Atsushi sighed, rubbing his head. The airport was way too big. Too many gates, too many terminals, and they all looked the same. He checked the nearby screen displaying flight information, squinting to find his flight. Gate 92. He looked around, finally seeing a sign leading him to the international departure gates. He swore he’d gone that way before and never came across the number 92, but alright. Atsushi decided he’d pay more attention this time.
Truth be told, he was a little bit enchanted. He’d never been to an airport before, but he didn’t expect them to be so…
Noisy, glamorous, overwhelming. He was glad the sheer amount of people there mostly looked like they want nothing more but to get a good rest on a soft bed, but he was still a little bit on edge. There were way too many shops, too. He didn’t know airports were just a dramatic, and very expensive, shopping mall. Why couldn’t Dazai-san, or anyone else from the agency accompany him to America?
He knew the answer, it was because they had other jobs to do in this mission. A rogue ability user had escaped from prison and decided to take revenge on the ADA for putting her in there in the first place. She had gotten ahold of Naomi and Tanizaki, and escaped to the USA. Ranpo had deduced their location, but he was only able to narrow it down to the state they’re in. The other members were busy with her companions that had also escaped with her, except Kunikida, who was also sent to Los Angeles to capture her.
It was two days after he left that the Agency found out the true nature of her ability and decided they also needed Atsushi to help apprehend her.
“This is a last minute call to Mr. Nakajima Atsushi, would he please board the aircraft immediately. "
Atsushi’s head snapped up. That was his name. He was being called, and he had barely ten minutes to get there.
Oh my god.
His eyes homed in on a janitor. It was better than nothing. He asked him where his damn gate was. It took the poor employee a minute to recall the route, but he got it done. Atsushi thanked him. He had gone on life threatening missions before, surely finding his flight would be a piece of cake.
He ran, following the janitor’s words, up an escalator, forward, until he passed a toy shop with a giant dinosaur, and then left. His feet skidded to a stop in front of a carpeted queue, empty. Gate 92, he sighed in relief. He showed the attendant his boarding pass and passport, and then boarded the plane.
The flight attendant greeted him warmly and offered to show him to his seat, he showed his boarding pass to her, knowing him, he would manage to get lost inside the plane, too, if unassisted. She led him through the plane’s narrow walkway. Atsushi followed her, head ducked down, well aware of the other passengers’ stares boring at him.
“Here’s your seat,”
He looked up and his eyes widened, dread filling his very core. He felt the tiger crawling up his throat at the sight of his number one mortal enemy, sitting next to his seat. Yellow-purple eyes locked into dark, grey ones.
“Akutagawa,” he growled.
This was bad. This was really bad.
The mafioso sneered, “I thought animals weren’t allowed on the plane,”
Atsushi clenched his fists, "Oh, that's rich coming from you, Port Mafia dog. "
“Sir, the plane will take off in five minutes, please sit down and fasten your seat belt, ” the flight attendant smiled.
“Ah, oh, right,” he rubbed his head, saying excuse me to the passenger in the aisle seat, and somehow managed to sit his ass down without Rashoumon slicing him up or him transforming into a tiger from just how close he was to the wretched emo.
The flight attendant smiled at him expectantly.
“Ah, right, my seat belt,” He fumbled with the straps, “Umm,”
“Insert the metal fitting into the buckle of your seat belt, and pull the loose end of the belt to fasten it,” she supplied. Atsushi could see the amusement in Akutagawa’s eyes from the corner of his vision. He huffed, buckling his seatbelt.
“So you haven't been on a plane before,”
“Shut up. Have you?”
“Of course, many times. Sometimes privately, too,”
“If you’re so damn important then why are you in the economy class?”
“I lost a bet,”
“Oh, so even the Akutagawa cannot resist a bet,”
Akutagawa narrowed his eyes, “Be quiet or I will personally make you,”
“Is that a challenge?”
“Wait until this plane takes off, and we’ll see who’s on top once and for all,”
Atsushi stiffened, and not because of the accidental innuendo, “I won’t allow you to jeopardize the lives of the passengers,”
“What are you talking about, Jinko?”
“What? I meant what I said,”
The black parade incarnate let out a chuckle, “You’ll see,”
The half-tiger didn’t know if he was supposed to be offended. Akutagawa went back to staring at the window, so Atsushi finally peeled his attention away from the man and looked at his surroundings.
There was only one armrest the size of a stick separating him from Akutagawa. He shuddered at the thought of accidentally touching hands with him. In front of him was a folded up table and a screen, displaying information about the flight, complete with a remote below it. He eyed some magazines tucked in the seat pocket, and reached for one of them.
