Written: September 2006

Disclaimer: This awesomeness is mostly mine. Just not its source or inspiration: "All These Things That I've Done" by the Killers and Mozart's 25th Symphony. Gold star to anyone who finds the RENT reference or Shakespeare allusion.

Author's note: A belated birthday present to my bestest friend.

Dedication: Happy birthday, you face.

Over and In

By Pedal

"Let's hear it then, Detective-kun."

His sharp eyes rose to meet Kaito's round, innocent ones.

"What did you call me?"

"Just tell the dumb story, Hakuba."

Maestoso; majestic

Hakuba panted, resting his weight against a seat in the worn down theatre. Well, at least he had found the main stage and its home. Red draped balconies stared down at him, almost seeming ashamed of him. The gold thread that had once held most of the gallery seats together had faded, and half of the curtain laid far stage right. The stale smell and dust had the detective coughing as he strained to get his breath back.

A loud, booming click echoed around him, and he jumped a little more than he would've liked. Wide eyes stared at the stage, its sudden illumination pacifying him.

"Like a baby."


Dust settled, several large clumps falling from the catwalk. "My dear, dear Detective. How good of you to come to my little show," a mocking voice came from above.

"Damn you," roared Hakuba at the top of his lungs. He winced at his inhale from it, the old air filling his body once again. "Show yourself!" The sound of beating wings worried him, their source obviously larger than a dove's. "Watson, boy, come here." Just as he began clucking his tongue, the hawk dropped from the ceiling, barreling before haphazardly flying to his owner's arm. He began preening furiously, projecting to Hakuba that he favored to be in a cleaner environment as well.

A dove gracefully settled in the middle of the stage, fluffing every so often. Every time, a small could of dust appeared around it. It beckoned the detective to the stage, his strides long, slow, and quiet. Watson crouched as well, slightly spreading his wings out as if ready for take off. His beak silently opened and closed.

Smoke exploded from the dove, revealing none other than Kaitou Kid once it cleared. Several doves circled him in its wake, vanishing into the rafters and catwalk above the stage. At his cue, Hakuba reached into his coat, fumbling with Watson, who flew away, for his gun. A high, amused laugh came from Kaitou. Still fishing, he glanced up at the thief with a scowl. Kaitou waited relatively patiently, amused no doubt from watching his apparent enemy. "Come here now," he said in Hakuba's voice and accent, and the hawk flew to him from his spot on a back row seat.

By the time Watson reached Kid, Hakuba had drawn his gun and had aimed it, hopefully loaded, at center stage. "You coward," he spat when he saw his pet in the gun's path.

The thief's question began with another high cackle, "Do you really want to shoot me? That wouldn't be any fun, now would it?" He didn't even seem to notice the red seeping from under the hawk's claws upon his arm.

Hakuba felt his ears heat and his teeth grit in anger. "Why don't we find out?" he shouted harshly enough to scratch his throat. Before Kaitou could have a chance to evade or drop Watson to the floor, the detective felled his aim and quickly fired three times.

The first bullet sent splinters and shards of black wood up from the stage, and the second pierced the whitewashed back wall. The third bullet sent Kid forward, landing with a loud slap as his hands hitting the floor broke his fall. Watson cried out and shot to the back of the massive room. Blood spat out from Kid's ankle; Hakuba couldn't even register which one. After a second of simply watching his cape fall to cover him, the detective rushed forward, dropping the gun as he did. Just two metres from stage, Kaitou pushed himself back up, shaking and mumbling, stopping Hakuba dead.

"This is it then," the detective seethed, unable to tell whether he was frightened or trembling with joyous excitement.

In response, Kaitou narrowed his eyes and his smirk only grew wider. His winces went unseen by Hakuba, who still needed to register that he had gotten Kaitou Kid. "No. No, this isn't the end. This is only intermission," he crackled, pushing himself from the floor.

Hakuba urged his body forward, but he couldn't move. No, damnit, Kid was the one who was supposed to be in shock. Where the deuce had he put his gun?

Kid rolled onto his side and stood on his good leg, misplaced hat in his mouth. The brim remained between his teeth until he was upright, in which case he replaced it on his head with a small tap. The hat shook, and he removed it. When a dove flew out, back on the hat went. Between each of his actions, a careful glance was sent to Hakuba.

The dove flew to Kid's shoulder and another to his hat. A few more joined them on other parts of his suit. Soon nearly a hundred surrounded him before settling. Hakuba couldn't even see his rival by the time the birds' movement had ceased.

