Mikau: Hey everybody! Good to see you; how's it going? I'm a little sick. It's just a cold, but it's annoying, and it's slowing me down. Well, this is the last chapter, so I hope you guys enjoy it. Before we get started, I'd like to thank Shara Raizel, MysteryConan, Aniki-xvi, and Weasel for your reviews. On with the show!
Disclaimer: If I owned it, I would call in a fashion consultant for Ran and Hakuba. Everyone else seems to get dressed in the morning just fine except for those two.
Reconsidering Your Options
"You called to ask me what you should get the Kiddo for Christmas," Chrisy Monroe replied in an utter deadpan tone of voice.
"You know him better than I do, so I thought that you would have some ideas. As you have so kindly told me on several occasions, I have no experience dealing with others. I've never really picked out a present before. I wouldn't be calling, if I didn't seriously need your help, Chrisy-san," Saguru sighed, pacing the length of his room for the nth time.
"You're the one he's been spending all of his free time with lately, not me, and, if you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a hypocrite. I don't have much experience relating with others either. You seriously think you need my help, Goldilocks?" She returned the sigh with interest.
"Yes. I've got two weeks to find the perfect gift. Help me…. Please," he added begrudgingly.
There was a rather loud roar of a crowd in the background of the call, and Saguru could hear Chrisy-san rubbing some choice insults in some poor soul's face.
"Okay, I'm back."
"Chrisy-san, just where are you and what are you doing?" Saguru asked stoically.
"Pool hall. Kickin' butt and takin' names…only I'm not so interested in names." He could almost see her shrugging. "Look. You can do this. From the way he talks about you nowadays, you two have become pretty close, right?"
"Did he say that?" Saguru's pacing came to a sudden halt.
She cleared her throat. "Yeah, well, my point was that you know him. You know what he likes. You know what's important to him. A gift that you think long and hard about is gonna mean a whole lot more than something I tell you to go out and buy. If all else fails, take him window shopping and watch him. That's what you detectives are good at, isn't it? Observing and making deductions?"
"Alright. You're right, Chrisy-san. Thank you; it's just…it has to be something he really wants…something that will make him love me," Saguru mumbled, collapsing onto his couch with a sigh.
"You ever hear the expression, 'It's the thought that counts'?" Chrisy rolled her eyes, motioning for Kei to grab their jackets. "The gift isn't gonna be what makes him fall for you; you are gonna make him fall for you. Kiddo's not a materialistic person. You know that."
"…Yes, but that makes finding the perfect gift rather hard," the detective groaned.
"It doesn't have to be the 'perfect' gift, Goldilocks…just something thoughtful. It's not a big deal; what are you, a lovesick schoolgirl?" Chrisy mocked, rolling her eyes and digging out the keys to her motorcycle.
Saguru debated responding, "Yes!" but instead asked, "You know, I've noticed something about you: you only call Kei-san by his proper name; why is that? Is it that you can't be bothered to learn others' names, or do you have some other reason for it?"
Chrisy was silent for nearly an entire minute. "If you take the time to really get to know someone, you become attached. Calling someone by their given name is a sign of intimacy; we don't do intimacy in my line of work. That's why most of my coworkers call me Chrysanthemum, and that's why I don't bother with given names. I've lost the desire to be close to others…. Now, Kei and I are going to work; I'd advise getting the Kiddo a scarf or something. Knit it yourself; isn't that what young girls do nowadays? Then again, I'm getting my information from manga, so I wouldn't trust it. Goodnight, Goldilocks."
The line went dead before Saguru could quip back.
Well, that phone call had been both insightful and completely useless.
He made a note never to join any kind of secret service and went back to contemplating his gift. He didn't get very far into it before his phone rang.
"Hakuba Saguru speaking," he answered, wondering what his beloved could be calling about.
"Hey, Haku-chan. It's me," the magician not-quite-sighed. "What's up?"
"Kuroba…Hello. I was just…thinking about my Christmas shopping. Is everything quite alright? You don't usually call this late." The blonde's eyebrows knitted together in worry.
"Yeah. It's fine; don't read too much into it. It's just Mom's not home and…and the heat's not working," Kaito lied. "The repair guy can't come until tomorrow, so I was wondering if I could spend the night at your place."
"Goodness! Of course you can stay with us. Do you need Baaya and me to come pick you up? It's no trouble at all," Saguru assured.
