I'm so, so sorry for my extended break! I was on vacation for about two weeks, and when I got back, I didn't feel like writing, so... yeah. Hopefully that explains why I've been missing for so long.

Anyway, this fic was written because I noticed that while I portray Shinichi as being dense, in canon he's actually very observant regarding the romantic situations of others, though he himself isn't all that romantic (see: weirdly stilted London confession, accepting Valentine's Day chocolate by asking why it isn't "peach flavored", giving Ran cough drops for White Day, etc.). So. This fic was born.

Warnings include shounen-ai (Shinichi x Kaito, obviously), shoujo-ai (Ran x Sera because I've been quietly shipping them ever since Sera's introduction), grammar mistakes / general errors, my sense of humor being what it is, the fact that I haven't actually played Mario Kart in ages and therefore don't actually remember much about it despite that it's a minor plot point, Kaito being possessive, Shinichi being both all-knowing and clueless at the same time, etc. Other than ShinKai and RanSera, every other pairing discussed is canon. Title from "Matchmaker" from Fiddler on the Roof, because in my mind, there's no way to disassociate the word "matchmaker" from that song.

Enjoy! - Luna

Unless He's a Matchless Match

It started like this.

Sighing, Shinichi wiped at the sweat that had accumulated on his forehead during the tragically fruitless eight-hour stakeout he'd just had the misfortune of going on. He wasn't entirely sure why'd he'd agreed to go when Megure had asked him to accompany Chiba and Shiratori on an investigation of a suspicious exotic pet breeder, but there had been a disconcerting lack of interesting murders as of late, and Shinichi had been basically free to sit in an overheated and entirely conspicuous white van to watch a middle-aged man clean chinchilla cages and sing along to an opera CD as Chiba and Shiratori communicated in comments of varying snarkiness behind him. Shinichi's life was excellent.

Shinichi was halfway out the door to the station, contemplating texting Kaito to let him know that he'd be going home soon and whether Kaito would like to come over (it was kind of a thing, now, spending evenings and weekends together), when Takagi appeared in his line of sight, poised beside a streetlight. He was on his phone, tapping furiously at the screen and wearing an expression of intense concentration that Shinichi normally associated with open-heart surgery.

"Um, hi," Shinichi said by way of greeting, once he was within earshot. Takagi looked up with an expression so guilty that Shinichi momentarily wondered if he'd been arranging a drug deal or selling organs or something.

Visibly relaxing (but not completely) upon discovering that it was Shinichi hovering awkwardly a few steps away, Takagi lowered his phone. He smiled nervously. His face was red to the point that he resembled a tomato more than a human. "Hey, Kudou-kun. What are you doing here?" he asked, voice so choked it sounded a little as if someone had tied his vocal chords in a knot.

"I work here, actually," Shinichi replied slowly. He eyed where Takagi was still clutching his phone in a death grip. "You know, because I'm an official police consultant and all that. You were there at the ceremony four years ago." Takagi had drunk seven flutes of champagne and ended up dancing on a banquet table. Somehow, that hadn't even been the worst thing to occur that night.

"Right, well," Takagi coughed, trying to casually tuck his phone into his pocket. The effect was lost when it took him four tries to get it in successfully.

With a groan, Shinichi extended one hand. "Let me see whatever it is you're trying to hide."

"What," Takagi squeaked. His leg twitched towards the street, as if he was considering running into traffic to escape Shinichi.

Shinichi leveled him with an unimpressed stare, the one he generally saved for murderers who tried to bluff their way out of obviously bloodstained clothes and unmistakably fingerprinted handguns. "I can always go to Satou-san," he threatened. The phone was in Shinichi's hand before he finished the sentence.

Thumbing open the lock screen (Takagi gave an indignant squawk of "How do you know my password?" to which Shinichi rolled his eyes – his password was literally "Miwako"), Shinichi was startled to find that Takagi had apparently been browsing through five-star restaurants. Which was a far cry from the illegal weapons manufacturing that Shinichi had been half expecting. But at the same time, it wasn't all that surprising.

"Which one are you thinking?" he asked with resignation, flicking through the first two pages of results with eyebrows lifted. Most of them were high-end French restaurants with unpronounceable names.

"I don't – it doesn't – Kudou-kun," Takagi said, tone distinctly edged with pleading. He waved his hands incomprehensibly. "Give it back."

"Look." Shinichi sighed, handing the phone back to him. "If you want Satou-san to say yes, you should take her to a restaurant that she actually likes."

