At two thirty-six in the afternoon on a Monday, Dazai realizes he has feelings for Fukuzawa Yukichi.
He remembers the moment clearly. The scene: the agency’s backyard. Fukuzawa and Kunikida are sparring, and Dazai is watching them, because-
Hm. Dazai rests his chin on his hand and thinks: why is he watching this, exactly?
Not to see who wins. Fukuzawa has never lost a match to Kunikida. The conclusion is already known - just Kunikida forcing Fukuzawa to work up a sweat is impressive.
Because watching two attractive men fight each other is hot? Well, of course it is, but even the most attractive men can only hold Dazai’s interest for so long. The two of them have been going at it for five minutes and yet Dazai’s attention is still fixed on Fukuzawa.
Not Kunikida, he realizes. Kunikida cuts a handsome figure as much as the president does, and his skin doesn’t gleam any less with sweat than Fukuzawa’s right now, but Dazai has barely glanced at him. Looking at Kunikida doesn’t make Dazai want to bite his collarbone or pin him down and take him or embrace him-
Dazai makes a choked sound. He’s pretty sure those two have their attention entirely on each other lest one catch them off guard, so neither of them caught the expression of alarm on his face when he realized there was a Feeling in there.
No, no, it’s just attraction, right? Fukuzawa is gorgeous and Dazai doesn’t have any issue saying he’d ride him until he screamed, that doesn’t mean he has a crush. It’s not like he wants to sleep next to him or go on dates with him or bring out one of those rare smiles-
That was two weeks ago.
Avoiding Fukuzawa isn’t terribly difficult: Fukuzawa spends most of the work day in the back, and when he does enter the front office, it isn’t out of character for Dazai to leave his work undone for some whim. Kunikida will yell at him, but he’ll do that anyway.
It isn’t a permanent solution, but surely Dazai will get over his feelings. He knows better than to think anything good can come of caring about another person that way. If he cares about someone, they will inevitably be taken from him, and Fukuzawa is too important for anyone to lose.
This is embarrassing.
Dazai’s lovestruck feelings do not go away. He’s sure he gets more obvious about avoiding Fukuzawa, so much that even detectives besides Ranpo notice. And if there’s anyone Dazai would have to be incredibly blatant to tip off-
Kenji sits on the bench next to Dazai and asks, “Did you and the president get in a fight?”
Dazai suppresses a sigh underneath a fake smile. “Oh? What kind of a fight would we get into?”
“I dunno, ‘cause everybody likes him! And it seemed like you like him more than most people?” Kenji swings his legs. “If you didn’t get in a fight then I dunno why you keep leaving whenever he shows up.”
“I can’t possibly like Fukuzawa more than Ranpo likes Fukuzawa,” Dazai points out, clutching to the remnants of his plausible deniability. “Or more than Kunikida does.”
“They like him different! I bet you wouldn’t have him beat you up all the time-”
Dazai thinks about that for a second, then decides not to think about it too hard in front of a fourteen year old.
“-and Ranpo and him have known each other forever, right? So it’s different.” Kenji looks proud of his reasoning. “You’re more like… When my big sis was sweet on the boy from next door, but she didn’t wanna say anything because she was too busy on the farm, she looked at her boy like you look at the president. And now they’ve got two kids and a dog.”
“Fukuzawa is more of a cat person…” It comes out weaker than Dazai would like. “That’s a very interesting story, Kenji, and I’ll buy you a steak dinner if you promise to never repeat that to anyone else. Ever.”
Kenji, whose eyes had lit up at the word ‘steak’, thinks about it… then shakes his head. “I’m gonna tell.”
It’s only luck that he manages to distract Kenji and rush back to the agency before Kenji realizes he’s disappeared. Because Dazai absolutely does not want to talk about embarrassing feelings, but he wants a teenager to talk about his embarrassing feelings for him even less than that.
He’s out of breath when he arrives - trying to outrace someone who can leap along cars is exhausting even with a head start - and it takes him a second to realize that it’s Fukuzawa who’s answered the door.
“Dazai.” Fukuzawa’s expression is opaque as always, but Dazai thinks there’s a little bit of concern in his voice.
Without answering, Dazai grabs Fukuzawa’s wrist - he’ll apologize later if tiger Atsushi eats someone while he’s confessing - and pulls him into the back of the office. Fukuzawa follows, apparently willing to go along with whatever fit of madness has Dazai trying to drag him around.
In a room with thick enough walls that Dazai feels almost sure his coworkers aren’t eavesdropping, he shuts the door, leans on it, and says, “I have romantic feelings for you.”
At this moment, he wishes Fukuzawa wasn’t so difficult to read. His eyes widen imperceptibly before glancing to the side. Is that embarrassment? Dazai can’t say.
It’s about the answer Dazai expected. He opens his mouth to apologize for making things awkward between them.
“I feel similarly.”
And then he shuts his mouth, lest his racing heart hover up his throat and out of his body entirely. “…Ah. Really?”
Fukuzawa nods. There’s a tint of pink on his cheeks.
Dazai finds himself smiling, just a little. “Good to know.”
(Kenji does still tell Fukuzawa later, in front of Dazai and the whole agency, and it is still so embarrassing that he wants to die.)