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25 April 2007 @ 08:49 pm
Toe the Line (30 Kisses: Shinichi/Ran)  
Title: Toe the Line
Author: Candyland
Pairing: Kudo Shinichi/Mouri Ran
Fandom: Detective Conan
Theme: #7—superstar
Rating: PG-13 (for some suggestive dialogue, but not much else)
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Gosho Aoyama. I claim none, I merely borrow them and dress them up in frilly smocks and make them dance to my ever-changing will like the puppets they are.
Summary: Shinichi, you need to prove that I mean more to you than a murder case…



“When you get home, we need to talk.”

CLICK.

Shinichi winced at the sound of the line going dead. With a sigh, he closed and pocketed his cell phone. We need to talk. Never a good thing to hear, especially from your wife, and especially when it’s in that one tone of voice that only she can do. The voice that strikes the fear of God into your heart.

That voice that is as warm and friendly as a glacier.

That voice that promises no end to the hurting if you don’t have exactly the right answers.

That voice that ensures that you have an overnight appointment on the couch.

Needless to say, Shinichi was not looking forward to the prescribed talk.

Megure-keibu was waiting for him when he got back to the scene of the murder. The portly Inspector might not have been at the same deductive level as his young partner, but the forlorn expression on the younger man’s was impossible to miss. “Problem?” he asked.

Shinichi’s response was a barely-intelligible mutter of, “Ran said we need to talk.”

Megure winced sympathetically. “Well, let’s get this done so you can get home to your wife.”

“And grovel…” Shinichi sighed.

-o-


Ran glared angrily at the phone, as if it was the thing that had wronged her. She momentarily considered pretending it was her husband and yanking it out of the wall and destroying it. But no, it wouldn’t do to kill the messenger, as it were. Besides, then she would have to go buy a new phone.

So she opted instead to storm around the kitchen and start wiping down any and all available surfaces with far more force than was probably needed. The poor ceramic countertop was spot-free, and the stove-top was shiny enough that she could have used her reflection in it to apply make-up. But at least her frustration had a suitable outlet, one that gained positive results…and one that wouldn’t require calling a repairman to the house at this hour of the evening.

He had promised—promised! They had nice plans for the evening. And what had he done? Gone running off to solve a case, Mr. Superstar Detective, all hail, all worship. She understood that it was his job, and if he didn’t do what he did, a lot of criminals might have gotten away with their crimes. And she realized that being married to said superstar meant that once in a while, yes, she would have to play second fiddle to a dead body.

Still, she was his wife, dammit. And she really thought that they’d gotten past that and broken his nasty little habit of ditching her the instant a case reared its head—every single time. But as the saying goes, old habits die hard, and Shinichi was no exception. Things had been getting worse and worse lately.

At least she’d trained him to call…but that didn’t change the fact.

He. Had. Promised.

And she was getting tired of it.

When she finally ran out of surfaces to scrub, and he still hadn’t put in his appearance, she gave up and headed upstairs towards the bedroom. She did, however, leave the front light on for him—cursing herself and that perpetual weak spot she had for her errant husband.

Must have been a trickier case than usual, she reflected as slipped under the blankets. He’d called an hour ago, and there was still no sign of him—must have been a good one. Either that, or he was merely prolonging the inevitable. Either away, he’d come home eventually.

And she was pretty sure that she knew what she was going to say to him. He was going to learn…

-o-


The light was on.

Good sign.

Ran wasn’t anywhere in sight.

Bad sign.

Shinichi locked the front door and waited for her to appear, but she didn’t show. Given the hour, though, he figured she was probably in bed. Whether or not she was awake was another matter entirely. He almost hoped she was asleep—then The Talk could be put off until tomorrow morning, and maybe she wouldn’t be quite so angry…

He passed the kitchen, and paused by the door. The room was spotlessly clean, from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. Even the cabinets and garbage can were sparkling and lemony fresh.

Shinichi winced. Very bad sign.

Gathering his nerve, he headed up the stairs. It was so ironic, really—he could face down thugs, murderers, and every kind of lowlife without flinching. He regularly dealt with dead bodies in varying stages of messiness. He’d tackled an army of killers with precious few allies—and won. Yet one Word from his wife had him shaking in his shoes. One of her Looks was enough to freeze him where he stood.

How the hell did she do that, anyway?

As he approached the door, he shook his head at his own musings. He loved her, and he hated to see her unhappy, that was why. He also hated to see her unhappy with him because that could potentially mean threats of bodily damage…or she would force him to eat his own cooking.

