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“Stop that.”

Ranpo is sprawled out over his desk, pouting in Dazai’s direction. It’s still early in the morning after a hard mission the day before, and no one else is in the office; even Kunikida, quite possibly the hardest worker Dazai knows, is in late today after mandatory bedrest demanded from Yosano.

Dazai feels bruises against the lines of his ribs, the looming threat of a migraine behind his eyes. It’s the morning after a failed mission; Fyodor outplayed them again.

“Stop what, Ranpo-san?”


“Stop using your ability on me, then.” Dazai feels his lips curl up at the edges, despite it all.

“I’m nosey, Dazai. But you’re giving me too much information.”

There’s a sense of unease that Dazai can’t shake as he stares at Ranpo, goosebumps prickling on his arms. Ranpo has a tendency to drop cryptic knowledge when Dazai least expects it, often times revealing things that he doesn’t want to admit out loud. He suddenly intimately remembers Ranpo’s skepticism when Dazai first joined the ADA; he understood Dazai’s unspoken fear that he will never be able to save anyone other than himself.

He’s curious how much that initial analysis has changed, now.

“This is weird,” Ranpo says, almost to himself. “You’re scared.”

Dazai smiles and keeps his heart rate steady.

“While I appreciate the advice, Ranpo-san,” Dazai starts, his voice light and airy despite the obvious threat behind it, “I don’t need you to tell me that.”

Ranpo’s eyes harden. He’s honest in the strangest of ways.

“The Port Mafia had trouble yesterday,” Ranpo says, changing the subject as quickly as it started. “Large number wounded.”


“You don’t want to know.”

Something like fear burns at the base of Dazai’s throat. Years ago he doesn’t remember caring about numbers beyond the occasional high of his plans succeeding, but now—

“Have you seen him yet?” Ranpo says. The implication of who he’s talking about is obvious.

Chuuya takes every loss of life under him as though it were his own. It’s something he’s never shaken: he holds everything near and dear to his heart, and Dazai remembers thinking of it as silly, years ago.

“Chuuya can take care of himself,” Dazai says, the words heavy in his mouth.

“Of course,” Ranpo shrugs, and Dazai resists the urge to scowl in irritation. “He sure can beat you in a fight.”

There’s a cut on Ranpo’s cheek. Dazai notices how he winces, just slightly, whenever he talks. He feels the own aches in his body like a constant throbbing pain, and imagines the warmth of Chuuya’s palms against the soreness in his neck. A year ago he never would have imagined craving the physical presence of anyone other than Odasaku.

Feeling comfort around anyone is something he’s still getting used to.

“He can,” Dazai muses, “and has. Physically.”

“You’re a sore loser.”

“I am.”

Ranpo laughs, kicking his feet up against the desk. He’s silent for a few moments before he speaks again.

“When we fail,” Ranpo starts, and his eyes sharpen to razor-like focus, “people die.”

“People always die.”

“Not like this.”

Dazai leans back in his chair, half expecting to see Chuuya standing by the door. He’s met with further silence and the sound of wind chimes from outside.

“We’re both responsible for that,” Ranpo continues.

“Are you apologizing to me?” Dazai muses, holding Ranpo’s stare with ease. “For your plan not going as expected?”

“No.” Ranpo pauses, then sighs. “Yes. Because—”

Because so many of Chuuya’s subordinates died. It’s unspoken in how Ranpo cuts himself off, but Dazai hears the end of the sentence and wonders if it’s possible for someone like him to feel any sense of longing.

His chest burns. Dazai doesn’t know how Chuuya can feel so much sentimentality and care towards those under him. It seems more painful than it’s worth.

“He doesn’t think of it that way. He knows the line of work we’re in,” Dazai says. He isn’t sure if the words are reassuring or a mere statement of the obvious.

“So do you.” Ranpo’s eyes close as he leans on his desk, the only clear indication of his exhaustion. He yawns into an open hand.

Despite his ruthless detective brain, Ranpo can be oddly cute, Dazai thinks.

“It’s rare to see you wanting to do work, Ranpo-san,” Dazai drawls, changing the subject again. “Are you making up for something?”

