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Get Off My Lawn

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Dazai is watering his petunias the first time he sees him. He had noticed that the house next to his had been sold but didn’t really see any moving trucks or furniture being delivered. To be fair, he had been on a work trip for a few days, so he might have missed it. So imagine his surprise when he is standing in his little front yard, trying to keep his flowers alive, seeing a man walk out of the newly sold house. Dazai has never been a religious person. He has the dark theory that his skin would start to blister when he set foot in a church but…somebody must have given special attention while making that man because mother nature may be good at her job, but she is not that good.

The man that just stepped out of his newly acquired home—God help him—looks like he’s in his mid-twenties. His long red hair is falling over his shoulders, showing a little peek of the black choker around his neck. It’s really not fair that the man is wearing dark skinny jeans because that ass is almost giving Dazai a heart attack. A person has absolutely no fucking business to look this hot while checking their mail. 

Dazai is watering the same petunia—drowning is the better word—for the last few minutes, far too enchanted by the view of his new neighbour’s ass. That is, until said neighbour turns around, making it possible for Dazai to see his face.

Yeah, no. Either mother nature stepped up her game, or someone else helped a little. 

The redhead notices Dazai but doesn’t seem to realize that his new neighbour has drooled over him for the last few minutes, so he smiles brightly, waving a little. Dazai, instead of using this chance to introduce himself so he can actually have a conversation with his newfound crush, panics slightly. So instead of smiling back, he nods sternly, letting his water hose fall to the ground, practically running into his house. 

As he leans with his back against his front door, panting a little from his four-metre sprint, Dazai admits to himself that this could have gone better. He risks a shy glance out of the little window next to his door, seeing his neighbour walking back into his own house, looking slightly puzzled. Dazai takes a deep breath, making up his mind what he should do now. The first impression is already ruined, soured by his own inability to talk to this beautiful human being. But his parents haven’t raised a quitter. So he goes to his bedroom, stepping purposefully into his walk-in closet. He gets out of his gardening clothes—he realizes with horror that he had been wearing crocks—and selects jeans and a t-shirt that he secretly labels the ‘I am going to pin you to the nearest wall and make you have the best night of your life’-clothes. This meeting is of grave importance, he has to get out the big guns.

Dazai Osamu looks at himself in his mirror. The black jeans and dark-grey t-shirt highlight his broad shoulders and long legs. He smiles at himself before making his way one house down the street. He doesn’t wear his crocks. 

 

 

Dazai knocks gentle on the front door of his neighbour’s house before patiently waiting on the doorstep. He didn’t bring anything with him because the whole endeavour is quite spontaneous and the only edible thing in his house is a half-full bottle of whiskey, so even though it’s bad etiquette, he stands there empty-handed. 

He begins to fear that his neighbour either saw him through the window and refuses to open the door or simply isn’t home, but then he hears footsteps from inside the house. He straightens out his posture, bringing his best smirk in place and waits for the door to open.

He wasn’t prepared.

Standing right in front of the redhead, he is hit with the full force of the man’s beauty. He hadn’t seen it before, but the man’s eyes are a deep and clear ocean blue, made to sink into them. 

“Hello,” the man smiles, seemingly not remembering Dazai’s retreat a few minutes before. 

“Hey,” Dazai says before he realizes that that’s a quite pathetic way to come to someone else’s house. “I am Dazai, Dazai Osamu. I live in the house next to you.” He tries to make his smile charming, but he suspects that it resembles the look of someone eying an especially finely decorated cake through the window of a bakery.

“I’m so happy to meet a new neighbour,” the redhead smiles, “I’m Nakahara Chuuya, but Chuuya is just fine.”

Nakahara Chuuya,  what a beautiful name.

“So, you just moved in, right?” Dazai asks, cocking his head to the side. He even combed his hair, goddamn it, he deserves a little recognition for his looks.

“Yeah, last week, it was a pain to get all the stuff in. It’s been some time since I moved, and this is my first own house so…yeah.” Chuuya rubs a hand down his neck, trying not to sound too excited about the opportunity to make this house his. There are some things you just can’t do when you are renting a one-bedroom apartment in the busy centre of the city. 

“Are you from Yokohama or…?”

“Oh, yes,” Chuuya lightens up even more, “born and raised here, though I worked in Tokyo for a few years.”

“So no trouble with finding friends?” 

“You know…you can never have enough friends,” Chuuya says teasingly, leaning towards Dazai a little more.

This is his chance. He plans to get this man into his bed tonight, even if that means that he has to make a fancy meal and actually change the sheets for once. The way Chuuya is leaning towards him, lips stretching into a coy smile. This is his chance.

“I—”

“Woof!”

“Jesus fucking Christ—”

Dazai jumps back from the open door, looking frantically from where the loud barking is coming. And to his absolute devastating horror…it comes from inside Chuuya’s house

Dazai’s eyes are wide with disbelieve as the most fluffy, energized and ugliest Pomeranian to ever exist comes running to the front door. The creature has rusty orange fur and Dazai refuses to acknowledge that it resembles Chuuya’s own hair colour. Chuuya is beautiful and this thing is…not. 

“Baki!” Chuuya laughs as he crouches down to the little devil, scratching its head before picking it up and turning to Dazai.

“He’s a little more playful than usual, new environment and all that,” Chuuya says, oblivious to his current mental crises. 

“I—You—” Dazai can’t find the words. What can he say to such a dramatic turn of events? How could the day end in such shambles? Why doesn’t God love him at least a little bit?

“Why do you have that rat in your house?”

It’s like a switch is flipped. In one moment Chuuya is smiling and flirting playfully, in the next, he looks like he would burn Dazai’s house down if he isn’t careful.

“Excuse me?” 

“You—That—that thing is so ugly! How can you have a dog? Dogs are a menace and always want attention and they’re so useless!” 

Chuuya cradles the dog—Baki, apparently—to his chest protectively. The little thing doesn’t notice the building tension—just a sign how stupid it is—and continues wagging its tail. 

“I don’t know what your problem is,” Chuuya hisses, “but I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t insult my dog.” He grabs the side of his door while giving Dazai the most vicious glare he has ever seen. “And now get off my lawn!”

The door slams shut and Dazai stands alone, ears ringing from how hard the redhead has slammed his front door shut. He stands there for minutes, trying to process where things went wrong. Okay, fine, maybe he shouldn’t have insulted the dog, but those creatures are so incredibly nasty that Dazai can never refrain himself from commenting on the misfortune of their owners. That someone like Chuuya would be so stupid to get himself a dog…unbelievable! 

He makes his way back to his own house, disappointed in the universe that it would dangle such a treat in front of his eyes and then ruin it. 

