Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan/Case Closed or D.N Angel.
Summary: When Prince Kaito Kuroba was told that he was to be engaged to the witch Akako, he only had one thought on his mind. No way in Hell. AU, KaiShin
Pairing(s): Kaito x Shinichi, Hakuba x Ran
WARNINGS: AU (alternate universe), Shounan ai (boy/boy pairing), you have been warned
By V. Shalyr
"What? My father's going to be here? But he always attends the festival at the capitol."
Turning from the window of his study, Yuusaku watched the prince set Toichi's letter down with a dramatic sigh. Somehow, the young man didn't seem nearly as bothered as his exclamation implied. "I thought it only fair that I should let you know. He will be staying here at the castle. So what will you do?"
"What indeed," Kaito mused, rising to his feet. "Well, thank you for the heads up. It's greatly appreciated. I'm afraid it seems that I won't be able to remain here at the castle, so I'll see you at the festival tomorrow night. Have a good evening."
Lord Yuusaku waited until the door had closed behind him before picking up the king's letter and rereading it himself. He couldn't really say he was surprised by his Majesty's seemingly out-of-the-blue decision. He rather suspected that Toichi had anticipated his son's reactions and actions upon being informed of his impending engagement to Akako Koizumi. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more he believed that even the idea of that particular engagement had been but a ruse on the king's part. Though what exactly he hoped to accomplish by it…
The lord shook his head and stowed the letter away in a desk drawer. Technically, how his friend chose to handle his family affairs wasn't any of his business, but seeing as it inevitably involved his own family due to the nature of the particular issue at hand this time, perhaps he should have a word with him when this entire fiasco was finally over.
There were lights everywhere, gold and violet, red and blue and green, all throwing the streets of the capitol into a rainbow of brilliance. Shinichi had seen few sights more impressive, but that was to be expected from a festival being held at the capitol, especially when the event had been handed over to the magic academy to organize.
"Are you sure it's okay if I stay here?" he asked a little anxiously, watching his friend's hands making complicated gestures above the pile of fireworks.
"Of course it's okay," Kaito assured him, tying off his spell and straightening, indigo eyes agleam with anticipation. "Everyone's welcome at the Midsummer Festival."
"Yes, but not usually backstage."
"Well, luckily for you, I'm in charge backstage today." Giving his handiwork one last inspection, the prince nodded to himself in satisfaction then grabbed Shinichi's hand. "Come on, we're going to the roof. We'll have the best view from up there."
"Is there something special about these fireworks?"
"You need to ask? I made them. I thought you were watching."
Even from the rooftop, they could smell the sweet aromas wafting up from the various venders' stalls along the streets. Lanterns marked out the streets in bright intervals, wreathed in dancing mage lights that occasionally flickered out when children tried to catch them before whirling back into life above their heads. Shinichi sat down carefully on the slanted shingles, hoping he wouldn't slip. It was a long way to the ground below. Kaito paced for a moment behind him, too full of energy to stay still, his footsteps eerily silent.
"Do you know why the Midsummer Festival is such a huge occasion, Princess?"
Pulling his legs up to his chest, Shinichi wrapped his arms around them and rested his chin on his knees. "It has something to do with the beginning of the kingdom, doesn't it?"
"Yeah." Kaito paused beside him, his eyes wandering from the lanterns up towards the dark sky. "Kerolei used to be two smaller kingdoms and they were always at war with one another. The fighting only ended when a marriage alliance was agreed upon by the two royal families. I've always thought it rather strange though."
Shinichi tilted his head back to peer up at him curiously. "How so?"
Kaito shrugged though the expression on his face seemed oddly intense. "This is supposed to be a festival celebrating love. And yet from all the records we have, the prince and princess who had to fulfill the engagement didn't love one another."
Shinichi blinked then looked back down at the people enjoying the festivities. He'd never really thought about it, but Kaito had a point. It did seem a bit strange. "Maybe they hoped that love would come eventually since they had to be together."
Kaito hummed thoughtfully. "Maybe you're right. I suppose we'll never know for sure."
Flopping down next to Shinichi, he slung an arm around his shoulders and turned to smirk at him, a mischievous light in his eyes. "Either way, I'm not like them. I'm only ever going to spend this festival with someone that I really care for."
Shinichi wasn't sure how he was supposed to respond to that. He had the feeling Kaito was trying to tell him something in that roundabout way he had, but before he could try to figure out what that was, the fireworks went off and his attention was captured by the shower of white sparks that took the image of countless silver birds before fading away.
