Mikau: Hello there! Yes, I know. You've been waiting entirely too long for this. The short version: law school happened. I'm studying to be a paralegal. My grandpa got sick, so my grandparents moved in with us, and then he died, so that was a huge adjustment. I went through a very ugly breakup, and then I got really sick. I'm better now, but things were really bad for a while. And now I'm back. I've missed you terribly, and I hope you enjoy the new chapter. Also, if you have a moment, check out my new fic, Riddle Me. It's HakuKai, and Conan makes a guest appearance, giving Kaito love advice. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: If I owned it, there would be more plot-relevant episode per season. Or maybe there would be less because I'd be too busy writing pointless, mushy, shounen ai scenes. Hmm. Tough call.


Hakuba Kaito was sick. For real this time. Unlike the times he had held the thermometer up to a light bulb when his mom wasn't looking or put on a little makeup to make his face look pale or held his hands under cold water to make them feel clammy, he was actually sick this time.

His mother had only rolled her eyes and muttered about how she didn't have time for his shenanigans.

His older brother, Masaomi, just shook his head and called Kaito a faker.

His older sister, Ayame, had proposed that they let him skip, since he would only end up playing hooky anyway.

His father had been the only one to bother looking for the telltale signs of faking and deduce that his child was actually sick. "Darling, maybe we should just let him stay home today. I should have a light caseload, so I can stay home and keep an eye on him, unless something comes up. Even if I do have to run out, I could have Baaya drop by and check in on him."

"Whatever you think is best," Aoko rolled her eyes once more, grabbing a piece of toast before running out the door.

Saguru sighed. His wife was so busy nowadays.

He turned back to his children and shrugged. "Who wants waffles?"

Kaito spent the majority of the morning knocked out on cold medicine, but just after noon, Saguru got a call from a client with an urgent case.

"Sorry, Kai-chan," his father sheepishly apologized, brushing a light kiss to the teen's forehead. "Kidnapping. I have to go, but do you want me to call Baaya to come take care of you?"

"Nah, I'm fine, Dad," the young teen muttered, rolling over to his other side. "I'm just gonna sleep. Good luck with the case."

"Thanks. I'll be back before you know it. Feel better, Kaito," Saguru whispered, getting up to leave.

It was about an hour or two later—Kaito didn't have that keen sense of time like his father or brother—when the kid woke up to a light rapping at the front door followed by the doorbell twice.

Kaito struggled to pull himself out of bed and then to the front door.

It wasn't until he actually got to the vestibule that he realized he was still in pjs.

He opened the door regardless. "Hi there. Can I help you?"

"Hey. This is the Hakuba residence, right?" asked the middle-aged man (with hair just about as unruly as Kaito's) standing on the porch.

"Yes," Kaito responded cautiously, eying the familiar-looking man. "Can I help you with something, Sir?"

"Kuroba," the visitor chuckled. "I'm an old friend of your parents. I was in town, so I decided to drop by and check up on them. My name ring any bells?"

Kaito frowned, trying to remember. "Yeah, I think I've heard the name before. My mom's at work, and my dad got called out on a case. He should be home soon, but Mom doesn't get off until late most days. Would you want to come in and have a seat in the living room? Dad left about three hours ago, so it shouldn't take too much longer. He's a really amazing detective—the best there is next to Edogawa Conan. Uh, follow me; the living room's just in here to the right."

Kuroba-san smiled fondly at the mention of the shrunken sleuth as he followed Kaito to the parlor. "You really love your dad, don't you? Are you two close?"

"Yeah," Kaito admitted sheepishly, motioning for his guest to have a seat. "He's really cool; he's the only one that takes me seriously. He's the only one able to put up with me too. Everyone else thinks I'm too much of a handful."

"I know what that's like," the older man chuckled "So, are you gonna become a detective like your dad?"

"Nah." Kaito shrugged, taking a seat on the couch across the coffee table from his parents' friend. "My older brother Masaomi's doin' that. He's better at it than I am anyway."

