Thanks to Ysabet for the name.

By Icka! M. Chif

"I don't think I can do this." The Kaitou's voice was soft, a nervous tremor running through it.

An older voice that was familiar and yet not returned it. "Do what?"

"Do... this."

The old man silently waited for further information, a patient air around him. When it became obvious that no answer was forthcoming, he quietly cleared his throat. "I'm afraid I missed what happened. Perhaps if you could start from the beginning?"

The younger man sighed gustily and removed his hat, setting it down next to the bed he was leaning against. "I suppose it couldn't hurt. She'll sleep for a while longer still."

There was another slight pause, then the thief began to speak.

"It was a normal heist, as they all seem to start out as. Got in, got the jewel, evaded Nakamori-kun and his men, and got to some nearby rooftops for a get away. Only, well, Koizumi was there."

"The Dark Sorceress you told me about?"

"Yeah." Another sigh as the thief shifted uncomfortably. "She laughed, rambling about some spell that was supposed to bind me... "

The voice faded, becoming less cocky, less confidant and more familiar as the story progressed. "Aoko showed up. I don't know what she was doing there, probably watching the escapade to cheer on her father or something stupid like that. When Koizumi let loose with the spell, it swirled around the rooftop in circles, bypassing Koizumi to hit us instead."

The story paused again, the storyteller swallowing. "After the smoke cleared, neither Aoko or I could move more than a few metres away from each other without getting snapped back together as if being held by giant rubber bands. I hit everyone with the knockout gas, brought her to this safe house and called you."

"So what exactly is the problem, young master?" The old man's patient voice was now filled with honest concern.

"I can't do this Jii!!" His voice cracked with barely suppressed emotion. "She's not stupid! She KNOWS she got bound to the Kid and she's going to figure it out!" The emotion found an outlet as the Kaitou hit the floor with a fist, his voice dropping down to a frustrated hiss. "If it was anyone else but HER, I could pull this off!"

The old man's voice didn't waver, maintaining it's calm concern. "What makes this so different?"

"Because the Kid's not real." The words were said softly, most likely out of concern for the sleeping girl behind him, but were no less fierce or determined for their muted volume. The Kid is just a mask that I pull on for a while to do what needs to get done. He's got no more depth or personality than a mirror. I've never even been the Kid for more than a day, and even then I wasn't in constant contact with anyone."

Another sigh, almost a muted sob or a hiccup of laughter. "And she knows me, Jii. Even if all she sees is the Kid, she knows -me-. Better than anyone, really." The voice grew soft again, this time with affection tinged with a depth of sorrow.

"You really are fond of the young miss, aren't you." The old man's voice held a depth of amusement and affection.

"More than anyone." The Kaitou's voice was sure, no trace of doubt. Another slight pause, and then a definite teenage drawl of "Oh, wipe that sappy grin off your face Jii-chan! I'm in no mood to hear stories of how much this reminds you of Mom and Dad. I'm currently rather annoyed at Dad for getting me into this mess!"

The old man chuckled, but held his peace.

"The spell should wear off in a few days." The thief shifted again, his voice growing more confidant again as the subject turned to more stable ground. "About 3 days, if I understood Koizumi's ramblings correctly before she took a nap."

"What about the spell then?" The old man's helpful voice commented. "Can you effect it?"

"Probably." The voice dropped in pitch, turning almost husky. "I can see it Jii... And I'm afraid to touch it."

The old man's voice was confused. "Why?"

"Because...." The Kaitou swallowed, his voice dropping to a mere whisper as he held up his left hand. "...It's a Red Thread."

Laying on the bed with her back to the Kaitou and his friend, Aoko closed her eyes tight shut to feign sleep and tried not to scream.


What happens next?

We don't know.

In 'Keiu/Welcome rain', they end up married and have a kid. The 'Hurt/Pain' universe, Aoko hates Kaito with a passion and ends up marrying Hakuba. (4th fic is currently under revision, 3rd fic is about half way done, there -will- be a happier ending than the 2 that have already been posted) In the upcoming sequels to 'Fallen', Aoko ends up as an apprentice.

This is actually the 4th revision of the fic, and we -still- don't know what happens after this point. She could hate him forever, accept it, pretend that she doesn't know he's the Kid, have the Kid dress in drag so they can change locations, call her father, have Jii order out for pizza, hold Kid hostage with his card gun, there are so many different ways that this can go, I simply don't know.

So what happens next is up to your imagination. ^^;; (hmm... would make a good contest, ne?)

Hauntress and Magik have already taken care of the death threats, stranglings and sent out the squadrons of rabid chibi dinosaurs, thanks.