by Icka! M. Chif
"Get back here!" Aoko roared as she ran past Akako's desk, waving a mop. Kaito circled back, tauntingly in range of her weapon.
"Why? So you can pound me?" He grinned, his eyes lighting up as he teased his friend.
"EXACTLY!!!" Aoko's tone was fierce, but her eyes were smiling, as bright as Kaitou's as she chased him around the classroom. Despite her frequent protests, it was clear that she enjoyed the chase as much as he enjoyed the teasing.
The teacher droned on undisturbed in the background, as used to these antics as the rest of the classroom by now.
Akako clasped her hands in front of her, elbows on the desk as she rested her chin on the interwoven fingers. "I think I'm beginning to understand now." She murmured, her eyes never wavering from the lithe magician as he ducked and bobbed a path through the bored class.
"What are we doing here, Akako-san?" Aoko asked as the 2 girls waited on a rooftop. She shivered slightly, the cold night air creeping in through her jacket. She really wasn't sure what she was doing here. All she knew was that Akako had summoned her here and they were waiting.
And the amount of police sirens in the near distance was making her edgy.
"I told you before, I wanted to introduce you to someone. A mutual acquaintance, as it turns out." Akako said calmly, a smug superior air around her. "Don't worry, he'll be here any minute now."
As if the words spoken were a summoning spell, a grappling hook attached itself to the wall that formed the perimeter of the building. Aoko gasped and took a step back, hiding in the shadows. Akako grinned, loosening the cloak she had wrapped around her to reveal a great deal more flesh than normally shown.
With a muffled 'Hup!', a figured dressed in white flipped onto the rooftop. He grinned, glancing back in the direction of the police sirens and giving them a mock salute. "Thank you for yet another chase, Nakamori-san. Your skills were on par, as always."
Aoko froze, staring at the Phantom Thief. Her father had often ranted about him, and she had seen him from a distance before, but this was the first time she had seen him up close. He seemed... familiar.
"Saluting a weaker opponent. How honourable." Akako smirked.
The Kaito Kid shrugged, holding the large jewel up to the moonlight and watched the light reflect off of it. "I'm still amazed you haven't caught cold wearing what you do, Miss Witch." He commented conversationally.
"And still as polite as ever." She purred. Aoko suppressed a shiver. The long haired girl was -scary- like this.
He tossed the jewel in the air, then caught it with a swift gesture, turning to face them. "Well, it's been a pleasure, but I'm afraid it's time to-" He froze, his gaze accidentally locking with hers. Recognition flashed. Aoko felt dizzy, like the whole world had just been turned on its ear, shaken up, then snapped back into place.
Aoko swallowed. "Kaitou?"
He opened his mouth to say something, probably refute it, and she shook her head. This wasn't right. This couldn't be right. Her best friend... the Elusive Kid. The Magic Thief who was her Father's sworn enemy. It all made sense. It didn't make sense.
Aoko abruptly felt like sitting down. So she did.
Kaito looked at Akako, the faintest of cracks appearing in his poker face. "What-"
"Nothing. No spells, no potions, nothing." Akako smirked, flipping her hair over her shoulder. "All I did was invite her along. It's not my fault that she added 1 plus 1 and got 1412."
"Uh-uh-uh." Kid chuckled, wagging a finger at her. "I AM the Kaito Kid, after all. She obviously struck dumb by my charming personality and cool looks." He preened, poker face firmly back in position.
Akako snickered. "Give it up, Kuroba Kaitou. I've got you."
He smirked, his cool facade back in place. "On the contrary. You don't."
A smoke bomb went off, clouding everyone's vision. Aoko found herself falling, and then not. She blinked, realising that she was being held by the Kaito Kid... Kaitou... flying along in his glider.
"Let's get you home Miss." He said cheerfully. "Before we both get in trouble with your father."
She looked at him, a strange sense of calm flooding her mind. "But I hate you."
He gave her a smile, sort of bittersweet. "I know."
The rest of the ride was quiet, except for the sounds of the wind blowing and the city below them.
