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

Pairing: KaitoxShinichi

Chapter Rating: T

Collection Summary: No matter where or what they are, their lives are always entwined. KaiShin stories in fantasy settings.

Chapter Summary: Shinichi is the new detective at the magical crimes division of the police, and Kaito is the demon he's made a contract with to help him on his cases. Their successes are drawing a lot of attention—perhaps too much. Matters are not exactly improved by the arrival of the division's two new recruits or the discovery that someone is stealing souls.


A Demon's Jealousy

[Demon Verse]

Part 9

"You always take too many risks."

Shinichi looked up from where he had been carefully rearranging his bedroom for the upcoming operations. A wave of relief washed through him when he saw Kaito's tall, dark form leaning against the doorframe, indigo eyes dark and intense with words that neither of them knew how to say.

It was Shinichi who broke eye contact first, turning to check the charms that would be helping to sustain his body for hopefully what would turn out to be a short amount of time. Ayumi, a new doctor working with the police, had already helped him set up all the other necessary—and some unnecessary—medical equipment to make sure his body would be well cared for while his soul was away.

It was strange seeing all that equipment in his room. He could sense Kaito's disapproval of it all, these machines that knew nothing of magic or souls or the hearts of things and the bonds of fate and time and wishes and dreams.

For a moment, Kaito felt as though they were all of them made of glass—that the entire world was made of glass: delicate, fragile, beautiful but ready to shatter in just an instant. And, in that moment, he knew again the feeling of fear.

Shinichi had taught him to love. But because Shinichi had taught him to love, Shinichi had also taught him to fear. For before he had learned to love Shinichi, he had never had anything to be afraid of. It was only because he loved Shinichi that he felt fear now—the only true fear that a demon could feel, he thought. The fear that the one thing—the one soul—who mattered more to him than anything else in the world combined might once again be lost.

Of course, he had witnessed Shinichi's death before in previous lifetimes. It was inevitable, and he knew it—had always known it. Shinichi was, after all, mortal. But the knowledge didn't make the event any easier to bear each time it came. Nor did repetition lessen the pain. If anything, saying goodbye grew more difficult with every parting even when those partings were peaceful. When they weren't…

Old memories flashed through the demon's mind—memories of a battered body and empty, lifeless blue eyes, and he shuddered. With an effort, he forced those sickening images back into the darkest recesses of his mind even as he renewed his vow to himself for the umpteenth time since that dreadful day that he would never, ever allow something like that to happen to his beloved again in any life, now or later.

"Kaito?" Shinichi asked, voice soft and a little hesitant. For a moment there, he had seen something fierce and dark in Kaito's eyes. He had seen that look before, though rarely, and it always worried him. It only concerned him more that Kaito would never tell him what he was thinking about when those moods came upon him.

Shinichi never felt so far away from Kaito as he did in those moments, and it hurt in a way he couldn't put into words. He hated that he was putting that look on Kaito's face now.

Indigo eyes focused on him at the sound of his voice, and that shadow that had piqued his concern vanished to be replaced by a steely disapproval that, while not exactly encouraging, was at least something Shinichi knew he could talk to.

First though, he turned to Ayumi, noticing the interest with which the young nurse was looking between him and Kaito. Shinichi heaved a mental sigh. He suspected there was going to be a lot of gossip about today's adventure once it was over.

Shinichi had no idea when his and Kaito's relationship had become such a topic of interest to the rest of the department and all the people they worked with on a regular basis. It just seemed as though he'd turned around one day and everyone knew, well, not everything, but way more than they should. And they were always asking questions and making remarks, most of which Shinichi neither understood nor had any desire to understand. Seriously, some people needed to go find themselves some hobbies.

But that was neither here nor there.

"Miss Ayumi," he said politely, pretending that he didn't notice when the girl jumped and turned pink.

"What is it?" she asked quickly, smiling through her blush as her large eyes shone with the eagerness to help. "Is there something else you need me to do for you? An IV drip maybe? I know you said this shouldn't take long enough for you to need one, but it might be prudent to have one ready just in case."

