Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK.


Win Some, Lose Some

Part 2

Shinichi really didn't know why Kaito felt the need to give him roses all the time. It started the day they got back from their little trip and just never stopped. He presented him with at least one every time they met nowadays, but it didn't stop there like how Shinichi vaguely thought it was supposed to. Once a week Shinichi would arrive in his first period class to find a rose lying on his desk. At other times they appeared in his locker. And sometimes, on days that Kaito decided were special for whatever reason, they would be bouquets. At first he found the whole thing horribly embarrassing and he would spend whole days beet red as he felt the rest of the school staring at him. But when he asked Kaito to stop the magician would go mysteriously deaf and then change the subject.

The roses were always red.

By now the whole school knew about the things. The Shounan Tantei periodically spent weeks plotting ways to catch whoever it was in the act, but of course they never did.

"Someone's going to a lot of trouble to say he likes you," Haibara observed one morning as she watched him hurriedly trying to stash the roses that had just fallen out of his locker back in before anyone noticed. "But I guess you know that, since you aren't surprised. So I suppose it's for our benefit then."

He'd turned to stare at her in shock before smacking his own forehead. Was that what it was about? A (not so subtle) way for Kaito to tell people Shinichi was taken? If it was, it certainly had the desired effect.

"So is it someone we know?"

He was saved from having to answer her by the sound of the bell.

He started looking at the roses a little differently after that. He stopped trying to hide them and instead turned his attention on trying to learn how to control the urge to blush. It wasn't working, but he was sure that he'd get the hang of it one day. He wondered if Kaito would give him tips.

"But I like it when you blush," the magician objected when he asked. Then he'd grinned and leaned down so they were at eye level. "You do a very beautiful shade of red."

Naturally, Shinichi blushed. And then he kicked him. Or at least he tried. Kaito was good at not getting kicked (after all, he'd gotten a lot of practice over the years).

"Come on, don't be like that," he laughed. "It was a compliment. It isn't good etiquette to hit people who give you compliments."

That got him a flat, blue look before Shinichi crossed his arms and turned away (because he didn't want Kaito to see him smiling). "I thought you said you were buying me coffee?"

X

Ran watched from the agency window as Kaito and Conan talked on the street outside. The magician had come by that morning to take the younger boy to a book convention she knew he'd been wanting to go to. The two had gotten back almost ten minutes ago but Conan still hadn't come inside. He was gesticulating wildly as he spoke. It probably meant he was talking about a novel he liked, she thought with amusement. He rarely got that excited about anything else. It was good to see him looking so happy. He certainly did seem to have taken a liking to the magician. It was nice of Kaito to come see them so often. Sonoko seemed to think that meant he was interested in her, but she was pretty sure he was coming to see Conan. She'd explained it to Sonoko in the desperate hope that her friend wouldn't say something embarrassing next time she was around when Kaito came for a visit.

Sonoko had snorted in disbelief. "Yeah right. Why would a guy in his mid twenties want to spend so much time with someone who's barely graduated middle school?"

Personally, Ran had to admit it was a little strange, but Conan had always acted much older than he was. He already spent most of his time with adults anyway. As for Kaito… Well, maybe he just liked kids. She'd seen him doing miniature shows for the children at the park several times and she knew he often performed at schools and a few of the local children's hospitals even though he had a lot of calls on his time by what many would consider much more grandiose places. Conan had told her once that Kaito believed magic was meant for brightening people's lives.

Turning, she headed into the kitchen to begin making dinner. A few minutes later she heard the door open and she stepped back out to welcome her surrogate brother home.

"Conan-kun," she started in surprise. "When did you get that rose?" He hadn't had it a moment ago when she'd been watching him from the window.

"O—oh, I—uh, Kaito-san was just showing me a magic trick," he'd stammered, and while the half lie might have passed muster his dark crimson blush had not. He could see Ran's eyes flicker to the vase on the living room table that was always full of red roses these days and put two and two together. It wasn't a very hard puzzle as puzzles came.

To his mortification, she had gently sat him down and started asking questions. They were very careful questions, but that didn't make them less pointed. Ran liked Kaito—it was hard not to. This sudden revelation however was… She didn't know what to think really, but it made her a little uneasy. Friendship was one thing, but if this was really what it was starting to sound like…

"Conan-kun…" she said finally, voice distinctly motherly. "He's a little too old for you,"

"That's not—It's not…" He swallowed and looked away, mind buzzing. He should just tell her it wasn't like that. In her shoes, he would probably be pretty concerned too. But he'd already told so many lies—still had to tell so many lies. He didn't want to lie about this too. This was real.

