Disclaimer: I don't own Detective Conan. Or YouTube.
So hi. *waves* I'm sorry it took me so long to get this chapter out. I want to thank everyone who reviewed and sent me PMs asking me if I was alive. It's nice to know that people actually enjoy reading this!
I would like to give a giant thank you to Nightpounce. Without her, this would have taken much, much longer to be written. Everyone in this lovely community needs to send her lots of love. Not only for catching all my little grammatical mistakes, but for being a wonderful well of inspiration. That said, this story is going to be a lot longer than originally planned. I hope everybody still enjoys it!
"...You want to what?"
Wincing, Shinichi held his cell phone a little farther away from his ear, "I would like to meet Kuroba Kaito."
"May I ask why? You have never shown interest in capturing Kaitou KID-san outside of heists before."
"Ah, no, and I'm still not interested in that. I never said anything about KID; I just want to meet Kuroba-san."
"You are aware of my theory on Kuroba-kun actually being Kaitou KID-san, correct?"
Shinichi let out a soft sigh, "Yes, I am. Irregardless, I would really appreciate it if you would set up a meeting for us."
"I don't suppose you would tell me if I asked where this sudden urge to meet him came from?"
Dryly, Shinichi replied, "I hear he makes excellent pancakes."
He could practically hear the confusion emanating from the phone, "...What? No, never mind. I suppose anything dealing with Kuroba-kun is destined to be overly convoluted and not make sense. Fine. Where would you like us to meet up?"
"No! No offense, but could you set it up so it's just him and me?
"...You don't want me there?"
"Not unless you can promise to not antagonize him. No accusations or even hints of him being KID."
There was a moment of silence, and then, "What's he going to do to you if I do?"
"You don't want to know."
Another moment of silence. "Very well. I shall set up your meeting."
"I don't think you should be thanking me just yet."
A short while later Shinichi's cellphone buzzed, indicating an email. He flipped it open to read: Meeting is for the Le Soleil Cafe in Ekoda. Be there at four, tomorrow. Just look for your twin, you can't miss him. Flipping his cell shut and stuffing it in his pants pocket, Shinichi flopped down in the large arm chair in the corner of the house library.
He hoped he'd made the right decision in making the meeting. Unless he had misunderstood, KID had indicated that he would like Shinichi to take the initiative to become friends with KID's day-time identity. Apparently he'd been correct, as Kuroba Kaito had okay'd the meeting. Shinichi just wasn't sure why he decided to take the thief's offer of friendship.
His head kept telling him it was going to cause more trouble than it was worth. But there was a feeling – deep in his chest – telling him he would regret it if he let the opportunity pass him by. Hopefully by meeting with Kuroba he could figure out what that feeling might mean.
Shinichi eyed the cafe door while tugging nervously on the edge of his shirt tail. Bracing himself and adjusting the strap of the backpack on his shoulder, he smoothed the bottom of his deep blue dress shirt over his tan pants and entered the cafe. Not spotting anyone of remote resemblance to himself, Shinichi sat down at a booth facing the door, placing his backpack next to him. Ordering a cup of coffee when the waitress came over, Shinichi started flipping through the menu as she left to get his drink.
Despite his repeated glances at the entrance, Shinichi didn't notice Kaito had arrived until he looked up from the menu to see Kaito grinning at him from the seat across from him. Shinichi tried to hide how much the other boy's sudden appearance startled him. He didn't succeed if the widening of Kaito's grin was any indication.
"Kuroba Kaito, at your service! Call me Kaito."
Shinichi nodded in greeting, "Kudou Shinichi. Thanks for coming."
Kaito propped his chin up on his hand, eyes bright, "No problem! Who wouldn't want to meet the great Kudou Shinichi? I've heard nothing but praise about you!"
Shinichi gave a slight smile, "Unfortunately I can't say the same."
Kaito made a disgruntled face, "Hakuba can't bring himself to praise anyone but his beloved Sherlock Holmes and, apparently, Holmes' modern reincarnation."
Shinichi flushed slightly. The waitress interrupted them with Shinichi's coffee and Kaito ordered a hot chocolate. Letting the stilted conversation rest, both boys took a moment to study each other. Now that Shinichi was taking the time to notice, he could see several subtle differences between them.
For instance, Kaito's hair was messier and didn't have the same cowlick in the back. His eyes had a more violet hue, and his cheekbones were a tad sharper. Most noticeably, however, was the difference in the way Kaito held himself. Just watching Kaito lounge back in his seat made Shinichi want to sit up even straighter. Kaito had an easy-going feel about him that was a fine counterpoint to Shinichi's usual seriousness.
The overall image was very different from what Shinichi was used to seeing in the mirror every day. Sure, they looked remarkably similar. Especially, Shinichi imagined, to people that didn't know them very well. But he'd be hard pressed to believe Hattori ever getting him and Kaito mixed up.
Kaito broke Shinichi's mussing, "You know I don't know what Hakuba was going on about – us being twins? You aren't the fabulous face I see in the mirror every morning! Well, not that your face is any less fabulous, but you know what I mean?"
Shinichi smiled, "Yes. Quite obviously, you are you, and I am me. I don't see you and think of myself."
