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Akutagawa Ryuunosuke gazed at the bottom of the upper bunk listening as the clock over the desk he had claimed quietly tick each second. His dorm was small and stuffy, it contained a bunk bed, two small desks, two dressers, a small fridge, a door leading to a cramped bathroom, and a small bookshelf. He had left his home at three thirty that morning to come to the boarding school he had been attending for two years. The school was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but a vast plain. The nearest town was ten minutes away driving at least forty miles an hour. But if any of the students wanted to walk there it would take close to an hour and by then the staff would realize their absence and quickly catch up.

A nearby church bell dinged multiple times. 8 in the morning. Akutagawa had been waiting for some sign that Dazai had arrived for an hour now. He was bored at the beginning and he was bored now.

Tweedledee has created the chat "HALP!" with SupremeOverlord and 3 others

 

Tweedledee: Where are you? I’m doing my best not to have a complete PANIC attack but when does that ever work?

 

SupremeOverlord: You can survive thirty more minutes Ryuunosuke

 

Tweedledee: Can I? CAN I?! What do I do when this random kid who I’ve probably never talked to nor have I ever wanted to talk to walks through the door?

 

Tweedledee: Do I say hi? Do I remain silent? WHAT DO I DO!?

 

No. 2: Ryuunosuke, first, breathe! Second, you’re going to be fine, just because someone messed up our normal operation *cough cough* Dazai *cough cough* doesn’t mean everything is going to go to shit within the first fifteen minutes of you’re day.

 

No. 2: *your

Tweedledum: Unlike the two of you who live ten minutes away from this hell hole (and somehow manage to take thirty minutes to an hour to get here?) We have been up since 3 AM! THREE FUCKING AM!

 

No. 2: Language.

 

Tweedledum has changed the chat name to "Sorry Mom"

 

Odeadsaku: You’re going to be fine Ryuunosuke. If this kid gives you any guff just threaten them by saying Dazai will rip their fingers from their hands and shove them down their throat, or something similar.

 

SupremeOverlord: Oda is right, I’ll glady follow through with that threat as well :)

 

Tweedledum: glady?

 

SupremeOverlord: Fuck off

 

No. 2: I just scolded your daughter Dazai do I need to scold you as well?

 

SupremeOverlord: No, mother.

 

Tweedledee: THAT DOESNT HELP!!!

 

SupremeOverlord: It may help to know hes a newbe. His name is Nakajima Atsushi and he’s transphobic from another school.

 

Tweedledum: Right after summer break, if they’re anything like Ryuu they would have been panicking through back to school presents. (Which he was thanks to this new development). Also, ttransphobic? know it was auto-correct but how did you butcher the spelling of transferring so bad it changed it to transphobic ?

 

SupremeOverlord: F-you too.

 

No. 2:

 

SupremeOverlord: I didn’t write it out all the way!

 

No. 2: That doesn’t make it any better, and Gin he probably wrote, ‘Transphorbic’ or something similar.

 

Odeadsaku: Or he was thinking about multiple things at once and that’s what was typed out.

 

Tweedledee: Could we please get back to me HAVING A PANIC ATTACK!???!!?!?!?!?!!!

 

SupremeOverlord: Nakajima Atsushi, he was apparently sent here by his orphanage after he was accused of stealing multiple cars. Nakajima technically feigned innocence since the police found the evidence they needed under his mattress.

 

Tweedledum: Thats a stupid reason. If he was living in an orphanage anyone could have put the evidence on him. Heck we’ve frame people who’s room hasn’t been in the same building as one of us at this school.

 

No. 2: It’s *whose* Gin, and look at you using big words like “feigned” Dazai, I’m so proud of you.

 

SupremeOverlord: (ᵔᴥᵔ)

 

Tweedledum: And the grammar nazi has appeared. Quick, everyone start using perfect punctuation.

 

Odeadsaku: I wouldn’t worry too much Ryuunosuke, just greet him customarily and you can ignore him from then on.

 

SupremeOverlord: That’s true unless…

 

Tweedledee: He’s like us?

 

SupremeOverlord: Bingo! If he is like us bring him to Oda’s room. I’ll be there from 9-10:30 prepping some new school year ceremony fiascos. Make sure you’re there as well Gin. If all of us deem him worthy we’ll help him to survive this high school.

 

Odeadsaku: What are you going to make him do to prove himself?

 

SupremeOverlord: That’s for me to know. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

No. 2 has left the chat room

SupremeOverlord has added No. 2

 

SupremeOverlord: YOU CAN NOT ESCAPE ME! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

No. 2: I can escape whoever the hell I want to!

No. 2 has left the chat room

SupremeOverlord has added No. 2

 

SupremeOverlord: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

SupremeOverlord: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

No. 2: If you don’t stop I’m not kissing you for the next two weeks.

 

SupremeOverlord: Party pooper!

 

Tweedledum: Ryuu? Are you still breathing?

 

Tweedledee: Maybe?

 

SupremeOverlord: Ugh! Kouyou is making us head back to the car now.

 

Odeadsaku: Where are you?

 

SupremeOverlord: That’s for us to know. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

No. 2: DAZAI!

 

SupremeOverlord: sorry

 

Akutagawa set down his phone and groaned. Normally Dazai was able to pull enough strings to where Oda and he were able to crash together despite the grade difference. But apparently, Dazai had forgotten. Nobody in their group believed that excuse but no one said anything either.

Nakajima was about to be brought to the harsh reality that he was now in the same room as one of the members of the most troublesome groups in this school. But also the most socially awkward of the group. Akutagawa and Odasaku normally didn’t interact with anyone because they had the lively Gin and Dazai, and occasionally Chuuya, to do so. But Oda still did talk to the other students since he was one of the best tutors this school has probably ever seen.

Akutagawa however never talked to anyone. Dazai had forced Akutagawa into a social situation before where he had to talk to a girl who had been fawning over Akutagawa for a while in order to get information. It went horribly wrong for two reasons. One, Akutagawa sucked at talking to strangers and two, Akutagawa wasn’t interested in this girl or in any girl for that matter. He didn’t know the first thing about flirting with a girl. He didn’t know the first thing about flirting with guys either so he was at a loss there.

 

Tweedledee has created the chat "DAZAI HALP!" with SupremeOverlord

 

Tweedledee: Seriously Dazai, what do you want me to do?

 

SupremeOverlord: Just be as chill as possible. You know that new musical?

 

Tweedledee: You mean Be More Chill?

 

SupremeOverlord: Just pretend the Squip is talking to you and telling you what to say why are you so panicked anyways?

 

Tweedledee: I guess it’s mainly because I don’t know when he’s going to arrive. So im afraid I’ll be in the midst of this huge panic attack when he does.

 

SupremeOverlord: Hes going to be there shortly.

 

Tweedledee: How could you possibly know that?

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

SupremeOverlord: Because he just knocked obviously ;)

 

Tweedledee: I’m still unsure whether I should be creeped out when you do that or amazed.

 

SupremeOverlord: A little of both? Call him in.

 

Akutagawa took a deep breath and mumble the word to himself a couple times to try to keep his voice from cracking. “You can come in.” This was not going to be Nakajima’s best day.

 

~

 

This was not Atsushi’s best day. The Bungou Boarding School for Stray Dogs, Atsushi’s new school. There was only one problem, Atsushi wasn’t a stray dog. He had lived in the orphanage for as long as he could remember, and even back then the other kids hated him. He wasn’t sure why no one had ever given him an answer, he had always tried to smile and make others feel better. But for some reason, every kid had hated him. They had gotten Atsushi kicked out of so many schools that the orphanage president hadn’t had any other choice but to send him here.

Atsushi had researched this place as much as possible in hopes of survival. No one believed Atsushi was being framed so he didn’t have much hope of getting out of this school before the end of the year. Atsushi had learned a lot of things through that research. The principal's name was Mori Ougai, the vice principal was Fukuzawa Yukichi, Fitzgerald Francis was the office administrator, the nurse was Yosano Akiko, and the guidance counselor was Ozaki Kouyou.

There was a group of people who caused a lot of trouble. They called themselves “The Foutens” the leaders were referred to as Soukoku. That made Atsushi wonder what they did to earn the name “Double Black”. He couldn’t find any names or pictures of the members of the group. Apparently, they cause the most commotion in this school, but every time the principal tries to punish them he has no evidence.

Atsushi dragged his suitcase and backpack up several flights of steps and down a hallway until he reached the room 405. He hoped his roommate wasn’t as bad as most of the kids here were rumored to be or that he wasn’t one of the Foutens. Atsushi took a deep breath and willed himself to knock.

There was no response. Atsushi waited for a moment before lifting his hand to knock again.

“Come in,” A voice called. Atsushi jumped. He turned the handle and peeked through the door. It was a small room with only the necessities. There was a sickly pale boy sitting on the bottom bunk. He had short black hair with white tips and gray eyes. He was wearing the standard black school uniform, but there were several rips and tears in his pants, and there was a book in his lap.

“H-hello,” Atsushi stammered. The boy glared at him and Atsushi shifted between feet nervously. “I’m Nakajima Atsushi, but, um, you can just refer to me by my first name.”

The boy gave Atsushi a curt nod. “I’m Akutagawa, what made you get sent to this hell hole?”

“Um, I, um, I well,” Atsushi said. Atsushi paused and took a deep breath before relaying the story and what he was accused of.

Akutagawa’s eyes widened and he stared at Atsushi. He shook his head and Atsushi swallowed hard. “How on earth did you let someone frame you again, when this has happened before?” Atsushi tried to form a reply but couldn’t think of anything. “Never mind. You do realize that means being here is just a misunderstanding, right? You’re here by an error?”

Atsushi nodded. “But there’s nothing I can really do about it so when I go back for summer I may be able to get into a different school, hopefully.”

Akutagawa shook his head again. “You’re not going to last fifteen minutes here with your current attitude and without the right connections to keep you from changing from your current cinnamon roll self to a raging demon. And don’t say that won’t happen. The last guy I knew who said that became a freaking werewolf within the first month.” Atsushi wiped his palms on his pants and hoped it wasn’t visible to Akutagawa. “Not because of the rules here but because of all the ass holes.”

“I’ll figure something out,” Atsushi’s voice cracked.

Akutagawa snorted and waved his hand in the air dismissively. “Don’t worry about finding connections. I have a friend who was interested in meeting you when he read your story in the school files. If you want I can introduce you.”

“Um,” Atsushi glanced around the room for some way to not seem rude by not looking into his roommate's eyes. “That’s nice and all, but I have a thing where I don’t accept offers that are too good to be true.”

Akutagawa nodded thoughtfully. “That’s a great habit to have here, but I’m serious about you meeting him. And whether you want to or not he’ll find a way to meet you. It may just not be as pleasant as me bringing you to him. His common method has been to kidnap people and break a leg or two if necessary.”

Atsushi shrieked and took a step out of the door. Akutagawa laughed and shook his head. “At this point, there’s no use in running Atsushi. I’ll take you to meet my friend at around nine. That gives about an hour to unpack and mentally prepare yourself. He’s quite overbearing most of the time via IRL or chat room.”

What kind of person was his friend? Atsushi dragged his suitcase in. Akutagawa pointed Atsushi to the desk empty desk, dresser, and the top bunk. Atsushi thanked him and began to unpack. Akutagawa began to read and Atsushi was thankful for the quiet.

Why was Atsushi here? What had he done to be hurled into this horrible place before he even knew what was happening? A week ago he was approached by police and then suddenly he was being sent here with as little of an explanation as possible.

Around thirty minutes passed by and Atsushi had finished putting away his clothes and few belongings. He climbed up the latter to the top bunk.

“Oh, and Atsushi,” Akutagawa said. Atsushi leaned over the side of the bed to look at Akutagawa. “Welcome to Bungou Boarding School, AKA, hell.”

Atsushi smiled sheepishly and went back to huddling under his blankets. This friend sounded terrifying and Atsushi had had enough terrifying events for one day. He had sprinted to the bus stop in order to catch his bus to this school, he had sat by a stranger for nearly four hours, and he had met Akutagawa who had practically threatened Atsushi in order to get him to go meet this “friend”. If anyone else scared him that day he would probably collapse into a heap of nerves and energy.

Akutagawa popped up next to Atsushi and Atsushi screamed. Akutagawa jumped and started falling backward. He grabbed the front of Atsushi’s shirt and before Atsushi could register what was happening he was falling as well. They landed and both boys groaned in unison.

“I’m glad Dazai wasn’t here to see that,” Akutagawa muttered.

Atsushi’s eyebrows narrowed quizzically. “Who?”

“It doesn’t-” Akutagawa pushed Atsushi off of him, “-matter.”

Atsushi’s back collided with the ground and he was suddenly glad he hadn’t been the one to hit the ground when they fell. The floor was stone hard and uncomfortable to lay on.

Akutagawa lifted his legs and propelled himself onto his feet. Atsushi was impressed. Akutagawa didn’t seem to be very strong because of how sickly he looked but Atsushi wouldn’t have been able to jump to his feet the way Akutagawa had. Akutagawa reached his hand out and helped Atsushi to his feet.

“Sorry about that,” Akutagawa said as he quickly let go of Atsushi’s hand. Akutagawa’s cheeks turned slightly pink and his eyes quickly darted to the side. “I was just, um, going-going to tell you we should head towards whe-where my friend is b-because he’s in another building.”

Atsushi blinked. Was the guy who scared Atsushi half to death stammering because he felt awkward? Atsushi felt bad for not catching Akutagawa after making him fall, but did Akutagawa feel similar? If his roommate was like Atsushi this school might not be so terrible.

Akutagawa led Atsushi out of the room and out of the building. They walked by the school's plaza and into a neighboring building. Passed the service counter, Akutagawa dug out a card from his pocket and swiped it at a door into a hallway. Atsushi had a feeling Akutagawa wasn’t supposed to have the card in his possession.

They climbed several flights of steps and entered the door to the fifth floor. The wandered down the hallway and Akutagawa came to an abrupt halt in front of the door marked: 516. He reached out his arm and knocked. Atsushi swallowed and took a deep breath.

“Come on in, Ryuunosuke,” A cheery voice called. Akutagawa opened the door to reveal three boys and a girl. Atsushi scanned the room. It contained the same things as his and Akutagawa’s room did so why were there four people hanging out in one room? And why was there a girl in the boy dorm? That wasn't allowed, was it?

The girl rushed towards them and embraced Akutagawa. “It’s good to see you Ryuu~,” She said as she jumped up and down. This girl had black hair pulled into a messy ponytail, pale skin, and gray eyes.

“You too Gin,” Akutagawa deadpanned, “It’s not like I saw you only an hour ago or anything and it’s not like I was with you all summer break. Why would anybody ever think that?”

“Oh, shut up!” The girl Akutagawa had called Gin, punched him. She spun around to face Atsushi and held out her hand. “My name Akutagawa Gin, I’m this losers little sister. You’re Nakajima Atsushi, right?”

“Um, I, uh,” Atsushi stammered. “Yeah, uh, just-just Atsushi’s fine.” He shook her hand and everything inside of him made him want to curl into a ball and disappear.

Gin stared at Atsushi, then turned to Akutagawa, then looked back at Atsushi and repeated the motion multiple times. “You two are so alike.” She said with a gasp.

“Atsushi,” one of the boys called. Atsushi turned to him. He had short dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and pale skin. He also seemed to be very tall for being around Atsushi’s age. “I’m Dazai Osamu, you can call me Dazai.” Why was that name so familiar? “I was wondering if you could tell us how you came to be at this school.”

“Um, s-sure,” Atsushi told all of the people in the room what he had told Akutagawa. He told them how he thought someone framed him and how this wasn’t the first time. He also told them about the decision to send him here.

Dazai nodded. He glanced around the room and everyone nodded. “Well, Atsushi we are our own little group of students in this school that you may have heard of. All of us are here despite not doing anything wrong. Chuuya-” He pointed at a boy with orange hair sitting next to him. “-goes to school here because his mother works here. Odasaku-” He pointed at the other boy sitting next to him with short red hair. “Is here because of a misunderstanding much like yourself. The Akutagawa siblings are here because their parents saw them as an embarrassment and wanted to remove them from their household. And I’m here because of a similar situation to Chuuya.

“Point being, all of us are here as an error. The name of our group literally means error, only in Dutch I think. I don’t know if it’s entirely accurate because we used google translate, but it’s close enough.”

Atsushi swallowed and glanced around the room. “What are you called exactly?”

Dazai’s smile didn’t fade as he said, “the Foutens.” Atsushi’s stomach dropped. “I’m guessing you’ve heard of us. I’m the leader, my second in command is Chuuya, and the other members are those around you.”

Atsushi scanned the room again. Why were there so few students? He imagined the most talked about group in this school to have more members than a mere five. Were there really just these few students who weren’t here by mistake? And how did these few students cause so many problems for the staff?

“You’re probably wondering how there are so few students that are here by mistake and how only five of us cause so much disturbance for the school,” Dazai said. Atsushi eyes widened and he stared in shock. Dazai snickered. “This school is meant to be a last resort school where the principal and staff get your child through middle school and high school. That’s why there are so few of us, all the other kids are meant to be here. They staff are a bunch of persistent teachers and idiots who somehow still think most of these people stand a chance. We aren’t even supposed to be here yet we’re the most liked students by the teachers, for the most part, the most disliked students by the rest of the staff, all except for Kouyou and occasionally Fukuzawa, and the most revered by the students. So Nakajima Atsushi, you’re like us and I will only make my offer once, will you join us?”

Atsushi’s jaw dropped. He stared blankly at Dazai for several long minutes. He wanted Atsushi to join? The awkward, shy, caring Atsushi, who didn’t want to ever say a single offensive thing? Atsushi who tried his hardest to constantly please everyone? Atsushi the one who in no way was suited to be part of this group yet they wanted him to join?

“Um I d-don’t really know, I mean this is, um, really sude-dden,” Atsushi stuttered as he shifted between feet nervously.

Dazai glanced from Atsushi to Akutagawa and back to Atsushi. “Well, you definitely remind me of someone I know.” Akutagawa’s eyes narrowed at Dazai. “Anyway, give it some thought. We have about a week until the opening ceremony. You’ll knead, make your decision before then, dough.”

“Please tell me you did not just start making bread puns?” Chuuya said disgustedly as he turned to face Dazai.

Dazai grinned from ear to ear as he said, “I don’t know what yeast mean?”

Chuuya groaned. “Sometimes I feel bad for the person who gave birth to you.”

“I wasn’t born, Chuuya,” Dazai said, “I was bread.”

“Please stop,” Chuuya said.

“Sorry, you’re finding my puns so stale.”

Chuuya kicked at Dazai, but he rolled out off the bed and onto his feet. “Go do some homework or something!” Chuuya yelled.

Dazai looked at Atsushi and said, “I guess I have to go back to my room. But don’t worry I’ll be toasty in a bread roll of baguettes.” A pillow hit his face and he stumbled backward.

“Leave, you idiot!” Chuuya yelled.

“I loaf you~” Dazai called as he ran out the door.

“I hate you and I never want to see your worthless face again!” Chuuya groaned. “I’m sorry you had to witness that Atsushi.”

Atsushi shrugged with a smile. Dazai had been really funny and he hadn’t bothered Atsushi.

“By the way,” Dazai said poking his head back through the door. Everyone jumped. “Were still doing movie night, right?”

“I thought I said to never show me your worthless face!” Chuuya yelled. “And, of course we're still doing movie night. I want to watch Luke Ryewalker kick some ass.”

“Oka-” Dazai stopped. A massive grin grew across his face and the lights seemed to dance off his eyes. Everyone around Atsushi turned and looked at Chuuya with surprised expressions. “Did you just-?”

“Make a pun? Come on Dazai I’m not an utter loser I can make a pun and crack a joke.” Chuuya said with an offended voice but he was smiling. “Now get going idiot.”

Dazai stuck out his tongue and ran down the hall. All of the eyes remained on Chuuya as he scanned the room.

“Me making a joke isn’t new,” He said finally.

“No, but it’s been forever since we’ve heard you playful side,” Odasaku said. “Ever since-” Chuuya’s elbow rammed into Odasaku’s chest. “Never mind.”

“Ever since what?” Gin asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” Chuuya said, “This meeting is dismissed. Akutagawa if you wouldn’t mind could you show Atsushi around the campus? Even though he didn’t officially join us I still don’t want to leave him completely helpless.”

