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Where Flowers Bloom (So Does Hope)

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In a way that mirrors his inability to fathom why anyone would kill, he cannot see why it’s called falling in love.

Falling implies getting hurt, but isn’t love supposed to make you feel good? That’s what all those philosophers and lovesick couples say. And, lovesick? Being sick doesn’t sound any better than falling.

Perhaps, Love is just one of those things.

•••

With the fight is over and everything close to normal, he knows now what was meant when the phrase falling in love was coined. He knows this now when her rejection resonates like a loud wedding bell within him.

He loves her, but, as it seems, he isn’t in love with her; she loves him, but, as it is, she’s not in love with him.

They’re both hurt because they love each other too much, but not enough all at once.

Now, they spend their days in a shroud of silence instead of dancing circles around each other like they used to. She immerses herself in the world of karate and friendship; he submerges himself in the safety of detective novels and coffee-induced hangovers.

No, they don’t hate each other. The both of them just need a little more time to come to terms with a few things. Or, perhaps, Ran has already known this since forever and is giving him a chance to catch up. If that were the case, he wouldn’t be much surprised. He may be the detective, but her perception with matters of the heart is far superior to his own intellect.

•••

It’s been ten days since she called him up on the phone to ask him how his day has been or talk about trivial things like the weather because it’s been ten days since she’s told him that she doesn’t feel the way he does.

Her call is unexpected, but not unwelcome. In fact, he smiles upon seeing her ID pop up on his screen. Even if they haven’t had one-on-one conversations in a while, he doesn’t shy away from her. They are, after all, childhood friends and he feels most comfortable around her. Besides, even if he tried to run away, she’ll race right up to him and drag him back with her.

The call starts with her asking him if he’s eaten yet. She tells him that she’s cooked a little extra this morning and she knows that if she doesn’t feed him, no one will. He tells her that—no, he hasn’t eaten yet. The calls ends there, but not before she asks him about his day. Because it’s nothing much, he’s able to sum his day with Sherlock Holmes and coffee.

A few minutes later, the doorbell rings. He gets up and walks outside to the gate, raising a brow because she knows he almost always has it unlocked; the only thing locked are the doors and even if someone were to get past those defenses with ill-intentions, he has a mean kick—of course, it doesn’t come close to Ran’s powerful punches.

She holds up a lunch, packed up and wrapped nicely in a blue-white cloth. She smiles at him; it warms his heart. The warmth is just another reminder of how much he still loves her and of how much she still cares.

Truly, Ran is an angel. She must have been so close to perfection that they sent her back down so that she may become tainted by human nature. Even if he shares no beliefs with all that, he doesn’t find it unbelievable because she really is all that and more.

The lunch is a date in disguise except it’s not a date because it’s just two friends getting together.

When she leaves, his stomach feels too full and rather unsettled. He attributes it to having been essentially force-fed after going quite some time with eating the bare minimum to get by. In his defense, he’s been eating child portions for a long time and, before then, he barely ate enough for himself what with balancing school work and sleuthing.

He’s the type of guy who will toast up a single slice of bread and call that breakfast alongside a steaming cup of joe.

As he’s putting away the aftermath of their meal, he finds a small box with three small fried onigiri. There’s a little note, telling him that he better eat these by the time she comes to cook a breakfast of eggs and sausage the following morning. He half-smiles, knowing full well just how she is.

The urge to turn his stomach inside out hits him with the ferocity of a crashing wave; he barely gets to a toilet before vomiting. The taste is horrible and it burns his throat as he grips onto the seat. For once, he’s most thankful that Ran had the insight to clean for even just a few minutes; the smell of lemon reminds him of those cleaners and the smell is practically simmering inside the room.

He sits up, not bothering to look at the contents, and flushes. Had he looked down, he may have seen an odd speckle of soft pink.

•••

The both of them have been dragged along by the Suzuki heiress. To set the scene, there’s an extravagant exhibition of jewels under a chandelier of crystal ice that was purely for show and not for light. The theme of the night is a wintery fairyland and everyone is all bundled up as the room remained at freezing temperatures to maintain the visage of the room.

Apparently, he hadn’t gotten the memo. And, as it seems, Ran had not either. Sonoko had thrown a thick, red, woolen scarf at the both of them while telling them to share before running off with a manic grin; apparently, she hadn’t gotten the memo that he and Ran would never be a thing.

It reeks of Sonoko’s handiwork.

Ever the gentleman, he wraps the scarf around her neck in a gentle manner. He’s survived almost fifteen minutes under a blanket of snow in freezing temperatures; he can handle a cold room for what should be an hour at most. And, besides, among the refreshments are freshly brewed cups of coffee and hot cocoa.

With a cup of warmth in his hands, he wanders around, staring at the displays and admiring the intricacy. In the pit of his stomach, he feels a sense of misplacement as he gets a feel for the atmosphere; it’s been quite some time since he’s gone to one of the heist and that was back when he was three feet tall and sporting super-sized spectacles.

He lifts the cup to his lips, mindful of the tremors his hands are experiencing. There’s a voice in the back of his head that’s eerily similar to that of his fellow APTX victim; it’s telling him that his immune system is weaker than it used to be so his body is working twice as hard to maintain homeostasis. Perhaps, he should leave because it’s cold and he would rather not get sick.

There’s a tickle in his throat that he tries to remedy with his coffee.

Because he doesn’t rightfully bear the name of Kid Killer anymore, he decides that he’ll sit this one out. Looking around, he chooses to head outside to the rooftop. There’s no guarantee that the thief will appear up there, but at least it will be much warmer.

Peaceful is one way to describe the rooftop. He looks down at the city, leaning over the railing with half-lidded eyes. All he sees is the blur of lights and the moving lifeforms below. And, as he had suspected, it’s much warmer up here than it was in there.

And, for that, he’s thankful.

His coffee cup is empty now, but he still holds it in his hands, playing with it while waiting for something.

The sound of the rooftop door opening doesn’t surprise him as much as he thought it would. Before he can turn around, there’s a gust of wind that blows the cup out of his lazy fingers. Alarmed and not wishing to litter on accident, he stands on his toes and then pushes himself off the ground, grasping for it to no avail.

“Don’t fall, please.”

The styrofoam cup falls with the wind and he plants his feet on the ground. He turns around, expecting a white phantom to appear before him.

It’s been a while, Shinichi realizes, since he’s been to a heist. He’s stopped going since he got his body back. In his mind, heists are no place for him as he’s no longer the acclaimed Kid Killer; he’s just that cocky bastard who invited himself into the scene at the Clocktower Heist.

“I do hope you weren’t planning on leaving the party in such a reckless manner,” KID says, tipping his hat forward. “To whom do I owe the pleasure?”

“Kudō Shinichi, detective,” he says, reaching for his watch. On his left wrist, he keeps it safely secured. Then, he remembers that he’s not here to chase a ghost of the past so he drops his arms down to both sides, allowing them to awkwardly dangle; there’s no point in initiating a familiar battle of wits when the opponent won’t even know who he is.

KID walks forward, taking slow and even steps towards him. He can see the traces of a smirk on that face. “I should have known,” says KID, chuckling to himself. “You look so much like Tantei-kun. Speaking of, how is he?”

The tickle is back, causing Shinichi to rub his throat with the back of his hand. “He’s fine.”

Nodding his head, KID tosses a vibrant jewel in the air, snatching it up before it can even shatter on the ground. He holds it up, staring at the beacon of light it creates. There’s a silent sigh escaping his lips before he regards Shinichi with a blank smile. “I’d say good riddance, but his presence was the most entertaining part of my heists.”

Despite the threat of germs, Shinichi coughs into a fisted hand, clenching his eyes. It becomes apparent that the ailment will only get worse when he keels over, gasping for air and choking on it.

