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Grey.

Early spring that hadn't quite given up to winter, and the most relentless part of the year had descended upon the city.

She moved to New York when autumn was arriving and the bustle was a softer, quieter rush than that of Tokyo. Nearly fifteen years later she'd become a part of it, letting herself relinquish what she had been and turn into someone new. Someone who loathed the dank spring, and lived for bright warm summers.

Fifteen years. Some days she forgot she'd ever come from another place at all.

But that abysmal change from winter to spring made her miss home. Brought back memories of festivals and spring shoots and trips to the mountains. It wasn't the same, and even after a decade she felt conspicuous leaving the throng of the city for the rural countryside just outside the city’s borders.

Sometimes she thought of hopping a plane for home, but travel was always hell when she couldn't be certain a blizzard wouldn't trap her an extra week, and the white collar division of the NYPD wasn't that forgiving.

And some things you could never escape.

Sitting in the 34th story of the office, she looked out at the wet mixture plastering itself against the glass.

"No." She told her chief flatly. "You know as much that I'm compromised. I can consult but you can't send me into this ." She felt her fist tighten at the idea. They wouldn't dare.

"Nakamori you are being ridiculous . This is the first time 1412 has held a heist in the Metropolitan area in over twenty years, and quite likely the first time this specific incarnation of him has. You have more information-"

“Information as the daughter of of the inspector charged with capturing him in Japan, and all of it fifteen years out of date,” she angrily snapped back at him. “Second-hand information, and a bit of first if you account for a high schooler running amok on a crime scene. Even if I could remember what he looked like, or try to assist pinpointing him in a crowd, he will have changed drastically in the last decade. On top of that, I assure you I've done all I can to not think about KID during that time.”

The Chief crossed his arms. “Nakamori you're one of our best detectives.”

“Yes. I detect. I observe. I go in with guns blazing and get you whatever culprit you're looking for, but this isn't a normal crime. This isn't a Matisse that went missing from a frame, or tracking down a lost diamond. You know where it is, you know who's taking it, and frankly it's not my department.”

His hand slammed against the desk just as she was ready to stand up and walk out.

“Wrong.”

You could cut the silence with a knife. There was the soft sound of ice crystals against the pane, and a faint hint of wind through windows not meant to open. For a reckless moment she wondered what it would be like to simply have the ability to push through and fly.

Soaring on a pair of white wings over the city.

Damn.

“Call up Saguru Hakuba if you like. He's with Interpol, and I'm certain he'd be happy to come over and take care of KID for you.” The sleet  outside had turned to a near flurry, and might have been pretty if she'd been warm and in her apartment with a book. She should have taken the day off, then someone else could deal with this mess.

“We have contacted Interpol, obviously, and I am well aware the FBI has their nose in this as well. All well and good, but that doesn't change the fact this is our city and the Mayor has personally-”

She snorted and leaned back in the chair, “Oh, personally did he? What next? Bratton hanging around to tell me what's a forgery or not?”

"You are our best chance Nakamori. We can't risk insulting both the Turkish and Greek embassies with this, which is what will happen if the heist is successful. The show is the premiere event for the Met this season, and every big name in the city will be coming for the unveiling of the new collection. With a matched collection from Istanbul, Athens, and Cyprus in an act of ‘cordiality amongst the arts,’ the political implications are painfully obvious . Some of these gems haven't been shown since they were raided over two hundred year ago."

Like it would matter. She went into white collar crime for a reason, but chose New York over Japan to avoid just this. "I would start coming up with contingency plans if I were you"

"Nakamori!"

She wanted to punch the desk, grab the files, and throw them in her Chief's face. Or maybe storm out and catch a plane anywhere that the words KID and 1412 had never been uttered.

Her eyes flickered to the expression on his face before glancing back out the window. She would jump through every hoop and ladder in a normal situation, but this was different. This was something best left buried, and her own ties to KID too convoluted to make her eager to ever take it up again.

“Listen, you want to know about KID?” She hardened her expression as she turned to face the Chief again, “He's going to steal the gems. He might already have the damn gems for that matter. The only real consolation is that he always returns them. And if, for some reason, this time he doesn't? He'll likely replace it with something equally of value that is also probably indistinguishable from the first.”

“That's not acceptable.”

She could tell he wanted a cigarette and nearly told him to light one. She'd spent years watching her father smoke, and she knew very well the Chief would once he thought the other detectives had left for the day.

“Maybe, but KID always gets his gems. If there was one thing I’ve learned, it's that he will get it one way or another. The bigger problem isn't KID at all. KID is predictable, and furthermore usually tries to minimize damage and injury. You have the the files-”

“Nakamori-”

“Obviously it doesn't always happen that way, but it doesn't change the fact that it's true. KID isn't the problem at his heists, but whoever is chasing KID is. You've read about it, even if most of it is classified, and trust me, it was the first thing I looked into when I joined here.”

The information had been useless; she'd found out more between her father's files and Hakuba. Most of the information she had gleamed was classified once it reached anything of use. Classified and sectioned off by the Federal Bureau. She had a tracker when new data was entered, but usually the files always went straight to the FBI or, occasionally, the CIA. In the last few years the red tape had gotten thicker as her curiosity grew. She'd managed to hack in once, but the data was so well censured she barely gathered anything more than the few things she'd already borrowed from Hakuba.

Frankly, she had been certain when KID inevitably had a heist in the city she'd be taken off due to lack of clearance. The last few years she'd taken comfort in the knowledge her devision wouldn't likely be allowed on the grounds, and she could sit and have a smoke on her car outside while she watched the building blow.

But she had forgotten how territorial her boss could be.

Maybe next time she'd send a note to Chikage-san so she could make sure she was out of the country in time. Somewhere without wifi or cell reception to insure there would be no calling her back in.

The chief was still talking, senselessly; by God the man could be thick headed. “-Regardless, we can handle a group of thugs.”

“Yes, but do you really want to evacuate half of the upper east side due to a possible terrorist attack?”

“Surely you're-”

She scowled and grabbed her iPad off his desk to open up the files. Fine. Fine. t least she'd kept some of her research.

“Look,” she pushed it forward and let the thumbnails pop up: over a hundred different headlines saved and categorized automatically by her program. “In the past five years alone the danger associated with KID heists has magnified ten fold. There have always been incidents, but this is extreme. They began just as I was leaving Japan, and it's only gotten worse.”

She could see the set look on his face, the disbelief, and rolled her eyes, “Sir, it isn't KID behind this. I have more reasons than most to hate him, but his motive is to get in, get out, and put on a show while doing it. This is a disregard for human life that KID doesn't share. The two incidents I was privy to were a well formed organization that seems to have some sort of vendetta against him. They were dangerous, and they had no qualms with high profile attacks. You might have access to their files, but everything I have looked into is sectioned off.”

If only her seventeen year old self could hear her now.

He sighed, flipping through the slideshow, “I'm well aware of the precautions needed. The FBI and Interpol will have a presence on site, and yes, I have been rather thoroughly vetted over the situation concerning the incidents surrounding the heists. That, however, is not our department. Homeland security, the Bureau, Quantico...they can deal with a possible terrorist threat. All I care about is making sure the Arabs don't lose their damn gem.”

“Sir,” she said doing her best not to throw a stapler across a room. Preferably the stapler, her grip on her iPad was becoming precarious.

