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Some time after they save Yokohama once more, Chuuya grabs the collar of Dazai’s shirt and kisses him, hesitantly shy, the exact opposite of anything Dazai expects.

They’re bloody and bruised and Dazai thinks he might have a broken rib. He’s lost count of how many times they’ve reluctantly come together to save the city that they love most, only that every time it feels a little easier, like the healing of a gaping wound. One that’s been ripped apart time and time again.

Like this, Chuuya’s lips are warm and soft, tasting of chapstick and desire, strung so thin that his entire body shudders when Dazai‘s hand comes up to rest against his cheek. The wind raises goosebumps on his arms, and he wonders, briefly, why it’s taken them so long to do this.

Chuuya’s hands glide along his shoulders, light at the nape of his neck. Dazai has always compared touching Chuuya, nullifying his ability, to the stifling of an electric current; that sentiment hasn’t changed, even now. Corruption and gravity are all intertwined in Chuuya’s fingertips, pressing and yielding with equal grace, even behind the confines of the nullification.

Dazai feels greedy, heady with the thought that it’s him who experiences Chuuya’s ability in this way, him who puts a rest to the buzzing in Chuuya’s head. He bites down lightly on Chuuya’s lower lip and Chuuya gasps into his mouth, gripping the collar of Dazai’s coat. The stitching rips, but the sound is drowned out with how harshly Chuuya is breathing.

When they part, Chuuya stares at Dazai for what feels like an eternity, eyes hopeful and wide. His mouth hovers, still close to Dazai’s, and Dazai feels as if they’re breathing air into the same set of lungs. Having Chuuya pressed flush against him after so many years of being together but apart feels like fate; in this way it makes sense for a kiss to be the first time Chuuya ever truly catches him off-guard. Dazai laughs, because he isn’t sure how to respond, and he watches as Chuuya expression morphs into anger as stares up at him. It’s a fitting look.

The sight of Chuuya against the Yokohama skyline burns itself into his heart.

“I always knew you had a thing for me,” Dazai jokes.

Chuuya’s eyes widen, his jaw setting in a firm, harsh line, and Dazai realizes a few things all at once.

The first: Chuuya’s being shy about this. It’s not obvious, barely visible in the quickening of his pulse and how his feet shuffle beneath him, but it’s there, ringing loud and clear in the silence between them. The second: he had expected Dazai to shove him off at the first brush of their lips, to refuse the first step into something new.

The third: Chuuya takes the laughter as mockery, moving so fast Dazai doesn’t have time to dodge, and punches Dazai in the nose, hard. Blood gushes immediately down his face and he groans, vision crossing over and blurring. His head spins and Chuuya crosses over between his eyes.

It’s not the first time Chuuya has punched him and most likely not the last, but this is the first clean hit Chuuya has ever gotten on him.

He doesn’t remember the next part, only black where his memory should be, gloved, leather hands on his shoulders.

He wakes up in the infirmary to Yosano sitting in a chair next to him, looking as though she’s endured all the suffering in the world.

“Kunikida and Nakahara are fighting,” she says.

Dazai’s senses load in bits and pieces, the edges of his brain feeling fuzzy and hard to quantify. What he can recognize: Chuuya violently knocked him out. What he hears next: Kunikida yelling at Chuuya for bringing in an injured Dazai and knocking down the door in an attempt to get to Yosano as fast as possible.

The part of him that says he should feel indignant about being punched in the face is overridden by Chuuya being so willing to step into enemy territory for him. Anyone else would truly call him insane, he thinks.

The other part of him wants to smile, recognizing that the peace he feels in that moment might be as close as he will ever be to closing the gaping hole in his heart. Instead, he closes his eyes, lets the sound of Chuuya’s footsteps growing steadily closer fill his ears.

“I wasn’t making fun of you,” Dazai slurs out. He’s tired, still, and one step away from unconsciousness. “You know I don’t lie in these sorts of situations.”

“I realized that,” Chuuya mutters. He pauses. “After I punched you.”

Yosano snorts, incredulous. Dazai can imagine the glare Chuuya shoots at Yosano so clearly behind his closed eyelids he has to bite his lip to keep from laughing.

