A peaceful life, finally. Chuuya got a job with a fair salary from one of his sister’s acquaintance and Dazai never came into his place again. He came, honestly, knocked on Chuuya’s door a couple of times before it went silent. Around that time, he probably wanted to make sure whether he had already change the lock, that was what Chuuya thought. And he did.
Right after he got sober in the morning, he called people worked in the security company to help him change the lock before he went for his job interview. Somehow, he expected Dazai would come around that time, messing with them and by the time Chuuya got home, he would find Dazai there, sneered at his fruitless effort of getting rid of him. He got it wrong because his place was exactly just the way before he left. During his shops for dinner too, the company had called him to report that they had finished changing the lock and he had no worries for robbery or anything. Dazai kept his word.
Fortnight, more or less, had passed and Chuuya was finally could taste the joy of living alone. He neither had a sister who would constantly complain about trivial things and forbid him to buy pricey wine even though it was his own money nor a person who would barge inside his house asking for food and messed with him. He was completely free.
“Now that I have everything settled, maybe I should go out with Tachihara and the others. I gotta celebrate this freedom of mine!” Chuuya reached to his phone he had thrown on the sofa and called his friend whose invitation two weeks ago had been declined by him. Tachihara’s voice was ecstatic when Chuuya invited him out.
“Ask the others to come too.”
“Well, I’ll try. You know they don’t like a sudden invitation and you always invite us so sudden that the only person who could come is always me. Aren’t I a good friend?”
“Nah, you’re just unemployed.” Chuuya didn’t like planned meetings unless it was a formal occasion. He always believed that hanging out with friends would be best if it wasn’t planned. Though that resulted in none of them could be his company because they already had plans on their own or it was just Tachihara who would come, just like he said earlier.
“Usual place, then?”
“Yep. I’m going, now. If you’re late, I fucking leave and block your number.”
“You sound like an angry girlfriend. Are we dating all this time, Chuuya?”
“Get your homo ass outta here. I’m hanging up.”
“Aight, darling. See you later.”
Chuuya breathed a scoff as he threw back his phone bounced in the sofa. Tachihara was his closest friend ever since high school. Both of them were known as the school’s delinquents. He always looked like he would pick a fight with anybody who came near him and his way of speaking was naturally harsh that most other students were afraid of him. Upon knowing people’s discomfort with his existence around them, he would start to skip class and ate his lunch alone on the school roof. There he would finally meet with Tachihara. Cliché. On the contrary, Tachihara was indeed a delinquent. He always came to the roof with bruises and shed of blood on the edge of the lips. Even his appearance already told people off that you couldn’t mess with him. Lunch was no longer fun because Tachihara’s presence made him uneasy. What if people found out they were together in the roof and they would start to firmly believe the rumor of him as a delinquent? However, somewhere along the line, they finally became the best of friends and Chuuya had stopped caring for people’s opinions on him.
Old times story could always get people carried away and forgot about the time, like what Chuuya just did right now. He clicked his tongue as he hastily put on his black choker and a leather jacket while trotted his way to the front door. Tachihara could be a pain in the ass with his words if he ever gets to the said location before he did and Chuuya didn’t wanna make a scene with his violent nature. As the door swung open, he could hear a clicking sound along with an indistinct chatter—or maybe quarrel, next to him. Now, he just remembered that he hadn’t greet even one of his neighbors on the building, at least on this floor he lived in—none of them. Suddenly he got quite nervous and was starting to rehearse greetings and courtesy inside his head. When he finally stepped outside, he could see two guys bickering, one seemed to be very expressive and the other one was more levelheaded but his words were as sharp as the knife in Chuuya’s kitchen. They looked pretty young, he could guess, they probably were college students.
It might be better to not greet them on such an occasion. Chuuya quietly closed the door; didn’t want them to notice his existence, as of yet. However, as the door clicking shut, their bickerings abruptly evaporated through the air. He cursed under his breath that now he had to put the rehearsal in his head earlier into action. Before he breathed out his awkward greetings, one of those two guys with strange hair cut had shortened their distance and was being yelled the other one.
“Hello!” He greeted lively with such blinding smile, Chuuya had to hold the urge to put on imaginary sunglasses inside his head. He leered over the other guy who slowly loomed over towards this ball of sunshine and grabbed them by the nape.
“I just wanna greet our new neighbor. What is your problem?!”
“I know you’re not just wanna greet. Your officious nature is annoying.”
And they started bickering again, forgetting that Chuuya existed in front of them. They looked like an old couple and Chuuya didn’t want to get involved. He had to hurry to the shop before Tachihara, anyway.
