Fandom: Detective Conan/Magic Kaitou
Theme: #30—it hurt to see you cry
Pairing: Kuroba Kaito/Nakamori Aoko
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: He had a hostage, and he wanted only one thing.
He wasn’t exactly sure how it had happened, really. The heist had been normal enough—the usual greeting to Nakamori-keibu and the Taskforce, some witty banter (or swearing, as the case might be), the Dance of Getting the Gem (which he did), and then a round of the Taskforce’s favorite game, Doggie-Pile on the Bandit. Unfortunately, he wasn’t under the heap, and headed for the exit.
And then the normal pattern had been broken when he’d frozen dead in his tracks.
Standing between him and the path he had chosen to make his showy exit was his black-clad nemesis, Snake—the man responsible for his father’s death, the one who hunted him now as Kaitou Kid. The other, far more ruthless hunter of Pandora.
That, in and of itself, wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, really. Even the fact that Snake was armed, pistol in hand, didn’t alarm him as it once might have. He knew he could make it, and the police would take him down if he fired at them like this.
What he wasn’t quite prepared for, though, was the fact that Snake had his gun pointed at the head of a squirming, panicked person held tightly against him; he had one arm slung around his hostage’s neck to prevent any escape.
And he definitely wasn’t expecting the hostage to be Aoko.
There was a scuffling sound behind him as the Taskforce escaped from his little present of the evening (it was amazing what one could do with Silly String if one knew exactly what improvements to make on it) and caught up. There were shouts and cries of alarm—after all, Aoko was no stranger to any of them. Her father was their fearless leader. Then he heard Nakamori-keibu himself—cursing.
And then Snake spoke, his voice crystal-clear and loud enough to be heard over the din of police officers. In fact, though the words were directed at Kaitou Kid, they silenced everyone immediately. With a grin of unholy glee, he issued his single demand.
“Take off the mask.”
Poker Face slipped, giving way to a dropped jaw. “What?” Kid replied, not quite believing his ears. Strange, really, how that one syllable lilted out about half an octave higher than the pitch of his normal speaking voice.
“The hat. The monocle. Take them off,” Snake grinned triumphantly. “Show us all your face.”
Around him, he heard the startled gasps and muted mutters of the Taskforce. And he felt every eye in the vicinity focusing in on him. Granted, he was accustomed to being the center of attention, but not like this. The looks weren’t usually this…pointed.
He forced himself to take a deep breath. Focus, Cape Boy. Focus. He leveled Snake with a glare that probably could have killed a small animal. “You would use an innocent,” he growled, his voice low and uncharacteristically angry. “You would hurt an innocent person, just to get at me?”
“You’re stalling, and you’re killing her,” Snake sneered back, pushing the barrel of the gun a bit tighter against Aoko’s temple. She winced and tilted her head a bit to try and ease the pressure, but with his arm around her neck like that, there wasn’t a lot of maneuvering room.
Behind Kaitou Kid’s monocle, Kaito’s mind was racing at top speed. There was no way Snake would just let her go now. He’d get a good look at his face, and that would be it. He would kill Aoko no matter what, there was no doubt of that. Right? But…what if he really would let her go? There was a chance that he’d just throw her off to the side and take that fatal shot at his true nemesis.
Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. And with Aoko’s life hanging in the balance…there really was only one option, wasn’t there? He’d been backed into a corner, and there was no way out now. Snake had him right where he wanted him, and if he refused…Aoko’s blood was on his hands. Not that there was any guarantee the murderer would let her go, even if he did unmask himself.
But if he didn’t, and she died…
It had been years since his hands had trembled during a performance. Now he was fighting to keep them still, knowing full well what he faced, and numerous implications thereof. But slowly, he lifted those gloved hands from his sides and reached them towards his face. One slid to the monocle, the other to his hat brim. Even with the distance separating them, he saw Aoko’s eyes widen. Oh, this was going to hurt her…if Snake held to his word and let her go.
Still, he couldn’t quite stop himself from hesitating. He’d always accepted the distant possibility that someday, on some heist, something would go wrong and Nakamori-keibu would rip off his masks and expose his face for the world to see…and he’d even tried to imagine the poor cop’s reaction. But he had never really given consideration to the idea that he might have to unmask himself. Even as strong-willed as he was, he paused, trying to force air into lungs that no longer wanted to cooperate.
He looked up at her for what was probably the last time on a friendly basis—and spotted a cop standing behind Snake. Someone he recognized as a higher-up on the Taskforce, a man who had chased the original Kid twenty years ago. And this man had a gun in his hands and was taking careful aim…at Snake.
Realizing that Kid had seen him, the man shook his head, glanced pointedly at Snake, and back at Kid. The message was surprisingly clear: Don’t do it. We’ll find out who you are when we catch you, and not before. To find out like this is cheating. So put your damn hat back and help me.
Kaitou Kid nodded once, ever so slightly.
There was the crack of a gunshot, and several people screamed—Aoko, in particular. Snake jerked back and dropped over sideways, one hand clutching at the back of his shoulder. A dazed-looking Aoko stumbled off to the side, and suddenly found herself swept up in Kaitou Kid’s arms and pulled away from her would-be killer. Both watched as the Taskforce descended in a furious cloud.
“Are you all right?” he asked, then realized that she was staring at him with wide eyes.
“You really would have…you would have done that for me?” she asked softly, not having to elaborate as to what she meant. It was painfully obvious. And for a moment, neither moved.
