Chapter 1: The First Visit
"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.
Chapter 2: Married At Age Six
Oct. 6th - ShinRan Week Day 2 - Topic/Prompt: Growing Up
After their exciting childhood adventure, Shinichi and Ran are back in the everyday school life. Back on first name basis, they're getting labeled with something that would stick with them all the way until they were grown up.
"I like Ran! I wanna hear Ran!...Is that...okay?"
"I-if you want...th-then I guess it's okay..."
"Really?! That's great, Shinichi!"
The holidays, in which Shinichi and Ran got to see a magnificent sunset and returned to first name basis, were over. Today was the first day of school since then and Shinichi was a bit nervous. Not because of Ran, not much more than usually, but because of his other friends. Well, classmates he was on friendly terms with would be a more fitting description, they weren't really his friends like Ran was his friend. But still, their talks about how girls were silly and their teasing about how Shinichi and Ran addressed each other with their first names only, was the reason Shinichi wanted to change it to Kudo-kun and Mouri in the first place. However, on the roof he told Ran that first names would be okay. So, he would either hurt Ran's feelings by addressing as Mouri again (not that he really wanted that, it felt really unnatural while he did it) or lose face in front of the other boys. Not the best social situation for the six year old Shinichi to be in.
At school, it all went well, until the day was over. Shinichi had just finished putting on his shoes when he was approached by Ran.
"Hey, Shinichi, do you want to over to my place and do homework together? I think I might need some help..." Ran asked.
Shinichi nodded. "Sure, Ran, that should be fine. My parents don't expect me to come home that early anyway."
Just as they wanted to head home, three of Shinichi's classmates he was on friendly terms with stepped out from behind a row of shoe lockers. The biggest of the three boys raised an eyebrow. "Oi, what was that, Shinichi-kun? What happened to Mouri?"
Shinichi looked from the boys to Ran and back to the boys. He made a split second decision to...avoid the situation. "I don't know what you're talking about." He turned to Ran. "Let's go..."
Shinichi and Ran turned around and left the school building, but the three boys followed them outside.
"Hey, hey, hey, what's with the cold attitude, Shinichi-kun? Didn't we want to go to the park and play some soccer?" The slim one of the three boys asked.
The big one of the boys faintly dribbled with a soccer ball to emphasize that point. "Yeah and you just wanna go home with a girl? Geez, grow up! She isn't like your wife or something, so come on, ditch her and play with us!"
Shinichi wasn't really sure what to do. "Ah, maybe some other time..."
"It's fine..." Ran said. Shinichi turned around to her; tears were starting to well up in her eyes. "You don't have to come with me..."
Shinichi wanted to say something, but the big boy spoke first. "Hehe, is that little girl about to bawl just because her husband won't play with her? Tsk, what a crybaby!"
"Oi, that's enough!" Shinichi screamed, suddenly getting loud and furious, making Ran and the three boys look at him in confusion. "Don't call her a crybaby! WHO DO THINK YOU ARE!?" Shinichi was now standing right in front of the three boys. "And that's Kudo-kun for you, because you are not my friend!" Then Shinichi kicked the soccer ball so far in the air, that it landed on the roof of the school. He went back over to and wanted to leave with Ran, but she pointed to the three boys.
They weren't happy about their soccer ball getting kicked on the roof. They were pretty angry, with the biggest of three cracking his knuckles. "Alright, Kudo-kun, if we're not your friends then you won't a little comeuppance...right?"
As the boys took steps toward Shinichi and Ran, they both took steps back in turn. "Shinichi, what are we going to do?" Ran asked.
Shinichi knew they had no chance fighting back. Damn, if only one of them were practicing martial arts! He grabbed Ran's hand and said, "Let's make a run for it!"
Ran hastily nodded and they both dashed toward the gate of the school yard.
"HEY, COME BACK HERE!", one of the three boys yelled behind them, before beginning pursuit.
30 minutes later, Shinichi and Ran had shaken them off and arrived at Ran's home, heavily panting. While changing their shoes for slippers, Shinichi noticed something strange. "Hey, Ran, there aren't any slippers missing, is your Mom not home?"
Ran shook her head. "No, I'm always alone when I come home nowadays."
Shinichi raised an eyebrow. "How come?"
"Because of her job, of course..." Ran answered instinctively, before realizing something. "...ah, that's right, you haven't been here lately, so you probably don't know yet. Mom finished her studies and is now working as a real lawyer! She's working hard on her first case right now; although it is rather weird how she always says that she's gonna do well today and then comes home frustrated how tomorrow will be the worst and that she won't do well, only to be optimistic in the morning again. I guess being a lawyer is more complicated then it seems..." The two of them sat down in the living room and spread their school stuff all over the table. Ran continued, "but yeah, Dad has to work very long at police headquarters and Mom now too for her job. They're both pretty stressed about and don't really talk too much anymore, seems like being an adult is hard work..."
"Huh, is that so...", Shinichi said.
"Yep. But it isn't too bad, I usually make something small to eat for myself and do my homework until Mom or Dad comes home." Ran explained. "Oh, that reminds me: I'll make a little snack for you too, okay?"
Shinichi nodded. "Sure, if it isn't too much trouble..."
"No, no, not at all." Ran said, being already in the kitchen, rummaging around. A few minutes later, Ran came back, carrying two nicely made snacks and one special snack. She gave Shinichi one of the regular and the special snack.
Shinichi pointed at the special one. "For me?"
Ran eagerly nodded. "For bravery. I wouldn't have dared to shout at them, these boys were all taller than we. So I thought you deserved a reward! Taste it, taste it!" Shinichi took a few bites and chewed it carefully. "And...how is it?"
Shinichi smiled. "It's really good." For some reason though, Ran was not convinced.
"Really? You're not just saying that to make me feel better?" She asked.
"Huh? What's with that response? If I didn't like, I would just say so, no?" Shinichi answered, slightly irritated.
"I don't know...Mom sometimes asks Dad about that and they fought about it recently. Mom's cooking is not very good, you see..." Ran said, feeling a bit bad for ticking off her friend.
Shinichi sighed. "Look, Ran, whatever your father says or doesn't say, I don't know, but I don't see the point in lying about how food tastes, okay? When I tell you that it's good, then I think it is good. Alright?"
Ran nodded and brightened up immediately. The two six year olds finished the foods while chatting about less important and worked on their homework until it was time for Shinichi to go home.
The next day at school picked up right where the previous had ended, with trouble. Shinichi had to face the consequences of kicking another child's soccer ball on top of a roof. However, since enough people saw from a distance that the boys were indeed picking on him and a girl, that they also wanted to beat him up afterwards and since they also recovered the soccer ball from the roof, both Shinichi and the three boys got away with a light scolding about how Fighting is bad! and There are other ways to solve personal differences and all that good, educational stuff.
The repercussions from their classmates were the bigger issue in comparison. Plenty of witnesses for the sort of bullying the three boys did, also meant there were plenty of witnesses for Shinichi and Ran calling each other by first name, the two of them having plans to spend the day together, Shinichi getting all defensive over a girl and Shinichi grabbing Ran's hand while running away together. Thus, Shinichi and Ran were branded the married ones by their peers. It was quite a teasing for the whole day.
Shinichi was less affected by that; he already had kind of a reputation as a cool kid, being both athletic with his soccer skills and pretty smart, so most of the boys left him alone. However, the three boys from yesterday were busy badmouthing Shinichi behind his back. Ran, on the other hand, got her share of teasing very directly. The other girls were just as bad with their Boys are silly attitude as the boys were with their respective Girls are stupid attitude. It didn't help that one of more popular girls was the sister of the boy who actually owned the soccer ball, giving her a special motivation to pick on Ran.
Like many other horrible days that didn't seemed to end, the day ended relatively soon in reality. Ran was done with her share of cleaning up the classroom and headed for the exit of the building, where Shinichi - who snuck out of cleaning duties...again - was waiting for her. After yesterday, they agreed that they should walk home together again, like they always used to do before elementary school started. Ran was almost there, she could already see him waiting at the entrance, when Sonoko caught up to her.
"Ran-chan...! Ran-chan, wait!" Sonoko exclaimed, panting from the running she had to do to catch up to Ran.