Takagi fumbled his phone, dropping it on the sidewalk. He gaped at Shinichi. "How did you know I was going to propose?" he demanded, glancing around the street frantically add he stooped to scoop up his phone.

"Maybe because you guys have been dating since I was in high school, moved in together last fall, and you keep sighing every time someone mentions marriage?" Shinichi suggested wryly, fighting not to roll his eyes. "And last week when I went to the movies with Kaito, I saw you leaving the jewelry store beside Colombo." Takagi had also been wearing a pair of sunglasses and a trench coat and generally looking like the kind of person one reported to the nearest police station. It had been fairly obvious what he was doing.

Takagi winced. "I didn't want anyone to know," he remarked mournfully, looking down at his phone. "The Satou protection squad still threatens me with dismemberment every time we go on a date."

It was true. Shinichi had witnessed it multiple times in the past three months. There had once been a chainsaw involved.

"Well, if you haven't noticed, Satou-san genuinely doesn't like French food. So if you want to give yourself the best chance possible," (even though you probably don't even need to, considering that you've been dating for years, Shinichi added mentally), "you might want to choose a different restaurant."

"I – but she's eaten it before," Takagi reminded him, blinking.

"Yes, but not with pleasure," Shinichi said emphatically. "She usually eats, like, at least two people's worth of food, but at Megure's promotion party, she only ate one plateful. If you recall, it was held at that French restaurant next to the department store. That's why." He paused. "So take her to that traditional Japanese restaurant by the park and wear that gray suit that she likes you in. Maybe buy her chocolates beforehand. Don't say anything sentimental when you ask – she doesn't like that kind of stuff. Straightforwardness is good."

"Oh." Takagi goggled. "Um, okay."

"Good luck," Shinichi felt compelled to say, and Takagi gathered enough strength to smile.

"Kuroba-kun's really got you trained well," he commented, and it was Shinichi's turn to stare blankly at him, because that came completely out of nowhere.

"What?" he managed eloquently, tilting his head at him.

"You've gotten better at romance, is what I'm saying," Takagi clarified unclearly. Shinichi squinted at him.

"Uh, all right," he said slowly. Takagi beamed and clapped him in the shoulder before he scuttled off down the sidewalk.

That night with Kaito, when Shinichi was losing spectacularly at Mario Kart and Kaito kept choosing Rainbow Road because he was kind of a competitive asshole, Shinichi brought it up. It had been bothering him all day – what did that even mean?

"So apparently you're good for me, Kaito," he remarked, frowning as his car veered off the road and Kaito's sailed gracefully on by. He should have gone with Dry Bones; forget Peach and her awful handling. Tapping his fingers as he waited to be released back onto the course, he added, "You teach me how to be romantic. Or I've gotten more romantic from being around you. Supposedly."

Kaito was uncharacteristically silent. His fingers clicked across the controller as on-screen Toad swerved a little dangerously around a bend. "Who told you that?" he asked eventually, once he'd rounded the last major bend in the path. He was in first, the asshole.

"Takagi," Shinichi answered, manfully ignoring that he was in eighth place. He pressed at the A button halfheartedly, resigned as he skidded neatly over the edge yet again. "I was giving him advice about how to propose to Satou-san. I can't believe that after this long, he hasn't realized that Satou-san doesn't like French food."

"Well, they don't exactly go to French restaurants that often. Maybe that's why," Kaito reminded him as he surged past the finish line in first place. He turned to Shinichi as the rankings shuffled on the screen. Predictably, Shinichi remained solidly at the bottom. "So he was buying a ring? That time when we saw him, I mean."

"I think so," Shinichi agreed, setting down the controller to stretch. His shirt rode up, exposing half his stomach, and Shinichi made a disparaging noise and sagged against the couch until it shifted obligingly back into place. When he glanced over at Kaito, Kaito was staring resolutely down into his lap, one hand toying with the joystick while the other tugged at the hem of the angora sweater he was wearing. "I don't get why he'd say that, though. Considering that everything I told him to do was basic deductions, which you had no part in teaching me."

"Right," Kaito answered after a moment, clicking through the end screen. He cleared his throat. "Well, how about Moonview Highway?"

"You know I hate that one," Shinichi said, chagrined, and Kaito laughed, selecting it cheerfully. Shinichi couldn't help but smile dopily at his profile, watching for so long that he missed the start of the race (not that it mattered, as far as winning went).