"Nah, it's fine." Kaito nibbled on his lip, feeling kind of guilty for lying. "I'm just gonna take the bus, but thanks anyway. I should be there in about…thirty minutes. Thanks again for doing this. I really appreciate it."
"As if I'd let you freeze to death, Kuroba," the detective scoffed. "Think nothing of it."
"See ya then, then."
There was something in the background that sounded vaguely like an overhead announcement on a train, but then the call disconnected.
Saguru's brow furrowed.
If Kuroba were coming from his house, it would take fifteen minutes tops by public transit to arrive at the Hakuba Manor. If he were on a train and it was going to take thirty minutes, Kuroba would have to be coming from a different point of origin.
Saguru decided not to ask about it when the magician arrived on his doorstep half an hour later, looking like he was trying really hard to fool Saguru into thinking that things were okay. "Come on in and get warmed up. The snow's really coming down, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Kaito mumbled, following his host up to the bedroom. "Thanks again, Haku-chan."
"You don't have to thank me, you know; I do enjoy your company." Saguru debated commenting upon the slight puffy, reddish tint to his friend's eyes, but he ultimately decided against it. "You look tired. Can I offer you something to eat or drink, or would you perhaps just want to rest?"
"Nah, I'm fine. Can we watch a movie, though?" Kuroba requested, sinking down into the couch in his usual spot.
"Of course," Saguru replied complaisantly. "Was there anything in particular you wanted to see? A particular genre?"
"No comedies…and no romances…" Kaito responded after a moment of thought. "Do you have anything really bloody? Something with lots of gore or maybe a thriller/suspense or something?" The magician bit his lip. "I don't guess you would."
Why did his pacifist of a thief, a man who so abhorred violence and suffering that he risked his life on a regular basis to prevent it, want to watch some slasher film?
"You are in luck. By some fluke, I happen to own Saw 2. I've never seen it or its predecessor, but I hear it's horrific. Also, if you'd rather, I own the complete Alfred Hitchcock."
Kaito hummed, considering his options. "You pick. Just not the one with the kid with the bomb on the bus."
"Right. How about The Lodger, Psycho, or The Birds?"
Kaito pursed his lips. "The Birds?"
Saguru nodded, popping in the DVD and taking his place beside his friend.
About twenty minutes (and thirty-three point five seconds) into the movie, Saguru paused it and turned to look at his companion. "Kuroba, it's obvious that you have no interest in this film. Do you want to talk about why you're here? It's apparently huge, judging by the fact that, for the first time, you're utterly failing to mask your emotions entirely when you're endeavoring to."
"It's nothing," Kaito muttered, trying really hard to make his face and his words match. It was kind of difficult at the moment.
Saguru misunderstood his friend's reluctance to confide in him and sadly replied, "You know, if you don't want to discuss it with me, that's fine, but I'd prefer you talk to someone; you look a bit distraught, and it's not healthy to keep things like that to yourself. Perhaps you should call Kudo-kun."
Kaito winced almost imperceptibly.
Suddenly things began to click for our European sleuth. "…You've already spoken with Kudo-kun. That train you were on when you called me earlier…you were coming from Beika, where Kudo-kun lives. What happened? Did you two have a row?"
Kaito's pokerface broke, and silent tears began to stream down his face. He pulled his knees up to his chest and set his forehead down upon his knees as he shook his head. "I told him I loved him."
Saguru's mouth dropped open. "Wh-What did he say? He wasn't mean about it was he? Did he say something derogatory to you? If he's hurt you, you just tell me, and I'll beat him to a pulp."
"N-No," Kaito chuckled through tears. "No, nothing like that. Thanks, though, Haku-chan. It means a lot that you've got my back."
"No problem at all." Saguru scooted in closer and gently began to rub his darling's neck and shoulders. "You're my best friend; I'll always be there for you."
Kaito nodded, trying to get his act together. "He was really nice about it, actually. He thought I was joking at first, but when he realized I wasn't he looked terrified. He said he was sorry about a million times, but…he's got someone else, and he's not really interested in guys."
"Is he quite certain he's not in denial?" Saguru snorted. "I've seen the way you two flirt and carry on in your calls and texts."
"He said he was just treating me like he'd treated me when we were little. We were always really lovey-dovey. He told me he cares about me a whole lot, but…but he doesn't love me like he loves her. I'm like a brother to him. He said he was sorry for leading me on, but he still wants to be friends," Kuroba finished with a gulp.
