“Atsushi said you’d be here.”
Dazai’s eyes snap open and he’s briefly blinded by a stray beam of midday sun. Apparently, he’d dozed off. Blinking, the image of his partner, dappled with sunlight filtered through the leaves above, comes into focus. He sits up straighter against the headstone behind him. “Ah, Kunikida-kun,” he says with a yawn and a stretch. “How nice of you to come and wake me from my nap.”
Kunikida furrows his brow, and if Dazai had to guess he’d say the man is trying to decide if it’s okay to scold him for falling asleep or if he deserves a pass simply because of the setting. It must be evident even to Kunikida, who knows nothing about the matter, that this is the grave of someone important to Dazai. He hates that it makes Kunikida hesitate. He hates that anyone knows about this in the first place. He would greatly prefer if people would continue under the assumption that he doesn’t have a past, that he’d just sprung up fully formed and fully suicidal from a hole in the ground somewhere.
Apparently, Kunikida abandons the idea of chastising him. “We have a client coming in soon and the President wants the two of us on it.”
“Hmmmm, sounds troublesome,” Dazai drawls, yawning again for effect. The slope of Kunikida’s eyebrows deepens. “I think I’ll sit out on this one.”
“Not an option.”
“Sit with me, Kunikida-kun,” Dazai says as airily as he can manage, completely on a whim. He doubts Kunikida will actually consider it, but he’s cultivated a lazy reputation. It wouldn’t do to give in to work so easily. As such, he scoots over slightly and pats the ground next to him.
Kunikida’s eyes narrow suspiciously behind his glasses. “Why?”
“Why not? It’s a lovely day out, the sun is shining, the shade is nice, do I need a reason?” He plasters on a winning smile—also the expression most likely to infuriate his partner.
To his surprise, the straight-laced blond does actually seem to be thinking it over. “I did leave a bit of space in my schedule in case you weren’t here…” he mutters, mostly to himself. “Even so, I don’t even know who’s grave this is, I couldn’t possibly—“
“He wouldn’t mind,” Dazai interrupts. Odasaku wasn’t the kind of person who would particularly care who does what at his grave, within reason. Nothing ever seemed to phase him, completely unlike Kunikida. Nonetheless, Dazai thinks the two would’ve gotten along incredibly well. There have been many times where Kunikida has reminded him so clearly of Odasaku that he can’t breathe, that for a moment it seems as though the gray eyes he’s looking into are tinted blue instead of green.
Kunikida heaves a sigh and joins him on the ground. Dazai grins in victory. “Looks like even Kunikida-kun can appreciate an afternoon like this~”
“I just figure you’re less likely to try and throw yourself into the river on the way back if I comply with your stupid demands now.”
“You’re not wrong~”
The two of them fall into mostly comfortable silence, although Kunikida seems a bit impatient. A breeze sifts through the branches above, twisting the kaleidoscope of light and shadow cast onto the two men below. Dazai could almost fall asleep again, but he won’t do that. Needling Kunikida is fun, but this is a nice moment and he’d hate to ruin it.
“He’d be proud of you,” Kunikida says suddenly. “Whoever’s buried here, I mean. And I’m proud of you too, for the record.”
Though he wasn’t moving anyways, Dazai feels as though he freezes, his lungs seizing and his heart pausing in its rhythm without his permission. He knows he’s supposed to react somehow, but his mind displays nothing but a blue screen.
I’m proud of you. He wonders if anyone’s ever said that to him before. He supposes someone must have, but the voice that supplies it in his head is Mori’s and its tone is soaked in saccharine deceit. The gruff voice some part of him longs to hear those words in is silent. Perhaps he is not so different from a former subordinate of his, seeking praise from someone who is no longer around to give it.
“I just… felt the need to tell you that, for some reason,” Kunikida continues in the absence of anything from Dazai. “I’m not really sure why. Anyways, they’re waiting for us back at the Agency, so—“ He begins to stand, but Dazai subconsciously reaches out and grabs onto his wrist, preventing him from getting past an awkward crouch.
“Do you mean that?” Dazai asks in a voice that’s too fragile, too sincere for his own liking.
“What? That I’m proud of you?” Kunikida turns on his heels to face him, still crouching awkwardly. Dazai has yet to let go of his wrist.
“Of course.” He adjusts his glasses with his free hand as if to indicate exactly how serious he is. “Although, I suppose I shouldn’t have spoken on behalf of—“
“If Kunikida-kun is proud of me, then Odasaku is as well.” Dazai surprises himself with the confidence of that statement even as his voice shakes, but he knows it’s true. The knowledge sends something warm flooding through his hollow chest and wets the corners of his eyes even as a smile tugs on his lips. “You’re quite alike, you know.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” Kunikida says and moves his hand to grip Dazai’s wrist in return, standing fully and pulling Dazai along with him. They let go of each other and Kunikida turns and begins to walk away. “Perhaps you could tell me about him sometime.”
“Perhaps.” Dazai wipes furiously at his eyes. If he’s smiling, why does he also feel like sobbing? He hasn’t cried for… has it really been almost five years now? You “good people” are going to be the death of me, he thinks as he tries to stem the flow of his tears. By the time he manages to get himself in order, Kunikida is already significantly ahead of him, and he has to jog to catch up.
“Thank you, Kunikida-kun,” he says, falling into step with the other man. Kunikida offers no verbal response, but reaches over and ruffles his hair.
We’re all proud of you, idiot.