Steady sheets of rain drummed the Mouri Detective Agency's windows in time with Okino Yoko's cheerful vocals. Snug in a dune beige sweater wrap, Ran sat at her father's desk, folded a basketful of clean laundry, and tapped her toes to Yoko's latest hit single, "Rainbow Drops", thinking the music would be soothing if not for the high volume or Kogorou's constant shouts and whistles from the couch. When he started whistling loud enough to burst her eardrums, she was tempted to bonk him on the head and remind him that the TV show was not a live performance. However, she gazed out the window as her thoughts drifted toward someone else, much to the irritation of her father.
"Weren't you two supposed to go out on a date or something?" Kogorou asked, flipping open a beer can when Ran looked behind her for the twentieth time to ponder the blanketed skies. He quickly added, "Not that I care."
"Yes, but we couldn't have a picnic in this," Ran replied, suppressing a smile. Though Kogorou now found endless grievances to hold against Shin'ichi, each complaint was tinged with enough regret to prove that he missed his former freeloader. "If Shin'ichi hadn't ended up with a case, we'd be stuck in the rain right now."
As soon as Kogorou turned his attention back to the TV and took another gulp of Kirin, however, Ran dug into the pocket of her jeans and checked her flip phone. She sighed at the predictable lack of missed calls or emails.
A flash of lightning zipped through the sky at that moment, followed seconds later by a massive thunderclap, making Ran jump out of her skin. She stood and was about to abandon her seat by the window when she glanced at the street below. Through cold glass and rivulets of water, she could see that the glistening sidewalk was deserted, much to her relief. No one should be caught in—
Several lightning bolts flashed then, revealing a lone figure hunched in the pouring rain who trudged closer to her door. She had not noticed him before, but the moment she caught a glimpse of his hooded sweatshirt and measured, yet casual pace, as if he were deep in thought, a sneaking suspicion shot goose bumps up her arms. Then, with the next crack of thunder, he looked up.
Ran gasped, covering her mouth. Shin'ichi?
"What was that?" Kogorou asked, shooting Ran a glare.
"Nothing!" Ran cried. Whipping toward the window, she cringed as Shin'ichi, drenched from head to foot, faced forward again as if he would keep walking. She made her decision with a quick nod, rifled through the laundry basket, and tugged the thickest towel from the bottom. "I just need to step outside for a minute!"
"Now?" Kogorou said, choking on his beer. "Are you crazy?"
Grabbing an umbrella, she hopped on one foot in the doorway to slip on her sneakers, called over her shoulder, "I'm going out, but I'll be right back!" and slammed the door behind her.
"Alright, just be careful," Kogorou called after her. He took another sip and grunted. "Kids have too much energy."
Ran panted as she raced down the concrete staircase. That idiot could catch cold or pneumonia! Speeding onto the sidewalk, she cupped a hand over her mouth and shouted, "Wait a minute, Shin'ichi!"
Shin'ichi turned around. Ran tucked the towel under her arm and let herself be pelted by the rain as she struggled to open the umbrella. One look was all it took for Shin'ichi to frown, run back to Ran, and catch her hand to lead her underneath the covered stairwell. "Geez, what's wrong with you?"
"I should be the one asking that," Ran said, unfolding the towel and dropping it on his head. She then propped the umbrella where they stood between the entrance and the agency's door and put her hands on her hips. "Why are you walking around like this? You could make yourself sick!"
"I wasn't walking around, just walking home." Rubbing the towel through his slicked hair, Shin'ichi squinted one eye closed with the effort and replied, "The case wrapped up before the rain started, so the police were long gone and I was halfway to my house, anyway. I was going to buy an umbrella, but by the time I found a store, the wind was so bad it would've torn it to shreds. After five minutes of waiting under an awning, I decided to get it over with and walk the rest of the way."
"But how did you end up here?" Ran said, as the scolding she wished to give him died on her lips. Shin'ichi did not seem to be having a good day, considering his shoes made slurping noises whenever he walked. While she felt sorry for him, the sight was rather cute.
"I'd like to say it was on the way," Shin'ichi said, glancing at the towel on his head with sudden interest, "but while I was turning over the case in my head to pass the time, my feet took me here on their own."
"Fair enough," Ran said, smiling. He had shared her home for months, so she was not that surprised. She was not about to tease him for it, either. "Then why didn't you come inside?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Shin'ichi said, giving Ran a half-lidded glare while draping the towel around his neck. A slight blush tinted his cheeks. "I wasn't about to drop in on you like this."