Pink spills to the ground in silky clusters of sakura blossom petals.

“Oi oi, Meitantei,” KID murmurs, pocketing the jewel. Moving down to one knee, he places both of his hands on either of Shinichi’s shoulders, helping the detective to an upright position. The thief observes the small pile of petals, noting that there isn’t as much as there had appeared to be earlier.

Carried away in another sudden gust of wind is KID’s whisper of hanahaki and the blossoms along with it. Then, the rooftop door opens and the smooth criminal jumps over the railing and activates his hang glider—though, maybe it’s a decoy.

Someone grabs his attention, seizing it by asking if he’s all right and looking for the reason that he didn’t do anything to stop KID from escaping. He tells them that he’s just a bit sick as his chest heaves. Whomever it is speaking to him says that a young lady around his age is looking for him and goes on to advise him to just head back down and go home.

With quivering limbs, he’s able to stand up. He brushes off his pants, taking the moment to discreetly look for any remnants of the silky petals. Finding nothing, he apologizes and heads back down.

•••

When he gets back to the lonely mansion, he throws himself into his room, falling into the swivel chair in front of his laptop. The thief’s last words in their exchange before gliding off into the night still ring clearly in his head. The term holds a note of familiarity, but nothing comes to mind.

He types it in, biting his lip. Even though there’s no itch, he finds the fingers on his left hand touching his neck with the lightness of air; they’re cold to the touch. Results pop up on the screen and he scans the URLs for something that may be reliable.

When he begins to contemplate if he should enter in his symptoms—symptoms? Puking up flower petals? Well, anyway, he’s about to do so when he sees something that catches his attention: a disease in which the victim coughs up flower petals when suffering from one-sided love; it affects everyone differently and will develop randomly in those with unreturned feelings.

One-sided love? As in unrequited feelings? As far as he’s concerned, Shinichi has no feelings of the sort. He’s not in love.

He clicks on the link. Quick to skim through, he pulls up bits and pieces of the disease. Often, the flower’s meaning somehow defines something in the relationship, or lack thereof, apparently. When he searches the meaning behind the sakura, he finds that it’s the beauty of life and its fragility what with how short it truly is.

To him, he thinks it’s accurate as Ran really is the beauty of life; their love was short-lived and, right now, he’s kind of suffering because he’s still in love with her and he didn’t know that she doesn’t know that.

And, on a simpler note, he and Ran had been in the sakura class.

He clears his search history and logs off, pushing on the wall and sending him and his chair into the center of the room. With the computer now off, his room is almost pitch black if it weren’t for the glowing moonlight streaming in his window. The house is quiet and still and he’s drowning in this revelation.

A silhouette forms, stretching across the floor as a shadowed figure appears in his window.

“Finally, I found you. How could I forget that the Kudōs have such an esteemed estate?”

The billowing cape shields him not from the chill of the night, but the light of the moon. Shinichi raises a brow, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms. “What are you doing here?”

“How cold, Meitantei, and we just met, too,” KID says, smirking. He hops insides, leaning on the window sill. “I thought you’d appreciate some company.”

“Because of my hanahaki?” Shinichi asks, averting his eyes. “I don’t see why it’s any of your concern.” He sighs, memories flitting through his mind. “After all, like you said, we just met.”

KID lacks an impressive demeanor, rolling his eyes in response to Shinichi’s words. He tosses something Shinichi’s way; it’s the jewel he stole at the exhibition earlier. Then, he scoffs. “You do know about hanahaki, right? It’s going to kill you unless you get the operation or unless the object of your affections returns your feelings.”

Shinichi bristles, reaching to the side so that he may set the jewel down. Then, he says, “Again, I don’t see why you care.”

Apparently, that offends the person invading his room. KID’s frown is apparent, which Shinichi knows shouldn’t be on that face. The thief has always been great at hiding such vulnerable emotions.

“My father always told me that those with hanahaki go through such hard times. My mother tells me to always be there for someone, even if I can’t be there for myself. Besides, you’re related to Tantei-kun, yes? That soccer ball of his may be hellish, but he helped people like me. I think even a thief such as myself is able to help someone like you.”

Shinichi doesn’t say anything for a while after that and neither does KID. It’s just the two of them, in a dark room, with the thief staring at him expectantly and his own gaze stuck on the wall like glue. Then, after a while, someone speaks.

“So, what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to make some coffee.”

•••

His morning routine is simple: wake up, get out of bed, brush his teeth, wash his face, change, and make coffee—sometimes he’ll shower if he had not done so the night before.

When he arrives in the kitchen, he’s able to easily pick out his favorite cup. It’s early in the morning and there’s no one else in the house so he has to start up the coffee machine. While waiting, he pulls out a carton of eggs from the fridge, but he leaves the sausage alone. When Ran comes, she’ll take care of it all.

As if she were the devil, there was a knock on the door. Fixing himself up and hoping that he won’t start coughing up a storm in front of her, he makes his way over. When he opens the door, he finds her adjusting her hair.

She greets him with a chipper voice, brushing past him and inviting herself to the kitchen. He expects her to pull out the sausages or whatever. Instead, she surprises him by grabbing a bowl, a frying pan, sliced bread, a fork, butter, and some syrup.

Then, she cracks a few eggs into the bowl, putting in a pinch of salt before whisking. He wonders if she’s going to make fried eggs. No, she doesn’t. She takes a slice of bread, dipping it in the eggs while slicing a piece of butter and dropping it into the frying pan. Following that, she turns on the stove.

He watches in curious silence, wondering what exactly she’s trying to accomplish. While she’s doing her thing, he makes his beloved liquid.

A cough escapes his lips.

She turns around while dropping the dipped bread onto the frying pan and asks him if he’s okay. Is he catching a cold? No. Allergies? No. Just a tickle in the throat? Not exactly, but close enough. He tells her that he’s fine and that he swallowed his coffee wrong.

To prove a point, he raises his cup, pointing at it with a tight smile. If she suspects that something is wrong, she doesn’t say. Instead of replying, she turns back around. She takes a plate, placing the egg-bread on it.

In a few minutes, the both of them are seated and he listens to her chatter on. He will admit that the breakfast isn’t half bad with just a drizzle of syrup on it. She piles a few more slices on his plate, refusing to leave until she’s satisfied with how much he eats.

Before she goes, she touches his hand with her own, smiling into his eyes as she tells him to take care.

Why does she have to be so fucking wonderful?

When she leaves, he rushes to the nearest bathroom. Again, the food she has made for him has gone to waste as it becomes a regurgitated mush in the toilet bowl. Staring down at what once occupied his stomach, he sees pink.

More sakura blossoms.

He wipes his mouth with the back of one of his hands and flushing the toilet with the other. Then, he washes his hands and exits, turning off the lights behind him.

He’ll figure this out.

•••

Today, he’s with Haibara. She insists on giving him check-ups as she’s the only one he can fully confide in so that she may figure out if he has anything to be medically concerned about. When he’s sitting on a medical table that his parents secured for the little doctor, he feels an uncomfortable itch within him.

When her back is turned, he finds himself unconsciously clawing at his neck, digging in with his nails and trying to get the feeling to subside. He can’t stop it and he gasps as he’s thrown into a fit. The feeling of something foreign climbing up his throat makes him squirm.

Haibara turns to him with her eyes wide in alarm.

She shouts his family name, tacking on the -kun as she rushes to his side. She doesn’t usually get this worked up, but he supposes that she’s worried her antidote isn’t as permanent as she thought or that he’ll just drop dead one day. Her hands grip tightly onto the hem of his shirt as if she were a helpless child.

His coughing subsides. There aren’t any blossoms, making his suspicion flare up. Hesitantly, he coughs into hand because it feels like there’s something akin to cotton in his throat. Sure, he could ignore it, but the feeling makes him think that he’s going to suffocate.