“Sorry,” he continues. “I didn’t mean for it to be that hard.”

“You owe me,” Dazai says. His voice sounds far off and wistful, even to his own ears. “For once, I was being serious.”

“I do. Unfortunately.” Chuuya grinds his teeth together. “I just thought—”

Chuuya takes a long, slow breath, one that Dazai knows all too well.

“I didn’t realize you were serious,” he says, and Dazai’s heart flips in his chest. He clamps down on the part of himself that says it’s a weakness.

“You still owe me,” Dazai mumbles, because he isn’t sure what else to say.

“I know.”

“Part of my plan all along. Be my personal chef for two months.”

“You’re such an asshole.” The smile in Chuuya’s voice is immensely fond, and Dazai can count on one hand the amount of times he’s ever heard Chuuya use that tone of voice.

Chuuya’s hand lightly rests against his. In any other mindset, showing affection for Chuuya in front of his coworkers would be a weakness that he guards as close to his chest as possible. Today, in his barely-there consciousness and the warm summer air drifting in from the open windows, Dazai thinks that it’s scarily fitting how he and Chuuya have come together that day.

Violent, awkward, and ending with one of them bleeding—like nothing’s changed.

(His nose stays purple for a while. He uses every excuse to whine to Chuuya about it.)

 

 

 

“How about you tell me a secret that no one else knows?” Dazai grins. “To make up for violently socking me in the face.”

Chuuya rolls his eyes. He looks surprisingly dignified for someone in an apron.

“I don’t have any secrets.” Chuuya glowers at him. “Even if I did, your nosey, possessive ass would find them.”

They both know the extent of the lie. Dazai doesn’t comment on it; there are some things from Chuuya’s past that he will never know about, that are meant to remain buried. It isn’t relevant to the Chuuya in front of him, anyways, long lines of muscle visible under his shirt, how they shift every time Chuuya moves or prods at one of the many pans on the stove. This Chuuya kisses him when Dazai shows up at his door; this Chuuya cooks him dinner when Dazai fails at his eternal attempt to act like a normal human being.

“That’s true!” Dazai singsongs. “I know everything about Chuuya—”

“There’s one thing,” Chuuya says, and his voice drops to a barely-there whisper, unusual for someone as hot headed as Chuuya can be around Dazai. “That no one else knows.”

The tension in his neck shows that he’s battling between regret at having said anything at all and fear at letting Dazai latch on to any more of him; Dazai knows that he’ll need to tread carefully, with whatever Chuuya is going to say. Dazai breathes in, out. Chuuya wears his expressions so clearly on his face, and it’s hard, sometimes, to slow down his thoughts and know that there’s no real threat here. Old habits die hard, and he doesn’t want to betray Chuuya’s trust by messing with him, not now.

Chuuya turns back towards the stove, gripping the edge of a pan.

“You’ll make fun of me.”

“We can trade,” Dazai offers, letting his voice swing higher in octave. “I can talk about all the times I jacked off to you when we worked together—”

“Stop.” Chuuya rubs his face with his palms, faux exasperated, but Dazai can see the way his lips curl up in amusement. That was the right thing to say, he thinks.

“...maybe later,” he continues, and turns around with a spoon in his hand, holding it up to Dazai’s face.

“Okay,” Dazai says, taking a step closer to Chuuya. “Later, then.”

Dazai takes a bite. The curry is warm and slightly sweet and tastes better than anything he’s ever tried; Chuuya’s eyes stay trained on him as he swallows. He’s not good at letting things come to him, and the temptation to pull whatever Chuuya is hiding out into the open is overpowering.

“You’re not good at leaving things be, are you?” Chuuya muses. He switches off the stove and goes to grab them plates.

“Contrary to what you may think, I’m not always planning things,” Dazai lies. His entire body is still thrumming with the knowledge that Chuuya might have something over him.

“That’s bullshit, and you know it.”

Dazai pouts. Chuuya thrusts a plate of food at him, and he takes it without comment.

“You’re being oddly considerate. What’s the catch?” Chuuya narrows his eyes.

“I’m always considerate.”

