Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan/Case Closed.
Summary: Being on the run while working at the same time to bring down a powerful, criminal syndicate could have been miserable, only Kaitou KID didn't do miserable. Four heads were a lot more interesting if not always necessarily better than one, and that was only just the beginning.
Status: Part 12 of 12
Pairing(s): Kaito x Shinichi centric, minor Hakuba x Ran and hints of Heiji x Kazuha
Countdown to Forever
By V. Shalyr
Immortality of a Different Kind
Shinichi woke late on the last day of December shrouded in a warm, lazy haze of comfort. Even with his eyes closed, he could feel the sunlight falling through the crack in the curtains and the cheerful twitter of birds could be made out even through the glass. Kaito mumbled something from beside him and pulled him closer with the arm draped about his waist.
"Hey, you awake?"
"Mm, more or less."
The two fell silent, content in the knowledge that, for once, they had nothing they had to do. Well, not in terms of work at any rate.
"So the party was going to start at what, five?"
"Yup, at Hakuba's house."
"Really? I can't believe he actually agreed to have a party at his house with you on the guest list."
"Who knows? Ran sent the invitations. Maybe he didn't agree."
"Doesn't know, you mean."
Sighing, Shinichi sat up and stretched. "I guess we should get up then, figure out what we can bring over. We might have to go shopping if my memory of what's left in our fridge is correct."
"It probably is," Kaito agreed, propping himself on one elbow to watch as Shinichi grabbed a change of clothes from the closet and headed for the bathroom. Stifling a small yawn, he slid a little reluctantly from beneath the warm covers and moved to join him.
Shinichi eyed Kaito nervously over his shoulder. "Why are you following me?" Into the bathroom? Not that it hadn't happened before, just not usually in the morning.
"It's New Year's Eve," Kaito said by way of an explanation—which, by the way, Shinichi found completely inadequate.
"So?" From past experience, when Kaito followed him into the shower, he was usually more interested in pinning the detective to the wall than showering.
"That means you're not leaving my side for any amount of time between now and midnight tomorrow."
"Well, they say that what you do around the New Year affects what happens to you for the next twelve months, right? So seeing as my good luck tends to trump your bad luck, if we can manage to avoid any murders for these two days, you might have a lot less work next year."
Shinichi regarded him warily for a moment longer, but looked away when Kaito ignored him and began to undress. Moving as far away from the magician as space would allow, he hurriedly started to do the same before Kaito could decide that he'd like to do it for him. Watching out of the corner of his eyes, Kaito couldn't help but grin. It was just so amusing how Shinichi could still get embarrassed. He wondered if his poor detective knew how hard it was to resist when he got all flustered.
They had both made it under the warm spray of water before Shinichi felt a finger trace down his bare spine. He jumped and glared back around at Kaito. "I thought you said you were just here to keep me company."
"Oh, did I say that?"
Hakuba opened the door, stared at the two people on his doorstep then promptly shut the door again, telling himself that he'd just hallucinated the whole thing.
"Who was it?" Ran demanded, appearing in the entrance hall with her phone still in her hand.
"No one," Hakuba said hopefully.
Ran raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at the way he had his back pressed against the door as though trying to prevent something from getting in. "Really?"
"…You invited Kuroba," he mumbled finally, lost in his own world of dismay, "to my house."
"Well, of course. He and Shinichi are good friends of ours after all. You couldn't expect me not to invite them."
"But—but to my house."
"Which is where the party is, yes. I thought you guys had gotten over all that. And if not, I'm sure he won't do anything to your house that we can't get him to fix later. Anyways, Kaito-kun really makes the life and soul of the party when he's around."
Hakuba stared at her in horror, but couldn't quite seem to find the right words to explain exactly why you didn't want Kaito being the life and soul at your party.
And anyways, it was too late as the lock behind him clicked and Kaito let Shinichi and himself in.
"How rude, trying to lock us out like that! And after we came all this way!"
Hakuba glared at the former thief, but refrained from retorting as Ran hurried forward to greet the newcomers with a warm smile and a steely glint in her eyes.
"So how are you two?"
Soon after that, everyone else began to arrive—first Aoko then Kazuha with Heiji in tow looking oddly nervous. Shinichi noted this with distracted interest while he tried not to laugh at Kaito who was trying to hide behind him from Sonoko, who had become almost as big a fan of the magician Kuroba Kaito as she had been of Kaitou KID. Shinichi rather thought that she needed someone to be obsessed about, and with KID no longer going on heists, she'd needed somewhere else to direct her obsessive, fan energy.
"Shinichi, did you make this?"
Shinichi looked around to find Ran examining the elaborate, white-frosting and fruit creation that was the cake he and Kaito had brought for the party. "Ah, no, Kaito bought it. I was going to make something, but we didn't really have anything at home and we never got around to going grocery shopping."
"You two have been busy with work and everything. Dad was talking about it the other day when he got back from the station."
Shinichi grimaced. "Nothing good, I'll bet."
"Hey! There were good things too."
"Yeah, only your Dad can make compliments sound like insults."
Ran scowled. "He's changed a lot, you know."
