A week passed.
Ango went through each day without thinking. He detached his emotions from his work tasks, going through them mechanically. The hardest had been the first day, when he had to change Odasaku’s file. He hadn’t quite been able to detach from that.
He didn’t even know where the man was buried.
Dazai disappeared and didn’t contact him. For that, Ango was grateful. The way they’d left things made Ango think that the next time they met, Dazai would be out for blood. Especially because of Odasaku.
Ango wanted to explain. He wanted to reach out. But to do so would be risking a lot, and Ango was a smart man. He didn’t take unnecessary risks.
He wasn’t good at reaching out.
He watched the Port Mafia readjust to losing an Executive while gaining a victory from a distance. The dust settled, and Ango moved on to the files of other Ability users.
Odasaku’s file was closed and put away with the deceased.
Ango thought that he should have told Odasaku, before everything happened, that he didn’t want to be a traitor. That his feelings towards him and Dazai were of genuine friendship. That he hadn’t been using them.
He had to let that go, too.
It was midnight by the time he left the office. He couldn’t remember the work of the day, only that there had been a lot. He trudged back to his apartment, taking a different route than he had the previous day. He varied his route slightly each day in case he was being watched. One could never be too careful.
Always, he made sure to alternate nights stopping at a convenience store or vending machine. It would vary the time it took for him to get home, although this week he had slacked on switching it up. Every night since Odasaku died, he had stopped in a convenience store to get a drink.
Nothing alcoholic. Just tomato juice. It tasted like the soft yellow lights at the Bar Lupin.
He exited the convenience store tonight with his tomato juice in hand. His apartment was fifteen minutes away, and he avoided the larger roads. Instead, he walked down poorly lit streets that could only fit one car, a bit of a roundabout route, but he was less likely to encounter anyone there.
Ten minutes away from his apartment, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He couldn’t say why, but his training had attuned his senses to notice most things before they were noticeable. He placed a hand on the holster of his gun just in case.
Something slammed into him and his back hit the wall of a nearby building. Ango tried to smash the gun into his assailant's head, but his attacker seemed to be trained in combat as well. He grabbed Ango’s wrist and forced it down, while his other hand wrapped around Ango’s throat.
A small hand.
It was hard to make out in the darkness, but after the shock of being attacked started to fade into calm, Ango could analyze his attacker. A slow, sinking feeling took over with each new detail he realized: the small hands, the hat, the long coat, the long hair curled over one shoulder.
His attacker was Nakahara Chuuya.
Ango wasn’t sure how to take this. He’d made a deal with Mori to spare his life, so Nakahara couldn’t kill him. Whether that meant Nakahara wouldn’t kill him, Ango wasn’t so sure. He’d previously worked with Nakahara, providing him with information on several organizations and Ability users, and Nakahara had come across as a strange combination of polite, too blunt, and impulsive.
Nakahara raised his head, and Ango saw for the first time what feeling had motivated this attack. His blue eyes were filled with rage.
Ango dropped his gun.
Nakahara let go of Ango’s wrist and something silver flashed in the dark right before Ango felt a cold blade against his throat.
“You’ve been tracking me,” he said quietly.
“You’re damn right,” Nakahara hissed. “A traitor like you should be killed for what you’ve done, but you’re lucky you were so useful. Still, it’s tempting to slit your throat anyway.”
Ango didn’t need to remind Nakahara of Mori’s orders. He was sure that Nakahara already knew, and didn’t care.
Another word came to mind. Emotional.
It hadn’t been something Ango experienced himself around Nakahara, but he’d heard Dazai complain about it. If that was the truth, and from the hatred in Nakahara’s eyes it looked like it was, Ango could use those emotions.
“Why did you seek me out?” he asked. “To kill me? If that was the reason you probably would have used a gun. I didn’t even notice you were tracking me. But you chose a knife.”
“I prefer knives,” Nakahara said, his voice hard. “Your attempts at throwing people off your scent were laughable.”
“It’s been an off week, I’m afraid.”
The knife bit into Ango’s skin. “Don’t you dare act like anything that’s happened has an effect on you, traitor.”
