I love another, and thus I hate myself
- Sir Thomas Wyatt "I Find No Peace"
Katai Tayama was not worthy of Doppo Kunikida.
He wasn't even sure how all of this had started.
It was not hard to tell that Kunikida was not his type. He did not resemble - in any regard - the slim, pale beauties with jet black hair that Katai sometimes dared envision in his shy fantasies. The very thought was honestly quite ridiculous and he couldn't help but snicker at the comparison sometimes.
And yet the feeling was there, persistent and impossible to ignore, like a whirring fan in an overheating computer.
Kunikida was a flame - always burning, always bright, always in motion. Impatient, constantly in a rush. He was doing so much with his life, pulled himself in so many directions that it sometimes suprised Katai he hadn't fallen apart at the seams yet. The work at the Agency demanded, and he was always giving, throwing his life on the line for his ideals and saving others. Goddamnit, Kunikida was a hero, no matter how much time he spent awake at night, thinking about the past, or how many times he let himself cry into Katai's shoulder, unable to explain whose ghost was haunting him this time.
Katai didn't think he could take his heat. His own life was a worthless, foul, stagnant existence, caged by his anxieties and drowning in trash. He wasn't even sure if he had something he felt passionate enough about to die for. The most impressive battle he ever fought was that one time when the electricity was shut down and he had to call his energy supplier.
(He didn't manage, by the way. When he heard the voice on the other end, he was paralyzed by not knowing what to say, and then, when he found the right words - by the awkwardness of saying them after such long silence. Seeing no way out of this riddle, he ultimately hung up and took a few shaky breaths, running his trembling hands through his hair, before calling Kunikida for moral support).
Kunikida always told him how he was worth so much more than he believed, but Katai was never able to quite see it in himself. No matter how much reassurance he was offered, the only thing he was ever able to take away, was that his friend was living in an illusion when it came to him. Some magical, impossibly lucky and too good to be true set of circumstances somehow managed to conceal what a pathetic and worthless person he truly was, but oh, he was sure there will inevitably come a moment of demasking. A time will arise when all the mirages will fade away and Kunikida will finally see him for who he truly was - and will not want anything to do with him anymore.
Kunikida deserved someone, who will be able to keep up with him. Katai had read his requirements of a perfect partner, and while it sure was a lot (and he immediately lost all hope of catching up), his friend deserved it all and so much more. He deserved everything that would make him happy. He should be with someone as passionate, vehement, brave and unabashedly alive as him.
Katai has tried passionate before. He quickly ran out of strenght.
That was why he pretended he didn't know what it meant when Kunikida wrapped his arms around him, pulling him in for a hug during their evenings together. He merely rested his head on his shoulder and basked in the company of the only person he ever let into his life like that.
Doppo Kunikida was not worthy of Katai Tayama.
He wasn't even sure how all of this had started.
Katai did not meet the requirements of a perfect partner written down in the Ideal. He managed to score some stray points for a couple of generalities, like having black hair, but that was something even Dazai could do. He shouldn't even take part in this competition - Kunikida's notebook clearly stated a list of a perfect woman's traits, which disqualified Katai right off the bat.
And yet the feeling was there, persistent and impossible to ignore, like ink splattered onto a page, staining dark against the pure white of the paper.
Katai was soft and fragile - in a way that Kunikida would never allow himself to be. He felt and felt with intensity that overwhelmed and terrified him - no wonder he ended up unable to take it. And even though it was Kunikida who put his life at risk every day, he couldn't help but think that it's Katai who's fighting a real war, constantly battling his own troubled mind, and still finding strenght to push through and help Agency along the way. After all, Katai was an extraordinary genius, no matter how much he attributed to his ability (which Kunikida never bought, by the way, because it was one thing to have the technical ability to control electronics and another to know how to control them in order to get what you want as expertly as Katai did).
Kunikida didn't have much love for himself. It hurt, true. He could feel the way his own expectaction were burning him up from the inside during those long, sleepless nights when his stomach would turn itself into painful knots, preventing him from resting. But even more terrifying was the perspective of letting go and seeking relief - of chasing comfort in the simple truth of you're only human, you're allowed to make mistakes. Because he was so, so afraid of what he might become if he starts going easy on himself. What will happen to his ideals when he gives himself a pass of not fullfilling them? Wasn't self acceptance just the first step on the path that only led down to laziness and mediocrity?
Kunikida did not want to settle on only human, so he hated himself, hoping that one day it will take him to a place where he will no longer need to. Even if he knew, at the concious level, that it will never happen. Perhaps that was the worst part.
And if he couldn't truly love himself, how could he expect to love others the way they deserved it?
The very thought that he could subject his dearest friend to the same judgement he subjected himself to, that he could start looking at him through the lense of endless criteria and conditions written down in the Ideal - his guide and his burden - filled him with even more disgust for himself. Katai did not deserve his conditions.
Katai needed unconditionality. He needed someone who will have all the patience in the world when dealing with him, who will accept him during every step of his journey and assure that it's okay to take your time with things.
Kunikida has tried patience before. He always run out quickly.
That was why he pretended he didn't know what it meant when Katai rested his head on his shoulder during their evenings together. Instead, he would just put his arms around his waist, pulling him into an embrace and savour the company of the only person he did not feel the need to judge.