accio abarero! (abarero) wrote in 12daysofficmas,
accio abarero!
abarero
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Day 12: #3

And I finally get this finished...

Title: The Great Christmas Eve Expectation
Author: abarero
Theme: Day Twelve: present
Series: Detective Conan
Pairing: Shinichi(Conan)/Ran, Mitsuhiko/Ai
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Nothing really
Disclaimer:Detective Conan belongs to the great and wonderful Gosho Aoyama.
Anything else: Finally done, yay~!



The whole day it seemed as if the world was out to get him. Setting up little coincidences here and there, making things all the more emotionally frustrating- and that was before seeing his parents.

In short, one Kudo Shinichi now had a hell of a lot to live up to.

The first instance was early that morning as the papers came in. Kogoro just wouldn't stop ranting and raving about how much Ran had learned from his great detective skills and phone calls asking for interviews kept coming in as well. Much like Conan had told her the night before, the headlines read like a star line up.

It was no surprise to those that knew her, that Mouri Ran had great potential to solve a murder case. Daughter of the infamous 'Sleeping Kogoro' and according to friends, currently dating high-school detective Kudo Shinichi- Ran was a hero in her own right last night as she cleared Nagano Shiina's name from a framed murder and helped the Two-Mix concert go on as planned. "Once I realized that someone had framed Nagano-san, I knew I had to do something about it," Ran remarked after exiting the concert. When asked how she was able to solve it so skillfully, Miss Mouri became embarrassed at the flattery. "I wouldn't say I'm a great detective, I'll leave that to my Father and Shinichi. But I suppose being around them, and hearing their deductions did indeed help me in this situation."

Conan's eyes skimmed the rest of the article- proud to see that Ran was getting the praise she deserved for it. But there was one unsettling thing about it; although the mentions of him were indeed completely innocent and gave no indication as to his location, all the times his name appeared involved mentioning that he was her boyfriend. Expectation and assumption number one of the day.

Expectation number two came not long after.

Sonoko had called and demanded to have a 'nice, long talk' with Ran. Conan, of course, knew this was all a big rouse to hound Ran for details about last night- but almost like watching two trains collide and being morbidly fascinated by it, Conan found himself asking to go along with Ran to meet up with Sonoko.

After practically two seconds, he quickly regretted it.

The small coffee shop could surely hear each and every punctuated word out of Sonoko's mouth as she downright interrogated Ran about 'her hot date.'

The moment she finally weaseled it out of Ran that they'd each respectively kissed the other on the cheek- Sonoko knocked over her coffee mug out of pure excitement.

"Finally! You finally took a step forward!" The girl exclaimed, reaching across the table to hug her best friend, "I'm so proud of you, Ran. You're becoming a woman."

Ran, as was poor Conan, was blushing profusely after this and quickly tried to hush her friend's exclamations. Somewhere along the line, she slipped and mentioned that she was getting together with Shinichi that evening.

Sonoko just grinned, "Then you need to put the moves on him, girl! Go get him!"

Conan slouched down in his seat and sorely wished he'd never ever been possessed to ask to come along. Then again, after a sideways glance at Ran, he could tell she was feeling the same.

"Sonoko!" Ran reprimanded, "We're just getting together to exchange gifts. That's all!"

"What kind of gifts?"

"Sonoko! I'm not you!"

"Oh come on now, he's been gone for a long time. He's probably just waiting to get you alone before he jumps you."

Ran frowned, "Shinichi's not like that."

"A man has needs, and he's been alone for who knows how long..."

"We aren't even officially anything but friends!"

Sonoko shrugged, "Things can change quickly in one night. Just remember- wear something that shows off your figure and don't let him leave until he commits."

"Commits?" Ran snapped, "Commits to what?"

"To you, of course. He needs to just come out and at least let you know how he feels- right? And what better gift is there than that?"

Despite her wild train of thought, Sonoko's conclusion was indeed something that both Ran and Conan found piqued their interest. But not about to sit around and let her come up with any other crazy ideas about their love life- Ran feigned that she had to get Conan somewhere, and Conan was more than happy to play along. Once outside, Ran sighed.

"Sorry about that, Conan-kun. Sonoko can get...somewhat worked up."

"Eheh, it's okay Ran-neechan. It's not like Shinichi-niisan was there too."

