Fandom: Detective Conan
Characters: Kudo Shinichi/Mouri Ran
Disclaimer: I do not own Detective Conan. All characters are the property of Gosho Aoyama. I simply threaten to make them watch old Barney tapes unless they obey me. Trust me, they listen.
Summary: The Garden of Eden was sometimes called Paradise…
As they walked along the streets of Beika one afternoon, Shinichi passed Ran an envelope; it was addressed to him, and bore a postmark that said it had probably arrived that morning. It had already been torn open. “This came in the mail,” he said. “Take a look.”
She pulled the small white card from the envelope and read it over quickly. “Wow…sounds like a big party! Next week…are you going?” she asked.
“I haven’t replied to them yet,” he said. “I wanted to talk to you first. It says I can bring a guest, and I was wondering if you would be interested in being my date.” He grinned cheekily.
Ran’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“Yeah!” he said cheerily. “And even if the party isn’t that great, we can have fun joking about it—or we can even leave early if it’s really that much of a drag. I wouldn’t be opposed to that at all. And I know for a fact that there will be a couple of familiar faces there—Hattori called me this morning. He got the same invite, and he’s bringing Kazuha-san. So what do you say?”
“It sounds like it could be fun…” she replied slowly, reading over the decorative invitation again, requesting the attendance of one, Kudo Shinichi and guest at a party to unveil some collector’s private art collection. Shinichi was barely out of high school, and he was already considered to be among the toast of Tokyo society. “But…it’s black tie? So what should I wear?”
His eyes were definitely sparkling at that question, but all he said was, “Something nice.” At that point, they had arrived at her door, and he left her with a smile and a kiss on the cheek before he went on his way.
When Ran called her mother later that night and mentioned the party, Eri got rather excited on the other end of the line. And so it came to pass that Ran found herself whisked away to go shopping with her mother in the quest for the perfect dress to make Shinichi-kun’s eyes pop out of his head. Or so Eri called it, causing Ran to blush like mad.
“I wonder what I should do about Dad, though,” Ran pondered out loud over dinner. “He really didn’t seem too happy about me going to this party with Shinichi when I told him about it…” She sighed and sat back in her chair. “You’d think he would have warmed up to Shinichi by now.”
Eri smiled knowingly. “Your father is far too stubborn for his own good. He refuses to openly accept Shinichi-kun as a matter of pride—especially after the whole Conan fiasco. But I wouldn’t worry about it.” When Ran didn’t look terribly convinced, she went on. “…but if you’re that concerned, why don’t I stop by the agency on the night of the party? You might need some help getting ready and such.”
The words were innocent enough, but the tone behind them was definitely conspiratorial. Ran grinned. “I think that’s a wonderful idea!”
“Good,” Eri nodded approvingly. “Now let’s finish and go find you a dress.”
Once the last bite had been polished off and the check had been paid, they resumed their great search. And finally, ten minutes before the building they were shopping in closed…they found it. The perfect dress.
Mother and daughter looked at each other and grinned. Oh yeah…
When the Big Night rolled around a mere week later, Shinichi did as the invitation instructed and dressed up to the nines. Granted, he was fairly accustomed to suits and ties, having learned relatively early on that if one dressed like an adult, one was more likely to be taken seriously in spite of one’s relative youth. Still, going full-out like this was above even his usual dress code.
But when he stepped back and took a good look at himself, decked out in a tuxedo and all the required accessories, he couldn’t help but grin at his reflection. He looked pretty damn good, if he did say so himself. He just hoped that Ran thought the same.
He grabbed his keys—best birthday present his parents had ever given him—and headed out to pick up his date. He was definitely eager to see Ran; she had mentioned that her mother had taken her shopping for a new dress for the occasion, and he couldn’t wait to see it.
He pulled up in front of her house right on time, put the car in park, and all but sprinted up the stairs. Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait! He knocked on the door and waited eagerly, hopping slightly from one foot to the other. He felt like a little kid at Christmas…
Okay, bad analogy.
The door opened and Eri smiled out at him. “Ah, Shinichi-kun! You look wonderful. Ran’s almost ready.”