Kaito nodded emphatically, "Exactly!"
The waitress approached the table carrying an obviously hot beverage. She set the steaming hot chocolate down in front of Kaito and said, "It's funny, you would think that twins would like the same drinks, right?" She gave both boys a bright smile before walking away to greet another customer.
Kaito snickered, "I hope you don't mind a future of 'Hey, look at the twins!' that we're gonna be experiencing from now on out."
Shinichi rolled his eyes, "It's alright I suppose. I've been dealing with extremely unobservant people most of my life, so at least I'm used to inane comments."
Kaito gave a nod before downing his hot chocolate in one go. Shinichi gaped, "That had to have been scalding!"
Kaito smirked, "Don't worry, my mouth has many talents of which drinking hot beverages without harm is just the first! Do you want to know the others? I promise they're all just as amazing."
Shinichi could feel his face grow warm, "No, I think I'm fine staying in suspense on that subject, thank you."
"Aw, spoil-sport! Say, I know! Why don't you finish your coffee and then we go to the park? It's a perfect day to be outside!"
Shinichi's brow twitched, "You have entirely too much energy, though I suppose a walk won't do me any harm."
"I've had a rather strenuous week thus far, so the less running around the better."
Kaito raised a brow in question, "Strenuous? Doing what? P.E. classes?"
"I wish – at least then I wouldn't mind so much. No, I've been running down crimin-"
He was interrupted by a scream, "She's dead!"
Shinichi let out a sigh. Kaito shot him a look, "I know you solve a lot of murder cases, but surely this doesn't warrant a sigh?"
"This," Shinichi nodded toward the dead woman, "is my 26th body this month."
Kaito's eyes widened incredulously, "...But it's only the 15th..."
Shinichi nodded, "Some of them were double homicides. Others, just really crappy days on my part. Let me tell you something, Kuroba-san. I almost never get called in to help on murder investigations. All the cases I have nearly every day? They happen in the course of my everyday life. If that bothers you, I suggest you find a different friend."
As Shinichi turned to make his way to the corpse, Kaito stood up and grabbed a hold of his arm, "Wait a minute."
Shinichi stopped and turned back around to face the other boy, "Yes?"
Staring Shinichi straight in the eyes, Kaito said, "Okay, first of all, who said I had a problem with it? Second, you don't have to take every case that falls into your lap – even if it does so literally. Sure, go gather all the preliminary info you can from the scene, but hand it all over to the professionals that get paid for this kind of shit when they get here. Third, I said to call me Kaito – got that Shin-chan?"
That said, Kaito turned Shinichi around and gently pushed him toward the crime scene. The bewildered detective snapped out of his slight daze, shot one last look at Kaito over his shoulder, and then set to working on what he did best. Kaito watched as Shinichi worked his magic at the scene and then gave his information to the chubby, hat-wearing inspector when he arrived. After Shinichi finished, Kaito approached, introduced himself and then excused both he and Shinichi.
Handing over the backpack he'd grabbed from the booth, Kaito and Shinichi walked in silence for a while on their way toward the park, each lost in their own thoughts.
"You know," Shinichi broke the quiet, "I've never had anyone tell me to not solve a case before just because I didn't have to. Bigoted assholes trying to kick me off a case because they think someone so young is unqualified? Yes, all the time. Ran threatening to send me head-first through a steel beam if I made her late again to something she wanted to do? Unfortunately way too often. Somebody telling me to just take a break? Never."
They turned into the park's entrance. Kaito jumped a few steps forward, spun to face Shinichi, and started to walk backwards, "Well someone has to make you relax! You obviously aren't doing a good enough job of it yourself, Shin-chan."
A scowl crossed Shinichi's face, "Kuroba, when did I ever give you permission to call me by my given name, let alone an abbreviation of it?"
Kaito beamed, "Since when do friends need to be so formal? C'mon, I told you to call me Kaito! Say it with me, Ka-i-to!"
Shinichi rolled his eyes, "Yes, yes – Kaito. There, you happy?"
"Ah, it's like music to my ears! Surely my happiness knows no bounds now that I've heard my name in your dulcet tones!"
Shinichi gave him a look, "Melodramatic much?"
They walked along the park trail for a while, enjoying the good weather and scenery. Then suddenly, from behind Kaito there came an excited scream of "Shinichi-niichan!" before 61 lbs of little girl slammed into the back of a startled Kaito, sending him careening forward into an equally startled Shinichi. The force and momentum caused Shinichi to topple over backwards, 150 plus pounds of Kaito and child knocking the air out of his lungs. Two young boys came running up to the downed group as Shinichi wheezed out, "Ayumi-chan...Kaito...off!"
An overly concerned Mitsuhiko asked if Ayumi was alright while Genta helped her up off Kaito. Kaito rolled off Shinichi and they both sat up, gazing up at the three 10-year-olds. Said group of three gaped at them, and Ayumi gasped, "There are two Shinichi-niichans?"
Genta shouted, "Does that mean one's a clone? Or maybe an alien!"
Mitsuhiko shot Genta an exasperated look, "Genta-kun, aliens don't exist. He might be a clone, but he is most likely Shinichi-niichan's twin brother."
