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In the the comfortable quiet of the shared space between them, in the loud silence in which she could count her heartbeats, she wondered sometimes about the man that sat beside her. For he was no longer the boy she remembered playing in the dirt with when they were children, and neither was he the guy that teased her relentlessly and goaded her shamelessly until her fists went flying in retribution.

He had grown wiser ... he had a look in his eyes, like he was a man who has seen death and was free from it—someone who knew exactly how fleeting life was. She couldn't quite place the physical dissimilarities besides that he might have grown a bit taller but rather, she thought it was his aura.

Shinichi had always carried a confident tug in his shoulders, an arrogant streak in his eyes, and mischief in his smiles wherever he went. Even on the most brutal crime scenes those traits never faltered. But now ... he was so contained now, like he walked on fragile glass instead of the earth. Like it might've shattered beneath his soles if he made the faintest impression.

This Shinichi walked in measured breaths, with his eyes peeled open and his shoulders hunched in ever so slightly—it was as if he wanted to take up less space, like he felt exposed. And Ran's heart went out to him, every time.

She watched the pen twirl between his deft fingers, his eyes scanning over his textbook as he studied for their upcoming finals. His eyes held a sort of new intensity—he'd always been sharp, since she could remember, always focused, always determined, but now Ran found herself surprised to be able to describe him as dangerous.

There was something about him when he was quiet, mind brimming with facts, with truths that could shatter the world that was so terrifying and exhilarating and she often found herself lost in thoughts of him, spaced out looking at the arch of his brow and the slope of his nose and the pucker of his lips.

"Is there something on my face?" He asked, azure eyes peeking up at her with a rare tentativeness. Yes, he was always wary around her these days, like he was too scared she'd up and leave at the mildest inconvenience.

Although she felt her cheeks heating, she met his gaze resolutely. "No... I'm just thinking, sorry I spaced out."

"About?" He prompted, setting his pen down and turning the full powerful attention of his gaze on her; a pleasant contrast of stumbling heartbeats and warmth invaded her.

Ran hesitated for a moment before she got to her feet and scooted onto the space next to him on the couch. He reacted instinctively, reaching to wrap an arm around her shoulders and it was—silly. It was silly how her heart jumped to lodge in her throat at that simple action but having Shinichi back didn't mean she ever stopped craving his company or his proximity.

 

They were taking it very slow but sometimes the rapid staccato beat of her heart warned her that even little is too much and she was doomed from the start.

 

"I'm… I was just thinking," she began slowly, relaxing into the comfort of having him this close— but she couldn't say it. She couldn't tell him how sometimes his eyes seemed weary, how he never seemed to truly relax, how he always carried around a string of paranoia in public…. "and I've missed you." She finished quietly, and hoped she wasn't tomato red.

She watched the way his pupils seemed to dilate and the faintest colour tinged his cheeks and wished she could sink into him and never leave. And then he smiled, an upward curl to his mouth that was so endearing and he reached with the hand around her shoulder to stroke her cheek with his thumb, something affectionate and secret in those blue eyes. "I've missed you too."

He didn't hesitate anymore; he didn't trip over his own words or stammer embarrassedly through a confession and she wondered what changed. If somehow their new relationship status gave him the confidence he needed to truly pursue her.

Heat curled in her stomach as she felt his mouth on her cheek, a loving peck that barely lasted a few seconds but left an afterfeel that blazed through her skin and shot down her spine. It wasn't the kisses that got to her sometimes, but all the things locked away behind his teeth. All the implications behind each gesture—the knowledge that he loved her, that he had risked everything for her including losing her too with the mountain of lies he built trying to keep her safe.

Sometimes that knowledge is what threatened to consume her. There was just something about loving and being loved in return that was so powerful it made her knees tremble.

Ran couldn't quite resist turning her face just as he began to pull away. Their noses brushed, and he paused mid-motion, eyes widening slightly.

But then they clouded over with something, his eyelids lowering over glittering eyes as his sight fell on her lips, intentions all too clear. Her heartbeat skyrocketed, an involuntary reaction but Ran didn't move, making her own desires just as clear.

Two months of having him back and she hadn't had the guts to kiss him. But now the want was all-consuming and something about his half-lidded eyes and his minty breath ghosting along her jaw was intoxicating.

Shinichi's voice was hoarse as he spoke, thick. "Hey, Ran?"

Ran's voice wobbled as she replied, "Yes, Shinichi?"

He swallowed, his adam's apple bobbing, his tongue quickly darting out over dry lips. "...I'm going to kiss you."

A barely-suppressed shudder ran through her spine and her eyes fluttered shut against the sensation of her heart trying to jump out of her ribcage. "Okay…" she whispered, swallowed and kept her eyes shut.

He only had to close the scant inches between them and he was already so close her nerve-ends sparkled dangerously in reaction and then—

—Something soft and tentative, like the petals of a flower, touched against her lips and pressed. Ran let out a sudden sharp exhale through her nose, because she felt that everywhere, like he had lit her on fire with that gentle pressure.

His lips parted against her own, experimentally, shyly, one large palm framing her cheek and a small whimper helplessly escaped her only to be swallowed by his mouth on hers. Ran found her lips moving against his own without much thought, the motion coming naturally. But then something slick darted over her lips and it blazed tingles in its wake and suddenly that gentle warmth in her chest exploded into an inferno and it was like everything she felt for him that she had repressed for so long came bursting right through.

Ran threw her arms around him and pulled him into her, marvelling at the sensation of having him, like this, that he was hers, and let her kiss do all the talking, all the leftover confessions, sharing all the undeniable longing and honest, damning love she had for him. Because she knew, she knew as she knew the sun will continue to rise every day that he was it for her, forever. That he was all she wanted, every day, every night, in his highs and lows, and all the inbetweens and all the secrets he kept between them.

"Shinichi," she gasped into his mouth, fingers lost in his hair as she tried to anchor herself, her forehead pressing against his. "W-wow, I'm…"

She breathed, kissed him again because the taste of him was addicting, and pressed her fingers in his scalp as she resurfaced once more. "I…" she let out a shaky exhale. "I love you."

A thumb swiped over her lower lip, his features cloudy, but his eyes so intense, so intense she thought she might disintegrate, or drown. Suddenly both of his palms were cupping her jaw, swiping her hair back at the nape.

He took an anchoring breath and let it out slowly, "I don't deserve you." he said, instead of the confession she thought was coming, voice rough from their kiss and she searched those blue eyes for answers.

His thumb fluttered over her jaw again, the tender motion making her eyes flutter shut again. "Don't say that."

"No, really. I don't," he murmured, his breath so tantalisingly hot over her chin, "but I've always… I've always been selfish when it came to you. So I'll take everything you give me. For as long as you give it to me. And I'll be happy with it, Ran."

Now her fingers were digging in his shoulders and she felt her eyes stinging so she kept them stubbornly shut. "You're an idiot." her voice wobbled ever so slightly. "You know that right?"

He didn't answer her, instead he pressed their mouths together again in a dance that was becoming rapidly consuming. And Ran couldn't pull away, didn't want to, not even when he maneuvered her over so that she sat in his lap and not even when his notebooks scattered all over the ground and he tangled all ten fingers in her hair and tugged until she broke contact with a small gasp and his lips descended the column of her throat; scalding kisses that dragged like fire over her skin, lips that moved with reverence, worshipping.

And then four little words whispered into her skin, nestled in the crook beneath her ear, settled like a blanket over her and Ran thought she finally had everything she needed.