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Within the Words- Tanihara Week

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Hello, this is Xan! This is all author notes/important info BEFORE I begin. Skip to Chapter 2 for the actual fics, but this will help some background:

1. Summary Excerpt is from Chapter 2: Flowers

2. This is for Tanihara Week from 7/11-7/17/19 which is being hosted by Charlie @edogawaspoe on twt. Check out their works for the week too!

3. My goal is for each fic to be around 1K-2K words so that should be around the mean for all the chapters. Just little short stories, nothing much. WARNINGS will be put at the top of every chapter.

4. Tags aren't the most cooperative here, so I will make a compilation of which tag goes to which day here:

Day 1: Alternate Universe-Flower Shop, Language of Flowers

Day 2: Sacrifice, Mafia!Tanizaki

Day 3: Alternate Universe- College/ University, Song Fic

Day 4: Secret Admirer, Love Letters, Misunderstandings, Implied SKK

Day 5: Angst, Flashbacks, Photographs

Day 6: Alternate Universe- Soulmates, Red String of Fate, Aquariums

Day 7: Alternate Universe- Canon Divergence, Blood 

5. I’ll be referring to Tachihara as “Michizou” in these fics because Tanizaki and Tachihara are very easy to switch for one another and it’s a little easier for the eyes if I make this change. I realize Bungou Stray Dogs normally refers to him by family name, but it is just easier for me to write like this.

6. I’ll be referencing Michizou’s brother a lot, but since up to now, he has no canon name, I decided to name his brother Hori Tatsuo

He is based on a real life, well known Shŏwa novelist that was known for his melancholy lyricism, especially his writing about a couple’s subtle reactions to death in a sanatorium. In 1933, he founded the Shiki journal which Tachihara was a member of. From this, Tachihara’s poetry was recognized by this man and they both had similar writing styles along with both translating French works.

I’ll like to portray these two’s close relationship and Tatsuo’s influence on Tachihara by allowing them to be brothers for this week. And since he has little part in the original series as of now, he will almost have an OC type of personality. 

7. I hope you enjoy my fics. This is the first fic week I’m participating in and first time writing for this ship, so I’m wishing for the best! (。・∀・)ノ

8. Comments/concerns/suggestions/etc always welcome! Please correct my typos when I have them, I appreciate fixing my writing so readers can enjoy!

9. You can find me on twt @XFoster08

 


 

References for Hori Tatsuo:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatsuo_Hori (Family Name Hori)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michiz%C5%8D_Tachihara (Family Name Tachihara)

(Excerpt) for abv: 

https://books.google.com/books?id=QjS03oqmcFwC&pg=PA90&lpg=PA90&dq=Tachihara+Michizo+Memorial+Museum&source=bl&ots=RIXHxx0mIP&sig=ACfU3U1IU067XIMg66aoRC8QG0uKfl1-2Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjc7Y2W1_jiAhVJsFQKHcOsCKYQ6AEwDHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=true

Chapter Text

What a dreary day, clouds covering up any glimpses of the sun as they set a pale shadow across the city, yet not dark enough to let the clouds cry. Tachihara Michizou sighed, eyes scanning the sky without second thought. In one hand, he clutched a little piece of wood, carved with the character 正 over and over. His hands rolled up in a fist, surrounding the memories the little item held. 

“It’s been five years,” Michizou whispered, holding the trinket to his chest, feeling something cold run down his cheek. “Five years since I lost you.”

Honestly, Michizou had moved on to college and five years ago, high school seemed so distant. All those years ago, he lost his brother, being left with nothing but a small piece of wood that he never understood the markings for. Hori, his half-brother, started the marks when he was admitted to the hospital, but Michizou never knew the meaning behind the strokes.

Not even five years later.

The boy stood up, quickly wiping all signs of weakness from his face. Immediately, he pushed himself to get dressed, toss on a green jacket atop a white shirt and begin to head out. His fingers were numb as he pushed the door open, allowing the cool wind to push back his hair. Michizou only had one task on this dark day: visiting the grave of the only man he considered family. 

Automatically, his feet scuffed the steps, dragging behind on the concrete and bringing him to the entrance of the corner flower shop. He didn’t spare a second glance at the interior before entering.

Oddly enough, he had never been to that specific shop, always trying to go out of his way to find different flower shops to avoid the sympathetic stares of others. But today, he just didn’t have the energy to drive all the way downtown.

Unfortunately, his thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the door and a chipper voice from an oranged haired boy. “Welcome to Light Snow Boutique, my name is Tanizaki, how may I help you today, sir?”

Without glancing up, he recited his order, “Something small please, lilies, carnations, hyacinth, and hydrangea.” His voice trailed off  as he looked around. The owner, Tanizaki, answered in confirmation and began to work immediately, moving with deft hands, cutting the excess branches of each flower, placing them into the wrap with precise precision. The shop was extremely organized; there were flowers coordinated by occasion, color, and availability lining the walls at calculated angles. 

Everything was so precise it was stunning in comparison to the prior shops he’d visited, enough for Michizou to blurt out “It’s beautiful.”

Warm hazel eyes met his with a soft smile, something purely innocent it was indescribable by words. “The bouquet isn’t quite done yet, but I’m glad you feel that way, sir--”

“Michizou Tachihara. Please, it’s fine, call me Michizou.” 

Tanizaki chuckled, continuing to work while chatting, “Then hello there, Michizou-san.” His voice dropped into a solemn tone, “I’m sorry for your loss...these are for a grave, aren’t they? They mean sympathies and heartfelt wishes for peace, a sign of moving on almost.” The oranged haired boy paused, looking over at Michizou, brown eyes scanning the boy. “But you haven't...”

  Michizou paused, feeling the eyes bored into him. His hands shook, vision blurring as the words repeated over and over in his head. “But you haven’t. But you haven’t. But you haven’t moved on.” Everything felt suffocating, he was suffocating. 

“A-are you okay?” the flower shop owner asked, cautiously reaching to pat his customer’s back. “Shhh, it’s fine, I understand, tell me what’s wrong.”

“He should have never died!” Tachihara exclaimed, falling to his knees into the arms of Tanizaki. “It shouldn’t have been him. It was my fault! It was always my fault! I should have been the one to die! He had so much more worth, smarter than me, more charismatic! People loved him! I loved him! He was my brother who protected me always! I--can’t move on when he was my family--” His arms shook and his mouth was running by itself, sharing everything to a mere stranger. 

Coward. He was a coward. That’s why he wasn’t needed. That’s why his brother was--

A sincere voice broke through his thoughts. “You’re stronger than I could ever be.” Michizou looked up, confused eyes scanning Tanizaki’s face for any signs of lying, for meaningless pity, but there was none. Tanizaki reached his arm out, lifting the distressed boy up, before pulling him close into an embrace. “It’s fine to mourn him, to keep the shards of him alive with your memory, but please, you have every right to live.”

“But how? How to live in this nightmare where he’s gone? Where people look at me with those eyes of pity. I was never something to anyone. I wasn’t anything to his friends and I never had my own! In the end, I was nothing but a subscript in his life. No one’s ever looked at me like you, with that shameless consideration! How? Why?” He buried his face into the crook of Tanizaki’s neck, knowing he was weeping all over a stranger’s clothes, but not caring.

“Because you deserve this,” Tanizaki whispered, carding his hands through the other’s hair soothingly. “Because no one deserved to be left alone like this.”

Michizou sniffed, pulling himself away from Tanizaki. It had been too long since he’s felt another’s warmth and he wanted nothing more than to know this stranger more. More time. More something. But that couldn’t be possible, his mind nagged him. “Are you going to say that and leave me like the rest of them? Are you going to leave when you realize my worthlessness?”

Tanizaki smiled, sorrow filling his eyes as he turned, finishing up the final ribbon on the bouquet and handing it to the customer. “That’ll be 2500 yen.”

Michizou fumbled with his wallet before passing the respective bills.

“Thank you, I better be going now...” he paused, sending his thanks to Tanizaki. Before exiting the door, he looked over the bouquet. Truly it was put together by a professional, the colors stood out compared to the wrapper and all the flowers were there except--

He stopped at the door before turning, “What are these for?” Interlaced with the other flowers was one small blue violet flower, right on the edge.

