Chapter 1: Chuuya's Home!
A gust of wind rolled over the helm of the sparkling front liner, lifting a certain black hat off of a certain orange head and sending it on a one way route to the blue water below.
The one and only Chuuya Nakahara swore under his breath, immediately lurching against the golden railing and reaching out a gloved hand.
Before his iconic hat could quite make contact with the waves, it froze midair and with the unmistakable force of gravity, spun back along its previous trajectory and safely into the little man's hands.
"Mm, that really is a neat trick you've got there."
Chuuya carefully placed the hat back over his head, then turned to see who had spoken. Standing behind him was a sweet young woman with a cascade of brown curls. There was nothing outwardly threatening about her. But after their shared assignment in the States, Chuuya knew better.
"Miss Shelley," Chuuya said, "I didn't realize you were on this ship."
"Really?" Mary Shelley said, joining him at the rail, "I thought it was quite obvious. Besides,someonehad to escort you back to Yokohama."
Chuuya turned so now that his back was turned to the ocean and elbows bracing against the railing. "Yeah?" He sound loudly than probably necessary, "Well, we both know I'm more than capable of handling myself."
He glared irritably at her in the corner of his eye, "I know you're just here to give the Boss his money."
Mary closed her eyes and giggled in response.
While it was true that he had sworn his loyalty to the Port Mafia -- that didn't mean he was happy about being ordered to go all the way the United States of America for an assignment. Not to mention that after that whole debacle with the Guild, he was less than fond of the place.
However, the quickly recovering Guild had offered quite a sum of money in exchange for his services. So who was his Boss to refuse? That man had practically hurled Chuuya at those Guild fellows.
While Chuuya did have to admit the vintage in the States hadn't been at all bad, as the frontliner he was currently on pulled into Yokohama harbor --the only feeling that filled him was relief.
Finally, that assignment wasover.
The ship docked. Mary offered Chuuya her hand, which he promptly walked past. Unfazed, she followed him off the liner, same cheery smile on her face.
"So Chuuya, excited to be home? Are they having a big fancy party at the Mafia?" she asked as they walked through the crowd on the dock, headed for the city.
"A big fancy party...?" Chuuya echoed. He was momentarily distracted by the image of Mori cracking open a new cask expertly aged wine before being ground in reality He shook his head, "Nah, that's not like Port Mafia. You should be able to get to the Boss uninterrupted."
"Oh?" Mary said, eyes tracking something at their side, "just a welcome committee then?"
"Of course not," Chuuya said, angrily for some reason, "We're the damnmafia, why would we waste time with a welcome committee? "
He would do what he always did. Report back to the Boss then head out for whatever job came next. But...well...he really didn't want to admit it. But the idea of someone being excited to have him back was kinda...nice.
Not many people were exited to see him. You know, considering the whole ruthless commander of gravity and total destruction thing.
Well. To be fair, the last time he had returned from a trip overseas, hehadbeen greeted by a certain captured Osamu Dazai who promptly tricked him into providing information and escaping. But that wasn't the type of exited that Chuuya was thinking of.
He shook his head again.
Where were these thoughts coming from? He was Chuuya Nakahara! Since when did he care what people thought of him?
"No welcome committee?" Mary Shelley said, "Then what's that over there?"
"Ha?" Chuuya said, coming to a stop and following her gaze.
Standing a short way from them in the midst of the crowd -- could it be? The Mafia's Akutagawa and Higuchi?
Why were they here?
"Ugh, I don't see him anywhere." Higuchi said, "Are you certain this is the place Akutagawa-Senpai?"
"Yes," Akutagawa said. He was being less obvious than Higuchi, but it was clear that he too was surveying the crowd. "That is exactly what Mori-san told me."
He was holding some sort of funky looking poster for whatever reason.
Chuuya elbowed his way through the crowd to the two of them, Mary at his heels. "Akutagawa, Higuchi," he said.
The two of them turned, and eyes immediately lit up. "Chuuya!" They cried in unison.
Chuuya looked back and forth between them, "is there something wrong? Did something happen? Does the Boss have any orders from me?"
"What?' Higuchi said, blinking rapidly as if coming out of a trance. "What? No! We're just here to welcome you home!"
"Oh." Chuuya said, "Er, I mean, thank you." A strange feeling filled him. Something light and almost warm. But, it was being overshadowed by something else...
Perplexion. Chuuya was perplexed.
That sort of behavior wasn't uncommon for Higuchi. She tended to be a lot nicer compared to most of the mafia.
But still...there was something off.
That 'nicer' behavior. Wasn't that...only ever aimed towards Akutagawa?
Chuuya looked to Akutagawa, who was coughing quietly in his hand. Ah. That made sense. The poor girl probably just wanted an excuse to hang out with the guy. That seemed about right.
Higuchi elbowed Akutagawa roughly.
"What?" he snapped.
"What do you think?" she hissed back.
Chuuya blinked. Did she look, mad at him? No no, he was seeing things. Higuchi idolized Akutagawa. She would never...
"Show him the poster you've been working on all week!"
Akutagawa scowled, then blushed and turned away, flipping over the poster. It was sparkly and covered in glitter glue. A badly drawn collection of stick figures that either represented the members of the Port Mafia or celery stalks were scattered around the paper.
In bright, big bubble letters it read:WELCOME HOME CHUUYA!
And inslightlysmaller text below it:
EVERYONE LOVES YOU!!!
"Aw," Mary said, clasping her hand together. "So the Port Mafia really is just a bunch a softies!"
Chuuya turned bright red at the insult to his livelihood. "Likehell they are!" he shouted and punched a whole through the poster.
The fearsome, murderous, stone-faced, depraved dog of the mafia, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, looked down at Chuuya with a look of blatant betrayal on his face.
"Uh," Chuuya said, taking a step back. Oh no. Higuchi was going tomurderhim.
"Don't cry in front of Chuuya-san!" Higuchi exclaimed. She ripped a handkerchief out of her pocket and thrusted it in Akutagawa's face, "Chuuya-san deserves better than your tears!"
Akutagawa took it and yelled into it, "I'm sorry I'm a failure!"
Mary Shelley placed a hand over her mouth to hide an amused smile.
Meanwhile, Chuuya watched his subordinates in horror.
Something veryverywrong was afoot.
Chapter 2: I Haven't Been Gone For That Long, Have I?
Unfortunately, this strangeness only continued.
As they walked through Yokohama to the Port Mafia buildings, Higuchi and Akutagawa stuck as close to Chuuya as possible. Higuchi yelling at any passerbys who stared too long and Akutagawa casually using his skill,Rashomon,to knock whatever happened to be in their path to a side -- be it person or thing.
"I didn't realize how beloved you are by your subordinates, Chuuya." Mary said pleasantly as she watched this all unfold.
"Er," Chuuya said, lowering his hat slightly over his face, "Yeah, I guess."
This was odd. This wasreallyodd.
Had something happened to these two while he was away? For goodness sake, Higuchi was treating Chuuya like how she would treat Akutagawa! She practically showered him with compliments when all he did was cross the street without getting run over.
"With such grace and beauty!" she said, sparkles in her eyes, "Chuuya-san! You truly are the best at crossing the street."
And Akutagawa was even stranger.
"Please compliment me." he said at an intersection.
Akutagawa glanced down, a focused look overcoming his usually vacant eyes.
He tightly clenched his fists, "If you acknowledge my strength Chuuya-san...it would be all I need..."
Chuuya stared for a solid moment. Slowly, he rose his hand, then slapped the guy across the face.
"What thehell?" Chuuya barked out, "Why are you talking to me like I'm that lunatic Dazai?Eh?"
Akutagawa's fingers twitched up to where Chuuya had hit him. Inexplicably, he started tearing up again.
"Stop it already,Senpai!" Higuchi shouted, flailing about, "Not in front of Chuuya-san!Not again!"
Oh come on, Chuuya thought, backing up a bit. He was a little more than weirded out by that point.I haven't been gone forthatlong, have I?
Perhaps this was all some elaborate prank?
Dimly, in the back of his mind, he thought of Dazai. He quickly dismissed that notion however. Yes, Dazai did like messing with him. But surely that man had more important things to be doing at that oh-so-great Armed Detective Agency of his.
For at least the third time today, Chuuya found himself shaking his head.
Hopefully answers would await him at the mafia...
Chapter 3: ...Maybe It's Not That Bad?
They couldn't have arrived at the Port Mafia any sooner.
Akutagawa and Higuchi briefly squabbled over who would open the door for Chuuya, Mary giggling at the display.
Annoyed, Chuuya ducked around them and went to go get it himself. Thousands of possibilities for their out-of-character behavior had filled his head over the course of their walk. Was this a bet of some kind? A joke? A hidden camera T.V show?
There was absolutelyno waythat they were acting like this because they actually missed him that much. It wasn't that he was on bad terms with either party. Just, their relationship wasn't like that. They were associates, comrades. Not...not whatever this was.
Chuuya didn't have a whatever-this-was with anyone.
That he knew for certain.
He blinked. What? Sad? No, not sad. He was Chuuya Nakahara! He was tough! He didn'twanta whatever-this-was.
Growling, he shoved open the door.
Aside from the light coming through the doorway, it was completely dark inside. Chuuya squinted, but was unable to make out a single thing. The shutters appeared to be closed, lights off.
The lobby of the of the ever-busy organism that was the Port Mafia building seemed to be, for once, completely still.
Wait. No. Not completely.
Something to the left was glittering in the darkness. A blade.
"Akutagawa, Higuchi, there's something there!" Chuuya said, throwing out an arm with such force that the coat he kept over his shoulders swayed with the motion.
Before he had a chance to use his gravity-manipulation to force the attacker out of their hiding spot - the fluorescent lights came on with a blinding whiteflash.
Chuuya's eyes welled with tears at the sudden brightness. Just barely, he glimpsed the knife's owner, crouched over a stack of boxes like an alley cat,
The Port Mafia assassin? Why would she-
Chuuya didn't get a chance to finish the thought. Gin hurled towards him with frightening speed. Chuuya doubled back, only to be assaulted by a crushing weight slamming into him from the right.
Chuuya tried to jerk away, then stopped when his eyes landed on pair of violet ones. Standing right in front of him was the leader of the infamous Black Lizard, Hirotsu Ryuro.
"What-" Chuuya bit out, "-what's the meaning of this?"
To his left, Gin was holding him in place. To his right, Tachihara. He could easily use his ability to fend them off, but he was fearing something much fouler at play. The Black Lizard would not attack him without direct orders. What could this possibly mean?
Hirotsu regarded Chuuya over his nose with a guarded expression on his face.
Chuuya glared back, doing his best to hide his mounting panic.
That was when Hirotsu broke out into a huge grin.
"Welcome home, Chuuya!"
It was at that very moment that it dawned upon Chuuya Nakahara that he was not being restrained by the Black Lizard, but instead at the center of what appeared to be a group hug.
The knife that he had seen in the darkness was at Gin's hip.
Chuuya looked over his shoulder to see Higuchi, Akutagawa, and Mary had shoved their way in through the door.
"You didn't have to jump out like that!" Higuchi cried, storming over, "What are you, boa constrictors? Let the man breathe!"
The Black Lizard released Chuuya at once and dipped into steep bows.
"Sorry Nakahara" Tachihara practically shouted, "I didn't realize you couldn't breathe!"
"Forgive us," Gin added in that soft voice of hers.
"Yeah, yeah" Chuuya said, rubbing his neck awkwardly. He had not been hugged since who knew when, let alone group-hugged.
With the Black Lizard bowed down, Chuuya could now see that the lobby was filled with Port Mafia members. At the center, a table that had most definitely not been there before. On top it was a spread of various foods and pastries.
And above that, a banner with that same bubbly letter font from Akutagawa's poster
WELCOME HOME CHUUYA!
And in slightly smaller font below it.
EVERYONE LOVES YOU!
Chuuya made a small choking sound, but was otherwise stunned still.
Was this...really happening?How?
Like he had told Mary back on the docks, they were thedamn mafia.
"Come Chuuya!" Koyo -- who was sitting at the table -- said, waving a hand, "Try some of the beef, it's wagyu!"
"Wait wait, first tell me somethin'" Kajii was leaning over a stereo with a pair of lemon-shaped headphones around his neck, "what songs do you want to listen to? Any favorites?"
"Chuuya! Do you like the decorations?"
"How was the assignment, Chuuya?"
"I'm so happy you're back, Chuuya!"
That last voice was awfully close. Chuuya looked down to see an all too familiar child grinning up at him.
"Q?" he shrieked, jumping back to put distance between himself and that walking disaster. He looked wildly about at his unconcerned comrades,"Why is Q free?"
Koyo shrugged, taking a sip of some shimmering drink, "They said they wanted to help with the big fancy party."
"So you set them free?"
"So we set them free."
"I don't believe it," Chuuya said, "this is ridiculous - I need to speak with the Boss. Where is Ogai Mori-"
The lobby fell silent as the formidable boss of the Port Mafia stepped out of the elevator, Elsie at his hip.
He looked over the members of his mafia before closing his eyes and letting out an exasperated sigh. Sometimes it was easy to forget that Mori was not as young as he used to be -- but at times like these, there was something about his aura that highlighted the wrinkles on his face.
"Now someone please tell me," he said, "why no one alerted me that Chuuya-kun had arrived?"
"Boss-" Chuuya began, "Q is-"
"I wanted to be apart of the big suprise!" Mori went on with a sulky flourish, "now I just have to settle for the dramatic entrance."
"Sorry Boss," the lobby murmured, not sounding sorry at all.
"Ah, whatever, nothing can be done about it now." Mori said with a dismissive wave as he made his way over to Chuuya.
He looked down, "How was the assignment?"
Chuuya dropped to his knee in the presence of his boss, "Everything went according to plan. Mary Shelley has brought the materials needed to make the agreed payment."
Mori furrowed a brow, "Who?"
Chuuya glanced up, "Mary Shelley, the woman over there by the door. The Guild member with the abilityFrankenste-"
"Oh. Oh yes her." Mori said, "Well. That's nice. I suppose we should go do that now. Oh, anddoget up Chuuya. It's impolite to have you on your knees at your ownWelcome Back Party."
Slowly Chuuya did just that, following Mori like a confused puppy over to the table.
"Ah yes!" Mori said suddenly, spinning around, "I nearly forgot! I wanted to tell you this myself."
He gestured to the spot on the table beside him. "We got you a homecoming present!"
Chuuya followed the gesture. His eyes popped open wide.
There on the table, in all its glory.
"Is that..." Chuuya said, dashing over to it, mouth open wide, "Romanee-Conti?"
That was only the most expensive wine in the world!
"What, what's the vintage?" he found himself turning over the bottle and gasped loud enough for the folks at the agency to hear him. "How did you even get this?"
"Mm?" Mori said. "Oh. Don't worry about that."
He placed a hand on Chuuya's shoulder, "What's important is that you know just how very happy we all are that our favorite little gravity-manipulator is back."
Chuuya looked at the wine. He looked at Mori, who was smiling. Then he looked around him. The members of the Port Mafia were all looking intently at him. No, not just intently, that would be unnerving. They were lookingwarmlyat him.
Chuuya felt a slow blush creep up his face.
Maybe this...maybe this wasn't so bad.
Koyo cleared her throat, "Boss, don't forget the other thing."
Mori lit up, "The other thing! Of course!"
He took a glass off the table and held it up into the air, nearly everyone following suit. Chuuya eagerly took a glass of his own.
"Upon much examination." Mori said, "We here at the Port Mafia have come to conclusion that our dear Chuuya Nakahara has not been celebrated nearly as much as he ought to be."
Chuuya felt his blush deepen.
"So. To make amends, we'll start with something very simple."
That was when the most bizarre thing Chuuya had ever witnessed in his twenty-two years of life happened.
Mori reached to his side and withdrew a hat identical to Chuuya's and placed it on his head. Soon after, in perfect sync, the rest of the Port Mafia did the exact same.
"ThePort Mafiaissucha terrible name for an organization, don't you agree? I mean, mafia? There are so many mafias in the world, it's souncreative," Mori raised his glass even higher, "So from now on, we'll proudly call ourselves thePort Chuafia!"
Chuuya's glass broke in his fist.
The announcement was met with boisterous applause and cheering. Everyone was smiling. Even Akutagawa was smiling. It was complete chaos.
Maybe it's not that bad?Chuuya reflected on his previous thoughts.To hell with that!
This was worse than bad.
This was complete and utter madness.
Shit,Chuuya thought,I'm going to be needing some help...
Chapter 4: This Calls For A Detective
Night came, and the big fancy party did not seem anywhere close to an end.
Chuuya lasted for a good two more hours before taking the bottle ofRomanee-Contiby the neckand excusing himself. Nearly everyone offered to escort him back to his apartment, but he declined and ran away before they could object.
The next morning, when no one contacted him about this all being some stupid and vaguely disturbing joke, he slipped out of his apartment, past the Port Mafia buildings, and into the streets of Yokohama.
Honestly,Chuuya thought,this is ridiculous. I can't believe I'm actually doing this.
At the moment, he was leaning against a lamp-post, glaring at a certain detested building located at a certain detested street corner.
Well, detested by him at least. Many of the pedestrians that passed by the establishment gave it a brief looks of awe before continuing on with their everyday hustle.
Located inside that building was the formidable Armed Detective Agency.
Chuuya growled, slouching further down into his folded arms. He knew what he had to do, but he really,reallydid not want to do it.
However, he was also was at a complete and utter loss. Aside from himself, no one at the Port Mafia was acting normal. This was a mystery, was it not? And a mystery called for a detective.
Chuuya pushed himself off the lamp-post and began walking towards the agency.
Would they even be willing to help me? It had occurred to Chuuya that with the Port Mafia in this state, they were completely harmless. That was a good thing for the agency.Ugh, whatever. I'm sure if I kick enough stuff aroundsomeonewill have to give me the time of day.
Chuuya was vaguely aware of the fact that his heart rate had increased as he ascended the stairs. He wouldn't call this fear. He refused to call it fear. No, perhapsanticipationwas the better word.
Yeah, definitely that.
Chuuya had never actually been inside to the agency before. The idea of being surrounded bythose peoplewasnot a pleasant thought.
As idiotic as they were, there was still no denying that the members of the Armed Detective Agency were a force to be reckoned with. They did have Dazai after all.
He reached for the bell.
Before he could quite make contact with it however, the door opened a crack. Chuuya pulled back in suprise. He was staring up at that white-haired tiger youth that Dazai had taken under his wing.
"Ha!" the boy said, "I knew I saw you coming!I knew it!"
Chuuya gave him his most withering look, hoping that he was coming off as at least a little bit dignified as he scrambled to remember the boy's name.
"...Jinko." he settled with, recalling Akutagawa loud rant from that one time the guy got drunk, "Look, I'm not here for any trouble. I need to speak to..."
Speak to who? He really hadn't thought this through. Their president seemed like the most obvious answer, but he was in no mood to be sitting underneath that old man's harsh gaze.
He swallowed. With some effort he said, "...Dazai. I need to speak to Dazai."
"Dazai-san is out." Atsushi said.
"Everyone else is here though!" Atsushi said brightly, opening the door even wider to reveal Yosano, Kenji, Tanizaki, Kyoka, Ranpo, and even Kunikida -- all smushed together in the doorframe.
"Hi Mr. Fancy Hat!" Kenji said with a cheery wave.
"I see you're back from the States," Yosano acknowledged with a smile.
"Long time no see!" Ranpo quipped, elbowing forward "I got Poe to write another mystery novel if you're interested!"
"Mystery nov-what?" Chuuya said, "Hell no. Never again."
He took his hat off and ran an agitated hand through his hair, "I don't have time for this. I...I need your help. I need your help, okay? There's something seriously wrong with the-"
Kunikida was looking at him with an intense expression -- his whole aura radiating authority.
"We already know."
Chuuya looked from agency member to agency member.
"Of course. Ranpo deducted it the second Atsushi alerted him of your arrival."
That was when Kunikida beamed with the power of a thousand sunbeams -- a look that did not belong on such a serious face, "You're here to join the Armed Detective Agency, aren't you?"
Chuuya's jaw dropped.
"Usually we have an entrance exam," Tanizaki said, accidentally hitting Kyoka in the face when he withdrew his clipboard, "but we spoke to the President and he said that it's fine if you just sign up."
"Wait, he needs a pen." Atsushi said, gripping the doorframe for balance, "Anyone got a pen?"
The almighty detective agency dissolved into murmurs as they shuffled among themselves for a writing instrument.
"No. No no no--what? He deductedwhat? Why would you even think that?!" Chuuya stabbed a finger at Ranpo, "I thought that one was supposed to besmart ."
The agency members froze.
Ranpo's smile collapsed,"I...Iamsmart."
After spending all of yesterday with Akutagawa, Chuuya had become very familiar with what a person sounded like before they broke down into tears.
"Wait, no." He said, holding out his gloved hands. "No, you are smart. I swear, please don't--"
"CHUUYA-SAN DOESN'T THINK I'M SMART!"Ranpo wailed.
The bustling foot traffic outside the agency came to a halt. One by one, the pedestrians on the street turned in their direction.
"Did they say 'Chuuya'?"
"Is that really him?"
"Oh my gosh! It's really Chuuya!"
Before Chuuya could even register what was happening, the whole swarm of people began making their way towards the steps of the agency.
"Get back! He's trying to sign up!" Kyoka cried, Demon Snow materializing next to her. Beside her, Kunikida cocked his taser gun.
"Hey! The Armed Detective Agency is trying to hog Chuuya all for themselves!"
This led to an outcry of angry shouts. Something along the lines of"I knew we couldn't really trust them!"and"they can't stop us all at once!"
Chuuya didn't think. Chuuya just ran.
He ducked under grabbing arms, pressed his hat over his face as cameras flashed.
He ran and ran and ran -- even when he had put a good distance between himself and the crowd, he continued to run. Even when he couldn't hear them anymore, he continued to run.
Even when he entered a vacant, empty street where all he could hear was his own heavy breathing -- he continued to run.
Quite suddenly, his leg twisted underneath him.
As he tried to recover his balance, he collided head first with something solid. He gasped, falling backwards onto the road.
He sat up quickly. Too quickly. Blood rushed through his body, and a dizziness overtook him. He held out a hand over his head to shield his eyes from bright sun as he looked up upon what had stopped his mad dash.
As it appeared, he had not crashed into something, but rather, someone.
Standing in the middle of the street, silhouetted by the orange ball of fire in the sky, stood none other than the former Port Mafia executive, bandaged man of mystery.
He tilted his head, shaggy brown hair tumbling to a side, expression mildly surprised.
His eyes slid down, then hardened with recognition when they landed on Chuuya.
Slowly, a nasty smirk split his face.
"Well isn't it the little man in black interrupting the natural flow of foot traffic?"
"...what?" Chuuya croaked.
"Sorry," Dazai said, "I should have used simpler terms. I was trying to convey that you are an asshole."
He smiled, "Chuuya, you are an asshole."
There was no describing the immense sense of relief that flooded Chuuya at those words.
He leapt up and forward. Dazai's expression changed, but Chuuya didn't get a chance to see what it was -- he had already wrapped his arms around the suicidal maniac in a tight embrace.
Chapter 5: Enter Dazai
"Alrighty then ," Osamu Dazai said, using his fingers to part and peer through the window shutters, "let me get this straight."
The two of them were in a small kitchen, the lights turned off and shutters closed tightly. The only illumination was from the barest traces of sunlight that made it through the cracks. And even with that, it was still hard to see.
Dazai turned to face the miniature seating area where Chuuya was sitting head in hands and hat face-up on the table.
"Yesterday, you returned from an assignment in the States, only to discover that everyone in Yokohama -- for some inexplicable reason-- has become obsessed with you. "
Chuuya groaned, not bothering to look up. "Yeah, that's about right. At first I thought it was only the mafia but then that whole thing with your agency happened. Honestly, this is starting to all feel like some sort of vapid fever dream..."
"Aw," the detective said, "So does that mean I often appear in your dreams,Chuy-ya-kun?"
Chuuya shot him a frustrated look which, if you asked Dazai, he didn't think he deserved. No less than five minutes had passed between them and he had managed to refrain from making a single short-joke. Honestly, if anything, Chuuya should be praising him.
But that was besides the point.
If Dazai knew one thing, it was that he was a strange man who lived in a strange city where strange things had a habit of happening all the time.
However, what his little Chuuya was telling him was not only strange. It was downright bizarre. Dazai considered himself very good at telling whether or not a person was lying, but even he had been at a loss for what to think when the temperamental ginger told him what was going on.
He wasn't all too sure of what exactly made him believe the guy in the end. Perhaps the fact that after he ran into Chuuya, a small crowd that was very obviously looking for someone turned the corner into that very street.
Or the fact that Chuuya -- the man who despised him more than anyone else in the world -- hadhuggedhim with such obvious and unadulterated relief.
Yeah, he was still feeling kind of weird about that.
No matter. Dazai had wasted no time hustling his ex-partner out a view and into a small house further down the street.
Emphasis onahouse. Nothishouse. This was not Dazai's house. He had just smashed the glass of the nearest door and turned the lock, no questions asked.
I wonder if Chuuya realizes that,Dazai thought,He didn't really seem to be paying attention...
He sighed, heading over to join the mafia executive at the table. He threw his curry-colored overcoat over the head of a chair and collapsed into the seat, steepling his hands in front of him.
"I know this isn't your strong suit, but I'm going to have to ask you to really think here." he said, "has anything, and I meananythingat all happened recently that would account for all this hullaballoo?"
"No," came Chuuya's muffled reply. "I swear. Even back at the States, everything was going smoothly until I got back home. You should have seen it, Dazai. Everyone seems to just....well, with the way they've been acting, they all seem like theylove me."
Dazai's response was automatic,"I don't love you."
Chuuya shifted, those small gloved hands of his falling away from his face. Dazai had been half expecting his comment to be met with an annoyed glare. So it was almost unsettling when instead, Chuuya's eyes were rounded with weary relief.
"You have no idea how happy that makes me."
Dazai looked away and cleared his throat. "Anyyyyyways." his serious tone had taken a cheerful lilt,"I think I have an idea of what might be going on here."
Dazai looked back at Chuuya with a wry smile on his face. He held up a finger, "Consider this. The Port Mafia? Too in love with you to carry out any criminal activity. The Armed Detective Agency? Too in love with you to solve any cases."
Realization dawned upon Chuuya's face, "So that makes two of the most powerful organization's in Yokohama..."
"...completely indisposed. Yes." Dazai held up another finger, " So you see why there's a very good chance that this was a coordinatedattack."
"Yes," Chuuya said irritably, "But how?"
" How exactly did this happen? Andwhy me?"
"My dear Chuuya," Dazai said, "we live in a world where literally anything can happen as long one has the right set of skills. My best guess? This is the work of some ability-user."
Chuuya leap to his feet, chair screeching back on the tile, "So you're telling me this is all just askill?"
Dazai, still sitting, raised an eyebrow at his sudden outburst, "Well, it would certainly explain why I'm not affected. It must be useless with my nullification ability."
"Perfect," Chuuya said, tossing his hat back onto his head and throwing his coat over his shoulders, "So the solution is simple, you just hafta touch everyone in Yokohama."
"Aw, come on you don't seriously expect me to toucheveryone-- that sounds like a lot of work..."
Chuuya frowned, "I thought you were going to help me."
Dazai paused. He didn't remember saying anything along those lines. Not that they were wrong, of course. Just unexpected coming from his ex-partner. Chuuya was the sort that suspected him of foul play the instant something went wrong.
"Iamgoing to help you." Dazai said slowly, " I just don't think that's the best way of going about it."
And he really did mean it. The river had been looking quite lovely that afternoon and he had very much looking forward to throwing himself in it. This current situation was more that just a tad bit annoying.
"Then whatisthe best way of going about it?!"
"Hush, I'm still thinking."
The man waved a bandaged hand, "Oh calm down. Remember, this affects me just as much as it affects you. I really rathernotlive in a hell where everyone is frothing, Chuuya-centric zombies."
Chuuya grumbled something and plopped back down in his seat.
It had not slipped pass Dazai that Chuuya was acting even more touchy than usual. There was something exasperated about this anger. The executive's voice was hoarse, indicating that he must have been yelling at a good number of people before he started yelling at Dazai. Not to mention the bags beginning to form underneath his eyes, both of which were starting to look unfocused and tired.
He really must have been having a rough day...
Dazai almost....felt bad for him.
Was weird that a part of him wanted to -- oh he didn't know -- reach out across the table and comfort the ginger menace?
Dazai inhaled a breath, then opened his mouth.
Both of their heads snapped in the direction of the sound.
"Wha-" Chuuya began.
"The door, that was the door." Dazai said, standing and narrowing his eyes.
This time, the sound was followed by a heavyTHUNK --a door falling off its hinges. Then following that: footsteps. Quick, purposeful, and headed their way.
Dazai gave a single nod. They had to go, they had to go now. He put on his own coat and turned to the window. Just then, the little sunlight they had pouring from the cracks of the shutters vanished. Something large and black was standing on the other side.
The house is surrounded.
Dazai realized. And judging by the look on Chuuya's face, he had figured this out too.
They exchanged glances, eyes glittering with shared apprehension in the darkness.
They were trapped.
And the footsteps were getting louder.
Chapter 6: An Interesting Proposition 𝟙/𝟚
Some part of Chuuya had already guessed who had forced their way into the house.
Still, he could not stop himself from tensing when a single white glove appeared in the entryway to the kitchen. One by one, long fingers curled into the wooden beam before the rest of Mori Ogai followed -- filling the threshold with his presence.
The Boss' smile was not too different from the one he wore yesterday. But given their current circumstances and the way the red of his irises seemed to glow in the darkness -- there was something far more sinister about it this time around.
His eyes slid pass Dazai like rainwater on glass. The action was exceedingly unnerving, done with such profound ease. It was as if the detective wasn't eventhere.
Those glittering eyes landed on Chuuya, focused and intense.
"Ah, Chuuya-kun," Mori said pleasantly, "looks like I found you."
"...heeeey, Boss." Chuuya said, bobbing his head in an awkward nod.
He couldn't quite explain the sudden chill that washed over him. Why was he feeling so...unsettled? It was just Mori, after all. And under the influence of what Dazai had said was the work of an ability user, Mori loved him.
It wasn't like he and Dazai were in any danger.
"Forgive my sudden intrusion." Mori said with a dramatic sigh, "but you didn't come in to work today and we all got rather concerned."
Please don't tell me theentiremafia is outside.
It was all too easy to imagine Akutagawa, Higuchi, Koyo, Gin, and dozens upon dozens of thugs stationed around the house, weapons at the ready.
"We thought it would be best to comecheck up on you."
Chuuya opened his mouth. Check up on him?Check up on him?In this line of work, Chuuya had been shot, stabbed, beaten, and not to mention sucked into a mystery novel that one time.
Notoncehad Mori come to 'check up on him'.
Even after all the craziness of the past two days, it wasthisthat fully robbed Chuuya of any comprehensible words. He had no idea how to respond.
"Is that so, Mori?" a quiet voice inquired.
The bandaged man uncurled himself from his corner and stepped in between executive and boss. "A rather rude way to check up on one of your subordinates, don't you think? Least you could've done was bring some chocolates or something."
Mori frowned. "Oh. You. I should have known."
Suddenly, faster than the eyes could possibly track, Mori withdrew two gleaming scalpels. "Chuuya-kun ~Was this man harassing you? Say the word and I'll cut a smile into his neck."
Dazai's lips parted, a bitter, bemused sort of actual smile coming over his face.
It was one thing, Chuuya supposed, to be told by your most detested rival that everyone in the entire city had become infatuated with him and another thing to actually witness it.
Dazai recovered quickly. "Pot, black Mori. Are you sure you're not the one harassing him? Take a look at the poor thing's face, why don't you?"
Mori actually did, eyes flicking past Dazai. For a sparse second, they widened -- and Mori looked very Mori. However, in the next instant, they glazed over with that malevolent look from before.
"Oh please, Osamu. Everyone knows that no one causes Chuuya more distress than you. I haven't got the faintest clue what you two were discussing before I arrived, but Higuchi followed Chuuya home last night and according to her this is not his residence." Mori drew closer, "I am very -- well, how should I put this? I'm very inclined to believe that youkidnapped him."
Dazai let out a laugh, "Why, Mori I-"
Chuuya stepped forward and yanked Dazai by the arm. "Don't try arguing with him, idiot." Chuuya hissed, "everyone has gone insane, didn't I tell you?All this chit-chat isn't going to get us anywhere!"
Dazai leaned closer. In a hushed voice he responded, "Yes, I'm well aware. This just seemed like the easier option."
"Easier option?What the hell Dazai, easier compared towhat?"
Dazai's tone became grave, "Than convincing you to useCorruptionon everyone outside."
Chuuya felt a weight drop into his stomach. He was strong, yes. But he wasn't too sure if even he could defeat the entiremafia. And that aside, he didn't want to even consider harming his comrades. Chuuya-centric zombies or not.
"Let me do the talking, Chuuya." Dazai said, "And the thinking too for that matter. I'll get us out of this, Ipromise."
He had said it in that vaguely mocking tone of his, but nonetheless, Chuuya couldn't help but catch a note of sincerity in them. He swallowed, then nodded.
"Oh my!" Mori exclaimed, putting a hand to his face. "I think I see what's going on here."
"You do?" Chuuya found himself saying dully.
"All of this is just a silly little plea on Osamu's part, isn't it? Begging me restore his position as a Port Chuafia executive, yes?"
Dazai perked up, "Port what now?"
"Honestly, Osamu." Mori said, clicking his tongue and shaking his head. "I've offered you the position back on multiple occasions. What could have possibly made you change your mind? Oh, let me guess. It's the name change isn't it? Or the hats?"
Mori began to walk, "Regardless. I'm sorry to say that ship has long sailed. The decision is no longer in my hands. Now do kindly get out of my way, I have a proposition for Chuuya."
Dazai smirked, "I'm afraid I can't do that."
When Mori had drawn close enough, Dazai placed a bandaged hand on the Boss' shoulder.
For a moment, nothing happened, no one moved.
Mori blinked. He blinked again.
He sighed. "Dazai, there are over a hundred mafia members outside, all armed. Do anything rash and I'll be forced to act rashly as well."
Dazai's nullification had not worked.
Dazai threw a look over his shoulder. Chuuya couldn't read the emotion there, but he could see the message being passed. This mystery ability was affecting some part deep within Mori Ogai's tissues. Like that time he and Fukazawa were infected with thecannibalistic virus -- it was not something Dazai's own ability could reach.
"Well,Dazai?" Mori said.
Slowly, Dazai turned back to the Boss, "What do you want with Chuuya?"
"My proposition is first and foremost for Chuuya-kun, not you." Mori said curtly.
Another strained silence.
He's not going to get out of the way.
Chuuya wasn't too sure how he knew that, just that he did. It didn't seem like a very Dazai thing to do. Dazai was smart, he knew when he was in a tight spot. Yet, for some reason, all Chuuya could see was this whole thing playing out very badly.
"It's fine." Chuuya said, "I'll hear it."
Dazai spun around, "Chuuya, what did I say about lettingmedo the talking?"
"I said I'llhear it," Chuuya insisted, "What's going on, Boss?"
Dazai seemed to hesitate, then stepped to aside.
"Well you see," Mori, who was now standing right before him, said. "That's just the thing."
In a single, fluid motion, he dropped to a knee.
"Chuuya Nakahara," he said, voice loud and clear, "I, Mori Ogai, boss of the recently dubbed Port Chuafia, in unanimous agreement with the rest of the Chuafia, hereby cede my power and position to you."
Chuuya really shouldn't be surprised at this point. Yet the words froze him still.
Mori glanced up, "So...what do you say...Boss?"
Chapter 7: An Interesting Proposition 𝟚/𝟚
While Chuuya could do nothing but stare, Dazai had already figured out their next move.
"A moment to confer, please~!"He said brightly, grabbing his ex-partner by the shoulders and steering him out of the kitchen.
Mori's head snapped up, opening his mouth to no doubtedly object-
Dazai prodded Chuuya sharply in the back.
"It's fine!" the executive, stirred from his shock, blurted out, "I just need a moment to talk to this basta- Dazai. I mean Dazai. I need a moment to talk to Dazai. Uh, wait there."
Mori's eyes swished between them. He didn't look very happy about it, but nodded his head in what could only be described as respect, "Very well as you wish, Chuuya-kun. If he tries anything just give a shout and I shall-"
Chuuya didn't get to hear the rest, because Dazai had already practically shoved him into the nearest room -- which ended up being an absurdly small and flowery bathroom of all places -- then slammed the door shut, locking it and flicking on the lights.
His face was uncharacteristically serious.
"You have to accept."
Chuuya didn't think he heard him correctly. "Eh? Me? The Boss of the Port Mafia? How exactly is that going to solve anything?"
"It's not. As a matter of fact, it might just make everything worse."
He kicked the part of the wall next to the detective, floral wallpaper cracking.
He leaned in closer, teeth gritted, "I don't have time for this, Dazai!Just tell me what's going on in that messed up head of yours!"
"Okay, calm down.Sheesh." Dazai said with an exaggerated roll of his eyes. If he was at all concerned about being essentially pinned to the wall by a destructive force of nature, he didn't show it.
"What I'm trying to say here is that -- well -- do you really think they're just going to let you decline? I have a hunch that this isn't so much about making you their boss than it is about making youtheirs."
It really was just one thing after the other, huh?
Chuuya made an agitated sound, swinging his leg back to kick the wall behind him. This time, he accidentally drove his entire foot through the plaster with an unsettlingcrunch.
"Ugh, looks like I'll be paying for that along with the front door. This day just keeps on looking up, doesn't it?"
"Hey," Chuuya snapped, "That's my line."
"Well, at least you're not the one who has to deal with that unseemly temper of yours. This isn't even my house...I mean, being strangled to death by angry home-owners is definitely an interesting way to go. But, mmm, doesn't really sound painless... "
"This isn't your- wait what? Then where the hell-"
"Not important.Focus Chuuya --I need you to do exactly as I say."
"Alright,alright," Chuuya waved him off, "but if what you're saying is true -- about the whole making me theirs thing -- wouldn't saying 'yes' just be playing directly into their hands?"
"Wrong," Dazai chirped, "if you say 'yes', you still have some control over the situation. I'm almost certain that if you say 'no', they'll come up with something about needing to protect you and smuggle you off to somewhere remote."
"Okay, but how do youknow that?"
"Have I ever been wrong before?"
Damn. He hated when Dazai pulled that one out.
"Besides," the bandaged man stretched out his long limbs, head hitting a painting, "I'm looking out for my own well-being too. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get out of here unscathed if you don't vouch for my safety."
"Hah? What do you mean?"
"You sensed Mori's bloodlust, didn't you? It's hard to imagine, I know, but it seems that with everyone in love withyou, it's only natural that they all hateme."
"Anyhoo, here's the plan. You take Mori up on his offer. Tell your Port Chuafia-"
"Aww, but I like 'Chuafia'. It's cute."
"I will hit you."
"Fine. Tell your entourage back there to let me go without any trouble. You head back to the Port Mafia with them and do whatever it is that they want. Tomorrow we'll reconvene, I should have the rest of what to do figured out by then."
So that meant...Chuuya would have to spend the rest of the dayalonein the midst of this craziness? The thought of it wasn'tscary. Chuuya refused to think of it as scary. He was Chuuya Nakahara, he didn'tgetscared. Overwhelmed, maybe, but notscared.