"So what are you gonna do when you're older?" Kuroba-san asked with genuine interest. "Do you have any idea yet?"

Kaito smiled shyly. "Don't laugh, but I'm gonna be an actor."

The visitor nodded knowingly. "What's your sister want to be? Her name's Ayame, right?"

"Yeah. Aya's gonna be an idol. If that doesn't work, she's gonna marry some boy band's lead singer and have two daughters, a cat, and a dog." Kaito rolled his eyes.

"She sounds like a sixteen year-old girl alright," Kuroba snickered. "Can she sing?"

"Oh, yeah," Kaito assured. "She's got a really good voice."

"That's good." The man smiled softy. "Kaito-kun, Masaomi-kun is eighteen now, isn't he?"

"Yep." Kaito nodded, curling his feet up underneath him.

"Which makes you fifteen, doesn't it?"

"Mmhm. Hey, Kuroba-san? What do you do for a living?" Kaito cocked his head to the side in curiosity.

"I'm retired now, but I used to be a world-famous magician. I had a lot of fans," the older gentleman boasted.

"Cool! Can you show me a trick or something?" the young teen entreated with big eyes full of enthusiasm.

"Okay, but just one," Kuroba-san pretended to be reluctant to show off.

About thirty minutes later, Kaito had almost mastered the art of palming objects and could make a rose appear out of thin air.

"Show me a card trick next. Please? Pretty please?" Kaito begged, pulling on the magician's arm like a little kid.

"Okay, but only the one, Kid," Kuroba-san chuckled, fishing out a deck of cards and laying them out in three rows. "Pick a card and tell me what row it's in."

"Middle," Kaito mumbled, watching the cards and Kuroba-san's hands very closely.

The magician repeated the setup several times before laying out the cards in several groups of four. "Pick a pile."

Furrowing his brow, Kaito picked the one closest to himself.

Kuroba-san took all the other piles away. "Pick two cards."

Kaito did as bid.

Kuroba-san took away the other two cards. "Pick one."

Kaito did, and Kuroba-san flipped it over, revealing the Ace of Clubs. "That your card?"

"Yes," Kaito breathed, looking back and forth from the card to the magician in amazement. "Kuroba-san, how did you do that?!"

"Little bit of math," he chuckled. "It's a simple trick. Any particular reason you picked the Ace of Clubs?"

"I like the clover pattern." Kaito shrugged.

"Me too." Kuroba-san smirked. "…Hey, Kaito-kun? That's a nice name you've got there. Did your parents ever tell you why they picked it?"

Kaito nodded. "They were actually gonna name me Shota right up until they were at the hospital, but they said that when they saw me that they knew I was a 'Kaito'. I'm named after my uncle who was killed when they were in high school. I guess I really look like him or act like him or something 'cause both my parents seem to think I'm his reincarnation or something. I hear them whispering about it from time to time."

Kuroba-san nodded, a lopsided smirk blooming on his face.

"Hey, did you know my uncle Kaito, Kuroba-san? You said you were an old friend of Mom and Dad's."

Kuroba-san chuckled softly, a sad smile coming to his lips. "Yeah, I knew him."

"What was he like?" Kaito's ears perked up. Uncle Kaito stories were always the best.

"He was…a showman to the very end," Kuroba-san finally decided. "He could be really selfish sometimes, but his heart was usually in the right place. He lived to make people smile, and he couldn't stand seeing people hurt. He always tried his best to be a decent person, and I'd like to think that he succeeded."

"Sounds like you knew him pretty well," Kaito mused.

"I think so," the magician chuckled.

"Oh, you know what? Let me get you some tea or something." Kaito scrambled to his feet, mentally scolding himself for being such a bad host. "Sorry. I should have offered earlier."

"That's alright. I don't need anything," Kuroba-san declined politely.

"I insist. I'll go make some tea and be right back." Kaito rushed to the kitchen, got out the teapot and began boiling some water.

Hakuba Saguru returned home just as his youngest son walked out of the kitchen toward the living room carrying a tea tray. "Kaito, what are you doing out of bed? I thought you were sick."

