Fandom: Detective Conan/Magic Kaitou
Theme: #36—don’t worry, I’ll always be by your side
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: Why do you have that effect on me?
The voice came over his shoulder, and he nearly jumped. “Koizumi…”
The crimson-haired sorceress leaned down so that her cheek was almost brushing his. She wore that constant, knowing smile. “I think you need help.” She went on, cutting him off before he could protest. “Don’t worry. You’ll have some help before the day is out.” She smirked, straightened up, and breezed on her way towards her desk, leaving him to wonder exactly what was going on.
Everyone else had already vacated the classroom; only Kaito and Aoko remained behind. They would have been out the door with the rest of their classmates, but the handle on Aoko’s school satchel had mysteriously snapped when she picked it up; its contents had wound up spilled across the tile floor. By the time she’d gathered all of her things up once again, the rest of the class was gone.
As Kaito passed her the last notebook, he suddenly tensed. “What was that?”
“What was what?”
“I thought I felt something,” he said, looking around. “The hair on the back of my neck just stood up. It’s really weird…” He paused, then shrugged. “Eh, must’ve been my imagination. Got your stuff?”
“Yup, I think we’re good,” she walked past him to the door and tugged on it…and nearly went flat on her face when the door didn’t slide open as it usually. She hadn’t expected it to be locked. “What in the world?” She started tugging on the door frantically. “It’s…locked.”
“How could it be locked?” Kaito asked, trailing off a bit at the end.
Aoko could have sworn she heard him mutter ‘Koizumi…’ under his breath, but she wasn’t sure. She simply focused on the door and the fact that it would not open and how frustrating it was and how she was trapped in a classroom with Kaito, and…and…
He watched her struggle with the door for a moment longer before cocking his head to one side and asking, “You seem awfully desperate to get away. Is it because of me? Am I really that terrifying?”
She didn’t look away from the door handle, nor did she really think before she answered him. “Not in the way you think, smart guy.” There was a pause when she realized just what she’d said.
“I’m hurt, Aoko. Truly. Right here,” he pouted and pointed to his heart for emphasis.
Aoko paused in her struggles to glare at him. “Oh, knock it off. It’s not that.”
“Oh?” he wormed right up next to her. “Then what is it, ‘xactly?”
She knew that there was no way he would possibly miss the way her hands suddenly start shaking with nerves; he always knew, and it was infuriating. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”
“If it was nothing, you wouldn’t be attacking that door like it kicked your dog or something. What’s the matter—are you afraid of my unmatched wit and charm?” he asked with a broad smile.
“T-that’s not it!” Aoko protested, feeling herself blush; privately, she did have to admit that he was very charming. But she couldn’t tell him that—his ego didn’t need the feeding.
Panic. Panic was starting to rise. She had to get out of there…
Between her frustration with the door and her panic and nervousness at dealing with Kaito, Aoko did something which she immediately realized was incredibly stupid: she punched the door. The door was quite unaffected; the same couldn’t be said for her hand, however. She recoiled, clutching at her injured hand and pulling it against her stomach. The pressure helped stave off some of the pain, but it still hurt. “Oww, dammit…that was really dumb…”
Beside her, she heard Kaito mutter, “Idiot.”
Her face was burning a bright scarlet with shame. Just when she thought she couldn’t feel any more foolish, he had to open his mouth and put his two cents in. And her hand was killing her to boot, this just was not her day…
Something touched her injured hand softly and pulled it out into the open. She watched silently as Kaito produced a couple of magician’s scarves from nowhere and went about wrapping her hand with far more gentleness than she usually expected from him. “Now, Aoko—what in the world did you do that for?”
Aoko sighed. Maybe she could get away just telling part of the truth. “I’m…I’m just frustrated.”
“About what?” he asked quietly, winding the scarves around her palm.
“…things,” she finally said lamely after grappling for a few seconds.
He smiled up at her. “Ah, things. Yes, they can be quite a trying subject.” He knotted the scarves against the back of her hand, finishing her makeshift bandage. It really shouldn’t have made her hand hurt any less, but somehow the pain was receding. Could it really be magic? She had to wonder sometimes.
She couldn’t bring herself to smile back; she simply shook her head. “You just don’t get it.”
His look turned sympathetic. “Maybe I would if you tell me?”
“No, no. I don’t think so,” Aoko shook her head again, this time more fervently, before looking down at her bandage and sighing, “I don’t think so. You won’t like it.”
Aoko hesitated, worrying her lower lip with her teeth. He was giving her such an encouraging look. Damn that aura he had about him, that feeling he gave off that made you want to tell him everything, share all your dark secrets. She had to resist that, if only to protect their friendship.
She shook her head. “I don’t think so. You’re probably better off not knowing.”
His expression fell a little when she again refused to tell him. But at her last words, his expression grew concerned, his eyes clouded. “Better off not knowing…Aoko, is something really wrong? Are you all right?” He almost looked scared, as if he thought there was really something to be afraid of.
“No—it’s nothing bad! Nothing like that!” she said quickly. “At least, I don’t think it’s anything bad like you’re thinking. It’s just…” she turned her head to look away, “I don’t know how you’ll take it.”
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “you’ll never know if you don’t tell me.”
