Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan/Case Closed.

Pairing: KaitoxShinichi

Rating: M

Genre: Romance/Supernatural


Moonlit Crossroads

Part 4

The evolution of their relationship led inevitably to other changes in their lives, the most major of which had to do with their friends and relatives—or rather Shinichi's friends and relatives. Kaito had no relatives, and though he had friends, few of them had known much about his personal life to begin with.

The majority of Shinichi's friends were thunderstruck—not by the fact that Shinichi now had a boyfriend but by the fact that Shinichi had actually gotten into any kind of romantic relationship at all. They all knew for a fact that the blue-eyed detective, for all his incredible deductive skills, was incredibly dense when it came to matters of romance. And most of his acquaintances had long concluded that he was only interested in mystery-solving anyway.

Suzuki Sonoko's shriek of "What?!" when she heard that he had gotten together with someone could be heard all over the campus of their university. When she heard exactly who the person in question was, she nearly passed out. Then she'd nearly strangled Shinichi, demanding to hear all the details. After all, she said, something spectacular must have happened for a mystery geek who'd never even gone on one date in the first nineteen years of his life to suddenly end up in a romantic relationship with one of the entertainment world's rising stars who, in her opinion, should really be going out with "a beautiful, cultured young maiden like yours truly".

Shinichi concluded that Sonoko had apparently had Kaito somewhere on her most eligible bachelors list, and therefore she was not pleased to learn that her old friend had caught Kaito's eye before she could have her chance. It had taken four milkshakes and a lot of soothing from his other friend, Mouri Ran, to get the girl to calm down.

Then there was Hattori Heiji, a detective from Osaka that Shinichi had met during a case while he was still back in high school. The Osakan had showed up and dragged Shinichi out to lunch one day shortly after being introduced to Kaito and presented Shinichi with a thick folder stuffed full of research information. It turned out he had run a full background check on the magician and, while he hadn't found anything incriminating, he did think it was mighty suspicious how he hadn't been able to find any concrete records of the man's origins. It hadn't been easy convincing him that Kaito was harmless and that he should really drop the issue. Frankly, Shinichi wasn't sure if he had succeeded in getting Hattori to stop his investigation or not.

"You have interesting friends," Kaito mused with a low chuckle after listening to Shinichi grumble about Hattori's overprotective nosiness. The two were sitting together on his couch watching an old movie rerun, though neither was really paying attention at this point. Shinichi was trying to decide whether to go pour himself a fourth cup of coffee while Kaito flipped with great interest through the information that Hattori had unearthed about him. He let out a low whistle. "This Hattori fellow must have been working hard to find all this."

Shinichi winced. "Sorry about him. I did try to tell him not to pry, but, well… He didn't listen."

Kaito laughed. "Don't worry about it. I've had centuries to learn to cover my tracks. In any case, I'm glad."

Shinichi turned to stare at him, eyebrows raised. "Glad?"

"That there are other people looking out for you," the magician replied with all seriousness. "You take too many risks as it is."

"You make it sound like I'm always in trouble," Shinichi huffed, mildly affronted.

"Aren't you?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Let me see. Last week, you got yourself locked in the basement of a building scheduled for demolition. The week before that, you nearly fell to your death rescuing a murderer who tried to commit suicide by jumping off an eighth floor balcony. Oh, and let's not forget the burning building and the guy who tried to stab you the week before that. Shin-chan, most people go their entire lives without encountering as much trouble as you do in one week."

Shinichi opened his mouth then shut it again. He had to admit—grudgingly—that Kaito might have a (tiny!) point. But in his defense, he didn't go looking for trouble or anything. Trouble just had a tendency of finding him in the course of his daily life. And Kaito was right. He was lucky that he had friends like Hattori (and Kaito himself) looking out for him.

At the same time that that thought filled him with a sense of gratitude, it also made him sad. How long had it been since Kaito had had people looking out for him?

More than anything at that moment, Shinichi wished that he could be there for Kaito forever like Kaito had said he would be there for him. But he knew that that was impossible, and his heart ached with the knowledge.

-0-

Kaito met the elder Kudos during his first Christmas with Shinichi. His parents were pretty much never around, or so Kaito had come to understand, but if there was one thing that would bring them running, it was the idea of throwing a party. A party for all their old friends—and for Shinichi, of course, so that they could meet this Kaito they had heard so much about.