Yeah, that sounded about right.
Not scary, overwhelming.
Chuuya looked up.
Dazai's brown eyes were roving over the gravity-manipulator's face, expression searching.
He lowered his head, hesitating for a heartbeat -- then looked back up, offering Chuuya a small smile.
The world might of as well ended right there.
It was incomprehensible, simply unfathomable. Could it be? Anactualsmile? Not bitter or scheming or mocking or anything like that. Who was this alien creature who wore Osamu's face andsmiled at him? It was just so unlike his former partner,so unexpected.
If that weren't shocking enough, Dazai then proceeded to say in a voice so gentle it could make even the most stoic of people cry: "You'll be fine."
For a split second, Chuuya forgot that he hated this man and felt his face soften.
"Meeting tomorrow, okay." he exhaled, "Yeah. Sounds good. You better show up, bastard."
"My, my Chuuya." Dazai said, a mischievous glint sparking in his eyes, "I'm not that cruel, am I? Of course I'll be there."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Time and place?"
Dazai seemed to consider for a moment.
"Hm. Somewhere private. How about-"
The door to the bathroom blasted open. Dazai jerked out of the way just in the nick of time, the tendril of darkness only grazing his cheek before retreating back it its owner.
Standing there in the now doorless doorway was Akutagawa, about twenty mafia grunts behind him. To his side, none other than Mori.
"Ah," Ogai Mori said, looking from Dazai to Chuuya, "you were taking too long."
He strode forward and pointed at Dazai, expression darkening, "I don't know what his plot is, but he definitely means to harm Chuuya. Stop him at all costs."
Akutagawa grunted and sent forth another tendril.
"Wait!" Chuuya exclaimed the same time Dazai ducked and bolted.
A spray of bullets was sent his way. Chuuya activated his ability at once, stopping the trajectory of each and having them clatter uselessly to the floor. With incredible agility, Dazai avoided grabbing hands. He struck down a grunt with a quick hit to the neck, snatching the poor guy's pistol and leapt back.
"Until then Chuuya!" he exclaimed, then promptly whirled around and darted out of view.
The sound of glass being broken, Dazai must have left through the window.
"I'll follow him, Chuuya-san!" Akutagawa declared, disappearing in a blur of black.
"Wait- wait no don't-!"
Chuuya grabbed Mori's arm.
Mori gave him a surprised look.
"I accept, okay? I'm the Boss now, so you gotta listen to me."
Mori's eyes lit up, "Excellent! We-
"Call this off, we're going back home."
"Of course, naturally."
Mori fell into a steep bow, the rest of those gathered before Chuuya following suit.
Chuuya looked over them to the spot where Dazai and Akutagawa disappeared, a sick feeling rising in his stomach.
He had no idea where nor when he was supposed to meet that walking waste of bandages.
Chapter 8: The One With Atsu, Aku, And The Mackerel
Atsushi finally found a pen.
He had searched everywhere; opening drawers and overturning file cabinets as well as breaking open the staff lockers. In the end, Atsushi had to go back to his apartment and shuffle through Kyoka's stuff before finally finding something for Chuuya to write with.
Okay, so that was a lie. He had come across tons of pens on his little expedition. But none of them were worthy enough for that amazing, five-foot specimen of pure excellence to even look upon.
Gosh, if he had even done so much as seen those other pens, Atsushi thought, kicking a can out of his path as he walked along the streets of Yokohama,I probably would have died of embarrassment!
Although...he supposed none of his hustling about ended up mattering in the long run. When Atsushi had returned to the agency, an annoyed Kunikida had told him that during a little scuffle with the general public, the man, the legend himself, Chuuya Nakahara, had all but vanished.
The application for the fellow to join up with the Armed Detective Agency?
It was a devastating blow to the agency. The agency President, Fukuzawa, had been absolutely livid. Not even Ranpo showing him pictures of cats in sailor outfits did anything to calm him down. All available units were given a copy of the application and sent out to search the city for Chuuya Nakahara.
Atsushi was no exception. As he strode down the streets, he kept his eyes peeled for the mafia executive. He hoped to be the first to find that amazing, beautiful, commander of gravity so he could give him the pen.
If that wonderful Chuuya has to sign with a dull, standard, unimpressive pen...
Atsushi shook his head. No, he didn't even want to think about it! The concept was too painful to imagine.
He quickened his pace, racking his brain. Poor chu-chu, he acted all tough on the outside but in actuality he was really just a wee little baby. All that shouting must have scared the little guy away. Hmm, Atsushi was going to have to apologize for that.Although...it was sort of Ranpo's fault for crying out like that, and Kyoka's for escalating the situation by bringing out Demon Snow.
Wait. No. He had to be more mature than that. He'd apologize on behalf of his coworkers. He'd get Chuuya a gift! Chocolates maybe? A cute lil hat to replace his old one?
Hm, I'm sure If we drain the Armed Detective Agency's assets, we should be able to afford a good vintage of Romanee-Conti...The President would definitely be on board...
Just Atsushi turned the corner, however, a familiar curry colored coat flapped pass him.
He turned to see the figure fleeing further down the street.
It looked familiar?
No, no it wasn't Chuuya. It was too tall to be Chuuya. Atsushi turned back. If it wasn't Chuuya, he didn't care --
There was a slight buzzing in the back of his head. The image clicked
He looked over his shoulder, "Dazai?"
The figure came to a halt, whipping around. When he saw who it was, the man broke into a wide, goofy grin, "Atsushi-kun! Perfect!"
Not a second later, another shape came barreling into view, skidding to such a sharp stop that dust swirled from its feet. Long pointy tendrils extended from his coat, primed and ready to strike.
Hm, this wasn't Chuuya either.
Atsushi stared at the other man. The other man stared at him.
Atsushi....knew him too. This was Akutagawa. Not Chuuya, Akutagawa. So he felt...nothing.
However....something uneasy was creeping up on him. He felt like he was straining against something, some invisible wall, as he tried to make sense of the mad dog's expression. There was a feeling trying to snarl loose, he just didn't know what it was.
Suddenly, the man's eyes hardened, "JINKO!"
Atsushi jumped, a spike of adrenaline shooting through him. He was looking at Akutagawa,Akutagawa-- a man capable of tearing him in half! Someone who had challenged him countless times, someone who had promised tokill him-
Akutagawa pointed. Another flare of emotions went through Atsushi...then immediately dulled when he noticed that Akutagawa was pointingpasthim. He was pointing at Dazai.
"That man," Akutagawa sneered, "means harm to Chuuya!"
Slowly, Atsushi looked back at Dazai. Dazai, the man who had saved him....wait...no? Ugh...why couldn't he think straight? Dazai, Dazai... Dazai was...
...the man who meant to harm Chuuya!
"You will not hurt Chuuya-san!"
Dazai's smile fell.
Atsushi turned sharply to his rival, "Akutagawa, I don't like you. But if that man is really going to harm Chuuya-"
"I know where you're going with this," Akutagawa said, "and the answer is no. I don't need your help, this is my chance to prove myself to Chuuya-san. Don't get in my way."
"Y-yeah, but! Chuuya is going to be a member of the agency, it's my job to protect him!"
"What the hell are you blabbering on about, Jinko? He's the Boss of the Port Chua-"
"Oh no! Dazai's getting away!"
Akutagawa growled and launched himself forward. In a flash, Atsushi transformed his legs to that of the tiger, and sprinted after him.
However, he found that he couldn't quite keep up. That awful buzzing sound had started up again.
Dazai....the man who saved him. Or was he the man that Atsushi saved? From the river? But then really, it had been Dazai who....
He hissed, and the sound faded. He was going to have to get that checked out. Chuuya would probably know what to do. All the more reason to protect him from this suicidal man!
Atsushi and Akutagawa must have chased him halfway through Yokohama before finally cornering him in a narrow alleyway.
Dazai took one look at the dead end, swore under his breath, and spun to face the two boys running for him.
Atsushi transformed fully, lunging past Akutagawa. With a feral snarl, he pounced.
Dazai watched as the tiger came down. "Deja' vu, Atsushi-kun," he sighed, raising a hand to nullify the ability.
But Atsushi had anticipated that, he stuck a claw forward towards Dazai's chest. The nullification would work only once Atsushi had pierced through the clothing and into his lungs. But by then,Atsushi would have already piercedthrough his lungs.
Dazai's eyes widened in realization.
"Oh Atsushi..." he said softly. From his coat, he withdrew a pistol.
Atsushi felt a flare of panic .Bullets were ineffective on most of the Tiger. But a shot in the eye...
Dazai's fist clenched around the pistol, he muttered something under his breath...
...then he dropped it.
The buzzing went off again. Fierce and loud, louder than before. It wasn't evenbuzzinganymore, it was a painful ringing, like someone was shrieking directly in his ear.
The man who he saved from the river. The man who had saved him from himself.
The shriek became a wail --
Atsushi deactivated his ability- landing on his feet.
Breathing heavily he looked up at Dazai.
Dazai only smiled, "I knew you'd come around. Now, take care of the other guy for me, will ya? And don't be too harsh on him, he's not exactly himself right now."
And with that, Dazai sprinted around Atsushi and past Akutagawa.
Akutagawa whirled, "RASHO-"
Atsushi, still not at all sure what was going on, acted on instinct. He turned his arm into a Tiger arm, and reached into his pocket, withdrawing a stupidly decorated pen that was there for some reason and launching it at the mad dog of the mafia with the force of a gun hammering out a bullet.
It clipped Akutagawa on the cheek.
Akutagawa's attention shifted from Dazai to the weretiger.
Huh? Why did he sound so hurt?Hewas the one who had turned down the idea of teaming up to...
To protect Chuuya? From Dazai?
A weight plunged in Atsushi's chest. It took immense effort to re center himself. It felt almost as if something were trying to get ahold of his mind. He gingerly touched his forehead. I was warm, feverish almost.
"Don't tell me...you're trying to hurt Chuuya too?" Akutagawa demanded.
"What? Sure, yeah I-" Atsushi paused, "Wait no. No, I'm not -Akutagawa wait!"
But Akutagawa did not wait. Before Atsushi knew it, he was wrapped up in tendrils and slammed against the alleyway wall. A single tendril in the form of a blade rose to his neck, blade twinkling in the sun.
Atsushi struggled and tried to transform. But he found that he simply could not, not with this pull-and-tug going on in his head and not to mention the echo of thathorribleringing sound...
"In that case, I ought to dispose of you as well."
Chapter 9: The One With Atsu, Aku, And That Guy They Punched
Hey, this isn't a new chapter, just splitting one into two. The next part should be out soon~!
He's actually going to do it.
Atsushi was all too familiar with that look of murderous intent. He hadn't seen that particular emotion on Akutagawa's face in such a long time. But still, there was no mistaking that it was that very same cast from when they first met.
The expression was not only hateful, butmerciless. Like Atsushi were no one and nothing. Like he could be cut down without a second thought or single regret.
The best way to escape from this situation would be to transform. At once and immediately. But in addition to his headache, Atsushi was also feeling incredibly drained. He wasn't entirely sure what was happening, but a part of him had understood that he was in the process of prying something off of his brain.
All in all, he was in no condition to fight.
Dazai's words echoed in Atsushi's head:
He's not exactly himself right now.
What had his senior meant by that? Was Akutagawa in a state similar to Atsushi's? Or to put it more accurately, in the state that Atsushi had been in moments earlier? That would make more sense -- because at the moment, while Atsushi was worn and depleted in strength, Akutagawa was brimming with hostile energy.
What should I do?
It was evident that Atsushi wasn't getting anywhere with his struggling, so that didn't leave him with many other options.
"Akutagawa..." he managed to wheeze, "...you don't want to do this."
Akutagawa's face was a mask, "Yes I do. If you're out to hurt Chuuya, then you're no more but a blight on this world, devoid of the right to live."
Devoid of the right to live. Akutagawa knew exactly what words hurt the most, huh?
That must mean the real him was still inside there somewhere!
"If you kill me, Dazai would never approve of you."
"Dazai? Who cares what Dazai thinks? "
"You! You do! You always have!"
Akutagawa didn't say anything. But he also didn't slice Atsushi's throat open, so that had to be some progress.
"You...you used to be under his command, remember?"
"So? It wasn't Chuuya's command."
"He trained you, he protected you-"
Atsushi felt bile rise in his throat, "...and then he left you. Without so much as a word. And heknowsthe only thing that'll ever give you any validation in life is his praise, but he refuses to spare any. And then, worst of all, he chose someone else to take under his wing.Me."
He felt sick speaking so badly of Dazai.
But Dazai was never going to be the same man to Akutagawa as he was to Atsushi. And Atsushi was going to have to use that.
"He did leave, didn't he?" Akutagawa mumbled, "...and he set a bomb underneath Chuuya's car!I'll be killing him next after you."
The bladed tendril wound back.
Reminding him of Dazai hadn't worked?! That left Atsushi at a loss. Akutagawa's obsession with earning Dazai's praise was practically his sole character trait.
The tendril came streaking forward.
"You promised me that you wouldn't kill anyone!"
The tendril stopped. The tip had already pierced skin, a single bead of blood trickling down the curve of Atsushi's neck and welling in his collarbone.
Atsushi gritted his teeth in pain, the tendril was trembling, dragging a small cut across his throat before drawing back slightly and wavering in the air.
Atsushi looked down.
Akutagawa's face was divided in half. One side, that same merciless expression, eyes narrowed and jaw clenched.
The other was downright demonic. His eye on that side was bugged out, pupils small and screaming murder.
The demonic side's mouth opened.
Three tendrils sprang forward and tackled the bladed one down. The ones holding Atsushi unraveled, causing the weretiger to fall to the floor.
Two more blades formed, slicing the three in half and causing them to burst into black smoke.
Atsushi scrambled to his feet just in time to watch the chaos unfold.
Rashomon was attackingitself. Tendrils hacking and wrapping around each other in a dizzying flurry -- resembling a convulsing spider.
A convulsing spider with Akutagawa at its center. The man had fallen onto his knees, holding his head in agony. No doubt, he was hearing that antagonizing ringing sound.
The smart thing to do would have been to run back to the agency.
Atsushi didn't consider himself very smart.
He took a step forward, unsure of what he was going to do. Just that he had to dosomething.
Akutagawa's head snapped up. A tendril lashed at Atsushi's feet, causing him to jump back.
"Get out of here...Jinko..." he strained to say, "I might...actually....kill you....Nakahara...."
What was with everyone andChuuya?
Had that man done something? Was that where Dazai was off to now? To defeat the gravity man and put an end to this? If that was the case, Atsushi had to help him!
"You promised not to kill anyone." Atsushi pressed forward, "not for four months. Then I'd face you again, and you'll get to prove yourself to Dazai. Not Chuuya,Dazai. Snap out of it already, Akutagawa!"
"I...can't...don't be stupid...leave..."
Akutagawa had staggered back to his feet, his tendrils going still, then all transforming into blades and pointing at Atsushi.
"Why would I do anything forDazai?Everyone. Loves.Chuuya."
It occurred to Atsushi that he had made a mistake by not running earlier.
Before Akutagawa could make the fatal move however, something whistled past Atsushi's shoulder.
Was that...a net?
It was. And it had successfully captured Akutagawa, pinning him onto the floor. Akutagawa tried to move, but an electric current ran through the material. The eyebrow-less man let out a scream, his ability dissolving.
Atsushi turned around to see just who had rescued him, only to get struck and wound up in a set of thick vines.
"I'm sorry, but did you say 'Chuuya'?"
Atsushi was looking at a familiar foreigner,
Francis Scott Fitzgerald. To his left, Mark Twain with a launcher. His right, John Steinbeck with vines bulging grotesquely from his neck.
The Guild had arrived on the scene.
"I'm so glad that we ran into you two. See, we've been looking for that adorable little tyke all day but with no luck. I don't suppose you know where he is?"
Slowly, Atsushi shook his head. How was it even possible that the Guild couldn't locate someone? Didn't they have Eyes of God?
"Aw, a shame."
Fitzgerald walked past Atsushi over to where Akutagawa laid twitching on the floor. "Well, I don't want to be chasing the poor thing around Yokohama. It'll be more convenient for him to meet up with us instead."
"Why do you want to see Chuuya so badly?" Atsushi demanded, "Why is everyone-"
"Funny story," Fitzgerald cut in, "I actually don't needyou. Your friend here, however, happens to belong to that same bumpkin mafia that Chuuya does. Ah! That amazing, brilliant man. He'ssoloyal. I'm sure he will come for...how do you say this one's name again? Oct-ta-gawa? Oct-tah-ga..?"
"Ak-tah-gah-wa." Akutagawa wheezed.
Fitzgerald snapped in his direction, "Right, that. Silent 'u', of course. Anyways, lets get him back to base."
"And what about the tiger?" John said, "do I let him go?"
"Bring him along. I'd absolutely hate it if he were to find Chuuya before us and spoil the surprise."
Akutagawa was struggling in vain to get up, "If you do so much as touch a hair on that ginger..."
Fitzgerald's eyes widened, "Hurt him? Goodness no. That would be terrible! If little Chu-chu ever got hurt, why, I'd donate all my money to charity!"
"So what is it that you want then?" Atsushi growled.
"To kindly ask Chuuya to become the Guild's mascot, of course!"
Chapter 10: He's Just No Good For You
Long ago, Chuuya had decided that he never wanted to be in charge of a criminal organization ever again.
Been there, done that.
That whole thing with the Sheep had crashed and burned quite spectacularly when one of the members of his little band of juvenile delinquents stabbed him in the gut. Even before they betrayed him, things weren't going so great. Sure, he was their King, but a king who danced to their every whim.
It took a lot, Chuuya had come to realize, being in charge. And he simply wasn't cut out for it. Not then, and most certainly not now.
I mean, it's not like this is for real, Chuuya thought,I'm only the Boss for the time being. Everything will go back to normal soon. Dazai'll think of something.
Dazai, despite being a total waste of oxygen, was admittedly very clever.
And Chuuya...well...he trusted him. Was that weird? Hating Dazai with every iota of his being, but trusting him more than anyone else in this world? He often pissed himself off when he considered just how much he trusted that bandaged bastard to help him out in a pinch.
Yeah...everything will go back to normal soon...
He was sitting atMori's desk, every Port Mafia asset at his disposal. It was the type of power that was all too easy to get drunk on. Not that Chuuya was the type of person to succumb to that sort of thing.Butstill!
He sighed, looking over his surroundings once more. Those mechanical shades that blocked the light coming from the large windows were down, a ghostly orange glow illuminating the spacious room instead. Mori had cleared his things out before Chuuya's arrival, not a scalpel in sight.
It was so dark...so quiet...what exactly did Mori spend his entire time doing in here again?
"Chu-chu, braid my hair!"
Chuuya startled, whipping around to see a certain little blonde girl at his side.
"Elise?" he said, "When did you get in here? Shouldn't you be with the B-Mori?"
Elise pouted, "Rintaro isbo-ring. And he never lets me do anything -- I like you much better Chu-chu!"
"Yeah but..." Chuuya said, "aren't you...like...his ability?"
"So? He'll be fine. Braid my hair!"
If it were anyone else, Chuuya probably would have lost his temper and told them to get out of his sight unless they wanted to know what it was like to be crushed by the power of gravity.
But considering that this wasElise, and the fact that he really didn't have anything else to do -- he instead released another sigh, stood, and patted the top of the desk.
"Sure. Hop up here."
"Yay!" Elise chirped, doing just that.
She began humming, kicking her small red-shoed feet back and forth as Chuuya took up her golden locks in his gloved hands. He lost track of exactly how much time had past until he finished.
When he did, Elise jumped up to her feet and spun around, "Thank you Chu!"
"You're welcome -- just, get down from there before you fall off-"
Elise did not, "Can I braid your hair next?"
"Absolutely not. Really Elise, you might fall."
When the spinning girl showed no sign of stopping, Chuuya picked her up off the desk and set her on the floor. She blinked up at him like a confused kitten.
"HEYYY, why'd you do that you-" she began in a fussy whine, then stopped short. Her eyes blowed wide and she jerked downward, small, dainty hands making a rapid clawing motion for her head.
Then, abruptly, they stopped.
They dropped back to her side.
Her eyes glazed back over.
She smiled, "Sorry Chu! I didn't mean to worry you."
Chuuya opened his mouth, but no sound came out.What was that?
"Elise?" he said again, trying and failing to keep the horror out of his voice, " Er - is there something wrong?"
Elsie looked like she was about to say something when three loud knocks came from the door.
"I'll get it for you Chu~!" Elise sang, full of energy once more. Before Chuuya could stop her, she skipped over to the heavy doors and pulled them open.
Three heads poked in.
Higuchi, Gin, and Tachihara.
These guys again. Great.
"Chuuya!" Higuchi cried, rushing forward, enveloping Chuuya in a hug.
Chuuya ducked away before the other two could join in. He had been touched enough over the course of these last few days thankyouverymuch.
"Is there something I can help you with?" the words came out harsher than he intended.
"The dimness in this room isas-tro-nomical," Tachihara said instead of responding, " it iswaytoo dark in here. Where is the button that does the thing?"
With a click, the shades over the windows lifted, bright sunlight flooding in. Chuuya lifted a hand to shield his eyes, but it was quickly grabbed by Gin. She placed a notecard in his palm,We're here to help you.
"Well, we figured that it might be hard getting started, you know?" Higuchi said, pulling out a file, "so we thought we'd pitch in."
She set the file down on the desk, the others crowding around. Elsie cheerily took Chuuya's hand and led him to the seat.
"First order of business," Higuchi said once Chuuya sat down, "we're completely broke."
"Well, not completely." Tachihara said, "we've got enough funds to keep the place running but not for much else."
"But the Port Mafia is incredibly wealthy," Chuuya said, "that's part of the reason why it's so powerful. What happened?"
His subordinates exchanged glances.
Gin scribbled something down and held it up.
"That alone can't possibly-"
"No, you don't understand, Boss." Tachihara said, "we bought more than one bottle."
"We bought a lot, actually." Higuchi added.
And an industrial freezer to store them all in,Gin noted.
What the actual hell.
"Tell us Chuuya-san, what should we do?"
Chuuya glanced around him. He didnotwant to mess with Mori's files. When things went back to normal, he'd be in a lot of trouble. However, at the same time, wasn't he responsible for the Port Mafia right now? Who knew how long it would take to solve all of this? He couldn't let the mafia fall over the course of this madness.
"So we have no money to spare, huh?"
"And this is bad?"
"So then...we should just..." Chuuya said haltingly. His subordinates all leaned in, eyes sparkling.
He coughed into his hand," we should just...make more."
"I knew you'd know exactly what to do!"
"Yeah," Chuuya said, leaning forward and interlacing his fingers the same way Mori usually did, "we just make more money. Simple. So simple that I think I can leave Hirotsu and Koyo to the planning."
"Oh Chuuya, whatever would we do without you?" Tachihara sighed, "We really missed you this morning. Come to think of it, what were you doing away from the Port Chuafia anyways?"
"It wasn't his choice. Dazai kidnapped him, remember?" Elise said, tilting her head, "that's what Rintaro told me."
"Dazaikidnapped him?" Tachihara echoed incredulously, "Why would he do that?"
Don't be silly,Gin wrote,For the same reason any of us would kidnap Chuuya.
She flipped her notecard over,He probably thinks Chuuya is the best thing to have ever happened to this world and should be worshipped accordingly.
The others murmured in agreement.
Chuuya felt a familiar sense of annoyance flare to life inside of him. He rubbed his temples, "I really don't think Dazai likes or has ever liked me in the same way you all do right now."
Complete and utter silence.
Confused, Chuuya looked up. The four faces staring back at him were the perfect picture of shock.
Eh? Did I say something weird?
"Dazai...doesn't like you...in the same way we do?" Higuchi said slowly. "Does...oh stars...does that mean..."
Elise's jumped up and down, "No way! Does that mean he likes you...romantically?"
"Gosh,"Higuchi said, "That would explain so much, wouldn't it? The nicknames, the constant attention seeking..."
Chuuya made a choking sound
"...the touchiness, the teasing..." Gin continued, out loud in that soft voice of hers.
Chuuya smashed a fist into the desk.
Everyone leapt back.
"W-what?What?"He sputtered in a whisper, before continuing louder, "WHAT?"
Gravitational energy bursted around him, "Whywould you even say something so...sostupid? I know you've all gone insanebut what the actual FU-"
"It's okay Chuuya, we understand completely."
Tachihara had his arms folded, a severe look on his face. "Who the hell does that traitor think he is?"
"He's literally suicidal!" Higuchi nodded along, "And has the work ethic of a depressed goldfish."
"He's scary." Elsie added, "He did this self portrait once before and it was absolutely horrifying! And he findswaytoo much amusement in other people's pain."
"And he'sawfulto you, Boss!" Tachihara said, "Didn't he try to bomb your car that one time? And isn't he the reason why the Sheep turned against you when you were both fifteen? And isn't he always making fun of your height?"
Gin furiously scribbled:He's a manipulative little shit.
"Goodgod, and now he wants to be in a relationship?" Tachihara was shaking his head, "With the amazing, incredible, and downright lovable Chuuya Nakahara? He really thinks he's all that, huh? Thenarcissistic little bugger, someone ought to knock him down a peg."
"He's just no good for you." Higuchi agreed, "Simple as that."
"Ofcoursehe isn't." Chuuya exclaimed, "Iknow that!That's not what I was - I mean, he's not-"
Dazai? Liking himromantically?
Just the thought of it made him-! Well, he didn't know exactly what. Just angry. He knew for sure that at this moment he was feeling very angry. And not just at Dazai
"Okay, everyone out."
"What?!" Higuchi said, eyes widening, "Chuuya doesn't want us around?"
"No. Y'all better not start crying, I have enough of a headache as it is."
"I can bring you medicine..." Gin began.
"Nope, no. Don't need it. Everyone gets out now. Except maybe Elise because I think she practically lives here maybe."
Higuchi, Gin, and Tachihara were all taller than him, but he was having no trouble shoving them across the room and to the door.
They stumbled into the hall, looking like a harried trio of lemmings.
"Was it something we said?" Tachihara made one last attempt, "If so, we're sorr-"
Chuuya slammed the door in his face.
Grumbling he walked back to Mori's desk. Elsie was sitting on top it, licking a lollipop and batting her eyelashes innocently lest Chuuya decide to kick her out too.
She didn't have any reason to worry.
Chuuya spent the rest of the day silently fuming over paperwork.
He couldn't wait for this to be over.
Chapter 11: Got Me Feeling All Weird Now 𝟙/𝟚
As unbelievable as it sounded, Osamu Dazai did in fact screw things up from time to time.
Sure, he could solve nearly any problem that he faced with a snap of his fingers. Not to mention that he possessed an uncanny ability to turn any situation in his favor. But he was only human in the end, and occasionally hedidslip up.
Take for example, just earlier that day. When he made the very poor decision of returning to the Armed Detective Agency.
The people he worked with were all amazing individuals. Even though he didn't show it all the time, he cared deeply and sincerely for each and every one of them. They were his rock, his foundation, the ones who had kept him from drowning in his own madness after leaving the Port Mafia.
Maybe that was why Dazai had gone back. Perhaps a part of him believed that his associates were capable of returning back to normal on their own. The same way Atsushi had back in the alley.
When he had strolled into the offices, he saw that everyone, with exception of the weretiger, was there. They were busily shuffling through pictures of the Nakahara, looking for clues pointing to his whereabouts.
Odd, yes, but notterriblycrazy.
Kunikida, very in character, had yelled at Dazai for slacking off and disappearing from work. Yosano had discreetly peeked over her paperwork, frowning in disappointment when she saw that Dazai would not be requiring her psychotic healing methods. And Ranpo was too distracted by his snacks to even acknowledge Dazai's arrival.
All typical behavior.
Things quickly went south, however, when Kunikida didn't stop hounding Dazai about where exactly he had been this whole time and Dazai let it slip that the answer to that question was with Chuuya.
That immediately prompted a collective outcry from the agency members. After gushing about the guy, they demanded Dazai tell them where this "beautiful-man-unworthy-of-their-mortal-gaze" was.
Dazai, miming a gag, had replied with a lie. That he, in summary, "didn't know nor frankly care about what thatquarrelsome slugwas up to."
Clearly, that had been the wrong thing to say because his horrified associates then called him a traitor and pulled out their weapons.
Dazai had only half started his speech about remembering who they were and what they fought for when Tanizaki somehow managed to pick him up and yeet him through the window.
That was a perfect example of him screwing up
But hey. You live, you learn, you move on.
His next course of action was significantly more thought out. After spending the rest of the day combing through Yokohama, he made the decision to scale a certain building with his bare hands.
He was currently perched upon a window sill, trying to wedge it open with a crowbar under the cover of the night.
Would it have been easier to break the glass? Probably. But Dazai was still feeling sore (emotionally and physically) from being thrown out the agency window, and he wasn't in the mood to be beaten up for property damage.
The task before him was proving to be quite difficult however, with his coat flapping to and fro in the frosty wind. He apologized to his old friend and took it off, allowing it to flutter away into the city skyline.
"We'll be reunited soon," he promised. With one final tug, he finally managed to slide the window open. With both arms, he whisked the curtains to a side and leapt through the frame, landing in a silent crouch onto the carpeted floor.
A chilly gust of air blew in after him, moonlight yawning across the carpet.
Somewhere in the back of the room Dazai had just broken into, there came a small, absentminded sound of discomfort.
At the sound of it, Dazai quickly straightened and carefully closed the window. The night wind continued to howl against it, but at least it wasn't cold anymore.
Dazai picked his way across the carpet, avoiding an unopened bottle and scatter of papers on the floor before stopping in front of a heavily-cushioned redwood bed.
It's large, Dazai couldn't help but note,funny, considering the person occupying it.
That person, of course, being Chuuya.
Dazai, hands folded behind his back, stepped closer to get a better look. The executive (or was it Boss now?) must've gone straight to bed once he arrived back at his apartment. He hadn't even bothered to change out of his day clothes, nor pull down the covers. He was using his black overcoat as a blanket, snuggling with his hat as if it were a teddy bear.
He was really that exhausted, huh?
Dazai thought with perhaps a touch of guilt. After all, it had been his idea to have Chuuya accept Mori's proposition. And he had also left without telling Chuuya when they were to meet again.HeknewChuuya wasn't the best and handling stress.
But there really hadn't been any other way to escape their predicament. Even now, Dazai stuck by his decisions. He always did.
The least he could do to make up for the whole becoming boss thing was probably to let Chuuya continue to sleep. The menace looked oddly peaceful, with his nose buried into his hat, hair thrown over the velvet pillows. Chest rising and falling in a steady, gentle rhythm.
Perhaps...perhaps Dazai could hang around until morning, have Chuuya wake up to the smell of breakfast or something.
But. Mmm. No. That would waste too much time. Besides, Dazai didn't know how to cook.
He leaned down and prodded Chuuya sharply in the shoulder.
Chuuya's face grimaced as he stirred, turning away from his hat with a groan.
"Wake up Chuuya~!"Dazai said in a sing-song voice, "We've got things to do!"
Chuuya's eyes fluttered open. For a moment, he looked dazed -- and Dazai was struck with the sudden urge to take a picture and make it his wallpaper.
Before he could make anything of that impulse however, Chuuya's eyes blew wide.
"DAZAI?!"he practically shrieked, springing up immediately.
He got wound up in his own coat and tumbled off the bed with a heavythump.
Dazai looked down to see Chuuya in a big heap of fabric on the floor. "Oh. My bad."
Chuuya sat up, coat falling to his lap and bracing his elbow against the mattress. He looked Dazai up and down, as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"How the HELL did YOU get into my apartment!?"
"Through the window." Dazai said cheerily, jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the direction he came from, "Had to sneak around some guards and I lost my coat, but I managed to get in. Yay!"
"What?We're on the twenty sixth floor god dammit are you suici -" he stopped short, remembering just who he was talking to. He shook his head,"That's not the point. You can't be here right now. I don't think you understand just how much the mafia hates you--"
"Relax, I was careful."
"Still, this is a bad idea. Moreover, didn't you say we would meet uptomorrow?"
"Itistomorrow." Dazai said, offering his hand,"A little after midnight, to be specific."
"What the --Midnight?"
"Ohcome on, Chuuya-kun. When you talk like that it sounds like you're unhappy to see me!"
"Usually I am," Chuuya grumbled, taking Dazai's hand and allowing himself to be hauled to his feet, "But considering you left me out to dry last time, I'm glad to see that your sorry face is still intact. Was thisreallywhat you meant by tomorrow?"
"No," Dazai found himself admitting, "but the agency is a little less than fond of me at the moment and most of the members know where I live."
Chuuya's expression changed, irritation lifting ever so slightly. "Oh. Uh..."
He shifted his weight, "...did you...need a place to stay?"
There was an awkward silence.
Did he hear that correctly? Since when did Chuuya offer Dazai anything? Since when did Chuuya respond to him with anything other than a snarky comment?
"Was that..." Dazai said slowly, genuinely asking, "...an option?"
Dazai saw his own awkwardness reflected on Chuuya's features in the form of a blush.
Staying over...that didn't sound so bad. They'd probably stay up talking/bantering until one couldn't think of a comeback and pretended to doze off.
Oh! And I'd be able to get pictures of morning-Chuuya! That's sure to be embarrassing, excellent blackmail material...
And the thought of it sort of just made Dazai feelwarm. He couldn't say exactly why, just that it did. Weird.
However... he had other business to attend to.
Business that he wasn't ready to disclose.
"It's fine, I would hate to impose." Dazai said, "There's a delightful hotel around the corner with very nice support beams in the lobby. I want to try tying a noose around them."
Chuuya released Dazai's hand, rolling his eyes, "Of course you do."
"Anyway, I stopped by to give you this," Dazai said, withdrawing a slip of paper from his pocket and handing it to the other man. "Don't open it until the morning."
"...sure." Chuuya said, eyes downcast as he tucked it into his vest. Now that his anger had worn out, he was looking tired again. And...small. Smaller than he usually was.
"Get some sleep," he said.
"Well, I'm awake now so-"
Dazai shoved him.
"Wha-?!"Chuuya exclaimed as he unceremoniously fell back onto the bed. Dazai picked the coat off the floor and flapped it over the Port Mafia's new boss before he could protest.
" You have a long day ahead of you, Chuuya, and I rather not have you crabby in the morning, you might tear the whole Port Mafia down for all I know." Dazai shrugged, walking to the window.
"Will not," Chuuya mumbled, although it was obvious he was already getting drowsy.
"Of course, of course. But regardless you should be getting eight hours of rest each night, you know? If you stay up stressing the whole time you might get an ulcer."
It was not until he had one foot out the window did he hear:
Curious, Dazai turned over his shoulder.
Chuuya was settled in, loose strands of hair fallen over his face, gloves fiddling with a thread in the mattress. He was not looking at him. "Hotel's got good support beams, hm?"
Dazai, not sure where he was going with this, said, "Yes, that's what I've heard."
Chuuya exhaled, eyes flicking up, "Whatever. Just...please don't off yourself before you've helped me fix this...okay?"
Dazai smiled, "Sure thing."
And with that, he was gone.
Chapter 12: Got Me Feeling All Weird Now 𝟚/𝟚
The second after Dazai vanished from view, Chuuya promptly turned over and screamed into his pillow.
Don't off yourself before you've helped me fix this? Ugh, why did I even bother with that one?
Everyone knew that despite how much Dazai went on and on about suicide, he was yet to actually do it.
And why,whyhad he offered to let Dazai stay over? Heknewhow bad that man was at handling anything even remotely resembling kindness. Didn't he keel over and faint that one time the tiger kid brought him flowers? It was shocking that he hadn't started vomiting blood when Chuuya made the suggestion.
Stupid, just stupid.
And yet...he didn't regret it?
Dazai had looked taken aback -- which was immensely satisfying in its own right -- but he didn't seemupset. Surprised, maybe. And before he leapt through the window, that smile on his face...
No, no! Why would Dazai -
Chuuya had a sudden flashback to his earlier conversation with Higuchi, Tachihara, Gin, and Elise.
He stuffed his face further into the pillow, all too aware of the way it was heating up.
Damn those four!
They've got me feeling all weird now...
Chapter 13: The Infallible Plan
The following morning in Yokohama was awash with gorgeous sunlight.
It bounced off of every plane of glass and metal pole -- colorful birds chirped among the swaying trees and stray cats sprawled out across the pavement to bathe in the warm rays. Laughing children took their parents' hands and pulled them along the streets. Store owners opened their shops with pleasant smiles.
All in all, it was the sort of deceptive weather that usually meant a thunderstorm was bound to happen later in the afternoon.
Like most,Ichiyō Higuchi didn't pay much attention to the future forecast. It was bright and sunny now, wasn't it? Might as well enjoy the good weather while it lasted. She had woken up in a good mood. It was a weekday, which meant she got to go into work and see Chuuya!
As a matter of fact, she had even arrived at the Port Chuafia early, humming a happy little melody to herself as she pushed open the doors to the main building's lobby.
It appeared that she wasn't the only one who had decided to show up sooner than scheduled. The decorations from the big fancy party were being taken down, the large table pushed to a side. In the place where it had been was a large pedestal. Koyo was directing a group of workers carving a chunk of copper perched ontop of it, her demonic avatar assisting in small cuts and slashes.
Still humming, Higuchi walked past it, smiling when she saw that the little plaque attached to the pedestal read:Boss Chuuya Nakahara.They were making a statue of Nakahara-san in the lobby? Perfect! Why hadn't there been one before?
Higuchi briefly considered taking the elevator to her office, but then decided against it. What if Chuuya needed the elevator? She'd hate to be the reason why he had to climb the stairs!
Just before she exited the lobby however, she heard:
"I'm telling you Gramps, he totally kicked us out. I feel awful..."
Gathered by boxes of packed away decorations was the Black Lizard, voices hushed in conversation.
"Morning!" Higuchi said, heading for them, "May the Chu be with you, anything interesting and/or preferably Chuuya-related happening?"
Once upon a time, she had been at odds with the members of the tactical unit known as the Black Lizard. But after they helped her save someone she cared about, they were all on good terms now.
Someone she cared about? Huh. Strange...how come she couldn't remember who that had been?
"Hey Higuchi," Tachihara said with a small bob of his head, "we were just telling Hirotsu about how Chuuya got really mad about the whole Dazai thing."
Hirotsu stroked his beard thoughtfully, "From the sound of it, he must have been really distressed."
"Ugh, that Dazai," Higuchi hissed, "We ought to never mention his name in here ever again."
"Agreed," two thirds of the Black Lizard chorused, Gin taking to nodding instead.
"Still," Tachihara said, "Is it just me, or was that outburst especially hostile? For a second there, I was scared he was going to crush the whole building."
If Chuuya were to crush the whole building then that would be his will and I would be fine with itGin wrote pointedly.
"Me too! That's not what I meant!"
"Then whatdidyou mean?" Higuchi asked.
"Well," Tachihara said, waving his hands as if to cast about for the words needed to articulate his thoughts, "you know, it sounded almost as if he wererepressing something else."
Repressing something? The four of them stood there, deep in thought.
Higuchi gasped, snapping her fingers, "Oh! I've got it! Withyou-know-whochasing him around all the time, he probably hasn't had a chance to pursue his other romantic options!"
"You're absolutely correct!"
"How could we have been so blind?"
"Poor Chuuya," Higuchi went on, hugging her arms to her chest, "we should to help him out."
