Started July 28th
Completed August 2nd
Ohgodit'sthefinalchapterwhy. I'm gonna go cry in a corner, now.
Love: (Noun) A profoundly tender, passionate feeling of affection for another person.
It was almost… surreal, the months that followed. We'd beaten them.
The Organization was done and over with. They were no more.
Those months were spent cleaning up the mess that had been left behind. I was constantly on the move, doing something. Whether it was attending follow-up meetings, submitting statements directly to the Prime Minister's office, or attending court hearings for either observation or to act as a witness, I was always busy.
Each day that I came home, I was exhausted. While it was obvious that the Prime Minister had withheld the majority of the operation from the public (the official statement had declared the entire proceeding as the take-down of a well-off drug cartel), I had barely managed to convince the Prime Minister to keep my name out of the statement. Not only did I no longer crave the attention as I might have in the past, it just simply wasn't right.
I wasn't the one to conduct the entire operation. Sure, I might have been the one to think up the plan, but… What of those who risked their lives to actually go after some of the members. What of them? There were hundreds—thousands—of cops, investigators, private eyes, and agents involved in law enforcement around the globe who had taken part in the affair and made it possible. They deserved credit just as much as I had.
All of those I had chosen to confide in deserved just as much credit as I had. The FBI agents, the 10th division, the Mouris, my parents, Agasa, Hakuba, Hattori, Haibara.
But there was no way that they could credit Kuroba Kaito. It would bring too much attention to him and pose a danger to his other 'activities'.
We never even had a chance to talk after that night…
Even though I had chosen…
After that night, they had fallen into a flurry of activity. That night (affectionately referred to as 'the-night-that-shit-went-down' by Heiji), everyone had retreated to the Kudo mansion, fervently awaiting news on Vermouth's health. Sato-san had called on Haibara and Agasa to come and look the boys over (more specifically Shinichi) as the night pushed on. Shinichi had been endlessly hounded and chastised for his actions.
It wasn't until the late hours of the morning that they got the call from Beika Hospital.
It had been a rough night, a small team of doctors working to keep the former assassin from flat-lining as best as they could. She had to be revived a couple of times, but after almost half a day of intensive care, they finally managed to get her stabilized. She was supposed to make a full recovery.
As they finally found that their worries had trickled away, they passed out from exhaustion, sleeping for almost an entire day. Immediately after Shinichi had woken up, he had been whisked away to a meeting with the Prime Minister to hash out a plan for the public statement. In his haste, he never managed to figure out whether or not the other guys had stuck around.
That particular meeting had been drawn out over a course of almost 4 days. Although the Prime Minister of Japan had enough common sense to glide over the facts in order to maintain the peace, he didn't seem to understand Shinichi's reluctance (read: outright refusal) to have his name posted as the official coordinator of the take-down. It just didn't feel right to the Eastern detective.
There was so much more to the entire operation than just himself. He wouldn't have been able to do a single thing on his own. The entire plan had gone off without a hitch because of the thousands of other people who contributed and did their job without a single snag. That was the plan. If a single location or group had caved on their duties, the entire thing would have fallen through.
But it hadn't.
Everyone had done their job. Everyone had contributed to the downfall of the Organization and he wasn't going to claim that he was the one to stand above that all. He had made a plan, passed it down, and left the rest up to them.
It was sort of ironic, really.
Shinichi could vaguely recall a time, back before he had fallen into the tangled webs of the Black Organization, where he would preen at such attention. Back then, he would crave that attention, revel in it.
Now, he found himself instinctively turning away from such an idea. He felt listless in the limelight. When some of the officers would clap him on the back for a job well done, and congratulate him on his success, he would look at their faces. He would read the admiration and expectations in their expressions and feel almost sick to his stomach with confusion.
It was like his entire point of view had been drastically altered. It was hard to understand why they clamored over him finishing a case, now. He was doing his job and the morally correct thing. Why should anybody feel like they had to congratulate him or thank him for that?
Perhaps it was a product of his time spent as Conan.
But nonetheless, the takedown of the Organization had been accomplished by so many people other than just himself. It wasn't fair to claim all of the credit (nor did he have any desire to). After he had finally convinced the Minister to retract his name from the statement (though, he found later, much to his annoyance, that a 'certain unnamed individual' had still been credited as the coordinator), he had been swept into a meeting with the Chief of Police in the Beika district.