“Another lie.”

Dazai takes another bite of food, leaning against the kitchen island. He hums as a response.

“If something doesn’t go your way,” Chuuya quips, “you twist it until it does. You haven’t stopped doing that, even now. So why aren’t you bothering me about this?”

Dazai knows, painfully, the extent to which he’s manipulated Chuuya in the past. The weight of it hovers between them even now. He isn’t sorry for it, not entirely, but the challenge of having Chuuya willingly tell him something on his own terms feels more interesting than pulling it out of him by force.

“Why are you still here, then?” Dazai mutters, mostly out of sheer curiosity. “If that’s your opinion of me.”

Chuuya eats for a moment in silence.

“I want to see if you really are human,” Chuuya says, voice low. It’s the kind of confession that makes a shiver run down Dazai’s spine. “That’s all.”

“What’s your reasoning?” Dazai asks. He already knows the answer: someone like him barely has any trace of humanity left.

“Stop asking questions you already know the answer to.”

Dazai lets the conversation fade out, heavy and overwhelming. They eat the rest of their dinner quietly, and Dazai leaves for the evening afterwards. Chuuya has an odd expression on his face when Dazai walks out the door: longing, maybe, or a sense of defeat.

He wonders if Chuuya thinks he’ll disappear, again.

 

 

 

Chuuya shows up at the ADA office a few days later. No one bats an eye except for Kunikida, grumbling about how members need to stop having relations with criminals. Yosano rolls her eyes; Atsushi, ever honest, stiffens in his chair.

“Chuuya,” Dazai drawls, “to what do I owe this honor?”

Each of Chuuya’s steps shake the floor. The tension in the room rises, dramatically. Dazai can only think of one thing —

“Come with me,” Chuuya says instead.

That’s the opposite of what he’s expecting. A slight pang of irritation rushes through him.

“What?”

“You heard me.”

“I’m working.”

“Kunikida.” Kunikida’s head shoots up from where he’s conveniently choosing to ignore Chuuya’s presence. “Is Dazai working?”

“No,” Kunikida and Atsushi say at the same time.

Dazai clicks his tongue. So much for company loyalty.

Chuuya stands expectantly. It’s the sort of low crouch where Dazai knows he won’t take no for an answer. Irritation rises further; who’s Chuuya to boss him around?

“Don’t wanna.”

“That’s too damn bad. Get up.”

“No!”

“I can break your nose again, if you like,” Chuuya points out.

Someone in the room laughs. Chuuya takes another step; the floor shakes again.

“Go before he stomps a hole in the floor, please,” Kunikida hisses.

Dazai shoots a pouty glare at Kunikida; Kunikida just stares back with an irritated expression. Every inch of Dazai’s body screams in complaint as he steps away from his desk, watching how Chuuya’s eyes bore holes into his body. It’s a look he’s gotten used to over the years, but it’s in an entirely different context now; going up against Fyodor feels easier than weathering whatever thoughts Chuuya is currently battling in his head.

The walk out of the office is heavy and awkward; Chuuya falls in line with his footsteps, heavy against the ground, but otherwise says nothing. Unease settles low in Dazai’s stomach, but he controls his expression with years of training behind him. He won’t show discomfort to anyone, not even to Chuuya.

It’s ultimately Chuuya who breaks the silence.

“Are you serious about this?” Chuuya snaps.

“What?”

“Us. Whatever the hell that is.”

Dazai blinks. What?

“Us?” He echoes. Nothing about him or Chuuya or them together has ever been easily quantifiable; Dazai had thought they were at least on the same page about that much.

Yes,” Chuuya says, exasperated. The door to the building flies open, creaking on its hinges. “I’m not going to be your pet— whatever. You can’t just leave when we argue.”

“We always argue,” Dazai points out, voice light.

“I’m not going to let you boss me around,” Chuuya growls, ignoring Dazai’s comment. “No more—fuck—don’t manipulate me to get what you want. None of it. Or I’ll kick you out for real, this time.”

Chuuya’s seriously angry, none of the fond irritation that normally surrounds his words when him and Dazai speak. This is real, honest hurt, and the red aura of his ability switches on and off, fluctuating with his emotions. Chuuya’s hands shake with the effort of controlling it.

