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on the other side of a particular city

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Dazai's legs ache slightly. The small side street he makes his way down is dripping with rain, the persistent downpour slicking the stone under his shoes and soaking into his hair. He walks in measured steps, the soles of his scuffed shoes making barely-audible sounds against the ground.

Ango's face- and Oda's face, alongside it- refuse to leave his mind. He understands. He knows Ango- it's not the betrayal that stings so badly, because he had known what to expect ever since he had seen that plastic-wrapped umbrella in his briefcase, and even before. He knows Ango, and Ango's reasons, and Ango's pain, because he is his friend and he knows his mind, and Dazai hates Ango for forcing him to understand.

Dazai hates Ango for taking Oda from him, too. He had seen the indescribable look on Odasaku's face. He had seen the way his fingers had lain carefully across the smooth wood of the bar counter. Oda is a mystery, a man whose thoughts and reactions were so wholly abnormal that there is no explanation for the besides the fact that he is a good man.

Dazai's jaw tenses. His fingers clench in his pockets. He knows Oda and Ango are both years above him, but he has never felt so acutely like a child whose friends are out of his reach.

His phone buzzes. He almost jumps. The street is deserted. He realizes he's half-soaked by the gentle downpour. Yokohama is silent tonight, the dreary gray of the rainclouds driving even the most persistent Mafia members back to their roost, except for the dark turmoil in one man's chest that twists and writhes and beats along to the tempo of his black heart.

Dazai's fingers don't shake when he opens the phone.

"Yes?" He says. Only a few people would have the audacity to call him, and fewer still if there's not an immediate emergency. He waits for a response. He doesn't have the energy to put on his usual show, but he refrains from snapping. He makes a strange sight, a man standing in the center of an abandoned street, alone, half-lit by the filtered light strained through the heavy clouds, water gathering on the hem of his coat and dripping from the ends of his hair. He is completely isolated from the world, save for the phone in his hand.

"Hey." An annoyingly drawling tone comes from the speaker. Dazai's demeanor doesn't change. He may have expected this. "We were supposed to meet with Boss Mori half an hour ago. Did you forget, you shithead?"

Chuuya's familiarly cutting tone shatters Dazai's isolation. He purses his lips.

"I didn't forget," he tells his partner, resisting the urge to hang up and throw his phone into the river and maybe find Ango and slit his throat after all. Suddenly, he wants to speak to Oda. Chuuya's voice comes from the phone instead.

"Then what the hell happened?" He exclaims. His red-hot, fiery demeanor is too jarringly different from the dirt-gray world that crowds Dazai's vision. Chuuya has always been like that- a glowing fire-poker branded across the black of the Port Mafia. Even his Corruption is a bright, searing red. A far cry from Dazai. Dazai has always found it ironic that his power shines a radiant white.

He half-smiles. He realizes it's been several moments since Chuuya had spoken. Dazai opens his mouth, but, for once, has nothing to say.

"...hey." Chuuya says. His voice is tinny and low coming from the phone in his hand. "Hey, idiot, are you alright?"

His partner. Loyal to a fault, Dazai thinks. He does smile fully now, a wry twist of his lips. The pain of Ango's betrayal, and his trust in Dazai despite it, lances sharply through his chest with every breath in comparison. He wonders if Oda has ever felt pain like this. He feels like he's drowning in air. All he can hold onto is hate and vindictiveness. Oda is too good to hate. Dazai is not.

Suddenly, he's angry, and he still hasn't replied to Chuuya.

"Okay." Chuuya says, after another moment. He must begin to walk- Dazai can hear the click of his crappy boot-shined shoes against concrete. "Where are you? I'm getting a car. You always make me waste my time on you."

Dazai chuckles into the phone. This seems to unnerve Chuuya more than anything. His footsteps speed up.

"Where the fuck are you, Dazai?" He insists. Dazai looks around. Where is he?

"By the warehouse district, I think," he says, peering along the street. It's certainly deserted enough to be the warehouse district.

"The warehouse district." Chuuya mutters. "Great. Like that's not the vaguest answer you could possibly give."