Pink spills from his lips, startling the not-child into letting go of his shirt. She’s able to connect two-and-two. With this new development evident, she narrows her eyes. Her jaw tightens and then she sighs through her nose with her eyes falling shut.

She says something about how he’s an idiot. There’s talk of an operation, but he isn’t listening because he’s just staring at his lap. It’s still something he needs to get used to, but now someone else knows and he’s not sure how to feel. Then, Agasa pokes his head in, asking if everything’s okay.

Either the professor is going blind or Haibara’s head is blocking the view. The old man says nothing about the blossoms. Neither him nor Haibara mention the flowers. Instead, she turns her head ever-so-slightly, looking at him with a one-eyed gaze; that gaze holds a coldness colder than ice and it’s one that not many wish to cross.

To the old man, she conveys to him that everything is fine. Later, she tells him that he owes her. Already, he knows that she’s seen some new purses that she’d love to add to her ever-growing collection.

Before he goes back to his lonely abode, she tells him to do something; he’ll die if he doesn’t. And, frankly, he’s worked too hard to get back to this body. There is no way he’ll accept death so soon.

•••

He boards the train, choosing to stand as it’s crowded and the seat should go to someone deserving of the accommodations. He has a baseball cap on his head and tinted shades over his eyes to serve as a terrible disguise. When the train begins to move, he places one hand in the pocket of his jacket where the stolen jewel hides.

He’s on his way to Ekoda with the intent of placing the gem in the hands of the inspector in charge of all things KID.

As he gazes out a window, he watches as buildings blend together in a cacophony of colors and sizes. People come in and out of the train, getting on and off at the proper stop. His stop is only a few minutes away, thankfully.

At some point in those few minutes he has left on his ride, he experiences a sort of hiccup that sends his upper body pitching forward. Behind his shades, his blue eyes go wide and a hand claps over his mouth as if he were about to throw up. With his condition, he may as well be.

Nearby passengers glance at him curiously when he begins coughing. The sound isn’t quite like the normal cough since there are petals threatening to come out. Moments later, he removed his hand and more sakura blossoms are gathered in his palm. He swallows, noting the dryness in his throat.

He doesn’t dare look up as he places the petals in his pocket. The pitying stares burn him, reminding him of his predicament. Someone close by gives condolences.

When the train stops at his station, he rushes off, throwing the blossoms in the nearest trash receptacle.

•••

On the ride back, he realizes that he’s very much still in love with Ran. Of course, he had realized this when he researched the meaning of the sakura. It became obvious then, but it’s just now setting in. He doesn’t know how to feel.

This much he tells Haibara because she’s the first person he goes to when he gets back.

She’s not a therapist or a psychologist or any of the sort as that kind of science is soft and child’s play—according to her, that is. As she listens, she puts in her two cents, making snippy comments as he struggles to piece together what exactly his problem is with this situation.

To him, she says that it’s possible to cure the hanahaki without the operation and without getting his feelings returned. To him, the third or fourth option is only logical and he should have thought of it earlier: stop being in love with Ran or fall in love with someone else who can return those feelings. Although, she adds in that either of those may be hard to accomplish.

He doesn’t care. In his life, he’s done the impossible and the unthinkable. If anyone can make this happen, he can. Besides, it’s almost like those soap operas and tv dramas that Ran and Sonoko enjoy binging where a protagonist is deeply in love with another character and then falls in love with someone else in just a few short days.

When he thinks about it, he realizes that he’ll have to stop falling for Ran and that truly is as hard as Haibara had made it seem. The scientist admits that there are possible repercussions if he chooses the third option. If he were to try to fall out of love and back onto his feet, the hanahaki may worsen until his feelings for her disappear.

Whatever the risk, he’ll take it. Right now, his life is at stake. And Haibara did, after all, tell him to do something. Falling out of love is doing something; however, falling out of love? It already hurt getting in. Does it have to hurt getting out?

By accident, he says this thought out loud. Immediately, she slaps him; it doesn’t hurt as much as it should, but it’s well appreciated as she’s reality and he’s losing his grip. Then, she starts spewing off nonsense about how she’s not a philosopher and how he should take his pitiful thoughts elsewhere and that he’s still an idiot.

He leaves, losing himself as he wonders how he should go about with his idea. He’ll have to tread carefully as the hanahaki is the unexplored depths of the ocean and he hopes not to drown in it. Though, the more he dwells on the idea of falling out of love, the stronger the urge is to keel over and cough.

•••

KID is back.

KID is back without permission and Shinichi is rather annoyed; however, he doesn’t mind the company. He can’t say that he’s mad, but he is a little miffed that the thief couldn’t even bother with a warning or even coming through an actual door. There’s nothing to be done, though, so he doesn’t say anything.

“You look a little pale,” KID says, watching Shinichi like a hawk. This time around, the thief has turned on a light and is sitting cross-legged on the bed. “Is it safe to assume that you’re still ailed by such a horribly beautiful disease?”

“There’s nothing beautiful about it, KID,” he drawls, rolling his eyes. “Please, don’t try to romanticize this.”

“My apologies. I didn’t mean to offend you,” says the gentleman thief. “So, have you made a decision yet?”

Shinichi doesn’t get why he’s willing to tell the harmless intruder. For some reason, he feels okay with doing so. From his time as Conan, he’s come to know the thief as trustworthy and a valuable ally. So, he speaks. “I’m hoping that my own feelings will go away. There’s nothing to be unrequited if there are no feelings to begin with, no?”

It seems that his answer is unsatisfactory. Even though Shinichi is sitting in his swivel chair with his back facing KID, he can see the slight downward curve of the thief’s lips on the black screen of his laptop. Again, emotion is being betrayed on a face that it normally isn’t on.

KID says, “Crazy must run in the family, Meitantei. Perhaps, Tantei-kun got it from you. Your so-called solution is rather suicidal. With hanahaki, one does not simply just lose their feelings.”

“Yes, well, I’m willing to try. I don’t need to hear about being suicidal from you, Mr. I-Jump-Off-Buildings-For-Fun.”

“Touché. I am, however, not the one who leaned over the side of a railing on a tall building without regard for his safety—nor am I the one who fell off a building on purpose just to shoot me with a tranquilizer.”

“My cup was blown out of my hands,” Shinichi says as he recalls that one heist that was being referenced in the afterthought of KID’s sentence. “You know, he... he enjoyed your heists. You treated him like an equal. Why?”

The way KID locks eyes with him even though Shinichi is only watching through a blackened screen makes his heart stutter. An answer is given before the thief takes his leave, wishing him a good night. Shinichi is left in his room, alone and in the quiet.

So, it seems that KID saw a challenge when he looked at Conan, not a child.

•••

A little over two weeks pass and he has yet to get rid of his predicament. At this point, the hanahaki has progressed, including blood and a mucus-like substance to the mix. Haibara isn’t happy with the progression thus far, but he hasn’t given her permission to speak and she’s tied with a morbid patient-doctor confidentiality.

Besides, he likes to think that she trusts him, even just a little bit.

KID’s visits have become a thing now, but he doesn’t always come; only whenever he happens to be in uniform during the night as he doesn’t hold heists as often as one may be inclined to believe. Their conversations are short and sweet and lasting only a maximum of fifteen minutes; sometimes, the thief has to witness a bloody mess of flowers. His guest will only chastise him on letting it come to this because it’s beginning to deplete his health, which was already horrid to begin with.

One day, the night after KID had visited, he goes about the usual morning routine since the hanahaki became evident: wake up, get out of bed, and wait for the urge to cough up flowers to pass before brushing his teeth, washing his face, changing, and making coffee.

He’s sitting against the wall, waiting and waiting. When half an hour has passed, he gets up, feeling puzzled as he slowly begins to brush his teeth. With the toothbrush in his mouth, he goes about his dental hygiene routine, puzzling over the lack of sakura-puking.

