Smile for Me (Part 2)

Thank you guys so much for your wonderful reviews! I decided, after all, to continue this. I believe this will be it, unless anyone is interested in a continuation. Let me know! I really hope you like it!

I do not own Meitantei Conan~

Please R&R~!


Words: 3938

Rating: K+


oOo

The slightly lanky fourteen-year old was stretched out on a low tree branch, his back against the thick, supportive trunk rising up through the tree's sizable crook. His eyes were closed, but though the sun beat warmly down on his face from the spaces between the leaves above, he wasn't particularly enjoying it. He was there for comfort and for the privacy of his own thoughts…if he were to be honest with himself, he was there, more than anything, to stew in the resentment he couldn't voice. It felt good and he needed it…or so he had convinced himself.

Cracking one eye open, he peered towards the quite empty playground where he'd spent so much time as a child. He remembered times spent there that were more full of anxious and painful feelings than anything…but ever since that day, for the remainder of his childhood, he had spent some of his best days and hours there…

Through the gently whistling wind, he thought he'd heard the sound of crunching leaves, but glancing around, he saw no one, and so closed his eyes again, leaning back…when he felt a cold, wet touch on his cheek.

Shinichi's eyes shot open and he looked left to see a wild-haired teen grinning madly, half-dangling from a higher branch, waving an ice-cream cone his way.

"K-Kai!" Shinichi started, "What are you-?"

"Do you like ice cream?" Kaito grinned, stepping more fully onto the branch and over Shinichi, crouching to offer him the vanilla-and-strawberry-swirl cone.

Laughing, Shinichi accepted the offered treat, and with a flick of his wrist, Kaito materialized his own chocolate cone out of thin air before frowning around for a comfortable seat.

Shinichi grinned at him. "We don't fit here as well as we used to, huh?" His grin then stopped as he noticed a familiar, mischievous glint had forced its way into his friend's eyes. Before he knew what was happening, he found himself sitting on and leaning back on something a good deal softer than his previous perch. Spinning around, blushing slightly, Shinichi faced a beaming Kaito, on whose lap he realized he was now sitting. Grinning even more widely, Kaito simply shrugged and said nonchalantly,

"We fit now, Shin-chan, don't you think?"

"B-but, Kai, this-" Shinichi's splutters were stopped by a tight, breath-stealing hug from behind. Sighing in resignation (this wasn't the first time Kaito had tried something like this…not by a long shot), Shinichi figured he'd let the silly magician be his chair if he was so desperate to be 'helpful,' and leaned back on him, redirecting his attention to enjoying his ice cream.

It had always been his best friend's style to impose himself this way, and though Shinichi liked to pretend it bothered him, there was no arguing with the quite obvious improvement in his mood since the magician had made an appearance.

For a while, the two just sat there together, enjoying their cool treats in the summer breeze.

"Are you okay, Shin-chan?" Kaito's voice broke the silence, and Shinichi flinched a little against him. Kaito gripped his shoulder and Shinichi tried to shrug him off, but the magician only held him more tightly, and he turned Shinichi to face him, his eyes asking the real questions as plainly as if he'd said them aloud. Are you really okay with them leaving like this? Aren't you lonely? Why won't you rely on me?

The sincerity in Kaito's eyes melted the young detective's cool exterior. He could feel Kaito's concern and care, and even though he already knew, it was still a comfort to be reminded: Kaito was there for him. He had been since the day they'd met. With Kaito, he never had to pretend.

With a little sigh, Shinichi mumbled, "Guess there's no use hiding it, huh?"

"Nope," was the clear response from behind him as Kaito began to trace little circles on his arms.

Shinichi was silent again before saying softly, "I thought she'd changed. I thought they'd both changed, but…" he balled his hands into fists and gritted his teeth. "But at the first call of more success and fame, they're more than happy to up and leave."

He sighed before continuing. "And sure. They wanted me to come, but…but…" I didn't think they actually would… "They just wouldn't listen to me at all…I mean, I don't regret not going with them, not really. I wanted to stay here, it's just…"

"You wonder why they didn't try harder to make you go with them… Why didn't they try for some kind of compromise to keep you near?" Kaito's voice was steady as he supplied this, but his practiced poker-face smile was breaking, compassion and understanding bleeding out through his eyes.

Shinichi nodded, and then suddenly found himself nodding on Kaito's shoulder as the magician hugged him, pulling him close. His first instinct, to pull away and be the cold, cool, rising-star middle-school detective he was to most everyone else folded in the face of the very different relationship he'd always had with Kaito.

