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Viora

Chapter Text

 

 

He could hear it, a faint voice caressing the tresses of his most distant memories. They were familiar words, spoken in a past lifetime.

 

Look, Chuuya! They’re called hydrangeas!  

 

When his sight shimmers into existence, he sees the ephemeral sky above, an endless expanse of grey connected to sparkling waters. He hears the raindrops lulling him with a gentle melody, and when he closes his eyes, he feels the faint touch of delicate petals against his fingertips. Fallen blooms of hydrangeas float in the shallow waters he rests in, seeping pastel hues of blue and violet.

 

He recalls a scene much like this, from a hundred lifetimes ago. Perhaps even longer.

 

Once again, that voice reaches out to him, echoing in waves like ripples on the water.

 

I would give you my breath... so that I may hear you whisper my name.

 

It was a promise, one so heartfelt and earnest. The words sound so familiar to him, as if they had been whispered adoringly into his ear for a thousand years.

 

I would give you my eyes... so that you may see how much I loved you.

 

The light above him shifts, glimmering against his lashes and urging him to reveal cerulean blue eyes. There, above him, is a familiar face hidden behind a veil of glass shards, as if the light refracted around their image infinitely.

 

I would give you my heart... so that you may feel how fervently it beats for you.

 

Gentle, cool hands reach forward to cup against the curve or his chin. Such a familiar touch... He wonders if he had ever been without it. The voice speaks again, and this time it’s clearer than the waters that surrounded them.

 

I would give you my life...

 

It wavers, breaking as desperation and breathless sorrow seeps into it.

 

If only you would give me yours in return.

 

The sound of raindrops cease, only to be replaced by a resonating hum that pierces his ears. The forgiving colors of hydrangea petals tremble and fade, only to bleed into the stark crimson of spider lilies. His eyes harden into a cruel gaze, directed at this deceiving angel above him, this demon who stares at him with amber warmth. Their murky depths whisper love with a dying breath.

 

Ah, he remembers this scene, he remembers the way his demon’s cold hands trail past his chin to wrap cloyingly around his neck. When it begins to tighten and cut off his breath, he sneers at its twisted smile and spits an ugly accusation.

 

“You would let me fall?”

 

The demon falters, fingers trembling atop Chuuya’s thrumming pulse. It considers the thought, tilting its head innocently, and through its distorted veil he could see soft brown locks curling around its cheeks. It smiles at him gently, comfortingly, as if nothing else mattered in this transient world but him. The answer dances across its lips.

 

Yes, so Hell won’t be so lonely.

 

The world around him shatters suddenly, collapsing in on itself and pulling the stars from the sky. An abyss opens up beneath him like a ravenous maw, and the clear waters no longer support his body.

 

When everything else ceases to exist, he falls.

 

Chapter Text

 

A falling sensation always haunts him, tormenting his senses as he feels the world break apart under his feet, and reminds him of a lifetime when he fell so effortlessly in love.

 

Chuuya wakes to the incessant droning of his alarm, eyes bleary and stomach still tingling as if he had fallen right through the ceiling and landed with a jolt onto the futon. Like clockwork, his version of a mundane morning begins like this,

 

Stretch in the morning sunshine that is ever too bright, fold his hands together, unknowingly missing the gentle fingers that used to curl around his...

 

Brush his teeth while glancing to the spot next to him, never knowing why he has such a habit, shower quickly and- ... static.

 

He blinks and finds himself sitting in front of a simple breakfast and all but scarfs it down. By the time he sweeps out the door like a whirlwind, the inexplicable irritation is already overflowing in his chest and spilling through his ribs, and the only thing that can quell it is a swift walking pace that urges his heart to thunder away.

 

Finally reaching the crosswalk that leads to his destination, Chuuya stiffens his shoulders and stares at the crowd across from him, preparing for the phenomenon that never fails to occur day by day. The light signals a crossing, and Chuuya takes confidant strides, even when he is dwarfed by every other person passing by, and suddenly-

 

There it is, the faint tugging at his little finger, like an unseen red string of fate urging him to look , and when his head instinctively turns in its direction, he searches... and searches, and searches.

 

If the red string of fate had truly tied his destiny to one partner, then he had been dealt a cruel hand, because Chuuya does not even know who to look for. Sometimes, he catches a tuft of brown hair and feels elation swell in his chest, while other times, like today, he simply walks on, nursing that emptiness in his heart.

 

***

 

The Demon Professor.

Slayer of GPAs

Lecturer from Hell

 

Well, said ‘demon professor’ severely needs a drink before he sprouts horns and spits fire. The pen in his hand nearly snaps in half when Chuuya presses a little too hard and punctures the paper. Irritation prickles at the back of his neck, and what irks him further is his failure to grasp any possible reason for his foul mood.

 

“Uhm, Professor?” A hesitant voice prods at him.

 

“Don’t call me that.” Chuuya nearly snaps, his voice a little too harsh in response. Atsushi nearly leaps out of his seat, and immediately Chuuya feels regret for frightening his student and teaching assistant.

 

“S-Sorry, sensei! You were just-... spacing out again. Are you alright?”

 

His student is much too sweet, Chuuya thinks as he leans back in his chair and drags his hands across his face with a deep exhale. Much too sweet in his innocent concern and much too perceptive, as if he were a beast with unnaturally sharp instincts. No doubt Atsushi is about to point out something about his distressed teacher, so Chuuya drops his hands and fixes an attentive gaze to him.

 

“I’m just in a horrible mood today, and I can’t even place the reason.”

 

“Ah...” Atsushi’s silver brows stitch together in thought as he lifts a finger and rubs the bridge of his nose, before tentatively posing a question.

 

“Did you change your cologne recently?”

 

“Ha?” The question strikes him into a stupor, his mind unable to make the connection until he lifts his arm up and gives it a whiff. Surprisingly enough, Chuuya notices an unfamiliar scent, but feels nostalgia stirring in his chest as if he had once known it. It then occurs to him that he must’ve been so irritable because of this peculiar scent lingering on him.

 

“Atsushi, how close are you to finishing those papers?”

 

“Huh? Oh, uhm...” His student glances down at the essays they had been grading, and judging by the diminishing stack he assumes that he is almost finished.

 

“I think I could finish in an hour or so-”

 

“Finish them tomorrow, I’m heading home early today, so you should head home and rest also.” The phrasing of his words and his clipped tone makes it sound less like a suggestion and more like a command, one that Atsushi responds to like a soldier out of reflex.

 

“Y-Yessir!”  

 

***

 

As if sensing his awful mood, the sky clouds over and begins to rain down upon him, and even with his fast pace, Chuuya is unable to make it home in time and bears the brunt of the downfall. Without his umbrella, Chuuya turns into a grove of sakura trees to seek a few moment of refuge, and while the blossoms are in full bloom, he has no interest in admiring their pale pink hue, until something catches his eye.

 

A thick rope dangles from a branch, swaying ominously among raindrops and falling petals. Chuuya slows his pace as he approaches and sidesteps it carefully, eyes locked onto the frayed end where it must’ve been cut. An odd chill wanders up his spine, but his mind brushes it away, and once again he is jogging through puddles to make it back home.

 

Chuuya is in the middle of pulling out his keys when he ascends the stairs to his apartment, but yet another distraction steals his attention. This time, it’s a man.

 

Something tugs at his little finger, the red string of fate that he lingers in his thoughts so often, and if it were truly real, he would say he felt it wrapping around his heart at this very moment.

 

The stranger is leaning forward, his forearms resting against the railings while his gaze sought the far horizon. Tiny droplets of water slid down his mused mahogany locks, and for a moment Chuuya is convinced that he had caught glimpses of this man every time he crossed the street.

 

Under normal circumstances, Chuuya would politely nod and pass by, but the man is idling right in front of his door. He makes a sound, quietly pulling attention to himself, and when warm chocolate eyes turn to him, he senses a familiarity within them.

 

“Ah, am I in your way?” His voice is smooth and suave, Chuuya couldn’t help but trace the curve of his lips as he smiles.

 

“Sorry, I was just hiding from the rain.” There is something dishonest in his tone, it sounds like a practiced lie coated in sweet honey, but Chuuya senses no ill intention behind it.

 

As he passes by the stranger, Chuuya sees the faint shiver in his shoulders, and when he turns his back to unlock his door, a sudden impulse strikes him.

 

“Come in and dry yourself off. The rain won’t be stopping for a while.” Chuuya doesn’t need to look to see the surprise in his eyes, and his phrasing wasn’t exactly an offer, it was almost a demand, because his heart desires it.

 

“My name is Chuuya.” He adds as an afterthought.

 

“Dazai.” The man responds with a smile as he steps over the threshold.

 

***

 

“Here.” Chuuya hands him a towel to dry off, but Dazai immediately lifts his hands and declines, an odd gesture, but he assumes it was just over politeness.

 

“It’s alright, thank you.” He smiles again, still sweet and fake, but Chuuya furrows his brows at the wet shirt clinging to his arms.

 

“Do you want a change of clothes at least?”

 

“Ah...” Those charming brown eyes glance up and down at his frame, his lips quirk up in an amused smile.

 

“I don’t think you would have anything that fits me.” There is a slight chuckle in his voice, and if Chuuya weren’t soaked and tired, he would bare his teeth and challenge him. Instead he tosses the towel onto the couch and heads down the hallway with a dismissive wave.

 

“Suit yourself. Make yourself comfy, I’ll be right back.”

 

After a quick shower, Chuuya returns dressed down in his pajamas with a towel over his shoulders, and finds Dazai perched on the couch patiently. Again, there is something so stiff and fake about him, from the way he speaks to his carefully poised posture.

 

“I haven’t seen you around here before. Did you just move in?” Chuuya asks while making them a cup of tea, and when he sets the cup down, Dazai stares carefully down at his reflection in the steaming ripples.

 

“To be quite honest, I’m a bit of a vagrant.”

 

“So you have nowhere to go.” It was a little blunt, but Dazai doesn’t even flinch, telling him that it was exactly his situation.

 

“Well, you’re not wrong...”

 

“What, did I just pick up a stray?”

 

“Nya.”

 

Chuuya chuckles at the response. Well, he had always wanted to take home a stray and shelter it from the rain, but he thought it would be a puppy, not a man.

 

They spend the next hour talking about trivial things, although Chuuya quickly finds out that they have very little in common, except for a fascination with literature. Even then, Dazai expresses his fixation with aimless and decadent novels, while Chuuya appreciates poetry above all. All the while, Dazai never takes a sip from his cup, but instead trails his finger around the rim in a slow caress.

 

Chuuya briefly wonders how those fingers would feel tracing his lips.

 

The rain continues well into the night, so Chuuya decides that Dazai is staying over.

 

“You’re quite generous, aren’t you?” The teasing tone and smile makes him retort with a fierce glare.

 

“Don’t misjudge me. If you tried anything I’d kick your ass in a heartbeat.” He lets his manners slip for just a second, and likewise, Dazai lets something mischievous glimmer in his eyes, as if he took that as a challenge. Nevertheless, Dazai waves him goodnight and settles onto the couch, while Chuuya retreats into his room.

 

***

 

That night, Chuuya’s mind wanders aimlessly into a dream. A dream where he feels silky touches fall against his cheek like petals, and the scent of sandalwood and apples lingers mysteriously around him. The fingers trail lower, dancing over his chest and slipping under his shirt. Chuuya arches against the caress, yearning, pliant, heat searing in his face as he parts his lips in a breathless moan. His lashes flutter open, the image of his lover hovering above him, distorted and hazy, but Chuuya adores the silhouette all the same.

 

One moment, he is slotting himself against the firmness of that body, feverishly seeking the taste of familiar lips, the ephemeral scent that lulls him lovingly. The next moment, his thighs are parted wide and trembling as he is filled gently. His whole body melts under skilled hands that play him like an instrument, drawing out the sweetest sighs and deepest moans.

 

Chuuya feels horribly enamored by the careful ministrations, but all of it changes in a heartbeat when his lover pulls out suddenly, leaving him achingly empty as he is flipped onto his hands and knees. The protesting sound dies in his throat the moment he is thrusted into again, harsh and raw. Lust boils feverishly in his chest, a low growl escapes his bared teeth as his body rocks against the pounding, their gentle lovemaking turned feral and visceral.

 

As he is forced down and displayed, taken harshly but oh so satisfyingly, his orgasm mounting blisteringly fast. Flashes of white blinds his vision, his lips part in a final moan, but only red poppies spill forth. He collapses against the petals, heaving and coughing as his body shakes in the afterglow.

 

Something swings at the edge of his vision, and when Chuuya blinks away the haze, he sees a blooming sakura tree, a noose swaying eerily from a branch.

 

***

 

The moment Chuuya jolts awake, he is immediately aware of the scent of sandalwood and apples clinging to him, and hovering right in front of his face is a hand reaching for him. He scrambles upright in bed, startling Dazai who throws himself backward to avoid the swinging punch.

 

“What the hell were you doing?” A sheen of sweat covers his skin, his heart racing with confusion as he stares at Dazai sitting guiltily on the floor. Dazai has no answer, but his eyes shine with something akin to uncertainty, and for a moment Chuuya thinks he sees his true self.

 

“Explain yourself or get the fuck out of my home.” He was being too generous. In any other circumstance, Chuuya would have thrown Dazai out without a word, but not before decking him in the jaw.

 

“I was testing something.” Dazai lifts his gaze, his eyes returned to a stagnant calm that discreetly gauges and calculates at every second.

 

“Testing what?” With his patience wearing thin, Chuuya takes a threatening step forward, but Dazai doesn’t even flinch. Instead, he holds out his hands and stares down at them in contemplation.

 

“Will you hold your hand out?” It’s an odd request, and Chuuya is just about finished entertaining this man, but the gaze Dazai fixes onto him is ominously dark, hinting at the severity of this moment. He holds out one hand, an exasperated breath escaping him, and watches as Dazai slowly takes it into his own hands.

 

His touch is feather light, barely corporeal even as he appears to press in with his fingers. Dazai’s brows furrow in concentration, and Chuuya is about to voice a harsh remark, until he is stunned into silence.

 

Dazai’s fingers slip right through his.

 

“Ah... I thought so.” A melancholy tone slips into Dazai’s voice, his eyes haze over in reluctant acceptance as he begins to explain, while Chuuya remains speechless.

 

“The truth is, Chuuya. Last morning, I took my own life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

A thousand thanks to Baguette for beta reading this chapter, and for this beautiful illustration! If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have the confidence to still be writing.

 

 

 

 

Another thousand thanks to Shao, who provided this gorgeous (but heartbreaking the more you look at it) illustration! 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Dazai Osamu.

 

Early twenties, died on the cusp of spring when life around him was just blooming, and no one had batted an eye.

 

Chuuya idly taps at his laptop with one hand while taking bites out of a croissant with the other, a page of notes on his recent guest taking up half of the screen, while several tabloids and news reports take up the rest.

 

Dazai had hanged himself in the early morning, his body was discovered among the sakura trees and hastily cut down, leaving the severed noose hanging as he was ushered away. There was no identification on him, no one knew who he was, and his death was given hardly a brief mention in online news feeds. If Dazai hadn’t specifically pointed out the time and details of his own death, Chuuya would have never found the information.

 

As Chuuya digs further to find other details about his guest, the sound of a rustling bag nudges his attention, drawing an irritated sigh from him.

 

“Why are you even trying? Can you even eat that?”

 

He raises his head to peer over the couch, where said guest was currently rummaging his hand into a bag of chips to pop one into his mouth, only for it to fall through his body and onto the cushions.

 

“Nope, but it makes me a little less bored.” Dazai responds with a mewling yawn to emphasize.

 

Over the very brief but seemingly lengthy span of four days, Dazai had almost entirely shed his reserved demeanor and devolved into a lazy slob, leaving Chuuya’s apartment in near shambles. Impressing, considering how Dazai’s interaction with the tangible world is severely limited.

 

“Maybe if I try a little harder...” He pops yet another chip into his mouth and manages to chew it with great effort, his disgustingly attractive face scrunching up in concentration as he swallows, only for the crumbs to slide straight out of his throat.

 

“Oi, how about you be productive and try to recall some more details about yourself.”

 

His command is met with a whining groan as Dazai rolls over on the couch and drapes his arms over his eyes. Not only had Chuuya somehow acquired a ghost as a house guest, but this ghost just so happened to be an amnesiac ghost.

 

“If we don’t figure out why you’re here and appease your ailing soul or whatever, you’ll never be able to pass on.”

 

“Is that your logic?”

 

Chuuya lifts his head to glance at Dazai, his breath unconsciously catches when he sees the gleaming amber of his eyes peeking through his forearms. There is something grim and unamused in his expression, with the way his lips quirk into the slightest frown.

 

“Fine then. Ask away.”

 

“Do you have any regrets about your life?”

 

“None.”

 

“Did you have any dreams or aspirations.”

 

“None.”

 

“Any loved ones?”

 

“.... None.” The slight pause makes Chuuya shift uncomfortably, because he can unfortunately relate to that uncertain loneliness.

 

“Do you remember where you lived or worked at all?”

 

“Nope... Actually...” A flicker of a memory presents itself from the haze of Dazai’s mind, and as he perks up on the couch Chuuya raises an inquisitive eyebrow at him.

 

“I lived in an apartment not too far from the crosswalk you always pass through. It’s a short walk from he-” Before Dazai finishes the last syllable, Chuuya is already snapping his laptop closed and tossing it into his bag.

 

“Ah- Are we actually going there?” Dazai’s head turns to follow him as he swiftly heads towards the door with a serious set to his expression.

 

“I only have Sundays off, so whatever we need to do, I’d rather get it done today.”

 

“Fufu... Are you that eager to know more about me? You could have just asked me on a date.”

 

The teasing tone of his voice nearly makes Chuuya snap a crude remark at him, until he realizes that he was likely overreacting to a bit of harmless flirting. It almost felt as if... he remembers that annoyingly coy voice, as if his irritation is a reflex trained by habit.

 

The thought dissipates into the misty air when Chuuya steps out of the house.

 

***

 

“This area is... sketchy, to put it mildly.” In more direct terms, Chuuya would liken the neighborhood they were in the middle of as a complete trash heap. It’s honestly surprising that anyone would let their streets become so cluttered with junk, or try to live in an apartment complex that teetered on the verge of collapsing.

 

“The walls are peeling...” Chuuya flashes a quick grimace and picks at a loose piece of yellowing wallpaper, the rest of the building sits in a similar dilapidated state. Beside him, Dazai merely keeps an unsurprised gaze, as he has seen these same walls over and over. They traverse further down the walkway, passing by a couple haggard looking residents who barely nod to Chuuya in polite acknowledgment, and completely pass through Dazai with only a slight shiver from the sudden chill.

 

By the time they reach the door to Dazai’s previous residence, Chuuya shifts on his feet with hands in his pockets, realizing that they had no keys. He hadn’t exactly thought this through, but Dazai tilts his head and peers over Chuuya’s shoulders with a quick remark.

 

“The door should be unlocked.”

 

Upon giving the doorknob a twist, Chuuya finds that his ghostly guest was correct and clicks his tongue in disapproval.

 

“Reckless...”

 

The air inside is horribly stagnant with the barest rays of sunlight peeking through crooked blinds, a thin film of dust seems to cling to every surface, making Chuuya wonder if this hovel had really been lived in. As if to answer his unspoken question, his foot knocks against an empty take out box and a sake bottle, their silhouettes little more than lumps in the darkness. When he flattens his hand against the wall and feels for the light switch, he discovers that the bulb had long burnt out.

 

All the while Dazai hovers silently behind him, oddly solemn as his amber eyes take in the degenerate lifestyle he must’ve led. There is no embarrassment or shame in him, only unsurprised acceptance, as if he had long given up.

 

“I was expecting to discover something personal to you, perhaps a journal of some sort, but...” Chuuya scrunches his nose as he kneels in front of a stained futon and picks up the only item that suggest any personality in this home, a manual about suicide with red covers and bold writing.

 

When he stands up again, his shoulders stiffen at the solid firmness of Dazai’s chest pressing into his back, a pair of bandaged arms wrap loosely around his shoulder. Dazai is cold to the touch, tangible but just barely, as though he might slip through at any moment.

 

“Chuuya...” The faint murmur of his voice is soft, the last syllable of his name breaks into a vulnerable whisper. Chuuya doesn’t respond immediately, and Dazai does not continue, but there is something in the way he slumps, the way he remains so still when his body desperately tries to tremble that feels so familiar. He knows this feeling... as well as the atmosphere that hangs like a heavy burden in this broken down home.

 

Loneliness.

 

“Do you ever get the feeling that you were fated for something? More specifically, someone?” It’s an odd question, coming from someone who no longer has the right to long for a hopeful future. When he doesn’t answer, Dazai presses his forehead against the nape of his neck and continues.

 

“As if there were a red thread tied around your little finger like a promise... And every time you pass the crosswalk-”

 

“You feel it tugging at you, but you only ever catch a glimpse of that person when you look?” Something sinks in Chuuya’s chest as he finishes Dazai’s thought, it’s a dreadful realization that they both feel, and all of it could be summarized in just three words.

It’s too late.

 

They remain silent about the implications, choosing to ignore that under different circumstances, they might have been each other’s fated person to feel the missing void that had always been there, until Dazai offers yet another question, a request.

 

“Chuuya, I think I know how I can pass on, will you help me?” Dazai turns his head and rubs his cheek against the back of his neck, lips pulling down into a pout.

 

“How will I do that?”

 

“Fall in love with me.”

 

“Ha?” Chuuya nearly elbows the ghost off him, his teeth baring in a scowl, but his arm merely passes through Dazai, that annoying smirk now resting on his lips.

 

“You wanna pass on so badly? I’ll slam your soul into Hell myself!”

 

“Chuuya’s reactions are the best as always ~” He sings teasingly and reflexively sidesteps the swipe Chuuya throws his way, and in the moment, neither of them realize how familiar they are with each other’s words and habits.

 

“However, my request is earnest. If you could provide me what I felt was lacking in my life, perhaps it would ease my soul enough to pass on.”

 

Chuuya fixes him a steady gaze, because despite meeting his lingering guest only a few days ago, he can tell that Dazai is lying through that dashing smile of his. He has no desire to move on, Chuuya doubts that he even believes in an afterlife, and yet here he is asking for a romantic relationship.

 

It’s like he’s trying to rectify a mistake from a thousand lives past.

 

“Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, I’m having none of it.” The redhead finally responds, but regret immediately washes over him and shows in the blue of his eyes.

 

“.... Although, if you want to address the loneliness you felt in life, I could help with that.”

 

The smile that lights up Dazai’s face seemingly brightens the room, even if he had been essentially rejected.

 

“So, friends with benefits?”

 

“More like, partners.” Yes, he likes the sound of that, and already the hole that had always been present in his heart begins to fill with… something.

 

“Alright then, partner .” Dazai sidles against him and skitters his dexterous fingers up the curve of his waist, then allows Chuuya to shove him away, an unconscious smile growing on the redhead’s face.

 

***

 

It feels as though… he’s become addicted to this falling sensation, as though he could plummet through the skies forever, as long as those hands are wrapped around his, as long as a promise of eternity together ties them together in the form of a red thread.

 

To his dismay, their eternity abruptly stops, and Chuuya finds himself jolting upright in a pitch black void, his heart racing a staccato rhythm to the sound of a ticking clock. All around him,

broken gears spin and lock together, he is in a familiar place, and before him stands…

 

The man he has always loved, the man he has all but forgotten, but his heart still aches with this longing sensation. Dazai takes him by the hand and draws him to his feet, holding him flush against his chest, the gentle caress of his fingers slide up Chuuya’s neck and tangles in his hair. His heart beats frantically like a hummingbird as Dazai’s lips trace his jawline, the feather light touches make his lashes flutter in delirium.

 

He reaches a hand up to press it against Dazai’s chest, only to meet the sharp prick of thorns. A maleficent grin curves against the shell of his ear as Chuuya looks down in horror to see white bones in stark contrast against blood and burgundy roses.  

 

Chuuya panics, unable to comprehend if the pounding of his heart is fear or fervent love. Dazai’s lips press against his temple to murmur softly, and from the moment those loving words are whispered into his ear, Chuuya knows that he is already ensnared.

 

***

 

Dazai watches as Chuuya tosses in his sleep, his delicate face twisted in fearful uncertainty. The bed is large enough for the both of them, so he slides onto the edge and carefully caresses his hand against the redhead’s face, eliciting a quiet sound of discomfort.

 

“Sorry, Chuuya, I must be so cold to the touch.” Nonetheless, Dazai strokes his thumb against his cheek until a calm settles over him, his shoulders relaxing into a more restful sleep, yet his eyes still dance under his eyelids.

 

“You must have vivid dreams.” A longing sigh escapes him, and on the slightest whim, Dazai leans in and ghosts his lips over the shell of Chuuya’s ear, fighting the urge to kiss him dearly.

 

“I used to dream also…”

 

He used to dream of a life when they were together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lovely illustration for this chapter by Baguette!

Chapter Text

Dazai, despite being intangible most times, is surprisingly capable of pulling the greatest mischief in order to get what he wants, when seduction doesn’t work, of course.

 

“Chuuya… Even if you say no, you know this is happening, right?” His voice ghosts over Chuuya’s ear, sending shivers bordering on pleasure tingling down his neck, and once again he attempts to push Dazai away with a hand on his chest, but to no avail.

 

“Why are you even asking then?” From this proximity, with Dazai pinning him against the wall and looming over him, Chuuya can see every fine detail of his face, from the gentle curve of his smirk to the sultry fire dancing in his eyes. His breath catches in his throat when Dazai’s nimble fingers wrap around his tie to pull him forward, their lips dangerously close when Dazai answers in a seductive purr.

 

“Because it will be more fun if you say yes, partner.”

 

“.......” The horribly offended face Chuuya makes suddenly breaks Dazai’s facade as he sputters and bends over in laughter, his concentration slipping enough for Chuuya to phase right through and free himself.

 

“Say partner in that tone again and I’ll exorcise you with my fist. Now if you’re going to follow me to work, then hurry up. I’m leaving.”

 

Dazai makes a pleased hum and trails after Chuuya, faltering when the redhead slams the door in his face and locks it in spite.

 

“Chuuya… So hot-headed.” One of the perks of being dead is that he can stick his face through the door to pout at his partner’s retreating back.

 

For one reason or another, mainly due to his mounting boredom, Dazai had decided to follow Chuuya and watch the professor in action, even after numerous iterations that his job was really nothing entertaining, the opposite of it really.

 

When they arrive at his lecture hall, Chuuya voices his dissent while setting up his slides.

 

“Why do you even want to watch me lecture anyway. You could go anywhere.”

 

“Hmm, you’ll find out later, Professor Chuuya.” There is something oddly smug in the way Dazai floats up and perches on top of his podium, legs crossed and chin resting in his palm. Chuuya mutters something about annoying mackerel-eyed bastards when the students start pouring in, and prepares himself for the lecture.

 

Dazai eyes him expectantly as he breathes in, the well worn book in his hand flips open as he reads the page number and title.

 

“Le Dormeur du Val by Arthur Rimbaud.” The lilt of his accent spills forth in sweet notes as he recites a poem from his favorite author, his eyes shine with a passionate light that immediately has Dazai enraptured.

 

“C’est un trou de verdure, où chante une rivière,”

 

Chuuya closes his eyes and sees a green valley, where a river sings a tranquil melody, and the sunlight blankets hilltops in golden sprays.

 

“Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,”

 

A young soldier sleeps under the endless sky, stretched out in a sea of grass where the light falls upon him like gentle rain.

 

“Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme,”

 

The fragrant perfume of gladiolus blooms in the breeze, yet does not rouse him from his tranquil rest.

 

“Chuuya…”

 

A voice whispered into his ear jolts him from his daze, breaking the immersion, and suddenly that sun-graced valley is gone. The students remain silent, waiting expectantly for their professor to continue, but he is too distracted by the inquisitive fingers that dance up his waist as Dazai leans close.

 

“You asked earlier, why I wanted to follow you here.”

 

“Why…?” Chuuya asks despite the confused murmurs of the students. Dazai suddenly yanks his arm, twisting it against his back painfully, his voice drops to a dangerous growl as he presses his lips against the shell of his ear.

 

“So I can make you scream in front of every one of your students.”

 

Something lurches in his chest, blood immediately rushes to his face and straight to his groin, the searing knot of arousal suddenly coils in his stomach at the lascivious promise.

 

“Would you cry out and sing in front of them? Or will you bite your lip and swallow your moans as I pleasure you?”

 

His eyes flicker up when his students voice their concern, so Chuuya quickly rectifies the situation by yanking his arm from Dazai’s grasp and wincing to make it seem like he suddenly had a pinched nerve in his back.

 

“Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine;” He continues with a near furious tone, a far cry from the honeyed words he recited earlier. In front of him, Dazai floats forward and hums teasingly.

 

“Just kidding~”

 

“Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,” The words are spit out like a curse, making Chuuya feel immense regret for letting his irritation stain the words of Rimbaud.