“Listen, guys, it’s nice to meet you… but I gotta go!” Without even waiting for them to respond, Chuuya sprinted away from the scene. Yet somehow, he stopped midway, quite abruptly, then proceed to slowly turn around; caught the bickering ones’ attentions. When he was close enough to them, he paused for a while before walking past them and said,
“I just… I… forgot my bike key…”
“You ride a bike yet you’re so fucking late.”
“Shut up. I got caught up with some troublesome young couple which is also my neighbors.”
“Oh, oh… Is that why you look bitter? Because you are single?”
“You want me to break your fucking neck, Kajii?”
Chuuya took off his shoes and sat down with cheek rested on the palm. He looked around the table before he opened his mouth again, “Where’s Tachihara?”
“He said he will be late because… I forgot again… Higuchi?” Kajii rolled his eyes aside to the blonde who was busy with her phone, looked uninvested in the conversation.
“He’s picking up his boyfriend’s sister from cram school.”
Right, Tachihara got a boyfriend and had been dating since last year. The fact alone just made Chuuya bitter. He had been single for quite some time while people around him had been dating here and there. Higuchi got herself a girlfriend just a couple weeks ago. Even his sister already had a lover. The only friend who seemed uninterested in dating was Kajii. He was a special case, anyway. Chuuya could say that he had already married to science.
“Oh, what is her name again… Naomi?” Chuuya vaguely recalled a young girl with long black-haired and was kinda noisy around her brother. There was one time he witnessed her crying because she didn’t want his brother to go on a date with Tachihara. That time also, Chuuya was forced to accompany her for a day while both of them having their good time somewhere.
“Yeah, that one. A cute girl with a serious brother complex. Though I heard that little girl had finally taken a liking on Tachihara and has been quite clingy to him too.”
“Whoa, is it okay for you to call another girl cute when you are dating? Ah, if only she heard what you said…”
“Shut up, nerd. She’s cute, indeed. Gin wouldn’t mind.”
“Fuck. All this talk about lover just fucking pissed me off. Let’s just drink.”
“As long as you don’t order wine.”
“Seeing your condition right now, you should find yourself a sugar daddy that’ll flood your house with premium quality wine. Or else, you’ll spend most of your days with beer or sake.”
“As if finding one that easy. The only man ever came to my house is a lazy bum who probably don’t even shower.”
“Wow, what man? Never heard of this story.” An arm wrapped around Chuuya’s shoulder as their voices were loudly banged on his ear. When Chuuya turned his head around, he found a smug face of his best friend grinning close to him.
“Tachi! You finally came! And who’s that with you?”
“It’s Tanizaki, you idiot.”
After exchange greetings and finally ordered drinks and some meat as a company, they sat in round, eyes on Chuuya.
“So, who is the said man you’re about to tell us?”
“I didn’t know Chuuya stoop so low that his type now is someone like that. Both of you and your sister have really bad eyes on whose to date—ouch! Why did you hit me?!”
“I will hit you as I please if you keep running your mouth like that.” Chuuya gave another slap to Kajii’s head.
“He just wanna diss your sister’s girlfriend. You know how much Kajii and Yosano-san hate each other. Do you guys still remember when we hang out together and both of them were there? Nightmare!” Higuchi cackled as she finally put her phone down on the table.
“Really, my sister scold me because of this nerd. She said I shouldn’t befriend such foul-mouthed man when her lover’s mouth also stinks and looks like she’s ready to kick everyone in the crotch.”
“Well, somehow we can all agree that Kajii is a jerk.” Tachihara received profound nods from the other but the man himself.
“Anyway, enough talking about Kajii. What is it about that man?” Tachihara couldn’t hide his excitement on the story he would be disappointed about later.
Their orders finally came. They stopped their chatter for a while to pour sake on each glass and started to grill the meat. When everyone had already gulped down their first glasses, the conversation continued.
“He’s a nobody, really. Now he’s gone completely from my life and I’m so fucking happy.”
“Is he that bad?” Tanizaki decided to join in the conversation.
“Yeah. He kept harassing me for fucking days that I can’t sleep in peace! That motherfucker, just remembering his well-being makes me sick to the core!”
“Wow, he’s wild, ain’t he?” Again, they nod in harmony with strange expressions Chuuya couldn’t read.
“You must be tired, Chuuya-san…”
“Don’t worry about him, babe. Even though he’s small, his ex told me his sex drive is fucking wild!” Tachihara looked Chuuya in the eyes as he wiggling his eyebrows and grinning.
Chuuya abruptly yanked him by the collar. Higuchi and Kajii clinked their glass for another shot as they already get used of this sight while Tanizaki panicking on his own, “What does that have to do with my story, you dumb fuck?!”
“Because you did it? With the said lazy bum?”
“You know…” The tip of his thumb and index finger were tapped as he formed a circle and his other index finger were pushed through that hole, a vulgar sign for having sex, “…this.”
