Disclaimer: I don't own Magic Kaito.

This little piece, by the way, was inspired very heavily by a Sesshoumaru x Kagura story called "Amaranth" by Morbidity. A very nice story; you should read it if you get the chance.

Whee, a Special Dedication goes out to my beta-reader and dear friend, Lyn Jarewo Wors. Thanks so much, my dear!

Defying the Stars - The stars told him he could never be with her. He defied them. Kaito x Aoko.

White cape fluttering in the wind, he clutches his prize to his chest, heart pounding. His breathing is ragged, and blood drips from his left shoulder. Those men, the ones that had killed his father, had shot that bullet.

He hears footsteps behind him. Their footsteps. He turns to them, a twisted grin on his lips.

"Is this what you want?" he asks, sneering.

He carries the pink gem in his hands, holds it up against the silhouette of the full moon.

The men advance, all threateningly brandishing guns.

Kaito continues to hold the gem under the moon, unmoving. Liquid, a strange thick liquid drips from the precious jewel, in a twist of fate finding their way to his mouth. It tastes salty, like - like tears, and he coughs to get rid of the taste.

"GET HIM!" Someone roars, most likely the leader of their little gang. But Kaito has gone too far, done too many things, lost too many people, to let them win now.

He lifts his face to meet theirs. His eyes stare at them through the monocle.

With a final scream, he brings his right hand down with all his strength to meet the roof. The jewel shatters. He produces a hammer from seemingly nowhere to smash it into even smaller fragments.

"It's done," he whispers, and flies off the roof, easily dodging their bullets.

A comet flashes through the air.

/-/

The newspapers announce the official retirement of the Kaitou KID, and the school is buzzing with the news the next morning.

Aoko smiles more than ever, and he finds himself watching her when before he didn't.

"It's done," she says, and he is fleetingly reminded of his last words on the roof. Kaitou KID's last words. "My dad is free of that nuisance once and for all." There is a slight bounce in her step. "But I wonder why he suddenly chose to retire..?"

Kaito smiles down at her. "He found a better steal."

After school, he asks her to be his girlfriend. She agrees, blushing the whole time.

/-/

In less than a year, he proposes to her. She accepts the ring with a cross between dignified grace and eager, childish giggles. It is silver, with a simple, princess-cut diamond. She seals the deal with a firm kiss on the lips, and his hands linger around her waist as he takes in this sight of her - hair still slightly tousled, but longer now, down to the small of her back. Eyes still with that dangerous fire. Perfect lips.

"When should we break the news to your dad?" he asks.

She beams. "Right now!" and proceeds to drag him back to her house.

He glances up at the gray skies, imagining for a moment that he sees his father's countenance among the clouds, smiling down at them.

"It's done," he whispers to himself.

/-/

He barely registers the sound of the bullet whizzing past his ear. What he does feel - so clearly that it hurts - is the sensation of her small hands against his chest, pushing him down to meet the rough gravel of the pavement. What he sees, with such startling clarity that it blinds him, is red. Sticky, red liquid, oozing out of her chest. Spilling onto him. His hands. Stained. With blood. Her blood.

Stained.

Forever.

As he angrily shifts his gaze from the nearly unconscious girl to the man holding the gun, his eyes widen. He recognizes this man. It is one of the men who had been on the roof. His expression twists into an ugly mask of hatred. The man smirks and pulls the trigger.

Kaito can only watch, protectively shielding Aoko from the bullet. He feels it tearing, ripping into his flesh. It burns. It hurts. Pain. That lone, burning sensation. He can still smell her hair, the fragrant flowery scent of her shampoo, and it gives him the courage to hold on. In the distance, he can hear the man's footsteps fade. The rain falls. The streets are deserted.

And then the pain gradually lessens. When he opens his eyes, he feels nothing. As if the bullet was never there in the first place. Looking down, he sees his bloodstained shirt, but no traces of a wound whatsoever.

Pandora, the wind tells him, Pandora saved you.

No. Kaito shakes his head, refusing to believe it. He won't believe it. Stop. There is no time for this. Right now, all he sees is Aoko, dying, surrounded by her own blood.

"Aoko," he says, hurriedly, "Aoko, can you hear me?"

Her eyes flutter open, dazed from unconsciousness. "Ka -" She coughs up blood. "Kaito?"

"Yes, it's me," he says, words all tumbling out at the same time, "you have to hold on, okay? Okay? Don't die on me, please, Aoko, dammit, don't die, don't die, don't die.."

Don't die.

Please.

He closes his eyes and buries his face in her hair. The smell of blood is too great. It drowns out the comforting scent of her shampoo. Lilies, he thinks, and roses, too.

