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Chuuya wastes no time once he’s free of Poe’s book, feet hitting the pavement and stumbling out of the alleyway they’d been left in. He doesn’t bother to see if Ranpo’s followed him out, too preoccupied with the precious hours he’s lost to the obnoxious detective’s games. He reaches for the phone in his jacket pocket, slipping it out to confirm just how much time Mori might have left - that is, if the Agency hasn’t slipped past their defences first. That’s preposterous though, not with people like Kouyou and Hirotsu leading in his absence - even if seeing his call log free of any messages or attempts to contact him sends up red flags.

He tries Kouyou first, speeding past pedestrians on the sidewalk, the ringing in his ears abnormally loud. It goes to voicemail after what feels like half a million rings, and like a fool he tries again right after with similar results. Hirotsu is also unavailable, and just for the hell of it he tries Akutagawa’s phone as well. Nothing. Nearly 48 hours have passed since the ability plaguing their boss had taken effect, and the silence emanating from Port Mafia is deafening; either Mori is dead or free of the ability’s effects, there is no other logical explanation for this level of inaction. His throat tightens around a growl of frustration, thumbing through his list of contacts for someone, anyone to call.

He’s debating if someone as far down the chain as Higuchi might know what’s going on when the phone in his hand begins to vibrate; The number isn’t familiar, but there’s only a precious few who would have his contact information. He picks up immediately.

“Nakahara,” his tone is clipped, a hair short of annoyed when he answers.

“Sir, this is Akiyama, i’m with the Black Lizard,” the unfamiliar male voice on the other end announces, “I’ve been instructed to locate you and bring you back to base.”

Thank god, Chuuya thinks, shifting the phone in his hand to bring it closer to his ear, “Hirotsu too good to call me himself?” he grouses into the mouthpiece, not sorry that he’s taking his frustrations out on some low-level grunt for the time being.

“Ah - i’m sorry sir, he’s very much occupied at the moment.”

“Whatever, have a car here as soon as possible,” the executive commands, rattling off his location and ending the call. He tries Kouyou twice more before the long, nondescript black car pulls up along the sidewalk next to him; he only realizes while climbing into the back of it that it’s Mori’s own personal car. He doesn’t know what to make of that.

He’s even less sure when he discovers the two operatives inside the car, one sitting next to the driver and another in the backseat on the opposite side from Chuuya. No one speaks, and he’s both grateful that he’s not required to make small talk right now as well as on edge over the atmosphere. They haven’t even cleared the block before his phone starts up again; Chuuya nearly sighs in relief when Hirotsu’s ID flashes on the screen.

“About time, old man,” Chuuya grumbles into his phone, not bothering with pleasantries.

“Apologies,” Hirotsu responds unconvincingly, “I’ve had several matters to attend to.”

Chuuya bites back on an angry retort that reflexively builds in his brain, pressed for time and needing answers, “What’s happening? Is everything over?” he can’t help the the way his voice weakens at his next question, “Is everyone still alive?”

For every second that Hirotsu doesn’t respond, Chuuya’s heart speeds until he feel like he’s in a dead sprint, nearly choking on another question before the older man speaks again and interrupts him.

“Chuuya, come back to base,” he requests softly; leather gloves nearly crack around the force of how he holds the phone to his ear.

“God, is it Kouyou?” he fights to keep the edge of hysteria out of his voice but it’s a near thing.

“No, no, good grief she’s fine,” the older man sputters, realizing his mistake. The younger executive sags in his seat, eyes squeezing shut in relief as he releases a long shaky breath through his teeth.

“I cannot-” he stops himself and starts again, “I’ve been ordered to withhold all information until your return,” Hirotsu clarifies. The word “ordered” sticks in Chuuya’s brain like a knife; someone is still issuing commands from the top, someone above executive standing. Mori’s alive, he tells himself, even if the idea of him keeping Chuuya in the dark like this feels wrong. Maybe communications have been compromised, maybe whoever started all this was keeping a keen eye on the two organizations still. Even so, an unease begins to build in the base of his skull, the warning signal armed and ready. Something feels off.

“We’re about five minutes out, I’ll be expecting a full briefing when I arrive,” he announces, not giving the older man a chance to retort before ending the call to run back through his recent calls and messages. Still nothing from Kouyou, but an assurance of safety on Hirotsu’s end has calmed his frantic nerves for now. By the time he stows his phone away, they’re already crawling towards the Port Mafia compound, the jet black monoliths piercing an open wound of a sky just overhead; Chuuya’s shoulders tense just at the sight, although he’s not certain why. A thousand sunsets have bloomed red and bloody over the mafia safe haven before, why is today any different?

