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Challenge

Moon Kitty 2005

January 11, 2006

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It was a sunny July day outside at the park, birds chirping and the gentle hum of traffic in the background sounding oddly soothing to the children who played and the teens who walked hand-in-hand. It was right after graduation, and the former students from Teitan High met there more often than not.

Two particular individuals who had gone through much more than any others sat in the field at that park, one reading, the other bouncing a soccer ball from knee to knee. It was a peaceful quiet, one that was so delicate the slightest sudden sound could break it, and neither wished to disrupt it.

Bounce, bounce - turn a page - bounce, bounce, bounce - turn a page

It was comforting in its own sense, and the two smiled at each other as a wind blew through the trees.

Yes, the famed high school detective Kudo Shinichi had finally returned to his childhood friend, Mouri Ran, and had told her the entire story: how he had been shrunk into a child by a secret crime organization, how he had taken up a pseudonym and disguised himself so he could protect her and everyone else he knew, and how he had lied to her nonstop for the past year. And of course, after the initial crying phase, there was the ignoring phase, then the talking phase, and now, the two teenagers were dating.

But of course, it had only been a month, and the two were still shy around each other. They still blushed whenever the other reached for their hand, and their faces still turned as red as tomatoes whenever someone would tease them. Of course, this time, they couldn't say anything to protest.

They hadn't even kissed! Sure, they had thought about it, but the time had never felt exactly right. They wanted their first kiss to be memorable, and since they were still so shy about it, they had no way of knowing when the time was right.

Another wind blew through the trees and Ran shivered, putting her book aside to pull her knees to her chest and wrap her arms around her upper body, watching Shinichi bounce the soccer ball from his knee, to his head, then to the side of his foot. His back was to her, and she smiled softly. No doubt he was concentrating very hard on not dropping the ball. When he turned to face her again, she noticed a light blush on his cheeks and he let the ball stop bouncing, resting his foot on it.

"Hey, Ran, what would you say to a challenge?" he asked suddenly, staring at her intently.

She tilted her head to the side quizzically and raised a finely-arched eyebrow. "What exactly do you mean?"

He kicked the ball gently to where she sat and squatted down next to her, nervously picking at the blades of grass between his feet. He stared at his shoes, summoning up the courage to look at her. "I mean, let's have a challenge. If you can get the soccer ball past me, you can have anything you want from me. If I get it past you, I get anything I want from you."

Ran smiled and cocked an eyebrow. "That's no challenge, Shinichi. That's indirect bragging. You only suggested that because you know you'll win." Satisfied with her response, she leaned back against the tree, closing her eyes and sighing contentedly.

"Aw, come on, Ran! Are you too chicken to try? I thought with all that karate you'd at least have some guts," he teased, and as her eyes shot open in disbelief, he knew he had her.

"Excuse me? Fine, let's do this. But if I win, no going back on your deal, got it?" she quipped and stood, brushing her hands against the material of her sun dress.

Shinichi glanced at her gleefully before running back to the field, positioning the ball between them. "Of course not. You have my word. All you have to do is get it into that goal over there. And I have to get it into that goal over there, all right?"

Ran narrowed her indigo eyes at him, blowing a lock of hair from her face. She already could feel her competitive side kicking in. She wanted to win. And she knew exactly what she would ask him for... "Whatever. Let's go."

He smiled at her, knowing from the murderous glint in her eye that this was going to be no easy match. It was perfectly all right. He had no intentions of losing, either. He knew the perfect thing to ask from her... "All right, you ready? On my count... 3, 2, 1, go!"

Ran launched herself forward, kicking the ball toward the opposite side of the field. She smiled and ran toward it as she caught the astonished look on Shinichi's face.

The ball had traveled a good 30 yards before Shinichi regained his senses and ran after her. "Oy! That wasn't fair!"

"Hurry up, slowpoke, or you're gonna lose!" she yelled over her shoulder, her breath leaving her in giddy pants. She was going to win! Her, Mouri Ran, was actually going to win a soccer match against her ace soccer player boyfriend!

Shinichi growled low in his throat and put the muscles in his legs to the test, digging his heels into the soft ground in order to gain more speed. How he wished for a pair of cleats right then... He watched in disbelief as she drew her foot back to kick the ball into the goal and reached for her arm to yank her back, but completely missed and fell face-first into the soft grass as she dodged to the side and kicked the ball hard, the ball making a soft swish as it hit the back of the net.

"Yay!" she cried. "I won!"

Shinichi removed his face from the grass and sat down, crossing his legs and pouting. Now he was never going to get what he wanted...

Ran walked over to him, hands on hips, and glared at him. "Oh, get up and stop being such a spoil sport. I won fair and square." Her heart was beating a mile a minute. She could ask him now! She had the chance! But... she didn't know if she had the courage...