It was a magazine filled with products you can buy on the plane. There were some cute airplane charms, Kyouka would probably like them, but the price was enough to make him vomit.
“It’s better to buy those on the airport,”
“I do not recall asking for your opinion on every one of my actions,”
Akutagawa didn’t reply, simply raising his eyebrows. Now that he looked at it, did he even have eyebrows?
“Why are you wearing sunglasses on a plane?”
“You sitting in this plane is against the law,”
“Okay, and why are you wearing sunglasses on a plane?”
“Yes it is,” He emphasized it by fixing his glasses.
“You don’t even wear it outside ,” Atsushi waved his arm, frustrated.
“Why do you care so much? I can do what I want,”
“He does it for the aesthetic!!” Chuuya yelled from his seat in the business class.
“Nakahara-san! I do not!” Akutagawa retorted, a faint pink on his cheeks.
Atsushi had no idea how Chuuya could hear their conversation from literally twenty seats away, but he didn't try to question it. The red-head had his ways.
As if on cue, The engine whirred louder, and the plane started moving, after a while they were in the air. Atsushi looked at the window with gleaming eyes, seeing the city below them recede into mere miniatures. The city looked tiny from this high above the ground.
Akutagawa slammed it shut.
“What? This is my seat,”
“Don’t you want to look outside?”
“No I don’t, it’s too bright,”
“Then open it and don’t look!,”
“Get a window seat if you want to sightsee,” he coughed, reaching for a book in the seat pocket.
"Then why did you get a window seat if you're just going to close it the entire time!"
"Because it has more privacy and I can lean on the plane to sleep."
“Rock, paper, scissors. Best of three. If I win you’ll open the window.”
“If you lose?”
“Then, umm, you can close the window,”
“I would get the same benefit if I didn't accept your challenge,"
“Fine! Just be an asshole then,” Atsushi crossed his arms. His eyes burned slightly. He just wanted to look outside! It was his first time! Why was Akutagawa even here?
“Wait, why are you here?”
Akutagawa gave him an incredulous look, “To go to the United States.”
“I know. But why?”
“I didn’t know you were so chatty, Jinko,” he replied, putting his book down, earning him a small ‘shut up’ from Atsushi, “A mission, that’s all you need to know,”
Atsushi used that moment to nudge the book off his lap.
“I saw that,”
“It was the wind,”
Akutagawa just closed his eyes and bent down to fetch it. Atsushi immediately snapped up the cover of the window.
“Oi!” A black tendril wrapped around his wrist. Akutagawa used his hand to close it back down. Atsushi frowned and snatched his wrist back, rubbing the sore spot where Rashoumon had roped around it.
“Let’s settle this over a game,” his enemy reached for the remote and unlatched it. He tapped a few buttons, selecting his preferred game, “Trivia,”
“You can do that?” he said, mimicking his actions.
Much to the chagrin of the third person in their section, their trivia game was loud, even louder than a trivia game should be. Akutagawa kept cursing. Atsushi kept yelling. At some point Rashoumon was activated again. The poor businessman just wanted to sleep. The people sitting around them should've gotten a refund just because of this.
Akutagawa gripped his remote. How the fuck , does he know who the composer of the B-side of an underground country band is! He stowed his remote with much more force than he should have, and crossed his arms, grumbling.
"I won!" Atsushi exclaimed, "Now open the window,"
"Open it yourself."
"I said you'll open the window, not me!"
"Fine!" He bit out, slamming open the window. Atsushi winced at the sound it made, "You're insufferable,"
"Hey, you're the one who chose the game,"
Akutagawa was about to spit out a sharp riposte, but one look at his eyes and he swallowed it down. Why the fuck does he have to have those sunset eyes that look so beautiful when the sun rays hit them and they'd sparkle. He buried his face in his hands, muttering sentences along the lines of, "I will actually die in this metal vessel," and something about “being trapped in this hell in the heavens,”
Atsushi rolled his eyes, "You're so dramatic,"
"Jinko, I will fucking kill you,"
"I will cut up your legs into bite sized pieces and feed it to the cats,"
"Smash your skull on a wall and watch your brain explode,"
"Break your ribs open a--"
"Excuse me, Sir. Here is the menu for lunch, please tell us what you wish to have when the cart comes around," A flight attendant interrupted, stopping Akutagawa's very graphic barrage of sentences.
Somehow, the businessman beside Atsushi had thanked her very passionately. He gave a side eye to Akutagawa and his anger management issues, who had already opened his book again, menu tucked away in his seat pocket.
