Some days, Dazai was able to take all he had lost with stride. It was in the past, a finished chapter that didn't need revisiting. There was nothing to do with it- what was written, was written.
Other days, days like today... that just wasn't an option.
Because these days, he felt haunted. As if the many ghosts from his past suddenly came up beside him and sucker-punched him in the gut, leaving him on the floor, heaving for air and trying to stagger back to his feet on his own.
Currently sitting on top of the tallest skyscraper in Yokohama, he let his feet dangle over the edge as he watched the city down there, moving on with their life without him.
They couldn't see him- didn't even know he existed up here. And he, he had no idea who they were.
Like ants, he imagined that he crushed them with the soles of his shoes, dipping them playfully in the air far above everyone, squishing them one by one- none ever the wiser.
He didn't care about these people. They didn't care about him. He hadn't even known that they existed until a few minutes ago. And they, wouldn't know that he ever existed at all before he plunged down, smashing onto the sidewalk in front of them like a watermelon.
Well, if he did. He wasn't sure anymore.
Sneaking up here, that had been the plan. But now, he wasn't sure if it would be the painless suicide that didn't inconvenience anyone that he wanted.
He had seen enough skulls crush to know that it was quite difficult to digest the first couple of times.
Filling his lungs with air and breathing it out slowly, he closed his eyes and tried to imagine a world where he wasn't used to seeing heads explode, while simultaneously realizing that he didn't want to be the reason another child woke up in panic, reliving the moment a stranger's body pulverized on the pavement in front of them for the rest of their life.
So, no. He wasn't going to jump. Not right now, at least. Maybe tomorrow, during school hours. There would be less children around to witness it then.
Except, the ADA had a mission tomorrow.
...phew, good thing he didn't die today, or else, his death would really be an inconvenience for everybody.
Especially Atsushi. It was the first mission where he had been given the lead- they were going to execute the tiger boy's game plan.
Dazai hummed humorously, thinking about the worry knitted between the kid's eyebrows, and the small drop of sweat trailing down his face when they got the mission and he was appointed to take the lead.
His strategy was... fine. It was no 'Shame and toad', or 'Footsteps of heat and haze', but it was... fine... totally fine.
...as long as he was there to do some patch-work, of course.
Dazai laid back, resting his head on his arms while looking up at the night sky. The clear, dark blue nothingness, filled with the small, pretty twinkling balls of luminous gas with nuclear fusion reactions in their cores.
...Also called stars.
Ten thousand year old lights shone above him, radiating from orbs that could live up to a billion years... and here, he was lying on the roof of a tall building, wanting to end his life after only twenty-two.
...mourning the life of people who were unable to live past much more than that. People who hadn't been ready to die. Good people. People he wished he could bring back.
He huffed out a bitter scoff, shifting and dragging his hands across his face wearily.
It was late, the wind was picking up and it was getting cold. His mind was going places it wasn't supposed to, so he should probably get back to the dorms.
Listlessly, he hosed himself up to a sitting position, retracting his feet from the edge and started to get up.
As he placed his weight on his heels, his left foot slipped on the ledge.
In a moment of confusion, he tilted slightly to the side, instinctively grabbing urgently for something to hold onto. The slight tilt of the roof didn't help at all. His inside contorted into a tight knot as he felt his back glide off the edge.
The world was moving in slow motion. He knew his only way to save himself from this all too ironic death would be if he somehow was able to grab onto the small edges of the rooftop.
What happened next only lasted for a couple of seconds, all though it felt like much longer.
Twisting his body slightly, he was able to grab onto the edge with his right arm, but the suddenly added burden of his body weight immediately jerked his shoulder out of its socket. A blinding, shooting pain traveled to the tips of his fingers that threatened to give out.
Dazai grit his teeth in agony and shut his eyes closed, forcing the hurt back with pure willpower, determined to get back up.
He kinda wished he had informed Atsushi about some of the holes in his plan- just... in case.
With the very last of his strength, he pushed his feet against the wall, using the momentum to fling his left arm up with no other option than having blind faith in his ability to catch a hold of anything.
A small sigh of relief forced its way through his body as he felt his hand touch the cool steel of the roof tiles. Scrambling his legs, trying his best not to slip, he was able to climb, painstakingly slowly, back up.
His heart was racing and he panted heavily, crawling a safe distance away from the slippery side, settling on his back while gripping his injured shoulder tightly.