The sight was breathtaking and Shinichi was about to tell Kaito so, but the magician was frowning when he looked his way.
"That's not what I was aiming for," he muttered. "I wanted them to be more alive, not just disappear like that. It worked the last time I tried it. What did I do wrong?"
And the moment was past, melting back into the thunder of the fireworks being shot up into the sky…
Shinichi woke slowly, the image of those fireworks still lingering against the backs of his eyelids. That dream, or rather that memory, had been from the Midsummer Festival two years ago when he'd been at the magic academy.
"I'm only ever going to spend this festival with someone that I really care for…"
Had that… Had that been Kaito's way of telling him that he loved him?
Rolling onto his side, he stared into the darkness of his room. Unlike his sister's room, his didn't have all that much in the way of decoration. Mostly, it was just full of books—notebooks, regular books, and folders full of case reports from his work with the local guard stations. The last time Kaito had been in his room, he'd called the place a "fire hazard" and spent the afternoon putting protection spells on everything, including Shinichi.
Speak of the Devil, he thought, sitting up as the darkness about the door suddenly shifted. "Kaito?"
The figure by the door paused then moved closer to the bed. Shinichi tensed but relaxed when the figure finally spoke, confirming his original suspicions of its identity. "You're awake?"
"Were you not expecting me to be?"
"Well, yeah, it's two in the morning."
"Good point. So what are you doing sneaking into my room at two in the morning?"
"I was actually coming to wake you up, but you've saved me the trouble."
The shadows shifted again and a weight settled on the side of his bed. Shinichi could finally make out his friend's features with the assistance of the moonlight coming through the crack in the curtains. He still couldn't read the expression on his face though and he wondered if he should be worried.
"Why? Did something happen?"
"You could say that. It seams that my father will be arriving here tomorrow morning. I can't stay here. Father has an enchanted monocle that lets him see through all spells."
Shinichi yawned, reluctantly allowing himself to be dragged from beneath the warm covers. "You mean like the one you made for yourself as your graduation project?"
"So what does this have to do with me?"
Kaito paused in the process of retrieving what looked like a travel pack from the floor. "Technically? Nothing. But I was hoping you'd come with me."
Shinichi could hear the slight hesitation in his words and he smiled softly, though he wasn't sure if Kaito could see it in the dark. If he didn't want to go, Kaito wouldn't make him. But he would be disappointed.
"Fine, fine, just give me a moment to get my coat."
Before Shinichi could do just that, however, Kaito draped said coat over his shoulders. "Already done."
Pulling the sleeves on, Shinichi buttoned the coat and eyed the bag in Kaito's hand. "Can I assume you packed for me too?"
"Okay then, where are we going?"
He couldn't see it but he could hear Kaito's grin in his voice. "Camping, anyone?"
It wasn't the first time they had gone camping, though it was the first time they'd started out at such an unholy hour. They didn't speak much as they made their way away from the castle and into the woods, Shinichi because he was still a bit tired and Kaito because he was unwilling to break the early morning calm. They kept moving until they hit a small creek then turned and followed the flowing water upstream until they came to a comfortable clearing with a few nice boulders along the streambed. Shinichi gathered some wood and lit a fire while Kaito put up a tent and produced sleeping bags from somewhere. As soon as that was done, Shinichi appropriated one of these and lay down next to the fire.
"You're not going to use the tent?" Kaito asked, breaking the silence for the first time.
Shinichi opened his eyes and turned to look at him. "You're staying out here, aren't you?"
Kaito watched him for a moment then smiled slightly. "Thanks."
Silence fell once more after that and Shinichi shut his eyes, listening to the crackle of the burning kindling. Kaito seemed to have fallen into a slightly melancholy mood and simply sat leaning against one of the boulders, his gaze straying from the flames to the stars and back again. If Shinichi hadn't seen him dozing on at least one occasion, he would have wondered if the prince ever slept. Shinichi wondered what he was thinking about.
It felt almost strange to hear the magician use his given name. "Yeah?"
"If you could go anywhere in the world, anywhere at all, where would you want to go?"
"I've never really thought about it. I guess anywhere I haven't been."
Kaito chuckled at that answer, and Shinichi asked, "What brought that up all of a sudden?"