The doves scattered, and Hakuba suddenly appeared to be the only soul in the theatre.

Kaitou Kid's voice echoed through the room, its source impossible to detect. The detective searched around frantically, first to the ceiling, then to the stage. The feathers there wouldn't help him in forensic analysis; they never had. The voice's deep resonance surprised Hakuba for his injury.

"The show must go on!"

When it died off oddly, Hakuba knew that one, Kid felt extreme pain and two, he remained in the building.

He finally found it in him to leap onto the stage, where he had just barely knelt to touch the blood. In his intoxicating awe, he had failed to notice how the blood ran sideways on the panel of wood on which Hakuba crouched. The dust, as well, broke as it reached that panel.

But all Hakuba saw was the blood. It slid easily between his ungloved fingers and smelled liked sweet, sweet metal. He had him now.

The panel disappeared from under him.

"Bloody hell!" cried the detective as he fell, landing very quickly on another dusty floor, the seat of his trousers wet instantly. Watson sang loudly, vaguely panicked above. Looking down, it became obvious Kid was still there by all the blood he had left behind, the blood Hakuba now sat in with a very sore rear.

A growl, almost inhuman. But it was of pain, of disappointment. Something human. "Damnit, I didn't think you'd get down here."

"How did I?"

"You must have accidentally hit the stage trigger, there was a button somewhere in a knot of a floor board."

"I've got you."

"No, no you haven't. You haven't gotten me."

"Is that so?"

"Yes, it is."

Then he wasn't there. Hakuba hadn't been able to see him before in the thick dark, and now he still couldn't. Now he couldn't feel the thief's presence. But that wasn't possible, not when he had a terrible habit of always making a grand exit, pink smoke and doves and confetti.

But he was just. Gone.

When Hakuba looked up, the blood that had been running down had vanished, as had the blood from his trousers and under him.

On his breast pocket, a note had been pinned:

"The show will go on."

Scherzando; playful

The girls mostly and several boys were crowded in awed silence around the detective as he finished his story. Then, applause from one in particular. "Bravo, Hakuba! Let me be the first to congratulate you on a job well—Oh wait, Kaitou Kid got away? What are you darn detectives good for anyway!" blared Kaito, throwing his hands up in the air. Hakuba glowered as the students turned to fawn over the magician, laugh at his jokes and stories. At least a few girls stayed to ask Hakuba about the particularly strange heist.

"So was he cute?"

"How old did he look?"

Not that he appeared to enjoy it much; Kaito snickered as he kept close watch on his unknowing pursuer and puddle-shallow entourage.

But he had enjoyed that night as much as Hakuba seemed to have; the one-on-one chase was exhilarating, and the detective had been especially on his toes.

All the fake blood had definitely helped in lowering Hakuba's guard and in turn raising his confidence to the point where Kaito could escape. True, the bullet had still gotten him, but only grazed his ankle. Kaito could still walk fine and maybe run if he needed to. He didn't need the police thinking Kaitou Kid was mortal. Fear of death made his job all the more beautifully chaotic. It made it easier to separate from his other life.

But the fact remained that he had made a grave error. The mistake could've cost him his foot. And letting Hakuba fall through the trap door after him? It was dumb luck he had found all the false blood backstage. How could he have let himself slip up like that?

What if it happened again; what would he do?

Diminuendo; gradually growing softer

Steam cascaded up his body, which seemed at the moment all too frail. Kaito had amazing strength for someone his size and age. Sometimes if his posture was impeccable and his chest bare, he looked like a young god. But if his wounds were fresh and red and his spine curved in pain, he was just a kid that needed to take care of himself more and maybe have a decent meal.

Of course food wasn't an issue. He ate like a horse. Or several, for that matter. Point was he couldn't get enough. Yet his stomach was still hard and mostly flat, he noticed as beads of water rolled down it. A jagged scar ran across it, a couple of fresh bruises, and lastly his bellybutton decorated the small torso.

The hot water flattened his hair to his head better than any gel or other product would, but the odd look was soon replaced with a mohawk-looking style, made possible with a large amount of shampoo. As he brought his arms down, his left fell abruptly to his side; it couldn't support itself in the least. Pain shot though from his shoulder when he attempted lifting it again, experimentally. It was forgotten in a minute or so, though. Along with the cuts on his face, bruises on his stomach and chest, and everything else. Even the bullet wound at his ankle.

