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Artificial Anxiety

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It was a bright, sunny day in Beika, Tokyo. At Teitan High School, the second large break, and as such the last break of the day, was almost over; Ran and Sonoko were currently in the girls bathroom. While washing her hands, Ran looked over to Sonoko, who was doing something else. "Lipstick, Sonoko, really? For a schoolday?"

"I know, I know, you don't think much of that," Sonoko said, while pulling the lipstick over her lips one final time, "but today I somehow want to pretty. More pretty than usual I mean."

Ran giggled. "Don't worry, if you want, you want it. I was just curious, that's all." She dried off her hands and hummed.
Hmmm, hm hm hmm, hmmm hm, ha hm he hmm, hm hm he hmmm, he hm ha hmm...

Sonoko looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "Ran ... why are you so cheery today?"

"What do you mean?" Ran asked her best friend.

"Just ... you've been even more happy and courteous today, you're almost glowing ... I think I expected you'd be a bit more affected by that nasty murder in the first row on the day before yesterday," Sonoko explained. She wiggled her eyebrows a bit. "Don't tell me you've been cheering yourself up by repeating that stage kiss with Shinichi-kun a few times yesterday. Actually, I wasn't able to reach you all day..."

"No dramatic explanation which involves my Dad this time...? Oh well," Ran said and giggled again. "Well, you're right, I spent the day with Shinichi yesterday, it was comforting. You know, all the good stuff, studying for next week, going to the cinema ... and yes, some kissing too. And well ... a bit more than that..."

"What?!" Sonoko exclaimed and grabbed Ran's arm. "What do you mean, a bit more? Don't tell me ... what Kamiko-chan was so insistent about..."

Ran looked over both of her shoulders twice; she went over to the stalls and checked each of them, but they were all empty. "I wanted to talk to you earlier, but there was no good timing," Ran said as she went back over to Sonoko. "...Yes, exactly what Kamiko-chan talked about."

"Oh. My. God." Sonoko said. "..." She slowly went over her face with her right hand, faintly touching her lips and swallowing. "I ... I actually don't quite know what to say ... I mean, how ... how was it? How do you feel? Was ... was..." Sonoko looked away from Ran, down to the floor.

Now Ran touched the arm of her friend, but more gently and offered her a warm smile. "You want to ask whether or not Kamiko-chan was right about the ... stuff she said, don't you?" Ran asked, to which Sonoko nodded while still looking to the floor. Ran started to streak Sonoko's arm. "It's okay. Her words scared me too."

"No, I mean ... ugh, I shouldn't keep denying it, you've already looked through my worries..." Sonoko rubbed her eyes. "Look ... I'm usually all in for details about anything love related, but I really don't want or feel the need to intrude your ... sex life," cue another blush, "... but you know, just answer me some quick yes and no questions, okay?"

"Sure, ask away," Ran said.

"Alright, so ... how-," Sonoko started, but then the door of the bathroom opened. It was Kamiko, who smirked as she spotted Ran and Sonoko.

"Just the two gals I've been looking for," Kamiko said, still smirking.

"Excuse me?" Sonoko replied. "Don't you have anything better to do? Like, you know, actually using the toilet? Or did your 'boyfriend' not give you permission again?"

"I don't always speak to him about these things..." Kamiko said, not so confident anymore; Sonoko's reminder about that situation last week hit where it needed to hit. "Just so you know, I went earlier, no need to concern yourself."

"Oh, but earlier you went with or without his permission?" Sonoko insisted.

"Sonoko!" Ran exclaimed. "That's enough, really. Kamiko-chan, what did you need from us?"

"You know, I've been wondering," Kamiko said. "Just two days ago, Kudo-kun had his tongue so deep in you that he probably could almost taste your stomach acid, on a stage, in front of the whole school. So, I've concluded, you've either already had sex or had victory sex afterwards. And now I'm curious which is true."

"W-well..." Ran stuttered with a blush.

"Well, why is that any of your business?" Sonoko said before Ran could continue. "You've been oddly insistent about this whole thing ever since you talked to us in the locker room."

"I've decided that day to take Ran-chan under my wings; it was necessary. She was too naive, she needed to be told about what it would be like." Kamiko explained.

"I'm right here, you know," Ran said, slightly annoyed.

"Right," Kamiko said, "so, what is the answer?"

Ran slightly raised her chin. "Yes, we did have sex two days ago. And yesterday. Multiple times."