"I-I wanted to apologize for today..." Sonoko said, biting her lip. "I haven't been a good friend today...I should've stood up for you more, but instead I just went along with the other girls..."
Ran gave her friend a little smile. "It's okay, Sonoko-chan, really. I know you didn't mean it." She said and continued to walk to the exit.
"You know..." Sonoko said, prompting Ran to stop walking again. "...these things about Shinichi-kun kicking some ball somewhere and that he snubbed his boy friends for you, that will probably be forgotten in like a week or two...but if you're always going to walk home together and continue to behave like you did in pre-school...then that thing about how you're married will probably stick with both of you...you kinda are, actually..."
Ran considered what Sonoko said for a moment. "Fine. That's better than the alternative." She turned around to her friend with a smile. "See you tomorrow, Sonoko-chan."
"Yeah...see you..." Sonoko mumbled, as she watched Shinichi and Ran happily chatting and walking home together.
"Weeeell, what a lovey dovey scene, you two! You know, when a couple draws a shape in the snow, the snow will melt!" Sonoko shouted uphill onto the ski track.
"Damnit, Sonoko, are you stupid?! Don't shout things like that!" Shinichi shouted at her.
"You don't understand!" Ran hastily added.
"Ohhhhhhh, but you two were together the whole time!"
"You skipped skiing class to watch a movie together with your wife?"
"Idiots! It's not like that!" Ran hastily shouted at her classmates.
"Geez, Sonoko, you're always talking about boys!" Ran said with a smile.
"Oh, how nice it must be for those of you who already have a husband! After all, didn't you buy that swimsuit for Shinichi-kun?" Sonoko grinned back at her friend.
"Huh...? Ah, maybe..." Ran said, completely flustered.
"What's this? You just got back and you're entering with your wife?" Their classmates asked.
"Idiots! It's not like that!" Shinichi barked back at them.
"Could you please write 'To Shinichi' on it?" Ran asked, with a slight blush of embarrassment on her face.
Ray Curtis smiled. "Ah, your boyfriend?"
"I-it's not like that..." Ran said, defensively waving her hands.
"Why don't you show me some photo albums and we can have a nice, long chat! Like about your boyfriend!" Sera winked.
"Whaaat?!" Ran screeched.
"But you have nothing to worry about, Ran! Your husband's father is already a best-selling author, so even after you get married, you won't starve!" Sonoko teased with a giggle.
"It's not like that, it's not like that...it was kinda like that, wasn't it?" Ran asked Shinichi, having finished recounting many memories of them getting teased.
The two of them were standing on the balcony of a big mansion in the countryside. Courtesy of Sonoko, Ran was celebrating her 20th birthday here. It was already night - a beautiful, clear night with a gorgeous full moon - and the celebrations with many of Ran's friends had been going on for quite a while now, so Shinichi and Ran silently retreated to this balcony to get some fresh air.
"Often times it was like that...but still, sometimes Sonoko really stretched it..." Shinichi said. They were comfortable with admitting it now, the almost-relationship they had while growing up, because they'd been a real couple for about three years now. Both were all grown up now, 20 years old and ready for the life of adults. At least that was the situation on paper, in reality they were already more mature in their teen years than many adults.
"By the way, what's your real present for me?" Ran asked him, still looking at the moon.
"Huh? Real present?" Shinichi asked, but the confusion in his voice was just played.
"You were really struggling to find the right present for me, don't think I didn't notice. However, the present you gave me with the others didn't warrant for your nervousness."
"Brilliant deduction, Miss Detective." Shinichi slightly snarked.
"Thanks. So, what is it that you bought and haven't given me yet?" Ran asked again, still looking at the moon.
"Just a little something to raise the stakes..." Shinichi said, nervousness mixing itself in his voice. Unlike the confusion earlier, it wasn't fake this time.
"Raising the..." Ran started to say while turning around to Shinichi, only to find him kneed down in front of her, holding up a small box with a gorgeous ring in it. "...stakes?"
"I...I love you...I have for a very long time, for most of my life in fact and...and all these years I've spent with you, all the good and bad times we went through together, all these years made me realize that I also want to spend the rest of my life with you too. Ran, will you marry me?"
Tears of joy and happiness were welling up in her eyes. "Yes..." Ran whispered almost inaudibly, because this moment was literally breathtaking for her. Shinichi slowly slid the ring on her finger; it was a perfect fit. He stood up, gently putting his hands over her shoulders and they sealed their engagement with a kiss.
Chapter 3: On the Football Field at Sunset
Oct. 7th - ShinRan Week Day 3 - Topic/Prompt: Secrets / Protection
Shinichi is excessively practicing on the football field for a reason he won't tell and Ran's karate skills are put to the test.
Dribble, dribble, dribble aaaand kick!
Shinichi finished his football play and beautifully smashed the ball into the net. This would be the point at which the spectators would go crazy and his teammates would come over to him to celebrate a wonder goal. None of this happened however, because there were no spectators. There weren't any teammates either. Shinichi was completely alone on the football field of the Teitan Middle School, with only the setting sun as his spectator. At this point of the afternoon, club activities were long over and no one was around anymore, probably no student from any other club either. Except for Shinichi, who was practicing a certain play again.
Dribble, dribble, dribble aaaand kick!
Again, the ball went into the goal perfectly. Shinichi sighed. It wasn't a surprise that he netted a goal again. In fact, out of all the practice kicks he did today, not even a single one missed the goal. And he was doing this for at least two hours already. At this point, it was simply a grind; because in the important match earlier this week, Shinichi missed a kick like the one he had been practicing in the past hours. Still, if he had done this same exercise before that match, the result would've been the same. On his level, Shinichi was as much of an expert midfielder as he could be; he was almost able to make that play in his sleep. Which was exactly the reason he grinded practicing kicks like this: he needed to be able to make that play in his sleep and not almost makeit. Because of...
Suddenly, Shinichi felt a towel draping over his head. He lifted it slightly so his eyes weren't covered up and turned around, only to see his best friend behind him. "...Ran", he exclaimed, slightly dumbfounded.
"You got dirt on your face!" Ran said with a smile and pointed at the meant spots on her own face.
Shinichi used the towel to clean off these spots and loosely wrapped it around his neck like a scarf. He returned a smile to her. "Thanks..." He said, still a bit breathless from all the practice.
"Geez, you're practicing for such a long time again and on a Friday no less. Three days in a row. Sure, you missed that one shot in the match on Monday, but it was still a draw, our team didn't lose or anything. Or did the coach give you a very stern lecture that warrants so much practice?" Ran asks.
"Yeah...kind of..." Shinichi said, with a little blush that was thankfully hidden by the light of the sunset. The coach had told him not to beat himself up about the miss in the match and that he shouldn't worry. His teammates were asking him why has practicing so much, what his reason was, but Shinichi didn't tell them the truth, he kept it a secret from everybody who asked. Because the reason why he was practicing here for such a long time, and simultaneously the reason why he missed the shot in the first place, was standing right in front of him. The reason was Ran.
"Hey, you know..." Ran said. "...Dad is out of town for the weekend, so I was wondering if I should just come over to your place...you know, you take a shower and I cook something and we could watch that TV show we talked about this morning."
"Yeah...sounds good." Shinichi said, but raised an eyebrow. "Why so formally all of a sudden?"
"I mean, you seem kind of nervous...it's not like we don't something like that every week. Is something the matter?" Shinichi pressed the issue.
"W-well...it's just...you know...because..." Ran stuttered.
"Because...?" Shinichi insisted.
Suddenly they heard a loud voice coming from behind them. "SHINICHI KUDO!"
Ran and Shinichi turned around; about 40 feet behind them stood four rather bulky guys, about the same ages as the two of them. Judging from their uniforms, these guys were not from Teitan Middle School; no, both Shinichi and Ran recognized them as uniforms of the middle school which had the football match against the Teitan team earlier this week.
"Yeah?" Shinichi briefly replied, rather irritated. He was talking to Ran, couldn't these guys have the decency to wait until their conversation was over? How impolite.
The biggest of the guys made one step forward; he was their leader apparently. "We've been waiting for you! An-..."
"What do you want from me?" Shinichi interrupted him. He wasn't in the mood for long speeches.
"Huh?" The leader exclaimed.