“Stop stating the obvious. You’re here, too.” Ranpo’s voice is a half-whine, and Dazai bites back laughter.

“I’ll admit it,” Dazai hums. He strolls over to Ranpo’s desk and places his hands on the wood, watching as Ranpo’s drowsy eyes meet his own. There’s a sense of understanding there that Dazai never thought he would find in someone other than Chuuya, than Odasaku, but—

“Let’s go get some crepes,” Dazai finally says, barely holding back a smile when Ranpo’s expression perks up.

“Fine. But you’re paying!” Ranpo near jumps out of his seat.

Ranpo’s faux nonchalance fools no one, but it’s endearing to see regardless.

“My treat, Ranpo-san,” Dazai grins.

He follows behind Ranpo as they walk out the door.






(“Have you ever loved something, Odasaku?”

“Don’t you mean someone?”

Dazai huffs out a breath, rubbing at condensation between his fingers. For a moment the only sound in the air is the whiskey ball against the sides of his glass.

“Where is this question coming from?” Odasaku muses. His cheeks are flushed from alcohol; they’ve been here longer than usual today.

“Just wondering,” Dazai singsongs. “Since you’re so mysterious.”

Odasaku laughs. Dazai savors the sound.

“I have, Dazai.” Odasaku’s low voice demands attention, and Dazai finds himself staring back, wishing, hopeful. “I think it’s wonderful.”


Odasaku bleeds out in Dazai’s arms six months later. His memories of Odasaku often feel fragmented, broken off into single words or sentences—but he remembers the way Odasaku laughs that day like a brand against his chest.)






Dazai’s feet take him to Chuuya’s apartment with a melting ice cream crepe in his hand. It’s sticky against his palms and he regrets the decision, frowning as it barely misses his shoes every time it drips off his fingers. It’s Ranpo’s idea initially, followed with a cheeky smile that Dazai doesn’t trust but follows anyways—a loud get one for your boyfriend, too, that you love so much.

Ranpo’s loud snort at Dazai’s resulting scowl sticks with him as he walks, the heat of the afternoon sun burning the back of his neck despite the bandages. He can’t quite stop the shivers that run down his spine whenever Ranpo teases about the depth of Dazai’s affection, but the ease at which he discusses it helps some of the paranoia.

Being in denial externally only partially helps him ignore what already exists. He knows the lengths to which Chuuya tries to hide whatever intentions he has towards their relationship, towards Dazai. He closes his eyes and imagines pressing his palms against Chuuya’s chest and feeling his heartbeat, sticky fingers and all, and wonders if he deserves to know the truth of how Chuuya feels about him.

There are few things Dazai thinks he could possibly wish for more.

It’s been a few days of no contact for either of them—not a text, not a call, not a sound. Ranpo’s plan did not dictate Chuuya and Dazai’s cooperation, and as such Chuuya stayed more securely with other members of the Port Mafia. The news of casualties came later, after their front lines had been broken.

Chuuya’s subordinates were the first to go down.

Nausea is a feeling Dazai finds himself growing accustomed to.

Knocking on Chuuya’s door lasts an eternity. With each second that passes it only reaffirms that he’s not meant to support anyone but himself, and he feels silly, all of a sudden, for letting himself get caught up in Ranpo’s game—


Dazai’s breath catches in his throat.

There’s a cut that matches Ranpo’s on Chuuya’s cheek, scabbed over and pink as it heals. A bruise on his collarbone. A messy head of hair thrown into a bun. He’s as dressed down as Dazai ever sees him—a simple white shirt and sweatpants.

His entire body aches.

“Hi, Chuuya,” Dazai says. He keeps his voice light and airy, painfully ignorant.

“You knocked,” Chuuya says warily. His eyes roam down Dazai’s body, checking for injuries, before stopping at the melted crepe in his hands. “You brought me something?”

“Your sweet tooth,” Dazai says, holding it up between them. “I figured it needed appeasing.”

Amusement dances across Chuuya’s expression.

“It’s half melted.”

“It’s hot today.”

