Fandom: Detective Conan/Magic Kaitou
Theme: #23—like an art piece
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: She tried to memorize everything by touch.
Art class was one of the few places, aside from the aquarium, where Aoko was usually able to outshine Kaito. He was a good enough artist, without a doubt, but she just had a knack for finding and accenting all the little details that made a picture really come to life on the paper. Even Kaito, while leaning over her shoulder to look at a recent work, had cheerily admitted that she had more talent in this area than he did…and then proceeded to flip her skirt sky-high and start their usual chase.
Today they weren’t working on paper, though. They were continuing into their sculpting unit. They’d been practicing for several weeks now, up to their elbows in clay, and Sensei had announced that they were going to try and sculpt each other.
Everyone paired up. No one was surprised when Kuroba Kaito and Nakamori Aoko claimed each other for partners. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Kaito had walked up and grabbed Aoko’s arm and pulled her over to a work area while Aoko halfheartedly threatened him with varying degrees of bodily harm, all of which he ignored expertly.
“So do you want to go first, or should I?” Aoko asked.
“Go ahead. I’ll model for you,” Kaito beamed. “Lucky you—you have such a perfect, gorgeous, handsome model—“ He was cut off when Aoko bopped him on the head with a convenient notebook. “I was just kidding.” As she sat down, he dropped into the vacant seat behind her. “You’re in a bad mood. Is it the Kid heist tonight?”
Rolling her eyes and opting not to answer, Aoko took a quick inventory of her supplies and work area and then turned to Kaito. “Okay, Sensei said that it might help to see how things feel instead of trying to go on sight alone. So now I just have to—“ she said, stretching towards him, only to find him leaning away from her hands. “Hey, come on! I just want to get this done and over with—STOP IT!”
Kaito kept bobbing his head from one side to the other, evading her reach. “Don’t wanna,” he said. The smug little grin on his face said that he was just teasing, making things difficult for her just like he always did. Sometimes she swore that it was his purpose in life.
“This wouldn’t take half as long if you would just hold still already!” Aoko snapped, reaching out and putting one hand firmly on either side of his face. To her surprise, Kaito stopped moving instantly. He waited, motionless, for her to do what she needed to do.
Aoko started by dragging her hands down his cheeks, slowly memorizing the shape of his face and the way it narrowed and tapered off into a strong chin. Back up to his face, noting the way that one lock of hair hung just so across his forehead. Then back down over his eyebrows; his eyelids slid down under her wandering touch. Over his nose, out to his ears, examining the shape, trying the memorize everything she could by touch. Her fingertips slid down again to his lips.
It was there that her hands unintentionally lingered, outlining shape and contours. She didn’t mean to stare, but somehow, she just couldn’t help herself, nor could she tear herself away.
Slowly, though, she dragged her eyes upwards; they traced over his features just as her hands had a moment before. He had opened his eyes again, and now his gaze met hers steadily, questions and curiosity written in the very blue of his eyes. And she couldn’t look away.
Suddenly realizing exactly how long she’d been sitting there like that, Aoko coughed and jerked back far more quickly than she’d meant to. “S-sorry…” she mumbled the apology and turned to the mass of clay in front of her. “Spaced out again. You know how I can be…”
Kaito simply sat there, staring at her as she dug into the pale gray glob and got to work. She didn’t look at him, but rather felt his gaze. She blushed beneath his scrutiny, but made no comment on what had just happened between them. Instead, she focused on her hands and the clay, trying to mold it to the memories her fingers had just made.
It had all gone horribly, terribly wrong. This wasn’t supposed to have happened like this.
If it was just the bullets flying left and right, that would have been something he could have handled with relative aplomb. That was simply dodging and leading the fire away from the Taskforce while making sure he didn’t get hit himself. It wasn’t necessarily easy, but at least it was familiar.
But he hadn’t counted on a full frontal assault from his enemies. He hadn’t anticipated coming face to face with half a dozen black-clad figures, all wielding firearms and all shooting to kill. He hadn’t planned on having to run for his life like that.
And he had never dreamed that Aoko would be caught in the middle of it.
It wasn’t her fault, really. She’d seen a back way in, and figured she could head him off at the pass, as it were. If nothing else, all she’d really wanted to do was slow him down enough for her father to catch up and make the collar he’d been wanting to make for nearly two decades. Her act was innocent; she wanted to help her father.
Unfortunately, she’d walked right into the middle of a showdown between Phantom Thief 1412 and six armed men intent on his destruction. And they all looked at her like hunters would gaze at a deer.
