At long last, Conan and Kaito discuss things! Still no real pairings, (Kaito flirts a lot but who knows if he means it) but be warned people, if a pairing does happen it'll likely be KaiShin. Though I do like Aoko and Kaito/Aoko so she absolutely won't be treated like crap.


Kaito was poring over his third attempt at a fake birth certificate when someone knocked at the front door. He abandoned the paper and drying ink and started for the door - then skidded to a stop, turned on his heels, and went to pick up the baby currently crawling on the living room carpet. The baby, seeing him coming, of course did his squirmy little best to disappear under the coffee table. The knock rang again as Kaito was attempting to extricate him without bringing the table along.

"Coming!" he called out, swinging the child up in his arms. Peals of baby laughter rose. Kaito couldn't help laughing along as he jogged to the front door.

"Well, I see you're having fun," Conan commented dryly when he opened it.

Kaito grinned and waved him in, closing the door behind him. "I'm so proud. He's a budding escape artist."

"Of course he would be," Conan replied tiredly as he exchanged his shoes for the guests slippers - a little more tiredly than the quip warranted. Kaito peered at him more closely.

"Tantei-kun?"

Conan waved it off, sighing, and followed him into the living room. "Nothing. Just... Long night."

Kaito could imagine that. Post-heist debriefings already took a while on normal days (he'd attended one or two, just to see - the coffee was good, but it didn't feel sporting to listen to all those "next time let's do it like that instead",) but the Kid Task Force had no doubt shared all the new info they'd uncovered in that last chase with the massive takedown Interpol was leading on Black Org at some point. Interdepartmental investigations being what they were, it must have taken until early morning to coordinate. And Edogawa Conan was involved with both sides of the investigation.

"And after that I went to school."

Ouch.

Conan looked up at Kaito's face, staring just a bit - likely cataloguing the differences he'd only gotten glimpses of in the shadows of that air shaft. Kaito couldn't help but notice the way his gaze kept skidding to the side, though. Chuckling, he bumped his hip into the detective's side, and, before a flailing Conan could get up from the armchair he'd landed on, dumped the baby on his lap.

The baby blinked wide indigo eyes at him. Conan gulped and blinked back.

The baby promptly went for his glasses, a stream of nonsensical-but-happy babble running out of his mouth. Busy trying to make sure the baby didn't pitch off his lap, Conan didn't dare spare a hand to stop him. Kaito cautiously reached out and took the black frames off Conan's face for him.

They stared at each other for another second, Kaito still smiling faintly, Conan tense, almost frazzled.

"We've got to talk," Conan eventually said, and closed his eyes as the baby patted his face with tiny squishy hands.

Kaito made a noise of agreement. "About lots of things. What's going to happen in the future..."

Conan nodded tightly.

"But I think that first we need to talk about the recent past." A pause, as Kaito perched on the edge of the coffee table, Conan's glasses still cradled in his hand. "What's wrong, Tantei-kun?"

He got a quick glare for answer. "Do you want the long list, or the really long list?"

... Okay, he'd deserved that one. "Let's go in order of immediate relevance," he replied, just a little sheepish under his smile.

Conan let out a long, frustrated sigh. "Immediate - alright. How can you be so - so calm about it? The baby?"

Kaito scratched the back of his head and shrugged. "I had all day to freak out. I suspect you were too busy to indulge."

Conan speared him with a sharp, calculating look. "I was. But while suddenly finding myself a father is already -" a pause, as he bit back a word to switch it for another, "disconcerting, I can't help but feel that we still didn't freak out over the same things. So I wonder, Kid."

Kaito hadn't expected it to twinge a little weird, to be called Kid in his own home, wearing his own face - like an accusation. But he couldn't make himself call him Shinichi either. He shrugged, leaned back, smile cooling, and he went "Hm?" even though he had a fairly good guess what Conan was getting at.

"What happened," Conan said. "It was impossible."

