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in the name of research

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Dazai knows that his presence here is bound to give the less-astute people false impressions.

So, he’d like to make a few things clear.

The only reason why he’s at this concert is because of Research, okay? Capital R, so that the letter is tall enough to lord its meaning over the neighboring pitiful lowercase letters, just like how Dazai is totally better and taller compared to a certain vocalist whose height is like a sheepdog’s.

Know thy enemy, as far as strategies go. It’s impossible to devise a countermeasure, as well as a good offense, if one doesn’t know their enemy. To call that Chihuahua an ‘enemy’ though… isn’t quite right. Dazai needs a microscope to even notice him, so it’s hardly a fair fight. Some days, Dazai checks the soles of his shoes in case he’s accidentally squashed that shortstack. Don’t misunderstand – Dazai uses the word ‘accidentally’, not because he does not want to grind the other to dust using his heel. No, if Dazai is going to step on him, he’d want to videotape it in full Blu-Ray-quality glory, so Dazai can rewatch it (over and over and over…) and then post it online for everyone to point and laugh along with him.

…Hmm, on second thought, maybe not the online video. Dazai would hate to inadvertently help advertise the chibi’s band. Also, Dazai isn’t so cruel to subject innocent net-surfing people with the ugly sight of a sheepdog screaming for mercy as Dazai steps on him.

But he’d still video it, for his own viewing pleasure.

Really… Dazai can’t wait until that moment arrives.

For now, he’s here in the front row of the sold-out concert, eyes zeroed in on every single movement of his target.

Why is he on the front row reserved for the VIPs?

He’s here for Research, that’s why. How can he scrutinize every single thing when he’s not at the optimal distance? Plus, he comes from a much better band, represented by a much better record label, which means he has a thick enough wallet to afford the VIP ticket. He actually has more than enough to buy the entire VIP area, since he’d really rather not get distracted by anyone else around him as he completes his Research, but he’s realized that even a hat-wearing dumbass can figure out that there’s something fishy if there’s only one (very handsome) person in the VIP section.

One might ask, why is he even watching this band, if their leader is a hat-wearing dumbass?

Ah. That is a good question. It’s because the rest of Yokohama, nay, the rest of Japan has such poor taste. ‘Port Mafia’ as the band is called, has swept the most recent music awards and has topped the Oricon Charts with their latest single. Despite the edgy-sounding name that’s fitting for those suffering from chuunibyou, or perhaps those low-level gangs that are more harmless than fruit flies, ‘Port Mafia’ is Japan’s current most popular and most successful band.

It boggles the mind.

How can an entire country be so wrong?

Dazai is happy enough for his own band to consistently be in the Top 10s, but the thought of ‘Port Mafia’ and its rise to meteoric heights despite its vertically-challenged vocalist… Dazai really, really, really despises it.

So he’s here, spending time and money so he can catch any possible mistakes and wardrobe malfunctions at point-blank range.

Wardrobe malfunctions, you say?

Dazai is already waiting for it.

That hat-wearing dumbass is able to dance and jump around like a hyperactive rabbit all over the stage, reaching out (tiny) arms to his screaming fans and his hat doesn’t even budge from his (tiny) head. But his jacket is slowly falling off from his left shoulder and his tank top rides up and exposes the lower part of his stomach practically every other second. Dazai would be very surprised if he doesn’t end up catching sight of a nipple or two before the night is over.

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…Not that Dazai is looking forward to seeing a chibi’s nipple, since it’s probably as tiny and as red as the small fairy, but a wardrobe malfunction is surely a sign that the Port Mafia isn’t that good of a band if they can’t even afford well-fitted clothes!

Dazai had looked it up, after all. The hat that the chibi is wearing whenever he has a live performance is a custom-made fedora with a different sash design from his usual. And it’s very expensive, which Dazai thinks can be attributed to the fact that the manufacturer is sacrificing a great deal of dignity and eyesight in making such embarassing hats, so they must be compensated very heftily. The only other explanation is that there’s enough demand for the ugly hat to drive its price up—which, simply impossible.