He stood and brushed the back of his pants off, still pouting. "All right. What do you want?" He felt completely and utterly rejected. There was no way on earth that Ran was going to ask for that. That means he wouldn't get one. His lower lip jutted out a little farther and his posture slumped.

She stared into his eyes for a good few moments before spinning on her heel and calling over her shoulder, "I think I'll collect later..."

Shinichi stared after her, his heart beating hurriedly. What was that look about?

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- A Week Later -

Ran threw her papers haphazardly back into her desk and slammed her head on it in frustration. Today was just one of those days, and she was trying to find her perfume. She had a date to meet Shinichi at the park in about 20 minutes, and she didn't want to go without dabbing on a little of his favorite perfume.

Of course, she had noticed his slumping around, moping, and all-around unhappiness. Though, whenever she tried to ask him about it, he would send her a resentful glare. She had punched him in the arm on more than one occasion, but he simply refused to tell her.

Locating the perfume she was looking for in her bedside table, she dabbed some behind her ears and on her wrists, grabbing her purse and running out the door before her father had a chance to wake up and demand lunch.

Reaching the soccer field, she wasn't at all surprised when she saw Shinichi there, bouncing his soccer ball again. She snuck up behind him and tapped his shoulder, but when he turned around, she knew he wasn't surprised to see her. After all, he was a detective... "Hey."

"Hey... you know, you never did cash in on that favor..."

Ran cocked an eyebrow, crossing her arms. "I wasn't aware that it had an expiration date."

He smiled arrogantly and glanced at his wristwatch, sticking his hands in his pockets and shrugging nonchalantly before bouncing the ball again. "You have about five minutes until it hits noon."

Ran narrowed her eyes and was sorely tempted to hit him. Watching him bounce the ball for a minute, she smiled at him. "I've made up my mind."

He turned to her, surprised, obviously not expecting an answer so soon. "What is it?"

As she looked at him, she noticed a strange apprehension gather in his eyes. She was in love with those eyes, but he just wasn't very good at suppressing his feelings. "I want a rematch."

He stared at her confusedly, not quite believing what she said. "W-what?"

She smiled deviously and walked over to the tree, kicking off her shoes and tossing her purse down next to them. "I said, I want a rematch," she repeated slowly, glancing at his confused expression. "Same terms."

"But-"

"Ah, ah, ah... you said whatever I wanted. I want a rematch."

Overcoming his initial shock, he shrugged his shoulders, setting the soccer ball in the middle of the field. "All right... if that's what you want." He bit his lip, staring at the ball in concentration. This might be his last chance... he had to win.

"On my count," Ran said, placing her hands on her knees, watching the ball as well. "3, 2, 1... go!"

His foot shot out of nowhere and kicked it toward his goal, and Ran squealed as she jumped out of the way of the ball, tearing off after him as he ran fast toward his goal. She strained to catch up to him, but there was nothing she could do. In a way, Ran was glad she had lost. She watched the ball bounce into the goal and smiled as Shinichi turned toward her with a self-satisfied expression.

"All right, Shinichi... you beat me fair and square. What do you want?" she straightened herself, trying to catch her breath.

There was complete silence for a few moments before Shinichi looked down at his shoes, face red. He mumbled something, but Ran didn't quite seem to catch it.

"What was that?"

"A kiss... I want a kiss," he reiterated, rubbing the tip of his nose in a nervous gesture, his cheeks still colored that attractive pink.

Ran would have been lying if she had said her face wasn't the same color. She worried her lower lip and stepped closer, wrapping her arms around his neck. She noticed his nervous expression and hoped that hers didn't display how nervous she actually felt. She felt him place his hands tentatively on her waist and she leaned forward, gently brushing her lips against his. They were incredibly soft and warm, and she leaned back a little, staring into his eyes before pulling him to her and sealing her lips against his.

She was glad his arms tightened around her waist. She was sure that if he kept responding the way he was to her kiss she would melt into a puddle right then and there. It was an extreme effort to keep her knees in working order, especially when the kiss grew more heated and suddenly it was him taking over, dragging his teeth across her lower lip. He dug his fingers into her hair, cradling her head as he slanted his lips across hers, smiling when she fell against him slightly.

When they finally released each other, she tucked her head beneath his chin, listening to his rapid heartbeat. When she caught sight of the soccer ball, she suddenly laughed.

Shinichi smiled warmly. "What's so funny?"

She shook her head and snuggled further into his warmth, looking up at him with twinkling indigo eyes. "Nothing. I should have just let you win the first time. I got what I wanted, anyway."

As Shinichi smiled, his eyes a dark blue, leaning his head down to press his lips to hers softly once again, Ran couldn't help but think:

I love soccer...

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Authoress Notes:

Well, this was just an idea that hit me a while ago, and today I was flipping through my story plots to find a story that I could write, and I saw this one and I was like, "Ahh! I have to write this one right now!" Anyway, I think it is one of the bestest ones I've done so far, but I'll leave that up to you guys, hmm? Please review!