 

“Tranquille-” He tries to choke out the last line, but now Dazai’s fingers are skittering up and down his stomach as he laughs diabolically. Chuuya chokes the urge to burst out in laughter or curses and sucks in a deep breath to finish the poem.

 

“Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit. Class is dismissed!” Chuuya slams his book down on the podium, shaking free of Dazai to take angry strides out of the lecture hall and leaving no explanation to his baffled students.

 

***

 

“Give me a bottle of your best wine.” Chuuya slaps his card down on the bar counter, nearly cracking the varnish from the force, and when he sees the frightened expression of the bartender, he clears his throat and tries to be more polite.

 

“...Please.”

 

“Order a whiskey for me, Chuuya.”

 

“Fuck off.”

 

“Hey Chuuya, do you want to see how far I can reach into your-”

 

“One whiskey for my partner here.” Chuuya quickly relents, far too done with Dazai’s bullshit for one night, and prays that he will sit there and behave for once. The bartender lifts a brow and glances to the seat beside him, and that’s when Chuuya realizes that not everyone has a ghost as a housemate.

 

“A glass in memory of him. He… recently passed away.” The bartender nods in understanding, then prepares a fine crystal glass of whiskey and slides it to Dazai, who smiles in content and reaches in to idly tip his finger against the ice ball.

 

“Now you can talk to me without drawing attention.”

 

“I’d rather not talk to you at all right now.” Chuuya responds with a grunt and tips the wine glass to drain it in seconds, much to Dazai’s surprise.

 

“Chuuya~ You can’t be still mad, right? I apologized, and I’ll apologize again.” His ‘apology’ involves leaning into Chuuya and rubbing their cheeks together playfully, which only serves to irritate the redhead further.

 

“You ruined the lecture I was looking forward to giving the most! Arthur Rimbaud’s works deserve more than a botched recitement like that.”

 

“That poem about a sleeping soldier? There was hardly anything special or interesting about it.” Dazai’s hand waves dismissively, leaning back on the stool with a leisurely air as Chuuya growls lowly at him.

 

“Did you even listen to the last few lines? How does someone like you know French anyway?”

 

“It’s one of the things I picked up while I was bored, I vaguely remember using it to impress beautiful women.”

 

“Tch.” Chuuya sneers in distaste slumps against the counter to refill his glass, a pink flush already coloring his cheeks.

 

“He sleeps in the sun, his hand on his chest.” When his glass is filled with red wine again, Chuuya tips it back, downing it much too quickly without savoring its fine notes. His voice drops to a mournful pitch as he murmurs grimly.

 

“On his right side, are two crimson holes.”

 

A silence ensues. In that moment, neither of them look at each other, and Chuuya feels that Dazai now understands why he reveres this poet so much.

 

“Arthur Rimbaud was a libertine. He despised the war that ravaged so many lives around him.” Chuuya sets the glass down and nestles his face into his crossed arms, an emotion akin to grief for the dead soldier clings to his shoulders.

 

“Even the tranquil image of a soldier sleeping among flowers can be ruined by war. War spares nothing, not even the beautiful.”

 

“He was smiling.” Dazai says suddenly, garnering Chuuya’s attention.

 

 

“What are you saying?” The redhead sits up this time, wobbling in his seat from his very apparent intoxication.

 

“I just thought his death was beautiful, not only because of the field around him, or the sun kissed valleys, but also because he was free to pass on and be born into another life, a life where the world might not be as ugly.”

 

If Dazai’s licentious flirting aroused the most primal urges within Chuuya, then his thoughtful words right now pleased something deeper within his heart. For just a moment, Chuuya felt as though he could connect with Dazai as a partner.

 

“Che, you say all that but still you seem so reluctant to move on.”

 

A solemn smile graces Dazai’s lips. He stares at the counter, where the crystal glass scatters amber light across mahogany wood.

 

“I feel that there is nothing for me if I move on.” There is something so hopeless in Dazai’s voice, so nihilistic in a sense that he could fade away right now and not a single soul would care. Perhaps it was the alcohol in his system heating his blood, but Chuuya feels irrationally furious.

 

“Oi, what do you even have to lose by moving on. Your life was nothing but a degenerate’s fever dream. The next life can only get better.” His voice raises to a reprimand, one that dazai responds to with a wry scoff.

 

“No… I fear that it will stagnate for an eternity.”

 

“So you’re going to haunt me forever?” Annoyance is clear on Chuuya’s face, also evident by the twitching of his brow. In that second, the bartender steps out for a break, leaving them alone, which opens up an opportunity for Dazai.

 

“That’s the plan~” He sings teasingly, scooting in close to Chuuya and running his fingers up the redhead’s spine.

 

“I’ll torment you every single day, burn all your hats, smash your wine bottles, and ruin every lecture.”

 

“You think I would let you do that?!” Chuuya stands up aggressively, the fire in his veins igniting his temper.

 

“Heh, even if you tried, one day I’m going to die and leave you here to your nihilistic bullshit.” His lips quirk into a triumphant smirk, until Dazai suddenly latches onto his arm and yanks hard, sending him tumbling into his chest. His voice is a malicious whisper, a hiss laden with venom that makes Chuuya shudder against him.

 

“No, because I would drag your soul down from Heaven and keep you forever.”

 

His words are a fervent promise from the darkest reaches in his heart, and for just a second of uncertainty, Dazai wonders why he feels as if he would truly commit such a blasphemous sin. This has exceeded far beyond teasing, or even harmless bickering, and if Dazai still had a beating heart, it would be on the verge of exploding.

 

Chuuya doesn’t even respond with words, instead he throws a fist at the ghost, clipping him against the cheek. Dazai winces at strike and steps backward, untangling himself from Chuuya. With his crutch gone, Chuuya loses balance and collides against the stool, but the redhead quickly drags himself up to throw another punch.

 

“Chuuya-”

 

“Shut the hell up!” He swings recklessly, throwing his weight around and missing every strike, his eyes shadowed beneath a red flush.

 

Dazai is uncertain of what to do. He feels as if he’s been in this situation before, even if this isn’t the first time he’s seen Chuuya in this state, and when the drunken redhead launches himself forward again, Dazai reflexively catches his fist and pulls him close.

 

Their lips collide in a messy clack of teeth, Chuuya tastes blood on his tongue, and then, a familiar sweetness. His muscles stiffen at the wet intrusion, but he doesn’t hate it, nor does he understand why he desires more of it. Their tongues intertwine, Chuuya is aggressive in his advances and Dazai is skilled, stroking each sensitive spot as he explores every inch of him.

 

Unknowingly, Chuuya hitches his knee onto Dazai’s hip, pressing their groins together as they hiss through their teeth, the searing heat sending shivers up their spine.

 

Dazai is the first to pull away, but Chuuya leans back up to mash their lips together, demanding entrance which Dazai gives graciously. He’s cold… but Chuuya feels as if he couldn’t get enough, the flush of intoxication on his cheeks swiftly becomes one of arousal as he moans deeply.

 

Then, Chuuya realizes exactly what he is doing, and shoves the ghost away with a disgusted growl. He stumbles out of the bar while Dazai stands there speechless.

 

The ghost follows him shortly after, brows stitched together as Chuuya staggers around, clearly not in a state to walk himself home.

 

“You should call someone to take you home.” Dazai suggests, but his voice is unamused at the redhead’s state, especially because he cannot place why they had done such a thing, and why it felt so right.

 

Chuuya makes a dismissive grunt and waves his arm, inadvertently losing balance and falling down a grassy slope by the river. A splash echoes in the night, followed by Dazai’s exasperated sigh.

 

***

 

He remembers the sensation of cold raindrops and pastel colors blending into each other. He remember opening his eyes to a grey sky, rumbling softly with gentle showers.

 

He remembers… the metallic scent of blood…

 

A scarlet pool slowly grows around him, staining the innocent petals of hydrangeas.

 

How many times has he died this way?

 

***

 

Chuuya startles awake with a jolt, the image of pale blue and violet petals still imprinted in his vision. Water ripples around him, and for a second Chuuya believes that he is still lying in the bed of hydrangeas, but when he sits up with a wet slosh, he realizes that he is sitting in the bank of a river.

 

The surface of the water is scattered with fallen sakura blossoms, pink petals fall from his hair as he looks around in a state of confusion. A groggy haze still lingers in his mind when a voice calls out to him.

 

“It’s about time you woke up.” Dazai is crouching at the riverbank, cheek resting in his palm as he stares dully at Chuuya.

 

“Where-” Chuuya scrunches his eyes and hisses, his cutoff question coming out in slurred syllables.

 

“Did I-” A fragment of a memory flits through his mind, the slight taste of blood, a sweet warmth on his tongue, and soft lips against his.

 

“Hmm?” Dazai leans in, suddenly gloved hands are grabbing his collar, and when he falls forward, Chuuya catches him with his lips.

 

There it is again, that nostalgic sensation, easing him into a blissful state as he coaxes Dazai into a sensual kiss. When he draws back with a sated gasp, he is sure that he did indeed kiss Dazai last night.

 

“Fuck.” Well there goes any semblance of distance he has been trying to maintain between his ghost partner. Oddly enough, Dazai is silent, but leans forward to offer a handful of white lilacs.

 

“What’s this?” Chuuya takes the flowers and scrutinizes their pure white petals.

 

“An apology of sorts. There were a lot of things I said and did yesterday that were out of hand.” The guilty admission nearly fades into an incoherent mumble, as it was difficult to expose his own fault.

 

The erratic behavior he displayed yesterday… He feels it was a product of his own uncertainty. While Dazai lacks the majority of his memories, the threats he made last night felt awfully… real, as if he were fully capable of acting on them. As fun as it is to tease Chuuya, Dazai feels reluctant to truly hurt him.

 

What sits like a heavy curse in the back of his mind is, he now knows he is entirely capable of it…

 

“Do you forgive me?” Dazai asks in a quiet plea, and as Chuuya gazes down at the lilacs in contemplation, the sun begins to rise behind them, painting the sky a brilliant gold.

 

The way Chuuya looks right now, with sakura petals clinging to his hair and wet droplets gleaming in the morning’s first light, Dazai feels the emptiness in his heart become just a little more bearable. His fingers reach up unconsciously to pick away the petals, an endearing gesture that has Chuuya lifting his face to captivate him with crystal eyes.

 

At last, Chuuya makes a dismissive scoff, his form of forgiveness, and stands up to greet the new day with Dazai by his side.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Baguette for the illustration! Please show them some love for all their hard work!

 

 

 

 

 

A big thanks to Alice for this beautiful gift! I missed your art so much!

Chapter Text

On most nights, Dazai simply watches over Chuuya as he sleeps. On nights when his memories resurface as muddled colors blending together, Dazai dreams.

 

He dreams of a sky on fire, of glittering ashes scattered across painted clouds, and of a time when his heart soared to lofty heights. In that dream, Dazai cannot tell the difference between falling out of an endless sky and falling madly in love.

 

***

 

“I used to love someone.” Dazai states one Saturday morning, his gaze absently fixed on a window where Yokohama bay could be seen in the distance. Across from him, Chuuya raises a brow inquisitively, a simple breakfast croissant half eaten in his hand.

 

“It was someone hotheaded, there was not a single person who could push them to do anything. When I first saw them, I knew that I wanted every part of them.” The memory is a lucent grey beacon in the fog of his mind, and Dazai clings to it as if it were a north star.

 

“I can’t imagine you actually managed to get together with them.” It’s snide remark, brutally honest, but one Dazai fully deserves for the degenerate lifestyle he led in this life. The only thing is, Dazai isn’t even sure if this memory is from his previous life, or one before that.

 

“As a matter of fact, I did get together with them!” His tone comes off as indignant, although it feels more playful than anything to Chuuya.

 

“Not by fair means, I’m assuming.” Good looking or not, Chuuya cannot imagine anyone who would want to date someone like Dazai, but while the remark is meant to harmlessly tease, Dazai suddenly becomes stricken with quiet melancholy. His expression softens into something akin to remorse, and Chuuya cannot help but stare.

 

“No… I stole their loyalty, and still they gave me everything, their body, their soul, and in the end... they gave me their life.” Something coils tightly in his gut, a sleeping demon that rouses at his distress. Dazai knows that his words only hold truth, but if asked to elaborate, he wouldn’t even be able to recall what that person looked like.

 

“... They died for you?” Chuuya inquires cautiously, knowing that he is touching upon a sensitive topic now.

 

“Their life was taken, unfairly so, and I was unable to prevent it.”

 

“...........” When there is nothing left to say, and awkward silence stagnates the air, both silently agree to move on with the morning as usual.

 

For Chuuya, his mundane morning has become more than entertaining, if not absolutely infuriating at times, but he always manages to find himself smiling unconsciously. While brushing his teeth, Dazai likes to stand beside him and make amusing faces at him, often earning him a scolding or a battle of flinging around toiletries.

 

At the start of their relationship, Dazai had little to no filter when it came to flirting, and nearly came off as malicious, but ever since their fight at the bar, he has toned it down to a much more acceptable level. Now, Chuuya is even comfortable changing in front of the ghost, although Dazai often snags a piece of garment and runs off with it. If a neighbor were to spy on him, they would find the redhead running around his apartment chasing a flying sock.

 

“You’re the reason I’m always late.” Chuuya grumbles on his way to work as the ghost floats behind him.

 

“Hmm?” Dazai is awfully vacant in his answer, when there would usually be a teasing remark, but Chuuya quietly brushes it off. When they arrive at the crosswalk, Dazai suddenly lands on his feet next to him and nudges his fingers with the back of his hand, at which Chuuya quirks a brow at the request.

 

“What, are you a child?” The redhead doesn't know whether to be amused or judgmental, and considers denying him, but when he reaches deep down within himself, he knows that rejection will only worsen Dazai’s brooding mood, and he doesn’t… he just doesn’t want that.

 

Turning his head with a scoff, Chuuya concedes and reaches to clasp Dazai’s hand in his own, sharing his warmth as their fingers lace together. He doesn’t need to look to know that Dazai is smiling warmly, and despite the heat that rises to his cheeks as they cross the road, he feels something settle within him, something he cannot quite place. Still the uncertainty is thrilling in a way, and how Dazai’s hands squeeze tighter while they still avoid each other’s gaze fills him with more warmth than he knows what to do with.

 

The walk to his office has never felt so short, and when they finally arrive, Chuuya awkwardly hovers at the door, unwilling to let go, but also needing to take out his keys. When the silence extends for far too long, Dazai finally slips his hand away, but not before pressing a gentle kiss behind his ear.

 

Chuuya nearly slaps himself in the face to shake himself from the sudden onslaught of emotions that course through him, ranging anywhere from embarrassment and shock to fatal attraction and something entirely foreign to him. What really shakes him out of his near daze is the low chuckle from Dazai, because apparently the ghostly bastard finds his flustered state amusing.

 

“Tch.” Quickly scoffing off whatever heart-throbbing sensations he felt earlier, Chuuya unlocks the door to his office and slams the door in Dazai’s face.

 

***

 

Of course, a closed door has never stopped Dazai, and between lectures Chuuya spends the day in his company quietly working at his desk, and oddly enough the ghost leaves him to it, opting to sit backwards on a chair where he could stare out the window. It’s a little strange, not having Dazai draped over his shoulders while he works, and on occasion Chuuya nearly asks him if anything is bothering him, stopping only because the ghost seems so deep in contemplation.

 

Eventually, Atsushi pops in during lunch to help him with grading, bringing his own stack of lunchboxes full of chicken and rice.

 

“Chazuke again?” Chuuya teases with a smirk as Atsushi borrows his coffee maker for hot water.

 

“It’s simple, filling and I can make lots of it.” His student smiles sheepishly and glances down at Chuuya’s own lunch, a couple protein bars that hardly counts as a better lunch than chazuke, but Atsushi knows better than to lecture his own professor.

 

When Chuuya gets his usual lunch routine with Atsushi going, he finds it much easier to forget about the brooding ghost in the room while grading assignments between brief conversations with his student. That is, until halfway through their lunchtime when Chuuya dares a glance in Dazai’s direction.

 

What he’s greeted with is an unblinking stare. It’s unsettling, how a shadow seems to shroud Dazai’s face, and knowing how immature the ghost can get, Chuuya has an idea what has him so miffed.

 

No doubt, Dazai is jealous.

 

So in response, Chuuya decides to have a little revenge for all the teasing Dazai has put him through.

 

The redhead turns his head back to Atsushi, pointedly ignoring Dazai to have an animated conversation with his student, even shifting his posture to lean in and appear more attentive. Atsushi, picking up on his sudden vibrancy, lights up and drops the subject of grading papers in favor of an enthusiastic discussion on literature.

 

From the corner of his eye, Chuuya can see Dazai bristling at becoming the third wheel in the room, despite being literally invisible, and a feels of guilty triumph wells up in his chest. Throwing a smug face in Dazai’s direction, Chuuya returns to his conversation with Atsushi, but what Dazai does in retaliation is far from expectation.

 

The ghost stands up wordlessly and strides straight in Chuuya’s direction, walking through his desk to plop himself directly onto the redhead’s lap.

 

“Gh-” Chuuya jolts in his chair and leans back at the sudden intrusion, much to Atsushi’s concern.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“Y-Yes, there was just something in my face.” A faceful of Dazai, that is. A quiet curse slips out of him as the ghost shifts and wiggles in his lap like the most comfortable cat. This time it’s Dazai’s turn to smirk while Chuuya tries to be discreet as possible with a full grown man sitting on him. He attempts to play it smooth and pick up the conversation with Atsushi, only to have Dazai leaning in far too close, close enough to press his infuriating smirk against Chuuya’s neck.

 

Chuuya's mouth hangs open in mid sentence, his words snagged straight from his lips as Dazai teasingly trails soft lips over his own. He stutters again, this time Dazai flicks a tongue over his bottom lip, a hungry growl rumbling in his throat.  

 

Thankfully, Atsushi picks up on his discomfort and returns to diligently grading papers, leaving Chuuya to shift uncomfortably and act nonchalant. When the lunch period is over, Atsushi excuses himself with a polite bow and a smile, one that Chuuya returns with a twitching grin laced with irritation.

 

When the door clicks shut, Chuuya flails in his seat to throw the ghost off.

 

“Really?! You’re going to drop yourself right onto my lap in front of my student?!”

 

“It was  your  fault Chuuya, for purposefully ignoring me like that.” The infuriatingly perfect curve of Dazai’s lips purse into a pout as he slides his arms over Chuuya’s shoulders and presses their chests together, looking the redhead right in the eyes.

 

“You know I can get… possessive.”

 

“Is that supposed to be some kind of ghost pun? Can you even possess people?”

 

“I don’t know, let me try.” A set of nimble fingers skitter up Chuuya’s waist, right where he is most sensitive.

 

“Oi! Don’t you dare!” The redhead throws himself to the side to escape, nearly toppling out of his chair in the process. In that moment, he hears the brightest laughter from Dazai, cheerful, amused, and so wholesome that he feels his heart soar to the sky.

 

“Chuuya, you are too fun to play with.” Dazai smiles warmly at him, still shaking with little fits of laughter, and while Chuuya feels the heat of embarrassment rise to his cheeks, he would be a fool to deny that seeing the ghost acting carefree again made him incredibly relieved.

 

From that point on, Dazai drops his brooding demeanor and enjoys a companionable quiet with his partner, until the sun hovers low on the horizon through Chuuya’s window.

 

“Chuuya, I want to sleep in your bed tonight.” Dazai asks suddenly on their walk back home, and for whatever reason, Chuuya is hardly surprise and doesn’t feel adverse to the suggestion in the slightest.

 

“Ha? Are you that childish that you need someone to sleep with you?”

 

“Hmm, I’ve been rather depressed lately.” The surprisingly honest admission catches Chuuya off guard, and what’s more concerning is how casually it was stated.

 

“...About what?” The redhead asks cautiously, and in response Dazai leans in to bump their shoulders together, leaning his head in to brush his cheek against Chuuya’s hair. His gaze is fixed somewhere far away, as if he might fly away to somewhere distant at any moment.

 

“Memories… and dreams. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference anymore.”

 

“You’re slowly remembering your life?”

 

Dazai nods against him, his eyes flitting to different places occasionally as he tries to sort out the mess in his head.

 

“I remember living a decrepit life, a lonely one in that apartment we went to. I also remember having dreams of someone I loved more than anything, dreams so vivid that sometimes I question the reality around me.” Something falters in his voice, a break of uncertainty that betrays how lost he feels. Chuuya remains silent, not knowing how to respond to such a thing.

 

“Ah… They’re just jumbled pieces anyway. I’m sure it’ll all make sense sooner or later.” What he doesn’t tell Chuuya is, he wishes he didn’t remember…

 

“.... Fine, I’ll let you sleep in my bed tonight.” Chuuya finally relents, if only to break the solemn atmosphere, and in response, Dazai smiles gratefully.

 

***  

 

Once Chuuya readies himself for the night, he slides himself onto the bed and makes himself comfortable, all the while Dazai is hovering on the edge of the bed expectantly. The redhead shoots him an irritated look before clicking his tongue and lifting the edge of his blanket up in invitation. In the next second, Dazai is sidling up against Chuuya, pressing himself as close as possible with a cat-like smile.

 

Chuuya’s first thought is how cold the ghost is with his arms around him, like ice sending prickles up his back, but Dazai hums contently and nuzzles into his neck.

 

“Chuuya… You’re warm.”

 

“.........” Just a second ago he was entertaining the thought of pushing the ghost off him so he won’t freeze in his sleep. Now, as they lay there entangled in each other’s arms, Chuuya feels that a little chill is bearable if it means he can spare Dazai a little comfort.

 

“Good night, Chuuya.”

 

“Mm.” The redhead grunts in response and pulls the blanket over his chin, easily slipping into a dream a few minutes later. In the darkness of the room, Dazai holds him dearly, unblinking eyes gazing solemnly at the opposite wall.

 

“Rest well…”

 

***

 

As someone who has to wake up before the sun rises, Chuuya is quite accustomed to being woken unwillingly by chirping birds or an incessant blaring alarm. What he does not expect on this Sunday morning, the one and only day he actually gets to greet the daylight, is to be woken by a ghost with his head stuffed between his thighs.

 

“.... What the hell are you doing.”

 

The muffled response he receives sounds vaguely like some sort of guilty apology as Dazai shuffles under the covers to slide up and poke his head out, laying himself comfortably over Chuuya’s chest.

 

“I was trying to wake you up with a blowjob.” He explains with a smirk, despite the obvious fact that he failed in giving said blowjob. Ignoring the redhead’s exasperated sigh, Dazai leans in and sneaks a kiss right onto his chin.

 

“Turns out it’s really hard to do when everything slips right through you.”

 

“This is your attempt at initiating intimacy and you couldn’t even get my pants off?”

 

“I was kind of planning to do it through your pants…”

 

“.......” For just a tiny second, Chuuya tries to imagine exactly how that would work out, until he realizes that he’s entertaining the most ridiculous thought and slaps a hand over his face.

 

“I can’t believe we’re having a conversation about ghosts sucking dick in the morning…”

 

“Hmm? Would you prefer it if I woke you up in a different way?” The teasing smirk Dazai gives him is much too radiant for Chuuya’s groggy mind, so he closes his eyes to feign sleep and grumbles.

 

“Go on, I’ll give you another try.”

 

Dazai shifts on top of him, tentative at first, and Chuuya holds his breath in anticipation, expecting to be harassed in some way. What he feels instead is a gentle hand brushing the stray hairs off his forehead, and what follows is a voice so sweet that he feels a tingling ache in his heart.

 

“Chuuya, wake up.” The loving whisper coaxes him, dexterous fingers begin to twirl against his hair, and when Chuuya’s eyes remain closed, he feels a soft touch against his lips. Every fiber in his muscles stiffen, it takes everything in him to not open his eyes right there, because a frustratingly greedy part of him wants more.

 

Dazai kisses him tenderly, his hands slide down to cup his cheeks, drawing a heat to crawl up his neck and settle into a pink blush on his face. Finally, he opens his eyes, and Dazai draws back to lock gazes with him, his lips curved in a captivating smile.

 

For just a moment, he feels as though Dazai were a collapsing star, transient, inexplicably beautiful, and impossible to escape from.

 

“Good morning.” The smile turns playful in his small victory, showing the first spark of true happiness Chuuya has ever seen from him.

 

When his heart lurches achingly in his chest, Chuuya realizes with building dread that he is falling hard.

 

“I can accept your flirting, but now we’re treading in dangerous territory…” Chuuya knows, even without ever experiencing it, that once they have a taste of love, they could never go back. Suddenly, that light in Dazai’s eyes dies out and smolders, leaving them hazy and filled with a deep sadness.

 

It’s painful to see, and Chuuya wishes he could lie to make everything alright, to give life back to this dead man so that they may start over together, but that wasn’t the case.

 

“I know…” Dazai responds, his voice eerily calm, but the pain underneath cannot be hidden completely.

 

“I’m just addicted to pretending I’m in love.”

 

Because once upon a time, Dazai was loved.

 

“......” There’s a rift between them now, a cold distance despite how closely their bodies are pressed together, and eventually Chuuya simply sighs and gives in. His arms wrap around Dazai’s shoulders, holding him close, if only for this moment.

 

If Dazai wants to pretend, then he will allow it, and in turn, Chuuya will allow himself to feel whole again.

Chapter Text

At times, Dazai wishes that his memories would remain forgotten, that he could live in this stagnant afterlife with Chuuya forever.

 

However, with each passing day, the broken fragments in his mind keep piecing together. He doesn’t tell Chuuya when he recalls all the memories of his life before he died, but what frightens him more than anything are the memories reach further back, to a lifetime when the world was different.




***

 

“Chuuya.”

 

“Hmm?” The redhead turns around from his seat on the couch and throws his arms over the back. Dazai is staring at him, his eyes porous, seeping a heavy melancholy that suits his handsome features all too well.

 

“I think… I’m close to remembering everything.” His voice is tender and quiet, gravely so, but lately Dazai has been nothing but subdued. A few months ago, the ghost would share whatever snippet of memory returns to him day by day, but he has since grown reserved, as if he were guarding his restored memories jealously.

 

It feels like Dazai has remembered something awful and refuses to share it, but Chuuya never asks, never pries, because he feels that it would hurt Dazai too much to tell him.

 

“What happens when all your memories return?” Neither of them like to think about it, the horrible unknown is far too frightening, but their morbid curiosity is overwhelming. Dazai leans back in his seat at the kitchen table. For a moment Chuuya thinks that his lashes are gleaming like stars, until he sees the wetness welling up beneath them.

 

“Who knows. I don’t even know what I’d prefer. To be freed from this wretched existence or to stay here forever and pretend.”

 

What a foolish man…

 

Chuuya scoffs bitterly, unable to comprehend how a man can be so indecisive, especially one who thinks the world so horrendous, yet fears to leave it at the same time.

 

“Tell me, Chuuya, what do you think of the world?” Clearly Chuuya has a much different view of the world, otherwise he wouldn’t be so abrasive toward’s the ghost’s opinions. Dazai floats across the kitchen to drape his arms over the couch, peering at the redhead with intrigue.

 

“Of course I know it’s full of atrocities, but unlike you, I still find it worth living in. Beauty in adversity is undoubtedly the most poetic.”

 

“Hm, is that so?” The hum of amusement in Dazai’s voice is clearly mocking him, but Chuuya couldn’t care less what a dead man thinks of the world he’s abandoned.

 

Then, the ghost drifts towards him, sliding a hand to rest atop his. When Chuuya stares inquisitively into his eyes, he sees a tired hue longing for solace.

 

“Hey Chuuya, walk with me.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

The redhead shifts to look him up and down, trying to discern any ulterior motive, but Dazai reveals none of the sort, and instead leans in to murmur softly into his ear.

 

“Show me the beauty you see in this ugly world.”



***



The sun has already set by the time Dazai and Chuuya leave the house, just in time for the streetlights to flicker on and illuminate their path with an amber glow. It’s awkwardly quiet between them, because for all of Dazai’s sweet words and longing request, Chuuya could not come up with a single thing to show Dazai the ‘beauty of the world’.

 

So instead they travel aimlessly, occasionally peering at the stars above or listening to the city settling. At one point, Dazai’s hand reaches to clasp around his, and for that peaceful moment, Chuuya feels whole and content.

 

“So where exactly is my little Chuuya taking me?” Dazai inquires with a playful smile and begins to swing their arms back and forward childishly, so if anyone were to pass by they would see Chuuya seemingly throwing his arm around for no reason.

 

“You are so embarrassing…”

 

Dazai chuckles in response, his heart fluttering in the false pretense of happiness, and when they pass by a certain cafe, he suddenly yanks the redhead towards the side of the building.

 

“Oi! What do you think you’re doing-” Chuuya stumbles and struggles to keep himself upright as he is dragged forward into a running sprint. Suddenly, a garden of blue and lavender fills his sight. Behind the cafe, a bed of morning glories sits illuminated by the moonlight.

 

“I felt like I recognized this place.These flowers...” Dazai’s answer strays off towards the end, as if there was an afterthought lingering on his tongue.