His whole body was trembling from the rush of adrenaline, and he knew he had to get down from there and (reluctantly admitting to himself that he also had to) visit Yosano to help him set the shoulder back.
Usually when he tried to do it himself, he would screw up so many times that he eventually ended up passing out- Mori had dislocated his shoulder and made him try to set it back so many times (it was a good way of breaking out of hand cuffs or tight ropes), that he was almost used to it by now.
He knew he would be able to do it eventually, but just the thought made him gravitate towards the edge again...
Carefully, he coerced himself up to a seated position, a bit impressed with the arm that was now hanging limply by its side, and that it had been able to hold his weight at all after the initial injury. Right now, he had no contact with it, which was usually how it went.
He had heard about things like this, when your body would go above and beyond to survive in near-death situations... Oh, how his body must have had betrayed him for all these years...
Before he could slip back to old habits, he turned and headed for the fire escape he had come up.
Climbing the caged ladder with only one arm was difficult, but manageable. For a while.
About half-way (why had he picked the tallest building in all of Yokohama?), the adrenaline was starting to wear off, and his shoulder began to throb violently. His left arm and legs were getting tired. But, he wasn't stopping. That would only result in his limbs stiffening, and that would only make it harder.
So, he kept descending the ladder at a steady pace, until finally, he stepped on the last step.
It was a 2,5 meters drop from the ladder to the ground. Dazai moaned in exasperation, and (finally) let himself fall.
He hit the pavement bellow with a small thud. Such an anti-climactic ending to his venture on the skyscraper- but at least there weren't any traumatized children around.
Scowling up at the ladder, he rubbed his back wearily and gathered himself at his feet, limping his way back towards the Agency.
“What in the world...?” Yosano uttered dumbfounded, as Dazai dragged himself into the Agency, only a little late. Her words caused a chain reaction. A mixture of perfectly groomed, or disheveled bed-haired heads peeked towards the entry, where Dazai stood, leaning heavily to the wall.
Honestly, Dazai had no idea that it was going to take that long to get back- or that it had been so late in the first place. He hadn't been able to get home for a shower or a change of clothes, before he had to be at work.
His coat was dirty, the knees of his pants ripped and his hair a mess. He looked suspiciously pale, and his breathing was labored like he was in great discomfort.
“Morning...” he mumbled hoarsely, grimacing at how small his voice sounded. It obviously didn't help with the seven pairs of eyes (eight pairs, if you counted Kunikida's glasses) that looked concerned at him.
Before he was able to try and explain himself, Yosano had a tight grip around his healthy arm, which admittedly was sore and stiff after the long climb, and dragged him off towards the infirmary.
An hour later, Dazai reappeared at the office with his arm in a sling. Yosano had taken a look at him as he got up from her table of horrors with a small giggle, telling him it was almost nice to see him back in his signature look.
High as a kite on pain killers, he decided that she was mean and didn't deserve an answer except for a tongue, childishly sticking out and blowing raspberries towards her.
“How are you doing, Dazai-san?” Atsushi asked worriedly. The group were all leaning over the same table, probably going over today's mission a final time.
Dazai set up a wide grin and strode over with featherlike steps, except for the occasional hobble as his backside made reminded him that asphalt didn’t cushion your fall very well.
“I'm great,” he beamed and shook the orange pill bottle he had received from the doctor. “Yosano-sensei is being generous with the funny-pills today.”
“...Right,” Kunikida answered with a frown, while Dazai wormed his way under Ranpo's arm, jiggling the bottle in front of his face and murmuring tauntingly, “And you can't have any of my candy either,” -to which Ranpo pushed him gently away.
“So, what mess did you get yourself into this time?” Kunikida asked gravely, choosing to ignore his partner's foolishness.
The bandaged idiot jerked his head up quickly, watching the bespectacled man intently.
“Oh, I was just going to kill myself, but then, I almost died!” he exclaimed wide-eyed.
Stupified expressions glared at him for a long moment. Atsushi blinked repeatedly until Kunikida cleared his throat to get everyone's attention back to their work.
“So... We'll enter through exit C at the back- where Tanizaki will be waiting to let us in...”
Dazai made his way over to the blonde man and grabbed his shirt tightly, wide orbs glaring deeply into his eyes with a seriousness rarely seen in the slender man.
