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Too Much Astounded

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When Ranpo receives a challenge from one of the members of the Guild, Yosano is the first to volunteer to go with him. Oda is the second.

Ranpo, who had grudgingly accepted Yosano’s assistance in case he was physically injured, scowls at Oda. “I don’t need a bodyguard.”

“I know,” Oda says. “I’d still like to come along.”

Oda’s simple response only makes Ranpo grumpier. “You’re acting like I’ll lose to some half-boiled detective.”

“I know you won’t,” Oda replies, with complete honesty. “I want to be there to see you win.”

After that, Ranpo agrees to let Oda come with him to the challenge.

Oda’s quiet during Ranpo and Poe’s supposed reunion. He needs no encouragement to start peering over Ranpo’s shoulder to read along with him.

After Poe’s ability takes hold and transports them all inside his novel, Oda has one comment, more disappointed than worried. “…I wanted to read the book.”

He doesn’t have much to contribute: he knows as well as Yosano does, if not better, that it’s impossible to convince Ranpo that he doesn’t have an Ability. He’s not as smart as Yosano is, much less Ranpo when he’s trying to solve a mystery, and all he can manage is to grip Ranpo’s shoulder while Ranpo’s holding the dying Yosano in his arms.

They would have been fine without him.

Oda does linger a little after Ranpo leaves, just to mention one last thing. “Thank you for writing that novel in Japanese, even if I didn’t get to read much of it.”

Poe seems like he’s still in shock from being acknowledged by his rival, so Oda leaves before Poe can give him an answer.

Oda’s not really a party person. That said, defeating the Guild is worthy of a celebration, and he knows that.

Plus, some of his kids really like parties, and they’re old enough to attend parties with the grown-ups. Kousuke is only a year younger than Kenji and Kyouka, and Sakura likes talking to Naomi and Haruno even if she doesn’t always follow the conversation.

Shinji’s not much for parties and stays in his room. Oda’d like to stay in his room too, but it’d be wrong for his kids to be here without him there. So he sits on the couch that’s furthest in the corner with a copy of “The Cask of Amontillado” and a glass of punch, and blocks out almost everything that isn’t the story he’s reading.

Almost everything, because even Oda can’t ignore when someone approaches him. “Excuse me, is there room… here…”

It’s Poe, whose face is bright red, at least where it’s visible underneath his hair.

Wordlessly, Oda slides over to make room on the couch for him.

“Thank you.” Poe takes a seat. He glances over to Oda, then to the book he’s holding, then away. Repeat a few times until he finally asks, “What do you think of it?”

“I enjoyed it. This is my second reread.” Oda turns to face Poe directly, to better hold a conversation over one of the subjects he’s most invested in. “The number of times that Montressor tells Fortunato to turn back out of concern for his health when he’s bringing him further into the catacombs to kill him is particularly interesting. Did you mean for that to tie in with Montressor’s making sure Fortunato has no reason to suspect he wants him dead?”

“Oh, you noticed that! Actually, it’s also tied in with…”

Oda has no idea how long he and Poe spend talking about Poe’s writing. It could have been a few minutes or a few hours. The conversation is as much a separate world for him as the ones Poe’s ability creates, and what draws him back into the real world is Ranpo plopping down between them.

Poe flusters instantly. “Oh - Ranpo, I’m…”

“You were supposed to wait for me!” Ranpo is in prime sulk mode. “I’m the one who invited you, it’s rude to just ignore me for someone else!”

Ranpo isn’t really one to talk about rudeness, but Oda doesn’t say that out loud. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault for distracting him.” And since Ranpo is liable to be grumpy for the rest of the night otherwise, Oda pats him on the head. It’s a weakness of Ranpo’s Oda doesn’t often exploit, in case it loses its effectiveness over time.

With his weakness under attack, Ranpo’s defenses crumble, and his sulking turns into an expression like a contented cat. “Wellll, as long as you admit you’re in the wrong and you don’t ignore me again, I’ll forgive you.”

Poe breathes out a sigh of relief. With the faintest hint of a smile, he asks, “Would both of you like to read my latest mystery?”