That was actually about how the following two months had gone. When he wasn't participating in a meeting with law enforcement leaders or the Prime Minister (and other leaders from other nations), he was poring over paperwork concerning the entire fiasco. Or he was swept up into court hearings and trials.
A month following the incident, Gin and Vodka had gone on trial.
Shinichi had personally played as witness in the closed court-room, getting smiles of support from Heiji, Hakuba, and Kaito who sat next to the Prime Minister. The trial had been a pretty basic open-and-shut case and proceeded without any problems.
Both of them had been sentenced to life in prison.
Vermouth's hearing had to be postponed for a few extra weeks so she could make a recovery before appearing in court, but when she did, Shinichi and the other three had appeared as witnesses to testament her desire to reform and allude to her contributions to the plan.
In the end, Vermouth (formally known as Chris Vineyard), was sentenced to 50 years in prison, contestable on good behavior. Vermouth had smiled like she had hoped for that particular sentence all along.
Even though the entire group had attended each of the hearings that Shinichi had, the Eastern detective had never really gotten the chance to speak with them. It was irksome, but it couldn't be helped. There were things that needed to be done and protocols that needed to be followed.
But Shinichi was getting antsy. Even though it had been two months since the incident, it had been almost two and a half since Kaito had kissed him. In his opinion, that was too long. He had no idea how Kaito was handling it.
He needed to give Kaito his answer. Soon.
"So everything's been settled?"
Shinichi shot a wry smile at the back of his mother's head as she preened in the decorative mirror. "Everything? Surely you're joking, Mom." The young man leaned back into the couch, scrubbing a hand absently over his eyes. "I'm going to be doing paperwork over this entire stunt for months. I mean, they already have a set number of courts booked until August. That's almost 5 months!" He sighed.
Yukiko giggled quietly as she twirled one of her curls absently. She whirled on her heels to face her son and dropped her hands to her hips. "You know what I mean, Shin-chan." She grinned at the way his mouth tightened in displeasure before continuing. "Sure, you're going to be doing paperwork a lot more than usual, but all of the meetings and stuff—all of the bigger things have been taken care of, right?" She raised an eyebrow at him.
Shinichi focused his cerulean eyes on his mother for a brief moment before turning his attention inward. "Well, all safe houses were formally dissolved as of last week," he held up his pointer finger to count, "Most of the higher ranking members have been caught and are scheduled for trial," his middle finger joined the count, before he raised his ring finger. "All of those unaccounted for have detailed profiles released around the world as an top priority to be placed under arrest." He paused for a moment, his fingers briefly wilting before his hand fell limply to his lap.
Out of the blue, he mumbled, "Haibara gave me the final cure yesterday."
The brunette woman snapped her head away from the mirror to once more regard her son. "Oh, Shinichi," she murmured, crossing the distance between them and falling into the seat beside him to pull him into a hug.
"I'm so glad. I'm so happy for you, sweetie."
"Mom," Shinichi burbled quietly with a mild laugh. "It's fine, it's fine." He squeezed her briefly before pulling away with a faint blush. The detective cleared his throat to regain his bearings and shook his head. "Haibara chose not to take it. Jodie and James-san made an appeal to the Prime Minister to let her actions during her time in the Organization slide and thus giving her a clean slate as Haibara Ai. Though she is essentially on call for any sort of biological disaster that may happen in the future." He smiled. "Jodie-san and the others have returned to America to take over the situation overseas. Of course, Beika's 10th Division has been taking care of some proceedings within the area during their free time."
Yukiko nodded with a smile, artfully allowing the topic diversion to slide. Then her face wilted somewhat, and she tilted her head worriedly. "…And the Mouris? …Ran?"
Shinichi hesitated for a brief moment, eyes sliding across the room absently as he tried to direct his thoughts. "They're… okay. Ossan doesn't seem to want to be anywhere close to me without throttling me…" He gave a hollow laugh. "Eri-san is better, but… she's still pretty distant. They've both returned to work, as far as I know. Ran…" He licked his lips.
"Ran is trying her best… to move past…" His words failed him, so he waved his hands in a generalization. Yukiko nodded with a bittersweet smile, understanding the motion. "She's willing to talk to me, but… it's still pretty… strained…" Shinichi caught his mother's eye before putting a resigned expression on his face. "It'll take a while. We both know that."
"I see…" His mother murmured, brushing her hand absently over her son's head and tucking locks of hair behind his ears. As Shinichi had been growing up, she had often forgotten exactly how young he was. He was an old soul—an intellectual and intuitive being down to his very core. But when it came to the matters of the heart… That was when she truly realized that he still had much to experience in life. Already, he was starting to learn about love… Her baby was growing up faster than she thought.