“Nakamori, I don't give a damn if you know him, love him, hate him, or fucked him. All I want is for you to do the job I hired you for. You're one of the best, you have been since you left the Academy, and that was why we put in for your visa to stay on in the first place. After seven years? I dare say you are, quite frankly, a top operative, and we've had more success from you than I ask most of the rest of my staff in a year. You've seen this 1412 work first hand, and I know you don't want on the case, but you'll do your job just like you have for every other unwanted case that comes our way. Am I clear?”

Her hands fisted in her skirt, “Crystal. Sir.”

“Thank you,” he met her eyes. “Now. Tell me how to go about setting up a trap for a bastard arrogant enough to announce a fucking heist.”

 


 

Dangerous.

The heists had been that since the beginning, but now They'd taken it to a new level. Twice he’d had to defuse bombs discovered at heists, and once by the police. Every night he'd walked away with his cloak full of gunshots, and a near miss to his person. Now they were  turning that fire on civilians.

It was too late to go back, and too soon to end it.

His fingers ran over the university pamphlets.

"Kaito?"

Aoko's voice jarred him from his revere. There was no hope for it, not that he'd intended to go anyway. For a short time he had considered it, for the sake of the degree, but four more years of school was no longer a luxury to be had. He might have the grades, even with his current attendance issues but-

There were other ways to learn showman tricks, and apprenticeships would take him further than any school in Japan could offer. Abroad he would be able to expand his search, and there were programs and conservatories that catered to performers.

It also provided a way to defuse a volatile situation at home.

"Come on Kaito, you must have some thought," she said, prodding him. "Of course with your attendance record I would be surprised if anyone took you at all," she drawled.

"Mmm, what's the point?" He yawned and pointed to the book as it burst into confetti. “It's not like I'd ever take a desk job anyway, and I'm hardly going to go to a program focusing on Kabuki or Noh”

Aoko giggled at that. “Mahh... Kaito I think you'd be good at Kabuki, if you could slow down for more than five minutes. You look enough like an oni.”

He leaned back throwing his hand over his heart, “Ojousan you wound me!”

Idiot.”

He gave Aoko a long look, “Where are you looking? Tokyo U?”

She paused, not meeting his eyes, “I don't know....”

Come one Aoko,” he wheedled, “You must have some idea. You know what I want to do.” He prodded her side, eliciting an annoyed look.

It's obvious isn't it? I want to catch KID,” she said scowling. Seeing Kaito's expression she rolled her eyes, “Or at least something like it. Like Dad, but... maybe something else, yeah? Like the FBI or CIA or Interpol.”

He chuckled, “You've been reading too much manga, Ao-chan.”

She crossed her arms with a feeling of irritation. “Well how is that any sillier than becoming a magician? I've been raised with the force for forever, and I know I don't just want to become another officer-- even if I could with Dad.”

True.”

Except I don't want Dad to interfere, which he might. Or at least it probably would come up eventually-” she said biting her lip. “Even if he didn't try, so.... I don't know.”

Which would solve another problem Kaito had, or rather Kaito and Inspector Nakamori had.

How to keep Aoko safe.

He paused looking at her thoughtfully, “What if you studied abroad?”

What?”

Her expression was incredulous, and it was obvious it hadn't gone through her mind. True, it would kill Kaito and the Inspector, but it would mean she was away from the messes that followed after KID nowadays. If Kaito did leave, he could just make sure to go nowhere near where she decided to study, and it would give him at least four, if not more years with her away. He could just take care not to do any heists while she visiting home- or make sure he was travelling when she did.

It makes sense, yeah? You even listed other organizations- most which are in America. They have some of the best law enforcement training anywhere. You could be sure that there would be no interference from your Dad, and you could study different methods so when you did come back to catch KID you could bring something new to the table.”

He was proud of the idea, and how calm his voice remained as he chirped it off. He'd considered ways to get her out of Tokyo, but this would be even better.

But-” she worried her bottom lip, causing Kaito to fight the distraction it caused. “But it's so far!”

Yeah, but that's what college is about right? Growing up or something like that? See! This is why I'm not going.” He flopped back into the chair and tossed a ball from his sleeve into the air in a simple juggling pattern.

Kaito, you're too smart not to!”

I'm too smart to do so. That's four years I can be working in the business, and trust me, every minute counts with these things.”

She humphed, but he could see her working over the thought in her mind. “He's an international criminal, Aoko. Think of the connections you could bring in.”

Her eyes leveled on Kaito with a suspicious gaze. “I thought you were KID's biggest fan.”

He rubbed the back of his neck. Perhaps too much pushing then. “Yeah, but I'm yours too.”

The blush that ran across her cheeks was a pale rose, and it caused him to smile as he watched her brush back an errant strand of hair.

Idiot.”

Mmmhm. Still.... think on it, yeah? Plus, if I end up studying abroad maybe we'll see each other more, right?”

Unless he had any say about it.

Then he wouldn't see her at all, no matter the consequences.

 


 

“As far as museums go, it has its charms.”

Hakuba looked up at the impassive Joan of Arc staring down above him before moving on. “I still am partial to London’s, but for a nation only a little over 200 years old, you must give them credit. I must say I also enjoy their separate curation processes. There's something about focusing on groups or types rather than time, allowing a person to expand outside their usual purveyances.”

“I suppose.” She was fond of it herself. They stepped down the hall and down the stairs towards the hall of statues, her eyes flickering out to the grey outdoors and the wind beating itself against the glass. “Are you certain you won't stay for the heist?”

Hakuba shook his head. “As much as I would like, I do have another commitment. The current case I am on is too close to finally being closed. If I were to leave now I will have wasted the past ten months, and just as we're closing in. Trust me, I would be here if there was any other way.”

She huffed and stopped to look at a display of fans and boxes in the case they were passing. Small figures of smiling women and men danced and bowed across the paintings. At one time she might have found it romantic, now she just felt a sense of bittersweetness. “I can't imagine two extra days would kill you.”

“In this case it might.” She could feel his eyes studying the back of her head, and she wanted to punch the Interpol agent in the stomach. “I admit, I had considered. I'm rather shocked he's doing a heist here at all, but my supervisor wouldn't hear of it with this other case so close to the end.”

“Mmmm,” she turned back to walk forward.

They kept that way, side by side in companionable silence until they reached the statues. She looked up at Michael defeating the dragon, “Did he reach out to you?”

The silence answered her question.

“Did he at least say why?” She asked finally. “You must have discussed this.” She raised her arms around her motioning to the museum, and towards the signs for the new exhibition hall. “Fifteen years, and the only time he was even on the eastern seaboard was the one trip I was firmly in Japan and still in college. He's had heists all over the world, but anyone would notice he's visibly kept himself away from this city. It's fine now, but I couldn't have gotten into his heists regardless when I was still in school. Of course my Chief won't listen to anything other than I take charge of the whole endeavour.”

“You always knew it was a possibility.”

“Yes but why now!?” She hadn't realized she shouted until she heard the reverberation around her, and several heads turned to stare at the two of them. Her cheeks darkened and Hakuba waved a hand to send the security away that had approached them.

“Aoko,” he said with a sigh, “you know I have my disagreements with him, but I suspect in light of recent events there must be a distinct possibility these are whatever he has been looking for. You know it as well, and once they leave they will be going back under lock and key to their respective owners.”

“Yes, obvious” she said with a scowl. “I just-”

She was surprised when she felt the detective's hand enclose hers,“I know Aoko.”

The grey mist was filling her vision. She couldn't see for the rain outside the windows, her mind thousands of miles away and clouded beyond the crowds and exhibitions.

