Disclaimer: I don't own the DCMK characters.
Diamonds in the Rain
It was fascinating, Shinichi thought, that there were entire plazas dedicated just to allowing people to take a break from their road trips and relax or grab a bite to eat. Ran called them 'rest areas', which he supposed made sense. It was just…odd in a kind of sensible way.
"I wonder what it's like to be so captivated by such normal things," Hakuba mused as he sat beside Ran on one of the benches by the parking lot and watched the oracle wandering from corner to corner of the mismatched convenience stores and eateries accompanied by Kaito, who had made it a personal goal to eat an ice cream at every stop despite the chilly weather.
"It's not normal to them," the brunette pointed out before smiling. "I think we could learn from them though. I mean, looking at them… It just makes me think, people don't appreciate what they have nearly often enough."
The blonde turned to her in some surprise before glancing down at the thermos of tea in his hands. "I suppose that's true enough."
"It'll be their first time celebrating Christmas," Ran continued, eyes growing determined. She was going to do her best to make sure it was a good experience.
Saguru was giving her a thoughtful look but all he said was, "We should get going. If we spend this much time at every rest stop we're not going to get there until tomorrow, and I for one do not find the idea of camping in the car overnight to be very appealing."
The Suzukis' vacation home sat in the mountains far enough from the nearest town to feel like it was in the middle of nowhere. This meant that each of the two cars had been assigned a different batch of supplies to either bring or procure before heading up the final trail to said house. So it was that they were loading a few extra bags of food and other necessities onto the car when it began to snow again.
A chill that had nothing to do with the cold slithered down Shinichi's spine and he turned around quickly. For an instant the world turned white. Cold and white and burning in only the way cold could.
Then he was looking at the innocuous street again as tiny, harmless flakes drifted down from the sky.
But the unnatural cold was still there, clinging to his senses like oil.
He turned to find the others all watching him. Hakuba and Ran looked confused. Kaito just looked worried (or at least he did to Shinichi. To most everyone else he would probably have just looked mildly curious).
He offered them all a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry, I was just thinking. Are we leaving then?"
"Yep, we've got everything we need. You two might have to squeeze in a bit," Ran said apologetically as she turned back to the car. "We ran out of space in the trunk."
"It's okay, we don't mind sharing space with the luggage," Kaito assured her.
Soon they were all back in the car. Shinichi was glad that they didn't ask anymore questions, though Kaito was still giving him that look.
"It was nothing," he said quietly as the car pulled out of the parking lot. "It was just a flash. I think maybe we're going to have heavy snows soon. I don't think it's anything to worry about."
Kaito studied his face for several moments before nodding and wrapping an arm around his waist. "As long as you're sure. Just promise you'll tell me if you think it might be more."
"I will," Shinichi promised. Closing his eyes, he curled closer to Kaito's side, burying his face in the magician's shoulder and focusing on the warmth he offered. Finally the chill began to melt away.
They arrived at the house to find that the others were already there. They had already aired out the rooms and prepared them for residence. Now they pitched in to help unload the rest of their supplies.
"There aren't enough rooms for everyone to have their own," Sonoko announced as she led them around the house and pointed out where they should each put their personal belongings. "Most of the rooms have two beds since we furnished for guests."
"Why do I have to room with him?" Hattori complained when she directed Hakuba to place his luggage into the room where the dark-skinned detective had already placed his own.
"Because they're obviously not splitting up," she replied, jerking her thumb at the room across the hall where the open door gave them a pretty good view of Kaito pulling clothes out of a pack and handing them to Shinichi who was placing them into the closet. "And when we drew straws Makoto drew the single room for you guys. So deal."
"If it makes you feel any better," the blonde in question said dryly. "I too would have preferred any other arrangement."
Heiji bristled and Sonoko rolled her eyes. Honestly, boys could be so immature. "When you guys are done, Kazuha brought takeout. We're eating in the living room since it has the best view."
Resigned to his fate, Heiji trudged back into the room to finish the last of his unpacking. He was just placing the three books he'd brought with him onto the room's small shelf with the seven Hakuba had brought when he realized that the guide book he was holding was the same volume sitting on the far left of the blonde's. He stared at it a moment then put his copy back into his pack. The last thing he wanted was to be reminded every time he saw the shelf that they had anything at all in common.
Hakuba, who had happened to glance over the other detective's shoulder in time to see the two identical titles, chose not to comment.
The view from the living room really was amazing. The windows in the room were massive affairs that occupied almost the entirety of the front wall. They looked out onto rolling slopes of snow that descended towards the valley below. Dark, green fir trees caked with snow rose to either side to go marching down the slopes where they spread out in a green and white carpet. In the distance other snow coated slopes painted gray and purple mists on the horizons. It might have felt a little hemmed in if the other cliffs hadn't been so far away, but as it was the sight spoke of all the grandeur of the mountains.
"It's even better when there's more daylight," Sonoko explained.
"I can't wait to see it," Kazuha replied, setting her empty plate down and standing up. "I'll make hot chocolate. Does everyone want one?"
Murmurs of ascent filled the room and Ran and Makoto offered to help. The three disappeared into the kitchen.
Shinichi cleared his throat once they'd left, turning questioning eyes to the people remaining. "We were wondering, the invitation said something about a game called White Elephant. Could someone explain the rules? We've never heard of it before."
"It is a fairly simple game," Hakuba began. "The idea is that each of us will procure one present and package it so that it cannot be easily identified. Then on the day of the game—in this case, Christmas Eve—all the presents will be placed together. No one but you are allowed to know what you have wrapped. At that point, we will determine a choosing order, most likely by drawing lots."
"God you make it sound so boring," Heiji interjected before the blonde could finish.
Hakuba shot him a glare. "I am simply explaining the game."
"Yeah, but you make it sound like a—a—I don't know, like a school assignment."
"So how would you propose to explain it instead?" the blonde shot back, eyes narrowing.
"Like this." Heiji turned to the two transfer students. "Okay, so basically everyone brings a present—a general one that could be for anyone—and we put 'em together. Then we take turns picking from the pile. The thing is, if, say, the second person to choose likes what the first person got, they can choose to steal it instead of picking one of the unknown presents, then the first person chooses a new one to open. Or, if there's someone else already with a present, they can steal that instead—though they can't take it from the person who just took from them. Each present can only be stolen a certain number of times though."
"So this is a Christmas game?"
"Mostly," Hakuba agreed. "Although it is sometimes played on other occasions such as during weddings or simply as a party game."
"We decided to play it since we're not doing Christmas gifts," Sonoko added.
Almost like it had been timed, Makoto reappeared in the living room just as the explanation came to an end. "Chocolate's ready!"
Mugs were passed around the room before Sonoko produced a collection of cardboard boxes of varying sizes from underneath the coffee table. "So now that we've got drinks, who wants to play a game?"
The rest of the evening was spent playing card games. Shinichi volunteered to clean up their plates before settling down to watch. He'd decided not to play himself since it was too hard not to know exactly which cards were going to turn up next in everyone's hands. Instead he made himself comfortable on the couch next to Kaito with a mug full of hot chocolate. The games faded into a surreal blur. He vaguely recalled hearing someone ask Kaito how it was that he was winning every game before he drifted into sleep.
He dreamed of a figure white as new fallen snow. In its hands it held a clear, glass orb. And when he looked into the orb he saw the mountains and the town cradled in the valley. He even saw the Suzukis' vacation home.
Then everything turned white.
Outside, the snow began to fall.
A.N: Er, bit of a short chapter. ^.^ The next one should be longer. Oh, and I don't know what the Halloween incident is. I haven't written it yet, hehe. Anyhow, see you next week!