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This Isn't Giving Up, No This Is Letting Go

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Chuuya shoves Akutagawa down behind a steel shipping container, the harsh sound of bullets denting the thick plating ringing around them. Akutagawa shakes him off, a snarl on his lips but Chuuya isn't in the mood to argue with him. Nor does he have the time to. 

Ignoring the younger’s growls, he looks up at the blue haze outside a nearby window, narrowing his eyes. The telltale shimmer of energy shows that it's an Ability, specifically a shielding one. They couldn’t escape unless the one keeping them there either released them or died. He highly doubts that the first one would happen. He needs to kill them to get his people out.

He feels Rashomon activate beside him, Akutagawa’s Ability shifting his gravity just enough for Chuuya to notice. The kid starts to stand, his face set in a determined mask.

“Don’t even think about it,” Chuuya snarls, grabbing hold of his coat labels and shaking him. “You can’t fight this—you need to get everyone out,” he says, glancing behind the kid to see the small group of people also hiding behind the shipping containers. Everyone is sporting some kind of injury, minor or large like a bullet wound. Seeing how they’re supporting each other, he feels a thrill of satisfaction. 

Good, that lets some of the unsease of his decision release in his chest. A darkness curls in the back of his mind, stirring as it senses what he's planning. It screams with delight, an animalistic cry for the hunt. It yearns to feel blood under its hands. 

Regardless of what happens to him, his people will be alright.

A furious scowl twists the kid's face, despite the nasty cut on his face where a bullet had grazed him. Chuuya knows he’s going to talk back before he even opens his mouth.

“There’s five of them! And an army!” Akutagawa snaps. “You’re going to need help!”

Hah? You really think me that fucking weak? Come on kid, really?” Chuuya asks, a manic grin stretching across his face.

Akutagawa’s eyes widen in alarm and he hastily backtracks. “No, sir, I don’t, but I can help—” 

“The answer’s fucking no!” Chuuya firmly cuts him off, shaking him again. “We didn’t think they would be here! We don’t have the manpower to fight five strong Ability users as well as their grunts. Once I kill the one trapping us here, get everyone out!”

When he still looks mutinus and unsure, juting his chin out like a child, Chuuya growls lowly, “Gin’s here. Are you really willing to put her in danger? Because she won’t leave if you don’t.” 

Blood drains rapidly from Akutagawa’s already pale face, horror seeping in. Chuuya knows that he’s being cruel, but he can’t think of another way to get the kid moving if he won’t listen to orders. Not that the assassin can’t hold her own, but Akutagawa’s sister is meant to walk in shadows, not on an open battlefield like this one. Using her against him is the only surefire way to get the kid to listen. 

Seeing the acceptance on Akutagawa’s face, he shoves the kid away. “Get going. I’ll cover you.”

Akutagawa nods, and shakily gets to his feet but stays low. “What are you going to do?”

A dark feeling settling on his chest, Chuuya glanced back at the other side of the warehouse, where their opponents were using the lull in fighting to gather themselves. He hadn’t been exaggerating, five Ability users who were working in tangent is a challenge—even for him. 

Chuuya flashes him a grin, one that's maybe a little too honest, a little too sad. “Don’t worry about me. Get everyone to safety.”

Akutagawa’s eyes grow huge, his gaze flicking down to the black gloves that Chuuya always wore. 

“No,” he whispers. “Don’t. He’s not here.”

“Don’t give me order’s Ryuu,” he says sharply before softening. “Tell everyone I’m sorry.” And goodbye, but he can’t bring himself to say that out loud. 

Akutagawa shakes his head slightly, grief and denial already washing over him. Without saying anything, he turns away and races over to his sister, barking orders to retreat. 

Watching them go, Chuuya breathes a sigh of relief. They’ll be fine. 

Standing, Chuuya takes a single moment to fear what's to come, closing his eyes and resting his head against the metal behind him. Breathing deep, he opens his eyes, pressing his lips into a determined line. 

Stealing himself, he walks around the edge, taking off his gloves as he goes. Coming out into the open, he discards them to the side, knowing that he’ll never wear them again. 