"Thank you for your concern, but no. That really shouldn't be necessary," Shinichi said hastily. "I was just wondering if you could go tell the officers securing the apartment building that we'll be ready to start in half an hour. They should finish up what they're doing and be ready to leave the moment Kaito gives them a direction. If any of them ask, tell them that I have already spoken to Inspector Megure, and he's given me complete authority over this case. And I am extending that authority to Kaito for however long I will be out once I put that cursed necklace on."

The girl nodded enthusiastically. "So basically I should tell everyone that Mister Kaito is in charge from the moment you fall asleep to the moment you wake up again, and they should do everything he says."

Shinichi had to laugh at that. "That's exactly it. Can you do that?"

"Of course. I'll go tell them right now. Then I'll be back to monitor your condition," she added, bowing to him before turning to Kaito, where her expression suddenly became knowing and rather soft. "I promise nothing will happen to Detective Shinichi while I'm here."

The demon looked nonplussed, but he thanked her because he knew that that was what Shinichi would want him to do. Then the girl was bustling out of the room, and, for the first time since they had decided to go through with this plan, he and Shinichi were completely alone.

Shinichi drew in a deep breath to brace himself before he moved to stand in front of Kaito. He had to tilt his head back to be able to look Kaito in the eyes. Indigo met blue and held.

"Nothing I say is going to stop you from going through with this," Kaito stated more than asked, tone deadpan.

Shinichi flinched, but his gaze remained steady. "This is our best chance to save everyone. It might even be our last chance. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't try it."

"But it's dangerous," the demon snapped, hands moving to grip Shinichi's narrow shoulders. "There could be traps. You have no idea what kind of condition the stolen stoles are kept in. Those nuts who wanted the souls probably didn't care if they were all kept in perfect condition. You could end up losing pieces of your memories or worse."

He might have said more, but Shinichi had raised a hand and placed a finger gently over Kaito's lips. There was understanding in his sapphire eyes as he gazed deep into Kaito's indigo orbs. But there was determination too.

And there was faith.

"Nothing like that will happen," Shinichi said, speaking clearly and concisely as his gaze never left Kaito's. "Because you're going to find me. Wherever I end up, you can be there in less time than it would take a human to blink. And you will keep me safe."

"Well, yes, I can," Kaito conceded before his breath left him in a frustrated growl. "And I will. But you better understand that I'm agreeing to this plan against my better judgment. And if anything, and I mean anything, goes wrong, I am going to crush this entire damned city for letting these nutcases get this far."

For dragging his beloved into their stupid, selfish quests for forbidden magic or glory or money or power or whatever it was each of those little men and women in and on this case were really being driven by.

Not sure what to say to that, Shinichi stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Kaito, pulling the demon into a hug that he hoped was reassuring.

"I'm sorry. I never wanted to put you through this," he whispered. "I'll owe you when this is over."

"That you will," Kaito replied, though his tone was soft rather than sarcastic, and the arms he wrapped around Shinichi held him tight like he was never planning to let go again. And, for just this moment, Shinichi allowed himself to just melt into that strong, protective embrace and believe that, as long as they were together, nothing could ever truly go wrong.

"I love you," he whispered, closing his eyes and burying his face against Kaito's shoulder.

"I love you too," the demon murmured back before he pushed Shinichi back just enough so that he could bend his head and capture Shinichi's lips in a deep, lingering kiss that left Shinichi breathless and clinging to him for support.

It was only when they heard the sound of approaching footsteps that Shinichi pulled reluctantly away from his partner's grasp. Kaito let him go just as reluctantly, though he made no further attempts to dissuade Shinichi from going through with his plan.

The door opened to admit the young doctor followed shortly by Hattori, Hakuba, Sera and several other officers who had been chosen for this assignment due to their mastery of a variety of skills including the special, protective magic that would be needed to help transport and restore the stolen souls to their respective owners.