"I know." Shinichi sighed. "Sorry, that wasn't very nice of me."
She glared at him a moment longer then looked back down at the cake. "Oh well, it is mostly complaining so I guess I shouldn't say anything. Still, I think he learned a lot from you when you were Conan and I'm grateful about that."
"It's good," she added, taking another bite of the slice on her plate. "Where'd he get it?"
"You know, I'm not sure."
Ran giggled. "You two are hilarious, you know that?"
"I don't know whether to take that as an insult or a compliment," Shinichi muttered, scowling a little halfheartedly. "So… You and Hakuba are…?"
"Something wrong with that?"
"No. Hakuba's a good guy. I just didn't think you'd end up with a detective after everything that's happened."
"Yeah, me neither." Ran glanced thoughtfully across the room at Hakuba, who was well on his way to throwing a fit at having the walls of his living room repainted. "But, as you said, he's a good guy. And you know, he's almost always been on time when we decide to go out somewhere. And when he's held up by a case, he always calls. It's…refreshing, if a bit of a surprise."
Shinichi winced. "Sorry."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it that way! And besides, I think everything worked out for the best."
And she meant it, Shinichi knew, just as he knew deep down that he agreed. He smiled faintly as Kaito vaulted over the sofa, cackling like a madman. Missing meetings with Kaito was never a problem. Whenever Shinichi failed to show up on time for an appointment with him, the magician promptly came to fetch him. And no matter where the detective was, even if it was down in the bowels of a not-so-abandoned building slated for demolition, he always managed to find him. And, well, when you knew Kaito as well as he now did, finding the magician in return was seldom a problem either.
His train of thought was interrupted as Ran murmured under her breath, "Do you think he's asked her yet?"
Bewildered, Shinichi turned to regard her curiously. "What are you talking about?"
"Oh, you didn't know?" She smiled brightly and dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "Hattori-kun's planning to ask Kazuha to marry him!"
Shinichi thought failing to ask would have been a better description at the moment.
"I can't do it."
Hakuba raised his eyebrows, folding his arms across his chest. "What happened? You never hesitate this long for anything."
Heiji glowered at him.
The blonde rolled his eyes. "I was meaning it as encouragement."
"Well, it wasn't encouraging."
"You're just going to get more nervous the longer you wait," Shinichi pointed out.
"And worse," Hakuba added. "You aren't the only ones Ran invited. We get the early night to ourselves, but then Mouri-san, your parents," he nodded at Shinichi, "Kuroba's mother, Takagi-keiji, Satou-keiji, Nakamouri-keibu, and everyone else will be joining us. If you're embarrassed now with just us, imagine how embarrassed you're going to be if you have to propose in front of the parents and half the Beika and Ekoda police forces."
When Heiji continued to remain silent—probably shocked into horrified speechlessness at that thought—Kaito shook his head and stood up from the chair he'd been lounging in while listening to the conversation.
"Hey, Toyama-san," he called cheerfully across the room, "Hattori here has something he wanted to ask you!"
The Osaka detective jerked around to give him a slightly panicked look. "What are you doing?"
"What I do best—helping things happen."
Dropping down into Kaito's vacated chair, Shinichi hid a grin as he and everyone else watched a confused Kazuha approach. Two years since the four of them had returned home, two years since the Organization fell and three months since Snake had finally joined them, bringing them all together at such a moment. And as Heiji stammered out his question almost too fast to understand and thrust the ring into her hands, and Kazuha stared in shock for a second before bursting into tears and throwing her arms around him… Well, it was amazing how many things could happen in two years.
"You idiot, what took you so long?"
After that, the evening devolved into random chatter and games for whoever felt like playing. And as various members of the older guests arrived, they'd join in or migrate towards the food.
The first time Kaito had played cards at one of the department socials, he'd won twenty consecutive games before Shinichi noticed and arrived from the refreshment tables to stop him. After that, none of them would let the magician play unless someone else handled his cards. It wasn't fair, Kaito had protested, but as it did free up his hands for other, more interesting things, those complaints were short-lived.
Needless to say, they didn't end up playing cards very often. Though Shinichi made an exception for today since it was New Year's Eve, and handled the magician's cards until his mother arrived and he got up to greet her.
After he'd gone, Hakuba raised an eyebrow at Shinichi. "Kuroba seems…different."
Though he couldn't seem to put his finger on why.
Shinichi shrugged, accepting the cards Aoko dealt out and glancing through them. "Not really, just a weird combination of relaxed and excited. I guess he's still getting used to the idea of having the rest of his life ahead of him."
"You too, I would say."
Shinichi paused, his gaze going unfocused for just a moment. "Yeah, I guess you're right. But I suppose that's just how it is when you finish with a case so big it literally changed your life forever." Looking back at his fellow detective, he asked, "And you? What are your plans?"
"Well… KID was a large part of the reason I came to Japan originally, and now that he's retired, I thought maybe I'd head back to England for awhile. Ran's thinking about studying abroad there, so I promised to take her with me for a private tour. After that, I don't know. I suppose it'll be back to business as usual."