"Ka - Kai - ito?" He opens his eyes to the feel of something cold against his cheek. The ring. The ring he had given her. The tips of her fingers caress his face, and he leans into her hand. A sad smile darts across her face. "Kaito... You were the KID, weren't you?"

His eyes widen slightly. He doesn't say anything for awhile. "How did you know?" he finally says.

She blinks slowly, and he can see the love in her eyes. "It was pretty obvious," she replies, and closes her eyes for the last time.

You'll never be with her, the wind whispers, delivering its message from the stars, it will never happen.

/-/

They tell him that it isn't his fault. That there was nothing he could have done about it. Her father gives him a grim hug, and short words are exchanged.

"You tried to protect her," he says.

Kaito nods dully.

"You tried to shield her from the bullet," he continues.

Kaito is silent.

"You did all you could, Kaito-kun. You have to forgive yourself." Nakamori Ginzo leaves with a short, paternal clap to the shoulder.

He didn't do all that he could do. He should have died, with her. Is this retribution? In a twist of fate, he had now been granted immortality. He fingers the place where the wound should be. There is nothing. Not even a scar. He remembers the tears that had fallen into his mouth on that fateful night so long ago.

Damn that gem to hell.

He never wanted to be immortal.

He just wanted her.

/-/

He doesn't cry at her funeral.

He sees old classmates dressed in black, humbly bowing at the altar and speaking kind words of condolences to her father. Some stop by to say hello to him, or to give him a friendly hug. It doesn't help. Nothing does.

It is entirely his fault.

Aoko wouldn't want him to cry. She wouldn't, that much he knows. So he keeps a tightlipped grin on his face, one that doesn't reach his eyes. He blinks back the tears. The eternal smile that he was famous for is gone now. Erased. Forever.

"Kuroba-kun?" A man in his twenties that he barely knew back in high school approaches him. "I'm - I'm very sorry for your loss."

Kaito smiles sadly. "Yeah. So am I."

"It wasn't your fault," the man continues, "you have to believe that."

A dry laugh escapes the former Phantom Thief. "Yeah. Sure."

He promised himself - and her - that he wouldn't cry.

The tears fell anyway.

/-/

He attends Nakamori Ginzo's funeral because he knows she would have wanted him to. He had died of natural causes, at the age of seventy-six. He lingers at the back of the crowd, not wanting anyone to recognize him. He swallows, catching a glimpse of the lifeless body in the coffin.

"I'm sorry," he murmurs, "for killing your daughter."

/-/

He meets her again after seven years, as a seventeen-year-old working part-time in a coffee shop. She'd handed him his cup of coffee with a bright smile that he'd never forgotten, even after all these years.

His heart pounds.

"What is your name?" he asks, afraid to hear the answer.

"My name?" She blinks, but replies anyway. "Okita Aoko."

Different last name, he thinks, and drinks in the sight of her. Her hair is shorter. Her eyes are green. But the fire in her eyes, the passion, and the smile - it's all her.

And he knows he shouldn't, but he has always been a risk-taker anyway.

"Would you like to go out to dinner?" he asks her, and she says yes.

/-/

He takes her out to the beach once, on her request. He stays on the shore, content with watching her. It was almost like she had never left, but it was still different, still painful. Even though she'd brandished a fish at him once, he still found himself wishing for her, not Okita Aoko, but Nakamori Aoko.

She wraps a towel around herself and flashes him a smile. "It's getting chilly," she remarks, and the wind roars in both of their ears, "we should go back and eat."

"You're right," he agrees, and stands up to join her. She intertwines her fingers with his, and they go off into the bathroom to change. He is done first, and waits for her outside the ladies' room. She exits the room wearing jeans and a pink shirt, and an annoyed expression crosses her face.

"I left my hat outside," she says, scowling. "Oh, I have to get it, Kaito."

"I'll come with you," he says, and she leads him outside. The hat, a straw one with a pink ribbon tied around it, lies near the edge of the shore. Water splashes against it, and he feels Aoko's hand disentangle itself from his to go in pursuit of it.

"Be careful!" he calls, as the wind picks up and a foreboding feeling settles itself in his chest.

It was never meant to happen, the wind tells him, and the stars sparkle from beneath the thick layer of grey clouds. You were never meant to happen.

She waves off his warning and runs to her hat. She grabs it triumphantly, and waves it in the air for him to see -

And the wind whisks it away, off to the sea.

It is only a few feet away, so she kicks off her sandals and dives into the shallow sea. He is screaming at her, get away, get away, get away -

The wave comes out of nowhere and swallows her up whole. He identifies her body the next day and arranges the funeral with a frozen heart.

