Atsushi had assumed it would be a normal day as far as normal days at the agency went. He and Kyoka had Okayu for breakfast, and it was only slightly charred! When they had gotten to the agency, they began to fill out their report on a case they had resolved the day prior. It had been a case of a pickpocket in Chinatown who had absconded: with thirty-three wallets over a week. It turned out that one of the vendors was collaborating with the criminal by keeping customers distracted while the pickpocket stole their money.
Kunikida was having an apoleptic fit over the amount of paperwork Dazai-san had left on his desk combined with the fact of Dazai not being in yet despite it already being past 10 O’Clock. Ranpo was sulking at his desk, as he ate mochi. He and Yosano had gotten in late last night from Fujisawa after solving a case that had been puzzling the local police. He was skimming through the paper, but based on his complaints, he probably hadn’t found anything worthwhile. As Kunikida got more worked up over the mess left to him, a woman walked into the agency. She had white hair even paler than his own in a half ponytail and red eyes. She was wearing a pretty blue dress that looked way too fancy for casual wear. Her face, though was odd, was utterly blank, something not typical in the detective agency for a potential client to have. She waited for someone to assist her, and Atsushi leaped up, hoping to get a break from the monotony of paperwork.
“Hello Miss, we are the Armed Detective Agency could we help you with something?” he greeted enthusiastically.
She nodded her head once and said, “Dazai.”
Kunikida upon hearing his wayward partner’s name, moved forward quicker than Atsushi could see, hands twitching, grousing “What did that idiot do now. If he asked another woman to commit suicide with him I am going to strangle him,”. He stepped in front of the lady and bowed slightly, bitting out “I have to apologize for Dazai’s conduct. If you would like to file a complaint please wait here.”
Her expression at that didn’t change the slightest. Instead, she shook her head no and said once again “Dazai.” Atsushi darted in before Kunikida could burst a vein, “if you’re waiting for Dazai Miss you can wait over here,” he gestured at the couch. She walked over and sat down. She did not move and if Atsushi hadn’t seen her blink he would have mistaken her for a statue. He went back to his work sneaking glances at her under the watchful eye of Kunikida. Why on earth was she looking for Dazai?
Naomi and Junichirou slid up beside him and Naomi whispered, “Do you think she’s his lover?”
Atsushi blushed, “Wha-what?! No way.”
“Yeah, she’s too old for him,” Kyoka chimes in.
Junichiro comments, “We could always ask Ranpo-san.”
At that moment Dazai walked in calling as he went, “ Greetings everyone! It’s a beautiful day for drowning.” He cuts off at the sight of the silver lady and his face freezes. The woman stood up and he whispered “Ane-san.”
Okay, Atsushi was not expecting that, and judging by the silence around him the others weren’t either. For one thing, she was a foreigner and didn’t have any Dazai-ish tendencies that he could see. Though she had been a little unnerving. He was surprised to hear the tenderness in his voice as well. Lost in his racing thoughts he missed as the lady, no Dazai’s sister, stood up and walked over to Dazai. She paused in front of him and then, shockingly enough, hugged him! Even Kunikida paused for a moment at that. And Dazai didn’t pull back or make a joke. Atsushi was surprised to see his mentor even lean in a little. He thought back but was pretty sure this was the first time he had ever seen Dazai have meaningful physical contact with another person. Dazai then proceeded to lead her to the couch he frequently slept on and sat down next to her - expression unchanging clasping her hand. Everyone saw that as a signal to go back to work, although he noted the rest -bar Kunikida- were casually eavesdropping, hoping to catch some ‘pertinent’ information. Yet neither spoke, they just gazed at the other’s expressionless face for what felt like an eternity but was probably closer to ten minutes. Just as Atsushi was getting back into the rhythm of doing paperwork, Dazai stood up, the lady following, and he walked to the door smiling, “Well, I think this calls for a celebration!” What qualified he didn’t say. Dazai opened the door for his senpai, yelled goodbye and left, leaving Kunikida spluttering about paperwork.