Tanizaki smiled in return, coming from behind the counter to pull the confused boy into another embrace. “I thought you wouldn’t notice. Remember how I said no one deserves to be alone?” The flower shop owner smiled, pointing at the flower. “It’s an iris, do you know what it means?”

Michizou shook his head, confused, yet sinking into the warmth of the other’s arms. “No?”

“Hope.”

Chapter Text

“Do you hate having to join the mafia that much?” Tanizaki asked, watching Yosano freeze in the tunnel. “If that’s the case, I’ll join the mafia! I’ll take your place. My ‘Light Snow’ should be useful to the mafia.” He gave an earnest look to his fellow agency member.

Yosano smiled softly, “You don’t need to go that far for my sake.”

“It’s fine, I’ll sacrifice myself for your sake.” Tanizaki responded, unwavering determination in his eyes. And weeks after the incident, that’s exactly what happened. Somewhere between that time, he agreed to Mori’s terms and cast his goodbyes to the Agency.

Regrettably, he left everyone, especially Naomi who cried over him for days, shutting him entirely out. He’d never admit how much it hurt. After all, he was joining the most merciless organization in Yokohama. During that time, he even caught up with Dazai, asking him for advice only for the brunette to give him a fake smile and a simple “Good luck, just don’t piss anyone off, especially that easily irritable chibi~”

But standing there, before the five looming towers was something entirely different. In the shadows of the moonlight, the boy sighed, dragging his minimal belonging behind him, waiting for the elevator to take him up to his living area.

From all he was told, he would join the Black Lizard group and be rooming with one of their members. Nothing else was told as he entered the room. Immediately, he was faced with a small living area that followed up to the kitchen which had cans littering the counter.

Of course his roommate had to be some mafia member incapable of taking care of himself, Tanizaki sighed. Automatically, his hands moved to toss the cans away, instinctively good at cleaning up after years of taking care of himself and Naomi. 

Naomi....He clutched his hands together, willing himself to move automatically, burying his feelings. They weren’t needed here--

“Oi! What the heck are you doing with my cans?” an angry voice called from the doorway, interrupting his train of thought. Tanizaki turned, immediately ready to use his ability as a familiar redhead pointed a gun at him. “The Agency brat?”

“The Black Lizard boy?” Tanizaki shot back, exasperated already.

The mafia member with a bandage on his nose sighed, “For real, the heck was Mori doing putting you as my new roommate?” He sighed again, settling himself down on a run down couch. “Well, since we gotta work together, might as well get along. Nice to meet you, I’m Michizou Tachihara. Just Michizou is fine. I know we got off on the wrong foot in the whole cannibalism incident but you got guts, boy. Welcome to the mafia. Don’t have high hopes, everyone is meaningless compared to the executives and the boss, a worthless pawn. Don’t expect me to trust you that easily.”

Tanizaki nodded, wiping down the counter once it was clean. “The greeting is mutual, Tanizaki. Junichiro Tanizaki. I’m only here for as long as I need.” He nodded once to the fridge. “Speaking of so, do you have any food?”

“Naw, why?” Michizou yawned.

“Because it’s dinner time and there’s nothing but cans here apparently. Do you even know how to cook?” Tanizaki muttered, already annoyed by his roommate.

Michizou rolled his eyes, “Whatever. Are you like my mother? Ugh just grab some instant noodles from under the sink.”

Tanizaki felt his frustration rising already. “Fine. You know what? I’m going out to grab some ingredients, I’ll be back in thirty. For that time, just, can you help me throw my things into the empty room and I’ll come cook dinner for us.”

“As if I’ll eat something from an Agency traitor!”

And somehow despite all their complaints, the two of them ended up sitting adjacent to one another at the wooden table with a full meal in front of them. Michizou rose an eyebrow at the amount of food yet said his blessings and dug into the food, which was as delicious as it looked. Within the hour, all the food was cleared and the dishes were put back to where they belonged.

“Thanks for dinner,” Michizou muttered, turning his head away, “It was good, I’d like to eat your cooking again--not like it’s my only option, just it was good, okay?”

“M’kay,” Tanizaki smiled from where he stood in the kitchen, leaning against a counter.

Michizou faced Tanizaki with a slight pout on his face, “Just because you’re my roommate now doesn’t mean I trust you! I just like your food! But that apron is ridiculous!” He stormed off into his room, slamming the door behind him.

Tanizaki chuckled, reaching to take off his apron as he thought “How cute.”

Wait. What?

“I must be tired,” Tanizaki thought, breathing out slowly. It’s been a long day, perhaps he was just imagining things. Perhaps he was imagining how his steps were heavier to get to his room. Perhaps he was imagining how his room smelled like the other boy. Perhaps he was imagining how his heart was beating faster. Perhaps it was all a dream.

Perhaps he didn’t want to wake up if it was a dream.

But do dreams always wake up to a loud bang from the kitchen? Tanizaki groaned, lifting him off the bed and rushing in, “What the heck?”

Instead of an enemy infiltration or whatever his mind thought of, the only thing in the room was Michizou, blushing wildly while holding bag of coffee while the pot has somehow fallen behind him, spilling water everywhere. “I was trying to make coffee?”

“Um,” Tanizaki began before noticing the two cups lined up on the counter. “For the both of us?”

Michizou followed Tanizaki’s eyes, reddining by the moment. “It was for the dinner, it means nothing okay? And it’s your first mission today and I was just trying and made extra and--”
“No, I just mean, thanks.” He smiled, reaching out to pick up the pot. “Should we make this coffee then?” Michizou nodded, confused at the plural “we” in the sentence yet following along. Instinctively, Tanizaki settled behind the other boy, reaching out to place his hands on top of the other’s and guiding them to the pot. 

Leaning in close, Tanizaki instructed right next to Michizou’s ear, “First fill some water here, perfect. And then take some of the coffee mix and scoop some in. And now let me turn this on and we wait.” Only then did Tanizaki realize how close he was, practically leaning on Michizou’s back as the latter was frozen in place. Immediately, he pushed away, coughing into his sleeves and excusing himself, “I’ll be going to the mission then, see you.”

“Yeah, um, see you.” Michizou muttered, waving goodbye as the door closed before sinking down onto his knees. “Why did Mori really make us roommates? Damn old man probably knew, whatever the hell I’m feeling. Probably has plans, ugh.” He groaned, covering his face and cursing at his beating heart.

What the heck is wrong with him?
And so the next few weeks passed like that, with the two of them alternating between missions and just time together. It wasn’t odd that they never had missions together. After all, Tanizaki was more suited for solo spy missions while Michizou was usually paired with Gin and Hirotsu for raid missions.

But back in their living area, they had gotten close. Close enough to be bantering back and forth and sharing stories at the dinner table. Being good friends helped Michizou’s growing crush on his roommate but it didn’t help that he felt like he could combust any second.

Months in, eventually they got to the point of being personal. Tanizaki admitted how much he missed the Agency. “Sometimes, when I sleep, I just see their faces and know they were family. Not just Naomi, but a real group that I loved. And I can’t say I hate people here, like I consider some people like you family, but it’s just different.”

He smiled sadly, curling himself up, “It’s fine thought, you’re here.”

And Michizou once told him about his brother. “His name was Hori Tatsuo, and we weren’t brother by blood, but we practically were related. He taught me everything I ever needed in this life and eventually...he died during his service.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Tanizaki whispered, pulling the other boy into a soft embrace. “It was never your fault, Michizou.”

Stories spiraled into secrets and secrets were uncovered as they learned to comfort each other in the middle of different nights, curled up next to each other between unspoken confessions.

Until one fated day.

“Hirotsu, take a Gin, Tanizaki, Tachihara, and a few other men to the mission.” Mori hummed, not even sparing them a glance as he continued through his paperwork. “Use the Tanizaki’s ability to get within their ranks before attacking, this should be a semi-difficult missions, casualties shouldn’t be minded, just take our their main source.”

All members of the team nodded. Michizou tossed a reassuring confident smile at Tanizaki before they set off to the enemy base, another towering building in mid-Yokohama.

As planned, Tanizaki prepared his Light Snow for the group as they slipped in, passing through white washed hallways as they evaded video cameras. Within a few minutes, they had split up into groups with the non-ability users guarding the smuggled goods and the ability users in a large control room. With an order, Tanizaki’s ability was dispersed and the Black Lizards began attacking. 

