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.
I thought you were the one who’d stay forever
But now forever’s come and gone
And I’m still here alone
Conan was worried, to say the least.
Not that anyone blamed the little boy for his concerns. It had been a busy, busy night, after all. Between the first bomb going off, Ran’s amazing deactivation of the second bomb, and all the other resulting chaos, everyone was more than a little freaked out.
But there was something else tugging at the young adult mind that lay behind Conan’s glasses.
And the real warning signal for Shinichi was what he found when he tiptoed into the kitchen in search of a glass of water. After struggling around the kitchen (everything was so blasted tall!), he headed towards the couch, ice cold beverage in hand, and hopped up to sit and nurse his drink and think for a while. But as he was looking around absently, thinking about Ran and the events of the night when he saw something that seemed a bit out of the ordinary.
The paper bag sat innocently beside Kogoro’s desk, in the office. And something, some random intuition, made him want to take a closer look. Sneaking over, he peered inside. He saw a small heap of bright red fabric—the polo shirt that Ran had bought as a birthday gift for Shinichi. She had planned to give that to him at midnight at the movie.
But Shinichi hadn’t made it to the movie that night, and Ran hadn’t gotten to give him the present.
He let her down again.
Granted, she didn’t seem to blame Shinichi for not being there at the time, what with the building blowing up and all. First of all, he had talked her through disarming the bomb, and gone so far as to be willing to stand on the other side of a wall until she cut the last cord. If you die, then I will too, he had said. And he meant it—he would have died with her there.
She had been preoccupied with the aftermath of that attack—getting checked out at the hospital, talking to the police, and dealing with her father’s overprotective nature. But now that she was home, and she’d had some time to think, the shadows were creeping back into her eyes.
His water now sat on the table forgotten. He sat on his knees beside the paper bag, clenched fists resting on his thighs, trying to think of a reasonable plan of action. But his thoughts kept drifting back to one horrible thought. He’d let her down again.
Conan sighed. Well, best to find some pretense on which he could at least check on her. And lo, there was a good excuse right in front of him. Grabbing the paper bag possessively in both hands, he headed out of the office and up the stairs to her room, completely forgetting his water glass. It wasn’t important anymore.
Her door was closed. He momentarily considered that perhaps she was in bed, but realized that with everything that had happened, there was absolutely no way she would be asleep. Thus decided, he tapped on the door, but heard no response. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and inched inside before closing the door behind him.
Ran was sitting on her bed, her back against the wall, staring straight ahead. It seemed that she hadn’t even heard him come in. She could have very well been a statue, silent and unmoving.
“Ran-neechan?” Conan said quizzically. He held out the bag. “You left this downstairs.” No answer, so he tried again. “It’s for Shinichi-niichan, right? I bet he felt really bad about having to leave again.” Still nothing. “Ran-neechan? Here. I brought this upstairs for you.”
This time, he saw and heard her take a shaky breath, and her voice was trembling when she replied, “T-thank you, Conan-kun. You can just set it by the door. You should be in bed, it’s late…”
When the moonlight cut through the clouds and washed over her features, he could see that her azure eyes were shining silver-blue because of the tears gathering there. But she took a deep breath and tilted her head back against the wall, not yet allowing herself the weakness of tears.
“Why did he leave?” Ran asked softly, still stalwartly refusing to shed those tears. “We could have died tonight. I wanted to see him. And it’s his birthday. He knew I was waiting for him. Why did he run off again? Why does he always disappear when I need him the most?” Her self-control shuddered ever so slightly then, and the first tear slipped down her cheek.
Conan was silent a moment. Then he clambered up onto her bed and wrapped his small arms around her neck in the best hug he could muster. He felt her tense in surprise; it wasn’t often that he went out of his way to initiate physical contact of any kind, and so his gesture startled her.
“Ran-neechan…” he swallowed hard, determined to say what he knew he needed to at this point. For her sake. “If Shinichi-niichan makes you cry so much, why don’t you forget about him?”
“Baka!” Ran snapped angrily. “Conan-kun, I can’t just forget him! Baka!”
Conan had jumped back, startled at her anger. Now he sat staring at her with wide eyes from the other end of the bed. “But…” Conan began uncertainly before he looked down, his voice genuinely wavering, “…I hate it when you cry.”
The anger in Ran’s face melted away instantly, giving way to her real feelings of sadness and guilt. She had no right to snap at him—he was only trying to help. And Conan was just a child, there was no way he could know what it felt like to find that one special person. He couldn’t possibly understand. He just wanted her to feel better and stop crying.
