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How long had he tried to evade them? It was some time. He didn’t think they’d go after him for so long when the sun was high in the sky, and by the time it was an orange hue in the horizon. Sweat beaded on the side of his face, his legs shaky from running as he came to an underpass where he stepped into the shadows, and more of the men wearing black suits and white shirts beneath drew closer. 

He didn’t understand why they came after him. He didn’t want to go to the Armed Detective Agency. He could deal with these people himself. It would be easy to ask for help, but the argument he had a few days ago was still fresh on his mind. 

Dazai hadn’t said a thing to him during and after. Kunikida couldn’t ignore the sinking in his chest when Dazai couldn’t seem to acknowledge what they had was more than just a partnership. 

Atsushi had tried to apologize, but Kunikida told him that it was fine. Dazai still clung to the past that haunted him, and Kunikida wasn’t there to mend what was still trying to heal. Maybe he wanted to be known more than the person that had complemented Dazai, maybe there was a place that could make sense than their skills, that even if their morals didn’t match up correctly, there would always be something there that said more. 

And now that he had his answer, Kunikida was selfish or even prideful enough to know he can deal with these people on his own. He didn’t need his partner-in-crime. The one who smiled way too much, and lazed around without caring about the work he needed to do. 

Maybe in all of it, he wanted Dazai to acknowledge what they had more than what the others have already said. 

They may be a set, it didn’t mean they needed each other. 

Kunikida’s journal slipped from his fingers when the gunfire startled him, and he moved back, pen slipping out of his grasp as well, rolling away as he dodged the next attack.

“You’re quite fun to wear out,” the man said, his suit nicely pressed without a single sight of a wrinkle on the fabric, his dark hair was pushed back, and he wore black shades that hid his eyes. He was smiling at Kunikida, everything about him seemed immaculate, except there was a bead of sweat on his brow that he reached up and wiped away. “And yet,” he said, wiping the sweat off his face, and his smile fell into an annoyed twist, “you’re annoying to play with.”

“Then you should go back to your boss,” Kunikida advised, glancing to the side to his journal that sat on the smooth cement, papers flipping open to his various writings of Dazai’s annoying exploits and lies. It was staring at him, another reminder that forced his gaze off of it.

“Oh, no, I have you cornered,” the man said, tsking. “On your own, you’re capable, but after awhile, easy to break down.”

Was that true? He glared at the man, clenching his teeth as the others around him pointed their guns toward him, and he was sure he was a dead man. 

In a stroke of luck, or something akin to that, he heard the faintest sound and before he knew it, a ball was thrown into the air toward the group. They seemed confused by its appearance before it hit the ground, barely rolling, and coming to a stop, and Kunikida gasped as he moved back when he recognized what it was. It exploded in a plume of grey smoke, and when he turned, he spotted Dazai standing not too far off, grinning at the smoke that began to envelop the area.

He stepped inside of it while Kunikida covered his mouth with his shirt and did his best not to inhale. He was startled by the sounds of gunfire that was so close to him, his ears started to ring. And when the smoke began to fade, Kunikida turned toward the group that had cornered him. 

Dazai stood above their leader’s body with a gun forced against his forehead. Dazai smirked down at the man, talking to him as the man’s facial expression morphed into outright fear. 

The man nodded, and Dazai kept the gun pointed directly at the group until they disappeared. It was quiet as Dazai turned around, placing the gun inside of his coat, fixing his gaze on Kunikida who had straightened from where he had fallen. 

He had seen Dazai like this before, his entire persona shifts whenever it had do with the Port Mafia. Or if someone from the Armed Detective Agency were threatened. He simply changed tactics, and from what Kunikida learned of who Dazai had been previously, it only made sense that he could change personalities as quickly as he can. The masks were a way to get under the skin of others, and he did it with ease.

Kunikida had thought at one point that he knew Dazai, but that was his own ignorant mistake. He knew better not to fall for the same old trick as he had before, and because of these reminders, his notebook mattered a lot to him. Which reminded him that it was still lying on the cement, including his pen that was near Dazai’s feet. 

“Were you going to give up?” Dazai asked, giving him a half smile, but Kunikida felt that there was more, a silent resentment hidden in his eyes and behind the words he truly wanted to speak. 

Kunikida picked up his discarded notebook and closed it. “Would you have done something if it came to it?” he asked, meeting Dazai’s eyes, watching as they flitted between the possibility of their conversation and something more that Kunikida couldn’t read. “It wouldn’t have been suicide, but murder.” And that brought Dazai’s gaze back to Kunikida, as if he wasn’t truly looking at him, and unsure of its implication of what Kunikida had asked him. 

Kunikida continued, “If you found me here, bleeding out from a gun shot wound. Would you have done something?” He wasn’t sure what he was trying to ask, but it seemed necessary to ask, something to know and understand between them. 

It rose in Dazai’s eyes, strong and certain with that same type of darkness he had witnessed before. Defiance, no ounce of fear, but a rage that pulled to the surface, cold as ice. 

He said in a tone that was resolute in his decision, “Yes, I would kill them, all of them.” 

Kunikida didn’t expect to hear the strong tone in his voice, the cold hatred. “Why?” he asked, looking away from Dazai.

And he smiled, “Because you’re my best friend.” 

Did he want it to be acknowledged more than what the others thought of their partnership? He couldn’t say it, maybe cause he didn’t want too. There was always going to be a wall that kept them away, he could feel Dazai’s each time something from his past approached him.

Now, it seems he opened a door and showed Kunikida a part of himself he didn’t think he’d show anyone. 

“We work well together,” Dazai said, rubbing the back of his head, looking sheepish. He glanced down and noticed the pen lying on the ground at his feet. He bent down and picked it up. 

“As partners,” Kunikida said. 

Dazai met his eyes, “I do think of you as my best friend. More than a colleague. And maybe once, I wouldn’t have gone that far, but over time, things change.”

Kunikida returned the smile. “I think the same of you, Dazai.” Taking the pen from Dazai’s fingers and placed it into his notebook. He headed off toward the path that had led him to the underpass.

“Can I hear that with a bit more clarification?” Dazai asked, matching his pace, and smiling wide. 

Kunikida wrinkled his nose, “You already know what I mean.”

“Yes, yes, but I actually want to hear it the same way as I had expressed to you. I think I deserve that after saving your life, Kunikida,” Dazai said in a matter-of-fact tone. 

Kunikida grimaced, but his expression smoothed out into a smile. “You’re my best friend too, Dazai.” 

Maybe that’s what Dazai wanted to hear, his smile widened, and his eyes sparkled. It was a sight Kunikida wasn’t used too, but hoped to see more of because of its genuinity instead of the same old playfulness during their time in the office. 

Best friends. Who would’ve thought.