“Why didn't he call?” She hated how her voice cracked. “Why didn't he warn me? Why didn't he-”

“Aoko, you know the answer to that.”

She pulled away, her eyes drawn to a nearby statue. Cupid and Psyche. She'd seen it a thousand times before and stood there watching it. The angel holding a woman in his grasp, the two of them falling to earth. Cold marble, adoration but with fear on both their faces.

A shiver ran down her spine.

“I miss him, Saguru.”

The detective's expression was odd. For a moment, a fleeting suspicion ran through her mind at the way his eyes flickered from the statue and her.

Something just behind his eyes.

“Be careful Aoko, and remember there are other people who care about you as well.”

She turned away from the tableau.

But did he?

“I know.”


 

 

The heist wasn't suppose to be a dangerous one. Indeed, it was so absurd Hakuba had taken the opportunity to fly back home rather than attend, although he'd been given the choice.

The gem was part of some children's exhibit, and the event it was to be stolen during profited a charity that was funded in large part by the Suzuki family. Kaito knew that his note had simply influxed the attendance, and the gala had become part of the must-go-to event for every moderately wealthy philanthropist in their district of Japan.

Aoko was even planning to go, even after Kaito threw his excuses her way and with Hakuba on a plane to London. In Kaito's case, he'd gone to the extremes of having his mother give him a yelling match in Aoko's presence. He felt it might help make up for his absence, especially when he might have tried to juggle both if he thought there was a chance in hell of it working.

Almost.

He would have rather been at the heist, escorting her around and breaking apart the a-list crowd in attendance. Kaito missed those chances, missed just enjoying her company at functions neither of them had a right to be at.

Instead it ended up giving Aoko an opportunity to stay close to the jewel and the main contention of the force.

Kaito watched her beneath his disguise, through the corner of his eye. While he wasn't fond of her being in the center of the fire, it meant she was more likely to escape if something went wrong. It was what helped send up red flags when she disappeared and then later caught sight of her heading down an empty hallway across the room.

Bathroom. He was about to turn and let her go when he saw her looking at a man in the shadows; a man in a dark suit talking low on a phone- and packing a gun.

It wasn't immediately obvious. It wouldn’t have been noticeable at all had he not patted his chest absently as he murmured something Kaito couldn't quite hear. He hadn't seen her, but there was nowhere for her to hide that he wouldn't see once he left. But Aoko managed to surprise him, enough that it kept Kaito frozen in the corner rather than calling off the heist and getting Aoko out of there. She continued on her way to the bathroom with her phone in her hand and making a loud enough clatter so he saw her. She seemed nearly drunk rather than tipsy, although Kaito knew neither was precisely true. There was no point drawing him out herself, not if he had a gun, and she needed to be able to leave and alert her father of the situation.

He’d do it himself, if he wasn’t so worried at her getting out alive.

He watched the man leave, as Aoko took her time inside. Kaito traced the man’s exit, taking note and considering what it would mean for later, but hoping Aoko managed to get a message in the meanwhile.

Kaito wanted to hit something, and was cursing profusely under his breath. Rule number one: Aoko was not to get involved. Obviously she knew their were other men after KID, men who wanted to kill him, but it was different if she'd seen the men packing guns.

Guns at an event for children.

The gem wasn't even worth that much. It was more a bauble, some named item made famous by a children's book, and worth very little in the market. It was very unlikely to be Pandora at all, and yet the group was becoming brash enough to interfere even here.

It didn't matter. He had a heist to run, and in another five minutes he'd be running late. Reluctantly he left Aoko to set into motion his tricks, hoping that his backup plans would keep anyone from being hurt.

However he hadn't planned for  the explosions.

He'd gotten the gem, but he'd barely unveiled himself when the first blast came.

The second sent the walls crumbling, and screams echoing through the ballrooms as walls fell. The halls had rearranged themselves, and it was then that he saw Aoko step into the main hall-- right where she could no longer reach the side her father was on even if she wanted to, and the other officers too busy gathering and evacuating the children.

He'd managed to hide and secured a vantage point to try and see if there would be any more attacks, but it also gave him a full view of her face. He watched as she considered her exit. She wasn't trapped, and Kaito knew she could go back the way she came, which was devoid of smoke unlike the other exits but-

Kaito let himself fall to the ground behind her just as she turned.

The pink gem glowed in his hand like a type of pale cotton candy. It might have been made from spun sugar, the way that it glistened with gossamer threads. It seemed impossibly small, and completely ignored as she met his eyes in confusion. He tried not to let the horror show on his face, trying a smile instead, and managed to get out “Nakamori-chan we-”

Then the gunshots started.

His eyes were now on her as she stood there in pale lavender, covered in a thick layer of dust. He could see in her eyes staring back at him, that she knew that whatever was happening had nothing to do with the thief and everything to do with the man in black she had seen less than half hour before.

She said something and it was lost in the chaos. His head was spinning, still trying to take in being so close to Aoko when the world was falling to hell around them at his heist. A thousand things more important than being arrested.

Nakamori-chan, you need to get out of here!” He forced his words to carry over the screams, and when she didn't move, his hand reached out to tighten around her wrist and pull her out of the way just as one of the columns fell where they had stood a moment before.

Her breath came quick, and he was forced to drag her along behind him, through the ruins and down the open hall. He felt her struggle against him and finally he turned, pushing her against the wall more roughly than he meant to, “Nakamori-chan, you may hate me all you like later. Arrest me for all I care, but right now I need to get you out of here and I am your best chance.”

My father,” she yelled at him, and he realized she was trembling beneath him.

He didn't have time for this.

Likely where we're headed already. The building is a spiral- there's no way back, and with the fumes and smoke it could go up any moment. We can't risk it.” It was all he could do to keep the regret from his voice.

You could have left already. Why are you helping me?”

He laughed, holding up a scarf for her to cover her face, as he already had one over his, “I am a gentleman thief Nakamori-chan. I would never be as uncouth as to leave a lady when she was in danger, especially the daughter of my favourite inspector.” He tried to reassure her with the slightest squeeze of her hand, and then another pull before they were off again.

They reached a foyer and  could see the entrance filled with light and the sound of Inspector Nakamori’s voice. A wave of relief, exhaustion, and confusion at the horror the night had wrought, as well as his still firm hold of Aoko's hand.

And then he stopped.

She slammed into him, a firm body against his own, but he managed to stay still as she reached out to hold him for support. He felt her freeze, felt her seem to go still against him as if she'd registered something, and he prayed to god it was the familiarity he'd felt in the way he lifted an arm to catch her, and his hand still holding hers, although the gem had disappeared and his card gun replaced it. Indeed, when his fingers unwrapped themselves, they felt bereft at the loss.

Kaitou KID,” came the voice from the shadows. He knew the voice by now, the sound of his hunter that was becoming frequent to every heist.

Children!?” snapped Kaito. “It's not even Pandora. Obviously” he snarled tossing up the pink gem before it disappeared. “What is this?”

This is an opportunity. This is a warning. This is the end,” said the man with a smirk. His eyes flickered as Aoko stood more upright, slightly to the left of Kaito and suddenly she blinked as a light passed over her eyes and a small red dot darted across her chest.

Kaito froze next to her.

Ah, hello little girl! Not as drunk as you made out to be earlier are you? A shame. You see, my friends don't approve of leaving witnesses.”

He shifted in front of her. “Don't.”

Or you'll what? Bring the house down? Why I think you'll find we already did a rather amenable job at that,” he laughed darkly. “It has been some time since my colleague had a proper kill. I dare say KID's lover should be an excellent notch on his list.”