He sighs deeply as he lets himself fall onto his king-size bed. He mourns the emptiness next to him, thinking how pretty red would look on white…He closes his eyes, thinking that this was the last he would see of his neighbours. But hell hath no fury…

 

 

Dazai doesn’t really value romantic relationships. He has some close friends, has a good relationship with his family, but he just can’t seem to keep a relationship going long enough to turn into anything more than…fucking and dinner. He has a far better tie to his job. It pays well, understandably, considering that his position in the company is only a few steps down from the CEO, and he has fun. Well, as much fun as one can have in an international advertising company. Anyway, he was able to buy a house, it’s fine. But even though his focus is on his career, he enjoys his leisure time. He needs something to relax. He found out a few years ago that gardening can be surprisingly relaxing. Creating a living, breathing space that is formed after what you want it to look like, is a special treat in his life. Both his garden and front yard are decorated with different flowers of different kinds, surrounding his house with powerful specs of colour. People are often surprised by his hobby, they take him for more of a drink whiskey and go to a club kind of guy…well, get him a whiskey while gardening and the world becomes a brighter place. 

It is a bright Sunday, so Dazai decides to take the opportunity to look after his petunias. They were a little sad looking the last few days, so he wants to make sure that there are no casualties.  

When he finally goes out of his house, closing the front door with a gentle click, he realizes why his flowers look different than usual. The evidence is right in front of his face.

“Is your dog shitting in my fucking flowers?” 

Said dog, who still looks like an ugly rat, looks at him like the picture of innocence, still crouched down in his flower patch, doing its business. 

“Well,” Chuuya says, raising his eyebrow, “you can’t blame him for mistaking your garden for his toilet, it looks like a place to shit.”

Dazai’s mouth is hanging open. This can’t be happening. Chuuya is not that offended over something he said about his dog and is definitely not petty enough to do this. He isn’t. 

Yet, he is standing there, bright red leash in his hand, without a problem in the world. As if his mutt isn’t ruining Dazai’s front yard.

“I—What have I done to you?” he calls indignantly, throwing his hands up.

“You insulted my dog,” Chuuya answers coldly and crosses his arms over his chest.

Dazai can’t believe that this is fucking happening.

“It’s a dog, it’s not like it knows what I said.”

“You called my Baki a rat!”

“You let your fucking dog shit in my petunias!”  

Chuuya glares at him, eyes cold as steel. Suddenly, his face morphs into a pleasant smile.

“Well,” he croons, “at least now they fit their owner.”

And with that, Chuuya tugs gently at the rat’s leash, leading the way down the street, wherever the two are going. 

Dazai stares at his soiled petunias, mourning how clean and perfect they looked a few days before. But really, Dazai may be a man in his twenties with a love for gardening, but he didn’t get his position in his company for nothing. He is a cunning, scheming, intelligent bastard, who now has a target to focus all his evil on.

This means war.

 

Chuuya quickly chugs his coffee as he tries to get his pants on. Normally an easy endeavour, no doubt, but the fact that it is Monday, and that he is running late, make the trousers into a formidable foe. Nothing Chuuya can’t win against, of course. He has different enemies that are far harder to defeat.

“Baki I can’t play with you now, I have to go to work.”

The little Pomeranian doesn’t understand the concept of human society and is incredibly upset that his owner dares to leave him alone. He doesn’t care about the toys he has or the fact that he can go into the very spacious backyard all the time, he wants the redhead to stay home.

“I’m sorry,” Chuuya scratches Baki’s ears before stumbling out of the house. His colleagues won’t be amused if he is late again.  

He fishes his car keys out of his bag, absentmindedly thinking about the schedule for the day before he notices that his car is completely barricaded by a tree and a fancy black Mercedes. 

“Oh, for fuck’s sake…”

It is impossible to get out of there, not even with the ‘I am moving one millimetre at a time and constantly readjust the steering wheel’-method. He is well and truly stuck. And with each second, he becomes more pissed. 

“Fucking Mondays,” he mutters as he walks around the Mercedes, hoping to guess whose car it is. When he sees the plate ‘DO’ he takes an educated guess.

He stomps over to his neighbour, uncaring of the fact that it isn’t even seven o’clock in the morning and starts hammering at his door. 

“What can I do for you?”

Instead of coming face to face with a grumpy and fresh-out-of-bed version of his neighbour, the man in front of him wears the most annoying smirk in history. So yeah, not an accident.

“I can’t get my car out of my parking spot,” Chuuya says, “would you be so friendly and move your car out of the way?” The politeness is fake, of course, almost burning in his mouth.

“Mhh,” Dazai hums, tipping his finger on his chin as if he were thinking. “No, I don’t want to. I like my car where it is.”

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. He didn’t take fucking anger management classes just to fail because the hot piece of shit in the house next to him thinks he has to be cocky.

“I really would appreciate it if you could move your car so I can actually get to work.”

“But it’s so early, and I’m not ready to get out of my house.”

Chuuya doesn’t point out that the man is wearing a dress shirt and expensive-looking black pants because that would be pointless. Because his neighbour is a sabotaging son of a bitch with a fancy car that is too large for anyone’s good. 

“Fine,” Chuuya spits out, turning on his heel without waiting for the other to say something else.

He walks back to his car, footsteps almost strong enough to shake buildings, and gets inside. He briefly contemplates setting the car in reverse and absolutely crashing the asshole’s car…but the Mercedes looks expensive, and he doesn’t have that kind of money. He has the dark assumption that the guy could get a team of overqualified lawyers for a little neighbourhood quarrel…

So he tries to drive as gently as possible over the stone border surrounding the tree in front of him. He hears an unpleasant scratching noise, biting his teeth so hard his jaw hurts. As he drives off, he can see Dazai waving friendly from his doorstep. That fucker. On his way to work he is thinking about his next plan because no matter what that asshole tried, he would not be outmatched. 

 

 

When Dazai comes home a few nights later he is still happy about his little victory over Chuuya. It’s not like the little redhead can forbid him from parking his car behind his. Maybe he should do that more often, his neighbour looks so adorable when he is angry. But really, that could wait until tomorrow. Mori has drilled him today, making him do more work because he had been ‘slacking off’ recently. Which is bullshit, he works just as little on every other month of the year. 

He lies down on his memory foam mattress, Egyptian sheets feeling soft on his skin. His eyelids are heavier than normal, leaden by the work he put in that day. He thinks about soft red hair when he slowly closes his eyes. 

“Dance for me, dance for me, dance for me, oh, oh, oh!”

Dazai almost flies out of his bed as the lyrics to ‘Dance Monkey’ starts blaring through his bedroom. His heart is beating fast in his chest, adrenaline rushing through his veins at the shock. It is almost midnight on a Thursday, no time or place for people to wake the whole street up. He briefly thinks about the volume being an accident, made by an unruly stereo system that simply won’t shut off. But after ten minutes of waiting he is relatively sure that the music won’t stop anytime soon.

