There was once upon a time when Akutagawa went to Uzumaki café to deal with paperwork. Normally, these were the things he would've dealt at home but he followed the idea that if he had time to leisure in a café, he had time to do work.
Then a beautiful young boy asked him if he could join him. Akutagawa said that the young boy could, as much as he was afraid that this boy would wreak havoc and disturb him.
Turned out, the boy was a quiet and very polite person. One that had a penchant for sweet things and sugar cubes. It may look odd from the normal eye when this boy added four sugar cubes into the coffee.
He thought he was being subtle about it but Akutagawa counted. There were at least three sugar cubes inside the silver-haired boy's coffee. And Akutagawa wasn't afraid to say he was the same.
When he finally noticed Akutagawa was observing, the young boy became bashful, cheeks slowly becoming pink.
"Ah, I'm sorry," the young boy said. "I grew up in an environment where sugar was hard to come by..."
Akutagawa was silently looking at the young boy, then unexpectedly, he opened his mouth; "From an
The young boy looked surprised. "How did you know?"
"You have a unique aura. The excessive focus on other people's actions, keeping a distance with the pretext that you will be alienated..." Akutagawa began, "It's a similar environment to the one I grew up in. I've frequently seen people who escaped from orphanages."
"Is that so?" the young boy smiled sadly. It was the smile of someone dragging his past along with him. He then peered into his cup of coffee. "I did not dare to escape."
Oh, so Akutagawa was wrong about this one.
"For a very long time," the young boy paused for a few seconds, "even now when I understand that I can have as much sugar as I want, my body
Silence again. Then followed by a sigh and a sad smile from the young boy. "I'm sure I'll be like this for the rest of my life."
For a while, Akutagawa observed the young boy silently. He noticed how this young boy, wasn't much less like him.
Out of the blue, Akutagawa raised the cup he was holding, and said nonchalantly; "My houji tea... there are four in it."
The young boy's eyes widened. "Sugar cubes? In the tea? Four?"
"Yeah," Akutagawa sipped his drink without any expression. "It's the same as you. A remnant from when sugar was rare."
The young boy looked at Akutagawa for a moment, but he quickly couldn't hold it back, and he burst into laughter. A very light, loud sound yet somehow, knowing it came from this young boy, it felt warm and bright.
When the young boy laughed, he instantly looked even younger than what assumed age he was supposed to be. The moment he stopped, with a sincere kind smile, the young boy asked; "Then, do you know that? The fight for pencils and notebooks."
This battle, Akutagawa knew very well.
"Without question. The ordinary person cannot understand that there was more competition for pencils and notebooks than even meat and sugar." Akutagawa said, placing his cup on the table. Sugar was seen to be a privilege back then, for pencils and notebooks to top it over showed how great of a deal it was.
"Since it was only when we write on paper that we become the freest people in the world. We fought for them," Akutagawa explained, "Even toddlers who couldn't write wanted them without understanding why."
The young boy was still smiling, bright as ever. Akutagawa felt it was his turn to ask questions.
"Then, you know chocolate bars?" He asked the young boy.
"Of course. Currency, right? Even though there was comparatively more of them, because everyone wanted them, the value was fixed. That's why they naturally came to be used as currency. Five chocolate bars for potato seeds. Three chocolate bars as a reward for a day of teaching others how to write."
Akutagawa nodded, then told; "I once saved up three hundred chocolate bars from being a bodyguard or assisting in a fight."
"Three hundred!?" The young boy yelped and had a very surprised expression. "Weren't you considered a millionaire back then?!"
"I was," Akutagawa admitted. But the story had a few drawbacks. "For a while, I ate only chocolate, and so I collapsed from lack of nutrition."
The boy laughed at him again with a cheerful expression. It was, in Akutagawa's eyes, a beautiful sight.
For a few minutes after that, they exchanged pleasant conversation. They shared small, important past experiences with their colleagues who
would not and most likely never understand their odd habits even if they had told them.
These past experiences were experiences they couldn't hope for
others to empathise with. They showed, to each other, expressions they hardly showed anybody else.