The operatives assist him with exiting the car; Chuuya gives the one that opens his door a lingering look, unsure of their purpose or why he’s being guarded like royalty, or perhaps a prisoner. They flank him on his way into the building, far enough away that it doesn’t feel like they’re breathing down his neck, but Chuuya’s not stupid. In a split second of madness he considers dodging away from them to see if they’ll give chase, but his interests are elsewhere now. He wants answers, not games. Chuuya nearly sighs with relief when he spots Hirotsu waiting front and center in the lobby, the room ringed by still more Black Lizard members. He can taste the unease in the air as soon as enters, an electric current hanging above them like a forming thunderstorm.

Hirotsu nods in his direction once they’re within speaking distance, “If you’ll just follow me,” he begins, turning to lead Chuuya further into headquarters.

“Wait, what’s going on?” Chuuya demands, attempting to keep the conversation grounded in the lobby, but the older man pays him no mind, walking a few paces so that the redhead has to keep up, “You said you couldn’t tell me anything over the phone.”

“No, I believe I told you that I couldn’t tell you anything, period,” Hirotsu clarifies over his shoulder, leading him in the direction of the main elevator. Chuuya debates standing his ground, throwing a fit over everyone’s inability to cooperate and just tell him what’s happening.

“The boss has decided he wants to brief you himself,” Hirotsu announces softly, face turned away from the younger executive so that his expression is unreadable. It’s enough to get Chuuya into the elevator at least, along with the older man and a few of his subordinates. The feeling of unease from before continues to build in the enclosed space, sends his heart pumping a little quicker, makes him jittery. There’s a tenseness to everyone’s posture, a quiet resignation in the looks that pass from person to person when Chuuya catches it. While everything seems business as usual outwardly, something has changed, he can feel it. This combined with the radio silence and the tail of guards he’s acquired makes it feel like Chuuya’s being led to the gallows. Is Mori displeased with him? Is he going to be punished for his absence? Questions rattle around in his brain until the elevator comes to a stop after what feels like a lifetime. They’ve come directly to the floor containing Mori’s personal quarters, not a board room or another public space. Chuuya tries to tell himself that it’s understandable if the man is still recovering, but his hair stands on end all the same.

Still more operatives linger in the halls surrounding Mori’s apartments; Chuuya spots Gin further down, standing out from all the uniformly dressed men. Someone is speaking in a hushed tone somewhere, too quietly for him to even pinpoint the location of. Eyes find him as he passes with Hirotsu in tow, but instead of the usual nod he’s accustomed to from subordinates there’s a knee-jerk snap of a neck, awkward glances away from the smaller male in a way that sends a bolt of anxiety up his spine. Taking a shuddering breath Chuuya allows himself to be guided to the wide double oak doors. Men stationed there step aside immediately, pushing them open for the group, although it’s only Chuuya that crosses the threshold, he realizes perhaps too late.

The doors have already closed with him on the other side before he becomes aware of Hirotsu’s absence. The setting sun paints the polished marble floors and light-colored walls a blinding crimson, so bright that Chuuya’s first reaction is to shield his eyes against the wall of glass windows across from him. A single high-back chair sits front and center across the wide expanse of floor, the contrast between light and dark so vast that he can’t even make out the figure that sits there for the longest time, stepping forward more fully into the cavernous room. He’s so drawn to the chair that he doesn’t even see the black heap to the side of it until he’s four paces forward, jerking to a halt because it’s not clothing like he’d first suspected; it’s a body. Wide blue eyes gaze back at the man sitting across from him, reclined like a king on his throne, ankle perched over the opposite knee while wearing the most self-satisfied smirk Chuuya’s ever witnessed.

Osamu Dazai stares back at his former partner from the mafia boss’ own chair, blood-stained hands still fiddling with the knife he’d put to Ougai Mori’s neck not an hour before.

It’s hard to make out the blood against the sun-drenched marble tile, but it pools close to where Chuuya’s standing now, seeping out from under the man he’d come to revere and fear since childhood. He can’t see his face; for that he’s intensely glad. He stares at the back of his rumpled black coat for so long that it starts to feel unreal, the whole day unravels around him from being trapped in the book to his journey here to this discovery, and it leads him back to red-tinted brown eyes that watch him with amusement, waiting for the first explosion. It surprises them both when Chuuya finally speaks.

“What have you done?” the question falls somewhere between a hiss and a whisper.

Dazai’s lips lift and part around a sound of amusement at the question, “What does it look like? I’ve come back to take what’s mine,” he answers with the self-congratulatory arrogance that only Dazai could possess.

Suddenly everything clicks into place like a well-oiled weapon being assembled; the silence from Port Mafia, the need to secure Chuuya and bring him back to base immediately, Dazai sending Mori’s-his car to personally pick him up, Hirotsu’s evasion of his questions and referral to their “boss” in such a general term, the shell-shocked looks on everyone’s faces and refusal to meet Chuuya’s eyes because how does this not end with him going completely nuclear and taking out half the mafia with him?

Dazai sits at the top of the heap now.

And no one is rushing to remove him.