I am not his lover!” Kaito heard the complete hatred behind her voice through the words. A pang shot through him. “I don't even like him, and I hardly would be working with him. I'm-”

She’s not with me,” he cut in, “but you know I prefer to see no one injured. Kill her and you'll have every law enforcement in Japan come down upon your head.”

The man shook his head with another dark laugh, “Tsk tsk, Kiddo-san. We already do.”

The gunshot sliced through the air and Kaito dropped to the ground with Aoko beneath him. He tried not to crush her, but the pain that shot through his chest was agonizing. It was everything he could do to keep breathing even as he pressed her into the debris. His breath was ragged, and he was well aware he was little more than a dead weight, their bodies so close he'd all but wrapped her inside his jacket.

He hoped he wouldn't get blood on her.

He was also surprised to find he was shaking.

There were yells from across the room, and he managed to raise his arm to send a card flying from his gun. He aimed true, the other man's gun falling to the ground just as footsteps and voices pounded into the room. Backup.

Too long in coming.

Nakamori-chan are you alright?” asked Kaito as he managed to pull himself off of her. There was a blossom of red over his left arm, and it hung tightly to his side, although he already saw a faint stain along her dress.

Blood.

You were-”

It's fine Nakamori-chan. A flesh wound.” He had to look around and see if they were still in danger, if it was all just another trap, even as he heard her father's voice from the corridor. Of course the man in black had disappeared in the interim. No proof, and no still no justice. Not that there ever would be. “And there's your father coming, I shall leave you in his competent hands.”

But-”

Be careful Nakamori-chan. These men have no morals and will use any advantage they see fit. It would not do for my favourite inspector's daughter to be injured on the sidelines,” he said, taking her hand to his lips. Her hand was warm, almost overly so. Or had it gotten cold suddenly? His mind was beginning to grow foggy from more than just the dust. How bad was the wound? He managed to stand, but suddenly there was more blood than he had thought. He reached out to touch her dress where the stain he made had spread.

Sorry Nakamori-chan.”

She met his eyes for a moment, possibly trying to think of something to say, but seemed unable to find the words. Maybe torn between yelling at him and thanking him. Or just trying to decide if it was right to arrest a man who was bleeding out over your evening gown.

By the time she opened her mouth to speak, her father had stepped into the room with a yell of “Aoko!” and Kaito gave a low bow, before setting off a smoke bomb to disappear into.

From the rafters he watched as she spun around, a furrow on her brow, before she threw herself at her father.

For now, things would be alright.

As far as things went, it was a small lie.

 


 

They grey relentless downpour hadn't let up, and the forecast showed no signs of abating. Aoko watched the rain and fog splatter onto the window of the cafe she frequented on the upper west side. There was a slow murmur of voices, and half a dozen regulars chatting with the baristas to keep from going out. From the corner of her she watched them ponder over the cakes and cookies that filled the glass case. She watched a little girl reach out to the swirls of marzipan and chocolate, her mother paying as the woman tied up a cake with ribbon and string.

She poured herself another cup of tea from the pot on her table, ignoring the salad, with her thoughts thousands of miles away on a different shore.

Outside, fairy-lights glinted from the trees and lit the windows, adding a romantic quality that almost made the weather worth it.

Aoko was drawn from her reverie by the feel of someone’s gaze on her, and briefly met the eyes of a young man glancing in from the street. Nondescript, nothing particular, no specific nationality evident from under his umbrella and a shock of messy hair.

Blue eyes.

She clenched her cup of tea.

The man who walked in didn't look anything like Kaito, even if you ignored the dark hair pulled into a short pony tail, and the blue eyes that darted only once in her direction. He was taller, thicker, and had a small goatee among other things. His clothes were sleek, but like nothing she could imagine Kaito wearing, and he was several years senior to her by the faint lines and slight touch of grey.

Still, she caught herself staring as the host seated him at the table nearly on top of her own, the two of them sharing the window seats in the quiet corner of the cafe.

Nihon desu-ka?”

She brought her head up to meet his gaze. The blue eyes met hers again, with almost a moment of recognition that was gone as quickly as it came. The Japanese was tinged with an Osakan dialect, though still...

Hai. Ekoda.”

The Japanese fell gracefully off her tongue, the switch no longer taking time as it once had when she first moved. These days she could fall between the two without a second thought, the years of working with both at any given moment coming into play. There were enough tourists and a thriving Japanese population in the city that she rarely went more than a few days without speaking her natural tongue, and Skype had made long distance calls a thing of the past.

He perked up, shifting in his seat and causing her to look over him again. It was unlikely, improbable, even if her apartment was close by, even after he'd come in seeing her in the window, even with the familiar gaze that took in every new customer, every table, every raindrop landing on the sill, and her every glance.

When she reached across the table for pepper, finally touching her neglected salad, the shaker went flying across the way before she could make it. She made to wince, but the crash never came. When she looked it was his hand that flew out to catch it with the ease of a juggler.

Reflexes that nearly collided with hers in midair.

“Sorry,” he said as he set it on the table, the smile of a person caught in an act he knew he shouldn't have any part in frozen on his face.

“No, entirely my fault,” she said, glancing at his face. Her eyes searched for a tell-tale sign, for a hint of something that might give her the answers she was looking for. “Thank you for catching it.”

His hand was so close she could brush her fingers across his wrist. Reach out and look for a pulse, for the callouses, for an unnatural smoothness in his fingertips that might speak tenfold.

What would he do if she invited him to her apartment for something other than tea? Would he follow?

Her eyes flickered to the carefully trimmed beard and moustache. Would she discover it was held on by nothing more than carefully applied glue and adhesive? Was his hair really that long? Would he let it get that long or was it nothing more than a wig, with his own messy locks beneath?

Could she corner him on her sofa? Her window? Her two inches of kitchen as she took him apart and warned him of all the reasons he wasn't supposed to be here?

Was she wrong entirely? Would she find herself with a stranger who happened to share the same eyes as a boy she... that she....

The thought didn't want to come, and she amended her train of thought: who had shared her life when they were hardly more than children.

He was watching her, the carefully cultured ease still there as well as the sharpness. You didn't get to the rank she held without knowing what it took to make someone aware of every individual in a room.

If she wasn't wrong, did he even care? Or was this just 1412 scouting the detective he knew would be in charge of his investigation? He was many things, but never really an idiot. Not about the important things.

He would have been caught long before if that had been the case.

“I should be going,” he said after a moment. He folded up the paper he'd had with him and the familiarity was back in the eyes. There was a whisper of something else, which had her nearly grab his wrist, damn the consequences. “Look, the rain's even letting up.”

Almost true, but there was no break in the clouds and no flash of sunlight. The steady downpour had faded to a heavy mist, and the fairy lights in the window and trees seemed to frame his face through the glass.

“I suppose it is.” She wondered if her cheeks were flushed.

“A pleasure, Detective Nakamori,” he said with a nod and leaving cash tucked into a bill fold before turning for the door. She reached to see how much else she owed, and felt her hand still at the bill that would more than cover their lunch and her several pots she'd been nursing all afternoon.”

It wasn't until she set back into the rain and fog, twinkle lights and lamp lit torrents that poured over the cracks in the sidewalk to splatter against her shoes, only feeling the light dance of droplets on her cheeks, only then did she realize she'd never told him her name.

 


 

Kaito knew he looked like shit.

And Aoko was picking up on it.