"I am sick, but I had to make some tea," the shrimpy adolescent explained. "Oh! Watch this, Dad!" Kaito exclaimed, setting down the tray on the hall table and making a flower appear. "Tada! Isn't that cool?!"

Saguru blinked in honest surprise. "That's…That's quite impressive, actually. Kaito, where did you learn to do that?"

"Your friend taught me." Kaito picked up the tray again as he motioned into the parlor with his shoulder.

"Friend?" Saguru muttered in confusion.

"Yeah. Your old friend Kuroba-san's in town, so he came to visit. He was just showing me all these cool magic tricks, and I've decided I'm gonna be a magician when I grow up!"

Saguru paled, dropping his bag and flinging off his shoes as quickly as possible. He rushed to the living room only to stop in the doorway. "Kaito?" he called softly.

"What?" his son responded, just a step behind.

"He was talking to me, Kid," Kuroba-san chuckled, standing up and turning around.

He smiled, and Saguru's heart was taken captive once more. "Hey, Saguru. Long time no see."

The detective stumbled backward, catching himself on the doorframe as his knees went weak. "Kaito…you're…"

"Geez, Saguru…don't look at me like that," the magician laughed sheepishly, blushing slightly as he broke eye contact and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Your son's watching."

"I can't help it," Saguru choked, trying not to cry. "How am I supposed to react when you show up in my living room after a couple decades?"

Kuroba shrugged, slowly approaching until he was standing right in front of the blonde. "You could give me a hug."

Without hesitation, Saguru threw his arms around the apparition, squeezing the magician tight. "You have no idea how much I've missed you, Kaito."

"Oh, I have a pretty good idea," Kuroba chuckled. "I've been keeping tabs on you guys this whole time. You might not of seen me, but I've been there."

"I thought you moved on…I thought…I thought that…" Saguru pulled back slightly glancing between his son and his first love.

The magician smiled. "What? That he was me? Nah. Cute kid, though; he's got his mother's eyes. I see that things worked out between you and Aoko."

Saguru blushed, letting his hands slide down to rest on his old flame's hips. "A little. She…reminded me of you. You two look and behave similarly, so…I decided to listen to your advice, and we were married just after college."

"I remember. I was there," Kuroba chuckled, slipping his arms around Saguru's neck. "You look good in a white tux, and Aoko's dress was…flattering, to say the least." The trickster smirked.

"If you were there, why couldn't anybody see you?" Kaito finally spoke up. "Can ghosts decide when to be invisible or something?"

The detective and retired thief blinked, turning slightly in their loose embrace to face the teen.

"If they're strong enough." Kuroba shrugged. "After I first got killed, your dad could see me for a few months afterwards because I had unfinished business. Once we caught my murderers, only people with strong sixth senses could see me because I'd lost my purpose for being seen. Once you die, you gain power as a spirit with every year that you stick around on Earth. Once you have enough power, you can physically interact with solid objects and make yourself seen even by people without spiritual awareness. I've only recently been able to make myself visible, but…aren't you a little freaked out by the dead guy in your living-room, Kid?"

"Not really." Kaito shrugged. "I figure, if you were going to hurt me, you would have done it already. Plus, since you and my dad seem to be…uh…close… Does my mom know that you two were…uh…"

The magician broke out in a giggle fit as the detective turned raspberry red. "Yeah. He told her."

"Kaito!" Saguru scolded.

The two glanced at each other before determining that the blonde was talking to the elder Kaito.

"What?" Kuroba chuckled. "Something wrong with being honest with your kid? He's almost an adult; he can handle it."

"No. Being truthful is integral to childrearing, but you're causing a misunderstanding," Saguru grumbled, turning to his son. "During high school I had a bit of a crush on your uncle, but nothing ever happened between us. He was in love with your mother. In fact, had Kaito not been killed, he and your mother would most likely have ended up together."

Kaito nodded, turning to his namesake. "So…you never had feelings for my dad?"

"Not in high school, no," Kuroba sighed.

Kaito blinked. "Which is to say that you did at some point, just not while you were in high school."