Chuuya looks back up at Dazai, a hand coming to rest on his cheek. Dazai leans into it without thinking, and Chuuya resulting smile is so gentle Dazai’s heart flutters in his chest.

“Is this your way of bringing flowers to the sick?”

“I have brought flowers to a hospital before, Chuuya. Do you want it or not?”

Chuuya clicks his tongue.

“Give me the crepe.”

Dazai watches Chuuya take the crepe out of his hands and bite into it, shoulders relaxing. Gentle sunlight filters in low behind him, lighting up every golden strand of Chuuya’s hair.


The way Chuuya’s gaze slides back to him is one that makes him dizzy every time — complete and undivided attention. Even as they walk into Chuuya’s apartment, his body language is entirely focused in on Dazai’s words.

“Will you go on a date with me?”

Chuuya raises an eyebrow. Melted ice cream sticks to the red of his lips, threatening to drip down his chin. It catches on another cut by his jaw, and he flinches, bringing the back of his hand up to wipe it away.

“A date.” There’s dark circles under Chuuya’s eyes, but they still look bright, almost excited — Dazai belatedly realizes it’s because of him. “Now?”

“If you’re free.”

“Do I look busy?”

“With the crepe, yes.”

Chuuya hides a smile behind his hands before taking another bite. It’s more than halfway finished already; Dazai had guessed Chuuya’s favorite flavors and toppings correctly after all. Chuuya being a romantic is to be expected, but the full length of it Dazai did not anticipate.

It would be easy for both of them to ignore what happened, but—

“You’ve been inside for days now, right?” Dazai mutters, watching how Chuuya’s back tenses at his words. “I’m—”

“Don’t apologize.” Chuuya’s voice cuts him off, firm even as his hands shake. “There’s nothing to say.”

“I wasn’t going to.” Dazai holds up his hands, smiling. He knows as well as Chuuya does that an apology won’t bring back the dead. “Just was asking about the date.”

Chuuya finishes off the last of the crepe silently, rocking back and forth on his heels.

“Since when do you know anything about taking someone on a date?”

“It’s been months, Chuuya. I think I know how to take you out to dinner.”

Chuuya looks at him in suspicion. Dazai thinks of Ranpo’s words: for the boyfriend you love so much. His next inhale gets caught in his throat.

“Fine. Where?”

“I was thinking a short cruise,” Dazai smiles. “I managed to acquire a boat.”

“If you stole it from us, I’ll kill you.”

“It’s just a small fishing boat, Chuuya.”

“You’re not denying it.” Despite Chuuya’s snappiness, he’s already pacing towards his room to change. “Maybe I’ll just drown you.”

“You’d be sad without my charm constantly around.”

Chuuya peeks his head out from his room. There’s red high on his cheekbones, and Dazai blinks once in surprise.

“Yeah,” Chuuya says. And then, with a little grin: “I would.”

Chuuya laughs as Dazai stares in stunned silence.






They’re at the docks an hour later.

It’s barely big enough for the two of them, but it’s enough of what Dazai was going for. Chuuya gingerly steps onto the boat and Dazai only hopes that it doesn’t break from both their weight as he starts the motor, leading them out past the harbor and into open waters. The ocean is calm, lapping against the boat and rocking it gently from side to side.

As they move Chuuya stares out at a fixed point past Dazai, quiet and introspective in a way that he hasn’t seen before. He doesn’t look unhappy, or discontent, but Dazai can’t get a good enough read on his expression. By the time he turns off the motor Chuuya hasn’t said a word.

“In awe?” Dazai jokes.

Chuuya turns to look at him, and Dazai feels his cheeks flood with color.

This, in and of itself, is new: the open, trusting splay of Chuuya’s hands in his lap, palms turned up and relaxed, a gentle smile on his face now that he’s met Dazai’s gaze. Dazai moves away from the motor and towards Chuuya on instinct, sitting across from him; Chuuya reaches out pulls Dazai’s hands into his. Dazai runs a thumb up and down the black cloth there and he feels the hitch in Chuuya’s breath like his own when he pulls each glove off finger by finger.