"Are you crazy?" Kamiko gasped. "I'm surprised how you are standing; I was in so much pain after the first time, I had to rest for almost an entire day!"

"Really, that bad...?" Sonoko wondered, not as confident anymore. "It could be better for Ran since she's extremely athletic."

Kamiko raised one hand to her chin. "Yeah, that might be it..."

Ran grabbed Kamiko's shoulder. "Or maybe it could be, that it doesn't need to be incredibly uncomfortable and painful to have sex."

"Don't kid around," Kamiko said. "You're just telling that to yourself, so you can more easily accept reality."

"You should listen to yourself: don't you think that applies more to yourself than to me?" Ran replied.

"No," Kamiko said, with a waning smile.

"Really," Ran said. "Well, I can only speak from the experience that you urged me to have."

"Finally you listen to me, but only on the things you want to hear," Kamiko whined. "You need to fully embrace my words. Kudo-kun and Ikema are alike, united by their gender; thus, they have they same underlying personality. You should've listened to everything!"

"I'm sorry," Ran said, clenching her fists. She was getting slightly angry right now, especially at the comparison of Shinichi and Ikema. "I am really, deeply sorry that you've tied yourself to someone like Ikema-kun; someone, who disrespects your needs and feelings; someone, who, according to your own account, ravaged you during your first time. But Shinichi is nothing like him; he might seem cold and arrogant to people who don't know him very well, but he cares about my feelings. Especially during our night together two days ago; my first time was overall a wonderful, gentle and pleasant experience. And I'm sorry, that it was not the same for you, but please stop telling me, that I should've listened to you more carefully and that Shinichi is anything like this brutish, abusive idiot of yours. Because both of these statements of yours are false. You should've listened to yourself and realized your terrible predicament!"

Kamiko and Sonoko looked at Ran with a shocked expression, speechless for a short moment. "R-Ran..." Sonoko mumbled. Tears welled up in Kamiko's eyes.

"Kamiko-chan," Ran continued. "He's not good for you. Your emotions, your needs, your thoughts and feelings, they matter. How he treats you, ignoring all of these things, that's not right. I don't want to be mean, but please, open your eyes."

Rather than opening her eyes, Kamiko closed them; although, to be fair, it was an attempt to hold back her tears and not another try to ignore her situation. This attempt was futile, however, as Kamiko started to sob immediately, tears running down her cheeks. As Ran saw this, she pulled the girls closer into a hug; Kamiko embraced the hug and now sobbed uncontrollably on Ran's chest.

"Sonoko," Ran said, turning her head to her best friend. "Go and get us a teacher, Jodie-sensei if you can. Kamiko-chan should talk to a competent adult about all of this."


Ran and Sonoko skipped the next lesson, staying with Kamiko, giving her emotional support, while she explained some things to Jodie. They then rejoined class, where the sight of a crying Kamiko in the arms of Ran, accompanied by one of the most popular teachers of the school had sparked a vast amount of rumours going around. Ran and Sonoko denied all of it, not telling them about what happened without Kamiko's approval; however, without giving any kind of story, they couldn't help that some rumours persisted. Shinichi wasn't particularly interested; not because he hated rumours, but rather because he knew Ran would probably tell him. She mentioned Kamiko often enough during the last two days and she told him, that she wanted another clearing conversation with Kamiko.

After all classes were done, Ran and Sonoko went to the teachers room once more, so Shinichi waited outside the school building for them, sitting on a waist-high wall along the pathway, casually reading Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. Diving into Poirot's investigations and deductions, time flew by, so Ran and Sonoko came out of the building faster than he expected.

"I guess this is all the result of the talk you seeked to have with her, huh?" Shinichi asked the approaching girls, while putting the book back into his bag.

"Yeah," Ran answered. "Poor thing. Thankfully, she sees a lot clearer now."

"Indeed. Thank god though, that scum Ikema treated her like shit. Bastard..." Sonoko huffed; she looked over to the school building again and saw a particular person approaching. "Speaking of the devil..."

Ran and Shinichi followed her gaze and saw Ikema storming to them; he looked pretty angry. "You! Mouri!"

"Hey, Ikema-kun," Ran greeted, "how is your day going?"

"Screw you! My girlfriend just dumped me and that's your fault!" Ikema yelled.

"My fault? How is it my fault?"

"You talked so much shit about me, that she left me; you're like a siren, singing your song about how I'm not treating her right and now you've got her completely under your spell. I hope you are happy," Ikema explained, "destroying a relationship. You must be so proud of yourself."