A melody passed through his head briefly, and he began producing noise. What came out was a strange mixture of humming and singing that lacked any constant tune. Kaito could carry one if he wished (much to his delight around Kudou Shinichi), but at the moment he didn't want spend the energy to do so.

It was common practice of his mother and Aoko to tell him he was falling apart. Or, at least, now it was. They had never, in the entire year before, mentioned anything of the sort. His escapades as the Phantom Thief had rounded on their anniversary just a couple of months before. That was the last time he had heard the women fret over him so: when he was starting out. Was he losing his touch?

Or was it something greater than that?

Kaito sneezed.

After he quickly washed his face, he rinsed his hair back to a flat state and turned off the water. To his right, a large, Japanese-style tub awaited him. He hissed through his teeth when he sunk in, biting down hard on his lip each time a new wound entered the water. He tried to focus on the patterns of the water as it spilled over the side of the giant tub.

His eyebrows knit as he rocked back and forth slowly, fighting off each sting and ache until he could relax his body. His breaths were as deep as he could get them, but he found it difficult with all the steam around him and the water compressing his chest. He sucked in quickly through his teeth and exhaled through shaky wheezes.

His mind had come to a screeching halt, he realized once the pain boiled away. It scared him that his body could do that to him. But he was also glad he could deal with it on his own time and not when he was soaring hundreds of meters above the city. Thank god for shock, he thought, and he laughed bitterly.

Animato; animated

It was a dance, really. A breathtaking ballet. Yelling at the top of her lungs was the breathtaking part, unfortunately. "Get down! Cut it out!" she cried waving around her trusty mop.

Each desk wobbled as his foot struck it, but he was careful not to go back to them until they stilled. But Aoko saw this and quickly flipped her own skirt, effectively sending Kaito to the floor on a tipped desk. At least three desks and two chairs crashed down around him, probably more. "Bravo, Kuroba," commented Hakuba with a vague smile.

"Curse you both..." Kaito croaked from his decidedly comfortable spot on the floor. The class erupted in laughter; several students applauded him while a few of the girls congratulated Aoko. "But pink... So worth it." The answer was a mop handle poke to the chest.

Akako smirked as their teacher entered. Her arm shot out towards the woman, immediately immobilizing her. The teacher had halted completely, not even breathing or blinking, as if time had seized to exist around her.

Shooting off the floor, Kaito stared at her incredulously. "Akako-chan! What are you doing!?" None of the other students seemed to notice as they dispersed back to their own seats.

"Fix the desks while you still have time, Kaito-kun," the witch replied, struggling over her words as her stretched out arm began to shake. But his wide eyes had found Hakuba, who was looking between the teacher and Akako in horror. Akako finally turned to shout at Kaito, "Now, dammit!" Her hair fanned magnificently as she faced Hakuba. "Saguru!" The blonde immediately sat, eyes glued to the spectacle before him.

Kaito jumped and quickly reset the furniture, seating himself in one of the desks when he was done. Akako slowly followed and sat as well, dropping her arm and rubbing her temples. The teacher moved again now, taking her place at the front of the classroom.

"Why did you do that?" whispered Kaito, leaning over to Akako.

"You'll find out," she told him out of the side of her mouth.

He was at a loss for words for a moment before he leaned over again. "Thank you."

The teacher paused in her speaking to send Kaito a sharp look. "Kuroba-kun, another word and you're out of here."

He nodded impishly.

"No point in thanking me," Akako reported back to him.

He cocked his head at this, and Hakuba hissed from across the room, "Koizumi, how in the world!?"

Akako simply twirled her finger at him, and a moment later, one of the pencils sitting on his desk bit his finger.

"Bloody witch," he muttered only loudly enough for Kaito to hear, who broke out in a fit of giggles.

"Kuroba-kun! Hallway, now!" snapped their teacher, pointing sternly at the doorway.

By the time class ended, Kaito had fallen asleep, propped up against a locker. Why did the teacher even try?

Dolce; sweet

"You know what would make this weather even better?" Kaito gushed.

"Who said it was good?" Aoko bit.

"What isn't good in Kuroba's eyes?" Hakuba replied.

"Touché," she said.

"Snow, that's what!" cried Kaito, twirling. "We need a good snow!"

"And make it even colder, difficult for cars and buses to get around, not to mention creating hell for the Kaitou Kid task force."