During these past two weeks, not only had the blossoms turned to blood, but they began arriving before he even ate breakfast—if he ate breakfast. Perhaps, a better way of describing the new time of arrival would be before he gets his morning coffee, which is rather unfortunate. Thankfully, Ran thinks that he’s taking care of himself since he had told her as much over the phone when she threatened to come over in the morning again.

Thinking it to be a fluke, he splashes water on his face after he finishes with flossing and mouthwash. He picks out a rather plain and simple outfit for the day before changing into it and going for his coffee.

•••

“Say, Meitantei, I’ve noticed that you haven’t been troubled with your hanahaki for a few days now.”

“Say, KID, I’ve noticed an influx of doves recently.”

“You must notice everything,” says the thief in a good-natured voice. “So observant. They’re mine, if you haven’t figured, which you probably have. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t dying or anything.”

Shinichi doesn’t reply as his eyes cloud over with memories of amusement parks and severed heads. Then, to KID, he says, “If only.”

Perhaps, his tone is too wistful or too sad or maybe the thief thought that he said those two small words in reply to the dying part or maybe it’s a little bit of everything all at once. KID is silent for a few seconds, but it’s something they’re both used to at this point; they’re no strangers to silence.

•••

To say he is surprised is an understatement when KID brings him a cup of coffee. The smell just screams fancy coffee beans. He doesn’t know why he’s been given a gift, but he won’t complain. Right now, he really does need a little pick-me-up.

“Thank you,” Shinichi says, holding the cup in his lap with both hands.

“Really, it’s nothing, Meitantei.”

“Just shut up and let me thank you, okay? Jeez.”

•••

One night, KID just stands in the window sill. Shinichi stares at him expectantly, waiting for the thief to greet him or ask about his day. The moment is a little questionable as the atmosphere shifts from a comfortable silence to something else.

A flight of doves are behind the thief, cooing and flapping their wings. Shinichi suspects that those are the doves that were used to spy on him. It seems that KID is taking them back now.

Then, without a sound, KID drops down and struts towards Shinichi. “I don’t think I’m needed anymore,” the thief says, smirking slightly. “It seems that you’ve done it—your hanahaki is gone now. Why, you’ve practically done the impossible.”

“Yeah, it is,” Shinichi says, sitting up; he had been laying on his back, reading The Sign of Four to pass the time.

“A gift, Meitantei,” KID says, holding out his hand.

Shinichi stares at it out of confusion. Then, something blooms in those pristine white gloves; it’s an azalea—pretty and perfect.

•••

It sits in an unused coffee cup on the table where he and Ran eat breakfast. She looks at it curiously, telling him how pretty it is and asking him where he got it. He can’t answer so he stuffs a fluffy piece of scrambled eggs in his mouth.

He finishes off with coffee. At this point, he’s quite used to the big breakfast so there’s no urge to puke out his guts, which he’s grateful for. Ran congratulates him on finishing as she starts cleaning up.

Because it’s his house and his dishes, he helps her clean. She really only lets him dry the dishes and put them away. He’s always telling her to just use the dishwasher, but she tells him that she prefers to do it with her hands because that’s how she does it at home.

She tells him that he should take care of that lovely flower. Apparently, he’s supposed to cut the stem at a slant and then place it in the water.

In the back of his head, he wonders what azaleas mean and decides to file that thought away so that he may go see Ran out. He watches as she closes the gate, waving to him and then heading off.

The weekend will be over and tomorrow there will be school. He’s almost certain that he can expect Ran—bright and early and ready to force some breakfast down his throat. And, for that, he’s thankful.

Something inside him feels a little empty.

Maybe it’s his stomach.

•••

It was easy letting her go because he let her wait too long and as long as he holds a place somewhere in her heart, he can content himself with that. Besides, he may not be in love with her, but he still loves her.

Even if falling out did hurt a little.

•••

He’s laying in bed, flipping through a copy of one of his father’s books. If he were to be honest, he isn’t reading it so much as he is waiting for KID; it’s silly, he knows. As he flips through another few pages, catching glimpses of words, he keeps thinking that he sees KID’s shadow stretching across the bedroom floor from the window.

He hadn’t realized how much he began anticipating the thief’s arrival until now. To be honest, he doesn’t mind the company given to him by that certain phantom of the past. Sometimes, he feels like he’s trapped in his small body again, bantering with someone on the other side of the law.

With a little less thought about the book, he remembers that KID had only visited because he felt obligated to; he doesn’t know how he feels about that.

After a while, he reaches the end of the book. With that, he turns over on his side to place it on the nightstand before turning off his lamp.

The moon isn’t out tonight so its beams don’t stream in through the window.

•••

A few days later, he notices that the flower has wilted.

It’s late in the night. He has just finished wrapping up a kidnapping case. In the process of apprehending the criminal, it seems that he’s acquired a cut on the back of his right hand. He had grabbed the small child with his left arm wrapping around her in a protective manner while his other arm went to shield the both of them. The kidnapper had a knife and managed to cut his hand.

The moment of panic between seeing the criminal nearing the girl cowering in the corner with a blade in his hands and finding that his watch had conveniently broken, he panicked and did the first thing his mind thought to do since there was nothing that he could kick.

He enters the nearest bathroom to get a first aid kit because the cut is a little deep, but not enough to warrant stitches. For now, he’ll clean it up and wrap it. Then, tomorrow, he’ll see his little neighbor so that she may take a look if she so wishes.

Instead of sitting on the toilet cover to wrap up his wound, he moves to the kitchen. He washes his hands with soap and water, allowing the tap to run for five minutes on his wounded hand before settling himself down in a chair. He opens the kit, but he doesn’t do anything with it.

His focus moves onto the flower. Once upon a time, it was beautiful and a sprinkle of life in this household. Today, it’s browning around the edges in an ugly manner and drooping ever-so-slightly.

It’s only when he notices his hand shaking that he begins to spray a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Following that, he smears on a tiny bit of ointment before finding a bandage that he can use for wrapping. With a little difficulty, he finishes the task.

Before he goes to bed, he throws the flower away with a bit of remorse.

•••

He considers himself to be very lucky; he’s survived the whole Black Organization chapter and the school had decided to bend a few rules so that he may graduate with his friends despite having been gone for a little over a year.

So, what if his grades have fallen behind by a few points? He’s still one of the top students in his class, which is why most of his time is spent simmering in boredom. Today isn’t any different.

The tie is a little suffocating, but he’s managing; it’s like he hasn’t worn his uniform in so long. He has his elbow propped up and his chin in his hand as he pretends to be paying attention to the lesson. His right hand, which isn’t currently holding his chin, is scribbling down work and answers as his eyes drop down to look at his paper.

Then, he feels something inside his body; it feels as if something softer than cotton is filling his throat and lungs. A feeling of horror buds in his stomach as if it were a flower—as if a flower were actually within him. He stands up abruptly, garnering attention.

He’s sure that the picture being painted is weird: one hand gripping the edge of the desk until his knuckles are white, a bandaged hand clamped over his mouth, eyes wide and pupils dilated, and something akin to pure and utter confused panic on his face.

The teacher is hesitant to excuse him, but he runs out anyway. He barely makes it to the bathroom when something spills onto his hand.

Flowers.

•••

Apparently, he passed out.

That much he can figure out when he wakes up in the nurse’s suite. The second thing he realizes is that the hanahaki is back. The third thing is that Ran is by the bedside, chatting with one of the school nurses.

She calls his name, regarding him with worried eyes and a bright smile. Handing him a glass of water, she asks if he’s all right. As he sips on the highly-appreciated drink, he wonders if he’s truly all right. It hasn’t even been a month since he got rid of the hanahaki the first time—why is it back now? And so soon?