Akutagawa nodded.

“I wanna go!” Gin yelled as her hand flew into the air. Akutagawa sighed but motioned both her and Atsushi towards the door. She squealed and followed the two boys through the door.

Atsushi looked back at the room as it slowly disappeared down the hall. He would have to decide soon whether he was going to join them or try to make it on his own. Everything inside of him wanted to be a part of them, the way they interacted was fun and Atsushi wanted to learn more about them. They were the first people who were willing to be friends with him and he didn’t want to turn them down. But he didn’t want to disappoint the president of the orphanage that had raised him by joining the one group of people he had been warned not to affiliate with.

For, now he decided he would focus on getting to know the campus while he had Gin and Akutagawa to show him around. He needed to take all of this one thing at a time otherwise he was going to overwhelm himself. Or as Dazai would have said, “he kneaded to.”

Chapter Text

The opening ceremony was three days away and even though Gin, who constantly showed up in his room to be with her brother, had bugged Atsushi about his answer every day, he still had no clue what to do. He had thought getting to know where all the classrooms and offices were would be the hardest part. Turned out that was the easiest, trying to talk to anybody but Akutagawa was the hardest. Even the other few people he had met Atsushi had a hard time saying anything to.  For the most part, he just listened to Gin talk about the most random things while they were in the cafeteria. The rest of his time had mainly been spent on the summer assignment he had been given for his English class and the internet.

Most of the other students didn’t have the access to wifi, however, somehow Dazai had the password and he had been gracious enough to tell Atsushi even though the freshman hadn’t decided to join them.

“What do you mean he knows I’m going to join?” Atsushi asked Gin turning away from his assignment to look at her doing situps from his bed.

“He gave you the wifi password, he told Akutagawa to bring you to our table, the same table that everyone at this school knows only the Fouten members sit at, and he’s even suggested taking you on one of our coffee runs. A coffee run! Do you know how amazing that is? No one gets to leave the campus unless supervised by a teacher or you’re Kouyou’s weak spot, and that weak spot is Chuuya and Dazai.” Gin said.

“Her weak spot? I thought she was the counselor? Isn’t a counselor not supposed to have favorites?”

“Technically,” Akutagawa chimed in without looking up from his book. “But no one can blame her. Chuuya is her son and Dazai is her son’s boyfriend. But ultimately as a treat, sometimes we can get her to take all of us to the nearest coffee shop.”

“It’s also Chuuya and Dazai’s main date spot since Kouyou is willing to take them and then leave them there while she goes elsewhere,” Gin continued. “Sadly she needs to be here as much as possible though in case a student needs something, but for the most part, she’ll take us whenever we ask. Speaking of which, Ryuu, I want a mocha.”

“No,” Akutagawa answered.

“But-”

“But nothing, the orientation is three days away, Kouyou already has enough to plan and take care of before then. For instance, she has an entire speech to prepare. Unless she wants to get coffee and invites us to go with her we can't bring it up with her. You know Chuuya hates to put his mother through more stress.”

A tremendous pout appeared on Gin’s lips. “Speaking of orientation,” her gaze shifted to Atsushi. “Dazai needs an answer by tomorrow morning at the latest.”

“Don’t remind me,” Atsushi grumbled. His head drooped and his mind began to wander through each possible outcome. He could join the Foutens and have the best time of his life, or he could join them and be banned from every college and become a hobo. He shook his head, that was the worse case scenario and in no way was going to happen. Even if he couldn’t get into college he could get a job in a fast food industry, but if they rejected him than he’d probably end up almost passing out from starvation and then run into a someone trying to drown themselves, figure out he has some strange ability that allows him to turn into a beast, and he’ll end up with a bounty on his head because of that ability. That was even dumber than the hobo idea.

The door flew open and a woman with pink hair in a bun, violet eyes, and pale skin with a pink kimono on walked through the door and proclaimed, “we’re going to Dunn Brothers!”

Gin began to squeal and jumped off of the top bunk. Akutagawa put his bookmark in place and threw his book onto the end of his bed before getting up. Atsushi glanced between the siblings and the woman.

Akutagawa cleared his throat. “Atsushi this is the one and only Kouyou, Miss Kouyou this is Nakajima Atsushi.”

“You’re one of the new transfers if I’m not mistaken,” Kouyou said. Her voice was clear and she smiled warmly at him. Atsushi nodded. “I also heard from Dazai that you’re on the radar to be hired to their little rebel group.”

“Yeah, uh, maybe,” Atsushi muttered.

“He hasn’t decided yet,” Gin said with a pout.

“Well there’s no reason to rush him,” Kouyou said.

“Well, he has to know by-”

“That’s a good point Kouyou,” Akutagawa interrupted. He glared at his sister and Gin began to nod frantically. Kouyou quirked an eyebrow but didn’t question anything.

“Well, Atsushi, I’m going to take these trouble makers for a quick coffee run if you’d like to join us,” Kouyou invited. “Oda, Dazai, and Chuuya are also coming, so it would be a good opportunity to talk to them more.”

“I’m not sure,” Atsushi mumbled.

“Come on Nakajima, it’ll be good for you to do something besides that English assignment which you finish nearly a week ago but you’ve been using as an excuse to avoid making a decision,” Akutagawa said. Heat rose through Atsushi’s cheeks as the other boy stared at him.

“Using homework as a means to avoid having interaction with others,” Kouyou said, her eyes drifted to Akutagawa and her smile widened. “Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?”

“Oooh,” Gin smirked, “She got you there.”

Akutagawa instantly began to glare at his sister, “Shut up.”

"Now, now Ryuunosuke, not need to lash out," Kouyou intervened, "let's go."

Kouyou led the three of them out into the campus square and to the office building. As soon as they were inside the stairwell Kouyou held up a keycard to the door to their right. The keypad turned green and Kouyou opened the door to a flight of steps leading down. They followed her down the steps and to another locked door. Kouyou held up a different key card and lead them into a garage with rows of cars which Atsushi assumed were the staffs.

“This is a lot of security for a garage,” Atsushi said.

“Normally it would be,” Kouyou said, “But we had an experience in the past where one of you kids hotwired one of the teacher's cars and left the campus. An entire search team went out to look for them. We’re not very eager to repeat that experience.”

“That was hysterical,” Dazai said from off to the side. Chuuya and Oda were with him as well.

“Yet somehow despite the security, these three always manage to break in,” Kouyou sighed.

Dazai bolted towards a red minivan. “I call shotgun!”

“Not fair!” Gin yelled as she bolted after him.

The others approached the minivan as well to find Dazai and Gin wrestling to get into the front seat.

“Neither of you get shotgun,” Chuuya said as he pushed the two apart. “Atsushi gets shotgun.”

“W-what?” Atsushi squeaked as everyone's eyes shifted to him.

“That is a brilliant idea, honey,” Kouyou said. Her attention shifted to Atsushi and she smiled at him with another warm smile. “That way I can talk to you more.”

Gin began to whine and complain and Dazai pouted but conceded into one of the middle seats. Akutagawa forced his sister into the back of the mini van and Oda and Chuuya followed. He was hesitant at first, but in the end, Atsushi climbed into the front seat and shut the door behind him.

Before they even made it off of the campus chaos had erupted in the back. Dazai and Gin had begun to argue with each other and Chuuya ended up getting dragged into after he made a comment about them acting like toddlers. While trying to calm them down, Oda ended up getting slapped multiple times and poor Akutagawa was stuck in the middle of the back seat seemingly trying to sink into his seat.

“So why are you so hesitant to want to join Chuuya and the others?” Kouyou asked. How was she so unphased with the chaos that seemed like it was going to cause World War III that was directly behind them?

“I just,” Atsushi paused. Why was he so hesitant? He wanted to be a part of them, didn’t he? But he could never forget the disappointed look on the orphanage presidents face when he found out Atsushi had been framed again. “I don’t want to disappoint the president of my orphanage even more than I already have because of joining the group that is known outside of the school. If you search “Bungou Boarding School for Stray Dogs” at first the internet pulls up the school’s homepage and then it pulls up a bunch of articles on the Foutens. Being a part of them would only disappoint him more than he already is.”

Kouyou nodded as if to show she understood. “Honestly the Fouten members are some of the most well-mannered kids here. Sure they do stir up some trouble for the school but they're good at heart. If it would help you I could send your orphanage a letter explaining this.”

Atsushi's heart began to pound rapidly. “That would be amazing! But...I still don't think I’d join them. I’m never really of any use to anybody.”

Kouyou glanced behind them at Atsushi's fellow classmates who were now arguing about who the best marvel character was. Gin was screaming Bucky, Odasaku said Captain America, Chuuya was saying Spider Man, and for some reason, no matter how hard Chuuya tried to convince Dazai he was technically a villain, Dazai stuck with Loki. Akutagawa was still trying to disappear into the seat.

“I'm going to let you on a little secret,” Kouyou started, “Ryuunosuke felt the exact same way you do now because of his social anxiety. Dazai had wanted Gin to join because she's a crowd pleaser and when it came to the rest of the students they all loved her. At first, when he said he also wanted Akutagawa to join, all the other members, even Oda, were skeptical since he had such a hard time talking to others. The first few weeks he was around them according to Chuuya he barely said a word and when they asked his opinion he would quickly shrug and wave it off. There were times Dazai even doubted his choice to recruit him.

“But at one point when they were once again causing trouble for the school their escape route had been compromised. And who pulled them out of that fix? Ryuunosuke. Afterward, they had asked him how he had saved them and he had said, ‘it was just a simple calculation. All I had to do was estimate the four of your average weight and mass together, my weight plus gravity, the height, and estimate the probability of success in order to find the correct way to go about it.’ He had “calculated” all of this in a matter of seconds. So Akutagawa is now part of their team and is a valued member because of his capability to improvise in tough situations and his intelligence when it comes to, well, anything. Gin is a crowd pleaser as I said, Oda is there to restrain them from going too far, Chuuya is there because most of the teachers trust him and give him access to things even though they know he's a member of the Foutens, and Dazai is their leader and he plans when, where, and how they’re going to be troublesome.

“My point is no matter what Dazai, enlisted each of the Fouten members for a reason. He had a feeling when it came to Ryuunosuke and he has a feeling about you as well. So no matter what I assure you, you will have a purpose and place with them.”

“I still don't know,” Atsushi said. He wanted to accept but he knew he wouldn't be good enough in the end and they'd probably just get tired of having to deal with him.

“Well, if you say no, the option will still be open to you because both Chuuya and Dazai from what they know about your personality really like you. I’ve heard a lot about how sweet and kind you are to everyone. They would love to have you join later as well.”

Atsushi nodded but something inside of him said otherwise. He was always dead weight, nothing about that would change even if he did join them.

The rest of the ride was pretty eventful. A full out fist fight started between Chuuya, Dazai, and Gin. Oda was constantly trying to settle them down and Gin accidentally punched her brother thrice and apologized each time but Atsushi was pretty sure it hadn’t been an accident. As soon as they pulled into the parking lot of a Dunn Brothers Kouyou leaned on the horn and everyone in the car jumped.

“We’re here,” She said in a cheery voice.

Atsushi watched as Gin and Dazai fought to be in front of the other as they crawled out of the van and rushed towards the door. Chuuya and Oda quickly followed but Akutagawa hung back and slowly walked with Atsushi and Kouyou once she had locked the van.

They entered the coffee shops and a thick, sweet scent pushed through the three of them. The smell of freshly grounded coffee, newly baked muffins, and melted chocolate was welcome bliss from the worries of Atsushi’s life. It felt as if he could slip away into the aroma of a strange shop he had probably only been in once or twice in his life.

“Go ahead and order anything you’d like,” Kouyou said, “it’s on me today.”

“R-really?” Atsushi stuttered. Kouyou nodded. Why was everyone here so nice to him? Sure anyone else he may have talked to at the school may have been downright cruel, but for some reason, the universe had decided to bless him just this once and give him exactly the people he needed in his life to feel accepted at this new strange school. Atsushi looked up at the board and was immediately overwhelmed by the options.

“If you're not sure what to do get one of their teas,” Akutagawa recommended.

“Or a mocha,” Gin intervened. “Same as alway I presume?” Akutagawa nodded and Gin entered the line alongside the other three.

“Still can’t order on your own?” Kouyou asked.

“Yeah,” Akutagawa said.

“You know they don’t care if you say something wrong,” Kouyou said.

“They prefer if you just know what you’re going to say because then they don’t have to ask you any follow up questions. And I can rehearse my order plenty of times but once they ask you a follow-up question that you weren’t prepared for that’s when all the stuttering comes out, and I don’t know what to say. And if I don’t know what to say Gin has to come to my rescue and then they’ll start thinking you're weird since follow up questions are part of their job, and then I don’t want to come back because then the same person may be on the shift. And I know the workers never really recognize people unless they’re regulars but just in case, I couldn’t show my face here and so then I’ll just end up sitting in the car while Gin orders my drink anyway and so we're back to square one.”

Atsushi blinked. He was pretty certain he hadn’t heard the other boy talk so much at once before. Oda ordered first quickly saying a medium light roast Costa Rican coffee, Dazai followed by ordering both a medium vanilla iced nirvana for Chuuya and a salted caramel nirvana for himself. “I thought you hated that drink because it literally just tastes like coffee with a bunch of salt added to it,” Chuuya said after the order.

“Normally I wouldn’t have it but, I’m still salty my boyfriend didn’t agree that Loki is best Marvel super hero.”

“We’ve been over this Dazai,” Oda joined in, “He’s a villain, Chuuya has a right to disagree.”

Dazai only crossed his arms and refused to look at both of his classmates. Gin ordered next and quickly said, “I would like a medium chai tea latte and a medium mocha frappé with a half shot of raspberry and whipped cream.”

“See,” Akutagawa said, continuing their conversation, “she’s a pro at ordering this stuff.” She was definitely very precise with her coffee. When it was Atsushi’s turn he asked for a medium hot chocolate. Kouyou went next ordering a medium mocha with an extra shot of espresso. The cashier asked if she was certain about the extra shot and she merely replied by saying,“It’s going to be a very long day.”

Kouyou paid and after about five minutes they had all of their drinks and they piled back into the van. Gin and Dazai began to fight over the front seat again and pouted at Kouyou when she said it was Atsushi’s property for the day.

“If, and only if, Atsushi says you can have the front seat you may,” Kouyou finished. Dazai and Gin’s eyes lit up and their heads whipped to him.

The past car ride flashed through his mind and he really didn’t want to get stuck in the back, but there was one person he felt sort of bad for and he wanted to give a chance at peace.

“Akutagawa, would you like the front seat?” Atsushi asked. Akutagawa looked up and a wave relief seemed to wash over him.

“I would love the front seat,” Akutagawa replied with an exasperated sigh.

Gin and Dazai began to whine but Chuuya quickly shushed them and the five of them climbed into the back. The ride back to the school was more mellow than the ride there. They had a few arguments but no literal fights occurred. Dazai said it was because last time that happened on the way back several drinks were spilled, thus the big dark brown stain in the van’s carpet.

“It was truly a tragic event,” Dazai sniffled and pretended to wipe away a tear.

The other three nodded in sync. “Rest in peace dear mocha,” Gin said.

They arrived back at the school and they tumbled out of the car one at a time. Gin started talking about musicals and her and Chuuya started to talk through some different fan theories and how they would work or have no chance of survival if they were put up against an ounce of other evidence.

When they exited the stairwell to the garage Kouyou said goodbye and headed up to her office. The six students made their way back to their rooms and Atsushi gut began to rise with every growing second Dazai was silent for.

“So, Atsushi,” Dazais began, interrupting Chuuya and Gin’s ethical discussion on how wonderful of a couple Evan and Connor would have been from Dear Evan Hansen, if Connor hadn’t been, well, dead. “I’ve heard from Gin you’ve been having some trouble deciding, but I need to know for orientation. Are you going to be part of the Foutens?”

Atsushi could feel the attention turn on him. Everything inside of him turned to panic mode. He didn’t feel like he could form any thoughts that were worth saying. He couldn’t even think.

“I, um,” Atsushi bit down on the inside of his lip and he instantly tasted blood. They stopped once they reached Akutagawa and Atsushi’s level and Atsushi took a deep breath and faced them. “Thank you for everything, but I can’t join you. I’m very stressed to be at this new school and I’d prefer to not have one more thing to be anxious about. I apologize but that’s what I’ve decided.”

Dazai nodded and kept climbing the steps followed by Oda and Chuuya. For some reason the anxiety and fear in Atsushi didn’t settle, it only found a new companion, guilt.

Chapter Text

The opening ceremony was there and Akutagawa still refused to talk to Atsushi. Gin explanation of her brother's new behavior was that he didn't want to accidentally expose any secrets to Atsushi. Every time he would see one of the Fouten members in the school hallways while he was walking through the campus his gut would drop. His chest seemed to flood with guilt every time he thought about when he had turned down their offer three days ago.

There was no going back now so Atsushi had to keep reminding himself to be content. He had never had much yet no matter what he had been content with just living whether he had friends or not. So where was that mindset when he needed it?

Atsushi glanced at the clock hanging on the wall and set down his history book with a sigh. There were twenty minutes until the ceremony began but his body felt like it was full of lead and he had no motivation to go. Besides Akutagawa had already left and with the lack of direction Atsushi still had at this campus he wasn’t sure he could find his way there.

The was a knock on the door and Akutagawa entered. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the opening ceremony?” Atsushi asked.

“Aren’t you?” Akutagawa replied.

Atsushi went silent. Several long seconds slipped by. Akutagawa sighed. “Follow me, I’m going to be there for the first quarter then I’ll have to sneak out, but you can sit by me until then.”

“Really?” Atsushi said excitedly. If Akutagawa was serious that statement just improved Atsushi’s day dramatically.

“Did you really think I was going to abandon you?” Akutagawa said quietly. He looked away and Atsushi’s gut rose.

“N-no,” Atsushi said quickly. “You just weren’t here so I wasn’t sure what I should do. You have had to do something before the opening ceremony so I didn’t want to interrupt that.”

“Oh, okay,” The room went silent. The silence grew deeper and Atsushi remained in the uncomfort. He wanted to say something else but was unsure what else there was to say. The second slowly slid by one after the other. One tick of the clock. A second. A third. “Do you want to head that way?” Atsushi asked when he couldn’t bear the silence any longer.

“Um-uh, yeah, sure,” Akutagawa said. Atsushi climbed out of his bed and slipped his shoes on. He turned to Akutagawa, smiled, and nodded.

“I’m ready.”

Akutagawa gave him a half-hearted smile and motioned through the door. As the two boys walked next to each other through the building to the gym Atsushi made sure to recount every turn in his head. He was certain he had forgotten where they had turned several times, but the more he practiced the better he’d get. At least, he hoped he would. He had never been the best at directions. That was something he and Gin had in common.

They turned a corner one of the entrances appeared. Akutagawa led Atsushi into the gym and loud noise swarmed him. The gym itself was very big, there were many open seats yet the noise level was unbelievably high. The band was banging on the drums and the trumpets seemed to be having a contest to see who could make the loudest noise. Every student in the bleachers seemed to be screaming. Even though there was another building for the middle school it seemed like both schools were compiled into the gym.

Atsushi followed Akutagawa across the basketball court to the farthest set of bleachers and up to the top corner. Akutagawa took up to seat directly in the corner and Atsushi sat next to him.

Atsushi couldn’t believe half of what he was seeing. Middle schoolers were racing about tackling one another, pulling each other’s hair, and pulling pranks when the other wasn’t looking.

The closer the other kids moved towards Atsushi, the more unsettled he became. He spied a large boy coming straight towards the two of them and Atsushi’s dread filled his stomach. The boy seemed like a stereotypical jock. He had short blond hair, blue eyes, white skin, and could probably break Atsushi’s arm with his pinky finger.

“Scoot over so I can sit there,” The boy demanded pointing at the seat next to Atsushi.

Atsushi thought about letting Akutagawa answer but it did seem like Akutagawa liked talking to people he didn’t know. Atsushi’s shoulders stiffened, “S-Sure.”

“Find different seat swine,” Akutagawa hissed. Atsushi jumped and turned t his roommate. Akutagawa was glaring intensely at the other boy.

“What did you just call me little freshman?”