He grinned. Though things had been a little bit tense after the Syndicate’s fall and the truth about Conan’s identity, he and Eri had managed to see eye to eye fairly well…though he knew full well that if he ever hurt Ran or laid so much as an inappropriate finger on her (that Ran did not approve of, at least), then he would be very, very dead at her mother’s hand.
“Shinichi?” Ran’s voice came from the room behind her mother before he could actually say anything to Eri, and a second later she appeared in the doorway. “Ready to go?”
When her saw her, Shinichi felt his lower jaw unhinge itself and go on a crash course through the stairs at his feet. It didn’t hurt that Ran was naturally lovely to begin with. And it also didn’t hurt that red was his favorite color, nor did it hurt that she loved fantastic in red. So to see her standing there in a long red gown (strapless, he noted gleefully) with a white wrap draped around her shoulders was an answer to all of his prayers…and a few of his more interesting dreams.
“…wow,” he managed.
Ran giggled, and Eri looked no less than triumphant at his goggled reaction. She stepped past her mother to join him outside the door, then turned back. “Thanks for everything, Mom!”
“You two have fun,” Eri waved them off with a smile. “I’m going to get let your father out now.” At Shinichi’s questioning look, the lawyer simply said, “He just didn’t want to behave himself.” She went back inside and closed the door as the couple headed down the stairs towards the car.
As he slowly floated from Cloud Nine back down to Earth, Shinichi noticed a couple of other things. For one, she had some very sparkly things at her neck and throat that he didn’t remember her wearing before; he wondered briefly if they were real. Secondly, he realized that Ran’s height (as relative to his) indicated that she was wearing heels…and in his mind, heels meant legs. And it went without saying that Shinichi liked Ran’s legs.
He did sprint ahead a few steps to open the car door for her, and grinned at her expression when she saw the bouquet of roses sitting on the passenger seat. “You really went all-out on this, didn’t you?” she said, obviously delighted at the gesture; she lifted the flowers and breathed the fragrance in.
“I might not have an opportunity like this again for a while,” he said, waving her into the car. “Better take the chance while I’ve got it.” He threw her a wink before he closed the door and hurried around to the driver’s seat. He climbed into the car and started the ignition before he turned to her and smiled. “By the way, I didn’t actually come right out and say it, but…you look great.”
It was too dark to actually see it, but judging by the way she smiled and turned her head slightly to look down at the roses in her lap, he figured she was probably blushing. “Thank you. You don’t look too bad yourself.”
He grinned and leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek before he put the car in drive and they headed off.
How Kazuha had gotten that guy into that nice of a suit was something Shinichi doubted he would ever figure out. The girl had to be some sort of miracle worker, he privately thought. At the very least, she was a good influence on Hattori. A good, LOUD influence, who was currently greeting Ran with a hug and mutual exclamations about how nice they both looked.
The two detectives greeted each other with a bit less squealing and a handshake. “Nice to see you,” Shinichi said.
“Glad you’re here. I’ll have someone to talk to who isn’t a total ahou,” Heiji remarked, letting his eyes drag themselves sideways towards Kazuha. Still, there was no mistaking the fondness in his gaze.
Shinichi grinned, obviously not fooled by the words. “She looks great—they both do.” He wasn’t afraid to say it, either. Ran was stunning in red, and Kazuha was lovely in something long and dark green with straps.
“Watch it, pal. Or I might have to get your monkey-suit dirty,” Hattori chuckled. There was no real malice in the words. Anyone with a pulse could see that Kudo belonged solely to Mouri Ran; any expression of another female’s beauty was solely from an aesthetic point of view.
The four of them presented themselves properly to their host before making their way into the party. It was an extravagant affair featuring the toast of society all dressed to the nines. Or in some cases, the tens. There was a table featuring hors d’ouerves (most of which had names Ran didn’t even know how to pronounce), and a string quartet in the corner was providing some pleasant background music.
After making the rounds and meeting various people of importance, they staked out a table and got comfortable. It wasn’t a bad party, per se, but it wasn’t really their cup of tea. After about half an hour, Shinichi leaned in and whispered to his table-mates. “I say we give it another half hour, and then leave. Sound good?”