Hei was not freaking out. He was calm, very calm. Yin was somewhere, she just wasn’t in the hotel. He and Yin had checked in as a couple on their anniversary at a pet-friendly hotel in Yokohama where they suspected the defected Syndicate member was hiding out. Hei had gone out to scout, leaving Yin and Mao in the hotel to get situated. He had only been gone for an hour, yet came back to Mao sleeping and Yin gone. Normally this wouldn’t bother him as Yin, being a doll, was great at navigation and could blend in pretty well if needed, though most of the time she didn’t bother. However, they were in Yokohama, a gangster’s paradise that wasn’t known for being kind to contractors.
When he came back to Yin missing he asked Mao, "Where's Yin?”
“She was here half an hour ago. Likely she decided to take a walk. Hei, Yin is not a kid anymore- she won’t run headfirst into danger.”
“Well can you help me look for her? Normally her wandering would be fine but I don’t trust this city.”
Mao flicked his tail, “Alright Hei, I’ll wander the alleys if you want to look at the shops. It's possible something caught her interest and she went to check it out.”
He thanked Mao and left. Having wandered for two blocks he stumbled into a coffee shop. Realizing that he needed to stay calm, he ordered an iced coffee with lots of cream and sat down. He thought through it logically. Likely Yin had found something interesting and was fine. He had snapped unfairly at Mao earlier and it wasn’t fair of him to treat Yin like a child either. She was capable of looking after herself, it was just this city that made him nervous. When the red-haired waitress came by with his drink she asked him, “Are you all right, Sir? You look a bit worried.”
He smiled at her displaying a bit of his anxiety, “Yeah it’s just that my wife left our hotel about an hour ago, and since she doesn’t have a phone I am a bit worried.” He laughed.
She frowned at him, “Maybe I saw her pass by earlier? What does she look like?”
“Thank you,” he smiled brightly, “She has white hair that reaches about to her waist and red eyes. She’d be wearing a blue dress with lace.”
She smiled at that, “I actually did her see her earlier today! She passed by here and went upstairs into the Armed Detective Agency.” She pointed to the stairs. Not letting his expression slip, he smiled kindly at her, said thanks, and left, thoughts racing about what could have compelled Yin to go to a detective agency.
It had only been a little over half an hour since Dazai and his sister left when another person entered the agency. It was a middle-aged Asian man with blue eyes and messy black hair in civilian attire. He smiled nervously as the door closed behind him and spoke, “Hi, I’m sorry for intruding, but I was told by the nice lady in the cafe that my friend came in here earlier.” Running his fingers through his hair, “Um yeah.”
Kunikida- likely still trying to recover from the missteps in his plans from this morning- strode up to him and asked, “Could you describe him for me? They might have stopped by earlier.”
“Yeah, she has silver hair- probably loose, and is wearing a blue dress.”
“Yes, she was here earlier, but left with Dazai thirty seven minutes ago.”
“Dazai,” the stranger spoke more to himself. He smiled wryly. “Do you mind if I wait for them here?” He gestured at the couch.
Kunikida nodded and returned to his work. He was probably having a mini heart attack from the number of interruptions to his day. Atsushi went back to the paperwork, hoping a case would begin soon, though since Dazai left he likely would have to do his as well. Aigh. Bored, Atsushi congregated to where Kyouka and Naomi were standing along with Yosano and Haruno who had been busy during the day’s earlier events. It seemed they were catching them up on what happened. Yosano looked up with a mildly sadistic expression that never meant anything good for anyone. The weretiger shivered, recalling the doctor’s ministrations. Yosano smiled, “Hey Ranpo, what can you deduce about our mystery man?”
“Don’t wanna,” he whined, head slumping on his desk, still tired from the late-night prior.
Kyouka cut in, “Ranpo-san if you can tell us about him I’ll run out and buy you twelve donuts from that shop you like.” Atsushi held his breath. If anyone could persuade Ranpo to use ultra-deduction it was Kyouka.
Ranpo sat up, “Fine, and a Ramune too.” “Deal.” Ranpo slipped on his glasses and his eyes widened. “Criminal, a trained killer.” At that Junichiro, Yosano and Atsushi tensed preparing for action. The man seemed to notice the agency’s reactions and stood up, moving into a defensive position.