Kaito shrugged. "Happened anyway."

"We saw a child - a brand-new, living human being - being created out of thin air." It felt as if Conan would have stood up to pace around the room if the same brand-new human being hadn't been in his lap, weighing him down. "Oh, wait, not air - out of a gemstone." He glared down at the dark-haired little head that dared to flaunt his logic. "Doesn't seem mineral to me."

Apparently bored, the baby wriggled unhappily and attempted to ooze off his lap; Conan's thwarted annoyance morphed into alarm. Kaito quickly leaned forward to pick up the kid and put him safely down on the carpet, though he left a hand on his head to make sure he didn't bump it into the edge of the coffee table.

Conan stared at Kaito's hand curled on that small head, and for a fraction of second the frustrated irritation on his face flickered into lost, exhausted confusion. Kaito looked away. He had a feeling Conan hadn't meant to drop his mask like that.

"If it's impossible, but it happened, then it isn't impossible," Conan said, voice strangely quiet, as he watched the child explore colored lines in the carpet with vigorous pats. "But it defies all logic and science I've ever known. It makes it all fake."

"It doesn't," Kaito interjected, but Conan wasn't about to be interrupted just yet.

"What's more, it makes all of my deductions based on faulty premises."

... And that, apparently, he took as a personal affront. Kaito was torn between amusement and sympathy. "Not necessarily so. Magic-"

Conan flinched at the word, though really they'd been dancing around it anyway. Pretending that this wasn't exactly what they were talking about wasn't going to help.

"Magic's more of the exception that proves the rule. I don't think you've run into a lot of cases where it would have been relevant."

"But even exceptions have rules of their own to follow. And I don't know them."

He lifted his head to stare at Kaito, straight into his eyes. Kaito stared back, fascinated despite himself by his sheer intensity.

"Teach me."

Kaito blinked. "Uh. What?"

Conan huffed and glared harder. "You were surprised at what the gem did. Not at the fact that a hunk of rock could do something. And you're the one calling yourself a magician, aren't you?"

"Yeah, but -" Kaito raked a hand through his hair, sighed. Conan was so stubborn. "It's all stage magic. I've seen the other kind of magic used, but I never did any myself. Never needed it." Conan's disbelieving look made him huff out and - well, not pout, he didn't pout. Or sulk, either. Hrrn. He crossed his arms, lifted his chin, glowered. "Come on, Mr. Critic, you always have such a grand time taking my tricks apart, surely you know that."

"But you - huh."

The strangest look crossed his face. Kaito's brow furrowed. "Huh what?"

"... Alright. Do you know someone else who could teach me, then?"

The Kaitou Kid had been hunted by Detective Edogawa (né Kudo) for the last seven years, and one thing he did know about him by now was that Conan did not let go of a line of inquiry he had sunk his teeth into, not until it was bled dry. He gave him a puzzled look, brow furrowed. "Now what did that mean?"

"That I want someone to teach me." Conan crossed his arms, determined. "Not to actually do magic, mind. I just want to understand the rules."

Kaito was still deliberating whether or not to push for a real answer instead of an evasion when a pile of books crashed to the ground behind him. He was on his knees beside the baby in the next second. The baby looked up at him with a confused little face and then started making alarming snuffling noises.

"Oh no. No, don't cry, come on, it's alright - they didn't fall on you, did they? You're never going to be a good phantom thief if you get scared of loud noises, you know."

"Hey," Conan protested.

"... Or a good detective either. There, that's a good boy." He climbed back up on his feet, cradling the child against his chest. "Which reminds me, we really need a name for him, because I don't think 'hey you' will work on the official paperwork."

Conan sighed and padded to them to peer at the sniffling baby. He distracted him from his fright with a cautious - very cautious - little tickle to his cheek. Kaito tried not to smile and failed. Cute.

"Believe it or not, this is one of the issues I didn't fret over much. They're at least easily solvable."

