At least the baby was weaned.
Sort of. Probably.
Well, he wasn't complaining about the oatmeal yet. Or projectile vomiting. He'd proved he had a healthy set of lungs earlier in the morning when Kaito tried to put him down for a nap, and then had fallen asleep anyway. After that Kaito went to race around the house, looking for potential baby clothes his mom would have stored away somewhere, finding what he hoped would be appropriate food, making lists of all the stuff he'd need to buy, bombarding his mom with highly cryptic demands for assistance, and generally thriving on the edge of his own very motivating panic.
Now he was mostly waiting for his surprise offspring's other father to be done with junior high school for the day, which wouldn't be for another four hours.
Kaito had four whole hours left. Surely that was long enough to start cleaning out the Kid lair. Make it into another bedroom, maybe. Get rid of all the useless stuff inside. All the gadgets. The newspaper clippings. The gemology reference books. The friggin' car.
His father's white suits and spare top hats.
Wasn't like there was any reason to keep them anymore, and he was done with that stuff anyway, wasn't he?
He stayed in his exhausted sprawl against the couch. The ceiling was incredibly fascinating today.
Besides if he moved away the kid might roll - upslope, somehow - on the cushions and land on the ... very thick futon Kaito had placed on the floor. And a master thief would likely be totally unable to move a sleeping baby from the couch to the futon itself, oh, maybe twenty inches apart. And, and, shit, he just didn't want to do it.
It wasn't his ability to move that was in question.
Every time he started to imagine cleaning the Kid lair his mind shied away. He should do it, shouldn't he? Wouldn't it be appropriate?
Would his mom he angry? As far as he knew she hadn't touched the room since he started to use it, and likely before then - the thick layer of dust had been undisturbed. Maybe she'd want to keep it as it was, a preserved memory.
But his father's legacy had done its job, and it was... it was time to... He gritted his teeth, glared at the ceiling. Lying to people was fine, but coddling himself? It just made him mad at himself.
The root of the problem was that as long as he was Kid, even though it was for revenge, his father was still, in a way, there. Being imprisoned and condemned as Kid would have ended Kaito's life, but Kid the Phantom Thief would still have been there, even caught. Would have been preserved. Pinned like a magnificent - if dead - butterfly.
But he was alive and his father was dead and Kid was over. He had to say goodbye again - goodbye for good, this time - and he didn't want to.
Someone knocked brisk and loud at the door.
He wasn't expecting anyone but Conan and the sound came from too high up for the runty thirteen-year-old he was. Kaito was moving in the next second, swinging the baby up. If the person at the door was Black Organization, escaped from yesterday's massive takedown... The thought sent adrenaline rushing in his blood like a lightning bolt.
Kaito was at the closest secret panel that led to his father's hideout in maybe two seconds, if that much. The baby blinked at him as he swung him down on the floor. There were tools and parts in there, potential accidents everywhere, but the baby might actually not get into any trouble, or at worse get a couple of scrapes. Greeting Black Org with a baby in his arms would only guarantee to get them both killed.
Another three knocks rang as Kaito was swinging the panel closed, sharp and precisely spaced out. He breathed out and sagged briefly, tension flowing away.
The baby was starting to fuss; things had gone so fast he seemed to still be processing the sudden movement, but from the way his little face scrunched up he was going to make his displeasure known shortly. Kaito made an executive decision and took him back. Then he closed the panel.
By the time he checked the door - it really was Hakuba, pastel-green tie and all - and opened, the baby was howling shrill displeasure in his ear. Hakuba stared at the both of them, dumbstruck as Kaito had never seen him.
"Shh, shh, stop crying - hey there, Hakuba-kun."
Hakuba wrestled his expression back under control, though his eyebrows stayed arched a bit too high for the cultured confusion he was shooting for. "Kuroba-kun. ...I don't know why you catching me by surprise is still a surprise after all this time."
Kaito laughed and stepped back to allow him in. "What brings you?" he asked over the baby's cries, and used him as a cover to quickly scan the room for incriminating evidence.
He pretended he couldn't feel Hakuba's sharp, watchful look, patted the baby's back and swung him a bit too fast, prompting another round of howling. Hakuba winced slightly and leaned down to switch his shoes for guest slippers, but the area was narrow and a surprise burst of movement from the baby ended up with Hakuba getting kicked in the side of the head.