Ran was giving him an even more concerned look than she had been wearing moments ago. He didn't know what he should say to assuage her worries. What could he say? "Well, actually, Kaito and I've actually known each other for almost ten years now. He's a good person and I trust him with my life. And incidentally, we're technically the same age, except that we're not, but I know he's waiting for me to grow up again so you don't have to look so concerned"? It sounded stupid even in his own head. So he chose to say nothing and hoped she'd just let it go. If he was lucky, she might be able to come to some different conclusion to satisfy her own thoughts.

Eventually Ran sighed and told him to go do his homework.

Contrary to Shinichi's hopes, the more Ran turned the ideas over in her head the more it seemed to come together. Hadn't she just been thinking that Conan seemed to really like the magician? And the way he turned red and stammered over her questions certainly wasn't normal.

Picking up the cup of tea that had been sitting in front of her throughout the conversation, she looked thoughtfully into its orange brown depths. So Conan had a…a crush? On Kaito.

Who was giving him roses.

What exactly did that mean then? She hadn't known Kaito long, but he did seem like the type to tease. But surely he knew better than to make a joke out of something like this, especially in regards to someone so young.

She would have to talk to him about it.

X

"I'm not going to hurt him."

Ran's hands tightened a little around her teacup. Half of her had been hoping it was all her imagination after all, but Kaito hadn't even batted an eye when she'd laid out her observations and conclusions before him. Instead, that was what he'd said, holding her eyes with his own unwavering gaze.

"But. Kaito-kun, you know he's only fifteen."

Kaito fought the urge to roll his eyes. "Of course I know that." It was a fact he was constantly being reminded of. He was a patient person when he had to be, he could wait. But really, that didn't mean they couldn't establish a relationship. There weren't any laws against people of any age hanging out together. "He'll be eighteen in three years. I can count, Ran-san."

Ran sighed. "I…don't know what to say, Kaito-kun."

"You don't have to say anything. I won't ask you for your approval, not yet, but I meant it when I said I would never do anything to hurt him. You don't have to decide anything right now, and I won't ask you to be happy, but I will ask you to believe that at least."

Searching the depths of those indigo eyes, she found that she did believe it. But she also knew that you didn't have to mean harm to cause it. And emotions were tricky, especially for the young. She knew from experience that even the feelings you used to believe would last forever could change over time, especially between people who didn't really have all that much in common. And what could they have in common?

Well, she didn't know what the future would bring, but she could watch over her charge and be there for whatever came.

X

The day he turned sixteen again, he looked into the mirror and wasn't sure if he wanted to laugh or cry. Seeing his own reflection, it really struck him—really sunk in. One mistake and finally now, ten years later, he was back where he'd started. Only he wasn't, because Kudo Shinichi's life had ended with that same mistake ten years ago.

He'd never felt more like a failure.

He'd gone back home that day—the home he hadn't lived in since that time. He'd walked because he didn't want to run (refused to run), but his steps kept speeding up of their own accord. He left the Mouris a note saying he'd be at Agasa's. Then he'd turned off his phone. He didn't feel like talking to anyone.

When he reached the house he slipped inside and locked the door behind himself. He wandered through the empty rooms and tried to remember the things that had happened there. Funny really. Almost all his memories were of the place just as still and empty as it was now. He wound up in the library where he found the collection of family albums he vaguely remembered should be there. They were a bit dusty but solid and reassuringly heavy.

He spent a few minutes paging through the albums until he couldn't stand it anymore. Then he shut them and retreated to his room. It was exactly how it had been ten years ago. He'd seen to keeping it clean, but with no one living here the place had had no reason to change.

Lying down on the bed, he closed his eyes and let the silence seep into him. If only the silence would take away his thoughts.

He knew that deep down he was just afraid—afraid that everyone was leaving him behind, afraid that he would never fit back into the world he was supposed to be a part of, and afraid that he was going to lose what was left of himself to the lies. Always the lies. Because, horrible as it sounded, the lies had become more real than the truth as far as the rest of the world was concerned. Maybe that meant they were the truth now? He shuddered at the thought.

The problem was that worrying about it wasn't going to change a single thing.

And he'd been doing so well at not thinking about it lately. He should have known better than to think that that meant it wasn't there anymore.

He sensed more than heard the window opening. He didn't bother to look to see who it was. There was only one person it could be anyway. It never crossed his mind to wonder how Kaito would know where to look for him. By now he would have been more surprised if the magician didn't. Part of him—the part currently in charge—really didn't want to see anyone though. Not right now.

"Shinichi?"

He flinched at the sound of his own name but kept his eyes shut and pretended to be sleeping in the vain hope that Kaito would go away. Instead the mattress dipped as someone sat down on the bed beside him.

"I know you're awake."

Sighing, Shinichi relented and opened his eyes to see Kaito looking down at him with obvious concern. It made him feel guilty all over again.

