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Our Bittersweet Symphony

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The alarm rang through Dazai's ears, making him groan into his pillow as he shut it off. He laid there for a moment before sifting his body and sighing as he looked at the blank white ceiling. He wasn't sure why he made himself wake up early until he averted his eyes to the empty bed. 

Oh, yes. That was right. He was getting a new roommate.

He harshly rubbed his eyes, forcing himself out of bed, getting ready to start his day. If it were like any other weekend, he would have stayed in bed, but Mori had addressed to him that if he did not make it 'feel like home' for his new roommate, then he would have to suffer the consequences, which usually meant detention and a call to his parents. Usually, he didn't care for detention, but a call to his parents is where he drew the line. He despised talking to his parents, and even if he didn't want to admit it, he was afraid of his parents. He didn't want to be expelled in fear that he would have to live with them. But luckily enough, if he kept a good act, good grades, and played for Mori's orchestra, then all would be well. 

Dazai never really liked living at home and didn't like his father, mother, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. They all looked at him as if he was such a horrid child. But they didn't start looking at him that way until he told his father that he wanted to be a painter, but his father merely put him down for it, telling him that 'artists were mere freeloaders with no perception of reality.' Since then, Dazai forced himself to live his life for his father's image, even though he didn't do it at times and was caught being 'out of character.' He could vividly remember his father smacking him on the face months before him moving to the academy when he had caught him sneaking around with another boy, drinking and smoking, amongst other things. He would never forget his father's angry face, his mother's disapproval, his sibling's disappointment. 

Dazai walked into the empty halls. It was the weekend, and all the other students went to see their parents, while he was all alone, except for the staff.

"I'll take a trip today." He announced to himself as if there was someone else with him. He was never a big fan of breakfast, though he hardly ate at all. He walked into the garden, looking at all the different flowers there were, sitting beneath a tree, watching the leaves sway with the wind above him. 

"Well, I knew I would find you here." Dazai looked to see the face of the familiar voice.

"Hey, Oda! How's it going?" Dazai gives him a big smile. Seeming like a young child seeing his father or older brother after a long day of not seeing them.

Oda sat down with him. Dazai encountered Oda when he visited the academy during the summer. Oda was about to graduate, showing him around the school. Dazai took quite a liking to him, talking about literature, paintings, and other things. Since starting the term, Oda often visited him from college. 

"Have you been spending time with any classmates?" Oda asked as he opened his book and began reading, waiting for Dazai's answer.

"If you mean flirting, then yes. But if you mean actually showing a genuine interest in friendship, then no." Oda hummed in acknowledgment—wishing that the boy would at least try to make friends with kids his age— turning the page on his book. It always fascinated Dazai how he was able to do such a thing. Every time he read, he would zone everyone and everything out, but Oda seemed more aware as he read. 

"I overheard that Mori is going to open up a concert hall and have a bunch of 'Gifted Alumnus' to perform there." Oda could hear the strain in his Dazai's voice no matter how hard he tried to cover it up. 

"And I assume you're not thrilled about that?" Dazai merely groaned as a reply, laying his head back, staring at the leaves once more. 

"Well, you'll soon find what you're looking for, Dazai. That I can promise you." Oda put his book away, reaching for something in his jacket pocket.

"Here." Dazai looked at what was in his hand.

"Why are you giving me a piece of candy?" Dazai looked confused, although he wasn't. Oda groaned, glaring at the younger boy's acting oblivion. 

"Because you look like you're on the verge of dying from hunger." 

"But, Oda, haven't you forgotten? I actually want to die!" Oda rolled his eyes as he placed the candy on his lap. He began to get up with his book on hand.

"Well, I was just stopping by to say hello. I heard that you are getting a new roommate. Tell me how that works out for you." Dazai sighed, lifting himself off the ground and dusting himself off.

"Yeah, well, I just hope he won't get in my way." Oda frowned at him. 

"And why would you say that?" 

"Because if he's anything like the other students here, he'll be a cocky overconfident piece of work." Oda stayed silent, smiling at the young boy's correct statement— many of the students were overconfident and, above all, mean.

"Well, then I hope for the best for you and your new roommate. Goodbye, Dazai. See you soon." Oda walked off. Until he was out of sight, Dazai opened the candy wrapper, popping it into his mouth. He was hungry. Very hungry. 

Although he was hungry, he still refused to eat anything. He wandered through the halls, looking at the paintings displayed within the halls. There was one painting in particular that caught his eyes. It always shined bright in his eyes, complimenting the ugly dark brown mahogany hardwood floors. Dazai studied the color scheme of the painting, displaying a colorful vibrancy to it. He looked closely to identify the strokes. The image was of a tree, petals falling from it as the wind hit it, watching it as it fell to the ground. It was a pretty sight, even for a cold place like the academy. It pained Dazai's heart to see this, wanting to paint something as beautiful as this, but alas, he could not. His priorities depended on him playing the piano, getting good grades, and being the son his father always wanted him to be. 

He walked further down the hall towards his room to get ready to leave to explore Yokohama on his own, but as his eyes fell upon his bedroom door. He had noticed the light hitting the hall from his room. He could have sworn he had left the door closed. Then he realized the new kid was probably already there. He sighed and braced himself to see one of the same faces he had always seen roaming through the halls. He slowly opened the door, but as he opened it, he could have sworn he found something more angelic and more beautiful as he looked at the boy.

The morning sun was hitting directly at his red hair, displaying the most beautiful and colorful vibrancy that had ever been placed within the four walls of his room. No— in the whole school. The boy was hanging posters on the wall, loud music blaring out of his earphones. Dazai stood there a moment, admiring the sight, before stepping in to greet himself.

"Excuse me." The boy seemed immersed in his decor, which Dazai hated, now that he was looking at it. 

"Hello?!" Dazai patted the boy on the shoulder, making him jump and look behind him.

"Jesus, what the fuck's your problem?" Dazai took it back as soon as the boy spoke. He was annoying and loud. 

"My problem? I was saying hello, but it seems like you were too hard of hearing to even hear a thing I was saying." 

"I had my earphones in. Plus, I didn't know anyone was going to be here, so excuse me for getting a little tense." The boy rolled his eyes, placing the last poster on his wall. Dazai's eyes glanced at the decor on the side of the redhead's side of the room. It had so much more depth, more than his side had. He looked at his side to see that it was blank, while the other boy's side was more expressive. 

"Where are you from?" The redheaded boy looked back at him, pausing his music from his phone. 

"I'm from France. Why?" Dazai could hear the slight French accent that resided on his lips, yet he spoke in Japanese well.

Dazai shrugged, "You sound a bit different. Is one of your parents Japanese or something?" Dazai's curiosity usually got the best of him at times.

"Nah, my biological mother and father are both Japanese. My Dad is French, though, but we moved here so I could come to school here since they have a good music program." 

"Oh…" Dazai wanted to ask if he was adopted, but he knew that was a bit too personal, so he stuck to the cliches. "So you're going to be part of the orchestra as well?"

"Yeah. Why?" Chuuya asked dryly. 

"My, well, aren't you full of questions yourself? I thought I was the one supposed to ask you questions, you know, to get to know you." Chuuya rolled his eyes, groaning.

"Yeah, well, no one told me I was going to have an annoying roommate like you around, so sorry for asking for your reasoning as to why you want to know so much." Chuuya hopped from his bed, displaying his small frame. Dazai couldn't help but let out a laugh.

"What the fuck are you laughing at, you pretentious shit?!" 

"I don't know. Probably because my roommate is a pipsqueak. You know, milk helps with growth." Dazai placed his hand above the short boy, showing him how short he was. He smacked it away from him, grabbing his collar.

"You wanna say that again, asshole?"

"Gladly! I said—" Before Dazai could even finish, the boy pushed him to the ground, placing his foot on his chest. The light glowed even brighter, making the boy's hair glow into a fiery red, his azure eyes piercing him. There was a sudden jump in Dazai's heart, making him feel more alive than he had ever felt before, like he was resurrected back from the dead by an angel. 

"Listen, you fucker, I am not going to spend my fucking four years here fighting you. I have dreams and aspirations, unlike you, you stupid rich fuck."

"Oh? Such language. Pardon your French, perhaps?" The boy grumbled as he took his foot off of him. 

"You're really pissing me off, and I don't even know your name." The boy was right; he hadn't even gotten Dazai's name, and neither did he get his.

"Dazai. Dazai Osamu." Dazai raised himself, dusting himself off. The boy glared at him, continuing his decorating.

"Nakahara Chuuya." Dazai raised his eyebrows. He had thought that Chuuya would have had a French name instead of a Japanese one since he had clearly stated his father was European.

"I had thought your father was European?" Chuuya looked back at him with a slightly more annoyed face.

"Yeah, what of it?"

"Well, I would have assumed that you would have had a French name or something."

"Well, you're wrong. Which, assuming from your face, you don't hear often."

"Ha! The little chihuahua has jokes! How very funny of you." Dazai threw his arm affectionately around Chuuya's neck, which made him wince at the affectionate action.

"Can you not touch me? It's nauseating." 

"Huh? Me? Nauseating? I think you have yourself confused."

"Then why are you touching me if I'm so nauseating to you too?" Dazai stopped for a moment, thinking why he was doing just that even though he had just said that he was nauseating. But he just laughed it off, taking his arm off him and laying on his bed. Maybe he wouldn't go out after all since he found something more entertaining to explore. 

"Get the fuck off my bed, you waste of oxygen." Dazai didn't listen, though; he merely rolled around on his bed, adjusting his body to get more comfortable. For some reason, Chuuya's bed seemed more relaxed than his own. The smell of laundry detergent smelled nice, more comforting and warm, like a home that he wouldn't know of but was somehow reassuring. 

"Hey, you're ruining my bed!" Chuuya got on his bed, standing over Dazai, kicking him.

"Get off!" Dazai shook his head, stretching his arms to grab hold of his pillow to make it more cushiony.

"You know, Chuuya has such a comfortable pillow." Chuuya just sighed, paying no mind to him as he continued to decorate once more. But before Dazai knew it, he was falling asleep. He woke himself up, surprised by the comfort he had with a boy he barely knew. He wiped the surprised look off his face, smiling as he got off the bed and into his own.

"Finally!" Chuuya flopped on his bed, got out his phone, and began to text. Dazai hadn't noticed what he was wearing until then. He was wearing a loose low-neck tank top with fitted jeans. For some reason, Dazai hated what he was wearing, although it made him get butterflies in his stomach. He wasn't sure why, but he paid no mind to them, convincing himself that it was the hunger. 

"Hey, aren't you supposed to be with your family or something? It's the weekend." Dazai's eyes met the ocean blue ones, looking at them, feeling like the ocean itself was consuming him.

"No. I don't like being with my family, and my family doesn't like being with me, so it's a win-win scenario." Chuuya frowned for a moment and then shrugged, going back to whoever he was texting, presumably his father. 

"Why aren't you with your Dad?"

"Because today was the only day I could move in. Plus, my Dad thought it would be nice for me to get to know my stupid ass roommate."

"Aw! I'm so flattered!" Dazai giggled as he grumbled, not moving his eyes from his phone.

"Are you texting about me?" 

"No!" Dazai smirked. He had guessed correctly that Chuuya was already talking about how impossible he was. In a way, he did feel flattered by it.

"Is it your Dad?"

"Why do you want to know so much, huh?" Chuuya finally put down his phone, glaring at the brunette.

"Just asking." Dazai laid his head back on the pillow, smelling the laundry detergent that oozed from it. It didn't smell like Chuuya's, neither did it have that same warmth. Usually, he wouldn't wash his bedding because he was clueless on how to work the laundry machines and would trick one of the girls or boys he flirted with to do them for him, but perhaps he might have Chuuya do them since, he thought, that he might have a secret to making it feel so lovely. 

"What does your Dad do?" Chuuya didn't mind this question.

"He's a ballet instructor." 

"Well, that's interesting. Does he dance as well? Is he famous back in France?" Dazai was intrigued now.

"Yeah, he used to dance. I don't know if he was famous, but he did have a lot of pictures in papers and stuff." Chuuya answered.

"Why'd he stop dancing?" Chuuya was reluctant to answer, unsure why Dazai wanted to know so much. He ultimately decided to answer.

"He got injured during a performance he was doing, so he couldn't do much anymore." Dazai nodded his head. Chuuya picked up his phone again, texting away.

"Is your father a good instructor?" Chuuya turned his head away from his phone, shrugging.

"I guess. He taught me a few dances. Why are you interested in taking ballet or something?"

"No, I just think it's interesting, that's all." Chuuya let out a small chuckle. It was nice to hear, something Dazai wouldn't mind hearing all the time.

"Well, I'll tell him my stupid asshole roommate wants to take ballet lessons." A smile stretched upon the redhead's face, making Dazai's chest feel heavy. 

Dazai could see Chuuya's admiration for his father as he talked about him. He could see the happiness he felt as he spoke about him. 

"Aw, I knew Chuuya would talk about me to his father!" Dazai said dramatically.

Chuuya clicked his tongue, looking at Dazai once more. "It's not supposed to be a good thing, dumbass." 

"What about your family, huh? Since you want to know so much about mine." Dazai sat up, crossing his legs. It would only be fair for him to tell him some information about his life since he told him his.

"Well, there's really not much to say. I don't get along with my family. I get good grades and keep up a good act so they can get off my back, and I don't have to see them, that's that." Chuuya guffawed at his response.

"Good act? Ha! Yeah, right." He walked over to his bed, laying on it again, positioning his head to look at Dazai. It felt foreign to Dazai to watch someone his age engage with him in a conversation, someone his age who actually seemed interested in what he had to say despite being annoyed at everything that came out of his mouth. 

"I can be good!" Dazai dramatically gasped. Chuuya snickered at his response, making Dazai laugh in return. It had been a while since he could laugh without someone making a joke to him genuinely. For the first time, he felt like a kid, not some prodigy that Mori took under his wing. Not some out-of-control kid. Not some sad kid who didn't know his place in life. For once, he was happy, smiling, laughing at someone who looked lively. Who made him feel lively in return. 

"God, you're a real piece of work!" Chuuya laughed loudly, making it the loudest roar that Dazai had ever heard from another kid. He then realized that Chuuya had always been able to laugh. It was the laugh from someone who was always laughing and always loudly speaking his mind. A slight feeling of envy arose in Dazai, making him want what Chuuya had. He wanted that same livelihood that he had. Something in Dazai's stomach felt weird, like a mixture of butterflies flying into a dark bottomless pit of envy, yet they will not die there. They will only grow stronger and more prominent as he spends more time with him. It was strange. 

The boys talked all day, playing silly games with one another. Dazai constantly annoyed him, becoming familiar with his touch as he grabbed his collar whenever he got angry. That night, the first night, Dazai stayed awake as he saw the redheaded boy sleep soundly, the moonlight hitting his face, his red hair mixing well with the blue tinge from the night. This was it. This was what Dazai had wanted to paint. But he couldn't do it. He refused to look away from the snoring boy as he crazily rolled around in his bed. It was such a vile sight that Dazai refused to look away, studying his breathing…

"Such a nuisance." Dazai then closed his eyes, drowsiness overcoming his body as he drifted to sleep thinking of one thing and one thing only— Chuuya. 

Chapter Text

The sunlight peered out of the window, hitting Dazai's face. He groaned, spinning his body away from the light, feeling his head pounding from his excessive drinking the previous night. He pushed his body up, crawling to the corner of his futon, wincing in pain from the cuts on his arm that he had inflicted on himself days prior. 

 

He grabbed a half-empty bottle of whisky, taking a big gulp, letting the brown liquor sting down his throat. He rubbed his eyes, smelling the paint residue left on his fingertips. He took out a cigarette, placing it in between his lips, lighting it as smoke filled his lungs. He didn't want to go to work today— instead, he didn't want to work at all— but he knew that it would be best to get ready before Kunikida called, yelling at the top of his lungs to get to work. He inhaled again, letting the nicotine rush through his brain, taking away his headache instantly. 

 

Just as he was about to get up from the floor, his phone began to ring. ' Great .' Dazai said to himself. He crawled back to his futon, letting out a dull groan from the pain in his arm as he retrieved the noisy phone from under the covers.   

 

"Hello!" Dazai sang in a cheerful voice, despite how he was feeling.

 

"Dazai, where the hell are you?!" Dazai held in a groan as he winced at Kunikida's yelling, which induced his headache to come back again.   

 

"I'm sorry, Kunikida. I'm not feeling too well this morning." Kunikida sighed. Dazai could feel the man grip on his pen and notebook in irritation.

 

"I don't care how hungover you are, you lazy bastard. Hurry up and get to work!" The line was cut off. Now, Dazai for sure didn't want to go to work today.

 

Chuuya moaned in pain from his throbbing headache. He rubbed his eyes to relieve the pain, but it didn't seem to do the trick. He sat up from his bed, rubbing the temples of his head, desperately to relieve the pain. As soon as he felt in control again, he got ready to start his day. His movements were slow as he got ready, being overcome with fatigue. He didn't want to go to work today. He just wanted to sleep. But, of course, he didn't want to make a fool out of Mori. He had to be there at the concert hall, no matter how tired he was. 

 

Chuuya dressed in his suit, tightening his choker around his neck, sighing from the memories it held with a particular person. He then placed the fedora his father had given him before he died. Chuuya took one last look in the mirror, painting a smile on his face. But no matter how many times he tried to smile, it looked unnatural now. He took a deep breath, taking out a vial filled with white powder. He undid the lid, taking a large scoop of the cocaine, harshly sniffing the substance. He exhaled, closing the vial and placing it back into his pocket. The cocaine rushed to his brain, instantly making him feel lighter and happier. He looked in the mirror once more, placing a smile back on his face again. This time, it didn't look so unnatural. 

 

Dazai felt dizzy under the sun, blinding him as he walked to the gallery. It was owned by Fukazawa, who had hired him as their gallerist and own personal painter. He sold many paintings, bringing a good name to the gallery and his own. Many people described his paintings as provocative yet romantic while also being so gut-wrenching. Many of his paintings were abstract and modern impressionism. Yet, they all consisted of the same thing— a certain redhead with deep blue eyes. He hated that it was always him. He hated how he was the only thing he could paint without hating it. He would try to paint different things— nature, furniture, even Oda, who had long been dead. It angered Dazai the most that he couldn't paint Oda because it meant he would forever be lost as a memory, losing him as time passed. In a way, he was even resentful towards Chuuya for being the only inspiration, despite him leaving years ago. 

 

He walked into the gallery, feeling the fresh air conditioning hit his face, feeling better. He no longer wanted to throw up, but that wouldn't last long. The gallery was naked, stripped from the previous paintings, getting ready for the newest showcasing within a few weeks. Dazai quietly looked around as he heard the yelling coming his way. He forced a childish smile while seeing the tall angry blonde man coming his way.

 

"You're late!" Kunikida gripped tighter on his notebook and pen.

 

"I told you that I wasn't feeling well, Kunikida," Dazai whined, pouting his lips.

 

"I don't give a damn. The boss wants to know if you have any paintings you want in the showcase?" 

 

"Kunikida couldn't ask me this through the phone? I could've been in bed asleep." Kunikida growled, opening his book.

 

"You're scheduled to work today, you lazy bastard. Anyway, is it a yes or no?" Kunikida waited for his answer.

 

"Yes, of course." Dazai sighed as if he was relieved, yet he was even more on edge, feeling the pressure build in him. 

 

"Good, bring them in tomorrow. And don't be late and get to work!" Kunikida disappeared, Dazai walking to the back where the rest of his colleagues were. Yosano sat beside Ranpo, talking about the latest gossip as he ate snacks. His eyes glanced over to Atsushi, who was concentrating on his work. But what kind of mentor would Dazai be without distracting him. 

 

"Oh, Atsushi!" Dazai chanted, walking over to him. The young man turned around; his eyes looked tired and frustrated.

 

"Oh hey, Dazai" Atsushi's lips stretched into a smile, greeting the man.

 

"Atsushi, you shouldn't overwork yourself too much. I heard that's how you get bald." Atsushi reached for his hair nervously. Dazai walked over to his desk, conveniently next to Atsushi's, spinning around in his chair, not even bothering to turn on his computer.

 

"Do you really think I'll go–"

 

"I'm kidding! I won't let work destroy any hair on Atsushi's head." Dazai childishly smiled, patting Atsushi's head. Atsushi groaned, taking his attention back to his work, yet Dazai was not done.

 

"Do you have any paintings for the showcasing coming up?" Atsushi sighed, shaking his head.

 

"I don't know. I don't really think they're good enough." Dazai stopped putting on his childish face, molding it into a genuine smile. He understood that Atsushi didn't have that much confidence in himself. Still, Dazai tried to change that— even when he pretended not to take it so seriously.

 

"Listen, Atsushi, art is supposed to make you feel naked and vulnerable. I know it can be difficult, but you never know, someone out there might actually like it, or maybe a million people will like it. You never know." Dazai continued to spin on his chair, beginning to feel like he was about to throw up. He came to a halt, trying to hold it in. 

 

"Yeah, I know… How were you able to do it? Every time I look at your paintings, I can't help but think you're painting someone that you once knew. Like I'm seeing the beauty they hold in the lenses of your eyes… Were they so beautiful that you couldn't stop painting them?" Dazai was stunned. He never really expressed the true nature of his paintings— sometimes, he didn't even know either. Some people always assumed it had extreme connotations, which probably was true. Still, it was more out of love, beauty, and the nastiness of love in general. Chuuya always displayed emotions in such a way that it was hard for Dazai to forget how he would react to certain things— the way he smiled when he saw a dog, the way he laughed when Dazai said something absurd, or then he got angry at Dazai for annoying him. Little memories didn't leave his mind as he thought of him. Dazai would often catch himself thinking of him, wondering how he was doing. Sometimes, he would stalk him on social media to see how he had been where he traveled to. But it pained Dazai while looking at how unnatural he looked— even his smile didn't look the same anymore. 

 

"Dazai? Dazai?" Dazai snapped out of his thoughts, looking back at Atsushi, and placed his kid-like smile back on. He was no longer nauseous.

 

"You'll find inspiration soon, Atsushi. I know you will." Dazai left it that, turning around to face his computer, doing the unthinkable— he turned on his computer. 

 

Chuuya walked into the concert hall, smiling at everyone who greeted him until he looked at the man with the large circle-shaped glasses.

 

"Good morning, Chuuya." Ango greeted him. Chuuya glared at him.

 

"Fuck off." Ango hummed, turning back to his work. At the same time, Chuuya walked off into the auditorium, where the rest of the orchestra awaited his arrival. As soon as he walked in, the orchestra got in their places. Akutagawa took his place on the piano bench as Gin, Tachihara, and Higuchi took their places on percussion. Chuuya smiled at them, taking a glance at the empty audience seats to only see two people— Kouyou and Mori, smiling down at him in approval. Chuuya flipped through the sheets of music, taking the baton in his hand and raising it. He looked at the orchestra once more, waiting for his command in anticipation, twisting a smirk on his face.

 

"From the top." He announced, striking the baton down, letting the music commence. 

 

Chuuya felt like he was floating every time he heard the sounds of music intertwine into a beautiful symphony. The echoes of notes rang through his ear, feeling the vibrations of music on his fingertips with every way of his hands. He felt at peace as the sounds followed the movements of his swaying hands. His heart began to beat fast like he was on a rollercoaster, like he was about to fall into something exhilarating and profound. Yet, no matter how fulfilling and peaceful it was, it brought him immense pain. It electrified him to the point of pleasurable pain. He was unsure whether he should love it or hate it. It confused him, but as the music stopped, he found himself wanting more like it was a continual story that was put to a stop. His heart sank to his stomach, looking at the orchestra.

 

"Perfect. Gin, just try to keep up with the tempo." She nodded her head. 

 

"Back to the top." Chuuya raised his hand, bringing it back down to hear the music echo once more. 

 

After hours of rehearsal, perfection was finally achieved. Chuuya was sighing in exhaustion to himself, watching as one musician left after another. 

 

"Chuuya. Excellent work." Chuuya turned to the sound of Mori's voice coming towards him. He smiled, bowing his head.

 

"Thanks, Boss."

 

"Yes, it was a good rehearsal." Kouyou acknowledged.

 

"Yes, although, I do have to add," Mori began. Chuuya's heart sank as he heard the words come out of his mouth. He always strived for perfection, even if it was already perfect, pushing himself and the rest of the orchestra to go above and beyond.

 

"You are lacking a bit. Your timing was a bit off on the fifth staff, and I could tell you hesitated a bit when addressing your concerns… Hm." Chuuya could tell what Mori was thinking, but he didn't let it get to him.

 

"I'll do better." Mori smiled at him, walking out the door, Kouyou following him— though Chuuya knew that she wanted to give him a reassuring look. Chuuya found himself alone in the auditorium, sighing. Anger began to fill him, kicking his music stand as a result. He took another deep breath, standing for a moment, before picking the music stand and the sheets that fell with it back up again.

 

He walked out, going straight into the bathroom. He locked himself in the stall, pulling out his vial from his pocket, taking three long inhales of the powder, bringing him back. He put the vial away, wiping away any excess from his nose. He walked out, looking at himself in the mirror, smiling to himself. He stopped as soon as he heard the bathroom door swing open, seeing Tachihara.

 

"Hey, Chuuya." 

 

"Hey." Chuuya turned the knob on the sink, washing his hands. 

 

"So, Hirotsu and I were planning to go to the bar and get wasted if you want to join."

 

"Nah. I have plans later." He lied.

 

“Ah c’mon. I’ll even drag Akutagawa.” 

 

"As tempting as that sounds, I can't." Chuuya began to get annoyed.

 

"C'mon, Chuuya, it'll be—"

 

"Fuck off, Tachihara! I don't wanna fucking go!" Tachihara's face went still. Chuuya immediately regretted his words.

 

"Listen…" Chuuya walked up to him, grabbing his shoulders. He could tell that Tachihara was hurt. He only wanted to make his friend feel better, hang out and have fun like they used to.

 

"I'm sorry. I'm just stressed out, okay?" Tachihara didn't say anything. He pursed his lips together, nodding his head at Chuuya. 

 

"I'll go next time." Chuuya patted his shoulders, leaving the restroom. He didn't want to go home, though, yet he didn't want to be surrounded by his friends at the moment. ' I guess I'll go for a walk. ' Chuuya said to himself. He walked out of the concert hall, lighting a cigarette as he aimlessly walked towards wherever his legs took him. 

 

Dazai hurled into the toilet for the second time that day, groaning in disgust. He flushed the toilet, walking out to the sink to rinse his mouth and slashing his face with the cold water. 

 

"Jesus, you look like shit." Dazai didn't need to look at who was talking to know it was Ranpo.

 

"Yeah." Dazai leaned over the sinking, preparing himself to stand up straight.

 

"I came bearing gifts from Yosano." Ranpo tossed him a small box of medicine to relieve his stomach. Dazai took it, opened it, and took the medication immediately.

 

"Thanks." 

 

"No need. Although, you would still be feeling like crap if I didn't point it out to Yosano." Dazai chuckled a bit, standing himself up.

 

"You are the best, Ranpo." Dazai patted his shoulder.

 

"I am, aren't I?" Ranpo smiled, walking out of the restroom alongside Dazai. 

 

Dazai and Ranpo walked to their own desks. Dazai peeked at the clock, waiting to clock out. As soon as the clock struck, Dazai gathered his things, saying his goodbyes, heading towards the door in a hurry, bumping into a small figure.

 

"Oi, watch it, ass—" A redhead with blue eyes looked at him, watching as the seven stages of grief hit him all at once. Dazai took one more look at him before realizing it was him— Chuuya. Many things were going on in his head, many questions he wanted to ask, but there was only one thing Dazai could say.

 

"Oh, it's you." It seemed like the man did not get past the anger stage, watching as the fire within his eyes grew in a fury.

 

"Well, nice to see you again, but—" Before Dazai could say anything, a strong force hit his face, striking his jaw, making him fall onto the floor. He expected this much from Chuuya. In all honesty, Dazai had always pictured their first meeting to be this way, knowing that if he ever saw him again, this would be the result. 

 

Chuuya laid his foot on his chest, looking down on him. 

 

"Dazai!" Dazai turned his head to see Atsushi coming out the door, looking at him with a worrisome expression.

 

"I'm okay. Just go home. I'll be fine." Dazai assured.

 

"But—"

 

"It's fine, Atsushi." Dazai was not worried at all, which somewhat put him at ease, but he still didn't want him with the familiar stranger hovering over him.

 

"You better leave, kid," Chuuya said, not taking his angry eyes off of Dazai. 

 

"Go, Atsushi." Dazai was smiling, looking at the redhead, tasting the blood on his lips. He could hear Atsushi's hesitant footsteps shift further away from them until they both could no longer listen to him.

 

"You fucking, asshole." Chuuya still looked angry, yet his eyes became shallow, filled with sadness. He took his foot off his chest, lending a hand to help him up. Dazai was hesitant for a moment.

 

"Are you going to take it or not, shitface?" Dazai huffed out a laugh, taking the hand into his. It electrified him— both of them— sending small shocks to their hearts. Chuuya pulled him up, looking up at the man. 

 

"Don't fucking tell me you got taller…." Dazai's smile grew wider.

 

"Oh, but I have. And it seems like you stayed the same height since…." Dazai stopped the words from coming out of his mouth. There was a moment of silence between them.

 

"Since you left." Chuuya finished off. They looked at each other again, their hearts accelerating. Both the men thought that their hearts were going to jump out at any moment. Chuuya then looked away from Dazai's gaze. Dazai could have sworn he saw his eyes grow watery, yet he didn't say a word.

 

"Did you get my gift?" Dazai foolishly asked.

 

"No," Chuuya said dryly, walking away. Dazai followed behind him.

 

"You didn't? I could have sworn I left it on your pillow the night I left." Chuuya knew precisely what he was talking about— a ring with Dazai's name on it. 

 

"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about." Chuuya lied, although no lie he said could get past Dazai, but he played along.

 

"Really? Aw, man. And I actually spent so much money on that thing." Chuuya wanted to turn around and yell at him. To tell him that it wasn't just 'something.' To ask why he had left without a goodbye. To ask why he even left him at all. But he didn't; he merely walked as Dazai followed next to him.

 

"Can you leave me alone?" Dazai grabbed onto his wrist, stopping Chuuya from walking any further. Chuuya rolled his eyes, waiting for Dazai to say something.

 

"It's been a while. Why don't I buy you a drink?" Butterflies fluttered into Chuuya's stomach, wanting to let out a cry. Still, he just looked into the dark eyes, watching as the glint of light sparked into them, like a light at the end of a tunnel. Dazai smiled, watching the blue eyes filling his heart with want and desire.

 

"Whatever." Chuuya complied, turning away from him as Dazai dragged him to wherever. Though Chuuya feels like he should regret agreeing, he doesn't. He watched Dazai happily drag him around the city, not letting go of his hand. Chuuya takes a deep breath.

 

' Just for one night… Just this once.'

Chapter Text

Dazai shifted in his bed, hearing faint rummaging in the background. It didn’t sound like Chuuya’s snoring. It was relatively quiet, hearing drawers close quietly. Dazai opened his eyes, moving his head to see what the redhead was doing. He watched as the boy leaned near the open window with a cigarette in his mouth. It couldn’t have been anymore seven in the morning. The sky was a dull blue, with no sun in sight, but Chuuya looked out into the garden, up at the sky, looking as if the sun was going to jump out at any minute.

 

“What are you doing up? It’s…” Dazai reached for his phone to reveal that he was correct— it was 5:30 in the morning.

 

“It’s 5:30… This is why you’re so short, you know— you don’t get enough rest.” Chuuya growled, clicking his tongue and taking a drag from the almost finished cigarette. Dazai got up, wrapping the blanket around him, walking towards the redhead. He took the cigarette away from him, bringing it to his own lips.

 

“Hey, get your own!” 

 

“Shh. People are sleeping… Best if you keep quiet.” Dazai winked, stealing a drag. Chuuya would be lying if he somewhat found it charming, but he didn’t care for it. He rolled his eyes, taking out another cigarette and lighting it. For a moment, they stared at the garden in silence, patiently waiting for the sky to turn a yellow-orange color, but it seemed to take a while for it to show. 

 

“Are you nervous?” Chuuya turned his attention to the bandaged boy, who was letting the cigarette hang loose on his lips. A sensation ran through Chuuya’s spine as he saw this, making me feel his stomach going into knots. 

 

“What? About school? Nah.” Chuuya looked back at the sky, tapping his fingers on the window sill as if he had some song stuck in his mind. Dazai knew he was lying.  

 

“Well, aren’t you confident? But just to give you a warning, these kids are brutal, like they come from rich families who have been rich for generations and that live in two-parent households. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to pick on you.” Dazai didn’t know why he said this, but something in him made him want to keep Chuuya to himself. However, he wasn’t wrong about the other students being pretentious snobs. But instead of getting the reaction he had hoped for, Chuuya just smirked.

 

“Then what does that make you?” The blue eyes looked at him with such playfulness it made Dazai smirk back at him.

 

“Well, I’m different. I’m not like these assholes. If I was an asshole, I would’ve let you go in blind.” Chuuya rolled his eyes, turning back to the garden and the sky. 

 

“I can handle myself, shithead.” This seemed to put him at ease, letting his fingers stop tapping on the window sill. 

 

“I’m sure you can.” There was a hint of flirtation within his voice, leaning against the window sill staring at him. But it was different, different from the usual reactions Dazai was used to. He looked into his eyes, lifting an eyebrow at him as if he didn’t have any effect on him. Still, Chuuya was submerged and riled up that he wanted to either punch or kiss that devilish smirk off his face. 

 

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” The sun began to rise, letting the morning glow hit the room, their faces lighting up as he looked into each other’s eyes.

 

“Whatever you want it to mean.” Chuuya began to chuckle, leaving Dazai speechless, but he could still contain his calm exterior.

 

“I bet that works with all the ladies.” Chuuya smashed his cigarette onto the ashtray he had in the corner of the window, taking Dazai’s and doing the same. 

 

Chuuya turned to get ready, taking off his shirt revealing his bare upper body.

 

“Not just the ladies.” Dazai quickly glanced at Chuuya’s bare skin, looking back into his eyes. The azure eyes looked back at him.

 

“You have a problem with that?” Dazai gulped at his own words. He was never afraid of outing himself, but for some reason, he was scared, as if he was standing before his father. But smiled, looking away from him as he continued to get ready.

 

“Heh. Not in the slightest. I was raised by a gay man, a single parent, and a ballet instructor, who taught me about queer theory as soon as I could tell the difference between left and right. And gender norms and toxic masculinity are a big no in my household.” Dazai felt like there was a weight off his shoulders. The only other person to fully accept him was Oda, but it was different for someone his own age to accept him. Everyone had assumed that Dazai just did it for attention because they thought he was indecisive, but the other students he flirted and dated didn’t care, not because they accepted him, but because they were just as lonely as him, trying to fill a void.

 

“I’m also gay… You got a problem with that?” Dazai snapped out of his train of thought. Chuuya’s words echoed in his ears. Dazai smirked at him, walking toward him, placing a hand under his chin, lifting his head to make eye contact with him. Dazai almost lost himself in his eyes, watching his reflection. 

 

“As long as you don’t fall for me.” Dazai could have sworn he saw a blush coming from Chuuya’s cheeks, but before he could look long enough, he turned his head, pushing Dazai’s hand away.

 

“Ew. I’d rather die.” Dazai looked away from him, feeling a sense of regret.

 

“I know. That’s why I said it. I’d rather die than have someone like you falling for me.” Dazai began to get ready, pushing aside the rejection to the back of his brain. But something stung in his heart. He had never felt so rejected like this. It wouldn’t be the first time he had been rejected, but this was the first time he actually felt like he was trying to get someone to pay attention to him. 

 

Dazai began to get himself ready, but he could not help but take glances at Chuuya. He looked back at Chuuya, who was rummaging through his closet to pick out nice uniform pants and shirt. Dazai looked at him as if he was dumb for doing so since it was all the same to him.

 

Chuuya began to hum a tune to himself. It made Dazai feel weak to hear him sing. His heartfelt like it was about to burst as he listened to the song that Chuuya was humming, watching as the redhead put on his clothes and the morning sun grew brighter upon him. He was so beautiful that Dazai wanted to throw up from the sight. It was so disgustingly beautiful that no words could comprehend such a thing. 

 

“Ugh, so noisy,” Dazai commented. 

 

Chuuya bolted his head towards Dazai, looking at him in such shock. “Noise? Noise? Queen is not noise?” Dazai frowned at him, confused about what he meant or what he was talking about in general.

 

“Queen?” Chuuya looked closer at him, trying to see if he was actually serious— he was. 

 

“You’ve never heard of the band Queen? Don’t your parents listen to any old Rock music? Have they never had a rebellion phase before?” Chuuya was half-joking, but he was clueless, judging from Dazai’s face.

 

“No.” Dazai’s face stood still, yet he felt like he was missing something, like everyone else knew the butt of the joke, except for him. 

 

“Have you been living under a rock or something?” Chuuya rhetorically asked. Dazai knew this, yet he couldn’t help but think of how his parents never truly gave him an identity besides being their son. He had been living under a rock— his parents’ rock. They never allowed him to explore or indulge in things that they didn’t see fit or that would potentially ruin their reputation. 

 

“Not everyone has such a free lifestyle like you, short-stack.” Dazai turned back, smirking to himself, feeling the anger that filled the other boy when he called him ‘short.’

 

“What is up with you and my size, huh? I’m fifteen and still growing!” 

 

“Yeah, sure, whatever you say.” Dazai waved his hand in dismissal, not taking Chuuya seriously. 

 

“Fucking bastard. Son of a bitch.” Chuuya muttered under his breath. Dazai, however, caught every word, his smile growing even more comprehensive, but he wouldn’t dare show it. 

 

“Okay, fine. But you’ve at least heard of other Rock bands, right?” Dazai shook his head again. He began to feel like he was knowledgeable in many aspects of life now like he had missed out on many things. Maybe he wasn’t as familiar as he thought himself to believe. 

 

“What!? I’m gonna have to teach you a thing or two about music. I thought you were in the orchestra?”

 

“I am, but only classical music.” Chuuya gave a distuged face.

 

“Listen, I like classical music too, but you have to expand your taste buds… Your parents must really suck if they never taught you about the wonderful genre of Rock music and only classical music.” Dazai couldn’t help but feel like he was right.

 

“My parents thought Rock music would lead to homosexuality or rebellion or something like that.” It wasn’t supposed to be funny, but Chuuya laughed anyway.

 

“Well, I guess that’s why my Dad and I like it so much! Jesus… Your parents are fucking homophobic pricks.” Dazai began to laugh as well. No one really dared talk about his parents that way aloud. But Chuuya was fearless, and Dazai envied that about him, but at the same time, he admired it.

 

“Listen, later tonight, I’m gonna teach you the world of Rock music, passed down from my father to me and now me to you.” Dazai nodded his head, watching as the redhead left for the bathroom to wash up. 

 

Dazai had never felt so small before. It angered him, but in the most satisfying way. It was strange; he was angry but delighted that he was at that. He was finally unknowing of something in his life, which angered him so much and made him feel out of place.

 

Dazai sat on the piano bench, watching Chuuya surrounded by giggling girls and boys swinging their arms around him. He clenched his fist, watching as the smile stretched on the other boy’s face. Dazai wanted to desperately push every boy touching him, to shoo away any girl who even dared to smile his way. Dazai wanted to wipe that happy smile off of his face, enraged as he heard him laughing along with the others. He wanted to desperately leap from the piano bench, to take his hand to get away from them. He wanted him all to himself. But, of course, he didn’t. He took out his phone and began to text Oda.

 

Wanna hang out later ?’ Dazai typed, awaiting Oda’s response. He looked back at Chuuya, hearing him talk about the places he traveled to, the languages he speaks. Dazai hated how confident he was, casually chatting and boasting himself as if he was some well-accomplished person with many talents. He also had many skills, but Dazai never showed off. He really hated that smile on Chuuya’s face. His phone buzzed in his hand.

 

Sure .’ Dazai smiled, putting his phone away and watching the boy talk to his new friends. Dazai’s heart began to feel heavy, slowly sinking into his stomach. He wanted to be the only one. He didn’t wish Chuuya to laugh like that with anyone else except with him. 

 

Mori stepped into the class along with his right hand— Kouyou. Everyone took their places as he walked, looking at Chuuya.

 

“Students! I want to introduce you to the newest addition of the orchestra.” Mori stared at Chuuya, a signal to tell him to introduce himself to the group. Chuuya raised himself in confidence that it disgusted Dazai to even look at him.

 

“I’m Nakahara Chuuya.” He sat back down, but Mori wasn’t finished with him just yet.

 

“Nakahara. Care to play us something?” It was a question, but everyone knew it was a command; even Chuuya could tell he had no choice but to comply.

 

Chuuya stood back up, taking his violin, displaying himself to the rest of the orchestra. He didn’t seem nervous at all; he looked like he did this many times before, turning his violin as he brought the instrument under his chin, positioning his fingers. He began to play.  Sonata III in C Major, BWV 1005: IV. Allegro assai  by Bach. Dazai watched as Chuuya started to play, his eyes closed, showing how well he knew this song like the back of his hand, oozing out confidence as he played. He looked so beautiful. His arms swaying with the music, his fingers gently but firmly pressed on each string. Dazai dug his nails into his knees, watching as someone so beautiful and so elegant, yet so loud and vibrant, could easily play such a tune. Dazai felt anger and envy filling every inch of his damned soul, yet, despite that, he smiled. He smiled so warmly, just looking at him. It made him feel like he was on edge, about to combust from such a beautiful sight. He wanted to paint him like this. He wanted to so desperately reach for a paper and pencil and sketch the beautiful live art that was before him. It made his heartache, sending shivers down his spine, making him tremble in anger and delight. Dazai snapped out of it once he heard the applause roar through the room, girls squealing and boys blushing out of both jealousy and admiration. 

 

“My, that was very beautiful. Not a missed or flawed note. Well done!” Mori seemed amazed, himself, that such a young boy could know something so challenging to play without hesitation. 

 

“You’re just as good as Dazai.” Chuuya looked at Dazai. They stared at each other blankly for a moment, looking back to Mori.

 

“But his main focus is the piano, but I do have plans now for a violin and piano duo for the both of you,” Mori smirked evilly as the thought crept into his brain. Chuuya and Dazai glanced at each other, not showing any emotion as they heard these words, but inside, they were protesting, but they wouldn’t dare say otherwise. Chuuya took his seat, and the class continued on.

 

“God, Oda, you should have seen that Slug playing. It’s like he was Bach himself, reincarnated for a moment to play that stupid song. He was so disgusting, looking like he was the shit just because he knows how to play Bach. I know how to play Bach, too! You don’t see me acting like an overconfident prick about it.” Oda hummed, rearranging his cards as he heard Dazai complain about his roommate. 

 

“And don’t get me started on the way he looked! He had this gentle aura around him, like a fucking angel, but let me tell you, he’s not! If he and I were alone, I can 100 percent guarantee that he would be yelling at the top of his lungs, saying, ‘Shut the hell up, Dazai. You’re annoying, you asshole. Stop touching me. Stop looking at me like that. Stop telling me not to fall for you, you dumbass.’ Like seriously, he played everyone around him, acting so angelic, when actually he’s a monster.” 

 

“You in?” Oda asked, pointing at his cards. Dazai took a moment to look through his cards.

 

“Goldfish.” Oda looked at him blankly.

 

“We’re playing poker, Dazai.” 

 

“Fold, then.” Oda took a swig from his flask, claiming his prize of a button that Dazai swore was lucky— though Oda knew it was a lie— a plastic ring, two lollipops, and a rewards card for an ice cream shop.

 

“Jesus, like his confidence nauseates me. You should have heard him this morning, lecturing me about the different types of music there was in the world.”

 

“Didn’t you say that he came here because of the music program?” Oda took another sip, shuffling the cards for the next round.

 

“Yeah, but still. Like you listen to old ass music foreign music. I bet you that he can’t even speak the language.”

 

“Well, he might. As Mori puts it, this is a prestigious academy, only for diamonds. And even if he didn’t, music can impact emotion no matter if you understand a certain language or not.” Oda explained. Dazai took Oda’s flask, but before Oda could take it back, Dazai was already gulping down the scotch, the liquor stinging his throat. 

 

“You’re supposed to be on my side, Oda!” Oda hummed, putting away the pack of cards since he came to the conclusion that poker wasn’t on Dazai’s mind for tonight.

 

“Just look at all those posters and ugly decor! Ugh!” Oda looked at the pile of books on the desk and posters plastered on the wall.

 

“He seems lively like he’s lived a life full of fun… Good for him.” 

 

“What?! No way, this is a life full of… I don’t know, but it’s too noisy and loud for my taste.”

 

“How do you know if you’ve never tried it before?” Dazai was about to answer, but a slam at the door distracted both Oda and him. 

 

“Oh shit. Sorry, didn’t know you had company over.” 

 

“No, it’s fine. I’m Oda. I’m a friend of Dazai’s.” Chuuya nodded his head.

 

“I’m Chuuya.” Oda had to admit, Chuuya up close was more beautiful than Dazai had described— although he didn’t use the word ‘beautiful,’ but Oda knew he wanted to use it— like a painting or sculpture in a museum. He understood how Dazai was so obsessed with him in such a short amount of time.

 

“Do you mind?” Chuuya pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Oda shook his head.

 

“You never asked me if you could smoke!” Dazai butted in.

 

“That’s because I don’t need permission from a bastard like you!” Chuuya opened the window, flickering his lighter to his cigarette hanging from his mouth. Dazai stared at him, watching him inhale the smoke so elegantly, so refined. Oda caught him staring, looking back at Chuuya, watching him for a moment, then turning his attention back to Dazai. He had gotten the hint that not only was he obsessed with him, but he was so immersed in his every doing, no matter how simple it was. He could see Dazai breathing heavily, clenching his fist.

 

“I think I better go.”

 

“No. I want to keep playing poker. Pipsqueak, you want to play?” Chuuya looked back at them, raising his eyebrow as if he was too good to play such silly games with them, but that was merely Dazai’s thought. In actuality, Chuuya was intrigued by the offer, suspicious of Dazai’s motive. 

 

“Fuck it. I’m in.” Chuuya squashed out his cigarette, sitting on the floor with the two others. Oda took the cards out again, shuffling them and distributing them. 

 

“So, what are we putting as a bet?” Oda asked. Dazai took out a handkerchief his father had given him. Oda took out a gift card. Chuuya placed a guitar pick that he had in his pocket.

 

“Oh, but I want one more thing to add,” Dazai announced with a devilish smirk on his face. Oda had figured this was coming when he had asked Chuuya to play, but he just complied, pursing his lips. 

 

“What.” Chuuya seemed to figure it out too but was not going to back out now.

 

“If Chuuya loses, at any given point of time, he has to be my dog for the rest of our lives.”

 

“What! How cocky of you to fucking assume that I’ll be in your life forever!” 

 

“Aw, is Chuuya backing out? I would have never taken you for a quitter.”

 

“I’m not! And I’m going to win, just to prove to your sorry ass that I’m not.” 

 

“Alright then, shall we begin?” Oda quietly nodded his head, beginning the game.

 

“That’s bull shit! You cheated!” Chuuya explained, pointing a finger in Dazai’s face.

 

“I would never cheat.” Dazai gasped at the sudden accusation, but Oda knew that he would cheat if he really wanted something, and Chuuya seemed to be that. 

 

“Man fuck this!” Chuuya threw the cards in the middle of the circle and went back to the window to smoke another cigarette. 

 

“Well, I think I should take my leave now,” Oda said, but neither of the two boys seemed to notice.

 

“Aw, giving up already? It was just getting good.” Chuuya clicked his tongue.

 

“Fuck off, you fucking waste of perfectly good air!” Oda mindlessly roamed his eyes around the room, looking at Chuuya’s room as the two bickered. His eyes bounced back and forth, watching the two boys continuing their miscellaneous argument. Oda sighed, gathering the cards and putting them away in the pack, stuffing it in his pocket, along with his flask. He quietly walked towards the door, stepping into the empty hallway. He walked out the door, thinking about one thing. ‘ He’s so in love with him .’ 

 

“You’re so annoying! You cheated. Just admit it!” 

 

“I didn’t! Just ask Oda!” The two boys looked around the room, realizing that they were alone.

 

“See, you drove Oda away!” Dazai whined.

 

“Did not, you did!” Chuuya flicked Dazai’s forehead, quietly smoking his cigarette. They stayed there for a moment until Chuuya went back to talking.

 

“So you’ve never listened to any other music besides classical?” Chuuya still couldn’t believe it. Dazai glared at him.

 

“Of course, you haven’t. Your parents have a personal vendetta against music and homosexuality. Do they even know you’re bi?”

 

“Yeah. My father caught me sneaking around with this boy, but of course, I was forced to never see him again. I ended up being homeschooled after that, then I came here.” A sad look came over Chuuya, but he didn’t say a word about his pity to him.

 

“Man, get me alone with your father, and I’ll beat the living sense into him. I’ll bet he’ll drop dead if I tell him that he got his ass beaten by the world’s raging queer.” Dazai couldn’t help but laugh. It made his heart flutter to hear that the boy he’s known for less than 72 hours was willing to fight for him and protect him from harm. 

 

“Aw, Chuuya’s already protecting his master, like the good dog he is.” Dazai patted Chuuya’s head as he growled at him.

 

“I’m not your fucking dog!” Chuuya slapped his hand away from him, grabbing onto his collar, yelling obscenities at him. Dazai knew that it was going to get him riled up, seeing the fire in his eyes as he talked down to him. For some reason, Dazai enjoyed this. He liked it when the redhead acted lively at him. He could see the pain in his eyes that were also his. It awakened something within him like he was also alive. At the moment, he was more alive than he could have ever imagined.

Chapter Text

Dazai was unsure what prompted him to drag Chuuya for a drink, but as he held his hand, he couldn’t help but feel like this was right. Chuuya had to admit, as well, that it felt like this was how it should be as well. Dazai didn’t want to even look at him, the butterflies mixing with his sinking heart. He choked on the lump in his throat, forcing it down, as they walked the streets of Yokohama, hand in hand, just like they used to. 

 

“Where the fuck are you taking me?” Chuuya asked. He could feel the smirk on Dazai’s face as he was dragging him.

 

“To a restaurant,” Dazai replied. Chuuya rolled his eyes. He knew that Dazai wasn’t going to take him out for a drink— and if he was correct, he was going to have to pay.

 

Dazai finally stopped in front of a restaurant, opening the door for Chuuya.

 

“Short people first.” Chuuya glared at the smiling man, walking into the familiar room. Chuuya looked around, realizing that Dazai had taken them to their usual restaurant that they used to go to before Dazai left him. Chuuya felt uneasy. He was unsure of Dazai’s motive or what he was even thinking about at that moment, but as he stared up at him, talking to the hostess, he couldn’t help but enjoy what this night would bring them. ‘ Even for one night ….’ Chuuya kept repeating to himself. 

 

They took their seats, being handed their menus. “Ah, I’m so sorry, Miss, but I think we might need a kid’s menu.” He said, pointing at Chuuya.

 

“Oh, shut the fuck up.” Chuuya hissed. The waitress smiled at both of them, taking out her notepad.

 

“Can I get you started with any drinks for tonight?”

 

“Yes, saké, please?” Dazai smiled at the waitress, who seemed to be blushing. Chuuya sighed, fixating his eyes back on the menu.

 

“Can I get a Cabernet Sauvignon? And leave the bottle, too.” The waitress nodded her head, taking her leave. Chuuya looked through the menu, feeling Dazai’s eyes staring a hole through his head. He looked up to see a man who looked like he was staring into some dream. Chuuya huffed, putting his menu down.

 

“What?” 

 

“Oh, nothing. Just seeing how you haven’t changed one bit.” Chuuya blankly looked at him, focusing his attention back on the menu— though he didn’t have to since it hadn’t changed that much from when he and Dazai last visited. 

 

“Well, you haven’t changed much either. Still the same old flirt from last time… Hm. Let me guess. You’re going to flirt with the waitress to score a free dessert, huh?” He glanced at Dazai, watching as his smile grew wider.

 

“Chuuya knows me too well, even after all these years.” Chuuya let out a small chuckle, shaking his head. Dazai hadn’t changed all that much.

 

The waitress returned with their drink, pouring the dark liquid into Chuuya’s wine glass. “Are you two ready to order?” She looked over to Dazai, who gave her a charming smile. Chuuya clenched his jaw, scanning the menu one last time. Many things went on in his head, trying to figure out why he would invite him— rather drag him— to dinner if he was just going to flirt right in front of him. But it shouldn’t matter, they were over, and this was just a formal goodbye— so Chuuya thought. Dazai’s words became inaudible as the thoughts in his head yelled at him until it was his turn to order.

 

“I’ll take the steak. Medium rare.” He handed the menu to the giggling waitress, grabbing hold of his wine glass and drinking all the wine in one gulp. He poured more into his glass, glancing at Dazai’s obnoxious smile. He knew what he was doing, and Chuuya was falling for it.

 

“Your hair grew longer.” Chuuya brought his fingers to his lovelock, briefly looking at the strands of hair. 

 

“Yeah, what of it?” 

 

“It looks good on you.” Dazai lingered his eyes towards the choker around his neck, letting his smile go soft. He still wore it after all those years. ‘ Such a good dog .’ Dazai said to himself, watching as Chuuya sipped on his wine.

 

“You shouldn’t drink too much. I don’t want to have to carry you back to a hotel.” Dazai jokes. Chuuya’s face turned red and slightly winced from embarrassment. 

 

“God, you’re really getting on my last nerve.” Chuuya put down his glass, glaring at Dazai. 

 

“Then why did you agree?” Chuuya had to admit, Dazai was crafty. He knew his weak points better than anyone, but no matter how much it angered Chuuya, he didn’t regret it.

 

“Because your stupid ass dragged me here.” 

 

“Not without hearing you agree.” Dazai sang, pointing his finger at him. Chuuya wanted to wipe that smirk off his face. But before he could say anything, Dazai’s face went still, like he was horrified. It confused him until he tasted the drips of blood falling into his mouth. 

 

“Oh shit.” Chuuya grabbed onto his nose, grabbing a napkin to stop the bleeding. He glanced at Dazai, watching his eyes grow in worry. 

 

“I’ll be right back.” Chuuya got up from his seat walking to the bathroom. He looked in the mirror, wiping the blood from his nose, sniffing. He heard the bathroom door open, but he didn’t pay any attention to it until he heard Dazai’s voice.

 

“You’re not dying on me, are you?” Chuuya chuckled, throwing the napkin into the trash.

 

“That’s my line.” He turned on the sink, washing away any excess blood from his nose and hands.

 

“Don’t worry too much. It happens sometimes.” Chuuya said. Dazai smiled, pretending like he was not worried. But all the years since he had known Chuuya, he had never seen him get nosebleeds unless it was forced. It was never random like this.

 

“Maybe you shouldn’t get too hot-headed. I hear that’s what makes people short, too.” 

 

“Oh, shut the hell up about my size already. It’s been years, and you still can’t come up with anything else. Heh! I thought that you were supposed to be some kind of genius.” Dazai watched him as he grabbed paper towels, wiping away the excess blood off his hands and face.

 

“Ugh, you’re doing it all wrong.” Dazai took the paper towel out of his hand, letting it run under the water before bringing it to his upper lip and chin, wiping the blood off clean. Chuuya looked at him, watching as Dazai’s eyes focused on his lips. His hands were slightly rough against his chin, his fingers were somewhat covered in paint, but nothing too noticeable— unless you paid close attention.

 

“There!” Dazai cheered, throwing the paper towel into the trash bin. Chuuya looked into the mirror, looking at his clean face. He rolled his eyes and walked towards the door, Dazai following him.

 

“A thank you would be nice.” Dazai taunted.

 

“Fuck you.” Chuuya took his seat, gulping his wine again.

 

“If you really want to.” Dazai devilishly grinned at the redhead, taking his seat across from him. Chuuya growled, pouring more wine. 

 

“I fucking hate you.”

 

“Aw, the feeling’s mutual,” Dazai said, placing his hand under his chin, leaning forward. 

 

Chuuya wanted to lash back, but the waitress caught his eyes, bringing their food to them. 

 

“This looks delicious, Miss. How kind of you….” Dazai rambled on with his charm. Chuuya sighed, digging his knife into the steak, cutting them piece by piece. He ignored Dazai and his mission of getting free dessert. Chuuya watched Dazai put on a fake smile— even after all that time, he knew the real from the unreal— talking to the blushing waitress. ‘ Vile .’ he thinks to himself, stabbing his fork into the steak. 

 

“Chuuya looks like he wants to strangle me.” Dazai teased, looking at him. Chuuya remembered those eyes. The deep darkness that they harbored. Chuuya could see his reflection. It would have intimidated any other person, but Chuuya was unfazed. It was like he was staring in a mirror, showing the unnatural state of his sober human nature. But he wouldn’t dare tell anyone about his little ‘habit.’ It was his to deal with and no one else’s matter but his own. 

 

Dazai dug into his food, chatting about what he wanted for dessert and all the options that there were. “What do you think I will get?” Chuuya finished the wine, feeling his face grow warm from the alcohol.

 

“I don’t know.” 

 

“Aw, c’mon, Chuuya.” Dazai fussed. Chuuya pinched the bridge of his nose, forcefully shutting his eyes, trying to think.

 

“Fine, sundae,” Chuuya answered, taking off his jacket from the warmth. Dazai softly smiled at him, like he once had. 

 

“You know me so well!” 

 

“Not really.” They both knew that that was a lie. Just like Dazai knew Chuuya like the back of his hand, Chuuya knew Dazai like the back of his. 

 

“So Chuuya, tell me— what have you been up to these days?” Chuuya wanted to ignore the answer, but judging from Dazai’s face, he could tell he wanted to know.

 

“Nothing. Just rehearsing.” He couldn’t take his eyes away from Dazai, gazing into his eyes, trying to fish out any form of an apology— there was nothing. Chuuya knew he shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up, but he wished he was wrong in this instance.

 

“You?” Chuuya asked. He didn’t want to hear it, but something about hearing Dazai’s voice again felt warm and pleasant, but he hated it. He hated how much he missed it.

 

“Oh, just this and that.” Chuuya knew that Dazai wasn’t going to say much either way but still wanted to hear whatever was in his voice. 

 

“I have been selling a lot of paintings, you know because I have real talent.” Dazai boasted. 

 

“Ha! And you think I’m not talented? I’m the most successful violinist and composer you’ll ever know in your miserable life.” Chuuya knew he was giving into Dazai’s little game, but he wanted to. He just wanted to see that stupid smirk on his face. He wanted to remember this, to remember the face he made every time he looked at him. No one else was going to look at him the same way Dazai did. No one had ever looked at him in such awe and admiration. Chuuya had never admitted it to Dazai, but from the first time Dazai looked at him, he could remember it was when he first played the violin in front of the other students. He knew that deadly look Dazai gave him, the mixture of desire and hate. No one ever looked at him so passionately until that day. 

 

“Yeah, sure, whatever.” Dazai waved his hand, dismissing the man’s claim. 

 

“Listen—” 

 

“Here’s your dessert.” The waitress interrupted, placing a sundae in the missile of the table.

 

“Thank you.” Dazai gave her one last smile, hearing her giggle away from their table.

 

“God, you really haven’t changed.” 

 

“Why is Chuuya jealous?” Chuuya grumbled, watching himself fall into the playful man’s trap. But Chuuya trusted him. It was like he was playing one last game as their final and formal goodbye. 

 

“And what if I am?” Chuuya grabbed a spoon, scooping up the ice cream.

 

“Hey! That’s my ice cream.” Dazai smacks Chuuya’s hand away. He clicked his tongue, grabbing another spoonful, despite Dazai’s words.

 

“What are you going to do about it?” Chuuya smirked. It was the first time Dazai had seen him smirk like that in a long time, embracing it, watching it stretch on his lips. ‘ Let the games begin .’ Dazai thought, taking the ice cream away from the center. 

 

“Hey, asshole. I didn’t get dragged to dinner not to get dessert.” 

 

“Oh well, too bad. Too sad.” Dazai began eating, watching Chuuya from the corner of his eyes as he clenched his fist in irritation. 

 

“Well, I’m gonna be the one paying, so I might as well get some.” Chuuya reached over, but Dazai was a step ahead of him. He held the sundae cup away from him, taunting him.

 

“You’re gonna have to climb the table if you wanna reach it.” Chuuya looked at him, Dazai watching his growing smile within the deep blue eyes, watching one another, trying to catch one another. Dazai wanted to reach out to hold his face in his hands. But he stopped the urge from coming true, watching Chuuya fall back onto his seat reluctantly. He studied him for a moment, trying to figure out what he was thinking of.

 

“I never took you for a quitter, such a shame.” Dazai sighed, bringing the rest of the sundae into his mouth.

 

“Oh, I’m not quitting. I’m just getting started.” Chuuya grinned wider, watching a slight twinkle fill Dazai’s eyes. 

 

“Hm? Well, if that’s the case, how about you pay the bill?” Chuuya glared at him.

 

“I fucking knew it.” He sighed, taking out his wallet placing his card on the table.

 

The air was cool that night, Chuuya sobriety kicked in. Dazai quietly walked alongside him. Yet he was so quiet that it made Chuuya suspicious.

 

“Why the fuck are you so quiet? You’re never this quiet.” 

 

“You’re the one that’s not so quiet. You’re way too noisy.”

 

“Always deflecting the fucking question. Well, whatever.” Chuuya pulled out his packet of cigarettes and his lighter, letting the warmth of the fire linger on his face. He exhaled, standing for a moment on the empty sidewalk. 

 

“What the fuck?!” Dazai took the cigarette from between his lips, placing it between his lips.

 

“Ugh. You still smoke these. Jesus, and you say you have class.” Dazai grimaced, taking another drag before giving it back to him.

 

“Old habits die hard, I guess.” They walked to the nearest bench. Dazai pulled out his own pack.

 

“Ah, Chuuya?” Chuuya looked over at Dazai, pointing at his cigarette. There were no words for Chuuya to understand that Dazai didn’t have a light. He grabbed his, letting the light flicker at the tip, watching it burn.

 

“Thanks, pipsqueak.”

 

“Don’t mention it, freak.” They stood for a moment, Chuuya wondering where Dazai would take this little game, but Chuuya had an idea. 

 

“What is up with that hat?” Dazai took the hat off Chuuya’s head.

 

“Give it back, asshole!” Chuuya began to jump as Dazai held it over his head, laughing hysterically. He placed it over his head, feeling Chuuya pressed against him as he tried to reach for the hat, which meant so much to him. Dazai took it off his head, taking a glimpse of the words written on the inside. He did not let his smile fade, thought it had stunned him for a moment. He placed the hat back on Chuuya’s head, gently patting it. 

