Kaito sits on his bed, hair and clothes ruffled from sleep, staring intently at the only light in the room—the one coming from his phone. He watches the empty notification bar; the absence of any sort of message seems to mock him, and he sighs. A swirl of emotions mix in his gut, to the point where he is unable to distinguish his anger from the utter hopelessness he feels.
He tries to pay little mind to the way his chest aches and his throat closes, blaming the sting in his eyes on the stark contrast his phone screen makes with the dark room. He tosses his phone on the sheets carelessly, restless as he runs his hands through his hair in an attempt to calm himself.
If Shinichi were here, he’d probably mention, casually, how much of an idiot he is being. He would look at him and roll his eyes as he called Kaito dramatic and told him to quit pouting.
But he wasn’t here. Shinichi was gone, he had been for five months now. Even with his connections as Kid, Kaito found no trace of the detective anywhere, no leads for him to follow—no way to locate his boyfriend. It was as if the detective had suddenly ceased to exist.
The day after he disappeared, Ran had come over looking for Shinichi. She told Kaito how the detective had gone missing during their visit to Tropical Land, how he had run off and never returned, and Kaito had been filled with an urgent worry.
“Is Shinichi okay?” he remembers asking. Ran had just looked at him sadly, clearly just as upset. He knew then that neither of them had an answer, and he hated the fact.
Kaito had dedicated an entire week to desperately searching for his answer, though, willing to use every last ounce of his luck if it meant Shinichi was safe. He single-mindedly tracked the location Shinichi had last been seen, according to Ran, looking for clues that weren’t there. He interrogated the detective’s colleagues and associates, even tried contacting his parents (to no avail). Each trail went cold, and by the end of the week Kaito’s lack of eating or sleeping was catching up to him.
On the seventh day, he finally got a call.
Exhausted and frustrated from his search, he chewed the stupid detective out for his insensitivity. Shinichi took it in stride, asked him how he was doing, then explained essentially nothing about some big case he was working on in secret. Kaito was mad, he felt worried and also a little like he was being left behind. Not long after he’d called, Shinichi was gone.
After enough time had passed for Kaito to calm down, he was able to think a bit more clearly about their situation. And while even Kaito would attest to the fact that he sometimes acted stupid, he was far from an idiot. It was obvious that there was much more than just some case going on in the detective’s life for him to go into hiding like this. Just the thought of Shinichi attempting to lie to him, a phantom thief, was equal parts irritating and amusing.
Kaito forces the thoughts away, back to his dark bedroom, flopping gracelessly onto his mattress and turning over. He looks at the time and knows he needs to sleep more. After all, tomorrow is his birthday, and he’s determined not to let the situation with Shinichi ruin his good time.
Despite his grogginess and general lack of sleep the next morning, Kaito spends the entire day with his normal levels of enthusiasm. He plays through his magic routine, teasing Aoko and joking relentlessly, mostly at Hakuba’s expense. It’s not that he isn’t happy to have his friends nearby, to be the center of attention for a moment, to make people smile and laugh with him. His feelings haven’t changed, but he can’t quite ignore the lump that sits heavily in his chest every time he’s reminded of Shinichi’s absence.
At the end of the school day, Aoko brings out a small chocolate cake for him and his heart practically melts at her kindness. He devours it eagerly, thanking her with a mouthful of food while she cringes at his gross habits. He says goodbye to them with a smile.
When he shuts his door, though, he just can’t keep up the act. His poker face crumbles into something distinctly painful. His eyes sting again but this time he can’t blame it on the lighting. It doesn’t matter though, because there’s no one here that he has to pretend for.
He misses him. Every day is a constant reminder of the presence that’s no longer by his side. They’d been nearly inseparable before Shinichi had disappeared; now Kaito’s heart just aches whenever he thinks about him. How he can’t see him, or hold him, or kiss him senseless. It hurts to think about him, to hope that he’ll see him soon when every almost turns into a not this time.
His mind helpfully supplies him with the memory of the last conversation he’d had with Shinichi, nearly two months ago now.
“What do you mean you’re not coming? I haven’t seen you in months!” Kaito shouted in anger, hoping the loudless would cover up the hurt in his voice. After all, if Shinichi wasn’t even willing to visit him on his birthday, a day he knew was important to Kaito, it meant he was never going to come any of those times he’d promised. The thought was painful, so Kaito shut it down immediately.
Shinichi took a minute to respond, and Kaito stewed in his anger silently as he waited. When he finally spoke, the detective’s voice sounded strained and apologetic, but Kaito couldn’t find it in him to sympathize right now, “...I’m sorry, I’m just really tied up in this case right now. I can’t.”
If he was going to act like this, then Kaito could too. In an act of pettiness, he pulled together his best poker face, washed the negative emotions away and violated the oath he had made with Shinichi not to use it on him. He smiled before he spoke, knowing that the gesture would translate, even just by phone. “Okay, Meitantei. If that’s how you want it to be.”
“Kaito,” Shinichi warned, fully understanding the implications, but Kaito was done listening.
