Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start
-Coldplay, the Scientist.

The Princess
(Sequel to "The Wizard")
By Icka! M. Chif

"Aoko?" Worried violet eyes leaned down to peer into her own as they walked the grassy riverbed home from school. The breeze tickled warm brown strands of hair into his eyes, making her best friends already wild hair even wilder. "You alright? You've been all spaced out all day." Kaito's forehead was wrinkled a bit, minor creases showing his worry more than any words or jokes would have.

"Yeah." She gave herself a small mental shake, squaring her shoulders. "Yeah, I'm fine. Everything's fine."

"You sure?" The grinning poker face was gone for the moment. There was no one around in sight, which meant that it was two of them. No teasing, or joking, just she and the friend she knew so well.

"Why wouldn't I be?" She questioned, trying to tease a grin on to her face.

He reached up in response, rubbing the pad of his thumb against her forehead. "Cause you've had these wrinkles on your forehead all day, and if you keep doing that, they're gonna stay that way and you'll never iron them out."

Aoko could feel her cheeks heat up as he did that. "Stop that." She grumbled, slapping his hand away.

A teasing grin flickered across his face for a moment before being replaced with the worried look again. She sighed, realising that he wasn't going to give up until he had scolded, tricked, tickled or otherwise cajoled what was bothering her out of her.

"I'm fine, Kaito. Really." She assured him. "It's just..."

How to put it was a tender subject. He waited, maybe not patently, but with understanding for her to finish her sentence.

"My Mother's side of the family is coming tonight." She finally confessed, looking at the ground nervously and fidgeting a bit.

"That's GREAT!" Kaito beamed at her, a huge mega-watt grin stretched across his face. "Wonderful! I always wondered what your Mom looked like. I bet she's pretty. You're obviously too cute to have gotten your looks from your father's side of the family!" He bounced excitedly.

"Eh, uh..." She was pretty sure that was a compliment. And not an insult towards her father. Almost sure anyway...

"Can I come?" He asked, eyes alight with puppy-dog eagerness. "I want to meet your Mom! Please?"

"Don't you have work tonight?" She reminded him, slightly scolding.

"Oh, yeah." He wilted, the energy fading as fast as it had arrived. "Dangit."

She noted not for the first time that Kaito always seemed to have work on the nights her father was out on a Kid heist.

The thought was quickly shoved into the back of her head, along with all the other strange coincidences between Kaito and Kid the Phantom Thief. She did not need, much less want, to muse on that too deeply.

Kaito was not the Kid.

Period.

Even if they were a lot alike...

"Hey." Kaito suddenly leaned in front of her range of vision, so close their noses were almost touching. "Can I stop by? Before my job starts?"

"Um... sure." She nodded, fighting the urge to blush.

He smiled at her. "I'll see you soon then, alright?"

"Okay." She swatted at him playfully with her bookbag. "Now go on. You've got to get ready for work, don't you?"

He almost looked sad for a moment before he made a face at her and flipped her skirt.

"KAITO!!!"

With a 'Whoop!' and a cheer, he took off running. She took a few steps after him before shaking her head and settling back down to a normal walking pace, a grin on her face.

The knock on the door surprised her. It was Kaito's familiar knock, but usually he just let himself in. After this many years, it really wasn't a big deal.

She mentally shrugged and trotted downstairs to open it for him. "Kaito?"

"Hi!" He grinned, his eyes closed as he somewhat nervously scratched the back of his head, one hand carrying what looked like a tackle case for fishing. "I wasn't sure if you were getting dressed, so..."

"Oh." She opened the door wider, giving him a small smile. He was picking up some manners after all. "Come on in, I just finished getting dressed."

"I see that." Aoko found her cheeks glowing as he looked over her formal kimono. "Wow, you look..."

"Kaito..." She growled, threatening to slam the door on him.

He held up his hands in mock-innocence and laughed as he danced inside. "Nice. You look very nice. Not like a boy at all."

Feh. Some complement.

"I brought my cosmetic kit." He rambled on. "Want me to do your hair and make-up? I think we have enough time before I need to get to work."