There was a long moment of silence. It was Kaito who broke it"You can cry if you want to, you know."

"I don't want to," he snapped, although he wasn't actually sure which of them he was snapping at.

"What I mean is that you don't have to keep it all to yourself."

Shinichi looked away. "I…would rather not think about it at all."

"That isn't going to make it go away."

"I know that," he said a touch bitterly. "But it's never going to go away is it? So I might as well learn how not to think about it."

"That's called running away," Kaito pointed out, frowning. "It's been ten years Shinichi. Don't you think it's about time you dealt with this and moved on?"

"What is there to deal with? Like you said, nothing's going to change so it doesn't really matter what I think."

"It'll matter to you. And it matters to me."

Shinichi was silent for a long moment before he let out an almost inaudible sigh. "Every time I look into the mirror, I remember the things I did wrong."

"Well, that's your choice, but think about it this way. If things hadn't happened the way they did, we wouldn't be here. The organization might still be out there killing people with no one the wiser. We might never have met. We could have lost. Look me in the eyes and tell me you would have preferred that."

"That isn't fair. It's totally unrelated."

"No, it isn't," Kaito said flatly. "We are who we are now precisely because things happened the way they did. You can't pick and choose only the good bits. History doesn't work that way."

"So I'm supposed to be happy with how things turned out because it could've been worse."

"It would be a good start, certainly," the magician quipped before his expression softened. "I'm not saying you can't grieve for what was lost—you should—but you can't spend the rest of your life agonizing over one mistake. On top of everything else, it just isn't worth it."

"…"

"Well? Am I wrong?"

"No, no, you're right."

"Good. Now get up and get changed. You've already wasted half the day moping. That means we only have half a day left to celebrate your birthday!"

"Do we have to?"

"Yes, because I already made plans. Now are you going to go change or do you want me to do it for you?"

"No—no! I'm going!" Scrambling off the bed, Shinichi spotted the clothes neatly folded on his desk chair that hadn't been there before Kaito had arrived. Figuring that was what he was supposed to wear, he snagged them and made a beeline for the bathroom.

Ten seconds later the whole house shook.

"KAITO!"

Ten minutes later the two were finally on their way. Shinichi was still a little red in the face and Kaito was laughing.

"Hey, you didn't ask me if that was what you were supposed to wear. You just assumed."

"Well what was I supposed to think? You hid the right clothes under the bed! And don't tell me you didn't set it up like that on purpose."

"Well~ I saw it the other day and it just reminded me of you."

"Why? You know what, never mind, I don't want to know." Knowing would probably be much worse than not knowing what it was about a sparkly, short, blue dress that made Kaito think about him (although now that he thought about it the thing reminded him a little of some outfits he'd seen some magicians' assistants wear).

Still grumbling under his breath, he moved to put on his shoes. Kaito followed suit, humming a cheery little tune. Straightening, he opened the door for Shinichi. The detective, however, didn't move.

"What's the matter?" Kaito prodded when five whole seconds had passed with still no sign of motion.

Shinichi shifted his weight from foot to foot for a moment longer. Then he stepped forward, tugged on the front of Kaito's shirt until he leaned down, and gave the magician a quick kiss. "Thank you." That said, he hurried out the door.

A soft smile ghosted across Kaito's face before it morphed into a smirk as he chased after his departing companion. "Aw, don't I get a real kiss?"

"I thought you said we had to hurry?"

"True. Later then?"

"…Maybe."

X

Jii passed away in the autumn. It both was and wasn't a shock. It wasn't because the man really had been getting on in years. Yet it was because it was difficult to wrap your mind around the idea of someone who'd always been there not being there anymore. But he'd had a peaceful passing in his sleep, and that, at least, was a blessing.

Shinichi had gone to the funeral because he knew the old man had been like family to Kaito and he wanted to be there for him. It was a little awkward though, being there surrounded by people who had come together to grieve for someone he didn't know.

Afterward they spent some time wandering the city streets. They stopped for a bite to eat at a sandwich shop then at a café for chocolate and coffee.

"I'm going to miss him," Kaito remarked suddenly, eating a marshmallow off the top of his hot chocolate. "He was my assistant, you know. Before he retired, I mean."

"I remember."

"He helped Tou-san when he was working too. He even tried to do the job himself a bit, but then I found the secret room in the house."

They spent the next hour or so wandering through memory lane. They talked about heists and magic and old family moments as the sky outside grew darker. Eventually they ordered omelets from the café's somewhat limited selection of meal offers.

By the time they got up to leave, Shinichi could see that the shadows had cleared from Kaito's face and the spring had returned to his steps. Shinichi smiled to himself, assured that the magician was going to be all right.

X

When his father had died, Kaito had been devastated. As a child he'd always looked up to the older magician. He'd wanted to be just like him.