The light in the bedroom was off, but through the darkness he could see her outline, sitting up in bed, back against the headboard…arms folded. That was definitely an uh-oh…

“Nice to see you,” she said in a clipped voice.

“Sorry, I didn’t think it would take that long,” he apologized, setting about getting himself ready for bed as well. In relatively short order, he slid under the blankets next to her.

Ran didn’t even turn her head to look at him. “Tough case?” she asked shortly.

“Sort of,” Shinichi replied, growing increasingly nervous. She was acting very strangely…

“You solved it?”

“Yes…”

“Good. I’m sure the victim is thrilled.”

“Ran, I’m doing my job. Why does that bother you so much?” he finally broke down and asked, already knowing full well that he was not going to like the answer.

“Why does that…?” she sat up and looked at him through the darkness; he could see her eyes blazing with anger. “I can’t believe you’re actually asking—why does that bother me so much? Aren’t you supposed to be some sort of detective? You honestly don’t understand why I’m so angry?” She shook her head and looked down. “You really don’t get it…” Now she sounded more sad and tired than angry.

“Ran…” he said, reaching to put a hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t touch me,” Ran’s hand flew as though to block him, making him stop in mid-motion. She rolled over in bed to lay on her side and look at the wall, giving him an excellent view of her back; it also allowed her to hide the fact that she was clutching at the sheets with white-knuckled fists, as though they could actually offer her some sort of reassurance.

The hand he had reached towards never actually touched her. She could sense that his fingers were hovering just above her skin, but the fact that she had just turned away from him like that had stopped him cold. She had never done that before. “Ran…” he said, confusion coloring his tone.

“Consider this an ultimatum, Shinichi” she said firmly, pulling the blanket up to her chin, nice and tight. “My body is a temple, and you’re going to have to prove yourself worthy. So until you show me that I mean more to you than those cases, you’re on your own, meitantei.”

She felt Shinichi’s eyes boring into her back, and vowed not to give in. She had said her part, told him the problem, and given him the task of making things right. And really, if he thought about it, he’d realize that it wasn’t anything difficult. The ball was in his court now. All she had to do was resist him.

Unfortunately, resisting Shinichi was something she had never been very good at doing. But she swore up and down that she would hold her ground and not give in. But she could still feel his wide-eyed stare as she drifted off to sleep.

-o-


The following days were extremely tense, to say the least.

Shinichi generally skitted around his wife like a nervous rabbit, and everything Ran put her hand to doing involved excessive amounts of force—those vegetables were chopped finely enough to make a food processor jealous. In short, their relationship hadn’t been this strained since the days of the Black Organization’s bust and Conan’s truth.

Ran was sticking to her guns, however, and she was proud of herself for it. She wasn’t afraid of repercussions from her husband. For all his (many) faults, Shinichi was a gentleman, and for all his (utter) cluelessness, she knew he loved her. He wasn’t going to do anything to actually hurt her, of that there was never a single doubt. So she stood her ground without fear.

She had support, too; a phone call to Kazuha had given her a bit more confidence in her actions and reassurance that she was not out of line. Shinichi was being a moron, Kazuha agreed. He needed to figure things out for himself—until then, no kisses and no cuddles.

After that phone call, though, Ran had the distinct impression that Kazuha was not entirely happy with her own hubby at the moment, and wondered briefly if perhaps the same fate was awaiting Heiji the next time he blew her off to go solve a mystery.

She had to admit that it made her chuckle to try and imagine the conversations that might take place between the two deprived detectives should this come to pass. Which one would clue in first, and regain their touching privileges? It was anyone’s game, as they were both notoriously dense. Hell, Shinichi still hadn’t gotten it—he’d done the exact same thing twice in the week since her ultimatum.

Ran had simply sighed and gone about her business as usual. She knew he was getting antsy. But how could such a superstar detective be so blind? Especially when the answer was so very simple…

-o-


“KUDO!”

Shinichi held the phone away from his ear and winced, waiting until the yelling had stopped before he moved it closer. “Hello, Hattori. I take it you’re having a problem too?”

There was a moment of silence before Heiji repeated, “…too?”

“Knowing our wives, they’ve been talking,” Shinichi sighed, leaning his head against the wall. Ran was out running errands, so for the moment he could speak freely. “And if Ran hasn’t told Kazuha about what’s going on here, I’ll eat my copy of The Sign of Four.”