Ran blanched and shook her head, "I think I would have just died of embarrassment had Shinichi been there. I mean- implying that he's going to...to...well, you don't think Shinichi's like that do you, Conan?"

Having to refrain from laughing to himself at the utter irony of this situation, Conan shook his head, "I'm sure Shinichi-niisan won't do anything weird tonight, Ran-neechan. He probably just wants to spend time with you and give you your present."

"Yah, that's right..." Ran replied, then she blushed a bit as she continued, "Thought I guess I can't argue with Sonoko about one thing. That would be a great gift."

Although he had a sinking feeling he knew what she meant, Conan played innocent, "What would, Ran-neechan?"

She smiled, "Nothing. Just thinking to myself. How about we go home and get some lunch?"

Conan nodded, "Okay."

--------------------------------------------

As Ran started to rummage about the kitchen for things to cook, Conan sat nearby and pondered on the predicament he was in so far.

First off, there was a strong implication that one Kudo Shinichi was supposed to be dating Ran. Secondly, although Sonoko was clearly at fault for putting the idea in her head, Ran seemed to think her friend's suggestion of a 'great gift' was wonderful. That meant, said Kudo Shinichi was going to have to suck up his nerves and spit out in some form of intelligent speech what his feelings for Ran were.

And as his list of 'things I should try and do while I'm in my real body' continued to grow, a phone call brought a third matter into the fray.

"Conan-kun, it's for you!" Ran called out, and the boy quickly went to answer it. Needless to say, the second he heard the voice on the other end- he knew this couldn't be good.

"Oi, Kudo. How's the lovebirds on that end?" Hattori's voice echoed over the line.

Pausing a moment, and making sure he was out of Ran's hearing range, Conan sighed, "I can hear the corny Christmas music in the background. What are you doing at a mall on Christmas Eve, Hattori?"

"Well um... consider this a fair warning."

"What do you mean?"

In the background, Conan could hear Ran's cell phone start to ring.

"You hear that? That's probably Kazuha. You are now officially doomed unless you can whip out the best Romeo act in town tonight, Kudo."

"What are you talking about, Hattori? What happened?"

Heiji gulped, knowing that in any second- Ran would blurt out the exact secret he so feared spreading.

"Oh my- you and Heiji? You finally kissed? Twice? Kazuha-chan, that's wonderful!" Ran's voice echoed from the other room. Conan's mouth quirked into a devious smirk.

"Sounds like someone was busy this morning..."

"It was an accident!"

"You're telling me you can 'accidentally' kiss someone twice? Hattori, you know I'm smarter than that- right?"

Heiji sighed in resignation, "Okay, okay. Only one was an accident...the other just...sorta happened."

"So you gave her the necklace then?"

"Nah, she'd already gotten the whole promise-ring thing into her head thanks to your little phone call so I exchanged it for that. We're...out shopping now because Kazuha demanded that she get me a better gift."

"I suppose I should say "Congratulations" then. You two finally saw the obviousness stamped all over you," Conan replied with a laugh.

He felt slightly unnerved when Heiji laughed a bit back, "Well, don't laugh too much Kudo. Now Ran's going to expect you to- as they put it- take a step forward in your relationship. Consider it payback for this whole mess you got me into using my voice."

Frowning as he realized Heiji was right, Shinichi amended his earlier tally. The game was now even: Shinichi- 1, Heiji- 1.

And so, item number three made its way onto Shinichi's growing list.
----------------------------------------

After letting Ran know he was going to visit the professor, Conan headed out- ready to put the evening’s plans into action. He knew already that the moment his parents arrived, he'd be bombarded by expectations; but Shinichi wasn't expecting any sort of problem prior to their arrival.

Needless to say, on noticing Mitsuhiko leaving the house as he arrived- Conan knew that something was up.

"Hey, Mitsuhiko!" He called out, walking up to his friend.

"Conan!" He exclaimed, practically jumping out of his skin, "You...you just got here right?" Mitsuhiko stammered, blush burning on his cheeks.

Conan raised an eyebrow, "Um yes. I just got here, why?"

"Oh- no reason. Um...see ya tomorrow!" The boy managed before rushing off down the street.

It was obvious, detective-genius or not, that something had just happened that Mitsuhiko wanted to be a secret. And on looking past the gate to the front door, Conan saw the reason standing right there.

Sure enough, still in the doorway was a rather pleasantly surprised Haibara holding a Christmas present she'd clearly just opened.

