, recalling a few naps (most of them unplanned) where they had woken up, curled together on the couch or on a bed. “You snore.”

Aoko was all innocence. “That’s not what I meant.”

Finally, the light bulb clicked on. “Oh…oh!” Kaito’s eyes widened for a moment before he smiled.

“Took you long enough.”

“So in the nightstand—”

“Certain things.”

By now his hands were at her hips and her arms were around his neck, and they were beginning to make their way across the room, from the door to the bed. “You planned this, didn’t you?” Kaito asked, slipping his fingers under her shirt, across the bare skin of her back.

“I’m not good at seduction, but I think I got my point across,” she said, drawing him down to her.

Kaito grinned and lowered her back to the bed. “Point made.”



PS. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, fyliwionvilyaer!! I hope you like your birthday present! And to everyone else, I hope you enjoyed it as well. Fic number sixty, WHOO! Thanks for reading, all! Much love!

 
 
 
shubbimama: P&P Darcy Squeeshubbimama on February 7th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)
AaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAw :D
That was just the sweetest little fic !!!
Candyland: DC: Aokocandyfics on February 10th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
Thank you! *squishies you*
Samihasamiha on February 23rd, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
Sweet :) !!
Candylandcandyfics on March 3rd, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
Thanks! \o/
Cherelle_Holmes: Fangirlcherelle_holmes on March 4th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
Awwwwww *fangirl squee* I love happy endsssssss~! Happy ends that get almost smexy *wiggles eyebrows*

*goes to read the sequel* tüdelüü~