"Yeah!" Aoko agreed, scowling at Kaito's ever-cheerful disposition. "My dad doesn't need any more trouble out there. The snow would make Kaitou Kid impossible to see!"

"Precisely my point, Miss Aoko," Hakuba agreed with a smile. "And as much as I hate to admit it, the officers are turtles in harsh weather conditions."

Kaito pouted. "Fine, go shoot down everything I say. See what I care. You guys are so pessimistic. Is all you care about catching Kaitou Kid?"

"No..." Aoko retorted shyly.

"Yes, actually. I have no soul, Kuroba. You two are the first people I've ever told. I sold it for my first magnifying glass when I was just a small boy in England." What? Was... Was Hakuba flirting back? Joking? Acting his age?

Kaito and Aoko stopped walking simply to laugh. "Who are you and what have you done with Hakuba?" managed the magician.

Still shaking in mirth, Aoko looked up at Hakuba. "We should walk home together everyday." The boys each nodded.

"I'd like that very much, Miss Aoko." Slinging an arm around the taller boy's shoulders, Kaito grinned. "Although you, on the other hand, might be a bit of a problem."

"Don't worry. I'll just keep wearing my muffler, so if you get sick of me," Kaito began, finishing by pulling the scarf to make himself appear hanged.

This time all three of them erupted with laughter. None of them questioned the sudden amity between the two boys, and Kaito didn't want to. He just couldn't wait until tomorrow and the day after.

Afferttuoso; with feeling, tenderly

With the small box in tow under his arm, Kaito stepped nimbly through the wall and shifted his father's painting back in place. He kicked a nearby chest closed before taking a seat on it, moving the box to his lap, where he began digging through it. First antiseptic, then cotton swaps, gauze and finally: surgical tape.

The young magician hissed through his teeth as he slowly re-bandaged each of his wounds, not remembering where most came from as he did. All he knew was they belonged to Kaitou Kid as proud battle scars. But right now, as Kuroba Kaito twitched and carefully covered each cut and scrape, he was just a beat up child. Well, except for his ankle.

The room around him smelled like his father. That was enough to get his mind off the pain of his bruises and aching back. The toys, the costumes, the cages, the props. They made Kaito feel homesick for just one more glimpse of his father, maybe to hear the man's voice. Anything. Maybe the secret room around him should have been enough, its dark haunting him every time he prepared for a heist.

"Leave me alone, Old Man," joked the boy, smiling grimly as he finished.

The sudden clattering of his monocle to the floor earned a yelp of surprise from Kaito. "Dammit, Shiro. Go and give me a heart attack, why don't you?" The small bird landed faithfully on his waiting hand while his other clutched at his chest. The pretty little dove only hopped up Kaito's bandaged arm and nuzzled his cheek in response. "You fiend," he told her, kissing her softly on the head. Well, at least she found his monocle; he picked it up slowly, as his shoulder was sore.

There was a crack in the eyepiece. Odd, considering how thick the glass and rim both were and the dropping angle needed for it to break. But it was only a thin, clean line along the top edge. He could fix it later.

After all, the show must go on.

Agitato; agitated, excited, fast

Nowhere else to run. No one to hide as. Nakamori had only brought five officers with him and although Kaitou might have doubted their ability to count to six, he didn't want to risk it. If he added himself to the group to escape, they stood a good chance of noticing.

So he jumped. Swan dove, really. Into a courtyard.

With his hang glider already popped, there was no chance in stopping, so he did what he'd seen his birds do a million times when they flew into things; he closed his eyes and stuck his legs out in front of him.

The sudden shift in weight caused his wing to become perpendicular to the ground, and so he began to fall as he bounced off the side of the building. The wind resistance flipped him backwards before hitting the same wall he had just ricocheted off, this time sending him through a window into empty office space.

The desks swirled around him. No, not yet. He needed to hold on and right now, he still could. He needed to give these men the times of their lives. The great Kaitou Kid could not stop shining now. Slowly but steadily, he stood. It would've been wonderful to let go right there, fly out of there somehow. It would've been wonderful, just wonderful.

A cubicle wall fell on him before he passed out.

Con Fuoco; with fire

He woke up to cold water and a less than gentle slap. Where the hell was he?

"Bloody git, knock up."