What happened next…well, Aoko wasn’t one hundred percent sure. She remembered seeing the men, seeing Kid, and then she was being pulled by the hand at top speed down a hallway. Kaitou Kid was actually dragging her along while guns were firing and bullets were ricocheting around them.
As he pulled her around another corner, she felt a sting on her arm. Between adrenaline and fear, there wasn’t a great deal of pain, but when she looked down, she saw a slice torn from her sleeve and a dark stain already starting to spread onto the fabric. She’d been…shot. Or rather, a bullet had grazed her.
That realization alone was almost enough to send her into shock, but she forced herself to keep breathing and keep moving. If she stopped, she knew she would be killed. Her minor injury was proof enough of that—they didn’t care if she was an innocent or whatnot. She had inadvertently wandered into their way, and now she was a fair target in their eyes.
Suddenly, Aoko’s feet were no longer beneath her. She’d been swept up and was being carried along at top speed. She was too overwhelmed to protest, opting instead to wrap her arms around his neck and hold on for dear life. He wheeled around a corner, he released her; she stumbled in surprise, there was the sound of a door opening, a hand pressing on her back to force her forward, and then the faint smell of bleach invaded her nose as she heard a door close. Wherever she was, it was dark and her face was pressed against a wall; a warm, heavy weight was directly behind her, keeping her from moving.
She opened her mouth to protest this position, but was silenced when warm cloth slid over her face to stifle the sound. “Shh…” Kid’s voice breathed into her ear, not moving his hand from her mouth. Unable to do anything else, Aoko nodded mutely and waited.
Beyond the door, footsteps thundered by. They heard voices talking—all relatively low-pitched male voices—calling for them to be found immediately. The running steps continued on their way down the corridor, fading, fading…gone.
A few more seconds passed before she was released. “I apologize for the roughness. There wasn’t much time for pleasantries,” Kid said quietly as he stepped away from her, giving her room to move. She immediately whipped around to face him, her back pressed against the wall. As her eyes grew more and more accustomed to the darkness, she could make him out. They seemed to be in a closet, and it wasn’t a very large one, either.
Aoko could barely breathe. She was face to face with one of the most wanted men alive. Kaitou Kid, here, right in front of her. The only thing separating them was the narrow width of the closet. She could even reach out and touch him, if she wanted…
“Nakamori-san? Are you all right?”
His voice lilted through the darkness, and she jumped at the sound of it. He’d startled her out of her wandering thoughts, and she was thankful for the darkness; it hid her blush. “Yes. I mean, I’m fine.”
A pale green light flickered and ignited—a glow stick. By the faint illumination, she could see his outline more clearly in the darkness. It was probably impossible for him to be completely invisible in the darkness, given his outfit. The glaring white stood out like a sore thumb against the shadows.
She was startled when Kid moved towards her, reached out, and took her upper arm in a firm but surprisingly gentle hold. He raised her arm carefully, holding up the meager light source to make his closer examination a bit easier. “You were hit,” he said—was that worry in his tone? “Does it hurt?”
“No, it—yes it does…” Aoko changed her mind and winced in mid-thought as the adrenaline high began to wear off and real feelings started to slither back into place. She was now well aware of the fact that her knees were ready to give out, how out of breath she was, and the stinging pain in her arm.
Pressure on her arm drew her eyes back to the injury. She watched with some fascination as Kid created a makeshift bandage for her with what appeared to be scarves, your run-of-the-mill magic scarves. Kaito had a whole collection of them at home. But at least it was stopping the bleeding.
Aoko found her eyes tracing him. Even caught in the faint green light (which he was currently holding in his mouth), the suit was almost painfully white. She stared at him while he worked on her arm, quietly observing the way his gloved hands moved around her arm, expertly wrapping and weaving the scarves. She followed the line of his arms up to his shoulders, chest…it had to be the proximity. This was probably the closest anyone had ever been to Kaitou Kid on a heist, and the realization was stunning.
Why did he wear white, she wondered vaguely. It had to be a nightmare to keep clean—at least, that’s what her inner housekeeper was screaming. But really, it was such a strange color for a thief to wear. White like marble, like snow…
Like a ghost.
She shook herself quickly and replied, “Y-yes?”
He grinned. “Welcome back. Is that better?”
Aoko glanced down at the spot where the bullet had brushed against her skin and examined the bandage he’d applied. It didn’t hurt too much anymore, and the bleeding seemed to be contained. All in all, it was a lot better. Realizing that he was waiting for an answer, she looked up at him and managed the smallest of smiles. “Yes. Thank you.”
