Dazai raised a curious eyebrow as he noticed that his subordinate hadn’t stopped shifting awkwardly since the pair of them had left the office for the day.
The shapeshifter had been acting off all day, and the brunette had at first thought it was because Kunikida had been more stressed (and therefore more strict), but if that was the reason Atsushi would have calmed down once he was away from the blonde.
“Is there something wrong, Atsushi?” Dazai frowned, dropping the usual honorific so his student would hopefully realize he was being serious, not just asking out of obligation.
Maybe he should let slip the name of Atsushi’s old orphanage to Chuuya, see if the redhead would be interested in helping him get revenge against the caretakers for the hell his younger friend had been put through under their not-so-tender mercies.
“I just…” Atsushi bit his lip, not wanting to lose his nerve. “I have some questions about…some things…and I’m not sure if I want to ask. I know that as a doctor Yosano could help, and even if she teases me it won’t be out of any maliciousness on her part, but…well…”
Dazai waited quietly, sensing that this wasn’t something he should try and push.
Atsushi wasn’t injured or sick as far as he could tell, so why would the younger boy be nervous about talking to the Agency’s doctor?
“The orphanage didn’t exactly include me in the lessons they taught to the other kids…” Atsushi hinted, hoping he wouldn’t have to actually say the words. “I learned how to read, write, and do a bit of math from some of the older kids before the staff warned them away from me, but I guess the staff never thought it would be necessary to teach me anything about—”
He cut himself off, face a dark red.
“Ah, that would explain it.” Atsushi heard his mentor say before he felt a hand rest on his head, gently ruffling his hair. He glanced up at the older man shyly, only to see an almost sympathetic look in Dazai’s brown eyes.
“I think I understand, Atsushi-kun. You see, I ran away from my father’s house when I was eight and lived on the streets until I was fourteen, so I never had anyone to talk to about that kind of thing.” Dazai confided, for the first time sharing his past with Atsushi in a direct way instead of just hinting at things. “It made going through the early stages of puberty pretty interesting, until I was put in Mori’s care and he explained what was happening.”
Dazai figured that Atsushi most likely had questions regarding sex as opposed to ones about the joys of puberty, considering his age, but it was probably similar enough.
“Really?” Atsushi asked hesitantly, curious but not wanting to make Dazai clam back up by asking too many questions.
“Really.” The brunette wrinkled his nose in distaste. “Mori was a doctor before he become the boss of the Port Mafia, so I suppose most would consider me to have lucked out in that respect, but I would have preferred to talk about that with someone else.”
Hirotsu-san wouldn’t have been too bad, Dazai thought wistfully. He respected the older man and was far more comfortable around him than he had ever been around Mori, even if he had done always done his best to hide his wariness of the boss.
“Anyway, my point is, Atsushi, that if you’re uncomfortable talking to Yosano-sensei about that kind of thing, you can always ask me.” Dazai put his hands in the pockets of his coat, pausing in his steps and turning towards his younger coworker so the teen could see the seriousness behind the offer.
Atsushi stopped walking as well, his heterochromatic eyes widening slightly.
“But…” Atsushi bit his lip, glancing down as he wondered if he should say his next words. “Aren’t you…well, aren’t you asexual?”
Because sure, speaking to someone his own gender about this kind of thing would probably be less embarrassing than speaking to Yosano about it, but he didn’t want to try and talk to Dazai about it if it would make his mentor uncomfortable.
His mentor who had been uncharacteristically quiet, he realized, looking up to find the brunette staring at him in what almost looked like shock.
“I am.” Dazai confirmed as he blinked away his surprise, though he tilted his head slightly in curiosity. “Or at least I’m somewhere on the ace spectrum, anyway. How did you manage to figure that out?”
“Ah…” Atsushi brought his hand up to rub the back of his neck, glancing to the side sheepishly. “Well, it’s just that I noticed that despite what you said during our mission with Ranpo when you got the whole lovers’ suicide thing in your head, you always phrase it as a double suicide when you’re actually asking women to join you, and…well, it never really seemed like you wanted to start anything sexual or romantic with them, you just…”
Don’t want to die alone, he didn’t say, knowing that saying the words out loud would probably make Dazai close himself off even more than he usually was.
“And then…” Atsushi continued quickly, hoping that Dazai wouldn’t realize what he had been about to say, or at least that he would be distracted from it. “Then I wondered if you just weren’t attracted to females at all. Please don’t get angry with me for saying this, but you and Chuuya-san give off some…not-so-platonic vibes. But even with him…”
The taller man snorted, and Atsushi was glad that it seemed to be in amusement rather than disdain.
“Hm…” Dazai tilted his head up, staring at the sky before glancing down at Atsushi and sending him a smirk that looked almost proud. “Seems you’re getting better with your detective skills, Atsushi-kun!”
Atsushi flushed in pleasure at the compliment, relieved that Dazai didn’t seem to mind that he had figured out something so personal.