"It's the first time I've spoken of this," the young boy said with a smile. "If it is not too rude to ask, what is your name?"
Even after such a conversation, the boy was as polite as ever.
The assassin answered the young boy without hesitation. "Akutagawa."
In which the young boy exchanged the offer. "Nakajima. Nakajima Atsushi. It is a pleasure to meet you Akutagawa-san."
The first time they met was in a café. They stayed in touch and everything started to go for the better from there.
Akutagawa had already made it a habit to never bring his work home. If there was extra work to be done, he would work overtime. Atsushi didn't mind that he came home late, there were times where a mission took most of his time away from Atsushi.
Atsushi, being the understanding spouse he was, never even asked or got angry about it. They say guilt was a strong driving force so Akutagawa used it to finish his work quickly.
"Stop that, you're going to have diabetes one day, I swear."
Akutagawa stopped to look at Chuuya who came to take away the sugar cubes.
"Look, I know you said sugar is a privilege and all that," Chuuya said, "but I swear, adding four into your tea every single time is no good way to take care of your health."
Akutagawa stared at the bowl of sugar cubes in Chuuya's hand. "Chuuya-san, is there something I can do for you?"
"Yes, go home," Chuuya deadpanned. "The mafia has no working hours but you have been working late for four weeks in a row. As much as I want to admire you, I say it's stupid. Get some rest. What will your sister think?"
The last question was something Akutagawa could answer. Gin hated the fact that he was working late. Not because she was at all worried about his health but because she adored Atsushi. As in she preferred Atsushi than him, her brother.
"Take a break, get that love life going, go on a date, anything! That's an order!" Chuuya said, angrily. Though Akutagawa couldn't see why the mafia executive was so keen on his love life, he saw his point.
"Understood," Akutagawa said to his superior. Standing up, he asked; "Is Higuchi standing right in front of the door as always?"
"Uh, yeah..." Chuuya answered slowly.
"Higuchi!" Akutagawa called for his right hand.
Higuchi came in and stumbled into the door in a rush, her face was, for some reason, flushed. He ignored it.
"I assume you heard our conversation?" Akutagawa asked.
"M-me? Eavesdropping? No-"
"Don't lie," Akutagawa interjected.
"Y-yes..." Higuchi said, face slowly becoming red, looking towards the floor. Why in the world was she embarrassed?
"Good," Akutagawa said with a smile. "Then can I ask for your time."
"H-huh?!" Higuchi reacted. "I-I mean, y-yes, sir!"
"Great, because I want you to..."
"To...?" A red-faced Higuchi waited, patiently. Although Akutagawa didn't even understand what was going on in her head, he hoped this woman can do the given job properly.
Akutagawa pulled out a drawer to pull out a stack of papers. When he placed it on his desk, it hit the wooden surface with a bang. "Please finish all the paperwork for me."
"W-what?!" Higuchi yelped, surprised.
Akutagawa stood up and Higuchi looked disappointed. "Thank you for your help."
When he went out of the office Chuuya followed him from behind. He worked with Higuchi long enough to trust her. How much he trusted her was another story though he found it sort of irrelevant at the time, because he had another priority to handle.
Akutagawa went to send a text to Atsushi, telling him that he would return home earlier than both of them had expected. He had to admit, however, it felt great to finally spend quality time with his spouse.
"Oi, Akutagawa," Chuuya said, "you know how to break hearts, don't you? Or are you just self-destructive if it comes to your love life?"
"Chuuya-san, I do not understand what you mean." Because truth be told, his love life was going great now that he was on the way home.
"I mean the girl."
"She's been fawning over you since the very beginning," his superior had told him. "I'm sure she expected you to ask her out on a date since she had overheard our conversation."
Akutagawa shook his head. If it was as Chuuya said, then she was doomed from the start. Although he did notice some odd things about her, it never came across to him as affection. She was hired as his secretary so he saw her as nothing more than such.
"Why would I ask my secretary on a date?" Akutagawa asked Chuuya.
"Because she already has feelings for you, makes a date easier," Chuuya explained blatantly.