 

“Fucking asshole! Don’t ever do that again.” Dazai let go of his smile, letting it drop from his lips. Chuuya was furious, looking at Dazai’s still face.

 

“That was the hat your father gave you when he died, wasn’t it?” Chuuya stood an inch apart from Dazai, glaring up at him. He wanted to hit him as he did earlier. He didn’t want to answer Dazai’s question. He knew full well that it was. 

 

“Don’t play dumb with me.” Chuuya hissed, watching the slow stretch on Dazai’s lips. He hated the way he smiled so much, even if it was fake most of the time. 

 

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” For a small moment, Chuuya had thought that Dazai was going to kiss him, but his body reacted, turning away from the brunette, finishing his cigarette.

 

“I need to get my car. Are you coming?” Chuuya turned back, seeing a glimpse of surprise. Dazai flicked his cigarette, skipping towards Chuuya.

 

Dazai hummed a song, letting the memories fill Chuuya’s head. He was making him remember. Chuuya caught on to his play, realizing that he was making Chuuya relive the memories with him; the restaurant, the cigarette, the song. 

 

“You are a crafty bastard.” Dazai stopped humming, pretending to act clueless. Yet, no matter how oblivious he acted, Chuuya could see through his fake demeanor.

 

“Whatever do you mean?” Dazai acted like he had no idea what Chuuya was talking about.

 

“Oh, come on, the restaurant, the cigarettes, the humming… Jesus…” Chuuya wanted to say more. He wanted to stop their little game to ask him why he even left him, ask him if the years they spent together meant nothing to him, to ask why he left without a single word. But Chuuya was in too deep, and there was no stopping what they both started. 

 

“We can stop now if you want?” Dazai asked, but Chuuya didn’t want to stop, feeling his heart beating faster as he said this.

 

“Nah. You started it, and I’m finishing it.” 

 

“Ah, I see, cocky as ever… It seems like you haven’t changed one bit either.” Dazai leaned in, whispering in his ear. Dazai knew that Chuuya was growing irritated by his tactics, but he couldn’t help himself. He missed it— watching Chuuya grow heated and angry at him, arising a feeling within him, making him feel dizzy with every emotion. It overwhelmed him in the most exhilarating way. 

 

“Tsk! I’m not being cocky. I’m being realistic.” Dazai let out a laugh, ridiculing him. 

 

“Realistic? I think you have your hopes up, little man.” Chuuya stopped, grabbing Dazai by his collar. Dazai stopped laughing, his eyes growing soft. Chuuya’s grip on Dazai loosened, watching the eyes grow brighter. He deeply searched into his eyes, trying to find an ounce of regret. It stung in his chest, frowning in concentration. Chuuya just wanted to know that he was essential to him, to try and find if he actually meant something to him at all, and it wasn’t some game they played for years. 

 

Please… don’t let it be a game .’ A lump caught his throat, turning away from Dazai again, walking to his parked car. 

 

“So what now?” Dazai asked. Chuuya looked over to the man with his nonchalant expressions, staring back at him.

 

“I told you I was going to finish it, wasn’t I?” Dazai factitiously wore another smile. He wanted to drop everything at that very moment and just give in to whatever Chuuya wanted. But he couldn’t. He already tainted Chuuya’s trust and love. There was no going back anymore. 

 

Dazai whistled when he walked into Chuuya’s apartment, it was a very fancy place.

 

“Impressed?” Chuuya smirked, but Dazai just shrugged.

 

“Eh, it’s not my taste.” 

 

“Well, good thing it’s not your apartment,” Chuuya muttered other things under his breath, but Dazai was too distracted with the bright lights coming from the balcony. It was a beautiful view of the city, watching the bright lights. 

 

“You wanna go out to the balcony.” Dazai shrugged. Chuuya rolled his eyes, opening the balcony door. Dazai could see the different lights, watching them like little stars. 

 

“I know it’s beautiful. You can spare your nonchalant answer.” Chuuya said, lighting up another cigarette. Dazai briefly looked at him, smiling as he went back to watch the bright lights. 

 

“This is the apartment that we were supposed to buy together before you left.” Chuuya didn’t know why he told him. He supposed he wanted to get a reaction from him for a change. 

 

“Oh? That’s interesting.” But as always, Dazai answered as if it didn’t matter at all. Chuuya tapped his fingers on the metal railing. Dazai shifted his eyes on his fingers, hitting the bar; Dazai saw the nervousness as he tapped and smoked. 

 

“There’s no need to be nervous… We don’t have to do anything.” For the first time that night, Dazai sounded so profound that it gave Chuuya goosebumps. 

 

“I know…” Dazai looked at him, leaning closer, grabbing his chin, meeting his eyes. 

 

“I told you not to fall for me.” Chuuya looked at him for a moment, searching, not for anything that might give him answers, but for something that told him that he wasn’t being serious— he was. 

 

“Yeah. Thanks for the heads up.” For once, Chuuya wanted Dazai to act like he wasn’t serious. Chuuya turned away, bringing his cigarette to his lips for one last drag.

 

“Go fucking brush your teeth. I can smell the vomit on your breath.” Chuuya smashed the cigarette butt on his nearby ashtray, walking back into his house. Dazai smiled to himself, looking back at the little city stars, embracing it one last time.

 

He headed back into the apartment, looking around for a bit, waiting for Chuuya to show back up. His eyes laid upon a painting. He recognized it. He looked closer at it, seeing the leaves sway as they fell on the ground. It was vibrant and beautiful. Just like it always was. Dazai pursed his lips together, hearing footsteps come from behind.

 

“Here.” Chuuya handed him a toothbrush, looking at the painting with him.

 

“How’d you get this?” Dazai asked. Chuuya stayed silent, looking at the painting then back at him.

 

“I bought it as a housewarming present… Thinking you’d come back.” Chuuya didn’t say anything else. He turned around, Dazai following after him. Dazai wanted to say something, to say anything, to tell him that he was sorry, but he held it in, pretending like it didn’t matter to him, even though he could clearly see the desperation in Chuuya— to find something saying he was sorry. He was, but it wouldn’t make any difference at all. 

 

“The bathroom’s right there.” He pointed at the door. Dazai walked into the bathroom, staring at the porcelain floors and the marble sink.

 

“I see he’s still high maintenance.” Dazai shook his head, looking at himself in the mirror. He hated what he saw. He knew that he shouldn’t be there and leave, but he was selfish. He wanted to spend time with him. He just wanted to be with him, even if it meant that they’d never see each other again. Dazai was okay with that. 

 

Dazai walked out into the hall, back into the living room, where Chuuya poured wine into two glasses. 

 

“Well, how generous of you, Chuuya.” Chuuya gave him his glass as he sat beside him. 

 

“Yeah, whatever.” Dazai could see that Chuuya was holding himself back, enjoying every moment, making the most of every minute he spent with him. Chuuya missed him deeply. He tried not to think about it, but he did, and it hurt like hell sometimes.

 

“Why’d you leave?” Dazai didn’t really expect Chuuya to ask. Dazai found him almost choking on his own words. He cleared his throat, sipping his wine. 

 

“You know I left because of Oda.”

 

“I know that. I meant, why did you even leave at all. Not the orchestra, but me. Why’d you leave me?” Chuuya didn’t look at him. He played with the rim of his glass, watching the deep red of his own reflection. 

 

“I… I thought it would’ve been best.” Dazai lied. Chuuya knew this, but he just nodded his head, looking at himself, then gulped down the wine to its last drop. He grabbed Dazai’s wine, placing it on the center table. 

 

He turned his body to face Dazai. He placed his hand against his cheek, caressing it lightly, leaning forward, pressing a kiss onto his lips. Dazai placed his hands on Chuuya’s back, bringing him closer. Chuuya’s fingers laced in with Dazai’s hair. Chuuya had thought that hitting Dazai would be enough to get over him, but it wasn’t. He thought kissing him one more time was going to be enough for a goodbye, but as they sat on the sofa, they wanted more of one another. Their hearts pounding against each other’s chest. Dazai slipped his under Chuuya’s choker, bringing him closer, tracing kisses from his jaw to his neck. Dazai could feel the beating of his pulse against his tongue.

 

The next thing they both knew, they were in Chuuya’s bedroom. Heavily kissing one another. Chuuya gently touched Dazai’s skin, and the bandages wrapped around his neck and arms. Chuuya wanted the bandages off to see all of Dazai, to feel all of him, it didn’t matter if he had new scars or not, but he knew the man’s comfort level and would not pressure him to do so. But Dazai could see the anguish he had, wanting to feel his bare skin like he once had. He undid them, much to Chuuya’s surprise. Chuuya did not stare at them. He didn’t even flicker his eyes at them, only keeping his eyes on his face, letting his fingers roam around the exposed skin. It was an exhilarating feeling, Dazai feeling his control slip away from him, the adrenaline rushing inside. Nothing could ruin him. He was alive again. 

 

Everything felt like electricity under their fingertips, tasting the bittersweet feeling on their tongues; the dizziness subdued them, becoming light in the most heavenly way. They wanted more like they were better than any drug or alcohol they could ever consume.

 

Chuuya watched Dazai as he slept, lightly tracing his fingers around his lips. Chuuya had always thought Dazai was beautiful, even if his boyish charm contrasted it at times. He could remember the first time he saw him, he thought he was so handsome, but he wouldn’t have admitted it— he still wouldn’t. He couldn’t help noticing Dazai, thinking about all the times they’d spent together as friends, roommates, lovers, and partners. No matter how much had changed, everything still felt the same. And that’s what hurt him the most. That after all those years, neither of them have changed, and neither had their feelings for one another. 

 

He laid on his pillow, facing away from Dazai as he felt the hot tears drip from his eyes. He didn’t whimper; he didn’t make any sound at all. He laid there, quietly letting the tears drip onto the pillow.

 

Dazai woke up to see that the sun had not come up yet. He looked over to Chuuya, who was laid in his usual crazy position, drool coming out from the corner of his mouth. Dazai briefly smiled at him before getting up from the bed. He got dressed quietly, not taking his eyes off of Chuuya as he tossed and turned in bed. Dazai held in many laughs as he watched him, like old times. Dazai walked over, kneeling down to Chuuya. He smiled, wiping away the drool from the corner of his mouth. He looked at him, placing his hand on his head, letting the soft red curls entangle around his fingers. Dazai placed a kiss on Chuuya’s forehead. The lump in his throat felt like he was about to choke. Tears began to form in his eyes, but he just took a deep breath, sucking them back in.

 

“I’m sorry, Chuuya.” He whispered.

 

Chuuya woke up from the sunlight hitting his face. His eyes fluttered open to show that he was alone. He sat up, looking at the empty space that Dazai slept in. 

 

He let out a small laugh, leading to a bigger one. ‘ Of course, he left… It’s what he does best .’ Though the muffled sounds coming out of his mouth sounded like laughs, Chuuya could feel the stinging sensation of the wet tears coming down his face again. He harshly rubs the tears away from his eyes. 

 

He looks at the floor, trying to find his jacket. He grabs the piece of clothing from the floor, taking the vial out once again, taking a bump from the scoop. He rubbed the residue on his gums, feeling the tingling numbness arise in him.

Chapter Text

“No, no, no.” Mori exhaled. The students stopped playing their instruments and looked over to see what they had done wrong. Mori shook his head, looking at them without a word. The students were waiting for his answer. There was nothing more uneasy than silence when it came to Mori. They’d rather hear what they had done wrong.

 

“Chuuya.” He signaled his hand for him to come to the front of the room. Chuuya got up, making his way next to the piano, where Dazai sat patiently. 

 

“Dazai. Chuuya. Show the rest of the class how it’s done.” 

 

“Is there any song you want in particular?” Chuuya asked. The rest of the class looked at him as if he was the most courageous person to ask such a question. Dazai smiled to himself as he saw the faces of the other students. 

 

Mori smiled at Chuuya, turning his attention towards Dazai. “Dazai knows.” Dazai’s smile disappeared as he looked at Mori, smiling down on him, patting his shoulder. He walked away, Chuuya leaning in. 

 

“Devil’s Trill,” Dazai whispered in his ear. Chuuya nodded, taking his stance. Dazai hit the keys as he heard the music echo from the violin. Dazai looked at Chuuya, stealing glances, watching Chuuya play. It never ceased to amaze him that no matter how many times he’d already watched him perform, it still felt like the first time. His chest would clench every time he watched him. Every little thing he did seemed so graceful and gentle, even though Chuuya’s personality— and practically everything about him— was everything but that. It fascinated Dazai to witness someone who was so impulsive and rash, yet Chuuya made it look like it was art. 

 

Everyone packed away their instruments and left for the day. Dazai looked over at Chuuya, watching him go with another classmate. He had the brightest smile and could even hear his laugh echo as he left. Dazai looked down on the keys, thinking to himself about how alone he truly was.

 

“He’s quite talented.” Dazai looked up to see Mori peering down on him. Dazai gazed at him with no emotion in his eyes. 

 

“I never thought another fifteen-year-old would be as talented as you, but you truly met your match, Dazai.” Dazai began to feel uneasy, watching how Mori just sinisterly smiled at him.

 

“What is that supposed to mean?” Dazai held in his anger. Trying to make sense of what Mori was telling him.

 

“I mean that he has true talent. One that could even be used to make the title of being the number one music program in the nation.” Dazai bit the inside of his cheek, containing himself. He didn’t mind being used as some elaborate plan for Mori to gain power, but he drew the line at Chuuya. He wasn’t going to be part of it, but as much as he didn’t want him to, Chuuya was going to follow whatever Mori told him to do. He didn’t deserve to be used. 

 

“No need to be angry. I was merely making an observation.” Dazai quietly sighed, gathering his things to leave.

 

“Dazai?” He turned around to see Mori sitting on the piano bench. 

 

“Yes?” Dazai clenched on the strap of his messenger bag. Mori didn’t say anything for a moment, playing  Devil’s Trill

 

“Nevermind.” That sinister smile did not disappear from his face. He walked out of the room, letting the sounds of the piano drift away as he walked down the halls. His heart was pounding; his breaths were heavy and quivering. Dazai never felt this fear, not even with his father, but for some reason, it was like Mori saw right through him, making him feel exposed like he had nowhere else to run to. He got to his dorm, trying hard to breathe, but they were short and heavy, feeling the weight on his shoulders.

 

Dazai didn’t remember what happened next. It was like everything went blank, everything turning black with small flashes of light. Dazai didn’t fully snap out of it until he felt the stinging sensation across his arms. A sense of regret filled his chest. He hated this. He hated every bit of it. The pressure of everything and everyone. He didn’t want Chuuya to go through it, to be used as some sort of secret weapon for Mori’s own selfish gain. 

 

Dazai got out his first aid kit, wrapped the razor in tissue paper, stuffed it into the kit, and took out new bandages. He unwrapped the roll, hearing the door fling open.

 

“Hey, are you okay?” Dazai’s eyes met Chuuya’s. Dazai, for once, could not say anything. He couldn’t make an excuse; he couldn’t say anything. The rest of his arm was exposed, showing the past scars that had been etched in his skin. Chuuya just sighed, walking towards him. When Chuuya first saw the bandages, he knew something wrong, but it wasn’t his place to ask. He walked over to him, taking the bandages from Dazai’s hands.

 

“Give it back.” He snapped. 

 

“Quit being difficult.” Chuuya was serious, gently grabbing his arm and wrapping it.

 

“You’re doing it wrong.” Dazai knew he wasn’t doing it wrong, it actually seemed like he had done this before, but he didn’t want anyone to help him. It was something that he needed to do on his own.

 

“No, I’m not.” He finished wrapping it, putting the leftover bandages back into the first aid kit. Dazai clicked his tongue, moving his arm around, trying to prove Chuuya wrong. Trying to find some excuse for him not getting help from him again. But it was neatly wrapped around his arm.

 

“Where did you learn to bandage so well?” Dazai wanted to make a joke of it. Chuuya just shrugged, closing the kit, placing it on Dazai’s lap. 

 

“I used to wrap my father’s bandages. He often gets pains from his injury, but he uses heat bandages to help the pain.” Dazai nodded his head, putting away the little white box. 

 

“You’re not dying on me, are you?” Dazai could tell Chuuya was worried for him, but he tried to make it into a joke as well.

 

“Yeah, I am. From your constant yelling, nagging—”

 

“God, can’t you be serious for one moment?” Chuuya walked over to his side of the room, sitting on his bed.

 

“Nope!” Dazai forced a smile, laying on his bed.

 

Chuuya wanted to say something, but it seemed like there was no breaking down the wall that Dazai put up. 

 

“Are you okay, though?” Chuuya fiddled with the hem of his button-down. 

 

“Not really, but I’ll let you in on a little secret.” Chuuya frowned, waiting for Dazai to tell him.

 

“I actually want to die.” Dazai’s smile turned into something peaceful, like a wish that he wanted to fulfill to finish whatever he was feeling, to stop the thoughts in his head. The concept of death being a final means to an end for his damned life. 

 

“Shut up.” Chuuya breathed out. He could see that Dazai didn’t want to. He looked at him, watching how he was constantly fighting for something, trying to strive for any itch that told him to keep going. Chuuya knew that he was always striving to figure out a way to stay, even if it would kill him in the end. 

 

“But I do.” Dazai sang like he was singing a song on the radio.

 

“Dazai…” Chuuya wanted to say more to him. But he stayed quiet, not knowing what to say.

 

“Aw. Cat got your tongue? You know it’s not too late to stop.” 

 

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” 

 

“If you can’t handle the pressure of me being your roommate, then I think you should leave while you can.” 

 

Chuuya scoffed. Was that all he thought of him? His roommate? Not his friend? A heavyweight laid on his chest, feeling heartbroken. He began to breathe heavily from anger. Trying to make sense as to why he was pushing him away. 

 

“Shut the fuck up, Dazai!” Chuuya spat. Dazai turned to him, still placing a smile on his face.

 

“I could even walk you to the office like a lost puppy.” Chuuya clenched his pillow, jumping from his bed, hitting him.

 

“Why are you trying to push me away, huh? Why are you acting like such a dick? What did I ever do to you?” Dazai snatched the pillow away from him.

 

“You! That’s what happened. Why are you so concerned anyway?” Dazai snapped back, pushing the boy away from him.

 

“Because you’re fucking friend!” Dazai didn’t want to hear those words. He didn’t wish Chuuya to be near him.

 

“No, I’m not.” Dazai threw the pillow back at him. 

 

“You can’t dictate who I can be friends with, you dumbass!” Dazai just wanted him to go away. He wished Chuuya would have never come here, hoped that he and Chuuya met differently, not in a place like this.

 

“Watch me. You’re not my friend.” Dazai could tell that Chuuya wasn’t taking no for an answer. He knew that Dazai wasn’t being serious, that he was saying words to push him away from God-knows-what.

 

“God, stop being so stubborn!” 

 

“You’re the one being stubborn, you little dog!” Chuuya lunged at him, getting on top of him, repeatedly hitting him with his pillow.

 

“Are you jealous because I was hanging out with other people? Huh?” 

 

“Don’t be ridiculous.” It was partially true. Dazai did hate the fact that Chuuya wasn’t around him all the time, but at the same time, it was a good thing because he thought that Chuuya would eventually leave him if he saw his true colors.

 

“I’m not being ridiculous; you are!” Chuuya gave him one last hit before getting off him. Dazai didn’t say anything more. He just turned his body away from Chuuya. 

 

Chuuya didn’t know what else to say. He wanted to say more, but the words couldn’t come out. He wanted to talk about how much he meant to him. 

 

Stubborn asshole .’

 

Chuuya woke up that morning thinking of his father. He didn’t want to be there— he was still mad at Dazai. He looked over to his sleeping face. He looked peaceful, beautiful, even. His chest felt like it was being torn apart, being broken into tiny pieces, withering away. He wanted to just talk to him, figure out what was going on in his mind. 

 

He grabbed his phone opening his messages. ‘ Hey, Dad. Can I spend the night today? I really miss you .’

 

Chuuya took one last look at Dazai before getting ready, tossing on a t-shirt and jeans. His phone buzzed, showing a message from his father.

 

Yes. I’ll pick you up in 30 minutes. We can stop for breakfast .’ Chuuya smiled at his phone. He really did miss his father. But that didn’t distract him from wanting to scream at the top of his lungs. 

 

After 30 minutes, his father sent him another text telling him that he was outside. Chuuya grabbed his essential things— earphones, wallet, cigarettes, lighter, and phone. He walked out into the bright sunlight, seeing his father’s car. He couldn’t help but smile as he saw his father get out of the car. He ran to him, tightly throwing his arms around him.

 

“I guessed you really did miss me.” His father patted his head, smiling at his son. 

 

“Why else would I have texted you?” Chuuya broke away, looking up at his father with a playful frown.

 

“I don’t know. I thought you might have run out of money.” His father jokes, tucking his long black hair behind his ears, showing hints of gray stands 

 

“Tsk! Get in the car, old man.” Chuuya teased, walking over to the passenger’s side. 

 

“I’m not old!” 

 

“Ha! How old are you again? Fifty-one? That’s pretty old to me.” 

 

“Oh, be quiet before I make you pay for your own breakfast.” Chuuya laughed, watching his father along with him as he got into the car.

 

Dazai groaned, feeling chills run through his body, feeling his head spinning. He opened his eyes, looking over to Chuuya’s bed, but he wasn’t there. Dazai sighed, feeling guilty for what he had said the previous day. 

 

He tried to lift himself up, but he felt too weak. He brought his hand to his face, feeling the fever sting his hand. He dropped his hand, groaning in pain. He felt like his eyes were going to pop out of his sockets. He grabbed his phone, straining his eyes as he looked at the bright screen. He went through his text messages to see that Chuuya had texted him while he was asleep.

 

I’m staying at my Dad’s. Don’t wait up .’ Dazai rolled his eyes. He looked at the phone, feeling his body grow weaker. He shut his eyes again, trying to drift back to sleep, but his body shook as the chills ran. The sweat began to drip from his forehead as he tossed and turned, clutching onto his blanket. He felt like he was a child again when he used to get sick and had to deal with it alone. He always hated getting sick because those were the times he always felt so lonely. He didn’t have anyone to depend on to help him, to nurse him back to health. He wished he could have his mother or his father. He hoped that he could have the same relationship with his father as Chuuya has with his father. But he’d grown used to it. He didn’t want to depend on anyone; he didn’t have to. 

 

Dazai contemplated calling Oda, but he didn’t want to bother. He wanted to be alone— or that’s what he told himself. He let his phone drop from his hand, curling himself in the fetal position, waiting for his body to get through it on its own. But his mind spiraled, making him think of all the things he said to Chuuya. 

 

“Why did I say those things?” He knew he didn’t mean any of it. This was one thing he also hated about being sick— he was vulnerable to himself. He didn’t want to think of any of it, but all the memories from the day before kept creeping into his mind. 

 

His phone began to buzz, looking at it to see that it was Oda. He didn’t want to pick up, but his finger pressed on the answer button, bringing the phone to his ear.

 

“Hey.” His voice was hoarse. He slightly winced at the scratchy sound it made.

 

“Are you sick?” Oda asked.

 

“No…” He then coughed, damning his body for betraying him.

 

“I’ll be over with some soup.” 

 

“I won’t answer the door,” Dazai said, but the line cut off before Oda could hear him. He didn’t want anyone to see him like this; it didn’t matter who it was. He was even grateful that Chuuya wasn’t there to witness him like this. He knew the boy would be stubborn and give him a headache with all the yelling. But for some reason, he slightly smiled at the thought of him yelling at him to eat soup and to rest. 

 

“Chuuya would make a great nurse.” He jokes to himself, letting out a weak laugh. Dazai shut his eyes, letting his mind drift him into sleep from the thoughts of Chuuya. 

 

“Thanks for breakfast, Dad.” Chuuya walked into the tiny house. He never really truly saw it since he moved into the dorms. He looked around, feeling the homely warmth. He smiled, waltzing into the living room area. 

 

“You like it?” Chuuya nodded his head, looking around. It reminded me of his home in France, thinking of all the fun memories he had there. 

 

“I tried to make it like our home back in Paris.”

 

“I like it.”

 

“Do you want to see your room?” 

 

“Yeah.” Chuuya climbed up the stairs opening the door to his room. It was spacious. He looked over to his bookshelf, then to his desk, then to his bed, seeing the posters scattered around the wall. He had to admit, he was impressed with his father’s decor.

 

“Thanks, Dad.” He looked over at him, reaching over for a hug.

 

“No problem, Chuuya.” He laid a small kiss on the top of his head. 

 

“So, what do you want to do today?” His father asked.

 

“I don’t know. I thought that we could watch movies and eat a bunch of junk food.” He looked over at his son, knowing that he only did this when he was heartbroken about something.

 

“Don’t give me that look.”

 

“Chuuya, you only do this when you are heartbroken. Now tell me, who was he, and why did he break my son’s heart.” Chuuya sat on his bed while his father leaned over the door frame.

 

“I’m not heartbroken. I just got into an argument with my roommate, that’s all.” 

 

“Ah, so that’s why you wanted to hang out with your ‘old father’ for the day.” He walked over to him, sitting next to his son.

 

“That’s not true. I really did miss you.” He looked over at him, giving him a look to tell him what was wrong.

 

“I just… It hurt me. The things that he said to me. I just wished he would be able to talk to me and stop putting up this wall.” Arthur pursed his lips together, throwing his arm around him.

 

“Boys. They’re a mystery.” Chuuya huffed an agreement.

 

“But if it really bothers you, talk to him. And if he puts up a wall, then so be it.” Chuuya shook his head.

 

“No. I don’t think I can.” Arthur was confused. He knew his son was stubborn, but he never really saw how he looked when he thought about someone like this.

 

“You’re in love with him, aren’t you?” Chuuya didn’t say anything.

 

“And you won’t want him to know, so you are just happy with being his friend, but the wall is in the way.” Chuuya hated how his father was right.

 

“Is it that obvious?”

 

“No. I’ve only known you for fifteen years, so I think I know you like the back of my hand by now.” Chuuya chuckled, leaning his head against his father’s shoulder while his father leaned his on his head.

 

“Are you taking care of yourself?” Chuuya asked.

 

“Yes. I don’t want to suffer the wrath of my son and have him move back in with me just to make sure that I’m taking my medication.”

 

“Good, because it’s flu season, and I’d have to come home every day just to make sure you don’t end up in the hospital again.”

 

“Ugh, I wouldn’t dream of it.” Chuuya smiled to himself. He really did miss him. They stayed like that for a moment before they headed downstairs to begin their movie marathon.

 

“No horror!” Arthur yelled at the top of the stairs.

 

“No promises!”

 

Dazai’s eyes flung open when he heard the loud banging at the door. He groaned as he forced himself out of bed and opened the door to see Oda carrying a takeout bag and another bag filled with medicine and cooling pads.

 

“Ugh. I forgot that you were coming.” Dazai flopped himself onto the bed.

 

“Yeah, sure.” Oda walked over and sat on the bed, taking out a container filled with soup and cooling pads from the other bag. He gently placed the pad on his forehead. Even if Dazai didn’t want to admit it, he was glad someone was taking care of him. It felt like he finally achieved a childhood dream that he had always wanted. 

 

“Sit up,” Oda ordered.

 

“You’re not spoon-feeding me.” Oda rolled his eyes, taking out a box of medicine and a bottle of water. Dazai took the medication, popping one into his mouth, drinking the water to wash it down. 

 

“Now, you may eat, or would you like me to spoon feed you?” Dazai glared at him, taking the soup container and spoon.

 

“So, are you going to tell me why Chuuya isn’t here to take care of you?” Oda vaguely got from Dazai’s expression that he may have done something regrettable.

 

“We kind of had a fight.” 

 

“Ah.” Oda took out his book and began reading, bringing his feet onto the bed.

 

“Get your feet off the bed.” 

 

“Keep talking, and I’ll swaddle you like a baby and actually spoon-feed you.” Dazai groaned, continuing to eat his soup. He wasn’t all that hungry but just kept eating silently.

 

“So, what did you tell him?”

 

“The truth.” Oda rolled his eyes, taking a glance at Dazai.

 

“Don’t look at me that way. I did tell the truth.” 

 

“And what was the truth?” Oda flipped the page, hearing Dazai sigh.

 

“I just told him that he wasn’t my friend.” Oda closed his book, looking at Dazai as if he was some sort of idiot— which he probably was.

 

“Well, that’s not the truth.”

 

“Oh, shut up.” Dazai grabbed another spoonful of soup. Oda opened his book back up, peacefully reading until he finished eating. Dazai began to feel better, but the guilt still resided in his chest.

 

“You know you have to apologize to him,” Oda noted, not taking his eyes away from his book. 

 

“Whatever.”

 

“Good night, Chuuya.”

 

“Night.” Arthur closed the door, leaving Chuuya alone. He didn’t want to sleep; he wasn’t sleepy at all. He took out his phone, somewhat hoping that Dazai would have texted him at least something, but there was nothing. He was a bit disappointed, but he didn’t let it get to him. He put his earbuds in, opening his window, lighting a cigarette, hearing the soft music echo into his ears.  By This River  by Brian Eno. It held a nostalgic feeling from his father humming the song to him when he was a child. But it made him think of Dazai, wishing they weren’t so separated. It made him feel like he was sinking trying to reach for Dazai. He was in love with him. He was so stupidly in love with him it hurt so much. 

 

He sighed, exhaling the last of the smoke before extinguishing the cigarette and laying back in bed. He couldn’t sleep. He became so accustomed to sleeping next to Dazai, in having Dazai within the room. But he tried, closing his eyes, thinking of all the stupid things Dazai was going to say to him when he got back. 

 

Dazai woke up early, watching the dull blue sky from the window. Oda had long since left after falling asleep, leaving the medicine and water next to him. It was the first time anyone had ever taken care of him like that. It made him happy— a dream come true. Dazai was feeling better. His head didn’t feel like it was pounding, his fever had gone down, and he was even able to lift his body up to sit up. He looked at his phone to see if Chuuya had texted him, but there was nothing. He leaned his head back. 

 

He got out his sketchpad and pencil and began to draw. He was unsure of what he should draw, but as the pencil hit the paper, Dazai couldn’t help but draw Chuuya and what he would be doing now— sleeping. He drew the wild hair, drool coming out from the corner of his mouth. It made him laugh as he drew this. He then remembered how he drew on Chuuya’s face when he was sleeping one night and when he woke up, he was so furious at him, taking an hour in the bathroom to thoroughly wash off all the ink on his face.

 

Arthur pulled up to the school’s front gates, watching his son’s hesitance.

 

“Do you want me to come up? I still have yet to meet him.” Chuuya shook his head.

 

“Nah. I’ll be okay.” Arthur smiled, giving him one last hug.

 

“Love you, Dad.”

 

“Love you too.” He kissed the top of his head, watching him get out of the car and into the school.

 

Chuuya took a deep breath, slightly opening the door to see Dazai drawing. He had never seen him draw before, but it was a lovely sight.

 

“Oh well, look who it is? The dog returned to his master.” Chuuya was secretly glad to see Dazai, though he rolled his eyes, walking into the room. Although, he walked over to Dazai, sitting next to him, catching a glimpse of what he was drawing.

 

“Hey!” Chuuya tried to reach for the sketchpad, but Dazai held it further away from him. His face was close to his, stopping himself, looking at Dazai, then his eyes flickered to his lips. He wanted to kiss him, but he just turned his head, looking at the medicine boxes.

 

“Were you sick?” 

 

“Yes, but don’t worry, Oda did your job, so it’s okay.”

 

“My job? I’m not your maid.” 

 

“Well, you are my dog, so naturally, you are supposed to take care of me when I’m sick.” Chuuya glared at him, but as he looked at him more, he couldn’t help but smile. Dazai smiled back at him. Their shoulders and chest felt lighter again. 

 

Chuuya grabbed hold of Dazai’s hand, looking down on the bandages he wrapped for him.

 

“Are you okay?” He looked back up at Dazai, giving him that same look he had when he was playing. It was softer, though, but the passion was still there in his eyes.

 

“Yeah, I’m okay.” 

Chapter Text

Chuuya mindlessly scrolled through his phone, waiting in line to get coffee. He looked at the pictures of the happy faces, growing a cold feeling within him. It had been a week since that night he spent with Dazai. He couldn’t stop thinking about it— the way Dazai touched him like he used to, kissing him like he used to— tasting what once was his. It was like a hunger he had always anticipated to have again, but now that he had it, he wanted more. Dazai was like a drug to him that not even the drugs he did could fulfill. All the drugs and sex he had with other men could never fulfill what he had with Dazai. It angered him that it was the last, but it was what had to be done. There was nothing left for them anymore. 

 

“Hey, aren’t you the guy that beat up Dazai?” Chuuya frowned, looking up at his phone to see a white-haired boy. He had recognized him from that night. 

 

“Who?” Chuuya asked, pretending not to know what he was talking about.

 

“Dazai. I saw you hit him.” The boy was timid, trying to stand tall, but Chuuya didn’t care. He rolled his eyes and kept scrolling.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Chuuya wanted it to be the end of it, but the boy was persistent. It seemed that he wanted to stick up for Dazai, thinking that Chuuya had hurt him somehow.

 

“But—”

 

“If you say his name one more time, I won’t hesitate to hit you too. I really don’t want to, but just… stop saying his name. Okay?” He began to snap, but he knew the boy didn’t deserve his projecting anger. It wasn’t who he was angry at, to start with. He looked at the boy again, seeing him slowly relax and nodding his head.

 

“I’m sorry.” The boy said. Chuuya shook his head.

 

“There’s no need to be sorry for something he did.” 

 

“What did he do?” Chuuya opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but he decided to spare him, closing his mouth again. 

 

“Nothing… He did nothing.” Chuuya sighed. It wasn’t true, but looking at the boy, he couldn’t help but think that he had this image of Dazai— Chuuya didn’t want to shatter that, no matter how angry he was at him. It was his and Dazai’s business. Not anybody else’s. 

 

“What’s your name?” Atsushi asked. Chuuya was hesitant; he didn’t want him to tell Dazai about seeing him or even let him know where he was at.

 

“If you’re planning on telling him, then there’s no need to know my name.” Atsushi gave him a soft awkward smile, nodding his head. With that, it was Chuuya’s turn in line, ordering his coffee, looking back at the boy walking out the door. In a way, he felt terrible for him because he could tell he looked up to Dazai. 

 

Poor kid .’ He thought to himself, walking out the door with his coffee in his hand.

 

“Oh, Dr. Yosano!” Dazai cried out, holding his finger up to her with a small paper cut. She rolled her eyes and ignored him, sorting through paperwork. 

 

“I’m not a doctor yet. I still have to finish my residency, then I’ll be a doctor.” Ranpo groaned at her.

 

“You are still a doctor to me. If you know how to fix people and give them a diagnosis, then you’re a doctor.” Yosano patted his arm.

 

“No. I still need to finish my residency, and I’ll be officially a doctor… With a license.” Dazai could tell Ranpo was upset that Yosano would have to quit her job at the gallery soon once her residency was finished. Dazai didn’t want to admit it— even if Ranpo already knew— that he would miss her too. 

 

“You know, you could be our personal doctor—” Yosano cut Dazai off, putting a finger in his face. 

 

“No, you cannot call me at odd hours of the night to ask silly questions like a papercut. Get some rubbing alcohol and a bandaid and wait for it to heal.” Dazai pouted.

 

“But what if I have a toothache?” Ranpo butted in, playing along with Dazai’s teasing. 

 

“Then go to the damn dentist and eat fewer sweets.” Ranpo dramatically groaned, throwing his feet on the desk. 

 

“That’s so boring! Why would I go to the dentist when I have a doctor for a best friend?” Yosano caught on to their little game, placing her hands on her hips and shaking her head.

 

“You two will be the death of me. I swear, if my blood pressure is high, it’s going to be your guys’ fault.” Ranpo and Dazai giggled as Yosano tried to hide her smile, continuing her paperwork.

 

“Hey, we should celebrate Yosano getting her residency. How about we go to that new casino?” Dazai proposed, Yosano nodding her head.

 

“Oh, yes, that would be so much fun!” Dazai and Yasono looked over at Ranpo, who was already sighing.

 

“The last time we went out, you both threw up in the back seat of Poe’s car.” Dazai and Yasono both pouted, giving him puppy dog eyes.

 

“Ew. You guys act like that’ll work on me.” Ranpo grimaces, taking out a bag of chips.

 

“C’mon, Ranpo, it’s for me to get my residency,” Yosano begged.

 

“Ugh! Fine! But you guys have to buy me snacks for a month!”

 

“Okay.” They both said in unison.

 

“But why are you so against it anyway if it wasn’t your car?” Dazai asked, Yasono leaning in, intrigued. Although they all knew that Ranpo and Poe were together, they never really established their relationship.

 

“Because I was the one having to sit there until Poe and I got home! It was so gross.” Dazai and Yosano couldn’t help but laugh at the memory of them coming back from the bar after talking about how shit Mori was. 

 

When Dazai had first met Yosano, he found that Mori was her piano instructor before being an instructor at the academy. They bonded over the fact that he had ruined both of their lives. They would often get drunk and create elaborate plans to ruin his life. Still, they never acted on them because they knew there was no winning. Still, it was nice to go to someone who actually understood how much of a horrible person that man was.

 

“But wouldn’t it be difficult to convince him?” Yosano asked, filing the papers on the desk.

 

“That man would do anything for Ranpo if he asked,” Dazai smirked at Ranpo while he looked over, groaning.

 

“Nah. All I have to do is agree to play five rounds of  Clue  with him and look over his article, and he’ll drive us to the casino.” Ranpo decided to ignore Dazai, not wanting to talk about the fancy hat man that he saw on the video camera last week— not yet.

 

“Why five rounds?” Yosano asked, puzzled. 

 

“I don’t know, but he likes it, and it’s fun, so I agree to it.” Yosano and Dazai smirked at each other as they heard Ranpo discuss his domestic life with Poe, even though Poe denies most of it. But there was one time they went over to Ranpo’s apartment. Poe had accidentally gotten drunk on a few cocktails— thinking it was wine— spilling about how much he loved being with Ranpo and how smart he was. Ranpo was very happy that night, hearing all the delightful things Poe had to say about him. Dazai was somewhat jealous of that. He would remember when he and Chuuya would get drunk together, make each other laugh, and fight over who was more annoying. Even though they weren’t things that annoyed them, but things they loved about each other. 

 

“Well, then it’s settled.” Dazai kicked his feet on the desk, leaning back.

 

“Get your feet off the desk!” Kunikida storms past them, yelling in Dazai’s direction.

 

“But, Kunikida! Ranpo is doing the same thing! Why are you yelling at me only?” Dazai wailed, pouting his lips.

 

“Because he’s not an imbecile like you!” Dazai could hear Ranpo’s light snickering. He grumbles, taking his feet off the desk. 

 

“Dazai.” He turns to see Atsushi holding two cups of coffee with him— handing one to him and Yosano. 

 

“Thanks, Atsushi, you are a true life-saver.” Yosano gives her thanks, flashing a smile at him. He nods his head, trying to control his breathing.

 

“Did you run over here?” Dazai asked, taking a sip of his coffee.

 

“I sort of speed-walked, but I need to talk to you.” Dazai nodded his head waiting for him to catch his breath to continue.

 

“You know that guy that beat you up last week?”

 

“Wait, you got beat up?” Yosano butted in, letting the papers fall from her hand and onto the desk.

 

“Oh, yeah, by a little man in a fancy hat… I wonder who that could be?” Ranpo smirked at Dazai, who then smirked back at him. Ranpo knew too much for Dazai’s liking. He knew about his past and Chuuya since Poe worked as a music journalist. Although Poe didn’t catch on to him— since it was a while ago and no one seemed to care that he disappeared— Ranpo certainly had an idea of who he was and who Chuuya was as well.

 

Dazai set his attention back to Atsushi, changing his smile into a more sincere one. “Yeah, why?” Atsushi began to ruffle his hair and nervously laugh.

 

“Well, I kind of ran into him at the coffee shop.” 

 

“Oh?” Dazai leaned back into his chair, pretending to seem uninterested. However, he wanted to ask which coffee shop he went to, but Dazai stopped himself, reminding himself that last week was the last he was ever going to see him, to touch him, to kiss him, to talk to him. It was the last time he was ever going to indulge him. 

 

“Yeah, I was trying to talk to him to see why he did that, but—” 

 

“No need to do that, Atsushi. I bet he threatened you and told you not to mention me ever again to him.” Dazai knew how the redhead would have reacted if someone had come up to him and started saying his name. He could even picture his angry, annoyed face just hearing his name being said within a mile radius. The thought made him smile from just thinking that he still had the same effect on Chuuya like he did so many years ago. 

 

“Yeah, how do you know?” Atsushi asked, curiously and intrigued.

 

“Yeah, Dazai, how do you know?” Ranpo leaned in, not taking the smirk off his face. Dazai smirked back at Ranpo, turning to Atsushi.

 

“Because he was my old lover.” 

 

“Ha! I knew one of these days, one of your one-night stands was going to kick your ass.” Yosano laughed out, picking up the papers and putting them away.

 

“Actually, we were in a relationship for two years, but we knew each other for three,” Dazai added proudly. But, the silence grew thick, looking at the shock painted onto Yosano and Atsushi’s face while Ranpo continued eating his chips. 

 

“You? In a relationship? Now I have to meet this guy; I just know he has stories to tell.” Yosano began to laugh, Ranpo following along with her.

 

“I know, right!” Ranpo added, laughing hysterically. Dazai glared at both of them, but that didn’t stop them from laughing. He sighed, turning back to Atsushi, who was giving him a small, kind smile.

 

“For what it’s worth, I think he misses you.” Dazai felt his chest close in on him, but he still was able to show a playful smile, shaking his head like it was a joke.

 

“He better! I gave him the best three years of his life.” 

 

“Pfft! I highly doubt that.” Ranpo echoed out, continuing laughing, while Yosano wiped the tears from her eyes.

 

“You guys are so mean!” Dazai crossed his arms, letting out a ‘ hmph ’ sound. 

 

“All of you get back to work!” Kunikida yelled from the next room, making the four of them jump, running back to their own desks to— pretend— do their work. 

 

Chuuya sat in his car for a moment, preparing for rehearsal. Mori was out of town, so he was a little more relaxed, but it still did not make his nerves disappear nevertheless. Chuuya took out his vial, taking a scoop and snorting what was left. He looked at it, seeing the small amount that was left.

 

“Fuck.” He whispered to himself. He took out his phone opening his messages. ‘ Hey, Dostoyevsky. Be at the casino at 8 .’ Chuuya had met Dostoyevsky one night at a high-class bar when he tried cocaine for the first time with a wealthy American man. Since then, he had been his dealer for three years, but Chuuya never knew— or wanted to know— much about the man. It was just a fair trade of supply and demand. 

 

Chuuya’s phone buzzed again, looking at the thumbs-up emoji from Dostoyevsky. It was sad to admit it, but he was actually relieved to get more, to have more. He knew that he had grown dependent on the drugs, but it didn’t matter so long as he got things done. It was just a little nudge to get him to focus and to feel alive. 

 

Rehearsal had ended early since Mori was anywhere around, so everyone seemed to relax a bit. But Chuuya grew tense, counting down the minutes until he could go to the casino, get what he needed, and go home. 

 

“Hey, Chuuya, you wanna go out with us later?” Tachihara walked over to him, along with Higuchi, Gin, and Akutagawa.

 

“No, I have an appointment.”

 

“At seven?” Higuchi asked. Chuuya sighed and glared at them. He didn’t want to have to explain anything to anyone.

 

“He’s got a hot date,” Tachihara smirked, nudging Akutagawa, who glared at him in return. ‘ Tachihara, you idiot genius .’ Chuuya smiled back and shrugged as if he was caught red-handed.

 

“Yeah. You caught me. I decided to get back into the dating scene.” 

 

“I’m so proud of you. You’ve needed to get laid ever since Dazai left….” The room froze as Tachihara caught himself. Gin smacked the back of Tachihara’s head, hearing a loud smack. 

 

“For your information, my sex life is more than healthy.” Chuuya lashed out but took a deep breath, containing himself.

 

“I’m just tired of being single.” He lied, hoping that they would stop asking him questions so he could leave. 

 

“Well, I think that’s amazing.” Gin added, giving another hitting Tachihara once more.

 

“Ow! Can you stop?” Gin groaned, glaring at him. 

 

“Yeah, so I’m just gonna get going. Don’t want to be late.” Chuuya waved goodbye, walking out the door. Once Chuuya was out of sight— Higuchi, Gin, and Akutagawa all glared at Tachihara.

 

“What?” Tachihara looked over at them.

 

“You’re an idiot.” Akutagawa walked away, grabbing his things.

 

“I’m sorry!” Tachihara yelled at the three.

 

Chuuya sat in his car, taking a deep breath. He felt like his heart was jumping out of his chest. He was craving more, his anxieties growing intense. He lit a cigarette, trying to calm himself from his dissolved state, turning on his car, blasting music as he drove off. 

 

Dazai, along with his coworkers, walked into the casino, awing at the bright lights and the luxurious decor. “Wow, this place is really nice,” Yosano said, flipping her head from side to side, trying to look at every angle of the casino. 

 

“Ranpo…” Poe whispered, nervous of the people around him, tightly holding onto Ranpo’s arm.

 

“Oh, let’s go to the buffet.” Ranpo pointed out, heading towards the buffet, taking Poe with him. 

 

“Well, I suppose that it’s just the two of us, now.” Dazai declared.

 

“Speak for yourself. I’m going to play some Blackjack. I’m in the mood to make some old rich men cry.” Yosano walked off, Dazai smiling as he looked over to his coworkers indulging themselves. But he still felt lonely. He walked over to the bar.

 

“Old Fashioned.” He ordered, leaning against the bar, waiting for his drink to be ready.

 

“Oh, I know that voice.” A Russian accent caught Dazai’s ear, turning to see an old acquaintance.

 

“Dostoyevsky. Long time, no see.” Dazai lazily said. He wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about running into him.

 

“My, when was the last time we saw each other? Oh, yes, it was when you were high off  Angel Dust .” The Russian man began to snicker to himself, recollecting the memory in his head.

 

“That was a really horrible night. I told you I wanted something that would make me die, not something that would make me feel like I was dying.” Dazai’s words hastening, thinking about that night and the stupid ‘dragon’ he saw. ‘ Asshole .’ Dazai didn’t necessarily hold grudges. Still, he was miserable that day, granted that he had just left the orchestra and was dealing with Oda’s death, along with leaving Chuuya. So yes, he was pissed, even to this day. He was hoping to forget about his problems that night when he met Dostoyevsky. They weren’t exactly buddies, but they only hung out for three months before he ran out of money to hang out in fancy bars and buy drugs.  

 

“Ah, no need to get so angry. It was nothing personal; I just didn’t want to have a death on my hands— you know, for liability reasons— so I gave you the closest thing to death.” Dostoyevsky took a shot of his vodka, signaling the bartender for two more, which he gave him right away while Dazai was still waiting for his drink.

 

“Please accept my apologies.” He handed Dazai a shot of vodka, which Dazai took. They clinked their glasses and drank. The warm smoothness ran down his throat, giving him chills as it ran its course to his stomach. 

 

“Well, duty calls.” He laid his glass on the bar, smiling at Dazai as he left. Dazai’s eyes followed him into a room across the bar. Dazai caught a glimpse of the room, but nothing that Dazai could make out in detail. He shrugged, turning to the bar again, seeing his drink placed in front of him. 

 

He took a sip as his eyes fell on a woman. ‘ Well, I did come to indulge .’ He gave her a smile, walking towards the woman.

 

“Has anyone told you how beautiful you look?” She began to blush, biting her lip.

 

“You are quite a sight for sore eyes. You’ll be the cause of….” Dazai’s eyes roamed, catching a familiar vibrant red hair walking past a crowd, knocking on the door that Dostoyevsky just went into. Dazai frowned as he watched the man open the door for him, letting him in with a smile on his face. Dazai was somewhat jealous, but he was more concerned with the fact that he went into a room with a known drug dealer. 

 

“Hello?” The woman waved her hands in front of his face, bringing his attention back to her. He smiled at her, bringing his hands to her chin. 

 

“I’m so sorry, Miss, but I have something to do right now. I’ll be right back.” He lied. He gave her one last flirtatious smile, watching her blush uncontrollably as he left. Dazai walked around the casino, trying to find Yosano, who was clearly winning at Blackjack, surrounded by a crowd of people. Dazai fought his way through the people, trying to get to her.

 

“Hey, I’m going to leave a bit early.” He whispered in her ear.

 

“Oh? Found someone already?” She didn’t look over at him, only focused on the cards before her and the old rich men who were sweating from nervousness.

 

“More like an old friend.” She smirked, still keeping her eyes on the cards.

 

“Is it the redhead who beat you up?”

 

“I’m guessing Ranpo showed you the footage.”

 

“Oh, you bet he did. Anyways, I have a game to win. Go have fun.” She brushed him away. He walked away, fighting his way out of the crowd. 

 

The night air was cool and refreshing. He went into the parking lot, searching for Chuuya’s car, which was not so tricky since he likes having flashy things— and memorized his car and his license plate. He leaned over his car, waiting for him patiently.    

 

Chuuya walked into the room, following Dostoyevsky’s movements. He sat on the couch, pulling out a lengthy, medium-sized box resembling a jewelry case, opening it in front of him. 

 

“The usual— four, cocaine-filled vials, with another ounce of pure cocaine.” Chuuya took out a wad of cash, tossing it to the man. He ran his fingers through the crisp papers, smiling.

 

“It was a pleasure doing business.” Chuuya rolled his eyes, taking the sleek black box into his hands and walking out the door. He felt such a relief, feeling himself going back to normal as he walked back to his car, clutching the box under his arm. Then he saw him. The idiot with a smiling face, waving at him as he leaned against his car.

 

“What the fuck are you doing here? Are you some sort of stalker, now?” Dazai didn’t say a word. He just looked at him with a devilishly soft smile on his face. 

 

“I was just around.” Chuuya looked at him, clutching the box tighter. Dazai looked at the box for a moment. Chuuya could see a second of worry in his eyes but diverted his eyes back at Chuuya’s face again. 

 

“I was hoping we could have fun tonight,” Dazai said softly, walking towards Chuuya. Bringing his hands to his neck, tracing his fingers along with the choker.

 

“Go fuck yourself.” Chuuya walked past him, trying to get into the car, but Dazai grabbed him behind, sending shockwaves through his body. He held onto his waist, brushing his lips against the crook of his neck.

 

“You really do have a death wish, huh?” Chuuya’s voice quivered. Dazai raised his lips to his ears, softly whispering, sending chills to his body.

 

“Only if you’re the only one to kill me.” He kissed his jawline, pressing his body against his. Chuuya let out a pleasurable sigh, feeling the pit of his stomach getting tied into knots.

 

“Get in the car,” Chuuya ordered, feeling the curl of Dazai’s smirk on his neck. Dazai obeyed him, walking over to the passenger’s side. Chuuya placed the box in the backseat, looking at it for a moment before closing the door and getting into his car. He wanted to ask himself if it was right for him to be with Dazai again. He was afraid of being left again, but as he looked at him again, it felt like none of it really mattered anymore. It made him feel angry with himself, but he wanted it so badly. Ever since that night, he wanted it again and again. 

 

Chuuya let Dazai into the apartment, walking in and placing the box at the center table. Dazai looked out into the balcony again, watching the lights glimmer. Chuuya walked over, pressing his head against his back. He wanted to grab him, to hold his slender body. He could feel Dazai smiling, turning around to face him. They looked at each other for a moment, trying to find the outcome of what will happen after this night. It was unclear to both— to Dazai especially. 

 

Dazai leaned down, clashing his lips on his. Chuuya could taste the bitterness of his lips and tongue, tasting the whiskey and bourbon. Chuuya entangled his fingers through his hair, tugging on his lightly, making Dazai groan. He missed that sound so much; even though it had been a week, it felt like he could never grow tired of hearing his moans. 

 

Dazai could feel the metal ball on Chuuya’s tongue glide against his, running to the bottom of his lips. He was growing tired, wanting to feel the softness of his skin again. Their heads were growing hazy as their lips glided against the other. He began to undo Chuuya’s button-down, but Chuuya grew impatient with Dazai’s slow fingers.

 

“Hurry up.” Dazai didn’t say a word, only smiled against his lips, obeying Chuuya’s every command. He worked his fingers quickly, brushing his fingers against the skin he waited so long to touch. He raised his fingers up his chest feeling a soft metal. He broke away, looking at the dangling metal on his chest.

 

“You kept the ring.” It was a statement rather than a question. He looked up at Dazai, already knowing the question he was about to ask.

 

“Yeah. I took it off the last time you came while you were in the bathroom.” For some reason, it made Dazai grow more hungry, pressing his lips firmly against Chuuya’s. He pushed him against the hallway walls, not wanting to break away for a moment to get to the bedroom. 

 

They crashed onto the bed, their legs intertwined together, Dazai sliding his tongue into his mouth, feeling the vibration of a moan escape the redhead’s throat. Chuuya began to slide his hands under Dazai’s shirt, unbuttoning it, trying hard to take it off. Yet, Dazai had enough control to not let it happen. Chuuya whined as he struggled to get the other man to separate their lips so he could undress him. The noise made him weak, almost doing what Chuuya wanted of him. Dazai began to kiss down Chuuya’s neck, letting his lips touch the soft skin, his tongue tasting the sweetness of his beating pulse against his tongue. Chuuya’s legs began to wiggle in anticipation as he let out the sweetest noises, making Dazai lose whatever control he had left. He took his shirt off, displaying the wrapped bandages on his upper body and kissing him once again, trying to make up for the seconds they had lost from him taking off his shirt. 

 

“I fucking hate you.” Chuuya breathed out as Dazai trailed kisses down to his stomach, unbuckling his belt.

 

“I know.” Dazai leaned in and kissed him again. 

 

It felt like one as their bodies collided into each other, feeling the warm embrace of the love that they once had known coming back to them. Chuuya was never desperate to achieve the same feeling he got with Dazai from other men. Still, every time Dazai touched him, he could not help but feel like this was all he needed. Like no other man could successfully make him feel more alive than Dazai does. Letting the little death hit him, making his heart stop in pleasurable anguish, reviving him back to life to see the man he has loved for so long. 

 

Dazai was no different. He could recount the lovers he had in the past, never making him feel so complete as Chuuya did. He made him feel like he was living a life that he had always wanted to live, to have him by his side, loving him in the most vibrant light shining through the darkness of his heart. Reviving every piece of himself, every part that Chuuya had touched. His heart was growing louder, letting him know just how alive he was when he was with him.

 

Dazai watched the sleeping redhead, studying his breathing like he once had. He wanted to smile, to feel happy, but that box was etched in the back of his brain. He got up from the bed walking to the living room, standing before the center table, looking down at the black box. He grabbed hold of it. His hopes wanted to rise, but he knew more than anything his calculations would be correct. He opened the box to see the white powder in four vials and a separate bag. Dazai sighed deeply, trying to relieve the pain in his heart. He wanted to think that Chuuya was predictable, wanted to believe that he knew Chuuya like the back of his hand, predicting everything Chuuya was going to do before he did it, but for once, he didn’t have an answer. 

 

He placed the box back at the table, going back to bed. He looked at him, watching as he lightly snored. He wanted to smile and laugh and pretend like he didn’t see what he just saw, but the voice in his head just kept screaming at him. He flung his arms around him, laying on his chest, listening to the sound of his heartbeat, letting the beating of his heart muffle the voices, letting him drift to sleep.

Chapter Text

Dazai looked at the redhead, overhearing his conversations with the other students. He was popular, always making new friends every day, whereas Dazai didn’t have any besides Oda and Chuuya. Even the people he flirted with and dated didn’t even hang out with him due to embarrassment. He had a reputation around the school for being weird yet charming but was not popular. He was merely liked just for usage, to fill a void. No one really took him seriously, so he never took them seriously either. But every time he looked at Chuuya, there was jealousy from everyone that talked to him. They could make him smile and laugh so easily, his smile growing bright. He didn’t want him to smile at anyone like that unless it was him. 

 

“How long have you been practicing for?” A boy asked, flinging his arm around him. Dazai glared at him, though they didn’t seem to pay attention to him. 

 

“I’ve been practicing since I was five,” Chuuya said, smiling at the boy. Dazai could have sworn he blushed a bit. Anger rose within him, yet he just attentively watched him.

 

“Wow, your parents must be really proud.”

 

“Yeah, I guess my Dad takes some pride.” Chuuya jokes.

 

“What about your Mom?” Someone else in the circle asked. Chuuya froze as he heard that word. He looked at them, trying to find out the words.

 

“I don’t have one.” His expression went blank, letting his smile fade. Dazai frowned, watching his smile slowly fade. 

 

“Oh…” Chuuya was confused as to why all of them looked so sad.

 

“How’d she die?” A girl asked him. He was unsure how to answer or where they were trying to get at.

 

“Well, I don’t know if she’s dead. I just never had a mother.” 

 

“How could you not have a mother? How were you born then?” Chuuya knew it was a harmless joke, but he managed to get up from his seat abruptly, about to say something until Dazai yelled over to him.

 

“Hey, Slug!” Chuuya turned around, catching the twinkle in Dazai’s eyes. It almost stopped his heart. Dazai smiled at him like he was reassuring him. It made Chuuya feel weak. Chuuya stopped for a moment and looked back at the group, who looked confused and puzzled at his sudden outburst.

 

“You know Dazai?” Someone asked. Chuuya sat back down with the group, glancing at Dazai for a moment, watching the eyes grow sullen. 

 

“Yeah. He’s my roommate.” 

 

“Shit. I feel bad for you, man.” The boy next to him laughed out loud. 

 

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Chuuya could feel his heart accelerating from the anger he was building.

 

“I don’t know if you’ve heard, but he’s quite the attention-seeker. I heard that he’ll date anyone that gives him the littlest attention.” One student said.

 

“I heard he’s a real slut.” Another said. Chuuya stood up again, grabbing the boy next to him by the collar.

 

“You wanna run your mouth again, jackass?” Chuuya hissed, throwing the boy to the ground walking away from the group. He looked at Dazai, who was stunned, but he was so happy. No one had really stuck up for him before. Dazai had only heard him say things about sticking up for him, but to actually see him do it was like watching his favorite hero save him. His eyes grew soft, Chuuya half-smiled at him, feeling his heart pound differently as he looked at Dazai. Chuuya was about to make his way to Dazai, but Kouyou’s voice echoed at the door, calling to him.

 

“Chuuya.” He looked over to the woman. He didn’t need to hear the orders come from her mouth to know she wanted to talk to him. He made his way to her, looking up at her deathly calm demeanor.

 

“You mustn’t pick fights, boy. This is a prestigious school, and if you want to stay in the orchestra, you have to abide. You don’t want to ruin the reputation here, do you?” Chuuya slightly gulped, shaking his head.

 

“No, ma’am.” 

 

“Don’t call me that. Now, you’re our star, Chuuya. We can’t have you getting into petty fights.” Chuuya wanted to cringe at being called a ‘star’ but just nodded his head again.

 

“Yes, ma—” Chuuya stopped himself, looking at Kouyou’s glare.

 

“I mean, yes, Kouyou.” She smiled at him, giving him a small pat on the head. He walked away towards Dazai, sitting next to him.

 

“Hey, Mackerel.” Dazai looked at him for a moment, he wanted to smile, but he turned away, playing with his fingers.

 

“Why do you have to name after a smelly fish?” Dazai cried out, leaning back on his chair.

 

“Because you are smelly.” Chuuya laughed out. Dazai dramatically took a breath in, putting his hand on his chest as if he was in shock.

 

“I am not smelly!” 

 

“Yes, you are!” 

 

“Am not!” They laughed aloud, wiping the tears from their eyes, clutching onto their stomachs. Dazai looked at him sincerely, feeling the giddy inside as he thought about what had happened earlier.

 

“You know you’re not popular anymore,” Dazai said. Chuuya looked at him and shrugged. It didn’t matter to him; he didn’t really care.

 

“If they’re going to be rich snobs, then I’ll have nothing to do with them. Especially if they want to talk shit about my best friend.” Dazai tried not to smile when he said that, looking away from him until he could contain himself.

 

“Well, you really are a good dog, aren’t you?” Dazai cooed at him, ruffling his hair.

 

“Tsk! Fucking bastard!” Chuuya pushed his hands away from his hands. Dazai laughed at him, Chuuya grabbing onto his shirt, pulling him towards him. 

 

“If you pull me any closer, I will kiss you in front of everyone.” Dazai childishly smiled, hearing Chuuya groan, letting him go. Dazai was somewhat disappointed that he had let him go. Still, he did know that some people were already staring at them, looking at them awkwardly.

 

Chuuya and Dazai sat next to the window, smoking, and drinking from their shared flask. Dazai was drawing the garden before them. The setting sun was glowing a fiery orange, watching how the colors complimented the flowers and the trees— but it wasn’t the only thing the light complimented. Dazai’s eyes strayed away from the garden, looking at Chuuya writing music notes on a paper. But he didn’t care for that. He only stared at how God-like Chuuya looked, his lips slightly parted, his eyes softly fixating on the notes. 

 

“Are you just going to keep staring at me?” Dazai was shocked for a brief second, smiling and unashamed from getting caught staring at him.

 

“I like the view.” Chuuya scoffed, shaking his head. Chuuya was always unsure when Dazai said flirtatious things to him. He didn’t want to be one of Dazai’s little past-times. He actually wanted to be with him, hold him, and love him. But it was just something he would have to keep inside for now. 

 

“Yeah, whatever.” 

 

“What are you doing?” Dazai leaned over, gracefully snatching the papers.

 

“Hey!” Dazai pushed the boy away, holding the papers over his head reading the notes. The music played in his head, hearing the sweetest music coming from them.

 

“It’s not finished. Give it back!” Chuuya jumped up from trying to retrieve the papers back. Dazai looked back at him and then the papers.

 

“What?” 

 

“I never thought someone like you could ever write something so elegant and sensual.” Dazai gave back the papers, and Chuuya snatched them right back. 

 

“Of course, I can. It’s what I want to do.” Chuuya sat back down on the chair, lighting another cigarette. Dazai began to wonder about Chuuya. Although he was predictable and impulsive, he hardly knew much about his home life besides his father. Chuuya knew Dazai already, knowing about his strained family dynamic. 

 

“Have you always wanted to be a composer?” Dazai asked, taking a sip from their flask.

 

“Yeah. I always wanted to write music and conduct it.” Dazai nodded his head, passing the flask to him. Chuuya took it without a second thought, taking a drink from it.