He nodded and stepped back to lean against the opposite wall. The green glow continued to give them minimal light, enough to chase away the worst of the shadows. And yet Aoko still found it difficult to really breathe; it was catching harshly in her throat.
Maybe it was the fact that he’d just saved her life. Perhaps it was the proximity—she was standing before a living legend, a man who had danced beyond the reach of the law for nearly two decades. Maybe she was in shock. Or maybe it was just that strange power he exuded. Standing this close, she swore she could feel something radiating from him. Could it be magic, she wondered?
Was he really magic? Or was it just smoke and mirrors, like what Kaito did?
But the strangest thing was that she felt no fear at all. He had grabbed her in the hallway, lifted her, carried her away as if he had stolen her and she was now his prize…and it had never occurred to her to be afraid of him; she’d been afraid of the situation, of the people chasing them, but her mind had somehow viewed him as a safety net through the entire ordeal. Even now as she thought about it, she realized that she had never felt any sort of danger while in his company. This wasn’t how she would normally feel or react towards her father’s great adversary, but given the circumstances and what had happened…well, if anything, she felt safer knowing he was near.
Why? Why wasn’t she even angry? She didn’t like him, and he had to know it. He’d made a fool of her father, he stole things, he broke the law and flaunted it in everyone’s face. She hated him, despised him and everything he did and everything he stood for and…well, his number one rule was that No One Got Hurt on his account. And there was something else, too…
He felt familiar.
His personality and mannerisms didn’t overtly resemble anyone she knew, and yet she couldn’t help but think that there was something about him that was comfortably recognizable. Either way, at the moment he was her best hope of making it out of this situation alive and in one piece. Like it or not, comfortable or not, she really had no choice but to trust him to see her to safety.
Kid spoke again, as though reading her thoughts—he couldn’t do that, right? “I promise you, Nakamori-san. I will return you safely to your father. And,” his next words were colored with unmistakable sincerity, “I’m very sorry you had to get caught up in this.”
Aoko nodded, now convinced that she was in shock at being shot at, or something similar to that. Why else wasn’t she grabbing something and letting him have it? Danger or not, she shouldn’t be this relaxed in the presence of the person she hated most.
Footsteps reappeared in the corridor outside, catching their attention. Aoko gasped on reflex and then clasped both hands over her mouth to quiet any further noise, while Kid glanced around frantically. Apparently seeing whatever he was looking for, he reached out…and the closet plunged back into darkness as he hid their meager light source under something.
The pattering outside walked straight past at a slow, steady tempo, pausing in the vicinity of the closet door. The two refugees held their breath until the footsteps continued and had finally vanished into the renewed silence of the hallway. But both remain still and silent for a moment longer before either of them even began to relax.
“I apologize again, Nakamori-san,” Kid said softly. “But I can’t risk them seeing the light.” His voice should not have calmed her as it did. But the moment he said it, she felt herself relax. He had a strangely calming effect on her, rather like Kaito did when he wasn’t trying to aggravate her.
It really was strange, how she kept comparing Kid to Kaito in her mind. There seemed to be a lot of parallels between the two of them, much as she didn’t want to admit it. She’d been wondering for a while as to exactly who Kid reminded her of, and now she figured it out. He was remarkably similar to Kaito. Almost too many similarities…
It can’t be…it just can’t be…
Kaitou Kid was a master of disguise. When becoming another person, he did so flawlessly. Even people who personally knew the soul he was impersonating usually couldn’t tell the difference. But he wasn’t wearing that kind of a mask right now—there was only the monocle. Which meant that this was, to a certain degree, the real person. And there was just something about him that made her think of…
He reminded her of…
There was something there that was just like…
Suddenly, she had the most overwhelming urge. She wanted to touch him. Whether it was him or not, for better or for worse, she had to know. And she was close enough to do it. To know the truth, she only had to reach out and touch the untouchable.
“…where are you?” she heard herself say. Without planning to, she reached out with both hands, groping through the shadows around them; truthfully, she’d never been fond of this kind of heavy darkness to begin with. She felt like she was stumbling around blind, though he wasn’t even a meter away. Even she was startled at the thin note of panic that appeared in her voice. “Please, where are you?”
Warm cloth touched her hand. “I’m here. It’s all right.”
Aoko didn’t dare admit that her heart had just skipped a beat. She refused to simply be won over, like one of those brainless fan club girls. Instead, she let her hand slip past his, trailing along his arm and up to his shoulder. He jerked back, but she held on and reached…
Her fingers brushed against his cheek, and she felt him stiffen.