He drags himself to the window, instinctively searching for the house next to his. And lo and behold, the lights are on, people moving inside the house. Dazai doesn’t have anything against parties, really not. He’s just dead tired, with another workday starting at seven the next day. He can already feel the headache coming. So he grits his teeth, throwing on a pair of pants that are not his pyjamas, and makes his way to what apparently is the new reason why his life is going to be miserable. Long live the neighbourhood…

The walk to Chuuya’s house is short, too short to calm the fuming temper making a temporary home in his veins. So the second he reaches the front door he is slapping his hand against it. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven—

“Yes?” 

Considering how aggressively Dazai has been making himself known his neighbour should not stand in front of him with a fruit cocktail in hand, looking as calm as a sleeping bunny. Chuuya is leaning casually against his doorframe, sipping on his drink through a straw. He is looking at Dazai as if this is a completely normal situation and they are about to have a completely normal conversation. 

“I don’t know if you noticed,” Dazai smiles through gritted teeth, “but it’s almost midnight and some people have work in the morning, so if you’d be so kind and turn the music down…”

Chuuya tilts his head, lazily sucking on the straw between his lips. 

“No, I don’t want to,” he smiles, lips slightly tinted with the red cocktail. 

Dazai’s mouth is hanging open, the damn melody of ‘Dance Monkey’ still blasting in his ear. And it’s not fair that his neighbour looks so hot with just a straw between his lips. Still, there are more important matters right now. Namely that he has a meeting at seven-thirty in the morning, meaning he has to get up at six…and the possible hours of sleep are getting fewer and fewer.

“Listen,” he says, pinching his nose, “I know we didn’t exactly start off on the right foot, but…I have to get up early—”

“I don’t.”

Chuuya is still smiling, but it doesn’t look nice, it looks acidic

“So really, I think because I have to deal with you now that I live here…I think you deserve a little inconvenience.”

Dazai is silently fuming. He wants to sleep and really, he’s not throwing hands with someone who is only a little taller than an elementary schooler so…

“I will call the police and file a noise complaint.”

Chuuya, somehow, still doesn’t look bothered.

“Well, you can do that, of course, that’s your right, but…” he throws a mischievous look over his shoulder, “I think the whole neighbourhood would hate you.”

And now that Dazai actually looks behind Chuuya he can see that the whole damn street is having the time of their lives in Chuuya’s living room. 

“Yosano, I thought you were my friend?” he yells as he spots the dark-haired woman amidst a group of men, happily flirting and spilling her drink. She turns to him and waves.

“Hey, Dazai, why do you look so angry?”

Because even one of the closest friends he has is making pretty eyes at the enemy.

“Did you seriously invite everyone just to be petty?”

“Oh no,” Chuuya says innocently, “I didn’t invite everyone, you weren’t on the list.”

Really, the world is a cruel, dark place. 

He shouldn’t have to deal with this, he is a nice person. Maybe he always takes the last coffee at work or lets the poor interns in his division do the tedious, boring tasks and okay maybe he has been pretty rude to Chuuya on multiple occasions, but—

But that doesn’t mean that he deserves this!

“I just think it would be—”

Before he can finish his sentence, the door is slammed into his face, leaving him with nothing but a headache and the feeling that he just should have apologized for the rat comment. 

He crawls back into his house, getting back into his pyjamas before lying down in his bed, already sure that he wouldn’t get a wink of sleep before his meeting. He is wrong about that. 

A few minutes after four, his eyes slip shut. The music has stopped just a few minutes ago, reducing the pounding in his skull. Before he is drifting into a short but calm sleep, his mind is filled with horrifying ideas of revenge

 

 

“Odasaku it will be brilliant!”

Dazai’s best friend is sitting on his sofa, head almost completely in his hands. He is distinctly reminded of the little kids he is fostering at home. Dazai definitely has the same maturity level as a six-year-old child. 

“Shouldn’t you try to be the bigger person and just—”

“Odasaku, they have vibrators on sale!”

How exactly Oda came to sit next to his best friend, watching him go through several websites of sex toys—he has seen things nobody should ever see—is frankly beyond him. How Dazai could have started a war with a man that lived on this street for barely a month is also beyond him. And now he has to watch Dazai’s ‘evil masterplan’ unfold. Which consists of sending a discreet package one house further down the street. 

“What is even the revenge if you buy him an almost twenty-thousand-yen sex toy?” 

The big questions of life, right?

“My revenge,” Dazai starts as he cackles ominously while choosing the colour of the ten-inch monstrosity, “is that my neighbour will be beyond embarrassed to receive such a package, maybe they won’t even pack it discreetly…”

“I am pretty sure he will just get a regular-looking box, Dazai.”

“Well,” the brunette sounds somewhat dejected, “at least the surprise will be bigger.” 

Oda doesn’t look what hideous colour chooses in the end, he can just see the number of zeros on the order. 

Why is petty revenge so goddamn expensive?

 

 

Chuuya is guilty of the modern indulgence of online shopping. Sue him, everybody has their vices. So when his doorbell rings while he’s cooking a delicious dish of spaghetti carbonara, he kind of expects the delivery man. 

“Come on Baki, get the evil man.”

The little Pomeranian is already happily barking at the door, waiting for their new friend to come in. Chuuya always hates how dejected his dog looks when the people at the door aren’t actually coming in…he would do a lot to keep that little tail wagging. 

“Hello, Nakahara Chuuya, correct?” the man is asking friendly, looking at the package in his arms. “Delivery from…Better Than My Boyfriend’s Dick.com?”

Chuuya buys a lot of stuff online, but he is very sure that this is nothing he has even looked at. 

“Uhm, I think there must be a mix-up—” 

“But you are Chuuya Nakahara, right?” 

The guy probably just wants to have the cursed package out of his hands…which is understandable, but that doesn’t mean that Chuuya wants it more. 

“Yes, I am—” The box is discarded into his unwilling hands, while he reflexively doesn’t let it fall on the ground like a hot potato. 

“Have a nice day!”

And with that, he stands alone in his doorframe, holding the box like it could explode any moment. Baki is right next to him, mourning the delivery man. 

“Come on, baby, your dad got a weird package.”

He walks into his spacious kitchen, rummaging through the drawers for a pair of scissors. How can it be that he just moved and already has problems finding his stuff…?

“Aha!” He pulls the scissors out, getting to work to open the innocent looking package. 

It’s harder than it initially looks. Packaging tape was used all around the box, making opening it a minute-long endeavour. But Chuuya is nothing if not persistent, so after a long and tedious fight, he finally sees—

What the fuck?

He is one thousand per cent sure that he did not order a ten-inch pastel purple dildo from an online website called ‘Better Than My Boyfriend’s Dick.com’. 

