Many thanks to the usual evil influances, Ysabet, MOrgan, Mel Redcap, Becky Tailweaver and Dogmatix. Special thanks to Kiena Tesedale for the beta read and grammer check!

The Price You Pay:
For Freedom part 2
By Icka! M. Chif

"You told him, didn't you?" the Kid's voice was undemanding, neither disapproval nor approval in his demeanour and tone as Heiji stepped on to Agasa's roof. The thief was sitting on the edge, the wind catching his cape and tossing it around, making it look like there was a ghost trapped on the rooftop. "That I was helping you with the case."

"Yeah." He sighed, not looking at the Kid as he walked next to him, feeling the disappointment coil in his belly again. "It didn't go so well."


Heiji paused, turning to look at the poker faced teen. "Wait... how did you know that I told him?"

"In this case, it was written all over your face." A grin spread across the Kid's face. "You've got a good game face, but your poker face could use some work."

"Heh." The detective played with the brim of his hat for a moment before becoming serious again. "How come you're okay with this? He is your twin, after all, you can't get much closer than that."

The thief shrugged. "I think I expected it... Everything has its price, especially for knowledge and intelligence. For him, it's the secrecy and lies. For me, it's isolation." he paused, peering at the Osaka boy with wise eyes that appeared violet in the light. "Don't know what your price is yet. Perhaps your karma is balanced enough that you don't have to yet. You don't tend to trust to luck as much as my brother or I do."

"Karma, huh?" Heiji grinned. "Wouldn't strike ya as the mystic sort."

"Oh, I'm not," the Kid assured him with a light-hearted grin. "Prefer to make my own luck and all that. But sometimes it's nice to believe in something greater than ourselves."

Heiji felt the reassuring weight of the omamori Kazuha gave him around his neck, and found it hard to argue.

"How come you're so... relaxed about all this anyway?" Heiji grumped. "He's your twin and all that, and you're actin' like you're out on a moonlight stroll."

The Kid chuckled, stretching. "Two reasons for that, I think."

"And that would be-?"

"Well, for starters..." the Kid slowly bent at the waist, keeping his legs straight and leaned forward until his palms were flat on the ground. "I've known about this adoption thing longer than you have. I've had a bit more time to think about everything and adjust."

Hands firmly planted on the ground, Kid lifted his feet up into the air until he was doing a handstand, his cape falling around his head, the hat miraculously staying on. Heiji raised an eyebrow. "And the second reason?"

A grin made it's presence known through the concealing shadows and folds of fabric as the Kid then began to bend -backwards-, until his feet were back on the ground, in line with the back of his head, the tips of his fingers pointed towards his toes. His hat miraculously stayed on, touching the ground. "Magicians are extremely flexible."

Heiji's eyebrow rose as he gave a low whistle. "I'll say. Whoever ya end up marryin' is gonna be extremely lucky..."

A flash of blankness flickered across the thief's grinning face, and he realized that he had just said something wrong. "Sorry." He apologised, not quite sure what he was apologising for, but feeling the need to.

"No, don't worry about it." the Kid dismissed his worry, strenuously raising his feet back up into the air again, straightening his arms and torso. "I just have a friend too, you know." the Kid commented conversationally. "Like your Kazuha or Kudo's Ran-kun. She doesn't know either."

"To keep her safe?" Heiji ventured as the Kid's feet reached as high into the air as they could go, then his body folded down like a jack-knife, the tops of his shoes level with his head.

"More like self preservation, actually." The thief's tone turned wry as he shifted his grip on the rooftop to rotate his body down, like a gymnast on the high bars. "She'd like nothing more than to repeatedly take a blunt object to the Kid's head before throwing him in a deep dark cell and losing the key down a well."

"That's a good reason." Heiji admitted. The Kid's legs were now parallel to the ground, being held up by the strength of his arms. "Ya can't sit still much, can ya?" he commented, amused.

"Only when absolutely necessary." The Kid flashed him a grin. "Moving targets and all that."

He chuckled. "Alright, one more personal question and then ta work."