When he doesn’t answer, she asks who it is.

He wonders that as well. So, he tells her that he doesn’t know; he doesn’t tell her that he had hanahaki because of her because she’ll get mad at him for not telling her earlier. When he chooses to speak again, he asks if she knows what kind of flowers he expelled.

She and the nurse glance at each other.

White azaleas.

•••

The flower KID gave him was white and an azalea.

The connection isn’t that hard to make, honestly. Why, he can’t call himself a detective if it takes him more than a few moments to piece it together. Though, he kind of wishes that he weren’t a detective. If he were not, he would not have made the connection—he probably wouldn’t have met KID in the first place.

(Ran saw the azalea in his house. What if she pieces it together and asks once more about who gave him the gift? He can’t very well say that he got it from a certain phantom thief.)

He’s back at his house now and has been excused for the rest of the school day as he had woken up at lunchtime. The nurse apparently knew the pain of hanahaki and wanted to let him have time to come to terms with this and figure out what he wishes to do. Ran had pitched in and threatened to kick him into the next century if he doesn’t rest because apparently he’s still shocked.

After a while, he decides to head over to Agasa’s. There he will wait for Haibara to come home. Maybe he’ll help himself to a little snack and strike up a conversation with the old man. After all, it’s been a while since he’s had a little chat with the professor.

And, as expected, the man asks him why he’s home early. He sells a lie, saying that the school let out early as there was a small electrical fire and the entire school reeked of smoke. Somehow, Agasa buys it and doesn’t ask for details.

He spends the rest of the school day helping Agasa with a new invention, handing the man tools and making comments. He coughs a lot, but for the most part, the flowers don’t come in hoards and he’s able to stuff them into his pockets before they’re noticed; he barely even sees them himself because he refuses to make look.

When his pockets are full, he takes a break to go to the bathroom. There, he empties out his pockets, dumping the flowers into the toilet.

He holds one in between his index, middle, and thumb, rubbing one of the petals with his thumb; it’s soft and silky and just a tiny bit fragrant.

They appear as white as KID’s suit; however, they’re stained with red. Upon closer inspection, he finds that the red is the result of his blood—that explains the shared look between both women at the nurse’s office. His hands are tinted red and he drops the final flower into the toilet. Quickly, he washes his hands with soap and hot water, drying them on his pants. Then, he flushes away the evidence.

It swirls around, disappearing into the drain.

•••

Haibara pulls him into her makeshift lab space the moment she sees him.

She orders him to sit down as she closes the door, locking it while staring him down. Even when she’s smaller, she’s still rather terrifying. He obliges because he values his life. Then, he tells her the goings-on.

Her reaction is something close to what he expected. She just sighs deeply, rubbing her temples and giving him an annoyed glare. In a petulant voice, she tells him to control his hormones. Then, she begins rapid-firing questions.

The dreaded who is it? is among the mess, but he stays quiet on that one. He wants to wait it out. She wants to know, but he won’t tell her and she knows it. So, she shoos him off, telling him to come back if things start getting worse. She also reminds him that he has two other options.

He swallows the excess of saliva in his mouth.

•••

Apparently, he’s got it bad. Also, apparently, Ran called Hattori over to try and deduce whomever it is that he’s developed hanahaki over. It only takes a few minutes for the Osakan to realize that he’s well aware of the lover he can’t have.

Hattori makes himself at home, intending to stay for the weekend.

The two of them are watching some Detective Samonji rerun episode when the news comes on, interrupting the best part. He’s a little mad even though he’s seen this episode five times already, but he seems to drain of all emotion when KID’s calling card pops up onto the screen with a lovely riddle printed on it; that idiotic caricature is there as well, mocking him.

Below where the Dead gather,

When Soil bleeds into Sun,

I shall arrive from the Heavens

To kidnap the Harvest.

[Kaitō Kid]

•••

It’s Saturday night and he and Hattori are at the heist location, which was a museum in Haido City. There was a Greek exhibit titled The Underworld and one of the centerpieces was a jewel by the name of Demeter’s Garnet.

Part of him wishes to leave, but he needs to see him again.

And, maybe, if he can find it within himself, he’ll tell the thief; it’s not like there are years of friendship between the two that are at risk of being ruined and wasted should he confess. Haibara had advised him not to go with the other options, believing that if his hanahaki is already bloodied now, trying to let the feelings subside or for them to be returned or for him to find and fall in love with someone who’s in love with him will take a serious hit on his health.

So, the operation is the best way to go.

He has a cloth mask over his mouth as if he were sick, which he technically is as hanahaki is a disease. If anyone asks, he’ll say that he’s caught a cold from overworking himself with cases; it’s not exactly a lie. He knows that he’ll be with Hattori all night anyway so everything should work out in his favor.

Nakamori and his men are stationed around, prohibiting guests who can’t pay from getting inside. Thankfully, the face-pinching test was forbid because he thinks that it’s utterly stupid; KID is a genius after all—there must be a way that he gets past those tests without suspicion.

There’s still a good hour left before the heist.

Hattori complains about such exhibitions, explaining that they’re just excuses for rich people to show off. The detective from Beika rolls his eyes at each complaint, wondering if his friend has always been like this. After all, the Osakan is known to be hot-headed; there’s no surprise if he’s whiny as well.

A few times during their walk around, he coughs into the mask. Every time, Hattori looks at him and asks if he needs to take a breather outside or something. Even though he can’t quite breath as well as he should right now, he declines, brushing off the concern. He can handle himself just fine, thank you very much.

Then, while they’re walking through the exhibition for the tenth time or so, he stumbles. Hattori is quick to catch him, saying something about how they really need to do something if he’s starting to act a little drunk. Vehemently, he refuses any help as there’s no need to worry.

He only experienced a small wave of nausea and lightheadedness after all.

Because of his insistence to stay and his opposition on getting fresh air, Hattori admits defeat.

He wants to figure out who KID is—he used to be so good at doing so. Perhaps, he’s losing his touch. Although, maybe the thief has yet to make an appearance. For now, he’ll humor himself by playing a game of clue with the current guests.

•••

It’s showtime.

He and Hattori stand at the ready; he with his watch and ball belt and Hattori with a fighting stance. The two of them know that the clock starts now as Soil bleeds into Sun like the riddle said. Yes, the sun can bleed into the soil when it sets, but that can’t happen—not tonight.

Seconds start ticking away and all is silent as the civilian guests (i.e. not stupid teenage detectives) have been kicked out of the exhibition. When night becomes midnight and the minute hand strikes twelve, he’ll appear from the Heavens.

On his watch, the time reads midnight.

The lights shut off, but he can’t turn on the light in his watch fast enough. The lights turn on—KID is standing on the glass of the display as if he were weightless. The ever-present smirk stains that unknown face; it never leaves, only fades.

“Ladies and gentlemen! Tonight, I shall kidnap a precious goddess.”

Shinichi feels the now-familiar tickle in his throat. He wills it to go away as he prepares to aim his watch at KID. He places his focus on finding a spot on his target to aim for. He stares through the lens with one eye shut, but his vision blurs for a moment and he falters, losing his chance as the lights turn off once more.

He and Hattori hear the shattering of glass followed by Nakamori’s shouts to head outside. When Hattori grabs his wrist to drag him along with the police, he stands his ground because he managed to catch a veil of white in the darkness slip through a door. Hattori trusts him and so follows the other detective.

While sprinting up the stairs, he has a moment of weakness when he almost stumbles from a sudden loss of balance.

•••

The both of them arrive at the rooftop with him out of breath and Hattori muttering about how he was not expecting such a workout—or that many stairs as a matter of fact.

When they manage to compose themselves, they see KID holding a necklace up to the moonlight. The glow of it is prominent and beautiful, but the thief breathes out a sigh. Shinichi heard a disappointed note in it and frowns behind his mask.