Three nods of assent met this suggestion.
Kazuha grinned. “I vote burgers. Nothing says class like eating burgers in formal-wear!”
Heiji actually snickered. “You’ve got a good idea…for once.”
She made a face at him.
“So what should we do until then?” Ran asked softly, looking around. “We could dance—there’s music.”
Heiji’s face turned the same deep shade of green as Kazuha’s dress at the suggestion. Apparently, he did not compute the word dancing with the idea of himself actually doing it. But unfortunately for him, Kazuha seemed relatively taken with the idea. “Oh, let’s dance!” she said, tugging on his arm. “Please?”
He gave her a Look. “It’s your broken ankle, not mine.”
She stood up and grabbed his arm to pull him out of his seat. “Come on, just one song!”
Heiji might have thought her an ahou and he might have been convinced of his own two left feet, but he really didn’t seem to be able to refuse her this. Or maybe he was afraid that she would make him actually eat his own feet if he said no. Either way, he let her drag him towards the dance floor.
Laughing quietly at them as Kazuha got Heiji onto the floor (and contrary to his earlier statements, he seemed to be neither falling over his own two feet nor stepping all over hers), Ran turned to Shinichi and gave him her most innocent smile. “Well? What about us?”
He wasn’t fooled in the slightest. “You want to dance?” When she nodded, he grinned. “If my lady wishes it…”
Ran’s smile grew wider, and she accepted the arm he offered her and let him lead her out to the floor. They swept into the dance with ease, staying near Heiji and Kazuha. Shinichi did spare a comment to his friendly rival regarding Hattori’s dancing abilities as compared to Shinichi’s own.
Hattori told him (in the most polite terms possible) to drop dead.
Still, for the most part Shinichi’s attention remained on the lovely young woman in his arms. There was something very soothing about just holding her like that, looking down at her smile and knowing she was his…and if she noticed that he was holding her a little closer than usual, she didn’t say anything. She certainly didn’t protest.
So they swayed gently, lost in the music and each other. It was perfect. It was romantic. It was…
Too good to last.
A scream shattered the tranquility of the moment. It was high-pitched enough to break flass, and loud enough to carry clearly over the music, sending everything in the room to a screeching halt.
Ran tensed in Shinichi’s arms. No…it couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be happening. Not here, not now, not when they were enjoying such a beautiful evening…she didn’t want him to…
“Somebody help!” the woman screamed. “He’s dead! MURDER!”
There was a sickening crunch as Ran’s heart dropped into the soles of her strappy white shoes. She looked up at Shinichi, hoping pitifully against hope that he wouldn’t…
He let go of her and turned towards the commotion. “Hattori, we need to get this under control!”
Nearby, Heiji gave Kazuha a pained look; she sighed, but waved him along. He did take the time to give her a kiss on the cheek before he started running towards the area from whence the scream had come.
Shinichi turned back to his own girlfriend. “Ran, I—“ But he was startled to find that he was alone. Ran was walking away, moving across the room towards the French doors that led out into the gardens. He looked at her retreating back for a second, then made a quick decision. “Hattori!” You’re on your own!”
Without waiting for a response from his fellow detective, he turned and hurried after Ran. By the time he made it through the doors, she was already down the stairs and into the gardens. She moved behind a tree and disappeared between some hedges.
Kazuha walked to the doorway and watched. To a certain extent, she knew how Ran felt…but at the same time, she had never had to be away from Heiji. They had never been apart. So letting him go running off to play detective was a bit easier for her. Still, she smiled. At least he was going after her.
Every time…every goddamn time! Ran cursed mentally as she stalked through the garden. She wasn’t usually prone to fits of swearing, but right now she was just upset.
It was probably very irrational of her to be this upset over something she really should have been long accustomed to. Mysteries were a part of who Shinichi was. But somehow, it just really wasn’t happening tonight. Things had been going so well. It had been a picturesque evening, so close to paradise…
And then her boyfriend, the body magnet, struck.
