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Chapter Text

 

 

When he took his first life, he thought he knew death.

 

Knew what it meant to feel a pulse die out,

what it meant to see the blood flow from slit veins onto the cold, linoleum floor,

what it meant to watch the light fade from eyes, so unfamiliar and yet, so known...

 

But he didn't.

 

Not until he became death itself.

 

And as the eerie chant preyed upon his lips,

as the foreboding call of the Earth quaked underneath his feet, 

as the darkness took hold of his heart and turned his blood black like ashes...

 

Chuuya thought he knew death.

 

But as it turns out…

He still doesn't.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

There’s a tremble in the air.

A shift in the Earth underneath his feet as they push off, the floor cracking apart in dismay... 

The echo of a gunshot ringing out just a moment later.

 

The bullet never reaches its target, its lethal tip merely hovering in the air against a black-clad finger before it falls to the floor with that hollow chime his ears have come to love.

 

“Mind yourself, Tachihara…” Chuuya mumbles, voice stern to the other whose face is enveloped in surprise.

“Chuuya-san…” Is all Michizou is able to offer before the addressed leaps forwards again, for there is no time to waste in the current situation, this display of discourtesy.

 

The sniper’s appearance was unsurprising, though Chuuya is rather sure that’s not a mutual feeling as the other’s bullet was just made useless and a crate comes flying at him from the neighbouring building, catapulted up to 30 feet high and straight into his unfortunate face.

 

Chuuya barely takes a second to enjoy the lovely smack it emits as he continues to sprint and jump across the place like he’s flying. For that is exactly what it feels like, what he revels in.

His foot finds yet another victim, catches some unlucky bastard at the soft flesh of his abdomen before he’s sent flying across the entire range of the warehouse and hits the opposite wall with a pulverizing slam.

It leaves Chuuya standing in a rather vulnerable place, however, with his back turned to his allies and his face to the enemy.

 

Countless bullets shower him instantly, as if a cloud just burst over his head.

 

The stretch on Chuuya’s lips oozes pure amusement as all the shells are nullified with no effort at all and clink to the concrete floor like church bells ringing on a Sunday.

Behind pale-blue eyes, bloodlust rises to new peaks as Chuuya beckons his enemies into close combat with the simple flick of a finger.

 

This bland warehouse of the Yokohama port has, apparently, been turned into a warzone.

But it’s a warzone Chuuya owns.

 

As his dance of death continues, Michizou’s voice cuts through the air like a knife to command his subordinates around the maze of countless shelves and stacked crates. He’s beside Chuuya in the next instant, eyes burning with resolution as he joins the carnage to correct his near-blunder from before.

 

 

It takes no more than five minutes from that point on out before the enemy is completely subdued,

their unmoving bodies now lining the floor, freckled in bountiful shades of red.

 

Chuuya pulls up his nose at the sour taste forming in his throat as other agents arrive on the scene, already taking up the body count like it's any other day's procedure...

 

He allows himself to sigh in relief however, for who knew such a ‘small’ drug cartel would turn out to be so… troublesome.

 

This was supposed to have been but a tiny bump in the road, a simple mission, now promoted to a disconcerting case filled with holes…And Chuuya wasn’t even supposed to be here.

He’d only returned from another job an hour ago; had been planning on getting a nice drink at the bar, had been aching to just fucking relax.

But then that twist in his stomach had found its way into his system, a feeling so instinctual, far too hard to ignore.

 

So it appears that, sometimes, it is commendable to trust in one's instincts,

though Chuuya is sure he does that more often than he realises anyway...

 

“Fuck, I’m glad you came…” Michizou sighs to Chuuya as he half-stumbles towards him, his already rather distasteful green jacket soiled with blood stains while the rest of him appeared just as disheveled.

Chuuya just gives him a sympathetic smile as the other needlessly apologizes for his somewhat ungraceful language.

“There were more than I expected…Where the hell did they get all these guns anyway?” Michizou’s question is laced with annoyance but shot at nobody in particular. Chuuya understands his concerns, however.

The whole situation simply birthed suspicion.

But for now, he’ll have to push it down…

 

“It’s hard to say with all the leftovers from the Guild still lingering around, I suppose.” Chuuya just mutters in response as he pulls out his knife from unbreathing flesh, wipes it down before swiftly sheathing it away again.

 

He’s still out of it somewhat, still riding the high of tainted bloodshed he’s sure he’ll come to regret again later…

Though the blood of his allies haunts him far more than the stillness of his enemies.

 

“Chuuya-san?”

 

The syllables of his name are laced with worry, cut through the haze in his mind as he turns to Michizou with a raised eyebrow, trying to wash away the previous frown marring his lips.

He can read the ‘Are you all right?’ straight from his subordinate's face, eyes focussing in on him like he’s analysing Chuuya bit by bit.

 

Needless to say, Chuuya doesn’t like it at all.

Doesn’t like to get reminded of how sometimes, he’s unable to suppress the emotions from finding their way onto his features.

Doesn’t like to get reminded of how fucking Dazai used to analyse him the same way…though with much less expression.

No, Dazai would never show anything but that blank mask of self-control, of false smiles and serenity.

 

He just offers the other a single nod as he flashes him his trademark smirk before straightening himself, consequentially throwing his coat swiftly over his shoulders again, as if it puts up a barrier between him and this world, this life he was born into.

A life of killing strangers so they don’t kill the ones that he loves…

 

“I trust you can handle this mess from here on out?” He simply asks the Black Lizard commander and watches those honey-coloured eyes widen, some beacon of light emitting behind them like Chuuya just proclaimed him a king…

“Of course, Chuuya-san!” Michizou salutes him so formally it elicits a genuine smile upon Chuuya’s face as he turns away.

 

And as he stalks towards the building's exit, his every step evading the blood both familiar and foreign, his gaze turns sightless.

A certain feeling of emptiness swipes him up as he leaves behind the stench of death. It’s expected, nothing new, only a routinely play as claws are trying to pull open the void inside his fervidly beating heart.

For he can never truly leave it behind, now can he?

 

The yearn to fill it up comes just as quickly...

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Sharp teeth nip at already chapped lips,

and as whiskey-shot eyes roam over the paper beneath them, checking every written word they meet with utmost care, it gets more and more challenging to stifle every next yawn...

Michizou already knows Chuuya will check the report at least once before he sends it in to the boss, but he doesn't want to met with disappointment, especially not after this evening’s events…

Therefore, concentration is of the essence.

 

Yet, the corners of his lips turn downwards as he reads over the casualties again.

Because despite having subdued so many, their own blood had been spilled in the onslaught as well...

 

And as much as Michizou absolutely hates losing those under his command, he knows a particular someone who despises it even more.

 

Sweeping a hand through his crimson spikes, Michizou lets out a sigh before folding the report up as neatly as possible, shoves it in a matching envelope and puts it away in the confines of his jacket before looking up to gaze at the flickering flame in front of him.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he questions why he lit the candle in the first place, with all the multi-coloured leds surrounding him already… though there was something about fire that no source of artificial light could ever replace.

Something so utterly familiar.

 

His head is still slightly spinning from focusing on all the small text for over more than an hour but Michizou manages to get himself into the elevator without appearing too tipsy and soon makes his silent descend down to the Port Mafia’s private bar.

And as he enters the nearly desolated place, he can’t help but stretch his arms over his head in an attempt to release some tension from his system, the tiniest groan escaping from his lips.

 

He’s not surprised to see Chuuya sitting there already, his coat still draped over his shoulders like a cape…It makes his lithe body seem even smaller, still. His hat is resting on the stool next to him, orange curls free and slightly disheveled, as if rusted from the dribble of rain outside.

It suits him more than he probably realises…

 

One of Chuuya’s hands is slowly spinning red wine around in a glass, far more elegant than probably intended as his opposite elbow lazily acts as a pillar for the weight of his head, his mouth running off against Hirotsu all the while.

For some reason, the old man is playing bartender again this evening.

It’s a typical setting, all too familiar.

But Michizou knows things will turn out different than usual, this night...

 

“Ah, Tachihara-kun, finally decided to join us?”

“Reports are important, old man.” He shoots back at Hirotsu and watches a smirk form on the man’s wrinkled face.

Michizou merely pulls the envelope from his jacket and carefully lays it down in front of Chuuya. Tired blue eyes glance at his motion before they close, a single nod following suite in appreciation.

The smile that usually follows never comes.

 

“So, what were you guys talking about huh?” Michizou decides to voice lightly as he sits down on Chuuya’s left, tries to act his typical aloof self as convincingly as possible. Of course, he already knows what the topic is but he figures he’ll be extra polite this evening…not that Hirotsu deserves such a thing.

Said devil pours him a whiskey on ice just a tad later, smirk widening at him as if he already knew Michizou is in need of something strong.

He's not alone on that account, however.

 

“Just today’s affair of course.” Hirotsu responds with a fumble at his monocle and in the next heartbeat, Chuuya finally speaks.

 

“I don’t like it.”

 

Both Michizou and Hirotsu turn to the executive in their midst who’s still peering at the swirl of wine in his glass, as if it’s the most intriguing thing in the world.

“The information was supposed to be accurate…there weren't supposed to be that many of them…no guns either...” Pale-blue hardens as eyebrows tinted in tangerine crease together.

“The scouts confirmed it twice…”

 

The two Black Lizard commanders then share a look.

“Chuuya-san…you don’t think-

Piercing turquoise silences him with but a single glance, one that confirms what Michizou was just about to utter.

 

You don’t think there’s a mole, do you?

 

Not that it’s anything new but it’s been a while since they had to deal with an issue like that. With the Guild’s recent demise and all these new bands of criminals turning up left and right to grab whatever’s left, Michizou supposes it gives rise to such things.

 

“Just keep a close eye on your men for now, alright?” Chuuya merely adds as he turns his attention to the report in front of him, plucks it out of the envelope as if he’s handling a piece of glass. His eyes instantly start skimming over the sentences like flying daggers.

And soon enough, Michizou can see the ice forming behind the blue of his dazed eyes.

 

He and Hirotsu just give a single nod in response however, understanding the command loud and clear.

 

“Hirotsu-san, could you deliver this to the boss please?” Chuuya quips just a minute later as he hands the report over to the other, doesn't remark a single thing on it. It makes something swell up inside Michizou, as if a flower just unfolded in his stomach. He mentally pats himself on the back for spell-checking twice.

 

Hirotsu accepts the report wordlessly before taking a respectful bow, swiftly leaving Michizou and Chuuya behind as he strides away, whiskey and wine still standing side by side.

 

And so they simply sit there for a while, nothing left but the slight buzz of the cooler as well as the light tune of the stereo to fill up the silence.

 

It doesn’t help to reduce the unsettling feeling gnawing at Michizou's insides.

Doesn’t help the frown marring his companion’s face…

 

“Chuuya-san…” He starts, inwardly cursing himself for the doubt so audible in his voice and his inability to shift his eyes away from the honey-ish liquid beneath him.

“For tonight, I’m sorry, I…”

He startles from the sudden impact on his back, eyes widening in surprise before he realises that Chuuya had just given him a simple pat, a warm chuckle reaching his ears.

 

“You did well, Tachihara.” The executive speaks, finally puts that crooked smile on his face right where it belongs as turquoise meets gold somewhat more gentle.

“If you had just rushed into the fight instead of taking the time to calculate things through, many more might’ve been lost…”

 

Chuuya’s gaze saddens again, if only for a moment before it returns to simple indifference, a certain aloofness in his body language as he slumps forwards somewhat, lungs giving out all the air they’d stacked in.

 

“I just hope I’m wrong about my speculation…”

 

Despite the sudden surge of pride at his superior’s previous words, Michizou can’t help but sink down into the sea of wariness alongside the other…

 

“I hope so too, Chuuya-san…”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

A lonesome sigh travels throughout the halls,

sharp, sceptical blue flickering over the little paper held tightly between black-clad fingers once again...

 

Huit heures trois, septième étage.

 

Three minutes past eight, seventh floor.

It's not as if Chuuya is the only Mafioso around who has knowledge of the elegant language that is French, but it just made it all the more obvious that this message is truly meant for his eyes alone, especially after finding it pinned to his most cherished hat just this morning…

 

It’s creepy if nothing else, but Chuuya isn’t one to back away from a clue for such petty reasons, besides…

He already knows the courier's identity.

 

So now he’s here, at the designated time and location, blue eyes searching out the two guards who are supposed to be at this door, guarding their renewed database.

Because, of course, Dazai had felt the need to all but demolish the last one after getting his information on 'the weretiger'.

Bombing Chuuya’s car four years ago hadn’t been quite enough, apparently. The bandage-wasting bastard just had to add a bunch of other problems on his list too, would probably even dare to phrase them into some sort of ‘gift’ to celebrate their reunion.

And Chuuya had just let get away with it all…

 

He wipes the thoughts away as he refocuses on the task at hand, merely gives an annoyed “Tch.” before finally entering his code on the door’s panel. The screen instantly blinks green with a small beep, confirming his right to access.

Swiftly turning the handle, there's no hesitation as he enters the darkness lurking within.

 

There’s nothing but rows and rows of shelves filled with either old paper files or newly planted servers, stacked up all the way to the ceiling. He sneaks alongside them, feet moving forwards without generating a single sound, his shadow completely blended in between the familiar small whirls of ventilators and jittering beeps of the spiritless yet living system around him.

Soon enough, another sound joins the fray, one that doesn't quite belong.

He stalks closer to the source, knows it’s coming from the main panel as the tick-tack of fingertips hitting keys grows more apparent with each step he takes.

 

Before him stands a man fully wrapped in black, a man you could call the ‘rotten apple in the basket’ though he’d have to belong to Mori’s bountiful harvest first…

And even with this little vision and just a backside to go from, Chuuya is quite sure…

He doesn’t recognize this man.

This infiltrator.

 

The fingers typing away on the keyboard freeze abruptly just a moment later. An appropriate reaction, Chuuya thinks, to the knife he’s currently pressing against the man’s clothed throat.

 

“I’d take my hands off those if I were you.” Chuuya warns lowly, allows his grin to seep into the words. The man only chuckles in return however, its vibrations moving through metal and into Chuuya’s bones, igniting his temper.

“You really think I’m fucking around?!” He exclaims loudly as the sharp of the knife starts digging into the other’s skin.

 

Said skin disappears into nothingness just a quarter of a second later, the man seemingly having dissipated into thin air.

 

Perplexed and caught off guard, Chuuya literally doesn't see the sudden hit to his front coming, a bout of painful pressure exploding on his chest as he’s sent flying backwards.

He recovers his balance just as quickly however, performs a calculated back-flip with ease as if he was born half feline before crouching down on the floor and holding out his knife in a defensive position.

 

“Damn...” He only curses to himself as the stranger materializes again in the exact same spot he vanished from, dark eyes smirking at Chuuya in satisfaction from his little show.

 

The play should anger him, the man’s obvious amusement even more.

But instead, Chuuya’s face is still contorted with confusion, with disbelief.

Because he’s certain…

He’s seen that ability before.

 

‘But that’s not possible…’ He thinks, blinks his eyes forcefully like they’re being deceived.

‘Because-‘

 

“Of course you’re not…” The infiltrator then speaks, regaining Chuuya’s attention and disrupting his thoughts.

The voice crawls over his skin like sandpaper.

“Though I’m surprised it’s you who sniffed me out of all people…”

Chuuya merely lets an eyebrow rise in question at that as he pulls a distasteful frown on his lips at the other’s implication.

 

“I mean, you used to be the brawn and not the brain of Double Black back in the day, no?”

 

Oh man, this guy sure knew how to push his buttons…

 

“Any chance you’re willing to let me off though?” The other continues, his voice slightly muffled by the cloth he just pulled up over his mouth.

“I mean, I only needed some more…. data.

 

Then it’s Chuuya’s turn to laugh, though it comes out more as a bark of ridicule.

“Some spy you are,” He quips with a false smirk “Who you working for huh?”

 

Chuuya can see the grin grow in the glim of the other’s eyes at his question.

 

“Oh my, are you going to interrogate me, Mafia dog?”

 

“Nah…” Blue eyes steel into stone before Chuuya subtly puts his knife away. If this rat wants to get to know this half of Double Black, who is Chuuya to deny him, right?

 

“I think I’ll kick whatever I have to know out of you instead!”

 

It’s the only warning the other gets before the back of Chuuya’s foot connects with his side in the next instant, sending him flying into a shelf filled with old carton boxes.

Oh, how he just loves turning underestimation on top of its own head like this. It’s almost like his enemies just never learn…

 

Stray papers are floating around like feathers before they land scattered across the floor as Chuuya nears his target again. He already knows that the man won’t be laying amongst the rubble any more, however.

 

As if sucked back into time, he retraces the steps lingering in his mind, still knows them like the back of his hand.

Exhaling slowly, he keeps his body still like a statue as his blue gaze shifts over the room, taking in every detail his eyes are able to capture.

His ears are focused on every little sound they meet, every possible anomaly sure to be noticed, caught out, struck down.

 

After all, Chuuya had clashed with this ability before.

But in a different place, with a different person…

 

 

Beneath his currently calm demeanour, it’s wrecking his mind completely, rises questions best kept for a different time.

Because…

‘Abilities are…unique, right?’

And even if they’re not…the chance of encountering the exact same one among 7 billion faces is just…

 

A flicker of a memory then passes before him, leaves his insides some degrees colder than usual… The image of a man he once respected to a certain extent.

 

The soft intake of breath somewhere to his right snaps Chuuya back to reality, eyes instantly focusing in on the patch of air. He throws out a swift kick into the misleading emptiness like it’s a reflex and when his foot connects with the unmistakable soft feel of flesh, satisfaction fills him like Chardonnay on his tongue.

This time, the spy doesn’t have the time to recover nor turn invisible again as his lungs spit blood from where he’s crumpled up against the wall, flakes of dust from the crack falling over him as if they are snowflakes.

 

Like a predator zoning in on its kill, Chuuya strides forward, opens his mouth to voice the questions he wants, no, needs answered.

 

“Most impressive…” The man interrupts him in genuine honesty however, pushes himself upright to lean back against the now dented wall behind him.

“Looks like I made a mistake taking this job after all…” He all but rasps next.

 

‘Yeah, no fucking shit.’

 

“What organisation do you work for?” Chuuya begins, impatient as the questions come pouring with every step he takes. “What did you do to the guards?”

‘Where did you get that ability?’

The question beckons his mind again as Chuuya crouches down in front of the infiltrator, his glare sharp as a needle before he grabs the other’s neck and pushes him back into the wall in intimidation.

The man merely treats him to another one of his dark chuckles before the tiniest snap is emitted from behind biting teeth.

Chuuya’s stomach clenches up with disappointment as the motion processes in his mind.

‘Cyanide…’

 

“Same as me, I’m afraid.” The man still manages to rasp out as his eyes start to fall closed, his breath falling short.

“They’re just…. sleeping.”

 

Chuuya’s fist imprints itself into the wall next to the other’s lifeless head, the outburst of rage in his nerves nearly coaxing him to alter gravity.

 

“Coward.” He bites out in vain, knowing the man can’t hear him any longer...

 

 

Two seconds later, he lets the now unmoving body sink to the floor as he flips open his phone and contacts the main staff.

Three minutes later, the designated squads already arrive on the scene.

Five minutes later, they discover the missing guards, their lungs as still as their heartbeats…

 

Ten minutes later, Chuuya is already far off away, driving down the endless roads straying from Yokohama’s center, nothing but a sea of green in his mind.

Nothing but those never-ending currents pushing passed borders, flooding the banks.

 

And his demons are only one step behind…

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Peaceful.

It’s a word most people would use to describe his current view.

 

The skyline is painted with a beautiful blend of purple and orange. There’s but a light breeze streaming past his face, his fiery locks hardly waving along with it at all.

And then there is the sun, slowly sinking away into the ground as it turns the same shade of red he’d spilled again this very day.

And all the days before…

 

No, Chuuya thinks to himself...

There is nothing peaceful about this blood-drenched view in front of him.

 

The next intake of smoke travels a bit deeper than usual, fills up the deepest parts of his scarred lungs that can’t really handle the sudden burst of tainted air in the first place, yet he holds in the cough that threatens to cut loose from his throat.

Nobody is around. It’s not like anybody can hear him.

And still, he just wants to feel that burn of a cigarette yet refuses to let it consume him at the same time.

 

It’s a habit he tries to reserve solely for this place, though he sometimes fails to keep himself from putting the damn things in his mouth back at base too…

 

He doesn't need them, or at least, that’s what he keeps telling himself…

Sometimes, the tip to his lips just reminds him to breathe.

 

Chuuya already knows that when he returns home, Mori will be grateful for what he did, will tell him he did the Port Mafia another ‘Great service’.

As much as he likes to believe the man, he can’t accept such praise. Not when he loses their own at the cost of success…

Those missions can never truly be ‘successful’ in his eyes.

 

‘If only I’d been there sooner…’ The usual tirade starts.

But his thoughts don’t matter, his feelings don’t matter. What matters is the job being done.

That’s it.

It’s always been that way, it’s always been that simple.

So why does he feel like something is different, is changing… like a fracture in the Earth waiting to shift?

 

Memories float by of a time where nobody died on his missions. Where people weren't used as pawns or counted as collateral damage as much as they are now.

Or perhaps that was just an illusion, a nostalgic look back into the past where things always seem 'better'...

Glorified

 

A sigh escapes him, low and rueful as he leans back against the hood of his car and the sky darkens with every passing second, the edges of the sun burning against the rim of the Earth.

 

And then comes that blur of confused murmurs in his head concerning the spy’s ability he’s certain he recognized from that one mission abroad…

He now wonders if it’s really that strange, however. Kouyou and Kyouka’s abilities were so similar too… and then there was that case from four years ago…

‘Shit…’

He can’t quite remember…

 

He pulls the cigarette away from his lips as he lets his eyes fall to the screen in his hand, to the ‘Mackerel’ that still remains in his contact list.

 

Dazai would’ve already known the answer to his question…

He was always prepared, always had a plan ready before they went in, be the task big or small.

Was aware of every risk, every weakness and every strength.

Never made a wrong prediction, never surrendered to the pressure of stress or the fervour of battle staring him right in the face.

 

Of course, that usually translated in Chuuya doing the physical part of the ‘problem-solving’, not that it ever bothered him that much.

Chuuya has always lived for the fight, after all.

For the challenges it offers him.

 

He sucks in another stream of nicotine, his relaxed gaze staring down at the city that’s being sketched anew in the shades of the sunset, almost like it’s on fire.

 

It’s not the same any more now, for some reason.

And however much he tries to tell himself it doesn't have anything to do with the old days, where he was still part of ‘Double Black’, where everything was just another colour coded crime…

He knows it does.

Their recent fight against Lovecraft had certainly proved that…

 

It was like he’d been sucked back into the past, the way that old flame lit up again, how it burned like an old pain as their thoughts and instincts coiled together in a tightrope simply impossible to escape from…

How they still remembered the name of every move, of every tactic…

How they still dissed on each other as if they were teenagers again…

 

Pale-blue saddens as Chuuya wonders if Dazai had enjoyed it as much as he had…

At least, up until the point where Chuuya had to use Corruption and Dazai had just left him behind in the dirt afterwards, had lied straight to his face.

 

“Leave it to me, partner.”

 

He’d woken up in the same spot he’d passed out on the very next day, warmed by the light of the morning sun, his coat and hat folded up all neatly on a pile next to him...

 

Dazai will never know how much he had hurt Chuuya at that moment. 

Just like he’d hurt him four years ago, when he’d left the Mafia without a single word, a single sign.

 

Because no, it's not about the fact that Chuuya recovers from it each and every time, that Dazai knows he'll be fine anyway. 

It's about that ageless, unshakable trust he puts in the other time and time again...

Misplaced, unrequited. 

 

And it’s hard, really fucking hard to not just give in to the hatred seething within him, to not just punch Dazai’s face to shit whenever they stumble upon each other as if fate is messing with them…

Because no matter what Chuuya says or does, he can’t reach Dazai on the inside anyway…

 

And he knows that his old partner is but a shadow of the man he once was.

A shadow where once stood a fool.

 

Though honestly, Chuuya isn’t quite sure what he himself has become either...

 

He mentally curses himself as the cigarette gets flicked somewhere between a twig and a ripped leaf before it gets stomped on rather harshly by the front of a black-clad foot.

He frowns down at it in disdain, watches the last of the smoke escape around the rims of his expensive shoe as it travels upwards and fades away into the now lightly blemished forest air.

 

Looks like he’d let it consume him again after all…

 

“Tch.”

He thugs his hat down as if trying to hide his frustration from the rest of the world before he climbs back into the drivers’ seat and twists the ignition, not wasting another second.

For he's spent far too much time in this place after all, with all the work there is still to be done...

 

And as he drives off, Chuuya never notices the presence amidst the bark of pine and the chirp of cicadas.

Never notices the solemn look in the dark eyes staring after him...

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

There’s nothing in the world that could make her feel so unblemished...

That could make her feel so very reborn.

Nothing but a warm, candle-scented bath after a day dressed in hard work.

 

She dries her skin gently, merely caresses it with the softness of the towel before she turns to her hair and proceeds to comb the cherry blossom strands like they’re made of silk.

It takes her no more than twenty-three minutes to finish up her typical routine, to step into her freshly presented kimono and consecutively pull it tightly around her waist, like a piece to its puzzle.

Right before leaving her quarters, she then applies the final touches...ever so carefully dipping some rosewater onto the palms of her wrists, upon the elegant crease of her neck and lastly, onto the top of her cheekbones.

 

She threads upon the spotless floor with pride in her step, slithers through the hallways she once despised with every fiber of her being like an elegant snake.

Smiling, Kouyou knows things will never be the same as in that dreadful time, not while she remains as strong as she is, while she can protect the family she’s come to love so dearly.

So selfishly…

 

There’s a shallow flutter of paper echoing through the hall, of a page being turned again and again and again.

Her eyelids narrow gently as her gaze falls upon the source as soon as she rounds the corner, handled by pale fingers and a piercing blue gaze encircled by the curl of orange strands.

 

Chuuya’s so naively focused on the papers in front of him that he doesn't even notice Kouyou’s presence, is tapping his foot in the rhythm of a silent song as he’s trying to suppress the frustration so apparent in the crease between his eyes.

She can’t help but use the moment to take in the raw image before her, to be dragged back into the sea of the past.

 

She still remembers it all so clearly, that day she walked back from the casino through the city's secret alleys and back streets, still remembers how the rain was threatening to break out from the thunderous clouds above her head.

