Ranpo doesn’t know how to do a lot of things that Odasaku considers common sense, and one of them is ‘how to treat children’.
“You made Shinji cry.” Odasaku’s voice is very calm and very cold.
Ranpo doesn’t back down or even scoot his chair away. “I didn’t do anything wrong. He wrote a ‘mystery’ that anybody could’ve solved in two minutes, and I told him so.”
“He wanted to impress you,” Odasaku says.
“But he didn’t impress me,” Ranpo fires back.
Odasaku’s eyes narrow a fraction. “There’s nothing good you could possibly have said about his story?”
Ranpo is about to answer, before Odasaku’s expression makes him rethink that decision. “...His vocabulary is pretty big for his age.”
“There. Say that next time instead.”
As Odasaku leaves, he hears Ranpo sigh in relief.
“Dazai, can you hold my hand the next time Dr. Yosano treats me?” Odasaku asks. Almost every head in the room turns toward him, and he pauses. “What?”
“At your age, that’s a bit…” Kunikida struggles for the ideal word, and doesn’t find it. “While Dr. Yosano’s treatment is difficult to withstand, holding hands for comfort-”
Odasaku shakes his head. “It’s not that. I need to borrow No Longer Human. Flawless is an automatic Ability, and I can’t turn it off or decide what it sees as a threat. Seeing everything Dr. Yosano’s going to do to me ahead of time just makes things worse.”
Dazai, who had been wearing a difficult to read expression, slumps in his chair. “Oh, so you’re just using me for my Ability after all! My life is a lie…!”
Odasaku turns to him. “I’ll hold your hand later too,” he says. “Don’t look like that.”
Kunikida coughs. “Please just get back to work, both of you.”
Yosano chooses this time to speak up. “Since I don’t have a reason to treat Dazai, inflicting emotional pain on him might be the next best thing…” She gets a Look from the rest of the room, and rolls her eyes. “I’m obviously joking.”
Tanizaki mutters, “When you joke about things like that, doctor, it’s really not that obvious…”
“What was that?”
Kunikida is a person that Odasaku respects.
“He’d make a good partner for you,” he tells Dazai.
Across the room, Kunikida nearly chokes on his coffee.
Dazai just raises his eyebrows. “Are you sure about that?” he asks. “He doesn’t put up with me one bit, I might be the one driving him to suicide.”
Kunikida scowls. “As though I’d ever stoop to your level, waste of bandages-”
“That’s good,” Odasaku says. “You can’t be partners with someone who’ll just put up with everything you do, Dazai. Then no one will be around to reign you in. You need somebody with more sense than you.”
“Like you?” Dazai suggests. Odasaku shrugs. “I’m not interested in changing partners right now. Or, are you abandoning me to cruel Kunikida and never looking back? What about all we had together?”
“I’m not getting rid of you either,” Odasaku replies. “But something might happen to me someday.”
Kunikida, who was about to snap something else at Dazai, stills his tongue.
Dazai hums thoughtfully, then shakes his head. “If that happens, I won’t be in the market for a replacement partner anyway.”
Odasaku sighs. “Alright. It’s worrying if you say that, but alright.”
Tanizaki seems like the most reasonable person in the agency, aside from Odasaku. (Though he wouldn’t necessarily think of himself as reasonable, just as he wouldn’t think of himself as humble, or talented, or any of the other praise that Dazai gives him.)
And Tanizaki also shares one thing in common with Odasaku: a love of his family. So Tanizaki is something of a kindred spirit for him. An important junior in the agency.
Odasaku expresses this by…
“Are you eating enough?”
Tanizaki sighs. “Yes, Odasaku.”
Odasaku nods, then asks, “Are both of you eating enough?”
“Yes, Odasaku, we’re both doing fine,” Tanizaki replies.
“Your wages are so low,” Odasaku says. “Especially your sister’s. They should pay the clerks more.”
“They’re not low, they’re competitive and we live just fine on them,” Tanizaki says, and then adds, “How do you know what our wages are?”
