Disclaimer- Gosho owns 'em, I do not. This short is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for language and adult themes. This is a sort of companion/sequel to "Reasons," and is kind of experimental in style...

One Day at a Time

The front door of the Kudo house swings quietly shut behind you as you slip out into the gathering twilight. Your face is as calm as ever, but your hands are shaking minutely, fear and anger in your veins mixing in a cocktail that puts methamphetamines to shame. The worst of it is, you're not sure who you're angry at: Them, for being the cause of all this; Kudo, for doing something so incredibly stupid and dangerous; or yourself, for not having realized something like this was coming. If you hadn't picked up the habit of checking on him, if you hadn't planned to set him a little "surprise" after the day from Hell he'd just had... No. Don't think about it. Not now, not in public. You're just another kid waiting for the bus, after all.

You should have known, of course. It wasn't like you hadn't thought about it yourself, sometimes. All you'd have to do would be wait a little too long, open the glider a little too late... or not open it at all. It would probably be too fast for pain, and it would all be over. But like clockwork, those images always lead to the things you know would follow; Aoko crying, Nakamori-keibu yelling, and Hakuba not doing anything at all, only staring in white-faced shock. And then They'd know that Kid wasn't your father, hadn't been all along, and they'd start tying up loose ends. Because things never stopped with one person seeking vengeance.

If I don't get to, Kudo, you don't either. But that's mean-spirited, and not really the truth, or at least, not the right way of looking at it. You and Kudo are in this together, connected despite it all. Because Hakuba is your friend, in that weird, twisted way the two of you have... but Kudo's something different, something more. He's your counterweight, your reflection, your twin through the looking glass-- although jury's still out on which one of you is the evil one. But where you've always soared in a sky of secrets and shadows, he's been adrift on truth, in an ocean of light. And now that he's been thrown into your world, like a fish out of water, he's suffocating. Drowning in lies.

You won't let that happen, of course; you need each other. Kudo gets you in ways Hakuba doesn't, in ways Kudo himself doesn't even realize. You've both lost so much to them; too much to say which one of you is luckier. Unlike Kudo, you still have your face, your name, your life; you don't have to answer to an alias, you don't have to stand on a stepstool to brush your teeth, and you will never have to learn the times tables again. But Kudo, if he holds it together, has a chance to get it all back. When this is over, he'll go back to Ran, to his parents, to his mysteries. What They've taken from you... you'll never get that back.

Oyaji. It's been nine years now, but you still remember the day your mother called you in from the park, crying. The day she told you that your father had been in an accident... and that he was never coming home. Eight years old was old enough to understand "dead," to understand "never," and you can still remember feeling that pit open up under your feet, opening up inside you. You started falling then, and on some level, you never stopped.

They wouldn't let you see him, no matter how you tried; now you know, of course, that there wasn't much left to see, and what there was... they did you a favor. But back then, you couldn't see him, and on some level, it was never quite real for you. You'd wake up in the mornings and think that it must have been a dream, and that he'd be waiting downstairs at the breakfast table, waiting to ruffle your hair and show you a new trick... but he never was. And as the years went by, you had that dream, that fantasy less and less. Occasionally, you told yourself that maybe he'd just been injured, maybe he was lost, or hiding, and that someday soon he'd come up the front walk, with a wide smile and a fascinating story to tell. But that dream died over the years too.

Instead you trained, trick after trick, trying to be the greatest magician in the world, after him of course. You practiced, you learned, and you kept Poker Face, because that kept him alive inside you, and it didn't matter that you were beginning to forget what his voice sounded like, what his arms felt like around you. He was still there when you practiced, and that was enough.

Until the day you fell through the portrait, heard the tape waiting, and had your world turned upside down again. And when Kaitou Kid sent his first heist notice in eight years, you wondered. It was that old dream back again, that he'd only been away, that he'd found his way back to you at last... but you were old enough now to be wary. Because you knew those dreams didn't come true.

So you dressed yourself in his clothes, for disguise and for courage, because if it was him, what would you say? Would he be proud of you? Would he have a good excuse for being gone so long? If he did, would you be able to forgive him?

But it wasn't him you found there, it was someone else, someone who'd loved him as much as you did, and knew things about him that you'd never known. Jii gave you memories, stories, views of a side of your father you'd never known existed, and you were enthralled. And he gave you something else, too.

He gave you someone to blame.

It wasn't an accident, a moment of carelessness, the chance fall of Destiny's dice. Facing Snake that night, and later, listening to a little rat of a man tell the story of Pandora, you finally had a target for the anger that had been resting inside for eight years.

And you made two promises that night, standing there in the moonlight with the sapphire in your hand. First, you swore to find Pandora, to find the thing they'd killed for and shatter it into a thousand pieces. You'd take that thing they wanted more than anything, and you'd take it away forever. You'd open up that pit inside them, and they'd spend the rest of their lives falling, just the way you do.

And you swore that there'd be no more death in this thing's name. No more blood shed, no more tears wept. In the words of that one sci-fi show Hakuba likes, "Everybody lives. Just this once, everybody lives." You're the Kaitou Kid, after all, the Moonlight Magician. You do the impossible as a matter of course. And you'll keep juggling these balls as long as you have to.

Kudo's the most important ball, though of course you'll never let any of them drop. But he's the key, the heart of it in some way you don't yet fully understand. If he falls, you fall; and vice versa. So you'll have to figure out a game to set him, something to keep him from drowning in the darkness that he can't swim through. And maybe you'll bring in Hattori, another juggling ball added to the pattern.

You can remember once, right after Oyaji died, one of your mother's friends asking how she managed, saying that she couldn't imagine going on without her husband. You didn't understand that then, and you can't understand it now. You go on because going on is what you do, putting one foot in front of the other. One ball leads to the next. You take life one day at a time, and eventually you find you've come out the other side, bleeding and scarred, but alive. It's the same thing now.

One of these gems will be Pandora, on the next heist, or the one after that, or the one after that. The Syndicate will fall down in shambles, and they'll all spend long, long lives in tiny little cages of concrete and steel. Kudo will get his body back, he'll get his life back, and the Kaitou Kid will slip into the mists of history. And Oyaji will finally be able to rest in peace.

You just have to take it one day at a time.

There are no happy endings, because nothing ever ends.-- Schmendrick, the Last Unicorn.

Owari