She met Chuuya the moment it did, the cold drops falling down relentlessly. She remembers watching a small boy with wild orange curls and even wilder eyes quake with fear, remembers a man, screaming “Let go already!” as he was pulling at the tiny bag in the boy’s unrelenting hands, tiny fingers holding on for dear life.

Because at that moment, that was probably all he possessed...

She remembers the shift in the Earth that followed, the raindrops slowing in their descend to the ground as if time itself was being interrupted, remembers how stray pebbles scattered across the floor started to float upwards like gravity had just turned around 180 degrees.

And then there was that shallow, quite poorly executed kick against the thief’s legs. And yet, Kouyou can still see the man nearly flying across the road from it, can still see the clean look of surprise on Chuuya’s face like he couldn't even believe what he had just done.

Can still remember those bright eyes, burning like fire as they finally fell upon her own.

 

And now, whenever she stares into those pale-blues, she can still see that very same fire within them.

The fire that fed his power to grow stronger, to survive.

The fire that got Chuuya up on the ladder in this, if not the most relentless underground organisation in the world.

 

But there are other things lurking around in those sky-filled depths, she knows...

 

After all, there’s a darkness within all of them, but in Chuuya, she had witnessed it change, sees it grow.

She’s certain he’s aware of it, too.

 

“Whatever is so important that you’re still working, lad?” She finally decides to voice her thoughts, watches Chuuya startle the slightest bit out of his comfortableness before he turns to her politely. 

“Ane-san…” He greets her before smiling as soon as his eyes land upon hers, only to sigh and reach for the cup of coffee that’s gone cold on the table’s edge just a second later.

“It’s just something that’s been bothering me…” He says, like it’s nothing important at all.

 

Kouyou just hums curiously as she sits down in the leather sofa across from him, her mind straying back to today’s meeting about the infiltrator messing around in their database, modifying their messages and reports…

 

“Is this still about the spy? Mori just informed me… He seemed very pleased, if anything.” She offers but Chuuya only returns a nod to her words before he sips his coffee, consequentially grimacing lightly at its bitterness.

 

For a moment, she thinks it might be about the two men who lost their lives to the infiltrator for she knows how Chuuya dealt with the death of colleagues… Though she prefers this method of coping over drinking himself into oblivion…

Or stacking up his already blackened blood with tar and ashes.

 

“Remember that job in Europe, earlier this year?” Chuuya starts, still staring at the pages filled with ink, old reports and crumpled envelopes alike.

 

Ah yes, surely Kouyou remembers how she had to spent nearly three months dealing with Mori’s ridiculous blabbering by herself, not to mention the entire catastrophe concerning Kyouka whom had fallen away from her watchful eye, much to that insolent pup, Akutagawa’s fault.

 

“Our affiliation there didn’t just have a conflict with another group, there was one particular…opposition that targeted simply every organisation such as ours, though not really in the meaning you’d expect in our line of business…”

And by that, Chuuya undoubtedly meant every organisation that deals in power, in money and blood.

“What meaning would that be then?” She wonders aloud, watches Chuuya’s lips curl into a smirk.

“Well, he was a real nuisance for a one-man team, for one.” He adds before he meets Kouyou’s eyes, speaks the next words with an edge of respect in them. “Yet, not once did he take a life when he could’ve. It was against his ‘code’.”

Her eyes widen for a moment before her pink lashes fall closed again and she allows her lips to part in amused laughter.

“Are you serious?” She utters just a second later, averts her eyes to the illuminated city outside of the window.

“What a foolish man.”

 

Such a ‘noble’ resolution can only result in disaster in this cruel world they inhabited, after all.

 

“He was…” Chuuya smiles sadly into the words, closes his eyes as if lingering around in some sort of misplaced nostalgia. But the blue reappears soon enough, hardened once more as he continues to explain his tale.

“He was known as the Nightprowler.” He turns his gaze to the crescent moon outside for a moment while Kouyou keeps hers on the now shadowed outlines of his sharpened face.

“Because he could turn himself and everything he touched invisible at will as he hunted those who he deemed ‘evil’ every night until the sun came up again.”

 

And then Kouyou understood Chuuya’s worry. He’d just witnessed the very same ability on that infiltrator…

Still, to turn invisible like a shadow, such an interesting ability gone to waste…

 

“So…were you the one to finish him off?” Kouyou then asks out of pure curiosity, watches Chuuya’s face contort in surprise for a moment before he shakes his head with another one of those solemn smiles.

“I didn’t have to…” He sighs, averts his eyes back to the old reports and the ever-cooling cup of coffee “We had several confrontations, but I never got the opportunity to settle things…”

She watches those blue depths haze over, reflect upon memories she doesn’t have access to.

“And two months ago, I received the report that he’d disappeared, hadn’t shown his face for quite a while… until they found his body that is…or whatever was left of it anyway…” He finishes, stating his point as he looks her in the eye.

 

She understands what he’s trying to say…

 

“Lad…” She starts, offers him a smile soft as feathers “As you know, we’ve encountered people with similar abilities before… why is this one so different?”

Chuuya simply averts his eyes, tired and weary as he sighs in surrender.

“It’s just…a feeling.”

 

A delighted chuckle stumbles from her throat before she can stop it, her fingertips touching her lips lightly as she tries to restrain it in vain. Chuuya just looks up at her with a rather confused expression, his lips parted slightly in question.

“I’m sorry lad,” She apologises, amusement apparent in her voice “I was just reminded of your younger self for a moment… you’ve always relied on your instincts so much, after all…”

She looks downwards for a moment, smiles gently while her lips keep moving along with her thoughts “Mori always said it made you and Dazai a good match…that boy was always too logical for his own good…”

 

The change in Chuuya’s eyes is instant as she spells out the name of his old partner, the brief flash of unmasked betrayal caught a tad too late before blue turns cold as ice.

 

“Ugh, do you really have to drag that bastard into this?” He tries to complain it aside, his eyes now avoiding hers, mood shifted like a storm breaking out upon a cloudless summer sky...

 

Many in the Mafia had responded rather negatively towards Dazai’s sudden disappearance four years ago…  but him turning up as their enemy only two years later had only invoked more hatred, distress and that sharp bite of betrayal in their hearts.

But she knows that nobody resented the man as much as Chuuya did, perhaps even still does, now…

Though she understands... it’s not as simple as that.

 

She lays her own hand upon Chuuya’s as an apology, a comfort as turquoise meets amethyst again in understanding.

 

“Try not to worry too much lad.”

 

The words are empty, though the next she speaks are filled with the pride and the power of a Mafioso she never truly aspired to become, yet now, it is what she bathes in.

 

“Whatever troubles lie ahead, whatever obstacles we face, we will overcome them.”

Just like we have done every time before…

 

The confident curl upon the other’s lips succeeds to light up her heart, momentarily eradicates the roots of darkness trying to claim the emptiness Kyouka left behind inside of her.

 

For Kouyou knows, all too well…

 

Love and Loyalty are not the same thing.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

It’s a calm night, as per usual.

There’s the comforting taste of wine on his tongue, the biting barks and jitters of laughter echoing from the poker table in the back through the entirety of the café, the fine tune of the piano trying to drift over it, trying to soothe his mind…

Trying to slide across all the voices burning holes in his head.

 

For a moment, Chuuya wonders if he might’ve been a musician if he’d had a life categorized as ‘normal’.

Does such a thing even exist however?

 

“And then he just- fucking tells me to calm down, but that’s kind of hard when Gin’s poking knives at me the entire meeting… why does it have to be me all the time…”

Chuuya only smirks as the words process in his mind, Michizou’s erratic movements as he explains his predicaments just as amusing to behold.

‘Perhaps that’s because she likes you, you dunce…’ He thinks in fondness but refrains from speaking his thoughts. He figures he’ll just let Michizou rant a bit longer before enlightening him.

 

It’s…relaxing, somehow. Just what he really needs at this moment, especially after all the research he did before on that copycat spy all fucking day…not to mention the conversation with Kouyou that ended with the advice to ‘not worry so much.’

He takes it to heart, he really does.

But his heart simply cannot rest and neither can his mind.

 

Skilled fingers swirl the red wine around in a crisp-clean glass, pale-blue eyes staring rather thoughtfully into the little vortex it creates as Michizou continues his tale of today’s follies…

It’s cut short some minutes later, however, as the redhead receives a sudden call from Headquarters. He soon announces his leave through hissing lips, cursing Hirotsu or as Michizou calls him, ‘Gramps’, to oblivion for disturbing their conversation.

 

Ah well, Chuuya supposes he'll inform Michizou on his insights some other day, bids his colleague a simple farewell as he allows a genuine smile to adorn his face.

 

“Don’t drink too much without me Chuuya-san!” The Black Lizard commander jokingly yells over his shoulder as he shoots Chuuya a grin before he’s out the door, brisk like a horse set free from the starting gates.

It’s an empty request, though Michizou probably knows that Chuuya is already on his last glass for the evening.

Tomorrow is another ‘dutiful’ day after all…

 

Chuckling lightly, Chuuya shifts his gaze from the still swinging door to the drink in his hand again.

 

It’s rather delightful honestly, how Michizou let go of his nervousness around him under the effect of alcohol.

If only Chuuya reacted that innocently once it got a hold on his system…

 

He remains by himself now, only joined by the empty stools lining the bar’s edge.

Some familiar faces do pass him by, greet him as politely as always while Chuuya merely tips his hat at them in return, routinely draws in another sip from his wine stemming all the way from Nuits-Saint-Georges. The rich taste marked by honey and white flowers tingle so perfectly at the back of his throat, it almost tricks his mind into thinking he’s back on that mission abroad in France itself.

 

Mind peeked with a disturbance, his sweet reminiscence is interrupted rather abruptly by a loud yelp at the door, which had just slammed closed a bit harder than what could be counted as respectful.

And for a second, pale-blue widens considerably at the two figures making a scene at the café’s entrance.

 

“Tanizaki-san, what are we doing?!”

“Ssshhh, Naomi-chan will hear you, Atsushi-kun.”

“But...she’s your sister…why are we hid-

“Do you really want to watch her molest me for the rest of the evening?”

“…”

 

‘Well, well, well…’ Chuuya’s thoughts begin as his lips start to curl upwards in interest and amusement alike, sharp eyes watching the two oblivious souls like an owl peering down from between the branches at its prey.

‘If it isn’t the prized "weretiger" himself…’

 

Nakajima Atsushi, the shapeshifter they had underestimated so…

Akutagawa hadn’t been able to capture him, after all. Had got his ass handed to him instead… only to get stuck into an endless trifle with the other even while they teamed up together to beat the leader of the Guild…

 

Ah, that report had been such a joy to read.

 

The weretiger isn’t alone however, the wielder of the mirage ability ‘Light Snow’, Tanizaki Junichirou, is crouching down at the door right at his side, nervously looking out the windows as if he’s expecting a blizzard to pass by.

The two then proceed to nearly jump one feet into the air as the door suddenly barges open, a large, broad chested man entering and nearly bumping into them.

“Out of the way, little shits.” The guy dressed like your average bodyguard grumbles with a scowl as he moves past the two shock-struck detectives, striding like a draft horse.

 

“Evening, Chuuya-san.” The man greets Chuuya as he passes him. Chuuya only returns the greeting with a smirk, his blue gaze never leaving the two ‘little shits’ still standing by the entrance.

 

“Holy hell, I thought that was gonna be her!”

“Is she still around?”

“How should I know?!”

“I think I just saw Haruno-san pass by…”

“Well, we can’t just stand here all night…”

“You’re right, maybe we should just get a drink and then go back?”

 

For some reason, the weretiger doesn’t seem in the mood for it at all, pulls a face that tell-tales complaint. Eventually they sit down at the bar anyway, straight in the middle where their faces are lit by the zooming lights.

Like scraps of meat presented to the vultures.

 

Much like Chuuya already predicted, their quest for a simple beverage is interrupted before they can even open their mouths.

 

“I think you and your friend better leave.” The bartender’s words are strict and demanding, resulting in the now bewildered faces across from him.

“Huh, why?” Atsushi asks, eyes blinking in confusion.

The bartender merely raises an eyebrow in a questioning motion, stops the skilful twirl of his towel around his glass before he leans in towards them the slightest bit, his next words heavy with premonition. 

 

“You kids do know who runs this place right?”

 

Tanizaki’s face then turns about seven shades paler than it already is, his hazel eyes widening as drops of sweat start to form upon his temples.

Atsushi just seems even more confused, however. Not quite getting the hint at all as his eyes start darting around frantically as if the answer is written on the walls somewhere.

 

“It’s fine, Sasaki.”

 

Said bartender turns to Chuuya with honest surprise marring his face.

 

“It’s just a one-time thing anyway, right boys?” Chuuya then winks at the agency-duo, relishes in their surprised gazes now set upon his shadowed figure. Savouring the last bit of his wine onto his tongue, Chuuya decides to creep a bit closer to the light as well.

 

“If you say so, Nakahara-san…” Sasaki only replies to him calmly as he returns to cleaning his glasses without another word.

 

Chuuya takes his time as he stalks around the bar like a panther, his black coat draped over his shoulders swirling with every step as he observes the recognition dawning in Tanizaki’s dilating pupils.

His colleague, however, only looks at him in blinking curiosity and Chuuya swears he can nearly see the question marks rolling by in those strikingly bright eyes.

 

“Tanizaki-san, who is this?” Atsushi then whispers to the other rather loudly, to which his already nervous companion seems to nearly develop a heart attack.

Chuuya’s smirk only grows wider, however.

 

“A-Atsushi-kun! That’s-

“Nakahara Chuuya,” Chuuya decides to interrupt as he does a little bow out of sheer elegance.

“Though I’m rather offended you didn’t know that, weretiger… Doesn’t the agency inform you of critical information on their enemies, hm?”

 

‘Didn’t Dazai inform you at all?’ Is what his mind questions instead.

 

The boy in front of him only continues to look at him in wonder, however. The innocence lurking in those eyes melting together purple and gold should bother him, should irk him.

Strangely, it doesn’t.

After all, there must be something peculiar about this kid for Dazai to nurture him so…

 

“W-We’re very sorry! Our mistake! We promise we’ll stay away from this plac-

“So, what would you gentleman like to drink?” Sasaki interrupts Tanizaki’s everlasting drain of apologies as Chuuya merely whips out a couple of bills and slaps them on the counter between them, Tanizaki visibly tensing up at the sudden motion.

 

“Just give them a soda or something.” Chuuya only quips before adjusting his hat, its silver chain swinging along gently.

“We’re over 18 you know…” Atsushi then remarks with narrowed eyes, surprising Chuuya just a little.

 

‘So, the pup has some spice after all…’

 

“Oh, I’m well aware.” Chuuya’s lips curl up in a knowing smirk before he appears thoughtful, taps a gloved finger against his chin a couple of times.

“Perhaps you do deserve a decent reward for lending us a hand against the Guild, hm?”

 

Chuuya watches those chimeric eyes widen again, every emotion an open book.

It pains him for some reason yet it intrigues him just as easily.

Because by the time he was eighteen years old, to reveal such emotions had already been a long forgotten memory…

 

It makes him wonder just how Akutagawa had been able to work with him, because well… It’s Akutagawa.

Then again, this kid in front of him is the same person that made an actual alliance between their two organisations happen, for the sake of defeating the Guild.

The same person who had resurrected Double Black if only for a day…

 

So Chuuya knows…

He definitely shouldn’t underestimate him.

 

“Ah? Well uhm, thank you Nakahara-san…” Tanizaki then responds, a bit more serious as well as relaxed though Chuuya can still see remnants of suspicion on his face at the current situation.

Chuuya doesn’t blame him of course, it’s not every day a Port Mafia executive casually treats their ‘enemy’ to a drink.

 

“Chuuya’s fine” He quips back rather quickly before tipping his hat in simple salutation.

‘Nakahara-san’ reminds him too much of a father he never had, after all.

A face he doesn’t remember.

 

Sasaki just nods back at him in understanding as he uncorks another bottle of fine, red wine.

Honestly, they’ll never want to drink anything else again.

 

“Chuuya-san?”

The way his name slips so innocently from Atsushi’s lips startles Chuuya somewhat, makes him turn his head around only to be encountered by an honest smile framed by silver locks.

“It was nice to meet you…” The other utters carefully, genuine appreciation audible in his voice “And thank you for the drink!”

 

Chuuya blinks away the momentary stupor his face is stuck in, another crooked smirk sliding onto it instead.

How strange, innocence.

 

“It’s my pleasure…” He returns in equal sincerity as he flicks his hand around once more in his resumed departure, one final sentence escaping his lips before Chuuya returns to the darkness once again.

 

“Do tell Dazai that if he ever steps upon our turf, It won’t end so peacefully…”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The moment he met his own reflection, met that unknown yet so familiar slither of black behind the blue of his eyes in the mirror, Chuuya knew today would be less than amiable.

He wasn’t wrong.

 

It’s almost nine a ’clock in the afternoon, the sun is bleeding red into the sky as it continues to sink down into the Pacific Ocean next to him.

The port of Yokohama is deserted by now, for every sane person that lives in its proximity knows not to thread upon these grounds until the rays of the dawn would illuminate them again by morning.

 

With but a light frown upon his face, Chuuya realizes he’s actually forgotten the identities of the two men kneeling down before him, their teeth already wrapped around the curb while being stared down mercilessly by the eye of a gun.

It’s not like it matters anyway, they could be the hostages they captured from the drug cartel, could be deserters, could just be two people in the wrong place at the wrong time, could be spies, rats, general vermin…

It doesn’t matter because their fate remains the same.

 

“Al right, let’s get this over with…” Chuuya only mutters, aptly turns his back on the scene and leaves room for his subordinates to take over.

Patiently, he awaits the violent snap of joints bending too far beyond their limit, awaits the raw crack of bone to slice through the silence…

Awaits the wallowing cries of agony gnawing at his conscience.

 

Once, it used to be unsettling, yet now it’s nothing but a signal, a cue to finish the simple task he’d been given just half an hour ago. 

Swiftly, he pulls out his old colt from the inside of his coat, opens and closes the cylinder in a smooth, practised motion as Chuuya counts all the bullets in a mere second.

The old thing is such a hassle to be honest…

It’s a repetitive thought.

‘Should just get a new one sometime…’ Chuuya thinks in mild annoyance as he aims the revolver at the two heaps of shaking flesh in front of him, his gaze as black as the heart dry humping his chest.

 

Truth be told, Chuuya really dislikes performing executions.

There was nothing interesting about taking a life without a single struggle, about stepping on an ant crawling in front of your feet…         

Because in the fight, there's that rush of adrenaline spiking up his bloodstream, sending him sky-high.

There’s that thrill of walking the line between life and death, between victory and defeat.

That near-ecstatic descent back to his primal roots, the instinct to win, to survive lighting up each and every nerve underneath his skin.

 

But this, this is no fight.

This is only a slaughter.

 

It’s why he usually leaves these kinds of tasks to Hirotsu, or Akutagawa even, for they always seem to receive them with honour... But sometimes, like today, it’s Chuuya’s turn to fulfil the necessary duty.

 

“Send my regards to Hell.”

 

It’s all he offers before he cocks the gun and fires six bullets consequentially, the shots ringing out and echoing over the slight rustle of the ocean’s waves, into the darkness’s descend.

 

Something grows within him.

He knows it’s nothing pleasant.

 

Chuuya doesn’t stick around any longer after the deed is done, just offers his subordinates a polite word of gratitude for taking care of 'the mess' before he takes off along the roads that overlook the ocean.

Traffic is a nuisance like always, but Chuuya doesn’t really care much about it as long as he can relax into the seat of his beloved car. It’s not as cosy nor as sleek looking as his last one, which of course, Dazai had blown to pieces just for the hell of it.

Chuuya immediately imported another one the day afterwards, refused to let the foolish act touch his heart.

Because that’s probably what the bastard would’ve wanted, after all.

 

By routine, he parks his car a little while’s off from his actual destination, allows his lungs to be filled by the ocean’s breeze in which the sun’s warmth still lingers. A walk might do him some good, after all, might just shake off some of the tension he’s acquired throughout the long day.

Doing research is by no means his favourite part of the job, but it's an essential one, for The Nightprowler is still lurking in his mind, not to mention that awful gap of expertise between said vigilante and the suicidal infiltrator regarding their ability, which was, in Chuuya’s opinion, still the exact same one, no matter what anybody else said about it…

He’s adamant. Can feel it in his gut.

 

He looks up into the darkening sky, brush-strokes of oranges and violets still marking it as the stars are trying to creep through the haze of the clouds.

A piece of paper tumbling across the street then reminds him of the little French note, the one that had provided him the exact place and time to be at in order to bust the infiltrator…

He hadn’t mentioned it in his report, simply because of the trouble it might rise, because part of him already knew who had written it the moment he’d laid his eyes on the piece of paper, on the oh so tiny words penned down with that unique touch of calligraphy...

Why Dazai of all people knew what was going on or even tell Chuuya about it, he doesn’t know.

Doesn’t want to know.

Doesn’t want to get dragged into tedious things again because he wants to leave it behind, wants to dump it all in a sack and throw it into the ocean so it can sink down in its endless depths.

Doesn’t want to see Dazai again...

 

He wants nothing more than that.

 

Cursing under his tongue, Chuuya hates how his mind runs off towards that cursed bastard again, his system suddenly sprouting an ache for nicotine, for the scent of ashes…

The more he tries to erase him, the more he appears…

 

There’s the tiniest rustle behind him, snapping him back to reality and freezing his feet in place. When he turns around however, there’s not a thing to be seen.

‘Just a rat…’ Chuuya decides, though he keeps still for a moment longer, just listening.

 

It’s not the loveliest neighbourhood here, at least not this street he’s since long decided to take as a path to his private apartment. It used to be littered with muggers, thieves and other vermin of the like.

At least, until Chuuya came along.

It’s a rather calm place now, with the occasional fallout that is, but people tend to recognize him from a mile away now and know better than to challenge his territory.

 

Releasing a tired sigh, Chuuya decides to continue on his way when the silence remains interrupted, at least until a couple of turtle doves flutter by, their melodic cooing filling the still air before they disappear between the buildings.

 

It’s right at that moment when it happens,

as a stray feather floats with the wind and grey wings disappear from sight,

as the air’s current suddenly shifts at his back.

 

Copper locks sweep the air as Chuuya twirls his entire form around in the blink of a second, his knife’s point resting against the crook of a bandaged neck.

 

“My, as alert as ever, Chuuya~”

 

Pale-blue eyes fail to hide their surprise as they stare into irises dark like chocolate. Though Chuuya does manage to suppress the familiar flood of hatred pooling up from inside the well he battered shut so many times already.

 

Dazai’s got his arms raised up in a play of surrender, that typical cheery smile on his face completing the picture Chuuya definitely wanted to avoid today and all other days after this one, in fact.

 

Chuuya pulls his knife back swiftly, slides it back where it belongs while promptly turning on his heel, points his eyes back to the road ahead as his legs carry him forwards, not a shred of doubt in them, lips a thin line.

 

He already knows Dazai is going to follow.

 

“So, did you receive my little note well, hm?” Dazai quips, casually confirming his involvement in the spy case.

 

‘Don’t look at him.’

 

“What’s this?” The other starts again, something akin to surprise in his voice.

Hollow. False.

“Is Chuuya ignoring me?”

 

‘What do you think? You just left me, you bastard.’

 

Whether that thought reflects Dazai betraying him four years ago or leaving him behind in that godforsaken field only recently, Chuuya really can’t tell himself...

 

“You know, I heard you met Atsushi-kun the other day…” Dazai continues obliviously, shoves his hands down his pockets as he falls in step next to Chuuya, twirling around every now and then like he’s not even having trouble following Chuuya’s fast pace.

“You do know giving alcohol to minors is illegal, don’t you Chuuya?”

 

‘That’s rich, coming from you...’ Chuuya’s thoughts grumble in irony, pace never faltering.

 

When Dazai simply skips in front of him however, Chuuya is forced to halt in his step to avoid bumping into the other face-first. His vision consequentially getting stuck to the pendant gleaming against Dazai’s chest, reflecting the colour of the eyes that are his own.

Blue, everywhere blue, trying to suck him back into the past.

 

Refusing to be dragged back into the memory still unforgotten, he glares up into Dazai’s eyes instead, into the glimpses of ghosts and demons still dancing behind those smiling depths.

  

“Do tell me, Chuuya,” Dazai just keeps going, speaks his name like it’s some sort of delicacy between his lips “There’s no little secret plan behind your motives again, is there?”

Chuuya keeps his gaze steady, his lips bending downwards only slightly in his annoyance at what Dazai’s trying to hint at.

 

But there is no hidden scheme, no play behind the curtains in his simple act of kindness.

And perhaps that’s what Chuuya wanted all along.

To prove Dazai wrong.

 

“There isn’t,” He responds, tries to keep his voice as monotone as it can get “But maybe, in the future, keep your pets on a leash, yeah?”

 

Without another word, Chuuya sweeps past him, doesn’t look back to see the momentary frown on the other’s face as darkness stares after him.

 

“Ah, I see! My bad, I suppose…” Chuuya hears behind him, that overly cheerful voice cutting into and throughout his skin “Though now that you mention it, Chuuya, I think someone requested the very same thing to me concerning you once…”

Chuuya can hear the raw smirk on Dazai’s lips as he utters the words smoothly like a snake sliding up his leg, mockery biting him in his calves.

 

‘Just go, go, go...’

 

It’s no use.

Like a moth to a flame, his feet come to a stop again, teeth grinding in suppressed anger that taps into his heart, every beat coming faster, heavier…

 

It hurts.

 

He heaves a sigh as a minute ticks by, undisturbed. Silent.

It’s unnerving all the same.

 

“Oi, Dazai.” He finally allows the other’s name to pass between his tired lips. Judging from the silence behind him, he knows Dazai is listening.

 

“Abilities…aren’t unique, right? What’s the possibility of encountering an identical one?

 

Chuuya turns his head at the other’s chuckle, finds Dazai smiling at him like he expected the question all along.

 

“It’s a sensitive subject, I’ve come across only one case of two people with the exact same ability until now… so indeed, unique is a big word…but if you’re asking me, I’d say…” Dazai answers as he roams his eyes around the place like he’s thinking over every little detail he knows on the topic “The chance of encountering two completely identical abilities is very small…”

 

Blue falls to the road for a second, Chuuya’s thoughts confirmed before he nods to his old partner, eyes unmet.

His heart wrapped up in knight armor, he walks away once again, leaves the other behind as if he were but a small bump on the road.

 

This time, Dazai doesn’t follow.

