A/N: Ho ho ho. Merry Christmas.

Part 2

The low buzz of the electronic equipment hummed in Saguru's ears, as did the low constant of radio chatter. The time for preparations had long since passed, leaving them as ready as they could ever be for Kid's arrival. He often felt more as if he were a host who ran about like a chicken that had lost its head while they set up for their esteemed guest's arrival, than a detective trying to stop a tricky criminal. The very thought made him snort indignantly. That would be just like the blasted thief: to have them so wrapped around his gloved finger that they were jumping at his every command.

Saguru let his lidded gaze drift slowly over the monitors before him. The electric lights above were almost bright enough to make his head ache if the faint pressure behind his eyes was anything to go by. He tried to remember if he'd brought any migraine medication with him.

He turned his head slightly, and scanned the surveillance room with the with his usual slow deliberateness. No one was out of place: Every head was bent over their station, intent on their work, and, though there were occasional words exchanged, it was mostly silent and expectant. The scattering of coffee cups and cans among the thick, impromptu tangle of wires didn't seem to bother anyone. Takeshi, listening to the back and forth over the radio, was absently clicking together a set of plain wooden chopsticks that he'd used earlier to devour his dinner.

They had been here for hours already. It seemed like the longer Kid was in action, the harder they had to work to set up for him. A particularly violent crackle of static sounded, washing out the monotone of all clear reports before Nakamori's gruff tones sounded dourly through, "Five minutes to arrival. You had all better be in position or so help me–"

Saguru's lips twitched in a barely controlled smile. No matter how long he was on the case, Nakamori-keibu never lost his vigor when it came to his pursuit of Kid. Saguru didn't want to admit that, sometimes, it gave him an unpleasant feeling to imagine Kid being caught. He still didn't know when he'd crossed that line, when he'd let himself become attached to Kuroba Kaito, all he knew was that there was no backing out of it now.

He'd crossed the line, and gone far beyond it. It was a bit of of relief, as much as it was an annoyance, to know he wasn't alone in that. It made him feel less like he was betraying everyone, in a way.

The thought made him glance over and down toward the monitor in lower right corner of the set up. In the slightly grainy color feed he could see Kudou standing there, near a cream colored wall, his hands tucked into his pockets. Kudou lifted his hand to check his watch, then turned and walked off the bottom of the screen. If Saguru remembered correctly he would be arriving in this room in a few seconds.

As if perfectly timed the door behind him clicked open. Irrationally, Saguru wondered if Kudou had done that on purpose. Sometimes, the similarities between Kudou and Kuroba unnerved him a great deal. Still, Kudou was nothing like he'd been expecting when they'd first met. He could admit he had been expecting some sort of smug arrogance, much like he, himself, had been before Kuroba had drilled humility into him via pranks and failure.

The quiet, lost young man he had ended up befriending was none of that. In fact, he would go so far as to say Kudou was insecure.

"Good evening, Kudou-kun," he heard one of the men behind him say. Though most of the task force tended to treat the other detective as an outsider, something that both vindicated and aggravated Saguru, a few of them were friendly with him. After all it had taken him years to get where he was with them, but, at the same time, some part of him had, since he had begun to work with Kudou, thought the treatment a little onerous for some reason.

Once Kudou finished murmuring his own greetings, Saguru could hear the faint squeak of one of the stools that littered the room. Finally, he turned around to get a look at the other man. Kudou was just settling onto the stool, one hand gripped the edge of the seat between his spread knees, while the other rested over his thigh. The dark color of the wrist brace he still wore meshed easily with the thin material of the long sleeved shirt he had on. Kudou lifted his head then, his heels hooked on the low bar that ran all the way around the stool's legs close to the floor, and caught him staring. The other detective merely looked back at Saguru with that usual, quietly serious look that never seemed to leave his face. There was a sparkle of consideration, and humor, in his gaze that Saguru had never seen before.

Irrationally, the fact made a surge of embarrassment slither up from somewhere. He choked it back down, and turned away again. When he thought he heard a low chuckle, Saguru's shoulders stiffened. It took everything in him not to turn around, and check to see if Kudou was Kid in disguise even though he already knew that was not Kuroba. Saguru spent too much time with him that he wasn't fooled by Kuroba when he tried to disguise himself as Kudou anymore. All the same, the sight of Kudou right then, far more alert than he'd seen him in weeks, had made something in him settle that he hadn't even realized had been agitated.

"Hakuba-san? On external camera fifteen... You ought to have a look at this."

Stepping up behind the man who'd been speaking, Saguru leaned forward slightly, and stared at the screen. There, plain as day, was their white clad nuisance. Kid was dangling outside one of the buildings windows, his white loafers were braced against the wall to either side of the window to keep himself steady, and the long folds of his cape swaying with his every movement. It almost looked as if he were floating, suspended only by his feet, magically stuck to the wall. Saguru wasn't fooled though, he knew it was merely the video feed that did that. There was, no doubt, one of those deceptively thin and strong wire filament threads holding him there.

Within moments the thief had the window open. Kid bent his knees, bounced off the wall once or twice in very small increments before giving a final shove that sent him out away from the building. The thief brought his legs together as he swung back toward the window. He slipped easily through the opening, not even knocking his damnable top hat askew. A moment later Kid leaned back out, and gave a tug on his monofilament drop cord, which he then wound into his hands.

"What camera is in the room he entered?"

"Internal camera twelve. This one here."

Saguru turned his attention toward the screen displaying the feed from camera twelve where he watched the thief twist back into the room. Kid gripped his lapel, and pulled his suit jacket out enough to tuck the coiled length of monofilament into one of his pockets. The thief's head turned slowly to take in the room in all its taupe colored glory. It wasn't much, just an office, and from the camera's view Saguru could make out a neat desk, the ink blotter meticulously centered, and a thin stack of forms on it, upside down. The in and out trays on one corner were just as neat, and the slim computer monitor on the other corner was simple and black. It was all very uniform and proper: The picture of an industrious corporate worker, though it said nothing else about the person.

The view was cut off suddenly as the entire camera's screen was filled with Kid's hat, then his shadowed face. His wide taunting grin was perfectly in place. Saguru had to muffle the knee jerk reaction to that mocking look: a strange mixture of annoyance and anticipation.

Kid stepped back until they could see most of him again. Behind Saguru, Takeshi was busy sending squads toward the room Kid was in. The static of radio chatter was getting louder now that the heist was in motion. On screen, Kid slid a thumb beneath the knot of his tie, then gripped the tie itself in his other hand. He gave it a few tugs and adjustments until it was settled to whatever standard the thief had set, looked directly at the camera again, and tipped his hat at them. As the thief whirled away, smoke billowed up to obscure the camera's view of the room.