Help him out...?Gin inquired, holding up a notecard next to her confused face. Her eyes then sparkled and she answered her own question,Lets set him up with someone!
"Excellent notion!" Hirotsu said, "Just...with who?"
Once again, they were all lost in thought.
"Well, lets go over our options." Higuchi said, "Tachihara? Uh, I don't know, he doesn't seem loyal enough..."
"Fair," Tachihara sighed, subconsciously rubbing his band-aid.
I'm not into men.
"Hm, that could definitely be a problem."
How about you Higuchi?
Higuchi blushed, "Don't be silly, I'm not worthy. Akutagawa maybe?"
Why did she feel so peculiar saying that?
But why not Akutagawa?Higuchi thought,He's handsome, and not to mention perf-
Higuchi's finger suddenly went to her now pounding temple, losing her train of thought.
"Akutagawa is a crybaby in Chuuya's presence," Hirotsu said dismissively, "Who said we had to pick someone form the chuafia? I can see him and Kunikida hitting it off in regards to their shared distaste for the bandaged man. Or even that tiger lad, he has a good heat.
"True," Tachihara said, "but it would probably be a pain to have a boyfriend that much taller than you. Or in the case of Atsushi -- a boyfriend with a bounty over his head."
Also, Chuuya isn't a furry,Gin added,I'm thinking Ranpo? Maybe they had a connection in that mystery novel? Lucy Montgomery? John Steinbeck? Or even Yosano -- they both like drinking.
Higuchi punched her fist into the wall, "Come on you guys, we need to think bigger! This isChuuyawe're talking about. Whoever we match with him has to be perfect!"
"Do you mind ifImade a suggestion?"
The four of them turned around to see that Ogai Mori had approached them.
He was in his casual clothes, a bit of stubble on his chin. After he ceded his position to Chuuya, he had never officially rejoined the chuafia. So technically speaking, he was just some random guy who hung around a lot.
"No offence Mori-san," Tachihara exhaled, "but I think you're just a tad bit too old for him."
Mori laughed like Tachihara had just made a really good joke, "Don't be silly, I'm not talking about myself."
Higuchi furrowed her brow. Her former boss looked just a little bittoodelighted. "Who is it that you have in mind then?"
Smiling broadly, Mori leaned forward and whispered a name.
Hirotsu clapped his hands together.
Tachihara pumped his fist.
Gin drew a picture of a thumbs up.
"Mori-san, you might not be apart of the Port Chuafia anymore," Higuchi declared, putting a hand on his shoulder, "but you're still abrilliantman."
We can set them up on a blind date!Gin scribbled enthusiastically.
"There's this neat coffee place that I know," Tachihara said just as giddily, "I'll make a reservation for this afternoon."
"Wait..." Higuchi said, something occurring to her, "Doesn'tthat guysort of look like you-know-who though? Many say that they're cut from the same cloth..."
"Come on Higuchi, this plan is infallible," Tachihara said, "besides, can you think of anyone else?"
Higuchi could not.
"Alright. But perhaps we should spy on them. Just in case."
"Excellent, excellent!" Mori exclaimed, "I'm glad we're all in agreeance. Well then, there's no time to delay. Come now, lets find a way to get a call through to theRats in the House of the Dead!"
Chapter 14: A Threat Among The Fan Mail
Meanwhile, oblivious to the disastrous plans being made without his consent, Chuuya Nakahara arrived at the mafia buildings still feeling groggy and irritable from the night before.
Taking special care to avoid his infatuated comrades, he made his way to what had once been Mori's office and slipped inside.
There were three things that he noticed right away:
One -- half of the windows that made up the left wall were covered by mechanical shades -- creating an orange, glowing effect.
Two -- there was an enormous stack of letters on Mori's desk, envelopes varying vastly in size and color.
Three -- Elsie was tied to a chair.
Chuuya rushed over to the little girl, "Elise! What happened? Who did this to you?"
She made an annoyed, muffled sound. He reached for the red cloth around her mouth, fully intending to pull it loose -
Standing next to the desk was Dazai. His brown eyes were downcast as he sorted through the letters, casually tossing them into separate piles. Evidently, he had somehow managed to find his coat, as he was currently wearing it despite there being a good number of scruff marks on the fabric.
"Good morning, Chuuya," he said airily, mostly distracted by what he was doing, "I hope you found the contents of my note to be alright?"
Note? Oh. That little slip of paper he had given Chuuya.
Dammit, I totally forgot to read it.
"Nevermind that right now," Chuuya said, "Why is Elise tied up?"
Dazai let out an overly melodramatic sigh, rolling his shoulders back "She happened to be here when I came in and started screaming so I only did the natural thing."
"Dazai-! You can't just tie children up!"
The detective shrugged, "Meh. If you swear her to secrecy you can probably let her go. Probably."
Grumbling, Chuuya knelt in front of Mori's ability. Through gritted teeth he said, "Okay, Elise. I know you're not the biggest fan of that sadistic idiot over there, but I've got business with him -- do you think you can keep this all under wraps for me?
Elsie nodded her head and Chuuya readily undid the ropes.
"Chu!" she gasped once he removed the gag, face practically sparkling, "You should have said something yesterday when we were all talking so badly about him! I had no idea you felt the same w-"
"Why don't you go play with your fellow children, Elise?" Chuuya said hurriedly, leaping to his feet and gently steering her towards the door.
"But I don't know any other children! Except for Q, but they scare me."
"Go play with Kajii then, he acts enough like a child."
Before she left, she pressed a little finger to her lips and giggled, "I'll keep your secret Chu, no need to worry!"
Once she was gone, Chuuya whirled to Dazai. He was going to continue to yell at him, but ended up saying with a sigh instead, "I'd ask how you got in here but I don't think I want to know."
Dazai grinned. He glanced briefly at the current mafia boss with twinkling eyes before returning to organizing the letters.
Chuuya felt a burst of something fluttery. Ha, he got Dazai to smile.
Wait, what the hell?
Ugh, not this again.Truth was, he always felt this spark of energy whenever he got a reaction out of Dazai. But never had he given it a name before.
'Triumph'seemed to be the most appropriate word to use...yet...after what his subordinates had suggested...
Damn! Why did they have to put the words 'Dazai' and 'romance' in the same sentence? Absolutely disgusting, how dare they suggest something so impossible. I t's totally not like they just brought some underlying feeling that I was only vaguely aware of and never gave serious thought to into focus or anything like that...
Besides, Dazai had said it himself, hadn't he?
He didn't love Chuuya.
And Chuuya had told him that made him happy to hear.
As it should!
Chuuya crossed over to stand beside the bandaged man, "So...what's all this?"
"The letters? They were here when I arrived," Dazai said, setting down the stack he was holding. "I took the liberty of sorting them for you. That pile over there is fan mail and the other one is marriage proposals. Read the former if you want an ego boost and read the latter if you want to be disappointed in pretty much everyone that you know."
"Sorting them?" Chuuya echoed, "The hell, just toss them all."
Dazai finally looked up, a look of mock suprise on his face, "But how could I? They'rehilarious.Here, let me read one to you!"
"Dazaaaai, aren't there more important things for us to be doing?" Chuuya groaned, flopping onto the desk chair.
"Dearest Nakahara-san," Dazai went on with a flourish anyways, holding out a bright blue piece of construction paper, "I am your biggest fan. The way that you are so grumpy and so gravity makes me smile everyday. Don't ever change -- Ango Sakaguchi."
Dazai chuckled, "It's funny how theyallsay that they're your biggest fan. Shouldn't there only be one?"
"Literally don't care."
"Fine, lets try a more poetic one -- Darling Chuuya,treasure of my heart."
Dazai's voice took on a feathery, luminous tone as if he were some stage performer. The change was so drastic that it was almost scary.
"Your eyes are as blue as the most tropical of waters, brimming with the intelligence of life. Your smile -- though rare and fleeting, is enough to make the god relent and skies open wide for the sun to come on through. Gravity bends and contorts at your whim, envious that it is you and not it who the world holds to be its finest creation. I pray thee never-Oh gosh I can't do this anymore."
Dazai had started laughing, "This is from Kunikida-kun! I honestly can't tell whether this should go with the fan mail or marriage proposals. Haha! Who am I kidding, I'm taking this with me, he's going to besomad when he gets back to normal. And--"
Dazai's eyes widened and he doubled over, laughing even harder, "Chuuya, are you actually turning red?"
"Wha?" Chuuya said, then quickly looked away, "What no. Of course not, that was cringy."
Elbow on the desk, he propped his head up with his fist and huffed, "It's not like anyone actually meant what they wrote in those letters. They're all under the control of some mysterious ability, remember?"
For a moment there, he had felt like how he had when he first returned to Yokohama. Surprised by the extent that people seemed to care about him. And...well...maybe not even minding it too terribly.
That was, of course, before being slapped in the face by the reality of the situation.
Chuuya growled, " You know, the very same mysterious ability that we should beactively trying to get rid of. I know you definitely did some sleuthing after you left my place yesterday, did you find anything?"
"Ah, hold on a second," Dazai whined, ripping open another letter, "This one's from the Guild, it ought to be good-"
Dazai stopped short, amusement winking out and smile crumpling, eyes hardening as they scanned over the words faster.
"Fan mail or marriage proposal?" Chuuya said dully.
"Neither," Dazai said, "blackmail."
"They have Atsushi and Akutagawa." Dazai explained. To anyone else, his tone might have appeared to be that same lilting one he always used, but Chuuya knew him long enough to identify the fury that tinged it.
"Let me see that," Chuuya said, snatching the letter and reading it for himself, "How did they even - hold on,they want me to be their WHAT?"
Dazai thought for a moment. "I'd like to get Atsushi back...poor thing gets kidnapped way too often."
"So, do you do that thing where you ignore Akutagawa on purpose or...?"
"It's not that," Dazai said, "Atsushi went back to normal on his own yesterday -- he might know something we do not."
Chuuya stared at him.
"...I'm not becoming the Guild's mascot."
"And perhaps you don't have to. I'm going to try negotiating with Fitzgerald."
Dazai folded the letter and put it in his pocket, making his way to the door.
"Nah, I've got some more poking around to do first," Dazai said, "and it'll probably be best if you tagged along as well, in case things get messy."
"You know, the usual. I might need you to beat some people up. See if you can get off of work early without causing a ruckus, alright?" He paused in the doorway, turning around to flash a dangerous grin, "Pick you up at four?"
Chuuya, who had not beaten up anyone in a while and sorely missed the feel of bones crunching underneath his fist, couldn't help but return the look with a smirk of his own.
"I'll see you then."
Chapter 15: Always Careful
Later that day...
By the time Dazai had arrived at Chuuya's apartment, the bright blue sky had become shadowed with dark, ominous clouds.
Dazai didn't really pay much attention to it. What hedidpay attention to, however, was the fact that the guards from last night were gone.
Odd,He thought,I'll have to look into that.
Since he no longer had any reason to go through the window, Dazai took the elevator up to Chuuya's floor and made his way to the door like a normal person instead.
He had with him a small box pastries. Originally, they had only been for him. But when the bakery owner found out that he was meeting with the object of her adoration, she insisted that he take them for free under the sole condition that he would share them with that "glorious commander of gravity".
Of course, Dazai could just as easily have eaten them all during his walk and laughed at the sight of Chuuya's priceless reaction to the empty box. But after observing how Chuuya was handling people being nice to him so far -- well --Dazai kind of wanted to see his reaction to a box with stuff actually in it even more.
That was the only reason why he was yet to even open the cover.
Totally not because Chuuya seemed so stressed out lately and Dazai didn't like that look on his face and maybe something as small as an unopened box of sweets might make him feel if not happier than at least surprised enough to not be frustrated about everything in his life for once and okayDazaiwasjustgoingtogoinsidenow.
He rapped on the door twice with the back of his knuckles.
"It's open!" came a voice from the other side.
Dazai entered. He looked around, "OhChuuya-kun~, where are you? I brought cookies!"
"That's nice Dazai," Chuuya said, sweeping past him and taking the box. He set it down on the coffee table next to a pot of what smelled like chai before hurrying off.
Orrrr he could just completely ignore it instead. Okay, sure, that works too.
Dazai took it upon himself to flop onto the couch. He watched with mild interest as Chuuya flurried about his own house.
He was dressed differently than usual, wearing a white button down with a dark red vest, his gloves and choker the only familiar parts of his outfit. Not even his iconic hat was anywhere in sight.
"This might just be the first time I've ever entered your place through the front door," Dazai mussed, "I'm surprised, I honestly thought a dollhouse would be a better fit for the chibi. You know, so everything is to scale. But these teacupsareso cute and tiny! Mind if I have?"
"What?" Chuuya was in the kitchenette, examining his reflection in a toaster, "Yeah sure, I made it for you, have as much as you want."
Dazai had no idea how to respond to that.
Chuuya made tea for a guest? And not just for any guest, forDazai?Then he openly admitted to it? That was so...civil of him. That could only mean one thing.
Something was wrong.
Dazai straightened, face serious, "Alright, what happened?"
Chuuya came back into the living room, running an agitated hand through his hair and falling heavily into the couch across from Dazai.
"I can't come."
"Oh?" Dazai said, raising a teacup to his lips, "The Port Chuafia causing you trouble?"
"I told you not to call them that. And no, it's not them. I mean, yes, it is. Well, not exactly.Ugh."
"Use your words, Chuuya."
Chuuya pressed the heels of both his palms into his face and shouted at the ceiling, "All I wanted to do was kick around some goons for one afternoon,WAS THAT REALLY TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR, UNIVERSE?"
"That answered nothing," Dazai pointed out.
"I have a date with Fyodor Dostoevsky."
Dazai spat out his tea and began coughing violently into the crook of his arm.
"Before you ask, it's the Port Mafia's doing. They even broke the guy out of jail." When Dazai didn't say anything because he was still wheezing, Chuuya buried his head in his hands, "Go on, laugh it up."
"The one who tried to wipe out both our organizations multiple times and is quite literally a sociopath?ThatFyodor Dostoevsky?"
"Chuuya," A bitter smile better suited for war split Dazai's face, "Why the hell did you accept?"
Chuuya lifted his head, furrowing a brow, "Aren't you the one who told me to go along with what ever the mafia said?"
"How ever did you reach that conclusion?" Dazai said, aghast, "I said that about becoming Boss because the mafia was bound to haul you off either way. For whatever's going on here,there were probably about a dozen ways to convince them otherwise."
"Well I'msorry.Not everyone has a silver-tongue like you, Dazai! Whatever, if that's the case then just help me get out of this now!"
"Ican't." Dazai said, massaging his temples, "Not without stirring up even more trouble. I know how to the handle the mafia, but that rat is unpredictable. Even I have to admit that the best thing to do at this point is just to go out with him."
He couldn't help the venom that dripped into his voice. If there was one person that he had more beef with than Chuuya, it was Fyodor. And at least Chuuya wasn't an evil, homicidal, no good excuse for a human being.
Dazai gestured breezily at Chuuya, "And was it really necessary for you to go and make yourself look all nice for the occasion?"
"Look, according to Tachihara, Dostoevsky cancelled the initial reservation at a café and booked some fancy restaurant instead. " Chuuya said, "I amnotgoing dressed like a half-wit. And that's not what's important right now, are you going to be okay meeting with the Guild by yourself?"
"Ishouldbe," Dazai said in the same sulky tone a teenager might use when being told to be grateful for something, "But it's going to be soboringnow."
Dazai sunk further into the couch, "Really?Fyodor? Of all the people..."
"Again, wasn't my choice," Chuuya said, checking a silver watch around his wrist and rising, "I've got to go -- the mafia might break into this place to search for me if I'm even a minute late."
"Fine, fine go," Dazai said with a waving motion, "Wait actually, here, give me your phone first."
"Why do you need my phone?" Chuuya asked, although he had already went to place it in Dazai's hand.
"I'm going to give you my actual number," Dazai said, vaguely aware of the change in Chuuya's expression as the current mafia boss realized that the reason why Dazai had never answered his calls before was because he hadn't given him a real number.
He tossed the phone, Chuuya caught it.
"Call me if he...tries anything."
"They say the two of you are very similar, you know," Chuuya said, adjusting his tie, "I'm sure I can take him down with a single punch to the gut."
"Haha, very funny. Don't worry Chuuya, I know you're more than capable of handling yourself." Dazai said, lounging over the backrest to watch Chuuya exit. He hesitated, then added, "Just...be careful alright?"
"Don't be stupid," Chuuya said, "I'm always careful."
Considering the validity of that statement...
Dazai thought with a wince as the door closed.
...I am starting to think I should be worried...
Chapter 16: Making Things Up
You would think that having the ability to turn into an enormous bulletproof tiger would at the very least deter people from trying to snatch Atsushi Nakajima off the street.
Yet, since coming to Yokohama, he had been thrown into the backs of vans, loaded onto smuggling ships, yanked into magical realms, and not to mention imprisoned in a giant flying mechanical whale that one time.
He really must have been hit with some extra dosage of bad luck at birth. It couldn't possibly be normal to be kidnappedthatmany times...
Either way, if one thing was for sure, Akutagawa didn't have nearly as much experience with the whole being held against your will thing. Like the short-sighted lawnmower Atsushi had always known him to be, he had viciously attacked the bars of their shared cell until he wore himself out and went to go sit in the corner.
Since there was no one else to talk to, Atsushi supposed hecouldtry to spark some sort of dialogue with the sulky mafioso. Even if it was just their usual banter, it would be nice to listen to something other than the scrambling of rats across the damp floor of the Guild's Japanese Base's prison.
However, he was also certain that Akutagawa's lucidity had only been brief and at the moment he was back to being completely and utterly enthralled with Dazai's ex-partner.
Atsushi wasn't in the mood to deal with that again.
No, what he had to focus on now was a plan. A while back, he had escaped the Guild's clutches with the help of one of their own. But considering that the last time Atsushi had seen Lucy Montgomery was yesterday when she was making cookies shaped like little Chuuyas (Chuuyai, Chuuyii, whatever the plural was), something told him that wasn't going to fly this time around. And he also didn't think he could rely on anyone from the agency either, since they were probably busy buying/consuming said cookies.
Dammit! After everything the agency has been through, is THIS really what has got them in such a bind? And I'm glad Lucy left the Guild and everything --but man! Where's a temperamentaltsundere when you need one?
"Jinko." he rasped.
Atsushi glanced at him, "Yeah?"
"We have...no other choice...must...combine our abilities..."
The junior detective ducked away from a tendril that lazily tried to wrap around him.
"I uh -- I think we're both just a little too weak to try that right now." he said, flinching a little at the blatant lie. He wasn't very good at being deceptive, and could only hope Akutagawa didn't notice and make the decision to relieve his head of his shoulders.
While it was true that their abilities were stronger together, strong enough to break down the bars, Atsushi really didn't know if he could trust Akutagawa in this state.
Akutagawa raised his head just high enough to glare at his rival with those dismal eyes of his, "So, how to we escape then?"
Atsushi didn't know. What he did know was that something very,verystrange was going on. After all the time he spent sitting in this cell, he was able to recall his memories of being a chu-maniac along with everyone else. He had quite literally been willing to die for that adorable creature of perfecti-
Wait, huh? Shit, looked like he wasn't completely fixed either. Ugh! How did this even happen? What waswitheveryone?
"Dazai-san will save us."
Atsushi said this with a note of certainty, "Or at least give us an opening. He's always thinking ahead, he must have seen this coming, right? There's no way he would have let us get captured if he didn't think we could get out."
"Uhhhh,"Akutagawa rolled his eyes, "there you go on again aboutDazai-san.Why are you so obsessed with him?"
"Why amIobsessed with him?" Atsushi exclaimed incredulously, "Last time I checked it wasyouwho was so desperate for his approval that you killed- "
"Pagan," Akutagawa hissed, "Blasphemer. Do you not know anything of our lord and savior, Chuuya?"
Akutagawa actually seemed to perk up a bit, "Would you like me to enlighten you?"
"This is unbelievable," Atsushi said, rubbing the bridge of his nose, "No,Akutagawa. No, I don't care."
"Well I'm going to tell you anyways. It all began many years ago when a foreign spy was tortured to the point his pain and anguish summoned the god of Calamity-- Arahabaki -- who was kept under control by a certain facility until its seal was broken and the entity merged with a young boy..."
"Okay, so now I know you're making things up-"
A tendril lashed in the space above his head, cracks forming in the concrete wall.
"Say that again and I'll kill you," Akutagawa snarled with such a ferocity that instead of looking for an escape Atsushi found himself shutting up and listening to what probably constituted to the entire life story of Chuuya Nakahara.
It was almost a relief when he heard footsteps coming down the corridor.
Akutagawa's voice trailed off, eyes narrowing, and Atsushi leapt to his feet, fully prepared to face his captors.
The first face that emerged from the darkness was John, those unsettling vines in his neck curling in and out. He gave the prisoners a passive look, hands folded neatly behind his back and face devoid of emotion.
The second person was not someone Atsushi recognized. A foreigner short in stature. She wore a smile that was not at all threatening, eyes sparkling with what was either humor or sadism.
But it was neither of those two that made Atsushi's entire body seize up. That honor went to the third.
The third figure did not fully come forward, in fact Atsushi could hardly see it at all. The only thing he knew for certain that it was huge, towering heads above them all with large meaty hands. A single red eye glowed maliciously in the swath of black that obscured it.
He could not move. The aura that thing exerted...it was drenched in a musky cover of blood...Whatever it was, it knew nothing but murder.
The foreigner stepped forward.
"You're not under my influence, are you boy?"
The foreigner slid a single slender arm through the bars and made a beckoning motion with a bejeweled hand.
"Figured as much. Come here, I'll fix that right up for you."
"Who are you?" Atsushi finally managed to get out, still unable to fully peel his eyes away from the vaguely humanoid thing hovering just behind her, "You're not - you're not with the Guild, are you?"
The foreigner sighed, realizing the tiger youth had no intention of approaching her. "John, darling, do that thing you do."
John stepped up, vines bursting ahead. Atsushi didn't have time to react, they caught his wrist and ankles and pulled taut. Before he knew it, he was hurtling forward, the space between him and thatmonsterrapidly closing-
He suddenly jerked to a stop, midway to the bars.
He could still feel the vines trying to drag him closer, but something else had looped around his waist, pulling the other way.
"Hey," Akutagawa said, still hunched in his corner, "I wasn't done talking to him."
"Yes, yes." The foreigner said, "I heard you just getting to the part with Paul Verlaine, all very interesting. I'm sure he'll be far more enthusiastic to listen after I'm finished with him, dearie. Do let go."
Akutagawa did not let go.
"I wasn't done talking to him," he insisted.
Atsushi meanwhile had gritted his teeth to stop himself from crying out. Being pulled in both directions -- even with the strength he was drawing up from his ability, he still felt like he was about to snap in half!
"Who are you?"he demanded.
"You already asked that," the figure huffed, voice taking an irritable tone, sharply contrasting with the syrupy one she had used on Akutagawa moments earlier, "I don't have all day, boy. Tell your friend there to let go. I'd prefer you both alive for what's to come."
She snapped her fingers at John and pointed to Atsushi. John sent forth three more vines. Akutagawa sent three more tendrils to catch them.
"Strange..." the foreigner mussed, tilting her head, "Yours hasn't died, mad dog. But still, you're acting off. How unlucky, the one you have must be sickly...of a defective brood..."
Before either of the boys could figure out what that meant, a door in the back of the room swung open. The foreigner gasped as bright, intense light suddenly flooded the tiny prison.
As for Atsushi, he made the mistake of blinking.
Like a bad nightmare, they were gone. Both the foreigner and the monster. And the vines and Rashomon, they had gone too. Not retracted, not dissolved. Justgone.
"John," it was Lovecraft in the doorframe, looking well put together for someone who had been sleeping at the bottom of the ocean, "What's taking you, friend? That man with the terrible haircut is here on behalf of Nakahara-san, Fitzgerald wants you upstairs for the negotiations."
John Steinbeck lifted his head, his blank expression from before replaced with abject bewilderment. For a heartbeat, his confused eyes connected with Atsushi's.
His hand rose slowly to his temple, mouth opening with the intention of forming words, but then the hand dropped and mouth closed and he turned to head for the door, "Coming!"
With a heavyclang, the light vanished. Atsushi and Akutagawa were left alone in the darkness once more.
Atsushi whirled to Akutagawa, "What- what was that?!"
"That foreigner! And that - that creature!" Atsushi said, half hysterical, "Where did they go?"
Akutagawa's head lolled to a side, "Creature?"
"You know," Atsushi said, making vague motions with his hands, "The monster! I didn't see it very well but it looked huge! A-and it smelled like blood and that glowing eye..." he trailed off with a whimper. Even the memory of that terrible aura sent shivers up his spine.
Akutagawa stared at him for a solid minute.
"Come on Jinko," he said, "Stop making things up."
Chapter 17: The Devil's In The Details 𝟙/𝟚
Disclaimer: While Fyodor is portrayed as trash both here and in Bungou Stray Dogs, the actual real life Fyodor is an absolute king and I love his book. So yeah -- highly recommend if you like stories about ax wielding men justifying murder.
Although the restaurant was only a short way from Chuuya's apartment, Tachihara still insisted on driving him there.
Something about it recently being renamed The Gravity Man and because of the resulting increase in popularity, it being a bit hard to find.
Honestly, Chuuya was very tempted to tell his subordinate to take that car of his and drive it off a cliff. But the last thing he needed was to kick start another troublesome chain of events so here he was.
"This is going to be great!" Tachihara cackled over the steering wheel.
If you asked Chuuya, Tachihara was perhaps one of the last people that should be allowed behind a gas pedal (Dazai, of course, being on top of that list) but he was so resigned to life a this point that he didn't do anything other than stay put in the passenger's seat with his hands folded in his lap.
"Is it now?" he said drily.
"Yep!" Tachihara said with a broad smirk, "Trust me, this guy is perfect for you, no doubt about it. He's tall and handsome and cunning...Man, if this all goes well you should let Mori back into the mafia as an executive! It was actually his idea to contact -oops haha!Nearly let it slip there!"
Right. One thing he had forgot to mention to Dazai was that while no one hadsaidthe name 'Fyodor' when telling him about this blind-date, it was painfully obvious who they were talking about. Despite dropping the words "Russian" and "dude-behind-cannibalism" the mafia was still acting as if this was all going to be one big surprise.
Chuuya supposed he should probably be grateful that this mysterious ability had dumbed everyone down a bit. If Fyodor reallyhadbeen a surprise, well, Chuuya might have blown up the entire city and that would have been the end of that.
Fyodor. A blind date withFyodor.
Yeah, this is going to go just swimmingly.
Because the restaurant really was that close by, it was only a matter of minutes until Tachihara pulled up at the curb. Chuuya glanced out the window, heart sinking a little. The place seemed so large...
He quickly cast that thought a side. No. If stupid Dazai was single handedly negotiating with the Guild right now, he could totally deal with this rat. All he had to do was smile and nod, right?
"Alrighty then, off you go, Chuuya." Tachihara said, popping open the lock.
"Mm," Chuuya said, readily opening the car door and stepping out.
"Good -- ohwait wait, aren't you forgetting something?"
Chuuya shot him a quizzical look.
Tachihara was still grinning like an idiot. Never a good sign. Without any warning, the mafioso reached into the glove compartment and inexplicably withdrew the hat Chuuya very clearly remembered leaving behind.
"Wha-" Chuuya snatched the hat from his subordinate and once and turned it over. This was his alright, not even one of the cheap knock-offs that had been circulating around the mafia lately.
"Where did you get this?" he demanded.
"Where else?" Tachihara said with a look of complete innocence, "Your apartment."
"Yes, buthowdid you get into my apar-" Chuuya stopped himself short and with a growl, simply places it back on top his head. He had come to the realization that the less he knew, the better.
"I'll pick you back up in a bit!" Tachihara, oblivious to his boss' sour mood, said cheerfully, "Just give me a ca-"
Chuuya slammed the door shut.
Grumbling, he made his way across the sidewalk. Ugh, looks like he was going to have to tell Dazai they were going to need a new place to meet up. Fine, whatever, he didn't like Dazai in his apartment anyways. Once this was over, he was changing all the locks.
When he entered the restaurant, the first thing that struck him was that this place really wasfancy. The waiters and waitresses were decked out in full formal attire, blazers and ties and all. They carried platters of expertly arranged food on silver trays, expressions schooled and serious.
As for the space itself, it was wide and illuminated by a flickering candlelight, velvet curtains drawn over the windows as if to ignore the dreary weather outside. It was like walking into a dream.
The second the hostess saw who had just set foot in their establishment, her jaw dropped and eyes went wide. "Ch-Chuu-" she sputtered, hand going to her mouth.
"Yeah, it's me." Chuuya said, making jazz hands, "Chuuya Nakahara, best thing since sliced bread. Now keep it down, will ya? I don't want to be swarmed."
The hostess made a squeaking sound and nodded.
Chuuya rubbed the back of his neck, "I'm here with...Fyodor Dostoevsky?"
The hostess blinked several times before his words seemed to register. Her shoulders slumped forward, "Oh...so you're already taken?"
"Hell no." Chuuya snapped. Then, suddenly paranoid Fyodor could hear him from here, added, "I mean, not really. We'll see how this goes."
"Oh. Okay!" The hostess suddenly seemed to be in a much chipper mood, "Your table is right down there to your right. Enjoy!"
"Don't tell me what to do." Chuuya said instead of thanking her and briskly headed in the direction she pointed.
As he did, he couldn't help but notice the way his skin had gone clammy and how palpably he could feel his heart thumping in his chest.
He wouldn't say he wasafraid. He refused to. He was Chuuya Nakahara, he didn't-
Who was he kidding?
He was terrified.
Was that really so wrong though? It wasFyodor. The two of them had never actually met before, but Chuuya had often been in the blast zone of majority of his schemes.
That fiend was responsible for igniting a full scale battle between the Port Mafia and the agency, the one who hacked the Moby Dick and nearly caused Yokohama to burn to the ground. He had cruelly and callously murdered hundreds upon hundreds of people, including many of the mafia Chuuya had sworn to protect.
And there had also been that one time he literally stabbed Dazai in the back with a poisoned knife and caused his ability to be stolen and then Dazai turned into a dragon and Chuuya used Corruption even though he was warned there was a good chance Dazai was already dead but somehow Chuuya knew his idiotic partner was still kicking and jumped off a plane for him and everything.
Fyodor's moniker wasn't the "Devil" for nothing.
It looked like Chuuya wasn't going to have any time to at least prepare for what was bound to be a destructive collision of forces, because when he turned the corner to where the table the hostess pointed out was, it appeared that Dostoevsky was already there.
The other man had made himself quite comfortable, one leg kicked up over the other, smiling as he surveyed the menu in his hands. He too was dressed formally, looking perfectly at ease.
He must have really been absorbed in deciding what to eat because he didn't seem to notice Chuuya until the gravity-manipulator slid into the chair across from him and cleared his throat.
Like he had all the time in the world, the rat lowered the menu onto the table and lifted his head, dark hair falling to a side and smile spreading even wider.
For a second, it was almost impossible to miss the resemblance he bore to Dazai.
"Ah," Fyodor said, distinct accent already noticeable, "Nakahara-san, it's nice to finally make your acquaintance."
They regarded each other for a brief moment.
Chuuya swallowed, "Likewise."
Fyodor chuckled in a tone low enough to blend in with the restaurant chatter surrounding them. "I hope you find the food here to be to your liking. I've been craving Japanese cuisine ever since your little friends at the mafia knocked out the guards surrounding my cell."
"They...did do that, didn't they?" Chuuya hated how he couldn't get a read on this man.
"Oh yes, it was all very entertaining to watch."
Bitterly Chuuya said, "Are you enjoying your time as a free agent?"
How many people have you harmed since escaping? How many people have you killed?
Fyodor made a point of looking around the restaurant before his violet eyes landed back on the current mafia boss. He winked, "Well, I'm not sure 'free agent' is quite the right term to be used here."
It took an incredible amount of restraint not to hurl a chair at him.
Chuuya channeled that energy into instead taking his own menu and holding it over his face, pretending to read it as he had a miniature melt down. Was was he expect to make small talk with Fyodor? He wasn't good at making small talk with normal people for crying out loud!
A finger appeared at the top of the laminated sheet. The devil pushed Chuuya's menu back down, leaning forward as a sly grin split his face.
"Allow me to recommend something?"
"...sure." Chuuya said because there really wasn't anything else to say
Fyodor's index slid down to a starter, still looking at Chuuya as he spoke, "Well, I remember enjoying this. However, I don't remember it being calledThe Greatest Crime Committed By The Anime Was Omitting The Chain At The Side Of Chuuya's Hat.Although, I do think it suits it better, don't you agree?"
"Not really..." Chuuya said, squinting at a picture of a sushi platter that really didn't look like it had anything to do with anime or chains. He didn't have to check to know that the rest of the items on the menu had been similarly rebranded.
"I still suggest giving it a try, Nakahara-san."
There was something about Fyodor's formality that rubbed him the wrong way.
"Chuuya," Chuuya mumbled, "Chuuya is fine."
Both of Fyodor's eyebrows shot up, "Well, that was al lot faster than I thought. I am honored"
"Look," Chuuya said, waving a hand, "Pretty much everyone had been calling me by my first name for the past like, three days, so it doesn't matter if a rat does as well, yeah?"
A beat of silence.
"That's not what I said-" Chuuya said hurriedly, "I mean, itiswhat I said, strictly speaking, but not what I meant. I mean, everyone has been calling you that lately and I just thought-"
"It's okay,Chuuya," Fyodor said pleasantly, enunciating the name in such a way that made Chuuya suddenly regret letting him use it, "Coming from you it doesn't sound all that terrible. For a moment, I was worried that I had done something to make you dislike me."
"Whaaat?" Chuuya said with a nervous laugh, "Pshaw,of course not. I'm sure you're a...respectable human being. I didn't mean a word by it, I swear."
Fyodor's lip curled, a shadow crossing his face. His voice, however, still remained silky smooth, "Don't trip over yourself. I really do understand. With everyone liking you so much, you must be accustomed to talking to them however you want without fear."
Chuuya opened his mouth, but no words came out. Wait, no that wasn't right. Was it?
"I-I do yell a lot I guess. But I don't- I never mean to hurt-"
"It's funny isn't it?" Fyodor said, voice dripping with something venomous, "Howblindedthey are by you. How much theysaythey love you. Yet...I can't help but wonder. Do they really?"
"What even is love?" Fyodor continued, " How does one know they truly feel it? These people, they speak with such eloquence and do such trifle things. But those are all such basic, suchunderwhelmingdisplays of affection. Tell me, has anyone here actually done anythinggrandforyou? Somethingworthy?"
"No, Chuuya." Fyodor said quietly, "I don't think they love you. Not really. You deserve more than these peasants. In fact, I think it would be better if they all simply ceased to exist."
The room was suddenly very, very cold.
Chuuya felt his fingers tighten around the table cloth, "What...what are you saying?"
"Oh nothing," Fyodor smiled, waving the waiter over, "Just that, if I'm being completely honest with you darling, I feel that there's only one person who has ever felt anything for you at all."
"Yeah? And who would that be?"
It probably wasn't the best thing to say to stall for time, but tactical discourse wasn't exactly Chuuya's strong suit. He could only hope that Fyodor would take enough time reveling in whatever he was about to reveal.
Fyodor laughed, "Do you really want to know?"
With a fake smile plastered on his face, Chuuya nodded as he quickly scrolled past hundreds of unopened messages and texted Dazai underneath the table.
Chapter 18: The Devil's In The Details 𝟚/𝟚
Fyodor beamed, spreading his hands out wide.
"I have no idea!"
Chuuya nearly dropped his phone, "What? What do you mean you have no idea?"
He didn't understand. Had all that ominous build-up been for nothing?
Fyodor shrugged, "I really don't know who it is that loves you so dearly. Although...Iamvery tempted to say that person is me."
"I...I don't get it. What were you saying just a second ago? About everyone else ceasing to exist...?"
"Two orders of this -- yes. Thank you."
Fyodor said this not to Chuuya but to the waiter who had approached the table. The waiter nodded, then turned to the gravity-manipulator.
"C-Chuuya," he said, turning red, "Uh-um, can I get your autograph?"
"Scram,"Chuuya hissed -- to which the waiter did immediately.
Determined not to lose focus, Chuuya locked his eyes on Fyodor's and bit out, "Stop messing with me, what are you trying to say?"
"Hm?" the devil said, glancing at him, "Oh, yes. See, the truth is Chuuya..."
His voice took on a somewhat sultry tone, "It's odd. Seeing you there, right in front of me...I can hardly contain myself. You'reperfect --I love you more than any other. Say the words, and I would gladly slaughter everyone in this city in a heartbeat."
A chill ran up Chuuya's spine.
"Uh," he said, " No thank you. I don't want everyone in Yokohama dead."
Fyodor leaned in, the look in his eyes intense as a storm, "See? That's just the thing, neither do I."
Discomforted, Chuuya shifted back in his chair, "You're not making any sense. Didn't you just say-"
"I said that I wouldgladlyslaughter them all. Not that Iwantto."
"Aren't those two...the same thing...?"
"Chuuya," Fyodor said condescendingly, "I know we aren't all that familiar with each other, but I would hope that you at least know that I am a man who always goes with logic over my own emotions."
He sighed, "Exterminating all these unworthy peasants in your name would make me ecstatic. Yet, in order for mymaster planto work, I need most of these people alive. Strange, right? Why would I create a plan that contradicts my motives? That brings me to the other odd thing..."
Fyodor fell heavily onto the backrest of his seat, tossing his hands up in the air, "I can't seem to remember the details of my plan! I know it was something grand, something that I spent a long time on before coming to Japan. There's a whisper in the back of my head has mefeelinglike it had something to do with obtaining you. But surely that can't be it? I hardly knew who you were before arriving in this city, it doesn't add up."
He came forward, steepling his hands, "Tell me the truth, Boss of the Port Mafia. Am I under some sort of spell?"
A tense silence lapsed between them.
But of course Fyodor figured it out. He was frickin' Fyodor. Chuuya ran the math in his head. If Dazai got his message, then he should be on his way. That meant the best thing for Chuuya to do right now was to stall for time.
He briefly debated how much to reveal.
"Yeah," He breathed, "You and everyone else here."
"I knew it," Fyodor said, smile creeping back into his voice, "and I'm guessing this wasn't your doing, correct?"
"No - I mean yes. It's been like this ever since I returned from this job I had overseas."
"Overseas..." Fyodor echoed.
His eyes glittered, "Ah. I understand perfectly. I know exactly who is behind this."
"What?"Chuuya practically shouted. A few restaurant goers looked their way. Chuuya lowered his voice, "No, there's no way you've already figured it out."
"Except I have," Fyodor said, wagging a finger, "You gave me a vital piece of information. I've made my conclusion -- and I'm not telling you."
"Why the hell not?What advantage could there possibly be in keeping the culprit a secret?"
"Leverage. This situation isn't all that dire for me. If I'm correct, then upon leaving Yokohama I should be cured."
He frowned, "I mean, I would love to help you. Whatever spell I'm under demands it. But logic over emotion, I'll fix everything only if you pay the right price."
For a moment, Chuuya wondered if flirting with the rat would weaken whatever resistance he had against the mystery ability.
However, Chuuya knew that wouldn't work considering his main method of flirting was kicking people in the face. Not exactly something fit for a restaurant setting.
He scowled, "What do you want?"