“Oi! You sons of bitches! Who’s ready to face gravity?” he calls out, grinning arrogantly when everyone turns to look at him. 

One of the mooks, the strengths Ability user he thinks, scoffs. “You really think that you can take us by yourself?” she taunts with a sneer, flexing her muscles. He has to admit that she’s built like a tank, unlike himself. 

He’s still stronger. 

“Yes,” he says evenly then inhales deeply. Stealing a glance to the side, he’s relieved to see that his people were gathering at the furthest exit while their attention is on him. He catches Akutagawa’s stricken eyes and smiles sadly. Stay safe, Ryuu.

He spreads his hands and falls into a light stance.

 “O, Grantors of Dark Disgrace,” he starts lowly, the instinctual words rolling off his tongue easily. He feels Arahabaki press down against the back of his mind, impatient and insistent. It’s like a race horse chomping at the bit, just waiting to be set free. He closes his eyes and releases the last of his internal chains. 

You need not wake me again.” 

Shouts of alarm and fear sound in front of him and he opens his eyes with a grin.  His vision loses focus, hazing with a red film. A thrill of amusement fills him, thinking that these worms are so pathetic, quivering in the face of a God. Cold, cruel laughter sounds in his ears and he feels it echoed in his throat. 

The air pressure around him changes, whipping his clothes about as his fingers turn numb, a darkness crawling up his skin. He knows without seeing it that blood red markings twist around his arms, covering his cheeks and forehead. 

Weight presses down on the air around him and he stomps, the ground fracturing under his boots.

This is it, Arahabaki has taken over and it won’t be long till it destroys his body from the inside out. 

At least his people will live.

*

Dazai yawns widely, leaning back in the passenger seat as Kunikida rants at him while he drives. Dazai doesn't really pay attention to what he’s saying, probably some kind of lecture about his behavior. They're entering Yokohama after investigating a case just outside the city. It had turned out to be nothing, something that Dazai had figured out within minutes then let Kunikida stumble around on his own. They had been there for three hours, Dazai giving him hints, some true, some not.

“—and get your feet off my dash!” Kunikida snaps, shooting him a murderous glare. Well, murderous for him. 

“Why?” Dazai asks, leaning back more and wiggling his feet, knowing that it will send the other man off on another tangent about cleanliness and ideals. 

Sure enough, Kunikida makes a noise of frustration and disbelief before launching into the new rant. Dazai hides a grin, snickering under his breath. It’s way too fun sending his work partner into a tizzy.

Dazai leans his head on the seat, a smile on his lips. It was a lovely day, despite his failure to find a beautiful woman to commit double suicide with him. Amusement still danced in his chest from watching Kunikida struggle. 

He relaxes, tipping his face up to catch the sun. For once, he was okay with failing to die.

“—and it’s—what’s that sound?” Kunikida asks, breaking off to shoot him a puzzled frown.

Dazai barely hears him, a ringing in his ears that he knows has nothing to do with the alarm coming from his phone. It blares with three short, sharp barks then an odd growl, deep and primal sounding. He knows instantly what it means, having picked it specifically for one thing only. The thought of actually having to hear it never really sank into his mind, only putting it there as a precaution. 

Now, it chills him to the bone.

“No,” he whispers through numb lips. “He wouldn’t…”

“What? What’s going on?” Kunikida asks sharply, stopping the car abruptly. Angry honks sound behind them but Dazai ignores it. Sitting properly, he pulls out his phone, he taps in his fifteen digit password within seconds. Immediately, a map pops up, a red dot blinking up at him as it moves around a warehouse. 

Too fast to be human.

“Goddamn idiot, why the fuck is he using that?” he snarls. He snaps his head around and glares at Kunikida. “Get us to the Southern Port, now!”

“What? Why?” Kunikida asks, but he’s already stomping onto the gas. Their car lurches forwards and even though he’s driving slower than Dazai would like, he’ll admit that Kunikida’s driving is more efficient than his. 