"Oh, nothing really. Just thinking about the future." Folding his arms behind his head, Kaito leaned back to direct his gaze once more towards the stars. "I kind of wish I'd been born in a different family, or maybe had some siblings so I won't have to take the throne after Father steps down. Sometimes, it seems like we're all trapped in this huge pattern of things."
"That sounds strange coming from you," the black-haired boy mused. "You're too good at bending the rules to complain about them. Besides, if I know you, you wouldn't trust that kind of authority to anyone else anyway. You care about this kingdom too much to really keep your nose out of its business."
"I guess you're right. Ah, the burdens of passion."
There was a long pause then Shinichi added a little self consciously, "But that's one of the things that make you such a good heir. I'm glad that you're the one who's going to be the king someday. I'd hate to think what would happen to the peace we have if it was going to be anyone else."
Because Kaito was just kind enough, just thoughtful enough, and just careful enough of the details. And the fact that he could talk or trick his way into whatever he wanted was complemented by the fact that deep down, he had a very good heart. It was a rare enough combination to begin with, let alone in a royal heir, and Shinichi had always thought Kerolei rather lucky to have ended up with two such rulers.
"Aww, that's such a sweet thing to say, Princess." Kaito smirked, reaching out to ruffle his hair.
Shinichi scowled and swatted unsuccessfully at his hand. "Don't treat me like a child. You're only two years older than me."
For some reason, this made the prince laugh. Rising to his feet, he stretched and made a beckoning gesture with his hand. In response, the second sleeping bag levitated itself from the tent and drifted to the ground next to Shinichi's. That done, the magician lay down next to him and dimmed the fire with another wave of his hand. The flames didn't get smaller, just seemed to fade out a little like the ghost or the memory of a fire.
Shinichi stared at it and shook his head, turning his back to it. "That's creepy."
This earned him another laugh and Kaito scooted closer to him. "Then maybe it can scare away anything that might want to eat us."
Blue eyes that had been about to close snapped open again at that. "What? You mean you didn't put up any wards? I thought you always—!"
He was cut off by a finger on his lips and he flushed. Kaito was awfully close.
"I was just kidding. Of course I put up wards. Now go to sleep. We have a long day ahead of us."
"We?" Shinichi couldn't help but ask.
Putting the finishing touches on her hair, Ran turned in a slow circle, examining herself in the mirror. Flower hairpin designed after her namesake, check. Makeup, check. Hmm, maybe she should have gone with the blue dress instead of the red? Sure, red was her favorite color, but perhaps blue would have gone better with her eyes.
A soft knock came at the door and she called back, "Come in!"
There was a pause then the door opened to reveal Hakuba dressed formally in shades of deep brown. Well, at least the red certainly went well with that.
"How do I look?" Ran asked, turning in a circle yet again so he could see.
The knight blinked and smiled. "Beautiful."
Ran smiled back. "Would that be your answer no matter what?"
She laughed and hooked her arm through his. "At least you're honest. Let's go then. We don't want to be late, right?"
"Of course, my lady. And your brother?"
Ran frowned a little. "I wanted to pick him up on our way out, but I went by his room earlier and he wasn't there."
"Did you check his Highness's quarters as well?"
"I did and it's been swept clean. No one seems to know where he's gone, but I'm sure he'll be at the festival and that means my brother will make it there in one way or another. His Highness never lets him skip."
Hakuba made a noncommittal noise in his throat. He still found it completely bizarre how well the two young men apparently got along. According to Heiji Hattori—who was definitely not a friend of his, the prince really wasn't all that close with anyone. He got along with practically everyone and held a position of great respect in the minds of the common people, but when you really examined the heart of the matter, not many people really knew him. Hakuba rather thought it had something to do with how he somehow always seemed to be two steps ahead of everyone else, or the way he so easily manipulated people and circumstances to steer things towards his own desired outcomes. It was hard to get close to someone who spent all his time making himself so damned complicated.
Speaking of complicated people, the knight added as an afterthought, "I wonder if his Majesty is here for the festival as well."
Ran stopped so suddenly in her tracks that Hakuba almost ran into her. "What? The king's here?"
"He arrived very discreetly earlier this morning."
"Well, I guess that explains why the prince is missing." Ran shook her head and started walking again. There was just always so much drama when the royal family got involved. Not that she was complaining. It was nice to have a bit of drama in life now and then as long as she could keep herself out of the war zone. "I wonder if—oh, Shinichi? Shinichi!"