"At the moment? Your hand in marriage." Fyodor said irritably, "Then to fly you back to Russia where we can live the rest of our days happily in a grand palace."
"I hate the cold."
"And I hate happiness." Fyodor sighed, "Forgive me, it has been a confusing day. What I really want is Osamu Dazai's head."
Chuuya stared at him.
"It doesn't have to be hishead,per se. His heart's just fine too. Or a lung. Anything that he depends on to vitally function."
"Come now, Chuuya. He'll do whatever you want under the influence of this ability. It would be all too easy. If you desire, you can probably make him finally take his own life. That would be poetic, wouldn't it? You can force him to feel the pain you did when he lef-"
"No," Chuuya said again, "It's not going to happen."
It looks like Fyodor doesn't know everything. Because Dazai's immune, he wouldn't fall for any plot to murder him. But it's not like that rat needs to know that.
"Ah, of course. You're attached to him." Fyodor said, "Too familiar a face. All your old friends have perished except for him, correct?"
Anger curled in within the temperamental ginger. That had been a cheap shot, dragging his past into this. Reminding him that his life had been a train wreck since day one.
"Except -- think about it, Chuuya. Whatever do you need him for?"
Chuuya's hands tightened into fists, "I wouldn't be able to use Corruption."
"Oh please, that's barely a reason. You're still unfathomably strong without that cute little trick. Besides, he'll always be dictating when and where you use it for the rest of your life."
Then, to Chuuya's absolute horror, Fyodor reached across the table and gently took Chuuya's free hand in his own.
"Believe me, Chuuya." he said, "Like this, I truly mean it when I say I only want what's best for you. You are nothing but another tool in his arsenal, one he knows well enough to manipulate however he pleases. Take this opportunity -- isn't it about time you freed yourself?"
True, everyone had been supposedly in love with Chuuya for awhile now. But this was the first time someone was speaking to him so delicately. With enough lucidity to almost sound like they actually meant it.
It pissed him off.
"I'm still not doing it." Chuuya snarled, "You're insane. I'dneverdo something like that. It's- it'sconceited.After everything we've -- it wouldn't make sense-- I mean, Look. If I'm ever to take Dazai down, it would be in a fair fight. One where neither of us dies. "
The last part sort of tumbled out on its own. Fine. He'll admit it. He didn't want Dazai to die. He had his reasons.
Reasons other than the terrible feeling that bloomed inside his chest at the thought of the light winking out of that suicidal maniac's eyes. Out ofDazai'seyes. What would the world be like without him? Without that man's sharp tongue and dazzling smile andbeautiful laugh...?
Chuuya shook his head.
Ugh, why am I getting so worked up over this? I'm only bluffing, it's not like I canactuallymake that mackereldo anything.
Chuuya huffed, "Besides, what makes you think he'll even listen?"
He realized what he did wrong the second the words left his mouth.
God dammit Dazai, stop distracting me!
"I would assume the mysterious ability," Fyodor said a wry grin pulling at his face, "Unless you're implying that he's unaffected."
"I didn't...say that."
"Hm, his nullification, of course. It may be a bit harder to convince him, but I'm sure he'll come running anyways"
"More the reason not to betray him."
"For his own purposes, Chuuya. For his own purposes. You needn't feel any loyalty towards him. Smiles come as easily to him as do lies. He and I are similar in that way. To us, life is just a game that's all too easy to play."
Chuuya glared at him, knowing what was coming next.
"He doesn't care about you."
Chuuya was only able to hold Fyodor's gaze for a minute before looking away sharply and shaking his hand free.
Fyodor's eyes widened slightly, lips parting but no words coming out as he considered Chuuya's response, "Pardon?"
"So what?" Chuuya said. And totally because it would further annoy Fyodor and not for any other reason he added, "Whatever. I still care about him."
Fyodor's face darkened, "You're making a mistake."
"I'm sure I'm not."
"Very well," Fyodor said coldly, "I'll play my cards differently then."
The phone Chuuya was still holding underneath the table was suddenly knocked out of his grip. He jumped at the sound of it clattering to the floor -- then immediately went still as something cold and metallic pressed against his leg.
"The thought of you leaving me here is too painful to bare," Fyodor cried, using the hand that was still on the table to prop up his chin "And to be with that horrible Dazai? I simply cannot allow it!"
He tilted his head innocently to the side, "I'm guessing you already sent him a message. I wonder what he will do when he arrives and sees that you are being kept hostage."
"I thought you said he didn't care about me." Chuuya said bitterly.
"Not in the way you'd like him to," Fyodor chirped, "but enough to not want you damaged. Don't worry Chuuya, I'll keep you safe from him."
"That's it." Chuuya let his gravitational energy burst around him, "What you're rambling on about is nice an' all, but who's going to keep you safe fromme?"
Fyodor smiled and rolled his eyes with a chuckle.
Then he shot him.
Chuuyafeltthe bullet tear through his tendons -- flaring hot sparks of pain igniting along his flesh. The gun had been silenced, no one even looking their way as Chuuya doubled over onto the table, choking back a scream.
"Oh nooo your leg's out of commission." Fyodor said drily, "I guess you won't be able to get away oh nooo."
The muzzle of the gun inched up to Chuuya's knee.
"I hear a wound here can incapacitate you for life," Fyodor's voice had dropped to a whisper, "But if it's between that and your safety, I'd do it gladly."
Chuuya, gnashing his teeth together, glared up at him, "Bas....tard..."
"Don't say such things, Chuuya!" Fyodor exclaimed, "You're breaking my heart."
Chuuya had a lot harsher words queued up but the pain was just too much. That rat, he knew exactly which points led to the most distress. Everything, from the angle of the weapon to the timing had been intentional.
Trembling, it was torture just to remain sitting. It hurt, it really hurt-- all of his energy was being directed into not just curling up into a ball and crying out until --
Wait why was he keeping this bottled up?
An idea blossomed.
He looked back up at the devil and let an unholy smirk split his face. At the sight of it, Fyodor's grin wavered.
"Don't," he warned, "You wouldn't make it far -- I've got a trap set up for you just outside. There's no escape from this."
Chuuya jolted to his feet, chair scrapping back. Fyodor fired, but Chuuya had already been anticipating it. Using his ability, he stopped the bullet short and sent it spiraling downwards, lifting his phone back up into his hands.
"People!" He declared in his loudest voice, throwing his arms out wide so that everyone could see him in all his Chuuya Nakahara-ness.
Conversations stopped. Heads turned. Mouths dropped.
In the dead silence that now dominated the restaurant, he stabbed a finger at Fyodor, "That man threatened to kill my partner, shot me, and-and he's not paying the bill even though he's the one who asked me out!"
There was a collective, scandalized gasp.
"That man disrespected Chuuya!"
"OMGdid he actually shoot Chuuya?!"
"I knew he looked sketchy!"
"Is Chuuya okay?"
"We have to protect Chuuya!"
Fyodor stood up, holding out his hands in front of him as if to pacify the growing mob.
"Now, now. Not all of that was true." he said, a nervous look filling his face, "I'm not the one who asked him out, this was a blind-"
He never got to finish, as he was soon thereafter clunked in the head with a menu.
Chuuya only got to see his eyes widen slightly beforeDostoevsky was swarmed by angry crowd Chuuya-enthusiasts.
Welp. That's my cue.
In the midst of the mayhem, Chuuya limped to the entrance as fast as he could, ducked out of way of the hostess who was pulling out a bazooka, and exited into the cool night.
The restaurant doors swung close, the sound of the chaos unfolding there silenced at once.
With a grunt, Chuuya leaned against the brick wall, closing his eyes for a moment as a frigid breeze lifted the sweat off his face.
After he had collected himself, he glanced down and ran a hand over his wound. He flinched, sure enough blood was already seeping through the cloth of his pants.
Yeah, that was definitely going to leave a mark.
With a sigh, he took out his phone. It looked like the screen had cracked from its unfortunate fall, but other than that still worked fine. He opened up messages.
Dazai still hasn't responded.
It shouldn't have bothered him as much as it did. It was just...what was he supposed to do now? He hated to admit it, but without the detective's direction he felt...lost.
Either from the pain or his exhausted frustration, hot tears began to prick the very corner of his eyes. How stupid...he knew there was probably a good chance Dazai had seen it an was just too busy to reply. And it wasn't like Chuuya was in any danger right now.
Well, Fyodor did mention a trap, but I don't see anything. I'm fine.
But still, a sign of any kind from his suicidal idiot . That would have been nice.
That's when he remembered.
The slip of paper Dazai had given him the night before, he still hadn't read it. He checked his vest pocket. Yes! It was still there!
Admittedly feeling a bit silly for being so excited about a tiny little note, he took it out and eagerly unfolded it.
His face fell.
There, printed in Dazai's looping hand writing were three simple words.
Don't trust me.
"Don't trust you?" Chuuya sputtered, "What the-that wasn't comforting at all-!"
He didn't have any more time to process it, however. A flash of orange light had caught his eye.
Dreading what he would see, he turned his head.
A little bit down the wide road, the street had been closed off. A series of booths and lanterns that seemed to go on forever stood tall in that section, the thundering sound of music and laughter floating down to where Chuuya was. Balloons shaped like the person he saw in the mirror each day swayed in the air, banners hanging filling the space between them.
It looked like Fyodor's trap was a festival.
Chapter 19: A Party To Crash
Dazai was in danger.
His head felt light, eyes dry. It was only a matter of time before he was sure to depart from this world for good. He would never get a chance to buy Atsushi a cat bed for Christmas of dress up as Chuuya for Halloween.
Yes, that was right. At that very moment, Dazai was suffering from the most serious of ailments.
The most painful way to die. Definitely not a viable method of suicide.
Presently, Dazai was sitting across from Francis Scott Fitzgerald in a lavishly decorated office, smiling politely despite the fact that internally he was banging his head against a wall.
Negotiations had been entertaining at first. Dazai was barely able to contain his laughter as Fitzgerald very seriously went over how Chuuya could be the face of the Guild. But then that conversation somehow ended up transitioning to how the gold standard could be reinvented based on Chuuya's motorcycle and Dazai quickly lost interest.
Ugh, if only the pint-sized man in question was here -- then this wouldn't be nearly as much of a drag.
Instead of Dazai's main strategy beingwait-until-Fitz-is-done-ranting-then-make-his-point, the two of them could have done a whole Good-Cop, Bad-Cop routine and when that inevitably didn't work -- blow the Guild's prison doors wide open and save their subordinates.
Much simpler, much more fun.
Butnooo,the Port not-Chuafia justhadto break Fyodor out of jail. The whole situation was icky. The thought of Nakahara being with that conceited bastard while Dazai sat half a city away was more than just a little bothersome.
Truth was, back at the apartment, the instant Chuuya mentioned Fyodor's name Dazai had already guessed what was going to go down between the two.
Knowing Fyodor, that rat had managed to twist his newfound feelings for the gravity-manipulator to formulate a villainous ploy. A ploy that involved pretending to know how to fix this fiasco and proposing some deal that would end with Dazai's head on a platter. And Chuuya...
...Chuuya would agree to it.
It wouldn't be anything personal, of course. Dazai figured that Chuuya just probably cared a lot more about the entirety of Yokohama than the one person who repeatedly trolled him.
And that was fine, Dazai could respect that. Admire it, even. Chuuya's fierce sense of loyalty towards those he loved had always been one of his brighter aspects. He would do anything for them, even if that meant teaming up with a monster.
Although -- when Dazai had first reached this conclusion, he was very tempted to barricade Chuuya's door and absolutely destroy whoever tried to get to him. But logically, he knew if Chuuya hadn't gone on the date, an even bigger disaster was sure to happen. So what other choice did he have but to let him go?
Yeah...Chuuya being swayed by the rat's words and knifing Dazai in the back.Thatwould be the best outcome.
Dazai would have to solve this mystery on his own, but at least Chuuya would be safe.
I'm certain,Dazai thought,Chuuya will agree to Fyodor's plan.Hehasto agree. Because if that quarrelsome ginger doesn't go along with whatever Fyodor has in mind...
... who knew what that devil would do to him?
A part of him nagged that it was a silly, unintelligent thing to be concerned about. His calculations were usually correct, there was only a small chance that Chuuya would do something stupidly dangerous forhissake.But still.
It wasn't a feeling he was accustomed to, but he decided did not like it one bit. It was very uncomfortable. For the first time in his life, he found himself questioning if he made the right call.
And to top it all off, after a recent discovery, he wasn't even sure if hecouldsolve the mystery of everyone's sudden affection for his ex-partner by himself. He had given the note to Chuuya, but really, he should have kept it on himself...
You know what?
I think I preferred being bored to this.
"...and after we release the flamingos, Chuuya-kun can come on stage and sing!" Fitzgerald declared, "Surely you can understand why the Guild would be so much better with him? He'll be paid of course, as any good mascot should be."
"Hm?" Dazai said, stirred from his thoughts, "Oh. Okay. Wonderful, sounds perfect. I'm sure whatever you said wouldn't make Chuuya want to punt you into the sun."
"I'm glad you agree," Fitzgerald said, taking a swig from the glass of wine he had on his desk, "After all, you do know him best. Gosh, you should have heard how Lovecraft and Steinbeck complained after you two beat them up."
"Did they now?"
"Yep. Something something, 'how were we expected to win when those two complimented each other so perfectly?' Blah blah blah, 'I quit and I hope an angsty eyebrowless boy and insecure tiger orphan throw you into the ocean.'"
Dazai cleared his throat, lifting his own glass of sparkling wine, "Speaking of an angsty eyebrowless boy and insecure tiger orphan. We - I mean,Chuuyawould very much like them back."
"Both of them?" Fitzgerald rose an eyebrow, "Oh, huh. Didn't expect that. I'll let them go once you tell Chuuya to sign a contract with us. Gosh...both of them...that man is even more considerate and kind that I thought!"
He laughed loudly then sighed, sitting back in his chair and making finger guns at Dazai. "You know, I'm glad he sent you. You'd probably do a far better job at convincing him than I ever could. He likes you, you know?"
"As in he likes me as much as he likes the empty vacuum of space?" Dazai said, "In that case yes, you would be correct."
Fitzgerald gasped as if Dazai just shared a juicy bit of gossip and leaned across the desk. "What? You mean it? He doesn't like you? Even though you like him?"
"As in I like him as much as I like the empty vacuum of space?" Dazai said, "In that case yes, you would be correct."
Fitzgerald looked confused, "Do you like the empty vacuum of space?"
Dazai smiled at him, "No, no I do not like the empty vacuum of space."
He looked up thoughtfully, "Buuuutyou can die in space, right? There isn't any oxygen up there. Hm, and my body would be able to float around the pretty galaxy as it decomposes. Wait, do bodies decompose in space?"
Usually, when Dazai started going on about suicide methods, that was when people started either tuning him out or chalking him up to being an idiot.
But the look on Fitzgerald's face grew serious. The leader of the Guild gave the detective across from him a long, searching look.
"Why do you do that thing?"
Dazai tilted his head, "What thing?"
"Where you shoot down any concept of you liking him? It's almost automatic."
"Well to be fair, we do hate each others guts."
"Whoa, whoa,whoa," Fitzgerald said, "Come on, don't be giving me any of that. You're always hanging around him, aren't you? Not to mention your teasing is downright flirtatious at times."
"I still fail to see your point here."
"The way you look at him. With that sense of resigned longing -- but unmistakable flicker of wonderment of what would happen if you just took a step closer. The way it's obvious how in every encounter you try to calculate the fastest way to make him smile just because it's easily the best thing you've ever seen. Yet, when it comes to something as simple asadmitting to it-- you shut it down faster than-'"
"That's simply the way things have always been. No point in trying to overthink it," Dazai said dismissively, a knot of annoyance forming in his voice.
The nerve of this man, wasn't this supposed to be a negotiation? Why would he bring something likethatup? The way Dazai felt, about the things he couldn't have, that waspersonal.Not something even his closest friends even dared butt their head into.
His wine glass froze half way to his lips, a sudden thought occurring to him.
"Wait...how doyouof all people know about how I...?"
A blank look flashed over Fitzgerald's face, "We see everything."
Dazai sat up straighter, "What? Can you repeat that?"
Fitzgerald did not repeat that, his serious look from before had returned. "Look, Dazai, old sport. I don't think that's it. This is something else. Tell me, what is it that you're so afraid of?"
Dazai felt his humor drain out of him all at once.
"That's cute," Dazai said, voice deathly quiet, "but I haven't felt fear since I left the mafia."
Fitzgerald's eyes narrowed. Dazai glared back down at him over his nose, daring him to continue.
The door creaked open.
Both men turned to see as a nervous looking Louisa Alcott stepped inside. "Um -hi, Mr. Dazai sir," she said, "Er, I mean -- Dazai-san. Your phone went off."
"Well that's why I had him leave it with you," Fitzgerald scowled, "this is a very important meeting and we can't have interruptions."
Louisa flinched and Dazai frowned. Fitzgerald had always been considerably nicer to the young girl than the other members of his organization. This mysterious ability was really screwing everyone's relationships over.
"It's okay," Dazai said, pitying her, "I'm sure whoever it is can wait."
"N-no it's a message from Chuuya." Louisa said, "And Chuuya shouldn't be ignored."
Dazai practically sprang out of his chair.
"Sorry Fitzgerald, but I'm going to have to cut this short."
Fitzgerald's serious look evaporated, replaced with his overly excited one from much earlier, "See? See right there. Oh god, there's no wayI'mthe crazy one."
When Dazai didn't respond, Fitzgerald became considerably more animated, "Oh, is there anything else I can say to convince you? About the mascot thing that is. Chuuya would make an excellent one, as the leader of the Guild I cannot pass this opportunity up-"
"Yep, right. I'll be sure to tell him" Dazai said, "Now about your captives..."
"I'll only let them go-"
"When Chuuya signs the contract, I know." He picked up the giant tiger plush he had on the floor by his feet the whole time and handed it to Fitzgerald. "Kindly give this to Atsushi-kun, he can't sleep with out it."
"Um - okay. Why is it ticking, may I ask?"
"Do plush toys in the United States not tick?"
"I guess...only the ones stuffed with explosives-"
"Explosives? Haha,hilarious!" Dazai laughed, then swept out of the office, plucking his phone from Louisa's hands and stepping out into the grand hall.
Holding his breath, he quickly unlocked it and went straight to messages. There were a couple of notices from Kunikida about slacking off but his eyes slid past them.
There were two possibilities.
The first, the most likely -- Fyodor had convinced Chuuya and this was no more than bait to lure Dazai into an isolated corner where he could be quietly disposed of.
The second, the one with the smaller chance of being true -- Chuuya really needed him.
It shouldn't have been much of a question. But Dazai's sense of logic was being overridden by something fiercer.
If there was even theslightest probabilitythat Chuuya was in trouble...
...trap or not, he would go at once.
There was a whistling sound, followed by a muffledka-boom.
He jumped. A missile? No, no that wouldn't make any sense. He rushed over to one of the wide windows just in time to see the last sparks of a firework fade into the night. In the distance, another shot up, followed by another.
The sky was quickly coming alight with colors and sound.
In the reflection of the window, Dazai noticed Louisa inching down the hall.
He whipped around to her, "Where are you going?"
She jumped, but seemed oddly less anxious than before, eyes glowing with a familiar infatuation. "Oh - didn't you hear? There's a festival downtown being held in Chuuya's honor! All of Yokohama is going to be there!"
"Tell me," Dazai demanded, "When exactly did you hear about this festival?"
"Just a second ago," she blinked, confused, "weren't you there when Fitzgerald announced it?"
"No, I didn't" Dazai said, "Louisa, no such thing happened at all."
Louisa didn't seem to understand.
All of Yokohama...it's not just a figure of speech in this case, is it?
The whole city's probably being drawn there like moths to a flame.
"So...you weren't there for Fitz's announcement." Louisa said, eyes glassy as she came up with her own rationalization, "Still! You should come! I hear there's going to be abig supriseat the end!"
"Ah," Dazai said, watching as she scurried off. Mind already whirling, he faced the window again, watching the lights dance.
"Well then," he muttered under his breath, "looks like I've got a party to crash."
Chapter 20: An Explosion of Colors 𝟙/𝟚
Okay -- okay this isn't too bad.
Chuuya told himself, warily eyeing the cluster bright lights and nondescript chatter that was just down the street.
All he had to do was back away very, very slowly and then call Tachihara to pick him up. That was a simple enough task, he could manage that.
In all honestly, he couldn't say exactly what it was about the looming festival made him feel so uneasy. Just that there was something underneath the cheery front that feltpoisonousto him. Something he didn't want to set foot in.
Also, who knew what would happen when a bunch of Chuuya-maniacs congregated in one place caught sight of their idol?
Nothing good, that was for sure.
Still. This was fine. There was no need to worry. Whatever disaster Fyodor had intended to snare him in was avoidable.
He just had to be careful.
However, as if the universe itself were conspiring against him, Chuuya had only managed a few steps backwards when he bumped into someone.
He slowly turned around. There stood an old man in a military uniform blinking down at him.
"Oh, sorry. I didn't see you there little guy," the old man said, "Don't mind us, we were just headin' on over to that festival over there and- wait - waitthat's amazing!"
Chuuya drew himself away from who he decided was a definite weirdo.
"Gahahahaha!You've got everything down perfectly! The height, the hair, those angry lookin' eyes. I could've mistaken you for the real thing!"
The old man made a beckoning motion to the three people behind him.
"Hey y'all -- take a look an this man's Chuuya cosplay. Isn't it the best thing you've ever seen?"
"Sir," one of the members of the group said. He was a tall man with a single red earing, "Sir, I am blind."
"Oof, sorry about that Jouno. Tetchou, Teruko, you two tell him."
"That's not Chuuya?" the second person, a man with midlength black hair said, "Really? I could've sworn that was him."
He gave Chuuya thumbs up, "Very cool costume. I respect."
Chuuya narrowed his eyes, "Who the hell are you people?"
And what the hell is 'cosplay'?
"Who else but The Hunting Dogs!" the old man boomed, "We happened to be in the area. I'm Captain Ouchi, the sadistic one over there is Jouno and the emotionally bankrupt one is Tetchou. The lil gremlin is-"
"Teruko," a girl only slightly shorter than Chuuya said, elbowing her way over to shake his hand, "I'm Teruko. Oh man, your costume is really great, you're sure to win the competition."
"The Look-Alike Contest."
She pouted, "Damn,I wassogoing to enter but if this is what I'm up against then I don't stand a chance."
Ouchi frowned, squinting at Chuuya, "Hm. The facial features are well done, my good man. But I don't think you've got the clothes quite right."
"Captain's on to something." Teruko rubbed her chin, "Unless you were going for a whole 'Chuuya-on-a-date' look-- then this here ensemble isn't anywhere on point."
She lit up, "Okay I've come up with a plan, Mr. Stranger! Since there's no way I can win against your awesome make-up skills, why don't you use the outfit I was going to wear? It would be like an indirect victory for me."
"Um," Chuuya said, waving back the hanger she had thrust out to him, "No thanks. Yeah, I was heading home anyways so -"
She placed a hand on his shoulder, eyes glinting maliciously.
"No, no. Iinsist."
Chuuya quickly did a reassessment of these weirdos.
As strange as their behavior was, a dangerous energy flared around them. Could it be? Were thesetheHunting Dogs? The specialized strike unit from the military?
He didn't think he could win against them. Especially not with the bullet hole in his leg.
Great. I'm trapped between a raging festival and a bunch of overpowered psychopaths.
Chuuya didn't have much of a choice. He stiffly took the outfit from the girl and hurried to the nearest building to change. The outfit that was freakily accurate in regards to the one he usually wore. He could barely tell the difference
As for his wound, he ripped off a part of his old attire to use as a makeshift tourniquet. He flinched as he did, making a mental note to rehire Mori as a surgeon.
With a sigh, he used his ability to assist with his walking and exited the building.
The Hunting Dogs were still there, expectant looks on their faces -- all which brightened at the sight of him.
"Stellar! Absolutely stellar!" Ouchi declared.
Of course onlythendidit occurredto Chuuya that he totally could have just snuck out of the back exit of the building and fled into the night.
Ugh, too late for that now.
The Captain slung his arm around the gravity manipulator and ,before he knew it, he was being swept in the direction of the festival.
"He looks so much like Chuuya, it's amazing." Tetchou said, "Do you think if I sprinkled pepper on his hat, it would taste the same as pepper on the real Chuuya's hat?"
"Don't say weird things, Tetchou." Teruko snapped, "I would destroy you before you laid a hand on the real Chuuya's hat. It's a sacred artifact."
"I wonder if I sent a picture to my buddies back at base they would think that I'm with the real Chuuya and get jealous." mumbled Ouchi , "Hey Jouno, does it look like I'm with the real Chuuya?"
"Sir, I am still blind." said Jouno, "Goddammit I hate this squad. See ifChuuyawere a Hunting Dog-"
I need to get away from them.
But he found that he was having trouble thinking straight. Ouchi had set a rather fast pace, and even with his ability lightening his own weight, Chuuya's leg was still pulsing with pain. He wasn't much of a strategic thinker to start with, this was all muddying his thoughts.
A firework went off.
Chuuya automatically looked, up watching the red shower of sparks set the night on fire.
The Hunting Dogs crossed into the festival.
Chuuya's eyes widened. Had they really covered the distance that quickly? He ducked out out of Ouchi's arm and took a few, staggering steps back.
The four of them looked over at him questioningly.
"Um," Chuuya said, sweating under their intense gaze. If he ran now, would they be able to catch him? If the rumors he heard were to be believed-- they probably would. He shouldn't take that risk.
But he also couldn't just walk into that festival, especially now that he was dressed in his iconic apparel. He was just way too recognizable.
"If I...if I go in like this, someone might steal my look. You know, for the contest."
The Hunting Dogs exchanged glances.
Shit! That was a stupid thing to say -- it's a look-alike contest, everyone's going for the same freaking look!SHIT.
"You know, Mr. Stanger." Teruko said, "what you said makes absolutely no sense, but because you look just like Chuuya I am oddly compelled to believe everything you say."
Jouno clapped his hands together, "Someone get this man a disguise."
Tetchou reached into the bag he had at his side and withdrew a Hunting Dog's cape. "This was for our mysteriously elusive fifth member -- but they're not around right now so you can wear it. It might be a bit big though..."
"No, it's perfect." Chuuya said, taking it and flapping it over himself. On him, it looked less like a cape and more like he was just swaddled in a large blanket but whatever. Committing fashion crimes hurt but being flocked by adoring fans probably hurt even more.
Without anywhere else to go, Chuuya, the Hunting Dogs surrounding him, entered the festival.
Chapter 21: An Explosion Of Colors 𝟚/𝟚
It was like being submerged into a topsy turvy wonderland.
Except, minus the wonder and replace it with the sickly sensation that occurred when you consumed too much sugar.
Every color of the rainbow dominated the various booths, all sorts of sounds swirling amongst a boisterous song that was repeatedly pierced by the whistle of fireworks bursting into the sky.
Dozens upon dozens of people filled the street. So many that it was impossible to walk without brushing against at least one person within every few paces.
And of course, everything was Chuuya themed.
The snacks? Deep fried Chuuya sticks. Balloons? All shaped like him. The goldfish scooping? Why use goldfish when you could use miniature Chuuya figurines instead? And he couldswearthat he just saw some little kid run past him in a Chuuya yukata. And not to mention the randomly placed banners that seemed to swing from each and every available space.
In fact, he nearly walked face first into a particularly large one that in giant, aggressive font read:EVERYONE LOVES CHUUYA.
It was like he wasn't even in Yokohama anymore.
Chuuya found himself the awkward fifth wheel to the military unit as they bickered among themselves about what booths to check out and how much money they should spend trying to win the Chuuya Cardboard Cutout at the Throw The Knife At The Dazai Cardboard Cutout booth.
At first, he was constantly on edge, hiding behind Tetchou whenever someone seemed to stare at him too long.
But oddly enough despite being so far deep in the madness, Chuuya eventually begun to relax just the tiniest bit. No one had noticed him. If he could just pass the rest of the night like this, maybe everything would turn out okay.
A moment later, that conclusion was quickly proved wrong.
The Hunting Dogs plus Chuuya were headed for a screening of a film of Chuuya watching his favorite movie, A Boy and His Dog (where did they even get that footage?) when they came across a slightly elevated stage.
Standing on top of it was a man that Chuuya did not recognize but looked an awful lot like a stylish clown.
"Ladies and gentlemen and those of you who don't subscribe to either of those binary options!" the clown shouted, throwing his arms wide. He was using a microphone, so his voice reverberated loudly over the rest of the commotion.
"Who's that?" Chuuya whispered. He hadn't really been expecting an answer but Tetchou leaned down and in an equally hushed voice answered, "Nikolai Gogol, Dostoevsky's boyfriend I think."
"I am very sorry to have to make this announcement," Gogol went on, pacing the length of the stage, "but Fyo-chan just sent word that he's in a bit of a bind right now so it looks like ourBig Eventmay be delayed."
The crowd that had formed before him let out a groan.
"I know, I know. An honest shame." Gogol said, "but don't you fret darlings, my fellow Chuuya fanatics! We have a game for you all to play in the meantime!"
Chuuya didn't have a good feeling about this. He pulled the cape tighter around himself, "Uh, Captain Ouchi? Didn't you er, want to see that film?"
"Nah," the captain said, stroking his beard, "this sounds more interesting. Lets stick around."
"R-right." Chuuya said through a clenched smile, "Well. Its been nice hanging out with you guys. Actually, that's a lie. You're all like one big dysfunctional family. But uh -- yeah, I should hurry if I want to make that...Look Alike Contest."
Teruko stepped in his way, "Nuh-uh! I want to go with you when that starts. Which, by the way, isn't until the third day."
Chuuya gaped at her, "How long is this festival?!"
"Good question," Ouchi said, "somewhere between a week and forever. I forgot. Jouno, can you read the schedule?"
"No. No sir, I cannot read the schedule I am blind. I hate you guys, I wish Chuuya would just adopt me already."
"The Game will go as follows."
The Hunting Dogs fell silent.
"I've been notified by Fyo-chan that --get ready for this -- the amazing awesome extraordinary specimen known as Chuuya Nakahara is here with us tonight!"
People gasped, some started cheering.
"I know, I know!" Gogol giggled, "exciting, right? Here's what we'll do. The first to find Nakahara --gets to keep him!"
The cheers began deafening.
WHAT THE HELL?!Chuuya thought, gritting his teeth and holding his hands over his ears,Gets to keep him?! What am I, a dog?
The sudden clamor seemed to make Gogol even more giddy. "We shall beginnnn," the clown swished his cloak with a jolly flourish,
The bustling around in his immediate are increased tenfold. He had to get out. Now that what was probably the entirety to Yokohama was actively searching for him, it was only a matter of time before something bad happened. He was just going to hope that the Hunting Dogs would be too distracted...
"Oh, I know just the thing!"
This voice came from a festival goer standing only a slight way from the stage. It was that ex-guild member, professional introvert Edgar Alan Poe. He held up his pet racoon and looked at him intently, "Okay Karl, this is your chance to prove yourself."
He then proceeded to unceremoniously throw the small mammal, "Find Chuuya!"
And but of course,of coursethe raccoon's trajectory sent him crashing directly in Chuuya's face.
Swearing profusely, Chuuya made a grab for the wicked creature, but the little thing managed to evade him and sink its teeth into the cape.
"Karl," said Chuuya, voice deathly quiet. "Don't you evendarethink about-"
The raccoon leapt off, taking the cape with him and exposing Chuuya.
"Haha!" Poe exclaimed, picking up his raccoon and spinning him in a circle, "Good job, Karl! Ranpo would be so proud of-"
He paused, "I mean...Chuuya will be proud? Ow...my head..."
The rest of the crowd had tensed, eyes glowing and trained on the man before them with a predator's ferocity. It was only a matter of who would make the first move.
"Oi, you all need to calm down." Captain Ouchi said "this isn'treallyChuuya, just some cosplayer we-"
Jouno had rounded on Chuuya, his usual smile gone, "Your heartbeat just spiked. You're nervous."
"Captain..." Teruko said slowly as a stone-faced Tetchou unsheathed his sword, "...why exactly did you say this was a cosplayer again?"
Gogol leaned into his mic and made a low whistling sound.
Chuuya looked around him. He was surrounded on all sides. By both regular citizens and the powerhouses that were Gogol and the Hunting Dogs. There was no escape.
Well...He thought, a bead of sweat dripping down his face,...I've had a good life.
Arms gently slid over his shoulders.
The expressions of the people in the crowd turned downright murderous.
"Aha," said a voice that couldn't care less, "there you are. You're just so tiny, it took forever to find you, Chuuya!"
Chuuya tilted his head back. His breath caught.
Osamu Dazai was smiling down at him, shaggy brown hair falling over his face and eyes glittering with humor.
"Quite the situation you got yourself in here."
"Dazai." Chuuya breathed
Dazai winked, "Got yourSOS."
The detective lifted his head to look around at the petrified crowd.
"Oh, hello everyone! Miss Aoki, looking as lovely as always, how are the kids? And Mr. Hawthorne! Enjoying your stay in Japan? Tell Ms. Mitchell I say 'hi' when she wakes up from her coma."
"Are you sure you should be further provoking them?" Chuuya hissed after finally finding his voice.
"Provoking them?" Dazai said, mid wave, "what do you mean? Come on Chuuya, it's rude not to greet people."
The silence dragged on.
Gogol cleared his throat. "Uh..." he said, microphone screeching with feedback. He hit it a couple of times then said, "...I guess we have a winner."
Dazai gasped, "I won something?Ooowhat is it?"
The crowd looked amongst one another.
"Wait, doesn't Chuuya hate Dazai?"
"Should we...do something?"
Dazai regarded the less than pleased crowd, the Hunting Dogs at his flank, and the sadistic clown onstage. He chuckled, pulling Chuuya closer.
He beamed, and without an ounce of shame proceeded to say:
"I love you Chuuya!I love you love you love you!"
There was something about his tone that sent a jolt through Chuuya. Horrified, he looked to his ex-partner, trying and failing to catch his eye. Was it possible that he...?
Dazai pulled at his hair. Nope, he was still the same old Dazai. Dazai tugged harder.
Is he...enjoying this? I swear, I can't with him-
Despite his composed look, Chuuya was close enough to feel his heaving breaths. That idiot, he ran all the way here didn't he?
The current boss of the Port Mafia folded his arms and leaned into Dazai's embrace. Just loud enough for the crowd to hear he huffed out what he was sure was a definite lie, "...I love you too."
Everyone was rendered speechless.
After what felt like forever, a single person stirred.
She pointed at them.
"Literally my new OTP."
The crowd dissolved into murmurs. Unsure mood slowly shifting as they considered the idea of this new, but rather intriguing concept.
The bandaged man draped his signature coat over Chuuya, "There. That should be a sufficient enough disguise. Follow me, while they're distracted."
Chuuya started after him.
Don't trust me.
Dazai wrote those words on a furtive slip of paper instead of telling him directly for a reason.
But...how could henottrust Dazai? And considering his current situation, was it even like he had a choice?
The two of them quickly cut through the crowd and filed in among the festival goers who had not been close enough to hear nor witness Gogol's game.
"Hey," Chuuya said, because it was always worth being careful, "Where are we going?"
"Away. I didn't think you'd want to stay here for the festivities. It appears you are limping...?"
"Fyodor shot me in the leg."
Dazai glanced back briefly at him, "Bastard."
"I know right? That's what I said."
In a short matter of moments, they had made their way through the winding labyrinth that was the festival and emerged onto a quiet, grassy field.
Wordlessly, Dazai took his coat back and slung it on. Chuuya watched him. The detective's head was angled slightly downwards, the memory of a smile still playing on his lips, the moonlight catching onto the tips of his eyelashes...
Chuuya jumped, afraid to be caught staring.
But Dazai wasn't looking. The bandaged man sighed, "Lets get this over with. Are there a bunch of Russian operatives that I have to flee from lurking beyond this point -- yes or no?"
Chuuya stopped. Dazai came to a wandering halt behind him.
The gravity-manipulator whirled around punched him in the stomach. Dazai, who had not been expecting it, doubled over.
The second he did, Chuuya enveloped him in a tight hug.
"O-oh?" said the detective, slightly winded, "what's this for?"
Chuuya buried his head in Dazai's chest and grumbled, "Fyodor is stupid."
Dazai wasn't the sort of person who needed context. He probably already pieced together what had happened during the date. Or at least, judging by what he had just said,mostof what had happened.
The thought of it made Chuuya even more annoyed than he already was.
"And," Chuuya said, "you are also stupid."
"Owie," Dazai groaned, "My feelings."
"You really thought I'd sell you out like that?"
When Dazai didn't respond, Chuuya growled, "Come on, I'm always trusting you, aren't I? You should have a little faith in me once in awhile too."
"It's not that I don't have any faith in you Chuuya," Dazai said quietly, "I just don't have much faith in your faith inme."
"Lost you at the first 'faith'"
"As dense as always I see."
There was a lingering silence. Then Dazai patted him on the head.
It was that motion that stirred Chuuya back to his senses.
He was suddenly hyperaware of their proximity, of his grip on the suicide enthusiast, of his warmth. And worst of all, the flush of red that instantly blossomed over his cheeks.
He shoved Dazai back and stumbled to a side, covering his face with a gloved hand.
Ugh, not this again! Why? WHY AM I SO PRONE TO BLUSHING DAMMIT?
"Did you get the bullet out?"
Chuuya glanced back over. Dazai's expression was neutral. Had he not noticed Chuuya turn into a tomato? Yeah it was dark about but still...that was unlike him.
"From you leg."
"Oh. No, I was worried that might make it worse."
Dazai looked thoughtful, "I'm sure I can find Yosano in that festival. She'd be more than willing to help out."
"Nope.I've heard more than enough about her healing methods soyeahnothankyou."
Dazai pulled out a small first aid kit, "S'good thing I snatched this from Fitzgerald then."
They crossed over to a small hill and sunk down beside it. Chuuya rolled up the cuff of his pants and Dazai set to work treating it.
At Dazai's bare touch, the gravitational pressure he had been using off and on to numb the pain gave out and he clenched his teeth together.
"Ah," Dazai said, grimacing, "Looks like you'll still have to see Mori. Our dear friend Fyodor decided to load his gun with bolts. I'll patch it up the best I can for now, then we'll go straight there."
"Mm," Chuuya said, "It's a good thing he never got to shoot my knee then."
Dazai looked up sharply, "he was going to do that?"
Dazai swore, looking down, "...I should have come earlier."
Chuuya's first instinct was to tell him it was fine. But he was admittedly still irritated with all the people he had to deal with and said instead "If it were me, I would've come for you in two seconds flat."
"Well, Chuuya-kun." Dazai exhaled, "Not all of us can fly."
Chuuya paused. The mental image...of Dazai zipping through the skies...
He couldn't help it, he burst out laughing.
Dazai startled, eyes rounding.
"Oh no," the bandaged man whispered, "he's in shock."
"I'm not, I'm not!" Chuuya managed to get out, wiping away a tear, "It's just,damn. Don't ever change Dazai, don't ever change, alright?"
The conversation came to a comfortable lull after that. Neither of them said anything as Dazai wrapped up. The still audible chatter and distant thrum of music from the festival filled the quiet instead.
"There," Dazai sat back, "Done."
"How long before the damage gets worse?"
The detective made a face, "I'd give it an hour or two at most."
"Good," said Chuuya, immediately flopping backwards onto the grass, "I need a minute."