"Yeah," Kaito answered blithely, "we just have to agree on something."

"... I take it back. I'm worrying now."

Kaito laughed, though he'd baited Conan hoping for exactly that answer. Conan gave a wry, knowing smirk, and followed when Kaito sank into the couch, the detective perching at the edge of the cushion to watch the two of them.

Out of all co-parents he could have been saddled with, Kaito was really glad he'd gotten Conan. He couldn't even imagine what it would be like if the child was half-Shiratori, or half-Nakamori-keibu...

"Alright, what's so funny?"

"Baby mustache," he snickered between two guffaws.

Conan looked sorry he had asked. "Never mind. Before we dive headfirst in baby naming books, there's the previous issue..."

Kaito sobered up. Conan was no fun.

Then again if he thought too much about making a child with Nakamori-keibu, one who'd be Aoko's half-brother, he'd start thinking about how he was never going to have one with Aoko herself either way, and that - yeah. Change of topic. Good idea.

He capitulated. "Yeah, yeah, I know someone. I'll give her a call, see what she says. But fair warning, she's... just don't piss her off, okay?"

Introducing Conan to Akako. Ancestors above, but this had the potential of erasing Japan from the map. He wouldn't miss it for the world.

"Good," muttered Conan as he leaned back into the cushions. "One worry I can strike off the immediate list. Next item..."

Kaito nudged him with his knee. "Anyone tell you that you worry too much?"

"It's called 'planning' and 'being ready'. Don't tell me you don't know what that is. The way your heists go, I wouldn't believe you."

"Sure, but there's planning time, and then there's improvisation time." A pause. "I do like improvisation time."

Conan nudged him back, not too gently. "Yeah, and that time isn't now." He cautiously touched the child's head, smoothing down wisps of dark hair. "How old is he supposed to be, anyway?"

"No idea. Almost verbal, but that covers a lot of ground - he could be nine months old or he could be fourteen. Not walking yet, but he'll grab your fingers and toddle along for a little bit..."

"And that doesn't help either." Conan's brow furrowed in thought. "I'm sure they have graphs online, we should be able to narrow it down. Infant milestones, height-weight charts..."

"Or we could just decide that yesterday was his first birthday." Kaito chuckled at Conan's mildly offended look. What, not research it to death first? Gasp. "He could be one year old, and if he doesn't fit perfectly in the population average, all the better."

"Fine, fine." Conan sighed. "Back to the name issue..."

"Well. He'll be a Kuroba - pretty much has to be, I don't know how I'd explain him being a Kudo or an Edogawa. So... You can choose the first name," Kaito said, with great magnanimity.

Conan grumbled. "You just can't think of anything on your own."

"Hey, it's a heavy burden, okay? Could influence his whole life. Unlike his birth date."

"I'm surprised you don't believe in astrology."

Kaito coughed in his fist. "... Besides yesterday was an auspicious day anyway."

"Hah!"

The baby threw his hands in the air at Conan's vindicated exclamation. Kaito burst out laughing. The baby trilled out a laugh of his own. He was starting to bounce on his lap, suddenly excited and wriggly, making even Conan chuckle.

"He's going to be a handful. I don't feel so bad anymore about letting you go," Conan said, wry and amused. "Looks like he'll keep you too busy to steal so much as a minute for yourself."

Kaito's sidelong glare only made him smirk wider.

"Anyway. His name."

Conan paused there, sobering up, and Kaito watched him with an eyebrow arched, waiting for an explanation.

"...What was the first Kid's name?"

"Ah." Kaito had to look away for a minute. Crazy as it was - he'd been eight year old back then; he was twenty-three - reminders still had a way of catching him under the ribs like a good sucker punch.

Naming his son for his father, even partly - yes. He wanted that. As the baby squirmed his way down the couch, he found a loose sheet of paper on the coffee table and drew his father's two kanji. "Toichi," he read out, so Conan would know how it was meant to sound.