The grief however had faded gradually over the years. After all, accidents happened. No one was immune to that. But he was going to make his father proud wherever he was by becoming the world's best magician.

When he'd found out that his father had been murdered, it was like the man had died all over again. It hadn't been an accident. It had been intentional. Someone had been at fault—and therefore, someone could have been stopped. That person had taken Kuroba Toichi away from his wife and son and he was still out there running loose like nothing had ever happened.

The thought made his blood boil. The anger had followed him every moment of each day since that discovery. It simmered at the back of his mind even as he played his pranks at school and planned heists, growing that little bit stronger every time he caught his mother looking at his father's portrait with that silent, wistful smile. It wasn't until the murderers were put in jail and justice served that he had finally been able to lay that anger to rest.

The memory of it all however would stay with him for the rest of his life.

Sometimes he wondered if his mother knew the truth. Wondered if he should tell her what had happened and what he'd done. But he always discarded the idea as quickly as it came. If she didn't know, then she was better off for the ignorance. If she did, then there wasn't any point in digging up unpleasant memories.

Still, it bothered him a little to think that one day no one would know the truth. They would remember the world renouned magician Kuroba Toichi and they would remember the legend of the great gentleman thief known as Kaitou KID, but they would never know of the man who had sought after a legend to protect them and given his life in the process.

And now he was the only one left who knew the truth behind the legend. Well, him and Shinichi anyway. Suddenly he was very glad that he had told Shinichi everything after all.

"Have you ever considered writing it down?"

He couldn't help but laugh. "Well~, it would certainly make one hell of a piece of evidence in court."

Shinichi flushed and looked away. "I didn't say you had to write it like a journal. You're the one who's always writing riddles."

Kaito blinked. "So you mean like a treasure map."

"Something like that."

The magician hummed thoughtfully, turning the idea over in his head before a slow grin spread across his face. "You know what, I think I'll try that. I can include a note and everything. One last challenge from the great Kaitou KID—when the time is right, of course."

"When the statute of limitations runs out on whatever you decide is your last theft, you mean."

"That too." Grinning, he leaned over the blueprint covered kitchen table to place a quick kiss on his detective's nose. "My dear Shin-chan, I love the way you think."

"Unfortunately I can't say the same," Shinichi retorted, but his tone was fond.

Kaito let his own expression soften into a smile as he resumed his seat and returned to reviewing his blueprints.

X

It was a very simple ring. It had a small stone on it and a design that had obviously been based off a four leaf clover. Not too flashy, but not exactly inconspicuous either. He hadn't had it yesterday, he was pretty sure about that. He'd only noticed it this morning when he'd been brushing his teeth and saw the glint of gold, and even then it had taken him several moments to realize what he was seeing (he never was very sharp first thing in the morning). Naturally, he'd called the one person who could have put it on him between last night and this morning, even if said man was supposed to be in Italy.

"Good morning Shin-chan!"

"Kai, when did you get back from Italy?"

"What are you talking about? You know I'm not supposed to go home until next week."

"Don't give me that. You're the only person I know who'd give me a ring—"

"I should hope so."

"—and the only one who could sneak into my room in the middle of the night."

"Well actually you sleep like a log," Kaito said cheerfully. "But I see your point. To answer your question, my plane landed this morning at two."

"Why though?" the detective prodded worriedly. "Did something go wrong?"

"No, no, the organizers just didn't manage to get the extension they originally wanted because a different convention needed the venue, but they've already asked me to come back again next year."

"Oh, that's good. I'm—glad you're back. You could have stayed over you know," he added, voice softening.

He could hear the smile in Kaito's voice even if he couldn't see it. "I would have loved to, but I didn't want the first time you saw me again after my trip to be Ran-san trying to kill me when she came to wake you up for school."

"She wouldn't do that. She likes you."

"Perhaps, but it's one of the few chances I'd rather not take."

"So about this ring…?"

"Do you like it?"

Shinichi eyed the clover speculatively. "Tell me it's not another good luck charm."

Kaito laughed. "Of course not. I know you don't like those things."

"All right, just checking."

"You sound rather relieved," Kaito observed, amused. "Has Toyama-chan been giving you more charms again?"

Shinichi grimaced. "Three when she and Hattori visited last week. That makes one hundred and forty four to date."

The thief whistled. "That's quite the collection. You could always sell them off in sets."

He sighed. "I can't. It would hurt her feelings. And she'd just get more. I think she's trying to hit the right combination now or something."

"You can't really blame her for trying. You could certainly use the help."

"Gee, thanks."

"You're welcome."

"So…is there some occasion I'm forgetting?" Shinichi asked a bit hesitantly. He didn't think so, but he was often wrong about these things. "I mean, it doesn't really look like a souvenir."