There had always been an unusual degree of understanding between them; for one thing, the two now-teens were far more similar at heart than would be obvious to the casual observer. At school, both had their crafted, popular personas, Shinichi as soccer star and rising young detective, and Kaito as magician and class clown, and sure...how they acted and the people they were in public were certainly important parts of them…but as they had grown and their lives and the shape of things had changed, as they had had to deal with the usual (and unusual) tragedies and pressures of life, they had found themselves able to hold onto a center, an inner honest self-awareness, thanks in great part to eachother.

Rather than shutting themselves up, locking their truer feelings, selves and weaknesses somewhere deep inside them, they had been able to keep those parts of themselves alive through their friendship. For together, they had found that revealing themselves wasn't a sign of weakness. Laying themselves bare, when to each other, was natural and liberating. It wasn't that they didn't have other friends-even other good, close friends-they did. But with Shinichi's case, with his friend Ran, and Kaito's case, with his friend Aoko, there were still things about themselves they didn't feel comfortable revealing. That was one basic strength of the boys' relationship.

It occurred to Shinichi as he continued to relax in Kaito's firm grip, not stopping the magician from administering a slow, stroking massage from his lower back to the base of his neck, that it had been a while since he'd been the one in this position. After Kaito's dad had passed away four years earlier, he had been the one constantly worrying about his usually overly-optimistic and energetic friend. He could hardly count the nights he'd either gone over to Kaito's or invited Kaito to his place so he could hold him through the night… those nights, he would hug him tightly until the young magician finally stopped shaking…which meant that on plenty of occassions, neither boy would sleep a wink.

Having the tables turned, their positions reversed this way, brought him back, with a jolt, to the first time they'd met. And how clearly that day seemed to have stuck in Kaito's mind, as well, filled Shinichi with a kind of energizing, enveloping happiness and contentment. Gently, he squeezed Kaito back, and then pulled out ever-so-slightly to give Kaito a half-smile which was returned instantly.

"Thanks, Kaito…"

Kaito was uncharacteristically silent for a minute before responding. "You know, Shin-chan…no matter what… " He slowly moved his eyes from where he was staring at a swaying leaf up to meet Shinichi's. "Do you remember the promise I made? All that time ago?"

Shinichi's heart began to pound as Kaito's deep indigo-blue eyes, once again completely serious, fixed on him. It didn't help his pounding heart to relax as he thought about the promise his friend had to be talking about, either…he jumped slightly as he felt Kaito's warm hand gently touch his cheek. Looking at him in surprise, he saw Kaito's lips stretch into a gentle smile.

"I promised you, Shin-chan…" he began, "That I would never leave you alone, that I would never leave you…" and then his smile widened, and a mischievous glint returned, though his sincerity was obvious in his tone and expression. "And you promised, Shin-chan, that you'd let me take care of you…don't you remember?" And he winked.

Despite himself, Shinichi felt another slight blush rise up, and he muttered something imperceptible. He didn't move away, however, but squeaked slightly, blushing even more hotly, as Kaito reached forward and gently grasped his hand. Again, Shinichi didn't pull back, but his blush was creeping even more completely onto his face. "You'll let me, won't you, Shinichi?"

Gulping, Shinichi nodded, and Kaito gripped his hand more firmly, lacing his fingers in-between Shinichi's. With another smile, Kaito leaned forward and pulled Shinichi into another hug, and this time, Shinichi hugged him back just as tightly. "I'll always be with you, Shinichi," he whispered in his ear, and Shinichi pulled him closer, hugging him even more tightly. Kaito's grip loosened, but before he let go entirely, Shinichi felt a hot, impossibly soft touch on his neck. His heart jolted as his mind struggled to register the touch. Lips. Kaito's lips.

Shinichi stared at him in incredulity, his eyes swarming with hundreds of questions, and Kaito just grinned and shrugged, eyes flashing. "I don't believe I need to tell you this, Shinichi, but I'm not fond of sharing...when it comes to what is truly important, that is…"

Shinichi sputtered a little, unable to formulate an articulate response right away, and his hand unconsciously moved up to the spot on his neck which was still a shade hotter than the rest.

"However," Kaito continued, not paying much mind to (or at least, choosing not to acknowledge) Shinichi's confused embarrassment, "Just because I won't give up my claim on you doesn't mean I can't help you to see what you already have." And he grinned more widely. "Or to help open up some terminally oblivious maternal eyes…"

"You mean…"

"I mean…" and he smiled. "Guess we didn't teach her enough of a lesson that last time, huh?"

Shinichi smiled at the memory. It had been a silly, harmless prank, but then again, they'd only been little kids.


oOo

The unsuspecting woman had come into the park, cheerfully swinging her bags of shopping purchases, when a little boy she assumed to be her Shin-chan came racing up to her.