"What do you want from me?" Shinichi repeated.
"Hehe..." The leader flexed his muscles. "We are here to beat you up!"
Both Shinichi and Ran didn't expect this. "Beat...beat me up?" Shinichi repeated (again).
The leader nodded with satisfaction. "Yep, that's what we're here for!"
"Why?" Shinichi asked, regaining his composure.
"Why do you want to beat me up? Did I do you any wrong?" Shinichi clarified his question.
"Of course you did! This is for the football match on Monday. You played against our school, remember?!" The leader said, irritated again.
"Yeah, but...it was draw and I missed the shot for the winning goal, so shouldn't you thank me for failing to beat you?" Shinichi asked.
"That's not the point! You're the captain and that's why you're responsible for robbing our team of the victory!" The leader exclaimed.
"Actually..." Ran interjected. "...if I remember correctly, our Teitan team was heavily favored and our team actually played better too...you should consider yourself lucky for snatching the draw."
"What...? Shut your trap, sweetie, this is nothing for girls!" The leader yelled.
"Sweetie?!" Shinichi and Ran repeated, both almost equally offended by that guy's improper way of addressing Ran.
"Yeah, you heard me. We're gonna give your boyfriend a nice, quick thrashing, so just stay out of our way." The leader said and cracked his knuckles. He and his friends moved towards Shinichi and Ran.
"Hold my bag..." Ran whispered to Shinichi, who was initially confused by her words. "I've got this, would you hold my stuff for a moment?"
Shinichi nodded and Ran handed him her schoolbag with her folded karate gi attached to it. "But Ran, are you sure? Four against one still seems pretty risky..."
Ran winked. "Don't worry, we practiced something like this."
Shinichi hesitantly nodded and took a few steps back. The four guys were now circling Ran.
"What's this? You wanna sacrifice yourself for him? How noble..." The leader taunted, before Ran kicked the side of his head, knocking him over.
The three others were completely taken off guard, so Ran was able to knock out another guy before the other could engage her. They were swinging their fists at her, but Ran blocked them expertly, dispatching quickly of one of the guys, before dealing with the other. While she was busy with him, Ran failed to notice that leader was standing again. She knocked down the guy in front of her, with their leader throwing a punch from behind; Ran noticed too late to block it and braced herself for a direct hit. Just before that guy could punch her, a football hit him in the head, causing him to fall over again. Ran smiled as Shinichi walked up to her.
"Thanks." She said to him, before turning back to the four squirming guys on the ground in front of her. They were starting to get back up again, clutching the places where Ran had struck them. Ran got into a fighting stance again. "You want more?" The four of them looked at her before running off as fast as they were still capable of.
"Hm, guess they won't come back any time soon." Shinichi said and gave Ran her bag back.
"Probably, but what if they tell their friends and gang up on you?" Ran said worriedly.
Shinichi gave her a carefree look. "It's fine, they'll keep their mouths shut about this. For some reason I think they won't tell anyone they got beaten up by a giiiirl" He explained, mockingly imitating the leader's voice on the last part of the sentence.
Ran pouted. "But I am a skilled martial artist..."
"Doesn't matter; the ego of jerks like that doesn't follow logic..." Shinichi sighed. "Let's bounce, we're gonna miss the TV show if we stay much longer." He said, packing up his things.
About ten minutes later, they were already on their way to the Kudo mansion. Shinichi didn't bother to change back into his school uniform; he was still so sweaty after all the practicing, that it would just unnecessarily mess it up.
Shinichi stretched himself. "So, where were we before these guys interrupted us? I think you were just about to tell me the reason why you were so nervous..."
"Ah...right..." Ran stuttered.
"Let me guess..." Shinichi continued. "...it was my mother, right? She asked you to look after me yet again?"
Ran smiled in defeat. "Yeah...Yukiko-san called me recently about when exactly we should visit them in Los Angeles later this year and she...she was just worried that you didn't eat properly, so she asked me to come over once in a while."
Shinichi clicked his tongue. "Tsk, if she's so worried then she should take care of it herself...wait, never mind, if Mom were too worried, she'd come over to Japan for a weekend. I'll take her asking you instead of that."
"Yeah, that sounds like her..." Ran couldn't help to smile even more thinking of Shinichi's mother. "But you shouldn't be so harsh with her; she's your mother after all, it's only natural for her to worry."
"I know, I know..." Shinichi sighed. "It's just...we had that conversation when they made the decision to move to the US and she said it was no problem; besides, she already asked you to take care of me when we said goodbye to them at the airport, didn't she?" He looked at her for confirmation and Ran nodded accordingly. "Anyway," Shinichi continued, "I think Mom is just sulky that she never got to be that kind of mother that set her child up for play dates in pre-school, so she's trying to make up for it now...not like this wasn't what we were already doing..."
Ran chuckled. "Now it's my turn. You didn't really answer me why you were practicing so hard. Come on, I can't imagine your coach really giving you that kind of roasting; and even if he did, you'd probably practice less because you'd think that he was wrong, right?"
"Maybe..." Shinichi said. "...they said it was fine, coach and my teammates. But...I just wanted to be really, really sure I don't miss it next time...sounds silly, I know..."
"Oh no, not at all!" Ran shook her head. "It sounds completely fine, that kind of passion for the sport is pretty common in martial art clubs actually, I've seen teammates do things more extreme than this, even though they've made a smaller mistake than you did, don't worry." Ran smiled at him and Shinichi returned that smile gratefully. They continued their walk home and Shinichi started to stare at the sky.
'That's only half of the truth though...' Shinichi thought to himself. 'But I can't tell Ran that I missed that shot because of her...that when I saw her in the crowd as I made that play, my heart skipped a beat and I lost all my focus because of that...I have to practice this shot so often, until I'm able to make that play in my sleep, until I can make it even if my heart skips a beat...because I don't want to have to look away...I can't possibly tell her that, it needs to remain a secret, because there is no way she feels the same, no way she'd reciprocate these feelings, right...?'
Shinichi made a small glance to the side where Ran was walking; still hoping the sunset would cover the blush he was feeling on his face. She was walking with a smile and humming happily, probably thinking about what she would make them for dinner.
Chapter 4: Name Scribblings
Oct. 8th - ShinRan Week Day 4 - Topic/Prompt: Funny Moments / Feelings
On a particular boring schoolday, Sonoko is playing a little, funny game. Ran is sceptic, but whether she realized it or not, it made her think about her feelings towards the special person in her life.
Ran stretched herself and sighed. This school day was dragging already and it was far from over. Thankfully they had a break now, but still, it seemed like it was going to be a very long day. Around Ran, Sonoko and other girls were chit-chatting about something that excited them very much. Ran went over to join their little conversation.
"You seem to have a lot of fun, don't you." Ran said to them.
"Ah, Ran!" Sonoko exclaimed, greeting her friend with a smile. "I was just about to call you over, you have to participate in this."
Ran came closer. "Participate in what?"
"We're playing a fun, little gossiping game!" One of the other girls explained. "We're talking about who likes which boy and then we scribble our names with their surnames, to see how it would like after a wedding. Here, take a look."
Ran took a closer look onto the sheet paper on the desk in the center of the girls. Indeed, there were some names scribbled on it, the first one read:
Ran looked over to the other side of the classroom, where most of the boys had gathered. Shougo Shiraishi was among them, he was on one the sport teams; though Ran didn't know which, the only teams she knew all the members of were her own karate club and the soccer team, although she didn't keep tabs on that ever since Shinichi left the club during the transition from middle school to high school.
She looked back to Sonoko. "Really, Sonoko, you brought up Shiraishi-kun? I didn't ever hear say you like him more than any other guy."
Sonoko gave her another smile. "Well, maybe I haven't talked about him in particular, but you never know, he is athletic and somewhat handsome, can't rule him out just yet."
"But still, gossiping about that kind of thing seems fine, but isn't writing your name like that going a bit far...?" Ran frowned.
"Oh no, it's just a little innocent fun, nothing more than the talks we usually have, really." Sonoko now sported a more teasing grin. "Speaking of what we usually talk about: now that Ran is here, I wonder from which of the boys we should pick a name from, who Ran likes...ideas?" Coming from Sonoko, this was a purely rhetorical question and all of the four other girls knew it, but they were happy to play along.