"I'm home." Inspector Nakamori called tiredly as he took his shoes off by the door.
"Welcome back." She called, walking up. "How did it go?"
A faint nagging voice in the back of her head reminded her that she knew -exactly- how it had gone, but she ignored it, preferring for the moment to pretend that everything was normal so that she didn't break down in front of her father.
"Terrible. He got away again. Any messages for me?"
"Just one." She held out her hand, the jewel that had been tonight's target sparkling in her palm. "The Kaito Kid asked me to give this back to you."
"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?" Her father stared at it, a mushroom cloud going off over his head.
"He also said to say 'Thank You'." She continued calmly, unaffected by his outburst in the state of eerie calm she was in. Once again, the nagging voice in the back of her head informed her that this 'was not natural'. She ignored it again.
"Why... He... ARGH!" Her father grabbed the jewel and started ranting.
Aoko watched for a minute, feeling detached from the whole scene, then turned and walked up the stairs to go to bed.
Maybe a good night's sleep would help clear her head.
Morning brought a new emotion. Anger.
It was a familiar emotion, and one she welcomed. It was better to at least be feeling -something-, than nothing at all.
She needed to talk to someone. Or at least beat something up. But the only person who she could really talk to was Kaitou.
Kaitou was the problem. She -couldn't- talk to Kaitou. Kaitou was the Kaito Kid. She hated the Kaito Kid for regularly making a fool out of her father because the police were never able to lay a finger on him.
And yet she was able to pound Kaitou almost everyday for the various tricks and stunts that he pulled on her.
Was that why he hung around her? To get information about what the police was doing? The thought stopped her cold. Why else would the Phantom Kid be friends with the Inspector in charge of capturing him's daughter?
In a royal funk, she finished getting dressed, ate breakfast, brushed her teeth and ran out the door. As if sensing impending doom, everyone stayed out of her way as she headed for school.
Except for Kaitou. He was waiting on the usual corner to walk with her to school, one hand in his pockets, the other holding his bag behind him. She noted that he looked tired and a little ragged around the edges, but shoved that thought aside.
"Good Morning." He greeted her cheerfully, like he did every morning. She grunted back and kept walking. He fell instep beside her, a silent shadow. She tuned his presence out, ignoring him the entire way there.
This continued through out the school day as well. The students and teachers, well used to their antics and shouting, grew tense and restless. Many attempts were made to find out what was going on, but all failed. Kaito would merely smile politely and change the subject. Aoko would simply glare until the person slunk off with their tail between their legs. Even K-ko, who Aoko would normally tell everything to, couldn't get a single sentence about it from her.
By the time the final break came, people were no longer whispering to each other when they thought that Aoko and Kaito were distracted, they were participating in a classroom wide discussion about it. Theories ran from laryngitis to alien abductions and everything between.
Akako, who had been smirking all day, finally tilted her head back and laughed when the theory that they had been replaced by robots came up. Predictably enough, this gained the attention of almost everyone in the classroom. "Can't you tell?" she giggled. "They had a fight!"
"This is a fight?" One of the kids in the back, who was new and hadn't quite gotten used to the class yet, spoke up questionably. "Then what do you call all the shouting and bashing that they normally do?"
"Foreplay?" One of the more ecchi guys in the class offered. This was met by 2 pencil boxes being near simultaneously introduced to his face courtesy of Kaito and Aoko.
The end of the school day was heralded by Akako standing on her seat and proclaiming to the classroom that Kaitou was now hers, any one who touched would not live to regret it.
Kaitou looked like he wanted to protest, but every single boy in the class turned to glare at him, death threats in their eyes. Aoko blinked. There was a hurt, almost angry look on his face that confused her, making her forget her anger for a moment.
Every single boy in the class, and not a few of the girls, were completely smitten with Akako. She was beautiful, graceful and charming, everything Aoko wasn't. And yet Kaitou didn't seem to be interested in her. Even in the skimpy outfit she wore last night.