“Something’s happening in one of the warehouses there. Only I can stop it. If we don't, many people will die.” More specifically, one very important person will die. Dazai doesn't think he can live with himself if he can’t save him.

“Die? Do you know what’s happening?” Kunikida asks, weaving between cars. Thankful, the road they’re on isn’t as packed as it could be. 

“I have an idea but nothing else,” Dazai says grimly, keeping his eye on the red dot on the map. It’s still darting around the warehouse.

“Which is?” Kunikida draws out, impatience dripping from his tone.

Dazai mutely shakes his head, unable to voice his thoughts. They can’t be late. They just can’t be.  

He’s saved from answering further when his phone goes off again, a caller ID flashing on his screen. Anticipating this, he opens it without looking at who it is. 

“Speak,” he snaps into the mic.

“It’s Chuuya-san. He’s using—” Akutagawa starts, his deep voice shaking slightly. Dazai’s stomach drops. Regardless of his aggressive temper, very few things shake his former protege.

“I know, I’m on my way. If he tries to leave the warehouse, keep him there. Not only is he a danger to everyone around him, he’s a danger to himself if I can’t get to him. Do you hear me, Akutagawa? Keep him there,” he stresses. 

“Yes, sir,” he says and abruptly ends the call.

Dazai sighs and runs a hand through his hair, tugging at it. Why is he using it without Dazai? Stupid chibikko, he knows what would happen, so why?

Dazai knows, of course, he just doesn't want to believe it. Chuuya is stupidly loyal and protective of the people under his care. He’ll do anything for them, even put himself into harm's way. 

Bessidly, Kunidika keeps his mouth shut after, probably figuring out that now is not the time to interrogate him. He did, however, press harder on the gas so they’re past the speeding limit. Dazai is ridiculously thankful for his ADA partner in that moment and resolves not to torment him for a week. 

Thankfully they’re close to the warehouse that his map is telling them to go to and they make it there in under five minutes. 

It still feels like hours to Dazai. 

As they enter the port, he can already hear the sounds of destruction breaking buildings. A large boom goes off in a nearby warehouse, shaking the car.

“What the hell was that?” Kunikida yells, hitting the breaks. 

Dazai doesn't bother answering. He flings the door open while they’re still moving, jumping out. Rolling to his feet, he takes off. He ignores Kunikidas’ yell to come back and rushes towards the warehouse, his heart in his throat. 

Please don’t be too late, please please. God, Chuuya, let me be here in time.

“Dazai-san!” someone calls and he sees Akutagawa standing a little away with a battered group of assassins. The kid points towards an entrance, saying nothing else.

Dazai sends him a nod and rushes in, heedless to the foreboding air permeating the interior of the warehouse. It’s a sensation that every creature knows, a feeling that just screams danger and to get far, far away.

He ignores it.

Manic laughter fills his ears and he comes around a half destroyed shipping crate, already knowing what he’ll see. Standing in a bloody mess of bodies and craters is Chuuya, his head thrown back as he cackles. Blood covers his skin and clothes and Dazai knows from experience that most of it is his own. It drips from the chibi’s nose, mouth and eyes. Red tattoo like markings glow on his skin, looking far too much like brands on his skin.

He takes all this in within a second and runs towards his partner, reaching for him. The thing inhabiting Chuuya’s body must have heard him because his head snaps around and a deranged grin splits his face in half. His completely white eyes are unnerving, his pupils barely a pinprick. 

Chuuya raises his hand, despite the tremors shaking it, and a black gravitron forms in his palm.

Dodging it, Dazai ducks under his reaching arm to press his fingers against the smaller man’s cheek. 

The effect is immediate. 

Chuuya gaspes, the sound very similar to someone who’d been denied oxygen for far too long. The gravitron dissipates and he staggers back. His eyes return, the beautiful cobalt coming into focus, but blood tears still drip from them. He coughs, blood bubbling from his lips before he collapses, his knees giving out. 

Dazai catches him, gently brings him to the ground as he cradles him to his chest. “Chuuya, chibi—can you hear me?”