Ayumi looked between the two boys perplexed, "But which Shinichi-niichan is the real one...?"
Kaito jumped to his feet, hand on his chest and an expression of sincerity upon his face, "Me! Me! I'm the real Kudou Shinichi! This fiend you see to my side is an evil genetically engineered clone sent from outer space to take my place so he can take over the world! You must save me!"
Shinichi stood up, sending Kaito a 'you have got to be kidding me' look. Mitsuhiko shot Genta the same look when he exclaimed, "See! I told you he was an alien! And a clone! So I was two times as right!"
Ayumi perked up, "I know! We'll have them do a test!"
Mitsuhiko nodded, "Right. The real Shinichi-niichan should be able to prove himself with his amazing deductive skills!"
Shinichi smile, "Very well. Genta-kun, your parents have put you on a diet."
Three sets of eyes stared at him, amazed. Genta asked excitedly, "How did you know?"
"Well not only are Genta-kun's clothes baggy – which is strange because his mom tailors them specially to fit him – but he doesn't have a money pouch on him for snacks. Also his stomach is growling because he is hungry even though you stopped and picked up some snacks not too long ago. Ayumi-chan and Mitsuhiko-kun still have crumbs on their clothes from the snacks but Genta-kun doesn't."
The three children gazed at him in amazement, "Wow!"
Kaito let out a low whistle of appreciation, "You really do have an eye for detail."
The kids set curious eyes upon Kaito.
"So if he's the real Shinichi-niichan, who are you? Are you a detective too? Do you help Shinichi-niichan chase down criminals?" Ayumi asked.
Kaito ignored Shinichi's snicker, "I? Why my dear lady and kind gentlemen, I am Kuroba Kaito – magician extraordinaire!"
And with a flourished bow he presented Ayumi with a fresh yellow rose. Standing, Kaito snapped his fingers. Immediately three poofs of smoke appeared over the kids' heads. When the smoke drifted away the kids were delighted to find pirate hats on their heads. Rolling his eyes skyward at Kaito's antics, Shinichi performed his own flower trick, presenting Ayumi with another yellow rose. Kaito shot Shinichi a look, eyebrow raised in question.
"What? Did you think I would deign to chase after the illustrious Kaitou KID without doing any research? Of course I know a little sleight of hand."
"Well color me impressed. You're just full of surprises, aren't you? Any others I should know about?"
Dryly, Shinichi stated, "Not as many tricks and surprises as you have, I'm sure."
Kaito sent him a smirk, "Oh, I don't know. I'm betting you could do wonders with a little imagination and improvisation."
Shinichi's reply was interrupted by the cry of a very familiar voice.
"Hey everyone! Agasa-hakase said dinner is done. We need to head back to the house."
Shinichi looked over to see Haibara walking up to the other kids. Glancing over at the adults the kids were talking to, Haibara did a double-take.
"Kudou-kun, I was unaware that you had developed the ability to produce copies of yourself. It's a skill you could have used previously, I'm sure."
Shinichi raised an eyebrow and drew breath to respond when he was interrupted by Kaito stepping forward and introducing himself.
"Kuroba Kaito, Magician Extraordinaire! At your service, miss."
Haibara eyed the yellow flower that was presented with a flourish and small puff of pink smoke before reaching out and taking it carefully. Eying the grinning young man warily and twirling the flower between her fingers she seemed to come to a realization. Eyes sliding to the side to rest on Shinichi briefly she smirked before addressing Kaito.
"I see, you are certainly younger than I expected although I suppose it is fortuitous for you. Be sure to take good care of the Detective, he's well versed at getting himself into trouble and he's quite dear to a large number of people."
The corner of her mouth quirked up in a slight smirk, "I certainly would not like to be the person responsible for any harm, physical or otherwise that befell the Beika police force's most cherished consultant."
Kaito gave her a sincere smile, "Rest assured, harming him is not my intention."
Kaito turned, beaming at Shinichi and ignoring the muttered "Some of your pranks left me wondering…" and slung an arm around his shoulders.
"Ne, Shin-chan, I was wondering…"
Haibara interrupted, addressing Shinichi directly, "Shinichi-niichan, Agasa-hakase wanted me to ask if you had any of the medication left over from when you were recovering from the allergic reaction you suffered during that incident with the henna tattoos. Although not as severe as yours, his reaction to the henna tattoo he got while out with us yesterday is quite uncomfortable."
Shinichi gave Haibara a funny look, "Why did the Professor get a henna tattoo?"
Haibara shot a look over at the other children, "We came across a vendor at the festival Agasa-hakase took the others and myself to yesterday. Ayumi-chan and the others convinced him to do it, since they usually only last for about a week."
Shinichi gave a wry smile and nodded, "Yes, I still have some left. I will probably still be out and about for a while more today, so feel free to run into the house and grab it. It's in the medicine cabinet in the downstairs bathroom."
"Alright, I'll let him know. Have fun, boys." Haibara turned, gathering the other kids and leading them out of the park.
Kaito blinked and gave Shinichi a slightly confused look.