"Kudo-kun!" - "Kudo-kun!" - "Kudo-kun!" - "Kudo-kun!" The four of them said in almost perfect unison.
Heavily blushing and agitated, Ran tried to shush them. "K-keep it down, you're way too loud!" She said. Looking back to the boys, no one of them had noticed and Shinichi wasn't with them anyway. However, some of the other girls aside from Sonoko's group had notice and sported knowing smiles.
"Four out of four, Ran, the verdict is quite clear it seems. Here, scribble it under the other names." Sonoko said and gave Ran a pen.
However, Ran refused. "W-what, you want me to write my name with Shinichi's surname...? N-no way, that's just stupid..."
"But that's the point!" Sonoko explained. "Just a little, stupidly funny game. Here, if you don't want to do it, I'll do it..."
Sonoko already moved the pen over to the piece of paper, when Ran interrupted her. "Don't you dare!" Ran exclaimed. "I don't want this, okay? Play this game without me, I abstain." With that Ran turned around and went back to her desk.
The other girls looked at her as she walked off. "I hope we didn't offend her or anything...it was supposed to be fun..." One of them said.
"Yeah..." Another girl agreed. "...usually Ran-chan is not that reluctant towards gossip..."
"Don't worry," Sonoko calmed them down, "she's just in denial with her husband and maybe this is really not her kind of game. And you know, she doesn't hold grudges against anyone, tomorrow we will all laugh about this! Let's see, which one to pick next..." With the mood restored to cheerful again, the girls continued to play.
Meanwhile, Ran was already back at her desk. 'Stupid game...' She thought to herself and grabbed one of her pens to write down some notes from class.
'Writing your own name with the surnames of someone you maybe like, someone you can't quite rule out. Silly...' Ran mused while writing her notes. 'But...is it just a maybe with Shinichi? Ever since we returned from New York, he feels different somehow. I don't know why, but for some reason, I'm more nervous around him than usual and sometimes my heart starts to race when we're close. But we're friends, have been for so long, isn't this just friendship what I feel...or is this more? He's always full of himself, a bit too arrogant and so deeply emerged in mystery stuff, but still, he's so brave, cool, athletic, dependable and handsome...' Ran came to a halt because of her own thoughts. '...wait a second, WHAT AM I THINKING?! Calling him handsome and whatnot, I'm starting to sound like one of his fangirls...still can't believe he really has fangirls now. Although, there is a lot to like about him. But he made me cry so often in the past, even when we first met...then again, he always makes me smile too and makes me feel happy...and makes me feel...I don't know what to call it, but there is this unique feeling, that only Shinichi manages to give me. Wait...does that mean...could it be...that I'm really in love with Shinichi?'
While trying to make sense of her thoughts, Ran looked on the notes she wrote down and gasped. During the writing of class notes, she had also absentmindedly scribbled something down on the side of the paper.
'W-w-why the hell did I write this?! Gah, Sonoko's stupid game really infiltrated my thoughts more than I imagined...but...maybe...'
"Yo, Ran!" Shinichi said, appearing before her desk.
Caught off guard, Ran was startled and jumped up from her seat, scrambling all of her papers together, hopefully hiding her scribbling before Shinichi saw. "S-s-s-hinichi! Phew, you startled me..."
Poor Shinichi looked like a deer caught in the headlights, he didn't expect that kind of reaction from his friend. "S-sorry, I didn't mean to-..."
"No, no, it's fine, don't worry." Ran assured him. "I was just thinking about...some school stuff, that's all."
"Ah, I see. Well, I know that feeling when you think so hard about something that you kinda forget your surroundings." Shinichi said with a small grin. "Anyway, I just wanted to ask you where we're gonna watch the next episode of Detective Samonji. Watching it at your place was alright last time, but your father didn't seem to like us hanging around and I got the feeling he disturbed us so often on purpose...then again, he also doesn't like it when we watch it at my place..."
Ran remembered that evening. Kogoro was unnecessarily bustling around, maybe Shinichi was right and he did it on purpose. Since they've become teenagers, Ran's father wasn't too fond of Shinichi anymore for some reason, especially ever since his parents left; Ran and him also always got into a small argument when Ran went over to the Kudo mansion nowadays. Ran sighed. "We'll watch it at your place. Dad is just...I don't know, he's weird lately. Maybe it's because he's really missing Mom...we should organize another reunion. What did you propose after the last one failed? A visit at the local aquarium?"
Shinichi nodded. "Right, because your father likes fish so much..." Before he could anything else, the bell rang and their teacher entered the classroom; students around them made their way back to their respective desks. "Okay, so we're gonna watch it at my house. Same time as usual?"
Ran sat down and simply nodded again for confirmation; Shinichi went over to his own desk. While their teacher was beginning talking about the topics of todays lesson, Ran tried to bring back order into the papers she scrambled when he appeared. When she managed that, her gaze fell back on her scribbling.
She was already hovering her pen over the letters, ready to cross it out and make it unreadable. But somehow, she didn't want to, so instead she quietly teared the scribbling out of the paper and hid it in her bag. She could always dispose of it later, but it felt like disrespectfully wiping the writing out would bring bad luck somehow. At least that's what she told herself.
Ran looked over to Shinichi, who had boredom written all over his face already. Somehow, that made Ran smile too. Just looking at him and exactly knowing what he was thinking in this very moment, it just made her happy for some reason.
'This feeling...' Ran thought, '...the way it makes my heart race...this is love, isn't it?'
Chapter 5: The Deeds of their Parents
Oct. 9th - ShinRan Week Day 5 - Topic/Prompt: Trust / Pain
"I promise you: I'll always have your back, okay? Whatever happens, however you feel, I'll be right there for you; and even if I'm not physically there, I'll be with you in my thoughts, alright?"
It was still early afternoon, when Shinichi came to the apartment of the Mouri family. School had ended early this Thursday, so he and Ran decided to spend their longer afternoon playing a new board game that Ran's parents had bought. They each went home first to do homework and here Shinichi was; the game actually sounded kinda fun when Ran described. He rang the doorbell and waited for Ran to open the door. Kind of a long wait, actually, it took almost two minutes until he heard activity on the other side of the door and Ran finally opened it.
"Hey, Ran." Shinichi greeted and wanted to enter the apartment, when he noticed that she already had the board game in her arms and didn't look like she was comfortable inviting him in. "Do you want to play it here in the entrance?" He asked.
Ran's frowing face was lit up by a small smile, but it went as quick as it came. "N-no, I was just thinking that it such a beautiful day outside, we might as well play it in the park!"
True enough, it really was a beautiful outside, but something about Ran's behavior rubbed Shinichi the wrong way. While Ran was busy putting her shoes on, he heard a man's singing come from her apartment. "Is that your dad singing? Doesn't he have to work all day in the force?" Shinichi inquired.
Suddenly, Ran got even more embarrassed. "T-that's just...yeah, h-he's sick and couldn't work today." It was a total lie and Shinichi didn't buy it for a second. Just as he wanted to respond to the lie, Ran's father stumbled into the hallway. Kogoro leaned against the wall to support himself; he had a black eye and Shinichi could smell his breath even from this distance. He recognized the smell of alcohol; his own father sometimes smelled like that when he came home from a meeting with his editors and publishers, but it was never this bad, always late at night and not this early in the day.
"Ahh, hic...if it isn't Yuki-chan's brat..." Kogoro slurred. "...you seem to be spending more time here than at your actual home hic...sure hope that won't become a regular thing or else you'll be straining my nerves, hic..."
"W-we just wanted to go to the park, Dad..." Ran explained hastily.
"Fine, whatever...just be back sometime before your mother hic, gets angry or something..." Kogoro, stumbling forward a bit.
Ran hurried out of the door and closed it behind them. They could hear a silent thud noise behind the door. Seems like her father lost his balance and fell against the door. But the irritated mumblings about Where did this stupid door come from and the footsteps going away from the door were enough so Shinichi and Ran didn't worry about him possibly having hurt himself.
The two six year olds went over to the park in silence; Ran didn't want to talk and Shinichi didn't know what to say. They went over to some tables and started to set up the board.
"So, your father is not sick." Shinichi said.
"When did he get that black eye?" Shinichi inquired.