He pauses. There's the slam of a car door, and the rev of an engine- it sounds sleek, like one of those higher-end black cars Chuuya favors. Everything about Chuuya is flashy and expensive, from his clothing to his taste in drink. It makes it that much more satisfying to take him down a notch, Dazai thinks, the black curl of amusement lighting up his mind, eyes crinkling in a smile no one can see. It's a rush to know that he holds the power of the life of someone like his partner- angry, deadly, with the command of matter itself at his fingertips- in his hand.

"I'll be there in five minutes." Chuuya snaps, and hangs up. Dazai is left with a dial tone in his ear. He closes the phone and returns it to his pocket. He's really, properly drenched.

Making Chuuya work a little won't hurt anyone, he decides, and starts again down the street.

Chuuya is true to his word, though- within a few minutes, a black car comes skidding down the street, slipping on wet pavement, and screeches to a stop not five feet from Dazai. Dazai turns and peers into the windshield. Chuuya, looking thoroughly pissed, bursts out of the car.

"What the hell is wrong with you!" Chuuya shouts, struggling to open an umbrella, effectively ruining Dazai's quiet night. He looks out of place, bright orange and rich maroon against gray stone and sky. Everything about him is too stark. Even the umbrella that finally billows open is an oppressively black stain against a desaturated scene. Dazai chuckles.
Chuuya eyes him distrustfully.

"Did something happen?" He asks. "Explain yourself, you bastard."

Dazai takes his hand from his pocket. He opens it. Rain falls on his empty palm.

Chuuya frowns.

"You're soaking," he says, mouth pinching in disapproval. "We have a mission tomorrow, you numbskull. What are you gonna tell the Boss if you get sick?"

He moves closer, so they're both under his umbrella, and glares up at Dazai.

"I took care of him." Dazai says, finally. He doesn't recognize his own voice. It sounds far away in his ears. "Ango. I took care of him."

He can't bring himself to say, "I took care of the traitor." It seems too harsh. Even at the end, when Dazai had stared at the drink on the bartop, had done anything but look at Ango's face, he knows the expression the other man had worn had been one of indubitable weariness. Dazai hates him for making him care.

An unreadable look falls over Chuuya's features, like darkness over a burning field. Dazai looks down at him. Chuuya's black-gloved hands are tight around the curved handle of the umbrella. It's wooden, a rich dark brown against the gray of the street- Chuuya's taste has always been expensive. Dazai smiles. It's empty and terrifying all in one, and doesn't reach his black eyes.

"He's not dead, is he," Chuuya sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose with his other black-clad hand. "You let him go. You damned softy."

Dazai laughs.

"You might be the one person in the Port Mafia more ruthless than me, Chuuya," he says, smiling, voice lilting. He raises a finger in consideration. "Besides Boss Mori, of course."

Chuuya scowls at him.

"Don't do that." He spits. "I hate it when you do that. I hate your stupid- attitude."

Dazai scratches at the bandage wound around his head. He presses his fingertips over his covered eye, for a moment. The gauze is damp and textured against his skin. The rain drips off the black umbrella at the corners, getting on the edge of Chuuya's coat.

"What am I supposed to do?" He asks, lightly, still ambivalently cheerful. Chuuya is too fun to tease. He's too straightforward. He's too brash. He's too violent, and loyal, and explosive, and he trusts Dazai too much, and Dazai hates everything about him. It seems like Dazai can't do anything but casually hate. He thinks, again, of Oda. He wonders where Oda is tonight. He wonders what his friend is thinking. He wonders if Oda feels anything.

Oda is too straightforward, too. Dazai thinks he's surrounded by too many straightforward people. Even Ango is upfront about his feelings of regret, and friendship, and the tearing loss that had ripped that carefully cool mask from his face. Dazai is tired of everyone around him having something to live for. A person living casually, inflicting damage where they can, playing people and manipulating events and never, ever admitting to themselves that they will never find the purpose that they seek because the issue isn't the lack of a principle, the issue is their character- themselves- is the biggest coward in the world.