Chuuya’s harried thoughts are interrupted before he can begin to put his lungs behind them like he wants to, a solid knock against the double doors announcing a new guest. Dazai calls out for them to enter, not even sparing Chuuya a glance or consideration for the shock he’s just recieved. Akutagawa strides in, black coat gliding around his legs in a practiced show of power and composure, like his former boss isn’t lying in a pool of his own congealing blood not five feet to his left. A few men follow after him like ducklings, far outside the ring of Akutagawa and Chuuya and the new leader of the Port Mafia. As much as Chuuya wants to keep his eyes pinned on Dazai in righteous anger he stares at the younger man, waiting for his black eyes to dart to the side and acknowledge Chuuya’s presence, to the point where he feels like screaming at the boy. It never comes, Akutagawa draws level with Chuuya in front of Dazai, observes his cheshire cat grin…

And goes down on one knee.

It takes all of Chuuya’s ability to school his features and temper his reactions, years and years of practice from dealing with rival gangs and negotiations not to let his shock show. Ryuunosuke Akutagawa, who’d once vowed to put Dazai in his grave for his betrayal, bows his head in submission, a quite “Boss” on his pale lips. A wildfire slips loose inside of Chuuya at the spectacle.

“Ah yes, Akutagawa-kun...late, but here nonetheless…” Dazai lightly chastises the younger man, his penchant for hammering down on his former charge evidently still strong. Akutagawa doesn’t flinch, but there’s a minute shift in his expression from Chuuya’s angle, and if he could Chuuya would bet every cent he owns that each errant memory of Dazai’s former cruelty flutters before his eyes like moth’s wings in that second.

“I apologize,” Akutagawa speaks low and deliberate, “I was asked to assist with a problem in Sector 6 by The Black Lizard Commanders, those who were still loyal to...to Mori…”

“Have been quickly neutralized, i’m certain,” Dazai finishes for him, folding his hands on his lap, the very picture of satisfaction, “Well done.”

Akutagawa does flinch this time.

“And thank you for bringing your friends along,” Dazai calls out to the other men in the room, raising a hand to snap and point to the side, “Remove this,” Dazai commands, referring to Mori’s lifeless body.

Chuuya looks away. He doesn’t want to watch the man’s arms flop uselessly when he’s drawn up, he doesn’t want to see his lifeless purple eyes, the wide red gash torn into his long throat. Chuuya stares at the marble floor, cognizant of the cherry red pool sitting just off to the side of his vision and the weight of Dazai’s stare on him. Akutagawa does not rise, even as the men slip a sheet over his former boss and remove him from the room, leaving only the three men.

“Akutagawa-kun,” Dazai calls again once the door is closed, this time in a much softer voice, “You have served Port Mafia admirably in my absence. You remain a loyal agent capable of carrying out the will of this organization, even in moments of distress and panic. For this, you deserve to be rewarded.”

For a brief hysterical moment Chuuya thinks he’s going to kill the boy as well, but maybe he really doesn’t know Dazai anymore.

“Starting today, you will be given all the power, esteem and privileges of an executive.”

Akutagawa’s head snaps up so fast it’s a wonder he doesn’t give himself whiplash.

“Sir?” he chokes out, maintaining respect but obviously blind-sided. Dazai’s amusement spills over, face cracking around a smile.

“I hope that will be sufficient enough? We seem to have a vacancy on the team…”

“We don’t.” Chuuya grits out through his teeth ferally. Akutagawa looks like he’s only just now realized that Chuuya’s been standing in the room for the past several minutes.

“Oh,” Dazai mimics surprise, glancing with round eyes from Chuuya to Akutagawa, “Well then...I guess you can have his job,” Dazai shrugs, jabbing a thumb in Chuuya’s direction.

”What!?” Chuuya bellows, shock and rage in equal parts contorting his face, “What the fuck are you talking about, you-”

“Akutagawa, if you could,” Dazai smiles, shooing him in the direction of the doors, not keen on allowing him to see the argument that’s about to take place. The boy rises and shuffles away awkwardly, as if he doesn’t know how to process anything he’d just witnessed. Who can blame him.

Chuuya doesn’t even wait for Akutagawa to close the door, feet pounding marble and barely missing the blood to tower over Dazai’s reclining form. Nostrils flaring he looks down at the man he’d once partnered, once protected, once loved, and fights down the urge to snap his scrawny neck right then and there. He doesn’t. He doesn’t but oh god it’s a close thing.

“So this is it, then?” Chuuya’s voice is flat, quiet, deceptively cool as he stares down at Dazai, “You come in here...kill the man who’s been protecting us and this city for years, who ended the last boss’ reign of terror...all because the leash-holders over at the Agency told you to.”

“Oh, Chuuya,” Dazai’s smile for the first time since the other man entered the room is blindingly genuine, “No one has ever been holding my leash.”

“Mori did,” Chuuya jabs, remaining impassive.