An amused suspicious eyebrow rose at the comment. "-one more personal question for the moment anyway." he amended with a sheepish grin.

"Fair enough."

"You call the former Kid your Father, but ya know you were adopted and created in the lab. Why?" It didn't make sense. The Kid seemed to be fond of the previous Phantom Thief, and he'd made comments to Agasa-hakase about his mother as well, without the slightest bit of hesitation.

The Kid looked surprised, then lifted his hands in the air to fall cross-legged on the ground with a muffled 'thump'. "You don't?" he asked, looking slightly puzzled.

"Ehh..." Heiji rubbed the back of his neck nervously and the Kid snorted.

"To me, my father is... well, my father." The Kid scratched the back of his head, tilting the brim of the top hat farther over his face. He reached up, and almost hesitantly removed the monocle that masked half his face. The shadows from the brim of the hat continued to obscure his features as he looked at the glass lens. "The man who raised me as his son is the person I call Father. Not some mess of genetic goop in a lab."

The urge to close the few metres that separated them and remove his hat, to unmask the Kid once and for all, now that his monocle was off rose, and Heiji struggled with it for a moment. It was a great temptation, but at the same time, it felt wrong to do so. The Kid was unmasked, yes. But the act was like a gift. A gift of trust, a moment of truth without masks.

And Heiji found he didn't want to break that.

He waited instead.

"I didn't know that Kudo was my brother until you told me that Lupin and Holmes were twins. But we looked so much alike that I figured it couldn't be just a coincidence." Kid gave out a soft sardonic-sounding chuckle. "Hell, I wasn't even sure I was one of the experiments until you put it all together."

"But ya suspected."

"Yeah." Kid sighed ruefully, putting the monocle back on again, like he was wearily shouldering a heavy burden once more. "Just another thing to set me apart," he muttered.

The words were probably bitterer than the thief intended. "Naw." Heiji shot him a grin. "Just an interesting twist to the family."

The deer-in-the-headlights look was priceless. Especially since it appeared that Kid's eyes extended past the monocle.

Heiji felt his grin stretch wide enough that it felt like it was ear to ear. Kid blinked at him, then grinned back, extending his hand. Heiji took it, giving the Kid a firm shake. "Agreed."

He chuckled, feeling a lot better. "So, did you find anything interesting about our dear Seigen-san? I'm afraid all I was able to get was a likely name before I got dragged off."

"I heard about that, the pick-pocket case. Good job, by the way." Kid straightened, all business again. "I couldn't get a name, but I did find something else of interest."


"Yes. One of our dear Seigen-san's rescuers is a regular at a sushi bar down the way from our impromptu party last night. He stops there for a light meal and a drink before going home."

"I'm beginning to think you're a bad influence on me," Heiji grumbled good naturedly as he rolled to his feet.

"Really?" Kid followed, doing a handstand before flipping to his feet. "Why?"

"I haven't been to bars this much in a long time."

"If it's any consolation, I don't drink."

Kid had changed in an alley, one poof of smoke and Heiji found himself walking next to a guy in his mid-twenties, with a longer angular face, black leather jacket, dark gloves and an attitude that screamed either part-time thug or ex-biker, he wasn't sure which.

"Ya ready?" Kid drawled, his Osaka-ben matching Heiji's own.

"Yeah." Heiji snorted, amused. "Finally, someone who can actually speak properly. Kudo can't speak Osaka-ben to save his life."

The Kid flashed him an amused look, pausing to elbow him in the ribs just as they entered. "Don't try to look mysterious." He advised. "You only end up looking constipated and people start pointing you towards the toilet."

Heiji raised an eyebrow back. They were going in to pick someone up at a bar to gather information on someone's murder. Hopefully without anyone knowing whom they were, because Oton would kill him if he found out that he was going into a bar with an international thief. "And you would suggest -?"

"Smile." Glasses were pushed higher on his face as he grinned, looking like he was laughing at a private joke, or a shark about to pull a fast one on a hapless surfer. "And let people wonder what the joke is."