"Ah, we have a kanji in common," Conan said, said, pointing to 'ichi' - the simple horizontal line that meant 'one' or 'first' or 'best'. He sounded weirdly strangled, though; Kaito peered at him.

"Hm?"

Conan avoided his eyes. "... That's a good kanji to have in a name. Basic. Solid. Kind of ... simple, but proud. Don't you think so?"

"Conan. Tantei-kun. Kudo."

Conan held out another three seconds under Kaito's long, expectant stare.

"...Also I'm not writing my child's name with a kanji that means 'thief'! I can't believe your predecessor had it in his own, did he get it changed for irony's sake?"

Kaito had wondered too, back in the day, yet hearing it like that, with such disbelief, it stung a bit.

"I figure it was just destiny," he replied, and didn't quite manage to sound casual.

The baby was fussing again. He peered at him, trying to guess the issue.

"He's bored. Just put him down on the carpet."

Kaito followed Conan's advice without a word.

Conan shifted beside him until their poses mirrored each other, elbows on their knees, hands linked, and Kaito briefly wondered if Conan was also staring blankly at the child, who played with an empty plastic bottle and didn't pay either of them any attention.

"Sorry. I'm..." Conan paused, briefly. "Not in the best headspace at the moment."

Kaito sneaked him a glance, Conan was still staring ahead, grim and broody. "That's understandable-"

"So," he interrupted. "I'm sorry. Didn't notice you weren't either."

Kaito blinked at him.

"You play the happy-go-lucky enthusiast too damn well," Conan groused.

"I am nothing if not a showman, Tantei-kun," slipped out of his mouth smooth and smug, automatic. He winced the next second, mask falling. "I'm... not entirely pretending. I am happy. It's done, it's over, they're falling like a house of cards. And I'm free, and I have - heh. Babies are good for the soul, I guess. No, hey, don't eat that!"

He picked up the little brat hurriedly. Conan leaned in and slipped a finger past his gums to get the bottle cap out, eyes a little wide, a little alarmed.

"Aw, hell." Kaito winced as the baby wailed a protest. "I really need to figure out how to childproof the house."

Conan threw the damp cap in the wastebasket, and moved the wastebasket to the coffee table, safely out of reach. "You need a baby pen."

"A baby prison? Cruel!"

"It'll be good practice for his daring escapes," Conan said with affected weariness. "Give you a taste of what the other side has to deal with."

Kaito chuckled, a real spark of amusement. "How awful, I've become the Establishment."

"Heh. You'll forgive me if I don't commiserate too hard."

Kaito let the wriggling baby cross the divide to Conan's lap as revenge.

Conan went tense all over, half fascination and half nerves, arms going up stiffly to make sure the baby didn't tumble down. Kaito tilted his head and peered at him. Funny how calm and controlled his movements were when taking out that cap out of the baby's mouth, and yet the second he had to hold him on his lap...

"I don't think I've seen you nervous before." A thoughtful pause. Well, not in the field. In more personal situations, though... "Apart from the times I was impersonating you around Mouri-chan, that is."

"Oh, shut up." A sigh, as Conan relaxed cautiously, staring down at the tiny hand pressed into his palm. "I'm not nervous," he said quietly.

His eyes screamed it, utterly incredulous; how could anything - anyone - be so small, so frail, so easily breakable?

"I'm... To be frank, I'm-"

Terrified. "Yeah," Kaito agreed quietly, before Conan managed to make himself say it out loud.

"It's not that I'm not used to my life plans suddenly being made obsolete by now, but..." Conan closed his eyes briefly. "One of my cases ending badly, I expected. Getting shot or shoved off a skyscraper or buried alive in a tomb, yes, okay..."

Kaito couldn't help but let out a short burst of laughter. Conan gave him a wry half-smirk.