"Haibara, what happened?"

Her eyes darted up and she blinked a moment before turning to go back inside.

"Nothing," She replied, her voice wavering and betraying her statement.

Conan shrugged and went in after her, sliding his shoes off at the door- he glanced up at Professor Agasa.

"What's up with Haibara?" He whispered.

Agasa bent down, "Mitsuhiko just gave her a rather special gift. My guess is she's somewhat touched."

"I do have emotions, Professor," Ai's voice cut in, "It was just... very thoughtful of him."

The two males of the room exchanged a glance and Shinichi had a bad feeling about it.

--------------------

Sure enough, a few hours later amidst her typing and scribbling notes about the antidote, Haibara ended up conceding what had happened.

"Before you injure your brain trying to deduce what happened, I might as well tell you. Unless you'd rather guess, Mr. Detective?"

Not about to let the challenge pass him by, Conan stepped up to the task, "It's not that hard to figure out. Moments before my arrival, Mitsuhiko- who'd probably been outside for hours- had finally gotten up the courage to knock. You- figuring it was my arrival- got up to answer it. This in turn made Mitsuhiko even more embarrassed, since he'd intended to give the gift to the Professor to give to you. He quickly handed you the box before stammering out a 'Merry Christmas' and turning to go. You managed to stall him (probably by saying something like 'just a moment' or 'wait') and opened the gift then and there. At the look of surprise on your face, Mitsuhiko probably rambled about how he'd gone out of his way to get it and how he hoped you'd like it. About this time was when I arrived, so Mitsuhiko quickly left. And that's that."

"You missed one thing in your deduction. A rather important matter, at least to some," Ai remarked, obviously amused.

Conan raised an eyebrow, "What?"

"Do you have any idea why Tsuburaya-kun was so flustered on thinking you'd seen something?"

The shrunken detective frowned, mulling over his deduction in his head. Upstairs, the doorbell rang and Haibara turned back to her computer.

"That's probably your parents, you'd best go."

Snapping out of his thoughts, he stood, "Ah yes..."

Once he was half-way up the stairs, he heard Ai's voice quietly whisper behind him.

"Perhaps we'll find out if you'll be the type to kiss and tell as well after tonight, Kudo-kun."

And with that, everything clicked into place.
-------------------------

Heading up the stairs, and almost wishing he'd arrived to the house earlier to see the rest of the exchange between Mitsuhiko and Ai, Conan sighed on realizing that his young friend had managed to do something he was still struggling to do. Hell, even the night before he'd only managed a light peck on the cheek without totally freaking out.

Shaking his head at himself, he began to wonder if all the people in the city he knew were going to have a more romantic Christmas Eve than him.

"Heh, I bet even KID is fairing better than this..." He thought to himself, thinking back to the other teen's female friend.

"There's my Shin-chan!" His Mother's voice cut into his thoughts, and Shinichi realized that despite everything up to this point- the worst was yet to come.


The Kudo family was never what one would call normal. Between an actress Mother, a novelist Father and a high-school detective son- it would have been odd had they been normal. A point Shinichi was always reminded of when they visited. While most parents would have been terrified to find out their only son had been shrunk to a child and was targeted by a mysterious dark organization- Yukiko and Yusaku took it in stride. Or more specifically- Yukiko thought it was wonderful to have her seven year old little Shin-chan back and Yusaku merely nodded and told his son that it would teach him to be a better detective.

But when it came down to family dinners- especially when all involved knew that Shinichi was Conan- the talk always gravitated to one particular subject. Namely, a certain girl named Mouri Ran.

"Shin-chan, did you wash that sweater several times so it'll look like you've worn it a lot?" Yukiko asked as they sat down at the table.

Conan sighed, "Yes..."

"Good."

"Though I am suspicious as to why you'd think to tell me to do that."

Yusaku shrugged, "A good question indeed. Where did the idea come from?"

Yukiko frowned, snatching the dinner roll from her husband's hands.

"Perhaps you should investigate your closet, dear."

And so- the dinner table fiasco began. First, the questions. What was he wearing that night? What was he going to say? Did he have the gift wrapped more so than the bag of the store it was bought from? Was he just going to say he liked her or that he loved her?

Each of the questions were dealt with, with increasing levels of embarrassment, as Shinichi resisted the urge to act his apparent age and start throwing food at his parents in exasperation. At least, he realized, the Professor looked somewhat sympathetic.

