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i didn't awaken with a sense of purpose anymore

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“To be honest, you scare me.”

“What?”

“The way you looked at me before I touched you, it was almost like you weren’t human anymore.”

*

Chuuya didn’t remember a thing.

Mori prodded him like he was some kind of lab rat. Dazai stood in the corner with his arms folded over his chest, one unbandaged eye staring unblinkingly at Chuuya. His expression was blank, but Chuuya could practically feel animosity radiating off him.

Chuuya couldn’t blame him. He felt uncomfortable under the glare of the lights and he hated the way Mori’s eyes swept over his body. He couldn’t do anything. There was no hiding what had happened, no matter how much he wanted to. Even if Dazai hadn’t planned on telling, the other Mafia agents had witnessed the destruction.

When Chuuya woke up in the arms of his partner, the first thing he’d done was blurt out, “You look scared.”

Dazai was never scared.

Dazai had buried the emotion and snapped, “I can’t believe you can’t control your own ability, idiot.”

The idea of not being able to control himself made Chuuya feel ill. To think that his life or death relied on the touch of one person...he didn’t want to think about it.

The worst thing for a twelve year old in the Mafia was learning that he had to be dependent on someone else.

*

Chuuya felt restless often.

It started after Dazai left the Mafia. At first, Chuuya thought that he was looking for Dazai despite his best efforts to move on. But a year on and he kept throwing himself into missions. He kept going and going and going.

Maybe he was trying to prove his worth.
He didn’t need much sleep. He needed to move. Mori sent him on missions outside of the city and abroad. Chuuya always asked for more. If he was stuck in Yokohama, he would accompany Black Lizard. If he was abroad, he’d go out looking for fights.

Seeing Dazai after four years was a shock to the system.

Suddenly, running into fights wasn’t enough. He wanted to tear off his own skin.

*

His hands were always the first to go.

He came out of Corruption with his hands bleeding. Sometimes, almost every bone would end up broken.

Chuuya had dreams about not being able to use his hands because they’d become stiff with badly healed injuries, fingers curled in like claws. He wondered when Corruption would start tearing parts of his body away, until he became nothing.

He often dreamed about the skin of his arms splitting open, and bleeding out until he disappeared.

*

Chuuya wrote poetry.

He had notebooks dedicated to his poems. In the years since Dazai had left, he had created almost a library for himself. He hardly ever went back to read what he’d written.

The day Dazai returned, Chuuya opened a fresh notebook. He wrote until his hand could barely push the pen forward.

He couldn’t remember what the poem had been, but some of the pages were shredded when he finally dropped his pen. The words were illegible.

His heart wouldn’t stop beating so fast. He wanted to write more.

He drank himself into a restless sleep.

*

“You look like a monster, Chuuya.”

Chuuya’s head shot up from where he’d been writing his report. Dazai balanced on the edge of his desk.

“Maybe one day I’ll get a picture.”

“What are you talking about?” Chuuya snapped.

Dazai tapped his fingers on the desk. He wouldn’t look Chuuya in the eye. “When you’re using Corruption. Your skin goes all black like it’s rotting off, and your eyes roll back in your head, and you start leaking blood. Disgusting.”

“No one asked for your opinion,” Chuuya muttered, returning his attention to his report. He typed, “do not wake me again” where he should have typed “corpse” and hastily backspaced.

“You wanted to know,” Dazai said.

“Since when did I ask?”

Dazai only hummed in response.

*

He wanted to kill.

Chuuya straddled the body, his hands flying to the delicate throat and squeezing. There were no screams. Chuuya crushed the bones with ease, split the skin, and crushed the head right off its neck.

The head rolled off the bed with a heavy thud and rolled into the doorway. Chuuya followed its progress.

The head hit the doorframe and stopped, face-up.

Chuuya stared at Dazai.

He opened his eyes, gasping, and pushed himself off his bed. He was the only one there. He staggered into the bathroom and fumbled with the lights, glancing at the mirror. He caught the pale blur of his face and looked down at his hands.

His saw black tendrils creeping up his arms.

He felt like he’d been shocked.

He didn’t know how he managed to get the knife, nor did he feel when he carved into his right arm and stripped away chunks of skin. Blood splattered onto the floor and the sink.

The pain kicked in only after Chuuya had worked his way up most of his arm. He dropped the knife, shaking, and hastily searched for the bandages. He wrapped his destroyed arm, and blood soaked through the cloth.

His fingers twitched, still restless. He needed something. He needed-

*

Four years.

The words clawed their way up his throat. They repeated over and over in his head like a song he couldn’t stop singing. They filled a notebook that he didn’t remember writing.

He gripped the cellphone like it was a lifeline. If only that stupid idiot would pick up. He wanted to scream. He kept calm. The phone rang and rang and Chuuya kept dialing. Every minute that Dazai didn’t pick up was another minute that Chuuya drove further from the city center. In a strange way, he was grateful.

The car swerved. He jerked the wheel and cursed under his breath. The curse was Dazai’s name. He couldn’t wait for Dazai to pick up.

He came upon a park and stopped the car.

This was still within the city limits, but it was the best he could do. He got out of the car and fell onto his knees in the grass. His eyes burned. His throat burned. He retched, over and over again. His phone lay discarded just out of reach.

He didn’t want this. He didn’t want this. It didn’t matter what he wanted.

The phone rang. Chuuya fell forward, snatching it in his hands. He could barely hold his head up. Grass tickled his cheek, and he brought the phone to his ear.

“You know, phone stalking me won’t get you very far,” Dazai said in his ear. Chuuya gritted his teeth. “I can’t believe after all these years, the little hat rack is still obsessed with-”

“Dazai,” Chuuya choked. “I can’t stop it. I c-can’t.”

“Can’t stop what, Chuuya?” Dazai sounded bored. Chuuya wanted to scream.

“I need...you to stop...my Ability.”

There was a pause, and Chuuya could almost feel the seconds passing. Then--

“Wait for me.”

Dazai hung up.

*

Dazai was never scared.

That was a lie, but it was a lie he liked to tell himself often. He didn’t get scared. When he pulled up next to Chuuya’s car and didn’t see Chuuya sitting in the driver’s seat, he wasn’t scared. When he found Chuuya face-down in the grass, dirt ripped up by his hands, he didn’t feel scared. When he saw the bloodstained bandages wrapped around Chuuya’s right arm, he wasn’t scared.

He knelt down in front of Chuuya and slipped his fingers underneath Chuuya’s chin, lifting his head. Chuuya’s eyes were wide, pupils so large that Dazai could only see a sliver of blue. Chuuya stared at him, and then he sighed, his eyes slipping shut.

Dazai hooked his arms under Chuuya’s, pulling him up. Chuuya didn’t move, not even when Dazai pulled him into a sitting position and held him close.

Corruption didn’t scare him. It was what Corruption did to Chuuya when it hadn’t been used in a while that kept Dazai from changing his phone number.

He’d held Chuuya like this too many times, staving off the hunger of Corruption for just a little while longer.

Chuuya never remembered. Just like when he used Corruption, he always woke up disoriented and completely at a loss as to what happened.

After some time, Dazai dragged Chuuya back to his car. He propped Chuuya against the driver’s side door. And then he drove away.

Four years. Five times. Dazai started counting the minutes as he drove away.