Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan/Case Closed.
Chapter 41 - In the Shadow of a Golden Gate
Their airplane touched down in San Francisco shortly before midday.
They had received another package just before they'd left for America containing information on the hotel they would be staying at and the schedule of the mystery conference that it would be hosting.
Chikage found them a taxi, and soon they were pulling up in front of a very grand looking building indeed. With their luggage rumbling and bumping along behind them, they made their way into a gleaming lobby complete with chandelier and an electric fireplace before which plush armchairs sat like elderly grandparents enjoying the warmth.
The Kudos, it turned out, had reserved two standard, two-bed rooms for them. This surprised Shinichi somewhat. He'd half expected his parents to stick him and Kaito in a honeymoon suite or, at the least, a room with only one bed. It was just the kind of thing his mother would do just so she could tease him. Instead, they had provided rooms that allowed him and his guests to freely decide their own arrangements. They could each have their own bed if they so chose. Or the Kurobas could room together if they wanted to keep up their family vacation pretense.
Shinichi wasn't used to his parents being so…accommodating. It was weird.
He wondered what they were up to.
"Would it make you feel better to think that they chose these rooms because they were the only rooms available?" Kaito asked, an amused smirk tugging at his lips.
Shinichi didn't look amused. "Maybe."
"Then do that. It's entirely possible it's the truth too. I mean, this place is pretty busy."
The detective made a noncommittal noise in his throat and turned to studying the tide of people flowing around them, alert to the possibility that his parents might rise out of the throng at any moment. To his relief, they didn't.
Instead, he, Kaito and Chikage piled into one of the wood-paneled elevators with a half dozen other guests and made their way up. Their rooms were in different hallways on the same floor, so they parted ways from Chikage once they exited the elevator with a promise not to get into too much trouble.
"I'll be meeting an old school friend for dinner, so you two should make your arrangements without me," she told them.
"You're going on a date?!" Kaito squawked, looking equal parts shocked and disturbed.
"Heavens no," his mother exclaimed with a laugh. "Like I said, I'm meeting an old school friend. After we parted ways in high school, she came to the States to study journalism at UCLA. Now she works in San Francisco. I told her I'd be visiting, and she's invited me out to dinner."
"Oh." Apparently mollified for the time being, Kaito let the matter drop.
"We'll have breakfast together tomorrow morning," his mother continued. "Then we'll touch bases. Now get along with you. Just make sure not to get too carried away."
Kaito flicked his mother a jaunty salute that made her laugh. "Yes Ma'am!"
Then he slung an arm over Shinichi's shoulders, grabbed the handle of his luggage with his other hand, and began steering them down the silent halls with their thick, soft carpeting until they found their room.
Inside, was the usual two queen-sized bed with fluffy white pillows and a seashell themed coverlet in shades of coral and cream.
It was a comfortable kind of room, Shinichi decided. Exactly what he expected a hotel to be.
Kaito flopped onto one of the queen beds with a laugh. He didn't stay there long. Still buzzing with pent up energy from the too long flight, he was bouncing right back up again in the next instant to do a circuit of the room. He began opening doors and pulling out drawers. He even poked his head behind the flat-screen television set and poked around the cables.
Shinichi watched him for a while before he just had to ask. "What are you doing?"
"Just checking," the magician replied. "You can never be too careful."
Shinichi blinked, thought about it, and decided that he agreed. So he set about performing a quick check of his own. He wouldn't put it past his parents to bug them.
Neither boy turned up anything untoward in their searches however. And that, considering one was Japan's best detective and the other the Kaitou KID, probably meant that there wasn't anything to find.
Even so, Shinichi made one last circuit of the room just to be absolutely sure.
"Okay, that's enough of that," Kaito declared. "I want lunch. Did you want to eat here at the hotel or go find somewhere out in the city?"
"Room service?" Shinichi suggested, covering a yawn.
Kaito wrinkled his nose. "No way. We just spent half a day on a plane. It's time to stretch our legs and get some fresh air."
Shinichi supposed the magician had a point. Personally, he was kind of tired from the long trip, fraught as it had been with weird dreams and worries, but at the same time he felt to jittery to actually sleep. Maybe some fresh air was the answer.
"We could always just go out, walk around, see what catches our eyes," he suggested.
"So you're sure you don't want to drop in on the convention? Let your parents know we got here safely and all that?"
Shinichi winced then tried to hide it. "Maybe later."
The magician quirked an eyebrow at that but decided not to press the issue. Instead, he pulled open the hotel room door and bowed, sweeping his arm out. "After you."
Shinichi rolled his eyes, but he had to smile. His silly magician and his dramatics. Shinichi wouldn't want him any other way.
They ended up lunching at a comfortable little place that served breakfast foods all day. Shinichi had an omelet and watched in horrified amazement as Kaito drowned his French toast in syrup. Then, with their stomachs full and their thoughts cleared by the crisp, seaside winds, they set out to see the sights. Kaito had snagged a glossy brochure on the city from the airport and was fully prepared to play the part of the excited tourist.
