Shinichi approached the house slowly on full alert and took a few moments to examine the new gate before easing it open and creeping up the front walk. His gaze lingered on the also-new sprinkler nozzles poking out of loose earth and he stepped a little quicker, but he felt no relief upon reaching the front door. His body tense, ready to spring back at a moment’s notice, he poked the (thankfully not new) doorbell. The familiar tone sounded on the other side of the door and Shinichi only jumped a little when it opened.
“Shinichi!” Agasa said. He stepped aside to let him in. “I didn’t think we’d see you tonight.”
Shinichi edged into the house, casting a glance up at the doorjamb and the ceiling of the entryway. “Yeah, well,” he murmured, but he was far too distracted to finish the thought. “How far has he gotten?”
“It was seventy-three percent last time he mentioned it. But it’s all deactivated until the systems are finished. He’s working on the wiring right now.”
Shinichi finally relaxed. “Downstairs then, right?” he asked, smiling, and he headed straight for the door down to the lab.
“Oh, but, Shinichi–” Agasa tried, but Shinichi was already gone. Agasa sighed and went to the kitchen. It was late and he knew Shinichi well enough to know he hadn’t eaten. After all, he’d been working all day.
Shinichi saw Haibara first as he reached the bottom of the stairs. She was sitting on the edge of the exam table, her ankles crossed in front of her and her feet swinging just a little as she looked down at something on the floor, an oddly satisfied smile on her face. Then he saw what she was staring at. Kaito was lying on his side on the tiles with a smattering of tools scattered around him and his head and hands fully immersed in an open wall panel. But what was most interesting was that Kaito was wearing just a thin white tank top and a loose pair of jeans. He was even barefoot, and his shirt rode up as he twisted to get at a particular wire within the wall, exposing a sliver of gleaming muscle. Shinichi breathed out a soft laugh.
“Why is it so warm in here, Haibara?” he said in greeting. He came up behind her and braced his forearms on the table beside where she was sitting.
“Hm,” Haibara hummed lightly. “I guess I didn’t turn the heating off after the cold weather broke.”
“Is that Shinichi?”
Kaito’s voice from within the wall was a little muffled and more than a little distracted.
“Forgot my voice already?” Shinichi said, low and teasing.
For once, Haibara made no comment, even after Kaito shifted a little to pull his head out of the wall and give Shinichi a loaded look and matching smirk. Then he ducked back into the panel again and Shinichi glanced to Haibara instead.
“You’re looking pleased with yourself,” he said in a sly murmur. “Enjoying the view?”
“I am,” she agreed. “You could join him, you know. Why don’t you ever dress like that?” She looked over at him just to see the blush color his face and heard Kaito snickering wickedly from inside the wall.
“Oh shut up,” Shinichi said, turning away.
There was a click as the door opened at the top of the stairs. “Ai-kun, Kaito-kun,” Agasa called down. “Could you send Shinichi up to eat? And you should call it a night, too.” The door clicked gently closed again without waiting for an answer and Shinichi scoffed, opening his mouth to comment. Haibara beat him to it.
“He knows he’s too soft with you so he leaves you to us.” Her gaze was burning with challenge when she glanced at him again. “Be upstairs in two minutes or less,” she said, and Shinichi didn’t argue. Haibara hopped from the table. “I’ll make sure he’s preparing something decent.”
Shinichi straightened up and moved around the table to stand beside Kaito as Haibara disappeared up the stairs. He nudged him in the ribs with his toe. “Hey, they’re probably right. Let’s head home.”
“Give me… eight minutes,” Kaito replied from inside the wall. “I’ll be right up.”
Shinichi shrugged with a little sound of agreement and headed up to find Haibara scrutinizing a frying pan Agasa had set over low heat on the stove. He was about to join them to see what was in it when he noticed the single plate set out in front of the stool he most often occupied at the kitchen counter.
Haibara glanced back and spotted him, pointing sternly at that seat before nudging Agasa out of the way so she could take over the frying pan.
Shinichi sat down. “What–?”