 

“You dragged me here to look at flowers?”

 

No, there is something about this place that calls out to Dazai, something faded in his memories.

A grey sky blanketed in silvery clouds, his heart uplifted as the raindrops fall, then sinking despair as blue and violet petals become stained with blood.

 

The edge of the railing calls for him like a siren, drawing him past the morning glories to the very edge. Chuuya follows him warily, stepping gingerly past blue petals until he can peer over the railing, and what he sees is…

 

A sea of hydrangeas, swaying in the gentle breeze.

 

He’s seen this before, somewhere deep in his memory, a metallic taste tingles at the back of his tongue, and suddenly he’s falling. The world spins around him in a disorienting carousel as he tumbles down the steep slope of the hill, grunting and wincing as branches and rocks snag at him.

 

Finally, Chuuya rolls clumsily to a stop when he collides into the hydrangea bushes, his skull rattling and eyes crossed in a daze. From above Dazai’s voice calls out his name, sharp with worry, but as soon as Chuuya sits up with a hand on his head, bruised but otherwise unharmed, the ghost begins to laugh from atop the hill.

 

“Oh shut up!” Chuuya grits his teeth, tasting blood pooling in his mouth and spits onto the the bushes, staining the petals red.

 

Dazai is sliding to a stop next to him, having used the slope like a grassy slide, and while laughter still bubbles from his chest, Chuuya can tell that the stiff creases in his expression is thinly veiled concern.

 

“How did you even manage to fall over a fence?”

 

Having no answer, the redhead sits there and glowers at him, a bright flush of embarrassment colors his cheeks a bright red, creating an endearing image that Dazai cannot help but smile at.

 

Don’t. ” The pout on Chuuya’s deepens into a scowl when Dazai reaches for his face with two hands, expecting a tease or a jest, but instead the ghost cups his cheeks gently and strokes a thumb over his lip, drawing a wince. The cut at the bottom of his lip leaves it red and swollen, and when Chuuya takes a breath to question him, he feels a jolt of fluttering sparks when Dazai leans in and closes the space between them.

 

Dazai is cold as always, but the pressure of his fingers is so gentle, it feels as though he is barely there. It takes a moment between initial shock and the achingly familiar stirring in his chest for him to finally jerk away.

 

A red splotch stains the corner of Dazai’s mouth, and Chuuya can’t help but stare as they part in a playful chuckle before capturing him again. Their brief kiss remains sweet and innocent, the weight of Dazai on his lips so familiar that Chuuya feels a memory flitting in his mind, just out of reach, so he leans in to chase that sensation with a sigh.

 

Dazai’s hands sliding into his hair, the tenderness in his actions, the playful croon he makes when Chuuya parts for breath, only to find him again. Chuuya feels as though his heart might soar straight out of his throat.

 

Finally, they part as the clouds above them clear, revealing the gleaming stars against a beautiful midnight sky, but in that moment, Dazai would rather gaze at the stardust in Chuuya’s eyes.

 

The smile on the ghost lips grows into light laughter, but there is something terribly wrong with it.

 

“Gods… I feel like such a fool.” He’s laughing so feely, but he looks like he wants to cry.

 

“Living my life so miserably searching for something, only to finally end it all, when the person I’ve always been looking for is here right in front of me.”

 

The ache they feel is suddenly so heartbreaking, so unbearable, so Chuuya grabs Dazai by the collar and silences him with another lie against his lips.

 

The hydrangea petals beside them drip a dark red.



***



Sometimes, Chuuya wishes that they could remain as blissfully ignorant as they were when they first met. Now, nearly half a year into his odd life with his ghostly resident, Chuuya has become fully aware of how tragic their fates are.

 

Between the snatches of memories and vivid dreams, Chuuya is certain that Dazai was meant for him in a lifetime long passed, they both knew at this point. However, Chuuya is aware that his recollections are mere notions, silvery threads floating ungraspable in a foggy aether compared to the undoubtedly clear memories Dazai seems to recall.

 

Whatever those memories are… however horrible they may be, they seem to have turned Dazai into a man as capricious as the stormy grey sea.

 

It’s the soft kisses and murmured confessions that has Chuuya falling madly in love.

 

It’s the harsh growl and bared teeth pressed against his neck that has him reeling back in shock to tumble onto his office desk, backed pressed against varnished wood and scattered papers.

 

“Chuuya…” The name is hissed fervently against his skin, frustration etches shadows into Dazai’s face and lights his eyes with a dangerous fire. Whatever memory has wormed its way back into Dazai’s head sets him on edge, leaving anger boiling in his blood as he hitches the back of Chuuya’s knee onto his hip.

 

There is hardly room to retort once Dazai begins to rain possessive kisses against his neck, drawing fire to his veins and eliciting strained gasps from his lips. He rocks into Chuuya with a heated urgency, grinding against him and reaching his hands wherever they could grab, his thighs, his waist, his groin. The little protest Chuuya puts up comes in the form of wandering fingers that grasp at his sleeves, and when they become too much of a hinderance Dazai snatches up his wrists and pins them firmly against the desk.

 

For the briefest second, Chuuya is able to scowl up at Dazai and growl a warning question, even when his cheeks are flushed the prettiest pink and his breath escapes in short pants.

 

“What the hell are you doing?”

 

“I can’t stop seeing you, Chuuya.” Dazai entertains his question with a vague answer before diving back in to drag his teeth over Chuuya’s neck, rocking his hips up to meet the searing heat their contact makes.

 

“In my dreams.. My memories, every time I close my eyes-”

 

I see your smile.

 

I see your lips parting as you scream my name.

 

I see your glass eyes clouding over as you break.

 

Happiness, pleasure, pain, despair, the range of emotion he feels with Chuuya is uniquely different every time, leaving him confused and lightheaded. He wants nothing more than to partake in his flesh in the most carnal ways, to kiss him tenderly and tell him they can be together forever.

 

“Please, Chuuya… I want to see more of you.” The desperate plea is enough to send shivers up Chuuya’s spine, but he knows better than to give in to temptation so easily, no matter how sweetly it scents the air.

 

“Stop it… You’re in my office.”

 

“Hmm?” Amber brown eyes flicker up to stare at him with predatory hunger.

 

“No one has to see.” No one can see, Dazai makes the point clear when his fingers phase right through Chuuya’s shirt to slide a fiery trail up his skin. Chuuya hisses in protest, freeing his hands to grip at Dazai’s wrist futilely.

 

“If someone walks in on us…”

 

“Hush, don’t worry about that.” The ghost silences him leans up to slide a tongue over his ear, breathing a low sigh over it.

 

“Tch…” Irritation messily obscures the embarrassment in Chuuya’s expression as he turns his head to the side, attempting to relax in acceptance, only to gasp and buck upwards when Dazai slips a hand through his pants to stroke his growing hardness. Cold, calculating eyes track his every movement, every low whine as dexterous fingers stroke his length.

 

Then, when a curious finger slips lower to slide across his puckered entrance, Chuuya tenses and shoots a quick glare at Dazai, at which the ghost smirks darkly.

 

“What? Don’t tell me you’re a virgin.”

 

Chuuya wants to slap his hand onto Dazai’s face, but the swat is easily dodged.

 

“Do you even touch yourself here?” Of course he does, not so much since the ghost invaded his private life, but Chuuya is no stranger when it comes to sexual desires. Anything beyond that, however… The redhead flushes all the way up to his ears, knowing that by technicality, Dazai is right.

 

“If you’re gonna do it, just get on with it before I change my mind.”

 

“Hmm? After you were so reluctant just a moment ago? Very well.”

 

Chuuya is suddenly unpinned from the desk, only to have eager hands slide over his hips to drag him towards the chair on the other side, and suddenly his hands are pressed onto the surface, bent over for the ghost to marvel at. How is this even going to work?

 

“I’m going to enjoy taking your first time… Chuuya.”

 

In response the redhead throws a burning glower over his shoulder, but allows Dazai to nudge his legs apart to make space for the hand that reaches between them. He feels a middle and index finger nudging at his entrance through his clothes, and is hardly given time to react when Dazai pushes in, reveling in the surprised gasp that escapes him.

 

There’s a distinct lack of friction, and what pain he expects to feel is more of an uncomfortable pressure as Dazai stretches him easily, not quite corporeal, but present enough to pry him apart.

 

“Relax.” Dazai hums as he meticulously works his fingers, sliding his hands up and down the small of Chuuya’s back until the shivers die down to little trembles. Chuuya squirms and bites his lip, obediently willing himself to relax as he reaches for the back of his thigh and spreads himself for Dazai.

 

The tightness around his fingers ease up until Chuuya feels wonderfully soft, and when he pulls away, the redhead folds his arms and buries his head in them, begrudgingly shy and embarrassed.

 

He knows what’s coming, but doesn’t know what to expect when he feels Dazai’s hard length nudging at his entrance, so he braces himself. What happens next is a loving whisper against the back of his neck.

 

“Be good for me, Chuuya.” A gentle push follows, parting him open wider and wider until his knuckles are white from gripping at the desk’s edge, his lips part into a soundless gasp as the uncomfortable pressure from before multiplies tenfold.  

 

“Ngh-...”

 

“Gods… You’re so tight around me.” A hand slides over his hip to stroke over his cock, comforting him and igniting the first sparks of pleasure as Dazai eases further into him. His legs tremble, giving in and buckling when Dazai gives an experimental jerk to sheathe himself further inside Chuuya’s searing heat.

 

“Ah-!”

 

“There, there…” The ghost croons softly and grips one hip to lift him back up, the papers that were stacked so neatly on Chuuya’s desk threaten to spill over the edge. Gritting his teeth against the pressure, Chuuya slides his own hand down to cup over Dazai’s, urging him to stroke harder and distract him from the discomfort.

 

Slowly, ever so slowly, Chuuya’s body adjusts to the thick presence of Dazai’s cock inside him, melding to his shape until he can feel every twitch and pulse. Sensing Chuuya’s growing ease, he pulls back slowly like molasses, dragging his length through his walls to draw a delectable moan. When the redhead is barely stretched around his tip, Dazai grabs Chuuya by the wrists and tugs them backward, using the leverage to snap his hips forward.

 

A sharp white heat explodes within Chuuya, bordering on on pain and delicious pleasure that makes his toes curl and his legs tremble. His lips part in a soundless moan, and before he can catch himself from the reeling sensation, Dazai rocks forward and begins a pace of quick thrusts that slams his hips against the desk rhythmically.

 

Without the distraction of Dazai’s hand on is cock, Chuuya is forced to focus on the sensation of Dazai slamming in and out of him, growing more relentless with each second. It’s new, foreign, and mind numbing, feeling his body rock harshly against the desk while his hardness strains against his pants, but at the same time Chuuya can’t help but become addicted to Dazai’s sensual moans.

 

Every so often, Dazai breaks his relentless pace to angle himself differently, and for a brief moment Chuuya wonders exactly what he is doing, until something inside him bursts like lightning, sending a spark of white heat through his nerves.

 

“F-fuck!” A slew of curses flies from the redhead’s lips as he tightens around Dazai, and through the fluttering aftershocks of pleasure he vaguely hears a low chuckle. Suddenly the grating pressure above his groin explodes into sharp flashes of pure ecstasy as Dazai lines himself perfectly, mercilessly thrusting against that sweet part inside him.

 

Chuuya doesn’t realise how passionately he’s moaning until Dazai leans into his back and laughs against his ear.

 

“That good, huh?”

 

Suddenly realising his mistake, Chuuya clamps his lips shut and stifles his moans, determined not to attract outside attention even as the pleasure wells up within him, threatening to cascade over. His shaking legs barely have any strength to them, the only thing keeping him from outright collapsing onto the table in a drooling mess is Dazai’s hand clutching his hip.

 

“Dazai- I’m-” He feels the familiar sensation of a mounting orgasm in his cock, his wrists strain and twist against Dazai desperately in a desire to stroke himself to completion. Just as he is about to release one final cry with stars flashing in his eyes, a knock against his door kills his ecstacy and sends his heart into a panic.

 

“Nakahara-sensei?” The familiar voice of one of the university staff members beckons him, and suddenly Chuuya remembers that Tachihara is supposed to meet him today.

 

“Shit-” The frenzy of movement that ensues causes a great deal of noise, and through the opaque glass of his window Chuuya sees a silhouette shifting.

 

“Come in.” He responds, voice a near perfect calm despite Dazai’s length still very hard and very excited inside him, his only blessing is that the ghost had the decency to still himself.

 

Tachihara enters the office carrying a folder for whatever they were about to discuss, Chuuya can hardly think clearly right now with his balls still straining for release. Immediately Tachihara notices how Chuuya’s face is flushed red with a sheen of sweat, and how his hair and clothes are in a particular state of disarray, giving off the striking image of a man thoroughly fucked.

 

“Uh… Is everything okay?” Lacking any social grace, Tachihara raises a brow at his state, obviously confused and curious, but Chuuya waves it off, discreetly glancing down to make sure that his desk is covering his erection from where he stands.

 

“Just a little stuffy in here.”

 

“Ah… Is it?” The room is hardly warm, but Tachihara can’t exactly question it when Chuuya is standing there practically panting.

 

“I’ll open a window.” He offers, walking off to the side of the room and giving Chuuya a brief moment of reprieve to sit down, which involves a slight complication considering who is still inside him. Chuuya gingerly lowers himself onto the seat, biting back a low groan as he feels Dazai’s length seat itself even deeper inside him to slide against his most sensitive spots.

 

Dazai is pressed against his back when Tachihara returns to the table to begin their discussion, although at this point Chuuya is working on autopilot and hardly registers the words coming out of his mouth. An amused hum beside his ear catches his attention, Dazai is observing Tachihara with a discerning eye.

 

With the way Tachihara’s eyes tend to flick to Chuuya’s exposed collar, then trace the curve of his swollen lips, Dazai finds it painfully obvious what the man thinks of Chuuya.

 

“When did you notice that your little coworker here has a crush on you?” Dazai murmurs against his ear while Chuuya attempts to stay focused on the conversation. Then, the ghost presses his fingers against the small of his back and phases through, sending a surprised shiver up his spine.

 

Chuuya can hardly believe it, his lips freeze mid-speech as he feels Dazai reach inside him to wrap a hand around his own cock and stroke it. He can feel it inside him, not quite stretching his walls but caressing them to the same rhythm, sending fresh waves of pleasure through his body.

 

“Uhm…” Tachihara clears his throat awkwardly, snapping Chuuya back to attention.

 

“My apologies-... Can we continue this some other time? I’m feeling under the weather.” Just as the excuse leaves his lips, he feels Dazai stiffen against his back, moaning into his ear. Chuuya fights the urge to wince as the ghost reaches his orgasm, expecting a wet spill inside him but only feels the twitching of his cock.

 

“Ah. Sure?” Tachihara hesitantly stands and excuses himself, eyes still wandering over Chuuya’s disheveled form as he leaves. As soon as the door clicks shut, Chuuya scrambles desperately to pull his own hardness out of his pants to stroke himself, ignoring the show of indecency in his own office.

 

His hands are jerky, frantically building up to his own orgasm until he spills over his fingers, head rolling back as he gasps and bucks into his hand. As Chuuya rides the last waves of bliss, he feels Dazai pulling out of him slowly, making him shudder from sweet overstimulation.

 

Minutes later, Chuuya has himself draped over the windowsill with his head sticking outside to cool off, while Dazai lounges on his chair like the most satisfied cat.

 

“That was fun.” He purrs teasingly, and while Chuuya cannot deny that it was mind-blowing and exhilarating, he’s still rather miffed that Tachihara had to see him in such a state.

 

“Next time, find the decency to do that somewhere private.”

 

“Says the one who jerked himself off in his own office.” The ghost floats through the desk to give Chuuya a firm grope on the ass.

 

In the next second, Chuuya is grabbing the bastard by the collar to throw him out the window.

 

Between all the uncertainties and heartache of their time together, on days like this, Chuuya finds himself secretly grateful that his life is at least little more lively.

Chapter Text

He finally remembers them.

 

The days they would cherish together, the suffering they would bear until the sun sets, before one of them would meet a tragic fate. He remembers fighting against the one who put them in such a vicious cycle, tearing apart a demon pretending to be god in a broken dimension of stained glass and clock pieces.

 

He remembers falling, the sky above them breaking into gleaming shards alight with burning stars, and the world was remade anew as they shared a promise of eternity together. They should have been happy… They should have found each other again and lived a life without burdens, without heartaches.

 

He… He knows something is horribly wrong. They shouldn’t be like this, they shouldn’t be separated so cruelly.

 

***




“Chuuya.”

 

The redhead turns instinctively towards Dazai, having grown used to the ghost calling out his name for any and all reason. This time, Dazai is sitting at the kitchen table, eyes fixated on the loose sheets of paper scribbled with Chuuya’s poems and musings. Something heavy clings to his shoulders, Chuuya can tell that he wants to relieve that burden, if only the words didn’t cling so adamantly to his lips.

 

I know who we were in our past lives.

 

When the silence draws on for much too long, Dazai diverts his attention to the scattered poems instead, tracing a finger over the flourishing script until he finally finds another topic.

 

“This person who always appears in your poems, were they someone close to you?”

 

“You’ve been reading my poems for this long and you still can’t figure it out?” Chuuya turns around on the couch and narrows his eyes at the ghost, but Dazai finds it hard to meet his stare.

 

“Enlighten me, Chuuya.” Finally, Dazai lifts his gaze, but Chuuya finds a thin veil shrouding cold eyes, and behind them lingers a deep melancholy. He already knows the answer, but wishes desperately for Chuuya to say it with his own lips.

 

“Hmph.” The redhead huffs turns away, lifting his chin haughtily as he answers with closed eyes.

 

“Those poems have always been about the man I love.”



Once I believed love poems were foolish

 

Yet now i do nothing but dream about love



***





“Chuuya, can I tell you something?”

 

“Hmm?” As soon as he turns towards the coaxing voice, Chuuya feels a soft pair of lips press against his, sweet and balmy like the breeze that caresses his hair. Dazai pulls back with a smile and stands against the sunset, the light shines through him as it sinks low on the horizon.

 

He has forgotten that Dazai meant to tell him something, and in all honesty, the ghost couldn’t remember what he wanted to say either.

 

Those tender lips were just too captivating.

 

***





“Chuuya…”

 

Something awful clings to Dazai’s voice, something thick and dark that threatens to swallow up his words. The memories… are no better.

 

He remembers tightening his fingers around Chuuya’s neck, feeling the thrumming pulse under his thumb fade into stillness

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“What for?”

 

“............”

 

***





“Chuuya.”

 

“What is it?” Chuuya is busying himself at the kitchen table with a pen in his hand and a partially written poem sitting next to his coffee. At the moment, he is preoccupied with finding the right words to describe how Dazai’s eyes change so beautifully, from a warm glow of amber to a mahogany glint of mischief.

 

When Dazai does not continue, Chuuya repeats himself in case the ghost had not heard him.

 

“What?”

 

The silence drags on, igniting a spark of annoyance in Chuuya.

 

“Oi.” He turns around with a scowl on his lips, but the sight before him crumbles any building irritation, leaving rubble and dread.



Dazai stands across from him, eyes downcast and lips parted in shock. When he lifts his gaze, Chuuya could only describe their color as umber, darkened and opaque with despair.

 

He sees the ghost speaking, lips moving to articulate each word, but not a sound reaches his ears.

 

***



Chuuya knew, as well as Dazai, that their days are numbered. The home that had become so lively with banter and laughter is now stagnant with an air of waiting and the heavy weight of the inevitable.

 

Dazai is still as vocal as ever, even when his voice could no longer be heard. At some point, the ghost had acquired a journal that he carried around at all times to scribble his thoughts down whenever he wanted to speak. Chuuya vaguely recalls gifting Dazai the journal when he’d gotten fed up with finding messy scrawls on his work.

 

Every so often, Chuuya would hear the scratching of pen on paper before the journal is pushed in his direction.

 

Chuuya, I’m bored.

 

Chuuya, let’s go somewhere fun.

 

Chuuya, your hat looks especially tacky today.

 

“Can you find something to do other than harassing me?!” Chuuya snaps at him in irritation, scowling even more when Dazai smiles, because the ghost successfully captured his attention.

 

Occasionally, Chuuya would snatch the pen right out of the ghost’s hands to jot down an angry response, because sometimes, it felt too much like he was talking to himself.

 

As their days together marched on, the journal found more and more use, becoming well worn at the binding and dull at the corners. The pages curl every time Dazai flips them open, and one day a thought crosses Chuuya’s mind as he watches the ghost fill the paper with their conversations together. When Dazai is gone, he feels that he will keep the journal, as a piece of a memory…

 

***

 

Lately, Dazai has picked up the habit of brushing against Chuuya whenever possible, sharing innocent touches at any given time of the day. Chuuya hardly notices at first, nor does he mind, but something tightens in his chest every time the ghost drifts a little too close to bump their hands together.

 

Every gentle brush of fingers against his arm, every feather light kiss against his temple, every minute that passes in the night with a hand clasped tightly on top of his own carries a desperate message.

 

I’m still here.

 

Sometimes, Dazai would reach out to him, but stop just short of touching him out of uncertainty, as if afraid that Chuuya might slip right out of his grasp. When Chuuya sees that bleeding sorrow in his eyes, he boldly grabs the ghost by the collar and smashes their lips together, reassuring him that there is still some time left.

 

Then, one day as they are lounging the morning away, Dazai sits up with a smile on his face and starts rifling through the stack of parchment paper on the coffee table, knocking aside the redhead’s poems in the process. He floats over to where Chuuya sits at his usual spot in the kitchen, holding two sheets of parchment and two pens.

 

Noting Dazai’s oddly uplifted behavior, Chuuya raises an inquisitive brow as one set of pen and paper is placed down in front of him, and a few short scribbles later, Dazai holds up his journal with a request written in it.

 

Let’s write a letter to each other.

 

“For what reason?”

 

So we can have something to remember each other by.

 

“...........” A long silence pursues as Chuuya narrows his eyes in a scrutinizing stare, but it dissipates when the redhead realizes that this might be the first step in putting his soul to rest. A letter to remember Dazai by, and a farewell for him to carry into the afterlife. The more he thinks about it, the more agreeable he becomes to the idea.

 

“Fine then.” The pen finds its way into his fingers, a comfortable and familiar weight as he taps the inked tip on the parchment. How should he start this letter? More importantly, what did he want to write about? Chuuya supposes a good start is to go back to when they first met on that rainy day, when he thought he’d only taken in a stray.

 

Then, only a few days later, Chuuya remembers standing in that broken down apartment when Dazai asked for his heart, only to be shot down. He had agreed to being friends with benefits, partners, lovers even, but nothing more.

 

A blush creeps onto the redhead’s cheeks as he presses a hand to his forehead. What a naive idiot he was back then, unable to know that he would fall so helplessly in love. Sucking in a deep breath, Chuuya considers writing a poem instead, so that his emotions might gain a quality of clarity in a medium he is accustomed to.

 

Still, the redhead finds himself at an utter loss, and having absolutely no idea what to write, he sneaks a glance up at Dazai to see how he is faring. The ghost seems to be in equally deep thought, his brows furrowed handsomely as he prods the pencap against his bottom lip. Finally, the pentip meets parchment as Dazai begins in careful strokes, starkly different from his usual messy scrawl.

 

As he pens each intricate letter, Chuuya stares mesmerized, wondering what the ghost might have to say to him, to leave him with once he is gone from this world.

 

A sharp clatter jolts him from his reverie and echoes in his mind like a tolling church bell. The pen lies on the table, having slipped right out of the ghost’s fingers. Dazai looks up to him, dread painting his eyes a vulnerable color, and on the parchment he sees…

 

Dear Chuuya , and a thousand words left unspoken.

 

***

 

He misses Dazai’s touch.

 

The days are so much quieter, so much lonelier even when he can see that translucent figure always next to him, always within his sight to let him know that they are still together. By now, Chuuya has had enough evenings of deep thought, enough nights staring at the ceiling, and enough dreams of goodbyes to feel that he is slowly letting go. Soon he will return the days before he met Dazai, feeling empty and missing something in his life.

 

At the very least he knows that he will no longer have to search for that key to his fulfillment, because it will already be long gone.

 

These days Chuuya has worked tirelessly at the university to afford just a few moments in the afternoon with Dazai.

 

Today he strolls silently with the sound of gentle rain pattering around them, clutching his umbrella tight while Dazai floats beside him. Occasionally, the ghost lifts his head to the grey sky where sunlight shines through lucent grey clouds and lifts his hand up, trying to feel the raindrops slipping through his palm.

 

He leads them to the same bed of hydrangeas where they kissed under the starlight and watches Dazai kneel down in front of the full blooms to touch them, or at least, let his fingers glide through blue and violet petals dusted with droplets. Come to think of it, Chuuya first met the ghost on a rainy spring day just like this.

He wonders if now would be a good time to…

 

“Dazai.”

 

The ghost looks up to him, eyes gleaming in mild surprise, because this is the first time they’ve addressed each other since Dazai lost his touch. Chuuya swallows and worries the umbrella against his hands, hoping that his words won’t be swallowed up by the rain when he finally speaks.

 

“We should say our goodbyes, while we still have the chance.”

 

Dazai stands up abruptly, brows stitched together in clear refusal as he shakes his head, and suddenly something within Chuuya breaks, releasing a surging heat that makes him bristle in anger.

 

“What the hell do you mean? You know that you are going to disappear soon, I’m just trying to give both of us closure before that happens!” His voice raises unconsciously, but still Dazai shakes his head, stepping closer to Chuuya with hands outstretched.

 

What more could he possibly want?

 

“I’ll send you off properly.” Chuuya promises, tearing his eyes away from the ghost to step back, away from his touch, despite knowing full well that those fingers would just slip right through his hands.

 

“If you still have any regrets, I’ll try my best to resolve them-” He bites his lip, tasting blood on his tongue.

 

“If you want to be remembered, then I’ll never forget you.” How could he ever forget?

 

“If you want to leave this world knowing that you were loved-” He doesn’t want to look up, the hurt and anger in his chest aches too much.

 

“Then... I’ve already given you my heart.”

 

So please, just let go.

 

When he can’t look away anymore, he sees Dazai’s lips moving to form his name.

 

Chuuya. Chuuya, please…

 

The sound of his heartbeat drowns out the rain, Dazai stands there transparent, begging for him to look, to see the voiceless words on his lips.

 

I love you.

 

Chuuya is left stunned speechless.

 

***

 

That night, Chuuya leaves half of his bed free for Dazai to float on top of the covers. Nothing is exchanged between them, not even a whispered goodnight when the redhead finally drifts off into a dreamless sleep.

 

When the sun hits his face, he lays there with his eyes closed, fearing what he might see in front of him. Finally, he peels his eyes open and finds the spot next to him empty.

 

***

 

“I should pray for him.” Chuuya murmurs to himself that Sunday morning as he sips a cup of cold coffee, Dazai’s incomplete letter held idly in his hands. He doesn’t feel grief, at least he doesn't think so. No, he’s had too much time to prepare for the inevitable. The only regret lingering in his mind is his inability to let the ghost pass on with on willingly. Perhaps if he prayed, then Dazai’s soul might be able to find peace in the next life.

 

After carefully folding the letter and tucking it into his wallet, Chuuya leaves his home to begin the lonely walk to a nearby shrine.

 

The morning is quiet and peaceful, putting him at ease as he thinks about what Dazai might’ve wanted. Should he grieve also? Somehow, the loss hasn’t quite resonate inside him yet, making it feel as if he were floating numbly. When he finally stops in front of the shrine, Chuuya suddenly feels an uncertainty and simply stares at the steps.

 

Growing up, Chuuya has never had any family to teach him the intricacies of religion, and while he doesn’t consider himself a faithless person, he is just too unfamiliar with it all. His presence at the steps garner a few curious glances, and not wanting to draw any more attention to himself, Chuuya simply leaves.

 

Afterwards, he walks aimlessly, letting his thoughts drift away with the clouds, his attention hovering briefly on the chirping birds, then to the chatter of people around him, and the sound of cars passing by, anything to keep himself from falling off the precarious edge of peace he’s found. Anything to stop himself from breaking down…

 

“Are you lost?”

 

He doesn’t realize that he’s standing still until someone calls out to him, and when he becomes aware of his surroundings again, Chuuya finds himself standing outside a church. The man who had spoken to him is standing just inside the gates while people slowly pour out, service had just ended it seems.

 

“I-” His eyes flicker from the man’s lavender eyes to his shirt, recognizing the clerical collar.

 

“I’m not sure, father.” Is this how he should be addressing the man? Judging from the gentle smile, Chuuya assumes that it was alright.

 

“Come inside, you look weary.” The sudden hospitality is almost startling, but Chuuya supposes it was appropriate for a priest to be kind to all. His lips part to politely decline, but the priest is already turning his back to lead him inside, and Chuuya feels it would be too rude to just leave now.