“Why does this even exist?” Chuuya murmurs as he takes the monstrosity out of its confines. He turns it in his hand, not really believing that someone ordered this, and it somehow got to the wrong address. His address. 

“Why would you even—Ah!”

Chuuya lets the thing fall onto his kitchen tiles with a loud bang as it suddenly—

Yeah, no. Not a dildo, it’s a vibrator. And now it’s happily humming away on his floor, slightly moving with how hard it is vibrating. 

And then it dawns on him. This could either be the work of a very humorous demon—and Chuuya isn’t big on mythical creatures—or it was a stupid asshole that just happens to know his address and full name.  

“I swear to fucking god, I will—” Before he can even finish his threat, disaster strikes. Because, you know…the thing is long and has a fun colour…

“Baki no! Don’t touch that!” 

Unfortunately, Chuuya is too late. 

Now he has a fluffy Pomeranian running around his house with a vibrating sex toy in his mouth, dedicated to play and not be caught by his owner.

“Bad! That’s a bad thing Baki, you don’t want that in your mouth! Come back you little shit!”

Chuuya is chasing Baki through the whole house. The kitchen, the living room, the bedroom, the guestroom, the bathroom, even the fucking atelier. How are his little legs so fast?

“Baki,” Chuuya gasps, out of breath, setting his hands on his knees like he just sprinted to his work and back. “You will not get any treats for days if you don’t give me that fucking thing.”

Nobody can know if Baki actually understood what Chuuya said or if the redhead’s tone was just enough to make it clear that this was not a playing situation. 

Baki whines a little as he sets the—still vibrating—toy down in front of Chuuya, sitting down and letting his head hang low. Does Chuuya feel bad for ruining his puppy’s fun? Definitely. Does he want a picture in his head of his little dog with a ten-inch vibrator in his mouth? A very decisive no. So the next best thing is stopping the picture being a reality. 

“I will take you to the park later,” Chuuya mutters as he scratches Baki behind his ears. His little boy doesn’t deserve his foul mood.

He picks the purple thing up—lavender, the colour is probably lavender—and turns it off with an annoyed sigh. It really hadn’t been his plan to start a goddamn neighbourhood fight as soon as he moved. Back when Dazai came to his house the first time he had hoped…well, doesn’t matter what he had hoped, turns out the guy is a fucking asshole. 

Really, he’s just unlucky. When he finally can afford a small house—that he will pay off until he’s seventy at this rate—he gets some asshole next to it that makes his life slightly more miserable than it should be.

He looks at the toy in his hands, noticing the very prominent biting marks all over it. He smirks before he starts to search for a small post-it note. Really, if Dazai wants to be an asshole, he can have the full nine yards. Because ever since Chuuya started being a person with a distinctive personality, he has been competitive. And this, oh, this is competition. 

“Good boy, Baki, good boy,” he coos as he gives the fluffball some belly rubs. He ruined the disgusting present beautifully

When Dazai opens his front door a few hours later he finds a dick-shaped object with very visible bite marks on his front steps. 

The little note on it shows in meticulous handwriting the words ‘Yours is next.’   

 

 

Dazai admits that he might have been a little childish with the sex toy prank, but really, what else should he do? The battle is on and the first to stop loses. He doesn’t realize that he sounds like a five-year-old who wants to destroy another kid’s sandcastle. He is too invested in strategies and the fact that his uncle asks him regularly now why the bags under his eyes get gradually darker. He doesn’t tell him that Chuuya’s habit of blasting loud music in the middle of the week hasn’t really stopped. 

Every once in a while, he thinks about buying an expensive Lush gift basket to apologize to the redhead, just so they can start anew—Dazai thinks he’s the kind of guy who would enjoy overpriced body care. But then he remembers that he has to win this fight…and the next round of pettiness begins…

Dazai sighs in his kitchen, currently boiling pasta for his lunch. It’s the first Saturday in a long while that he has time to actually cook for himself, instead of being away from home or ordering Mexican food that he absentmindedly eats while answering emails. He isn’t really a great cook, never took the time to learn some elaborate recipes, but he can get by. Especially when he just throws some pesto on his noodles and calls it a day. 

Right when he pours the pasta into a bowl, he hears it again. The noise that appears constantly in his nightmares, that plagues him day in and day out, nagging at the back of his mind like a hammer, dedicated to eating away his brain.

Why is that damn dog always barking?

Baki the Pomeranian is the biggest nuisance he has met in his twenty-six years of living. The mutt is loud, hyperactive and has shit in his flowers more than once—though that was probably the owner’s fault. And because Dazai’s and Chuuya’s gardens behind their houses are right next to each other, only divided by a dark blue fence, he can hear the dog’s noises every time the fucker runs through the yard. Which is every day. 

Odasaku tried to tell him something about ‘dogs needing exercise’ but honestly, that sounds like a load of bullshit. He’s sure that Chuuya is just practising psychological warfare. 

He thinks that he can ignore it. He always thinks that. But the shrill barks are ruining his free day, the dog constantly yapping and running around. Dazai slams his bowl of pasta down on his dinner table. The dark wood is unstained, but not necessarily because of the good care of the owner but because Dazai has not yet found a good work-life-balance, almost never eating at his actual table. The table had been, frankly, too expensive to be ignored so viciously on a regular basis. 

“The goddamn Chihuahua is always making noise; how can a living thing even have so much air in its lungs? It’s always barking…” Dazai mutters as he walks through his living room to the glass door leading him into his garden. 

The flowers on this side of the house are safe, and Dazai doesn’t have to worry about stepping in dog shit all the time. Which is a nice change, really.

Dazai doesn’t really have a plan as he marches through his garden to the blue fence keeping him and his flowers safe from the fluffy monstrosity. He probably wants to yell, curse the dog for keeping him awake and destroying his peace. He wants to tell Chuuya that he is the worst neighbour he ever had and that every thought in his head that said the redhead was hot is gone and disappeared after so many weeks of constant unwanted noise. But he doesn’t get to say any of these things.

Dazai’s voice—and his breath—get stuck in his throat as he arrives at the fence. It isn’t an exaggeration that Dazai’s eyes are practically bulging out of his head at the picture in front of him, blinking frantically to see if he is dreaming or fell on his head on his way to the garden, making this all a hallucination, a picture his mind painted with unfairly realistic colours.  

Dazai had known that Chuuya is beautiful the first time he saw him. But back then he hadn’t seen him half-naked, lying in the grass only covered by a deep red silk shawl. His hair is flowing freely in the grass, his eyes half-closed, just enough to see that they are blue. 

Dazai is so enraptured by the sight that it takes a while to notice the people also sitting around in Chuuya’s yard. There is half a dozen of them, sitting around Chuuya and holding…drawing paper? 