He could see the fireworks from here too. They felt a lot more harmless now, sparkling explosions of color twinkling among the stars -- drowsing the city into a hypnotic realm.
With a breathy exhale, he closed his eyes.
Chapter 22: And Just After We Were Starting To Get Along
Chuuya probably would have fallen asleep right then and there if he hadn't sensed Dazai settle down in the grass beside him.
"So~" Dazai said, clearly having no intention of giving his ex-partner even a moment of peace, "How did your date go?"
"I got shot in the leg. How do youthinkmy date went?"
"Was the food good at least?"
"Never got to try it."
"Well that sucks."
He heard Dazai sigh wistfully, "Speaking of food, I'm starvingright now. I really should've gotten something from the Chuestival."
"The Chuestival. You know, it's like combining the word 'festival' and your na-"
Chuuya pinched the bridge of his nose, "I swear to god Dazai, don't you dare finish that sentence. I'mthisclose to ripping apart every last one of those booths and smashing them into the ground."
Dazai appeared to consider this for a moment. Then, without an ounce of shame, he reached over and took Chuuya's gloved hand in his own.
"There," he said triumphantly, "now you can't."
Chuuya's eyes snapped open, feeling a familiar flutter in his chest. He wasn't even using his ability but he could still identify the cool touch of nullification.
Dazai wasn't...Dazai wasn't doing this on purpose was he?
There was no way the detectivereallythought Chuuya would destroy the festival. But there was also no way that Dazai would-ugh. Why did his thoughts keep on circulating back tothis?
If anything, the idiot was probably just trying to get a rise out of him, so he could laugh when Chuuya angrily snatched his hand back.
But Chuuya didn't angrily snatch his hand back. And for the life of him, he couldn't understand why.
It wasn't like he appreciated the way Dazai, restless as always, was toying with the fabric of his gloves. Or the way the pad of his thumb had absentmindedly begun to trace the inside of his palm.
As a matter of fact he hated it. Of course he hated it, what other feeling could describe a sensation so strong? But hatred was supposed to make him flinch away in disgust. Not stay frozen there like he was someone Dazai actually liked.
Did he...did hewantDazai to like him?
The thought caught his off guard. But still...he couldn't help but wonder. What would it be like? To be someone Dazai didn't so clearly despise? To be someone he valued? Someone he wanted to actually be around?
It would be giving up any semblance of quiet in your life, that was for sure. That mackerel never did know when to shut up. But other than that...maybe it wouldn't be too bad.
Maybe it would actually be kind of nice.
It occurred to Chuuya, not for the first time, that he was most definitely not the first person to have these thoughts. Osamu Dazai was as much of an enigma as he was man. A genius with an idiotic streak. A cold devil in one breath and a carefree prankster in the other. It was only natural to want him on your side. The who damn city probably thought they needed Dazai. The whole damn city probablydidneed Dazai.
And for some reason, that bothered Chuuya immensely.
The detective cleared this throat.
"Can I ask a serious question?"
"That'd be a first for you but go ahead."
Dazai hesitated, gathering himself.
"Is this flirtatious?"
Chuuya, for a horrible moment, was convinced of the existence of mind readers and nearly sprung upright, "The hell are you-?"
"Sorry, sorry. Too random. See, Fitzgerald was saying something about how I- well how I might come off as..." Dazai hesitated, clearly unsure how to articulate his words. Being serious wasn't his strong suit. He sighed, "Is this bothersome? Am I bothering you?"
"Dazai," Chuuya said matter-of-factly, "You're always bothering me."
He began to withdraw his hand.
Chuuya grabbed it. "Hey-- still might try to demolish the entire population of Yokohama over here, remember?"
Dazai paused. His fingers twined back with Chuuya's, wrists pressing together and a cheerful lilt creeping back into his voice "Of course, of course. What type of detective would I be if I let that happen?"
Chuuya muttered something under his breath about his ex-partner being a waste of oxygen and looked back up at the sky.
No. He was not going to spend any more time thinking about what their relationship was Right now, the mackerel was beside him, in one piece and as snarky as ever.
This was enough.
"How about you?" Chuuya asked, "what went down with Fitzgerald?"
"Congratulations on your new job."
"Kidding, kidding! I left things ambiguous and hooked our lovely subordinates up with some explosives. They should have escaped by now."
Chuuya turned to him. As expected, the detective looked smug. How was it that he was able to come up with such extravagant schemes on the spot like that and execute them with such perfect and calculated ease all the time? Was he even human?
His attention slid to the side, "Something wrong?"
"No," Chuuya said.
Dazai smiled wanly, "Then why are you looking at me like that."
"You really are something else, aren't you?"
Dazai's eyes rounded slightly, then he cleared his throat and quickly looked back up. A firework burst overhead, dusting his ears an adorable scarlet. Strange, considering that the sparks Chuuya caught sight of were green and not red.
Frowning, Chuuya dug through his pockets and withdrew his phone. He sighed, "Mori says he heard what happened wants to know if I want you added to the mafia's hitlist."
"Lets take a selfie and send it to him."
"That's a horrible idea."
"Come on~ what's the worst that can happen?"
Some pretty bad stuff, actually. But there was something about the needling of his tone that Chuuya couldn't help but give in to.
"Okay, alright. This one time."
He leaned over, their shoulders brushing. Dazai smiled broadly like the idiot he was and Chuuya took the photo.
Before he could even look at it however, Dazai grabbed the phone, "I'm sending this to myself first."
"Oi, the last thing I need from you is blackmail," Chuuya complained, trying and ultimately failing to snatch it back.
"It's not, I won't!" the detective insisted, holding the device out of reach, "I just think your smile is beautiful Chuu-ya-kun~"
Chuuya rolled onto his side and kneed him in the gut.
"Hey I thought you were supposed to be injured!" Dazai whined, Chuuya heard the shutter of the camera go off again.
"Come on Dazai, if I don't respond, Mori'll probably track me down himself."
"Aw, just one more! I barely have any pictures of you."
"Oh shut up, there's probably a good reason for that."
Dazai either didn't hear Chuuya's or didn't care because he was now contentedly scrolling through Chuuya's messages.
"Hm, you know what?" the detective said, "On second thought, maybe lets not send these to Mori. He might think I've kidnapped you again. How annoying -- what a despicable man."
"Hey," Chuuya said automatically, "don't insult the Boss."
"I thought you were the Boss now."
"You know what I mean. He's just acting all weird now because of the ability."
"Mori has always been weird."
"That's not true." Chuuya, a loyal Port Mafia member through and through, said stubbornly, "He's a good leader. He's smart and powerful and he knows everything about his subordinates. He's great, way better than that president of yours."
They had become hopelessly tangled during the scuffle for Chuuya's phone, so it was hard to miss the way Dazai cringed at those words.
He lowered the cell and raised an eyebrow. "Chuuya," he said very seriously, "he's a murderer, backstabber, and a literal pedophile. It's a wonder that I didn't leave the Port Mafia behind sooner than -"
Both of them froze. Dazai's eyes widened it muted horror at the realization of the territory he had just strayed into.
A chilly feeling slowly spread through Chuuya. Old, disgusting, and familiar.
"U-um" Dazai glanced up and pointed, "Hey look! Some of the fireworks are Chuuya-shaped now."
His tone was bright and playful, almost as if he had not said anything at all. A valiant effort to change the subject. They held a strong dislike for each other, yes. But there were some lines that were not supposed to be crossed.
And when they were, they weren't supposed to be brought up ever again.
When the silence became unbearable, Chuuya said very quietly:
"Hey, dumbass. Why do you keep on acting like I care?"
Dazai didn't respond.
"I don't. I don't give a fuck, so you don't need to tip-toe around me. I'm not mad. "
Somehow, Dazai's simple agreeance made him feel worse. It felt evasive, it feltwrong.No, Dazai wasn't allowed to have the last say,the words were coming out before he fully thought them through.
"I'm not!It just -- you were an executive, agenius. You know everything about the Port Mafia. All our crimes, our weaknesses. You think I don't realize you can wipe us all out with a single word if you really wanted to?"
"...this is hardly the time to-"
"Well It's horrible -- unable to sleep at night because the devil your grew up with now works for the other side. I can't use Corruption foranythinganymore. And -andI was your partnerdammit!We were unstoppable and you just -- without even aword.And I-Whatever. I don't care. You can do whatever you want, I don't - I mean we don't need you."
He was all too aware of how his voice had gone hoarse.
"I'm glad you left."
"Chuuya," Dazai said faintly, "We don't...have to have this conversation."
No, he didn't get it. That was the terrible thing. After all of thatand Chuuyawasn't mad.
"That's not what I'm trying to say at all, you-"
But how did he explain it? How could tell him how back then, Dazai had still been Dazai, with those sharp, cunning eyes and satirical humor.
But he had always seemed so...sotired.A certain darkness hung over him, the one that loosened his finger around the trigger every time he killed without remorse. The one that made it seem that when he spoke of taking his own life, he hadn't been a joking at all.
He wasdying. And Chuuya hadn't known what to do, how to save him. Dreading the day that he would look into his partner's eyes only to see his soul devoured, something cruel and empty left there instead.
But that never happened, that never happened because something had chased that darkness away, something brought him back to life.
"You're happier there." Chuuya finished, "You're happier there, aren't you?"
Dazai tilted his head. Whatever he had been expecting Chuuya to say, that had clearly not been it, "What?"
"At the agency, on 'the side that saves people' or whatever. You're happier there. With them. Am I right?"
"....yes" Dazai breathed. Slowly, reluctantly, as if he were unsure if admitting to it was the right thing to do, "I am."
Chuuya, realizing what he was indirectly saying, repeated quietly, "Then I'm glad you left."
They stared at each other for what felt like forever.
Dazai's eyes shone. Chuuya did not know it was a trick of the onslaught of lights, or if his ex-partner really was tearing up.
An arm draped over him, and before he knew it the bandaged man had buried his face in the crook of his neck, eyelashes fluttering against skin and fingers tightening around his shoulder.
"Chuuya," Dazai said, the name stuck in his throat, the way words often did when someone was trying to stop themself from crying. His voice trembled, "Thank you."
Chuuya exhaled, surprised at the sudden sincerity . He raised his own hand and then, after the briefest of hesitations, ran it through Dazai's hair. It was just as soft as he had always imagined it to be.
"Shitty Dazai," he muttered, staring up at the sky, "What are you thanking me for?"
"I'm kinda offended you didn't think I would. I mean, if I'm being completely honest, it still hurts. God, it hurts a lot actually. But...it's okay."
He couldn't quite get the last part out, as he too found his words getting choked up. Did Dazai think he was stupid? That he didn't know about Mimic or Oda or any of it? Ofcoursehe understood...
God, this sentimental stuff seemed to be contagious...
Chuuya thought, rolling his head back.
Dazai had been right. The new fireworks did kind of look like him. But now -- with the suicidal maniac in his arms -- for the first time since this craziness began, he found that he didn't mind at all
Chapter 23: In Which Curiosity Does Not Kill The Cat
It was hard to tell what exactly Dazai and Chuuya were talking about, just that it was probably supposed to be private.
Yet here Atsushi was, watching from an overhead bridge as fireworks continued to light up the sky. He was there when the detective whispered something that made the almost always scowling Nakahara-san laugh. And he was also there when Dazai's face softened at the sound of it and Chuuya, noticing, smiled shyly in return.
Yeah. This wasdefinitelysupposed to be private.
Atsushi hadn'tmeantto spy on them. Honest. Just -- after escaping from the Guild, he hadn't really known what else to do other than seek out his senior.
The last thing he expected was to find Dazai like this, laying contentedly on the grass with the man he hated most. It felt wrong to interrupt him now, but it also felt wrong to aimlessly wander around the streets of Yokohama.
So Atsushi just stood there on the bridge. Watching.
And -- wait. Were those twoholding hands?
Atsushi gripped the railing and leaned forward. They totally were!
"I knew it!" he practically shouted, "I knew Dazai-san was in love and no one believed me!"
Sure, he hadn't realized that all those nights Dazai spent wistfully looking out of the agency window was because ofChuuyaand not some lady who refused to commit double suicide with him. But still!
"I knew it, I was right, and now Tanizaki owes me five bucks!"
"AUGH!"Atsushi sprang back, prepared to use his ability. But it was only Akutagawa, standing next to him and eating ice cream.
"W-What are you doing here?"
After the tiger plush Atsushi affectionately named Atsushi Jr. blew up and they escaped from Fitzgerald, Akutagawa had ran off without a word. Atsushi honestly didn't think he'd see him again anytime soon.
"Festival got boring," Akutagawa explained in that monotone voice of his, "The Big Event was delayed."
"Right," Atsushi said, eying him warily. He...seemed relatively stable. There shouldn't be any real reason to worry.
"Why did you want five bucks? Did you want to buy stuff from the festival? I can buy it for you, Jinko."
The young detective was momentarily caught off guard, "You'd do that?"
"I am glad to learn of your newfound belief in Chuuya and will support in anyway I can."
Atsushi rolled his eyes.
"Why does your face look like that?" Akutagawa held out his ice cream, "Did you want some? It's the same flavor as Chuuya's shampoo."
"Uh, no thanks, that sounds disgusting," Atsushi rested his elbows on the railing, running a hand through his uneven hair, "I'm just trying to decide when to let Dazai know I'm here."
Akutagawa was silent for a moment, taking the scene in for himself.
"Wasn't Dazai trying to hurt Chuuya?"
Atsushi gestured widely at the two, who seemed to have slid even closer "Does it look like he's trying to hurt Chuuya?"
"He might be trying to hurt him emotionally."
"Yeah...I don't think that's it."
The mafioso and weretiger, shoulder to shoulder, continued to watch. They both were completely and utterly spellbound. Having grown up alone and mistreated, the concept of even having other people in their lives was foreign until joining their respective organizations.
Never had either of them seen two people acting likethisbefore.
Atsushi didn't have to ask. He knew Akutagawa was feeling the same way he did. Strange...and a little curious too.
Atsushi, sighed, "You know, Dazai-san always acts all surprised whenever people seem to genuinely care for him. It's nice to see him just..."
Atsushi smiled, "Yeah."
Another moment passed, the gentle breeze from earlier picking up.
"It's nice to see Chuuya like that too."
"He always acts like he has to tackle the world alone," Akutagawa elaborated, "It's nice to see him...not."
"You're a lot like that too you know," the words tumbled out before Atsushi could think better of them.
He braced himself, but thankfully, either because of his Chuuya-obsession or the fact that he was just not feeling it, Akutagawa didn't try to impale him with Rashomon.
"Don't be ridiculous, Jinko. I don't act like I have to tackle the world alone," Akutagawa said, "Ihaveto tackle the world alone."
There was something in his tone that made Atsushi turn to stare at him. At the man who insisted on dressing like a dying Victorian child and emotions only swung between angry and angrier. But for a second, in the moonlight, he didn't seem heartless nor malicious.
Atsushi hesitated, "Akutagawa I-"
"Ew," Akutagawa said, "Are you trying to offer me your friendship?"
Atsushi's mouth dropped, "W-what? Hey! You know I'm a protagonist, you can't just hit me with all that and expect me not to!"
"I only want to be Chuuya's friend."
"You can have more than one friend!"
Atsushi sighed, rubbing his temples. Why did he even bother? Oddly enough, nowhewas the one who was feeling lonely. Why did Dazai get to snuggle with his mortal enemy while his just borderline rejected any semblance of kindness?
Not that Atsushi wanted to cuddle with Akutagawa, of course. That was probably a sure fire way to lose a limb.
Before he could follow the rest of that weirdly depressing line of thought, a flicker of motion caught his eye.
He whirled around, heart missing a beat as he squinted into the distance just beyond the bridge.
He could smell it, the decaying odor of rot that had burned itself into his senses the first time he encountered it. How could he forget? That terrible aura of destruction, murderous and horribly present. He had to be imagining things, there was no way -
He saw it.
The monster from the prison. Not clearly, it was too far away, outline distant and lumbering but unmistakable as it shambled into the distance.
Akutagawa noticed Atsushi's sudden shift in mood and followed his gaze. His body tensed, "What is that?"
Atsushi edged backwards. "I-I don't know. We have to tell Dazai." He grabbed his rival's arm, causing him to drop his ice-cream, "Come on Akutagawa!"
The two of them raced off the bridge and down the grassy slope to where there superiors were. He skidded to a stop, "Dazai-san!"
Both men sprung apart, sitting up immediately.
Atsushi tilted his head, confused as the two of them blinked at each other. Had they not...realized how close they were?
Dazai murmured something to Chuuya then rose to his feet, heading over to meet Atsushi half way.
He said this cheerily, but it was hard to miss the puffiness in his eyes. Had he been crying? Dazai...could do that?
Dazai dodged with ease. "Oho, you two are still together?"
"No, he found me afterwards and --Akutagawa no stop trying to attack Dazai we went over this already!"
Akutagawa squirmed out of Atsushi's grip and stabbed a finger at Chuuya, "Don't tell me what to do, Jinko! Look at that, Dazai made Chuuya cry!"
Chuuya perked up. Like Dazai, he was also bit flustered looking. He rubbed his face before also rising to join them, "Calm down, Akutagawa, it was nothing like that. If you hurt him I uh...won't approve of you."
Akutagawa immediately mellowed, "Oh."
Dazai frowned, "Chuuya, your leg-"
"Using my ability to keep it up," He said.
His blue eyes landed harshly on Atsushi, causing the tiger boy to flinch. The truth was, he didn't know Dazai's ex-partner very well. Just that he liked poetry, wine, punching things, and not much else. He was short and abrasive where Dazai was cool and calculating.
Chuuya made a face, "Your boy's normal, right Dazai? Not going to try and make me join the agency or anything?"
Atsushi blushed in embarrassment, "Yeah, mostly normal. I'm sorry about-"
"Yeah, yeah whatever. You've clearly got something to say, so spit it out."
Atsushi looked to Dazai for confirmation. Dazai nodded and Atsushi hurriedly recounted what had happened in the Guild's prison.
Chuuya's gaze swept to the side, "Is this true Akutagawa?"
"He doesn't remember," Atsushi explained, "Nor did Steinbeck, I think. It's - I don't know it's really weird. Do you know what's going on?"
"Everyone loves Chuuya," Dazai muttered "Supposedly."
Atsushi, still very curious, did his best to catch his senior's eye. "Do...you...love Chuuya?"
Dazai smiled at him, "I've got nullification as my special gift, remember Atsushi?"
"That's not what Jinko meant," Akutagawa said, "He wants to know if you-"
Atsushi made a startled sound and covered Akutagawa's mouth.
Dazai folded his arms, thinking.
"Hm. I've haven't heard anything about such a creature. But then again, I can't say the public's word is especially trustworthy at the moment. The Ferriswheel can spin off into the ocean and all anyone would be able to talk about is their precious little gravity man."
He turned, "What do you say, Chuuya?"
"What do you mean 'what do I say'?" Chuuya grumbled, "You're the smart one here. How the hell am I supposed to know anything about a..."
His words trailed off, "A...monster..."
His eyes widened, lips parting slightly.
"I-I think I know whose behind this."
"You do?" the three of them exclaimed in unison.
"Except, that doesn't make any sense. That ability doesn't...it's not..." Chuuya's head snapped up, "The monster. We've got to follow it."
Dazai gave him a searching look, unspoken words passing between them.
His lip curled into what could only be described as a sly grin.
"Okay then," he said, "lets go."
Chuuya smirked, and Atsushi decided that he didn't like the look of these two when they were up to something.
"Try to keep up," Chuuya glowed with energy and launched himself into the night, Dazai, chuckling leapt after him -- leaving a swirl of wind in their wake.
"We must help Chuuya." Akutagawa said at once, spinning around.
Atsushi started after him, fully intending to follow, when a pair of large hands clamped over his mouth.
He only got a chance to see Akutagawa look over his shoulder -- expression startled -- before he was dragged backwards into the darkness.
Chapter 24: Insufferable Ringing 𝟙/𝟛
Thank you all so much for the kinds words and kudos! You guys are making me blush! (Literally, I opened archive during dinner and my sister asked why I had turned the color of a tomato). You're all awesome, I promise to do my very best with these next chapters!
Anyways, with that said: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Just at the outskirts of Yokohama, there laid a sparse forest-ish sort of area.
Forest-ish. Because calling it a honest to goodness forest wouldn't be wholly accurate. True, the only illumination came from the full moon overhead. True, the sound of crickets chirping amongst themselves held a greater volume than the muffled car honks and other city sounds in the distance.
But the foliage was not at all dense. And evidence of the nearby city was all too prevalent. Discarded soda cans andcigarettes were not a rare discovery among the gnarled tree roots and splash of flower beds.
It was the back-alley of the back-alleys. Perfect for meet ups and deals that were meant to be done and forgotten. Chuuya would know, he had been here before.
Illegal exchanges, tense standoffs, fighting a hideous lump of tentacles that was actually a skill-user that was not actually a skill-user named H.P Lovecraft while trying to stop a 13-year old from destroying Yokohama...
Yep. Chuuya couldn't say he had very fond memories of the area.
Yet here he was, walking among the trees, annoyed beyond belief that he had lost his trail.
"Hey, Chuuya! Look at that!"
Chuuya glanced at Dazai, who was walking beside him. The detective was pointing at something in the distance between the trees.
Chuuya squinted. Whatever it was must have been swallowed by the darkness because...
"I don't see anything."
Chuuya frowned, "Yes really. There's nothing there."
"Not even if you tilt your head? Like this?" Dazai said, making a miming motion.
"No Dazai, not even if I tilt my head."
Dazai became more animated as he walked briskly ahead of Chuuya and made a grand gesture, "Exactly. That's my point exactly. There's nothing here."
He put his hands on his hips and whirled around, "You have no idea where you're going, do you?"
Chuuya came to a halt, face reddening.
Dazai smiled wryly.
"S-shut up." he muttered, stepping past Dazai and pointedly marching forward.
Up until now, Chuuya had been operating on a gut feeling.
In a blind rush of adrenaline, he had been following that lingering aura of destruction Atsushi Nakajima had mentioned. He should have known better. Lingering auras were only an abstract concept and probably not the most reliable feature to track.
But he had been on fire -- ready for action and desperate to find it. Pieces were falling into place. It wasn't the whole picture, but it was something pretty damn close to it. Something that told him who had to be punched and where.
He could fix this. He could fix everything. He just had to-
Dazai grabbed the back of his coat.
"Hey, hey. Deep breaths." he said, "Lets slow down for a hot second, m'kay?"
"We can't." Chuuya said, prying his wrist off, careful to make sure their skin didn't connect so he didn't fall face first into the dirt, "We don't have much time to-"
"-walk around aimlessly then demolish the entire place when you inevitably find nothing?"
"That - that's not true! I wouldn't do that! I-I respect nature!"
"Fine," Chuuya huffed, folding his arms, "What's your bright idea then?"
Dazai wagged a finger, "It'll be pointless to wander around, we may stray too far away from the quarry. Lets retrace out steps. Keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary."
"Okay," Chuuya said. He paused, "You lead this time."
Dazai's lip quirked.
"What's this?" He raised his eyebrows and voice dropped to a strange whisper, "Scared?"
"Of course not!" Chuuya said indignantly, "You're the one who is better with the whole findin' clues thing so it only makes sense that you-"
He stopped when he noticed how Dazai's smile had broadened.
"It's alright, hat-rack." Dazai mused, starting the other direction and waving his hand, "I'll protect you from the big scary monster. Lets go before the trail really does disappear for good."
Chuuya scowled, self-consciously adjusted his hat, and went after the detective. He should be annoyed at Dazai. At how effortlessly he once again took control of the situation where Chuuya could not.
And yet...he wasn't. Because it was such a classic Dazai thing to do. He couldn't help it, a smile was starting to tug at his lips.
It was almost funny how quickly they fell back into their old rhythm.
Admittedly, the banter was a bit lighter than before. But simply so in context. Without the weight of Dazai's sudden departure, it felt less bitter, more natural.
But still scathing though. Full of energy from the mutual hatred that flared between them the day they first met and had been burning ever since. They were as ready as ever to step on each others toes.
Chuuya didn't want to be acting differently around Dazai. Not now, not ever.
Because despite how annoying and stupid and all around idiotic that suicidal maniac was -- he was good company.
And Chuuya had missed him.
He kicked a rotted log out of his path, searching for an anger that wasn't there. It was like all his fierce energy had gone out at once and was replaced with a confusing fuzzy something.
Confusing. Because this was confusing. Chuuya was confused.
Chuuya also, as he was soon reminded, had far more important things to do.
"Perhaps," Dazai said from up ahead, "now would be a good time to tell me your ingenious deduction?"
Chuuya's brow creased," Eh? You mean you didn't figure it out already? That's...unlike you."
"Well, I'm not exactlyomnipotentyou know." Dazai said darkly.
There was something about his tone that made Chuuya want to laugh hysterically. Never had he been the one to solve a case before Dazai.Never.
He quickened his pace so that he was walking alongside Dazai. Just as he had guessed, taller man was frowning. Clearly, not being the one in the know for once was causing him some degree of distress.
Chuuya grinned deviously, "Guess."
"Guess?" Dazai echoed, "Come onnnnChuuya-kun, this is a time sensitive mission."
"You don't need to know this to track a giant blundering monster." Chuuya insisted, "Guess."
Dazai lifted a hand to his chin, thought for a moment. Groaned, "Just tell me alreadyyy.Clearly you have hold of an important clue that I don't. Everything else is inconclusive."
"Alright, alright," Chuuya began, eager to be the one explaining for once, "see, when I-"
Dazai stopped abruptly.
There. Just a short way from them, a hulking figure dragging its feet towards a stocky looking warehouse. Without a moment of hesitance, it smashed right through the wall.
Both Dazai and Chuuya jumped at the sound, neither of them having expected that.
"There was a door," Chuuya observed flatly.
"It's took big for the door," Dazai said, "but there was also a garage door, so yes, that was kind of uncalled for."
The two of them edged closer, sliding over to the wall beside the gaping hole. The outside lights of the warehouse had flickered on. Automatic, probably.
Dazai turned, practically sparkling "Rock Paper Scissors? To decide who goes first?"
Chuuya scowled, "What happened to protecting me, hm?"
"Kunikida always does Rock Paper Scissors with me,"
Chuuya knew Dazai was going to play scissors. He always played scissors. So Chuuya won easily.
"Best of three?" Dazai whispered.
"I hate you," Chuuya whispered back.
Dazai smiled, "I hate you too, my little Chuuya."
They quietly moved closer.
Dazai hesitated briefly, then stepped through the recently implemented entryway.
Chuuya was only a breath behind him, but it happened to fast for him to react. A shape barreled into the detective, sweeping him out of view.
"Dazai!" Chuuya shouted, bursting in after him.
The warehouse was dark, musty smelling. A single beam of moonlight catching a swirl of dust in the air.
Dazai had been slammed against a wooden wall, teeth gritted as he grappled with someone shorter.
"Get off of him!" Chuuya stormed over to them, grabbing the assailant by the wrist and yanking him closer, sending a fist into the side of his jaw.
The assailant let out a pitiful sounding yelp, but he didn't let go, nor even look up for that matter.
"Osamu Dazai!" he cried, "I am going to kill you!"
"Truly?" Dazai gasped, tone sarcastic although his eyes were wide and startled.
Chuuya was still trying to tear the assailant off, but there was something about his grip that was frenzied and desperate, providing strength where there should be none.
"I'm going to kill you!" his voice had risen to a shriek, "I'm going to kill you,I'm going to kill you, I'm going to kill you!"
The assailant managed to pull Dazai up and slam him back again, "You have to get away from me orI'm going to kill you!"
"Like hell you are!" Chuuya used his ability and ripped the assailant off his partner, sending him crashing into into a stack of crates.
The assailant scrambled back to his feet. It was too dark to make out a face, but not too dark to see the way he swayed. "It's loud," he whispered, then louder, stumbling away, "It's loud, it's loud,it's too loud! Get it out!"
He knocked into another stack of boxes and disappeared around a corner.
Every nerve in Chuuya's body buzzed, ready to chase the attacker down. But he instead whirled to Dazai, who had slid to the floor.
"You okay?" he said.
"Fine, fine." Dazai said with a smile, "Just a mild case of stabbed in the side."
"Dammit," Chuuya hissed, offering Dazai his hand.
Dazai was about to take it, then froze and shook his head.
Chuuya glanced down, suddenly and keenly aware of the coolness of the air around his fingers. His right glove...was gone?
What? When did that happen? Did the attacker take itWhy?He felt an unpleasant chill, and it wasn't from the cold.
His gloves weren't just for style, they provided him with a sort of switch between his humanity and the restless god within him.Like this, he felt unsettled. Exposed.
He offered Dazai his other hand, the one that was still gloved. Dazai flipped his wrist around took it awkwardly, allowing himself to be pulled up to his feet.
Chuuya didn't wait, he opened Dazai's coat and took out the first aid kit that was still there, then paused when he saw the cut.
"It's...not deep." he said slowly, almost wonderingly " It's...it's not deep at all. It's like he was, trying to hold back or something..."
"Doesn't feel like he was trying to hold back," Dazai grunted, "I don't suppose that was your monster was it? Of course, only tiny Chuuya would find himself a tiny monster..."
"Sorry, I know. Time and place. I'm just salty about getting stabbed," Dazai sighed, lifting his head. A spiteful expression crossed his face.
"Ah," he exhaled, "there's the beast."
Chapter 25: Insufferable Ringing 𝟚/𝟛
Chuuya gasped and spun around, fists clenched and body humming with anticipation.
But there was nothing there. Nothing except for the dark vastness of the crate filled warehouse and steadydrip, dripfrom a leaky pipe somewhere off in the distance.
Once it had finally registered to him that he was not in any immediate danger, Chuuya lowered his fists and straightened, shooting a withering glare at his partner.
"Of course," he grumbled, voice echoing in the enclosed space, "Onlyyouwould get stabbed in the side andstillinsist of driving me up a wall."
"Interesting choice of words," Dazai said breezily, pointing at the ground, "But no, look."
Chuuya followed the motion, blue eyes landing on a dark splatter on the concrete. It was too dark to make out much color, but the gravity-manipulator was all too familiar with the substance to mistake it for anything else.
"Blood..." he whispered, then looked back to the detective, "How do you know this belongs to the monster? It could very well be yours. Or mine, even."
"Doubt it, I wrapped your leg up pretty well." Dazai said, stepping past Chuuya so his back was now to him, studying the stain with an odd solemnness. "And it's definitely not mine."
"But how do you know-"
"I just do," Dazai said, making an impatient motion and heading briskly down the maze of boxes, "Come on, lets look beforestabby mcstabbersonback there decides to make a comeback."
Chuuya gave the splatter a long look before hurrying after Dazai, falling into step beside his long strides.
Something was wrong.
He couldn't say exactly what it was. A shift in the air, a flicker in the shadows, skin crawling as if he were being watched by a thousand eyes. The old, musty scent of mildew and formaldehyde was dense enough to choke on, the crates and boxes surrounding him starting to feel claustrophobic.
The feeling continued to needle at him with every step, heart thumping in his chest and a sheen of sweat causing the back of his shirt to stick to his skin. Something was wrong, something was wrong, in any moment nowsomething was going to go wrong.
Really, the only thing keeping him going at that point was Dazai's self assured steps beside him. Whatever Chuuya was feeling, Dazai clearly didn't. So he couldn't exactly say he was thrilled when the detective stopped, tapped his chin thoughtfully and said,
"Perhaps we should split up and-."
"No." Chuuya said before Dazai even finished speaking.
When that earned him an odd look he hugged his arms to himself and added, "If one of us runs into the monster then what? If it's really as bad as Atsushi said it was, then we don't stand a chance by ourselves."
Dazai's lip quirked, "Ah, so youarescared."
Chuuya shot him a furious look and snarled, "Of course I'm scared.I was scared when I had to go to your damn agency to get help when everyone first started acting wack, I was scared when I had 'ta go on a fucking date with Fyodor Dostoevsky, I was scared when I entered the stupid Chuestival . So you better be sure ashellthat I'm scared now --is that really so wrong?"
Dazai blinked, looking both mildly taken aback and impressed.
"Well if anything, I guess this whole ordeal mellowed out that ego of yours."
"Yeah, now we just gotta do something 'bout yours." Chuuya uncrossed his arms, only then noting faintly that Dazai's little quip had been more of a backhanded compliment than an insult.
Dazai smiled, "Fair. But...don't forget. You're Chuuya Nakahara."
"Eh? What's that supposed to mean?"
Dazai's shoulders brushed against his.
"Doesn't matter how nervous you might be, you still walked out victorious from each one of those situations, did you not?"
Then, for the killing blow, the bandaged mad added, "I have complete faith in your ability to handle this."
For probably the hundredth time that week, Chuuya felt his face warm, angerpoofingaway in a cloud of butterflies.
That was, of course, until he realized.
"So you still want us to split up, huh?"
Dazai nodded, "That would be best, yes."
"Piece of shit," Chuuya muttered, although without any bite in his voice as he reluctantly strayed from Dazai's side. "I'll head this way, you go the other. Be careful, alright?"
"You too," said Dazai, turning in the other direction, "Give a shout if you need me."
"Right," Chuuya said, watching the darkness swallow his partner before spinning on his heel and walking away. His fear had subsided somewhat, but a tenseness still nagged at him.
Perhaps he was just being paranoid...
Chapter 26: Insufferable Ringing 𝟛/𝟛
TW - Light gore.
For a long while, the only sound Chuuya could hear was that of his own footsteps, the only light dull and filtered.
So when he caught a glimpse of something brighter accompanied by a howl of wind, he quickened his pace. He had extended into a run before rounding a corner and skidding to a stop.
He had reached the other end of the warehouse. The boxes here had been roughly shoved to aside, leaving the space open and chilly.
There was a gaping hole in the wall, splinters and metal wire sticking precariously from the ends. Wind gusted through the gap and moonlight poured onto the floor, bathing everything in a silver light.
"What the..." Chuuya said, stepping forward and pausing in front of it. Beyond the warehouse were more trees, some notably fallen over. It took quite some self control not to throw his hat onto the floor and swear profusely.
Looked like their monster had long gone.
He groaned, then cupped his hands, both gloved and ungloved, around his mouth and shouted, "DAZAI, I found something!"
His own voice reverberated around the room. He didn't hear any distant acknowledgment, but he did hear something else, much closer.
A low moan.
Chuuya flinched, looking sharply to the sound.
Strewn out in a patch on moonlight was a figure laying on its side, back turned to him and body completely still.
Just out of its reach was a partly closed switchblade, twinkling metal coated in blood.
The figure, it was the assailant from earlier. It had to be.
What the hell happened to him?
Chuuya hesitated. He couldn't help but remember the shallowness of Dazai's wound, the purposeless pitifulness of the attack.
The assailant ....what if he had only done what he did because of the ability? What if underneath that was someone completely innocent?
That alone got him moving. Chuuya slowly, cautiously crossed the length of the floor and crouched before the figure. The assailant was completely motionless, it would be all too easy to mistake him for dead...
"Oi," said Chuuya because he sucked at being tactful.
There was no response.
"What's the matter with you?"
Still no response.
Mouth dry, he leaned forward and turned the assailant over.
In the moonlight, Chuuya could see that his amber eyes were wide as saucers, glazed over and teary with the stickiness of someone who was simply too whiplashed to cry.
One hand laid stiffly beside his head, fingers twisted savagely into his temple. They were stained a dried, russet color, thick lumps of gore caught between the nails beds. Bits of flesh and sinew dangled by threads, hair matted with blood and undoubtedly hiding further damage.
It looked almost as if the assailant had tried to claw his own brain out, then changed his mind half way when the pain became too unbearable.
Those tormented eyes slowly twitched to the person hovering above him. At the sight, his bottom lip trembled.
In a thin, almost pleading voice, he whimpered --
There was a sharp, unexpected clearness to the words.
"S-shit." Chuuya stammered, hands raised before him, ready to help but unsure how, "Shit. Michizo Tachihara, what did youdo?"
His red-headed subordinate only trembled in response, a single tear sliding down his feverish checks.
Chuuya heard the sound of hurried footsteps behind him, and in an instant Dazai was at his side, slamming the First Aid Kit on the floor with a loudCLACKand rustling through the contents.
His slender fingers paused above it, "....I used up most of the supplies on your leg Chuuya. I-I don't think there's much I can do for him."
"Then we need to find a way to stop the bleeding!" Chuuya had already taken off the coat he kept around his shoulders, ripping it in large pieces, "Come on, help me over here!"
His voice had risen to a shout, panic clamped around him. He couldn't let a mafia member die on his watch, he simplycouldn't. Dazai didn't waste a second, taking the cloth and pressing it tightly to the boy's self-inflicted injury.
"I don't understand," Dazai said in an almost distant tone of voice. Those were words that very rarely left his lips. If Dazai didn't understand something, then there was little chance thatanyonewould.
"He was fine when he took you to the restaurant, what possibly could have happened between then and now?"
"I have no idea. He should have gone straight back to the Port Mafia after dropping me off to report to the others or something like that I-" Chuuya suddenly froze, thoughts catching up.
Very slowly, he turned to Dazai.
The detective wasn't looking, still working on helping Tachihara in any way he could. He didn't seem to notice Chuuya's sudden attention on him.
"Wait..." Chuuya said. The air in the warehouse seemed to drop below negative zero, "How...how did you know about that?"
"Huh?" Dazai exhaled, still busy and eyebrows scrunched in intense concentration.
"How did you know Tachihara drove me to the restaurant?"
There was a pause.
Eyes still trained on his partner's subordinate, Dazai lifted his head. He turned, moonlight catching the brown of his iris', causing them to look as if they were glowing.
His gaze was now focused intently on Chuuya.
A worried sort of smile tugged at his face, "Didn't you...tell me?"
For the smallest flicker of a second, Chuuya did not recognize the man across from him.
"No Dazai," he said, "No I didn't."
There was another groan, and both their attentions were back on Tachihara.
The mafioso was trying to say something, lips moving before words sighed out, "Everyone.....hivemind....that's how they always know...where to find you....all apart of her plan....we see everything..."
"Save your breath, Tachihara," Chuuya said, whatever strangeness he felt towards Dazai evaporating as he looked at his subordinate with concern.
"And try to stay still," Dazai added, finishing with cleaning up the wound and wrapping the cloth tighter, "You've lost a lot of blood."
But the mafioso was determined to get his point across. With startling speed, he grabbed Dazai's wrists, blood smearing everywhere, "You were....right....she knows....found out...going to kill you..."
A complicated mix of emotions crossed Dazai's face, Tachihara's rambling became more frantic,
"You hear it? I did, I did and it was too loud it was too loud I had to get it out I had to I had to it was in the water and I had to it hurt it was too loud.Can't be cured until its out - even the tiger's still with us still knows and she knows...IT WAS TOO LOUD!"
"Calm down," Dazai said placatingly, "we're going to help you..."
Chuuya heard a ringing sound.
At first, he thought it was in his head, hand grazing his temple. But it was too distant, too soft. As Dazai did his best to comfort the hysterical Tachihara, Chuuya rose to his feet, slowly picking his way across the floor.
Trailing from Tachihara's wound was a thin line of blood, creating a dried, morbid path on the concrete. Chuuya followed it, holding a breath as the ringing sound grew louder.
The trail ended very close to the hole in the wall, pooling in a small puddle. In it something small laid curled on its side.