 

He knows he should be relieved at it, it’s what Chuuya wants after all, to be left alone...

So, he just sets his eyes on the sky again, watches the colours disappear from the heavens and transcend into something so much more empty…

 

It still hurts.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Chuuya~”

With a sigh that tell-tales weariness, Chuuya slowly turns to his right, copper curls gently coiling around his face and neck by the warmth of the fireplace crackling behind his back.

“What do you want, bastard?”

“You should try some of this, it’s good.”

Chuuya just rolls his eyes, doesn’t even spare his partner’s drink a single glance, figures it must be god-awful for Dazai to enjoy it.

“Much better than that sewer water you’re drinking anyway…” Dazai adds with a frown, leans in way to close for comfort to sniff at Chuuya’s wine before scrunching up his nose in distaste.

If he has to be honest, it's actually not as decent as he would've preferred to celebrate another "victory", but it’s not like Chuuya’s going to admit that. Instead, he lets the alcohol rummaging his bloodstream do the talking for him.

“What was that you bandage-wasting mongrel!?” He grumbles, pushing Dazai’s face back to where it belongs “You wanna go at it or something?”

 

Of course, Dazai only smirks at him before parting his lips, no doubt about to spout more nonsense that Chuuya can only receive as meek taunts, much like his own. Before even a single word is able to pass those cursed lips however, Dazai’s falling face forwards, his head hitting the wood of the counter with quite the smack while his cigarette slips from his fingers and drops to the floor…

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” Chuuya just mumbles, lets the momentary surprise fade from his face as he glances around their hotel’s little café. The bartender seems to be the only one interested in the event however, giving a small laugh before he asks if his ‘friend’ has had enough to drink rather sarcastically.

Chuuya just offers the man a miserable smile, downs the rest of his wine in one go as he rises from his seat, and swiftly whips his coat over his shoulders in what seems to now be practised routine.

“Alright, time to go, you inconceivable ass.” He grumbles once again, putting Dazai’s arm around him and lifting him up from his seat. He only gets an incoherent murmur in return but he’s standing nonetheless.

And it’s so damn annoying to Chuuya that he can’t use his ability to make the other just a tad lighter to carry back to their room, but he deals with it anyway. Deals with how Dazai can’t seem to stop drinking himself to shit whenever they have a mission that’s out of town, where Mori won’t know about him getting wasted on booze and cigarettes…

 

If only this place had some damned crab meat, then this would’ve been much less of a hassle…

 

Once inside the hotel room, he just dumps Dazai on the bed, which usually works out just fine but this time, the motherfucker managed to somehow hold on to Chuuya, dragging him down with him.

It’s one of his less graceful landings up till now…

 

“Chuuya~“ Dazai sing-songs again as Chuuya blinks open his eyes from underneath him, a sense of panic striking him almost instantly from the other’s rather close proximity.

How the fuck did we end up like this?!

“You know, despite your atrocious taste in attire…” Dazai starts, eyes tinged with the haze of alcohol, calculating Chuuya like he is a puzzle to be solved.

Whatever bullshit Dazai is about to spout next, if he thinks Chuuya won’t hit him just because he’s drunk, he couldn’t be more wrong.

 

“Your eyes are really beautiful.”

 

Dazai says it like it’s a simple compliment, like he does it all the time, but to Chuuya it’s such a shock that the twitch on his forehead disappears abruptly, his pale-blue eyes widened by the unexpected words.

 

“It’s like staring into an endless sky…”

 

He’s one-hundred percent sure that all the cogwheels ticking behind those dark eyes are turned off right now because there’s no way in hell his partner would say such things to him had his brain been anywhere near functional.

Still, knowing that doesn’t stop Chuuya from becoming aware of the warmth blossoming behind his ribs by the other’s silk-swept words, from the electricity running up his skin wherever it was touching Dazai’s…

Dazai himself doesn’t seem to notice this at all however, just keeps staring into Chuuya’s eyes like he’s admiring two gemstones.

What the fuck.

“J-Just get off, you bastard!” His mouth is finally able to stutter, his foot coming up almost reflexively to push against Dazai’s chest, lifting him upwards so Chuuya can roll out from underneath him in but a swift second.

Chuuya can only praise his own flexibility as Dazai successfully falls back face-down onto the bed, a muffled snore erupting near immediately while Chuuya can only stare at the scene in disbelief, his stomach still in knots, though not in the way he’s used too….

It’s not quite what a hangover feels like, not at all…

 

One week later, he walks straight up to Dazai and pushes a single, bright turquoise into his hands.

“Now you can look at the sky any time you like."

...

..

.

 

 

“Chuuya-san?”

It’s almost a deja-vu as Chuuya turns his head to the right again. Except it’s not Dazai sitting there, shit-facing himself.

Today, he’s the one doing that…

Michizou looks at him with that hint of worry, pulling him back into the present as the unsought memory fades from Chuuya’s mind.

“A-are you alright?” Michizou asks, his stutter a consequence of weighing off the difference between being polite and being nosy, most likely.

 

‘No…’ Chuuya thinks, his mind brutally honest.

‘No, I’m not.’

 

“Of course.” His lips reply instead, his voice holding false honesty “No need to worry about me, Tachihara…”

Michizou seems unconvinced, but accepts the answer for now as he offers Chuuya a stretch of his lips before Hirotsu pulls his attention away. Their voices filter out in Chuuya’s head though he probably seems like he’s listening along, it’s what he’s aiming for anyway.

 

“Ugh, not jazz again!” Heads turn at the complaint resounding through the Port Mafia’s very own saloon as none other than Motojirou Kajii strides in, frowning in a typically dramatic fashion.

Chuuya only chuckles as he allows his smiling lips to meet the cool whiskey in his glass once again. Of course, the bar stool to his left doesn't stay empty for long...

“Is this your doing again, Mr. Fancy Hat?” Kajii asks him, intentionally using the name that detective agency brat honoured him with once. See, it’s exactly those kinds of things, never mind the endless rants about the science behind Chuuya’s ability, that motivate him to return but the slightest annoyances to his 'lemon-obsessed' colleague.

Because it’s not like Chuuya cares much for jazz, as thought-invoking as it can be, it’s just too easy a tool to use for innocently torturing the other.

 

“Careful now, Kajii-kun,” Hirotsu responds in Chuuya’s stead “He’s not quite drunk enough yet.”

The old man then smirks at Chuuya, even dares to wink at him in mischief while Kajii actually tenses up for a moment, as if actually worried.

“Careful yourself.” Chuuya just shoots back at Hirotsu, lips curled up just as easily into the empty threat.

 

It’s moments like these that he appreciates. This simple get-together after a hard day’s work where everyone can relax and pretend to forget the life they lead.

A life built on scarlet fortune and malicious sovereignty…

A life built on death.

 

It’s what connects them, despite their differences and anomalies.

 

Here, they are family.

 

And Chuuya tries not to dwell on the time that Dazai was still with them like this…where his old partner’s just joking around with Hirotsu and Kouyou alike, commenting on Akutagawa’s misbehaviour, dissing on Chuuya’s hats or challenging him into silly drinking games…

Which, wistfully, Chuuya always lost due to his featherweight…

Because those little remembrances always birth a moment where he regrets not going out to the forest for a cigarette instead, though the drink in his hand works just as well to loosen his mind a little.

It’s pitiful.

 

The harsh sound of air scraping over cartilage shifts Chuuya’s attention to the lounge seats across, on which Akutagawa just started another coughing fit. It’s nothing new of course, but it still pains Chuuya every time he witnesses it…even if his face won’t reveal such petty emotions.

As he watches Higuchi interact with her superior in worry, Chuuya thinks back into the past for a moment, supposes he’s achieved a great deal so far with the ‘Boy from the slums’, certainly after Dazai’s ‘training’…

But letting other people help him still doesn't exactly fit in Akutagawa’s book…It’s a miracle he’s letting Higuchi in as much as he is, though that was the deal Chuuya made with him.

Learning how to work in a team, how to be partners, is one of the most valuable lessons in a world like theirs after all…

 

“Akutagawa-kun, you’re probably just lacking some vitamin C.”

 

‘That voice…’

Blue eyes go wide like flash floods as recognition sparks vigilance into his veins.

Chuuya’s gaze, as well as those around him, shift to the source of the wretched sound. There, he meets the familiar sight of the sharp-shinned figure now walking towards Akutagawa, who’s watching the man just as eagle-eyed as Chuuya is.

 

“Try one of these, won’t you?” Ace quips as he casually throws Akutagawa a mandarin before passing him by just as quickly.

Higuchi’s current monologue to Gin ends abruptly at the motion, her entire face turning pale from dread while Kajii is unable to keep his drink from spraying all over the floor right next to Chuuya’s feet…

Of course, Ace completely misses the dark aura suddenly spreading around Akutagawa like a vortex, nearly suffocating everyone in his proximity...

 

And then the over-confident fucker just waltzes their way, though he passes by Chuuya and Kajii just as swiftly, without a single word nor glance.

How fucking typical.

By now, Chuuya’s blood is already boiling beyond the point of evaporation and what happens next doesn’t help at all…

 

“My, Tachihara-kun, still alive I see?” Ace begins as he stumbles upon Michizou, feigning surprise “I have to be honest, I didn’t exactly expect that, lacking an ability and all…”

Michizou looks up at Ace, much like a rabbit in headlights would, and though there’s some hostility lurking in his whiskey-shot eyes, he knows better than to talk back to a superior.

But he doesn’t have to anyway.

 

Ace…” Chuuya appears at their side in the blink of an eye, spitting the name from his lips like it’s poison.

“Whatever is so important for you to show up here?”

 

All eyes turn to them, subtle and unsubtle, it’s all the same to Chuuya.

Just like his resentment for Dazai, his distaste for Ace was well known in the Mafia and he wasn’t alone on that account.

This was a different kind of hatred all around, for that matter. It’s not like Chuuya could actually kill Dazai despite how many times he shoots the empty threat around.

But with this man, his mouth filled with diamonds and pockets stacked with secrets, Chuuya can smell the disloyalty from a mile away, waits enthusiastically for the day that Ace makes a wrong move, just so he can put three bullets in his chest and be done with it.

The man may be an executive, may stand upon the same ledge as him, but they’re not the same.

Nor will they ever be.

 

“Ah, Chuuya, my apologies, I must have missed you there…” Ace purrs back at him like a snake, his challenging smirk completing the obvious stab at Chuuya’s height.

The hostility lurking in Michizou’s eyes moves to the front, creases in between his eyes right before it's ready to strike. It dissipates just as quickly however, by the sudden yet gentle press of Chuuya’s hand against his chest, holding him back from making a sour mistake.

“Don’t ignore my question.” Chuuya just continues, pale-blue still as cold and unmoving from the sharp eyes in front of him “Or did Mori just call you here to explain your sudden absence during our war with The Guild?”

‘You cowardice piece of shit.’ His mind adds, though Chuuya’s sure that Ace can read the insult from his gaze just fine.

 

Needless to say, all eyes then shift to Ace, who’s surely feeling the invisible strings of tension rising up in the air as clearly as Chuuya is.

The Mafia’s newest members are glancing around in slight panic at the scene unfolding before them, probably fearing an actual fight between two executives might break out any moment now.

Michizou still looks like he’s ready to kill, though he remains steady underneath Chuuya’s touch.

Akutagawa and Gin merely feign boredom, though they remain wary behind the grey of their eyes while Higuchi is struggling to look calm, the tension radiating off of her in waves while she holds the now squashed mandarin in her hands, looking around frantically for a way to dispose of it.

Of course, Hirotsu and Kajii are simply amused with the whole thing.

 

Ace just chuckles then, the eerie sound escaping his throat not lighting up the mood at all.

“Hm, Kouyou-san really rubbed off on you, didn’t she?” He comments lightly, smirk still darkly radiant.

“Making the same unsettling comments…”

Chuuya just narrows his eyes at the other’s words, not really sure what to make of it.

“Well anyway, I just wanted a drink really but my thirst has already been sated, I’m afraid.” Ace continues, holds up his hands in surrender as if he’s got no other choices in the current situation.

Once a coward, always a coward.

 

Said coward then leans in, unpredictably so before passing a sly whisper into Chuuya’s ear, unheard by all who surround them.

“Though perhaps someday, I might just find out how many rubies you’re worth, Nakahara…”

 

Then, as if he just performed a check-mate, Ace just pulls away again with a smile stretched all the way to his ears, as if not bothered by Chuuya’s ice-cold glare at all.

“Oh and if you want to know the real reason for me visiting, I suggest you ask either your 'Big sis' or Mori-san about it.” He finishes as he finally, smartly makes the decision to leave the lounge in that same elegant trot he entered with. 

 

Chuuya only releases his hold on Michizou once Ace is completely out of his vision however, sets free a long, much needed breath once everyone finally returns to their own business and the warm vibe of familiarity makes its entry again.

 

“I fucking hate that guy…” Michizou just breathes next to him in obvious contempt and Chuuya can’t help but smile at his unsuppressed honesty.

“That makes two of us…”

 

Well, Ace had taught him one thing...

Hatred and hatred are two very different matters.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“There are rumours about people disappearing around Shizuoka, it tracks back all the way to Nagasaki.”

“Not just people though, ability-users to be more precise...”

“Has that been confirmed?”

“It’s the only cases recorded until now…I’m not saying it’s limited to them but…”

“Very well. Let Chuuya-kun take the lead on this, perhaps it’s in line with his previous 'worries'…”

 

It’s been two days since Chuuya’s received Mori’s order and he has yet to close his eyes for more than five minutes… he’s not even sure if his hunches are right, but he’s following them anyway.

 

The first step was to acquire information on all known ability-users in the area, deceased or no, from the Department of Special Abilities.

Unsurprisingly, Gin had fulfilled this task in a tremendous amount of time, which made Chuuya wonder if she had just infiltrated the place instead of demanding the information with her secret charms.

Having ties doesn’t always mean working along, after all.

The next step was very simple: to search, identify and capture any possible copycat matching the abilities in the files.

 

So when Chuuya awakens by the sound of his phone buzzing on his desk, wild curls whipping upwards from a sea of papers as the shortest arm of the clock is already shifted past midnight, he doesn’t waste a single second to respond to Michizou’s call.

“We’ve secured one, Chuuya-san.”

 

The words are like music to his ears…

 

Though when he arrives at the location, some old, dilapidated antique store on the outskirts of the city, Chuuya’s mood suddenly falters, tumbles down to the fifth circle of Dante’s Inferno at the sight of a familiar trench coat fluttering with the night’s breeze…

The one he lights his fires to keep away.

 

“Dazai-san, what are we doing here again? And at this hour too…”

“Why Atsushi-kun, working of course!”

“You say that but somehow, I have my doubts…”

 

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Chuuya interrupts the vagabond and the weretiger’s petty conversation before glaring up into those dark eyes meeting his in nothing but feigned surprise.

“Ugh, why does it have to be you…if only you’d fallen down a pothole on the way here, Chuuya.”

‘Motherfucking piece of-’ His mind boggles, wonders why the fuck Dazai keeps acting like being around him is the worst thing in the world when he’s the one freaking showing up wherever Chuuya does...

It doesn't make any sense.

 

“Anyway, I believe you’ve met Atsushi-kun?” Dazai just continues happily, completely ignoring Chuuya’s unyielding glare.

Pale-blue then shifts to Atsushi’s confused gaze momentarily, though Chuuya doesn’t waver in his stern face.

“What do you want?” He tries again, as annoyed as he’s serious before he locks his gaze back on Dazai’s.

Of course, the bastard just smirks at him.

“We’re working on a case…” Atsushi then starts before glancing between the two of them, probably uncertain if opening his mouth is even a good idea. “Miyoshi Akio, missing since this Tuesday…” He then presents Chuuya a small picture, which is hardly viewable in the soft illumination of a neighbouring street light.

“He’s an ability user, by the way.” Dazai adds in, the hint clicking in Chuuya’s head as his eyes narrow.

 

So, the Detective Agency was also looking into these disappearances.

How convenient.

 

“Tch…How’d you even find this place?”

“Ranpo-kun figured it out in under five seconds, of course!”

“That’s not exactly tr-

Dark brown never breaks its gaze with the pale-blue before it while Dazai’s hand slips over Atsushi’s now sealed lips.

“Sh, Atsushi-kun, if you talk too much, our tiny executive here might get angry…”

 

Chuuya flinches as his frown only grows, fed by the smugness radiating from his ex-partner’s face, thinks to himself that no, it’s not Atsushi’s voice that’s flowering the irritation within him, It’s Dazai’s, as it always is.

And honestly, he’s too tired for any of this shit.

 

“Just get the fuck out of here before I snap both your necks.”

 

And with that, Chuuya heads inside with the step of a warhorse, the tack of his footsteps echoing throughout the near-dark, deserted store still littered with old fittings and furnishings...

Though when his ears are met with more echoes clipping up and back against the walls, he’s not surprised in the least…

It’s not like Dazai ever listens to him, after all…

 

He finds the captive in the back room, held upright by two Mafioso under Michizou’s command, whose lithe form is blocking part of the view as he’s already loudly interrogating the man.

While his feet continue to walk the Earth as if he owns it, Chuuya’s sharp eyes scan the place in a mere second, take in the rummages of scrap piles and dented car parts. An old kettle hangs above the fireplace burning to the side, the flickering flames providing some light in the ripened darkness.

 

Michizou then recognizes his presence, moves to the side immediately as he greets Chuuya politely as always. Chuuya just nods to him in return.

“So, this is the guy?” He then asks, a bit unsettled by the man’s mediocre representation. In short, he looks like a slightly overweight commoner, his roughed-up appearance the only thing being out of place.

Though that’s hardly self-inflicted.

 

Michizou nods sternly in confirmation, his bandage crumpling up over the bridge of his nose as he begins to explain the situation.

“He attempted to escape once but it was not a-

When Michizou’s voice pauses abruptly and the sincerity on his face slips into sudden surprise, Chuuya already knows why.

…problem.”

 

Because of course, Dazai is now standing there beside him, that false smile curled all over his face like he’s meant to be there, like this isn’t wrong at all.

Like he’s thrown back into the past.

 

“Yo, Tachihara-kun, it’s been a while!” Dazai blurts out cheerfully while Atsushi just stands there and waves awkwardly at Michizou who is, most likely, close to having a heart attack.

“Ignore them.” Chuuya just commands, doesn’t offer another word nor explanation to clear up the current situation.

For he knows Michizou won’t question it, not right now anyway.

 

“What has he spilled?” His feet move him forwards, coat whipping behind him like it's a moving shadow. He halts right in front of their captive, assesses his meagre reactions from close-by.

Dread. Worry. A hint of confusion. Nothing atypical when coming face to face with a reaper.

 

Michizou, however, can’t help but shy a nervous glance at Dazai again, swallowing audibly before replying.

“He’s admitted to hacking into several companies’ systems before…using the ability. From his description, it completely matches the one in the files…”

“Is that so?” Chuuya replies, interest leaking from his lips.

“And is he also aware that this ability belonged to someone else first?”

 

The man blanches at his words, presses his lips together so tightly it almost seems to cause him pain.

 

“Do enlighten us…” Chuuya leans in again, smirk a threatening display upon his face.

“Where did you get it?”

 

A long yet expected silence follows. The man blinks, only once, before glancing around and putting on a nervous smile.

“W-What do you mean?” He starts, the confusion in his voice as fake as Dazai’s damn smile.

“I was born with it…just like everyone else…”

Chuuya’s smirk grows feral while Dazai merely chuckles behind him, no doubt pitying the doomed man before them.

 

“Okay, let me just ask you one more time.

 

A cry of pain resonates through the room a mere second later before Chuuya’s already pulling back the man’s twitching hand from the kettle’s hot sting, flames flickering wildly underneath it.

 

“Where did you get it?” He asks again, as calm and collected as he did the first time, though the only response he gets is a muffled sob and eyes that now refuse to open. 

Chuuya sighs as he tightens his hold on the fool’s hand, now marred red like a threat.

 

“You really want to lose this? For just a couple of simple answers?” He whispers menacingly, shifts the piece of flesh ever closer to the metal radiating heat against both their palms.

He can feel the tremble beneath his touch, can see the squirm of the doubt behind the man’s still avoidant eyes, can almost see the clockworks ticking there, wondering if the coming agony is worth his silence.

And Chuuya doesn’t feel a thing when he presses the shaking skin against the metal again, doesn’t waver in his hold when another scream pierces his ears nor when the sickening smell of burning skin fills up his senses. He doesn’t care about the impression it leaves on the one completely out of place in the room, the one whose eyes still inhabit innocence.

His mind is fixated on one thing and one thing alone; to get this guy to talk. Whether he has to literally burn his entire hand to ashes to achieve that doesn’t faze him at all.

He has walked down other, more tarnished roads plenty of times before.

 

Finally, a moment comes where the man screams something more coherent, some word Chuuya doesn’t really catch all that well though he finally allows the man’s scorched skin to come loose from the burning metal. He doesn’t release his hold on the other’s now messed up limb however, muscles and nerves now naked to air’s cold bite as blood glistens in the fire’s blaze.

 

“What was that?” Chuuya tries as he cocks his head questioningly.

He gives the other some time to regain control over his wheezing lungs, most likely in overture from the shock of pain rummaging through his system.

 

“I-” He tries to catch his breath, pushes the air from his lungs like they’re the ones that just got burned “I bought it on the black market!”

 

Chuuya responds with silence for a moment, feels the draft of uncertainty coming from all around him as a single eyebrow rises in question, unimpressed.

“You…bought it?”

The man only nods excessively, eyes still shut tight to try and suppress the tears leaking from his eyes, the tremble in his arm escalating in Chuuya’s hold…

 

“Hm, interesting…” A voice then quips next to him, a familiar scent enveloping his lungs again.

Honestly, he’s rather surprised Dazai stayed in the background for this long…

But he's not the same, not the same.

 

“So you’re saying you bought your ability like you just went to get a new kidney or something?” The bastard asks like he’s talking about buying a lollipop at the candy store...

For the sake of professionalism, Chuuya refrains from punching Dazai through the wall.

 

Because he hates how easily the other man just turns up in his life and acts like nothing is sour between them.

Hates how it feels like he’s dragged back into the past, like they’re just on another mission, another mark underneath the name ‘Double Black’.

Hates how he enjoys every second of it and knows that he shouldn’t.

 

Their captive’s trembling eyes then flicker to Dazai’s face at his question, then back to Chuuya’s, as if uncertain about the current situation before he just settles for a nod again.

“Well, go on then, share all the tasty details, won’t you?” Dazai continues as his expression turns as cold as its sinister, that unnerving smirk creeping up his lips while his eyes glaze over with that darkness Chuuya has come to know so well.

 

The man then swallows, clearly intimidated, glances around wildly again like he’s looking for the non-existent possibility to escape the place alive, his breath coming too quick, too fast to be sustainable.

 

And just like that, the guy faints, suddenly falling limp in the arms of the two Mafioso restraining him.

 

“Oops, looks like I overdid it…” Dazai jokes, knowing full well that the man most likely just passed out from the consequence of his system going haywire in the aftermath of shock.

Chuuya just scowls up to him in response, not amused at all.

“You know Chuuya, if maybe you’d just asked the guy nicely, he might’ve told us everything already.”

Dazai just ducks out from underneath the sudden sweep as if he’d predicted it hours beforehand, Chuuya’s leg hitting nothing but air.

“Tch, Chuuya it’s like you’ll never learn~” Dazai quips in pure amusement while Chuuya’s muscles only grow more tense in suppressed annoyance.

“Connard.” Chuuya just bites in response, really isn’t in the mood for Dazai’s rantings about how he supposedly knows each and every one of Chuuya’s moves 'like the back of his hand'. 

 

Meanwhile Atsushi is just standing on the side-lines with Michizou, smiling nervously and rubbing his hand behind his neck like he’s unsure of how to interpret the situation.

For a moment, Chuuya wonders why the hell Dazai even brought him along, except to maybe dribble down a few notes or just to take care of things as a team, but then again…

It might just be for an entirely different reason, a demonstration of yet another thing the Port Mafia is willing to undertake to get what they need.

A demonstration of what Chuuya really is.

 

“Just take him away.” Chuuya utters the command with a sigh, just watches Michizou nod back at him as he quickly takes over the hassle.

He’ll let the interrogation squad deal with the guy later… thinks he won’t be that hard to crack further anyway…

 

“Keep us posted?” Dazai’s cheeky voice drags him out of his thoughts, makes Chuuya realise how tired he actually is as copper lashes blink through the trance.

 

“Just get the hell out of here already…”

The frustration still burning in his blood doesn’t get justified with the sighed farewell.

 

The stretch on Dazai’s lips as Chuuya walks away is there to let him know that he’ll find out everything anyway.

Whether he makes use of Chuuya or not.

 

Atsushi only stutters out a small “T-Thank you for the help, Chuuya-san!” after him like he isn’t a filthy little infiltrator along with the demon beside him, though Chuuya cannot seem to block the tiny flame of gratitude from reaching his heart.

 

In the end, he bids them his typical farewell with that simple, elegant flick of his wrist pointed to Yokohama’s star-blessed sky.

 

And the coming nights, Chuuya already knows his dreams will be tainted with the past again.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

He’s a blank page.

A mystery to be unravelled as countless foreign gazes peer into him like he’s the main course of the evening. 

The long coat draped over his shoulders does not lessen the discomfort growing underneath his skin, and more than once, he has to suppress the urge to cover the blue of his eyes as well as the copper of the curls surrounding them with the hat pressed tightly against his chest...

 

The beautiful girl who had given it to him is now standing amongst the strangers, with all the others analysing him as if he’s a foal bred for the race track, thrown into the pit of inspection. 

Chuuya’s witnessed it before, knows that either it gets bought after which it will be worked down to the core until its last breath.

Or it doesn’t and it’s sent straight to the slaughterhouse.

He’s met it; the heartlessness of mankind, in one form or another, to their own as well as others…

 

So he knows he shouldn't look scared nor nervous, knows he should do his best to try and look confident, resolute.

Dangerous.

But he’s not, hasn’t learned how to be that yet. Wants to learn. Needs to know.

Because if there’s one thing he’s learned from the streets that never sleep, it’s that the Port Mafia doesn’t take in those without worth.

 

He wills himself to look up, to meet the gazes of those deciding on his fate, only to find them staring at one-another instead, their mouths half-whispering in a language Chuuya still only catches glimpses of...

There’s this ringing in his ears, inconsistent yet unyielding, mincing everything into mere fragments of sound.

 

“Kouyou-kun…are you sure what you saw was true?”

