Disclaimer: DC/MK belongs to Gosho Aoyoma. However, the following madness is entirely my own.
He came back.
He was right there, outside, waiting. A white silhouette perched on the balcony railing with careless ease. His hands, so pale they appeared almost translucent under the moonlight, swept across his dark hair; stale crumbs of earth fell onto his collar. He brushed them off easily. His lips were curled in a familiar smile. A new glint in his eyes.
The first night he came, she had wanted to fling open the doors and threw herself into his arms. It took several maids to restrain her back toward the bed. Nakamori Ginzo had installed a new lock on the doors and hired two men to keep watch to make sure she didn't do anything stupid. (Case in point: Flinging an inkpot through the glass and trying to outrun at least half a dozen people in the room, who were all warned beforehand of such an attempt) He had come to visit her every night for three months, never once failing to jolt her heart with the quiet rap-rap-rapping of his knuckles against glass.
But they knew.
The embalmer had told her father everything. The two telltale holes impaled upon his neck. The last breath rattling deep from his punctured lungs. His arms and legs were broken and splayed in the oddest way on the street - almost like a spider scrambling for safety before being squashed by the shoe. (She had only learnt this days after the funeral, tucking herself into the broom cupboard to eavesdrop on the maids. Ginzo had forbid her from even stealing a glance at the newspapers, declaring the news too grotesque for her to stomach.) They said he looked as if he had struggled against the killer before he died. His eyes were wide open. The face tipped upwards to the sky, as if he was waiting - expecting - for something.
Tap. Tap.... Tap.
"I'll be there."
It was her fault. All her fault. The first time he came, the maids and the men were so shocked that they froze, not knowing what to make of the... the thing that was knocking on the door. Aoko took her chance then. Practically tearing the covers off her, Aoko rushed toward the balcony. She didn't get further than a couple of steps before one of the maids jerked out of her stupor, realized what was going on, and tackled her right to the floor. The loud thud of her knees buckling against the ground startled everyone back into reality; several maids rushed forward to help. The arms were everywhere, grabbing her, taking her away from him.
"Keiko - stop, unhand me at once - Keiko - stop it! Can't you see? It's Kaito - he's come for me -"
"Miss Nakamori! Please, open your eyes! It is not Mr. Kuroba calling - it's a monster -"
It. "Stop it! Let me go! Keiko - It's Kaito! Kaito, Kaito, Kaiiiiiiiiito - "
"Miss Nakamori!" Flinching, narrowly ducking from her mistress' flailing arms, Keiko cried out. "Mr. Kuroba has passed on! He will never come back! Mistress you had seen burial with your own eyes! Please, Miss Nakamori - it's but a demon, a clever imitation of Mr. Kuroba! He's only after your soul!" Clack. Her spectacles were knocked onto the floor.
"Miss Nakamori - "
The throaty cry sliced through the air -
"Kaito Kuroba is dead!"
Sobbing, Aoko fell to her knees. Keiko hurried to catch her; Aoko let herself be pulled up. She was in hysterics; the tears blanketed everything in a thin film of fog and she couldn't see anything but grey blobs. Dimly, in the back of her mind, Aoko could hear an animal whimpering with pain; the sounds seeped through the walls and crawled into every pore of her body. The gentle knocking ceased. The men standing by the balcony exchanged a look, uncomfortable.
Kaito (she refused to think of him as "it") left after that. The visits lapsed, from nightly to once every three, then four, five, and finally ceased altogether. Finally, Ginzo dismissed the men standing guard by the balcony doors but left the lock on. Though she thought that it was more as a safety measure, meant to prevent her from throwing herself from the second floor then to guard against malicious spirits. A bouquet of red roses wilted by her bed, their necks hung sadly by the vase. She had forgotten to remind Keiko to change the water.
"You can't carry on like this forever like this, Miss Nakamori."
"Miss Nakamori... please, if not for yourself, at least think of your father."
"He's... well, we're all very worried about you."
He had brought her roses. The flowers were held loosely in her hands. Aoko looked up; their eyes met.
"The roses are missing their thorns."
He leaned forward. He was sitting close to her; too close, she could feel the heat radiating from his body as the bed sheets crinkled as his face neared. (Whywasheeveninherbedchamber?)