And that was that, for a while. Shinichi went on solving cases and spending his weekends losing tremendously at Mario Kart (and occasionally Super Smash Bros) and attending Kaito's weekly magic shows, and that was that – end of story, case closed, etc. – until one Tuesday when he walked into division one headquarters, ready to take on another series of cold cases, and Chiba, of all people, practically assaulted him.

Banging his hip against a sad-looking potted plant, Shinichi spluttered for a second behind he managed to scramble away and establish a reasonable amount of distance between them. "Uh, what?" he choked out in what was most definitely not a squeak of surprise.

"I heard you helped Takagi out with his proposal," Chiba told him in a rush of words so slurred it took Shinichi a moment to parse through the syllables and grasp his meaning. "And Satou-san said yes, which means your advice is good. Right?"

"Well," Shinichi began, about to add that Takagi and Satou had been dating for years now and it would've been extremely odd if Satou had said no, regardless of his advice, but Chiba steamrolled on.

"There's this girl in the traffic department," Chiba began. Shinichi held up one hand to stop him.

"By any chance, is her name Miike Naeko?" he asked. Chiba's eyes went dinner plate wide.

"How did you know?"

If he had been feeling vindictive, Shinichi would've mentioned that he had spent the last three years of his life listening to Chiba pine loudly and tearily over how beautiful and charming and perfect that pigtailed traffic officer was whenever he made the mistake of going out for drinks with Division One, but Shinichi apparently wasn't. Instead, he forced a smile. "I have my ways."

"You know, Kudou-kun, I always thought your deduction skills were a little overrated, but you're actually pretty observant," Chiba said with feeling. Shinichi's eye threatened to twitch.

"Anyway." He cleared his throat. "You want to ask her out, don't you?"

Chiba nodded vehemently. "I feel like she might be interested in me, too, but I think I'm missing something, because she keeps making references about my childhood, and I don't understand what she's talking about. What if it's some weird psychological obsession she has? That seems like something I should try to clear up before we start dating, right? Right?" He paused. "And she seems really familiar, too, but there's no way that she's the person I think she is."

"Right," Shinichi echoed. His eye had actually started twitching at some point during Chiba's speech. He stilled it with one hand, sighing a little. Maybe when Chiba died, he would donate his brain to science and the world might finally understand how someone could be so clueless. "Look, after work, you should come home with me." It was possible that he still had the VHS of Chiba and Naeko somewhere around his house – Ran would've put it in the attic if she'd found it during one of her cleaning sprees.

But when Shinichi glanced over at Chiba, Chiba somehow looked both scandalized and shifty at once. "I – I'm flattered, Kudou-kun, but I don't think Kuroba-kun would be, uh, amenable," he stammered, and Shinichi blinked, uncomprehending, before he rolled his eyes.

"I don't mean we should sleep together," he groaned, barely restraining himself from tacking on a you idiot (and also a and what does Kaito have to do with anything before seriously, what did he have to do with anything), "I meant I should show you something that might help you figure out how you know her and why she keeps mentioning your childhood."

"So it's not some weird Freudian thing?" Chiba questioned cagily. Shinichi deigned not to reply, instead storming off to send Kaito annoyed texts and scrounge up some form of caffeine to consume.

After blowing through a few cases, only stopping to eat the bento Kaito dropped off around noon, Shinichi was finally on his way out the door at six o'clock when Chiba caught up to him, smiling widely. "Are we still on for tonight?"

"Yes," Shinichi agreed. Unfortunately, he added pettily in the privacy of his own head, and then felt bad about it.

Having been friends with Kaito for as long as he had, Shinichi probably shouldn't have been surprised to walk into his living room and find Kaito lounging on his sofa, sipping daintily at a cup of tea and thumbing through a violently pink fashion magazine (apparently they helped with female disguises? Shinichi would never understand). He was, though, and jerked backwards with a start, straight into Chiba's arms.

"Could you maybe send advance warning next time, Kaito?" he gasped, clutching at Chiba's surprisingly muscular forearm.

But Kaito wasn't listening. His eyes were narrowed to slits, focused in on Chiba's arms (specifically, where they were folded around Shinichi). "You know what, I don't think I will," he announced coolly, flipping his copy of ViVi shut with a sound like a gunshot. Drinking tea while sprawled on a couch generally wasn't the most intimidating of activities, but even Shinichi was taken aback by how cold he seemed.