"Allergic reaction? There was no sign of any allergic reaction! Since when are you allergic to anything?"
Shinichi gave Kaito a funny look, moving to unwrap his arm from around his shoulders.
"You knowing my medical records being kinda creepy aside, until a couple of weeks ago even I was unaware that I was highly allergic to henna, not having come into contact with it previously. Since not attending class due to Kaitou KID's latest bout of juvenile insanity wasn't an option, I asked Agasa-hakase if he could make me something to keep the skin abrasions to a minimum and prevent infection where the skin was lost."
Kaito stared at him, eyes wide. He failed to react as Shinichi finally wiggled out of his hold.
"Thankfully, the abrasions on my face didn't become inflamed and I was able to cover them up. The rest were easily hidden once I replaced my wardrobe."
Shinichi stiffened as Kaito's hands latched on to each side of his face, drawing him closer. Surprised, Shinichi watched Kaito's eyes as they intently studied his face. Realizing the worry Kaito was experiencing, Shinichi's eyes softened, "Don't worry, there's no scarring or anything. I know KID didn't mean for that to happen. It was just a prank gone rather awry."
Kaito pulled away, giving Shinichi a weak smile and said, "Well I guess all plans can't run smoothly."
"Which is something I'm sure you've long since learned, so cheer up. It's strange seeing you moping. Now c'mon, it's about dinner time. Did you want to grab something to eat?"
Kaito perked up, "Ah yes. Would you be willing to come over to dinner at my house?"
Shinichi hesitated, unsure. Sensing Shinichi's uncertainty, Kaito piped up. "Well, you see, my mom really wanted to see you and I promised I'd do my best to drag you back home."
"I promise the food will be really good! And the house isn't too long a walk from here!"
Shinichi sighed, giving up at the other boy's persistence, "Alright."
Kaito beamed at the detective, "Great!"
Shinichi let Kaito lead as he followed him out of the park and towards Kaito's house. After a while of idle chatter Kaito asked, "So Shin-chan, what's up with the backpack?"
"Well actually, since I was planning on being in Ekoda today anyway, I had some stuff I needed to return to-"
Both boys whipped around to see Hakuba exiting the convenience store behind them. Kaito didn't bother to hide his scowl as Shinichi called out, "Hakuba! I was planning on visiting you later today –ah" Shinichi tensed and sent a nervous glance at Kaito, "Um, Kaito, would you mind giving us a moment?"
Kaito sent Shinichi a slight leer, "Surely, Shin-chan, you don't have anything to discuss that can't be said in front of me? We are all friends here after all."
Hakuba sent a glance between Kaito and Shinichi, raised a brow at Kaito and said, "Good evening Kuroba-kun. I trust you met up with Kudou-kun alright? I admit I was concerned about your first meeting being awkward without you having someone to introduce you to each other, but Kudou-kun insisted he could handle it on his own…Everything went well?"
Kaito blinked and shot Hakuba an incredulous look, surprised he wasn't being needled about his night time identity.
"Um, yeah…? Thanks for setting us up."
Hakuba nodded and then turned to Shinichi, who had taken off his backpack and was taking some clothes out of it. Standing up, Shinichi handed the clothes over to Hakuba and said, "Here you go Hakuba. Thank you for lending me your clothes and thanks for your other, uh, assistance as well."
Kaito's eyes focused sharply on Shinichi. "Assistance?"
Shinichi smiled sheepishly, "I was a bit of a mess a while back and Hakuba was kind enough to help me clean up."
Kaito turned his gaze to Hakuba who cleared his throat and said, "I'm not sure if you were aware, but at a heist a few months ago Kaitou KID dropped a bucket full of paint and glitter on Kudou-kun. My house was closest so I offered to let him wash up there since the hose we were going to wash him off with didn't actually work . Unfortunately by the time we got there the paint and glitter had caked on him and he needed assistance getting it out of his hair and off his back."
Kaito swallowed the upset whine that wanted to escape his throat and looked to Shinichi for confirmation. Shinichi nodded and Kaito gave him a strained smile, "Well, I guess it was fortunate that your house was close Hakuba."
Hakuba shot Kaito a funny look and then turned to Shinichi and asked, "So, is your shoulder still hurting at all?"
"Ah no, it's healed up rather nicely, thank you."
Kaito gave Shinichi a concerned look, "Shin-chan, you've been hurt?"
Hakuba shot Kaito a startled look and sent a glance between the two boys before realization dawned in his eyes and he gave Shinichi a pitying look. Shinichi – cheeks turning slightly pink – reached up, scratching the back of his head.
"Well, yeah. But I'm all healed up, really."
Eying the faint blush on the other detective's cheeks, Hakuba silently vowed to himself that it would be best to just stay out of it, and said, "Which is amazing, considering you didn't use the arm brace even though you dislocated your arm. Actually, you are very lucky that it was only dislocated and not broken."
Worried, Kaito asked Shinichi, "Did a case go badly?"
Shinichi's face darkened in embarrassment, "No, nothing like that. Hakuba was helping me move my bed back into my room when I tripped over a cat while going up the stairs. Thankfully we weren't too far up the stairs so when the bed landed on me it only dislocated my arm."
