Fandom: Detective Conan/Magic Kaitou
Theme: #15—telling you the truth
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: Do I chance it, or would it just be better not to know?
All things considered, spending any time in the company of Kaitou Kid, the infamous Phantom Thief, was not how Aoko had envisioned her Friday evening. And yet here she was, stuck in the same room with him while some lunatics with guns prowled the hallways of the heist scene.
She stared through the darkness at the white form moving around the room. He seemed to be checking something—the door, a window, various other things she couldn’t see. Finally, he stopped and turned to look at her. “We should be safe here for the moment.”
Even though she couldn’t see his face, save for the glimmer of minimal light reflecting off that accursed monocle, she could hear the smile in his voice. That damnable smirk. She wanted to wipe it right off his face, but knew she would never be able to lay a hand on him. She just glowered at him through the night without speaking, hoping he could feel it.
“I’ll make sure you get back to your father safely,” he said. He didn’t seem to notice her glare.
Again, she remained silent. She could almost hear him thinking.
“Miss Nakamori, are you—“ he began.
“Would you just stop talking?” Aoko finally snapped, cutting him off. “I don’t like you.”
He seemed to mull this over for a moment. “I suppose you really don’t have a reason to.”
“What would you know about it?”
“…well, I’ve kept your father away from you,” he said softly. “And for that, I do owe you a most heartfelt apology.” There was a thread of something in his voice—was it sympathy?
It took a second for Aoko to realize exactly what he’d said. She opened her mouth to snap a reply at him…but was shocked when a choked sob came out instead of words. And where had those tears come from? She hadn’t been crying a minute ago…
“Miss Nakamori?” he spoke again, this time with obvious concern.
“Why?” she murmured, putting her face in her hands. “Why are you the only one who sees it?”
“I’m sure I’m not the only one.”
“Yes, you are,” she whispered. “Not even my best friend knows—he doesn’t have a clue.”
Kid’s next words were oddly gentle. “What makes you think he doesn’t know?”
She lifted her head to look at him; he could see the tears shining in her eyes. “He hasn’t said anything,” she replied. “And he’s been…sort of distracted lately.” When Kid chuckled, her eyes narrowed. “What’s so funny?”
“It’s not that it’s funny,” he said. “But I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the male species, Miss Nakamori. A good many of us are far more perceptive than we’re generally given credit for. It’s quite possible that this friend of yours does have a clue. The problem might be that he doesn’t necessarily know what to do with that clue, and that’s why he’s not saying anything.”
“That’s never stopped him from opening his mouth before,” she murmured. “But part of me thinks it’s for the best. If he doesn’t know, then he won’t have to worry.” Her tone took on a fond note.
There were a few beats of silence before he spoke again. “Miss Nakamori…” Kid’s voice was uncharacteristically somber. “You seem to care a great deal for this friend of yours?”
He’d half-expected her to go ballistic on him at the very idea of what he was insinuating. But instead, she simply stared at him for a moment before turning away, giving him an excellent view of her back. “That,” she whispered, “is a secret I will take to my grave.”
“Because it’s not worth anything that could happen if I told him.”
It was tantamount to a confession. But he couldn’t do anything about it—she was talking about Kaito, not Kid. So he would have to play his cards very, very carefully. “What could happen?”
“Let’s say I did tell him,” she said flatly. “And he doesn’t feel the same—which I assure you is what would happen. So then what? It’s awkward. I’m not going to risk throwing our friendship away because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. And…” She trailed off.
“…if he knew—if he knew any of this, really—then he might worry,” she said. “I know he worries about me sometimes, even if he doesn’t say it. If he worries…then he might stop smiling.” A note of fondness colored her tone. “And I don’t want Kaito to ever stop smiling.”
Behind Kid’s mask, Kaito was absolutely floored. Still, he kept it just that: behind Kid’s mask. “If this person is your best friend, as you say…do you really think he would end your friendship for that reason? Even if he didn’t return your feelings, don’t you think he’d be able to accept them? And really, what makes you think he wouldn’t have feelings for you?”