Shinichi had asked and asked and begged his parents to try not to embarrass him, but he knew it would be a lost cause. So Christmas had come along with the Kudo parents, a boatload of their friends whom Shinichi had never met before, and Agasa, Shinichi's neighbor and sometimes confidant.

The event started out successfully enough. The food was good because Shinichi had made sure that his mother ordered out instead of cooking, and he had made sure that there were plenty of books and movies and party games lying around for guests to indulge in at their own leisure. With the guests able to entertain themselves, Shinichi was free to avoid them (well, as much as he was able to with his mother around).

"So this must be the Kaito we've heard so much about," Yukiko gushed as she looked Kaito up and down then giggled like a fourteen year old. "What a handsome young man. So tell me, Kuroba-kun, how did you two meet? Shin-chan won't tell me anything. It really isn't fair. I mean, I am his mother. Mothers deserve to know such things, wouldn't you agree?"

"That's true," Kaito agreed before launching into a dramatic and rather elaborate retelling of his and Shinichi's fateful first meeting—not a word of which was true. Then again, it was unlikely that she would have believed him if he had told her that he had rescued her son from kidnappers when the boy was only six.

The two continued to chatter away. By the end of the conversation, Kaito had thoroughly won over the former actress.

"I'm glad to see my little Shin-chan has such good tastes," she said to a blushing Shinichi as she gave him a crushing hug.

Kudo Yuusaku was slightly more reserved about his son's new friend. He quietly invited the magician to have coffee with him in the library as the party began to wind down. Shinichi watched the two go with a certain amount of anxiety. He'd never been good at reading his father, and he honestly had no idea how the man would react to Kaito. But he decided to take the soft smile his mother threw after the two as a good sign and waited.

He didn't see Kaito again until much later that night after all the guests had left and he was retiring for bed.

"You two were talking for a long time," Shinichi said, curious. "Is everything all right?"

"I think so," the magician replied, looking thoughtful.

"So…what did you talk about?"

"Books mostly. And current events."

Shinichi blinked. "Really?"

"Yep. I was expecting some kind of interrogation, to be honest, but he didn't ask me anything about my background or family life. Though we did spend some time discussing magic."

"Oh…"

"On the bright side, he didn't tell me to leave or anything."

"That's…good."

Chuckling, Kaito turned off the lights, lay down beside Shinichi and pulled the blanket over them both. "Don't worry. I'm sure everything will be fine."

Shinichi certainly hoped so. While his parents weren't around much, he still didn't want to alienate them if he could help it.

"Hey Kaito," he said into the silence.

"Yes?"

"Can you tell me about your parents?"

A soft smile tugged at the corners of the magician's lips, invisible in the darkness. "Well, my father was a stage magician—the best of his time. My mother was…"

-0-

Having spent the majority of their Christmas holidays with the Kudos at their manor, Shinichi was more than ready to flee to Kaito's abode come New Year's Eve for some well deserved peace and quiet away from the peanut gallery. Kaito didn't mind the peanut gallery, especially since their presence made his already easily flustered Shin-chan ten times easier to tease. But he too was beginning to crave some alone time.

So they bid the two elder Kudos goodbye just as they were welcoming in another horde of guests for a New Year's party.

"But why won't you stay for the party?" Yukiko had asked, dismayed. "You can't leave now. You'll miss all the fun! And there are so many people who want to meet you both."

"Mom," Shinichi said, sounding equal parts exasperated and exhausted. "We already told you we'd be spending New Year's at Kaito's."

"But you liked the Christmas party. You told me so."

"It was…better than I thought it would be," the detective admitted. "But Kaito and I already had plants."

"Oh so that's how it is. Well, far be it from me to get in the way of any plans the two of you might have."

The way she pronounced the word "plans" made Shinichi blush bright red.

"Tha—that's not what I meant" he spluttered, but his mother wasn't listening.

She heaved an exaggerated sigh, clasping her hands in front of her bosom. "Oh to be newly in love. Well, go on then. If you're not going to welcome the guests and be a good host, you might as well get yourself out of the way. But make sure you come see us again before we have to head back to America. I won't forgive you if you forget!"

"…Yes, Mom."

