It’s a supremely terrible idea, which means that everyone is on board with it.
Dazai makes a couple of complaints, which is par for the course, and he flops about like a gutted fish on his favorite couch as he whines about ‘not feeling up to it’ and ‘this is the worst day in years’. Of course, Dazai’s been through the ringer multiple times during the past year, not to mention being imprisoned for a good couple of weeks, so he’s obviously exaggerating. And obviously excited about causing mayhem. He couldn’t stop grinning, after all.
It actually starts like this: they learn that Dostoevsky isn’t actually the worst threat they have to deal with, so the Armed Detective Agency, the Port Mafia, and the two factions of the Guild have pledged to work together to eradicate the Greater Evil™.
…Of course, given that there are actual toddlers in the three Ability-User organizations, any strategy meetings or training camps or any activity that can remotely up their chances of improving teamwork—well. The less said about the destructive aftermath, the better. Kunikida’s been driven to swallowing ten antacid pills every four hours and even Hirotsu is unable to maintain his placid demeanor—which is saying something, as the two of them are very well-versed with dealing with screaming, whining children for coworkers, for years.
The Special Abilities Division makes the mistake of attempting to babysit the training activities and the one time when a car flew to the fifth floor building only to land a hair’s breadth away from taking Sakaguchi out… it’s one time too many.
And that’s when the most terrible idea is born.
It’s even worse than when Kouyou suggested that Akutagawa and Atsushi spend an entire day wearing women’s kimono, in what is ostensibly a homage to the tradition of making young boys stronger by dressing them up in girls’ clothing. (It actually is because Kouyou isn’t feeling so magnanimous after a training-gone-wrong ends up with the two squabbling about in her tea room and breaking a prized tea set, but nobody dared to bring that up.)
It’s even worse than when Fitzgerald volunteered their Spartan training system, which is basically having people be wrapped up in Lovecraft’s tentacles and they need to escape through all means necessary. Especially since Lovecraft has a very avid desire to nap, all day long. In the middle of the ocean. Needless to say, Tanizaki still feels ill whenever he spots a body of water.
It’s even worse than when Fukuzawa invited everyone to bond by spending time in a cat café. The cats were beyond wonderful. Which posed the problem, because everyone is finding it very difficult to scrub out the image of hardened killers cooing at cats, especially when Mori himself brought catnip and—no, abort, abort.
It’s really, really terrible.
“The Mori Corporation will hold a banquet,” Mori says serenely. The effect is ruined by the bubblegum pink dye on his hair, courtesy of Elise pelting ball-dyes at everyone, because they’re all being so boring when they can just eat cake with her instead. There’s also actual bubblegum on his hair and everyone eyes Dazai surreptitiously as the culprit behind it. “We’ll eat and be merry, and have games to foster camaraderie.”
Hirotsu sighs. Mori Corporation parties are known for three things:
(1) free-flow of shady deals,
(2) copious amounts of food and alcohol,
(3) and during the Reign of Terror™ (also known as: soukoku’s hormonal, emotionally-constipated, relentless sexual tension teenage years), Absolute Mayhem.
Of course, said mayhem could be traced to the first two things, because (a) when has Dazai not ever been involved in anything shady?, (b) Dazai once tried to commit suicide by stomach bloating and indigestion, and oh, Chuuya didn’t enjoy that one bit, especially since he had to bring Dazai to a hospital and he apparently had to pretend to be an ojou-sama who is worried about her boyfriend getting food poisoning. Really, everyone in the Port Mafia has the full details on that night, courtesy of Dazai who’s very vocal in holding court and regaling them with the play-by-play account of how Chuuya looked so stressed looking after him. They all have the highly-detailed and mostly-unnecessary account, so they all know that those two are hopeless, emotionally-constipated idiots.
The free-flow of Mori Corporation’s business partners also mean that everyone is required to wear formal clothing and they’ve all discovered that if there’s one thing more insufferable about oblivious teenagers? It’s having to deal with oblivious teenagers who are finding the most terrible and unsubtle of opportunities to ruin each other’s suits. The dry-cleaning bill are always so abysmal and Hirotsu can feel his stomach churning at the recollection.
In any case, there’s one saving grace amongst all of these.
“We won’t insist on a formal black-tie dress code,” Mori says with a haughty sneer. You probably can’t afford it, is directed non-verbally to everyone in the room, except for the Port Mafia members and Fitzgerald.
When Mori says ‘games to foster camaraderie’, he actually only means one thing.