 

“Did you always want to be a painter?” Chuuya continued, looking out into the garden, leaning his head on the windowsill. Dazai stayed silent, took his pencil, and drew Chuuya secretly.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Let me guess, your father doesn’t want you to be a painter?” 

 

“Heh. Yeah.” Dazai let out a small chuckle, glancing at Chuuya to catch his expressions— they were soft but intense. The cigarette hung loosely around his lips as his eyes looked deeply at the garden.

 

“Why is your mother such a touchy subject?” Chuuya took the cigarette out of his lips, sighing, without looking away from the garden, like he knew Dazai was sketching him.

 

“I don’t know, I never met her, but from what I was told, she probably wasn’t a good person.”

 

“Why’s that?” Chuuya shrugged, taking a drag and then smashing it on the ashtray.

 

“She did something to me that I don’t think would ever be forgivable.” Dazai knew that Chuuya didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t push any further, letting the silence grow between them as the sun disappeared, turning the sky into a purple shade. The room grew dark, but the night light coming from the sky left its imprint on Chuuya, making it the only thing Dazai could see.

 

Chuuya got up, turning on the light and sitting back down without saying a word. “What are you doing for winter break?” Dazai looked up, closing his sketchpad.

 

“I don’t know, probably hang out with Oda if he’s not working, which he most likely is.” Dazai sighed, leaning back in his chair, looking out, watching the stars shine and twinkle. Chuuya caught Dazai’s eyes, watching the stars reflect on them like, glistening into the pitch blackness.

 

“Do you want to come over for winter break then?” Chuuya asked, casually, averting his eyes away from Dazai’s eyes.

 

“Aw, Chuuya can’t be away from me, huh? I knew you always had a soft spot for me!” Chuuya growled, kicking Dazai’s legs as he giggled.

 

“I just don’t want you to be alone for Christmas and New Year’s.” Chuuya’s voice was low, almost like a whisper, for only Dazai to hear. 

 

“No. I’ll be okay.” He wanted to go, but he didn’t want to feel unwelcome, fearing that Chuuya’s father wouldn’t like him.

 

“Oh, c’mon, my Dad has been dying to meet you.” Dazai was surprised by this; he never really thought anyone would be dying to meet him. But granted, he had heard Chuuya talk to his father about him without Chuuya’s acknowledgment— he still was unaware that Dazai spoke French, hearing all the things he said to his father. Dazai was unsure, though, looking back at Chuuya. He gave him a reassuring look. Dazai hated those eyes. He didn’t want to feel like he was missing out on things. He was aware of his jealousy towards Chuuya’s relationship with his father. He didn’t want to feel like he was missing the things that other people had— especially Chuuya. To Dazai, Chuuya had everything Dazai had ever wanted, but that was one thing he loved about Chuuya: he could express himself freely and have the parental love that Dazai craved for.

 

“Ugh, fine.” Dazai reluctantly agreed, watching a smirk stretch onto Chuuya’s face. Dazai quietly groaned, looking back at the stars. ‘ Beautiful .’ Dazai thought, picturing Chuuya as he looked up at the night sky with Chuuya sitting alongside him, playing Rock music while they drank and smoked more. 

 

 

“So, what you’re telling me is that you’re scared?” Oda wanted to laugh because he had never thought he would hear those words come out of Dazai’s mouth ever. He knew that Dazai was just a fragile child, but he always wanted to pretend things didn’t worry him or faze him.

 

“No,” Dazai lied.

 

“I just don’t know how to act around parents.” Oda understood where Dazai was coming from. He knew the boy had a strained relationship with his parents. Other parents viewed him as a bad influence or a shameful child, no matter how hard Dazai tried to be good. He was just expected to act like he was grown when he was only a child. Oda pitied him, but he knew showing Dazai that would only make him feel worse about it.

 

“So what? You want me to help you get out of it?” 

 

“Would Oda do that for me?” Dazai’s eyes grew wide like a child in desperation. 

 

“Hell no. You made a promise, and you need to keep it.” Oda reshuffled the cards, watching from the corner of his eye as Dazai pouted and crossed his arms. 

 

“Listen, it’s probably not that bad. You said that his father really loves him, right? What makes you think that he won’t like you? Are you really that afraid of being liked?” 

 

“No! I just want to be really liked. I don’t want to fuck things up, that’s all.” Oda chuckled a bit. ‘ And he says he doesn’t love him. Going out of his way to meet his father .’

 

“I know what you’re thinking, and I am not in love with him.” 

 

“Yeah, yeah. You say that, and by the end of this break, you’re going to end up telling me that you guys are together and happy.” Dazai glared at him. He did want it to happen, he really did, but he wasn’t sure if he should get close to him, afraid of himself. He didn’t want to hurt him, but he knew he would, if not now, then later in life.

 

“Look, you like him. Face it. He most likely likes you back. Why don’t you just confess to him?” Oda was somewhat old-fashioned, but that didn’t stop Dazai from not taking his advice— until now.

 

“Oda, you’re supposed to be smart! Why are you suggesting such absurd things!” Oda tossed the cards back into the box, knowing that they would not be playing poker.

 

“Okay, then don’t. Keep your emotions bottled up until they explode in your face.” 

 

“Oh, thank you, Oda! I knew I could count on you for the best advice.” Oda sighed, taking out his flask as Dazai did his.

 

“Since when did you get one?” Oda hated that Dazai drinks since he was just a child, but alas, there was nothing he could do about it.

 

“Oh, Chuuya got it from an upperclassman that he’s friends with.” Oda stared at him blankly.

 

“And you two share it?”

 

“Of course. Chuuya’s things are my things.” Oda pursed his lips, looking at him with wide eyes, waiting for him to read his mind.

 

“It is not like that, Oda!” He pinched the bridge of his nose, sighing again, letting the topic drop. 

 

“Sorry, I can’t hang out with you this winter, by the way.”

 

“Don’t worry. I’m actually going to have lots of fun tormenting Chuuya during the break.” Dazai smirked, taking another drink.

 

“But you were just… Oh, never mind. Anyway, I might have to drop out of school since tuition is getting more expensive. So I’m going to have to save a lot if I want to go back.” Dazai looked at him in worry. He didn’t want Oda to give up on school and lose his dream of becoming a writer. He tried to help him in any way as compensation for helping him and being there for him. Dazai knew one way, but he was afraid to suggest it, but it would help him a lot, and he would get to see him more often rather than just once a week. Dazai had to admit, he was being partially selfish about this offer. 

 

“How about you work at the new concert hall? I heard they are hiring new people. I could put in a good word for you, plus, the pay is really good, I hear.” Oda frowned, contemplating on the offer. He thought for a moment about the benefits that it would have.

 

“I’ll think about it.” He smiled at Dazai, raising his flask in the air to Dazai. Dazai raised his flask as well, hitting the corner of Oda’s, hearing a slight clink. 

 

 “Dazai, hurry your ass up! My Dad is gonna be here any minute.” Chuuya gathered their suitcases as Dazai paced the last of his things in his messenger bag.

 

“So impatient.”

 

“I’m not impatient. I just want to make my Dad wait. He hates the cold.” Dazai walked over to Chuuya, patting his head. 

 

“See, I’m ready. Now, stop nagging like you’re my wife.” Chuuya clenched his jaw and fists. He was about to say something to him as his phone buzzed. He took out his phone to see the message that his father had sent him.

 

“Shit, he’s outside, c’mon.” Chuuya grabbed his suitcase, leaving Dazai to grab his own. He grabbed his things, trying to catch up with Chuuya. 

 

“Chuuya… slow… down.” 

 

“You pride yourself on having long legs yet no stamina. What a waste!” Chuuya snickered, walking out of the front doors of the academy to see his father.

 

“Dad!” Chuuya yelled at a man with long black hair, wearing a winter coat and a red scarf. He smiled at the redhead as he jumped up and hugged him tightly. He had never seen a father embrace his son like he was the light of his life, like his father was very much proud of him and everything he had and could do in life. Dazai wanted to run back and hide again, but knowing Chuuya, he would run after him, dragging him by the ear. Dazai walked over slowly to the man, smiling brightly.

 

“Hi—” He began to greet, but the man beat him to it.

 

“You must be Dazai. It’s finally nice to meet you.” The man hugged him tightly, taking his bags. Dazai was in shock, which Chuuya had witnessed the priceless look on his face. Chuuya smirked, shaking his head, hitting his arms lightly, cocking his head to follow him into the car. Dazai followed him, sitting in the back seat as Chuuya took the front, then his father took his seat in the driver’s seat. His father started the car, driving away, Chuuya plugging his phone into the aux cord. The guitar strummed through the radio, making Chuuya smile, turning the volume up higher, his father smiling as well as Chuuya began to sing along. In the months Dazai had known him, Chuuya had never sung like that in front of him like he was naturally a lead singer, a natural-born rockstar. 

 

The cold wind is blowing through Chuuya’s hair. Dazai bit back a smile, staring at him like he was at a front-row concert, watching him sing right in front of him. But then his father turned down the music, Chuuya clicking his tongue.

 

Ah c’mon, Dad. The poor asshole doesn’t know any of these songs. I’m teaching him a thing or two about Rock music .” Chuuya told his father in French.

 

Stop calling him an asshole, Chuuya .” His father warned him.

 

But he is, plus he doesn’t speak French, thankfully, because this pretentious bastard could speak three different languages .”

 

You can speak three, Chuuya .” Chuuya rolled his eyes. Dazai was holding in a laugh, trying to contain, thinking of the face Chuuya would make when he found out that he can actually speak four languages.

 

“Dazai, Chuuya tells me that you’re actually in the orchestra with him. What instruments do you play?” No one had really seemed interested in what Dazai did, or even wanted to do, or how he felt about it, so this was a surprise to him by default. But he nevertheless still wanted to answer, awaiting Chuuya’s surprise.

 

I actually play violin and piano, but I’m focusing more on piano .” Chuuya spun his head around, his face growing red, thinking of all the times he was talking to his father about him. His father tried to contain his giggling, trying not to hurt his father’s pride.

 

“What the hell! Since when the fuck did you learn to speak French, you fucking asshole?!” Dazai began to laugh along with Arthur.

 

“Since I was 12, along with English at 9, and Russian at 13.” Chuuya clenched his jaw, turning his head furiously back to the front.

 

“Well, your parents must be very proud of you.” Dazai’s smile disappeared, humming and agreeing with him, though he knew it would be false. Chuuya could hear it in his voice— he was hurt, even if his father unintentionally did it.

 

“I can’t fucking believe you! You had me believing you couldn't fucking speak French for months! What the fuck is wrong with you?” Chuuya shifted his body, preparing to hit Dazai, although his father caught his fist just in time. Dazai roared out a laugh again, smiling uncontrollably. 

 

“Sit back down, Chuuya.” He complied, being tortured by Dazai’s laughing. 

 

“You’re not fucking funny!” He frowned, crossing his arms, acting like a small child who didn’t get the toy he wanted. Arthur looked in his rearview mirror, silently watching how Dazai looked at Chuuya when he wasn’t looking. He was fond of him, admired him, and made him happy. Arthur could see the slight glimmer in his eyes as he smiled, looking at Chuuya. Arthur then smiled to himself, placing his eyes back on the road. 

 

“You have a lovely home, Mr. Rimbaud,” Dazai said with a smile.

 

“Oh, please drop the ‘mister’ or call me Arthur.” Dazai politely nodded his head while Chuuya glared at him.

 

“Why are you acting so differently all of a sudden? The Dazai I know isn’t nice but an annoying prick? Where did the annoying prick go?” Dazai smirked, getting close to Chuuya, whispering in his ear, “That’s only for when we’re alone.” Shivers were sent down Chuuya’s body, his breath grazing his jaw and ear, but he did not react. He pushed Dazai off him, taking their bags to another room. Dazai looked around the house. It was a cozy house, nothing big, but not too small. There were many different bookshelves, all with various topics: modern art, postmodernism, ballet, philosophy, Japanese literature, English literature, French literature, etc. But there were a few books that caught his eye. He had never really read any books about gender and queer theory. Without a thought, he took out one of the books, skimming through them. As Dazai read, he felt even more small, like he didn’t know anything about himself like he should have. He was a bisexual boy who didn’t know anything about being bisexual. He didn’t know any other queer people besides Chuuya and now Arthur. Yes, he had been with boys, but he had never been friends with them or been able to have a genuine conversation about what it is like to be a queer individual. Most of the time, no one believed him, it was either your gay, or you’re straight, so he just played the part of whoever he was with— if they thought Dazai was straight, then he was straight if they thought he was gay, he was gay. But he was none of the two. 

 

“Great book! I appreciate how the author addresses the health problems many queer people face due to medical bias. It’s quite interesting.” Arthur walked beside him, leaning down to peek at the chapter he was reading, yet Dazai closed it and put it back on the shelf.

 

“Sorry, it’s just I never really seen books like these before. My parents would’ve died from shock if they ever caught me reading this.” Dazai laughed it off, but Arthur could see that Dazai struggled with many things.

 

“You do know I am gay, correct?” Arthur asked, taking the book out the shelf once again, skimming through them. His voice was profound; it almost made Dazai question why he even said anything at all or why he let his curiosity get the best of him.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you mind?” Dazai shot his head up to look at the man, shaking his head.

 

“Chuuya had actually told me about you, then he told me about himself.”

 

“And how do you feel about that?” Arthur put the book back, skimming through the other books on the shelf.

 

“There’s nothing to feel. That’s who you guys are. It’s your identity… No one should take that away from you.” Dazai said quietly, pretending to look at the other books. Arthur smiled down at him.

 

“And who are you?” It seemed like a genuine question, Arthur wanting to know who Dazai was, what his aspirations were, what he thought, what he felt, but Dazai didn’t even know himself. He says he wants to be a painter, although no one truly believed in him. He says that he hates the orchestra, playing the piano, hates his parents— he hates it all.

 

“I don’t know.” Dazai laughed to himself as if it was all a big joke. Yet, he wasn’t laughing because it was humorous, but because he felt powerless again, laughing out of frustration. 

 

“I think you do, but you don’t want to say. That’s fine, though, but just know, even if my son is quick to react at times, he does listen. And, you didn’t hear this from me, but he really cares for you.” Arthur gave him a kind smile before turning away, disappearing into the kitchen.

 

Dazai heard Chuuya’s footsteps stomp on the wooden floors. “Ah, impressed?” Chuuya smirked proudly as Dazai stood by the bookcase. 

 

“Nah, not really. I have way more books back at home.” Dazai walked away to explore the rest of the house.

 

“Then go back home then!” 

 

“Nah, I prefer to bother Chuuya on his vacation. That sounds way more fun.” Dazai walked down the hall, feeling Chuuya stomp behind him.

 

“I invited you, bastard. You better act grateful or else—” Dazai stopped, spinning himself around, placing a hand under Chuuya’s chin.

 

“Or else what?” Chuuya glared at him but did not push him away.

 

“Sorry to tell you, but I’m not that gullible to fall for your tactics, shithead.” Chuuya walked past him, walking further down the hall.  

 

“C’mon, let me show you my room.” Dazai followed eagerly.

 

“Oh, Chuuya is showing me his room. And you say that you don’t fall for my charms.” Chuuya rolled his eyes.

 

“I’m starting to think you actually want to have sex with me.” Chuuya scrunched his nose in disgust, displaying the faint freckles on his face even more.

 

“So what if I do?” Chuuya blushed a bit, feeling his heart racing, glaring at him. Dazai stretched a smirk on his lips.

 

“Just kidding! I wouldn’t want to touch a slimy Slug like you!” Chuuya punched his arm, but the blush did not leave his face.

 

“And I would want to have sex with a smelly Mackrel like you!” Chuuya walked over to his closet, talking out the bedding for the futon.

 

“You’re sleeping on the floor,” Chuuya announced, placing the bedding on his bed.

 

“What! But I’m the guest. I should have Chuuya’s comfy bed.” Dazai flopped his body onto the bed. It was warmer and had more cushion than the one back at the academy. It smelled like laundry detergent. Dazai wanted to wrap himself within the blankets, to sleep, and never wake up. 

 

“Hell no! You’re sleeping on the floor!” Chuuya got on the bed, trying to push him off. Dazai did nothing but lay there as he clenched onto the bedding to keep himself on the bed.

 

“Get the fuck off!”

 

“Nope! Never!” Dazai sang, laughing at Chuuya’s attempt to win, though Dazai knew he wouldn’t win in this fight. Chuuya then spun Dazai around, using his legs to push him off, but Dazai then clung to the hem of his shirt.

 

“Don’t pull on my shirt!”

 

“Then stop pushing me off the bed.” The two struggled, Chuuya pushing Dazai’s face, which led to him licking it.

 

“Ew! What the fuck!” Chuuya stopped, wiping off the saliva from his hand on his pants. Dazai snickered, readjusting himself on the bed. Chuuya got on top of him, bucking his legs together, grabbing onto Dazai as he rolled them off the bed. A loud thump echoed in the room; Chuuya groaned in pain, opening his eyes to see Dazai smiling down at him. He had never seen Dazai so up close like this. He always knew Dazai had such a beautiful face and charm that made him somewhat more attractive. But not like this. Chuuya could kiss him right then and there, just by how gentle his beauty was, but no matter how much his heart yearned for it, he denied it. 

 

“If you wanted us to sleep on the floor together, you could have said so,” Chuuya grunted as he rolled again until Dazai was the one on the floor. Chuuya sprang up quickly, just Dazai was quicker, grabbing onto Chuuya’s ankle, making him fall face-first on the floor. Dazai ran past him, taking his place on the bed again. 

 

“I hate you so much!” Chuuya yelled.

 

“Right back at you!” Dazai fluffed the pillow, closing his eyes as he laid there, embracing the warmth and comfort of what once was Chuuya’s bed. 

 

“Ugh!” Chuuya pulled out his phone, playing his music, and he began to unpack. Dazai looked around the room, seeing posters scattered on the wall and tons of books on the shelves and desk, along with a guitar.

 

“You play guitar too?” Chuuya looked up at his guitar and then to Dazai.

 

“Yeah.” Dazai was intrigued; he wanted him to play something. Dazai wondered if Chuuya looked the same way he did when playing the violin.

 

“Do you want me to play something?” Chuuya half-joked, smirking to himself, and he placed his clothes inside drawers and the closet. 

 

“Nah, I don’t want to hear Chuuya’s loud playing.” Dazai laid his head back on the pillow. He wanted him to play so bad for him, to hear the music that he would play. He had learned a lot about music from Chuuya, learning about the different genres in the world.

 

“Just for that, I’m going to play something.” Chuuya paused his music, picking his guitar. He sat at the foot of the bed, tuning his guitar and strumming it to get the right tune. Dazai was mesmerized by watching as such a simple action could be so beautiful. He began to play a song that Dazai had never really heard before. It was slow and melodic, but as he heard Chuuya begin to sing, it was like the world collided, bringing an explosion into his heart. Dazai wanted to kiss him so badly that it began to hurt. His chest was about to burst open, hearing the softness of his loud, erratic voice. 

 

Once he stopped playing, he looked at him with his head held high. “What’d you think?”

 

“What song was that?” Dazai snapped out of it, looking as if it was a mediocre performance that didn’t deserve too much attention.

 

And I Love Her , I prefer the Kurt Cobain version rather than The Beatles, but to each its own.” Dazai hummed in acknowledgment, nodding his head slowly.

 

“Well, that was the worst performance you’ve done yet.” Chuuya calmly set his guitar back, taking a deep breath before lunging at Dazai, trying to push him off his bed, only to be defeated once again.

 

Dazai couldn’t sleep. He turned his body to see Chuuya next to him. Dazai had refused to leave the bed but so did Chuuya, so they ended up sharing the bed. He felt the arm fly over him. He got closer to him, looking at his face closer. He looked so beautiful even when he was like this. Dazai began to gently caress Chuuya’s cheek, staring at his lips.

 

I should have kissed him .’ He sighed, gently getting out of bed, making sure to wake him. He rummaged through his things, grabbing a cigarette and lighter and heading out the back door. The night was cold, it stung the skin on his face, but he didn’t care. He lit the cigarette while inhaling it, puffing out smoke. But something caught the corner of his eyes. He turned, startled to see his father looking straight at him with a cigarette in his hand as well. They looked at each other in shock, hiding their cigarettes where they would be out of sight from the other.

 

“What are you doing, young man?” 

 

“I could ask you the same, old man.” Arthur winced at being called old.

 

“Don’t tell Chuuya. He’ll wring my neck.” Arthur pleaded. Dazai smiled, walking towards him.

 

“I won’t if you let me smoke.” Arthur groaned, taking another drag, looking the other way.

 

“Are you that afraid of your own son?” Dazai had meant it as a joke, but he could tell that Arthur was more willing to answer, which made Dazai wonder how much he was willing to answer.

 

“No. I just don’t want him to worry about my health. He’s always taken care of me, and I hate it. I should be the one caring for him, not the other way around. But I suppose he thinks if he doesn’t, then I’ll leave him like his mother did.” Dazai pretended like it wasn’t an essential piece of information, treating it as something he already knew. 

 

“Whatever happened to her?” Dazai said nonchalantly, taking another drag, Arthur doing the same.

 

“I’m not entirely sure I should say,” Dazai smirked up at him, menacingly.

 

“If you don’t, I’ll wake Chuuya up right now and tell him what you were doing.” Arthur glared at the boy, watching as his expressions turned more and more childish.

 

“I’m starting to think Chuuya was right about you being a little  asshole .” Dazai let out a quiet laugh, turning his attention to the stars.

 

“His mother left him on my doorstep. I didn’t know anything about her other than she left a note and CD along with him on my doorstep. He was so small he was born prematurely. He was all bloody like he had just been born, which he had. When I took him to the hospital, they said that he was born early and that the umbilical cord was not served properly. They suspected that the mother went to one of those underground hospitals.” Arthur inhaled the tobacco before continuing. Dazai did the same, feeling sick to his stomach.

 

“They didn’t properly clean him, either, which explained the blood. I think she may have wanted to get rid of him as quickly as possible. Like he was this monster, this parasite… I hate that woman for what she did to him, no matter if she had a reason. She could have taken him to the orphanage or left him at a hospital, but no, she left him out in the dark.” Dazai had never felt anger like this before. The heat in his body rose as he heard Arthur explain Chuuya’s past.  

 

“I was lucky enough to adopt him as a single parent. I visited him every day at the hospital. I remember thinking to myself, how could someone leave such a beautiful baby like that?” There was a moment of silence as they stared up at the sky, finishing their cigarettes.

 

“Did you read the letter or listen to the CD?” Dazai could tell from his expression that he had, even though he felt like he wasn’t supposed to.

 

“Yes. But I don’t think I could stomach talking about it.” Dazai nodded, agreeing with him on that.

 

“Does Chuuya know about it?” Arthur shook his head, crossing his arms, trying to warm himself.

 

“No. I plan to give it to him when the time is right, but I honestly don’t know when the right time is.” Dazai thinned his lips, letting silence fall between them.

 

“How did Chuuya even find out about his mother?” Arthur shrugged, trying to find the words to say as if the story of how Chuuya came to be still left him speechless.

 

“When he was little, he used to get into these fights with other students because of the fact that he didn’t have a mother. He asked me one day, and he was still little, so I didn’t say all the gruesome details. I just told him that his mother left him and gave him to me. But as he got older, I could tell he knew there was more to it than that.” Dazai’s throat felt strained, clenching his jaw in anger. 

 

“Why is his name even Chuuya?” Dazai had always wondered that when he first met him, but he knew it was a complex topic for Chuuya to even discuss, so he never brought it up. 

 

“His mother gave him that name. There was a birth certificate in the letter without the name of a hospital, mother, or father. It only had his name on it….” Dazai looked at him confused; he didn’t quite understand why Arthur would still have him keep the name of the woman who had hurt his son. Arthur looked over and understood the childlike expression.

 

“I kept the name because I knew one day Chuuya was going to be successful. So I guess I let the name stay to prove to his mother that he was happy, that he is living life, that the child she abandoned was successful and happy.” Arthur’s voice began to quiver, taking a deep breath, watching the hot air from his mouth hit the cold, thick air. Dazai hummed, taking in every word that he told him. His expression intensified and grew gloomy, trying to understand what he had just heard.  

 

“Well, I’m going back inside… Please don’t tell Chuuya. I love him too much to hurt him, not right now.” He saw Arthur’s eyes pleading to him, begging him to not tell him. Dazai nodded his head again. He had never seen such worry in a father’s eyes before. His heart was sinking and feeling like it was a bottomless pit that just kept sinking and sinking. 

 

“Oh, yes, and one more thing— I know just how much you love him. Please, don’t hurt him. And I know I may be a bit overprotective of him at times, but it’s only for a good reason.” Dazai looked at him, watching him go back inside the house. Dazai took one last look at the sky before heading back to bed himself. 

 

He laid there, staring at Chuuya, feeling the heat from his body radiate his. He caressed his cheek, feeling the softness glide under his fingertips; he leaned forward, pressing his lips onto his forehead.

 

“I’m sorry, Chuuya.” He softly whispered, drifting his eyes closed, watching as the light faded into darkness.

 

“Wake you, you piece of shit!” Dazai felt a little nudge waking him up to open his eyes to see Chuuya. The sunlight was hitting his face, his eyes and hair shining bright. ‘How beautiful.’ 

 

“My Dad is making pancakes, c’mon.” Dazai didn’t feel like getting out of bed. He wanted to stay there, just to look at him. He began to think of Arthur’s words. How could someone leave something so beautiful out in the dark like that? 

 

“Wait, short-stack.” 

 

“Ugh, what.” Dazai pointed to his bag.

 

“I need you to get me this present from there.” 

 

“No.” 

 

“Tsk. Stop being stubborn and just get your present.” Chuuya seemed to light up hearing that the present was for him. Dazai could see that he pretended to act like he didn’t want to, making Dazai smile.

 

Chuuya got out a small black box, sitting next to Dazai on the bed. Dazai slowly lingered, seeing the outfit Chuuya had on; a pair of jeans with a band t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. Dazai had never really seen him out of his school uniform other than a few times. However, it still somewhat seemed different every time he saw him, like he was in his own skin, his own being.

 

He opened the box, watching the smile slowly fade away from his face while Dazai’s grew wider. “You like it?” He asked, but he got a smack on the head instead of an answer.

 

“A collar? Seriously? Are you that obsessed with me being your ‘little dog’ that bad?” Dazai rolled his eyes, taking the choker out of the box.

 

“It’s not a collar. It’s a choker. Pardon me for thinking it was your style since the things that you wear are kind of edgy.” It was a good lie that Dazai practiced, knowing that Chuuya would react the way that he did. Dazai undid the choker, placing it around Chuuya’s neck, tightening it. He looked up at the same deep eyes, feeling like he could drown in them. Chuuya looked away, getting up to look at himself in the mirror in his room. He angled his head to get a clear view. He didn’t want to admit it, but he liked it a lot. It did fit him.

 

“You like it now?” Dazai asked again, throwing his arms around his shoulders. He just needed to touch him, only for a little bit. Chuuya pushed him off, stepping out the door.

 

“Come downstairs. Your food is getting cold,” Chuuya said. Dazai heard his voice grow faint as he walked down the stairs. He smiled to himself, standing for a moment before coming down the stairs to be greeted by Arthur and Chuuya, sitting at the table eating and drinking juice and coffee. The smell was sweet, like maple and fruit. It was warm, like a home. For a moment, Dazai was unsure if he should be there, questioning if he should make an excuse. 

 

“Get over here, you freak.” Chuuya signaled him to come to sit next to him. Dazai looked over to Arthur, who gave him a reassuring look, nodding, though he looked melancholy at the same time. Dazai understood; he walked over to the seat next to Chuuya, as he handed him pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and strawberries. Dazai was never one for sweets, but as he ate it, it tasted good. He was nervous; he had never really eaten with a family like this before. So freely, and that talked about anything to one another. He wasn’t on edge, but that made him nervous for some reason. He never had experienced something like this. 

 

“That’s new.” Arthur pointed at Chuuya’s neck.

 

“Oh, yeah. Dazai gave it to me as my Christmas present.” Arthur and Dazai stared at each other. Arthur smiled reluctantly, looking back at Chuuya.

 

“How nice of him,” Dazai smirked, eating his pancakes, hearing them talk. He knew he should feel some time of envy watching them, but he just felt happy.

 

“What do you think, Dazai? Are horror movies the best?” Dazai never thought he would feel included in something. Something warm hit his chest, feeling happy for a moment in his life. 

 

“Yeah, definitely.”

 

“See, Dad, you’re just a scaredy-cat!” Chuuya teased. The boys both laughed while Arthur rolled his eyes, watching the two boys look happy for a moment in their lives.

Chapter Text

Chuuya ran his fingers up Dazai’s neck, lightly squeezing, kissing his lips. Dazai smiled, tasting the sweet bitterness of the wine on his lips. He was never a fan of wine, but something about how it tasted on Chuuya’s lips tasted heavenly. 

 

After that night, Dazai and Chuuya had an unspoken agreement— Dazai would come over a couple days out of the week just to regularly sleep together. But neither of them wanted to admit that it was more than just the sex. Chuuya missed him, missed every part of him— even the ugly ones. Dazai did the same, yet ever since that night, Dazai had wanted to be with him in every moment, watching him, never wanting to leave his side in fear. But he had to think logically about the suspicion he would raise if he did that. He settled with just seeing him a couple days out of the week, loving him, even if it was for a few hours. 

 

Dazai laid on his chest, hearing his heart beating and the heavy breathing beneath him. “What are you fucking doing?” Chuuya asked, taking the cigarette out of his mouth handing it to Dazai.

 

“Just thinking.” Dazai faked a smile, putting the cigarette in between his fingers.

 

“About what?” Dazai felt lost, like he was losing something, like he was watching the light he used to be so mesmerized by, dying before his eyes. He had always thought of him to be this flame in the dark, lighting up the night, but as much as Dazai knows about him, his light grows dimmer and dimmer. 

 

“How that tongue piercing was an excellent investment.” It was a new addition to Chuuya’s piercings— he had gotten months after Dazai had left. Dazai raised the cigarette to his lips, smirking, watching Chuuya smile. ‘ Cocky as usual .’ Dazai climbed further, holding Chuuya’s face. He studied it, brushing his fingertips to his lips, all the way to his cheeks, caressing him. It was as if Dazai was trying to memorize every feature of Chuuya’s face again–– relearning the color of his hair eyes, remembering the structure of every expression he made. He wanted to remember all of it. He had wished he had done that with Oda, but Dazai knew that Oda didn’t care about being remembered in paintings. As long as he kept his promise to him, that was the only thing that mattered. But he still wished that he could paint one picture of him, so he couldn’t forget his face. 

 

Chuuya kissed the palm of his hand, softly smiling. He could see his eyes growing faint.

 

“You’re thinking about Oda right now?” Dazai shrugged, giving him one last kiss before laying back down.

 

“Yeah, I was just thinking about how I want to draw a painting of him.”

 

“Okay, but it’s kind of weird that you would think about that while you were literally groping my face.” Dazai sighed, hearing the jealous voice croak out of Chuuya’s throat. Dazai didn’t want to tell Chuuya why he was actually thinking about Oda–– about how he was angry at Chuuya for taking the spotlight in his brain to create art because he was just that beautiful. He wished he didn’t have to be mad at him for many reasons, but there was no point in talking about them.

 

“It was just something he told me. No need to get so jealous.” He teased, drawing small circles on his chest, hearing his heartbeat accelerate.

 

“I’m not jealous! Why would I be jealous?” Chuuya frowned, rolling his eyes. In truth, he was jealous. There were many things that they talked about, but the orchestra and Oda were two things the two men strayed away from. 

 

“Aw, I could even hear it in Chuuya’s voice.” Dazai raised himself slightly, poking the tip of Chuuya’s nose. 

 

“Shut up.” Chuuya snatched the cigarette back from his fingers, extinguishing it. Dazai clicked his tongue, bringing himself up, sitting on Chuuya’s lap.

 

“I’m not in the mood.” Chuuya was angry. He wasn’t sure why; he didn’t want to admit to himself that he was jealous. He was always jealous of Oda, always wondering if Dazai left him because of Oda. Chuuya did not know the full details, but it still hurt that he didn’t realize because Dazai refused to talk about it.

 

“Aw, Chuuya is jealous. Just admit it.” Dazai kept poking at him, taunting him. Chuuya kept slapping his hand away from him, but Dazai just kept teasing him. Chuuya began to grow angry. Dazai knew what he was doing, poking and teasing him about him being jealous. But it wasn’t for fun like he usually intended it to be. He wanted to get him angry, to anger him to the point of making him suffer. He wanted him to feel how he felt— to suffer, making him feel like he had lost everything. Dazai knew he shouldn’t be vengeful, it wasn’t Chuuya’s fault, but he couldn’t help it.

 

“I said stop it!” Chuuya shifted his body, now on top of Dazai, pinning his hands against the bed. Dazai’s expression grew cold. It wasn’t the only thing Dazai was mad about, but he couldn’t tell Chuuya about that either. He was angry that he had to get addicted to drugs and that he was killing himself slowly without anyone knowing about it. He was mad for many reasons, but it all seemed like his fault anyways. It was all Dazai’s fault that everything is the way that it is. His anger should be at himself, but he can’t help but take it out on Chuuya.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Dazai didn’t say a word; he only looked away at Chuuya, not wanting to look into his eyes. He felt like he was choking, drowning every time he looked into his eyes. 

 

“Nothing.” Chuuya could see that something was wrong, but he was pissed off at this point. He got off him, putting on his boxer briefs and his red silk robe, leaving him on the bed to go out into his balcony. Chuuya slammed the door, lighting another cigarette. He didn’t understand Dazai sometimes, pretending like he didn’t have a grudge. He just wished that Dazai would stop putting up that same wall that Chuuya had been trying to tear down since they were fifteen.

 

“Fucking bastard. I fuck him, and he has the fucking audacity to act like a prick afterward. Only he would do that— take it up the ass and act like it’s still up there. Fucking…” Chuuya angrily mumbled to himself, exhaling the smoke from his lungs. He turned when he heard the sliding door open to see Dazai, with only his pants on. Chuuya glared at him, even though he wanted to kiss him again. ‘ He has no fucking right to look like that. I’m pissed off at him. Don’t fall for his shitty tactics .’ Chuuya reminded himself, looking out at the city lights. 

 

“Is Chuuya still angry at me?” Dazai wrapped his arms around his waist, bringing him close into his embrace, tracing kisses on his neck.

 

“God, what the fuck is wrong with you?” Chuuya pushes him away, frowning at him, trying to understand him. 

 

“So that’s a yes.” Dazai sighed, leaning against the metal rail, looking out into the lights. Chuuya massaged his temples, trying to gather his thoughts.

 

“Yes, I mean no… Okay. Yes, I was jealous, but you kept pestering me about it like you were angry at me. Like you wanted me to get mad at you. Like you wanted me to suffer or something.” Dazai hated how Chuuya could casually read him. 

 

“Pfft! Yeah.” Dazai shrugged, pretending like he didn’t care. Chuuya took a deep breath, trying to relax. He wished the Dazai would just leave so he could do drugs. He didn’t have the patience for this anymore. He was tired and just wanted to be done with it. 

 

“I don’t know why you always insist on staying after we’re done fucking. You can fucking leave.” Chuuya sniffed, feeling his nose running. He had been doing that a lot, but he never realized it— Dazai did, though. 

 

“Are you getting sick?” He changed the subject. He didn’t want to leave–– he wanted to make Chuuya suffer until he no longer wanted the drugs anymore. 

 

“No. Now get the fuck out of my apartment before you piss me off even more.” Dazai didn’t move for a bit, looking at the city lights longer. 

 

“Why?” Dazai knew he was angering him, but he didn’t care. He didn’t understand why he was so angry all of a sudden. He thought about Oda and the drugs and Chuuya. All of it piling up on each other. He was angry and wasn’t sure where to place it.

 

“Because. Fuck Dazai, you can’t keep fucking doing the same shit. I’m tired of you acting the way that you do without a reason. I’ve fucking known you since we were fifteen, and you’re still putting up the same fucking walls.” Dazai pretended not to listen to a word he was saying, not taking his eyes away from the city.

 

“Whatever.” Chuuya figured that there was no use in it anymore. If Dazai wanted to stay, then fine, but he didn’t.

 

“Fuck you, Dazai.” Chuuya flicked his cigarette, walking out the balcony. He got himself dressed, taking the vials that he locked away in his drawer. He placed it inside his pocket, about to walk out only to see Dazai at the door frame.

 

“What?” Chuuya spat, glaring at him. Dazai didn’t say anything, but Chuuya could see the anger in his eyes. 

 

“What?” He repeated again. Dazai still didn’t say a thing, wrapping his arms around him loosely. Chuuya didn’t want to deal with Dazai’s confusing signals and didn’t have the time or the patience for any of it. He pushed him away again, looking into his eyes. They were like dark bottomless pits, peering into darkness. He wanted to see that twinkle in his eyes again, but there was nothing. Chuuya wanted to believe that these were the same eyes that used to stare at him so longingly, not so long ago, but as he stared at them now, he was not so sure anymore.

 

“Stay here or don’t. I don’t care.” Chuuya walked out, heading into his care, taking the vial, snorting two scoops–– back to back. He groaned, tossing his head back. He felt so good, a smile creeping on his lips. He laughed, starting his car to leave for the casino.

 

“I don’t understand why you have come here.” Dostoyevsky groaned, taking a shot of vodka. Chuuya snorted the line, putting the tray back down on the glass table. Chuuya had never really wanted to get to know Dostoyevsky. Still, ever since Dazai had been with him–– staying at his house and dropping by unannounced–– it was pretty impossible for him to even do what he wanted at the comfort of his own home. 

 

“I already told you, I have a pest at my house.” Chuuya wiped under his nose, leaning back into the couch. 

 

“Oh? Like a rat?” Chuuya shook his head.

 

“More like a roach.” They both giggled. Chuuya never particularly cared for Fyodor, but it was nice not to hide from the rest of the world.

 

“How’s Nikolai?” Chuuya got up from the couch, looking around the room. He never really noticed how dark the room was until now, but it was nice and neat.

 

“He’s good, he comes to visit every now and then, but Sigma isn’t a big fan.”

 

“Oh? Why’s that?” 

 

“Because he’s quite the character.” Chuuya laughed. Even though he’s never met him, Chuuya feels like he has since he’s been spending more time with Fyodor. 

 

“Sigma probably loses his shit every time.” Chuuya giggled, sitting back down. He’s only met Sigma once when he was buying. He had found out that he was the owner of the casino. Chuuya had asked Fyodor if he knew if he sold drugs, but as it turns out, it was him who hired him to sell. The rich people were all on drugs, and it was good business. 

 

“Oh, yes, he does.” Chuuya took his phone out, scrolling through his phone. He started to miss Dazai, wondering if he was still at his house, waiting for him. 

 

“Thinking about the roach?” Chuuya smiled a bit, putting his phone down. 

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Why did you come here anyway, again?” Fyodor took another shot.

 

“We kind of got into a fight. Same fucking story every time— never shows his feelings and shit.” 

 

“You make it sound like it’s been for a while.” Chuuya sighed, wiping his nose again.

 

“Since we were fifteen.” Fyodor’s eyes shot up in shock.

 

“Wow, fifteen.” Chuuya nodded his head, surprised too by his own realization. Since they were fifteen, they have been going at this, and nothing has changed.

 

“Of course, nothing has changed,” Chuuya whispered to himself, but Fyodor caught on.

 

“Maybe you should go. You know, to kill.” Chuuya laughed, looking over to him, watching him pour himself another shot. 

 

“Yeah, maybe you’re right.” Chuuya got up, wiping under his nose again.

 

“Thanks, Fyodor.” He waved goodbye, “Good luck with your roach problem.” Chuuya gave him a smile, closing the door behind him. 

 

Chuuya tossed his keys on the center table, looking around the room. There was no sign of Dazai around. He walked to the bedroom, seeing no sign of him, only a made bed. 

 

“He made the fucking bed.” Chuuya smiled to himself, throwing himself onto the bed. Chuuya stared at the ceiling, wondering and thinking. He couldn’t help but feel like something was missing… 

 

Dazai dragged his canvas into the gallery, greeted by both Yosano and Atsushi. “Oh, is that the new one you did?” Yosano walked over, taking the canvas out of his hands. She took it out the sleeve, attentively looking at it, along with Atsushi. 

 

“Wow, it’s….” Yosano and Atsushi looked at it in awe.

 

“Beautiful? I know.” Dazai gave himself praise, though their faces said something more.

 

“It’s really dark… What was the meaning behind it?” Atsushi asked.

 

“Watching your lover die slowly, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” They both looked at him, worried about how nonchalant he was about it.

 

“What’s the title?” Yosano reluctantly asked.

 

“A Flame in the Dark,” Dazai said more earnestly, looking at the painting. He missed him. He hated himself for even arguing over nothing. It was true; Dazai had always put up a wall in front of Chuuya, even though he knew what he was feeling, even if he didn’t want to say it or give reason to it. It frustrated Chuuya, but it frustrated Dazai as well. It was partially why he left him. He didn’t know if Chuuya could deal with anything since he had just lost his father, but Dazai also couldn’t handle the fact that he didn’t know how to express himself. 

 

“Well, it’ll certainly sell.” Kunikida waltzes from behind them.

 

“Are you going to make anything else?” Dazai thought for a moment. Looking at the painting once more, then back to Kunikida.

 

“Yeah, I have this series going on. I don’t want to sell it, though.” Kunikida was shocked, as were Yosano and Atushsi. They had never really heard Dazai talk about work in such a manner like he was actually enthusiastic about it.

 

“Wow, that’s amazing, Dazai. What’s it going to be called?” Dazai looked back at the painting, letting a smile fall on his face.

 

“It’s going to be a series of six paintings… Our Symphony. That’s what I’m gonna call it.” There was silence. Kunikida attentively looked at Dazai, trying to find out what was wrong with him. 

 

“Well, at least he’s getting work done.” He shrugged, taking his leave to the back. Ranpo came out, looking at the painting.

 

“Wow, how frightening. I wonder if the little red riding hood liked this.” Dazai glared at him. Ranpo gave him an innocent smirk.

 

“You know, I think a series is great, especially with your paintings,” Yosano added, taking the painting away with her into the back.

 

“A series? Let me guess, is it a dedication to the one you love?” Ranpo teased, unwrapping a lollipop.

 

“Eh.” Dazai shrugged, playing it off as something not worth talking about. But it was, and Ranpo knew all too well. 

 

“Oh, by the way, Fukuzawa wants me to write an article for the blog, but I’ll wait until you do your series. The question is, are you going to actually talk about it, or do you want me to bull-shit it as usual?” Dazai gave him a questioning look. Ranpo never bull-shited articles. If anything, he always got them right, addressing the message more than anyone else. It somewhat frightened Dazai, but it helped him gain success through his paintings. He owed a portion of his success to Ranpo. 

 

Dazai smiled at him, walking out to the back with the rest of his coworkers. “Bull-shit again, I guess. Ugh! You owe me more snacks, by the way!” Ranpo yelled after Dazai, putting his hand behind his head, on his way to join the rest. 

 

“Great rehearsal. I’ll get you those sheets next time we meet up.” Chuuya said, gathering his things. He rubbed the temples of his head and his eyes. ‘ I knew I shouldn’t have gone on that bender .’ Chuuya hated that he was doing more than usual since he was assigned to write more music. 

 

“Chuuya, my, you don’t look too good.” Chuuya briefly looked at Kouyou with a slight worry in her eyes. 

 

“Yeah. I’ll be fine. I just need some coffee, and I’ll be okay.” He reassured her, sniffling again. ‘ God, why the fuck is my nose so fucking runny ?’ He was agitated with himself, trying to get himself under control again.

 

“You sound a bit sick.” Chuuya shook his head. 

 

“It’s just allergies. I promise.” He gave her a quick smile. She nodded her head and went back to her serious expression.

 

“Good, we can’t hold off another week.” He nodded his head, looking down on his feet like a child who was in trouble. In truth, he hadn’t been able to write any music as of late. It was like he was stuck in this constant time loop where it was just a tug between drugs, Dazai, and his career. Everything felt like a weight on his shoulders, pushing him deeper and deeper into the ground. He liked having Dazai around, it made him feel like he didn’t need the drugs, but every time Dazai wanted to be an asshole for no reason, he was unsure how to handle it. He wished that he could just shake him and ask him what was wrong with him, and he’d be able to tell him, but none of it was so simple.

 

Chuuya crumpled up paper after paper, drinking a glass of wine after another. He hit the piano keys, trying to figure out the notes. He groaned, hitting his head on the keys, hearing the god-awful noise ring through his head. He just wanted to stop it all. He didn’t understand why everything was happening now— his career, the drugs, Dazai. He tried to make sense of it all. His career life was already going to shit, not being able to take care of himself or focus appropriately without doing a couple of lines before rehearsal, and when Mori had something to say, Chuuya couldn’t help but want more. The drugs relieved the pressure of things, but so did Dazai. He wished he could tell him, but he didn’t want to see that loss in his eyes again. He didn’t want to see how uneasy and tense they would look if they found out. Knowing Dazai, he would even try to play savior. Chuuya didn’t need a savior, though. He just wanted a friend, someone he could depend on when things got tough. Drugs were that for him, but at times, they were his worst enemy… Just like Dazai. 

 

The doorbell rang, Chuuya lifted his head from the piano keys. He wondered for a moment who it was, but he realized that it was one of the days that Dazai was supposed to stop by. “He loves me, then he fights with me but can’t seem to leave. He’s like a fucking cat.” Chuuya mumbled to himself, opening the door to see that same idiot smile Dazai wears all the time. 

 

“Listen— hey!” Dazai didn’t let him finish his train of thought, walking into the apartment taking off his shoes and jacket. Chuuya sighed, closing the door behind him. “I’m kind of busy, so I don’t think I can—” Dazai kissed him, but it wasn’t rushed or passionate— it was sweet, innocent, and cute. Dazai pulled back, holding the back of his neck. Dazai smiled, turning to lay on the couch. 

 

“What’s Chuuya doing that he doesn’t have time for me?” Dazai somewhat sounded sad, although it was layered with playful charisma. Chuuya sighed, walking over the couch. He stared down at Dazai lying on his stomach, swinging his feet up in the air like a teenage girl, gossiping to her friends. Chuuya couldn’t help but laugh at him.

 

“You’re an idiot.” Chuuya walked away into the other room, placing his fingers on the piano keys, trying to get the right notes. He was frustrated, trying to do everything right. He wanted an answer. He repeatedly hit his head on the piano keys, trying to somewhat beat the ideas from his brain.

 

“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon.” He told himself as noise from the piano echoed in the room.

 

“Aw, is Chuuya having a hard time?” Chuuya didn’t even have to look at Dazai to know he was smiling at him, acting like it was such an easy process for him. It was back then, but now— everything is different now. But there was one thing that remained the same…

 

“Move, let me help the little Slug.” Chuuya reluctantly moved to the other side of the bench.

 

“So, what are you going for?” Chuuya looked at him, frowning, wondering. He had always looked beautiful in his eyes, but when he looked like this, it seemed like he was always in focus, like he was awakened by some sort of devil. Chuuya didn’t like him this way, but it made him look so beautiful.

 

“You don’t have to.” Chuuya took the music sheets before him, looking over the notes again.

 

“Nonsense! I’ll help you if you help me.” Chuuya knew he shouldn’t be intrigued, but he was.

 

“How will I help you?” Dazai didn’t say anything. He just had that same stupid smile that Chuuya both loved and hated so much. Dazai leaned closer to him, drawing his thumb across his lips. 

 

“Come to one of the art shows.” Chuuya clicked his tongue, looking away from him.

 

“I don’t know why I should come. I don’t even need your help anyways.” 

 

“Oh, so you weren’t banging your head on the piano? Or is that some kind of new technique?” Dazai teased. Chuuya took a deep breath clenching his jaw, trying not to hold in all the foul things he wanted to say to him.

 

“Fine. When’s the art show?” 

 

“In a month.” Chuuya took another deep breath, looking at Dazai positioned to hear what Chuuya had in mind.

 

“I was thinking of going for a sad and dreamy theme.” Dazai nodded his head, trying to recount his memories. He wasn’t particularly thrilled about it, but it was his way of telling him that he was sorry about the other day. He wasn’t sure as to why he had gotten so spiteful. They were having a good night, and something just snapped. He was sad about everything Chuuya did. It felt like he was being consumed by him, no matter how much he wanted it to just stop and go away. He drove him crazy, and he never understood why. He was always jealous of him, but he loved and cared for him so much. Now, he watched him as he was falling into this deep dark hole, wanting to get him out of it, but there was nothing he could do without expressing himself. He could see the light in his eyes dying, but he couldn’t say anything about it.

—-

 

“I hate to say it, but thanks,” Chuuya mumbled, but Dazai caught on, giggling and throwing his arms around Chuuya.

 

“Yeah, yeah, no need to get so clingy.” Chuuya didn’t really push him off; he actually wanted him to hold him. He just wanted to be held for the night. He felt so run down like he was in a nonstop race with his own life. 

 

“Just because you’ve helped me doesn’t mean that I’m still not mad at you.” Dazai laid his chin on his shoulder, childishly looking up at him.

 

“Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” He knew what Dazai was getting at, but he wasn’t one of his one-night stands–– he was someone that he’s known since they were young. He just wanted to hear Dazai talk about his feelings; it didn’t matter how complicated it was.

 

“Please, Dazai. Not now.” Dazai redacted himself away from Chuuya, hitting a piano key like a bored child. Chuuya hated when he did this; he disliked how Dazai would distract himself from the situation to leave from it.

 

“Is talking really that bad?” Dazai didn’t say anything–– he just began that song that Chuuya loved to hear him play.  Liebestraum  by Franz Liszt. Chuuya watched him, watching Dazai’s fingers smoothly and effortlessly hit every key and note. Chuuya looked at Dazai, watching as his eyes fought this constant battle of happiness and disgust. 

 

Dazai didn’t want to play the piano again, never planned to touch it, but as he saw Chuuya there, he couldn’t help but look at him as he struggled. It wasn’t like the Chuuya he once knew. He always knew the right note, the suitable theme, the correct variation. Dazai only helped him because he couldn’t bring himself to leave, knowing what he might do to focus. He never knew sacrificing himself would feel so painful, more painful than when he cut his arms, legs, stomach. But something about it felt good like it was the old theme again. Dazai was happy that he only got to play for Chuuya and only for him. 

 

Chuuya felt his chest tighten, he wanted to cry, but he choked on the lump in his throat, trying not to let the tears flow down his cheeks. This was the song he used to play to him, which he only wanted to play for him and no one else. He knew Dazai loved him, but it hurt that he could never hear it, to express it. He was beautiful, like a dream. He wanted to scream just how much he loved him, but Chuuya hated the things he did so much. He hated that no matter what Dazai did, he would always love him.

 

The music stopped, watching Dazai’s fingers hit the last note. “You ruined me, Chuuya. Ever since I first met you, you ruined me.” Dazai’s voice was so stale and monotone, Chuuya couldn’t help but feel frightened. It was out of the ordinary for him. 

 

“You have no idea how much you consumed me. You’re all I fucking paint. Nothing else. I… I’m losing him because of you. And I hate you for that.” Chuuya couldn’t say anything. He was speechless as he looked at Dazai. Still, every time he looked into his eyes, Chuuya could see it shine every time he looked at him. 

 

“But I love you too fucking much. I love you too fucking much that it hurts. Everything you do hurts me. But I can’t get enough… I wished that there was another way where we could live the lives we both want to live without feeling like we were bound because of some stupid school….” Chuuya knew what he meant. He felt the same way.

 

“I never asked to be your muse, Dazai.” 

 

“I know… But you are.” Chuuya felt like he could barely breathe, like his cold, shivering. Dazai saw the way his body shook, trying to breathe. He knew that Chuuya wasn’t high; Chuuya looked like he wanted to be like he was craving it. Dazai felt like he shouldn’t have said anything at all. All he thought was that he hurt him again and would crawl to the drugs instead of him. Dazai swallowed, feeling his throat grow dry. He grabbed Chuuya’s face, kissing him passionately. He felt Chuuya’s tears trickle down against his skin, like river streams. A phantom knife pierced his heart, feeling like he was slowly dying with him. 

 

I don’t think I could live without him… I’m sorry, Oda… I’m so sorry. Forgive me .’ 

 

Chuuya watched Dazai sleep peacefully. It hurt to even look at him. He got up from his bed gently, trying not to make Dazai up. He got the vial from his locked drawer quietly, locking himself in the bathroom. He looked at himself briefly for a moment, smiling to himself in the mirror. He seemed so unnatural, so vile, disgusting… He began to think about how he shouldn’t be alive in this world, about the fact that he was nothing. Like his mother had said in the CD and letter— he wasn’t born out of love; he was born because life just fucking hated him. He was born in the darkness, and he’ll die in the dark. 

 

He grabbed a scoop, snorting it, then another, and then another. “I’m so sorry… I’m so fucking sorry.” He quietly sobbed. He wasn’t sure who he was telling it to. Dazai? Himself? But beneath it all, Chuuya knew he was telling his father just how sorry he was that he couldn’t have been a stronger son for him. 

 

He crawled into bed, holding Dazai. He smiled at nothing, even though he didn’t want to smile. He didn’t feel dead anymore. Not like the first time he did drugs. He felt alive again. But he couldn’t understand why he still felt so much pain.

 

 

He looked at Dazai one more time, feeling like he was losing everything again. He was losing.

Chapter Text

“So, what’s the plan for your sixteenth birthday, Dazai?” He didn’t want to answer Oda. There were never any good memories associated with his birthday, so he never really celebrated them. He took a drink from the whiskey bottle. Oda had noticed that he was drinking more often than he usually was. He worried about him.

 

“Maybe you should slow down on the drinking.” Oda could see that Dazai was already drunk.

 

“You’re not my father, Oda.” Despite that, Oda knew that he wasn’t, even though Dazai treated him like he was his father. Oda didn’t say anything, just fiddling with the pages in his book.

 

“Where’s Chuuya?” Dazai shrugged, drinking more, letting the taste burn his throat, handing the bottle to Oda. He quietly declined.

 

“I’m guessing you two had another fight?” Dazai groaned, pulling out a cigarette. 

 

“What was the fight even about this time?” Oda knew that Dazai was holding back on himself, trying to hide the fact that he had feelings for Chuuya and didn’t want to admit it.

 

“I was simply telling him how I think his mother would have loved him.” Oda frowned, he didn’t know the full details about what had happened over winter break, but even he knew this was a low for Dazai. 

 

“I thought you said he didn’t have a mother?” Dazai puffed the smoke from his mouth, sitting on the edge of the windowsill. His body felt dizzy and light as he inhaled the tobacco, mixing with the alcohol. 

 

‘Yup! But I just know if his mother were to ever meet him, she’ll love and care for him just as much as his Dad does… And like I do.” Oda could hear the bitter envy in his voice. But it was sweet like he wanted to make him happy despite his poor choice of words. 

 

“I don’t think you should’ve mentioned his mother.” Dazai felt like a child getting in trouble with his father for bullying another child. He wanted to laugh at the fact that Oda felt more like a father to him than his actual father in these moments, even though he was only five years older than him. 

 

“I don’t know why he’s acting like that. He has no—”

 

“He does have a right.” Oda interrupted, already knowing what Dazai was about to say. Dazai groaned, wobbling to Chuuya’s bed, falling face first.

 

“I love the smell on his bed. It’s so warm and nice.” Dazai slurred, grabbing Chuuya’s pillow and holding it against his chest. Oda sighed, putting his book away. Just as he was about to get up, he saw Chuuya walk in the door, almost as drunk as Dazai. 

 

“Hi, Chuuya.” He groaned at Oda, shuffling his feet to his bed.

 

“Do you need any help?” Oda got up, trying to lead Chuuya to his bed, where Dazai was tossing and turning, though he wasn’t asleep. Chuuya shrugged off Oda’s hand. 

 

“Hey, asshole, get the fuck off my bed!” Chuuya kicked Dazai, almost falling. 

 

“No!” 

 

“Yes!” Chuuya tackled him on his bed, taking his pillow. Oda pinched the bridge of his nose, hearing the boys drunkenly argue with each other.

 

“I’ll just leave,” Oda announced as if the boys would hear him or say anything. Oda walked out of the academy, looking up at the stars. It was a clear night, watching the stars twinkle like Dazai’s eyes every time he looked at Chuuya. He wished that the two could stop this emotional tag game, but it wasn’t his place. 

 

“Get off! I’m fucking mad at you, you fucking asshole! You had no reason to bring that bitch up!” Chuuya was still angry. He grabbed him by the collar, lifting his body up from the mattress.

 

“I don’t think you should call your own mother that.” 

 

“What the fuck do you know? You don’t know shit! You don’t know a damn thing, Dazai. You never had someone….” Chuuya stopped himself for a moment, looking at Dazai. 

 

“You don’t know a thing about her, and neither do I, but all I know is that she didn’t love me.” That was all he said to him. Chuuya still didn’t know Dazai basically knew parts of his past.

 

“I still think she loves you.” Chuuya winced, falling down on the bed next to Dazai, face to face.

 

“Yeah, right.” Dazai couldn’t imagine someone hating Chuuya so much. He just couldn’t see it. He didn’t know what the CD or the letter said, but he knew that there was no way anyone could look at him and dislike him. He was like a flash of light, a breath of air, and a beating heart. He was everything. Dazai couldn’t wrap his brain around it. He reached his hand to his cheek, caressing it gently. Their eyes were half-lidded like they were tired, but they weren’t. They felt more awake and alert at that moment than anything.

 

“I don’t think that anyone could ever hate you.” Chuuya lazily smiled at him, pressing his hand against his.

 

“Only you, huh?” Dazai smiled back, getting closer to him. “Yeah. I’m the only one allowed to hate you.” Chuuya shifted his face, so his lips were pressed against Dazai’s hand.

 

“Do you hate me now?” Dazai let out a small giggle. He knew Chuuya was serious, but hearing him ask that seemed silly. Dazai could never hate him. Dazai only said that because Chuuya couldn’t know that he actually loved him, but he also couldn’t say just how much he envied him.

 

“Yeah. I do.” Chuuya looked back at him. He looked angry, still like it wasn’t the correct answer.

 

“Why?” That’s when it hit Dazai. Chuuya wasn’t angry at him. He was figuring him out, trying to see why he could even say such a thing about his mother, why Dazai would say such contradictions–– constantly telling him how much he hated him but showed otherwise. Dazai couldn’t find the worth in trying to get to know himself, so he couldn’t understand why Chuuya wanted to get to know him. There wasn’t much to know— so Dazai thinks.

 

“Because.” Dazai turned his body to lay on his back, squinting his eyes from the harsh bright light in the room. 

 

“Because why?” Dazai sighed. He didn’t want to answer. He was already too drunk and didn’t want to talk about it. He got up, taking the bottle in his hand and drinking it before Chuuya took it and took a sip for himself. 

 

“Because of that.” Chuuya rolled his eyes. That was the problem, Chuuya could see through his little facade, and it made him sick that Chuuya could figure him out more than the other kids, even Oda. Chuuya walked to the window, lighting the cigarette, Dazai joining him. The night sky was clear, the moonlight hitting directly in their room. Chuuya must’ve caught it because he turned the light off, seeing the moon illuminate them. Dazai couldn’t help but smile. Chuuya looked so beautiful like that, like everything about him was untouchable. The fire from the lighter brightened his face. 

 

“God, why do you always look at me like that?” Dazai didn’t say anything. He just looked at him like a painting.

 

“You belong in a museum.” Chuuya looked at him like he was confused; he shook his head, paying his attention back to his cigarette and the moon. 

 

“You honestly have a weird way of showing me that you hate me.” Chuuya laid his head against the windowsill to give him leverage to stand. 

 

“I do hate you.” Dazai took the cigarette out of his mouth, placing it between his lips. He got closer to him, stumbling. He felt even dizzier as he inhaled the smoke. Chuuya’s eyes looked hazy from the mixture. 

 

“Prove it.” Dazai grabbed onto the windowsill, trying to keep his balance. Chuuya was smirking at him. He knew what he was doing to him and did it on purpose. 

 

“Wow… You really are cocky.” The smoke blurred their vision, not being able to see each other, but once it cleared, Chuuya got closer, playing with the hem of his collar.

 

“Yeah, I’ve heard it before.” Chuuya could feel Dazai’s pulse quicken under his fingertips. He had never felt something more alive in his entire life. It was exhilarating–– his stomach was jumping, his heart was about to tear its way through his chest. He looked at the moon twinkling in his eyes. That was the thing about Dazai’s eyes— they were dark and sad at first glance, but as you look at them closer, you could see the beauty they behold when he looks at something beautiful, making his eyes more radiant.

 

“I’m still mad at you,” Chuuya said, flickering his eyes to Dazai’s lips. A smirk formed before his eyes. Chuuya had wanted to do this for a while, and since the break was happening soon, they both didn’t know if they could handle it. They wanted to be together, but Chuuya knew that Dazai would inevitably leave.

 

“Are you going home this break?” Chuuya asked. Dazai’s face became cold and solemn. 

 

“Yeah.” Chuuya felt like his heart was breaking. He knew they’ll eventually see each other again, but they both wanted to make it official. Dazai couldn’t stand the thought of Chuuya being with someone else besides him, not wanting his love for him to go unnoticed. 

 

“I’ll be back before school starts again. I’ll only be gone for a few days.” Chuuya pretended not to care what Dazai had to say, letting his hand drop from his collar. But Dazai didn’t stop; he traced his fingers on Chuuya’s choker. They had a few weeks left together.

 

“Then, when I’m back, I’ll take over your bed at home. Eat your Dad’s pancakes. Sneak alcohol and cigarettes to our room, then I’ll ruin your whole vacation.” 

 

“Shut up.” Chuuya grabbed his cigarette back, blowing the smoke out the window. Dazai hooked his finger into a space between the choker and his neck, pulling him closer. “You’re my dog, remember? You go wherever I go.” Chuuya glared at him.

 

“It seems like you’re going wherever I go.” Dazai didn’t care. He knew Chuuya had this hold of him that he couldn’t shake off, but no matter what, he was his. He wanted to make him his. 

 

“Can I kiss you?” Chuuya’s eyes widened, looking up at Dazai’s bright eyes. He wanted to say yes, but the shock was too great for him to speak. “Fine, whatever.” Chuuya didn’t want to show that he was anticipating this for a moment, but Dazai wanted more than that.

 

“Don’t say it like that.” 

 

“Oh c’mon, I already said yes, I don’t know what else you want from—” His lips pressed against his, feeling like his heart was about to stop. His lips were soft and warm, unexpected. Chuuya’s eyes slowly closed, throwing his arms around him, clinging onto him. He could taste the whisky and the tobacco on his lips, feeling the light high of the mixtures along with his kiss. It was beautiful.