Her vision blurred. She felt something warm envelope her. He was holding her. The roses fell onto the floor. A pool of scattered red.
"Saguru - I... I -"
Aoko felt herself being pushed onto the bed. His lips brushed hers softly before tracing an impatient line down her neck. The first button of her starch black dress was twisted loose from its eye. Her brain groped blindy in the fog. A part of her longed to clutch at the warm, breathing body above her. To hold onto something solid. The other part of her screamed for her to stop. Right now. He wasn't Kaito. He wasn't Kaito. No He wasn't Kaito he wasn't Kaito not Kaito but Kaito was gone he'll never come back -
"But what is a rose without its thorns?" Two hands that were not hers clutched, shakingly, at the bedsheets. A woman's voice choked out the question.
"A perfect one, I'd imagine."
The bed sheets pooled at her feet. He didn't knock tonight. Just sat out there, waiting. It had been months since his last visit. Did he know? The nightgown was bunched up at her thighs; her skin was slick with sweat. Brushing her bangs back with a careless hand, Aoko slipped off the bed carefully - she didn't want to startle him. The cloth fell to her ankle with a soft swish.
Kaito was watching her.
"Did you come for me?"
He didn't answer. Just smiled.
His blue shirt was crinkled. Faded. The lock was cold; her fingers danced absently upon its ungiving ridges, trying to find a weak spot to work with. Kaito's blue eyes were playful. Had he just raised his right eyebrow the tiniest millimeter upwards?
The idea striking her out of the blue, Aoko gave a little start before scrambling back to her bed. Grabbing the hairpin that had been thoughtlessly flung onto the nightstand earlier that evening, (he preferred to see her hain neatly pinned up in a bun. Given her naturally rebellious mane, it took more than a handful of bobby pins to accomplish that feat) she went back to the lock and started picking at it.
"Oh, be quiet," Aoko snapped quietly under her breath, turning her face away from his blue eyes. She knew that twinkle of amusement all too well.
Aoko's heart leapt. Slowly, she pushed aside the doors.
Stealthily, he slid off the railing and onto his feet. Closer, she could see that his white suit was stained. Spots of the ink-black brown were splattered across his lapels. She could see herself reflected in his eyes, her features oddly distorted in the watery glaze. Kaito reached out a hand for her.
"Are you really... Kaito?"
Aoko's vision blurred. His fingers were cold as they touched her cheek, caressing gently. Aoko closed her eyes, savoring his touch.
"Kaito," she choked out.
With that, Aoko flung herself into his arms. Slowly, his arms came around her waist. He held her gently, almost like a father would do to a blubbering child. Dipping his head low, Kaito nuzzled Aoko's neck. A shiver ran down her spine.
"Kaito... you came back...."
Pulling back slightly, Kaito's blue eyes searched her face; his gaze so intense it was almost if he was trying to burn the lines and angles in memory. Tipping up on her toes, Aoko traced a finger down Kaito's face. His face had grown sharper, almost gaunt, and yet there was a certain elegance to the skeletal ridges of his face. His eyes were sunken in, shadows clinging under them. He had the look of a man who hadn't fed for a long, long time.
Suddenly, he yanked her forward, capturing her lips in a kiss. Aoko flinched - there was nothing gentle about the kiss - Kaito nipped impatiently at her bottom lip for entrance - he tasted of something earthy and metallic; his breath was sharp with a curious spice -
Aoko drew away sharply. Her lip was bleeding.
The thinnest rivulet of blood dribbled from his mouth. He was smiling gently at her again. One pale hand reached up and stroked her cheek with such tenderness that Aoko couldn't quite recover from her shock. His eyes, which had been gazing at her face a moment earlier, flicked behind her, into the bedroom.
"Oh... Kaito..." Her voice cracked.
Bedsheets rustling. A tuft of gold hair, bathed in an ethereal white by the moonlight, spilled across the dampened silk.
"Kaito, we shouldn't!"
Face flushed, the tousle-haired woman was led out from the all the noises and lights of the party and out into the garden; their shoes clacked loudly on the cobbled path that snaked its way through the lilacs and the peonies. His hand was sweaty, warm, and wonderfully solid around hers. It was hard keeping up with him. She couldn't see where they were going. Soon, the voices and lights faded behind them and they were alone. Her heel caught onto the hem of her dress and Aoko lost her footing.