Sputtering, he looked up and rolled his eyes. Flatly, "Oh, it's you." If only they could be friendly as well. But then, what would they do for fun? Hakuba kept the thieving Kaitou on his toes and likewise. Besides, the amusement they provided for one another was too great a treasure to lose.

The detective cleared his throat as if to erase the terrible slang he had just used. "It's about time."

Kaitou snickered attempted to lift his arm to check if his hat and monocle were still in place, but it was tied to a chair with the rest of his useful appendages. Shaking his head slightly, he smiled when he felt both pieces of his costume were still intact and on his person.

He raised an eyebrow at his captor, who decided it might be a good idea to turn on some lights. Around Kaitou was a cellar. A large cellar with a supercomputer at the far end of the room. The thief whistled quietly in awe, getting a response from the hawk perched on another chair. And Kaitou shivered just a little because well, his face was damp.

"This thing is a bitch to dry clean, I hope you know."

"Send me the bill."

"Why didn't you take off my disguise while I was asleep?" Kaitou asked smugly, showing his annoyance in Hakuba's foolishness with a fake, toothy smile and nasal voice. He licked his lips.

Hakuba only smirked, earning a glare from Kaitou. "I wanted you to be here to enjoy it."

"Idiot," the thief said before releasing a smoke bomb and knife from his sleeve.

Except for the part where nothing happened. He tried his shoes, with knockout gas in the heel. They were gone, probably tossed into a corner somewhere. Hakuba chuckled as he watched his prey squirm.

"Am I now?" he purred, pacing in front of the wobbling chair. Kaitou wanted to hug the other boy but punch him at the same time. Damn smarmy bastard. "You're playing with fire, you know."

"We both are. Isn't it glorious?" He meant it, and even though Hakuba said nothing, Kaitou could tell he felt the same. Why else would they do what they did?

The thief stopped struggling; he still had one ace. But not yet. Humor the poor detective a little. A defeated look crossed his face as he hung his head. "Dammit," he whispered harshly, praying Hakuba would buy it. He suddenly felt too old for any of this but passed the feeling off as that of his father's ancient costume. Back up to Hakuba with gnashed teeth, "Why do this? Why keep me like this with no cops around? What if I do escape?"

"You're as helpless as a rat, first of all." The blonde produced a glass of red wine from a section of the room that was too dark to see from where Kaitou was tied. "As for the rest, why not?"

"You are quite fun to entertain by yourself. It's just too bad that no one else can see me make a fool out of you. Oh, and dear Inspector Nakamori's going to kill you when he finds out you kidnapped me for personal, not to mention illegal, interrogation."

Sip. "If."


The detective leaned in close to Kaitou, who held his breath before he knew what he was doing. Just as he opened his mouth to spit out another snide remark, Kaitou swung the pendant on his monocle into his mouth and bit down on it, his eyes shut tight. Light flooded the room, and the sensation in his mouth was similar to getting punched. Before Hakuba had a chance to reel back from the flash bomb, Kaitou considered giving him a quick peck, but instead surged forward and head butted his fellow classmate. The wine glass shattered magnificently upon striking the floor.

"Goodnight, everybody. Wow, you have a hard head."

By now, Kaitou might've stood and walked away, but Hakuba had been careful with the rope he used. Or lack thereof. Kaitou was practically coated in duct tape from the shoulders down. But he was still a little wet. Craning his neck, he tore at a soggy piece with his sore teeth, and got the ending half-meter or so free. He waddled in the chair to a shelf of food and stuck as much as he could of the tape to it with his shoulder. And began turning around and pulling away, unraveling himself.

The hawk, feet clutching the chair under, flapped several times and hopped down to his owner. "Sorry about that, Watson. Be sure to give him a nice big kiss when he wakes up, hm?"

Five minutes and a monumental headache later, Kaitou Kid was free to escape. He left a rose with Hakuba for effort and a small note commending him for such a good challenge.

Watson had already eaten many of the petals of the flower before Kaitou left, earning a short giggle from the thief. In return for the loss of his rose Kaitou knelt carefully, avoiding the sharp bird, and quickly planted a kiss on Hakuba's parted lips.

Whispering as softly as a ghost; "Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me," he recited with a smirk, and quickly added a P.S. to the note, thanking Hakuba for the wonderful kiss as well. It was truly a shame he couldn't stick around to see the other boy's reaction.

But he had had enough excitement for the night, being caught and nearly having his secret exposed. How the hell had the detective even gotten the thief all for himself without the damn cops around?