Cheeky bastard.

Saguru turned on his heel, intent on marching out of the room to go and look for Kid. As he passed Kudou he noticed that the dark haired man hadn't so much as moved, in fact he was still fixated on the surveillance screens. Saguru glanced back, wondering if he had missed something, but found them much the same: Just the slowly dissipating cloud of smoke on camera twelve.

Kudou blinked, then, and the formerly unnerving quality of his gaze that always reminded Saguru of a sort of madness that was, somehow, scarier than Kaitou Kid's brand, softened into amusement. "No big entrances today, Kaitou Kid-san?" Kudou murmured. He leaned back, and half turned, to snatch the radio from Takeshi's grip. Pressing down on the button, Kudou spoke into it, "Squads F and H to the roof on the east side, Squads D and G, report to the grounds on the east side. Squad B and I, sweep the west corridors of the building for anything suspicious." Squads A, C, and E, of course, were already in lucrative positions.

And, while they might treat Kudou as something of an outsider, when it counted the most they listened to him. A chorus of affirmatives greeted his instructions, followed by a slew of Nakamori's snarls as he insisted that he was the one giving the orders here. Kudou wasn't listening though, he'd merely tossed the handset back to Takeshi, who fumbled, and nearly dropped it.

As always Kudou's sudden change from a quiet background figure, to a man perfectly in control seemed to unnerve and throw everyone off. Saguru had learned to take it in stride. He figured his time spent with Kuroba probably helped.


The dark haired man craned around to face him, an enigmatic half smiled on his face. "You know just as well as I do that he's taunting and distracting us... But, from what, I wonder?"

Saguru nodded sharply in agreement. "I'll be going then."

He turned on his heel, and stalked to the door. As it closed behind him he heard Takeshi asking, "Not going to join the chase, Kudou-kun?" Saguru paused, the door held slightly open. This...wasn't normal.

"No, it's probably best I keep out of the way for the most part tonight. I doubt I'd be much help with my arm and shoulder like this." He found himself torn between wondering what sort of plan Kudou had cooked up, and storming back in there to ask what was wrong with him. This was so completely different from Kudou's usual behavior that it had Saguru completely off kilter. "If something comes up, and I have to take care of it, I'll go, but for now... I think I'll be the most use here."

Saguru pulled his pocket watch out, and flipped open the lid. His eyes took in the roman numerals on the face at a glance, then studied the smaller faces that calculated precise time. The watch closed again with a snap as he set off down the hall. While he walked, Saguru reached down and fiddled with the dials on the radio that hung from his belt until he could hear the quiet sounds of reports being shot back and forth.

If he hurried he could make it to the room Kid had entered by, and hopefully figure out what he was up to before it was too late.

"We found where the wire was connected, and have removed and disabled all traps around it."

"Good," Kudou's voice responded. "Check the rest of the roof for any other set ups, then stand guard up there. He's not leaving that way tonight."

"If we see any white top hats, we'll take them out," came the joking response, backed by some good humored laughter.

Saguru could well imagine the look on Kudou's face. He had a quiet way of showing amusement that appeared in the faint crinkling at the corners of his eyes, and the slight upturn of his lips in a barely there smile. From there his mind easily tracked to Kuroba's much more apparent types of cheerfulness: A wide grin, and mischievous eyes. After that it was easy enough to add the top hat and monocle, then sharpen the grin into a smirk.

He snorted, brushed away the images of the frustrating duo, and turned into the hall just as an explosion of sound and chatter began, "Whoa! There's–" the radio fizzled off in a crackle of static. Saguru sighed heavily as popping and hissing sounds transmitted through, then silence.

Several seconds passed, then Kudou's voice asked, "Squad B, respond." The radio crackled for several seconds, nothing but white noise. "Squad B, please respond."

Then, just as Saguru was sure Kudou was going to issue an order to have them checked on, the radio gave a final pop and the leader of Squad B's voice sounded, "Ugh. We're covered in some sort of slime. I can barely keep hold of the radio."

"Slime?" Kudou's bemused voice queried. Saguru could hear a hint of laughter in his tone. A second after that Nakamori cut across with, "What the hell happened?!"

"Erk. Sorry, sir. The newbie set off a knock out gas trap, and got a face full. When he went down he triggered–"

Saguru tuned the rest of the sentence out as he reached the floor Kid had entered on. He wasn't even a bit out of breath from the jog up the stairs, either. Personally, he put it down to being too used to it to let himself get even slightly out of shape. He slowed his pace as he approached the pair of task force members guarding entry the near end of the hall, two more were at the far end, and, even as he approached, two other squad members stepped out of the room Kid had entered through.

"Hakuba-san," one of the nearer task force members greeted. "We checked the entire floor, and never saw Kid coming down the stairs."

Except, Saguru didn't believe that, for a moment, Kid wasn't still here somewhere. "I'm going to inspect the room. Don't leave until I come out, then we can proceed back to the jewel room and report to Nakamori-keibu together."

Without waiting for an answer, but knowing they'd wait, if only to make him face the irritable Keibu for them, Saguru headed to the room and stepped in. He walked straight across to the window to examine Kid's point of entry.

"Hakuba-kun," Kudou's voice spoke from the radio at his waist. "After the smoke cleared we didn't see anything out of the ordinary."

Which could mean any number of things, depending on what Kudou really meant with that sentence. If they were working a case together, where Kudou didn't want their plotting to be overheard, and he meant that only in the literal way, as in they hadn't seen anything, and that was making him suspicious. Or, he'd seen something but couldn't say, and Saguru needed to read between the lines.

But, this was a Kid heist where they were more rival than partner. They'd both done things to throw each other off the trail, and, instead, chosen to tangle with the thief on their own. While he hesitated in making a decision, Saguru stood up and prowled around the desk, glanced beneath it, then moved back toward the door. Nothing seemed out of place... He looked up, checking over the ceiling, but saw nothing there either.

"You should return to the jewel room," Kudou said, "and report to Nakamori-keibu."

Saguru paused again, knowing he was out of sight of the camera. That... Kudou had phrased that oddly. He wasn't one to bother with the Keibu, simply because Nakamori had little or no respect for him. Kudou, of course, returned the treatment in kind, and tended to lone wolf things. Not to mention his habit with taking over the heists. Sometimes Saguru wondered if Kudou had dissociative identity disorder or something. Kudou was almost as much of a mystery as Kuroba was, and maybe that's why he had approached him when he met him face to face that first time.