It was obvious she knew there had been something off that morning, when he showed up late with a sort of tightness around his eyes that made him look ill. There was a lack of his normal banter, and she couldn’t miss that he was fading in and out of sleep.

It had been three days since the KID heist, and he'd worn her out Monday asking about what had happened and the explosions, and if she'd managed to corner the thief or not. She'd nearly hit him over the head with the mop, but by the end of the day she obviously had noticed something had been off and even offered to stay and clean the classroom by herself.

This morning he looked even worse, if it was even possible, and Kaito seriously wondered if he was dying. His arm at least felt ready to fall off.

He was also aware he couldn't keep up the act from the day before.

By lunch she walked over, clearly seeing the flush to his face and his eyes fixed on his desk. He felt her hand on his forehead, and he tried to pull away as quickly as he could with an irritable scowl.

What Ahou-ko?”

Her eyes narrowed, and he felt himself shrink as she leaned over him. “Bakaito! I think you have a fever.”

Mmmmm...can't miss anymore classes,” he muttered before shifting his head down onto his desk and burying his face in his hands. His skin felt overly warm, but clammy as well. Tight in a way that was uncomfortable and made him want to crawl under his desk. There was a light sheen of sweat on his neck and each breath he took required effort for it to come out.

And what if you have the flu and give it to the rest of us, eh? What kind of selfish motive is that?! I'm telling our teacher and taking you home.”

You absolutely are not.”

I am.”

He groaned and buried his face back in his arms, which, if anything, confirmed her suspicion.

She was packing his things and dragging him home a moment later. He'd tried to protest, but even he had to admit that it was getting near a point he couldn't stand and a trip to the school nurse was out of the question. A glance in a mirror in the hall told him his colour had gone from bad to worse, the pallor almost grey rather than white, and his eyes were glassy.

He blinked twice, trying to make the image clear in his head. Looking back at the hall, it began to spin.

Here, lean on me,” she said reaching out for his left arm.

He jerked away with pain etched across his face. Every nerve in his body was screaming, and he tasted blood as he bit his tongue to keep from screaming out. His arm curled into his side.

He managed, in the fog, to see the suspicion on her face, and he blurted out hoarsely, “C- Can't Aoko. Might make you sick.”

Idiot! If I'm going to get sick I’ve already caught what you have. Don't be so stubborn.”

He shifted and finally amended by handing out his right arm. The pain was still there, anything along his chest hurt, but it felt less like being skinned alive. She rolled her eyes and allowed him to place it around her shoulders.

Kaito realized in short order that without her assistance, he would not have remained standing much longer.

They were mostly silent in the walk, his head hung, and he nearly tripped when they finally reached his gate, by that point the fog of pain and heat too much to handle even for him. Aoko must have felt him sway as she managed to catch him before he fell. “I think-”

Definitely sick,” her lips were tight.

Yeah.”

The door opened and his mother was looking down at them both with a sense of horror. Her face was nearly as pale as his and she pushed past Aoko to feel Kaito's head.

Mom?”

She wasn't suppose to be home, or at least he thought she wasn't. He was having a hard time remembering what day it was.

Idiot son! I knew you shouldn't have gone in today!” Her words had a sense of urgency that made him scowl. If she kept that up Aoko would know something was wrong. Aoko had been there after all and saw him shot. If Aoko knew more she'd be in worse danger, and she couldn't...

I think I'm going to-”

Aoko-chan can you help me get this imbecile that has the nerve to call itself my child upstairs?” Chikage wrapped her arm around the boy's left side, and Aoko lifted up his right arm. Kaito was nearly dead weight, and he wondered at the fact he hadn't passed out entirely. It had gotten even harder to breath.

Maybe he was dying after all.

His bedroom was clean, and Kaito realized his mother must have been more worried than he thought. He felt a sense of gratitude as he slumped into the bed, still on fire but feeling his consciousness leaving him.

Will he be okay?” Aoko's voice sounded far away.

I'm here,” said his mother. “I can manage. You shouldn't tarry in case you get sick as well Aoko-chan. Thank you for your help. I'll make sure Kaito invites you over for dinner as a thank you as soon as he's feeling well again.”

Kaito turned slightly, completely out of it by now, with only enough sense of mind to yell into his pillow rather than outloud. Chikage rushed over, her eyes hooded, and her face impassive. It was the expression Kaito's father had worn when things went wrong.

You should go Aoko.”

If you need anything-”

The woman nodded, but Aoko had been dismissed.

It was Aoko whose eyes fluttered to Kaito's tortured face, and clearly wondered what could possibly be wrong and why he'd bother to come in so sick.

Aoko who now would know something was... off.

He knew in the morning she would call to make sure he was better.

She would yell at him and call him an idiot once he was conscious again.

Not knowing Chikage's mask followed Aoko all the way home.

Kaito too far gone to realize what he'd done.

 


 

She knew she looked good, and the whistles and winks from the other officers made her smirk a little as she stepped into the atrium of the museum. She knew the Chief would have a heart attack when he saw precisely how much she had charged to the business account for the venture, but given her vehemence at not wanting to be there she'd decided to consider it her bonus.

Or a bribe.

Bonus sounded better though.

She saw his eyebrows arch as she approached, pleased with the swishing noise the dress made and the hint of stocking they showed along the prominent slit along the side.

“Nakamori,” his voice held a hint of surprise.

“Not even a tux? Really sir.”

He rolled his eyes, “I'm here to work, not blend in. Can you even run in those heels? And by God woman, where'd you put your gun?”

“Made for comfort, and thus the cost. As for the gun,” she patted her upper thigh which suddenly showed a slight outline.

His look was less than amused. “I didn't realize I'd hired a Bond girl.”

“You didn't. I'm far more competent.”

He laughed, which she trusted was a good sign. Still, she'd blend in and that was the point. Frankly there was a slim possibility he might not recognize her at all considering it had been over a decade. At least that she was aware of.

She had barely recognized herself in the mirror of her apartment as she left, the dark blue silk with sapphires and diamonds around her neck. Her hair piled up gracefully, and makeup professionally done. The idea was that if he did recognize her it would require more work as she slipped amongst the other Japanese delegation and models that had been invited and hired to attend.

Easier to pinpoint among the mixed crowd, but still more difficult to pick out than her usual uniform.

She took a glass of champagne that was being passed around, and her Chief gave her a stern look. She tapped the glass, “Blending in. I'll only have the one anyway. A prop.”

Somewhat true. Frankly she also just needed a drink if she was going to get through the damn night.

“That dress really is...striking...” she noticed the chief was still staring, unsurprising given her usual attire’s practicality.

“Also harder for him to use as a disguise,” she pointed out. “He's good. Possibly the best, but not everything is possible. On the fly it would be hard to do so with this little fabric. I'm not saying impossible but-” she winked causing her superior to slightly choke.

“Enough. I deserved that. How do we know who he disguised as?”

She'd nearly forgotten, distracted by how pleased as she was with his reaction. She highly doubted it, but then she'd been waiting for the moment all day. She stepped forward and reached up to grab his cheek before pulling hard. He let out and curse slapping her hand away and she laughed.

“Well you aren't at least. Obviously we can't do that with every officer, so I made prior arrangements. There is industrial strength make up remover set up at various locations and in small kits that we will hand out-- including a latex remover. An hour or so before the heist, officers will be required to apply it as a precautionary measure.. It's not entirely foolproof, but it should make it far more difficult. At the moment it looks like samples of liquor-- so excluding myself and the vendor it shouldn't be tampered with. We can't have everyone apply it-- but all officers and staff should.”