The two young men (well, one young man and one immortal) spent a quiet evening having a private dinner for two at a small but classy restaurant whose owner nearly passed out at the sight of them (she was a huge fan of them both. But though she had been prepared to see Kaito, his name being the one on the reservation, she had never expected him to arrive with the Kudo Shinichi in tow). Afterward, they watched the New Year's fireworks from the roof of Kaito's apartment building before they retired indoors for hot chocolate, music, and a game of chess. It was the best New Year's either of them had had in years.

-0-

Quite unexpectedly, a snowstorm blew in early on the second. From the window of Kaito's apartment, the two watched as the entire city below grew steadily paler as every roof and street was covered in a growing layer of snow. Though it was freezing outside, inside, the air was warm. It was as though they were alone in a silent, wintry world.

Shinichi didn't mind the sense of isolation. Their usual lives were so hectic that the storm was providing a welcome respite.

By the time a week had passed with no sign that the storm was going to let up, however, Shinichi noticed Kaito beginning to grow restless. At first he chalked it up to the long confinement. Kaito was a naturally active person. Being trapped indoors for more than a week was bound to make him restless. But gradually, he realized that he was wrong, though it took him a few more days to figure out what it was.

By then, the entire city had been snowed in for nearly two weeks. It was starting to be a real problem. The streets were too clogged up with snow for anyone to go anywhere or do anything, and the daily operations of the city were being threatened. Tokyo didn't typically get so much snow. But while the government and local experts worked on the problem, most of the citizenry made do. Part of that making do involved food rationing.

Kaito had been eating less and less while consuming larger and larger quantities of hot chocolate. It didn't take a genius to figure out what was going on.

"When did you last eat?" he asked bluntly, stepping in front of Kaito when the magician made to leave the kitchen with his seventh mug of hot chocolate that evening. "Properly, I mean."

Seeing the question for what it was, Kaito managed a smile. "I'm fine. Don't worry about it."

The fact that he could see that it was a slightly strained smile only made Shinichi more suspicious.

"Kai," he said slowly, not entirely sure how to say what he wanted to say in a way that Kaito would listen to. "You know that I… I mean, if you need it, I wouldn't mind if…" He gestured vaguely at himself.

Kaito looked pained, but he didn't outright object as Shinichi had half expected him to. Instead, he only said, "I'd rather it didn't come to that. Let's see how things stand in a day or two."

As fate would have it, however, very little changed. The snowstorm continued to howl, drowning the city in white.

Shinichi was standing in the kitchen the following evening, trying to decide what to make for dinner when a pair of arms wrapped around him from behind, pulling him back against Kaito's chest. He could feel the magician's warm breaths ghosting past his right ear, though Kaito didn't say anything. Curious, Shinichi waited a moment before speaking.

"Kaito?"

Silence.

"Is something wrong?"

Kaito sighed. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to take you up on that offer."

Shinichi felt a small twinge of nervousness but nodded, unsurprised. "So, um…" He fidgeted a moment then turned around in Kaito's embrace so that he could look the magician in the face. "What should I do?"

Kaito gave him a lopsided smile. "You don't have to do anything. This won't take very long. I don't need much."

"O—oh."

"It might help to close your eyes," Kaito suggested, leaning down to brush a tender kiss across Shinichi's lips. "I promise it won't hurt."

Shinichi swallowed and did as he'd been told, closing his eyes and trying to relax. He wasn't scared exactly. He knew Kaito wouldn't hurt him. But he'd be lying if he said there wasn't a part of him that found what they were about to do to be strange and more than a little awkward.

Kaito's lips ghosted down his neck, pausing at the junction between his neck and shoulder. Shinichi shivered a little at the sensation. Kaito seemed to be hesitating, and Shinichi realized belatedly that this was probably a first for Kaito too. The magician usually took blood only from people he had hypnotized—people who would never remember having even met him, let alone what happened next. It was quick and easy—completely impersonal.

Done like this, the act of feeding suddenly became a great deal more intimate. A warm blush crept up into Shinichi's face at the thought. Though why this should be embarrassing, he had no idea. After all, they had done much more intimate things then this already. It was probably the sheer weirdness of it.

"I'm ready," he said quietly just in case Kaito was waiting for his permission. He felt the arms around him tense for a fraction of a moment before they relaxed again and a wet tongue tickled the skin of his neck.

