Disclaimer: I don't own the DCMK characters.
Moon Over Eventide
26: What We Share
Hakuba Saguru was not happy. He liked to consider himself a patient person. He had to be, he reasoned, considering the brash hotheadedness of certain friends of his. But he did not feel that even the most patient of people could be expected to tolerate this kind of treatment. Not only had his supposed friends disappeared without a word to him about where they were going or what they were up to for several days, but when they returned, they refused to tell him any details of their time away. What was worse, it turned out they had been helping solve a major case.
"I don't see why you didn't tell me," he said for the umpteenth time, scowling over his cup of tea at his two fellow detectives.
"We couldn't," Shinichi replied, sounding just as exasperated as Hakuba felt. They had all been going over the same conversation in different forms for the last two hours after all. They were all irritated by now. "There was no time. We weren't trying to leave you out."
"And yet you brought Kuroba," the blonde detective said flatly.
Hattori opened his mouth then shut it again. He had been about to say that it was because Shinichi and Kaito were roommates, but then he remembered that he and Hakuba were roommates too, so it wouldn't make for a very strong argument.
"Things just sort of happened that way," Shinichi answered for the both of them. "And we really are sorry we didn't call you too. We won't forget to next time."
Hakuba let out a long and rather pointed sigh. "What is done is done. I suppose I must simply be grateful that you all made it back in one piece."
"You say that like you thought we wouldn't," Hattori grumbled, relaxing a little now that he was back on familiar grounds.
"Considering your tendency to rush headlong into dangerous situations, you can hardly blame me."
The two soon fell to bickering. It was such a familiar scene that Shinichi suddenly felt as though he had never left the school dining common, let alone this world. All around them, their fellow students were picking up plates of food from the breakfast buffet and chatting with their friends as they ate. The sun was pouring through the dining hall's many windows, just as clean and bright as it was every morning. And the cup of coffee in Shinichi's hands might as well have been the same cup he had had in the morning the day their freshman year had started or every other day after that.
How could so much have happened yet so little have changed?
"So where is Kuroba anyway?" Heiji asked, turning to Shinichi. "Doesn't he usually eat breakfast with us on Saturdays?"
"I think he's giving us some space," Shinichi said, shrugging. Kaito had left that morning saying something about errands. "He's over at the Dorinya department store right now."
"Really?" Hattori looked confused. "That place is pretty far. He's going to be stuck in traffic for like forever."
"No. He's already there. He…went a different way." Shinichi trailed off. Something wasn't quite right. He played the last few sentences back through his head then stopped and played them over again.
Kaito had told him that he had errands to run, but he hadn't said what kind or where. So how had Shinichi known that Kaito was at the Dorinya department store?
He puzzled over the question as he munched through the rest of his waffles.
"Well, I am glad to see Miss Kazuha in such good spirits after her ordeal," Hakuba said, finally dropping the issue of his having been left out of the loop. "Though I must admit I am surprised."
Heiji shrugged, looking slightly uncomfortable. "Yeah, well, I don't think it really bothered her much. She told me it was an interesting experience."
"That's…good, I suppose."
The Osakan detective snorted. "That's a matter of opinion."
"Incidentally, do you happen to know where she went shopping after she got back?"
"Huh? What're you talking about?"
"Miss Kazuha gave me this when I went to ask her about her experience yesterday." Reaching under the table, Hakuba came up with a paper bag. He turned it over, dumping a fur hat onto the table. "I would like to return this, but I felt it would be rude to say so to her face."
Hattori rolled his eyes. "Just keep it then. It looks like it'd be pretty warm. You can wear it when it snows."
"I would rather not."
"Sheesh. Remind me never to give you a gift. You should be grateful she got you something useful. All she got me was this weird, glowing paperweight. I mean, who uses paperweights these days anyway?"
Without a word, Hakuba reached out and pinched the fur hat on the table. It jumped.
Hattori yelped, jerking back in his seat so hard that his chair tipped back and nearly dumped him on the floor. Fortunately, he caught himself in time to avoid cracking his skull on the dining hall floor.
Shinichi too started in surprise, though he managed not to choke on his waffle. Swallowing, he carefully set his knife and fork down. "Is there something inside it?"
"No," the blonde said flatly. "Or at least not that I could find. This…thing has apparently been made to…respond to tactile stimuli."
Cautious, Shinichi reached out a hand to touch the hat. The fur was disturbingly warm but pleasantly soft. When the thing didn't move, he stroked a finger across its top.
It shivered and made a quiet, purring sound.
Shinichi pulled away quickly, and the sound stopped.