"She's my secretary," Akutagawa argued. Occupation aside, dating Higuchi when he was already married was just unthinkable.
"And you don't have a love life," the short redhead shot back. Although he wanted to argue that he did, Chuuya continued before Akutagawa could explain. "Love is a risk if you're in the mafia but for the very least you know that she can defend herself."
Akutagawa stared at him with a confused look. Love was indeed a risk in the mafia, look at what happened to Oda Sakunosuke for example. But he knew way before he married Atsushi that he was more than capable of defending himself.
On another hand, Akutagawa began to explain; "Either way, I think dating someone while you're still in a marriage is frowned upon."
Chuuya gave him an unimpressed look, clearly not buying the reasoning at all. "Akutagawa, you're joking. Are you seriously telling me that you're married?"
"I am," Akutagawa replied. "Married, I mean."
"With your job, yeah," Chuuya deadpanned.
Then it occurred to him why Nakahara Chuuya was so keen on setting him up. Oh fuck, he thought Chuuya knew. Chuuya was an executive, surely he saw the relationship status update when he changed it two years ago.
No. Apparently not.
"But I am," Akutagawa said, trying to convince this person before Chuuya potentially destroy his actual love life.
Chuuya sighed, finally giving in to the hostility. As much as he wanted to feel bad, Akutagawa couldn't help but feel frustrated with the fact that his mentor didn't believe his marriage. "Akutagawa? I'm just trying to help-"
"It's been two years," Akutagawa said, cutting him off. "And I am sorry to say this Chuuya-san but I ought not to get any love advice from someone who is still pining over their old partner."
"You don't have to bring that up!" Chuuya spluttered, crossing his arms. Dazai-san was truly an unforgettable man in the lives of many. Truly, his former mentor was unforgettable and unobtainable. No breathing creature was ever successful in swaying that suicidal man's heart.
Chuuya then went back to the main topic. "Although just because I am shit at my own love life, does not mean I can't help you to be happy now can I?"
Akutagawa shook his head. Chuuya should know better that it was his choice whether or not he wanted to be happy. It was his decision whether or not to date. It was his call on who he was going to pursue a relationship with. Overall, Chuuya knew better if he wanted to do something about it, he would. And well, Akutagawa did.
"You don't have to do anything though," Akutagawa told. "I already am happy with my current love life."
Chuuya rolled his eyes. "Yeah, sure, like you are actually married for two years..."
Akutagawa's phone vibrated. Atsushi replied to his earlier message;
I'm at Uzumaki café rn. Join me?
Unknown to himself, a smile had crept up to Akutagawa's face. Chuuya reacted to this by saying two words;
Akutagawa immediately became his usual unexpressive self despite being caught already.
"You smiled," Chuuya said, in a voice full of disbelief. Then his eyes widen. "Oh fuck. You were serious."
"I told you," Akutagawa said accusingly, shaking his head.
"You're married?!" Chuuya exclaimed. "FOR TWO YEARS?!?!"
Akutagawa shrugged, deciding on to not contribute to the conversation.
"Since when were you even in a relationship?!"
"Five years ago..." Akutagawa recalled.
"That long?! FIVE YEARS?!?!" Chuuya yelled louder like the whole base couldn't hear him already.
"But how did I not notice?! Wait, NO. Why didn't you tell me?!"
"I took a whole month off two years ago for my wedding preparations, Chuuya-san." Surely when he applied for the holiday, one of the executives must've looked through his holiday application where it had explicitly stated that he was going to take a month off to France to get married.
"And honestly, I thought you knew," Akutagawa continued. Since the application was given directly to Chuuya so it could be passed to Mori. "More importantly, you never asked."
"Yes, but Akutagawa, two years," Chuuya said. "Seriously. Two. Years."
Akutagawa shrugged once again. It took a lot of convincing from Atsushi's side of the family - which was just his father - but Akutagawa pulled through in the end. It surprised him how they managed to keep the union going for two years without a single divorce threat from Atsushi's father.
Yep, that was the endgame for him.