Heiji let out a brief amused snort, a grin involuntarily creeping across his face as he reached up to hold the curtain for Kid to duck under.

The philosophy seemed to work well enough for the Kid.

Kid ambled over towards the guy casually enough, appearing almost cheerful about the whole thing. "'cuse me, sir." The thief drawled politely. "You know Seigen-san?"

The guy looked up at them balefully, obviously already a bit into his cups. "What about it?"

"If you'd be so kind to answer a few questions about her, we'd appreciate it deeply," Kid said glibly. He'd obviously been watching too many cop shows.

The guy looked between them for a moment, eyes peering to make up for lack of focus before giving Heiji a hard look. "Do I know you?"

Heiji swallowed. Dammit, it was the guy who'd turned green last night. He recalled the Kid's advice and smiled widely. "Prolly not." Lying. Through. His. Teeth. Shit, he should have remembered that little fact -before- he walked into the bar...

"Lets... talk somewhere a little more private," Kid said diplomatically, putting a hand on the guy's elbow and hefting him up out of his seat, effectively distracting him. The thief deftly escorted their friend out of the bar without giving him a chance to complain. Heiji did not fail to notice the strange looks that the thief cast at the plates of sushi that littered the tables around them.

"We'll return him in just a few moments." Heiji assured proprietor, who was giving them wary looks. He waved cheerfully as they disappeared out the door. He kept the same big smile stuck on his face as he sauntered around the corner to the alleyway where Kid was still casually holding on to their 'friend'.

His mind distantly noted the difference between 'asking someone where someone else might live' and 'taking someone out to a dark alley to ask them a few questions' was a very fine line indeed.

Ah, the things he did for Kudo's sake...

Kid raised an eyebrow, silently stating that he would take his cues from Heiji.

He could live with that. "We just need ta know where Seigan-san lives."

The guy glared at him. Kid rolled his eyes. "Look man, we just need to know where she lives and we'll get out of your hair," He said cajolingly.

"I'm not telling you," The man said stubbornly. "Not telling nothing to no punks."

"We're not punks," Heiji growled. "We just need to know where Seigan-san lives."


"We think something bad may have happened to her." Kid added, "We just want to make sure she's okay."

Nice stretching of the truth.

The jaw came out stubbornly. "Do something is more likely."

"We're not robbers either." Heiji felt a nerve twitch on his forehead. Technically, Kid was a Kaitou, or a phantom thief. Somehow he got the feeling that Kid would take being called a mere 'robber' as an insult. "We're here to help someone."

"Ha!" The guy muttered belligerent insults under his breath about their breeding. Heiji took a step forward, only to be stopped by the Kid's hand on his arm.

"Calm down." Kid whispered. Heiji grumbled wordlessly back, temporarily dislodging the thief's grip.

"Ha!" The guy cackled. "I know what' you're up to! You won't get nothing out of me with that Good Cop - Bad Cop routine!" The last part came out with a scornful sneer.

Kid went perfectly stiff, the expression on his face deceptively polite as he released Heiji and took a step closer to the guy. "Oh, now see, there's the hitch." The thief leaned over, teeth glinting like fangs as he opened a hand in front of the drunk. "I'm not a cop. And no one ever said I was 'good'."

A ball of fire burst into existence in his gloved palm, lighting an un-holy gleam in the Kid's purple eyes as the shadows seemed to darken and increase around them. "Now... Let's try this again, shall we?" he purred.

The man gulped, beads of sweat pouring down his face, suddenly not looking so cocky.

Couple minutes later, their dear Seigan-san's friend staggered back into the bar, pale faced and much more sober than he had been when he'd left.

Heiji and Kid headed the other direction, towards the subway and the address they had been given. Kid looked very pleased with himself as he replaced his fire-resistant gloves with his normal white gloves and slipped the contacts from his eyes. "Well that wasn't as hard as I thought it would be."

Heiji shot him a withering look. "Ya just HAD ta ruin all my fun, didn't ya?"

"Well, beating him up wasn't going to get anywhere." Kid shrugged. "And my way was faster."