Kuroba smiled and nodded.

"Sorry, you what?" Saguru whipped around to stare incredulously at his once beloved.

"Too little too late." The apparition shrugged with a wistful sigh, going to sit back down on the couch.

"Kaito!" Saguru growled, grabbing the ghost by the wrist.

The magician exhaled slowly and turned to face the detective. Indigo eyes met goldenrod, and Kuroba whispered bitterly, "I love you, Mr. Hakuba-Happily-Married-With-Three-Children-Saguru, but that still doesn't change the fact that I'm dead. I missed my chance…. Don't worry about it."

Saguru released his grip with a barely perceptible sigh. "You come back into my life after twenty-five years, tell me you love me, and then say 'Don't worry about it'?"

"How is Superintendent Hakuba nowadays, anyway?" Kuroba put on a smile for his audience as he took a seat back on the couch.

Saguru took a deep breath and let it go, going to sit on the couch opposite his 'the one that got away'. "Aoko is just fine, thank you. She's turned into a bit of a workaholic, but I can tell the work makes her happy. With the kids being a little older now, I don't need her help taking care of them as much as I did when they were young, so she's free to come and go as the job requires."

"I'm happy for her," Kuroba cooed, a soft smile coming to his face at the mention of his first love. "And things are going well for you in the private eye business?"

Saguru shrugged, not really wanting to talk about work when a man he'd thought long gone was currently sitting on his sofa. "They are. I've always liked the freedom of the job. I'm well-known thanks to my work with Kid and the Black Organization, and I'm very good at my job, so I can pick and choose cases that interest me, planning out my own schedule except when the police consult with me on time-sensitive cases. It's made working around my children's schedules doable, and you know that I enjoy the challenge.

"Now, enough chitchat, Kaito. Where have you been all these years? I thought you'd moved on," Saguru stated with authority, demanding answers.

Kuroba smiled sadly. "I tried moving on, but it turns out I've still got some unfinished business."

"What is it?" Kaito asked, sitting down next to his uncle and barging back into the conversation. "Is it anything we can help with?"

Kuroba shook his head. "You know, shortly after I discovered I couldn't move on, I ran into my dad. Turns out he had some unfinished business too, even after Pandora was destroyed. He couldn't move on because he was worried about Mom. Guess it runs in the family, 'cause I'm the same way."

"You can't move on because you're worried for your mother?" Saguru muttered, mulling over the problem.

"No," Kuroba chuckled, a warm grin spreading across his face.

"He means you and Mom, Dad," Kaito explained, looking back at his uncle. "Right?"

Kuroba nodded. "And you too, Kid. I've taken a liking to you, and I've decided to become your mentor."

"Seriously?" Kaito instantly perked up. "So you'll help me become a magician?!"

"If that's what you want." Kuroba shrugged and turned to tussle the teen's already messy hair. "I could help you be an actor too."

"Wait. Kaito, you're saying that you can't move on because you're worried about Aoko and myself?" Saguru gasped.

"Yep," the older Kaito admitted. "Yeah, yeah. I know. There's no reason for me to worry, but that's not gonna make me worry any less, Saguru. I've been here, hovering about, fussing over you guys for twenty-five years already; I'm not going away anytime soon. Don't worry about holding me back; I'm content here. I'm even doing some good, working as a detective's assistant."

"Whose?" Saguru's eyes narrowed.

"Guess," Kuroba chuckled sheepishly.

"Edogawa," the detective snorted.

"Wow. Got it in one." The ghost shrugged as though it couldn't be helped. "He's always been able to see me, even after you couldn't anymore. I've been haunting him periodically since then. We kind of needed each other, things being what they were. We were both alone. I mean, no one else could see me, and Ran-chan…wasn't as forgiving as he had hoped she'd be…."

"So…you're just going to hang around and fret over us for the rest of eternity?" Saguru sighed loudly, brow furrowing in worry for his friend.

"No…just as long as you're living, you and Aoko," Kuroba chuckled. "Though, becoming the Hakuba Family Guardian could be cool."