They had emerged into the courtyard and she spotted her brother's familiar figure standing in the shadow of one of the trees beyond the front gate. He was already dressed in clothes appropriate for the festival, though he was fidgeting a little with the rich fabric. He jumped at the shout of his name and spun towards them, gesturing wildly for them to not be so loud. Ran raised her eyebrows at that but made no comment.
"Where have you been all morning?" she demanded as they finally reached the tree.
Her brother shifted his weight from foot to foot, glancing around as though trying to make sure no one was close enough to overhear. "Camping. I only just got back to change twenty minutes ago."
"And his Highness?"
"He went on ahead. He said he'd find me once I get to the city plaza."
"So what are you doing here then?"
Shinichi scratched the back of his head a little sheepishly. "I just thought I'd try to see if I could get a look at the king when he left. Kaito seems really intent on avoiding him. I figured it would help if we knew at least whether he was attending officially or…well, undercover."
"He's attending officially," Hakuba spoke up confidently. "He was already dressed for the part when I saw him with Lord and Lady Kudou."
Shinichi nodded, his expression turning contemplative. He couldn't shake the feeling that the king probably knew exactly what his errant son was up to. The question then was simply what the man intended to do about it. So far, it seemed strangely like the answer was nothing.
"Let's go then." Looping her arm through Hakuba's, Ran started determinedly towards the city, dragging the knight with her. "Come on, Shinichi. The entire festival is waiting."
The first thing Shinichi noticed upon reaching the city was the myriad of lanterns. Lanterns were customary decoration for the Midsummer Festival, but something about these particular lanterns nagged at the back of his mind.
"Oh, wow," Ran exclaimed upon spotting them, pausing beside one of the feathery, crimson lanterns to admire the paint and paper artistry, "I thought they stopped making these years ago."
"How many years?" Shinichi asked suspiciously.
"I'm not sure. Six or seven?"
"Eight," Hakuba supplied, surprising the both of them. "The last year they used them was eight years ago. The trend changed after that from the bird theme to the butterflies we see more commonly now."
The knight shifted a little uncomfortably as both siblings stared at him. "What? I like birds. I used to collect those lanterns."
"Oh." Ran blinked then smiled. "You'll have to show them to me sometime."
Lanterns from a style that went out of fashion eight years ago, Shinichi made a mental note of it then shoved it to the back of his mind. He had a feeling it might be important.
The moment they set foot in the plaza, they were accosted by men and women obscured in fancy costumes of brilliant cloth. Garlands of flowers were draped around their necks and bracelets hung with miniature lantern replicas were pressed into their hands. As soon as they had arrived, the people moved on to another party that had just arrived in the main square and a familiar figure seemed to materialize out of the chaos.
Hakuba's eyebrows rose dramatically at the nickname but Shinichi refused to meet his questioning stare as Kaito slid an arm around his waist and drew him away from his companions. "Kaito, I thought you're supposed to be hiding!"
"I didn't want to spend the night in disguise," the prince said dismissively, apparently unconcerned. Turning, he acknowledged the other two with a nod and a smile. "Sir Hakuba and Lady Ran, I wish you both a delightful evening. I'll just be taking Shinichi here off your hands."
Not waiting for a response, he guided Shinichi into the crowd with his arm still around his waist. "Come on, Princess, we've got a schedule to keep!"
"What schedule?" Shinichi asked nervously. There was a strange feeling gathering in the pit of his stomach but he stubbornly refused to try to analyze it.
Instead of answering, Kaito pulled him up to one of the many stalls lining the plaza. Leaving a few coins on the counter, he swiped two of the pastries from the colorful trays and passed one to his companion. The miniature cakes had been made into the shape of tiny boats, their sails carved of sliced fruit and whipped cream. These too, he noted with some bemusement, seemed oddly familiar. Why boats? He couldn't remember any boats in the story behind the Midsummer Festival. Hold on, though there was that one city that held boat races on this particular festival night. Shinichi couldn't remember the name but he could remember watching the race that one time. It had been shortly after Kaito had started classes at the Academy. The magician had "escaped" the school and kidnapped Shinichi from his own home, intent on breaking what he'd called "the monotony of our everyday lives". It had been fun to visit a city they'd never been to before even though they ended up both getting into trouble with their parents.
"It's good, yes?" Kaito inquired casually, polishing off his own pastry.
Shinichi nodded. "But shouldn't we go for something more filling first? We haven't had dinner yet."
"All in due time."