He felt two sharp pricks, but there wasn't any pain after that. What he did feel was a slight lightheadedness and a strange warmth that spread like lava through his body as time slowed. If he had been thinking clearly, he would have considered this to be most peculiar. After all, he should be feeling colder, not warmer. But his thoughts had turned fuzzy.

He found himself clinging to Kaito.

Unbeknownst to him, Kaito's mind was spinning into a similar haze.

It was fire and honey—intoxicating. One taste had Kaito's head spinning and his body beginning to thrum. He had experienced a tiny fraction of this sensation the first time he had bitten Shinichi. But this time, the sensation was overwhelmingly more intense. He became keenly aware of the contours of Shinichi's body where the detective was pressed up against him. Their bodies seemed to mold perfectly together. He could feel Shinichi's warmth—almost hear the rhythm of his heart beating.

He had been worried that he would end up making Shinichi uncomfortable around him. But the detective had relaxed completely. And again, he thanked whatever powers there were out there that he had met Shinichi. Even if they didn't have forever, every minute they did have was something he would treasure. He closed his eyes, trying to memorize everything about the young man in his arms from the shape and feel of his body to his scent to the sound of his breathing.

Holding Shinichi even closer, he ran his tongue over the small wounds his teeth had left, causing the bleeding to stop. When the puncture wounds had healed completely, Kaito trailed light kisses up Shinichi's neck and along his jaw before catching his lips in a fierce kiss. A different kind of hunger was burning in him now. It was a burgeoning roar inside his very being, consuming all thought.

Kaito didn't remember making the decision to move. He only knew that one moment he had been standing with Shinichi by the counter, and the next, he had Shinichi pinned to the wall, their mouths sealed together as their tongues danced a heated tango, sending sparks flying down every nerve in his body. The buttons from Shinichi's dress shirt flew across the room, one landing in Shinichi's empty coffee cup. Neither noticed as Kaito attacked Shinichi's exposed chest, his hands and mouth exploring every inch of sensitive skin. He worked his way down his detective's body, delighting in the little gasps and cries his touches were eliciting. He wanted more. In a matter of moments, he had stripped Shinichi of his pants and undergarments and shoved two fingers into the detective's tight heat.

Some distant corner of his mind whispered that he was going too fast, but Shinichi wasn't complaining. Quite the opposite. Shinichi was clutching at him, dragging him closer as he arched his body in a desperate desire to get even closer. The muscles wrapped around Kaito's fingers clenched in eager welcome.

Unable to resist the needy little mewls falling from Shinichi's lips and the eager way the detective's hips were moving, riding the fingers inside him, Kaito shucked his own pants and undergarments, freeing his erection.

Kaito's hands stroked Shinichi's thighs before he moved to lift Shinichi up against the wall so that he could move into position.

The detective's breath hitched as he felt the head of Kaito's length at his entrance. Then it was pressing inside him. He wrapped his legs around Kaito's waist, pushing the magician in deeper.

Shinichi moaned loudly, head lolling back against the wall. His lover's name tumbled from his lips in breathless gasps and cries as he relished in the pleasure of having Kaito inside him, filling him, thrusting and thrusting until the stimulation became too much and he tumbled over the edge of release as Kaito came inside him, filling him with his hot essence.

They sank to the ground together, both panting for breath, still lost in a haze of passion and contentment.

-0-

"You must decide."

Shinichi woke to a dark ceiling and an odd sensation like he had had a really strange but important dream that he had forgotten. He worried at the thought for a moment before dismissing it as a lost cause. Besides, dreams were just dreams. Then he realized that he couldn't hear the wind. For the first time in what felt like forever, there was utter silence outside.

He simply lay there for a long time, listening to the silence outside and the sound of Kaito's quiet breathing, feeling content.

He wasn't sure how long he lay there drifting in a half asleep haze, but he saw the shadows overhead thin as light began to seep through the blinds. He turned over to look towards the window, wincing a little as he suddenly became aware of how sore he was.

Now more awake, he events of the previous night came back to him, and he blushed. He remembered all too well the feel of Kaito's hot mouth on his, that demanding tongue invading his mouth as those skilled hands divested him of both his clothes and his senses.

