Fandom: Detective Conan/Magic Kaitou
Theme: #4—darkness in my heart
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 said they were a gift from her grandfather.
Hey kid, look at me
All in all, Kaito reflected, life was sweet.
He was married to the love of his life—mop chases and all. He truly had followed in his father’s footsteps onto the world stage as an accomplished magician and performer; in fact, he’d just finished a tour of Europe and come home…to find Aoko waiting for him with a good-natured list of chores (and a kiss, of course), and Aya-chan waiting to tackle her father with the biggest hug a four-year-old could muster up. He had a family he adored, a career he loved, a home to return to…life was more or less wonderful.
But at the moment, there was nothing to do but relax. It was for this reason that he found himself sitting on the couch, watching his young daughter play on the floor…practicing her juggling. Aoko walked into the room and stood behind him with her arms around his neck. It was a perfect family picture.
After a minute, though, he realized that she wasn’t working with the little set of juggling balls he’d gotten her as a present. These were a bit smaller, and where the balls had been blue and red, these seemed to be a shimmering iridescent. Very pretty…except he had no idea where she’d gotten them.
“Aoko,” he leaned back to whisper to his wife, “did you give her those?”
She shook her head. “No, I thought you did.”
Now bewildered and no little concerned, he got up and moved to sit on the floor beside his daughter. This wasn’t out of the ordinary—he was a doting father, after all—and so she just smiled and said, “Hi, Daddy!” That was enough to momentarily break her concentration, and the objects she’d been working with dropped into her hands and to the carpet beside her.
“Aya-chan, where did you get those?” he asked, picking up one of the small stones for closer examination. They were just what they appeared to be: small jugging stones, the perfect size for a four year old’s hands. She was already fairly good at it; it could never be said that the girl wasn’t a Kuroba. Aoko swore up and down that she was already her father’s daughter…and she would never forgive him for it.
“Grandpa gave them to me,” she said, starting another round of juggling the stones minus the one sitting in her father’s palm. “On my birthday. He said to keep practicin’ and stuff.”
Aoko had moved up behind them and stooped to speak to her daughter. “Aya-chan, Grandpa didn’t give you those for your birthday. He gave you those books about magic because you wanted to learn, remember? We read them to you.” They remembered well the squeals of delight upon the opening of that particular present. The gruff Inspector worshipped his first grandchild.
Aya shook her head fervently. “No—other grandpa!”
Kaito felt something inside him go icy cold. “You only have one grandfather.”
“Nuh-uh!” she said in the typical manner of a young child. “I have two. Other Grandpa just doesn’t come to play very much.” That last was said rather sadly. “He knows lots of fun stuff.”
Behind him, Kaito heard Aoko gasp. Fighting to keep himself in careful check (Poker Face, he reminded himself—don’t forget Poker Face, and don’t scare your daughter), he tried again. “When does…your other grandpa come to play? What kind of fun stuff does he know? Did he tell you his name?”
“His name’s Grandpa!” Aya said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “He comes to play sometimes at night after I get tucked in. I showed him how Daddy taught me to juggle—Grandpa said I’m really, really good at it, too. And I let him play with Hikaru.” Hikaru was Aya’s favorite toy, a stuffed bunny rabbit that she couldn’t sleep without. “He knows lots of magic stuff, and he tells funny stories with lots of funny voices.” There was a pause before she added the kicker, unintentionally twisting a knife of ice in her father’s chest. “He’s like Daddy!”
Kaito felt faint. Aoko touched his shoulder, and he silently thanked his lucky stars that he had her. It was enough to keep him steady as he asked, “Aya-chan…how many times has he come to visit you?”
“Not a lot,” she said, tossing the juggling stones from hand to hand. “Sometimes Grandpa doesn’t even play. He just sits and talks to me and stuff. I wish he’d come over and play more. I like him!”
Apparently deciding that the conversation had gone on long enough, she turned her attention back to her juggling stones—the gift from her mysterious grandfather—and went back to practicing, leaving her stunned parents to retreat to another room for a conference.
But who do they see?
“I don’t understand,” Kaito murmured. One hand slid over his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger; he had a headache. “I just don’t understand. If Aya-chan is telling the truth—and either she is or she believes she is—then…” He trailed off.
Aoko’s hand was cool on his forehead. They were on the couch: she was sitting at one end, and he was lying out on his back, his head pillowed comfortably in her lap, her hand gently brushing over his hair. Again, she was his steady pillar, and he again found himself thanking every deity he could think of that he’d married her. They’d really grown up since their high school days. “Maybe it’s just her imagination?”
