"Shin-chaaan! Are you ready yet? They'll be here any minute!" Yukiko Kudo called out to her four year old son, who was still in his room. "Shin-chan?" As she still didn't get an answer, she entered her son's room. Shinichi was sitting in his chair, reading a book. Sherlock Holmes, of course.
"Shin-chan! Did you hear me?" Yukiko asked.
Shinichi sighed. "Yes, yes..." He absentmindedly replied, not taking his eyes away from the book for one second. Yukiko went over to his chair and closed the book right in front of him. "Hey, I was reading tha-..."
"You can read later!" Yukiko took the book from his hands, forced him to stand up and started to straighten out his shirt. "Geez, your shirt is so messy! I don't get it, Ran-chan is coming over for a visit with her parents, don't you want to look good for her?"
"Mom!" Shinichi exclaimed indignantly, with a rather big blush tainting his cheeks. "W-what's the big deal anyway? I see her almost every day in pre-school, it's nothing special..."
"Geez, Shin-chan, of course it is something special. No class around, this is your home and so on...you should be excited!" Yukiko slightly chided her son. She finished making him a bit more presentable and stood up. "Just two weeks ago, you were all like 'Mom! Dad! I beg you, you need to save Ran, please!' and now it's no big deal anymore?"
Shinichi pouted. "I didn't say it like that..."
"Maybe, but it's what you meant." Yukiko winked, embarrassing her son even more. "Anyhow, about that incident with Ran-chan..."
His mothers sudden shift from joyful teasing to a more serious demeanor got Shinichi's attention. "Yeah, what about it?" He inquired.
"The other children in your pre-school have been told that your teacher left because of personal reasons." Yukiko said. "Did you tell Ran-chan what is was really about? That your teacher wanted to kidnap her?"
"No, I didn't tell anyone." Shinichi answered.
"Good, good...that should stay that way. Ran-chan's parents have decided that they won't tell her the truth, at least not until she's older, so don't mention it today or in the near future." Yukiko instructed.
"But..." Shinichi raised one hand to his chin, unconsciously imitating his father. "Wouldn't it be better to tell her? So she'll be more careful in the future? Shouldn't her parents warn her about the danger?"
Yukiko shook her head. "That's not our decision, Shin-chan. Ran-chan's parents know what's best for her, you shouldn't interfere with that."
"I don't know about that, they seem rather irresponsible..." Shinichi argued.
Yukiko put her hands on his shoulders. "Shin-chan! Promise me that you won't tell her."
"Sure, I promise..." Shinichi mumbled.
Yukiko narrowed her eyes. "Can I get that with a bit more vigour...?"
Before Shinichi could say anything to that, the doorbell rang. Realizing her guests had arrived, Yukiko hurried to the door, taking Shinichi by the hand and dragging him with her. It was faster that way. They arrived at the perfect time, just before Yusaku opened the front door. Many greetings were exchanged among the adults and a lot of polite, yet empty phrases. At least that's the impression that Shinichi got, before his attention was driven to the child that arrived with 'Eri-chan' and 'Kogoro-kun'.
"Hey, Shinichi." Ran greeted him, almost in a whisper, because the adults were so loud and overbearing.
"H-hey, Ran..." Shinichi replied, more nervous than he would've liked. 'Damn, why does Mom have to make such a fuss about everything with Ran? So irritating...' He thought.
Just a moment after the children quickly greeted each other, Shinichi and Ran were formally introduced to each others parents. Yusaku and Yukiko showed Eri and Kogoro around the house a little, before they all proceeded to go to the living room, to have something Shinichi would probably describe as an overblown tea party. He also spotted Kogoro and Eri thanking Yusaku secretly while they were outside the room getting tea, probably for that whole kidnap thing with Ran. Shinichi could only assume that, of course, since they obviously wouldn't have that conversation in hearing range of the kids, considering they want to keep it a secret from Ran.
Shinichi didn't pay much attention to what the adults were talking about during the 'tea party'. A lot of catching up among his mother and Ran's parents - apparently they went to high school together -, anecdotes about marriage and their lives. 'Boring, boring, boring...' Shinichi thought.
Unfortunately, Shinichi and Ran weren't able to talk with each other to fight their boredom. It wasn't because they never talked before, no, in pre-school they always talked to each other. No, the reason was that as soon as they started to talk, the entire attention of their parents suddenly focused on them, even when they whispered something. And since constant scrutiny is not the best basis for a conversation, they eventually gave it up, ate Yukiko's fruit cake, drank tea and more or less listened to the conversation their parents were having. Adults sure were bothersome sometimes.
