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Like Children

Title: Like Children
Author: ran_mouri82
Word Count: 1046
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Aoyama Gosho, manga-ka. Me, fangirl. Any questions?
Characters: Mouri Kogorou and Mouri Ran
Notes: While the storm raged on outside, all Kogorou knew through his frustration was that his daughter was scared. manycases1truth: #87 – Parents

This started as a plunnie from the Vienna Teng song, “Lullaby for a Stormy Night”, but became a sequel to my fifteenth Kiss, “Magic Kisses”. Enjoy!

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Like Children



“Daddy?”

Mouri Kogorou lifted his arm from the red creases it made on his face and, with a grunt, sat up in bed. As much as he had puffed up his chest during the past few weeks since Eri left him and swore to himself that he liked his new apartment, was looking forward to being in business for himself instead of at the MPD’s beck and call, and enjoyed the newfound space in his bed most of all, he had to admit his left side was cold. Across the room, he spied his six-year-old daughter shiver in her lavender pajamas and hover behind a crack in the doorway. “Yeah, Ran. What is it?”

Ran tugged at the fluffy paw of her teddy bear, the one Eri bought her last year. It showed signs of minor wear and tear from being well-snuggled, but its button eyes shined with Ran’s tender care. A loud bark of thunder broke Kogorou’s thoughts as Ran jumped and clutched her bear around the neck. “I—um, I—”

“C’mon, spit it out.” He yawned to hide the bit of panic that jumped in his chest when he suspected why she was here. This was getting into an uncomfortable parenting area. Straightening up, he scratched his head and asked, “You scared?”

“Uh huh.” Ran nodded and looked at the floor, still choking her teddy bear.

Usually, at a time like this, Kogorou would be out in the storm, sniffling in the damp night beside Megure and hunched over homicide evidence. Maybe by now, progress would have been made on the case, opening up the promise of hot sake and mahjong. No matter how annoying the storm became, in the back of his mind he at least felt assured that Eri had things under control and she and Ran were safe and warm at home.

He could handle bullet fragments on bloody concrete. He was not sure he could handle this.

“I see.” Feeling much older than thirtysomething all of a sudden, he swung his legs across the bed and stuck his feet in his slippers. Coughing, because the last thing he wanted to do was stammer back at his little girl, because of course he knew what he was doing, he swallowed his pride and asked, “What does your mom do?”

Ran breathed a visible sigh of relief and smiled. “Sometimes Mommy lets me sleep with her, and sometimes she stays with me until I get sleepy.”

“Hmm.” Stroking his stubbly chin, he chose the latter. “You need a glass of water or something?”

“Nuh uh, just—aah!” A bolt of lightning burst its harsh glow through the apartment, followed a split second later by an ear-splitting roar. Ran threw herself at Kogorou’s legs, shaking like a frightened animal.

“H-Hey, it’s okay, so….” Kogorou told himself to shut up and do something. Though the voice in his head sounded like his wife’s, he listened to it anyway. He bent forward as much as he could while his legs were clamped in place by Ran’s fierce grip and patted her head. She still shivered and shook, so in desperation, he tried rubbing her shoulders a bit. Slowly, but surely, Ran’s breathing evened out until she slackened her hold on him. “Let’s get you to bed.”

Nodding, Ran mumbled, “Okay.”

Kogorou let Ran take his hand and led her forward gently, though he cursed his luck and craved a beer from the fridge. He had enough stress when it came down to it to smoke a full pack, maybe more, when he thought of the abysmal job he was set to do as a father until Eri got some sense into her and came back, not that he would mind her staying the hell away if that was what she wanted.

“Huh?” Ran asked, blinking up at him with wide eyes.

“Oh, uh, nothing,” Kogorou said, cursing his luck again as he realized he had muttered that last part out loud.

Luck finally improved for Kogorou when no further thunderclaps and bolts from the heavens came to disturb Ran beyond the usual. When they reached her room, Ran let go of his hand and then hopped into bed, burrowed under the covers face down, and clasped both bear and pillow in her quivering arms.

Kogorou shifted his weight from foot to foot until Ran glanced up at him and waited. “What?”

“Mommy sits on my bed, too,” Ran said, blushing.

Nodding, Kogorou sat awkwardly and scratched his head again, resisting the urge to ask Ran, ‘And how the heck does this help?’

Squeezing her pillow, however, she whispered, “And she rubs my back.”

Kogorou furrowed his brow, understanding. That was why Ran had calmed down when he rubbed her shoulders. Eri already knew this, of course. With a sigh, he began to stroke Ran’s back and said, “Idiot.”

“Eh?” Ran twisted toward him with a squeak.

“Not you,” Kogorou grunted softly. He tried to smile, but it was flimsy, so he waited for Ran to ease once more onto the bed before he resumed rubbing her back. It did not take a detective or a brain surgeon to know all this was affecting Ran. She did not speak up nearly as much as she used to. He was not much for words, either, unless he felt like impressing someone, but for her, it was just not right. “Hey, it’s going to be nice outside tomorrow, so why don’t you go and play with your friends in the morning? Sonoko or that Kudou br—uh, kid?”

“Yeah, that would be fun,” Ran said, nodding her agreement with a little grin. “Thanks, Daddy.”

Kogorou said nothing. Ran’s back rose and fell slower and slower until it settled into the steady rhythm of sleep.

Lifting his hand tentatively, Kogorou sat up and looked down at his slippered feet. Maybe he was more like Ran than he cared to admit. Even if everything fell apart, he wanted Ran to think he could hold it together for her sake. Maybe it was for his sake. Maybe he and Eri were both just acting like children. He stood and shrugged, stretching his aching back before smiling at his sleeping daughter. If kids could learn to weather storms, so could he.