"Of course deep down like all stupid teenagers I never fully believed it would happen to me, but it was still on the list of possibilities. Poisoned, forced undercover - alright, so the part where I was turned into a kid was a little more out there than what I was expecting, but..."

"That's because you have no imagination, Tantei-kun." Conan inched a little closer and elbowed him. Kaito rubbed his side with a wounded expression, and kept going. "No artistry. No soul-"

"Oh, I'll show you my soul. Don't forget I know where you sleep now."

Kaito gave him a positively shocked look, while laughing himself breathless inside. "Why, Tantei-kun, I didn't think our acquaintance had progressed quite that far yet. Then again, we do have a little family of our own already..."

The stare Conan sent him then was no doubt trying to convey his impending doom if he dared to keep going in that vein, but what it conveyed was mostly the kind of wild-eyed panic that always looked to him like an invitation.

" ... That was putting the cart before the horse, wasn't it," he said, and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

Conan huffed his annoyance, the tip of his ears going red. "You're assuming there's going to be a cart. Or a horse."

Kaito opened his mouth.

"And no jokes about your - proportions."

"Tantei-kun!" he replied, mock-offended. "I would never... be that predictable."

Conan managed to glare darkly for another two seconds, after which his lips quirked up, and no matter how tightly he pinched them together, he was snickering in very short order. Kaito grinned, pleased.

It was nice that his co-parent could appreciate his sense of humor. Because otherwise he'd probably drive said parent to murder, and Tantei-kun had in his head the unabridged Encyclopedia Britannica of How To Get Away With It, illustrated.

"It's not where I expected to be either," Kaito admitted quietly, after the laughter had died down and the smiles faded. "I can't say that I mind, though. It's..."

He paused to gather his thoughts, find words that fit them. It was important that Conan - Shinichi - get it. It was alright if no one really did, but Shinichi...

"I didn't mind that I'd be going to prison. It would have been a fitting price. I... minded about the people I'd hurt... disappoint... the life I'd leave behind... but those were necessary sacrifices. It's not a worthwhile sacrifice if it isn't a loss, if it doesn't hurt." He stared down at his hands. "It's a hurt I caused to myself, though, not like the one they forced on me. Cleansing, in a way."

He blinked, chuckled, trying to find distancing humor again. Strange mood. A bit too bare, too deep.

Conan was watching him, and he looked like he understood.

"... Anyway. For me, this still marks the start of a new life, because I'd given up the old one the night I became the Kaitou Kid. I was just... delaying letting go. It was going to end yesterday, no matter what. But I understand none of it was a choice for you and your circumstances are very different, so-"

"I'll babysit," Conan interrupted him. "I can do that much, even like this."

Babysitting wasn't the same as parenting, but Kaito couldn't realistically expect a lot of guys his age to be as family-oriented as he was, especially ones in Kudo's situation, and even divorced couples had at least the benefit of having been involved with each other beforehand; it had to be awkward to raise children together with mere acquaintances. "He's a little younger than your Shounen Tantei were, but I suppose that's still valuable experience for the position," he allowed, covering up disappointment. A mock-thoughtful pause. "Although, considering what you guys got up to, maybe I should be worried."

Conan snorted. "This one, I can pick up and drag out of trouble."

"Yeah?" Kaito gave the wriggly bottom disappearing at the corner of the couch a pointed look.

Swearing, Conan hit the carpet and crawled after him under the catch-all table.

Kaito grinned and reclined in the couch. "Ahh, it's so lucky you were the one who caught up with me yesterday after all. You're just the right size to follow him in his boltholes. What would I do without a pocket-sized co-parent?"

"I'm not sure," Conan grunted back, "but it would likely involve a lot more tracking doves and silly putty traps than the other housewives."

Kaito was entertained enough by the idea of training his doves to herd people into silly putty traps that it took him a second to catch the rest.