She held her arms out to the little boy, who obediently crawled over and let himself be pulled into her lap for a tight hug. “Oh, Conan-kun, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. But I can’t just forget Shinichi. That would be like…like…” She grappled for an appropriate comparison. “…like trying to forget my own name. I just can’t do that.”
Normally, this pose—gathered into her lap, held tightly against her—would have sent Shinichi straight to the point of spontaneous combustion, but that was the farthest thing from his mind. She was falling apart now, breaking up. He had to do something before she was really lost to him.
“But all he does is make you cry and make you sad,” he whispered, leaning against her, feeling her tremble with emotions she didn’t dare release, especially in the presence of her young charge. Inside Conan’s mind, Shinichi felt himself shatter into pieces every single time she shook. “Why, Ran-neechan?”
“Conan-kun…” she said slowly, “I know you get sick of hearing this—you’re such a clever little boy, smarter than everyone gives you credit for. But this might be one thing that you’re just too young to understand. Someday—someday when you’re older and you find someone special, you’ll understand why I can’t just let Shinichi go.”
Conan seemed to digest this for a minute before he asked, “Could you try to tell me? I know I can understand. Ran-neechan, tell me—you’re good at explaining things. You always make me tell you when something makes me sad and I feel better, so maybe if you talk about it, you’ll feel better too. Please?” Behind Conan’s puppy-dog eyes, Shinichi waited uneasily.
There was a long pause while Ran thought. She pulled Conan in a bit tighter and let her head rest against the top of his head, feeling his soft hair against her cheek. He squirmed the tiniest bit—he had always been a bit uncomfortable at close proximity—but did not otherwise protest, perhaps sensing that she needed the comfort more than he needed to be at ease.
In your eyes I thought I saw my heaven
And now my heaven’s gone away
And I’m out in the cold
“Shinichi…” she began slowly, “…Shinichi and I have always been together, ever since we were children. He’s always been there—teasing me, helping me, looking out for me. Whenever I needed him, he was there. And at some point—I think it was when we were in New York that time—I woke up and realized that he meant a lot to me…a lot more to me than just a friend, I mean.”
Conan waited while she seemed to gather her thoughts.
To his surprise, she laughed humorlessly. “I can’t even tell you why I fell for him, really. He’s a mystery geek. Totally overconfident. Full of himself. Can’t stop babbling about Sherlock Holmes or mysteries. But,” she shrugged, “that’s Shinichi. I won’t have him any other way because that’s the person he is. The person I love."
Her expression darkened, though Conan couldn’t see it from his perch in her lap. “Am I really so stupid, Conan-kun? I can’t even keep him in one place long enough to tell him the truth or try and figure out what he’s thinking. I just can’t catch him…”
Conan shifted a bit, trying to think of something to say, anything to say! But he was surprised to hear the words practically leap from his throat. “Maybe you already caught him, Ran-neechan, and you just don’t know it yet.”
“No, I mean it! I talk to him sometimes,” Conan persisted. “I know he thinks about you a lot.”
“Really…?” she asked, not quite able to keep that one hopeful note from her voice.
She seemed to ponder this, then she sighed. “Sonoko keeps trying to tell me to find someone else, but—she really can’t understand. I just keep comparing them, to Shinichi, and no one ever matches up. It’s just hard to explain. Someday, when you fall in love, Conan-kun, then you’ll understand,” Ran finished, and fell silent.
Conan waited a moment, not daring to move, speak, or even breathe loudly. He was still sitting in her lap, her arms tightly around him, her cheek pressed against his hair; he didn’t dare disturb her. But when he was absolutely certain that she wasn’t going to speak again, he dared to ask, “Do you feel any better, Ran-neechan?”
“…a little,” she admitted with a weak, if teary, smile. She released him almost regretfully. “Sorry, Conan-kun. Didn’t mean to turn you into a teddy bear.”
He was sitting on the bed by her knees now, and he shook his head. “It’s okay.” He didn’t add that he liked it when she hugged him; that wasn’t appropriate right now, and the thought really hadn’t even occurred to him, all things considered.
Then he noticed that she looked extremely tired. She kept rubbing at her eyes, though that was partially from crying, he was certain. And she had been quite pale lately, he’d been worried about that…
“Go to sleep, Ran-neechan,” Conan ordered suddenly, pushing on her shoulders to somewhat forcibly coax her into a reclining position. “You’ll feel better in the morning if you get some sleep.” She let him make her lay down; it was only then that she felt how exhausted she truly was.