“It’s nearly eleven,” Haibara said, and Shinichi’s eyes shot down to his watch. “We’ve all eaten. And the professor managed to throw something together that won’t do you more harm than good, so eat.” She turned from the stove and brought the frying pan over to the counter to push a vegetable omelet onto the waiting plate with a pair of chopsticks, folding it over neatly before skewering it mercilessly with both sticks. She looked up at Shinichi, scalding hot frying pan still in hand, and he quickly plucked the chopsticks up and started eating.
“So how’s it going?” he asked between bites. “I assume you’ve been doing more than staring at my boyfriend all day.” He paused, a piece of omelet halfway to his mouth. “Or at least I hope so. Creepy.”
“I have, yes,” Haibara said, unaffected. She gathered the eggshells that had been carelessly left on the counter and wiped the spot down. “I’ve been helping where I can. Consulting, mostly.” She paused, glaring at the dishes piled in the sink that she was finally tall enough to see without a stepstool. “You know Kuroba-kun feeds on attention,” she abruptly added. “But he hasn’t been getting much lately because of how much you’ve been working.”
Shinichi looked up to stare hard at the back of her head as she worked at the sink, trying to see if he could make her feel the look he was giving her as he raised an eyebrow as high as he was physically able. “So you thought you’d help out. Out of the goodness of your heart,” he said, voice dry as paper.
Haibara smirked but kept her back to him. “He doesn’t even have heists to distract him or to fill that need anymore, which is your fault too, by the way. That temporary truce with the police? KID is supposed to hold back as much as they are if he wants to be trusted enough to be able to help.”
“My fault, huh? You don’t have to put it that way. You know it’s the only way he’d be able to help, and he wants to.”
“Yes, of course it is, and of course he does, and you know all this so I wonder… why is it you never make it clear that you appreciate what he’s doing?”
Shinichi opened his mouth again, defensive and ready to refute, but Haibara cut him off.
“Oh, we all know that you do, but you haven’t really said it. Have you.”
“…Did Kaito say something to you?”
“Why would you think that?” Haibara asked innocently, not glancing away from the soapy dishes.
“Okay, I’d say we’re seventy-five percent finished!” Kaito declared as he reached the top of the stairs. “Good a place as any to stop for the night.” He ran a quick hand back and forth through his hair to shake some plaster dust loose and Haibara scowled at him. Shinichi forced himself to focus on the omelet, finishing the last of it quickly and bringing the plate and chopsticks to the sink. Haibara snatched them from him.
“Good then,” she said. “Bed. Both of you.”
Shinichi rolled his eyes and was about to reply when Kaito grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the front door. He vaguely started to wonder if there was a conspiracy against his snark tonight. “Thanks for dinner, professor,” Shinichi called back from the entryway. Kaito had paused long enough to find where Haibara had decided to hide his shoes and socks, but Shinichi had barely gotten his own shoes on before Kaito was dragging him outside.
“See you tomorrow,” he shouted before the door swung shut behind them.
“What’s the hurry?” Shinichi asked, trailing along behind Kaito and trying to keep pace without much zeal.
Kaito didn’t respond until they were inside the Kudou manor with the door shut and locked. “What’s the latest?” he asked. He dropped ungracefully to sit on the floor in the entranceway and pulled off his shoes. Again, Shinichi had barely made it out of his own before Kaito was dragging him up the stairs.
“Just more of the same really,” Shinichi said and he saw Kaito’s shoulders slump a little. “I would have told you right away if something big happened,” he reasoned at him.
“Yeah, but you were so late getting back I thought there must have been something.” Kaito pulled him into the bathroom and started undressing. “Joining me?” he asked.
Shinichi shook his head. “I stopped here to shower before I went to the professor’s.”
Kaito paused, scowling in just his underwear. “So that’s what it was. I thought you weren’t working murder cases for now. Division One agreed–”
“Who said I had a murder case–?” Shinichi tried but Kaito was giving him a look. He sighed. “Sometimes I can’t really help it, Kaito.”
Kaito made a quiet humming sound and shed his underwear. “So nothing big, you said, but update me anyway,” he prompted, turning on the water. “You’re supposed to be the liaison between the police and KID, aren’t you~?” He glanced over his shoulder and winked before ducking into the shower.
Shinichi sat down on one of Yukiko’s vanity stools (why she needed three was still a mystery to him) and leaned back against the counter. “It’s been going well,” he said above the running water. “Hattori has been sort of unofficially helping us pick out businesses that look suspicious, and the forensic accounting team we recruited is really good. At this rate, they’ve gotta be feeling it.”