“I give you my word, Mori-san, I’m not making this up…”

“Then, can he demonstrate?”

 

Finally, the girl’s kind eyes turn to reserved pale-blue again and Chuuya can see the strings of doubt, of concern weaving through them.

 

“He seems somewhat disoriented, still...and neither do I know if he can control it to that extent…”

 

The man wearing the lab coat frowns at her words and Chuuya doesn’t have to understand to know that it’s a bad sign.

Helpless to his own emotions, his insides sink as the air in his lungs turns to water and burns like fire in his throat.

 

He wants to say something, wants to prove that he’s worth something, would do anything to claim a place.

Because he doesn’t want to go back to that world with scarred memories,

doesn’t want to wander the endless maze in which he can’t find a single road that fits for him,

doesn’t want to suffer in loneliness any longer…

Because he wants to survive.

 

The bones of his knuckles gleam a hot white in their strain as his nails sink into the black-clothed rim beneath them. Conflicted blue eyes glare at nothing in particular as the crease in between them depicts the whirlwind of emotions, the monsoon of thoughts in his head…

Chuuya only realises his lack of composure until a new voice quips in from the side.

 

“He’s got potential.”

 

Widened blue, now cut clean of its underlying storm then flicks to the source of the words. Chuuya can only stare in wonder at the boy he hadn’t even noticed before, just standing there but a little distance away, leaning on a crutch, one of his legs...

Broken.

His hair is an unruly mess, its colour as dark as the eye capturing Chuuya’s attention, a true contrast to the bandage circled around the other…

The intense gaze pointed at him almost makes Chuuya miss the small child lurking behind the other, a silly smile upon its bangs-covered face that just spikes uneasiness.

Though it comes nowhere close to the emptiness he’s staring into.

 

The others in the room appear to be just as surprised as Chuuya, however, at the boy’s words.

“Hm, you think so, Dazai-kun?” The man with the lab coat then says, his question seeping with surprise and curiosity alike as he stares at the boy, though he gets no recognition in return…

The other’s gaze is stuck to Chuuya’s after all, unmoving and unchanging.

 

“Well then…let’s give it a go I guess!” The man then exclaims, his tone suddenly oceans lighter as his lips shift into a strangely cheerful smile.

Chuuya can only stare and blink in wonder at the sudden turn of events.

Can hardly believe it...

 

“I leave him to you then, Kouyou-kun.” The man adds and Chuuya can catch the hidden meaning in his words from the look the man finally sends his way, his smile a façade for the consequences beneath.

Don’t disappoint me it said.

 

But Chuuya has no time to dwell on it as the girl returns to him and shoots him a tiny smile before her rose-coloured lips shift back into a firm line, beckoning him to follow as her hand embraces his shoulder ever so softly.

Though the feeling of safety it offers is only an illusion.

 

As they move to leave the room, Chuuya can’t help but look back over his shoulder only to find the other boy staring right back at him. And it’s at that moment, where noon meets midnight again, that Chuuya catches a glimpse of something in there.

Something akin to sorrow.

 

When the other disappears out of sight, an unquenchable feeling instantly rises within him…

The feeling that this isn’t the last he’s seen of him…

 

No, in fact...

 

It’s a new beginning.

 

...

..

.

 

 

 

Blue awakens slowly, the blur of fatigue fading away only for Chuuya's eyes to meet the bland ceiling of his apartment, the dream dissipating into nothingness.

With a tired sigh, he flings his arm over his eyes as if the little light seeping through the curtains is too bright and painful to face, his thoughts still stuck in memories unwelcome.

 

And Chuuya still doesn’t quite know what happened that moment exactly...

But that doesn't matter either. It’s insignificant, honestly.

Because what Chuuya does know, until this very day…

Is that despite how resilient Kouyou already was at that age, it was thanks to Dazai that he got to stay, that he’d gotten a chance to prove himself…

 

He knows he shouldn’t linger on it, that it isn’t worth this trust, this loyalty he offers towards the other man.

For Dazai, it isn’t like that, probably never was like that to begin with, no matter how many times Chuuya keeps doubting that fact…

Hours, days, weeks and years of red strings thrown into the dirt.

 

To Dazai, every decision is based on logic, on the best possible outcome, on strategy and facts.

To Dazai, Chuuya is just a pawn. An unfair trick. A cheat to use on the chessboard to come out on top.

Dazai doesn’t care about him.

He doesn’t…

 

A sharp sound cuts through the stagnancy of the room, morphs into something more recognizable as his ears start to focus on the doorbell’s chime.

“The fuck…” He mumbles to the ceiling, wonders who exactly would dare to bother him during his little bout of free time, in this place only a handful of people know about.

He throws a glance at the sky through the nape of the curtains, is met with a carpet of ominous cloud covering the heavens as the wind hisses past the window panes like a wolf’s howl.

It’s only the afternoon but it creates the image of nightfall.

 

He groans lazily as he basically hauls himself out of bed, accidentally kicking over an empty bottle of whiskey next to it, watches it roll away until it hits the wall on the opposite side of the room with a hollow clang.

At least it had served its purpose in helping him sleep…

It feels like a tight band is wrapped around his head as he half-stumbles to the front door of his penthouse, heartbeat pounding in his ears while his veins still struggle with the sudden rise of blood being pumped through them.

 

The door goes weightless upon his touch however and Chuuya already has his teeth bared as he slides it open.

Though when pale-blue eyes fall upon the sight before him, the complaints instantly die in his throat...

And it feels like ten cups of coffee have just been infused into his bloodstream.

 

“Ch-Chuuya-san!?”

 

Chuuya has to admit, he didn’t expect the weretiger at his door, neither did he expect his second guest, draped over the other’s shoulder, though the image does make him doubt if he’s not still stuck in a dream…

 

“Atsushi-kun?” He mumbles absent mindedly, though his eyes must be just as wide as the bicolored ones before him.

“D-Dazai-san told me to come here…I didn’t…”

The words hardly process in Chuuya’s mind, blanked out the moment he caught the shimmer of red falling down to the floor, dark and thick. His body moves aside before he knows what he’s doing, before the words his lips set loose click in his brain.

“Get inside.”

Atsushi doesn’t hesitate as he drags Dazai further in, follows Chuuya’s quick pace through the hallway and into the living room.

“Just put him there.” The command is simple, curt and Chuuya is already grabbing together other necessities as Atsushi lowers his colleague down gently onto the large sofa.

 

The process of scanning the wounds is near automatic, far too familiar to ignore, much like the unexplainable anxiety creeping up his skin.

Or perhaps not that unexplainable…

 

Judging from the slight swelling on the right side of his head, Dazai probably got himself knocked unconscious one way or the other. There’s a bruise already forming right underneath the right wing of his ribs where the bandages are nearly torn and a cut that definitely needs stitches on his upper leg…

It’s nothing close to the wounds they inflicted upon each other back when they were still training, were still partners…

Nothing close to the wound Dazai gave him four years ago, pulls it open again and again and again.

 

Still, Chuuya’s body almost caves to the wave of relief flooding his system, as if the ocean next to them just unleashed a tidal wave right in his face.

 

He doesn’t ask Atsushi what happened as he fluently stitches up Dazai’s leg, leaves the rest of the pale skin covered in white cloth as best as he can…

Because Dazai never wanted anyone else to see what was underneath…

 

He’s too tired to care either, is still wondering if he is truly awake while the clouds outside wage their war and a rumble shakes the air.

The predestined deluge doesn’t take long to follow.

 

In the end, as long as Dazai is still sucking oxygen into his lungs, as long as his heart is still pumping his blanched blood through his veins…

As long as he’s alive, Chuuya doesn’t need anything else...

 

Meanwhile, Atsushi is watching him with interest as he sits next to the sofa with his legs tucked underneath him all neatly, almost like he’s an actual cat analysing the scene.

 

“Chuuya-san is actually a kind person, isn’t he?”

 

Chuuya’s fingers freeze still at the unexpected mumble, spoken as if it's pointed at the dormant one amongst them instead.

Atsushi’s face then turns a few shades whiter with the tired, yet intimidating stare Chuuya sends his way in response.

“Eh, I mean, not like that! I just meant-”

“We’re all just human too...” Chuuya just says with a sigh, returns his eyes to the bandages he restarts to whirl around the mended cut.

 

“But don’t kid yourself…I’m nothing close to kind.”

I’ve lost that privilege a long time ago.

 

He’s not sure how to explain. The Port Mafia is made up entirely of humans, at least, Chuuya’s certain they’re all born human at the start.

But perhaps, in the long run…you end up something different.

He’s sure Atsushi understands, after dealing with Akutagawa, after witnessing the cold-bloodedness Chuuya demonstrated just recently, right in front of his eyes...

 

And still…he says something silly like that...

 

“Atsushi-kun…” Chuuya nearly whispers, scarred fingers finishing up their hassle with wrapped skin.

“At the agency…” He’s almost certain he wouldn’t be asking this without the amount of alcohol ransacking his body the previous hours, its remains still spoiling his blood.

 

“Is Dazai…happy?”

 

Taken aback by the unanticipated question, yellow and violet widen for a moment, revealing the emotions and thoughts flashing past Atsushi’s eyes.

Chuuya already regrets ever opening his mouth…

 

Atsushi just presents him a sad smile however before he lays his eyes on Dazai’s unconscious form, his gaze unfocused.

“Dazai is a very…. mysterious person.” He begins, paints Dazai’s twisted personality into something ridiculously simple before he pulls his lips into a thoughtful line.

“I think…he’s still struggling with something…inside.” he then lays his hand on his own chest for just a moment, albeit absent-mindedly.

“But he hides it, hides it really well… but that’s okay because, at times, we can all see his true self…”

 

And Chuuya understands. Understands when Dazai smiles to reflect his true feelings and when he smiles to hide them.

Understanding it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

 

“I don’t know what Dazai-san was like at the Mafia…” Atsushi continues, looks at Chuuya with that flicker of wonder before he smiles again, ever so gently.

“But I do believe that he’s content, most of the time…”

 

Silence then stretches over them for a while, allowing the soft trickle of rain against the glass to move to the forefront, the fierce lapses of the ocean’s waves almost reaching them...

 

Chuuya knows he should be happy with Atsushi’s words, with the confirmation of what he has always feared…

Knows that Dazai is now in a better place, where Mori doesn’t have his claws in him, where he can use his capabilities to help lives instead of mercilessly taking them…

Knows that, despite all the things he’s ever done for Dazai, he was never able to stop the darkness from growing within the other.

Knows that, now, that darkness is being kept at bay…

Chuuya knows all that and still, he can’t accept it as easily as he’d like. Can’t put the conflicting feelings aside as the betrayal still stings, sharper and deeper than any knife, any needle that has ever pierced his skin.

It’s selfish, he knows…

 

“He was the same as he is now…” Chuuya just mumbles, suppresses his thoughts before they consume his entire mind, before he’s pulling out another bottle of liquor from the cellar.

“Just a big, stupid dumbass…”

Just like me.

 

Then he rises, stares at Atsushi with eyes that are supposed to be reserved but he’s pretty sure he’s failing on that account, probably just looks like a mess of flesh and bones that forgot how to be human.

“You can go now…I can promise you he’ll live.” Pale-blue shifts to a cracked open window, to the flutter of wind in the curtains.

“At least, until he’s out the door…”

 

Atsushi nods back at him, understands it’s not exactly an offer but rather a demand an executive of the Port Mafia delivers upon him.

“I’m sure you’re smart enough to shut your mouth about this.”

‘For your sake as well as mine…’ Chuuya’s thoughts add silently before his lips are moving again in the others rise.

 

“You’ll be fine on your own, right?” Chuuya only realises how silly the question is after it has left his mouth, though it’s the odd familiarity, the genuine undertone of his own words that catch him off guard.

“Huh?” Atsushi just blinks at him for a moment in innocent surprise.

“Ah, of course Chuuya-san!" His face then brightens up again, graced with an apologetic smile "Though I'm sorry to burden you..."

Chuuya just returns the smile, though it lacks luminosity as he watches the other depart the room.

 

The click of the front door closing reaches his ears some seconds later, rips through the gentle silence only occupied by whiffs of shallow breath.

 

And Chuuya can only stare at the man in front of him like he’s an illusion that could fade away any moment now…

At the hand that called him forwards, the hand that left him behind.

 

He doesn’t dare to close his eyes, battles his fatigue uselessly even as he settles himself down across the other, comfortable in the arms of his sleek leather couch…

 

But in the end...

The darkness always wins.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Darkness awakens, slips open slowly like a heavy page being turned.

Two irises black as night shift to their left, take in the newly tamed waves of the ocean and the soft rain still dripping against the glass of unfamiliar windows.

The perfect view for writing a novel, perhaps…

 

It’s long past noon, long past any hour, minute or any other fragment of time that was suitable for the things he wanted to make undone.

Sadly, he wasn’t born with the ability to manipulate time, oh no…

Dazai is gifted with something just as precious, Mori would say.

 

He pulls himself upright a little, bites down on his bottom lip from the sudden stab of pain resonating from his right side, though that's not entirely unexpected.

As Dazai lets his eyes roam over the room, he has to say…It’s not exactly how he would’ve predicted Chuuya’s tastes but it’s close enough. There’s an antique phonograph standing nearby on a small table, no doubt cut from mahogany, and all the classic paintings that Chuuya had collected over the years are put up on display across the walls, and well…

There’s bound to be loads of wine stored here somewhere too.

 

Chocolate-coloured eyes fall on one of said wine bottles, empty and dusted over as it stands there on the floor not too far from where his old partner is seated in the couch across from Dazai.

Chuuya is sitting upwards, bent to the side with his forehead buried in his crooked elbow, thick copper curls hanging downwards as his chest moves up and down ever so slowly, under the spell of a seemingly peaceful dream…

 

There’s something strangely satisfying about the image, something so utterly…nostalgic.

 

Then there’s a deep intake of air, a break in the pattern of Chuuya’s lungs and Dazai simply lets himself fall back down again into the comfort of soft cushions, eyes falling closed as if they never woke up in the first place.

 

Silence.

The crumple of leather shifting underneath the pressure of moving muscle.

The tell-tale sigh that lets Dazai know…

He’s not fooling Chuuya.

 

“Why did you tell the weretiger to take you here?” Chuuya starts rather predictably, words obscuring with that marred contempt he never suppresses in the face of his old rival.

 

Dazai doesn’t move a single muscle however, keeps his breathing flawlessly even, gives no sign that he’s even awake at all.

 

“Do you honestly think I won’t take this chance to kill you, Dazai?”

 

Dazai’s lips curl up ever so slowly in sleek satisfaction at Chuuya’s empty threat.

“My, my Chuuya, you still address poor Atsushi-kun that way?” Dazai finally decides to open his mouth, the silence in the room eradicated once more before he sits up again, though a bit more swiftly this time.

“You’ll hurt his feelings, you know.”

 

Dazai can hear the catch of Chuuya’s breath in his throat when those piercing blue eyes meet his own, watches them harden into a glare as the bridge of the other’s nose scrunches up like a mad feline’s.

“Don’t you fucking ignore what I just said, asshole…” Chuuya bites out as he rises from the couch, feet strutting towards Dazai.

But his stride lacks confidence, harbours doubt.

Though a stranger wouldn’t notice…

 

Dazai just pulls a confused face as he tilts his head, a false play of innocence he’s sure Chuuya recognizes anyway.

“Oh? Is Chuuya really going to kill me after patching me up so nicely?”

Chuuya doesn’t offer Dazai a single word in return however, simply lowers himself down and immediately starts to inspect the stitches he'd applied earlier ever so carefully...

“That’s certainly a weird strategy to murder somebody but who am I to talk, right?” Dazai just continues, not bothered with Chuuya’s prodding fingers at all.

They’ve done things beyond licking each other's wounds, after all.

 

“Why did you come here?” Chuuya asks again before he folds open Dazai’s shirt and grimaces at the blackening skin underneath the shredded bandages. He grumbles something along the lines of “Did you get hit by a fucking truck or something?” before taking off into the hallway, the noises of a hand rummaging through cabinets soon following suite.

 

And Dazai knows Chuuya won’t directly ask him what happened because he knows Dazai won’t tell him anyway.

Dazai knows because, Chuuya had already tried many times before, in all the innumerable situations where Dazai had managed to get himself hurt. He had asked him every time in fact, when the cause of those wounds was none other than himself…

“How the fuck did you even manage this?” When Dazai got stuck in some random stock cooler in a restaurant down the street, thinking that dying from hypothermia would be like falling into a peaceful, endless sleep…

and the

“For fucks sake, you bastard, what the hell is your deal!?” When the rope Dazai was trying to hang himself with in their shared hotel room got cut clean in two by his partner’s flying dagger.

or the whispered

“Why…Why do you keep doing this…” When Dazai’s cold blood was pooling from his slit wrists into even colder waters.

Up until the point where Chuuya wouldn’t ask a thing anymore…

 

This time however, it was nothing close to an attempt at leaving this world. The damage done just a necessary sacrifice for the greater good.

But to Chuuya, that probably doesn’t make a difference anymore, by now…

 

“Ah, well I simply decided to finally honour this pathetic escape-haven of yours with my presence!” Dazai exclaims as his old partner re-enters the room, the ticked-off frown covering Chuuya’s face providing nothing but pure entertainment.

“You mean you felt the need to soil it, rather...” Chuuya just mumbles however, sits down at Dazai’s side again as he starts to rub ointment carrying the scent of methyl and arnica into his bruised skin.

Dazai just stares at the motion, can’t help but be momentarily entranced by those lithe fingers treating him so gently, yet are capable of breaking his very bones in a heartbeat.

“S’not like I was going to stay in that shithole of a hide-out we had to share…” Chuuya adds, eyelids drooping slightly.

Dazai only smiles in remembrance, though Chuuya’s eyes are focused on the task at hand.

“Also, don’t tell me your doctor can’t fix simple shit like this?”

Dazai merely scoffs before he gives a small laugh, regrets it the moment Chuuya pushes down a little rougher into his battered skin.

“Of course she can, don’t be so disrespectful Chuuya~” He singsongs though the pressure in the other’s fingers doesn’t let up.

 

He’s certain Chuuya knows all about Yosano due to his extensive report-checking, knows that Dazai can’t exactly be healed by her ability so simply because of his nullification… but she’s still a doctor nonetheless.

“It’s just, Yosano-san can be really scary when she’s bothered for no viable reason…”

 

Chuuya’s fingers then halt in their endeavour, as suspicious blue looks up into Dazai’s smirking hazel, the tired expression on Chuuya’s face depicting that he’s not buying Dazai’s story at all.

 

“And now the real reason that you’re here?”

 

Dazai just smiles sweetly in response to the expected question, enjoys the flicker of a knowing smirk passing by on the other’s lips.

 

“I think you already know that, don’t you Chuuya?”

 

The other just scoffs as he retracts his fingers, pulls Dazai’s shirt back over the pale, unwrapped patch of skin rather roughly before he rises and sternly folds his arms.

“And I’m just going to tell you? You’re even more of a dumbass than I thought.” Chuuya shoots before he falls back onto his couch, crosses his legs comfortably before he cocks his head at Dazai.

“Loosen your tongue, lose your life, remember?”

It’s almost like big sis Kouyou is uttering the words to him again, Dazai thinks.

Though he knows, with Chuuya, there’ll be no need to get all serious, nor ‘naughty’.

He’ll fold for certain.

 

“Arrête tes bêtises, Chuuya~” Dazai starts, lips curled up into the words “It’s not like the Port Mafia and the Agency are exactly enemies any more, right?”

Chuuya just frowns, appears unhappy yet thoughtful with his answer.

“Well, Mori-san is not always very clear on our standings…”

 

Dazai just keeps on smirking as they stare at each other in strained silence, Chuuya’s lips still stuck in that typical scowl of pure annoyance.

And even though Dazai doesn’t carry the scent of ashes on him any longer, he knows that Chuuya must be aching for a cigarette right now, knows all about his little visits to that place in the forest where goes to lean up against his ride all nonchalantly, smoke deep in his lungs as the sunset illuminates the view like Versailles at night.

The place they both went to blow off some steam.

 

And in those moments, where they’d crack one silly joke after the other as they passed the bottles and smokes alike, life was so very, very simple…

But it’s no use mourning over it...

 

Chuuya then lets out a troubled sigh that pulls Dazai from the haze of memories revisited, suddenly rises from his seat again before simply stalking off into the hallway once more while he mutters more incredulities under his breath.

Chuuya’s worried about the matter, Dazai can tell, it’s why the other is going to him the information so freely, after all. Because he knows Dazai can be of use in the situation.

It’s simply the smarter thing to do.

 

Chuuya soon shuffles back into the living room, his tired eyes focused on the papers no doubt holding the interrogation’s results in his hands as he comes to a stop in a sudden streak of sunlight breaking through the carpet of clouds.

The way it seems to set aflame every inch of orange it touches, how it brings out the deepest of blues in those sky-blown eyes simply reminds Dazai of how strangely unique Chuuya really is…how much he truly stands out in this world roamed by so many others…

A flower in a field of weeds.

 

“Apparently, this group doesn’t really have a name…” Chuuya then starts, completely oblivious to Dazai’s piercing gaze.

“Once a month, they anonymously put out a bidding list of the ‘available’ abilities on the internet. The person who wins then gets invited to a certain location…which, for our little hacker-buddy turned out to be just some shady alley in the center of Fujisawa…”

Chuuya then throws him some picture in the next instant, which Dazai catches just as smoothly.

On it, there’s the non-peculiar looking alley Chuuya just mentioned but there was definitely something interesting there.

The number 49, streaked in white upon a bland cement wall.

“We’re now in the process of scouting and monitoring other places with the same number displayed on the walls…” Chuuya continues, confident that Dazai has already caught the detail “But we haven’t found any suspicious activity yet…even though they most likely do their ‘thing’ during the night…”

 

“Interesting…” Dazai mumbles, eyes glazed over in thought.

It is a tiny yet very smart thing to utilize, the number ‘49’ that is, for it still holds a bad reputation when it comes to the superstitious folk of Japan. Reading it out loud sounds almost identical to the phrase “To suffer until death” after all…

It’s only natural to avoid places marked with it, especially at night, thus keeping the common people out so they can do their business undisturbed…

 

“In any case, there he had to pay up, sign a contract to secrecy and a confirmation that he’ll never be a target by them…” Chuuya then throws a glance at Dazai “Before he got injected with some narcotic…and woke up in the same place 12 hours later with the ability he’d bought…”

 

Dazai hums thoughtfully to Chuuya as the other sums everything up like he’s reporting to him. It’s not the same as in the old days, however, because back then Chuuya didn’t make it a point to stand two feet away from Dazai like he was afraid of something.

And it’s odd because, after being apart for four years, Chuuya didn’t mind getting in Dazai’s face to express his distrust when he was ‘captured’ by Akutagawa.

And it’s silly because, when they went to retrieve Q, Chuuya wasn’t keen on their temporary alliance but he didn’t shy away from Dazai either, didn’t even mind their physical contact to secure his kills.

And again, it’s just suspicious because, ten minutes ago, Chuuya was practically in his lap, taking care of Dazai’s injuries like it was no big deal at all.

Yet now, Chuuya has this play of resignation going on.

Dazai doesn’t like it.

Doesn’t like the change he’s seeing.

 

“Which, of course, means we don’t know shit about how exactly the ability became his…” Chuuya just continues with a sigh that speaks frustration and fatigue, speaks defeat before he throws Dazai another slab of paper.

“Or how the fuck they are ‘stealing’ abilities in the first place…”

 

Dazai just gives an impressed whistle as his eyes skim over the price their captive paid for his ability.

 

“What about their faces, outfits, anything useful?” Dazai asks, lets his eyes roam over the minor details stated in the interrogation report. Chuuya just gives a shrug.

“They were wearing blank masks…he thinks there was one woman with them, he’s not sure about the others…”

“I’m guessing that narcotic had some extra effects…” Dazai mumbles in reply and Chuuya only nods as he lays down the remaining papers on the couch next to him before he leans on it himself, arm outstretch as he frowns down at the floor.

 

He honestly looks like he could fall over any moment now...

 

“Really Chuuya, you should probably get some more sleep before you turn into an actual zombie.” Dazai quips, lips smiling as teasingly as the shine in his eyes.

Pale-blue turns towards him, narrows as Chuuya’s lips come together in something like a pout as he watches Dazai rise up from the sofa.

“Ugh, just shut it…don’t you have enough information by now?” Chuuya exclaims, the twitch on his forehead throbbing in annoyance.

“Why don’t you take your sorry ass outside already?”

The curl on Dazai’s lips only grows by the irritation in Chuuya’s voice however, and he can only relish in the grimace that follows on the other's face as he proceeds to stretch out his back, and overly dramatic sigh of relief cutting loose from his throat.

 

Though there’s a sudden, unexpected shift in the mellow atmosphere only a second later,

when the hand Chuuya’s using to support himself on the couch suddenly flies to his forehead instead,

when he’s hissing curses at, most likely, the stab of a headache crawling up his skin,

when he walks, or rather, tries to walk away nonchalantly towards the hallway again…

 

Dazai can see his balance caving before Chuuya probably even feels it himself.

 

He’s at his old partner’s side in an instant, Chuuya’s breath catching short in his throat the moment Dazai grabs hold of him, one hand placed on his chest while the other is circled around his arm to help Chuuya retain his meagre posture.

Underneath Dazai’s touch, it’s near impossible to overlook the tension building up beneath the layers of both cloth and skin.

It’s a perfectly human reaction of course, a purely instinctive response to his sudden proximity.

But as the seconds tick by, the straining underneath his fingers doesn't let up and Chuuya’s lungs are still holding in whatever little air they’d collected, as if bracing for whatever is next to come...

 

Chuuya is uncertain of the situation, that much is clear, and perhaps this is what he has been fearing all along.

For right now, in this place, in this moment; There is nothing but them.

Just Dazai. Chuuya. And all the bad blood in between them, still left undried upon the floor...

 

Yet Dazai can’t help but wonder, as his own veins are filled anew in stirred excitement, if Chuuya would give in to him.

If he would submit to Dazai like he did back in those days dressed in darkness.

It’s selfish, he knows…

 

“Are you sure you want me to leave already, Chuuya?” Dazai then breathes into the other’s ear, the shudder it elicits within the other not unfelt as his lips nearly caress the soft skin beneath them.

He knows just how sensitive it is, how easily it bruises…

 

“Don’t.”

 

Both his mind and body go full-stop at Chuuya's voice nearly breaking on the word meant to be a warning, reduced to a plead.