Hidden in the shadows, Tanizaki watched, analyzing every move. On one side, Hirotsu was shouting orders as he launched a set of men back with his ability. On the other was Gin and Michizou who were back to back, Gin slashing enemies with her dagger and Michizou shooting rounds at the enemies with ease until--

Without warning, Tanizaki threw himself out, catching the glint of a snipper within his peripheral vision aiming directly at Michizou. Everything happened in mere seconds. Tanizaki felt himself scream something, crashing into Michizou, both toppling over as the shot rang through the room. Michizou yelled something inaudible, shooting back with angry eyes that...had tears in them? Tanizaki looked up confused, trying to brushing the tears off his roommates face only to see his hands were stained red.

Oh, he thought, glancing down at the shot probably at a vital location. He no longer could go back to Yosano like this. 

“Tanizaki!” A voice called, yelling at him. “Please, don’t leave me.” 

He looked up weakly, trying to clear the ringing in his ears. “I’m sorry, Michizou. Tell Naomi I’m sorry I never came home. I’m sorry.”

“But you can’t!” Michizou cried. “Who’s going to cook for me? Who’s going to eat with me? Who am I going to share stories with? Who am I supposed to love now? I love you, Tanizaki, please don’t leave me again. Please.”

“I love you too.” Tanizaki smiled weakly, brushing his hand across Michizou’s face. “Love ya.”

Michizou frantically tried to wrap the wound with his jacket, only for it to be stained immediately. “I can’t lose you too. Please.” He was frantic at this point, feeling Tanizaki’s pulse weaken with every second the medic wasn’t there. They’ll never make it, he knew that much.

“It’s fine.” Tanizaki whispered. 

“But--” Michizou protested, only to be interrupted by soft lips connecting with his. 

Tanizaki smiled one last time before uttering his last words. “I’ll miss you, Michizou, but I’ll love you. I’d love you past death. Always.”

Michizou couldn’t explain the gaping hole in his chest for days onwards.

To be honest, it simply hurts to lose someone he loved. It was nothing else but numbing, running through the motions as he got up, made some instant noodles, and set off to work. Maybe he glared at Mori from time to time. Maybe his peers tried to cheer him up. 

But he was merely a shell.

Chapter Text

 

♪ Put your hand in mine; You know that I want to be with you all the time ♪

 

It sounds cliche, but they were young and in love. High school came and went just as the flower petals would flutter down with the spring wind. But to be frank, none of that mattered to them.

“Michizou!” Tanizaki called, smiling as he rushed down the steps with a stack of papers in his arms balancing precariously on the edge. The older boy looked up, panic passing over his face as he rushed over to help his junior.

“Oi, what do you think you’re doing with that stack?” Michizou asked, sighing.

Tanizaki beamed, proud that none of the papers fell. “I was going to the student council room, wanna come drop by?”

Michizou sighed, patting his junior’s head. “Sure, why not?”

As they walked through Yokohama’s hallways they chatted about the lightest things. The curt breeze outside, schoolwork and whatnot. Michizou was a year older than Tanizaki, a senior in high school while Tanizaki was a junior. They met back in Tanizaki’s freshman year when their eyes met one fated day at the archery club meeting.

Tanizaki was on student council duty, passing the budget papers to the club president while Michizou was pulling back his string, breathing in, their eyes met. Amber clashed with hazel and his breath faltered, his arm weakened and released. 

He never heard if the arrow hit his mark over his heart beating.

Two years later, they were the best of friends. Arguably, they were closer than Tanizaki and Naomi, but not in the physical way. More like they understood each other despite their polar personalities. Tanizaki was calm until provoked and Michizou was easily fiery when it came to daily topics but scarily calm when he was angry. 

“I’ll see you later then?” Tanizaki asked, interrupting Michizou’s train of thought.

“Ah,” he replied, rubbing the bandage on his nose subconsciously. “Yeah, I’ll see you after club activities and we can walk home together.”

Tanizaki beamed, waving goodbye as he entered the council room, which in Michizou’s opinion was full of weird people. To be fair, the president was apparently some world renowned detective, there was a suicidal maniac lady killer who somehow charmed the school’s delinquent, they also had a sadistic member of the nurse’s favorites, and some new kid with oddly cut white bangs.

But either way, that’ll never lessen his growing feeling so for the oranged haired boy. Michizou cussed. “I have to confess, before I graduate.” He slammed his hand on the wall, gritting his teeth. It was spring, there wasn’t much time left. Now or never.

“Is everything fine?” Tanizaki questioned, later that day on the way home. The sun was setting as the breeze pushed his hair back despite his clip. “You’ve been quiet, Michizou.”

Despite his mind telling him otherwise, Michizou nodded deciding to be nothing but honest, “I’ve just been thinking...” He braced himself for something, a push or a slap as he reached out and grabbed Tanizaki’s hands. “I don’t know how to say this, but ever since we’ve met, I don’t know how to act around you. I just really admire you in more ways than I thought I could and I just want you to be mine. I know I want to be with you all the time , Junichiro.”

“I’m sorry,” he heard a soft voice, preparing himself to be rejected only to look up and see Tanizaki covering his blushing face with white sleeves. “I’m just so happy. I want to be with you too. Forever.”

Michizou sighed in relief “I hope I’m good enough for you.”

They smiled at each other, beneath the sunset as they leaned into one another, hands clasped within each other as they walked into the light, without any hurry, as it should be.

“Always.”

 

♪And how was I supposed to know that you were not the one?♪

 

As high school passed without a second thought, somehow the two of them entered the same prestigious college. Tanizaki ended up studying for public services and Michizou studying law. They were in different years, but they still happened to have some classes that overlapped and they even signed up to be roommates.

“Tanizaki,” Michizou yawned after a particularly long day at school. The professor was absolutely infuriating in his opinion since she was overly petty. “Come hereeee...”

The younger chuckled, leaning over to flick Michizou’s forehead. “Same professor?”

Michizou pouted, jutting out his lips. “She’s so annoying. Like I just know she hates me just because I’m not a part of her dumb club. I had such a well written paper and everything, but she failed me! And when I asked her how to improve, she just took off more points like, ugh, this is how I fail college. Please don’t make me retake her class.”

“Want some coffee?” Tanizaki hummed, “Come on, Michizou, we all know she’s the worst teacher, just ignore her and last the year.”

He groaned, “Fine.”

But honestly, Michizou would be lying if he said the situation was getting better. Each day, the stress piled up and complaints no longer soothed him. Over time, he felt himself tug at his hair, scratch at his bandage more and give curt answers instead of showing interest in his boyfriend.

And really, all he cared about was passing the classes. It was one paper after another, one late nighter after another and cups of energy drinks until he felt his eyes blur. 

“Michizou, please, go to sleep,” Tanizaki pleaded quietly, worry reflecting in his eyes.

“Ugh just stop, I need to pass the class,” Michizou shot back, unknowingly coating his words with venom. But he just couldn’t stop. “I swear this teacher is dumb as heck, she’s only still here because she’s the only teacher for the subject and protected by a freaking union. Like seriously, just annoying. And you too, can’t you just leave?”

Tanizaki gasped, stepping back as if the words actually hurt. They did.

“I’m serious. I thought you understood, Tanizaki, but do you really? I’m here stressing and you act like everything’s fine. All those years ago, how was I supposed to know you weren’t the one ?” The words were beginning to follow his ears yet he couldn’t stop. “Just leave.”

His junior flashed something in his eyes, perhaps it was anger or just hurt, but Michizou didn’t bother to look at the door slammed behind him. 

 

♪ So kiss me 'til I'm sorry, babe, that you are gone and I'm a mess ♪

 

Weeks into their argument, his words began to catch up to Michizou. Honestly, it was hard to face his own mess when they passed each other in the living room without another word. 

“Tanizaki--” he would begin but was interrupted by a soft “stop”.

Michizou would try to help with the housework only for Tanizaki to ignore him completely. He would even try to reach for his lover, only to be swatted off. 

It was much worse than before. Michizou could feel his mind slipping as his emotions overcame him. It was like drowning and everything toppled, spiraling into a depth he couldn’t understand. It was like sinking into a void, but where there was no light left in his life.

