A Slight Hiccup

Emiko held up the costume she had so lovingly made for the mystical son she was about to sort-of gain tonight. "Are you sure that this will fit him, Dad?"

Daiki glanced over at it. "I think so."

"You can't just think so!" she protested. "It has to fit right! If it's too small he can't get it on and if it's too big it will look silly and maybe be a nuisance while he's off thieving! Oh, I don't want my faulty measurements to be the cause of my little Daisuke going to prison!"

"It won't be Emiko, Dark knows what he's doing," Daiki assured her. "He's been doing this for hundreds of years."

Emiko nodded. "I guess you're right. But I wouldn't have to rely on that if you could be a bit surer of the measurements!"

Daiki held up his hands. "What do you expect? This was forty years ago!"

"If you still had any old clothes from back then then we could have been sure," Emiko said.

"It didn't occur to me back then that I might want to save anything Dark wore in case someone wanted to make him an outfit to wear for his first night back," Daiki said.

"A phantom thief should always be prepared," Emiko sniffed.

"I was retired!"

Emiko continued to look unimpressed.

"Even if it doesn't fit tonight, you'll be able to take his measurements and make something nice for his next theft," Daiki said consolingly.

"But tonight's his big debut so it's even more important that people see him at his best!" Emiko exclaimed. "Especially since I've heard so much doubt that he'll really come back after all this time." She looked wistfully at the stairs. "If only Daisuke would come down so I could be sure!"

"Do you think he's changed yet?" Daiki asked.

Emiko shook her head. "I doubt it. If he had then surely he'd have come down screaming by now. He can't fail to notice he transformed, could he?"

Daiki strained to remember. "I…don't think so. Not the first time, at least. You can definitely feel that. Emiko, dear, I know that you're very excited about this but Daisuke might not be in the right frame of mind to let you dress him up tonight."

"Don't be ridiculous, Dad," Emiko said dismissively. "If I can convince him to go out and rob a museum then surely I can convince him to change his clothes first."

"I'm actually not sure how much luck you'll have with that, either," Daiki admitted.

"That's why the first target is the 'Saint of Tears' statue," Emiko replied. "We'll tell him the key to changing back is the sacred maiden and he will make the connection. With as much help from you and I as is necessary."

Daiki stroked his beard. "That is inspired."

Emiko beamed at him. "I want this to go perfectly, especially while Daisuke is still getting used to the idea."

"It would help if he had had some time to get used to the idea before tonight," Daiki pointed out. "By the time I was fourteen I was nervous but ultimately on board with becoming Dark."

Emiko sighed. "I know but I promised Kosuke that I wouldn't tell him."

"I never did understand that," Daiki said slowly. "It's not as if by not telling him it will make the whole thing go away. All it will do is make him unprepared."

"That's what the training is for."

Daiki nodded, conceding that. "It might have made him wonder what the training is for but I guess kids don't think to question these things."

Emiko shrugged. "He said something about a normal childhood, I think. Not that we could give him one while raising him to be the phantom thief but it was closer to it than he would have had if he had known. It doesn't really matter why, just that I did promise him."

"Well we could have at least told him before he actually turned into Dark," Daiki said. "Maybe a few weeks ago."

"I would have but somehow I don't think he'd believe me," Emiko said. She laughed. "And it wouldn't have been as much fun."

"Why wouldn't he believe you?" Daiki asked, surprised. "I always believed and you never doubted me despite my not being able to prove it to you."

"Well, Dad, you told me about Dark before I can even remember and little kids don't question these things. It's like believing in Santa Claus."

Daiki stared at her. "Are you comparing believing in Dark to believing in Santa Claus?"

Emiko frowned. "Maybe my analogy needs work…"

"How is it like believing in Santa Clause?" Daiki asked.

"It's easy enough to believe in something like that, as crazy as it may seem, when it's what you are taught forever. When you hear about it as an adult - as a fourteen-year-old in this case - you need to see the proof and Daisuke will see it soon enough," Emiko explained.

"What is keeping that boy?" Daiki wondered. "I would have thought that he'd have turned by now."

"He has a little time," Emiko said, glancing at the clock. "But who knows how long it will take to calm him down and then convince him? Daisuke!"

Daisuke's door opened and he skipped down the stairs. He was still looking decidedly like himself and rather cheerful. "Yes, Mom?"

