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Playing the Long Game

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Chuuya placed his gloves on the table, steeling himself. Dazai was already on the couch in Chuuya's living room, a sight Chuuya had gotten used to coming home to in the past year since they'd started having sex and, eventually, seeing each other socially—as much of a label as Chuuya was willing to put on it.

Now he was hoping to make that sight just a little more permanent and he was, he had to admit, nervous.

"Dazai," he said carefully. "I'm home."

"Ah, welcome home." He stood as Chuuya came over, giving him a quick kiss on the forehead. Chuuya felt as silly as he had the first time Dazai did that, but he never stopped liking it.

"I got you something." He pulled out a little box—just something he'd had lying around to put the present in—and all but shoved it into Dazai's hands.

"What's this?" Dazai said, opening the box and staring.

"It's a set of keys to my apartment," he blurted out in a rush.

Dazai studied the keys, squinting at them as though he'd never seen a set of keys before. "Oh? Are you finally getting locks that are harder to pick?"

"You've been picking my—no, no, nevermind." He took a deep breath. "I am giving you the keys to my apartment because I want to move forward in our relationship."

Dazai shifted awkwardly. He opened his mouth and closed it. The bottom of Chuuya's stomach dropped. Seeing Dazai speechless was a treat but not when it looked like he was getting ready to stomp all over Chuuya's heart.

He swallowed. "If you don't want to, whatever. I just thought it'd be more convenient."

"It would be... more convenient, indeed, to have a key." Dazai was tiptoeing carefully over his words. Chuuya braced for a rejection, but he had never backed down from a fight in his life and he was sure of what he wanted, even if Dazai would think it was ridiculous.

"I mean I want you to move in with me!" Chuuya shouted. "Or at least bring some stuff over!"

Dazai's mouth formed into a little oh of surprise. "What brought this on?"

"It's our anniversary, you worthless floppy-haired moron!" Chuuya shouted. "We've been fucking regularly for a year!"

Dazai's eyes widened. "Chuuya! I had no idea you paid attention to such things!" He wrapped his gangly arms around Chuuya's shoulders and pulled him into a tight hug. "Who knew my partner was such a romantic! I didn't get you anything because—"

"Shut up," Chuuya pressed his face against Dazai's chest, smelling his clean shirt. "I don't need your excuses. Just give me an answer."

"Yes!" Dazai laughed into Chuuya's hair. "Yes, of course I'll move in with you! Chuuya, I'm so happy, you have no idea—"

Chuuya was too embarrassed to listen to anything beyond Dazai's answer, so he kissed Dazai quickly to stop him from babbling romantic nonsense. It was probably only half true, anyway. What mattered was that he'd said yes.

---

A week later, Chuuya started to get nervous. Dazai hadn't mentioned moving in again. He hadn't brought any of his things over, as far as he could tell, and he was there only as much as he always was. Maybe he had pushed this too fast and Dazai didn't know how to tell him.

Or worse, maybe Dazai was laughing at him secretly, for wanting to do something so romantic as move in together. All of his earlier doubts came back: it didn't suit them, this sort of commitment, and Dazai knew it so he was hoping Chuuya would quietly forget he'd ever asked so they could continue on as though they were casual sex friends forever.

Fuck that noise. Chuuya decided to confront him over dinner one night.

"If you don't want to move in with me, just say so."

Dazai placed his chopsticks carefully on their rest. "I do want to move in with you."

"You haven't brought any of your stuff over!"

Dazai gestured to a black shopping bag on the floor by the door. "That's stuff."

"That's barely any stuff. You're a ridiculous human being but you must have clothes, at least."

Dazai rubbed the back of his neck. "My clothes are... around?"

That didn't make any sense. Chuuya narrowed his eyes at him. "Don't you have furniture? What about your apartment?" Maybe there were some rental logistics involved. "When is your lease up?"

"I broke my lease," Dazai counted on his fingers slowly, "two months ago?"

"Two months—Where have you been living?"

Dazai didn't answer, but he looked cautiously around the apartment. "You know. Here and there."