It actually starts out quite peacefully.
The Agency goes first.
Ranpo doesn’t even need look at the paper on his hand. He simply points to himself.
His charades partner, Poe, is quick to say, “A great genius!”
Ranpo points to himself again.
“The best detective!”
“Looks good with glasses!”
“Is a very kind person!”
“M-My most favorite,” Poe says shyly.
“Two minutes is up!” Higuchi, who is assigned to tally their scores, frowns. “This is supposed to be the easy round but you guys didn’t score anything. How hard is it to guess ‘Yokohama’, really…”
Kunikida can only face-palm in the background, muttering about how he shouldn’t have trusted it when Ranpo volunteered to go first, it’s only because he wanted to be praised in public, why is nobody taking this seriously?
Steinbeck makes a series of animated gestures.
Another set of gestures.
“…my shoulder hurts…”
Steinbeck sighs, then moves to massage said shoulders.
Tsujimura, who’s the one assigned to tally this group’s scores, stage-whispers to the person beside her. “They do know how charades work, right?”
Yosano grins. “I could try healing that guy’s shoulders, see how my Ability would fare.”
For the rest of the evening, Tsujimura wisely avoids mentioning about her constant back pains.
Atsushi points at Kyouka.
“Strength powerful enough to overcome her past.”
Atsushi’s face contorts into something that looks like a cross between a grimace and lovestruck goofiness. He points at Kyouka again.
“…leaving behind the darkness to pursue the light… heh, a brave decision.”
Kyouka blinks and bites into her crepe. Kouyou’s adamant in ensuring that there’s at least fifteen varieties of crepe for today’s party and Kyouka is happily enjoying the fruits of her labor.
Atsushi nearly collapses on the ground as he keeps on pointing to Kyouka.
“Someone who has Ozaki-san’s favor.”
“Time’s up,” Chuuya says with a roll of his eyes, before flicking his hands so he can use gravity to drag Akutagawa back from trying to strangle Atsushi for their group’s failure to score anything. For his part, Atsushi tries to be doing his damnedest to climb Akutagawa like a tree, because as a goody-goody two-shoes, he’s apparently turned on by his love interest having (relatively) nice words to say about his friend. Weirdo. “It’s your fault for being too dramatic, the word you’re supposed to guess is a ‘young woman’.”
Higuchi wails in the background as to why the Agency’s man-tiger didn’t point to her instead, wails about getting robbed of the chance to hear what her senpai thinks of her.
Afterwards, Atsushi has to dodge glares (from Lucy) and eerily glinting knives (from Yosano).
In the background, Dazai spikes the food with sprinkles of paprika, handfuls of salt added to various juices.
Lucy and Kyouka actually form quite a formidable team.
…in a way.
Kyouka points to the top of Atsushi’s head.
Kyouka then points to the side of Atsushi’s cheek.
Kyouka points to Atsushi’s mouth.
Then another point to Atsushi’s mouth.
“A glutton!” Ding.
The direction changes to Atsushi’s shirt.
Since the people before them are mostly failures, they are currently leading.
Atsushi can only mourn in the background, “Kyouka-chan, isn’t that too mean?”
Akutagawa, still incensed over their previous failure (and more importantly, having escaped from Chuuya’s gravity control, because Chuuya is now busy slapping Dazai’s arm whenever the other tries to mess around with the food), simply sniffs.
“You deserve to be called a messy glutton fool, jinko.”
(Afterwards, Kouyou joins the ‘Women Glaring at Atsushi Club’, because having Kyouka be so knowledgeable about Atsushi doesn’t sit well with her.)
The group for Kouyou and Hirotsu scores quite well, tied with the Kyouka-Lucy pair. Hirotsu suspects that Kouyou planned it that way.
Higuchi-Akutagawa is expected by everyone to do well, but Higuchi ends up sobbing like a madman after she guesses the first correct item (figs), so two minutes is easily consumed with her tears.
Chuuya-Elise takes the stage and easily makes everyone else question as to why a Port Mafia Executive is so well-versed with clothing brands, amusement parks and desserts and Crayola color names. (Mori complains in the background about not being allowed to pair up with Elise, but as always, Elise ignores him.)
Fukuzawa and Kunikida do reasonably well, even if Kunikida nearly breaks down in the middle of it when he took a lot of time trying to enumerate different cat species.
Fitzgerald declines to join a game for plebeians and Steinbeck makes sure to rib him about it. Alcott has to make peace between them, which nearly ends in a minor disaster.
