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A soft hum escaped his lips when a single warm ray of the first morning sunlight gently brushed his face, his eyes twitching unwillingly while his mind slowly drifted back from his dreams into reality. Thick, cozy blankets wrapped around his body, as well as two lean arms, that casually slung around his stomach, moving with every deep breath he took and providing the necessary warmth on still chilly days of early Spring time. Yawning softly Chuuya snuggled deeper against his pillow, not yet ready to fully wake up.

He knew these arms too well, had interacted with them a thousand of times, had fought with them, had flipped them off his body and tended to them when bloody fights had died down, leaving them alone in what he always thought of as a state of nearly ironic affectionate and tender togetherness, wounded and grateful for being able to rely on each other in times of need.

Closing his eyes again, he took a deep breath before he rolled around to look into the familiar sleeping face, so peaceful, in a way it seemed almost unnatural to him, framed by tousled locks and a soft red crept onto his cheeks, because how dared he to look this cute?!

Never would he have thought, he could say those words - especially out loud and to the other's face -, too innocent and childish had they been when they first met and too soon separated again when they had shown first signs of forming a somewhat confidant friendship, the wall of miscommunication and emotional closed-off-ness - especially from Dazai's side - later too high, too strong to tear down.

They had hated each other and sometimes he had wondered if it was more due to the fact of them both knowing, what they could have been, if not being disturbed from outside forces and the bitterness that came with it, tainting their hearts, shackling them with a constant hurt, the only way to feel any relief to be lashing out against one another.

How they had actually managed to lie here, next to each other, no trace of fights, no yelling nor stomping, only chirping birds as an accompanying background music underlining long sought peacefulness, was still beyond Chuuya's grasp.

He must have spaced out for a moment and startled, when a playfully teasing smile stole onto Dazai's still resting face, making his heart miss a beat for a second.

„How long are you planning on staring at me?", the chirping tone of voice almost made him want to punch Dazai back to sleep, but chocolate brown eyes fluttered open, still slightly clouded from sleep, yet gently seeking his glance held him back.

Chuuya immediately looked away, clicking his tongue in displeasure.

„I wasn’t staring at you.", he tried to dismiss the accusation, despite knowing better, and despite not sounding convincing at all.

The soft chuckle Dazai's told him, the other knew as well. (Of course, he did.)

„Chuuya is such a liar… and a very bad one at that."

Lies.
Yes, again.

Chuuya took a deep breath.

Did he really want to continue like this, finally lying together with the man he had loved for so long now, years of longing for another, of secret wishes and hidden glances behind closed doors, having a chance to be cast aside and building a new foundation between them, maybe one of real love - even if he knew their lifestyles would throw even harder challenges at them.

Long flaming locks fell loosely into his face when he leaned closer towards Dazai, tickling the other's nose - and making it twitch so cutely he wished to throw him out of the window, and himself afterwards for thinking such nonesense- and Chuuya hesitantely, carefully, slid his hand on top of Dazai's, linking their fingers together.

His own voice felt small and unsure, when he spoke again, but deep in his heart he felt the need to finally take a step forward.

„I… I lied."

Dazai snorted.
„I know, you cannot keep any sec-"

„No, listen to me.“, Chuuya cut him off, then took a deep breath, „I said I hated your guts and everything about you and that I dread of going on a mission with you ever again…"

His heart beat painfully nervous against his chest, feeling like it would burst out of his ribcage any second to run away from the situation, leaving him alone with whatever he tried to start here, while he gave his best not to have his voice crack embarrassingly.

A few moments passed until Dazai softly pressed his hand, tightening the hold of their entwined fingers and giving him the necessary push to continue his little speech.

"...but the truth is, I want to protect you. I want to be the one who fights for you, the one you can rely on."

Oh god, had he really said these embarrassing words just now?
Feeling his face burning hot, all he wanted to do was to bury it into the other's shoulder, if only so he didn't need to see that annoying cheeky grin anymore, Dazai sported right now.

„Oh, is Chuuya finally confessing his love to me?"

„I am not!"

„Awww…!"

Chuuya averted his glance.
Was it really so bad saying these words now?
He had wanted to say them for so long, had wanted to stay true to his feelings, live them however he wanted, heck, had even possibly humiliated himself in front of the other with the nonesense he had spouted just now, so why was he still playing this stupid game?!

His glance returned back onto Dazai, who had patiently kept watching him, not saying a word like all the previous times he had used to make him feel ashamed and a face filled with so much tenderness it gently stripped Chuuya down from all the shackles he had burdened himself with, rid him of all the fears and pretense he had felt the need to keep up, only to not get hurt.

For the first time in his life, the smile on his face felt honest.

„Dazai, I love you"