And then Dazai notices just how uncontrolled Chuuya’s breathing really is, how he’s trying to suppress the tiny shivers underneath Dazai’s touch.

 

“Just go.

 

It’s a near whisper, coated in sand, as if it hurts to push the words past his throat. As if it hurts to breathe.

It’s infectious.

 

And Dazai does as he’s told,

slowly retracts his hands from skin like stone as he avoids the sky-filled eyes he wears on his heart and simply moves passed the other.

Tries to convince himself he’d seen this coming from the start.

 

He utters but a single sentence from flat lined lips before he closes the door behind him and embarks upon the blank streets of Yokohama once again.

 

 

“Do watch your back, Chuuya…”

 

 

And Dazai already knows the uncomfortable pressure stuck behind his ribs isn't going to fade away as quickly as he'd like...

But he doesn't acknowledge its existence anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

‘A cloudy sky, dark golden light plays off now as it always was, so high I can’t help looking down.

I tell you that I live resigned to ennui, drawing from my cigarette three different tastes.

Death may no longer be so far away...’

 

 

Words, phrases, poems scribbled upon paper.

Chuuya has stared at them for a long time now, still does, even though he knows them all by heart…

He doesn’t know where the book came from. He doesn’t know who wrote down all those words, soaked in defiance of rules and order, in misery and wonder alike…

But it’s the only thing he had to comfort him during those lonely days and nights when he was still lost in a world so big and unbright…

It’s the only key he has to his past. To who he is.

 

Sometimes he catches glimpses. In the people he meets, in mere images and paintings, in the eyes of a chestnut frolicking amongst the flock, in near-lucid dreams…

And yet there’s still so much left unveiled.

 

He sighs, turns his head to stare at the glass of whiskey that’s since long gone empty since he’s been too lazy to get more, maybe just as well…

Because next thing he knows, his partner is suddenly standing before him, staring at him with an unsettling seriousness to which Chuuya simply leans back into the couch, questioning frown upon his face as he glances up to the other from the inked pages beneath.

“What do you want, bastard?”

Dazai just smiles at the typical remark.

“Chuuya…what happened to your face?” He just asks casually and that’s when Chuuya remembers the light swelling in his split bottom lip, the vague pain now felt anew due to his shifted focus.

“What do you care? Your face is messed up all the time.” He just shrugs, vibrant blues returning to their previous business.

When Dazai doesn’t let up his protruding stare however, Chuuya can only sigh in surrender as he meets the other's gaze once more.

“There were six of them, alright?” He begins, the brawl a memory somewhat unclear in his head, probably because he was still intoxicated beyond belief at that point…

“And they were making a mess of the poker table, before you start berating me.”

“Really?” Dazai just mumbles in return and Chuuya honestly doesn’t know where he’s going with it at all, suspects that Dazai must’ve gone to his friends at that odd little bar downtown again, Lupin or something, and might’ve just had a tad too much to drink.

Not that he’s one to talk…

 

“Well, I’m going to bed!” Dazai then exclaims rather unexpectedly, though when he cheerfully heads towards the wrong room the next instant, Chuuya can’t help but roll his eyes at the childish display.

‘Not this again…’

Dazai!” He exclaims in a near screech as he rolls off of the couch, quickly placing his book carefully on the coffee table before hurriedly striding off after his partner.

“Get out of my-

Of course, Dazai is already face down on his blankets when Chuuya enters the room.

bed…”

 

He sighs again, this time out of pure fatigue, because he honestly just wants to punch the loser currently muffling words Chuuya has no way of understanding right into his brand-new sheets…

“You know I can’t hear you, you dumbass.” He says instead, crosses his arms as he goes to lean back against the wall and waits for Dazai to retort.

To his surprise, the latter actually gets up from his bed already, though Chuuya’s relief gets stuck in his throat when Dazai immediately stalks towards him, eyes him like he’s prey.

 

“I was saying, Chuuya…” He starts, dark eye falling to Chuuya’s bottom lip again “That according to some people, it appears I’ve done a lot of dangerous things today…”

 

Chuuya is rather amazed at how calm he’s keeping his own expression underneath Dazai’s unyielding gaze, the aroma of whiskey clear underneath his breath.

He’s too close.

 

“Though I think, I’m not quite finished…”

 

Out of pure reflex, Chuuya’s hand shoots up to grab Dazai’s wrist as long, lithe fingers circle around his jaws, grip tentative yet gentle.

Disarming.

 

And then time seems to stand still, frozen as Dazai slides his thumb over Chuuya’s bruised lip, softly, retained…

A thousand tiny needles run down his skin.

The dark eye keeping a hold of his own never loosens in its grip as Dazai simply parts his lips and Chuuya swears that the other’s just going to spill out another taunt, another tease to rekindle that flame of indignation.

But Dazai doesn’t speak a single word, instead decides to strike Chuuya’s mind blank as he flicks out his tongue to shamelessly lick at his partner’s wounded lip, too slow, too careful.

Blue goes wide like oceans while lungs drown in them.

The act is far more intimate then it should be, should feel.

But Chuuya can’t fight the shiver that crawls straight down to the hollowness of his bones, can’t fight the electricity coiling in the air around them, sparking like a tantrum.

Can’t fight Dazai’s scent enveloping his senses.

And there’s something possessive lurking underneath Dazai’s gaze as he continues to lap at the bruised, sensitive skin like he’s nurturing it.

It’s unsettling in the least, yet Chuuya doesn’t push him away, only tightens the curl of his fingers around Dazai’s wrist without a single thought put behind the motion.

He’s falling and he knows it.

 

Warm fingers guide his face sideways far too gently as Dazai finally pulls away from his lips and the next thing Chuuya’s able to process is the hot breath on his neck, sending another tide of shudders down his spine.

Soft lips start caressing the stretch of skin unbidden as Dazai’s body is pressing him further into the wall, keeping him in place. Chuuya soon realises why as a fierce hiss passes from between his lips, an irrepressible response to the sharp teeth sinking into him so mercilessly.

And then Chuuya’s hardly aware of how much control he’s lacking over his own body,

how it starts to convulse automatically to Dazai’s touch, spellbinding him,

how the temperature in the room seems to have risen tenfold as if he’s being forged anew in flames,

how his heart is beating fight-or-flight into every single vessel that runs beneath his skin,

how his lungs just can’t seem to find a rhythm, constantly tormented by the stab of pain and enticement alike...

He both hates and loves every second of it.

 

“D-Dazai…” He’s finally able to pant from between his hissing lips in response to Dazai snapping down on his skin like he’s stuck in a trance, like he’s trying to rip through it and draw blood instead of pleasure.

And the moment Chuuya reflexively sets his nails deep into the bandaged skin around them, Dazai flings backwards as if he just got a slap in the face, his breath falling heavy, eyes unfocused.

Chuuya however, is in not much of a better state, instantly clasps his hand over the crook of his neck where fresh marks now taint his skin.

Blue eyes, still as wide as the one before him, take in the other’s raw state of disarray, take in the swell of his lips, the colour shining through his skin, the dew clinging to it…

He’s lost in awe. In the wings fluttering against his insides.

The moment passes as quickly as it came before Dazai catches his breath again, simply turns and leaves the room with a pace unrushed yet uncharacteristically stiff…

 

And another eternity later, Chuuya finally learns how to breathe again.

 

...

 

..

 

.

 

 

‘Get out, get out, get out…’

 

His head is a mess, inside and outside, from the pounding pulse in his ears to the provoked memories consuming his mind.

Memories revolving around but one man, always that one man

 

‘Get out of my head…’

 

Chuuya knows he looks tired, is tired, can’t help it after only sleeping for something like 2 hours this afternoon. He went to his ocean-side apartment in hopes of being at peace for just one moment, one fucking moment  in this week filled to the brim with hellfire.

He could’ve just stayed at headquarters…could’ve just had a nice drink in the bar instead, could’ve struck up a nice conversation with Kouyou, Michizou or even Akutagawa for that matter.

Could have not encountered Dazai at his front door, could’ve not treated his wounds, could’ve not…could’ve…

As if he even had a choice…

 

His face is a mask, built from years and years of living in this place the damned call home, where the night is their eternal playground…

The place Chuuya both adores and despises at the same time.

It leaves him behind…

 

And Chuuya never fully understood why Dazai had left them four years ago, he still doesn’t…

But knowing his partner back then, it couldn’t have been over just any simple matter.

And later, when curiosity was starting to swallow him whole, Chuuya had scraped together all the reports, or whatever was left of them anyway, of the period preceding Dazai’s betrayal…

He’d read all about Mimic, about the revelation of Ango's status as a double agent, about Oda Sakunosuke...

About his death...

 

Chuuya never knew the man personally, just vaguely recalled his position within the Port Mafia and that Dazai met up with him in that downtown bar every now and then… a habit that had lasted for years.

And Oda Sakunosuke must’ve been a very extraordinary man, Chuuya thinks.

To have affected Dazai in such a way…

Something he had failed in.

 

Thinking about it all just turns him more bitter, however. Makes his insides lurch up only to crumble like an anthill in hard rain the moment Dazai enters his mind again.

Because even now, after so much time…to be so affected by the other’s proximity, by a simple touch on his skin, by some silly words whispered into his ear…

Pathetic.

 

The moment he steps into headquarters, a sudden call from his left has his head turning in surprise, the flashbacks from last night finally pushed further into the back of his mind.

Where they belong.

He meets nothing but an empty space however, though when he lets his eyes sink to the floor, he soon encounters the source of the high-pitched sound...

“What the fuck…” He only mutters as this silly-looking calico cat is just sitting there, staring at him with slit, relaxed pupils.

‘I didn’t know we kept a cat here…’

“W-what do you want?” He just asks as the cat keeps peering up at him, tail wiggling through the air before another mewl echoes through the large entrance hall.

“Tch, do I look like I have any food on me?” He answers, hands on his hips as he narrows his eyes, suspecting the thing’s just hungry or something.

 

“Chuuya-san!”

Chuuya once again turns his head, this time to see Michizou running towards him, worry floundering all over his stern expression.

“We might have a problem…”

Chuuya just nods at him before immediately turning to follow Michizou to Black Lizard’s quarters.

Though when he glances over his shoulder just once to look back at the strange feline from before, it’s nowhere to be seen…

‘Maybe I should give it that crab meat I still have stocked next time…’

 

The moment Chuuya enters their respective floor, Higuchi comes before him, head bowed down in respect though he catches an uneasy tremble in her posture.

“It’s Akutagawa-senpai…” She starts, sorrow tainting her words as she bites her lower lip, as if to hide disappointment, perhaps even shame.

“He was monitoring one of the areas…he still hasn’t come back, I went to check but he’s not there either, I-“

She takes a deep breath, like the oxygen filling her lungs is the only thing that keeps her upright.

“My sister was running a fever this morning, so I had to take her to the doctor’s…but…I shouldn’t have left him on his own…It’s my fault, I-

Her lips freeze the moment Chuuya raises a flat hand, shaking brown eyes flying up to his own steady ones in surprise.

“Calm down, Higuchi…” He tells her as stern as he’s gentle, watches her blink and fight against whatever fears are gripping her heart.

“Akutagawa told you to leave it to him, didn’t he?” He then asks, already knowing the answer.

Higuchi just nods before casting her eyes downwards again in unmasked guilt and then Gin steps forwards from the shadows, puts her hand on her companion’s shoulder in comfort, almost as if she doesn’t need it herself.

“We did find his phone…” Michizou remarks, presenting Chuuya with a mess of plastic scraps and cracked buttons…

 

A sinking feeling hits him in the stomach as a frown works its way upon his face, though that’s about all he lets show.

 

“Is Hirotsu present?” Chuuya asks next as he moves to the large map of Yokohama against the wall, eyes searching for the marked spot Akutagawa disappeared in as his brain is already wrecking itself with possible scenarios.

“He and Kouyou-san are on a mission in Nagasaki, they’re probably still absent for two days…”

Chuuya flinches at Michizou’s words, narrows his eyes in concentration before he turns around again to face the others.

He can only sigh at how troublesome the entire situation is…but then again, Chuuya already knows the next step, knows how to respond.

 

“All of you… prepare your squads to move out...”

Higuchi’s eyes light up immediately to Chuuya’s words, as if the order is a gift he bestows upon her. Michizou and Gin only nod back at him, confidence and devotion gleaming in their gazes as they turn to their respective equipment.

Chuuya plans to do the same, but there was still one part to complete before setting everything in motion…

 

“I’m going to see the boss.”

 

And as he allows the glass-cased elevator to haul him up to the top floor, Chuuya can't help but look out over the majestic view of the city below. Though his eyes aren’t exactly taking in the beautiful image before them…

They’re stuck on images much less desirable...

 

Even as Chuuya threads through the dimly lit hallways and nears the giant red doors entering his sight, he just can’t shake the worry…the feeling that something bad is coming his way.

If it hasn’t, already.

 

The guards just nod at him in recognition before they open the doors, allowing Chuuya access to the most secured room in all of the Port Mafia’s properties…

Though that’s hardly necessary, with someone like their boss… and Chuuya already wonders what kind of odd scenario he’ll walk in on this time…

 

To his relief, Mori is just sitting by his luminous wall of glass, enjoying a cup of tea while candles flicker brightly by his side. And of course Elise felt the need to cover the entire floor with chalk again...

As Chuuya passes her by, he can’t help but cringe slightly at the white outlines of one of her creations, supposedly presenting himself and Dazai, holding hands and smiling like idiots…

He decides to ignore it.

 

“Chuuya-kun, what brings you here at this late hour?” Mori inquires curiously as he turns his head, smile gleaming on his face like a ruler overlooking his kingdom.  

“My apologies boss, but it looks like Akutagawa may have been…. compromised during his current mission.”

“Akutagawa-kun?” Mori repeats, red-stained eyes blinking lightly for a moment before he places his cup on the little, picturesque table beside him. 

“I guess these people are more capable then we thought…”

Chuuya nods in agreement.  It’s not like Akutagawa is easily subdued, in fact, it’s because of his ambition to defeat any and all challengers upon his path that he’s grown so strong, so powerful…

But now, it looks like he’s met his match.

And he doubts that Atsushi is involved, this time around…

 

“What should we do, boss?” Chuuya then asks out of pure courtesy.

For he already knows the verdict, long before he even entered this room.

 

“Ah, you already know how it goes, don't you Chuuya-kun?”

He then speaks, with a smile as bright as it is dark "Show them what happens to those who dare to mess with us."

All who oppose us must die.

 

It’s the typical mantra of the Port Mafia, one Mori likes to apply wherever it is justified to, even if it’s partly just for show.

 

But Chuuya is no fool.

He knows full well what Mori is capable of.

Part of him might even resent him for it…just like part of him is oh so aware that he’s actually living in a giant cage, the bars bowing over his head as invisible as the key to open them…

So close-by, almost too easy to take…

 

But he owes his life, owes nearly everything he’s acquired throughout the years to this place, to these people, to this man…

How could he ever repay such a thing?

 

No,

Chuuya would never betray them like Dazai had. Finds the very thought of it absurd. Repulsive.

And yet, he could never betray Dazai either…

 

“As you command, boss.” He answers with confidence before taking a light bow in respect as Mori dismisses him. When he passes by Elise again, she smiles up at him in pure mischief.

‘That’ll be no more hide and seek for at least a week…’ His thoughts grumble as he narrows his eyes at her in a play of false intimidation.

 

“Oh and Chuuya-kun…” Mori then utters lightly, right as Chuuya’s fingers are wrapped around the door’s handle, a strange kind of premonition tingeing his voice.

 

“Do say hello to Dazai-kun for me next time.”

 

For a moment, Chuuya stays completely still, the lightly spoken words paralyzing him to his core.

And as he suppresses the tremble born of dread from rippling through his muscles, suppresses his lips from parting to spill fruitless denial at Mori’s words, Chuuya just nods to the double doors bearing down on him instead.

“Of course, boss.”

Despite his calm reply, he’s certain that the bewilderment is oozing through the blue of his eyes, is written on his face like it’s an open book.

Chain mail. A seamed-up guise.

 

And after the silence, after the black wave of nauseating vanity has dissipates down the drain, Chuuya turns the handle and walks out as if nothing had been mentioned at all…

 

And even as he’s dividing Black Lizard’s squads over the remaining locations marked by the cursed number that is '49', Mori’s light words coated with that dangerous vibe of wariness, of warning are still echoing through his head.

 

So Chuuya hopes the bad feeling growing in his gut is just his fatigue tugging at his heart, is just because of the simplicity of intimidation.

 

Because now, there’s no going back.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The cold drops of water attack his pale face, again and again and again.

As if they could wash away the darkness tingeing the blue of his eyes, as if they could stop those time-bombs from ticking away behind closed, fiery lashes…

 

It’s no use, Chuuya knows, yet he splashes it onto his tired skin anyway if only to clear his head for a moment, to regain some focus.

 

They need to find Akutagawa, need to find him soon.

He doesn’t want to think about the consequences of being too late…

 

The moment pulls open the door of his car again, his phone vibrates in his pocket, instantly kicking the adrenaline into his bloodstream even before he observes the distress signal, coming from none other than Akutagawa’s very own sister.

Immediately activating his earpiece, Chuuya tries to contact Gin to no avail. There’s zero response from the other side, indicating that she’s either in high-risk stealth or already had to engage in combat…

No matter the reason, Chuuya is certain he’s about to break many traffic laws today as he completely floors his gas pedal, the roar of his old engine echoing throughout the entire street while he speeds off into the deep of night.

He practically shoves it somewhere to the side two blocks from the signal, continues on foot as fast yet stealthily as he can muster, his feet like feathers upon the concrete alleyway floors and its surrounding rooftops.

 

He freezes at the sudden cat-cry ringing out behind him, carried by the night’s breeze. Chuuya’s head once again whips around to meet the familiar feline from before…

This time however, it’s not just sitting there all calm and benevolent, instead appears to be distressed, pupils blown full-circle as it cries at him again defiantly.

Like it’s a warning.  

 

“Tch.” Chuuya only flinches, his system still overridden by the fervor of oncoming danger.

“I really don’t have time for you right now…” he mumbles out, eyebrows creased down in confusion before he turns and continues to his destination, not a shred of doubt in his pace.

The cat calls after him once more however, and for a moment, in the depths of its echo, Chuuya thinks he catches an actual voice in there…

But he has no time to linger on it, no time to perceive the omen as he now stands at the place Gin’s signal originated from, peering down on the scene from above.

 

He’s not quite prepared for the sight he meets...

 

“Let’s finish this up already, take him out!” A woman’s voice calls out, the shadow of her finger cast upon the wall, pointed at the unexpected appearance of the weretiger crouching down on the floor.

With lungs heaving and clothes marred by various blood-slicked cuts, Nakajima Atsushi looks as if he’s just been through Hell and back…

Behind him, Gin appears to be unconscious in the arms of Tanizaki Junichirou, whose expression is downright livid, making even Chuuya feel a bit uneasy.

 

And truth be told, he didn’t expect to encounter the duo again so soon, and under such circumstances…

Meanwhile, the cursed number glows against the wall in dreadful premonition.

 

Chuuya might not know why exactly the detective agency is here or why the hell Atsushi isn’t shifted into his more powerful form but he doesn’t even hesitate to draw his blade, instantly flings it down straight into the projectile suddenly flying at those wide, chimeric eyes.

The dart is pinned to the floor in shambles right as Chuuya decides to make his entrance, leaps down ever so gracefully from the roof’s ledge. He allows a smirk to creep over his face in the next instant as he watches strangers’ eyes widen behind blank paper masks.

“Ch-Chuuya-san…” Atsushi then utters in surprise from behind him, remaining still while Chuuya stands in front of him like a wall.

 

Wasting no time to scan over the situation, Chuuya counts four potential threats, immediately takes note of the big guy who’s perhaps aspiring to become a freaking mountain someday, his right arm thickly wrapped in bandages…

‘Interesting…’ his mind quips before blue shifts to the next target.

There’s the woman whom must’ve shouted the command before, posture all calm and composed as she stands right in front of the back of a large truck that seems to be completely blocking the exit to the alleyway…

There’s another, slim-postured man standing next to her, his odd glasses sticking out slightly from underneath his mask. Though Chuuya is more interested in the dart gun he’s still aiming at them rather eagerly, like it'll be of any help...

And then there’s this one, completely mask-less guy just frozen up against the alley wall next to them, eyes wide like a rabbit in headlights.

Chuuya suspects he might just be their ‘customer of the day’…

 

“This has gone on long enough.” Chuuya then decides to take the first word, making his intentions clear as day as he points a menacing finger to his enemies in mockery.

“You scum have a lot of guts, coming on our turf, stealing abilities…” Pale-blue eyes narrow in a glare as Chuuya’s lips speak with the promise of death.

“But messing with the Mafia itself was the last mistake you’ll ever make...”

 

The woman only laughs heartily into the palm of her hand as the guy next to her finally lowers the gun and just eyes Chuuya warily.

 

“It’s amazing how people just flock to us despite our vigilance… The more the merrier, they say?” She then responds in amusement, smirk clear in her gaze.

“In any case, do feel free to come and visit your friend…” She continues, gesturing to the truck behind her “We can even give a free ride if you’d like.”

Chuuya’s trademark smirk creeps up all the way to his ears at her words, can’t resist barking a laugh at her sad excuse for a taunt.

“Why, such generosity…” The words run off his tongue smooth as silk, though Chuuya’s honestly not liking this aura of superiority flooding the air at all.

 

“Though I think I've got a better proposal!”

Violence is his only offer.

 

It’s the only warning they get before Chuuya’s off into their faces, is closing the distance between them in less than a second while his fist zooms in on their widening eyes.

“Malruk!”

The moment the woman shouts the foreign word, a wall of earth suddenly erupts between Chuuya and his targets, simply shoots out of the floor right before his very feet.

His fist punches through the tough mix of dirt and stone nonetheless, sends a chunk of it flying right towards them. Surprised as they appear, his opponents are agile enough to evade the artificial comet, the truck behind them forced to take the blow instead. The heavy impact rattles through the ground as it echoes throughout the still night air, tires screeching against the stone beneath them as the large vehicle is shifted forwards by the force of the collision.

 

Their ‘customer’ takes the shining opportunity to high-tail it out of there, running away screaming like quite the madman.

 

The scene hardly clicks in Chuuya’s mind however as he jumps backwards to assess the situation and observes how the big guy, apparently called ‘Malruk’ retracts his fist from the floor underneath him like he just punched through butter instead of stone...

As if he just transmitted the power from one place to another…

 

The other confirms Chuuya’s meagre assumption as he once again slams his large fist into the concrete floor underneath him, only to have it move next to Chuuya’s head instead.

He smoothly ducks underneath the stab of earth shooting out from the wall all the while halting another dart aimed for his legs by the bastard with the dart gun. Chuuya just flings it right back at him, only for the guy to quickly dodge it in surprise, the thing only scathing passed his mask.

 

‘Fighting gravity isn’t that easy, you fuckers…’ His thoughts exclaim in amusement.

 

He hardly gets time to recover before the Earth around him shifts again underneath another heavy strike, though this time the ripple of power passes through underneath his feet.

It doesn’t stop.

Realizing the enemy’s play, his coat is left hovering in the air this time as Chuuya lifts off like a bullet, grabs the three sitting ducks behind him by their collars and pulls them out of the way before they’re hit by the concrete pillar shooting up from underneath.

Atsushi’s wide eyes seem lost for a moment as Chuuya half-throws him to the floor, probably wondering why he suddenly seemed to have the weight of a cat’s hair.

 

“Get the hell out of here, report to the others what we’re dealing with.” He commands sternly, adjusts his hat back in place as he spins towards the battleground again without waiting for an answer, adamant to keep the distance between friend and foe.

He completely misses the warning shouted after him…

 

As soon as Chuuya rounds the corner again, he’s met with a fist of stone aimed directly at his face. A simple dodge to the left is all Chuuya has to undertake before he’s running up against the left sidewall and comes to a stand-still, defying gravity as his enemies’ eyes gaze up at him in wonder.

“How impressive… What kind of ability is this, Zero?” The woman then speaks in awe as she holds Chuuya’s gaze, though it’s hardly the kind of admiration he prefers. He can almost see the yen counter running up in her eyes, after all.

It’s nauseating.

 

“Gravity-manipulation. First kind we’ve encountered.” Chuuya’s eyes then narrow in on the man with the glasses, his eyes glazed over with a green haze, reading his own as if words are passing through the blue of his eyes.

‘An analysing ability…how convenient…’ His mind concludes almost instantly as it starts to piece together the puzzle before him.

“We’re having such good catches these days… It’s unbelievable. Eins will be pleased…” The woman then smirks in response, as if Chuuya’s some rabbit targeted by the hunt.

 

He will make them see it is the other way around.

 

Without any further delay, Chuuya lets himself fall down with the weight of a thousand suns, the dust rising up from the crater he creates enveloping the place in a thick mist.

His blade, previously still pinned to the ground, is sent flying through it just a heartbeat later, the swipe across skin and cloth audible even through the irritated coughs of his enemies.

Chuuya then watches the cut bandages fall down from Malruk’s broad arm, revealing the still fresh wounds underneath that only Rashomon would be capable of making.

Just as he suspected…

He knows it should be worrying, that Akutagawa wasn’t able to win against these people with his clear advantage...

But as the bloodlust is peaking high within his fingertips, his targets tattooed between his eyes, there is no time for assessing such thoughts.

 

So Chuuya just continues to challenge the unknown, keeps up his deadly dance around the shifting tides around him, creeps ever closer to the enemy as the alleyway is being turned into a jungle of dirt and stone underneath Malruk’s seemingly everlasting strength.

He’s itching to make his own move, though there’s no continuity in the Earth underneath him, wretched apart by the other’s meddlesome ability.

There’s no time, no moment to connect and manipulate the current of gravity around his foes.

 

Finally seeing an opening, Chuuya launches himself between the mess of dust and gravel at Malruk’s form, his foot outstretched to deliver a menacing kick straight into the other’s abdomen.

Though the moment his foot makes contact with the thick skin, Chuuya instantly feels that something is different.

Wrong.

 

His enemy is sent plummeting to the ground anyhow, a fair amount of blood spewing from his mouth as he hits the floor and glides across the already scarred concrete.

The problem is that he should’ve been flying straight into his two ‘colleagues’, maybe even all the way into the truck with how Chuuya had manipulated his weight, with how much momentum he had put into the impact…

Flinching in annoyance, Chuuya then turns his hard eyes to the sting on his shoulder that’s nabbing for his attention. Blue widens in surprise as he catches the slight trickle of his own blood trickling down over his sleeve.

