Egg Duty

Chapter 3:

00 Wednesday 00

Aoko was lethargic the next morning. Somehow, she managed to get through the chores and got to school, carefully placing the egg on her desk before lying her head beside it.

"Did Junior keep you up last night?" Kaito joked with her as he came in.

"No…" Her head did not move, nor did her eyes open.

A frown hovered in Kaito's eyes as he looked at the gray cloud lingering above his friend's head. He hadn't sent a KID notice, so she wasn't worried about her father. And she didn't normally worry about trivial things, either.

"What's wrong?" Kaito had put his bag down and moved the egg to his desk. Careful not to invade her bubble too much, he knelt by her desk and rested his chin on the far edge. "Aoko?"

"Nothing. I just didn't get good sleep last night." Aoko reached up and rubbed her eyes, trying to rub the tiredness from them. The ring glimmered on her finger.

"It's not because of this, is it?" Kaito pointed at the ring.

"No." Her defensive voice was sharp.

"Just asking. I know how you're like the Princess and the Pea. Any little change and you can't sleep." Joking, Kaito poked her cheek lightly, then pulled it away quickly as she snapped at it with her teeth.

"I'm fine. Don't worry about it." Aoko sat up and grabbed her books.

Throughout the day, Kaito kept glancing at her, but never saw her expression change from the usual concentration she had when taking notes. At the end of the day, Aoko sent Kaito home on his own. She only said enough to tell him that he would take the egg the following day. It was clear that he was not to follow her.

Ginzo worked late, so Aoko ate alone, studied and went to bed. She had no idea what other family lives were like. Her own mother passed away when she was still in kindergarten. And she only had vague memories. She remembered the Kuroba family when Toichi was still alive, but they were hardly 'normal.'

As responsible as she was, she was not cut out to be a wife or mother yet. She had no concept of 'family' when it came to a married couple with children.

There was plenty of time yet. There was no rush for Aoko to think about thinks like marriage and babies. Instead, she should be thinking about school, her future and career. Soon she would be at a crossroad in her life where she could leave the house to study elsewhere. But that would mean her father would be alone.

Waiting for Kaito was a possibility, but he would be so focused on doing what he wanted that it was possible that he would completely forget about her. For once in her life, Aoko would have to make a selfish decision. Even though they were only in their second year in high school, Aoko had to think about her future plans.

00 Thursday 00

Aoko left the egg with Kaito during lunch the next day. She could not bring the egg into the library.

"Find what you were looking for?" Kaito welcomed her back when she slid into her seat at the bell.

"Yes. But I need to look more. Not just in our library." Aoko reached out to take back the egg. "Thanks for watching him."

"No problem." Kaito was glad that she was talking to him again. He always got out of sorts when her mood forced her into seclusion. It always made him feel locked out and pushed away from her. "What were you looking for?"

"Shh. Sensei's here." Aoko turned to the front of the class. Kaito hid his frustration. First seclusion, then secrets. He didn't like it. It was unlike Aoko to act that way.

"Ne! Aoko!" Kaito snagged her arm when he finally caught up to her by the river after class. "Can we talk?"

At the slightest inclination of her head, Kaito dragged her down the bank and pushed her to sit down. The egg sat safely on his bag as he paced back and forth in front of Aoko.

"What did you want to talk about, Kaito?"

"I'm worried." Kaito confessed after a moment's pause as he thought of what was the real problem.

"That's unlike you. Mr. Carefree." Aoko always looked happy when she joked with him. But he saw through her light façade. She asked, "What about?"

"You. Aoko, I'm worried about you."

"Why?"

"You aren't acting like yourself! You're quiet and sad then you're faking happiness. It's not healthy to hide everything." Kaito stopped pacing and knelt close to her, a serious expression on his face. He took up her hands in his and looked into her eyes when he spoke next. "You can tell me anything. Remember?"

"I remember." Aoko whispered, breaking eye contact as she looked at their hands. She loved Kaito's hands. He always had something hidden there. Whether it be a toy to pacify a crying child or a rose for her, he never cease to amaze her with what he could do with them. Lightly, she turned her fingers, tracing the curves of his hands as he waited silently for her to speak. "Kaito, will do you a magic trick for me?"