"But apparently she's started talking to Eisuke-san."
Yukiko blinked, turning her attention back on Shinichi. "Eisuke?" She paused a moment to think. "The brother of that undercover CIA agent? Hondou…Hidemi?" She tested the name aloud, sending Shinichi a mildly confused look when he nodded.
Shinichi shrugged at the look. "I don't know, I think they'd hit it off great. He truly cares for her…" He trailed off with a faint smile. "From what I've gathered, he's living with his sister… who's apparently in a relationship? Ran said something about a guy that kept showing up…" The detective shrugged. "But Eisuke is apparently planning on coming back to Japan during his first semester of University to study abroad."
She nodded along thoughtfully. "It's good that Ran seems to be trying to move on." Yukiko peeked at her son from the corner of her eye as she feigned interest in a spot on the knee of her skirt. "And what about Kaito?"
It was almost impossible to keep the grin from curling at her lips.
"…I think he's gone back home to his mother."
Yukiko carefully swung her head in Shinichi's direction and gave him a disbelieving look. "So there's nothing whatsoever that is going to happen between you?"
Shinichi opened his mouth to deny any accusations before his mother interrupted with a repeated, "Nothing?"
He snapped his mouth shut with a click, chewing absently at his lip as he looked away. He stayed quiet for a moment before saying, "There might be… something…" Yukiko squealed and moved as if to engulf him in another hug until Shinichi snapped up a hand and pointed a finger in her direction, a stern look trained on his face.
His mother dropped her hands to her lap, practically vibrating in her seat. She knew exactly what he meant. That wasn't a "there isn't anything yet", that was a "there's probably going to be something, but you can't freak out just yet". She could wait.
"I'll have to find the photo albums!" she burst out.
Shinichi groaned, muttering under his breath. Yukiko stood from her seat and dusted off her skirt, fixing him with a grin. "Not just for you. Kaito, too." When Shinichi sent a puzzled look in her direction, she gave him a devilish grin, standing as she crossed back over to the mirror. "You two met once or twice as children, actually."
The blank look that he sent her earned him a grin.
"Yep. Just once or twice though. At first glance, it was actually hard to figure out which kid was ours. Until one started popping flowers into existence. Then it was obvious."
Shinichi blinked. Huh. Small world, I guess, he reflected inwardly. And then: Heavens above, he was already into magic, then. He must have been a handful.
His thoughts derailed as he caught sight of the rolling suitcase off to the side. He wasn't all too surprised, to be honest. He never expected his parents to stick around for quite this long. It had only been a matter of time… Quirking a quick eyebrow, Shinichi gestured to the luggage. "Where are you off to, now?"
Yukiko's eyes positively sparkled. "America, yet again. Your father has a few publishers to talk to. In the meantime, I think I'm going to try my hand at a little bit of Broadway acting." She wriggled her eyebrows. "Afterwards, I'm thinking of convincing your father to take a tour of Peru. We are long overdue for a tour of Machu Picchu. Though I don't think it'll take much convincing…"
He immediately understood. "He has a deadline coming up?"
His mother grinned and simply returned, "Care to take a page out of your father's book and skip out on some of the humdrum paperwork around here?"
Peru? Perhaps that wouldn't be too bad…
…But he still had things to take care of here. Kaito…
Shinichi sent his mother a smile. "Maybe next time."
The brunette woman gave him a knowing smile before she shrugged nonchalantly, sweeping over to the door. "Your loss, Shin-chan. We'll enjoy the ruins without you, I suppose."
"Ruins?" Yusaku peeked his head through the doorway, hovering over his wife's shoulder. He raised an eyebrow in Shinichi's direction before pressing a quick kiss to Yukiko's cheek. "What ruins, dear?"
Yukiko grinned. "We haven't been to Machu Picchu yet."
"No, I don't suppose we have. Peru, huh? Sounds like a plan."
Yukiko sent Shinichi a pointed grin oozing of victory. Yusaku wrapped his arms around his wife from behind and focused his gaze on his son. "I don't suppose you'll be tagging along." It wasn't a question. A statement. "…You have other things to attend to."
Were his parents all-knowing or something? Was Kaito that obvious? Or was there some sort of Kudo-residence gossip that he was unaware of? Shinichi twitched. "Yes, I'm skipping out on this one." He pointedly ignored the similar knowing looks his parents gave him. Damn them and their disturbing skills.