"But no where near as fun," he grumbled. Okay, so he hadn't actually planned to beat up the guy, but it would have been nice for the guy to answer him without the scare tactics.

The Kid snerked but ever-so-graciously let it go.

"This is it?" Kid whispered, voice hushed as they paused outside the door of a normal looking apartment building. The closed narrow hallway was empty, but the thief was obviously nervous in such an encased area. Heiji couldn't fault him at the moment; he didn't exactly have an excuse handy to explain why they were in the hallway in case someone else decided to join them in the corridor.

"You were there with me." Heiji shot back.

Kid shrugged in response. Heiji shook his head and raised his hand to knock on the door.


He paused in mid-movement, the Kid's posture suddenly tense as he looked intently at the door, like a cat that had just heard a mouse in the kitchen. "What?"

"Someone's been here." The other boy's voice was hushed. Heiji frowned. He'd hoped that their dear Seigen-san was home but that wouldn't explain the thief's reaction. Eyes narrowing, he noticed what the Kid obviously had -the door was not closed all the way. Not by much, just enough for the latches not to catch. "I didn't do it," Kid quickly protested.

Heiji frowned. It was unlikely that Seigan would leave the door unlocked. It was more likely that it was as the Kid said; someone had gotten there before they did.

Not good.

Kid flattened himself up against the wall as Heiji did the same on the other side of the door, one hand carefully pressing the door open. It moved easily, without noise. Kid held a finger up to his lips, the white-hatted head peering around the edge with a wariness that screamed of caution and an attitude that spoke of old habit.

The fierce expression that was habitual for the kaitou slipped for a moment, the cat-like eyes becoming widening in shock, horror, sorrow and dismay before returning again. "We're anticipated." Kid quipped softly, a tad sadly as he slipped into the room, a white shadow of a ghost.

Anticipated? Heiji gave a superfluous glance around the hall and followed, noting the various crafts that decorated the small front room. Beads, fabric, looms and masks littered the floor and covered a fish tank with three guppies in it. Their Seigan-san was a creative person.

Their Seigan-san was also lying dead in the middle of the floor, a large pool of blood seeping out from a hole in her chest and coating the floor. Two cats, a white and calico wearing a bell and a white cat with large black in spots on its back mewed and rubbed their heads against hers, trying to wake their mistress and avoid the wet puddle.

Kid reached up and closed the eyes. Heiji wanted to protest about altering a crime scene when the Kid warned, "She's warm."

He could almost smell the gunpowder in the air. Who ever did this had to be close.

A little too close, he belatedly realised as a dark clothed man with a large handlebar moustache, like on those American Harley Motorcycle riders, made his appearance. A large pistol with a silencer weighing the end rested in his hand. "Hello, boy."

The thief tensed. "Snake." he acknowledged. Heiji frowned. Kid knew the murderer. The question being, how well?

"I see you have a friend." the man in black said conversationally, admiring the gun for a moment. "Rather dangerous, don't you think?"

"Sometimes letting people close to you is a risk you have to take." Kid slowly rose from the crouch, arms spread out slightly either for balance or to show that there was nothing in his hands. "Why'd you kill her, Snake?"

"Just covering loose ends." Snake smiled. Except for the amusement that lurked beneath the surface, the expression matched the coldness of his namesake. A click echoed in the room, the pistol being cocked. "Nobody leaves."

Heiji could almost hear the click in the back of his head as the pieces fell into places. Seigan-san had worked for the Men in Black. And unless he was mistaken, mixed in with the crafts from around the room was the mask that probably allowed her to impersonate Kudo Shin'ichi. Although it had probably taken some help to put on correctly, if his experience was any guideline. But Hanashika Taiho's murder was probably supposed to be her last job.

Correction, -was- her last job.

A white blur hit him, propelling him out the door as the Kid half tackled - half pushed him down the corridor, which now seemed like an off-white tunnel of death with nothing to use as cover. He suddenly had a wave of empathy for the Kid's fear of enclosed spaces. "Move!"