"What's wrong with you?" he asked as Chiba made a gurgling sound and took several large steps away from Shinichi. When Shinichi glanced back at him, he discovered that Chiba had his back pressed against the front door and was staring at Shinichi with unadulterated horror. "What's wrong with you?"

"I don't want to wake up bald," Chiba whisper-yelled at him.


"Don't you remember when Tanaka-kun touched your cheek and ended up with all his hair shaved off the next day?" Chiba waved his hands frantically.

Blinking, Shinichi glanced between where Chiba was cowering and where Kaito was stony-faced. "I mean…" He did remember, mostly because Tanaka had been rather obsessed with his hair. He'd gone into great detail about his hair care regimen once, when they'd happened to take a coffee break at the same time and Shinichi hadn't been able to escape without making a scene. Admittedly, when Tanaka showed up to a crime scene dramatically bald, Shinichi had thought it was a little odd that he'd shave it all off, but he hadn't judged – some people liked dramatic image changes. But now... "What does that have anything to do with this?"

"Uh, Kuroba-kun," Chiba said in a tone that communicated a belief that Shinichi had been dropped on his head as a child. "Haven't you realized how possessive he is?"

"Possessive of what?" Shinichi questioned slowly, scowling at Kaito, who continued to sit blank-faced and silent. "Could someone explain what is going on?"

"Tanaka was an asshole," Kaito grunted inexplicably. His tone went childish. "And you can't prove I did it."

"Kaito," Shinichi reprimanded, because that was Kaito's I did something wrong but I won't admit to it tone. It came up whenever he dyed Hakuba's hair to get back at him for some imagined insult to Kid's honor.

"I'm just here for a VHS tape," Chiba cut in, holding his hands up in surrender as he warily approached the living room as if it were a den of lions. "Not for Kudou-kun. I'm here because Kudou-kun said there was something on the tape that would help me ask out this girl from the traffic division, I swear."

Kaito relaxed against the back of the couch, but he was still glaring. "I hope you're telling the truth."

Shinichi put his face in his hands and groaned helplessly.

The debacle ended successfully enough. Chiba realized that yes, Miike Naeko was indeed his childhood sweetheart, asked her out, was accepted, etc., etc. Shinichi was mostly just annoyed about the realization that Kaito was apparently his overprotective father or something. He was even more annoyed that Kaito wouldn't explain why and resorted to blatantly and loudly changing the subject every time Shinichi tried to bring it up. Still, things eventually went back to what passed for normal in Shinichi's life.

Until the day Ran interrupted the process of Shinichi invariably losing at Mario Kart to fall in his lap and cling to his stomach.

Now armed with the knowledge that Kaito was a stereotypical "you touch my daughter (or son, apparently, Shinichi amended in his head) and I'll drown you in a bathtub" father minus the shotgun and mustache, Shinichi shut his eyes and prayed for strength as Kaito, pressed against his side, went statue-still. When he turned to look at him, he was vindicated to find that Kaito was staring down at Ran with an expression that implied Ran had massacred a litter of kittens recently.

"I'm not here to steal your man, Kuroba-kun," Ran announced without looking up, voice muffled by the folds of Shinichi's sweater. "I'm here to cry about how much I hate Masumi and steal Shinichi away for girl talk. You have nothing to worry about."

"I'm not a girl," Shinichi said with horror. Was that his role now?

Ran lifted a hand to flap blindly at Kaito, blatantly ignoring Shinichi. "Semantics. But really, Kuroba-kun. You know I'm not into Shinichi."

"I can't be sure when you're all over him like that, can I?" Kaito countered, but he hit the PAUSE button on the game and tossed the controller at the end of the sofa with far more force than necessary. "I'll be in the next room." Listening in, his eyes seemed to imply, as if he still suspected that Ran was going to jump Shinichi or something.

"Guys, I'm right here, and what are you talking about?" Shinichi shot Kaito a bemused look, then poked at the back of Ran's head. "Guys?"

Eyeing Ran for a second longer, Kaito exited the room, shutting the door behind him. Glowering, Shinichi glared down at what he could see of Ran until she lifted her face to cast a baleful look at him. "Shinichi, why is Masumi such a – such a detective?" she wailed, expression both mournful and frustrated at the same time, and okay. Fine.

"Oh, perfect. We're not going to discuss what just happened. All right," Shinichi muttered before heaving a longsuffering sigh and reaching out to cup Ran's cheek with one hand. "What did she do this time?" he questioned, eyebrows lifted expectantly.