Although Akutagawa's father-in-law still wasn't too fond of him, the fact that there were no divorce threats was a big step from the biweekly death threats he received when he was still dating Atsushi.
"I have to go now," Akutagawa said, excusing himself.
"Wait! I'm not even finished!" Chuuya said.
"But Chuuya-san, I'm taking a break, getting my love life back on track and now I am on my way going on a date."
"It is an order, from you, Chuuya-san," Akutagawa reminded him.
"Agh, fine! Go out on a date with your partner!" Chuuya exclaimed. Then he pointed his index finger to him. "But don't expect me to stop asking questions!"
Akutagawa bowed and said his formal greetings to his superior, telling him that whatever question that may come, Akutagawa would answer them in all total honesty.
When Akutagawa walked out of the doors, his feet lead him towards where Atsushi was at, Uzumaki café.
Uzumaki café hasn't changed much in the past five years. People there come and go - there was always a certain group of people who kept on coming and there were people whose faces were never seen more than once.
The whole atmosphere came down right to be relaxing and although the café was once the busiest one in the whole Yokohama city, it managed to cater less troublesome people as its customers to make the whole place bearable. As long as you mind your own business there, you'll have a great time relaxing with your drink.
Akutagawa went into the café and spotted Atsushi in their usual seat.
Atsushi was doing some of his work there as he drank coffee. His circular round glasses get fogged every single time he blew into his hot coffee. It was a normal sight but Akutagawa couldn't help but to still think the little frown Atsushi makes while waiting for the fog to disappear from the glass surface.
In other, simpler words: Akutagawa was falling in love all over again.
From the beginning, Atsushi had always been warm and bright. This man was indeed a beautiful sight.
"How much did you put into yours?" Akutagawa asked, putting four into his tea like the usual.
"Two," Atsushi answered, bringing the white teacup closer to his lips with one hand while the other was holding a pen and writing things down.
"Just two?" Akutagawa asked in disbelief.
Atsushi laughed as he placed the cup back on to the table. "Ryuu-san is a bigger sweet tooth than me when it comes to sugar cubes in our drinks."
"Yeah but you usually go up to five," Akutagawa accused.
"That was one time! I go up to three on average, you know that!" Atsushi said.
"Hmm..." Akutagawa leaned to his seat with his arms crossed. "Then admit that you're the bigger sweet tooth."
"What? Of course, I am!" Atsushi confessed. Then a grin, "But I'm not the one who can go up to seven sugar cubes on a very stressful day."
"Hey! That was one time!"
Atsushi gave him a look, one that asked him: 'Really?'
"Okay, given it happened twice," Akutagawa admitted, "but only twice. You're still the bigger sweet tooth in general."
"Yeah, I am," Atsushi said, smiling. "So how was work for you, Ryuu-san?"
"Chuuya-san ordered me to go home," Akutagawa recalled. Then he frowned at another fact. "He also tried to pair me up with Higuchi. For a date."
"But we're married...?" Atsushi asked, confused. He did that adorable habit of his where he tilted his head to the side when he was lost in thought. "What is he trying to do? Why even?"
"Not the slightest idea," Akutagawa lied. As much as he was stressed about it, he rather not talk about it with Atsushi right now. On their date. "How about you?"
"Doing well, some clients came and just asked for information. You know, the usual, so some digging here and there."
"And your father?" Akutagawa asked.
"He's in Russia right now," Atsushi replied. "I don't know why but until he returns all the other miscellaneous jobs will go to me."
"Sounds like a big job," Akutagawa said and Atsushi shrugged. Atsushi's father had always been doing shady jobs since Atsushi was a kid, it was no different from Akutagawa's job so there was no disagreement between Atsushi's father and Akutagawa occupation wise.
Good, because Akutagawa couldn't think of being anything else other than a Mafioso.
"Ah, today's the day..." Atsushi said suddenly.
A bright smile was formed on Atsushi's face, he raised his coffee cup, as if he was making a toast and then said;
"The day we met."
They met exactly five years ago, at the same café and the same seat.
For what it was worth, Akutagawa was more than glad they stayed in touch.
Because things truly went for better from thereon.