"Well~, just think about it as an early Christmas present for you and me. It's for you to remind you of me and for me so I'll always know where you are."

Shinichi's jaw dropped. "It's a tracer?"

When Kaito answered, his tone had lost any traces of frivolity. "Partially, yes. Now promise me you'll keep it with you."

He sighed, leaning back against his bedroom wall. "This is about last month, isn't it?"

It was Kaito's turn to sigh. The sound made Shinichi feel guilty all over again even though he knew it hadn't exactly been his fault. A month ago the Shounan Tantei had been helping the police with an arson case. Mitsuhiko and Ayumi had taken it upon themselves to tail one of the suspects and Shinichi had gone after them when they hadn't come back. Long story short, they, along with the arsonists, had wound up trapped in the basement of a burning building. They'd lucked out and the flames had been put out by the fire department before it could reach their hiding place. As it was no one had been seriously hurt and as far as Shinichi had been concerned everything had turned out fairly well. Kaito hadn't agreed. He'd said something about dumb luck not being good enough.

"Let me protect you, Tantei-kun."

"Kaito—" he started, but the magician cut in before he could say any more.

"I won't lose you, Shinichi. I can't stop you from running around after homicidal maniacs but I can keep an eye on you. And unlike your glasses, it can't just fall off. Now promise."

"I…all right, I promise to keep it with me," Shinichi conceded. Though he silently promised himself that he would try his best not to make it necessary. After all, he knew too well what it was like to be afraid for someone you cared about. "I have to go now or I'm going to be late."

"I'll pick you up after school."

"Okay."

He didn't think much more about the ring until Haibara gave him this odd little smile that always gave him the creeps.

"I didn't realized you'd gotten engaged," she'd said, the corners of her lips curling up in a sly smile.

Shinichi stared blankly at her. "…What?"

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Or did you just suddenly develop a liking for rings?"

He followed her gaze to where his hands were resting on the textbook he'd been reading. That was when he really noticed which finger the thief had placed the ring on. It could have been a coincidence of course, but who was he kidding? This was Kaito they were talking about. It had to be intentional. It took him all day to get rid of the blush.

X

On the day he finally turned eighteen, Kaito scheduled one of his largest and most mystifying shows. It was held outdoors and free for everyone to watch. Shinichi, however, had a special seat up on a balcony above the crowds where he had an unparalleled view without having to deal with the crowds he'd come to detest. The balcony was attached to a restaurant they'd discovered a few months ago.

He'd grown to love Kaito's shows. They were always amazing, and the magician himself always looked so alive when he was performing. He loved what he did, and it showed in his work and the awe of his audience.

Kaito was the only magician he'd ever met who could actually, for even a moment, make him believe in magic.

Sometimes he wondered if he should tell Kaito that. But Kaito's ego really didn't need feeding. Besides, he had the feeling that the magician already knew.

The show ended in a swirl of blue smoke and a rain of origami stars in every color imaginable. Cheers filled the night air as the crowds slowly began to disperse in a haze of laughter and lingering wonder. Then a pair of strong arms were sliding around Shinichi from behind and a familiar voice whispered low in his ear.

"Did you enjoy the show?"

A pleasant shiver ran down his spine and he smiled, turning his head to meet Kaito's indigo gaze. "I did."

The brilliant smile that the magician gave him warmed him just as much as his embrace. Kaito closed what little space was left between them and they shared a comfortable kiss before he straightened and moved to sit on the other side of the table. Shinichi shivered a little, already missing the warmth of the other's arms around him. If he hadn't really known for certain when all this had started if he loved Kaito or not, he no longer had any doubts. He couldn't imagine life without him anymore. It was a little frightening sometimes, since he more than anyone knew just how fragile lives and circumstances could be.

Kaito snapped his fingers and several candles that Shinichi was absolutely positive had not been there moments before abruptly burst into light. Their flickering flames cast a soft, golden haze over the table which now bore a spread of large and small plates. They were empty, their polished surfaces reflecting the candlelight.

"Haven't you done enough magic for one evening?" Shinichi asked, though he already knew the answer.

"There's no such thing as enough magic," Kaito laughed. Especially not when he had his favorite audience. Raising both hands for dramatic effect, he made an opening gesture. There was a flash of light and now all the plates were full. The cooks must have been in on Kaito's plans, since all the food looked fresh off the stove. Shinichi resisted the urge to begin examing the table and balcony to see how Kaito had made the food appear.

For tonight, he wanted to believe in magic.

Kaito watched his detective closely from the other side of the table as they talked about anything and everything that came to mind. The hint of uncertainty that had lingered for years in Shinichi's eyes had disappeared. Now they were clear and bright as Kaito had always thought they should be. And there was nothing but warmth in them when those eyes looked at him. Warmth and trust. And the knowledge that Shinichi really, truly trusted and cared for him for everything that he was gave him a sense of peace he hadn't had in years.