“So, cutting off funds from money laundering, choking their resources, and weeding out secret Organization members in every field and business while you’re at it.” Kaito summarized. “…You know what comes next.”
“Retaliation,” Shinichi agreed. “It’ll be soon, if it’s coming. There’s been a noticeable decline in new discoveries over the past two weeks. They’re pulling back their vulnerabilities, but there’s no way they’d just give up.”
“Any turncoats yet?” Kaito asked, but the grim undertone said he already knew the answer.
“No,” Shinichi sighed. “Haibara was right. No one is willing to take that risk, no matter what deals or protection we offer them.”
“Okay then.” The water turned off and Kaito stepped out, perfectly comfortable with continuing the conversation while he stood there naked, toweling himself off. Shinichi still looked away half the time, some combination of modesty and temptation making it too bothersome for him not to. “I’ll finish the professor’s security system tomorrow. Then we can start work on one here.”
“You really think you can finish in a day? You said seventy-five percent.” By his math, that would be at least another week.
“Well…” Kaito said in the drawn out way that told Shinichi he might have been exaggerating. Shinichi still wasn’t sure which part the exaggeration applied to though. “I’m sure I can do it if I try,” he finished with a grin. He tucked the towel around his waist (mostly for Shinichi’s benefit) and headed for Shinichi’s room.
“Kaito,” Shinichi scolded, trailing after him. “Don’t rush it. We want this done right. It needs to be something we can rely on.”
Kaito scoffed. “What do you take me for? …Make it three days. How’s that?”
Shinichi eyed him suspiciously. Kaito promptly removed the towel and grinned when Shinichi looked away again just on reflex.
“I’m sure,” Kaito said. The whole process had been, after all, much quicker and easier than he’d expected, what with Agasa right there coming up with odd things like his miniaturized, silent dynamite (that Kaito was thrilled to find exploded in rainbows as a leftover aspect of Agasa’s old project for the city). It had removed the need to jackhammer through any inconvenient walls or layers of earth, and had considerably expanded the working hours he could get away with and still keep the whole project relatively secret. He pulled on a pair of Shinichi’s pajama pants.
“Hey, do you know what’s up with Haibara lately?” Shinichi asked through the shirt he had partway over his head. He tugged it the rest of the way off, considered it for a moment, then dropped it on the floor. Kaito smiled a little. He definitely knew where this night was going.
“You mean the overly mothering tendencies and the prying into personal matters thing? Or do you mean the hats.”
“Yes! She– Hats?”
Kaito nodded solemnly and dropped onto Shinichi’s bed without bothering to put a shirt on, folding his hands behind his head and staring up at the ceiling. “She wears hats a lot more now when she has to leave the house. At eleven or twelve years old, she’s looking more and more like Miyano Shiho every day. The fussing and prying points to it, too. She’s nervous. I thought she’d feel better by now – it’s been half a year already since the whole Pyrrha’s Stone thing – but it’s like it’s only getting worse. Guess I can’t blame her. I’m sure she knows what’s coming as much as we do.”
Shinichi sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. “So you want to finish the security system as soon as possible.” Sooner than possible, actually. Idiot.
“Of course! It’s not like I have anything better to do.”
Shinichi cast a quick glance down at him but Kaito’s eyes were closed. “Hey…” he started and he knew his voice had taken a weird turn because Kaito’s eyes opened immediately, staring up at him, wide and curious. He felt caught. …Do I really never say it? he thought with some consternation. “You know I… Uh…”
Kaito smirked. “Love me? Think I’m amazing? Make allowances in your steadfast morals to accommodate my devious ways?”
Forget this. Shinichi shifted over suddenly, straddling Kaito and pinning him down with a rough kiss. Kaito laughed breathlessly when Shinichi eventually released his lips to kiss along the side of his jaw instead, his hands roaming Kaito’s skin, tracing muscle.
“I get the feeling this is some kind of breakdown of communication?” Kaito ventured. He felt Shinichi shake his head where it was now tucked under Kaito’s chin as he brushed kisses down his neck.
“No, I think I’m making myself perfectly clear.”