/-/

He attends Kudo's funeral some twenty years later, deciding that he owed the man at least that much respect. Kudo Shinichi had also passed away peacefully, of natural causes, at the age of eighty-two. Kaito sees Ran-san there as well, politely thanking everyone for coming.

At least you got your happy ending, he thinks, ruefully.

He touches his face, wishing that he, too, had the wrinkles of those his age - he sees Ran-san, and even the detective from Osaka and his wife. But he is cursed, after all, cursed by the jewel.

To live forever, all alone, and to watch those die around him. His mother had passed away as well, living to the ripe age of ninety-three, and she had understood when she'd noticed that he hadn't aged in so many years. She still loved him to the end, and her last words to him were that his father would have been proud.

He doesn't notice the crowd leaving. Someone bumps into him, and he murmurs an apology absently. He makes the tragic mistake of looking at the one who'd done so.

Not again, he prays, please, not again.

"I'm so sorry," she says, hastily gathering her things. He blinks and looks down, noticing for the first time the papers that had fallen on the floor. In an instinctive gesture, he bends down and helps her pick up her belongings. Yamamura Aoko is typed up neatly at the top of a folder.

"It's quite all right," he hears himself telling her, and he moves away and runs, far, far away, to avoid making any of the same mistakes again.

The following week, he sits in front of the television, remote in hand. He watches the news.

"Twenty-five year old Yamamura Aoko was found murdered in her apartment late this morning -"

Kaito turns off the television and tries to go to sleep.

/-/

The next time he meets her, it is four years later, on a sunny afternoon under a cherry blossom tree. The scene is almost too clich├ęd, he thinks to himself.

He works various jobs, little odds and ends. He doesn't do magic, though, not anymore, although sometimes he will stare at his monocle and wonder.

He makes friends, but he is distant, now, almost cold. Because when Aoko left, she took more than just her life with her.

He glances up wistfully at the frail pink blossoms. She had been there with him, he remembers, staring up at the cherry blossoms, smiling, laughing.

That had been so many, many years ago. Fifty? More? He has lost count.

All he wants to do is die. And he can't even do that now.

The ache in his heart had never faded. No. It grew louder, into a lion's roar, each passing day.

So when he catches a glimpse of her dark hair, and her sapphire blue eyes, he opens his mouth, and against his own will, calls out her name: "Aoko.."

She turns to him, startled. He meets her eyes, and finds it almost impossible to breathe.

"I'm sorry," she tells him, furrowing her brow, "do I know you?"

He swallows. So many years of memories. He wishes he could forget, just like her.

"No," he answers, shaking his head, a queer little smile on his lips. "You just remind me of someone, that's all."

/-/

Fifteen years afterwards, still in the mask of an eighteen-year-old boy, Kaito stretches lazily out on the bed, having been awoken by the sun's rays. He climbs out of bed, opens his front door, and takes the morning paper from its position on his front steps.

He brews his morning coffee and places some toast in his toaster. He finds the remote in the exact place he left it last night and turns on the television, automatically switching the channel to the news. He unrolls his morning paper and is greeted by a large picture of two painfully familiar people, and a large, bold headline emblazoned across the top.

"Narita Saguru, famous actor, has officially tied the knot! This bachelor has been claimed by the equally famous actress, Akizuki Aoko!"

Kaito blinks before fully registering the news. He feels a small tug in his heart.

He reads the article with a sad, desperate little smile. Hakuba, you bastard, he thinks, although there is no heat behind the words.

The toast is done. The coffee is done. He stands up and throws the newspaper in the trash. He puts the toast on a plate and pours the coffee in a mug, stirring in cream and sugar. The coffee is black, strong, and bitter, but later he falls asleep on the couch anyway.

He dreams of going to America.

Far, far away...

/-/

Eight years later, he steps off the plane and glances up at the sky, at the ground, and at his entire surroundings. So this is California, he thinks to himself, America, a land far and different from Japan.

He politely thanks the stewardess as he passes through the gate. The signs here are entirely in English, but this is no problem for him. He's learned the language and speaks it with a fluency that comes from years of dedicated study. There is barely a trace of a Japanese accent in his voice.

He finds the baggage claim with ease and spots his red suitcase from afar. He lifts it from the carousel and is about to turn and walk away when something catches his eye and he turns.

His heart stops beating, and everything seems to slow down, for just a second..

He can only see her profile, but he is sure that it is her. Her hair is much longer, down to her waist, and her skin is darker, but only by a little bit. Her eyes are brown. She struggles with lifting her suitcase, and against his mind's wishes, he has already made his way to her.

"Do you need any help?" he asks, and she turns and greets him with grateful eyes.

Eyes that haunt him.

"Thank you," she tells him, breathlessly, and begins to roll the suitcase behind her. He is almost angry at her for it. Why is she following him?