"Friend of yers?" Heiji growled as Kid shoved him none too gently up the staircase at the end. Bits of plaster exploded behind them, a bullet striking the wall as they began racing up the stairs.

"Hardly." Kid snapped back. "That's the guy that killed my father."

Stop. Pause. Rewind. Oh. Definitely no loss of love there. "Sorry."

Another set of footsteps joined theirs on the staircase. Heiji was grateful for the twist every half floor that provided cover, even if the stairs were going to kill his legs. "Fergit it."

They burst out on to the rooftop, both of them looking around, panting slightly for breath. It was empty except for various vents, machinery and empty laundry racks. They dove in opposite directions as Snake's footsteps rang out behind them. The trechcoated man made it perfectly clear that he wasn't discriminatory as to which one of them he shot, just so long as they both died.

Heiji cast around, looking for something to use as a weapon and cursing his lack of gadgetry. One of Kudo's tricks would be handy right about now. Kid didn't have that problem, ducking and weaving from hiding place to hiding place as he fired his card gun.

"Hey, cuz," Heiji called, drawing Snake's attention as Kid dashed for a bit of cover that was a bit farther away than Heiji considered a safe distance. "You wouldn't happen ta be an anime fan, would ya?"

The thief waited until he had reached a relatively safe place before answering. "Why?"

"Cause ya move just like one." Heiji dashed to a new hiding place of his own, flying playing cards covering his run. "Are ya human or a jumpin' bean?!"

"Some days, its hard to tell the difference," Kid admitted. Heiji spared him a flash of a grin as he spotted what he'd been hoping for, a length of pipe that had most likely fallen from a laundry rack. A dive and roll across the rooftop allowed him to safely snatch up the sturdy pipe before ducking behind another vent.

Flying cards from the Kid distracted Snake. Heiji muttered a quick prayer for luck and charged at Snake, gripping the pipe like a bokken to smash the gun out of the man's hand. The man in black turned, avoiding the strike. Heiji crouched, sneakers gripped the cement as he killed his momentum before he went over the edge of the roof and swung the pipe again, the metal knocking into the back of Snake's legs, knocking him down.

"Heh." Heiji grinned, rising. "Gotcha."

"Look out!" The Kid tackled Heiji, his arms wrapping around his torso from behind as the momentum pushed the taller boy backwards.

"We're too close to the edge!" Heiji dropped the pipe, making a futile attempt to remain upright. Snake was slightly winded but still armed. If he shot them at this range, there was no way for him to miss. The rooftop door swung open again, more men dressed in black coming out. Dull polished metal gleamed from black gloved hands.

The phantom thief's face was set with a determined edge as they both went over. "Exactly."


:: WOOSH! ::

The hang-glider snapped open, slowing their decent. Oh, yeah... Kid could fly.

"Can yer glider hold two people?" Heiji gulped as he looked down to see the ground fly by dozens of metres below his feet, the only thing keeping him from falling being the thief's arms under his.

"It did once," the Kid admitted. "But she was over a third lighter than you are."

Pa-ching! They both flinched as a bullet went whizzing past. The Kid attempted to roll, changing their flight path, but was hindered by the extra weight that Heiji presented. The Kid winced above him as Heiji felt himself begin to slide out of the thief's grasp.

"Drop me," Heiji instructed as the gravity pulled the glider down toward the rooftops. "Ya can glide to safety and I'll take the stairs down."


"Just do it!" he snapped.

"No." The Kid's voice was determined. Another bullet whizzed by, missing them by a wide margin.

"Dammit, just let go of me!" The ground was just a few metres under his feet, he could make it safely. It would hurt, but it was the best way he could see for both of them to make it in one piece.

"Look, you're the one going on about family not abandoning family, right?" the Kid growled, his grip tightening. "So shut up and let me fly. I'm not going to drop you until I'm ready to drop you, Got It?!"

Heiji blinked, taken back by the ferocity in the tone. "Got it."

"Good. A few more blocks and he won't see us anyway." The Kid sounded smug, but he could detect the strain in his voice. The Kid was lighter by several kilos, and smaller by a couple of centimetres too. Heiji was quietly impressed by the thief's stubbornness.