"Oh, Kuroba," Saguru sighed, loosely wrapping an arm around his beloved. "I'm so sorry. Are you going to be alright? Is there anything I can do?"
"If you could pick up the pieces of my heart and put them together like you do the clues of a case, that would be great," Kaito sighed, taking out his handkerchief and drying his eyes. "Geez, this sucks."
"I know. I'm sorry that you feel so crumby right now, but it will get better, Kuroba. You'll fall in love again. Baaya told me that you sometimes have to suffer a lot of heartbreak before finding true love but that in the end it was worth it. I don't really know from experience, but…I'd like to hope that that's true. I'm sure you'll find the one person you're meant to be with. Who knows? Maybe you've already found them; maybe it's just not the right time for you two to be together yet."
"You're talking about Aoko?" Kaito hummed pensively.
"Yes," Saguru sighed. "But…until then, you want to know what I do when I'm feeling down?"
"What?" The brunette cocked his head to the side as his body uncurled out of its ball.
"I get Baaya to bake something with me, and then we make hot chocolate from scratch. Sometimes when I'm feeling really down in the doldrums, I get her to make me some popcorn with chocolates and nuts mixed in. Then, if I'm lucky, we watch an old black and white film together. It always makes me feel better. Does any of that sound appealing to you?" Saguru smiled sheepishly, hoping a suggestion or two of his helped because he really didn't have any other ideas.
"All of it?" Kaito gave his friend a tired smile. "You don't mind, do you?"
Saguru rolled his eyes. "Idiot. Of course I don't. You must not fully grasp how much I value you as a friend, Kuroba," the detective sighed, getting to his feet. "Follow me. I have a recipe I think you'll like; it's called Death by Chocolate."
"Is that even an option?" Kuroba's indigo eyes swelled up like balloons. "That's the way I wanna go!"
"If only we could choose," Saguru chuckled, leading the way.
They whipped up dessert, cocoa, and the popcorn mix before heading back upstairs to pick out a movie.
"Got anything with Humphrey Bogart?" Kuroba inquired sheepishly. "I'm kind of a fan."
"I have many a film with Humphrey Bogart," the blonde proudly announced.
"Pick your favorite then," Kaito snickered as he curled up on the couch with his mug of hot chocolate.
Saguru put in the DVD and settled down next to his crush. As the film played, he slowly stretched his arm out along the back of the couch, snaking it unobtrusively around Kuroba.
Kaito sighed, letting his head drop to rest on Hakuba's shoulder.
Saguru felt tears on his neck and gently began rubbing the smaller teen's shoulder reassuringly. "It's alright. Have some more cake; you'll feel better eventually."
Kaito nodded against Saguru's throat. "Yeah, but right now sucks. God, sorry for being such a wuss, Hakuba."
"I don't think of you that way at all, Kuroba," Saguru gently comforted. "I would say you're holding up fairly well."
"Th-Thanks," Kaito mumbled.
"You know, it's getting pretty late. Perhaps you'd feel better after a rest. I know feelings can be quite raw at night; maybe you'll feel a bit better in the morning," Saguru suggested. "What do you think?"
"Yeah, I could use some sleep," Kaito sighed, sitting up straight and wiping his eyes. "Do you think I could sleep with you again?" Kaito looked up at him pleadingly, embarrassment covering his face in the form of a cute blush. "Sorry for being so weird and needy tonight."
"There's no need to apologize," Saguru urged. "I don't mind at all, and, frankly, I'm impressed that you're keeping things together as well as you are. I'd be a wreck. Now go get ready for bed while I tidy up."
"Let me help," Kaito insisted, gathering up the dishes and retrieving stray pieces of popcorn that had found their way to the floor.
Saguru didn't protest very much as he prepared to spend another sleepless night mesmerized by the music of his beloved's breathing and heartbeat.
"So you're here too," Saguru scoffed, putting some celery and dip on his plate as Kuroba made doves materialize out of thin air for the Christmas party guests.
Chrisy Monroe shrugged, helping herself to the Christmas cake—her second piece, judging by the remnants of the first on her plate. "Nakamori-chan invited me at the Halloween party, and the other day Kiddo called on her behalf and reminded me I was still invited, so here I am. I came for the cake."
"I would have thought you'd be doing something with Kei-san," Saguru snorted, but his eyes softened as he watched Kaito preform.