Secondly, came the advice. First, be as honest as you can be; it'll mean a lot to her. ("But you just told me to lie about the sweater!" "That's different, Shin-chan.") Second, be on time. ("Unlike a certain someone's manuscript deadlines- Ran shouldn't be avoided or let down." "Since when did I let my editor down?" "Didn't you have something due yesterday?" "I was...busy." "Busy avoiding his calls.") Third, no signing autographs- unless it's for Ran.

The last, of course, led to a full blown discussion of why that advice was even relevant. ("Yukiko, I thought you were over that." "Over it? Shin-chan, can you believe him!? Fondling another woman's...assets- and acting so casual about it?" "She asked if I would sign a bra at the book-signing. Though awkward, it was only good PR for me to agree. How was I to know she meant the one she was still wearing?" "Shinichi, promise me you won't sign anyone's bra- unless it's Ran-chan's." "Mother! I can't believe you!")

Finally, the clock ticked closer to eight and the family dinner was winding down. And by the time Ai came upstairs to let Conan know it was time to get the antidote in his system, he was more than happy to leave his parents upstairs to continue their discussion about what had happened the night before when he'd gone with Ran to the concert. True, they would no doubt press the Professor for details- but at least downstairs, the sound would be muffled.

-------------------------------

"As you ready?" Haibara asked, handing him the pill. He nodded.

It was now or never and if there was one thing his day so far had convinced him- it was that he was going to force himself to tell Ran how he felt or die trying.

As he swallowed the pill and reached for the Paikaru, Shinichi hoped the fates didn't take the last part of his inner vow too seriously.

----------------------------

His head was still a bit fuzzy, but granted- that was natural given that he just returned to his usual size. He’d attired himself in the sweater Ran had knitted him and a pair of pants his Mother had gotten from their house across the street. In the few minutes it took to see if the medicine had indeed taken effect, Shinichi decided he'd inquire into the situation between his young friends.

"So Mitsuhiko kissed you?"

Haibara blinked, coughing lightly and turning to face the computer, "Something like that."

"Probably at his older sister's suggestion if he asked her for love-advice. I surely can't see Genta thinking that up. What did he get you anyways? I know the other day the poor kid was pretty confused as to what you'd like."

She reached in the box and tossed over a baseball hat with the logo for the Big Osaka soccer team on it. On the hat's bill, there was something written in black marker.

"Ryusuke Higo, #9..."

"Apparently, Tsuburaya-kun ran into Higo-san on a fluke at the mall and asked him to autograph this for me."

"Wow- that is a great gift. No wonder you looked so happy," Shinichi teased.

"Shouldn’t you be delivering a heart-felt gift about now, Kudo-kun?”

Shinichi stood, stretching his muscles out, and walked over to stand behind the small girl and her computer. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he smiled.

“Thanks, Haibara.”

“Oh, and one more thing…” Ai started listing off her usual warnings, noted that she would come along with the Professor to monitor him and much to his surprise, even gave him a few words of encouragement. Finally, they headed upstairs and said their goodbyes to Shinichi’s parents.

“So this is what that antidote does, hmm?” Yusaku asked, eyeing him from head to toe and obviously thinking up ways to work a twist like this into an upcoming novel.

Yukiko just hugged him, commenting on how her boy had grown. Shinichi rolled his eyes.

“Now you’d better call in the morning with details or I’m calling Ran-chan.”

“Mother!”

“And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, son.”

“Yusaku!”

“What?”

Yukiko planted her hands firmly on her hips, “They’re still kids! At least let him give her the ring first before telling him to make a move!”

“You’re the one telling him to autograph her bra.”

“Um- Mom, Dad, I’m going now…”

The two stopped their bickering for a moment to give him one last hug and a wish of good luck. And as the clock ticked past 7:47 pm, they headed out.

-------------------------------------------
On the car ride there, he sat in complete silence trying to rehearse everything in his mind so it didn't come out wrong or he didn't chicken out like he had in the past. But as he glanced out the window, his eyes caught sight of a familiar looking vehicle.

A Black Porsche, 356A.

Squinting his eyes closed, he cursed every deity he could think of for his horrible luck.

"Agasa, please tell me- was that..."

"Gin and Vodka," Haibara remarked, eyes cold, "Looks like it's your lucky night."