“Oh please,” she laughed softly; it sounded so sad. “It would just make things awkward. And besides,” she sighed, “I’m not exactly God’s gift to men. Kaito’s got girls falling at his feet. They’re ready to kill each other for a chance at him. He could have almost any girl he wanted—there’s no reason to think he’d want me. I’m about as unladylike as they come, I regularly beat him with a mop, I look like a squirrel…” At that point, she seemed to realize how much she was really saying, and fell silent.
Kid was silent a moment before replying. “I might not be able to comment on some of those things, but I can tell you that you definitely do not look like a squirrel.” At her goggle-eyed expression, he smiled. “If I may be so bold, you’re actually quite pretty. You don’t give yourself enough credit.”
Aoko stared at him, and opened her mouth to respond…
…but was cut off by a crash beyond the closed door. Then she heard her father’s voice frantically calling her name. The police were here—she was going to be rescued. She was safe now.
When she looked back at Kid, she found him already perched on the windowsill high above her. Belatedly, she realized that he could have escaped at any time. Which meant that he was only hanging around that dark room for her sake.
She couldn’t decide if that was flattering or infuriating.
He grinned down at her and tipped his hat. “It looks like you’re in for a rescue, which means I must take my leave. I have enjoyed the pleasure of your company. And,” he turned to leave and cast his final comment over his shoulder, “you really should talk to that friend of yours.”
And he was gone, leaving Aoko to stare at the night sky beyond the window…
Would they matter or would you simply turn and walk away?
If I hold you, would you tell me I should go?
Do I chance it, or would it just be better not to know?
When the doorbell rang not ten minutes after he’d scooted himself home and changed, Kaito went downstairs and answered it. And in spite of everything that had happened that night, he was still rather surprised to find Aoko standing on his doorstep…in tears. Even if he hadn’t already had a clue, he was still concerned. “Aoko? What happened? What’s wrong?”
She stared at him through blurry eyes for a long moment before taking a deep, shaky breath. “What’s wrong? Which one do you want first? Do you want me to tell you about how much I wish my father would stop chasing ghosts and spend some time with me? Do you want to know how lonely I am? Or…” she paused then, chin quivering and tears streaming freely down her face, before finishing in a bare whisper, “…or do you want the part where I think I’m in love with you?” Having said her part, she hung her head, letting her hair hang down over her eyes, and wept.
Kaito stood frozen in the doorway for a minute before it occurred to him to move. He took a step forward and reached out to her with one hand. “C’mere.” She didn’t resist, but let herself be pulled right against him into his arms. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around his waist and held on as thought afraid he would somehow disappear.
He held her, one arm around her shoulders and the other tangled in her hair. He felt the tremors that wracked her slender body as she tried—and failed—to hold everything in, just as she always had. She was so broken up. And yet…
He turned his head slightly to look at her. And he smiled.
But they were still standing out on his front stoop. This was no place for this kind of discussion. “Hey…” he whispered, running a hand over her unruly hair before leaning back to look at her full-on. She was so red—her eyes were huge and red-rimmed in her flushed face. It was not a state Aoko liked to let anyone see her in. “Let’s go inside,” he said with a gentle smile. “We’ll talk, okay?”
She nodded mutely and let him pull her into the house.
Kaito’s mother had appeared in the entryway at some point during the initial confession; judging by her expression, she had heard enough to know that her presence was not needed or wanted, and wisely absented herself as the two teenagers moved inside. Kaito closed the door and led her into the living room.
It was some time later that Aoko’s tears subsided and her breathing evened out and returned to normal By this time, she was stretched out on the couch, laying across Kaito’s lap with her head cradled against one of his arms. It was a comfortable, intimate position…and it meant that Aoko didn’t have to look at him. She was mortified, and she wanted to smack herself for being so stupid as to take advice from her father’s criminal adversary.
Kaito actually hadn’t said much since they taken up this position; he had instead offered her a shoulder, a hankie, and a few comforting words of encouragement as she cried herself out. But now he shifted slightly, and she knew that the respite was over. “Aoko?” he said quietly. “Do you want to talk about it?” It was phrased as a question, but she knew that she wasn’t going to get away with coming clean.
