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Fifteen Minutes

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The blinking cursor has been bullying Dazai for ten minutes. It’s just sitting there, winking. Grinning. Bet you can’t write, bet you can’t write, bet you can’t write.

Dazai sniffs. If this cursor is going to bully him he’ll just open a different document and maybe that cursor will be nice and actually let him put words down. So it’s editing time! Even though Dazai hates editing because everything he writes is perfect and he doesn’t like to mess with perfection. Because Dazai is perfect and a genius and everything that comes out of his brain is beautiful.

Sure, Mackerel. That’s very likely, and now the evil little Chuuya that lives in his head like a stupid little flea is bullying him too. Ew. Who gave Chuuya the right to live in his brain?

So Dazai opens a second document, whoopie, and now there’s thirty-four tabs instead of thirty-three.

He’s been counting.

The cursor still bullies him on the second document, though, and even worse, this is the sad one. And because Dazai is perfect and everything that comes out of his brain is brilliant and wonderful and beautiful it is actually going to make him cry if he edits it.

Ah, well.

Desperate times and all that.

It’s a nice little study room at the top of the Literature Student Hall, with a couch and a small window that afternoon sunlight is beaming in through. It’s getting hot, even for winter.

Dazai stands, stretching his arms above his head. His back pops. There’s a soft inhale from the couch. Chuuya’s hat is visible at the top of it, the stupid fedora thing that Dazai is not allowed to burn, no, not under any circumstances.

He glares at it.

Chuuya doesn’t look up as Dazai slides across the floor—fuzzy socks, wheeee—and around to the side of the couch. Chuuya doesn’t look up as Dazai stands at the other end of it, the arm coming roughly up to his knees.

Chuuya doesn’t look up as Dazai spins around, the arm of the couch pressing into his calves, and flops backwards

Chuuya does look up when Dazai’s head smacks into his book and then into the far end of the couch’s arm.

“Ow.” Dazai pouts. “That hurt.”

“Dazai.”

“Chuuya.”

Dazai watches as Chuuya closes his eyes for a moment, and takes a long, slow inhale. Chuuya’s therapist had recommended this apparently, and for the past three days it’s been working and Dazai is kind of impressed because he’s been trying to see how many times he can get Chuuya to do that in an hour and so far it has only been four. Dazai’s not sure if that says more about Chuuya’s patience or Dazai’s ability to annoy right now

Maybe he’ll try for a new record. According to his watch, it’s three o’clock.

“Dazai,” Chuuya says again, his eyes still closed. “What are you doing.”

Dazai wriggles down so his head is in Chuuya’s lap. “I’m being bullied.”

Chuuya exhales slowly. “Bullied.”

“My cursor is staring at me and it’s telling me I can’t write,” Dazai explains. If he sounds a bit petulant, well, good. He is petulant. He’s being bullied.

“Sorry, Doc,” Chuuya says, and then there’s two hands shoved against Dazai’s shoulder and he’s being forcibly removed from the couch and oooh, hello floor!

OW, Chuuya!” Dazai rolls over, but stays on the floor. It’s wood, and the varnish is chipping a bit. “Rude.”

There’s another long, slow exhale. “I’m going to kill you.”

Dazai wrinkles his nose. “I don’t want to die by you killing me. Anyway. You’re not allowed to. I haven’t published my book yet.”

“Oh my god,” Chuuya says. He kicks Dazai in the shoulder. Gently. It’s really more of a nudge. “Go fucking write it then so I can kill you.”

“Ow!” Dazai sits up and scrambles away from Chuuya. His skirt drags along the floor. It’s a nice one. A thick cotton that almost feels like wool. “You kicked me.” He pouts. This is apparently the day that Dazai spends pouting.

He realizes, then, that he’s in his I am a brat mood.

Well. Good. It’s better than being actually sad.

“I nudged you.”

“With your foot. So you kicked me.”

Chuuya closes his eye and inhales. Dazai wriggles. Oooh, that’s time two and it hasn’t even been five minutes. Oooooh, he’s going to break the record. He can feel it.

“Please just go back to writing your book,” Chuuya says. “Please. Otherwise I’m gonna kick your ass.”

“But it’s making me sad.”

“That’s too fucking bad. Go write it. I don’t want to deal with you.” And Chuuya looks away and picks up his book and keeps reading.

Dazai sighs and flops back onto the floor. The ceiling glares down at him. Dazai flips it off. There’s a funky edge of something in his stomach that feels like actual depression, and he probably should sit up and think about it but that’s difficult and not something he wants to do so he’s not going to do it.

Yeah. He’s being a brat. The brat part of him, which is currently, blessedly in control, says good. Be a brat.