“You can’t just disappear for a few days to get me to tell you the secret—”

“I wasn’t.” Dazai cuts him off.

Chuuya stops moving mid-breath. They’re in the middle of the street, so vulnerable, but Chuuya looks at him like nothing else in the world matters. Like no one else exists.

“What?”

“I wasn’t trying to get you to tell me.”

“Don’t fucking lie to me—”

“I’m not lying,” Dazai says. His heart pounds in his ears, and he struggles to slow down his racing pulse. “I wouldn’t lie to you about this.”

“But you have,” Chuuya breathes out. “So many times.”

“I have,” Dazai says slowly. “I have.”

Chuuya’s shoulders slump over. It’s the first time Dazai ever thinks he looks small. He isn’t sure what changes in that moment, only that he suddenly wants to try, maybe for the first time in his life. Dazai’s slept with so many people and messed up so many more, but despite it all Chuuya is standing in front of him and isn’t going anywhere.

“I don’t know if I can trust you,” Chuuya whispers. “But—fuck—I’m trying.”

Dazai laughs. He can’t help it. The entire thing feels ridiculous—having a legitimate argument in the middle of a street, between two people who shouldn’t necessarily be together; Chuuya’s loyalties will always lie with the Port Mafia, and Dazai’s with no one but himself. He walks closer to Chuuya, watching as Chuuya stiffens, defaulting to defense.

He raises a hand, lightly wrapping it around Chuuya’s shoulder, pulling him into an awkward half-hug. It feels weirder than kissing, or holding hands, things that they’ve done plenty of, one out of selfish desires and the other out of utility for Dazai’s ability. The tension in Chuuya’s body fades, bit by bit, like it always does when No Longer Human lifts the burden of controlling gravity from his shoulders.

“You don’t have to trust me,” Dazai mutters. “You just have to believe me.”

Chuuya doesn’t respond. The late evening sun stretches golden light across Yokohama, and it catches in the lighter strands of Chuuya’s hair. It’s beautiful in a way that Dazai’s never seen before, or never bothered to see, and he feels the world expand and move in his chest.

“You’re a piece of shit.”

Dazai muffles more laughter into Chuuya’s hair. Coconut and warmth, the scent of Chuuya’s expensive shampoo.

“I won’t push you,” Dazai says. “I’m trying, too.”

The exhale Chuuya lets out convinces Dazai that they’ll end up just fine, after all.

 

 

 

Dazai doesn’t sleep around other people.

It’s a defense mechanism he’s held on to for longer than his memory allows, stretching back further than Mori to the family he doesn’t remember anymore.

Chuuya has no such rule—Dazai can recall every instance of carrying Chuuya back to base after using Corruption, of every quiet exhale against his chest. He didn’t understand it at 16, or 18, and barely even now, watching the slow rise and fall of Chuuya’s chest next to him, hair splayed out like a halo. Chuuya’s trust is not easily earned just as much as it is not easily lost, and he closes his eyes the instant Dazai cards his fingers through Chuuya’s hair, out in seconds.

His eyelashes are so long, Dazai thinks, dark against Chuuya’s cheeks. Any other night he would leave; an insomniac has no place in anyone’s bed. But Chuuya asks him to stay, threatening violence if Dazai so much as gets up to pee, and Dazai decides that he does, actually, like the feeling of having working legs.

So he stays. And resists the urge to complain. He’s so tired, but he can’t sleep with anyone next to him. Can barely sleep on his own, one eye open the whole time.

This whole sort-of-relationship thing is harder than he originally imagined. Chuuya refuses to have sex with him, even though Dazai knows he wants to, and he doesn’t understand the hesitation. He catches Chuuya, sometimes, staring at him with pupils blown wide and feral, five seconds from tearing Dazai apart, and Dazai imagines it when he’s alone.

Chuuya could overtake him even without his ability, press him into the mattress and silence the neverending narration in his head. Heat pools in his belly, and he fidgets, toes curling.

“Chuuya,” he murmurs, brushing a hand across Chuuya’s jaw.