“She seems so sure about it…” he sighed, closing his eyes and trying to focus on the soothing feel of her touch. He was slowly realizing that he wasn’t really bothered by the idea that his father might be visiting Aya at night. He was Grandpa, after all. That wasn’t what was eating at him. No, the shadow that clawed at his insides when he thought about it was something else…
“She’s also four years old, and has quite an imagination. Now, it’s almost dinnertime,” Aoko said, dipping her head to plant a kiss on his forehead. She carefully eased out from under him, letting his head fall back onto the couch cushions. “Are you going to be all right, or do I have to go get a mop?”
He had to chuckle at that mental image. “Been a while since we’ve had a mop chase. Shouldn’t we be setting a good example for our daughter? She’s at a very impressionable age, you know.”
“You’re walking bad example,” Aoko replied. “If anything, I should be training her for when she’s a teenager.” She stood up.” I’m going to make dinner. And hey—don’t think about it so much. I’m sure she’s just imagining things, or she was dreaming.” With that, she was gone in search of food for her family.
He smiled slightly as she left. She was still the fiery, feisty woman he’d married, but when the occasion called for it, she had a practical streak in her a mile wide. He vaguely wondered if it was a ‘mom thing.’ But now he was alone to speculate as to whether or not something was going on with his child.
Yet in spite of his tattered, jumbled thoughts, he felt himself beginning to nod off. Why was he so tired all of a sudden? Still, he let his head lull limply to the side. Maybe a quick nap before dinner would make him feel better, or at least chase away some of the ache echoing deep in his chest…
Well, hell, I guess that’s what I am
It was like an image from the past, something from a photograph. Kaito was standing in the doorway of a room obviously decorated as a nursery. There was a crib in the center of the room with a tiny form curled inside, sound asleep. He recognized the scene instantly: this was Aya-chan’s nursery, decorated as it had been when they’d brought her home from the hospital. The sky beyond the window was darkened; it was nighttime.
What made him freeze was the figure standing beside the crib, looking down into it. The person’s back was to Kaito, but it made no difference. He knew instinctively who was standing there, and it made something inside him turn dark and icy.
With slow, uncertain steps, he walked into the room, stopping just behind the person. He opened his mouth to speak, then faltered, swallowed hard, and tried again, this time managing a whispered, “Dad?”
The person turned, and Kaito found himself staring into a face he had only seen in photographs and memories for the last seventeen years: his father, the late Kuroba Toichi…who was watching him with a slight smile. “Kaito.” He turned his head back to the crib.
Kaito followed his gaze, and wasn’t surprised to see Aya-chan curled there, just as she had been as an infant when they’d finally let her start sleeping in her own room. She’d spent her first few weeks at home in a cradle in her parents’ room; they were new parents, after all, and reluctant to let their pride and joy too far away at first. With those same slow steps, he joined his father beside the crib; for a moment, neither of them spoke, but simply looked at the little girl.
“So what do you think?” Kaito asked. The silence wasn’t tense, but it was making him nervous.
“Ya done good,” Toichi chuckled, both at the question and at his son’s responding blush. He let his arms rest on the edge of the bars. “She’ll be a real beauty when she grows up.”
“She looks just like her mother,” Kaito nodded, not even bothering to try and hide the affection in his voice. “But when push comes to shove, she’s her father’s daughter through and through, and Aoko swears that she will never forgive me for it.”
Toichi laughed again. “I think she already knows that she’s Daddy’s girl.”
Kaito imitated his father’s pose and leaned on the crib. “Did she tell you that?”
“She did. She loves to tell me all about you and the things you teach her.”
There was another silent moment.
“Why Aya-chan?” Kaito said suddenly. He hadn’t really meant for it to pop out like that. But before he’d had the presence of mind to stop himself, he heard himself speak. Meanwhile, the figure in the crib was growing. It was like watching a time-lapse video on fast-forward. He could see her growing; with each second, the newborn inched closer to the four-year-old girl she was now.
Toichi looked blank. “What do you mean?”
“I understand why you come to see her,” Kaito went on; the words were just pouring out of him in a rush. “She’s your granddaughter. But…why just Aya-chan? Why didn’t you…” He finally reined himself in, regained control over his mouth, and fell silent, turning his gaze back to the crib.
Toichi was silent, waiting for his son to finish. He seemed to understand perfectly, and yet…
Finally, Kaito turned his head to look away and let the last of it out. “Why didn’t you come check in on me? I…I missed you. A lot. And what about Mom? She missed you, too.” It sounded so bitter to his own ears. Even after all this time, he really was such a whiny child. There were a few more things sitting on the tip of his tongue, horrible things that he couldn’t bring himself to say. “Why, Dad? Why?”