"He asked me to dinner. I said no." Chrisy shrugged. "I don't want to encourage his feelings for me. I'm emotionally unavailable, and I don't want to hurt my best friend over it by leading him on. More importantly, Kiddo asked me to come here. He sounded like he needed me here for some reason."
"What wouldn't you do for him?" Saguru asked dryly, but was still a little curious.
"I'd say 'his laundry', but I've had to do it before." Chrisy raised an eyebrow at the veggies on Saguru's plate before adding a small slice of cake.
Saguru blinked. "You've done his laundry?" He then gazed down in suspicion at the cake.
"Sometimes he gets some rather pesky stains in his dress clothes," she replied offhandedly, making a point of looking away.
"You mean bloodstains," Saguru whispered.
Chrisy raised an eyebrow at the young detective. "Where'd you get that idea?"
Saguru shook his head. "Never mind. What I'm truly interested in knowing is why you're so devoted to him."
"Same reason you are." Chrisy smiled sadly as Kaito pulled a turkey out of Hattori Heiji's cap. "Love."
The word slapped Saguru in the face like a dead fish. "You love him?!"
She laughed at the very idea. "Not like you do…. You know, he looks almost nothing like his father. He's definitely his mother's child, down to the hair…the cheekbones…even the curve of his grin. As far as physical appearance goes, they could be completely unrelated, but…the way Kiddo carries himself…the way he moves is all Toi-chan."
Saguru left it at that, telling himself that he didn't want to know. "Why are you wearing that wig again, Chrisy-san?"
"It's not a wig." She smirked, stealing a strawberry and dipping it in her leftover frosting. "So, have you confessed yet?"
Saguru blushed. "…No. He just got turned down by Kudo-kun not a full month ago. It would be wrong of me to take advantage of his delicate emotional state and confess when he's so vulnerable."
Chrisy snorted. "There's nothing about that kid that's delicate or vulnerable. He can take his bruises with the best of them…his and yours. Tell him, and tell him soon, or you'll regret it. Let him know he's got options, even though he doesn't necessarily have to pick now. Just some friendly advice, Pony."
"…P-Pony?" Saguru hoped his mouth wasn't hanging open too wide.
"Yeah. What? Would you rather I stick with 'Goldilocks'?"
"Yes please," Saguru muttered. "Where are you even getting these nicknames from?"
"Well, I think 'Goldilocks' is self-explanatory, but a pony is a little horse, riiiiight?"
Saguru felt like he was back in grammar school. "Right. And?"
"Well, your father is the big horsey, so that makes you Pony." Chrisy grinned as she explained her brilliant logic.
"You know my father?!" Saguru's mind hurt.
"Our paths have crossed. My personal favorite nickname for him is Colonel Mustang, but we can stick with Goldilocks for you, if you prefer. I just thought I'd pick something a little closer to your actual name. You know, because I'm becoming begrudgingly fond of you."
Saguru's mouth opened so wide that his chin nearly skimmed the floor.
"Just talk to the Kiddo, okay?" Chrisy gave his back a good, sound smack before making her way off into the crowd.
That woman was becoming his own, personal host of Christmas spirits—past, present, future, and Jacob Marley all rolled into one.
Maybe he should talk to Kaito? He needed to do it eventually, but…well, it could at least wait until after the magic show.
Unfortunately, after the magic show, Kuroba Kaito was swarmed by friends, fans, and assorted classmates for about an hour.
Saguru watched from the sidelines as his darling chatted with Aoko-kun, Momoi-san, Koizumi-san, Yamada, Tanaka, Watanabe, a crowd of male underclassmen, several female schoolmates that Saguru had neglected to learn the names of, and Hattori bloody Heiji, Mouri Ran, Suzuki Sonoko, and Edogawa Conan.
This last group occupied a good twenty minutes of the magician's time and seemed to leave the brunette a little…deflated.
Kuroba cheerfully made his excuses to take off and slunk his way out the back.
Saguru followed and found his friend outside, slumped over the deck railing.
"Kuroba?" he called softly to, hopefully, avoid startling the jumpy thief.
"Oh, Haku-chan." Kaito turned around, that annoyingly fake grin crazy glued to his face.
Saguru wondered if Kuroba knew that the detective easily saw through his forced smiles.
"What's up? Enjoying the party? Did you see my magic show?" Kuroba chattered.
"The party is…nice, and I quite enjoyed your performance…. Speaking of performances, you can drop the act. Doesn't your face hurt from wearing that huge grin?"