But then again, Dazai lives in a world that could be so tasteless as to think that the ‘Port Mafia’ is deserving to be its top band…

But, surely the world can’t be that stupid?

In any case, Dazai is here for Research.

The glow stick, the T-Shirt with the print of the vocalist’s stupid catchphrase (“the party’s just getting started!”), the fan with “I ♥ Chuuya” on it… all those are just part of the disguise, okay?

There’s no need to misunderstand things, since Dazai has very kindly explained things.

And Dazai had explained it, multiple times. With annotated flowcharts, fifty-slide powerpoint presentations, with embedded videos of the tiny chibi’s performance, in case the person he’s explaining to is fortunate enough to not be familiar with the petit mafia. Quite unfortunately for Yokohama’s population, they’ve all been inflicted with the knowledge of Chuuya’s presence, so they all know about him. Dazai considers it a boon, really, because whenever Dazai played those videos, whoever’s watching it always asks him in exasperation about the hyper-focus on Chuuya’s face and body. The verbatim is along the lines of, ‘isn’t Port Mafia a band, why is your video just showing one person’, ‘Dazai-san, did you climb up the stage to get that kind of close-up of Chuuya-san’s bellybutton?’ and ‘Dazai, for the last time, we’re sick of accompanying you to stare at Chuuya’s face!’. See, even other people are sick of seeing Chuuya’s face!

Dazai’s protégé—their band’s vocalist, Atsushi—did try to stop him earlier from going for this Research Excursion. Atsushi did lament, “We’re actually in good terms with their members. Dazai-san, you’re not even a vocalist, why are you so set in competing with Chuuya-san?!”

…It’s why Atsushi is still a protégé. He hasn’t fully embraced his role, so he hasn’t understood the pressing need to know the ins and outs of their competitors, still can’t predict their competition’s breaths, actions, thrusts…

Dazai frowns.

Did Chuuya really have to thrust his hips forward to the audience like that? Can’t he just focus on singing?

It’s true that Chuuya’s too tiny to be seen clearly in a crowd, but during a Port Mafia concert, he gets to cheat his meager height and stand on an elevated platform! Chuuya’s tiny height doesn’t matter that much, like this! Each of his movements would be easily visible to the crowd of poor, tasteless people! And they can see him dancing around, thrusting along to the beat, and Dazai only has to squint hard and he can already see the glistening beads of sweat over the chibi’s abs!

It’s getting quite stuffy here. It’s too hot—is the Port Mafia not able to afford proper airconditioning for their concert venues? That’s just sad.

See, this is why that chibi needs to just stay put and focus on singing instead of jumping around. Instead of dancing around, patting the shoulders of his band members, laughing gamely at the audience who sings along with him, letting that Tachihara sing some of the lines… Doesn’t that chibi know? If Dazai is interested in hearing Tachihara sing the lines, he’d sign a petition to request for Tachihara to be the vocalist! But Dazai isn’t interested in hearing other (subpar) voices singing the lines that Dazai’s used to hearing in Chuuya’s voice!

It’s too much a mood whiplash! Dazai’s here, expecting to hear a tiny chibi, not anyone else!

Why can’t Chuuya understand that? It might be an affliction of his tiny brain… Again, that’s just sad. Chuuya’s band doesn’t even have smart people like Dazai to educate Chuuya about these things!

Also, since that shortstack is short enough to need a microscope to be seen, maybe Dazai should do everyone a favor and just hide the chibi inside his pockets? That way, nobody else gets to be inflicted by his presence. Really, OdaSaku would be so proud of his selflessness!

…but, hmm… Chuuya apparently has some new dance moves? Dazai feels his back sweat as he watches the slow gyration of those hips. He’s definitely complaining to the management for this lack of proper ventilation!