Depression hit like it never did before. Before sleeping, he would mutter words to himself. “Tanizaki can do better. He doesn’t need me. Everyone else, they have people they can rely on. People they are close to and can call their support. I don’t. I’m worthless. I can’t. Tanizaki has Naomi to rely on. He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t want me. I should leave. I need to leave. I'm worthless.” 

Words would repeat in his mind over and over like a mantra.

They haunted him in his nightmares, mirrors reflecting the cruel man he was. His grades deteriorated like his mind, but that was never his concern anymore.

All he wanted was Tanizaki. 

And he broke. Broke. Broken. At night he would sit, sliding down Tanizaki’s door and for nights chant “ Kiss me till I’m sorry , Junichiro. You’re gone and I’m a mess . Please.”

Sometimes he would hear echoing sobs from the other end of the door.

After weeks of the same record, Tanizaki opened the door, eyes red and puffy but he reached out, pulling Michizou into a hug as he whispered. “Please, don’t leave.” Their foreheads pressed gently against one another as they leaned into a soft kiss. 

“I’m sorry,” Michizou whispered. “I promise, I’ll never leave.”

 

♪ You know that I won’t stop until I make you mine ♪ 

 

Tanizaki laughed, “Michizou, you have icing on your cheek.”

“Huh? Where?” the older student asked, reaching to wipe his left cheek only to be interrupted by a soft finger on the other side. 

“Hah, this shop has really nice cakes, are you enjoying them that much?” Tanizaki teased, licking the icing off his finger in a way that shouldn’t be attractive but it was in Michizou’s eyes. “I mean, I guess I suggested this shop, but who knew you liked sweets so much?”

Michizou blushed, “I don’t normally like dessert, but this shop is really good, you surely know my tastes, Tanizaki.”

His boyfriend beamed. “Glad to know!”

They were currently in a little shop on campus, a little cafe almost where they served confectioneries of all types along with tea. Since they both had a little time to spare from their busy student lives, they decided to come down and check the place out. Truly, it lived up to its name as it was small but entirely homey with floral decorations lining the walls and wooden tables, everything was suited to ease the chaos of daily life.

“You good?” Michizou asked, glancing at Tanizaki’s wandering eyes.

“Mhmm,” he replied, “The shop’s just really nice and calming. I’ve just been meaning to tell you something and I feel like this is perfect.”

Michizou blinked a few times, confused as Tanizaki took his hands, holding them close and enveloping them in his own warmth. “Michizou Tachihara, I just have spent so many wonderful years with you and you’re already mine. But I want you to know that I won’t stop until I make you mine forever. I want to wake up next to you forever. I want to see you forever, and I hope you feel the same, because I can’t imagine a world without you."

“Of course, I couldn’t live without you either."

 

♪'Cause I know that I am yours and you are mine♪

 

As time passed, both of them stayed, as they swore on their vows. In fact, the hands on the clock no longer mattered as much as they had each other to lean on when times were harsh. 

Even when their hearts were tired, they never lost each other.

On the best day of their lives, they spoke one more promise. “ I know that I am yours and you are mine . Forever and forever, we’ll stand next to each other till death do us apart.”

Tanizaki leaned in, pecking a kiss on his lover, “I love you, Michizou. I swear I’ll be your wall, your support, your everything. When I met you, I was hesitant because we were young and maybe I wasn’t enough. But now, I know, we were perfect.”

“I love you too, Tanizaki.”

A vow written in stone, never fades.

Forever meant an eternity. 

Chapter Text

“Dazai-san,” Michizou stuttered, bowing his head to his senior, “Do you know Chuuya-san’s address?” The other looked up  from his book slowly, an eyebrow lifted at a particular angle. The air seemed oddly tense for Michizou and he was almost certain the question was too bizarre. But as soon as he noticed the tension, it disappeared.

The brunette sighed, “Why would you want a chibi’s address?”

“It’s uh for personal matters,” Michizou replied dread of failure already pooling in his stomach as he watched the other man’s calculating eyes.

“Well, I suppose there’s no harm in doing so, you’re his friend after all right?” Dazai hummed, scribbling an address on a piece of paper and handing it to Michizou who lit up at the sign of hope. He scanned the piece of paper, typing in the address into his phone.

Thanking Dazai, Michizou rushed off to buy some flowers and fancy writing tools before settling down and to begin writing his heartfelt letter. An hour passed before he was satisfied with his result, a short note, better called, and a product of countless drafts that just didn’t seem right. Some were too messy, too personal, or just not emotional enough.

But now it was perfect.  

Meanwhile in the school library, Dazai sat there, leaning on his elbow and glancing out the window at the setting sun. He smiled, ominously as the light graced his face, gleaming off his teeth and emphasizing the evil glint in his eyes. 

“Alas my predictions are never off.”

So as planned by the brunette, as the clock rang through the hallways, chiming nine times as he chuckled, closing his book his shoes tapped through the hallways, eyes never leaving the path in front as he hummed a tuneless melody and walking home in the midst of night. Mapping his route, he made sure to pass Chuuya’s empty doorstep on the way and leave his own present of a little peach.

“Good night, mon petit chibi.”

⁕❅⁕

Standing in front of the apartment was likely the most intimidating thing he had ever done. Michizou glanced around, making sure there were no witnesses as he observed his target. The house was moderate sized, two stories and conjoined with another apartment. But there were vibrant blue flowers blooming in the porch pots, contrast to the pale creme walls.

Breathing in to fill himself with every ounce of courage, he rushed up the steps, taking them two at a time before settling down the paper. 

Hello! Um, this is awkward because we’re friends right? But like, it’s been a while and I’ve really grown to like you, like more than friends. It’s just despite the world stacked against you, you’re always so strong willed, fighting against everything despite the odds. 

And it would be an honor to receive a response from you. The flowers are for you and I’ll come back tomorrow so I’m hoping for a reply. 

Your Secret Admirer

Satisfied by his letter, Michizou left it on the doorstep of the address Dazai gave him, rushing off as he pressed the doorbell. He didn’t bother to see if anyone came out of the house as he ran off, the cold wind brushing his burning hot face as he hid in the shadows of the night, rushing home. How fortunate that the house wasn’t that far from his own and he could drop by practically every day.

Covering his face, he came to his own door, bringing himself to the entryway, still having an awkward smile plastered on his face.

“I surely hope Chuuya-san sees my letter,” he whispered, before heading up to finish his schoolwork and fall into the soft clouds of a dream.

⁕❅⁕

Blinking away his dreariness, Tanizaki glanced down at his doorstep, once, twice, yet the scene in front of him didn’t change. Someone had apparently left flowers and an envelope on his doorstep, which was strange enough as is since he rarely gave his address to people. But then again, he wasn’t unfamiliar with love confessions of types.

Sighing, he picked up the letter, eyes scanning the boyish scrawl on the page. 

Wrinkling his eyebrows, he leaned against the doorway and asked himself, “Who?” Reading the letter again, no one particularly clicked in his mind. For a split second he thought it was for Naomi, only to realize she was gone on a trip for weeks and practically all her friends knew.

“Well, no harm done,” he smiled, retrieving the letter and returning inside to write a short reply.

Hello, secret admirer. I’m quite flattered to say the least, but I’m thankful that you decided to express them. Um, I’m sorry but I don’t think I recognize you? If you want, we can meet somewhere or when you come pick up this letter, come stay after ringing the doorbell, I’m open to talking.

I just want to say, I’d like to know you better before replying.

Gently placing the note on his welcome mat, he placed a little charm a top it so it wouldn’t fly away with the breeze before picking up the flowers and rushing inside from the cold and to once again fall into his own rhythm, cleaning up his kitchen before heading up and working on schoolwork before falling into a similar slumber as the boy on the other side of the letters.

“Good night.”

⁕❅⁕

“H-he wants to talk?” Michizou stuttered, clutching the letter to his chest. “What would I say, what will I say.” Panicking, his finger somehow reached the doorbell and he only woke from his daze when the resounding beat of the bell reached him.

Cursing loudly, he straightened himself up, preparing himself to confess his feelings to Chuuya-san only except--

“Can I help you?” a soft voice asked.