Dazai can get Chuuya to pay attention to him within fifteen minutes. Possibly less. There’s a way to get Chuuya to pay attention to him because Chuuya wants to pay attention to him and Dazai is going to get that. Dazai is going to win that.

“Dazai,” Chuuya says.

Dazai perks up.

“Get up. You’re going to ruin that skirt.”

Dazai wilts.

And then gets up.

He really does like this skirt.

“Hmmpf.” Dazai flounces back across the room to the table where his laptop is and falls, dramatically as he dares, into the chair.

And promptly loses his balance and falls back out of it.

“Ow,” Dazai says, and means it this time.

“You okay?”

“No!”

Pause.

“You’re fine.”

Dazai sits up. His lower legs are still on the seat of the chair but his skirt, long and pretty, is gathered around his waist. His head does that thing where it shivers slightly from the bump.

He feels a bit like an incredibly disgraced princess. “I actually did hit my head.”

There’s a pause, and then Chuuya sighs. “How badly?” He’s still not looking at Dazai.

Dazai frowns. He touches the spot and it doesn’t feel the slightest bit tender. “I’ll be fine.” He frowns. “Don’t look at me. I don’t look very graceful right now.”

“What,” Chuuya says, and twists around, eyebrows raised. He makes a funky little pfft sound that usually makes Dazai smile inside but this time makes him frown outside.

“I said don’t look.” He swings his legs off the chair, and scrambles to his feet and thankfully doesn’t rip his skirt. This time when Dazai sits he’s more careful about it.

The document open on Dazai’s laptop is still the mean one that makes him want to cry. He fixes a sentence, rewrites a paragraph that is really just another sentence. The characters in this are sad and grumpy though, and they’re fighting, and Dazai is tired and doesn’t actually want to write a fight scene, especially not the one that means the story ends and everything goes badly and everyone is sad forever. Which is what this fight scene is—the one that makes everyone sad forever.

It’s a very angsty story.

Dazai sniffs, loudly, and starts slamming the keys of the computer a little harder.

Chuuya doesn’t look up from his book when Dazai peeks over.

That doesn’t particularly surprise him. Chuuya is a bit immune to bratty Dazai. Dazai is always bratty around Chuuya, anyway.

But there’s ten minutes left to get Chuuya’s attention.

Dazai, first, switches documents until he’s on document number four, for his “Short Horror” Literature class. And then Dazai picks up his laptop and heads over to the couch, and sits down. He’s careful about it. He tries to look elegant. Graceful. Princess-like. That’s his new I-didn’t-have-a-childhood-so-now-I-want-one obsession: princesses.

And mostly being one.

Because Dazai thinks he’d make a killer princess.

He sits up straight and balances his laptop on his knee. Tucks his hair behind his ear. The words on the screen stare back at him: She won’t have showered for five days.

Dazai pouts. This is, indeed, very depressing.

The couch will have started to meld into her body and with her it will be becoming a single entity.

Dazai frowns and hits the delete key, one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten-eleven, because “be becoming” is fine and all but doesn’t sound like his beautiful brain.

Not that his brain is feeling beautiful right now. The brat has started losing ground.

It is very annoying.

There will be a smell permeating the room: rotting flesh, lemons, vomit. She will wonder what put it there. She will have forgotten her own hand in the existance of the rotting flesh, her own heart in the growth of the lemons, her own stomach in the pool of vomit. She will wonder who brought this stench, and what it has to do with her, and most importantly to her, what she will have to do to fix it.

There’s a tight inhale from the other end of the couch and when Dazai peeks over Chuuya’s got his eyes closed and the expression that says he is actually very annoyed thank you very much.

Aha. Time three. Dazai is going to win.

He pretends not to notice Chuuya getting irritated next to him.

“Dazai,” Chuuya says. “What did I say about the leg thing?”

“The leg thing?”

Sharp inhale. (Time four!)

“The fucking—the shitty jiggling thing you do. You’re bouncing the whole damn floor. And couch.”

“Ooooh, does Chuuya like my strong legs?” Dazai peeks over and Chuuya is looking at him with an expression that Dazai can’t immediately parse. Smiling and not feeling the smile, Dazai stretches out a long, long leg and points his toes. “See? Strong leg.”

“Fucking. Noodle ass.”

Dazai giggles.

Chuuya sighs. Goes back to reading.

Eight minutes.

This calls for desperate measures.

Time to go back to that final, terrible scene, of the aftermath of the argument:

He’ll wonder in the future what he could have done differently. If, perhaps, when they’d first met and he had said “Sorry” instead of “How dare you,” would this still have been his present? Or in this impossible future present with a single word of difference, a whole world of difference, would Jun still be by his side?

He wonders now, though, what the future will hold. What it means when someone who means the world has left him.

Dazai’s not sure how to write this next bit. After all, there’s only three people that mean anything to him, really, and he trusts them not to go. Atsushi worships him too much. Oda is, in all ways but biological, his brother.