It seems that even the chibi is affected by the subpar airconditioning, because he’s shrugging off his jacket, exposing his clavicles and shoulderblades, as well as the fact that he apparently shaves his underarms. Dazai refocuses his video-camera, so he can confirm if the sheepdog’s armpits are as smooth as alleged. Dazai wonders if the small fairy is weird enough to exfoliate and moisturize his armpits.

Before Dazai can think more about that very pressing matter, his focus is arrested by the fact that Chuuya seems to be readying himself to launch his jacket towards the audience. That jacket must be dripping with sweat from the chibi… Dazai has a Duty to the people of Yokohama. He can’t let them suffer from getting hit in the face by a sweaty leather jacket, something that should smell so much like a wet dog…

So, it’s just part of Dazai’s selflessness.

There’s no need to misunderstand.

There’s a minor commotion, as Dazai showcases his hidden physical skills, diving and shoving people out of the way so that the jacket will land on his grip, instead of them. Really, he should receive an award for this sacrifice… he should receive the rest of that chibikko’s clothes. Not because he’s been brainwashed to liking that kind of fashion style. It would just bring him great joy to be able to burn those ugly clothes!

Clutching the sweaty jacket that somehow manages to smell nice, Dazai watches the rest of the concert while imagining Chuuya’s reaction to seeing his clothes burn in front of him.

The rest of the concert must have been nothing to write home about, because Dazai doesn’t remember the rest. He’s too busy with his imagination (which is much more creative than whatever antics the Port Mafia can do) and with intently examining every bit of exposed skin belonging to the sweaty chibi. Dazai feels his hair stick to his forehead, because it seems that the more he stares at the bared expanse of skin, the hotter he feels.

But the concert must have been concluded somehow, because Chuuya is shimmying out of the stage, his pants riding extra-low on his hips with each step. Dazai wonders if he’s coming down with something, because his throat feels very dry. He should be busying himself with grabbing a bottle of water, but his eyes are more focused with checking if the chibi remembered to properly wear underwear, because those pants are going very, very low and Dazai isn’t able to spot any underwear lines.

The concert is finished, but Dazai’s Research isn’t finished yet!

…It’s just as well that Dazai’s rich enough to be able to afford buying all of the backstage passes that were sold. After all, a chibi with a hoarse voice after singing for two straight hours, a chibi who’s all sweaty and loose-limbed, a chibi with his hair in disarray… such an ugly sight can’t be seen by anyone else.

Dazai makes his way to the backstage, gratified that the security already knows his face to not even bother asking him to show the passes stashed inside his wallet. It’s good that they have enough sense to read ‘wealth’ on his face and general aura.

“Ah, it’s the stalker Dazai-san again,” a lanky security guard says with dull surprise. Dazai doesn’t bother acknowledging him—he’s even lankier than Dazai, so he’s pretty sure he can take him on in a fight. Nevertheless, Dazai adds crosshairs on his mental repertoire of the staff working for the Port Mafia, intent on whining to Chuuya about a certain Mark Twain. Dazai is very aware of how much Chuuya hates getting whined at, after all.

Well, it’s not like it would matter much. Dazai isn’t barbaric enough to get himself involved in fistfights—he has enough faith in Chuuya’s predictability. If Chuuya hears trouble brewing, he usually dashes and enthusiastically gets involved, after all. The last time it happened—when someone had looked at Dazai wrong during the rehearsals for a talk show involving both of their bands, Chuuya didn’t even wait for the other party to start a fight. Dazai sighs as he fondly remembers the sight of Dostoevsky getting kicked in the nuts for trying to glare at him.

…Right.

So, Dazai’s pretty sure that he’ll win any fight this way.

Because everyone in the building has enough sense to recognize him right away, he’s easily able to reach Chuuya’s dressing room without any obstacles.

“Geh, it’s you again.”

Dazai beams. “Is that how you great people who spend money for a backstage pass? How scandalous, Chuuya!”