“And after?”

“I would say repeat a half hour before-- but again not fool proof. Anyone directly in charge of the gem though-- yes. The benefit of course is I am the only Japanese member on staff, and right now it will be rather difficult to disguise himself as me.”

She watched his eyes flicker down to her cleavage and then the flush on his face. “Indeed.”

“Of course,” she said waving a hand, “there's no discerning the guests, but we can do our best. Keeping them out of the main room is the most important, and given the high security detail from other forces it will hardly be on our necks when we've proven to be in full battalion. Enough?”

“When I catch this damn thief.”

For a moment he reminded her of her father and she looked away. “I'd say it would be getting everyone in and out in one piece and retrieval of the jewel. All of which we have contingency plans for. Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy the party. The last time I attended a Gala for KID I wasn't old enough to drink.” She winked and turned to head straight to the bar. “I'll pick you up an Islay.”

She heard him curse as she walked away.

 


 

It was a police knock, and of course his mother was out.

Kaito was still exhausted, although the infection had finally cleared up some after a week of touch and go. It was starting to worm into week two, which hopefully meant the knock was just Aoko. He carefully opened the door, reaffirmed by the package of notes under one arm.

He knew he still looked like hell. His eyes were red rimmed, his skin pale, and he still couldn't hold his arm correctly even when he saw her noticing. His fever had mostly broken, but now it was just an off and on low grade one that left a sheen of sweat slight on his brow, and his hair flat and limp.

Aoko?”

He blinked again trying to clear his head enough to register why she had to choose now to show up.

Kaito what are you doing! You look awful. Where's your mother?”

Out.” He muttered turning around and shifting a blanket that was wrapped around his shoulders. “What are you doing here Ahou-ko? Some of us are trying to rest.” He muttered going back inside to flop on the couch, while Aoko closed the door behind herself.

Trying to make sure you're not dead! You look horrid Kaito. Do you know what's wrong yet?”

Flu-thing. Not contagious anymore,” he managed under his blanket shutting his eyes. He'd shifted so he was more on his back and careful to prop his arm up next to him in a way that might be construed as natural.

She leaned over him and pressed her hand against his head, “You feel like you still have a fever.”

Probably. Did earlier,” he shut his eyes and she frowned reaching for a cloth next to him. Damp but no longer cold. She picked it up, as well as an empty water glass. “Here. I'll get you some more water and ice. Have you eaten at all?”

Too many questions and his head still aching too much to answer.

Mmmm,” he buried his face into the couch.

I'm going to take that as a no,” she took the things and helped herself to the kitchen. She didn't know how long before Chikage-san would be back, but obviously it wasn't doing Kaito well.

She poured some water, and took out ice to refill the cloth for his head. After a moment she started to boil some water for tea as well, and looked through the cabinet and fridge. She could whip up some miso for a broth, something fairly easy for his stomach.

Putting on another pot, she let it start to heat up as she walked back, picking up two pain relievers as well.

Kaito?”

He let out a groan, but cracked open an eye.

Here-” she said holding out the water and medicine. He scowled but took the water, and pills before downing it, slowly drinking, for once without a complaint.

I’m heating up some miso and tea for supper okay? I'll make extra for your Mom if she gets back and wants some.”

Blergh. I'm sick of broth,” he said flopping down as she pressed the cold pack to his forehead.

I'm pretty sure you can't hold anything else down.”

Fighting against it, he found himself drifting off again as she went back to the kitchen. She busied herself with preps, trying not to think about what was wrong with him. He was obviously sick, but it wasn't anything she recognized and why did he seem even worse than he had earlier in the week?

She went to toss the miso package out.

He heard her open the garbage can, and never heard the lid fall.

His mother wouldn’t have forgotten to...

Blood.

Several towels soaked in it, as well as bandages and antiseptic. There was a bottle of antibiotic for infection, made out to Chikage Kuroba, but empty and sitting on top. The gauze stared below her, remnants of tape, and....

He heard Aoko slam a cabinet shut and then a soft, No.”

What excuse could he give? What could he tell her as far as why he would be bleeding? Where had it all come from? Maybe he'd cut himself, trying to do something idiotic while he was too sick. Made it worse. Obvious.

Of course it was obvious.

Aoko would never buy it.

She’d seen how he'd held his arm. About the way he'd shed away when she touched it earlier. Her father was an Inspector of the Police Force, she’d have been drilled on the symptoms of infection before she could walk.

She also had been the only one to see KID leaping out to take a bullet two days before he’d come down sick.

There was silence, and for a moment he thought she may have left. In the end though there was the sound of footsteps, and through half open eyes he watched her bring in a bowl of soup and a pot of tea. Her face was impassive, and he tried instead to focus on keeping his breathing steadier. She was watching him sleep and turned-

His eyes flew open as the pain coursed through his arm, “Fuck!”

He darted awake and his eyes landed on Aoko as she made a soft strangled sound. He knew Aoko had never heard him curse like that, yet she darted forward to help catch him before he fell off the couch.

Aoko?” Why had he let her in at all?

Maybe he was wrong.

Faintly, he prayed his mother had managed to clean all the blood.

So much blood.

It's okay,” she murmured, helping wrap the blanket back around him. He pulled slightly away, and she saw his eyes flick to his shoulder as though looking for something.

Blood? His mind supplied for him. Was the gauze soaking through?

Sorry. I-”

You're sick. It's fine,” she said, reaching out for the miso. “Here. You should eat something; you look like you're wasting away.”

He shifted a little, a mou of pain on his face, but he took the bowl and took a couple spoonfuls.

Thanks,” he finally managed, setting it down and hand shaking slightly from the effort.

It scared him. How sick he was, and the way her eyes flickered back to the shoulder again. She knew, and if she tried he wouldn't be able to hide it. Not when a strong wind could push him over.

The look on her face said everything though, and he wondered which horrified her more: that he might be KID or that he might be trying to take care of a gunshot wound at home.

It wasn't just a graze after all, she'd been there and seen.

I'm fine, Aoko. I am getting better,” he managed to keep his voice firm as he took another spoonful of soup. “Mom should be home soon. You can head back. You already did too much. I hope to be back to school next week sometime.”

Finish dinner first,” she said firmly. “And at least a cup of the tea, and maybe she'll be home by then and I'll go. I brought my homework, and Dad's at the station so it's not like it matters where I do it.”

He saw her eyes watching his hand, watching him as he drank his soup and ignored the scrutiny.

He was ambidextrous, damn if he couldn't use whatever hand he saw fit even if she knew-

She poured herself a cup of tea looking away.

He made a silent prayer, hoping against hope maybe,just maybe, he was wrong and she hadn't noticed but...

When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

Kaito might hate detectives, but damn if it didn’t make it true.


 

She touched her face again, uncertain at the reflection staring back from the other side of the looking glass. I really do look… good.

In fact, the only qualm she had at all was the possibility of it showing the gun strapped to the top of her thigh, but the hint of garters and silk stockings drew the eye away from any misplaced shapes that might appear.

The Chief had been right: she did feel like a character out of a Bond movie, and it was difficult for her lips not to quirk at the idea of it.

Perhaps he won't recognize me at all.

But the idea caused a pang as well. Another part of her wished for the recognition, or the look on his face when he saw her-dressed and presented like an adult rather than a child.