"Is…is it alive?" Hattori half whispered, gawking.
Hakuba snorted. "Don't be ridiculous. It's just somebody's idea of a joke, I'm sure. But as I am certain that I will never wish to wear this…thing, I would like to return it."
"I think I know where she got it," Shinichi said hastily. "I'll take it back." Bracing himself, he reached out and gathered the furry hat into his hands. He could have sworn it shifted in his grasp, curling into a smaller, more compact ball shape. Turning, he unzipped his backpack and placed the fur cap inside. He re-zipped the pack then paused. Did fur hats need to breathe? He unzipped the pack partway then stood up and pulled the backpack straps over his shoulders.
"I still have catch up work to finish. I'll see you guys tomorrow."
The other detectives bid him farewell, and Shinichi hurried out of the dining common.
Back in his dorm room, he set the fur hat on the table and called Kaito.
"Good morning~," the magician sang across the line. "Put on something more formal. I'll be picking you up in an hour."
"I won tickets to the Moonrise Orchestra's afternoon performance," Kaito explained cheerfully. "I've been told even the audience is expected to dress up for their shows. Not sure why, but their reviews have been excellent. And I've made reservations for dinner afterward."
Shinichi opened his mouth then shut it again. He wanted to ask why, but then he realized this was Kaito. Sudden and extravagant gestures were kind of his thing.
Wait. Did that mean they were going on a date?
A blush crept up into the detective's face. A concert then dinner at a (possibly) formal restaurant. Yep. It totally sounded like something out of one of Sonoko's romantic daydreams.
Feeling suddenly nervous for no real reason, Shinichi was broken out of his thoughts by a soft noise.
The sound was like the trilling of a bird except that the trill was full of fur and velvet. Slowly, Shinichi turned around to look at the fur hat on the table.
It was looking back.
There were two round, beady black eyes amidst the fur.
"Oh, isn't that the fur capa Miss Kazuha brought back?"
Shinichi jumped. He hadn't heard Kaito come in—not, he suspected, that the demon had used the door. His gaze remained on the fur ball. "Why didn't you tell her one of her other purchases was alive too? She tried to give it to Hakuba. He thinks it's some kind of joke prop."
"I didn't think I had to point it out because it's harmless. See?" Striding to the desk, Kaito began to pet the soft, furry mound. It began to purr, the sound vibrating through its entire body as it closed its eyes in contentment.
"See? Perfectly harmless. And since they only feed on thermal energies, they're no cost at all to feed. Just keep them warm and they'll be happy and healthy. And they'll keep your head warm while they're at it."
Shinichi sighed. "That's great and all. But can you send it back?"
"Aww, but look at how sad you just made it. I think it wants to stay with you."
And indeed, the fur capa was now looking imploringly up at Shinichi with eyes that he could only describe as puppy eyes. Even its fur, originally a rich, chocolate brown, had dulled into an unhappy gray.
And that was how Shinichi adopted his first pet.
As far as it was possible for a day to be perfect, Kaito reflected, this one had been. Neither the spectacular concert nor the equally incredible dinner could take credit for the success of the day, however. He considered the day a success for the genuine smile it had put on Shinichi's face. Although the detective had told him he was being cheesy when he said as much. Kaito didn't think that was a problem, especially when he had meant every word. Then again, if the faint blush on Shinichi's face was anything to go by, the detective hadn't really minded either.
"I still can't believe the owner of this restaurant is from your world," Shinichi marveled, shaking his head. "Are there a lot of demons who do business here? I thought, from the things you said before, that it was really rare for demons to come to this world for any length of time."
Kaito laughed. "No, your assumptions were right. Most demons who come to your world are on holiday. It's especially popular among the younger crowds. But most don't stay more than a week or two at a time. Then you have the ones that come to study like Dad and me. That usually means staying for a few years. To actually establish a business is pretty abnormal. But old Ryujin went on an eating tour around the human world about four decades ago and just fell in love with the food. He's one of Makai's most famous chefs, you know. And one of Dad's best friends, but that's a different story. Anyway, he decided to open a whole chain of restaurants across both the human world and Makai where he promotes all his favorite foods from every country he visited. Of course, not all the items would fit on one menu, so each restaurant in the chain specializes. This one here focuses on veggie centric dishes. I can show you his master menu sometime if you come with me to his main restaurant back home. It's practically an encyclopedia of fine dining."
"But he cooks here?"
"He rotates around all his venues. His top students run the restaurants when he's not around. He's usually in Makai this time of year, but when I told him about everything that happened, he said I should bring you over here, and he'd whip us up something amazing. He says there's nothing like a good meal for speeding up recovery."