He opened up the piece of paper and placed his elbow on the armrest, bumping into Akutagawa's arm. He flinched, extracting his hand immediately.
This flight was ten hours. Ten hours next to Akutagawa. Ten hours next to a very homicidal mafioso, who was also his mortal enemy. Atsushi wanted to cry . He shouldn't have accepted the mission. Anything but this. Lord.
"Move over, Jinko,"
"I'm going to the washroom,"
He frowned, if he'd kept sitting Akutagawa wouldn't be able to go to the toilet. If Akutagawa was kept from the toilet long enough there was a considerable chance he could pee his pants, or even worse, shit himself. Was that the key to defeat him? Dying from mortification like a Sim character?
"I said move it!"
The emo stood up, activating Rashoumon and wrapping it around Atsushi's waist.
"If you don't move this fucking second I will throw you out of the plane,"
Atsushi eyed the aisle seat, it was empty. He was the only thing blocking Akutagawa from release. The man really looked like he was an inch away from committing genocide. Maybe it was best to let him pee.
He unbuckled his seatbelt and moved to the walkway.
"Fucking finally," Akutagawa scoffed, shoving him onto the floor with Rashoumon.
"Sir, are you okay? I saw him pushing you, were you being harassed?" A flight attendant was quickly on his side, helping him to his feet.
Harassed? No shit he was harassed. On all levels including, and especially, physical.
"Oh, no I wasn't. We were just umm sparring buddies. Y-yeah, he and I used to, uhh, do martial arts together and that was our way to always train ourselves. Using, you know, sudden, unexpected attacks," he rubbed his head, letting out a small laugh to further emphasize his lies. He didn't even know why he'd defended that prick. Atsushi just wanted to enjoy his first airplane ride without bringing more drama to the table.
"Ahh, I see. Please be careful, sir,"
"Ahaha yeah, I will,"
He sat down, the other passengers were drilling holes with their stares again. He sighed.
He's not gonna survive this.
"You're not eating?" Atsushi asked, mouth half full with rice.
"Tch, don't talk with your mouth full. It's gross,"
He swallowed his food.
"You're not eating?"
"No you haven't. You only ate the bread, and the fruits,"
"That's enough for me,"
Atsushi squinted his eyes, "No, it's not. You're just a picky eater,"
"And you shove everything down your throat," Akutagawa rolled his eyes, "Like a pig,"
"You--" Atsushi nearly snapped the chopsticks in half, "Fine then, starve yourself for all I care,"
Atsushi deeply regretted and hated the fact that he actually did care. Just a little bit. Especially when his coughing fits began. Sometimes, very rarely, he'd actually look frail, all pale skin and heaving chest. And in those moments, he always didn't know what to do, emotions caught between loathing and concern.
He shook his head, washing down his throat with a cold glass of apple juice. He didn't care.
It was four hours into the flight. Surprisingly, no blood had been spilled. Akutagawa had tucked his sunglasses away (thank God) and drifted to sleep, despite the uncomfortable position. Atsushi had assumed he was the type to flinch awake at every sudden noise but so far, he'd been really still.
He eyed Akutagawa's book. 1Q84. Hm. He'd actually seen it in bookstores. Surely he wouldn't mind if he just took a peek…
Rashoumon wrapped around his wrist as soon as he had reached out for the book. Dark grey eyes snapped open. What was usually anger in his eyes were hazed with drowsiness, diluting it into something closer to disapproval.
"What are you doing?"
"Borrowing your book,"
"I don't think taking someone's book while they were asleep counts as borrowing,"
"Fine," he pulled his wrist, setting it free, "Can I borrow your book, dear Akutagawa?"
Atsushi had injected that sentence with the most sarcasm he could muster, complete with an eye roll. The walking human angst replied with his own roll of the eyes and a quick, "Sure, but so much as a tear and I'll rip you open,"
"You're so dramatic," He mumbled, opening the first page of the book. There was Akutagawa's name written on it, in beautiful calligraphy. Of course Akutagawa would put his name in each one of his belongings.
"Hey, did you write this?"
"So what if I did?"
"It's nice," he admitted. There was a cough from Akutagawa, but soon the man was out again.
He lazily flipped through the pages, not really absorbing the full meaning of the words. He'd gotten to the part where the protagonist had stepped off the highway when the airplane shook. He dropped the book, heart leaping to his throat.
What was that ?
He let out a squeak as the plane dropped what he felt was a hundred feet's distance.
What's happening? Is the plane going to crash?