"Last night." Ran said sadly. "He went out after..." She hesistated for a moment and looked to the ground.
"It's okay, Ran." Shinichi gave her warm expression. "You can tell me."
"He and Mom shouted at each other again...he was already slurring words and then he went out." Ran explained. "Mom send me to bed, but I woke up because Dad made so much noise when he came home. I watched them through a small crack in my door, he eye was a bit more swollen then. And then this morning Mom explained that he would stay home today because he's unable to work...she was pretty angry...she's almost always angry recently..." Tears were welling up in her eyes.
Shinichi bit his lip and looked around the table, where they had already set up most of the board. In a moment when Ran wasn't looking, he quickly grabbed the papers with the rules and hid it. "Hey, where is the rulebook for the game?"
Ran looked at him again. "What? It...it should have been in there...weird."
"Well, you played this game before, right?" Shinichi asked and Ran nodded. "Good, then you'll just have to explain the rules to me first and then we can play."
"Oh, sure!" Rans expression brightened and she started to organize everything for a thorough explanation. "Alright, it's not that hard, first you've got to set up your figures like this." Ran demonstarted every aspect of the game and they started to play.
A few hours later, the sunset was almost over; it was getting dark already. Shinichi and Ran played in that park for a long time, Shinichi had to Ran some ice cream because she won their final round ("That wasn't fair! You played this game more than I have!"), and now Shinichi was walking with Ran back to her apartment. All in all, it was a great day they had in the park, even if the reason why they were there were rather unfortunate.
When they were in front of the building where Ran was living, Shinichi and Ran heard a pretty loud argument, very colorful language that wasn't meant for children like them to be heard. Hag and geezer were among less harmful ones.
Shinichi looked around and then up the building; there was one particular window open. "Hm, I think that's coming from that apartment." Shinichi theorized. "Wait, that floor and these voices, isn't that..."
"My parents." Ran somberly said. "As I said, this is more the rule than the exception at our place recently..."
"D-don't worry, my parents have fought like this too..." Shinichi tried to relativize her parents behavior.
"Like this? Almost every day?" Ran insisted.
"W-well, not like this...and only occasionally really, b-but still..." Shinichi tried again, but even he realized that he didn't really have a point.
"It's fine." Ran gave him a smile. "See you tomorrow in school." She said and entered the building.
"Yeah, see you." Shinichi said. He didn't like that smile of hers; usually it made him happy to see her smile, but that right now was so forced, such a pained smile. Shinichi didn't like that smile at all.
The next day, at Teitan Elementary School. The students were currently having a small break before the final lessons for the day began. Ran, busy like a bee, was eagerly writing down something in her notes, while her seatmate Shinichi was leaning back in chair and stacking his schoolbooks vertically.
A boy appeared in front of their desks. It was Yuuji Kaneda, one of Shinichi's former classmates he was on friendly terms with. "Well, well, are our married ones enjoying their Friday?" He set down his hands on their desks with so much force, it made Shinichi's stack of books collapse.
Shinichi sighed. "Look, Kaneda-kun, as you said it's Friday. Why can't you be less of a bother so close to the weekend. There's always tomorrow...or rather Monday in this case."
Yuuji clicked his tongue. "Tsk, if that's your wish, Kudo-kun, I'll leave you alone. But, Mouri-chan..." He turned from Shinichi to Ran, who looked rather confused. "How does it feel to have a drunken loser for a father, huh?"
Shinichi and Sonoko jumped from their seats. "Hey, what's with you?!" Sonoko yelled.
"That's right!" Shinichi added. "You don't even know her father!"
But Yuuji just chuckled. "Maybe not personally, but the tales of Kogoro Mouri reach far." He had the attention of quite a lot of their classmates by now. "My father told me at dinner how he saw Mouri-chan's father got all drunken in a bar and made such of mess of himself, that the owners of the place had to threw him. But he didn't want to leave, so he started a fistfight and got completely beaten up."
Laughter came from all over the class; predominantely from boys, but there were also some girls laughing. There were students who were rather uncomfortable with the whole ordeal, but seemed too frightened to say anything.
"Oi, cut it out..." Shinichi growled.
"And then the next, I heard he showed up completely drunken at work too. Can you believe that? A police detective showing up drunk for work?!" Yuuji continued, unimpressed by Shinichi.
Now Ran jumped up from her seat, tears already streaming down her face. "THAT'S A LIE! Dad would never do something like that! You're a liar!"
Yuuji shrugged. "At least I'm not a loser...unlike your father." His especially lame first grader banter earned him another round of laughter.
"W-wh-why are you all so mean?!" Ran screamed and dashed out of the classroom, Shinichi and Sonoko in full pursuit.
The two of them stood in their classroom door, looking after her.
Yuuji giggled. "That's seems like fun." He grabbed some of his buddies. "Let's go after her and make she doesn't forget her roots, hehe." The other boys nodded and wanted to go through the classroom door as well, but Sonoko tripped them.
"Shinichi-kun, you have to go after her, you can run faster than me." Sonoko said. "I'll keep these bullies busy."
Shinichi nodded. "Got it", he said and chased after Ran.
The boys she tripped slowly stood up. "HEY, WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!"
Sonoko clicked her tongue and dragged the boys into an argument, to make sure they wouldn't her two friends.
'Damnit, I'm pretty sure she ran this way, but where to no?' Shinichi thought, after running through multiple hallways. He looked around, deciding where to go next, when he heard soft sobbing coming from girls bathroom. 'Ran!'
Just as Shinichi wanted to enter the bathroom, a teacher approached him from behind. "Hey, hey, boy, that's the girls bathroom, you know? The bathroom for the boys is over there."
"I know, I know." Shinichi hastily said. "But my friend is in there and I have to get her-..."
The teacher interrupted him. "You're Shinichi Kudo from first grade, aren't you? Well, Shinichi-kun, I get that you like your friend, but you shouldn't friends, especially your female friends in the bathroom. It is forbidden." He explained.
Shinichi was losing his patience quickly. What did that guy think Shinichi was, a pre-schooler or something? "You don't get it! She's not well and I need to calm her down...can't you hear her crying?!"
"Well, yes..." The teacher said.
"And aren't going to do anything about that?!" Shinichi yelled.
"Hmmm...well, I have some spare time now and wanted to relax...you're friend will be fine, we should leave her a bit of room to breathe." The teacher answered.
After that sentence, Shinichi officially decided that he was done with that teacher and headed into the girls bathroom.
"Hey, I told you-..." The teacher wanted to stop him, but Shinichi wasn't having any of it.
"If you don't have time to help a student who's obviously in need of it, then you also shouldn't have time to lecture me about bathroom rules!" Shinichi barked at the teacher.
Luckily for Shinichi, there weren't any other girls in the bathroom. Even with Ran crying in there, he wouldn't have had any excuse to tell them, especially the older ones. He carefully approached the stall from where the sobbing emerged.
He shyly knocked on the door. "Ran? Are you alright?"
His friend sniveled. "I-I'm fine, thank you."
"You don't sound fine, Ran...I'll just wait until you're ready to come out..." Shinichi said.
"This is the girls bathroom, you'll get in trouble because of me..." Ran said between sobs.
Shinichi snorted. "Way ahead of you, I already defied a teacher when I went in here, so I doubt it will get any worse."
Finally something resembling a chuckle mixed in with the sobs. "Ge-geez, why are always so reckless, Shinichi, really..."
After another minute or two, Ran finally left the stall. Her face and eyes especially were red and puffy from crying. Shinichi took her hand, lead her to the mirrors and gave her some of the tissues he was carrying around (useful glove replacements while reenacting Sherlock Holmes scenes).
Ran looked a bit better, but still, going back to the classroom now would still earn her some nasty comments. On the other hand, they couldn't stay in here, the break was almost over. Outside the bathroom, they ran into the teacher who lectured Shinichi before he went into the bathroom. "I'm calling your parents for this..." The teacher dryly said, before cranking up the volume. "What were you thinking?! You can't just do that, especially after I told you not to!"
Ran winced at the sound of the teacher's voice and clung to Shinichi again. "Fine, call my parents, I don't care! While you're at it, tell them that you were ready to leave one of your wards to themselves when they were in need of help and that I had to do your job for you, I'm sure they will love to hear that!" Shinichi yelled back.