He grossed out immediately. The thought of him and Dazai doing that just made shivers running down his spine, also he wanted to puke.
“There is no way in fucking hell I would sacrifice my body to him!!!”
Higuchi and Kajii laughed till they teared up a bit.
“Sacrifice your body…”
“What kind of cult is he in?”
“Shut up, both of you!”
Suddenly, amidst the ruckus, the atmosphere around them was kind of chilly? Especially behind Tachihara. Kajii and Higuchi who sat across them were looking behind Tachihara’s back in horror as they shoved meat right into their mouths.
“Chuuya-san,” Tanizaki called out to him in such deep and intimidating voice as his hand extended then proceed to grip tight on Chuuya’s fist on Tachihara’s collar. He squeezed quite hard that Chuuya almost screaming in pain. Tachihara mouthed inaudible words, asking for Chuuya to let him go right away yet Chuuya was clueless enough to read his mouth that he just frowned while saying that Tachihara had made such funny faces.
Before Chuuya could ask anything to Tanizaki, his head popped out on his best friend’s shoulder with scary expression, making the other shivered like a cornered small animal.
“Dude, what is your problem? You hurting me?!”
“Then stop harassing Tachihara, you jerk. Or would you like to hear the sound of your bones crack under my palm?”
That day was the day they found out that Tanizaki was
maybe a psychopath in his past life.
After they finally settled down and Chuuya survived from having his bones shattered, Tachihara hit him gently in the head, “I told you to not pull that kind of thing again.”
“I… I’m just worried…”
“Chuuya would never hit me. It’s just one of his jokes.” Tachihara ruffled his boyfriend’s hair lovingly. Upon witnessing that before the eyes had brought Kajii to spill out the sake he couldn’t swallow in utter disgust to Higuchi’s cup while she was too fixated with her phone. Yet, she saw it from the corner of her eyes and she ended up being the violent one here.
“I’m sorry, Chuuya-san…” Embarrassed, Tanizaki looked at Chuuya’s hand in guilt. “It’s my first time having a boyfriend so things have always been awkward for me, hehe...”
HEHE, MY ASS! HOW IS THREATENING TO BREAK SOMEONE’S BONES CALLED BEING AWKWARD?THAT’S TWISTED!
Instead of screaming his mind from the top of his lungs, Chuuya just clicked his tongue and said that it was fine and Tanizaki needed to be careful from now on with that attitude. And he also gave Tachihara a meaningful look of do-not-ever-bring-your-boyfriend-on-our-gatherings-or-you-die.
“Okay, let’s just cut this shit out and ea… Where’s the fucking meat?”
Kajii answered to Chuuya as he rubbed his beaten cheeks, “You don’t look like you have the appetite, so both of us doing you guys a favor of cleaning it up.”
Chuuya squeezed his chopsticks he could break them in a half. He didn’t say anything but he was as scary as Tanizaki earlier. Yet contrast to Tanizaki’s dark and twisted aura, he was more like a raging hellfire ready to roast the sinners to crisp. Tachihara, on the other hand, was much more composed but look like he wasn’t going to stop Chuuya for going wild.
“Yes.” He answered politely like he was an underling for a mafia boss.
“Hold my fucking chopsticks.”
The clueless Kajii who had finally sensed an upcoming series called ‘Got Beaten 2: Barely Alive’ with him as the MC would then stuttered his way to bargain for his life.
“L-let us just go to the second round... It’s on me!!”
Chuuya, who had already reached his neck, stopped himself from squeezing as he immediately turned his face to Tachihara and yelled, “You heard him!”
And that was the story of how Kajii lost half of this month’s salary.
When Chuuya got home, it was almost two in the morning and he was way too tipsy that his friends worried his face would make to the headline newspaper this morning. But fortunately, he made it to his apartment floor alive. If not for the support of the wall he leaned in, he could barely stand. As he slowly stomped his feet on the ground, he could hear steps ahead of him, coming closer and closer until it stopped right in front of him.
“You reek of alcohol.”
He could vaguely remember hearing this voice somewhere before, but nothing came to his mind when he tried to recall the face of this voice owner. Chuuya had tried to lift his head but it felt too heavy and he gave up already.
“If you wanna help me, just say so. You’re in the fucking way.”
Chuuya could hear him sigh loudly and it kind of pissed Chuuya off. What was his problem?
“I have to deal with your boyfriend every night, now I have to deal with you too.”
Chuuya’s head was getting heavier the more he stands. He could just brush him off but the talk about boyfriend just itched his mind.
“…Boyfriend? What boyfriend…?” Even his mind was not as clear as a day in summer, he knew damn well he had no boyfriend on his possession. Had he mistaken him for someone else?
That man clicked his tongue as he grabbed Chuuya by the arm and kind of dragged him along with him.