His hands gripped the armrests, willing the plane to just stay still. The businessman next to him didn't so much as look away from his magazine.
"Flight attendants, please get back to your seats,"
He gasped, surely something bad was gonna happen if even the attendants were ordered to go to their seats, right? Atsushi knew he'd technically been through much worse, like having to parachute down an airship that was about to get hit by a plane, or stabbed multiple times by the man next to him, but this was out of his control. He was strapped to his seat, and there were more than a hundred people here. If the plane did crash then there would be a lot of casualties. He wasn’t even sure he could survive a thirty eight thousand feet drop himself.
He shuddered, closing his eyes. It was raining outside, he could hear it over the slight hum of the airplane.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are going through a patch of bad weather right now. Please fasten your seatbelts and stay in your seats. We are expecting some heavy turbulence and we will get back to you later."
Atsushi yelped. He would've jumped out of his seat had it not been for the seatbelt keeping him still. Thunder, thunder was bad right? Surely that could damage the airplane.
The airplane shook and trembled with the force of the weather. Not one second later, it dropped even lower than before.
Atsushi let out a scream, reflexively grabbing onto Akutagawa with one of his paws. Wait, his paws? Atsushi gasped, retracting his transformed hand.
"Jinko, what the fuck ."
"Akutagawa!" He whisper-yelled, a small drop of relief filling his lungs, "We're gonna die?"
Grey eyes bore into him with the incredulity of a thousand British men.
"You didn't notice? IT'S LITERALLY THUNDERING OUTSIDE,"
Akutagawa flinched at the volume, "So?"
He flinched again, can this guy fucking tone it down for a second.
"WERE GONNA DIE!"
"SHUT THE FUCK UP,"
"You guys okay out there?" Chuuya, again.
"I'm fine. Fucking Jinko here, though."
"Just don't crash the plane, kay?"
Atsushi saw Akutagawa rolling his eyes at his mentor's remark and he too, had the urge to do so, but restrained himself in fear of synchronizing with his enemy. He opted for a scoff instead. Who's the edgy one now?
The plane shook again, and Atsushi let out a very embarrassingly whiny whimper. His edgy facade sure lasted long. He wanted to die. Just crash the plane right now. Akutagawa is fucking staring at him and he just wants to--
"You're--" Akutagawa began, but his biting sentence died in his throat when he saw the genuine fear and anxiety in the other's eyes. He breathed in. What did that matter to him? He'd seen those eyes look at him with that same fear. So why was it that in this particular situation he actually wanted those negative emotions to disappear?
He sighed, surrendering, "It's fine, Jinko. We're not going to die,"
Atsushi looked up. Akutagawa's voice was steady, and it contained no malice whatsoever. Was he trying to comfort him?
"There are more chances of me killing you with Rashoumon than you dying in a plane crash. Even if we did go down, Chuuya can activate his ability at the last second," He continued, avoiding the other's inquisitive gaze.
"He's done that before?"
"Well, it was a much smaller plane."
Atsushi's mouth gaped, as if he didn't know the fact that the gravity wielder had once shoved an entire building inside a dragon's mouth.
"Okay." Atsushi finally let out, after trying and failing to decipher his enemy's previous actions for three minutes.
"Okay now shut the fuck up and let me sleep."
"Oi! Akutagawa!" He nudged, "Akutaga--"
Atsushi, now unfazed by the other's tendency to explode, continued on.
"Look, we're landing," He remarked, pointing to the window, which showed the buildings below them, sparkling with the gleam of daylight. They were above the famed land of 'freedom', and this was Atsushi's first time abroad. He couldn't help the eager, enchanted glint in his eyes.
Akutagawa rubbed his eyes and squinted, barely coming off from his sleep, "Oh for fuck's sake,"
"Don't be so grumpy, you're ruining the view,"
" I'm going to ruin you ,"
"Uh huh, now shut up. Also, move a bit to the left, I can't see,"
When Akutagawa didn't budge, Atsushi resorted to shoving his face to the seat in front of him, which nearly got him a stab from Rashoumon. The tiger man squinted, ready to retort.
"Stop it. Just fucking switch with me." Akutagawa finally said, exasperation seeping into his voice. Damn the window seat. He knew he shouldn't have ignored the bad feeling he got when he'd booked the damn thing.
Akutagawa nearly gagged at the sparkle that suddenly filled the other's eyes. He was allergic to anything that's not anger, despair, and death, "Yeah, now move,"
Atsushi nodded, unbuckling his seatbelt and asking if the businessman in the aisle seat would kindly stand up for a second. Akutagawa rolled his eyes at the accusing look the man gave him but didn't pursue his irritation further. Instead opting to quickly settle down into his seat in the middle of the very giddy tiger man and the now-sullen boomer.