There was a pregnant pause, enough time for all those awful, lonely memories to flash through his head, a tragic movie on fast-forward. Nine years old, attending a funeral that no child his age should have ever had to suffer through. The realization that his father was really gone for good.
Eleven years old, listening to two of the other boys in his class talk about going to a big baseball game that coming weekend with their fathers and which players were the absolute best. Burying his face in a book and trying desperately not to think about his own father.
Fourteen years old, things are starting to change and boys are starting to grow up. No father there to talk to about the tough stuff. Swallowing everything and hiding it behind the most important thing Dad had left to him: the mask of Poker Face.
Seventeen years old, finding out a little secret that would change his life forever. The truth about why his father wasn’t there—that he’d been taken from them by another person—and the comprehension as to just how deep Kaitou Kid’s secret life really ran…he hung his head as though ashamed, and waited for the answer that would inevitably come.
“Kaito…” the sad smile was evident in Toichi’s voice, “…what makes you think I didn’t?”
He looked up at his father with wide eyes. “But…but…” He stammered, then sighed, looking down again. “You never let me see you,” Kaito said, though it wasn’t so much accusatory as sad. “You let Aya-chan see you.”
“Aya-chan wasn’t supposed to see me,” Toichi’s smile was a bit sheepish. “When you were that age, we’d come to check on you—but we had to be ready to drop to the floor because if you saw us, you wouldn’t go back to sleep. And your little head could pop up faster than a cobra’s, I swear. I forgot to take that into consideration, and…well, she saw me. Curious little thing, isn’t she? Wanted to know everything, so…” He sighed. “Can you blame me, Kaito? Can you blame me for wanting to spend what little time I could with my granddaughter?”
“I already said I didn’t. I guess I don’t understand why you’d want to spend some time with your granddaughter, but not with your son.” This time, there was no mistaking the bitterness.
Dad sighed. “Kaito, it’s just…it’s hard to explain.”
“You remind me of myself,” Toichi said wryly. “I…was afraid.”
That definitely wasn’t the answer Kaito had been expecting, and he openly gaped.
Toichi went on. “I just vanished on you like that. It hurt to watch you and your mother after that. I wasn’t sure if it would help you to see me and talk to me, knowing that I was dead and couldn’t really be there for you, or if you would resent me, especially when you found out the whole truth…” He chuckled, a sad, humorless laugh. “To be perfectly blunt, I chickened out. Sad, isn’t it?”
Kaito’s arms dropped limply to his sides. He turned his eyes back to the child in the crib, who had grown from a newborn to an infant to a toddler to a four-year-old girl, sound asleep. His gaze softened before shifting back up to his father, who waited silently for judgment.
There was a tug; Kaito realized that he was waking up. There was no time left, no time to be angry or hurt or bitter. This was already far too short a moment and it was ending and there was still so much left that he needed to say…
Taking advantage of a need he had buried so many years ago, he lunged forward. Dad seemed to know what was coming and what was needed, and caught him. And for the first time since he was eight years old…Kaito hugged his father.
It couldn’t last long; the dream was ending. But Kaito felt his carefully-crafted mask crack just a bit as he murmured into Dad’s shoulder. “Don’t hide anymore, dammit. I miss you…”
I miss you too…
The reply was lost to the darkness.
I’m a family man
Kaito’s eyes snapped open to find a pair of wide blue eyes (so like his own) peering at him inquisitively. “W-what?” he shook his head, trying to wake up. “What happened?” He was fighting to remember, grasping at the last faint strands of a dream. His father…what in the world…focus. Aya was demanding his attention. Focus on the offspring now, panic later.
It was actually kind of difficult to not pay attention to his daughter at the moment, though. Aya was sitting on his stomach and poking him in the forehead. “You were snoring!” she giggled.
“I most certainly was not!” Kaito protested. He sat up, reaching out with both hands to catch his daughter before she tumbled backwards to the couch cushions. She squealed in delight, which turned to a scream of laughter as she found herself being tickled before he scooped her up, slung her over his shoulder and headed into the kitchen, where the wonderful smells indicated that there would soon be food.
“What are you two doing?” Aoko glanced up as the rest of her family joined her.
“Daddy snores!” Aya announced with a squeal of laughter, squirming and waving her arms from her precarious perch on his shoulder. “And he sounds like this!” She attempted the most outrageous snoring sound she could muster up—it sounded extremely odd, to say the least.
“I do not!” Kaito said.