She expected Conan to leave after getting her head on the pillow, but she was surprised when he continued fussing over her. “Conan-kun?” she asked, already nodding off. “What’re you doing?”
“Don’t worry,” he said cheerily, all childhood innocence and wide eyes. “I can tuck myself in, just this once. Tonight, I’m going to tuck you in!” And true to his word, he set about trying to make sure the blankets were gathered around her just right for maximum warmth.
Ran couldn’t help but feel a bit cheered up at his attentions. “Conan-kun?” He paused to listen. “When you fall in love someday, you make sure you tell me all about it, all right?”
He looked startled for a moment before he smiled and nodded. “Someday, Ran-neechan. I’ll tell you everything. I promise.” And he went back to the tucking in.
She watched him with a faint smile; Conan really was her little angel, sent to stay by her side and watch over her when Shinichi had been taken from her. And he really was so much like Shinichi, always so concerned about her. So very much like Shinichi…very much, indeed…
As the child watched her breathing slow down and even out into the deep sighs of slumber, words from another day not long before floated into his mind. Ran’s soothing voice, explaining an old story to her adoptive little brother.
When a man and a woman are born who are destined to be together, their little fingers are joined by a red string of Fate. Through this bond, they will find each other, even if it takes their whole lives.
Red. His favorite color, and Ran’s as well. Supposedly their lucky color, it had nearly killed them both earlier that evening. She had been wearing the color tonight, he remembered; she looked good in red. But the more he thought about it, it really was a color that suited them both. For starters, he thought wryly, it was the color he turned whenever she decided to latch onto him, both as Conan and as Shinichi.
But there was more it. Red was a color of love, of passion, and in their own ways, they were both highly passionate people. He was passionate about soccer, Sherlock Holmes, and his mysteries. Ran was passionate about karate and ignoring everything he said about Sherlock Holmes and his mysteries.
But there was one more thing, Shinichi realized…one more thing that sent his pulse racing. One more thing that made his palms sweaty and his hands shake. One more thing that caused his heart to start hammering inside his ribcage.
His real passion was…
The small boy lingered by her bed for that extra moment, that thought chasing itself around his mind. Hidden behind the mask of Conan’s glasses, Shinichi watched her sleeping. It tore him up inside to see her so sad, but there was nothing he could do. She wouldn’t let him go, sacrificing her own happiness to wait so patiently for his return. Yet at the same time, he felt a twinge of happiness.
She hadn’t given up on him yet. There was still that hope.
She was such a strong person, and not just in the physical sense. She had held it together for so long, going on and weeping only in private—or in the presence of a small boy who sometimes seemed to know a bit more about what was going on than he probably should have. But even the strongest people could be shaken down to the core—he himself was a prime example. If he was in her place after everything that had happened that night, he probably would have fallen apart, too.
Ran shifted, and the covers moved. Smiling indulgently to himself, he reached down and adjusted the bedclothes, feeling her breathing beneath the blankets. He let his hand linger for one extra moment at her neck, feeling the smooth warmth of her skin and the gentle brush of her hair. A sudden twinge of longing struck a chord inside him.
She was so beautiful. It broke his heart—he had really been a fool, hadn’t he?
It was you who made the tears fall down
It was you who broke my heart in pieces
It was you, it was you who made my blue eyes blue
As he withdrew his hand from the blankets, he could have sworn he saw something on his hand, hanging down onto the bed. When he blinked, there was nothing there. But for that split second, he honestly thought he had seen something dangling off his hand. He couldn’t be sure, but it had almost looked like a thin red string.
Shimmering like a promise beneath the kiss of silver moonlight.
PS. This is mostly one big reference to Movie 1, in which the color red is a major factor. The story for this theme was one of the very first ideas I had when I started the challenge and looked at the theme list, and I’ve actually been working on it for about that long. I’m rather fond of it, so I really hope you liked it.
Partial lyrics are from the song “Blue Eyes Blue” by Eric Clapton, used without permission. It’s from the Runaway Bride soundtrack. I thought it fit those two fairly well.
Also, I wanted to get this one done because as of this posting, I am officially half done with the 30 Kisses challenge. Fifteen down, fifteen to go…hope you’ll all stick with me for the next fifteen, because there’s still plenty more to go. Much love!!