Taking advantage of his momentary surprise (and slightly gratified that she had managed to startle the unshakable Kaitou Kid), she reached up with her other hand and set it along the other side of his face. She let her hands trace down the sides of his face, feeling along his chin before running back upwards to glide over his forehead and then back down.
When her fingertips brushed against the infamous monocle, he finally moved; gloved fingers tried to push hers away, and she shook her head, uncertain of whether or not he could see it. “Don’t worry. I won’t. I promise.” He seemed placated, but uneasy. Yet he allowed her to continue her blind study. Perhaps he was simply curious as to what she was trying to do or accomplish.
Aoko closed her eyes as she went on. Even as much as she despised him, she had to admit that he was handsome, almost a work of art; clad in white, he could have been a statue of white marble, the product of a talented artist’s loving hand. In his day-to-day life, he probably made girls swoon on a regular basis. But now she, too, had fallen under his spell, hadn’t she? She no longer had any control over her own actions as she continued to touch him. A horrible suspicion was being confirmed beneath her hands, and suddenly, she had a desperate, desperate urge to…
Kid waited with a certain degree of trepidation as her fingers followed the line downwards again, over his nose, and up to his lips. And there they lingered again, tracing and outlining his feature as she had the rest of his face—with that same painstaking care. She seemed to be categorizing every detail of him. As though to memorize him…
Suddenly, he realized what she was doing, and jerked back, silently berating himself for being so foolish as to let her get that close—why hadn’t he pushed her away at the very beginning? But Aoko grabbed onto the sides of his face again and held on. In the darkness, he could see her move—
His name—his true name, he realized with a jolt of panic—carried on a warm, whispered breath that Kaito felt against his own lips just before they were possessively captured by hers.
The force of her kiss was enough to push his head back against the wall, knocking his hat slightly askew on his head. He didn’t even have the presence of mind to pull back, move out of her reach, push her away and tell her that she’d obviously—no, she’d definitely mistaken him for someone else, no doubt about it. This was wrong. She was the daughter of the police inspector trying to capture him, and he was the infamous thief the police could never touch.
She hated him. Or she would hate him for this when it was all over.
It was wrong—this was just going to hurt her in the end.
Protests. Disclaimers. He needed to stop this, he needed to…
…he needed to kiss her back.
One gloved hand slid around her waist; the other inched up her back to her head and wove itself into her messy hair, drawing her right up against him. She let go of his face in favor of slipping her arms around his neck and holding on for dear life.
It was almost tantamount to a wordless confession, really, to kiss her back like this. She had guessed, and he had responded without intent or real thought. He was Kaitou Kid, and he was returning her kiss wholeheartedly. Guilty on all charges.
She was going to hate him. As soon as they were out of there and safe, she was going to realize what she’d just uncovered. She’d grasp who—and what—he truly was, and it would hurt her. When this was over…she’d tell her father, and he would be arrested. It was all over.
…so why wasn’t she pulling away? Had it not really clicked yet, that he was Kid and she was kissing him? If anything…if anything, she was trying to pull him closer, deepening the kiss. She said his name again, whispering it right against his mouth, and it sent a shudder through him, an adrenaline rush that even the most difficult heist couldn’t have caused.
It felt like ages before they finally pulled away. Both immediately began sucking air in rushed gasps, still close enough that each could feel the other’s breath. How long had they been like that, trapped by each other? Neither knew. But now they simply stared at each with wide, startled eyes, eyes that had adjusted enough to the darkness that they could see each other, just barely. What tiny amount of light there was reflected off her eyes and off the glass of his monocle…
Aoko spoke first. “It—it really is you…” The words weren’t angry or harsh. If anything, she sounded more confused and lost than furious, like a little girl. Her hand moved back up to touch the side of his face again. “It’s you…”
Kaito forced himself not to move, not wanting or able to let her go just yet. He’d just made a huge mistake—he should have pushed her away and come up with some kind of a disclaimer, and instead his response to her advance was strong enough that it even frightened him. She’d guessed, she had him dead to rights…and he didn’t dare move away from her. Still, he braced himself for the impact that he was certain was imminent. The hand on his cheek was probably going to pull back and slap him hard enough to break the sound barrier. Any minute now…
But that particular impact never came.
Instead, both her arms fell limply to her sides. It was like the air rushing out of a balloon, the way she just deflated. Her head dropped to rest against his shoulder, and instead of holding her, his arms were suddenly holding her up, supporting her as her knees stopped cooperating. She was definitely in shock, a far cry from the fury he’d really been expecting if she ever found him out.