Anger resumed its previous course. It wasn't like she -cared- or anything. He was just using her after all. Right?
Face a complete mask, Kaitou gathered his books, shoved them in his bag and walked out of the room, his back and shoulders so straight it looked like it hurt.
This was everyone else's cue to leave as well, talking loudly amongst themselves. Aoko sighed, heading for the back of the room. It was her turn to clean the classroom after school today. She was rather grateful for the solitude and she didn't feel like heading home just yet.
Mop in hand, she declared war on dust bunnies and dirt in general, cleaning and polishing room until it gleamed in record time. And if the mop had dents in it where her hands had been holding it, well, she didn't think anyone would argue.
She had just finished putting everything thing away when a note slid under the door, catching her attention. "Huh?" She quickly picked it up, and opened the door. The hall was empty. Confused, she opened the note.
'Nakamori - Meet me on the rooftop.'
The note was un-signed, and of unfamiliar handwriting. Aoko paused. It sounded like a set up.
On the other hand, what did she have to loose?
Aoko was aware of 2 things happening at the same time. A mop being thrust at her and the *click* of the only door leading down from the roof being locked. She glared at Kaitou, taking the mop from him. He looked back at her, a serious expression in his eyes that would normally have scared her.
She blinked, startled. "What?"
"Hit me if you can." He held his arms out, the invitation clear. "Unless you don't think you can..."
"Rrrrrrrah!" The taunt worked, she brought the mop down where he had been. He flipped out of the way, avoiding her easily. Aoko gave chase, the anger that had been seething all day finally having found a proper target to take it out on. Cleaning was well and good to retain control, but this was something she had needed. A focus.
For his part, Kaitou flipped and twisted out of her reach like she had never seen him before. Usually his movements were loose and slightly chaotic. Now they were grace and precision, reminding her of whom she was ultimately dealing with. Not just her long time friend Kuroba Kaitou, but The Kaito Kid.
"Stand still!" She shouted.
"Catch me first!" He shot back. She growled and proceeded to try to.
He led her on a merry chase around and around the rooftop, staying just one step a head of her, tantalising out of reach. She shouted and cursed the whole way, swinging the mop wildly. He stayed eerily silent except for when she started to lag, in which case his taunts spurred her into action again.
The sun was starting to set by the time she finally stopped, leaning on the mop as she tried to catch her breath, completely exhausted. Kaitou did a handstand in front of her, looking a little bit sweaty but not winded.
"Feel better?" He asked, not unkindly, but lacking his usual spark of mischief.
She gave him a sullen glare before realising that yes, she did feel better. A bit tired and drained, but a great deal of the anger was gone. She sighed. "Yeah."
"Good." He sighed, falling backwards to stretch out on the rooftop in a relaxed sprawl. "Man, I'm tired."
Aoko let out a mild huff at that, but sat down next to him, leaving the mop where it was. "-You're- tired?" She scoffed, a bit of humour colour her tone without realising it.
He opened one eye, peering at her. "You think it's easy avoiding that mop of yours?"
She scoffed, not giving him an answer. They sat in silence for several minutes, just watching the sky change colours and the stars peek out. Aoko gradually relaxed and growing comfortable as they did so. She wasn't stuck on the school rooftop with a world class criminal, she was watching the sunset with Kaitou, her strange but often times sweet best friend.
"Why didn't you tell your father?" He finally asked.
"Why didn't you tell your Father you meet the Kid last night?" He asked again.
She shifted, setting her face in a stubborn mask. "Who said I didn't?"
He chuckled at her. "Well, for one thing, I don't think I'd be here right now if you had."
Aoko blushed slightly. He was correct. Her father would have wrung every single detail he could have out of her, then grabbed Kaitou before he had gotten ready for school for interrogation. "I don't know." She admitted. "I guess a part of me was hoping it wasn't true."
"Sorry to disappoint."
"You could have tried to hide it." She pointed out. "Like you did last night with Akako."
"Pfft." He grimaced slightly. "That's different. That's Akako."