Chuuya’s head rolls against his arm, his neck unable to hold it up. His eyes flutter but don’t open, his lashes sticky with blood. The radiative marks start to fade, seeping back into his skin. Dazai knows that they’re still there, that they’ll come out with only eleven words. 

He hates them.

Frantic, Dazai digs two fingers to Chuuya’s neck, searching for a pulse. For one heartstopping minute he can’t feel anything. Then, miraculously, he finds a faint flutter, low and slow, but there. A breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding rushing out of him, relife pulling his shoulders down.

He wasn’t too late

“Da...zai,” a hoarse voice says, barely audible. 

He almost cries, hearing it. 

“It's okay, you're okay. I've got you,” Dazai assures him, cupping the smaller man's cheek and turning his head so he can look up at him. 

Blue eyes hazy with pain stare back at him, a small smile on his face. His whole expression is gentle and he leans a little into Dazai’s palm.

“You’re...here,” he says with a hint of awe, like Dazai hadn’t spoken. He coughs, bringing up more blood. His face is so pale, free of colour. The sight makes Dazai feel cold. How much blood has he already lost?

“Yeah, I’m here. You can rest now, Chuuya; I’ve got you,” he says, an odd feeling choking him. 

Chuuya hums, closing his eyes. His whole body falls limp, every string holding him up cut. 

He looks dead.

The sound of running feet draws his attention and Dazai looks up. Kunikida rushes in, panting only to stop dead as he stares at them. His eyes widen and his jaw drops as shock and alarm hits him.

“Is that Nakahara Chuuya?” he asks, his tone disbelieving.

Dazai can’t really fault him. It must have never crossed his mind that the dangerous Mafia Executive could ever look like this, blood soaking his skin and clothes while out cold. 

“We need to get him to Yosano,” he states, picking his chibi up as gently as he can. Chuuya makes a sound of pain, his brows scrunching but doesn't otherwise react. He’s completely limp, full dead weight. 

He doesn't wake. 

Dazai knows he won’t. He took too long this time. He wasn’t there for him. 

He could have lost him.

Kunikida opens his mouth, something that looks like an objection on his tongue but wisely bites it back. He nods and turns on his heels, rushing back the way he came.

As they leave the warehouse, the Mafia is hovering outside, tense and worried. They snap to attention when they come out, the Akutagawa siblings standing the closest. 

“I’m taking him to our doctor,” he tells them flatly, his tone hard and resolute. Telling them that regardless of what they want or think, that’s what's happening. 

“Take care of him,” Gin says, surprising him. She’s clutching a familiar hat and coat, giving a silent promise to keep them safe. Akutagawa nods, his lips pressed into a displeased line, but he doesn’t argue. 

Dazai doesn't stick around for them to change their minds.

Reaching Kunikida’s car, Dazai opens the back instead of the front, gently laying Chuuya across the seats. He sits with him, pillowing his head on his lap. Kunikida shoots him a look but doesn't comment as he starts his car, pulling away. 

The drive is tense and silent, Dazai too focused on Chuuya and Kunikida respectful of his nerves. He knows the other man will want answers, and will undoubtedly demand them later, but he’s thankful for the courtesy. He’s dimly aware of his partner calling ahead to inform the others of what’s going on but he doesn’t listen. 

Once they reach the Agency, Dazai carries Chuuya inside, leaving Kunikida to park the car. All noise in the office stops when he enters, everyone turning to stare wide-eyed at him. He knows he looks alarming but he ignores them, holding Chuuya closer to his chest. 

Yosano is already waiting for him, the door to her infirmary flung open. She waves him in and he obeys, placing Chuuya on the bed she indicates. Yosano starts gathering tools and things but Dazai takes a moment to just look at him.

Although blood covers his face and mats his hair, Chuuya is ridiculously gorgeous. His soft yet sharp features angelic, his fiery hair splayed over the white pillowcase. 

“If you’re staying here, at least be useful,” Yosano says, shoving a damp cloth at him. Dazai takes it without a word, starting to clean Chuuyas face. It brings back memories, cleaning his partner like this. 