"Come on," he said, getting up and offering Shinichi his hand. "There's one more thing I want to show you before we go home."

The detective didn't hesitate at all in accepting his proffered hand.

Shinichi wasn't particularly surprised when they wound up on the rooftop where their meetings had begun. He wasn't really surprised by the fireworks either. Kaito had a particular fondness for making them and he made it a point to put on his own displays whenever the chance arose. What did surprise him was the sheer expansiveness of the show. The entire sky over Tokyo was literally aglow with showers of colored sparks liked fractured rainbows blossoming against the dark sky. And tonight they all looked like roses. Large ones and small ones bloomed in shifting colors until their petals outnumbered the stars.

Like all the roses he'd ever received from the magician memorialized in lights, Shinichi thought with mild amusement, tilting his head back as he watched the pattern of lights. Kaito stepped up beside him, placing his left hand over Shinichi's right where it rested on the rooftop railing. The detective turned his hand over to twine their fingers together. They turned to face each other, the fireworks casting multicolored veils across their faces.

"Happy birthday, Shin-chan."

Shinichi smiled, feeling oddly like he was standing in a dream. "Thank you."

"I love you."

Shinichi blushed faintly, but it wasn't so much embarrassment as it was happiness. "I love you too."

Another series of explosions temporarily drowned out all other sounds. Tightening his grip, Kaito tugged hard on their joined hands, pulling Shinichi flush against him.

"Forever," he whispered, warm breath ghosting past Shinichi's ear and making the detective shiver. The fierce conviction in his voice made the detective's heart race. He had stopped believing in things like forever a long time ago, but when Kaito said it… When Kaito said it, he couldn't help but believe.

X

"I thought we were going to my place," Shinichi commented, looking up in surprise at Kaito's apartment building as the car pulled to a stop.

"Mine was closer," the thief replied with a grin. "It's also less dusty. And we're less likely to be bothered."

That was certainly true, Shinichi mused as he got out of the car. The only person who would look for him here was Ran. By now there were a handful of others like his parents who knew about Kaito, but none of them knew where he lived. Truth be told, Shinichi had the feeling that not a lot of people did. Kaito had gone out of his way to make himself difficult to find for anyone who didn't want to use the avenues he'd set up himself. It seemed the habit of secrecy was hard to break. He certainly knew how that felt. But it didn't bother him anymore—not the way it used to (and he hoped Kaito felt the same).

An arm slid around his waist. "Penny for your thoughts?"

"I was just thinking that secrets don't seem to weigh as much when you share them with someone."

"Perhaps," the magician agreed thoughtfully. "But that's because they aren't really secrets anymore, no?"

"Only in a manner of speaking."

"True. But I think that's enough, don't you?"

"I do now…"

Kaito smiled fondly at the detective in his arms who seemed to have wandered down yet another of his streams of thought. Deciding it was about time to get out of the parking lot, he bent quickly, hooked one arm behind Shinichi's knees as the other shifted up his back and picked him up.

Shinichi let out a surprised squeak and wrapped his arms instinctively around the magician's neck. "Can't you warn me before you do that?"

"But that wouldn't be as fun~."

Shinichi paused then snorted, shaking his head. A faint smile made its way onto his face as he leaned his head against Kaito's shoulder.

X

Kaito's apartment occupied the entirety of his building's top floor. It had once been more than one apartment, but he needed space to do his work not to mention store his tools. So he'd acquired the other apartments once he'd started getting a name for himself and knocked down a few walls, remodeled here and there, etc. Now it served not only as his home and a studio but there was a section inaccessible to those who didn't know exactly what to do where a certain thief made most of his plans.

This high above the city streets, the night was almost entirely silent. It made it oh so easy to believe that they were in a world of their own, Shinichi thought. Perhaps they really were.

"You have no idea how much I've wanted this," Kaito growled into his ear, sending shudders of nervous excitement down the detective's spine. He was, however, somewhat inclined to disagree, because really he'd been waiting too, but he was cut off before he could say anything by a burning kiss that left him breathless. Well, it wasn't really important anyway.

He looked up into burning, indigo eyes. The predatory look in them made his heart race. It was bizarre because he'd seen something a little like that look before directed at jewels the thief particularly wanted, but to have it directed at him gave it whole new dimensions. Although right now he didn't really have the thoughts left over to analyze them. He couldn't think beyond the sensation but he didn't care. If he was dreaming, he didn't want to wake up.

Kaito caught his lips in another, deeper kiss. Shinichi couldn't stop the quiet moan that escaped him and he didn't try. Instead he slipped his arms around the taller man's neck and pulled him closer.