Michizou looked up, surprised. “I’m sorry I have the wrong house--” But he was cut off as he saw the boy’s face. Delicate auburn eyes framed by short locks of orange hair, clipped back on one side with a little clip. And with that tiny innocent smile, Michizou felt his composure slipping. Damn he really had a thing for orange haired boys didn’t he? “I mean uh--”

“So, I assume you’re the ‘secret admirer’?” Tanizaki giggled, not in a high-pitched way, but just in a simple way. “It’s fine, I don’t mind.”

And then and there, Michizou knew he was utterly whipped. “I thought this was Chuuya-san’s house. Ugh, it’s just Dazai-san gave me this address.” He complained, only to see the stranger’s face scrunched up in confusion.

“Wait but isn’t Dazai Chuuya’s boyfriend?”

“Huh?” Michizou yelled, mind stopping to comprehend the words. “That damn bastard was playing me.”

The orange haired boy laughed, “I thought everyone knew, but I guess information doesn’t spread that fast. I mean, they don’t hide it very well. Well, either way, it’s nice to meet you, secret admirer-kun, I’m Tanizaki, Junichiro Tanizaki.”

“N-nice to meet you too, I’m Michizou. Michizou Tachihara.”

Tanizaki grasped his hand in a handshake. “Well then, I’m free this afternoon, what do you say we go on a little walk to the theater not far from here and get to know each other a little. After all, you’re my secret admirer, aren’t you?”

Michizou blushed. Of course he was entirely screwed.

Chapter Text

“Michizou, I’m home!” Tanizaki called, pushing the door open after a long day at the Agency. But none of that mattered now that he was home, since this was a whole different issue. He sighed as there was no reply before untying his jacket, tossing it recklessly on the couch.

Peaking into the house, he tried again. “Tachi! What do you want for dinner?”

Mumbling something incoherent, he climbed up the steps, slowly, listening to each creak of the wood until he stood in front of their spare bedroom. “Michizou, come out, please.” Cracking open the door slowly, he saw the other man sitting on the bed, flipping mindlessly through magazine pages, eyes glassy as if he wasn’t truly reading the words. “I know you’re mad, but please?”

He was ignored once again. It had been too long since Tanizaki had heard his boyfriend’s voice. Instead of bothering him, Tanizaki opted to close the door, pretending the silence didn’t hurt. 

Trailing back down the stairs, he slipped his hands across the railing, spiraling down. Clutching his hands, grasping the rail till his knuckles turned white. It wasn’t always like this. It wasn’t always blank stares and dull numbness filling his veins. It used to be better. They used to be better. They used to be happy. Together.

Just like that, a memory spilled into his mind. He was on the stairway back in college. Michizou was waiting below, “Come on, let’s go home.” Smiling, Michizou reached out his hands, prompting Tanizaki to skip down the steps, two at a time as he fell into the arms of his lover.

“I love you, Michizou,” Tanizaki laughed, his boyfriend reciting the same words back to him like they were meant to be said. 

Shaking, Tanizaki shook himself out of the memory. “Not now,” he muttered to himself, forcing his feet to move forward. One step. Take a breath. Another step. Breathe. Dots flashed across his vision as he moved, his entire body tense as he shifted to the kitchen. Even if Michizou was mad at him right now, he could fix things right? Of course.

He lifted his unsteady hand, “Make his favorite dish.” Moving automatically, he recited the ingredients in his head. After making it so many times, it was practically second nature to him.

Spices here, light the fire, season the dish, let it simmer on the stove.

As his hands moved, his mind wandered again. “I love you,” Michizou confessed first. Standing on the balcony of  his prior apartment, the moon was carved in half as the three words were spoken, casting an eerie blue glow on them. Tanizaki dared not move as he heard the words, heart beating faster than it should have. He knew he should have said the words back, but in that moment, all he did was tug his friend’s head down and clash their lips together.

Surprised, Michizou let out a surprised gasp before leaning into the kiss. That was their first day as lovers, and their first kiss. He’d never forget that moment.

Clang. Amber eyes followed the spoon that fell from his grip, falling with a resounding echo.

“Ah, the food must be done,” he said to himself, monotone as his voice no longer held much emotion after Michizou had turned cold.

Trying to muster up his strength again, he called out for his boyfriend. “Dinner.”

Silently, he felt Michizou sneak up behind him, as if he practically had no presence. Silently, he took his seat, adjacent to Tanizaki. Swiftly, Tanizaki placed the two dishes in front of their respective seats, “Itadakimasu.”

Michizou didn’t return the prayer, simply staring blankly at the food for a while, then turning his gaze to look at Tanizaki. Without uttering another word, he got up, chair skidding across the floor as he walked back up, door slamming behind him. 

“I know you don’t need to eat my food anymore,” Tanizaki whispered, voice cracking as tears threatened to spill. Shaking, his mind flashed back, images and images of them laughing, eating together, wiping rice off each other’s cheeks, food fights. Everything they had. “I know you don’t need me anymore.”

Tossing the unfinished plates on the growing stack in the sink, he sighed, knowing it was about time to clean up, but he hardly had the energy. Glancing at the stack, his eyes caught on something in the garden. A single iris blooming despite their now neglected shrubs and vines growing in every which way as they desired. 

“Iris, do you know what it means?” Tanizaki asked when they were planting the flower years back. Michizou leaned on the fence, shaking his head. “It means hope. Hope that we will always be together and hope that death will never do us apart.”

“A little cheesy, don’t you think?” Michizou replied, chuckling. “But I too hope to stay with you forever. Years from now and decades from now. I’d always love you.”

Did he still love Tanizaki now? Did he truly mean the words back then?

Likely not, Tanizaki thought, pushing the thought out of his mind, he rushed past their living room, unwilling to let his mind wander to the late nights where they would lean against one another, dancing to their song. Dancing like that’s all they knew. Singing the lyrics that they would be each other’s. Sometimes, they’d even practice guitar over there, together, a melody of their love.

And even worse, he didn’t want to look at their photographs. He didn’t want to look at the first picture which was back in college, side by side, eating crepes when they were just friends. Then another, their first date. More and more pictures marked important parts in their life.

A road trip. A star gazing adventure. A trip to the museum, the aquarium, the beach. In every single picture, Tanizaki remembered they were smiling, beaming next to each other because those were the truly blissful times.

But now, the glass on the frames were cracked, laying shattered on the ground as angry echoes of their argument flowed into his mind.

“It’s just, I don’t understand, what the hell do I mean to you, Tanizaki?”

He froze, the words coming back to him. “What do you mean, Michizou, I love you--”

“Do you really? If you really loved me, you’d let me go. Let me do this for my brother. I need to hunt down his killer, that’ll be the only thing that can give me closure!
“Michizou, you know Hori-san wouldn’t have wanted you to seek revenge!”

Angry eyes turned to him, “How the hell would you know what my brother wanted?”

Unable to answer, Tanizaki watched his lover stormed out of their house, tears seeping from his eyes as he collapsed on the floor, screaming his lungs out for anyone who dared to listen. Screaming for the world to know they had killed him. 

“Shut up,” Tanizaki muttered to himself, bringing himself to the present. Weakly, he found himself on the floor, mirroring the scene from weeks ago. “Stand up, coward.” He yelled at himself, legs trembling below him. 

Hearing a faint scuttle, he looked up, seeing Michizou standing before him, probably called down from the ruckus, he yelled at his lover, pleading. “Is this what you wanted? Did you come to see how pitiful I‘ve become without you? Come back, please.”

Without another word, Michizou send him almost a hurt glance before he left again, receding back into that one room.

Shaking his head, Tanizaki stood, bracing himself with the shelf. 

“Go to sleep.” he ordered himself. Back on auto pilot, he guided himself back up the steps, into the bathroom to clean himself up. The cold water cascaded down his back, through his hair as they intermingled with his tears. Every since that day, he couldn’t feel his eyes weep anymore. They were always raw, sore and red rimmed. 

He no longer felt like crying, but tears fell anyway.

Shivering from the cold, he wrapped himself up in pajamas, slipping under the covers. The king sized bed suddenly felt too empty, too bland, devoid of his lover. Tanizaki felt himself quaking, reaching up to curl himself together, weeping the Michizou’s name like it was the last strand he had left.

Sinking, he fell into a dark nightmare. 