Something must’ve scraped him before…

But what?

 

Gaze now unfocused in his confusion, he stares down at his gloved hands, stained white from the touch of crumbled stone, a sudden feeling of dread hitting him in the stomach as he’s aware of the heaviness of own weight stuck to the ground beneath, unalterable…

 

‘Focus…’ His mind urges as Chuuya processes the Earth shaking beneath his feet again, tremors nearing him beat by beat.

Closer and closer…

And this time, when Chuuya looks up, he’s met directly with an actual fist sweeping towards him from the darkness.

 

He dodges it nonetheless, only barely however before he’s dancing between the artificial pillars around him again though not quite in the way Chuuya usually would.

Nothing he touches responds. His own body isn’t even listening to the call of his ability...

 

‘This is bad.’

 

Even as he lands blow after blow upon his enemy’s large frame, Chuuya now regrets not having a second knife on him. His kicks and punches are enough to make Malruk stagger, but not enough to make him cave. He swears this guy’s the biggest fucking punching bag he’s ever laid his hands on.

And despite being ten times as agile, at this rate, Chuuya knows it’s bound to go wrong as he’s being forced to move backwards in the onslaught, is soon pushed into a corner, trapped like the prey they eyed him for.

But the Earth around him doesn’t rise up with his anger no more.

 

The sharp ring of a knife swirling by then pierces the air and Chuuya’s eyes go as wide as the moon to Malruk’s sudden outcry before him, his large hand gripping at his now bloodied face.

Chuuya immediately takes his chance to roll in between the brute’s legs and out of the makeshift prison, only to be surprised by the small hand grabbing his own just a second later.

“A-Atsushi!” Chuuya then exclaims in honest surprise, allows himself to be pulled away by the other in the cradle of bewilderment.

“Let’s go, Chuuya-san!”

 

The brat had come back for him.

The fool.

 

“Don’t let them escape!”

The urgency of the situation dawns upon him again soon enough when another wall is literally punched up from the earth before them, climbing far too high to simply leap over…

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.” Chuuya curses shamelessly as he and Atsushi turn around again, only to meet the gleaming eye of Zero’s gun.

Without thinking, Chuuya pushes Atsushi aside as the dart’s needle delves into his own skin instead.

The foreign feeling it brings burns so much more than the sting itself.

 

‘Damnit…’ Is all his mind can offer before he’s falling to his knees, his muscles forced to slumber under the effect of whatever cursed, myxomatotic substance is now coursing through his blood.

He’s vaguely aware of someone pulling at his shoulder, trying to keep him upright, of Atsushi yelling his name in sheer distress to no avail as Chuuya feels his own body slump further down unto the floor, powerless...

Atsushi follows him there soon enough.

 

And then it all clicks together in his head…

Why Akutagawa hadn’t been able to win against these people…why Atsushi or Tanizaki hadn’t used their abilities…

 

Nullification.

 

“Took you long enough, Tres.” Zero says to the woman in slight complaint as he smoothly slings the gun over his shoulder.

Tres, meanwhile, is staring at Chuuya with smirking eyes, the gold in them screaming victory and hardening Chuuya’s heart.

Between her fingers, he catches the shape of a fan, made up of a dozen blue cards, their edges sharp as blades as a strange blue hue glows around them…

Just like 'No Longer Human.'

“I was simply waiting for a good opening.” She merely quips back to her companion, her smile audible as day behind the concealment of her mask.

“How nice of the tiger-shifter to join us again too, saving us the time….”

 

Despite the heavy weight that’s sinking upon them, blue eyes manage to shift unto Atsushi’s already closed ones and Chuuya can’t help but curse the other in his mind almost as much as he’s berating himself.

Fear starts clawing at his heart, stings like ice against warm skin as the moonlight fades from his vision.

 

And when the darkness is there to claim him once again, Chuuya can only remember Dazai’s words in vain…

 

“Watch your back, Chuuya.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s tiring.

Vague.

This intermittent shudder running by beneath his ear...

As if somewhere in the distance, a hammer is being whacked to the floor, again and again, without pause nor purpose...

 

His body has never felt quite this heavy. This…numb.

Not even after using corruption.

He’s not in pain at least, but still…Chuuya can’t even tell what position he’s stuck in, every nerve hardened like stone, his entire system tied down in invisible chains…

It twists his stomach in knots, chokes his heart like liquor.

 

Uncovered by cold concrete, his right ear catches something through the haze in his head, this cacophony of sound that seems to come from all directions…

It takes a while before it all morphs into something more coherent and then Chuuya realises it’s voices he’s hearing, their tone somewhat familiar…though he cannot yet place them.

 

“Ugh, I can’t stand that ugly oaf’s face, looking at us like we’re snacks before dinner...”

“Ah, Yosano-san, careful, he might hear you!”

“Oh pfft, if only I had my cleaver..."

 

The voices fall silent when a sudden, rather harsh intake of breath occurs somewhere to Chuuya’s right, followed by the unmistakable sound of a throat collapsing before messy coughs echo throughout the air.

Chuuya swears he’s never been so relieved to hear Akutagawa’s lungs give out.

 

“Akutagawa… are you alright?”

That’s Atsushi, no doubt, careful worry coating his voice.

“Don’t you dare touch me, Jinko.” Akutagawa just snaps predictably, still fighting the air tainted by blood that’s trying to break free from his lungs.

“I’m just trying to help…”

“I don’t need your help. Besides, you haven’t even fully recovered yourself, what help could you possibly offer?”

 

Opening his eyes feels like the most impossible task, as if there are bricks tied to his eyelids. Delicate blue reveals itself nonetheless as it falls upon the outlines of metal bars...

In the hue of warm yellow, Chuuya catches the glimmer of a shackle around his left wrist, thinks he can feel one wrapped around one of his ankles too.

‘Fucking great…’ His mind just curses as he continues to slowly shift his gaze across the dimly lit room, or more precisely, over the cells lining every wall he can see.

 

In one of them to his left, Chuuya immediately recognizes the two agents, Yosano Akiko and Miyazawa Kenji as he vaguely recalls his encounter with them during the conflict with The Guild, however short that exchange had been…

Across them and over the gap of empty space, Atsushi and Akutagawa are stuck together behind bars as well, Atsushi just sitting on a small old bench with a frown on his face while Akutagawa keeps threading around like a restless dog.

He notes plenty of other cages lining the walls, eerily empty,  though Chuuya’s rather certain that hasn’t always been the case.

 

And as if his vision is oozing all the available energy from his system, pale-blue is forced to fade away again, Chuuya’s mind left wondering...

‘Just how many victims have already fallen to this organisation’s greedy hands?’

 

“Don’t need his help?” Yosano then responds to Akutagawa’s defensive play no doubt. “I suppose you’ve got the perfect plan to get out of here then, Mafia dog?”

Atsushi only sighs tiredly and Chuuya can just imagine the deadly glare Akutagawa is aiming at the agency’s doctor in response.

“Hm this is so strange, I’m so hungry and yet…nothing.” Kenji then mumbles, oblivious to the tense atmosphere “Do you think Dazai-san or Kunikida-san will find us?”

“I hope so…were you able to send out a message before you guys got caught?” Atsushi then asks in return.

“I’m afraid not…it pains me to say that their abilities caught us completely by surprise…” Yosano replies, pride cut in her words.

“And when we woke up we were already here, and so were you, still passed out…”

A moment of silence then passes by, before Atsushi speaks the next words with underlying confidence.

“Let’s have faith in Tanizaki-san and Gin-san...I’m sure they’ve already contacted the others…”

 

And then Chuuya wonders just how long he’s been 'sleeping'…

 

“Gin…” Akutagawa starts, strains to keep his voice so typically apathetic while speaking of his sister “She better be alright, for your sake…”

Yosano audibly flinches at his words.

“I wouldn’t worry about that, we’re not that keen on needless torture like you lot after all…”

Before Akutagawa can retort anything to her sly remark however, a warning suddenly comes bellowing at them like a strike of thunder...

 

“Be quiet in there, Damnit!”

 

And so, they all fell silent again and in the end, nobody really had an answer to Kenji’s question...

 

“They sure shackled up Chuuya-san well…” Atsushi then mumbles softly after a while and Chuuya can instantly feel multiple gazes fall upon his still form.

“He’s the only one here who’d be able to break out of his cell without his ability…even on sedatives…” Akutagawa just answers curtly, as if it’s common knowledge.

 

‘Sedatives…’

The word repeats in his mind, makes him wonder just how many ounces of anaesthesia are still coursing through his system.

Gravity’s pull has never felt so heavy…

 

“And It’s probably because of you being such a liability that he’s stuck here too.” Akutagawa then adds harshly and Chuuya can practically feel Atsushi’s responding glare radiate through air and stone.

“Stop acting like children.” Yosano then calls out abruptly, cutting through the tension like a knife.

“This is a serious situation…we need to come up with a plan instead of uselessly banteri-”

 

The current of Yosano’s words is interrupted by a sudden tremor rattling throughout the floor like a wave, and almost instantly, the strangest sound follows after it as it flows into the room. A wail, so low and deep, like horsehair sliding endlessly over a cello's thickest string.

Dissonant.

 

“W-What’s that?” Atsushi can’t help but stutter between questioning lips at nobody in particular.

“It’s our death sentence.” Akutagawa just says matter-of-factly.

 

Of course, Chuuya already knows that, thankfully, nobody is going to accept that answer for what it is…

 

“Mind filling us in some more?” Yosano asks as if on cue, annoyance once again clear in her voice.

Akutagawa just hums once before he decides to indulge them.

“When I arrived here there were already two others… and whenever they started up that machine, someone was pulled out of here soon afterwards, never to be seen again. I’m sure you all know what that means.”

The depth of those words sink in as the cursed noise continued to dominate the otherwise still air, growing louder, stronger…like a river starting to swell across its banks.

 

“Besides that, I know the nullifying ability works for 3 hours and 33 minutes…” Akutagawa adds “And that the longer the ability is affecting you, its suppression lessens…as I’ve noticed myself…”

 

Chuuya forces his eyes open once more to witness the slightest flutter of Akutagawa’s coat in the current-depraved air, proof that Rashomon is not in complete slumber.

 

“So it’s not as strong as Dazai-san’s?” Kenji then asks all innocently, to which Akutagawa just flinches.

“Of course not.” He responds in distaste, scowl deep on his face as if repulsed by the idea that there could be anyone more capable than Dazai Osamu walking this same Earth.

“But either that woman always comes right on time, cuts you with those vile cards again to start the process all over, or they just put you to sleep to keep you from breaking out…” He continues, somewhat forlorn.

“Last time she used her ability on us is something like two hours ago now…”

 

Akutagawa’s words seeping further into his mind, Chuuya is already going over every possible strategy to somehow turn the tables. Though that’s never really been his forte…

The sound, still resonating against the walls like a chant of the dead, keeps filtering into his mind like a dreadful premonition. For soon, like Akutagawa said, one of them will be forced to face whatever that thing is, awaiting them on the other side...

Just thinking about it makes Chuuya’s insides tremble with stubborn contempt.

 

“Wait, you said two others were here before you?” Atsushi then asks, to which Akutagawa just nods again. Yosano and Kenji share a look in response.

“Did you catch a name, by any chance?”

 

Even now, in this dire situation, the agency is still focused on solving the case of their missing client, not that Chuuya expects any less from them.

But devotion is a double-edged sword.

 

The metal bars in front of him seem to split and multiply as Chuuya’s gaze grows unfocused, all the voices around him downgrading into just another blur of noise. The insignificance of the subject is wasted on him anyway as he returns to the cage inside of his head instead to try and find a solution, to try and find that blink of light somewhere in the darkness…

There’s no such thing.

 

Chances are high they’ll go for Akutagawa first, Chuuya figures, since he’s been stuck here the longest of them all, therefore holding the most information to share…

But even if they don’t…even if they won’t go for one of his own, Chuuya isn’t so sure if he’s at peace with letting the others in this room die just like that either…

To just be whiffed out like a flame…

 

Pale-blue eyes refill with energy as they snap open again, fuelled by pure willpower as Chuuya tries to get himself upright, though it feels like he’s trying to move a mountain instead of a mere sixty kilograms.

His endeavors go unnoticed by the others, who are too busy half-barking around in circles once again, the hope for finding a way out shrivelling up like a flower after first frost.

 

So Chuuya just glares at the floor he’s still tied to instead.

Glares at it with eyes unmasked, the black slithering across blue skies as it whispers in his ears…

Such tragedy…Such wickedness.

To have your birth-right stripped away from you for something so mundane yet tainted as money. To have your lifeless body thrown into the dirt of this bitter world, reduced to nothing more but a heap of flesh and bones.

Just like they did with the Nightprowler, just like they did and will do with everyone else they manage to catch between their claws…

Such is the greed of humankind.

 

The command Mori laid upon him repeats itself in his mind, though it doesn’t even matter anymore at this point…

This rage seething within him is born from something far more personal…and Chuuya would rather burn then see these people get what they want.

 

The shackles tying him down start to rattle ever so slightly, the musical sound bringing all others to a halt as Chuuya confirms Akutagawa’s previous claim.

Relief hits him like a tidal wave as gravity soars underneath the tips of his finger once again, and despite the shallowness of its current, the flame of hope is re-ignited within his heart.

For Chuuya wonders, if in this state…

 

Could he call upon Corruption?

 

“Chuuya-san!” Atsushi then exclaims, voice filled with something akin to relief while Chuuya pushes himself up from the ground with his newfound strength.

And as the ominous sound in the background just continues, a familiar tremble in the floor starting to come closer and closer and closer, Chuuya already knows…

Time is running out.

 

Once more, he lets his hardened eyes fall on those in front of him…

On the colour-spilled ones filled with hope, on the amber ones bright with wonder, on the hardened purple struck with reserved curiosity.

On the people Dazai chose over his old life, over the Mafia, over Chuuya.

On his new family…

 

Who was Chuuya to deny him something like that?

 

“Listen up…” He sincerely despises how weak the words rasp passed his throat, how his voice comes out like it’s been sleeping for years...

“I’m going to get us out of here… and when I do…just run…”

And don’t look back.

 

Countless nostalgic scenes pass before his eyes as well as the faces of which many he holds dear while Chuuya slowly removes his stained gloves from roughed-up hands and tosses them on the floor, forgotten.

And as the weight of what he’s about to do clicks in his mind, it calls forward the whisper of a particular memory, of a promise, so uncharacteristically sincere, joined by the image of a man he will never see again…

 

“Chuuya...promise me you’ll never use Corruption when I’m not there.”

 

‘Dazai…’

 

His lungs fill themselves to the brim, with air both stale and still, only to be released just a moment after. It’s the only sound he takes in, everything else going on in the background a mere dream…

 

“How stupid do you think I am? You’re the suicidal one here!”

 

‘I’m sorry…’

 

As oblivion calls out his name, the tainted words are tingling on the tip of his tongue, beckoning to be chanted into the realm of the living.

He can already feel his blood turning black in his veins,

the sky in his eyes preparing a storm waiting to rampage,

the soles of his feet aching to walk upon the banks of the Styx...

 

And with one last breath, Chuuya gathers up all the air he can muster into his still untainted lungs.

 

For tonight, in this place…

He will drown.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“I’m going to get us out of here…” Come the words rasped out raw, unwavering in promise.

“And when I do…just run.”

 

Confusion only spills from Atsushi’s lungs however, as his brows crease down in question at Chuuya’s implication…

 

“Chuuya-san?”

 

But his voice goes unheard as Chuuya’s eyes remain pointed down at the floor, the blue hidden by the curl of his fiery bangs.

 

Perhaps the situation wouldn’t be as disconcerting if only that damn sound wouldn’t be pulsing through the air so pressingly.

If only Atsushi could tap into his archaic roots again, could connect to the beast inside of him so he could do something, anything...

If only Akutagawa wouldn’t be staring at his superior with such wide eyes, the white in them nearly extending beyond their confinement as the most unsettling emotion reflects from within.

Fear.

 

Oh, Grantors Of Dark Disgrace...” 

 

Everyone stills at the chant resonating through the cells ever so softly, as every letter, every syllable pushes passed Chuuya’s lips so tantalizingly slow…

 

“N-Nakahara-senpai…”

 

Atsushi’s certain he’s never witnessed Akutagawa speak with such doubt, such disbelief in his voice before, making his own instincts shudder in anticipation.

Something is definitely amiss...

 

“Do Not Wake Me Again.”

 

The sentence drifts out into the room, cold like a prayer, and the moment the final word leaves Chuuya’s lips…

It’s as if the world underneath Atsushi’s feet goes entirely still…

As if the Earth has just halted in its orbit.

 

In its insurrection, the ground beneath them jerks roughly, startling all as the sound of stone cracking apart reaches Atsushi’s ears, a suffocating aura suddenly spreading throughout the already stifling air…

Presses on his chest as if he’s ten feet underneath the surface.

The meagre light illuminating the room is flickering sporadically, the single bulb hanging at the top of the ceiling buzzing in its fight for life. 

There’s no way, no reasoning to understand what’s happening at all.

 

“Alright scrubs, playtime’s over!”

 

The big guy, Malruk if Atsushi remembers correctly, enters the place as loud as he’s oblivious to the sudden shift in the atmosphere. He’s holding up a syringe, liquid leaking from the tip of its long needle. The cruel grin stretched all over the guy’s face only turns the image more appalling, even with the bandage wrapped around one side of his face, the wound Atsushi’s responsible for, no doubt.

And then, his blood runs cold.

 

“Who wants to go f-

 

Malruk never gets to finish his sentence, not with the piece of metal now sticking out through the back of his skull, the sickening sound snapping through Atsushi’s ears in delay as he watches the other’s large form topple over and collide with the hard concrete below...

He doesn’t rise again.

 

And right as Atsushi’s back suddenly hits the cold wall behind him, he registers the push against his chest, glances down in surprise at Akutagawa’s arm that’s spread out against him like a shield.

There’s no space left to wonder from what exactly, as the door of their cell starts to disintegrate right in front of his eyes, the metal being forced to crumple away into itself in ear-cutting sharpness before it is cast away upon the floor.

 

Purple and gold still wide in disbelief, Atsushi doesn’t quite recognize Chuuya as he stalks by them, his form hunched over like a puppet on strings as blanked-out blue remains unseen behind the curl of copper, now enwrapping a face marked in blooded black…

Fingers, dark like claws rise up and tear down the other cell doors in just a moment’s breath, the strange markings curling all around the pale skin of Chuuya’s arms.

Every step he takes shakes the earth, leaves behind craters in his wake as he moves forwards, his pace stagnating unlike the vortex swirling around him…

 

And despite knowing better, Atsushi wants to call out…wants to do something…wants to move.

Though the hand upon his chest isn’t letting go just yet.

“Wait.” Akutagawa whispers sternly, his grey eyes still focused on Chuuya’s stalking form fading from sight.

Not even ten seconds later, the building shakes like it’s suffering from an earthquake, dust falling from the roof like dense snow and then, far too close-by, an echoing scream shakes Atsushi’s very bones instead.

 

“What the hell was that?” His colleagues finally dare to sneak out of their shattered cage, Yosano’s eyes a reflection of Atsushi’s own while Kenji’s seem to be struggling between shock and wonder.

Akutagawa’s frown just worsens at her question however, gaze still stuck to the room’s exit…

“It’s Nakahara-san’s true power…I’ve never witnessed it myself, until now…” He answers, words almost like a whisper.

Sharpened grey then swiftly turns and focuses in on purpled gold.

“We have to go.” Akutagawa says, leaving no room for discussion as he takes the lead into the unknown, Atsushi and the others following suite in the rush of the situation.

“Stay out of his way unless you want to be reduced to ashes.” Akutagawa adds over his shoulder in cold warning.

 

They soon find out they’re stuck in some large barn as Atsushi’s eyes fall on the old hay stacked up in the corners of the large building. The wooden gates leading outside are closed, though it doesn’t matter much because of the giant, gaping hole that’s been blasted straight through the middle, revealing the deep, dark blue of the night’s sky as well as the horizon of pine trees peeking out beyond an empty meadow.

Desolation never seemed so safe.

 

His eyes soon find their way to the source of the still-ongoing stream of discord. And Chuuya is, lightly said, wreaking havoc all over the place as they try to sneak by.

In the haste of his steps, Atsushi only catches the outlines of what’s happening, catches mere glimpses of those black swirls growing from Chuuya’s tainted fingertips, raining down destruction around them.

“M-My creation…my life’s work!” Some guy whose voice Atsushi doesn’t recognize at all is crying over the countless scraps and bolts scattered across the floor, which he suspects are the mere remnants of the ‘machine’ previously responsible for that menacing sound…

 

Still following closely behind Akutagawa’s fluttering coat, Atsushi quickly ducks underneath a piece of an old wooden table flying passed over his head, evades all the other old furniture littering the room before they finally take a moment of cover behind a knocked-over shelf.

 

“Tres, do something for fuck’s sake!” Now mask-less, Zero shouts the distressed words as he’s running about the place in a panic, aiming for the gun-rack on the wall across of him, at least until it’s blasted to bits right before his very eyes…

Meanwhile, Tres does seem to be doing her utter best at trying to slice Chuuya with her ability-nullifying cards, skilfully launches them one by one at the other’s ominous form. It’s no use, however, as Chuuya simply annuls their onslaught with no effort at all as he stalks towards her, an unrecognizable smile stretched upon his black-strung face.

A moon-shaped pool, deep as an abyss.

 

“It’s- It’s not working!” Tres responds, wide eyes filling to the brink with dread as the cards keep missing Chuuya’s tarnishing skin, every attempt a lost chance at survival…

 

It all happens very quickly after that… the sickening quench of Chuuya’s foot catapulting Tres in the stomach, her frail body hitting the wall, lifelessly sliding down to the floor as thick blood leaves a crimson trail... followed by the screams, birthed from sheer anguish as Chuuya continues to obliterate everything that still moves around him…

One by one, he hunts them down mercilessly…

 

‘So…this is yet another power of the Port Mafia…’ Atsushi doesn’t have any more time to assess the situation as Akutagawa grabs his hand and pulls him away towards the hole in the gates.

“Now’s the time!”

Yosano gets the cue as well, pulls Kenji along out of his own stupor, wide amber eyes stuck to the gruesome scene unfolding before them.

 

Once outside, the night’s soft chill instantly hugs him, the long grass in front of Atsushi’s feet swaying gently with the low breeze as moonlight baths the scene in silver.

Something calls out within him, a mere echo of the roar it should be.

The peaceful picture in front of him is a true contradiction to the bloodbath brooding at his back, Atsushi realises all too well.

“I’m convinced I just saw that woman die…but her curse remains the same…” Akutagawa mumbles as he stares at his own hands before turning towards them with hardened eyes.

 

“Can any of you get in touch with Dazai-san?” comes the question, laced with urgency.

Yosano immediately shakes her head in response however.

“Even if we still had a phone, I doubt we’d get a signal here…” She then appears thoughtful for a moment as she shares a glance with Atsushi “But knowing Dazai, he's already picked up on the situation, at the very least...”

Akutagawa visibly flinches at her words, seems lost for a moment as he stares at the building in the distance with unfocused eyes. He mumbles a quiet “I hope so…” before he starts walking further away, surprising Atsushi.

“W-where are you going?” He points to question at Akutagawa’s back, the other freezing in his footsteps.

“Are you dense? We need to find a place to hide before he sees us and mistakes us for enemies.” The other shoots back in a mix of annoyance and anger, though when he only receives questioning stares in response to his outburst, Akutagawa just sighs and turns towards them once more.

 

“He can’t control Corruption, he will keep rampaging on like this until his body can’t handle it anymore…until…”

Until he dies.

The gold in his eyes gleams underneath the crescent moon as it all clicks together in Atsushi’s mind, the dread previously taking a hold of his heart growing anew as he looks back to the scene of decay.

Chuuya must’ve known this would happen…how things would turn out…that Dazai isn’t here to stop him in his carnage.

Then…

Why would he…

 

“Is there nothing we can do?” Yosano then asks sincerely to which Akutagawa only closes his eyes and shakes his head in dismay.

And hope clunks down to his feet, heavy like a church-bell.

 

“Watch out!” Kenji then shouts as a rumble passes through the ground beneath them, all heads immediately turning to watch the fire erupting in the distance, an explosion blasting through the barn’s roof and sending a mass of rubble into the sky.

 

And as Atsushi dodges all the incoming debris that falls around him like rain, he can feel that primal instinct returning in the deepest chambers of his existence.

But he still can’t let it out, no matter how much he wants it to.

 

When he looks up again from the swirling green beneath him, he catches the shimmer of a shadow stalking forwards through the haze of dust and embers, swirling into the sky from the cracks in the walls.

The flame of faith flares up inside his chest once more as those familiar strands of fire appear from between the mist of amok and into the barrenness of the field.

It gets shot down however, is gushed out by the scene before him once Atsushi notes the unsettling amount of blood, black like obsidian drip from the wicked overstretched smile on the other’s lips.

And with every swipe those ash-painted fingers make at the world around them, it gets erased, corruption rising up into the air together with the unearthly laughter that spills passed Chuuya’s lips.

But the sound doesn’t belong to him.

 

Despite the alarm rising in his blood, Atsushi doesn’t move from his spot, rises up straight instead as his eyes narrow down in stubborn resolution.

 

“Jinko!”

 

The call is but a blur to which he doesn’t respond. Atsushi knows he should however, is probably about to do something incredibly stupid, insane even…

But there’s just no way he can leave things like this.

 

Chuuya’s eyes then fall on him, his gaze a mirror to the curve wound from ear to ear.

Bottomless. Empty.

 

“Chuuya-san, the fight is over…” Atsushi manages to push the words out stronger than he expected himself…as the other creeps closer and closer, staggers towards him much like a wounded deer.

“You can stop now!”

‘Just recognize us.’ His thoughts and voice resonate in desperation.

 

But there is no flash of recognition passing by in those forsaken blues, those eyes turning darker and darker with the second.

There’s not a single sign that Chuuya is even in there as he raises up his hand, spanned by invisible threads, possessed fingers weaving together the atmosphere into a pitch-black shell of nothingness.

And perhaps its captivation that kept him in his place, but Atsushi only realises his situation once the thing comes flying at his face.

 

“Atsushi!”

 

He’s more surprised by how Akutagawa just called him by his actual name than by the force of the push that follows it one second later.

The black void shoots them by, swallowing up an immeasurable amount of bark and branches.