"She likes you."
"I know." Kaitou didn't sound very happy about it. Which was odd, considering that every other boy she knew was head over heels in love with Akako. Yet another thing that set Kaitou apart.
"You don't like her?" She queried.
He shrugged. "Sometimes I think she chases me because I don't chase her."
That made sense, in a strange way. "Why don't you chase her? All the other boys do."
"Hmmm? Oh, it's because I'm a Magician." She could practically hear the capital letter in 'Magician', as if it was different then the card tricks that he did every day.
"What does that have to do with it?"
"Remember the outfit she wore last night?" He questioned. He was trying to tell her something without saying it out right.
"Yeah. She was dressed like some sort of strange wizard or sorceress..."
The triumphant gleam in his eyes told her she had hit the nail on the head. "She is?!" She squeaked.
"I didn't say that." Kaitou smirked, giving her the eerie feeling of deja vu. Akako had done a similar thing last night, simply laid the facts out before her and allowed her to draw conclusions from it. Now she wondered if she had drawn the wrong conclusion.
No. Kaitou had verified it. He hadn't come right out and said that he was the Kaito Kid, but he hadn't refuted it either. He was the Kaito Kid.
So now the question was, why had Akako shown her that last night?
Beside her Kaitou had closed his eyes, looking for all the world to be fast asleep. He looked exhausted. This was probably harder on him than it was on her. She wouldn't have been surprised if he had stayed up all night last night, waiting for the police to come and drag him away. She let him rest, slightly awed by the amount of faith and trust he was showing in her right now. First by letting her work off her anger on him, now by allowing her a chance to do what she knew she needed, a chance to ask questions and think.
Even if she disliked the Kaito Kid, Kaitou was a still good friend.
The thought made her smile, even as she turned her thoughts back to the question at hand.
Akako usually left her alone, except for the few instances when she asked about Kaitou. Her smile turning to a puzzled frown, she realised that this was the case, yet again. She had never realised it before because she was usually so surprised by the fact that Akako was talking to her at all.
Akako could have anybody she wanted, but she persisted in chasing Kaitou. Kaitou had made his indifference about as clear as he could make it and still be polite. Even she could see that.
The longhaired girl couldn't be jealous of her and Kaitou hanging around each other all the time, could she? That was silly. She and Kaitou had been friends for years. Ever since they had met in front of the Clock Tower.
The Clock Tower that hadn't been torn down because the Kaito Kid 'stole' it.
The Kaito Kid, who returned what he stole. Who left notices to the police, even if it meant that they caught him. Who played by the rules, even if they were only his own.
Who thanked her Father when he had gotten away safely.
"Why does the Kaito Kid steal?" She asked thoughtfully.
Kaitou gave a yawn and stretched his limbs, reminding her of a sleepy cat as he did so. "To protect things." He replied muzzly, scratching his head, which only messed it up more.
"But he's a thief." She protested.
"Who better?" He gave her a grin, looking more bright eyed than he had all day, now that he had had some rest. Or was it because they were talking again? She dismissed that last thought in favour of concentrating on the conversation.
Seeing her blank look, he pressed on. "What happens after the Kaito Kid steals something?"
"The Police chase him."
"He eventually gives it back."
"I don't know." She admitted. "Isn't that all there is to it?"
"To most people, yes." He sat up, so that they were at about eye level. "But to the person who owns, say like a jewel. What happens after he gets it back?"
"They put it someplace safe. Since it's only been stolen once, they usually increase security so it doesn't get stolen again..." She trailed off, catching on. "Oh."
He grinned at her. "Bingo."
"But then why not just work as a security consultant, or something like that?"
His face fell, loosing the animation that had lit it up just moments before. "There's more to it than that." He said softly.
She waited for him to continue. After a few moments of un-characteristic sombreness, he let out a long breath and continued. "There's one jewel out there that's different from the others. It's special. So much so that there is a group who is willing to kill to prevent anyone else from getting it."