Kunikida called out, “Are you intent on causing harm to anyone here?” The man replied hands up, “No, I’m just waiting to see my friend. I know Dazai, and I’d rather not explain until he gets here.”
“Alright,” Kunikida conceded, lowering his notebook. The rest of the agency remained on guard- ready to leap into action should the need arise. Atsushi had returned to work though he tried to covertly glance at their mysterious guest. He saw that the man didn’t look like Dazai, but now that his cover was blown his eyes reminded him of Dazai’s.
An hour later the agency’s door opened again Dazai bounded forward holding his sister’s hand as she trailed behind him. They both looked happy albeit somewhat subdued. The stranger stood up and Dazai called out, “Dage!”
“Hey Dazai, I didn’t know you were in Yokohama.”
“Well remember that job I said I had lined up.”
“It was this?”
“Well, I’m happy for you.” The stranger smiled. “This place seems good for you. Plus the people here are very vigilant.” He nodded to himself. Atsushi noticed Kunikida’s hands start twitching at all the non-answers provided.
Kunikida spoke up, “Well since everyone is here would someone mind explaining what’s going on.”
“Yup, sorry Kunikidaaa,” Dazai chirped, “Well” he pointed at the man “This is Hei, and this is Yin. Remember how after I left the Port Mafia I went underground for two years? Well, I stayed with them.” Well, that answered practically nothing, Atsushi thought. Dazai was being as mysterious as ever, though it was clear he held affection for the two. He wasn’t sure he had ever seen Dazai this relaxed before, not even around the other agency members. Shaking that thought out of his head he turned back to the conversation. Kunikida was questioning the three about how exactly they met and what was it that Hei and Yin were doing in Yokohama.
Yin had replied; it was the first time Atsushi had heard her, “I wanted to see Dazai.” She then turned to the man in question, “You should eat more, but the agency seems nice. It's like the place Kiko used to work at, but better.” She then turned to look at Ranpo and said, “He’s like Conan. That’s cool.” Dazai chuckles at that, while Atsushi himself is completely lost.
Clearing his throat, Kunikida asks what Dazai’s friends are doing here. Hei glances at Dazai and then explains, “Well we’re actually on vacation, it’s our um,” he blushes, “anniversary. I didn’t realize that Dazai was in this city, but that must be why Yin chose it.”
“Finally tied the knot, I see,” Dazai smirks. Atsushi feels like something is a bit off with that statement, but before he can voice his suspicions Hei and Yin are exiting the door, Hei remarking he had booked them a masseuse. This was odd even by Dazai standards, but Dazai-san seemed to trust them and it isn’t surprising his friends are criminals. And since he lived with them while in hiding from the Port Mafia, they likely aren’t working with the Mafia. Atsushi does glance over to Ranpo though to see what he thinks of the situation, the detective is sucking a lollipop and seems generally unbothered. He decides to let it go.
Seated next to Hei, Mao waited for Yin to find their target. There was a high likelihood that he was going to remain in Yokohama to either sell the information to one of the criminal organizations here or stay out of sight of the syndicate. Mao was reviewing the information in his database regarding the missing scientist. Jin Yong was a scientist from Pandora, working on gate research that had disappeared two weeks ago along with a collection of files about the gate that likely also contained information useful to the Syndicate as well as Morning Star. They, hopefully, had another five years before they needed to stop the Syndicate inside the gate again, but they still needed every advantage they could get. Hei had hoped that eventually, people would stop trying to destroy them and the Syndicate would be completely eradicated. Until that day came, they had to try to learn more about the gate to see if there was a way to prevent its collapse and stabilize the gate. Mao turned over and thought to himself how it was funny how optimistic Hei was. Also what they hell they got to see the kid and he didn’t. Dazai was a brat, but he was their brat. Plus he gave Mao the best fish and scratched almost as good as Yin. He would have to go follow the kid later and see about getting some fish.
Yin looked up from the glass of water, face worried. This was unusual. Even though she could utilize expressions she never bothered. She was too lazy to put up a front for infiltration work and thought expressions were a waste of time. She then said she couldn’t locate their target.