The magician grinned at that. He couldn't help it. To have Shinichi here now, sprawled out under him and asking for his touch… He'd dreamed about this for years.

It hadn't been easy to wait for his detective to grow up again (especially the last few years, with Shinichi melting so willingly in his arms every time they kissed). There were times when he wanted nothing more than to pin Shinichi to the nearest wall and ravish him. To claim what was his once and for all.

Sometimes he wanted to write it across the sky. Shinichi was his and this thief was not giving him back to anyone!

But there were the legal issues (there were some things no one needed a reputation in) and the fact that he didn't particularly want to be hunted down by Mouri Ran and her karate fluent fists which he had no doubt she would try if she so much as suspected he had done anything she would disapprove of. He wasn't going to give anyone a chance at a reason to say they couldn't be together. In the end though it wasn't as simple as a matter of legalities. Their lives were and probably always would be a complex dance of the things that were real, the things that were made, and the things that could not be ignored.

Besides, anything worth having was worth waiting for. And he wanted Shinichi to know that he was worth waiting for. Wanted him to know that he was entirely serious when he promised him forever.

X

The incessant ringing of a phone dragged Shinichi out of the warm, comfortable haze of sleep he had been drifting in. He wrinkled his nose, trying desperately to hang on to those fluffy tendrils, but it was no use. The ringing paused for a brief moment then started right back up again. He groaned in annoyance.

The arm around his middle tightened followed by Kaito's irritated tones. "Should I get rid of it?"

As if on cue, the phone paused and began a third round of shrilling.

"No," Shinichi sighed. "It might be important."

"It had better be," the magician growled but he unwound the arm he had around Shinichi and reach over him to the nightstand. It took him a moment to locate the correct phone.

Shinichi couldn't help but feel a touch disappointed at the loss of the embrace. Sighing, he stretched and pulled the blankets closer. He was sore in places that made him blush but happier than he could remember being in a long time.

"You might want to answer this one Shin-chan. It's from Ran-san."

Shinichi let out a slightly miffed noise before reaching out blindly in the direction of the ringing. A hand pressed the phone into his questing hand and he answered it.

"Ran-neechan?"

She was silent for so long that he was beginning to wonder if something had gone wrong with the line when she finally spoke. "When are you coming home?"

He blinked, taken aback. He'd been expecting something more along the lines of 'where are you'. "Um, I'm not sure. Do you need me for anything?"

"Everyone's coming over this afternoon and we're going to the park—the big one near the university—for a late picnic and barbeque. It starts at three. Make sure you're there okay?"

"Okay. Do I need to bring anything?"

"No, no," she laughed. "I've already arranged everything. It's just everyone's going to be there. I wanted to make sure you don't miss it. Even Hattori-kun and Kazuha will be there. So don't forget!"

"All right, all right, I won't forget. Three at the park. Is there anything else?"

"Nope, that's it. See you later then."

And that was it. Pulling the phone away from his ear, he stared at it for another long moment before setting it back on the nightstand.

"Problem?"

Shinichi shook his head, absently snuggling closer to the magician. "It's just I'm surprised she didn't ask me where I am."

For some reason this made Kaito laugh. "That would be because I talked to her the day before yesterday. She wanted to throw you a party for your birthday, but I convinced her to move it to today."

"And…she was okay with that?"

"Well, she did give me this really pointed look, but she didn't say anything."

"I guess that's good then," Shinichi mused, more relieved than he cared to admit. "Will you be coming with me to the picnic then?"

"You have to ask?"

It was Shinichi's turn to laugh. And it seemed to him as he looked towards the window that the sun had never looked so bright.

X

He started working part time with the police once he started university. The Shounan Tantei still took cases, but with classes and college life to deal with it had been decided that the team would only meet once every few weeks. The plan was to start a real detective agency once they'd all graduated. Shinichi wasn't sure if that plan would actually pull through in the end, but part of him kind of hoped it would (even if he didn't dare hope too hard).

He'd moved in with Kaito after spending a year in the dorms. The magician's apartment was much closer to the university than the Mouri Detective Agency or his own old house, providing a convenient explanation to give Kogoro and the others. Those like Ran, his parents, and Haibara knew the real reason behind the move, some more so than others, but most of them had been expecting as much.

The day before the move they had paid a visit to Kaito's mother and told her the whole story—both of them. It was something Kaito had been thinking about for a while. More and more he'd come to feel that maybe it was time to bring out the truth.

"To be honest, I always had the impression that she knew more than she was letting on," he'd admitted as they made their way up to the front door. "I guess now's as good a time as any to find out how much."