"Kaito..." This time his name was said softer, more gently. "You mean it? Really?"

"Yeah, well..." He flashed her a grin, covering up his embarrassment. "It's your Mom, right? And you haven't seen in her a long time, so you should look extra nice... or something..."

She felt a blush heating up her cheeks. "Thanks. I appreciate it."

"You're welcome." He straightened his shoulders, standing taller, all business now. "Now come on, we don't have much time."

"Right." She lead the way upstairs to her bed room. He shooed her into the chair in front of her desk, opening the case he had with him and pulling out several compacts and brushes. He floated around her a little bit, finding her hairbrush on the dresser and gathering the hair ornaments that she'd set out before settling down and starting to brush her hair.

It always surprised her whenever he did this, using her like an oversized doll to practice on. Usually he just pulled a handkerchief over her head and poof! she looked like someone else. Instant disguise. But this was nice too, nicer in a lot of aspects. More intimate, like he was looking at -her-, Aoko, instead of 'Aoko: Best Friend' or 'Aoko: Annoying Sister'.

His hands were gentle too, never pulling too hard, but not treating her like she was made of fragile glass either. She wasn't going to break on him and it was nice to be treated as such.

Less time than she would have thought, he was done, her hair half done up on a glossy bun, the lacquered flower ointments both decorating and keeping it in place. The rest was down, looking as untamed and wild as it always was. He'd done her makeup as well, powdering her face to make it look a little less tan, but not painting it white. Not quite natural looking, but not obviously painted either.

"Your hair wouldn't let me put all of it up." Kaito apologised as she viewed herself in the mirror, tilting her head this way and that. Better than she could have done herself.

"It looks great, Kaito." She beamed up at him. "Thank you."

He smiled back. "You're welcome."

The silence stretched between the two of them, worn and comfortable from their years together.

Then the alarm on Kaito's watch went off, making them both flinch. "I gotta go." Kaito groaned, reluctantly scooping up his supplies and returning them to their places in the case.

Too quickly, everything was packed up, the case snapped closed and scooped up. She rose, mentally cursing the restriction of the kimono she was wearing as she escorted Kaito gave her one last affectionate grin, looking much like he'd ruffle her hair just to annoy her. "Say Hi to your mom for me!" He finally waved, turning to walk back down the sidewalk, like he had many times before.

She smiled back, a bittersweet expression, knowing within her heart that this was the last time she was going to see her dear funny friend and refusing to let herself acknowledge that.

If she cried, it would ruin the makeup he had just put on her...

Her Mother's people were nice, she had to give them that. She wasn't quite sure what to expect from them, it wasn't like her Mother was that high in the hierarchy after all. But they treated her like she was a princess, helping her into the vehicle and lowering the screens before taking off. She knelt on the tatami mats and watched the earth pass.

Quite literally.

She knew Dad didn't want to see her go, but that had been the arrangement when she had been born. Dad would raise her until the full moon after her eighteenth birthday. Then she would come live with Mother and her side of the family.

Because really, eighteen years wasn't that long when you lived for centuries. But when you were young and used to the human way of life, it was a lifetime.

She understood why Dad had thrown himself into his work, this was hard enough without long good-byes, or Dad refusing to let her leave. She didn't want to see him hurt, it was better this way. They'd said their farewells before school.

It didn't mean it hurt any less

The old fashion ox-cart began to rise into the air, leaving the ground behind and clearing the rooftops of the houses. She watched as the outline of her house began to blur into the greyness of the neighbourhood, the streetlights marking the twisting routes.

They moved into the city, passing a rooftop with a darkly clad figure standing on top of it. The person turned, as if sensing their approach and for a moment, her eyes locked with the violet eyes of the watcher and she found her breath catching in her throat with a small gasp.

Kaito.

But he shouldn't be able to see them. No human should be able to see the cart.

Yet he'd stared right at her.

"Aoko!" She looked behind to see him running across the length of the rooftop, an arm outstretched as if he could touch them. "Aokooooooo!!"