“A swine,” Akutagawa replied, “however coming out and just saying you're stupid and vapid would work as well.”

The boy grabbed the front of Akutagawa’s shirt and hoisted him to standing. “El burro sabe más que tú.”

“What the fuck did you just say?”

Akutagawa blinked. “Seeing as you took Spanish 1 last year it's surprising you are such a nitwit that you allowed the basic phrase to leave your frontal cortex. It’s the phrase taught to every student to help with pronunciation of the vowels. Simply put, it is understood in the English language as ‘the donkey knows more than you.’”

“Little punk, how the hell would you have known my schedule? Last year you were a little middle school runt there’s no way you were in my class.”

“I have everyone's schedule memorized.”

“That’s a load of bull.”

Akutagawa sighed. “For your first semester this year you are taking basic eleventh-grade language arts for your first period. The second period is American history and third is an advanced physical education course. Which I don’t understand why you would want to go through an even worse hell with Ms. Yosano but be it from me to question you. Then you have lunch, followed by a study hall, physics, and finally, Algebra two, am I wrong?”

The boy stood speechless in front of Atsushi. Did Akutagawa really just list off this boy’s actual schedule?

“You little,” the junior pulled his arm back and balled his fist. Atsushi’s heart hammered in his chest. This guy was about to clobber Akutagawa he had to do something, but what could he do? This guy was gigantic, what could Atsushi possibly do with his tiny muscles? The boy swung.

“Is there a problem over here?” Atsushi snapped out of his panicked thoughts. Dazai clenched the large boy’s fist with a hand and Akutagawa was securely on the ground behind Dazai.

“N-no,” the junior said quickly, pulling his arm away.

“I understand he doesn’t have a very visual roll but Akutagawa is still one of our most valued members,” Dazai continued. “He does plan out quite a few of our escapes and is great at improvising when something goes wrong. So I’d appreciate you not harming him.”

The older boys jaw dropped. “I-I’m so sorry I didn’t realize he was one of the Foutens,” The boy bowed. What was the sudden change in attitude? “Is there any way I could make it up to you? I could help in any way. You’re gonna make this ceremony interesting again right?”

“There isn’t really anything you can-” Akutagawa began.

“Actually I believe there is something you can do for us.” Dazai finished. Akutagawa narrowed his brow and Dazai met his gaze. Some sort of message or understanding passed between them and Dazai turned back to the Junior standing in front of them. “Are friend over her, Nakajima Atsushi, he is a little too nice for this school, if you know what I mean. If you would like to make it up to us, could you guard him against anyone who may expose or attempt to use this kindness once Akutagawa leaves? If so that would be a tremendous weight of worry lifted off of our shoulders.” The boy immediately nodded and Dazai’s face lit up. “Thank you. Also, I’ll let you in on a little Fouten secret.”

Dazai leaned forward and began to whisper in the boy's ear. Every few seconds the boy nodded. Whatever Dazai said this older boy seemed to be interested in.

“Do you understand?” Dazai asked as he took a step away from the older classmate. The boy nodded. Dazai turned to Atsushi and smiled. Atsushi looked into Dazai’s eyes and it felt almost as if the boy was scheming as they stood there, like he was coming up with some idea of what Atsushi’s future would look like. But he merely said, “have a good first opening ceremony, Atsushi.”

With that Dazai turned on his heel and vanished into the sea of people. What had that look been about?

Atsushi and Akutagawa sat down and the boy who had attacked them sat a few rows down. Every few minutes he would glance up at the two of them which put Atsushi on edge. He wanted to trust Dazai, but did the older boy really know that guy wouldn’t attack them again? He seemed to respect Dazai and like Akutagawa once he knew he was a Fouten. But Atsushi wasn’t one of them wouldn’t that make him an easy target?

“I have to go,” Akutagawa said. Atsushi’s head whipped over to look at him. As if sensing his concern Akutagawa faced him. “You don’t have to worry about that guy acting up. He wouldn’t dare to now that he knows you’re a friend of ours.”

“Are you sure?” Atsushi asked. “I don’t want it to seem like I’m doubting you but I just want to be sure.”

“I’m positive.” Akutagawa stood up and slipped around Atsushi. “Have a good first opening ceremony.” He walked down the steps and disappeared into the crowd.

Bang! Atsushi jumped and faced towards the basketball court. The other high school and middle school kids scurried towards the closest open seat.

A group of adults moved onto the gymnasium floor. They lined up and an older man moved onto the podium. A small smile took place on his lips and Atsushi gut turned. The guy seemed to spell evil. His smile was obviously fake and his long black hair didn’t help make look any less menacing.

“Good day to the students of old and of new,” This man said. “Many of you know me already but to those who do not, I am Mori Ougai, the principal of the Bungou Boarding School for Stray Dogs. Before any of our other staff introduce themselves I would like to make a few rules clear for any new students. All students are required to be in their room by ten each night. If you are out of your room the teacher or staff member who finds you automatically have free reign over your fate. As a result whoever finds you could be your greatest gift or your worst nightmare.

“You are expected to do as any of this schools staff instructs and disobedience will be met with consequences. Each student is responsible for cleaning up their trash after eating and each of you is responsible for your own homework.

“I wish all of you the best year. The man to my left is Fukuzawa Yukichi, is our vice principal. If you cause any major issues you will find yourself in either of our offices. If I were you I would hope you end up with Yukichi and not myself.”

The vice principal looked terrifying. Sure the principal didn’t give Atsushi good vibes but the vice principals glare seemed like it could pierce the fiercest of warriors.

“Before I talk to no end I am going to give the podium off to our counselor Ozaki Kouyou.” The principal bowed to miss Kouyou before moving away from the podium so she could take it over.

“As principal Mori said, I am Ozaki Kouyou, the counselor for both the high school and the middle school,” Kouyou said. “If you have any issues you need to talk to or if you're planning for college you may come talk to me. I always appreciate those who make an appointment, however, my office door is always open. If you are in desperate need of help I do not want anyone to feel as if they cannot come to me.

“The one thing I say every year to new or returning students because it is always true is to follow your heart. Whether you're faced with a big decision or you want to stand up for what you believe in follow your heart. Be who you want to be and do what you yearn to do, not what others tell you who you should be or what you should be doing. Those around you do not have a right to force to be who you do not want to be. If you do what you want happiness and joy will find you. It may not come immediately but pain and happiness come hand in hand. In time you will be happy. So do what you want, what you believe in and I promise you, you will find happiness here.

“Of course there are times where it is unacceptable to do what you want, but I’m fairly positive each of you knows what those things are.”

Atsushi’s stomach did a barrel roll. He tried to process what he was doing. He was outside the gym. How had he even gotten there? Do what you want, what you believe in and I promise you, you will find happiness here. A smile crept across his lips. Exactly as Kouyou had said, he was putting aside what others wanted from him and Atsushi was going to do what he wanted.

Atsushi dashed down the hallway, rounded the corner, and came to a halt. A smirk spread across Dazai’s lips, Chuuya smiled, Gin looked at him surprised, Oda remains neutral, and Akutagawa mumbled something about just make up your mind already.

“How can I help?” Atsushi asked through heavy breaths.

“You're with Ryuunosuke,” Dazai said, “there’s no time to tell you what’s happening but he can brief you on the escape plan. Stick close to him and do exactly as he says.” Atsushi’s heart hammered in his. He was trembling terribly but he couldn’t hold back a smile. In that moment, every sense of doubt, every voice, every demon, faded away.

“Right,” Atsushi said.

“Now that everyone’s here on my mark,” Dazai said. They fell silent.

“Get ready to run,” Akutagawa mumbled. Atsushi took a deep breath in.

“Split!” Dazai shouted.

The group bolted in different directions. Atsushi and Akutagawa sprinted back towards the entrance of the Gym. Akutagawa stopped a few steps before the turn and glanced around the corner.

Akutagawa rounded the corner and Atsushi quickly followed. They walked passed the doors to the gym and to a small door that read Janitor Closet. What were they getting out of a janitor closet? Akutagawa removed a set keys from his pocket and opened the door. It was a regular closet with brooms, buckets, mops, and the like.

“Why do we need cleaning tools?” Atsushi asked.

“We're not here to for the items,” Akutagawa replied. What? Atsushi’s roommate put a small rock in the doorway and closed the door until it was only slightly open then turned on a small light. He began to climb up one of the metal shelves until he was on the top. His hand touched the ceiling and lifted one of the roof tiles up and over. A few second later his roommate disappeared into the ceiling.

Atsushi whimpered and followed the boy up. He hoped he wasn’t the only one who was ever completely confused.  Atsushi pulled himself into the ceiling and didn’t immediately hit his head. In fact was able to stand. The little light from the room below barely helped but Atsushi thought he could see some sort of stairs. He moved towards them and the area became completely dark. Atsushi squeaked and jumped.

“You’re going to be fine,” Akutagawa said. His phone flipped opened and Atsushi squinted his eyes. “Follow me.” Akutagawa moved up the stairs and Atsushi followed.

His roommate closed his phone once again immersing them in the dark before a door opened a bright light filtered into the room. They exited onto a walkway above the gym. Akutagawa began to crawl across and Atsushi followed his example, trying desperately not to look at the ground. He was scared of many things and being able to fall to his death was definitely one of them. Yet another reason why he hated himself. Once they reached about halfway Akutagawa opened up his bag and pulled out a rope. It didn’t seem very long. Next, he pulled out several Christmas crackers.

“I’m here,” a voice whispered from behind Atsushi. Akutagawa slapped a hand over Atsushi’s mouth to keep him from screaming.

“Where have you been?” Akutagawa asked.

“Sorry,” Gin said.

“Are you good?” Akutagawa asked. Atsushi nodded and his roommate removed his hand. “And you?”

“Nearly ready, but I forgot how to put this over my ear.” Gin held out an earset microphone. With a sigh, Akutagawa stepped around Atsushi and helped his sister put it around her ear.

“Atsushi, please pull out the rest of the Christmas crackers.” Atsushi did as Akutagawa instructed. “And now we wait.”

Akutagawa handed Atsushi several Christmas crackers and briefly explained what to do with them. Then they sat there. The opening ceremony continued below them. Some of the other staff members introduced themselves and gave little speeches. They all seemed very intimidating except for the secretary Louisa May Alcott. Half of her speech was mumbled and she was barely able to say anything without apologizing for no reason.

It seemed to last forever until the principal finally retook the podium and started the closing speech. In the middle of a sentence, the microphone was using gave out. There was a large amount of feedback and most of the students covered their ears.

A cough rang through the gym and Gin’s voice started to speak. Except Gin was moving her mouth. “‘Sup Y'all, I hope that was as boring a ceremony as ever because it’s about to get interesting. This about the time principal Mori was probably thinking they got by this year, but when do the Foutens never deliver?” The students erupted in applause. A few of the staff members rushed out of the gym. “Alright, alright simmer down. So...I was thinking the other day. What if toy story was real? I know that sounds unbelievable but hear me out. If toys really could speak, do you think they would waste their intelligence on making our lives better? No. They wouldn’t. Instead, I say they’re secretly plotting to overthrow us! Anyway, that was just to make sure some of the staff got lost the real show starts now.”

The gym went completely dark. The students screamed or were they cheering? Atsushi wasn’t sure there was a difference. The lights started flashing on and off in random patterns before all of them glowed dully. Music began to play over the speakers and the crowd erupted in cheers, shouts, and screams. Gin rose and a waved at everyone below.

There were several more screams before Gin began to sing? Atsushi had not expected that but dang she was good. Atsushi stared in disbelief as her lips moved and the words flowed out breathlessly. If he Atsushi didn’t know that what her voice sounded like he would think she was lip sinking.

The rest of the staff on the gym floor began to rush out of the gym while several others scuttled around the room as if trying to find something. Atsushi could hear the song starting to come to an end and Akutagawa secured the rope to the railing. The song ended as Atsushi felt footsteps vibrate through the metal. Dazai, Oda, and Chuuya appeared and threw pairs of gloves to each of them.

Akutagawa climbed over the railing after putting on the gloves and slid down the rope. This was insane! Atsushi was going to die because these people were insane. Akutagawa safely landed on the ground. Atsushi was next. With a sigh, he put a Christmas Cracker in his mouth and began to follow Akutagawa’s example. He climbed over the railing, grabbed the rope, and closed his eyes. He felt the rope as it began to slide over his gloves. His feet touched the ground and he opened his eyes. He was still alive somehow.

With a loud bang, Atsushi opened the cracker. The small toy fell out and Atsushi chucked it at the crowd. Gin joined him on the ground and did the same thing.

Oda threw down several more crackers to them. They caught them and repeated the action until Oda said there were none left.

Akutagawa rushed over from where he had just locked the gym doors and gave Dazai a thumbs up. When Atsushi looked back up from where he came from Chuuya and Dazai had just finished tying a banner to the railing and they pushed it over. The banner unfurled. “Go Stray Dogs!” was written in large, rainbow lettering. The crowd erupted once again. Akutagawa rushed over to a side door in the gym. Oda slid down the rope and Chuuya followed. Dazai untied the rope and let it drop to the ground. He then threw down Akutagawa’s bag.

“Dazai!” The principal’s voice rang through the room. He appeared on the crosswalk with several of the staff behind him. “For the last time stop your childish banter.”

Dazai didn’t reply. Instead, he jumped off of the walkway. Atsushi watched in horror as he plummeted towards the gym floor. At the last second Oda reach slid across the floor and Dazai landed in his arms.

“Damn it, you caught me,” Dazai said. Did he just swear because Oda saved him?

“You know none of us will let you die that easily,” Oda replied.

The gym doors began to shook. “Let’s go!” Akutagawa yelled. They rushed out of the gym at top speed. Akutagawa and Dazai lead the way through hall after hall until they finally reached the exit. The group slowed to a jog. They made a decision to go to Oda’s room because he apparently had a Keurig and hot cocoa.

Once they reached the boy's dorm they began to walk. The flights of steps were brutal to Atsushi’s legs after the running but he didn’t complain. He didn’t have a right to. They reached Oda’s floor and Gin was the first to bolt towards his room with Dazai close at her heels.

“You know it’s not the end of the world if you have to wait a couple minutes for your cup,” Chuuya called after them. “They’re unbelievable.”

When they arrived in the room both Dazai and Gin already had a mug in hand with the steaming liquid.

“So who won?” Akutagawa asked.

“Why do you ask such an unimportant question brother,” Gin asked as she sipped her hot chocolate.

“So Dazai did then?”

“Shut up.”

Oda’s room was completely clean. All of his belongings were neatly put away and his bed was made. The surfaces of his furniture seemed dusted and the curtains of his lone window were neatly tied and pulled to the side. It was definitely cleaner than Atsushi’s side of Akutagawa’s and his room.

“Atsushi,” Akutagawa said handing him a mug of hot chocolatey liquid.

“Oh, thanks,” He took the cup gratefully and moved to sit on Oda’s bed next to Gin.

Once everyone had a cup, Dazai motioned forward his cup. Everyone clanged their cups together. “Good job everybody,” Dazai said. “I know that wasn’t one of our flashier ones, I’m still exhausted from having to put up with my family all summer, but at least we were able to do something so it didn’t seem like we were out of commission this year. Also, I believe a toast is in order for our new recruit finally joining us after a long time of back and forth.”

“Sorry,” Atsushi said.

“Oh no, he’s another frequent apologizer isn’t he?” Gin said.

Oda shook his head. “There’s no reason to apologize Atsushi, Ryuunosuke was about as indecisive as you were, he wasn’t actually fond of helping us until at least his fifth time last year.”

“The only reason he helped us at all is that Gin didn’t hesitate to,” Chuuya said.

“It beats not having someone to come to your rescue when a jock is about to punch you in the face after you point out his stupidity,” Akutagawa said.

“Who the fuck do I have to kill?” Gin yelled as she bolted to her feet.

“Calm down.”

“You can’t say something like that and expect me to ‘calm down’ Ryuu!”

“It’s fine, Gin,” Dazai said, “I showed up and the guy quickly stood down, especially after I told him one of the ‘Fouten secrets.’”

“Speaking of which, what exactly did you tell that guy?” Atsushi asked.

“That sometime after the start of the opening ceremony you were going to join us and it was imperative that you remained protected until then.” He answered.

Atsushi’s eyes widened. “How could you have possibly known that?”

“He always knows,” Akutagawa said, “Dazai has these ‘feelings’ where he just knows what’s going to happen. For instance, he knew you weren’t going to join us the first time we asked.”

“And even though you have experienced this for the past two years you still doubted me, Ryuunosuke,” Dazai said as he shook his.

“Well, I was convinced that he wasn’t going to join us in the end, sorry,” Akutagawa mumbled.

“It was a joke my son, I was not shaming you,” Dazai said.

“Oh, right. Sorry.”

Dazai shook his head. “Stop apologizing my scared, misunderstood child.”

“Right.” The two boys made eye contact and Akutagawa bit his lip. With a sigh, Dazai motioned for him to continue. “Sorry.”

“This is what I meant by ‘another frequent apologizer,’” Gin said.

“Okay one more question,” Atsushi said. “Dazai why did you say damn it when Oda saved you?”

“I’m suicidal,” Dazai replied.

“Casually,” Chuuya added, “you’re casually suicidal.”

“If you ever see Dazai try anything to stop him,” Oda said, “It got worse around the end of eighth grade for us..”

“It did not,” Dazai said. Oda quirked his eyebrow, and Dazai bit his lip.”In my defense-” There was a knock on the door and Atsushi glanced at the others.

“It’s probably my mother,” Chuuya said. “Mom, if it's you, you can come in.” The door opened and Kouyou entered the room. “Do you want any hot cocoa?”

“I’m fine,” Kouyou replied. The room went silent. “Look, I understand why you enjoy causing a ruckus and that it helps to make the other students time here more interesting, but Mori could you a break every once in a while.”

“If he could use a break then he can say so himself,” Dazai said harshly.

“While both of us glad this wasn’t as big of a mess as last time, there is time where it would be nice for you to not risk so much. We worry that one of you is going to break your neck one of these days.”

“You mean you worry.”

“Mori and I worry, Dazai.” The room went silent once again. “I know you don’t get along with him but he’s-”

“No, he’s not. Whatever you meant to say, he’s tired, he’s hurt, he’s- he’s not! And he doesn’t deserve my respect or empathy Kouyou.”

“Dazai, you can only put up this fight for so long,” Kouyou said. “Eventually you are going to tear yourself apart. And everything inside of me does not want to watch you suffer because of that. But if you’re sure this is how you want things to be I won’t interfere.”

“I’m positive.”

“-ly pregnant,” Gin said. “I had to I’m sorry.”

“No you really didn’t,” Akutagawa said.

“Anyway,” Kouyou said, “Atsushi I’m glad you joined the Foutens. I know it’s where you wanted to be.”

“Thanks to Akutagawa I did,” Atsushi said. “If I hadn’t been his roommate and he hadn’t introduced me to everyone I would be suffering right now.”

“Ryuunosuke,” Akutagawa said.

“What?” Atsushi asked.

“Everyone in the Foutens calls me by my first name, Ryuunosuke. If you want you can too unless we’re around my parents than call me Akutagawa.”

“Okay,” Atsushi said with a smile. Warmth bloomed in his chest, “Ryuunosuke.”

Chapter Text

If Atsushi had learned one thing over his brief time at Bungou Boarding School, it was that you could never be sure what would happen. Because of this, being terrified of his first day in the classrooms of this school, was a major understatement. Thesaurus didn’t give him a word that was strong enough to describe his terror. After hearing stories from the easily angered math teacher to the PE and health teacher that ignored when you were about to collapse, he wasn’t looking forward to the first day. At least he had health and not gym his first day. The next day would be different.

If his schedule wasn’t enough to make him lose heart, nothing would be. First thing in the morning, six AM, he had to be up, dressed, and heading to math by seven. He had to learn algebra first thing in the morning. Why? Who thought it would be a good idea to have a math class first period?

Unfortunately, much to Atsushi’s dismay, Akutagawa took all advanced classes that very few students were allowed to take. He also apparently took college courses online. As a freshman it was shocking he was smart enough, but Atsushi was happy for him. Not quite so happy for himself, however. Most freshmen had the exact same schedule, for lack of a large number of teachers and students. The grade was apparently divided in half. Each half had a schedule they followed. The only difference between his and everyone else in his half were the electives that were inserted in his open period compared to theirs. His elective was a study hall which thankfully lined up with one of the periods Akutagawa had to work on his online classes. It was the one period he would be with anyone he knew. Except for Gin. She was currently a grade ahead in math. So she was taking algebra this year instead of next. She just so happened to also have first-period math, which they had ranted about until Akutagawa had threatened to punch both of them.