Heiji chuckled dryly. “So that’s where she got the idea. Never knew Ran had it in her…”

“I think that’s the problem here!” Shinichi said before thinking. There was an awkward moment of silence before Shinichi cleared his throat. “So…what did Kazuha tell you? And stop laughing at me.”

“Of course. I’ll just remind you of this the next time you need to be knocked down a few pegs. Preferably, in front of your wife,” Heiji replied airily, his smirk audible. “But anyway, Kazuha went on a rampage about how I don’t appreciate her and dead bodies are more important to me than she is and I’m an ahou and on and on and on…and then she said that if I touched her before she said it was okay, I was going to be sleeping on the couch for the rest of my life.”

Shinichi nodded grimly—it somehow made him feel better to know that someone felt his pain. “Sounds more or less right. I haven’t actually been evicted from my bed yet, though. I’ve just been denied those particular privileges. It’s been a week, and she’s not letting up.”

“Or giving up,” Heiji added.

Had they been in the same room, Heiji would have gotten punched in the face without another word spoken. As the dark-skinned detective was in Osaka, this was not possible, so Shinichi opted instead for growling, “If you ever say that about Ran again…”

“I was just kidding,” Heiji placated immediately, realizing that he had crossed the line.

Shinichi sighed. “Hattori, I’m going nuts.”

“They’re torturing us, that’s what they’re doing,” Heiji whined. “That’s why we haven’t actually been reassigned to the couch! That way, they can say goodnight, roll over, and go to sleep and let us just look at them, knowing that there’s no way in hell we’re going to do anything, no matter how much we might want to…it’s torture…and our hands are tied.”

Neither dared to make the obvious joke about that.

“…how whipped are we, anyway?”

“Extremely.”

Nope, didn’t make that crack either.

“How long do you think this is going to go on?” Shinichi asked.

“Knowing Kazuha?” Heiji thought for a minute. “Either five minutes or forever.”

“Five minutes? Why only five minutes?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“…no. No, I don’t.”

“Good. Because I don’t kiss and tell.”

“Hattori, shut up.” Scratch that about feeling better. Now he was more miserable than ever.

-o-


Two weeks into the ultimatum, both husband and wife were about ready to lose their minds. The strain was killing them both, but Ran clung to her resolve, no matter how much she wanted to throw it all to the four winds. He had to be the one to end this, even if it seemed kind of hopeless thus far.

Still, she saw it as a positive sign when he nervously suggested that they go out for dinner that evening, and perhaps catch a movie or something? He looked like he thought she was going to attack him, probably given the ever-mounting tension between them.

Needless to say, he looked startled when she enthusiastically agreed.

Being out of the house, with pleasant surroundings and good food in front of them, seemed to relax them both. The conversation was light and cheery, steering far away from topics like mysteries and the like. For the first time in two weeks, they were both completely at ease, having almost forgotten the quarrel that plagued their home-life. Ran found herself wondering if perhaps there had finally, blessedly, been a break-through…

A cell phone rang, its high-pitched, digital-midi song like a harbinger of doom.

Shinichi winced at the sound, and gave her an apologetic look as he reached for the offending item in his jacket pocket, putting it to his ear. He suddenly looked a bit nervous. “Hello?”

“It’s me.”

“Megure-keibu?”

“Shinichi-kun,” Megure’s voice rumbled over the phone—he had finally taken to calling his young friend by his first name shortly after Shinichi and Ran’s wedding, “we need you on the case.”

“Where is—“ Shinichi demanded as he started to stand up, phone pressed to his ear, one hand automatically reaching for the coat hanging on the back of his chair, his mind already racing at the prospect of a new case and a new challenge—

—and stopped when his eyes landed on his wife.

Before the phone jangle had interrupted them, he and Ran had been happily engaged in lively conversation, the joking and teasing that had always been so commonplace to their decidedly-unique relationship, and he had been able to forget the tension between them. She had been smiling, the happiest he had seen her in quite a while. But now…

Ran’s smile had frozen at the sound of the cell phone. When she heard Megure’s name, that smile dropped off her face entirely; she had put one elbow on the table, letting her chin rest in her hand, and was gazing out the window at the night sky that lay beyond. Her expression was vacant and mask-like, but her eyes were shimmering…

Shinichi nearly dropped the phone.

She turned her head enough to look up at him. “Shouldn’t you be going?” she asked; he was amazed that it physically hurt him when her voice cracked. “It’s Megure—a case, right? You’d better hurry…” Her eyes drifted back out the window; the shine there was becoming far more pronounced.

For what felt like an eternity, neither of them moved.

