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life's like an hourglass, glued to the table

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It's 2 am when Ranpo wakes up craving banana s'mores ice cream. It's a strangely specific craving, but last month Dazai had given him a pint as a joke, thinking it to be a disgusting flavor of ice cream. Ranpo had ended up loving it, which made Dazai recoil in horror and whisper , "Banana s'mores," every time he saw Ranpo for several days after.

Is it worth it to get up and get some ice cream? No, wait. He'd eaten the last of his stash yesterday. If he wanted banana s'mores ice cream, he'd have to get up, get dressed, get money, go to the store--wait. Figure out how to get to the store first. Then get to the store, then get the ice cream, then pay for the ice cream, then find his way back home, then eat the ice cream. And they only sell banana s'mores ice cream in pint sizes, so he'd have to get more than one, which is a lot more work. Then he probably wouldn't get any more sleep. Is it worth it?

In the end, it's ice cream, and ice cream is always worth it.

Ranpo crawls out of bed and slides on his penguin slippers. He looks down at his fuzzy purple pajama pants, covered in pandas, and his The ADA will kick your ass! shirt that Yosano had made him for his birthday last year. He doesn't need to change. He's already at the height of fashion.

Two steps down! Next: get money. Money, money, money. Where did he put his money?

Oh, right. His wallet is next to his house keys.

"How to get to the store, how to get to the store," Ranpo muses as he leaves the apartment building, then groans and throws his hands up in the air. "This is too much work." He collapses in a heap in the grass outside. If only there was someone who knew how to get to the elusive store, and wouldn't kill him for waking them up…

Wait.