Kaito stared at Shinichi, horrified. Shinichi waved his arms in front of himself, "No, no, I'm alright! I'd just been a bit careless, not watching out for the cats."
"I-I guess you have a lot of cats?"
"Er, no. But at the time they didn't seem to want to leave me alone…"
Hakuba checked his watch and cleared his throat, "Well, it's getting on, so I'll be taking my leave. Good night Kuroba-kun. Kudou-kun, I'll meet with you in front of the University tomorrow at noon, correct?"
Shinichi sighed, "Yes, thank you Hakuba."
The boys parted ways, Hakuba heading off in one direction, Shinichi and Kaito in another. The two boys walked along in silence for a bit before Kaito turned and asked, "So, you're meeting up with Hakuba for class…?"
Shinichi glanced over, "Ah, no…He's insisted on escorting me to my classes. He says that since most of our classes are in the same vicinity it's really no trouble for him."
Startled, Kaito looked at Shinichi and asked, "Escort? What do you need an escort for?"
A flush dusted Shinichi's cheeks. "There was an incident in my German class recently. For some reason a large number of classmates, male and female, are approaching me left and right. The girls want to know how to contact KID while the boys want to spend more time with me….and they don't like no for an answer. For whatever reason, Hakuba walking with me is a deterrent. Hakuba is really nice, helping me out all the time."
Kaito's eye twitched, and he couldn't tell if it was from Shinichi praising Hakuba of all people, or from the disheartening news that perverts were hitting on his Shinichi. And it was all Kaito's own fault! Inwardly seething, Kaito asked Shinichi in a tone that was far too innocent, "Do you want help fixing your pervert problem?"
Shinichi eyed Kaito warily, "…Please don't do any lasting damage."
Kaito smiled brightly, "No lasting damage. Right."
Shinichi felt a moment of concern for his classmates and then he sighed. There was no use trying to dissuade Kaito. The boys chatted idly for a while before they reached a large two story house. It had a fairly large yard and the house looked well taken care of.
Walking up the stone path that led to the front door, Shinichi followed Kaito inside. As the boys took their shoes off and slipped on slippers, Shinichi murmured, "Ojamashimasu." and Kaito called out, "Tadaima, Kaa-san!"
Shinichi heard the faint call of "Okaeri nasai" from further in the house. Following Kaito deeper inside, Shinichi took note of how homey and comfortable the house looked and felt. They found Kaito's mother in the kitchen, stirring a small pot of what smelt like stew on the stove top.
Setting her stir spoon down on the counter, Chikage turned around and beamed at Shinichi, "I'm so glad Kaito was able to persuade you to come, Shinichi-kun. It's very nice to see you again, though it has been a while. Ah, in case you don't remember, I'm Kuroba Chikage."
Shinichi blinked, startled and a bit taken aback at being addressed so familiarly, "It's very nice to, uh, see you again, Kuroba-san. Although I'm afraid I don't..."
The detective stiffened as Chikage stepped forward and pulled him into a hug, "Please, call me Chikage. Oooh it's just so good to see you again."
She pulled back, releasing Shinichi from the hug but still grasping onto his shoulders so she could get a good look at him and exclaimed, "My how you've grown! Though not as tall as my Kaito, I see. Bit thin, too. Are you taking proper care of yourself? Eating enough? Feel free to come over anytime you want a home cooked meal! Ah, how have your parents been? Talk to them lately? I'm afraid it's been a while since I last talked to Yukiko-chan."
Shinichi looked at Chikage, bewildered, before glancing back over at Kaito who looked just as confused.
"Um…yes? Kaa-san called last week. She and Tou-san are in France, filming for her new movie. Chikage-san, how do you know them…?"
Patting Shinichi on the arm and moving back over to the stove, Chikage said, "Oh, how silly of me! Go ahead and sit down at the table boys, and I'll explain."
Kaito and Shinichi sat down at the table in the corner of the large kitchen.
"My husband actually used to be your mother's disguise instructor, Shinichi-kun. It was way back when you two were really little. You were probably so small you don't remember, but you two used to play together all the time years ago."
Kaito and Shinichi stared at each other, more than a little flabbergasted. Neither was sure what to think about the fact that they had been childhood playmates. Chikage turned off the stove and then walked over to the cabinet and took out the bowls and silverware before starting to set the table. Both boys pitched in and helped, putting the dishware in its proper place on the table.
Just as Shinichi finished setting the spoons down, he heard a soft coo and felt something land on his head. Freezing, Shinichi glanced over at Kaito who – Shinichi noticed with a scowl – was snickering at him.
Chikage piped up from behind Shinichi, "Kaito, didn't I tell you to make sure all your doves were locked up so they wouldn't bother Shinichi-kun?"
Kaito let a grin take over his face as he drew closer to Shinichi and stroked the dove atop the other boy's head, "But Houseki-chan gets depressed if she's locked up! You can't honestly expect me to do something so cruel to one of my most helpful assistants?"
Shinichi cleared his throat, feeling uncomfortable at the unfamiliar weight on his head, "Would you mind getting your dove off my head please?"
