White steam billowed up with every breath he took, as he hastily made his way through the nearly pitch black night, mud clinging to his shoes, the squelching sound of his fast-paced steps only covered by sporadic breezes of howling winds gushing through the narrow path-ways he had to navigate, the dim light of the currently crescent moon the only means to brighten his way, too far off the main streets with all their vendor shops and Inns had he been.
Most people had probably long laid to rest, only a a few faint lights here and there flickering through small windows, maybe belonging to some poor souls who couldn't yet lay to rest, maybe indulged in mindful studies or the longing of the night or maybe deep in conversation with a long lost friend, finally re-united - he wouldn't know.
Slightly squinting his right eye together, Dazai wiped away one of his dark brown locks clinging to his forehead, damp from the kind of annoying soft drizzle of early autumn rain, that would creep right through his clothes and flesh down to his very bone - a harbinger of the stormy season yet to come, occasionally thicker pearls of water dripping into his face and running down his cheeks and nose.
He silently cursed foolishly having opted for his light over-coat today, not having expected to receive the sudden call of one of his more troubled students, to come by for a late evening learning-lesson, and even less to receive an invitation to join the family for dinner afterwards. Of course, he had excused himself first, telling the loving mother that the area he had to pass through was the one his neighbor had warned him about to not set foot in - especially during such a late hour - and that he was better off to not dwell too long, considering this sort of weather and the season changing for the worse, but really, who was he to deny himself a free well prepared meal, especially after a hard day of work.
Accelerating the pace of his steps, Dazai wrung his arms tighter around his upper body, a futile attempt to shield himself from the freezing temperatures, his shivering only worsening when his soaked clothes pressed against his skin and he let out a small whine, reminding himself of the comfortable warmth of his house that was waiting for him, when a sudden sound behind him made him halt his steps.
He had vanished from Edo's treacherous environment for probably half a year now, had made sure to erase any trace he may had left behind and start over in a completely new life with his made-up identity of a teacher, but the fear, the heavy threat of being discovered by one of the many enemies he had left behind was his constant companion, never sleeping to remind him of the gruesome ways they would make him suffer through until granting the sweet release of death.
Holding his breath, he carefully scanned the area around him for any possible assault.
It had probably only been a stray cat or a rat rummaging through trash, nothing too uncommon and Dazai was just about to pick up his pace again, when a voice behind him cut through the silence.
„Oi… oi, you!"
Dazai stopped in his tracks again, mentally rolling his eyes.
Of course there had to be someone.
Donning his most charming smile, he slowly turned around to face the stranger, a grotesque shadow stumbling along the dimly lit path way towards him, one hand resting against the wall separating the houses, for stability, Dazai assumed, seeing how the other had trouble to merely keep himself upright and not topple over into the dirt, shaking limbs barely holding it's heavy weight.
Clearly, the man (he figured by the deep voice and broad shoulders) was not in full control of his senses anymore and the bottle in his free hand played traitor, telling tales about unabashed immersion into this sort of adult pleasure and - judging from the way he behaved himself now and knowing this kind of person all too well - now agitated from having been kicked out into the cold wet darkness of the night from whatever nearby Inn he had tried to stir up trouble.
Personally, Dazai did not feel any resentment towards drunks; he enjoyed savoring the dry yet rich flavours of sake on his tongue as well, especially as it proved to be an easy and very much entertaining way to help making his head feel lighter and, if only for a short amount of time, take away the dreading thoughts always luring in the deep of his conciousness, - wether by himself or together with his neighbour to celebrate the end of yet another week gone by, until deep into the night - but he disliked dealing with them, especially the kind that would use their lack of control as an excuse to bring harm to other people.
„How may I be of help, dear stranger?“, Dazai purred in an high-pitched almost sing sang kind of voice, trying to give pretense of being nothing more than another harmless resident of this city, in hopes to end their encounter with only an exchange of words.
He could see confusion welling up in the other's from alcohol clouded eyes, probably not having expected to receive such a calm and nonchalant response, the gears of his brain grinding relentlessly to string the words he had just said together to make sense, but gave up half-way through.
„Hah... What are you blabbering…“, the other's tongue slurred heavily under the weight of his drunken state of mind.
The man stopped in his tracks and Dazai felt hazy eyes wander up and down his own figure, trying to judge wether he was worth taking the effort to robb him blank or if it was better to leave him be. Alcohol truly was a fascinating substance, Dazai thought with delight, giving someone who could barely stand upright motionlessly without tumbling over the delusion that he could be a match for him and one of his eyebrows wandered up in amusement, yet he patiently waited for the other to continue.
It took a few heartbeats until the man finally seemed to have come to a conclusion.
Gritting his teeth together, he roughly dashed his free arm forward, the bottle in his hand pointing at him, it's last remains of content splashing onto his own sleeve and into the muddy ground.
„Oi, you look like you have money. Give me your goddamn money, all of it!"
The smile on Dazai's face grew, it's previous gentleness distorting into a grotesque grimace, barely a small glimpse into the ruthless darkness he held buried every day beneath his mask of carefree light-heartedness, his voice carrying an unmistakable warning in it.
