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Saguru stood at the edge of a rooftop, looking out over the mass of humanity in front of the museum where Kaitou Kid had just stolen a massive sapphire. The faintest echoes of their delighted screams still rang in his ears, the pale wedge of Kid's hangglider still barely in sight to the east.

What a mess, Saguru thought, pinching the bridge of his nose. If he hadn't gotten the text in time... had been another minute slower in deducing the right building, had found the rooftop door locked as it should've been... but no use dwelling on what-ifs.

He dropped his hand and arranged his expression into an icy mask as a man in a gray trenchcoat stepped out of the lobby, several stories below. Not a moment too soon: Snake glanced back up at the rooftop where Saguru stood, all sharp eyes piercing Saguru even from this distance, searching for weaknesses.

Not that he would find any. The assassin was a brute, nothing more than raw animal cunning and too much ambition to keep to his place in the world. He'd shoot Saguru without a second thought if he thought he could get away with it, if Saguru showed any sign of not being meaner than him.

Fortunately, bullets made for excellent incentive in method acting. Saguru waited, meeting the piercing stare with a frozen wall of his own. After an interminable moment, Snake turned away and walked down the street, his gray trenchcoat vanishing around a corner with a nearly feline flick.

Saguru didn't so much collapse as let his demeanor thaw a few degrees, let the hand come back up to press unshaking fingers against his forehead.

What on earth were Snake's masters thinking? "Oh yes, shoot Kaitou Kid on live national television," Saguru muttered, flicking his gaze up past his hand in the direction of Kid's escape, though the glider had vanished into the night. "That'll keep us out of the public eye." He made a disdainful sound in his throat, pretended it didn't sound miserable. "Imbiciles..."

A quiet click, the all-too-familiar ratcheting of a chamber, and cool metal pressed just above Saguru's ear. "It seems to be my turn to demand answers, Tantei-san."

Saguru went cold. Dammit all to hell. "For missing the climax of your performance?" he tried, the words coming out light and calm.

Kid's gun pressed harder against his head -- razor cards, of course, but given that even ordinary blanks were lethal at this range, a razor card would hardly be less so. "You would do well to learn some prudence, Snake," Kid quoted in Saguru's voice. "Shoot Kaitou Kid on live national television, that'll keep us out of the public eye."

"I suppose it was too much to hope for," Saguru murmured. Too much to hope that Kid hadn't witnessed it all. Stupid decoy gliders. "Should I quote you, then, as well? 'That is for you to deduce'?"

"I'm not coming up with anything pleasant, Tantei-san," Kid warned.

Obviously. There was only one possible reason for Saguru to have any hold over a Syndicate assassin, and it dovetailed all too well with his indiscreet mutterings. Saguru let his gaze fall to the dirty concrete. Had he just kept quiet... had Kid escaped upon his glider as he'd pretended, instead of sneaking away in this direction... had that idiot Snake shown a spark of critical thinking ability... had Saguru not been... but, again, no use for what-ifs.

"You seem to think I had a choice in my membership, Kid-san."

He could feel when the implication hit Kid: the gun's pressure lifted an infinitesimal fraction, and Saguru burst into movement. Spin, grab, twist and down... and with Kid's reflexes, he had the thief faceup rather than facedown on the concrete, arms twisted to a painful angle and Saguru's knee very close to breaking his hip. But Kid's damned scimitar grin didn't so much as waver, icy and hateful despite whatever pain Saguru was causing.

The grin's sharp edge twisted in Saguru's guts. He'd never wanted Kaitou Kid to hate him... never wanted him to know...

"I was born into this," slipped out of his mouth, so very far from what he'd intended to say. Something flickered through Kid's one visible eye, there and gone before Saguru could identify it. The icy grin remained, making a deep-seated pain flare red in Saguru's vision. "Four generations... both sides." Kid's grin slipped ever-so-slightly: he had to know Saguru's father was the Superintendent of the police. "I've lost relatives too weak to stomach the work. They slip up, get caught, get killed..."

Just like Saguru would be if anyone found out he was talking. His mouth snapped shut, stomach twisting. If anyone had heard... but they couldn't, they couldn't. They mustn't, or he and Kid would be bleeding out by now...

"This is why you work thefts, isn't it, Tantei-san."

Saguru's head jerked up. He blinked the world back into focus, finding Kid's horrible grin had blunted almost imperceptibly. "... what?"

Kid looked like he would've shrugged, had Saguru not been pinning him so painfully. "Except for me, the cases you tend to take aren't big enough to be Syndicate. Are they."

... well. Yes.

"They assigned you to Japan to handle me," Kid continued. Saguru felt his face prickle, going warm, but Kid wasn't finished. A quirk of an eyebrow, and he added, "And since Kuroba Kaito isn't dead, just-in-case, you haven't relayed your suspicions to your dear family. In fact," he mused, "I would go so far as to guess that you've told them your histrionics over Kuroba-kun are to make me underestimate your ability."

Why did Kid have to be so damned good at this?

"So," Kid murmured, "you don't want to die." Obviously, Saguru thought. "But you'd rather die than kill. Or see me caught," he flexed illustratively under Saguru, "which would amount to the same."