His father pulled out of the embrace and aimed a quick look at his watch. "We'd better leave if we want to catch that flight." Outside, there was a honk. "...And that would be our taxi."
Yukiko patted his arm and strode back over to her son, followed closely by Yusaku. They both wrapped their son in a brief hug before pulling away. "As always, we're only a phone call away. Eat. Sleep. Do something other than work on paperwork and cases. Have fun." She pressed a quick kiss to his cheek and pulled away. Shinichi shook his head fondly.
"I know the drill, Mom."
"And yet you still manage to barely find some time to take care of yourself."
How did they kno—Parent powers. Right. He should be used to that by now.
"Shinichi," Yusaku murmured with a pointed look.
And just like that, they swept out the door. His parents: ever the whirlwind of enthusiastic adventure. Sometimes he really wondered how they managed to function as a family. Then he just realized that they were actually quite alike in very strange ways.
Shinichi waited for the sound of the taxi to fade away before sagging into the couch, closing his eyes and releasing a breath of air. The house was still; silent. He scrubbed a hand over his eyes and fought back a yawn. He had been distracted by a rather compelling case up until late the night prior, so he never managed to get a very decent sleep.
Just as he managed to doze, a quiet, metallic sound met his ears. He lazily blinked his eyes open, taking a moment to place the sound. The lock on the window behind him. His eyes slipped shut. Though he heard no sound of the window opening, he waited a few moments before speaking aloud. Oddly enough, though he had been nervous about this entire encounter, he found himself falling into a feeling of comfort.
"Breaking and entering, Kaito? And to think I had thought you were above that."
Kaito rounded the couch and stood before Shinichi, hands haughtily upon his hips. "I'm sure you don't even want me to start on the many different ways that that particular statement is wrong."
Shinichi's eyes fluttered open to regard the magician. "While that might be true, I'm sure that even you have used the front door."
The messy-haired young man thought that over before giving a simple nod. "Touché."
The detective watched the other man for a moment and collected his thoughts. Just as he opened his mouth to start on what he had been meaning to say for over two months, Kaito beat him to the punch.
"You know," Kaito said suddenly, "We never really went on a real date."
That was how the intellectual young man found him at the same amusement park that Kaito had taken him to many months ago.
Apparently, the first date didn't count since he had been 'de-age-ified' at the time. (Kaito's words, not his.)
This time around, they rode some rides, indulged in some greasy junk food and laughed and joked around, generally dissolving the remnants of the awkward atmosphere that had cropped up from that kiss from so long ago.
Shinichi paused in his stride at the reminder, not noticing the questioning look that Kaito sent him. They were once more in the line for the Ferris wheel. The kiss. What exactly was this 'date' supposed to mean? Was Kaito using it as a means for his last chance before Shinichi shattered everything?
Did he think that Shinichi was going to reject him?
He frowned. To be honest, he wasn't really sure how to say it. Or, more accurately, he wasn't sure if he could bring himself to say the words out loud without choking up or chickening out. Maybe there was a way that he could show him…?
Shinichi stopped beside Kaito just a few couples back from the front of the line. He reached his hand out with purpose, catching Kaito's within his own and clasping it tightly. Kaito snapped his head to the side, eyes slightly wide with wonder.
As the line moved forward, Shinichi tugged gently on Kaito's hand, never meeting his gaze. Finally, Kaito softly smiled, turning his attention back to the line and threading their fingers together.
During the entire rotation of the Ferris wheel, Kaito and Shinichi sat side by side, hands clasped and quietly enjoying the scenery.
They stood outside of Shinichi's front door in the quiet, cool night. The two young men regarded one another before Kaito started.
"KID isn't going to disappear."
Shinichi watched the magician for a bit. He nodded. "I know."
Kaito nodded along, knowing that Shinichi had already known this. It needed to be said aloud. "Snake still hasn't been accounted for. I don't want to stop until he's behind bars. And if there's a chance that there's some truth to the legend of Pandora…"
"It has to be destroyed… I won't stand in your way."
The magician smiled softly. Then his countenance became significantly more upbeat. He grinned at Shinichi. "You'll chase me forever, won't you?" He recited dramatically, throwing a hand up to his forehead.
Despite his tone and the humorous dramatics, Shinichi knew that it was no joke. He scoffed before leveling Kaito with a determined gaze. "Of course. Somebody has to make sure you keep your thieving impulses to a minimum."
