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19 April 2007 @ 05:33 pm
Never Left Behind (30 Kisses: Shinichi/Ran)  
Title: Never Left Behind
Author: Candyland
Pairing: Kudo Shinichi/Mouri Ran
Fandom: Detective Conan
Theme: #24—good night
Rating: PG
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.

Once before I go, I want you to know
That I would do it all again
I’m sure I made the same mistakes
But I could make it through the pain
And joys and aches I knew back then
I would do it all, I would do it all again

With a cautious ease that spoke of plenty of experience at this particular activity, Shinichi inched the door open without a single sound, slipped inside, and closed the door again without so much as a creak. That took practice, considering that there was one specific spot on the floor that tended to groan rather noisily when trod upon.

Now safely inside, he tiptoed across the room, coming to stop beside the bed there.

And there she was, sound asleep. Even at her age, Ran was still a beautiful woman.

Resting his elbows on the edge of the bed, he put his chin in his hands. He should do everything he could to keep from waking her; she needed her rest now, as much as she could get. As much as he wanted to talk to her right now, he would refrain.

He had woken up not long before. Unable to get back to sleep, he had opted to just stare at the ceiling for a while. Suddenly, all he could think about was Ran, and he had to see her. And that deep, desperate urge to just be neat her couldn’t wait any longer. So here he was.

And now that he was here, he couldn’t bear the thought of leaving. So he sat in the darkness, taking great comfort in her simple proximity. He didn’t have the heart to wake her up, just for the sake of easing his own unease. So he took consolation in the fact that she was there.

He didn’t know how long he had been standing there, watching her steady breathing.

But suddenly, her eyes snapped wide open.

Before I go, I want you to know
That I look back with no regrets
When a lark was wearing thin
We were down and out, we still
Came back to win against all bets
Now when I look back, I still have no regrets

Ran was startled awake by someone leaning over her. She was confused for a moment, until she finally recognized the silhouette peering at her from the darkness; immediately, she felt foolish. Not bothering to sit up, she hissed through the shadows of night, “God, Shinichi, don’t scare me like that!”

She could almost feel him smiling. “Sorry. I was just watching you sleep.”

“You always do that,” she replied. Unconsciously, her hand sought his, and found that he was seeking her as well. Aged, wrinkled fingers linked together in a gesture that was commonplace for them.

“Is there room?” he asked.

A little scooting and rearranging later, there was room for him to join her on the bed, stretched out beside her. “I didn’t mean to wake you. I was just lying awake, thinking, and suddenly I wanted to see you.” He sighed. “I was just planning to peek, and then leave, but you woke up.”

Ran gave his hand the lightest of squeezes; she really couldn’t manage much more than that anymore. “I’m glad you came, though. I’m happiest when you’re here. I always miss you.”

“I saw the way you were looking at that young doctor,” Shinichi teased. “I think he likes you.”

She laughed, then sobered. He didn’t miss it, and waited for her to speak, sensing that she was going to. She didn’t disappoint, though it took her a moment. “Shinichi…” she finally whispered, her fingers tightening around his hand. “I’m dying, aren’t I?”

“Don’t talk like that,” he murmured back. He slipped his arm around her, a pose of comfortable familiarity. How many times in the past had they lay together in this exact position, her head pillowed against his arm and shoulder, his free hand intertwined in hers? Innumerable. It was something that they had eased into once upon a time, and that had last their whole lives.

But up until the last few months, there hadn’t been that dark cloud hanging over them, a shadow watching over their shoulders like a raven, waiting and ready to strike. It was constant, the knowledge that someday—sooner than any of them would have liked—that dark bird would attack, and it would be over.

“Am I dying?” she asked again.

“Of course not,” he replied.

“You liar…I’m dying,” she repeated once more, finally giving in. She had cried so little over these past months, opting to stay strong for her husband, her children, and herself. She smiled for them; she smiled for the nurses. But it was just Shinichi here now, and he had always been able to see right through her. She couldn’t have hidden anything from him, even if she wanted to at that point.