And Chuuya?

Dazai peeks down the couch.

Chuuya wouldn’t leave him.

But Dazai—

He rapidly deletes the last paragraph. No. Chuuya wouldn’t leave Dazai. Chuuya knows Dazai and Chuuya is loyal and Chuuya won’t leave if he can tolerate when Dazai is permanently a brat.

But the other way around—

He wonders now, though, not in the future, if he will survive leaving his heart behind. If he will manage to take the first step to living, and then the second, and then another step after that.

And he wonders how long he can walk without his heart, how long he can move with this gaping, bleeding hole in his chest that he put there.

Feeling something is better than nothing, they say, but this feeling something is to feel reverse nothing at all.

There’s a sigh, and then the snap of a book closing. Dazai frowns. Forget his earlier bet, forget everything, he actually might be able to finish this stupid book (and then if he finishes the stupid book he gets to)—

“Hey.” Chuuya’s next to him now. “Dumbass. Hey. Bastard.” A finger pokes his cheek. Dazai doesn’t even bother to bite at it. He might be able to—

“Dazai,” Chuuya says. “What’s wrong?”

“No,” Dazai says. He juts his lip out. “You didn’t pay attention to me earlier so—“

A sharp, long, deep inhale. Time five. Dazai’s won. He peeks sideways and Chuuya has his eyes closed. His lips are pursed.

Dazai wants to kiss him.

But that’s not something they do. Not yet. Dazai’s twelve-step plan to get Chuuya to want to kiss him is only at stage five. He’s not able to kiss Chuuya yet.

“Hey,” Chuuya says, and then reaches out and closes Dazai’s laptop.

Dazai yelps, yanking his hands out from under the screen, and smacks Chuuya’s arm. “Hey!”

Chuuya looks at him, unamused. “You’re crying.”

Dazai blinks. Checks his watch.

3:11.

“Sorry,” Dazai says, and scrubs at his eyes. He’s got Chuuya’s attention, and the brat is back. The brat wants to keep it. “I didn’t mean to.”

Chuuya rolls his eyes. “I know, idiot. Even you can’t cry on command.”

Dazai cannot. It’s very unfortunate. Crying on command would be a very good get-Chuuya-to-pay-attention-to-me tactic. He’s going to have to learn it.

Chuuya takes the laptop and puts it over on the floor.

“The fuck’s problem, anyway? You were in brat-mode earlier, but now you’re not. Now you’re…” Chuuya waves a hand. “Fucking. I don’t know. Misery mode. Is that one of your modes?”

“I’m always in misery mode,” Dazai declares. “I have depression, Chibi, that’s how depression works.”

A sharp inhale. Chuuya’s got his eyes closed. Oooh, Dazai has definitely broken his record. Wheee.

“So brat-mode is back.”

Dazai beams, and swings one of his legs over Chuuya’s lap, and then the other. He squirms forwards a bit.

“Jesus fuck. Your ass is so bony, Mackerel, oh my god,” but Chuuya’s arms wrap around Dazai’s waist anyway.

“Chuuuuuuuya,” Dazai says. Misery-mode—because that’s actually a good name for one of his many, many modes—gets stuffed back into a little box. The brat sits on it. “Chuuya.”

“Oh my fucking god.” Chuuya tips his head back, leaning against the back of the couch. It would be easy, so easy, to flick Chuuya’s hat off of his head, but for the sake of the incredible nice spot in Chuuya’s lap Dazai does not. Instead Dazai smirks and traces a single finger up the column of Chuuya’s throat.

Chuuya reaches up, fast as a wink, and snatches Dazai’s hand. “Your fingers are fucking freezing.”

Dazai sniffs. “That’s not my fault.”

Chuuya frowns, or Dazai thinks he does. “Who’s fault is it then?”

“Yours! Because you didn’t pay attention to me and now I’m dying.”

“You’re such a goddamned attention whore,” Chuuya says. Dazai beams and then leans sideways, so he’s resting in the crook of the couch. He reaches out and bops Chuuya on the nose.

“Chibi. Your Royal Highness wants you for something.”

“What, Dazai.” Chuuya’s got the growly tone. The one that means soon he’s actually going to get mad.

Pause.

Dazai’s therapist would say it’s time to be honest.

The brat says it’s time to annoy.

He chooses the middle ground.

“My writing is bullying me and it’s making me sad.”

Chuuya’s eyebrows furrow and he slides a look over at Dazai, head lolling across the top of the couch. “You got writer’s block again or something?”

“Or something.” Dazai also rests his head at the top of the couch. He traces the lines of Chuuya’s face with his eyes. “Nothing Chibi can help with, though.”

“When are you going to stop calling me that?”

“Never!”