Beep! Beep! Beep! Atsushi groaned and rolled over. His alarm had been going off for at least a minute, but he hadn’t made any effort to turn it off. His blankets were so warm, they gave him comfort and reassurance. If he had to extend his arm to turn off his phone part of that comfort would leave him. That was not something he wished.

His mattress slammed into his side, and he groaned again. Fine. Atsushi reached out and took his phone, swiping the alarm off. Atsushi had learned from his time talking with Gin, that Akutagawa despised mornings, and that he had been lucky to not wake when he did yet. Her advice had been to do everything in his power to not make Akutagawa grumpier, but that didn't mean he wanted to leave the warmth of his blankets. 

Unwillingly, Atsushi sat up and climbed down from the top bunk. Akutagawa was already sitting up, his phone in hand. Atsushi quickly got ready for the day. He and Akutagawa swung by the cafeteria and quickly grabbed some breakfast before his roommate took him to the algebra room. The whole time they remained quiet. If Atsushi began to fret over the silence than Akutagawa would, and it would turn into a fit of them trying to apologize to each other for it.

Room 217 appeared. With a sigh, he waved goodbye to Akutagawa. Once the other boy was out of sight, he took a deep breath and pushed open the door. A group of teenagers was scribbling on the whiteboard with pencils, another small group of students was putting tags around the floor and on the teacher’s chair, and nowhere insight was a person old enough to be the teacher.

When he entered and attempted to sneak to the back of the classroom, every single student turned to him. He leaned against the wall and slowly began to sink into it. Dazai had warned him no one would know he was a Fouten. Even after the opening ceremony, things had happened too quickly and too far away from the students for anyone to know what he looked like. According to him, the students didn’t even know Akutagawa was a Fouten. His thoughts were still groggy from waking up, but he had a fairly good idea what their stares meant. Not helping to destroy a classroom was seen to them as a crime. Atsushi closed his eyes. The stares of his classmates bore into him. They itched at the outer layer of who he was and attempted to dive their way into his soul. He heard footsteps move toward him.

“Atsushi!” A cheery voice proclaimed his name through pants. The footsteps stopped and Atsushi opened his eyes. Gin leaned against the wall beside him, sweat dripping from her brow. “Sorry, I’m later than I said I would be, I slept in and had to sprint here.”

“It’s no problem,” Atsushi said with the best smile he could muster through his fading adrenaline.

Gin looked at everyone behind her. They stared at Atsushi, eyes wide, questions visibly brimming their minds. But no one spoke. No one said a word. “What?” She asked, irritation thick in her voice.

The students turned away from her and continued to work on dismantling the teacher’s desk. She grabbed Atsushi’s wrist and brought him to the back corner of the room.

“Sit down and keep your head up,” she whispered to him. Atsushi did as was instructed and Gin did the same. A bell rang. “I heard from Dazai that this teacher is very tough. He makes a point to intimidate all of his students. If we respect him we should be fine. But whatever you do don’t-“ the door flew open and everyone bolted to their seats. The door banged against the wall.

A man with long blonde hair, pulled into a ponytail walked into the room. He pushed up his glasses and his yellow eyes flickers over each student slowly. When his eyes rested on Atsushi his glare seemed to bore into his soul. Atsushi sank into his seat. His heart climbed into his throat and his pushed against his seat wishing for it to enveloped him. Gin buried her elbow in Atsushi’s side and he straightened his spine. The teacher moved his eyes from Atsushi seeming content with whatever he had portrayed to him.

After a thorough scan of the whole class, he walked to his desk and sent his pads of paper down along with a small notebook. He tightened his tie and pushed up his glasses once more before walking over to the whiteboard and picking up a marker. Atsushi could hear the snickers that traveled through the room. Instead of writing something down, like Atsushi assumed he would, the teacher showed the class the marker, uncapped it, and tipped it over. The ink and all the innards spilled out of the marker and clattered onto the floor.

The air went still as the teacher stared down the class. He walked over to his chair. “Well, this year is hardly inventive.” Tacs clattered to the ground as he brushed them off of the chair. “I remember one year when a class gave me a run for my money. That was the year Dazai Osamu was in my classroom. If you know this school, you are aware he is one of the two prodigies who are very far ahead in their grades.” A wave of confusion traveled through the room. One of the students in the front of the classroom raised his hand. “State your name and question.”

The boy stood up and ran a hand through his short orange hair. “Tanizaki, I’m Tanizaki,” he said, “and Dazai Osamu is the only one in this school ahead of his grade.”

Atsushi narrowed his brow. Akutagawa was ahead of their own grade. Did these people not know this.

A small laugh came from beside him. “That’s stupid of you to think,” Gin said. Tanizaki turned to her and glared. “Another member of the Foutens who is a freshman this year is as far ahead as Dazai was when he was a freshman last year. I don’t blame you for not knowing, after all, since he’s in your grade you’ve probably never met him. But those of us from the middle school have heard all about both him and Dazai.”

“You would know all about him, wouldn’t you Miss Akutagawa?” The teacher said. A sudden murmur broke throughout the room and Gin’s shoulders stiffened. “All right enough of that.” The teacher walked over to his desk and flipped open his notebook. Atsushi’s eyes widened. The middle of the pages had been cut out and in their stead were whiteboard markers, pens, pencils, and a small gun.

“This,” He said as he picked up the gun, “is full of paralysis darts. Those used on animals. Any moves out of the ordinary or anything else is found out of place starting now gets one of these in their neck.” How he stayed monotonous through his explanation was foreign to Atsushi. “Now,” he leaned on the desk and one of the legs gave out. “Would anyone care to tell me who decided it was a good idea to mess with my desk?” He said monotonously. He cocked the gun. No one spoke.

Atsushi’s gut rose and he tried to stand. Gin pulled at his sleeve to pull him back into his seat but he yanked it out of her grip.

“I-I did sir,” Atsushi did. He was lying through his teeth, and the way the teacher quirked and eyebrow told him he saw through it.

The teacher remained silent. “What’s your name?” He said finally.

“A-Atsushi, Nakajima Atsushi.” Bang! A small breeze hit the side of his face as the dart cut through the air and embedded into the back wall.

“Take that as a warning, all of you.” The teacher grabbed a marker from his not-really-a-notebook and quickly wrote his name out on the board. Sir Kunikida, Mr. Kunikida, Professor Kunikida. “The names you see written on this board are the only way you may refer to me. If any other names or titles are spoken, you will have me to deal with personally.”

Without hesitation, he jumped into what the year would look like in his class, rules, and a brief beginning to their review of pre-algebra. Before long the period was at the end without any more issues and he started passing out an assignment. The bell rang and several people moved towards the door before the assignment had finished being handed out. A gunshot echoed through the room and a dart hit the door frame.

“Back To your seats,” Mr. Kunikida said, “I dismiss you, not the bell.” The students went back to their seats. Once he finished handing out the assignment he dismissed them and the class bolted out. Gin and Atsushi took their time packing up before leaving. Mr. Kunikida and Atsushi’s eyes met and he could feel as his eyes tried to glare into his soul. Gin placed her hand on his back and pushed him through the door.

Finally, it felt like Atsushi could breathe. He glanced around the hall and took a deep breath. “I have to go back to the middle school,” Gin said. She turned to leave. “Word of advice, if you don’t want to die in your upcoming classes don’t stand up for anyone else. Not that I can force you to do anything. But Ryuu would probably be sad if you died.” Without looking at him she walked down the hall and down the steps. Atsushi doubted he would be too sad, no one would be that disappointed if he died.

Atsushi traveled down the hallway trying to follow each sign, but getting lost once before walking into his science classroom. He drifted over to one of the late station and sat on a stool as the bell rang again. He stared at the whiteboard as all the other students took up their own seats. No one seemed to have had time to do anything before the bell. If Akutagawa was here the anxiety building in his chest would be gone. Everyone around him seemed to glance over at him and every look made an itch appear on his skin. His stomach turned as whispers sounded from. Every word that reached his ears as a hiss tensed his muscles.

“Hey,” Someone said jarring Atsushi out of his thoughts. He looked at the boy with orange hair who had talked to Gin in the previous class. He sat next to Atsushi, who leaned away from him. This boy was Tanizaki if he remembered correctly. Tanizaki stared at him and mumbled something incoherent before looking away from him.

“W-what?” Atsushi asked cautiously.

“Thanks and sorry,” Tanizaki said and fell silent.

Atsushi opened his mouth to ask why he was apologizing. The door opened and the teacher walked in, a green scarf and the end of a lab coat flowing behind him. The teacher repositioned the goggles on his eyes and scanned the crowd.

“You were sent here to learn how to behave the way society sees fit,” the teacher stuffed his hands into his pockets. “Until high school, the truth of this school doesn’t really come out. Only stuck ups like Kunikida keep it hidden at this age.” He pulled out two lemons and set them on his desk. “Chemistry is a great way to apply everything you know about destroying the world and bringing it to life.” He removed a small pin from the lemon and threw it into the air.

It exploded pushing Atsushi and several others out of their seats and onto the floor. The teacher began to cackle wildly as part of the ceiling fell to the ground.

“I am Kajii Motojiro, and you’re in my hell now.”

 

 

Atsushi couldn’t remember a different time he had bolted out of a classroom as fast as he did when the bell ended. All the other students had seemed so mesmerized by this teacher. Atsushi however, had been terrified. He had made his lip bleed several times to keep himself from curling into a ball under his desk as Mr. Kajii demonstrated how to make the small bombs he had shown them. He said the first they were to do the next day was to make their own. A classroom full of freshman making bombs did not seem like a good idea. Hopefully, this wasn’t something that normally happened and he would be fired. If not, Atsushi was in for one hell of a science class.

Before the boy, Tanizaki could do anything to Atsushi, he sprinted out of the room and towards his next class. He didn’t stop running until he was in the english room. The teacher was already present, leaning back in his chair and a brown hat resting on his face. If he was asleep he was in for a surprise once the rest of his class arrived. Atsushi traveled to the back of the classroom, sat at a desk, pulled his knees to his chest, and leaned against the wall trying to regulate his breathing. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He was okay, he was going to be okay, he would eventually be okay.

“Damn, you run fast,” A voice sounded as a presence appeared on the desk next to him. Atsushi wished for the boy to go away, but the defining silence grew too large and he had to look at him. “Tanizaki Junichiro,” The boy said with a smirk. He extended his hand and Atsushi unwilfully shook it. “And thanks.”

“For what?” Atsushi said, his voice slow as he approached whatever Tanizaki may be talking about.

“For,” Tanizaki paused, “Well, for taking my place.” He looked into Atsushi’s eyes. He must have sensed Atsushi’s confusion, because he continued, “I was the actual person who dismantled the math teacher’s desk.”

Oh. Tanizaki looked away from Atsushi and made no indication he was going to look back at him. Luckily Mr. Kunikida had just sent a warning bullet. Something told Atsushi the teacher had known it hadn’t been him, but Atsushi wasn’t aware of how he could possibly know.

“No problem,” Atsushi said finally. “I’d rather get hurt than watch someone else, anyways so it wasn’t an issue.”

Tanizaki raised quirked an eyebrow but didn’t say anything else as the rest of the class filtered in. When the students saw the teacher resting the class practically split in half. Part of the class went straight to their seats the others began to advance the teacher slowly. As the furthest student made it to the teacher, the hat fell from his face and he scrunched his eyes. The teacher's brown hair was messy and his eyes seemed shut but he looked around the classroom as if he could see. He yawned and stretched before shooing the students near him with his hands.

The students drifted to the seats willingly and the teacher leaned back in the chair. The bell rang and the room was silent. The teacher didn’t move from where he laid his head back and the students didn’t do anything but mutter to each other.

Finally, the teacher leaned forward and tried to grab the mug at the corner of his desk, but his fingers were just out of reach. “Someone grab that for me.” He commanded. No one moved. “For peat sake, you’re all lively enough someone grab that for me.”

One of the students in the front of the classroom hesitantly rose and she walked over to the desk and handed him his mug. She let the mug slip through her fingers and a brown liquid crashed onto the teacher.

“Oops,” she said.

The teacher took his feet off of his desk and reached into his coat. Atsushi expected him to pull out a gun, a bomb or something similar. Instead, he pulled out a pair of glasses and slipped them on. His eyes opened wider and he glared at the girl in front of him.

“You’re mother truly doesn’t care whether you have friends, good education, or food. In truth, she’d rather you get stuck at this school permanently and have to become a doll for the makeup company she runs. Your father left you when you were six because you punched him and he decided you weren’t worth his attention.” The room was silent. “Do something like that again and I won’t hesitate to figure out any other emotional strings to pull.”

“H-how?” The girl stuttered

The teacher removed his glasses and tapped his temple with them. “Simple calculation, by looking at your behavioral patterns you’ve shown me so far, to the way you pull up your, and such.” The girl took a step away from him. “Go take your seat Higuchi Ichiyou.” She rushed away from him and quickly sat.

With a sigh the teacher stood up and put on his hat, a large smile spreading across his face. “Alright this is your ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelve grade classroom, so get comfortable. I’m gonna be your teacher, I’m Edogawa Ranpo.” He went on to describe what he was forced to teach them, constantly yawning, and went on to say normal language arts classes were boring. He would teach them things that might actually come in handy but they would have to figure out what those things were by themselves.

The bell rang and the class stood, filing out of the room. Atsushi watched as the girl who had attempted to torment the teacher was the first to rush out of the room. Tanizaki and he were the last to exit and Atsushi let Tanizaki leave first. He could feel as the teacher’s eyes followed him closely sending ripples of shivers down his spine.

“Why do they always stare at me?” Atsushi mumbled to himself once he was outside moving towards his next class.

“Probably because you stand out as different,” Tanizaki said suddenly. “You attempt to disappear from sight and hide and that draws you out since everyone else tries to have the spotlight.”

They fell silent and Atsushi shifted uncomfortably. The next room the headed to was a classroom adjacent to the gym, which made it fairly easy for Atsushi to find it. They entered and yet again no teacher was present. Tanizaki only quirked an eyebrow as Atsushi repeated his same routine of getting as far away from the front as possible. This time, however, some of the students had claimed the back corner already so he drifted more towards the middle chair against the wall. Tanizaki sat by him yet again and Atsushi wondered why he kept being by him when Tanizaki could easily make friends with everyone here.

The bell rang once more and a woman with short black hair. With a huff, she scanned the room. “If any men here are weak tomorrow you will end up dying first.” She said. Atsushi could feel himself sinking into his chair. He definitely wouldn’t describe himself as strong. “But I suppose we had to start the year with a health day instead of PE. But be prepared.”

She launched into a long speech about how weak or disrespectful men would be punished severely in her classroom and in society. She listed all of her rules and gave a very brief description of dress code for PE.

“I am Yosano Akiko, Miss Yosano to all of you, and you’re in my hell now.” The bell rang, and surprisingly nothing drastic had happened. The next day he couldn’t vouch for but his gut turned as he thought about what was to come the next day.

Luckily, lunch had finally come and he only had three periods remaining. Tanizaki left him and Atsushi walked as fast as he could without running to the lunch room and after grabbing a lunch, immediately going to the table the Labes always sat at. When he arrived Dazai was trying to reach around Oda to grab Chuuya who was fending his boyfriend off with his foot.

“Just once!” Dazai said as he reached toward Chuuya. Oda grabbed his soup and began eating it over Dazai’s head. Dazai attempted to propel himself over Oda to get to Chuuya.

“If I spill this on you it’s your own damn fault,” Oda said.

“I already told you no,” Chuuya said, pressing his shoe into his boyfriend's face. Atsushi slid onto the bench and watched the scene in front of him unravel.

“But-“ Dazai started.

“No,” Chuuya said once more.

“I just want a hug,” Dazai said with a pout as he stopped reaching for Chuuya and collapsed onto Oda’s lap.

“I said I’m not in the mood,” Chuuya said, “If you hugged normally mainly.”

“How does he hug?” Atsushi asked.

“The clingy, ‘I’m never going to let you go’ kind of hug, and I’m not having the greatest of days,” Chuuya explained.

“Fine,” Dazai said. He withdrew himself from Oda’s lap and instead wrapped himself around the boy’s torso. “I’ll just become Odasaku’s boyfriend then.”

“Yeah, nope,” Oda said. He pushed Dazai off of him and the boy moved his pouting form onto the table. “I don’t want you or anyone else as a boyfriend or girlfriend.” Atsushi narrowed his brows. “I’m Asexual.” He explained, “Unless someone is ready to not be sexually involved with me, I’m not dating. I think I can fall romantically for someone. To be honest, that’s never happened, but I’m not against the thought.”

Atsushi nodded in understanding and took a bite of the sandwich in front of him. Gin collapse next to him with a loud groan and looked around the table. “Where’s Ryuu?”

Dazai lifted his head and looked at his subordinates that had gathered. Atsushi always found it funny when Dazai would mention something about them being his minions. “He didn’t get here yet?” Everyone shook their heads. “I’ll get him,” Dazai said. “And I’ll drag him away from his computer if I must.” Dazai left the table and all of them went silent.

Chuuya took the silence caused by Dazai’s absence to start eating his food.

“So how was the first day of eighth grade?” Oda prompted.

Gin slammed the cup she had been guzzling down. “Oh, let me tell you,” she took a deep breath. “Okay, so I walk into math, he’s terrifying, fine, the first period was fine. Next, I have to go to fucking language arts,” she looked at Chuuya, “excuse my language,” he waved his hand and continued to shove his food down his esophagus. “So I enter and my teacher automatically gives off the, ‘screw you’ vibe that all of my teachers do. The first day, he gives us a fucking article to read out fucking loud. So he scans his list of students obviously thinking ‘now who am I going to fuck over today?’ Then he introduces himself as Sakaguchi Ango and says, ‘Akutagawa Gin, why don’t you start us off.’

“At this point, I already knew this was coming because the world likes screwing me over. I hear everyone around me fucking snicker as if to say ’she’s part of the Foutens and people like her music, but let’s still laugh at her anyway.’ I, of course, try to tell him that I struggle, but nope, I’m an Akutagawa so I should be able to do fine. I then attempt to read the article, but as soon as I look at the paper, the words have already begun to swim off the page and change places with each other.

“In the end, it was a fucking mess. I skipped so many lines, and by the end my teacher was pissed. He started accusing me of fucking up on purpose, as per every teacher in the middle school does. I’m already ready to cry and it’s the first fucking day. After my teacher got into a lecture of how people need to give effort in a classroom, Naomi, blessed Naomi, told him he was being a fucking bitch and that I’m dyslexic. That did not go over well. He started lecturing both of us and by the end, I was ready to die. Because you know, Akutagawa’s should be able to do everything perfectly and blah, blah, blah. I’ve felt like I was suffocating since then. None of my other teachers did anything terrible but who knows, history is next period.”

“I’m guessing you can’t wait to be in High School,” Dazai said, as he appeared.

“Hell yeah,” Gin said.

“You can let go of me now,” Akutagawa said, “I get it.”

Dazai let go of the collar of Akutagawa’s shirt and he stood up straight.

“So who was Kunikida’s victim?” Dazai asked.

“No one,” Gin said. Dazai lifted a brow. “This idiot said that he was the one who fucked with his desk. He only sent a warning shot because he probably knew it was the sushi roll.”

“Sushi roll?” Atsushi asked.

“Yeah, Atsushi roll, At-Sushi roll,” She said.

“Oh, okay, I get it,” Atsushi said.

“Why?” Dazai asked him. “Why would you do that?”

“Because he’s an innocent flower?” Chuuya offered.

“Because no one else was saying anything and I was afraid he would just start shooting randomly,” Atsushi said. “I was too scared for everyone else to think too much of myself.”

“Like I said,” Chuuya said, “he’s an innocent flower. And about as oblivious as an infant.”

“Thanks,” Atsushi muttered.

“Well he’ll shoot plenty of people over the course of this year and next, so you didn’t miss much,” Dazai said with a shrug.