He couldn't believe they'd done that in the kitchen. The mere thought made his blush darken. They had migrated to the bedroom after that, where they had continued their lovemaking well into the night.

"There will be no turning back."

"I understand."

"Then you have decided?"

He frowned. There was that feeling again. Like he was forgetting something.

"The storm's stopped."

At the sound of Kaito's voice, Shinichi turned around to find the magician watching him with a contented expression. He forgot about that nagging voice in his head then as he smiled.

"Good morning."

-0-

It was as winter was coming to an end that they first realized something was up.

Shinichi had, to Kaito's exasperated annoyance, run across a band of robbers disposing of a body in the woods. He had been in the woods because he, along with Ran, had been invited by Sonoko to join her and several of her teammates from the university tennis team for some fun and training at a mountain retreat for athletes. Sonoko had invited Kaito too, but the magician had had a show scheduled and so had had to pass on the offer. Shinichi had decided to go for a short hike that evening along with several of the other campers, but he had spied suspicious shadows in the woods and, being the incurably curious detective that he was, he had decided to take a peek.

To make a long and all too typically Shinichi story short, the robbers had been caught and their loot recovered along with the body of their victim, but Shinichi had gotten himself shot in the process (although Shinichi would like to point out that it wasn't his fault one of the robbers was crazy enough to take a potshot at the detective responsible for his capture right in front of the police instead of surrendering quietly like his fellows. No one had expected that). Thankfully, it hadn't been a life threatening wound. But it had landed him in the hospital.

Shinichi had just finished giving the police his full account of the events of that day when his hospital room door burst open. He thought for a split second it would be the police back again to check some detail or other with him, but instead it was Kaito.

"You said you'd be more careful!" the magician exclaimed the moment he was inside. "What happened?"

And so Shinichi had to tell the whole story again. When he had finished, he waited with bated breath as Kaito simply sat and stewed over what he'd heard Eventually, the magician sighed.

"Well, there's no point harping on it now, but next time, I expect you to stop and thinking before wandering alone into unpopulated places chasing shadows. If you don't start looking out for yourself, I'm going to have to take drastic measures."

He let Shinichi digest this piece of news before he let his serious face drop and adopted his customary smile. "I'm glad you're all right. So how long are you going to be stuck here?"

"Just one more day."

Kaito frowned. "What? But you were shot in the stomach. That's not the kind of injury that heals in just a few days."

"The doctors said I was recovering unusually quickly," Shinichi admitted, mirroring Kaito's frown. "They were pretty astounded too. Said they couldn't explain it. I guess I got lucky."

Kaito's smile fell. "That's…interesting. Do you feel anything unusual?"

"I don't think so. Why? What're you thinking?"

"How's your appetite been?"

Realizing what Kaito was getting at, Shinichi paled. "It's been normal."

"Oh." Kaito relaxed. "That's all right then."

"So I'm not…" Shinichi waved a hand at Kaito.

The magician shook his head. "It must be something else. Maybe you're right and you were just lucky." Indigo eyes narrowed suddenly as Kaito leveled his partner with a hard look. "Don't test it."

"I wouldn't do that," Shinichi said hastily. "I told you. I don't go looking for trouble. It just finds me."

He was right, of course, which was why it took them only two more weeks to confirm that Shinichi had somehow acquired greater healing abilities. Although this time they had made the discovery in a much less dramatic fashion. Shinichi had simply had several dark bruises that had come then gone in a matter of hours after an encounter with a murder case in a sports equipment store.

"So you got yourself hit by a golf club?"

"You make it sound like I intended it to happen," Shinichi grumbled but nodded. "Takagi-keiji told me to go put some ice on it after the culprit was arrested, so I came home and got some ice. But by then the bruise and the swelling was already gone."

Kaito drummed his fingers on the stage diagrams he had spread out across the dining table. To be entirely honest, he had mixed feelings about this…whatever it was that was going on with Shinichi. On the one hand, it meant that he could worry slightly less about Shinichi's trouble magnet tendencies. But on the other hand, this change had to be supernatural. Process of elimination suggested that that meant it was connected to Kaito somehow. And that made him uneasy. Despite having been cursed for so long, he really wasn't an expert on magic of the real variety. Who knew what terrible things might be lying in wait for them? He had seen too much of the world to believe that there wasn't a catch.

