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cuteness is in the eye of the beholder

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“Once a person is affected by this Ability, said person will start to manifest an Ability similar to their beloved.”

Atsushi blinks. And blinks some more. And then, for good measure, blinks again, looking terribly like someone who had his eyes poked by a sand-crusted finger. The sight in front of him doesn’t change.

“…Is having such a blatantly self-serving Ability really okay?!”

In front of him, there’s a tiny tiger cub nestled on top of wrinkled clothes. Tiny tiger cub Akutagawa growls, looking very much like a kitten sprayed with a water hose.

“Brother…” The lower part of Gin’s face may be covered in a mask, but there’s no hiding the worry in her voice. She’s a few steps behind her transformed brother. Further behind her is the crumpled form of Higuchi, her palm pressed against her nose and her other hand clutching her phone. There’s a blissed-out expression on her face, and on her phone: a video of a black tiger cub practically swimming in the remains of Akutagawa’s clothes.

While most of Japan is enjoying a week-long holiday, the Port Mafia is apparently keen to host a party for the legal face of its organization. And on this very same party, there’s apparently a rogue Ability User who’s managed to sneak himself in, causing havoc amongst the attendees. All of the Executives have been affected—including the recently-promoted Akutagawa. This Ability User manages to escape in the confusion that erupts.

And because the President is apparently, secretly, a sell-out and a softie when it comes to a certain mafia Boss, Fukuzawa easily agrees to lend the minds of his detectives to assist in figuring out the hiding location of the Ability User, so that Dazai can do them a favor and cancel the Ability with one touch. Dazai is very vocal in his complaints about being too lazy to lift a pinky to assist the Port Mafia, though he is also very vocal in laughing as he helps Higuchi video the (ineffectively) growling Akutagawa who seems to be succeeding in making himself so dizzy as he’s unable to extricate himself from his suddenly-too-big-on-him clothes.

So there they are. Kunikida’s rubbing at his forehead as he takes notes about the matter; Dazai’s… enjoying himself watching the wreckage, running about the hall that’s been closed off to outsiders, as though he’s searching for something. And Atsushi’s… still staring at Akutagawa.

Akutagawa’s eyes are wide and shiny and there’s blatant murder written in his gaze as he snaps his jaws towards Atsushi’s direction.

Given that he’s still swimming in his clothes and he’s so small and he can’t seem to get the hang of standing on four limbs, he actually looks—

Very cute.

Atsushi slowly takes out his phone and starts taking a lot of pictures.

Akutagawa seems to have been revived by the sight of Atsushi obtaining blackmail material, and Akutagawa promptly rolls towards Atsushi, immediately discarding his weakness at walking on four legs.

“Oh my god, I cannot believe this, that’s so cute,” Atsushi ends up rambling, even as the tiger cub ends up gnawing at his pants.

An hour is wasted this way, Atsushi’s phone’s memory dying from the abuse of having so much pictures taken in quick succession. Akutagawa ends up tiring himself out and he barely is able to growl when Atsushi picks him up and scratches his neck and back.

Dazai makes himself scarce in the meantime, disappearing to who-knows-where.

Thankfully for the integrity of the Armed Detective Agency, Kunikida is able to get a proper account of the events from Hirotsu and Gin.

Based on his notes, the rogue Ability User they’re looking for has an Ability that works most likely via aerial transmission. The Ability User is an Asian male with black hair, roughly 6 feet tall and has no other distinguishing features. This Ability User is also expected to make a monetary demand from the Port Mafia in exchange for the cancellation of the Ability.

“The Port Mafia will not give in to such demands,” Mori ever-so-calmly says while lacing his fingers together. Elise is notably absent from around him. “The moment we discover their hideout, we shall strike with full force.”

“There is a possibility that the Ability will not get cancelled even with the user’s death,” Kouyou speaks up, though her gaze seems to be boring holes into the just-reappeared Dazai.

Atsushi looks up from his spot on the floor (‘playing’ with Akutagawa tired him out a bit) and observes his mentor. Dazai looks… quite flushed. Atsushi would say that he looks drunk, but Atsushi’s seen Dazai and Yosano demolish bottles of sake together and he’s never seen his mentor this red-cheeked. Akutagawa seizes the moment and bites Atsushi’s finger. Atsushi promptly forgets about his mentor (after all, Dazai-san will know what to do, whatever it is!) and refocuses on petting Akutagawa’s fur with the background music of Akutagawa’s weakened growls.

“We are taking the Ability User in custody,” Kunikida insists. “We’re not killing anyone.”

Mori simply smiles and bares his teeth. Kouyou sighs and mutters something about her power growing considerably weaker, like it’s been chained by something.

Atsushi’s ears picked up the mutterings and resolutely ignores the fact that the description sounds way too familiar. Like, ‘isn’t that President Fukuzawa’s Ability?!’ type of familiar.

…speaking of chains and ‘familiar’ things…

“By the way, where is Chuuya-san?”

“That’s right,” Kunikida adds. “I’ve yet to get his account of the events.”

There’s a couple of coughing sounds. Kouyou glares harder towards Dazai’s direction. Dazai raises both hands, as though to say that he’s harmless and blameless. It doesn’t work, because there’s a very smug grin playing on his face. More importantly, his lips are swollen and spit-shiny, like he’s been bitten and slobbered upon by an overly-enthusiastic animal. He’s never looked particularly sharp with his clothing, but he’s also blatantly missing a shirt button. Sometimes, Atsushi wonders if it’s possible for his mentor to go through one day without antagonizing anyone.

“I promise I didn’t see the chibikko,” Dazai singsongs, and then adds without a care for the mental trauma of everyone around him, “he’s too small and the closet he shoved me into is too dark~♪”

Kouyou snarls and draws out her sword, considerably slower than her usual. Dazai, for his part, practically flies backwards, a red glow enveloping his body as he’s somehow able to manipulate gravity now. It only brings to light some embarrassing revelations about the relationships between certain members of the Agency and the Port Mafia.

Akutagawa mewls and bites his finger.

Increasingly fond, Atsushi sighs and decides that it’d be better if he just focuses his entire attention on the most adorably disgruntled tiger cub on the whole planet. He has a feeling that things are not going to get resolved anytime soon.