Pairing: Kudo Shinichi/Mouri Ran
Fandom: Detective Conan
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.
The world was a shimmering white.
And the air was absolutely frigid, Shinichi realized as he stepped outside. The freezing wind slapped him across the face, and he jolted at the cold. Instinctively, he pulled his coat tighter around himself to try and keep warmer by trapping more body heat.
It was a fight to keep his balance in some places, though. The streets were slick with ice, and the snow continued to fall. It was exceedingly beautiful…but hazardous to his physical health as he slipped and slid all over the place.
He had known it was serious when Mouri-tantei had called him—that in itself was the first sign that something was horribly, horribly wrong. Since the truth of Conan had come catapulting out into the open with the discovery and subsequent downfall of the Black Organization, Kudo Shinichi had definitely not been on Kogoro’s List of Favorite People.
Or Ran’s, for that matter…
But that had been the subject of Kogoro’s frantic phone call: Ran. She had gone out for a walk nearly two hours before, and hadn’t come home. Calls to her cell phone went unanswered. In a panic, and unable to locate her, he had actually become desperate enough to call Shinichi and ask if he knew where she had disappeared to.
He hadn’t a clue, but he had instantly offered his services in helping to search. Said services were readily accepted, and the second the call was disconnected, he was sprinting, barely taking time to sling his heavy jacket over his shoulders and shove his feet into sneakers before he dashed out into the snow.
It would have been beautiful if he wasn’t so desperate to find someone who he wasn’t quite sure wanted to be found. It wasn’t like Ran to simply disappear. But with everything that had happened lately…
Her eyes…those beautiful blue eyes should never look like that. They should never have to cry.
Yet there were tears welling up in her eyes, running free down her face.
And she stared at him, not saying anything, as one would stare at a particularly awful specimen on a dissecting table in some lab. Horrified. Angered. So very sad…
And he swore he heard something shatter, even as far apart as they were.
But whether it was her heart or his, he didn’t know.
No. He wasn’t going to think about that now. First he had to find her. Once he found her, then he would see what happened. But his main goal here was to return her to her parents and escape before Kogoro decided that his flayed, tanned skin would make a nice throw rug.
But where was she?
And suddenly, the inner level of panic that had been digging at him gave way to the strangest sense of calm. His feet were moving on their own. They seemed to know the way, based on instinct alone. And he let it go. It was a place to start. He slid around a corner, nearly winding up flat on his ass…
…and she was there.
He’d found her without having any real idea how. Not that it mattered.
He jogged towards her, stopping only a few meters away. And he stared for a moment, taking in the breathtaking scene before remembering why he was there in the first place.
“Ran, what are you doing out here? It’s freezing! You’ll catch pneumonia,” he asked softly. If he spoke too loudly, it would disturb the scene. He wished he had a camera, but for the lack of one had to put the moment in his memory, of her standing there, looking up at the sky as the wind swirled the snow around her like magic.
“Thinking,” she replied, equally quiet. Her words carried on the wind.
He took a step closer; there was a slight squeak as the snow was ground beneath his shoe. “Your father called me. Nobody knew where you were. He was really worried.” He had to have been, to actually pick up the phone and willingly call Shinichi for help.
“Snow…” she breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly, watching raptly as her breath hung in the air like a cloud. It seemed that she hadn’t heard him mention her father. “Snow is so beautiful, but so very sad. Joyous and depressing at the same time.”
“Yes, it is,” he agreed, not quite sure what else to say.
“I wish I was a snowflake,” she murmured as he inched closer, closer…
Shinichi briefly wondered if she even remembered he was there, or if she was simply talking to herself. But he prodded gently, “Why would you want to be a snowflake?”
“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” she whispered.
So are you, he desperately wanted to interject, but she was still speaking. And he listened.
“Snowflakes are beautiful. No two alike, each one completely different from the others,” she went on softly. “I wish I could be one. You fall from Heaven itself, all the way to Earth. You’re carried on the wind—dancing, spinning, whatever you want. You follow the wind, floating above the world for a while. Flying,” she paused and took another deep breath and let it out, watching the resulting cloud with some fascination. “No worries. No cares. Just flying, all over the place. You make people happy, even though you irritate some.”
She paused. He waited patiently.
Her eyes slid closed, and her face turned upwards towards the dark sky. And she spoke again, a whisper almost lost to the wind and the falling snow. “And then you die quickly, in warmth.”
Another gust of wind shot by, and another jolt of shivers slid through Shinichi’s entire body in spite of his heavy coat. Ice clawed its way up his spine—but that chill had absolutely nothing to do with the frigid air and everything to do with his disbelieving ears.
“Ran—“ he started, but she cut him off.
“Dying quickly in warmth is much better than dying by inches alone, wouldn’t you agree?” she finally turned to look at him, and he saw the strangest look in her eyes. “You lied to me, Shinichi. You knew I was worrying over you, crying over you, and you just sat there and watched, all sweetness and light. I don’t know if I can trust you.” Her gaze dropped to the ground. “And nobody understood. You’re the only one who ever understood, and you were gone. I hated it. I hated being alone…”
Something stirred in him. “You weren’t alone, though.” When she didn’t reply, he went on, “Ran, my parents wanted to take me off to America with them. Remember when Conan’s mother showed up? That was my mother. They wanted to take me back with them, so they came up with that ruse so you wouldn’t worry. But I wouldn’t go. I…I couldn’t just leave you.”