Saguru pulled his radio from his belt, and pressed the button down to reply, "I'm on my way there now, Kudou-kun."

Radio still in hand, Saguru stepped back out into the hall and motioned the task force squad to follow him. As they trooped back down the stairs, Saguru remained silent though the members of the squad were exchanging a few, rather crud, jokes in low tones.

He didn't understand what was going on. This wasn't like Kudou at all, and Saguru was finding that this abrupt change had him completely off kilter. Kudou was supposed to be here, beside him, looking at the scene just as he was. The fact that he was, instead, sitting on the sidelines was more distraction than Saguru really needed right now. For once, his mind wasn't totally on Kid, and how he could come the closest to capturing the thief, how he could get Kid's attention on him this time. Instead he was worrying about Kudou, and it wasn't at all in a rivalry sort of way. More, Saguru wanted to seek Kudou out and make sure that he.. What?

That he hadn't given up? Because wasn't that what he wanted?

That didn't ring at all true. Somehow, the idea of Kudou backing off... He didn't want to say scared it him, but it made something in the vicinity of his chest twinge. Kudou was already enough like a kicked and abandoned puppy that he and Kuroba and picked up on the side of the road as it was.

Saguru sighed, and passed his hand over his face even as he absently clipped the radio back onto his belt. At this rate Kid was already going to win tonight's game. He seemed to have completely slipped the radar this time. Saguru seethed faintly at the idea of being outsmarted by the thief: He might not always come out on top of the heists, but usually he could see through all of his tricks. This time he was just feeling confused on all fronts.

Saguru paused outside the jewel room, and let the tension leave him. The placid cool he usually kept flooded back in, then he stepped through the double doors into the jewel room. Immediately he had to blink, and, even after that, he kept his eyes lidded to protect them from the onslaught of light. The room was brilliantly lit with bright white light that reflected off the multifaceted surfaces of the jewels littering it. All of them were set in gold and silver costume jewelry. Apparently Hamamoto-san's wife was very fond of hosting costly theme parties.

Nakamori stood across the room in front of a particular wall of necklaces and collars, his focus entirely on tonight's target as if that would stop Kid from making a move on it. Saguru bit back a sigh. He really didn't want to deal with this right now. Nakamori, for all his skills in chasing Kid, could be immensely frustrating to work with, stubborn man that he was.

Beside Nakamori stood Hamamoto-san himself: He was a small, round man with a rather weak disposition. It hadn't even taken Nakamori an hour to bully the man into keeping things quiet. Luckily for them, Hamamoto-san's wife, a real shrew of a woman, was away in Australia attending some function or another, and didn't even know her home was to be visited by the illustrious thief.

Saguru stopped on Nakamori's other side, with two of the task force member's hovering a short distance behind him, and cast a glance at tonight's target. It was a large usekh collar made of gold, pearl, and jade beads with four egg sized mystic fire topazes inlaid across the outer edge. They had been shaped to look like scarabs.

It was a reminder of how Kid's pattern had changed again a few years ago. Kid no longer focused heavily on jewels, but, like when he'd first made his reappearance, tended to go after a majority of things. Mostly, it just seemed to be whatever caught his fancy, or presented the greatest challenge at the time. Whatever Kid's goal had been before, Saguru was pretty sure the thief was just doing this for fun now. He still never kept anything he took, though.


A grunt was the only reply he got.

"We were unable to find any trace of where Kid has gone, I'm afraid."

Hamamoto-san mopped at his bald pate with his handkerchief, and shifted nervously. "Then how are you going to keep this... this criminal from stealing my wife's necklace?" he asked in his reedy voice.

Saguru grit his teeth and fought back the urge to lambaste the man for all he was worth. He said the word criminal as if Kid were simply a common criminal, and he wasn't. Even when Saguru put aside his personal feelings on the matter, Kaitou Kid could not be classified as a something so mundane as common. This fool would like to believe Kid was nothing more than your average sneak thief, or burglar, for the sake of his own nerves. In a way, Saguru pitied him.

Nakamori turned toward the man, and, of course, that was when it happened. With a sudden hiss billows of white smoke filled the air, obscuring Saguru's vision. Nakamori, nearby, was nothing more than an obscure shadow. Something brushed against his other side, and Saguru immediately turned toward it, reached out, and felt fabric slide through his fingers. It was easy to identify it as the semi-heavy material of Kid's cape after all the other times he'd been so close. He swallowed a slew of curse words, and ground his teeth together.

He listened, hard, and it wasn't long before he heard the faint sound of metal striking metal. Immediately, Saguru lunged blindly in that direction, and prayed he didn't run into anyone. He nearly did, but was fast enough to swerve around them, though could hear them cursing behind him. It sounded like Nakamori, actually. He broke out of the smoke cloud's circumference to see Kid on the other side of the jewel room. The thief was holding the usekh collar up to the harsh lights to watch the light sparkle off the multi-hued scarabs.


The thief turned at the sound of his voice, and the small, pleased, smile on his face immediately widened into a flagrantly mocking grin. "Tantei-san," he crooned. "Thank you for the escort, it is very appreciated!" Almost as fast as Kid had grinned, the grin transformed into a pouting frown. "Do tell Meitantei-san, something for me, would you? Tell him that if he's too injured to play, perhaps he should just stay home instead, hmm? After all, it's not fair if he's just going to sit on the sidelines!"

"I would not worry about him too much," Saguru retorted, letting a hint of challenge slide into his voice. "I can corner you just fine on my own, after all."

Kid laughed, his grin turning positively feral. "Catch me if you can, Tantei-san!"

Then he shook something out of his sleeve, and pressed a button on it even as he turned to take off down the nearby hall. The lights went out in the next second, plunging them into darkness, which might not have been a problem if things hadn't been so bright before. Saguru's eyes couldn't adjust to the darkness fast enough.

Saguru darted after the thief, one hand held out in front of himself just in case– He could remember the room to a point, and just hoped he would run into anything. –while he fumbled his radio into his other hand. "Kudou-kun, he's making his way toward the west exit!"

"Sorry, Hakuba-kun, but Kudou-kun left right after Kid got the necklace."


What the hell was Kudou even playing at? "What about Squad B?"

"Stuck better than we would be with glue," someone reported miserably. "This slime stuff hardened up a bit. It won't let go."

"And Squad I?"

"Sorry, we were helping Squad B and got stuck too."

God damn him. Saguru swore he was going to make Kuroba's life a living hell the next few days, if only out of sheer irritation. Kudou's too, at this rate. It was one thing to have a bit of a rivalry, it was one thing to sit the heist out, but it was another altogether to suddenly up and disappear. They got enough of that from Kid, thank you very much.

