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Five Stages

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Chuuya pours another glass of wine, and does not grieve.

Dazai's betrayed him, betrayed the Boss, betrayed the Port Mafia, and for that, Chuuya will murder that disgusting waste of bandages like he's any other traitor. A broken jaw for spilled secrets, three gunshots for a slow death, and a public corpse to ensure the world knows that even the title Executive will not protect someone from the Port Mafia's revenge. He wraps his lips around the word 'betrayer' and bile lingers at the back of his throat, so he clears it out with a sip of wine. Chuuya's going to watch Dazai beg and cry and bleed, going to watch the darkness leave Dazai's eyes, before stubbing his cigarette out on the body.

After all the shit Dazai's put him through, killing Dazai would be a crowning achievement.

So that makes tonight a celebration, he supposes.

He brings the wineglass to his lips again, swallowing the Petrus '89 in an ignoble fashion, considering its quality, but he forgives himself and he stares out over Yokohama from the edge of the balcony as though For the Tainted Sorrow isn't threatening to warp the universe itself around him.

Hatred and rage seethe, raw poison in his veins. He refuses to dwell on Mori's cold eyes assessing Chuuya's loyalty, refuses to dwell on Kouyou's sharp disapproval, refuses to dwell on the whispers that follow him, and refuses most of all to think of the power that's stripped from him.

He refuses to dwell on the consequences of Corruption being stripped from him, although the sick fear of what he's been reduced to claws at Chuuya's anger, wounded and snarling.

He clutches the stem of the crystal wineglass so hard it shatters and leaves him dripping blood that splatters fifty stories down, but it's a celebration. After all, Dazai has finally delivered Chuuya's dearest wish on a silver platter, and so Chuuya supposes he can help Dazai with the one thing he's claimed to desire more than anything else: his death.

Dazai will die and Chuuya will kill him.

Chuuya dwells on that thought while blood stains his fingers.

Chuuya does not grieve—there is no need to grieve, because he's free of Dazai at long last, and Chuuya's accustomed to cleaning up after Dazai's mistakes. Why would this be any different?

And so he laughs, full of loathing and fury, and picks shards of crystal from his flesh.

~*~

Dazai returns to the Port Mafia for the jinko's sake, and Chuuya nearly roars his denial.

Atsushi-kun, Dazai had called him, with a familiarity that makes Chuuya sneer. After four years Dazai had laid everything on the line for an orphaned brat that Dazai once would have been the first in line to sell and—

I'd like to say that's heartwarming, but look where you ended up.

Except Dazai only ever ends up where he wants to end up, and Chuuya almost wishes he'd chosen the satisfaction of knowing Dazai was dead over providing him with information, even if it meant forfeiting his own position in the Port Mafia. Except that decision would've given Dazai the twisted pleasure of knowing that, even dead, he'd destroyed Chuuya's life one last time. Except Dazai only returned to the Port Mafia to begin with because for some reason he's pretending to care enough about saving the jinko's life to risk everything else and it leaves Chuuya unnerved, as though staring at a long-dead creature that suddenly has a spark of life all its own.

So Chuuya stands in the hall and shakes, and shakes, and shakes, an infuriated rebuttal that he does not speak staining his lips: "You don't get to care now, traitor, you don't get to play at being a martyr! It's too late!"

But Dazai doesn't need to be a martyr and sacrifice himself for the jinko. He only needs to bend Chuuya to his will like he's always done, and when he gets his information he'll turn his back on Chuuya like he's always done, and Chuuya will be left picking up the pieces like he's always done.

Chuuya's done, and knows better than to believe there's a compassionate bone in Dazai's body.

He finds out later that there's a connection between the jinko and the Book, which makes it possible to breathe again. Dazai's just protecting his investments, no more, no less, and that's the kind of 'compassion' that Chuuya recognizes all too well.

Chuuya experienced a lot of it, as Dazai's 'partner'.

He's still playing the same game, it seems, just with a new victim who doesn't know better—Dazai's got no more of a heart than Chuuya has patience for him pretending to have one.

~*~

Dazai never tells him about being shot, and Chuuya's rage chokes him.

The worst, most unbearable part is that it's Chuuya's own fault. For once Dazai's faultless, and that leaves Chuuya desperate to skin Dazai alive, to find the coal that sits where his heart should be and crush it in his fist because even when Dazai's faultless he's to blame. That fight with Lovecraft has gotten under Chuuya's skin in all the most reprehensible ways—because Chuuya's body remembers.

Dazai's not the only one who remembers the timing of their attacks, the scathing comments that are as natural as breathing, the fact that they have always been at their most dangerous together. Chuuya's body remembers, remembers all of it, remembers Corruption, remembers the coolness of Dazai's fingers around his wrist, and remembers the clarity of the first breath he takes without his lungs burning.

His lungs burn now, but not because of Corruption—or perhaps it is, because Chuuya's body remembers being Dazai's partner and demands retribution for blood spilled despite the fact that he hasn't had the right demand vengence in years. It's strange. Chuuya would have happily let the alliance with the ADA crumble, would have killed Fukuzawa in an instant without regret, would still destroy the ADA in a heartbeat and crush the Rats one by one and laugh, yet Chuuya cannot breathe through his rage because his body is convinced it should have been there to stop the bullet.

Chuuya cannot forgive Dazai for that. Will not forgive Dazai for that.

Dazai stands in front of him, eyes opaque like Chuuya's rage doesn't matter, like it's never mattered, and Chuuya strikes on instinct, breathing heavily. He shudders as Dazai blocks. His fingers wrap around Chuuya's wrist.

They're cool.

Chuuya gazes up at Dazai, fury fluttering beneath his skin, and reaches for Dazai with blood heavy on his tongue.