Aoko froze, some of the blood draining from her face as several facts fell into place. One of the things that infuriated her father to no end was that the Kaito Kid had suddenly returned after disappearing for 8 years. Kaitou's dad had died 8 years ago in what appeared to be an accident. Kaitou was her age, so he couldn't have been the Kaito Kid that her father had been chasing for over 20 years. Which mean that he was actually the second one, and the first one was "Your father..."
He nodded, face unusually sombre. "Yeah."
She curled up, resting her chin on her knees. Her father was so busy, especially when she was younger, that he rarely had time to do anything with her. Kaitou's dad had adored kids and loved to see them laugh and smile. It was one of the things that had made him such a great magician, he was big kid himself. He had taken her under his wing, treating her like the daughter he never had. It had been a big blow when he had died, not just because it hurt Kaitou, but because it had hurt her too.
"What are you going to do when you find them?" She asked. "The people who killed your father?"
His warm eyes turned cold, cold as stone. "Make them pay."
For the first time in his company, she felt afraid. He noticed and laughed, reverting back to the Kaitou she knew. "Not like that!" He waved a hand at her, the other reaching behind his head in an embarrassed gesture. "I want to see them behind bars for it. Why do you think the Kid sends notices to your father on the heists I think I may run into them?"
"I thought it was so that you'd have an audience." She retorted.
He chuckled. "There's that too. Makes it more fun. Your father is a really good cop, even if he never will catch the Kaito Kid."
"He will to!" Aoko snapped back, her temper rising again.
"No, no... Don't get me wrong." Kaito made a soothing gesture. "Like I said, your father is a really good cop, and I respect him for that. It's just that he's just a little... predictable."
"Oh." She relaxed again. He did have a point.
He grinned at her. "In fact, I've set my watch to his shouts of outrage before. The signal that a heist is over is when he starts to curse the Kid's name."
She gave him a sideways look. "You're mean."
"I'm serious. He's very good at swearing. You should hear him sometime. Although he tones it down around you."
"Really?" Aoko straightened up. Kaitou nodded. She was learning more about the people around her tonight than she ever thought possible. "Wow."
Kaitou smiled, looking up at the stars again. He looked happier, more like the carefree boy she was used to. She couldn't help but to smile as well. Not too much, she didn't want to give him the wrong idea or anything.
"You said that the Kid only sends messages when he thinks that the men who killed your father will be at." She said, getting back on topic. "Does that mean he does other things besides harass the police and steal stuff?"
It helped, she realised, to think of the Kid as a separate person from Kaitou. Even if they really were the same person.
Kaitou nodded. "Lots of stuff. Help people, solve a few mysteries. There are a couple of detectives I keep an eye on and occasionally help out. From behind the scenes, of course. Don't want to ruin the Kid's sterling reputation." He threw a wink at her, causing her to quickly hide a giggle.
"I'm not going to tell anyone else about the Kid, but I'm still not going to cheer on the Kaito Kid, or join his fan club or anything like that." She informed him. "Stealing is still stealing, even if it is for a good reason."
To her surprise, Kaitou looked like she had just given him the best birthday present in the world. "Good." He beamed. "I'm glad."
"You are?" She echoed, puzzled. "Why?"
"Somebody's got to keep me honest." He shrugged. "Who else yells at me and lets me know when I've gotten out of line? Or chases me around and calls me names? Not everyone's as skilled with a mop as you are, y'know."
"Oh." Aoko found her face getting warm and was grateful that it was getting dark.
Kaitou smiled warmly at her, a yellow rose appearing in his hand, different from his usual white ones. "Friends?"
Aoko smiled back, extending her pinkie finger. "Best Friends." She corrected.
He hooked his pinkie around hers and they solemnly shook on it, pinkie promise. The formal atmosphere was shattered when they made eye contact and both of them started to giggle. Which turned into a chuckle, and quickly worked it's way up to a full blown laugh. They laughed so hard tears started to bead up in their eyes.