"I didn't expect you to know these kind of words and how to use them," Sonoko wondered.

"Sonoko, you're being rude again," Shinichi chided her without any serious intent, "but I can't say it doesn't surprise me either."

"Shut up! Both of you and especially you, Kudo!" Ikema yelled again and threw a punch in Shinichi's direction.

Just as Shinichi wanted to dodge again like he did in the bathroom last week, Ikema's fist was caught by Ran. Her lips curled up to a little, sinister smile. "Thanks ... for giving me a reason..."

"He will regret that..." Shinichi and Sonoko said at the same time.

Ran started to use her karate on Ikema.

"So, Shinichi-kun, how is your new life as a famous stage actor?" Sonoko asked.

"OH GOD, MY ARM! THIS HURTS!" Ikema screamed.

"Ah, you know, not that different actually," Shinichi answered. "Same amount of cheer, slightly different fanbase."

"NO, PLEASE, NOT THA- ARGHH!"

"I heard you got lucky in the last two days, how's that been for you?" Sonoko asked.

"STOP! I SWEAR, I WILL- ARRRRRGH! NO, NO, NOT THAAARGJMD!"

"So she told you, huh?" Shinichi raised an eyebrow. "Well, you know ... it's been pretty good. You should try when Makoto-san's visiting you the next time."

"ARGH!"

"Maybe ... but I don't want to rush it..." Sonoko said, blushing.

"Understandable," Shinichi replied.

Ran came back over to them, clapping her hands. Sonoko and Shinichi looked over to Ikema, who looked pretty ruffed up, but he was still able to stand, indicating that Ran had been rather merciful. Ikema pointed at the three of them. "You ... will ... regret this," he said.

Ikema turned around away from them, only to suddenly stare into the face of the English teacher Jodie Saintemillion, who grabbed him by the hand he just used to point at Shinichi, Ran and Sonoko. "Darling, you're in deep trouble now!" Jodie winked.

"W-what...?" Ikema winced at her touch, since Ran's treatment left him with only a few non-aching spots on his body.

"Yes, yes," Jodie continued her talk, "you know, dear Kamiko-chan came to us before she broke up with you and told us some details about your rather naughty exploits. The Principal would like to have a word with you." She proceeded to drag the boy back to the school building. He tried to desperately plea for mercy (again), but Jodie was deaf to them.

"You think we'll see him around again?" Sonoko asked.

Shinichi shook his head. "Nope."


Without any regret about that, the three of them made their way home, the girls informing Shinichi about what happened with Kamiko, Sonoko eventually going into a different direction, because of some family obligation she had to attend to.

"So," Shinichi said, "you talked to Sonoko about yesterday."

"Yeah. She was scared by the words of Kamiko-chan too, so it was necessary," Ran explained. "And besides, I wanted to talk about it. Did you talk to anyone about it?"

"As a matter of fact, yes, I did. My father called me in the break when were talking with Kamiko-chan. I have a feeling my mother tipped him off," Shinichi said. "Thankfully, he was approaching this topic with his mature side. Oh, and also," Shinichi cleared his throat, blushed, grabbed his phone and showed Ran a text, "I got this message from Mom."

Shin-chan, keep in mind that one should marry his lover before having a child -XO Mom

"..." Shinichi said nothing.

"..." Neither did Ran for a moment, when she just blushed and read. "...at least Yukiko-san isn't one of these mothers from the dramas, who always push their sons for grandchildren. Well, I guess until you're 18 and actually able to marry at least..."

Shinichi clicked his tongue. "Tsk, she will have to wait ... I didn't plan to propose before we are 20..." he mumbled.

"Ehh?!" Ran blushed. "W-what did you just...? Could you repeat that?"

Shinichi suddenly came to halt and faced the dumbfounded Ran. "I said..." He flashed her a mischievous grin. "Catch me if you can and I'll tell you," Shinichi said and ran away.

"HEY! Shinichi, wait," Ran yelled and ran after him, unable to hold back her laughter at doing something childish like chasing each other. "Hey, we're not in elementary school anymore, running away like a child will not save you from telling me!"

"No," Shinichi yelled back, still ahead of Ran with a comfortable lead, still grinning and also laughing. "But it'll give me some time."

And so the two of them ran through the neighborhood, their cheerful laughter filling the streets of Beika.

- The END -