"If you're worried, we could try researching it," Shinichi offered. "You said this all started with that jewel your father was protecting. We could start with that."

"We didn't keep records about it. It was a family mission passed down through word of mouth."

"What about the people who tried to take it from you? They must have found information about it somewhere."

Kaito coughed lightly. "They did. But Dad and I sort of made sure their archives wouldn't be, ah, available to anyone else in the future."

"…"

"We thought it'd be for the best."

"So you don't know anyone who might know more."

Kaito opened his mouth to confirm that thought but paused. "Actually," he said slowly. "I might know someone."

"Great. Then we can start there." Shinichi rose to check on the pot pie in the oven. "Dinner's ready."

-0-

It was the first of April when Shinichi arrived at the restaurant where he was supposed to meet Kaito to find the magician sitting with a pretty, redheaded woman Shinichi had never seen before.

"This is Koizumi Akako," Kaito said. "She's a witch."

And since it was the first of April, Shinichi snorted and rolled his eyes. "Right. I'm sure she is. Sorry about him," he added, turning to the woman. "I'm Kudo Shinichi."

The redhead blinked slowly at him before she smiled. It was an amused little quirk of the lips. "I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. You are a detective, am I correct? I've read about you in the papers."

"I am," he agreed, ignoring the pout Kaito was aiming at him. "If you don't mind me asking, how did Kaito drag you into this?"

"Excuse me," Kaito exclaimed in indignation, his earlier pout morphing into a fierce scowl. But before he could say any more, he was cut off by Akako's laughter. The sound made him stop in mid exclamation and stare because, in all the years since he'd first met her (which was more years than Shinichi had been alive), he had never heard the redhead laugh in such a hearty manner. Akako was more of a little chuckles or wicked cackling kind of person—or at least he was as far as Kaito was concerned. Heartfelt laughter just wasn't her thing.

Shinichi was feeling just as confused as Kaito was if not for the same reasons as Akako nodded to him.

"Actually, Kudo-san, I am afraid you are mistaken," she said. "Though I am sure it must be difficult for a detective such as yourself to believe, I am in fact a witch. Kuroba-kun and I met several decades ago, though I am afraid he was not very receptive to my offers of friendship."

She cast Kaito a sidelong look to which the magician rolled his eyes.

Shinichi looked between the two, wondering what those telling looks were supposed to mean. But he supposed he'd never know unless one of the two decided to share. Wait a moment.

"Decades?" he echoed, looking between the two again. Of course he knew Kaito didn't look his age, but this young woman was no different. Neither looked a day over twenty one. And he suddenly found himself wondering just how many more people out there were actually supernatural beings from ages ago? His mind reeled at the possibilities. Just how much about the world he thought he knew was really, well, the way he thought it was? How could he continue to be a good detective if he didn't learn more about all this? Clearly, he had to start studying more. Diversify his knowledge and give some of those impossible things he had once dismissed a second look over just to make sure he was prepared if such things ever cropped up in a case.

"Yoohoo~, Earth to Shin-chan! Is anyone home?"

Coming out of his thoughts to find a hand waving in front of his face, Shinichi blushed and pushed said hand away. "I'm sorry. What was that?"

"I said I asked Miss Witch here to come and see if she knows anything about our little mystery," Kaito drawled, though he sounded amused. "Only it turns out she doesn't know anything either, so it was all pointless."

"Now, now, that is hardly fair" Akako said lightly. "I merely said that this situation is just as new to me as it is to you. However, given some time to observe, I am certain I will know more."

"You mean you're staying?" Kaito asked, not looking at all pleased (which Shinichi thought was rather rude for someone who was usually all polished, gentlemanly manners in public).

But Akako didn't seem the least bit offended. "You know, I expect payment for my services."

"Yeah, yeah. I'll pay for your hotel."

"Aww, I was rather hoping to stay at your place."

"Not even when hell freezes over."

The witch shrugged. "Suit yourself. I expect my own suite."

"Fine. But only for two weeks. If you don't know anything by then I'll assume you can't help us."

"Deal."

Later, when they were back at Kaito's place, Shinichi just had to say, "I think your friends are a lot weirder than mine."

He was rewarded with the most horrified expression he had ever seen on Kaito's face. "Koizumi is not my friend."