The Tanizaki Siblings has to forfeit, because Naomi’s idea of silence is running her hands all over her brother’s stomach under his shirt. Kunikida apologizes for his coworkers’ lack of dignity. Tanizaki and Kenji pair up instead and is able to rescue a little bit of points.
The Akutagawa Siblings has a fairly high score too, but nobody can remember watching them. Such is the way of the ninja.
Ango looks at the scores. And sighs.
“We’re all doomed, aren’t we?”
So, they try to lessen the difficulty. Maybe wordless communication is too much to ask?
“Second drawer,” Mori drawls.
“It’s actually ‘stomach medicine’,” Mori corrects his ‘old friend’. “I don’t always keep my poison in predictable places, after all.”
Fukuzawa is actually smiling when he says, “Just get on with it,” and the Agency starts to wonder about many, many things, especially that Catnip Incident and the Oddly Expensive Scarf Incident.
Fukuzawa is quick to say, “Cat park.” Ding.
“Middle of the back.” Ding.
“Fukuzawa-dono, your memories are failing you, hmm? You used your sheath to dispose of the gang in Shinjuku, not Kabuki-cho.”
“I did it both in Shinjuku and Kabuki-cho.” Fukuzawa narrows his eyes. “The incident in Shinjuku was more than ten years ago, wasn’t it?”
Fukuzawa inclines his head as a response.
“Tasteless,” Mori says with a knife-sharp grin.
“Cooperation,” Fukuzawa fires back. Ding.
Everyone—except for a select few—can only gape as they watch the two leaders of opposing factions.
Kouyou can only shake her head. “Our Boss is so embarrassing.”
Yosano pats her arm gently and doesn’t remove said arm when Kouyou doesn’t remove it via a sword. “Don’t worry, our President is also being quite embarrassing right now.”
(While all this is happening, Dazai blows peas and other bite-sized foods towards Mori. Kunikida dry-swallows five antacid pills in one go. Kunikida attempts to send Dazai to a time-out corner—but then he sees Chuuya and gets a terrible, wonderful idea.)
“Join the charades,” Kunikida says imperiously, and points towards Chuuya. “With him.”
Dazai only lets out five complaints, which, really, should have been enough of a warning sign.
“Number five on your bucketlist.”
“Hot air balloon.” Ding.
“What you cooked last weekend.”
“Beef sukiyaki. Damn it, I knew it was you who stole it from my fridge!” Ding.
(“I’m going to gag,” Ranpo says, as Dazai’s smile grows bigger and sappier, as Chuuya ends up answering within less than two seconds.
“I think it’s really sweet,” Poe replies with a small twinge of jealousy, because this is surely at the pinnacle of mind reading.)
“Your hobby when we’re sixteen.”
“The number of tacky socks you own.”
“Twenty-five and they’re not tacky!” Ding.
“That time when I crashed the car.”
“Twister fries.” Ding.
“The game I played last Tuesday.”
“Civilizations VI.” Ding.
(“Should we be worried about a security breach in the Agency dorm?” Atsushi asks faintly.
“Dazai-san did not necessarily have to be in the dorm to play that game,” Kyouka answers and Atsushi feels his brain freeze at the implications. Because! He trusted Dazai and Chuuya when they assured him that they hated each other in the same way he hated Akutagawa! It’s apparently filled with innuendo! He feels betrayed by the world.)
“Number of phones you have.”
“The thing you always forget to buy.”
“Cornstarch. Fuck I forgot to buy it earlier!” Ding.
“Best instant ramen.”
(“Are they going to kiss?!” Higuchi hisses, because time is up and Dazai and Chuuya are staring intensely at each other, making the room feel like it needs more airconditioning. “Oh my God, what a time to be alive.”)
(Kouyou, on the other hand, places a hand over her forehead, massaging her temples. She can’t believe that Chuuya actually eats instant ramen often enough that he has a favorite. Dazai clearly is a bad influence.)
(Ango, because he knows that Dazai is the type who’d cheat on something like this if only to traumatize onlookers, stealthily tries to hack into the surveillance system he’s attached to this room. And promptly receives a Morse Code from Dazai’s heartbeats:
... - --- .--. / - .-. -.-- .. -. --. / - --- / . .- ...- . ... -.. .-. --- .--. / --- -. / -- -.-- / .... . .- .-. - -....- - --- -....- .... . .- .-. - / .-- .. - .... / -.-. .... ..- ..- -.-- .- .-.-.-
Translated: Stop trying to eavesdrop on my heart-to-heart with Chuuya.