“Wait,” Odasaku said, “has anyone added Atsushi to the chat yet?” Everyone fell silent. “I’ll take that as a no.”

“I’ll add him once we're back at our room,” Akutagawa said.

“Cool, but can he make his account now? I want to be there,” Gin said.

“Um, sure,” Atsushi said as he pulled out his phone. Gin showed him the app they used and he quickly downloaded it. “Chat name?” Atsushi asked.

The other members turned to Dazai. “For now, have your name be SushiRoll, no space, both words capitalized though, otherwise Chuuya will get on top of you.”

“No I won’t,” Chuuya said defensively.

“Eh,” Dazai said.

“When I forgot to you yelled at me,” Gin pouted.

“That was because you were the one who recommended the app and came up with what each of us does, which was the capitalization the beginning of every word in our username.” Chuuya said, “for peat sake, all of you make me out to be far more of a grammar nazi than I am.” Gin snorted.

“How’s your day been going Atsushi?” Dazai asked.

He shrugged. “Alright I guess,” Atsushi said. “Everything is just uncertain and I’m constantly on edge, so I’m still shaking from my adrenaline.” He said holding up his hand to show them. “I’m going to be glad once sixth period comes, that’s my study hall.”

“Sorry I can’t be there during your day I know how anxiety works,” Akutagawa said.

Gin laughed. “No shit Sherlock. I mean it’s not like you’re socially anxious or something.”

“There is one person who’s kind of nice, but I don’t understand why he’s trying to talk to me since I’m probably the weakest link he could have found.” Atsushi said. The groups attention fully focused on him, and his skin began to crawl once more.

“Who?” Dazai questioned.

“I think his name was Tanizaki,” Atsushi said.

Everyone seemed to let out the breath they had been holding in simultaneously.

“For a second I thought we may have to be worried,” Chuuya said.

“Who is he?” Atsushi asked.

“You know Naomi? The girl I mentioned before?” Gin asked. Atsushi nodded. “Tanizaki is Naomi’s older brother. They were the first people me and Akutagawa met, since they came here at the same time. They’re not Foutens though.”

“Akutagawa and I,” Her older brother corrected.

“I’m not in the mood,” Gin said. “Don’t correct me again please, or I may scream and/or cry.” Akutagawa didn’t correct her again.

“In conclusion he’s the safest person to be forced friends with,” Dazai said. “Whatever you do try your hardest to not have to be paired with anyone else.”

“Oh yeah, and Naomi is in our math class as well,” Gin said. “She was sitting by him today I can introduce you tomorrow.”

“Who’s your advisor?” Chuuya asked.

“What?” Atsushi asked.

“Every Wednesday we have to go to our advisory second half of lunch. A teacher is your advisor and it’s normally in their classroom,” he explained. “Your schedule should say who yours is.”

Atsushi removed the small piece of paper from his pocket. Advisory: Kunikida Doppo, Room: 217. Atsushi stared blankly. Gin leaned over and squealed.

“Ryuu! Ryuu! He’s in our advisory Ryuu!”

Atsushi blinked. “Don’t you have advisory at the middle school, Gin?”

“The principle keeps siblings together if they’re born close enough,” Dazai said. “Normally within the range of a two year age difference.”

“So Mr. Kunikida is both Ryuu and my new advisor,” Gin said, “along with Naomi and Tanizaki.”

“Oh, joy,” Akutagawa muttered. He must have realized Atsushi’s confusion because he added, “I accidentally gave Tanizaki a bloody nose the first day I was here. It was a complete accident, but he believes other wise.”

“Just remember they don’t know that you and Ryuunosuke are a member of the Foutens so stay quiet,” Dazai said.

The bell rang as Atsushi nodded. They said there goodbyes and headed in their opposite directions, Gin running since she had to get to the middle school’s building. Atsushi headed towards his French class unwillingly. He didn’t know what would happen but he wasn’t looking forward to it.

The rest of the day past fairly quickly. Surprisingly his language class wasn’t as terrifying as his other classes had been. The teacher was very proper and introduced herself as Madam Margaret Mitchell. She demanded that they refer to her as such but nothing more happened.

For his sixth period study hall it was nice to be able to sit by Akutagawa in a  comfortable silence. He scrolled through the tumblr feed Gin had forced him to create upon his second day on campus.

His seventh period teacher was by far the nicest teacher he had met. He introduced himself as Hirotsu, and that he would be teaching them geography, migration patterns, etcetera. Relief had never felt as sweet as it did once the bell rang. He headed towards his room ready to take a long, long nap. When he appeared Akutagawa wasn’t their yet. He checked his phone and sure enough Akutagawa had sent him a text saying he was going to Gin’s room for a bit. It didn’t take long for Atsushi to climb onto his bunk and close his eyes.

Only moments later his phone buzzed. He picked it up and quickly checked the notification. Tweedledee has added you to the chat: Sorry Mom. Atsushi swiped open his phone and dove head first into the chat.

Chapter Text

Tweedledee Added SushiRoll To "Sorry Mom"

 

SushiRoll: sorry mom? Should I ask?

 

Tweedledee: I’d recommend, no.

 

SupremeOverlord: sup

 

No. 2: Hey!

 

Odeadsaku: hi

 

Tweedledum: welcome

 

Tweedledee: ‘ey

 

SushiRoll: Wait

 

SushiRoll: Odeadsaku? o-DEAD-saku? whAt!?

 

SupremeOverlord: *Laughs maniaclly*

 

SupremeOverlord: Any other questions we should adress as well.

 

SushiRoll: Too many. I have all of you as friends.

 

No. 2: He has a great poiant

 

No. 2: *point

 

Odeadsaku: My name comes from a joke Dazai made when he was going through a really big anime phase in seventh grade.

 

SupremeOverlord: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

SupremeOverlord: sorry

 

No. 2: I’ve given up hope of salvation at this point.

 

SupremeOverlord: YAY! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

SupremeOverlord: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

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No. 2: DON’T OVER SELL IT!

 

Tweedledee: Ooooooh got some all caps goin’ there already

 

Tweedledum: Please don’t push Chuuya to far, I don’t want another explosion of notifications like last time when it was finals week and I was trying to study.

 

Tweedledum: Studying ew

 

Odeadsaku: dazai their doing it again

 

SupremeOverlord: So basically Atsushi, I had a sudden realization one day that if Odasaku was a character in an anime he would be one of the characters in a backstory who ended up dying and his death would cause a bad guy to become a good guy.

 

Tweedledee: That’s all there is too it.

 

Tweedledum: Yep :)

 

No. 2: Yeah, and the chat name is “sorry mom” because I was correcting their bad language when they began dropping f-bombs

 

SupremeOverlord: Speaking of which, when did you change you name to No. 2? I miss your old name ಥ_ಥ

 

No. 2: No.

 

Odeadsaku: I kept my assigned nickname Chuuya, be a good sport and change it back.

 

No. 2: Absolutely not.

 

Tweedledee: Come on Chuuya ಠ⌣ಠ

 

Tweedledum: Dazai assigned each of us nicknames, Gin and I are tweedledee and dum because we’re siblings

 

Tweedledee: It’s only fair that you oblige to stick with custom,

 

Odeadsaku: Dazai. It’s back.

 

No. 2: I said NO and that’s final.

 

SushiRoll: I’m confused.

 

SupremeOverlord:  Change it for the newbie.

 

No. 2: Stop asking. The answer is no.

 

Tweedledee: Why not Chuuya? (¬_¬)

 

Tweedledum: yeah Why?

 

Odeadsaku: DAZAI!

 

SupremeOverlord: Oh shit! Oda is in all caps! what did I do?!

 

Odeadsaku: Go reread this conversation quickly and pay special attention to Gin and Ryuunosuke.

 

SupremeOverlord: Okay?

 

SupremeOverlord:

 

SupremeOverlord: crap

 

Tweedledee: Did you discover something? (。◕‿‿◕。)

 

Tweedledum: i’m having fun all of a sudden (。◕‿‿◕。)

 

SushiRoll: What’s happening?

 

No. 2: Atsushi this next question is very important, answer it truthfully.

 

SupremeOverlord: ATSUSHI? IS RYUUNOSUKE IN YOUR ROOM WITH YOU??????!?!?!?!!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

 

SushiRoll: No, he went to go be with Gin why?

 

Odeadsaku: Oh no

 

No. 2: crap

 

SupremeOverlord: WHY?!?

 

Tweedledee: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Tweedledum: (ᵔᴥᵔ)

 

SushiRoll: WhAt’s going On?

 

No. 2: They’re handing their phones back and forth. Eventually they’ll do it so many times it will be nearly impossible to be able to tell who’s who.

 

SupremeOverlord: IT’S A VERSION OF HELL!

 

Tweedledum: (ᵔᴥᵔ)

 

Tweedledee: (ᵔᴥᵔ)

 

Odeadsaku: Calm down Dazai. The next step is to figure our who’s who by rereading the conversation.

 

No. 2: *out

 

No. 2: Oda is right Dazai, stop hyperventilating.

 

SupremeOverlord: I might if you kiss me ♥‿♥

 

No. 2: It’s in the name Dazai, N-O.

 

Odeadsaku: by the way Atsushi most of the interaction between Chuuya and Dazai on this chat are either about a plan or Dazai being an overbearing boyfriend.

 

SupremeOverlord: … I’m happy.

 

Tweedeldum: did he do it?

 

Tweedledee: did he kiss you?

 

SupremeOverlord: ~(˘▾˘~)(~˘▾˘)~ yerp!

 

Odeadsaku: Okay, i think I’ve tracked who’s who.

 

No. 2: Oh?

 

SupremeOverlord: Please tell us

 

Odeadsaku: Okay, it was kind of difficult because at one point one of them was doing both accounts at the same time. But here’s the order as best as I could get it.

 

Odeadsaku: Akutagawa | Akutagawa, Gin | Gin, Akutagawa, Gin | Gin, Gin | Gin, Akutagawa, Akutagawa | Gin, Gin | Gin, Akutagawa | Akutagawa, Gin | Either | Gin, Gin |

Currently Gin has both phones but I don’t know who’s going to have it next. I thinkk that’s right.

 

SupremeOverlord: Why is there an either? Why? WHY!?!?!?!?

 

Odeadsaku: because they did the same message: (ᵔᴥᵔ)

 

SupremeOverlord: Oh okay. WE GOT YOU TWO

 

Tweedledum: Did you?

 

Tweedledum Changed Their Name To “Tweedledee”

Tweedledee Changed Their Name To “Tweedledum”

 

SuprmemeOverlord: Shit.

 

Odeadsaku: I’m done

 

SushiRoll: I’m thoroughly confused

 

No. 2: Fuck

 

SupremeOverlord:

 

SushiRoll: …

 

Odeadsaku:

 

Tweedledee:

 

Tweedledum:

 

No. 2: Is it really that astonishing that I can swear?

 

SupremeOverlord: yes, also to continue our previous discussion CHANGE THE NAME!!!!

 

Tweedledee Changed "Sorry Mom" To “Come on Chuuya!”

 

No. 2: Read the name

 

SushiRoll: Number 2

 

SupremeOverlord: I like this man

 

No. 2: Stop being a smart alike both of you.

 

SupremeOverlord: Okay Chew-ya, ಠ‿↼

 

Odeadsaku: Dazai, let him do what he wants

 

Tweedledee: Come on Chuuya change it!

 

Tweedledum: Change It!

 

Tweedledee: Change It!

 

Tweedledee: Change It!

 

Tweedledee: Change It!

 

Tweedledum: Settle down Gin.

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

SushiRoll: I’m not going to take a side.

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

No. 2: I don’t want to

 

Odeadaku: Dazai, I’m warning you, you need to stop. You too  Gin.

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

Tweedledum: Gin stop.

 

Tweedledee: CHANGE IT!

 

SupremeOverlord: Come one ChuuuuuuuuuuyaaaaaAaaaaAaaaaa~

 

Tweedledee: Change iiiiiiiiiIIIIIIiiiiiiiT~

 

No. 2: FINE!

 

No. 2 Changed Their Name To “ChuuAbleDogToy”

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: NOW FUCK OFF!!!

 

ChuuAbleDogToy Left The Chat

 

Tweedledee:

 

Tweedledee: What just happened?

 

SupremeOverlord: Um, Chuuya just ran out of the room when I tried to ask him what was wrong.. Oda. Help.

 

Odeadsaku: Why do you think he wouldn’t want to change his name Dazai?

 

SupremeOverlord: I don’t know, one day we logged on and it was just changed. He told me he didn’t want ChuuAbleDogToy to be what he was called and I let it slide.

 

Odeadsaku: When he originally changed it you had a reason why you let it slide.

 

SupremeOverlord: ?

 

Tweedledum: your dad

 

SupremeOverlord: oh fuckin-shit

 

SupremeOverlord Logged Off

 

SushiRoll: I’m confused

 

Tweedledee: I’m confused

 

Tweedledum: I only have a rough idea of what’s going on because I was there at the time.

 

Odeadsaku: Don’t worry about it, if Chuuya wants to tell you he will, but I don’t think either of them are going to be on this chat anytime soon though.

 

Odeadsaku: So Atsushi, did your classes go well?

 

SushiRoll: Yes?

 

SushiRoll: all of the teachers are kind of strange.

 

Tweedledum: Sounds about right

 

SushiRoll: Only two of them truly scare me though, Mr. Kunikida and Miss Yosano, everyone else is just weird.

 

Tweedledum: Speaking of Yosano, I’m going to be with you in her class tomorrow.

 

SushiRoll: ?

 

Tweedledum: I have to retake PE, I suck at running and walking and hit/throwing and anything athletic. I failed last year.

 

SushiRoll: Oh right, I forgot.

 

SushiRoll: Anyway, Akutagawa could you and Gin just decide who’s who and keep which username for now? Trying to keep everyone straight is hard enough as it is.

 

Tweedledee: But like, none of us are straight (¬‿¬)

 

SushiRoll: You know what I mean.

 

Tweedledum: I’m Akutagawa and Gin is Tweedledee I’ll make sure we stay that way.

 

SushiRoll: Thanks (ᵔᴥᵔ)

 

Tweedledee: WE HAVE ALREADY CONVERTED HIM TO THE WAY OF THE MEMES!!!

 

Tweedledee: /╲/\╭( ͡° ͡° ͜ʖ ͡° ͡°)╮/\╱\  

 

Tweedledee: ~(˘▾˘~)

 

Tweedledee: (~˘▾˘)~

 

Tweedledee:ヾ(⌐■_■)ノ♪

 

Tweedledee: ☜(˚▽˚)☞

 

Tweedledum: please stop

 

Tweedledee: FINE!

 

SupremeOverlord Logged On

SupremeOverlord Added ChuuAbleDogToy To “Come on Chuuya”

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: I’M FINE!!!! WHO SAID I WASN’T JUST FINE??????? I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.

 

Odeadsaku: Apologize Dazai

 

SupremeOverlord: I already did

 

Odeadsaku: Both you and Gin are to apologize formerly over the chat so all parties involved can witness the apology. Go on.

 

Tweedledee: I’m sorry I pressured you into doing something you weren’t comfortable with

 

Odeadsaku: And?

 

Tweedledee: and can you forgive me?

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Yes I can Gin

 

Odeadsaku: Dazai?

 

SupremeOverlord: I’m sorry I pressured you into doing something you weren’t comfortable with and can you forgive me oh beautiful, perfect, amazing, honorable, great Chuuya my absolutely wonderful boyfriend?

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Maybe

 

SupremeOverlord: ಥ_ಥ

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Yes, I forgive you, Dazai

 

Odeadsaku: Good.

 

SushiRoll: You know Odasaku reminds me of a dad, enforcing the law of apologizing and Chuuya is probably the mom.

 

Tweedledee: Not to mention he buys us a crap ton of stuff.

 

SupremeOverlord: I think I just thought of a great new name for you (。◕‿‿◕。)

 

Odeadsaku: I’m not even going to argue, because there’s no point, you’ll win in the end anyway.

 

Odeadsaku Changed Their Name To Odaddysaku

 

Tweedledum: I will not allow it

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Seriously?

 

Tweedledee: I cri

 

SushiRoll: I’m not sure how to feel about this

 

SupremeOverlord: Well? What do you think?

 

Odaddysaku: I hate it. But I suppose I’ll accept it for at least a few weeks

 

SupremeOverlord: Yes!

 

Tweedledum: NO!

 

Tweedledee: I cri X2

 

SushiRoll: I still don’t know how to feel

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Seriously?

 

SupremeOverlord: Oh yes my dear boyfriend, oh yes.

 

SupremeOverlord: Anyway I read through what we missed and I realized something very important…

 

SupremeOverlord: Atsushi has no idea where we stand on the scale of “Gay.” We are unaware as to where he stands. So I’m going to sing over the chat and if you identify as such put send in: *clap clap* or *stomp stomp* etc. you’ll understand why when I start.

 

SupremeOverlord: IF YOUR LGBT+ AND YOU KNOW IT CLAP YOUR HANDS.

 

Tweedledee: *clap clap*

 

Odaddysaku: *clap clap*

 

SushiRoll: *clap clap*

 

SupremeOverlord: *clap clap*

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: *clap clap* (If that’s not blatantly obvious since I HAVE a boyfriend)

 

SupremeOverlord: If your gay and you know it stomp your feet.

 

SupremeOverlord: If your bi and you know jump around.

 

Tweedledee: *jump jump*

 

SupremeOverlord: *jump jump*

 

SupremeOverlord: If your pan and you know it twirl around.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: *twirl twirl*

 

SushiRoll: *twirl twirl*?

 

SupremeOverlord: If your ace and you know it say “I’m out!”

 

Odaddysaku: I’m out.

 

SupremeOverlord: If your straight and you know it shrug your shoulders.

 

Tweedledee: *crickets begin to chirp*

 

SupremeOverlord: Now that that’s settled, who has advice for how Gin should try to not suffer from stupid ass teachers this year?

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Try to explain? Get a note from Mori?

 

Tweedledee: Already tried, but Principal Mori can’t officially diagnose me with my parents signature, which we all know will never happen.

 

SushiRoll: Why not?

 

Tweedledee: Because they’re assholes.

 

Tweedledum: They’re not complete assholes

 

Tweedledee: My apologies, let me rephrase. Ryuu is a perfect child who is smart as hell and I’m the disappointment who they are assholes to.

 

Tweedledum: It isn’t easy being favorite, I literally can’t do anything I want to without them being skeptical.

 

Tweedledee: One moment I am about to give Ryuu a quick lecture via IRL.

 

SupremeOverlord:

 

ChuuAbleDogToy:

 

Odaddysaku:

 

SushiRoll:

 

SupremeOverlord: Atsushi is already picking up on our trends, you learn so fast. I’m so proud.

 

SushiRoll: (▰˘◡˘▰)

 

Tweedledee: alright I’m done.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Cool

 

SushiRoll So I have yet another question.

 

SupremeOverlord: ? Yes

 

SushiRoll: Is it normal that Akutagawa doesn’t participate in any part of “the song”?

 

SushiRoll:

 

SushiRoll: Did I say something wrong? Sorry if I did.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: You didn’t say anything wrong were just rereading. That’s why were taking a bit.

 

Tweedledee: huh.

 

SupremeOverlord: Havent noticed that before

 

Odaddysaku: I just went back to when Gin and Ryuunosuke joined, it took for flipping ever. And Akutagawa didn’t say anything then either

 

SupremeOverlord: Care to explain, Ryuunosuke

 

Tweedledum: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

SupremeOverlord: Don’t you ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ me young man.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: I kind of assumed you were straight until right now

 

SupremeOverlord: Same

 

Odaddysaku: Same

 

Tweedledee: Fuck, I’m his sister and I assumed he was straight.

 

SupremeOverlord: So?

 

Tweedledum: No thanks.

 

SupremeOverlord: Your Ace?

 

Tweedledum: I meant I’d rather not say.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: There’s nothing to  be afraid of Ryuunosuke.

 

Tweedledum: I know but I don’t want to tell you.

 

SupremeOverlord: Come on!

 

Tweedledee: I started poking him IRL

 

Odaddysaku: Stop it both of you, we’ve already made one person upset today and that’s one too many.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: I agree stop it.

 

Tweedledee: he is my brother and I want to know.