“I have to go. I’ll just ask Ran to let me know when you call her, so I know you haven’t died.” He squeezed his eyes shut at the mere thought of something happening to the detective, but he also knew that he couldn't keep up with whatever game Shinichi thought he was playing at.
“No, Kaito, wait—” He hung up quickly, unable to listen to the voice on the other end, filled with desperation, and not willing to bear the pain of the excuses that would follow it.
He asks Ran to meet up with him later, the one other person who understands Shinichi the most, and once he’s there he can’t hold back his tears anymore. He falls into her comforting arms, sitting on the couch in the middle of the detective agency, completely uncaring of the other two bodies in the room as he cries and cries, spilling all his insecurities, his pain, his words of love, into the shoulder of her jacket. He feels hopeless and scared and alone and he misses him, wants him back like he’s never wanted anything else in his life. But he’s not coming.
He had hoped that would be the last time he would feel that type of pain so acutely, but here he is, fighting the ache in his throat and the tightness in his chest, desperately trying to hold himself together. He makes his way to his father’s hidden room, seeking any sort of comfort. He refuses to let himself cry anymore, but he can’t help when a couple of tears spill over anyway, even as he wipes at them furiously.
He breathes deeply once he’s passed through the painting, a few calming breaths as he clicks the door shut behind him and heads towards the wardrobe where his suit is kept. He puts it on with deliberately careful movements, feeling more confident in his Kid persona. For all his efforts to soothe himself by connecting with his father, he actually does feel a little bit better, at least enough for his vision to quit blurring over as he begins passing the time tinkering with the mechanics of his card gun.
He takes to the task with artificial focus, refusing to let his mind go back to thoughts that have caused him nothing but harm. This focus is probably why he doesn’t notice as the room’s ‘door’ opens. He does, however, hear it click shut, tensing and dropping his project when he realizes that his mom and Jii-chan are probably the only two people that know about this place and neither of them are even in the country right now.
Whipping his head towards the intruder does absolutely nothing to dissuade his panic or confusion. In fact, the figure shuffling before him, in the form of an incredibly nervous Tantei-kun, only serves to amplify the baffled haze settling over his thoughts.
Completely thrown off guard, working on practically no sleep, and having had a near emotional breakdown just half an hour before, Kaito’s first response is none of the things that he should be doing. Rather than figure out how the hell Conan Edogawa of all people knew about this place or, maybe, if he’s about to be swarmed by the police, his body decides to sit there, frozen, and gape stupidly.
Kaito’s lack of a proper response seems to relieve the little detective of some of his nervousness, and Kaito watches as determination tramples the insecurity in his expression, slamming his poker face on when he comes to his senses and watching warily as the detective moves closer to him.
When their eyes meet, Conan’s have settled into amusement more than anything else, and Kaito’s nerves hum with irritation at the familiar, smug expression on his face, the one currently mocking his surprise.
Despite the obviously strange situation, though, Kaito doesn’t necessarily feel like he’s in danger. But he still has to ask, “To what do I owe the pleasure, Tantei-kun?”
Conan doesn’t answer, instead pulling out a small package from his jacket and dropping it into Kaito’s lap before averting his eyes.
Kaito just raises a brow at him, understanding that he’s been given a gift but still clueless to the how’s or why’s. He would appreciate some clarity.
The detective breathes deeply, twice, looking as if he’s attempting to calm his nerves. “I...heard it’s your birthday.”
“M’hm, heard,” he puts quotes around the word, not buying it for a second, “And who...told you this information, if I may ask?”
Blue, blue eyes bore into Kaito’s own. They’ve never really been this close before, but now when Kaito stares back, his heart pangs as those eyes remind him so much of Shinichi’s. Even that determined expression, the one still firmly plastered on Conan’s face, looks the same.
He’s getting so wrapped up in his thoughts he barely hears the answer, uttered in the form of a name.
One word has Kaito recoiling from their strange little bubble, his gift falling to the floor forgotten as he moves away, but he doesn’t get too far before the other boy is grabbing his arms to keep him in place.
“Kaito, wait.” He calls out, and Kaito can’t even be shocked at such a familiar use of his actual name, because those words ring in his head like the last time he had talked to Shinichi, the last time when he’d been so mad and Shinichi had sounded so desperate as Kaito had hung up, “Wait—”
“Kaito.” His eyes are wide and confused, he doesn’t understand what’s happening but he feels like he should, like he has all the pieces but his brain just isn’t putting them together correctly.
“I know I’m late,” Conan looks worried now, like he has something important to say and is worried that Kaito will vanish in a cloud of pink smoke before he can say it, which he guesses is pretty accurate, considering. “But I came to say I’m sorry for brushing you off and I hope you can forgive me and that I didn’t mean to hurt you or Ran or anyone. It just didn’t hit me until recently how much pain you were in because of me, and I—”
“You’re Shinichi.” The words leave his lips like the air from his lungs, like they’re a piece of him, an exhale he has to take so that he can breathe again. Conan—Shinichi—looks at him through an anxious gaze, not sure what to do with himself but clearly not denying the accusation.
