Title: What to Expect When You’re Gardening
Word Count: 1173
Disclaimer: Detective Conan is pwned by Aoyama Gosho. I only admire his l33t skillz.
Pairing: Kudou Shin’ichi and Mouri Ran
Notes: 30 Kisses: #11 - gardenia; manycases1truth: #78 - team
What to Expect When You're Gardening
Shin'ichi's breath puffed in the frigid, moonlit air as, wrapped in a woolen scarf and overcoat, he passed the frosted grass of his yard and grasped his icy doorknob. He was returning from a rather straightforward case, but it was late, and Inspector Megure had been merciful enough to shoo him back home to his wife.
The lights were on in the foyer, which would have been unusual years ago, when Shin'ichi lived alone. Then, the first night he tried sneaking upstairs in the dark after they were married, Ran mistook him for an intruder and gave him a concussion. Since then, not only had Ran developed a habit of leaving the lights on to show someone was home but now, as her pregnancy entered its final weeks, Eri, Sonoko, Shiho, and even Kazuha often buzzed around to force more rest on her. If Shin'ichi dared to walk into his own house, they were eager to snipe him with caustic insults and an infinite to-do list. Ran would then pop in from the next room—while clutching the latest book on childcare she was poring over—to insist she was just fine, really.
That put a grin on Shin'ichi's face. He could not blame the others for fussing over Ran. Part of him was glad even if they had an annoying way of going about it since, for all Ran's good habits, at times she needed to fuss more over herself.
As Shin'ichi put on his house slippers, he heard a soft sound from the living room and froze. Ran was crying.
Dashing across the hall into the living room, Shin'ichi halted in the doorway and groaned at the sight. Ran knelt on the floor, ignoring the heaviness of her belly or the way her cherry-dotted blouse bunched around it while she sat on her swollen ankles. Sobbing through reddened eyes, she gripped a pair of pruning shears in one hand and a glossy, hardcover book in the other; she held the book open, allowing Shin'ichi to spy the title printed on its upper margin: The Proper Care of Gardenias. What made him groan, however, was the state of the potted gardenia by Ran's knees. A number of its wilted leaves and trademark white blossoms were scattered about the carpet, dead. Its strong perfume hung in the air, though even that was stale and lifeless.
Crouching in front of Ran, Shin'ichi held out his hand and waited. She sniffled, but gave him the shears.
Ran had surprised Shin'ichi by buying the gardenia several weeks ago. Considering how Ran wrinkled her nose around the flowers, it was clear she was no less sensitive to their powerful scent than she had become to any other odor. More than that, he knew—and had cautioned Ran—that a gardenia was far from a simple hobby plant. It required expert level gardening, especially when attempting to grow indoors. It made no sense for Ran to torture herself, but hey, it was her decision.
Shin'ichi bent low to pluck a yellowed bud from its rotted stem. That act unleashed another, louder burst of tears, so he stopped. "It is winter, you know," Shin'ichi said. "Even with the right soil pH, the low humidity and minimal light won't—"
"Don't you understand?" Ran said, wiping her eyes in vain as more tears coursed down her flushed cheeks. "I'm a terrible mother!"
Shin'ichi raised his eyebrows. Any connection to be found here was more improbable than logical. "What?"
"Truth is, books about gardening are easier to follow than books about babies," Ran said, with a trembling smile, easing the book onto the floor and tracing her finger along a picture of a gardenia in full bloom. "When it comes to children, there are so many different foods, different signs of illness, different ways to bond, teach, bathe, and encourage sleep. Mom tried to reassure me, but the more I read, the more I realized how much I didn't know, after all." She waved a weak hand at the gardenia. "So I got this to test myself, because I knew it would be hard, and I—I killed it. If I can't even take care of a plant, how can I know our baby will be okay?"
Sighing, Shin'ichi plunked the shears onto the carpet and kicked them away. "You should've listened to your mother."
"What?" Ran stared at him, incredulous.
"Legitimate experts exist, of course, but even they don't have all the answers. Worrying about what works for everyone is pointless," Shin'ichi said, fixing his gaze on the withered gardenia. Dropping to the floor to sit crosslegged beside Ran in his brown jacket and trousers, Shin'ichi leaned on his palms, silent for a moment. Then, reaching past her to pick up the gardening book, he closed it and set it aside. "Trust your instincts, Ran."
"Are you sure?" Ran said, clutching her knees.
"I've known you for a little while, right? For one thing, you've always been great at taking care of children, whether or not they were actually children." When that managed to get a chuckle from Ran, Shin'ichi grinned. Glancing over his shoulder at her, he added, "But in case you forgot, we're in this together. We'll be fine."
"Right," Ran said, closing her eyes and rubbing her belly with a gentle smile. But then, she winced and blushed. "Um, would you help me up? My feet fell asleep."
"Figured they would," Shin'ichi groused, standing and supporting Ran's arms as she slowly rose from the floor. "If you stop cutting off your circulation like an idiot, I'll buy you all the gardenias you want."
"Don't bother. I've had more than my fill of those things," Ran said, huffing and turning up her nose as she wobbled upright. Once she regained a firm stance, however, she leaned against Shin'ichi and, holding him close, murmured, "Thank you."
Shin'ichi was grateful that, as he lifted Ran's chin and touched a kiss to her lips, her tear-stained cheeks were dry. But then, something struck his torso right where Ran pressed against it, like a—
"Ah!" Ran cried, as they broke apart. Beaming and looking up at Shin'ichi, she asked, "Did you feel that?"
"You bet I did," Shin'ichi said, touching Ran's round stomach in time for another bubbling kick. "With legs like that, our kid can play for the Tokyo Spirits."
"Or win more karate tournaments than Kyogoku-kun," Ran said, placing her hand over his.
Shin'ichi gave her a mischievous grin. "Or make it first to the scene of the crime."
"With my luck," Ran said, frowning at Shin'ichi, but she blushed as she took his other hand and tugged him out of the room toward the kitchen. "Come on, even detectives need to eat."
"Yeah, yeah," Shin'ichi said, drawing himself up next to her even as his stomach rumbled.
Behind the retreating couple's joined hands, the gardenia remained a still and silent witness to the fragility and strength of life. The Proper Care of Gardenias, however, lay at its side, forgotten.