Ring . Ring. Tanizaki in his dreams stopped, looking at the phone with fearful eyes. Ring. Ring. It continued, repeating, distorting, breaking. He didn’t try to move towards the phone, but he watched another version of him pick up. 

“Hello, is this Junichiro Tanizaki?” a female voice called from the phone.

Breathing rapidly, his other self responded, “Yes?”

“I’m sorry to notify you, but your lover, Michizou Tachihara has been found deceased from a gang fight. We’ll send you the address now, my condolences, sir.”

“W-what?” Tanizaki watched himself breathe, gritting his teeth. “This can’t be true.” But the other side of the phone already hung up, leaving him screaming at the phone. “This can’t be right! I should have stopped him I should have--”

Throwing the phone across the room, he knocked down the shelf with the pictures. Panting heavily, he gripped his hair, trying so hard to find something to stabilize him.

“Wake up,” he screeched at his dream self, “Please, stop showing me this, every night, for weeks, I can’t. Michizou, he’s right here, right?”

Panicking, he tossed off his blankets then rushed out of their shared bedroom, stumbling over to the guest bedroom that Michizou had been for weeks. Bursting open the door, he looked at the wall he hadn’t for weeks. There, in the center of the place was a little tatami-mat area. Next to it, a shelf full of personal items, trinkets, and surrounded by flowers and incense was the memorial.

Right in the center was one lone photo, framed in black of the last smiling picture of Michizou. 

Shuddering, he looked to the bed where Michzou was sitting hours ago. “But you’re right here. You’re alive right? Please, answer me, Michizou.”

Michizou smiled from the bed, reaching out to place his hand on Tanizaki’s cheek as his entire being displayed his sorrow. Silently, as if he couldn’t make any sound anymore, he mouthed the words “I love you” before he leaned in towards Tanizaki. 

“I’m sorry.” Tanizaki weeped, trying to grasp Michizou, trying to hold anything. “I’m sorry I let you go. I’m sorry you left. I’m sorry--”

As he uttered those last words, Light Snow vanished along with Michizou.

Till death do us part.

Chapter Text

From a young age, Hori Tatsuo has always seen the red string of fate. It wasn’t just the strand that flowed from his own finger, but it was everyone else’s. He saw the strings from his parents too. But no matter how he looked, their strings went in opposite directions, tugging them apart as their yells filled the room night after night.

Months after he asked, “Father, why isn’t mom your soulmate?” Hori’s parents divorced.

That was how he ended up under his mother’s care, who then remarried years later with her true soulmate. In the process, he was introduced to his new brother, Michizou Tachihara.

At their first meeting, he was ecstatic at the idea of a younger brother. They were quite a few years apart, with Hori already seeking a job and Michizou just starting college. But Hori immediately looked at his brother’s finger to find a red string. Over time, Hori had learned that the length of the string showed the proximity of the soulmates while the tangles showed the time it took. And his eyes sparkled as he saw the short string which was completely straight, leading through the walls.

And from that point on, he would continuously pester his little brother about his soulmate.

“So, have you met anyone cute?” he asked as they sat on their beds, on opposite sides of the room. Tachihara snorted in derision.

“What’s this about, Hori?”

The older brother laughed, “Nothing, but it’s about prime time for you to be meeting new people, dating y’know? I haven’t seen you bring anyone home yet.”

Michizou rolled his eyes, “Just because you have a girlfriend, doesn’t mean I need one too.”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Hori sighed, “Yosano-chan is just a friend of mine, please.” After all he knew too well that their strings didn’t connect. Hers flowed somewhere far away from him, twisting through the roads and off into somewhere he couldn’t quite fathom. And his was an entirely different story. “But Michizou, do you believe in soulmates?”

“That cheesy thing? Like love at first sight? Nah,” Michizou scoffed, turning back around in his bed, “Do you really think about things like that?”

Hori hummed an affirmative, “I just like to think about you being happy with your soulmate.”

“Don’t make it sound like you won’t be there if I ever meet this soulmate person. You’ll always stand next to me, right?” 

“Of course,” Hori replied, “Good night, Michizou.”

“Night, Hori.”

⁕❅⁕

Yosano: Hey, we still going to hang at your house today?

Hori: Yeah? What ‘bout it?

Yosano: Can I bring a friend, he’s a kouhai from my work place, an earnest kid. He’s the same age as your little brother, so they can be friends?

Hori: Sure, why not?

Yosano: k we’ll be over soon

“Hey, Michizou, Yosano-chan’s bringing a boy your age, play nice with him, okay?” he called over his shoulder at the boy, laying in the living room, playing on some game console. “Oh and also, Yosano is not my girlfriend, for the last time.”

“Uh huh,” Michizou echoed, not even bothering to look up. 

Walking over to the living room, Hori tapped his brother’s head, “Hey, are you listening to me? Has the game finally rotted your brain cells?”

“Hey! I was in an important part!” Michizou whined as Hori took the game from his hands. “I just died, thanks to you.” Rolling over to his back, he looked at Hori with annoyed puppy eyes which only made Hori laugh harder.

Until his eyes caught on Michizou’s red string. If earlier it was short, all of a sudden it was even shorter, tense and eager to catch drift into the strands of fate. His eyes trailed to the end of the string, which now lead right outside the door, awaiting him to just push the two together and watch them join together. How much he just wanted his brother to find his soulmate.

Ring. “Michzou, can you get the door?” Hori asked politely.

Although he complained on the way about how Hori should answer since Yosano was his friend, Michizou complied. Perhaps that was fate too, thought Hori.

“Welcome, Yosano-chan and--” Michizou paused, looking at the other boy as Hori came in after him, glancing at their fingers. Ah, he smiled, as their strings were intertwined together, bouncing happily between the two hands.

“Tanizaki.” the orange haired boy filled in, “Nice to meet you.” 

Call it sibling instincts, but Hori sensed the upcoming love at first sight panic from his brother, so swiftly, he slipped past his brother, reaching out to grab Yosano’s shoulders, twisting her inside, “Come on now, we have things to talk ‘bout right? Adult stuff, you kids have fun together! Michizou, be nice to Tanizaki-san, okay? Have the keys if you want to go out!”

“Shuddap, Hori, as if you act anything like an adult,” Michizou yelled back, only to hear the shutting of a door from upstairs.

As soon as the door closed, Yosano confronted him, “The heck’s with your behavior?”

Hori groaned, collapsing on his bed as Yosano sad next to him, “So remember long time ago how I told you I could see the red string of fate?” She nodded. “The boy you brought over, Tanizaki-kun, his string connects to Michizou.”

A small oh shape formed on Yosano’s mouth. “And you think leaving them is the best choice?”

“I mean, the heck am I supposed to do?”

“Uh, not the: trust your little brother to be himself to his soulmate and watch then awkwardly shove around their feelings in a whole two hundred page slow burn fic. And eventually a million years later, one of them finally gets the guts to confess to the other only for the second person to friend zone them because that’s exactly what's going to happen if you just let this flow.”

Hori rolled his eyes, “You have absolutely no faith in soulmates, don’t you?”

“Hah, as if I believed you the day you told me my string connected me somewhere to a random person I’d fall in love one day,” Yosano scoffed.

“Hey hey, be patient, one day you’ll surely meet your soulmate and thank me. Plus, I doubt they’re that awkward, I mean they’re just two boys--” Creaking open the door slowly the two pressed their ears through the crack, listening to the conversation downstairs.

“So, um, just sit anywhere,” Michizou said, waving his arms towards the couch awkwardly.

“Thanks...”

There was an awkward pause, “So, the uh weather's nice today.”

“...it’s raining outside...”

“Ah right I mean, I love rainy weather, don’t you?”

“Um, not really?”

There was a clang of something dropping, which to Hori oddly sounded like the plate he left on the counter a while earlier, but that’s irrelevant.

Closing the door back up, Yosano looked at him with a smirk, “See, I told you, slowburn.”

“Ugh, shut up, fate doesn’t work like that.” Hori complained, “They’re just awkward teenagers, they’ll get over it. Just kick them out of the house and it’ll be good. Take them on a date, I’m sure they’ll connect somehow.”

“Bet.”

Lifting an eyebrow as the challenge, Hori smirked, “Betting what? How about your loss and you let me take you to your soulmate and if I lose, I’ll help you get into the secret lab for specimens to experiment on.”