Kaito's smile faltered.
"What's wrong, Kuroba?" Saguru pressed, coming to stand beside his beloved.
Kaito sighed, slumping back down over the railing. "Aoko got to know Mouri Ran and her crew at the Halloween party; they became friends, so she invited them tonight. Well, Ran-chan brought Edogawa Conan, Shin-chan's little cousin. I couldn't just avoid them all night; it'd be rude, so I talked to them, but…Conan really reminds me of Shin-chan, and…it's just rough right now."
"It's alright," Saguru whispered, stepping in closer to put a supportive hand on Kaito's shoulder. "…but you're going to get frostbite if you hide out here for too long."
Kaito shrugged, sighing again. "Who cares?"
"I do. You leave me with no choice, Kuroba," Saguru replied with mock regret as he pulled off his coat gracefully with one motion and gallantly draped it over the smaller teen's shoulders with the next.
"Now you're gonna be cold," Kaito pouted, trying to give the jacket back.
"I'll be fine. I'm more worried about you. You'll get lost in thought in your sulking and accidentally let yourself freeze."
Kaito didn't deny it, but instead retorted, "Yeah, well, I won't if you're standing right there watching me do it."
With one fluid motion, Kaito swept the jacket off of his own shoulders and around Hakuba's. He then stuck his own arms through the sleeves backwards.
His mind shut down as he realized that Kuroba was essentially hugging him, and their bodies were each quite in the other's personal bubble.
Kaito slowly came to this conclusion as well. "This…is kinda awkward, isn't it?"
"A little," Saguru hummed, wondering what he should be doing with his hands. He wanted to put them around Kuroba's waist, but… "But it's keeping us both warm, isn't it?"
Kaito bit his lip, shifting slightly. "Yeah, I guess so. As long as you don't mind, I guess…."
"I don't mind," Saguru managed to get out without stuttering.
Kaito nodded absentmindedly, eyes drifting to the sliding door he'd come through, mind probably wandering back inside to the party where Edogawa Conan was, reminding him of his unrequited love. He sighed, sticking out his lip. "Love sucks, Haku-chan."
Saguru couldn't help but chuckle. "Sorry. I'm not laughing at what you said or your situation or anything. It's just that you're so cute when you sulk. I can't help but think, how could Kudo-kun not worship the ground you walk on?"
Kaito blushed, chuckling as he looked away. "Geez. You sure know how to make a guy blush. Have you ever looked in to becoming a host? …I'm not that great, Hakuba."
"But you are," Saguru urged, about ready to tell Kuroba just how magnificent he thought the other teen was.
Now was his opportunity to confess.
"But I'm not," Kaito retorted, cutting the detective off before he could start waxing poetic. "I'm not," the smaller boy muttered, gaze dropping to their feet. "I'm just a screwed up little mess with daddy issues, a martyr complex, and abandonment anxiety. I'm just not meant to be in a relationship."
"Maybe not at the moment, but, Kuroba, that doesn't mean you can just give up," Saguru snorted, taking his friend by the shoulders and forcing him to meet his gaze. "You are the most selfless, caring, noble man I have ever had the honor of knowing, and one day you will find someone to share a life with, but until then, you need to keep your chin up. I know it seems hard right now because the wound's still fresh, but you can't let this keep you down. You're stronger than that. Kuroba, I…I care about you, and I can't stand to see you like this."
Hesitantly, Saguru moved his palm to his crush's cheek as Kaito stared back at him wide-eyed.
"I've always thought of you as invincible…uncatchable…unbeatable…. Now, I realize that's unfair of me to hold you up to such standards; after all, even you are human, but…after everything you've done thus far…all you've survived, all you've accomplished…after everything you've been through, are you really going to let this setback defeat you, Kuroba?"
Saguru held Kaito's gaze, and each searched the other's eyes.
"No," Kaito finally replied with conviction. "And…it's 'Kaito'."
Saguru's eyes widened and then he smiled, love written all over his face as he whispered the name as if it were sacred. "Kaito…Kaito, I—"
Hakuba didn't get to finish his confession, for at that moment, Kaito shot forward, pressing his lips to the blonde's.
At first, Saguru froze, brain displaying an error message screen for a minute while it processed what was happening. Then, a spark of electricity flew through his body, and his lips began to move in sync with his beloved's.
It only lasted a second, but it was the happiest of Saguru's life.