Reality was slipping back in, and he was remembering their surroundings. They’d been here for far too long—it was time to get out of here. Every minute they spent here was another minute that they—that Aoko was in danger.
He gave her a tiny shake. “Aoko? Aoko, wake up!”
She stirred a bit and mumbled something against his shoulder.
“Aoko, we have to go,” he said, listening out into the hallway. He had remarkably good hearing, and had constantly been hearing a murmur outside, like there were people whispering relatively nearby. That sound was gone, which he could only hope meant that they could make their escape. He hadn’t heard police tramping through the building yet, either—rather surprising, but then again, they were up a good enough number of floors that the cops were probably still on the stairs, if they’d gotten in at all…
He just hoped that they hadn’t opened fire on the Taskforce…
Making a quick decision, he leaned Aoko back and gave her a slight shake; he could make out that her eyes were wide open…and he could see the faint reflection of what looked like tears glimmering there. “Aoko, please wake up! We have to go…” She wasn’t responding.
There was no time. He tilted her sideways until her back brushed against one arm. From there, it was easy enough to sweep her up from the floor. She didn’t move at all. He was getting more and more worried—she hadn’t responded since the kiss, since his silent idiotic admission.
Creeping out through the door, he found the hallway to be vacant again, and he immediately headed towards the stairs. He’d done his research on this place. He almost wanted to take the elevator, but his instincts said that to do so was a very bad idea, and so the stairs it was.
It was a good thing that he was accustomed to juggling things, else he might have had difficulties handling Aoko and opening doors at the same time. But it took minimal effort, and they were heading up the stairs as fast as he could manage with her weight in his arms—she really didn’t weigh very much, he noticed absently as he rounded another landing and continued upward.
“Kaito, put me down.”
Aoko’s voice, clear and coherent and icy cold, was startling enough to make him stop in his tracks on a landing between flights of stairs. He obediently lowered her feet to the ground, and once they were steady, he carefully let her go. She wavered only a bit, but stayed on her feet. When she looked at him, her eyes and expression were as warm and friendly as a glacier. There was the anger he’d been expecting and waiting for, along with…what was that other thing, just at the edges of the look she was giving him?
Her hands tightened into white-knuckled fists at her sides, and she took one step towards him. “You—you unbelievable—“ Her words were stammered, forced through clenched teeth and finally-acquired rage. “You—“
A crash a few flights below them startled them both. He leaned over the railing to look and saw a black trench coat heading up the stairs after them. Cursing under his breath, he pulled back, grabbed Aoko’s hand, and started running again, dragging her along behind him once more.
“Let me go!” she ordered.
“Do you want to get shot?” he replied, glancing back over his shoulder at her.
Her eyes had widened at that. “N-no…”
“Then keep running. They’re catching up.”
The stairs seemed to go on forever. They hadn’t been that far from the top, had they?
But finally, they burst out onto the rooftop, closing the door quickly behind them and shooting the deadbolt home. Chances were that it wouldn’t buy them a great deal of time, but at least it was something.
It was surprisingly quiet—no helicopters, which was definitely a good thing at this point in the game. Still, the echo of the continued police activity down on the street drifted up to their ears. Other than that, it was just them and the night sky looming above.
Both paused for a moment to catch their breath. Then Kid began moving towards the edge of the roof. One gloved hand opened, revealing the object of that evening’s heist: a large amethyst. Still a bit in shock, Aoko followed him silently to see what he would do.
He paused at the roof’s edge and looked up. “A full moon…” he whispered, raising the jewel as though offering it to the Moon Goddess herself. And he waited; Aoko was left wondering what exactly he was waiting for. But after a moment, he lowered his hands and sighed. “No. It wasn’t this one either…” He shook his head and the gem vanished, probably returned to wherever he had pulled it from in the first place.
Banging on the door behind them made both whirl around to stare at it. “They’re coming,” Kid said flatly. With the push of a button, his famous glider had deployed, and he turned his back to her; for a split second, Aoko actually thought he was going to leave her here, until he said, “Get on.”
“I’m going to fly us out of here,” he said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Get on, under the glider. It should get us a good enough distance away, at least.” He was already doing a mental scan over the landscape, trying to decide where the most likely landing point was.
It was on the tip of Aoko’s tongue to refuse, but another bang on the door stopped that cold. If she was here when they burst through, she was as good as dead. It was either accept his help and the proffered ride…or wait here and die. Not much for options, really.
