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Misrouting

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Chuuya has no idea how many times he’s been inside this same goddamn book.

He has nothing against Natsume, but he might start to hate him if it takes even one more day to clear out his novel. They’ve been trying to purify this book for a full week now. Almost always, they end up getting lost in the fog and leave without being able to find the main enemy. The one time they did find the leader Taint a couple days ago, it got a lucky hit on an already injured Kunikida and they had to retreat or risk his breaking down.

Chuuya has nothing against Kunikida either, but sometimes after getting lost in the fog again, he wonders how bad it would really have been to sacrifice Kunikida in order to move on from this same fucking book. At least Kunikida apologized for not dodging properly.

The sight of the Taint with the huge spears is a relief, but not much of one. Chuuya’s sure that if they don’t manage to kill it this time either, he’ll have to drain the library’s entire supply of alcohol just to calm down.

He gets in a good shot to start the battle. The Taint chooses to target Ranpo first, which is fine - even if he gets a spear to the face, he can take it better than Chuuya or Kunikida can. Kunikida shoots the Taint in the side while it’s attacking Ranpo, and Ango throws knives at it until it backs off some. Ranpo’s whip cracks, and even though he’s the weakest of the group it might make the difference between success and yet another failure.

The Taint drives a spear through Ango’s side, and Chuuya winces, because even if Ango’s the strongest defensively that looked like a nasty wound.

Sympathy turns into irritation quickly, and Chuuya growls. “If we have to go back again because of you I’ll punch your lights in, Ango-!”

Despite the obvious pain, Ango cracks a grin. “Shouldn’t you be trying to pitch in more instead of trying something impossible for you?”

Chuuya snarls, but his gun is aimed at the Taint instead of Ango, which he thinks is very restrained of him. The bullet drives the Taint back far enough to where Ango can throw another knife, Kunikida gets another shot in, and-

The Taint dissolves into nothing. While the air around them lightens as the book is purified, the four authors stand silently.

“We won,” Kunikida says, after a moment. Stunned disbelief rapidly gives way to delight. “We won’t have to do this again!”

“I was growing quite bored of this place,” Ranpo says with a sigh, while Chuuya starts to laugh.

As for Ango, he whoops in joy, then grabs Chuuya’s shoulders, and Chuuya only has a moment to be startled out of his laughter before Ango leans down and kisses him.

Chuuya vaguely processes Ranpo’s whistle and Kunikida’s amused murmur of, “That’s one way to celebrate,” but those sounds are unimportant compared to the fact that Ango is kissing him. ‘Enthusiastically’ is the only way he can think to describe it, unless ‘why is this happening??’ counts as a description.

About the time he gets to considering whether he wants to kiss back or not is when Ango pulls away. He’s grinning, his face flushed, and he looks completely unapologetic for what he just did. It’s possible Ango has never apologized for anything in his life.

Chuuya has never thought of that as being attractive before now. His own cheeks are burning, and when he says, “W-warn someone when you’re going to do something stupid like that,” it doesn’t sound nearly as irritated and unaffected as he’d wanted it to.

Ango’s smile only gets wider. “Sure, sure, I’ll warn you next time.”

Embarrassment will kill Chuuya long before any Taints will.