“Actually, you do. But that’s all right,” Aoko said airily, reaching to rescue her daughter from Daddy’s evil clutches. In a moment, the four-year-old was scampering towards the table.
Kaito pouted. “This is a conspiracy…”
Her expression softened once their child was out of immediate earshot. “Are you okay?”
“Hmm? Oh…yeah. I’m fine,” he shrugged noncommittally.
She looked concerned. “Are you sure?”
He nodded, feeling a slight smile inch its way across his face. “Let’s just say that things have been worked out.” He watched Aya run around the kitchen with her arms straight out, making zooming airplane noises, and his smile widened. “Definitely okay.”
“…did something happen?” Aoko asked.
“Maybe,” Kaito said. “I’ll tell you later.”
“Kaito—“ she started, but was cut off when he suddenly pulled her to him and kissed her. It wasn’t long, but it was enough to take her breath away. When she pulled back, she looked up at him with wide eyes and flushed cheeks. “Kaito…” she said his name again, breathlessly this time.
There was a faint pink color painting his cheeks to match hers; his hands were on her forearms to keep her close as he leaned forward to let his forehead rest against hers. “Aoko, I know I don’t tell you this often enough, but…I love you.” There was never enough time to say all the things one needed to say…best to get as much of it out in the open while that time was still there.
Aoko smiled. “I know. Even if you don’t say it. And I love you too.” She leaned up to kiss him this time. It was such a sweet moment that they both forgot about something very important. Until…
“EWW!” Aya-chan grimaced, wrinkling her nose at the display.
Kaito turned a light Look on his daughter…and then chased her merrily around the dining room table a few times while Aoko laughed at them both and went back to her dinner preparations.
How can you know what it’s worth
Aoko was lost to the innocence of slumber. Aya-chan was cuddled beside her mother, a small stuffed bunny (her beloved Hikaru) nestled possessively beneath one small arm; her other hand was by her face, her thumb dangling precariously from her mouth. She’d crawled into bed with her parents not long before—not an unusual occurrence.
Kaito was still awake, watching his wife and daughter sleep. Seeing them like that just drove home exactly how much Aya looked like her mother, right down to the way they were breathing in unison and the way that one stray little lock of brown hair dangled down over their foreheads.
Aya was going to break hearts someday—there was absolutely zero doubt of that. But for now, Daddy was perfectly content to be the one and only man in her life. And when that day came, that some boy came to take her away, he’d handle it like any other sensible father.
A trap-door in the front porch would do nicely. Possibly leading to a shark tank.
Smiling to himself at the thought, he pulled the blanket a little closer around himself and snuggled a little closer to Aya-chan. He usually didn’t stay up this late, but sometimes it was nice to just watch his family when he was unhindered. He’d learned the hard way that one never knew when one might lose it all.
That led his thoughts back to the events of earlier—that dream, and the conversation within it. To talk to his father again, even if it wasn’t technically real…
What he’d said was true—he really hadn’t realized exactly how much he still missed his father until he’d come face-to-face with the man in the realm of sleep-induced fantasy. It was just that tiny spot of darkness deep within him that hadn’t let go, and he’d been unaware of it.
Things seemed a bit lighter now. It was such a relief, to just get it off his chest and let it out…
The thought trailed off and was punctuated by a yawn. It was late. He needed to sleep.
But just before he closed his eyes, Kaito could have sworn he saw a shadow flit by the door. The previous night, such a thing might have alarmed him if he hadn’t just written it off as the product of an exhausted mind coupled with a rampant imagination.
He simply smiled and closed his eyes to follow his family to Dreamland.
Are you to be the indication
That I walked the face of this earth?
PS. Another of those ideas I’ve had for ages and ages and finally decided to get down on paper so I could get it out of my head. fyliwionvilyaer, this is for you. You requested something with Kaito and “pretty much anything except angst,” so here ya go, dear. Also, special thanks to fyliwionvilyaer, jeva_chan, articulation, and magic_truth for their input (when I gave them a sneak peek!) The lyrics are from a song called “Fathers of Fathers” from the musical Closer Than Ever, used without permission.
Also, I’m officially in love with Aya-chan. I grew rather attached to my Little Plot Device :) Thanks for reading, everyone. Much love! And jeva_chan, just for you…
A sound caught Kaito’s ear, loud enough to snag his attention, but not loud enough to wake up his family. He glanced back over his shoulder at the source of the noise—the door to the closet had opened. After studying the scene for a few seconds, he sighed and rolled back over. “Dad, get out of my closet.”
A shadow-head poked out through the open closet door. “No.”