Dazai can’t help himself as he stares at the lucky idiots, having the privilege of looking at an almost naked Chuuya for hours just to draw him. He catches a glimpse at one of the sketches and almost wants to scream at the blonde woman sitting to Chuuya’s left because his eyes have more depth, but he doesn’t. He, instead—like so many times in his life—decides to be an asshole. 

“Should I call the police because of public indecency?”

Chuuya’s eyes snap open, immediately glaring at Dazai. 

“This is my own garden, you stupid fuck, I can do whatever I want.”

Well, technically he’s right, but that doesn’t mean that Dazai can’t complain about the terrible hardships he’s being put through.

“Ah, but chibi, there could be children around! Imagine the trauma if they would see your hideous body!” ‘Hideous’ probably isn’t the right word, but the things he wants to say are even less for children’s ears than Chuuya’s body. 

Chuuya gets up from the ground gracefully. Dazai watches him like a hawk as the silk shawl drops dangerously low around his abdomen, gracing him with the view of sharp hipbones and soft thighs. Chuuya is leaning against the fence before Dazai can sense the danger and step back, so now he’s eye to eye with the enemy

“Well you see, Dazai,” Chuuya smiles at him, “this time…at least I’m wearing silk.” Chuuya leans over the fence while he says it, getting into Dazai’s personal space before he draws back.

Dazai’s mouth is hanging open a little, but who can blame him?

“Why…don’t you have a job or something? Why do you get naked just so people can draw your short legs?”

Chuuya looks offended at that, and Dazai wants to take his snappish tone back, but—as always—he can’t.

“Being a vet nurse doesn’t pay that well,” Chuuya hisses, tightening his grip on the fence. “So excuse me if I actually want to pay this house off before I’m dead.” 

He almost says something about how fast he will pay off his own house but holds his tongue. Instead, his mind jumps to the picture of an adorable redhead in scrubs, tending to a scared animal during a routine check-up. And really, he doesn’t even like animals, but he thought makes him want to watch Chuuya during his work.  

“Okay guys, that’s it for today,” Chuuya says to the people in his yard. “Sorry if you couldn’t finish the drawing, next time we will stay inside, so we won’t get interrupted.”

Dazai wants to be offended and yell that he is in his own garden and can also do whatever he wants, but before he has the chance, he spots a familiar face in the small crowd.

“Atsushi?”

Dazai had mentored the younger man the first few months at Mori Cooperation. The boy is deceptively bright, even if his constant nervousness makes him less efficient than he could be with a little more confidence. 

“What are you doing here?” he asks a little puzzled because his neighbour’s garden is probably the last place he had expected to see his work protégé. 

“Oh, Dazai-san! I started drawing again, I stopped before I went to university, but now I have a little more time…” Atsushi trails off, noticing that he is rambling, but his smile remains in place. 

“That’s…nice,” Dazai says, trying to look less strained than he feels. “But what are you…doing here?”

“Oh, Chuuya-san was so nice to model for the beginner’s course at my drawing school. Normally you’d have to be in an advanced class because he mostly does nude modelling and—” 

Nude modelling?

Dazai feels like he just expired and went to a weird personal purgatory full of terrifying nightmares and slight inconveniences. 

“Ah, yeah, he’s the most requested model at the school.”

And it’s so hard to guess why. 

“And you’re enjoying the classes?” Dazai asks, doing his best to come off as a nice colleague and not some asshole who is only fixated on himself or his neighbour.

“Yes! I was even allowed to be part of an advanced class for one lesson.”

Dazai gives his absolute best not to scream or faint on the spot. Because that means—

“Did you…did you have Chuuya as a model?”

“Uhm, yeah, he was great.” Atsushi looks a little confused why his ex-mentor seems like his soul left his body, dangling somewhere in the rose bushes next to them. 

And Dazai? Well, Dazai wants to weep a little because Atsushi has seen Chuuya naked before he has and that is just too unfair, even for a universe that apparently hates all his guts. 

“Dazai-san, are you alright?”

“Yes,” he squeaks out, trudging back into his house without even looking at the younger man again. “I will see you on Monday, have a nice weekend.”

He closes the glass door to his garden with a defeated click. This couldn’t be real. This isn’t fair and even though he knows life often isn’t fair and tries to fuck you over…this is a little much. 

“Maybe I should develop an interest in anatomy,” Dazai whines into his cushion after he lets himself plop on the couch. 

No, Chuuya wouldn’t even let him into that class, professionalism or not. 

“I will make your life terrible,” he whispers into the room, already planning strategies in his head to make his neighbour furious. 

He doesn’t know if the art class in his garden was a deliberate attempt from Chuuya to make him miserable, but that doesn’t matter. There doesn’t need to be an attempt to make him vindictive.  

 

 

Maybe Chuuya should just sell the house. 

He could just get rid of his first bought home—something he has wanted ever since he was a child—take the money and move to America. They probably need vet nurses in America. 

“Chuuya…” his sister hesitates as she looks at the scene in front of her. 

Baki is currently rummaging through mountains of trash. And the worst thing? It’s all in front of Chuuya’s house. He tries to take a calming breath but then Baki runs around with a rotting piece of steak between his teeth and now he’s livid.

“Baki! Spit that out, that’s bad for you!” 

Kouyou just keeps standing in front of the house, watching as her little brother chases his Pomeranian through the street so the little shit doesn’t eat mouldy meat. She just wanted a quick visit with some tea but apparently, her brother lives like a rat.

“What happened here?” She asks once Chuuya has successfully wrangled Baki away from all the ‘treats’ he wants to eat.

“I thought it was an accident last week,” Chuuya starts, still slightly out of breath, “they didn’t take my trash last Wednesday and I thought they just didn’t see my trash bins…” 

Kouyou watches as her brother’s face takes on a look of resentment and despair.

“But he’s doing it.” 

“Who is doing what?”

“My neighbour!” 

Has Kouyou heard about the ‘Great Neighbourhood Battle of Yokohama’? Yes, she has. Chuuya is whining about it almost every week. But until now, every time she was here, she hadn’t even met this supposedly evil being in the next house. Until now, there was no real evidence for her to see.

“But it happened again this Wednesday!” Chuuya cries out, kneeling in his driveway and hugging Baki to his chest. “And you know what I saw when I came home? He fucking hides my trash bins, so the garbage men don’t empty them!” Chuuya sounds so exasperated that it’s almost funny, but Kouyou cannot deny that her brother’s house looks like fucking shit now. The overflowing bins have attracted cats, racoons and rats, spreading the contents of the bins around Chuuya’s house and in the driveway. It looks hideous. 

“What did you do to make him so petty?” She asks because she knows her brother can be a little shit who is very good at pushing people’s buttons.

“I might have let Baki shit in his flowers…” Chuuya mumbles, getting up from the ground with the happy dog in his arms. “But he insulted Baki! And he was very rude…”

Sometimes she has to remind herself that her brother is in his twenties, works at a vet’s clinic while modelling for drawing classes. He manages his finances, bought a house, takes care of a dog…and apparently starts fights with little demons on his street.