"Sure." It was rare for Aoko to ask for a show. "Watch carefully now."

He stood and straightened his jacket and pushed up his sleeves briefly to show her his bare wrists. Then suddenly, his hands twisted and there was a stuffed animal sheep in his hands.

"For you." He gave it to her and she ran a hand over its soft, fluffy fur.

"Thanks, Kaito." She smiled at him, though he could see the shadow of sadness hovering at the edges of her eyes. "You're going to be a world class magician in no time."

"What?" In a way, he already was, but KID was not really a career choice he wanted to keep for long. He had things he wanted to do that he couldn't as long as KID was needed.

"You are going to continue studying magic, aren't you?" Aoko turned as Kaito sat beside her.

"I guess so. I never thought about it. I certainly like magic, but I have other skills too." Those skills were necessary to pull off most of his heists.

"You love the audience though. Putting on a performance has always been your thing." Aoko made a valid point.

"What about you? What will you do, Aoko?"

She was silent, looking blankly at the river such that, if he didn't know her better, would have thought she had not heard him. Valiantly, Aoko tried to keep her bottom lip from trembling. Leaning over, Kaito pressed his arm against hers. Instinctively, Aoko dropped her head onto his shoulder and bent her head so her hair hid her expression from him. Though he could not see her face, he knew that she was not hiding from him anymore. He wrapped his arm around her loosely.

"Will you stay here?" He felt her shake her head. It was not a 'no,' but an 'I don't know' sort of shake. "Will you study abroad with me?"

Her head kept shaking. He kept listing.

"Become a police officer like your father? Become a teacher? Work in an office? Write, draw, sing, dance?" He petted her hair and she eventually stopped moving her head. "What do you want?"

"What I want?" Her voice was watery.

"What you really want."

"To be happy…with people I love and who love me." Aoko whispered. "But I don't know how."

"How what, Aoko?" Kaito was starting to really worry about the girl verging on hysterics in his arms.

"I don't know how to be happy." Her hand went up, wiping her eyes. "I'm content now, but I don't know what it's like to be happy."

Happiness was a fleeting emotion for Aoko. She had moments where she could recall that she was happy, but grasping that feeling or recreating it eluded her.

"And I'm only mediocre at things. Nothing holds my interest." Aoko did not complete her thought aloud, "Other than you."

"You are not mediocre." Kaito squeezed her briefly. "You're brilliant. Smart and sassy. The best mix."

Aoko smacked his chest with the back of her fist.

"Journalist."

"Hm?"

"Writing. Freelance, maybe." Kaito mused. "With wide interests, you can write about many topics since you can easily grasp concepts. That's why you get bored with things. You just want some knowledge in everything."

Aoko was astonished. Maybe Kaito had a real idea.

"And then, you can travel the world with me after we learn a little more and you're free to move around."

Shifting so she could see his face, Aoko saw his wide easy smile.

"You would want me to travel with you?" She was incredulous.

"Of course I do! You can even help me out. By my beautiful assistant. Get sawed in half." He let out a chorkle.

"He said 'beautiful.'" Aoko thought, her face flushing red.

"Feeling better now?"

She nodded. Now she had options she hadn't thought about to consider.

"Thank you, Kaito. I'm sorry for making you worry."

"No apologizing to me." Kaito told her firmly. "Aoko will never have to apologize to me, okay?"

"Okay." She nodded slowly.

"Good. I think Junior's ready to go home." Kaito helped Aoko stand, then picked up his things. "I'm going to miss him, I think."

"I'm sure you'll have a son and he'll be just like you. Then you'll say something else." Aoko joked before she even realized that her mouth was moving.

They parted ways a little later and Kaito told the egg, "I would not if it was our son."

00 Friday 00

Most of the girls were crying as they handed the egg back to the teacher for the end of their assignment. Aoko gave it a little wave and Kaito sat and thought, "Until next time, son."

"Kaito." Aoko was facing him, her left hand outstretched, ring waiting. "Our marriage is over, right?"

"I guess." Kaito carefully slid it off and stashed it away. Aoko turned away, absentmindedly rubbing where the phantom pressure sat around her finger. "Miss it already?"

"I kind of got used to it."

"Good." Kaito thought. "Because I fully plan on putting another one on that finger for the rest of your life, Aoko."