Gritting her teeth and swallowing what was left of her pride, she stomped over and obediently crawled onto his back. There was a decent amount of space under there—she had plenty of room to breathe. All she really had to do was—
“Hold on,” he instructed, perching at the edge of the roof. “It’s going to get windy. Don’t let go.”
Aoko couldn’t bite back the curse this time. “No shit, Sherlock.”
There was a pause before he actually chuckled. “Welcome back. I was getting worried.”
That wasn’t quite the reaction she was expecting, but it was enough to make her fall into sullen silence. She wrapped her arms around him as tightly as she could and held on for dear life. She felt him move forward, and then the ground disappeared from beneath her feet as she heard a crashing noise and shouting behind her…
And then she was falling. They were falling.
And just as suddenly, the wind brushed its way through her hair. There was a pull on her whole body that sent her stomach rocketing up into her throat…and then they were soaring. Buildings were zipping by beneath her, but she wasn’t falling towards them or crashing into them.
She was flying.
In spite of the whole situation—she was, after all, in the company of one of the most wanted men in the world and the man who had apparently made a two-decade-long career out of tormenting her father, and she had just been shot at by men who didn’t seem to care that she wasn’t involved in whatever the hell was going on—Aoko couldn’t keep herself from gasping, “Oh, wow…”
Beneath her, she heard her traveling companion (as it were) chuckle. “Pretty impressive, isn’t it?”
She couldn’t deny it. “Yeah…” She was almost hypnotized by the thrill of flying. The wind running its coarse fingers through her hair, the adrenaline rush of skimming over the buildings, and the overwhelming beauty of it all. To see the world like this was amazing…to see it with him was something that could never be matched, she realized.
Even though he had lied to her and broken her trust…she had kissed him in that closet without hesitation and without really knowing why. There was something she held very close to her chest, and it was something that her heart was very hesitant to let go of so easily.
Aoko continued to watch as the landscape below flew by. It was addictive—this had to be what magic felt like. It had to be. And some part of her mind told her that maybe this was part of the reason he did what he did: to have a few moments like this of freedom from everything, including gravity.
All too soon, he was speaking to her again. “That’s where we’re going to land. It’ll be just a second, so hold on,” he instructed. Instinctively, she tightened her arms around his waist and squeezed her eyes shut. Her feet suddenly hit what felt like solid ground, and they nearly tripped over each other as both tried to slow the momentum. Eventually, they came to a skidding halt with no casualties.
Aoko slid out from under the glider and waited while he…well, put it away wasn’t the best or right term for what he did. It deflated and went away, reverting back to a normal cape. Or at least as normal as a cape could be, she supposed.
“Follow me,” he gestured; he strolled to the edge of the roof, swung a leg over, and started climbing down to an alleyway below. It seemed to her like he was doing some serious acrobatics to make it safely to the ground below. When he was safe on the pavement, he looked up at her expectantly. “Come on. It’s okay. This is the easiest way down.”
Aoko hesitated for only a moment. It’s Kaito. It’s just Kaito, she tried to tell herself, following his lead and sliding down onto the lower level of the roof, grabbing onto the drainpipe and feeling insanely awkward as she did so; she had none of his grace. It’s just Kaito…he’s Kid. He’s a criminal, but he’s still Kaito, right? He wouldn’t let me get hurt…
Suddenly, a horrible thought occurred to her. I know who he is! I could turn him in! I could tell Dad and he’d be arrested— Her thought was cut off as she reached out for a handhold…and her fingers closed around empty air. She was falling again, and this time there was no glider to carry her into flight. The drop was much less in terms of distance to the ground, but still…
She heard a voice call her name—and then something warm was under her and there was a jolt as they both hit the ground. Kid (Kaito, she reminded herself) landed on his feet, and immediately sat back to further cushion the impact, winding up right on top of his cape. She wound up sprawled across his lap in what could only be called an awkward position.
Shaking only slightly (how many more heart attacks could one person endure in a night, she wondered), she looked up at the face shadowed further by the hat brim. “You…saved me.”
“What else would I do?” he said; he sounded surprised. “Let you go splat?”
“Well, it certainly would have taken care of your problem,” she said, perhaps a bit more bitterly than she’d intended. Remembering her current position, she quickly pushed herself up to sit back on her knees. Suddenly she was cold, and she wrapped her arms around herself.
“Problem?” he asked. His tone had changed from startled to confused. He stood up, gave himself a quick dusting, and offered her a hand up. “What problem is that?”