“What do you mean by that kid?” Mao was lost was he not in Yokohama or was something else at play.
“I found him, but I don’t know where he is. Every time I try to get a hold of the location it slips. He’s in Yokohama, but I can’t tell where.”
“That’s weird,” Hei was pacing, now this mission had just got a bit more complicated.
“Could he be a contractor? His contract may allow him to evade surveillance.” Mao inputs, but he honestly doubts it. If he were a contractor the Syndicate or Section Four would have tracked him down by now. But…
Yin spoke up, “I think he’s an ability user. Why would he go to Yokohama, a city notorious for being unsafe for contractors and for having a disproportionate number of ability users.” That makes sense. Yin didn’t give input often, but when she does it’s as valuable as spun gold.
Hei nodded, and asked Yin if she could get a somewhat general location for him. They headed out. Yin remained behind to see if she could pick up his trail, cautious to keep her spectres out of sight. Mao headed to Chinatown and Hei decided to sweep Yamashita Park. Mao was honestly doubtful they would find him. If Yin couldn’t pin him it’s unlikely either of them will, but they need that data. It wasn’t the only copy of it, but it will likely have information on where the rest of the gate research is, which if they destroy will prevent its destruction. Mao wandered around the marketplace. It was a bit crowded for his tastes, but there was a decent chance Jin Yong decided to hide in plain sight, plus the food smelled good. Is that mackerel? Mao focus: he tore himself away from the fish and continued looking. It was then that Hei spoke up from the mic. “Shit, I found him, but he ran. I’m currently following him. Get over here Mao. Somethings up. I didn’t notice him until I passed right by him.”
“Got it Hei.” Mao rushed down there. When he finally got to Yamashita Park he finds Hei, not with the target, but with his hands up as a man in a ponytail holds a gun on him. That wasn’t their target. Shit. He’s probably a cop or detective with clothes like that. Mao stays in the shadows, having no desire to get shot again.
He heard Hei say, “Okay… it’s not what it looks like.”
“Well, then what is it!? I saw a civilian being chased by a man with a knife who is an associate of Dazai.” The man in glasses shouted. Welp this was bad. Also Hei really? You had to take out a knife. It was just a chase. Jeez, he never changed, Mao mused. But it was time to step in. Hei was getting antsy and while he could deescalate the situation, Mao decided to give him a break. He bounded forward in front of glasses and meowed, hoping he wouldn’t get shot for this. The man paused and glanced down at him, gun still trained on Hei. He was a professional alright, but the tension was seeping out of his body.
Hei then took a step forward, arms still raised, “I promise this isn’t what it looks like. I can explain everything, but I would prefer to do it in private.” Glasses looked suspicious but eventually nodded. He gestured for Hei to turn around and Hei did allowing the man to cuff him. They walked to glasses’s van and got in. Mao leaped in after them.
“What the hell!?” Glasses bellowed.
“Sorry, this is Mao, he’s my cat.”
“Yeah, you always bring your cat on anniversary trips?” Hei elected not to respond. Always a good course of action. It wasn't until they pulled in front of a cafe with the Armed Detective Agency advertised outside that he realized the brat would be here. Honestly, he had been a bit surprised by Hei’s decision to come with glasses, but likely whatever the dude’s ability was made him an inconvenient match for Hei. They walked inside.
Atsushi honestly shouldn’t have been shocked to see Dazai’s friends again. He really was too optimistic, wasn’t he? But why in handcuffs? And Kunikida looked frustrated. A tiger-striped cat bounded in behind them.
“Got in trouble already, Dage,” Dazai called out playfully.
“In some ways, yes. Could you call Yin to come here? I need your help,” Hei stated.
A little while later Yin had arrived and Hei began to explain- with occasional interjections from Dazai- what they were actually doing in Yokohama. Hei was a contractor, though he said it was complicated and chose not to elaborate. Nineteen years ago, Hei was in South America during Heaven’s Gate’s collapse. He then went searching for his sister using the resources of the Syndicate which even Atsushi had heard of. A criminal organization that had over ten years ago orchestrated a worldwide conspiracy to kill all contractors and the revelation that they were the reason for Heaven’s War and Heaven’s Gate subsequent collapse. It was a major event at the time and even at the orphanage, he got information about it.
