Dazai had made a point of cultivating his carefree mask over the years, and for the most part, nothing was able to pierce it. He’d discovered long ago that if you faced everything in that manner, there was nothing you couldn’t overcome. The fact that he was far more serious and focused that he ever let the others know underneath all that, was beside the point. However, right now he was finding it hard to keep up that wall of cheer and optimism, and from the way Kunikida had started shooting him wary sideways looks it was clear that he was failing. He couldn’t bring himself to care, not whilst Atsushi was laid in the infirmary, barely clinging to life and it was all because of him.
He’d been caught up in the adrenaline of the fight, confident in his own ability and skills and in those of his companions. Even Atsushi was holding his own, having grown considerably in confidence after his last few successful jobs and fights and so Dazai had allowed his attention to wander, letting him lose himself in the rush of running rings around his opponents. It was a choice that he would come to regret. He’d just downed a rather persistent Mafia fighter who seemed to have made it his personal mission to target him, smiling peacefully down at the dazed man before knocking him out completely to stop him from being able to re-join the fight, when he’d sensed movement behind him. At once he’d turned, taking in the man aiming a gun directly at his chest and his eyes had widened as he’d realised two things. One it was just a gun and therefore his ability was useless, and two there was no way he could dodge the shot in time.
What happened to my perfect double suicide? He thought, closing his eyes as he heard the sharp retort of the gun, bracing himself for the pain that was to come. It never came. Instead, he heard a voice that sent a shard of fear through his heart.
“DAZAI-SAN!” He’d barely registered that it was Atsushi crying out to him, his eyes flying open just before a warm weight slammed into him, and it was only his quick reflexes that allowed him to brace them both His hands rising to grasp Atsushi’s arms just above where the tiger fur ended - fur which was rapidly retreating in front of his eyes as the teen lost his grip on his transformation.
“Dazai-san…” He’d seen fear on the boy’s face before, it was impossible not to after all that Atsushi had endured since joining them, but there was something raw about the terror in those wide eyes in that moment. And Dazai had found himself tightening his hold on the teen without thinking, completely dismissing the fighting still going on around them. He trusted the rest of the agency to cover for them, and all he could focus on right now was lunging forward and catching the silver-haired boy as he collapsed against him. His alarm transforming into fear as he felt the blood now soaking into the front of his coat, and the violent trembling that was now wracking the Were-tiger.
“Atsushi?” He called softly, fear spiking as he realised the teen’s eyes had drifted shut, and he carefully shifted Atsushi until he was cradled in his lap, allowing him to get to the wound on his back and to see his face. Pulling his sleeves up so that they covered his hand he pressed down on the wound, trying not to think about how much blood Atsushi had already lost, and instead focusing on gently rocking him in an attempt to keep him awake. It took a moment, but finally, he was rewarded by purple eyes inching open to peer blearily up at him. “Hey, stay with me all right?”
“I know,” Dazai said softly, keeping his voice as soothing as possible as he shushed the teen, letting Atsushi cling to the front of his coat as the teen tried to ride out of the pain. “Just focus on healing yourself.” That was right, he didn’t need to worry so much because Atsushi could heal himself. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down, only to freeze as he caught the fresh fear that had seeped into the teen’s expression and all thoughts of calmness had fled at the whispered words that followed.
“It’s not working…”
It had been his fault.
At the time he hadn’t realised that he’d been injured, and that when he’d attempted to stop Atsushi’s bleeding, their blood had come into his contact. That his blood which had been affected by his use of ‘No Longer Human’ during the fight, had contaminated Atsushi’s, his ability proceeding to stop Atsushi’s ability from healing him. Worse it had stopped Yasano from doing much either, and they had been reduced to relying on normal medical care and hoping that the teen who had already been through so much, was strong enough to pull through this.