 

“You fool! Do you want to die?!” Akutagawa screams into his face like he’s gone mad as he’s nearly sprawled all over him, yet Atsushi can only stare back at the other in shock.

Yosano’s voice then cuts through the air before he can push out a response, warning them both of the next black hole about to be sent their way and this time, Akutagawa hadn’t thought things through either when he’d come to Atsushi’s aid.

 

And the next thing Atsushi does isn’t something he even registers in his mind, is something his body just does out of its own.

Automated, like the air travelling into his lungs.

Darkness closing in, he pushes the other away, the tiger’s revival flooding through his veins for just a second as he watches grey eyes widen in pure surprise as they move away…

His own, he keeps shut however as he braces himself for the hit, lets his fingers dig deep into the familiarity of white fur as they await the unknown to swallow them whole.

'I really am still such a fool, aren’t I?'

 

And then there’s nothing.

Nothing but the rush of the wind passing by his ears, throwing his silver hair astray. Nothing but the black provided by the insides of his own eyelids…

For a moment, Atsushi wonders if death is supposed to feel this painless, this calm…

This peaceful.

 

Finally cracking open his eyes, they instantly shut again on reflex, blinded by a sudden brightness attacking them.

Atsushi is left blinking dumbfounded at the rays of light, radiating to all sides in countless shades of blue, spinning round and round until the black mass meant for him is reduced to nothingness by the ethereal light, by the mere touch of a fingertip.

 

Purple and gold widen once more as they take in the sight of a familiar trench coat, fluttering wildly with the current arisen by the clash of two abilities, by the spell of nullification…

 

 

“D-Dazai-san!”

 

 

A great hope has crossed the Earth.

A great hope has crossed my fear.

 

This time, let it be here to stay…

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The world is on fire.

 

The world is on fire and Dazai doesn’t know how to extinguish the flames surrounding him and the one standing across from him, across this path drenched with dusk and death…

 

Across this ocean of violence.

 

After Sensei’s cry, after encountering Tanizaki and Gin all battered up near that alleyway turned into a warzone, after finding the tell-tale hat, dust-swept overcoat and that blade he’d recognize anywhere laying amongst the rubble…

They hadn’t wasted a single second in tracking down this godforsaken place.

 

Ranpo hadn’t been amused at all, being called awake at such an ungodly hour, but once the severity of the situation had sunk in, once Yosano’s name was dropped in the urgency, they all knew where to go in just a matter of seconds…

And however unforgiving the forest roads had been for their simple city sedan to conquer, Kunikida had persevered, had pushed them through while Dazai and Ranpo prepared themselves for the worst, had been anticipating countless challenging situations to stumble across since they had an ability nullifier just like Dazai waiting at their destination…

From observing Tanizaki, they already know the nullification lasts longer than just for the moment of contact, neither had it disappeared upon Dazai’s touch, which is of course, something else entirely…

Like some sort of disease that creeps into your blood, tampers with it until it’s eliminated.

 

Oh yes, Dazai had prepared himself for many things…

But not this.

 

Not with his old partner so far gone, his eyes glazed over with a darkness even Dazai cannot rival.

Though he knows…

That’s not Chuuya staring back at him.

 

“Stay back, Atsushi-kun.” Dazai speaks calmly without looking back, adamant to keep his dark gaze stuck to the tainted one before him.

 

And the moment he takes his first step forwards, the blackness in Chuuya’s eyes gathers once again, focuses in on Dazai like an eagle spotting its prey. All the while, blood like charcoal drips further down from his chin to the already spoiled grass beneath as death-stars grow anew from possessed fingertips.

 

“The enemy has already been defeated…”

 

Dazai starts the typical charade from between reserved lips as he keeps his pace steady and unrelenting, as he tries to evoke any kind of memory still lurking behind the emptiness that’s staring him down.

The malicious chuckle that rises up from the other’s throat has Dazai’s lips sinking, only for the awful sound to grow in its madness, the other’s lips parting in pure, uncontained laughter that simply cannot belong to this world. As if the entity is mocking him for even trying to reach the vessel it’s occupying.

It might use Chuuya…but it cannot have him.

 

‘Just stay still…’ Dazai’s thoughts whisper as his eyes narrow in intimidation.

He’s well aware of his name being called somewhere in the background, worry coating Kunikida’s stern voice as it borders on that edge of lunacy, as if Dazai is insane for going face to face with a demon.

Little do they know, he’s not all that different from the creature in front of him.

 

 ‘Just…let me…’

 

“It’s time to rest now, Chuuya…”

 

The echo of the demonic laughter ends abruptly once Dazai spells out the last syllable of the other’s name, as if it’s just been shot through the heart, the black masses forcibly snapped shut upon sharp fingertips.

Surprise struck upon his own features, Dazai watches Chuuya fall down to his knees together with the wicked grin on his face as fingers painted black as tar grab harshly at his still sun-coloured-hair…

It’s the perfect window to strike.

 

He doesn’t expect the shockwave that ripples through the ground the very next instant, nearly knocking him over as the pine violently snaps in the distance.

He doesn’t expect the sudden heaviness, that nauseating thickening of the atmosphere, threatening to collapse his very lungs as it sucks his feet down to the earth below him.

He doesn’t expect the bone-chilling cry that strikes down on him like hail, that swallows up his soul and rips at it like it’s paper.

The frightening, inhuman sound that’s erupting from between Chuuya’s marred lips has everyone flinching, Dazai included, though it’s not because of the pain it’s causing in his own ears…

It’s the pain he hears in Chuuya’s voice itself.

 

It’s what gives him the strength to take his next step forwards, despite the gravity tugging harshly at his feet.

It’s what keeps his arm outstretched before him, fingers forever reaching while the wind razes through them in its ferocity.

It’s what makes him face this suicidal symphony, overlaid by a hundred different voices, all trying to blow apart his very existence.

For he will not watch Chuuya burn before him.

 

“Rashoumon!”

 

The familiar slither of obsidian then surges in before Dazai, forming a shield as Rashoumon’s dark fangs snap away at the fragments of debris flying around in the vortex that’s growing stronger and stronger as the seconds tick by.

Dazai hardly notices how unstable it is, how weak compared to what he knows Rashoumon can be, for he cannot linger on it.

 

Chuuya is all he sees now.

 

‘I’m so close…’

 

Step after step, he keeps striding forwards as the grass is being uprooted mercilessly around his feet, Rashoumon forced to dissipate underneath the pressure dominating the air.

 

‘Just stay right there...’

 

The image of Chuuya vanishing right before his eyes keeps haunting him, keeps replaying in his head as Dazai grinds his teeth together in his frustration because he can’t fathom the thought to become reality.

Refuses it to.

 

‘And let me-’

 

And so, he falls...

lands down onto his knees in the dirt as the storm around them dissipates, the flames of darkness extinguished around them as if they were nothing but a bad dream,

breathes in the moment where he’s encircling, feeling the naked skin of Chuuya’s thin wrists against his own…

And in that moment, the Earth is anything but a cold, dead place.

 

Silence spreads over the tarnished patch of land, the dawn’s arrival seeping through the still darkened heavens above them…

And as Dazai watches the sky return to the eyes in front of him, he feels that longed-for relief welling up within him like a moth breaking free from its cocoon.

 

But upon a face, so sickly pale, Chuuya’s blown pupils don’t focus in on Dazai’s own at all. And when his breath catches short in his throat, when the blood comes pooling from his lips in strangled coughs as he topples over unto Dazai’s chest, cold and spineless…

The wings of hope crumple up as everything comes crashing down again.

 

He doesn’t know what else he expected but it’s wrong. So, so wrong.

 

He immediately turns Chuuya on his side, gently puts his head upon his lap as the copper curls stained with blood, now red as roses, unravel against him.

And Chuuya still isn’t breathing, is convulsing aimlessly in Dazai’s arms as he’s trying to suck in whatever air he can grasp at again and again and again…

 

‘It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.’

 

“Calm down, Chuuya…” His voice is a composed contraction to the thoughts running amok in his head. For he knows his words are useless as he pushes his face in the crook of Chuuya’s neck, tries to escape the sickening sound of air catching against thick, wet blood.

It’s a path, so familiar, yet they’ve never reached the end.

 

“Just breathe…”

 

There’s a hand twitching relentlessly in his own, unresponsive to Dazai’s touch and yet, he doesn’t let go.

Can’t let go.

 

“Just breathe.”

 

Every stomach-retched cough is a tug on his heartstrings, every forsaken whimper a stab to his lungs, a slice through flesh and bone while his mind keeps whispering white lies into his head like a mantra.

‘It’s okay, it’s- it’s fine, everything will be fine.’

 

“Dazai...”

 

Kunikida’s voice then reaches him, and Dazai’s almost certain his colleague has never approached him with that gentle of a tone. Any other time, he would’ve made the most ridiculous comment about it, would’ve abused the gesture for years to come.

Now, however…

Dazai really doesn’t want to hear it…

 

“He’s suffocating…”

 

He knows…

He fucking knows Chuuya’s suffocating, is drowning in his own blood, right here in his arms…

Why does it feel like he’s the one drowning instead?

 

Chuuya is dying and might not even know how or why, might not even realise it’s Dazai that’s holding him right now as the blood continues to flow from between wincing lips, is being retched up from the pit of his lungs to no avail…

And there’s nothing Dazai can do about it.

 

‘Don’t…Don’t do this to me…’

 

The situation is too familiar, painfully claws at memories unwelcome as the sharp scent of iron creeps all over his senses and consumes him whole.

Why hadn’t he seen this coming? Why couldn’t he have predicted this?

This is Odasaku all over again.

 

“Please...” It takes an ocean not to break as he whispers the word into the ear beneath him, as he hopes that, somehow, Chuuya can still hear him as his lungs are giving up on him, as his entire body is writhing in agony underneath the stress of hypercapnia.

Because Dazai refuses to give up, no matter how impossible it may seem to they eyes of strangers…

He knows that Chuuya can do this. He knows that Chuuya is stronger than this…

 

“Daz-

“Just breathe, Chuuya!”

As Dazai’s lips part in the cry laced with desperation, his voice breaking like thunder throughout the skin beneath him, he can feel the ripple of air travelling through the lungs underneath his fingertips, Chuuya’s eyes flying wide open in the shock of rebound.

 

It’s short-lived, ricochets with another spill of blood, with those scraping gasps that tell-tale pain…

But Chuuya’s breathing.

He’s breathing and that is all that matters.

 

“Good, that’s good Chuuya, just focus…” Dazai speaks near automatically, the hoarseness of his voice unheard, the trickle of water passing over his skin unfelt.

 

Whoever it was, previously cut short of uttering Dazai’s name with both careful worry and urgency alike, has fallen silent, just like everyone else has even more so than before, as if they’re all listening to the sound of air travelling into Chuuya’s scarred lungs…

To the sound of a miracle.

 

Dazai doesn’t look up as Yosano makes her entrance, kindly orders Kunikida and Atsushi to give her some space before she lowers herself down in front of Chuuya.

She knows better than to request the same of Dazai.

 

And as she unbuttons Chuuya’s vest, lets her eyes linger on the countless bruises scattered across skin white as porcelain, Dazai just stays focused on how Chuuya’s chest moves up and down in an irregular pace, on the tremble in his cold fingers still held by Dazai’s own while Yosano has hers gently pressed against Chuuya’s wrist, the crease between her eyes growing forever deeper…

The vile hiss that travels past Chuuya’s throat as Yosano presses on a particular spot in his abdomen isn’t entirely unexpected, but the knife digging in between Dazai’s ribs delves deeper all the same...

 

“It’s okay, it’s okay…” Dazai whispers soft falsities into the other’s ear as he tries to keep his voice steady.

Because from just one glance at Yosano’s expression…he knows…

It’s not okay at all.

 

“This doesn’t look good…” She doesn’t sugar-coat it.

“His pulse is irregular, vessels ruptured, bleeding out on the inside…not to mention what he’s already lost before…”

 

Yosano then looks up at Akutagawa, who is watching them with a rather conflicted gaze.

 

“I still have what, 30 minutes to go before I get my ability back?” She asks him in slight annoyance, to which Akutagawa only gives a single nod in return, his lips a thin line.

“Alright…” She then sighs, steels her eyes as if bracing herself… “Ranpo-san, please get me the emergency kit from the car…”

As the latter nods and already runs off, Atsushi jumps up from his crouched position next to Dazai, whom looks up at the other, a bit startled at the sudden movement.

“We’ll see if we can find more supplies inside!” Atsushi offers, eyes hardened in that typical set of resolution and perseverance as Kenji and Akutagawa nod to him in return.

 

“Dazai…” Yosano then starts as multiple feet rustle through the grass in the distance, towards the barn house left behind in near-ruin.

Her next words are tinged with such sincerity it sends a shiver through his spine at what’s to come.

“I’m going to need you to keep him still, understood?”

 

His own eyes finally fall on Yosano’s stern ones, as reserved as he can manage them before he gives but a single nod.

 

Chuuya is strong. He can handle this.

He hopes he can, too.

 

“Kunikida, take over for me when I say so.” Yosano adds, shifts aside a little so Kunikida can lower himself down as well, eyebrows creased in pure concentration before he gives a curt nod as well.

He doesn’t even question why they are doing this, why they are helping an executive of the Port Mafia, an enemy

Dazai can’t even begin to explain how grateful he is for that.

 

And the moment Yosano applies the pressure on the black and blue-marred skin right underneath Chuuya’s ribs, it’s as if the struggle between life and death begins anew.

Though in reality, that battle had already started a long time ago…

Had been set the moment Dazai had witnessed that fire burning in Chuuya’s eyes the first time he’d laid his eyes upon him, when the other, this small, frail child, was presented before them all, nothing more but a slab of fresh meat.

 

It’s a moment Dazai will never forget…

No matter how many times they had fought, wounded and then nurtured each other afterwards,

had exclaimed their displeasure, distaste for one another under false pretences,

had tried to sever their ties through both physical and emotional means…

 

For it was the moment he and Chuuya became partners, long before Mori ever announced them to be.

 

He will not let that end here.

 

“Just hold on, Chuuya.”

Tenderly, he speaks the words as Chuuya’s heart continues to pulse against Dazai’s lips in unregulated hysteria, every second passing by far too slowly as all the actions, all the sounds around them seem to fade away into the distance and echo endlessly through the void in his head.

 

“Just keep breathing…”

He doesn’t know how deep his words are reaching underneath the spike of pain taking hold of the body endlessly tensing up in Dazai’s arms, doesn’t know if Chuuya can actually feel the tight hold he has around him, around lithe fingers, so much more delicate than Dazai’s own…

Yet so, so cold.

 

And then, time stops altogether,

the air passing through Dazai’s throat hitching as it breaks upon the shock written all over the widening of his eyes.

His heart is a trigger, pulled by fingers, pale as snow as they finally curl around his own, the premature beat jolting his entire system as if a crack of lightning had just passed through his veins…

Because Chuuya is there.

Chuuya is there.

 

“I’m here.”  Instantly, reassurance passes between Dazai’s lips as if it sets free the shivers of his own soul.

 

I’m here, I’m here, I’m here…

 

Tightening his hold even more, his lips curve up against soft skin more genuinely than he can ever remember as a feeling, so alienated, travels freely through his very being.

 

“Just leave it to me now…” Dazai speaks, his words filled to the brim with loyalty, with promise as the rays of the sun finally break through the horizon of shattered pine, the warmth burning at his back as it turns copper into gold.

 

“Partner.”

 

 

 

The world is on fire.

The world is on fire and they are here to stay and burn in its wretched flames.

 

Together.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Unstained, the soft orange burns against the white sheets beneath, titian curls decorating the outlines of snow-touched skin, a face so delicate yet sharp as if it was shaped by milk and stone.

Fiery lashes remain closed, rooted and unmoving, just like the lightly parted lips beneath them.

 

Chuuya’s expression has always been rather peaceful in dreamless slumber…

Enrapturing. Unreachable.

 

And every chance, every opportunity he gets to witness this, his mind repeats the same question time and time again…

How somebody so beautiful, so graceful can be so virulently lethal at the same time…

An utterly painful co-existence.

 

Dazai just watches the air move in and out of the other’s now unscarred lungs, the steady rhythm almost unnatural to behold.

And he waits.

Waits for that sky to unfold before him again…

As if it is the only confirmation that will tell him this is all real…That this is not a dream, an illusion his own mind is playing before him like an old, damaged tape.

That Chuuya is alive

 

“How many times has he used this…’Corruption’ before?” Yosano’s voice filters into his head as well as the whirring of tiny wheels, the shrivelling of an empty plastic bag.

Dazai just hums in suspicion as she moves up next to him, still dribbling down some notes in her haste.

“Why so curious, Yosano-san?” He then asks her, that edge of a tease apparent in his voice as if it never even left.

Yosano just regards him with that typical glance of amused annoyance before she sighs and lets her tired eyes fall on the target of Dazai’s own as well.

 

“It’s just…. all that internal scarring…” She begins, making it clear Dazai can’t fool her one bit.

“Either he’s been stabbed and shot over more than fifty times in the past or it’s because of that…Ability....” She says, her gaze saddening.

“The price for such power…there’s no way to measure the amount of suffering he had to go through…”

 

Dazai’s rueful smile that follows at those words gets missed by the sharp purple of Yosano’s eyes as she turns away.

And Dazai decides to keep still his thoughts, as countless tainted memories are swiped before him.

 

“If that’s the kind of world you come from…” She begins again while grabbing her things together, the clack of her heels moving throughout the room as she head to the infirmary’s door.

“I’m glad you’re here with us now, Dazai.”

 

Dark hazel blinking somewhat stupidly at her unexpected words, Dazai turns his head to Yosano, catching her genuine smile before she gives a small wave and takes her leave.

An amused chuckle then escapes from his throat before he mumbles his next words with a smile tugging at this lips.

“I guess I can say the same thing…”

 

Atsushi then stumbles by Yosano’s retreating form, entering the room with a slightly confused face, probably wondering what that chuckle was all about.

“Ah, Atsushi-kun!” Dazai instantly greets him, cheerful as ever while casually walking over to grab his unsuspecting victim by the shoulders, consequentially pushing him towards the occupied bed.

“Do me a favor and watch over Chuuya for a bit okay? I have some business to attend to.” Dazai just quips, Atsushi’s form going completely still as he processes the simple request.

 

“E-Eeeeh?!”

 

Comes the predicted, panicked response, Atsushi’s face growing somewhat flustered as he stares at Chuuya’s still peacefully sleeping form on the bed.

 

“W-what do I do when he wakes up?!”

 

“See you again soon, Atsushi-kun~” Dazai’s reply simply echoes through the building as he’s already half-way down the stairs, smiling knowingly as Atsushi’s cries of silly nervousness go unheard.

And Dazai can be at ease, for he knows…

Everything will be okay now.

 

And in the backseat of the taxi that’s heading for Yokohama’s port, Dazai once again reads over the report in his hands, over the ‘names’ of the unfortunate victims from Chuuya’s carnage.

 

Zero, who could apparently analyse one’s ability from but one look into their eyes.

Eins, the genius developer of the ‘ability-relocating’ device, who was only seen running around the barn, yelling, as Kenji quoted, “My machine!” right before he got crushed by the remains of said machine…

Malruk, your typical wall of muscle, or was at least. Could transmit the energy his muscles created into the ground with his fists, therefore able to transfer it within the earth itself, shaping it to his will…

And then there was Tres, the woman with the ability nobody had expected, raining down Hellfire upon them…

It’s what nearly got them all killed, if not for Chuuya.

If not for that thing inside of him…

 

The Special Ability Department had their eyes on these people ever since they’d started their killing spree across the globe. But without a name or a location where they’d stick by, the task hadn’t been easy, or at least, that’s how Ango put it when Dazai involved him in cleaning up the mess.

Despite also being relieved, Ango had dared to complain about the state of their bodies, some of them hardly recognizable…

But well, sticking an identity to their faces was Ango’s problem now.

And Dazai didn’t mind that at all…

 

Sadly, the agency itself had failed their case…

Had lost their client because of this…organisation. And in the countless lives that were lost, his was just one of the bodies they’d eventually found, close to incineration…

And honestly, despite the couple of smart antics these people had used, such as the numbers and the codenames, they’d been the biggest fools….

Doomed from the moment they had entered the Port Mafia’s territory, from the moment they decided to mess with Double Black, even if it was just one half that got to bring them down…

 

And everything would’ve gone a lot more smoothly if Dazai had been there from the start, he’s certain… just as much as he knows that, behind the curtains, Chuuya is much more rational than any of his enemies would ever expect.

Knows that, in the face of battle, even just the potential of it, Chuuya is just so damn impulsive, throws all of that keen rationality straight out of the window for the sake of charging head-on into the fight…

But what Dazai didn’t know was that Chuuya would actually break his promise to him.

Could’ve never predicted that.

 

And yet, part of him has always known…

Like time, Corruption doesn’t wait. It grows, minute by minute, day by day…until the last grain of sand has dropped from the hourglass.

Until it’s set free again.

 

And despite of what Atsushi had told him, despite the absolute direness of their situation at that moment…

It still stings.

As if those teeth are still chewing away on that piece of his soul, ripped off and devoured.

 

His thoughts keep spinning in circles, even as Dazai comes to a stand-still in front of the port’s edge, the Pacific shimmering in its tranquillity underneath the sun’s growing demise.

A leap of white, orange and black in the corner of his eyes beckons them to shift, his lips already curling up in a gentle smile.

“Beautiful evening, isn’t it, Sensei?”

Sensei’s eyes gleam up at him in agreement before they turn to the echo of footsteps nearing up from behind Dazai.

 

“Dazai-kun…conversing with felines now, are we?”

 

Dazai just shifts his body sideways, meeting Hirotsu’s cheeky gaze with his own.

 

“I have to admit, Hirotsu-san… Sensei makes for surprisingly good company.”

“Oh, I have no doubt about that.” The old man just laughs heartily before accepting the envelope Dazai offers him just a moment later.

Sensei sits with them quietly, blinking in relaxed observation as the seagulls sweep them by every now and then, screeching in their squalor.

 

“This will do.” Hirotsu tells him as he adjusts his monocle, skimming over the words with great concentration.

 

Back in the old days, Dazai always let Chuuya handle the reports, or better said, pushed that responsibility unto him by simply ignoring the duty until his partner would cave and take care of the hassle himself because Dazai was such a ‘worthless piece of trash’.

So, something as small as this…

 

“A favor for a favor.”

 

It’s nothing compared to what Chuuya has done for him.

 

Hirotsu just nods in return, a sincere smile gracing his face.

“You can trust me on that, Dazai-kun...”

 

“And don’t worry, Hirotsu-san.” Dazai speaks once more, hands shoved down his coat’s pockets as his stance grows even more at ease.

“We won’t keep him for long.” He ends with a wink and Hirotsu can’t stop himself from chuckling at the gesture of empty mischief.

 

“Of course…” Comes the undoubted reply nonetheless, though there’s a question in Hirotsu’s eyes.

“I’m certain Akutagawa-kun will keep quiet just as well, if it’s by your request… but what makes you think Chuuya-kun himself won’t explain to Mori-san what truly happened?”

 

It’s a fair question, for Chuuya’s loyalty to the Mafia is unquestionable, is like a sword in stone that nobody is able to wrench loose…

But Dazai can try bending it, even if just a little…

 

“I’ll take care of it.” Is all Dazai quips back, like it’ll be a walk in the park, all smiles and cotton candy.

Yet, honestly,

It's not his ex-boss who poses the real threat to this situation...

 

Hirotsu just gives a small sigh at the display before he takes off his monocle and pulls a neatly folded handkerchief out of his trouser pocket.

“I’ve always known that you distrust Mori-san…” Hirotsu says it like it’s a fact, a statement.

And Dazai just keeps his smile intact, waits patiently for Hirotsu to continue as the old man gently rubs at the thin glass with the overly decorated piece of cloth.

“But you know, Dazai-kun, you should be somewhat thankful to him for what he did that day...”

He then looks up to meet Dazai’s gaze again, his eyes reserved yet overlaid with the guise of sincerity. And there no questioning to what Hirotsu’s referring to…

“If our old boss would still be in charge, he would’ve killed Chuuya-kun a long ago, just to spite you.”

 

That might be true. It also might not be.

Nevertheless, Dazai doesn’t question Hirotsu, merely offers him a false smile and waves him goodbye in his typical aloofness as the old man takes his leave into the maze of Yokohama’s port, for Dazai knows the other only means well with his words.

But despite Hirotsu’s experience in the Mafia, despite him being around much longer than Dazai had, he’s rather certain…

No-one has ever seen, has ever dealt with Mori the same way Dazai had to.

 

It’s shaped him into what he is now, wouldn’t have it any other way.

But he'd be a fool to forget.

 

Sensei gives a timid mewl next to him, a mere gesture of understanding to Dazai’s sudden change in demeanour.

He only offers a small smile in return before facing the sinking sun once more, it’s sharp brightness forcing his eyes to narrow as his lips sink into a tight line…

It pulls him backwards…

 

All his life, he’s been confronted with people stuck in this daily, meaningless routine, laid upon them by the eyes of society. All willingly going along with the tale of the ‘simplicity’ of life, as if that’s the way things are supposed to be…as if that’s the only road you can take to find what you want…to achieve that.

But living a life on coffee and flowers has never sparked Dazai’s interest.

Where is the meaning in that, after all?

 

Joining the Port Mafia meant entering an entirely different kind of life and though the Mafia couldn’t exactly be called a world on its own, it certainly carried the weight of one.

A weight that had pressed down on him for far too long, that had changed him…

But it didn’t change the way he saw things…

 

And then there was Chuuya.

Chuuya, who always burned so painfully bright, continues to do so, even in the darkness he takes his refuge in…

Seems to live in overdrive, too fast for his own good…

And Dazai still doesn’t understand, never has.

 

Mission after mission, kill after kill, as the blood of both the guilty and innocent flowed through both their fingers, Chuuya found solace in kinship, in materialism, in the simplicity of a glass of red wine…

Dazai has always both admired and despised that about his partner…

 

He doesn’t understand…

 

Because with every glass of of liquor that went down his throat, every cigarette that burned up his lungs, every new face he met, every word of praise he got, Dazai found nothing.

Nothing to drain away the emptiness inside of him.

 

He doesn’t understand…

 

He knows how to pull every single emotion from another person’s mind, knows how to tug at them and play them like puppets, how to manipulate them.

And yet, he continues to helplessly struggle with his own.

 

And despite trying not to be confronted by them, despite fighting them, he’s been through the entire array of colours, each and every one explored into their depths against his own wishes.