 

SupremeOverlord: He is my friend and I want to know

 

Tweedledum: Please stop

 

SushiRoll: I’m sorry I brought it up, please stop.

 

Tweedledee: Nope.

 

Tweedledum: Gin, I can’t, please stop.

 

Tweedledee: Nope!

 

Odaddysaku: Gin, stop.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Stop.

 

Tweedledee: I already said no I have a right to know

 

Tweedledum: Please, please, just leave me alone.

 

SupremeOverlord: Gin, you need to stop.

 

Tweedledee:  He is my fucking brother, and I want to know

 

SushiRoll: Leave him alone, Gin!

 

Tweedledum: I’m sorry, I can’t.

 

Tweedledum has logged off.

 

Odaddysaku: Gin what happened?

 

Tweedledee: He may or may not have just pulled a Chuuya and left.

 

SupremeOverlord: What the fuck just happened, my word.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: I felt like I could hear him choking on his words.

 

SushiRoll: I’m scared. Is it okay to be scared/worried/upsetfornoreason in this moment?

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: You’re feeling whatever you’re feeling and yes that is valid. I’m scared about him myself.

 

Odaddysaku: Should we make it a rule for ALL of us to not be able to ask him any question besides, “do you want to tell us where you fall on the gay scale” at least for now. And “ALL” includes you Gin.

 

Tweedledee: fine

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: That’s probably a good idea.

 

SupremeOverlord: Alright then if both members of the upper court have decided it, I hereby pass the new law.

 

Tweedledum has logged on

 

Tweedledum: I was going to stay off a bit longer, but then I realized a left my keys in Gin’s room. Can you let me in Atsushi? I’m afraid to knock incase I have the wrong room number.

 

SushiRoll: I’m coming

 

SupremeOverlord: Killer timing as always. Reread the lsat bit.

 

SupremeOverlord: …?

 

SushiRoll: I don’t think he’s going to be responding. He threw his phone across the room and curled up under blankets. I’ve tried talking to him but he’s not listening to me. And I think he’s crying.

 

SushiRoll: I’m not crying, this is Ryuunosuke FYI

 

SushiRoll: You say as you stare at my phone with puffy red eyes.

 

Tweedledee: I’m sorry Ryuu

 

SushiRoll: It’s fine.

 

Tweedledee: No it’s not, and grab your phone I now understand how easily it is to be confused by people using the same phone.

 

SushiRoll: It’s too far.

 

Tweedledum: never mind Atsushi grabbed it. And you don’t have to instate a rule, Dazai, Chuuya, Oda. I’m fine.

 

Tweedledee: Fine enough to tell us?

 

SushiRoll: Aaaaaaaaand he’s back under the blankets.

 

SupremeOverlord: he’ll tell us eventually Gin. For now if you go through and reread “YES WE DO RYUUNOSUKE!!! YOUR OUR SON AND YOU DESERVE SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR SHIT ASS PARENTS GIVE YOU!!!” Oh and welcome to the family Atsushi. You were half right right with Oda being the dad. Please state your family status.

 

Odaddysaku: I’m the grandfather.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Apparently I’m the resident mother.

 

SupremeOverlord: Father is right here

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: Even though no one IRL would allow you to be in charge of a child.

 

SupremeOverlord: thanks for the support

 

Tweedledee: Ryuu and I are the children.

 

SupremeOverlord: And you are a child now as well.

 

Odaddysaku: Ryuunosuke is your half-child remember? I took over half custody of him after you fucked up and in his words, “overwhelmed his tear ducks and caused them to burst.”

 

SushRoll: He made Akutagawa cry?

 

SupremeOverlord: nO! *chokes on the lie* *curls up into a ball of shame* *dies*

 

Tweedledum: Stop making such a big deal out of it.

 

Tweedledee: Ryuu!

 

SupremeOverlord: *cries from joy*

 

SushiRoll:  you’re alive!

 

Odaddysaku: welcome back

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: It’s good to see you my son.

 

Tweedledum: so I have a half-brother? Full-brother? How am I related to Chuuya? And how is he related to Chuuya?

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: your both my sons, and he’s Dazai’s son. Your half-Dazai’s son and half-Oda’s son. So your three-quarter brothers?

 

Tweedledum: k

 

Tweedledee: wait. I HAVE A SECOND BROTHER!!! AAAAAAAAH!!!

 

SushiRoll: hi

 

Tweedledum: If we’re basing our relationship on this family you have a three-quarter brother and now a full brother.

 

Tweedledee: I always base our relationship off of both. Your my brother no half, full, or quarters involved.

 

Tweedledum: k

 

Odaddysaku: I don't mean to ruin anyones fun, but all of us have homework. Except for maybe Akutagawa and Dazai.

 

Tweedledum: I have a video left.

 

SupremeOverlord: Same

 

SushiRoll: I actually have no homework

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: well shit Oda and I do

 

Tweedledee: My english teacher gave me, and only me, a reading assignment.

 

Tweedledee Changed “Come on Chuuya” To “fuck the middle school teacher’s”.

 

ChuuAbleDogToy Changed “fuck the middle school teacher’s” To “fuck the middle school teachers”

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: I’m sorry, I had to change the grammar.

 

Tweedledee: I think I just died a little on the inside.

 

Tweedledum: Before we all go, um, Dazai could you start at the beginning of the song and go through the first two again?

 

SupremeOverlord: OF COURSE MY BEAUTIFUL, half-CHILD! If your LGBT+ and you know it clap your hands.

 

Tweedledum: *Clapclap*

 

SupremeOverlord: Oooooooh.

 

SupremeOverlord: If you’re gay and you know it stomp your feet.

 

Tweedledum: *stompstomp*

 

Tweedledum: okay, nice talking to y’all.

 

Tweedledum Logged Off

 

Tweedledee: *screamsfromjoy* Anyway, enjoy your peace from homework Sushi. See yah!

 

SupremeOverlord: Bi y’all

 

Odaddysaku: goodbye

 

Tweedledum: bye

 

ChuuAbleDogToy: farewell.


SushiRoll: Talk to all of you at dinner.

Chapter Text

Fire laced through Akutagawa’s lungs. His legs shook and threatened to collapse with every step. Why he had decided to sit on the side of the gym floor part of last semester he would never remember. Eighth grade him was someone without a broken train of thought.  The torture he had to indure was because of his mistake. Even though time travel didn’t seem mathematically possible, he still wished he could go back and slap his younger self across the face. He needed this class and a health class to graduate. The health college courses could cover, but the school’s gym course Principal Mori was forcing him to take. He had made it halfway through the last semester before giving up and his already low grade dropped dramatically. While last year it hadn’t technically been considered as part of his high school transcript he still had to retake the class. This time it would permanently be on his transcript. If he received no credit or lower than an A he could say hello to very angry parents and possible removal from the school.

All of Miss Yosano’s shouts bounced off of him. She had made a limit of fifty for the boys on the pacer test, and if they didn’t make it they’d get an F for the test. If they made it she’d give them an A. There was no in-between with her. After this, there would be only one day left and then the first week of school would be over. One less week of gym.

“50,” The voice said.

Immediately Akutagawa stopped. He collapsed to the ground in a heap of sweat. He wasn’t the only one who had to stop. He glanced around the room. There were so many who had stopped. He peered over his shoulder at Atsushi. He was still going. That boy had legs of steel. At the beginning of the test, Atsushi had been worried he wouldn’t make it to the other side and had sprinted after every single beep. Akutagawa had tried to tell him he’d be fine and that the purpose of the test was to pace himself. Zero of what Akutagawa said had made it into the boy’s skull.

He watched with wide eyes as the numbers stacked and more people stopped running. Either they gave up or their bodies gave out. The only people left were the few cross country runners in the school and the Fouten, Atsushi. Only to everyone else, Atsushi was a nobody, they weren’t aware he was a Fouten.

The people around Akutagawa started to groan with every second that passed by.

“How long is this damn kid gonna go?” “How the hell does this freak have so much endurance and speed?” Similar sentences spewed around him.

Akutagawa glanced at the clock. Thanks to Atsushi there would be no time for Miss Yosano to force them to do something more.

“247, end of level 21, end of test.”

Atsushi skidded across the floor and collided with the wall. He slid down the wall and fell onto his back, his chest lifted up and down quickly. Akutagawa moved to his side.

“Are you okay kid?” Miss Yosano called. Atsushi gave her a thumbs up. “That’s good, I didn’t want to file any injury reports. Alright, head to your locker rooms! Bell rings in three minutes!” The students dashed towards the locker rooms.

“I feel like I’m going to puke,” Atsushi mumbled.

“Do you need help getting to the bathroom?” Akutagawa asked.

Atsushi shook his head. “No, I’m used to running like that. I just need a few minutes.”

Running? Why was he used to running?
“The only thing I’m used to running away from is my problems,” Akutagawa said.

Atsushi chuckled and managed a small smile.

“You okay oh innocent one?” Another boy asked.

Akutagawa’s muscles tensed at the sight of the redhead. Tanizaki. The first day of PE had consisted of both of them hanging around Atsushi and trying there very best not to notice one another. Actually, it was more of Akutagawa trying to not make eye contact with him, and Tanizaki eyeing him as if he was thinking of whether or not to say something.

Atsushi tried to push himself to his feet and immediately fell. Both boys caught him.

“Oops, sorry, my head just spun a bit,” Atsushi laughed a little.

“Hey, little men,” Miss Yosano called. She held up three pink slips of paper. “I got each of you a pass, seeing as the bell is about to ring.” The bell rang. “Get out of my gym.”

“You don’t have to be a bitch about it,” Tanizaki snapped. Akutagawa’s grip around Atsushi tightened. His breath became shaky as he bit his lip so hard blood seeped into his mouth.

“Excuse me?” Yosano asked. “If I wanted to I could break your skull with my hands.”

“Try me,” Tanizaki said. He was so oblivious to everything.

Yosano smirked. “You have no idea where you are, do you? Well, hope you figure it out by the end of the semester otherwise you’ll be booted from the school.” She flipped her hair and walked away from them. “Oh if you figure out what I’m talking about your not permitted to tell anyone else. You’ll also be booted from the school if you do.”

She strolled away without looking back. Most people would be booted if they told someone else. No one had told Akutagawa about that rule when he figured it out in seventh grade. Nobody could hold him accountable since he had no idea he couldn’t tell Gin. So he was a rare occasion where he could stay.

“What?” Atsushi said. Akutagawa narrowed his brows. His roommate’s voice was duller than usual, it sounded more passive. “First they teach us what's inside a bomb, and now there’s this? This is too overwhelming.”

“They’re trying to scare us,” Tanizaki said. “They probably want us to be scared of them so we cower and let them rule over us.”

“Well, so far it’s working,” Atsushi said.

“Atsushi,” Akutagawa whispered. His eyes drifted towards Tanizaki but he forced them to the ground. “W-we should probably head out.”

“We should head out?” Atsushi asked. Akutagawa gave a curt nod. Atsushi managed to climb to his feet before stumbling towards the changing room. They quickly changed and left to go to the cafeteria. Akutagawa’s body didn’t release tension until Tanizaki was gone and Gin’s dorkish smile spread across her face. He took a deep breath and let the tension float into the air and out of sight.

“But I don’t want to,” Dazai whined.

“Dazai Osamu get off your ass and grab your own fucking fork,” Chuuya said through gritted teeth. He crossed his arms and his eyes drifted to Akutagawa. The younger boy quirked his brow. Chuuyas eyes closed. He was tired, and Dazai’s attitude was not doing anything to rid him of his exhaustion. Had he slept at all? Akutagawa’s eyes drifted to the food in front of the older boy. None of it was touched. Unlikely he had.

“You’re not going to be able to continue on at all today without eating,” Oda said. “And I know how much you hate missing class.”

Chuuya ran his fingers through his hair and Dazai grabbed his hand. A small smile appeared on the red-heads lips.

“I need to eat, I know,” he said, “I just, I don’t, I feel like anything that enters my mouth isn’t going to sit well and…”

“You don’t want to?” Dazai asked.

Chuuya nodded. “I don’t feel hungry and I don’t feel like I deserve to.”

“Are you okay?” Atsushi asked. “Sorry, that’s a stupid question.”

Chuuya shook his head. “It’s not stupid.” The boy sighed. “I think I’m okay. Normally the pain doesn’t hit this badly so it’s overwhelming. I know it will leave eventually but right now it fucking sucks .”

Atsushi nodded in understanding. Obviously, he didn’t understand. “Depression,” Akutagawa whispered.

“Thanks,” he whispered back.

“Could any of you help me tutor some middle schoolers after hours today?” Oda asked. “A few of the people who used to help dropped so now I’m short again this week.”

“Haha, no,” Dazai said, “and not just because there middle school kids. I decided to take more credits than last year.”

“Why would you do that?” Chuuya asked. “You were absolutely dying from work overload last year.”

“Because I didn’t want to leave someone to suffer from the number of credits he took on his own,” Dazai looked at Akutagawa. “Did you sleep at all last night? Because I achieved two hours.”

“I couldn’t fall asleep,” he said with a sigh. “My stomach kept twisting when I thought of everything I could be doing and panicked. I tried.” He really had tried to sleep. He had managed to push away his anxiety and relax for five minutes before even more tasks clouded his mind. His parents had signed him up for his classes. If he had tried to reason with them he would have been met with nothing but disappointed glares.

“As long as you tried, sweety,” Chuuya said, “I’m still proud of you, and I can come help Oda since we won’t be able to work on our presentation until your done anyway.”

“I’ll show up, but I’ll be getting the help,” Gin said.

“I can try to help,” Atsushi said, “but I suck at math and nearly every subject, so I don’t know what help I’ll be.”

“Motivation from someone else who’s struggling and is older than them is just as great as being able to help,” Oda said.

“Okay, then I’ll come,” Atsushi said. While Atsushi, Chuuya, and Oda, were going to be helping a bunch of small kids, Dazai and Akutagawa were going to be cramming, papers and homework. Akutagawa would rather be with small people who made him want to curl up into a ball and cry than be talking over a chat to discuss topics they’d been studying. He really didn’t want to do either. Oda would understand if he didn’t want to go because of his anxiety, but his professor still forced him to participate in the chat. Perhaps he would actually prefer the kids more. Either way, he didn’t want to find out.

 

~

 

Kids are scary. Especially kids who threatened to throw textbooks at you and then followed through with those threats. Chuuya had stepped in on Atsushi’s behalf more than once. While Atsushi wasn’t good at math, he had found he was very good at giving tips on how to study and memorize things. Even though he normally forgot everything he had memorized immediately after the test. All of these techniques had worked at his old school, he hoped they would work here too. He had willing shared and helped multiple middle schoolers, yet they had still thrown there math textbooks at him when he said he couldn’t help them. It wasn’t his fault he could barely do the basics let alone find X when the problem looked something like a mountain of numbers.

He had only fended them off once by using one of the most overused jokes in the history of jokes. Dear math, please stop telling me to find your X, she’s not coming back. Even though the joke is overused, seventh and eighth graders apparently still found it hysterical. Chuuya had suggested telling them he was a member of the Foutens because then they’d leave him alone. Atsushi just laughed and said, “Wouldn’t students knowing I’m one of you ruin your reputation?” Chuuya then made threats to physically fight him if he kept talking bad about himself. (1)

“How the hell is this supposed to make any sense!” One of the girls yelled at Oda. “It’s supposed to be a verb because it ends in ‘-ing’ how the hell is running a noun?”

“Because in this sentence it’s a thing, not an action,” Oda said. The girl rolled her blue eyes and ran her fingers through one of her pigtails. “You’ll start to notice when gerunds appear just keep practicing.” The girl groaned and started packing up her things. “Where are you going?”

“I have practice duh,” she said with another eye roll.

She swung her backpack onto her shoulder and walked towards the exit of the library. “See you next week Kyouka,” Chuuya called. She flipped him off and disappeared.

“Who was she?” Atsushi asked.

“Kyouka Izumi,” Chuuya said, “a sixth grader. She’s the same age as-” He went silent. Atsushi narrowed his brows and looked at him concerned. “Sorry, I probably just made you worry but there’s no need to. For a second I thought you were Akutagawa I guess. You’ll know soon. It’s only a matter of time until that one rears their head. I’m not really the best person to tell you so just wait a few more days at most.”

Atsushi nodded. He was still confused, but if Chuuya told him to wait he would. Tutoring only lasted what felt like a few minutes after that. They started packing up and Gin helped them, from wherever she had been sitting. They were almost done when the there was a tug on the back of his shirt. He glanced over his shoulder.

“What’s wrong Akutagawa?” Atsushi asked. His roommate met his eyes briefly before looking at the ground.

“Ch-Chuuya is surrounded by a bunch of kids, and um...yeah,” he mumbled.

Atsushi looked towards the bookshelves. Chuuya was standing on a stool in order to slide book back into their correct spots. There were some kids sitting by the bookshelves but they weren’t talking to Chuuya or surrounding him. In fact, Atsushi could only count three.

“None of the kids are going to care, just go talk to him,” Atsushi said.

“I-I can’t do that,” Akutagawa said quickly, “if I go over the kids will wonder who’s walking by so they’ll look at me, and then I’ll interact with a Fouten, and why would a regular ninth grader interact with a Fouten? So they’ll stare longer, and I’ll have interrupted their train of thought from whatever they were reading, and them that’ll be annoying when they try to get back into it, and-”

“Okay, okay,” Atsushi said, “sorry I wasn’t thinking, I’ll go grab him.” He took a few steps away. “And don’t dare think you’re bothering me by asking for help because you never could.”

He shuffled around the table and towards his other friend. Could someone feel bad for accidentally making someone panic? Because Atsushi did. How had he possibly forgotten that Akutagawa would panic even from three kids? Atsushi didn’t mind helping him at all, but now he felt like a jerk for even proposing that Akutagawa go talk to Chuuya on his own. It had completely slipped his mind that the other boy would struggle. The three kids did look up at Atsushi but didn’t give him a second thought before continuing their work.

“Chuuya,” Atsushi said. The older boy peeked down at him. “Akutagawa is here and needs to talk to you for some reason.”

Chuuya narrowed his brows curiously and looked past him. He stepped down from the stool and wandered over to Akutagawa. Atsushi followed but stayed a few steps behind. Akutagawa began to whisper something that Atsushi couldn’t hear.

“What’s happening?” Gin asked Atsushi.

“I’m not sure,” Atsushi said. Dazai had been with Akutagawa, did something happened to the Fouten leader? “Akutagawa showed up looking for Chuuya.”

“Did something happen to Dazai?” She asked.

“That’s what I was thinking might have happened but I don’t know.”

Chuuya nodded after Akutagawa had finished speaking. “Okay, so Kouyou is going to take us out for coffee. Could all of you wrap up cleaning here for me? Sorry to skip out on you, but once your done meet me in my mom’s office, okay?” He left without a response.

Atsushi and the other two Fouten member looked at Akutagawa. Akutagawa tensed and quickly looked at the three of them before looking at the ground. “I w-would but I-I shouldn’t, um, say, with-without, um, permission.”

Oda nodded and continued picking up empty juice boxes and other trash. The rest only took around ten minutes and they headed towards Kouyou’s office.

Crash! The sound echoed through the hall. No one moved. The door to Kouyou’s office swung open and Dazai tumbled into Odasaku.

“Sorry,” He said quickly, “I have to go,” He wiped one of his puffy red eyes and bolted down the hallway. Odasaku’s arm extended but Dazai slipped through his grasp.

“Don’t worry Oda, he’s getting gauze,” Kouyou said.

What? Atsushi heart pounded against his rib cage as he and the rest of them quickly rushed into the room. A small puddle of blood was forming on the rug. Chuuya was pressing a kleenex tightly to the palm of his hand. The kleenex was bright red and didn’t seem to be doing anything to stop the flow of blood from Chuuya’s hand.

“What happened to my son?” Odasaku asked.

Chuuya sighed. “Dazai bumped into the table. A vase fell and I tried to grab it. It hit the ground and a shard flew into my hand. Don’t worry I’ll be fine.”

Oda’s knees bent and he crouched by Chuuya. The redhead's body swayed before leaning against the other boy. Atsushi and the others shuffled inside and sat on the ground, far enough away so Chuuya wouldn’t feel like he was suffocating but hopefully close enough to where he felt they were there. Nobody spoke. A thick silence coated every inch of the room, with every drop of blood that fell from Chuuya’s hand the seconds felt heavier.