“Only a little,” Chuuya admits; a shiver runs through his frame as Dazai brings a hand to his mouth, lightly kissing the top of his knuckles. “I wasn’t expecting to see you today.”

The relief in Chuuya’s voice is palpable.

Something in Dazai snaps. It bubbles up into his throat, overwhelming him in an instant. Something that he knows to exist yet has never felt himself; something that only has one name.

Dazai thinks, painfully, hysterically, all at once: I love you. I love you. I’ll burst.

The weight of it on his chest feels like a dam suddenly surging open, rushing to fill a spot once empty.

There are scars on the tips of Chuuya’s fingers, soft and delicate, and Dazai can trace all of them to a shared memory. He can’t look up. He can’t. Chuuya’s gaze feels heavy as it bores into him; goosebumps rise on his forearms, and Dazai’s tongue feels as though it’s held down by a weight, dry and tied in knots.

He wonders if it’s easier to say nothing than face the fear of laying your heart out to someone, pulse to pulse, chest to chest. Every breath he takes feels painful, constricting, as though the words want to jump straight from his mouth without his own consent. The desperate desire to chain it down feels overwhelming. Like ice in his veins.

It’s Chuuya that shifts and curls a finger under Dazai’s chin, Chuuya that forces his gaze up; he cracks open piece by piece. Chuuya’s eyes are warm and open. He wonders what Chuuya sees in his expression, because he smiles, vaguely amused.

“It’s weird to see you panic about anything,” Chuuya says, strangely all-knowing. “Dazai.”

His name on Chuuya’s lips makes his stomach squirm; he holds a steady gaze, knowing Chuuya isn’t fooled but feeling more comfortable with the pretense regardless.

“Does it look that way?” Dazai jokes, and he’s met with an eye roll so familiar he can’t help the small laugh that bubbles up from his throat.

He wishes desperately to be able to display everything as clearly and unashamedly as Chuuya does.

“It’s pretty nice to know you’re bad at something,” Chuuya grins, not helping the heat already present on Dazai’s cheeks. “Whatever it is you’re struggling with.”

Their boat turns lightly on the water against the current. In the distance he hears the sound of cars and people, of Yokohama, their city, as it fades into a gentle buzz in his ears. Chuuya won’t push Dazai any further than he will give, he knows, not after the lingering guilt he likely feels from asking about Odasaku. It’s more concern than he deserves.

Chuuya pulls him closer, demanding, until their lips fall together. Dazai chases the faint taste of red wine on his tongue and the heat of his mouth, the way Chuuya hums in response when he sucks on his bottom lip. Dazai feels as though he can drown in it. A hand comes up to tug at Dazai’s hair, skin prickling on his scalp.

Dazai wonders if love is always supposed to feel this way, like a fire in his fingertips and at the base of his heart. As overwhelming and painful as it is impossible to ignore.

It almost feels like guilt, he thinks. Love is not something people like him should ever feel.

I’m sorry, Dazai wants to say. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

His palm sting as though they’ve been burned.

Chuuya’s hand is warm on the back of his neck, and for a moment all Dazai thinks of is Chuuya’s tongue sliding against his own, Chuuya’s body insistently pushing closer. The boat rocks as their weight shifts, and Dazai’s arm flails out to stable them, gripping at the side.


“Don’t leave.”

It’s said so quickly Dazai thinks he misses it. He pulls away as Chuuya chases his mouth, worry and fear clear in the twist of his lips, reaching for Dazai to avoid admitting it again. Dazai lets him, just for a moment, worry of his own settling low in his stomach.

Chuuya kisses him, open and wanting, and Dazai fights the fear threatening to drown him.

“Chuuya,” Dazai pulls away as he says it again, holding Chuuya’s face between his hands.

Chuuya’s shoulders tense, so visibly uncomfortable that Dazai almost lets Chuuya have his way.


He thinks of Chuuya against the skyline of Yokohama, of Chuuya at fifteen arguing with him over video games, of Chuuya at eighteen grinning on a new motorcycle, of Chuuya at twenty-two, wild brashness still so prominent in his every action, of Chuuya now, staring at him with uncertainty. Dazai knows he is not an honest man, but it suddenly doesn’t feel worth it to hold anything on the tip of his tongue anymore.