Then the lights flickered back on with a low hum, just in time for him to spot the taupe colored wall he was about to run into. Saguru skidded to a halt, and turned toward the nearby industrial steel doors. He shoved them open, and stepped out into the sounds of the city. Streetlamps glowed nearby, showing nothing but an empty back street littered with the dark facade of other buildings on the far side of the road. Saguru glanced up and down the road, wondered if he ought to just give up and call it a loss, then he spotted a dark clothed figure walking placidly down the sidewalk on the far side.

They didn't seem like they were up to no good, could have been any passer by, but...He'd bet money that it was Kid. He darted for him, smirk sharp and triumphant. "Must really gal you not to have a crowd to disappear into, doesn't it Kaitou Kid?" he asked, reaching out for the thief's shoulder. Kid ducked down, and leaned back to shoulder him in the chest. The blow was hard enough to knock his breath from his lungs, and to send him stumbling back. Saguru fell to the pavement with a snarl. The radio he still held dropped from his hand to hit the cement with a sharp retort. He ignored it.

Kid darted down the street, shot a grin over his shoulder, then disappeared down a narrow alleyway between two of the smaller buildings. Saguru shoved himself to his feet, and gave chase without hesitation.

The narrow alleyway was dark, almost pitch black, and lit mostly by ambient city glow, but that was fine. His eyes had adjusted to the lack of light by now. Ahead of him he could just see Kid's dark figure flitting through the shadows. Saguru lengthened his strides. Kid slid around the corner of a building, and into the narrow space between it and its neighbor. When he came to the turn Saguru pulled up short, breathing heavily from the sprint. Kid had vanished, or so it seemed.

"My, my, aren't we persistent tonight, Tantei-san?"

The voice had come from above him. Saguru looked up to find the thief perched primly on the railing of the fire escape attached to the side of the left building. His hands rested either side of his hips, white gloves still on to prevent fingerprints from being left, but he was, otherwise, still dressed in a dark jacket, simple jeans, and a black baseball cap that was pulled low over his eyes. His legs dangled as if the drop were negligible. To him, it probably was.

That damnable grin was still there in all its glory.

"You expect me to be anything less?" Saguru retorted, his own smirk sliding into place. "Are you ready to answer my question, Kaitou Kid?"

Kid released the railing with one hand, and brought his hand up to rest at his chin in a mockingly thoughtful pose. "No, I don't think I will. That's for–"

"Us detectives to figure out." The words cut Kid off, and Saguru found himself looking up even farther. Even Kid twisted around in surprise to look upward. Kudou looked down at them, perfectly placid, as he leaned his crossed arms on the railing at the very top of the fire escape. His focus, at the moment, seemed to be on Saguru. He leaned out a little further, and glanced at Kid. "Isn't that right, Kaitou Kid-san?"

When Kid released the railing fully to clap, he didn't lose even a modicum of balance. "Very good, Meitantei-san. But, now I do believe this game is at its end. Catch!" Kid pulled the usekh collar, carefully contained in a plastic bag, from the inside of his jacket, and tossed it upward toward Kudou. Kudou leaned out, and reached for it, as Kid hopped to his feet, then jumped across the distance above Saguru's head.

Saguru had a moment of breathlessness, despite knowing Kid knew what he was doing, before the thief caught nimbly on the tiny ledge of a window. The thief climbed upward, like some sort of monkey, and easily used tiny ledges no sane man would even bother to attempt to use, then disappeared around the edge of the building. The next time Saguru saw him, he was back in his white uniform. Kid tipped his hat cheekily across the gap at Kudou, and waved down at him.

Then he was jumping off the slightly taller building, and gliding across the street to a shorter one. It didn't take him long to disappear. Saguru was sure they could have followed him, but he would have lost them within a few blocks. They'd tried before.

The game always ended when Kid decided that he was done playing.

Slowly, Saguru looked back up at Shinichi. He was holding the usekh collar in one hand, letting it dangle over the drop, while he looked after Kid. Then he gave a philosophical shrug, and turned his gaze back down at Saguru. "I'll be down in a moment."

Saguru gave a sharp nod, and stood waiting as Kudou made his way down the fire escape. "How did you get up there, anyway?"

"The same way Kid did, I expect," Kudou retorted in amusement. When he reached the ladder at the very last level, he tossed the usekh collar down to Saguru, then climbed down carefully. He was favoring his wrist more than he had been earlier, so the activity must have put a bit of strain on it. "I climbed up."

Kudou wobbled a bit when he dropped down from the ladder. Saguru reached out automatically to steady him, hand wrapping securely around Kudou's bicep. He found himself frozen to the spot, speared by Kudou's sharp gaze, which seemed completely different than usual. Saguru couldn't say exactly how, and that bothered him more than a little. It was familiar in a way he couldn't quite place. Then he smiled, a small smile that made something in him give an odd shift.

"Kudou-kun..." he started, and realized he didn't know what he was going to say.

"Come on, let's go help with clean up and return the lady's..." Kudou's voice trailed off, and he gestured helplessly at the usekh collar as if he didn't know quite what to call it.

"Usekh collar," Saguru supplied, glad for something to focus on that he understood.

"Let's go with that."

Kudou stepped passed him, and Saguru thought he felt a light touch on his shoulder, but he couldn't be sure. Why should he have anyway?


He paused, half turning to look back at him with curiosity open on his face. "Yes?"

"How did you know Kid would stop here?"

A slow smile spread across Kudou's face, as enigmatic as anything Saguru had ever seen Kid give, and maybe a bit more so. There was always something infinitely dark about Kudou, as if he'd been touched by something, maybe death, far more than any normal man could ever imagine. It made Saguru's skin crawl, at the same time it made him gravitate toward Kudou. Somehow, the feeling was similar to the one that kept him pursuing Kid.

"Kid isn't always as tricky as he thinks he is," Kudou said quietly. He lifted his hand, and, for a moment, Saguru thought he was gesturing for silence. Instead, he was pointing up. Saguru looked up, up to the building Kid had just scaled not but minutes before. From this angle he could make out small grooves where Kid had obvious stuck things to aid as hand holds at an earlier time. Kid had probably removed them as he climbed this time around.

"Ah." Saguru shook his head and turned away to fall in step with Kudou as the other detective moved on.

The pair of them walked through the shadowy alleyways side by side, and Saguru couldn't help but notice that he was the only one that was tense. Kudou had a faint smile on his face, as if he didn't have anything to worry about. His hands were shoved carelessly in his pockets to complete the relaxed posture. In fact, Saguru would go so far as to say that this was the most relaxed he had ever really seen him. What in the world could have happened that had changed Kudou so drastically?