Hattori handed one of the cursed pendants to Shinichi, stole a glance at Kaito's stony, impassive face, then stepped back. "So…yeah, uh, how exactly did you want to get this started?"

Shinichi slipped the necklace on. The pendant hung on his chest, seemingly innocuous.

"From what we've heard, the magic should kick into effect once I fall asleep," he explained, moving to sit on the bed. He reached out absently to give the protective charms and wards he'd set up one last check. "We don't know exactly how the souls are transported, but we can reasonably assume that they are all sent to the same place for safekeeping. Takaharu had no reason to put in the effort it would have taken to create multiple soul-holding locations in different places. So once my soul is taken to the holding place, Kaito will be able to follow the bond that our contract creates between us to where my—and all the other victims'—souls are."

"Sounds straight forward," Sera said. "Will Kaito be able to take us all there?"

"No," Kaito replied before Shinichi could speak. "The guy would have set up numerous magical defenses to guard his prize. I can pop over briefly to see what the setup is like, but I'll have to come straight back if I don't want to trigger anything. But once we know where and how the souls are being kept, the rest is easy. I'll lead, and the rest of you just follow."

Shinichi coughed lightly. "What he means is he'll tell you how to reach the right place then head over to the location in question to begin disarming Takaharu's defenses. By the time you guys reach the area, you should be able to go straight in and find the souls. But remember, souls are delicate. When you do find them, you want to first place them within a protective shield. If you don't know how to do that, you can take one of these Hollow Soul Dolls." He pointed at a half dozen humanoid plushies piled on top of his desk. "Those are temporary soul containers. Just sweep one through a loose soul, and it should integrate. The plush is enchanted to protect the soul from any damage. Once you get to the owner of the soul, you tuck the plush into bed with her, and the soul should naturally migrate home overnight."

"It is certainly a simple plan," Hakuba murmured. "Is there anything we should know about that might make it less simple?"

"Not that I can think of," Shinichi replied. "Figuring out which soul is whose could be a bit of a puzzle, but we can deal with that when we have to. For now, we need those souls back in safe hands as soon as possible. So I had better be getting to bed."

He cracked a lopsided smile at his friends, trying not to sound as nervous as he felt, before he moved to lie down. He had opted to do this in his own bed because he was hoping that the comfort of familiarity would help him sleep. But he had underestimated how distracting it could be to be trying to sleep while your friends and coworkers stared at you, waiting for your soul to disappear.

Fifteen minutes later, Ayumi coughed. "Um, Shinichi-san, would you like a sleeping potion? I do have some strong ones on hand…?"

Shinichi sighed. "Thank you, but no. I don't want to find out if sleeping potions react to these pendants or not. If you want to help, I'd greatly appreciate it if you would all leave the room. It's creepy having you all staring at me. It won't happen any faster if you're watching. Go and make some tea or something. Kaito will let you know when it's time to head out."

With a lot of nervous and uncertain mumbling and the occasional protest, the officers and the doctor were ushered out of Shinichi's bedroom, leaving him lying alone on his bed with a protective demon hovering over him.

Shinichi met and held Kaito's gaze for a long time, taking comfort in the love he saw there. Under that warm, watchful gaze, he suddenly felt more relaxed than he had in a very, very long time.

Blue eyes drifted closed and Shinichi's breaths evened out.

The seconds ticked by.

Kaito waited. His gaze never left Shinichi's still form, but it wasn't his beloved's body he was watching but that inner light—that presence inside the body that made it his Shinichi.

For the first few minutes, it just appeared as though Shinichi had finally settled into an ordinary sleep of the sort that Kaito always wished he had more often. But then, so suddenly that Kaito jerked upright where he sat, that presence—Shinichi's presence—vanished.

Kaito instantly squashed the surge of panic that arose in him at abruptly losing track of his beloved. But such emotions would only hinder him. So he forced all thought to the back of his mind and wrapped himself in an icy calm. And from inside the tranquil void of utter stillness, he could see the world more clearly—see it in the way that only a demon could in all its layers of life and matter and energy and emotion and all the other elements of existence in and beyond the material plane.