“I think you might be the first person to actually call me out on my relationship with Chuuya since I left the Port Mafia, actually.” He mused, thinking of Odasaku and Ango, the only two who had previously known about his attraction towards his partner, with a heavy heart. “We’ve actually been in a relationship since the treaty between our organizations went into effect.”
There had been some lingering touches and wandering eyes before then, of course, but they hadn’t acted on it until Natsume managed to get Mori to agree to an alliance, when Chuuya had managed to catch him alone out on the balcony during the party meant to commemorate the occasion.
After a few minutes of stilted conversation and a comment from Dazai about how he would have to try and get used to looking out for someone as small as Chuuya again, the redhead had rolled his eyes before deciding to shut him up, pulling him down for a kiss that had been a long time coming.
The rest, as they say, was history.
“Though I think you might have a slightly wrong impression of what being asexual actually means.” The brunette said after a moment, deciding that if he was going to offer advice he might as well also impart some knowledge on this, too.
“Eh?” Atsushi tilted his head.
“A person who identifies as asexual doesn’t experience sexual attraction, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t or don’t enjoy sex.” Dazai explained. “The media would have everyone believe we’re all repulsed by sex, and for some of us that’s true, but that’s not a universal experience. If you’re holding back on asking questions because you think I would be uncomfortable, just know that it’s not an issue. Were you looking for practical information or advice?”
“Advice.” The weretiger said automatically before his mind caught up to the rest of what his mentor had said and before he flushed slightly. “Oh. So then you and Chuuya…”
“Sometimes.” Dazai confirmed, amused at how much more flustered the teenager had gotten.
“And you’re okay with that?” Atsushi asked, looking almost worried.
Dazai gave a small laugh, exhaling softly through his nose as he pondered his answer.
It was a valid question, particularly since it would hardly be the first time he’d forced himself to do something he wasn’t particularly interested in doing because it had been expected of him, but with Chuuya…
The trust between their generation of Soukoku was legendary, but for some reason people tended to think that it was one-sided—that it was only Chuuya who trusted Dazai, and not the other way around.
Dazai sort of understood why they assumed as such, because what did it matter if he put his life in Chuuya’s hands when he wanted to die anyway, but he wondered why so few seemed to realize that placing your life in someone’s hands was only one way to show trust.
But with Chuuya, Dazai felt secure enough to be able to not only say no, but he also fully trusted the redhead to respect his answer even when it meant taking care of himself alone.
“Yeah, I am.” The brunette answered. He was going to stop there, but he figured Atsushi needed to hear the next bit, especially if the teenager himself was interested in exploring his own sexuality. “I probably wouldn’t initiate sex for my own sake, but I do like it when it happens, because for me it’s just another way I can be close to Chuuya.”
Atsushi was quiet for a moment, twiddling his thumbs as he tried to get over the embarrassment at knowing more about Dazai’s private life than he would ever had expected to. “And if you didn’t want to do it, do you think he would have been okay with that?”
“I don’t think so, I know so.” Dazai blinked down at him. “He figured out that I was ace before I realized it myself, back when we were teenagers and being taught how to seduce our targets if needed. Yet he still entered a relationship with me, and when I told him I wouldn’t mind going further he was more nervous than I was, making sure he knew what I was comfortable with before doing anything.”
“Just…” Dazai sighed, realizing that Atsushi was getting more and more red and wondering if the blood flowing to his face was going to make him pass out and wanting to get the most important bit of advice out, just in case it actually happened.
“When you’re in a relationship and you decide you want to take that step, make sure you trust your partner to respect your boundaries, that they’ll stop if at any point you tell them you’re not comfortable with what’s happening, and make sure to do the same for them. You need to communicate with each other, because if you don’t know when something’s wrong then you can hurt the other person without even realizing.” He said. “Also, if they try and pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do, I would strongly consider breaking up with them, and if they still try and force the issue then start breaking bones.”
He didn’t know if Atsushi’s sudden curiosity had been caused by anyone in particular, but even if none of this was put in practice any time soon it would hopefully still be useful to know.
“Dazai!” Atsushi squeaked at that last bit, having been silent (if extremely embarrassed) up until then only because he knew that Dazai was taking this seriously and giving him good advice, something Atsushi very much appreciated.
“What?” the brunette raised an eyebrow. “You’re strong enough to hold your own, but if someone isn’t going to respect your boundaries then who says they’ll listen to anyone else’s, maybe someone who wouldn’t be able to defend themselves?”
The weretiger opened his mouth before closing it, unable to think of an argument.
“T-that’s true, I guess.” He admitted shakily before glancing up at his mentor with an awkward smile. “Thanks, Dazai. I’ll keep all of that in mind.”
“No problem, Atsushi-kun!” Dazai grinned.
Just like that the atmosphere changed, almost like their conversation had never happened, and Atsushi suspected that the brunette would never bring it up again unless he did first.
As Dazai turned away to continue the walk to the Agency dorms, Atsushi smiled.
The brunette might not be the best mentor in the world, but the weretiger felt lucky he had the opportunity to get to know him.