"She missed our anniversary dinner for a case," Ran answered, and upon further inspection, Shinichi realized that Ran was indeed dressed for the high-end Italian restaurant she had been anticipating all month. She was wearing a brilliant red sheath dress, and her hair was done in elaborate, mind-boggling corkscrew curls. A strappy, high-heeled stiletto that resembled some kind of medieval ankle-breaking torture device dangled precariously from her left foot.

"I'm sorry," Shinichi managed, rubbing comfortingly at the side of her neck. "What did she say?" Whether she'd shown up late or Ran had called her in angry tears, Shinichi didn't doubt that Sera would've at least tried to give an excuse.

"She said that the case was really important. Which, you know, implies that she thought it was more important than our one year anniversary," Ran grumbled, maneuvering into a sitting position. She kicked off her shoes, hugging her knees to her chest. "She didn't even apologize."

"Did you let her?"

"Uh," Ran coughed in a way that meant she had probably hung up on Sera in a fit of anger before coming over. She flailed for an excuse. "She said the case was more important than our relationship, Shinichi! That it was more important than I am!"

"Well, maybe that's because the case really was important," Shinichi said carefully. Before Ran could stab him in the jugular, he hurriedly continued, "But they're important in different ways, you know? I mean – like, the case is important to her because she believes in the justice system, but you're important to her because she loves you." He took a moment to pause before he added, making sure he was looking her in the eyes, "And Sera knows that while the case won't always be around for her to solve, you'll always be there for her. So in her mind, she probably thought that it wouldn't be so bad to miss an anniversary because there are going to be so many more in the future."

"Oh." Ran looked slightly guilty, now, the corners of her mouth downturned as her brow furrowed. "I… okay." She rubbed at her bottom lip, smearing the red lipstick she'd been wearing. "I guess that makes sense. Maybe... maybe I should've let her explain more." She patted him on the hand, a patronizing smile overtaking her thoughtful expression. "You're not so horrible, Shinichi."

"I didn't sign up to be your relationship counselor when I convinced you to ask Sera out, you know," Shinichi felt compelled to remind her.

"I think you did after you successfully got Takagi-san and Satou-san engaged and Chiba-san and Miike-san dating," Ran smirked, unraveling her legs to strap on her sandals. "You're like some kind of love guru, Shinichi."

"Takagi and Satou-san had been dating for years, and Chiba and Miike-san are childhood sweethearts who've been pining after each other since they met. I didn't exactly do anything particularly incredible," Shinichi insisted, scowling when Ran just made an unconvinced sound and started for the door.

Kaito opened it before she reached it, narrowing his eyes at her as she brushed past her. Ran just rolled her eyes (almost affectionately) and patted him on the shoulder before she left. Shinichi felt vaguely bemused, watching as Kaito tracked her all the way to the door.

"Kaito, you literally just heard her asking my advice about her one-year relationship with Sera. I think it's pretty clear that she's not after me," he remarked, raising his eyebrows.

For a moment, Kaito just shifted uncomfortably, hovering in the doorway awkwardly. "Didn't you have a crush on her once?" he asked after a long pause, when Shinichi had picked up his controller again and was struggling to navigate the setup menu.

Shinichi fumbled the controller. It hit the ground with a sharp crack. "Uh, when I was sixteen?" he said incredulously. "You do realize that was, like, ten years ago?"

"Seven," Kaito mumbled, kicking at nothing with the toe of his slipper. "To be precise."

"You're ridiculous," Shinichi announced, crossing the room to hug Kaito around the shoulders. He didn't know why – generally, Kaito instigated the physical affection in their friendship – but it seemed like the right thing to do, when Kaito seemed so genuinely, inexplicably upset. He laid a hand on the back of Kaito's neck. It was warm, and if Shinichi swept his thumb lower, he could feel Kaito's pulse skittering just below the surface of his skin.

In a low voice, he informed Kaito, "Look, okay, sure. Seven years ago, I liked Ran. I thought she was the only one for me and that I was going to marry her someday. But you can rest assured that we're not – I don't feel like that for her anymore. And even if I did, she's got a great girlfriend now, and I have no right to get in their way." Shinichi momentarily wondered why the whole Ran thing even mattered to Kaito, but he brushed it aside, filing it into the same place he stored his understanding of Kaito's weird possessiveness and the odd ideas everyone seemed to have about the two of them. It wasn't the right time to bring it up.