The apartment was spacious but now that Chuuya looked around, it did seem somewhat different. The change had been gradual, so maybe he couldn't be blamed for not noticing: a new pile of books here, an extra ottoman there. His shelves of beauty products in the bathroom were as crowded as ever, but now he seemed to remember there being some new additions, things he would never buy on his own. Extra bandages.

He stood up and stomped to the bedroom. He pulled open the closet, letting the door slam against the wall. Sure enough, hidden behind his own clothes, was a line of pants and suits that would have been much too long for Chuuya.

Dazai stood in the doorway, watching with a sheepish grin. Chuuya could have punched him.

"You!" He pointed. "You moved in with me!"

He shrugged. "I was wondering when you'd notice."

"So when I was giving you those keys, you were just laughing at me?"

"No, not at all—"

"'Haha, Chuuya's so stupid he didn't even notice I've been squatting in his apartment for'—how long? Months?"

"Can you really put a number on the precious time we've spent together?"

He was too far away to throttle easily, so Chuuya ripped his clothes from their hangers and gathered them up in his arms. "No more!" He pulled open the balcony door and tossed them out.

Dazai rushed to the balcony door. "I need those for work!"

"What do you mean? I'm just taking the trash out of my own apartment," he snapped. He bent down to the dresser which he had noticed was feeling a little cramped. He pulled open the bottom drawer and started digging. Sure enough, hidden under his own clothes, was a layer of Dazai's. He scooped out the entire set and tossed them out onto the balcony too.

The pile outside was teetering a little, though it hadn't yet fallen into the bay below. Chuuya would have to give it a last dramatic kick once he was done, and maybe kick Dazai over the railing too while he was at it.

"I thought you wanted me to move in with you," Dazai said.

"I did, as a sign of trust and commitment in our—whatever this is! Relationship! Not because of your typical sneaky bullshit!" He tossed the contents of the second drawer out the door too.

He pulled open the top drawer, but Dazai was suddenly very close, leaning into him. "Wait, wait, Chuuya, calm down."

"Stop that," Chuuya snapped and started grabbing anything in the drawer that didn't look like it belonged to him.

"Not that one." Dazai stopped Chuuya's hand on a small black velvet bag. "It's a present for you."

Chuuya eyed him suspiciously. "A present for what? Kissing ass when your little plot gets found out?"

"No, a present for our anniversary."

That was even fishier. "Our anniversary was last week," Chuuya pointed out.

"You were counting our anniversary from the first time we had sex, remember, in that warehouse during that case—"

"The smuggling deal you so helpfully ruined for me?"

Dazai smiled. "Yes, you were very cute and mad. Anyway, I was counting our anniversary from our first date, because I am nothing if not a romantic—"

Chuuya remembered exactly when Dazai meant. "You mean the time you stalked me to that Italian restaurant and embarrassed me—"

"—you didn't seem embarrassed when I was sucking you off under the table. You seemed like you were enjoying yourself actually."

"We were banned for life! They have a wine list two hundred pages long!"

"I got us a reservation for Friday."

"I—What? How?"

Dazai shrugged. "Made a few calls. So I was planning to give you this then," he snatched the bag out from under Chuuya's hand, "but you jumped the gun, so I guess I'll give it to you now. If you still want it." He dangled it in front of him.

Internally, Chuuya struggled. Kick Dazai out on the street where he belonged, since he was a homeless freeloader, or get the anniversary present he hadn't expected to get from Dazai in a thousand years? But then, when did Dazai ever match his expectations?

"I want it," he mumbled.

Dazai smirked. He pulled from the bag a small black box. He stepped towards Chuuya so Chuuya had to choose between looking up at his face or at the box in his hand.

He opened the box to reveal a ring, onyx set in black metal.

He leaned close to Chuuya's ear. "What do you think? Marry me?"

Chuuya had a brief heart attack. All the blood in his body rushed to his head and stayed there. It felt a lot like anger, the usual emotion he'd admit to having around Dazai, so he fell back on his usual recourse: an angry outburst.

"If you're going to just ask like that, at least get down on one knee!"

Dazai got down on both knees. He pressed his face to Chuuya's stomach and wrapped his arms around his back.