 

Dazai wrapped his arms around his waist, holding him closely. He didn’t want to let him go. He wished he could take him with him to his home, but it would be best if he didn’t. He sometimes fantasized about Chuuya rescuing him away from his home, never being associated with them ever again. Still, in a way, Chuuya already did. Chuuya had shown him things that he never thought he would ever see. He made him feel things that he couldn’t explain. It aggravated him, but he loved it so much. He never wanted to get rid of it.

 

They finally broke apart, stealing small kisses from each other until they eventually separated. They both smiled, their hearts beating against each other like they were one.

 

Finally .’ 

 

“I hate you.” Chuuya huffed, stealing one more kiss from Dazai.

 

“I know. I don’t think I’ll let anyone hate me more than you.” They both laughed, stealing small pecks from each other.

 

That night was the first night that sleep didn’t matter to them. They just laid in bed together, admiring one another. Dazai touched Chuuya’s face, remembering every curve and crevice on his face, remembering how the moonlight illuminated him. He wanted to remember everything about him, afraid of losing him. Chuuya did the same, not out of remembering but for the sake of just admiring how truly beautiful Dazai was. He loved everything that he had— even the ugly parts.

 

“Are you still mad at me?” Chuuya kissed him again. Dazai didn’t need an answer anymore; Chuuya said all that was necessary to know that he would never mean it even though he may say it. 

 

The next day rolled past, waking up next to each other like it was some sort of dream; though it was real, all of it was real. Dazai didn’t even care for his headache, and neither did Chuuya. They just smiled at one another, giggling like two children. It was something that made them feel free when they were together. Chuuya felt like he didn’t have to do anything to have Dazai stay by his side, feeling like he didn’t have to take care of him, to do anything in his power to have him stay by his side. Dazai didn’t feel the burden of pretending with him and didn’t care if Chuuya could see through his mask. It was a relief for him to feel like he couldn’t hide, even if it scared him. 

 

“What movie do you want to watch today?” Chuuya asked, not taking his eyes off him.

 

“Hm. I think I want to sneak into the orchestra room tonight.” Chuuya frowned, wondering as to why he would want to do that. 

 

“Why?” Dazai smirked, getting out of their bed. 

 

“You’ll see.” Dazai sang, walking to the bathroom. Chuuya shook his head, laying his head back down on the pillow. He felt like there was no weight on his shoulders for the first time. Felt light like he was defying gravity itself. Like he was on top of the world.

 

“If Chuuya doesn’t stay quiet, then I’ll have to muzzle you,” Dazai whispered as he was trying to pick the door lock while Chuuya looked out for anyone.

 

“Oh shut up, prick.” Chuuya hissed. Dazai opened the door, extending his arm out so Chuuya could go in first, but as Chuuya was about to walk in, Dazai waltzed in front of him.

 

“Pretty people first.” Chuuya smacked his head, hearing a small ‘ow.’ 

 

“Says the bastard who can’t keep his hands and eyes off me.” 

 

“What can I say? Chuuya is just so adorable. But I’m the prettiest.” Chuuya groaned, walking into the room. The room seemed much bigger without all the students crowded. Dazai walked to the piano, his finger gliding against the keys. 

 

“What would you like me to play?” Dazai asked. Chuuya sat next to him, thinking of what he should play.

 

“Hm? What about—”

 

“Too late.” Dazai interrupted, playing a song before Chuuya could say anything. The piece was beautiful, hearing the dreamy yet sad. The notes echo through the quiet room. He had never really seen Dazai look so focused and so elegant before. Whenever he saw him play, there was this sort of sad and dark demeanor to him. 

 

Chuuya heard the song, remembering it.  Liebestraum . Chuuya began to silently recite the poem that was associated with the music. Like it was some sort of declaration that Dazai was saying to him without words. That he would love him, no matter if he was alive or dead, that no matter what, they would love each other until death.  

 

Dazai’s fingers stopped, letting the last note echo in the room until silent. Chuuya tried to not show his smile.

 

“That was good.” Chuuya complimented, although it made Dazai frown and gasp in disbelief.

 

“Good? Just good? Ugh! I was perfect!” 

 

“Shut up before I say that you were horrible.” Chuuya then smiled, leaning forward to kiss him. His lips were sweet and soft. Chuuya couldn’t understand why kissing him felt like an endless dream, but he didn’t care for an answer. He just wanted to keep doing it over and over again. 

 

“What are you going to do for your birthday?” Chuuya asked, resting his head on Dazai’s shoulders. He could feel him grow tense with the question. Dazai didn’t utter a word; he just began playing a different song. But it didn’t stop Chuuya from wanting some sort of answer.

 

“If you’re not going to do anything, then maybe—” His phone rang. Dazai stopped playing, watching as Chuuya reached for his phone and answered the call.

 

“Hey, Dad, what’s up?” Dazai watched his expression go from relaxed and happy to tense and worried.

 

“Yeah, yeah, no, I’ll just grab the next train. No, Dad, I’ll be right there. What the hell do you mean I don’t need to worry? No. I’m coming over, and that’s final.” Chuuya hung up the phone, burying his face in his hands for a brief moment, taking a deep breath. Dazai wanted to ask what was wrong, but he wasn’t sure how to, though Chuuya told him anyway.

 

“My Dad’s really sick, and I’m going over. Sorry.” He got up in a frenzy, trying to gather his thoughts.

 

“Do you want me to come?” Dazai was unsure why he asked, regretting it after seeing Chuuya’s face.

 

“No, Dazai. No. I just need to be with him. I… can’t have you around right now.” It was a poor choice of words on Chuuya’s part. What he wanted to say was that he didn’t want Dazai to see him like this; he didn’t want him to see his life fall apart right in front of him. Chuuya walked out the door, not saying goodbye to him. Dazai knew he shouldn’t have been angry or even sad that Chuuya didn’t want him there with him. He was used to people not wanting him around, but Chuuya was different–– he wanted to be with Chuuya. Hearing him say that hurt him, but he couldn’t say it. Dazai sat there, alone in the room, in front of the thing he hated most— the piano. He wanted to punch something, to throw something, but didn’t. He just got up and walked to his room, watching Chuuya grab his essential things.

 

“So that’s it?” Dazai didn’t know why he wanted to start a fight with him.

 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Chuuya headed to the door, but Dazai was blocking him from exiting.

 

Get out of the way .’ He told himself, but he didn’t.

 

“Why are you leaving me?” Dazai said. He knew he shouldn’t have asked that; he didn’t want to say that. Why was he saying all these things? He tried to stop talking.

 

“Well, it’s only a matter of time before you leave me.” Dazai shrugged, walking past him. 

 

“God, I wish I had time to knock some fucking sense into you, but I don’t. When I come back, you better get ready for a fist in your face because you’re acting like I planned this whole thing to get away from you. And you know what, that wasn’t the case, but now that I hear your goddam voice, I can’t wait to fucking leave.” Chuuya slammed the door closed, making Dazai flinch a bit. He wanted to run after him, to give him a hug and tell him to be careful and safe, but as the minutes passed by, he just stood there, knowing that Chuuya was long gone. He wanted to smash his head into the wall, to do anything to tell himself just how stupid he was. 

 

Dazai grabbed a bottle of whatever liquor he had under his bed, chugging it until he felt his head grow faint.

 

Chuuya walked into the house, slamming the door. He was still angry from earlier. 

 

Who the fuck does he think he is. My Dad is literally sick, and he fucking acts like the world revolves around him? Fucking asshole !’ Despite all that, Chuuya did not regret anything from last night, and he didn’t regret kissing him. He walked up the stairs, trying to contain himself before his father saw him.

 

“Hey, Dad.” Chuuya opened the door to see his father’s pale face. He was surrounded by medicine and covered under piles of blankets. 

 

“My beautiful son.” Chuuya could see that his father was forcing a smile. Chuuya walked over to his bedside, checking his temperature.

 

“When was the last time you took your meds?” Chuuya asked. His voice was shaky, trying not to cry.

 

“Chuuya?”

 

“Have you been keeping up with all your medication?” Chuuya ignores him, looking through all this father’s medication.

 

“Chuuya.”

 

“You keep forgetting to take—”

 

“Chuuya.” Arthur weakly grabbed his hands, wanting him to stop. He looked at his father, and the tears began to fall.

 

“Just… Lay down with me.” Chuuya wiped away his tears, laying next to his father like he once did when he was a child. He didn’t want to lose his father. He didn’t know if he could handle anyone else leaving him. He didn’t want him to go. 

 

Arthur threw his arm around his shoulders. Chuuya could feel his body growing weaker and frailer–– he didn’t want to lose his father.

 

“You’re trembling.” Chuuya got up, but his father pulled him back down. He knew his father was in pain. ‘ Why am I doing this to him ?’ 

 

“Stop it, Chuuya.” Chuuya didn’t want to. He needed to help his father; he needed to help him get better.

 

“The doctor said that the medication and physical therapy could help it get better.” Chuuya didn’t want to look at his father–– he felt ashamed that he didn’t want to look at him, but it hurt too much.

 

“I know. I know.” Arthur’s voice was hoarse. He didn’t want to tell his son that he had been undiagnosed for so long that it was now hard to manage even with all the medication and physical therapy. None of it was working, Arthur knew this, but he didn’t want Chuuya to lose any hope. He didn’t want to see the look on his face when he told him that he was dying slowly. 

 

“But—”

 

“Sh! Now, go play some music.” Chuuya had never heard his father command him to do anything like that before. It wasn’t in a mean way, but it wasn’t pleasant. He knew his father was frustrated about everything. Chuuya didn’t ask because he didn’t want to know himself. He got up, connecting his phone to the speaker . Cosmic Dancer  by T. Rex, his father’s favorite song.

 

“You know me too well.” Arthur’s voice was shaky. Chuuya looked at him, seeing the tears well up in his eyes, trying to suppress it for his son’s sake. Chuuya laid back down next to him, holding him. He quietly sobbed, hearing his father’s soft wailing. He knew how much his father missed dancing, how much he missed everything. He knew that the disease had caused him to lose everything he had ever loved— and now he was going to lose Chuuya. He held his son tight, not caring about how painful it was. He knew his father was afraid of dying; he didn’t want to die when Chuuya was still young. Chuuya was also fearful for him; he didn’t want his father to die alone. He wanted to be with him, someone he could count on.

 

Arthur kissed the top of his head, letting the music fade, laying there for a moment before Chuuya began to play another song.

 

“Any other requests?” Chuuya’s voice was nasally from all the crying, wiping away his tears.

 

“Play  By This River .” Chuuya nodded his head, playing the song. His father hummed the tune to him, trying to hold in his sob so he could sing to his son again. 

 

“I don’t want to lose you, Dad.” Chuuya held on to his father, burying his face in his chest.

 

“I know, son… I know.” Arthur stroked his head, continuing to hum the song to him as the tears fell from his cheeks.

 

“It’s getting late, Chuuya,” Arthur told him, turning the T.V. off. Chuuya didn’t want to go back. He wasn’t even angry at Dazai anymore. He just wanted to stay with his father and care for him, hoping that he would get better. 

 

“Dad, I—”

 

“No. No, buts. You’ll have the break to care for me. Go back and do well in school.” Chuuya sighed, sitting on the bed. 

 

“Dazai is worried.” Arthur continued. Chuuya shook his head in protest.

 

“No, he’s not. We kind of got into another fight.” Arthur looked at him in sympathy.

 

“Dazai is a boy who is just afraid of his own feelings… I’m sure he was just afraid of seeing you like that.” He hated that his father was right. He knew Dazai wasn’t trying to be mean, but he was afraid that he would lose him like he was right now.

 

“Can I get you anything before I leave?” Chuuya asked. His father was reluctant, but he was in extreme pain.

 

“There’s some pain medication in the bathroom medicine cabinet. I forgot to get it.” Chuuya nodded, rushing over to the bathroom. He opened the cabinet, seeing the medicine right in front of him. He grabbed it, inspecting the bottle; Chuuya read the words on the pill bottle— Oxycontin. He opened the bottle seeing the filled bottle. He knew his father hated taking this because I made him feel dead, but whenever the pain was unbearable, he’d take one. Chuuya gulped, taking two and stuffing it in his pocket, closing the cap back into the bottle. He walked out, giving the bottle to his father, watching him open the bottle, hoping that he wouldn’t notice, which he didn’t. He popped one in his mouth, drinking the water by his nightstand.

 

“Go, Chuuya.” Chuuya was reluctant, but he nodded.

 

“Bye, Dad.” Chuuya almost choked on the words, not turning back to see his father.

 

“Goodbye, my beautiful son.” A stabbing pain lingered through his chest, running out of the room and out the door, tears coming down his face as he ran to the train station, feeling the setting sun sting his skin.

 

Arthur wiped the tears from his eyes. Taking a deep breath, missing one thing at that moment— it wasn’t his son or ballet.

 

 “Paul…” 

 

Chuuya dragged his feet on the hardwood floor, hanging his head down. He stood in front of his dorm room door, taking a deep sigh before turning the doorknob. The room was dark, watching the hallway light show Dazai laid out on the floor with an empty bottle of liquor. Chuuya sighed again, dragging his feet to pick up Dazai.

 

“Chuuya. You're back.” Dazai drunkenly smiled at him. Chuuya couldn’t help but give him a sad smile back.

 

“Yeah. I’ll always come back.” Chuuya picked him up, dragging him to the bed.

 

“No, I wanna sleep on your bed,” Dazai whined. Chuuya stayed silent, dragging him to his bed, watching him fall on the mattress.

 

“Mm. I love Chuuya and his bed.” Dazai slurred, adjusting himself, hearing a soft snore escape him. Chuuya would usually laugh or smile at such a sight, but he could. He placed his hands in his pocket, feeling the two pill tablets. He looked down at his hands, looking back at Dazai. He gulped, breathing heavily. 

 

He walked over to his desk, placing the pills on his desk, looking at them, contemplating. He grabbed something to crush the tablets, gently crushing them so as to not wake Dazai. He derived the powder, looking at them and then back at Dazai. He took another deep sigh, snorting the line, feeling his body grow heavy. He stumbled back to the bed, feeling like he was light again. But he understood why his father hated it. It did make him feel like his body wasn’t his, but it did feel good for that moment. 

 

He looked at Dazai, brushing his fingers across his lips, smiling to himself. The pain was gone now.

Chapter Text

I was born on October 20th, 1961. There are many misconceptions about family— you won’t always be happy, and you won’t always be free. 

 

My mother was a wonderful woman, always making me smile and laugh. My sister was my best friend. I wouldn’t have it any other way, yet my father was a bastard in many sorts. I was never well-liked by him. He knew I was different from the other boys, always watching people dance, dancing along with them. 

 

By the time I was six, I knew that I wanted to do ballet when I saw my sister dancing in one of her classes. It was like I was watching art come to life. It was mostly made up of girls, with a few boys, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to pursue it. I wasn’t to wear those pretty pink slippers and twirl around a room. I wanted to feel like I was free.

 

“Do you want to try ballet, Arthur?” My sister had asked me when she caught me watching one of her classes. I nodded my head like a child who was offered candy. My sister smiled at me, handing me her ballet slippers.

 

“I’ll teach you some moves before father comes home.” She told me. I was so happy; I couldn’t erase that childish smile off my face when I put the slippers on, feeling the silk ribbons tighten around my legs. I remember that day so clearly, forever be engraved in my memory. 

 

I had studied my sister’s class, watching all the different dance moves to do once I was alone in my room. One day, my sister and my mother took me to get my own slippers. They weren’t the most expensive ones, but they were just as beautiful as I held them in my hand, running my fingers through the ribbon. My sister even showed me how to break them in. But that was short-lived when my father found them, asking about them. My mother tried to stop him from yelling at me, telling him that my sister must’ve put them there by mistake, but he knew she was lying to protect me.

 

“My son’s not some goddam fairy!” He yelled at her. My sister held onto me, holding me tight, trying to protect me. My mother had tears on her face as my father threw my slippers in the garbage. I wanted to kick and scream, but I knew that would lead to far worse problems for me. My father was never an understanding man, always wanting what he wanted, and that was that. He often talked about war and was constantly drinking. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I have ever seen my father sober. He was always getting sick but refused to go to any doctor because he was afraid to hear that he would die. My father was a terrible man, but he had fears like any other human being. He didn’t want to die.

 

My mother dug my slippers out of the garbage when my father was passed out drunk. She told me to keep it a secret and that I could still watch my sister dance so I could become a fantastic dancer one day. 

 

“Your father just has a lot going on, Arthur. Please don’t be angry with him.” My mother always could find the good in everyone, even for a man like my father.

 

“Mama? Why did you fall in love with Father?” I asked her. She gave me a soft smile, stroking my hair.

 

“He was charming. He was so romantic and sweet to me… One day, you’ll find someone that will make you feel that way too.” I wanted to see someone that way, but I couldn’t bring myself to love someone who would be so terrible. I wanted someone kind, someone who would love me and wouldn’t be afraid to show it. 

 

I would sneak into my sister’s ballet classes with my slippers on, dancing along the sidelines, so I couldn’t be seen. My sister knew, though. She would often steal glances at me, smiling and trying not to laugh when she would watch me fall when I tried to twirl. 

 

My father would continue to find my slippers, throwing them into the garbage, and my mother would continue to sneak them right back to me. My father would make remarks about how I was a ‘pansy’ and a ‘fairy,’ but I think deep down he knew more than anyone, even my mother and sister, who I really was. My father didn’t want me to be, but I think he was angry at that. I suppose that he was ashamed of himself because of this, but as I grew older, I knew there was nothing to be embarrassed about. 

 

“Mama? Why does Father call me those names?” I asked my mother one night when she was sneaking back my slippers. I was seven when I asked her this question. I think she didn’t want to say why; she just gave me her usual smile, stroking my hair. 

 

“I don’t know, Arthur.” That was all she told me. 

 

By the time I turned ten, my father had become terribly ill, staying bedridden. It was easier for me to sneak around by that time. When I turned eleven, my father passed from an unknown disorder. The doctors told us that he was weak and his body was giving out on him. I didn’t cry when I saw my father being buried, but my mother cried so much that it pained me in the end. I knew my mother loved him so much, although I couldn’t understand it. I remember going to my room, playing T. Rex on my record player, and hearing the song,  Cosmic Dancer . My father hated them, thinking that it promoted homosexuality or sexual deviancy. But by that time, I already knew I was gay, falling in love with classmates, but because of my father, I was always afraid to tell them that I liked them. I avoided other boys as much as I could, pretending to be shy. 

 

When my father died, I was allowed to take ballet lessons, my sister quit afterward, finding another interest. I later found out that she only stayed there just so I could watch from the sidelines without looking weird or suspicious. When I finally bought new slippers, with my birthday money, I was so happy to put them on. They weren’t like my first pair— they were sleek and beautiful and more expensive. When I took my first lesson, the instructor was impressed, asking me if I had taken any other classes prior, but I only told her that I only watched from the sidelines from when my sister did ballet. 

 

I practiced night and day, dancing and dancing. My sister was irritated by me because that was all I would do, but I knew she was secretly proud of me, and so was my mother. 

 

“I think your father would be proud of you.” I knew my mother was trying to get me to love my father, even after death, but for some reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to it. I had empathy for him, but I could not sympathize. 

 

“Yeah.” I would tell her, just to make her feel better, watching her face brighten. I think deep down she knew that I was lying for her sake, but I was happy that she was pleased, even if it was for a moment. 

 

By the time I was sixteen, I had gotten into a ballet school— a very prestigious one. When I left for Paris, I knew my mother and sister were sad, but they knew it was best for me to live out my dream. When I arrived in Paris, it was a whole different world. I had lived in France my entire life, only visiting Paris a few times, only for small performances, but living in Paris was a different experience. It was the year that many things happened to me. I drank, smoked, went to concerts, made friends, traveled to other countries, and, to top it all off, I was dancing. I felt so free and liberated that I felt like nothing could stop any of it. I fell in love with boys who fell in love with me back. I was heartbroken many times. But of course, many people were bigoted and hated me for simply being gay. But no matter what, I still had dancing. I knew ballet would never leave me or hurt me. Nothing else mattered so long as I had dancing in my life. 

 

But, of course, that was short-lived when the AIDS epidemic rolled around. We watched many things on the news portraying AIDS and HIV as a ‘gay disease.’ It made many people live in fear. Many people hated us, thinking that we were the reason for such a disease coming into the world. Yet nothing was being done about it. But I still had dancing, not caring if I would be hated for ‘bringing a disease’ that I didn’t have. I didn’t care what others thought of me, but it hurt me to see others that I considered friends and allies betray me because I was gay. They all felt that we deserved to get punished. It hurt so much.

 

By the end of it all, I only had my dancing. No one and nothing else… That was until I met Paul Verlaine.

—  

 

Paul was a very reserved and enigmatic man. He looked at me the way no other man had ever looked at me before. He was a ballet dancer as well, working alongside me. I never said much to him, although I thought he was so beautiful. I immediately fell in love with him at first sight. I thought I was delusional for thinking so, but the moment he looked at me, I could feel the alive feeling he had when he was with me.

 

“Paul?” I called him after rehearsal. He turned to me, looking into his green eyes, piercing my heart, shattering my soul into a million pieces. 

 

“Yes, Arthur?” Even the way he said my name made me get butterflies in my stomach. 

 

“Rehearsal was good.” I felt like such an idiot when I said that, wincing at my own words, but he just smiled at me. 

 

“It was, wasn’t it?” He didn’t stop smiling at me, walking out the door. I felt like my heart was about to burst open for all to see. But I knew I couldn’t say a thing, hearing my father’s voice calling me all those names. I knew I couldn’t really say a word in light of what was going on around up. 

 

I was twenty-four, at the prime of my career. I had pushed the thought of having anything romantic in my life in fear of people like my father around and the people everywhere who blamed people like me for something I had nothing to do with. They had banned gay people from donating blood a year prior in fear that people would be contaminated. There was a lot of subtle homophobia in France during that time–– there still is–– although sometimes it felt like there was no subtleness to be detected. Sometimes it felt like a blatant attack.

 

“What are you? A fucking queer?” I heard a man once tell another man who threw his arm around him, like a friendly embrace. I could tell the other man was sad, it even saddened me, and it was not directed to me. It felt like my father’s voice was louder then than it was when he was still alive with all the news about the AIDS epidemic and governments not acknowledging it. I was afraid of everyone and everything, except for Paul.  

 

“What’s wrong, Arthur?” Paul had asked me after rehearsal.

 

“Oh, nothing, just thinking.” My mind was clouded with thoughts that I couldn’t even pay much attention to him.

 

“You sure? You can always talk to me.” He placed his hand on my shoulder, gently tightening his grip on me. Only then did I snap out of my train of thought. I smiled at him, and he smiled back.

 

“How about I take you out for a drink tonight?” It was the first time Paul had ever invited me to do anything. I felt like I was flying again like I once felt when I first danced.

 

“I’d really like that.” 

 

Paul and I walked into a bar, feeling like I was out of place, but Paul made me feel like I didn’t have to be like I belonged where I was supposed to. 

 

“So, what seems to be on your mind?” Paul handed me a glass of wine, taking a sip out of his. I shrugged, trying to find the right words to say.

 

“I don’t know, just all the stuff that’s going on, that’s all.” Paul seemed to understand where I was coming from. 

 

“Ah, yes. The government is a real fear-mongering piece of work. Did you hear about the scandal?” I had to admit that he didn’t. I tried to stray away from any news ever since the AIDS talk came along and the blaming of gay people.

 

“No, I haven’t.” Paul seemed shocked. I suppose he would have assumed that I was up to date, but he was right; the government was really fear-mongering.

 

“No? Well, it was said that the government gave hemophiliacs blood that was contaminated with the virus.” I was shocked that this had happened. I would have never thought that would happen.

 

“Seriously?” Paul nodded his head, still saddened by the thought of it.

 

“I have some friends who were infected by the virus. And don’t believe what the government says; it isn’t some ‘gay disease,’ it could happen to anyone. They just want someone to blame except for themselves. They thought that following the U.S. would be a great thing, but it wasn’t.” I never knew that Paul was so insightful about this topic; it did make me wonder.

 

“I’m sorry, and please forgive me if I assume wrong, but are you… gay?” I didn’t know why I phrased it that way. I felt like a complete imbecile, but Paul was calm about it, smiling at me.

 

“Why? Planning to hit on me later?” I could feel my face go red as I heard Paul laugh out loud. It was like he was a different person from rehearsal. I liked it even more. He was even more beautiful when he laughed. 

 

“In short, yes. I am.” I nervously laughed, sipping on my wine. That was the first night that Paul and I started this routine of going into bars and talking. 

 

“You know, I really enjoy talking to you, Arthur.” It was a cold day out that night when we talked. I was unsure as to what we were even talking about, but all I knew was that I enjoyed talking to him too. We stopped in front of my apartment, looking up. I looked at him and remembered thinking about how sad he looked to see me leave.

 

“Would you like to come in?” I don’t know what came over me that night, but all I remember was his eyes lighting up.

 

“Of course.” That night, we made love. I had never felt so much happier. Paul had made me feel safe in his arms, feeling like nothing could stop me. Like I was dancing for the first time again. From then on, he and I developed a relationship, not caring who knew and who didn’t. We didn’t care for the awful stares people would look at us, didn’t care who hated us and who loved us. It was just him and I and no one, and nothing else mattered— except for ballet, of course.

 

As time went on, things became more difficult for Paul and me. I knew he loved me, I knew that there were certain things he was hiding from me, but I didn’t care. I guess this is what my mother meant when it came to loving someone despite the ugliness they beheld. 

 

Paul and I had been going out for three years now. I was now twenty-seven and had everything going well for me, but I think Paul was somewhat jealous of that. He still looked at me with this passion in his eyes, but I knew that he hated it at the same time. He had been drinking more, experimenting with drugs as well, but I still loved him all the same. 

 

“What do you want to do today?” It was our day off, and I knew that he had something on his mind, like he was waiting for the perfect moment to say it.

 

“I’m getting married.” I dropped something, I had forgotten what, but I remembered the glass shattering at my feet, looking at Paul. He looked ashamed and disheveled.

 

“What do you mean married?” I was angry, I wanted answers to this cruel joke, but it wasn’t a joke.

 

“My father wants me to get married, and he arranged for me to marry this girl and….” He hung his head low. I could feel the tears form in my eyes, wanting to throw a fit like I had once almost done when my father threw away my ballet slippers for the first time.

 

“You’re not going to do it, are you?” I asked, but he stayed silent.

 

“You’re not… Are you?” I asked again. He just looked up at me from the kitchen table silently. It all came clicking into my head. He wasn’t angry at me; he was mad at his father, the world. He hated everything about it. 

 

“I don’t want to lose you.” I didn’t want to hear it, but as he gently grabbed my face, placing small kisses on my lips and on my face, I knew I couldn’t let him go. Not now, not ever.

 

Paul had gotten married in the months after he confessed to me, telling everyone about how amazing it was and how extraordinary his wife was. I hated it. But I had ballet. That was all I needed to get me through anything. I could do anything and everything as long as I had that.

 

Paul would come over as much as he could, calling and meeting me as much as he could. I was slowly starting to lose my grip on him, losing whatever thought I had of him. He wasn’t the same Paul I once knew. I was practicing more and more, straining myself to the point that my feet began to hurt, but I kept going and going. 

 

One night, when Paul came over, unannounced, he was heavily drunk, crying to me. He fell to his knees, begging for his forgiveness, but I was unsure what he wanted to be forgiven about. I had just assumed that it was the marriage or something of that sort. I took him in, wrapping a blanket around him, handing him tea to sober him up. 

 

“What’s wrong, Paul?” I asked him, stroking his blonde hair. He looked the same way he did when he told me that he was going to get married. That was two years ago. I was twenty-nine.

 

“I’m going to be a father….” He whispered quietly. I wanted to throw up, to forget everything. There were times when I wished I had never met Paul, but I would ask myself if I’d honestly be happy if I didn’t meet him at all, and the answer would always be no. I would not be pleased if I didn’t know him. He cried even more, burying his face into my lap. I cried along with him.

 

Paul and I grew distant after that. I wasn’t sure if you would even categorize our relationship as a relationship anymore. However, I still loved him, and he still loved me. 

 

Then one day, everything in my life just snapped. I had just turned thirty, and my body was wearing down on me, but I still refused to stop dancing, refusing to ever let that go. I fell during rehearsal, tearing the muscle on my hips and knee. When the doctor told me I could no longer dance, everything in my life went to hell. 

 

When Paul came over one night, drunk and high out of his mind, I told him I didn’t want to see him. I was angry, then and only then did I wish that I had never met him, that I would have been a bit happier.

 

“I wish I never met you!” I yelled at him, throwing things that I could reach. 

 

“Go back to your wife and son, Paul… Just go… Please. If you love me, then please just go.” I pleaded to him. I knew I didn’t want to go, but I had nothing else to live for anymore. My father’s voice echoed in my head, telling me not to do this. I then found myself wishing that I had listened to him, although I knew I was wrong for thinking so. 

 

“But…” Paul had begun to slur, staggering over to hug me. I shook him off me.

 

“Fuck you, Paul. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!” It was like I was finally letting everything off my chest. 

 

“I love you, Arthur. I love you!” I began to cry, pushing him away from me. I didn’t want him to reach me. 

 

“Go!” I yelled. He slapped me. That was the first time he had ever touched me like that. I was even angrier seeing his face showing so much regret.

 

“I didn’t… I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry, Arthur. I’m sorry.” He pleaded, trying to touch me, but I knew he was disgusted with himself. I didn’t want to see him again. I was tired. I was tired of all of it.

 

“Leave. And never come back.” I calmly said to him. I knew he didn’t want to leave, but I was angry. I meant it at that moment, but when I saw him walk out the door, I wanted to run after him, but I couldn’t. I knew I had lost him forever.

 

Every day since, I cried every night, getting drunk and sleeping. I felt like my father–– it disgusted me, but I couldn’t bring myself to change. I tried to immerse myself in different things— went to college seminars that talked about queer history and theory and read books about them, especially books about ballet. I became somewhat of an activist, helping out when I could, especially when the AIDS virus was rising in the early 90s. I had gotten a job as a ballet instructor for children, I could see the passion they had in their eyes like I once had. I missed dancing so much. Every time I tried, it would hurt me so much. I had to be sent to the emergency room one day because I had tried to dance again. I laugh at it now but back then, I was so convinced that I could still do it I just couldn’t let it go. I guess I never really passed the denial stage. 

 

I went on about my life, being an advocate, learning, and teaching. But I was not happy. I would frequently smoke, drink endless amounts of wine and wallow in my own failures. I often thought about Paul and what he was doing, but I could never bring myself to search for him. I knew that he had his own family now. I had contemplated visiting my mother’s grave— she had passed a few weeks after Paul left— but I couldn’t bring myself to do that either. My sister would call me frequently to ask how I was and ask if she could come to visit with my niece and nephew. I sometimes accepted, spending the day with them and having a generally fun time, but as soon as they left, I was back to being a sad man. It was until I met you, Chuuya. 

 

It was April 29th, 1997. In particular, I wasn’t doing anything that night, only reading and listening to light music. I heard a knock at my door. I wasn’t sure what made me leap out of my chair to open it. I guess some stupid part of me would have thought it was Paul, but no, it was someone better— it was you. I opened the door and saw no one until I looked down at your bloody face. I gasped in horror, taking into the house to warm you up and to call an ambulance for you. As I was waiting, I held you in my arms, telling you that everything would be okay as you lightly whimpered. I knew you wanted to cry, but you were too weak. I had put the CD and the letter aside, only focusing on you. I remembered I had this song on; it had a soothing violin sound, only then did you calm down a bit. I knew you were scared, I think anyone with a right mind would be terrified, but you were a fighter, no matter how frightened you were. 

 

Once the police and ambulance got there, they asked me what had happened. I told them all I knew, the fake birth certificate inside the letter envelope, but I didn’t give them the CD and letter. I kept that hidden, knowing it was meant for you and for me only. I rode with you to the hospital because you didn’t want to leave my arms. Since that day, I visited you every day, and the nurses knew me by heart and thought I was your father. When one of them asked me if I was, I didn’t know what came over me, but I said, “Yes. Yes, I am.” 

 

You had these beautiful eyes that people could easily get lost in, fiery red hair to match your enthusiastic personality that you already had. I had adopted you as soon as you got out of the hospital, letting you keep your name. I would quickly come to find that I wanted you to keep your own identity, that that part of you was always yours, even though I knew how much you loathed it later on in life. 

 

When you were a year old, I took you to the park one day, having a small picnic, just the two of us, until I heard a familiar voice call my name.

 

“Arthur?” I had turned, knowing that it was Paul, turning to see him. He was older, yet still as handsome as ever. He looked at me, shocked and surprised to see me. I suppose that it was quite a shock to see me with a child. 

 

“Since when did you have a child?” I could tell that there was this sense of heartbreak in his voice, hoping that I hadn’t strayed away from my identity like he did.

 

“I adopted him.” He sighed in relief. We stayed silent for a moment, hearing you coo and point at him like you were telling him to come sit with us. He smiled at you, bending down to come closer to you as you grabbed hold of his hand. He laughed, and so did I. He looked at me so fondly like he always did. 

 

“You’ve grown out your hair.” I ran my fingers softly through my black hair as if I was unaware of that. 

 

“Oh, yeah, well, there’s really no point in keeping it short anymore.” My smile faded, and so did his, but yours smiled brightly. 

 

“Why are you here, Paul?” I asked, taking you away from him. I don’t know if I did that, but I knew you could feel my anger and sadness. 

 

“I was here with my sons.” Sons. I guess he could tell that I was sad because what he told me next was supposed to make me feel better, even though I knew he was lying.

 

“I left my wife.” I gave him a soft smile, smiling at me in return as you began to play with my hair— that was your favorite thing to do at the time. It reminded me of my mother for some reason. 

 

“I think you should go back to them.” He looked back, watching his sons play with the other children.

 

“Yeah, I think you’re right… Arthur?” I looked up at him, I could tell how much he yearned for me, and I knew that he could see that I did too.

 

“Yes?” 

 

“Are you busy anytime this week?” I had contemplated if I should tell him for a moment, but before I could say anything, I told him when he should come by.

 

“I’m free later tonight, but I can’t really leave the house.”

 

“I’ll stop by at seven?” I nodded my head, watching him leave with two boys hand in hand. I could tell he loved his sons, but I knew that deep inside, he’d rather have me than them. But I would never let him. I looked down at you, watching as your eyes shined brightly, the sun making your hair glow. And that’s when it came to me— if I had still had Paul, I would’ve not had you. I think I would’ve wanted you more than Paul. You saved me from the dark, just like I saved you. We were both in the dark when we found each other, and now, you are my ray of light. My son. 

 

Later that night, you fell asleep when Paul came over. You were tired from the picnic, and I had taken you to bed early. Paul and I had dinner, drank wine, and talked and talked. I couldn’t remember when was the last time we talked. It sort of reminded me of the first time we went out for drinks. That was a while ago now.

 

The song By This River began to play softly in the background. “Remember this song? You used to hum it all the time.” Paul pointed out to me. I never realized how much he paid attention to everything I did. I didn’t think much about the humming, but he seemed to notice it.

 

“Dance with me.” He got up, lending me his hand. I took it. As we started to slowly dance, I couldn’t help but think that that was what I needed. I just wanted to dance again. I would forever be grateful to Paul for giving me one last dance. I cried into his shoulder as we clung to each other. I could feel his tears running from his cheek onto the crook of my neck. I had to look at him to see his face and wipe his tears. 

 

“I lied… I didn’t leave my wife.” I knew he was lying, but I just wanted a moment with him, just a moment alone.

 

“I know.” He cried harder, so did I. We kissed each other, feeling the softness of his lips against mine, the lips I had kissed so many times before.

 

“I have to go.” He said. I knew I would never see him again, but I was at least happy to get this last goodbye. 

 

“I love you, Arthur. I will always love you.” 

 

“I’ll always love you too.” I saw him walk out the door, leaving me standing in the middle of the living room, hearing the music fade. I wiped the tears from my face, heading to your room to check on you. You were sound asleep, drooling all over the place— some things never really changed. Ha! 

 

But I was happy now.

 

When you turned seven, I was unsure how to go about talking to you about your mother. I was taking you to violin lessons— that was conveniently next to the place where I taught ballet. 

 

“Why don’t I have a Mama?” You asked me. I was unsure how to answer this question, but I sighed and did my best.

 

“Because she couldn’t take care of you, so she gave you to me.” 

 

“Then you knew her?” I paused, thinking, I guess you caught onto it because you frowned.

 

“No, I didn’t know her. I found you. But I like to think of it as you found me.” You laughed. By that time, you had laughed a lot at anything and everything. It made me feel like I was doing an excellent job as a father, although I was never perfect, especially in times like this.

 

“I found you, Dad! I found you!” You cried out in laughter, jumping up and down with your violin case. You were so full of life and smiles, but there were many things I hid from you, especially the stares that people would give you and me. I don’t think I hid my sexuality from anyone, and they looked at me as if I wasn’t allowed to have you as a child. Sometimes I did feel like I didn’t deserve you. 

 

When you were twelve, I was diagnosed with Common Variable Immunodeficiency. It made sense when I would get sick, even more frequently than so. When I told you, I knew that you were scared when you heard it could be life-threatening. You did everything in your power to protect me and take care of me because you were afraid that I would leave you.

 

You came home one day from school when you were so angry— you may remember or perhaps not, you got into too many fights. You went up the stairs playing music so loudly. I could hear your footsteps stomping on the floor, hearing muffled screams. I came into your room, and you were crying. I asked you what was wrong, and you replied by saying, “Everything, Dad! Why can’t people act like decent human fucking beings!” 

 

“What happened?” You wiped the tears from your eyes and turned down your music. “Kids suck… They were calling you named and then calling me named, and I just started punching this kid. I was just walking home, and this fucking asshole started asking me if I was ‘homo’ and if you were a ‘homo,’ and he just kept on saying it and saying it, and I just snapped and kicked his ass.” 

 

I wanted to ask you if you won the fight, but knowing you, you did. But I just held you, stroking your hair like my mother once did when I was upset. “Dad?” You asked me.

 

“Yes?” 

 

“I think I’m gay.” You told me. I just smiled and held you close to me.

 

“Cool.” You gave me a light punch on my arm, yelling at me.

 

“Cool? Just cool?” I tried to suppress a laugh.

 

“Yes, Chuuya. That’s cool.” You smiled at me, telling me about the rest of your day and going on about how you kicked that boy’s ass, even though I said to you that violence wasn’t the answer.

 

“That’s a load of shit!” You always had a way with words, Chuuya. 

 

That summer, I took you to Japan to see Yokohama. I knew that your mother lived there before fleeing to Paris— based on the letter I read. I guess, in some way, I wanted you to know where you came from, to have a piece of your mother— though I do dislike her very much for what she did to you. I think you deserve to know who she was, even though you’ve told me many times that you don’t. I am not asking you to forgive her— I can’t even forgive her— but just to know that you were always on her mind…

 

When you met Dazai, I knew just how much you loved him. In a way, you two did remind me of Paul and me, but Dazai seemed to have more integrity than Paul or I. He was a child with a lot of harm done to him. I do not think he had much of a happy childhood or did not know how to express himself. He is a promising young man, despite some of the things that he does. 

 

I have to confess something to you, Chuuya. During winter break, I had told him about your mother. Please do not get angry at him; he was only curious— and he was blackmailing me. We smoked and talked about your mother, and that’s when I knew that he truly loved you because I saw that tiny glint in his eye that showed so much anger and disgust for someone to leave you like that. 

 

I know that you two will always love one another, no matter what, for better or for worse. 

 

Anyway, I suppose that that would be the end, son… I will die soon, so I hope this letter sees you well. I hope that you will live a happy and fulfilling life. I love you so much. You were the best thing that had ever happened to me. If you’re worried, don’t be. I’ll be dancing and dancing. Whether it be hell— as all those homophobic nuts would say— or in heaven, I’ll be happy. I’ll be dancing again. 

 

Every time you hear those songs, please think of me and know that I am there with you.

Chapter Text

Dazai sat alone at the casino bar, watching the door as people walked in and out. He had been drinking but was not drunk enough to not know what he was about to do. He went to the casino with every intention, doing something he would not normally do— plead. 

 

He drank one drink after another, feeling his body grow light. Trying to figure out what he was going to say to Fyodor. He took one last gulp of the liquor, getting up and staggering to the door. Knocking and knocking until Fyodor opened the door, giving each other a smirk.

 

“Dazai. How kind of you to stop by. Come in.” Dazai waltzed in the room, looking around the dark room. 

 

“Take a seat.” Dazai flopped onto the couch while Fyodor brought out different boxes, placing them on the table.

 

“Your usual?” Fyodor teased. Dazai shook his head. 

 

“I didn’t come here to buy drugs.” Fyodor squinted his eyes, trying to figure out what Dazai’s play was. 

 

“Then how may I be of service to you?” Fyodor sat on the other end of the couch, patiently waiting for Dazai to continue. Dazai looked at him, trying to focus on Fyodor’s smiling face. 

 

“Stop selling to Chuuya.” Fyodor’s smile grew wider, becoming more intrigued. Dazai was confused by this, but he knew Fyodor wasn’t stupid, assuming that he probably put two and two together. 

 

“So you’re the roach? Ha!” Fyodor took a sip of his drink while shaking his head and smiling. 

 

“So Chuuya thinks of me like a roach? I thought I was more like a stray cat.” Fyodor got up, making himself and Dazai another drink. 

 

“I thought more like a rat, but I could see a cat. But that’s beside the point. Why do you want me to stop selling to him?” Dazai knew it was a stretch, but after that night he helped Chuuya with his music, Dazai knew that he sneaked off to the bathroom to use. He was awake the whole time, but he couldn’t say anything. 

 

“He’s getting worse, and you know that.” Fyodor handed him his drink. Dazai played with the rim of the glass, his thoughts going hazy, but he still wasn’t drunk enough to not understand what was happening.

 

“I know, but that is not my place—”

 

“Yes! It is! You have to stop giving the fucking drugs to him!” Dazai snapped, taking Fyodor aback. He never knew how much anger and sadness Dazai could show. He had only seen a glimpse of it four years ago when he was on drugs but never like this. It was almost scary but fascinating at the same time.

 

“I always thought you were a person of reason and logic. Does Chuuya really take that away from you?” Dazai knew Fyodor was more intrigued with him than he was of Chuuya’s situation. Still, Dazai played along to his little game in hopes of getting him to stop.

 

“He’s the only person to ever make me feel alive.” This answer seemed to satisfy Fyodor. Dazai took a cigarette out, rubbing his eyes to get his thoughts straight. 

 

“Are you going to fucking stop or what?” Fyodor laughed, taking a sip of his drink. 

 

“Ah, Dazai, I think you and I know that that’s not gonna happen.” Dazai didn’t know why he felt so angry or wanted to scream and yell at him and throw a tantrum like he was a young child. 

 

“And why the hell not?” Dazai sighed, glaring at Fyodor. He took a long inhale of his cigarette, feeling briefly weak and dizzy, trying to focus on Fyodor’s voice.

 

“Because if I do, then he’ll go find someone else, and I’m the only one who sells pure drugs… No poison…” Dazai figured this would be the case, but he didn’t care. He wanted to believe that Chuuya would get sober if Fyodor would stop selling to him. His mind went cloudy and foggy, trying to find a reason. 

 

“If Chuuya wants to get sober, then, by all means, I’m not opposed to it. Losing a customer won’t damage my income. But that’s only if  he  wants to.” Fyodor continued. Dazai took a sip of his drink, wanting to throw up. Fyodor noticed Dazai’s irritation, but he persisted. 

 

“You know Fukuchi? Well, if I stop selling to Chuuya, he’ll surely go to him, and he doesn’t sell  safe  stuff—”

 

“Fuck you, Fyodor. Fuck you.” Fyodor smirked, waiting for Dazai to continue on.

 

“Chuuya wouldn’t do that… He just wouldn’t….” Dazai knew it was untrue, but he tried to tell himself to get himself to believe that that would happen if Fyodor stopped giving him drugs.

 

“Yes, he would, Dazai, and I don’t think you need me to tell you that.” Dazai took another sip; the alcohol no longer stung his throat, letting it settle as if it was water now. Listening to Fyodors’s voice persisting on.

 

“He’s going to keep using unless he wants to stop. I know you like to control, but this is beyond your control, beyond your power.” Dazai didn’t want to hear it. He was in control.

 

“No, no, you’re wrong. I’ll get him to stop. Watch.” 

 

What the fuck am I saying ?’ Dazai wanted to stop talking. He knew that what he was saying was complete bull shit. 

 

“Ha! You can’t play savior this time, Dazai.” He wanted to cry because he knew he was right. No matter how much he wanted to believe that he could save Chuuya, it wasn’t the case. He knew that everything that Fyodor was telling him was true, and he even predicted it as such before coming to talk to him. Still, he couldn’t help but do the opposite of that. 

 

“You know if I stop selling, he’ll go to Fukuchi… So what do you want— him to die in five years or five minutes?” Hearing this made Dazai’s stomach feel ill, sighing, trying to get his nerves under control. 

 

“I… I just want him to stop.” Fyodor took pity on him for a second, looking at the drunk man lounged on the couch, seeing the hazy glimmer in his eyes. Fyodor sighed, putting his glass down on the table, ready to make a proposal.

 

“Okay. I’ll tell you what. I’m leaving in a couple of weeks— meeting with suppliers. Next time I see him, I’ll tell him I can’t sell his usual amount, I’ll even give him a discount… But if he comes back, I’m not sure what to tell you. You have five days to  gain your control  over him again.” Dazai looked at him suspiciously. He wanted to know why Fyodor had such a fascination with this, why he was willing to help him out.

 

“At what price?” Fyodor smiled, staying silent. Dazai felt a light sting on his fingers, seeing the burned cigarette pierce the flesh on his fingers. 

 

“I like Chuuya, and not in the way you think— he’s definitely not my type— but he definitely left an impression on me.” Dazai gave him a drunk smirk, putting out his cigarette.

 

“He’s always been likable. Everyone always loved Chuuya. Sometimes, I don’t even know why he chose to like me when he had a bunch of people falling head over heels over him.”

 

“I said I liked Chuuya, not you. I don’t really care for your side of the story. Although, it would be good for extortion later on… How do you feel about lying in court?” Dazai began to laugh. He may have had a mutual dislike for Fyodor, but he sure was someone he could play fun mental games with.

 

“Oh, Fyodor, lying is part of my job… But not enough for you.” Fyodor shrugged, hearing Dazai laugh cynically. 

 

“Chuuya told me all about you, you know. Had some good things and not-so-good things to say about you.” Dazai was drunk already, feeling himself sink into the couch. 

 

“He’s such a nuisance… I actually hate him.” Dazai lit another cigarette, laughing and snickering. Although he seemed to be the only one that was laughing.

 

“You are such a good liar, but not enough to surpass me.” Dazai stopped laughing, looking at Fyodor’s smiling face. 

 

“Well, it was nice doing business with you, as always. But I’m afraid that I must leave. I have an over-confident redhead waiting for me at home. Don’t want to keep him waiting.” Dazai put out his cigarette again, getting up and losing his balance.

 

“Get home safely, then.” They gave each other a fake smile. Dazai stumbled out of the room, walking onto the sidewalk, feeling the night air hit him. He felt even more dizzy and nervous, misstepping into the alleyway and hurling. He groaned, wiping his lips, thinking of all the lies he was going to tell Chuuya about where he had been. He believed that it would get easier to lie to him— granted, he lied all the time— but every time he looked into Chuuya’s eyes, seeing how they looked so blurred like they weren’t his, it got harder and harder. There were moments where he just wanted to blurt out that he knew about what Chuuya had been doing.  

 

Dazai looked up at the sky, seeing the moon surrounded by the bright nightlife in Yokohama. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to speak, to talk as if someone was there, but he did. 

 

“Is this what you wanted? Is this what you fucking wanted?” God had a funny way of showing Dazai that he could care for someone. 

 

“First Oda and now Chuuya? Ha! You really have a fucked up way of showing me that my life sucks.” He laughed, taking out his flask taking a sip. He looked at the silver metal, remembering the memories behind it— Oda and Chuuya. He had an urge to go visit Oda’s grave, talk about what he wanted to do, and ask for advice. He knew that Oda wasn’t going to answer him, but he just wanted to talk to him, to imagine him sitting under the tree, reading his book while he spoke and nagged about Chuuya.

— 

 

Chuuya opened the door to see Dazai give him a drunk crooked smile. “Well, well, well. Look who it is?” Chuuya said sarcastically, watching Dazai stumble into his apartment. Chuuya smiled, watching him lay on the couch. Chuuya could smell the alcohol and tobacco as he passed him— he reeked of it, actually. The mixture reminded Chuuya of their teenage days together before Dazai left. Even though it felt nostalgic, it made him sad. 

 

“Don’t lay on the fucking couch! I just got it cleaned, and you have vomit on your shirt.” Chuuya rushed to him, turning his body, hearing him laugh. Chuuya laughed too, taking Dazai’s shirt off.

 

“Oh, is Chuuya trying to get me naked?” He giggled as Chuuya picked up his body.

 

“No, I’m going to get you cleaned up because you smell like shit.” Dazai didn’t stop giggling, reaching out to Chuuya.

 

“Let me kiss you.” Chuuya scoffed, rolling his eyes. 

 

“No, you’re drunk, and your breath smells like vomit,” Dazai whined, grabbing Chuuya’s hand. Chuuya looked at him, seeing the need, but it wasn’t lustrous or passionate— it was out of necessity.

 

“C’mon, I’ll run you a bath.” Dazai didn’t say a word. Something was off with him; Chuuya could see the way his eyes looked at him. He was constantly paranoid nowadays over Dazai, wondering why he always looked at him that way. It made him anxious. 

 

He knows .’ The little voice in his head will tell him, but he consistently pushed it away, trying to act as normal as possible.

 

Chuuya dragged him to the room, laying him down on the bed, walking towards the bathroom to run the bath for him. He let the heat of the water run through his fingers, thinking about what Dazai was thinking. He knew the way he looked at him, and the way he looked at him a minute ago was different. It didn’t feel right. He knew it should be nothing to get nervous or anxious about, but he couldn’t help but feel on edge. 

 

He walked back to the room, finding Dazai groaning as if he was in pain. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Chuuya asked, but Dazai didn’t answer. He kicked the bed to get Dazai to focus on him. 

 

“Hey!” There still wasn’t a response. Chuuya just sighed, pulling Dazai up and beginning to undress him.

 

“I’m going to take your bandages off. Is that okay?” 

 

“Mmhmm,” Dazai hummed, nodding his head. Chuuya’s heart began to race, not because of Dazai or anything out of love or lust, but because he was scared. He wasn’t sure of what, but he could feel his chest closing in on him. He unwrapped the bandages, seeing the scars on his arms— some new, some old, and some in the healing process. Chuuya wanted to cry right then and there, but there was no answer to why. He always thought that he had something to do with it, but then again, his moods have been up and down these recent days. Chuuya hated to admit it, but it all spiraled out of control ever since Dazai came back, but then again, it was bound to spiral out of control sooner or later. 

 

Chuuya placed him into the bath, scrubbing his arms gently so as to not reopen any wounds. He washed his back, then his neck. Something in Chuuya still didn’t feel settled, like he was reliving a memory all over again. A lump caught his throat; he felt like he couldn’t breathe anymore. He did want to cry, but the pain hurt so much.

 

“What the fuck is going on in your fucking head, huh?” Chuuya didn’t know why he sounded so angry, he wasn’t mad at him a minute ago, but he was angry now.

 

“That’s a secret.” Dazai slurred, placing a finger onto Chuuya’s lips, shushing him. Chuuya smacked his hands away from him.

 

He knows. He knows. He knows .’ The voices chanted. 

 

“Shut up!” He shouted at the voice in his head, not realizing that Dazai was now half sober, watching as his eyes grew with worry.

 

“Fuck, sorry. That wasn’t for you, I just—”

 

“No, it’s fine. You don’t have to explain to me.” Chuuya was unsure why he hugged Dazai, not caring if his shit got soaked with water. 

 

Dazai was equally taken aback by the action. Chuuya was growing more unpredictable now. Dazai tried to wrap his arms around him, but he froze. 

 

Chuuya dried his body, grabbing bandages from the nightstand drawer. Dazai peeked briefly at the door, wondering if he kept more of his stash in there. He had thought and fantasized about taking it and flushing it down the toilet, but it was a horrible plan. Chuuya would just go out to buy more and even suspect Dazai of taking it. Dazai acknowledged Chuuya’s erratic behavior, anxiety, and paranoia getting the best of him, seeing him as a threat than someone he had known for most of his life. He wasn’t his best friend anymore, his lover, or his former partner. He was a threat to him, and what made him artificially happy. 

 

“You kept bandages for me?” Dazai smirked, watching as Chuuya wrapped the bandages around his arms. It felt nostalgic; Dazai almost longed for it. He remembered the first time he did it, seeing how he cared for him so tenderly even after seeing something like that. But back then, he wanted to fight him, push him away, but now, he just sat back and enjoyed it. Dazai reached his hand out, caressing Chuuya’s cheek. He looked up at him, seeing the dark circles around his eyes. He looked tired, like he hadn’t slept much at all. 

 

“I don’t think I have any clothes that’ll fit you. You can just borrow some underwear for now.” Chuuya walked away from Dazai’s touch, throwing him a pair of boxer briefs his way. Dazai was sad, but he didn’t let it show, putting on the underwear. 

 

“Lay down.” 

 

“Oh? How demanding.” Chuuya wasn’t in the mood to yell something snarky back at him, watching Dazai slowly do what he said, without letting the worried gaze leave Chuuya.

 

Chuuya tucked him into bed, kissing his forehead. “Get some sleep, Mackerel.”

 

“What about you? You know, maybe you’ll actually grow if you get some sleep too.” Dazai didn’t want him to leave; he wanted to stay with him. He didn’t want him to see him walk out, knowing what he was about to do next. 

 

“Heh. Yeah.” He gave Dazai a thin fake smile, closing the door. He was alone again. He knew he could run off to get him again, but Dazai just dug his fingers into his thigh, letting the fingernails pierce through his flesh until he saw a faint red on his thighs. His heart was pounding; his breaths were heavy and short, letting his head set on the pillow. He inhaled it, smelling Chuuya, trying to remember the past— remembering the Chuuya he once knew and lost. 

 

Chuuya laid his head back on the door, running his fingers through his hair, slightly pulling on the strands to get the thoughts out of his head. He kept trying to tell himself that Dazai didn’t know, that he couldn’t know, that there was no reason for him to know.

 

He walked into his music room, closing and locking the door behind him, taking out his vial, snorting the three scoops he took out of the half-empty glass. He looked at it, knowing that it wouldn’t last him. He needed to go to Fyodor in a few days. 

 

The screams in his head finally settled, letting him focus. It was quiet in his head now, feeling the energetic pull. He unlocked the door, not trying to raise any suspicion when Dazai woke up. 

 

He walked up to the music stand, empty music sheets. He blankly looked at it, thinking for a moment, turning his head to the doorway, thinking of Dazai. He had this slight hope that he would come rushing into the room to be with him. Still, as Chuuya stood there, there was nothing, not even a tiny sound indicating that he was walking towards him. Chuuya sighed, looking back at the music sheet. He thought of Dazai, feeling the guilt rise in him. He laughed because of how guilty he felt. ‘ Why the fuck should I feel guilty? Huh? Why should I ?’ But no matter how much he laughed, he actually wanted to cry, letting the soft tears come down his face as he picked up the violin, still giggling. 

 

He began to play, thinking about Dazai and how he felt, seeing the notes run through his brain as he played, thinking of the memories he had with him. It was a soft, heart-breaking tune, as he reminisced. He played it until he couldn’t think of anything more, grabbing a pencil, writing down every note that passed his brain as he played. 

 

“That was beautiful.” Chuuya turned, seeing the door wide open. Dazai had his robe on, walking towards him. 

 

“Ha! I know, right! I must be a fucking genius cause holy shit, was that fucking good.” Dazai gave him a sad smile, sitting at the piano bench, placing his fingers on the keys.

 

“Show me what you have.” Chuuya walked over to him, placing the papers on the edge of the piano. Dazai memorized every note that Chuuya wrote, playing the notes that would go along with it.

 

“Yes! Yes! Like that. Keep going!” Dazai winced at Chuuya’s newfound enthusiasm, making him clench his jaw from both anger and disgust. It had been a while since he last saw Chuuya play the violin, but it didn’t matter if he was high or not. He was still beautiful, like the first time he saw him play. 

 

They played all night until Chuuya looked like he would pass out from exhaustion. “C’mon, Chuuya, let’s go to bed.”

 

“No. I have to finish it. It was going so well. We were doing so good… C’mon… Just… One more time.” Dazai could see that Chuuya was losing his focus, trying his best to stay awake to finish it. 

 

“We can work on it tomorrow.”

 

“No! You don’t fucking get it! You don’t fucking understand! I have to fucking finish it because if I don’t I… I…” Chuuya couldn’t finish his sentence, burying his face into his hands, slightly pulling on the tips of his hair. Dazai got up, reaching to him, but Chuuya just smacked his hands away from him.

 

“Don’t fucking touch me. Don’t fucking touch me. Don’t you ever fucking touch me!” Dazai knew he didn’t mean it. It was the drugs talking and not him. Dazai persisted in reaching out to him, no matter how many times Chuuya pushed him away.

 

“Don’t fucking….” Chuuya’s voice cracked as Dazai finally got a hold of him, burying his face into his chest, letting him hear the smoothness of his heartbeat. He could feel the tears run down his skin, stinging worse than the cigarette from earlier. Dazai held onto him tighter as he whimpered, stroking his hair and swaying. Chuuya clung to him, letting soft sobs escape his throat. He didn’t know why his emotions were getting the best of him, letting it run wild. But he knew that he just wanted to finish what he started, no matter how tired he was. He just wanted to remember the past, not to let it escape him again. 

 

“Let’s go to bed,” Dazai said again, holding him tightly as they walked to the bed. Dazai undressed him, laying him down on the bed. He pulled the covers over him, watching his eyes slowly close. Dazai continued to stroke his hair as he drifted to sleep. He wiped his thumb across Chuuya’s dark circles, seeing the restlessness he had seen. He was different from the last time he came over. He was losing himself in a short amount of time, watching him lose control over his mind and body. He laid his head on his chest, hearing the rapid beating of his heart. It was different now. Everything was different, and he could do nothing about any of it.

 

“You look like shit.” Yosano pointed out, Ranpo nodding his head, agreeing with Yosano.

 

“Yeah, well, you know, long night.” Dazai winked at them. They both put a disgusted look on their faces, turning away from him. Dazai briefly smirked but let his smile drop as soon as they turned away.

 

“Dazai!” He put back on his smile, turning to Atsushi.

 

“Yes?” 

 

“How do you want me to organize the paintings?” He walked over, looking at the six paintings. He told Atsushi where to put them, looking at how they all told a story of the memories he had in his mind— the day Dazai met Chuuya, the time he first saw Chuuya play the violin, the day they got into their first fight, the first time he spent winter break with Chuuya and his father, the day he finally kissed him, then the day he left him. 

 

“So, what’s the story?” Dazai looked at them, seeing the masterpiece he had created. He wasn’t sure how to answer, but Atsushi figured it out.

 

“Is he coming?” 

 

“Yeah. He is.” Atsushi nodded his head, smiling at Dazai before heading into the back to retrieve more paintings.

 

Dazai wanted them to stay like this. He didn’t want the paintings to ever go down. He wanted everyone to know just how important this was for him and how important Chuuya was. He could just imagine the envy in everyone’s eyes as they look at it, knowing that they will never get to understand this same exact feeling. It was only for him to devour and no one else. They will never get to enjoy the intimate moments, the touch of his skin, the desire in his blue eyes, the way his hair glowed under the morning sun, the way the moonlight complimented him so well. He was beautiful, so effortlessly beautiful.

 

Dazai wanted to cry right then and there but stopped, knowing that he couldn’t not while people were around. He sighed, walking away from the paintings, walking around to see the others. Still, his mind stayed in place, thinking about Chuuya’s reaction.  

 

“He’ll love it,” Ranpo said, standing beside him.

 

“Oh, you think?” Dazai said nonchalantly. He didn’t know why he had to pretend in front of Ranpo when he could basically read him, but Dazai supposed that he was also trying to convince himself that he was happy and didn’t care in the world, rather than the people around him. 

 

“Ha! Of course. Have you gone stupid or something?” Ranpo played along. Dazai smiled, looking brightly at the other paintings around the gallery. He was somewhat self-conscious that Chuuya would not like it, but how could he not— it was for him after all. 

 

Chuuya dismissed everyone, organizing his papers, briefly studying them. He thought about what happened a few nights ago with Dazai, thinking about the song he was writing with him. He knew it was for Dazai— a little ode to him. 

 

“Chuuya.” Akutagawa grabbed his attention, seeing the raven-haired boy walk up to him.

 

“What is it?” He didn’t mean to sound cold, but he was in a rush, having to go to the casino and then to Dazai’sart show. But Akutagawa was unfazed by it; seeing the change upon him was nothing new to him. He had seen how fucked up he was when Dazai left him. It was not a new thing.

 

“Tachihara wants me to invite you to go out, but he’s afraid that you’ll yell at him again, so he told me to come to ask you.” Chuuya wasn’t sure why this made him laugh, but it was funny to think that Tachihara was slightly afraid of him— it was comical.

 

“I can’t. I’m visiting a friend’s art show.” Akutagawa’s eyes light up, knowing exactly who the friend was. Despite having nothing going on in his head most of the time, he was observant.

 

“So you’re going to meet with Dazai?” Akutagawa tried to play it cool, but Chuuya understood that he idolized Dazai ever since he was in the orchestra at a young age, being his apprentice for a short time before he decided to leave.

 

“Yeah, but I’d appreciate it if you don’t tell anyone,” Chuuya said, feeling a bit of guilt creep into him. It’s not like he wanted to keep Dazai a secret, but he could just imagine the plotting look that Mori would have, the disapproving look that Kouyou would have, the disappointment in all his friends. He wasn’t ready to disclose that part of his life, not yet, anyway.

 

“Don’t worry, I won’t.” Chuuya smiled at him, giving him a small pat on the shoulder.

 

“I’ll tell him you said hi.” Akutagawa tried to hide a smile. 

 

“Would you really?” Chuuya huffed out a chuckle, nodding his head.

 

“Thank you,” Akutagawa whispered, walking away to meet with the rest of the group. 