“Shhh…” he shushed gently, knowing full well that she was right. They had both known that sooner or later, this would happen. Ever since the horrible day they had received the news…

And it’s so hard to say goodbyes
When there’s so much that’s left unspoken in your eyes
But unless I spread my wings again, I’m afraid I’ll never soar
So hang onto the memories and hold me close once more
Once more…

It really wasn’t any darker in here than it had been before, on any other day. It wasn’t even that late, the sun was just beginning its descent towards the horizon, dying the sky in brilliant gold, pink, and orange. So why did the shadows seem to reach just a bit farther, the light seemed a bit dimmer, the darkness a bit heavier?

Shinichi held the door open for her and watched as she walked by. Ran was moving stiffly, as wooden as a puppet; she didn’t even seem to notice he was there anymore. She slipped off her shoes in a slow, rigid way that suggested she wouldn’t have done it at all if years of experience hadn’t conditioned her to the action.

Without a word she headed up the stairs. He followed her, letting her lead the way to their bedroom. Again, he might as well have been invisible. She was still moving so slowly, laying down on the bed and curling up a bit; her eyes stared vacantly at the wall.

He hesitated a moment before he made his own way the bed and sat down on the empty side, looking at her back. After a moment, the tension and uncertainty was just too much. “Ran?” he tried.

She took a breath—a great shuddering one, he noticed absently—before she answered. “Come here,” she said softly. “Please. Don’t leave me alone right now…” Her voice broke on the last word.

Shinichi needed no further encouragement to slip behind her and put his arms around her. For all his intellect, his intelligence, for all the love he still felt for her, he couldn’t think of a single thing to say to ease her pain—or his own. All he could do was stay beside her, feeling his own heart breaking in his chest, and hold her as she cried and cried.

They didn’t move for a very long time, not until long after the sun had set.

Just once before I go, I want you to know
That I have loved you all along
And even when we’re far apart
I only need to feel you’re living
In my heart and I’ll be strong
I love you just the way I’ve loved you all along

“I don’t want to leave you behind,” she cried against his shoulder. “I can’t leave you behind.”

It was one of the few times in his life that Kudo Shinichi had felt tears burning his own eyes, and one managed to escape, sliding down a face that showed the results of a long life blessed with many smiles. “I know…” He held her as tightly as he safely could. “I don’t think I’ll survive without you when it actually happens…” It sounded so over-the-top and melodramatic, even to his own ears, but he meant it.

Feeling his warmth against her, around her, Ran sighed and closed her eyes against the further tears that threatened to escape. “I’m so tired…and it hurts so much, Shinichi…but I promised you…” She hiccupped while she clung to him. “I’m so tired…”

“I know, I know,” he whispered soothingly. He couldn’t hold her much tighter than that without hurting her. When he spoke next, his words came out more than a little choked. It was his worst nightmare, come to life. Once upon a time, he had been so terrified of losing her to a dark assassin’s bullet; now, so many years later, he was losing her to a dark assassin, one that came from within. “Just…just go to sleep.”


“Go to sleep,” he repeated gently, moving to tug the blankets up around her.

She shifted slightly, not relinquishing her hold on his hand. “You’ll stay with me, right?”

“Always,” he murmured in reply, settling back into place beside her; a turn of his head was all it took to place a tender kiss on her forehead. “I promised, didn’t I? Now go to sleep.” He felt her nod, and felt that lump stick harshly, painfully in his throat once again as he gave her the most careful of hugs. “Goodnight, Ran. I love you.”

“Goodnight, Shinichi,” she finally settled into the comfort of his one-armed embrace, the familiar feel of his steady, even breathing. “I love you, too.” And together, they both slipped away to slumber…

And it’s so hard to say goodbyes
When there’s so much that’s left unspoken in your eyes
But unless I spread my wings again, I’m afraid I’ll never soar
So kiss me for the last time and hold me close once more
Once more…

Ran snuggled into her new husband’s warm embrace; she yawned happily.