 

Taking one step forward, the redhead crosses the threshold of the gate, and feels a familiar tugging at his little finger. His head whips up, instinctively searching for a head of mahogany hair, but knows that he will find no one. Then, a pleading whisper at his ear…

 

Chuuya, don’t go.

 

That voice…

 

Chuuya shakes his head with a frown, telling his mind to cease its tricks. Dazai is gone, he knows that. Still, he waits for just a moment longer to see if that presence makes itself known again, and when he feels nothing, Chuuya take another step forward and passes through the gates.

 

***

 

“What bothers you?” The priest asks as they sit down at a pew. Chuuya takes a brief gaze around the church, mostly empty aside from a few occupants. When he returns his attention to the man, he sees brooding lavender eyes staring at him coldly. There is a familiar quality to the priest, as if they had met before under the scattered light of stained glass windows.

 

“A friend of mine recently passed away.” Chuuya answers, his eyes darting away to avoid that unnerving gaze, and from the corner of his vision he can see the man nodding.

 

“I am sorry for your loss.”

 

“He didn’t want to die.” Well, most people didn’t, Chuuya considers with a scowl marring his lips, but Dazai was different.

 

“He despised this world more than anything, and he knew that he was going to die. But in the end he clung to life, and that-...” His breath comes out in a deep sigh, imagining Dazai’s spirit floating in a formless aether, lost and seeking his way back into the world of the living like a blight that refused to go away.

 

“If he despised this world, then there must’ve been something that kept him here, whether it be regrets or one thing that was precious enough for him to cling to.” The priest reasons with him, and for a brief moment Chuuya thinks back to their last interaction, the words of confession on Dazai’s lips as the rain fell around them.

 

“Yes… there was.” Something inside him trembles, filling him with a numb feeling of guilt. If they had never met, would things have been different? It’s so difficult to tell what he would rather have. A life of longing for someone he’ll never meet, or having a taste of what he could have, only to lose it all.

 

“I just want him to be at peace.”

 

I see.”

 

The priest closes his eyes, allowing Chuuya the opportunity to take in his features. Tired shadows under his eyes, a pallid complexion in stark contrast to his ink black hair, and oddly enough, a concealed quality to his features, as if he were looking at the priest through a thin veil. He could have sworn he’s seen this man before…

 

“Keep him in your thoughts and prayers. If you are sincere, then they will certainly reach him and help him find peace.”

 

“Alright…” The redhead shifts uncomfortably, knowing that the priest means well, but there is something unnerving about him.

 

“Thank you. I should be going now, there’s somewhere I need to be.” It’s a white lie, but Chuuya feels his legs itching as if he needed to just run.

 

“Of course. I’ll lead you out.” They nod to each other and say their courteous goodbyes, and when Chuuya steps briskly out of the church, the priest stands in the doorway and watches him leave.

 

“A demon playing the priest. How laughable.”

 

The priest turns his head towards the spiteful voice, thin lips twisting into a vile smirk at the unseen presence beside him.

 

“Still clinging to this world, Dazai?”

 

There is no further response from the spirit, but he can feel the seething glare that etches a thousand curses onto his shoulders.

 

“Or could it be Chuuya you’re so attached to. How predictable.” His lips part in a breathy laugh, eyes shadowing over into a dull violet, cruel and lifeless.

 

“Fret not, Dazai. You’ll be reunited with him very soon, if only for the briefest moment.”

 

***

 

The rain has yet to relent when Chuuya leaves the church, misting the roads with a thin fog. After realizing that he is unfamiliar territory, Chuuya lets a curse slip under his breath and takes out his phone while stopping at a street crossing.

 

Stray droplets of rain splatter onto the screen, earning a frown of irritation, and when the insignificant little dot marking his location blinks onto the map, Chuuya hears the ear splitting sound of a blaring horn.

 

In the half after snapping his eyes to the left, he sees the panicked expression of a driver gripping the wheel tightly.

 

He feels forty tons of metal colliding into him, crushing the air from his lungs.

 

He hears the shrill screams around him as his body is caught under a wheel and dragged across wet asphalt.

 

He feels his heart thundering frantically, blood rushing in his ears.

 

Then, madder red consumes his vision.



Chapter Text

 

How long has he been trapped in this cycle? How many lifetimes have passed until he finally realized that he is trapped in a cruel game?

 

Delicate drops of rain fall from the clouds and cling to his tousled brown locks, Dazai feels almost at ease in this world, where clipped hydrangea blooms float in a sterling sea that stretches from horizon to shining horizon.

 

The foolish reaches of his mind that still hopes for salvation imagines the grey clouds parting, and perhaps he would see and angel descending to pull him from this hellish cycle.

 

He could stare up at that endless sky forever.

 

***

 

“What game are you playing this time?”

 

“The same one we’ve always been playing.”

 

Fyodor smiles like a mink, soft and elegant with fangs hidden behind pale lips, it was absolutely vile.

 

Scattered light filters through the stained glass windows that hover above them, illuminating the darkness with violet, blue, and emerald fractals. He can hear the gears churning rhythmically in the empty space around them, the universe continues to work its preordained path.

 

“What more could you want after everything you’ve done?”

 

The question sparks something curious in Fyodor, his lips take on a near innocent pout, the violet hue of his eyes shift with a mild disappointment.

 

“You’ve given up already? Just because it looks like I’ve won, doesn’t mean it’s over.”

 

A game, that’s all this is to Fyodor. It doesn’t take Dazai long to realize that the demon playing god is waiting for a challenger to his throne, because what is a game with only one player? It seems that Fyodor has noticed his realization, because he suddenly approaches Dazai, sliding across the stricken air between them like a wraith.

 

Thin, willowy fingers slide up to caress his chin, Dazai refuses to lift his gaze to meet those poisonous eyes.

 

“Nothing is more beautiful than watching humanity pushed to its limit, and you, Dazai…”

 

He feels the soft brush of Fyodor’s cheek against his, a lascivious whisper breathed into his ear sends needles up his spine.

 

“You are the most tragically poignant of them all. I look forward to watching you break all over again.”

 

***

 

In his past life, he was a vagabond with no purpose and no meaning, fated to an early death after toiling for years.

 

In this next life, not much has changed, except now he knows that he is searching for someone. The vague memories float around in his head, slippery and just out of reach, but Dazai has a feeling that he once had those memories grasped tightly in his hand. It’s a frustrating ebb and flow, leaving him desperate to catch the tide, only to be swept off his feet each time.

 

He finds himself in a discreet bar, worrying the ice inside his glass while he basks in the dimly lit amber glow. Lately he frequents this particular bar often, because the worn varnish of the bartop and the quiet hum of a piano creates a tone that distinctly reminds him of his own life. All is faded, all is blanketed under a sepia hue.

 

That is, until a vibrant splash of auburn color slides into the corner of his eye. He can’t help but stare as a petite man settles comfortably onto the stool next to him and slouches against the bartop. The man is dressed in a sharp vest with sleeves rolled up to his elbows, a pair of gloves conceal his hands like a secret. It creates an almost dated mafia look, complete with a tasteful hat that Dazai would call tacky, but only because it concealed the silky curled locks from his view.

 

The scent of acrid smoke makes his nose crinkle, but Dazai finds it oddly attractive to see a cigarette nestled between those delicate lips. He has to tear his gaze away to chase out the thoughts of those lips against his, but a remaining curiosity wonders if they are as soft as they look.

 

Carefully and discreetly, Dazai shifts in his seat with practiced movement to purposely brush the back of his hand against their elbow. Now, a pair of the most brilliant sapphire eyes are on him, and Dazai simply smiles in apology before returning to his drink, the beast inside him purring in content knowing that he has their attention.

 

Hardly a minute passes between them before the man lights another cigarette and raises his hand to order another drink, fingers flitting against the side of Dazai’s thigh in a seemingly innocent accident. This time, Dazai is the one staring with a smirk on his lips, exceedingly pleased that they speak the same language.

 

“Searching for something?” The redhead asks when his drink arrives, and with the way he turns to gaze at him with seeking eyes, Dazai can’t help but wonder exactly what he is asking. It seems much more than a simple request for a night of escape together, no… he has a feeling the questioned spanned to something larger in the whole.

 

Perhaps his new acquaintance is just as lost as he is.

 

In the end, he simply answers with a nod, letting the melancholy in his eyes slip just enough to gauge their reaction. Something softens in their face, as if they understood too well the feeling of missing something.

 

“What’s your name?” The redhead asks with a tilt of his chin.

 

“Dazai.”

 

“No first name?”

 

“What’s in a name?”

 

“Che-”

 

Dazai smiles as they scoff at the tactless reference, finding that scowl just as pretty as any other expression they’ve made.

 

“Nakahara Chuuya.”

 

“Chuuya…” The name slips easily off his tongue, as if he had held it inside his chest long before, eyes unfocusing as he hinges onto the oddly nostalgic feeling. In his reverie, Dazai misses the way Chuuya eyes him at the casual use of his name.

 

From then on, their night proceeds at a languid pace, dotted with snatches of conversation until Chuuya is shifting impatiently in his seat. At a certain point, he snuffs out the cigarette and pays his tab before slipping off the barstool. No goodbyes are exchanged, and when Dazai stares at his retreating form, he spots a curling smirk of invitation flashing as the door opens.

 

Dazai lazily stretches with a feline smile, a sense of elation flutters from his chest as he discreetly excuses himself from the bar and chases that feeling. Chuuya has barely traveled a block when Dazai catches up to him and steps easily in line with him, feeling an odd nostalgia and familiarity by his side.

 

As they walk, Dazai doesn’t notice that his eyes are glued onto Chuuya until the redhead tilts his head just slightly, attention briefly caught by a neon sign against a blacked out window. When Dazai sees the nondescript shop name he immediately hooks and arm into the redhead’s elbow and drags him through the door with a smile that can only be described as up to no good .

 

“O-Oi! Really? I barely glanced at the sign!” The color of his cheeks light up in a wonderfully pink hue as they find themselves suddenly surrounded by vibrators, lingerie, and an ostentatious selection of phallic objects.

 

“You were obviously interested. Got something in mind for tonight?”

 

“Not particularly…” The quiet admittance is hardly convincing, and Dazai finds it adorably amusing when Chuuya starts wandering off on his own in a particular section of the shop, clearly with a purpose in mind. The temptation to follow and see what he picks out tickles his fancy, but Dazai decides to keep it a surprise for himself and begins to browse the collection of vibrators.

 

When he spots Chuuya again, there is a little black gift bag slung around his wrist and a scowl on his lips fiery enough to scorch the sun.

 

“Hmm? Could it be, a gift for me?” The teasing lilt of his voice obviously doesn’t help to quell the flame of embarrassment and irritation in Chuuya, but the redhead lets it slide as they walk the rest of the distance to their destination, quietly making themselves lost among the bustling nightlife of the city.

 

They arrive at the lobby of a sex hotel, dimly lit from the neon pink lights and the white illumination of the machine displaying images of each room. Dazai keeps his hands in his pocket and lets his eyes trace the nape of Chuuya’s neck while he selects a room, a pricey one for its type, but the redhead pulls out a black credit card without even blinking.

 

As they travel down the hallway to their room, Dazai briefly wonders if he should feel so casual about this hookup. Well, he’s always been the promiscuous type, but something about this particular encounter makes it seem… familiar, comfortable. It feels more like he’s meeting up with an old friend than borrowing someone’s night to get his dick wet.

 

“You freshen up first.”

 

He’s shaken from his reverie and realizes they’re already inside the room when Chuuya flops onto the bed and kicks his shoes off, displaying the curve of his ass through his slacks. Dazai is almost tempted to give it a firm slap, but decides to save it for later.

 

“Not going to join me?”

 

Chuuya inhales and rolls over, sprawling himself on the silky jet-black satin and eyes him as if undressing him.

 

“I think I’ll just watch.”

 

That is when Dazai notices that the shower room behind them is separated only by a glass wall, offering absolutely no privacy, and suddenly the excitement jumpstarts his veins with electricity.

 

“Naughty Chuuya~” Wasting no time, Dazai steps into the washroom and keeps his back turned to Chuuya while quickly sliding his clothes off, realizing too late that he should have probably taken it slow to provide a bit more entertainment. Although, if Chuuya was expecting a stimulating show, any interest must have dissipated into the tense air the moment Dazai revealed the bandages covering his body.

 

He pauses, the muscles in his shoulders tighten visibly against Chuuya’s stare, until he decides to proceed by slowly unraveling the bandages, starting at his wrists. Carefully guarded skin is exposed inch by inch, and one by one, the scars begin to appear to wandering eyes. Chuuya remains silent, posture relaxed but attentive, and Dazai could see the lingering question in cerulean blue eyes.

 

What happened to you?

 

Now it seems that Chuuya is caught up in curiosity, unconsciously leaning forward when Dazai stretches slowly, muscles pulling taut under pale skin marred with innumerable scars. He steps over to the showerhead and turns it on, shivering under the cold cascade as the water warms up. Chuuya is on his stomach now, arms hanging lazily off the edge of the bed as he watches Dazai slowly and meticulously clean every inch of himself with a near grimace on his lips.

 

It’s far from a seductive display, but Chuuya finds it incredibly interesting how Dazai avoids touching his own skin directly, opting to scrub over it with a washcloth and letting the water rinse off the suds. He washes his hair equally quickly with the scentless shampoo, and within minutes he is stepping out of the glass cage of a washroom with a towel wrapped around his hips.

 

He stands there silently, letting Chuuya appraise him, eyes wandering from his thin shoulders to the droplets sliding down his chest and abdomens. Dazai is thin, the product of a sedentary life, but Chuuya can still see the fine definition of his muscles underneath.

 

Finally standing up, the redhead approaches him and gazes directly into his eyes, sliding his fingers down his chest and stomach. There is no trace of disgust in his eyes, instead Dazai sees the desire to explore more, to know more about this scarred stranger in front of him.

 

They switch spots, Dazai taking a seat on the edge of the bed while Chuuya saunters into the washroom. His display is starkly different from Dazai’s, first catching the edge of his glove with his teeth to peel them off, eyes flicking up to meet Dazai's as the fine leather slides off. When Dazai’s attention is glued to his exposed hands, he takes the time to slowly work each button on his shirt and shrugs it off with a sigh.

 

Dazai drinks in the lean muscles chiseled into his small frame, then follows his hands as they slide down each side of his waist to tuck his thumbs into the hem of his slacks. With a sensual roll of his hips, Chuuya undresses himself, underwear and all. The sight of thighs thick with corded muscle treats him, and at last Chuuya lifts his ankle to hook a finger under his socks and slides each off.

 

A heat coils in his belly, interest flaring into hunger as Chuuya turns on the water and cranes his neck back under the spray. Unlike Dazai, Chuuya puts his hands to use and slides them teasingly over every inch of skin, turning around to let him see the perfect curve of his ass. The redhead leans over, and Dazai finds his eyes shamelessly flicker down to catch a glimpse of a rosy pucker, then when he follows the water droplets trailing down, delicate fingers peek out from between the inside of his thighs and leaves white suds.

 

He feels a twitch of excitement in his cock and reaches down to palm himself slowly, using just enough pressure to keep his desire in check while Chuuya takes his sweet time teasing the living hell out of him. The sound of the shower head turning off is like a dinner bell tolling, and when Chuuya steps out with a towel around his shoulders, Dazai licks his lips in anticipation.

 

“So eager already…” Chuuya remarks as his eyes flicker down to his obvious erection under the towel, and wordlessly crawls onto the bed.

 

The easy pressure of Chuuya’s fingers against his neck urges him to scoot backward on the bed, eyes voraciously scanning every bump and scar as if fighting the urge to hungrily drag his tongue and teeth over them. The headboard bumps against his back, and Dazai is left with no choice but to lean against it, breath staggering against his fierce blue gaze.

 

Once he settles comfortably on Dazai’s lap, Chuuya’s eyes dart down to the towel and makes quick work of flinging it off. His appraising gaze lingers on his cock, drawing a smirk to Dazai’s lips.

 

“Like what you see?”

 

“Could be better.” The redhead shrugs his shoulder, unimpressed, but his hungry eyes betray him.

 

“Don’t be a tease.” Dazai playfully pushes his head down to give him a facefull of his semi erection, and Chuuya wastes no time drawing his fingers up the length, eyes half lidded as he licks an experimental stripe up the side.

 

A gentle touch against Chuuya’s cheek surprises him, Dazai’s fingers dance carefully at his temple, tangling into auburn locks. Something mellow and warm simmers in his chocolate brown eyes, but Chuuya meets it with a cold, hard stare. Dazai picks up on the unspoken message immediately.  

 

He doesn’t like it.

 

Such a tender look, such delicate touches, he doesn’t want the illusion of love, the love he’s been missing all his life.

 

If only he knew.

 

In a twisted apology, Dazai grabs a fistfull of his hair and roughly pulls him up, heart fluttering at the pained wince in his eyes, but Chuuya seems more than eager to let himself be positioned with lips against the tip of his cock.

 

“Be good for me.” The dangerous growl sends a shiver down the redhead’s spine, and obediently he wraps his lips around his length and lets Dazai push his head down. He takes every inch with a moan, stopping halfway when the tip of his cock bumps against the back of his throat. Immediately his skilled tongue swirls around expertly, head bobbing to slick his length. Heat bursts in Dazai’s groin, his blood searing like fire as he grits his teeth and tightens his hold on Chuuya’s hair.

 

With an experimental buck of his hips he forces himself deeper into Chuuya’s mouth, finding sick pleasure in feeling him gag around his cock, but the redhead quickly recovers and takes him to the hilt.

 

Gods, he felt like he was in a dream. Chuuya was devastatingly perfect.

 

The careful control he held onto loosens as a groan rips from his throat, and in his pleasure he misses the mischievous look Chuuya flashes him. The deep groan whittles away into a hiss as Chuuya slides back until only the tip remains wrapped between puckered lips, he feels the flick of a teasing tongue against his slit and nearly jams his cock back into Chuuya’s throat when the redhead chuckles around him.

 

Chuuya swallows him deep and continues an easy pace, groaning as Dazai’s grip on his hair tightens, hip beginning to thrust upwards until he is practically face fucking him roughly. The boiling heat in his abdomen threatens to spill over, his thighs quiver at the strain, and for a moment Dazai entertains the sick idea of thrusting in deep to choke him with his cum.

 

His cock throbs with his mounting orgasm, and before he can act on his desire, Chuuya pulls himself free, a thin line of spittle connecting glossy lips to the head of his cock. The pressure in his groin fizzles away in the cool air, leaving him hard and wanting.

 

“Wait.” The demand sparks an interest in Dazai as he obeys and eyes the redhead curiously, watching him bend over to reach something on the floor. With a mischievous smirk, Dazai pokes him in the side, chuckling as he jolts and shoots and indignant glare.

 

When he straightens back up, the little black bag from the sex shop is hanging off a finger, and Dazai is pleasantly surprised to see a pair of handcuffs lifted out.

 

“You didn’t seem like the type who likes to be restrained.”

 

“I'm not.”

 

The clatter of steel clasping closed around his wrist sends a jolt of exhilaration down his spine and straight into his cock. Something dark glimmers in Chuuya’s eyes, a hint of joyful sadism as he cuffs Dazai’s wrist and hooks the chain over a metal prong placed conveniently above the headboard.

 

“Hmm, not bad.” Dazai eagerly licks his lips, referring to Chuuya’s brand of fun, but his excitement drops when he sees a ball gag pulled out from the bag. With a groan of distaste he rolls his hips, grinding up against Chuuya’s bare ass.

 

“Please don’t gag me… You’re already stopping me from touching you, I want to at least be able to call your name.”

 

Suddenly he feels clawed hands grip at his jaw, nimble fingers digging into his chin as his head is forced up to meet livid eyes.

 

“You’re in dangerous waters, Dazai…” Their lips are a breath apart, but the ice in his whisper makes the short distance between them so cold.

 

It seems that Chuuya truly does not appreciate intimacy, at least any false semblance of it.

 

Dazai is almost tempted to ask him his life story, to find out why he feels the need to fill the emptiness in his life with meaningless one night stands, but the tension between them is already crackling with electricity, so instead Dazai remedies it with a tease.

 

“Am I? I’d gladly wade through sharks if it gets you cumming with my cock buried deep inside you.”

 

Crude, detached humor. That’s what Chuuya wants.

 

With a roll of his eyes, the redhead relaxes and sits back on his lap.

 

“Gods you are so irritating. If you won’t let me gag you, then at least keep quiet while I prep you.”

 

“.....Eh?”

 

Chuuya is already uncapping the lube when Dazai stares at him wide-eyed like a fish.

 

“What are you doing now?”

 

“Prepping you.”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“What don’t you understand?”

 

“Why are you prepping me?”

 

“Are you stupid?”

 

Dazai shakes his head frantically while Chuuya arches a brow, fingers well slicked at this point.

 

“No, this isn’t how it goes?”

 

“Are you a fucking virgin?”

 

“Chuuuuuyaaaa!!”

 

A hand suddenly comes slamming against the headboard right next to his face, Chuuya glares down at him with a dead serious expression.

 

“I’m going to penetrate you.”

 

The boner that once pressed so stiffly against Chuuya’s ass dies almost instantly as Dazai droops against the headboard, a low whine could be heard escaping his lips, the sound of his soul leaving his body.

 

“But Chuuuuyaaaa….”

 

With a heavy roll of his eyes the redhead relents and leans forward to press his forehead against Dazai’s.

 

“Fine…” He reaches back to grip the softened member in his hand and strokes it back to life, practically crooning ‘there, there’ until Dazai meets his eye again.

 

“You have got to be the most high maintenance one-night-stand I’ve ever entertained.”

 

The way Dazai smiles in response makes it seem like he's received a compliment, and Chuuya is nearly tempted to bite and suck at those lips until they’re frowning instead. With his other hand he carefully begins to prep himself, brows furrowing to concentrate on his two tasks.

 

The softest moans fall from his lips like hushed whispers, his eyes go unfocused, honing in on finding his sweet spot, but his fingers are just too short-

 

He feels the tip of Dazai’s cock nudge against his entrance, and for a moment Chuuya is tempted to just sink himself down and feel him deep, but he takes it slow and eases himself down, both hiss through their teeth as Dazai penetrates the tight ring of muscle.

 

“Chuuya…” Dazai is squirming against the handcuffs, fingers flexing in a desperate need to touch as the redhead takes him inch by inch. Out of burning desire mingled with the inability to touch, he leans forward and catches a pert nipple between his teeth, earning a sharp gasp from Chuuya.  

 

“Oh fuck-” The redhead groans and seats himself fully on top of Dazai, grinding his hips slowly as Dazai teases his nipple, sending sparking jolts of pleasure down his spine.

 

They simultaneously suck in a shuddering breath when Chuuya lifts himself off until only the tip is pressed inside him, and drops his hips straight down in a harsh thrust. Dazai’s hips jerk upwards, he is utterly unprepared for the unforgiving pace that Chuuya begins, bouncing and rocking against his lap with nails digging into his shoulders.

 

A string of expletives and moans echo against the padded walls as Chuuya throws his head back and thoroughly fucks himself on top of Dazai, waves of heat sear up and down his sides and coil tightly in his abdomen. Dazai struggles to hold back his deep groans, hands twisting against the rattling cuffs in a desperate bid to touch , but all he could manage is to latch his teeth onto every inch of skin he can reach, leaving dark hickeys and red marks.

 

Dazai’s hips begin to move to meet Chuuya’s rocking, the sound of skin slapping against skin urging him to thrust harder and deeper until he feels the redhead shudder in full-body pleasure. With a knowing smirk, he angles at the same spot thrusts upwards relentlessly. An especially loud curse rips from Chuuya’s throat as he loses balance and tips backwards, lips parted in heavy pants, eyes clenched tight as white sparks explodes in his vision.

 

Chuuya braces his hands on the bed and lets Dazai fuck upwards, moans spilling uncontrollably from his lips as his sweet spot is hammered every time. He feels the heat in his abdomen tighten unbearably until his thighs are trembling, a stuttered moan escapes him as he feels it spilling forward uncontrollably.

 

Just as he catches the first wave of a rippling orgasm, he feels Dazai lean over him and clasps his hands around the back of his head, the cuffs clatter onto the bed. For the briefest moment of surprise he wonders how Dazai was able to free himself, struggling against the hold instinctively even as ropes of cum spurt from his cock, but Dazai holds him tight and they ride the orgasm together.   

 

His hips buck in tandem to Dazai’s short thrusts, feeling hot cum spilling into him until he’s left achingly full. For once in his life he lets his restraint loose and wraps his arms around Dazai’s shoulders, tucking his chin into soft brown locks to breathe in his scent. The afterglow is wonderfully blissful when he has someone to share it with, making him forget all those nights of crude fucking and cold loneliness the moment he finishes.

 

There is no scent of cigarette smoke this time, only Dazai’s warmth mingled with sweat and sex.

 

Even when the last ripples of pleasure fade away, Dazai doesn’t separate from him, and they end up cuddling in a sleepy stupor until both give in to the lull of each other’s warmth.

 

When Dazai opens his eyes again, it’s already late in the night, and Chuuya is just about to leave through the door. He rolls over in bed and yawns sleepily, catching the redhead’s attention.

 

“Stay.”

 

A simple request, and yet it seems that he is asking for too much. Chuuya pads across the soft rug and pats down chocolate brown locks with a gloved hand.

 

“Maybe next time.”

 

And with that he is gone, leaving a tiny sliver of paper with a number scrawled on it.

 

Chapter Text

The indistinguishable passing days eventually bring a tide of change for Dazai in the form of a simple text, white on black letters scrolling across his lock screen from an unsaved number.

 

Are you free this Saturday?

 

He squints at the date to remember that it is already Thursday, not that the date ever matters to him, and rolls onto his stomach to respond with much more eagerness than he’d like to admit.

 

Of course ;)

 

A quick chuckle rumbles in his throat as he imagines Chuuya grimacing at his text and almost expects a teasing jab in response, but all he receives is an address and a time. With a quick check on the gps, Dazai discovers that the address is of a hotel. Not the most romantic spot for a date, he absently thinks, but in the end he doesn’t really mind spicy bootycalls either.

 

***

 

Come Saturday, Dazai finds himself leisurely strolling the scenic route to the hotel while entertaining the thought of picking up a gift for Chuuya. Perhaps something classic like flowers and chocolates? It’ll be just like a date, a date minus the lovey dovey courtship and add in a heaping helping of sweat and sex.

 

The display of fresh flowers across the street catches his eyes, and with a smile Dazai imagines that he might actually impress the redhead, but just a couple shops away, tucked in the second floor above a video store is something that garners even more attention from him. His smile curls with the slightest hint of mischief, and without hesitation he crosses the street and trots up the stairs into the discreet shop.

 

***

 

Half an hour later Dazai has his back shoved against the hotel door, grappling hands tear at his clothes while a greedy tongue drags up his neck.

 

“I brought you something.” Dazai chokes out while he still has his breath, and as he is shoved down onto the bed he holds up a small gift bag. Wariness flashes over Chuuya’s eyes as he scrutinizes the bag and snatches it up with gloved hands. He reaches inside, pulling out a bullet vibrator encased in a clear box. The smirk on his lips clearly displays his satisfaction.

 

“And here I was thinking you’d bring something useless like flowers. Glad you have more sense than that.”

 

Dazai is about to make a teasing remark when Chuuya suddenly plants his foot on his chest, half climbing onto the bed. The look Chuuya gives him in the filtered darkness of the hotel room sets off a dozen alarms in his head. Cerulean eyes alight with a predatory flame, lips set in a cold scowl, and a gloved hand tugging at the knot of his tie. Dazai feels like he might be swallowed whole.

 

“Strip, make it fast. I want to put our new toy to good use.”

 

The next hour passes like a whirlwind, leaving Dazai breathless half the time, screaming the other half, and gasping in between.

 

Chuuya collapses onto the pillow beside him with a curse, shuddering with the aftershocks of orgasm as he reaches between his thighs to pull out the still buzzing vibrator.  

 

“Mind if I smoke?” He grunts out, stretching against the sheets tangled in his legs. Dazai answers with an equally tired sigh.

 

“As long as you let me stay.”

 

“Tch, clingy.”

 

“More like you have some attachment issues. I just don’t want to be kicked out while I’m still comin’ down.” Dazai rolls to his side and pokes a finger teasingly at the furrow between Chuuya’s brows as the redhead flicks open his lighter.

 

“Well… You’re not exactly wrong about that.” The surprisingly honest admittance has Dazai leaning up on his elbows with a brow raised, and when Chuuya opens an eye to see the curious stare he scoffs and settles comfortably into the pillows.

 

Dazai doesn’t expect an explanation to why Chuuya seemed so adverse to anything resembling affection, just how he doesn’t intend to explain away each and every scar on his body, but apparently the redhead could hardly care less about his own damage.

 

“Imagine this,” He begins, taking slow drags of his cigarette while staring at the ceiling.

 

“You find the perfect partner, someone who promises their whole life to you, whispering love and confession into your ear every night as you fuck them senseless, and each morning you wake up to the serenity of a blissful domestic life.”