"You really should be a detective," Saguru told him. Then Saguru could be the criminal, and they'd all have their neat little places in the world, and Saguru could let himself snap and not be sickened by the whole mess anymore.

"I'll take that as a compliment," Kid said wryly. He twisted under Saguru's hands: the world flipped, and Saguru suddenly found himself on his own back, a shadow-faced Kid draped over him and white-clad arms holding him close. "You're a better actor than I gave you credit for, Tantei-san."

Heat pricked at the corners of Saguru's eyes. Kid didn't believe him? Things that Saguru had kept bottled up for years, and Kid didn't--

"So I'm going to have to trust my own deductions," Kid continued, leaning in close. "And since I'm still breathing, I think... my Hakuba's the real one."

His--?!

Kid's mouth pressed softly against Saguru's own.

A moment of utter shock -- Kid was his opponent, whichever affiliation Saguru claimed, since Kid opposed police and Syndicate alike, so why -- then all the remaining tension fled from Saguru's muscles, and he went pliant under Kid.

Kid surged over him. Gloved hands pushed his arms up, sliding under his shoulders; Saguru clung to the back of Kid's jacket, under the shielding cape, and opened his mouth to swallow muttered words.

"Let me--" A knee pressed between Saguru's own and upwards. "Let me in-- let me help--"

"Yes--" Skilled fingers at his belt, his fly, shoving at his waistband and down, fabric bunching around Saguru's knees, catching for a moment on one ankle before falling free-- stone scraped against his skin, barely there before strong hands lifted his hips. A brush of movement, and when Kid settled Saguru back against the rooftop, he felt the same thick canvas of Kid's cape between him and the cold concrete.

Kid never wanted to hurt people. Wanted to protect them, in his own twisted way... wanted...

More murmurings into Saguru's mouth. "fffk... nvr... dunvr..." Saguru tugged away, air rasping cold into his mouth, snatching a few more words from Kid's. "--never fuck me over--"

Nn, never... Kid could top all he liked... oh. Wait. The second meaning of the word cut through. Never betray Kid.

Never. "Never-- please--"

Something clicked, and then wet, bare fingers trailed between Saguru's legs. Saguru's eyes flew wide, staring almost blindly straight into Kid's shadowed face. One of Saguru's eyes was reflected in the monocle, while Kid's own was dark with far more than simple lust.

A gentle finger pressed insistently at Saguru's entrance. Eyes pinned to that dark stare, arms tight around Kid's shoulders and hands clenched in his jacket, Saguru focused. Flexed against that probing finger, relaxed-- it slid in easily and stilled. He could read a sort of surprise in that, surprise that didn't make it to Kid's face.

Saguru waited, getting used to it, and soon enough a second finger brushed hesitantly next to the first, slipping in gently, carefully.

There was no evidence to support it, but Saguru knew -- knew -- that Kid wasn't casual. Not about this. Get a little carried away, yes, they could both do that... but they both lived with good control, could stop anything at any time... if Saguru didn't let Kid continue, he would stop...

A third finger pressed in, and now Saguru felt the slight burn, the warmth of stretched muscles.

... and if Kid didn't care for Saguru enough, he wouldn't have started in the first place. If he didn't trust him...

Saguru hooked a leg over Kid's hip, fine cloth sliding against his inner thigh. Fingers worked inside him, trying to distract him -- focus, tear a hand away from Kid's jacket, fumble for a belt, find only the button to his slacks. It slipped easily through the buttonhole, Saguru's fingertips slipping in over thickly woven nylon -- the glider harness -- and past the thin cotton of Kid's shirt to cup firmly around Kid. A careful tug at the zipper made it open, more from the pressure of Saguru's hand than any dexterity.

Kid's fingers left Saguru empty even as he pushed at Kid's trousers, a wet hand helping pull the fine fabric down, then bare skin pressed between Saguru's legs and a blunter pressure did the same to his opening.

It burned going in, slow and inexorable, filling Saguru with a strangely liquid warmth that welled up and up. The heat squeezed at his heart, lumped in his throat and pushed all the pain of being Syndicate -- of murder, blackmail, bombings, his lost relatives and the ever-lasting threat of being the next to fail -- out in hot tears.

A soft weight nudged snugly up against Saguru's ass, and Kid went still, breath coming harsh in Saguru's ear. "You... okay...?"

Saguru swallowed past the lump in his throat. "Move." Kid huffed, half chuckle and half groan, and pulled slowly back. The emptiness drew deep inside Saguru, sucking at the grief again... then Kid thrust forward, filling him again and forcing the pain up and out. "Yes," Saguru hissed. "In me-- please--" Take it all away.

The rhythm came easily after that. Out, condensing his terrors; in, giving them no room to stay.

Kid's head bent to Saguru's, a hot mouth against his wet cheek, kissing away the tears as they squeezed free and fell. The move shifted Kid inside him, and on the next thrust Saguru saw starbursts and shattered, little pieces flying away.