“And he could hardly complain of my shape now,” she said with a laugh, letting her hand run along the curve of her hip. True- she might not be the same as some of the models that had been hired for the event but-

Her head turned as she heard the door shut and lock turn. Impossible, as she'd already locked the door, and she was met by the still figure of KID staring back at her. She might have accused him of following her, if the incredulous look on his face hadn't told another story. He'd thought the room was empty, or in the very least hadn't expected to find her inside.

Her hand was on her gun a moment later, just as she saw him draw his. He was close, but not so close she could make out the details, especially over the pounding of her blood in her ears.

“Didn't you see it was occupied?” She told him sharply, hand tight on the trigger.

“I also saw the out of order sign. I rather thought the two were correlated,” his dry tone carrying through the room. He looked uneasy, shifting his weight as his eyes flickered over her. She felt a small wave of triumph as his eyes lingered along the dress, the slit where the top of her stockings peeked through, the dip along her chest to show the curve of her breast. She might have accused him of leering if she hadn't seen a tightness around his lips, and a faint hesitance in his sharp eyes.

“It had a perfectly adequate mirror,” she said glancing away.

“So I see,” his eyes met hers with a bit of a smile. “Grown vain in our old age, Nakamori-san?”

“I see you haven't changed a bit, KID-san. Breaking into the women's powder rooms? Whose poor dress did you steal this time?”

His posture changed as the initial shock gave way to old familiarity. The sure-fire cockiness in his stance, the smoldering eyes that laughed at her, the way his gun shifted with ease in his hand that her's never could.

Not that she wasn't good. She was very good, but not pointed at him.

He tilted his head, his amused smile resting on his face, “I wasn't sure if I would see you.” She could tell there was a hint of something else in his face, and a twist of guilt clenched in her gut. “Indeed, I admit a bit of a surprise.”

“I assure you,” she said through gritted teeth, “if I’d had my way I wouldn't be within a hundred miles of your heist.” She didn't let her gun waver, and kept her feet firmly planted. She regretted her choice of heels, but then she hadn't expected to get this close. She hadn't expected to do much but provide backup to ensure the idiot man didn't end up shot.

“Oh?”

How could he be so infuriating after so long? Shouldn't he have grown up some after a decade? The last time she'd seen him, tired and recovering in a room in London under Hakuba's care, things had been...different. There hadn't been time for anything, and whatever had passed between them did so under the hawk-like gaze of the detective.

It had been an accident they'd even been there at the same time, and Kaito had been in no condition to act himself or even know she had been there.

Still-

“Unfortunately no amount of explanation of how my judgement concerning your subsequent arrest may be compromised could change my boss’ mind. Americans, it would seem, feel that a deep seated root of revenge is a boon rather than any type of bias. It would also appear that as the only person on the force who has been previously present a heist of yours, never mind years ago, they felt I was unequivocally necessary to have here,” she cocked the gun.

She considered shooting as she saw mirth starting to bud on his lips. Thought it was funny did he? Maybe she should shoot him between the legs and see what he did.

“Dare I ask what your answer was?”

Her eyes were hooded as she looked at him steadily, “Fuck off.”

“The mouth on you, Nakamori-san!”

Her eyes were sharp, “As though you have cause to talk.”

“Gentlemen thief,” he said with a slight bow, although neither his gun nor gaze wavered, “I try to keep my language complimentary.”

“Complimentary my ass.”

His smirk diminished and she watched a seriousness settle over him that hadn't been there before. “Compromised you said?”

It took her a moment to realize he was referring to her earlier comment. “Don't play obtuse. It doesn't suit you.”

“Call it curiosity. It has been over ten years, Nakamori-san.”

Too long. Too long to know anything about the man in front of her. God, he could have a wife and kids now-or at least someone waiting at home. He could be doing any number of things on his day job, or committed any list of transgressions that she should find unforgivable.

“Well, maybe I've grown up.”

“Maybe. Enough to claim bias to get out of a case that could make your career.”

“Leave it!”

He shifted his weight again and she could feel the sweat building on her palms. How could she have ever been so naive? How could she have missed the telltale tics that his face and hands gave. The stance? The tilt of his head and way his hair still slipped nearly over his eyes? The hat and monocle hid some, that was undeniable, but it was still obvious. Still utterly there to see for anyone with eyes.

“You could shoot me,” he pointed out, “You've had a perfect opportunity and we both know the shot would land, even if not fatally. You can't miss at this range.”

She kept her face still. Poker face. She'd never been as good as Kaito, but she could be good enough. To get as far as she had you couldn't let your emotions rule yourself.

“I could.”

“So tell me Nakamori-san,” she saw him move, and kept her gun tight in her fist. She didn't drop it even as he stepped forward and lowered his. “Why haven't you?”

It was a fine line between hate and love. A finer line if you couldn't prove a truth you knew was there, standing before you but just out of arm's reach. She had come to terms with Kaitou KID, but a life time of disdain had made it difficult to come entirely clean.

“I told you,” she said hand tightening on the gun, “I'm compromised.”

“Compromised,” his voice sent a shiver that slipped through her. Her breath caught in her throat as he took another step forward until the gun was nearly pressed to his breast. “Nakamori-san-”

“Don't-” her voice cracked.

“Why are you here?” His voice slipped away from the silken tones from earlier. This close she could see fine lines brushing along his eyes and lips. A hint of worry behind violet eyes, that watched her with every care they gave to any priceless gem he might steal.

It took a moment to find her voice, and she kept it as taut as burnished steel, “I told you. It's my job. Why did you have to come here?”

The smile that slipped on his lips was bitter, “Why Nakamori-san, as you said, it's my job.”

Her free hand flew up, wrapping around the cool metal chain of the monocle, and the small charm sharp in her palm. She began to pull just as the touch of silk wrapped around her wrist, iron strong and unwavering. She could feel his pulse vibrating beneath, hot and as fast as hummingbird's wings. For a moment it was enough to remind her that he was human, flesh and blood, not a ghost come to haunt her out of a storybook.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk-now how would that be fair Nakamori-san?” His face was centimeters from her own, and she could feel the warmth radiating from him. The faint scent of roses and chemicals clung to his clothing, clean soap and dust. It was a familiar scent, one that made her ache and caused her throat to tighten.

“Does it even matter?” she said sharply, “Has it mattered at all since-”

“Some things always matter. Give me this much dignity at least.”

Neither of them moved from their stalemate.

Finally, after what might have been hours or minutes, she felt another hand encased in silk wrap around the hand that clenched her gun. Reluctantly, she allowed him to guide it away, down and to her side. She didn't release it entirely, although her fingers clenched at the feel of his hand along the back of her own.

“Where did you even hide that thing?” He asked in a low whisper in her ear, another shiver running over her. “Or did you just plan to brandish it the entire heist? I imagine that would be one for the-”

Fine. If he wanted to play this game then so be it. She wrapped her hand back around his, until they both had hold of the gun, and without changing her expression led his hand under the slit of her dress and up along her leg until it reached the holster at the top of her thigh. She felt him go still against her and his breath catch. Together, they slipped the gun back into the holster, before slipping her fingers over his gloved hand now resting at the top of her bare leg.

“Naka-”

It was awkward, with her hand still wrapped around his monocle and his other hand held tight by hers, but she leaned forward anyway. To hell with it. To hell with the whole damn situation. She'd had enough, years of it, and she'd done stupider things at worse times.

Maybe.

He didn't move at first. He did nothing when she pressed her lips against his, nothing as she leaned closer to him until she could feel him vibrating against her.