“Didn't you hear me? I was going to jump, and then I didn't, but then I slipped, and, and...”
Kunikida sighed deeply, calmly placing his hand on Dazai's tight grip, firmly prying his fingers open.
“Yes, we all heard you. You were going to kill yourself, and you almost made it. Now, you should go back to the dorms and sleep this... buzz off, so we can get ready...”
“What? No! I'm coming with you. And I wasn't going to kill myself- I mean, I was, but I wasn't, because I was coming here!” Dazai smiled, nodding vigorously, looking around the room for support.
Atsushi immediately averted his gaze, unable to look into the wide doe-eyes as the light in them eventually would go out, when he realized that they had reworked the whole plan around him not being included.
Apparently, Dazai couldn't find any support from any of the others either. His voice had quieted down considerably when he asked, one final time with just a small glimpse of hope still left in it, “Right?”
“I'm sorry, Dazai-san,” Atsushi said, reluctantly peeking back up at him, as he stood dejectedly in front of Kunikida.
“B-but, no! I was... I was gonna jump, I would have jumped... But I wanted to see my little orphan's debut as team leader!”
“Your little...?” Atsushi uttered, dumbfounded.
“Yeah, like... like Oda said,” Dazai trailed off, lowering his gaze to the floor and shook his head lightly in his haze.
The spectators exchanged bewildered looks.
With a weary rise and fall of his shoulders, Atsushi breathed out tiredly and walked over to Dazai, who was mumbling something about 'footsteps of heat and haze', and placed a light arm across his elder's back and started to walk him towards the exit.
“Come, we should get you home,” he explained and tried for a smile to tell him that it was all okay and nothing to worry about.
“B-but, the mission-” Dazai tried to argue feebly, but kept walking in the direction Atsushi was taking him anyway, trying to look back at the lowered gazes, refusing to look at him.
“Don't worry about it, we'll be fine for a couple of hours-”
“-I can make you some food, we can play a game if you're up for it-”
“...What?” Dazai suddenly halted to a stop.
Atsushi stopped too, looking up at his mentor and smiling reassuringly.
“We're going to have to send Yosano if you can't go, and someone needs to look after you... My ability isn't necessary for this, it's fine.”
“No...” Dazai proclaimed, lightly shocked. “No, this... this isn't how it's supposed to be. It's your big day, and... and I'm supposed to look after you, and instead, you're looking after me and it’s all upside down!”
Atsushi chuckled nervously, patting Dazai's uninjured shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting manner. “It's okay.”
“No, it's not. I- I didn't jump last night because I wanted to be there with you on this mission. It's a big day, and... I ruined it... I messed everything up for you by being stupid and broken and...”
He shook his head bitterly, finally looking at the boy. “...and I don't deserve it. You're so pure and...good, and... I'm... not. I'm horrible.”
Dazai's guilt-ridden and genuinely distraught look made the white-haired boy's heart twist painfully in his chest. He had no idea this meant so much to him. Had no idea he did.
Dazai was just this silly, carefree person at the Agency (albeit with a burning death-wish), who could come up with flawless tactics in the blink of an eye and was supposed to be unbreakable.
Somehow, he wondered if this was how normal children felt when they first realized that there was no Santa Claus.
“Stop that,” Atsushi said finally. “Y-you... You already look after me. I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for you. I would have starved, or the mafia would've sold me on the black market!”
He was getting some stealth to his voice now, and it looked like Dazai was listening, so he continued.
“You gave me a place to stay, a job. Literally the shirt on my back! You gave me a reason to live... A reason to fight... Sitting out one measly mission isn't going to cancel that out... You can't nullify everything,” he closed with a small smirk.
Dazai chuckled a little too, taking in a deep breath and straightened his back, finding some encouragement in those words- that Atsushi wasn't mad at him, but it didn't mean that he hadn't screwed up royally.
“Fine,” he sighed, letting Atsushi steady him lightly across the parking lot towards the dorms. He threw his working arm lazily over the younger's shoulder and ruffled his hair vigorously.
Atsushi easily leaned into the light-hearted show of affection, feeling a fuzzy warm feeling melting away the heavy ice that had overwhelmed his heart moments before.
Dazai kept his arm around Atsushi as they crossed the large space. It wasn't until they finally passed the small gate that gave them access to the dormitories, that he spoke again.
“So... death by black market, huh?”