“Yes well,” Dazai leans back in his chair, incredibly relaxed for having potentially the most deadly Port Mafia member alive standing over him, “We both saw how that ended for him, hmm? Beat a dog enough times and it will-”

Chuuya’s done talking. He reaches out quicker than Dazai can even register, seizing the other man by the throat and ripping him from the chair to tumble forward across the marble floor. He rounds on Dazai, who’s quick enough to push himself over onto his back and up on his elbows, shifting backwards to escape Chuuya’s pursuit. Lucky for him Chuuya wants to play with his food, each step towards Dazai’s retreating form slow and methodical.

“What did you think was going to happen?” Chuuya asks softly, cocking his head, “That you were going to walk in here, take Mori’s spot and we’d all just...fall all over ourselves to accept you?”

“Well, besides a small little insurrection among the grunts, I believe that’s exactly how it’s gone so far,” Dazai informs him.

“Oh really?” Chuuya asks, striking as quick as a snake to seize the front of Dazai’s shirt, hauling him up on his knees, “You think?”

The first strike slides across his cheek, catching the corner of an eye that will bloom purple in the next few hours. The second catches him in the teeth, sending a curtain of blood down over them that looks grotesque when Dazai smiles again.

“Is this my initiation? You’ll accept me if I let you beat me black and blue?” he chuckles, sending blood bubbling up over his bottom lip. Chuuya’s disgusted by him, except for the strange little bolt of heat that strikes him in the gut. He’s reminded of training mats and sharp elbows and teenage boys who don’t know when to stop roughhousing until someone’s bleeding and half hard in their pants. He tries to not allow the fond little memories to cloud what’s going on here and now.

“Like hell,” Chuuya spits, yanking up on his shirt collar so that he can’t comfortably rest on his knees, “You don’t belong here anymore, and you sure as hell don’t belong at the top.”

“I followed the rules of succession Chuuya,” Dazai insists, head lulling to the side to keep his garnet-toned eyes out of the sun and on Chuuya, “I put a knife to Mori’s neck the same way he put one to the old boss, fair and square.”

“That’s not the same-” Chuuya starts, but Dazai doesn’t give an inch.

“How so? What was Mori planning to do with the virus user running rampant? Kill off the ADA exactly how the enemy wanted? Eliminate our only potential ally to save his own fucking skin? Burden you with leadership in our darkest moment and ensure everyone’s mutual destruction?” Chuuya doesn’t miss the way Dazai refers to the Port Mafia as “us,” he knows it’s not intentional and he feels his hand slacken a touch in response, “How is he any different? That he’d let his own people march to their deaths to Dostoyevsky’s drum-”

“He had no choice!” Chuuya insists, even if it sounds weak in his own ears.

“There is always a choice,” Dazai grits out, eyes razor sharp, “If you’re smart enough, if you’re ruthless enough…”

“He wasn’t, but you are?” Chuuya barks a laugh that he doesn’t completely feel.

“I’ve been waiting more than four years for this, I would hope so.”

For some reason it’s the mere mention of four years that does it for Chuuya. He sends Dazai sprawling on the floor, delivering a sharp kick to the ribs that turns him onto his side, curling in on himself with a pained yelp on his lips. Chuuya’s heel comes down on Dazai’s jaw, forcing one side of his head to the floor; eye cutting sideways he gazes up at his attacker, taking in the clench of teeth, the balled fists, the elevated breathing. Chuuya is a force of nature on good days, but now he’s a wildfire ready to swallow him whole.

“Four years,” Chuuya hisses, digging his shoe in deeper, “Four years of wondering if you were alive, where you’d gone, why you left. Four years of waiting for my chance to kill you myself and you have the gall to walk in here and pretend like you’re home!?”

Dazai’s bloody face contorts into a grin and it takes all of Chuuya’s willpower not to put his foot through his skull.

“This is personal” Dazai practically purrs, bringing a hand up to run fingers along the fine leather sole of Chuuya’s shoe, not to stop him or remove it, just to tease, “You don’t care if i’m good for leadership or not, you just don’t want to see me in charge...”

”You’re damn fucking right I don’t,” Chuuya drops low, bent over so that Dazai sees his bared teeth and narrowed eyes, “I should kill you myself and take over since it seems to be as easy as that.”

“The entire organization would be up in flames by sunrise tomorrow,” Dazai promises, deadly serious this time. Chuuya balks in surprise.

“Fuck you,” he spits, winding up for another kick; Dazai’s hand does stop him this time.

“You’d be playing right into the enemy’s hand just like Mori. This was a zero sum game for the Port Mafia, we either lose too many members and eliminate the Agency for Dostoyevsky or lose Mori and set the dogs loose on Yokohama.”

Chuuya hesitates; nothing of what Dazai’s just said sounds untrue exactly, or like he’s bluffing. He’s understood the game they’d been forced into, kill or be killed. A tendril of apprehension snakes it’s way up his spine, coiling thick in his throat because the question of “what if?” is weighing heavy on him now, and if he’s honest with himself - completely honest - he knows the answer.