"You little-..." The teacher started, but a female voice interrupted him.
"What's the matter here?" The woman said. The teacher, Shinichi and Ran turned around to see Yajima-sensei, Shinichi's and Ran's homeroom teacher. "What did I just hear from my brightest student? You refused to help Ran-chan?"
"Ahaha, ha, Yajima-san, it's not like it looks." He tried to wiggle his way out of it.
"Then what is it exactly?" Yajima-sensei pressed the issue.
"Well...I'm...its just...I have work to do, you'll excuse me, yeah?" He said and hurried away.
"Hmpf, what a guy..." Yajima-sensei mumbled, before turning to Shinichi. "Now then, Shinichi-kun, would you mind explaining to me what was going on?"
Shinichi did as he was asked, a bit nervous because of the way that Ran was clinging to him, but he got the point across nevertheless. He left out the points about the bullying for now, because it would just unnecessarily complicate things, which was exactly not what he needed right now.
Yajima-sensei nodded. "Alright, but why was Ran-chan crying?"
"She's sick!" Shinichi lied. "Something with her stomach from what I could gather and she's really upset because she doesn't want to miss your class, but she's also really unwell!"
"Is that true, Ran-chan?" Yajima-sensei asked the girl. "Are you not feeling good?"
Ran sniveled again and whispered: "Y-yes..."
Yajima-sensei sighed. "I guess it can't be helped, you don't have to stay in class when you're sick like this, even if it is not infectous. Well, I guess I'm going to have to call your parents and ask them to pick you up..."
"You can't!" Shinichi interjected. "They're not at home yet, they are both working very hard right now."
"Maybe, but what else am I supposed to do? I'll just call them at work..."
"I can do it!" Shinichi proposed. "I know where Ran lives. We can still walk there, her condition isn't that bad. I can walk her home and watch her until her parents come home..."
"Is that so?" Yajima-sensei narrowed her eyes at the boy. "Ran-chan is really important to you, isn't she?"
"I-it's not like that..." Shinichi stuttered, with a blush on his face.
"Really? Well, if haven't seen any other student who cared so much about her. I would rather say that this amount of caring is unparalled by any student, even rivaling siblings." Yajima-sensei mused. The longer she talked, the more Shinichi blushed. "Alright, you can take her home, it should be fine; your grades are speaking for themselves, so you won't get in trouble there. You should know that I wouldn't entrust anyone else with something like this; and I don't think I would believe your story if it was about anyone else expect Ran-chan. Consider yourself excused for the rest of the day, both of you. Don't disappoint me, Shinichi-kun."
"I won't..." Shinichi responded. Since their teacher had some stuff to prepare, she left the two of them alone. Shinichi told Ran to wait near the entrance while he was gathering their schoolbags from the classroom.
Upon entering, Shinichi was greeted by some very frustrated boys, who were not satisfied by Sonoko holding them back. He ignored them completely and packed up his and Ran's bag, before walking over to Sonoko.
"I told Yajima-sensei that Ran was sick and had some problems with her stomach. I convinced her that I could take Ran home now, that way she won't have to face these jerks for a while." Shinichi explained in whisper, so only Sonoko could hear it.
Sonoko nodded. "Alright, I'll make sure that these bullies won't spread rumors and undermine your story and I'll make some extra copies of the class notes for Ran."
Now that all the necessary arrangements were in place, Shinichi took his and Ran's bag and headed for the entrance of the school. By now, the break was over, so the hallways were empty. Shinichi handed Ran her bag and the two made their to her apartment building. She was looking slightly better; there were still occasional snivels, but Ran didn't need the tissues Shinichi continued to offer anymore.
"Actually, there is something I need to tell you, Shinichi..." Ran said about half way to her home. She suddenly sounded a lot more happy for some reason.
Shinichi raised an eyebrow. "What is it?"
"About my parents...they're actually at home right now. Both of them." Ran explained and gave him an apologetic smile. "I couldn't tell you earlier when you talked to Yajima-sensei, I was still too shaken up. Dad is still called in as sick at work and Mom has taken a day off today; she told me that they were gonna talk about their fights recently and that they're gonna fix it. That's good, isn't it?"
"Yeah, that's great." Shinichi nodded. "But were going to have to stick with our story; that you were send home because you're sick, otherwise there'll be too many contradictions. And contradictions are very dangerous, or so my Dad always says. Just...just clutch your stomach and say that maybe some food at school was spoiled or something; you can say that you feel better after you rested for a while, maybe after you got some sleep. Got it?"
Ran nodded. She didn't want to worry her parents with the behavior of some jerks at school, not at such a critical moment. Her mood brightened the closer they got, she even started to hum and skip a bit as they walked. When they were in front of the apartment building, three things were different from yesterday: firstly, no loud shouting match audible on the street, which was good. Secondly, this time Shinichi was going to walk all the way up to her actual apartment door and not just the building; it was safer if Ran's parent saw him with her, if that day was ever brought up in a conversation between Yajima-sensei and Ran's parents. And thirdly, the smile Ran sported when she entered the building was a genuine one this time; it was the kind of smile that Shinichi liked to see.
When they arrived on the floor where Ran's home was, they were greeted by some weird sounds. The two of them came to a halt and listened closely, until Shinichi identified it as the sound of breaking tableware. 'Oh no...' Shinichi thought.
The sounds stopped and were replaced by angry voice.
"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE THROWING THINGS AT ME NOW! YOU ARE ACTUALLY INSANE, I MARRIED A CRAZY PSYCHO HAG!"
"PSYCHO HAG?! AT LEAST I'M NOT A GOOD FOR NOTHING WOMANIZER WITH A DRINKING AND GAMBLING PROBLEM!"
Undoubtedly the voices of Kogoro and Eri. Shinichi looked over to Ran and what he saw terrified him; Ran's good mood was gone completely and you could see in her face how any hope she had gained during their walk from the school to her home shattered right there and then; it this shattering of her hope had made a sound, it would've been louder than any of the smashing Eri just had done in their apartment. She trembled and tears were streaming down her face again, this time even more than in school.
"R-ran...?" Shinichi tried to carefully approach her. But before he could take a single step toward her, Ran dashed away and headed for the exit, crying harder than Shinichi had ever witness her cry. "Ran! Wait!" Shinichi yelled before running after her. "Damnit, not again..."
Ran just ran and ran. It was in her name, she was born to run and she wanted to do nothing else right now. She just wanted to get away from everything, not listening to Shinichi or any other person she passed by. Ran didn't even know where she was going; and she didn't see where she going either, the tears blurred her vision too much. In the end, she didn't know how long she ran, she simply stopped when her legs just couldn't go on any further. Ran leaned against some iron bars that were right next to hear; she wiped away some tears to orientate herself now that she couldn't go any further. Looking through the bars, she saw a place she didn't expect: Ran had come to halt in front of the Kudo mansion.
She suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder; it was Shinichi, she didn't need to turn around to know that. He was panting also as hard as her, no wonder considering he sprinted this whole way too. "Ran..." Shinichi started, but he didn't have any words beyond that one.
Ran turned around and threw her arms around him. "W-why can't they be happy? Why can't everything stay as it was...? I don't them to fight, I want them to be happy, a happy family...am I really asking for too much...?" She wailed on his shoulder.
Shinichi felt her tears trickle down on his back; feeling completely helpless in such a situation, he did what his father was always doing when his mother was really sad; he held her in a tight embrace and listened to her crying and her desperate ramblings.
After a while, the two slowly parted; Ran's tear had mostly, probably because her body just wasn't physically able to cry anymore. "Do you want to come in and...get something to drink and rest a while maybe?"
Ran simply nodded. Shinichi opened the iron gate and the two of them started to walk towards the mansion, when Ran started to stumble and her legs gave in. It seems like all the exhaustion of the day were getting to her. Taking off his schoolbag, Shinichi gave her a piggyback ride into his house. Shortly after entered, he was greeted by the voice of his mother. Yukiko Kudo sounded angry.
"Shin-chan?! Why are you home already, when school is not over yet? And why did I get a call from a teacher at your school about how you went into the girls..." Yukiko entered the entrance hall and came to a halt in her speech when she saw Ran huddled on her son's back, eyes all red and puffy from crying, looking up at her.