“What’s wrong with him?” she asks, reaching up to start unbuttoning his vest and shirt. 

“Internal bleeding. Most of his organs will have ruptures of some kind, mainly in his lungs and stomach.”

Yosano blinks, pausing. “How the fuck did that happen? And how do you know that?”

“It’s happened before,” he snaps, earning him a sharp glare. 

“Alright, back up and let me work,” she orders. 

Eyes narrowing, he debates on ignoring her but ends up stepping back. He wants to stick close to Chuuya to make sure he’s okay, but knows that this is where Yosano excels. He would be stupid not to listen to her and he likes to think himself a genius. 

She snorts like she knows what went through his head, turning back to her patient. Hands on his chest and pulse, he’s guessing she’s trying to decide how close he is to death so she can heal him. He watches as she presses her lips flat, displeased. Without saying anything, she activates her Ability and Dazai stops breathing.

Yosano takes a sadistic pleasure in cutting up people so she can heal them but decides to forgo it with Chuuya. She thinks that cutting Chuuya open to get him closer to death is unnecessary. 

He'd been close enough on his own.

God, if Dazai had been any later…

He covers his mouth with his hand, horror building. He doesn’t want to think about a world when he was just that much slower. Losing Oda had been awful and world shattering but if he’d lost Chuuya?  

He doesn't know what he’d do. 

“What on earth…?” Yosano mutters, bringing his attention back to the infirmary. His coworker is no longer bent over Chuuya, standing with her back straight beside his bed. A confused and frankly bewildered frown rests on her face, her head tilted as if things would make more sense from a different angle. 

“What? What’s wrong?” Dazai demands, rushing back to the bed, looking at Chuuya himself. Glancing down at him, he tries to see anything glaringly obvious. Chuuya looks like his normal chibi self, too short for his personality and power. Slight bruising under his skin where the Corruption marks had been. Swirling patchworks of purple and blue on his bare chest, showing how his lungs had been ripping apart. 

With a jolt, he realizes what’s so disturbing to Yosano. Chuuya is still injured, despite her Ability healing him. 

Her Ability, which works on almost everything, didn’t work on Chuuya.

Her Ability, which only fails with terminal illnesses, didn’t work on Chuuya.

“No,” he gasps out. “No no no no, this can’t be happening. He’s going to be fine—I got to him in time!” he insists, his breathing coming quick and shallow.

“Dazai!” Yosano snaps, reaching out and grabbing his chin to make him look at her. “He’s going to be okay! Take a deep breath. In…out…that’s it.”

“B-but…if your Ability didn’t—”

“It worked,” she interjects. “Just…not all the way.”

“What do you mean?” he asks, his breathing still caught in his throat but he pushed through the pain. Panic still dances at the edge of his vision and his hands shake but what she has to say is more important. 

She sighs, releasing him. Looking back down at Chuuya, she checks his pulse again then lifts back his eyelid. Chuuya’s unfocused eye is eerily still as she shines a light on it. Letting go, rubs a hand on her brow, placing the other on her hip.

“What is he?” she asks.

“Huh?”

She scowls at him, not falling for his dumb act. “When I was healing him, something was fighting me. It’s dark and massive…a living nightmare,” she mutters quietly, rubbing her arm through her sleeve. “Whatever it is, something about it makes my Ability not stick as well.”

Ah. That makes sense. Figures that a creature of destruction and fire wouldn’t like something that brings life and heals.

Seeing his expression, her eyes narrow. “You know what it is,” she states. It’s not a question.

He shrugs, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Yeah, but it’s not my secret to tell. I’ve made enough decisions for Chuuya against his will in the past. I won’t say anything unless I have to.”

Something glints in her eyes and she crosses her arms over his chest. “This isn’t drastic enough to warrant it?”

“No. I’ve seen him like this many, many times,” he says, half to convince himself. Although, never this bad. Sure, he’d sleep for a couple days and be on bed rest for a couple more but the tiny chibi always bounces back without issue.

Yosano arches a brow but leaves it at that. “How did this happen?” she asks instead, pulling out a stethoscope to check his heart. 