“Where are you going to take me…?”
“Both of you drunkard adult is not good for Atsushi. If he ever grew up like you, I’m going to beat your ass up.”
Chuuya slurred cynically, “Heh! Who is Atsushi? Your little brother? Ugh… another brocon!”
“Watch your fucking mouth.”
“Stop dragging me along… it hurts! Be gentle with me!!” Chuuya whined and he slowly leaned into the man’s shoulder, needed support for his heavy head. The man pushed his head with only his finger but whenever he pulled his finger away, Chuuya would let his head fell to his shoulder again. They finally stopped walking and Chuuya could hear a beeping sound followed by a click in front of him as his blurry vision pictured a door he was familiar with.
“How do you know the password to my place… Who are you?”
Yet before the man could answer, Chuuya had called him with the only name he could think of.
“This drunkard… Oi, Atsushi!” The black-haired man with white shade on the tip dragged Chuuya inside while keeping the cranky and unfriendly expression.
“Akutagawa, where have—oh, my God! What are you doing to him?! Let him go! Let him go!” The young man called Atsushi shrieked in panic and just added the creases in his forehead.
“As you wish.” He let go his grip on Chuuya’s arm and he fell after his head bumped into the wall beside him. Instead of crying in pain, they could hear him snoring softly.
“Why did you let him go!?? Mister, I’m so sorry… are you okay?” Akutagawa switched position with Atsushi as he changed his shoes to the slipper and went inside while Atsushi approaching the poor Chuuya who had almost lying on the ground.
“Akutagawa… This is our neighbor!!”
“I know. I bought cigs and was smoking for a bit right outside our door when I found him on that state.”
“You told me you only go out to breathe some fresh air! Don’t you remember how bad your cough last week?!”
“Stop nagging. Even my sister isn’t as loud as you. How about the other one?”
“He’s already falling asleep on my futon.”
Akutagawa face tensed when he heard Atsushi casual answer, “On your what?”
“On my futon. Guess I have to sleep on the sofa today.”
“I told you to just let him sleep on the floor.”
“I can’t let that happen. Why are you so mean, even to our neighbor! Come help me carry him to the sofa!”
“Carry him yourself since you’re so kind enough to let another man sleep in your futon. I’m reek of alcohol too because of him, it’s disgusting. I’m going to go shower.”
“Akutagawa, wait! He’s heavy! Akutagawa~!”
Chuuya woke up the next morning with a headache, his surroundings were spinning around annoyingly and painfully that it was hard for him to fully open his eyes. He massaged his temple as he sat up and trying to get used to the position when he finally realized something.
This wasn’t his room!
As he was trying to find a clue from this room, his hand accidentally landed on a pile beside him. Startled, he immediately pulled his hand to his chest and looked on the pile with such frantic eyes as he quick to know that this pile was a person. He couldn’t see his face because he had covered his whole body with a blanket, though he could see strands of brunette sticking out. His very wild guess about this sight was he probably drunk enough to invite someone to sleep with him, though Chuuya didn’t feel any sharp, stinging pain around his hips or even on his ass. Another wild guess he deduced was he probably the one shoved it up the ass. He breathed in and out, trying to calm himself so he could recall something, anything, out of his mind. His memories of last night kind of hazy but it had shown him the fact he was already in his apartment building. Thereafter was tricky, it was a complete mess and Chuuya couldn’t pinpoint who was the pile beside him. He could remember someone tried to talk to him, he just couldn’t remember what kind of conversation he had with him and what was his face like. He closed his eyes and forced his head to jog the memory of last night.
“Dazai…?” He could hear his voice when one of the fragments of his memories came to the picture. The name that wasn’t supposed to exist in his life anymore was leaving his mouth last night. His head turned slowly to the heap beside him, kind of doubtful. But seeing the color of the sticking out brunette under the blanket, it reminded him of that man hair color. He could be mistaken, yet if he indeed were, why he had to call out Dazai’s name? Moreover, whose place is this?
Before Chuuya could weight his head with thoughts and possibilities, the door clicked open. Chuuya almost jumped from his futon like a startled cat.
“You sure are energetic after troubling us last night, Nakahara-san.”
Akutagawa looked bitter and kind of tired contrast to the fresh white apron with embroidery of a cute white tiger head he donned. Chuuya’s pair of blues widened, he recognized this guy. One of his neighbor who was most likely living with the white-haired nice guy since he saw both of them went out from the same place together yesterday.
“Wha… What did I—”
A rustling noise beside him caught his attention before he could even finish his sentence. The blanket slowly tugged down and revealed what was inside. Chuuya finally could see his face and swear to God, Chuuya just wanted to scream his lungs out while beating the hell up off the man next to him.
“Good morning, Akutagawa-ku…n—Chuuya?”