Kaito gave the detective a shocked look, as if he couldn't imagine why Shinichi would want the dove off, "But Shin-chan, she likes you!"
Sighing, Shinichi slowly reached up to touch the bird on his head. Cautious of being pecked, he hesitantly started to stoke the dove. When it didn't show any signs of being opposed to his touch, Shinichi gently wrapped his hands around it and lifted it off his head. Bringing it down to his chest level, Shinichi looked the dove over while stroking it's head. It was pure white with one small gray colored spot around its left eye. Nuzzling into his hand, the dove cooed again.
Kaito crooned out, "Aw, I told you she liked you, Shin-chan~!"
The corner of Shinichi's mouth quirked up in a slight smile and he murmured, "Houseki-chan, huh? Well, nice to meet you."
Houseki cooed again and then jumped onto Shinichi's left shoulder and pressed into the detective's neck. Chikage walked past Shinichi, setting the final dish on the table – a small bowl of rice, identical to two others. Chikage had already filled the bowls with stew while Shinichi had been acquainting himself with Houseki.
The three sat down at the round dinner table – Chikage to Shinichi's right, Kaito to the left and Houseki still sitting on Shinichi's shoulder. All three chorused "Itadakimasu!" and started in on the meal. Between bites, the two Kurobas engaged in small talk and both enthusiastically dragged Shinichi into the conversation whenever he fell silent for too long. It was nice, Shinichi reflected, enjoying the warm company. He'd felt a little out of place at first but both Kurobas were quick to make him feel like he was part of the family.
Shinichi hadn't sat down and had dinner in this type of comfortable setting since before his parents had moved out of the house when he was fourteen. Even the meals he had had in his two years as Conan with Ran and Mouri couldn't be reflected upon fondly, because he'd been so constantly consumed by taking down the Black Organization. The incessant worry over Haibara finding a cure hadn't been much help either.
Shinichi was broken out of his slightly melancholic musings by a soft nip at his ear. Turning his head to the left to try to get Houseki in his sight, Shinichi instead found Kaito staring at him.
"Shin-chan, even Houseki-chan has noticed you're moping! Do you not care for stew?"
Blushing, Shinichi replied, "Ah, no no – the stew is fine! In fact, it's delicious! I was just thinking it's nice to eat dinner like this – together."
Chikage gave him a motherly smile and said, "It is nice, isn't it? Sometimes it gets so quiet with just Kaito and me."
Shinichi shot her a disbelieving look and her smile widened.
"It's true! Please, feel free to come over anytime Shinichi-kun. Your company is a pleasure and you'll always be welcome. And if Kaito ever makes you angry, come to me and I'll set him straight. Actually, you should probably be aware of this – since you will be dealing with him so much and I know he can come off too strong sometimes – Kaito is deathly afraid of fi-"
"Kaa-san!" Kaito interrupted with a shriek.
Chikage gave her son a sharp look, "What? Don't you think he needs a weapon to defend himself if you get to be too much?"
Kaito made a grimace and whined, "He has enough Kaito-deterrents as is!"
Shinichi looked between the two, a little bewildered. He felt that some of the conversation had gone over his head.
"Um, I'm sure I'll be fine; If Kaito gets to be too annoying I'll just ignore him…"
Chikage gave Shinichi an amused look, "Yes, I'm sure that would be good for him."
Kaito pouted at the two of them, but Chikage ignored him and started working on clearing their finished dishes off the table. Shinichi and Kaito moved to help her but she waved them back down; setting the last of the used dishes in the sink, Chikage walked over to the fridge and pulled out a covered dish. Walking over to the dining table and setting the plate down in the center, Chikage pulled off the silver lid. Kaito brightened, Shinichi paled. On the platter was a chocolate cake, entirely covered in whipped cream. There was a fair amount of chocolate sauce drizzled over the top and it was topped with cherries.
Face turning a little green, Shinichi stood up – disturbing Houseki, who flew up onto the top of the fridge – and walked over to the sink and started to do the dishes. The Kurobas looked at Shinichi and then at each other before they stood up.
"Shinichi-kun, are you alright? You don't have to do those, sweetie."
Shinichi turned towards them and smiled weakly, "Uh, no, I'm fine. Sorry to worry you, it's just whipped cream and chocolate sauce doesn't sit well with me."
Kaito made a strangled, choking noise and his mom sent him a sharp look before Shinichi continued, "I'm sorry, I don't mean to waste your dessert, I'm sure it's delicious…"
Kaito spoke up, "Surely you can't be that adverse to it? Everybody loves whipped cream and chocolate sauce!"
Shinichi grimaced. "I finally caved and got the driver's side seat of my car reupholstered after having it smell of a rather nasty mix of chocolate and spoiled milk for far too long. Believe me, that is not an appealing smell."
Kaito gaped at Shinichi as Chikage gasped and asked, "Oh my! Just how did you get whipped cream and chocolate sauce all over the upholstery in your car?"
Shinichi shrugged, "It was just a prank."
Chikage's eyebrows rose in surprise. Glancing over at Kaito, they went even higher when she saw how chagrined he looked. Giving her son a knowing look, Chikage cleared her throat and then put the cover back over the cake. Picking the platter up, she placed it back in the fridge and then started rummaging through the freezer.