"You seem to be very familiar with each other for people who aren't friends."

"That's because she spent thirty years stalking me, trying to make me fall in love with her. She was a real headache for a while. I mean, I'd come home on the second night after moving into a new place to find a half naked witch in my bed. She's the kind of person who's not used to people saying no to her. I think she'd still be haunting me if she hadn't caught me on a bad day the last time she decided to magic herself into my apartment and nearly got herself ki—" Kaito cut himself off abruptly, suddenly looking uncomfortable. "Anyway, we're not really friends, but we do help each other out now and then."

Shinichi opened his mouth then shut it again. He wasn't entirely sure he'd wanted to know all that. He felt at once flabbergasted, embarrassed, and stunned. And maybe a tiny bit jealous too because, even if their relationship was rocky, Kaito and Akako had still known each other for a great deal longer than he and Kaito had been acquainted (and they would continue to know each other long after). And even if Kaito found her to be creepy, obnoxiously pushy and full of herself, he must see something redeemable in the woman if he was still in contact with her after all these years. It made Shinichi feel very young indeed—an outsider to a much greater tale.

But there was nothing he could do about that. Dwelling on it was pointless. It was more important to focus on the now, as he was sure Kaito would say.

That didn't stop him from feeling somewhat conflicted next time he saw the redhead. He had just finished a class presentation and been rewarding himself with a cup of the specialty coffee from that new high-end coffee shop that had only just opened next to campus when Akako invited herself to sit in the seat across from him. She had an air of elegance that made it difficult for him to imagine her being as…brash as Kaito had said she could be. Then again, you only had to look at her to understand how she might have gotten used to getting her way. She was definitely the kind of beauty people fell over themselves to please.

Realizing that didn't make Shinichi any more comfortable around her.

And she was still staring at him. She hadn't even said a word. No hello, no excuse me—not even an announcement that she was here.

Finally, he couldn't stand the silent staring anymore and cleared his throat. "Can I help you?"

"Oh, no." She waved a manicured hand. "I am merely studying your aura."

"…Oh."

"Tell me, have you had any strange dreams lately?"

A chill raced up Shinichi's spine. His entire attention was abruptly focused on the witch in front of him.

"What do you mean?"

"No need to be worried," she assured him, smiling her small, enigmatic smile. "I was simply curious. Our dreams can tell us a lot if we pay attention to them. And not all that we think of as dreams are dreams. The modern age being what it is, there are many times when the supernatural can only reach skeptical minds when they are asleep and their self imposed perceptions of reality blur."

Shinichi looked down at his coffee again, mulling it over. Eventually, he sighed.

"I don't really know."

"I only wish to help. It is what I came to do, after all."

"I…" Shinichi paused. He believed her, though he wasn't sure why. He had always had a knack for telling when people were being sincere though. "Thank you, but I mean it. I've…been having this feeling like I'm forgetting something for a while, but I don't know what it is."

"Do you know when this feeling started?"

He blushed. "U—um, around New Year's."

The knowing look Akako sent him only made him blush harder.

"Well, I do believe I understand what is going on now."

Shinichi's head jerked up. "You do?"

"I will need to speak to Kuroba again to be certain, but it is not so very complicated." Akako rose from her seat, flipping her deep crimson hair back over her shoulder. "I'll see you around then."

And, without bothering to offer whatever explanation she thought she had, she left. Shinichi sank back in his seat. Some people really were just strange.

-0-

"You really do love that boy, don't you?"

Kaito raised an eyebrow at the witch. "I do," he said matter-of-factly. "Don't tell me you called me out just to ask me that."

"Of course not," she sniffed. She waved at a waiter, who hurried over to take her order, nearly dropping his pen and pad when she smiled at him. Once he had gone, she placed her chin on her hand and gazed across the table at Kaito. "You asked me once if I knew why you were cursed."

He sighed. "I remember. And you said you didn't know."

"Indeed," she agreed. "Though I too was curious. I did a little research of my own and came across certain stories about a jewel with the power to save the world."

"The one I broke, yes."

"I believed you were cursed as punishment for your deeds."

Kaito shrugged. There was no point denying it. "It makes sense, doesn't it?"

"It does," she agreed. "But I think you were wrong."

Kaito leaned forward slightly, interested despite himself. "What do you mean?"