After what felt like an eternity, Ran's father changed the topic to something that seemed very interesting to him. "Say, Yuki-chan, what kind of stuff do you have in your liquor cabinet? It seems so much more diverse than what we have at home..." Kogoro asked.
This prompted his wife to give him a disciplinary slap on the arm. "Dear, do you really think that this something you should be doing right now?"
However, Yusaku didn't seem disturbed by her reprimand. "Now, now, Eri-san, it should be fine, right? You came here on foot and not by car after all. Come on, I'll show what stuff is in there."
"Yu-chan, I kinda have to agree with Eri-chan on this..." Yukiko tried to intervene, but the two fathers had also stood up and were talking about alcohol, forcing their wives to stand up as well to try to watch over their behavior. This left the children out of their view for a while, which gave Shinichi finally a chance to escape his boredom.
Shinichi looked over to Ran; she tried to hide it, but the boredom was written all over her face too. "Hey, Ran, don't you think this is boring?"
"Huh?" Ran looked over to Shinichi, before nodding slightly. "Yeah, a bit..."
"Alright, then let's get out of here!" Shinichi said, before grabbing Ran's hand and dashing out of the room with her. None of the adults noticed their stealthy escape.
"Hey, Shinichi, where are we going...your house is so huge..." Ran asked after a little bit of walking.
"To the best room in here. It's amazing, trust me." Shinichi replied, before opening a door and entering with Ran. "Tadah, the library! Regardless of what one would want to read, he'd probably find it in here!"
Ran stared up at the seemingly endless rows of books that Yusaku Kudo had amassed here. She turned round and round the place, seemingly wanting to lay her eyes upon every single book that was in this room. "WOW! You're right, this amazing! So many books...!" Ran smiled in awe, before some sadness also mixed into her voice. "Sadly, we don't have many books at my home..."
Shinichi raised an eyebrow. "I guess you don't have an own library at home, but surely, you have some books to read?"
Ran shook her head. "None I could read. The only books Mom has are some complicated books about law stuff for her studies. And Dad prefers to watch TV...although he and my mother talked about some magazine my father read, but when I asked them about, Mom said she'd explain it when I get older..."
'Again with the When she gets older... what kind of parents are these two?' Shinichi thought, but he chose not to say anything of that sort out loud. Instead, he said: "Adults sure are weird sometimes..."
Ran nodded. To change topics to something that didn't make her sad, Shinichi went towards the place where he kept the books he read. He pulled out one of the Sherlock Holmes he was reading, handing it to Ran. She flipped through some of the pages.
"Wow, you can actually read this...? I only get like half of it." Ran said.
Shinichi sighed. "Of course you do if you skim through it like that, you have to read carefully. Anyway, yeah, I can read it, it's the simplified version, but Dad says he'll show me the real version once I'm able to completely read this one."
"Still, you're reading skills are awesome. I wish I could read that well...actually, Efune-sensei promised me to practice reading with me..." Ran somberly said.
'Efune-sensei...she wouldn't be so sad if she knew that he wanted to kidnap her...maybe I should tell her, regardless of what I promised Mom...' Shinichi thought.
Meanwhile, tears started to well up in Ran's eyes. "It's so sad that he doesn't teach us anymore...he was really nice..."
'Gah, why is she crying again...?' Shinichi thought. 'Maybe I shouldn't talk about our old teacher now...'
Shinichi scrambled to find something to distract her. He quickly grabbed her hand again, sporting another blush. "H-hey, why don't we read it together?"
"Huh?" Ran wondered.
"Yeah, we'll read it together and I can help you with the stuff you don't understand. It'll be more fun than listening to another hour of our parents droning, right?" Shinichi said, flashing her an inviting smile.
Ran brightened up almost immediately. "That sounds like a great idea!" She looked back at the Sherlock Holmes book in her hands. "Sherlock Holmes...I wonder what this is about...?"
Shinichi explained. "It is about a private detective, who solves all kind of crimes..."
"Crimes? That sounds scary..." Ran shivered.
"It's not really scary, this is one is about a murdered old man..." Shinichi continued.
"M-m-murdered? You mean he'll die...? How is that not scary?!" Ran exclaimed, still shivering. "Can't we read something without scary stuff happening?...Pleeeease?" Ran clasped his hand now with both of hers; this didn't help in making Shinichi any less nervous.