And she said as much: “I have to now, don’t I?”
“I’d like it if you would,” he replied. “I don’t know what brought all this on, but…if something’s bothering you this much, I want you to tell me about it.” He sighed. “I hope you know you can talk to me about anything. That’s what best friends are for, right?”
She mentally cringed at the mention of the word ‘friends,’ but said nothing in regards to it. She simply said, “I know…but it all just seems to petty.”
“If you’re here crying about it, then it’s not petty,” he retorted, albeit gently. “It’s hurting you. That’s not petty. Now…you said something about your father?”
Aoko winced. “Of course you want to talk about that first…” Still, it was better than one of the alternatives. She took a deep breath. “I just feel like he’s only my father part-time. He’s obsessed with catching Kid—first sign of a heist note, he’s gone, don’t wait up, he won’t be home for dinner.” She paused and then whispered. “Kid matters more to Dad than I do…”
“I don’t believe that.”
“Actions speak louder than words.”
He was quiet a moment. “Have you talked to your dad about this?”
“Maybe you should. No…you definitely should.”
She didn’t reply.
“Aoko…” he faltered for a second before continuing, “when he’s running off to a heist or a meeting or something about Kid, do you ever let him know that you wish he’d stay home? Or do you wave him off with smiles and best wishes?” He was trying his damndest to keep his own guilt from shining through—he was the cause of this heartbreak, even if it was technically an indirect responsibility.
“…I tell him to catch Kid,” she replied. “I always hope he’ll catch Kid so then he won’t have to go out chasing that stupid thief anymore. Then he can stay home. But it always ends up the same.”
After a moment, he asked the important question. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I shouldn’t be complaining,” she replied. “Especially not to you.”
“At least I have my dad, even if it is part-time,” she said honestly. “You never get to see your dad. I should be grateful for what I do have. Instead, I’m miserable. It’s so stupid…”
“It’s apples and oranges,” he said. “There’s no choice for my dad—he’s gone, and that’s that. It’s final. But your dad’s alive, and has a choice. He could be here with you—it just seems like he’s choosing Kid over you, and that’s where the problem is.”
Aoko didn’t say anything.
Kaito sighed. “Is that why you’re so lonely? Because you feel like your dad’s never there?”
“You’re not always there anymore either,” she whispered, and it surprised him. “You…you’ve changed, Kaito. You’ve changed a lot since we were kids. I guess that’s to be expected when you grow up. I know I’m not the same little girl you gave a rose to in front of the clock tower that day.” The memory did bring a faint smile to her lips, though. “But…I don’t know. It’s like I can’t get close to you anymore. Half the time you aren’t even around.”
She remembered her birthday party—he had missed the party…only to make a building light up with her name, accompanied by the sparkle and flare of a fireworks show. “Sometimes it works out and it’s okay, but other times…” All the little things, the little moments and discrepancies added up in her mind. “…I don’t know what changed you like this, but I want my best friend back.” Her fingers tightened around his wrist. “I want my Kaito back.”
He swallowed hard and pressed on—this was really the one thing he hadn’t expected her to actually tell him, and was easily the one he had been the least prepared for in any respect. “The…other thing you said. At the door, I mean. You said that you were in love with me?”
Aoko tensed. He felt it.
For a moment, he actually thought she was going to confess.
Instead, she moved. She was out of his arms and off the couch like a shot and stumbling towards the front door. “Forget I said anything—it was stupid, I shouldn’t have even come here…you must think I’m a complete idiot…” There was a hiccup on the last word that said she might be crying again.
She had the front door open and was halfway outside when Kaito’s brain caught up with what was happening. He was off the couch and sprinting after her. His shoes were on in record time, and he was out the door. Aoko was already half a block ahead of him—she was certainly in a hurry, and she wasn’t looking back. She probably knew that he would follow her.
Kaito ran to catch up; it only took him a few seconds to close the distance between them. She seemed to hear him at the last possible minute because she only started to turn around and look behind her when he was barely more than an arm’s length away. He caught her arm, forcing her to turn all the way around. Even in the darkness, he could see that her eyes were wide and shining with tears.