So they got hot chocolates at Ghirardelli's then set off to spend the next several hours walking all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was windy and cold, and the traffic was a constant roar vying for supremacy over the howl of the wind, but the view was breathtaking. And there was something about that sense of distance, Shinichi thought as he gazed out over the bay towards the endless skyline beyond. Standing here, it seemed as though the whole world was just so far away. And, despite all the noise, he found that he felt a kind of peace here just walking over the water—here between places where you had to work even to hear your own thoughts.
"We should come here again before we leave," Kaito said, gazing out to where the sun was just beginning to dip towards the horizon, gilding the ocean waves with gold.
With his arm wound through Kaito's, Shinichi leaned his head on the magician's shoulder and simply watched with him. "We should."
And there they stood, side by side, as the sun set the sky on fire and painted the ocean gold.
But then the light was fading, and they found themselves picking up the pace until they were jogging back towards solid land with the now icy wind cutting across their unprotected faces. With the wind came a spattering of ice cold drops. A few minutes more, and it began to rain in earnest.
Soaking wet, they tumbled through their hotel room door and began hastily divesting themselves of their waterlogged garments.
"We should shower," Shinichi said, wringing his shirt out in the sink then moving to hang it up to dry. "You can go first, if you want."
Kaito laughed. "Don't be ridiculous. The shower's plenty big enough for both of us." That said, he looped an arm around the detective and propelled him back into the bathroom.
They emerged some time later in a waft of warm, steamy air to the sound of the phone on the nightstand ringing.
Expecting his mother, Kaito picked up the receiver only to be greeted by a member of the hotel staff who informed him that a Mr. and Mrs. Kudo had a message for Kudo Shinichi and his guest.
"That's us," Kaito replied. "What's the message?"
"You know there's a convention underway, yes?"
"The one for mystery fiction."
"Yes, that. Well, there is a meet and greet this evening for the attending authors and other guests. It's a ticketed event as there is limited space, but Mr. Kudo asked us to inform the two of you that you have been added to the guest list. They look forward to seeing you there."
"I see. Thank you for the message. I'll let Shinichi know."
"You're welcome. Have a good evening."
Hanging up, Kaito turned just in time to see Shinichi exit the bathroom wrapped in nothing but a towel and go in search of clothes to wear. Pleased by this fortuitous timing, the magician sat down on the edge of one of the two hotel beds and contented himself with watching Shinichi bend over the suitcase lying open on the suitcase rack to begin pulling out fresh clothes. His gaze followed a drop of water as it slid down the curve of Shinichi's pale neck, and he thought of running his tongue along that same glistening trail over that warm, satin skin.
"Get your mind out of the gutter," Shinichi ordered without looking up. "And tell me what my parents wanted. It was them, wasn't it?"
"Not them personally, but they sent a message. Apparently we're invited to this invitations-only meet and greet for the authors and other special guests of the convention." Wandering up behind Shinichi, Kaito let his hands rest lightly on his detective's towel-covered hips. He leaned down to murmur into Shinichi's ear. "They're looking forward to seeing us there."
Shinichi shivered as Kaito's words tickled the shell of his ear. He was keenly aware of Kaito's brushing feather light along the edge of his towel. Warmth tingled across his skin, and he found himself leaning back against Kaito's chest, eyes closed and just savoring the feeling of having those strong arms around him.
"Do we really have to go?" he wondered aloud, though, even as he said it, he knew the answer.
"I think we do," Kaito replied, echoing Shinichi's own inner thoughts. "Look on the bright side. There'll be a lot of other authors there. Maybe even some you know."
That was true, and the thought did perk Shinichi up a bit.
"I also checked the schedule, and your dad will be on a panel just before the meet and greet," the magician continued. "So, since we know where he'll be—or rather where he won't be, we can stop by to see what books they have on sale beforehand. I'm sure there'll be at least a few special deals."
That did it. There was nothing quite like the promise of new mystery novels to cheer Shinichi up and sweep away his reservations and other concerns. Kaito congratulated himself on a job well done.
Donning semi-formal outfits for the meet and greet, the two set out to the ballrooms that had been dedicated to the various publishers selling books at the convention. Since they were in America, all the books were in English, but that was no deterrent for Shinichi. He was delighted at the chance to get his hands on some brand new novels that hadn't been translated. Kaito watched in open amazement as his detective zipped from display to display and his purchases piled up on the little pushcart they'd borrowed at the door.
"There's no way all that is going to fit in our luggage. You do realize that, don't you?" he asked. "Even if we could squeeze it all in, it would definitely be over the luggage weight limit."
"I'll have them mailed," Shinichi replied distractedly before he spotted another promising booth and zipped away again. Kaito just laughed. Well, might as well do a bit of browsing himself. He could appreciate a good book too. And an artist was always searching for new inspiration.
-To Be Continued-