Chuuya stirs, groaning, eyes still closed when he responds.

“Should’ve known you’re a damn insomniac.”

“Sorry,” Dazai whispers, pressing a light kiss against Chuuya’s lips. He still tastes like toothpaste. He isn’t at all sorry.

Chuuya kisses him back halfheartedly, mouth barely moving against Dazai’s own, but alertness eases back into his body bit by bit.

“W’time is it,” Chuuya slurs, turning his head away from Dazai.

“Late,” Dazai says, chasing Chuuya’s mouth, trying to lean back in—

“Dazai.” Even in the dark, he can imagine the brightness of Chuuya’s eyes, the way they harden as he says Dazai’s name. “I’m not fucking you right now.”

“I didn’t say anything about sex, did I?” Dazai says, lips brushing against Chuuya’s as he speaks.

“You really think I’m an idiot, don’t you?”

“I never said that, either.”

“If I spoon you, will you go the hell to sleep?” Chuuya sighs, like he’s dealing with a child.

“I don’t sleep,” Dazai grumbles, suppressing the irritation in his voice.

“You’re human. You sleep.” Chuuya turns and drags Dazai close to his chest, throwing a leg over Dazai’s to trap him in place.

It’s hot and not the least bit comfortable. Dazai squirms, shifting, but Chuuya’s arms keep him immobilized. He doesn’t want to cuddle again, if this is what it means.

“Sleep.” It’s a command, how Chuuya says it, and Dazai’s body betrays him before he can offer a retort and responds in kind, relaxing into Chuuya’s hold.

They stay linked together until Chuuya falls back asleep, breath ghosting over Dazai’s face. Dazai closes his eyes. Hours pass, the heat of Chuuya’s body a comfort against the dark of the room.

Eventually, when early morning sunlight streams in through the window, he sleeps.

 

 

 

Dazai ends up discovering the secret on accident.

He’s slipping into Chuuya’s apartment and a quiet song reaches his ears, unfitting and fitting for someone as loyal, kind, and cruel Chuuya can be, all wrapped up neatly in the same breath. In the seconds that follow he imagines every possible response Chuuya will give him like a broken record, of the blush that will spread across his nose, and his heart is momentarily so full he forgets to breathe. It burns at the base of his throat, the tips of his fingers.

For a short moment, there’s only Chuuya’s back against the windows of his apartment, swaying back and forth on his heels with a not-quite-there smile on his face. Dazai can categorize every expression on Chuuya’s face, each fitted neatly into its own category. This one, he thinks, is bliss. Pure and expressive.

Chuuya dancing is a secret he that must be extremely well kept, Dazai muses, all too used to silently slipping off his shoes and closing the door behind him. The music swells and so too do Chuuya’s movements, falling in line with a beat Dazai can’t hear.

Dazai is used to Chuuya adhering with his steps, of hearing the familiar sound of Chuuya reluctantly, begrudgingly following him, grumbling all the while. This time, Chuuya slows, turning to see Dazai with only a hint of shock in his eyes, and it’s Dazai that takes a step forward to move into Chuuya’s space.

“You really do never fucking knock,” Chuuya mutters, the tips of his ears blindingly red under the lowlights of the living room.

“No,” Dazai says slowly, and he’s fighting back a grin. They’ve already done this so many times since Chuuya punched him and gave him a concussion and kissed him all in the same breath, and it’s never less thrilling to see Chuuya’s careful gaze trained on him.

“You weren’t supposed to see that,” Chuuya continues. The music drags on in the background, light and airy.

“So you won’t teach me?”

The question catches Chuuya off guard; he rocks back on his feet, staring at Dazai with suspicion.

“You’ll trip,” is Chuuya’s childish reply. He looks away and the flush on his ears spreads to his cheeks.

“I believe you’ll find me to be incredibly coordinated.”

Chuuya scowls. He knows Dazai is right.

“Fine.”

“Hm?”

“Come here.”

Dazai doesn’t think he could disobey if he tried. Chuuya beckons him with a small curve of his wrist, and Dazai is pulled like a string, closer and closer still until he’s in front of Chuuya, inches between them. The music feels like background noise to how he hones in on every hitch in Chuuya’s breath.