Also the cat, Mao, could talk. He wasn’t actually a cat, but rather a person trapped in the body of a cat, being a contractor as well. Yin was a doll and they used to be on a team in the Syndicate before the truth about their employer was revealed. Their team now led Morning Star, a clandestine group dedicated to stopping the Syndicate and the destruction of all dolls and contractors. That was the reason they were here, apparently. A scientist working on gate research at PANDORA had disappeared with some important data, so Hei and co. were trying to track him down.
Kunikida interrupted to ask, “How does Dazai fit into this?”
Hei glanced at Dazai who chirped, “Well you see, just like Yin here, I’m also a doll! We meet a few years ago. She asked me for help and needed a place to stay so it all worked out!” At his words the room silenced, a sort of stunned shock hit everyone.
Atsushi was lost, what does Dazai mean? And a doll? Confused, he asked Kyouka and Tanizaki what a doll was. Tanizaki, who looked taken aback, replied “Well, dolls are like contractors, except, um, worse. They, well, can’t do anything without being told and send out spectres that are used to gather information. Unlike contractors, they aren’t as well known to the general public since the government uses them for information and aren’t really considered people.”
Kyouka whispered, “The mafia used dolls for information, I’ve worked with them before, but I never thought Dazai-san could be one. I know there was some speculation that he was a contractor, but a…” she cut off. Atsushi glanced up and saw Dazai grinning at them. He looked dangerous.
“Oh, do go on Kyouka-chan, I’m dying to hear about how the Port Mafia uses dolls.”
Kunikida snapped, “Dazai is this true?”
“It is.” Kunikida, “Why is it that something is always because of you?”
“Tchh” Ranpo actually looked miffed. He was wearing his glasses and pouted, “How could I have missed that.”
The roar of voices grew louder, until…
“Silence,” the president demanded. With a single word, one could hear a pin drop. “Regardless of the revelations today, Dazai is first and foremost a member of this agency, who I have the utmost faith in. Let’s get to work.” With that, the president turned, went into his office, and the door closed behind him.
The office was a rush of activity as Kunikida yelled out orders and people got to work.
Dazai had decided to reveal another portion of his past because there was a high probability that Fyodor was planning on exploiting it. Given Fyodor’s knowledge of Mori’s ability (a closely guarded secret), it was highly unlikely that he didn’t know about Dazai as well. Also, in a way, he owed it to them to understand how truly inhuman he was. He knew what the reactions would be, for the most part, he just hoped that there would be no pity, it was condescending and infantilizing. He was aware of his past actions and being a doll didn’t erase the blood on his hands. Thankfully Kunikida was the one he was working with on this.
“Kunikiiidaaa!” Dazai trilled as Kunikida raced ahead. Ooh, he was upset- more so than usual. They were going to look for the ability user, or Dazai was, given that the man’s ability wouldn’t affect him. Kunikida was there to keep him on track.
“I’m not in the mood, Dazai. Just keep watch.” He was definitely mad. How fun. The gang was back at the agency as Hei’s cover was blown and the agency wanted to keep an eye on them. Looking at Kunikida’s hands which were clenched tightly he decided to give the man some space and resorted to looking for anyone out of place.
It took a while, but when the man had fled from Hei earlier it was in the area of Honcho. Dazai figured the man would search for a cafe in a well-populated area to lie low in, believing his ability would stop him from being detected. It took about seven tries of popping into various shops while Kunikida gave him the cold shoulder, but Dazai found him in one connected to a library. Jin Yong was sitting in a corner booth drinking coffee, watching the front door nervously. Dazai smiled and slid into the seat across from him. “Why, hello Jin-san. I’ve been looking for you.” The man’s eyes widened and he stood to flee only to see Kunikida leaning against the door, unamused. They took the man back to the agency and put him in a room with Yin only after a brief argument. His job done, Dazai took a step outside ignoring the commotion indoors. He knew what would follow. Yin would explain to the man why they were here and why they needed his help. She would convince him the best possible option was for them to set him up with a new life in exchange for the information he possessed. The Syndicate would never stop chasing him and even with his ability, he would get caught eventually. After a lot of deliberation, he would agree. Jin Yong was a scientist and would look at it logically. He heard the door open behind him, as someone stepped out. He didn’t bother turning around.