“Maybe you should just apologize and have your peace.”

“Ane-san,” he grumbles, “he sent me a fucking vibrator just to mess with me, I’m not backing out.” 

She sighs deeply and long-suffering. Why not the easy way out?

“Anything else you know about him?”

Everyone else probably wouldn’t have noticed, but there is a fine dusting of pink on Chuuya’s cheeks. Kouyou is definitely too old for this.

“Do you…like having these fights?”

“No!” Chuuya yells, the red now more pronounced on his face. “It just…sometimes it makes my day more interesting…but it’s still annoying. And he’s stupid and ugly and a nuisance…”

Which probably means that he’s intelligent, handsome and charming but little dumb Chuuya doesn’t know how to get out of these petty fights.

“You could just talk to him,” Kouyou offers a last chance before the two of them enter the house for some afternoon tea with cake.

“No…I have to think about how to pay him back.”

Kouyou sends a quick prayer to whatever god is out there. She isn’t sure this street will still be standing next month if some godly entity doesn’t intervene. 

Someone, please, get these lovestruck fools out of their misery. 

 

 

Chuuya is sitting cross-legged on the floor of his atelier when his idea for revenge comes to him. He is looking at the painting he is working on, full of greens and purples and pinks. It’s an abstract painting, but it takes the form of a beautiful garden, flowers in full bloom, the grass fresh and vibrant. Baki sits in the open doorframe, watching his owner working his brushes over the canvas. The one rule the cheeky Pomeranian actually follows is that he is not allowed in the atelier while Chuuya is painting. There had been one instance with wet paws that made Chuuya very upset, so Baki waits. He is still allowed to watch. And really, he doesn’t bother Chuuya in the slightest. Sometimes it’s nice to have company while he focuses on the colours and shapes, a little breathing thing, watching with interest. 

Chuuya gets up from the floor, smudges of paint everywhere on his clothes and body, glancing out the little window. He sees that his neighbour’s car isn’t there. The guy’s probably still at work. Chuuya isn’t completely sure what Dazai’s job is, but he has to wear suits and gets up early while he comes home late. And by looking at the car and clothes, the job pays well. 

“Do you want to go outside for a while, Baki?”

The little dog instantly begins to wag his tail, excited by the prospect to get out of the house. Chuuya grabs some of his paints—the cheap ones, obviously—and walks down the stairs to his front door. Baki is hot on his heels, jumping around his ankles, trying to show his happiness. 

Chuuya smiles the whole way to his neighbour’s door. The trash around his house had been very inconvenient, stinking up his house and garden until he called someone from the city administration to sort it out. So, it is only fair that Dazai should get a little something back. 

He uses the greens, purples and pinks again, but this time it isn’t abstract, it’s very clear what he is painting. 

“You like papa’s work?” Chuuya asks the happy dog as he finishes the last corner. Baki is barking enthusiastically, so he takes it as a yes. He really has to say, it doesn’t look bad.

“Come on puppy, we don’t want to be here when the evil man comes back.”

And with that, they vacant the crime scene, only leaving destruction behind.

 

 

“What the fuck is this?” Dazai calls out a few hours later, as he comes back from work. 

“It’s…your door,” Odasaku contributes helpfully, tilting his head a little to the side. 

“That little shit destroyed my door!”

“I wouldn’t say destroyed…”

“Well, what would you say?”

Both men stare at the freshly painted front door of Dazai’s house. The paint is barely dry, so the vandalism happened hours before…

Oda has to admit that the paint doesn’t look bad. But he understands Dazai’s reaction, the door had been expensive…

“There are petunias on my door!”

Yes, there are. Carefully drawn flowers adorn Dazai’s front door, colours mixing together to a beautiful spring day. Really, he would have liked the painting if it wasn’t on his fucking door. 

“It could be worse,” Oda says gently, watching Dazai glaring at his door.

How could this be worse?”

Oda simply shrugs. 

“He could have painted Pomeranians.”

 

 

A bright Sunday a few weeks later is the first time Dazai’s had peace in a long while. He takes the time to make himself breakfast—waffles, because they are superior to pancakes—and breathes in the morning smell of coffee and rain. Summer slowly lets autumn take her heat and green away, almost fully changed to fiery reds and cold rains. Dazai’s favourite season. 

And the best part of the day? It’s almost ten o’clock and there has been no barking, no music, no yelling and no people committing public indecency right next to his garden. It’s finally peaceful

Dazai stretches his torso while he sits at his kitchen table. He hadn’t even noticed how much he liked the quiet until the constant noise from his neighbour stopped. He still doesn’t know how no one else can be bothered by it, maybe there are just more dog enthusiasts in his neighbourhood than he thought…damn traitors. 

Dazai spends the morning lazily lying on his couch, reading a book without interference, snacking on his dark chocolate stash. He only leaves the house around noon, taking the trash out before his kitchen starts smelling again…everyday tasks can be complicated sometimes. It’s only when he wants to go back inside, after taking some deep breaths of fresh air, that he sees Chuuya standing on the sidewalk. The little mutt isn’t with him, explaining the lack of barking and scurrying. Really, the chance is too perfect not to tease the pretty redhead.

“Chuuya!” he yells as he walks over to the sidewalk. “Forgot your little rat at the pet-groomer? You should do that more often, it’s nice to have a break from you two sometimes.” 

When the redhead doesn’t snap back immediately, Dazai is slightly disappointed. It normally takes nothing to make his neighbour explode. 

“Really Chuuya, can’t you be apart from your mutt for a little while…” he trails off when Chuuya turns to fully look at him.

His eyes are red and slightly swollen, the skin on his face blotchy around the cheeks. His normally silky hair is unkempt and looks tangled. Dazai notices the stack of papers in Chuuya’s hands only now, as he clutches them to his chest.

“I—Baki is missing since yesterday,” Chuuya swallows hard, not looking Dazai in the eyes. “I—I think I left the gate in my garden open and—he ran out and I can’t find him…”

Dazai watches with horror as blue eyes well up again, before Chuuya’s quickly wipes his face. That doesn’t stop the slight tremble of his lips and the frantic working of his throat.

“I know you don’t like him,” Chuuya says crestfallen, taking one sheet from the stack in his arms, “but if you see him…please tell me.” He holds out a lost dog flyer with Baki’s photo, name and Chuuya’s contact info on it. He even promises a forty-thousand-yen reward for the person who finds his dog. Which isn’t much to Dazai, but when he thinks about what vet nurses make in a year…

“Excuse me, I will…I’m going to look in the park,” Chuuya says and begins to move down the street. Dazai looks after him, seeing how Chuuya stops an elderly woman to give her another flyer until he’s out of sight on his way to the park. 

