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songs of bygone days

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Chuuya’s birthday isn’t well-known in the Mafia. It took Chuuya two years after he joined to even find out what it was, and that was from top-secret files. He’ll mention it offhandedly on the day of to Mori or to Kouyou, but he doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

(Mori’s said that he’d like to throw a party for him, which Chuuya has respectfully declined every year it’s been brought up. He’s not against being celebrated, but he doesn’t have much fondness for that day in particular. That’s the day he’s most likely to reflect on his forgotten past, which never does anyone any good and mostly just makes him irritable.)

Akutagawa is not one of the people Chuuya has mentioned his birthday to, he’s pretty sure, which is why the bottle of expensive wine Akutagawa is holding out to him gets a raised eyebrow. “What’s this about?”

“Your birthday is today. I thought a gift was appropriate,” Akutagawa says, and then adds, a touch more awkwardly, “Is it today?”

“Yeah, it’s today.” Chuuya takes the bottle from him before Akutagawa can start apologizing for being so presumptuous. “How’d you hear about that?”

Chuuya’s expecting that one of the mafia higher-ups mentioned it, probably Mori. He’s not expecting that Akutagawa’s been in contact with another Akutagawa Ryuunosuke, who shares his own birthday, and who happily provided a list of birthdays in case Akutagawa wanted to surprise any of his coworkers with gifts. Today is the birthday of another Nakahara Chuuya, a poet rather than a mafia executive.

“If I didn’t already have reports about those guys, I’d think you were making this up,” Chuuya says with a sigh. The information about that library full of dead authors hasn’t yet been released below executive level. “You know where that other Chuuya’s spending the day?”

“Drinking,” is Akutagawa’s instant answer. “Heavily drinking.”


It only takes one phone call to find that other Chuuya. Akutagawa doesn’t pay enough attention to know where, exactly, the poet Chuuya goes out to drink, but he thinks Dazai might know. Chuuya can’t hear Dazai’s responses clearly, but he can hear how ecstatic he is to be asked a question by Akutagawa.

Weird.

Dazai gives a couple of bars, and the first one has a blonde who’s even shorter than Chuuya sitting at the bar, on his fifth cup of sake. Chuuya takes the seat next to him.

The blonde looks over. “Nice hat.”

“Same to you.” Not only do they have the same name and the same birthday, but they have the same good taste in hats. “Nakahara Chuuya?”

“That’s me.” Nakahara - Chuuya hardly ever thinks of himself as Nakahara, so this is the easiest way to keep his thoughts straight - smiles, a lopsided smile that speaks to how drunk he already is. “Lemme guess, you’re… ‘Nakahara Chuuya’, right? Happy birthday.”

“Thanks,” Chuuya says. It’s an easy guess, considering how many of the authors are in contact with their counterparts and how much he looks like Nakahara. “How old are you turning?”

Nakahara snorts. “It’s not a meaningful question. That’s for people who’re still alive. How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.” That much isn’t too much information to give away to a drunk person. “Alright, how old would you be if you weren’t dead?”

“Thirty-one.”

Chuuya raises an eyebrow.

“You oughta know how much it ticks a guy off when you think he’s younger just because he’s short,” Nakahara says. His glare would probably be more effective if he weren’t red-faced from all the alcohol, but even sober he wouldn’t be intimidating.

Still, Chuuya can’t say he’s wrong about people making assumptions of him or how much it makes him want to punt them through a wall. “Alright, it’s my bad.”

Nakahara snorts, but doesn’t press the issue. He just turns back to the bartender. “Another sake for me and one for Chuuya here. It’s on me.”

“Generous,” Chuuya says, without any intent to try to pay for himself instead.

“I don’t buy much but books and booze,” Nakahara replies. “Think of it as a birthday gift, I guess.”

Chuuya hums, not really having a response to that. When the bartender brings their sake, he lifts his glass. “A toast to Chuuya?”

“To Chuuya!” Nakahara clinks his glass with Chuuya’s, before draining half the glass in one go.

Chuuya drinks his at a slower pace. If Nakahara’s been drinking like that the whole time, then Chuuya has no idea how he isn’t passed out on the floor already, and he’s seen plenty of people who severely overestimated their own limits.

“Hey, another toast.” Nakahara lifts his half-empty glass. “To being alive.”

“Funny toast for a dead guy to make,” Chuuya replies.

“You only appreciate being alive when you’re dead. Trust me on this one. To ‘how old are you turning’ being a simple question, to drinking for fun and not because there’s nothing else to do, to changing. To having a future and not just a past. A toast to being alive.”

There are questions Chuuya should ask about the sudden shadow in Nakahara’s eyes, but even if he knew the words he wouldn’t be the right person to intervene.

So he clinks his glass against Nakahara’s. “To being alive.”

Maybe next year he’ll let Mori throw that party.