When they reached the street outside of the Hamamoto building, Saguru stopped to retrieve his radio. He hoped it wasn't broken... It spat static, reporting a few broken statements. He lifted it up, and attempted to contact the central command, "Kid's made his escape. He disappeared heading north into the city."

There were a couple of snaps and pops, then, "Noted. Thank you, Hakuba-kun."

"Kudou-kun and I are on our way back to help with clean up. We were able to retrieve the usekh collar."

"Understood. I'm sure that will thrill Hamamoto-san. He's been throwing a fit about how his wife will murder him if she finds out it's been stolen."

Saguru barely contained a sneer at the thought. Honestly, had the man been living under a rock for the passed few years? He had taken no more than a few more steps when Kudou's voice stopped him, "Hakuba-kun?"

He turned around to face the other detective, and found that Kudou's considering gaze was once more on him in an intensity that made him tense. What was so interesting about him tonight? "Is there something the matter, Kudou-kun?"

"Would you mind meeting with me tomorrow at Poirot?"

"The small place below the Mouri Agency?" Saguru asked, and pretended not to notice the minute shift in Kudou's posture that was probably a flinch. He tried to convince himself it wasn't any of his business.

"Yes, that's the one."

"That would be fine," he agreed. "I don't have any plans tomorrow." Except sleeping in, because even he needed to sleep off the effects of a Kid heist.

Kudou smiled at him then, and it inspired both feelings of curious anticipation as well as an odd sort of dread. Like he'd just walked into one of Kid's traps, and the entire world was going to get turned on its ear. But, this was just Kudou right? What could he have in mind that could cause that sort of feeling? Saguru shrugged it aside. He was just being a fool, was, probably, too hyped up from the Kid heist. They always inspired some amount of paranoia in him, and for good reason!

"Did anyone rescue the task force officer Kid was impersonating yet?" Kudou asked suddenly.

The reminder that he'd lead Kid right to the jewel colored Saguru's reply with sullenness, "I still haven't a clue how he managed that. There is no where he could have hidden him in that room."

"But there is," Kudou replied, and his tone was lightly teasing. He leaned forward to peer up into Saguru's face. Saguru couldn't help but notice he looked positively impish. "The desk."

Baffled, Saguru pointed out, "I checked under the desk."

"Yes, but didn't you notice something strange about it? Before Kid arrived it only had one set of drawers, when you checked the room–"

"It had two."


"How," Saguru snarled, feeling frustrated with himself for not noticing. "did he manage to hide the man with the camera trained on the desk, as well as another officer in the room?"

"When he got close to the camera during his initial arrival he probably hooked up some sort of device to interrupt and replace the feed so we wouldn't see it. As for the rest... I'm guessing the other officer was his accomplice."

"Who has, no doubt, vanished already," Saguru sighed.

"Yes, probably during the black out."

Finally, Saguru voiced the words that had been on the tip of his tongue the entire night, "Cheeky bastard."

Beside him, Kudou grinned. "Well, I did try to warn you, but you weren't listening."

Saguru strode down the sidewalk toward Poirot with a notebook and slim manila folder held in the crook of one arm. In his other hand he was, once more, checking his pocket watch. It looked like he was going to be a few minutes early, but he was pretty sure that Kudou would already be there regardless. They often met like this, after cases or Kid heists. Both of them were, after all, interested in keeping detailed records of their cases, and it was always best to compare notes. There were chances that one of them had forgotten, or missed, details that the other would have. He closed his watch with a snap, and pocketed it again. Just a few feet ahead of him Saguru could see the small sign emblazoned with the little cafe's name.

Upon entering the establishment, he found it to have a distinct clientele gathered at the small tables. Most of them looked to be of police nature, actually. It wasn't hard to spot Kudou among them all. Despite Kudou's unfortunate state of being a near twin to Kuroba, Saguru could only recall one other person who had the same strict hair-style as Kudou Shinichi, no matter how hard Kuroba tried to pull it off, or how well he often managed it, he couldn't fool him any longer.

Kudou, however, was not alone, though he didn't seem to be enjoying the company of the man sprawled in the chair opposite him at all. Saguru couldn't remember the last time he'd seen such a disgruntled look on Kudou's face. Thinking back on it, he couldn't help but think that last night, and now, were perhaps the most animated he'd ever seen the reserved man. Saguru had never really thought about it before, but it really didn't mesh with how Kudou had been described before, and it made him wonder.

With a firm reminder that the way Kudou acted wasn't something he ought to be worrying about, because, surely, Kudou could take care of himself, Saguru shoved the thoughts aside and approached the table. When he drew near he heard the tail end of the man's grumbles as he addressed Kudou, "–can't see why she still talks to a brat like you, but she asked me to give you this."

On the table, Kudou's hands tightened around the mug of coffee he was clutching like it were the only thing keeping him from either punching the man, or stalking out of the cafe. An envelope was tossed onto the table top where it skidded across the sleek surface to rest near Kudou's hands. He made no move to touch it, and instead merely murmured a thank you. The entire scene made something nip at the back of Saguru's mind that felt a little like agitation.

"Good afternoon, Kudou-kun, I hope I'm not late," he interrupted. Saguru sent a look under his lashes at the man who had been addressing Kudou. "Mouri-san."

Somehow, he wasn't all that surprised to see Mouri Kogorou looking right back at him. The Sleeping Detective, whose magic had worn off years ago, had a look on his face of such disgruntlement that it wouldn't have been out of place on a cat. "Good afternoon," Kudou murmured as he returned the greeting. He looked up at him with a flat smile that didn't reach his eyes like the smiles had the night before. "I doubt you're capable of being late, Hakuba-kun."

Mouri grunted, then gathered up his newspaper, and vacated the seat he'd been lounging in. "Well, I've delivered it, so I can let you get back to your tea party or whatever."

Saguru watched the man leave, a frown on his face, until he was out of the shop. Mouri passed in front of the large window at the front of the shop, paused, stretched, and yawned widely as if the hour were far too early to be awake, then ambled on out of sight. Saguru gave a slight sniff of disdain, then finally settled himself into the chair that had been so recently vacated. With an absent air he set his things on the table. "That was... friendly."

Kudou gave a lethargic shrug of one shoulder. "He blames me for a lot of things, and we weren't ever on the friendliest terms anyway."

He wanted to say something, anything, to that that would take the look of retreat from Kudou. There was just something about the situation that made Saguru want to step in. After that, he wasn't at all sure what he would do, what he could do. "I see." His fingers automatically fiddled with the alignment of his notebook and folder. The slim white line of the envelope caught his attention, and, before he realized what he was doing, Saguru heard himself blurt, "Are you going to open that?"