“I should lead,” Dazai grins. He knows he’s pushing his luck.

“Fuck no. You can’t even dance,” Chuuya says, grabbing Dazai’s hands. One is placed on his shoulder, the other intertwined with his.

“I’m taller. So I lead.”

Chuuya steps on his foot; Dazai yelps indignantly.

“You know that I’ll take back control eventually,” Dazai says as Chuuya spins them on a downbeat.

“You can say that,” Chuuya says, deadpan. “But—”

Chuuya looks up at him suddenly, grin absolutely wicked. “I know how much you want me to wreck you.”

Dazai’s breath stutters in his chest, and he trips over his feet as they move across the room. Chuuya laughs but otherwise doesn’t comment, coaxing Dazai into a gentle movement back and forth. He’s intimately reminded of Chuuya’s strength in that moment, the grounding effect that he has on Dazai.

He’s used to having others lives in his hands out of utility, but Chuuya’s loyalty has never stemmed from anything more than trust that Dazai would never let him die. He wonders if Chuuya feels more than that, now.

“I guess you don’t suck too much,” Chuuya mutters, clearly peeved at how quickly Dazai matches his steps. “I’m going to dip you, okay?”

Dazai blinks, registering Chuuya’s words. He’s barely able to get out a squeak of protest—he doesn’t want another concussion, but suddenly Chuuya’s hands press into his back and he’s bent backwards, flailing to keep his feet from lifting off the ground. His eyes close instinctively, waiting for the inevitable fall on his ass.

When he’s bent far over and nothing happens, he opens his eyes.

He promptly wishes he’d kept them shut.

Chuuya looms over him, blocking out the light from the ceiling. It casts a white halo around his hair, mussed but still soft at the tips of Dazai’s fingers, where they lie against the back of his neck. His face is sweaty and flushed, eyes just as ecstatic as the rest of his expression, watching Dazai’s face closely, as if waiting for something.

Dazai blinks up at him, stunned to the point of silence.

Chuuya lets out a brief snort of laughter, bringing their foreheads together; Dazai closes his eyes instinctively, leaning up slightly into the touch, letting himself relax and smile, just slightly. Chuuya’s laughter runs through his entire body, head to toe, and he faintly wonders if Chuuya can hear his heartbeat, loud and erratic in his ears, close to bursting.

“Like I said,” Dazai says, “I’m plenty coordinated.”

“I’m the one doing all the work,” Chuuya replies, lifting Dazai back up. “Like always.”

“I’m just the brains of the operation,” Dazai trills, “you always were the one with the heavy fists.”

What he doesn’t say: nothing about this speaks to Chuuya’s physical abilities, only his effortless grace. Chuuya lifts his left arm and spins Dazai around, standing on his tiptoes to do so. Dazai resists another grin, knowing it would earn him an elbow to the face.

The song ends, fading out into the background. Dazai feels as though he’s trying to breathe underwater.

“Not bad,” Chuuya repeats. He doesn’t make a move to let go of Dazai. “You’re ugly, but at least you can follow a simple pattern.”

“And you told me not to lie,” Dazai leers, leaning down closer to Chuuya’s face to press a kiss to his cheek, preening inwardly at how disgruntled Chuuya looks.

Another song begins. Chuuya looks at him silently, and Dazai understands the question in his eyes that he doesn’t bother to voice.

Chuuya takes a step forward.

For maybe the first time in his life, Dazai follows his lead.

 

 

 

 

“You know what’s sickening?”

“My beauty and grace? I know, Ranpo-san.”

Ranpo rolls his eyes. He’s sprawled out on his desk, eating chips and candy. They’re the only two in the office for now: Atsushi and Kyouka are out on reconnaissance, Yosano is shopping, Kunikida is God knows where.

“You. And Mr. Fancy Hat.”

“That’s a nice nickname. I should adopt it,” Dazai hums, staring blankly at an overdue report on his computer. He guesses he only has a half an hour before Kunikida barges in and skins him alive for not having it done.