She was starting to wonder if he was cursed.
Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to calm down. It wasn’t Shinichi’s fault, she reasoned. And what he did was very important. She should go back; the walk outside had cooled her head plenty. And maybe by the time she got back inside, he would have already solved the crime. It wasn’t totally unheard of…
…it was at this point that she realized exactly how far into the gardens she had gone. And it seemed like everywhere she looked, there were tall bushes on either side of her. She turned a corner, and found herself fenced in on three sides by those same tall, thick hedges.
The realization hit her then, and her heart sank.
She had somehow wandered into—and gotten lost in—a hedge maze.
Ran looked around. It was dark out, and clouds had managed to roll in and obscure the moon. The temperature was starting to drop, and she suspected that it would soon be rather chilly. And she had no idea where she was or how to get out…and no one else knew she was out here. In short, she couldn’t have messed this up any more if she had planned it in advance.
She pulled the white wrap in more closely around her shoulders. Okay, stay calm. Find a way out. Sooner or later, someone was bound to notice that she was missing. After all, she had three friends there with her! But she didn’t know how long it would take them to figure out she was out here…
Hands closed around her upper arms.
Instinct took over, and in an admittedly knee-jerk reaction, Ran whipped around with a fist at the ready. But she wasn’t prepared for one of her heels to stick in the dirt beneath the grass at her feet as she turned, and it sent her toppling off balance. She hit the ground with a thud, and was momentarily dazed. But then the person above her—the one who had grabbed her arms—swam into view. Oh…it’s Shinichi…
He was on his knees beside her in an eyeblink. “Ran! Are you all right?”
She was about to reply, but then she realized that he had just scared the wits out of her—and whether or not he’d intended it, she’d still taken a nice tumble as a result of his sneakiness. In her fabulous dress, no less! So she brushed his hand away. “I’m fine.”
To his credit, he backed off. “I’m sorry…”
“I don’t need help,” she said before he could offer. She put one hand on the ground to push herself up…and immediately fell back to the grass as pain lanced up her leg. She couldn’t put weight on it without gasping in pain. It didn’t take long for her to realize what had happened—her heel sticking in the ground as she turned around…it was all too easy to figure out.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
Ran looked up at him, then looked back down at the ground. She angrily threw her hands down into her lap, feeling extremely immature as she did so. “I think I twisted my ankle…”
Shinichi had been on one knee beside her; now he shifted to sit on the ground next to her. “I’m sorry…”
She sighed. “Why does this always happen?”
“Why does it always happen like this?” she said softly, keeping her eyes on the grass around her skirt. She wanted to cry, but for whatever reason there were no tears. “Every single time. We go out somewhere and it starts out so wonderfully and everything is great…and then somebody dies. Somebody always has to drop over and die…it’s sad that people die, and I know I’m being really selfish, but…” She toyed nervously with the hem of her skirt. “…just once, I don’t want to share you. I want us to go somewhere and have a nice evening where I don’t have to share you with the police and a dead body.”
Shinichi sat quietly while she spoke. “Ran…I wasn’t going to—“
“It doesn’t matter if you do or not,” she replied. “I know how you are, Shinichi. Even if you stayed in the background, it will still be on your mind all night. Probably will be even now.” Nearby, they could hear police sirens roaring to the scene; she ignored it and went on, “That’s just the way you are. I accept that.”
“But it doesn’t make you happy.”
“I know that what you do is important. And I know that I’m selfish. But…” she finally turned her head and looked directly at him. “I waited for you for so long. Is it wrong of me to want to have you to myself sometimes?”
Shinichi was silent for a moment before he said. “Well…we’re alone now, right?”
“…we’re lost,” Ran corrected him. “This is a maze.”
He looked up at the sky; as if on cue, the clouds parted, revealing the shine of the full moon. “I don’t know…I think it’s sort of nice out here. Maybe a little cool, but it’s not bad.”
She was starting to get what he was saying, and she smiled wryly. “Well…we could stay out here for a while. I’m certainly not walking out of this place.” She looked down at her leg and sighed.