"It is merely a theory, but it seems unlikely to me that, if that jewel of yours truly had such great power, that it could be destroyed just like that. Rather, I believe you may have inherited a portion of that power when you destroyed its vessel."

"Inherited?"

"Well, taken responsibility for it may be a more accurate description. According to its legends, the magic in that jewel was always meant to be used by a human."

"Are you telling me that I'm now responsible for dealing with whatever future crisis the jewel's power was meant to deal with?"

"As I said, it is just a theory."

"You wouldn't be proposing it if you weren't reasonably sure," said Kaito.

Akako only smiled. "And so the powers that be made certain that you cut yourself off from all human contact."

"What about Shinichi?"

"I suppose you're being rewarded," Akako said archly.

Kaito blinked, honestly surprised. "What?"

"Heaven is not unkind to those who are true."

Kaito felt a jolt at her words. "Do you mean…" He started then stopped, hardly daring to hope. Was she saying what he thought she was saying? Maybe he was being hypocritical, but he really wished Akako would stop speaking in riddles for once and just be blunt.

Akako's expression softened. "He is the first person you have shared everything with, both the good and the bad. And despite everything, he trusts you. He has accepted everything that you are and given you his heart, knowing full well your differences and your inhuman nature as well as the consequences that may come of them." Ruby eyes grew distant. "You are fortunate. A person like that is a treasure to be cherished."

Indigo eyes grew serious. "I know."

They fell into a pensive silence that was eventually broken by the magician.

"I didn't mean for this to happen."

"But you wished for it."

Kaito grimaced, feeling an unfamiliar pang of guilt because it was true. He had wanted nothing more than to find a way to keep Shinichi with him. But he had never meant to do that to his detective. Forever was a lot longer than most people were capable of comprehending.

"I wouldn't dwell on it," Akako advised, mirth returning to her voice. "Such bonds must be forged from both ends. He made a choice, whether he is aware of it or not."

Kaito made a mental note to talk to Shinichi about all this later.

"Then again," Akako said just as she rose to leave after they had eaten. "Perhaps it is your little detective who is being rewarded. Pure souls are rare these days. More so those who are willing to go out of their way to try and push back the darkness. It seems he too has been given a great burden to bear. Or perhaps it was fate all along that brought the two of you together. Who knows? I can, however, tell you this. You both carry something special. The paths ahead of you both will not be easy."

-0-

Shinichi wasn't particularly surprised to hear about Akako's theories. Nor, Kaito was relieved to find, was he distressed by the suggestion that he might have gained some form of immortality. Although he didn't seem happy about it either, so maybe he simply hadn't fully digested what it all meant.

"Maybe," Shinichi conceded, gazing up at the night sky. The two of them were star gazing from the roof of the hotel where Kaito had just performed as part of the resort's grand opening. Lying side by side on a blanket, Kaito had conjured, they traced the constellations overhead. "But I think it's more that, well, we don't really know one way or the other. It's not like it's something we can test."

"Definitely not," Kaito said emphatically.

"So it's too early to worry about it one way or another too."

Kaito chuckled. "That's unusually philosophical of you. But you're right." His smile faded a little as he reached over to twine his fingers through Shinichi's. "I just don't want you to be upset. I never meant to drag you into my problems."

"I know," Shinichi said softly, giving Kaito's hand a squeeze. "I wouldn't be upset."

Sitting up, Kaito leaned over to look down into Shinichi's face, searching the depths of his sapphire eyes. "Are you sure?"

Shinichi met his gaze steadily. "As sure as I can be under the circumstances."

Kaito was silent for a moment. Then he leaned down to place a gentle, lingering kiss on Shinichi's lips.

"I promise," he whispered. "That I will make sure you never change your mind."

Though his words were barely audible, Shinichi heard every syllable, and he knew he would remember them forever—however long forever turned out to be.

Wrapping his arms around Kaito's neck, he pulled the magician down for a deeper kiss. Kaito was all too happy to comply.

There were still a lot of questions they didn't have answers for. And, if Akako was right, they both had great trials ahead, though when, where, and what those trials would be Kaito doubted even the witch could guess. None of it mattered though. At least not yet. For now, all that mattered was that they were here together. They could figure out the rest when it happened.


-The End-