Biting his lip, and hoping that two hours was enough- he sighed.

"Agasa, follow without them noticing."
-----------------------------

Ran was starting to get worried. Eight o'clock had rolled around without a single word, call or anything. Once again, she was starting to think that Shinichi was going to be a no-show.

Turning on the late news and listening for any big crimes that Shinichi could have gotten himself mixed up in, she heard a light tap on the door.

"In other news, there was a mysterious explosion tonight at the..." The newscaster was cut off as Ran flipped off the TV.

Slowly, she crossed the room; finding that Shinichi's tardiness had made her not only worried but very on-edge that something bad could happen as well.

"Ran? Ran, it's me," The familiar voice called through.

Relief washed over her features as she pulled open the door, but she quickly took to frowning, "Shinichi- where the hell were you?! I was so..."

Her words trailed off as she got a good look at him. Apologetic smile on his face, he gestured to his sweater.

"Sorry, Ran. I think you'll have to knit me another one. I got caught up in something on the way over and couldn't risk your safety by calling you."

Sure enough, Shinichi was smudged in what looked like ashes and there were small pieces of debris still residing on his shoulders and in his hair. The blue sweater she'd give him, had a few burn marks in it and looked even more worse-for-wear than Shinichi himself did.

But despite the fact he was late, and that he'd just ruined the sweater she'd given him, Ran couldn't help but smile.

"...As long as you're okay."

He nodded, "A bit disappointed that I didn't get there in time, but a-okay. Can I...come in?"

"Oh!" Ran stepped back to allow him into the room, "Sorry. I was just..."

"It's okay," Shinichi replied, rubbing a smudge of dirt from his face with a sneeze.

"Let me go get you something to clean off with and something clean to put on," She said, rushing towards the bathroom.

The teen detective watched her with a smile for a moment before walking over to the blinds and glancing out. On the sidewalk below, Professor Agasa gave him a thumbs up.

All clear. No one saw us or followed us.

At that, Shinichi sighed in relief. They were safe, and most importantly- Ran wasn't dragged into anything.

"Is your case really that dangerous?" Ran asked, returning with a washcloth and one of her Father's shirts for Shinichi to change into.

Shinichi looked up, smile not quite hiding the seriousness in his eyes.

"Be as honest as you can be. It'll mean a lot to her," His mother's words echoed in his mind.

"I just don't want you to get hurt."

Pausing in her steps, Ran blinked. Even when he was in full-out Detective-Mode, he was still worrying about her?

"So um... what happened tonight?" She asked casually, reaching up to wipe his face with the cloth. He flinched at the cold water before cocking his head to one side and shrugging.

He could kinda-sorta answer, right?

"Just saw one of the suspects on my case acting rather shady around this abandoned technical plant. I haven't had a lead on him in awhile so I went after him. But, it turns out that while we were trying not be spotted out front, they got out the backside and any victims and/or evidence was destroyed in the blast."

"The explosion..." Ran murmured, remembering the small bit she'd caught of it on the news.

Shinichi just shook his head, "Yah, the news'll just write it off an accident or at most, a prank or arson. These guys are good at covering their tracks though, so the truth is still yet to be revealed."

Smiling Ran taped him on the nose, "And knowing you and your soot-covered body you were trying to reveal that truth when the explosion went off. Am I right?"

"Something like that," He replied, smiling back.

"Here, change into this while I get your Christmas gift..." She remarked, handing over the white shirt.

Before he could protest or say much more than a muffled "But Ran..." she'd already left the room. Shaking his head, more at his own predicament than anything else, Shinichi tugged the sweater off and put the clean white shirt on and buttoned it up. Putting his hand to his pocket, he felt the small ring box sitting there and sighed in relief.

"Good, it's still there. I figured with my luck that it would have dropped out when I was running out of the fires."

Ran returned, still smiling, as she deposited the box on his lap.

"Okay, here you go."

He looked down to the box, trying to gauge the best way to act surprised, and then promptly tore into it like an excited child on Christmas morning. Ran barely stifled a laugh.

Inside was not only the scarf, but another sweater as well.

"I had a feeling that you might need another one," She remarked, eyeing the burnt one sitting on the back of the sofa, "And it looks like I was right."

Shinichi grinned sheepishly, "Thanks Ran, I should probably try not to wear it out when I'm on cases."