“I know who you are,” she glared at him, not taking his hand.
There was a beat, and then he seemed to get it. “You thought I would just…you really thought—“ he stumbled back a step, putting one hand to his forehead. His voice had gone up about half an octave in pitch; he sounded stunned, incredulous. “You actually thought I would…Aoko, I can’t believe you!”
Watching him try to process the idea, Aoko suddenly felt guilty. It had been a stupid thought, she realized. Kid or not, Kaito was her friend and had been for so long. He wouldn’t just turn on her because she’d stumbled across something she wasn’t supposed to. And wasn’t Kid’s first rule No One Gets Hurt?
“Kaito, I…I’m sorry…” she said softly, rising to her feet. It seemed so pitiful to say it now.
To her open amazement, he stopped. He stared at her for a moment, then sighed and shook his head. “I guess you really don’t have much reason to trust me right now, do you? You said it yourself, you know who I am. If I were you, I wouldn’t—MMPH!” His rant was cut off when Aoko crossed the short distance between them, grabbed the back of his neck to pull him down to her, and kissed him again.
She pulled back quickly, tears shining in her eyes. Almost by habit now, her fingers skimmed over the line of his face before releasing him and stepping back. It was strange—he was the criminal, and yet she felt as though she was the one awaiting judgment.
After a long, quiet moment, Kaito reached out and took her hand. “Come on. I’ve got a base near here. It’s not too far.” He started to walk, and she followed him dutifully through the darkness of the back alleys, wondering where they were going.
Finally, he stopped and turned to her, releasing her hand. “Wait here,” he instructed, disappearing through a narrow opening in the wall, nearly invisible if one wasn’t specifically looking for it. She could only imagine how small the room behind that door must have been.
Aoko waited silently for him to emerge, but she was not still. She paced nervously, walking back and forth, pausing every few steps to glance over and see if he’d emerged from his little hideout. The seconds were so drawn out right now, she could barely stand it. But finally, after eons and eons had passed, she heard a scrape and whirled around.
He had reappeared, but it was no longer as Kaitou Kid. The suit, tie, cape, hat, and that damned monocle had vanished as easily as any prop in a magician’s spell, leaving only ripped jeans and a dark sweatshirt. Kid had disappeared, leaving only Kaito behind to handle whatever was coming next.
The minute she saw him, she realized that she couldn’t read him at all. He’d always had that mask he wore, that invisible screen to keep his real thoughts and feelings away from the rest of the world. Still, she’d known him for most of her life; she knew him better than most, and so had always been able to glean at least some of what was going on behind that façade. Now…there was nothing. The mask was clamped down tightly enough to shut even her out.
She took that as a sign that he was either nervous or frightened.
He was silent a moment before he asked, “What now?”
“I want to know,” she said without hesitation. That was really what she wanted right now—she wanted the story. All of it. Only then could she make a decision about what she was going to do. There was a small corner of her conscience that kept reminding her that he had probably saved her life tonight, and that might have been what was holding her back from immediately going in search of a phone. If nothing else, she at least owed him the courtesy of an explanation.
“Don’t ‘Aoko’ me, Kaito,” she said, feeling a bit of her confidence returning. “You’ve got some major explaining to do. I want the entire story right now!” She stomped her foot to accent her point, like a child demanding something she had been told she couldn’t have. That’s really what she felt like.
“…I’m not sure you want to know,” Kaito said softly. “It’s not pleasant.”
“Please. Tell me,” she said. She was begging now, and she knew it and hated it, but she had to know the whole story before she decided what she was going to do. There had to be a reason that Kaito would do this…she really wasn’t angry, and that surprised her. She was hurt, confused, and no little frightened. But she was unable to summon any of the anger she’d always felt towards her father’s nemesis.
He fidgeted the tiniest bit. “It’s a very long story.”
“…would you tell me?” she asked quietly, half-afraid that he would say no. “Tell me the truth.” One hand unconsciously slipped to her arm, to the place where the bullet had grazed her; she felt the makeshift bandage he had fashioned for her from magician’s scarves, remembered how that whole awful thing had felt, and silently resolved to hear him out before deciding what to do.
Kaito’s back remained to her for a moment, just long enough for her to think that he’d completely rejected her and her plea for the truth; the very thought nearly broke her heart. Kaitou Kid or not, he was still one of her closest friends, and rejection on any level hurt. But just before the sob rising in her throat could escape, he turned and walked straight to her, arms outstretched. His hands found their way to her shoulders, and he bent his head a tiny bit to place a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“Kaito?” she whispered, ignoring the warm feeling fluttering in her stomach at the contact.