"Atsushi!" he shouts gleefully. He could go back inside and knock on Atsushi's door, the long way. Or…

~~~

Climbing the fire escape is a lot of work, but still less work than going all the way back inside the building and up the stairs to Atsushi's room. Granted, the tiger child is only on the second floor, but that's a whole flight of stairs too many for Ranpo during the day, let alone at 2 am.

He goes to knock on Atsushi's window, only to realize that it's open. That seems dangerous, but Ranpo supposes the tiger child can hold his own in a fight. He climbs in the window, calling, "Atsushi! Atsushi, wake up!"

Lavender-gold eyes snap open, limbs immediately covered with fur and claws, and Ranpo realizes belatedly that it is dangerous, but not for Atsushi.

"Wait wait wait!!!" Ranpo backs towards the window again, hands raised. "It's me, The Great Ranpo. Your favorite superior! I have need of your assistance!"

"Ranpo-san?" Atsushi pauses. Cat-like pupils -- no, not cat- like , they are cat pupils -- return to human ones. "What are you doing here?"

"I have need of your assistance," Ranpo states, matter-of-factly, deigning to be annoyed that he has to repeat himself now that his life is no longer in danger. "Didn't you hear me?" That, of course, is when he notices the adorable assassin standing behind Atsushi, sword poised, demon ability behind her. "Uh. Hello, Kyouka-chan."

Kyouka merely stares at him, not moving an inch. She looks absolutely ready to end his life, should he so much as displease Atsushi. Not for the first time, Ranpo thinks they're a little like Yosano and himself.

"I--" the tiger child blinks. He really looks very young when he's just woken up. "What did you need help with?"

"I need help to get to the store!"

Atsushi squints. "What do you need from the store?"

Ranpo puts on his best please-help-me expression. "Banana s'mores ice cream."

Atsushi stares at Ranpo. Kyouka snorts--actually snorts , something he'd never thought an adorable child like her would do--and her ability disappears. She points her sword at Ranpo. "Bring him back in the exact condition you're taking him in." Then she marches back to her futon and is once again dead to the world.

Ranpo claps his hands together. "Alright then, let's go! Which way to the store, Atsushi?"

Atsushi stares at him for another ten seconds. Then he sighs and shakes his head, accepting his fate. "I'll get my shoes."

A few minutes later, they're both climbed down the fire escape and Atsushi, who hadn't bothered to change out of his old white T-shirt and equally old white pants and had simply shoved his feet into his little black boots without any socks, is leading the way to the convenience store, which is, thankfully, still open. As it turns out, it's not that far, and it's relatively easy to get to, but Ranpo has already decided that every time he needs to go somewhere late at night (or is it early in the morning?) he's going to get Atsushi to take him. It's too much work to remember on his own.

"Do you want anything from the store?" Ranpo asks as they walk in. The cashier is missing, but Ranpo doesn't dwell on that. Someone is yelling inside, words so slurred that they're nearly indecipherable, and someone else is coughing uncontrollably, but Ranpo decides that since he was also just yelling earlier, he can't judge. After all, if anything happens, he's got his own personal tiger child to protect him. Said tiger child shakes his head, then stops and considers.

"Kyouka might like it if I brought her some cake," he muses, and Ranpo hides a smile. Then Atsushi continues, "But since you're the one who woke her up at two in the morning, you should get it for her as an apology gift."

Ranpo gasps. "Apology gift? For gracing her with my presence? No such thing is needed!"

They reach the frozen goods section. Coincidentally, it's also the section where the yelling and coughing is taking place.

A tiny man with bright orange hair, incredibly small shorts, a pink jacket with rocket ships embroidered on it, and periwinkle (even Kunikida would know they're periwinkle, Ranpo doesn't associate with complete morons) crocs is screaming and waving his fine-looking fedora around. There is a tiara on his head, which is presumably why he's not wearing the fedora. The stones are big enough that most would assume it to be fake, but Ranpo knows just by looking at him that this man would rather die than wear fake diamonds. Facedown at his feet lays a coughing man of decent height, wrapped in a fluffy pink bathrobe covered in hearts. Ranpo rather likes it, and resolves to find matching ones like it for the Tanizaki siblings.

As Ranpo and Atsushi watch, frozen in the way one might be watching ice cream fall to the ground, the tiny orange man turns towards the pink coughing man and shouts, "Shut the hell your mouth, shitty Dazai! I don't wanna see your stupid face anymore!" and puts the fedora on the pink coughing man's head. The pink coughing man briefly stops coughing in favor of pulling the hat off and rolling onto his back. "You couldn't see my face in the first place."

The pink coughing man is clearly not Dazai, by the way Atsushi tenses up in recognition and whispers, "Akutagawa," but he seems to have long since given up telling the tiny orange man that. Which means the tiny orange man must be Chuuya Nakahara, Port Mafia executive and Dazai's former partner. Dazai is going to be furious that he missed this. Ranpo pulls out his phone and starts recording. Maybe he can exchange candy for a copy of the video.

Akutagawa tilts his head back to look at Atsushi, those poor excuses for bangs falling off his forehead. "Hello, jinko . Are we in your way?"

He looks so resigned to his fate that a less dramatic individual would laugh, but Atsushi, being the incredibly dramatic individual that he is, squints instead. "Why are you on the floor ?"