Yosano grinned, “You’re on.”

⁕❅⁕

“How did we end up at the aquarium?” Yosano hissed from their hiding spot behind a column. Of course it didn’t do much help, but the aquarium was relatively dark, so the two teens didn’t notice them. Not that either were aware enough of their surroundings.

Hori scooted out a little, pointing his binoculars at the soulmates. “I mean, we have to see how the bet goes and I’ve gotta give points to Michizou for remembering we had tickets.” The two boys were standing in front of a huge glass display, illustrating the coral reefs in the oceans with the water glistening off the two, illuminating them in blue as their eyes cast upwards to marvel at the sight in front of them. The tank had everything from the varying species of fish to the ocean depth creatures.

Both of them were leaning close to the glass, pressed against it practically and right next to each other because of that. So close that their shoulders brushed and their string fluttered.

“He had two free tickets. And you made me pay for ours, idiot,” Yosano muttered, shooting him a glare that would scare any other person, but Hori was completely immune.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll pay you back if you win the bet,” Hori rolled his eyes. 

Through the lens, he glanced at the two who leaned away from that exhibit, and were now walking around awkwardly, standing a whole arms length away. Yet it was painfully clear how Michizou was fidgeting behind his back and Tanizaki was hiding his blush with the dim light and his sleeves. How oblivious could they be. Hori groaned, “Just say something, Michizou, please.”

“Dude, you’re literally the guy who just wants his OTP to sail,” Yosano sighed, “And quite creepy how we’re just trailing your little brother.”

“Shut up,” Hori whacked her lightly, “It’s for a bet and--”

Crash . Leaning over, the spying duo caught Michizou toppling over Tanizaki as they fell atop one another in a cliche position. Their faces were flushed, pressed right atop one another as they laid there, looking at each other with sparkling eyes and hearts that beat too fast to be considered normal. But as people shuffled around them, their little bubble seemed to break as they both fumbled to get up.

“Uh, I‘m sorry,” Michizou mumbled, only for Tanizaki to blush even more.

“It’s fine, it’s just the room is too dark right,” Tanizaki muttered, tilting his head towards the direction of the other two, buy luckily they were too far to be noticed. “The rain eased up a little so going outside should be fine, shall we head out to the dolphin show maybe?” Michizou nodded as Tanizaki smiled, “Hold on to me so we don’t split up?”

“Are they going to hold hands?” Yosano whispered excitedly.

Michizou nodded, opting to grab onto Tanizaki’s sleeve instead, which got Yosano to mutter a soft ‘boo’ for expectations.

“Hey, are you on the ‘they’re soulmates’ side all of a sudden?” Hori asked, unamused.

“No going to lie, they’re cute together though, soulmates or not, they look like a cute couple.” Yosano answered, grabbing Hori by the collar, “Come on, they’re leaving this exhibit and going out, don’t let your slow legs make me lose them.”

Hori chuckled, following Yosano and remembering how much he appreciated her as a friend because of her fierceness. Really, even if he lost the bet, he wanted her to believe in soulmates and be happy with whoever she meets in the future. 

That is all he could ask as a friend.

After all, he never had a soulmate to begin with.

⁕❅⁕

Right as the two adults finally left the tunnel, the show had already pretty much ended. To be fair, they took their time, strolling through and actually glancing at the displays and interactive boards. But even so, they saw the two teens already chatting happily, making it seem like the awkward hours from before were merely a fluke.

“That was...really an experience,” Tanizaki laughed as they were in the front seats and got completely soaked right through their clothes. 

Michizou laughed with him, leaning forward to press his hand to the other’s forehead, “Don’t get a cold from this, come on let’s go to the gift store and get some change of clothes and something to eat. Then it’s getting late, we should go back before Yosano-chan and Hori-san worry”

“How the heck--” Yosnao muttered as Hori gave her the ‘they’re soulmates’ look.

And so they followed them through the gift store as they got new outfits and even souvenirs for the adults, not realizing Yosano and Hori were literally right there. But the thought was good enough. And they went to the bathroom to change, suspiciously coming out at the same time.

Then somehow they ended up in an ice cream parlor, sharing an ice cream sundae.

“So, this was nice,” Tanizaki whispered, leaning in again, reaching for Michizou’s hand and lacing them together as Yosano silently screamed.

“It was,” Michizou replied, smiling in a way Hori had never seen his brother smile before. More than anything in the world, he was just thankful that his brother had someone by his side, a soulmate who could love him. “I’m glad I met you, so I just want to see you again?”

Yosano shook Hori around outside, hiding in the bushes, “Are they going to confess?”

Hori paused, “We should leave, this is personal.” Without waiting for Yosano, he began to walk off, knowing that if fate truly existed, it would act then and there.

“Wait,” Yosano called, “Are you sure?” Hori nodded, walking back to his car.

“I can’t always watch over my brother,” he replied, back turned, “After all, I don’t have that long left and you of all people should know best.”

⁕❅⁕

Rushing home before the teenagers got back, Hori and Yosano situated themselves in generally casual positions, waiting for the door to creak open. Hori stayed in the kitchen, boiling a cup of tea and stirring the leaves gently. Meanwhile Yosano was looking at a random magazine on the table.

It would have seemed normal except Hori didn’t drink tea and Yosano’s magazine was upside down. Really, they were both just waiting for the teenager’s return they didn’t realize what they were doing was ridiculous.

“We’re home,” Michizou announced at the doorstep, taking off his shoes.

Hori reached over, placing the tea in front of Yosano, “So how was the date--I mean aquarium you guys.” He couched as Yosano elbowed him.

“Um, about that,” Michizou blushed. “So we had fun, and then we decided we were a good fit for one another, so now we’re dating?”

Yosano, who had begun to sip her tea spit that out immediately and Hori started coughing. Groaning, Yosano got up and patted both Michizou and Tanizaki’s backs, “Alright you two, we’re happy for you and just stay safe. I’ll be taking my leave now.”

She paused at the doorway, “And I’m free Tuesday, Hori.”

“Ah yes, for that, road trip .” Hori responded smugly, saluting Yosano mockingly as she rolled her eyes. “Nice try, but I told you it exists.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Yosano sighed, “Shut up we get you’re point. Tanizaki-kun, let’s get going, we can come back soon to see your boyfriend.”

Tanizaki nodded, reaching in to peck his boyfriend’s lips one last time before leaving.

“So, you love him, eh?” Hori asked Michizou once the door closed. Michizou nodded, prompting Hori to continue, “I’m glad for you, as my little brother. I want you to be in love. I want you to smile like the time doesn’t matter and know there’s always someone for you. I want him to be your support and I want you to trust him. Please, I want you to be happy.”

Even when I’m no longer here.

Chapter Text

At age sixteen Tanizaki witnessed his first murder. Or to be more accurate, at that moment, he killed someone. That was the first time he felt the warmth of someone else, and even more foreign were the specks of blood dripping down his face.

He honestly didn’t understand what happened at the time. 

Everything was ringing. In a world like this, people like him weren’t needed. Ability users were never wanted in this world.

⁕❅⁕

  “Subject 11266,” someone announced from behind the wall, “State your name and your plead.”

Stepping out from the side, Tanizaki starred the camera in the eye, “Junichiro Tanizaki, and I plead innocent--” he paused midway, mind reeling back to the eyes of terror on his sister’s face. Something indescribable as if she no longer recognized her brother. “I plead guilty for the death of an innocent human by the hands on my ability.”

There was a hum of confirmation from the other side, “Proceed to the living wards, we will provide you a change of clothing and a living room.”

Tanizaki nodded, leaving through a door on the opposite side. The walls were chillingly bare, white and the hallway stretch on forever with only fluorescent lights to illuminate the path. The lights were a clear sign of the lack of sunlight in that one particular place. 

Long story short, everyone on the other side was terrified of the ability users. There was no one who wasn’t afraid of them. From a young age, those who were diagnosed with abilities were forced into hiding, either that or shoved under the public eyes as they covered their hands with gloves to supposedly protect people from them.

“Head to room 9,” a guard instructed him, pointing down a hallway. As the space opened up slowly, the hallways seemed less constricting, less like a cell and more like a facility. He passed through several doors which seemed like hospital areas, yet there was still a chilling sense of being trapped. He was trapped with no way back.