"It can't be helped. You'd get yourself into trouble even if you weren't on a case."

He rubbed the back of his head, "Got me there. Oh um..." He gulped, sitting the box aside and trying to think up all the things he'd planned to say. "Ran, I...err...I'm sorry but..."

Ran sighed, "It's okay if you didn't have time to get me anything. The concert last night can be my present if that makes you feel any better."

"No! I mean..." He took a deep breath to compose his thoughts.

"Come on Shinichi. This might be your only chance for a long time so just spit it out!"

"Ran, here- I did get you something," He muttered, unceremoniously shoving the ring box into her hands.

Slowly, she opened it- her eyes flitting between Shinichi and the box in her hands. Once it was opened, he could hear her small gasp in surprise. That was his cue, so before she could talk or get him off track by thanking him- he spoke up.

"Ran, I know things have been rough this last year and I'm sorry I can't always be there for you. So I...I wanted to promise you that..." He took a deep breath and echoed the same words he'd had to tell her as Conan before, "That even if I die trying, I'll solve this case and come back. So, wait for me Ran...no matter what. I...I..."

He looked away, inwardly berating himself for stalling now, "Damnit, I just can't seem to say the rest. This happened last time and then..."

Shinichi heard Ran's light laughter and jerked his head back in her direction.

"Idiot. You don't have to say anymore than that," She murmured, her expression showing that she was clearly holding back tears.

"I-I don't?" He asked, blinking.

Ran shook her head, "I may not be a famous detective, but I don't think you're going to ask me for your school notes after saying all that."

He laughed nervously in reply. "Ran...so you've almost always known then, haven't you?"

"You got me there."

Smirking, Ran innocently shrugged, "Then again, I can't seem to figure out exactly what it is you are trying to say."

He could tell she was just as nervous, but it all came down to him. She had to hear it to believe it for certain.

"Maybe your idol, Holmes, would know what to do," Ran said casually.

Shinichi's eyes lit up, "Thanks Ran, you just made this a little bit easier for me."

Clearing his throat, he replied, "Once you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Ran seemed to contemplate that in context of the situation, her eyes widening as she realized what he was practically outright admitting, "But then it...you..."

Shinichi glanced at the floor, hoping his voice would continue even if he was too jumbled up in his mind to think clearly, "I guess that's my problem. Holmes was never much of a romantic."

"Shinichi..."

Looking back up at her, he mustered up every ounce of courage he had and spoke.

"I guess what I've been trying to say is..." He waited, almost expecting this to be the instant that the antidote wore off or the phone rang- anything. But on realizing that, for once, time was on his side, he managed to finally say it.

"I love you, Ran."

-----------------------

In the car outside, Haibara watched the clock intently.

"He looked pretty determined when he went in. What did you say to him earlier?" Professor Agasa asked, glancing up at the windows.

"If I have learned one thing in my life, it's to live for the moment- always looking towards the future. Good luck and may all your dreams come true," She recited, "It was the message Higo-san left along with the hat he signed."

"Your gift from Mitsuhiko-kun?"

Haibara smiled, "It looks like the message inspired both of us. Now we just have to wait and see if Kudo-kun is as brave as Tsuburaya-kun was. He's only got about thirty more minutes to try."

--------------------------------

The second after the words left his mouth- everything started happening in a rush. Ran murmuring his name before practically tackling him to the ground in an embrace. Her quiet whisper in his ear, "Me to, Shinichi. I love you." And that nagging voice in his subconscious going "Kiss her, damnit! Just kiss her," repetitively before he finally caved in and leaned down to nervously capture her lips with his own.

As the two pulled apart blushing, he saw Ran's face light up with an expression he'd never seen before as she shyly glanced away.

"The perfect gift indeed," He thought to himself, touched just as she was by the last few moments that turned all their awkward romance up into that point into something more than just a "I think he/she likes me."

Something in his brain finally processed, and he managed to speak.

"Merry Christmas, Ran."

She elbowed him in the ribs, bringing all the awkwardness back to normal.

"Merry Christmas, you mystery freak."

-------------------------------------------

They spent the rest of their time together much like they had in the past. Taunting and teasing each other, Ran threatening him with karate if he was ever late again and Shinichi ending up on a tangent about Sherlock Holmes. It was just like it always had been between them- except now there was that small little ring on Ran's finger to remind them that there was more than just friendship here. A promise from Shinichi that he'd find a way back after his case and a promise from Ran that she'd wait for him.