"Ah-ha!" Chikage exclaimed, before turning around with three ice cream bars in her hands. "I hope ice cream doesn't bring up any unpleasant memories?"
Shinichi gave her a grateful smile, "No, ice cream is just fine, thank you."
All three sat back down and continued chatting – Shinichi actively participating this time – as they enjoyed their dessert. Chikage noticed – with more than a little amusement – that Kaito would stutter or almost drop his own ice cream every time Shinichi prevented his ice cream from dripping onto his hand by licking around the base and then up the length of the bar.
It was clear to her that the detective had no idea what he was doing to her son. Which was alright. He would learn in time, she was sure. Chikage thought Kaito's infatuation with Shinichi was adorable. She had no doubt that, given time, Shinichi would develop feelings for Kaito too. After all, it was neigh impossible to resist the charms of a persistent Kuroba. Eyes twinkling in delight, Chikage hid her smile behind what was left of her ice cream bar – she couldn't wait to call Yukiko to tell her about the boys.
As the evening progressed, Chikage shooed the boys off into the living room and started working on tidying up the kitchen. When she finished putting away the leftovers and cleaning dishes, Chikage walked, unnoticed, into the living room to find a college soccer game on the television.
Kaito had seated himself rather close to Shinichi on the couch, although the detective didn't seem to notice, wrapped up as he was in prattling off various soccer rules and factoids to a rapt Kaito. Though Kaito's interest in the conversation may have had more to do with how animated Shinichi was in describing his favorite sport rather than any interest Kaito had in the sport itself. Shinichi had a smile on his face, and his eyes danced with excitement.
No doubt, Kaito thought the detective was stunning.
Shinichi paused in this rambling about one of his favorite players, his brilliantly blue eyes brightening even more as he said, "Actually, I'm on the soccer team at our University. We have a game next weekend – would you like to come and watch it?"
Kaito perked up, grinning at the other boy, "I would love to!"
Shinichi informed Kaito what day and time the game would be and the thief assured him he didn't have anything planned for that day and that he would definitely be there. Little did Shinichi know that even if Kaito had had plans, they would have been canceled – immediately. Oh yes, Kaito was not missing the opportunity to watch Shinichi run around in shorts.
Chikage approached the couch, startling the boys by piping up, "As much as I would love to sit and talk with you more, Shinichi-kun, it's getting rather late."
The detective ignored Kaito's whine of "8:30 isn't late!" and glanced at his wristwatch, taking note with surprise that it was indeed a little past 8:30.
Kaito's mother continued, "Now I don't know how you arrived in Ekoda today, but if you took the train you will have to leave within ten minutes to make the last one back to Beika. Or did you drive, Shinichi-kun?"
Shinichi shot to his feet, "I took the train so I probably should be going – I didn't realize that the trains don't go until 10 o'clock like they do in Beika."
The detective turned to Chikage, giving her a sincere smile, "Thank you very much for dinner, it was delicious and I had a great time.
The older woman smiled warmly at him and said, "It was a pleasure to have you over, Shinichi-kun. Make sure you come back to visit soon, alright? If you don't stop by on your own I'll send Kaito to fetch you!"
Shinichi gave her an amused grin and replied, "I'm sure he'll drag me back over soon enough without your prompting. My guess is about a week."
Kaito huffed, crossing his arms and pretending to look cross, "Well that just shows how little you know me! I'll have you know I fully plan on kidnapping you in three days. Wednesdays are my cooking nights – and I make an excellent strawberry shortcake."
The detective snickered, "I'll have to taste it to believe it."
"Then Wednesday it is," Chikage said, "but you had best leave so you don't miss the train! Kaito, escort him home, will you?"
Kaito beamed, "You don't even have to ask, I was planning on doing it anyway~!"
Bewildered, Shinichi said, "Uh, that's not necessary. Really. I'll be fine on my own."
Chikage patted his arm with a motherly smile, "Nonsense! I'd worry if we left you to go home by yourself. Kaito's told me about the trouble you get into."
Shinichi insisted, "He really doesn't have to bother. I can take care of myself-"
Kaito slid an arm around the back of Shinichi's shoulders and started guiding him toward the door, "Yes yes. You're capable of defending yourself. However, hopefully my exceedingly good luck will overpower your horrendously bad luck and a situation won't arise in which you have to defend yourself."
The other boy interrupted him with a shouted goodbye to his mother as he shepherded Shinichi out the door. Wiggling out from Kaito's arm, Shinichi sent him a put upon look and said, "It really isn't necessary for you to escort me all the way to the station, let alone my house."
Hopping a few steps forward, so he was walking ahead of Shinichi, Kaito spun around and started walking backwards. Eyes locking with the detective's, he said, "Oh but I really think it is necessary. I noticed the only detective gadget you have on you today is your tranquilizer watch. And while I thank you for that, what good is it gonna do you if you miss? Or get mugged by a group of people?"
Shinichi huffed and raised an eyebrow in question, "And I suppose you are going to make that much of a difference if we get mugged?"
