Hello, all. For the record, I am alive and reasonably well. Given that my sight has not recovered, I have had a great deal of trouble logging on or proofreading my own work, especially as much of my time is taken up in the care of the horses, even more since getting help from the neighbor's kids is not an option. Most of my neighbors did come down sick, although only one got it badly enough to be hospitalized (and he is expected to make a full recovery), so I have to muddle through on my own.

As of about a year ago, my vision stabilized at 'extremely blurry, glasses ineffective', and given that I've never had particularly good luck with backlit anything, whenever the site asks for confirmation that I'm a human being, I can't actually do it. I had also gotten rid of my internet - what was the point, when using it on my own was so frustrating, after all? But since the places where I would usually go for such things are closed, I eventually gave in and got it reactivated. Since then, I have been checking once a month or so as to whether I could log on (and maybe find an audio confirmation option), and today it did let me on without a fuss.

I am now not going to log out until it forces the issue, so I should be able to get at least a little done. This is what I've bumbled my way through writing for this one, and I'll try to continue my usual alternating cycle, but writing takes time and is sometimes frustrating now, so I make no promises on timing for updates. It doesn't help that I've lost track of where I am in the Dreams 'verse, so I'm going to have to hope the screen reader manages to not annoy me too much... I miss proper reading... Also, any recommendations for reading in the fandom?


Shinichi was plotting vengeance.

This was admittedly an unusual sort of pastime for him. It wasn't often he felt the need - he tended to be an opportunist, even in terms of the occasional family prank-war. He certainly was capable of plotting out and/or instigating colorful mayhem (case in point: Sonoko's latest getaway), but he generally found that turning someone else's (usually his mother's) pranks around on the originator was both less effort and far more satisfying.

Kaito managing to get him to suffer through an American vampire movie clearly aimed at a teenage girl audience that involved sparkling in sunlight required something special.

To be fair, it wasn't a bad movie, per se. The film crew had definitely done well (some of the treescapes were quite beautiful), and the acting had been decent. Even half the concepts were handled in an original enough manner that, from a completely objective viewpoint, they could be considered somewhat interesting.

It also completely disregarded any actual mythological or folklore-based terminology, and Shinichi could see why it was also the subject of active ridicule from anyone who preferred the traditional origins. He was kind of inclined to join in, because he just knew that Kaito was going to deck him out like a 'Twilight' vampire at least once, now that he'd understand the reference.

The plotline was also a teen girl's fantasy, and Shinichi got more than enough of that listening to Sonoko.

This all led to plotting vengeance, and maybe a pre-emptive strike against glitter at unfortunate moments.

Actually, thinking of glitter...


Aoko looked up when Kaito made a sound that could only be described as a 'yelping shriek' and stumbled sideways as a familiar shade of baby blue smoke wafted past, then promptly stared as her friend came fully into view.

He looked like his own victim, blue-gold glitter sparkling on his skin and his hair an entertaining shade of dark, slightly shimmery azure that actually complimented his new skin-shade. There were a few streaks of glitter on his clothes, but it had mostly been contained to skin, and he had a dumbstruck sort of expression that said far better than words that he had not been expecting that.

Across the Division Two bullpen, Hakuba snickered.

That broke the startled silence, and Kaito pouted as good-natured chuckles and teasing poked at him from all corners, and Aoko had to ask. "What was Kaito trying to do?"

"Nothing!" Kaito huffed at her disbelieving look, "No, really, I didn't even bring these colors today."

Hakuba got up and came closer, frowning slightly, "Then..."

"Kudo-kun left that for you," Aoko's dad called, and she could hear the grin even without being able to see through the door to his desk from this angle. "He said to tell you 'never again', and that you'd know what it meant."

Kaito blinked twice, "Huh. Didn't think he hated it enough for revenge..."

Aoko blinked at him, "What did Kaito do?"

"Don't look at me like that! I was just trying to cheer him up!"

Hakuba got up to come closer, raising an eyebrow sardonically.

Kaito shrugged innocently, "I asked him to watch a movie with me."

Aoko didn't understand what that had to do with glitter, but Hakuba covered his face with one hand and gave an exasperated groan. "You made him watch Twilight."

"I didn't make him," Kaito protested, failing to pull off 'innocent' quite as well this time. (Aoko wasn't sure what 'Twilight' was, but she could look it up later.)