Her breath caught in her throat a second time, this time a scream stuck in it as Kaito ran full tilt for the edge of the tall building without a pause. He didn't even seem to see it, his eyes fixated on her. One foot lifted, reaching the edge of the building and she could see his legs flex for a jump, but it was too far, they were dozens of metres out of reach, there was no way he could make it, he was going to fall, he was going to die, Kaito was going to die before her eyes...

As his feet left the safety of the concrete, he was surrounded by a cloud of smoke, a white-clad figure shooting out of it and soaring after them like a vengeful ghost out of hell.

The Kaitou Kid.

-Kaito- had just turned into the Kaitou Kid.

Somehow, that didn't surprise her nearly as much as she thought it would have...

And he was gaining on them.

That didn't surprise her either too much, despite the fact that her heart was attempting to beat its way out of her chest and she was pretty sure that she wasn't breathing, but then right now, breathing didn't matter all that much.

Right now, all that mattered was Kaito trying to catch up with the cart, which was beginning to soar higher into the sky, glowing softly in the moonlight as if the light itself was pulling it higher. She could see Kaito beginning to strain as the glider faltered, unable to catch enough of a breeze to follow. It wobbled in the lack of wind, beginning to tilt towards the earth once more.

He caught her eye again, gaze gentle and slightly apologetic. She smiled back, pressing a hand against the soft material of the screen. It was alright, he had tried his best and she was grateful for the effort.

Then metal frame stretching the fabric cape taunt suddenly collapsed, the cape a cape once more and fluttering in the breeze.

Kaito hovered for a moment and her muscle froze as she waited for inertia to wear itself out and gravity to renew its grasp upon him.

It didn't.

The gentle gaze became hard with a determination that was as intense as it was calm as Kaito then began to -rise-, shooting after them faster than the glider could soar. He wasn't so much flying as he appeared to propel himself through the air like a rocket.

Like Magic.

The cart moved to the side, as if the invisible servants could sense his approach and attempted to doge. The glider snapped back open, Kaito throwing his weight to one side as his artificial wings steered him closer. The cart moved back the other way, crashing into him. There was a sickening screeching crunch of metal against metal as she watched the glider frame get mangled as it was dragged under the large wheels.

"Kaito?" She squeaked, leaning as far as she dared, afraid of witnessing his body fall, too far now, even with a working glider he wouldn't survive, down to the earth. She couldn't not look either. Kaito had come for her, had chased her in the air, she had to watch.

So it was much to her surprise when a gloved hand suddenly slapped the tatami mat on the other side of the cart, a white arm following it. "Kaito!" She cheered, reaching under the screens to grab him and help pull him up, into safety.

"Hey, Aoko." He gave her a crooked grin, tired yet triumphant as he sprawled next to her. "Fancy an escort to your destination? They can, um, throw me out later..."

"Bakaito!" She wailed, throwing herself over him, arms wrapped around his neck. She would not cry, she would not cry, okay, she was tearing up a bit, but she would not cry. He chuckled, one hand on her shoulder as the other one patted her back above the obi.

"Couldn't let you go just like that." He apologised, traces of self-amusement in his voice.

She giggled, resting her forehead in the crook of his neck. "Thanks." She smiled, not feeling the inclination to let him go. They'd faced a lot together, why should this be different? Kaito didn't appear inclined to let her go any time soon, so she was content to hold and be held for the moment. She'd chew him out later for scaring her like that.

"So, uh... Tsuki Hime, huh?" She could feel him grin, muscles untensing against her. "Always knew you couldn't have gotten your looks from your Dad."

She laughed, as he intended, snuggling against him for the remainder of the ride.

A Magical Moonlit Knight for the daughter of a Moon Princess?

Her Mom's side of the family was going to LOVE this...

-fin-

Tsuki Hime Moon Princess

The original idea for this fic came when we first heard Coldplay's song "The Scientist", primarily because we miss heard the lyrics 'back to the start' as 'back to the stars'. oO
Needless to say, it's taken a while to re-wrap our minds around the fic after that...