“It’s my fault you got hurt,” he said with a wave of his hand, “so I’ll carry you.”
“Well…it is nice out here…” she admitted.
Shinichi grinned. “You know, the Garden of Eden was sometimes called Paradise.”
Ran blinked. “This isn’t Eden.”
“Not quite. But it might be Paradise.”
As Megure-keibu went about interviewing the witnesses, Heiji located Kazuha in the crowd. “Where did Kudo go?” he asked. He’d heard his rival shout that he was on his own before vanishing.
“Ran-chan headed into the garden,” Kazuha told him. “And he went after her.”
Heiji frowned. “Is everything okay?”
“I’m not sure,” she said. “But they’re not back yet.”
“Huh. Well—“ Heiji started to say something else, but was interrupted when Satou approached and borrowed him to help with the investigation of the murder of man who had turned out to be a business partner of their host’s.
This was so comfortable.
Shinichi was sitting with his knees pulled up near his chest and Ran across his lap, her back against one of his arms. She let her head rest against his shoulder; whatever problems they’d already had that evening were all but forgotten. Granted, Hattori-kun had probably taken care of the murder investigation by now—she assumed it was a murder, simply because Shinichi was in the vicinity; she did hope they caught the murderer.
But still…it was so nice to have a moment like this, just between the two of them.
They talked quietly about everything and nothing, just letting things flow as they would, lapsing into silence now and again, and then renewing the conversation. For all they knew, they could have been the last two people in the world…and it wouldn’t have mattered. It was just them and the night.
It was during one of the quiet moments that Ran reached and let her fingers trace a line across Shinichi’s face, moving over his cheek to his hair and applying the tiniest bit of pressure to draw his head down towards her. He needed no further encouragement, and let himself be pulled into a very gentle kiss.
One kiss became two.
Two became three.
Three became countless, all running together.
And soon, it was no longer sweet and gentle.
Ran’s arms made their way around his neck while he pulled her closer. He shifted her in his arms, giving his hands ample freedom to roam her back and run through the length of her hair. Her fingers massaged the back of his neck, offering silent encouragement and drawing the first small moan from him.
So when he pulled his thumb down over her chin in a wordless request for entrance, she parted her lips and granted him that, loving the sensations of taste and touch and hearing those tiny little sounds that meant she was pushing all of the right buttons…
They were completely under each other’s spell, and the spell of the evening. So when the movements of hands became a little more daring and the touches became braver, neither protested. And then, never releasing his possessive claim on her lips, Shinichi’s hand moved to carefully cradle the back of her head and he shifted again to ease her backwards.
She felt the grass behind her shoulders and the constant press of Shinichi’s kiss.
And that was all she needed right then.
“We should probably go back,” Ran said, snuggling a little closer against him. What a night, indeed…she was happy. So very, very happy…she really didn’t want them to go back. She liked them being alone here like this, but sometimes one just had to be practical.
His response echoed her true thoughts. “Do we have to?”
“Our friends are probably wondering where we are,” she pointed out.
Shinichi pressed a kiss to her temple. “Let them wonder.”
“I’m also getting cold,” she said, choosing that moment to shiver in his arms.
This seemed to be what decided him—if she was seriously cold, that was extremely bad. “All right…” He stood up and offered her a hand. “Come on—let’s get you on your foot.”
Ran raised an eyebrow at his choice of words, but accepted the hand, braced her good foot against the ground, and let him pull her up. Unfortunately, he pulled a little bit too hard, and she wound up nearly going right on her face. Fortunately, he was there…so she just crashed into him.
“Whoa!” he half-yelped; both his arms went around her waist to steady her. “Careful!” Still, holding her like that, there was no way he could resist the temptation to lean down and give her a quick kiss on the cheek.
She turned her head to allow it. “You’ll take any excuse you can find to do that, won’t you?”
“I just can’t help it,” he said with a smile. “But before we go, here. Take this.” He slipped his jacket off and wrapped it around her shoulders; she stuck her arms through the sleeves, which proved to be a bit too long for her. It was quite adorable. “I can’t have you freezing halfway there.”