~*~

Dazai brushes his lips over Chuuya's temple with that hideous, awful smile of his as he leaves, and Chuuya allows it because it will only happen once.

That's the deal, because Chuuya refuses to have it any other way.

He stands in his bedroom, listens to the door shut firmly behind Dazai, and touches his temple, his collarbone, his chest, his hips. He shifts his weight, and his back stings badly enough that Chuuya knows Dazai's left his mark—scratches sharp enough to cleave Chuuya to the bone, but Chuuya's cut a deal with the devil and he's had this afternoon as promised and it's better not to think about the fact that every time he blinks he sees the lines of Dazai's body edged in sharp light.

There's a difference between a mistake and a regret.

So that's how this is going to end. An afternoon, a kiss that doesn't matter, and Chuuya cleaning Dazai's scent from his skin: that's what he bought and paid for with his own flesh, bribing Dazai with his fingers and mouth and the slippery sweat between their bodies and it doesn't matter who started it but Chuuya needs to wash his hands anyways.

He needs a fucking shower.

Chuuya stands under the scorching spray like it can burn him clean and the water clings to him with unnatural weight, threatening to drown him. The cuts on his back sting and he punches a fist through the tiling, something hot and heavy in his throat and he can still feel Dazai even as the blood washes away.

He stumbles out to the kitchen for a drink, exposed and soaked, desperate and pathetic, and finds a bottle of sake on the counter.

He doesn't understand how—when—why—but he opens it and swallows it down.

Chuuya may have paid for a single afternoon, but Dazai's long since sold his soul.

~*~

Dazai hasn't returned since Chuuya threw him out, and Chuuya's weary.

He lays on the couch, apartment painted in shadows as the grey light fades, and dully watches raindrops race down the window. If there was any justice, the weather would be sunny and unseasonably warm, coaxing him outside, rewarding him for his decision. For his return to reason. For his sensibility. Instead, it's been pouring for three days straight. If it wasn't so exhausting, Chuuya would rage at the hollowness inside him, fill it with his own fury. Instead, it's all too easy to turn his back to the rain-streaked glass and curl in on himself.

Chuuya's weak.

He'd hate this, if his bones were less leaden. If his fingers were less stiff. If his voice was less raw.

If his heart was still in his chest, instead of being recklessly torn out.

As though he'd had any other choice. Those three words had no right to sink roots inside him, so Chuuya had burned them out of his body with the kind of wildness he usually saves for battle—and, well, this was a battle too, and remains one. Chuuya uses his temper to get him through the days, and his nights are spent silently alone without his wrath to warm him.

Sometimes, he considers the fact that Dazai must have known; he can't imagine that Dazai was blind to Chuuya's feelings—not the master manipulator. But Dazai hasn't come back. Chuuya doesn't know what that means, tries to decide whether it means anything at all, but he gets lost in an ouroboros because he's never understood Dazai and probably never will. He's trapped, lost in the space between the certainty Dazai had known—because he always knows—and the knowledge he hasn't come back.

A game then, played to its inevitable conclusion.

All the more reason to try to ruthlessly sever what once bound them, as though Chuuya could ever be completely separated from Dazai any more than he could be completely separated from his past. As though he doesn't taste bitterness and bile at the back of his tongue. As though he doesn't cling to the fury that drives him.

As though they could have been something.

And because Dazai is nothing if not the cruelest person Chuuya has ever met, there's a knock at the door.

~*~

Dazai's fallen asleep, and Chuuya hasn't murdered him.

How absurd.

He blows out a stream of smoke and taps the end of his cigarette on the ashtray beside him, but Dazai doesn't stir, still dozing in Chuuya's lap. Chuuya trails his fingers along the exposed skin of Dazai's unbroken jaw and shivers. Dazai doesn't react to the familiar touch, chest rising and falling peacefully because he knows Chuuya has no more inclination to spill Dazai's blood these days than his own—because Chuuya's weak, and a fool, and in love with a traitor. He stubs out the remainder of his cigarette and exhales, closing his eyes.

He's not in the habit of regrets.

So that makes tonight a celebration, he supposes.

He brings the wineglass to his lips, savoring the Petrus '89 in the fashion it deserves, and stares out over Yokohama from his balcony, aware that the heavy weight of Dazai in his lap keeps him grounded, for all their skin no longer touches. The city twinkles more enticingly than any star, and Chuuya raises his glass. Light refracts through wine and crystal alike and shimmers over Dazai, highlighting his lashes and the planes of his face. It's good to know that even sleeping, Dazai finds ways to torment him. Chuuya tilts his head back and laughs softly, savoring another sip.

Light floods his veins. He knows that Mori's cold eyes will assess Chuuya's loyalty, knows he'll face Kouyou's sharp disapproval, knows whispers will follow him, and knows that he will spend the rest of his life fighting to keep this.

Chuuya bares his teeth and Corruption stirs until he slides his fingers through Dazai's hair.

It's fortunate that he's an excellent fighter.

He drains the last drops of wine from the glass and contemplates another one. It's a celebration, after all. Dazai's never given him a moment's peace, a moment's sanity, a moment's logic, and Chuuya's here anyways, gods help them both. He smiles crookedly as he finds himself watching Dazai's steady breathing again. Maybe this will still end the way Chuuya always believed their relationship would: Dazai dying and Chuuya killing him.

Well. Chuuya doesn't have the answers, but for once he doesn't think Dazai does either.

But he'll burn that bridge when he comes to it. He's still not in the habit of regrets.

He hums, soft and warm, and runs his fingers through Dazai's hair again before reaching for the bottle.

Chuuya pours himself another glass of wine, and does not grieve.