He chuckled lightly. “You seem quite comfortable.”

“Hmm…tired…” she murmured. “Don’t move until tomorrow morning, okay?”

“You’re really ruining my plans for you…” he whined.

She felt herself blush, knowing full well what he meant. “Shinichi!”

“What? In case you weren’t conscious during the whole ceremony thing, Ran, we’re married. And that, my dear,” he cheered happily as he tapped the top of her head with his index finger, “is something that married people do. No more keeping my hands to myself.”

“You only kept your hands to yourself because I would have broken both your arms at the slightest offense,” Ran deadpanned, paused, and then added sheepishly, “…that I didn’t approve of, anyway…”

He laughed, letting one of his hands slide to the back of her head while her cheek rested quite comfortably on his chest. They were quiet for a moment; he was gently massaging the back of her neck, while she simply listened to the steady tattoo of his heart beating. So very peaceful…

“Hey, Shinichi?” Ran said suddenly, lifting her chin to rest it against his chest so she was looking up at him. She looked serious, almost fearful. “Don’t ever leave me behind again. Okay?” Her voice was soft, with the faintest note of pleading.

“Now why would I do that?” he teased. He absently played with a strand of her hair while his own expression turned somber. “It took way too long for me to get back to you in the first place. There’s no way I’m going to go running off again anytime soon.” A pause. “Not without your permission, of course.”

“Like you’d listen to me,” she grinned wickedly. “What would I know, I’m just your wife…”

But Shinichi was still looking down at her with that serious, thinking expression, his fingers still toying with her hair. “Ran…don’t you ever leave me behind either, okay?”

For a moment, she was startled; she hadn’t quite been expecting that. But Ran was smiling and nodding as she slid her hand into his unoccupied one to seal their promise. “Never.”

Just once before I go, I want you to know
That I have loved you all along
And even when we’re far apart
I only need to feel you’re living
In my heart, and I’ll be strong

The next morning, the nurse came into Kudo Ran’s hospital room to see how the elderly cancer patient was faring. Ran (she insisted on being on a first-name basis with her caretakers) was a favorite in the unit because of her kindness and optimism in spite of her condition. Her husband, an almost-permanent joint resident, was equally adored by the nurses.

But she was startled to find not one, but two elderly people, a couple who had been married for decades, both now at the ripe age of eighty-three, stretched out together on the hospital bed. Her head was pillowed against his arm and shoulder; his free hand was clasped between both of hers, and his cheek was resting against the top of her head, ignorant of the fact that the treatments had caused her hair to fall out.

Although somehow, instinctively, she already knew, she checked anyway. They were both gone.

Together, even in the end. It was for the best, though—after all, they had been together for so long, so many years of happiness. They belonged together, and couples like that rarely survived each other for long. It was a blessing for them.

But unbeknownst to everyone else, perhaps there was another reason. They had made a promise, the night they had been married, that neither of them would ever be left behind again. And they kept that promise to the last.

It was better that way.

You are the light that shines on me
You always were, and you’ll always be
So I had to let you know just this once
Just this once before I go

PS. …well, that ended up pretty much a la The Notebook, didn’t it? Oh well. A little different from the standard fluff and quasi-pervertedness of the others. But so few write about Shinichi and Ran when they get to the elderly state of their lives. So I did, bittersweet as it ended up.

The song lyrics are from “Once Before I Go,” from the Broadway musical The Boy from Oz, performed by Hugh Jackman in that musical (purr), used without permission. I listened to it while I was writing this, and it just seemed to fit in so many aspects.

And for the first time, I actually started to cry while I was writing a fanfiction. The part with the kiss and the goodnight—all of a sudden, there’s a tear running down my cheek. That has never happened to me before. So I really hope you liked it. Much love!!