Has felt joy, fear, surprise and sadness…

Has felt hatred.

Has felt love...

And every shade in between them.

 

But still…

He doesn’t understand…

 

But Odasaku had.

Odasaku had understood Dazai more than Dazai ever did himself…

 

And even that, the cruelty of life takes away from him.

 

"Anything I would never want to lose will be lost. It is given that everything that is worth wanting will be lost the moment I obtain it…”

His very own words, a premonition unperceived…

Back then…and now

 

And yet, here he stands…

Bruised, as if the muscle pumping the blood through his veins is still bleeding itself…

 

Isn’t that proof enough of what this all means?

 

But never…never again will he let his own words come back to haunt him.

To stab him in the back like the traitor he chose to be…

 

And so,

this is how he and Chuuya will remain.

 

Forever stuck between friend and foe.

Between partnership and rivalry.

Between life and death…

 

They can never be anything else but that.

 

Brushes are stroking the sky in pastel pinks and purples as Sensei gives a tired yawn next to him, stretches out his paws in satisfaction before he casually takes his leave.

 

“Thanks again, Natsume-san…” Dazai just mumbles softly, the feline just flicking its tricolored tail in return before fading away in the distance.

 

"True love, such a tragedy, isn’t it?”  That snarky old man had blabbed at him once.

Of course, Dazai had only laughed at the words, still does, at the outright ridiculousness of their implication.

True love; nothing but a gimmick, a fantasy made up for those who love living in an illusion, for those who need comfort after having their heart shattered to pieces, for those who are distorted by the disease that is affection…

And even if it did exist…

True love would never be civilised anyway….

 

And as it sucks the life out of the air, the sun slowly slides to the other side of the Earth, to the other side of this floating rock he remains stuck upon.

 

'Such a dreadful thing…to be human. To feel…’

If only something so simple as the name of his ability could change that…

 

"You will wander the darkness for eternity…”

 

Dazai’s lips stretch into a sad smile, even as Odasaku’s bled-dry words float through his mind.

Because as long as he stumbles upon those few flickers of light on this dull path he walks upon…

Life isn’t all that bad.

 

Almost reflexively, he grabs onto Odasaku’s old box of cigarettes that he still keeps in the pocket of his coat.

Though he never takes one out, not even once…

 

Because unlike Chuuya, Dazai tries to hold down the demons still stalking his shadow.

 

Though lately, he supposes…

He’s been failing at that rather harshly…

 

“Isn’t that right…”

 

The blue of the sky fades away, shade by shade, as it returns to the place it belongs to…

 

 “Chuuya?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Black.

 

It’s all there is, it’s all he’s ever known…

 

Just endless, meaningless, ever bitter black.

 

‘Who are we?’

 

Perhaps this is death.

Perhaps this is the cold nothingness that eventually comes to claim them all…

 

‘Where are we?’

 

No, it…

It can’t be...

 

‘When are we?’

 

The dead shouldn’t be able to think nor feel at all.

 

“Never forget who you are.”

 

Chuuya hasn’t, even if he can never match that voice with a face as it whispers to him, in dreams and nightmares alike, time and time again...

Chuuya knows who he is.

He doesn’t know at all...

 

And so he tries to remember…tries to recall what happened before he came to this place.

To this emptiness.

 

As if on cue, an all too familiar chant echoes through the depths of the dark, an arctic wind rushing past his face that thickens his blood to oil as the cursed words invade his mind.

 

Corruption.

 

He remembers…

Remembers that bloodlust rising up in every single cell of his being as he enforces his claim upon the Earth’s gravity.

Remembers the vigor, that pure, unlimited power surging at his fingertips.

Grating. Twisting. Endlessly turning inside out.

Remembers annihilating his enemies one by one, like lambs to the slaughter as he’s painting the walls solid red.

Helpless and disentangled, blood, bones, guts and limbs all crushed to mere particles…

Disturbing.

Remembers how the thing inside him revels in it, bit by bit locking him up behind the gates of Hell he entered so willingly…

A prisoner in his own skin.

 

Remembers all of his senses being overtaken one by one…

Until nothing is left…

Deaf, dumb...

Until he’s dancing in the darkness, in a world of empty streets.

and blind.

 

Yet out of that very same pitch-black,

a voice calls out, slashing through the eroding gates of purgatory.

 

“It’s time to rest now, Chuuya…”

 

As if a spell has just been cast upon him, the words bind him down to the floor.

And all he can do is scream.

 

From the pits of his lungs, along with the thousands of other voices crying out within him.

 

Chuuya doesn’t know why, he doesn’t know how as the white is flashing before his very eyes, as lightning is burning his skin black and laying everything around him to waste…

But he soon realises what’s happening as the demon inside of him continues to drown in the ocean of its own flames..

This is how it all ends.

 

And it does.

Abrupt, as if he just reached the eye of the storm…

Warmth spreads around his wrists, seeps into his skin as it turns his muscles to molten wax.

 

And then comes the raw, devastating pain,

Skin bleeding, burning as his mouth is wide open in soundless gasps…

Yet the air refuses to travel into his lungs.

 

His head is a cathedral, filled with feathers, every sound entering through its doors echoing on for eternity…

 

“Calm down, Chuuya…”

 

Every sound but those words, spoken by that voice, beckoning him to fight, to live.

 

“Just breathe.”

 

It’s the only voice that can reach him.

 

“Please...”

 

‘Dazai…’

 

Pure desperation fills Dazai’s voice in the outcry that follows, cutting through Chuuya’s very soul, forcing him to suck in the air all the way past the barricades of blood.

It’s a different kind of pain.

 

Unspeakable emotions wash over him as he’s finally able to feel again. To feel that hand wrapped around his own, to feel those whispers of warm breath against his ear, to feel the wet warmth trickling down the nape of his neck.

 

And then Chuuya realises, that even now, after all these years…

He still doesn’t understand Dazai at all…

 

But despite the searing stabs of agony, still firing from synapses uncontained as it travels through his nerves, eroded underneath necrosis, Chuuya still manages to gather every ounce of strength he has left into his cold, unmoving fingers…

To squeeze back, as hard as he can muster…

 

And Chuuya just breathes…

Breathes as Dazai enwraps his fingers even tighter around his own, breathes as those soft lips curl up against his bruised skin, all his anguish washed away for just a second as the light finally seems to embrace him…

 

“I’m here, Chuuya.”

 

The blinds start to shut again, the streaks of ethereal light slowly narrowing down as the darkness takes back its rightful place…

 

“Leave it to me now…”

 

The feathers rain down from the ceiling, as weightless as snow...

Like foxfire, their brilliance cuts through the black as they scatter, flutter down upon his skin, basking him in undefiled white.

 

“Partner…”

 

 

...

 

 

..

 

 

.

 

 

Cloudless summer skies fly wide open,

petrol blues seeping in as the brightness overtakes them…

And as he shuts his eyes again on reflex at the sudden intensity, Chuuya gives loose a hiss through wincing lips. Near-instantly, he’s pushing his body upwards, the urge to break away from the invisible chains shackling him down in his dream far too great to fight.

 

“Ch-Chuuya-san!”

 

And he’s warm, he realises, as his hands are gliding over the soft blankets draped across him, now fallen down to his slim waist.

 

Slowly, he finally allows his eyelashes to unfurl once more, the flashes of white still dancing in his vision, yet the first thing they meet is that mix of worry and relief swirling in the clash of purple and gold.

“Atsushi-kun…” Chuuya just mumbles, knows his confusion is audible in his voice as he observes the other, apparently having jumped up from his chair next to Chuuya’s bed as he stands there like he’s hesitant of the situation.

 

“Where…am I?”

 

Atsushi then just shoots him that smile filled with kindness as he rubs his hand behind his head a bit nervously.

“Ah, you’re at our office…”

 

‘The agency? Why…what…’ His mind instantly boggles, narrowed blue already roaming around suspiciously over what looks to be some sort of improvised infirmary…

 

“We took you here after Yosano-san healed you…” Atsushi adds, likely noticing the Chuuya’s questioning gaze.

“Do you… not remember, Chuuya-san?”

 

Blue goes still at those words, the habit of scanning unknown environments pushed aside as Chuuya’s mind unfolds like a cherry blossom in spring.

‘That doctor… Yosano Akiko…’

Thou Shalt Not Die…

 

Chuuya gives but a single nod as his eyes are tugged downwards like the edges of his lips, as he once again realises, that everything previously passing through his mind…

All of it had been real.

 

“Did I…” He starts, a certain fear growing in his gut as he raises his eyes to Atsushi’s again.

“…hurt anyone?”

 

Atsushi seems taken aback by his question, his eyes blinking in clean surprise for a moment.

“Ah, n-no you didn’t!” He then exclaims abruptly. Yet as Atsushi is profoundly shaking his head along to those words, Chuuya can only raise an eyebrow in suspicion.

“I’m- we’re just glad you’re okay now…” Atsushi just adds, that smile bleeding innocence adorning his face once again.

 

‘You shouldn’t be…’ Chuuya instantly thinks to himself, pointing his eyes down again to the cleansed palms laid out on his lap.

‘Even after all this, you and I might turn out enemies again.’

 

A minute of silence passes over them while Chuuya keeps his gaze downwards…though he can hear Atsushi fidgeting needlessly in the background.

 

“Ah, you must still feel a bit weird, right Chuuya-san? Would you like some water? O-or maybe some tea?”

 

Atsushi’s politeness is lost on Chuuya however, the moment his eyes set themselves on the white sleeves surrounding his own arms…

And as a familiar scent invades his lungs, Chuuya is rather certain that he knows this shirt…

And it’s definitely not his.

 

“Atsushi-kun…” Chuuya then starts, the dread unhidden in his mumble as he watches Atsushi tense up in apt response.

“Do you happen to know…what happened to my clothes, perhaps?”

Yet before Atsushi can even open his mouth, the devil himself decides to finally grace them with his presence.

 

“Why, I burned them of course! What a silly question, Chuuya~”

 

Of course, Dazai just struts towards them in typical nonchalance, that over-glorifying smile stretched from ear to ear as his eyes glisten with that mischievousness Chuuya recognizes all too well…

 

“You did what?!”

 

“C-calm down, Chuuya-san!” Atsushi tries in instant panic, holding up his hands as if Chuuya is about to fly out of the bed like a rocket while Dazai just keeps on gleaming as if he’s not right about to fucking die.

 

“Your clothes are fine! W-well, they needed some stitching but I think they made it out okay!”

‘Oh.’ Is all that passes through his mind, the unkempt rage fading away, though the sharp glare he’s got aimed at Dazai hasn’t yet lessened in its magnitude.

 

“Ah, Atsushi-kun, that’s no fun!”

“Oh, I’ll show you fun, you bastard.” Chuuya responds heatedly to Dazai’s immature whining while Atsushi just sighs, as if tired of handling the entire situation.

 

“Atsushi-kun…” Dazai then speaks, though his eyes do not leave Chuuya’s own…

The darkness keeps sucking him right in…

 

“Do you mind giving us a moment?”

 

Despite how gentle Dazai asks the question, the mood still undeniably shifts, as if winter just settled down upon the peak of summer.

And though his own eyes are unable to break free from the still reserved ones before him, Chuuya is rather certain Atsushi just caught that strange, unsettling glint passing by in those dark hazels as well…

Atsushi just nods and calmly leaves the room nonetheless, glancing back at them only once more, his expression tinged with puzzlement.

 

Dazai lets his eyes fall closed together with the click of the door before he releases all the air constraint by his lungs in one typically over-dramatic sigh, his pose relaxing evermore as he shoves his hands even deeper down his pockets.

Though when those dark depths reveal themselves again, they stare at Chuuya with this…unusual glaze cast over them, an expression Chuuya can’t pin-point at all…

As if Dazai is trying to read his thoughts through the mirror in his eyes.

 

“What?!” Chuuya then snaps over the silence that was ticking by a second too long, frustration already building up in his veins again.

What do you want from me?

 

He expects Dazai to do what he always does; to put that mask of a smile back on his face, to start making some smartass, jittery comments on how utterly ridiculous Chuuya looks in his oversized shirt, belonging to no-one but the shitty bastard himself…

And yet, Dazai just keeps staring at him, his mouth a thin line, eyes empty of emotion as he speaks his next words.

 

“I’m wondering…now that you broke your promise to me, am I supposed to break something of yours too?”

 

Pale-blue eyes widen in uncontained perplexity before the black within them narrows down like wildfire, freezing the oceans around them to pure ice.

A true contradiction to the heat of anger welling up within the fourth chamber of his heart.

The indifference leaking from Dazai’s words has Chuuya stumbling out from under the blankets before he even knows what he’s doing, his muscles swaying lightly as the pressure in his veins runs behind on his actions.

 

“Broke my promise?” Chuuya counters with a bark of fake laughter as he thinks back again to that moment in time, buried underneath bridges burned.

There’s no place left for promises…

 

“Would you have preferred me lying down like a dog maybe? Should I have just let them take my birth right, my life, or anyone else’s for that matter, without a lifting a single finger?!”

 

He’s just spouting words now as he closes in on Dazai, knows it’s his heart that’s speaking and not his head, but even so, Chuuya won’t stop, is almost certain the emotions unravelling in the darkness before him are just an illusion.

 

“Chuuya…”

 

And he’s just so fucking tired of the way Dazai still worms his way into his life like he’s never done anything wrong,

still acts like Chuuya hasn’t changed at all after all the time he’d spent dormant,

still keeps dissing on stupid things like fashion sense and drinking habits as if it were still yesterday, as if they were still partners

 

How Dazai can just stand there and act like this is all okay…

Chuuya just can’t accept any longer.

 

“And what the hell are you still going to break, huh?! Why don’t you just stop playing fucking games with me and-

 

“Enough!”

 

As if shot at point-blank range, the word startles him more than Chuuya would ever have liked to let show, is too shocked by Dazai’s sudden snap at him to react properly to the way the other closes in on him, cold fingers suddenly coiled around his wrist so tightly that it stings.

The world turns heavy around him again.

 

“You think I’m playing games with you, Chuuya?” The softness in Dazai’s voice only amplifies the unsettling undertones residing in it.

Something inside of him trembles, suppressed instincts razing over the edges of his control.

“That having you nearly dying in my arms is a fucking game?”

He’s rendered speechless, the genuine anger seeping into Dazai’s words paralysing his vocal cords all the way down to the unmoving air in the pit of his lungs.

 

And when Dazai moves closer once more, Chuuya takes an involuntarily step backwards, again and again and again.

 

“You think I enjoyed leaving you behind? To put it upon others to keep watch over you?”

 

Any other time, he would’ve become livid, would’ve furiously denied such an implication,

because no, Chuuya doesn’t need anybody to keep an eye on him, doesn’t need a partner anymore to watch his back.

 

But now, with Dazai’s voice so fragile, so damn breakable…

He’s nothing but a spectre, still stuck in a dream, he has to be…

 

His back hits the wall, mercilessly pulling him back into reality, and still…

Dazai doesn’t stop.

 

Fractures ripple through the ice that’s violently quivering by the conflict that burns behind them as Dazai slowly brings up his hand to Chuuya’s face, fingers brushing aside untamed strands of hardened fire.

Ill-suiting, Dazai’s touch is impossibly soft over the sharp outlines of his jaw.

As if he’s made of glass…

 

And when Chuuya finally takes a shuddering breath, there’s no way to fight against the other’s scent filling up his entire being, numbing him from the inside out.

 

“All those years of being near you, watching you, but never being able to actually reach you…”

 

Instincts spiking, it feels like his heart is trying to shatter and break apart his ribs, his breath coming short and shuddering in the grasp of adrenalin.

 

“D-Dazai…”

 

Yet Dazai leans in even further, rests his head against Chuuya’s own as night keeps claiming day, his breath warm against quivering lips.

It’s torture.

 

Chuuya doesn’t know who moved first.

Doesn’t realise how his own fingers are grasping at the other’s collar, so tight it almost makes them bleed.

Doesn’t process the pain of sharp teeth snapping at him as if they’re fangs trying to rip him apart from the inside.

 

Because as Dazai’s lips are moving upon his own, deep, dark and devouring…

He falls, succumbs to the claws enwrapping his soul in bliss.

 

It’s as tender as it’s ferocious,

as passionate as it’s apathetic,

as warm as it is cold….

 

It’s only a statement, a claim.

 

“Even if we’re on opposite sides, split by time, distance, by anything that voice in your head keeps telling you, Chuuya…”

Dazai then whispers, breathes the words against the sensitive swell of Chuuya’s lips, ever-touching.

 

“We’ll always be partners, you and I.”

 

We’ll always be Double Black.

 

And then, Dazai simply pulls away from him, Chuuya’s hands slipping helplessly from cream-coloured cloth as that suffocating flood of warmth dissipates from the chasm between them, growing greater and greater with every step that Dazai takes…

Coming to another halt, his back turned to Chuuya, Dazai’s next words are woven together again without a single shred of oddity...

 

“Your things are in the closet on your right. Feel free to go whenever you like…”

 

He doesn’t look back as he moves to leave, and as Chuuya watches him go, the urge to call, to reach out for the other washes down on his disarmed mind like a flood of blood to his heart.

But he doesn’t.

 

“So long, Chuuya...”

 

And perhaps, he doesn’t need to…

Perhaps, like this…

…It’s okay.

 

“We’ll always be partners, you and I…”

 

And as Dazai’s words, now memories like water, continue to stream through his head, Chuuya merely places a hand over his black heart, bled dry as it still beats within him…

 

Such a wonderful thing…

 

Pale-blue slips away in soft relinquishment and doesn’t stir for a long, long time…

 

To be human.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

A whisp of ocean wind travels across the land, from the skies and into the hillside, a million leaves rustling in their disturbance as branches bend and bark creaks like an old staircase.

Pale-blue turns a soft lavender as it meets the sunset again, burning reds reflecting upon glass eyes.

 

It truly is the strangest thing…

For Chuuya would’ve never thought he could stare at such at such an image like this again.

Alive.

And in such peaceful tidings…

Though they might only last as long as the cherry blossoms bloom.

 

“We believe we have them all, Chuuya-san.”

Curtly, he nods to Michizou’s message spoken into his back, his eyes still stuck to the colourful paintings in the sky before him.

“Good.” Chuuya then sighs, smoothly turning around to meet those sharp, whiskey-shot eyes upon an ever-stern face.

“How is Q?”

Michizou appears thoughtful to his question for a moment, lips pouting lightly as he relaxes his stance somewhat.

“He’s being very quiet…though he’s giving us no trouble.”

 

Chuuya just nods again, steeled blue eyes falling on the small yet charming chalet next to them before his feet take off in said direction.

“Chuuya-san...” Michizou then starts, his voice questioning to which Chuuya halts his step.

“What must we do with the dolls?”

 

A second of silence passes over them, the evening breeze brushing over the swaying grass.

 

“Burn them.”

 

The moment those concise yet weighed words leave his lips, Chuuya simply re-instigates his steady pace towards the hide-out’s entrance.

 

It might be cruel, to take a child’s most beloved toys…

It’s far from such innocence, however.

And come tomorrow, Q will have found a way to make another anyway…

Such is the curse he possesses…

 

The timber underneath him creaks but gently with every tack of his feet against the old floorboards beneath, and as Chuuya passes another fortified door, he catches the small form, huddled up on an old wooden chair by the window.

“Congratulations, Q…” He starts, sarcasm slipping into his tone as he shoves his hands down his pockets and comes to a stand-still next to the other, who remains unperturbed by his presence.

“You actually managed to go four weeks without causing a scene this time…though I’m afraid, the boss isn’t pleased at all…”

 

A crease then forms in between those deviant eyes, Q’s tired expression finally morphing into something more compliant to what he’s known for…

Enmity.

 

“I’m just…tired of being here…” He mumbles rather quietly however, his voice oozing sorrow as if he’s wallowing in his own misery.

 

It annoys Chuuya.

Greatly so, at this utterly ungrateful behaviour. To think that Mori even had him placed here, in the countryside, far away from the ‘society’ Q despises so much…

Even though peace suffers that same fate.

 

“I want to…”

 

Indignation burns even deeper as Chuuya thinks back to all the unpredictable chaos and unnecessary casualties Q had caused them in the past…

All those lives underneath his command, blown out like candles for the sake of petty entertainment.

 

“I just want to go outside and…just…”

 

But despite that shimmer of resentment re-awakening in his blood, beckoning for vengeance, Chuuya knows…

He’s only a child, stuck in solitude…

 

“Q…” Chuuya starts, surprised at the softness of his own voice.

 

“I’m tired of living in a cage!”

 

Chuuya just frowns at the sudden, undisciplined snap, pointed at him through glaring eyes and laced with a certain desperation.

‘Aren’t we all…’

Is all that passes in his mind however as he moves closer to the other, crouches down in front of him as he watches the shapes in those eyes tremble slightly in intimidation.

And then Chuuya simply flicks him up the nose, the top of his middle finger nearly cutting the skin like a knife as Q yelps out in surprise, eyes flying shut as a hand reflexively dives for his face.

“If you want to get out of here, if you want more freedom…” He starts, his voice as calm as its stern.

“You’ll have to earn that, Yumeno.”

 

The weight of those words seems to down upon the other, his mismatched eyes growing wide as he removes a trembling hand from the lightly blemished tip of his nose.

And then, Q can only stare at Chuuya in unaltered shock…

As if he’s gone mad.

 

“Y-You hurt me…” He stutters in disbelief as well as confusion, his eyes trembling anew in the wake of what could be a most beautiful pandemonium, no doubt.

“W-what if I’ll curse you? What if I’ll-

“You won’t.”

Those two simple words are all that’s necessary to shut down Q’s panicked ramble, Chuuya’s stare unrelenting, confidence beaming from the blue in his eyes.

Abashed, his face washing over with that naivety still not outgrown, Q can only stare in question at Chuuya before voicing the predictable thought.

 

“Why not?”

 

Chuuya allows a sad smile to pass upon his lips, the image worth more than a thousand words as he rises up again and pale-blue turns away, back to the sun-burnt fields outside.

 

“Someday, you might understand…”

I’ve already made peace with all my demons…

 

Q only stares after him as Chuuya walks away, seems to remain in deep thought as a tiny frown stays put in his face.

 

And Chuuya can only hope that, for once, Q will listen to his words…

Loyalty and perseverance are what got himself so far, after all.

 

Embarking once again upon the Earth’s soil, he immediately catches the timid flames, burning brightly against the rapid fading of the day.

Nearing it, he’s already breathing in the cinders of wood and cursed cloth alike.

 

“Status?”

“It’s all been disposed of, Chuuya-san!” Michizou responds near-immediately, alert as ever despite the long, tiresome day.

Chuuya just smiles as he nods, returning his eyes to the flames as the wood snaps violently underneath the heat.

 

“Chuuya-san…”

“Hm?” He turns his head to the other a bit lazily, catches the wrinkle of worry crossing over the bandage on Michizou’s nose.

“Are you…alright?”

 

For a moment, his eyes widen in honest surprise at the carefully delivered question. Soft blue disappears again just as quickly however, as Chuuya allows a chuckle of pure amusement to pass by his throat.

He completely misses the flush of red to Michizou’s face because of it as his thoughts pull him backwards.

 

Chuuya remembers it, still…

His awaking in the Detective Agency, wearing renewed skin…

 

Still remembers Dazai’s words, now imprinted on his mind forevermore,

remembers slowly changing into his own clothes, feeling alienated in his own body,

remembers all the eyes turning towards him the moment he stepped into the agency’s office,

remembers that blond brat proudly parading around the place with Chuuya’s hat, before handing it back to him with a polite apology,

remembers Atsushi shying up towards him with that ever-innocent smile to offer him some tea once more,

remembers how none other than the agency's director, Fukuzawa Yukichi himself suddenly stood before him, surprising everyone in the room, Chuuya included, when the man bowed down before him to express his gratitude…

 

“I sincerely hope that, in the future, there won’t be a need to cross our swords anymore.”

 

And at that moment, Chuuya didn’t have any words to offer in return, for he didn’t have an answer.

Though, in his heart, he does hope for the same thing…

It’s only a little flame.

 

He remembers meeting Dazai’s carefully refolded eyes one more time before tipping his hat respectfully as a farewell while offering his own thanks for the troubles…

He hasn’t seen any of the agency’s members since.

 

Chuuya then realises Michizou is still staring at him rather oddly, obviously suppressing his confusion, probably wondering the meaning behind Chuuya’s self-absorbed chuckle as well as the sudden silence…

“Let’s get a drink later.” Is all Chuuya offers in return, however as he turns his smirking lips to the other’s now surprised face.

“My treat…”

 

The fire breathes its last breath right before the sun disappears underneath the skyline.

And while Michizou orders everyone to ready for departure, wearing this smile on his face as if he’s just been promoted, Chuuya can’t help but linger for just a moment longer, his blue gaze pulled up towards the lonesome clouds above as if it belongs there.

 

And as if he’s stuck in another cigarette daydream, his mind begins to run astray again…

Though this time, he doesn’t put up a fight.

 

 

 

You see…

When he took his first life, Chuuya thought he knew death.

 

Thought he understood what it meant as he watched the life bleed out of the chaste and sinful alike…

Thought he understood what it meant after embodying it himself, time and time again, as he let those vile roots tap into his heart and spread darkness through his veins like disease…

Thought he understood…now, after having stared right into its eyes, a mere breath away from being gripped by it for eternity…

 

But he doesn’t.

For he’s known death for far longer, from far before any of those things even happened…

 

For he has fought with it, side by side.

For he has been wounded, hurt, betrayed and saved by it…

For he has shared indescribable and ageless moments with it, coated in both grace and impurity…

For it is the song he sings again and again.

 

Yes, Chuuya has known death ever since he met it in the shape of a boy with darkness dancing behind his eyes.

A boy he watched grow into a man, with blood running through his veins as black as Chuuya’s own.

 

“We’ll always be partners, you and I…”

 

The crescent moon awakens,

the wind howls into the depths of the night as the fireflies roam the skies like embers…

And Chuuya returns to the place he calls home

 

And he will continue to walk down this path, paved with a thousand unmarked graves, taking his sentiments with him…

Allows them to remain in the depths of his blackened heart that keeps breaking his head, as the key to his cage, the centre for when he splits away…

 

“Isn’t that right…”

 

Forlorn, Chuuya smiles.

Because he knows that whatever is next to come…

 

Death will always be there, waiting for him.

                                                               

“Dazai?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more I get used to it, the more I endure

This painful solitude

Without  my realizing it, they fall, sudden and strange

Tears, which are no longer tears of love…

 

 

Noir ; 黒

End.