"Whoa there, Mister Crankypants." He inspected the baby's foot - there was no way it was hard enough to dent Hakuba's head; he worried more about the other way around - and got his nose batted at with tiny kitten-sharp nails. "Ow. Alright, I need to put him down, come on."
Hakuba followed him to the coffee table without a word, settled in the armchair without looking away. Kaito was used to the scrutiny, and pretended he didn't notice.
"Want a drink?"
"Please don't bother yourself on my account. You seem overworked already."
The look he sent the wriggling, whimpering child in his arms was full of questions, but Kaito asked his own question first. "So what are you doing here?" He perched on the arm of the couch, rubbing the baby's back.
"Ah. Well." A long sigh, a longer look, that seemed to be trying to read him down to his component molecules. "Aoko-kun called me yesterday night. You weren't home, though."
"I have to admit," he said, voice cautious, "I had my own hypothesis as to..." A pregnant pause followed, which Kaito filled with 'where you were,' and then Hakuba continued, "why you would send... hm... Does it count as a break-up letter when you weren't dating at the time?"
Kaito let out a little humorless laugh. "We've been on and off so much, I think it does."
None of their previous offs had felt like 'not dating', not really, just 'be right back, taking a coffee break'. But this letter... Clean break, clean goodbye - not a breathing pause but an ending, none of that 'you get on my nerves but when you're gone I miss you', 'I want to let you in but if I really gave in and told you all I'm hiding from you, you would be the one to leave me' dance they'd danced since high school.
He'd kind of assumed he would be in prison by the time she received it. Instead here he stood, home and still free, and for a fleeting moment he wondered whether he could still take it back.
Except that there was only one other explanation for that breakup letter he could use now, if he wanted to stay free to raise his child, and it barred the way back to her just as thoroughly.
"Yesterday evening. Well." He smiled, not very sincerely. "I was meeting with this guy's other parent."
You could say a lot of things about Hakuba - that he was stiff, arrogant, pompous - but slow-witted wasn't on the list. "His other - you're -"
"Yep. Turns out I'm a father."
Hakuba stared at the child fussing in Kaito's arms, who resembled him as much as a one-year-old could possibly resemble an adult. There was no denying it.
"Single father, now," Kaito specified, voice a little too forcibly casual, and felt a little sick at using his reaction to the thought of what the news would do to Aoko to make it seem more believable. Didn't seem like he could ever stop lying to her in some way.
"What happened?" Hakuba asked, frowning.
Kaito looked down at the child and tried to distract him from his snuffling, tickling his cheeks and making little soothing noises. "What usually happens in those cases?" Damn it, Hakuba, he thought, stop looking for the story and just accept that I cheated on Aoko and that's it.
"You didn't date other people during your breaks. You said you were too busy."
Shit. Freaky detective memory. He looked away. "One-night-stands don't take long."
"You do realize I've long since learned to notice your evasions, yes?"
Aw damn it. He just had to push now, after bringing up all that emotional baggage Kaito had decided to put behind him. "What kind of hidden truth do you want there to be in this?" he demanded, unable to hide his frustration, gesturing to cover the child, the baby bottles, the explosion of papers on the coffee table, the futon stuck between it and the couch.
Hakuba looked, slow and thoughtful, and then he smiled, just a small, wry twist of the lips.
"That birth certificate has no first name on it."
"And the ink doesn't look quite dry."
Goddamnit. Groaning, he flopped backward into the couch. The baby squeaked in surprise at the change of position; Kaito rubbed his back to settle him down, or try to. He really wasn't at the top of his game today. He could just imagine Conan rolling his eyes at him.
Anything - anything at all - that might be used to take away custody of his son wasn't going to pass his lips, it didn't matter that he couldn't imagine Hakuba deliberately doing that to him. He stayed stubbornly silent, eyes drilling metaphoric holes in the ceiling.
"I believe you."
Kaito threw him a sharp look.
"But there's more to this than you're saying."
He wasn't going to drop it. Kaito considered telling him the truth. Pandora? No, if the existence of magic had broken Conan's brain, it might pulverize Hakuba's, and Conan had been therefor its biggest magic trick. (He gave the baby a squeeze, a light one even though he wanted to hug tighter.) But the rest...