 

Chuuya walked to his car, sitting there for a moment before taking out his vial again. He had been doing more lately just so he could function right. He hated how he felt when he was with Dazai a few nights ago. It made him feel so low and so out of place. He didn’t want to say anything, but he had been thinking a lot about death. He didn’t want to die, but he couldn’t find any way of living anymore, but it brought him back to life again whenever he did drugs.

 

He started his car on his way to meet with Fyodor. Still, something felt unsettling, again, like his paranoia was getting to him again.

 

He walked in, hearing the loud machines play annoying winning sounds and the sounds of coins hitting slots. Chuuya never felt more annoyed when it felt like those sounds were piercing through his skull. 

 

“Fyodor, open up.” Chuuya knocked on the door, impatiently waiting. The door cracked open, seeing Fyodor smiling down at him. “Welcome.” He gestured his hand for Chuuya to come inside, shutting the door behind him.

 

“So, I have something to tell you.” Chuuya was already displeased with what Fyodor had to tell him.

 

“What?” Chuuya clenched his hand, watching as Fyodor brought out a smaller box than he was usually used to seeing.

 

“I have to leave in a couple of weeks, so I will not be of service. I’m meeting with suppliers, so I don’t have your usual, but do not freight, I will give you a little discount.” Chuuya frowned, watching as Fyodor opened the box to him.

 

“Four vials, that’s as much as I can give you.” Chuuya rubbed his eyes, annoyed already. He sighed as he tried to calm his anger.

 

“Fine, how much?”

 

“For you? Ten thousand.” Fyodor smiled at him, handing him the small jewelry-like box. Chuuya took it, taking out the money from his breast pocket, throwing the money onto the table. Fyodor grabbed it, running his fingers through the cash. 

 

“Pleasure doing business.” Chuuya rolled his eyes at him, walking out the door without his usual goodbye. 

 

“Dazai was right. He is getting worse.” Fyodor said to himself, putting away the money. 

 

Chuuya slammed the car door, heavily breathing from fury. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He wasn’t supposed to only get half of what he usually got. He began to wonder why Fyodor couldn’t give him a heads up, but it wouldn’t make any difference either way— he would still get half of what he got anyway. 

 

He took out his vial again, taking one more bump before starting his car and driving to the gallery.

 

Dazai didn’t want to admit that he was nervous, so he was preoccupied with the other guests who swarmed through the doors to look at his paintings, receiving praise from every one of them as they drank wine and champagne. He had hoped that Chuuya would come, since he had specially ordered his favorite wine to be catered during the event— not without a stern yelling from Kunikida, of course.

 

“When’s he coming?” Atsushi asked, looking more nervous than he was.

 

“Any minute now,” Dazai answered, sipping on champagne as he watched the door. 

 

Not even a minute goes by as he sees the familiar red hair and azure eyes walk through the door. A weight lifted from his shoulders, watching as Chuuya looked around for him. He pretended to be immersed with his painting, waiting for him to notice— which he did. 

 

He walked over to him, standing beside him. Dazai knew he was high, but not like he was nights prior. He was slightly happy about that. 

 

“These are yours?” Chuuya asked, his eyes filling with wonder and beauty as he stared back at them. Dazai didn’t quite notice it until he looked down to answer him. Seeing the gaze submerged into the paintings reminded him of the same look he gives him every time he looks into Chuuya’s eyes. 

 

“Yes! You like?” Dazai said in an enthusiastic tone, but Chuuya didn’t say a word, starstruck by the paintings.

 

“Of course, you are, duh!” Dazai grabbed a glass of wine from a caterer passing by, handing it to him. Chuuya grabbed it, not taking his eyes from the paintings. He looked at the note cards attached, reading about the artist.

 

Like I need to fucking know who he is. ’ He said to himself as he read on. He read each note for each painting. Tears welled up in his eyes as he read each message, looking back at each image. He looked back at Dazai, who gave him a genuine smile, watching his eyes growing brighter than he had ever seen them before, watching his own reflection. He had never felt so guilty about everything. He looked back, staring at the paintings. 

 

Dazai turned away for a moment, watching as Ranpo smirked and Yosano gave him a thumbs up. He turned back, watching as Chuuya stood in place. 

 

“They all have a story.” Dazai finally said. Chuuya did not even look up at him to talk, immersed as if he was staring back at himself in awe— which he was. All of them were of him, the way that Dazau saw him, the way Dazai thought of him in such an angelic and beautiful way. He was staring at them the same way Dazai had always looked at him for all those years— passionate, envious, alluring. 

 

“No shit…” Chuuya finally said, taking of sip of the wine. ‘ Prick even got me my favorite wine .’ He let the taste set on his tongue before he spoke up again.

 

“Hey?” Dazai watched him, observantly, waiting for him to make his next move.

 

“What is it, hat-rack?” 

 

“I’m going to kiss you, so if you don’t want anyone to see, then I suggest that—” Dazai interrupted him, leaning down and pressing his lips against his. The taste of wine always tasted better when they were on Chuuya’s lips, tasting more fruitful than just drinking it out of a glass or bottle. 

 

“I hate you,” Chuuya said, pressing his forehead against Dazai’s. They didn’t care if people were watching, not caring if there were people around to scold them or disapprove of them. Chuuya finally felt like he was okay again. Even for a moment, he felt like he was in the right place at the right moment. 

 

“I know!” Dazai sang, placing one last kiss on his lips before taking him to introduce him to his coworkers.

 

“This is Yosano, Ranpo, and you already met Atsushi.” Chuuya smiled as they all said hello and shook his hand.

 

“I love your work,” Yosano said, shaking his hand.

 

“Me too!” Ranpo followed, repeating the same action as Yosano.

 

“Oh, you listen to my music?” Chuuya asked. He never thought that Dazai’s coworkers would be fans of his.

 

“Oh, no, Poe is. You might know him, the weird antisocial music journalist. Yeah, big fan of yours. But I was more talking about the day you beat Dazai up.” Chuuya couldn’t help but laugh.

 

“Thanks, that’s actually my best work.” 

 

“Yes, we noticed.” Yosano giggled, covering her smile with her hand. They all looked at Dazai, who was pouting and crossing his arms.

 

“All of you suck. The only one who was willing to help me was Atsushi.” He threw his arm around the white-haired boy. Atsushi groaned as Chuuya went on about how he used to beat up Dazai and their time at the academy and how it was ‘hell’ being his roommate.

 

“Dazai, come with me.” Ranpo gestured to him. Dazai was slightly confused about why he wanted to speak with him, but his gut told him that he had a vague idea. They walked to the other side of the room, Dazai waiting for Ranpo to finish the appetizers on his plate.

 

“He’s high, isn’t he?” Dazai wanted to act shocked, but there was no point in pretending anymore.

 

“Yeah,” Dazai said dryly, looking back at Chuuya, making Yosano and Atsushi laugh. Dazai could see that even though he was high, he hadn’t changed when it came to people loving him. ‘ Who wouldn’t love him .’ 

 

“You have to be careful. I’m no expert, but the stories I hear from Poe about musicians getting into drugs. It gets pretty bad.” Ranpo said, filling his mouth with more appetizers. Dazai already knew this.

 

“Thanks, Ranpo.” 

 

“Don’t mention it.” They walked back, hearing the loud roaring of laughter from all three of them. Dazai wrapped his arm around Chuuya’s waist. He didn’t seem bothered by it; instead, he looked like he was accustomed to it already, acting like they usually did before he left the orchestra. 

 

Just for this moment .’ Dazai wanted to savor the moment; even if it only lasted a minute, he wanted to enjoy this. 

 

They laid in bed, Dazai holding onto Chuuya’s naked body in his arms, giving him small butterfly kisses on his neck, fiddling with the ring that was wrapped around his neck. Dazai could see that Chuuya was coming down, watching as his eyes grew dull and sad. He knew that it wouldn’t last, that those hours of enjoyment would be forever. 

 

“Dazai?” 

 

“Hm?

 

Dazai could see that Chuuya was hesitant, but Dazai didn’t push him, letting him think for however long he needed to. He pressed his lips on the top of his head, still playing with the ring. ‘ I should get a matching one .’ 

 

“If I died, would you cry?” Dazai felt like he was being stabbed, getting angry, but sad, at the same time, that Chuuya would ask such a disgusting question, but he did what he did best— pretend. 

 

“Ah. Chuuya asked the weirdest question.”

 

“Tsk! Forget it then!” Chuuya spat out. He was unsure why he even asked the question, but he had an idea that it was because he was coming down, feeling the sadness creep upon him. It was like he was being dragged into the darkness, no matter how much he fought. But he was tired of fighting. He didn’t want to fight it anymore. He tried to tell Dazai that he knew everything— about him learning about his mother, about the things that his father left him, about how he finally read the letter and listened to the CD, that that day he read the letter. He listened to it; it was the day he got hooked on coke. He wanted to tell Dazai about the first time he actually did drugs. Ever since he saw those paintings, he felt like he had the need to tell him everything. But alas, he didn’t. He closed his eyes, letting himself drift to sleep— though he knew it wouldn’t last.

 

Dazai held onto him, letting the rhythmic breathing vibrate against him. He stroked his hair, allowing the soft curls to wrap around his fingers. He looked at Chuuya’s face, studying it. He looked so tired and drained. He looked like he was losing so much weight already. Dazai couldn’t help but feel like this should’ve been him, not Chuuya. He should’ve been the one to look like he was on the verge of death, not Chuuya. 

 

“I won’t cry if you die… Because I’d die with you.” Dazai planted one last kiss on Chuuya’s forehead, letting himself drift into darkness.

Chapter Text

The sun pierced through the apartment, hitting Dazai's eyes, forcing them to open. He groaned, tossing his body around, feeling Chuuya's body right beside him. He drew circles on his bare chest, kissing his jaw. Chuuya followed with a groan, pushing Dazai's face away from him. They were both hungover, not wanting to get up. 

 

Dazai moved his body closer to him, tossing his leg over him. "Get it off," Chuuya mumbled, trying to get whatever rest he could. 

 

"No." Dazai giggled, shoving his face on the crook of his neck, feeling the leather from the choker lightly pressed against the tip of his nose. Chuuya sighed, opening his eyes to see the old white ceiling. 

 

They had gotten the apartment right after graduation. It wasn't nice and big like they wanted, but it was enough and in their price range. They had been looking at getting a bigger one since they signed a contract with Mori's concert hall. They were going to be conductors, as well as composers. They were making enough money that they could now save for a bigger one, but for now, they would have to suffice with the one they had for the time being. 

 

"I'm going to see my Dad in a bit." Dazai groaned, not wanting him to go anywhere. He wanted to stay there with him, order takeout, and get drunk again. But Dazai understood that Chuuya's father was more important since his health took a turn for the worse. He could see the worry in Chuuya's eyes, on edge that he would receive a call from the hospital or the stay-at-home nurse that his father had passed. So for two nights in a row, they had been getting drunk, helping Chuuya cope with not being with his father and so he could prepare to not be sober when the call would come. 

 

"Okay." Dazai planted a kiss on his neck, tracing his lips up to his jaw and then to his lips. Chuuya let out a soft moan, burring his fingers into Dazai's hair. "I'm going to see if Ango and Oda want to hang out at the bar later, then." 

 

"Okay." They looked at each other for a brief moment, enjoying the peaceful moment. Dazai leaned in again, kissing him again and again. Chuuya shifted their bodies, adjusting himself on top of Dazai without letting their lips separate. His fingers hovered over Dazai's body, feeling the light goosebumps on his fingertips. Dazai groaned as Chuuya pressed his hips against his. 

 

"Someone's eager." Dazai teased, wrapping his legs around Chuuya's torso. "You can never shut up, can you?" Dazai chuckled, feeling Chuuya's tongue swipe the pulse on his neck, gasping from feeling the warmth of his tongue.

 

It was the simple bliss that made Dazai weak under Chuuya's touch—letting Chuuya indulge him, tasting every piece of him. It was like he was being touched by an angel, feeling the soft lingering fingers caress every inch of his body with such care, yet with such passion like Chuuya was playing the violin or the guitar, letting himself be the stings that Chuuya so often touched with such gentle firmness. He was never so used to not being in control. Yet, when Chuuya felt him, he let everything go just to chase the sweet release, relieving any thought or pain away from him. He made him drunk alone from his touch, making him dizzy, his mind going hazy, and his body feeling light like he was gravitating.

 

Just like Dazai, Chuuya could not help but feel the gentleness of Dazai's touch on his skin. It was almost like light feathers touching every curve and crevice on his body like Dazai was sculpting him from memory. Memorizing everything. 

 

"Fuck." Chuuya panted out, running his fingers through his hair. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to come to his senses again. Dazai wanted to sleep, not caring about how sweaty and sticky he was.

 

"Come on, let's take a bath," Chuuya suggested, making Dazai whine in protest.

 

"Don't fucking give me that. I just washed the sheets, and I'm not having your sticky body ruin it."

 

"But—"

 

"Are you going to wash it?" Chuuya knew that Dazai never did learn how to use the washing machine, using it against him.

 

"Ugh! Fine!" Chuuya smirked at Dazai admitting defeat. Chuuya dragged Dazai's naked body out of bed, taking them into the bathroom. He carefully washed Dazai's body, scrubbing his hair.

 

"Turn around," Dazai ordered, applying shampoo in his hand.

 

"No. The last time you washed my hair, you left a bunch of residue cause you didn't use the proper conditioner." Chuuya spat, snatching the bottle away from him. "And you're using the wrong shampoo. I told you I didn't like this one. It leaves my hair all dry." Dazai rolled his eyes, washing away the shampoo from his hands.

 

"Tsk. So high maintenance. You know, dogs aren't supposed to care what shampoo their owners give them." Chuuya threw the bottle at him, which he dodged. After all these years together, Chuuya was so predictable, knowing what he would do before doing it. Chuuya grabbed the right bottle, handing it to him.

 

"This one, jackass." Dazai innocently smiled, applying the shampoo in his hand and scrubbing his scalp. He loved washing Chuuya's hair; it was an intimate act that Dazai liked doing for him, feeling the soft curls wrap around his fingers, the aroma lifting through the air. Despite Dazai' hating' many things Chuuya liked, he definitely enjoyed the fresh scent of his cologne and shampoos— which he had too many of.

 

"You're scrubbing too hard!" 

 

“Ah, Chuuya is so delicate.” Dazai mocked, kissing the back of his bare neck before letting the water run down his head.

 

"Ha! I'm the delicate one? You're the one that acts like a drama queen whenever you don't get what you want." Dazai smiled, wrapping his arms around Chuuya's naked torso. 

 

"Why is Chuuya so mean?" Dazai knew he was acting like one right then and there, but he only did so for the sweet reaction. 

 

"See!" Dazai's smile grew wider, letting his lips linger on the crook of his neck. Chuuya turned around, pushing his head off of him, turning to the water-filled bathtub. He sighed as the heated water relaxed his muscles. Since graduation, he had been tenser with everything around him— Mori, his father, Dazai, the orchestra. Everything felt like they were closing in on him. 

 

"Scoot," Dazai commanded. Chuuya reluctantly complied, letting Dazai sit in between his legs. Dazai sunk his head, sighing from relief as well. They sat in silence, letting the hot water pull the tension from their muscles.

 

"Chuuya feels so nice," Dazai commented, leaning his head back on Chuuya's chest.

 

"Sh. Don't ruin it." Chuuya covered Dazai's mouth, leaning his head back on the tile walls. Dazai frowned, swiping his tongue across Chuuya's palm.

 

"Ew!" Chuuya snatched his hand away from him, wiping the saliva away on his chest.

 

"I don't know why you're acting like that when I've licked worse places than your hand," Dazai said with a smirk. Chuuya growled, throwing water into Dazai's face. Dazai sat up, looking at Chuuya in disbelief. 

 

"How dare you hurt my beautiful face!" Chuuya threw water at him again, trying to refrain from laughing, but Dazai could notice the corner of his lips curve a bit.

 

"Looks who's delicate now!" Chuuya yelled, hearing the cheerful tone in his voice. Dazai's mouth stayed open, pretending to be in disbelief that Chuuya would do such a thing. Dazai slashed water onto him, having a small water fight, letting the water splash onto the floors. Their laughter echoed through the small apartment, along with the water hitting the tiles. It was moments like these that made Chuuya and Dazai love each other the most— laughing and having fun, feeling free, without a care in the world, even if it was just for that one minute. 

 

Dazai brought his hand up to Chuuya's cheek, letting his thumb softly caress him. Chuuya lightly pressed his lips on his palm. They kissed one another, giving each other light pecks as they smiled. It was a happy moment that they fruitfully enjoyed with one another despite the many things around them. Chuuya relaxed when he was with Dazai, feeling like he was floating in the air, levitating and transcending into something beautiful. They separated from one another, gazing into each other's eyes. 

 

"You have such chubby cheeks," Dazai commented, pulling onto Chuuya's cheeks to see how stretchy they were.

 

"Ow! Quit that!" Chuuya smacked his hands away, getting out of the tub.

 

"Chuuya, I forgot my towel! Can you get it for me?" Dazai stayed in the now cold tub, waiting for Chuuya to answer.

 

"No!" Chuuya yelled back, throwing a towel in Dazai's direction. He smiled to himself, watching as Chuuya walked out of the bathroom. He was so beautiful. The pigment on his hair and eyes never faded, always being the brightest things about him, along with his lively personality. 

 

"I'll draw on his face tonight." Dazai giggled to himself like a teenage girl. 

 

"I'll see you later tonight." Chuuya kissed Dazai's lips, watching him gather his essentials— phone, wallet, keys, cigarettes, and lighter. Some things never really change. 

 

"Oh, Chuuya!" Dazai sang, watching as the young man turned around, letting the sun glow upon the top of his red hair as he opened the door. This is what Dazai called him for, just to take one last look at him before he left.

 

"What, Osamu?" Chuuya sighed. Hearing his name made Dazai's heart jump, letting a genuine smile set on his face.

 

"Have a safe trip, dear!" Chuuya clicked his tongue, turning away to leave. But it made him feel good that Dazai would be waiting for him when he came back home, having the genuine smile engraved in Chuuya's mind. Butterflies began to flutter in Chuuya's stomach, making him feel like he was in the right moment. 

 

"Hey, Dad!" Chuuya called out, greeting the nurse as he made his way up the stairs.

 

"Hello, Nakahara. How are you?" She asked with a sweet smile on her face.

 

"I'm good and yourself?"

 

"I'm good." 

 

"How's my Dad doing?" She gave him a sympathetic smile, trying to find the right words to tell him that his condition was getting worse. But Chuuya already knew, giving her an understanding nod. He walked past her and into his father's room, watching as he laid there silently. Arthur looked over at the doorway, watching as he forced a smile on his face. There was a hint of light behind his eyes, happy to see his son.

 

"Hi." Arthur greeted, leading with a terrible cough. Chuuya slightly winced, letting himself sit down on the corner of his father's bedside.

 

"How've you been?" Arthur stayed silent, not wanting to answer Chuuya. ' What a fucking stupid question .' Chuuya told himself, frowning. Arthur seemed to notice, grabbing Chuuya's hand, lightly squeezing to assure him that it was okay. 

 

"How's the new apartment search going?" Arthur asked. Chuuya understood that his father was trying to avert Chuuya's train of thought.

 

"It's going okay. Dazai and I are looking into this apartment near the concert hall. It's pretty big; it has three rooms, a balcony, and a living room. You could come live with me and—"

 

"No, Chuuya." He rolled his eyes, throwing himself on the bed.

 

"Dad, c'mon. It'll be easier and —" Chuuya wanted his father to go and live with him and Dazai as soon as they got their apartment. But it was hard to get his father to comply or at least think about it. In all honesty, Arthur didn't want to live with Chuuya. He didn't want his son's life to depend on taking care of him. Arthur understood that Chuuya had been on edge since his health got worse. 

 

"No. I've told you many times already. I do not want to live with you and Dazai." Chuuya groaned in frustration, jolting straight up.

 

"But why? Is it Dazai? Because I assure you he is totally okay with it." Arthur weakly shook his head, looking out the window.

 

"Live your life, Chuuya. Don't worry about me." Arthur's voice was hoarse but irritated at the same time. 

 

"But—"

 

"Stop. Stop it." Arthur said, coughing more. Chuuya sighed, getting up to retrieve his medication. He briefly looked at the Oxycontin, clenching his jaw as memories from that night haunted him. That was the first time he ever did drugs, but it wasn't his last. After that night, he had done it a couple of more times. Every time he did it, he thought it would get better, but he felt like he was on the verge of death, like he was dying, watching himself die. He hated not feeling like he wasn't alive, but Chuuya couldn't stop it, letting him forget for a moment about who he was. 

 

"Here." Chuuya handed him the medicine bottle, along with the glass of water on his nightstand. 

 

"Just think about it." Arthur didn't say anything, just looked out the window again. They stayed there in silence, not saying a word to one another. 

 

"Chuuya?" 

 

"Yeah?" Chuuya looked at his pale face, but Arthur did not look at him, still looking out the window. 

 

"Have I ever told you about the time I fell in love?" Chuuya looked at him, confused about what his father was talking about.

 

"No, not particularly." His father never really talked about his love life or anything about dating. Since Chuuya has known his father, he had never dated or talked about dating.

 

"I fell in love with this man when I was young. He was so beautiful, always wore his hair in a braid, and was thrilling. I love him…." Arthur weakly smiled. Chuuya stayed silent, grabbing his father's hand.

 

"You mean loved?" Arthur shook his head, lightly squeezing Chuuya's hand.

 

"No. I still love him. Even though I haven't seen or talked to him in so long, I still love him." Chuuya looked at his father, watching as the happiness filled his face. It was the first time in years since he'd seen his father look so happy. 

 

"What happened?" Arthur's face turned back to sadness, his eyes growing glossy from the tears. Chuuya understood that something was sad and regrettable about it without any words. 

 

"He married a woman, but our relationship didn't stop. It only stopped when I got injured. I was so angry… But I met him again when you were a year old. You liked him so much despite knowing you for only a few hours. Heh. He didn't want you out of his arms… It made me sad, thinking that we could've had that life together if…."

 

"Okay… I get it." Chuuya didn't want to see his father cry. He was scared to watch him as he retold the story of his love that he lost.

 

"No, you don't, Chuuya." He frowned, trying to understand where his father was coming from.

 

"Then what then?" Arthur averted his eyes back to Chuuya, sighing.

 

"He didn't live his life… You should live yours… Don't think that you have to be here with me because—"

 

"Dad, please, don't." Chuuya shook his head, clenching his jaw to try and stop himself from saying something that he might regret.

 

"Chuuya. Live. Do that for me, okay?" Chuuya looked away, looking out the window. He didn't answer him, staying silent. They stayed like that for as long as they could until it was time for his father to rest. 

 

"Okay, Mr. Rimbaud, it's time for you to rest." The nurse came in and said. Chuuya smiled at his father, leaning in to kiss the top of his head. 

 

"Love you, old man." Arthur gave a weak giggle, giving Chuuya's hand one last squeeze. 

 

"Love you too, my beautiful son." Chuuya sucked the tears back into his eyes, smiling down at his father.

 

Chuuya said his goodbyes to the nurse, walking out the door and getting into his car. He sat there for a moment, trying not to let the tears go, but he failed. He sobbed loudly, burying his face in his hands. He wanted to forget what his father said; he didn't want to live his life if it meant he would lose his father or lose the only person who cared for him since day one. He didn't want to live a life if it meant that.

 

"So, how's the apartment searching going along?" Oda asked, taking a sip from his glass.

 

"It's going great! I finally talked Chuuya into looking into that apartment with three bedrooms and a balcony." There was an ulterior motive on why Dazai wanted Chuuya to look into that apartment— the balcony. All those times he and Chuuya spent in front of the window, staring at the sky and garden, made him want a balcony so he could have those shared moments with Chuuya again. 

 

"Oh, that's great," Oda said, patting Dazai on the back. Dazai nodded his head in triumph, finishing his drink in one gulp.

 

"If you need any help, I know someone who can help get a good price," Ango said. Dazai flung his arms over him, tightly hugging his stiff body.

 

"Ango is so nice!" Dazai and Oda met Ango, the concert hall marketing director when it was their first day there. Oda had taken the job as a light and sound technician, earning more than he did when he was working odd jobs. Oda had then realized that college may have not been his calling and was now pursuing a career in writing. 

 

"Could you not?" Ango winced, gently pushing Dazai off him. They could hear Oda softly chuckle, shaking his head. 

 

"You two will be the death of me," Ango said, readjusting his glasses.

 

"Oh, Oda!" Dazai slurred, catching his friend's attention.

 

"Do you think we should… You know?" Dazai slurred, drunkenly smiling over to Oda. There was a small glimmer of sadness in Oda's eyes, but Dazai was too tipsy to recognize it.

 

"Oh, yeah." The two men cornered Ango, creeping up to him.

 

"No, please." Ango pleaded, putting his hand up to surrender, but they didn't listen to him. They tackled him, tossing him back and forth.

 

"Stop, you're giving me whiplash!" Dazai giggled like a child, Oda chuckling quietly as he stopped and readjusted Ango's glasses.

 

"Okay, we're done!" Dazai announced, throwing his hands in the air. 

 

Ango leaned into Oda, whispering to him quietly, "He's already drunk." Oda nodded his head, giving Ango a light pat on the back.

 

"Okay, Dazai, I think it's time to get you home," Oda said. Dazai whined like a sleepy child, not wanting to go to sleep. "No! I don't wanna! I wanna drink more! Ango still hasn't finished his drink, and I already finished my fifth? No, sixth one!" It was his eighth one, but neither of the men told him so. 

 

"C'mon, Chuuya must be worried," Ango said, helping Oda get Dazai out of his seat.

 

"Chuuya's not worried about me!" The two men didn't know that Dazai was purposefully acting like he was drunk to the point where he was acting like an erratic child. Yet, he was just doing so because Dazai partially wanted to be with Chuuya— having an idea he was in pain from his visit with his father— and partially because he wanted to see how the men would react, just for fun. 

 

"Yes, he is. The last time you went home this drunk, he started calling me a shithead." Ango grimaced at the memory of Chuuya yelling at him.

 

"Well, to be fair, he was calling every one of us' shitheads,' mainly to Dazai, though." Ango's face untwisted into a blank stare at Oda.

 

"How romantic." He said sarcastically, hearing Oda laugh as he flung Dazai's arm around his neck.

 

"Okay, Dazai, time to get you home. We don't want to feel Chuuya's wrath." 

 

"Boo! You guys are cowards!" Dazai slurred, stumbling along the streets with Oda holding Dazai on one side and Ango on the other. Dazai began to sing loudly, making people turn their heads as they watched the two men carry their drunk friend.

 

They soon made it to the apartment door; Oda knocked as Ango searched for the keys in Dazai's pockets. "I think he's here since his car in the parking lot," Oda said, knocking once more. 

 

"Chuuya! Oh, Chuuya!" Dazai called out, banging on the door himself. The door flung open, revealing Chuuya in a robe with a cigarette and drink in hand. He looked like one of those elegant movie stars. Even the two men had to admit, he was stunning, like a bright star you couldn't look away from. 

 

"Well, look who it is," Chuuya said, taking a sip of his drink as he enjoyed the view of Dazai acting drunk. 

 

"Honey! I'm home." Chuuya smiled, opening the door for the men to come inside to throw Dazai onto their bed. 

 

"Sorry to intrude, Chuuya," Oda said, taking Dazai's shoes off. "It's fine." Ango and Oda— and Dazai, though he was in the middle of acting that he couldn't show his concern— looked at each other. It was out of character for Chuuya to act calm and not fight Dazai. He looked sad, like he had a tough day, but they didn't mention any of it, understanding that they would undoubtedly get yelled at for sure if they did. 

 

"I got it from here. Thanks, guys." Chuuya put his cigarette in his mouth, setting his drink aside as he grabbed Dazai, throwing him onto the bed. Despite his short and slim-fit stature, they were both surprised at how strong he was. 

 

"No problem. See you at the concert hall." Ango said, waving goodbye.

 

"Fuck off." And there it was; Chuuya's snarky comment. Oda tried to suppress a laugh, hearing Ango groan, directing themselves out of the tiny apartment. They stood there for a moment, listening to the silence as they walked side by side. Then, all of a sudden, they burst into laughter.

 

"I'll walk you home," Oda said, smiling at Ango. He smiled back, nodding his head. They walked in silence, looking up at the night sky. 

 

"I'm worried." Oda finally said, not looking at Ango. Ango sighed, stopping himself from walking.

 

"What are you worried about?" He asked, but Oda couldn't find the words. He was worried for Dazai, Chuuya, and everyone else in the orchestra. He knew he was on the sideline of things, but he could see the dread in their eyes, the sad darkness that laid behind them, similar to Dazai's. 

 

"He's getting worse. This is the third night in a row that he's been drinking non-stop. And Chuuya too. I mean, I understand that his father is really sick, but still, he's not the only one. I just wished they didn't have to—"

 

"Stop, Oda." He looked at Ango, frowning, trying to figure out what he was thinking.

 

"Just, don't."

 

"What are you talking about?" Ango readjusted his glasses, looking up to Oda. Ango felt like throwing up, not wanting to talk about it. He just wished that he wouldn't have to talk about it, but as Ango looked at Oda's concerned face, Ango began to hate himself even more than he already did. 

 

"Just drop it, okay?" Oda had never seen Ango act like this, like he was hiding a secret that one else was supposed to know about. Oda became curious, trying to understand what Ango told him through his eyes. But, for the time being, he let it go. ' I guess I have to find out on my own then .' Oda said to himself, continuing their walk to Ango's apartment. 

 

"Chuuya!" Dazai sang, tossing himself all over the bed.

 

"They're gone, so you can cut the crap." Dazai stopped, smirking up at Chuuya, who was standing over him.

 

"Hm. Seems like you know me too well." Dazai sighed, moving his body over so that Chuuya could sit next to him. 

 

"I've known and loved you since I was fifteen. I think I should be more than aware of your antics by now." Chuuya said calmly, sitting down on the bed. Dazai took the cigarette out of his mouth, wrapping his lips around it. Dazai waited for Chuuya to yell at him about it, but he didn't. He stared at him, looking at the sad look on his face. Dazai put the cigarette out, planting a kiss on Chuuya's thigh.

 

"Not now, Osamu. I'm not in the mood." It was heartbreaking to hear his name being said to him, hearing the genuine seriousness of his tone. 

 

"I'm not trying to get you in the mood. I'm trying to make you feel better." Dazai kissed Chuuya's hand, slowly feeling the heartbreak consume him. 

 

"I don't need to feel better." Dazai rolled his eyes, laying back down, although he didn't give up. He grabbed Chuuya's hand, holding it until Chuuya was ready to speak, which didn't take long.

 

"Do you think I'm happy?" Dazai was unsure how to answer the question without telling Chuuya secrets that he knew about him without his knowledge.

 

"No. I think you're just as miserable as I am." Dazai said in a joking manner, but Chuuya knew he was serious about it, and he was right. He was just as miserable as he was. Chuuya sighed, laying down next to him. 

 

"Do you think I could ever be happy?" Dazai began to stroke Chuuya's hair, holding him close. He didn't want to answer just yet, letting himself get lost in Chuuya's face. He had the sudden urge to draw him, watching the emotions in his eyes go wild, like a flowing river. 

 

"No." Dazai knew it was a mean thing to say, but he couldn't lie to Chuuya; not about this, anyway. Chuuya shut his eyes like he was in pain from hearing Dazai say such fleshing cutting words. They didn't say another word, but Dazai became uncomfortable in the situation, feeling the atmosphere grow heavy on his chest, feeling like he couldn't breathe. It had been a while since he had harmed himself, but the urges never left that moments like these made him feel like he was on edge, wanting to feel the little bit of liveliness in him. He felt like Chuuya's liveliness was slipping through his fingers since his father's illness worsened. His eyes were growing dark like his, and he hated it, trying to find something other than pain and sadness. He wanted desperately to go back to earlier that day, where they washed each other, slashed water onto each other, and had fun. But, even though Dazai hated this, Chuuya still showed incredible beauty, desperately making Dazai have the urge to paint him. 

 

"I'm gonna make myself another drink. You want one?" Dazai hummed to say yes to him, letting him go as he drifted into the tiny kitchen connected to their living room/bedroom. Dazai observed him, not taking his eyes off the deep red of his silk robe hugging his waist. Dazai got up from the bed, walked up to him, sliding his hands around his hips like he was sculpting, dragging his fingers gently down his hips, touching every curve, feeling the natural movements. It wasn't sexual or passionate; it was like he was making some sort of art itself, praising Chuuya in his own secret way that not even Chuuya knew. 

 

"Hmph. You really are touchy. Are you sure you're not drunk?" Chuuya turned around, handing him his drink.

 

"I promise." Dazai kissed the tip of Chuuya's nose, which made him cringe his nose.

 

"Ugh! Let's get drunk!" Chuuya yelled out, chugging his drink. Dazai wanted him to talk about it, but he knew if he asked Chuuya to talk about it, Dazai would be called a hypocrite— granted, he never spoke about what bothered him. Dazai took a sip, walking over to him, watching him get out his phone to play music. Something felt wrong. An unsettling feeling set in Dazai's stomach as he watched Chuuya chug more of his alcohol. 

 

"Dazai?" Chuuya called out, already tipsy, but Dazai ignored him, knowing what he was about to ask next.

 

"Let's dance." Before Chuuya could answer, he grabbed him, swaying to the song. Dazai slid his hands on his lower back, softly intending his fingers on his hips. Chuuya didn't say another word, just laid his head on Dazai's chest, listening to the sadistically calm rhythm of his heartbeat. 

 

"We should take a trip." Chuuya slurred, drunkenly swaying along with Dazai. 

 

"Where should we go?" Dazai asked.

 

"Paris… I miss Paris." 

 

"Okay, we'll go."

 

"And we'll bring my father." It was heartbreaking; to hear Chuuya drunkenly talk about something that could never happen. 

 

"We can't do that." Dazai could have easily lied, but it wasn't something he could have done at that moment. He didn't want to lie to him.

 

"And why the fuck not?" Chuuya's tone was angry, pushing Dazai away from him, making their bodies stop dancing.

 

"Chuuya… He's sick, I don't think—"

 

"Well, when he gets better!" Chuuya slammed his glass on the table. 

 

"Chuuya, I think you and I both know that—"

 

"You don't fucking know! How the fuck could you know, huh? You're not a doctor! You don't know shit!" Chuuya began to yell, stumbling to keep himself in balance. 

 

"Sit down. You're going to fall." Dazai grabbed his shoulder, trying to make him sit on the bed, but he smacked his hand away. 

 

"I don't care! All the lies you tell people, and you can't fucking lie to me? Why won't you fucking lie to me, huh? Why, Dazai? Just… please tell me that we'll all go to Paris together… Please?" It made Dazai sick to watch the water form in his eyes, watching how painfully beautiful they were, even in sadness. He wished he could lie to him in this instance, but for some reason, he couldn't.

 

"Ha. What else would I expect from a person who never had a father? Your fucking Dad croaked two weeks ago and acted like it wasn't a big deal— which, yeah, he was an asshole, but you didn't shed a fucking tear and just looked like you genuinely didn't care, relieved, even… But it's not the same for me… So, please, just lie to me." Dazai squeezed his hand into a fist, angry that Chuuya would bring it up. His father died two weeks ago, but Chuuya didn't know the whole story of what happened at the funeral. His mother cried to him— out of all her children, she chose him to cry to— telling him to meet a nice woman to marry and have children. He came out to her, telling her that he was already in a relationship with another man, telling her in the most sadistic way that he and his  boyfriend  would love to take her out to dinner at this restaurant that they frequently go to since they got jobs at the concert hall. His mother slapped him, telling him how he was such a disgrace to his family and that she no longer considered him a son. It hurt more than anything, but he remembered just laughing in her face. It didn't matter because he was still getting money from his father's will so he could save up on an apartment with Chuuya and buy him a ring. Dazai didn't want to admit to himself that it hurt like hell, not because his father had passed, but because he was no longer considered a son anymore. He envied Chuuya. In a way, he wanted Chuuya to feel the same pain as him, that he would no longer be considered a son anymore. But now that he looked at Chuuya, he was angry, both at himself and Chuuya. 

 

Dazai stayed silent, watching as Chuuya sat on the bed, trying to keep his tears from dripping down his face. "Why?! Why can't you fucking lie to me? Why? Why?" Chuuya jolted up, grabbing Dazai's collar, shaking him a bit, but Dazai didn't react; he just let him take his anger out on him. Instead, he would feel every ounce of Chuuya's pain than to be burdened with his own. Chuuya buried his face in Dazai's chest, sobbing loudly. He was already drunk at this point, clawing his fingernails through his shirt. Dazai wanted to wince at the pain, but he couldn't; he stayed still, like a dummy, letting Chuuya use him in any way that would make his pain go away. Dazai laid his hand on the back of Chuuya's head, softly stroking his hair, letting Chuuya lightly pound his fists on his chest. 

 

The night seized on, letting Chuuya cry and scream into his chest as if he was calling to his heart to awaken. Dazai held him, swaying his body back and forth like they were dancing again, feeling like they were both drifting in the wind like they were utterly nothing anymore. 

 

"Okay, that concludes rehearsal. Akutagawa; a word." Dazai gestured his finger to make him come over to him. Akutagawa did so without any hesitation.

 

"Yes, Dazai?" Dazai looked over the music sheets, not even looking over to Akutagawa.

 

"You fucked up." That was all he told him, not addressing the problem that he did.

 

"What did I do?" 

 

"If you didn't know what you did wrong, then maybe you're not cut out for the orchestra." Dazai finally looked up at Akutagawa, watching as his eyes turned into sorrowful darkness. For some reason, Dazai hated it.

 

"Do better next time, or else I won't hesitate to tell Mori that you're not cut out for this job." Dazai's expression was cold and severe.

 

"Okay. I'll do better." Akutagawa looked down at his feet.

 

"Good. Now, go." Dazai ordered, watching as Akutagawa walked out the door. Dazai sighed, throwing the papers on the music stand. 

 

"You know, you should be nicer to him." Oda walked by him with an electoral cord in his hand.

 

"Yeah, whatever, anyway, do you want to get a drink tonight?" Dazai said enthusiastically. It made Oda's skin crawl at how easily it was for Dazai to change his mood and demeanor within seconds. In truth, everything made his skin crawl when it came to the concert hall and the people working there. It was like he was watching everyone dying inside, especially Dazai. Guilt began to build within Oda when he found out what was happening behind the scenes, but he couldn't say a word about it.

 

"Sure. I'll ask Ango when I see him if he wants to tag along." Oda said.

 

"Perfect!"

 

"Wait, what about Chuuya?" Oda asked curiously. He usually saw Dazai and Chuuya together, arguing about nonsense, but he didn't see him this time.

 

"Oh, Kouyou gave him the day off. Family emergency." Oda could see the small glimmer of worry in Dazai's eyes, but he just kept silent.

 

"Okay. I'll see you out front." Oda gave him a small smile, walking out the door. Dazai found himself alone in the auditorium. Everything seemed loud in his mind. He shut his eyes tightly, trying to let his mind calm down, but it wouldn't stop. Something terrible was going to happen. 

 

"Dazai. How glad I am to see you." Dazai turned around to see Mori standing before him.

 

"I wish I could say the same to you." 

 

"Oh, how sweet of you. How's Chuuya? I hear his father is in worse condition… How unfortunate." Dazai wanted to laugh in his face. He knew that Mori didn't give two shits about Chuuya and how he was doing; all he cared about was when he would be returning.

 

"Like you give a shit," Dazai said lowly, flinging his messenger bag over his shoulder.

 

"What was that?" Mori rhetorically asked with a smile on his face. Dazai smiled at him back with an even bigger smile.

 

"Oh, nothing," Dazai said cheerily.

 

"I must be going, now. It was nice chatting with you, Mori, but I must add; maybe you could give me a heads up before talking to me— you really drain whatever life I have left in me." Even though he said it sarcastically, he meant it. 

 

"Hm. Noted." Mori said, watching as Dazai walked out of the auditorium. 

 

Dazai looked down at his drink, watching as the ice cubes melted slowly. He couldn't hear a word that Oda and Ango were saying, but he neither really cared. Something inside didn't feel right to him. Seeing Mori and talking to him never felt right. He was somewhat afraid, but he wasn't sure of what. He pushed the feeling deep inside, taking one big gulp of his drink slamming it on the table.

 

"So, where's Chuuya?" Oda asked. Dazai was puzzled as to why Oda wanted to know too much about Chuuya, but granted that Dazai always talked about him, he supposed that it was Oda's way of trying to understand him.

 

"He's with his father. He kind of took a turn for the worse." Dazai said casually as if it didn't matter to him, but it did. Dazai thought about that day when Chuuya gets the call or comes home one night, telling him that his father has passed. Dazai has an idea of what Chuuya would do— get drunk, fight, and cry. Dazai wouldn't stop him either; he would just let him cry, let him fight and drink if he so pleases to. 

 

"Well, let him know if he needs anything to let me know." Dazai hummed, acknowledging Oda's comment. 

 

"Do you think that he'll be at work anytime soon?" Ango asked, taking a sip of his juice. Dazai shrugged. He wasn't really thinking about Chuuya working or anything like that but granted him, he'd want to go to work just to forget— of course, he would fail. He was stubborn. 

 

"Ango, don't you ever stop thinking about work? I'm starting to think you love working." Dazai said playfully, waving his hand around to get the bartender's attention to get another drink. 

 

"I don't like working— well, I do, but I don't think it's everything in my life." Dazai scoffed, watching as the bartender placed a new drink in front of him. 

 

"Nah, I think Ango loves his job that he would do  anything  for it." Dazai teased, but judging from the slight reaction that Ango had, Dazai couldn't help but think he was serious. Still, he didn't bother interrogating him over it. Oda saw the slight reaction to, taking account of it and thinking of his response that he had the other week about wanting him to stop caring about the well-being of the people around him. Oda couldn't help it. Many of them were kids, watching as their eyes were slowly fading into pitch darkness. When he first met Dazai, his eyes had nothing left in them, like he was born that way; he felt terrible for them. But as he saw the other kids when he began working at the concert hall, he could see the light in their eyes as they started there, but soon began to fade like the dead. Oda felt immense guilt; Oda knew he had the power to say something, but he couldn't. He was tied down by whatever force the concert hall and Mori had him in— had them all in.

 

"Oda! Ango! You're my best friends!" Dazai slurred as the two men helped him walk up the stairs to his apartment. Oda glanced at the parking lot to see that Chuuya wasn't there. Oda frowned to himself, knowing the inevitable was coming. Oda searched for his keys in his pockets, taking out a silver key. 

 

"Okay, c'mon, now," Ango grunted as he struggled to keep Dazai standing straight up. Dazai groaned, slumping over Ango. Oda helped Ango drag Dazai into his apartment, setting him on the ground to take his shoes off. 

 

"Where's Chuuya?" Dazai drunkenly asked, taking off his own jacket.

 

"He's not home right now," Oda said, hanging his jacket on the coat rack. Dazai laughed, hugging onto the coat rack.

 

"There he is!" Dazai giggled, childishly giving the coat rack kisses. Oda tried not to laugh, hiding his smile with his hand, looking over to Ango, who had a disgusted look on his face. 

 

"Okay, time to get you to bed," Ango said, lifting part of Dazai's body off the floor and onto the bed. 

 

"Ugh, I'll wait for Chuuya here, mkay." Dazai turned to his stomach, grabbing onto a pillow, hugging it tightly. Oda supposed that it was Chuuya's and that Dazai was missing him. Over the years, Oda had seen how attached they've gotten to each other. Yet, their relationship seemed more and more distraught, which scared Oda with time. Still, he knew that if it wasn't for Mori, the academy, or the orchestra, the two could actually be happy with one another, but this was a dream that could never be fulfilled. 

 

"Night, Dazai." Oda gently ruffled Dazai's hair as if he was ruffling the hair of his own son, watching him drift to sleep.  

 

"Come on, I'll walk you home," Ango said. Oda looked at him, hesitant. Since that night, Oda had been wary of Ango, not really wanting to be around him alone anymore, afraid that he'd find more about what was happening with Mori and the concert hall. 

 

"Nah, I think I'm going to catch the train or something. It's not too late." Oda said, patting Ango on the back. Ango nodded his head and hummed, walking out of the apartment together. They said their goodbyes, walking away in opposite directions. 

 

Oda walked the busy night street, looking up to the sky. The moon was surrounded by the dark sky; it reminded him of Dazai's eyes. "I was probably born too late. Maybe I could've been your father if I wasn't born too late, then maybe you could be happy." Oda said to himself, but he pretended to talk as if Dazai was there with him.

 

Dazai couldn't sleep even though he was drunk. He was not used to sleeping without Chuuya by his side, no matter how hard he tried. He looked at his phone, seeing any missed calls or messages from Chuuya, but there was nothing. It was already midnight. With that, Dazai knew what had happened. 

 

An hour passed, Dazai heard the front door slam loudly, hearing the shuffling of footsteps walk to the bathroom, hearing the door slam shut again. It was dark, but Dazai could make up everything going on. There was silence for a moment, not hearing anything. Then he heard the smashing of glass and a scream coming from the bathroom. Dazai jolted out of bed, feeling sobriety take over him. 

 

He knocked on the door, trying to see if Chuuya would answer him, but he didn't. He pressed his ear on the door; he could hear heavy breathing, but there was still no answer.

 

"Chuuya, open up," Dazai said, knocking again. There still was no answer. Dazai sighed, turning the doorknob, revealing that it was open. He opened it, watching as Chuuya sat slumped on the bathroom floor, his hand all bloody from the broken mirror that he had punched. Dazai looked down at him, seeing clearly angry and drunk, tears rolling down his face. Dazai didn't say a word. He just went into the drawer to get the first aid kit, taking out his bandages.

 

"Don't," Chuuya finally said, wiping away his tears with his sleeve. Dazai still didn't listen to him, grabbing his hand and cleaning it. Chuuya wanted to fight him, but he was too drunk to lift his head up. 

 

"Fuck you, Dazai." Chuuya slurred. Dazai didn't pay any mind to it, only concentrating on Chuuya's wound.

 

"Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you." Chuuya drunkenly chanted. 

 

"You wanna know what happened?" Dazai didn't say a word, just let Chuuya be.

 

"My Dad died today! Ha!" Even though he laughed, tears rolled down his face again, masking his whimpers with laughs. 

 

"He's dead! Heh!" Dazai concluded as much, knowing that this would happen. 

 

"Everyone, fucking leave me! Everyone! And one day, you'll leave me! Watch!" Chuuya pointed his finger, with his good hand, in Dazai's face, trying to prove some point that Dazai, at that time, found ridiculous. In honest, Dazai was afraid of Chuuya leaving him. 

 

"I'm not," Dazai said, wrapping the bandage on his hand. 

 

"Yes, you will." 

 

"No, I won't." 

 

"Oh, fuck off, Osamu. Just fuck off. Just fucking leave. Go! Go!... Please." He began to break down, grabbing Dazai to hug him. Dazai did as he was gestured to do, wrapping his arms around him as he loudly wept, clawing at his shirt. At that moment, they both felt like nothing, yet there was so much going on inside of them. They seemed like they were both lost in a search for something unreachable. Dazai just held him all night, holding him in their bed, planting soft kisses on his forehead and cheeks.

 

"You really won't leave me too?" Chuuya asked. Dazai looked at him, watching as the redhead fluttered his eyes closed. He didn't want to look in his eyes in fear that he might find a lie somewhere. 

 

"No, I won't. I'll be right here." Chuuya hummed, pulling Dazai closer to embrace him even more. Dazai kissed him one last time before closing his eyes, preparing himself for Chuuya, getting himself ready for every pain that Chuuya was going to experience. 

 

It had been a week since Arthur passed. Chuuya was stubborn— as Dazai predicted— that he forced himself to go to work. Still, he was even angrier at everyone. No one said a word about it, not even Kouyou. Dazai knew she was concerned, but it wasn't like anyone would have addressed it. It was all a big game; Dazai noticed it. No one wanted to talk about anything or to anyone about the problems. It was like they were all convincing themselves that nothing was the matter, and if they kept doing what they were doing, then it would eventually go away.

 

"Oda. May I have a word with you?" Mori called out to him in the empty auditorium. Oda seemed hesitant, but he complied.

 

"Yes, sir?" 

 

"Oh, please, call me Mori." Oda didn't do that; he just nodded his head, waiting for Mori to tell him something.

 

"Ango tells me that you have quite the worry for the workers." Oda refrained from frowning, waiting for Mori to continue on, even though his mind was rolling with questions, especially questions with Ango.

 

"I know it is concerning, but I assure you that it is nothing to worry about." Oda didn't believe him for a second.

 

"Listen, I know you worry for Dazai. Seeing him getting drunk almost every night, especially with his lover, whose father just died, I get it. Still, I have to tell you to stop interfering." Oda raised his eyebrows, preparing to ask questions.

 

"And why shouldn't I be concerned?" It was a genuine question; Oda wanted to know why everything was kept secret.

 

"Well, you see, all these children and works come from messed up and horrible families. Of course, the concert hall would not be complete without the help of many of the parents, but I did have to use a few blackmailing tactics to get what I want." Mori chuckled.

 

"What are you trying to tell me, sir?" 

 

"I'm telling you if you do not stop meddling, I will have to interfere. I do know people, and you're one of my best workers, and I would hate to see you go." Oda knew he was sarcastic about the last part, but he was still unfazed by the threat.

 

"Right. I'll keep that in mind." Oda said, turning away from Mori and heading out the door. Though he was unfazed, he already knew too much than he bargained for. There were many things concerning the exploitation of money from parents, lists of fraudulent crimes that they had secret, along other scandals. There were observations that Oda picked up concerning the unethical labor of minors within the concert hall and the known drug and alcohol usage of children. But of course, no one said a word because it all ties with the parents and Mori, but if Mori goes down, everyone goes down. Everyone is guilty by association. Everyone would suffer the consequences if they didn't keep their mouth shut about it. That's why Ango told him to let it go because he was the publicist; he had to make it out to be that the concert hall was the best thing in Japan, that there were no secrets or potential scandals. That's when Oda realized that he was a threat. But there was nothing he could do. If Oda wrote an article about it to give to the Yokohama newspaper, he would ultimately admit his part in all this. He knew he wouldn't survive the punishment, but he also couldn't bear the guilt. 

 

' Why didn't I say something? Why ?' He would repeatedly ask himself. He could have helped Dazai; he could've been happy. Oda then realized that he had taken part in Dazai's unhappiness. And that was the biggest regret that Oda could have ever felt; letting Dazai down. 

 

The day was a bit better, Chuuya was finally able to eat a whole meal, and Dazai successfully made him laugh and smile. "You're insufferable." The words echoed in Dazai's ears along with Chuuya's laughter. It made Dazai happy, feeling like he had accomplished something. 

 

"I'm gonna go. I have to preparations to do for the funeral, and then I have to make a quick stop somewhere." Chuuya said sadly. He wanted to keep laughing, forgetting for a moment about what was actually happening around him.

 

"Okay," Dazai said, giving Chuuya one last kiss before he left. For some reason, it was more longing and yearning, like it would be their last kiss for a while, but they both had assumed that it was because of all the shit going on. 

 

"Oh, by the way, you have some packages. I left it on the table for you." Dazai nodded, turning back to Chuuya, watching the bright morning light shine down on him. Dazai would never get tired of watching him like that.

 

"Alright. Thank you, my wonderful maid." Dazai waved goodbye.

 

"I'm not your fucking maid, bastard!" Chuuya yelled back, closing the door behind him. Dazai smiled, feeling happy that it was finally like before. 

 

Dazai picked the two packages from the table; one of them was box-shaped, and the other was a thick yellow envelope that looked like it had many papers in it. He opened the box first, knowing what it was already; the ring that he bought Chuuya with Dazai's name engraved into it. He opened the box, showing the shiny silvery platinum ring. He held it between his fingers, letting it shine through the light. It was just as beautiful as Chuuya when he stood under the light. The words inside the ring read ' Property of Dazai Osamu. ' Dazai laughed, setting the ring on top of Chuuya's pillow. 'I can't wait to see his reaction.' He told himself, imagining the man yelling at him for the words on the side of the ring, but he knew that Chuuya would cherish it still. 

 

He got the other packaged, feeling like it weighed a ton. He opened it, revealing many papers and evidence of some kind. He looked through them, reading the beneficiaries of the many people that donated to the concert hall and the lists of crimes they created and others concerning Mori and his knowledge and blackmailing them. Dazai frowned, skimming through the papers until he noticed a letter from Oda. He opened it, letting his eyes read word for word.

 

Dazai,

 

I guess there are a lot of things I should explain. I wished I could have helped you before you decided to work for the concert hall, but I guess this is where we are now. I have sat back and watched you destroy your life, but you are not the one to blame… I am. I could have said something, done something, but I didn't because I knew that you wouldn't listen, but I still should have tried at the very least. I suppose you have already seen the papers addressing the many different crimes and exploitation of both parents and children. I don't think I could stand it anymore. I gave the evidence to you. Do what you will with them. If you decide not to use them, then I will not hold any resentment against you. I know that it would be for a good reason if you don't, and I think you and I both know who that would be. 

I want to tell you I'm sorry, Dazai. I'm sorry I let you down, that I could have been a better person for you. I do have one regret, though; I wasn't born earlier. Maybe then I could have been a father to you, to love you like a son, then perhaps I could have shown you that there's something brighter ahead of you. Maybe I could have been your father and you my son in another life. 

I have one favor to ask you before I leave you now; be a painter. You have a true talent. I want you to be happier, and I honestly believe that if you stay in the orchestra, you'll end up being consumed the guilt and despair like I did. I have always wanted to be a writer, but I guess I couldn't achieve that, so I am leaving you with my last letter. 

You are like the son I wished I could have when I got older. 

 

Yours truly,

Oda

 

Dazai felt like he wanted to throw up, feeling his heart racing and stomach-churning. He felt dizzy as he got up, not realizing that he was running out the door, heading to Oda's apartment. He was out of breathing, trying to stop his body from shaking as he banged on the door.

 

"Oda! Oda, please open up? Please?" Dazai begged like a scared child, trembling as the tears began to run down his cheeks. He banged on the door again and again, but there was no answer. 

 

"Oda! Please?!" But no matter how loud he screamed, there was no answer. He began to frantically turn the doorknob, kicking his feet to the door, trying to bust it open. He wailed, his face covered in tears and sweat as he kicked the door over and over again, yelling his pleas. 

 

"Oda!" Dazai let out one final yell as the door busted open, seeing the pool of blood on the floor. Oda laid there, still on his apartment floor. Dazai couldn't breathe. He only looked at the pool of blood that was surrounding him. Dazai tried to yell, but everything felt stuck in his thoughts as he saw him. He didn't dare go inside. He finally turned away to throw up the food he had earlier that day with Chuuya. He broke down on the floor, getting out his phone to call the ambulance. He tried to keep his composure, but everything felt like it was stuck in his throat, being blocked by the lump in his throat, feeling like he was being strangled by his own repression. 

 

When the police and ambulance finally came, he just sat there, not remembering what he had told the police officers, who were questioning him. Within minutes, they had ruled it a suicide, a bullet to the head. They wrapped him in a blanket, trying to soothe him, but no matter what they did to comfort him, he was haunted by the image of Oda. Dazai began to ask himself why he let this happen. Dazai couldn't help but feel like everything was his fault. He took out a cigarette, smoking it until he felt calm enough, but it took three— back to back— for him to get up from the curbside and walk back to the apartment. 

 

He didn't want Chuuya to be home. He didn't want to go home at all. He wanted to leave everything behind. He knew it would hurt Chuuya, but he couldn't bring himself to tell him anything that happened. He didn't want to; Chuuya was already dealing with enough. Dazai couldn't be there. He'll ruin Chuuya just like he ruined Oda. He'll destroy everything around him. 

 

Dazai walked into his apartment, looking around for a moment, thinking of all the memories–– the good and the bad. Dazai felt even worse. He felt so out of place, so disconnected that he felt like he was nothing like there was nothing left in him to continue. He grabbed his suitcase, stuffing it with clothes and the yellow envelope that contained evidence against the Mori. He had contemplated on leaving a not for Chuuya, but he looked down at the ring that laid on his pillow.

 

Dazai didn't want to leave Chuuya, but he could bring himself to tell him about the Mori and the concert hall or about Oda. He couldn't. He also didn't want Chuuya to feel obligated to care for him. Dazai didn't want him to take the pain for him, he didn't want Chuuya to feel burden with it, but he couldn't hold it in. He just had to go; he needed to go."

 

He stopped at the doorway, looking at the room one last time, he wanted to say that he was sorry, but there was no one to tell that to. He looked down at his feet, trying not to cry. He had never once felt like this when his father died, no even felt a slight pain in his chest, but he now knew. He finally understood what Chuuya was going through; he finally understood what it meant to lose a father.

 

"Dazai, you lazy bastard, guess what I have?" Chuuya chanted, walking into the dark apartment with a canvas in his hands. He looked around the room, trying to find Dazai, but it was silent, still, and empty. He frowned, scanning the room one last time until he turned the lights on. His eyes fell upon the open drawers that used to be filled with Dazai's clothing, watching how everything that was Dazai's was now gone. 

 

"What the fuck?" Chuuya set the canvas down on the floor, getting his phone out to call him, but it kept going straight to voicemail. He kept calling and calling, but there was still no answer. Panic began to set within him, searching the room one last time. He then began to call Kouyou, but her name popped up on his phone screen before he could dial.

 

"Kouyou, do you know wh—"

 

"Oda's dead." That was all she said to him. Chuuya fell silent, trying to understand what she was trying to say.

 

"What?" 

 

"Oda's dead. He committed suicide earlier today. We were notified by the police today… Dazai found him…." Chuuya clenched his jaw, his rage began to rise. He trembled, feeling his body growing hot. He didn't say goodbye to her. He hung up, looking over the room one last time as if it was all some practical joke— it wasn't. He threw his phone across the room, screaming at the top of his lungs. He was heavily breathing, falling to his knees. He began to wonder why Dazai would leave him like that, why he had to leave at all. Chuuya couldn't understand why Dazai wouldn't talk to him about it. Chuuya couldn't help but feel like it was somewhat his fault, felt like if he wasn't so uptight and so disheveled from his father's death, then maybe he wouldn't have left. 

 

Chuuya let out a loud sob, vigorously wiping the tears from his face, but every time he did so, he just cried even harder. He looked up, seeing a shiny metal on his pillowcase. He crawled over to it, picking it up to see the engraved letters inside the band, ' Property of Dazai Osamu .' Chuuya wanted to throw it across the room, but he knew that he would just end up looking for it later to keep. He held up the painting of the tree that Dazai loved so much back at the academy, hoping to give it to him as a present for when they moved into their new apartment together. But he was gone. 

 

Chuuya began to cry even harder, bringing his knees to his chest and crying. He wanted to claw his heart out, wanting to stop crying. He felt so dead now, feeling like he first learned about his mother, when he first took drugs, when his father died, and now when Dazai left. 

 

He was all alone now. Just like he knew he would. He was angry that Dazai had promised him that he would never leave him. But he knew he should have looked into his eyes. He wanted to believe that Dazai would have told the truth to him. But he supposed he got what he wanted; for Dazai to lie to him.

Chapter Text

Chuuya snorted of what was left inside the vial, trying his best to dig out whatever residue was left, rubbing it on his gums. He was craving more, wanting more, but Fyodor was out of the country, and there was no one else that sold but Fukuchi, but he sustained himself. He knew the dangers of buying from him, and his craving wasn’t enough for him to risk his life. 

 

He tilted his head back, letting the back of his head hit the headrest. He didn’t want to go to work. He would much rather go shopping or take a trip than go to work, but Mori was going to be there, so he had to try his best to feel like he wanted nothing more than to be there.

 

He walked into the concert hall, watching as Ango looked at him. Chuuya glared at him, watching as the man turned away nervously. Chuuya always knew Ango was hiding something from him since Dazai left. But no matter how many times he had asked— yell instead— him about it, he didn’t say a word, pretending like Chuuya was crazy. Chuuya clicked his tongue, wiping his runny nose, watching the blood slide across his fingers. 

 

“Fuck!” He hissed, rushing to the restroom, where he saw Akutagawa. Chuuya ignored him, grabbing paper towels, running the towel under some water, and cleaning the blood that dripped down into his mouth.

 

“Are you okay?” Akutagawa asked. Chuuya slammed his fist on the marble counters, hearing a crack coming from the brute force. Even though it sounded like it hurt, Chuuya couldn’t feel anything. He was entirely numb. 

 

“Fuck you, Akutagawa. Don’t I look fine? I’m fine! Now, fuck off.” Akutagawa blankly stared at him, rolling his eyes as he walked out of the bathroom. Akutagawa had just assumed that he and Dazai got into a fight. Still, he wasn’t aware of the severity of the spiral that was leading Chuuya down. 

 

“Fucking Akutagawa. Can’t mind his own fucking business. ‘Are you okay?’ Of course, I’m okay. I’m better than ever.” Chuuya finished cleaning the blood off his face, taking one last look at himself. He faked a smile, watching as his smile slowly drifted into disgust. He groaned, walking out of the restroom.

 

He walked into the auditorium, seeing Akutagawa speaking to Tachihara. ‘ They’re talking about you. They know.’ The little voice in his head began to talk, but he tried to shove it away. He needed to focus. He couldn’t let his paranoia let it get the best of him; he couldn’t.

 

“Chuuya.” He heard Kouyou call for him. ‘ She knows. She knows.’ Chuuya winced at the voices, grinding his teeth to make them quiet down.

 

“Yes?” 

 

“You don’t look too well. Are you sure that you’re okay?” Chuuya couldn’t help but feel angry for some reason. Out of all the years he has been using, out of all the years he was getting drunk night after night, this was the time she showed concern for him. 

 

“I’m fine. Can people stop asking me if I am? I’m fine!” He snarled at her. She was taken aback, watching as his blue eyes grew in a fury. She was almost frightened by it, almost like his eyes were a tsunami. 

 

“Very well. Don’t let Mori see you like this.” She walked away and took her seat, waiting for Mori to arrive. Yet, she still worried, watching as the man looked over the rest of the orchestra. They all looked equally as frightened as she was. 

 

Chuuya took his place, grabbing the baton, skipping through the music pages that he wrote not so long ago. He did not even give anyone fair warning, like he usually did, watching everyone wait for him to move his hand in fear. With anticipation, he finally brought the baton down, hearing the softness of the music echo into his ears, ultimately unable to listen to the voices. He then thought of Dazai, how the song was his unofficial dedication to him, just like the paintings. He felt like crying again, wanting rehearsal to be over, but he knew he had to stick through it. He closed his eyes, trying to feel the music echo through his body, but each time he did so, his lips began to quiver, wanting to whimper. 