Pat, pat, pat. Footsteps bounced off of the walls and flew into the room. A tall man in a green yukata and sandals appeared in the doorway. He calmly moved forward knelt next to Chuuya. Dazai was right behind him but remained in the doorway. The Fouten Leader’s eyes wouldn’t meet Chuuya’s, his lips were curved deeply to the ground, and he gripped the sleeves of his shirt so hard his knuckles turned white.

The man kneeling by Chuuya was the Vice Principal, Atsushi had seen pictures, but why he was here Atsushi didn’t understand. Wasn’t this something for their nurse? Miss Yosano was terrifying, but was the principle the best candidate to deal with a deep, glass cut?

Chuuya showed the Vice Principal his palm and sure enough, he began to clean it. One of Chuuya’s eyes twitched when he began wrapping the gauze around the cut.

“Make sure to change the bandage in a few hours, I assume you know why,” he said. He gave Chuuya a roll of gauze. “First order of business is to get sleep since it’s seemed you’ve lost quite a bit of blood.” Odasaku grabbed Chuuya’s arm and started helping him to his feet. “Get over here and help your boyfriend Osamu Mori.”

Dazai’s eyes snapped to the Vice Principal. “That’s not my last name.” He said.

“It’s still your family names,” he said, “Now what’s more important, correcting your name or helping your aching boyfriend?”

Dazai’s eyes widened. He swore and slapped each of his cheeks before he walked up to Chuuya, threw the boys other arm over his shoulder, and helped Odasaku carry him towards the door.

“There’s a new one?” The Vice Principal asked.

Atsushi jumped and spun to look at the man. His heart pounded aggressively against his chest. He couldn’t bring his eyes to meet the Vice Principals for more than a few seconds.

Kouyou chuckled. “This is Atsushi Nakajima, Fukuzawa.” Kouyou said, “He’s a new freshman at this school, because of unfortunate circumstances.”

“Unfortunate?” He questioned.

“Basically, the kids in his orphanage are all asses,” Gin declared in a very loud voice.

“No they are not,” Atsushi said.

Gin quirked an eyebrow. “They framed you.”

She was right, but it still wasn’t okay to be mean. “They might not have been the best people, but you shouldn’t swear at them and call them harmful names, Gin,” he said as firmly as he could. “It’s not right. They’re their own people with their own problems. I just happened to be the output of their rage about those problems.”

“You're not going survive long,” Vice Principal Fukuzawa said.

“I’ve been told that a lot.”

“Don’t worry Mr. Fukuzawa,” Gin said, “we’ve been protecting him and will continue to do so.”

He nodded. Kouyou smiled. “I’ll bring all of you out for coffee once Chuuya takes a nap.”

Atsushi nodded and followed the rest of the group out of the door. His head pounded and his mind swam in a sea of fog all the way to Dazai’s room. The entire day had felt like a bundle of moments smashed into a blur of time. It was like a cookie that had come out from the oven perfectly melted together but then when the spatula lifted it up it fell apart and became a pile of crumbs. He wasn’t even sure why he was following them. Chuuya was going to go to bed and then they’d probably leave the room, so what was the point? Sure, he wanted to make sure Chuuya got back to his room alright, but all Atsushi wanted to be doing was be under his blankets and never move again.

“Are you okay?” Dazai’s words sliced through his thoughts.

“Y-yeah,” Atsushi said with the best smile he could muster. Dazai raised his eyebrows. It probably hadn’t even looked like a smile.

“What’s wrong?” Odasaku asked

“Really, nothing is wrong, Odasaku,” Atsushi said, “I don’t feel sad or anything.” All of them were looking at him. “I’m serious, why are all of you looking at me like, like however your looking.”

“Because you’re not acting like yourself,” Akutagawa said. “Why?”

“I don’t know,” he said quietly, “sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” Dazai said. “Just try your best to explain how your feeling, we might be able to help.”

“I-I don’t know,” Atsushi said shaking his head. “I mean the entire days been in a fog and become a big mush of time, but earlier it didn’t feel that way, it was right before lunch that the day started melting together.”

“Numb?” Akutagawa asked, “do you feel numb?”

Atsushi narrowed his brows. “Maybe? I guess that’s a good word for it. I don’t really know.”

“Wow,” Gin said, “everyone’s depressed today.”

“Come here my son,” Dazai said. Atsushi stepped towards him and the older boy wrapped his arm around Atsushi and gave him an awkward side hug. “That will be better once we get this man to bed and I have two arms to hug you with.”

They were in front of Dazai and Chuuya’s room. A small drop of whatever was inside of him trickled down his cheek. Dazai squeezed his hand.

“This is exactly what I’m talking about,” Atsushi said, “I didn’t even realize we were here.”

“Let’s get inside and we’ll talk it through more, okay?” Dazai asked. Atsushi barely dipped his head, it was a miracle the older boy noticed the nod.

Atsushi stood next to Dazai as he unlocked the door and pushed it open. He went to take a step forward but Dazai’s tight grip held him back. A small blonde girl leaned in front of Dazai’s mirror, straightening the red bow in her hair and dusting off her red dress. She ran her fingers through her long blonde hair over and over again. Next, to her, a boy sat in a chair humming. Half of his hair was red and the other half was white. He held a doll with blood pouring out of one eye tightly in his arms.

“Elise?” Dazai asked. His grip tightened around Atsushi’s hand.

The girl turned her bright blue eyes to them and the corners of her mouth turned up into a devilish grin. “Hello, big brother.”

Chapter Text

“Get out,” Dazai said. His lips were pressed into a tight line and his eyes were narrowed. The girl smirked. Her eyes flickered over the people in the doorway and rested on Atsushi. They narrowed and a chill traveled through Atsushi’s spine. Why did this girl look like she was ready to kill him?

“You let someone new in,” she said flatly.

“Yeah, and my business doesn’t concern you,” Dazai said through gritted teeth. “Get out, Elise.”

“Make me,” she smirked.

Dazai stepped forward and the boy next to her was on his feet in seconds.

“You’re far more of an idiot than dad realizes,” she shook her head. “You do realize an anti-Fouten group is forming, don’t you? Some people don’t like how little the Foutens do to counteract the way this school works. You said yourself, big brother. You’re a representation of all of us, and yet most of you shouldn’t be here.”

“Atsushi shouldn’t be here either,” Dazai snapped.

“I don’t doubt that,” she said. “That boy isn’t who I was referring to.”

Silence fell over the room. Someone was sent to this school for a just cause? The whole point behind the Foutens was a group the people who weren’t supposed to be here, right?

“Just admit the people in your little group are just the people you want to hang out with,” Elise told Dazai. Atsushi’s chest clenched. She was wrong. “it has nothing to do with this school. It’s just your friend group acting like you’re supposed to represent the school.”

“You’re wrong,” Atsushi said.

A breathy laugh emitted from Elise’s lips. “How would you know newbie? You haven’t had enough experience in this school yet. Give it a month or two and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. After all, big brother is so self-righteous it will be hard to miss.”

“You’re wrong,” Atsushi said. “If they were people he wanted to hang out with than I wouldn’t be here.”

“Excuse?” All of the other Foutens said.

“Well, not immediately,” Atsushi said, “You knew nothing about me at first. I don’t think some of you would have wanted to add a random stranger to your group. So how do you explain that?”

“Dazai had a feeling you’d be a fun addition to the group,” Elise said, “and of course everyone else hopped aboard the idea.”

“I wouldn’t have,” Akutagawa said quickly. His eyes darted to the ground and he pulled on his sleeve.

“See?” Chuuya said. “The socially anxious bean probably would have had more of a heart attack than he already did.”

“Oh please,” Elise said, “how did Dazai even know this kid was going to be like most of you? A feeling. Akutagawa Ryuunosuke trusted Dazai’s feelings, from your version of the story, which means he would also trust him from mine.”

“You don’t know how anyone would feel,” Chuuya said, “Both stories are completely different. You have no clue how Ryuunosuke would act.”

“It’s simple mathematics,” Elise said, “like how I can get my dad to buy me anything I want. So if you think-”

“Shut up already, damn it.” Dazai said, “you’re right Elise, alright? Everyone I want to hang out with are the people who aren’t supposed to be here. The Foutens are just my group of my friends but that’s all it ever has been. Do you think at first we were planning to become this school’s idles? No, is the answer. I was bored and decided to make life more interesting by harassing dad. We used ‘Foutens’ as a joke. Isn’t that obvious? We used fucking google translate. If we were serious we would have used an actual translation.”

“As if,” Elise said, “you would have still used google. You don’t care enough to be accurate.”

“Fine, whatever you say,” Dazai sighed, “now make your point in the next ten seconds and then get out of my room.”

“Let me join the Foutens,” Elise said.

“Absolutely not,” Dazai said.

“Look I have a couple friends in the group looking to get rid of all of you,” Elise said, “if you have me on your side I could be helpful to ensure nothing extreme happens to anyone of you. I can even look into what they're doing from time to-”

“I already said no and your time is up, you need to leave.”

“I already told you, make me.”

Dazai stepped towards her. The boy next to her darted in front of her and held up a gun. Dazai laughed and took another step towards her.

“Dazai!” Chuuya yelled. Atsushi’s heart shot into his throat.

“Go ahead, shoot,” Dazai said as he took another step towards the boy. “Relieve me from this torturous place. All you have to do is pull the trigger and you’ll give me what I want most.” He took several steps until the gun was touching his chest.

“Dazai,” Elise said in a low voice.

“Dazai,” Chuuya’s voice cracked, “back away.”

Dazai tried to take another step forward and the barrel pushed deeper into his chest.

“That is enough Q.” Atsushi spun around to face, a man in a black coat. The man sighed as he took a step forward and Atsushi and Chuuya moved out of his way. His and Chuuya’s eyes briefly met before he stepped inside of the room. He looked familiar, probably from the orientation, but Atsushi couldn’t remember who he had been. His hair was dark and mostly pulled back except for a few pieces that hung on either side of his face. “What are you doing in your brother’s room, Elise?”

“I was just coming to say hello,” she said with a big smile, “I haven’t seen him for nearly a year after all.”

“Why is she here Osamu?” Mori Ougai. The name clicked in Atsushi’s head. He was the principal of the school and Dazai father.

“Why are you asking me?” Dazai asked, “she’s obviously the trustworthy one.”

“Osamu, do you want help to help you or not?”

“As if I need it. But fine, she came to harass me about letting her join the Foutens if you must know.”

“Of course I didn’t,” Elise said, “dad he’s lying just to get me in trouble. After everything he’s done to the school are you really going to listen to him?”

The principal chuckled. “Elise, you have a passion for getting under your brother’s skin. I doubt you came here just to say hello.”

Elise’s lip jutted out and became a massive pout. She must have learned some things from Dazai, seeing as Atsushi found it to be a very effective pout. Not quite Dazai’s level of pouting, but it was close.

Mori’s eyes glanced down at the gun and widened. “Put down the gun Q,” Mori ordered. The boy instantly complied. “Let’s go Elise.”

“Fine,” she sighed.

Elise strode passed her father and Q followed closely at her heels. Mori followed her out but stopped when his eyes met Atsushi’s.

“I don’t believe we’ve met,” he said. “I’m Mori Ougai, Dazai’s father.”

He held out his hand and Atsushi shook it. “I-I’m Atsu-sushi Nakajima,” the words felt thick in his mouth and he felt like he was going to puke. Why was the principal effecting him this badly? He only held Atsushi’s entire fate in his hands. Oh, that’s why.

He briefly acknowledged everyone, except for Chuuya? His eyes merely passed over the boy standing directly next Atsushi. Before mumbling something to Dazai that made him glare at his father far harder than he had been.

“Hurry up!” Elise yelled back at her father. He complied and headed down the hall towards Elise.

The group of them headed into Dazai’s room. “Fuck you too!” Dazai yelled out the door once they were all inside and he slammed it shut.

“What did he say?” Chuuya asked.

“Bull shit,” Dazai seethed, “absolute bull shit.”

“Dazai,” Chuuya said putting a hand on his shoulder, “I can take it, whatever it was, and I have a right to know.”

The other boy took a deep breath and shook his head. “It wasn’t about you, surprisingly.” Silence filled the room. “You should sleep as much as possible before Kouyou shows up.”

Chuuya rolled his eyes. “At this point, she’ll probably show up in less than ten minutes. As long as I sit down for a bit I should be fine.” He collapsed on the floor and everyone shortly followed.

They remained quiet so long Atsushi felt like he might go insane. Gin seemed to be thinking the same thing. She fidgeted with everything she could get her hands on no matter how much damage she might do. Like playing around with a glass lamp’s cord for example.

Atsushi didn’t say anything though. No one did, not even Akutagawa. At least Chuuya’s prediction had come true. In less than ten minutes a soft knock sounded on the door. Gin rushed over to it and flung it open. Kouyou’s eyes were wide as she stared at Gin.

“Someone’s ready for coffee,” Kouyou said.

“That and being saved from this room,” Gin said, “we walked in and everything was just silent.”

“That’s very understandable, seeing as what just happened,” Kouyou said.

“I know but-,” Gin paused, “wait. How do you know something happened?”

“I’m not oblivious I can tell when Mori is a confused idiot,” Kouyou said her eyes darted to Dazai. “Especially when he’s trying to help, but someone is still a complete ass hole to him.”

“It’s not my fault,” Dazai said.

“Dazai, I understand that what he said didn’t help you, but he was trying to,” Kouyou said, “half of what he says you misinterpret. You decide what he’s going to say before he’s said it and you’re biased against any help he tries to offer.”

“But-”

“I am not finished Osamu,” Kouyou said, “I understand that sometimes what he says is the opposite of what you need to hear, but us parents aren’t mind readers. Especially the fathers, I’m biased. If we could read our children’s minds that would make our job a heck of a lot easier. So yes, probably wasn’t what you needed to hear, but he is trying .”

“What did he say?” Chuuya asked.

Dazai snorted. “He said my mother still loves me along with Elise. As if I’m that big of an idiot.”

“Your mother is a very shitty person, I do agree,” Kouyou said.

“Okay, that’s two swear words in one day, mom,” Chuuya said, “let’s tone it down.”

“Very well, coffee?” She asked.

Gin bolted out the door. “Hell, yeah.”

He followed the rest of the group through the door but stayed a few steps behind. Sometimes Atsushi wished his friends weren’t so vague. He didn’t want them to dig up old wounds but a little explanation would be nice from time to time. Then again if he asked they’d probably tell him, but he didn’t want them to feel like they had to say anything. If they didn’t want to tell him, though, and then felt awful obliged because he asked, he would feel worse than just remaining confused. Silence was going to be hard since everything seemed to fly over his head, but if it kept his friends from feeling bad he would gladly remain silent.

Kouyou unlocked the garage and all of them rushed for her van clawing their way to the front seat first.

“You know my rules,” Kouyou shouted, “the socially anxious get first dibs.”

A loud whine echoed from everyone as Akutagawa and Atsushi caught up to them. Akutagawa climbed into the front seat without any complaints from the others. Probably in fear of Kouyou’s wrath, which Atsushi had heard about but hadn’t seen.

The van was full of noise before they had even made it out of the campus. Atsushi had somehow managed to get one of the two seats in the middle row so he didn’t have to be in the middle of the war in the very back seat. It reminded him of the Return of the King, the final battle to decide the fate of the land of Middle Seats. For some reason, Gin didn’t mind being the center of the back seat.

Atsushi felt a tug on his sleeve and glanced forward at Akutagawa. “If you want Dazai to explain his mother just ask. I, I shouldn’t tell you but he’s normally fine with talking about it.”

Atsushi quickly shook his head. “He’s having fun right now I don’t want to ruin that.”

“You wouldn’t be ruining anything,” Dazai said. Atushi squeaked. Did this man have super-hearing or something? Because Atsushi had been whispering.

“Long story as short as possible,” Dazai started. Atsushi leaned back in his chair to hear him better. “So I was around, four when I was adopted by Mori and my mother because they didn’t think they could have kids. Low and behold, about two years later Elise was born. Now at first everything was fine. I had had my fears but my dad reassured me nothing would change. He managed to open this school about a year later, and things got a little rocky. We moved here and had a house in town that my mom, Elise, and I tended to stay at while my dad was at work, although sometimes we stayed on campus.

“Anyway, my mom and dad started having more fights. Add about two years and I figure out what their arguments are about. Me. My mother’s side was now that they had Elise they didn’t need me and they should send me to an orphanage or something. My father’s side was that they should keep me. Add about half a year of my mother ignoring me unless I do something to Elise or anything else bad, and my father divorces my mom. Elise was confused because my mother kept telling her she was better than me and eventually I would disappear and it would just be the two of them and her.

“At this point, I’m not in middle school yet so I technically can’t live on campus, and that’s where Kouyou comes in. I met her and Chuuya when the arguments started because my dad had wanted me to. He probably wanted the two of them there since Chuuya had experienced something similar with his shitty dad and then I still had a mother figure.”

“That was a great decision he made on your behalf, wasn’t it?” Kouyou interjected.

“Yeah, yeah,” Dazai grumbled. “Anyway my mom and dad divorced and my mother willing offered 98% custody of me to my father. I literally have to be with her once a year for a week. So yeah, that’s my mother.”

Atsushi stared at him. “Can I hurt her please,” Atsushi said, “not kill, I’ll just hurt her and then let one of you kill her because I’m guessing all of you would gladly do it.”

“None of you kids should get your hands dirty, yet,” Kouyou said, “so all of you can hurt her then I’ll kill her. Besides she barely has any guards anymore, seeing as she was kicked out after that whole fiasco and others.”

Chuuya coughed loudly. “Some of us aren’t aware mother,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Darn it, I forgot,” she said, “um, Atsushi, forget everything I just said.”

“What?” Atsushi asked. Nobody replied. Atsushi tried to peek around the front seat to see Akutagawa but he was leaning too far over to the window, he couldn’t see him. “I’m confused.”

“It’s okay Atsushi,” Gin said, “I don’t know what they’re talking about either, but apparently we’ll figure out the second semester of freshman year, so you’ll know soon.”

Atsushi’s gut turned. Something about that story didn’t seem right. “Are you lying?” Atsushi asked.

“Why would I lie to you?” She asked.

“To make me feel better.”

She didn’t respond at first. “Yeah, I’m lying. I know exactly what they’re talking about, but I wasn’t exactly lying about the second part. Just sort of lying.”

“Okay,” Atsushi mumbled. It was nice of her to try and help him, but he was even more confused afterward.

“Since we already seem in the mood,” Gin said, “does anyone else want to continue this exposition?” The van fell silent. “Ryuu? Chuuya? Oda? Anyone?” No one replied. “Well if it isn’t obvious Atsushi, my parent are very rich people who lead a very big industry. Being dyslexic and have no care for their business whatsoever, I’m the fuck up child. Their little genius Ryuunosuke is a frickin’ angel to them. I’m here because my parents had no other use for me. And Ryuu is here because...why are you here?”

“Because I would have been left alone to deal with my anxiety,” Akutagawa said, “and I didn’t want you to be left alone here. So I begged them to let me go with you. I literally had to get on my hands and knees and beg them. Also, cry, I had to cry a lot. Was this necessary?”

“No, I just figured since we already decided to fill this chapter or episode, I don’t know which one, with a bunch of explanation just so it would be longer, we should keep it going,” Gin said. Akutagawa rolled his eyes.

“What are you talking about?” Atsushi asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” Akutagawa said.

Gin gasped. “I am surprised at you Ryuu. It’s perfectly important to think about being inside of paper or a screen. You never know if this life is just a figment of your imagination and someone in a different world is controlling it through words or pictures.”

“We’re here,” Kouyou said. The car jolted into the parking place. “Oops.”

“Well, I suppose we should end this here then,” Gin sighed overdramatically.

“You need to stop,” Akutagawa said.

“Never.”

Chapter Text

“Remind me again why were decorating this banner like this,” Atsushi said. Large clumps of paint covered his hands, and thanks to Gin, also his face. “Or could explain why we just spray painted the wall. Of the cafeteria. In the middle of the night?”

“Wow that wasn’t subtle at all,” Gin said.

“What?” Atsushi asked.

“I’m just saying that if this was the beginning of some episode or chapter of something that would have the most unsubtle way to catch viewers up to what’s happening in the current timeline,” Gin rolled her eyes, “duh.”