“Ranpo told me. I don’t know how he knows.” Odasaku shrugs. “I’ll never know, probably.”
“Super Deduction isn’t that complicated…” (Except it‘s much more complicated than any actual ability in the agency, but Ranpo’s in earshot of this conversation even if he’s not paying any attention, so they have to pretend.) “Anyway, that’s not the point. I’m doing fine, Naomi’s doing fine, and you don’t have to mother hen us. I appreciate it, but really, you should worry more about yourself.”
Now Odasaku takes a moment to pause. “…Why would I need to worry?”
“You’re Dazai’s partner,” Tanizaki answers. “That’s a pretty good reason to be concerned about your mental health.”
“I can’t exactly argue with that, but it’s fine. I’m used to dealing with him,” Odasaku replies.
“That’s what you always say. You let him get away with too much,” Tanizaki says. “It’s not good for you, so please stand up for yourself more.”
Odasaku shakes his head. “Thank you for worrying, and I’m sorry, but I know him better than you do, so…”
Tanizaki makes a noise of frustration.
While that’s going on, Dazai sidles up to Kunikida. “So which of those two is the worst mother hen?” he asks.
Kunikida sighs. “They’re both equally bad.”
“Odasaku,” says Kenji, “here’s something I heard the other day!”
Odasaku turns to look at him very intently.
“I heard that if you go swimming right after you’ve eaten food, you’ll definitely drown,” Kenji says.
“I’ve heard that too,” Odasaku replies. “Is it because the food makes you too heavy?”
“Maybe it makes you tired, so that you can’t swim as well. Ooh, or maybe-”
While the two discuss the reason why eating makes you drown, Tanizaki pokes Dazai in the shoulder. “Should we tell them that’s just a myth?”
Dazai grins. “Are you kidding? This is much more entertaining.”
‘It’s an emergency,’ Atsushi had said, and Odasaku had hurried to the location given. He wasn’t sure why Atsushi called his personal number rather than the Agency’s number, or why Atsushi had decided he was the best person for the (fairly vague) job, but he wouldn’t waste time debating all these things when someone could be in danger-
Odasaku spots Atsushi under a large tree that looked mostly normal and intact. His gaze is fixed on a small white cat, mewling pathetically on one of the upper branches.
“Is this the emergency?” Odasaku asks, peering up at the cat.
Atsushi nods. “I can’t reach the lowest branch,” he says. “And even if I try to use my claws to climb up there, I don’t know if I can get the cat safely down that way.”
“That is a problem.” Odasaku gives the tree another once-over. “I think I can reach. Hold my coat.”
Five minutes later, Odasaku is sitting on a high branch, carefully reaching out to the cat. “Here, kitty.”
Atsushi frets below. “Are you alright? Don’t put too much of your weight on it!”
“I’m fine. I almost-” Odasaku scoops the cat up and pulls it close, ignoring its terrified crying. “-have her.”
The trip down is a little more difficult than the trip up, but Odasaku eventually lands on his feet and sets the cat down. It immediately runs to Atsushi, hiding behind his legs.
“Does it not like you?” Atsushi asks.
“Well, I did grab it suddenly,” Odasaku replies. “But I think it likes you plenty.”
Kyouka finds it difficult to drop her guard around Odasaku.
“I don’t blame her,” he says to Dazai. “Even if she joined after you and I left, I’m still ex-mafia.”
Dazai taps his chin in thought. “You two could bond over a lot of things if you started talking, it’s just getting started that’s the problem. But, you do have one ace in the hole you haven’t used yet.”
“I do?” Odasaku asks.
Dazai nods. “You have a daughter.”
The next time Kyouka comes to work with her hair loose and looking like she only barely had time to run a comb through it, Odasaku asks, “Would you like me to put your hair up for you?”
Kyouka hesitates. “...Do you know how?”
“My daughter grew her hair that long once,” Odasaku replies, with a fond expression. “She couldn’t keep it neat on her own, so I helped her with it.”
Kyouka pauses for another moment, then fishes her comb out of her bag and holds it out to him.