"... Touché, tinytantei. Touché." He draped himself over the arm of the couch, peering through the gap between it and the table. Conan was attempting to tickle the baby into letting go of one of the legs. "So if I am the housewife, does that make you the breadwinner? Going out every day and braving the big bad business world, only to come home to those closest to his heart... Oh, my strong little salaryman."

Conan craned his neck so he could glare at him through the gap, and promptly got kitten-thwapped in the chin by a delighted baby.

"Alas so far we are nothing but struggling young mother and her babydaddy. When, but when will you put a ring on my finger?"

"If you really insist on a 'chained to you' symbolism, I've got this pair of handcuffs..."

Kaito snickered, and pretended he hadn't seen Conan's very entertaining shudder at the 'babydaddy' mention. "Mm. Kinky."

Conan crawled out, cradling the squirming child against his chest, and sat heavily on the floor, mock-glowering at the dark little head. Not that the baby cared, fascinated by the red of his socks.

"... We'll have to work out a way to share the expenses," he said, growing pensive. "Though I'm not sure how to explain babysitting to complement my allowance and yet never having anything to show for it."

Kaito shrugged, still draped over the arm of the couch and starting to ooze across the table. "I do have a job of my own. Pays well, too. You're off the hook for a few years."

"Huh. A day job?"

"Yep. A legal one, even."

Conan looked curious, so Kaito told him.

"... You're kidding me."

"Nope."

"You're kidding me. You're a freelance security consultant? That's -" He stopped talking, making a weird grimace halfway between exasperated disgust and reluctant admiration. "... That sounds pretty appropriate, actually. If you can't break in, no one can."

Kaito raked a hand through his hair and threw Conan a winning smile. "Please feel free to flatter me more."

"... Stop preening already."

"Ababapbbphththt. Aaaaaee! Ee."

"Truly?" Kaito inquired, regarding the baby with all due seriousness.

Another very determined squeal. The baby was tugging Conan's decorative pants laces free of their eyelets.

"Papa, you should know that laces and ropes are the tools of the oppressor," Kaito translated diligently. Conan rolled his eyes at him.

"Nuuu-EH!"

"Victory! Victory shall be ours, comrades! Throw off these shackles and be free!"

"You're a total loon, you know that, right?"

"Us Kuroba are like that." Kaito gave a sad, sad nod. "You know, in case you felt seized by the need to marry into the family, I swear it's not contagious." A pause, a look of slowly mounting doubt... "I mean, I'm pretty sure mom was already..."

"Oh god, stop it. You're ridiculous." But Conan was laughing, as hard as he tried not to. The baby looked up at his face and squeaked happily, and dragged himself up on wobbly legs with little hands gripping his shirt. Conan kept him steady, his hands going around his back, eyes softening. "Hey there. You'll be walking pretty soon, won't you. We should probably bell you before it's too late."

"Eiiiii. DaadadadaNNN."

"Father, I am offended that you might suggest such a thing, but your nose looks delicious, so I shall forgive you. Om nom nom."

Conan cracked up again. Kaito grinned a little wider. "Damn it, you're dangerous. Stop making me laugh! There's all those - okay, and you stop slobbering on me - all those things to figure out - ow, ow, claws, cannibal-"

Kaito decided to be generous; he got up from his seat and picked up the baby from behind, where his sharp little nails couldn't reach no matter how hard he flailed. "You thought I was joking. Who's laughing now? - Oh, hey, cannibal. That'd make a fine name."

"Right! Let me think about - no."

Chuckling, Kaito sat on the floor, and released the hound. The baby was really excited by now, trilling and waving his hands everywhere. He watched him for a long moment, unable to stop smiling.

Conan wasn't smiling, anymore. It had melted away, into... Kaito wasn't sure, worry or melancholy or something else. He sobered up, brow furrowing in question.

"I don't think I compartmentalize as well as you do," Conan said abruptly - not like an accusation, though, more of an assessment, one that wasn't entirely in his own favor.