He vaguely could hear the cry tearing through the lump in his throat, feel his eyes burning and wet, Kid moving hard in and on him--

-- and then--

-- then--

-- the starbursts went black in a purifying rush of pleasure--

-- and Saguru eventually came back to find himself limp and cradled under a still, quiet Kid.

Slowly, he blinked up at the thief. Quiet. He felt... not icy anymore, not buried or walled in, just... quiet.

"Tantei-san?"

Saguru couldn't muster up an answer. But he felt a smile unfurl on his face, saw it reflected, open and almost sweet, in Kid's monocle.

Kid's own grin gentled to answer it, and he brushed his lips lightly across Saguru's. "Okay," he whispered. "Good." He didn't move away, holding himself carefully over Saguru, until the strange lessening of pressure and slide out alerted Saguru to the fact that Kid had still been in him, had come as well somewhere in the whole mess.

Then, with a slightly rueful quirk of that gentle smile, Kid sat up and fished a handkerchief out of his pocket, unknotting it from a colorful string of them. Saguru watched, vaguely admiring the hint of red to Kid's face, as he wiped himself up and pulled his trousers back into place. Another handkerchief off the string went to pat the tears from Saguru's face, thin cotton doing very little to disguise the slight caress in Kid's ungloved fingertips. But when Kid blushingly reached for Saguru's groin with the cloth, Saguru caught at his wrist.

One wide eye met his, startled.

What could he say? He wanted something of Kid to stay, he supposed. The thief himself obviously couldn't, and the chances of this ever being able to occur again... well. "Let it be," Saguru rasped.

"... all right," Kid murmured, bewildered. He didn't try to tug his hand free, just let the handkerchief drop to give Saguru at least a modicum of modesty, then slid to curl up at Saguru's side. Despite the closeness, Saguru could feel Kid drawing away, slipping back behind his own professional mask.

It didn't hurt. Saguru needed to regain his own distance as well. Though perhaps not quite so quickly... not while he had a chance to enjoy being unstifled.

But it couldn't last. After a long moment, Kid's free hand scrubbed through his hair, knocking his hat to roll on the rooftop. Though Saguru didn't really try to look, he could tell that Kid's arm was carefully blocking any view of his face. "You wouldn't happen to have plans to dismantle the Syndicate from within, would you?" Kid asked.

Ah. Back to business, if not quite as usual. "You do know me too well."

Teeth flashed in the moonlight. "Good."

-0-0-0

The note had been laying quietly atop the rice in Saguru's bento, earlier that afternoon at school. 6:05 pm. Ito-Yakado rooftop. Alone. Not a heist. It disintegrated into his rice even as he read it, and had turned out to taste faintly of ginger, coordinating well with the grilled fish in the other tray.

Saguru didn't know why Kid had summoned him to the retail store, or why he'd written what was probably his first non-heist note. But, standing upon the cool concrete, looking down at the cityscape, he figured he could at least guess part of it: in this part of Ekoda, Ito-Yakado was the tallest building around. No lines-of-sight for watchers or snipers.

A footstep behind him, too light to be Kid's, and Saguru whirled. A small girl stood by the rooftop door, her face impassive, despite her white-knuckled grip upon the painted steel.

Saguru blinked once. Twice. The cool expression, the bobbed hair so close to his own shade, a face he couldn't possibly be seeing in person again... Abruptly, he realized he was staring rudely into frightened blue eyes. "My apologies," he got out. "You looked like someone I once knew."

"I..." The child's voice was even the same, though it caught in her throat. "I should. 'Guru-kun."

Saguru froze. That name. The face and the voice and that name... but it couldn't be! It was impossible. Beyond impossible, even: the girl was over ten years too young, not to mention alive.

"... Shiho-kun?"

Her mouth quirked in a sad, familiar little smirk. "Sherry," she agreed.

Kid wouldn't. He would never torment Saguru like this, much less drag innocent children into some cruel, dangerous prank. Which meant... Saguru was hallucinating. He had to be. But... surely he hadn't hit a breaking point without warning? Perhaps a drug, but that also didn't fit Kid's MO.

His heartbeat pounded in his ears, surroundings blurring out of his field of focus -- another argument in favor of a hallucinogen, though it argued just as much for shock -- as the rooftop seemed to glide backwards, as he stepped towards the hallucination and reached out...

The child's cheek was warm under his fingertips.

A hallucinogen strong enough to recreate tactile sensations should have him long since seeing purple elephants.

Not a prank. Not a drug. Certainly not a psychotic break. So when you have eliminated the impossible...

"Shiho-kun," he repeated, cupping his hand around his favorite cousin's wet face, fine tea-blonde hair catching between his fingers. Small, warm hands curled around his wrist. "You're alive." Shock threatened to squeeze out a grin as wide as Kid's could be, but failed before an even more obvious observation broke through. "You're seven."

A wry, lopsided smirk broke across Shiho's face. "An unexpected side effect," she informed him. More tears brimmed up, slid under Saguru's thumb and down her other cheek.

Unexpected side effect? "Of what?" Saguru asked incredulously.

"Life!" And, much to Saguru's shock, Shiho began to laugh.