"Kaito - "
He turned back, eyes widened just in time to see her toppling forward. His arms shot out automatically; a cradle at the ready to cushion her fall. With a loud oomph she fell right into his arms, the force causing him to reel backwards and they were both falling back, limbs entangled.
They crashed right into a bed of roses. Aoko felt Kaito's arms snaked around her waist as just they fell right through the thicket of thorns. Aoko let out a cry; though it was more from surprise than anything, as Kaito had shielded her from the worst of the fall.
"Kaito - "
"Ow ow ow ow ow - "
Hastily, Aoko eased herself onto her elbows She was about to slid back onto her feet when she felt a hand on her elbow, tugging her back down.
"Wh-what is it?" Frantic, Aoko leaned closer. Kaito was wincing in pain.
"...... " His voice barely rose above a whisper.
Their faces were so close that Aoko could see her reflection, clear as day, swimming in the blue pools of his eyes. Aoko could see Kaito's lips move. Worried, she leaned in even closer when she suddenly felt a hand snaked around her waist, pulling her forward. Startled, her eyes widened just as he tilted up, his other hand (when had it gotten there?) grazed past her jaw line, pausing below her chin, and then - tipping it up - everything coming together in one fluid motion -
and kissed her.
For a second Aoko lost herself in the kiss, her lashes fluttering close as she relished the sweetness of his breath. Then, her rational side kicking in, Aoko broke the kiss hastily. Kaito let out a discontent groan.
"The thorns - "
"There aren't any." His lips curled up in a devilish grin. He ran a hand through her hair (now in a complete disarray from the fall), lovingly brushing off any leaves that had found themselves tangled up in her hair. "Hakuba had his gardeners pluck every single thorn off the rose. God forbids he should stumble and prick himself in the face with a rose. Without all that air in his head, there would be nothing to support its shape."
"Kaito, that's a terrible thing to say about Mr. Hakuba."
"Ah, so my austere love scolds." Kaito traced a finger down Aoko's cheeks, tensed from biting down a smile. His grin widened. "And yet despite her most righteous words, she cannot help but agree that Hakuba Saguru is indeed one time-obsessing, attention-hogging, sleep-inducing nutter."
Aoko stifled a giggle. "Yeah, well, it's not like you're so humble yourself, Kaito."
"At least I wasn't so enchanted by Hakuba's conversation I started folding cranes with my napkin."
"You spied on me!"
"Hmm... I can't help it. My lady's beauty is too much to resist."
Aoko glared, but couldn't help the heat creeping onto her cheeks. Embarrassed, she was about to rise up from the rosebush when Kaito's arm snaked around her waist, coaxing her back down.
"What's the hurry?" Purring huskily, Kaito started nuzzling Aoko's neck.
"They'll be looking for us at the party."
He snorted. "With Hakuba entertaining the guests? Believe me, they're too busy trying to keep their heads from drowning in their wineglasses to notice."
"Father would be wondering where I am...."
He was kissing down her neckline, and for a second Aoko couldn't rermember what she was saying. Struggling to keep her coherence (did he have to torment her so?), Aoko choked out, "Kaito... wait... we shouldn't... people are expecting us back at the party -"
"Well, I don't know about you, but I have all the company I need right here."
Before Aoko could formulate a response, she felt Kaito's arm tightened around her and suddenly the world spun upside down - the roses were glittering right above her and the stars - soft as velvet - were crackling under her body. Aoko gasped; but before Aoko could express her (rapidly waning) displeasure, Kaito's lips silenced her in a possessive kiss, stealing all thoughts of protest from her mind. Not that Aoko was even capable of making up one right then. His fingers trailed further and further down, igniting a line of fire everywhere they touched. Aoko closed her eyes, surrendering her sanity utterly and completely and reciprocated his touch with an almost savage passion - there was hunger in his touch, his kisses... and she filled them all too happily -
"I loved you... Kaito. I did."
There was a gasp. A breathy moan. Their breaths so intertwined with each others' that Aoko couldn't tell from whose lips it had slipped forth - she reached out, and in her fervor, grabbed blindly at a fistful of silk. Another gasp escaped - this time she recognized it as her own. Her hand loosened, and the petals rained forth above them... and the flowers were so red, so true - innocent beads of blood seeping from a wound...