"What are you doing! Get off!" Chuuya said but he sunk his hands into Dazai's hair.

"Chuu~ya! Please!" Dazai whined.

"Are you serious?"

"Of course." Dazai leaned back and grabbed Chuuya's hand. "Look," he slipped the ring on to Chuuya's finger. It fit perfectly. "Would I go this far as a joke?" He kissed Chuuya's palm.

"You would," Chuuya said, but he stared at the ring. It did suit him. He cupped Dazai's chin and stroked his cheek with his thumb. Dazai leaned into it and Chuuya tugged a little, pulling him up. He spread his hand out again to study it, feel its weight, as Dazai stood before him.

He glared at him. "You better have gotten a ring for yourself too! I'm not gonna be the only one wearing a ring while you—oh."

Dazai lifted a matching ring from the bottom of the box. Double black for double black. "So is that a yes?"

"What does it matter? It won't even be legal."

"That just means we won't have to do any paperwork before we get to the wedding night!"

"You're a pervert," he said but he wrapped his arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss. On the tip of his tongue, he thought he could taste Dazai's seriousness under the joking demeanor, like salt and smoke with a hint of copper. How deep that feeling went, Chuuya didn't know—but he pulled him to bed, wanting to test it.

---

Several hours later, Chuuya curled up in bed wearing nothing but the damn ring. Dazai, next to him, wore his usual absurd array of bandages and his damn ring.

"You haven't said yes yet." Dazai stroked his side lightly. "Unless I should count all those screams of yes! yes—"

"Fuck you," Chuuya said.

"Not until you agree to make an honest man out of me."

"Impossible," he muttered, curling his hand around Dazai's neck to kiss him lazily. "Were you worried I'd say no?"

"Not exactly," Dazai hedged.

Chuuya sat up. "But you thought I'd be more likely to say yes if you were already living here. Am I right?"

He half-nodded, half-drooped his head in a typically noncommittal response. "I thought it would offer evidence, of a sort."

"That we'd be able to make it work?" Chuuya sighed. Not like it would have occurred to Dazai that manipulating someone into marrying you wasn't the best way to start a life together. A thought struck him. "You said you broke your lease two months ago—have you been planning to propose since then?"

"Honestly I just got tired of my apartment," Dazai said. Chuuya felt a twinge of disappointment, but then Dazai continued. "I've been planning to propose to you since you came so hard in my mouth you overturned a table full of fettuccine and Cabernet while everyone in the nicest Italian restaurant in Yokohama watched."

A year ago. Chuuya swallowed. "Are you only marrying me for sex? Because you might not have noticed, but I don't have any objection to premarital relations."

"Fine," Dazai propped himself up on his elbows, suddenly serious. "I've been planning to propose to you since we were fifteen. But doesn't that sound too sappy for us?"

It did. Chuuya tried not to smile. "The seating arrangements are going to be difficult," he said. "Since everyone we know hates each other."

Dazai stared at him and then broke out in a wide grin. After a second, though, his expression darkened. "You're not inviting Mori Ogai to our wedding."

"He's my boss!"

"He's a creep. Quit your job and be a housewife."

"Who do you think pays for this apartment—hey! Wait a minute! You've been living here for months rent free!"

Dazai pouted. "You'd demand rent from your devoted fiancé?"

"Damn right I would!" He smashed a pillow against Dazai's head. "Pay up, you deadbeat!"

"Aww, Chuuya—this won't matter when we combine our accounts!"

"I'm not combining my finances with a swindler!"

"But you criminals make so much more money than us honest folk—"

"A joint account for expenses that we both pay into!" He punctuated the sentence with another smack of the pillow. "But we keep separate accounts!"

"So modern," Dazai murmured. "I imagined you as a little wife taking care of the paychecks I bring home—"

"If that's what you want, go back to begging waitresses to love suicide with you!" Chuuya snarled.

Dazai kissed the ring on Chuuya's finger, so abruptly sweet that all the annoyance left Chuuya like air from a pierced balloon. "I don't think I will."

"Good," Chuuya said and intertwined their fingers. "Then yes." He closed his eyes. Dazai squeezed his hand and they didn't argue again for the rest of the night.