Dazai walks back into his house, standing in his living room while he stares numbly down on the sheet of paper in his hands. He reads through the information as if he doesn’t already know Chuuya’s address or what the dog looks like. He notices that he never knew that the dog’s actual name is ‘Arahabaki’, the god of calamity. He has to smile at that, the name is fitting. 

Dazai tries to continue reading his book, but his thoughts flicker all over the place. He sneaks glances at the crumpled piece of paper lying on his couch table, the happy face of Arahabaki staring at him every time he looks. Now the silence doesn’t feel peaceful anymore, it feels tense. Like he’s waiting for something to snap. But nothing snaps. 

It’s just after dinnertime when he stands in his kitchen washing the dishes as he looks out the window. There are fewer flyers in Chuuya’s hands as he drags himself back home, but there’s still no dog. He watches as Chuuya comes to a halt in front of his house. Obviously, he can’t hear anything but when Chuuya slaps a hand over his own mouth followed by a full-body wince…well, it’s not hard to guess that he’s crying again. 

It’s this Sunday evening that Dazai has to admit to himself that he has had a crush on his neighbour for the last few months. It’s also the evening for dumb decisions. So he changes into sweatpants and a hoodie, slipping into his running shoes before grabbing the flyer from the couch table and leaving the house. 

It’s not completely dark, yet. Autumn isn’t as unforgiving as winter, so Dazai has still a little daylight left as he begins his search for a spoiled little rat. As he walks down his street, he notices more flyers taped to streetlamps and walls, some of them already ripped off or damaged. He doesn’t think that Baki is anywhere on their street, otherwise, Chuuya would have found him already, but he keeps an eye out. Maybe the little dog finds his way back on his own, it would be a shame to miss him. 

It’s still early enough that Dazai meets people on their way home from work or taking a stroll with their own dog, but nobody has seen the energetic fluffball. He tries every spot he can think of. He walks through the park—and almost takes the wrong Pomeranian home—asking every person he meets if they have seen the dog. He chases two fluffy orange cats because he thought they had the same size as the little dog. He buys a pack of dog treats, shaking the bag and calling Baki’s name, but he only attracts some strays. He feeds them regardless. 

He is moving further and further away from home, getting into a busier area of Yokohama. Cars are driving at high speed over the street, people trample along the sidewalk, not caring where they step or what’s under their feet. Dazai only hopes that he has missed Baki so far. That the little dog didn’t stray so far from home, because otherwise—he glances at the dead cat at the mouth of an alley—things could turn out far worse than he thought. 

He tries to use the flyer again, but the people in this part of the city barely have time to stop for a second. Most of them don’t even acknowledge the desperate man, asking everyone if they have seen a small fluffy, red dog. Dazai almost loses the piece of paper once, when a grumpy businessman slams his shoulder into him because he stands in the middle of the sidewalk. 

Yokohama is far too big of a city to search on foot, so Dazai ducks into an empty alley, holding the crumpled flyer in his hand. He thought it couldn’t get worse—what a stupid thought—but it starts raining a few seconds later. Before he can save it from the water, the paper in his hands is soaked through, disintegrating into little pieces.

“Fuck!” 

He tries to keep it under his sweatshirt, but it’s no use. Baki’s picture is already unrecognizable, impossible for someone to see what the dog looks like. 

“What a fucking shitshow,” Dazai whispers as he gets wetter and wetter by the second, drenched in rain. He didn’t take an umbrella. Honestly, he didn’t even think he would be out for long, but it’s been hours with nothing but shaking heads and ignored questions. 

He wants to go home. It’s getting late and he has to get up early tomorrow, it isn’t even like he could stand the dog before. He could go home into his cosy bed, watch his favourite show while drinking some whiskey. But teary blue eyes have branded themselves into his mind, so he sighs deeply and continues to walk through the city. And he almost gives up hope. He almost walks home, hoping that someone else will find the stupid mutt so Chuuya doesn’t have to mourn the little fluffball…but he doesn’t. Because he hears faint whimpering from a dirty alley next to him. And really, what are the odds in a city as big as Yokohama? But he doesn’t want to leave even a tiny chance untried. So he takes a deep breath before entering the stinking alley. 

Trash is lying around everywhere. He spots some stray cats slinking behind trash cans, he smells the rotting food on the floor. Fish, meat and faeces all mixed into an eye-watering smell that almost makes Dazai retch. He almost turns around to escape the toxic blend of scents, before he spots a small creature at the end of the alley. It doesn’t matter that the flyer with Baki’s picture disintegrated, nobody would have recognized him anyway. The normally orange fur is dirty and matted, making him more brown than orange. There are pieces of mud stuck in the fur and Dazai could swear that the little dog already lost weight. 

He’s a little scared to take the wrong dog home, so he tentatively calls out his name.

“Baki?” 

Any doubts vanish as the dirty little creature gets up to its feet, looking around to see who called him. When he sees Dazai, he doesn’t hesitate to walk towards him, his tail wagging behind him at the familiar face. And now Dazai has to hold back tears, because he was never anything but mean to the dog, but he’s still so happy to see him.

“Hey buddy,” Dazai whispers as he scratches Baki behind his ears. He doesn’t really want to put his hands anywhere near that fur, but Baki looks like he needs some petting. Okay, a lot of petting. 

“Let’s get you home, hm? Your owner is really worried about you…” 

Dazai gets out the bag of treats, giving Baki the few that are still left. They are gone in seconds and the little dog starts whining for more.

“You will get more at home,” Dazai says, taking off his hoodie, so he’s only wearing a thin t-shirt. He swaddles Baki in his sweatshirt, making sure that the dog is protected from the rain. He presses the bundle to his chest, arms around the dog so that even if he collides with someone, Baki will be fine. 

It doesn’t stop raining and Dazai briefly thinks about buying an umbrella at a convenience store, but he is already soaked, and it would be harder to hold the dog with one hand. So he continues his way home in the pouring rain. But really, he barely even feels it, because right now? He is victorious. And the cuddly little guy in his sweatshirt isn’t going anywhere until they are home. 

When he finally gets to his street, it’s almost the middle of the night. He got lost once and had to ask Google maps where the fuck he was supposed to go, but he did it. He is almost home. 

He is a little nervous as he stands in front of Chuuya’s house. It’s late and he’s probably sleeping but Dazai thinks that he wants to know that he found Baki. So he rings the doorbell and waits anxiously for movement or sound.

“Seems like your owner is already in bed,” he whispers to the dog. Just then, he hears quiet footsteps from inside. And when the door opens—

Dazai guessed wrong, Chuuya looks like he hasn’t slept in two days.

His eyes are bloodshot with dark circles under them, even more swollen than they were before. He knows he made the right call to ‘wake him up’ now.