“At least make it not so obvious. It’s gross,” Ranpo argues, fidgeting with the glasses in his pocket.

“Are you forgetting your powers of deduction, Ranpo-san? It’s not very obvious to others,” Dazai smiles back.

“You look too happy. Stop it.”

Ranpo is being coy, Dazai knows, offing a sense of care in the only way he knows how. The mutual respect between them is strong enough that Ranpo wouldn’t actively share deductions about Dazai’s personal relationships without his direct consent; it’s why he’s waited until everyone else is out doing other work.

It doesn’t mean he isn’t curious, however.

“You have questions.” It’s more of a statement, how Dazai says it, and Ranpo’s head perks up now that he’s been given permission to be nosey.

“How long?” Ranpo asks.

“How long do you guess?”

“Not long. A month or so, maybe.”

“Correct!”

“Nothing happened while you were in the Port Mafia.”

Dazai pauses. It’s true—whether from fear or inability, him or Chuuya never laid a hand on each other the whole time they were in the mafia. Dazai remembers wanting to, feeling longing in every inch of his spine, the way it would curl into his fingers when they were together.

No Longer Human was only a utility, back then, the only kind of touch that ever occurred between them.

“He was too ugly,” Dazai says, choosing the easy way out. Ranpo sees through it, but doesn’t comment.

“I think,” Ranpo mutters, “he wouldn’t mind if you took the lead sometimes.”

Dazai stares back at Ranpo. He thinks of Chuuya kissing him against the Yokohama skyline, of how he seemed to glow in late evening light. Of his light laughter, of the specific glare that only ever Dazai receives. Of his abrasive drunkenness, of his soft breathing as he sleeps.

“Would he now,” Dazai echoes, not quite able to keep the awe out of his voice.

Footsteps sound from outside the office door; Atsushi, Kyouka, and Kunikida are back, Yosano not far behind. He spends the next few moments with Ranpo in silence, letting the weight of his words permeate between them. His mind shuffles through possible options before finally settling on one that fills him with smug glee.

Ranpo doesn’t miss it; he just rolls his eyes again and goes back to his bag of chips, shoveling more into his mouth.

Noise overtakes the Armed Detective Agency again. Dazai lets himself be swept up in it, trading joking blows with Kunikida over his unfinished work as Atsushi tries to intervene. Yokohama will stay in peace for at least a few more months, and they can be relaxed, for now.

He has a brief thought: that maybe this is what Odasaku always wanted.

 

 

 

He texts Chuuya on his way home from the office, telling him he’s breaking in to his apartment. Chuuya doesn’t respond until Dazai's in front of his complex, yelling through poorly worded, vulgar sentences that he’s going to add extra bolts to the doors and windows to keep Dazai out permanently.

They both know it’s a futile effort. Dazai has snuck into higher security facilities than a dead bolted door. Which is why he figures it would be fun to switch it up.

He knocks at Chuuya’s door.

Chuuya appears thirty seconds later. He’s in sweats and a white shirt, leaning against the doorframe, hair damp from the shower. It curls up at the edges, longer than usual, soaking the collar of his shirt.

“No suit today?” Dazai mumbles, stepping into the hallway before Chuuya can shut the door in his face.

“It’s my day off.”

“Hm.” His eyes train in on Chuuya’s collarbone; for someone always as dressed up as Chuuya, seeing him in casual wear is a rare sight.

“Why’d you knock?” Chuuya narrows his eyes. 

“Curiosity.”

Ranpo’s words echo in his head. Chuuya doesn’t respond, and they walk into the living room. The smell of food cooking from the stove and the slow music in the background hits Dazai’s senses, and he feels momentarily stunned from the wave of affection that surges in his heart.

“Chuuya,” Dazai starts, and Chuuya turns around to face him. “Let me lead you.”

Chuuya raises a single eyebrow.

“No.”

“Why?” Dazai asks, voice soft. He already knows the answer, wonders if Ranpo predicted this, too.

“Just because you stumbled across this doesn’t mean you can abuse it.” Chuuya frowns, but he doesn’t look angry.

“You could stand to relax,” Dazai muses. “The stress will make you age.”