Kaito exhaled slowly before his lips quirked upwards. "Okay," he agreed quietly, patting Shinichi's cheek with one hand before he gently extracted himself from Shinichi's grip. "Want to watch a movie instead of this?" He gestured at the screen, where the Mario Kart PAUSE screen was still showing. Shinichi's cart was frozen halfway over the edge of the road. "I won't make you suffer through another shameful defeat."

"Oh, such incredible chivalry. I see why they call you a gentleman thief." Shinichi rolled his eyes but went to find his copy of the Detective Samonji movie that had come out last year, because he wasn't above taking advantage of Kaito's random bursts of charity.

The next time Shinichi was forced to play relationship counselor was when Hattori came to Tokyo a week or so later. Shinichi wasn't sure how Hattori had come to the conclusion that it was perfectly all right to show up on Shinichi's doorstep and announce his intent to stay for a few days without sending any prior notice, not even a text. But he had, at some unknown point in their relationship, and Shinichi was suffering the consequences.

"If you had told me you were coming," he muttered from the doorway, watching as Hattori made a face at the bare mattress of the guest bed. "I would've at least put some sheets on the bed." He didn't promise he would've dusted, though. To be honest, he probably wouldn't have.

Hattori gave a shrug, setting his duffel bag down at the foot of the bed with a thump. "Well, it'll do for now." He gave the dusty headboard a critical once-over before he turned back to Shinichi to smirk widely at him. "So? How's everything? And by everything I mean Kuroba."

Shinichi blinked at him. Hattori had always been weird about Kaito (specifically, Kaito's friendship with Shinichi), so it wasn't as if this was completely unprecedented, but –"You know, I liked it better when you asked about cases first."

"I can read about cases in the paper. What I can't read about is your steamy romance with Kaitou Kid," Hattori insisted, his smirk widening.

"I don't have a steamy romance with Kaitou Kid," Shinichi replied blankly. "Unless you've been reading those doujinshi that Sonoko sells." Which Shinichi hadn't been, okay, even if he had the last volume of Heart Heist! Kid&Kudou stashed behind the encyclopedia collection in the library. It wasn't illegal. As a cultured individual, he was allowed to enjoy creativity in all its many and varied forms.

(Also, the love confession scene on the rooftop was adorable and kind of what he wished would happen in real life, but. That wasn't the point.)

"Kudou, you've been in denial for so long, I'm starting to think that you actually believe what you're telling me," Hattori commented, shaking his head slowly. "You're breaking Kuroba's heart."

Scoffing, Shinichi rolled his eyes. "Okay, first of all, if anyone's in denial, it's you, Hattori."

"What?" Hattori narrowed his eyes at Shinichi. "What are you talking about?"

"Maybe the fact that you've been in love with Kazuha since you the day you met her but still haven't done anything about it? Maybe that's what I'm talking about," Shinichi offered, lifting his eyebrows when Hattori flushed and began spluttering incoherently.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he huffed, twisting his hands together without meeting Shinichi's gaze. Shinichi gave him the least convinced look he could manage.

"I think you do, and I think you're being extremely cowardly by not doing anything about it."

"Why don't you do something about Kuroba, then?" Hattori snapped. Shinichi blinked owlishly at him.

"I really don't know what Kaito has to do with you not getting your shit together and asking Kazuha out," he stated, crossing his arms across his chest and lifting his chin to glare at Hattori with full power. "Last time I checked, Kaito wasn't the one who's been hesitating over the same girl for, what, seventeen years."

"He's been hesitating over you for the past seven," Hattori mumbled, not quietly enough for Shinichi to miss.

"Yes, well, even if you were right and Kaito is actually interested in me – and has been for that long – I'm fairly sure that seventeen years is longer than seven. So you're still losing, no matter how you look at it."

Giving Shinichi a considering look, Hattori began to nod slowly. "You know, Kudou, sometimes I really hate you," he remarked, sounding almost awed by this revelation.

Snorting, Shinichi rolled his eyes. "I hate myself too, sometimes. But seriously, though." He straightened and crossed the room to place a hand on Hattori's shoulder. "I'm telling you this as your friend. Kazuha has been waiting for you for so long. What are you going to do when she gives up on you? Honestly, Hattori, if you ever want to be with her, you'd better ask her soon, before she realizes that she's wasting the prime of her life on an incompetent idiot with the emotional maturity of an eight-year-old." He paused. "I'm talking about you, if you couldn't tell."