Something silver, with what could only be thousands of little legs wriggling in the air, vibrating and twitching.
Chuuya bent down, bare hand reaching out to touch it...
The bug flipped back upright and as if being drawn by a magnet, shot off through the hole, vanishing into the tall grass past the warehouse, leaving a glittering trail behind.
Chuuya jolted back.
"Dazai!" His shout was shrill.
Dazai looked up at once, "What's wrong? Is it there?"
"No - no its something else that's...that's what he tore out of his head." Chuuya was stumbling over his words, blood rushing in his ears, "Ohgodthat's what's in everyone, isn't it?Oh god."
Dazai gave Tachihara, who had fainted, one more glance then rushed over to Chuuya, bloodied hands at his shoulders, "Chuuya, look at me."
But Chuuya wasn't wholly present.
I have to follow it.
He thought. He had to track down wherever it went. He'd use his ability, fly after it with the force of gravity. It was connected to the monster, somehow. He had to put an end to this...
"Chuuya,you have to tell me what's wrong." Dazai's voice had taken a desperate edge, "Please."
It was in that very second that a stack of crates fell over, crashing to the ground with such ferocity that eye-stinging dust swirled up in the air.
It thinned, revealing set of all too familiar silhouettes.
Hirotsu was the first to emerge from the dust cloud, raising a hand in the air and lowered it sharply. No less than a dozen guns clicked.
The rest of the dust subsided, revealing the members of the Port Mafia, eyes burning and stances ready for battle.
"Honestly Osamu," Ogai Mori sighed dramatically, holding up his phone to show the selfie Chuuya could have sworn Dazai never actually sent, "You really didn't have to flaunt the fact that you snuck under our noses and managed to kidnap Chuuya-kunagain."
He shook his head, "Tsk,and to hide him away in an old warehouse, for shame. Chuuya deserves to live in a castle, not surround by this filth."
Chuuya and Dazai both took a step back, exchanging nervous glances.
Chuuya swallowed, "Boss, please. Tachihara he's-"
"No, no.Youare the boss now," Mori corrected him swiftly. His eyes leveled with Dazai's, cold and murderous.
"Give the order, and we'll take care ofhim."
Higuchi cocked her gun and Kajii tossed his lemon bombs up in the air to emphasize the point. Only Gin Akutagawa seemed to hesitate for a moment, eyes sweeping to the unconscious Tachihara before shaking her head and twirling her knives.
Dazai clenched his fists.
"Go," he whispered.
Chuuya felt a throb in his chest, words coming out harsh "Are youinsane?There's no way in hell I'm going to-"
"Go," Dazai said again, deathly calm as he watched the mafia, "You were going to chase that thing down, weren't you? It's going too fast, only you can possibly cover that distance using your ability. I wouldn't be able to keep up."
Yes, that was true. But Chuuya couldn't justleavehim here, not withthem.
He had to do something. He had to find a way tell the Port Mafia that they got it all wrong.
But howcouldhe explain it?
How despite how may times he lost his temper, acted irrationally, and punched things that probably weren't supposed to be punched -- that he always knew that there would at least be one person that didn't chalk him up to an angry god that needed to be put down?
How could he explain that how no matter how many times he pushed people away,this onealways managed to come back into his orbit. With that stupid grinning face and endless teasing and that thelastthing Chuuya wanted anyone to do was wrench them apart?
It didn't matter in the end. Under the influence of the mysterious ability, the Port Mafia would find a way to twist his words no matter what he said.
Wait as second...
That was it!Don't use words.
Chuuya seized the collar of Dazai's shirt, yanked him to his level, and without missing a beat, kissed him right there and then in front of the horrified Port Mafia.
It was rough and quick and sloppy, and way too rushed to remember to be chaste. Dazai made a startled sound, completely and utterly frozen.
Chuuya released him, breathless.
"Save the revenge for later." he growled.
And then he whirled to the exit, glowing with energy, and launched himself out into the night, after the silver bug that was driving everyone into the brink of madness.
Leaving his stupefied Dazai in front of a slack jawed mafia, oblivious to what would happen next.
Chapter 27: He's Just No Good For You, Reprise
Guns and various other weapons remained locked on their target, but not a soul dared to move.
As for Dazai, he was sure his brain had short-circuited. Because for a brief second, his mind completely emptied of all rational thought, replaced with a single, breathy:
He lifted a finger to his lips, to the memory of his partner's own -- floating on some strange, fluffy sensation. Dazai had bamboozled a good number of people over his lifetime, but he himself was rarely on the receiving end.
Needless to say, it took quite awhile before his common sense finally returned.
Chuuya had employed aslightly unconventionaltactic just now -- to convince his associates to reconsider their unsavory opinions on his suicidal partner. Not that Dazai was complaining or anything. A plethora of new ways to tease the chibi had opened up to him all at once.
Except...he couldn't really focus on any of them, brain still a hazy mess of surprisingly rough lips and eyes the color of a tidal wave. Of a vicious, self assured smirk and merciless tongue. Of an entire storm bottled up in the adorably small vessel that washisChuuya Nakahara.
This was not how the story was supposed to go.
He put an end to the silly, fleeting dream with a flash.
Despite knowing full well that he was in a far more dire situation, Dazai found himself preoccupied with fighting the sudden yearning for something hesimply wasn't allowedto have. Something he was not allowed to evenwant,not inthat way.
Distantly, he heard Fitzgerald's voice in his head:
What is it that you're so afraid of?
Dazai shook himself, suddenly feeling bitter as a sardonic smile twitched at the side of his mouth.
It really wasn't something to dwell upon now. Especially when he could already tell that Chuuya's little trick hadn't worked.
Right on cue, Kajii broke the silence with an appalled gasp.
"I don't believe it!" he cried, "Dazai seduced Chuuya!"
The accusation was accompanied by a chorus of angry shouts.
Dazai lifted his hands up in surrender, letting out a long,longsigh.
"Yep, that's right!" he said brightly, voice soaked with sarcasm, "I, Osamu Dazai, have seduced your Boss. No one is immune to my wiles. Cause' I am theseduciest seducer that has ever seduced-"
Dazai hopped to the side just in time to avoid a bullet thatpingedoff the concrete next to him.
"Goodness, Higuchi," he said, arching an eyebrow, "I'd think your aim is better than that."
The blonde mafioso growled at the taunt, whipping out another gun and firing them both a once.
Dazai ducked behind a crate, lowering his head to shield himself from the rapidtatatatatatatof assault rifles as a good number of other equally furious mafiosos joined in the attack.
This was probably a situation that Kunikida would give him an earful about for recklessly provoking people while already standing between a rock and a hard place. But Kunikida was both not here right now and simply not able to fathom how Dazai felt.
"Sorry, Tachihara." the detective whispered, voice sincere as he leaned over and took the knife he had been stabbed with earlier. "I'll find a way to return this to you, just hang in there."
He counted to three in his head then leapt away from the crate, towards the gaping hole Chuuya just vanished through.
Before he could make it however, Koyo's Golden Demon used her sword to slice a giant fixture off the ceiling, causing it to crash before the exit and successfully block the way out.
"Haven't lost your touch, Ane-san!" Dazai called just as a knife whizzed past his head.
He dusted himself off. The little Kunikida in his head was getting obnoxiously loud so he decided to switch methods.
"Look you guys, I know you're not the biggest fan of me right now, but your Boss might be in some serious danger-"
"In no more danger than he would be in if he were with you!" Hirotsu declared, sending a series of boxes spiraling backwards towards the bandaged man.
Dazai sighed, dodging each one with perfect ease, only to come face to face with Q.
"Why won't you leave Chuuya-san alone?" they demanded
"Better question," Dazai shot back stupidly, the barest hints of a dark laugh laced in his words, "Why don'tyouleave him alone, hm?"
Without so much as a warning, Q stuck their tongue out and hoisted a giant bazooka over their tiny shoulders.
"Go away you creepy stalker!"
Dazai dropped to the floor as they fired, the crates behind him erupting into violent flames.
Before he could quite recover, a hand seized him and roughly pulled him up, slamming him into the wall.
"You have some nerve," Gin said angrily, soft voice contorted with rage, "stupid troll."
"Hey, hey! I've been on good behavior lately!"
He still had the knife in his hand, but he really didn't want to stab Gin. He didn't want to hurtanyof them, not while they were being controlled.
However, at the same time, he was also starting to think he didn't have much of a choice.
He settled with kicking her in the shin and sliding out from underneath her arm. He only made it a few steps forward however, before he felt the muzzle of Higuchi's gun press against his chest, backing up as she advanced.
"Lazy good for nothing," she was mumbling, "Annoying, conceited, manipulative bastard..."
"Okay, now that just hurts my feelings."
He twisted her wrist, snagging the gun and holding it up defensively before him. The Port Mafia didn't seem the least bit fazed by the motion, continuing to move forward at an alarming pace.
Dazai had to get out of here as soon as possible.
At this very moment, Chuuya was most definitely running off head first into trouble. Dazai had to find a way to catch up, to help him. He could still remember the look of fear on his partner's face, he had to make sure that was a look that never came over him again-
Koyo caught the crook of Dazai's elbow with the end of her parasol, pulling him up close.
"Short jokes, derogatory nicknames..." she ticked off on her fingers, "Mm, yes. And hiding his hats. Not very gentlemanly."
"To be fair, Ane-san," Dazai groaned, "He tried to hang me from a lamp-post. And nearly choked me half to death that one time. Very physically abusive-"
She smacked him across the face.
His head snapped sharply to the side, ears ringing as she shouted with unbridled rage:
"What did you say about my practically-adopted-son?!"
He sensed Golden Demon at his back, a pressure digging there before No Longer Human kicked in and the armed avatar vanished in a burst of red.
Dazai leapt past Koyo and darted between a few grunts, just barely missing a crossbar thrown by Hirotsu.
"Are you trying to make the young man miserable?"
Dazai felt an indignant flare in his chest.
"Ohcome on," he said, throwing his arms out wide, "I'm kind of doing my best here to make the opposite happen,unlike a certain group of someones-"
Dazai gasped at the sudden blow to his gut, staggering forward and dropping into an involuntary kneel.
He looked up. It was too dark to make out the expression of the man hovering above him, but somehow he knew it wasn't pleasant.
"Oh Osamu," Mori said gently, "Don't you understand?"
"No," Dazai said, spitting out a wad of blood, "I don't think I do."
Mori rubbed the bridge of his nose, as if he were about to say something that should be terribly obvious.
"For all his grumbling and cavilling, perhaps there was a time when he really did like you."
Dazai smiled nervously "Well...thanks for your singular support Mori. You'll definitely be invited to the wedding -"
"And you left him."
It was the emotional equivalent of being smacked on the other side of his face.
It took a moment before he remembered.
"Mm, but that's the thing, Mori. He said... that it was okay. That he.... just wanted me to be happy -"
"Your happiness," Mori said, switching off the safety of his pistol with a loud, audibleclick. and pointing it squarely at Dazai's forehead, "At the expense of his".
The mafia began closing in.
"Did you really think that after one little heart to heart that it was all going to be butterflies and rainbows?" Koyo hissed.
"Do you really think someone like you even deserve happiness?" Hirotsu chimed in.
"You're just no good for him," Higuchi added, "it's as simple as that."
Dazai took in a deep, deep breath.
"I don't care."
This earned him a host of nasty looks from the mafia.
"I don't care what Chuuya thinks of me. I don't care that he hates my guts. He has every right to. Feel free to do whatever you want to me, but can itpleasewait until after? At the moment, I would very much like to help him. That's all I want,nothing more."
There was a prolonged silence.
Mori grinned devilishly, leaning forward.
He pulled the trigger.
Dazai swung away just in the nick of time. He leapt upright and dashed for the garage door, hitting the button twice.
"That's why you keep even your beloved Armed Detective Agency at an arm's length, isn't it Osamu?" Mori called after him, the only one standing in place as the rest of the mafia swarmed past.
"Because there's something dangerous about getting too close to you. You can't help playing with them, you can't helpbreaking them."
Dazai's breath hitched as a bullet grazed the side of his cheeck, then shot a couple of support beams down to slow the Port mafia's assault.
Once the garage door lifted a significant amount, he jammed the blunt of his gun into the inside control panel, wrecking it before sliding through and hitting the outside button, the doors now quickly descending.
What is it that you're so afraid of?
"You hurt him before!" Mori's voice had risen with some sort of twisted delight, "And you most certainly will again.And you know it!That's why you won't admit even to yourself just how badly you want him!"
The members of the Port Mafia, seeing their target was getting away, became incensed. The former Boss, on the other hand, began to laugh.
"But it doesn't matter, it doesn't even matter in the end. No matter what you work out your twisted feelings to be, it won't change the fact thathe still fucking hates you. -"
The garage doors finally slammed shut.
The the voices silenced immediately and replaced with the howl of the wind and chirp of crickets. Perhaps, ever so faintly, one could even still hear the distant booming of fireworks.
Dazai stared at the entrance for a moment, blinking twice before it finally registered to him that it had closed.
He laughed quietly to himself.
"Joke's on you Mori," he muttered, tucking away his stolen gun and putting the knife in his pocket, "You don't have to tell me.I already know that."
He stuck his tongue out at the now Port Mafia-containing warehouse. He then spun on his heel, making his way through the forest and humming a little melody to himself.
He shouldn't have, there weren't any roots or tin cans or anything. And yet he found himself quickly reaching out, leaning heavily against a nearby tree.
"Shit," he gasped, pressing his forehead against the bark.
No, no,no. This wasn't the time to let this catch up to him. This wasn't the time to feel so sick, to feel so dizzy that he couldn't even walk straight. Not now, not overthis.
Right now, Chuuya needed him. He had to stop feeling sorry for himself and pull it together because Chuuyaneeded him.
The detective squeezed his eyes shut, no longer able to ignore the ache in his chest nor the hot press of tears forming at the corner of his eyes.
It shouldn't matter that the Port Mafia had managed to give voice to every doubt that had been circling within him for so long. He was Osamu Dazai, these things weren't supposed to get to him. He was supposed to be able to save the day in the end, not get crippled because of something as stupid as hisfeelings.
It doesn't matter, I don't care.
He repeated the words over and over in his head, like it were some sort of soothing balm.
What Mori said does not affect me. Because I am not, and never have been, in love with Chuuya Nakahara.
Once he was certain of this -- or at least, once the heavy feeling in his gut lightened, Dazai's eyes snapped back open, a new sense of determination burning there as he pushed off the tree.
"Hold on Chibi," he muttered, "I'm coming..."
Chapter 28: A Creature, Desperate For Affection
In the instant that Chuuya took off, he realized that a good number of things had already started to work against him.
Firstly -- the bug moved like quicksilver, streaking across Yokohama so fast that it was practically a grey blur. If it weren't for his ability, the thing probably would have slipped out of his sight a long time ago.
Then there was the matter of his leg. The traitorous limb had taken it upon itself to start throbbing like hell out of nowhere, completely and utterly screwing over his focus and making little stars appear in his vision.
But none of that was nearly as bad the voice inside his head. The very one that was currently loudly accusing him of being just as suicidal as Dazai. Because surely only someone with a death wish would have the nerve tokiss that man like that.
Honestly! There had probably been hundreds of other ways to get the Port Mafia off his partner's back. But of coursethatwas what he thought of first. Of coursethatwas what went through with.
Oh he was in so much trouble. It wouldn't matter how much he tried to argue that he had been so very caught up in the moment.The teasing was bound to be merciless
He's probably mad at me.
Chuuya thought, cringing inwardly. Oh god, he really didn't think he could survive an angry Dazai. One of these days, he was going to return home to find all his hats missing and alcohol replaced with vinegar. Rose petals scattered over his bed in shameless mockery.
That was the thing about Dazai, he was just too damn perceptive. He had probably already caught on to Chuuya's sure delirium. Perhaps before Chuuya had even realized it himself. Surely the detective had been only faking obliviousness every time Chuuya had blushed so deeply and tripped over his own words.
Because the truth was Chuuya was an absolute fool for that idiot. And there wasno waythe other man hadn't noticed yet.
Growling, Chuuya burst forward, his annoyance at himself supplying an extra shot of energy.
It was that energy that allowed him to track the winding path of silver through the grass. Right up until the skyline began to rise and the boom of fireworks could be heard again.
Until the bug reached the grassy filed that he and the detective had been on only moments earlier, shuddered, and promptly died.
Chuuya landed a bit away from it, stumbling briefly and jogging over. Confused, he reached down and flicked the creepy crawly. The bug turned out to be a lost more mushy than he realized, and he accidentally ended up separating the top half from the bottom.
Well, Chuuya thought, mildly disgusted as he wiped his hand off on his vest,If it wasn't dead before, it mostly definitely is now.
He looked around. Despite the breeze that was ruffling through the tall grass, there was a stillness to the dark night air. Something heavy and metallic hung there, like the humidity that came before a storm.
This must be that 'aura of destruction' that Atsushi was talking about.. .
The gravity-manipulator took a deep breath, summoning what remained of his confidence, then shouted, "Hey you bastard!You better come on out, I know you're around here somewhere!"
As if on cue, a shadow fell over him, the steady stream of moonlight coming from above vanishing at once.
He spun around.
The monster was large and vaguely humanoid shaped. Each giant limb a vastly different shade of green and seemingly held together by a hastily done thread. Bolts stuck grotesquely between the joints, as if the creature were really just a mish-mash of different parts.
It stood still, silent. Resembling a statue more than anything else as it glared down, a haze of red mist pouring from those bottomless eyes.
Chuuya held the monster's intense gaze for a solid minute.
"I wasn't talking to you."
The monster did not show any inclination of understanding. Nor did it react to the soft giggles Chuuya heard creeping up behind him.
"I was wondering when you'd find out."
Once again, Chuuya slowly turned. Standing there was a short young woman in a modest dress. She had a cascade of brown curls and a ring of golden bracelets looping around her slender wrist. She was a foreigner, but Chuuya recognized her immediately.
It was the very woman that he had worked with back at the States. The one who he himself had practically walked into the heart of Yokohama only a couple of days ago.
They regarded each other, her smile curling higher and higher.
"Dude," Chuuya said, gesturing widely at the monster, "What the heck?
Mary Shelley shrugged, as if the worst thing she had done that day was knock over his glass of water.
"That's my ability, remember?" she said, "His name isFrankenstein. Oh, but not like Adam Frankenstein, that's this whole other thing my mom did. And come to think of it, 'Frankenstein' isn't wholly accurate either. If you wanna be specific, this here is Frankenstein's Monster."
"I don't care what it is!" Chuuya sputtered, half-hysterical. When that tiger kid started talking about a 'monster' I figured it was from you but I-" he shook his head, eyes hardening as further realization dawned upon him.
"Me?"Mary Shelley gasped, a look of mock astounded-ness on her face, "Last time I checked,youwere the one who said that the Port Mafia wouldn't be holding a big fancy party. Yet lo and behold..."
Chuuya, exasperated at this point, groaned, "You're not even a part of the Guild, are you?"
"What gave it away?" Mary crooned as she advanced, "The fact that after the incident with the Moby Dick, the Guild hasn't been operating out of the United States of America at all? Or wait! Maybe it was my obviously British accent. It was that, wasn't it?"
Chuuya nearly took a step back, before remembering the monster was standing right behind him.
"But...that doesn't make any sense. There's no way the Order Of The Clocktower would ever-"
"Oh, I'm not with them. Defected a long time ago when I realized the life of a mercenary pays much better than that of an over glorified babysitter."
"So the mission in the States-"
"A ruse." she smiled, "Hired a couple of thugs to do some shady stuff and had you put them down while we set up the stage in Yokohama."
"And the money...?"
"There isn't any."
"Well," Chuuya said, "Shit."
Mary Shelley was now standing toe to toe with him. She made a point of looking around, "Hm, you seem to be down a party member."
"He's somewhere else," Chuuya answered automatically, "Safe from you."
Mary's deceptively sweet smile split into something crueler, eyes glittering with private knowledge, "Are you sure about that?"
There was something in her tone that caused something in Chuuya to snap.
He seized her by the collar, "You better tell me what that means or else I swear-"
Without warning, Frankenstein's fist crashed into him, sending him flying to the side and hat tumbling off to who even knew where.
"Ugh, so possessive," Mary rolled her eyes, "Gross. Aren't you forgetting that you're supposed to hate him?"
Chuuya spat out a speck of blood, furious at himself for not seeing the blow coming. He struggled upright.
"Fine," he snarled, voice raspy. He was determined not to be made the fool here, not again.
He lifted his head, blue eyes smoldering as he bit out, "I'm in love with Osamu freaking Dazai, is that what you wanted to hear?"
Mary paused. Clearly, that was in fact what she had been angling at but hadn't expected him to confess it so readily.
Truth be told, Chuuya hadn't been expecting it either. All he knew was that he was getting tied of running circles in his head truing to deny it.
He was in love with Dazai.
Maybe he always had been.
"Oh," Mary Shelley said, "Oh seriously? Damn."
Chuuya shook his head, "Whatever, that's not the point here. This 'everyone loves Chuuya' thing, is it a part of your ability?"
"Nope," Mary said, "Gosh, weren't you paying attention? All I have is Frankenstein." she patted the monster's beefy arms fondly.
"But you're the one in control right? You can put an end to this?"
Mary withdrew a transmitter, holding it up teasingly. "In an instant, yes. I would just have to tell my guy on the other end here to-"
Before his fingers could quite make contact with the communication device, however, he was met with a swift kick in the gut (courtesy of Frankenstein) and was sent back to the ground.
He sat up. "I don't understand," he said, "Why are you doing this? What is there possibly to gain from everyone loving me?"
"Tch," Mary said, eyes hardening for a second, "So ungrateful. Don't you know some people would simplydieto be in the position you are? Take my darling Frankenstein here for example."
Chuuya looked at the monster, at its expressionless face and hulking form.
"I don't get it."
"It's not unlike you, in that respect." Mary continued, "A being feared for its power. A creature, desperate for affection. Isn't it nice to be cared for so deeply for once? To not just be regarded as athingmade by made men to satisfy their lust for power?"
"Nice?" Chuuya echoed incredulously, "Nice?I don't know what youthinkhas been going on around here lately, butI've been chased, harassed, shot, and probably stalked for all I know. This is the opposite ofnice!"
"Are you sure about that?"
"Yes!" Chuuya exclaimed, "I just want everyone to go back to normal!"
Mary was silent for a moment, then rolled her eyes. "Wellexcuuuuse mefor trying to tie in a centralizing theme. Whatever. I'm the one with the fucking monster."
She snapped her fingers.
There was acrackand Frankenstein began rapidly growing in size, nails pointing into claws and mouth opening to reveal several rows of teeth and a long, predatory tongue. It shrieked, splintering the night with a piercing wail.
Chuuya let his ability hum around him, rising to a battle stance. He was painfully aware of the fact that he was in no shape to fight. He was so tired...and his leg was screaming at him to just be done with it and cut it off already.
Maybe...it would be smarter to flee. Regroup...get help...
"Oh look over there!" Mary called over the noise, patting Frankenstein then pointing at the cluster of lights in the distance, "A festival!"
Her eyes slid to Chuuya, grinning manically, "Wouldn't be a shame if something bad happened to it?"
Chuuya inhaled sharply just as Frankenstein, with unexpected litheness for something so large, began moving towards the lights. Towards the citizens of Yokohama.
Swearing, he leapt for the creature. He only managed to strike it once before being swat away as if he were some meddlesome fly.
He hit the ground hard, trembling from the exertion. No, there was no way he would be able to win.
Not in this state.
"I see you're debating something," Mary quipped, walking over and bending down to peer at him, "I'd say give it a go."
She nodded at his gloveless hand, "I mean, you're already half way there."
"Aw, thanks. I try."
Chuuya stood, brushing roughly past her.
"You better hurry up...Dazai," he breathed, ripping off his remaining glove and storming towards the monster, a winding red spiral running down his bare arms.
I'm counting on you.
He shouted on the top of his lungs, "Hey!"
Frankenstein stopped moving, turning almost quizzically over its shoulder.
Mary burst into hysterical laughter just as Chuuya's world split with the shuddering red burst of Corruption.
Chapter 29: The Big Event
The thousands of people that filled the Chuestival all came to a collective halt, staring up at the sky.
The fireworks had faded, replaced with a single burst of red zigzagging in the far off distance. They all knew what it was, this was what they had been waiting for after all.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Ranpo whispered.
Poe was fiddling nervously with Karl. Ever since tossing his dear friend through the air, he had been feeling very strange. Guilty, almost.
He had thought seeking out Chuuya might help (because Chuuya always knew what to do) but for whatever reason, his feet had brought him a couple booths over to where the genius detective, Edogawa Ranpo, and the rest of the Armed Detective Agency were instead.
"E...erm..." he stammered, "I'm not sure, Ranpo-kun. I think everything here is lovely but...doesn't that look dangerous?"
"It's beautiful," Ranpo only repeated, "It's perfect."
"It is time," President Fukuzawa said gravely, eyes also unmoving from the sky.
From somewhere in the distance, a kettle whistled, but the owner made no move to take it off. A dog barked, her leash slipping from her owners fingers before running away un-chased.
An overhead speaker crackled.
Nikolai Gogol's voice came through, his cheery and energetic tone sharply contrasting with the stillness in the air, "Alright everyone! As promised, it's time for the Big Event! So fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the show! None of us are going to make it out alive!"
"As none of us should." came the chorus of voices in an eeriely perfect sync.
Poe tugged on his friend's sleeve.
"Ranpo...maybe we should go..."
"And miss Chuuya when he arrives?" Ranpo replied, words suggesting a tease but voice monotone and eyes glazed over as he continued to watch the skyline, "This is a once in a lifetime chance."
Poe swallowed, shrinking back from the enthralled crowd. They were starting to resemble dead fish, eyes bugged out and mouths parted. Limbs stiff and attention distant. As if all this time they had only been puppets, and now their master had put up her strings and walked out of the theatre, taking the magic of their lives with her.
"Oh Karl..." Poe whimpered, feeling a faint buzz in his head, "...I don't like this, I don't like this one bit..."
Chapter 30: And Then There Shall Be Nothing Left
Thank you for reading ily~
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It did not take long to find Chuuya.
And not just because of the indefatigable crisscross of electrifying red that cut through the dark like lighting.
No, there was something else. A feeling fluttering dimly at the edge of Dazai's peripherals. One that whispered into his mind exactly where to go and how to get there.
He had only been faintly aware of it before, but now, if he focused hard enough - he could see that he could quite literallysee everything.
Images pulsed at his temple in time with the red sparks:
The citizens of Yokohama, motionless and enraptured.
Edgar Alan Poe, walking backwards from the crowd until a glint of light sent an involuntaryfeeling coursingthrough him and he went just as still.
Atsushi Nakajima, coming hazily awake in a sea of black.
And of course --Chuuya. His pupils were constricted to the point that his eyes were a sickly white and his skin was inhumanly pale. He could have passed for dead if it weren't for the fact he was enveloped in Corruption, exchanging rapid blows with a creature a million times his size against the backdrop of a starless sky.
That last image vanished with a bloodcurdling shriek. I was impossible to tell whether it came from the monster or Chuuya.
Dazai quickly made his way through the rest of the forest. He came into a small clearing, finding himself standing behind a foreigner. Her hands were on her hips as she watched the explosive battle before her, backlit by the eye-stinging flashes of light.
The detective slid quietly from the remaining underbrush, withdrawing the pistol he stole from Higuchi and pressing it to the back of the woman's head.
Without turning, she rose her small palms up in a sort of surrender.
"Osamu Dazai," she said by way of greeting, "Do I have to tell you how you found me, or have you already guessed by now?
"I think I've got it figured out." Dazai answered curtly, lips bent into an ugly smirk.
The foreigner laughed, a hallow, mirthless thing, "Good. I do hate explanations."
There was aboom, the sound of air being contorted, followed by a beastly howl. The ground beneath them shook.
Dazai badly wanted to look, to catch just a glimpse of the gravity-manipulator, to see how far he was into Arahabaki. Chuuya could only go so long before all his energy was sapped up by his own rampage, Dazai's timing had to beperfect.
"You were supposed to die in the warehouse, you know."
"Awww, really?" Dazai said, "Man, usually I'd be pretty enthusiastic about that."
He nodded at the fight, "But sadly I made a promise to the fella back there that I'd see him through this before offing myself. Oh, and for future reference, I want to commitdoublesuicide so unless you're willing to join me-"
The foreigner scoffed, "A lady of my stature would never."
"A lady of your stature," the detective echoed, venom dripping into his voice, "May I ask exactly who you think you are?"
"Mary Shelley," Mary Shelley said, her own tone becoming more delighted at Dazai's obvious anger, "A humble mercenary following her Boss' orders."
She thought for a moment, then added, "Oh, and also Chuuya's ex-girlfriend."
Dazai had never flicked the safety off a gun faster than he did then.
Mary bust out laughing, spinning around to face him, "Bwhahahaha! You should see your face right now! Ah, no need to look so furious, I'm only kidding. Trust me, if you heardanyof what I just had the horrible pleasure of witnessing, you'd know that boy issovery gay."
Her eyes flicked up to the muzzle that was now at her forehead, grin widening deviously.
"Go on," she simpered, "Shoot me. But keep in mind that if you do, that'll only take care of Frankenstein. Without me to end it, everyone will stay infatuated with your little partnerforever."
"It's a good thing I don't have to kill you to get rid of your ability then," Dazai smiled bitterly. He began reaching out a hand.
"God, you really are stupid, aren't you?
Dazai's fingers stopped an inch from her neck, "Excuse me?"
She turned back around, spreading her hands open at the scene before them, "Take a good look, tell me what you see."
"Ugh, do I have to answer that? I really don't feel like entertaining you" Dazai rolled his eyes dramatically, "I'm getting kind of bored of our little chat, especially since you've probably already lost. This isn't the first time the chibi has done this, ya know."
He began ticking off on his fingers, "Lovecraft, big dragon thing... what makes you think you're special? It's just another day of Chu-chu stopping a big scary monster from destroying all of Yokohama."
"Are yousure?" Mary Shelley crowed, "Or is it the other way around?"
"Tell me, how come you're over here withmeand not there withhim? Do you reallythink I'm just going to let you waltz over to that man once he's done?"
She let out yet another shrill giggle, "Touch me with that nullification of yours, and that tiny force of destruction catapults straight towards the next thing to pound into the ground. Namely, the festival. And then the rest of this pathetic city."
"No," Dazai whispered, aim wavering.
"Ohyes," the villain cackled, "You won't be fast enough to stop him. And if you try to run over to there now, you'll get knocked out of the way by Frankenstein. Or me actually, I have my own pistol in my waistband."
"So this was your plan," he hissed, grin wiped from his face, "To bait Chuuya into destroying all of Yokohama."
"Mhm. There were a few hitches along the way, but it's all coming together. Once I deactivate my ability, he'll rip this place apart until there's nothing left. Then once he runs out of steam, he'll curl up on some shore somewhere and die himself."
"And with everyone in love with Chuuya..." Dazai said slowly, "...they won't even think of getting out of the way."
The ground shook once more, another shriek piercing the night.
Mary made finger guns at him, "Bingo."
Dazai ran the situation over in his head, forwards and backwards. His gun arm wavered again, then dropped limply to his side.
"Whatever you're being being paid to do this, I'll triple it," he said quickly, "Please, just let me go to him."
Mary guffawed, "Oh, no need to sound so desperate. It doesn't suit you. Besides, there's no way you can match the sum offered to me."
She took a step closer to wag a finger in his face, "I knowalllabout you, Osamu Dazai. I anticipated the possibility that you'd make it this far. So I have another gamble prepared."
She pulled a phone out of her dress pocket, Dazai watching through narrowed eyes. She scrolled across the screen before smiling and lifting it to show her correspondence.
"Just a moment ago, the rest of your beloved Armed Detective Agency was located and transferred to a ship on Yokohama's harbor. If you wish, I'll give you the key to the motor so you can escape with them before it's too late."
He felt his heart drop. Sothatwas why Atsushi hadn't followed him and Chuuya into the forest...
"And," Mary said, "I should also probably mention that this same ship is stacked with TNT. So if you turn down my generous offer..." she mimed an explosion.
Dazai closed his eyes, "My associates will never forgive me if I choose them over Yokohama."
"Mm, but they'll be alive." she drew out the words with the precision of a torturer's blade, "They're the worlds best detectives, no? I'm sure they're the only ones capable enough to track down my Boss and stop this from every happening again. You can face me again on a different battlefield"
He had to remind himself to breathe. Her offer, it did make a morbid sort of sense. The Armed Detective Agency would hate him forever, the city he loved would be wiped from the map.
But Kunikida...Atsushi...Yosano...and all the others. They'd besafe.
Dimly, he remembered a time from long ago, when he had told his friends Ango and Oda how he never did get to have anything he wanted.
...that had beena long time ago.
Red flashed across the sky.
He lifted his head, a grin splitting his face. The hat-rack was right, hedidchange. And not just in temperament. His hardships had stoked something stronger in him. He was smarter now that he was then, more cunning than ever before.
"What about my chibi?"
Mary let out an exasperated sigh, "If I could stick him at the end of the deal I would. But I can't, so you're just gonna have to say bye to him. Sometimes we just have to make sacrifices in this world."
"Ah, ah!" Dazai took a broad step forward, "No, unfortunately that won't do. You see, I sacrificed him once before. It would be kind of mean to do it again, don't you think?"
A look of uncertainty flickered over the foreigner's face as she took a step back.
"Clearly," the bandaged man continued, "Your didn't do all your research. These days, I always get what I want. And I do want the Detective Agency."
Mary laughed again, but it was more forced this time, eyes darting to the side. Somewhere in the background, Frankenstein let out a screech of pain as a sudden lurch of gravity tore its arm loose.
Before the woman had time to react, he grabbed onto her shoulder and drew her close.
He whispered into her ear, "and I also want Chuuya."
There was an explosion, an especially bright shower of color enough to blind someone. When it faded, Frankenstein was gone, a blackened smudge where the beast once stood. Blood remained splattered on the grass in great darkened swaths.
Standing among the carnage was Chuuya. He was breathing heavily, irises constricted to no more than a tiny smudge in the vast whiteness of his wide eyes. Angry spirals of red raced across his red skin.
But most unsettling of all was the wide smile on his face. It brimmed with pure mad ecstasy, hungry for destruction. He didn't even take a moment to consider the the disappearance of his foe. Two purple orbs trembling with power flared to life between his twitching fingers, a delirious laugh bubbling out from his lips.
"Oi! Slug, over here!"
Chuuya's laugh stopped shortly, head tilting back to glance at Dazai with disinterest. After all, why rip apart a single man when there was a much more appealing crowd up ahead?
Judging by his depraved form, he really was far gone. But Dazai had to hope that there was still some part of him that would react to his next words.
"What are you doing?" Mary hissed, "You fool! If he comes here, we'll both be dead!"
"Chuuya-kunnn!" Dazai called anyways, "Remember when we were fifteen and you told me you were still growing?"
Mary began to struggle, but Dazai was holding on too tightly.
"Well, you're still really short!" he shouted, "The extra inches your tacky hat gives you isn't fooling anyone, you still look like a shrimp. And I'll tell you what, I always knew you would. Because I'm your partner, I've got everything about you memorized down to perfection!"
"Ah, I see what you're doing now." Mary said, "But come one, there's no way the god of calamity will go after a single man when there's-"
Chuuya whirled away from the direction of the festival and launched himself forward, tearing towards them at a rapid pace. Mary yelped.
Dazai smiled, "That's right, Chuuya,everything! I know you're pathetically lightweight, I know how you cry drunkenly during sappy movies. I know how despite having most people fooled into thinking you're this big bad mafioso you do things like help old ladies and care for puppies. Isn't thatembarrassing?"
"Stop this," Mary demanded.
"But this is fun!" Dazai insisted, cupping a hand around his mouth, "And you know what else, Chuuya? I knew all of this since the day wemet!It was written all over your face. Somehow, I justknew.The second you round house kicked me in the face, I knew I'd never get a moment of peace in my life ever again becauseyou'd always be there in it!"
The god's speed increased tenfold
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Mary shouted over him, "We'll both die like this!"
"Oh, I won't" Dazai mocked, "Nullification, remember? Here's what we'll do. Deactivate the bugs this instant and I'll save your sorry life."
"If I'm dead-"
"I'll pluck that transmitter off your corpse and threaten whoever is on the other side of it. Tick tock, my partner looks really mad."
"How would you even know if I-"
"I already told you I figured it out. I know I'll know."
Mary bit her lip. Then she whipped out the transmitter and yelled into it, "Deactivate the mind-controllers! NOW!"
The fuzzy sensation in Dazai's mind vanished just as Chuuya reached, fist wound back and teeth gritted in fury.
Mary Shelley, overwhelmed by the immanence of death, swayed and fainted onto the ground.
Dazai stepped over her and long last placed his slender fingers on Chuuya's corrupted face.
He couldn't help this new smile that washed over him, bright and genuine as Chuuya's anger uncoiled. The mafioso had froze, crazy look falling into a confused little pout. He blinked once, and the life came flooding back into those beautiful, shining blue eyes of his.
"Welcome back Chuuya," Dazai laughed quietly. He really couldn't stop smiling at that point. He pulled his partner closer, pressing his forehead to his.
"I missed you."
Update: Hello there! I just wanted to quickly note that there are only a few parts left before I wrap up. I think they'll end up reading a lot better together, so there might be a bit of a delay between now and then. As always, thank you so much for reading! See you then!!
Chapter 31: (Not) Be(ing) Here
Hello hello! So you know how I said I was going to release the rest of the parts all in one go? Well, I lied :D. Not on purpose, of course. I just noticed that the time between my last update and now has grown quite wide and I didn't want to make you all wait too long.
So here's some chapters!
After this, there's two more parts left before The End~
Also, for my older readers, allow me to note that I rewrote (Not) Be(ing) Here because I wasn't too crazy about the original, so feel free to check that out too!
The world burst back into focus.
At once, the sea of red that had coated everything shattered into a million pieces, color swelling back into Chuuya's vision as the frigid sting of wind chased away the fiery heats of calamity.
The executive hissed at the sudden stab of pain, air whistling crudely between his teeth.
Without the senseless adrenaline that came with Corruption, the exhaustion began settling in rapidly. Where he had once felt fierce and indestructible, he now felt exposed, vulnerable, and veryverycold.
"Can you stand?"
The first thing Chuuya noticed about Dazai's voice was that it was close.Tooclose. He could feel the exhale of warm breath against his face, all too aware of how dangerously near it was to his dumbly parted lips.
He tilted his head back ever so slightly, wide eyed gaze landing on Dazai's glittering one. It was only when he moved did he notice Dazai's hands were wound in his hair, left thumb brushing the spot on his cheek where the crimson spirals had just faded.
It took Chuuya a full minute before he remembered how to speak.
His voice ended up coming out slightly more irritated than he meant it to. But that didn't seem to bother Dazai, who merely chuckled and withdrew, holding out his bandaged arms in invitation.
Chuuya, lacking the strength to do much else, tumbled into them immediately.
"Let...go of me..." Chuuya rasped, cheeks burning as the detective's hands folded over his back, " GoddammitDazai, let...go of me..."
"But if I do that," Dazai teased gently, "You'll fall."
"Then...let me fall...you moron..."
Chuuya broke off into a shuddering bout of coughs, dimly aware of Dazai pulling him even closer.
He was too weak to struggle, so he didn't even bother. Instead he went slack against the detective's warmth, blinking rapidly to offset the little black dots dancing at the edge of his vision.