Hakuba indicated Kaito's current state of shininess, "It clearly wasn't Kudo-san's idea."

Kaito looked down at himself, and then back up, unable to quite contain the grin. "Hey, it worked."

Aoko smiled a bit. Kaito did tend to do stupid things to cheer people up, and Kudo-san seemed to be quite a challenge to distract, so clearly Kaito had resorted to desperate measures. Measures that ended with Kudo-san pranking him, but Aoko supposed she had never seen Kaito prank when he was feeling down. When annoyed, sure, but never when he was sad or depressed.

That probably meant everything was all right.


"Ah, Kudo-kun!" Takagi offered a wave to the resident vampire, hoping to get his attention.

"Mm?" he glanced up, sharp azure eyes briefly making Takagi feel like flinching before some undefinable element dropped away and those eyes softened to something far less cutting. "Hey, Takagi-keiji. Did you need something?"

"Ano... right. Are your parents still in town? Sato-san said she'd asked about getting your dad's autograph on a Night Baron book, but with everything that happened it got forgotten."

Kudo blinked, tilting his head in a motion that somehow came off as predatory. "No. Is it a favored copy or just a book title? I think Sato-san said it was the third one?"

Takagi nodded, "Ano... Sato-san was going to get a new copy - her mom's was damaged, so she wanted to replace it."

"I'll call them," Kudo decided. "Tou-san can send one, if it's just any copy. Hardback or paperback?"

"Um, paperback, I think? I don't remember any hardbacks on the shelf..."

"Right," Kudo nodded thoughtfully, "Was there anything else? I don't mean to be rude, but I do need to get over to Arson and fill out a report from that incident last night."

"Ah, right," Takagi waved, feeling a bit scatterbrained. Kudo only got that look when he was focused on something in particular, so of course he was going somewhere. He didn't actually work at the police station, even if they saw him more days than not. "Sorry, I didn't mean to hold you up."

Kudo waved one hand dismissively, "It's fine. I'd forgotten about the book, but I'd like to get the paperwork done so I can go home and get some schoolwork finished. I'll talk to you later?"

It was half farewell and half offer, and Takagi nodded. "See you later, Kudo-kun!"

Kudo turned away, pulling out his phone and dialing even as he started back down the hall. "Tou-san? No, it's nothing dangerous..."


Kaito bounced up to his boyfriend later that afternoon, still sporting traces of glitter in places, and offered a bright grin. "So!"

He got a single sardonic eyebrow in return.

"... okay, you win," Kaito folded. "Next time, you pick the movie."

There was the faintest trace of fang in the otherwise serene smile he got in return, and Kaito got the distinct feeling he had no idea what he'd just agreed to.

The moment passed as Shinichi herded him out into the genkan, barely taking the time to see feet properly ensconced in shoes before ushering him out the door.

After a further seven seconds (Damn it, Hakuba!) of no explanation for the sudden foray out of the house, Kaito opened his mouth to ask, glanced at Shinichi's oddly focused sort of expression, and closed his mouth again. He didn't know, and he wasn't about to break Shin-shin's concentration - he liked that look. Not only was it a long sight better than his usual post-case sort of fixedness (or even the more general weariness he'd been showing all too often of late), it was just about two steps shy of the look Shinichi picked up at heists, which was an embarrassingly large part of why he'd gotten attached in the first place.

Keyword: embarrassing. Which, of course, meant Shinichi almost certainly knew about it, but there was no need to admit it out loud.

Ten minutes later, Shinichi adjusted their previously fairly straight route to go around instead of through a children's park and Kaito craned his head to see if he could identify a reason and found himself faced with a number of fish-shaped balloons. His steps faltered and Shinichi's hand closed over his forearm, unyielding as steel and infinitely gentle, tugging him away with a murmured, "Don't look, ba'arou," and Kaito's attention snapped back to his boyfriend.

He couldn't help but feel warmed by the way Shinichi did indeed drop them straight back into their previous route once past the park, having detoured only because of finny things in balloon form, and in another ten minutes they were at their apparent destination.

Kaito could almost feel the question mark forming above his head, cartoon style.