And finally, all the pieces fell into place— hadn’t he had this whole thing hammered through his thick skull once before? He’d had a heck of a time figuring out exactly what his priorities were back then, really, until it had decided to hit him over the head in the form of Gin with a lead pipe. He’d been good for a while…and then he had just started falling back into old habits. Bad habits.

And Ran had been the one to suffer as a result, every single time.

Slowly, Shinichi returned the phone to his ear, just now becoming aware that Megure was calling his name repeatedly to try and get his attention. “Keibu,” he said slowly, “I’m afraid you’ll have to do this one without me.” And he sat back down with a thump.

Ran’s head snapped straight forward to stare at him. He chuckled at how wide her eyes had grown.

On the other end of the line, Megure was actually sputtering.

Shinichi smiled. “I have a previous engagement this evening with someone who’s already put up with far more than she should have ever had to,” he winked at Ran, who still looked absolutely stunned, “so I’m sorry, but you’re on your own. I wish you luck. Or call Hattori, if you need help.”

Without waiting for a response, he not only ended the call, but he shut the phone off entirely and returned it to his pocket. “I’m sorry,” he said apologetically, “but I really thought I’d turned that off.”

Ran’s eyes took up at least half her face. “You…you’re not…?”

He shook his head.

“Why not?”

He shrugged. “Simple—priorities.”

She looked like she still didn’t believe what was happening in front of her. “You…”

Shinichi actually snorted. “Come on, Ran! What moron would walk out and leave you sitting here all alone?” he asked, then frowned. “Don’t answer that.” There was a pause before he grinned, ever the charmer. “Besides, if I’m not here to protect you, then some other guy might come by and steal you away. And then where would we be?”

It took her a moment to realize that now, finally, he understood, even if he didn’t come right and say as much. The resulting smile that broke on Ran’s face was bright enough to illuminate the sky outside. She then raised an eyebrow. “You realize that if you start being stupid again, I’ll beat you and then make you suffer,” she said, the faintest hint of a threat in her tone. But she was still smiling, sliding her fingers across the cloth-covered tabletop in search of his.

His hand met hers halfway, linking slender fingers together. “And then you’ll nurse me back to health, right?” he said smugly, as he waggled his eyebrows suggestively at her.

She gave him a Look that said she really wasn’t irritated. “You think you’re so cute, don’t you?”

“I know,” he nodded. “But that’s why you love me!”

Ran shook her head wryly, though she was smiling. You know I do…

-o-


He was asleep.

Ran honestly couldn’t believe it.

They’d come home after a fabulous evening out together, but by the time she had taken a shower and gotten to bed, Shinichi was already out cold, stretched out on his side on top of the blankets. He’d shed his jacket, shoes, and tie, but forgone the pajamas in favor of just crashing.

She stood at the foot of the bed for a moment, arms folded, watching the steady rising and falling of his chest. For as big of an idiot as he could be sometimes, she really had been lucky. So had he, actually, but every once in a while he just needed a reminder.

Ran chuckled to herself and moved forward, putting her knees on the edge of the bed and crawling up towards the pillows. She sat up for a minute before she leaned over and put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Shinichi? Are you awake?”

He made a little noise that basically said Well, I am now.

One of her hands slid to his cheek and turned his head. His eyes were half-open now, staring at her without real focus. Thus positioned, with his face towards her and her hand on his cheek, she had clear access to dip her head and kiss him, as expertly as she knew how.

Well, that woke him up in a hurry…

“So, have we learned our lesson, smart guy?” she asked after she had pulled away, smiling sweetly and laughing inwardly at how wide his eyes had gotten. “Are we going to break plans with the wife and go running off every single time a body hits the floor?”

He shook his head.

“If we do, do we know what will happen to certain superstar detectives?” she asked.

“…death?” he guessed. “Of the painful variety?”

“Goooooooood boy,” she nodded approvingly, her smile becoming a bit more frustrated. “Because I’m about ready to go crazy, so I hope you’re not planning on sleeping for a while.”




PS. Inspired by the story of Lysistrata, where a group of Greek women get sick of their husbands running off to war, so they band together and barricade themselves in a temple to deny their hubbies any and all “favors” until the men agree to form a peace agreement and end the war. It works ^_^ And for the record, I have NO IDEA how long it’ll take Heiji to get the hint *smiles sweetly* Kazuha might be waiting years…

Tribute time: the “I know, but that’s why you love me!” is a homage to magic_truth's Walking in the Rain, an AWESOME Shinichi/Ran story. Hope you enjoyed this odd little story. Much love, all!