"For as long as it lasts," Shinichi mused, half talking to himself. It didn't really seem likely that this peace they had found would last forever. They weren't the kinds of people whose interests and occupations could keep things that way for long. But for as long as it did last, they would all sure as hell do their best to enjoy it. There was a lot more to life than crimes and mystery and justice. It might have been a hard lesson to learn at times, but they'd learned it and they wouldn't forget.
When Ran and Sonoko set up the karaoke, Shinichi scooted back into a far corner so as to avoid any misguided requests for him to take a turn upon the stage. A hand suddenly closed around his and Shinichi looked up to find Kaito watching him intently. When he saw that he had his attention, the magician inclined his head towards the door.
Amidst the laughter and the cheer, no one noticed the two young men slip away.
"You know, people are going to notice if you keep wearing that out."
Kaito grinned, the light from the city spread out below them glinting off the lens of his monocle. "It's good for people to see me once in a while. To the world, the Phantom Thief KID will always soar the skies at night, the mysterious and uncatchable master magician thief, performer of the impossible, tantalizing the imagination and making people wonder when he will strike again."
"Still as arrogant as ever," Shinichi snorted, but he seemed more amused than annoyed. "Your own special brand of immortality."
"You could put it that way," Kaito agreed, folding his arms behind his head, "the good kind—the only kind that keeps the dreams coming."
The two of them stood at the top of the Ekoda clock tower where they had technically first met, though neither of them had even know the other's name then. That particular tower had proved to be the site of a lot of first times, really. The first time they met, the first time they had watched the New Year's fireworks together—and the second time, and likely many more times to come.
"So do you have any New Year's resolutions?" Kaito asked casually.
"I guess I'm still thinking about it." Shinichi shrugged. "To try something new, maybe."
"Something new," Kaito mused, tugging at the brim of his white top hat. "Sounds good to me. Maybe you should try writing a story. You've certainly got more than enough material."
"Hmm, not sure how interesting that would be."
"Or I could write the mystery part and you could write the solving it part."
"That might work," Shinichi laughed. "And you?"
A familiar, sharp grin, "Isn't it obvious? To become the greatest magician of all time!"
From this vantage point, they had an unparalleled view of the fireworks as they lit up the clear night sky, streaming showers of multicolored lights so bright they left purple afterimages against the backs of their eyelids. Amidst the muffled explosions that marked the coming of the New Year, Kaito drew Shinichi against him and used his free hand to tilt his head back. Their lips met and the detective closed his eyes, moving to wrap his arms around Kaito's neck.
He could still remember that heist vividly, the rhythmic thrum of the helicopter propellers, voices blaring over the intercom, and a solitary figure dressed all in white standing balanced upon the clock hands. If anyone had told him then that years later he would end up in the thief's arms being kissed senseless atop that very same clock tower and enjoying every second of it, he would have scoffed and written them off as having lost their minds. And yet here they were. Life tended to take strange turns wherever the magician thief was concerned anyway.
Things change, Kaito had said at that dinner before he'd begun working with Shinichi and the police. And it was true, but there were also a lot of things that didn't and probably never would. His parents would always be insane. Heiji and Kazuha would always argue. Hakuba would always be wary of a certain magician who liked to dress in white. Shinichi would always be a Sherlock Holmes fan. They would always remember the trials they had gone through that had brought them together and made them into who they were now.
And Kaito would always be Kaito.
Shinichi took rather a lot more comfort from this last thought than he would have liked to admit, likely because of how much he knew he himself had changed. He could not help but admire how the magician could still laugh and smile so easily despite everything that had happened. Granted, that laughter wasn't always genuine and his smile sometimes had knives in it, but there were other times too—joyous and pleased laughter when a trick had gone well or his audience was pleased, an impish grin when he was planning something which was almost all the time, the secretive, knowing smile that said he knew far more than he was letting on and wanted you to know it, the gentle, warm, and affectionate smile that he only ever let Shinichi see… The detective's cheeks heated up at that particular memory and he pulled away to rest his cheek against his companion's shoulder to hide it.
One thing was for sure; Kuroba Kaito was in a class of his own. He redefined the boundaries of what was and wasn't possible and that, Shinichi rather suspected, was why he commanded the adoration of so many fans worldwide, aside from the fact that he cut a rather dashing figure in his costume anyway. Every time he dove off the roof of a skyscraper into freefall without fear or hesitation only to vanish alive and triumphant into the moonlit night under the very noses of the police, he defied the impossible and inspired people to believe in magic—that all too precious and elusive belief that anything could happen. And every time he returned what he had stolen or saved a life in accordance to his own strict moral code, he allowed those same people to continue to love him for the freedom he seemed to represent, unhindered by the shadows that usually tainted the characters and actions of other criminals.
He was Kuroba Kaito, the Phantom Thief 1412, the Kaitou KID and the Moonlight Magician. And that was explanation enough for everything.
AN: Those last few paragraphs were actually my starting point for this entire story idea. I was musing about Kaitou KID and trying to figure out why I liked him so much as a character (other than being just plain entertaining).
In any case, I can't believe I finished! I am hoping to write more stories on this universe since the history and everything is already set up, but I guess I'll have to see about story ideas.
Thanks for reading and please review!