“Uhm—I walked around for a little and…I found him near the city centre.” He holds the little bundle away from his body, so Chuuya can see Baki’s head sticking out. As soon as the dog sees Chuuya he begins to wiggle and bark happily, finally home again.

Dazai doesn’t really know what kind of reaction he expected from Chuuya. 

A smile? Sure.

A thank you? Probably.

Maybe even a ‘we should probably stop fighting each other now that you’ve brought my dog back’.

But he hadn’t expected the full-on sobbing that occurs the moment Chuuya sees his dog. He basically rips Baki out of his arms, seemingly unbothered by the smell and wetness as he hugs the dog to his chest. Now, Dazai has always been bad at comforting people, even the ones he’s particularly close to. So right now? He’s so out of his depth that he can’t see the fucking ground.

So he just awkwardly rubs Chuuya’s arm as the redhead lets out the build-up emotions from the last thirty-six hours. Dazai keeps rubbing his arm or squeezing his shoulder until the sobs are nothing more than hiccups. 

“Thank you,” Chuuya croaks as he peels Baki out of Dazai’s sweatshirt. When he sees how his little dog looks the tears flow a little faster again, but he doesn’t go into hysterics.

“I—” he sniffles before he looks at Dazai. “Thank you so much for bringing him back.” 

And Dazai is kind of speechless now because what can he say now without ruining his reputation as a powerful businessman with irresistible charm and a heart made out of stone and ice? Gardening is already ruining his image enough…

“I was just walking around,” he smiles, “the little guy practically ran into my arms.” 

They both know that’s not true because Dazai is soaked and it’s late and he said he found Baki near the city centre. 

And Chuuya knows that, so he bites his lip to keep from crying again, not wanting to look even more like an idiot than he already has. He knows he looks like shit right now—probably as bad as his dog—but he has always had a heart that couldn’t hold all his emotions, so it floods over at moments like this. 

“Do you want to come in?” 

Dazai hesitates for a second. It’s almost two a.m. and he has to get up at six, but one look at the man in front of him makes the shit-day he’s going to have worth it. Because Chuuya looks like he needs someone right now.

“I would love to; I’m just going to change my clothes—”

“I have some that should fit you,” Chuuya interjects. He says it like he’s worried that Dazai isn’t going to come back. 

“Okay,” Dazai smiles and steps in. He immediately slips his shoes off, so he doesn’t make everything wet, but his t-shirt is dripping on the floor, so it’s probably a lost cause. 

“The bathroom is the stairs up, first door on the left, I’m going to get you some clothes,” Chuuya says before scurrying away, still not working at full capacity. Baki is meanwhile sitting next to Dazai, staring to see what the brunette is doing next. 

He does his best not to ruin the floor as he walks up, but really, it looked like a very small crocodile just bathed and walked around the house. When he’s finally in the bathroom Chuuya is already right behind him, holding sweatpants and a hoodie that could actually fit Dazai. 

“Towels are in here,” Chuuya mutters and opens a drawer. His towels are fluffy and soft, a deep shade of purple. 

“Thanks.” He looks at the green sweatshirt in his hands. It’s for someone of Dazai’s size, nowhere near what Chuuya would wear. So maybe the universe hates him more than he thought and Chuuya actually has a boyfriend? Or a fiancée? Maybe even a husband…but he would have seen a husband, right? He was never in the house, but he would have noticed a second person living there…and Chuuya doesn’t wear a ring—

“It’s mine.”

Dazai looks at him questioningly. He is sure that he didn’t say any of that out loud.  

“It’s comfortable when it’s cold so…I buy them in bigger sizes.” The redhead looks embarrassed about it, which is ridiculous. 

Dazai has the strong urge to yell ‘You can have all of mine!’ but holds himself back. He simply thanks Chuuya and after his neighbour leaves the room, he puts his wet clothes in the bathtub before towelling himself dry. When he pulls the sweatpants and hoodie on, he notices the faint smell of citrus, and paint. He would get intimately familiar with this scent in the months that follow. But for now, he only inhales deeply, enjoying the smell of the clothes. 

When he comes back down there are two mugs sitting on the kitchen table. Chuuya is already sitting, so he lets himself fall on the chair opposite. They are silent for some time, Baki sitting under the table—still dirty—while they take an occasional sip from their camomile teas. Dazai takes the time to look around a little. Chuuya’s kitchen is significantly smaller than his, but it seems more alive. Like someone is actually cooking here, trying new recipes and baking cookies during Christmastime. Like someone enjoys creating

“I will give you the reward money as soon as I have it,” Chuuya starts after some time, “but if you want anything else…I will do whatever I can.” 

‘As soon as I have it’ leaves a bitter taste in Dazai’s mouth. Only guessing how hard the redhead worked to be able to afford this house, so if anyone else had found Baki…well, nobody did.

“I don’t really want the money,” Dazai says before he takes another sip from his tea. 

Chuuya looks surprised but wary, like the next sentence is going to be something bad

“But if you don’t mind…” Dazai takes a moment to gather courage, “I would like to take you on a date. Maybe a restaurant, there are some really good in Yokohama.”

Chuuya blinks at him for a moment, looking stunned. As if the idea that someone wants to take him on a date would be absolutely outrageous.

“Yeah…yeah, sure. I didn’t know—How long have you wanted—?”

Ah, right to the embarrassing questions.

“Probably when I insulted your dog…but then the chance that you would let me was…small.”

Chuuya gives a choked laugh, but he doesn’t sound sad anymore, so Dazai counts it as a success. 

“I would say you have thoroughly redeemed yourself,” the redhead smiles. He takes a look under the table, where Baki happily munches away on his food, the water bowl already empty. 

“I should give him a bath…”

“Yes, he smells like that alley, I think I saw rotting fish lying there.”

“Well,” Chuuya snorts, “he hates baths, so this is going to be…something.” Even as he says it, the redhead looks lovingly at the little troublemaker, reaching down to pet him.

“I could help.” 

When Chuuya looks surprised Dazai just smiles. He has been up this long, what are some more hours? And the little Pomeranian looks like he could easily overpower someone.

“Sure…maybe you should wear your own clothes again, we’re probably going to get wet…”

“That’s fine,” Dazai laughs, “at least we have towels here.”

Chuuya smiles at him and Dazai doesn’t even need the date to know that he’s in love. Because to keep that smile on Chuuya’s face? He would probably do a lot of stuff, illegal included, probably even violent…

“Come on Baki!” Chuuya calls out, “It’s bath time.” 

Somehow the dog knows what that means, but there’s no way around a good soak in the tub. So even when Baki tries to escape Chuuya is right there and carries him towards his ultimate doom. 

“You think you’re ready for this?” Chuuya laughs as they walk up the stairs.

“Yeah,” Dazai smiles, “I think I’m ready.”