And there it was. Like a beacon shining in the chaos.

Indigo eyes snapped open.

With a quick step forward, Kaito was in a graveyard. The Beika Winding Point Cemetery, he noted. And he could feel his quarry.

Before him, a mausoleum of black and white marble stood. In there, he thought. In there was that which belonged to him.

But he had promised Shinichi to do thins as they had planned, so he took another step and appeared beside Hattori, nearly scaring the other officer right out of his dark skin.

"Winding Point Cemetery," was all the demon said. It was all he had to say. Everyone was instantly on the move.

-0-

They arrived at the mausoleum to find its intricate, black and white doors standing wide open. Hattori gestured for his companions to stay close then stepped over the threshold, feeling the tingle of magic sweep over his skin.

At first, all they could see was darkness, and all they could smell was the dry, stale air of a tomb. But as their eyes adjusted, they found that they were standing in a surprisingly large and open chamber filled with…with…

They were like fireflies or fairy lights. Each sphere glimmered with a myriad of colors as it drifted serenely through the silent reaches of this shadow enshrouded space. Each drew the eye, and, though they appeared to be identical from a distance, a closer inspection showed no two to be the same. It lay in the shifting patterns of color in their iridescent hearts, their brightness, their softness and sharpness, the texture of their glow, and even the way they floated.

"Stay where you are," a voice commanded from the darkness.

Everyone froze where they were. Eyes swept the shadows until they found Kaito's familiar figure standing just ahead and to one side of them.

"What's going on?" Hakuba demanded suspiciously.

Kaito rolled his eyes, but, at the moment, he couldn't be bothered with the annoying human. "Just don't move and stay quiet. This last ward is tricky."

Hakuba opened his mouth to ask something else, but Sera slapped a hand over his mouth.

A long, uncomfortable moment followed before there was a faint sound like glass breaking just beyond the threshold of hearing. Thin lines of light streaked through the darkness at the same time, tracing an intricate lattice throughout the chamber. The light vanished as soon as it appeared though.

"There," the demon said with satisfaction. Then Kaito was striding across the chamber floor, making a beeline for one specific fairy light.

"Wait!" Hattori called after him. "What're you doing?"

"This one is mine."

"Yours?" Hattori looked confused for a moment before understanding dawned. "You mean that one's Kudo?"

Kaito didn't bother answering the ridiculously obvious question. Instead, he carefully wrapped a protective spell around the glimmering soul.

"Are you sure though?" Heiji asked, leaning forward for a better look. "I mean, how can you tell?"

Scowling, Kaito shifted so that he was between the dark-skinned detective and his precious charge. "Of course I'm sure." The bigger question in his opinion was how Heiji could possibly fail to recognize Shinichi's pure and gentle light—strong, warm, and crystal clear. There was no doubt at all in Kaito's mind that Shinichi's was the most beautiful soul in the room. Even without the bond of their contract, he would have known which one was Shinichi. Holding the sphere of protective magic and its irreplaceable contents close to his chest, he turned and headed for the door.

"Hey, wait! Where're you going?" Heiji called after him.

"I'm taking Shinichi home."

"Aren't you going to help us?"

"You can do it yourselves. It's easy. Souls want to go back to where they belong. You just need to follow them and make sure they make the journey safely. Or you can use those dolls Shinichi made for you. But then you'll have to figure out who's who on your own."

-0-

He was floating in a vast and empty darkness. As he became aware of this, some part of his mind thought that he should be afraid, but he wasn't. Instead, he felt an eerie calm. It was the kind of calm where even the thoughts were stilled, and so he felt and thought nothing. He simply observed and drifted.

He wasn't sure how much time passed because there was no concept of time in this empty place, except, he realized, that it was not empty at all. There was a depth to the darkness now that had not been there before—or maybe it had been there all along and he simply hadn't noticed it. And in that depth, lights flickered.