Dazai does too, “You would have razed this city to the ground in revenge,” Dazai whispers, blood-soaked smile mocking him from the floor, “I just saved your life and who knows how many of the rest by ending the game on my terms.”

“Your terms…” Chuuya repeats softly, leaning back to observe Dazai as if he were an insect or a scrap of dirt, “Terms that put you above all the people you’ve betrayed and worked against for years now. Why on earth would we ever trust you again?”

“Do you think i’d sell you out to the Agency or the Government?” Dazai asks, gazing up at Chuuya. The sun reflects so red around them that he can no longer tell where the blood is and isn’t, it’s both horrifying and beautiful, which is so on the nose regarding Dazai and their twisted little connection it turns his stomach.

“I think you’d do anything to suit your needs and fuck anyone else,” Chuuya finally answers, “That’s been your M.O. for years.”

“You think so little of me-”

“OF COURSE I DO.”

This time when Chuuya reacts, Dazai’s ready. He’s not wrong when he claims to know Chuuya and his moves like the back of his hand, so when he feels his foot pull back, powerful leg muscle curling like a serpent, he goes with him, long fingers latching around his ankle. Pushing himself up and planting his shoulder into Chuuya’s standing leg in one fluid movement he throws the man off balance, and with a finger curled just inside the cuff of his pant leg there will be no zero gravity to aid him. Chuuya lands sprawled on the floor much in the same way Dazai had been moments before, hat tumbling away, a look of surprise painted in vivid blue eyes.

Dazai pins Chuuya to the floor in more ways than one; hands pressed into the smaller male’s shoulders, the look in his narrowed eyes could cut glass. There’s something about him in that moment, in this place, the salt smell of blood in the air that takes Chuuya back to their heydays and keeps him frozen and from taking Dazai head off in one hit.

“You really think…” Dazai begins, voice holding a suppressed anger that he’d only heard used when speaking to especially obstinate targets, “that a few years in the sunlight is enough to bleach out all the black i’m painted with?”

Chuuya doesn’t move, doesn’t breathe, “It’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” he whispers back.

“I wanted out from under Mori’s heel. I wanted one goddamn day where I felt half human and not like a mindless killing machine. I wanted my friend back.” Dazai hisses.

When Dazai’s fist impacts with the marble just over Chuuya’s shoulder he thinks that maybe he should be a little more surprised; Dazai isn’t the type to lash out mindlessly, but this feels less like a confession and more like years and years and years of a mind unraveling. Chuuya’s always known that Odasaku’s death and Mori’s involvement is part of the puzzle piece as to why Dazai left, and perhaps that’s why a shred of sympathy remains for him, even if he’s still a bastard for leaving Chuuya up a creek. Dazai’s breathing through his teeth, fist still sitting against the floor; Chuuya looks back up when he senses the tremors in his arm.

He’s laughing.

Dazai laughs, sitting back a little, and Chuuya can’t help but stare at him. It’s not hysterical, it’s not unhinged, but it unsettles him all the same. Eyes crinkling with mirth, Dazai gazes back down at Chuuya, blood still clinging to his lips.

“That man nearly destroyed us both and you’ll chastise me for finally putting a knife to him? After everything?”

There’s a desire to immediately jump to Mori’s defense, a learned response to years of serving as one of his pawns. He can feel it in his throat, Dazai must feel it too from the way he jerks on Chuuya’s shoulder, curls his fingers in deep enough to sting.

“How many times? How many times did he force you into Corruption? Before you were ready? How many times did your body nearly break apart under all the strain? How many times did I have to watch it and then put you back together!?” Dazai’s so close Chuuya can make out all the individual blood vessels that stand out in the whites of his eyes, and perhaps for the first time in his twenty two years Chuuya is, for once, intimately aware of what he means to Dazai. Even if he’s never held a shred of actual love or affection for him, they’re the only survivors of a childhood filled with trials and testing, devastation, bloodshed. They’re the remainders, the strongest, they’re Double Black because only two survived, and maybe now Chuuya understands his own pain in being abandoned a little better.

“He made us stronger,” Chuuya swallows, watching Dazai’s face contort in disgust, “Would we even be alive now if-”

“How many of my scars…” Dazai starts, voice too even and subdued even for him, “that I wrap every day of my life, were made by you...at his instructions?”

Chuuya’s lips stay fused together, eyes wide. It’s something they didn’t talk about, not in the years after when Dazai became an executive and both were old enough to know you don’t build partnerships by torturing each other. It was the dirty little secret they kept from everyone else in the mafia, that Mori’s “tutoring” amounted to making children into weapons by first turning them on each other, and no amount of crying, no amount of pleading, no amount of “please, he’s bleeding too much” could stop it. Chuuya tries to move, because everything is a little too much - it’s been too much since stepping in the room - but Dazai pulls him back.

