Mouri Ran closed the textbook she was reading with a sigh. Across her, Kudo Shinichi looked up in surprise, his Sherlock Holmes novel opened on his lap.
"Anything wrong, Ran?"
"No, nothing. It's just..." Ran punctuated her words with another sigh which said everything else. Shinichi smiled knowingly, then swung his legs off the desk, his fingers neatly and methodically bookmarking his page.
"You're bored, aren't you?"
"Well, a bit I guess..." Ran looked into Shinichi's eyes, trying to decipher the mischievous twinkle that had suddenly sparked up in them, wondering not for the first time why he had invited her here. "Wh-y?"
"Shh." Shinichi darted a quick glance at the librarian, buried three deep under the massive piles of books and files. Aside from her, they were the only people in the silent library. Nodding in satisfaction, he pushed their books aside with a careless sweep of his hand.
"We're going to play chess."
He flashed her a quick grin, laughing quietly at her astounded expression as he pushed back his chair. "Go look for a board; libraries always have one or two old ones lying around."
"But I don't even like chess!"
"Trust me, you'll like it more than you think you will." And there was that exasperating sparkle again. Ran groaned half-heartedly before pushing her chair back.
"You aren't going to let off, are you?"
"What do you think?"
Shinichi, Ran thought as she wandered idly through rows of dusty old shelves, had changed since she last knew him. She remembered him last as a carefree, often distracted teenage detective, always rushing out to work on a new case that had cropped up.
Yet since he had returned from the States, there was something...different about him. He seemed more grounded, more relaxed and there was that nagging thought somewhere behind her head which insisted that the Shinichi who went away was not the same Shinichi who came back.
But still, change was inevitable; she knew she too was not the same Ran of the years past. Perhaps it was just the way life goes, subtly differing from its original course now and then.
"A penny for your thoughts, Ran?"
Snapping fingers woke her out of her reveries. Blinking, she gathered her scattered thoughts together as a bemused Shinichi looked on. "Ah, I was looking for a-"
"-board?" Shinichi gestured at the dusty box under his arm. "I figured you were wool-gathering when you stood staring at the shelf for five minutes. I highly doubt-" wryly glancing at the tome before her, "the History of the Indies deserve so much of your attention."
Ignoring Ran's impression of a stuttering duck, he took her hand and brought her back to the table then engrossed himself in setting the worn pieces in their places. That intent look in his eyes, the way he would mutter inaudibly under his breath as he did something, these small quirks Ran learnt by heart and kept away for the future.
After all, who knew when Shinichi would disappear again, melting away into the stuff wistful dreams were made of? Too many times had she allowed herself to believe that Shinichi had returned this time for good only to have those hopes crushed into ashes and scattered to the wind.
"Done!" The satisfied exclamation dragged her back to reality as she chided herself sternly for entertaining such foolish fancies. Looking over at him, she caught him darting a look at her...almost shyly?
Kudo Shinichi, famous detective extraordinaire- shy?
Ran Mouri, you're starting to imagine stupid things. Stupid, dumb, completely impossible things. This is what too much daydreaming gets you.
Shinichi gestured at the board, playing pieces all neatly lined up in their respective places. He raised his eyes to meet hers gently. "White or black?"
Was it an illusion, the glow in his eyes that spoke to her of her heart's greatest desire? The warm touch so casually placed over her hand that meshed so perfectly with her intertwined fingers?
Dammit, it's only a game of chess. Get a grip, Ran Mouri or you'll be imagining a faint flush next...
...which I'm already seeing. Argh!
"Since you're unusually quiet today," a teasing smile tugging his lips into a lopsided smirk, "I'll take black. Is that okay with you?"
"Anything's fine." Managing a weak smile-couldn't he feel the racing of her heart?-she took the seat behind the white pieces. Shinichi dropped himself loosely into his own chair. Wishing to break the silence, Ran gestured with her free hand. "Black starts first."
"Right, black's first," Shinichi murmured to himself, smiling whimsically. He lifted his head and locked eyes purposefully with Ran. "I'll just make the opening move then, shall I?"
Then he leaned over the small table and kissed her.
Ran, frozen by an inexpressible emotion, didn't take long to melt into his open embrace, their joined hands blindly pushing the catalysts of this significant event to the floor, clattering sharply in the silence charged with something no words could define.
Somehow they managed to clumsily skirt around the table, holding on to each other as if the world would end should they release each other. And it probably would, for all uncertainties were thrown to the wind in the wake of this new realization of a cherished hope.
Finally, after an eternity and a half, their lips came apart and they breathed, eyes not leaving one another as they gazed upon each other in new wonder as if seeing each other for the first time, exploring the boundaries of their new-found tryst.
Shinichi was the first to speak, a crooked grin lighting his face, "I believe it's your move now, Ran."
"Oh really?" Ran felt the corners of her own mouth pulling up in a smile to match Shinichi's own. "Alright then, here goes..."
And she gently pulled Shinichi's head down to hers as their lips joined again for a sweet, sweet moment.
When they next broke off, Shinichi murmured, "I think this is going to be a long, interesting game..."
"So?" Kazuha prompted Ran as they walked to the bus station the next day. "You said Shinichi invited you to the library...?"
Ran smiled. "Yes, he did."
"And then? C'mon, fill me in on the details!" Kazuha wriggled in anticipation. "Did he...?" She lifted an eyebrow, grinning knowingly.
Ran walked on. "What on earth do you mean, Kazuha-chan?"
"Don't 'Kazuha-chan' me, you sly fox!" Kazuha tapped her foot impatiently. "Spill the details!"
Ran twisted the shiny new ring on her left finger, smiling innocently. "Well, if you insist. We spent the day playing..."
"Chess?" Hattori Heiji stared at Shinichi in disbelief from where he was leaning against a pillar. "You two spent a perfectly good day indoors in a dusty old building playing chess?"
Shinichi, with a very distant yet smug smile, answered, "Yes."
"In an empty library with enough dust bunnies to start their own population?"
Again, that infuriatingly calm look. "Yes."
"With Mouri Ran who, as far as I know, is not the indoors type of girl?"
It is rare that Hattori Heiji had nothing, absolutely nothing to say. This was one of those rare times. He did, however, manage to splutter, "And you two didn't get bored?"
Shinichi looked at him seriously. "You've never seen me checkmate."
Heiji and Kazuha shot Shinichi and Ran respectively a baffled look. Then simultaneously,
"I don't get it."