 

Well, for Dazai it’s incredibly hard to imagine that, but he remains silent for Chuuya to continue.

 

“By the time a week has passed, you feel that you’ve found the love of your life, the person you have always been searching for. Then, one month passes.” He raises one finger and gives Dazai a look laced with bitterness.

 

“One month is the magic number, because that’s when they realize their fairy tale love life isn’t what it’s cut out to be. Arguments, disagreements, the only thing you have in common anymore is the fact that you can still cum when you fuck them at night.”

 

Ah… Now Dazai is starting to understand.

 

“In most cases, you either agree to break apart and act like the other never existed, or leave with a loose promise of ‘staying friends’ only so you can keep their number whenever you need a good fuck again. Then you move on, find the next ‘love of your life’, tell them the same story of your previous lover, and continue that sugary honeymoon phase with the promise of ‘I’m different from the rest’.”

 

The redhead snuffs out his half spent cigarette with a scowl on his lips, he can almost see the murky memories swimming in the blue of his eyes. How many times has Chuuya done this? Dazai is almost afraid to ask. 

 

“I used to think ‘love’ was so sweet, sweet like candy no matter how many times I had a taste of it. After so many sugary lips felt against my own, eventually all I could taste was poison.

 

A brief silence settles between them, not necessarily uncomfortable, but Dazai feels something tightening in his chest as he processes the tale.

 

“Are you sure it’s okay for you to tell me all this?”

 

“Che, take it how you will, it’s not like I’m spilling some hidden emotional history. I tell anyone who gets too curious. It helps them from getting too attached.”

 

“Your life story really means nothing to you?” It wasn’t a judgemental question, but Chuuya leans up regardless and reaches forward, sliding his hand across Dazai’s neck before gripping a fistful of his hair. Their eyes meet, Dazai’s dark and expectant, Chuuya’s blazing with fire.

 

“Right now, if I slap you, bite you, insult you, tie you up, or even tell you everything about myself, it means nothing, as long as we can both get off.”

 

“So, I’m nothing more than a passing fancy?” Dazai’s voice is colder than he intended, but Chuuya responds with conviction.

 

“Does that bother you?”

 

Silence… and then, his answer.

 

“Not at all.”

 

It seems that he’s said the right thing, because Chuuya’s lips curve in a smile, his eyes glimmering with satisfaction. Dazai smiles back, wanting to kiss those perfect grinning lips, but knows he couldn’t.

 

“Are you free next weekend?” Chuuya flops onto his stomach, suddenly animated and lighthearted, while Dazai shoves down the tightness in his throat to enjoy the lightened mood.

 

“Sure, where are we going?”

 

“You’ll know next Saturday.” A flash of teeth peeks from between his lips as he grins, smoldering eyes promising a world of fun.

 

Dazai feels as if he’s being rewarded for whatever reason, but reason hardly matters when he’s so captivated by the man in front of him.

 

***

 

“You have a motorcycle?” Dazai blinks away the dust that flew into his eyes when Chuuya came to a skidding stop in front of him, somehow not surprised that the redhead would be the type to own a bright red bike.

 

When Chuuya pulls the helmet off and shakes his hair out with a huff, Dazai leans in to take a lock of his hair, coiling around his fingers before pressing it to his lips. Chuuya jabs him in the stomach with a smile and tosses him a second helmet.

 

“Come on, we’re going.”

 

“Going where?”

 

The sun’s last rays light a halo around Chuuya’s auburn hair as he leans back and points to the horizon, eyes glimmering with pure delight.

 

“Far away, past the city, away from everyone and everything.” Where no one can find them, and no one can hurt them.

 

“Just us and the sunset, sounds romantic.” Dazai swings his legs over the motorcycle and thrusts himself against Chuuya’s back, wandering hands gladly clasping around his waist. The redhead clearly takes this as a joke, because his laughter rings in Dazai’s ears like a melody, until his voice dips into a lascivious purr.

 

“It’ll be romantic when I’m riding your dick under the stars.” The engine revs and sends a rumbling vibration up his back, and suddenly Dazai is clinging on for dear life when Chuuya propels them forward, tires screeching on the asphalt.

 

Their frighteningly fast start has him shivering against Chuuya’s back, but they quickly slow down as soon as they make it out of the empty street and into more urban area, just barely staying within the speed limit while there are still people on the streets. He feels the muscles in Chuuya’s back relaxing, so he allows himself to unwind and rests his chin on the redhead’s shoulder.

 

It doesn’t take them long to escape the city onto a road lining the bay, where they can see the sun floating on the watery horizon. Suddenly Chuuya leans forward, waiting for the moment when they are on long rural roads before hitting the acceleration. The wind roars with the engine as they pick up speed frighteningly fast, as if Chuuya were trying to race the sunset itself.

 

Something punches Dazai in the gut and leaves a vicious tingling sensation, and with his heartbeat thundering in his ears he opens his mouth to scream, but chokes out laughter instead. Chuuya smiles beneath his helmet and begins swerving when the road winds left and right, urging his motorcycle to go faster and faster, wanting to leave everything behind until there is only the stars above, the endless road ahead, and Dazai’s chest pressed against his back.

 

Something buckles under them, jolting them upwards, likely a bump in the road but Chuuya doesn’t care and pushes the engine to his limits. Suddenly the laughter against his ear starts shouting his name in fear.

 

He hardly has the time to slow down when the motorcycle bucks again, and again, harsh enough to nearly throw him off his seat from the force. Then, with a terrifying thud in his stomach as if his heart dropped like a stone, Chuuya realizes...

 

Dazai’s arms are no longer around him.

 

***

 

It felt like he was flying, wind whipping against his cheeks in the darkness, he looks to the right and sees a black bay, because the sun had already disappeared. His arms and legs are splayed wide, and for an exhilarating moment Dazai feels free, until it all comes to an abrupt stop with a bone-crunching thud .

 

When he open his eyes again, he hears laughter, but not Chuuya’s.

 

A shapeless wraith sits in front of him, billowing and flowing until a familiar pair of lavender eyes glow through inky black. Fyodor has a pale hand against his lips, shoulders shaking in laughter, and suddenly Dazai remembers everything. The ride into the sunset, his life before he met Chuuya, his life before that, and their lives long passed.

 

“Oh gods…” An exasperated groan heaves from his chest as he leans over and buries his face in his hands, feeling his cheeks heat up from sheer embarrassment.

 

“You flew right off the motorcycle-” There’s something unsettling about seeing Fyodor’s eyes tear up in amusement, like watching a demon offering candy with a smile. Still, Dazai cannot help the twisting disappointment in his chest when he remembers his last moments in that life.

 

Oh, what a way to go.

 

“Alright, I’ve had enough, just put me back or whatever. Bye.” When he stands abruptly and turns away with arms crossed, he hears Fyodor’s low, purring voice,

 

“Chin up, Dazai. There’s still much more fun to be had.”

 

He almost turns around at the ominous promise, but in that moment he drop straight out of the dark expanse and back into the world he’d left so abruptly.

 

***

 

He considers looking for Chuuya again, until he realizes that he never got an address, and well, he couldn’t exactly look him up in an address book as a ghost.

 

What he settles on instead is finding his way back into the city to find wherever he’s been laid to rest. Knowing that he had no loved ones or even any friends that would care, Dazai had expected his ashes to be placed in some municipal cemetery.

 

After two weeks of searching, to his surprise, he finds a headstone with his name in a nice local cemetery, the kind where families often visited and left gifts. At his own grave is a fresh bouquet of yellow roses, left there less than a week ago.

 

He squats down in front of the flowers with a wry smile and an unfamiliar sensation floating around in his chest.

 

Gratitude, probably.

 

For all his talk talk about no intimacy and no strings attached, Chuuya was kind enough to provide a proper burial for him, and even left gifts occasionally, from the looks of it. Dazai doesn’t know what to think of it, so he simply sits there and stares, unminding of each time the sun rises and sets, uncaring for the rain that passes through his transparent body, unfeeling of the cold that wraps around him, wilting the flowers.

 

Then, one morning he hears a set of footsteps approaching and lifts his head to peer up at a familiar face. Chuuya is staring down at him, or rather, through him, and the pain in guilt in his eyes reveal more than he’d expected from the redhead in this lifetime.

 

He doesn’t envy Chuuya, knowing that he must be struggling over the death of someone he’d just met yet connected with so quickly, and even when he could have just pretended like Dazai never existed, he still chose to visit his grave for whatever reason.

 

There are no words to be exchanged, Chuuya probably finds it useless to talk to a dead man, but when he replaces the dying roses with a fresh bouquet and leaves, Dazai follows him.

 

***

 

The home that Dazai follows him to seems comfortable enough, Dazai is not surprised that Chuuya is well off in this life, he always manages to find a good living it seems, legal or not.

 

“Not bad, Chuuya. You even got that wine rack you’ve always wanted.”

 

No answer, not like Chuuya could hear him anyway.

 

Out of curiosity, Dazai wonders if Chuuya also regained his memories of their past lives together, although from the way the redhead carries himself, it doesn’t seem like it. However, as if responding to his comment, Chuuya wanders over to the rack and selects a fragrant red wine, making quick work of the cork to settle into the couch with a glass.

 

“Ehh? Wine already? I know I just complimented your wine rack but it’s barely noon.”

 

The tease goes unnoticed again and Chuuya silently sips his wine in the silence, and even when Dazai knew that there was no way the redhead could perceive his presence, he reaches across the couch and pinches his fingers where a nipple would be.

 

To his utter surprise and amazement, Chuuya chokes on his wine mid-sip and jolts in his seat, hand slapping over his chest where the ghost pinched him. That was the moment Dazai feels a seed of hope sprouting in his chest, even as the urge to laugh at Chuuya’s bewildered expression makes him double over.

 

In the bleakness of it all, Dazai somehow convinces himself to smile, because perhaps with the passing days, Chuuya might be able to hear his voice again, to feel his touch again like in a previous lifetime.

 

And so, he waits.

 

***

 

Domesticity, for someone like Dazai, is like a passing dream. Vivid and beautiful to the point where he can almost fool himself with its mundane lul, but intangible when he tries to grasp it with his fingers.

 

Still, he makes the most out of his days with Chuuya, lingering in his life unseen and barely perceivable like a heat haze. In the mornings, Chuuya wakes up early and starts his morning routine, and every time Dazai is sitting at the breakfast table watching the redhead prepare a simple breakfast.

 

“Toast and jam again, Chuuya?” He pouts and blows a puff of air at Chuuya’s bangs, watching the other unconsciously brush his hair away at the disturbance.

 

“Would you like me to visit you at work again today?”

 

A tilt of his head, no answer.

 

Chuuya works at a company, likely some high ranking position from what Dazai has seen, although he has a feeling that the company itself is simply a front for more illicit activities, not that it mattered much to Dazai. On some days Dazai finds it more interesting to stay at home and explore the redhead’s belongings, learning about the hobbies and interests he’s picked up in this life.

 

Today, he feels like going through the collection of sea glass under the bed, so he waves a quick goodbye when Chuuya silently stands up to leave.

 

At night, Chuuya’s routine is the same as always.

 

First he relaxes on the couch with a book, a pen twirling in his free hand to occasionally scribble notes in the margin. Dazai likes to read over his shoulder.

 

Then he makes his own dinner from fresh ingredients bought on the way home and enjoys it with a glass of wine. Dazai sits at the seat opposite of him, chatting away about trivial things.

 

Come bedtime, flops tiredly on the bed and browses on his phone until he tosses it onto the nightstand and closes his eyes. Dazai sits there beside him, ghosting his fingers over his cheeks, wondering when they might finally feel each other’s touch again.

 

When Chuuya’s breath evens out, Dazai sits there in the darkness of the room and stares… and stares… and stares...

 

Sometimes, the memories from a thousand lifetimes ago return to haunt him, singing eerie melodies in his head. That is when Dazai closes his eyes, willing the color of blood seared against his eyelids to dull away into grey, quieting everything in his mind until his thoughts taper away into nothingness…

 

***

 

When consciousness slowly drifts back to him, Dazai opens his eyes and finds himself sitting in the exact same spot on the edge of Chuuya’s bed.

 

“Mmm~ Good morning, Chuuya.” He stretches and yawns like a cat, as if he had just woken up from a long nap, then leans forward on the bed to greet his Sleeping Beauty with a smile.

 

Well, Sleeping Beauty is quite a stretch, because Chuuya always has the grouchiest frown on his face just before he wakes up, as if his sleeping self was anticipating the blaring alarm.

 

This morning, the face that he meets is calm, still, and…

 

Lifeless.

 

Dazai sits there, eyes split wide and pupils constricted into black pin pricks, his hands feel numb.

 

Chuuya?

 

His lips part to draw in a choked breath, eyes blinking rapidly as if trying to dispel the image before him.

 

Chuuya, dead in his bed with a ring of angry bruises marring his neck.

 

The sound of something awful grates in his mind, like stones grinding against the inside of his skull, his skin twitches and prickles as if clawed hands were peeling it from his flesh. When he collapses onto the bed, his hands shoot forward to clash over Chuuya’s shoulder, trying to shake him awake, but as always he just slips right through his fingers.

 

The question hammers at his head, stinging the back of his eyes as he grits his teeth and grinds them to the point of breaking his jaw.

 

How?

 

Frantically Dazai shoots up and scrambles outside, finding nothing out of place, everything from the book on the coffee table to the blanket on the couch left just as they were, and the door… locked and bolted securely.

 

Who did this? Why did this happen?

 

A dozen voices began to screech and scream in his mind, multiplying into a thousand, leaving no room to think, no room to rationalize. He collapses onto his knees, throat ripping with a pained cry, and when he reaches his hands up to clasp them over his face, a sudden sting jolts his spine.

 

His hands were hot, searing as if… as if they had stolen the heat from Chuuya.

 

The voices are howling at him now, angry and seething and Dazai wants nothing more than to claw out his own soul to make everything stop. Everything his bleeding, his eyes, his ears, his heart, dripping viscous liquid until all of it is stained madder red.

 

Then, among the cacophony, he hears Fyodor laughing, hears his voice whispering into his ear with a poisonous lilt.

 

“You’re breaking, Dazai.”




Chapter Text

Something has broken inside Dazai.

 

None of it feels real.

 

The stillness of Chuuya’s body nestled in his bed, the bruises on his neck a stagnant color.  

 

The meticulous ticking of the second hand on the clock, reminding him that while his time has halted, the world around him marches on uncaringly.

 

The heat- the searingly painful heat that eats away at his trembling hands-

 

What has he done?

 

He can’t move, his body vibrates down to the core, the fear and disbelief rattling in the emptiness of his ribcage.

 

Then, it all crumbles away, breaks apart like fragile glass until everything is sharp edges and refracted light.

 

The stars gleam above him, reminding him of a moment when he looked up at them and cried tears of joy as the universe was remade. Now, he can only stare up at them with the ugly claws of despair tearing at the inside of his throat.

 

It’s all going to start over again. Everything will be forgotten, and they both will have to suffer the same fate endlessly.

 

His heart begs for a moment of reprieve, for the barest hint of solace, so he closes his eyes and briefly sees the endless plane of shallow water and hydrangea blooms, where he waits for the clouds to part and offer rays of salvation.

 

When Dazai opens his eyes, he’s sitting on plush carpet, warm and tucked against comforting arms, He looks up and sees a woman with mahogany hair that falls in waves, a woman he doesn’t recognize but instinctively knows. Everything is too large in his eyes, his voice comes out in a childish pitch, small hands moving to grasp at the woman’s hands.

 

What now?

 

Now he is walking with the straps of a school bag slung over one shoulder, the sunlight gleams atop the gentle flow of a river beside him, he hears birds chirping along with the chattering of other students.

 

…….

 

Life passes on. His heart feels numb, his mind dazed as if nothing has caught up yet, even as his body is sitting at a desk, twirling a pencil between his fingers.

 

He should be looking for someone.

 

A shy girl passes a letter of confession to him, her pale cheeks blushing a pretty pink, and under a gentle rain of cherry blossom petals he shares his first kiss. That same year, he climbs to the roof of the school building and jumps…

 

It feels like he hasn’t even blinked.

 

The next year is spent in a hospital, and all he does is stare out the window and watch the clouds. He’s trapped in a body moving on autopilot… Somehow he’s convinced himself that he’s dreaming, that he just needs to-

 

Wake up.

 

Wake up.

 

Wake up.

 

Reality isn’t so kind to let him just escape this new life.

 

Until…

 

A flash of auburn hair, cut shorter than he remembers. Dazai stops in his track and blinks , his head turns to see a familiar face, round and young, disappearing behind a corner, and for the first time in his life he screams at his limbs to move and they obey.

 

“Chuuya!” He calls out, hand reaching out to the boy who turns the corner, and from his profile Dazai can see hardened cerulean eyes and cheeks smeared with dirt. When he makes it to the corner, the boy is gone, and Dazai is left standing there panting.

 

He looks down at his hands, eyes wide in awe as he flexes each finger, and for the first time, he smiles.

 

The very next day Dazai seeks out his first job at a cafe, working tirelessly and smiling falsely until he can afford his own phone. Every day from then on is spent searching, utilizing every resource a teenager his age had access to, scouring every registry and address listing for a name.

 

Nakahara Chuuya.

 

Months of searching every single person and address in his area and the far reaches beyond turns up… nothing. Nakahara Chuuya doesn’t exist, at least… not as far as anyone else is concerned.

 

His mind immediately jumps to the mafia, to groups of orphans who live on the streets, to human trafficking rings. Places where children who do not exist are found.

 

Dazai is no fool. He knows better than to look for Chuuya within the darkest reaches of the city, at least not yet. Not when he is still too young, still lacking in resources. When he returns to school, he can feel every pair of eyes on him, every hushed whisper and spin rumors around him, but such details are trivial and Dazai ignores it all as he plops right back down on his desk with a renewed fire in his eyes.

 

Assimilating back into a normal school life is rocky at best, he’s been asked to stay back often while his teachers cautiously gauge his mental state. Not everyone student who jumps off the roof returns to school as if nothing is wrong after all, if they even return at all. However, his performance on the next wave of exams is so impeccable he silences every person around him, passing by the exam results without having to look to know that his name is neatly printed in the first slot.

 

He makes a name for himself, known as a student who once suffered an unknown situation that pushed him to attempt to take his own life, only to return with a will to live and strive stronger than anyone else’s, perfecting every class and every assignment.

 

On his eighteenth birthday, both of his parents fall victim to crime, leaving him alone months before his graduation. He doesn’t feel remorse for either of them, had never known parents before thus never felt the need to connect to them, but he pays his respects to their graves and thanks them for their care, and for the inheritance they left behind.

 

When he graduates, he is ushered into the police academy of his choice and excels from the first day, always making sure to greet his superiors and future connections with a close-eyed smile that conceals the dull haze of his irises.

 

As he works his way up, he eventually becomes partnered with Odasaku, a ghost from his past lives, much to his surprise, and spends his spare time with the fellow policeman. For a few years, Dazai is… happy, even as the world around him spins at an unrelenting pace, sparing him not even a second to close his eyes and rest.

 

When he opens his eyes, time has passed mercilessly again. There is a folder on his desk, his first major case as a newly appointed detective.

 

15 children missing, suspected activity from the Port Mafia.

 

Finally, his life’s effort is coming to fruition, and with a fox’s smile he thumbs through each page gingerly, scanning every detail and slotting the pieces together. Names, timeframes, and most importantly, a location , all of it is carefully examined to extrapolate the exact date and time he can expect activity again. Humming in satisfaction, Dazai closes the file and busies himself with sending his newly acquired information to Odasaku.



***



“You were right.” Odasaku remarks simply as Dazai makes his way to the closed off interrogation room, side-eyeing the self-satisfied smirk that betrays his excitement.

 

“All the information was there. I’m glad your team was actually able to capture him though.”

 

The steel door strikes an imposing image in front of them, two guards stand on each side with grim frowns, but Dazai feels as if he were entering an amusement park.

 

“Are you sure you want to interrogate him alone? He’s shown to be violent.”

 

“I think you of all people know that I do these things best alone.” Not willing to wait a second longer, Dazai urges Odasaku to unlock the door and shoots him a passing smile as he disappears into the room.

 

A sterile white light casts an imposing candescence over the figure slouched over the steel table. As he takes a seat, he sees how their knuckles are split, still caked with the blood of the men assigned to capture him, and of course, aside from a faded trail of blood from their nose, they seem completely unharmed. A pair of handcuffs persuades them to behave, for now.

 

“Nakahara Chuuya of the Port Mafia.”

 

The redhead lifts his chin, peering at Dazai with one eye from under the rim of his hat, the beautiful cerulean color he remembers is tempered into a brilliant cobalt, no doubt darkened from years living under the mafia.

 

“Do you remember me?”

 

The unconventional question cracks the blue of his eyes momentarily, he was not expected it, but quickly brushes it off when he scoffs and slouches further.

 

“If I beat you down once or killed your partner, then sorry, I make a point not to remember those things.”

 

Dazai feels something breaking inside of him, cracks splitting down the sides of something heavy and black in his chest.

 

Ahh… How frustrating.

 

The silence of the room engulfs them both, Dazai stands up in a slow, drawn out motion and begins to circle the table, prowling.

 

Shadows shift across the slate gray floor, seemingly clawing and grabbing at Chuuya’s ankles, and when Dazai moves behind him out of sight, his lips tighten to see the redhead’s shoulders stiffen just slightly. The motion is nearly imperceptible, clearly ingrained behavior from a merciless life, but the Chuuya he once knew wouldn’t have blinked under a threatening presence.

 

He tests the waters, reaching out to brush the back of his fingers against the nape of his neck, watching as Chuuya turns his head to glare at him over his shoulder. Bitter disappointment rises to the back of his throat like bile. Dazai slides back to the side of the table, inhaling deep and releasing a drawn out sigh before snatching up the chain of Chuuya’s handcuffs.

 

The redhead is pulled forward by his wrists, his cobalt blue eyes shimmer with surprise and uncertainty behind thinly veiled indignation. Dazai pulls him close, leaning in to whisper against the corner of his mouth, breath ghosting over his lips.

 

“You really don’t remember me? After all we’ve been through?”

 

The sound of the chair collapsing onto the floor clangs in his ear as Dazai’s vision suddenly blurs, a sensation of falling hits him in the gut the moment Chuuya kicks his legs from under him and throws him forward. His back slams against the table in a thud, a crippling shock ripples up his spine from the impact, and just as he forces out a cry of pain, his airway is pressed shut by the force of a metal chain across his neck.

 

Chuuya straddles him on top of the table, fists jammed tightly on each side of his neck so the links between the handcuffs dig painfully into his windpipe. There is something dangerous in his blue eyes, something feral in his looks from how his disheveled hair falls over his face.

 

“Creep… You’re awfully touchy for a cop, aren’t you? I didn’t pin you to be that type.” The sneer on Chuuya’s lips bleeds disgust as he presses down harder, hard enough to bruise and burn. Dazai breathes in a sharp gasp while he can and stares silently up at the redhead, eyes dull and fearless.

 

“I’d kill you if I knew I could break out of here, but since I’m stuck in this shithole,” He eases up, shifting his weight off Dazai’s waist and pulling the chain away just enough for him to start heaving for breath.

 

“Hurry and ask what you want and get out, so I don’t ever have to see your ugly face again.”

 

His entire body shakes, and while Chuuya passes it off as fear, Dazai would describe it as entirely something else.

 

Exhilaration.

 

Finally, he parts his lips, voice barely above a whisper.

 

“What if I said you are going to die soon?”

 

There’s something beautiful about the way Chuuya’s expression changes from untamed fury to stricken shock within seconds, eyes widening as he processes those words. It would be too easy to absolutely shatter his world, to break what little security he’s found for himself. Dazai feels temptation beckoning him, a teasing flame waving like a wagging finger, but he feels he shouldn’t be so cold to the one he loves.

 

“What do you want…” Chuuya finally growls out, his shoulders drawn tight, defensive.

 

“I just want to know more about you.”

 

“If you’re trying to smooth talk me into betraying my people, it won’t work.”

 

Something deep rumbles in Dazai’s chest, startling Chuuya enough to lean away until he realizes that the other man is chuckling lowly. He narrows his eyes warily when Dazai lifts his chin confidently to stare at him, lips curled in an infuriatingly smug smirk. With his mused brown locks splayed over the table and his face flushed a light red from breathing heavily in exertion, Chuuya can’t help but feel something lurch in his chest.

 

Perhaps he did recognize this man from somewhere…

 

“Chuuya… I already have enough information to tear down your entire organization.”

 

Disbelief flickers in Chuuya’s eyes, and in his uncertainty he allows Dazai to cautiously move a hand into his pocket to retrieve his phone. Dazai quickly opens a document and holds it in front of Chuuya, waiting for the redhead to absorb the information with a grim frown.

 

There was enough on that one document to incriminate most of the executives, himself included, and frighteningly enough, it includes Mori Ougai himself.

 

“But I could care less about the Port Mafia. Like I said, I just want to know more about you-”

 

Dazai’s voice breaks, and when Chuuya snaps his attention back to him, he notices that he unconsciously began to press down harder on his neck, drawing blood to the surface of his skin and marking it an angry red.

 

Finally, Chuuya lets up and slides off him, allowing Dazai to sit up with a wince and a sound suspiciously similar to a stifled moan.

 

“Fine then… Ask whatever you want, but don’t expect me to answer any of them.” He reaches down to pick the chair up and plop down on it with crossed arms and splayed legs, a look of defiance etched into his features.

 

Allowing himself a moment to regain his breath, Dazai takes his place at the other end of the table and closes his eyes, willing his heart to calm its frantic thrumming. This is his chance, the moment he’s trained and worked for ever since his teenage years in this life.

 

By now… Dazai knows that fate has no mercy for them, and that one of them will perish very soon now that they have met. If he can gather the slightest hint, any information that will help him gain an advantage in this game, then perhaps…

 

“What was your life like? What pushed you to join the mafia? Did you ever have any strange dreams or memories of a life you never lived? Are you haunted by a feeling that something or someone is missing in your life, that there is something missing?”

 

The slew of questions pours from his lips like a flood, held back all these years for the moment when they finally meet again. It feels cathartic, like confessing a sin, but the absolute confusion in Chuuya’s blank stare tells him the answer to every one of his questions.

 

“That’s, an odd mix of questions. Obviously I’m not going to answer anything personal about myself. As for the last one…” Chuuya looks away, raising a hand to rub at the side of his neck, unwilling to divulge details about himself but feeling almost obligated to answer at least one question, if only to get Dazai out of this room sooner.

 

“Yea, I’ve always felt that something was missing, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. I wouldn’t be in the mafia if I always felt that everything was whole and right in my life.” Of course, Dazai knows that feeling well also, except he knows the exact reason they both felt that way.

 

So… He truly does not remember anything…

 

A brief silence blankets over them like a miasma, poisoning the air between them as Dazai’s eyes begin to swirl with an amalgamation of emotions, all ugly things, bitter and toxic.

 

“I see. Then, I have one more question.”

 

He relaxes his shoulders, breathing deep to expel the tension between them and leans back in his chair.

 

“Do you know of Fyodor Dostoyevsky?”

 

“...........” Chuuya doesn’t look at him.

 

“I don’t.”

 

Nothing in his features betray his words, he is either speaking the truth or weaving the perfect lie, and no one would be able to discern the difference.

 

No one, except Dazai.

 

Even across countless lifetimes, Dazai has never forgotten all his habits, his ticks, his patterns, and he knows that Chuuya’s face never reveals a lie. So, his eyes dart down to the redhead’s hands as he answers and sees the slightest twitch of his little finger.

 

A lie.

 

“I see. Well then, our time is just about up now.” Dazai stretches and yawns tiredly, reaching one hand to adjust the bandages around his neck to hide the forming bruises. He ignores the way Chuuya quietly slumps in his chair in relief.

 

“Ah, but there’s one more thing I want to show you before I go. Think of it as an apology for interrogating you.”

 

The wariness in Chuuya’s eyes return immediately, and only intensifies when Dazai unclips a pair of handcuffs from his belt with a smile. No further words are exchange, Dazai simply motions for Chuuya to watch carefully as he cuffs himself. The metal links rattle against each other as he maneuvers his hands out of memory, each movement picked up and memorized carefully by Chuuya.

 

Seconds later, the cuffs fall to the table with a clatter, Chuuya meets his eyes and narrows his gaze, trying and failing to read his intention. Dazai smiles charmingly in return and tucks his handcuffs back into his belt, giving the redhead a friendly wave as he leaves, Chuuya doesn’t acknowledge his goodbye, and instead has his eyes glued to his own handcuffs…



Chapter Text

Here he is again...

 

The endless waters, the grey sky forever cast with sunlight bearing clouds, delicate petals casting gentle ripples…

 

He’s always wondered what this place was, what realm would be remain so beautifully incorrigible after all the bloodshed and broken bodies. Dazai can only imagine it to be a sanctuary between the reaches of dreams and reality, the one place where he can lie down beside Chuuya and twine their fingers together in the water.