Ran was silent.
He kept walking towards her. The couple of meters between them seemed an ocean, one that he could never hope to transverse. He would never get to her. “My life was in danger, and everyone connected to me could be in danger. I was a child to protect myself…but I was Conan for you, and you only.” He sighed. “I didn’t want you to be lonely.”
Still, she did not speak. It was a little unnerving.
He swallowed hard, trying not to be distracted by the way the snowflakes were sprinkled on her hair, standing out white against the dark brown color of her mane. The chilly wind blew stray strands across her face, and he repressed the urge to reach out and brush those errant locks away from her nose and behind her ear so it wouldn’t obstruct her face.
He was almost ready to throw himself to his knees on the ground and start begging when she finally spoke. “You stayed…for me?” she said softly. The blank, lost expression shifted to confusion, and…did he dare to dream that he saw hope there?
Shinichi nodded. “For you.” His voice caught painfully in his throat, and he swallowed hard to try and dislodge the lump there. He had one chance to make things right, and damned if he was going to let his body betray him again, as it had so many, many times before. “You say the snow is beautiful. Ran, have you looked in a mirror lately?” And his volume control vanished and no more words would come out.
Her jaw dropped a little, and she seemed to stumble over her words for a minute before she managed to answer him. “You…I…” she hesitated, “…you think I’m beautiful?” When he nodded, she looked absolutely stunned. “Shinichi…”
Some little voice in the back of his mind was telling him that he needed to take her home. Who knew how long she had been out here in the cold and snow and ice? The wind was still harsh, attacking them with all of winter’s fury. Her parents were at home, absolutely frantic. He’d come to find her and return her to them, but now she was here and he was here and she was listening.
It was now or never.
“I know this isn’t what you deserve,” he said quietly, continuing to move cautiously towards her. If she backed away, he would stop, but she simply watched him, azure eyes wide in a face that was even paler than usual. Ignoring his trembling hands, he went on, “This isn’t how it should be. It’s not romantic or anything—not that I’m very good at that, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.” That last was accompanied with a soft, self-deprecating laugh that held little humor. “And I don’t have flowers or anything for you…hell, I’m just making a huge mess of this…” He looked down and took a deep breath. “But…”
His eyes lifted and met hers steadily. She waited expectantly.
“Ran…I love you,” he said simply. No embellishment, no elaboration, just the simple truth.
She looked at him with eyes that shone silver-blue. He felt as though she was looking straight through him, right down into his very heart. But, he realized, if she really could see that, then she could see that he was telling a mere smidgen of the truth.
Some things—some emotions—just couldn’t be adequately put into spoken speech.
She was an arm’s reach away now…no, less than that. All he had to do was reach out and—
Shinichi’s hand moved of its own accord. His fingers slid to her arm, running up the sleeve of her coat to her shoulder. He inched a bit closer still; now they were close enough that he could actually feel her warmth, and his fingers slid to her neck, grazing gently over her cool skin.
Nearly a minute had passed since his confession, and she had not yet spoken. She offered no sign of a reaction whatsoever. Only her eyes gazing steadily up at him. It would have been unnerving if he wasn’t so spellbound by those twin sapphires glowing in the night.
His fingers, still acting with a mind of their own, slid up into her hair, running through the length of her chocolate-colored locks. “Are you all right?” he asked softly. Perhaps it was a response to the question, but she moved, her hand slowly reaching up to his shoulder.
The feeling of uncertainty returned, and Shinichi bit his lip. “…Ran?”
“Shhh…” she whispered as her fingers caught the color of his coat. Using that as leverage, she drew his head down towards her. He offered no resistance at all, instead letting himself be pulled closer as he pulled her closer. Ran’s eyes closed, and he followed suit as he felt her warm breath on his face.
Her name was a whisper carried on the last sigh of air to rush past his lips as they closed gently on hers. Her hands on his face drove off the cold, and her arms around his neck chased away the exhaustion of the late hour. The feel of her hair tangled like rough silk in his fingers staved off the persistent doubts, and the feel of her lips against his banished the last remnants of fear that he had lost her forever.
The night was still now. The biting wind, which had carried the freezing touch of winter to so many, had now passed through and move on in search of a new place, as it was wont to do. Ever moving and ever changing—just as it had always been, just as it had always done.
In the quiet stillness of the darkened street, two young lovers reclaimed each other. They had been dragged through Hell itself, nearly parted forever. Clinging to each other, they were not cold by any means, but warmed by each other. And the snow fell quietly around them, with no wind to disturb its journey to Earth. In the dim light, it sparkled, like diamonds scattered on the cold, cold ground.
Shimmering like magic.
PS. The whole speech about wanting to be a snowflake and “dying in warmth” was actually something my friend Josh said during an MSN conversation. I thought it was a beautifully haunting statement, and asked if I could borrow it. It inspired the entire chapter. Thanks, Josh!
This…turned out a little weird. But I had fun. Got snow on the brain ‘cause we had our first snow a couple of days ago. Yay for Iowa winters, huh? Oh well. Thanks again, everyone! Much love!!