She pulled away, just a hairsbreadth, and returned again, this time more forceful and persistent. She didn't release the monocle, but she did tug at the gloves covering his left hand. She felt the silk slip off, felt his fingers tighten along her thigh and his thumb running a soft circle that elicited a groan from her throat.

This time he kissed back.

She was forced to let go of the monocle, but reached for a length of hair instead, jarring his hat slightly. He didn't seem to notice as his lips opened to catch hers this time, and a sliver of tongue slipped through. She opened her mouth, giving him entrance as he murmured across her lips, and the hand on her thigh running along the edge of her stockings. Her knees felt weak, and she held on for dear life when his other hand, still encased in silk, ran along the open back of her dress to dance along her spine.

When his hat clattered to the ground neither of them could be arsed to care.

Aoko.”

His lips moved to her ear, breathing her name as she let out a soft cry at a the feel of soft lips there. She leaned back, glad for the counter, and found herself pressed against it a moment later. His lips were chasing down along her neck, her collarbone, along the top of her breasts, while it was all she could do to remain standing.

When she felt the hand under her skirt brush against the soft silk and lace of her underwear she had to bite her lip from screaming his name.

He paused, his fingers stopping, almost drawing back uncertainly, before she took the hand and guided it back, enough that he ran across the fabric gently to and fro, causing her to shake as he murmured unintelligible words into her skin.

"Aoko,” he whispered again. Her breasts had nearly escaped the confines of their silken top, and his hand had moved from her back to wrap tightly around the tight bud. She let out a short gasp, already so far gone it was hard to remember what was up or down. Part of her, a very tiny part, knew she needed to stop, told herself it had to stop. This wasn't Kaito, no matter how much she wanted him to be, this was the man she was charged with bringing in. The man she'd spent years of study to catch. The man she was still suppose to hate, even if that had become an old safe lie upon her lips.

His fingers wrapped around her nipple as he brought his lips back to hers. Both her arms were wrapped around him by now, holding on for dear life as his fingers finally, finally, slipped past the silk and lace of her underwear to brush upon the top of her opening. She pulled her lips away to bury them into his neck, his tie somehow dislodged, buttons opened (Had she done that? She couldn't remember). She bit down to stifle her cry and felt him jerk beneath her and give a cry of his own.

She was on the counter as his fingers pushed inside her careful and searching and pulling from her another yell. They were quick, fleeting, impossibly long and clever. She was wet and had already come once, (twice?) and God knew when or where he'd learned that. She'd pushed back his shirt, her own fingers raking down his back, down the tight muscles that she found there- hard and lean after years of rigorous chases.

Kaito,” she cried, spent, as he slipped his fingers out so he could catch her as she curled against him breathing hard. She felt a bit like crying, or screaming, or laughing until she did all three. Her head was light, and her body on fire, and she could have lost herself in his strong and protective embrace.

She wasn't even surprised when he drew a handkerchief to clean his fingers. More surprising was the flutter of kisses pressed to her forehead, cheeks, and nose. More shocking was the caress against her cheek, and the cradle of arms that asked nothing of her.

“I'm sorry. I'm so sorry,” he whispered softly. Rambling really. “I...”

“Don't ruin this, Kaito Kuroba. Remind me in five minutes, or half an hour, or tomorrow morning after you've done this heist. But please...give me this much.” She looked up, the monocle still on his eye somehow, and she raised a hand up to remove it, this time the thief letting go.

Kaito had gotten older.

The years had been kind to him, and in his thirties he looked more dashing than he had as a too old teenager. Violet eyes gave way to a stormy blue, trained on her with worry and fear. Idiot. She was an adult now, and if anyone should be worried it should be her.

“Aoko. I didn't mean- I had no intention-” he started and stopped, the words seemed caught in his throat as she grabbed his tie and wrapped it around her fist pulling him back.

“No intention?”

His eyes flashed, “We were in high school the last time I really saw you. I'm not sure I even knew what a proper kiss was.”

She pulled him back down with another tug of his tie, “Well you certainly have learned.”

When he caught her lips this time it was softer, gentlier, he slipped his leg between hers as he wove his arms back around her and dipped her into the kind of kiss a person reads about, or you saw in the movies. Her fist kept a tight hold of the tie, scared that if she let him go the whole thing would erupt into an elaborate dream.

As he drew back they were both out breath, and he had to smile as he touched her swollen lips, “Compromised hmm?”

Her laughter burst forth catching them both off guard. She couldn't stop as she held onto him, letting it take hold and all of the hysterics poured out into it. She felt him shudder with suppressed mirth as well as she shook her head, “You...I...”

“Hmm?”

“The Chief-” she said between breaths, “I- when I told him I shouldn't be assigned the case he said he didn't care what the situation was and he implied-” she waved a hand between them.

 

He laughed in response and she felt his thumb gently run circles over her skin on her lower back, “Is that a promise?”

“Oh God yes.”

She left her head against his chest, listening to the sound of his heart beating. For a moment she could almost imagine that it was a different situation altogether, until she heard a noise from outside and Kaito's groan.

“No,” she said reaching down to catch his hand that had started to untangle itself.

“We have to. Well I don't...but I do, and you most definitely have to,” he said, reaching out to push a strand away from her face.

“At least tell me this is it,” she said firmly, “tell me that this is the gem you're looking for and that-”

“Aoko, you know I-”

She rolled her eyes, pushing him back and turning to the mirror. She was a mess, for that matter he was too. Her lips were swollen, her makeup smeared, and her hair tumbling out of it's precariously set updo. At least her dress she could readjust from where it had all but come undone around her, but still the rest of it was barely salvageable.

She felt fingers in her hair and looked up to see Kaito in the mirror smiling at her. He had a handful of pins in his mouth that he'd procured from heaven knew where, and was carefully adjusting her curls in his fingers and setting them back in place.

Her cheeks reddened, and she tried to focus on fixing her make up, but found it difficult given the distraction his administrations was causing.

“That wasn't necessary,” she muttered once he was done. She would never admit that he'd done a substantially better job than she could have even begun to achieve. Indeed, it looked almost better than it had started, with soft tendrils wrapping around her face and a stray lock landing on her shoulder.

“Mmm, perhaps I wanted to,” his fingers brushed her cheek, and she turned around to look up at him. His clothes were still mostly askew, jacket on the floor, and his cheeks had the same flush as hers, lips swollen, and a dark love bite sat new and obvious against the pale channel of his throat.

She wouldn't do this. They couldn't do this, at least not right now. “It's nearly ten,” she said finally, “I have no doubt the Chief's thought I've made a run for it, and you have less than an hour to do the last of your preparations.” She tugged on his tie, “Just- just finish this alright? You know where I live.”

He held up his hand in alarm. “I wouldn't dream of-”

“Oh yes you would,” she reached up pressing a kiss to his lips. “You already have. I'm sick of all this, and you're here-- even when you swore you wouldn't be. Don't make me come after you.”

“Ao-”

Another kiss. She wouldn't listen to his protestations. Couldn't. “Block the door after me Kaito-it wouldn't do for someone else to catch you when the heist hasn't even begun.”

She was proud with the ease she pushed back her shoulders, snatching her clutch and checking her gun one last time (a flash of leg that she knew Kaito was watching). She was prouder that her nerves held, and that she didn't fly back into the room, or begin shaking the moment the door closed behind her.

Of all the ways she had imagined their meeting, of all the nights she lay there considering the what might have beens, of all the times she thought what it might have been like to have at least tried...

She shook her head, clearing the thoughts. Now was not the time to get distracted by affairs that should have started over a decade ago.

She had a heist to run.