Then Kid smiled—not his usual trademark smirk, but a softer, more genuine smile. “Of course.” With a flick of his wrist, he produced his trademark: a single, perfect white rose. He said nothing more, but simply held it out to her in a gesture that reminded her of a moment long, long ago…wondering if it was really traitorous to do so, she reached out to accept it.
Her father called her name then, distracting her for just a second; he was rushing towards her, terrified for his daughter’s safety. But when she glanced back, Kaitou Kid was gone—vanished into a flurry of confetti, like the phantom he was supposed to be.
Safely away from the scene of the heist and Aoko’s brush with death, Kaitou Kid shed his snowy guise and traded it for the normal street clothes of a normal teenager. It didn’t take long for Kuroba Kaito to slip onto the sidewalk and start towards home, trying to ignore his own jangling nerves. That had been too close of a call in far too many ways.
He was probably halfway home when his cell phone rang. Fishing it out his pocket, he flipped it open, and was only half-surprised to see Aoko’s number there. He pressed the button and put it to his ear. “Hey, Aoko, what’s up?” He stopped dead in his tracks when he heard a sob on the other end of the line.
“Kaito, where are you?” she hiccupped.
“Where are you?” he demanded in response; the concern that flooded his tone was no act, either. “Tell me, and I’ll be there in five minutes.” Crap…he’d expected her to be upset, but he hadn’t really expected her to call him, and definitely not hoarse from crying.
“Thank you…” she said shakily. “They just brought me home. I’m at home.”
“I’m on my way.” Depositing the phone back in his pocket, he quickened pace. Once he got to her street and the home stretch, he sprinted. Finally, her house appeared. He took the porch steps three at a time and knocked loudly on the door. He bounced up and down, impatient as he waited for the door to open.
Aoko answered, and promptly fell into him. His arms moved instinctively to catch her and support her. With a minor amount of juggling, he inched her back into the house and kicked the door shut. She let him go while he removed his shoes, and led him through the house he knew as well as his own.
She sat down on the couch; he immediately took a seat beside her. “Aoko, what happened?” he asked. Kaitou Kid already knew, but Kuroba Kaito would have no idea why she was so upset.
The story poured out relatively quickly with minimal tears—the heist, the hostage situation, and the gunman’s demand for the unmasking of Kaitou Kid by his own hand. It wasn’t until she got to the part where Kid actually almost acquiesced to the killer’s demand that she started to get shaky again. Kaito listened intently, nodding sympathetically—it actually shook him to hear it again like this!
It’s your fault.
A little voice in the back of his head started poking him furiously. His well-trained Poker Face stayed firmly in place, but internally he was trying desperately to fend off that idea. “It’s not my fault.”
It is! the voice insisted. Snake was after Kaitou Kid. If there was no Kaitou Kid, Aoko wouldn’t have ever gotten anywhere near him, and she never would have been in danger. She and Snake were both there because of you. She could have been killed—it’s all your fault.
Kaito didn’t dare shake his head to try and clear the thought. He forced himself to stay still and listen to Aoko. She wasn’t talk very much now; it was more mumbling, and more to herself than to him. But…she was still crying.
The realization hit him full-force, and it hurt. It…it really was his fault, wasn’t it? His heart dropped down into his shoes. That voice—his conscience—was right. Aoko had nearly died so some lunatic could get at him. He’d tried so hard to keep her separate from all of this, but…
“But you know what’s weird?” Aoko said suddenly.
He forced himself to refocus; the guilt trip could come later. “What?”
“…I don’t blame Kid,” she said.
Kaito couldn’t quite keep his jaw from dropping. “W-what?”
“That man…he wanted to get at Kaitou Kid, right? That’s why he had a gun to my head…” she shuddered at the recent memory. “But—but when he told Kid to unmask himself…Kid was actually going to do it. He was really going to do it! He would’ve given himself away to my dad and the Taskforce and everyone…to save me.” She remembered him afterwards, calm and composed, offering her a fond smile and a single white rose. White roses meant peace, she knew—an offering, perhaps?
Kaito was silent for a moment. “Aoko…”
“It almost feels like I’m defending him, but I really can’t blame him for what happened, even though it could be argued that it’s indirectly his fault,” she said quietly. “I just can’t bring myself to say it’s his fault. After all,” she smiled, the first time she’d done so since he’d gotten there, “he didn’t force that maniac to point a gun at me.”
Kaito digested this for a moment before giving her a tentative look. “Are you sure?”
Aoko reached over and picked up something small and white from the coffee table; she twirled the rose stem between her fingers for a moment and studied the flower as it spun before nodding. “I’m sure.”
He didn’t know why, but it felt like a weight just jumped from his chest and vanished. Suddenly, it was a great deal easier to breathe. “I bet he’d be very happy to hear you say that, Aoko.”
She smiled. “Don’t get me wrong—I still hate his guts.”
Kaito laughed. “There’s the Aoko I know!” But in the back of his mind, a spot he had always thought of as the home for his Kid persona, there was a huge sigh of relief. Aoko was okay.
PS. Thanks for reading and reviewing, everyone. The next one will mark the halfway point of the challenge (since I’m doing all forty themes, as I’m sure you guessed by the title 40 Nights), and I’m pleased to say that it’s not only done and ready to post, but it’s nice and LONG, so I hope you enjoyed this story and I hope you’ll pop back for that one, too. Much love, all!