The moment he noticed them, they multiplied and brightened, and he was drifting not in an endless void but a sea of shining stars. Their glow was ethereal, but, more than that, they were warm. Looking at them filled him with a sensation he couldn't describe that was somehow soft yet overwhelming, jubilant yet still, painful yet more wonderful than anything in existence all at the same time.

Caught up in the sensations and the beauty all around him, he found his attention focusing on one of the myriad of stars.

There was an image inside its light, he realized, and his consciousness leaned closer—

He was reading under a tree. A rustling caught his attention, and he looked up just in time to see a boy with messy, dark hair emerge from the bushes.

He stared.

The stranger looked up and grinned. "Hey there."

The summer scents and scenery blurred and ran away like wet paint in the rain. Then he was sitting on the top of a grassy hill at night beside the same boy from before only older. The night sky glittered with stars above them, and the moon hung like a disembodied smile.

"Do you see those stars?" the boy beside him asked, pointing.

"The Dancers?" he asked.

"They used to be called the Lovers. Since they part then come together again every year, they were said to be Heaven's reminder to mankind that love can overcome any distance. And couples who had to split up for some reason would each carry a pendant with half the constellation on it in the hopes that it would help ensure that they would eventually meet again."

Then that moment too blurred, and he was back in the star speckled galaxy.

Again, he turned his thoughts to another shining star, and again, he saw that boy—no, he was a man now. He was dressed in a fancy coat and holding out a gloved hand.

"May I have this dance?"

From star to star, he drifted, catching fleeting moments of strange places and people, and each moment was utterly alien yet achingly familiar all at once.

Then, just as abruptly as all the stars had come, they were gone.

Blue eyes flew open as Shinichi woke with a gasp.

Kaito was instantly by his side. Seeing the way his beloved hunched over and hearing the gagging sound he was making, Kaito conjured a wastebasket just in time and held Shinichi as he emptied his stomach into it. Shinichi had had only a light meal before their mission, so there wasn't much in his stomach, but everything that had been in there was now in the wastebasket, and his mouth tasted like acid even as his head spun and his stomach heaved again to try and rid itself of contents it didn't have.

He barely registered the glass of water pressed into his hand, though he was thankful to get the sour taste out of his mouth.

It was several long minutes before his mind cleared and focused. Still a little dizzy, he looked around, noting that the sky outside was already dark. He stared blearily at it for a moment, captivated by the stars for a reason he couldn't explain, before he turned to the person holding him. It was Kaito, naturally. Seeing him, Shinichi managed a weary smile.

His smile seemed to ease some of the tension from Kaito's shoulders.

"How do you feel?" he asked softly.

Shinichi opened his mouth to say he was fine, saw the look in the demon's eyes, and thought better of it. "Not very well," he admitted. "I'm getting hot cold flashes. And a bit lightheaded, but nothing worse than a bad cold. It'll pass."

Kaito didn't look entirely convinced, but he didn't argue. Instead, he helped Shinichi settle into a relatively comfortable position against a pile of pillows and vanished. He was back before the detective could blink with a mug of hot soup.

"Drink this," he instructed.

Shinichi made a face. "Can't it wait?"

"No."

Shinichi sighed, but it was halfhearted. He knew Kaito was right. So he took the mug and sipped slowly at the soup. The instant the rich, aromatic liquid hit his stomach, he realized that he was very hungry. The mug was soon empty.

"Do you want more?" asked Kaito.

Shinichi sighed, sinking back into the pillows and closing his eyes. "I should, but I think I need a few minutes."

Kaito nodded and vanished the mug. Then he moved to sit next to Shinichi, sliding an arm protectively around the detective's slim waist. Shinichi leaned into the embrace gratefully.

"So how did it go?" he asked with his eyes closed and head resting on Kaito's shoulder.

"As planned," Kaito replied. "Nothing to it. They're still waiting for all the girls' souls to assimilate back into their bodies, but I don't see anything going wrong there. The girls will need medical care and some serious physical therapy once they wake up though. They were out of it a lot longer than you were."