“How many, Chuuya?”

“Dazai, stop-”

“Really, how many do you think?” Dazai continues, a frantic edge to his voice as he reaches to unravel the bandage at his wrist, “Should we count? Do you remember them all? Don’t worry, I do-”

“I SAID STOP!” Chuuya screams at him, tossing the other man from on top of him so hard he impacts with the floor next to him with a rough smack. Chuuya’s up and on his feet, needing to put as much distance between himself and Dazai as he can right now. He knows he can’t leave the room, that there’s probably a miniature army waiting just outside in case. Even so he crosses the room, eyes lingering on the ruby pools still standing to the side of the high backed chair. He thinks of all the blood that’s been spilled between himself and Dazai and wonders if this is enough to compensate for it. It seems miniscule in comparison somehow.

Dazai makes no attempt to chase him, just sits up with his legs crossed on the floor, thumbing at the unraveled edge of his bandages like the little boy Chuuya used to know. He’s ashamed for some reason, he feels half mad standing in this room with all his memories and the shifting landscape of the mafia falling all around him. Dazai is right in a way; Mori was the monster that plagued their childhoods and was responsible for the fucked up relationship they’d developed with each other in return. It didn’t make him any less of a leader though, it didn’t diminish what he’d done to protect and advance the Port Mafia. He could hold those two concepts in his mind at once, conflicting as they were, and feel the weight of both. He both respected and abhorred Mori. He was glad he was dead and terrified by the prospect of continuing without him.

“What happens now?” Chuuya asks, voice flat. Mori is dead, that’s just how it is. If he kills Dazai now, the mafia would be down two tacticians and open for another attack. He’s playing with facts now instead of raw emotion; Dazai should be proud.

He hears the scrap of fabric behind him, Dazai rising from the floor and drawing closer. It doesn’t set the back of his neck on fire like he’d thought it would, as the space between them decreases. Maybe he’d needed to hear that and maybe Dazai had needed to say it. Dazai hasn’t had to justify his actions to anyone for as long as he’s known him, so the fact that he tries with Chuuya at all speaks volumes.

“We regroup. We reinforce. Hopefully the news of Mori’s death is slow and no other group tries to push us. Dostoyevsky won't, he knows the devil has replaced a demon.”

Chuuya snorts, “You think a lot of yourself,” he mutters, still not able to turn and look at the other man, “And who the hell is this “Dostoyevsky” you keep talking about?”

“In due time, shorty,” Dazai murmurs, far more subdued in comparison to minutes ago. Chuuya does look at him now and finds a dying sky the color of burgundy wine just over Dazai’s shoulder, purples and navy seeping into greater darkness. It feels ominous, but strangely calm.

“You didn’t come to take us down,” Chuuya means it as a question, but there’s a certainty in his tone now that telegraphs that he always knows the answer. The corners of Dazai’s lips turn up just a touch in response.

“And make things easier for the enemy? I don’t think so…” Dazai assures him, “This...was always a part of the plan, Chuuya.”

Chuuya takes a long, lingering look at the other man, the way he holds himself, and judges him honest, “You were always coming back.”

“Yes.”

He looks away, swallowing the lump in his throat, “And you never told me.”

“What was there to say?” Dazai asks softly, half a step towards his former partner, “I let you off the hook. I made you hate me so you wouldn’t follow or make Mori suspicious.”

Chuuya’s mouth twists unpleasantly; he already knows that if he digs deep enough Dazai’s reasoning is sound, but it does nothing to diminish his own pain and betrayal. It doesn’t rewrite their history, and it certainly doesn’t erase what’s been done. But he can live with the explanation. It still hurts, but he can live with it.

“I’ll still never forgive you,” Chuuya announces without the usual grit, a simple statement of fact. Dazai’s smile deepens.

“Wouldn’t imagine it any other way,” he breathes into the space between them that’s growing rapidly smaller the longer they speak.

“What now?” Chuuya asks again, “I mean me...what am I supposed to do?”

“What do you want to do?” Dazai asks back. It’s probably the first time in Chuuya’s life that someone has asked him that question, especially someone capable of making it happen. He turns the question over in his head, stepping forward and towards the wall of windows that look out over the twinkling lights of a city coming alive for the night. The limited light of the dying sun creates a mirror effect, and Chuuya gazes back at himself, into sharp blue eyes that hold an uncertainty he’s not used to. Dazai watches from just over his shoulder, waiting.

“To protect...to defend,” he starts, gloved fingers tracing the glass surface in front of him, “To live.”

“You can do all that here,” Dazai shrugs, joining him at the windows.

“Can I? I seem to remember you demoting me,” Chuuya’s narrowed eyes glance up at Dazai, conveying his annoyance, much to Dazai’s amusement.