Across from him, Kudou seemed to come out of whatever stupor he'd descended into, and looked up. Saguru found himself pinned in place by the sheer power of Kudou's stare. It reminded him of those laser looks the other man often used on criminals when they solved cases, only it didn't have the same edge of anger. It struck him then, that it was the same considering stare from last night, and, Saguru was almost ashamed to admit, it made him want to squirm. He fought the urge down and calmly opened his notebook to a fresh page.

It was as he was marking down the heist number, and the target, in English rather than Kanji, that the waitress arrived. Only then did Kudou's intense regard leave him, "Enomoto-san."

"I hope Mouri-san wasn't too hard on you, Kudou-kun. We don't see nearly enough of you anymore."

Saguru turned his attention to the young woman who stood beside their table, idly categorizing her face with the name he'd just heard. Her hair was in a simple cut that went to her shoulders and a little farther, with a high hair line and no bangs. She wore the uniform that denoted her as one of the waitresses, along with a concerned look on her face. "It's fine, and nothing to worry about. He's just never gotten over the decline in his fame, and I guess I make a good target."

Then Kudou glanced his way again, and his attention didn't waver. Saguru could feel a faint flush coming to his cheeks under that penetrating stare. "I thought, since it had been awhile I would come meet my friend here," Kudou went on. "This is Hakuba Saguru, my work partner."

The waitress gave him a polite bow, and a smile that was oddly tinged with gratefulness. "Enomoto Azusa. It's good to know someone is watching Beika's ace detective's back out there."

"Someone has to," he found himself saying, a slight smirk sliding into place as he sent Kudou a sidelong glance. Kudou raised his brows in what Saguru took as a silent touché.

Enomoto laughed cheerfully. "What can I get for you, Hakuba-san?"

The reminder that he was at an establishment had Saguru sending a withering stare at the cup of coffee sitting beside Kudou's notebook. Looking back up, while he ignored Kudou's amusement, he asked, "You wouldn't happen to have any European imports would you?" No matter how long he was in Japan he couldn't seem to shake years of taste and preference that he'd gotten from growing up in Great Britain.

She placed a finger to her chin, then glanced down and aside in thought, "We serve Earl Grey, and Lady Londonderry, as well as several blends of Green tea."

"A cup of Earl Grey would be wonderful, thank you." And, maybe he had said that just a little too cheerfully, because Saguru thought he had just heard Kudou laugh at him.

"With a dash of milk," Kudou said, with amusement as thick in his voice as ever. Saguru shot him a narrow eyed glare under the laughing gaze of the waitress. "I've seen you make your tea enough to know by now how you prefer it, Hakuba-kun."

He watched Kudou lean back in his seat, one elbow resting up on the low back, while his other arm rested on his thigh. Kudou was smirking as well, his blue eyes hooded and an oddly smug look on his face. It was out of place, Saguru couldn't help but think, in this situation. It was more like Kudou's attitude when he had figured out a case long before Saguru did. Saguru had never been fond of not knowing, and was even less fond of the feeling when it involved a case. Right now, he was finding a place in time where he absolutely abhorred the feeling: a time where it concerned himself.

"Kudou-kun..." he began, only to be cut off as his tea arrived, and Enomoto set it lightly on the table.

"If you need anything else..." she murmured, bowing politely once more before she headed to serve a couple of new arrivals.

Across from him, Kudou reached out to pick up his cup to take a drink. Saguru was almost one hundred percent certain that he was using the motion to hide his expression. It was a tactic he'd seen people use in the past, even Kudou. Though what Kudou could possibly have to hide right then was beyond him. Perhaps more amusement at his expense? It hurt a little to think Kudou was just having a lark.

What would come next? Kudou announcing something that would completely shatter life as he knew it?

Saguru shoved down the messy and mixed array of emotion stirring nauseously in his stomach, and focused on making sure his tea was to his taste. He could see Kudou setting his coffee cup down, and watched as he finally picked up the envelope that Mouri had left for him. Kudou tucked it neatly between two pages of his notebook, then flipped to a blank page. As Kudou pulled the cap off his pen, Saguru took a steadying sip of his tea to calm his haywire nerves. Whatever Kudou was playing at, he would deal with it calmly.

However, the worry at the back of his mind that Kudou might have every intention of bringing their strange rivalry beyond the bounds of the heists wouldn't be forgotten. Saguru took another gulp, decided that between the two of them Kudou and Kuroba were going to do away with the last of his sanity, and got them started, "Kid arrived at exactly twenty-four hundred hours, twenty-six minutes, and fifteen seconds. I left central command to survey his entry point at twenty-four hundred hours, twenty-eight minutes, and one second."

Facts, time, and personal observations flew back and forth between the two of them until Saguru found himself completely lost to the familiar rhythm of case review. No one paid them any mind once they realized that the two of them were more or less speaking a language all their own, though he suspected a few of the cops in the restaurant could follow them well enough if they wanted. All the same, the two of them kept their voices low to prevent as much being overheard as possible, not, of course, like it wouldn't all get out eventually anyway.

He couldn't help but think that it was an interesting contrast to their usual exchanges. Here, in his notes, a far wider view of the heist was unfolding due to Kudou's choice to stay on the sidelines. Normally the two of them shared space, worked in close quarters, in an effort to both work against each other to get to the Kid first, and to keep an eye on what the other was doing. The notion that something had changed that Saguru was unaware of came back forcefully. He tightened his grip on his pen. His eyes tracked across the words he'd jotted down in neat rows and clusters as if he were hoping that, somehow, they would reveal to him what was going on.

Saguru nearly jumped out of his skin at the light touch on his hand. He jerked his head up to stare, wide eyed, at Kudou's pale fingers resting on the upper curve of his pointer finger. Slowly he looked further up to find Kudou's focused blue eyes regarding him a lot closer than usual. Kudou had taken to leaning against the table, his other arm tucked against his chest. A faint smile greeted Saguru's startled and perplexed gaze. "Could I see your notes on the hostage case from a few days ago?"

"I.." Saguru found himself lost for a moment as his brain took a few seconds to travel the scenic route and catch up. "Yes. Yes, of course, my apologies. I seem to have been caught in my thoughts... A moment if you would?"

Kudou sat back, looking oddly satisfied about something. The look set his nerves on edge again, and Saguru grit his teeth in an effort to quell the flustered feeling that was rushing through him. When had Kudou of all people ever been able to fluster him, and, on that note, when had Kudou ever initiated contact with him? They were both rather reserved people, and physical contact was usually the more tactile Kuroba's territory.