"Ah, Boss!" a bright voice called from under the awning of a roadside cafe, and Kaito blinked, recognizing it. Distinctive falsely heavy American accent, female, cheery - FBI-san was here. As were three others, two also familiar.

Shinichi rolled his eyes, "Jodie-sensei," he greeted the greeter, then nodded to each of the others in turn, "Black-san, Akai-san, Camel-san. Was there a secondary purpose for this meeting?"

Camel-san - the one Kaito hadn't met before, incidentally, gave a sheepish sort of grin, "I asked to see you, Boss," he admitted. And again with the 'Boss'... Kaito had thought it was just FBI-san's nickname for Shin-shin's chibi-form bleeding over, but more than one?

Shinichi's focus flipped to concern, "Is something wrong?"

"Ah, no, not exactly..." Camel pulled something out of his pocket, "I've been getting these for over a week now, and I... don't know what to do?"

Kaito looked over Shinichi's shoulder as Camel passed him a small bundle of notes and valiantly managed not to snicker.

Shinichi glanced through them with professional detachment, then slid into the seat across from 'Camel-san' and Kaito, vastly entertained, sat next to him and waited to see what he would do.

"Camel-san," Shinichi asked carefully, "How well do you read Japanese?"

"Not very?" he offered, "I'm okay with hiragana and katakana, and there are a bunch of kanji that we were specifically taught to recognize, but I still have trouble sometimes. Jodie didn't recognize all of it, either, and I never asked Akai."

Shinichi considered, "If you didn't understand all the words, I can see how it might be worrying. Depending on how you feel about this kind of thing, it might be a different kind of worrying... Camel-san, these are love notes."

There was a pause, a moment's confusion, then Camel started to blush, confused and embarrassed in equal measure. "What? But- I never..."

"More specifically," Shinichi apparently had no mercy, "they are fairly benign anonymous love notes. You're not really expected to do anything about them unless or until the person who's sending them gets up the courage to admit it." He paused, "Or starts stalking you. You should do something about that, too."

Several more seconds passed, then Jodie started giggling. "Oh, my," she teased, "Camel! You have an admirer!"

Black covered his mouth in a blatant attempt to hide his growing smile and even Akai - whom Kaito had already pegged as the 'entirely too stoic' type - broke his unruffled facade enough to snort in amusement. "Then this was a waste of time?"

"Ah! don't be like that, Shuu," Jodie protested. "They're here for lunch!"

Shinichi huffed a very soft laugh, "Fair enough. And better that you check and be sure than let something ambiguously worded go and find out it is trouble."

Akai nodded once, "What makes you so sure it's not?"

"The wording," Shinichi replied promptly. "'I have seen' isn't nearly as alarming as 'I've been watching', for instance, and there are several places like that and no hesitations or marks of kanji changed before they really started. While it is possible that this is merely a final draft and someone went to a great deal of trouble to make it seem benign, it does have some minor differences in the more revealing words, like the writer felt more timid or uncertain writing them. Most likely, it is exactly what it looks like: Camel-san has acquired an admirer."

Akai sat back, clearly satisfied with the explanation, and Kaito found himself wondering just what it was Shinichi had done that had that particular guy taking him at his word so easily. He'd not been privy to much of the takedown, but once he'd found out about what had been going on, he'd made a point of learning what he could about Shinichi's FBI friends.

All of them struck him as people who would be difficult to win the trust of, but Akai didn't even take his allies' word as truth so easily - he didn't doubt the people, so much, but their information he definitely double-checked. And he was just accepting what Shinichi said with no hesitation whatsoever, even without looking at the notes himself.

...a question for another time, probably, especially as a waitress was headed in their direction.

Kaito glanced up at the awning above them, judged the shade, and made no protest against the location as he accepted menus from her, passing one to Shinichi and setting the majority of the rest in the middle of the table where everyone could reach.

Shinichi looked much more relaxed than he'd been in days, some of that constant line of tension easing from his shoulders as he was surrounded by people he trusted, and Kaito was glad of it.

He did his best, and here he was a bit on the fringes as none of the FBI-types knew that he knew of them and he definitely didn't know their background with Shinichi, but - just this was good. Shinichi had been entirely too stressed since that whole fiasco with the tabloid reporter, and Kaito would take whatever help he could get in easing that burden away.

Even if it meant sitting quietly in the background or suffering from attacks with his own glitter formulas.