"S-sure, we have lots of books here after all. Let's see...this one has a crime in it...this one too...no, that one too...hm...these all have those things..." Shinichi thought out loud.
"Is that really all you read?!" Ran asked.
"Yeah, it is..." Shinichi replied absentmindedly. "Hm...I guess we could try this book my mother is always reading at the moment..." He went over to another row of books, pulling out one of them. "It's called Swedish Wood, I think it is a romance novel or something...definitely no crimes in this one though, that's for sure."
Ran brightened up again. "That sounds good! Let's read that!"
Shinichi frowned slightly. "But...I haven't read this one before and I don't think it is simplified...so I don't know how far we'll get..."
"That doesn't matter!" Ran smiled at him. "We'll have so much fun trying to figure it all out, and that's what really matters, right?" She looked so happy and anticipating of the fun she imagined to be ahead of them.
Shinichi heard his heart pounding faster at her smile. Again. "I guess..."
The two of them went over to the big reading chair of the library, which was so big that they could both comfortably sit on it. Shinichi opened the book; since he was holding it, Ran almost cuddled herself onto him, slightly resting his head on his shoulder so she could read as well. Their position was very comfortable and their closeness didn't make Shinichi nervous. At least that what his head said, but his pounding heart betrayed his brain. He tried to focus on the words instead. "So, let's see what's written here..."
A few hours later, Yukiko and Eri were looking around the house, looking for their children.
"What if they aren't in there, Yuki-chan?" Eri asked, a bit worried.
"They are in there, I guarantee it. If my Shin-chan is not in his room, he's usually in the library. He was probably bored and went off to read something; and Ran-chan either followed him or he took him with her." Yukiko reassured her. The two former princesses of Teitan High School entered the library of the Kudo mansion. They didn't have to look around for long, before very soft breathing drew their attention.
Ran and Shinichi were still sitting in the same reading chair, huddled together comfortably and both sound asleep. The book they were reading lay in Shinichi's lap, open on a rather early page; he wasn't holding it anymore, instead he had wrapped one of his arm around Ran.
Eri picked up the book. "Swedish Wood? I don't think that's an appropriate read for children...anyway, we should wake them up now."
"No, no, wait a second." Yukiko interjected and took out a camera from Yusaku's desk in the library. "They're looking so cute, I want to take a picture first." She said and squealed at the results. "Just look at this, Eri-chan, they are so sweet. This would make a great picture to show at their wedding, don't you think?"
Eri frowned as she looked at the picture. Not because their children weren't cute - they absolutely were - no, she frowned because of that last comment of her friend. "Come on, Yuki-chan, I know you loved to tease and play matchmaker in high school..." Eri vividly remembered the endless amount of teasing she and Kogoro received from Yukiko. "...but these are our children. Isn't it also a bit early for that? Sure, they play together in pre-school, but we don't know if they really like each other..."
Yukiko still smiled at the picture she took. "Don't worry, you should've heard how important it was to him that Ran didn't get harmed two weeks ago. It was love at first sight, I'm sure of it! Also, Swedish Wood is my book, Shin-chan never read that or anything else besides Sherlock Holmes stuff so far; no matter how much I tried to persuade him, he wouldn't read anything else. But apparently Ran-chan managed to get him to try something different, since I don't see any other books lying that he could've read instead; and if she managed to do that, they'll get along just fine." Yukiko beamed.
"I-I don't know if works that way...and I don't know if you can predict a potential wedding between the two from that..." Eri argued.
That didn't cause Yukiko to smile any less, the cuteness of their children just made her really happy. "Ohh, Eri-chan, still the killjoy from high school." Yukiko said with some playfully feigned indignation and a wink. "Still, we can at least agree that they look cute together, right?"
Eri put her hands up in surrender and smiled. "Yeah, I can't argue with that point."
Sixteen years later, Yukiko's prediction became true and the picture she snapped that day made a good addition to the bridal couple's album of past photos. During the wedding celebrations, Yukiko reminded Eri of their conversation back then. Ran's mother admitted that Yukiko was right, but ever the lawyer, Eri still argued that the prediction was just a lucky guess and not based on facts. Of course, that was only the two friends banter, because Eri was just as happy for her daughter and her now son-in-law like Yukiko was.
Reminded about the events of that day by the photo, Shinichi and Ran took a copy of Swedish Wood with them on their honeymoon and read it together again, managing to understand more than a few words this time.