“Fucking hell.”

“Ah-ah-ah, no bad language around princesses~”

There’s another pause.

“Okay,” Chuuya says, after a moment. “The fuck is the matter with you.”

“I want to be a princess?” Dazai’s pretty sure they talked about this. He distinctly remembers telling Chuuya this and Chuuya saying okay and Dazai saying yay you’re going to help me with my fifteen step plan to becoming a princess.

He doesn’t actually have one. Not yet. But he thinks he should. Step-by-step plans are very nice.

“Not that,” Chuuya says. “You just…something seems off about you, is all.”

“Ooooh, so Chibi’s observant!”

“You only go into brat-mode when you’re trying to hide from your feelings,” Chuuya says. He sounds exhausted. Possibly by brat-mode. “You know that, right?”

Dazai didn’t, actually, know that.

“It’s a defense mechanism.” Chuuya tips his head sideways, and smiles at Dazai. Red hair is falling across his face. “Right?”

“You don’t need to psychoanalyze me,” Dazai says, and pouts.

“You psychoanalyze everyone, though.”

“Well, yes, but I’m special.” And that, also, is a defense mechanism. The psychoanalyzing—not the being special.

“I know,” Chuuya says. He reaches out and runs a hand through Dazai’s hair. Dazai feels his eyes widen. “You’re also an idiot.”

“Mean. Chibi is mean.”

Chuuya rolls his eyes. “Oh my god. Just tell me what’s wrong so I can fix it.”

“You can’t fix it,” Dazai says. “Because it’s…” He huffs. This isn’t working. He pulls his legs from Chuuya’s lap and curls into the couch arm. Becoming one with the couch. He pushes the thought out of his mind. “It’s just stupid writing things. I’m writing a sad story and it’s making me sad and I’m upset about it.” He pauses. “And I want you to pay attention to me.”

Oh, wait. This is phase six. He’s enacting phase six. Oh holy shit he’s like…enacting phase six: emotional honesty. Saying his feelings.

He really thought it would take a whole year more to get to this.

“And yeah. I think I went…I don’t know. I want to annoy everyone because I’m annoyed and I’m upset,” and Dazai swallows. Ah. Yes. He can feel the tears prickling. “Sorry.”

“Oh my fucking god,” Chuuya says. “Just—come here, stupid,” and he sits up and squirms around on the couch and holds out an arm. “I’m here, okay, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Dazai flops forwards, his head smacking into Chuuya’s shoulder. The arm comes down and settles around his shoulders, and then Chuuya’s hand is back in Dazai’s hair, carding through it, slowly.

“I was writing about someone leaving. That’s how the book ends. They leave and it was making me stressed because I don’t know how to write it,” Dazai says, into Chuuya’s shoulder. “And so I was like, oh what if…someone I cared about left me,” since phase eight is saying that Chuuya matters to him, not phase six, “and I couldn’t imagine it. Since I trust people to stay with me.” Which is new. “But what if Ieft them. And that made it hard. And that’s why I’m crying.”

God. Ouch. Okay now Dazai’s just…not going to talk because Really Sad Mode is here.

“Fuck,” Chuuya says. “Hey. Thanks for telling me. It means a lot that you’d share it with me.”

Dazai presses his face into Chuuya’s neck, and blinks. He tries to say something, but the word gets very stuck and he can’t spit it out so he just nods

“So you’re going to talk to your therapist about brat mode, right?” Chuuya’s hand is carding through Dazai’s hair again, slowly, rubbing against the spot at the base of his skull. It feels very nice. “And I promise. It’s going to be okay.” Chuuya exhales.

There’s a long moment of silence where Chuuya doesn’t talk and Dazai sits and blinks wet into Chuuya’s neck and Chuuya’s fingers card through Dazai’s hair. It’s rarely them alone like this anymore—usually one of the shared people they know is there.

It’s nice.

After a minute or possibly a year, Chuuya says something, really quiet. Dazai’s not sure he was supposed to hear.

“You probably didn’t catch that,” Chuuya says. The scratch of his voice is right next to Dazai’s ear and the sound vibrates through his head. “But yeah. I trust you not to leave me, too.”

Dazai makes a face. Emotions. Yuck. “Yuck,” he says, because he can. “Ew. Gross.” He sits up and leans back from Chuuya, arching his spine like a cat. “That’s gross,” Dazai says solemnly.

“Oh my fucking—“

“You’re bullying me,” Dazai says. “With your gross, nice emotions.”

“I fucking—“

Dazai leans in and kisses Chuuya on the cheek. “Thank you,” he whispers, into Chuuya’s ear. He leans back out and sticks out his tongue. “Mleh. Gross.”

“Oh my god,” Chuuya says. He smacks Dazai’s leg. “I’ll show you bullying, bastard.”