“Ah, Meitantei, it’s a pleasure to see you again. I see that that hot-headed Osakan has decided to tag along,” KID says, stepping down from the railing he had been balancing on. He tosses the jewel up in the air, catching it before it could fall.

“I see that you’ve decided to steal another jewel,” Shinichi retorts at the same time Hattori yells something almost incoherent about how he’s not at all hot-headed.

“I thought I asked you to take care of yourself,” KID says in an exasperated voice as he looks pointedly at the mask. In response, Shinichi lets out a small cough while hiding a wince at the way it rubs raw against his throat. Hattori stares at the both of them, eyebrows knotting together because why are they not doing anything right now?

Reflecting on the words said to him by KID, Shinichi finds himself to be a touch confused. “You never asked me to take care of myself.”

Laughing, KID says, “I didn’t say it with words, Meitantei. I was hoping that you’d understand flower meanings, but it seems that you do not.”

Azaleas mean take care of yourself if he’s not mistaken. At this sudden realization, Shinichi falls quiet. Hattori shouts something in his ear about how they’ll lose their chance to catch KID if they don’t act now.

With that in mind, he unthinkingly summons a ball with his belt and kicks it with all he’s got; it narrowly misses the brim of that obnoxious hat. From behind the monocle, KID blinks, a little stupefied at the sudden action.

“What a powerful kick you have,” KID murmurs in a voice just loud enough for Shinichi to hear. “I’m started to get flashbacks of Tantei-kun and those hellish soccer balls.”

“I’m not surprised,” Shinichi says without thinking, coughing once more. His eyes narrow as for a moment, he’s seeing double. “Hattori, let’s end this.”

Fixing his hat, Hattori grins.

The command is too late as KID does a complicated flip backwards, flinging himself over the railing and off the rooftop. Both detectives rush over and the hanahaki-ailed one grips the railing harshly as he suffers from coughs that rack his body and bloody the inside of his mask.

He pulls it off and azaleas rain down to litter the streets as he takes in a big breath of chilly air.

Hattori makes a remark about how they need to clean that up and fast.

•••

The next day, he’s confronted by a baffled and babbling Osakan who claims to know whom it is that he holds feelings for.

All he’s able to make out is thief and azalea and unrequited and hanahaki and what da actual hell

Panic seizes his heart because no one was supposed to find out. Though, he has to give Hattori props for being a decent detective. He can’t deny it anymore because there’s no point in doing so; he’s still dying. For now, he skips the dramatics and congratulates his friend on those deductive skills that are building up.

Later that day, Hattori heads back to Osaka with another secret under his belt and another case closed.

•••

Okay, so, what if he hasn’t completely come to terms with the fact that the one who unknowingly holds his affections is the Phantom Thief 1412?

It’s not like he’s a detective and KID is a criminal; it’s not like they’re on opposite sides of the law; it’s not like they both have secrets that they must keep guarded and hidden away from the other; it’s not like they seldom ever see each other.

Except, that’s exactly what it’s like.

He can’t help but wonder if things could have turned out differently if one thing was changed. What if he never began a new life thanks to the apoptoxin? Or what if KID never became KID? Or what if he weren’t a detective? There are far too many what ifs to wonder about and far too little answers. He may be a detective, but seeing such events is something he cannot hope to accurately do.

It’s Sunday night and he’s spending a while reflecting in his room. At some point, he expects the thief to appear in the window. Or, perhaps, for a dove to conveniently perch itself on a nearby branch or something.

That doesn’t happen—none of it does.

While he’s at it, reflecting on the ifs, ands, and buts, he realizes that he hasn’t been able to confess. Maybe if Hattori hadn’t been there, he may have said something. Though, if he really thinks about it, with his poor communicative skills in matters of the heart, his confession would have turned to cotton in his throat—or, better yet, white azaleas.

His phone buzzes; it’s Ran calling him up.

She asks him how his weekend was and if he’s coming to school tomorrow. He tells her that it was fine and that he’s probably going to come. His answer must be unsatisfactory because she says to him in a tone of fake sweetness that his face will meet her foot if he dares to set foot even a millimeter onto school property.

After that, for the sake of his mental and physical health, he tells her to inform his teachers and the school that he will be out once more.

The two share a conversation about whatever it is that’s going on in Ran’s life because they talk too much about his. Before she hangs up, she tells him that she’ll come every morning for the rest of the week to cook him breakfast. She tells him that she loves him like she does whenever she calls her mother.

He holds his phone to his ear even after the call is done as if she’ll call him back.

•••

Haibara won’t forgive him even one millimeter.

He had apparently forgotten to mention the fact that his hanahaki had immediately reached its bloody stage. When he tells her this, she yells at him, which was to be expected. Then, she orders him to make a move soon or she will forcibly remove the hanahaki herself in a way that’s more than painful.

She tells him that he will tell her every single detail from start to finish because she needs to know everything if she wants to help. Absently, he wonders what she can help with. Then, he tells himself that she probably just wants to know who he’s developed feelings for. Though, with the way she’s looking at him, he finds himself unraveling his tale from start to finish.

When she finds out that it’s KID of all people, she gives him an unimpressed look. He asks why her face looks like that and she turns away to go on her computer, telling him that she always knew he was way too obsessed with playing a game of wits with that untouchable bother.

He vehemently denies her claim. She waves him off, telling him to go bother someone else because she’s tired of hearing excuses and listening to his stupidity.

•••

Sunday night bleeds into the early hours of Monday morning. Ran arrives when the sun comes up and she’s brought him the leftovers of the breakfast that she and her father shared. Although cold and runny, he appreciates her efforts to keep him well-fed. She tells him that she has to run or she’ll be late to an early morning karate practice.

With a promise to come back after school, she runs off and tells him that he better eat. He rolls his eyes and looks down at the meal. Averting his eyes downwards so quickly hurts.

And, without warning, the plate is decorated in a blanket of red-speckled white. He falls to his knees, coughing and hacking and spitting out blood and flowers. His eyes are wide as he stares at the mess he’s made and his jaw is dropped, but he cannot breathe for the life of him.

He’ll need to clean it up.

•••

Ran probably won’t forgive him even one millimeter for making her worry.

He wakes up in a hospital room with its off-putting white walls and the smell of hand sanitizer, cleaning solutions, and probably the faintest touch of death. Ran is at his bedside with her upper-body passed out on his bed and the rest of her seated in a chair. On her arm is a small plaster.

She must have given him blood again, which means he coughed up enough blood to warrant a transfusion.

Flashbacks to when he got shot in the abdomen while lost in a cave zip through his mind. He glances at a clock and then out the window so that he can figure out if it’s a good idea to rouse her from the clutches of sleep.

A small cough catches his attention. In a chair that’s pushed against the wall, Haibara sits with her legs folded and one elbow resting on an armrest. She holds a magazine in her hands and stares at him. Before he can ask, she tells him that she remembered that azaleas can be rather poisonous to the human body and that she tried calling and texting him but he wouldn’t answer; she went over during lunch after calling Agasa to pick her up and, together, they found him passed out on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood and azaleas that were stained pink.

And, as Fate would have it, the hospital happened to be low on blood—at least, short on the specific blood-type that he required.

Because she knew that Ran had a matching blood-type, Haibara called his friend up in the middle of class while Agasa called the school to inform them of the situation.

He asks if they removed the hanahaki yet. She tells him that they haven’t because although his case has progressed so far, they need parental consent; his parents haven’t replied to any phone calls or messages with their busy schedule and timezones. And, when asked, Agasa told the doctors that he wanted to wait for him to wake up before doing anything.

According to the shrunken scientist, he’s going to be in here until he figures this out. She tells him that he better make it up to Ran because she had to donate a lot of blood for him once again and she’s been here the entire time; he already knows.