 

“Excellent work, Chuuya! I would have never thought that you could have written anything so beautiful. It indeed reminds me of someone.” Mori smoked down at him. Chuuya looked down, trying hard not to glare at him. He bit his tongue, waiting for Mori to tell him whatever else he wanted to him.

 

“Keep up the good work.” Mori then left, being followed by Kouyou. She turned back to look at Chuuya, seeing as he looked like he was about to break down in the empty auditorium, but he didn’t. He only looked down like a lost dog. It pained her to walk away, but there was no other choice for her. 

 

Chuuya sat in his car seat, slamming the door behind him. He gripped his trembling hands on the wheel, heavily breathing. He finally broke down, hitting the stirring wheel with his fists and screaming. 

 

“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” He wanted drugs; he craved for them more than ever. He then began to cry, banging his head on the wheel. He wanted to crack his skull open, to finally let the voices out of his head. He just wanted everything to end. He was tired and wanted everything to just stop. He missed his father so much. He just wished that everything was like the past, but it wasn’t; no matter how much he craved for it, it wasn’t going to come back. 

 

He wiped his runny nose again, wiping away the tears from his cheeks as he turned his car on to go home, slightly hoping that Dazai would be there. 

 

He walked into his apartment to find Dazai lying on his couch, swinging his feet in the air and listening to music. He hummed loudly as he scrolled through his phone; that was until he saw Chuuya at the doorway, looking at him. 

 

“Oh, hello, darling! How was work?” Dazai took out his earbuds, pretending to be interested in Chuuya’s workday. Chuuya looked more relaxed, letting his shoulders drop down. 

 

“Heh. We both know you’re not interested in hearing how my day was.” Chuuya scoffed, walking to his kitchen and taking out a bottle of hard liquor. Dazai walked over to him, wrapping his arms around him, but Chuuya rejected it, squirming out of Dazai’s grip. It hurt Dazai, but he paid no mind to it— pretended, at least. 

 

“How the hell did you get in my house anyway?” Chuuya asked, taking a sip from the bottle. 

 

“You still keep the key under the mat?” Dazai rhetorically asked, smirking at him. Chuuya groaned, walking out into the balcony to smoke; Dazai walking behind him. 

 

“How was your day?” Chuuya asked, trying hard to concentrate, despite the splitting headache. He lit his cigarette, waiting for Dazai to answer, but he didn’t. Dazai just looked at Chuuya, watching how slow and trembling his movements were. Dazai was disgusted with the sight, but it hurt him more than anything. 

 

“I did nothing, but don’t worry, Kunikida yelled at me all day.” 

 

“Ha! Remind me to send him a fruit basket for having to deal with your lazy ass.” Dazai gasped as if he was appalled by the fact that Chuuya could say such a thing. 

 

“You never really stopped being so goddamn dramatic, have you?” For some reason, Chuuya wanted to feel nostalgic, thinking about the childish times he and Dazai had together. 

 

“Wow. You barely noticed?” Dazai said sarcastically, taking the cigarette from Chuuya’a lips. His fingers brushed against them, feeling the softness of them. The small gesture made it feel like Chuuya was being touched by electricity, letting it ring through his body. 

 

“Don’t you have cigarettes of your own?” Chuuya hissed, taking another swig of the liquor. ‘ Why isn’t this headache going away?’ He asked himself, slightly wincing from the pain. 

 

“Nah, I prefer to steal Chuuya’s, even though you have bad taste in cigarettes.” Dazai stuck his tongue out in disgust as he handed it back to him, though he was pretending like he didn’t like it. 

 

“You’re a damn parasite; that’s what you are.” Chuuya took his cigarette back between his fingers, taking a long drag, making his head feel light. ‘ Finally.’ He had been waiting for the headache to stop throbbing against his skull. 

 

“Yes, I am!” Dazai said joyfully.

 

“That’s not something to be proud of, dumbass.” Chuuya had to admit that it did make him laugh a bit. He didn’t want to admit it, but having Dazai around made him feel good, even though he couldn’t help but hate himself for it. He was supposed to be angry at him for what he did, but Chuuya wasn’t, no matter how hard he tried to. 

 

Dazai took the bottle from Chuuya’s hand, taking a sip from it as well. He looked out into the orange glow from the setting sun falling down, waiting for the moon’s arrival. “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” Dazai said longingly. Chuuya turned to him, looking at how he looked out into the sky, slightly smiling. Chuuya always knew Dazai was beautiful, but every time he looked up at the sky or into the city lights, he always found him to be more ravishing. Chuuya had to turn away like he was being blinded by the sight of him. 

 

“Yeah. It is.” Chuuya began to feel tipsy, but that didn’t stop him from drinking more. He took the bottle back, drinking a big gulp and passing it the bottle back to Dazai. They stood there, silently, admiring the view as the sun fell into darkness, greeting the moon. 

 

“You wanna know something?” Chuuya finally spoke, not taking his eyes away from the sky.

 

“What?” 

 

“Ever since I first met you, I fell so madly in love with you.” Chuuya didn’t know why he was saying this or why he even brought it up in the first place, but he wasn’t going to stop now.

 

“I know.” Dazai did, but he always tried to tell himself differently, thinking that he wasn’t worthy of something so priceless as Chuuya’s love. He still felt unworthy, despite everything.

 

“No, you didn’t.” Chuuya giggled, squashing his third cigarette into the ashtray. 

 

“Yeah,” Dazai said, looking down at Chuuya. Dazai could see the yearning in his eyes; he could see that they wanted something more to life than what he had. He didn’t want to live anymore. After that night, Dazai constantly reminded himself that Chuuya wasn’t the same person he once fell in love with. There was no life behind his life anymore. He didn’t want to live anymore. 

 

“What are you thinking about?” He asked Chuuya, hoping to get him to look at him, but he didn’t. His eyes still kept staying fixated on the dark sky. 

 

“That life’s meaningless.” Dazai gripped onto the railing, letting out a soft chuckle.

 

“That’s my line.” Dazai smiled, trying to play it cool. But as he looked at Chuuya, he knew just how much he meant it. 

 

“Whatever.” Chuuya lit another cigarette, slowly brushing his hand against Dazai’s. Dazai wanted to turn it away, but he craved Chuuya’s touch so much. He could feel him shaking; Dazai could see that he was already withdrawing. Chuuya looked exhausted, like he wanted to sleep, but could not.

 

“You wanna know what I want to be?” Chuuya said, bringing the cigarette to his lips.

 

“A star? So cliche.” Dazai joked, but he knew that Chuuya meant it.

 

“Yeah… When I die, I want to be a star or particle in the ocean or something… I just want to feel like I belong, you know?” Dazai looked down as if he was ashamed in a way. 

 

“And why can’t you be that now?” Dazai pressed his hand against Chuuya’s, slightly gripping it. 

 

“Because I don’t think there’s anything for me here anymore.” Chuuya smashed his cigarette into the ashtray, walking back into the apartment. Dazai stood there for a moment, stunned by what Chuuya said. There was more to life for him— he just didn’t know it yet. Dazai walked back in with him, hearing the music blast from his speaker. He began to look in his refrigerator. Dazai recollected the evidence he searched regarding cocaine withdrawal— he was hungry.

 

“Hungry?” 

 

“Yeah, I’m starving.” 

 

“I’ll order some food,” Dazai said, wrapping his arms around Chuuya’s waist, kissing his cheek.

 

“Since when are you so fucking nice?” Chuuya didn’t squirm from Dazai’s touch anymore, just letting him touch him. 

 

“Ugh! Why can’t I do anything nice for my boyfriend.” Chuuya’s face twisted when he heard him say that word ‘boyfriend.’ It wasn’t because he didn’t want to be, but it was because it had a deep-rooted connection to the pain of their past. He just wanted to act like they were in a relationship, but he didn’t want the title of it anymore, afraid of Dazai leaving him again.

 

“We’re not together, Osamu.” Chuuya quietly said, closing the refrigerator door and breaking out of Dazai’s hold. Dazai frowned, trying to understand why not. His childish thinking got the best of him.

 

“And why’s that?” He asked dryly, trying not to get angry. Chuuya slammed the bottle on the counter, running his fingers through his hair. 

 

“Because what we have isn’t a relationship anymore.” Chuuya was already frustrated, his anger growing more and more intense as he continued on with the conversation.

 

“Then what is it, then? Sex? Cause we haven’t fucked in weeks because your dick can’t seem to get hard.” Dazai knew that that was one of the side effects. He knew he shouldn’t have brought it up, watching as Chuuya became even more irritated.

 

“I’ve fucking told you; you can fuck me instead.” Dazai cringed at the suggestion.

 

“I don’t want to fuck someone who doesn’t enjoy it.” 

 

“And who the hell said I wouldn’t?”

 

“I don’t know, maybe your dick.” Chuuya rolled his eyes and scoffed. 

 

“What’s our relationship, then? Because it sure isn’t just sex.” Chuuya bit his lip, letting his teeth sink deep until he tasted blood. Chuuya didn’t want to talk about it. He just wanted it all to stop and go away.

 

“I don’t know.” Chuuya shrugged, taking the bottle into his hand again and drinking another big gulp. “And why are you worried about my dick anyway?” 

 

“Maybe it’s because I’m concerned. No twenty-two-year-old that I know has erectile dysfunction.” Dazai partly meant it as a joke, but he partly intended it. Though, seeing Chuuya’s reaction, he knew he took it seriously.

 

“Fuck you, Dazai. Since when the fuck have you ever been concerned for me?” Chuuya looked like he was about to pass out from exhaustion, but Dazai didn’t say anything. He walked up to him, reaching his hand out to his face, but Chuuya just slapped it away, waiting for his response.

 

“I’ve always been concerned for you.” As soon as he said this, Chuuya began to laugh, thinking that what Dazai said was some sort of joke.

 

“Really? Always? Then tell me this; why’d you fucking leave if you were so concerned about me? Huh? Why? Because you knew I fucking needed you! You fucking knew how much I needed you with me! My fucking Dad died , Dazai! He fucking died!” Chuuya yelled, throwing the bottle across the room, hearing the glass shatter on the floor. 

 

“My Dad died too,” Dazai said quietly. Chuuya frowned, shaking his head at Dazai. Chuuya knew exactly who Dazai was referring to.

 

“Oda wasn’t your fucking Dad.” Dazai glared at Chuuya, looking at him like he was some monster that he didn’t know.

 

“He was more of a father than my real one,” Dazai explained, even though he didn’t understand why he did if Chuuya was fully aware of it.

 

“That still doesn’t explain why you left.” Dazai tried to compose himself, looking at Chuuya, watching his eyes grow wide with anger and frustration. He couldn’t help but want to destroy every piece of him. 

 

“Do you really wanna know?”

 

“Yeah, I fucking do.” Dazai took one last look at him. His face was the same one he had known long ago, but it wasn’t the same; there was pain and suffering behind it, like there was an empty void that Dazai had never noticed before. It was the same, but it was different at the same time. 

 

“I left because I couldn’t handle it. Not because I thought it would be best. I knew it wasn’t for the best. I couldn’t handle you. I couldn’t handle Oda’s death. I couldn’t handle anything….” Dazai’s vision became blurry, not realizing that the tears formed in his eyes. He could barely make out Chuuya’s face, but he knew he was angry, not believing him despite the tears in his eyes.

 

“Fuck you. Fuck you.” Chuuya’s voice croaked, feeling the hot wet tears stream down his cheeks, feeling them burn through his skin. 

 

“You have no fucking idea what I been through since you left. You don’t know the shit I’ve done, the shit I know about myself… I needed you. I fucking needed you, Osamu.” Chuuya stumbled over to Dazai, burying his face into his chest. Chanting the exact words over and over again.

 

“I needed you… I needed you.” Dazai began to feel immense guilt; he knew precisely what Chuuya had done, knew absolutely what he’s been through— or so he thought.

 

“You have no idea about the shit I’ve done.” Chuuya’s voice was muffled. Dazai hugged him tightly, embracing him for one last time before he said what he knew he’d regret.

 

“I know…” 

 

“No, you don’t, Dazai. You don’t.” Dazai slightly flinched, feeling Chuuya’s fingers dig through his shirt.

 

“No, Chuuya, I do. I know. I know about the drugs. I know about everything.” Chuuya’s head bolted up, looking into his eyes to see the truth behind them. He pushed him away, almost making him fall to the floor.

 

“You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, Dazai!” Chuuya yelled at him, jamming his finger into Dazai’s chest.

 

“Chuuya—”

 

“No! No, you don’t know shit, you don’t fucking know!” 

 

“I do.”

 

“How the fuck did you find out, huh? Were you looking through my shit? Huh?!” Chuuya began to hyperventilate, running his fingers through his hair. The voices grew louder in his head, telling him that they told him so.

 

“Remember that time at the casino, where I stood in front of your car waiting for you?” Chuuya fixated his eyes on Dazai’s face, trying to catch a lie, but he didn’t.

 

“I saw you go into a room with Fyodor—”

 

“Fyodor fucking told you?! And how the fuck do you know Fyodor? How?!” Dazai bit his lips, knowing what was going to come next.

 

“I met him right after I left you… I used to buy drugs from him, but it wasn’t like—”

 

“Oh, you fucking hypocrite. You’re a fucking hypocrite!”

 

“It wasn’t like that, Chuuya. I bought drugs from him so I could—”

 

“That you could, what? Die? God, you are so fucking pathetic, you know that. You act like I’m doing this for shits and giggles!... Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you and I aren’t so different, Dazai. You just want to be relieved of a guilty conscience. You want to die because you’re the reason Oda died. Because he couldn’t stand to see you drink yourself to death. You keep forgetting that I fucking know you, Dazai. Inside and out.” Dazai grabbed Chuuya by his shoulders, slamming him against the wall.

 

“Oh, did I finally get you angry? Was that all it took? For me to mention that you’re the reason Oda killed himself?” Dazai gripped his shoulders tightly. He knew it was Chuuya’s real self talking— the angry person that wanted to hurt him back just like he broke him. It worked. Dazai let his hands fall to his side.

 

“You have no fucking right to be the sad one! No right! You left me! You fucking left me, and you have the fucking audacity to look fucking sad?!” Chuuya threw weak punches at his chest, throwing a fit like he was a child.

 

“I fucking needed you, Dazai! And you fucking left me because you couldn’t handle the guilt! What about me? Huh? My Dad fucking died, and I had to deal with everything on my own. I had to deal with Mori’s constant abuse, Kouyou’s by-standing, I had to deal with all the shit my Dad left me, which you fucking knew about! You knew about the fucking letter and the CD. You knew!” Tears rolled down Chuuya’s face as he saw the immense guilt Dazai had written all over his face.

 

“Don’t look at me like that! Don’t!” 

 

“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” It was a stupid thing for Dazai to say, he knew it, but nothing he could have said would make Chuuya feel better.

 

“But you did!” Dazai’s eyes became foggy again, glossed by the tears in his eyes. Chuuya looked up, seeing the brightness in them. He looked so painfully beautiful, even when he cried. Chuuya had not seen Dazai cry in the years that he had known him, but he could feel the genuine pain inside him. Chuuya hated it.

 

“Fuck you.” Chuuya had nothing else to say, feeling both tired and empty.

 

“I wished I never fucking met you.”

 

“You don’t mean that.” Dazai knew that Chuuya didn’t mean it; it didn’t matter how angry he was at him. He understood that Chuuya loved him despite everything. 

 

“Fuck off.” Chuuya pushed away, softly letting out a whimper.

 

“You have no idea who I am, Dazai. I don’t care if you find me predictable; I don’t care if you’ve known me since we were young. You still don’t know who the fuck I am!” Dazai wanted to reach out to him, but he just redacted his arms back, knowing that he couldn’t touch him anymore. 

 

“Do you wanna know what was in that fucking letter and CD? I know you’ve been dying to know what it was about when my Dad first told you. Do you wanna know?” Dazai stayed silent, watching Chuuya pace the room, his tired limps dragging across the floor.

 

“It was about me, of course. How my mother fucking left me and why she fucking left me, and honestly, I don’t fucking blame her. I would too if I knew who the fuck I was… You wanna know how I was conceived? How I was brought into this shit world?” Dazai didn’t want to hear the rest, but his curiosity got the best of him, so he stayed silent.

 

“She was raped! That’s why she fucking left Yokohama and fleed to Paris. She couldn’t take any more of it. She wanted to get an abortion; God, I wished she had because I’m fucking miserable!” Dazai wanted to throw up, watching as Chuuya trembled with both anger and withdrawal.

 

“When’d you find out?” Dazai murmured quietly. He needed a drink.

 

“I found out a year after you left… Add that to your lists of things you should be fucking guilty about.” There was finally silence now, only hearing the shuffling of Chuuya’s feet on the floor. 

 

“Chuuya.” Dazai walked over to him, trying to hold him again, but Chuuya pushed him away before he could get a chance to touch him.

 

“Don’t! Just… fucking don’t.” Dazai wanted to utter the words that he was sorry, but every time he tried to, it felt like he was choking on his own words. 

 

“Just go. I don’t know why you insist on fucking staying here anyway.”

 

“I’m not going.” Chuuya sighed in frustration. 

 

“Why? Are you worried that I’m gonna fucking use again? Cause I can’t, Fyodor’s out of town.” 

 

“I know…” Chuuya stopped pacing for a moment, looking up at Dazai.

 

“What?” Chuuya had always thought that he was empty, but as soon as he heard Dazai say that he knew, everything around him felt like it was falling apart.

 

“I know. Fyodor told me… You know, I was actually the one that told him to stop selling to you, but, of course, he wasn’t going to do that, so he told me that he’ll give you less than what you usually get, with a discount, of course.” Dazai could take the pain for both of them. It didn’t matter. Chuuya could knock him down however much he wanted to, and Dazai wouldn’t think twice about it. 

 

“You… You… Fuck you!” Chuuya lunged at him, but his body was too weak to even hurt him.

 

“Oh, shut the fuck up,” Dazai said, catching Chuuya in his arms. He felt so limp and frail. It made Dazai want to hold him even tighter and never let him go. He just wanted to stay like that, feeling his weak punches on his chest. Chuuya pushed off of him, sobbing even harder.

 

“You fucking ruined me! You ruined everything! Go! Just fucking go! It’s what your fucking good at anyway!” Chuuya wiped his eyes, but it didn’t help him from stopping the tears from overflowing. 

 

“I’m not going anywhere.” Dazai knew he could be stubborn, but Chuuya was right; he had a guilty conscience. He couldn’t leave him, not now. 

 

“God, you are so fucking relentless! Fine! If you won’t go, then I will.” Chuuya sluggishly walked over to the door, putting on his jacket, hat, and shoes. He slammed the door behind him. Dazai wanted to chase after him, but he couldn’t. His feet were planted on the floor, unable to move anything. He huffed, feeling his heart breaking into tiny pieces. The hot tears rolled down his face. He was startled by them, brushing his fingers against them, his hands shaking in fear. ‘ I’m a fucking coward.’ 

 

Chuuya pulled out a cigarette, lighting it feeling the warmth of the fire on his face. He sighed, letting the cloud of smoke evaporate into the air. He looked up at the sky, watching the stars glow brighter. He wanted to break down, wishing that he was actually dead. He wished that he didn’t have to deal with anything, wanting to evaporate like the smoke. He wanted drugs so much he craved for it more as he watched the stars twinkle. The image of Dazai shifted into his mind, imagining the stars reflecting back into his eyes. He wanted to turn around and go to him, but it was already too late. It was already too late for the both of them.

 

Chuuya began to walk, letting his feet glide on the cement. He needed drugs. At this point, he didn’t care where he got it from. If he died, then he died. It didn’t matter to him anymore. He walked over to the dog races. He knew he shouldn’t buy from Fukuchi, but it didn’t matter. He was going to die anyway.

 

He walked in front of the stadium, hesitating for a moment. Then his phone rang. He hoped it would have been Dazai, but as he looked at his phone screen, Tachihara’s name popped up. 

 

Hey, I know you’re probably busy, but I was wondering if you wanted to hang out with me and the rest of the others. I was finally able to convince Akutagawa to tag along, and I sort of knew you would get pissed if I didn’t invite you to see Akutagawa in his unnatural habitat.’ Chuuya sighed, biting his lip. He didn’t want to go home, and there was nowhere else for him to be, so he agreed.


Sure. Just send me the address of where you guys are at, and I’ll be there ASAP.’ Chuuya put his phone in the back of his pocket, walking into the stadium in search of what he had been craving— a reason to feel alive.

Chapter Text

Chuuya fluttered his eyes open, the bright morning sun burning into his eyes. He turned away from the sun, but it still burned his back. It felt nice, though, the stinging sensating burning into his back, slightly making him wake up.

 

He was hungover from the night before, feeling his brain pounding against his skull. He wanted to throw up, but judging the way he smelled, he already did. “Ugh.” He moaned, lifting his limp body from the bed. He looked at his phone to see the time. He had woken up early, which he was surprised about, but he needed to go back to work. 

 

It had been a year since Dazai left. Chuuya wanted to convince himself that he was better and okay, but he would often think about him, wondering how he was doing and if he was alright. He hated that he still cared about him. But there was one thing that he would for sure that he would not admit— that Dazai was glad that he was gone. Ever since he left, it felt like Mori kept a tight leash around everyones’ neck, including Chuuya’s.

 

He got up to take a shower, feeling the warm water caress his skin, burning every inch of his body. It reminded him of Dazai’s touch, the liveliness they held despite the emptiness he claimed that he had. Chuuya could never see that within Dazai; no matter how much Dazai tried to convince him otherwise, he couldn’t. He was warm and full of meaning to his life. Chuuya caressed his skin, pretending that it was Dazai, but it was not the same compared to his. He turned off the shower, drying himself off, and got dressed. He put on a dress shirt with slacks and his heeled boots. He tightened the leather choker around his neck, touching the smoothness of it. He then put on the necklace containing the ring Dazai gave him before he left. He didn’t know why he still insisted on wearing it after all that time he had been gone, but it was routine for him now, just like the choker— it was a part of him. He tucked the necklace under his shirt, putting on the hat his father left him when he died. It had his father’s name written at the bottom. He smiled sadly at it, placing it on his head. He looked into the mirror, smiling to himself. He looked disgusted and unnatural in his eyes, no matter how many people told him differently. 

 

He walked into the kitchen, taking out a bottle of hard liquor taking a few large sips to prepare him for work. It was routine for him to drink before work— or to drink every day rather. He felt a bit tipsy, but not enough for him to not drive, but just enough to feel like he could get through rehearsal.

 

He got into his car, sighing, taking a moment in silence to prepare for his day. He started his car and began driving. He dissociated the whole ride there, unaware of how he got there. He blinked, confused about how he was already in the parking lot, but he just shook his head, taking the thought out of his head. Chuuya sat there, taking another brief moment to himself before heading inside.

 

“You’re good… You’re okay.” He said to himself, trying to convince himself that he could be okay. But he knew he wasn’t going to be okay.

 

He walked into the concert hall, seeing Ango, hearing his greeting. “Good morning, Chuuya.” 

 

“Eat shit.” Chuuya spat, walking over to the auditorium. He saw Mori and Kouyou taking their seats as he walked in. They smiled at him, which he smiled in return, trying to put his best fake smile on. Chuuya saw Tachihara wave at him, along with Higuchi and Gin, while Akutagawa gave him an acknowledging nod. He stood in front of the music stand, reading the music sheets before beginning.

 

“Okay, places,” Chuuya ordered, watching everyone scurrying to their seats.

 

“Okay, we’ll start off from the beginning. Ready?” Chuuya knew that he wasn’t cut out to be a conductor, according to Mori. His job was to compose while Dazai conducted the music, taking charge as he stood on the sidelines, but he was the only option.

 

They all nodded, preparing themselves, getting ready for Chuuya’s swing of the baton. He brought the wand down, hearing the music liven the room. Despite him not being a leader, he knew how to make music, impressing everyone with the symphonies and melodies that he had created. It was like everything disappeared before his own eyes; all the worries, all the hate, and anger, it was all gone. 

 

“Okay, that’s all for today. Have a good night, and I’ll see you all in a couple of days.” Chuuya said, waving goodbye to everyone that walked out the door. He felt drained and tired; he just wanted to go home, drink, and listen to music.

 

“Good work, Chuuya. But I must add, you are a little too lenient with them. Maybe you should be a bit more forceful when it comes to getting your message across, you know? Like Dazai.” Chuuya clenched his jaw, glaring at Mori. 

 

“Oh, don’t get angry. I was merely suggesting.” It wasn’t a suggestion, neither was it constructive criticism. Chuuya knew Mori wanted to get under his skin so he could do as he was told. Chuuya wasn’t stupid; he knew what the hell Mori wanted out of him.

 

“And please have another song next time. I’m not a big fan of the one you gave the other day.” Mori said as he walked away, Kouyou following after him. Chuuya sighed, through the music sheets on the floor, angrily. He wanted to cry. He stood there, looking down at the paper, imagining tearing them to shreds, but he refrained, picking them back up and placing them on the stand again. 

 

He leaned on the wall outside the concert hall, smoking. He looked up to the sky, watching the blue faded into an indigo color. The night air felt cool on his skin, making his head even more lightheaded from the tobacco. 

 

“That’s already your sixth cigarette, lad.” Kouyou’s voice appeared, making Chuuya turn in alertness.

 

“Want one?” Chuuya offered, holding the pack to her. She shook her head, holding her hand in rejection.

 

“I only came to see how you were doing.” She stood beside him, looking out into the city.

 

“I’m fine.” He said. She only hummed, staying silent. It made Chuuya feel slightly uncomfortable, but he didn’t feel like talking either.

 

“Well, that’s all. I’ll see you soon.” Chuuya nodded his head, watching her leave. He knew that she wanted to talk to him more, but there weren’t many things they could talk about, only the concert hall and the orchestra. He wanted to tell her that he was tired and drained, but he already knew what her response would be. He went back to looking at the sky, watching the stars beginning to form, sparkling bright. He had the sudden thought of wanting to become one. To shine bright for all to see forever, to have some sort of meaning to his life. He wanted to be the light to the darkness again. 

 

He walked into his apartment, throwing himself on the couch. He closed his eyes, trying to get a few minutes of sleep before he had to start writing the next song for Mori. But he couldn’t; his mind began to overthink. He shot his eyes open, walking to the kitchen to get his bottle of wine, heading to the music room. He sat on the piano bench, taking out empty sheets of music paper. He hit his pencil on the paper, thinking of the notes in his head. He hummed, grasping an idea of how he wanted it to sound. He touched the piano keys, making the music come to life, hearing the beautiful symphony echo through the room. 

 

He went at it for hours before his brain began to dull. He felt his attention shift into something else, thinking of Dazai and what he would do when it came to writing and leading. He grabbed his bottle, taking the last gulp before finishing it. He felt slightly drunk, wanting to sleep, finally. He rested his head on the piano keys, hearing the awful sound of random keys being pressed, but that did not stop him from drifting asleep.

 

He dreamt of his father and the last words he said to him, telling him to live his life to the fullest. He tried to reach out to him before he drifted into the dark. He screamed to him, reaching out to him, but he was gone right before his eyes. He then saw Dazai looking down at him with his usual childish smile, caressing his wet cheek. He tried to reach for him too, trying to hold him, but he just evaporated into thin air, disappearing along with his father. He was alone in the dark, feeling cold and alone. 

 

He finally woke up, his heart beating rapidly from the dream he had. He was breathing heavily, wiping the sweat off his head. He felt dizzy, his head filling with fog. He felt like he couldn’t think straight, rubbing his eyes, trying to get himself to focus so he could finish. 

 

Chuuya looked at the time on his phone, watching the time fly past him. He couldn’t think of one any more music; it was like his mind stopped working. “Fuck!” He yelled, through the papers on the floor, burying his hands in his face. He got up from the piano bench, heading to his room to lay in bed. ‘ If I could get a few minutes of sleep, maybe I could finally fucking think.’ He told himself, but all he did was toss and turn. He sighed in frustration, throwing a pillow into his face, trying to stop thinking for a moment. He was so tired, but he couldn’t sleep, not while he knew that he had people depending on him to finish his job. 

 

He looked over into his closet, seeing the box of things his father left for him after he died. He never opened it to see what it was. The nurse had packed it for him, giving it to him after the funeral. He got so drunk that night that he didn’t even remember taking it out of his car and bringing it with him, but there it was. Every time he looked in his closet, it was like a voice calling out to him, telling him to look inside. But he always refrained from doing so. He didn’t even remember the moving crew bringing it up when he moved into his apartment, but there it was again. It haunted him just looking at him. Anxiety always filled him with the uncertainty of what was in it. He always wondered what his father wanted him to see. He took a deep breath before jolting up and walking over to the closet. He picked up the box, bringing it out into the living room, seeing it beside the couch where he sat. He took a moment, just staring at it. 

 

“Fuck it.” He said, opening the box. It was filled with papers and photo books, along with some of his father’s favorite books and poems. He opened one of the photo books, skimming through them. It was mostly of his father dancing. Chuuya had never seen him dance, but when he looked at photos of him, he looked like he was happy, seeing a smile on his face that he had never really quite seen before. Chuuya brushed his fingers on the smile, wondering if he had ever seen his father smile like that before. 

 

He skipped through pages of his father until he saw him and another man, holding each other in a warm embrace. The unknown man had light hair, wearing it in a braid, and a hat matching his father’s. Chuuya skimmed through more pages, seeing him and the man that his father once told him about, smiling with one another. They looked so happy and carefree, but Chuuya couldn’t help but feel some sort of hatred for him for hurting his father. If he didn’t hurt him, maybe his father could have been happier. Chuuya couldn’t help but think of Dazai and how they once looked like that until he left. Chuuya felt like he was about to choke from the building of repression of his emotions. 

 

He grabbed another photo book, opening it to see pictures from when he was a baby. The first one was when he was in an incubator, strings attached to him as if he was some sort of experiment. He looked so weak and frail like he was in the bring of death. The following few photos were of him sleeping in his crib, of him smiling, of him laughing. He looked happy, unaware of the misery he would have to deal with later in life. He moved on, seeing pictures from his first birthday to him walking and crawling. He then stopped at a photo of him and his father together. He was holding him tightly as he smiled brightly. He began to wish that he could go back, wishing that there was a way for him to be that happy again.  

 

He closed the book, putting them aside. He took out the next thing in the box, an envelope from his father to him. He opened it, unfolding the piece of paper. It was recounting the memories he had; how he found his passion for ballet, his father, to the AIDS epidemic in France, to when he met Paul— the unknown man in the photos— to how Paul had hurt him, sending him into a spiral, eventually leading to his injury. It then told of how he found him and how his mother left a letter and CD to him, and how Dazai knew about them all along. Chuuya’s lips began to quiver from anger, knowing that Dazai knew everything and still dared to leave him. He wanted to tear the letter into spreads from seeing Dazai’s name, but as he read the sentence over and over again, he knew his father was right. It then led to his mother talking about her and her reasonings. Chuuya never really wanted to talk about her, but he had an idea. He knew his father told him that it was okay to be angry at her, but he at least had to hear her out, although he didn’t want to. But for his father, he would. He got to the last sentence, watching as his tears dripped onto the paper. He wiped his cheeks, trying to focus on finishing the letter. He hoped that his father was somewhere in heaven, although he never believed in the concept. Still, Chuuya hoped, thinking about how he was now dancing without a care in the world. 

 

He set the letter aside, bracing himself for the worst. He got out the letter and CD. The letter looked old and yellow with age, while the CD looked neat inside a plastic case. He was unsure where to start; neither was a good option. He sighed, putting the CD down. He was not prepared to hear his mother’s voice, so he supposed that he’d start off with a letter. He took the note out of the envelope, undoing the folds to read it. It was written in broken French, but it was still manageable to read. Some words were in Japanese, while most of it was in French. Chuuya finally pieced the puzzle as to why his father taught himself and him Japanese at such a young age; so he could read this letter and probably the CD. After examining it, Chuuya finally began to read it.

 

My dearest Chuuya,

 

I know that you probably do not want to hear from me. I understand that, so I will keep my name hidden from you for the sake of that. Right now, you are kicking me. I think that you can probably sense my regret. My heart is beating so fast that I can barely think of the words I want to write down. To be completely honest, I am not sure why I am writing this letter to you. You probably won’t get it, but if you do, then I can at least be a bit relieved. 

 

I just want to let you know that I do not hate you. I actually love you so much. I guess that means nothing to you. I know you may feel abandoned and left out, but I assure you that I have a good reason, though it may not be the right or smartest choice. I want to picture how you would look, but I am afraid to do so. I don’t want you to look like a man that has tormented my mind and body since the day you were conceived. But for the sake of it, I hope that you have my red hair, my blue eyes, my vibrant personality. And if you don’t, then that’s okay too. No matter what, I know you will be a better man than that man. 

 

I have to admit that I hate when you squirm inside of me, kick me, and hurt me. It’s just a constant reminder… But I do tell myself that it is not your fault. It’s not. You are not to blame. You are just an innocent soul that got caught in the crossfire. 

 

When I came to Paris, I fled from Japan, specifically Yokohama. It was a wonderful place. It was lively and a fantastic place, but I had to leave. If you ever decide to go there, I definitely recommend it. But enough of that, I feed because I was scared. I have a cousin who lives in Paris, and I came to live with her. I didn’t find out I was pregnant with you until two weeks later. I was so depressed. I couldn’t eat or sleep due to my night terrors. I refused to go outside, but my cousin, whose name I will also keep secret, made an appointment to go to this doctor who helped undocumented people get abortions, but I couldn’t. I went to the appointment, and I saw all the people there, they were all sick and sad and I just couldn’t. I ended up crying and running away out of the office. Without even realizing it, I decided to carry you to term. I now go to that same doctor to help me with the pregnancy. It is a dark underground place, but it was the best I could do. I do not want to keep you. It is not because I do not love you, I really do, but because I am afraid I will hate you. I know you don’t deserve that. You deserved to be loved, but I don’t think I should be the one to love you. I know I will hate everything about you if I keep you. It wouldn’t matter if you looked like me or not. I would still hate you. I know it may sound contradictory, but it would be best for both of us. 

 

I know that you will be the best in life. You will shine brighter than any star. You will matter in this world. I just know it. I know that I will probably not live long after giving you up. I will probably die from guilt or a broken heart, or maybe both. 

 

I know you are probably wondering who your father is. But I assure you he is no one. He should not concern any of your thoughts. But I suppose you will always wonder, and it’ll consume your mind and soul. It shouldn’t, I assure you. But if you are anything like me, then I guess it would only be fair for you to know from me and from someone who hardly knows you. I don’t want you to go out finding out who you are. I don’t want you to hate yourself, but you have a right to know who you are… I must admit, I am deflecting a bit. And it doesn’t make you who you are. I do not understand why I said that. But I suppose what makes up your DNA and your family linage, I should have said… I was raped. That’s how you came to be… I know that you were expecting something real, but it wasn’t. I wished you were made out of love because that is what you deserve, but you weren’t, and I am sorry for that. You don’t deserve any of that. 

 

I still cry and have night terrors to this day over it. Every time I wake up, I can feel you kicking me, trying to see if I am okay. It makes me cry even more. I guess that’s how I know that you will be a better man when you grow up.  I think I should stop rambling on. I know it probably isn’t making you feel any better. It isn’t making me feel better either. I’m sorry.

 

When I leave you, I will also leave you a CD, along with this letter. I hope you can keep them wherever you go. If you want to hear it, it has my voice on it, but I understand if you don’t. It is just a simple recording of my voice and a song that I love to hear on the radio. I have a feeling that you will love music just as much as I do. I used to be a pianist when I was younger, but I stopped that because I grew bored, but music had always been a passion of mine, and I know it will be yours too. You keep kicking and dancing every time I play a song on the radio. It kind of makes me smile and laugh when you do it, but I then get a sense of regret and shame whenever I do. I feel like I am not happy because of the situation. I want you as my son, but I am scared to hate you because you do not deserve that. 

 

I know I should ask for anything from you, but I have one request… Please do not let this take a toll on your life. You should be free and happy. You should be loved. I want you to fall in love with life. Fall in love with anyone you please. Fall in love with the little things or the big things. Love as hard as you can, Chuuya. Please. 

 

Chuuya began to tremble, afraid to touch his own skin. He wanted to wipe away his tears, but he was scared to touch the dirt that was his own skin. He didn’t want it to be true, but if his father gave it to him and told Dazai about it, then it must’ve been. He threw the paper on the ground like it was diseased, disgusted by it. ‘ I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t have been born.’ He told himself, letting the tears drench his face, refusing to dry it. He didn’t understand why he picked up the CD, feeling like he wanted to be pushed over the edge. He wanted to fall deep, like he was letting himself spiral out of control, letting go of whatever control he had left in him. Before he could stop himself, he placed the CD into his CD player, allowing it to play through the living room. 

 

Hi, Chuuya.” Her voice was sweet and young. Chuuya didn’t want to imagine how old she was or how she looked, but her predictions seemed correct in the letter. The red hair, the blue eyes. He looked like her. 

 

I know you probably read the letter, and if you haven’t, then okay. I just wanted to play you a song. You’re kicking me right now because you’re probably excited.” She nervously let out a laugh. Even through the stereo, Chuuya knew that she didn’t like it, that it made her feel gross and uncomfortable. It made him feel the same way. 

 

“So without further ado. Here’s a song for you.” She stopped talking, letting the acoustic guitar fill the room, strumming softly. Chuuya has heard the song before, but he didn’t know its name. He could hear her sing in the background in English. Her voice was shaking like she was crying. Chuuya could picture her cradling her belly, softly crying as she sang. 

 

Chuuya ran to the nearest trash bin, throwing up the acidic contents in his stomach as the song continued on, slowly fading away.

“I love you, Chuuya….” With that, the CD stopped playing. Chuuya remained on the floor, shaking with tears in his eyes. He couldn’t move, but he couldn’t stay still; he needed to leave. He couldn’t stay there. He grabbed his coat, along with his cigarettes, lighter, phone, and keys. He didn’t even bother brushing his teeth. He just popped a mint into his mouth, letting it dissolve while letting the tobacco from his burning cigarette take away the taste from his mouth along with it. 

 

Chuuya was already drunk, kissing some random man in the back of a bar. The guy’s hand rode up to his shirt, but he smacked it away, he didn’t feel like being embraced.

 

“Hey!” The guy yelled. 

 

“Fuck you, man! I told you I didn’t feel like being touched there.” Chuuya slurred, pushing the guy away from him.

 

“Fucking bitch.” The guy said quietly, walking away.

 

“Yeah, walk away, you fucking pussy!” Chuuya flipped him off, wiping away the man’s saliva off his lips. “Ugh.” He groaned in disgust. He stood there for a moment, looking around at the people laughing, dancing, and having fun. He felt even more alone than ever. 

 

“I need to piss.” He announced to himself, stumbling to the bathroom. He went on, watching a man snort lines of white powder. Chuuya turned back, trying to see if he had gone into the right place.

 

“Ah, sorry.” The man said. He looked like a Western man with blonde hair. 

 

“Nah, you’re good.” Chuuya didn’t feel like peeing any more. He just watched as the man snorted more lines. 

 

“Would you like some?” The man offered. Chuuya didn’t say anything; he just walked up to him, looking at the powder.

 

“What is it?” He asked.

 

“It’s pure cocaine.” The blonde man picked a scoop of it with a key, offering it to him.

 

“Doesn’t that shit come with a price?” 

 

“You’re Nakahara Chuuya, right?” The man smiled at him.

 

“Yeah, what of it?”

 

“My, you are full of questions. Ha! Well, I am quite a fan of your work… Consider this a gift from a fan.” The man handed him the key with a scoop of cocaine. Chuuya stared at it for a moment, quietly contemplating. ‘ Fuck it’ He snorted it, feeling a rush fly into his brain, feeling like he was no longer drunk, but like he was alive.

 

“Wow. Not your first time, I presume?” Chuuya heard the man say as he wiped his nose from any excess powder under it.

 

“Uh, not really. I did Oxys a few times.” Chuuya was amazed at how it made him feel. 

 

“Ah, yes. I honestly hate the way it makes me feel, but my wife loves it, along with Valium.” The man huffed out a loud laugh, startling Chuuya.

 

“Do all rich people do drugs?” Chuuya asked. He had the sudden urge to smile again.

 

“Oh, yeah. Tons, actually!” They both laughed hysterically. Chuuya couldn’t remember the last time he laughed like that, feeling like he was on top of the world, forgetting about everything that had happened hours before. 

 

“Would you like more?” Chuuya hesitated.

 

“Um… sure, fuck it.” They both laughed again, Chuuya taking another scoop of the coke. 

 

“Wow, that is actually good shit!” The man nodded in agreement.

 

“Would you like to meet my dealer? He’s a great dealer! Gives the best of the best to only the best!” Chuuya didn’t know why he found his words so funny, but it made him laugh, and if this is what he had to do to make him feel happy, he would gladly do it as long as he could.

 

“Yeah, sure!” The man put away his vials in his pocket, leading Chuuya out of the bathroom.

 

Chuuya went back to his apartment, feeling the happiness fill his body. He walked over to the music room, not bothering to take his coat or hat off of his head. He sat on the piano bench, continuing the song he had been working on earlier, letting the noted drift from his mind come to life.

 

Chuuya brought down his baton, hearing the music stop. He stood there for a moment, smiling down at the musicians, hearing an echo of two hands clapping.

 

“Well done, Chuuya!” Mori praised, walking over to him as the rest of the orchestra packed away their instruments and headed out for the day.

 

“I don’t know what has gotten into you, but whatever it is, keep it up,” Kouyou said, smiling at him. He smiled back, bowing his head to them.

 

“Thank you.” He said. He smiled brightly, finally feeling the natural feeling of his face stretching into a smile. He was happy. For the first time in what felt like forever, he was finally satisfied. His heart felt like it was about to burst, tasting the sweetness of happiness like he once felt before. 

 

‘Finally.’

Chapter Text

Chuuya locked himself in the single bathroom, looking in the mirror under the red light. He looked tired, sad, like everything he once lived for was already drained out of him. He had walked into the bar a few minutes ago, greeting Tachihara and the rest with the fakest smile he could muster up, but they could quickly tell; he wasn’t as crafty as Dazai. 

 

“Are you okay?” Gin asked as the rest of the group stared at him with concern. Chuuya tried not to act hostile, slough he was annoyed.

 

“Yes.” He said, annoyed, but it seemed to work well; they backed off from asking him any further questions.

 

“I’m just gonna use the restroom, really quick,” Chuuya said, walking away from them.

 

“Do you want us to order you a drink?” Higuchi asked.

 

“Uh, yeah, sure.” He was nervous, afraid, almost. He had never gotten like this when he was about to use, but for some reason, he was. He supposed that it was because he had been without it for quite some time. He never went more than four hours without it— it was well over four hours by then. 

 

He watched at his eyebags made his eyes droop like he was about to pass out any moment now. He took out the vial from his pocket, holding it up into the light. It wasn’t much, but it would last him enough time until Fyodor came back. He undid the lid, sniffing a scoop. It burned his nostrils, Chuuya slightly groaned, trying to readjust himself. He knew it was intense from what he had heard, but he didn’t realize that it was that strong. He took another scoop and put the vial back into his pocket. He began to feel weird like he was actually going to pass out. He started to panic even more because this had never happened. He had never felt so heavy before like he was about to die. He didn’t like it. But he had to pretend like everything was okay.

 

He walked out of the bathroom, stumbling to the group. “Chuuya?” Akutagawa asked. Chuuya could see that he was beginning to become concerned. He wondered if he actually looked that bad.

 

“What?” He slurred, slumping down onto the booth, using Akutagawa as a crutch for him to sit up, but he was too weak. His body was losing all mobility. He became tired all of a sudden, wanting to close his eyes. His heart was becoming increasingly slow, his body growing cold and limp that he couldn’t even feel himself falling over Akutawgawa. His vision became distorted along with his hearing, hearing the muffled voices of his friends trying to talk to him. ‘ Oh no,’ He told himself before everything went black. 

 

“Chuuya? Hey, Chuuya!” Tachihara got up, smacking his face lightly on his face. 

 

“Huh…” Chuuya moaned, his eyes shut close.

 

“He’s getting cold,” Tachihara said, pulling out his phone to call an ambulance.

 

“Oh, shit,” Higuchi said, rushing over to Chuuya. Akutagawa flung his jacket over him to warm his body. They all began to panic, telling someone to call the ambulance. They had known Chuuya was stressed, but they had never seen him like that before. He didn’t look the same from when he walked in; he looked deathly pale and cold.

 

“Chuuya! Chuuya! Wake up, dammit!” Gin yelled at him. Everyone in the bar was staring at them, crowding over them, trying to help them. 

 

“I think he’s overdosing!” A man shouted. They all looked at him in disbelief, but they knew there was a possibility.

 

“Check his pockets. See what he took.” They had no time to question. Gin reached out into his pockets, finding the vial filled with white powder.

 

“Oh, fuck!” Tachihara began to panic, even more, having tears in his eyes. Gin rushed over to him, taking the phone out of his hand.

 

“Hi, yeah, I-I think my friend is overdosing. I don’t know what he took, but he’s cold and losing consciousness.” Gin’s voice trembled, trying hard to control her breathing. Akutagawa held him, trying to keep him warm.

 

“He’s unresponsive. Ryuu, check his pulse.” Gin ordered. Akutagawa pressed his fingers on his cold him, feeling the faint heartbeat.

 

“It’s too faint.” 

 

“Tell them to hurry the fuck up, dammit!” Tachihara’s voice broke, trying to shake Chuuya awake. 

 

“Wake up!” Akutagawa yelled out, holding onto his limp body. They kept at it for a few minutes, trying to keep him warm, trying to wake Chuuya up as he just groaned like he was in pain. They heard sirens outside the bar, paramedics rushing over to him.

 

“I’m going to need you to back away.” One of them ordered. They didn’t want to, but they compiled, knowing that there was not much they could do anymore.

 

“What did he take?” They asked.

 

“I don’t know. I just found this in his pocket.” Gin handed one of them the vial. 

 

“Cocaine, possibly laced.” Higuchi quietly shrieked when she heard the paramedic announce that it was drug-related. They had never thought that Chuuya would ever do something like that. They knew he was having a hard time, but they assumed he was stressed. They watched as they injected him with something, placing him onto the gurney. 

 

“Any of you family?” They asked. They all shook his head.

 

“I can call his boyfriend,” Akutagawa said, taking Chuuya’s phone.

 

“Okay.” The paramedic said, marching Chuuya out of the bar and into the ambulance.

 

“Who’s his boyfriend?” Higuchi asked, but Akutagawa stayed silent, letting the phone ring into his ear, but it just went to voicemail.

 

“Fuck!” Akutawaga kept at it until he answered, but there was no answer.

 

“Dammit, Dazai!” 

 

“Dazai?!” They all said in unison, with fear still embedded into their eyes.

 

“Shit.” Gin hissed, taking her coat and walking out.

 

“I’m going to the hospital. If anyone wants to come, then hurry the fuck up!” They all rushed out, heading into the car. 

 

“It’s a little… you know?” Yosano said to the doctor, gesturing to the empty emergency room. 

 

“Don’t say it.” The doctor informed her.

 

“What do you mean?” Yosano was confused about why, but she heard the paramedics announce the next patient.

 

“That’s what I mean.” The doctor gave her an ‘I told you so’ look, rushing over to the patient, Yosano following her. She looked at the noticeable red hair, realizing who it was.

 

“Oh, God,” Yosano muttered quietly.

 

“Yosano!” The doctor pulled her attention back. She put on her gloves, hearing the paramedics tell them what was wrong.

 

“Male. Age twenty-two. Suspected overdose from cocaine and another unknown substance.” Yosano almost wanted to through up, but she kept her composure. They rushed him into a room, taking his blood as quickly as possible and giving him medicine to suppress the overdose. 

 

“He’s stable… Keep him here for further observation.” The doctor said, taking off her gloves. Yosano panted, trying to gather her thoughts.

 

“Yosano, are you okay?” She asked Yosano. She didn’t know what to say. Her first instinct was to go out and find Dazai, but she knew she had to stay and watch over him— for Dazai.

 

“I know him.” She finally said, staring down at his pale, limp body as the heart monitor beeped into the silent room. 

 

Akutagawa rushed into the hospital, going to the front desk. “My friend, Nakahara Chuuya. He came here and… And…”

 

“Are you looking for Chuuya?” Akutagawa looked away from the woman at the front desk, turning her attention to a woman with black hair, who seemed equally distraught as him.  

 

“Yeah.” 

 

“He’s stable right now… You called just in time. We suspect that he’s going to recover well. A minute later and… Who knows what could have happened.” They both didn’t want to think about it.

 

“How is he?” Higuchi asked, rushing over to Akutagawa along with the rest.

 

“She said that he’s fine and stable.” They all sighed in relief.

 

“Can we go see him? Is he awake?” Gin asked, but Yosano shook her head.

 

“He’s still in critical condition… If you don’t mind me asking, how do you all know him?” They all looked at her puzzled, but they had no time to question.

 

“We work with him.” Yosano nodded her head, taking a deep breath.

 

“Then I suppose you know about Dazai then? I worked with him and met Chuuya a month back at an art show.”  

 

“If you see that fucker, Dazai, tell him his boyfriend almost fucking died!” Tachihara spat, Gin pulling him back from Yosano’s space.

 

“Trust me, I’m trying to get a hold of him, but I’m not sure where he could be… I know that he goes to Chuuya’s apartment, but I don’t know where it’s at.” Gin was about to tell her until they heard a familiar voice call out to them.

 

“Where’s Chuuya? How is he?” Kouyou walked over, looking at Yosano up and down.

 

“Hello, Akiko.” Kouyou greeted dryly.

 

“Hello, Kouyou…” She glared at her, turning her attention to the confused friends.

 

“He’s critically stable.” She repeated once again. 

 

“Where’s his apartment again?” Gin was about to tell before Kouyou butted in once more.

 

“That is none of your concern.” She spat.

 

“I believe it is because I’m trying to reach Dazai.” Yosano snarled back.

 

“What? What does Dazai have to do with this.” The group of friends cringed at the uncomfortable atmosphere. Yosano smirked at her, crossing her arms.

 

“He and Chuuya have been having a secret love affair. But I don’t think it was much of a secret when it came to Dazai.” Kouyou looked furious but hurt at the same time. She was sad that Chuuya didn’t tell her any of it. But she could understand why Chuuya would keep it secret; she would have told him to leave him alone— now she had all the more reason to tell him to leave Dazai.

 

“So, Dazai’s the reason he’s been doing all these drugs. I should have known that slime was a bad influence!” Yosano laughed at her blaming. 

 

“No. His tox screen actually shows that he’s been doing cocaine for years.”

 

“Then Dazai leaving him was the reason he was driven to drugs! That’s even worse!” Kouyou knew that Dazai was the easiest person to blame, refusing to see the actuality of all of it.

 

“My God, Kouyou! Seriously? You don’t know that. None of us know why he actually started doing drugs. He didn’t start behaving differently until three years ago. We all just assumed it was the stress!” Akutagawa yelled, pointing a finger in her direction. They were all taken aback by Akutagawa’s sudden outburst. 

 

“Do not talk to me that way!” Kouyou hissed at him, smacking his finger away from her face.

 

“Remember who the hell you are speaking to, boy.” Kouyou leaned into him, Gin standing in front of her brother to keep her from coming into his personal space.

 

“Don’t talk to him like that!” Gin snapped back, turning her attention to Yosano.

 

“I’ll tell you where Chuuya lives.” 

 

“Why did you want me to come with you?” Ranpo groaned. Though he was whining about coming, Yosano knew he was still concerned for Chuuya.

 

“Because you seem to have a way with words.” Ranpo smiled triumphantly.

 

“Well, duh! I am a writer, after all!” He said cheeringly. Yosano knocked on the door as loud as she could.

 

“Dazai, I know you’re in there!” She yelled, but there was no answer. She knocked again, calling out to him, “Dazai, open up.” 

 

“How about we look for a key?” Ranpo suggested, running his fingers through the doorframe to try and find a key.

 

“I don’t think he’ll have a key lying—” Ranpo reached under the doormat, showing off a key. She rolled her eyes as he smirked at her, unlocking the door.

 

“I guess playing Clue with Poe really paid off, huh?” 

 

“Of course!” He opened the door for her, letting her step inside first. They looked around to see how huge and luxurious it was.

 

“Oh, wow.” Yosano awed at the scenery, looking at the beautifully polished floors and the clean black porcelain countertops. Yosano snapped back into why they were there, again, taking one last look around. For some reason, it made her more sad.

 

“Dazai! Where are you?” She yelled out again, looking around the apartment.

 

“Oh my God, Yosano, look!” Yosano rushed over to Ranpo, thinking that he had found Dazai, but instead, he was showing her a piece of art in the living room.

 

“This goes for 600,000 yen! It’s priceless!”

 

“Ranpo! We’re supposed to look for Dazai.” 

 

“Ugh, fine,” Ranpo whined, helping her look around the apartment.

 

“Do you think we should look in the rooms?” She asked. Ranpo sighed, shrugging, “Well, we already trespassed, might as well.” Yosano’s heart began to beat faster, unsure whether she should or not. Ranpo could sense her hesitation, leading the way for her.

 

“Come on.” She followed him into the hall. He began to open the doors, examining each room to see any sight or Dazai. They opened the music room, watching all the crumbled pieces of paper on the floor, some covered in blood. 

 

“Fuck.” Yosano murmured, rushing to the last room, abruptly opening it. They found Dazai lying on the bed, his arms full of cuts, blood all over the blankets with bottles of liquor all around him, holding onto a pillow— Chuuya’s pillow. 

 

“Dazai! Hey, Dazai!” The both of them rushed over to him, trying to wake up. Yosano put her fingers to his pulse, trying to make sure he was still alive.

 

“What the fuck are you doing?” Dazai’s eyes flung open, pushing away Yosano’s hand. She sighed with relief, along with Ranpo.

 

“Oh, thank God.” 

 

“What the fuck are you guys doing here?” Dazai spat out, bandaging his arm again.

 

“Dazai, we need to get you to a hospital,” Ranpo said. They were both stunned at his weary voice, sounding afraid for Dazai and Chuuya, both. 

 

“No, I’ll be fine. Now, why the hell are you guys here?” Yosano and Ranpo both looked at each other, figuring out how they would tell him. 

 

“Well… Before I tell you, I need you to be okay. Do you need water or—?” Yosano offered, but Dazai just groaned from anguish— both anticipation and his hangover.

 

“Just out with it. I don’t have enough time. I need to find that stupid idiot. He hasn’t been answering me all night.” Dazai said. He looked at both their faces, showing a sign that they knew something so sorrowful that Dazai had a bad feeling.

 

“What?” His heart began to race, trying to figure them out before they could even tell him.

 

“It’s about Chuuya…” Ranpo began, Yosano following suit.

 

“He… He’s in the hospital.” As soon as she informed him, Dazai knew exactly what had happened. 

 

“No… No, he’s not.” He laughed, trying to see any hint of a joke, but there was none. 

 

“You’re lying. Ranpo, tell me she’s lying.” Ranpo shook his head painfully. Dazai began to laugh even more, trying to relieve the pain that he was in. He didn’t want to cry in front of them, trying to find some other way to ease that pain in his body. Despite his laughs, he bolted up, pacing the room frantically.

 

“I knew this would happen. I knew this would happen. Why didn’t I go after him? Why?” He began to chant to himself, trying to gather his things.

 

“What are you doing?” Yosano asked with worry in her eyes.

 

“What do you think? I’m going to the hospital to give him a fucking piece of my mind.” He laughed even harder, trying to mask his watery eyes.

 

“Dazai, I don’t think that’s a good idea. You’re all bloody and—”

 

“Shut the fuck up, Ranpo. Just shut up. You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. None of you do. I’m the only one who knows him inside and out. I need to be with him, and you guys can’t stop me!” His mask fell off, surprising both his friends.

 

“Dazai, Ranpo is right. You can’t go to the hospital looking like that. You need medical care yourself.”

 

“Fuck off, Yosano. Both of you, just fuck off. I don’t need shit. I… I just need Chuuya. I need him. I need to be with him.” Dazai stopped pacing and gathering his things, standing before them, frozen and trembling.

 

“Who’s with him?” Dazai asked. Yosano looked at Ranpo. Regret filled her eyes as she thought about the people with him— one in particular.

 

“His friends… Along with Kouyou.” Dazai chuckled, running his fingers through his hair. 

 

“Of course, fucking Kouyou’s there. She’s only there for one fucking reason, and you know it, Yosano. She doesn’t give a fuck about him; she’s only there for the fucking reputation!”

 

“I know, Dazai, but you need to calm down.” Yosano reached out to him, but he just pushed her hand away gently. She looked at him, knowing that he wasn’t going to understand, that there was only one thing on this mind— Chuuya.

 

“Okay… I’ll take you to the hospital, but we have to clean your wounds first, at least.” Dazai looked at both of them, trying to find a way out, but he couldn’t. He reluctantly agreed, sitting back down on the bed.

 

“Where’s the first aid kit?” Dazai pointed to the bathroom, “It’s in the first drawer on your left.” Yosano rushed to go get it, hearing the creaks from the floor as she walked away. Ranpo went beside him, sitting down next to him.

 

“I know you have information about the shit that’s been going on. Judging by your reaction.” Ranpo whispered to him. Dazai looked up, staying silent for a moment. 

 

“Yeah… A lot, actually.”

 

“I’m not saying that you should release it to the public, but if you do, then you know where to find Poe and me.” Yosano came back, both of the men letting the topic drop. Yosano sat on the other side of Dazai, grabbing his arm. Her hands were trembling and clammy, but Dazai could see that she was still calm. 

 

“I guess you ended up being my personal doctor anyway, huh?” Dazai cracked a joke to ease the tension between them all, but there was hardly any laugh. Dazai winced at the pain, but no pain would ever amount to the one he felt as he thought about Chuuya lying in a hospital bed without him. He could only imagine what he was going through. He kept telling himself that he should’ve chased after him. Dazai didn’t even want to think about where he got the drugs or about how Fyodor was right. He blamed himself for it. If he didn’t tell Fyodor to stop selling to Chuuya, none of this would have happened; he was partially to blame. It was going to be his fault again. 

 

“Are you okay?” Dazai looked up at her, trying not to cry. He held the lump in his throat tightly, not letting it go.

 

“Yeah.” Both, Ranpo and Yosano, knew that he was lying to them, but they would probably lie too if they were in the same situation. None of this was okay, but there was nothing they could do but lie back.

 

“Yeah, it’s going to be okay.” Ranpo patted his shoulder, waiting for Yosano to finish bandaging Dazai up.

 

“Ready?” She asked. Dazai nodded, preparing himself to see him.

 

“Is he awake?” Yosano gave him a soft smile, nodding her head.

 

“He’s a bit groggy from the medication, but he should be a little more alert by now.” The nerves began to fill Dazai’s stomach— the hangover wasn’t helping either. Dazai nodded his head again, sighing, preparing himself.

 

“Okay. Let’s go.” They all stood up, walking out the door. 

 

Dazai stopped for a moment, looking back at the apartment, thinking about all the small memories again. He thought about how he and Chuuya would go on the balcony and talk while they smoked. He thought about the times Chuuya and him sat on the couch, drinking and playing music and video games together. He looked at the living room where he and Chuuya slowed danced together and got angry at Dazai for stepping on his feet purposefully. He thought about the fight in the kitchen and how even though he was angry and frustrated with him, he still wanted him to hold and cherish him in his arms. 

 

No matter what would happen to them, Dazai would cherish every moment together, just like he did when he first left, even if it haunted him for the rest of his life.

 

They walked into the hospital; the smell and the fluorescent lights made Dazai’s head feel dizzy, his heart pounding from nervousness. He wished he could run away, unprepared to face them all. He knew Kouyou would be against Dazai seeing Chuuya, but eventually, he would have to see him. 

 

“Ranpo and I will be waiting for you in the waiting room.” Dazai nodded his head, giving her hand a light squeeze before letting it go. 

 

“You remember which room, right?” She asked. He nodded his head, walking away from them. Ranpo and her had never seen Dazai so quiet that it unsettled them, watching him walk down the hall before he disappeared. 

 

Dazai looked at the room number, room 99. He opened the door to see the people he once knew before. They all looked at him, surprised, but Dazai didn’t focus on them. He just stared at Chuuya, who seemed to be daydreaming, looking out the window at the tree that looked so much like the painting Dazai had once adored all those years ago. 

 

“You do not deserve to be here.” Kouyou lashed out, jumping up from her chair.

 

“I want to talk to you for a minute,” Dazai said. Kouyou was shocked by his sudden seriousness, but she didn’t say anything. She walked past him into the hallway, Dazai following alongside her, closing the door behind him. 

 

“What?” Kouyou fixated her eyes on him, waiting for him to spit his words out.

 

“I didn’t want the others to hear this.”

 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

 

“Don’t act stupid. It’s not a good look on you… I know, Kouyou. I know all the illegal shit that Mori has been doing for years, and I have proof. So, if you’re done playing dumb, then I suggest that you keep your mouth shut and leave so I can have a moment alone with him.” Kouyou stared at him, trying to find a bluff somewhere, but there was none. She gulped in fear, taking a long deep breath in.

 

“Fine… But, I do have one request if you are going to talk to him.” Dazai rolled his eyes. He didn’t want to hear her request, but he proceeded to hear her out.

 

“I want him to go to rehab, but he doesn’t seem to want to. So, please, try to convince him… I don’t know what else to do… I know I haven’t always been such a good person to him, but I don’t think I could handle this again… He might not make it if there is to be a next one and—”

 

“Save your fucking crocodile tears.” Dazai’s voice was thick and somber, making her flinch.

 

“You didn’t give a fuck about him, and you knew all of this was happening. You’re not fucking dumb, Kouyou.” She frowned, clenching her jaw from the sudden anger that arose in her.

 

“And you think that you did? If you did, you wouldn’t have left him in the first place.”

 

“I’m sorry that not all of us could handle the shit show that Mori’s running. I had to go.” 

 

“Why? Because your precious Oda died—”

 

“Don’t you dare fucking say his name. He doesn’t deserve a fucking swine like you saying his goddamn name.” Kouyou smiled, wiping away the tears from her cheek.

 

“Did you know?” She asked.

 

“What?” 

 

“Did you know that he was doing drugs?” Dazai stayed silent, letting that answer her question.

 

“You and I are not so different, Dazai. We chose to look away, but you’re the only person that could convince him.” 

 

“I didn’t choose to look away. I wanted to help him, but as soon as he knew I found out, he lashed out at me… But fine, if you want me to convince him to save you and Mori’s reputation, then fucking fine, but I’m only doing it for him.” 

 

“Fine. We have a deal, then.” Dazai shook his head, “No. It’s not a fucking deal. I’m trying to help him. There isn’t a fucking deal when it comes to this. This isn’t some business transaction. This is his life.” Kouyou looked away from Dazai’s cold gaze, letting her tears fall from her eyes.

 

“Fine.” She walked away, heading into the room. “Come on. We’re leaving.” The rest of the group got up, saying their goodbyes to Chuuya, but he didn’t utter a word, still looking out the window. They all walked out, both staring at Dazai, pleading to him silently that he would be able to change his mind. 

 

Once they were out of sight, Dazai looked at Chuuya, not breaking his eye contact with the tree from outside. Dazai walked in, closing the door behind him. He stood there for a moment, looking at him. He had only felt this pain before, but he didn’t want to imagine it now. He walked to the chair, patiently waiting for Chuuya to speak. 

 

“You know, there’s some bullshit about life being some sort of melody because melodies are supposed to be nice and beautiful. But that’s a load of shit. Life is like some sort of fucked up symphony— long and complex.” Dazai looked down at his hands, reaching out to Chuuya’s, but he just took it away from his reach before he could even touch him. 

 

“Symphonies can also be beautiful.” Dazai’s voice trembled, trying desperately to hold onto the lump in his throat. Chuuya finally looked away from the tree, looking at Dazai. His eyes looked heavy, hanging low. The eye bags became more visible and tiresome from just looking at them. But his eyes were as clear as ever, like a river glistening under the sunlight.

 

“Only for the people listening to them. Not for the people making and playing them.” Dazai didn’t have anything to say to that. They sat there in silence, waiting for each other to say something. Still, it felt like there was nothing left to say to one another like everything was done and over with, though Dazai didn’t want it to be, and neither did Chuuya. 

 

“Why? Why did you go to Fukuchi?” Dazai asked, his voice cracking so loudly that they both flinched from how painful it was.

 

“I couldn’t take it anymore. I just needed something… You don’t know how hard things have been, Dazai. It wasn’t just you or my father, but it was a lot of things.” Despite Chuuya’s words, Dazai could fully comprehend what he meant.

 

“I know. I know Mori’s been fucking overworking you, and I get that you were stressed—”

 

“No, Dazai. It wasn’t just him of Kouyou, either… It’s my life. I was never supposed to be born. Don’t you get that?… I don’t think I was meant for happiness, and I don’t think I’ll ever be happy.” Dazai wanted to tell him otherwise, but he knew it was true. 

 

“Please, don’t say that… You’re starting to sound like me. It’s not a good look on you.” Dazai meant it as a joke, quietly laughing, but he found himself to be the only one laughing. Chuuya just went on staring at the tree out the window. Dazai did the same, watching as the leaves fell from it like in the painting. It broke his heart, thinking that something so beautiful could have obliterated his life. 

 

“What happened last night?” Dazai asked, attempting to reach for his hand again; this time, Chuuya let him grab it. The same electricity filled his body, making him wince as he felt the hot tears burn his eyes. He did not look at Dazai, letting his watery eyes fixate on the scenery instead. 

 

“I think you already know what happened, Dazai.”

 

“No. I want to hear it come from your mouth. I need to hear it. At this point, there’s no use of hiding it; I don’t care how painful it is.” Dazai squeezed his hand, silently pleading to him. Chuuya wanted to take his hand away from his grip. Still, he felt paralyzed by the intoxicating feeling of Dazai’s touch, longing, and yearning for it. 

 

“I bought from Fukuchi, okay? I needed a fix, and I didn’t care if I died; I never really cared. I just wanted some meaning to my goddam life, and I wasn’t going to get it here… I went out with Tachihara and them, I did a couple of bumps, but I guess that was enough for me to overdose… Everything was so dark, Dazai. It was like I was nothing, like there was no place for me at all. I felt like I was missing something like my soul wasn’t complete….” Chuuya’s voice quivered, taking his hand out of Dazai’s grip, burying his face into his cold hands, softly sobbing into them. Dazai gripped his thigh instead, giving him a reassuring squeeze. Dazai had never cried in front of Chuuya before, not even when he had one of his episodes or when he cut himself; he never cried. But it was different now. Everything about them was different. Dazai could feel the hot tears stream from his eyes down his cheeks. They started off hot, stinging his eyes, but as soon as the coolness from the cold air mixed onto his skin, it made his pouring tears feel like frostbite. 

 

“I’m fucking miserable, Dazai. I am so fucking pathetic that not even you could know.” Chuuya’s sobs became louder, grabbing onto Dazai’s hand, tightening his grip. Dazai didn’t care how painful it was for him, his grip making the cuts on his arms sore. He could take it.

 

“Chuuya… Please, go to rehab? Please?” Dazai softly asked earnestly. He reached his hand out to Chuuya’s face, turning it to face him. Chuuya was surprised to see Dazai’s wet face, watching as the tears ran down his face. It pained his heart to see him like this, never realizing how much Dazai actually loved him, but it somehow angered him.

 

“Why?” Dazai was confused as to what Chuuya meant.

 

“What?” 

 

“Why now? It took you this fucking long to show me that you actually love and care about me? Is this what I had to do to get you to show me that you really care and love me, huh? A fucking overdose? Me being on the brink of death? Really?” Chuuya snatched his hand away from Dazai again, turning away from him. He cried even harder, looking out the window again.

 

“Chuuya, I—”

 

“Just… Did you ever give a fuck about me? Did you ever love me enough to put me first?” Dazai wanted to be truthful, but he knew it would hurt him even more.

 

“I thought I did. I thought I always put you first.” Chuuya shook his head, “You never did! No one ever did! Why do you think I ended up here in the first place, huh?”

 

“I thought you said that it didn’t have to do with any of us?”

 

“I changed my fucking mind!... I just want to mean something, Dazai. I just want to mean something to someone. I wanted to mean something to you, to Kouyou, to Mori. I did the fucking drugs so I could have some fucking meaning, to feel alive, but I guess if I fucking died, then maybe people would finally acknowledge me.” 

 

“Stop! Stop fucking saying shit like that.” Dazai cried out, his voice breaking. 

 

“I… I’ll go. But I never want to see you again… And I fucking mean it this time, Dazai. I’ll go to rehab if I never get to see you again.” Dazai wanted to say something, but he just held his head low, letting the tears fall onto the blanket.

 

“You ruined me. Just like you said how I ruined you; you ruined me too.” Chuuya didn’t want to let him go, but he knew that it would happen again and again. He couldn’t take on another heartbreak from Dazai again. He would rather sacrifice his love for him if it meant that he could get better. Dazai didn’t want to let him go, he tried to find a way where they both could be together, where he could have it all, but there was no point. He had to leave him, watching him from afar again, like he once did months ago. 

 

“Okay….” Dazai whispered, putting his head back up to see Chuuya giving him a melancholy smile. They held each other’s hand in silence, both sobbed quietly, looking out the window together, watching the leaves slowly fall from the tree under the shadow away from the sun… It was a breathtaking sight in a sorrowful moment.

 

Dazai stumbled drunk into the cemetery, slumping over Oda’s grave, clinging onto the tombstone. 

 

“Hey, Oda! Long time no see!” Dazai slurred, laying his head on the cold tomb. 

 

“You know, I have had a long day today… You know Chuuya? Yeah, well, he got hooked on cocaine, and I guess I fucked up, but what else is new!” Dazai laughed, but it all fell into silence, healing the night wind blow through the leaves under the tree. Dazai looked up, watching as the branches danced under the moonlight.

 

“Hey, Oda? Do you think I love him? I mean, I thought I did, but I don’t know anymore… Hey, Oda? Are you there?” Dazai put his ear on the ground, knocking at the floor.

 

“Knock twice if you can hear me.” Dazai joked, but some childish part of him wished for it, hoping that some part of him would still be alive. 

 

“Do you think I put you first over him?” Dazai wanted to sleep there, though it was getting cold, his drunk body could only feel the heat grow, but he knew if he slept there, he would freeze when he got sober. He began to cry again, curling into a ball and loudly sobbing like a child crying for his father to come back home.

 

“How could you fucking leave me? How?! You were my family!” Dazai wished he was there again, yearning for him in his time of need. Dazai knew that Oda didn’t have all the answers to his problem, but he knew how to cheer him up, making him feel a little better, but he could have him now… But he supposed that that answered his own question.

 

Dazai got up from the ground, wiping away his tears. He patted the tombstone, “See you later, old friend.” Dazai stumbled away, drunkenly walking into the night, finding only one place that he could go tonight… 

 

Dazai waltzed into the door, waving his arms in the air, “Honey! I’m home!” He yelled, but no one yelled back. 

 

“Oh, I forgot!” He giggled to himself, throwing himself on the couch. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes, feeling his body swaying like he was swinging. He could smell the air of Chuuya’s scent, but it was quickly fading away from him. He opened his eyes, the dim light hitting his eyes. It was like, no matter what, everything was fading away. Everything he touched, loved, and cared about will no longer exist because of him. He wiped away his tears, getting up and walking over to the music room. He turned on the light switch, the light glowing bright upon the room, shining down the grand piano. Dazai despised the sight of it. 

 

He walked over to it, sitting down on the bench, hitting the same note with his finger over and over again. Still, he finally positioned his hands, lingering over the keys. He began to play the same song he always played for Chuuya, hearing the sadness unveil before him as he began to whimper silently, not letting it disturb the music. Allowing the same stupid lover’s dream to take over his mind, dreaming of the same picture in his mind, only Chuuya watching it, the pretty picture that now haunted him like a bad memory that he could never seize to reimagine, hurting the inner core of his every being. He didn’t deserve to live. He didn’t deserve to live a life full of happiness or shame. He didn’t deserve to live at all. 

 

He played the last note, letting it sink in. He felt like he was drowning in his own repression, trying to swallow all of the pain and sadness. Maybe he couldn’t take it all. Perhaps he just did it for the people he loved, but they were all gone now, never to be found again. He dragged his drunken body into the bathroom, skimming through the medicine cabinet. Turning over pill bottle after pill bottles with Chuuya’s name on it. He came across sleeping pills prescribed to him, showing how full they were. Chuuya never took them, Dazai had a good idea of why, but he didn’t want to think about that.

 

He grabbed the bottle, laying on Chuuya’s bed, undoing the cap and taking five out. He stared at them for a moment before swallowing them whole. There was no reason to live anymore, no reason at all. He had lost everything now, despite him trying to fight for it. He had ruined everything in his life; everything good was now gone because of him. Because he was too stubborn and selfish to see the big picture, blinded by want and desire, blinded by control. He was blinded by Chuuya, wanting the Chuuya he once knew all those years ago to love, hold, and cherish. But it was all done and other with. He had lost Oda due to his own ruins, and now he lost Chuuya. But he could at least die knowing that leaving Chuuya, at his request, would get him better, but at a price that Dazai could not live with. 

 

He laid his head on Chuuya’s pillow, feeling the warmth of it. The smell stayed the exact same as when he first laid on his pillow all those years ago. He felt like he was now one, at peace with the memory, dying in a place where it held such a beautiful encounter with a particular redhead, kicking and screaming to get off his bed. Dazai could feel the tears gently sliding down his cheeks, hitting the soft fabric as he drifted to sleep. Maybe then he would be able to see Oda, tell him everything. But he knew Oda would be angry with him, knowing that he wouldn’t see Oda. Dazai had a feeling that he would probably be alone in the dark, waiting for his true love to come alongside him. He would wait for Chuuya in the dark, no matter how long it took, just to be shined with the brightness that was Chuuya. 

 

Dazai opened his eyes, feeling groggy from the night before. His head began to hurt, but his body felt limp and weak. He suddenly wanted to cry, failing his attempt at death. ‘I couldn’t even do that right.’ He said to himself, holding the tears in his eyes. He looked at the sun beaming down on him, the sun piercing through the skin on his face. He felt so weak and vulnerable, unable to leave the bed. He wanted to stay there, to remember the scent of him, until it no longer smelled of him. He hugged the pillow, pretending it was Chuuya, trying to imagine his voice yelling at him to let him go, but he wouldn’t dare— not this time. 

 

He was unsure of how long he stayed there, watching as the time drifted past him as he laid there hugging Chuuya’s pillow. He didn’t even seem to notice the familiar redheaded woman walk in.

 

“What are you doing here, boy?” Dazai didn’t look over to her; he just laid there silently.

 

“Dazai…” She walked over to him, staring down at his weak body.

 

“I know, Kouyou. I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I just wanted one last time to be here, to remember him until I leave for good… Just like he wanted.” Kouyou closed her eyes, trying to recollect her thoughts. She had seen this image once before, remembering how Chuuya was when Dazai had left him, now it was the other way around. 

 

“Dazai, you and I both know that Chuuya won’t give up on you so easily.”

 

“No, he would. If it means that he’ll get better, then I’ll stay as far away from him. So long as he gets better.” Kouyou sat beside him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

 

“It’s what you wanted, Kouyou.” She shook her head, “I wanted to see you suffer, yes. But to watch both of you lose yourselves because both of you can’t seem to find a middle ground? No… I wanted Chuuya to be happy, but it seems like the only time that he’s actually happy, even if it’s for a minute, is when he’s with you… The same goes for you.” 

 

“I tried to kill myself last night, hoping that maybe I could do one last good thing for him.” Kouyou couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at how naive he was when it came to Chuuya. 

 

“Chuuya would never let it go if he found out you died. He’d go on and kill himself just so he could look for you and beat you up for doing something like that.” Dazai tried to suppress his laugh, but he failed, letting out a small chuckle. In a way, that’s what he kind of wanted; for Chuuya to come to find him so they could be together again. 

 

“I came here to get clothes for him. He’s going to rehab… Thanks to you.” Dazai didn’t say anything to that; he just clenched onto the pillow tighter, holding it closer to his chest. 

 

“Thank you, Dazai.” Dazai cringed, burying his face into the pillow like a child in distress. He began to hear her rummage through clothes, packing them away in a suitcase. He attentively wanted her to put articles of clothing away. He felt like he was losing something, like a piece of his heart was being ripped out of him. But there was nothing he could do to stop it, so he just watched as she put clothes into the suitcase. He watched as she closed the suitcase, buckling up the latches. She looked up at him and gave him a soft smile.  

 

“Thank you.” She said as she stood up.

 

“Just a sacrifice I had to make.” Kouyou nodded, looking down on the floor solemnly.

 

“Kouyou?” She looked up at him, waiting for him to say his following words.

 

“Don’t tell him that I tried to kill myself last night.” She smiled again, “I won’t” They nodded at each other in agreement, watching her walk away until he could no longer see her. He heard the front door close shut. Dazai curled into a ball, burying his face into the pillow again as he began to loudly weep, trying to muffle the sound of his cries with the pillow. 

 

He wasn’t ready, he didn’t want to leave him, but it was too late. He had lost him once before, now he had no choice but to stay away. It was all his fault. If he didn’t leave, then maybe, just maybe, things would have been better. 

 

He stayed there until night fell, watching as the room grew darker and darker. The smell of him no longer smelled like him anymore. He walked out of the apartment, looking up at the night sky, watching as the star glistened next to the moon. “You’ll be a star one day, Chuuya… I promise.” 

 

Dazai looked down again, watching all the busy people walking on the sidewalk passing him by. He had never felt so alone like he did now, even when there were many people next to him, laughing and talking, but he couldn’t help but feel like he was the only one in the world. 

 

Dazai took his first steps into the world he no longer felt connected to, leaving everything behind him as he started his new life as a walking corpse among people he did not have any connections to anymore. But there was one thing that he had to do before anything else took place— he needed to ruin Mori. He had every willpower to make his life shatter into ruins, but he wouldn’t. But a threat to keep Chuuya safe and calm without any worries about his career would work just fine. If Dazai couldn’t kill himself to protect Chuuya, then he would gladly threaten the man who started it all to keep Chuuya alive.

Chapter Text

Dazai spread the documents all around the floor, studying every one of them. He tried putting the puzzles together, trying to figure out a way for him to talk to Mori and threaten him. He knew it would be a stretch, but if he could make a deal without Chuuya knowing in the future, he would be okay. 

 

He then heard a knock at the door, opening it to see Yosano, Ranpo, and Atushi together. “What did that bastard do?” Yosano asked, rushing into the apartment. She didn’t bother to greet Dazai, but he understood. He would act the same way if someone found dirt on Mori. Dazai greeted the other two, letting them into his apartment. 

 

“Unfortunately, I do not have tea or anything that isn’t alcohol to offer you,” Dazai told Ranpo and Atsushi, handing Yosano a glass of wine as she looked through the pages on the floor. 

 

“It’s fine. That’s why I brought my own!” Ranpo held up a bag of goodies, taking out a bottle of soda. Dazai turned to Atsushi, who just smiled at him, “It’s okay. I could always run to the store.” Atsushi paid attention to the documents on the floor, examining each of them. 

 

“Where’s Poe?” Dazai asked Ranpo. Dazai knew it would be somewhat of a threat. Still, he just wanted someone to know, just in case, it was actually something that he could get away with without letting it affect Chuuya’s career.

 

“He’s at work, but he could come by soon if you want him to see this.” Dazai shook his head, “Nah. If anything, I’ll just give the documents to you and Yosano before….” Dazai paused, childishly smiling at Ranpo.

 

“Still planning your own death?” Ranpo asked him seriously, but Dazai just kept on smiling, turning his attention back to the papers.

 

“Oh, that fucking asshole!” Yosano exclaimed, taking a paper into her hand and reading it closing while drinking her wine. 

 

“Ah, I see you found the one where he extorted a student’s parents into giving him money to keep the kid’s sexual assault allegations under wraps.” Yosano groaned, almost crumbling the papers into her fist. Dazai knew this angered her very much, seeing her eyes grow heavy with intensity as she read word for word. 

 

“Where’s the kid now?” Ranpo asked. Dazai shrugged, watching as both Yosano and Atsushi looked over the papers. “Don’t know. He graduated, probably went on to a good university, you know how it goes.” Ranpo hummed in agreement. There were many instances where Mori extorted parents, abusing the students because he knew the parents wouldn’t do anything because of his knowledge about them. 

 

“This is some pretty foul stuff, Dazai. Where did you get all this?” Atsushi questioned, but Dazai didn’t answer. He stayed silent, pretending to be deep in thought. 

 

“Dazai?” Atsushi asked again, but he was saved by the yelling of Yosano. “Oh my God! That fucking slime!” 

 

“Yeah, it is pretty bad. It would be a shame if it did get released into the public.” Dazai smirked at Yosano and Ranpo, although Ranpo was fully aware that Dazai was using it as a threat rather than vengeance. Yosano, on the other hand, was hopeful that Dazai would use it to both their advantages.  

 

“Ranpo, where’s Poe? He needs to see this shit.” Ranpo shrugged, “He’s at work right now, but I don’t think that this is his expertise.” Ranpo lied to her. Poe was highly fascinated with scandals, especially when it came to the music industry. Still, he knew Dazai’s motive and knew that if it did get released into the public, Chuuya and many others would be in jeopardy.

 

“God, well, we have to get it out there somehow.” Ranpo glazed at Dazai, who stayed smirking at them. He could see that he took enjoyment in thinking that they were going to release such a scandal, but Dazai wasn’t so easily swayed out of his plans. 

 

Dazai snatched the papers from Yosano, looking through them— or at least trying to. “So, what are you going to do about it?” Yosano asked. He saw the hope in her eyes; she was vengeful, wanting to get some kind of closure, so did Dazai. Dazai let down his smirk, looking around the room. He wanted to keep Chuuya safe, but he knew how selfish he could be at times, wanting to destroy the place that ruined Oda and Chuuya. He didn’t really care for himself and about getting his own form of closure, but it wouldn’t be right, at least not now. 

 

“I’m not going to do anything about it,” Dazai said, putting the documents back in their place.

 

“What?!” He knew Yosano would get angry, but it wasn’t his place, not yet anyway. 

 

“What the fuck do you mean you’re not going to do anything about it?” 

 

“Don’t worry, I do plan to give it to Ranpo and you, but I need to ask you for a favor.” She seemed to calm down a bit, waiting to hear his proposal.

 

“You can release the documents, but I need you to do it right after Chuuya dies, or at least retires.” Yosano frowned, grimacing at the thought of having to wait. 

 

“What about us, Dazai? Think about all the hell he’s put us through.” Dazai couldn’t really think of himself anymore. He was tired of it; he didn’t want to be selfish anymore. “I don’t care about me… I just want Chuuya to not be in jeopardy because of this. If he retires, then maybe he wouldn’t have to deal with the stress load of keeping things in order and having to deal with the consequences of it.” Yosano stayed silent, finally nodding her head in agreement.

 

“Fine.” Yosano grabbed another paper, but she was clearly reluctant about it. Still, Dazai knew she would keep her word, and Ranpo would, too, without a second thought.

 

“Where is Chuuya, anyway?” They all turned their attention to Atsushi, who they had forgotten to mention Chuuya’s overdose and rehab stay.

 

“He’s in rehab,” Dazai said sadly. Atsushi frowned, regretting that he ever mentioned it. 

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t—” 

 

“No, it’s okay. It was bound to happen sooner or later.” Dazai tried to take his mind off it, looking over the papers on the floor.

 

“Is he okay?” It pained Dazai that he actually didn’t know how he was doing. All he could do was hope that he was okay.

 

“Yeah…” They all stayed silent, the room growing thick with darkness and sadness. 

 

“Wow, look at this!” Ranpo pointed to a piece of paper, taking the tension away from the intense atmosphere.  Everyone averted their attention one scandal after another, letting the information set within their minds, burying it deep into memory as they studied document after document. 

 

Chuuya felt the wind slowly brush his skin as he stood out into the balcony, staring at the sun and trees. It was a tough week for him— it still was. He was still angry and craving drugs, smoking packs of cigarettes each day just to feel that same rush. After quitting, he even gained some weight, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to do drugs again. He was unsure how to do this once he got out of rehab. He put his earbuds in, blasting the music through his ears, hearing the song that his father hummed to him so many times. He wanted his father with him, imagining his father telling him that it would be okay. 

 

He had hoped that the lonely feeling would stop once he quit, but for some reason, it was even more complicated now. He heard from the therapist and the others that it was a long-term side effect from the drugs; the psychological warfare would be a never-ending cycle for him. 

 

“Nakahara!” A staff member called out to him. He paused his music, turning around as he flicked his cigarette away from him.

 

“Yeah?” He sounded tired and groggy like he had barely woken up, but he hadn’t gotten much sleep since he had got there— another symptom of withdrawal. He had been having nightmares about Dazai and his father, watching them fade away from him. So, instead of sleeping, he would go out into the balcony or open his window to smoke and watch the sunrise, thinking of Dazai and what he would be doing at that moment. He missed him so much, almost regretting telling him that he’d only go to rehab if he didn’t see him again. He repeatedly replayed the moment in his head, crying to himself as he thought about it. 

 

“You have the first session with the psychologist in ten minutes.” He informed Chuuya. He nodded his head, wrapping his earphones around his phone.

 

“Got it.” Chuuya walked past him, heading into the hall, hearing the soft groaning of the newcomers who were withdrawing, hearing yelling and chatter happening throughout the common areas and rooms. He didn’t want to mingle with any of them, not because he thought he was better than any of them, but because he didn’t want to see himself as an addict. Still, it was the first step you had to do as soon as you were physically able enough to talk about it. 

 

He sat on a chair next to the room, patiently waiting to be called. He observed the people talking and laughing. He couldn’t grasp why everyone was smiling and laughing while they were stuck in here. He knew that they were probably bonding over their shared experiences with drugs, laughing about the symptoms they went through and whatnot, but Chuuya couldn’t fathom it. He hated when people tried to mock something that he was struggling with. He laid his head back on the wall, looking up at the fluorescent lights, but he closed his eyes after that. It reminded him too much of the hospital, not wanting to remember the time he spent there.

 

“Nakahara Chuuya?” A man with a receding hairline and glasses came out looking down at him, smiling. ‘What the fuck is he smiling about?’ He asked himself. He wanted to ask him aloud, but he refrained from saying the snarky question. He got up walking into the room. It looked like your typical therapy office— the oversized leather couch, the endless amount of books, the big chair stationed in front of the sofa. He sat on the couch as he watched the man take a notepad and pen into his hand and sit in the chair, smiling at him. Chuuya wanted to wipe the stupid smile off his face. They stared at each other, waiting for one of them to speak, but Chuuya supposed that he was the one talking.

 

“So… neat office,” Chuuya said monotonously. The therapist smiled more, nodding his head, “It’s comfortable.” 

 

“So what now? I talk about my childhood and tell you how amazing it was until something bad happened, and that being the sole reason as to why I got into cocaine or what?” He laughed, but it was a genuine question that Chuuya wanted to know. He was unfamiliar with the whole thing. He wasn’t the best at talking about his feeling with strangers.

 

“Only if you want to.” Chuuya scoffed, crossing his arms. 

 

“Well, I guess my childhood was okay….” He began to jot notes down, Chuuya becoming curious about what he was writing. 

 

“I mean, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine… I got into fights a lot and had to care for my Dad cause he got sick, then there were the abandonment issues and whatever.” 

 

“Seems like you’re pretty self-aware of the problems that you have.” Chuuya shrugged, looking out the window.

 

“I guess, in a way, I had to be….”

 

“From your chart, I saw that you were born in France. Tell me a bit about that. My wife and I had always wanted to go, but we are always swamped with work.” He laughed again, but Chuuya stayed silent for a moment. He didn’t find it funny at all. In fact, it annoyed him. He was supposed to analyze him, not figure out his birthplace for his retirement plans.

 

“It was fine. There were these nice cafes and music stores across the house I grew up in, so it wasn’t all too bad.”

 

“I also saw that you are a musician. How did you get into that?” 

 

“My Dad always wanted me to do what I loved, unapologetically, so I wanted to be a violinist.” He hummed, jotting down more notes, but Chuuya stopped paying attention to the things he was writing down.

 

“I see that your father was more involved in your life. What about your mother?” That topic was still a touchy subject, like a healing wound is open.

 

“Left me on my Dad’s doorstep as soon as I was born. Can I smoke in here?” Chuuya became nervous, taking out a pack of cigarettes and his lighter. The man gestured to him to do so. Before Chuuya could go on, he lit his cigarette, taking a long inhale. He felt lighter all of a sudden, making him more relaxed. 

 

“So your mother was never in the picture? What about a stepmother?”

 

“Nah, my Dad was gay, but even then, he never went on many dates.” Chuuya began to fiddle with his tongue piercing in his mouth as soon as he stopped talking.

 

“Hm. Seems like you and your father were more focused on each other; depended on one another.” Chuuya nodded, “I guess so. But as soon as I got accepted into this music program in Yokohama, my father insisted on me going and dorming over there, you know, to live unapologetically.” Chuuya huffed out a small laugh, making the man smile, taking a break from taking his notes.

 

“Was it tough to be away from him when he was sick?” Chuuya nodded his head, flicking away the ash from his cigarette into the ashtray on the table. 

 

“Yeah… Heh. I remember this one time that I got this call from my Dad, telling me that he was sick and I was with Dazai, and Dazai got so angry at me because I had to go… That was the day he and I first kissed….” Chuuya’s smile began to fade away, taking another drag from his cigarette, thinking about that moment.

 

“And who is Dazai?” 

 

“He was my lover for the majority of my life….”

 

“And where is he now?” Chuuya didn’t want to think about it, but he thought the topic was inevitable.

 

“I don’t know….”

 

“When was the last time you saw him?”

 

“A week ago.” 

 

“So after your overdose?” He began to take more notes down.

 

“Yeah… He tried to get me to stop using, but he was a real pain in the ass about it.”

 

“How so?” Chuuya extinguished his cigarette, lighting another one.

 

“He told my dealer, who he knew when he and I were separated and told him to stop selling to me.”

 

“Seems like he really cared about you to go to extreme measures to get you to stop.” Chuuya rolled his eyes, ruffling his hair.

 

“Nah. He didn’t care about me… Because if he did, he wouldn’t have left me.” 

 

“Ah, I see now. Was there a reason why he left in the first place?” Chuuya sighed, not wanting to talk about it, taking his sweet time before he could utter his following words.

 

“He left because a close friend of his killed himself.”

 

“And was there a reason as to why he didn’t stay and talk to you about it?” Chuuya fiddled with more piercings, forcing himself not to get angry or cry.

 

“My Dad died a few weeks before his friend did, so I was really sad, and he said that he couldn’t handle the pain.”

 

“From your father’s death and his friend’s death?”

 

“No… From my sadness and because of his own guilt because he was the reason why his friend killed himself. He couldn’t take it.” The man hummed, turning the paged on his notepad to write more. 

 

“And how did he come back?”

 

“We ran into each other one night, decided to give each other a formal goodbye, and then we ran into each other again, and we just stayed seeing each other.” Chuuya made it sound like it was no big deal, but it meant everything to him— to have Dazai back.

 

“And how did that make you feel?” Chuuya hated that question now; he made it sound repetitive and like everything was based on feelings and emotions.

 

“Like I was alive, I guess.”

 

“Was he the reason you started using cocaine? After he left, were you trying to chase that same feeling again?” Chuuya shook his head. He hated how everyone just assumed that Dazai was the reason he would act out. 

 

“No.” He didn’t want to go into it, but Chuuya knew he would ask more questions to get to the bottom of why he started using.

 

“When was the first time you did drugs?” 

 

“The first time was when I was sixteen… Oxycontin. I only did it a few times. I didn’t like the way it made me feel.” The man nodded his head, taking more notes down.

 

“What was going on during that time that made you decide to take Oxycotin in the first place?” Chuuya took another drag of his cigarette, leaning his head back as he recollected the memories before saying them aloud.

 

“It was the time I told you I got into this fight with Dazai and had to go to my father to help him… My Dad didn’t want me to take care of him, but I went anyway. I was so afraid of losing him, I didn’t think I could handle someone leaving me again.” 

 

“Again? As in your mother? So, you were afraid that your father was going to leave you just like your mother did, and that’s why you had this attachment to your father, thinking that if you took care of him, he wouldn’t leave you?” Chuuya had to laugh; it really felt like he was an open book after all.

 

“Yeah. I was so scared of being left alone again, but I guess I was susceptible to it.” He dropped his pen on his notepad and studied Chuuya, looking at him as if he had told the biggest lie ever. 

 

“No one asks to be abandoned. You were under a lot of stress, more than any sixteen-year-old should be… When was the first time you did cocaine?” Chuuya licked his dry lips, sighing like he was tired of talking already. He recounted the time, remembering the revulsive feeling it left on his skin.

 

“I first did coke a year after my Dad died. I was searching through the things he left me because I was going through his creative block and was curious about it, so I looked inside, and there was a letter from him. He wrote about his life story and how he found me, and then there was a letter and CD from my mother that she had left with me when she abandoned me on my Dad’s doorstep… I read her letter and listened to the CD, and that’s when I lost it… So I went to the bar, got hammered, and saw this guy snorting a few lines. He recognized me, offered me some, and I took it, and the next thing I knew, I was writing the most amazing symphony I have ever written, and I got praised for it… All because of cocaine.” Chuuya threw his hand in the air, letting it fall to his knee, finishing his short story of how he had lost himself completely. He felt despondent suddenly, like he was guilty and embarrassed at the same time just thinking about it. He wanted to call himself an idiot, a stupid fucking idiot, for deciding to take it, but at the time, it made him feel like he was at the top of the world.

 

“It seems like a lot of your problems all stem from your mother… I knew you were self-aware.” He chuckled, writing more things down. Chuuya shrugged, pretending like it was no big deal, taking another drag from the cigarette before squashing it onto the ashtray.

 

“No one likes being lonely, especially people who never asked to be… It can damage a person, leaving them vulnerable and scared… Even though you can’t remember being abandoned by your mother, it seems like you are constantly being reminded of her and of what she did to you, among the things that she could have told you in the letter and CD.” He fumbled through his notes, giving his final analysis.

 

“This Dazai guy also seemed to be going through problems of his own as well. I suspect that you two created this bond that relied on pain, but I also believe that love played a big part in it… You two seemed like you never could express it, even though you tried really hard to… I suppose you tried to get him to open up more like a deflection from your own feelings, and you hated how easily he could hide and pretend. At the same time, you felt everything and couldn’t hide.” Chuuya let out another laugh, “Am I that much of an open book, Doc?” He smiled at that, throwing his notepad and pen on the table.

 

“It’s not so much about you being an open book. It more has to do with the fact that you could never hide, and that’s a good thing, but on top of the trauma and stress, I suppose that you felt so much that it became too much to handle.” Chuuya wanted to cry, trying hard to hold in his tears.

 

“I just want to be happy.” He admitted quietly, hoping that he wouldn’t hear him, but he did.

 

“Everyone here does. They just started using drugs because they confused the escape and the feeling of getting high as happiness. In reality, they were driven by misunderstanding and sadness. That’s why drugs are so easy to do— they make you feel good, forgetting the moments where you were unhappy, even for just a minute. Achieving happiness is not easy when you have been constantly torn down, but it’s not impossible….” Chuuya nodded his head, understanding where he was coming from, but it hurt him to think about it. Did it mean that he would never be happy, even though it wasn’t impossible? Because if it did, then what the hell was the reason for all of this in the first place? He felt like the impossible was inevitable to him. It didn’t mean a thing to him but that he would have to constantly try again and again. He didn’t have the patience. He needed to be happy; he had to be happy, not because he wanted it, but because others expected him to. Chuuya didn’t want to be forced into happiness, he wanted it to come naturally to him, but that meant he had to give up on many things for him to be that way, and he didn’t want that. He had already given up on Dazai, and he wasn’t any happier; in fact, he was more miserable. 

 

“That concludes the session for today. I’ll see you in a week.” He picked up his notepad and pen, looking at Chuuya with a smile on his face. Chuuya didn’t get up right away. He just looked at him like he had heard the most devastating news of his life. He finally got up, walking out the door. He heard more chatter and laughter coming from the common area, but for some reason, he felt more annoyed than when he had before he went in. He still could not understand why people seemed happier than him when they were on the same boat as he was, living the same reality as him— some even worse— but they were still smiling and laughing. It made him even more lonely and depressed. He walked into his room, putting his earphones on again, laying on his bed, and just letting the music flow through his ears. He hummed the song, just like his father always did. He closed his eyes, imagining himself in between a river where he saw Dazai, but he was hard to reach. He had then wished that they could have met another way in another universe where they could both be happy and have everything they wanted— love, a family, happiness. But this was their life. Their own God-forsaken life that was damned from the beginning. And for some reason, Chuuya knew that no matter what life they lived, they would always be unhappy, in some way or another. There was no happy ending for them.

 

Dazai watched as his friends walked away, Ranpo carrying the envelope with all the documents in hand. He sighed, clenching his jaw. His heart began to beat in pain, thinking about Oda and what he had said in his letter to him. Even in his dying moments, Oda still knew that Dazai couldn’t just spill all the secrets because Chuuya would suffer the most. He didn’t want him to suffer. He didn’t want him to have the guilt he and Oda harbored. He wanted Chuuya to be free, like the star in the night sky that he always wanted to be. 

 

Dazai took out his phone, dialing the phone number he never thought he would still remember. He held the phone to his ear, letting it ring. He didn’t know what he would say, but he didn’t really care. This was a mission that he would continue on… He supposed that he didn’t learn his lesson when it came to Fyodor and plotting behind Chuuya’s back, but this was Dazai’s last and final strategy before he let Chuuya go for good. 

 

“Hello, Dazai.” Dazai could feel Mori’s menacing grin through the phone, but he sighed before he could say another word.

 

“Hi, Mori.” 

 

“I suppose you are calling because of Chuuya?” Dazai listened as he grabbed a half-empty bottle of liquor, taking a long sip.

 

“Yeah…”

 

“Well, he’s in rehab at the moment. Would you like to leave a message for him?” Dazai chuckled a bit, wiping his wet lips that now reeked of hard liquor.

 

“Actually, I wanted to leave you a message.”

 

“Oh?” Dazai could tell that Mori was intrigued, hearing the creaking from his chair, knowing that he was leaning back, awaiting Dazai’s words.

 

“Yeah, I need you to back the fuck off of Chuuya when he gets out of rehab, assuming that he’ll go back as soon as he gets out.” 

 

“Hmph!” Mori chuckled, taking a long deep breath. Dazai could feel like Mori was treating him as a dumb, naive child, unknowing of the cards up his sleeve. 

 

“And why’s that?”

 

“Because, if you don’t, I won’t be afraid to release all the little secrets that you have been hiding— the extortions, the threats, the little deals that you’ve made throughout the years. All I need to do is make one call… And don’t even try to threaten me with death because as soon as I die, it will all go crumbling down for you.” Dazai was heavily breathing, gripping tightly on his phone.

 

“My, you have come a long way, Dazai, but you still haven’t changed one bit… I have taught you well… I’ll give him a two-week vacation, but after that—”

 

“No. You’ll give him two weeks and stop stressing him out… I know the shitty manipulating tactics you use against him. Just stop it, and we have a deal.” 

 

“Hm. Well, I suppose it is a good deal in exchange for you not to expose me and the rest of the concert hall… Well, consider it done. Although, I do have to ask one question… Why now?” Dazai couldn’t even understand the question because he wasn’t sure himself when it came to it now.

 

“I don’t know.” He could feel Mori smile again. There was a long pause between them. Dazai could feel the walls closing in on him as the silence grew long and thick, making him feel like he was choking. 

 

“I believe you do, but it seems like you are still that naive child still, so I’ll just leave you with that thought, then.” Dazai didn’t even get a chance to hear his goodbye, hanging up the phone and tossing it on his futon. He stood there in silence, alone. The silence was so loud in his head; being alone with his thoughts was punishment enough. He held himself in his own arms, but he was still cold, trying to imagine Chuuya holding him, trying to envision Oda in his thoughts, telling him that he was going to be okay. He tried to imagine Chuuya telling him that he was okay and that everything would be fine in the end, but for some reason, he knew that he wouldn’t in the end. 

 

Chuuya sat beside his window, looking up at the moon. It was a full moon, and it was bright, shining down on him as he smoked and stared up at the sky longingly. He had wished that Dazai was there with him in that split second. For some reason, the scene wasn’t complete without him. He could recall the times in the dorm room were he and Dazai used to chain smoke, drink cheap liquor and wine, look out into the garden, and up at the sky while Dazai sketched him. It wasn’t complete without him.

 

Then, he thought about his father, the letter he wrote to him, and the pictures he saw of his father and Paul. They had looked happy like there was nothing in the world that would make them stop loving each other. He presumed that his father was right when it came to that, that he and Dazai would never stop loving each other regardless of all the shit that was happening. He decided that maybe being without him wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted him so bad that it hurt more than anything. He wanted to text him, but he thought that wasn’t the best thing to do, especially since the signal there was nonexistent. He pulled out paper and a pen, resting it on his lap, staring up at the moon for a moment, wondering if Dazai was watching the moon too. 

 

Dear Mackeral, 

 

I know I said that I didn’t want to see you… Don’t smile with joy just yet. I’m still mad at you for the shit you did with Fyodor. You had no business doing that shit. I just wanted to know how you were holding up? I guess that there’s really not much you could be holding up besides drinking yourself to death. I don’t blame you, though.

The therapist told me that it would be good for me to write out my feelings, whatever the fuck that means. But I thought, ‘Eh, what the hell. It’s not like I have anything better to do.’ So I decided to write you a letter. I probably won’t mail it out to you for a while… I miss you. 

I was looking at the moon while smoking, and I thought of you. Watching the world from a window or balcony isn’t the same without you. 

Fuck, Dazai, why did you have to do all that? Why didn’t you just do a fucking intervention like a normal fucking person? But I guess you’re not normal. It’s okay, neither am I. 

I guess we were damned from the moment we met… No, from the moment we took out first breaths into the world— that’s when we were damned.

I have been trying to think of a life where you and I could be happy and have everything we ever wanted. You could have Oda and Ango while I had my Dad, and we would have each other. But I guess we would never be able to have that. Maybe life wasn’t meant for us. 

I kept thinking about that tree outside the hospital window that looked like the painting you used to love so much, thinking about how you would have loved to paint something like that. I knew you would catch on to it too, but you were so focused on me that we couldn’t really talk about it, granted all the shit that was going on.

Rehab sucks, by the way. People seem happy, despite all of them being in the same boat as me. But I’m not happy. In fact, I’m more miserable than I ever was here. I crave more drugs, having the urge to get my hands on anything. I don’t care if it makes me feel alive or dead, as long as it’s something… But I haven’t, though, so don’t get your guilt to take over, you fucking idiot. 

I miss you… I really fucking miss you. God, I fucking hate you. Why the fuck do you have to make me miss you so much? You insufferable, asshole. When I get out, I swear to God if you’re dead, I’m going to make your afterlife so fucking miserable that it’ll be worse than living for you. Ha!

I wonder what you’re doing now? Are you looking at the moon too? I think you are, or I like to think you are. I want to imagine you looking up, drinking your scotch, smoking my favorite brand, saying how much you hate the shit I smoke. However, you still continue to smoke it because it reminds you so much about the times we had together. I want to go back to those times. Those were really good times, even though they weren’t any better. 

After I get out, I want to take a trip. I want to go to Paris… I got a call from Kouyou telling me that Mori was giving me two weeks off, so I thought, why the hell not take a trip, right? I know you had something to with it, but I really don’t care. Thanks, I guess. 

When I come back, do you think we can meet up somewhere? I want to see the garden at the academy again. I miss the flowers, and I think they’re going to be blooming soon. If you don’t, then don’t worry, I get it. I wouldn’t blame you either. 

If this is the last time I talk to you, that’s okay. I just wanted to say that I love you, Dazai… Always have and always will. You were really my first and only true love. Don’t know why it had to be you, but I’m glad it was. 

Anyway, adieu, you relentless piece of shit! Love you, miss you, and all that corny shit! Maybe I’ll write more to you— make it into a series of letters. I’ll send them to you one day so you can sit and read them while you look up at the moon and stars and think of me. Or whenever you get lonely. I wish I had something of you that I could have to have a piece of you while I look out into the city lights and smoke a cigarette and drink my expensive wine that you also hate so much. 

So long, asshole! Don’t die on me, or else I’ll kill you! 

 

Without love,

Slug

 

Dazai placed the bouquet of flowers on the tombstone, lightly patting the cold stone. It was a windy day. Dazai could feel the cool freshness caress his skin, almost reminding him of Chuuya. He could practically imagine Chuuya being with him, consoling him as he visited his friend’s grave.

 

“Hey, Oda… I’m still alive. Heh. Shocking, right? Anyway, I started working on a piece after my series got very popular. I decided to paint all the moments into one. I’m sorry I couldn’t paint you, but I think you won’t mind it… In fact, I think you would prefer it if I just painted Chuuya. I think you’d only be happy that I’m just a painter….” Dazai looked up at the tree, seeing the leaves sway with the wind, dancing with joy and happiness. Although Dazai couldn’t find anything to be happy about, but he was in a better mood.

 

“I think Chuuya is getting better. I hope he is because if he isn’t , then there wasn’t any point in leaving him again… I know you’d be disappointed in me that I did it again, but I had no choice. I think you would at least agree with me on that. I was thinking the whole time he was telling me to leave him, and I thought about what you would do, and I think that you would’ve done the same.” Dazai closed his eyes, leaning his head farther back. A smile curled upon his lips, feeling bliss at that moment. It was nice for a change, almost freeing, but nothing like that lasts forever for him. 

 

“Dazai?” His eyes opened wide, looking to see the voice behind him. He saw the familiar round glasses, the eyes behind them staring back at him in shock and embarrassment. Yes, nothing lasts forever. 

 

“What are you doing here, Ango?” Dazai said vexingly. He was not pleased to see the man that had ruined his, Chuuya’s, and Oda’s lives. Dazai stared down at Ango’s hands which held a bouquet of flowers. Dazai frowned, rushing over to him, grabbing him by his collar.

 

“You have no right to fucking be here.” 

 

“I have every right to—” Dazai shook his head, his laugh interrupting him as his grip tightened around the fabric.

 

“No, you don’t. You were never his friend. If you were his friend, you wouldn’t have helped him before it was too late! You just stood there with your tail in between your legs like the fucking coward you are.” Dazai spat, pulling his closer to him. Ango adjusted his glasses, taking a slow and shaky deep breath. Dazai could tell that Ango had been telling himself that after Oda’s death. 

 

“I… I warned him….”

 

“Ha! You weren’t supposed to fucking warn him. You were supposed to stay by his fucking side!” Dazai let go of him, pushing him hard enough that he stumbled backward a bit. 

 

“I couldn’t, Dazai. You, out of all people, knew I couldn’t.” Ango’s voice was thick with guilt, but Dazai didn’t budge. He was enraged to see the sight of him, wanting to hit him until he was all bloody, but Dazai refrained from doing so. He knew it wouldn’t solve anything, he had no reason to, but the urge still resided within him.

 

“Why? Because of your fucking job? Fuck you, Ango. You could’ve gotten a better job. Or were you too fucking scared of what Mori might do to you if you did? Spill all the fucking secrets, letting everyone know that you’re a fucking accomplice and are just as guilty as him?” Ango’s eyes widen, becoming fearful of what Dazai knows. Dazai smirked, finally finding a fear tactic within him that would ruin him. 

 

“I know everything, Ango… Everything.” Dazai tried to hold in his laugh, but it was no use, chuckling as he saw the fear grow within Ango.

 

“How much do you know, Dazai?” Dazai wiped the tears from his eyes from trying to hold in his laugh.

 

“Don’t worry, Ango, Mori knows that I know. I used it to threaten him and the rest of the concert hall for Chuuya’s sake, which you probably know about and is perhaps why you’re here. The guilt is getting to you, Ango.” Dazai teased, watching Ango lose himself, but still composed a calm demeanor.

 

“There really isn’t anything that I can’t get past you, huh? You haven’t changed one bit.”

 

“So, I’ve been told.” They looked at one another in silence. The wind whispered through their ears, becoming loud as the silence between them grew thick.

 

“Please, Dazai, I—”

 

“Please? Please don’t release the information? Or please understand why you did what you did?” Ango took his glasses off, rubbing his eyes in frustration. Dazai knew he was making things complicated for him, acting like a child on the verge of throwing a tantrum. 

 

“Dazai, please, I don’t want to fight. I just wanted to leave flowers and—”

 

“Talk to him. Tell him how sorry you are and how guilty you feel? Ah, Ango, you know what? It shouldn’t have been him to be the one to die. It should’ve been you. You should’ve been the one to kill yourself, not Oda. And the funny thing is, is that, deep down, you’d agree with me because you know I’m right.” Dazai smiled at him as he said that, taking a deep breath in. 

 

“I…”

 

“Oh, cat got your tongue? Well, there’s no need because I already know. So, I’ll tell you again; you should have killed yourself, Ango.” Dazai began to walk away, bumping his shoulder as hard as he could on Ango’s side, making him wince. 

 

“But, I do have to admit something… If you had succeeded on the first try, I would have been extremely jealous of you, but nevertheless, I really do hope that you try… You deserve it.” Dazai gave him one last smile before walking away, leaving Ango alone with his thoughts, Oda’s grave, and the bouquet of flowers he had left on the ground.

 

For some reason, Dazai was a bit please with how that went, but he was still miserable seeing Ango. He might have looked unfazed by Dazai’s comments, but he knew that Ango was listening to every word he was saying, indulging in it… But Dazai knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere. His bullying would do nothing to Ango, but he knew what would happen. He began to think if giving Ranpo the evidence and telling him and Yosano not to release the evidence until he was dead and Chuuya was well away from the chaos to do so was the right thing. He could have ruined his Ango’s and Mori’s life, and he would avenge both Oda and Chuuya, but what was done was done. 

 

There was nothing he could do now but wait.

 

Another sleepless night passed Chuuya by, watching the sunrise rise from the sky. He used to love watching the sunrise, but it just became more and more redundant, but it was still beautiful. He squashed his cigarette on the ashtray, cupping his own hand on his face as he watched the sunrise itself. He then began to think about someone he never really thought he could think of. Paul was someone his father mentioned throughout his letter. Still, it never really accrued to Chuuya how he felt about him other than he broke his father’s heart. He frowned to himself, thinking about what he was like, why he would hurt his father. He thought about what his father said how he and Pual reminded him of Chuuya and Dazai. Chuuya wondered about that a lot. He wondered about Paul and what he was like like he was someone he knew but didn’t. He asked a lot about why he did what he did and why didn’t he want to live his life because it seemed like he wanted to so bad. He had so many questions he wanted to ask about it, but he knew he probably couldn’t reach him unless…

 

Chuuya walked to the front desk that morning, where a staff member played solitaire. “Hey, can you do me a favor?” He asked.

 

“No, I will not get you drugs….” Chuuya rolled his eyes as he heard the monotone voice speak.

 

“No, I need to look up a person. Or if you want, you can search him up; Paul Verlaine. He lives in France, pretty sure he still lives there.” The woman sighed, making her last move on the game before turning to him.

 

“I can only let you use it for five minutes, okay?” Chuuya nodded his head, making his way behind the desk as she stood beside him, supervising him. He briefly looked at her and turned his eyes to the screen, typing his name and the place he lived in, or the place he used to live in— who knew. It didn’t take him long to find results for a Paul Verlaine in Paris. Apparently, he owned his own ballet studio and was one of the best instructors in the country. He got the address of the ballet studio and wrote it down. 

 

“Thank you.” Chuuya made his way back to his room as the staff member yelled back at him, “I hope that’s not a drug dealer.” He knew she was joking— or at least what Chuuya thought it was. He huffed out a small chuckle, not realizing that that was the first time he had laughed ever since he got there. 

 

Chuuya laid in his bed that night, looking at the studio’s address; he sighed as he then looped up at the blank ceiling, he was tired, but he couldn’t sleep enough. He knew that he would just keep waking up and not get a whole night’s rest. He wondered how long it would be until the withdrawal would stop, but according to the doctors, it would last months, and some are even long-term. Chuuya looked out into the window, taking out his pack of cigarettes, walking toward the windowsill. Still, he stopped for a moment, having an idea pop into his head. Instead of walking towards the window, he walked back to his bed, taking out paper and a pen. He decided that he would write a letter to him.

 

Dear Paul,

 

You may not remember me, or perhaps you do. You may know my father, Arthur Rimbaud. I am his son. He told me about the time at the park where you met him and me after a long time of not seeing him. I know this is sudden, but I will probably explain once I go back to Paris in a few weeks. I would like to meet up with you if that’s okay with you. I know it would probably be weird to talk to you since you are my Dad’s old lover, but I just wanted to ask you a few things since there aren’t many people to ask… But for now, I would just ask if we could meet somewhere. I know this cafe a few blocks down from where you work and want to see if you want to meet there. I would have called your studio, but I am currently in a place where the reception really fucking sucks— practically nonexistent. Anyway, I hope you can get back to me soon. I will be able to reach you in a few weeks, so I’ll leave my number to call or text me… I would put the return address, but I’m afraid I’m embarrassed to put where I am now, but like I said, I will tell you everything if we meet up soon.

 

Sincerely,

Chuuya.

 

Chuuya sealed the letter in the envelope, placing it on the nightstand next to him. He pursed his lips together, took his cigarettes and walked back to the windowsill, and looked up at the sky, admiring the stars that shined bright before him. He got angry for some reason, thinking about Dazai and how goddamn beautiful he was. He could still remember the reflections of the night sky in his eyes, watching them grow brights as he looked at him. He hated that about Dazai, but that was also why he loved him so much. It hurt so much that he could no longer be with him. He began to feel wet drips coming down his face. ‘Did I lose him again?’ He asked himself, wiping away the tears as he looked up, inhaling the smoke. He felt more empty now, like he was nothing anymore. This was usually when he craved and was craving so much, but there was nothing he could do but cry.

 

“I miss you do fucking much….” He sobbed out, not looking away from the night sky.

 

Dazai drunkenly groaned, rubbing his hot flushed face, hearing his phone ring loudly. “Ugh!” He reached for his phone, answering it.

 

“What?” 

 

“Oh? Did I interrupt an intimate moment?” Dazai groaned, even more, knowing that it was Fyodor on the other side of the line.

 

“You are my worst enemy, Fyodor. I can’t even drink in peace.” Fyodor laughed at that, but Dazai was not kidding.

 

“What do you want?” He asked, pouring himself another drink.

 

“Well, I was going to ask how Chuuya was and if you succeeded but judging by your tone, I don’t think you have.” 

 

“Heh. You guess correctly.” Dazai didn’t want to go into detail about it, he wasn’t drunk enough to talk about, but Fyodor would probably ask anyway— which he did.

 

“So I assume that he went to Fukuchi.” His voice sounded more serious.

 

“Yup!” Dazai slurred, throwing his hand in the air like he was declaring defeat, almost spilling his drink.

 

“He’s not dead, is he?” 

 

“No, he isn’t. Actually, he’s in rehab. So that’s the good news.” Dazai drank the liquor in one gulp, slamming his glass on the table.

 

“And the bad news?” There was a long pause as Dazai was trying to gather his drunk thoughts.

 

“Well, I think you know better than anyone that everything comes with a price, Dostoyevsky.” Fyodor hummed in agreement, acknowledging Dazai’s sudden loss. 

 

“Chuuya was lost before any of this happened, Dazai. You lost him before you left him, so it wouldn’t have made any difference. Anyway, luckily he’s not dead… I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I told you so.” Dazai chuckled a bit when Fyodor said that, reminiscing the words he told him that night, he told Fyodor to stop selling to Chuuya.

 

“Yeah. Yeah, you did… I do have one thing to ask you, though.” Dazai poured himself another drink.

 

“What?” 

 

“Do you think he’ll relapse?” Dazai knew he was in no position to ask, but he couldn’t help it. He wanted to see if it was worth his sacrifice.

 

“To tell you the truth; yes, he will. But that’s the whole point of recovery. You can’t expect someone to get clean on the first try. It takes months, even years, to perfect recovery, so long as they want it. One doesn’t stop being an addict, they are an addict for life, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.” Dazai could feel a lump form in his throat, wanting to cry badly.

 

“What if he doesn’t want to get better?”

 

“Then, he’ll just keep doing it until he wants to recover. If not, then I don’t know what to tell you. Believe it or not, I hope he does. I think he’s a genius. The music he makes is astonishing for a man his age… But, who knows. He’s as unpredictable as they come.” Dazai laughed, but his voice was shaky as he tried to hold his tears in.

 

“He’s as predictable as they come… He’s like a book that I can read over and over again and never get bored of.” Fyodor scoffed as he heard Dazai ramble on about Chuuya.

 

“Well, he’s not the same Chuuya you once knew when he’s on drugs. Even then, he would still be unpredictable now that you know that he will relapse. But keep dreaming, Dazai.” Dazai forced a smile, taking another large gulp of his drink.

 

“Yeah….” He didn’t want to believe anything Fyodor said, but he was forced to now since Chuuya’s overdose.

 

“Well, I must be going. I have many customers to attend to.” Dazai hummed, not even saying goodbye and hanging up the phone. He laid his head on the table, letting his drunken state spin his mind around. He felt like he was floating, swaying in the air like he was the wind. He wanted to disappear, but he wanted to be needed— just like the wind. He wanted to be nothing, but he also wanted to be something— just like the wind. He finally understood what Chuuya meant by wanting to mean something to people. Maybe they weren’t so different after all. 

 

Dazai dragged himself to the window, looking up at the night sky, watching the stars twinkle. In that sudden moment, he began to cry, more than he had ever done before. It felt like something was clawing into him, making him want to scream in despair and anger. He wanted things according to his plan, but he knew it wouldn’t be that way. So, for now, he sobbed, crying to the stars and the moon like a child who was unaware of their own feelings, unaware of why they were crying in the first place. But he just cried, crying until he passed out on the floor.

 

That night, he dreamt of Oda, trying to get his guidance on what he should do. Still, there was nothing else he could do anymore, so he just enjoyed the moment in which he dreamed of the man who treated him like a brother and like a son. It wasn’t until then did Dazai finally realize what Chuuya felt. Why he was so angry about him leaving. He knew that Chuuya was mad that he left, but it wasn’t only that. He was also sad about the timing when he left. He was going through his father’s death, trying his best to fix himself while also trying to love him. Dazai finally realized that he would feel the same if Chuuya did that to him. But now, Chuuya was gone, never wanting to see him again because he taught him how to care for himself when things were not going right. Dazai taught Chuuya that being alone with your problems was the only way to fix them, but it wasn’t. He felt even more guilty as he thought about it. But, again, there was nothing he could do anymore. Everything was up to Chuuya now.

Chapter Text

Chuuya packed the last of his clothes. He had to admit; the last twenty-eight days opened his eyes to many things when it came to him and his life. But it wasn’t any better. The psychiatrist referred him to another psychologist, but Chuuya wasn’t going. He didn’t have the motivation or patience to see someone else. All he was thinking about— and distracting himself— was going to Paris. Kouyou was picking him up from the rehab center. It took him a lot of convincing to get her to drop him off at the airport after getting out. She wanted him to at least stay a few days in Yokohama, but he didn’t want to. He just wanted to escape for a bit of a while… Maybe he was like his mother. 

 

“So, are you going to see the psychologist I referred to you?” Chuuya looked over to the doorway, seeing the old man smile like he didn’t have a care in the world. Chuuya somewhat envied him, but he also appreciated him.

 

“I’ll think about it.” The man’s smile faded a bit, nodding his head.

 

“I would’ve hoped that you would. I’d hate to see you back here.” Chuuya’s heart ached for the older man as he said this to him. He didn’t want to let anyone down, especially the people who have helped him get through these past few weeks. 

 

“I’m sorry.” 

 

“No, don’t be sorry. If you do, then it just means you have more fight left within you, and I’d be even happier about that.” Chuuya gave him a vague smile, closing his suitcase.

 

“Well, I hope that you give them a call… It was nice meeting you, Chuuya.” He walked up to him, giving him his hand to shake. Chuuya smiled genuinely to him, his eyes filling with tears, and he took the man’s hand and shook it. 

 

“It was nice meeting you too, Doc.” They stood there for a moment before a staff member called for him, telling him that Kouyou was there to pick him up. He said his goodbyes to everyone, even though he never really interacted with them besides in group therapy. 

 

He walked out of the center, looking at the building one last time. He looked ahead of him, seeing Kouyou smile at him, tears of joy in her eyes. Chuuya smiled back at her as he walked towards her. She gave him a big hug. It was unfamiliar to him, but he hugged her back, not questioning it. 

 

“I’m so glad you’re okay.” She said. He just hummed, not wanting to tell her that he wasn’t okay. He was still miserable, but he just tried to pretend so that he could get the hell out of Yokohama. He was already feeling like he was suffocating there. He was nervous, not getting any sleep the night before— but he hardly slept anyways. He was just afraid of relapsing since his cravings never really disappeared. He had been trying to distract himself with things like writing music, playing with the horses they had for therapy, or even painting and drawing. He sometimes drew many pictures of Dazai, finally understanding why Dazai would draw him. They both found each other so beautiful, and it was impossible not to.

 

Before Chuuya got into the car, he saw Akutagawa come out of the backseat, rushing over to him. He knew that he wanted to hug him but was timid. Chuuya just chuckled, patting his shoulder. 

 

“It’s good to see you too. And the others?” Chuuya asked, putting his suitcase in the trunk of the car.

 

“They had to stay for practice, Kouyou was only allowed to take one person, and they all volunteered to pick me.” Chuuya nodded his head; he studied Kouyou talking on the phone, realizing the perfect moment.

 

“Hey, Akutagawa, can you do me a favor?” Akutagawa listened attentively, begging him to go on. Chuuya reached for the back of his pocket, taking out a thick envelope filled with letters for Dazai.

 

“Can you give his to Dazai… I wrote the address of the art gallery so you can give it to him.” Akutagawa nodded his head, taking the envelope and stuffing it inside his coat pocket. 

 

“Thanks.” Chuuya smiled up at him, giving him one last pat on the shoulder before going to Kouyou, who had finished her call.

 

“Ready?” She asked with a nervous smile. “Yup. You have my passport?” She nodded her head. Chuuya sighed, taking another look at the building. 

 

“Alright, let’s rock and roll!” He yelled out, hopping into the back seat waiting for them. Despite his ecstatic behavior, he couldn’t help but think of the letter that he set Paul, hoping that he would call him soon, hoping that they could at least talk. He did have a selfish reason for wanting to talk to him besides trying to get advice. He wanted to talk about his father to try and reminisce about his father’s life. He missed him so much, and talking to a psychiatrist about it wasn’t nearly enough for him to stop him from missing him. 

 

He watched as the trees passed by him on the window, looming out to the clouds that seemed to move with him. The silence in the car was thick, making Chuuya somewhat irritated. He put his earphones in, playing music, thinking about Dazai and his father, thinking about how Paul would react or if he’ll even see Paul at all. He thought about all the music stores and cafes he would visit while there. He hoped that he would at least be a bit happy for a moment. He just wanted to distract himself by reliving his life before Yokohama. Still, he knew it was going to be difficult. He wanted to believe that he was happy then, but as he recalled from the therapy sessions he had, he realized that he wasn’t. But he could only dream, couldn’t he?

Dazai rolled in his chair, pretending to be a good day, laughing and playing pranks on Atushi and Kunikida. But underneath, he was dreading it all. He knew that today was the day that Chuuya got out of rehab. It took everything in him to want to see him, to knock on his door— or break into his house— and just hold him, kiss him, and watch movies and play video games together. He just pretended to be okay, but nothing could really fool Ranpo.

 

“You’re more erratic than ever.” He leaned over his desk, eating chips. Dazai looked up at him with a smile, still pretending even though he knew he couldn’t act with Ranpo. Sometimes, he wished that Ranpo would play along sometimes, but that wasn’t his character at times, especially when he foresaw things going downhill.  

 

“Aren’t I always?”

 

“No, but considering what today is, I assume that Mr. Fancy Hat got out of rehab… Are you going to see him?” Now, Ranpo was teasing, trying to lighten the mood or simply get a reaction from Dazai— which was just part of his amusement. But this time was different. Ranpo wasn’t trying to seek pleasure. He was trying to find something different within Dazai, like a sign of humanity and understanding.

 

“No.” Dazai let go of his smile, turning away from Ranpo. 

 

“Why not? Isn’t he your lover?”

 

“He’s not… Not anymore. He means nothing to me.”

 

“Ha! You really are hilarious! Haven’t you forgotten that I’m a journalist, Dazai? I can smell bullshit from thirty-two kilometers away.” Dazai rolled his eyes, trying to tune him out.

 

“So, if he means nothing to you, can Yosano and I expose Mori?” Dazai turned his head to see Ranpo smirking at him, knowing that this was precisely the reaction he wanted from him. Dazai calmed himself, knowing that Ranpo wouldn’t do such a thing, so he let it go.