"Oh." Shinichi looked down. He wasn't used to being doted on. His parents had basically run off the moment he could fend for himself. So being fussed over always made him feel a bit embarrassed, even if he was touched too. "Well, the food was amazing."
Kaito grinned. "Be sure to tell him that before we leave."
The two of them fell quiet then, looking out through the massive window of their private room in the restaurant that occupied the top floor of the Dorinya department store. Through the spotless glass, they could see the entire city spread out below them in a sea of glittering, shifting, blinking lights. It was as though they were standing over a sea of stars and galaxies vying to outdo the sky above.
"Your world is beautiful, you know."
Shinichi smiled a little. "It's kind of funny that you should say that."
"I mean it."
"I know you do. But your world… It's everything this world could have been."
"That's an interesting way to put it."
"It's like you said back then. We can't see the stars properly anymore. Sometimes, I think we humans are too in love with our own ingenuity. It makes it far too easy to lose sight of what we have—what we're losing."
"There's always a pro and a con to everything," Kaito conceded. "It's all about balance. But that's what makes life interesting."
Shinichi swirled the coffee slowly around in its delicate, porcelain cup. A balancing act. That was exactly how it felt, sitting here and thinking of the two worlds he had come to know—the familiar one that was home and the vivid, fantastical world where Kaito had been born.
"What are you thinking about?"
Shinichi glanced at Kaito before turning his gaze back to the glittering cityscape. "You…said something once about going back with you to your world when we graduate."
"I…I don't know if I can," Shinichi admitted. He paused, searching for the words he wanted. He'd never been good at talking about his feelings, but he owed it to Kaito to try. "Your world is amazing. I would love the chance to explore more of it when there's no one trying to hurt us. But it's so—different. There'd be so much I didn't understand and vice versa."
"We can learn."
"I know, but… I'm a detective. I wouldn't know what to do with myself there, and I know I'd go crazy with nothing to do. I'm sure you can relate to that."
Kaito didn't answer immediately. Instead, he picked up his cup of hot chocolate with extra cream and chocolate chips on top and sipped at it as he gazed out at the beauty that was the city after dark.
"I'm not asking you to give up everything you have here," he said finally. "I want you to come to my world, but I don't want to take you from yours. There's no reason we can't have both. Or at least I don't think so. We just have to figure out how to make this work. Like I could set up a permanent portal for you. Then you can come and go on your own whenever you want to."
"Is that possible?"
"It's never been done," Kaito admitted. "But I'm sure we could figure it out. Really though, it's not like we have to decide how we're going to arrange everything right this instant. We still have to finish university. In the meantime, I can teach you more about my world, and you can teach me more about yours."
Shinichi nodded slowly. He couldn't help but be touched by the way Kaito spoke of the future as something they would be facing together one way or another. And the magician was right. There was always time to learn. Making decisions based on incomplete information was inadvisable anyway. And, well, no one could predict what might change in the future. For now, it was enough that they were here. Together.
The last of the knot of apprehension that had been coiled in his stomach loosened.
The detective buried his nose in his cup to hide his blush. He'd never thought of himself as sentimental before, but he couldn't help it. It was the atmosphere.
On the other side of the table, Kaito smiled.
A waitress arrived with the last course of the day, which happened to be Kaito's favorite. Dessert. Any further serious conversation was, therefore, postponed for the time being in favor of the restaurant's award winning chocolate and blueberry cake.
"Well, I guess that's that," Kaito remarked as the two of them stood on the building's roof. He had one arm wrapped loosely about Shinichi's waist as the two of them looked up at the moon. "Classes start again tomorrow."
"Well, actually, they never stopped," Shinichi pointed out, leaning into the magician's embrace. "We just didn't go."
Kaito waved his free hand dismissively. "Details, details. Anyway, we have two options now. I can portal us back to our room, or we can fly. Preference?"
Shinichi considered the question for a long moment. But he found himself strangely loathed to go home just yet. "Would you mind if we stayed here a little longer?"
Kaito smiled. Turning, he caught Shinichi's chin and gently but firmly tilted the detective's face up. The kiss was soft and full of promises—of the memories that they would always hold precious and of the things that they loved because the other loved it too.
"We'll stay as long as you want," he murmured as he drew back, reveling in Shinichi's blush. "We have all the time in the world."
A.N: And there it is! I know there are a few loose ends, so I may write an epilogue or short sequel sometime, but, for now, this is done. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the story. See ya! :)