"I'm rolling on the floor laughing," Akutagawa says, absolutely no expression on his face. "I think the better question is: Why aren't you on the floor?" He squints at Ranpo. "Are the pandas on your pants saying hello?"

Ranpo looks down at his pants. The pandas are indeed saying hello. A few of them are waving. Still the weirdest gift he's ever gotten from Fukuzawa, but also the most comfortable.

"He's drunk," Ranpo decides to reveal to Atsushi, raising his voice to be heard over the screaming mafia executive. The tiger child whips his head around to stare at Ranpo. Then he looks back at Akutagawa.

"Oh my god," Atsushi realizes. "You're drunk. You're-" he points at the two of them. "You're both drunk."

Chuuya yanks open a freezer, seizes a wine bottle, pulls the cork out with his teeth, and chugs like his life depends on it. From the floor, Akutagawa calls, "I'm not paying for that."

Chuuya spits a mouthful of wine at Akutagawa, but the black dog of the mafia blocks it with the executive's hat. "That's why I brought you along, Dazai, to pay for my alcohol and chocolate. It's your reason for living and you should be grateful I've given you one."

Ranpo bites his thumb to keep from laughing. He wants to make sure all the sound gets picked up by the camera. At his side, Atsushi has disappeared. Probably off to get Ranpo's ice cream. What a good tiger child. Ranpo reminds himself to pat Atsushi on the head when he gets back.

"I have a reason to live," Akutagawa enunciates each word like he's a child reciting in front of the class. "I've got to beat that jinko ." A few aisles back, several things fall off the shelves. Definitely Atsushi. But that's not near the ice cream. He must be getting some snacks for Ranpo as well. What a wonderful tiger child! He deserves two pats.

"That's fucking dumb," Chuuya says matter-of-factly.

" Your reason to live is to kill Dazai," Akutagawa fires back. "S'not any better."

"Untrue!" Chuuya hollers, throwing his head back. "My reason to live is much better than that!"

"Oh yeah?" Akutagawa rolls his eyes. The insane murderous goth child rolls his eyes . This night literally cannot get any better. "What's that?"

" I am the sexiest motherfucker alive !" Chuuya shrieks. "If I die, the title passes on to someone else, and NO ONE will EVER be as worthy of it as I am!"

And right then Atsushi jumps up on top of a shelf, balances himself, and dumps a gallon of water on Chuuya's head.

It splashes everywhere, all over Akutagawa and his fluffy pink bathrobe, and on Ranpo's penguin slippers, sloshing all over the floor. Chuuya seems to be in a state of shock, one hand raised in the air dramatically, the other clutching his stolen bottle of wine. Akutagawa is apparently incapable of getting up, judging by the way he's rolling around laughing hysterically, working himself into a coughing fit. Atsushi is standing on the shelf which is somehow not tipping over under his weight, chest heaving, looking like a victorious shounen protagonist, probably thinking he's cured them of drunkenness. Ranpo is wheezing around his thumb, his entire body shaking, trying desperately to keep the camera steady. It's a beautiful tableau, frozen in time. It's the kind of thing Ranpo wants painted on his wall. He's going to screenshot this from the video and make it his lock screen.

Outside, there are sirens.

"I called the police," the helpful cashier announces from the storage room.

"Fuck!" Chuuya shouts, the spell broken. He grabs two more bottles from the freezer, smashes the open one on the floor and screeches, "SCATTER!"

Rashomon extends from the bathrobe and pushes Akutagawa up. Atsushi catapults towards the door. Ranpo fumbles to keep recording, thankful for the popping socket thingies that Kenji had given him so he could hold his phone better, and snatches a pint of banana s'mores ice cream from the freezer before following, laughing hysterically.

Chuuya is floating away, outlined in red and drinking wine, like some kind of Santa Claus. Akutagawa is on rooftops, flashes of pink giving away his location. Atsushi is--god, Ranpo thinks he might be Naruto-running. Akutagawa must've noticed this too, and is apparently horrified, because Rashomon grabs Ranpo and Atsushi both and yanks them into the shadows, a good distance from the store.

Akutagawa taps Atsushi's nose with his finger. "No," he says, clearly still somewhat drunk. Ranpo is so happy to still be recording. He's never going to let either of them live this down.

"FUCK THE POLICE!" Chuuya howls from somewhere above them, like the werewolf from that one movie with the glittery people that Naomi and Haruno like to cry over. It's a good thing they left Kyouka at home. Ranpo doesn't want her to be so close to the police after her last run-in with them while she was still with the mafia.

Speaking of other things he left at home, he has no spoon to eat his ice cream with.

He opens his mouth to tell Atsushi that they should head home so he can eat his ice cream before it melts, but Atsushi is entranced. Pink Rashomon is reaching out, slowly, tracing the apple of Atsushi's cheek. It's gentle, and sweet, and both Akutagawa and Atsushi are both looking at each other with a mixture of softness and confusion, and it's going to be the best blackmail of all time.

He tilts the camera up to the full moon that he assumes Chuuya is howling at and ends the recording. Atsushi is busy. Kyouka had said to get him home in the exact condition Ranpo had taken him in, and Ranpo would. Atsushi was dazed and confused when they left, and Atsushi shall be dazed and confused when they return. And they do need to return. But Ranpo really doesn't feel like risking life and limb to get in between the lovestruck tiger child and his currently drunk, besotted soon-to-be-lover.

"What to do, what to do…" he muses, tapping a finger to his lips.

Inspiration strikes.

"Hey, Siri," Ranpo says. "Facetime Dazai."