“I think I love you,” he says, before he can regret it, before he can take it back, whispered so softly he can barely hear his own words.

Chuuya’s eyes widen, and for a split moment Dazai thinks he stops breathing. The silence stretches across the water, deafening.

Dazai feels a desperate wish bubble up in his throat: the desire to take it back. To lie.

“Don’t say that,” he starts; his voice breaks at the end. “Don’t say things you don’t mean. Don’t fuck with me.”

“I’m not lying,” Dazai says; he’s lost track of how many times he’s had to reassure Chuuya like this.

“You—“ Chuuya says; his face is pained, contorted as though Dazai has slapped him. “Since when?”

“For a while,” he says; when he reaches a hand out, Chuuya flinches away on instinct. “You don’t believe me?”

“I know you’re serious, unfortunately,” Chuuya spits out, looking away across the water. Every time he taps his foot the boat creaks, and for a brief second Dazai thinks that the date might end with both of them in the water. “I just—”

Chuuya turns back to Dazai; Dazai only sees discomfort and fear reflected back at him. Chuuya has always been open and honest, but the pain, the confusion, Dazai hadn’t been expecting. It doesn’t feel like an outright rejection, but painfully close to one.

“I need time,” Chuuya settles on, but his shoulders are still stiff, hands a second from snapping off a part of the side of the boat.

“For what?” Dazai asks. He keeps his voice light, even as a heavier weight settles on his chest.

“To say it back. I don’t know, Dazai.”

“I thought you said you wanted to try.”

“This is different, and you know it.”

Dazai struggles to sit still, feeling as though he’s chucked out a secret for the world to see; he thinks of every way he can turn this around as a joke, a silly ploy just to see Chuuya’s reaction, but he knows the outcome of each. Chuuya would leave, this time. He’d leave and never come back.

Second chances only matter when they’re honored. Chuuya has given him so much more than just two.

Chuuya watches the gears in Dazai’s head turn with interest. Some of the irritation fades from his expression. Even when he can predict it, Dazai thinks he’ll never quite be able to keep up with the twists and turns of Chuuya’s anger.

“I know you’re impatient,” Chuuya says, and there’s an edge of fondness to his voice despite it all.

“You know how patient I am.” Dazai doesn’t pout, but he knows the frown on his face is dangerously close to one.

“Not with this.”

When Dazai meets Chuuya’s eyes, they’re calm and understanding.

Dazai wonders if Chuuya has ever loved someone before, if he’s already whispered it against someone’s lips, promising to be at their side. Ugly jealousy twists in his stomach, even as he feels childish for wanting to be the first.

Wishing for things only prompts their end. Still, he wants —

“Did I ruin the date?” he asks, forcing himself to smile.

The tense line of Chuuya’s shoulders relax as he breathes out a laugh, eyes softening at the edges. It’s a look Dazai sees more and more lately, a sign of Chuuya’s never-ending affection.

“You just surprised me,” Chuuya muses, and he holds out his palms face-up, a metaphorical white flag, “as you always do.”

“I’d hate to be boring.” Dazai places his hands in Chuuya’s. Without his gloves, he can feel every callous, every scar, warm against his palms. “You’d get tired of me.”

“I already hate you.”

“Should I surprise you more often?” Dazai can’t help but shoot Chuuya a cheeky grin.

Chuuya rolls his eyes; Dazai bites back a laugh.

“Since you love me,” Chuuya says, and Dazai feels his cheeks heat up, “how about you show me just how much?”

“That’s dirty, Chuuya,” Dazai says. He can’t help but look away.

“Maybe a little.” Chuuya’s resulting smile is wicked, the kind he only shows when he knows he has a leg up. An advantage.

Chuuya leans forward, and Dazai’s eyes cross over in an attempt to keep him in focus. Chuuya’s breath feels hot against his lips, slightly parted in anticipation.

“It wasn’t a bad date at all,” Chuuya mutters.