Though Shin'ichi was a mess, soaked to the bone with his hair flying in all directions and his dripping clothes clinging to his body, his firm stare warmed Ran's face. It was hard to tear her gaze away from his, since each earlier stare at her phone and out the window had sprung not just from worry, but longing. Ran was glad to see him, even like this, though she felt silly for missing Shin'ichi when he was this close to her. She trembled when she sensed, from his stare, that he was likewise drinking her in.
"Still," he said, handing Ran the towel as his face reddened, "thanks."
She nodded, took the damp towel, and held it to her heart. The rain outside continued to fall, its whispers punctuated by the softer rumbles of thunder that rolled through the sky's dark canopy. Ran knew she should hurry Shin'ichi home so he could dry. Instead, at the next thunderclap, she launched herself forward and clasped her arms around his back.
Shin'ichi started as Ran pressed against him. "W-wait, you're going to get—"
Water seeped right through Ran's sweater, but she held him tightly and rested her head against his chest, not caring. Shin'ichi cleared his throat and drew hesitant arms around her. "Idiot."
Cradled in that damp warmth and flushing as Shin'ichi breathed past her ear, Ran remembered the last storm that swept through the city on the last evening Conan spent at the Mouri Detective Agency. That day, before sunset, Ran felt Conan's eyes following her as much as she was sure hers followed him. By then, both had known something dangerous was about to happen and how Conan was involved, but neither had said a word. When Ran lingered beside the agency's windows to watch the murky clouds advance and block the brilliant orange sky, Conan came alongside her.
"Hey, Ran-neechan? Did you know that most thunderstorms aren't just one cell, but a cluster?"
Ran looked down at Conan. "What do you mean?"
"The updraft can build in many cells and form a giant cluster. It takes about twenty minutes for the energy in each cell to dissipate. That means you might think it's one, long storm when it's really a series of storms."
"And that's supposed to make me feel better, Conan-kun?" She barely stopped herself from calling him Shin'ichi. "That means more storms to worry about, doesn't it?"
"Maybe, maybe not," Conan said, lowering his voice, his gaze intent on holding hers. "But they're smaller than they seem, and even they can't last forever."
"What you said about storms was true, but when it comes to love," Ran said, not daring to move from Shin'ichi's shoulder, "it's the opposite, right?"
Shin'ichi's throat caught, and Ran felt his arms tense, but then, to her alarm, he brushed his chin against her forehead and said, "Yeah."
Ran gave up trying to calm her heartbeat since she could feel his racing, too. Taking a breath to gain courage, Ran pulled far enough away to look at Shin'ichi. Meeting his eyes, her head swimming, Ran rose and shyly opened her lips as Shin'ichi reached forward and kissed her. The touch of his mouth was gentle, as if he feared hurting her, not that he could or would. Spurred by this, Ran held Shin'ichi tighter and, as he did the same, she squeezed her shut eyes, letting the tears that welled there flow down her cheeks. When they eased apart, Ran did not bother hiding that she was wiping her face. Since learning that Shin'ichi had witnessed her many tears, she was fine with sharing these happy ones.
Her sight clearer now, Ran spied Shin'ichi shivering. "You're catching a chill!"
"I'll be fine," Shin'ichi said, shifting his weight on his soggy shoes while he blushed crimson. "Just got to change, and—oh, the wind's died down."
Ran blinked and glanced with Shin'ichi at the entrance. The rain no longer whipped sideways in unruly gusts, but pattered on the sidewalk in shallow puddles. Still clutching the towel, she smiled, picked up the sky blue umbrella from the ground and handed it to Shin'ichi. "You can use this now, right?"
"Right." Shin'ichi smiled back as he took the umbrella and bounded to the base of the stairs. Turning toward Ran, who followed him to the landing, he added, "As far as the park's concerned, it looks like we can try again next weekend. It's supposed to rain for the next few days, but then it'll pass."
"Just get home safe," Ran said, grinning at the news. "See you tomorrow."
"See you tomorrow," Shin'ichi replied, popping open the umbrella and walking back into the rain with far more energy than he had left it.
As soon as Shin'ichi turned the corner and was out of sight, Ran dashed upstairs, feeling lighter than air. She paused at the agency's door, however, and rested her hand on the knob. Despite how the rainfall dampened the sound, it was clear that her father had begun replaying the Okino Yoko program, since Ran could hear the song from earlier. "Drops of sunshine wash tears from my heart, this feeling sparkles like dew…."
With a contented sigh, Ran opened the door and hummed along.
- Current Mood: accomplished
- Current Music:"Drops of Jupiter" by Train