“But if I tell you and you get upset—“
“Aoko, I promise,” he silenced her, surprising her by reaching out with one hand to touch her cheek. “I promise I’ll stay here and listen to you. It’s up to you if you want to tell me or not. That’s your choice. But don’t worry—I’ll always be right here to listen to you.”
She fidgeted nervously for a moment before daring to look up at him hopefully. “Promise you won’t get upset or anything?
Kaito smiled. “Promise.”
Aoko took a deep breath. “Well, I guess…I mean, I…what I want to say is…” Her tongue went into an open rebellion; this went on for a few seconds before her face fell and she looked down again, giving herself a hard mental kick. “Crap, I can’t do it. I can’t do this.”
He looked on silently until she gave up, then raised a hand. A perfect red rose appeared in his hand, materializing from nowhere. He held it out to her with another of those mysterious smiles, the ones that just made her feel like everything was okay in the world. “Yes, you can.”
She slowly took it with her uninjured hand and studied it for a moment before she actually chuckled sadly. “How do you always do that? Dammit, why do you always do that?”
That same enigmatic smile. “Magic, of course.”
Aoko was unappeased, staring at the flower. “I don’t understand. I’ve seen you do that stupid trick a hundred times, several hundred times. It was the first thing you did when we met. Why does it still have that effect on me?” She swallowed hard and was silent a moment before adding in a small voice, “…why do you have that effect on me?”
"Because,” he said knowingly, “magic never loses its spell. No matter how many times a trick is performed, it's always mystical. It brings out something in a person’s imagination that makes her believe in hope, life, and love. And," He smiled broadly, “I also know for a fact that you cannot resist roses."
She sighed and seemed to mull that over. When she spoke again, a bare whisper, she kept her gaze squarely on the rose. “You know so much…can you explain why I love you?”
He just looked at her for a moment—this girl sitting quietly next to him, contemplating the mysteries of magic and flowers—before he reached out with both hands to pull her into a rough sideways hug. “No,” he said, just as softly, “because I can’t totally explain why I love you, either.”
Aoko stiffened for a moment before she relaxed, letting her head relax against his shoulder. Some small part of her noticed that it felt like such a perfect fit. “I swear to God, Kaito, if you’re pulling my leg…” she let it trail off; there wasn’t much force behind the implied threat.
He chuckled, and she could hear the sound rumbling deep in his chest. “I’ll get the mop?”
“…more like I’ll cry for a really long time, and then never speak to you again. Ever,” she said honestly, startled to feel the beginning of tears burning behind her eyes.
“Not even if I give you sad puppy dog eyes?” he prodded with a feigned pout.
“That’s one offense I don’t think I could ever forgive, puppy dog eyes or not,” she admitted. She risked a look up at him, her eyes wide and almost fearful. “Kaito…you’re not pulling my leg, are you?”
He looked her straight in the eye and, with earnest seriousness, said, “Well, my arms are around you and not around your leg. So since I don’t have telekinesis, I would have to say that no, I’m not pulling your leg. Besides,” he gave her a pat on the back, “I love ya too much to give you a sprained ankle.”
Aoko stared at him for a long moment before whispering intently, “…you are an idiot sometimes. You know that?”
His grin grew wider. “But you love me anyway.”
“Yeah, I do. Wonder what that says about me.”
Kaito smirked and raised a suggestive eyebrow. “That you love mysterious, attractive men who make you smile with magic and swoon at the sound of their voice?”
“…actually, I was thinking more along the lines of ‘I have no taste.’ But whatever works,” Aoko replied, grinning wickedly.
He jerked back, a feigned look of hurt on his face. “Aoko, how could you? Is that what you really think? I give you my heart, and this is what I get? You’re so cruel!”
Rolling her eyes, she reached up and poked his forehead with her bandaged hand; it didn’t really hurt anymore. “You know I’m joking, now stop being such a drama queen.” She felt herself blush again when he caught her hand and held it, drawing it to him and pressing his lips to her fingers.
They sat quietly, together. Neither spoke again. They simply looked at each other, letting the revelations of the past twenty minutes sink in and the possibilities of the future begin to dawn. And then…
A loud click dropped into the silence.
Kaito got up and crossed the room to check, slid the door open, and turned around with a big smile on his face. “Hey, the door’s unlocked!” he said cheerfully. “We can get outta here now! Good thing, too—the sun’s setting. It’ll be dark soon—the parents are probably wondering where the hell we are. Hope your dad doesn’t decide to kill me…”
It was amazing, really, how he could just start acting like himself again. Like the world hadn’t just shifted beneath them. Aoko rose, gathering both their school satchels into her hands, and moved slowly towards him. She paused beside him, looking up at his big, goofy smile.
After a moment of contemplation, she rose up on her toes and tilted her head to the side to give him a quick kiss on the cheek. When she pulled back, she was rewarded by the slack-jawed expression on his face. She said nothing about it, but smiled happily and calmly handed him his schoolbag before she stepped past him, out into the hallway; she paused and turned to look at him expectantly, as though to ask if he was planning on standing there all night.
Kaito stared at her for a moment longer, then grinned and joined her. Aoko’s hand was waiting for his, and thus joined they headed down the stairs and out of the buildings towards home.
PS. This is dedicated with copious amounts of love to articulation, with whom the majority of this fic appeared in a chat window. She was awesome enough to let me gank it and work it into a fic, and for that she wins a small piece of my soul. Luvs to you!
Thanks for reading, everyone. Much love!