“Don’t know why I always thought you’d be good with words–” Kaito started to say, but he had to stop, taking in a few stunted little breaths as Shinichi shifted again to push his knee between Kaito’s legs.
“There’s only one word I want to hear right now,” Shinichi murmured, his fingers flexing with purpose.
“Yes?” Kaito guessed. Shinichi looked up to smirk at him. “Yes,” Kaito revised, grinning, and Shinichi kissed him, shifting once more to move his hips against Kaito’s just to hear his voice cave with another wordless approval.
“I love you,” Shinichi breathed.
“Shh…” Kaito’s hand came up, fingers clenching into Shinichi’s hair to pull him down into another deep kiss, and one leg curled around Shinichi’s to keep his body close. He could feel Shinichi’s chest moving against his own as his breath ran short, but he didn’t let him go – not until they were both panting, their breath mingling hot on each other’s skin.
“You’ve definitely made yourself clear, Shinichi,” Kaito whispered. “Don’t ever worry about that. Now…” He inched down a little under him and latched onto his neck, drawing out a quiet, appreciative moan, and took advantage of Shinichi’s distraction to turn him, switching their positions. Shinichi barely acknowledged it until Kaito finally drew back, smirking at the wet pink mark near Shinichi’s collar bone.
Once he got his brain back in order, Shinichi glanced a question up at Kaito.
“You’ve been working so much, Shinichi,” Kaito murmured in answer. “Let me take care of you tonight, okay?”
“Heh. You trying to say you’ve just been sitting around while I’ve been with the Organization task force?”
“It’s different, though. What you have to do.” It’s dangerous. He drew his fingers through Shinichi’s hair and down the side of his face then leaned over him again, nuzzling against his cheek.
Shinichi’s arms circled around him and he turned his head to catch Kaito’s lips. Slowly, taking his time, he worked them open and let Kaito dip his tongue into his mouth.
Kaito felt a shiver run through him at the unrestrained moan Shinichi let out. “Nn… Is that a yes… Shinichi?” Kaito breathed.
The response was quicker than Kaito had been expecting. He pulled back just enough to smirk down at him. “Good. Then I’ll get to work~”
Shinichi woke to the smell of chocolate. Confused, he sat up and immediately noted that he was alone.
That makes a little more sense, at least, he thought. Though it’s not exactly comforting.
He got out of bed and left the guestroom he and Kaito had moved to. When he stopped by his bedroom to collect the sheets off of his bed he discovered that Kaito was a step ahead of him. The bed was already bare and he could hear the dryer running as he made it to the bottom of the stairs.
He found Kaito in the kitchen, poking at one of the cupcakes in the metal pan on the stove. Shinichi glanced around and spotted another dozen sitting off to the side, as well as a large bowl soaking in the sink. More importantly, he could smell coffee now, and the pot was full and hot.
“Tell me you didn’t make these from scratch,” he said sleepily, drawn to the coffee pot like a magnet. He filled a mug and held it close, watching Kaito gently prod one of the cakes free of the pan.
“Box mix,” he answered. “It just sort of… happened.”
“Good.” Shinichi picked the cupcake out of Kaito’s hand and went to the table, peeling off the paper. The cake was still warm and he pulled a piece off, popping it into his mouth.
“Hey– But– Frosting!” Kaito whined. Shinichi ate another frostingless piece with a smug smile and glanced over at the clock on the microwave.
“Kaito… You can’t have gotten much sleep.”
Kaito made a soft sound and started moving the other cupcakes out of the pan. “I guess there’s just a lot on my mind lately.”
“…Have you decided about school?” He was hesitant to ask only because he already knew the answer. Shinichi and Kaito had both dropped all of their classes after Shinichi’s near miss with Snake that had led to their fake Pandora plan. But, while Shinichi had finally picked his schooling back up again, Kaito was still hesitating. He’d quit his job at the mechanic’s to have more time for designing and building the security system but not, it seemed, for school.
“Anyway, I was thinking,” Kaito said, his back to Shinichi and his focus on the cupcakes. “You haven’t had a day off in a while and I don’t want you to spend it helping me with the security system so–”
“Kaito, that’s stupid,” Shinichi sighed. Changing the subject was answer enough, and he didn’t intend to push him about it. “Neither of us will be able to relax until it’s finished, and I want to help. Let’s head over as soon as you’re done here. It’ll go twice as fast with both of us working on it. Or, if you want, I can work on it today and you can get some sleep instead.”