Shinichi's cell phone rang, a message from Agasa that he had leave since the antidote was about to wear off. Normally, he'd press his luck, but he figured after the run-in with the Black Organization and everything else- the last thing he needed to do was to ruin it all in a moment by testing the boundaries.

As he hung up the phone, he gave Ran a lopsided smile. "Sorry, looks like I gotta go."

He knew normally she'd protest, or at least demand to know why, but it seemed like this time she understood.

"Okay, can I call you tomorrow?"

He nodded, "Sure. If I don't pick up, leave a message and I'll get back to you."

She stood, following him to the door.

"Thanks again, for the gift and all," He said, rubbing the back of his head.

Ran smiled, "Thank you- for tonight, for everything."

The two paused, each standing on one side of the doorway and waiting for the other to make the first move. Unlike the kiss before, this time they were acutely aware of what they were doing and not just going by impulsive action.

On feeling the burning sensation starting to prick at his body, Shinichi knew he had to hurry. But before he could move, Ran had leaned up to kiss him.

"Goodnight, Shinichi," She said breathlessly as they pulled apart.

He blushed, coughing lightly, "Goodnight, Ran. Talk to you tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay," She replied with a smile, watching as he walked down the stairs until she couldn't see his shadow anymore.
---------------------------------

It was a little after ten when a knock sounded from the front door and Ran went to answer it. Her Father had returned minutes earlier and had immediately taken to inquiring about the ring on her finger and where the "good for nothing" that gave it to her was. Luckily for her, he was also slightly drunk and so it wasn't long before he fell asleep on the couch.

Walking to the door, she could hear Professor Agasa's voice calling to her.

"Hello? Anyone awake? Mouri-san?"

She opening it to find the portly professor holding a sleeping Conan in his arms.

"Sorry for disturbing you so late, but I figured he might want to wake up at home on Christmas morning."

Ran smiled down at the boy and gently took him into her arms. That's when she noticed the small red box he gripped in his hand.

"What's this?"

"I believe it's for you. I think he wanted to give it to you tonight but didn't want to bother you when Shinichi visited," He replied, not letting on that he'd made sure to put it in Conan's hands before coming up the stairs.

Ran blushed at the name, "Oh, I see."

"Speaking of", Agasa asked with a grin, "I see Shinichi managed to get here okay?"

She nodded, shifting Conan's weight in her arms a bit, "He was a little late, but that's Shinichi for you. I think I would have been more worried had he been on time."

Agasa shook his head, "I couldn't agree more. Now, I don't mean to pry but... that ring, did he perhaps...?"

She blushed again, nodding silently.

"I'll have to tell his parents then. His mother has been waiting for you two to become an official couple for years," He remarked with a wink.

"Professor!"

"Shh- don't wake Conan on my account; I'll be going now. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas," Ran echoed, closing the door behind him and taking Conan into the bedroom. Once she had him settled under the blankets, she delicately pried the box from his hands.

"To Ran-neechan," She read aloud, before caving in and opening it. She could apologize in the morning for opening it early if Conan got upset. But her curiosity really was getting the best of her.

Sliding off the green bow, Ran opened the small box- her eyes widening in surprise.

---------------------------------

He knew before he even opened his eyes that he was back to being Conan again. Vague memories of practically collapsing in pain at the base of the stairs and Agasa and Haibara helping him into the car before driving away flitted through his mind. They'd probably taken him back to Agasa's to sleep off the after-effects of the antidote wearing off and given Ran a call to let her know he was spending the night.

But much to his surprise, that wasn't where he woke up. He was back at the Mouri residence, in his bed there, and- there next to his bed was Ran, who it appeared had fallen asleep beside with her head pillowed on her arms.

Shaking his head at her, he lifted a blanket to drape over where she sat on the ground. That's when he noticed the glint of gold from around her neck.

It was the necklace he planned to give her as Conan, something the Professor had no doubt brought over the night before when he brought him there, and around the bottom of the chain hung the promise ring.

He had to admit it was a rather fitting combination; Shinichi's ring on Conan's necklace- two in one, so to speak.

Shifting back on the pillows, he looked over at Ran's content features and smiled.

"Merry Christmas, Ran. From both of us."

THE END
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