Unfortunately, Kaito jolted back as quickly as he had lunged forward, pulling his arms out of the jacket and pulling away from Saguru. He held his hands up in defense and laughed sheepishly. "S-Sorry. I don't know what got into me, but…but mistletoe!" Kaito flailed about, pointing out the parasitic plant hanging directly above them.
"Sorry. I just noticed it, and don't you get cursed if you don't kiss when you stand under that stuff? Neither of us needs any more bad luck, so I…I'm really sorry. I bet that was really weird for you—like kissing your brother or…or something," Kaito blathered on.
Saguru gazed up at the mistletoe, and his heart sank. "I see," he mumbled, feeling off-balance. "Of course. Mistletoe," he chuckled bitterly. "Why else would you kiss me like that?"
Kuroba suddenly fell silent as the look on his friend's face clued him in to the obvious signs he had been missing up until that point.
Kaito's face went white, and his mind started whirring, trying to think of some way to undo the damage he'd caused. "I…I'm sorry. I didn't mean…I didn't…"
"Not to worry," Saguru whispered, trying to keep himself together. "It's fine. I understand, but, if you'll excuse me, it's a little cold out here. I-I'm going in to warm up. Excuse me," he choked out, making a hasty retreat back into the house where he immediately began seeking a place where he could be alone.
Kaito found him not ten minutes later, sitting, hunched over in a ball at the top of the basement stairs and sobbing silently into his palms. Kaito placed a cup of hot chocolate and a baggie of popcorn mixed with peanuts and chocolate chips down on the step beside his friend before taking a seat himself.
The magician remained quiet and still, letting Saguru make the first move.
Kaito made a point of not looking at the other boy, not because he was too ashamed to, but rather as a way to give Hakuba some space.
Saguru appreciated that more than anything. He really didn't want the guy he liked seeing him in such a sorry state. With a sniffle, Saguru picked up the hot cocoa and took a sip.
Kaito took out a pack of Kleenex and handed them back to Hakuba over his shoulder.
Saguru paused a minute before accepting the tissues and beginning to clean up his tear-stained, snot-covered mess of a face. When he was at least somewhat decent, he wiped off his hands and began to nibble on the popcorn mix.
Then, and only then, did Kuroba begin to speak.
"When I kissed you, I had no idea that you liked me."
"Of course you didn't," Saguru snorted, thankful that his voice didn't break. "You're not that kind of person, and I know that, so don't worry about it."
"Still doesn't make it right," Kaito muttered, sighing as he scratched the back of his head. "So…I'm that guy you like. I'm the person you told me you already had that you liked when I asked you about Aoko all those months ago."
"Yes," Saguru sighed, picking out a piece of chocolate to suck on.
"Dammit," Kaito cursed lightly under his breath. "Hakuba, I'm so sorry."
"Don't dwell on it; it'll only make things awkward between us, and I can't afford to lose the only friend I have over unrequited love. Besides, it's not like I want an answer from you. I know where you stand at the moment, but if in a few months or years you decide that you'd be interested…" Saguru picked up another tissue and dabbed at his cheeks.
"…About that…" Kaito broached the subject cautiously. "Hakuba, I didn't realize that the mistletoe was there until after I'd kissed you."
Saguru's head whipped to the left to stare incredulously at his best friend. "Which means…that kiss was…?"
"Real," Kaito muttered, fidgeting in embarrassment as his cheeks turned a peachy hue.
Saguru could barely contain the grin threatening to break out on his face.
"I don't know what got into me," Kaito began to blabber. "One minute we were just standin' there, and the next…just…the way you looked at me and touched my cheek and everything…and what you said…and…and…the way you said my name…it just…it made me feel dizzy. There have been brief moments like that before, but…that was the first time I really…I don't know…had a 'wow' moment like I do with Shin-chan, but—"
"—Kaito," Saguru called, placing a hand on his beloved's shoulder.
The magician turned sheepishly, an adorable, flustered blush painted on his cheeks. "Y-Yeah?"
"I just like saying your name," Saguru chuckled, gently stroking the magician's cheek. "…but let's not rush things, okay? Take some time to sort your feelings out and then come and tell me whenever you're ready. I want you to be sure about this, or it's only going to hurt us both. I don't mind waiting, Kaito. I'm very patient, so take all the time you need."
Kaito nodded, chewing absentmindedly on his lip. "So…we're okay?"
"Once you start calling me 'Saguru' from time to time, I imagine we'll be just fine," the detective replied with a smirk.