She hadn't even realized she was crying. The salt stung her bleeding lip. Kaito's gaze swept downwards. To her neck.
A tiny blossom of pink. The betrayl etched right on her neck.
"Kaito..." her voice trailed off.
"You will do as you're told, Aoko."
He wasn't even looking at her. Half of his face was concealed behind the papers, the tiny rings of smoke puff-puffing away from his pipe. It had been a while since she had last seen her father. For the first time in her life Aoko became sharply aware of how estranged they had become. It seemed that every time she laid eyes on him, there were new wrinkles running in between the bridge of his brows, the silver bands in his hair widening. She had brought him tea. It was on the table, cooling, a pillar of smoke curling lazily into the air. She didn't add any sugar or cream. Frankly, she couldn't remember how much of each to add.
Or perhaps he had never taken any with his tea.
She must've let her dismay show, for at once Ginzo gave the papers a hard shake - the resounding crackle was like a crisp slap across her face. His eyebrows knotted. "Rid that ungrateful look off your face at once, Aoko. Hakuba Saguru is a fine young man with a very bright political future lying ahead of him. He comes from a very affluent family. You should be flattered to have a gentleman of such fine upbringing to express an interest in you."
"...And if I refuse, father?"
"You will do no such thing." The papers fell forth. Their eyes met. Ginzo's eyes hardened. "You will attend the dinner party as Mr. Hakuba Saguru has kindly invited you."
"I won't go."
But he was already going back to his papers. Aoko knew that she had lost. Her threats weren't much of a threat at all. Shaking, she stomped out of the room, determined to close the door as hard as possible when Ginzo suddenly called out.
"Oh, and Aoko?"
"Don't hang around with that Kuroba boy anymore. It makes a bad impression. No self-respecting young lady would indulge so much of her time on a young man who wastes his life away on all that artsy nonsense-"
She slammed the door.
Kaito's eyes flicked upward back to hers.
"Kaito..." Aoko's voice faltered. "I'm sorry."
"Let's run away."
Fingers welded perfectly together, he brought her hand - slightly scratched from their thrashings around on the garden bed - up to his lips and kissed them lightly.
"Midnight. Clock tower."
He didn't even hesitate.
"I'll be there."
And he was.
"It's all my fault... if only I hadn't thought of something so stupid...running away... what was I thinking..." Aoko blubbered, her speech slurred as she choked back tears.
Still saying nothing, Kaito brought his hands forward and gingerly cradled Aoko's face in its hold. Blinking wetly, she glanced up into his face. His expression was unreadable.
"I loved you, Kaito."
He laid on finger on her lips, and Aoko trailed off. Slowly, he leaned forward, his lips brushed upon the claimed spot. Aoko shivered.
She had been irritated that morning. As if reading her mind, Ginzo had installed locks on her windows the night before. She couldn't get away (and she had spent all that time assembling the bed sheets altogether, ready to use it as a rope to climb down the window when she discovered that the lock wouldn't budge). To her surprise, Kaito hadn't come and tried to sneak in like he usually did when she missed one of their nightly outings. A restless night of worrying ensued. Either Kaito was mad at her for breaking her promise, or he had fallen ill from waiting out there all night long in the cold. The next morning, after making sure that her father had left for work, she grabbed a coat and was about to fled down the stairs before a loud-mouthed maid saw her (she was the worst liar) when the doorbell rang.
Slightly annoyed that she would have to deal with the visitor first, Aoko went to open the door.
The old housekeeper took off his hat. He tried to smile, but only managed to tug his quivering lips slightly upwards. He glanced downwards at his shoes before flicking his eyes up towards her again. The hat was trembling in his hands.
"Ms. Nakamori... did you... did you arrange a meeting with young Master Kaito late last night?"
Her stomach turned.
"Yes." She swallowed. "But... but I couldn't make it." Her hand tightened on the doorknob. "Is... is Kaito okay?"
The old men's eyes shimmered.
"... Mr. Kuroba was murdered last night, Miss Nakamori."
The fangs sank in.
The pain was worse than she had imagined. The red exploded behind her eyes. Crimson maroon fire ruby fire mauve fire red red red nothing but red like fire like flames like the blossoming of fresh innocent new roses...
A/n: I warned you of the madness. I warned you!