The glider was descending lower, and finally his feet scrapped against the flat surface of a rooftop and he ran/dragged across it. The Kid let go, flying a few more metres before getting his feet under him and the glider snapped back into the usual cape. The Kid sighed, theatrically falling backwards on to the roof and panted to catch his breath.

"You okay?" Heiji asked, walking over to look at him.

"I thought my arms were going to fall off!" the Kid wailed. "You're HEAVY!"

"Well..." He crossed his arms and smirked. "I told ya to drop me."

Kid glared in response. "Shaddup. Gimme a second for my hands to regain feeling and lets book it."

He chuckled. "Deal."

"Guess this is the end, huh?" The Kid gave him a hesitant grin. They were on the rooftop across the street from the Mouri detective agency, watching the lights turn on down below. "Next time we meet, you'll be after my hide again, won't you?"

Heiji returned the grin, his own hesitation showing through. "That's right, I did promise to track ya down, didn't I?" he mused thoughtfully.


"Hn." He wasn't quite sure what he was supposed to feel here. On one hand, this was his cousin, who had just saved his life. On the other hand, this was a world-renowned thief with a sense of humour that drove the law enforcement insane.

"Before we go though..." the Kid looked uncertain. "Could I ask something from you?"

He blinked, slightly surprised. "Depends."

"Kudo." The thief motioned towards their relative below. "Could you keep an eye on him for me? I don't think he's going to be pleased to see me for a while."

Honest concern radiated off the thief, and Heiji felt his shoulders relax. "On one condition." he agreed, a grin creeping across his face.

"Which is?" It was Kid's turn to turn suspicious.

"Keep an eye on our other cousin." His grin grew larger. "Seein' as I don't know who they are."

This got a laugh out of the Kid, a huge grin crossing his face. "I don't think I have a choice in that regard. Given a half a chance he tends to stick pretty close."

"Will have to meet him sometime." he said neutrally. There was a story there, one he would love to hear sometime. "But you have a Deal," He said, holding out his hand.

The Kid took it, clasping it with a gloved hand and they shook in a business like manner despite his manic grin.

Of course, that didn't last for very long. Grins firmly planted on faces, they both attempted to squeeze the fingers off the other. It didn't quite work, and after several moments, they let go, fingers numb and their masculine egos intact.

"Take care of yourself, Cousin." Kid tipped his hat towards him before launching himself off the building, his hang glider snapping open and lifting him up into the night sky.

He watched him fly until the thief was no more than a white dot in the night sky.

"You too, cuz," he spoke into the empty air. "You too."

Then he turned to go downstairs and to the Mouri Detective Agency, where he would call the police to deliver the news that Kudo was off the hook.

Heiji slapped a pleasant expression on his face, rang the doorbell, stuck his hands comfortably in his pockets and waited. He was pretty sure that his short amount of time with the Kid was already starting to show its influence, -he doubted if he would have ever dared to pull a stunt like this before hand.

The door opened and a pleasant looking woman opened the door, her hair tied back with a kerchief and a feather duster in one hand. She smiled at him, making the dust smudge on the corner of one cheek crinkle with smiling and laugh lines. "Can I help you?"

"I hope so." He grinned cheerfully. "Is Kid the Phantom Thief home?"

Emotions quickly crossed her face, surprise, shock, confusion, before settling on a determined puzzlement. "I'm sorry?"

"I asked if the Kaitou Kid was home," he repeated gamely.

A brief flash of anger sparked in her blue eyes, and it looked like she was ready to slam the door in his face. "I'm afraid I don't know-"

"Mom. It's okay." A somewhat familiar voice, higher pitched and mellower than he was used to hearing, cut her off. They both turned to look at the newcomer.

It was the Kid, only... it wasn't. Gone was the cool thief, to be replaced by a teenage boy his age, with wild hair that looked like it ate combs on a regular basis and scruffy jeans and a dark tee shirt, covered with leaves, dirt and white feathers. A hesitant smile spread across his face as he wiped a smudge of dirt on his cheek with the back of one hand, making the smudge bigger. "Guess the Magic Show is over after all, huh?" he ventured, slowly walking closer.