Emiko exchanged a helpless look with her father.

Daiki coughed. "So, Daisuke, how was school today?"

Daisuke's face lit up. "Oh, it was great!"

"Really," Emiko said, trying not to sound disappointed at her son's happiness.

Daisuke nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, yeah. I finally worked up the nerve to give Riku-san a letter confessing my feelings for her and guess what? She told me that she felt the same way! She kissed my cheek!"

"So…you're not feeling any sting of unrequited or uncertain love?" Emiko asked, surprised.

"Nope," Daisuke said happily. "I'm fourteen and in love! Isn't this great?"

"Yes, of course," Emiko said weakly.

"Did you need anything, Mom?" Daisuke asked her.

Emiko shook her head. "I just…wanted to wish you a happy birthday again."

"Thanks, Mom," Daisuke said before heading back upstairs.

"This is terrible," Emiko said the minute he was safely back in his room. "Am I a terrible mother for thinking that this is terrible when he's so happy?"

"No," Daiki reassured her immediately. "It's not like you tried to ruin his happiness or anything."

"I want Daisuke to be happy more than anything!" Emiko insisted. "It's just…did it really have to be tonight?"

"I've never heard of such a thing," Daiki told her. "He's a fourteen-year-old boy. What kind of fourteen-year-old doesn't have any feelings of unrequited love?"

"Has this really never happened in all the centuries since Dark came into our family?" Emiko asked.

Daiki shrugged. "I don't think so. It's not in the histories that I've read but there are sometimes decades between appearances and I don't think that this would be something to advertise."

"What are we supposed to do?"

"I don't see what we can do," Daiki said. "We can't just ask Daisuke to go out as himself and steal something and to keep doing that. He's far too young for that sort of thing and there will be cameras there. If anyone gets a glimpse of him then it's all over."

Emiko looked down. "I had so wanted to get to be the mother of Dark. It wasn't quite the same as getting to be Dark himself but it was something. Once I had a boy I was so sure that this would be it that there was no need to have any other children but Daisuke. I wonder if that was a mistake."

"He might be happy in love now but he is still only fourteen, Emiko," Daiki tried to reassure her. "I do not believe that, if sometime in the future Daisuke has the necessary feelings to trigger his initial transformation, he won't transform just because it's not exactly his fourteenth birthday. Becoming fourteen is probably just the prerequisite."

"I hope so," Emiko said wistfully. Her eyes widened. "Not that I am in any way wishing pain and heartbreak on my precious son."

"Of course not, Emiko. Daisuke is just fourteen. The odds of Daisuke and this Riku-san staying together for the rest of their lives and never even breaking up once is very unlikely," Daiki said.

"One can only hope," Emiko replied. "That, er, Daisuke is in fact that lucky. But if he should not be then finally getting Dark to appear after forty years is a good consolation prize."

"Well I guess that's all there is for it," Daiki said, going over to the table, picking up the remote, and turning the television off. "We just have to wait and see what happens. But even if it never affects Daisuke, any sons that he has will – more than likely – carry Dark."

"I guess that being the grandmother of Dark is better than nothing," Emiko said, sighing. "But…what do we tell the police?"

"Why should we have to tell the police anything?" Daiki asked. "No one knows to connect this to us except for the Hikari and do you really think they will come seeking us out asking? And if they do, why should we tell them anything?"

"Well, we don't have to," Emiko said. "But it's a little embarrassing, isn't it? We get everyone all stirred up for the first time in forty years and some people don't even believe us but they show up anyway to see the show and then…nothing happens."

"It can't be helped."

"They're not going to take us seriously next time," Emiko complained. "They're going to think that this was just a hoax and then no one is going to be waiting next time."

"The Hikari will be waiting. And once the first object is stolen, they will know that he is genuine and the crowds will come," Daiki assured her.

"But it won't be his debut," Emiko pouted. "At least his clothes will stay the same size if Dark finally appears in a week or in another forty years so he can still wear what I made for him."

"There is that," Daiki agreed. "And Emiko, I promise that no matter how many false alarms there are, once Dark finally does appear he will woo the crowds just like he always does. One day, Dark will return and it will be spectacular."

"Next time we're making sure that Dark is going to show up before we send out the warning notes," Emiko declared. "We can't go around looking like amateurs, now can we?"