Because they’re all (secretly) masochists, they dare Dazai and Chuuya to do the wordless version.
Dazai only complains three times, which should have been another glaring sign that they’re all about to sorely regret waking up this morning and agreeing to this party.
They all pool together, sans Dazai and Chuuya, to think up difficult words.
Ango doesn’t bother telling them that there’s no way they can defeat soukoku—not when Dazai can manipulate his heartbeat to do Morse Codes, on top of Chuuya being so attuned to Dazai’s heartbeat that he can interpret it without the need for surveillance devices. Ango chalks it up to Chuuya being Arahabaki’s vessel and is therefore capable of ridiculous things—because the alternative is that Chuuya is just that synchronized with Dazai and that is a fate too cruel to wish on anyone.
Nobody who’s witnessed soukoku’s teenage years try to stop them—because soukoku is the reigning King of party games. On the contrary, Kouyou and Hirotsu are more than satisfied with adding embarrassing words (e.g. compassion, cuddling, body warmth, Eskimo kiss) for Dazai to guess.
Ranpo busies himself with gorging on candy, because he doesn’t need to use Ultra Deduction to know how this one will end.
Atsushi uses Wikipedia’s Random Page Generator in an effort to bypass soukoku.
Mori watches the proceedings and thinks that surely, it’s a matter of time until Dazai realizes that he misses being part of the Port Mafia. Fufufu, this is all according to plan.
From the other room, supposedly waiting for their next challenge, Dazai and Chuuya are… occupied. With a fairly-controlled food fight. Which involves Dazai smearing his mouth with cake frosting and licking it off very lasciviously. Which involves Chuuya countering by fellating a limp spaghetti noodle and laughing at Dazai’s affronted look.
Chuuya raises his left eyebrow.
“Atlantic Ocean.” Ding.
Chuuya raises his left eyebrow by two millimeters further.
“Hundred Years War.” Ding.
A slow blink.
“Yamashita Park.” Ding.
(Kunikida despairs as he tallies yet another correct answer. “Just how are they doing this.”)
Then, Chuuya looks at the next word, and snarls as he clenches the paper, making to lunge and strangle Dazai.
Dazai grins as he dances away from the murder attempt. “Anton van Leeuwenhoek.” Ding.
(Lucy tugs at her braids as she sees the odd couple rack up points, frustrated and awed in equal measures. “What is wrong with Japan.”
“It’s just them,” Kyouka says quietly. “Japan is a very good country otherwise.”)
A roll of eyes.
A twirl of fingers.
A very, very slight shift in stance.
(Akutagawa looks enraptured. And then he glares at Atsushi. “We’re going to achieve that level, jinko.”
Atsushi suddenly looks like Christmas has arrived early. It’s the day when he gets lots of chazuke coupons, after all. “I-I-I feel the same way too. About you.”
“And then Dazai-san will be proud of me.”
Chuuya bites the side of his upper lip.
A lopsided shrug.
A purse of lips.
“Young coconuts.” Ding.
Chuuya breathes again, which is somehow supposed to be different from the way he’s been breathing before? Nobody is sure. Nobody, aside from Dazai, that is.
“Egon Muller-Scharzhof Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese.” Ding.
(Kunikida shakes his head in abject disbelief. “Now they’re just showing off. How even—?”
Kouyou mutters, “This isn’t even the worst they could do.”
Everyone from the Port Mafia shudders in joint recollection and everyone else wisely avoids asking for details.)
Of course soukoku wins the charades. Everyone considers themselves lucky that there is minimal property damage, unless one counts trauma. And some sort of jealousy about such a… relationship. And maybe some sort of despair, because having soukoku as a #RelationshipGoal is nice and all, until one realizes that they’re placing Dazai Osamu as one-half of a couple for a relationship goal.
Ango looks at the landslide score of soukoku and submits his recommendation to the Japanese government.
Send soukoku to fight off the new threat. Everyone else will be back-up.
That seems like the wisest course of action.
“It’s very disgusting to read chibikko’s mind,” Dazai complains.
Chuuya fires back, “It’s even more disgusting trying to read yours.”
Thankfully for their denials, everyone else is passed out from too much food/alcohol/trying to forget how their asses got kicked by soukoku in charades.
After all, with the way they’re smiling at each other and holding each other’s hands, it’s more than obvious how they really feel.