“Demoted? Chuuya, I can’t have you out on missions or training grunts,” Dazai grins back, “You’ll be too busy...watching my back during negotiations, accompanying me, helping to advise me for the good of Port Mafia…”

Chuuya rears back, staring up at his new boss in shock. Dazai laughs.

”What?” Chuuya hisses in disbelief. What Dazai is suggesting isn’t something the past few bosses have seen fit to institute, if he knows his history. An underboss, a consigliere, a right hand man. He’s dumbfounded by the idea of Dazai handing him a nice juicy title like that without a payoff, which is why he’s cagey now, staring back at the taller man.

“What’s the catch? I do all your work for you?”

“Now and then,” Dazai flashes his teeth, “We both know i’m useless without some kind of backup…” he admits.

“I…” Chuuya shakes his head, “I don’t know…”

“Chuuya,” Dazai calls to him, slotting into his personal space in a way that doesn’t feel outright intrusive, even if he can feel the other man’s breath against his hair, “I’m going to tell you something right now.”

He doesn’t wait for the other man to speak, afraid that he’ll lose his nerve, “I don’t think I can do this without you,” Dazai admits in a near whisper. He doesn’t meet Chuuya’s eyes again until after he’s spoken, given his words time to settle over both of them with the weight of their meaning. For once, Chuuya doesn’t sense a mask or disguise when it comes to Dazai; his eyes are soft, face open, maybe even a little vulnerable. Even after four years it’s still strange seeing both of Dazai’s eyes, but the more he looks at him the more he thinks he might prefer it like this he realizes.

“You need me,” Chuuya breathes; he gets a nod in return.

“I told you, didn’t I…?” Dazai closer now, towering over Chuuya who can feel the glass pressing into his back, “I’ve come back to take what’s mine…”

Chuuya’s eyes widen just before it happens; slick, coppery lips slide against his own, slow and soft and with enough room that if it isn’t want he wants, he could push Dazai away easily. He doesn’t though.

In all the time he’s known Dazai, he’s never kissed him like this, like someone deserving of gentle touch and a reverence born out of years of missing someone. Gone are the days of impatient youth and greed for instant gratification; Dazai takes Chuuya apart on his tongue like a surgeon, and Chuuya’s half jealous for whoever Dazai’s been kissing in the interim to be able to do this now. Fingers slide up the glass walls first before finding the curve of his back and the base of his skull, threading between red locks and to anchor the both of them. Chuuya’s dizzy from it after only half a minute, and not from the lack of breath alone. His own hands find the front of Dazai’s shirt, yanking him forward and against him, drawing a muffled laugh from the other man that bubbles against his own tongue.

There’s something distinctly wrong about this, for a million different reasons, most of which have to do with the fact that it’s happening in the room that Mori’s just been killed in. His blood still clings to Dazai in places on his hands and arms, and oh Chuuya’s stomach turns at the terrible little pang of heat that flares in his loins at the thought. It’s so very them however, twisted, depraved, unhealthy, but so terribly bright and alive, the urgency with which they’re moving against each other now a testament to ability to survive together. Dazai bodily gathers Chuuya up, pressing him into the glass with his legs wrapped around Dazai’s waist while the redhead knots his fingers in shaggy chocolate hair. Chuuya can taste the blood he’s spilled on both their tongues and reacts with all the grace of a shark.

They stumble their way through another set of doors, and Chuuya wonders if this is better or worse, removing themselves from the crime scene to defile their dead mentor’s own bed. Their mouths only part for seconds at a time, hands sliding against every solid plain and curve, a flurry of clothing being shed before Chuuya suddenly finds himself with silk sheets pooling around his bare knees, chest pressed to the bed top, a shaky moan on his lips with two fingers buried inside him. They’re moving too fast for this to last, caught up in the adrenaline but neither knows how to slow down. He grinds back against Dazai’s digits, bottom lip caught between his teeth and prays he can at least make it another few minutes.

They’re both impatient, Chuuya more so from the way he wrestles Dazai to the mattress and assumes control. He wants this with every inch of his being, but there’s still a twinge of anger that flares hot behind his eyes, Dazai sees it in the moment he slides down his cock, bottoming out with a deep, rumbling groan. He doesn’t give the other man a second to enjoy, rising to fall again in a stuttering rhythm that builds until Chuuya is steadily riding his cock, body thrown into the motion with abandon.
Fingers dig into sharp hip bones, moans and sighs echo in what should be a solemn space obscenely. Chuuya growls, eyelids parting to watch Dazai enjoy himself down below, head thrown back against the pillows and suddenly the desire to disrupt his pleasure in that moment is overwhelming. He reaches down to curl fingers around Dazai’s exposed throat, squeezing until red-brown eyes fly open in alarm. Chuuya doesn’t let up, on his throat and on his cock, pounding down on him and tightening his hold with bared teeth. The fingers at his hips tighten to the point where bruises are guaranteed, Dazai makes a sound of alarm as his airway slowly collapses under Chuuya’s hand. He thinks that maybe Dazai will buck him off if he continues to push him, but something amazing happens just as he squeezes a little more, rolling his hips down in time with the flutter of his pulse in his neck.