The other boy gave him a very familiar sharp grin. Pulling out an equally familiar card gun – from where, Shinichi couldn't quite tell – Kaito said with a hint of steel in his voice, "Oh I rather think I will. I never leave the house without having a few surprises about my person."
Secreting the gun away back where he'd drawn it from, Kaito gave Shinichi a less manic smile, "Besides, this way I get to see where you live! Don't worry, I swear on Hakuba's unwavering obsession with Sherlock Holmes that I am not a creepy stalker."
Shinichi gave the thief a funny look and then snorted, "That's really not something you should be swearing by. But thank you, it's very reassuring."
Kaito beamed at the detective – skillfully avoiding walking into a fire hydrant in his path – and said, "I aim to please."
The rest of the walk to the station, the twenty minute train ride, and fifteen minute walk to Shinichi's house seemed to go by quickly for the two boys – so immersed were they in conversation with each other. Pausing in front of the Kudou mansion, both boys stopped and stared at each other for a few beats.
Shinichi cleared his throat, "See? Nothing untoward happened after all."
Kaito smirked and said smugly, "Ah, but only because I came along. Admit it, if I hadn't been with you you would have gotten detained by some sort of crime."
Shinichi sighed and was glad the darkness of the night hid the faint blush on his face as he said, "Fine, yes, the trip did go a lot more smoothly than most of mine tend to turn out. Happy now?"
Kaito grinned, "Ecstatic."
The thief then stepped forward, taking Shinichi's hand into his own. Taking a sweeping bow, Kaito let his lips brush very lightly against Shinichi's knuckles and said softly, "Adieu, dear Shin-chan. May the sun and planets align so that once more we may meet under such fortuitous -"
The detective snatched his hand back, holding it to his chest as if it were wounded. Scowl masking the darkening blush on his face, Shinichi muttered, "Quit waxing poetic to my hand. You look and sound absolutely ridiculous. Go home and go to bed, Kaito. I'm sure you have classes bright and early tomorrow just like I do. Goodnight."
Shinichi turned and entered the gate in front of his house, back straight and stiff. Giving the detective's back an exceedingly fond smile, Kaito called out, "Goodnight, Shin-chan! Have pleasant dreams~!"
He then stood and watched to make sure that Shinichi entered the house before Kaito turned and made his way back home. It was around 10:40 by the time he got back to the house, but Kaito's mother was still up waiting for him. Walking into the living room, Kaito flopped down onto the couch, sagging into it as if each limb weighed a ton.
His mother, sitting in the armchair to his right, sent him a sharp stare, "I thought I warned you not to traumatize that boy too badly?"
Kaito groaned. Dragging an arm up and letting it fall across his eyes, he whined, "They. All. Backfired! All of my brilliantly beautiful pranks – gone horribly awry!" He then grumbled in a low tone, "Well, I don't know that they all went wrong. But who knows? Maybe someone recorded Shinichi in that blue Renaissance dress and put the video up on YouTube. Now some serial killer that only goes after pretty boys dressed in blue has set his sights on Shinichi because he fits the profile perfectly and -"
The thief cut his own ramblings off and took a deep breath. Leaning forward, he propped up an arm on each knee and then let his chin rest on his conjoined hands. Locking eyes with his mother, Kaito continued in a more reasonable tone, "So. They all backfired. Obviously. Because Shinichi is just so incredibly unlucky and I didn't factor that into my plans so there were no counter-measures to ensure that everything went exactly as I intended. Dammit."
Chikage gave her son a curious look and asked, "So I take it that more than just your Shinichi Sundae prank had unfortunate consequences for Shinichi-kun?"
Kaito let out an aggravated sigh, "Yes. He dislocated his arm trying to get his bed back into his room – which he called Hakuba to help him with. He was allergic to the henna. He has classmates hitting on him left and right – Hakuba is helping him fend them off. And he had to have Hakuba's assistance to get all the paint and glitter off. Hakuba probably saw him shirtless. Hakuba touched his bed."
"Kaito, Hakuba-kun is 120 percent straight. If you tried to bend him he would break. What you should be focusing on is how kind it is of Shinichi-kun to give you a chance to befriend him despite how inconvenient and uncomfortable you've made that poor boy's life these last few months. You should put 100 percent of your effort into making him not regret his decision."
Kaito sat in the silence for a few minutes, stewing, before letting out a little sigh and standing up. Walking over to his mother, Kaito leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead, "Alright. You're right, as usual. Night, Kaa-san."
Chikage gave her son a gentle smile, "Goodnight, Kaito."
Ten minutes later, as she was finishing locking up the house and turning off the lights, she heard a muffled shout of "-ched his bed!" and then a thump as if someone had kicked a door or wall. Chuckling under her breath, Chikage gave a small shake of her head and silently gave her sympathy to Hakuba. She was sure that by tomorrow afternoon his hair would be a brilliant green.
A/N: So I hope everyone enjoyed the chapter! Again, I'm very sorry for how long it took to get this out, but I DO have a life outside of the internet. As much as I would absolutely love to spend all my free time on my computer, I can't. I'm going to try to do my best to get the next chapter out as quick as I can, but I do have to work story writing around my schedule. Also, writer's block is a pain in the butt.