"Shin-chan? When did you change your shirt? And why is your hair so messy, young man?" She put her hands on her hips as well as she could without dropping her shopping bags.

Kaito grinned at her. "What all didja buy, obasan? Bet it must have been something fun to keep you away for so long."

Kudou Yukiko's eyes narrowed. "Yes, it-wait. OBASAN? What are you-" but she stopped as she noticed the messy-haired boy had run back a few yards to pull another, shyer-looking boy, this time her actual son, out from behind a tree.

"Shin-chan?" She blinked and then grinned. "You made a friend, Shin-chan? That's great! Mommy should leave you here more often, then, huh?"

She was mid-wink when she noticed both the sinking expression on her own son's face and the suddenly angry, passionate one on the other boy's… "Umm…are you two okay?"

Before she knew what was happening, the messy-haired boy had stomped forward, clutching Shinichi's hand tightly in his own, then stopping a few feet before her to glare up at her in what he must have thought to be a quite intimidating gesture. As it was, though, she found it quite comical, and had to stop herself from laughing.

She felt her smile wipe clean from her face, however, when the boy began talking. The sincerity in his voice shocked her, and then it occurred to her just how much real emotion was blazing at her from both sets of eyes, albeit more hesitantly from her son's.

"Obasan," Kaito began. "You think you can just leave Shin-chan here for that long? Do you think he likes being away from you that much? Maybe you think you're doing something fun for him, but that's just because you haven't really been listening to him! I just met him and I think I know him better than you do!"

She stared, starting to open her mouth to retort, calling him out, not only for the way he had addressed her, but for the slightly impudent tone, but then his words hit her, and again, those eyes…

Like a drop of cold water dripping into her heart, she looked at Shinichi and took a step forward. Her eyes widened when her son actually took a step away from her, and they widened even further as she watched the other little boy follow him back, give him a hug, and whisper something in his ear. Shinichi nodded a little, and setting his lip, approached her and said "Kaito-kun's right, kaasan, I…don't know why you leave me here so much, and…" he gulped, but the encouraging squeeze Kaito gave his left hand pushed him on. More loudly, he said, "Why do you always lie to me, okaasan? Why do you always say we'll do things together and then we never do? How come, every time you drop me off at the park, you never pick me up on time… why…" he trailed off and Kaito stepped in front of him again.

"You better be nice to Shin-chan, obachan, or you'll be sorry!"

"I'll be sorry?" Yukiko's expression had returned to bemused amusement at the return of the little firecracker of a boy. Then, with a snap, her bags had all fallen from her hands. Blinking slightly, she looked down and saw that where straps had been, there now were flimsy straps made of silly string. Then, eyes widening further, she looked into a bag to see, in place of a blouse she'd bought for herself…a little stuffed bloodhound with a monocle on one eye.

"What…how?" She looked back at the young magician who was grinning manically. With a smile at Shinichi, Kaito approached Yukiko and said confidently, "You made Shinichi-kun sad today, obachan, so it's only right that you get him a present, right? That's for him."

Blinking, she picked the little stuffed dog out of the bag and looked between it and her son. Things suddenly seemed to click into place, and she folded to her knees and looked at Shinichi with wide, worried eyes. "I really made you that sad, Shin-chan?"

Shinichi shrugged, not meeting her eyes, and she felt her heart breaking. "Shi-Shin-chan," she started, eyes starting to tear up. She tried to reach forward, but Shinichi just backed up, moving closer to Kaito. Placing his little hand on Shinichi's even smaller shoulder, Kaito half-smiled at Yukiko before taking the dog from her grip and passing it to Shinichi. "Can you take it as a first present from me?"

Smiling slightly, Shinichi nodded and Kaito squealed, hugging him tightly, the dog squeezed between them.

Yukiko watched them in awe. How had this strange little boy worked his way so completely into her slightly standoffish and antisocial son so quickly? Wait, why do I even think that way about Shin-chan? Oh, I've made so many mistakes! What have I done?

"I'm sorry, Shin-chan," she said softly, her eyes tearing up and her expression pleading. "Please believe me. I really had no idea. I know kaachan's made so many mistakes, and I must have hurt you so much, but I promise…I promise you I'll try harder from now on! Can you give me another chance, Shin-chan?"

Shinichi slowly lifted his face from Kaito's shoulder and met eyes with his mom. He seemed to hesitate, but at another squeeze of the hand from Kaito, he nodded, and she pulled him into her arms.


oOo

"She lied, though," Shinichi muttered as he lifted out of his memories. "She did do it, again, after all. How am I supposed to trust her, Kai? Dad, too, he left with her…at least he acted like he felt guilty, but she just…she practically forgot to say goodbye, she was so anxious to run off and get her picture taken!"