With one last look up at Chuuya, Dazai’s eyes slide shut, lips falling open in a sigh, letting his head fall back in submission. The hands on his hips relax, and Dazai gives himself over to Chuuya completely.

He’s grateful that Dazai doesn’t see the look of shock on his face.

Chuuya hesitates for only a moment before resuming his pace, bouncing up and down on Dazai’s cock while keeping a firm grip on his neck. He gets it now he thinks, that this is Dazai’s way of expressing his trust and his atonement. The hiss of his breath slips past slack lips, Chuuya can feel the moans stuck in his throat from where his palm presses, the twitch of his cock inside him at being dominated. Chuuya growls for a different reason this time, back bowing as he rocks back on his dick, eyes fluttering shut. They’re a fucking mess and probably going to accidentally kill each other one day but right now in this moment, neither wouldn’t have it any other way.

The intoxication of being in control goes to Chuuya’s head; he’s allowed to freely pleasure himself with each roll of his hips. It only takes minutes for him to begin the slow process of falling apart, thighs shaking, grip slipping, his eyes roll back with each press against his prostate. He’s too caught up in it to notice Dazai’s eyes sliding open to watch, mesmerized by the sight above him. He tries a thrust of his own, bucking up into Chuuya’s heat and pulling a shocked moan from his lips. It sends his hand slipping free of Dazai’s throat, falling forward for him to catch. Their lips crash into each other. Dazai keeps himself buried deep in Chuuya, rolling them over and forcing the other male’s thighs wide. Chuuya whines against his tongue, twitching against the sheets.

The pace Dazai sets is vastly different from Chuuya’s; slow and passionate, his body rolls the length of Chuuya’s own, mouth pressed to the underside of his jaw. Chuuya gasps ragged with each drag of Dazai’s cock inside him, shaking fingers twisted in the silk on either side of his head. He’s never had someone this deep inside him before, pressed open and held there and at Dazai’s mercy in ways he’d never been subjected to when they were younger. He’ll be purpled from ears to collarbone tomorrow with the way the man sucks marks into him, but maybe he’ll forgive him if the way his cock jerks with each sharp nip says anything.

The pleasure builds and builds, the moans and cries grow in volume and pitch. For a frenzied moment Chuuya nearly laughs out loud imagining the guards outside hearing their fucking through the walls. Dazai shuts that urge down a second later by grinding into his prostate hard, again and again until Chuuya’s sobbing his release all over the both of them. Dazai follows him half a second later, face buried in his neck with a groan.

The sweat cools quickly in a drafty room like this. Apparently being at the top of the food chain didn’t guarantee the best quarters. Dazai says as much, pulling the blankets up over the both of them while also wondering if he can change the ugly drapery hanging from the bed canopy.

“You own the place now,” Chuuya snorts, curling up like a cat at Dazai’s side, “Do whatever you want.”

Dazai’s mouth twists in contemplation, staring up at the fabric draped over them, “We’ll need bigger quarters, I think.”

Chuuya’s eyes pop open to stare at him, “We’ll need?”

Dazai’s only response is to turn and smile back at Chuuya.

“No,” Chuuya insists, moving to get up, “absolutely not-”

“Chuuyaaa,” Dazai whines, long limbs flailing around to grab the other man and drag him back to his side, “It makes complete sense, you’ll be too busy helping me to go home.”

“I nearly killed you twice in the past hour, how the hell do you imagine we’ll cohabitate together!?”

“Carefully,” Dazai shrugs, finally getting Chuuya to settle down against him again. He goes grudgingly, mostly because he’s exhausted and only just now realizing it. It’s comfortable though, to lay next to Dazai for the first time in years, even if he still sort of hates him deep down. Nothing about them has ever been easy or made sense. Chuuya’s learning to stop thinking about it, analyzing the ins and outs of what makes them them and just accept it for what it is. He’ll do his duty, he’ll protect his new leader and probably give in to his whims and indulge his own and they’ll make a damn mess of everything, and maybe they’ll die or maybe they won’t but he knows one thing for sure.

Chuuya waits until Dazai’s relaxed, half dosing next to him in the dark with only the glow that seeps in through the breaks in the curtains from nearby tower lights to illuminate his features. He leans up to look at the other man, imagines that there is no rise and fall to his chest, that maybe he’s the one with the torn open throat.

“If you do anything to compromise us and our standing…” Chuuya begins softly, “If you do anything to betray us…”

He leaves out the If you betray me again, but they both know it’s there.

“I’ll kill you myself without hesitation,” Chuuya vows, voice slipping into a whisper.

Dazai doesn’t open his eyes, but his lips curve into a smile. His fingers climb the contour of his partner’s body to tease at flame-bright hair affectionately, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”