It took a great deal more effort than he really thought it should have to force himself back on task, but he quickly found the page in question and slid his notebook toward Kudou. That didn't stop the seething grip of confusion from getting worse when Kudou smiled at him. It wasn't just any smile, it was that smile that he'd seen charm people in the past; the one that was just this side of arrogance, and instead showed confidence, but only over as a veneer against the shy insecurity peaking out beneath. He'd always thought it was engineered to present exactly the type of person that could charm, and coerce, but, now, having it directed at him... That smile was completely genuine. Saguru didn't know what it said that in caught him just as tightly as it had ensnared various people in the past.

Then Kudou took his focus away, and turned it on that sheet of paper. Saguru felt oddly like he was a positive ion that had only just realized what it felt like to have the complete attention of a its negative neighbor turned on it, only to find itself without moments later. He sat there, staring sightlessly at the simple pictures hanging in a neat line on the wall over Kudou's shoulder, and trying to figure out why his lungs felt like they'd just been filled with cold air.

Shaken, Saguru yanked himself roughly back to the present, and leveled a glare on Kudou's bent head, "Kudou-kun, I don't know what–" Kudou looked up at him with a patiently expectant look on his face that made Saguru nearly swallow his tongue. "I, no, it is nothing of great import. We need to sign this so I can turn it into Nakamori-keibu later today." Weakly, he lay his hand on the manila folder he'd brought with him.

Kudou nodded faintly, and turned back to the two notebooks open on the table before him.

Saguru sat back in his chair with a little more of a slump than he'd strictly meant. His flabbergasted gaze rested bluntly on Kudou, who seemed content to ignore him, or perhaps, just to let him stare. He honestly didn't know what to make of Kudou's sudden change in behavior. It was such a sudden deviation, and made absolutely no sense in whatever context his mind could dream up, and dream up it did. Even though it wasn't a conscious process, Saguru was already sifting through various scenarios as if this were a case where he was mentally profiling his suspect.

He wasn't acting guilty, obviously. No, Kudou had all the signs of a man well in control of a situation. Whatever situation it was seemed to have Saguru himself at the center of it, and why he was at the center of it was the question. Saguru slid easily into the analytic frame of mind, leaving the churn of emotion behind, and began putting the puzzle pieces together.

Firstly, he had noticed Kudou's change of behavior at last night's Kid heist. Normal behavior on a heist night was the two of them more or less ignoring each other unless absolutely needed, while they tried to beat each other to the information, as well as Kid's location. The person who got closest to capturing Kid was always the one he focused on.

It seemed childish, and petty, but it made sense to them. Their relationship existed on a scale of challenges, after all.

The second factor was that Kudou's attention hadn't been on Kid, not really. Instead he seemed to be focused on him.

And, now there was this odd confidence and, apparently, some form of knowledge. Something had changed between that day Kudou had left class early, and the Kid heist, and Saguru wanted to know what it was. He hated to admit that a part of him was worried Kudou had figured out a way to bring their rivalry crashing down. As much as Saguru refused to say it aloud, Kuroba really was pretty much his only friend, well, and then he could add Kudou to that now.

A chilly knot settled in his stomach as the thought occurred to him: What would be the fall out of this entire mess? He'd tried hard not to contemplate it, but now it the truth was forcing its way into his mind. No matter what happened someone was going to get hurt, and he didn't really want to see it happen. A colder part of himself firmly thought that that was life, and he should move beyond it, but...

"Thank you, Hakuba-kun," Kudou's voice interrupted his racing thoughts, and Saguru looked up. He felt more than a little lost as he took his notebook back, and snapped it closed. "Did you want to see my own?"

"No. I will get them from you at a later time, for now..." he shoved the folder toward Kudou. "I have already put my signature on it, so all that is left is yours."

Kudou nodded complacently, and flipped the folder open. Saguru watched him scan the pages, just a report on what the two of them had done during the last heist, then sign off on it, and hand it back. He couldn't help but think Kudou's grip lingered for a moment longer than strictly necessary when he reached out to take the folder, and that curious look was back on Kudou's face as well. Saguru swallowed the questions eating at him. It wouldn't do to cause a scene by turning into a raving lunatic in the middle of the cafe.

"If you're done then?"

"Yes, I think I am."

They paid, and exited the cafe.

Saguru stood silently watching Kudou, who stood a few paces further away. For the moment Kudou's outward confidence seemed to have disappeared, and he was warring with himself over something. So, Saguru waited, because he knew that, whatever Kudou was going to say, it would probably lead him to the answers he was chasing. Finally, Kudou turned to him, "I have something I want to talk to you about, so..."

"In private, I take it," Saguru commented lightly.

"It would probably be for the best."

Nothing more need be said, and, after a moment's hesitation more, Kudou turned and headed down the street in the direction Saguru knew his home lay in. He could count the number of visits he'd paid to the Kudou home on one hand. Kudou was an extremely secretive person, and Kuroba and he rarely ever found themselves visiting the vicinity let alone Kudou's home. Kudou usually came to them, rather than the other way around. It was simply yet another piece of the jigsaw that made up the frustratingly confusing man. If Kaitou Kid were a game of chance, then Kudou Shinichi was a V-cube 7.

Of course, that just meant that Saguru needed to figure out the equation to solve Kudou's puzzle, didn't it?

The walk was one of silence, Saguru keeping his own council, even as his curiosity grew. It wasn't until they reached the gates to the manor that anything broke the quiet atmosphere, "Kudou-kun?"

A young girl had stepped out of the neighboring property, and was giving Kudou a bland stare. "Haibara-chan," Kudou returned blithely. Saguru glanced between the pair of them. When he looked back at the girl, Haibara, he found her looking back at him.

Her stare was unnerving for someone her age, and immediately set his teeth on edge even as he was sharply reminded of something. Then, she turned back to Kudou, her hands gripping the bars of the gate to keep it open. "Agasa-hakase wanted me to tell you that your parents left a message with him for you. They want you to call at your soonest convenience."

"Thank you, Haibara-chan."

The girl nodded, shot Saguru another flatly curious stare, then disappeared back behind the walls of the neighboring residence. Kudou silently tugged the gates of his own home open, and lead Saguru up to the front door.

Inside, Kudou showed him into the sitting room, absently tossed his notebook on a side table, and gestured for him to sit down. Saguru chose to settle himself into one of the arm chairs, and watched Kudou curiously. The other man was standing several feet away, his back toward him. He seemed to be trying to decide what to say.