This earned him a slightly disgruntled sigh mixed with more than a touch of exasperation. "Sometimes, I wish you wouldn't be so mysterious about everything. And… Well, should you really be spending so much time with me?"
Didn't Kaito have plans he needed to see to?
"Of course I should. There's no one I would like to spend today with more."
And even if he told himself that the prince always talked like that, Shinichi couldn't help but blush and look away from that brilliant smile that usually had women falling over themselves to vie for Kaito's attention. Charming really was the only word to describe it, and Shinichi had often wondered if there wasn't real magic in that look. But perhaps it was just the power of flattery and manners. Sweet words really were the instrument of the Devil.
"And now to dinner," Kaito announced interrupting his thoughts, shepherding him onward once more through the crowd. "We've got a reservation."
Which they were almost late to because halfway to their destination, Kaito spotted an all too familiar head of dark brown hair. Sighing in exasperation—what was it with people from the royal palace popping up everywhere?—he pulled Shinichi into the doorway of one of the shops along the plaza and pulled his cloak about the both of them, the dark fabric melding into the shadows of the archway. A finger on the younger boy's lips warned him to be silent, and not a moment too soon as the head of Kaito's personal guard came into view looking a little haggard and a little confused. He had a young woman with him that the prince recognized as another of his soldiers, her brown hair pulled up in a ponytail. What was her name again? Ah yes, Toyama Kazuha, that was it. He would have dismissed their presence as coincidence except that Hattori's green eyes kept flickering from face to face as he walked as though searching for someone or maybe expecting someone to jump out at him.
"Heiji," Kazuha was sighing in clear exasperation, "this is a festival. We're supposed to be having fun. His Majesty said we're just here to take a break."
"I don't believe it," Hattori announced, his chin jutting out stubbornly. "Think about it, Kazuha. The king always attends the festival at the capitol. Always! So what reason could he possibly have for coming here this year?"
His companion rolled her eyes. This was obviously not the first time they'd had this conversation. "Why can't he just want a change in scenery? I mean, his Majesty has never been much for routine."
Hattori waved his hand, dismissing the possibility as impossible. "He never does anything without a reason."
"Yes, well, sometimes that reason is to confuse people. It's just the way he is."
"That's not what I think."
"Yeah? And how many times have you told me that the entire royal family will never make any sense?"
Kaito raised an eyebrow at that, amused despite himself.
Hattori grumbled under his breath. He had said that a lot hadn't he? "That's not what I meant. All I'm saying is that I'll bet you anything his Highness is somewhere around here."
"The prince? Is that way Lady Akako came to Beika as well?"
Kaito cringed inside. Akako was here?
"I doubt it. I mean, if that were the case, I don't see why she would have stayed at the castle instead of coming to the festival with the rest of us."
That was a relief at least. He didn't think the residents of the city wanted to spend their festival night watching the two magic users duel if push came to shove.
Kazuha let out another long-suffering sigh. "Fine then, let's say his Highness is here at this festival. So what?"
Hattori stopped and she almost ran into him. "So what? How can you say that? He's been missing for days!"
"I know, but we all know he's more than capable of looking after himself. And if he's here at this festival, he's obviously not in any danger."
This made the guard captain finally pause and step back to reconsider the situation. "I guess… you're right."
"Finally!" Abruptly smiling, Kazuha took his hand and started off in the direction of the pastry stalls which Kaito and Shinichi had just left.
The prince waited until his guards were well out of earshot before loosening his grip on Shinichi and letting them both back out into the street.
"You really shouldn't worry them like that," Shinichi said, feeling a bit sorry for the royal guards. He'd met both of them on occasion and knew they were both good people very diligent about their jobs.
Kaito sighed. "It's not like I try to worry them. But there's not much I can do if they just choose not to believe me when I left a note telling them not to be concerned. And I'm sure Father can tell that it's authentic and actually from me."
"I suppose not."
Somehow, Shinichi wasn't at all surprised that the place Kaito had chosen for them to eat dinner was located on a restaurant balcony several floors above the street. They had a great view of the busy city plaza and its elaborate decorations from here, and in the distance you could make out the gleam of light upon the waters of the lake. Kaito had always had an odd fondness for high places. They were alone too, set apart from the rest of the diners seated indoors beyond the ornate archway.
What caught and held Shinichi's attention, however, was the music being played in this particular restaurant. The performance was being given live and they had a violinist who he could tell was really very talented. The notes of the melody rang out sweet and clear on the night air, rising above the distant din of the festival below, and Shinichi marveled at how it so easily caught and changed the atmosphere.