“Come on—not here,” he said, walking past her and catching her hand as he did so. She was led back along through whatever secret alleyway they had initially come through, and in a surprisingly short time they were back on the sidewalk, two people in the midst of many. No one seemed to notice them.
Aoko continued to follow, not quite sure where he was taking her. But she was surprised when he led her to a small café and walked inside, gesturing for her to follow him. In short order, they were seated with steaming drinks in front of them. Nestled into the safety of a corner booth, they could talk with little risk of being overheard.
Kaito blew on his hot drink in an attempt to cool it a bit before taking a sip. He lowered the cup to the tabletop again and sighed. Aoko waited patiently for him to reassemble his thoughts, uncertain as to what story was about to be dropped into her lap.
“I want you to hear me out,” he said, keeping his focus on the mug in front of him. “You said you wanted to hear this, so I’m going to tell you. I want you…I guess I hope you’ll try to understand. After that…well, if you want to call your father and turn me in, that’s up to you. I won’t blame you at all.” He took a shaky breath; she had never seen him so unnerved. “I’ll understand if you do. I guess I always figured that if it came down to me or your father, I’d lose.”
“I want to know all the facts before I make any decisions,” Aoko said firmly, with a good deal more confidence than she really felt. In truth, she was worried. He seemed so tired, and the look she had seen in his eyes…she hadn’t seen that look since the day of his father’s funeral. “So start talking.”
He was quiet again, long enough for her to wonder if he’d changed his mind. But finally, Kaito raised his eyes to meet her gaze squarely, and began to tell his story in a calm, even voice, “It all started a long time ago, before we were born. It started with my father…”
Sensei wandered the room, examining the students’ work. They’d been working with their partners on their sculptures for several days now, and the projects were in varying stages of completion. Some were excellent, some were good, some were not-so-good, and some were obviously only taking an art class because they’d been forced into it, but were nonetheless giving it the good ol’ college try.
Finally, near the end of the period, she reached the last workstation. Kuroba Kaito and Nakamori Aoko were chatting animatedly while Kuroba seemed to be putting the final touches on his work; a second, apparently finished sculpture was sitting beside Aoko’s elbow. As Sensei approached, he sat back in his chair and smiled in apparent satisfaction.
The teacher peered over their shoulders at the two finished clay sculptures, and her jaw nearly dropped. “These are incredible!” she admitted, leaning in for a closer examination. “Nakamori-san, this looks just like him!” She pointed at the form of Kaito’s head—it was Kaito, right down to the messy hair and big, mischievous smile. “And Kuroba-kun…it’s a perfect likeness!” Aoko’s face smiled back at her two times over, every detail exactly the same.
“Thank you!” both chimed.
Straightening up, Sensei smiled down at them. “I think you both put a lot of love into these works.” She’d heard all the rumors about these two—everyone knew, be they student or faculty—and it was rather adorable to see simultaneous blushes creep across their faces. She chuckled and headed back towards the front of the room. It was almost time to start cleaning up.
Kaito leaned forward and regarded the two art pieces with a critical eye. “I think they’re kind of creepy, really” he said finally. Then he grinned and pointed, “Have you seen your head today? I have.”
Aoko leaned over to give him a light slap on the arm to quiet him. “Hush, you.”
He caught her hand and grinned. “Mine’s freaky. Yours…well, it looks just like you.”
It took her a moment to realize that she wasn’t being insulted. In fact, Kaito’s face had acquired a deeper pinkish hue. Once she grasped what he was really saying, she returned the smile and gave his hand a squeeze before letting go. “Yeah. A real piece of work.”
PS. And we’ve reached the halfway point! Twenty down, and twenty to go. YAY! A nice long one, too—the longest one I’ve written for this challenge thus far, clocking in at just under eight thousand words. All in all, I’m relatively happy with how this came out. Almost veered off in entirely new directions a few times, but it stayed more or less on course. That, and it kept going and going…it wasn’t supposed to be this long, but the plunnie kept growing!
This story…I actually had the idea for the random scene a while ago, of Aoko realizing that Kaito is KID by touching his face and recognizing his features. It kinda got shoved in the Junk Drawer section of my mind. Then I was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and it just went BOOM. I had to use it as the halfway point of the challenge because I like the idea so much.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. A hundred thanks to all who have read and reviewed thus far. I sincerely hope you’ll stick with me for the next twenty stories. See you next time. Thank you—much love, all!