When Shinichi stepped back, Hattori was regarding Shinichi as if he'd never quite seen him before. His eyebrows were arched, halfway up his forehead, and he seemed unable to decide whether he wanted to smile or scowl.

"You know, Kudou," he began slowly, mouth doing something odd and twisty, "I thought Ran-san was lying when she mentioned that you'd turned into a relationship counselor. Or at least exaggerating. But I think she might be right. Kuroba's got you trained well." He leered. "How romantic."

"For the love of – could people stop assuming that Kuroba is responsible for the fact that I'm not an emotionally stunted mess like the rest of you?" Shinichi sputtered, flapping a bit to cover the red creeping up his neck as he stumbled towards the door.

"Oh no, you're still an emotionally stunted mess," Hattori informed him cheerfully, bending to dust off the mattress and sit down. "Just a perceptive emotionally stunted mess." He stopped, apparently considering. "Well, about everyone except yourself, I guess."

"Wow, thanks," Shinichi grumbled. In a fit of childishness, he added, "This is why Kaito's my best friend and you're not," and closed the door on Hattori's squawk of indignation.

Hattori left after a few more agonizing (okay, mildly entertaining – Hattori was still one of his closest friends, though he'd never admit it) days. A few hours after he left, Shinichi's reunion dinner with Kaito was interrupted by a blurry picture of… Shinichi squinted at it and then let out a high-pitched squeak and threw his phone across the room when he realized that he was looking at a photo of Hattori's jeans lying beside a pair of white underwear and Shinichi really didn't need to know that much about Kazuha, okay. His phone smacked against a wall and dropped to the ground with a sickening thump.

Kaito, who had paused mid-bite to watch, blinked. "Do I want to know?" he asked, setting down his chopsticks slowly as if he were trying not to startle an animal, and Shinichi shook his head.

"No," he said definitively, and Kaito stared at him for a second longer before he shrugged and went back to his yakisoba. He'd cooked dinner because Shinichi was man enough to admit that he burned water, and there were a few candles set up at the center of the table, perfuming the air with the scent of warm vanilla. Shinichi wasn't sure why Kaito owned the candles or why he'd even bothered to light them, but he didn't really mind.

(Maybe it was because the candlelight did interesting things to the contours of Kaito's face, turning his eyes soft and molten and settling shadows underneath the crests of his cheekbones. It was kind of entrancing.)

Sighing, Shinichi dragged himself out of his seat to go inspect his phone. After the fifth time he'd accidentally dropped it over the edge of a cliff, he'd invested in a waterproof, shockproof phone case that Kaito made fun of him for. Times like this made him glad he had, though.

Shinichi was in the middle of deleting the offending picture and trying to self-induce amnesia (it wasn't working) when another message from Hattori arrived. He opened it hesitantly, fully prepared to hurl his phone out the window next, but stopped once he actually read it.

ok pls don't kill me haha. but i bet u and kuroba are having a candlelit dinner or something right now. u said im in denial but u should rly look at urself. bc kuroba literally always wears his "nice" shirts whenever u guys are alone and he cooks for u (he brings u bento srsly) and gets super jealous whenever someone else tries to talk to u (btw i heard about tanaka form ran-san. kuroba is actually pretty scary wow) and he actually watches that stupid detective samonji movie w/ u even tho u and i both know it's actually horrible. and u spend ur weekends w/ him instead of solving cases and u put aside ur pride enough to admit u can't cook and play mario kart w/ him even tho u suck bc u think it makes him happy. if anyone's in denial about feelings it's u about kuroba's. like i get that ure all weird about dating for whatever reason but this is some pretty obvious shit. that's y everyone thinks u guys are together. honestly kudou.

"Shinichi?" Kaito asked, abruptly at Shinichi's shoulder, and Shinichi startled, tearing his eyes away from the message. His heart was doing something complicated in his chest, somersaults and cartwheels and other acrobatics, and he felt like a fly trapped in amber, suspended in Kaito's concerned gaze.

"Um," he began, throat as dry as sand, before his gaze dipped down. He nearly had a heart attack upon realizing that Kaito was wearing the shirt he'd worn to Hakuba and Aoko's engagement party, a blue cashmere sweater that made his eyes stand out even more than usual. His eyes darted over to the candles, and the yakisoba, and – oh God, Shinichi – how had Shinichi not noticed?