Kaito grasped his wrist firmly, and spoke in a low but strong voice. "She isn't perfect, Shinichi, and you can't expect her to be…as disappointing as that is…" He grimaced a little, and his voice rose a little. "But I still can't stand seeing you hurt like this…" And then he smiled, an idea seeming to have occurred to him.

"Um…" Shinichi started nervously. "What are…you…?"

"Just thinking of various revenge plots. Nothing you need concern yourself with…the last one seemed to have a 7-year effectiveness range…what do you say to trying something with a slightly longer expectancy?"

"Like?"

"That is the question, isn't it?" Kaito smiled at him innocently, and Shinichi rolled his eyes, but laughed a little, a great weight seeming to have lifted from his chest through their talk.

"Ne, Kai," Shinichi was still half-sitting on Kaito's lap, but at the moment, he didn't feel like keeping up any of the pretty much non-existent barriers he tried to enforce between them. Rather, he stretched out, lounging almost fully on top of his friend. Resting his head on the magician's chest, he yawned a little, smiling into his chest before mumbling: "What did you do with that blouse you took from mom that time? We never got it back, did we?"

"Hm, good point. I think I still have it…think I should make it part of our newest prank?"

Shinichi flicked him on the nose, but laughed, stretching his arms a little bit and relaxing more fully into his chest. "I still have that stuffed dog, too," he said, grinning up at Kaito.

"I know," Kaito said. "That's one of the many signs that's made me feel I might have a chance with you."

Shinichi blushed again, and became self-consciously aware that, in an effort to hide his blush, he had just pressed his quickly-pounding heart more firmly against Kaito, serving only to make him appear even more flustered.

"I-that…"

"Hey, don't sweat, Shin-chan," Kaito said happily, stroking his fingers through his hair. "We have plenty of time together, after all. You don't need to worry if you can't return my feelings…yet, at least…" Kaito paused in his ministrations and gently moved his face down to rest in Shinichi's hair. When he spoke, his voice was soft but completely seriously. "But do promise me you won't keep me away, Shinichi. Promise me you won't keep it from me if you ever feel alone. I'm here for you, and-"

"Kai, I…" Shinichi sat up to look at him more directly, and he could feel the heat rising in his face again. "I know, but…I think I do…feel that way, that is…I," he gulped. "I think I feel the same way."

Kaito's eyes widened, staring at him in shock, but before he could say anything, Shinichi had quickly but gently pressed his lips against Kaito's, holding them there for less than a second before pulling back, blushing madly.

Kaito blinked at him, his shock clearing away to leave room for a wide, overjoyed smile. Shinichi had turned away, but his pink flush and the slight extra pinkness of his lips made Kaito's heart thrill even more. With a happy squeal, Kaito pulled him in for another hug, even tighter than previously, and whispered in his ear, "I love you, Shinichi. You're mine forever, now…"

And Shinichi couldn't find it in himself to argue, or to want to. All he could feel at that moment was a strengthening block of ecstasy blooming within him...and an overwhelming gratitude towards this one most steady and trustworthy person in his life.


Omake


oOo

Kudou Yukiko woke up on a lovely, sun-filled morning in Los Angeles, stretching luxuriously and making a beeline for the shower. Half-asleep, she had barely registered the bits of red (which looked suspiciously like rose petals) littering her floor. After her shower, yawning and wrapped in a towel, she made her way to her closet…upon opening it, she blinked. And blinked again. Rubbing her eyes, she stared.

Every last bit of clothing she could remember having brought with her was missing. Hanging in her closet, instead, was a battalion of little stuffed bloodhounds.

There was one article of clothing, however. A white blouse…carefully, she took it and found a little note pinned on.

It isn't my style to take things without returning them. Sorry for the hold-up on this, but I hope you'll excuse my forgetfulness in light of your own. Please try to remember what we talked about that day, obachan. It's still relevant. Regardless, be assured that Shinichi is in good hands.

At the bottom right-hand corner of the little sheet of paper, there was a little insignia-a messy-haired face, frowning disapprovingly.

Yukiko laughed lightly, and then a single tear dripped from her eye as she traced her hand over the missive. "Thank you, Kaito-kun…" And with that, she moved to make a few necessary and long-delayed phone-calls.


Thanks for reading! I really hope you liked it, and sorry for the delay on this! I wasn't sure if I would write a second part after all, but hope it didn't dissappoint! Anyway, thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Please remember to review!

Thanks again!

tess4aria