“Ahem.” Kunikida spoke, “Dazai, I realize the way I spoke earlier was inappropriate and I apologize. However, we are partners and yet you tell me nothing! How can I trust you? I’m not a subordinate or someone you can lead around on a leash, Dazai.” He paused for a moment, breathing heavily. “I don’t expect a miracle, but please, at least try.”
Dazai replied quietly, confused at the shame sweeping through him, “Okay, I will.”
“Yeah,” Kunikida walked away.
Dazai grinned sardonically to himself, ah, he really didn’t understand humans. But perhaps he could try.
Atsushi was honestly not sure to make of today’s revelations. He had heard of contractors before, but only in the vaguest of terms; similar to what he knew about the Armed Detective Agency before meeting them. He knew contractors were a thing and they weren’t well-liked generally, but beyond that his knowledge was limited. He never had the energy to care about them at the orphanage and in Yokohama, they weren’t relevant. Now of course he knew differently. Dazai had friends who were contractors and he was a doll. He didn’t know how he was supposed to feel about that. Afterall, Dazai-san was Dazai-san and nothing would change that. Yet, he felt as though he was even further from Dazai than before. Every time he thought he was closer to understanding Dazai as a person, a new revelation came out. Will I ever truly know Dazai? He wasn’t sure. Pondering his mentor, Atsushi missed the briefing from Naomi about their next job. He would have to ask Kyouka to fill him in. He hurried after her, he has a case to work on, and people to help.
Dazai saw Jin Yong leave with instructions to go to a safehouse where he would get set up with a new identity. The gangly scientist looked in shock; nervous and hopeful for his survival. Hei would take care of him. He wasn’t one for breaking promises. Yin walked up to him, giving him a hug, and slipping a note into his pocket. She whispered into his ear, “I’m happy for you,” and kissed him on the brow.
Mao trailed after her with a meaningful look. “Get me some fish next time, kid.”
The only one left was Hei. The man walked up to him, genuinely flustered. He never seemed to know what to do with emotions and gave Dazai a short bow and then ruffled his hair. “I’m proud of you too kid. You’ve done a good job.” Oh, at that Dazai blushed.
He turned away and gave a mumbled, “Thanks,” too embarrassed to say anything else. And with that they left, out of his life as quietly as they had entered.
Dazai returned to his apartment alone. He would see Morning Star again at some point. They were good people and gave him hope that he could indeed make the world a little brighter. The job had wrapped up smoothly, and he was tired. Once he got home, and when did he start calling it that? He stared outside the window at the gradually darkening sky in silence. His fingers itched for something to hold. He held himself back from going to the bathroom to open himself upon a razor. The blood would drip hypnotically, almost as beautiful and vile as water. He shook himself, and before he could further spiral, there was a knock at the door. Now, who was that? He went to peer in the latch and saw Yosano standing impatiently.
When he opened the door she said, “I’ve got a nice bottle of whiskey if you want a drink?”
“Alright.” He didn’t elaborate, and neither did she. He moved to pull out the glasses from the cabinet while she opened the bottle.
It wasn’t until their third drink that Yosano spoke, “Mori?”
“Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”
“Sounds about right. The bastard.” That concluded the conversation for the evening.
Yosano stumbled off to her place at about 3 am, and he crashed onto the couch. It was about 9 am when he woke the next day. He had a slight hangover and winced at the sun peering through the window; it was probably not as bad as Yosano’s, though. Dolls always did tend to have a hardier constitution than most humans. He proceeded to move from the couch at 9:40 and got dressed. He would be late, but he had a feeling no one would begrudge it today. When he opened the door, there was a tray, on it a bowl of Okayu, still warm. He smiled and picked it up, bringing the food inside.