Dazai leans forward, and Chuuya meets him halfway.






They make it to Chuuya’s apartment dryer than Dazai originally thinks, but Chuuya nearly gives him concussion number two when he shoves him against the couch.

Chuuya doesn’t have much height to use, but he finds ways to settle between Dazai’s open legs, pressing him into the loveseat to kiss down the line of his jaw. It’s exploratory in a way that Chuuya hasn’t allowed himself to be, and Dazai’s afraid to move lest he break whatever mood Chuuya is in. His breathing comes out shallower than he intends.

Dazai knows when he’s being played with, but he still shivers when Chuuya rolls his hips forward, grinding against the front of his slacks. He’s half hard and Chuuya has done little more than hover above him, alternating between hard and soft kisses. It takes every ounce of determination to keep his hands fisted against his sides. He wants to grip the back of Chuuya’s hair and tug, to mark up the long line of his throat underneath the choker—

“Why are you sitting still?” Chuuya whispers.

Goosebumps rise on his arms as Chuuya lightly bites at a spot beneath his ear, worrying the skin between his teeth.

“I’m not,” Dazai lies. Keep going, he wants to say.

Chuuya hums and sits back, staring down at him. He rests directly on the bulge in Dazai’s pants, and his breath hisses out between his teeth. Giving Chuuya too much ammo is dangerous, and Dazai knows that they’re quickly rushing into something he won’t be able to take back.

“You’re holding back.” Chuuya eyes narrow in a challenge as he grinds down, harder this time.

“You seemed to be enjoying yourself,” Dazai gasps.

“I think you just like me on top of you,” Chuuya shoots back.

Cocky asshole. Dazai lets his hands fall to Chuuya’s hips; he curls them underneath Chuuya’s button down and digs his fingers into the skin there. Chuuya’s eyes flutter shut at the pressure. There’s no trace of hesitation on his expression, even when before Chuuya always seemed to hold back, ready to bolt before their kissing went any further.

The sudden change of heart is normal for someone as emotionally driven and stubborn as Chuuya, Dazai figures. He knows that Chuuya’s aversion to sex likely came from expecting Dazai to be flighty; expecting him to be the sort of person who achieves a conquest and leaves.

He’s not entirely wrong.

Don’t leave, Chuuya had said. An instinctive plea.

“Did you like it,” Dazai starts, and Chuuya’s eyes slowly open as he meets his gaze, “when I told you?”

“When you told me what?”

Dazai watches the conflict in Chuuya’s expression settle into the clench of his jaw.

“That I lo—”

Chuuya crushes Dazai’s mouth against his. He rocks his hips again, popping open the buttons of Dazai’s slacks, and Dazai groans into the air between their lips, tension settling low in his back. He’s more keyed up than he cares to admit.

“Shut up,” Chuuya breathes out, and he presses a hand against Dazai’s clothed erection, lightly rubbing at the wet spot on the front of his slacks. “Shut up.”

“Is that why you’re willing to have sex with me now?” Dazai says.

Chuuya pulls down the front of Dazai’s briefs and strokes him once, tight and heavy in his fist. A choked-off moan leaves his mouth, loud in the silence.

“I told you,” Chuuya says, and there’s the obvious layer of a threat in his voice, “to shut up.”

“Cruel,” Dazai whispers. He meets Chuuya’s eyes and promptly wishes he had looked away; black stares back at him, and a desperation he doesn’t know how to place. “You’re cruel.”

“Don’t use it as a tool,” Chuuya snarls, swiping a finger over the head of Dazai’s cock, smearing precome down the sides. Dazai’s chest heaves with effort. “Don’t use it just to get what you want—”

“You assume so little of me,” he breathes. His fingers dip below the waistband of Chuuya’s pants, watching the shudder that runs through his frame when his thumbs press into the V of Chuuya’s hipbone. “Is that not exactly what you did before? What you’re doing now?”

Chuuya’s hand pauses. Dazai’s so hard he’s having trouble focusing on their conversation; he bites back a whimper when Chuuya pulls away.

“You don’t want to hear it?” Dazai murmurs.