•••

Hospital rooms remind him of the time he was shot, the time he broke his leg, and everything in between. No good ever came from him staying in a hospital. Though, tonight that may change.

Someone knocks on his door at this odd hour. Albeit hesitantly, he tells them to come in, making sure he doesn’t raise his voice so much that he awakens any sleeping patients near his room. The door opens and a nurse walks in with her brunette locks pulled back into a tight bun.

She asks if he paged for assistance. He tells her no and then asks what a phantom thief is doing in drag.

The nurse smirks.

“Less than a minute, Meitantei,” she says, pulling pins out of her hair and letting it tumble down her shoulders. She bends over and, when she comes back up, she becomes KID. In his normal voice, he says, “I’m impressed.”

“What are you doing here?” Shinichi asks, averting his eyes. Small coughs send tremors throughout his body.

“How did you figure out it was me?” KID asks, seating himself in one of the guest chairs. He leans back, taking his hat off and allowing the presence of the night to hide his identity as his seat is in a shadowed corner. “I’m here because I have eyes and ears in certain places. I knew you were unwell, but sick enough to warrant a hospital visit?”

Shinichi wants to snort but if he does, he’s probably going to send himself into another fit. “Your tights were beige as opposed to the standard white or grey,” he answers, making it a point to ignore that second part of KID’s statement. “Also, typically, the nurses don’t bother with knocking on the door in case of emergency.”

The thief lets out a low whistle with a mocking clap to match. “That aside—I don’t know the details of why you’re here, but I do hope you’ll get out soon.” Then, he grins, tossing one hand in the air. “I’ve come bearing gifts.”

Something falls into his lap. When he looks, he sees that it’s a small bouquet consisting of an iris, a white horehound, and a white hyacinth. Shinichi picks it up as if it were thin glass so that he may properly inspect it. He vaguely remembers that an iris symbolizes a message. But a message of what? He assumes that part to be connected with the other two flowers.

“A message of health and prayers,” KID drawls with a smirk evident in his voice. “Just wanted to clarify as you don’t seem to know.”

“I appreciate this,” Shinichi murmurs. He coughs again, dropping the flowers. “KID, I—“

“Coughing and he won’t stop talking—just as stubborn as Tantei-kun,” KID admonishes. He walks over, pouring a cup of water for the detective. “Did you know, I once took care of a flu-ridden little detective in the middle of a snowy abyss? He ran through a bridge as it was burning—can you believe it?”

Of course he knows because he was the one who ran through a burning bridge so that he may save Ran.

KID decides that he must leave. Before he goes, he entrusts Shinichi with a heist notice that will be in effect in two weeks. The thief makes him promise that he’ll come.

•••

Like a Phoenix,

I will rise again with the moon at its highest peak

And bring yet another jewel to my nest.

[Kaitō Kid]

•••

He doesn’t have time for this.

The heist is tonight and he’s made up his mind—he’ll tell KID and then get the operation. The thief hadn’t visited him since giving him flowers and the early heist notice. He’s had more than enough time to think.

According to Haibara, if he gets the operation, he can never catch hanahaki ever again, which doesn’t sound too bad if it’ll rid him of his feelings. He’s fought tooth and nail to live past the Organization ordeal; he’s not going to get taken down because of a few pretty flowers.

The problem at hand is that the hospital absolutely refuses to let him leave. He’s only told them that he wishes to tell the someone that he’s in love with them and is going to get the operation. The staff told him to just call this person, which he would, but, unfortunately, he doesn’t have the thief’s number.

When he’s alone, he slides out of bed, disconnecting the equipment from himself. He makes his way over to the closet where Ran has placed a small bag with some of his clothes in it for when he’s able to leave. Thankful for her preparedness, he picks out something appropriate for the chilly weather.

After he finishes changing, he opens the window so that he may gauge the distance between his room and the ground. If he’s correct, he should be able to make it out relatively unscathed.

So, he slowly climbs out.

When he’s out, he takes a moment to lean on the exterior wall so that he may breathe. The heist isn’t too far from the hospital, thankfully, but he’ll take at least thirty minutes to get there—maybe a little longer if the hanahaki affects his breathing.

As he’s walking, his mind is set on figuring out what exactly he’s going to say. Though, if Ran were here, she’d have a conniption about him leaving the hospital early and then tell him that this sort of stuff doesn’t have a script to follow.

•••

Maybe he’s wrong.

Maybe Death doesn’t follow him everywhere because Death has a habit of resurfacing on full moons while wearing an obnoxious top hat and a billowing cape.

Truly, Kaitō KID will be the death of him. Literally. Well, maybe not literally as it’s his feelings that will—

“You made it,” the thief says upon his arrival to the rooftop.

Surprisingly, Shinichi has made it to the heist location with little to no incident. Along the way, he had stopped to help an elderly woman cross the road as she appeared to have poor eyesight and her hands were full; he couldn’t leave such a kind-looking woman to her own devices when she could possibly get run over.

“That I did,” he replies, working on his breathing. Apparently, he’s lost the ability to run up stairs without tiring. Then again, that fact had been made evident at the heist with Hattori.

“I do hope you’re feeling better,” KID says, turning so that he could face the moon. “Sources told me that you actually required a blood transfusion, which begs the question of what exactly happened to land you in there.”

Shinichi remembers puzzling over how to bring up that little I’m in love with you sentiment. The unasked question that’s hanging in the air leaves him an opening to tell the thief. So, he braces himself.

“Hanahaki,” Shinichi says, swallowing because it seems as though his glands are over-salivating. The thief turns his head almost immediately, allowing the profile of his face to be see without the monocle. “I developed feelings for someone else. It... I threw up enough blood to be admitted in.”

KID’s lips curl downwards. “And the operation?”

“I haven’t gotten it—yet. I will. Soon.”

“You will?” KID asks with a tone accompanied by confusion and astonishment. “Why didn’t you just get it last time?”

“I wasn’t very keen on letting anyone else know I had hanahaki.”

It doesn’t take long for the other to understand what Shinichi was trying to imply. The detective hadn’t wanted Ran to find out because she would’ve known he was in the hospital and would demand an explanation. He didn’t want her to feel bad for making him suffer just because he was trying to hold onto something of the past.

“I’m in love with you.” Shinichi finds that he can’t breathe again at this moment. Nerves. That’s all. “I just wanted to tell you because—“

Because what? Because he wanted this—This? A chance? Yes, that’s why he’s telling him. He’s telling him because he wants to give himself a chance. With Ran, he never stood a chance if he told her of his hanahaki being the product of his unrequited feelings for her. With KID, with him, he—

He lurches forward, falling to the ground as he spasms with violent coughs. Blood splatters from his mouth and, one-by-one, a handful of azaleas fall onto the mess. Really, Shinichi had not meant to make such a mess—it wasn’t supposed to go this far.

“Meitantei!” KID yells, finding a place at the fallen detective’s side. Dutifully, the thief ignores the sudden confession so that he may try to help. “Meitan—Shinichi!”

His eyes shut themselves and the coughing subsides. Then, it’s quiet. He can hear the distant sounds of the city far below. KID’s presence seems to have disappeared. There’s no more strength within him to open his eyes or sit up.

•••

Apparently, he has a bad habit of passing out—whether it be due to blood loss or shock.

He finds himself back in the same hospital room as before. This time, when he wakes up, his parents are in the corner with their backs turned to him, presumably consulting with a doctor. For a moment, he wonders if they’ll make him go through with the operation.

Huh. The way he’s thinking makes it sound like he doesn’t want to.

When his parents turn around, his mother rushes over and traps him in an embrace, crying into his shoulder and asking him if he’s okay. His father’s just a foot away with one hand in his pocket and his expression calm and schooled. The two males send each other mirroring smirks for a brief second.