 

At the very least… that was what Dazai had hoped it was.

 

He blinks. The once pristine sky now bled deep scarlet from the edges of the horizon, marred with swirling black clouds. The waters reflect the color of the sky, wilted hydrangea blooms crumble and dissolve with the slightest disturbance, and his hands…

 

Dazai lifts his hands, palm facing upwards, and bites through his lips to see them stained an ugly carmine. He can still see the mottled bruises around Chuuya’s neck, grotesque splotches of purple and black turning green and yellow at the edges.

 

When Dazai drops his hands to his side and stares bleakly up at the malignant sky, he is convinced.

 

This was no sanctuary…

 

This was the deepest reaches of his mind, where all his hopes and desperate desires were collected, where they come to perish.

 

Ah… Dazai narrows his dull eyes as cracks started to splinter among the clouds.

 

The sky was starting to shatter.

 

***  

 

Dazai wakes before the sun rises with the afterimage of red skies still etched into his eyelids. Instinctively he turns his head to the side where the neon green colors of the clock flash 4:32 am, a little more than half an hour before sunrise. There are no windows in this room and hardly anything interesting to stare at while he idles in bed, so eventually he decides that he might as well get up if he can’t fall asleep.

 

Reaching over to a drawer at the nightstand, Dazai feels around for a small key and stretches up to uncuff his wrist from the headboard before rolling off with a deep breath. The clothes from yesterday are still on his back, as Dazai had no motivation to change out last night, but he figures that they’re still more or less fresh enough to wear another day.

 

Upon reaching his bedroom door, he stares blankly at the reinforced frame and drags out his phone to dial Odasaku, hoping he wouldn’t mind the time. Odasaku answers with a groggy sigh, clearly having been woken up.

 

“Up already? It’s not even sunrise.” They skip the pleasantries and greetings as usual, having long dropped them to make the daily morning calls faster.

 

“Yea, couldn’t sleep much. I think I’m gonna take a walk.”

 

Odasaku groans tiredly, not in annoyance but from the simple fact that he wasn’t a morning person at all.

 

“Alright. What’s the time and date.”

 

“4:35, tenth of November.”

 

Satisfied with the answer, Odasaku unlocks Dazai’s bedroom door remotely and hangs up to fall back asleep. Dazai stares at the doorknob as the bolts slide and click, freeing him from his self imprisonment. It’s a system Dazai set up years before, as soon as he had the means to do so. Each night he would lock himself in and handcuff one wrist to the bed, and when he wakes up he would have to answer a simple question from Odasaku. When asked about such precautions, Dazai answered simply with a wry smile.

 

I simply don’t trust myself anymore.

 

***

 

Usually Dazai prefers to take long walks, but considering the weather is rather chilly he opts for a drive instead, something that can calm his nerves as he mindlessly navigates the streets. An indiscernible amount of time passes, he never bothers to glance at the clock. Minutes and hours are irrelevant when it feels like they bleed into each other.

 

Finally, when the dark sky begins to illuminate with morning light, Dazai pulls over on a secluded road parallel to a river. It looks like it might rain today, he thinks to himself as the sunlight paints itself over towering grey clouds, and drags out his phone to snap a picture of them. He likely won’t ever look at the image on his phone, but it feels good to do so, as if letting himself slow down for one moment will compensate for the years rushing by.

 

Of course, fate is never so kind to him, and his life is thrown into an inconceivable frenzy once again when something in the corner of his eye catches his attention. On the far end of the river he spots a black mass crumpled against the sandy bank, and from this distance he can hardly make out its form, but somehow Dazai knew .

 

He takes a few uncertain steps towards it before breaking out into a sprint, the chill in the air stinging his lungs and yet the instinctive dread keeps him feeling numb. There, faceup on the shallow banks is the familiar form of the one he’s been chasing all this time. Wet droplets of dew cling to his pallid skin, his mused hair, and his eyelashes, glimmering as they catch the morning light. Despite how cold it is, Dazai cannot see the telltale puff of foggy breath against Chuuya’s lips, and fearing for the worst he kneels down and hovers a hand over his cold body.

 

Stamp down your fear, you’ve always known this would happen.

 

Trembling fingers grasp the shoulder of Chuuya’s coat, and if he hadn’t retained the reflexes of his past lives, Dazai would have a dagger embedded in his stomach when the redhead suddenly lashes out. Their forearms collide, blocking the dagger mere centimeters away from his abdomen, and with a withering groan Chuuya slumps back over and trembles against the grass.

 

A vibrant blue is barely visible through the crack of Chuuya’s eyelids, his breath falls in shuddering gasps from exertion. Dazai quickly assesses his condition, checking to make sure he can handle being moved before quickly gathering up the redhead into his arms. He stands up much too quickly in his haste and as a consequence Chuuya jostles himself in his arms and leans over to retch from the sudden nausea.

 

“Sorry…” The careless mistake has Dazai scrunching his face as he reprimands himself and cradles Chuuya against his chest. He doesn’t catch what the redhead mutters after, but decides it can wait for later when he can get Chuuya to safety.

 

It’s the little things that keeps Dazai going in this lifetime, and today he is grateful that he had decided to bring his car.

 

***

 

“Would you like something warm to drink?” Dazai offers out of courtesy and partly out of the desire to break the tense silence that has been building between them ever since they came stumbling into Dazai’s home. Somehow, even that harmless question warrants an abrasive glare from Chuuya who is now sufficiently dry and warm under a blanket.

 

When the redhead refrains from answering, Dazai briskly turns into the kitchen and prepares a cup of cheap but warm tea in a mug, silently wishing that he had coffee to serve Chuuya’s preference. Upon returning to the living room, a part of his more primal self indulges in a longer than necessary stare, slowly taking in Chuuya’s small frame drowned in his borrowed button-up, the toned but slender legs exposed from wearing nothing but boxer briefs and a pair of black socks.  

 

It’s made apparent that Dazai has spent too long staring when Chuuya shifts on the couch warily, and if he hadn’t confiscated the dagger he is sure it would be embedded in the wall next to his head by now. Averting his eyes quietly, Dazai moves to kneel in front of him, making sure both hands are visible to avoid startling the other, because even in this state he has no doubt Chuuya could plant his face into the drywall with ease.

 

“I still need to patch up your leg.” He drags out the first aid kit from under the coffee table and gauges Chuuyas reaction. Most of the injuries he’d sustained had already been treated, mainly consisting of deep cuts and sprains on his upper body, but when Dazai had tried to strip off his pants the redhead had gotten defensive and nearly kicked him in the jaw.

 

Well, the reaction wasn’t exactly unwarranted given Chuuya’s first impression of him in the interrogation room. However, Chuuya seems relenting enough to lift out his leg where a gash ran the length of his calf. The redhead had stopped the bleeding himself while Dazai treated his other wounds, but they both knew that it needed to be closed up.

 

He carefully takes Chuuya’s ankle in one hand and inspects the mottled bruising around the wound. This was not a clean cut from a knife, it was more like laceration from the sharp edge of an object colliding against his leg. Whoever had done this had not treated him kindly, and Dazai feels that the redhead had to fight himself out of whatever situation he had landed himself in.

 

As Dazai carefully closes the gash with suture tape, he feels something sliding against his shoulder, a slight movement that has him glancing over to see Chuuya slowly parting his legs to slide the heel of his foot over Dazai’s shoulder. Now, Dazai is offered a sensual view of the smooth skin of Chuuya’s inner thighs, something stirs within him, a sense of familiarity just barely bound by his conscience. Chuuya stares down at him with a shrouded expression, and Dazai knows that his reaction is being gauged based on their last interaction.

 

He allows himself one shameful glace at the soft bulge under Chuuya’s boxer briefs and swallows thickly, carefully making his next move by hooking a thumb under the foot draped over his shoulder. Dazai quickly stamps down the urge to press a kiss against the delicate side of his ankle and sets it back down on the couch.

 

Judging by Chuuya’s raised brow and the way he starts casually swinging his leg against couch, Dazai feels that he’s made the right choice. He’s clearly shown that he hadn’t brought Chuuya home with ulterior motives.

 

Sure enough, Chuuya relaxes enough to begin a conversation.

 

“When you said I was going to die soon, what did you mean by that? I have a feeling it wasn’t a simple scare tactic.”

 

“I meant exactly what I said. Call it a… premonition.” The last suture is carefully taped on, Dazai answers the question without looking up.

 

“You fancy yourself a psychic?”

 

“More like… I have more information at my disposal than most others.” The explanation seems to appease the redhead enough, no doubt Chuuya merely suspects that Dazai is extremely good at his job rather than…

 

Dazai shakes the thoughts out of his head crawls onto the seat beside Chuuya’s, the mugs of tea on the coffee table are starting to cool down, but neither reach for one.

 

“So I’m really going to die.” The chilling calm of Chuuya’s voice is unnerving, as if he’s already accepted his fate. It makes Dazai wonder exactly what had happened since he escaped from the interrogation room, or whether the underworld was still intact at this point. Dazai says nothing to comfort him or reassure him. Padding the truth with sweetness and lies isn’t something he would appreciate anyway.

 

“Simply put, if you set foot out of this house, you might not see another day. That being said…” Dazai stands up and walks across the room to rummage a sliding closet, bringing back cozy blankets and pillows.

 

“You’re free to stay as long as you’d like.” There’s still too much that Dazai wants to ask, after all, but even in the security of his own home, he isn’t sure how safe he can keep the other. At this point Chuuya has grown silent, head lowered and shoulders tightened into a withdrawn state.

 

It’s barely noon, but Dazai lets him curl up on the couch and shield himself with layers and layers of blankets. He considers what he’ll do for the rest of the day and glances down at his phone, seeing multiple notifications from Odasaku and his boss before tossing it aside to retreat into his room.

 

The reinforced door closes with a heavy thud, and within moments Dazai is sliding down with his back pressed against the hard surface. His head knocks against the door, a tingling feeling begins to crawl up his limp arms as his throat tightens unbearably. There are no windows in this room, only the dim glow of a lamp casts shadows against the walls, and even when the love of his life is separated only by a door, he feels awfully lonely.

 

He’s tired and raw in the sense that every inch of his mind and body feels vulnerable and pained by even the slightest touch. Even numbness would be welcomed right now, but Dazai knows better than to pray for mercy and reprieve, so he sits there and stares blankly ahead, barely breathing…

 

***

 

At dinnertime Chuuya is sitting up on the couch perusing his phone, although he quickly tucks it away when Dazai enters the room.

 

“Hungry?”

 

Chuuya shrugs, avoiding his eyes, so Dazai rummages through the meagre contents of his kitchen to see if he can pull anything together. At the very least he can make fresh rice, but there is little else in his fridge other than a few eggs and canned crab meat. What he throws together in the end are two bowls of rice mixed with scrambled egg and crab meat. Nothing impressive by any means, but it should be filling enough.

 

When he sets a bowl down on the coffee table, Chuuya grunts a passive ‘thanks’ and cradles it in his hands. His expression is set into a contemplative grimace as he takes the first bite and chews slowly, then chokes and presses his lips into a quivering line. Chuuya has trouble even swallowing, not necessarily because the food is unappetizing, but rather his empty stomach is churning too much to force anything down.

 

After being told that he is bound to die any day, Chuuya is miserable, and it shows clearly in the scowl of his face. Dazai has yet to touch his food. He wants nothing more than to grasp Chuuya by the shoulders and pull him close, to presses kisses against his temple and tell him that everything will be alright, because even if they die before next sunrise, he promises that he will stop at nothing to take back a morning where they can smile together.

 

Instead… Dazai can only turn away and shovel in a mouthful of food, tasting nothing but bitter regret. He wants to revel in this misery in silent solidarity, but… there is still something he needs to know.

 

“Tell me about Fyodor Dostoyevsky.”

 

Chuuya turns his head slowly to stare at him, judging if he can just remain silent or deny he knows anything, but Dazai doesn’t give in.

 

“What do you want to know?”

 

“Who is he? What does he do?”

 

“Tch. You know the name Fyodor Dostoyevsky and yet you don’t even know who he is.” The condescending look Chuuya gives him stings a little, but he has to admit that Fyodor has kept himself carefully concealed in the shadows.

 

“He’s the leader of The Rats. To put it simply, in Yokohama there are the Rats and the Port Mafia, not that any of that matters anymore… The Port Mafia is in shambles because of those damned rodents.”

 

Dazai soaks up the information eagerly. Chuuya doesn’t seem willing to share anything else, so he pieces what little he has together to form a larger picture. So Fyodor is the head of an organization in this life, one strong enough to dismantle the Port Mafia so quickly and suddenly. Chuuya must’ve had to fight his way out of a mafia war to make it here...

 

By nighttime he tosses two half empty bowls into the kitchen and quietly bids Chuuya goodnight. He receives a grumbled response, but that’s more than enough. The reinforced door is shut tightly and locked for the night, and with a sighing breath Dazai changes into something more comfortable before flopping onto the bed. The handcuff at one corner of his bed is clasped securely over his wrist, and with both safety measures in place Dazai is able to drift off into a dreamless sleep.

 

***

 

Dazai is jolted awake when he rolls off the bed and twists his arm painfully against the handcuffs, the sensation of an inevitable bruise forming under his skin has him hissing and reaching up blindly to the nightstand for the key. After the less than peaceful start to his morning Dazai lumbers over to the door while snagging up clothes from the clean laundry pile and habitually calls Odasaku from his history. After a couple rings, Odasaku picks up and starts with a less than enthusiastic reprimand.

 

“You haven’t been to work in days. Come meet me at the park near the office.”

 

“Odasaku… Can’t you let me slack off for another day or two?”

 

“...You’ll want to see this.”

 

Ahh…

 

That sense of twisting dread simmers in his chest, threatening to boil over at any second. His breath turns shallow, edging on breaking into panicked gasps and it takes all his mental fortitude to swallow everything down. That beast inside his chest must have its belly full of dark and terrible things at this point…

 

“Alright…”

 

The door clicks open moments later, and even as the bright sunlight shines onto his face, his eyes are dull without a trace of luster. Chuuya is nowhere to be seen, leaving behind a neatly folded blanket and a phone placed on top. He stares at the device, then taps the screen to see that the lock has been disabled...

 

***

 

The new morning is beautiful. A soft breeze sends crimson maple leaves fluttering in a soft cascade, tempting Dazai to follow the path of one falling leaf until it lands in a vibrant splatter of carmine blood.

 

His eyes travel upward, tracing the swirling pattern against the stone, a sinister blooming rampion… and at the base rests his dearly beloved. An ominous familiarity flickers at his memory, he’s seen this same message before, a blood red camelia painted on marble floors where Chuuya rests at the center.

 

Dazai ignores every protocol ingrained into him and steps forward to kneel in front of Chuuya, the scrape of his footsteps against bloodstained stone grate loudly in his ear. The deathly pallor of his skin contrasts starkly against the red under his eyes, and even in this frozen, lifeless state, Dazai feels that the redhead appears so tragically beautiful.

 

He feels his heart churning, collapsing in on itself from the weight of bitter sorrow until it becomes a singularity, which then unfurls into inky petals as another emotion paints it black. Ahh.. it’s so hard to place a name on this feeling, Dazai smiles and grips at the grievous wound against his chest, twisting his fingers into the fabric of his shirt.

 

This emotion is something entirely unique to him, born from their suffering together, and because of that Dazai somehow cherishes it.

 

Bitterness? Love? Loss? Somehow, Dazai feels that jealousy is a part of it, because it makes him seethe to think that someone else had claimed Chuuya’s life.

 

That should be a privilege reserved only to Dazai... right?












 

 

 

 

 

The world comes back to him in a rush of morning light and the scent of blood in the cold breeze. When he realizes the severity of his own thoughts, a bitter laugh echoes out of his throat.

 

How terrible, my feelings have truly become a curse.

 

I can’t see anything but you anymore...

 

***

 

“Odasaku, are you happy?”

 

“Mm?” Odasaku stares at Dazai with a mouthful of curry, his younger partner is a picture of carelessness, body and arms draped over the counter with a phone clutched in his hands. Despite the more than content smile stretching across his lips, Odasaku can’t help but feel a shadow clinging to his shoulders like putrid tar.

“Am I happy? Well…” He leans his elbow on the counter and absently nudges at the curry, Dazai’s plate remains untouched on the side.

 

“I have a stable job that makes me enough to support myself and the kids. It’s not nearly as dangerous as my previous job, so I don’t have to worry about coming home safe every night. By my own standards I’m very happy.”

 

“That’s great!” An airy laugh bubbles from Dazai chest as he lifts his arms up and raises the phone over his head, and when he turns to smile, Odasaku sees broken eyes like shattered glass.

 

“I’m happy too, Odasaku. The person I like the most left me a gift. Now I have the information I was never able to find before.” He looks down at the phone again, lips still raised at the corners. Odasaku’s eyes follow the near obsessive swiping and tapping at the phone screen.

 

In the end, he decides not to ask any questions, but makes a mental note to keep an on him for the next few days. Their evening together ends at the start of sundown when Dazai hops off the stool and waves an ominous goodbye, his eyes glowing a dark amber against the dimming sky.

 

“See ya, Odasaku…”

 

***

 

The honeyed sound of a rosined bow against wired strings makes his fingers tremble, the desire to elicit such melodies from his own cello runs like a warm heat in his blood, but now is not the time. Tonight he is prepared to entertain a guest, one he has been expecting for years and years. The symphony playing from his antique record player swells in a crescendo, just loud enough to mask the sound of gunshots and shouts echoing throughout the compound.

 

Finally, when the record winds to a stop with a whisper of fading violins, the crisp sound of knocking raps at his door.

 

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a patient man, but even now he can barely contain the excitement vibrating through his bones.

 

He takes silent steps towards the door and twists the doorknob, slowly revealing his long awaited guest.

 

Dazai smiles at him like a serpent, irisis constricted and gleaming with unbridled wrath. He wears a black suit reminiscent of the past, stained in blood that seeps red into his bandages and drips from his face in viscous droplets. Behind him, Fyodor can see the scattered bodies of his men, the walls themselves are steeped with a copper scent.

 

Fyodor returns the smile with a quiet smirk of his own and slowly steps aside to beckon him in.

 

“Come in, Dazai.”

 

When he turns his back, he feels the prickle of unblinking eyes at the back of his neck and chuckles lowly to himself. It feels as though a winged demon is looming over him, black claws hovering just above his neck. What a beautiful creature he has become.

 

Dazai takes the seat in front of his desk while Fyodor settles into the velvet chair behind it, and before he can part his lips Dazai extends his hand and drops something on the desk. A bloody revolver clatters against the wood and leaves dark streaks.

 

“Something to provide entertainment while we talk.”

 

Fyodor withdraws a white handkerchief and gingerly picks it up by the handle, carefully polishing off the blood before flipping the cylinder open. Five empty chambers and one bullet, his smile widens.

 

“Tell me, Fyodor. Where is the justice in this world?” Once upon a time, Fyodor would preach longingly about a fair world, one where sin is punished with justice. However, Dazai sees very little difference in this world without abilities, if anything, he sees it as equally cruel.

 

“You seem to have the misconception that I wished for a false utopia.” Fyodor closes the cylinder and spins it, their eyes lift to meet as he hands the revolver over to Dazai.

 

“In this world, a man can kill another man on equal grounds. There are no monsters born from abilities, no one innately capable of single handedly bringing down a society… Compare this world to the one you once knew, which is more fair?”

 

Their gazes never break apart as Dazai silently presses the muzzle against his temple. His finger pulls tight against the trigger.

 

Click.

 

He slides the revolver to Fyodor and folds his stained hands atop the desk, finally averting his gaze to stare sear marks into the varnish.

 

“You seem to think of this as a game… Are you admitting that you can be beaten?”

 

Fyodor parts his thin lips and laughs, a delicate but ominous sound like butterflies escaping from a white skull. The trigger pulls a second time.

 

Click.

 

“Of course, Dazai. A game is paltry entertainment when the winner is already determined.” He passes the revolver gently to Dazai, watching him with venomous eyes as the muzzle is raised to his temple again.

 

“I want to see you struggle. I want to see how you’ll break .”

 

Click.

 

“Hm. I’ve wondered about the rules you set in this universe. It’s all missed fate… Neither of us are ever together for long. Once we meet, if we ever meet, one or both of us will die soon after.” The revolver is back in Fyodor’s hands, Dazai lifts his gaze and suddenly there is no anger, no bitterness, only solemn contemplation.

 

“What happens if I just kill you now? Somehow… I doubt anything would change.”

 

Fyodor simply smiles with a tilt of his head and pulls the trigger.

 

Click.

 

A breathy sigh escapes Dazai’s lips as he takes the revolver in hand, this time he takes a few moments to gingerly stroke his fingers over the cylinder. There are only two chances left, either an empty chamber or a bullet in his skull.

 

“I’ve thought about it once… I’ve searched for as long as I can but there was never any trace, no rumors of its existence.” Cold metal presses against his head, Dazai curls his finger over the trigger and places a hand over his chest. His heart instinctively flutters with fear and adrenaline, but his voice is that of a dead man.

 

“No, I’m certain of it. The Book still exists, and you’ve hidden it somewhere.”

 

Their eyes lock in a fervent clash, hardened amethyst and blazing brimstone matching with a knowing darkness.

 

Click.

 

The fifth chamber.

 

One bullet...

 

The breath expels from Dazai lungs as he rolls his head to the side, craning his neck to stare at Fyodor through the locks of his hair with maddened eyes. He straightens his arm and carefully aims the revolver at Fyodor’s head.

 

“That’s the key to winning this game.”

 

Fyodor closes his eyes and turns his face away, his shoulders droop as he lifts a gloved hand and presses delicate fingers against his frowning lips, the perfect image of defeat. However, when those amethyst eyes reveal themselves again, a challenging gleam still shines within them.

 

“Chuuya will come back you know… Even as a lingering spirit, you could spend at least a few months with him.” His lips curl into a smirk behind his gloved hands.

 

“Perhaps you could search for the Book together, that is, until you also perish.”

 

Dazai chuckles wrly, a tragic and broken emotion flickers over his eyes, painting them a stunning color that Fyodor cannot tear his eyes away from.

 

“No… I have a feeling it isn’t within reach anymore, not in this life.” He points the gun away from Fyodor and tucks it under his own chin. The only choice left… is to start over.

 

When he parts his lips to speak one last time, it’s as if the devil himself is growling through his fangs.

 

“For your sake, you should hope that I never find the Book, because once I do… I’ll raze this world to the fucking ground.”

 

His finger slams onto the trigger, shattering his world into bloody shards, and reflected in them is the image of Fyodor drawing a sharp breath, his violet eyes blown wide with trembling excitement and sheer terror.

 

If this life is meaningless and futile…

 

If this world condemns him to an eternity of pain...

 

Then he’ll break it all.

 

He’ll scatter the pieces mercilessly.

 

And from the abyssal darkness, he’ll create his own world.

Chapter Text

In this life, much like the last, Dazai finds himself trapped.

 

The hazy years of his adolescence flicker by in spasming flashes, and all he can do is stare with wide open eyes at the glimpses of people and places. It’s a horrifying feeling, to be trapped in the shell of his body while he tries desperately to move out of his own volition until every fiber of his body feels like it’s being stretched and pulled apart.

 

Then, all of it comes to a shuddering stop, and Dazai is staring at himself in front of a mirror. The frame of his body is thin with wiry muscles packed under pallid skin, still underdeveloped and lankey in appearance. Dazai exhales for what feels like the first time and lifts his hands to touch his bare chest, finally able to move again.

 

His fingertips poke and prod experimentally before finally framing his cheeks, softer and rounder than he last remembered, and when he finally lifts his eyes to meet his own gaze…

 

He sees an abyssal emptiness, dark brown swirling like a miasma, empty beneath all the fog.

 

It’s like there’s nothing left inside of him.

 

He presses at the corners of his lips, pressing and rubbing at his cheeks as he shifts his expression around, as if practicing.

 

When he remembers how, Dazai smiles.

 

***

 

The government office building is awfully cold at night, a waste of air conditioning he feels, but Dazai is much too lazy to find where the thermostat is. Instead he remains draped in a long coat reminiscent of the one he used to wear, if not for the pitch black color. In front of him a computer screen shines its blue light over him as he browses and works.

 

It doesn’t take Dazai long to utilize his breaking and entering skills after regaining control of his body, and for the past several weeks he has been camped out in a seedy government official’s office to absorb any and all information he needed.

 

The plan is relatively simple, gain as much influence and control as he can. If the Book truly does exist in this world, hidden somewhere, then he needs eyes and ears in as many places as possible. The easiest way to do that is to gain control of an organization with far reaching influences and bountiful resources. Taking over the government in secrecy is one option, but terribly tedious with watchful eyes everywhere. If he could get his hands on something like the Port Mafia…

 

Dazai flops backs against his chair with his lips pursed in a pout. His stomach growls in protest against the long hours without a meal, and while he doesn’t necessarily have the appetite to eat, the lightheadedness sticking to the inside of his head tells him he should make a token effort to stay alive. It’s still a while before sunrise, but Dazai decides he’s gathered enough information on networks, government dealings, and underground activities to last him a day of sifting through, so he retrieves the usb drive and casually slinks his way out of the building.

 

The place he’s decided to stay in is considerably nicer than the hovels he’s inhabited in the past few lives. The government official he steals information from already embellishes copious amounts of funds, so Dazai finds it easy to do the same while conveniently having a scapegoat if someone became ballsy enough to point it out.

 

He comes home to an empty apartment, remarkably clean if only because he rarely spends time in it. Dazai stretches at the front door and kicks his shoes off messily before stepping up onto the polished wooden floors, only to feel an uncomfortably tacky sensation under his toes. Upon lifting his foot in inspection he finds a half dried and flakey splotch on the wood and sticking to his sock. Crinkling his nose, Dazai peels the sock off and drops it onto the splotch, using his foot to press down and scrub messily at it until there is hardly a stain left.

 

Picking up the dirtied sock, Dazai makes his way towards the shower where the washing machine sits just outside and lifts up the lid. What’s revealed inside is a shirt steeped in red, stiff and discolored at some spots but vibrant at others. He tilts his head to the side, casually wondering if the shirt is still salvageable or if he should just toss it. After a hum of dismissal, Dazai tosses the sock into the washer and closes the lid.

 

Now… for dinner. There used to be a decent stock of fresh produce in his fridge, the result of having a good week where he happily thought he should try to make something, but of course that plan fell through and left half of the food spoiled. With an exasperated sigh Dazai rummages through the fridge for something he can work with. He backs away with an armful of carrots, onions, and potatoes, the only things that last longer than week, and grabs a pack of curry mix from the cabinet.

 

He haphazardly drops them into the sink with a series of thunks, only to notice afterwards that he had forgotten to clean up the mess from last time. A steady stream of droplets drip from the faucet and plink rhythmically against the vegetables, Dazai peers down at the bloodied knife beneath it all and frowns.

 

“................”

 

He reaches in to carefully dig the knife and vegetables out before giving everything a good scrubbing, and when everything is clean he hums a song to himself while chopping up the potatoes with the same knife.

 

After an hour of staring at the directions and messily pulling things together, Dazai has a decent meal of mild curry on the table, and while it could be considered messy at best, having cooked something for himself brings a small sense of accomplishment that lets him hum in content. Chuuya probably would have scolded him for leaving a mess of potato and carrot peels, but he knows that the redhead would feel at least a little proud that he isn’t eating cold crab meat out of a can.

 

The night is spent in silence with only the sound of the television droning in the background to break whatever horrid thoughts might slip into his mind. Dazai absently taps at his phone to comb through the information he’s snagged from the government official’s computer until his legs starts shaking restlessly.

 

“Ahh! Bored!” He flops backwards onto the couch, feeling irritation rise up in his chest like bile. The restless feeling eats at him, urging his limbs to move or do something , he feels like he’s going stir crazy with how slowly things were going. Perhaps he should pick someone else to steal information and resources from, someone more deeply ingrained in the underground…

 

“Ah-” Dazai’s eyes blink wide in an adolescent innocence befitting his current age. He had completely forgotten about his guest, how inconsiderate of him. Tossing his phone aside and brushing off the momentary lapse of boredom, Dazai trots into his bathroom, sliding the door open to poke his head in.

 

The stagnant scent of blood floods his senses, and if he hadn’t been so used to it by now he probably would have vomited onto the bathroom tile right there. His guest, a private investigator working for shady officials if he recalled correctly, is still in the same spot where he left him, floating in a tub of water, though by now it had turned a mucky rust color. When Dazai approached the dead man, he wrinkled his nose at the innards and organs bobbing at the surface. Hmm, perhaps he shouldn’t have been so enthusiastic about eviscerating the man, but their behavior had frankly annoyed and disgusted him.

 

He still remembers their harsh grip on his arm when they had practically forced themselves into his home, their eyes hungry with the power trip they felt when they saw that Dazai was merely a teenager living alone. They probably underestimated his appearance and felt they could bully him into submission, and bully was probably a severe understatement. If Dazai had to guess, someone probably found out he’d been snooping around places he shouldn’t and sent the man to investigate.