"Kaito," he started again, swallowing, "are you – is this – do you, uh, want to – date me?" He coughed. Kaito's eyebrows were slowly climbing upwards. "Because, like, if you do, maybe we… could."

As far as dramatic love confessions went, that was particularly smooth or well-worded, but Kaito's eyebrows did jump up his forehead and his mouth dropped open. It was an expression Shinichi rarely saw on his face, and therefore, Shinichi decided, it was worth the flush spreading up his own neck and the itchy, crawling feeling he got under his skin when Kaito just stared at him without moving. It was worth the inevitable rejection, because Shinichi was reading into it because Hattori had tried to convince him, and Kaito didn't actually –

"We don't –" he stammered when Kaito didn't speak for another ten seconds, but he didn't have time to finish before Kaito was hugging him hard, bracing his head with one hand to tuck Shinichi's face into his neck. His skin smelled like something sweet and warm – the vanilla from the candles, maybe.

"Finally," he mumbled somewhere above Shinichi's ear. "I don't understand how you can notice everything about everyone else and absolutely nothing about me. It worried me, actually."

"Yeah, well, maybe I didn't want to get presumptuous because you're – I mean, being wrong about you would've crushed me," Shinichi muttered, his slow, heavy breathing dampening the neckline of Kaito's sweater, and he felt Kaito laugh, his whole body shaking, rather than saw it. They fit together, inexplicably, two puzzle pieces locked into place. Shinichi lifted his hands to place them gingerly between the blades of Kaito's shoulders. Kaito hummed, pushing back into his touch, and Shinichi pressed a little harder.

"I can't believe Hattori was the one who made me realize," he grumbled after a long moment of swaying slowly.

"The universe is a cruel place," Kaito agreed lightly, drawing Shinichi back to grin widely at him. Something about the smile made Shinichi recoil slightly, and for good reason, because Kaito continued, one hand migrating from Shinichi's back to press dramatically to his heart, "It kept us apart for so long, after all. Such cruelty."

Shinichi tried to give him a horrified look. To his detriment, it probably came across as fond. "Are you going to be like this now?" he asked without real heat in his voice.

"Oh, you know you love it," Kaito murmured, smirk softening into a warm, smaller something, and Shinichi found, alarmingly, that he couldn't bring himself to disagree. He refused to admit that, though, so instead he leaned in and kissed Kaito on the mouth.

(Later, he sent Hattori a picture of his shirt lying beside Kaito's. He received a string of horrified exclamation marks and laughed himself sick until Kaito dragged him back to bed.)

– omake –

"So I heard I should go to you for love advice, Shinichi-oniisan. And that's why I'm here," Ayumi murmured from the couch opposite the one Shinichi was seated on. Her face was bright red, and she refused to meet his eyes. The cup of tea Shinichi had offered her was cooling on the coffee table before her, untouched.

Shinichi held back a sigh of longsuffering. He'd skipped a stakeout for this. "Who'd you hear that from?" he asked, trying not to sound put out.

"Just Ran-oneesan and Hattori-oniisan. I think they might have been joking, but I think they're right," Ayumi answered, eyes shining brightly.

"And why's that?" Shinichi asked curiously. In the distance, he heard the front door opening and shutting near-soundlessly. He had to suppress a smile.

"Well, you're in love with Kaito-oniisan!" Ayumi threw her arms out wide. "And he's so romantic! He must've taught you something about it."

Groaning, Shinichi put his face in his hands. It was mostly an act – he was aware of Kaito hiding in the kitchen behind him, preparing to scare him. "Why does everyone think he's the romantic one between the two of us," he announced loudly. "He's horrible. He shaved some random guy's hair off just because the guy looked at me, and he actively enjoys beating me at video games." Pausing, he couldn't help but smile a little. "But, well, I guess you're right about the first two. I guess he is pretty romantic, and I suppose you could say I'm in love with him."

Kaito's coo of delight would've given him away, had Shinichi not already known he was in the room. "Shinichi, I never knew you cared so much," Kaito said, charging forward towards the couch to drape his arms around Shinichi, and Shinichi leaned his head over the back of the couch so he could roll his eyes at him.

"Predictable," he declared, disgustingly fond, and let Kaito kiss him gently on the cheek as Ayumi blushed from across the table.

If you enjoyed this fic even a little, please considering leaving me a review, and I'll see you all soon (hopefully? maybe?)! - Luna