It wasn't that it was all that funny, but there was just such a sense of profound relief. As much as Kaitou might need her around to act as his conscious, she needed him around too, to remind her to laugh and have fun.
Their laughter wound down, and she realised that they were indecently close, leaning against each other to prop each other up. If anyone else had been around, she probably would have hit him away by now. But there was no one around, Kaitou hadn't seemed to have noticed yet and she didn't really feel an inclination to move.
And this was nice.
Kaitou was a warm presence against her shoulder, and if she tilted her head to the side a bit, she was close enough to pick up the scent of the roses that he always seemed to carry with him. There were other scents mixed in, the paper and ink of the confetti and cards, the feathers of the doves he cared about, and something that was distinctly Kaitou, that reminded her somewhat of air. Sometimes gentle, some times fierce, but always un-predictable and impossible to catch.
"I suppose we should get you back before we're both in trouble with your father." He finally commented, a trace of reluctance she keenly felt in his voice.
She nodded. "I suppose."
A comment about how he was already in trouble with her father for being the Kaito Kid stuck in her throat. She didn't want to shatter what they had just formed quite yet. Several things had changed in the past day, most of them irreversible. Including a subtle shift in her and Kaitou's relationship that she could feel, deep down. A wall had been removed from the 2 of them. They were still friends, but they were also now something... more. More comfortable.
With a muffled 'hup!' Kaitou flipped himself to his feet, and brushed himself off. Then with an elaborate western style bow and a sparkling grin, he leaned over and offered her a hand up. She smiled back, taking the offered hand and blinked in muted surprise as he pulled her to her feet in one smooth gesture that belayed his hidden strength.
"Wait." He grinned, pulling a large handkerchief out of his pocket and placing it over her head for a moment. There was a small chant of '1-2-3!', then he pulled it off, and she could feel something on her head. Reaching up, she discovered it was a crown of roses, the same deep golden colour of the yellow rose he had offered her.
Kaitou gave her another bow, this one less elaborate than the previous one as well as more relaxed. "M'lady?" He asked, offering her his arm like a gentleman escorting a lady to an elegant dance. The gesture was at odds with his school uniform and ruffled appearance, making her smile. She curtseyed back, then slipped her arm through his with all the dignity she could muster.
Grinning broadly at the absurdity of it all, they proceeded to walk towards the door, both of them putting on grand airs in the process.
They paused slightly as Kaitou reached for the door. It opened easily, even though she could have sworn it had been locked when she had first come up to the roof.
"What about Akako-chan?" She asked, stepping through the door as he held it for her. "Won't she be mad if we're friends again?"
He smiled at her re-assuringly. "Don't worry about it." He said as he stepped through the door. "You'll see, everything will work it'self out. It always does."
The door shut behind them with a decisive 'click'.
"KAITOUUU!!!" Aoko roared as she ran through the maze of desks in their classroom, waving a mop. Kaitou laughed and skipped a few feet ahead of her, deftly dodging her attacks.
The classroom ignored the 2 fighting classmates, a profound sense of relief floating through the air. The teacher ignored them as well, small nervous smiles appearing occasionally as they charged past the chalkboard. As far as almost everyone was concerned, everything was back to the way it should be and the quiet stress of the previous day was forgotten.
Announcements from Akako included.
Akako followed the commotion with wide eyes, her jaw having occupied the space somewhere around her ankles for the past several classes.
Finally she shook her head, resting her chin on a hand as her eyes continued to watch the 2 combatants. "I don't understand..."
A crown made of roses signifies reward or virtue -found that out after that scene wrote it'self in. Huh.
Yellow roses mean friendship.
Anybody remember an old TV show on FoxKids called 'The Magician'? Yeah.
Working theory is that if Akako's spells and charms can work, why not real magic?
Makes sense then that his magic is just a different kind, but no less potent. He's a powerful enough of a Magician that her Socercer/ess ablities don't work, or work quite as well. Hence the fact that he's immune to the 'All Men will bow down before us' thing.
The fact that he's highly devoted to Aoko probably doesn't hurt either. ^_~