 

Now he has the problem of disposing his guest so it wouldn’t cause any problems. Dazai sighed in annoyance and reached into the tub, his hand disappearing into the opaque cesspool of blood and other fluid to feel around. His hand bumped against some squishy and vague shapes, sending a shiver of disgust down his back until he finally found the plug to drain the tub. Expelling another exhale, he leaned back up and frowned down at the mess as if he were looking at a messy room instead of the result of a brutal slaughter.

 

How should he clean this up? He has no car to take the body elsewhere, and he doubts he could drag it somewhere without being noticed.

 

“Mmm... “ Ah well, he could always deal with it later, Dazai decides with a perky smile. Still, it would be nice to soak in the tub, but he settles on the shower instead. As he strips off his clothes and haphazardly tosses them out of the bathroom, he takes one glance back to the dead eyes staring at him through a cloudy film, then turns away to turn on the showerhead.

 

***

 

The next day comes with a blessing in the form of an invitation, not particularly addressed to him, but the government official he’s been leaching from. There is supposed to be an invitation only gala this weekend, advertised as a purely social occasion, but Dazai knows that it’s more than likely a place for seedy characters to mingle and make agreements under the table.

 

It would be child’s play to break in and pretend to be one of them, Dazai knows exactly how these people act with their bright smiles and gaudy jewelry. Perhaps this would be the perfect opportunity to move up a couple rungs, and if he were lucky, he might run into a familiar face...

 

***

 

By Saturday Dazai is mingling among some of the most influential people in Yokohama, smiling brightly at them with closed eyes to avoid being blinded by the sheer opulence of the atrium. It felt like everything was gilded in gold or lined with marble, the guests themselves seem to glow with light reflecting off every piece of jewelry. Dazai himself is dressed sharply in a white suit with his hair tucked over one ear, knowing exactly how eye catching his is, although he acts modestly and purposefully avoids standing out too much.

 

His appearance is that of a seventeen-year-old, after all, so tonight he decides to play the role of the son and heir to some rich old man’s fortune, and no one dares to bat an eye at him. This allows him the convenience of roaming around freely among the mingling adults, although he has no interest in their friendly banter or ego-stroking fest. No, Dazai’s eyes are scanning the crowd for someone he suspects is attending this gala, although…

 

He lifts his gaze towards the second floor where several booths line the second floor. If he were searching for big prey tonight, then surely they would be up on the second floor, watching the people below like hawks. Having decided his course of action, Dazai slinks his way out of the crowd and into a hallway leading to the elevators.

 

The path to the booths is smooth and uneventful, aside from a few guards along the way, but they fell like sacks of meat and bones with a proper stab or two to the back, nothing Dazai couldn’t easily handle.

 

By the time he’s reached a door to one of the booths, he feels fully refreshed from the bit of exercise he got and places a hand on the doorknob. Of course, the man behind the door never bothered to lock it, so Dazai strolls in with a smile, meeting the glow of violet eyes in the darkness.

 

“Welcome back, Dazai. I’m surprised to see you so soon.”

 

Dazai settles into the cushioned seat next to Fyodor and eyes the man. Fyodor seems considerably older than him in this lifetime, an interesting thing to note, but he thinks nothing of it.

 

“I just couldn’t wait to see you again, after having to leave so abruptly last time.” His lips curve into a charming smile with eyes glimmering in the low light. As loathsome of a man Fyodor is, the soft expression returned to him is equally pleasant, although they might as well be two basilisks staring each other down.

 

“Since you took the time to seek me, I assume there’s something you desire?” Fyodor gently laces his fingers together and rests them under his chin, eyes closing as Dazai stands up and begins to prowl. The younger man drapes an arm over the back of his chair, slowly dragging his fingers across the velvet as he hums in thought.

 

“Well, quite honestly I sought you out to ease my terrible boredom. I knew nothing about you in this lifetime, you could have been a baker for all I know. Still, you’re the only one who can fathom what my struggle is like, and I suppose bad company is still company, right?” Dazai crosses his arms over the chair and leans in against Fyodor’s back to peer over his shoulder.

 

“The other reason I came here is to find someone powerful enough to use as a stepping stone in my search for the Book. Since it seems that you’re quite influential in this lifetime, I suppose I get to kill two rats with one stone.” A soft exhale feathers over Fyodor’s shoulders; he opens his eyes to stare ahead in contemplation.

 

“So, what is it you’ll take from me?”

 

“Hm.” Dazai chuckles softly, the sound of his voice frayed at the edges betraying an exhaustion far beyond his years. When he leans in to whisper lowly, Fyodor can feel the warmth of his breath against his ear.

 

“Your eyes.”

 

“..........”

 

“I’m under the impression that I have no choice in the matter.”

 

“Of course you do,” Dazai purrs in amusement.

 

“I would never rob you of a choice.” From behind the chair, Fyodor can hear the distinct sound of a butterfly knife twirling in Dazai’s fingers. Of course there is always a choice, it’s just that one might not be so appealing in comparison to the other.

 

“I see... Well, since you did win our last game and never claimed your reward, I’ll give you my eyes.” Fyodor makes a show of carefully reaching for a pen and paper on the table beside them to neatly ink down a number. He holds the slip of paper up between two fingers, which Dazai plucks from him eagerly.

 

“By the time you call that number, the branch of my organization responsible for intel and espionage will belong to you, men and infrastructure included. Do what you wish with them.”

 

A single laugh escapes Dazai lips as he straightens up, eyes wide and sparkling like a child who has just received a gift for their birthday.

 

“Ah, this is exactly what I wanted! How generous of you, Fyodor.” The mocking tone in his voice hardly goes unnoticed, Fyodor doesn’t turn around when the doors open behind him, nor does he respond when Dazai departs with a dangerous invitation on his lips.

 

“Let’s chat again sometime, Fyodor…”  

 

Seconds pass, drawing out into minutes, and in the suffocating silence Fyodor chuckles lowly.

 

“It seems you are growing into something truly vile, Dazai.” The excitement swells within him, heating his blood with renewed vigor.

 

“I truly hope you succeed, you have my blessing…”

 

***

 

It takes Dazai several days to sift through the profiles of every single man Fyodor had employed in the branch given to him, a single day to break any connections from the main organization, and another few days to personally interview the men he selected. By the time the week is over, Dazai has sorted out about a third of the men, all people who can be bribed, frightened into submission, or otherwise easily cowed.

 

Right now those men are lined up behind him in a large warehouse belonging to the branch, well… belonging to him now, and on the other side are the rest of the personnelle. He had mandated that every single person gather here tonight, and from the looks of their expressions most of them are either wary or outright contemptuous. Well, that was to be expected. He couldn’t imagine many were happy about having a teenager as their new boss.

 

“Thank you for so diligently attending on such short notice.” Dazai tucks his hands into his coat and smiles, eyes closed and head tilting just slightly in a friendly manner. Of course, that doesn’t do anything to ease the minds of the men on the other side.

 

“I know the sudden change in management might be jarring, and I’m aware that a few who were very loyal to Fyodor think that I might have used some underhand tactics. Rest assured, I won over this branch fairly.”

 

From the back of the crowd, a daring voice speaks up, but Dazai doesn’t bother to single them out.

 

“Impossible… Dostoyevsky-sama values us more than anything!”

 

Ahh… Such delusional loyalty, Dazai is almost envious.

 

“I also understand that most of you are not looking forward to working under me. Luckily for you, I have no intention of employing anyone who might betray me, so I’m letting you go!” The doors behind Dazai and his select line of men open, murmurs start to rumble among the opposite crowd.

 

“Of course, those no longer under my employment are also no longer under my protection, and are effectively my enemy. Now, I have one word of advice for you…” He lifts a hand, and with a clatter the men behind him are pointing their guns at the crowd, creating a firing squad. The clouds part away, allowing pale moonlight to paint over the frightened faces of the doomed, because the person they see before them is far from human. No, that emotionless void of hellfire and brimstone in  crimson eyes staring back at them can only belong to a demon…

 

“Run.”

 

The warehouse lights up with muzzle flashes, screams and panicked cries echo against the sheet metal walls, mingled with miserable prayers for salvation. Dazai exhales softly as the bullets streak past him, watching the bodies fall and crumple with an emotion resembling pity.

 

“You miserable fools… If Fyodor had truly valued you, then he would have never abandoned you to me.”

 

***

 

On his twentieth birthday, two and a half years after he’d acquired his own small organization, Dazai decides to buy himself a present.

 

Chuuya’s apartment is cozy and packed with personality, a bit smaller than what the redhead would usually go for, but every nook and cranny is filled with personal belongings and treasured possessions. Dazai finds himself smiling in nostalgia as he briefly tours the apartment, occasionally fiddling with one of Chuuya’s books or one of the many fancy pens scattered about.

 

It hadn’t taken him long to find out where Chuuya lived with the resources Fyodor so graciously provided him with, but unfortunately he has had to refrain from making any contact all these years. He knows that the moment they meet, one of their lives would swiftly come to an end. Well, of course either of them could die any moment by the whims of fate, but Dazai would rather not hurry it along.

 

Around him a group of highly trained men busily work to install hidden surveillance systems in every corner of the apartment. Yes, this was his gift to himself. If he cannot be with Chuuya in this lifetime, then he might as well make himself as close as possible without the redhead knowing of his existence.

 

He makes his way into the bedroom next, finding the bed an unmade mess with a few clothes scattered about. Something bubbles up within his chest, a bright and refreshing feeling that has him giddy with excitement. Dazai flops face first onto the bed and inhales deeply, the familiar scent of Chuuya enveloping him with the plush comforter. His fingers reach for the edge of a discarded shirt and tugs it close to his chest.

 

The life Dazai has chosen in this time has hardly been easy, he doesn’t think he’s ever felt safe and secure ever since he’d regained control of his body. Now, however, he feels as though he could drift away and leave everything behind. It’s a rare solace he indulges in, but at the same time it… hurts. This is as close as he’ll ever be to Chuuya in this lifetime…

 

Dazai stretches on the bed and considered taking this one shirt back with him, knowing Chuuya will likely not notice, then scans the rest of the bedroom with curious eyes. Much like the rest of his apartment, the small space of his bedroom is littered with books and stray scraps of paper, along with several stacks of music albums. Ah… He wants to know more about this Chuuya.

 

A picture frame on the nightstand catches his eye, and for a moment Dazai mistakes it for a family photo, until he reaches forward to snatch it up.

 

“............”

 

Something... Something horrible and wretched twists in his gut, boiling over and rising until it clogs up his throat. There’s something clawing at the inside of his skull, scraping and gouging as he tries to rationalize what he sees before him.

 

It was a photo of Chuuya, and next to him is a man he recognizes, smiling brightly with a blush on his cheeks while a hand is wrapped intimately around the redhead’s waist…

Chapter Text

He doesn’t want to move.

 

It feels like his heart is fluttering frantically in the worst way, thrumming at the inside of his ribcage as if it were about to suffocate. Dazai holds a shirt to his chest and tucks his nose into the collar, breathing in Chuuya’s scent deeply, letting it lull him back into that false sense of security.

 

The photo frame remains in one piece despite his desire to smash it, because Chuuya would surely know someone has been in his home. After a few moments he’s managed to smother that horribly malicious feeling until all that’s left is a weakly burning sorrow. He wants to say that he’s never been the jealous type, and of course Chuuya would eventually find a partner if he weren’t around in his life, but when Dazai truly thinks back to it…

 

That’s right… when they were much younger, when Chuuya had first joined the mafia, Dazai had thrown a childish tantrum when the redhead went to work under Kouyou, after he went through the trouble of rigging a game just to make him his dog.

 

“Aren’t you my dog? If you’re told that my foot itches, you’d scratch it; if I want to eat soba, you’d threaten the soba restaurant and bring me there; if I want to watch a play, you’d perform by yourself - that is your job!”

 

That was one of the first and only bouts of jealousy Dazai had truly every felt. Nothing else had ever threatened him in the same way, he never had a reason to feel like something he held dear was about to be snatched away. That is, until…

 

Tachihara Michizou.

 

Dazai pulls the shirt down to peer at the frame, Chuuya’s smirking grin matching Tachihara’s toothy smile, one arm wrapped around each other intimately against the backdrop of some amusement park. Somehow, it isn't surprising to Dazai. Even in their past lives Tachihara had always had a great admiration for Chuuya. His boldness, his strength, and the way he always seemed to win… For a brash individual like Tachihara, Chuuya was the epitome of everything he wanted to be.

 

It makes sense… Of course it does. Anyone would make sense beside Chuuya when compared to Dazai himself. Dazai who had tricked and cheated Chuuya at every turn, Dazai who abandoned Chuuya to chase his own selfish ideals, who had wrapped his fingers around that fragile neck.

 

He clenches his jaw tightly.

 

It hurts so much.

 

It makes him want to tear them apart forcibly, to jealously guard Chuuya like a treasure, even if it meant those azure blue eyes would burn in hatred for him. Dazai is an incredibly selfish creature. He tells himself that he has to protect and save the weak in order to honor a promise made too long ago, though by now he’s all but forgotten it. Whatever thread of morality is left frays and snaps, because he doesn’t want to lose what he’s been fighting for all this time.

 

Perhaps he could trap Chuuya in a cage and keep him as a little bird, one that would sing only for him. Perhaps he should throw away all the work he’s done in this lifetime and start over, he’s already taken Chuuya’s life too many times to count.

 

Ah… What is one to do with all these ugly emotions? Was he even human anymore?

 

..................

 

What a foolish question…

 

Dazai nestles into the comforter, telling himself that all will be better once he closes his eyes.

 

***

 

“Dazai-san. We’ve finished installing the surveillance system.”

 

Dazai slowly opens his eyes, wondering how much time has passed since he’d fallen into a dreamless sleep. His right-hand-man, someone he couldn’t bother to remember his name, stands at the foot of Chuuya’s bed stoically.

 

“Ah… Good work. You’re all prepared to leave then?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Mmm…” A calm tranquility from the peaceful rest still drapes over him, his head feels much more clear now that he’s had time to settle down. Dazai slides off the bed, dragging Chuuya’s shirt with him as he pads over to pick up the photo frame.

 

It’s heavy in his fingers, well crafted and obviously well loved. Dazai lifts the frame and smiles solemnly at the happiness captured in those blue eyes. With all the anger and jealousy subsided, Dazai realizes now that he could never destroy that.

 

He leans in and presses an endearing kiss against the glass, tracing Chuuya’s curving lips with his own.

 

Dazai was a fool once, turning his anger and passion against Chuuya when the endless cycle of death weighed too heavily on him. This time, he promises he’ll be different, he won’t hurt Chuuya again.

 

After all, Dazai still loves him unbearably so…

 

***

 

It turns out that patience and a level head is rewarded after all.

 

Dazai kicks his legs up on the control panel and leans back in his chair to smile up at the dozen screens all displaying different rooms and angles in Chuuya’s apartment. Right now Dazai is spending his free time watching the redhead prepare a cup of coffee, and in a few minutes he should be receiving good news.

 

Just as Chuuya finishes his coffee, Dazai’s secretary enters the dark room with a cup of tea in her hands and a tablet tucked under her elbow. She crosses the space between them with clicking steps echoing in the emptiness.

 

“We have the finalized results from the research and development, Dazai-san. I feel you will be pleased with the accuracy of the results.”

 

“We went through so much trial and error, after all.” Dazai appends with a satisfied hum and takes the offered tea, cupping it in his palms to warm his hands.

 

The project he’s invested nearly all of his resources into has finally provided the results he’s wanted, a system to accurately pinpoint the location of the Book in this world. It was not an easy task by any means, and most likely he wouldn’t have been able to pull it off in a universe where abilities still existed.

 

He takes the tablet from her hands and nods in dismissal, the door to his room shuts with a heavy thud, sealing him in this tomb again. A near indecipherable mess of moving graphs and charts dance with fluctuating numbers, not quite the most aesthetic nor efficient, but it tells him what he wants to know. On a small black and green map in the corner, the skeleton of a building is shown with a red marker pulsing slowly.

 

There, in a government building Dazai had scoured in secret years ago, is the heavily protected basement where Arahabaki resides. Within three years, Dazai was able to develop technology that pinpoints the location of immense and terrible power from the sheer energy they leaked into their surroundings. If abilities still existed in this world, the city would be littered in spots of red, but in the world Fyodor created… there are only two sources of such unnatural power in Yokohama.

 

One being the God of Calamity, the baseline his research team had used for the creation of this technology, and the other…

 

Dazai’s finger flits across the tablet screen, and slowly the map pulls away as it locates his true target and reveals another red marker, moving slowly within a building.

 

“...So that’s how it is.” His fingers begin to tremble as he drinks in the information he’s worked so hard to acquire, the final piece he needs in order to take back this world.

 

Expelling a long withheld sigh, Dazai swivels his chair to face a wall and throws the tablet with all his strength, unflinching when it collides against the steel with a clattering crash. It falls to the floor in a broken mess of shattered glass and bits of plastic.

 

To think it would come to this… After all the promises he just made.

 

***

 

“Chuuya, I brought take out. Want to watch a movie while we eat?”

 

“Is it another one of those action flicks with too many explosions and car chases again?”

 

“I mean… It’s still really cool, right?”

 

Dazai smiles and leans into his palm, listening to Chuuya and Tachihara’s conversation with closed eyes. The fragile insecurity in Tachihara’s voice is too obvious and too amusing. He can hear the man’s thoughts now, ‘Chuuya likes action movies right?’, ‘He’s not growing tired of them, right?’, ‘I still think they’re pretty awesome’.

 

Of course Chuuya would grow tired of them. Dazai knows very well that the redhead only enjoys them for so long until he grows tired of the repetitive destruction and predictable fights. If Dazai were to pick a movie for them to watch together, he’d pick some martial arts film or something about a fight club.

 

“You can put it on if you’d like. I’ll just stick to finishing this book.”

 

“Oh… Okay. Here’s your takeout”

 

“...Sorry, Michizou, I’m not too hungry right now.”

 

“Chuuya…? Are you okay?”

 

Mahogany eyes stare at the screen carefully as Tachihara drops everything on the table and crosses the living room to press his palm against Chuuya’s forehead, checking for fever. How sweet, Dazai thinks with a smirk while taking a long sip from his boba tea.

 

“I’m fine. Y’know what, I’m just going to bed.”

 

Chuuya brushes the hand away and stands up, Dazai can hardly stifle a chuckle at the expression Tachihara makes.  

 

“What? We were supposed to spend tonight together-”

 

“I think you can go a week without a good fuck, Michizou. Actually, can you even last a week?”

 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

 

The anger is prevalent in Chuuya’s expression as he wordlessly stands up and heads into the bedroom, only to be stopped when Tachihara bolts in front of him, blocking the way. The insecurity and confusion flares in Tachihara’s eyes, but because he doesn’t know how to fully express it, his face scrunches up into a threatening scowl.

 

“If you have something to say to me then say it.”

 

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that? Aren’t you the one hiding something?”

 

Chuuya gives him another chance, another second to rethink his words as his cerulean eyes plead with Tachihara, but to no avail.

 

“Hah? I’m not hiding anything!”

 

A crash rings sharply against Dazai’s ears, loud enough to make him flinch and slide the headphones off one ear. He glances up at one of the screens to see Chuuya had shoved Tachihara in the shoulder, sending him crashing against the bedroom door. The flimsy door hardly stands a chance against Chuuya’s natural strength and the other redhead’s weight, and for a frozen moment Tachihara is wide-eyed in shock.

 

Then, the irrational anger kicks in and hits like a maelstrom.

 

Chuuya is the first to raise his voice, screaming and growling with bared teeth as Tachihara scrambles onto his feel, only to reel backwards into the bedroom. The accusations fly from his lips with a slew of curses, pointing out every piece of incriminating evidence towards Tachihara’s infidelity.

 

The late night outings.

 

The ignored calls and texts.

 

The eyewitness accounts from the bartenders who often see the redhead.

 

And most damning of all, the clothes left at Tachihara’s apartment, clearly belonging to neither of them while reeking of sweat and sex.

 

Of course Tachihara denies every single accusation with his teeth bared as if threatening Chuuya’s every word, claiming that he knows nothing of said evidence. Dazai leans into his palm and lets the heated argument boil over into a fury and anger that sears away all logic or reason. It hadn’t felt right to set Tachihara up like this, whether it was breaking into his apartment, paying off bartenders, or rigging his phone. In fact, it felt awfully petty, and yet Dazai couldn’t find it in him to stop himself.

 

He hadn’t wanted to hurt Chuuya, after all, so this was the easiest way to break the two apart for the selfish sake of settling his own heart. A viper-like smile curves against his palm as he sighs into it. Besides, if Chuuya and Tachihara couldn’t make it through this ordeal, then in Dazai’s twisted mind, they don’t deserve to be together.

 

Tachihara ends up rushing through the apartment in a destructive storm, not caring for whatever he kicks or knocks over on the way out. A proud and indignant man like Tachihara would never stand for such aggressive accusations, would never back down when someone like Chuuya challenges him so violently, so in the end they leave each other bitter and alone.

 

Chuuya throws himself into bed, his shoulders shaking with anger and hurt.

 

It pains him a bit, but Dazai knows that within the week Chuuya will have broken up with Tachihara, and within a few months the redhead’s wounds will be healed over.

 

It’s better this way, Dazai somehow convinces himself…

 

***

 

“Higuchi… I think I fucked up.”

 

“You think ?” The skeptical raise of Higuchi’s brow clearly expresses her disbelief over Tachihara’s words, especially after the storm within their friend group following the breakup.

 

“I don’t know… At the time I thought Chuuya was just being ridiculous, but then he started pulling out the… ‘evidence’.” He struggles to spit out the last word, hesitating because there is a clear discrepancy between what Chuuya accused and what he actually did. In Tachihara’s mind, he is clearly innocent.

 

“This is just a suggestion but… Maybe you should go apologize to him for cheating.”

 

“You’re expecting me to lie through my teeth?! I clearly did not!” His pride won’t allow that, never.

 

Higuchi gives him a wary side-eye when he slams a fist down on the bartop, disrupting half the guests. Her brows furrow in worry and pity, concerned for her friend yet cautious of her words because she knows how adamant Tachihara can be. The next words were spoken carefully and slowly, forcing him to listen intently.

 

“....I’m not telling you to lie. I’m just saying that you should think about why Chuuya found someone else’s clothes in your apartment.”

 

His first reflex is to adamantly defend his own name, but upon lifting his head and seeing Higuchi’s firm stare, a brief thought flickers through his mind, perhaps he should think about this in a more logical manner.

 

While the missed calls and texts were hardly incriminating, and eyewitness accounts are sketchy at best, Tachihara had indeed found clothes that were not his thrown haphazardly in a corner of his messy bedroom. The evidence is indisputable.

 

“I don’t know… Maybe I… Maybe I got too drunk one night and did something… I don’t remember it but-” That has to be it. If that were the case, then Chuuya had every right to scream at him.

 

“You know Chuuya isn’t a liar, and I don’t think you’re purposely lying either when you say you didn’t do it. However, all the pieces point to one conclusion, even if you can’t remember it.” Higuchi sets her drink down and firmly pats him on the shoulder, mainly to shake off the sudden onslaught of guilt that sieges Tachihara’s mind. His expression collapses into that of utter despair as he thumps his head on the bartop and curls in on himself.

 

“Fuck… I must’ve looked like a lying asshole denying everything redhanded.” Now that he’s convinced that he is in the wrong, Tachihara’s desperately kept boldness starts to crumble.

 

“I fucked up, Higuchi- I’m… such an ass.” The guilt, the self-loathing, the absolute regret drags his heart against his ribcage as he reaches up to vigorously knead his fingers into messy red hair. How could he do this to Chuuya? What kind of man was he to be so stupid and-

 

Tachihara sits up and tilts his head to the ceiling to suck in a breath through his teeth. When he manages to speak again, his voice cracks.

 

“Gods… I just- I love him so much.” He couldn’t leave it at this. His fingers tremble with crackling energy, the unbearable urge to do something about this leaves his body tingling with built up tension. The trigger that snaps him into action is a hard slap on the back from Higuchi.

 

“Then go tell him that.”

 

Tachihara stands up with a screech of the barstool skidding, eyes red and lips set in a determined scowl. He mutters a quiet thanks to Higuchi and throws on that green jacket Chuuya was always so fond of before flying out the door.

 

***

 

Dazai tastes blood on his tongue and tells himself that he shouldn’t chew on his lips so harshly, but the reasonable side of him can hardly compare to the side that is absolutely livid at the sight of Tachihara sprinting up the stairs to Chuuya’s apartment.

 

In all honesty, he had never expected this to happen. It was supposed to be a typical breakup, something that happens in relationships every day because humans were oh so fickle.

 

And yet, Tachihara is bashing his fist against Chuuya’s apartment, pleading for him to open the door.

 

The redhead throws his door open with anger blazing in his eyes, until he sees the expression on Tachihara’s face, so desperate and vulnerable despite how strong and brash he’d always portrayed himself as. Chuuya backs into the apartment as the other man grabs him by the shoulders, raising his voice because he couldn’t bear to keep it in anymore.

 

“Chuuya, please listen to me, I’m so sorry-”

 

Chuuya strikes him across the face with a bare hand, desperate to get the man away from him, but Tachihara continues to speak in a jumbled mess as he staggers.

 

“I have no idea what I did, I really don’t remember, but I know I must’ve made the biggest mistake while drunk off my ass-”

 

Chuuya grabs him by the shirt, fully prepared to throw him out.

 

“Gods... Chuuya, I didn’t mean it. You’re-”

 

There is a moment of hesitation, a moment where Chuuya listens .

 

“You’re so strong and perfect and.. frankly way out of my league. My pathetic drunk self must be the biggest fucking moron in the entire universe because I don’t deserve any part of you, especially not now.”

 

Tachihara collapses onto his knees the moment Chuuya lets go, but the words keep coming, even if they are a mere fraction of what his heart can messily put into speech.

 

“I know you won’t forgive me, and I’ll take any punishment you want, but please… please just understand that I have always admired you and loved you so damn much...”

 

A fists clasps around Tachihara’s collar again, hauling him up onto his feet so Chuuya can scowl maliciously at him, even when his eyes are shining with an aching desire to hold him and never let go.

 

“Dammit, Michizou… You are such a fucking idiot.”

 

The growling insult comes out as hardly threatening when Chuuya’s voice breaks, and suddenly their lips are crashing together in a bruising kiss. They stumble into the bedroom in the midsts of desperate gasps and heavy pants and fall into each other.

 

Chuuya rolls them over and straddles him, ripping off his clothes with the heat of his lingering anger, while Tachihara pleads with apologies. They meld into each other deeply and passionately, marking each other with scratches and bites, fueled by hurt and anger and underneath it all, forgiveness.   

 

Tachihara loves him and worships him fervently, mouth between his thighs and moaning while Chuuya grips his hair and hisses.

 

Dazai throws his headphones off and covers his ears.

 

Chuuya rides him vigorously, rolling his hips in a way that makes him scream, makes him beg for it.

 

Tears are shed, only to be kissed away, and in the late hours of the night, they hold each other dearly.

 

When morning comes, Dazai has dark shadows under his eyes.

 

***

 

“Tch… I have morning classes.” Chuuya throws his arms over his head and hides his eyes in the crook of his elbow.

 

“Mm… Can’t be skipping classes.” The soft nuzzle against his temple only makes him want to sleep in even more, but he knows Tachihara gets unreasonably upset when he skips class, considering the other redhead was a dropout, making Chuuya the one with the brighter future.

 

“Says the one who’s about to skip work. Your boss is already sick of your attitude.”

 

“Urrgh… I won’t skip work if you don’t skip class.” Tachihara begrudgingly rolls off the bed smelling of sweat and passionate sex and doesn’t bother to shower before throwing on his clothes. Let his boss and coworkers see him in his totally fucked out state, he wants the world to know how much he loves his boyfriend.

 

Chuuya would take longer to get ready, so he gives one last goodbye kiss and leaves first, heart and head light with a glowing happiness. He pulls out his phone on the way out of the apartment building, preparing to text Higuchi the good news, but drops it with a clatter when his nose collides against someone’s shoulder.

 

“Ah, my bad.” An unfamiliar voice apologizes, the man he bumped into picks up his phone and hands it to him. When Tachihara glances up, a biting remark on his lips, he sees deep mahogany eyes devoid of life.

 

***

 

“That was beautiful, what you did for Chuuya.”

 

Dazai has never seen anyone else love Chuuya so dearly, or fight for him so passionately. He feels like he’s grown a new respect for Tachihara, a man he had always brushed off as insignificant. Human relationships can truly be spectacular.

 

The response he receives is a muffled whimper.

 

He glances down with brows stitched together and sees Tachihara’s absolutely terrified expression, and honestly it stings a little to have that gaze directed at him. The peaceful sound of birds chirping and leaves rustling is enough to distract him, however, so he lifts his chin to admire the autumn colors of the forest.