Chuuya looks at him strangely. He realizes it's because he's just asked Chuuya's opinion. Chuuya shakes his head.

"There's definitely something wrong with you today," he mutters, and grabs Dazai's wrist. His gloves are still mostly dry. Dazai's coat and skin is damp, and it rubs off onto the palm of Chuuya's glove, wetting the cloth. He doesn't seem to notice. Dazai hates him just a little more. Chuuya is grossly, predictably, disgustingly reliable. He has a thought about killing him. He decides not to, because the man is his partner, after all. He is as familiar with Chuuya's thoughts as breathing. He wishes he could rid himself of both. Chuuya drags him to the car, and shoves him in the passenger side seat, where he sits silently, dripping all over the leather upholstry, and gets in the driver's side, starting the car with a sharp flick of his wrist.

"Why are you so fucking high-maintenance, Dazai, you dickhead?" He growls under his breath, revving the engine, the car rumbling to life on slick stone roadways. "We have a job, you know. Prodigious youngest mafia executive, my ass."

Dazai can't remember if he's ever told Chuuya about Ango. Probably. Ango is- was- the Port Mafia's chief intelligence officer, after all. If everyone knows about his association with Odasaku, everyone definitely knows about his association with the most important strategist in the Mafia's arsenal. Former most important. He'd been expecting Ango's betrayal, Dazai reminds himself. Chuuya glances at him from the driver's seat out of the corner of his eye, both gloved hands still wrapped around the steering wheel. The car glides down the street.

Ten minutes later, it stops.

Dazai blinks.

"Where are we?" He asks, peering out of the tinted windows. Chuuya scoffs and gets out of the car. Dazai follows. It's an inconspicuous apartment building, near the Port Mafia headquarters. The kind of place he would choose for a safe house. Chuuya goes inside, and Dazai, for lack of another avenue of action, follows again. He follows him into an elevator, and when Chuuya pulls a set of keys out of his pocket and unlocks apartment number 302, and when Chuuya leaves the door ajar when he enters in a silent invitation. He thinks Chuuya half-expects to turn around and for Dazai to be gone, but he shuts the door behind him, and the click of the lock is quiet in its finality.

Chuuya's apartment is stark and classy. A far cry from Oda's slightly messy, lived-in writer's flat, or Ango's bare hotel room with windows all along one wall, crystal clear glass leaving him incredibly exposed for all the secrets he carries in his head and his heart- Chuuya's apartment is all smooth metal and rich wood, not a carpet fiber out of place. Dazai feels the urge to mess things up a little. He settles for sprawling across Chuuya's leather upholstered sofa instead. There's one sofa and one armchair of warm red velvet. This doesn't look like a place that sees company very often, Dazai thinks.

Chuuya's taken off his hat and coat, and hung them on a set of pegs by the door, and toed off his shoes, and he's considering a bottle of wine that Dazai can't see the label of- he deems it satisfactory and, with two glasses in his other hand, makes his way to the armchair. He sets them down on the mahogany- or oak? Dazai can't tell in the low light- coffee table and pours the wine into the glasses. He hands one to Dazai, who accepts it without resistance.

"At least take off your shoes." Chuuya mutters, swirling his glass to let the bouquet of the wine oxidize before taking a sip. Dazai kicks off his shoes, sitting up, and copies his motion. He drinks. He hates wine. It tastes like dried roses and old curtains. He drinks it anyways.

"You have terrible taste in alcohol, Chuuya," he says, drinking again. Chuuya fixes him with a glare.

"I'm not going to bring the expensive stuff out for you," he scoffs, taking another sip. Dazai doesn't think he can stomach the taste of scotch. Scotch is a drink to be had in Bar Lupin with two close friends. He doesn't have that anymore. Maybe he never did. Now, all he has is bad wine, and a testy partner who invites him to his apartment anyways. He takes another drink. Maybe he'll switch to cocktails. Maybe he'll quit drinking altogether. The wine is disgustingly floral against his tongue.

When he leans over, later, and kisses Chuuya, with tongue and teeth and no love lost, he tastes like roses and curtains too.