There had to be members of Black Organization left out there, it wasn't possible that they'd all been caught or even identified yet. And while he was sure Conan would stay on top of the investigation, it wasn't bad to have several potential sources of information, and...
"I just want to know why," Hakuba said quietly.
... and he was thinking about using his feeling to manipulate someone again.
In his strange, 'I will catch you and root out all your secrets' way, Hakuba was a friend. Kaito was tired of lying to his friends. That was supposed to be over.
Every step of the way to becoming the Kaitou Kid, he had embraced, loved even, but in the process Kuroba Kaito had turned into someone the Kid didn't like very much.
"Once upon a time," he told the baby, who stared back at him and attempted to steal his nose. He smiled against the tiny hand and its kitten-claw nails, pressed a kiss to the soft palm. "There was... hm. A magpie. The strongest, bravest, most daring magpie who ever flew. ... It liked shiny things. Hey, it was a magpie after all. They're like that."
Hakuba's back straightened as he came to attention like a hunting dog.
"Then black boars came tromping through the forest with their big hooves, and they couldn't fly in the air like the magpie did. They were big and heavy, and kind of ugly, to be truthful. But they wanted shiny things too, so they told the magpie, get us this shiny thing, right there at the top of the tree!
"The magpie said no, because it only flew for itself, and while it was happy that its baby chick and the neighboring squirrels liked watching its barrel rolls and figure-eights, that wasn't the same at all.
"So they had it for dinner."
His eyes stung. He made himself smile.
"But they still didn't have the shiny thing they wanted so much, and that was only what they deserved. And when the chick grew up and put on its plumage de soirée, oh, those silly boars, they didn't know that was just the colors magpies came in. What happened? they asked. But it was so yummy in our tummies."
The baby was drooling on him, gumming on his shirt. He laughed under his breath, past the knot in his throat.
"Give us the shiny, magpie! they said, but the magpie knew they had e-eaten -" Aw, shit. Not now --
"Eaten the father magpie," Hakuba continued, softly, cautiously.
"So the baby magpie knew better than to give them any shiny," Kaito said, his voice wrestled back under control. "And he flew and he flew, through the forest and through the field and through the night, and right to the big city. He knew they'd follow him anyway, because they were stubborn and silly, and whaddya know, humans have the best shinies. But humans also have hunters, with big, big rifles, and now it just so happens humans also have themselves some tasty boar pies."
There was a long stretch of silence.
"Did you like my story, Hakuba-kun? I know he doesn't understand yet, but I thought I should practice."
"It was... instructive."
Hakuba gave a sudden, decisive nod and got up. Kaito pushed himself up on an elbow to watch him, startled.
"I would share a story of my own, but sadly all I have to offer is a long, boring ramble about my latest case... Though by tomorrow we should have enough new information to plug some plot-holes and untangle it into a proper narrative. Perhaps you'd like to listen to it, if you're not too busy."
"Ah. Sure," he managed somehow. That was it? No more questions? No 'That's nice and touching but magpies simply don't stop stealing anymore than they stop flying'? No 'This still does not tell me where the baby comes from'? "If we time it with one of his naps, that should be fine."
"I'll use one of my breaks to come back tomorrow, then. No, don't get up, I'll show myself out."
Kaito blinked at the back of Hakuba's head, caught flatfooted. 'On one of my breaks' meant 'off the clock' meant 'off the record' meant 'not as a detective.'
"Ah... By the way - I am still noticing your evasions." Hakuba threw him a faint smirk from the door, but one that seemed almost to include him in the mocking, instead of as a defensive wall. "Well, then, Kuroba-kun... Egg-kun."
He left, closing the door behind him with a little nodding salute. Kaito stayed on the couch for another minute or two before he could make himself move.
He swung his legs to the floor until he was sitting more or less properly. Stared down at the child, who was fussing again, the squirmy little beast.
An egg, huh.
His own baby magpie. He chuckled under his breath, pressed a kiss to soft, dark hair.
His father was still gone. He'd never meet his grandson.
His father had a grandson even so. Kaito would have to teach the kid that. Tell him about Kuroba Toichi. Toichi's legacy.
He hadn't cried since the funeral, not in however many years it had been (fifteen years, three months, four days), but now he laid back down on the couch and cried for the father he was laying to rest again - for good - let it all go in big, racking sobs.
Then the baby peed on him, and he laughed in between tears and got back up to live again.