The third week of June is a delicate time for Dazai.
He doesn’t remember all of the details of how he died. He knows when it was, because dates are simple and easy enough to stumble upon when you’re looking something else up - Dazai Osamu, born June 19, 1909; died June 13, 1948. He knows that it was suicide, because of course it was suicide. Tomie had been talking about it for months.
But the memory of the moment of his death hasn’t returned to him. It’s just as well: he has enough memories of nearly dying that he doesn’t need one more.
Still, the day casts a certain gloom over his thoughts. Sometimes he doesn’t even remember that it’s that particular day until long past when he’s curled up crying that he’s no longer human. Even if he never learned the date, maybe he would still feel weak on June 13th.
Six days later, it’s his birthday. Dazai loves being the center of attention, and his birthday is a prime opportunity to demand that people spoil him. Even if the poor mood that his deathday put him in hasn’t entirely lifted, he absolutely can’t waste a chance to be celebrated. Besides, what better to lift him out of a poor mood than having a day just for him?
The birthday cake is delicious and he might have eaten the entire thing if the sugar wouldn’t make him risk breaking out with acne again. Odasaku, insisting that “cake ain’t lunch, Dazai!” makes him curry that he can actually handle the spice level of. Akutagawa wishes him a happy birthday, and Dazai remembers how to breathe in time to thank him.
The gifts are plentiful. Ibuse gets him a new cape that Dazai refuses to take off after he’s given it; Haruo, who’d barely acknowledged Dazai this time last year, gets him a new set of beautiful notebooks and tells him to show him when he writes something new.
Ango gives him a messily-wrapped copy of Kappa, and this makes Dazai pause.
It’s not that Dazai doesn’t appreciate being given Akutagawa’s works. He’s as much in love with Akutagawa’s writing as he ever was, and he’s constantly checking out collections of Akutagawa’s short stories.
But they live in a library. Despite his frequent complaints over someone checking out Rashomon, Dazai can almost always read Akutagawa’s works whenever he wants. Ango definitely knows Dazai well enough to know a dozen things he could get Dazai that aren’t already at his fingertips, so…
After Dazai hesitates too long, Ango glances to the side. “Picking gifts out is a pain, and I already got it for your birthday, so I figured I’d finally deliver it.”
“Thank you,” Dazai says, still piecing things together. Ango has only been in the library for about half a year, so if he got something for Dazai’s birthday before-
Then that must have been the year he killed himself. Ango doesn’t plan far in advance, so likely he was already dead when Ango decided on that gift for him, already rotting while he wrapped it.
Dazai clutches the book to his chest. His tongue feels heavy, his throat too clogged by his heart for him to even breathe. For an author whose strength is baring himself to the world, he doesn’t know what words he needs to pass on to one of his dearest friends.
Ango must see that moment of realization. Ango doesn’t make that kind of blank expression unless he’s hiding some other face, and he almost never hides anything. “Happy birthday,” he says, and turns to go.
The sound of the book he was just given hitting the ground doesn’t register to Dazai. He’s too focused on wrapping his arms around Ango tightly enough to keep him from leaving.
He still doesn’t have the words. Just tears that spill onto the back of Ango’s jacket.
He feels Ango’s sigh more than he hears it. “What am I even going to do with you?” he says, in a voice that’s more fond than anything else.
Dazai loosens his hold on Ango enough that Ango can turn around and hug him back.