Con Brio; with spirit

As Kaitou flew, he thought carefully. None of this had happened before. He had never crashed and passed out like that, and no one had ever gotten that close to catching him. His monocle had never broken aside from the one time a bullet was aimed at his right eye. And Akako had certainly never had a good reason for helping him like she did that morning. Hakuba's sudden kindness towards him also seemed out of place. Was it because he let himself get shot in the ankle? What the hell was wrong?

And Hakuba especially scared him, but the entire experience thrilled him to no end at the same time. His heart was buzzing away like mad the whole time, and it took more than a little self-control to tell the detective just that. But what was Kaitou thinking? Of course the fool had no effect on him; he was only more intrigued with Hakuba as his rival.

He loved not having to make sense.

The young Brit was like a cat that Kaitou could tease as a little white bird; deadly and oh so funny to watch. Of course, even the fiercest tigers are tempting to cuddle with. Hakuba was no exception. And lastly, he could still surprise Kaitou. This impressed the thief the most, especially since Nakamori's men had been running out of ideas lately.

If Kaitou were to die prematurely, he decided, he'd be happiest at gunpoint of Hakuba Saguru. No one else really deserved to be the end to the great Kaitou Kid. And naturally, no one else would have deserved to capture him the way the talented detective had that night. Kaitou loved the challenge.

Not tumbling into the room was difficult as he climbed in through the window. Several pieces of his costume were immediately stripped until he was just wearing a ragged blue dress shirt and white slacks. Despite the cold, he was broiling and only wanted to sleep; his head still felt sprained somehow. His top hat hit his wall with a loud crack once he tossed it aside. Well, that certainly wasn't right. It was quite silly of Hakuba to not remove his disguise now that Kaito thought about it; he could've retrieved the stolen good that had just made a lovely dent in the magician's bedroom wall.

He rolled off his bed and sauntered over to the fallen hat, scooping it off the floor. Inside was the sickeningly huge necklace with his sickeningly huge prize mounted on it. "Oh," he said, holding it to his face for inspection and dropping the hat again.

Slowly, he shuffled back to his window and peered at the pink jewel. The moon drenched the boy in red as soon as it hit the gem, and just as it beaded elixir and was about to drip, Kaito spoke quietly, "So I guess that was my last call for sin." Not a spectacular finish, but an end to his search nonetheless.

He barely had a chance to lower the necklace, uncovering the tiny red dot of a laser once his shirt was blue again. A wicked smile came to Kaito's face as a bang knocked him back. The Pandora's Gem hit the carpet with a sound thud.

If Akako hadn't stopped the teacher, Kaito would have gotten in trouble again. If he had, he and his mother would have had to meet with the teacher, causing Kaito to miss the heist. Akako knew that, and Kaito knew she wasn't one to mess with timing. Especially his. "Damn you," he gurgled to her, wherever the hell she was.

Wet gathered around his form, under his back mostly. Several of his birds descended on him, cooing tenderly and nuzzling his face. They were the last sounds he heard before someone's pawing at the window. White feathers were all around Kaito as his birds grew more and more frantic, appearing from their hiding spots all around his room.

They scattered when footsteps finally sounded next to Kaito's head followed by an echoing click.

"Give my regards to your father."

Tacet; absent, instrument not needed this movement

One more heist, one more heist and he could tell them. Okay, so maybe it wasn't that easy. Kaito glanced over to Aoko again, Hakuba's razor eyes catching him on the rebound. So he stuck his tongue out, plain and simple. Aoko glared at him.

Okay, maybe after two more heists?

The boy's head hit his desk as the teacher went on, highlighting words loudly in a sad attempt to snap Kaito from his reverie. Usually a student's head would pop off his or her desk at the teacher's tried and true method, but Kaito was simply too...

Well, Kaito.

He only yawned in response and was promptly sent to sit in the hallway for the remainder of the hour. The teacher continued speaking even as she sent Kaito a concerned look and slid shut the door.

Finally alone. Well, maybe that wasn't so bad. After shifting positions there on the floor endlessly, he stood and sighed. And walked home. His backpack, his scarf, his shoes. He left them all at school and just walked home in school slippers. It was really too bad Aoko and Hakuba couldn't join him this time. Maybe tomorrow.

There was still no snow on the ground yet, but the cold bit just the same. And kept biting. The wind refused to show any mercy.

And Kaito kept walking home, never stopping, never getting there, and never waking.