Opening the door, he glanced at the arrangement strangely. On one side was standard bed and little desk with a chair. On the far wall, there was a small window, showing the breezy outside world, almost as if it was a taunt. But the strangest thing was the right wall that was split with a glass partition so he count see into the room next to him.

“Oi,” a bored voice called from the right. “Are you my new cell mate?”

Tanizaki blinked, eyeing the rusty orange hair boy, sitting crossed legged on his bed, amber eyes looking at the boy fiercely. Immediately, Tanizaki felt the need to grab onto something, anything as the eyes bore into him, strangling him. Somehow he found his voice a few beats later, “Yeah.”

“Hah, I’m Michizou, nice to meet you. I assume you’re in for the same reasons? Ability user killing someone, eh?”

“Tanizaki,” he replied, “Nice to meet you too.”

Michizou rolled around, facing his cellmate, “I mean, it's not new. We’ve all forgot to wear the gloves from time to time and killed someone. I’m here for the same reason.”

Sighing, Tanizaki sat on his bed, hearing a creak, “I don’t want to talk about that now, just tell me what’s up with this place and I’ll be going to bed. I mean, what’s with these glass partitions? Can’t we just share a room?”

“Naw, it’s their little way of showing mercy and letting us talk to someone at least. Keeps out sanity. Anyway, there’s a partitions because they’re afraid we’ll start killing each other with abilities. Y’know with the touch, they just want to keep us around for experimentation or some bull. Either way, it’s not a bad place, just a little lonesome.”

Ah, Tanizaki whispered, eyeing the glass one more time.

“Well, never mind, it’s late. Good night, Michizou.”

“Good night, Tanizaki.”

⁕❅⁕

Days in, Tanizaki got the hang of things around there. Wake up, breakfast, then at staggered intervals guards would take them out for work or exercise. It was always supervised with people wearing hazmat suits and watching his every move. It wasn’t that bad, to be honest. He got to shower after, a fresh change of clothes and back to his room.

From time to time, there would take him in for experimentation. Nothing severe, just some samples from his blood or a cheek swab. Once or twice they stabbed a needle in but described the whole process beforehand as an antidote against the ability. They never worked.

It was different from the world outside, but it wasn’t terrible.

Back when he lived with Naomi, there were just as many precautions. From his diagnosis as an ability user, his family immediately got him protective gloves. Basically, ability users were cursed to begin with, a random change instance with couldn’t even be connected to genetics. With a powerful talent, they were also unable to touch another human because the magical current would kill another. 

And because of that, he got stares from strangers, some pity, some disgust. 

But it still hurt, remembering the freedom from before. Within his own house, at least he had a sense of privacy. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad with Michizou though.

Weeks in, he asked the question. “So how did you end up in here?”

Michizou yawned, glancing blearily at Tanizaki. “I mean, the same old. You want the whole story?” Tanizaki nodded hesitatingly. “So, I had a brother. Hori Tatsuo. We were half brothers, but y’know the whole spiel. We were as close as blood brothers could be. Then one day, he was sent on the battlefield and never to return. I tried to avenge his death so I went undercover into the mafia, getting information on the way. In the process, I was uncovered as a spy, so I ended up killing some people on the way out and ended up getting this sentence.”

“Oh I see,” Tanizaki muttered. Michizou raised an eyebrow prompting him to continue. “Mine’s not that good of a story. I mean, I left home one day because my sister called me in a hurry. I was in such a rush I forgot the gloves and when I got there, there was this man, attacking her. I couldn’t stop myself. I ran up to him, furry in my eyes, and everything was red.”

His mind hurt, thinking back. “I just grabbed his arm. I meant to just push him off my sister, but as soon as I made contact, his eyes bulged out, and everything splattered. The police couldn’t even identify him. And I’m not sad that I got a criminal off the street. What hurts is how she looked at me. Like I was a monster--” 

“You’re not a monster,” Michizou whispered, almost inaudibly. “You’re just Tanizaki.”

Blinking back the tears, Tanizaki smiled back, reaching for the glass at the same time as Michizou so their palms were aligned. So close, yet so far.

“Thank you.”

⁕❅⁕

“What is your ability though?” Michizou asked one day, twirling a pen in his hand. “I can control metal objects, so ferokenesis. See?” With those words, he levitated the pen, aiming it to the wall and hitting the mark perfectly.

Tanizaki tilted his head, “Well, I don’t really know. I like to call it ‘Light Snow’ because it falls like snow. But if anything, it’s an illusion ability.”

  Clutching his hands, he breathed in, mustering his strength to cover the room in a mist, covering his presence entirely. “And I can also make illusions.” With that, he formed a copy of Michizou, reaching around the room, touching objects as if the illusion were tangible. But as soon as he willed, the mist vanished, leaving Tanizaki in the middle of the room.

“That’s pretty cool,” Michizou hummed. Touching the glass again, their hands lifted against one another. By then it had become a habit, something that made them seem human. “You ever wonder what happens when two ability users touch each other? I mean, if our magic is already high, we can’t overcharge them right? Do you think it’s possible?”

 Tanizaki shrugged. “Honestly, even if we kill each other right now, I’ll be able to leave this terrible word with you right? I don’t see the loss. If it succeeds on the other hand, I mean, I don’t know?”

“But how to get across this wall?” Michizou hummed, tapping it with his knuckles.

“Using our abilities,” Tanizaki answered, determined. “Can you distract the guard outside with your ability? They have metal on their clothes and as long as it’s not direct, they won’t be hurt. Grab the keys on the way, and I’ll slip to your side?”

Michizou tched, “Ambitious now, aren’t we?” Grinning, he set forward, eyeing the guards as he shifted something in the corner, catching their attention before firing a shot out of a gun, immediately triggering a chain reaction. All of the surrounding men rounded the corner, pulling out their weapons and allowing Michizou to use his ability and steal the key, opening both their doors as Tanizaki slipped in, an illusion falling around them.

From the cameras, it just looked the same, Michizou lying on the bed and Tanizaki taking a nap, but in reality, they were right next to each other, panting heavily from adrenaline.

“Now or never, huh?” Michizou asked, holding out his palm.

Shaking, Tanizaki pulled out his hand, hovering over the other, “Before I do this, I want to say, you’ve been the best cell mate I’ve ever had and met. I wish we met in another world where we never had abilities.” And with that, he placed his hand down, jolting at the warmth.

But, nothing happened.

There was no reaction to either of them. Opening his eyes in shock, Tanizaki reached forward, placing his hand on Michizou’s cheek. “We’re alive?” Panting heavily, he laughed, “We’re alive, we’re alive, I can feel you.”

“I c-can’t believe this,” Michizou mirrored, shock causing tears to roll down his face. “I can feel you finally, Tanizaki, I’m so happy I could kiss you right now.”

“Then do it,” Tanizaki murmured, pulling Michizou in by the collar and pressing his lips firmly into the other’s. It was messy, but entirely too magical. The touch of someone else, pressed against him was so enticing that Michizou couldn’t keep his eyes off Tanizaki. He couldn’t keep his hands off. He couldn’t stop his desire, the want for more.

“I want you,” he murmured against Tanizaki’s ear, nipping at it.

Tanizaki looked him straight in the eye, “I want you too, Michizou.”

“I mean, it’s not just you. I want you to be happy. I want a life out of here. I want something for us to build as our own. I want to go back, meet your sister and introduce myself to her. I want her to accept me. I wanted to be loved. I was told, from a young age that ability users could never be loved but now, I just want you.”

“And you can have me.”

⁕❅⁕

Months Later , that was exactly what happened. Combining their two abilities made them practically invincible and invisible at the same time.

“Tanizaki?” Naomi asked, bright eyes staring concerned. “What are you doing here, I thought you were gone. I’m so sorry--” She stopped, looking at her brother’s hand which were intertwined with a stranger’s. “Who’s this?”

Tanizaki smiled “I know I’ve been gone for a long time, but we escaped. We’re going to find a new place, together. Because this is my boyfriend, Michizou Tachihara. We don’t need a pre written story where abilities are sins. We’ll write our own stories, we’ll write our own future. We’ll write a world where abilities aren’t sin.”

“We’ll write a world within the words.”