 

Tachihara kicks frantically behind him as he is dragged through fallen leaves and gnarled roots, arms bound with a length of rope and wrists blistering red from his struggle. His mind is a racing cacophony of confusion and fear, while Dazai…

 

Dazai feels great pity for him, and nothing else.

 

A withering sigh escapes his lips as he throws the redhead onto the ground and kneels down to straddle him, mahogany eyes brimming with tears of what he thinks is remorse, but it’s been a long while since Dazai has been able to place a name to his emotions. He reaches forward to tear away the makeshift gag made from his tie, and just as Tachihara parts his lips to scream, the blade of a switch knife finds its way under his chin.

 

Everything falls silent, save for the shuddering gasps that Tachihara could not reign in. The redhead watches with shrunken pupils and bloodshot eyes as Dazai tilts his head. Above him a flock of birds escape while he is trapped here, horribly chained to the earth.

 

“Did you truly love him?” Dazai croons softly, voice barely above a whisper as his free hand reaches down to tangle slender fingers into red hair.

 

When he sees nothing but panic and dread within those eyes, Dazai grits his teeth and yanks the redhead forward. Tachihara’s eyes shake in their sockets as he feels cold, unfamiliar lips against his.

 

The shock has him arching his back stiffly, only to be shoved back down by the palm of bandaged hands.

 

A tongue pushes past his lips and invades every crevice of his mouth, twisting skillfully against his and suckling tenderly. Dazai sighs contently and tilts his head to deepen the kiss, tasting him thoroughly in the way a lover might.

 

Disgust and bile rises in the back of Tachihara’s throat as he screws his eyes shut, shudders wrack his spine violently. He clamps his teeth down in an attempt to bite the other man’s tongue off, but Dazai swiftly retracts. When he dares to open his eyes again, Tachihara sees a shadowed face with a curling smile. A deep flush of scarlet paints over the bridge of Dazai’s nose as he huffs breathlessly, brows arched and slanted in an expression of bliss that sickens him.

 

Dazai licks his lips slowly, savoring the lingering taste of Chuuya still clinging to Tachihara’s lips, longing for the cloying spice and sweetness. Then, he slowly leans in and presses his cheek against the redhead’s…

 

“I can still taste him on your tongue…”

 

The hot breath against Tachihara’s neck sears painfully as Dazai growls into his ear.

 

Dazai leans back up slowly, his eyes open to barely slits, revealing only the barest glimpse of hellfire burning behind his long lashes. 

 

In the next moment, the blade drives deep into Tachihara’s chest, piercing his heart cruelly. A single breath rips from his lungs painfully before the rest are caught in his throat, clogged and unable to escape no matter how hard he tries to breathe.

 

Dazai stares him right in the eye and shoves the blade deeper before ripping it out, the blood gushing from the wound pulses to the frantic beat of his dying heart. The convulsions hit hard, his body protesting in its last throes as the tears finally streak down his face, and through it all Dazai holds him tenderly.

 

“I’m sorry… You don’t deserve this…” His voice is soft with the sweet tones of comfort, but the warmth is long gone.

 

Dazai collapses against Tachihara, arms wrapped loosely against his shoulders until the violent shudders die into weak trembles. He counts the heartbeats thumping against his own chest until only stillness remains.

 

In the silence of the forest, under the weight of the sins he’s committed, Dazai smiles bitterly to himself.

 

At this point, he wonders if Chuuya would still be able to recognize him in such a broken, wretched state.  

Chapter Text

It’s been three weeks since that horrid day.

 

The compound once bustling with researchers and personnel is now an empty husk echoing with the footsteps of one lonely man. Dazai has long since cleared out every single person, having let them go with hardly a warning other than a whispered ‘get out’. He could have killed every one of them, could have piled their bodies high and sit atop a macabre throne, but something deep inside his chest has unlodged. Apathy, ruthlessness, and the inhuman ability to feel no remorse has fled him ever since he took Tachihara’s life, leaving him uncertain and unsettled.

 

To think a monster such as him has the audacity to feel… regret , even though he knows that he wouldn’t have done things differently if he went back a month in time. How deplorable.

 

Having spent the better half of the month in isolation, Dazai feels the need to get out, to get away from this steel cage lit by dozens of static monitor screens. He no longer spies on Chuuya, hasn’t done so since that day because he doesn’t want to watch the redhead grieve over another man.

 

Dazai stands up, dizzy with the sudden drop in blood pressure, and blinks down at a haphazardly repaired tablet. The fruit of his project, the device serving to track down the Book mocks him with a blinking red dot. The sight of it still infuriates him, but Dazai gently flips it facedown and tiredly heads towards the exit, deciding to visit a certain rat .

 

***

 

“You must find it so amusing to see me struggle like this…” Dazai accepts the offered tea and takes careful sips, the bitter red of his eyes reflecting in its rippling surface.

 

“I find it tragically beautiful, and at times… absolutely wretched.” A serpentine smirk rims the edge of the cup as Fyodor stares pointedly at him, eyes ravaging his exhausted form. Dazai’s fingers tighten around the cup.

 

He wants to eviscerate the man with his bare hands.

“No doubt my wretchedness serves well to stave off that boredom of yours… Unfortunately this world you’ve created coming to an end soon. I’ve located the Book…” In fact, he’s known where it is for a month now, keeping the knowledge deep inside his chest to rot and fester.

 

Fyodor remains silent, simply setting his cup down to trace a finger around the rim in contemplation. He seems hardly perturbed, despite the apparent checkmate. On the contrary, Dazai sees his the corner of his lips curl in sinister amusement.

 

“Is that so?” The man rises from his seat slowly and leans forward, breaking into Dazai’s space to brace a hand against the back of his chair, effectively pinning him to his seat.

 

“Then you must know that the only way to actually acquire it is to tear him apart… right?”  

 

Dazai’s fingers tighten against the seat cushion.

 

“How hypocritical… You promised you’d never hurt him like that again.”

 

The tightness in his chest is becoming unbearable. Dazai turns his head away, only to have Fyodor lean in further to smirk against the shell of his ear, his poisonous words burning into his heart.

 

“And yet, you’ve already hurt him in a way that is so much more devastating.”

 

He doesn’t want to hear it, tries to close his eyes to hide, but the image of Tachihara’s dying gaze reminds him of the bitter truth. In blind pursuit of his selfish desires, Dazai is destroying the one he loves the most.

 

“He’s heartbroken, you know? You must be very familiar with that feeling… When there are no tears left to cry, only that tightness in your chest and the deep seated sorrow…”

 

Dazai parts his lips and chuckles. Between his bitter laughter and tired sighs, he can almost hear the sound of something inside him cracking.

 

“I’m a foolish man…” He admits quietly.

 

“Yes, I’ve already hurt him so much, broken my promise to him a thousand times over.” The weight of truth is a heavy burden to bear, and if he still had a beating heart…

 

Dazai would break.

 

Fyodor swells with elation, words of gloating victory resting on his tongue, but when Dazai opens his eyes, he freezes.

 

An amber light burns within the hollow of his eyes, a thousand lifetimes of torment and suffering emblazoned in his irises. Suddenly, his voice drops to a dangerous growl.

 

“However, if you think my regret will stop me from retrieving The Book, then you’ve been watching all these years without learning a single thing about me.” He smiles, legs uncrossing and he leans forward to stand up, forcing Fyodor to stumble backward.

 

“If I have to stain my hands one more time to ensure him a future eternity of happiness, then…” Dazai’s voice tapers off into a quiet whisper, and with a silent resolve he turns to leave with Fyodor’s voice chasing his back.

 

“You never cease to amaze me, Dazai. I am utterly captivated…”

 

His hand grips the doorknob, but it refuses to budge.

 

“Still, I haven’t had my fill of fun…” In that brief moment of sinking dread Dazai hears the click of a gun cocking, his knuckles turn white from the force of his grip as he bites his lip in frustration.

 

It seems that fate still has one more obstacle for him…

 

***

 

How long has it been now?

 

Many lifetimes it feels.

 

“.............”

 

In reality, it’s been about a month and two weeks. Chuuya had only recently stopped himself from visiting Tachihara’s grave every day, only because the piling work was starting to weigh him down. Now he only visits on the weekends, taking the time to carefully wash the stone grave, ladling water over it solemnly before setting down his favorite snacks and lighting incense.

 

He finds it calming to press his palms together in a silent prayer, and even if he has nothing to say he simply sits there and stares at the engraved name. Though lately… it felt as though someone were watching him.

 

At first it raises a sense of alarm within him, considering how violently Tachihara had been killed. The fear of the murderer lingering around him leaves him in a constant state of awareness, but even then… he feels it more acutely than someone simply stalking him.

 

He feels it staring at him from within his home, feels an invisible set of eyes locked onto him as he sleeps.

 

It feels like something is haunting him.

 

***

 

Monday comes with a gentle rain and chilling fog that clings to his windows. Chuuya has no idea when he passed out, or how long he slept, but the ache under his eyes tells him that he needs much more rest. If only that were an option.

 

When he idly flicks on the television, there is a news segment about an upcoming festival, inviting people in the area to come enjoy. Now that he thinks about it, it’s that time of year when spirits supposedly return to the world and families would visit their ancestors’ graves. He makes a small mental reminder to spend some time with Tachihara this weekend, perhaps even spend a couple hours at the festival.

 

The absently floating thoughts in his mind keep him occupied, help to drive away the grief that has been his close companion for weeks now. In fact, Chuuya finds himself lost in thought enough to completely miss the person standing in front of his front door when he swings it open. He nearly collides face first into them, only narrowly avoiding them when he reels backward with wide eyes.

 

“Excuse me…” With a quick apology Chuuya nods and closes the door behind him, turning his back to lock the door, and that is when he feels a touch against his elbow.

 

Immediately the redhead whips back around with a wary scowl on his lips, staring the stranger straight in the eye.

 

His warm, mahogany eyes seem… so familiar.

 

“You…” They incredulously blink at him, the handsome features of their face seem almost innocent with surprise, albeit a bit weary.

 

“Do I… know you?” Chuuya backs himself against the door, hand discreetly closing around his keys in a fist with the keys slotted between his fingers. After what happened with Tachihara… he could never be too safe.

 

“Sorry. You just look like someone I know.” They smile charmingly and back away, but Chuuya feels irritation rolling up his spine. He doesn’t appreciate being lied to.

 

“I see. Then…” Chuuya eyes him cautiously, not bothering to hide the distrust on his face as he moves along. He makes it two steps before hesitating, his little finger itches as if something were tugging on it, then turns around and reaches for the stranger suddenly.

 

His fingers feel the fabric of their sleeves, press against the solid form of their arm, only to slip through a second later.

 

Two sets of eyes widen as their gazes collide…

 

***

 

Dazai had been convinced that he’d lost once again. Two weeks ago, he had been standing in Fyodor’s office, brimming with determination in his heart, only to have a bullet buried in it. He left that office not as a living man, but as a ghost with a timer ticking down until his next incarnation.

 

Now… Dazai finds himself sitting in Chuuya’s living room, after spending the last week lingering around his home, watching and waiting but never able to make himself known. That was, until Chuuya opened the door and jolted upon seeing him, actually seeing him.

 

“So you’ve been stalking me for nearly two weeks now?” Chuuya plops down on the floor in front of him while Dazai simply nods with his eyes downcast.

 

“How have I not seen you until now? Do spirits just… randomly reveal themselves?”

 

“Who knows?” Dazai shrugs.

 

“Perhaps it’s just that time of year… Perhaps fate simply decides when.” A cruel, scripted fate that is…

 

“Why me?” The hesitation and uncertainty in Chuuya’s voice shows as a pale light in his eyes.

 

Dazai, chin resting in his hand, tilts his head and smiles.

 

***

 

“Are you planning to attend that festival? The one that’s been advertised on the television.”

 

“Hm? Oh, that thing?” The redhead kicks his leg idly against the couch, a towel draped over his wet shoulders and a popsicle stick between his lips.

 

“If that’s something you want to do, we can check it out. I should be free this weekend.” Something clatters at his side. He glances over to see Dazai holding his fingers above the pencil jar beside the couch, the sound having come from his attempt to pick up a pen. Dazai’s shoulders rise and fall slowly in a sort of dejected sigh, before the ghost floats over to him with a small smile and bright eyes.

 

“I want to go with Chuuya!”

 

“M-Mm, okay.” A stutter tumbles out of his lips involuntarily, caught off-guard by how suddenly cheerful the ghost sounds despite acting so solemn normally. Their stares persist past several long seconds, and Chuuya assumes that something softens in his expression because Dazai tilts his head curiously.

 

“Chuuya, you seem awfully distracted by my face. Could it be, you’ve finally warmed up to me?” His face twists into a smug grin, one that riles up Chuuya more than it should have in an angry reflex.

 

“Don’t get any wrong ideas. I’ve just grown used to be haunted, more quickly than I would imagine… Something about you seems familiar. Are you sure we never met before you died?” He doesn’t notice it immediately, but something shifts in Dazai’s demeanor. The slight rise of his shoulder, the perfectly poised calm, and the unreadable gaze all betray Dazai’s defensiveness when it comes to the question.  

 

The ghost knows something that Chuuya doesn’t, guards a secret clasped against his chest that couldn’t be pried away no matter how hard he tried. Chuuya would be a fool to trust this man in any capacity, and yet…

 

Dazai smiles enigmatically at him, eyes closed to conceal whatever devilry lies beneath, and speaks in a gentle tone.

 

“I’m sure we haven’t met before. At least, not in this lifetime.”

 

And indeed, Chuuya feels utterly foolish when he accepts the answer with little more than a sigh.

 

***

 

“I don’t have anything to wear to the festival.”

 

“How about something warm? Like…” Dazai runs his fingers along the line of clothes before stopping in front of a navy blue coat. The corner of his lips crinkle. He likes the thought of Chuuya wearing blue.

 

“I was talking about traditional clothes but…” The redhead drags said coat from its hanger, rubbing the soft wool between his fingertips with furrowed brows.

 

“This’ll do.”

 

As he undresses, Dazai wonders if deep down he still remembers that day they bought their first suits together in a lifetime long past.

 

“A blue suit? Of course you’d pick something so gaudy.”

 

“Better than the black you always wear. What, you got a problem with it?”

 

“Hmm.” Dazai leans into Chuuya’s back, playfully slinging his arms over lean shoulders.

 

“No, I quite like it actually.” After all, blue has always been Dazai’s color, and he loves it when Chuuya wears blue.

 

***

 

On the train ride to the festival, Dazai stands next to where Chuuya sits with a pout. He’d gone through the trouble of picking out something for Chuuya, only for the redhead to pair it with an awful forest green scarf and that out of place hat of his. Upon complaining about it, he quickly received a casual middle finger and they’ve been silent ever since, Chuuya opting to browse his phone for the ride.

 

“Dazai.” A quiet voice draws his attention, but when Dazai glances down, Chuuya is still staring at his phone with a fist tucked under his chin. He almost convinces himself that he misheard, until the redhead speaks again.

 

“Are you a bad person?”

 

The air around them seems to tighten and constrict around his throat. Dazai instinctively grips at a metal bar, only to have it slip right through his fingers. There’s an electrified moment of uncertainty where Dazai stares at that hauntingly calm face, wondering what exactly had brought up the question.

 

“Why do you ask?”

 

“.........” Chuuya still doesn’t look away from his phone.

 

“I just have a gut feeling when it comes to people. Something about my senses.”

 

The implications are ominous, and for a moment Dazai entertains the thought of telling Chuuya everything, from the desperation of his past lives to the blood of his lover on his hands. Instead, he plays along with the calm and sits down, leaning in just enough for Chuuya to feel his presence against his shoulder. With a somber smile, Dazai answers with his own question.

 

“What do your senses say about me?”

 

Chuuya turns away from him then, hiding his face with chin over one shoulder. The silence drags longer in his mind than in reality, and when the long forgotten prickle of anxiety crawls up his spine, Dazai realizes that he dreads Chuuya’s answer.

 

The silence breaks when Chuuya heaves a heavy sigh, hands clasping together on his lap.

 

“I wonder…”

 

***

 

For once in this unyielding cycle of hellish nightmares… Dazai feels… content. Even with the looming threat of everything he’s built up in this current life unraveling, even knowing that nothing will matter if he doesn’t act soon, Dazai feels relaxed and whole enough to smile genuinely at Chuuya.

 

The Autumn night is chilly and dark, but the festival grounds are warm with bustling life and lit with the orange glow of paper lanterns. And among all the noise and festivities, Chuuya stands out among them like a gem, a paper boat of okonomiyaki in his hands while his deep azure eyes browse each stall. Hardly a word is passed between them, Chuuya too busy enjoying his first time at a festival, while Dazai is more than happy to take in every little nuance and difference about him in this world.

 

Perhaps it’s because Chuuya is younger in this lifetime, but Dazai senses a sort of blissful innocence in the redhead. Well… innocence was never a word he could equate to the other, but there was a facet to Chuuya that revealed itself rarely, and it took the form of a smile curled up at each corner of his lips and wondrous eyes. Chuuya seems happy, even with the bags still clearly noticeable under his eyes, even with the longing stares into empty space whenever he wishes that Tachihara were there to enjoy with him.  

 

Dazai makes the assumption that Chuuya grew up happily in this lifetime, and with a mirthful smile he laments the fact that he’d quite effectively ruined that happiness by killing Tachihara.

 

“Oi, are you even listening?” Suddenly those blue eyes are staring right at him, a brow quirked in mild annoyance for his apparent lack of attention.

 

“Hm? Did you say something, Chuuya?” His immediate reaction is to don a playful smile meant to tease the redhead into irritation, and it works for a few seconds when Chuuya bristles in indignation, until his expression softens into a sympathetic calm.

 

“Let’s go somewhere more quiet.” Suddenly he veers away from the crowded stalls, slinking away into a beaten path through the forest. The path takes them up a hill where there is a high clearing fenced off by a wooden railing, a spot giving a clear view of the night sky above and the river below.

 

“Chuuya?” Dazai lingers behind him, watching as the redhead peers over the railing before ducking under it to plop down at the ledge, his feet dangling over a sheer drop. For a moment Dazai considers scolding him for perching somewhere so dangerous, but Dazai himself had always loved dangerous heights, so he finds a spot next to him.

 

“Hm. This looks like it’d be a nice place to watch the lanterns float down the river.” Chuuya had seen it on television so many times, square lanterns cast into the river so send the souls of the departed away. Under his breath, Chuuya murmurs quietly.

 

“I should’ve sent a lantern for Tachihara… Ah, well there were a lot of things I should’ve done for him. He was my previous boyfriend. No longer with us.” Dazai remains silent beside him, until he senses a movement at his side and looks down to see Chuuya nudging an elbow at his incorporeal form.

 

“Oi, this is the part where it’s your turn to tell me what’s been troubling you.”

 

Dazai chokes on his own breath, or he would’ve if he actually still breathed, and bites back a fit of laughter, much to Chuuya’s annoyance.

 

“Is that your way of asking what’s wrong?” Well, to be fair, in all of their lifetimes Chuuya has never been a subtle or smooth talker. It was always explosive arrival after explosive arrival, showing up to terrorize whatever poor sod was in his way that day and leaving once things were settled with his fists or threats. Velvety words and web spinning was always Dazai’s forte, not Chuuya’s.

 

“I dragged you all the way out here because you were spacing out earlier with that dumb look on your face, like you had something heavy on your mind.” Chuuya curled his lips to show a flash of teeth, but Dazai finds it more endearing than threatening.

 

“Well if Chuuya insists.” Dazai sings back to him more jokingly than anything, but when it comes down to it, when he takes that deep calming breath and lets his facade break for just a second…

 

“..........” It feels as if the universe were caving around on him, and he’s just so exhausted.

 

“Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing is right.” It begins with an uncertain whisper, a vague confession at best, and Chuuya is scoffing beside him.

 

“Funny how a dead man is saying that.”

 

“I’m not doing it for myself, mind you.” Dazai retorts with a pout of indignation, visibly bristling and raising his shoulders, just a touch frustrated that Chuuya doesn’t know everything is for his sake.

 

“I’m doing it for someone I love. I… I’ve hurt them, and I’ll probably hurt them again, but it’s the best for them.” His voice trickles off into a forlorn sigh, and while Dazai is hard pressed to feel remorse for his actions, he regrets causing Chuuya so much grief along the way.

 

Suddenly, Chuuya’s words cut through the night.

 

“What makes you think you can decide that?”

 

In a span of mere seconds, Dazai’s hardened resolve cracks and bleeds uncertainty into his heart as he turns to stare wide-eyed at Chuuya, and the brutally honest and sincere gaze that meets him stings. Seeing Dazai’s shock, Chuuya averts his gaze and begins elaborating.

 

“I don’t know about you or this person you love, but I hate the thought of controlling someone else’s fate. I’ve worked hard to find myself, to find my own identity.” He’d like to think that he alone is responsible for himself.

 

“The thought of someone else dictating my own life, it’s unbearable.”

 

His world shatters.

 

There’s static in his brain.

 

His strength, his resolve, the promises made an eternity ago.

 

He hardly remembers them anymore, what was he fighting for again?

 

This is all for Chuuya, right?

 

This is all for them.

 

“Dazai?” Something is awfully wrong with the other, Chuuya can see it in the way he stiffens up like a corpse and stares blankly ahead. Sensing that he’s unlocked a Pandora’s Box with the conversation, Chuuya makes the decision to retreat, but just as he stands up on the ledge, a broken voice whispers his name.

 

“Chuuya…” Dazai rises with him, floating in the air above the steep drop where his feet dangles. The streaks of moonlight cut through his translucent form, and yet when he gazes lovingly into Chuuya’s eyes, there are only pits of black.

 

Something touches against Chuuya’s neck. He jolts and finds that Dazai’s fingers are sliding over his neck in a mockery of a loving caress, tangible for the first time since they’ve met.

 

“Look… Isn’t the moon beautiful tonight?” The ghost slides around him to press his chest into Chuuya’s back, covering him in an embrace that feels so familiar…

 

With those cold fingers around his neck, Chuuya lifts his gaze to see the full moon beaming down on them.

 

Behind him, Dazai leans in to place his shoulder against Chuuya’s shoulders, his fingers twitch against the warm pulse beneath.

 

He cannot allow himself to swim in this uncertainty… He cannot hesitate or it will cost him everything. Dazai knows exactly where The Book is, and there was no telling if it would change location in the next life.

 

He has to act now.

 

Dazai squeezes his hand down on Chuuya’s shoulder, biting his lip as he wills himself to remain tangible for just a second, one second is all he needs.

 

Chuuya’s body lurches forward, his breath hitching violently as he feels himself pushed sharply, and for a moment the steep drop below flashes threateningly before his eyes.

 

Fear, adrenaline, and a biting sense of betrayal flits through his mind all at once, faster than the rapid thrumming of his heart as he plants his feet hard into the crumbling dirt and throws himself backward, away from the ledge. His head bashes painfully against the railing, but he grabs onto it with shaking hands and hauls himself back to the other side.

 

Chuuya sees a glimpse of Dazai’s legs on the other side of the railing, but he doesn’t dare look up to see his expression, doesn’t even find the breath to scream his anger.

 

Instead, he turns his back and runs...

 

***

 

“You know of the red string of fate, don’t you?” Dazai smiled and held his little finger up, tugging Chuuya’s along with it.

 

“This way, our fates will be connected, and we can see each other again in the next life.”

 

“You really believe in something like that?”

 

“No, but here’s to hoping.”

 

Let’s meet again soon…

 

Chuuya wakes up to the fading sound of a familiar voice and a forgotten promise still lingering in his dreams. The cold mist and dew of the morning clings to his skin and makes it hard to breathe, but Chuuya pushes himself up regardless. Instinctively he reaches up to press the back of his hand against cold stone, and looking up he sees an expanse of white mist blanketed over the cemetery.

 

His fingers flatten against the gravestone, finding solace in the carved characters of Tachihara’s name. Of course, comfort only settles momentarily in his heart when it is swept away by that awfully familiar voice speaking through the fog.  

 

“I thought I’d find you here.” Dazai approaches him like a wraith, eyes downcase and hands hidden within his pockets.” When he stops in front of the redhead, he sees the way Chuuya bristles warily, all mistrust and bitterness, and his heart squeezes unbearably. His eyes flicker up to the gravestone where Chuuya had curled up against, and with a guilt-ridden sigh he kneels down to meet blue eyes.

 

“Did you love him?”

 

“Yes.” Chuuya answers without hesitation, his teeth grit and canines bared. Dazai closes his eyes and lets his sins weigh on him. If Hell were to drag him into its abyss no, well… Dazai can’t say he wouldn’t deserve it.

 

“Why are you here. What do you want with me?” After what happened last night, the warmth and kindness in Chuuya’s voice had crumbled away into malice. For a moment Dazai tilts his head and blinks owlishly at him, but when he parts his lips to speak, he just… could not give him a reason. At least… one not rooted in selfish desires or deluded promises.

 

“I think I’m going mad. No, I’ve already lost myself ages ago.” He answers at last.

 

“It’s hard for me to justify anything anymore…” All he knows is, he’s running out of time. It won’t belong before he completely fades from this world and is thrown into the next.

 

“Chuuya… Please-” Dazai reaches for him suddenly, and in that split second Chuuya reflexively jolts backward, only to collide against the gravestone at his back. The eyes he once knew to hold so much warmth are nothing but black pits now, and instead of expressing love they scream their madness at him.

 

Please, this is all for you.

 

I want to hear you laugh again.

 

I want to see you smile again.

 

I want you to look at me like I’m the only one in the world.

 

The only way that can happen is… if everything goes exactly my way.

 

A sharp gasp escaped his lips before his throat seizes up, Chuuya stares up with wide eyes and all he can see are mahogany brown muddled with desperation and a silent apology. A searing pain digs through his chest, he feels fingers prying between his ribcage to reach for his heart.

 

One last gentle whisper caresses against his ear before his body lurches forward with the visceral sensation of something being ripped right out of his chest. Chuuya braces himself with one arm, breath heaving in gasps and pulse pounding in his ears. What he sees on the crimson stained concrete before him is a glowing red mass forming into the shape of a book, and with one final shudder he collapses onto the grave and bleeds out.

 

***

 

Chuuya doesn’t know what happens next, nor does he know the entirety of everything that’s happened before. All he knows is that he recognizes this scene, the stars and galaxies collapsing around them and showering across the black expanse like glass rain. The universe is rapidly destroying itself, as dictated by the pages of The Book, and those pages now rest in Dazai’s hands.

 

The sound of a pen frantically scratching against paper calls him to turn around, and Chuuya sees the shaking hands and exhausted face of the man he once loved.

 

“Dazai.” He calls out to him, approaches him and clasps his hands around his arms, but Dazai is still writing desperately.

 

“Dazai.” He tries again, sternly this time, and finally the pen halts. Dazai looks up, his eyes like shattered lights. Chuuya doesn’t need to know everything that’s happened in every lifetime, he doesn’t ask, but he can see that Dazai is so tattered and broken.

 

“What the hell have you done to yourself?”

 

Dazai shakes his head and presses his lips tight, unwilling to answer because there is no time. Fyodor had created a ticking time bomb by hiding The Book within Chuuya’s heart, setting the world to recreate itself once the two of them perished and leaving so little time for Dazai to correct it once he got his hands on it. When Dazai returns to writing again, he gives a murmured answer, an excuse if anything.

 

“I’d rewrite the entire world’s lifespan if I could… So that nothing like this can ever happen to us again, but there’s no time for that. Instead, if I can just ensure that everything can go my way-” He doesn’t realize how hard he’s clenching his jaw, or how hard his fingers shake as he writes.

 

“If everything can go my way!” His voice rises in an anguished crescendo, until Chuuya cuts him off by pressing him into a tight hug.

 

The Book and pen drop out of his hands, because after everything that’s happened, after all that he’s done to hurt Chuuya, he didn’t think that he could be held like this again.

 

“You’ve fallen so far…” Chuuya whispers mournfully against his ear.

 

“What will become of the world now?”

 

“.............” Dazai carefully wraps his arms against Chuuya and buries his nose into auburn locks, breathing in the comforting scent and allowing his shoulders to tremble.

 

“You won’t remember anything before this… You can forget all the pain and live in happiness, I’ll make sure of that.”

 

“And what about you?” Somehow, Chuuya already knows the answer.

 

“I’ll remember everything. I have to, if I’m going to prevent this from happening again.”

 

“I see...”

 

So Dazai will live as a broken man, and when the darkness around them starts fading into white, Chuuya knows it’s too late to change that.

 

Instead of speaking another word, Chuuya holds him tighter and makes a promise to himself, to the both of them.

 

Dazai has torn himself apart, but Chuuya will put him back together.

 

Even when the world inevitably falls to ruin by Dazai’s hands, Chuuya will be there to gather the pieces and mend him in crooked seams.

 

When Dazai sighs tiredly against his shoulder and closes his eyes in resignation, Chuuya opens his and lets the fire of his resolve burn within them.

 

Let’s meet again soon. This time, I’ll be the one to save you.