“Asshole,” Chuuya spits back, but there’s no heat behind it.

“I’ve already picked up the steps from last time,” he murmurs. “Let me.”

Something in the room shifts. Chuuya eyes him curiously, letting Dazai crowd into his space. Dazai curls a hand around Chuuya’s waist, lacing their fingers together with the other. He looks down at Chuuya with a single question, and the heat resting high on Chuuya’s cheeks only confirms his answer. He moves.

It’s not as graceful as before, but Dazai is nothing if not a quick learner. They slowly turn in circles against the beat, and Chuuya matches his steps line for line. He’s reminded of so many years neither of them crossing an invisible line, yet still viewing Chuuya as his partner, whose abilities matched to the point of thinking it to be fate.

Dazai shifts them closer together, maneuvering Chuuya into a low dip; Chuuya goes down willingly, shutting his eyes as he does, gripping Dazai’s shoulders tighter to keep himself steady. It’s trusting, as clear as he could ever be; Dazai feels dizzy with it. He smiles, pressing his lips against Chuuya’s neck, bending him down a little further.

There are years of confessions whispered into the kiss Dazai places against Chuuya’s collar, of rivalry and misplaced affection and fear. Chuuya doesn’t need to know every time Dazai chose to run away from them, just as Dazai doubts Chuuya will ever tell him the full aftermath of his decision to leave the Port Mafia.

Chuuya opens his eyes when Dazai lifts him back up, and Dazai thinks, briefly, that he could travel the world and never find anything as blinding as the small smile Chuuya gives him in that moment. He resolves to never tell anyone; Chuuya’s ego is large enough as it is.

“Not bad,” Chuuya whispers.

Dazai grins back, and leans closer to say: “The food on the stove is probably burning.”

Chuuya swears and disentangles himself from Dazai’s grip, running to the stove to switch it off as smoke begins billowing from the pot. There’s a beat of silence as Chuuya stares in despair at his ruined dinner, so Dazai jumps behind the couch to give himself a moment of leverage before Chuuya spins around and storms towards him, red outlining his body.

Dazai, you piece of shit, I’m going to absolutely murder you—”

“You wouldn’t like me if I behaved,” Dazai points out, mindlessly flinging a pillow at Chuuya. He barely has a moment to dodge before it flies back in his direction, knocking over a plant in the corner when he moves out of the way.

“Will you pin me down?” Dazai’s eyes widen in faux innocence. “Please, Chuuya, pin me down, I’ll—”

“Shut up!”

Another pillow infused with too much gravity hits him in the stomach, and the force of it makes him fall over, groaning when he hits the ground. At the very least, it’s better than a concussion, because he gets to see Chuuya looming over him, hair falling forward in waves as he places his hands on his hips.

“You fucking owe me dinner. And wine. Very expensive wine,” Chuuya growls, but his eyes are light.

“I think,” Dazai wheezes, “dinner can be arranged.”

Chuuya settles into Dazai’s lap, resting his knees on either side of Dazai’s hips. They stare at each other for a while, and Dazai isn’t quite able to hide how his chest heaves with strained effort.

“So, can we call it a date?” Dazai gasps, “or are you planning on giving me blue balls for the rest of my life?”

“Fitting punishment for having to put up with you,” Chuuya grumbles, but he leans forward anyways, pressing his lips against Dazai’s, unhurried.

It’s a kiss that reminds him of the first time—gentle and hesitant, unfitting for someone of Chuuya’s personality. It breathes life into him so similar to when they meet at 15, the first time Dazai ever wanted to live. He imagines Chuuya trusting him, with more than just his life, this time, and wants in a way he never has before.

“A date’s fine,” Chuuya says when he pulls away. The tips of Chuuya’s ears are red, but his jaw is set in a way that Dazai knows he has no choice but to obey.

Dazai stares back, at a person he’s known for so long but is realizing he barely knows at all, and another barrier crumbles between them, like dust scattering in the wind.

“Anything, Chuuya,” Dazai says, bringing a hand up to his cheek, brushing strands of hair out of Chuuya’s eyes. “Anything.”

Chuuya answers him with another kiss.