Momentum sent him crashing right into her; he seized the opportunity to snake his other arm around her waist, sending them both spinning. He caught his footing and steadied them both before pulling back to look at her properly. And for all of this, he was only slightly out of breath.
“Kaito, what are you—“ she started to ask.
“Why are you running away?” he interrupted.
“Look, just forget—“
“I want the truth!” he said a bit more harshly than he’d intended. He took a deep breath and went on, his voice soft. “Aoko…it’s just me. I’m Kaito—we’ve been best friends since we were kids. I don’t know why you don’t seem to think you can come to me with secrets.” He felt a little hypocritical; he had kept one big secret from her, and the guilt over that was currently gnawing at the back of his mind.
Aoko flinched. Dammit—Kaitou Kid had been right again. Kaito did seem hurt that she wouldn’t confide in him, though he did seem to understand her reasons for not telling him these things. But at the same time, she had already said so much tonight.
“Aoko…” he said her name again.
“What about you?” she asked, wishing desperately that her voice would cooperate and sound stronger; she felt pathetic. “Are there any big secrets you’ve kept from me, Kaito?”
He looked taken aback at the question before swallowing hard and replying, “…one. Just one.” There were actually two big ones, but only one that he would ever dream of telling her…no, that wasn’t true. He wanted to tell her the whole truth about his father and Kid. But…not yet.
Her eyes widened. “One secret?”
He nodded. “Just the one. Do you want to know what it is?”
“I…yes,” she swallowed hard and nodded. “Yes, I do. If you’ll tell me.”
“Will you tell me yours?”
“…yes.” That was far less confident.
“You’re going first.”
He smiled. And he waited.
She raised an eyebrow and shook her head ruefully. “You are absolutely shameless. Why do I love you?” Her tone was dry; there was only the slightest trace of a tremor in her voice to betray the real feelings and real fears that lay beneath.
“…because you have good taste?” he said. The joke was a risk, but he had to take it, if only to get a real reaction out of her. Her masks were nowhere near as solid as his, but right now she was clinging to them. They had to be pulled away for any of this to be real.
Her masks…and his.
It worked—in the bad way. Her head snapped back like she had been stung to stare at him with wide eyes. It was dark, but he could see the faint shimmer of tears already forming there. “K-Kaito—“ she started to speak, but he cut her off by pressing a single finger to her lips.
“I’m just teasing. Don’t freak out,” he whispered, startled at how hoarse his voice sounded to his own ears. In a roundabout way, it was a good sign—it meant that his own masks were slipping away. “How long have you felt this way?”
“A long time,” she said in a small voice.
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Did I have a reason to say anything?” she said in a sudden outburst. “I mean…good grief, Kaito! You’re smart. Funny. Talented. Handsome. Have you seen the girls in our class at school? They’re ready to kill each other for a chance at you!” The words were just pouring out of her in a rush now. “I don’t know how you can be so blind to it! You could have any girl you wanted! You’d just have to say the word, lay on a little charm, and poof! She’d be yours, easy as any magic trick!” Just as suddenly as the outburst had come, it vanished, and she seemed to deflate; her head slumped forward before she went on in a sad voice. “You could have any girl you wanted…why in the world would you ever want me?”
Kaito winced at those last words. He’d asked for the truth, and by God he had gotten the truth. He just…hadn’t quite expected the truth to hurt him so much. “…do you really think so little of yourself?”
“Aoko…” his tone was gentle. “…why wouldn’t I want you?”
She looked up at him again with those same wide eyes. “I…what do you mean?”
Without intending to, he had shifted to press his forehead against hers. “My secret.”
“What—“ she started to ask…
But she didn’t make it beyond that one word as Kaito told her the truth without words.
PS. Pure.Total. Absolute. FLUFF. WHEE!! I originally had another idea for this theme, but then I had this thought, and I went with this one for time’s sake. Only three left after this one, can you believe it? And I think I know what the stories for those are going to be, too. The next one is about two-thirds done, even! YAY! Hope you’ll all come back and check them out.
Thanks for reading, all. Much love!