The messy haired young man chuckled in return. "Why don't you just admit you love me already, Shin-chan?"
"Hmm," Shinichi hummed thoughtfully. Then he leaned forward, pressing his lips to Kaito's, stunning him. After a few moments, he pulled away, giving the magician an assessing look. "Not yet."
Kaito blinked back to awareness, unaware of the light dusting of pink across his cheeks. Hm. That was probably the first time that Shinichi had really taken notice of that…
"Okay," Kaito replied cheekily. "I can roll with that." Too quick for Shinichi to process, Kaito had leaned across the distance and reacquainted their lips. A few seconds into the kiss, Shinichi pulled away with an undignified yelp. The pervert had groped his—!
Wasting but a quick moment to wriggle his eyebrows, Kaito grinned and leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Shinichi and pulling away in the blink of an eye. "It's been fun, pumpkin, but I have a few matters to attend to." He practically skipped down the steps and up the walk, pausing at the front gates before tossing a look over his shoulder back at Shinichi.
"Oh, and I forgot to return that all those months ago." The magician-thief waved a hand in Shinichi's general direction. "Could you take care of that for me? Do say 'hi' to Nakamori-keibu for me. I look forward to the next heist!" He turned the corner around the gate and then leaned back in, poking his head around the corner. Kaito grinned. "And date!"
Shinichi blinked as Kaito disappeared. It was lucky he was used to dealing with his mother…
…He was definitely going to have his hands full.
"But…" Shinichi wondered aloud, "What was he talking about…?" He shifted with a frown, pausing when he felt an out-of-place weight around his neck. He looked down, snorting as he caught sight of the intricate jewelry lying elegantly against his collar bone.
The Tear of the Goddess.
Shinichi shook his head. Damned sneaky magician-turned-thieves. He hadn't even noticed… Actually, he had completely forgotten that KID had yet to return it.
He shifted from foot to foot, reaching into his pocket to pull out his house key and fell still for the nth time that day. Slowly, he retracted a small note card attached to the (miraculously unharmed) bud of a red rose, its stem cut short. The detective eyed the flower warily for a moment before reading the English elegantly written on the card.
"Chase me forever and I'll never let you fall alone. Amo te."
For once, the familiar card had been signed "Kuroba Kaito".
Cerulean eyes trailed back to the rose bud once more. Immediately, Shinichi found his mind grasping for the symbolism. Flower bud—a symbol for the start or beginning of something. A red rose—the symbol for passionate, undying love.
He trailed his eyes heavenward, settling on the vibrant moon peeking from behind the clouds. "'The beginning of a passionate love'… 'Amo te,' huh?" He smiled softly.
"Not just yet, Kaito."
The universe abides by the concept of cause and effect. With the decision of choosing to take one action over another, various paths open up, leading to inevitably different walks of life.
It is because of the choices that were made that the world is as it is.
I wouldn't change what has happened thus far. Not for the world. I've made my decisions, and while it has caused me pain from time to time, I don't regret it. I'm content where I am—happy even.
I've created my world around me, built it brick by brick by pushing through the path of the unknown. I played the game of cause and effect, choosing the cause and blindly creating the effect. I was most certainly lucky.
In the end, it led me to him. Sure, things have only just begun, but… I'm striving for my happiness. Our happiness.
Perhaps pursuing happiness has always just been an endless chase. But in the end…
Maybe that isn't so bad?
EDIT: I probably should have clarified this: "Amo te" is actually Latin for "I love you". I didn't mean Spanish ("Te amo"), lol.
…You know, despite there being detailed plans on this chapter, I never meant for Shinichi and Kaito to have met as kids. It just kinda… slipped in there… Hm. Oh well.
I love the interaction between Shinichi and his parents. It's always so fun to write. Particularly that of his mother.
So! I have been getting many messages as of the previous chapter about whether or not there will be a sequel… Or demanding one. That amusing sentiment aside, it's time to let you guys know:
Yes. There will be a sequel.
Some of you might have caught on to a few tidbits that haven't exactly been wrapped up. Things that still need to be dealt with. This story will continue. As for when? I'm not quite sure. I'm going to do my best to work on it immediately, so I would start checking back in a month or two. However, do take note that I am going off to University and therefore might not have as much time on my hands. I'm going to try my best despite, but I make no promises. Either way, I will keep you guys posted via twitter (username Desperatembrace) and my FF profile.
I hope you guys have enjoyed the ride as much as I have, and I hope to see you guys again when the sequel starts up! It's been awesome!