He didn't have to point out that Shinichi felt awful after a mere few hours. The detective cringed inwardly at the thought.

"It's going to be tough," he murmured, more to himself than to Kaito.

"Probably," the demon agreed. His tone was flippant, but his eyes were serious. "But look at it this way. They're all alive. And, according to the doctors, a full recovery is just a matter of time. Sera came by earlier to check on you and tell us that she's spoken to a few of the girls who've already woken up. They were all more than a little shaken to learn what had happened to them and just how long they've been unconscious, but their minds seem clear. A few mentioned odd dreams, but the doctors don't think that's anything to worry about."

"Dreams," Shinichi echoed, growing thoughtful. The word stirred in him faint echoes of sensations, and he found his eyes going once again to the stars outside the window.

"Did you dream too?" Kaito asked curiously.

"I…I don't know. I think I did, but I can't remember what they were about."

"Nightmares?"

"No!" Shinichi exclaimed. His vehemence caught them both by surprise, and he blushed, burying his face against Kaito's shoulder. "They were…good dreams, I think. They felt more like memories than dreams though. Happy ones. I can't remember what they were actually about, but I do remember that much. They were happy and warm. And I…I think you were in them." He let out a quiet laugh at that and turned his face up to meet Kaito's. "So they had to be good dreams. It's strange though. I've never heard of people dreaming while they're souls were away from their bodies. It could be an interesting field a study."

Kaito quirked an eyebrow at him. "For what purpose?"

"Well, I don't know," Shinichi admitted. "It was just a spur of the moment idea. Hey, you mentioned that people do get reincarnated. Maybe those dreams are the memories of our past lives."

Lost in speculation, he didn't notice the slight stiffening of Kaito's shoulders. But he did notice the shadow that fell over his demon partner's face, and he was forcefully reminded again that Kaito was immortal, and he was not. And it was only natural that any talk of the fragility of human lives couldn't be comforting to his demon.

"I'm sorry," he said, shifting to cuddle more closely against Kaito's side as he looped his arms around the demon's toned body. "I know I caused you a lot of stress with this plan. I didn't mean to, but it was the only way I could think of to do what we had to do."

"I understand that," Kaito said pointedly. "We've been over this before."

He sighed then, and it was a sound that Shinichi had never heard from him before. It was long and weighted down with the true centuries of his existence and the ashes of the dreams he may have once had then lost then found again. That endless cycle to which the immortal demon was bound by the nature of his existence.

It made Shinichi tense even as Kaito shifted so that they now cuddled face to face in a nest of pillows. And the demon's eyes were darker than Shinichi had ever seen them before. Dark and full of distant, alien galaxies that Shinichi couldn't even begin to describe.

"What would you say if I told you that this isn't the first time we have met, you and I?"

Shinichi looked up, frowning slightly. "What do you mean? Of course we've met before."

A small smile flickered at the corners of Kaito's lips. "That's not what I meant. Clearly you remember our conversation from when you started looking into this business with the souls. But do you remember asking me if I'd ever recognized a human from one of their previous lives?"

Shinichi's brows furrowed as his still slightly disoriented mind worked to dig up the exact details of the memory. The conversation had been interesting, but the discovery that people really were reincarnated had been merely that at the time—an interesting fact with no bearing on the still very real and present problems of the currently living. Still, he did remember.

"You said you had," he recalled. "Recognized people."

"I did," Kaito agreed. "This is the sixth time we've met."

The meaning of his statement took a moment to sink in. Even when it did, Shinichi found he had no idea how to respond. He opened his mouth then shut it again. He wasn't even sure what to think.

"Do you not believe me?" Kaito asked when it became apparent that his detective was speechless.