"H-hey, Mom..." Shinichi said nervously. "I-I have an explanation for everything, but first...Ran is very exhausted, can we get her some tea or juice in the kitchen?"
Yukiko slowly nodded. "Sure..." They went over to the kitchen, where Shinichi let Ran down one of their chairs, while Yukiko gave her some juice from the refridgerator. By now, Yusaku had joined them and Shinichi pulled them aside to explain this whole ordeal. Yusaku kept his opinion to himself, but the small smile he had, while Shinichi described what he did, showed some approval of his son's actions. Yukiko was mostly busy inwardly cursing the teaching staff and the jerks at school, while her face was occupied by a mischievous grin. Shinichi could feel that his mother wanted to tease him, but she refrained. For now.
"Hm, but what now?" Yukiko wondered.
"Can't Ran stay here for a while?" Shinichi pleaded. "I don't think it's any good to call her parents now or send her home...please! Mom? Dad?"
Yukiko turned to Yusaku, who simply nodded. "It's fine, Yukiko; Kogoro-san and Eri-san know she will probably be here. Let her stay for while."
With every explanation done, Shinichi went over to Ran, who had just emptied a glass of juice. "Hey, Ran...how are you?"
Ran sniveled. "I...I feel like I don't be anymore...just, I feel like hiding from the world..."
These didn't really make Shinichi feel comfortable, so he quickly grabbed her hand and said: "Hey, should we go the place I usually go to when I want to hide?"
Ran nodded hesitantly and Shinichi lead her to his favorite room. The library. They went up in the galleries, until they reached a corner, where some boxes were stored. Shinichi pushed one of them aside, revealing a blanket, pillow and flashlight. He explained to Ran that he likes to stay up here for hours and that it's a perfect place to hide from everything. Swallowing his embarassment and deciding that his own feelings weren't that important right now, Shinichi wrapped the two of them in the blanket and they both rested on the pillow. It was a pretty big pillow, probably 'borrowed' from his parents bedroom, so they could rest on it with almost all of their body.
"Cozy up here, isn't it?" Shinichi asked.
"A bit." Ran said. "It's just...my parents promised me they stop to fight...how can I still trust them...?"
"Hey, you trust me, right?" Shinichi asked his friend, to which Ran nodded again. "Then I promise you: I'll always have your back, okay? Whatever happens, however you feel, I'll be right there for you; and even if I'm not physically there, I'll be with you in my thoughts, alright?"
He pulled out a Sherlock Holmes book and proceeded to read it to Ran. Since she still didn't like 'scary' stories at the age of six, Shinichi made a up a story in place of the murder scenes; butchering Holmes literature like this felt somehow wrong and right at the same time. So he read it to her, until they both feel asleep from all the exhaustion of the day.
"Shin-chan, Ran-chan, wake up..." Yukiko softly awakened the two children. They both fluttered their eyes open and looked at her.
"Ughh, Mom, what time is it?" Shinichi asked, suppressing a yawn.
"It's saturday morning, Shin-chan." Yukiko explained. "Ran-chan, your parents are here to go home with you."
Ran perked up. "My parents?"
Yukiko nodded and Ran made her way out of the room. Shinichi looked to his mother and yawned again. "Why did they wait so long? She didn't have to stay here all night..." Yukiko looked away at her son's question. "Oi, don't tell me..."
Yukiko nodded again. "Yes, they only called us this morning...they didn't notice that she was gone until now..."
Shinichi and his mother went to the entrance of their house and said their goodbyes to the Mouri family. Shinichi stared intensely at Kogoro. When Eri and Ran were already walking to the gate and were out of hearing range, Kogoro growled: "Hey, what are you staring at me for, brat?!"
Shinichi didn't waver and kept fixiating him. "I'm just surprised that you are sober for once."
That ticked the police detective off. "Why you little-" He said and made a step forward.
Yukiko protectively wrapped her arms around her son. "I think you have bigger problems then my son right now, Kogoro-kun."
Kogoro huffed and went after his daughter and wife.
"How could they do that...?" Shinichi whispered, still wrapped in his mothers arms. "How could they just forget her...?"
Shinichi started to tremble. "She was gone for an entire day...what if someone wanted to abduct her again or if she had an accident...and her family just wouldn't have noticed...what kind of parents are they...? How can they just leave Ran to her destiny like this...completely alone...?"
"But she wasn't alone, you were there to look after her. After all, you'll always have her back, right?" Yukiko said.
Shinichi blushed. "You heard that..."
Yukiko turned him around, so he was now facing her, while she still had her arms around him. "You don't have to be ashamed, okay? You were trying to be there for Ran-chan while she went through a bad time and there is nothing wrong about that. Come here." She said and pulled him closer. Shinichi put his tiny arms around his mother's neck, finding comfort in the embrace.
Eight year laters, Shinichi was again in an embrace like this. However, the woman was the same size time because it was Ran herself; and the place wasn't the Kudo mansion, but rather the Tokyo Haneda International Airport. He said he was fine; she didn't believe him and hugged him. He found comfort in that embrace, because indeed, deep down he knew he wasn't completely fine, not that he would ever admit that. And she repeated his words from the library, before the two of them went back to the Kudo mansion for lunch.
Chapter 6: Family Matters
Oct. 10th - ShinRan Week Day 6 - Topic/Prompt: Ran Day
Ran was busy preparing food, as her six year old son would come home from school soon, when the telephone of the Kudo mansion rang. She set aside the plate in her hand and answered the call.
"Hello, this is Ran Kudo?" She said into the phone.
"Kudo-san, this is Kenji Kodama." The voice on the other side said. Ran eyes widened a bit. Why was the principal of the Teitan Elementary School calling her? "I'm calling because of your son, Shiro..."
"Is he okay? Did something happen to Shiro?" Ran quickly asked.
"He is fine, don't worry. Nothing happened to him; this is more about something he did." Principal Kodama explained. "I'm afraid your son has assaulted another student. Would you please come to the school, so you can pick him up and we can talk about it?"
"Sure..." Ran ended the call. 'Shiro assaulted someone? He's a little troublemaker like Shinichi, but he wouldn't do something like that!' She thought.
Ran wrote a notice for their daughter Reiko, who went to see her friend, Sonoko's daughter, after school, so that Reiko wouldn't wonder where everyone was if she came home first. Shinichi and their second son Yuichi were off buying materials for Yuichi's pre-school art project, so they wouldn't be home in a while. After the note was written, Ran hurried out of the door and made her way to Teitan Elementary School.
There were three people in the office when Ran entered: her son Shiro, who was pouting, his classmate Kou, who had red eyes from crying and a red mark on his arm and the principal who greeted Ran. He explained the situation: Shiro supposedly punched Kou on the arm because he doesn't like him; after that, Kou came to the principal in tears. No witnesses.
"Your son has already admitted that he doesn't like Kou-kun." Principal Kodama explained.
Ran looked at her son. "Is that true?"
Shiro shifted a bit on his seat under his mother's scrutiny. "Yeah, but no one in class likes him, Mom! He's a jerk who treats nobody with respect! But I didn't hit him, you have to believe me! I can explain what happened..."
"Please, I'd like to hear it." Ran said.
"Kudo-san, honestly. Your son clearly hit that child, don't let him waste our time." The Principal groaned.
"No, that's not it...my Mom yelled at me last night and told me to stop bullying my friends...but I've never bullied anyone before, right!?" Ran heard her own voice say in her memories.
"No, no, let him talk. There were not witnesses, so we should hear him out, right?" Ran answered the principal.
"Alright, so it started to rain yesterday before school was over." Shiro began to explain. "You gave me some extra money so I could buy some ice cream on the way home, but because of the rain I wasn't in the mood for ice cream. So I still had that money today and talked with some of my classmates about it, because we maybe wanted to get some ice cream today instead. But Kou-kun heard that and when we were alone later, he demanded that I 'borrow' him the money, because my parents wouldn't notice if I didn't have it anymore. I refused and he pushed me; I pushed back and he stumbled backwards into some lockers, which is why he has a red mark on his arm. Kou-kun said he'd get back at me for this. Later, I heard some flicking noises in the bathroom, I'm sure he flicked his own arm so it would get more red; and before a teacher picked me up and brought me here, I saw tiny shards of glass near the principals office. Kou-kun had some stink bombs in tiny glass capsules from a prank shop with him recently, so he probably used one of them to make his eyes tear up. And here we are."