"... Because I'm laughing?"

"Mnh." Conan speared him with one of his penetrating looks. "You're still not alright, aren't you. You just... Not pretend, it's not the right word." He gestured vaguely, somewhat like throwing something inconsequential over his shoulder. "Never mind. You're having fun. You were having fun during the heists too. But you were still angry."

He must have read something in Kaito's face, even though the poker face had slammed down without conscious input.

"No, it's the other way around. You were angry, but you had fun anyway."

"Where are you going with this, Tantei-kun?"

"... Sorry. I like to analyze. Sometimes it gets away from me." A deep breath. "I'm still upset. It's not the baby. I don't know what the hell we must be thinking to keep him - an ex-international jewel thief and a de-aged amateur detective, both male, not even involved, that is so not a stable, normal household - but it's not that either. That we can fix, or deal with, whatever. It's... just an easier thing to be upset about."

Kaito blinked, once, twice. The honesty in his words was so raw, so open it made Kaito uncomfortable in turn; but it was a gift, too, one he couldn't turn away without making it an insult, without breaking the fragile rapport they had built.

"...Tell me."

"It's nothing you couldn't figure out, I'm sure." Conan gave a deprecating laugh. "It's stupid, but subconsciously I think I believed that once they were gone I could just go and take my old life back. Everything would just fall into place. I'd win, and I'd get myself back as a prize."

Kaito didn't say anything. He just listened, petting the baby to calm him down, keep him from interrupting.

"I should at least be happy because the Black Org is going down." Conan leaned forward, elbows on his knees, massaged his temples in long, hard circles. "I'm not happy. Vindicated at best."

"Revenge will do that," Kaito replied quietly. "It's not a nice form of satisfaction."

Conan grunted his agreement, fingers still pressing on his skull as if desperately trying to relax a tension that wasn't physical in the first place. "I guess. There's that. But it doesn't make Haibara magically figure out a cure. She's been looking for seven years," he added, and bit down on the rest of his words, though Kaito knew where the chain of logic ended. Maybe she hadn't found it because it wasn't possible, would never be.

They sat in silence for a little bit longer. The baby was making nonsensical noises as he investigated Conan's laces once again.

"I still don't feel that it's really over. Because it's not over. I'm still -" He waved at his own body. "And you." He glared at Kaito, taking him by surprise; after a second Kaito determined that the glare wasn't entirely serious, but still peeved enough. "I spend ages and ages - years! - amassing info and coordinating people behind the scenes, and then you breeze in toward the end and provide the missing links, meanwhile I'm punted off the official Org investigation because it's too dangerous for a kid, and then afterwards I can't even go around looking for small fry because I have friggin' school."

Kaito bit his lip to keep from laughing, and then laughed a little anyway, though it was more rueful and sympathetic than amused. "I doubt our esteemed friends at Interpol managed to run such a well-coordinated assault that none of them slipped the net. You'll have work for a while yet."

"Haa... yeah." Conan leaned back on his hands, relaxing enough to flick him a poor half-smile. "Listen to me. I swear it's the teenage hormones. Soon I'll be singing that no one understands the pain I'm in." He managed a faint smirk when Kaito chuckled at the poor joke.

"Oh, Tantei-kun, I'm sure you have a very pretty singing v-"

"I don't," Conan interrupted, grimacing. "I really, really don't. Don't make me prove it to you if you don't want your pigeons to drop dead on the spot."

"... I'll remember not to challenge you on that point."

They didn't laugh, just exchanged a smile - a weird one, small, almost tentative. No masks, no distracting humor. Just 'hey, here I am. I kinda think maybe I can trust you.' Kaito thought he liked that. It had him quietly terrified, but it was nice, too - not comfortable, but good anyway.

"So." Conan broke eye contact, scratched his neck. "... We can use the Tou kanji if you wanna."