It turned out he'd been right. She'd known or suspected quite a lot of what had been going on in her son's life. The two had talked long into the night about the past—the truths and the lies and the reasons. Shinichi retreated to Kaito's old room some time during the conversation, not wanting to intrude on the Kurobas' private, family moment. Because of that, he missed when the conversation turned from the past to the future.

"I take it this poison you two mentioned was why you didn't introduce me to Conan-kun until now."

Kaito scratched at the back of his head, a sheepish grin plastered across his face. "Yeah, well…. I didn't want to give you a heart attack or anything."

"After living with your father and you, I don't think anything could shock me anymore." Chikage laughed quietly, shaking her head. "I hope you've told his parents."

"We did," he assured her.

"Good. Next time they're in the country, we should all have dinner. I haven't seen Yukiko in years."

"Will do."

"I…don't suppose this means you're going to stop? The stealing, I mean."

He hesitated a moment before answering. "I can't. Not yet…"

She studied his face for a long moment before letting out a quiet sigh. "I understand. Just—be careful."

"I know, and I will."

"It's getting late."

Kaito nodded, getting to his feet. "I hope you don't mind if we spend the night."

"Of course not." Laughing lightly, Chikage rose and stepped up to her son, pulling him into a warm embrace. "I'm proud of you," she whispered. "And I know Toichi is too. Remember that."

The magician returned the hug, his throat feeling abnormally tight. "I will."

He found Shinichi curled up on top of the covers of his old bed already fast asleep. Smiling faintly, he carefully shifted the detective under the blankets before slipping in beside him. Gathering Shinichi closer to him, he tucked the boy's head under his chin and closed his eyes.

It was funny, he thought to himself, that he had stolen some of the world's most valuable jewels, but he could honestly say that not one of them was as precious to him as the person he held now or the woman in the next room. The most precious things couldn't be labeled with a price.

X

There was no such thing as perfect, that much Shinichi knew, but these days he was beginning to think that you could come pretty close. It was all about perspective.

Of course the secrets were still there, but it was something he'd come to accept. That wasn't to say that it didn't still bother him on occasion, but the fact that he was content with life the way it had turned out went a long way in countering those bouts of depression.

Again, it came down to how he chose to look at things.

Even if he could change the past now, he knew he wouldn't. Kaito had been right. He didn't know what might have happened, but he did know that they were all here now and that was what was important.

He had finally found somewhere that he really felt like he belonged.

There were a few minor drawbacks though. For instance, there was the fact that Hakuba had been the officer assigned to be his partner and 'mentor'—to show him the ropes and whatnot (like he needed that, but procedures were procedures). He had never particularly disliked the blonde. In fact, he'd found he quite liked talking to Hakuba about books in general and Sherlock Holmes in particular. But he quickly discovered that the man could often be every bit the nuisance Kaito always called him. It all started when Hakuba found out that Shinichi—or rather Conan—was living with Kuroba Kaito. He'd started by asking Shinichi a lot of (not so) subtle questions. He'd gone on to inform the younger detective of his suspicions regarding Kuroba and KID. Nowadays Shinichi had the feeling the blonde was beginning to wonder if he was assisting Kaito in his night job.

Peering around the corner to make sure the coast was clear, Shinichi sprinted into the apartment building and made a beeline for the elevator. He relaxed only after he stepped out onto the top floor landing and slipped inside the apartment. He locked it hurriedly behind him.

"You look like a rabbit that's just been run to ground," Kaito's amused voice observed from where he was watching the news, a spread of stage diagrams covering the coffee table before him. "Problem?"

"Hakuba-san was fishing for information again," he grumbled, going to pour himself a large mug of coffee. Full mug in hand, he wandered over and sat down on the magician's lap.

Kaito wrapped his arms around the smaller form, a pleased grin flashing across his face. The news faded into the background as he focused his attention on the disgruntled detective in his arms. His Shin-chan was adorable when he was sulking, he mused, but he knew better than to say that out loud.

"I'd love to be able to tell you that he'll give up eventually, but unfortunately I can't. I think it's become a matter of pride for him since this is one matter on which Aoko's always believed me over him."

"If he wants proof that badly, he should be hounding you, not me."

"He's tried that already," Kaito pointed out, burying his nose in Shinichi's hair. "Let's forget about nosy bastards for now. I just got an invitation to the grand opening of a new theme park in Hokkaido. I can bring guests. Do you want to come with me?"

"When is it?"

"Next week. We'll leave this Sunday and come back the following Saturday."

Shinichi didn't really have to think much about it. "All right." Frankly, it sounded like heaven right about now.

Although he had to admit he would be just as happy to stay right where he was now instead, safe in the arms of the one he loved.

Owari


A.N: I don't actually know why I ended up writing another alternate ending/overview type story, but it was still interesting to do. So anyhow, this was the rest of it! Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed, and I'll see you around. ^_^