“It’s just you,” Chuuya says dismissively, fanning himself using his shirt. His (tiny) hands are clutching the hem of his (tiny) tank top, and Dazai is just really finding this pitiful, why can’t the Port Mafia afford fans or proper ventilation? Because of this oversight in budgeting, the (tiny) chibi is forced to make do with using his own shirt to cool down. More importantly, because of this oversight, Dazai now has a good view of the muscles on Chuuya’s chest, on the two cherry-red nipples on said chest. Dazai’s predictions are really very good. He knew he’d witness such sights when he set out earlier today.

In the name of Research, he shuffles closer, so he can get a better view. After spending a small fortune on the backstage passes, this should be part of his reward! In the name of Research, Dazai stands toe-to-toe with Chuuya, looking down to observe Chuuya’s body.

“Don’t just stand there,” Chuuya complains after a while.

So Dazai helps wipe the sweat off Chuuya’s abs.

Hey, isn’t this wrong?

He’s here to do Research, not get used as a rag!

…Hmm, since he’s already here, he might as well check something else he’s curious about?

Dazai leans down and sniffs Chuuya’s neck, comparing the scent there to the scent of the sweaty leather jacket that’s still in his hands.

How is this possible? What kind of witchcraft is the chibi practicing? He’s a small fairy—should he be treated as a small witch instead? Chuuya’s neck smells like musk and sweat, but it smells even better than the leather jacket! How can sweat smell nice?! It breaks the boundaries of science!

…Maybe Dazai’s nose is just being tricked. Dazai should sniff it longer, the true characteristics of the scent might appear after a few more minutes.

“You’re making me feel more sticky,” Chuuya protests with a huff, and retaliates by wrapping his sweaty arms around Dazai, making Dazai sticky as well. Well, joke’s on him, because Dazai’s already sweaty from earlier, so it’s not like he can get any worse! “What’s up with you today, you’re even clingier than usual.”

Dazai’s about to protest that he’s not clingy, because that’s reserved for idiots in love with their heads up in the clouds. Dazai’s here for Research, it’s totally different. But then again, he shouldn’t help the competition! If Chuuya’s under the impression that Dazai’s here for a reason other than Research, then that’s even better. So Dazai muffles his words against Chuuya’s neck, licks and bites at the skin there.

It’s all part of his great sacrifice. If Chuuya has embarrasingly bright bite marks on his neck, he’d stop wearing skimpy tank tops and he’d stop shrugging off his jacket! It’s a win-win for everyone.

“Are you jealous again?” Chuuya laughs a bit, as though he’s realizing something funny. “Let me guess, you wanted to make Tachihara choke on the mic after I handed it to him?”

“I’m not jealous,” Dazai corrects the chibi, because even though he knows that Chuuya is a hat-wearing dumbass, there’s a lower limit for such incorrect conclusions. “I have nothing to be jealous about.”

Dazai possesses a handsome face, high-IQ brains, banging body and overall perfection. He has no reason to be jealous of anyone—especially copycats when it comes to his bandage fashion!

“Oh. So you do know that you’re being unreasonable with your jealousy.”

“I’m not jealous,” Dazai repeats, a bit dismayed that Chuuya’s stupidity is more stubborn than expected.

“Sure. That’s why you didn’t refute wanting to make Tachihara choke.”

“If I wanted to listen to him sing, I wouldn’t spend money to be in the VIP area!”

“So you do admit that you wanted to hear me sing.” Chuuya sounds smug, like he’s won. Dazai can’t stomach the thought of Chuuya winning, especially against him, so Dazai tries to do damage control by blocking Chuuya’s mouth from forming that smug smirk.

After a few minutes, Dazai says breathlessly, “It’s just part of Research.”

Chuuya’s lips are swollen and spit-shiny—as they form a smug smirk. “Should I perform an encore just for you then?”

With that kind of smug invitation, Dazai has no other choice but make sure that he makes Chuuya lose his mind.

(The private viewing of the encore takes four hours, much to the costernation of Chuuya’s bandmates and the venue staff who just wants to pack up and leave on time for once in their lives, damn it.)

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