-oh. For the name. Kaito's little smile grew; he had to look away too. "Heh. Nah, it's okay. It's neat that both of you share that Ichi, so let's go with that. Ichiro?"

"First son?" Conan retorted a beat too late, though the quirked eyebrow looked casual enough. "Are you planning on us having more anytime soon?"

"There's a joke here about sparing my girlish figure..." At Conan's mock-tired look, he relented, though his voice stayed light and ironic. "Anyway. Junichi, Kenichi, Kouichi... Hm. Kuroba Kenichi doesn't sound so great."

Conan shrugged. "We want a name that sounds normal, right? Not Akuma or Tenshimaru or something ridiculous like that, but apart from that? Might as well choose from the phone book."

Kaito mock-glared.

"Alright, maybe a baby naming site."

Conan was almost thwapped in the face when the baby suddenly managed to yank the lace free and it whipped up. "Eeeeeeeiiii! Iiiiii! Aiinnnhgah. Eiiii."

"Pff. I triumph! My rightful prey -"

"Shyeah right. He sounds like a boiling teapot -" And suddenly, the 'aha!' look. "Ei-chan?"

The baby turned his head to look at Conan. Probably a coincidence. Probably just the tone of his voice.

"Eiiii-chan?" Kaito repeated, testing. The baby turned his way and waved his hands up, lace and all. Kaito started grinning.

"Eiichi? Huh, why not. "

"Which kanji for 'ei'?" Kaito slid the dictionary off the table, propped the heavy weight on his knee, and started turning pages. "'England' - no. 'Flourishing', that's banal. 'Pride' too. 'Swim' - hahaha no."

"Why not?"

Yeah, like he was going to mention the scaly horrors. He might trust Conan with his freedom and his son, but not his fragile, fragile soul. "No reason." He flipped several pages in quick succession to cut off that line of conversation. "Aha! I bet you were thinking either 'intelligence' or 'cleverness.' Tssk. Hoping he'll follow in your footsteps, Tantei-kun?"

Conan heaved a long sigh and shifted closer, so he could see the kanji dictionary too. Kaito obligingly angled it, and allowed Conan to wrangled curious little hands away from thin paper.

"Heh! This one means sparkle-of-jewelry, or crystal. Considering how he was born it's kind of perfect."

"Also likely to get him teased to within an inch of his life." Kaito made a dispirited face; Conan relented. "...Keep it for private use. We don't want to risk someone who shouldn't to read too much into it."

"... Good point. So, clever or intelligent... The two really are rather different when you think about it."

"Clever."

Kaito grinned at Conan's quick reply, which just so happened to be the same as his own. "Definitely clever. If we're going to curse him with awesome just from being born we might as well do it right. And cleverness gets you into a lot more messes than just simple boring intelligence."

"If you're lucky it even gets you out."

They were going to make an awesome comic duo. By the time the kid was old enough to understand sarcasm they might have this thing smooth and practiced enough to get him to explode from sheer embarrassment with a single quirk of the eyebrow.

If he explained the reason of his shark grin to Conan before he wore him down a bit more, though, the detective was liable to run off with the kid in the mistaken notion that he was doing little Ei-chan a favor by rescuing him. Who needed sanity, seriously.

The baby belly-flopped on the dictionary. Pages crunched. Conan rolled his eyes and pulled it free, so that the baby ended up wedged between them; he of course immediately started whining and trying to crawl backward out of that devious trap. Kaito snickered.

"So. At last, he is named." He rested his hand on his head, ruffling up that fine dark hair until the Conan-like cowlick was lost in a mass of Kaito-spikes. "Kuroba Eiichi."

Conan elbowed his arm aside and smoothed it back down, sneaking Kaito a haughty sidelong look. "If his track record is anything like ours I bet you by the time he's sixteen we'll all be calling him something else."

Kaito gave a long, philosophical sigh, and propped his elbow on Conan's shoulder. "By that time hopefully he'll have learned to forge his own papers."