"Kaito, you've done enough. You deserve to go rest in peace now," Saguru urged.

"Not without you two." The magician was adamant. "I won't go without the people I love. I can't rest in peace as long as you two are out there, chasing down criminals, putting your lives on the line for justice. Besides, I promised Kaito-kun I'd teach him magic."

"Kaito…" Saguru grumbled.

Kuroba glanced at the clock and smiled sadly. "Saguru, you should know better than to try to argue with me. I'm too stubborn for you to beat me. Besides…it's time for me to go."

"Go?" Saguru jumped to his feet. "Go where? You can't just come back after all this time and then just leave!"

"Calm down," Kuroba chuckled, getting up and coming around the coffee table to stand in front of his beloved. "I'm just going home. Tantei-kun and I have a meeting with a client in forty-five minutes, so I have to head back. Don't worry. I promise we'll see each other again soon."

He turned to the younger Kaito and smiled. "You take care of yourself and practice palming like I showed you. Also, tell your mom that I came to visit." He then looked back at the detective. "And, Saguru?"

Saguru raised an eyebrow.

"I'm really sorry," the spirit whispered sheepishly.

Saguru managed to get out "For wha—" before the magician caught his lips in a quick but fiery kiss.

And then Kuroba Kaito was gone once again.

The detective felt dizzy as he put a hand to his lips in a daze.

Kaito tried to sneak away quietly, but one of the floorboards creaked.

Saguru spun around at the noise and gazed in abject horror at his son. "I…He…I didn't mean t—"

"—I don't have to tell Mom about that part," Kaito offered, playing with the drawstring of his Doraemon pajama pants. "…and…it's okay to like guys, Dad. I mean…I know you're married and everything, but…Mom doesn't really have time for anything but her job, so you guys probably don't—I mean, as long as you don't get a divorce and run off to Hawaii or anything, I…I'm just trying to say that it's okay for you to have feelings, Dad. You're human."

Saguru closed his mouth and nodded. "But that still doesn't make cheating right," he sighed. "Have you ever had a girlfriend, Kaito?"

The teen shifted nervously. "Yeah. I've had girlfriends before, nothing serious, but…right now…his name is Masaki." Kaito looked up at his father as if asking if Saguru were going to make something of it.

Saguru only made a small "Oh" sound before continuing on with his point. "Well, think of how you would feel if you found out that Masaki-kun was seeing someone else behind your back."

Kaito smiled softly. "I'm not a little kid, Dad. I know what I'm saying, and I know what it would mean, but…the situation's different. Masaki and I have been dating for a few weeks; you've been in love with Uncle Kaito for years. I'm not talking about risking things with Mom over a little fling, and I'm not saying you should go cheat on her with Uncle Kaito without any serious thought either. I'm just saying that you should allow yourself to be happy spending time with him, and if something happens like it did just now, don't beat yourself up over it too much."

Saguru nodded again, amazed at the mature advice coming from the lips of his normally juvenile child. "Thank you, Kaito…but shouldn't you be in bed? You're supposed to be sick, and your brother and sister should be home soon. Wouldn't want them thinking you were faking this time too."

"Yikes," Kaito gulped, heading back to his room. He paused in the doorway and turned back to his father. "Hey, Dad? Could we not talk about my boyfriend in front of Masaomi-niichan? He's not as…open-minded as you." Kaito nervously chewed on his lip.

Saguru nodded, nudging his child back to bed. "Go get some rest, Kai-chan."

"I will." Kaito grinned. "Good talk, Dad."

"Good talk, Kaito," Saguru returned.

As soon as he heard his son settle into his bedroom, Hakuba Saguru collapsed onto the couch and exhaled slowly.

He had some thinking to do; there were a lot of consequences to consider.



Mikau: There. Done. Finally. Sorry again for the horrendous wait. I hope it was at least kind of worth it? Hopefully it wasn't a let-down. If you have a minute, I'd appreciate if you'd let me know what you liked/what you didn't and any other feedback you have. Thank you, and drive home safely!