"Alright, Saguru." Kaito returned the grin, "Challenge Accepted" flashing in his eyes. "First things first, though: can I have a proper first kiss?"
Hakuba blushed, the self-confident look dropping off of his face. "O-Okay." He licked his lips nervously as his friend leaned in, pressing their lips together once more in an exploratory kiss.
Kaito pulled away all too soon for Saguru's tastes, but, truth be told, any more and he probably would have passed out.
Kaito chuckled as he surveyed the love-drunken state he had put the detective in. He decided that he liked that face Saguru was making a great deal and that he wanted to make Saguru look like that more often.
The magician sighed happily, stealing a bite of the popcorn. "So…now what? We just go back to play dates and sleepovers and regular old friends stuff?"
"That was the plan…until you decide you want to be something more." Saguru shrugged, so blissed out that he didn't even mind the minor theft.
"Oh, I want you to be something more, all right; it's just that my intentions towards you are in no way noble," Kaito sighed, leaning back.
"Then we wait. I will not allow us to simply become friends with benefits." Saguru put his foot down. "I am to be either your friend or your boyfriend. Please let me know when you'd like to upgrade our relationship status."
Kaito nodded, letting the whole thing really sink in. After a minute of comfortable silence between the two, Kaito dug out a small jewelry box from some pocket space that was invisible to the detective. "I have a present for you."
"As I do for you." Saguru blushed, grabbing his present from his jacket pocket. "If you wouldn't mind allowing me to go first; I'm sure yours is a lot better…. I had no idea what to get you since you're not a very materialistic person. There wasn't anything I could think of that you need or that you'd want but don't have."
"There isn't anything, so you didn't have to get me a present, Saguru." Kaito waved it off with a sheepishly laugh. "I'm sure whatever you did get's gonna be awesome, though. Thanks." Kaito eagerly accepted the present and carefully removed the wrapping.
Inside was a small paperback book.
"The Little Prince?" Kaito cocked his head to the side as he looked it over.
Saguru nodded. "It's one of my favorite books. Baaya read it to me when I was little in English, French, and Japanese. Those are some of my favorite childhood memories, and I just wanted to share it with you. I thought a personal gift might be best since I couldn't think of anything that you'd want. I decided to give you something that was meaningful to me."
"Thank you," Kaito whispered with a grin as he looked at the book again. "I'll read it over winter break. I'm looking forward to it." The magician carefully stowed the novel away in one of his invisible pockets before handing over his own gift. "Uh…my gift kind of needs some explaining, so go ahead and open it."
Saguru opened the jewelry box to find a dog tag shaped like a bone and a single key on a ring with a miniature metal playing card on it—the ace of clubs. Saguru blinked.
Kaito motioned to the key. "To my house…" He indicated the dog tag. "…so that you can come and go as you please whenever you want to visit your puppy."
Saguru blinked, mouthing the word "puppy" as if trying to remember the meaning of the word.
Kaito grinned. "Mom said that we can keep it at our house for you as long as it's not too big. The grooming tools, food bowls, and leash are already back at my house, but I didn't get a collar yet 'cause I wasn't sure what size dog you'd want. The dog tag's blank, obviously, because you should be the one to pick out the name. Just let me know whenever you're ready, and we'll go get the dog."
Saguru was stunned, utterly speechless at his gift. All he could do was smile and wrap his arms around his beloved, happy tears streaming down his face.
"Th-Thank you, Kaito," the detective finally got out. "…I'm very much looking forward to having a pet, but…I want you to know that I no longer require its companionship. I have you…and the others now, but…thank you. Thank you so much."
"Don't even mention it, Saguru," Kaito replied with a grin, wrapping his arms tightly around his friend.
Over the next few months, class 2B at Ekoda High noticed a gradual change in one Hakuba Saguru's behavior.
He was becoming more friendly, less stuck-up; more accessible, less withdrawn. He was more open with them and actively making an attempt to include himself in their group activities.
Hakuba Saguru was making friends.
Kuroba Kaito was also noticing a change in his kind-of-sort-of-crush.
Saguru was slowly becoming self-confident. His shyness went away almost overnight after that Christmas Eve, and his reservations disappeared shortly afterward. He began to speak his mind easily to Kaito and stopped trying to hide the way he felt about the older teen.
Kaito found himself openly flirted with to the point where it sometimes made him go red in the face while his stomach did flips.