"Why?" He shot the thief an innocent grin. "Ya plannin' on quittin'?"

"Eh?" Confusion flickered across the magician's face. Heiji grinned and slung an arm around the shorter boy's neck in a friendly almost-stranglehold.

"You promised to introduce me to our cousin, remember?" He smirked.

The Kid blinked, then returned his grin with a delighted one of his own. "I did, didn't I?" He chuckled warmly, reaching up to make a grab at Heiji's hat, which he avoided. Heiji smirked, and eased up on the stranglehold, allowing Kid to straighten and shoot a grin to the worried looking woman. "Mom, this is Hattori Heiji, my biological cousin. Heiji, his is MY Mom." The pride in his voice was unmistakable.

His mother however, just looked confused and more than a little alarmed. "Kaito?" Kid, or Kaito, flashed a look at him, silently explaining that she didn't know that he knew he was adopted. He nodded back, a mixture of understanding and silent apology. His parents didn't know that he knew either.

Though he was amused by the fact that they were doing the same communicating without words thing that he and Kudo did. He wondered if Kid, no, Kaito even knew he was doing it.

"Mom, it's okay. Really." Kaito's grin faltered a bit as his mom continued to look between the both of them, confusion and not just a little fear still radiating from her. She finally paused, eyes closing as she took a deep breath that seemed to calm her down.

Kaito moved towards her, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Mom?"

"I'm fine." His mom placed her hands over his and squeezed. "I'm fine." She repeated, a bit surer of herself. She opened her eyes, which were large and brimming with tears, an odd contrast to bittersweet look in them and the fond smile on her face. "Go on, we'll talk later."

Kaito hesitated. "You sure?"

"This can wait," Heiji seconded, feeling bad for the trouble he obviously caused. "I didn't mean to cause any problems."

She shook her head, giving her son's hand a final pat before letting it go. "It's okay. Just a bit of a surprise, that's all." Her tone turned fond and business-like as she made little shoo-ing motions with her hands. "Go visit your cousins. Heiji-kun, you're staying for supper?"

"I, uh..." He felt a sweatdrop sliding down the back of his head. It was not so much a question as a command. Kaito raised an eyebrow, giving him a small reassuring smile. "If it's okay-?" he temporised.

"It is," She said firmly, the tears fading away. "Now go, shoo. I'll see you at supper."

Kaito paused, then gave his mother a hug and an awkward but fond kiss to her cheek. "See you soon." Then he stepped back and started heading down towards the sidewalk with a wave.

"Nice to meet ya." Heiji gave her a quick bow darting off after his hyper-active cousin. A few steps later, when a feather drifted off Kaito's shirt and hit him, he inquired, "Shouldn't you clean up if we're going to visit our cousin?"

"Nah." Kaito gave him an easy grin. "S'fun to play with Bird-brain's mind like that. You'll love him, he's got a stick up his butt like a metre long, it's great fun to yank his chain."

Heiji had to grin at that. "Sounds like fun."

"It is. Oh, and Heiji?" Kaito's grin turned downright wicked.

"...yeah?" A bad feeling trickled down the back of his spine.

"Call Mom 'Aunty' when we get back." Kaito grinned and slung a dusty sleeve around his shoulders. "Welcome to the family."

- fin -

Ysabet killed me back in 'Conversations with Ghosts', (I'm the gajin imitating bazooka noises), so to return the favour, we killed her here. Becky Tailweaver commented that she wanted to get killed in a fic as well, so she got murdered in the very first line of the story. Hee.

Ysabet- Oath of God
Seigan- Oath to God
(the cats, guppies and living room are hers as well.)

Becky/Rebecca- Captivating
Taiho- arrest; apprehension; capture
Hanashika- Storyteller

Snake is a real character in the MK manga, he's taken pot shots at Kaito in several chapters.

Next Section: The Price You Pay: For Friendship (in progress)