"Akutagawa, look! It's the Statue of Liberty!" Atsushi gasped, pointing at a faint silhouette on the horizon. Honestly, Akutagawa just wanted this damn plane to land . He had no energy to deal with the other's excitable mood.
"You're starting to sound like Nakahara-san, you know,"
He blinked, "How do you know what he sounds like?"
Atsushi raised an eyebrow, looking at Akutagawa as if he'd just asked if pigs could fly, "Dazai talks about him, like, a lot. And now I know more about Nakahara-san than I really want to."
"Oh." That actually made sense. Chuuya also had a tendency to ramble about his former partner for hours. The urge to gag rose up again.
"Do you think they're dating?"
"Who the fuck knows. I really don't want to know what they do with their dicks, or feelings. Now just, stop talking. Please ."
Atsushi slightly cringed at his choice of words, no doubt having a very unpleasant image of his mentor in his mind. It quickly left him when the pilot announced that they were going to land soon. He stuck his eyes back to the window, seeing the landscape below him magnify into life sized buildings with awe. If he had felt a slight tremor of fear at the way the plane harshly touched down, he didn't show it.
Akutagawa breathed out a big sigh of relief the moment they landed. He waited until the plane had stopped completely and then some because he really didn't want to be squished with the other passengers, to Atsushi's chagrin. Akutagawa swore he would've bolted out of the plane had they not switched seats.
He got up when most of the people had filed out, grabbing his suitcase. Atsushi followed suit. He glanced at Chuuya's empty seat in the business class. He'd be a bit angry at him for making him wait, but he should've expected it. Atsushi was on his tail as he walked out the door, through the jet bridge, and into the immigration section.
He looked back to a sheepish Atsushi, lightly scratching his head, "I, uhh, can you help me out the airport?"
Oh fuck this shit .
He didn't say that. Instead, he put on the most exasperated expression he could muster, which, to anyone that saw, wasn't that much different than his usual poker face, and let out the biggest sigh of all sighs he had ever let out.
"Hell no, go ask someone else," was what he wanted to say, but that fucking Atsushi's puppy eyes were too good for someone that was supposed to be a fucking feline.
" Fine ." He gritted out.
"Ehehe, thanks," Atsushi said, giving him a small smile.
Akutagawa rolled his eyes for the umpteenth time that day, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't feel some kind of way about that smile.
As they walk to the immigration section, he thought that it was one hell of a miracle that their flight hadn't ended up in Air Crash Investigation.
Dazai pouted at his phone, knowing full well that the red-head couldn’t see it, “Aww, don’t be so mean. I just wanted to check up on my favourite--”
“Right, okay, what do you want?”
He chuckled, imagining the blush staining the other’s cheeks as he said that, “How did it go?”
“How did spying on our mentees go? Fucking hell, Dazai, you should pay for my broken eardrums,”
“Ohoho, were they that loud?”
Chuuya rolled his eyes. He didn’t see it, but he knew he did, “Not that way, you pervert. Their damn trivia game sounded like a battlefield. You also didn’t tell me your subordinate was scared of turbulence. Could’ve saved me my right ear.”
“It was his first time. Anyone would be scared. Besides, you were the one that agreed to my plan,”
“It’s not like you gave me a choice, you know. Honestly, how did you even find out the seat Akutagawa booked, you know what I don’t want to know.”
“Tell Akutagawa to change his passwords, it’s been a long time~”
“Oh, and before you ask, no one got hurt. The most violent they got was when Akutagawa pushed the tiger boy to the ground. Attempts at violence, though, there were a lot, mostly from Akutagawa’s side.”
“Ahh, predictable. They also did have some… unusually tender moments, right?”
“I wouldn’t call it tender, but Akutagawa did try to comfort him. After we landed I switched off the microphone, though. My ears had had enough,”
“Ranpo was on point on this one! So shoving them into a plane seemed to tighten their relationship, huh? I should try that more often. With you,” He added, lilting his voice flirtatiously, and chuckled when Chuuya all but stuttered his reply.
“Tch, I’m not doing this again, just so you know. It was uncomfortable enough the first time.”
“That’s mean, Chuuya, hanging up without saying goodbye~~” Dazai said, smiling at the phone in his hand. Yosano, who had come to the office to pick up her purse, was privy to his sappy smile and wanted to undo her actions to before she even opened the door and just walk out of the agency, purse be damned.