Everything hurt...so much...
"Ah, there you go." Dazai hummed once Chuuya's tense form loosened, "Much better. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?"
Chuuya felt as much as he heard Dazai's voice reverberate in his chest, causing the mafia executive to melt with an obscenely warm and fuzzy feeling.
He swallowed, suddenly hyperaware of how dry his throat was and the rhythmic thrum of his own heart against his ribcage.
It was around that moment he decided that he was actually very glad Dazai hadn't let go of him. Partly because the only alternative was the ground. And maybe just partly because there was something very reassuring about the reminder that Dazai washere.
He was safe. They were both safe. And sometimes it felt like that was the only thing that mattered.
Slowly, hesitantly, Chuuya began letting himself calm down.
That was of course, until he remembered just what this feeling was:
I'm in love with Osamu freaking Dazai.
Panic shot through Chuuya. With a gasp, he looked up only to see Dazai smiling down at him. A smile that became somewhat confused at Chuuya's sudden urgency.
Because his luck really was that terrible, the moon happened to be reflecting ethereally in Dazai's deep thoughtful eyes, the stars surrounding him in a faint, silvery halo. He looked unreal. He lookedimpossible.
Chuuya finally understood what everyone else had always seen in Dazai. And yet at the same time, he didn't at all.
Because at the end of the day, this was more than just a man who was equally cunning as he was bizarre. More than the youngest executive the mafia had ever seen and more than the sharpest detective to ever grave the agency.
It was Chuuya Nakahara's fucking goddampartner.They guy who didn't like dogs and was a terror at dinner parties. Who tried to commit suicide whenever the chance presented itself but never followed through with it. He was brilliant, he was insane, but he was also justDazai.
And for that reason alone, he waswonderful.
The mafioso looked down sharply.
He felt hot enough to burn a hole in the atmosphere. He wanted to kick himself for it.
"What..." he finally managed to get out, "...happened?"
Dazai shifted him to the side to get a better look at his face. Chuuya saw his partner's eyes shine with an equal amount of humor and surprise before he turned his head pointedly away.
"You don't remember?"
Chuuya shook his head.
Dazai hummed again, and Chuuya felt the vibration down to the tip of his toes.
"It would be kind of funny if I didn't tell you. But I'm feeling generous today so lets see. There was a really gross monster that must have been evil or something because you decided to bring hell down on it."
"Well, I know that much considering Ifeellike hell," Chuuya snapped irritably, coughed, then added in a more strained tone, "Did I...?"
"Kill it?" Dazai said, "Probably. The thing exploded so I'm sure it won't be much of a problem anymore."
"And are you...?"
The words faltered at the end.
"Am I what?"
Chuuya whispered, "Are you okay?"
There was a pause.
Chuuya exhaled and nodded. Seeing that Dazai had avoided the question, he decided to come right out with it instead.
"Mackerel, you're shaking."
Dazai's grip on him tightened, only making the tremble more obvious. He probably hadn't even noticed it until Chuuya pointed it out.
"Yeah," he laughed quietly, "I guess I am."
Chuuya gritted his teeth, "It was that damn foreigner that scared you so bad, wasn't it? The second I find her I swear I'm gonna-"
"There'll be no need for that, Chuuya-kun," Dazai said calmly, pointing to the side, "She fainted over there."
"What? But then-"
"I can't believe you're so stupid," Dazai laughed again, louder, more genuine, "The 'mysterious ability' is no more. It's over. We won."
Chuuya blinked again. Then he rested his head on Dazai's shoulder as eminent relief washed pleasantly through him.
"Also," Dazai said, "I wasn't scared."
"Ehh shut up," Chuuya huffed, although his words lacked any real bite,
"No really, really! This isn't fear,honest.I'm shaking with anger. Yes, that's right, Chibi. I'm positively furious with you."
"Huh?What did I do?"
He felt Dazai's hands absent mindedly slide down his back, "Well what do you think? You used Corruption while I was miles away. No text, no call, nada."
"Seriously?" Chuuya muttered, burying his nose in his partner's collar. His eyelids felt so damn heavy. Would it really be terrible if he were to just slip off into unconsciousness right here? " Don't be an idiot, I knew you'd come."
"And what makes you say that?"
"You always do."
Dazai's hands stopped. He didn't say anything for a long time.
"But what if I didn't?"
Perplexed, Chuuya looked up.
The detective was smiling a smile that could have fooled anyone else. But Chuuya knew him too well to mistake the sentiment there for anything other than what it was.
The smile was bitter, spiteful. And Chuuya felt his annoyance at it grow just as his confusion did.
Did he miss something? Well --obviouslyhe had missed something, he had been consumed by a feral energy for the better part of the night. But he couldn't fathom what possibly could have happened to make Dazai say something so- sostupid.
Before he could piece anything together, however, his thoughts were interrupted by the distant sound of propellers slicing through the air. It scattered whatever resistance he had been building up and caused a nauseating wave of dizziness to overcome him.
Is that...a helicopter?
"I'm going to put you down now," Dazai said suddenly, "is that okay?"
"I-" Chuuya began, then nodded, "Yeah, yeah please. I don't...think I can stay up..."
Dazai carefully set him down on the grass then sat back. Chuuya briefly mourned the disappearance of his warmth before becoming preoccupied with trying not to throw up. That sound was just so-
"Special Divisions," Dazai replied somewhat sheepishly, "I called them earlier when I left the warehouse. They should be well in their right minds about now to arrest our friend Mary Shelley over there."
"Back at the warehouse...?" Chuuya said weakly, "No way. Does that mean youknewhow this would all turn out...even back then?"
Dazai laughed, "Well, not exactly."
It was a strange, cryptic thing to say. And it was what made Chuuya realize at once:
Ah, he's shutting me out.
Their partnership...it had ended, hadn't it? With the monster defeated and infatuation epidemic ended, Dazai no longer had a reason to stand by his side.
It was only a matter of time really, until Chuuya passed out and awoke just as alone as ever. The two of them having disappeared behind the border's of their respective organizations until their interests conveniently aligned once more.
This wouldn't be the first time such a situation presented itself. But...it would be the first Chuuya had to actively smother the strange feeling welling up inside of him to one of complacent resignation.
Dazai would return to the side that saved people, where he could stop crime and happily annoy the hell out of his coworkers or whatever it was that he did while being able to pretend none of this ever happened.
And Chuuya would return to the mafia, where he would quietly try to slit the throat of this new feeling before it ruined what he did have.
Dazai was carefully studying his partner's face.
"I lied. I'm actually not mad." he said abruptly when Chuuya's silence stretched out, "It's just...you really have to be more careful, Chibi. That was her plan you know, to get you to use Corruption to destroy Yokohama."
"I-" Chuuya began, shocked -- then sighed. "Well, I guess I'm a fucking idiot. It all worked out though, didn't it? I got rid of the monster, and you stopped me from becoming the monster."
"But what if I didn't?"
"Shit Dazai, I don't know. Whatifyou didn't? Why are you even asking me that?" Chuuya griped, "Do you even hear what you're saying?"
"Chuuya," Dazai said, smile gone as his tone hardened with something serious, "Listen to me. It was close. It was way too close."
Chuuya thought, his own eyes narrowing, "What...do you mean?"
"I had to make a choice," Dazai said, "and I think its only by sheer luck that I made the right one. For a moment there, I didn't think I could get to you. I...."
He swallowed, "...I thought you were going todie."
Hardly thinking, Chuuya raised his ungloved hand towards Dazai, then remembering the terms they were on curled his fingers into slight fist hovering by the mackerel's face, not touching him, but also not not touching him.
"Hey..." he said, giving him a small smile, "Hey look, I'm here, aren't I? Don't go crying about things...that haven't even happened..."
A pained look crossed Dazai's face. "I'm not scared that I wouldn't be able to save you Chuuya," he said softly, "I'm scared that I won't."
Chuuya's mouth fell back into its comfortable scowl, "Okay, you lost me again. The hell are you saying, youwantme to self destruct?"
"Of course not," Dazai said, "But..."
He tapped his head lightly,
"Sometimes...I feel like there's two people up here, you know? One that has so much to protect, who wants us all to live. But then there's also one that couldn't care less...who doesn't see the point in any of it...who only sees the logic and doesn't know what to evendowith someone with a heart as big as yours...except use them, excepthurt them"
Once again, Dazai's expression was becoming carefully guarded, tucking away yet another secret. And yet again, Chuuya saw right through it.
Because the truth was that as many times as Dazai bragged about knowing everything there was to know about Chuuya Nakahara, Chuuya knew everything thing there was to know about Osamu Dazai
"You really think that..." Chuuya said slowly, "..you're such a mysterious creature, that you're unpredictable to not just your enemies...but also...to yourself? You think you're that terrible?"
Dazai smiled sadly, "A pity, isn't it?"
Chuuya stared at him.
Dazai gave his best effort at a grin, nudging Chuuya with his elbow, "But you already knew that, didn't you? There's no one who knows me better, after all."
It was a joke. It was supposed to be a joke.
It was a stupid joke.
Chuuya didn't know whether seconds or an entire lifetime had passed before he was finally able to come up with a response.
In a slow, almost disbelieving voice he whispered:
Dazai looked like he was about to say something mocking, like their usual banter -- but then then looked away instead.
"Fuck you for that," Chuuya said, voice rising, taking that he had nearly touched Dazai with and hitting the ground with it, "Fuck you for thinking you know everything. Fuck you for telling me something as stupid as that even thoughtI always fucking trust you."
"And you know what, fuck you for thinking that's a reason to just shut me out like that. Fuck you for it always taking a goddamn crisis to tell me anything at all. But most of allfuck youfor thinking thatanyof that makes you the terrible on when that person has always beenme."
Dazai was caught off guard. His eyes widened, gaze sweeping back to the mafia executive.
"What?" he said, "What? No, you're not-"
"You're going to pretend I'm not?" Chuuya demanded, "that I'm not crass and quarrelsome and probably more trouble than I was ever worth? Iknow that,okay? I know that -- and I'm sorry."
"Come on slug, there's no need to aplogi-"
"I'msorry. Because if what you said before is true, then I'm sorry for being afucking idiot.For not only walking into a trap and bringing the enemy back to Yokohama but nearly destroying everything as well."
"It was a well thought out plan, no one is going to blame you."
"No, you don'tget it." Chuuya spat, realizing he hadn't really 'got it' either, not until just then.
"When this all started...before I knew it was an ability...I thought that maybe it wasn't too bad. Because maybe the only reason I ever did anything for the Port Mafia was because I had hoped that I was just as family to them as they were to me."
He was aware he was talking faster, voice sounding almost hysterical. But he didn't care.
"That maybe the Boss kept me around for reasons other than being a powerful weapon created in some convoluted lab. Maybe she was right, maybe Iamjust somethingdesperate for affection -- just a mistake away from burning everything down around me. MaybeI'mthe monst--mmphf!"
Dazai had slapped his hand over his partner's mouth, the look on his face both bewildered and slightly panicked.
"Chuuya, stop it." His tone was sharp, eyes glowing with an intensity that Chuuya only ever seen him use before he sent his enemies colliding with the floor.
"Did Corruption rot your brain? You are not terrible, and bygodyou arenota monster. We've been over this --years ago. Wanting to be loved -- Chibi that's the most human thing anyone could ever feel."
He removed his hand, expression softening by a fraction, "No one can ever hate you for that."
Chuuya pressed his lips together, unable to do anything about the tears welling up in his eyes.
"Then why doyou?"
Dazai flinched. His mouth opened, but no sound came out.
Chuuya then realized that had been a horribly unfair thing to say. After all, Dazai had always been under the impression that Chuuya loathed him just as much.
"Forget it," Chuuya was saying, backpedaling before this situation went sour, "Sorry - I mean -- forget I said anything I don't know why I-"
The rest of Chuuya's words died in his throat.
"Oh, don't get me wrong." Dazai said. "I still think you're the single most disagreeable person I ever met, but-"
He gently brushed the tears away from Chuuya's face, the tips of his fingers lingering by his cheek.
"But I don't hate you. I don't think I ever did." He shook his head, emotions catching in his throat, "How - how could I? How could I when you'reyou?Chuuya, you'rebeautiful."
"I..." Chuuya shook his head. These words, his touch, it was all too much. "I don't believe you."
Dazai appeared to hesitate for a long moment. Then his hand slid up, brushing back Chuuya's hair before leaning forward and pressing a light kiss to his partner's forehead.
Chuuya froze, eyes blowing wide at the sensation of cool lips against warm skin. He was suddenly senseless; the word having dipped into a realm that didn't feel quite real.
"How about," Dazai whispered by his ear, voice hoarse, "Now?"
Chuuya tried to answer, but his mind had gone blank. All those worrying and conflicting thoughts had faded into the very recess of his brain; it was like they had never been there at all.
His own mouth parted, and he fumbled around the sudden sheer amount ofpeacethat had settled around him for something to say.
Because therewassomething to say. He was sure of it. He had something very important to tell Dazai, something that he could only say in that moment. He just needed some time, just alittle bit more timeto figure out what it was-
But as chance would have it, that was when reality began to waver.
The dark cloud of unconsciousness that typically followed Corruption had begun to implode from every direction, whatever remaining energy that he had sapped from him all at once.
It was something that had happened time and time again, so there really was no reason to why he felt as panicked as he did.
He grabbed Dazai's wrist.
"Be here," he blurted out, hearing and hating the desperate edge his voice took, "Please, can you be here when I wake up?"
Dazai look startled.
He was saying something, lips moving quickly. But Chuuya didn't hear it, he could hardly feel anything at all at that point. With his vision swimming, nothing felt quite real.
He was going to say thank you. But the weariness overcame him and he wasn't sure if he only imagined himself speaking.
And even if he did, he was sure the wrong words came out.
He had whispered, "I love you"instead.
Chapter 32: Not Abandoning You
Hello hello! So you know how I said I was going to release the rest of the parts all in one go? Well, I lied :D. Not on purpose, of course. I just noticed that the time between my last update and now has grown quite wide and I didn't want to make you all wait too long.
So here's some chapters!
After this, there's two more parts left before The End~
Also, for my older readers, allow me to note that I rewrote (Not) Be(ing) Here because I wasn't too crazy about the original, so feel free to check that out too!
Ango Sakaguchi was very glad he had brought an umbrella with him.
To be honest, he couldn't say he knew exactlywhyhe had pulled it from the umbrella stand before rushing out of the Special Divisions office. At the time Dazai had called him, Ango was under some sort of spell that prevented him from thinking about anything other than Nakahara really, much less bother with checking the weather.
It must have been some sort of instinct. Because once the helicopters touched down on the field, a shower of rain had come racing down from the sky, washing away the heavy stench of blood.
Now, Ango didn't really mind getting wet. But somehow he knew that the smudge of a figure he saw in the distance -- propped up against a tree and head bowed --would.
He wasted no time heading over in that direction while the rest of his agents rushed over to where the criminal Dazai had described lay.
He snapped the umbrella open over the unconscious man, standing quietly beside him.
Ango didn't do it out of kindness. No, he simply had a healthy dosage of fear associated with this man after he had managed to lift Ango off the ground by the neck this one time. Ango figured that a gesture as small as this would spare him any further complications between them.
He watched as the figure slowly, groggily came awake. The gravity manipulator frowned at the tree he was propped up against before noticing the fresh set of bandages wrapped over his wounds and the hat that had been placed on his lap.
He picked it up, turned it over, made a scoffing sound then placed it on his head. He looked up, squinting with glassy eyes.
"No," said Ango Sakaguchi, "Ango Sakaguchi."
He watched Chuuya shift further upright, eyes rounding as the truth dawned upon him. He looked quickly out onto the field, where a babble of agents were surrounding a handcuffed Mary Shelley (looking none too pleased as she answered their questions) then back to Ango.
"Dammit," he said softly, almost in shock. Then his eyes hardened, hands clenching into fists as he hit the tree behind him, "Dammit!"
The bark splintered where he had hit it. Ango pushed his glasses up.
Chuuya rasped, "He's not here, is he?"
Ango looked out into the rain. It was remarkable how little he knew about Chuuya considering how tangled their pasts were. Even if said tanglement was mostly because of a certain mutual acquaintance, it still felt rather awkward.
"If you are talking about Dazai-kun, you are correct. He left shortly after notifying me -"
Chuuya let out a sharp laugh that sounded dangerous enough to make Ango snap his jaw close.
"I should have known," the gravity manipulator hiccupped, "I should haveknown."
Ango furrowed his brow in irritation, "Nakahara-san, if you would listen to me-"
"I'm delusional," Chuuya said, "I'm fucking delusional. What the hell made me think it'd be any different from any other time?DamnI must have really said it! Now heknows --fuck! No wonder he ran away. Even though he - even though he said he..."
Ango frowned, "Nakahara-san, we'll be getting you medical attention shortly-"
Chuuya looked down, something pained climbing into his features, "Oh who am I kidding? I probably...only imagined it. All of it. Its all just so...stupid..."
Chuuya glared at the Special Divisions officer like he had expected him to had already left hours ago. "The hell do you want, weather boy?"
"There is one reason why you are not being handcuffed alongside that foreigner over there Mr. Mafia Underboss!" Ango said, feeling his face grow red with indignance, "Dazai has sufficiently and personallyblackmailedtheentiretyof the Special Divisions for Unusual Powers!"
Ango rubbed the bridge of his nose. He cared about his old friend; he really did. But honestly, he couldn'tbelieveDazai had actually gotten him involved with whatever the hell he had going on with Chuuya Nakahara.
"After taking shots every time they thought about something remotely related to the glorious commander of gravity, " Ango explained, "Most of the Special Divisions agents are indisposed. We were too short staffed to have someone retrieve the detective agency from the ship they were locked in so Dazai decided to go there himself."
"He said something about a leg injury and not wanting you to strain it"
"And," Ango said, swiftly cutting him off, "he said to give you this."
Curiously, Chuuya took the note from Ango's hand. He tilted it back so it caught enough light to be read.
Next time you lose me, Chibi, I strongly recommendlooking up.
Not like that'sthe case here.
But I did make you a promise.
So allow me to make it up.
And just below those ridiculously cryptic words were a time and address.
Three days, Central Yokohama, Noon.
We have some things to discuss.
"That sick bastard." Chuuya said, lips slowly curling into a smirk.
And then he inexplicably started laughing.
Ango watched mortified as the laughing showed no sign of stopping. You weren't supposed tolikewhen Osamu Dazai pulled one over you. That alone was surely a side of madness!
He tried to get the executive's attention. And when that didn't work, he began fearing what Dazai might do to him if it turned out Nakahara was in fact in a state of shock and began calling for a doctor.
Concerned agents rushed all around him, asking questions and taking his temperature.
Chuuya never stopped laughing.
Chapter 33: Good Tastes and Better Tastes
Hello hello! So you know how I said I was going to release the rest of the parts all in one go? Well, I lied :D. Not on purpose, of course. I just noticed that the time between my last update and now has grown quite wide and I didn't want to make you all wait too long.
So here's some chapters!
After this, there's two more parts left before The End~
Also, for my older readers, allow me to note that I rewrote (Not) Be(ing) Here because I wasn't too crazy about the original, so feel free to check that out too!
Due to various policies and other tricky formal arrangements, Special Divisions made it quite clear that they would not be done with Chuuya Nakahara until they saw to it that he was safely escorted to a hospital.
So safely escorted to a hospital Chuuya was. There was a lot of fussing about and sympathetic talks about how to due to the intense strain, he was likely to never walk again.
Not that any of this mattered much to him. He knew very well that the second he got out of here, Mori would be able to use something from the shadier side of the medical world to fix him right up.
So, at the moment, everything was actually quite peaceful.
That was of course, until one bright morning, the doors to his hospital room were flung open so wide they nearly fell off their hinges.
At first, Chuuya thought it was a trick of the light. Because last time he checked this was not central Yokohama and the time was also not noon. But when the figure in the doorway grinned, knife sharp and taunting, there was no mistaking Osamu Dazai.
Chuuya sat up at once, elbow propped on sanitized-white pillow cushions and hospital gown moving around his small form.
"Hello Chuuya~" Dazai said.
"Security." Chuuya said.
Dazai jumped, bravado vanishing in an instant as he rushed over into the room and covered his partner's mouth.
"Hey, hey don't do that," he said, "I'm kinda-"
"Banned from here?" Chuuya said, pulling Dazai's hand off him with ease. "Yeah, Sakaguchi told me you stole an entire storage cabinet worth of antibiotics this one time."
His eyes flicked up and down over Dazai.
He looked much more put together since the last time Chuuya saw him. Clearly having found the time to take a shower, gather himself, and probably convince one of his coworkers to buy his groceries or something else of that ilk.
He poked him experimentally in the side with his free hand, "Did something for that stab wound?"
Dazai grimaced, "Yes but it hurts when you dothat."
"Good," Chuuyahmphed.Then, using the wrist he still had in his grip, yanked Dazai closer, faces inches apart as he glared at him, "What the hell, you bastard, I thought we were having a moment!"
Dazai faltered. And then slowly, unbelievably, an embarrassed little blush began to creep up his neck.
Dazai, realizing that his partner wasn't actually mad at him, brightened at once.
"We were, we were!" he said with a wave of his hand, making his way to the window and whisking open the blinds.
Bright sunlight streamed in from the glass, "Really Chibi, we were. I don't hate you one bit. In fact, you look quite adorable all hooked up to those machines and stuff."
Chuuya snorted, crossing his arms across his chest,
"You really couldn't have waited just a bit? I saw the police report, they didn't even need you. Akutagawa apparently followed Atsushi when the kid got kidnapped and freed him along with the rest of the Detective Agency."
"Ugh, I know," Dazai said, turning back around and rolling his eyes dramatically, "Makes me look stupid, doesn't it? Looks like that Mary Shelley never had any real leverage in the first place."
He smiled, "But it wasn't a complete waste though! Apparently the needed someone to also retrieve Fyodor from the restaurant basement he ended up tied up in. He's likely fuming to himself back in jail."
"Good riddance," Chuuya mumbled.
The conversation tapered off then, and a silence passed between them. Dazai, leaning against the wall and looking calmly through the window and Chuuya fiddling with a loose thread in the hospital sheets.
The executive swallowed.
I should...ask him.
He thought. Only to immediately shut that notion down. Howexactlydid one ask: "Hey, by the way, did I accidentally confess my hopeless infatuation with you that may or may have not existed for a very long time but I was just too proud to ever admit it seconds before I knocked out?"
How would Dazai even react to that? Would he laugh? Think it was some sort of joke? Hold it above Chuuya's head forever and explore a more...less child friendly version of teasing?
Or worst of all, would his face fall? With sadness or confusion...a small horrible quiet moment of silence before he let Chuuya down...?
Chuuya gritted his teeth, clenching the sheets between his fists.
I didn't mean to fall in love with you!
He looked up, only to see Dazai's profile as the breeze ruffled through his hair, eyes tracking a little red butterfly that had flittered briefly by the window.
Chuuya's fists unclenched, whole posture softening as he stared.
I really...really didn't mean...to fall in love with you...
"Oi, Chibi, I have an idea."
Chuuya jumped when Dazai finally turned his head in his direction, trying his best to make it look like he had been doing anything other than what he had been doing.
"What now?" Chuuya said, the angry bite in his voice melting away as he cautiously eyed the detective, who was approaching him with an increasingly alarming swiftness.
"I really do feel bad about leaving you all alone, you know."
Dazai smirked, leaning down. His eyes twinkled mischievously, a single finger pressing against his lip as if to signal a secret.
"How about I make it up to you," he all but whispered, "right now?"
Chuuya froze, battling a storm of heat bubbling his chest.
"What - what are you-?"
Then abruptly snapped his fingers.
The sound was so jarring that Chuuya nearly missed it when Dr. Yosano came through the door, looking only slightly irritated that Dazai had made her wait for his signal.
In one had she held her medical bag. In the other, a giant butcher's knife.
Chuuya startled, looked sharply between the grinning detective and the psychopathic physician.
His gaze landed on Dazai.
"Whatever you think Mori can do for that," Yosano said matter-of-factly, gesturing at his leg, "Probably isn't going to work. The most any doctor can do right now is ensure that you keep the limb -- but it'd probably be fucked up for the rest of your life."
Dazai was nodding vigorously, "Yes, I'd trust Yosano-kun on this one, she knows her stuff."
"I'm not going to let that woman hack me to death!" Chuuya snapped.
"I literally resuscitate you a second later." Yosano said as she rounded at his bed side.
"Stay away from me with that thing!" Chuuya said, jabbing a finger at her butcher's knife. "Shit! This is probably stupid illegal! You can't just come in here and - and-"
"Don't be such ababyMr. Port Mafia Person. Everyone at the agency has gone through my healing at least once."
"Oh shut it!" Chuuya said, having shifted himself on the bed as far as he could, "Come on! Don't act like you're not going to enjoy this -- you still have a grudge against me from our fight in the tunnels I just know it! Ah -Dazai help!"
Dazai, who was rearranging vials that he probably wasn't supposed to touch on the hospital counter, turned casually over his shoulder.
"Yosano, do you really want revenge on Chuuya?"
Yosano, who was already holding her blade above her head in preparation to strike replied just as casually, "No, what makes you say that?"
Dazai sighed, "Hm, looks like I'm going have to improvise here."
He began walking in their direction.
"Sorry Yosano," he said, snatching a bottle of something marked with a skull from her medical bag, "But Chuuya promised me revenge first."
Chuuya narrowed his eyes "Now what are you going on about-"
Dazai stopped at Chuuya's side.
"You kissed me."
Chuuya froze. Yosano made a startled sort of sound that she swiftly disguised as a cough.
"F-fuck come on Dazai" the gravity manipulator stammered, "You know I just did that to-"
"I know," Dazai chirped, "But remember? You told mesave the revenge for later. Well, its later!"
"Yeah but I didn't mean-"
And neither Dazai nor Chuuya ever found out what Chuuya didn't mean. Because in the next second Dazai had knocked back the bottle and pressed his mouth to his partner's with all the force of a truck slamming into a brick wall.
When Chuuya eventually came to minute later, he was half hysterical and panicky when Dazai was nowhere in sight.
Yosano, whowasthere and also very clearly amused, soon reassured him that Dazai had ingested so much poison over his life time that he was pretty much immune.
According to her, the bandaged suicidal man was currently back at the agency, recounting the story to Kunikida and cackling like a madman while retching into a trashcan.
"I'm going to kill him," a shell shocked Chuuya swore.
Yosano, packing away her things, merely shrugged in response.
Chuuya was cleared for discharge soon after.
Not wanting to burn any braincells trying to figure out what the fuck just happened, he decided to head back home.
To the Port Mafia.
For whatever reason, he found himself becoming antsy as he approached the swinging glass doors. Yes, he had been at the center of the conflict. But that whole ordeal had been directly because of Mary Shelley, not him.
Yet he couldn't help but feel a little...oh he didn't know. Embarrassed maybe? Some pretty weird things had gone down between him and his colleagues, this was bound to be awkward.
Scared of a little reunion, Chuuya-kun?
Chuuya smiled sheepishly at the sound of Dazai's voice in his head. If the roles had been reversed, if it were Dazai returning to the agency after having the whole city fall in love with him, he'd probably bound through the entrance with handfuls of confetti demanding they still treat him like a king.
Yeah, Chuuya wasn't about to let a hypothetical Dazai beat him.
Chuuya took a deep breath and stepped inside.
Aside from the light coming through the doorway, it was completely dark inside. Chuuya squinted, but was unable to make out a single thing. The shutters appeared to be closed, lights off.
The lobby of the ever-busy organism that was the Port Mafia building seemed to be, for once, completely still.
Well, no. Notfor once. This had happened before.
He was getting a sharp, distinct sense ofdeja 'vu.
The fluorescent lights came on with a blinding whiteflash.
Chuuya's eyes welled with tears at the sudden brightness.
The lobby was filled with Port Mafia members. Including a quietly coughing Akutagawa, a smiling Higuchi, a waving Black Lizard, Koyo, Kajii,and was that Q?
At the center, of it all there was a table that had most definitely not been there before. On top it was a spread of various foods and pastries.
And above that, a banner with that same bubbly lettering that Chuuya had become all too familiar with:
And in slightly smaller font below it:
EVERYONE LOVES YOU!
Chuuya scrambled back, hands held out defensively in front of him.
"Ohhellno!" he cried, "I thought you guys were back to normal!"
"Back to normal?" a smooth voice echoed.
Mori was at the table, cutting a slice of orange cake for Elise, who was hopping up and down with excitement. "Of course we're back to normal."
Mori handed the little girl the plate, tucked his hands in his coat, then walked over to Chuuya. He looked down at him carefully with those formidable red eyes of his. They did seem...clear enough.
He sighed, sounding terrible tired, "Chuuya-kun, do you mind kindly restoring me as Boss of the Port Mafia?"
"Y-yeah," Chuuya said, heartbeat slowly evening out.
Now that he paid closer attention, he could tell that everyone's gaze wasn't stuck to him the way it used to be. Q was showing Elise a cherry, Higuchi kept on shooting Akutagawa furtive looks -- and Hirotsu and Gin were fussing over the bandage looped around Tachihara's head.
"Of course," Chuuya said, "Right away. You're the boss, Boss."
Mori grinned, clapping his hands together, "Excellent! Now we may resume!"
He gave a thumbs up to Kajii who excitedly fired up the loud speakers.
"Wait, waithold it," Chuuya exclaimed, starting forward. Kaji turned off the speakers with a look more befitting of a wounded puppy.
"If you're all back to normal, then what's - why is -this?"
Chuuya was gesturing widely, almost frantically, around the room.
Koyo snickered into her sleeved just as Gin approached him and placed a party hat ontop his regular hat.
Mori tilted his head, eyebrow creasing, "Whatever do you mean?"
"The decorations," Chuuya said, "The banner, the food,why...?"
The Port Mafia exchanged glances, then started laughing.
"Two reasons," Mori said, voice filled with amusement. He held up a finger, "One -- we never did properly welcome you back from your mission overseas. Though, ah, according to the police report it was a scam..."
"Yeah itwas," Chuuya said, still trying to scope out something suspicious, looking for the trick, "That means there wasn't any money. The whole thing was completely catastrophic! I nearly decimated Yokohama!"
"Oh no no no, I wouldn't saycompletely." Mori said, holding up another finger, "That brings me to my second reason. Master Natsume contacted me about being so very impressed that a member of the Port Mafia had the initiative to save the city and donated tones of cash!"
"Isn't it wonderful?" Koyo said, "You've done us all very proud."
It was then that Chuuya noticed how everyone seemed to be looking at him warmly. Not the gape-mouthed obsessive warmth that they had been filled with before. But something fiercer - worthy of the most dangerous organization in Yokohama.
Chuuya blushed, scratching the back of his neck, "Well...Dazai helped..."
"Hm? Dazai?" Mori said. He waved his hand dismissively, "Oh right. Eh. Don't be silly Chuuya, this party is foryou. And - oh no Elise don't touch that!"
And with that, Mori hurried off to stop Elise from downing a bottle of alcohol.
Chuuya was so absorbed in watching him walk off, thinking of just how much better life was when you were on Mori's side, that it caught him off guard when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
He turned to see Higuchi and the Black Lizard, Akutagawa hanging back just behind them.
They all, except for the mad dog, dropped into steep bows.
"We just wanted to say that we're really,reallysorry!" Higuchi exclaimed.
"Oh..." Chuuya said, memories of every interaction he had with the ability influenced group flashing over his mind, "It's okay you guys. Jeez...you can stand up, you're embarrassing me."
They did, although they were the ones who looked far more embarrassed. Higuchi pressed the heels of her palms against her face, "No, it's not okay. We set you up withFyodor."
"Oh," Chuuya said, "Yeah, that's true you did do that. But honestly, it's fine. You were just under the ability so don't-"
"And apologies for the statue. We had it melted back down to make bullets." Hirotsu added solemnly.
"It's -- wait there was a statue?"
Tachihara smiled nervously, "And sorry for scaring you back there."
"S'fine, really" Chuuya patted his back fondly, " Sorry you tried to claw your brain out."
And most of all,wrote Gin,Sorry for all the stuff we said about...you know...you and Dazai...
Chuuya pressed his lips together, hoping that nothing too incriminating was working its way across his face.
"Er, yes." he eventually said, "Yes that was really odd. Dunno why'd you all ever say anything...likethat."
"Wait, we're sorry about that?" Hirotsu said, genuinely confused, "Didn't those two kiss in the warehouse?"
"Theywhat?" Tachihara gasped.
Chuuya covered his face, "It-!Well you were going to - I had to dosomething!"
"I'd ship it." Higuchi deadpanned.
"If you don't shut up I'm going to tell Dazai about this and then you're going to have to deal withthatman's particular brand of wrath."
Looking smug, Gin flipped her notecard around,When's the next time you're seeing him?
"Er...well...he had given me a time and place for tomorrow. But I don't know if-"
"A date!" Tachihara said, sounding more excited than he really had any right to, "Oh we gotta help you get prepared!"
And with that, the group dissolved into a conversation that was quickly evolving into an impromptu fanfic as they wandered towards the refreshment table.
When they had left, Akutagawa finally stepped forward.
He was being even more silent than usual.
"It's fine Akutagawa-" Chuuya began, but the mafioso cut him off.
"Tell Dazai-san I apologize for trying to kill him. Twice."
Right, of course.
"Sure thing, kid." Chuuya said, "I will."
He was just beginning to walk away when Akutagawa stopped him.
"And um," these next words seemed to be causing Akutagawa a great deal of distress, "Can you...ask him to pass a message along? To Jinko?"
Chuuya blinked, "Hm? Yeah, what is it?"
Akutagawa fiddled with his sleeves, "I...I still hate him."
Chuuya stared at his subordinate, having a sudden moment of clarity. That face, those words....that was how he looked like half of the time, wasn't it?
He patted him on the back, "So Atsushi, huh? He's a good kid, I approve."
Akutagawa straightened, a look of horror passing his face, "Wait, what?"
Ah, to be young.
Mori was standing by the table, gesturing for him to come.
Chuuya did. Before he could ask what this was about, Mori placed a large wine glass in his hand and filled it to the brim with the Romanee-Conti that he never actually got to have.
"Alright everyone!" The Boss of the Port Mafia said, "A toast!"
The mafia raised their glasses. Even Q and Elise, whose cups were filled with apple juice.
"To the strength and vitality of the Port Mafia!" Mori declared.
"To the Port Mafia!" came the enthusiastic echo.
"And-" Mori said, smiling at his executive, "To Chuuya!"
Chuuya blushed, the rest of them lifting their glasses and laughing in turn.
Chuuya looked around the room, chuckled, and raised the glass to his lips.
"To me," he said, and took a sip.
It was the best he had ever tasted.
Chapter 34: Meanwhile, Dazai
2 Days Later...
In case anyone was wondering -- Osamu Dazai was still not in love with Chuuya Nakahara.
At least, that was what he kept telling himself.
Out loud, as he sped ran his morning routine, stopped a bank robbery on his way to work, and even as he tried to get some random pedestrian to commit double suicide with him.
I am not in love with Chuuya Nakahara, I am not in love with Chuuya Nakahara, I'm not- dammit!
The problem with trying to manifest how very not-in-love he was through the sheer power of spoken word, however, was that it ended up backfiring splendidly.
Because just the sound ofthat namebetween his lips sent something giddy, warm, and entirelyunignorablethroughout his entire body.
The second Dazai arrived at the agency, he walked straight to his desk and buried himself in an obscene amount of paperwork -- to the complete horror of his associates who had already prepared for him the couch he usually dozed off on.
Seeing Dazai being an actual productive member of society was in fact so horrifying that when Kunikida came in that morning, he dropped his coffee, nearly fainted, and demanded to know what other signs of Armageddon had been showing up and why he hadn't been alerted sooner.
"I don't think it's anything like that, Kunikida-san..." Atsushi sighed as he mopped up the spill.
"I agree," Ranpo added around a mouthful of potato chips, "He just seems a little out of it."
"But from what?" Kunikida, who was still looking pale, said, "What could have possibly upset Dazai-kun so much?"
All heads turned in the direction of the bandaged detective.
The already frightening scene was only made more frightening when it became obvious that Dazai hadn't noticed their conversation at all.
He was lost completely in his own thoughts.
I don't hate you.
Yes. He had said those words. Because those were the words Chuuya needed to hear. And the thing was, Dazai had meant them. He had really meant them.
But that was it, that was supposed to beit.
He only meant to poke a little crack in the wall around his heart. But clearly the wall around his heart was very poorly constructed because it was like the whole damn thing was about to come crashing down.
Being in love would only make the already confusing nature of like even more confusing. And being in love withthat man?Well it was - itcouldn't be.
He had his fun. Solving a mystery and bringing hell down on the enemy like the two of them used to in the past.
But that was over now.
Chuuya didn't need him anymore.
So Dazai shouldn't want him to.
"I'm not in love with Chuuya," Dazai muttered his breath as he placed another file on the stack, "I'm not."
But as if he had learned nothing at all -- sure enough -- that name sent a rush of something sharp and breathless through him.
He tried to counter it by summoning up the little things he didn't like about that slug in the first place. But that horrible smirk seemed so charming now, and that fiery impulsiveness rather endearing.
Honestly, this lack of self-control was starting to get concerning.
Exhibit A: that little hospital schmick.
Which was really just a lack of foresight really. All he had wanted to do was make that angry look on the Chibi melt into shock.
Only, he had forgotten to take into account what a nice mouth the man had so it was really his own fault that he had gotten so flustered that he had to ask Yosano to cover for him before jumping out a nearby window and locking himself in his room for the rest of the afternoon.
"I'm not, and never have been, in love with Chuuya Nakahara."
He whispered to himself again, more firmly.
But just as before, those words seemed to ring hallow.
Which was probably in no short part due to the fact that he was now somewhat inclined to suspect that maybe - justmaybe -Chuuya Nakahara was in love withhim.
Dazai dropped the papers.
They fell messily onto the ground, tossed around by the air condition that was working on overtime to keep out the sticky summer heat.
Without missing a beat, Kenji began to merrily gather them off the floor.
It appeared that while Dazai had been absorbed in his thoughts, the rest of the Armed Detective Agency had returned to the natural ebb and flow of work around him.
Someone had even placed a cup of his favorite tea on his desk with those bendy straws that he liked.
Kenji handed the papers to Tanizaki, who let out a mighty sigh as he stapled them together, "I don't get whywehave to do this. The Port Mafia waswaymore involved with what happened."
While it was true that anyone who hadn't known Chuuya prior to the incident had lost their memory of it, there was still a lot of general chaos that had to be fixed. A job that somehow got shifted onto the Armed Detective Agency.
"Well," Ranpo hummed as he looked up from his snacks, "Despite how sweet they are, the Port Mafia is still amafiaand doesn't actually care about public safety so..."
He paused. He was wearing his glasses when he lifted his head, gaze coincidentally landing on Dazai.
His green eyes widened slightly as Super Deduction immediately identified what was going on in the other detective's brain.
Dazai narrowed his eyes, sending him a glare so sharp that Ranpo looked up and began whistling to disguise a grin.
He was definitely going to be blackmailing Dazai for soda later.
Dazai's hand twitched for the laptop, intending to shoot the guy an email about he knew Ranpo was just as bad as he was with a certain novelist.
But before he could, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Dazai glanced to the side to see Kunikida of all people looking at him with concern.