'He's truly our child...' Ran thought.
Principal Kodama shook his head. "Do you really believe that kind of story?"
"Depends on whether or not the story is true." Ran answered and looked at her son. "Is it?"
"Yes, I swear!" Shiro answered with a steady. Ran looked at him for a moment longer, but he didn't falter.
"Alright, then I think we're done here. Let's go home." Ran said.
"Wait, that's it?" The principal asked.
"Yeah, I think so. Or did the school want to punish him without witnesses or any precedent of him bullying someone?" Ran argued.
"N-no...we can't punish him in this situation, but I thought you would, once I explained the situation..." Principal Kodama said.
"Well, I won't. Come on, Shiro, we're going. Having a nice day, Principal Kodama." Ran said with a smile and left the school building with her son.
Outside, that Kou boy ran after them. "You really not gonna punish him?!" He yelled.
"Don't yell at my mother like that, you jerk!" Shiro yelled back.
Ran knelt down and grabbed the shoulders of her son. "No, I will punish him." Ran said to Kou.
"Really?" Kou wondered with a grin.
"R-really, Mom?" Shiro worriedly asked, looking at Ran.
"Yes, really. I'm gonna punish him by..." Dramatic pause. "...buying an extra large portion of ice cream for him."
"Yay! Let's go, Mom, let's go! See you tomorrow, Kou-kun!" Shiro said and almost dragged his mother off the schoolyard. "That Kou guy...he's so bothersome..." Shiro sighed while they were already well on their way to the 'punishment' promised. "But I'm glad you believed me, Mom. The principal and the teacher who dragged into that office were so dismissive of my story..."
"Well, even if I didn't believe you or if I had believed you were lying, I wouldn't have said anything in that office and still defended you, that is my job as your mother. But there wouldn't have been any ice cream in that case." Ran said.
"Really? What would you do instead of ice cream?" Shiro was curious.
"We would've gone home, waited for your father to come back from shopping with Yuichi and then the two of us would've slowly wrung the truth out of you." Ran said with a smug grin.
"S-sounds...unpleasant." Shiro gulped.
"Parental duties." Ran simply said. "You'll understand one day."
They bought some ice cream at a nearby shop and went home, Shiro used the time to tell his mother about how his day went apart from the stuff she already knew. They went around a corner, when suddenly two teenagers appeared in front of them and blocked their way.
"These are my brothers." Kou said, who suddenly appeared from behind the two brutes. "They are going to make sure you won't refuse to give me your money in the future and they'll gonna make sure you old hag will be a better mother in future!"
"Old hag?!" Ran exclaimed. She wasn't really sensitive about her age, unlike her mother-in-law, but somehow it didn't feel right to be called old hag when she was only 29. The two teenagers walked towards Ran and Shiro. "Here, hold my ice cream." Ran said and gave her son her cone.
Two minutes later
The two teenagers were on the ground, wheezing and squirming in pain. Kou didn't expect this, so he tried to run away, but Ran grabbed him by the collar and held him up like a kitten. "So, I guess my son did tell the truth then, right?" Ran asked the boy, who hastily nodded. "Then apologize to him." Ran told him and held Kou in front of Shiro.
"I-I'm...sorry." He said and Ran slightly shook him. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"
Shiro straightened. "I accept your apology." He said with a mockingly polite tone in his voice.
That was enough for Ran, so she dropped the little jerk on top of his brothers. Shiro gave his mother her ice cream back. "You're really the best, Mom!" Shiro said with a smile and the two of them went home.
Chapter 7: A Personal Case
Oct. 11th - ShinRan Week Day 7 - Topic/Prompt: Shinichi Day
The marker made a squeaky noise, as Shinichi used it to write on a portable blackboard. It was well past midnight in the library of the Kudo mansion, but he was still writing down details about this case. Ran wasn't home, so she wasn't there to force him to go to sleep, like she usually did when he worked on something for too long.
Shinichi went over to his desk and took out some pictures from the file he received. He was on the trails of a serial killer that was on a murder spree in Tokyo, although that was only discovered recently. The newspapers, who were all over that case, also were on his desk. However, the press would not write about how Superintendent Megure had asked Shinichi to help with the case, he requested that his participation would remain a secret only known to a few people, for security reasons, because this case was quite personal for him.
He pinned photos on the board and wrote the details beside them:
Name: Miki Yamaguchi
Cause of Death: Sliced Throat
Name: Aya Nakano
Cause of Death: Strangled
Name: Yoko Hayashi
Cause of Death: Drowned
Name: Riko Tsukino
Cause of Death: Broken Neck
Name: Kyou Hashimoto
Cause of Death: Head Trauma
Five dead girls in the last two weeks. The coroner's reports also spoke of multiple bruises, but thankfully, of no signs of sexual intercourse. They were found in dumpsters in shady districts of Tokyo, exactly three weeks after they went missing each.
Shinichi started to juggle a football while he was thinking. Not too much was known about the serial killer, profiling suggested that it was a male in his thirties. And that was it for now. The killer was careful and the police was stuck. Which is why Shinichi was on the case now. He would have to visit the places where the girls were found soon, they were all still heavily guarded by the police, of course, so maybe he could still discover something that forensics had missed. Hopefully he could catch that guy before another girl was killed.
'But for now, we have nothing...no evidence, no suspects, no leads...damnit...', Shinichi thought to himself and kicked the ball into the blackboard out of anger and frustration, making it collapse with a loud noise. Shinichi sighed and sat down at his desk in the library. This case was ugly, there was no way around it; and really depressing too. No matter how much he thought about it, Shinichi couldn't understand how somebody could do this.
Shinichi jumped up from his chair and looked over to the door, just to see his six year old daughter Reiko peeking through the half opened door.
"Reiko! I'm so sorry, did I wake you up?" Shinichi said and hurried across the room to the door.
"No, cough...I couldn't sleep and then I heard a loud noise from here..." Reiko explained, as she entered the library. She was dressed in one of her pink pyjamas and clutched her plush bunny, a present for her fourth birthday, in her left arm. Even in the shadows of the door, there was no doubt about who her mother was; Reiko looked so much like Ran, it was almost as if Shinichi's wife had taken a pill to become six years old again. But that kind of stuff was long banned into the realm of fiction for Shinichi and Ran.
Shinichi knelt down to his daughter and carefully touched her forehead. "Seems like your fever is really going down...hopefully it'll still be this way in the morning. You want to go back to bed?" He asked, to which his daughter nodded, so he lifted her up into his arms and left the library. Thankfully, she couldn't see the pictures of the dead girls; Shinichi made a mental note to be extra certain that his filing cabinet was locked in the next weeks.
"Daddy...? Are you, cough...are angry at me?" Reiko shyly asked him.
That wasn't a question Shinichi expected. "No! Why do you think I would be angry at you?"
"Because...if I didn't get sick, we wouldn't have had to stay here instead of visiting Uncle Heiji with Mommy, Shiro and Yu. And if we went to Osaka, the Superintendent wouldn't given you the case that made you look so grim all day cough..." Reiko explained.
No wonder he had a grim expression on his face, that case was emotionally quite draining, to say the least. "I would never be angry at you because you're sick, not even in these circumstances. And this case...it is a grim case, but that just means it is a very important one. Actually, I should thank you, because this way I got involved in this case sooner and might be able to stop the criminal before he can hurt someone else." Shinichi reassured his daughter.
"This guy must be very evil..." Reiko said.
"Very, very evil indeed..."
"But you are going to catch him, no matter what, right?" Reiko asked with a smile on her face.
Shinichi smiled back. "Of course! Daddy always catches the bad guys!" He said and gave his daughter a small kiss on the cheek.
Reiko giggled and leaned her head against his, clinging to his neck with her tiny right arm. "I love you, Daddy..."
"I love you too, sweetie."
When they arrived at Reiko's room, Shinichi tucked her in tightly; Reiko wanted him to stay a bit, so he took her favorite book from the shelf and read it for her until she was asleep.