Ango wanted to insist that it did, but that would have been suicide.
Instead he said, “What do you want? You haven’t killed me yet, so you must want something.”
Nakahara looked away for a moment and took a deep breath. When he looked back, his expression was a calmer version of pissed off.
“You know that idiot Dazai decided to follow your lead, right?” he asked, his voice artificially light. “That bastard left the Mafia.”
“I did notice,” Ango said. His department was keeping tabs on Dazai at this very moment, though passively.
“You have records of him,” Nakahara continued. “Of everything he’s done while in the Mafia. That sort of thing...would make it impossible for him to start a new life, wouldn’t it?”
“It would be difficult,” Ango said.
“If the right people asked, they’d be able to get those records, right?”
“They would.” Ango refrained from telling Nakahara that he was not among the right people.
“You’ve been keeping track of his whereabouts,” Nakahara said.
“I can’t tell you where he is or what he’s doing,” Ango said.
Nakahara’s lips curled. “I don’t want to know what he’s doing.”
“Then what is this?” Ango asked.
Nakahara removed the knife from Ango’s throat, but kept his other hand there. Ango noticed how his hand tightened around the handle of the knife and then relaxed, repeatedly, in the seconds that Nakahara hesitated.
“Erase the records.”
Ango wasn’t sure he’d heard properly. “What?”
“Erase that idiot’s records,” Nakahara repeated.
Ango stared at him. Nakahara stared back, his expression hard and for once, unreadable. Or maybe it wasn’t that he was hiding emotions, but rather that there were too many competing to be expressed properly.
He also looked tired, Ango realized.
Dazai had been Nakahara’s partner. Ango had only seen the partnership from one side, through what Dazai told him. When Ango and Nakahara met, they never had time to talk, so Nakahara never commented on Dazai. The two of them had been the most powerful partnership the Port Mafia had ever seen.
And Nakahara was one of the most loyal to the Port Mafia.
Ango felt like he had missed something very important.
“Why?” he asked.
Nakahara snarled and drove his knife into the wall, inches from Ango’s face. He lowered his head, breathing hard.
Ango heard him say, quietly, “For fuck’s sake.”
Then he raised his head. “You were his friend, weren’t you? Or was that a lie?”
No one had asked Ango that. “It wasn’t,” he said, softly.
“Then what’s so damn hard about understanding what I’m asking?” Nakahara yanked the knife out of the wall and let go of Ango’s throat. “But if that’s not enough, I’ll do something for you.”
“Something,” Ango repeated.
“Something you need,” Nakahara said.
Ango blinked. “Do you think it would make a difference?”
“I don’t know what the hell happened,” Nakahara said, “but I just--fuck--you can do it, can’t you?”
“I can,” Ango said.
“Whatever you want,” Nakahara said. “I’ll do it.
It wasn’t begging, but it was perilously close. From the way Nakahara gritted his teeth as he said it, it seemed he was aware of that, too. Ango got the impression that Nakahara wasn’t a man who begged at all. He really wanted this.
The request that made no sense. Ango wondered if Dazai had known the depth of Nakahara’s feelings. He wondered if Dazai would truly appreciate this, or if he would even realize what had been done to ensure the possibility of a future for him.
Ango adjusted his glasses. “I will make sure that Dazai won’t be tracked any longer, and I will purge his records. He’ll disappear to the government.”
Nakahara’s shoulders sagged, and he rubbed his hand over his face. Ango wondered how much Nakahara had worried about what would happen if his request was refused.
“Thank you. I’m in your debt,” Nakahara said after a moment, his voice flat. “I’m sure you won’t have a problem finding me when you need to.”
Ango watched as Nakahara walked down the poorly lit street, dwarfed by the tall buildings. He looked almost vulnerable. Then he disappeared around a corner, and Ango pushed himself away from the wall.
He only now noticed that he’d dropped his tomato juice. He hadn’t opened it yet, luckily, and the can remained intact. He picked it up off the pavement and started the rest of his walk towards the apartment.
The city suddenly felt suffocating.
Odasaku had never known the truth. Neither had Dazai. For Ango, there would be no closure.
He hoped that Nakahara at least would have some.