"Er, Dazai." He said, "Is there anything I can...I mean, you seem on edge..."
Any other time, Dazai would have teased him for this show of basic human decency. But his gaze had landed on the clock just behind the blonde man. The hour hand ticked to another dash and Dazai jerked to his feet.
It was so sudden that Kunikida flinched back, giving Dazai a clear beeline to the door.
Kunikida's gaze hardened, "Wha-hey! You damn waste of bandages, where do you think you're going?"
"For a walk!" Dazai called back, taking his coat of the hanger and throwing it on.
"Wait, Dazai-san, the mission report-" Tanizaki began.
"It's on my desk."
"The damages-" Yosano started.
"Paid for!" Dazai chimed before disappearing through the door with a flourishy soundingthump.
He began hurrying down the hall, floor seeming to tilt underneath him as his heart thumped wildly in his chest. His legs pushed him forward, but it felt like he was going to fall any minute with the sweat trickling just past his temple.
Those three words.
He had probably only imagined them. Because there was no way the ever prideful, grumbling, hot headed Chuuya would ever something likethat.Not tohim.
If it were true, Dazai would have noticed much sooner. It wouldn't take until being told. So it couldn't be true. He had to be imagining things. There was nothing logical about this -- nothing that would suggest --
But could the memory of something that was only fake really make his heart flutter the way it did now? Or make his face redden with such a furious blush?
Becausewhat if? What if -?
If Chuuya didn't hate him too, then maybe -- maybe it wouldn't be so wrong to feel like this.
He had made it halfway down the hall before he heard the sound of hurried footsteps behind him.
Before he could even fully register them, hands seized the side of his arms and whirled him around.
Dazai released a breath he didn't even realize he was holding. He took another. And another. His shaking hands stilled.
He let a lopsided smile curl up his flushed face. "Ah, hello Atsushi-kun. Thank you, I think I needed that."
The seriousness in Atsushi's face lifted immediately, suddenly looking embarrassed.
"Um," he said releasing Dazai. He cast a furtive glance to the side before taking a step closer, "Er...are you...meeting withhimnow?"
Dazai blinked once, surprised his subordinate found out, then smiled as widely as ever.
"Maybe. If he decides to come. I may have played a little joke on him yesterday so there's a chance he might be too mad to bother."
Atsushi bobbed his head. Then, with the same amount of grave as a fumbling kitten, pulled something from his pocket, and thrust it out to Dazai.
It was a brilliant red rose.
"Aw, Atsushi~" Dazai began, touched, "Is this the second time you've brought me flowers? You shouldn't h-"
"It's not for you." Atsushi cut in quickly, then blushed at his own bluntness.
Dazai creased his brow, "...Akutagawa?"
"Aku-what? no. I mean, thisisfor you. It's..." he gathered himself, "It's for you to give to Nakahara-san."
Dazai blinked. He blinked again.
"I-I don't mean to meddle but when Akutagawa and I were on the bridge we noticed - I mean I noticed - and I thought maybe..."
"Atsushi," Dazai said very carefully, "Do you have feelings for my ex-partner?"
Atsushi jumped, looking scandalized, "No!Of course not I-"
Dazai's expression went stone cold, "Are you saying he's not good enough?"
"No! Dazai-no!That's not -this isn't about me!It's foryou.It's a rose from you to him!"
He took Dazai's hand and placed the flower in it, "I...I don't know everything about the two of you. But...I think I know you well enough to know what makes you happy and he..."
Atsushi was searching for words again, suddenly shy. He looked back up, determination flashing over his face, "I think you should go for it."
Wordlessly, Dazai held the rose up, examining every little dip of the petals and flush of color. It had a deep hue, like the color of wine. The promise it held was a fantasy.
"...thank you, Atsushi." Dazai finally said, gaze galling back on the boy, "I really mean it."
Atsushi smiled, "Good luck, Dazai-san."
Dazai returned the smile, ruffling the boy's hair before turning and setting off once more.
Aside from the heat, it was a pretty nice day.
The sky was a bright clear blue and the birds chirped pleasantly from above. The square Dazai happened into was no different. Giggling children were playing tag among the shops, people chatting amicably as they walked.
If Oda was ever right about one thing, it would be this. Life really was more beautiful on the side that saved people.
Dazai accepted a pink little booklet some vendor waved in his face and decided to lazily skin through it as he sat ontop the edge of a marble fountain appreciating the cool spray of water as he waited.
He was dimly aware that the booklet was about some guy named "Yozo" and being "disqualified as a human being" and how silly it was that the poor dude wasn't doing anything to better his own circumstances.
Yet nonetheless, he had become absorbed enough that it caught him off guard when he heard a voice above him.
The detective looked up sharply.
Sure enough, arms folded and looking exceptionally annoyed even though there didn't seem anything to be annoyed with, stood Chuuya.
Very quickly, Dazai took in the seemingly perpetual angry expression scrawled on the gravity-manipulator's face and the intense aura flaring around him.
Definitely not in love with me.
"Chuuya-kun~" Dazai called happily, closing his book, "What a delight, I wasn't sure if you'd actually come!"
Chuuya's frown deepened as he glanced around.
"Shouldn't we be somewhere more...discreet?"
There was indeed something of a crowd in the square, although they all seemed busy with their own stuff.
"Whatever do you mean?" Dazai asked innocently, crossing his legs as Chuuya sat down next to him.
"Well, I don't know," Chuuya huffed, making a vague, half-hearted gesture with his hand, "If literally anyone sees us, they're gonna start suspecting things."
Dazai's stomach did a little flippy thing.
"...what sort of things?"
Chuuya shrugged a shoulder, a simple rise and fall.
"Dunno. Like the agency and mafia are workin' together or soemthing."
"Or," Chuuya continued. "If someone from the agency or mafia sees us -- they're gonna assume you're up to something and not stop hounding me about what it is."
He snorted, a little smirk playing on his lips, "Ha,as if I'd ever keep your secrets."
And definitelynot in love with him.
Dazai thought, slightly miffed.
But then Chuuya absentmindedly squinted up at the sun, took off his hat, and ran a gloved hand through his hair -- and suddenly Dazai wasn't so sure anymore.
A silence passed, neither making an attempt to break it.
It only made sense, after all. When Dazai first came up with this meeting, there hadn't been an actualpointto it. He had just wanted to make sure Chuuya knew he wasn't abandoning him. That he was never going to abandon him ever again.
He supposed he could have called it off at the hospital -- after that fact was established. Spare them of this awkwardness.
But then again, he didn't really want to.
Chuuya cleared his throat, "Uh...I've been meaning to ask you something."
"Yes?" Dazai said just a little too quickly.
"So, uh, yeah." the mafia executive scratched the back of his neck, suddenly looking a bit embarrassed for whatever reason, "What was that whole 'don't trust me' thing about?"
"Ah," Dazai swallowed, "That."
Where to even start? He hardly understood it himself. But he owed the Chibi an explanation...
"You gonna tell me? Or do I have to beat it out of you?"
"You're so mean, Chuuya," Dazai sighed. Then more carefully added, "Well...it's a bit of a long story if I'm being honest..."
"Hm," Chuuya said. Dazai waited for him to start demanding, already having a sharp comeback on his own tongue.
But Chuuya only continued to watch the crowd, voice somewhat distant, "Fine, alright then."
Somewhere in the distance, a steamboat went off. Sunlight glittered preciously over the fountain water and a bird whistled just above them.
It reallywasa nice day.
Chuuya's phone began to ring. He glanced briefly at the device then turned it off. He hesitated, about to say something, then didn't.
He must have realized as much as Dazai did that there really was no reason for them to be here. And if he said something, he'd risk breaking the spell of civility.
Which was a shame, because Dazai sort of wanted to hear him speak.
The detective gave it a few more minutes, then stood.
Chuuya's head snapped up sharply, a look of alarm flashing over his features.
Dazai said, "Walk with me."
At the realization that Dazai wasn't leaving, Chuuya relaxed. He didn't ask any questions. He simply got up, tucked his hands into his pockets, and trailed after the man who used to be his partner.
It wasn't until they make it some way through the city did Dazai risk a glance in his direction.
The gravity manipulator appeared impassive, expression contemplative as his sight remained focused on an imaginary point in the distance.
But then again, maybe it wasn't. Maybe Chuuya never let Dazai stare at him this long without snapping at him before.
Maybe it had even come about around the same time Dazai left. Dazai never did get to see when exactly the fiery delinquent he knew as a boy grow into the slightly more composed executive he was now.
They passed under a bridge. Chuuya's gaze flicked to Dazai, and their eyes connected briefly before they both automatically looked the other way.
An emotion began stirring within Dazai, one that made his jaw feel weirdly stiff and breathing come in just a little shallow. It took some time before he found the right words.
I miss him.
Maybe once upon a time, Dazai would have marveled at the thought. How could you miss someone you were currently standing beside? It didn't make any sense.
But right now, he simply accepted the feeling for what it was.
I really miss him.
Dazai let out a short exhale, "Yes?"
Still not looking at him, Chuuya mumbled, "Where are we going?"
"Hm," Dazai said, tilting his head back and squinting at the clouds, "I don't know. Anywhere you want."
Chuuya's breath hitched a little.
"Yeah," he said, "Yeah, that sounds good."
And Dazai didn't know when Chuuya's hands came out of his pockets. He flinched only slightly when fabric brushed against his knuckle. As discreetly as possible, he began to pull away.
Because there were times to tease Chuuya, and there were also times to not tease Chuuya. Because doing what he wanted to do now was most certainly to tease Chuuya and not because he-
Chuuya grabbed his hand.
Dazai nearly tripped face first into the floor.
Chuuya jumped, clearly just as startled by his own actions, "Ah,shit. Sorry I-I don't know why I-"
His face was scarlet, eyes unable to meet Dazai's, "I...L-look. Lately I've been -- Well the truth is I-!"
Just then, something caught Dazai's eye. A flash of something sparkling in the light before vanishing into an alleyway.
Dazai felt his expression harden, the gears in his mind already whirling.
Chuuya's mouth's snapped closed. Expression stuck somewhere between agonized and perplexed.
"I'll be back in three minutes sharp." Dazai said.
And with that he walked past him - leaving the poor gravity manipulator to stand there bewildered as his partner vanished down the street.
Chapter 35: Together
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
There was a peculiar chill settled over the alleyway Dazai slipped into, a single shaft of sunlight filtering onto the pavement and highlighting the flecks of dust dancing in the air.
"Oh, woe is me!" Dazai sighed dramatically as he strode forward, pressing the back of his hand to his forehead, "Defenseless and alone is such a dark, narrow alleyway! I sure hope nothing bad happens!"
He came to a stop, eyes dancing over the seemingly empty stretch of concrete before him.
He chuckled darkly, "I must admit, it's no easy feat escaping from Special Divisions -- how did you do it?"
Not a heartbeat later, Mary Shelley was suddenly next to him, facing the opposite direction. Her shoulders faintly brushed his, lips at his ear.
"Wouldn't you like to know," she said, voice eerily soft.
"Oho, sneaky!" Dazai said merrily, "I like that! Hey, would a lady as lovely as yourself perhaps be interested in committing a double suicide with me...?"
Mary Shelley frowned, eyebrows clinching, "I thought you didn't like me."
Dazai's smile thinned, "I don't"
He could still vividly remember the state Chuuya had been in because of her. It wasn't something he could easily forgive.
"Alright, alright. Chit-chat's over." His glittering brown eyes slid in her direction, tone soaked with venom, "Why were you following us?"
Mary Shelley snorted, "Why do you think?"
"You're a desperate fujoshi who reads too much into subtext?"
He still couldn't see the foreigner's face, but he could sense the anger now radiating from her form. He felt the muzzle of a gun press into his gut.
"Whoa, whoa,whoa!" Dazai yelped, dark expression suddenly replaced with something very animated, "I just want to talk! No need to get so violent!"
As he said this, he reached into the waistband of his coat and drew the pistol he had never returned to Higuchi. He twirled it between his fingers and pushed it into her stomach.
To anyone who passed by, it would look like the two of them were enveloped in a very awkward hug.
"Just want to talk, huh?" Mary Shelley muttered dully, then in a slightly more aghast tone added, "What type of sicko brings a literal firearm on a goddamn date?"
Dazai's eyes widened slightly. He shook himself, forcing a laugh between his teeth, "Oh my bad. I guess you weren't following us. Seeing thatthat manand I were not on anything resembling what you just said."
"Oh right, I shouldn't have asked," Mary Shelley said, rolling her eyes, "Clearly it's the same type of sicko that disappears into the darkest corner of the city when he's about to be confessed to."
Dazai suddenly felt hot, the hand holding his gun sweaty. He cleared his throat, "Aha, see? Wrong again."
He pressed the gun a little harder, "Besides, if I hadn't come here, you would have been putting a bullet through the poor guy's unbelievably dense brain, am I right?"
Mary Sheley finally turned her head, a faint smile playing on her lips, "Mission's a bust. Thought I'd be entitled to some petty revenge."
"I'm almost jealous," Dazai said, "I thoughtIwas the one who held you against your will to face death itself."
"You were," Mary replied casually, as if they were discussing which sauce went better with salmon,
"That's exactly why it would have been so fucking funny for that red headed disaster over there to spill his guts out and then proceed to literally spill his guts out."
"I'm afraid," Dazai said thickly, "I don't get the punchline."
Mary Shelley squinted at him, thinking on something, then sighed irritably, "You know, because you're in lov-"
"ANYWAYS"Dazai said before any other implications could send him back to the nervous wreck of a man he had been that morning. "How about the two of us make a little deal?"
Mary Shelley paused. She clearly hadn't expected this.
"What type of deal?"
"I have some questions. You answer them, and I don't tattle."
The foreigner laughed, eyebrows shooting up to her hairline, "You'd let a homicidal individual go? Just like that?"
Dazai grinned slyly, "Does it really seem like I care, my dear?"
Mary considered for another second.
"One," Dazai agreed.
Both guns clattered onto the pavement.
Dazai took a broad step back, expression now serious.
"How was it that the mind controllers were able to affect me?"
By all merits of logic, No Longer Human should have made thatimpossible. That was why it had taken so long for Dazai to realize what was going on with him.
Even after he had warned Chuuya not to fully trust him, he himself had suspected that he was only being paranoid.
Mary Shelley's frowned, "Why do you ask questions you already know the answer to?"
"Well," the detective said, "I want to hear it from you."
Mary Shelley's frown deepened, but she answered anyways, "You have the ability No Longer Human. An ability that cancels out other abilities. It's quite powerful, but virtually useless against other forms of attack..."
"Yes, yes. I know. It's my ability after all. Get on with it."
Mary Shelley growled.
"...the mind controllers weren't an ability."
Dazai beamed, "Ah! I knew it! Those little organisms, they were created in a lab. Made to respond to the waves given by your transmitter, yes? You unleashed them into Yokohama's water supply while Chuuya was away in the States."
He tapped his chin thoughtfully, looking up, "On a Sunday, I think. A sunny one like today -- since that's your boss' favorite day of the week."
Mary Shelley stared at him, then looked away sharply making astsksound.
"I heard your deductive abilities were to be reckoned with, " she spat, "But this isinsane. I should have exterminated you from the very beginning."
"Yep~" Dazai agreed amicably, "Though in all fairness, I'm just as surprised! I had no idea that my mental fortitude alone was enough to cancel out majority of the effects --"
Mary Shelley guffawed.
Dazai peered at her, smile becoming confused, "Hm? What was that?"
Mary Shelley smirked, delight dancing over her features, "is thatreallywhat you think happened?"
Dazai's mouth fell into a subtle frown. Yes actually. That was exactly what he had thought happened.
Mary put her hands on her hips, looking in a much better mood, "The bug in your head, Mr. OsamuI'm-so-smart-it-can-be-used-as-a-deus-ex-machinaDazai, affect you as much as it did anyone."
"No..." Dazai said slowly, "...no it didn't."
"Except it did. You're not special."
The detective felt himself becoming slightly nauseous, "Explain."
"Gladly," Mary Shelley chirped, "There were three parts to the mind control's dogma. The first, I can make everyone see what I want them to see."
"Right," Dazai said, "That's why Atsushi-kun thought you vanished into thin air at the prison, and why Akutagawa didn't remember you at all. But...but that has nothing to do with me-
"Of course, but I'm disclosing everything now soshut up and let me confess," Mary Shelley snapped, "The second part was the hivemind. Everyone under the bug's influence was linked. They were able to know what the others were doing and where they were doing it at all times."
"That's how everyone was able to track Chuuya," Dazai said, "But still that doesn't-"
"Youdidn't realize you were connected to the hivemind. Not at first anyways. That's because a lot of the information being sent to you already aligned perfectly with your own predictions about what would happen next."
...does make sense.
Only once the situation began spiraling out of control did Dazai notice that he knew things he really shouldn't.
"But...the third part. You said there were three, right?" Dazai said, the words coming out of his mouth before even he fully understood their implications, "The part that made everyone go insane over Chuuya-kun...what about that...?"
"Hm, well." Mary Shelley said, tilting her head back, "Love isn't easy to explain, is it? It can't be quantified."
She took a step closer, "But for our sake, let's pretend."
She began to draw in the air with her finger, detailing little invisible charts with an almost scientific prudeness.
"Let's say...that everyone loves Chuuya a certain amount. They're all at different levels. We've got level twenties and thirties from, say, the mafia. Level fours and fives from the agency. Level twos from like, random pedestrians. Probably negative numbers with the government. You get my point"
She took another step closer, "But when they all got hit with the mind control, out of the blue like that, everyone's level got boosted up to the same insanely high number. It's like falling in love for the first time. The sudden butterflies, the need to doanythingtoplease your person of interest. Becausewhen you're hit with a sudden, sickening wave of infatuation like that..."
She made a twirling motion at the side of her head, "--wellobviouslyyou go a little crazy."
And just like that, Dazai knew the answer. He took a step forward. He wasn't sure what he was going to do, but he had to stop her. Had to stop those words from being said out loud, from becomingreal.
Seeing the obvious distress overcoming him, Mary grinned, "But hey. Say there's someone out there whoalreadyloves Chuuya that much. Their personality wouldn't change at all,now wouldn't it?"
Dazai stopped short.
There was a long, long silence.
"Is it really..." Dazai said meekly, eyes focused on something only he could see, "...that bad?"
"Itoldyou that I knew all about you, Osamu Dazai," Mary Shelley giggled, "I knew how much he means to you. That's why I figured you'd be unaffected and put together and ultimatum. Not that it worked...damn eyebrowless kid."
"But..." Dazai staggered back, "But how?When?"
"Uhhh," Mary Shelley said, "Dunno. According to the file I got on you I think it was like...age eighteen or something. I thought it was kind of funny until I realized he fell hard for you too so now it's just sad."
"Hedidn't." Dazai snapped sharply before she had even quite finished speaking, "Don't mess with my head like that. He's - he'snot.He can't be. Hehates me."
"...right." Mary Shalley arched a single brown eyebrow, "Yeah, so. No part of our deal involved me helping you work through your feelings so like...can I go?"
"This was a mistake," Dazai rattled on, "I should never have told him to meet me here."
Now that it had been spelled out for him, he couldn't escape it. Not even his pride was enough to keep this feeling at bay.
There was no stopping the crushing tidal wave ofwantthat viciously pulled him under every time he thought about his ex-partner. Because the truth was, all Dazai ever wanted to do was touch him. Stand next to him. Bicker over the most stupid of things for the rest of eternity...
"I shouldn't have tried to get any closer to him," Dazai stammered out, "I-I should've known. If he ever finds out, he'll kill me. He'll definitely kill me. Or..."
That nauseous feeling bubbled back to the front of Dazai's chest, "I don't think...I mean I didn't think I was even capable of this- thisfeeling. I don't know what todowith it. What if I..."
He didn't finish the thought, but it was understood.
What if I hurt him?
Mary watched this all with a carefully guarded expression. She sighed, long and dramatic. Then she shot Dazai a look smoldering with annoyance and caged fury, "Thatbitchripped my ability in half with his bare hands, what in the seven hells makes you think youcanhurt him?"
It was like a bucket of cold water had just been splashed over him Chuuya Nakahara. The person who had pulled his heart right out of his chest wasChuuya Nakahara. Fierce, angry, and able to overcome whatever he faced with a no-nonsense attitude and bloody smirk.
If Dazai ever said something, everdidsomething too horribly messed up...
...Chuuya would just punch him in the face...wouldn't he?
Mary scoffed, suddenly very interested on a spot on the wall.
"You know..." she mumbled, "If you ask me...the worst thing you could probably ever do to him...is leave him again..."
A gentle breeze picked up, clouds drifting over the sun, bathing the alleyway in a gentle coolness. A bird chirped from somewhere up ahead, then set off from whatever telephone wire it had been perched upon. A single feather spiraled down and landed in a puddle by Dazai's feet.
"...hey." Dazai said, coming out of his daze. He slowly lifted his head. Then he smiled coyly, something new burning in his eyes, "Hey, don't call my partner a bitch."
Mary shot him an indignant look, clearly annoyed that her spared sympathy was overlooked.
She looked like she was about to bit out something irritable, but then her eyes suddenly lit up, grin splitting her face.
"Actually, I can do whatever I want, because guess what just recharged!"
She whirled to him, pointing a hand right between his eyes, "Frankenstei-"
An arm hooked around Dazai's waist, roughly sweeping him to the side, and another snapped out to catch the foreigner's wrist.
"Seriously, Dazai?!"a voice demanded right into his ear, "You were just gonna stand there? Aren'tyouthe one with nullification?"
Dazai blinked, taking a moment to process what just happened. Then he sighed, letting himself hang limply in Chuuya's grip, "You find out that someone has been stalking us and trying to kill us and you're yelling atme?"
Mary Shelley narrowed her eyes and whipped out her other hand. Chuuya let go of Dazai and caught it with a grunt.
"Okay,okay!" Dazai said, straightening up and walking over to rest a hand on Mary Shelley's shoulder.No Longer Humanimmediately silenced whatever energy she had been building up.
She shot Dazai her most withering glare. Dazai returned it with a private smirk.
Chuuya release her and turned to the mouth of the alley, cupping a gloved hand over his mouth, "Oi!"
A babble of police officers stepped warily into the alleyway. Chuuya jerked his thumb over his shoulder, "See? Lady's over there. Told ya I wasn't leading you into an ambush."
The officers exchanged glances.
"Oh those sons of-" Chuuya began under his breath.
"He's with me!" Dazai shouted back before his partner could finish.
Seeing the detective there, the officers were then convinced of the legitimacy of the situation and entered, wasting no time cuffing Mary Shelley and leading her away.
"H-hey! This wasn't the deal!" she protested.
"Nor was trying to attack me with your monster, " Dazai said with a cheery wave, "Bye bye now. Best regards to your boss."
"Ugh please," Mary Shelley grumbled, "That was a one time thing. Hell if I ever see that bastard Krysing again..."
Once she and the police were gone, like forever because she was an OC the author created for conflict and you will never see her again, Chuuya let out a sigh and leaned heavily against the wall.
"Damn you, Dazai," he muttered in that rough, gravelly voice of his as he massaged the bridge of his nose, "'See you in three minutes sharp' -- I never thought I'd hear you speak those words to me ever again."
"And just as always," Dazai said, poking Chuuya's hat, which had fallen lopsided in all the earlier confusion, "You're late."
"Yeah well-!" Chuuya began indignantly, "It's been too long, okay? It took me forever to realize you were speaking in code. And then it took me another forever to convince the police that a mafia executive was actually trying to help them out."
"Mm," Dazai said. "Right."
"Why you..." Chuuya growled.
He had clearly mistaken whatever was going on with Dazai for mocking disbelief.
Which wasn't true, actually. No, Dazai was being sparse with his words because he was currently doing his best to remain calm. But after making some...revelations about himself...it was impossible to ignore how wildly his heart had begun to beat now that he was looking at his partner,reallylooking at him.
That was when something occurred to the detective.
Chuuya quirked an eyebrow to indicate he was listening.
"...how much of that did you hear?"
Chuuya tilted his head, "Huh?"
"My conversation with our dear mutual acquaintance back there," Dazai said carefully, "You didn't...did you...?"
Chuuya looked at him blankly. "I have no idea what you're talking about," he said, "But nah. I just got here."
He pushed himself off the wall, eyes running over the detective. He let out a breath, looping his thumbs around his pockets. "So, um..."
He scratched the back of his neck, "I was wondering...did you maybe want to...do something? I mean uh -- to celebrate, yeah? We could go for drinks, or coffee, or whatever you want just anything to-"
Dazai grabbed Chuuya's shoulders, causing the other man to jump.
"First, there's something I need to tell you."
Chuuya looked as if he had just seen his whole life flash before his eyes, "O-okay?"
Dazai summoned his courage, "You wanted to know about the whole 'don't trust me' thing, yes? Here's what's going to happen. I'm going to tell you, and this,us, won't be the same. But I am still going to tell you. Ihaveto tell you, or both of us might go insane. See, the ability, it wasn't really-"
"Uh," the mafia executive said, somewhat sheepishly, "One...second..."
He took a step back out of Dazai's grasp and dug his phone out from his pocked. He frowned as he read the caller ID, "Tachihara again? Nng, this must be important then."
He hit answer and held his phone up to his ear, nodding along to whatever the other mafioso was saying.
It took a minute for Dazai to realize they weren't in a conversation anymore, and then another to realize what he had just been about to do. He gasped, pressing a hand to his mouth.
What- what was that just now? Was I really about to tell him?
He whirled around, facing the wall and mind a mess and he silently screamed.
It was a well-known fact that Dazai was suicidal but dammit he wasn'tthatsuicidal. He had to think about this more, come up with a plan. Go about it in a way where everything didn't blow up in his face.
Why? Why was it so easy for him to flirt and tease when it was under the pretense that he was just messing around but when he really meant it he felt like a whole panic attack was coming on-?!
"Yeah...I hear you...wait what?"
Dazai perked up, glancing behind him.
Chuuya's expression had turned hostile, eyes narrowed and mouth drawn into a snarl, "Right, okay. I'll call you back."
He shoved his phone away and bit out an angry, "Fuck!"
Dazai tilted his head, previous existential crisis forgotten, "Hm? Is there something wrong, Chuuya-kun?"
"Fuck!" Chuuya said again instead of replying, "Ugh, dammit! That phone call from earlier, I should I answered it! The Black Lizard were on a job, and they needed me for back up but I was here with-"
He paused, the truth dawning upon him as he slowly turned on his heel.
Dazai realized it the same time he did.
Before Dazai could even react, Chuuya seized the collar of his shirt. His head hit the back of the wall, Chuuya's murderous face leering into his.
"Okay, okay," Dazai said as placatingly as he could in a half-strangled voice, holding up his hands in surrender,
"So Imaaayhave predicted that the mafia was going to rob that bank and scheduled our meeting for the same time so you wouldn't be there to help them. But can you blame me? I'm an enforcer of the law remember?"
Several hundred emotions seemed to run over the gravity-manipulator's face at once. Rage, disgust, something a little sad, then resignation.
"Bastard," Chuuya finally mumbled, releasing him.
"I'm sure they'll be fine," Dazai wheezed as he took a grateful gulp of air.
"They won't get the money."
"But the poor old ladies won't lose their retirement fund."
"That's not what I-" Chuuya began, then shook his head kicking a rock out of his way in frustration. He hugged his arms to his chest, looking away.
"You know what?" he said, "Just...forget it."
Dazai opened his mouth, closed it. "Forget what?"
Chuuya gritted his teeth together, self-consciously lowering the brim of his hat over his eyes, "Just -- everything, okay? I don'tgetyou, Dazai. With all that's happened I really thought that when you called me here..."
He sighed, and in a voice so quiet it was barely audible said, "...I just thought that...you actually wanted to see me..."
Dazai thought for a moment.
He stepped forward, reached out a hand and tipped Chuuya's head back.
He looked down into those shinning blue eyes and grinned. "Don't be stupid Chibi, of course I wanted to see you. After all, when else was I supposed to give you...this?"
While Chuuya's attention had been focused on him, Dazai had taken his hand in his and placed something in it.
Chuuya jerked back at once, as if he had been burned. "Shitty mackerel!what the fuck did you-"
Then he froze. Whatever he had thought Dazai placed in the palm of his hand, it clearly wasn't what he was seeing now.
His lips parted, unable to tear his vision from the wine-colored rose, the way its petals trembled in the breeze and tickled his fingers.
Dazai rubbed his neck, glancing off to the side, "Hey, you know what would be a shame?"
Chuuya looked up, clearly doing his best to still look cross, "Eh-?"
"If the people that the mafia ran into weren't actually with the police." Dazai went on, ignoring him, "And if in twenty minutes from now, the agency is going to be contacted to track them down for a handsome government reward."
"What are you-"
Dazai smirked, putting a hand on his hip, "Thirty percent to help me catch them. And only if you behave and obey all my commands, of course."
Chuuya narrowed his eyes, gaze boring to the back of Dazai's skull. His hand curled slightly around the rose.
He opened his mouth,
"Wonderful!" Dazai clapped his hands together, "Between the two of us we should be able to get this done in no time! See, this is why I like you Chuuya, you're always so agreeable~"
Dazai was actually patting himself on the back for a job well done when suddenly Chuuya grabbed his throat and slammed him back into the wall.
"Hey!" Dazai yelped, "Hey, hey what the heck? What did I do? Ow-hey- come on Chuuya I thought we had a deal!"
That only seemed to make Chuuya even angrier, considering that the gravity manipulator was practically choking him. Honestly wasn't this a bit of an overreaction?!
The flower had fallen sideways onto the concrete, petals littering the ground.
"Stop it!" Chuuya snapped, "Stop it,stop doing that! I know I'm a mess but you have to stop or...or I swear I'll kill you Dazai!"
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Dazai cried, half hysterical.
"Oh don't youdarefuck around with me! Arose?A goddamnrose?You're being too obvious -- Iknow you know!"
Chuuya faltered, defeated, "That you..."
And suddenly Dazai was somewhere else. He was back on that grassy field, cradling a bloodied head while straining to hear as his exhausted partner sighed out three words. Words that he didn't believe were real,wouldn'tbelieve were real.
But here and now, Dazai knew the truth. He had known Chuuya for so very long. He had every mannerism and every expression memorized to perfection. He hadn't noticed before, but now with it looking him directly in the face...
They didn't need words.
Quietly, Dazai said, "Really?"
And when Chuuya didn't respond, Dazai knew he had to say something. To capture that moment before it vanished for good. So despite all the alarm bells going off in his head telling him tocease and desist, he let the words leave his tongue:
"You really...feel that way?"
Chuuya looked sharply to the side.
Dazai tried again, "You really...feel that way...aboutme?"
The grip on his throat tightened, "Shut the hell up."
It was all the confirmation he needed. An explosion of nerves and feelings words could only dream to describe flooded every single one of Dazai's senses.
"Don't make me say it -- dammit! Fucking bull-"
And there it was. That blush Dazai had always assumed meant something else.He doesn't hate me. He really doesn't hate me. In fact he-
Almost in a trance, Dazai reached out, fingers brushing a strand of Chuuya's hair behind his ear.
Chuuya gasped, eyes widening. Dazai felt a sly grin curl over his face as he leaned in, "You know, you're always so handsome when you're flustered..."
He leaned in even closer, feeling a startled puff of warm breath against his face, lashes blinking against skin. But no sooner did his lips meet the side of his partner's mouth did Chuuya shove him back.
Chuuya had to blink several times to orient himself, then shook his head. "No. No nono. Not like this. You can do whatever you want to tease me or - or make a fool of me or whatever, Dazai, butthis- I...Ican't--
His voice had gone hoarse at the end, tinged with a note of pleading.
Dazai stared at him. And suddenly he understood.
Quietly he began, "I'm not messing with you...why would I-"
"Ha," Chuuya barked out viciously, "Bullshit. Don't think I didn't notice you doing this since -"
"I'mnot," Dazai insisted, "This -- I --you--!"
And of coursethatwas when Dazai suddenly became hyperaware of how close Chuuya Nakahara was then. And that aside from being so strong and brilliant that Dazai didn't think the world quite deserved him, Chuuya was also very well...hot.
Sexy, if you will.
"I'm not," Dazai said again, pouting a bit. Seriously, did he come to terms with his emotions just for this guynot to believe him?!
"Yeah?" Chuuya challenged, "Then why did you smile at me like that? Back then, when you were jumping out of my apartment, hm? Why'd you hold my hand at the festival? Why'd you literally poison me with your lips instead of shoving it down my throat like a normal person?"
And then in a pretty damn good impression of Dazai, "Why do you always randomly say things like 'oo Chuuya-kun your smile is so beautiful I-"
He stopped abruptly, probably noticing that Dazai had long ago stopped looking at him. Because Dazai was now covering his face with both hands.
Chuuya was silent for a moment.
"It's not because..." he said, suddenly unsure, "It's not because you...because you also...?"
Dazai, still covering his face, gave him a single nod.
Slowly, he felt the velvety fabric of the mafia-executive's gloves slide off his throat and rest on his hands. He didn't bother to resist when Chuuya tugged his fingers back.
He glanced up past his bangs, trying to look irritated. But obviously, that was completely cancelled out by the fact that the utmost furious blush was spread over his face.
Chuuya's pupils blew wide, lower lip trembling, "But that...can't be right..."
His eyes were blazing. If it weren't for Dazai's nullification, wrathful purple energy would have been flaring all around him.
In any other situation, in any other world, Dazai would have thought that look belonged to a Chuuya he finally crossed the line with. One who abandoned any sense of comradeship they shared and decided to tear him limb from limb.
And for a second, Dazai thought that was exactly what was about to happen. But miraculously, when his head hit the back of the concrete wall and blood rushed to the front of his skill, it was because Chuuya Nakahara was kissing him.
Dazai made a small, startled in the back of his throat. But the second Chuuya's hand cupped around his cheek, he melted, eyes fluttering close.
They might as well have stayed like that forever. Bodies pressed so close to one another as reality gave way to a world that felt more like a dream, caught within the dusty sparkle of the alleyway. Perhaps it would have been smarter to come up for air, but neither found that they could. Almost as if they both feared that the second their lips parted, they wouldn't ever meet again.
Perhaps theywouldhave stayed like that forever. But thankfully, before either died of suffocation:
They broke apart, breathless.
Chuuya grumbled, shifting in the hold Dazai had around his waist, "I said I'd call him back-"
Chuuya glanced back to see Dazai digging though his own pockets. As it turned out, this time someone was calling the bandaged detective.
Dazai, face still flushed, answered brightly, "Hello~! Osamu Dazai speaking!"
"Dazai, where the fuck are you?" came the harsh crackle on the other side of the receiver.
"Ah, so it's you Kunikida!" Dazai said, "Hey there, what's up?"
"Don't you 'what's up' me! You know exactly why I'm calling! There's a pile of paperwork on your desk!"
Distantly in the background Atsushi's desperate voice could be heard,"I said I can cover for him Kunikida-san! It's no problem, really-!"
"No, god no Atsushi you are a fucking angel. Sit back down. AndyouDazai, getyour ass back here and take some pride in your work dammit!"
"Oh come onnn Kunikida," Dazai groaned, "I'm busy."
Dazai looked between Chuuya and the wall he was pinned against. He grinned, and Chuuya went scarlet.
"I'm on a date, you know, not like you'll ever know what that's like."
"A da- Oh for crying out loud! Don't tell me you're trying to coerce some poor sap into committing double suicide with you-"
"Double sui-I can't believe I forgot about that!" Chuuya exclaimed, jumping out of Dazai's arms, although his hand did remain on his chest, "Shitty Dazai, I'm not committing double suicide with you, you do realize that,right?"
"Is that Nakahara?" Kunikida said sharply.
"I'm sure you'll come around," Dazai said happily. When Chuuya scowled he quickly added, "But I erm, am willing to make some compromises."
"You better," Chuuya warned, "and next time I see you trying to off yourself I'm gonna kill you."
"That's a little counter-productive, don't you think?" Dazai teased, flicking his forehead. His ex-partner turned boyfriend yelped, scrambling to keep his hat from falling off.
"Dazai," crackled the phone, "are you on a date with aport mafia executive?"
On the other end of the receiver, there was a clatter of what sounded like potato chip containers. "Wait, is he actually?" Ranpo's excited voice could be heard in the distance, "Yo, Tanizaki! Pay up!"
"Isaid I wasn't going to actually bet on it!" Tanizaki protested somewhere in the background, "It's not fair with your ultra-deduction!"
"I don't have ultra-deductionbut I better for," Yosano said.
"Me too!" Kenji chirped.
Atushi must have run up to Kunikida because his voice was awfully close, "Dazai-san! I'm sorry I tried to stop him from calling you but I- AH AKUTAGAWA HOW DID YOU GET IN HERE?"
"JINKO I HAVE SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT TO TELL YOU."
There was a lot of crashing sounds. Followed by a longscrapeas the phone was picked back up.
"Damn, hey Dazai, you still there? Look the kid just got kidnapped...again." Kunikida sighed, " We're going to go get him back. Anyway, there's this new gang in town that just intercepted the mafia's latest bank heist -- do you think you can go after them? Government's giving a reward for it. Oh,and also, with Nakahara, for once in your pathetic bandage wasting life be responsible an-"
Dazai hung up.
There was a brief silence
Dazai never considered himself one to get embarrassed. But he could very well feel the tips of his ears getting red.
"Ah," he said, "Don't mind them...they just get excited..."
Chuuya stared for a moment. Then he began to laugh.
Real, senseless, doubling over laughter. He tapped Dazai's shoulder, "We'll get back tothislater." he said, "Lets go, we got some goons to catch."
Dazai could only watch him. He had lied before. Chuuya wasn't the prettiest when he was flustered. He was the prettiest like this, when he was happy.
Chuuya had begun walking towards to alley's exit, and turned around when he noticed Dazai hadn't moved.
"Hey, you coming?"
Dazai felt something right then. An emotion that made him both want to laugh and cry.
"I love you," Dazai said, "I love you Chuuya, I really mean it. You're the best partner I could have ever asked for."
The executive turned to face him. The clouds parted, sun catching as Chuuya flashed a brilliant grin right back at him.
"Well of course you do, ya shitty mackerel," Chuuya said, "Afterall..."
His grin widened, something cocky and arrogant and so very Chuuya flashed across his face, "...everyone does."
He held out his hand.
Dazai took it, laughing. With no more time to lose, the two of them stepped out into the shining streets of Yokohama.
Plot twist: The author didn't ship these two.
Okay, okay hold on a second, before you pick up your pitchforks and torches I want you to hear me out.
I didn't ship these two. Past tense. See, although I've always loved Chuuya, I used to find Dazai straight up annoying. Buuuut as the story progressed, lets just say he won me over just as much as he did Chuuya.
But wait, you must be wondering, if she didn't ship them, then why did she write an entire fic?
Lets just say it's funny how far a dare made at midnight can go.
I'm so glad you stuck with me throughout this piece. Were there parts I could have done better? Totally. Am I still happy with the final product? Absolutely.
Before I say my final goodbyes, I just wanted to address two quick little things. I got messages from a few readers asking if they could use this everybody-loves-blank format for one of their fics and another message from someone who wanted to use Mary Shelley. My answer is go for it!
I also got a message about fanart. Unfortunately, for safety reasons I can't accept anything over email, but feel free to post wherever you wish!
Again, this has been quite a ride. Really, its just been wonderful knowing that so many people also enjoy this wonderful show and its characters.
Till we meet again!