Just when Saguru was about to prompt the man, Kudou turned, and gave him a frank look. "I think you know, as well as I do, that this needs to come to an end."

Saguru tensed immediately. He could hear the echo of his own thoughts in Kudou's words, and a large part of him didn't like it. He could recognize the need to deny in himself, but he wouldn't pretend like he didn't know what Kudou was talking about. Instead, he would face this head on if Kudou were going to. "If you think I'm just going to back down and give up," he started. Saguru could hear the sharp anger and hurt hidden under the sarcastic bite of his own words.

"I think," Kudou spoke up sharply, cutting across the tirade before it could even begin. "That I have a solution to this... problem."

"And that would be?"

That laser focus was once more on him. He'd never really known what it felt like to be under that gaze like this, and he was only just beginning to realize that there were different levels to it. This wasn't the way Kudou looked at the criminals he caught. It was closer to how he looked at Kid.

"I've thought about it," Kudou said. He was moving closer now, his eyes locked on Saguru, and so intense it felt like he was being physically pinned in place. It was taking everything he had not to squirm. "And I don't think we're going about this the right way. Whoever said we had to fight over him?"


He was standing right over him now. Saguru could feel a flush rising in his cheeks. Kudou leaned forward, bracing his hands against the arms of the chair. "I don't find you unattractive, Saguru-kun." His voice, nothing more than a low murmur, made him swallow, hard.

"What are you suggesting?" Saguru asked, wary to the end.

One of Kudou's hands came up and cupped Saguru's cheek, then his fingers slid into the hair near his nape. The touch made his skin crawl in a pleasant way, and he wondered if maybe he didn't find Kudou unattractive either. He knew that, physically, he might. He did, after all, find Kuroba attractive.

"I'm suggesting," Kudou went on. He was still using that low tone of voice that spoke straight to Saguru's hormones. "That we don't need to fight about this. Just because the socially acceptable norm is that of a monogamous couple, doesn't mean we can't look outside of that."

"Ah." What Kudou was suggesting, what he was offering... He felt a little dizzy at the thought of it. Part of him rebelled, thought it was wrong to even contemplate, but another part of him felt like the thought, the idea, had clicked into place and cleared up so much.

"The question is... can you find me attractive too? I think the possibility is there," Kudou admitted. "I probably wouldn't have even thought about this if I hadn't. You obviously like me as a friend, at the very least, and as a work partner. We get along well for the most part..." There were things left unsaid there; things like: And I've been watching lately, and I can see things now. Saguru was sure he could, because he was starting to see things as well.

"I don't know," he admitted. "Maybe. Maybe I could. I... I admit I haven't even considered..."

Kudou's lips quirked up in that hauntingly enigmatic smile of his again. "We can always find out, can't we?"

"Kudou-kun... What?"

His train of thought was derailed when Kudou wet his lips, his eyes fixated on the movement as it occurred to him that Kudou might just be planning to kiss him now. Saguru realized he had no idea how to react to this situation a heartbeat later. Slowly, as if Kudou were afraid he was going to bolt, he slid a knee in beside Saguru's hip. Kudou's other hand came up and gripped the back of the chair beside Saguru's head as the other man shifted to settled his other knee on the other side of him, effectively straddling him. Kudou kept enough of his weight off of him that it wasn't uncomfortable, but the fact that he had Kudou Shinichi in his lap...

Saguru was pretty sure his brain had just stuttered to a halt.

Kudou's fingers touched lightly under his chin, coaxing his head to tilt back. He had a moment to wonder if the position was to keep him from bolting, because he wasn't sure he wouldn't have, given the chance. His heart thudded in his chest, and a potent cocktail of nervousness and anticipation made him feel warm all over. Then Kudou's lips were on his, just a slight press and slight movements. He froze up for a moment, tensing, before forcing himself to relax, and just enjoy it. Saguru slid his hands up Kudou's clothed thighs to rest on his hips. His fingers pressing into the feel of warm flesh and muscle just beneath the other man's clothing.

Kudou made a soft sound in the back of his throat, and slid his hands into Saguru's hair where his fingers raked through his normally neatly combed blond hair, and set it astray. It made pleasant shivers chase themselves down his spine. Saguru tugged Shinichi just a little closer. Kudou's eyes were closed as he trailed his lips to the corner of Saguru's mouth, nipping lightly, before continuing downward to mouth the line of his jaw bone.

His every breath slid out of him in an erratic rhythm. Kudou's hair was soft, and well taken care of as it slid against his cheek, he noted absently. Saguru slid his own hands upward, flattening his palms against the curve of Kudou's spine. The feel of teeth scraping, ever so lightly, over the lobe of his ear sent a spark of pleasure skittering down his spine. Kudou's lips followed, then his tongue teased ever so slightly, a bit of suction, and he pulled away, breath ghosting over Saguru's damp skin.

Then they were kissing again, but this time it was deeper. Kudou's lips parted against his, inviting, and he took the chance. Saguru slid his hand up to tangle his fingers in the hair at the base of Kudou's skull. He wasn't sure what to think of the slide of their tongues, or the feel of Kudou sucking lightly on his. It was wet, and a prim part of him insisted it was disgusting, and not because Kudou tasted strongly of the coffee he'd been enjoying not so long ago. Despite that, he knew that, yes, he could definitely be attracted to Kudou.

One thing hounded his mind, though, as they pulled apart, and Saguru found himself admiring the image of a flushed Kudou Shinichi trying to regain his breath in his lap. He took a deep breath, and let it out in an attempt to even his own breathing. "Aren't you afraid I could just be attracted to you because you look so much like Kuroba-kun?"

"No," Kudou breathed, voice a bit hoarse yet. "You know us too well. I know you can see me, and I know you can see him."


"I think," Kudou broke in, leaning into him a little more. Saguru choked back a faint gasp, and tightened his grip on him. "You can call me by my name."

"Shinichi-kun," Saguru tried, testing the flavor of the name on his tongue. He found he didn't mind it much at all. "If we're going to do this..."

"We'll have to plan our approach to Kuroba-kun carefully," Kudou murmured. Saguru felt it more than he heard it, because Kudou, Shinichi, had found something interesting in drawing patterns on his neck with his tongue.

"Y-yes." Was that his voice, broken and hoarse, and thick?

"It will give us plenty of time to practice then," Shinichi said as he sat back. There was an impish look on his face, his blue eyes hooded, and his lips stretched into an almost Kid-like grin.

Saguru couldn't help but wonder what he'd gotten himself into, even as he knew he wouldn't regret it in the least. This, he knew now, was exactly what he wanted.