Shinichi considered the question carefully. His first reaction had been one of skepticism, but… There were moments—had been moments ever since he'd first met Kaito's eyes—when he would feel this overwhelming sense of déjà vu. It wasn't just the feelings of familiarity though or those moments when he would swear that they had done something before when they clearly hadn't. It was also that he had on more than one occasion found himself knowing without a doubt that Kaito would like a particular pastry he saw in a bakery window even though it was a new product and the demon had never mentioned wanting to eat something like it. Or there was that time they had been out on a lunch date, and Shinichi had known instantly for no reason he could think of that it would be better to steer Kaito past the café they had originally picked out to eat at when he spotted a stranger with blond hair through the window. Shinichi had never seen the man before—he still had no idea who that man might have been. It was just that, at that moment, he had known that it would be better for everyone if Kaito didn't notice the stranger in the window.

More solidly, there was the evidence of Kaito himself—his behaviors and his knowledge. He had known Shinichi liked lemon pies and coffee from the very beginning. He always seemed to know what Shinichi would like, whether it was food or music or the way he would want to spend a moment away. He knew when Shinichi was feeling overwhelmed and when and how to offer comfort—sometimes he knew these things even better than Shinichi did himself. The detective used to think Kaito was just good at reading and anticipating people, but, while the demon was indeed good at those things, what he could read of other people was what you would expect from an observant person who paid attention. What he could read about Shinichi was on an entirely different level altogether.

Closing his eyes, Shinichi thought back.

So many moments… So many little oddities

Kaito knew him the way only people who had known each other intimately for a long time could—and had done so from the very beginning.

This…explanation, if you could call it that, would explain a lot even as it brought up a million other questions.

"Shinichi?" Kaito prodded gently when the detective continued to remain silent.

"I don't know what to think," Shinichi admitted, pressing his face against Kaito's chest. "I believe you, but it's hard to wrap my mind around it. It's just—strange to even think about. But I…think I might also be a bit relieved."

Kaito raised an eyebrow at that. "Relieved? Why?"

"It's just that I… I've been worried that… That I'd have to leave you one day because I'm human. I didn't want to think of you being alone after that."

"Is that what's been eating at you?"

Seeing no reason to deny it, Shinichi nodded. "It's been on my mind, but I didn't know how to bring it up."

Kaito nodded slowly. "And now?"

"Like I said. I'm relieved."

"But?"

Shinichi sighed, wishing for a moment that Kaito didn't know him quite so well. "It's not important, really."

"Don't give me that," Kaito said sharply. "Spill."

The detective bit his lip. But, just as Kaito knew he had something on his mind, he knew Kaito wouldn't drop the issue until he answered. So he did the logical thing and gave in.

"It's just that, I mean… You came looking for me."

"Yes?"

"Because we'd met in a—a past life." That really was a weird thing to say, he thought.

"That's right."

"But that means…" Shinichi grimaced, struggling to find the right words. "Well, it means it wasn't—isn't—really me."

Kaito's eyes narrowed. "You think you're just a replacement."

Shinichi flinched. "That's not—it's just…" Unable to put his jumbled thoughts into words, he trailed off.

"Tell me, if Hattori suddenly lost all his memories, would you stop thinking of him as your friend? Would you care for him any less?"

"What? Of course not. But that's different."

"No it isn't." Shifting, Kaito caught Shinichi's chin and tilted his face up so that he had to look the demon in the eyes. "You are you in every way that matters. I'm not here because I'm trying to hang onto something I lost. I am not a fool. And I wouldn't insult you or myself by thinking in such a way. I won't say I don't wish sometimes that you could remember the things I remember, but what matters is what we have now. I love you." He smiled then, eyes warm and full of sincerity and a will for Shinichi to understand. "I love getting to know you and falling in love with you all over again every time I do."

Shinichi blushed, horribly embarrassed by the incredibly sappy declaration but touched too. Unable to think of something to say, he leaned up and pressed a quick kiss to Kaito's lips. "I love you too."

Grinning, Kaito caught his lips in a much deeper kiss that had Shinichi's toes curling in pleasure. "Good. Now get some sleep. You need it."


-End of Chapter-