“Wait,” His brain backtracks, “You’re Shinichi? —but? I don’t–?” He’s not sure what he wants to ask, so his mouth stutters over a few unintelligible phrases. “How do I really know it’s you?” is what he finally settles on, looking at the little detective skeptically.
Conan rolls his eyes in exasperation, and if this really is just some ruse, than Conan is one hell of an actor because Kaito is floored at how much a relaxed Conan acts just like his boyfriend who vanished mysteriously and suspiciously right before this kid showed up at Mouri’s.
In answer of his question, the detective leans closer to him, whispering something into his ear. One and a half sentences is all Kaito needs before he’s roughly pushing him away at the shoulders and blushing profusely. “Okay!” he shouts, cutting off any more ridiculously private words from coming out of the boy’s mouth.
“Yup, got it, I believe you, just stop.” The detective doesn’t even seem phased by what he’d said, though he can’t help but snicker at this magician’s franic response.
The two of them sit in a comfortable silence for a few moments before Kaito’s fingers drum impatiently where they’re still resting on Shinichi’s shoulders. Curiosity gets the best of him, but he’s still tentative when he asks, “Shinichi, what...happened?”
Shinichi reaches forward to pull the hat off the thief’s head, heaving out a tired sigh, one which betrays more years of experience and pain than this child-like body could have possibly lived through.
“It’s a long story, but I’ll tell you if you still wanna hear it.” Kaito responds by tugging the other boy down next to him, settling in like Shinichi is about to read him a story or something.
By the end of his explanation, Kaito is completely dumbstruck. Also extremely worried. Shinichi had been going through this, alone, the whole time? My boyfriend is an idiot. He thinks to himself, looking at the shrunken detective again.
“So…?” Shinichi asks, awkwardly.
“Just give me a minute. I mean, it isn’t every day that your boyfriend tells you they’ve been clubbed and shrunk by an evil organization dressed in monotone colors.”
“Oh my god you’re ridiculous.” Kaito grins at the response, something so infectious that Shinichi can’t help but respond in kind.
“I missed you,” Kaito states plainly. He’s got nothing to hide; it’s not like he didn’t make it incredibly obvious in the first place. He pulls the detective into his side, relishing in the warm contact.
“I know.” He curls in a bit, eyes moving away from him in his guilt, “I missed you too.”
“You’re not going to... disappear again, are you?” He squeezes the other boy a bit tighter as he asks, voice wavering just slightly. Shinichi turns back towards him, expression serious if not a little incredulous. Kaito stares back in apprehension, truly unsure.
Shinichi sighs. “Baarou, if I wasn’t going to stick around, I wouldn’t have come here at all.” Kaito grins; that’s all he needs to say. He still has questions for sure, but right now he’s content in knowing that the detective is safe. He flops back onto the wood flooring, suddenly tired.
They lie down, side by side on the hard floor of his father’s room, for quite some time, comfortable in their mutual silence and both exhausted from the events of the day. Shinichi may even be asleep, Kaito hasn’t checked, too lazy to even bother lifting his head to look.
Kaito, with a million thoughts still running through his head, wonders aloud, “What made you decide to come back?”
His question is answered with a sigh, confirming that the detective really is awake. It also earns him a sheepish glance, though he doesn’t really see it, too busy staring at the ceiling as he waits for a response. “Well, I am Conan, after all. I kinda… saw— er, realized how much I was hurting you, and I couldn’t just stand by anymore knowing that, so...”
Kaito’s eyes grow large, picking up on Shinichi’s subtlety as easily has he had before, as if he had never left. “Oh man, you were there for that,” he realizes. He distinctly remembers a tiny detective, sitting there quietly as he bawled his eyes out to Ran. He covers his face with his free hand, hiding the blush on his face quite ineffectively, “I may have said some...pretty embarrassing things that day. About my feelings, and... about you...” He trails off, before returning with attempted gusto. “It was a moment of weakness, I swear I wasn’t actually that torn up about—”
“I love you too.” Shinichi interrupts, and Kaito’s mouth snaps shut as his heart warms with adoration. He turns his head towards the other boy, finding Shinichi’s face twisted in embarrassment, blushing brightly in a rare show of shyness. Kaito sits up to properly face him.
“Aw, Shin-chan!” Shinichi’s his nose scrunches up at the nickname. Kaito just grins before throwing himself bodily onto the detective. He ignores the pained grunt, declaring dramatically, “You’re adorable. I’ll wait for you, my shrunken love!”
“Argh, Kaito get off of me!” Shinichi shouts through labored breath, having difficulty taking in air with so much weight lying on top of him. “I’m in a child’s body right now! You’ll crush me, idiot!”
Kaito relents, but only a little, staring at the detective in delight. They still had a lot to discuss, about the situation, about the past, but for now Kaito was happy just having his detective back. And if Shinichi looked back up at him and smiled just a bit bashfully himself, looking just as happy, well that was their little secret.