Saguru smiled more, and Kaito found his grin enchanting.
The detective talked about his problems less and focused more on things like what was going on in his life, his aspirations, and the latest cop drama he'd gotten into. He was becoming more self-assured, more self-reliant.
For the most part, Kaito liked this new Saguru, but it did make him feel a little lonely whenever the blonde made plans with other friends. Of course, Kaito was usually invited to tag along, but…still….
The first time Saguru had told Kaito he couldn't hang out because he'd already made other plans was a real shocker.
"I'm going to play pool with a friend," Saguru had explained, nervously scratching his cheek.
"Who?" Kaito stared blankly back at the detective.
"Chrisy Monroe," Saguru confessed sheepishly. "Monroe and I have been in contact for several months now, and she has just recently started inviting me to hang out as friendly acquaintances. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you came as well, but we'll just be playing pool and slinging vulgar insults at each other in English."
"Uh…thanks, but I'll pass," Kaito had politely turned down the offer, wondering how those two had ever hit it off.
There were other times when Kaito did go along, but he always felt like an extra wheel.
Regardless, whenever they were alone together, things seemed better than they had ever been.
Heists were every bit as exhilarating as they had been when Kaito had been crushing on Shin-chan, and having Saguru over every day to take care of Antoinette together was fun in a domestic sort of way.
Watching Saguru became a bit of a hobby for the thief. He found the detective enthralling; confident Saguru was incredibly attractive, and Kaito was willingly falling in love once more.
It was just after the new school year started up that spring that Kaito decided it was time to finally confess.
He caught the Brit right after the end of class before anyone else could approach the blonde, and he dragged Saguru out back by the old playground on the very edge of campus.
"Kaito, what's wrong?" the detective demanded when they finally came to a stop. "Don't you usually hang out with Kudo-kun on Thursdays?"
Kaito took a deep breath and looked his beloved straight in the eye. He immediately forgot the entirety of the carefully practiced speech he had prepared.
He gulped and decided to improvise. "Saguru, back at the Christmas party at Aoko's, you…you said that you loved me, right?"
Saguru blinked. "I don't quite remember coming out and saying 'I love you,' but…what about it?"
"Saguru, I have to know if you still feel the same way about me now," Kaito returned, voice dripping with urgency. "I know things are different now…circumstances have changed, and now you've got all these friends, and you don't need me to help 'fix' you anymore, but…Saguru, you're the most important person in the world to me, and if you still feel the same way you did then—and it's okay if you don't, but—I want you to be my boyfriend. Will you go out with me?"
"Kaito…" Saguru breathed, wrapping his arms around his almost frantic best friend. "Kaito, nothing's changed. I may have others that I call friends now, but that doesn't make the bond between us any weaker. You're still my best friend, and I didn't love you just because you were helping me. I love you for you, Kaito, and that has never changed. Well, maybe, if anything, it's only grown stronger…. I'm yours, if you're willing to have me," Saguru whispered, pressing a kiss to Kaito's temple.
"Saguru…" Kaito moaned, melting into the embrace and leaning into Saguru's kiss.
A high-pitched fangirl squeal cut their lip-locking session short.
Both boys whirled around and turned scarlet at the sight of Nakamori Aoko, Koizumi Akako, and Momoi Keiko staring at them.
"How romantic!" Keiko giggled, bouncing up and down like she'd inhaled a bag of pixie sticks.
"I told you so." Akako simpered. "Bent as a pair of politicians."
Aoko's mouth was hanging open, and her face was quickly starting to resemble a cherry tomato.
"How long have you guys been watching?" Kaito gulped but pressed his body closer to Saguru's.
Saguru, in turn, squeezed Kaito a little more tightly.
Neither was ashamed of his feelings for the other.
"We followed you from the classroom," Keiko announced.
"Nice confession, Kuroba-kun," Akako laughed, trying to keep the pinpricks of pain she was feeling at seeing the only man that could not be hers wrapped around another from showing on her face.
Aoko smiled shyly at her friends. "You two make a cute couple."
"Let's go get milkshakes to celebrate!" Keiko suggested, taking the other girls by the hand and motioning for the lovebirds to follow.
"Shall we?" Saguru chuckled.
With a smirk, Kaito stole a quick kiss. "Let's."
Mikau: Shh. It's sleeping. Well, that's the end; I hope you guys liked it. Thanks for your support up until now, and I hope to see you again soon!