Kaito had apparently already arranged for their meal so they hadn't been given menus.
Returning his attention to his companion, Shinichi slowly shook his head. "You really went all out, didn't you? Those lanterns, the ones that went out of fashion eight years ago. That was the first festival we ever went to together, wasn't it? I knew I'd seen them before somewhere."
"And you liked them."
"I would have liked them no matter what they looked like. It was the excitement of just being at the festival."
Leaning back in his chair, the magician shrugged. "Perhaps."
"And those pastries," Shinichi continued, examining the clear gold liquid in the glasses the waiter set before them. Knowing Kaito, it probably wasn't wine even though it looked a lot like it. The prince hated alcoholic beverages with a passion, probably for the way they messed with people's minds, and Shinichi had to agree that he couldn't understand other people's fascination with the stuff. "It's like that festival you kidnapped me to attend all over again. I'm pretty sure we heard a violin performance during another festival, but I don't suppose it's the same musician."
"I couldn't find her," Kaito admitted, his voice tinged with regret. "But the music is the same."
Shinichi waited for him to elaborate but he didn't. And before he could pursue the subject, the waiter arrived with their first course. And after he left, Kaito effortlessly steered the conversation onto other things.
When dessert arrived in the form of pastries shaped like roses, Shinichi simply shook his head and ate it without comment. The moment he set his fork down, Kaito was on his feet and tugging him towards the railing. Shinichi started to ask him what was going on but his answer came in the form of the fireworks. Brilliant silver and gold streamers shot into the sky and burst in flurries of brilliant feathers. Thousands of birds took shape from the sparks, but instead of fading away, they flew back down to circle above the heads of their awed audience. None of the glowing, silver-white birds winged down towards them and lingered for a moment above his outstretched hand before finally soaring skyward once more and disappearing like a ghost into the darkness, losing its shadow amidst the stars.
Shinichi looked back at Kaito with wonder-filled eyes to find the magician watching him. "Is that why you were upset that last time with the fireworks? That's what you wanted them to do?"
Kaito nodded, not taking his gaze from his face. "Getting the light to do all that is a lot more complicated than one might think. But it's worth it, don't you think?"
"Yes, it is."
They stood there in silence for awhile longer as the fireworks show continued on, but Kaito was no longer watching them and neither was Shinichi. Taking a deep breath, Kaito reached out and grasped his hand, bringing it up to brush a kiss across the back. "Shinichi, will you marry me?"
When a startled Shinichi failed to respond right away, Kaito continued a little ruefully, not letting go of his hand. "I know I haven't really properly courted you yet so it's a bit inappropriate, but I was waiting for you to turn eighteen."
After all, that was when people usually started courting. Kaito might have had a reputation for not playing by the book, but he was careful when it came to relationships, especially relationships with people that he cared about.
"Though I guess since we can't get married until you're eighteen anyway, I have two years to court you—make up for lost time and that sort of thing. Even if we're engaged…"
Somewhere during his rambling, the pieces of the puzzle had finally all clicked into place in Shinichi's head and he smiled softly. Kaito trailed off when he saw the look on his face and Shinichi took the opportunity to lean up and press a chaste kiss to his lips. "Yes."
Kaito blinked, perhaps not expecting the simple, single word reply and Shinichi scratched the back of his neck, laughing a little self consciously.
"I was… kind of worried that you were going to ask somebody else. I mean, I know you've never officially courted me or anything, but I've always sort of… And you—I just thought… You know…"
That was possibly the most incoherent speech Kaito had ever heard. Luckily, he understood his Princess well enough to know what he was trying to say regardless.
"You really needn't have worried, you know. I was just waiting for the right time."
Grinning like a lunatic, he produced a ring with a flourish and slipped it onto Shinichi's finger. The platinum band seemed fairly simple upon first glance, set with a sapphire Kaito had chosen to match the color of his Princess's eyes. But when Shinichi tilted it in the moonlight, his keen gaze could pick out what seemed to be countless runes patterning the metal just beneath its glimmering surface.
"What did you do to it?"
Kaito tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Well, to put it simply, I put some wards on it. I figured that it might as well make itself useful and help me protect you. It can't cancel out all spells, but it should do well enough against the average magician. And it'll make it easier for me to find you if the need ever arises."
Oh, well, that was certainly useful and interesting.