„My dear Stranger, I think it would be of best, if we just go separate paths, seeing as you are drunk and no one should get hurt on this merry night."
He had assumed it would prove enough to ward the man off, but his calm nature and the fact that he would not budge and beg for his life, like his oh-so threatening stranger had expected of him, seemed to have quite the opposite effect, throwing the other into an even deeper rage.
„The hell are you blabbering about, why are you talking like this?!“
In his moment of short circuited anger, he wildly lunged his arms around, striking the bottle he had clutched so dearly in his hands against the wall next to him, it's bottom shattering loudly when it collided with the cold hard stone, tiny pieces of glass soaring through the air. "Let's see how good you are with your words once I cut your throat...", he barked at Dazai with a loud triumphal grin, holding the broken bottle over his head like a prized weapon, it's sharp edges reflecting dangerously in the pale light of the moon, ill-boding teeth eager to attack and sink themselves into Dazai's skin.
Dazai took a deep sigh, coming to acceptance with the fact that a fight had become inevitable now and his right hand sought for the sharp tool he always held hidden inside the sleeve of his overcoat, silently flicking the thin blade open, a deep shadow falling over his face, the glance in his eyes turning lifeless and dull.
„No one gets hurt, what a joke…“, the man snarled at him. With a quick dash he jumped forward, his face distorted into a wild grimace, swinging the bottle after him in a sweeping motion. "Prepare to wake up in the gutter, you snobby bastard…!"
For a man this drunk he had moved faster than anticipated, but still too slow to prove a possible threat to him and Dazai got ready to remorselessly slit his throat the second he would come into his range.
He would declare it to the police officers as need to safe himself, asking them to not make it public due to his profession. Young kids mustn't know about such ruthless deeds, he would proclaim, and hopefully all would be settled without making it's way into the daily press.
He tightened the grip around the tool in his fingers and drew one foot back, his muscles taut, waiting for the right moment to lash out, the neck of his attacker fixated through wide opened eyes, not a trace of compassion reflecting in them, only tinged in a deep dark emptiness that knew no value for mercy, intent on casting away a life which to him was nothing more than another nuisance, a fly to be swatted off and never be thought of again.
Only a blink of an eye and it would all be over, a veil of death gently wrapping around their bodies in bright red layers, heavy clouds rolling in front of the moon to take away sight from the cruel end of an existence probably forsaken since birth by any god that possibly were, when all of a sudden another voice cut through the scene, firm but audibly annoyed, and, to Dazai's surprise, somewhat familiar.
„I forbid of this action, stop this fight, immediately!"
Gracefully evading the swing of the bottle, Dazai made a quick step backwards, using the momentum to merge deeper into the shadows around them to conceal his presence, leaving his attacker behind in visible confusion where he had vanished to, but soon distracted by the newcomer behind him.
Dazai peaked a glance from his hidden spot, curiously observing how the man turned around, displeased about having been interrupted by whoever had stepped into the scene just now, relieved that the deed of having to take care of this troublesome fellow had been taken off of him, yet somehow an uneasiness started to creep up in his stomach, paired with a suspicion he did not yet wanted to accept as truth.
„You again… how dare you speaking to me like that?!", the man barked, anger and annoyance clearly resonating in his voice.
The newcomer seemed cautious, yet made his way towards the two of them and Dazai's eyes flew wide open, his heart nearly missing a beat, when the feeling in his gut got confirmed, instantly recognizing the two pairs of slim legs and the small frame of a slender body, feet stepping light and self-assured, as flaming orange locks framing a beautiful young face revealed themselves in the light of the nearest lantern - the face he had missed so much for the past months, had yearned for to find again in this crowded city - and yet he couldn't feel as happy as he wished to be about the unexpected reunion, worry all his mind could yell at him.
The drunkard obviously felt enraged being told off by the younger man, his attention now fully focussed on him, Dazai's existence probably completely forgotten already, but Chuuya continued his way towards them, his posture softening when he spoke again in a more soothing tone.
„I will show leniency if you put down your weapon and bring you ho-", he started but upon merely hearing the first few words the drunkard harshly interrupted his well-meant speech.
„Who do you think you are, you dirty little rat?! Think you can speak to me like that, only because you wear an uniform now, hah?!" Spitting onto the ground he swung the shattered bottle violently around to let off steam.
Chuuya let out a deep sigh, a trace of sadness contouring his normally so head-strong features.
"I am not doing this to brag about my position, I am doing this for your own safety..."
The words seemed less those of a proud military servant than more of a child begging it's parent to come along with them and Dazai noticed a general submissiveness in the other's behavior, a reluctancy to use any real force with the stranger and the worry in his stomach grew, knowing that the other did not share the same sentiment, would just use any dirty method to beat Chuuya into a mess for having spoken up.
So occupied by each other, they seemed to have forgotten about him entirely, and Dazai was glad to be left in a position where he could observe the situation from a distance without making any unnecessary addition to the already messy scene and being granted with the ability to interfere at any given moment, should the situation only in the slightest fall into disfavour for his beloved little soldier.