"You're welcome," he answers, somewhat hesitantly.

She is oblivious to his awkwardness. "You're from Japan, too, aren't you?" she questions, in English, and he can hear hints of an accent underneath the foreign words.

"Yes," he replies, speaking in Japanese now. "What's your name?" Although he already knows, really.

"Ichiro Aoko," she answers, pleasantly. "And yours?"

"Kuroba Kaito," he tells her, the name sounding almost foreign to his lips.

He tries to distance himself from her, much like he did when he'd first taken up his father's white cape and hat. God, how long ago had that been?

But just like back then, she melts that barrier quicker than fire can melt ice. She opens up to him quickly, and he finds himself enjoying himself for the first time in a long time.

A yellow taxi pauses in front of them. He, being the gentleman, offers it to her first, and her hand lingers on the door.

"I usually don't do this," she confesses, looking down, "but... would you like to... go out sometime?"

His eyes close briefly.

But he nods, and tries to ignore the voice in his head that tells him he is making a big mistake.

/-/

It is the radio that brings him the bad news this time. There is always bad news. Always. But he chooses to defy fate, hoping in vain that maybe this time, this time, it will be different -

It isn't.

He is on his way to meet her at the restaurant of her choice when the radio announcer buzzes in, voice thick with static..

"There has been an accident on the South Freeway. A pickup truck collided with a small car. The driver of the truck is injured, but still alive. However, the driver of the car is dead. Her name is Ichiro Aoko -"

Kaito abruptly pulls over to the side of the road and turns off the radio. He buries his face in the wheel and wishes he could die with her.

/-/

He moves to New York, enjoying the busy, high-paced lifestyle of the city. Thirteen years have passed, and he hasn't seen her, not yet. He doesn't keep his hopes up. He knows, that by some strange twist of fate, he will meet her again, and then she will die, and he will live on and face the consequences of the hell that he is trapped in.

He is entirely unprepared for what will happen next in his life.

Maybe it's because he's lived for far too long. He must have lived for a hundred years now? Maybe more. It feels like so much more, the weight of an eternity on his thin, frail shoulders.

So when his chest begins to throb and his left arm goes paralyzingly numb, he sits still for a long time, unable to register these feelings. Is this.. pain? Physical pain? He hasn't felt physical pain for so long. Mental pain, yes, and emotional pain, gods, yes.

What does it mean?

His heart begins to beat rapidly, irregularly. He begins to sweat. He begins to curse. Something is about to happen, he can feel it, he can tell. He is choking. Choking. He can't breathe, dammit, he can't breathe -

But does he really want to anymore?

Aoko wouldn't want this, he thinks, the rational side of him barely working. He gropes for the cordless, dialing 911, explaining in harsh, brusque words. He leans back against his green couch, breathing heavily.

He thinks he can see her, floating in the clouds, a serene smile on her face.

She has wings.

He reaches for her. So close, so close -

He can vaguely see a number of figures in white clothes break down his door and surround him. He is hazily aware of being lifted onto a stretcher and into the back of an ambulance. He hears them struggling to save his life.

In the midst of the journey to the hospital, Kuroba Kaito's heart stops beating.

The gods have smiled down on you. Pandora's curse is lifted, the wind whispers, and the sirens wail in the deafening silence.

/-/

Everything is white. And painless. Blissfully painless.

Lucky for you, you only took a few drops of its tears, a cynical voice in the back of his head reprimands, otherwise you'd have been stuck on that world for eternity.

Kaito opens his eyes, almost afraid to find out if he is still alive.

He is standing, and he decides not to question how, or why. He blinks slowly.

And then he sees her.

All of her, in one. He recognizes her easily. She looks just like she did before she died. Nakamori Aoko. His childhood friend. And so much more. With her bushy hair, and her startlingly clear blue eyes. The silver ring is still on her finger, he notes absently, and he knows he should do something, but all he can do is stand there, and gape.

"I didn't think you'd ever come," she tells him softly.

"Why wouldn't I?" He takes a few steps, closing the distance slowly.

"They said," she began, waving her hand in the air, a look of sadness on her face, "they said that it was never meant to be."

"I know." He swallows and walks closer.

"Is it okay?" she asks, uncertain. "They said -"

But he cuts her off. He has waited far too long.

"To hell with them," he growls, and crosses the threshold to where she stands. Takes her in his arms. Kisses her.

Defying the fates.

Defying the stars.

/ end /

Random Notes: Yeah. That was me, with angst. Considered having Kaito live a long, lonely life by himself, continuously watching Aoko die, but the happy-ending-fangirl in me kicked that ending out. Ehe. Feedback would be greatly appreciated! (My goodness, angst is draining. I'm exhausted!)