It had been a week since the fight, and whilst Atsushi had finally begun to improve - his ability finally managing to get to work albeit much slower than normal, he had yet to wake up. Dazai had been useless the entire week, refusing to leave the teen’s side apart from when Kunikida forcefully dragged him from the room to shower and eat, and even then, he never actually left the building. He was terrified that if he went too far, or even looked away that something else would happen. He couldn’t even escape it in the few hours of sleep that he stole here and there, his dreams haunted by the sight of the teen taking the shot for him. Only in those dreams, Atsushi hadn’t survived, instead bleeding out in his arms, and whenever Dazai jerked awake from one of those dreams, he would sit for hours just watching the teen’s chest rising and falling. He’s alive…he’s alive…
“You’ve really been sucked into his pace, haven’t you?” Dazai blinked and turned towards the door to find Kunikida leaning against the frame and studying him with a strange expression on his face, and it took him a moment to realise that he was sat there holding Atsushi’s hand. But he didn’t pull away, instead gazing down at the pale fingers entwined with his.
“Is that such a bad thing?” To be honest, he wasn’t sure of the answer himself, he wasn’t even sure when this - whatever this was, had happened. All he knew was that whilst he cared about everyone in the agency, the silver-haired teen was different.
“No,” Kunikida admitted, fiddling with his glasses for a moment as he considered his words, before continuing softly. “In fact, it’s probably a good thing for both of you, as long as you actually talk about it when he wakes up.” There was a knowing look in his eyes as he glanced at Dazai, and the brunette muttered something unintelligible to either of them as he turned his gaze back to their joined hands. Talk about it? Words were something he usually had no problem with, but right then, thinking about addressing whatever this was it felt like he was a toddler searching for his words for the first time. “Just think about what you want and what he wants,” Kunikida added softly before slipping out of the room and leaving Dazai in even more turmoil before.
What do I want?
He was no closer to finding an answer that evening, his hand still linked with Atsushi’s even as thoughts raced through his mind. And it took him far longer than it should have to feel the teen’s fingers curling weakly around him, and it was only when there was a soft moan from the bed that he jerked upright.
“Dazai…san,” Atsushi’s voice was barely above a whisper, purple eyes creeping open to slits and Dazai felt his breath catching in his throat. He had seen those eyes goodness knows how many times, witnessed him coming round too many times and yet at that moment he had never seen such a beautiful sight.
“…’Kay?” The teen’s voice was stilled slurred with sleep, and it took a moment for it to dawn on Dazai that the idiot wasn’t trying to reassure him but that he was actually asking if he - if Dazai, himself was okay. There was definitely a lump in the back of his throat now, and he was stunned to find himself blinking back sudden tears, realizing that he had well and truly lost his usual carefree mask when Atsushi blinked, looking more alert as he stared at him.
“I’m okay.” It took him several attempts to get his voice to work, but the weary smile he earned made it all worthwhile, and he found himself gripping Atsushi’s hand a little too tightly as he added sternly. “Thanks to you being an idiot…Seriously, what were you thinking?” A small bubble of anger rose in his chest as his gaze strayed to the bandage wrapped around Atsushi’s torso. It had been his ability that had made the situation worse, but it had been Atsushi who had so recklessly thrown himself into the path of that shot and why? To protect a man who until very recently had thought about nothing but committing suicide.
“It was worth it.” Atsushi murmured, and it took Dazai a moment to realise that he had been rambling aloud and he bit his lip. What has he done to me? A slip like that would have been unthinkable even just a few months ago, his experience with the Port Mafia had taught him the art of minding his tongue when it really mattered. And yet Atsushi…His anger fizzled away as he found himself staring into purple eyes, able to see that Atsushi had meant what he had said, and there was an odd feeling his chest which intensified when he felt Atsushi’s fingers curling more strongly around his this time, and he found himself leaning forward without thought.
“Maybe it was,” he admitted, hesitating for a moment to give Atsushi a chance to protest if he wanted to before kissing him softly. It took a few seconds, but he felt Atsushi hesitantly beginning to respond, and it was then that he knew that he had just found the answer to the questions that Kunikida had posed him earlier that day. I want him, and I think…I think he wants me too. It was a foolish notion, especially given the current situation with the Port Mafia and the Guild, but he couldn’t bring himself to care right now.
However, there was one thing he had to address, and he adopted a stern expression as they parted, although it was hard to maintain when Atsushi was looking at him like that. “But next time, don’t you dare leap in the way,” he knew that it was a pointless request, even before he caught the stubborn look that passed over Atsushi’s face and so he leant forward and stole another kiss as instead, he made a silent promise to them both.
I won’t let there be a next time…