"Tch, worry about your own ass after I finish beating it...!"
The drunk dashed forward again, swinging his bottle after Chuuya, apparently the only means he knew to use in a fight.
For a trained fighter like him, it was an easy task to evade an attack of this level, but to Dazai's discomfort Chuuya didn't use the wide open gap in defense to simply strike back and end the whole mess as quick as possible, instead only grabbed the man by his arm to pull him forward, having him stumble over his own feet and topple into the soaked ground and Dazai could not help but wonder where the hesitation stemmed from.
Chuuya's behavior was so different to when they had tried to catch the made-up intruder in his home, back then had shown a rather frightening side of his to be willing to make short process of anyone who dared to disturb peace of innocent people. Surely, with reflexes as fast as his, the risk of receiving a critical hit wasn't very likely, but how long would that last, the chances of losing concentration for even a split second a permanent risk and he knew the other man would not hesitate to use that exact instant to turn the pages around and beat Chuuya up until he would no longer be able to walk. (He absolutely would not let him have his way, going that far, but it baffled him, that his small soldier seemed to not care about this possibility at all.)
Clutching the metal weapon in his grip so tightly it painfully cut into his own skin, Dazai feverishly followed the fight, the hair on his neck raised from concentration and all his senses focussed on detecting even the smallest hint of discomfort for Chuuya, so much that he didn't notice that he himself had started to make a move out of his hideout, just a small step, but enough for Chuuya to notice him from the corner of his eyes.
Distracted from his fight, Chuuya's eyes widened in surprise, mouth flying open with a small gasp.
A muffled strained sound drew from Chuuya's lips, when the bottle collided painfully against his shoulder-blade, his legs giving in from the moment of paralysing shock, frozen in fear staring at the fist flying towards his face.
Dazai's mind snapped blank and he grit his teeth together, all his fears of being discovered by anyone forgotten and irrelevant, his self reduced to nothing more than an ominous deadly shadow, bolting towards the two fighting people, the tool in his hand pointed towards the other like the fang of a ferocious snake, ready to rip open the throat of the man, who so boldly dared to pose a threat against his beloved soldier.
In what could have been nothing more than a split second, Dazai's murderous gaze met Chuuya's, and for a brief second he noticed something unknown lingering in them, something he could not yet define, but had no time thinking about it, when, all of a sudden, Chuuya got a hold of his body again and twirled around, throwing a well targeted punch against the drunkards jaw, the almost painful sound of cracking bones resonating through the air, the man's body flying backwards, collapsing unconsciously onto the ground, blood gushing out of his mouth and onto the wet mud-soaked path.
Without sparing the attacker a second glance, Chuuya hastily made his way to Dazai's side, a concerned look in his eyes, and yet a certain hesitation clearly written all over his face.
„Sensei, are you alright?" He did not wait for an answer, instead bowed down deeply in front of him, "I am so sorry you got assaulted by him!"
Dazai only shock his head, relieved but also admittedly baffled and maybe a tad embarrassed as well, clearly having underestimated the actual fighting strength Chuuya's and rushing to the scene like this.
„Don’t worry about me, I am just glad you are alright.", he answered, a soft smile around his lips.
The cute little flush, Chuuya always seemed to get when he felt embarrassed, returned onto his pretty face, eyes quickly averted nervously.
"Let’s bring him to the station, so he can sleep off his inebriety."
Dazai nodded in agreement, heaving up the heavy body and placing the arms of the man around Chuuya's shoulders for stabilization. Originally he had planned to help holding the legs from behind, but found himself a bit dumbfounded when he noticed the other had seemingly no trouble carrying the burden all by himself - once again an unspoken reminder to himself that he really needed to be careful not to get on the bad side of this young man, unless he was in masochistic cravings for some serious injuries, making him gulp down a little bit, yet couldn't shake off the feeling of excitement welling up in his stomach.
Playing with fire had fascinated him since he had been a young boy and upon deeper inspection Chuuya seemed to have the force of a gruesome tornado hidden within himself, buried beneath his own morals of right-doing and justice, a ferocity of unforgiving destruction if ever unleashed and he couldn't help but lick his lips, thinking of all the possible ways to bend this much power to his own will.
They had arrived by the nearby police station rather quickly, neither of them having spoken a single word during the walk. For some reason Chuuya seemed to be a little bit lost in his own thoughts and Dazai did not have the heart pull him yet away from them, instead used the time to be thankful for not having needed to dirty his hands today, especially in front of the other.
Entering the small office, Dazai stood back against the entrance door, observing Chuuya exchanging a few words with the stationary police officer, the two of them apparently already familiar with each other, the man quickly scribbling down a few notes regarding the attempted robbery that had taken place, before both made their way into the back, locking the still unconcious body in one of their small cells to sober up.
Dazai used the momentum to shuffle towards the report book, peeking a glance to see the entry of the drunkard, they had just delivered in here and his eyebrows turned up in surprise.
The name read Nakahara.