Yukiko holds him away from her, gripping his arms with manicured nails and the hold of a mother bear. She asks if he’s going through with the operation. From his spot, Yūsaku tells him that they’ll support whatever decision he makes.

He falls silent as the doctor turns around to leave the room, allowing for some privacy between the small family of three.

Once more, she asks him what he’s going to do. In return, he asks when they got here.

Before Yukiko can start complaining, Yūsaku cuts in, informing his son that they caught a flight as soon as they stopped ignoring the messages. When the actress heard that her poor son had become ensnared by the thorns of hanahaki, she demanded that they fly back home immediately. The two asked the professor for the hospital in which he was staying at and came over.

He appreciates the concern.

After a few moments of pondering, he makes up his mind. He’s going to go through with his plans and get the operation—not yet, though. He wants to wait a bit more. He only needs a few more days and then he’ll do it.

That’s what he tells them.

A little shocked, Yukiko loosens her grip before inevitably dropping her arms. He stares at her when the atmosphere suddenly turns over completely. Then, she asks him the same question everyone’s been asking: who is it?

He hesitates. Even though they are his parents, whom he holds on that special pedestal will no longer matter after he’s had the operation. Plus, he knows his father at least has had some sort of relationship with the original Kaitō KID—possibly even his mother. At the very least, his father may be well aware of who’s currently behind that monocle.

And as nice as it would be to know who’s underneath that hat, he wants to hold on to the mystery for a little while longer.

In the end, the only name he’s ever known the thief by slips from his lips.

•••

Hattori visits him on the night before his operation.

“I heard ‘bout it from ‘nēchan,” the Osakan says. Shinichi won’t look at him because he’s trying to become invested in the latest Detective Samonji novel that his father had secured just for him while his mother was out taking Haibara shopping on his behalf.

“Have you now?” he says, flicking his eyes back towards the top of the page because he lost his place again. “I’m getting the operation tomorrow. There’s no need to worry about anything.”

“Yer gettin’ it tamorrow?” Hattori says in an incredulous voice. “Dat soon?”

Shinichi wants to give his friend an are you stupid? look but he wants to finish this novel before he goes to sleep. Speaking of, what is Hattori doing here at this hour? Last he checked, the time was only two or three hours before midnight.

He falls into a comfortable silence with Hattori, which he greatly appreciates. For the past few days, he’s had to entertain visitors and doctors and nurses who are helping him prepare for the operations. Some peace and quiet is hard to find with thoughts sounding like symphonies in his head.

Right now, with Hattori, he’s fallen into a comfortable silence that eases the thoughts, bringing them down to a soft lullaby. The feeling is familiar and almost like—

Almost like KID.

Freezing, Shinichi almost drops his books. His neck turns with a stutter as if it were unoiled hinges or something of the like. Sitting in the guest chair is a stranger dressed in black with a matching baseball hat pulled down.

“... KID?” he tries out, testing for a reaction. The head of this stranger lifts up, giving Shinichi the perfect view of violet-indigo eyes and messy brunet hair. He almost panics.

“Took you long enough, Meitantei.”

Ah, yes, that’s definitely KID. If the eyes weren’t enough, it’s the way his voice drew out the syllables of that stupid nickname.

“What are you doing here? It’s late.”

“Maybe I just wanted to see your beautiful face, darling.”

His heart does this complicated maneuver in his chest.

“Or, maybe, I wanted to apologize,” KID says, removing his hat. Shinichi freezes because he’s almost certain that that’s the naked face of a phantom thief—no masks, no monocle. Whoever this person is, he runs a hand through his hair, which has little to no effect as it was already a mess prior to that action. “Perhaps, this no-good thief has decided to surrender his name to you.”

Shinichi isn’t quite sure if what he’s hearing are delusions induced by the lack of coffee. After all, the hospital has been rather strict about his diet when they noticed his poor eating habits. And, sadly, no one is willing to sneak him even a drop of the stuff.

“Or, perhaps, it’s all of the above.”

•••

“So, why are you in love with me anyway?”

Shinichi isn’t quite sure how long he spent gaping at the thief, but he knows it’s been long enough that his jaw feels a touch sore. He looks around, wondering if he’s being filmed for some sort of pranking TV show. He finds no sign of hidden cameras so this can’t be some sort of joke.

And he’s fairly certain that he’s definitely awake.

When the question finally registers in his brain, Shinichi’s ears burn a bright shade of red as he avoids KID’s eyes.

“I’ve come to enjoy your company,” he admits, mumbling his response. Immediately, he recoils from his own words with a wince; he’s acting like a petulant child, which one could say he was at times when he was Conan. “I admire your skills. You were a challenge.”

“My company,” KID parrots, looking just as confused as he sounds. “I only ever visited a few nights for no more than a quarter of an hour.”

“Yes, well, we’ve spent more time together than that,” Shinichi says, letting that fact slip. He can’t seem to hold his tongue as he continues on. “You wouldn’t know, but we’ve met before that wintery heist.”

There’s a look of deep thought on that bare face. Shinichi dares to peek, deciding to commit this scene to memory because he may never see such a sight ever again. There doesn’t appear to be a lightbulb going off in the thief’s mind.

The detective provides a subtle hint, making an offhand comment to the thief that he’s starting to consider getting glasses as he might be starting to inherit his father’s poor eyesight, which isn’t true—at least, not yet.

That comments seems to help because KID begins staring at him with a poker face being slammed onto his features. Shinichi bristles under the attention. If the thief is as smart as he thinks he is, the truth with be revealed.

“Tantei-kun,” KID murmurs. He runs his hand through his hair once more. “How did I not see it? The same face, the same gadgets, the same deductive prowess—“

“To be fair, I was three feet tall,” Shinichi interjects, shrugging his shoulders. “Very few people can call themselves mentally stable if they come up with the idea that a teenager somehow shrank down to a child’s body.”

As if routine, the both of them fall silent. It stays like that for what feels like an eternity, but couldn’t have been no more than a minute or two. Hc isn’t the first one to speak, but neither is KID.

“Kuroba Kaito, at your service,” says the stranger with a charming grin and a white rose now at hand. “I have a proposal: my story for yours.”

Before Shinichi can even say anything in response to that, Kaito tosses the Rose at him before jumping into his tale without any preamble.

“I was eight-years-old when my father died...”

•••

At some point between exchanging their backstories, Kaito finds a spot on the bed with Shinichi. At some point between exchanging their backstories, the sun rises as the moon disappears. During the entire conversation, neither Kaito nor Shinichi had taken their eyes off the other.

“You know, Meitantei, I don’t thinking falling in love with you would be a bad thing,” Kaito says.

Shinichi frowns. “You don’t have to feel obligated. Are you forgetting that my operation is scheduled for later on today?”

“What if I don’t want you to?” Kaito diverts his attention somewhere that isn’t the ocean depths of Shinichi’s eyes. “I want to give this a chance.”

Confused and a little more than bewildered, Shinichi almost falls off the bed with the way he startles at that last sentence. He composes himself, clearing his throat. “Kuroba-kun, I keep telling you that you don’t have to do this.”

“And I keep telling you that I want to,” Kaito says, still not looking at Shinichi. “Say, you must have noticed it, right?“

Noticed what? Shinichi thinks back to the past few days. He remembers the doctors pushing him to bring the operation date forward, but he refused because a part of him hoped that KID would come. In fact, everyone kept telling him to bring it forward because the hanahaki was starting to—

The hanahaki. He hasn’t dealt with it since the day before yesterday.

Slowly, he brings himself to look at Kaito. The other now has his eyes trained on him, watching and waiting. Shinichi’s mouth feels a little dry.

“You...”

“I think we can make this happen,” Kaito says. “After all, I have all the more reason to be in love with you now, Tantei-kun. We have a history, don’t we?”