“I’m confused.”

“To answer your question, Dazai has a new flame of passion for this school’s destruction,” Oda said bluntly, “he has to show up Elise.”

“That wasn’t very subtle either,” Gin said.

“I was enjoying having fewer of these schemes to deal with,” Akutagawa grumbled.

“Get to work emo,” Gin said, “we have to get this banner done and hang it up before breakfast.”

“We still have three hours to do that Gin,” Akutagawa said, “I can mope as much as I want to before then. Besides we can’t do much until we get more paint. Also, since when have I been considered an emo?”

“Since the beginning of time,” Gin replied.

Atsushi sighed. He didn’t mind getting up at two AM, but couldn’t Dazai plan to do so not the day after a Disney marathon? Sure, the coffee the day before had had all of them buzzing on caffeine late into the night, well everyone except for Akutagawa, but couldn’t he have a little mercy?

“Any other question Atsushi?” Oda asked.

“Too many,” Atsushi said, “but if you're talking just about the banner than one. Isn’t it kind of...I don’t know...rude?”

“That’s the point tiger-man,” Dazai yelled from the entrance a wide grin on his lips. Atsushi’s heart lurched forward and his arms snapped into his chest. “Try not to die.”

Atsushi inhaled until his lungs couldn’t bear another breath. “Tiger-man?” Atsushi asked. “I am anything but a tiger.”

“Not according to everyone else in your gym class,” Dazai said, “not after the pacer test anyways. Apparently, that’s what some people are calling you, and they think you a secret weapon of the Foutens. Not that any of them are sure that you’re part of us though. Unless Elise was a little prick and told people our entire regiment.”

“There’s about a seventy-three percent chance that if that hasn’t happened yet it will by the end of the day,” Akutagawa said.

Chuuya’s eyes narrowed at the pale boy as he walked through the door, arms full of buckets of paint piled on top of each other. “You don’t have to speculate percentages for everything. That will just spike everyone’s anxiety.”

Akutagawa’s mouth opened slightly but quickly closed as his eyes darted to the ground. Atsushi could see they were glistening. “Sorry,” he muttered.

“Don’t be mean Chuuya, I asked him to while we went to grab paint,” Dazai said.

“Oh,” Chuuya said. “Sorry Akutagawa, but Dazai haven’t you run, whatever it is you run, through your head at least ten times by now? I don’t really want to hear the percentages of the two people I’m worried about the most being found out.”

“Chuuya~” Dazai said, “I wanted to know if I was just overreacting with my numbers. Turns out I was. He was helping. We will definitely make sure not to tell you next time but it’s not his fault.”

“I wasn’t trying to say it was.”

“I’m very certain you made him feel like he fucked up, and the anxious boy doesn’t need that,” Dazai said.

Chuuya’s eyes widened. “It’s fine Dazai,” Akutagawa interrupted. “I’m fine, it just stung a bit.”

“I am so sorry Ryuunosuke,” Chuuya said, his voice overflowed with guilt.

“It’s fine,” Akutagawa replied plainly, “You didn’t know. Besides if we wait any longer to open the paint Gin might explode from over-excitement.”

Gin’s lips cracked into a wide toothy grin. “Bring me the colors!”

Chuuya slowly placed his foot in front of him and brought the next foot forward. “You’re killing me smalls,” Dazai said.

“I am not small,” Chuuya yipped.

“Let’s move!” Gin said.

“Alright, alright,” Chuuya walked over to them normally and Atsushi helped him set down the paint. “Okay let’s not start another paint war, okay Gin? We need to keep some paint in the storage closet for future shenanigans.”

The corner of Akutagawa’s mouth lifted and a small star danced in the corner of his eye. Yet he didn’t say anything.

“Hold up,” Dazai said to an arguing Gin and Chuuya, “Akutagawa it seems like you had a joke that you thought wasn’t good enough to say. Let’s hear it.”

“I,” Akutagawa started. He bit his lip. “I just thought how the paint kind of reminded me of myself,” he paused, “in the closet.”

“Ey!” Several Foutens exclaimed together.

“Until a little bit ago you completely were,” Oda said.

“Yeah,” Akutagawa said, “thanks to all of you I had to leave the comfortable darkness.”

“And he asks why we think he’s an emo,” Gin said quietly.

“I am not,” Akutagawa insisted.

“He’s not exactly,” Dazai said, “I remember when I went through that phase and it was much worse than him.”

“Same,” Chuuya said, “only my mother wouldn’t let me dye my hair black, and I realized I had bright orange hair. All in all my emo phase lasted about a week before I gave up on living my dark poetic dream.”

“That would be an interesting experiment,” Oda said, “Chuuya with black hair.”

“Ooh~” Dazai said.

“Intriguing,” Gin said.

“I am officially interested,” Atsushi said.

“That sounds awful,” Chuuya said.

“How are we going to get Kouyou to agree to it though?” Dazai asked, “she’s a great mother but she loves Chuuya’s hair far too much to let us dye it.”

“We should paint a poster,” Chuuya said. He may have meant that to get them on track, but it didn’t exactly work in his favor.

“Do we have black paint?” Gin asked. “It would need some work once dried but you could get it out of hair right?”

A silence filled the room.

“No,” Chuuya said firmly.

“Oda get a rope, we’ll tie him down if we have to,” Dazai said.

“Yes sir,” Oda said.

Chuuya bolted for the door. Gin slid in front of him and he instantly changed directions. Atsushi and Gin started chasing him. They jumped over the paint bucket and an Akutagawa who had curled up into a ball to remain a neutral party. Chuuya picked up his speed and bolted towards a side door.

Gin swore as he managed to get about three yards in front of them. Fire pulsed through Atsushi’s legs as he picked up speed as well. Sounds of sirens roared through his ears and he could faintly see the rotating red and blue lights. He scooted in front of the door right as Chuuya reached for the handel. The redhead's eyes widened and he spun on his heel.

The short boy was lifted into the air with a yelp as his boyfriend draped him over his shoulder.

“Dazai,” Chuuya said with a breathy laugh. “Fine, I give in but only the tips of my hair. I don’t want to have to get paint off of my whole head.”

They conceded and Dazai carried Chuuya over to the paint buckets where Akutagawa had continued painting the banner. Gin grabbed a small paint brush and dipped it into the black paint. Her fingers wrapped around a Chuuya’s hair and started painting it.

“I’m going to regret this,” Chuuya grumbled.

“No rope then?” Oda asked. He entered the cafeteria with a long coil of rope wrapped around his shoulder.

“Not for Chuuya but we will need it for setting up the banner,” Dazai said.

Oda threw the rope next to the banner and helped Atsushi open up more cans of paint. After Gin finished Chuuya’s hair she quickly painted the rest of the banner and Akutagawa and Oda went to work hanging it up. Footsteps sounded down the hall. The group scurried to pick up their supplies and booked it out of the cafeteria.

They ran through the halls and passed the history classroom. They continued running until they reached Oda’s room. Odasaku scrambled to open the door and shut the door behind them while everyone else set down the paint.

“Alright, I’ll see all of you at breakfast,” Chuuya said, once they had finished setting everything down. “I have to go finish a poster for class.”

“Is it that big AP Agricultural Science, project Juniors have been complaining about?” Dazai asked.

“Yes,” Oda and Chuuya growled in unison.

“Good luck,” Dazai’s smile stretched from ear to ear. A stream of orange flashed by Atsushi’s vision as Dazai’s boyfriend tackled him.

Chuuya hopped up and didn’t look back at Dazai as he walked out of the room.

“Aw Chuuya~” The door shut behind him and a massive pout pulled out Dazai’s lower lip.

Atsushi and Akutagawa were the next to leave. They decided that both of them wanted to get a little sleep if they could. In the end, Atsushi didn’t but he wasn’t sure about Akutagawa.

They headed down to breakfast. With every step, Atsushi stomach folded into itself again and again and twisted into an even tighter knot. Atsushi grabbed lunch and tried his best to “act casual” which as soon as someone tells you that’s what you're supposed to do, the exact opposite always happens. So as Atsushi nearly fell into three garbage cans on his way to their table, he had plenty of time to reflect back on his life and remember once again how much those trash cans symbolized his life.

Atsushi sat down and didn’t even take three bites before Dazai smiled. “The trap has been set,” he said. “Hurry up and we're getting into position in five minutes.”

Atsushi quickly plunged his plastic fork into the French toast sticks and stuck a full one in his mouth. He barely got through all of them before Dazai gave the signal and Atsushi and Akutagawa threw their remains in the trash.

He and Akutagawa ducked to the side of the lunch room as Gin and Oda moved towards the banner while Chuuya and Dazai stayed in place. Atsushi watched the main doors swing open as Gin and Oda casually pulled on each of the rope. The banner fell as the Principal and Vice Principal walked through the doors. Immediately after the two Foutens bolted towards Atsushi and Akutagawa. They opened the side door and Oda and Gin slipped through. The quickly and silently shut it again.

The banner was pulled toward the ground and revealed their bright painted letters reading: try us fuckers, just try us. Chuuya and Dazai jumped onto the table and they imitated the image on the banner of a hand flipping off the adults.

“Scatter!” Dazai yelled. Not only did Chuuya and he run towards Atsushi, but a bunch of the kids in lunchroom stood up and ran out each door yelling and chuckling. Dazai and Chuuya slipped through the door and Atsushi and Akutagawa followed them.

“What was the point of this?” Atsushi asked.

“To declare war obviously,” Dazai said, a large grin spanned across his lips.

“Wait, who are we declaring war against?” Chuya asked.

“Oh, Chuuya~” Dazai singsonged, “anyone who wants to try to fight us.”

 

...

 

Ten minutes. The words Mr. Hirotsu spoke very deftly entered Atsushi’s ears. Eight minutes. Seeing as he was basically telling the class what they needed to study for the test, he should have been paying attention, but he wanted to finally be free. Seven minutes. He was still shaking from the adrenaline of running out of breakfast room and despite what Dazai said, he still felt like he was going to get in trouble. Four minutes. It was so close, to the end of the school day.

A loud noise popped over the speakers. “Can Ryuunosuke Akutagawa please report to Vice Principal Fukuzawa’s office? Can Ryuunosuke Akutagawa please report to the Vice Principal’s office? Thank you.” Another loud pop. Hirotsu continued as normal.

That was strange. The vice principal wouldn’t blame Akutagawa for all of this, would he? Atsushi pushed back the thought. Of course not, if anyone took the blame it wouldn’t be him. He had barely done anything.

The bell rang and Tanizaki walked with him towards the library. The boy continually glanced at Atsushi and then back down the hallway as Atsushi flickered through the group chat. It was mainly Chuuya spamming to get Akutagawa’s attention to figure out what was happening. Oda had joined him and Gin shortly after.

 

SushiRoll: Akutagawa I’m also worried, why were you called?

 

“So are you part of the Foutens?” Atsushi’s phone nearly slipped through his hands from the sudden question.

“What?” His voice cracked. Very smooth.

Tanizaki quirked his brow. “There have been a lot of rumors flying around and the leader of the Fouten’s little sister is at the core of most of them.” Darn Elise. “Not that I truly believe all of them, especially the ones that make you out to be their assassin.”

“What?” Atsushi repeated.

“But I do believe you’re part of them,” Tanizaki said firmly.

Atsushi chuckled in the best convincing, that’s insane chuckle he could muster. “On what grounds do you believe that?”

“Three,” Tanizaki said, “for starters, you have some fucking fast legs. I found that out of the pacer test.”

“Okay, if I was part of the Foutens, that has nothing to do with it,” Atsushi said.

“I don’t doubt that, but it would be helpful for them. Second, you hang out with Akutagawa who hangs out with his sister, who we all know is a Fouten. Everyone already has a pretty good idea that Akutagawa is a Fouten too, but no one knows for sure. And third, when the Foutens disappeared from the cafeteria, you disappeared too.”

Atsushi swallowed hard. There was no reason he couldn’t tell Tanizaki about being part of the Foutens. Dazai had told him it was his choice on who he told, but he was afraid people would give the Foutens a bad rep if they knew he was part of them.



SupremeOverlord : AKUTAGAWA WE HAVE A CRISIS ON OUR HANDS!!! ONLY YOU CAN AID!

 

There was no reply. Atsushi shrugged. “It’s up for your interpretation.”

Tanizaki rolled his eyes. “Anyway, about the chemistry lab…” Tanizaki jumped into a long strand of statements until they had arrived in the library where he then ran to find some book he had been talking about. Atsushi found a table towards the back and pulled out his math textbook.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Atsushi pulled his phone back out and scrolled through the sudden repetition of messages. Akutagawa had replied.

 

Tweedledum : Dazai if you got stuck in a garbage can again, it’s where you belong. I’m not coming to help

 

SupremeOverlord : Harsh…

 

Tweedledee : THERES MORE THAN ONE UF US INVOLVED INT HIS CRISIS!!!

 

ChuuAbleDogToy : How fast did you typ that message?

 

ChuuAbleDogToy : *type*, the one time auto correct doesn’t want work

 

Odaddysaku : What’s the issue?

 

Tweedledee : Everytime you say anything you’re name catches me of guard Oda

 

SushiRoll : Um...Gin, that’s the wrong “your”

 

Tweedledee : Time to go back to first grade english everyone

 

Tweedledum : …

 

Tweedledum : Dazai, did you seriously just send me a private text just so they wouldn’t know what you want me to change my name to?

 

SupremeOverlord : Yep

 

Tweedledee : Hurry! I want to see it!

 

Odaddysaku : Wel now I’m intruiged.

 

SushiRoll : Same

 

Tweedledum has changed their name to “AwkwardGawa”

 

AwkwardGawa : Happy?

 

SupremeOverlord : Extremely.

 

SupremeOverlord has changed the chat name to “Crisis Solved”

 

Tweedledee : So what were you called Ryuu?

 

AwkwardGawa : It was something stupid about forms I have to fill out for mom and dad around my college courses.

 

Tweedledee : College, ┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ノ︵ ┻━┻

 

AwkwardGawa : :') You’re the best

 

Atsushi’s lips lifted into a large grin and he a chuckle bubbled out of his stomach. “Something funny?” Tanizaki asked.

Two books were tucked neatly under his arms.

Atsushi shook his head and frowned. “I thought we only needed one book.”

“Yeah, but I found another we could use,” Tanizaki set them on the table and stared at Atsushi.

“Yes?” Atsushi asked.

“Did you remember yesterday’s notes?”

He smacked his forehead and groaned. “I’ll go get those.” He sluggishly rose from his seat and headed towards the exit.

“Text me if you forget why you’re there Jinko!” Tanizaki yelled after him.

Atsushi stopped dead in tracks and turned to the other boy. “Please tell me that’s not a thing.”

“It’s a thing,” Tanizaki snickered, “no one really knows your name. So that’s what you’re called.”

Atsushi whimpered and kept moving. He had to cross nearly the whole campus to get back to his room. By the time he arrived in front of his door every muscle in his legs throbbed. He inhaled and reached for the handle ready to hurry and get back to Tanizaki.

“-there going to send me Dazai,” Akutagawa’s voice cracked. Atsushi’s hand stopped abruptly at the door handle and Gin bumped into him but didn’t say a single word. “When they want something they're not going to stop until they get it.”

“But I’m here,” Dazai’s voice came from beyond. His voice seethed with anger. “I don’t get it.”

“It’s different for you,” upon hearing his voice again, Atsushi couldn’t believe how much it cracked. It sounded as if it was barely escaping from Akutagawa’s throat. “You’re dad runs this place he wants you here.”

“That is a load of shit and you know it,” Dazai said. Silence. “Alright he may want me here, but he also thinks it would be better if I were at the college getting the experience. You’re parents just want to cut as many connections to us and Gin as they can. It is different but it shouldn’t be a reason for them to be ass holes.”

Another silence. A whimper traveled through the air and Atsushi’s gut clenched. Had that been Akutagawa?

“Pillow?” Dazai asked.

Only a few seconds of silence passed before a muffled sob came through the door. It had been quiet but it had felt like a roaring lion in Atsushi’s ears. What was happening? Several more strained sobs made it to Atsushi’s ears before Dazai interrupted.

“I don’t want to make you panic, but there’s someone-”

“I know,” Akutagawa said meekly in a froggy voice. “I noticed a few seconds ago.” His voice rippled with cracks as he called, “You can come in Atsushi.”

Atsushi’s gut launched into his throat as he opened the door. “I’m so sorry,” Atsushi began, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop I just, it sounded like you were upset, and I didn’t want to interrupt if you needed space, and I didn’t know if you wanted anyone else to know, and I-”

“Atsushi,” Akutagawa interrupted. “It’s fine.”

A deafening silence filled every corner of the room. “Do you mind if I ask-” Atsushi tried.

“Yes,” Akutagawa and Dazai said in unison.

Atsushi fell silent and shifted between feet awkwardly as the two boys stared at him. “I’m just gonna go unless you need anything.”

“A-actually could you stay a minute?” Akutagawa asked.

“Sure,” Atsushi said immediately. He wanted to run up and hug his roommate. He didn’t know what was bothering him but whatever it was he wished to pull away all of the pain it was causing him.

“S-sorry,” Akutagawa muttered. “You should probably grab what you came for and go.”

“Are you sure? Atsushi asked, “I can stay-” Ding! Ding! Ding! Crap. Atsushi’s phone rang.

Dazai snickered. “You may want to answer that.”

Atsushi nodded and pulled out his phone. “Hello?

“I know the dorms are a long way but please hurry up. If we take longer than an hour Naomi will drag me away.”

“Uh, yeah, okay,” Atsushi pressed his fingers against his temple. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Cool,” Tanizaki hung up.

Atsushi slipped his phone into his pocket and dug through a pile of papers at the foot of the bunk. He found the project notes and let out a sound of relief. He had been ninety percent sure he had lost them. He glanced at Akutagawa who sat silently next to Dazai. His eyes were red and puffy. Atsushi’s heart clenched.

“Akutagawa,” he muttered, “what’s wrong?”

Dazai looked at Atsushi. He gave him a small smile and then turned back to the other boy.

Akutagawa looked at Atsushi and the overwhelming urge to hug him flooded through Atsushi again. Akutagawa took a deep breath. “I’d rather not say.”

His shoulders sagged. He smiled meekly and nodded. He moved through the door and didn’t look back until he had reached the end of the hall.

His stomach rose and slammed against his throat. Something was wrong. It was plain as the sun in the sky, but what was wrong was a completely different matter. Akutagawa had mentioned something about being sent. But what could that possibly mean?

Atsushi heart stopped. He was going to leave. Was he going to leave? He couldn’t, could he? He made his way into the library his panicked thoughts burrowed further into his stomach. Finally, he started working on his project with Tanizaki. They only made a little progress before Naomi made her grand entrance and tried to drag Tanizaki away.

“This is due tomorrow, Naomi,” Tanizaki said, “we need to finish it.”

“You can do it later tonight,” Naomi whined.

“Atsushi help me!” Tanizaki yelled.

Atsushi didn’t move. The words barely registered in his head. That time had been enough for him to start thinking again. What if Akutagawa did leave? But why would he? There was no point, was there? He seemed upset about it too. Was someone trying to force him to leave? After all, hadn’t Dazai mentioned something about that? Akutagawa also? His head swam and he felt like he was going to puke.

He had told Gin he had been called to the office about college stuff. Had he lied to his sister? Akutagawa never liked doing that. Was it possible a half lie?

“Atsushi!” Tanizaki snapped in front of his face. “You okay?”

“See?” Naomi asked, “he’s so out of it we can leave big brother.”

“Yeah I’m fine,” Atsushi said and gave Tanizaki the best smile he could muster.

The other boy quirked his brow. “Now I’m certain you’re possessed.”

Atsushi chuckled. “I’m fine, seriously,” his words did not convince Tanizaki. The other boy frowned at him and blinked several times. “Okay, okay, I’m just confused. I need some time to think. Do you want to get together later and finish then?”

Tanizaki opened his mouth but Naomi spoke for him. “Sounds great!” She dragged her brother away without another word.

Atsushi took a deep breath and packed up their work before heading straight out of the library and towards the offices. If Akutagawa didn’t want to say anything, Atsushi could respect that, but he seriously needed someone to talk to. So he went to the one place he could. Kouyou’s office.