“I do.” His face is pained. “Fuck, that’s the problem, I do—”

He rests his head in his hands, leaning back against Dazai’s thighs. His breathing is ragged. There are goosebumps along his arms. Dazai doesn’t think he’s ever wanted anything more.

“I want to hear it,” Chuuya says again, just as broken as the first.

“Chuuya,” Dazai whispers. “I love you.”

Chuuya’s lip wobbles, biting down on it after a few seconds. It’s an expression Dazai’s never seen before.

“Fuck you,” Chuuya chokes out. His eyes are a little watery, and he angrily blinks a few times.

Heat rises into Dazai’s cheeks at the reaction. Part of his brain reminds him that he should feel some sense of embarrassment at the situation — Chuuya in his lap, his own erection out and red and flushed, but he only feels want curled tight in his belly.

Dazai smiles up at him as he unzips the front of Chuuya’s pants, sliding his hand further between his thighs. He feels slick warmth on his palm when Chuuya grabs his wrist, eyes narrowing as he grips it hard enough for Dazai’s pulse to spasm against his fingers. His chest is heaving, pupils blown wide.

He drinks in the sight. He doubts Chuuya has ever looked so enticing before, or so determined to hold Dazai back. The smell of salt, of coconut, of warmth—they fill his nose as Chuuya leans down to press his lips against Dazai’s again, breaking the kiss only to shimmy out of his pants, rolling his hips forward, gasping into his mouth.

“Chuuya,” Dazai says when Chuuya sinks onto him, a quiet groan leaving his mouth. “Chuuya.”

His palms burn with pain as though they’ve been crushed. Chuuya moves and he feels every breath like a weight in his lungs, shuddering and digging a hand around Chuuya’s hip. He doesn’t know where to focus first—the slight curl of Chuuya’s lips into a smile, the flush down his chest next to the scars, the marks on his thighs from where Dazai’s fingers press into them.

Part of him feels undeserving. Chuuya kisses him and he feels his heart break and shatter. Chuuya touches the side of his face as he rises up and down and he feels nothing but fear that this will somehow be taken from him. Chuuya’s movements flare up pain that he thought he buried long ago in a grave by the sea.

“Dazai,” Chuuya all but moans, and Dazai’s eyes snap back up to his face, “stop thinking.”

Dazai lets out a choked-off laugh as Chuuya spasms around him, wondering not for the first time if loving anyone should feel like heartbreak—wondering if Odasaku lied. He feels heat rush down his spine one final time and tension bleed out from between his thighs, cramping from the awkward position on the couch. Chuuya does nothing but watch him the entire time, fingers interlaced with his.

He’s lucky, he knows. So incredibly lucky.

Through it all, Chuuya whispers: “I’m here, Dazai.”

Sex to Chuuya must be a promise, Dazai realizes. Chuuya pants into his ear as he slides off his lap, shivering from the sudden chill, but he doesn’t make a movement to do anything more than tuck his head under Dazai’s chin until his breathing slows.

“Stay,” Chuuya murmurs. And then again, with more force: “stay.”

“Where would I go?” Dazai laughs. Chuuya’s weight becomes a grounding effect as his head clears.

“Somewhere,” Chuuya continues. “Like you always do.”

“Did you think I would leave?”

Chuuya doesn’t answer right away, leaving Dazai in silence. For a moment he wonders if Chuuya’s fallen asleep.

“Not anymore,” Chuuya whispers into Dazai’s collarbone. It feels and sounds like a secret.

Dazai wraps his arms around Chuuya, squeezing him a little tighter. He rarely finds himself thankful for things, but the warmth in his chest almost makes up for the desperate fear that tugged at his heart not fifteen minutes ago.

He can wait for Chuuya to feel safe enough to return his simple I love you.

They’re in no rush, after all.

Dazai feels Chuuya press his lips against his throat, tugged up into a smile, and lets go of some of the pain, the heartbreak, and the lingering fear. Feels acceptance instead wash over him like morning sunlight.

“I’m here, Chuuya,” Dazai repeats back to him. “I’m here as long as you want me.”