“Corruption.”

“And what is that?”

“The full potential of his Ability. He can’t control it and all that concentrated gravity isn’t good for his squishy insides,” he says flippantly. Now that Chuuya isn’t in immediate danger, he feels himself calming. 

Yosano arches a brow, clearly wanting a more in depth explanation but smart enough to know she isn’t going to get one.

“If you say so. Anyway, he should wake up in a couple of hours. I fixed most of the damage but he’ll need to take it easy for a day or two. Which will be good for us,” she adds with a smirk. Dazai groans dramatically, knowing what she’s talking about. 

“Don’t tell him that. His ego is big enough that it almost makes up for his tiny height,” he complains.

Yosano snorts and starts taking the rest of Chuuya’s clothes off, cleaning his skin as she goes. 

“Pity that we’ll have to burn these, they’re rather nice,” she comments, looking at Chuuya’s jacket, the weird one that only covers his shoulder blades. She gasps, looking at the maker. She demands to know if he really got this from that store, the really expensive one that makes everything from good quality materials. 

Listening to her, Dazai resolves to never let the two of them go on a shopping trip together. Even with Chuuya’s ability they’d never managed to carry everything. Damn clothes horses.

“I’m going to go change,” he declares, just to get away from this conversation. Also, his own suit is getting stiff with dried blood. He’s going to swipe the chibi’s wallet to pay for a new one. That will teach him not to use Corruption without him there.

*

A few hours and three lectures later, clad in fresh clothes, Dazai sits next to Chuuya’s infirmary bed. It’s past the end of office hours, most of their employees leaving for the day. The infirmary is silent except for the beeping of the heart monitor hooked up to his chibi, loud in the absence of sound. 

Chuuya looks better than before, free of blood and dirt. It's almost like he's just sleeping normally, not in a post-corruption healing coma. His suit and slacks are gone, replaced with a white yukata that Yosano had dug up from somewhere. 

It's too big for him.

It was probably for the simplicity of dressing him in something loose, but Dazai couldn’t help but smirk at how it made him look even smaller. The tiny chibikko. He’s already gotten a couple pictures as blackmail. 

Dazai tries to pass the time waiting by reading a new book on suicide methods, but his eyes keep flicking up and checking on the hat rack. Chuuya lays still, having not even twitched since he left. Yosano had put an IV into his arm, the drip probably filled with vitamins and things. 

“You’re so much trouble,” he ends up saying. Why he’s talking, he has no idea, but the oppressing silence was starting to get to him. “What were you even thinking? You must have known that it would kill you, with me not there. Do you want to die? I thought I was the suicidal one. Stop trying to take my gimmick.”

Nothing. No reaction.

“Slug. Stupid hat rack. Chibikko. I told you to drink milk, and you ignored me like an idiot and now look at you—still tiny.”

Chuuya’s eyes flutter but don’t open.

Dazai groans, disliking the unpleasant feeling in his chest. It still feels too tight and he keeps biting his lip, fingers tapping against the cover of his book. Making other noises of displeasure, he sets his book aside, reaching out and taking Chuuya’s limp hand in his. He rubs his thumb over his skin a couple of times, letting the silence consume them. His eyes prick but it’s been years since he actually cried so he doesn't think he will. 

That doesn’t stop the feeling of his throat closing and he swallows harshly. 

“Such a slow slug, wake up faster,” he whispers. 

“Fuck off, shitty mackerel. I don’t answer to you,” a voice croaks, hoarse like the owner had been screaming. Which isn’t that far off. Fingers curl around his, a little too tight and a little too warm but he welcomes it.

“Really? Then why are you obeying your master like a little dog?” he shoots back, a smile spreading on his lips.

“I’m going to punch you,” Chuuya grumbles, opening his eyes. He immediately closes them with a pained whine. He blinks furiously, letting his eyes adjust. Dazai waits patiently, watching till clear sapphire seeks out his own eyes. He’s not surprised that they’re bloodshot and half lidded with exhaustion. 

“No you’re not; you’re too weak too,” he says cheerfully, a smirk on his face. 

Chuuya huffs an aggravated sigh but doesn’t retort. He shifts in the bed and groans. “Fuck…I hate this part.”

“You’re damn lucky that you’re getting it,” Dazai says, hiding his bubbling anger with an upbeat cheeriness.

“I am,” Chuuya agrees, glancing back at him, not a shred of guilt in his eyes. I would do it again, he says silently, the message loud in clear by the slant of his lips and furrowed brow.

Dazai’s mask cracks. “You’re such a fucking idiot. You could have died!” he snarls.

“I’m kinda wondering why I’m not,” Chuuya says then he blinks and groans. “Ryuu called you, didn’t he?”

“Yes,” Dazai hedges, omitting the fact that he knew before Akutagawa had called him. He isn’t about to tell the hatrack that he left a sensor in the silk of his hat, set to track when he uses Corruption. He doesn’t comment on Chuuya’s use of a nickname for his subordinates. He’s always made friends easily despite Dazai being more charismatic. 

“Figures,” Chuuya says with a click of his tongue. “Is everyone okay?”

Dazai nods.

Chuuya slumps in relife, a slight smile on his face. “How many days has it been?” he asks, eyeing the heart monitor he’s still hooked up to. Dazai glared at it, getting very irritated by the constant beeping.

“None.”

Chuuya blinks. “What?”

“Is the chibikko losing his hearing? Do you need me to say it louder?” Dazai taunts. 

No. I’m confused, you piece of shit. I always sleep for, minimum, two days. At least tell me how many hours it’s been since you’re incapable of counting days,” Chuuya snaps. He’s apparently fed up with the noise too because he removes the clamp from his finger, making the machine start blaring alarms for a flatline. 

“Of for fucks sake!” Chuuya snarls and lunges for it, only to gasp and flop back down. He clutches his chest, clenching his jaw, pain evident in how he hisses a sharp breath through his teeth. 

Dazai stares at the green line across the little screen. Unwanted, he sees another timeline where he hadn’t gotten there in time. He sees Chuuya lying on his back, markings etched on his skin, red and angry looking. A manic grin is on his face and his eyes are devoid of everything. When Odasaku had died in his arms, he could at least see the remains of his soul in his eyes but there was nothing in Chuuya’s. 

Only the corpse of a God.

“Shitty Dazai! Will you shut that thing up?” a harsh voice snarls, snapping him out of the horrible fate. Wordlessly, he gets up and walks around the bed, pressing the button to shut the machine off.

The silence that descends is heavy and thick, both looking at the other. Dazai doesn’t blink, staring at Chuuya’s face, taking in how alive , how human he appears. Even housing a creature of mass destruction and having terrible fashion sense, Chuuya has always been more human than he’ll ever be.

“Oi, mackerel. What the fuck is up with you?” Chuuya asks, sinking back into his pillows. Obviously he’s used the little amount of energy he’s accumulated.

Dazai blinks and snaps out of it. “Awww, is the chibi worried about little old me? I knew you cared!” he gushes, reaching out to squish his cheeks.

Chuuya slaps his hands away. “Fuck no. Stop deflecting, what’s gotten into you?”

Dazai smiles even as thorns wrap around his chest. “Nothing’s wrong with me. I’m not the one laid up in a hospital bed like a invalid.”

“Ah.” Understanding dawns and Chuuya rolls his eyes. “That’s what’s going on.”

“What? What does the chibikko think he’s figured out with that tiny brain of his?” Dazai coos, looking to piss him off and wipe that look from his face. 

Ever the contrary bastard, Chuuya snorts, amused instead of angered. “I worried you.”

“Me? Worried about you? As if,” Dazai scoffs.

Chuuya levels him with a flat look. “Uh-huh. If you say so.”

Dazai frowns, off balanced. Chuuya is normally screeching at him by now—why isn’t he? Returning to his chair, he floops down, propping his shoes up on the edge of his bed, making a show of how unbothered he is. He laces his fingers over his stomach and tips back his head, completing the nonchalant look. 

Chuuya watches him out of the corner of his eyes. He arches a brow as if asking, ‘ really?’ but keeps his silence, waiting Dazai out. Which is annoying. He’s always had more patience than the hatrack, why does he think he can beat him?

But the feeling in his chest grows, like an abandoned briar patch. It twists around him, digging it’s thorns into his tender skin. It gets harder and harder to pretend that it isn’t there.

“Seven hours have passed since I brought you to the agency. Our Doctor used her Ability on you. But…Yosano didn’t have to cut you up first to heal you,” he finally says, his tone flat and empty.

“Yosano? The one that can heal everything?” Chuuya asks. When Dazai nods he blows out a breath. “If she healed me, why do I still feel like crap?” he complains, shifting on the bed. Dazai’s fingers twitch to reach out and make him lay still.

“Because fucking Arahabaki thought she felt gross.”

“You’re joking,” Chuuya says, his eyes widening.

Dazai presses his lips into a line, not saying anything.

“Oh my god, you’re not,” Chuuya realises then barks a laugh. He loses it, laughing until he cuts off with a coughing fit, covering his mouth with his palm. When he stops, he looks down at his hand and grimaces at the crimson dripping from his fingers. 

“Serves you right, stupid chibi,” Dazai snips but grabs him a tissue. Chuuya shoots him a glare as he cleans his hand. When most of it is gone, he tosses it to the garbage, using his Ability to get it into the bucket. 

“So Arahabaki makes me so inhuman that even the most powerful healing ability doesn't work. Figures,” Chuuya croaks, a mirthful smirk on his face. It twists into a grimace and he squeezes his eyes shut.

“You can’t possibly be that fucking stupid,” Dazai says, his tone pleasent but his insides are anything but. Fire burns in his chest, increasing when Chuuya sends him a startled look. How can he not know this?

“You’re not Arahabaki, you’re not a monster. Even while in the Mafia, you’re the most human person I know. You put life into everything, you give everything your all. You don’t need to scrape and claw to call yourself human, you already are.” 

Not like I have to.

Chuuya gapes at him, his mouth open with shock. “Dazai…you—”

Realising just what he admitted to, Dazai froze before forcing himself to relax. It’s been years since he realised this, but he never let himself express how much Chuuya means to him. He knows that the chibi trusts him with his life but he’s never felt worthy of it. At one point he had accepted it as fact, of course Chuuya trusts him, he had no choice. Now he understands that he does and that Dazai was never worthy

Odasaku’s death and his departure from the Mafia made him realise that. Chuuya trusted him and he left him behind. He didn’t even call to say goodbye. A bomb in his car to keep people from thinking Chuuya helped him leave was a shitty farewell.

He feels the lack of worth acutely now, Chuuya recovering from a use of Corruption he hadn’t even been there for. 

“You’re human,” he says again, gentler. “It’s astounding how human you are. Don’t doubt it.” 

Chuuya stares at him, disbelieving, and Dazai’s skin pricks with discomfort. He hates being vulnerable, hates allowing people to see him but if anyones earned the right to see a little deeper, it was Chuuya. 

Empty eyes and features slack, blood trickling from his open mouth. Death hangs heavy around them. Chuuya’s gone and he’ll never argue with him, call him mackerel, or react to his teasing again.

Shaking those thoughts from his mind, Dazai looks down. He picks at his fingers, digging at the dried blood under his nails that he missed. 

“Osamu.” 

Dazai jerks and looks up at him, staring. Chuuya gazes back with tired, half closed eyes. Almost no one uses his first name, everyone using his family name because that’s what he gives them.

Chuuya is one of the few that does.

“Thank you.” 

For once, it’s Dazai who gapes, completely thrown. He doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t know how to react to genuine gratitude from Chuuya. 

The chibi suddenly snorts, a smirk tugging at his lips. “You look even more like a slimy mackerel with your mouth hanging open like that, shitty Dazai.”

“And you looked even smaller in that yukata chibikko,” Dazai shoots back on instinct. “We’ll need a magnifying glass to see you soon.”

“Oi!”