“Yeah right,” Kaito laughed. “Fine. The cupcakes should be cool by the time the sheets are done. We can take some over to the professor’s house once they’re frosted. Like cupcakes should be.”
“…Haibara’s gonna kill you.”
“Kaito, what are you doing?”
Shinichi was standing at the foot of his bed, attempting to tug a corner of the fitted sheet over the mattress. Kaito, who was supposed to be handling the opposite side, was just standing next to the bed, staring at something Shinichi couldn’t see.
“You don’t keep this with you anymore,” he said.
Kaito turned and Shinichi saw the drawer of the bedside table standing open, and a phone in Kaito’s hand. A soccer ball charm swung from one corner.
“Oh. Yeah. I should probably get rid of that. It would be pretty suspicious if someone saw that I had it.”
“Do the kids still call?” Kaito asked, setting the phone back into the drawer with the bookmark he’d picked up from the floor and pushing it closed.
“Every once in a while. Usually when they’re stuck on something they’re trying to figure out.”
“But you don’t answer anymore.”
Shinichi shook his head and went back to tugging at the sheet. Kaito took hold of his side again and pulled it into place. “I don’t want them depending on me like that anymore. They’ve learned a lot; they can handle things on their own now. And besides, they’re kids. It’s natural for them to move past a childhood friend who moved away. They’re making more and more friends now and picking up other interests. They don’t need Conan anymore.”
They don’t, or you don’t? “Are you a little disappointed?” Kaito asked with a small smile.
Shinichi shook his head. “No, I’m glad. It means I can move on, too. And, well, they still call me when they get in over their heads.” He was smiling too, and Kaito felt something warm and unfamiliar settle inside him.
Heh. Despite his parents, Shinichi might actually make a good dad someday.
Kaito’s hands froze on the sheet, a blush heating his face as he realized what he’d just thought.
It didn’t go unnoticed.
“Hey, what are you thinking about over there?” Shinichi asked, smug.
“Uh huh.” Shinichi finished smoothing the sheet into place then walked around the bed to come up behind Kaito. His arms slipped around him, drawing him back against Shinichi’s chest, and a slow, warm kiss brushed his neck. Kaito relaxed into his hold.
It’s too soon to be thinking about that, he told himself. Too soon for that, but… He smiled and his hands moved to cover Shinichi’s. “I love you,” he murmured, and he felt Shinichi nuzzle a kiss into his hair.
“Love you, too.”
That’s more than enough, for now.
“You’re asking for trouble, picking the detective first.”
“Who else would we do first?”
Gin turned to look at Vermouth as he settled his trench coat onto his shoulders. “We don’t have any more leads on KID than we do on Sherry. The detective is the one who could lead us to both.”
“What makes you think Kudou knows anything about Sherry?”
He decided not to answer. With as much as he was sure Vermouth was keeping from him, she didn’t need to know what he’d worked out about the mysterious (and likely disguised) voice he’d heard on the roof of the Haido City Hotel the night he’d almost caught Sherry. The detective who’d somehow survived and had learned the name of their organization’s untraceable poison had to have a connection with her.
“KID will get in the way,” Vermouth pointed out when he remained silent.
For the third time since he’d gotten out of bed, Gin reached for a cigarette and lit it quickly. He took a moment, drawing deeply from it before answering. “Unless you have some mysterious way of finding Kaitou KID when he doesn’t want to be found, we’ll deal with him when and if he causes a problem.”
“He will.” Vermouth smirked up at him from the bed, her hair splayed across the pillows. Before Gin could lose his temper, she added, “But there’s someone we know who talked about KID like she knew something others didn’t. And we know right where to find her.”
Gin looked thoughtful for a second or two before turning to the closet again to lift his hat from the shelf and set it onto his head. “Then you can take care of that.” He went for the door.
“Where are you going?” Vermouth asked.
“Business doesn’t stop just because we have another assignment.”
“A priority assignment,” she reminded him.
Gin didn’t miss a beat. “Then get to work.”
He let the heavy door slam behind him.