The prince raised a bemused eyebrow. "What for?"
Shinichi shrugged helplessly. For always looking out for him. For making life a lot more fun than he thought it would otherwise have been. For always being there. There really wasn't anywhere to begin and it would have sounded strange to try and describe the feelings anyway. So instead, he just said, "For everything."
Kaito's smile turned gentle and he closed the distance between them in one quick step. Catching Shinichi's chin with one hand, he tilted his head up and leaned down to capture his lips in a kiss rather more passionate than the one Shinichi had given him just a moment before. His other arm snaked around the younger boy's waist to draw him closer, their bodies fitting neatly together. Shinichi let his eyelids slide shut, savoring the warmth and maybe a little surprised at how natural it all felt, like everything in their relationship had been leading them towards this moment. So maybe that sounded rather overly dramatic, but then he did spend an almost absurd amount of time with one of the most theatrical people he knew.
As Kaito finally let him pull away, Shinichi spotted movement in the shadows behind him. Blue eyes narrowed in concentration. If he looked just right, he thought he could pick out a faimiliar figure walking away, vanishing into the darkness of the night with a flicker of shadow. Was that…?
"He just left, right?"
At the sudden question, Shinichi blinked and turned to look up at his companion. "You knew he was watching?"
Kaito smirked. "Of course I did. I wanted him to see."
"It makes it official. And I wanted him to know that I'm not going to change my mind." Pulling the smaller boy back into his arms, Kaito buried his nose in his hair and grinned. "Hey, Princess, do you think our parents would mind if we went on a trip around the world for our honeymoon?"
Two years was maybe a bit too early to start discussing their honeymoon, but then Kaito did like to plan ahead.
Akako Koizumi was waiting in one of the castle's smaller formal dining rooms enjoying a glass of wine with the queen when the king returned to it in a flash of silver light, a satisfied smile on his face. He acknowledged her presence with a nod and gave his wife a chaste kiss before sinking into the empty chair. "Good evening, dear ladies. I apologize for my tardiness seeing as I'm the one who scheduled this meeting."
"That's all right. I assume everything went as you wished, your Majesty," Akako mused, crossing her legs and leaning back in her chair.
Toichi's lips quirked in a grin so much like his son's. "You assume correctly."
Chikage looked amused, the corners of her lips turning upwards. "I always thought those two would end up together. I just never understood why Kaito never officially made a move. It's so unlike him to let things drag out."
"I think he just needed a push in the right direction, love." And boy had he chosen a great way to pressure the issue. Of course, seeing as Kaito was going to be the king someday, the matter of heirs would eventually have to come up. But Toichi was sure that if he and his son put their heads together, they could find a way to solve the problem. There had to be some advantages to being two of the most powerful magicians in the kingdom. Turning his attention back to the witch, Toichi continued, "Now, have you considered my proposition?"
The witch smiled slightly, brushing a lock of her long, crimson hair behind her ear. She really was a lovely young woman, but like his son, Toichi remained unaffected by her charms. Maybe it was a family trait that prevented the Kuroba men from falling for her, or maybe it was more just how much they trusted in their own hearts. Their incredible luck and ability to bend the world around them to suit them was what had given rise to Kerolei's many decades of peace. They were just so hard for other people to grasp. In all honesty, Akako rather liked that about them. And that was why…
"I've given it some thought and my answer is yes. I will gladly accept the ambassador's position once the other kingdom has been informed."
That was why she would use her considerable influence to do her best for them and make sure that this peace they had created lasted. The other kingdoms wouldn't know what hit them.
Yes, she would admit that there had been a time when she would very much have liked to marry the prince. But that had been a long time ago, before she'd realized that he would never love her. And he was really too much of a romantic at heart to ever marry a person he did not love.
As the sound of fireworks continued outside, she lifted her wine glass and smiled at the royal couple, a genuine smile that even Kaito might have thought was beautiful. "A toast to his Highness and Lord Kudou's son then. To an… interesting and eventful ever after."
AN: And that's it:) I hope you enjoyed the story. I had a lot of fun writing it. I'm not sure why but this world just felt very vibrant which made working on it quite enjoyable.
As a side note, if you're interested, Alaena F.D. and I started a website for our DC stories where we could put stories and pictures together. This story isn't currently on there yet since we're still trying to figure out what would make a good sort of cover image, but you are welcome to check it out. The site is called Phantom Destinies, and it can be found at: