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Four Fools, Two Truths, One Night

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Locale, drinks, music, seating, decorations. Organizing an event of this scale was always a logistical hassle, and the school had, with some desperation, put out the call for as many chaperones as possible. While Ryunosuke's own parents were unavailable that night, and Susato's father was attending by default in his position as a teacher, the e-mail had specified that they would accept the aid of any 'responsible adult'...

...though, whether Mr. Sholmes fit the bill was a question of debate. Still, he'd been overwhelmingly eager to give the pair a ride, Iris had apparently been overwhelmingly supportive of any endeavor to get him out of the house, and as he took several rapid photographs of Ryunosuke and Susato at the school entrance in rented-for-the-night-formalwear, he beamed with all the radiant pride a parent could muster.

"Enjoy yourself, you two!" He brandished his finger in front of him as he paced through the hallways, his clicking steps rebounding off the tiling. "And remember―don't do anything I wouldn't do!"

"Um..." Ryunosuke tilted his head slightly forward, a drop of sweat beading on his temple. "That really doesn't narrow it down, Mr. Sholmes."

"Well, there's one thing I know for a fact I wouldn't do, and that's squander this evening! Now, go on, go on―enjoy the vanishing days of your youth! And have no fear; my watchful eye will ever be on you." He said, which might've been comforting if his eyes hadn't been smugly closed.

"We will, Mr. Sholmes." Susato, at least, could be relied on for diplomacy. The two turned around, pushing open the doors to the heavily-redecorated gym hall. As they entered and Mr. Sholmes vanished tracelessly into the crowded room, a sudden tension descended on the duo, their shoulders stiffening and eyes widening. It really was incredible how a familiar, mundane place had turned vast and intimidating with only the addition of a few multicolored lights, some music playing through the loudspeakers, and, well...a bustling, seemingly-endless sea of people.

Susato was the first to speak, her voice low from the breath she was holding. "Did you manage to get the plan into place?"

"Yeah, I-I think so." He replied, clasping his fingers in an attempt to keep them from seizing up. "How about you?"

"I think..." Her hand went to her cheek, a contemplative expression flitting across her face. "I'm just going to improvise."

He nodded. "Are you ready?"

Her chest was still for a moment in rigid tension, before she let out a quiet exhale. "...Yes." Her eyes went across to him, showing an equal mix of resolve and concern. "Are you?"

After a moment of pause, he nodded. The two drew deep breaths, let their hands meet in a firm and mutually supportive fistbump, and parted ways, cutting through the floor in search of their respective targets.

 


 

The evening moved stumblingly onwards, dances starting, fumbling first moves being made, conversations striking up. In a way, the inside of the gym hall was like a vast pond, rippling here and there with the currents of social motion...and, at the very edge of the walls, one isolated island consisting of a grumbling Japanese Literature teacher, surrounded by a discarded panoply of Dixie cups at the table beside him.

He didn't want to be here. He shouldn't have been here. But that wretched Shamspeare had asked him what he was going to wear to the dance, and he'd courteously informed him that as a matter of fact he had the day off, and he'd replied, with irrepressible smarm, what, so you're going to stay at home and read to your three cats?, and he'd gotten a trifle defensive and said four, actually, four cats, and the blasted man had gotten that awful smirk of his―

―and now here he was, surrounded by flashing lights and loud music and wretched reminders of his own student days, all twitchy and avoidant and helplessly surrounded by bombast and charisma. Locking himself in his room, burrowing into books while others went out for rip-roaring nights...

Ugh. His hands were shaking. He took another sip, seeking any distraction to settle his nerves. At least there was something of an unusually warm, comforting taste to the punch; a dash of cinnamon, possibly.

 


 

It was astonishing, and frankly, defied the laws of nature. Every time Rei saw her, she thought Susato couldn't possibly look more beautiful than right at that moment―and, even though she was always adamantly certain, she always found herself proven wrong when the next moment rolled around. Caught in her awestruck gazing, she hadn't realized Susato was speaking to her until she was in mid-sentence: "...ou enjoying yourself, Rei?"

"Y-yes! Oh, you look wonderful―I mean, you look..." She tried to curl it into something less revealing, but no matter how she curved the words in her head, there was only one conclusion she could reach. "...really, truly beautiful."

"Thank you..." Susato's eyes went up and down across the folds of her dress, and Rei felt a flush come to her cheeks at being even lightly observed by her. "So do you, Rei." The light smile at Susato's face melted her entirely, and made the glum inevitability of what she knew she had to say all the more devastating.

"...I wanted to tell you something tonight." As Rei clasped her hands over her chest, she plucked up a smile, trying to ignore the leaden tug of her heart in her chest. What she actually wished she could say was something else entirely, but..."I'm...happy for you and Ryunosuke. The two of you make a―" The words lay on her tongue like boulders, crushingly heavy. She braced herself, forcing them out. "A nice couple."

And, to her surprise, a perplexed shock glinted in Susato's eyes, followed by a rapid head-rustling. "Oh, no―Rei, no, I'm so sorry―Naruhodo-san and I aren't here together, we're sort of―" She placed her hand to her cheek, racking her brain for how best to put it. "He's covering for me, or, we're covering for each other..." Her eyes went up, and Rei felt herself be knocked breathless. "There's someone else I'm interested in, Rei."

Thrown from despair to confusion in the shift of a second, hope burned in her heart as Susato threw a few quick glances around her before continuing in a whisper. "Could we talk somewhere a bit...quieter?"

 


 

"―right, you lot are really in trouble now!"

A metallic clang resounded through the hallways as Security Monitor Gregson cornered the two brothers, slamming the taller of the two against a row of lockers. His other hand grappled at the collar of the shorter one, catching him in the middle of making a run for it. "I know for a fact that punch is spiked, and Hall Monitor Beate said he saw you two pouring something into it!"

"Y-yeah―well, sure, yeah! I mean, for some extra flavor―" Gregson's eyes flashed with potent fury, grip tightening at the young man's shirt. He grimaced and shrunk backwards, as if he was trying to phase through the metal. "―eesh, calm down! I-It were just apple juice!"

"Apple juice?" He repeated, incredulously. With the remarkably upfront looks on their faces, he couldn't tell if they were lying to him or just themselves. Veins bulging in his forehead, he hissed through his teeth before roaring: "That was hard whiskey, you little weasels!"

A pale panic came over Nash's face. "W-we didn't know!" His glance flitted over to his side, hunting for backup. "Did we, bruv?"

"Yeah, yeah!" Ringo concurred, providing an adamant one-man cheering squad for his brother. "I mean, sure, the bottle was kinda fancy, but―when she gave it to us, she said Daniels was the guy who owned the orchard!"

"Daniels...?" ...Oh no. He massaged the telltale twinges of a budding migraine out of his forehead. "Jack Daniels?" The two nodded rapidly in perfect sync. Argh. He rustled his head, returning an iron glare to the two troublemakers. "Right―who's 'she', then?"

"That Lestrade gal―we'd never have done it if we knew! Delinquent's honor, guv!" The two joined their fingers together in an elaborate and well-rehearsed secret handshake, belonging to a club so exclusive it consisted of just the two of them.

"Right." He glanced between the duo, lips curling into a tight snarl. "Alright, you lot, if Principal Stronghart finds out about this he'll have my head on a platter―so this stays our little secret, right?" His grip loosened, but there was an intensity radiating off his glare tantamount to being locked under a hydraulic press. "You can keep a secret, can't you, boys?"

"D-don't worry, guv!" Nash scratched at his face, delving quickly into the shallow recesses of his mind. "Besides, I think the only one who's been havin' it is Mr. Nutsmeg."

"Small blessings, there. I'll deal with it, and you two―" Glancing between the ever-troublesome and impossibly gormless duo, several potential instructions came to mind. 'Don't make any more trouble', 'stay on the straight and narrow', but they all dwindled into insignificance compared to one. He grimaced, racing back through the hallways. "―just get out of my face, will you?"

 


 

He'd called it his 'preparation for opening argument'; a scattered accumulation of all the lines, pleasantries, jokes and small talk topics he'd readied, an elaborate flowchart that could all potentially lead back to what he needed to say. As he stared at his long-time friend, every one of those carefully-rehearsed subjects dematerialized from his mind without hope of recovery.

And, after just a little bit too long, Kazuma noticed he was staring, and since Ryunosuke's eyes were locked with his all hope of plausible deniability was lost. He cleared his throat with a frantic rustling noise. "H-Hi, Kazuma!" Fishing around hopelessly for words on the inside of his brain, he managed to pull out one relatively neutral opening phrase: "Are you enjoying yourself?"

"...Good question." His eyes went to the side. It didn't seem like the sort of thing that warranted contemplation; he was undeniably a popular guy, and this sort of bustling socialization scene seemed like it'd be exactly his element. "I hadn't really thought about it."

No matter how long he'd known him...there always seemed to be something vaguely inscrutable to him, something new to discover. "Well―"

"I am now, though." He continued, a slight smile at the corner of his lips, not seeming to pay any sort of heed to how he'd just fried the inside of Ryunosuke's brain.

Staring for a moment he drew in a deep breath and rustled his head, steadying every ounce of his resolve. "Kazuma...there's something I have to tell you."

He nodded curtly. "Alright."

A long pause. A very, very long pause. ...Jeez, not even the courtesy of a follow-up question, huh. Even taking the first steps to what he was about to say was as nerve-wracking as saying it in the first place; he tilted forwards slightly, sighing. Well, this was what the plan was for. "I...can't talk about it in here, um―" He pointed hastily in the direction of the exit. "―could you follow me outside?"

 


 

With nothing but the interception of the young Ms. Lestrade on his mind, Gregson rushed through the hallways. He swung the doors to the gym hall back open and burst inside―only to collide with a departing cannonball consisting, on closer inspection, of a short, flustered man. As he gasped and rubbed his chest, he heard a hushed voice murmuring below him.

"Gregson? 'Zat you?" Sensing the telltale whiff coming off his breath, Gregson reeled back, grimacing. The man smelled like a combination of an oversugared strawberry patch and a distillery.

"Wh―um, yeah, sorry, Mr. Natsume, I've got to―" He tried to push his way past, but was stopped by Soseki's heavy arm at his shoulder.

"No, listen, this is important―remember―remember last month?" As Gregson tried feebly to dislodge himself, Soseki drew a deep, rattling breath. "When I kept taking the lunches you'd left in the lounge fridge, all those times I got locked into the building overnight? Falling asleep in my office―remember?"

"I―yeah, I remember, but―" He craned his neck, scouring the mob behind him for a flash of unruly blonde hair. His eyes widened as he spotted his mark, moving through the crowd in the direction of one of the exits.

"I'm―I'm so sorry about that. Everyone thought it was a ghost." Soseki shook his head, swallowing. "Sometimes...sometimes I feel like a ghost, Gregson. Wandering through the world, helpless, with unfinished business. Do you..." Eluding the common categories of 'happy drunk' or 'sad drunk', the man was clearly an 'existential crisis' drunk. His voice cracked as if he was about to break down in a confessional. "Do you forgive me, Tobias?"

If she was heading in that direction, she'd be going towards the football field...he looked down at the quivering man, fists balled up at Gregson's chest, inhaled, and patted his shoulder in the most awkward man-to-man gesture he'd ever delivered. "Y-yeah, Mr. Natsume. I forgive you. It's okay."

Tears glinting in Soseki's eyes, he gripped tightly at Gregson's sleeves. "This world of dewdrops / is but a world of dewdrops / and yet, despite this..." He mumbled, and with that haphazard translation of one of the great masters of the pre-Shiki period, detached himself from the security officer's coat and stumbled vaguely in the direction of the bathrooms. Gregson, without a moment to lose, tore through the room at a dash.

 


 

The two had moved a decent distance through the hallways, still relatively close by but definitely far enough away from prying eyes. Their hearts thumped in a wild rhythm, out-of-sync by a couple of beats. Once the silence had gotten too stifling, Rei drew a deep breath, speaking up.

"So, this person you're interested in..." She glanced away, forcing herself to remember to keep her expectations level. "What's he like?"

"Ah, well..." Susato placed one hand on her cheek. "She, actually."

"Oh―r-right! Sorry!" Rei's heart was racing impossibly fast, every word seeming to crystallize possibilities she'd only been able to dream about. "Um, so, what's...what's she like?"

"She's a wonderful woman...passionate, and dedicated, and inspiring, and..." Her eyes went to the side, a soft blush coming over her face. Her fingers clasped, and she drummed the back of her hand. Rei couldn't help but notice, and for a moment, her heart was bolstered by the thought that, just maybe, Susato was as nervous as she was. "I think you know her quite well. She was a childhood friend of mine." Looking up into Rei's face, she felt a tension come over her. The growing anxieties, rampant in her chest, were proving very hard to face directly. "She's one of my best friends, even now."

"Susato, can―can you say it?" Her fingers joined over the back of Susato's hands, setting her gaze firmly towards her eyes. "For me?"

After a moment of pause, Susato gave a firm nod. With more clarity than she'd felt in a long time, the tension melted off of her shoulders. "It's you, Rei. It's been you for a long―" She was about to continue, but Rei's arms had already flung around her shoulders, clutching her with the strength of someone who was hellbent to not let this moment slip away from her. Susato returned the hug, strong, unwavering, not letting go until Rei loosened her grip. When she did, the two joined hands, Rei gave a quick "Come on!", and bursts of breathless laughter escaped them as they sprinted through the hallways.

 


 

The two walked along the edges of the football field, the wet grass brushing against their shoes. Silence reigned, peaceful, tranquil, and...avoidant.

Kazuma looked at him, one hand resting on his chin. "For someone who had something to say, you've been quiet for a very long time, Ryunosuke."

"Aha. Yeah, that..." His eyes darted in all directions except towards the young man at his side. He cleared his throat. "Well, um, it was kind of...supposed to be accompanied by a presentation, sort of? Or, like, a visual aid..."

"Hah! What, are you looking for extra credit?" He laughed, with a burst of sudden boisterousness. "If there's something you've got on your mind, Ryunosuke, just blurt it out thoughtlessly like you always do." Coming from anyone else, it would've been an insult, but there was an undeniable warmth to Kazuma's voice. As he continued, he smiled. "It's one of your best traits."

Ryunosuke looked into his eyes, feeling his pulse race into overtime. There was always so much to say, and every time he looked at Kazuma, there was more. Too much, too big, too important to just decide to do it on a whim...it had to be tonight, and he had to prepare for it.

"I-I will. I will. Just..." He drew his phone from his pocket and threw it a quick glance, counting down the minutes. "Give me a moment, okay?"

 


 

"...Ah, hell." Gina sighed, shaking her head, as Gregson's footsteps came up behind her in a series of heavy thumps. She whirled around, giving him a glare that was loaded with both disdain and familiarity. "Hi, Gregsy. Didn't distract you for long, did they?"

"Young lady, put that down!" He bellowed, eyes going to the plastic bottle of transparent liquid at her side before bouncing back up. He wasn't a father himself, but he could still summon a fairly convincing fatherly scowl. "What is that, vodka?"

"Nah, lighter fluid."

"..." He blinked, pupils shrinking into first abject shock then pinpoint fury. He'd been prepared for a whole slew of potential crimes, but arson wasn't on the list. "What?!"

She gave a half-shrug, knocking the ashes off her cigarette and holding it just slightly too close to the bottle for comfort. "It's just a little something me and Venus cooked up. Favor for a friend. Should be going off any second now―" As the hissing of a hitherto-unnoticed fuse burned down to nothing, the girl clapped her hands over her ears and crouched down. From a couple of meters away came a roaring, furious whistling, and a streak of red light shot into the blackness of the sky.

 


 

Reflected in Kazuma's astonished eyes, an extravagant crimson flower lit up the heavens, scattering its flaming afterimage across the backdrop of grey clouds.

"Oh, there it is! Yeah!" Ryunosuke beamed, pointing at the blooming illumination. "There was going to be a heart, too, but―oh, wait, maybe that's it over there?" He furrowed his brow, glancing around.

As the hissing rockets and glimmering explosions gleamed off of Kazuma's eyes, he found himself awestruck. Voice low, he spoke: "You set this up?"

"Y-yeah." Ryunosuke ruffled the side of his head, sending his hair into a cloud of miniature spikes slightly reminiscent of a pufferfish. "I wanted to surprise you. You're...always doing stuff for me, Kazuma. I wanted this evening to be special."

He paused, gazed up at the booming, resplendent beauty of this man's stunt, and...sighed. "...You always need to overdo things, don't you?" Bit by bit, his head turned to the side, taking in the sight of his friend's face, bathed in the colorful glow of fireworks. "No matter what you did, this night would've been perfect, partner."

Ryunosuke's eyes widened as his lips lunged in to meet his, fingers trailing over his hands, a sudden rush of warmth and comfort in the cool summer night. Pulling apart for a moment, he glanced to the side. "K-Kazuma, you're missing the fireworks―"

Another kiss, and a breathless murmur: "No, I'm not."

 


 

Gregson stumbled back into the vast hall, sighing, despondent. With one stern talking-to delivered, and further consequences to be administered down the line, the matter should've been settled, but...he couldn't help but feel he'd been outsmarted and outpaced, at all angles. He needed something to take the edge off.

Glancing down at the punch he was meant to dispose of, he noticed it was mostly empty, holding just about enough for one more glass. He paused for one brief, moralistic moment, before pouring a generous serving into a Dixie cup. As the vigorous blend of strawberry and whiskey settled on his lips, flashbacks of his own student days came glancing past, of rip-roaring nights and inadvisable blends.

He'd never be caught dead saying it out loud, but for a moment, he thanked the good lord for Gina Lestrade.

The man went in a quick circle as he paced across the room, sidling up to join the rest of the teacher's lineup. Dr. Sithe (Biology) was quietly extolling the virtues of cutting-edge medical technology to Mr. Windibank (Economics), and Dr. Drebber (Science) was showing off the features on his custom-made prosthetic to an awestruck Mr. Harebrayne (Science, TA). The only one who seemed to be unaccompanied was Professor Mikotoba (Biology), so he shuffled up to his side. For a moment, the two men looked out at the dancefloor in silence, crowded on all sides by laughing, shouting, vivid youths, all immersed in the little microcosms of their own existence.

As he took another sip of punch, Gregson let out a soft sigh. Mikotoba gave him a sidelong glance.

"Rough night, Mr. Gregson?"

"Cripes, don't get me started. I swear, if it's not one thing in this blasted place, it's ano...ther..." He squinted out towards one particularly crowded section of the dancefloor, festooned with an unusually boisterous mob of students. Briefly-visible bits and pieces of a figure flashed through the crowd, and his puzzled stare pieced it together, arriving at an impossible conclusion.

"...bleedin' hell, is that Mr. Natsume?"

The professor's gaze joined him, before giving a curt nod. "Looks like it."

"What's he doing?"

"The Worm, I believe."

"...My god."

"Yes..." Mikotoba said, taking one sip of the off-brand Sprite they'd bought in bulk for the occasion. "His moves are rather out of date, but his execution is very stylish."

Gregson chugged the last of his makeshift cocktail in one gulp, cramming the cardboard cup into his pocket. Well, at least the man had cheered up, but still... "...I'd better stop him before he gets hurt."

"Good luck, Mr. Gregson."

The security officer disappeared into the throng. And, before too long, another man had slid up at his side―this one tall, platinum blonde, and possessing an impish smirk that would rival even the most impudent imp. "Long time, no see, Mikotoba!" He tutted at himself, snapping his finger in an exaggerated show of self-chiding. "Oh, I'm sorry―it's Professor Mikotoba now, isn't it?"

If the sight of him had stirred even the slightest sliver of an emotion in Mikotoba's chest, the man was doing an expert job of not showing it. "...Good evening, Mr. Sholmes."

"'Good evening', he says!" The detective leaned forward, mimicking paroxysms of agony. "As if the weight of years don't still lie heavy on his mind! As if those evenings aren't playing on constant repeat in his head! Well, no matter. I forgive, and I forget." Sholmes whirled in front of him, heels clicking as he doubled over low, bowing with an elaborate flourish that would bring the theatre department to shame. "May I have this dance, Mikotoba?"

"Mr. Sholmes..." Mikotoba turned to look down just slightly. Lifting his head, Sholmes' spirits buoyed at being finally granted the boon of eye contact, even from that remarkably deadpan expression. "You know I don't dance anymore."

"Of course I do. The London clubs weep nightly for the talent they lost!" He drew himself up, his customary elaborate line-up of nonsense mannerisms softening. "Come on, Professor Mikotoba―we can show these young'uns a thing or two, can't we?" And, on seeing the multicolored spotlights reflect in the man's sparkling eyes, and a glint ting off of his practically radiant grin, the professor let out a soft sigh, set his cup aside, and accepted the detective's outstretched hand.

 


 

A kiss―soft, sweet, yearning, complete. It was everything she'd hoped for, while still leaving her wanting more. As they embraced in the relative privacy of the girls' bathrooms, the low, bassy vibrations of dance music reverbated through the walls. Even caught up in the heat of the moment, Susato felt a slight curiosity as the tunes from inside seemed to change, from the relentless onslaught of top-40 hits and inoffensive pop to some sort of...uptempo waltz? And slowly growing in volume, a relentless chanting―'YUJIN, YUJIN, YUJIN'―

She gasped, pulling away. "F-father? I'm sorry, Rei, I need to see what's―"

"S-sure, no, of course!" She nodded rapidly, already having gotten far more than she anticipated. Adjusting one strand of her hair, a shaky smile went to her face. "We'll―we'll pick it up later? Where we left off?"

"Y-yes!" Susato grinned, lifting up the folds of her dress as she broke into a sprint, glancing behind her quickly to see her best friend (best girlfriend?) give a bright wave. "I'm looking forward to it!"

Unable to contain the rocketing excitement ricocheting around the insides of her chest, Rei slammed her fists against the edges of the sink―and, on seeing the faint traces of Susato's smudged lipstick on the corner of her mouth in the mirror, yelled with joy.

Rushing through the hallways, the buoyant excitement in Susato's chest was rapidly being overtaken by concern, or at least curiosity, as she swung the doors of the gym hall open. Elbowing her way through the throng of cheering students, she pushed herself into a ring-side seat of the blistering action.

She froze. She stared. "F-father!?" She gasped to herself, stunned. Then, in the hectic, awed amazement yielded by the sight, she fumbled for her cell phone and booted up her camera, needing concrete, solid, reviewable evidence of the absolute bout of floor-shredding taking place before her.

 


 

As evening slipped into the darker cloaks of nightfall, the congregation of youths dispersed, some to their homes, some to cobbled-together afterparties, all with a fresh slew of memories blazing in their minds. Ryunosuke and Kazuma traded some words passing through the halls before their hands slipped apart, and on the other end of the building, Susato gave Rei one kiss, then another, pulling away abruptly to avoid getting caught in a loop.

Joining back up the two piled into the car, catching Mr. Sholmes in what seemed to be a moment of musing. He stretched out his arm, tapping the ashes of his pipe (surely some sort of ironic affectation, that was Ryunosuke's only explanation for it) out of the window.

"I hope you had a good time!" He leaned back into the worn leather of the car seat, adopting a grin that was halfway between 'nostalgic' and 'dopey'. "I certainly did."

"Yeah, we...well, I had a good time. A lot happened." Ryunosuke coughed into his hand, turning towards his friend. "H-how about you, Susato?"

"Um, yes!" She scratched at the side of her cheek, a warm smile playing across her face. "A lot happened...to me as well."

The pair exchanged knowing glances and let out small bursts of laughter, their hands connecting in a gentle and mutually supportive fistbump.

"Delightful, delightful." Sholmes mumbled, adjusting the rear-view mirror and initiating the elaborate process of knocking, jostling and banging he always had to go through to get his car to start in the first place.

Ryunosuke pondered for a small moment, one thought playing on his mind, wondering how best to phrase it. While he hadn't been there to witness it firsthand, rumors always spread like wildfire through a school like this―especially rumors of a handsome stranger who'd pulled up with the apparent express purpose of relentlessly flirting with one of the most stoic professors on staff.

Kazuma's voice echoed in his ears: 'Blurt it out thoughtlessly, like you always do'. He nodded. Good point, Kazuma. "So when you said 'don't do anything I wouldn't do', you didn't mean...for example...try to pick up your ex?"

"He's not my ex!" A firm defensiveness, alongside a brandished finger. As Susato's dubious expression reflected in the rear-view mirror, he continued at a rapid clip. "We simply aren't living together, for...reasons. Very good reasons, I'm sure; reasons I'd tell you if I could remember them. I believe he keeps the list. But we do get together occasionally."

He clicked his tongue as the car revved into action, pulling them onto the road. Sholmes closed his eyes and let his fingers splay in an oh-my-god-don't-do-that-while-driving kind of way. "I'll melt that man's icy heart yet, with my flamethrower charm!"

Chattering and sharing hushed stories, and occasionally texting between themselves in spots where the details were too spicy to share in speech, the drive went by rapidly. With the tension of their nerves loosening, a soft, creeping tiredness descended inevitably on the duo as the glow of streetlights flickered through the windows.

 


 

After being escorted to their respective homes, the two were quick to head to sleep. Susato, however, paused for a moment at her bedside. Tapping rapidly through her phone, she sent the video she'd recorded to Iris; after all, it was a fun memento of the evening, and an unexpected testament to a side of Mr. Sholmes she hadn't seen before.

The next morning, she and her father rose to discover that "OUR DADS DANCED TOGETHER AT PROM AND THIS HAPPENED?! [NOT CLICKBAIT]" had gone moderately viral with a 300K+ view count.

That day's lecture on Japanese literature was bedraggled and absent-minded, as Mr. Natsume flinched at the sun coming through the blinds and recoiled from the high-pitched chirp of birdsong. The lecture on medical history had never been as well-attended, but Professor Mikotoba did find himself a trifle sheepish at the unexpected attention he found himself receiving. Behind the football field at lunchtime, the ever-entrepreneurial Skulkin Brothers sold 'Dancin' Dads' T-shirts, custom-printed following the advice of the cunning business savvy of Ashley Milverton, who'd been quick to commission a design from talented art student Ms. Green in exchange for 10% of the profits.

And, pulling up in a beat-up yet somehow-operational Honda Civic, Herlock Sholmes bought two, at a discount.