The inside of the jacket was warm from his own body-heat, and his scent was faint, but present in the thick fabric. It made Ran happy—and also much warmer. “Thank you.”
He grinned, and bent to scoop her up bridal-style. “Got everything?” he asked. When she nodded, he added, “So should we try to go out the same way we came in, or be adventurous and look for the actual exit?”
Ran winced. “The way we came in. It’s probably closer.”
“So you command it, so shall it be done,” he said simply, and started walking back towards the path he remembered taking to come to this place when he had followed her into the maze. And for admittedly the first time since he’d found Ran out here, he wondered what had come of the investigation…
“I don’t know where Kudo could be,” Heiji said with a shrug. Nearby, the murderer was being escorted into a waiting police car so he could be taken to the station for further questioning and booking.
Megure-keibu raised an eyebrow. “That’s really not like him to run out on an investigation.”
At Heiji’s shoulder, Kazuha repeated what she’d seen earlier. “He and Ran-chan went out towards the gardens.” She still wasn’t telling the whole story of what she knew. That really was none of her business.
“Did you miss us?”
All three turned to the voice, and three sets of eyes widened. “What the hell happened to you?” Heiji blurted out the question that was on everyone’s minds. Granted, it was not an out-of-line question. Kudo Shinichi and Mouri Ran had both looked relatively immaculate upon their arrival at the gala.
Now…they were both rather disheveled, and looked much worse for the wear. Ran’s hair was mussed, and she was wearing Shinichi’s coat. They were both red-faced, and for some reason, Shinichi was actually carrying Ran. But they both looked rather happy…
“Sorry we were gone so long. We went for a walk in the garden,” Shinichi apologized; he bent to set Ran’s feet on the ground before letting her go. It was obvious that she was only standing on one leg, and she leaned on Shinichi’s shoulder for balance. Straightening up, he took a deep breath and added, “And we got lost. Did you know there was a hedge maze out there? I certainly didn’t know there was a hedge maze out there.”
“So that’s why you went missing like that,” Heiji nodded.
“Yeah. My fault, really,” Ran said sheepishly; it was partially the truth. “And I tripped. And I think I twisted my ankle. So could we maybe continue this inside? Preferably somewhere with a chair I can sit in?” She did manage to look fairly pathetic then.
Heiji shot the Inspector a look, and Megure nodded. “We’re done here. Thanks for your help.”
Meanwhile, Ran looked up towards the building and winced. “Oh lord…” she raised a hand and pointed. “Stairs.”
Shinichi bent over and put his hands on his knees. He seemed rather winded. “Okay…gimme a sec…”
The Tokyo detective was nearly pushed over as Hattori moved between him and Ran. “You take five. ‘Scuse me, Neechan.” And with no further ado, he picked Ran up in the same fashion Shinichi had…and started walking towards the building, ignoring the fact that Shinichi was sputtering.
Ran, on the other hand, seemed rather amused. “Wow…swept off my feet by two handsome guys in one night.”
Kazuha laughed. “I would call this evening a success.” She turned back to Shinichi, who was shaking his head and looking somewhere between amused and disturbed, and walked over to him. “So I guess you’re with me!” She took one of his arms and slung it over her shoulder and used that as leverage to pull him along with her.
“You’re all crazy…” Shinichi said flatly. Still, when Ran looked back over Heiji’s shoulder and smiled at him, he couldn’t help but smile back.
PS. Wow…this is the longest challenge fic (for any challenge) that I’ve written in a while! Or that’s what it feels like, at least…but anyway, this fic goes out to the excellently awesome magic_truth in honor of her twenty-second birthday! You’re all grown up now, love! Happy birthday, and I hope you have an awesome day!
Also, in case you didn't see it, the awesomely excellent “She who does not wish to be named” drew a picture to go with this fic! It's over on my LJ (candy__chan). She asked me not to put a name down, and I will respect that, but you should all go check out the glory that is that fanart!! SQUEE!!
Thanks for reading, all! Much love!
Corresponding fanart (as drawn by SOMEONE TOTALLY ANONYMOUS) is here!