 

“Go fuck yourself, Ranpo.” He murmured, rolling away from him. Ranpo just shrugged, continuing to eat his chips in silence. 

 

Dazai rolled over to Atushi, who researched painting eras on the other side. Dazai peeked over for a moment before distracting him.

 

“Oh, Atsushi!” He sang loudly, making him jump out of his chair slightly.

 

“Yes, Dazai?” For some reason, he didn’t want to play anymore. He got up from his chair and cocked his head to the other directions, commanding him to come with him. Atushi obeyed, walking over to the next room with him.

 

“What’s wrong, Dazai? Is everything okay?” Dazai didn’t answer him; he only gave him a soft smile. He stayed silently, turning away from him as he walked through the different art in the gallery until he stopped at his newest one. 

 

“It’s beautiful… For some reason, I think this one is your best one yet. I think it really shows how much you really love him like he doesn’t have to try for you to be deeply in love with him… I wished I could have something like that one day….” Atsushi said, without realizing what he said. He looked over at Dazai, abruptly shaking his head.

 

“I’m sorry, Dazai… I know that you and Chuuya have had a lot of things going on and I really didn’t—”

 

“It’s okay… You’re right. He is so effortlessly beautiful, like a sunset, a sunrise, a full moon… Better yet, he’s like a star twinkling in the night sky… He’s always in the reflection of my eyes, waiting to be painted….” Dazai didn’t realize that he was still smiling, still looking at the painting, looking at all the different stories it told in one. 

 

Atsushi was puzzled for a moment, trying to decipher Dazai’s reaction, but there was nothing to interpret. He was just showing how he truly feels about the man he lost all those years ago. “Does it hurt a lot?” Dazai looked down, still not looking towards Atsushi to answer his question.

 

“Yeah… It hurts like hell… When I die, I want to be a star with him. Shining bright together, like diamonds.” 

 

“Don’t say that you’re going to die, please?” It pained Atsushi’s heart as he looked at how peaceful he was when staring at the painting. As he said that, he was longing and yearning for the thing he had been waiting for. 

 

“I hate it when you say things like that,” Atsushi said; only then did Dazai notice the tone in his voice, turning his attention away from the painting and back to him.

 

“Ah, don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere! Not until you get the right inspiration.” He patted Atsushi’s back, trying his best to comfort him the best he could. Dazai put his best fake smile on his face before walking away.

 

“Come on, Atsushi. We have to get to work before the scary Kunikida yells at us again.” Atsushi didn’t go right away, looking up to the painting being hypnotized by the red and blues that mixed together, making such a beautiful mixture of purple, like it was the night sky. What Dazai didn’t know— or didn’t realize— was that Chuuya was already a star. He was Dazai’s star. He was his muse, his inspiration for creating something beautiful. Atushi knew all this but didn’t say anything. He just looked at the moments that looked so hauntingly romantic that it even pained his own heart, almost shedding tears. Finally, he turned away— though difficult— and walked back to the other room with Dazai. 

—  

 

Chuuya looked down on his phone, seeing the many notifications once they were out of the area. He scrolled through the many heartwarming messages from Tachihara, Gin, and Higuchi. Chuuya smiled to himself as he listened to music. He softly hummed as he scrolled through the rest of his messages, finding an unknown number. He frowned, tapping the screen to the message.

 

Hi, Chuuya! It’s Paul, by the way. I do remember you! I would be glad to meet you again. I’m available Saturday if you would like to join me for a cup of coffee. This is my personal number, so feel free to call or text me whenever you land in Paris.’ Chuuya thinly smiled, typing out his reply to him.  ‘Hi. I’m leaving for the airport now, so I’ll see you on Saturday.’ Chuuya thought he should say something more, but he just pursed his lips and put his phone down, letting the songs echo in his mind as he stared out into the window. He was scared, trying his best not to show it. He knew that his therapist told him not to hide and that it was a good trait to have, but he couldn’t help but want to hide even more. He didn’t want people to know that he was still suffering. He didn’t want them to suffer because of him again; he had caused enough damage to the people around him he wasn’t going to bombard them with his misery. 

 

They finally stopped at the airport. Chuuya took out his earphones from his ears, looking at both Akutagawa and Kouyou, who looked worried and sad.

 

“Don’t look at me like that. I’m not going to die.” He laughed. He knew that they were both just as nervous as he was. He started to think about it not being a good idea for him to leave, but there was no turning back anymore. 

 

“We know, I just….” Kouyou didn’t finish her sentence and just smiled at him like her last seeing him. He smiled back at her, placing his hands on Akutagawa’s and her shoulders.

 

“I’ll be fine, guys. Don’t worry about me.” He knew it was impossible now. He had made them worry because of his own selfishness and addiction. But he tried not to think about it too much, knowing that he would go back to the drugs if he did. He didn’t want guilt to consume him more than it already did, knowing the horrors it did to Dazai, Oda, and Ango. He was now watching it happen to Kouyou and the rest of his friends because of him. Everything was his fault, and there was no point in turning back. He wanted to call Dazai one last time, but he knew it wouldn’t be wise of him to do that because if he had, he probably wouldn’t get on the plane and would just go to him instead. He needed to navigate things independently, just like he taught him. 

 

They got out of the car, Akutagawa handing him his suitcase as Kouyou hugged him tightly, giving him his passport. “Be safe. And call us if anything happens.” Chuuya just nodded his head at her, not telling her that he will and all that. She would know that he wouldn’t mean it. He turned his attention to Akutagawa, giving him a brief hug, and looked into his eyes, “Don’t forget about the letter.” Chuuya whispered to him. Akutagawa pursed his lips together, nodding his head.

 

“Alright, then. I’ll see you guys in a couple of weeks… Don’t wait up.” He waved goodbye to them, heading inside the airport.

 

It didn’t take him long to find a seat in an airplane heading towards Paris. He sat in his seat, plugging his earphones into his phone and listening to music as he looked out the window. Everything seemed brighter and more at ease when they were above the clouds. He wondered if he would go to heaven and if heaven looked like this— above the clouds, watching as the sunset down, leading into the night. He didn’t go to sleep, he wanted to look at the night sky and the stars— it’s not like he could sleep anyways. 

 

Before he knew it, they landed in Paris, watching the city light up under the sun. The soft wind caressed his skin, making him feel anew like this was just what he needed. He got a hotel room, laying in bed in exhaustion, but he still couldn’t sleep. He walked out on the balcony, watching the cars drive by roundabouts. He looked out into the distance, feeling like he was on top of the world. He began to wonder why he ever left Paris in the first place. This was his home; Yokohama wasn’t his home; even though he cherished the city, it was nothing compared to Paris. This was where he was raised, where his father found and raised him. Yokohama was just a city where he just found pure sadness and destruction. The only thing about him going to Yokohama was… Dazai. Chuuya sighed at the thought of him, finally taking out his cigarettes and began smoking. It was lively, but for some reason, no matter how relieved he felt, he was still sad and alone. It was like he was alone on the top of the world, looking down at everyone smiling and laughing with their family, friends, lovers. He was just there watching as he stood above them, alone. He didn’t belong anywhere, not Yokohama nor Paris. 

 

He began to cry, wondering if leaving was a good idea at all. It wasn’t him; leaving wasn’t something he was good at or enjoyed. He regretted it, but here he was now. There was no point in going back anymore. He aggressively wiped away his tears, headed back into the room, and ordered room service. He wanted to get drunk, even though he knew he shouldn’t because he had just got released from rehab. Still, he figured he was only there for cocaine and not alcohol. “An addict will always be an addict… Might as well pick up the same habit before the drugs, right? At least it wasn’t a problem then.” He forced himself to laugh aloud, but he could already feel the regret seize him, though he also didn’t care.

 

He grabbed the bottle of wine, already drunk, stumbling out the balcony again. He pulled out another cigarette watching the cars go around the roundabout like a neverending cycle. He started to laugh, thinking about it; how the cars just went in this neverending circle. He thought about it like it was his life, like it was just this neverending cycle of hurt and guilt. 

 

“That’s a good one!” He laughed out, pointing out to the sky. He was unsure why he was pointing at the night sky. Still, he was sure he was talking to God, or whatever higher power was up there, lurking, watching him ruin his life again and again. 

 

“Why can’t you just fucking let me live, huh? Why?!” The anger boiled inside of him, throwing the empty wine bottle across the room, hearing the glass shatter all over the floor. He didn’t know why he all of a sudden threw a fit, but he was sure that it was because he was still craving cocaine, and alcohol wasn’t cutting it for him. Tears streamed down his face, falling to his knees, looking up at the sky and moon. He was supposed to be happy; coming to Paris was supposed to make him happy, and he wasn’t. He wondered if this was how Dazai felt when he left if he was still miserable once he left, realizing that it wasn’t suitable for him. Chuuya understood that Dazai was happy when he painted, but aside from that, he couldn’t help but question if he was happy at all. 

 

“It was nice while it lasted….” He said quietly, lifting himself up from the ground. He walked towards his bed, looking at his phone. He had approximately fourteen hours until he met with Paul, and for the first time in his in months, he was tired. He didn’t know if it was because of the alcohol or because he was in Paris, but he was glad whatever it was. He finally rested his eyes, drifting to sleep. The nightmares didn’t stop coming, though, but he was at least a bit happy that he could sleep through them, letting the dark succumb him, not caring to fight it anymore… He was tired of fighting.



Dazai went out in the back, lighting a cigarette. He didn’t usually smoke during work, but he thought that due to the occasion, he deserved it. He looked down on his feet, wondering what Chuuya was doing now. He had hoped that Chuuya was at least safe, a bit happier. He figured that he would be nervous— who wouldn’t be. It was all uncertain, especially to Dazai. He finally looked up, watching the airplane fly by, he didn’t know why he smiled at it, but Dazai learned to stop asking questions about things he didn’t know anymore. 

 

“Dazai.” Ranpo opened the back door, interrupting Dazai’s train of thought.

 

“What?” Dazai flicked his cigarette onto the ground, stomping on it.

 

“You really should stop littering.” Dazai rolled his eyes, waiting for him to continue on.

 

“There’s a guy in all black asking for you. Said that he has something for you.” Dazai frowned, watching as Ranpo headed back inside. Dazai stood for a moment, looking up at the sky, seeing that the airplane had gone off again. 

 

Dazai walked inside the gallery, seeing Akutagawa staring at the paintings, particularly Atsushi’s artwork— which took Dazai some convincing him to display. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” Akutagawa looked at him and smiled; he looked starstruck, almost amazed at seeing Dazai again.

 

“I like your art.” The foolish smile didn’t leave his face. Dazai shook his head, looking up at the artwork, “No, it’s actually my apprentice’s art.” Akutagawa’s smile faded, looking at the painting once more. He took out an envelope from his coat pocket, handing it to him. “Chuuya told me to give this to you.” Without a second thought, Dazai snatched the envelope out of his hands, studying it. 

 

“How’d… How’d he look?” Dazai desperately looked up at him, needing to know how he was. He missed him terribly, but he wouldn’t dare say it to anyone aloud.

 

“He looked… better.” Dazai figured that Akutagawa was lying, trying to get him to stop worrying about him, but Dazai was always concerned about him. Even after he left, he worried about what he was doing, how he was coping with the pain that Dazai could not take anymore. He felt immense guilt for having left him in such a vulnerable state. Still, it didn’t quite hit him until he heard it from Chuuya’s own mouth that he despised Dazai for leaving him in such a state. It was his worst nightmare come true— although he knew it still hurt him. 

 

“Is he at least safe?” Dazai wanted to keep his questions minimal, not wanting to know too much, afraid that he might break his promise to Chuuya. He would gladly break it, though, but he didn’t wish Chuuya to despise him even more than he already did. 

 

“Yeah… He actually left for Paris, but he’ll be back in a couple of weeks.” Dazai wished he didn’t hear that. He knew that he would try everything in his power to stay away, yet it was in his nature to not. He always wanted to be close to him in any way he could. 

 

“Okay…” Dazai caressed his name on the envelope, showing that Chuuya’s handwriting was definitely. He wanted to read it, but he decided not to. He would probably have to get drunk afterward if he did, or, even worse, he would cry. 

 

“Well, you better get going. You know how Mori gets.” Akutagawa hummed, walking out of the gallery. Dazai could see the hurt in his eyes, still not being able to let go of Dazai’s new apprentice and his artwork. It was like he saw the mixture of admiration and jealousy that looked so familiar. Still, Dazai couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

 

“Hey, Dazai. Who was that guy?” Atsushi asked curiously. Dazai looked over at him, putting away the envelope in his pocket. 

 

“Just someone I used to work with. Anyway, how about we talk a walk?” Atsushi looked at him, confused. “Um, that’s great and all, but we’re still on the clock.” Dazai waved his hand, dismissing Atsushi’s concern.

 

“Kunikida will be fine. It’s not like there are many people there anyway.” Dazai pulled him out the door, walking in the direction of the cemetery.

 

“Where are you taking me, Dazai?” Dazai didn’t answer his question right away, still dragging him by arms.

 

“I want you to meet a friend of mine.” Dazai stopped, turning his head in Atsushi’s direction and smiling at him. He wanted to see his reaction before walking, this time side-by-side.

 

“Okay.” Atsushi nodded, following Dazai to wherever it was he was taking him. 

 

Atushi looked around the cemetery, a bit puzzled about what was going on, but he degreed from asking any questions. Dazai walked down the isle of tombstones, finally stopping at one under a tree.

 

“Atsushi, I want you to meet an important friend of mine. Oda, meet Atsushi.” Dazai paused, looking back at Atsushi, then back to Oda. “Atsushi, meet Oda.” Atsushi was unsure of what he should do, but the best thing he knew how was just to say hello.

 

“Hi.” He waved timidly. Dazai began to burst out laughing, “See, Oda, I told you he was funny!” Atsushi blushed from embarrassment, but also because Dazai talked about him. He didn’t really think anyone, especially Dazai, spoke about him with such admiration. 

 

“You talk about me?” Dazai stopped laughing, giving him a look that said he should think so lowly of himself— which he shouldn’t. He had been trying really hard not to, especially when it came to his artwork.

 

“Of course, I do! Ugh! Does Atsushi think all I talk about is just nonsense?” Atsushi squinched his face, ready to answer, but Dazai stopped him, “Don’t answer that. Anyway! This was my best friend, Odasaku, a genius writer and great advisor, and an even better caretaker.” Dazai smiled down at the tombstone, giving it a light pat. 

 

“I thought Chuuya was your best friend.” Dazai shook his head, “Chuuya was my lover. He was also a dear friend to me, but Oda was more… He was like a father to me when no one else was….” There was a melancholic silence, hearing the sounds of the wind blow through.

 

“What happened?” Atsushi couldn’t help but ask, even though he knew he would feel stupid for asking at all. 

 

“He killed himself four years ago.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Dazai waved his hand, acting like it was no big deal. “No, it’s fine. It was a long time ago.”

 

“I don’t think it is.” Dazai frowned, looking up towards Atsushi. “And what made you say that?” Atsushi paused for a moment, looking down at his feet then back up.

 

“Well, if you were over it, you wouldn’t really visit him, let alone bring me here if there wasn’t some sort of regret… But, I mean, I could be wrong! I just… There are not many people who regularly visit their deceased loved ones if they’re completely over it….” Dazai looked over at him in shock. He was stunned by him, that he could easily he through him without even realizing it. 

 

“Heh. You know, Atsushi, I think Oda would’ve loved to meet you. Ha! I think he would even like you better than me!” Atsushi didn’t know if he should take that as a compliment or not.

 

“I don’t think that’s true.” He smiled at Dazai, but Dazai’s face showed that he was serious. “No, I mean it. I would actually prefer him like you over me. You deserve it.” Atsushi’s heart broke at that moment, hearing Dazai show no signs of regret in his words. 

 

“There are many things I regret in life. I’ve said and done many things that I’m not proud of. I was mean and self-centered, but I guess that I still am… If you ever talk to Chuuya about what I’ve done when he and I were together, you would see that I wasn’t a good person. I tried to be different, for Oda’s sake, but I’m still that same old Dazai, according to everyone.” Atsushi raised his eyebrow, figuring out why Dazai was saying all this. 

 

“It sounds like you’re leaving, heh.” Atsushi tried to force out a small laugh, but as he studied Dazai’s silent face, he could tell that he meant it.

 

“Atsushi, can I ask you for a favor?” Atsushi’s lips quivered, unable to answer him. “When I die, can you make sure that I’m cremated? Leave some here with Oda. The rest… Well, just hold onto it and if Chuuya is still alive, give it to him. If he’s dead too, then spread my ashes wherever he is. I don’t want to be without either of them… I think the only way where I could have both of them is if I’m dead….” 

 

“Don’t say stuff like that, Dazai.” Dazai smiled at him, slowly drifting his eyes back to the sky, “I was always dreaming, always looking up at the sky, ever since I was a kid….” Dazai’s smile grew brighter, imagining his life after death. There was something beautiful in the atmosphere as Dazai looked up at the sky, but Atsushi couldn’t take it, wiping away his silent tears from his cheek.

 

“Please, don’t go.” He whispered quietly. He hoped that Dazai would hear him, but he didn’t. They stood there until the sunset disappeared into the dark.

 

“I have to go now… I’ll see you tomorrow, Atsushi.” Dazai patted his shoulder, smiling down at him, ignoring his puffy, watery eyes. Atsushi didn’t say anything. He just let him walk away. He found himself staring at Oda’s grave, trying to find the words to say anything, but he couldn’t. He didn’t want to lose Dazai. Just like Dazai didn’t wish Oda to die, he didn’t want Dazai to die. But there was no point in stopping him; changing his mind was inevitable. Atsushi sat beside Oda’s grave, silently sobbing, looking up at the sky. He tried to figure out what was so beautiful and dreamy about the atmosphere. He saw the moon in its glory and how bright it glowed… Until then, Atsushi understood what Dazai’s fascination was with it. But more importantly, he figured out why Dazai was so alone, despite him not being alone. He had lost Oda, and he was losing Chuuya. They meant everything to Dazai. Atsushi then concluded that Dazai could not take it if Chuuya was no longer with him. He could understand that, but he didn’t want to lose Dazai. Just like how Oda was like a father, Dazai was like a brother to him… But there was nothing more than he could do but obey his dying wish.

 

Dazai walked into his apartment, throwing off his shoes, heading towards his tiny kitchen, and opening a liquor bottle. Still, for some reason, he wanted wine. He never thought he would see the day that he craved wine. He let out a soft chuckle, grabbing a bottle that he usually saves for Yosano when she comes over. He drank from it, taking the fragrant bittersweetness of it. He took out the envelope from his pocket, studying it before tearing it open. He took a deep breath before unfolding the papers. He smiled at the beginning of the letter.

 

Dear Makral…

 

Without love, 

Slug

 

Then the next…

 

Dear Shithead…

 

Without love,

Hatrack 

 

Then the next…

 

Dear Asshole…

 

Without love,

Short stack

 

Then the next…

 

Dear Osamu…

 

With love,

Chuuya

 

Dazai had finished the last of the wine, feeling somewhat happy. He placed the letters back in the envelope, smiling down at it. It had been a while since Dazai genuinely laughed, but reading Chuuya’s letters about his days at rehab, about the therapist, about the people and staff at the rehab. The endless stories while there made him smile and laugh with delight. But one thing that made him happy the most was when he read that Chuuya wanted to see him. Dazai looked at his phone, setting the date in his mind. 

 

“Two weeks… His birthday…” 

 

 

Chuuya looked at himself in the mirror, trying to put on a fake smile. But everyone one of them seemed so vile, like it was some sort of monster and not himself. He groaned, taking out his flask taking a sip. His face twisted from the bitter burning sensation of the liquor going down his throat. He swiped his fingers under his eyebags, trying to make them disappear, but there they stayed for what seemed like forever. He rubbed his eyes with his palm, forcefully trying to get himself together. His blue eyes no longer looked dull since he quit doing drugs, but the eyes bags made him look even more tired and lethargic. It was not a good combination— vibrant blue eyes and sluggish dark circles. “I need to start doing eye masks.” He told himself as he continued to get ready. He brushed his hair, running his fingers through his soft curls as he combed his long hair before placing his father’s hat on. He looked down at the necklace, where the ring Dazai got for him was placed. He sighed, fiddling with it for a moment before tucking it into his shirt. He was nervous about meeting Paul, unsure of what would happen or what he might say to him. He knew his anger got the best of him at times, and he was somewhat angry at Paul. He thought that maybe if Paul didn’t leave his father, his father wouldn’t have been so charitable as to take him in. Although he was grateful for his father, he knew he didn’t deserve him. Maybe if his father didn’t take him in, then perhaps, just perhaps, he wouldn’t have to deal with the abandonment. Maybe he would have died on that doorstep, or he would have been placed in foster care, and he wouldn’t have met Dazai. Or perhaps he would have met him another way after Oda passed away. 

 

Many of these thoughts roamed his head as he continued to get ready, thinking that he could get some answers or maybe even advice. 

 

He walked out of the hotel, the afternoon sun burning down on him. The streets were just as busy as they were last night. He walked to the cafe, where he and Paul agreed to meet. He looked at the time on his phone, seeing that he would be a few minutes early, but he didn’t feel like roaming around. He figured that he would just walk there and wait for him to arrive, but as he made it there, he saw a man with long braided hair with strands of grey hair. He walked up to him, looking at him for a moment without his acknowledgment. 

 

“Paul?” He asked, making the man turn and smile, standing himself up from his chair. “Chuuya! It’s nice to finally meet you… Again.” He chuckled, shaking Chuuya’s hand and sitting back down. Chuuya sat across from him, looking at the busy streets. 

 

“I ordered some coffee for the both of us, but if you prefer tea then—” Chuuya shook his head, “No, it’s fine. I like coffee.” 

 

“Oh, well, if you prefer to sit indoors, then I could search for tables inside. I just picked whatever seat I saw.” He laughed again. Chuuya could see that he was just as nervous as him. “No, it’s fine. I actually like sitting outside.” Paul nodded his head. They fell silent, hearing only the cars go by on the busy streets, but Paul finally spoke up.

 

“You told me that you wanted to meet me… Why? I assume that Arthur told you everything.” Chuuya shrugged, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. Before he could answer him, they got their coffees and fell silent once more. 

 

“Well… It did take him a long time to confess to me about his past, but yeah, he did… To be honest, I don’t know why I reached out to you either. I guess I wanted to talk to someone who knew him as well as I did.” Paul‘s lips started to quiver, “Did?” Chuuya knew what he was saying, nodding his head.

 

“He died four years ago… He had an immune deficiency… Apparently, they caught it too late….” Chuuya took a drag of his cigarette, playing with the rim of his coffee mug. He didn’t want to look up at Paul, afraid that he might see the hurt in his eyes. He knew he was crying or about to cry, but he didn’t want to see it. 

 

“I’m… I’m sorry.” Paul sniffled, wiping his tears away. 

 

“I guess I was too late.” Chuuya frowned, forcing himself to look up at Paul. “What do you mean by that?” Chuuya asked him.

 

“Well, a few years after I last saw him, I finally told my wife about myself and about Arthur and how I was still in love with him. Of course, she got angry with me, left me right then and there, and took my boys with her. I hadn’t seen them in years. Heh. Maybe if I didn’t lie to myself at all, then I could have been with your father, and I could have lost everyone I loved because of my foolishness.” Chuuya hummed, understanding what he meant.

 

“Yeah. I wished that you would have… Ha! This reminds me of someone.” Chuuya smiled to himself, taking a sip of his coffee.

 

“May I ask whom?” Chuuya didn’t answer right away. He looked up at the sky, trying to find some hint in Dazai within the parting clouds. 

 

“There’s this guy I love. He’s such a fucking prick and just an overall asshole… But I love him. He left me because he couldn’t handle his emotions. I guess he somewhat regrets hiding because he lost a lot of people he loved too.” A pain fluttered into his heart, swaying every emotion within him, but he just held it in for that moment. 

 

“Do you know if he misses you?” Chuuya laughed a bit, flicking away the ashes from his cigarette.

 

“Even though he won’t admit it, I know he does. Vice versa. I wouldn’t admit it either, but he knew.” Paul nodded his head, taking a sip of his own coffee.

 

“I’m sorry, you were talking about telling your then-wife that you were gay after years of marriage and two kids.” They both laughed. It was funny, though. Chuuya supposed that Paul finally realized how obscure it was for him to hide for so long that it cost him not seeing his old lover— whom he loved and still loved. 

 

“Yes. After I told her, I went to go looking for him. I found that he was a ballet instructor, and I would often pass by his class, looking at him through the window, but I was afraid to even go in and speak to him. It was then that I finally got the courage to do it that I found out that he had moved to Japan with you to go to this school there. I thought I for sure lost him until I got a letter from you that my hope finally lifted only to find out that he died….” Chuuya didn’t say anything, he wanted to regret telling him, but there was no point hiding it. 

 

“Yeah, sorry about that.” Paul shook his head, “No, you shouldn’t be sorry. I should be the one that is.” 

 

“When my father was on his deathbed, he told me about you. He told me how he still loved you too after all those years, despite everything.” Chuuya could see Paul’s eyes go glossy again from the tears. 

 

“He was… He was the only man that actually made me feel like I could do anything. He made me feel alive like every bad memory I had was all wiped away from my memory because of him.” Paul began to cry even harder, taking a napkin and drying his tears. Chuuya wanted to cry, but it seemed like he had non to spare anymore.

 

“He also told me that you shouldn’t cry either. I think he hated it when people cried for him. He said we shouldn’t be sad anymore because he was dancing again in heaven… Heh.” Chuuya thought it was funny how his father talked about the concept of heaven. Telling everyone that he was going there despite being a gay man. It was father’s way of saying fuck you to the whole ‘homosexuality being an abomination to nature.’ Paul laughed too, thinking of the same thing.

 

“Ha! This one time, your father volunteered at this hospital, helping out during the AIDS crisis. This nurse told him that he was going to hell because he was also gay, and he just told her that he was actually going to heaven just because she said that to him.” Chuuya began to laugh loudly, never hearing this story before. He thought it was lovely. He finally figured that this was why he wanted to talk to Paul; he did want to talk about his father and share stories about him.

 

“He was a tough one, your Dad. He may have seemed soft and timid, but he was actually the strongest man I have ever known… He raised you all on his own, and I think he did a pretty good job at it too.” Chuuya wished he could take the compliment, but he just remembered all the fucked up shit he had done to himself in the last few years.

 

“Yeah, but I wasn’t a good of a son.” He didn’t mean to say it aloud, but there was no going back now.

 

“How so?”

 

“Remember how I told you that I would tell you everything when I got here?” Paul nodded his head, “Well, I was in rehab. I started doing cocaine three years ago, and it got worse in the last few months that I overdosed… I never told anyone this, but I could have sworn I saw my father when I was overdosing. He was telling me how, no matter how much I was fucking up my life, he was still proud of me. But that made me want to die, but, of course, he wouldn’t let me… I’m not a good son, nor am I a good partner… Dazai came to visit me, and I just pushed him away, thinking that I would be better off without him. Still, to be completely honest, I’m utterly miserable without him… I don’t want to end up like my father… I don’t want to die alone.” Paul understood precisely where Chuuya was coming from. He felt the same way.

 

“You are a good son. Trust me, I’m not the most high-value person either. Heh. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m not proud of, and I regret many things, but letting your father go was my biggest regret.” 

 

“I’m mad at you because of that, you know?” Chuuya lit another cigarette, finishing the last of his coffee.

 

“And you have every right to be mad. I think my own anger at myself isn’t enough… Can I have a cigarette?” Chuuya handed him one, giving him a light. “Thank you… Hm! Seems like you and your father have the same taste in cigarettes.” Chuuya smiled at that, “Why, not a fan?” 

 

“No, not in the slightest. But they remind me of him, so I’ll smoke as much as I can just to remember him.” All of a sudden, Chuuya had gotten an idea. He clutched onto his chest, feeling the ring underneath his shirt.

 

“Hey, Paul, you think we can go so somewhere after this?” Paul nodded his head, finishing his cup of coffee.

 

“Where?” He asked.

 

“Do you know where I can buy a custom ring?” Paul smiled at him, nodding his head, “Yes, I do.” Chuuya smiled back at him, “So, while you wait for me to finish this god-awful cigarette, tell me about this Dazai guy. Where’d you first meet him?” Chuuya smiled, wiping his fingers on his lips as he recollected the memories.

 

“It all started when I was moving into my dorm at the academy in Yokohama. I was fifteen, and he was fourteen about to turn fifteen….”

Chapter Text

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Vincent Van Gogh. 

 

Chuuya packed the last of his things to head back to Yokohama. He had spent the two weeks hanging out with Paul, talking about his father, going to music stores, going to cafes and gay bars. Chuuya had to admit that he did have some fun, but the lingering sadness persisted inside him, never halting itself. He was glad that he could get a couple of happy memories out of it. He sighed to himself, looking at the time on his phone. Paul had volunteered to drop him off at the airport, although he didn’t want him to, Paul was as stubborn as him. 

 

‘I’m outside the hotel.’ Paul had texted him. Chuuya closed his suitcase, gripping the handle tightly. He was nervous about going back to Japan. Still, he was even more worried about seeing Dazai again after all that time with no contact with him— if he was going to see him at all. He reached to his pocket, feeling on the jewelry box with the ring he had bought him. It was similar to his— a platinum ring with his name on it. 

 

Chuuya walked about the door, greeted by Paul, “You look nervous.” 

 

“Well, you would be too if you were going to meet the love of your life again after fucking things up….” Paul looked at him, knowing his words all too well.

 

“Yeah, I would be.” Chuuya knew that Paul wished to feel that nervousness again, to see his father just once more. 

 

“Maybe I’ll visit you in Yokohama one day.” 

 

“Yeah… Maybe.” They stood in silence. Chuuya embraced the city once more before getting into the car, feeling the fresh air through his hair.

 

“You’re going to miss it?” Paul asked. “Maybe a little, but I have a life back in Japan, so….” 

 

“By life, you mean Dazai, right?” Chuuya laughed a bit, not answering the question. He deflected by putting his suitcase in the back of the car.

 

“You ready to go, old man?” Paul gasped in horror, “Old man? How dare you? I am more healthy than you with your cancerous lungs and the poor thing you call a liver.” Chuuya laughed, even more, getting into the car.

 

Paul stopped in front of the airport, taking a deep breath in. “Well, this is it.” 

 

“Yeah, it is.” Chuuya didn’t want to go, but he had loyalties to fulfill.

 

“I’m glad I met you, Chuuya… I’m glad that I was able to spend some time with you. And thank you for acting the role of a son to me.” Chuuya smiled, “And thank you for acting like a father to me… I think I needed it.” Paul squeezed Chuuya’s shoulder, bringing him into a hug. 

 

“I hope that one day, you’ll fulfill whatever it is that you’re seeking in life.” They parted, but Chuuya still felt uneasy. “It sounds like you’re saying goodbye forever.” Paul sighed, looking forward, pulling out a cigarette. 

 

“Well, for some odd reason, I think it’ll be the last… You are quite predictable. You know that?” Chuuya’s smile faded, trying to gather the words he wanted to say, but Paul beat him to it.

 

“You should get going, the next flight doesn’t leave until tomorrow night, and I think you’d want to be with your loved ones by then.” 

 

“Yeah… It’s going to be my birthday, so I guess some company is good.”

 

“Happy early birthday then.” Chuuya smiled, taking off his hat and looking at his father’s name inside it. “Here.” He handed Paul the hat, but he looked confused.

 

“No, it’s yours. Your father gave it to you and—”

 

“Just take it, damn it. He would be more than happy if I gave it to you.” Paul reluctantly grabbed onto it, looking at the name, running his fingers on the yellow sewing.

 

“Thank you.” He had tears in his eyes, bringing him in for one last hug. 

 

“I’ll see you soon.” Paul wiped the tears from his eyes as they parted, nodding his head and smiling. Chuuya didn’t want to admit it, but he knew that it would be his last time seeing Paul, but he didn’t want to tell him that, afraid that he might try and stop him from getting on the plane entirely. 

 

Chuuya waved goodbye as Paul rode off. He was hesitant to go into the airport, but his feet began to shift before he knew it. He didn’t remember how he even got on the plane, but he was in his seat, watching the as the plane took off through the window. It was a beautiful to watch the white clouds underneath him as the sunset created this orange and purple hue. He thought of Dazai at that moment as he listened to music, hearing the same song play through his earphones. He remembered how he thought of him when he listened to this song as he was staring out his window in his father’s house after they got into this big fight. Chuuya smiled at the recollection, thinking about how nothing had ever really changed after all that time. Chuuya liked the thought of it; no matter how much time they spent apart, nothing changed between them. Like their love was a continuum of unfortunate events, creating beautiful memories together, it didn’t matter how painful it was or how loving it was. They were all beautiful in Chuuya’s eyes.

 

Dazai tapped his fingers on his desk, aimlessly daydreaming. “Dazai!” Kunikida yelled at him. He groaned as he spun around in his chair, “Yes, Kunikida?” 

 

“Do some goddam work and stop daydreaming. We have an exhibition coming up in a couple of weeks.” Dazai didn’t feel like putting his mask up today, knowing that in an hour, he would be gone. 

 

“Fine…” 

 

“And don’t give me that— Wait. What?” Kunikda rushed to him in shock as Dazai turned to his computer and began to work.

 

“I said fine.” Kunikida stood in shock, trying to inspect him further to see if anything was wrong with him. The taller man just sighed, laying a hand on Dazai’s shoulder.

 

“Listen, I know I may not be nice all the time, but I really do respect you. You have a real talent, and I hate seeing it go to waste because your so goddam lazy….” Dazai smiled up at him, taking a pause from his work.

 

“I never knew Kunikida could be so sentimental. How sweet!” Kunikida rolled his eyes, tapping Dazai’s forehead with his notebook.

 

“Get back to work, you lazy ass!” Dazai smiled even more as he watched him walk away, turning back to his work and counting the minutes until he got to see Chuuya again.

 

Chuuya looked at the sunset, seeing the colors transform the sky into a beautiful hue of orange. He sat under the garden tree, running his fingers through the cold grass, staring at the blooming flowers. He didn’t expect Dazai to come, or rather he didn’t get his hopes up when it came to Dazai, knowing that he was as unpredictable as they come. Still, something inside of him told him to stay, at least until the stars became visible to him. 

 

“I thought I might find you here.” Chuuya’s eyes widened, looking up at Dazai, who was huffing. He ran to him. Chuuya didn’t want to smile, trying his best to hide it from him, but as he tried to hide it, he began to feel the hot tears spill from his eyes.

 

“You came?” 

 

“I’ll always come back to you.” Chuuya silently cried harder, turning away from Dazai’s gaze, looking back to the sky. Dazai gave his hand, helping Chuuya up from the ground.

 

“What happened to the hat?” Dazai immediately question. Chuuya wiped his tears and shrugged, “Gave it to someone who needed it more than I did.” Dazai hummed, looking at the flowers. 

 

“The camellia flowers really did bloom.” Dazai analyzed. “Yeah, they really are pretty. Nice and red.” Chuuya further examined, walking over to them. He plucked one and twirled it around.

 

“They always sort of reminded me of you.” Chuuya chuckled, giving the flower to Dazai. “Thanks for the compliment….” 

 

“So, how was rehab?” Dazai wanted to avert the awkwardness between them, uncertain of where this meeting would lead them to. “Tsk! Shit… But it was okay, I guess. Withdrawl was a bitch. And who knew that withdrawals have long-term side effects.” 

 

“Oh? How so?” Dazai knew what the long-term effects were, but he had this small trickle of hope that Chuuya didn’t have to go through that, at least not for long. Chuuya didn’t answer, looking up to the sky to see the stars becoming slowly visible.

 

“Let’s get something to eat. I’m hungry.” Chuuya walked past him. Dazai looked as he walked away from him, but his feet were stuck to the ground. He didn’t want to lose Chuuya, and watching him walk away was a torturous sight for him to see. He finally understood how Chuuya must’ve felt when he left so many times, always watching him leave him behind in the dark. He felt so guilty for everything that he had done to him.

 

“Hey, Mackerel! Coming or not?” Dazai observed him as Chuuya turned to him, waiting for him. It then hit Dazai that Chuuya would always wait for him to come to him, no matter how long it took. Dazai smirked at the flower in his hand, stuffing it in his pocket, walking towards Chuuya. “You really are such a loyal dog.”

 

“Ugh! You’re still with that shit?!” Chuuya punched his arm, making Dazai cry out in pain. 

 

“Ow! I see that rehab didn’t have any anger management programs.” Chuuya laughed, shaking his head.

 

“Nope! They did have therapy and a bunch of horses.” 

 

“Horses? Really?” Dazai knew that horses were a therapeutic thing for addicts. Still, he never really thought Chuuya would take a liking to them.

 

“Yeah. Surprisingly, they are actually very helpful despite all the shit.” They both laughed as they walked down the street aimlessly. They didn’t know where they were headed, but they unconsciously decided on the restaurant they were familiar with. 

 

“I guess we’re back the same old shit, huh?” Chuuya said, staring at the restaurant. 

 

“Yeah. I guess we’re so familiar with it that we just—”

 

“Just shut up. I’m starving.” Chuuya cut Dazai off, walking into the restaurant. Dazai smiled at Chuuya, watching him as he talked to the hostess. He looked like how he remembered him all those years ago. His eyes were more vibrant now than the last time he saw him. His hair looked more colorful and soft than it already did. His skin was more beautiful, showing the faint freckles on his face. Dazai had always admired them, seeing how from afar you could barely tell that he had any, but if you got close enough, you could see them. It made Dazai feel good to see him, like every moment with him was a reason for him to live. Every time he was with him, he felt alive. 

 

They sat in their seats, taking the menu from the waitress, “Oh, Miss! Today’s the little man’s birthday today!” Dazai announced cheeringly.

 

“No, please. You don’t—”

 

“May we have a chocolate cake for him. He absolutely loves it!” The waitress giggled at them. Chuuya blushed from embarrassment. He could tell that the waitress thought that they were cute, but even more so that Dazai called him little. She rushed out of their way. Chuuya glared at Dazai, waiting for him to say something clever.

 

“What? It is your birthday.”

 

“And I don’t like chocolate cake. You like chocolate cake.” Dazai rolled his eyes, “Does that mean I can have it?” Chuuya smiled briefly, hiding his smile away from him. “God, I really hate you.” 

 

“Aw! I really hate you too, Chuuya.” Despite Dazai’s words, Chuuya saw that he didn’t mean it. The way he said it was like he was longing for him, yearning for him, waiting to say that to him at any chance he got. They stared at each other silently, watching as both their longing was taking over them. Dazai reached his hand out to him, waiting for him to take it. Chuuya examined the restaurant for a moment before looking back at Dazai’s hand and taking it. Dazai caressed his thumb across his skin, feeling the smoothness that it still had, never fading away. 

 

“I really did miss you.” Chuuya’s voice cracked, trying his best to contain the lump in his throat from coming out in the form of tears. 

 

“I….” Dazai struggled a bit, trying to say the words he wanted to say to him.

 

“You don’t have to say it. I know.” Dazai smiled at him, but he still wanted to say it, but it made him more at ease that he didn’t have to say anything at all to make Chuuya know precisely what he was thinking.

 

“I missed you too.” Chuuya was shocked for a moment. He didn’t think that Dazai would be able to tell him, but he did. Chuuya let out a small laugh, tightening his grip on Dazai’s hand.

 

“God! After so many years, I finally got you to say something vulnerable.” 

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you make a big fuss about it, it’ll be the last.” Little did Dazai know— or didn’t want to think about— was that Chuuya was completely fine with that. “I’m not making a big fuss about it. You’re the one that represses all your fucking emotions until they blow up in your face.” 

 

“Whatever!” 

 

“Whatever!” Chuuya mocked him, laughing even more as Dazai took his hand away, crossed his arms, and pouted. 

 

“Chuuya is so mean to me. Maybe I won’t give you your birthday present after all.”

 

“That’s fine. Maybe I won’t give you the present I bought for you when I was in Paris, then.” Dazai paused his whining, “Ugh! Fine!” Dazai threw his hands up in defeat.

 

“Yeah, I thought so,” Chuuya smirked in victory. “I wonder who could have taught you to use such a good manipulating tactic like that?” Chuuya knew that the question Dazai was asking was rhetorical, but he decided to answer anyway.

 

“Well, I learn from the best.” Dazai watched his reflection in Chuuya’s eyes like they were a mirror, seeing how he widely grinned inside of them like he was staring back at the ocean’s reflection.

 

“I wonder what else you could have learned from me?” Dazai meant it more as a joke, but it came out to be a genuine question, but Chuuya caught on.

 

“Oh, lots! For example, sucking dick.” They both burst out laughing, trying to contain themselves from the people watching them, thinking they were rude. But they didn’t care. They were happy. 

 

They laughed the whole time that they were there, eating and drinking. Hearing the staff members singing Happy Birthday to Chuuya. Dazai wanted to capture the moment of Chuuya blowing out the candle, making his heart jump from watching him. It reminded him of the many birthdays they had spent together at the dorm and in their old shit apartment, watching each other blow out candles from store-bought cupcakes with a small candle on top. Dazai—  although painful to think about— could never regret those memories. They were a part of him, something that couldn’t be detachable. Dazai then pictured himself as an old man, thinking about Chuuya, telling whoever would listen about Chuuya while he was on the brink of death. No matter how painful those times were, he would never be able to forget Chuuya. Even if this was the last time they would see each other, Dazai would still keep him engraved in his memory alive through his art. Dazai took a deep breath in, clenching his jaw to stop himself from letting out his tears. He didn’t want Chuuya to go from his memory; he didn’t want to grow old and tell his memories about him. He wanted to stay like this, forever. 

 

They walked in circles in a park, unaware of the time. But time didn’t matter to them anymore. They wouldn’t rest until it was time to part, but, of course, they didn’t want that. They wanted to stay up, thinking that this would somehow make them be together forever. 

 

“So, where to next?” Chuuya asked, but Dazai didn’t have an answer for him. Chuuya looked up at him. Dazai looked up at the sky, watching the stars twinkle.

 

“Can we go back to your apartment… I kind of miss watching the city lights under the stars.” Chuuya smiled, grabbing onto his hand gently kissing his palm. He buried his face in his hand, embracing his touch for a moment before dragging him to his apartment.

 

They walked into the dark home. Dazai missed the smell of Chuuya, making the home feel like home to him. He forgot how warm it felt, like a shelter from a typhoon. Chuuya always had a way of making something feel like a home like he belonged there. He loved how no matter how long he had been gone, he would always have a place here, in Chuuya’s arms… Chuuya was his home. 

 

They walked over to the balcony, soaking in the scenery. “I have to confess something to you.” Dazai suddenly said.

 

“What? You don’t really have a gift for me?” Dazai jokingly gasped. “How’d you know?” 

 

“I figured your dumbass wouldn’t have been so selfless. Going out of your way just to get me a gift? Yeah, that’s not really your style.” Dazai wanted to kiss him, but he just smiled down at him as he lit his cigarette.

 

“You know me too well.” He whispered to himself, but Chuuya heard him, yet he didn’t say anything.

 

“I chose this apartment back then because I wanted us to have a balcony. Somewhere where we could look up at the stars together… Forever.” Chuuya pursed his lips together, glancing over at Dazai.

 

“Hm. I figured, but I’m not complaining, though. It’s a beautiful sight… But I liked it better when it was in your painting.” Dazai’s heart began to thump loudly in his chest, unable to hear the commotions of the nightlife underneath them. 

 

“I’m… I’m sorry.” Chuuya frowned, looking over at Dazai to see if he heard right.

 

“What?” 

 

“I’m sorry, Chuuya… For everything, and I mean that… You didn’t deserve all that shit. You didn’t deserve all the shit I put you through.” Chuuya looked down at his feet, trying to gather his thoughts. He had always imagined the things he would have said to Dazai if Dazai ever apologized to him. Still, now that it was happening, he wasn’t so sure anymore.

 

“Well, I wasn’t a saint either… We put each other in hell… Do you regret it, though?” Dazai shook his head, “Not in the slightest.” 

 

Chuuya sighed, extinguishing his cigarette into the ashtray. “We were kids. We didn’t know any better… We… We were just so caught up in a lot of other shit that we couldn’t love each other properly.” 

 

“Do you think that we’ll be able to love each other properly now?” Dazai asked, although he already knew the answer. But he wanted to see if there was some kind of hope for them, any kind of hope at all. Chuuya looked up at him, trying to hold in his tears, but failed, feeling the streams go cold from the air hitting his face. 

 

“Don’t make me say it, Osamu.” Dazai held in his tears as well, reaching his hand to his cheek, gently caressing his face with his thumb. “Tell me.” 

 

“No… I don’t.” Chuuya croaked out. Dazai could feel Chuuya’s tears drip onto his hand. It somehow sent signals to his heart, pulling every string it had in him to force the tears to roll down his own face. 

 

“Then, let’s make the most of tonight.” Chuuya forced a smile, nodding his head, pulling Dazai down to kiss him. Dazai had missed every inch of Chuuya. He missed his touch, the way his lips caressed every inch of his skin, igniting every inch of his body, making it burn with desire. Dazai didn’t want to let him go. It hurt to know that he would probably never see him again. Despite the feeling of fulfillment whenever Chuuya touched him, the lingering thought of never being touched by him again tortured Dazai.

 

“I love you,” Chuuya said in a quivering voice. Chuuya couldn’t look at Dazai, letting the tears fall onto his bare chest, but Dazai didn’t say anything. He just reached his hand to Chuuya’s face again, wiping away the tears as he felt his drip from the corner of his eyes. He pulled him down to him more, despite how painful it was for both of them. 

 

Dazai tried to remember every inch of Chuuya’s body, studying it over and over again through his fingertips just so he won’t forget it. He would rather kill himself than forget the image of Chuuya. He already forgot what Oda looked like, but he would be damned if he ever forgot how Chuuya looked like. 

 

Chuuya missed everything about Dazai; he missed the may his lips touched his— as well as every place on his skin. He missed the way his touch was so delicate and gentle with him, gently admiring him and caressing every inch of him; his neck, legs, hands, arms, and back. Everything.

 

It was the sweetness of the tears dripping onto each other’s skin that made it feel like this moment could last a lifetime, but all good things come to an end…

 

They laid side by side, looking back at one another, caressing each other’s faces, staring at one another. They were not sleepy, wanting to stay up, afraid that they would lose each other with a blink of an eye.  

 

“I’m scared, Dazai….” 

 

“I know.” Dazai wiped away the tears from Chuuya’s puffy eyes, feeling his eyelashes softly flutter against his fingertips. Chuuya grabbed his hand, kissing his palm, before getting up. “Where are you going?” Dazai asked.

 

“Relax, I’m not you.” Dazai knew he deserved that, but it still hurt to be reminded of it, embarrassed at the littlest flaw within him. Chuuya rummaged through his clothes on the floor, finding what he needed. He pulled out a small black box, tossing it over to Dazai.

 

“Open it,” Chuuya commanded as he climbed back into bed. 

 

“Oh, Chuuya is so bossy.” Dazai teased. He grabbed the box, opening it to see the ring resembling the one wrapped around his neck. Dazai took the ring out of the box, taking a closer look at it, seeing Chuuya’s name engraved inside of it. He smiled, looking over at Chuuya, who was undoing his necklace, taking the ring out of its loop. 

 

“Now, you’ll never forget me.” Dazai wanted to tell him that no matter what, he’d never be able to forget him, but he kept silent, letting the moment be. Dazai set the ring back in the box, reaching out and taking Chuuya’s ring.

 

“Hey—” Chuuya shut his mouth as Dazai reached for his hand, placing the ring on his finger.

 

“You do it to me now.” Dazai gave the box to him, his fingers playfully wiggling, waiting for him to place the ring on his finger too.

 

“Tsk! You’re so—”

 

“Annoying? Relentless? Aggravating? I know. Now put it on.” Chuuya rolled his eyes, talking the ring out from the box. He grabbed Dazai’s wiggling fingers, putting the ring on his finger. Chuuya caressed his finger, feeling the smooth ring on his finger. Their fingers intertwined together, holding each other’s hand. They stayed like that for a moment as they cherished the sight of their matching hands.

 

“C’mon…” Dazai said, taking his hand out of Chuuya’s grasp. He got out of bed, putting his clothes back on. It was still dark out, but it would soon be morning.

 

“Where are we going?” Chuuya asked curiously.

 

“I want to go for a walk. Watch the sunrise with you. One last time.” Chuuya smiled at him softly, huffing out a gentle laugh, watching him for a bit before he got ready as well.

 

The night was cold. There was hardly anyone out anymore besides businessmen and women coming from the bars and clubs. But other than that, it was a silent night. The stars still shined bright upon them, along with the moon, as they walked hand in hand, sharing a cigarette together like they usually did. This was the life they had both wanted for so long; a peaceful, silent night where there was no worry, no thought about anything other than them. The night was just them. No orchestra, no Mori, no Fyodor, no drugs, no alcohol, nothing. 

 

It hurt Dazai on the inside to know that this night would be their last, that this night was everything they had ever wanted together, that there would be no more nights like this with him anymore. 

 

They didn’t know where they were headed, but that didn’t matter; the only thing that mattered was that they were together. They didn’t realize where they were headed until they tasted the salty air, hearing the ocean waves. They looked at each other and smiled. It was like they communicated silently, racing up the cliff, seeing the beauty of the night sky reflect on the ocean. It reminded Chuuya of Dazai’s eyes, seeing the reflections from the sky beam down from the water. Chuuya watched in awe at how beautiful the sight was. But Dazai couldn’t take his eyes off Chuuya. He was the only thing that Dazai was admiring this time.

 

“Wow.” Chuuya gasped for air, the scenery taking his breath away.

 

“Yeah… Wow.” Dazai didn’t take his eyes off Chuuya, reaching his hand to his face, turning him to him. He kissed him with such passion, pressing his lips harder against his before slowly parting away from him.

 

“Seems like you fell for my tactics,” Dazai said. Chuuya forced a smile to him, laying his head on his chest, hearing the soft rhythm of his heart. They stayed silent, hearing the ocean waves hit the rocks from beneath them. 

 

“Dazai?” 

 

“Hm?” 

 

“I have to tell you something.” Chuuya looked up at him. No matter how much Dazai wanted to believe that it was something good, he could tell by looking into Chuuya’s eyes that it was going to hurt him just as much as it hurt him.

 

“Bark, then.” Dazai teased, trying to ease the tension. Chuuya gave him a light smack on his chest before laying his head back on his chest again. He could tell Dazai was nervous by the change of rhythm of his heart, but he decided to say it anyway.

 

“Do you want to know when the first time I did drugs was?” Dazai didn’t say anything; he would rather not say anything at all, knowing that it would ruin the moment if he did.

 

“It wasn’t three years ago… It was when I left you to go see my Dad when he was sick that one time, where you got so angry with me… I couldn’t take all the pain with my Dad, and you were causing me… I guess I couldn’t take it anymore that I stole his fucking painkillers… When I got back to the dorm and found you drunk off your ass, I just felt so guilty about everything… It was like I couldn’t win.”

 

“Why are you telling me all this?” Dazai said flatly. He knew it would hurt him, but he didn’t know how much it would hurt to see that he had caused Chuuya so much pain and guilt from being selfish and his father’s sickness. 

 

“I don’t know… I guess I don’t want to leave you thinking that you’re the whole reason why I ended up the way I ended up.” Dazai separated himself from Chuuya, grabbing his shoulders and looking into his bright eyes.

 

“But I did, Chuuya….” Chuuya shook his head calmly. “No, you didn’t… I didn’t like the way it made me feel because I realize now that you were the reason to make me feel like I was alive in this world. Was it good to drift away for the moment? Yeah, but it made me feel even worse… It was always you, Dazai. You make me feel good. Not the drugs….” Chuuya smiled up at him, but Dazai shook his head.

 

“Are you going to relapse after this?” Dazai asked calmly, trying to contain whatever nervousness he had within him. Chuuya’s smile dropped from his face, hanging his head low.

 

“Yeah…” He answered. Dazai took a deep breath; his breath was shaky, wiping his eyes before any tears could drip down.

 

“And it’ll be because of me again.” Chuuya shook his head again, “No, it won’t, Dazai… I was damned from the moment I walked into that restroom, okay? You make me feel alive, but addiction is a bitch to beat, okay? I did it because of my mother. Honestly, I just can’t handle being left alone again, whether you, my Dad, my mother, Kouyou, or anyone! I just can’t handle being left alone by anyone, okay? It’s not just you, Dazai… It’s everyone… But you were the only one to make me feel like I had something worth living for.” Dazai didn’t want to hear it, continuing to blame himself again and again in his head.

 

“We can leave. Right now. We can go anywhere you want, okay? We can go to Paris, buy a house over there. We can get married, we can have children, we can… Please… Just don’t.” Chuuya looked away from him, looking out into the ocean. The night sky was slowly disappearing into the light. 

 

“I can’t. I can’t leave the concert hall… You know that.” 

 

“Please, Chuuya… For me?” Chuuya looked back at him, not answering him, but Dazai knew the answer already.

 

“I can’t.”  

 

“Then, I don’t want to leave you. Not again.” Chuuya didn’t say a word, just looked down at the cliff, then back at him.

 

“I can’t let you do that, Dazai… I can’t see the unhappiness in your eyes anymore… I can’t watch you get consumed over the guilt anymore. As much as I don’t want you to leave, I have to let you go.” Dazai began to whimper, feeling the heat from his tears warm his face from the cold air.

 

“Please, Chuuya… I can’t let you kill yourself. Not you, too. Please, not you, too.” Dazai pleaded to him, but Chuuya just looked away from him, watching the sun slowly raise itself to the sky. 

 

“I wished we could have met after my Dad died, after Oda died. You could have stayed a painter, and I could have stayed a violinist. Maybe then, we could have been happy….” Chuuya blankly stared at the ground, 

 

“Please? Chuuya, please?” Dazai pleaded once more. Still, Chuuya did not look at him, staring to the sky, back at the bottom of the cliff.

 

“Die with me, then?” Chuuya asked. The tears began to drip from his eyes, looking back at the sky.

 

Dazai stopped crying, looking at Chuuya. He then realized that this was the only way that he would be able to have it all. That was the only way, he could be happy without losing one more person he cared about. He would no longer feel guilty; he would no longer have the burden of having Chuuya and Oda gone. He would die anyway if that was the case.

 

“Okay.” Chuuya turned to look at him, forcing a smile on his face as he cried. The sun shone down on his face, making his hair glow even brighter, his eyes becoming clearer than Dazai had known before. This was something that they had both wanted, silently agreeing that this was the life that they were bound to have together. This was their happy ending in a world where they knew they couldn’t be happy alive. 

 

They grabbed onto each other, giving each other a kiss one last time. They pressed their foreheads against each other, silently crying to one another. Their steps slowly walked over to the edge. They could feel each other’s hesitance, but they just grabbed onto each other more tightly, shaking from nervousness. The sun was not burning onto them, their tears becoming hot from the warmth of the sun, falling over to the Earth, letting themselves give in to gravity. And finally, the vision went black, no longer seeing the sky’s reflection onto the ocean. No longer hearing the waves of the sea slashing onto the rocks. No longer tasting the saltiness of the air… No longer feeling the weight of guilt that planted on their shoulders as if they were carrying the world… Finally, at peace from all the pain. 

 

Atsushi walked into work, looking around for Dazai, but he was no wasn’t around. “Hey, Ranpo, have you seen Dazai around?” He asked, but Ranpo just shrugged his shoulders, shaking his head. Atsushi frowned. He knew it was not uncommon for Dazai to disappear, but for Ranpo to not know where he was out of the ordinary. 

 

“Kunikida, has Dazai come by?” Kunikida just sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, “No, he hasn’t, but if you find him, tell him to get his ass to work!” Atsushi groaned, hoping to see Dazai around so he could show him the newest painting he decided to put up in the new exhibition. He sighed, walked to his desk, and began working, but the thought of Dazai didn’t stop shaking from his mind. Then out of the corner of his eye, he saw two police officers walk into the gallery, taking off their hats. That’s when it clicked to Atsushi. He walked over to them in a hurry, looking at them, knowing what had happened. “No… No….” He shook his head, beginning to cry. He could feel Kunikida’s arms around him as he held him together, trying to not fall apart. 

 

“Sh. It’s okay… It’s okay.” Atsushi could feel Kunikida’s hands shake as they patted his back, trying to comfort him. Ranpo stood there silently, looking at the two police officers without any words. “We need you to come to the coroner… Identify the body.” One said sympathetically.

 

“We found him at the bottom of a cliff along with someone else. We don’t suspect any foul play, but we want to make sure.” Ranpo nodded his head.

 

“He was suicidal… The other person… Did they have red hair?” Ranpo asked although he knew the answer to it already.

 

“Yes.” The other officer said. Ranpo tried to contain himself, pursing his lips tightly before speaking again.

 

“His name was Nakahara Chuuya if you haven’t figured it out yet… He was… He was Dazai’s romantic partner.” The two officers nodded silently, “We figured, based on their matching rings, we figured that that was the case.”

 

“Can you identify both of them?” The other repeated again. Ranpo looked over at Kunikida, giving each other a worried look as Atsushi loudly sobbed into Kunikida’s shoulder. 

 

“I’ll do it,” Atsushi said suddenly, separating himself from Kunikida’s hold, wiping his tears away. 

 

“Are you sure?” The other officer asked.

 

“No.” Kunikida and Ranpo said in unison, but Atsushi persisted on. “Yes. I’m sure.” 

 

Kunikida and Ranpo exchanged another worried look. “Okay, but we’re coming with you.” Kunikida announced.

 

“Well, okay. We’ll drive you up there.” They followed the two men out to the chair. The car ride was silent, only hearing Atsushi’s soft cries. 

 

The three stayed there silently, waiting to be called by the corner so Atsushi could identify them. Ranpo could see that both men were shaking from sadness. But what Ranpo didn’t know— or rather chose to ignore— was that he was shaking the most out of both of them. He thought about what Dazai said about the evidence, about the promise he had kept to Dazai. This was it. This was the end of everything; it was all coming to an end.

 

The coroner came out from the room, “You can come in now.” He said. Atsushi looked at Kunikida and Ranpo, trying to get one final time before going into the room with the coroner. 

 

“They refused to separate….” The corner explained, but Atsushi wasn’t listening. He looked at the covered bodies under the metal table, trying to tell himself that it was a mistake, but he knew that he would see them under there. He knew Dazai was going to be gone. 

 

“Ready?” Atsushi took a deep breath, holding in his tears, nodding to the coroner to proceed. He walked over to one body, uncovering it to see the dull red hair. Atsushi gasped for air, nodding his head, still trying to keep the tears in his eyes. “That’s Chuuya.” He was able to mutter. The coroner nodded, covering his body back up again and going to the other. From the moment he uncovered the body, Atsushi knew, beginning to cry even harder than he did before, nodding his head again. “That’s Dazai…” Atsushi didn’t get a chance to see the coroner cover up the body before running out to be with Ranpo and Kunikida. They both looked down to the floor, feeling defeated and lost. 

 

They heard the clicking of heels running up to them, looking up to see Yosano. From the moment she saw Atsushi, she knew that it was true. She looked over at Ranpo, silently confirming it. She ran to Atsushi, holding him as they both cried together. 

 

“It’s going to be okay, Atsushi….” Her voice quivered, trying to comfort herself and him. They huddled together, holding each other as they heard other pairs of footsteps rushing to them. They looked up to see a distressed redheaded woman with another man. She looked to Yosano, trying to figure out the words to say. 

 

“I’m so sorry, Kouyou….” Yosano uttered. She shook her head, covering her mouth as she began to loudly sob. Tachihara turned away from them abruptly, pacing the hallway until he punched the wall. 

 

“I’m… Sorry. I’m so fucking sorry.” Atsushi began to repeatedly apologize to them all, even to himself. The four— Yosano, Atsushi, Kouyou, and Tachihara— cried violently as Ranpo and Kunikda stayed silently mourning for the two men.

 

Atsushi started to think about Dazai’s word to him, how he wanted to be with Chuuya. How once he died, he wanted some of his ashes planted with Oda, and the rest to be with Chuuya… Atsushi couldn’t help but think of the night sky and the beauty of the stars that Dazai always raved about. He couldn’t help but think about the tiny little moments Dazai showed himself to him and how his dreams finally came true.

 

That night, after everything, Atsushi looked up at the night sky, seeing the sparkle of every star glowing brighter and brighter. They shined more brightly than any other night… This was their night. These were their stars; they were all theirs. They owned them, now. Just like they always wanted together…

Chapter Text

“Yet the beloved does not see or hear you,

He lies beyond your comfort;

The lips you kissed so often speak

Not again; I forgave you long ago!”  

—  Love as long as love you can by Ferdinand Freiligrath

 

It had been a month since Dazai and Chuuya died. Many of their friends still mourned, yet many were also slowly moving on from the tragedy, although it would creep up on them now and then like a bad dream. Atsushi would often catch Kunikida yelling, sometimes asking for Dazai’s lazy ass, forgetting he was gone. Atsushi supposed that Kunukida didn’t want him to forget that Dazai was actually gone. 

 

Atsushi began to paint more, exhibiting his work more within the gallery. He dedicated everyone to Dazai and Chuuya.

 

Today was a special day, for both Dazai and Chuuya; a dedication to them by the gallery commemorating the amazing art they had both created for each other. Many of Dazai’s paintings were donated by the people who had previously bought them, devastated by the news that he had suddenly passed away. 

 

“Is everyone ready?” Kunikida asked solemnly, staring at Ranpo, Atsushi, and Yosano. They nodded their heads and took a deep breath. They stood there for a moment in silence; it was awkward, still not getting used to the sudden silence of Dazai not being around anymore. He was also the liveliness of the gallery, of their jobs, of their life. It felt different without him, but this was for him and Chuuya. 

 

They opened the doors to the gallery; people began to come in, swarming the gallery, especially Chuuya’s friends from the concert hall. 

 

“Wow.” Higuchi awed at the beautify of the painting, hearing the background fill with Chuuya’s music. “They somehow complemented each other,” Tachihara said, trying to hold back in the tears as he listened to the music and looked at the paintings Dazai had created of Chuuya. 

 

“It’s like they were both speaking to each other when they were apart.” Gin said, they all agreed. They had never once asked where Chuuya got him inspiration, but they somehow knew that Dazai had to play a part in some— if not most— of them. The three of them tried to hold back the tears, looking through every painting, each one turning their stomachs as they silently remembered him and the way Chuuya was when he was with Dazai before he left, before the drugs. They missed him terribly, trying to soak in whatever they could of him to remember him. 

 

Kouyou hesitated to walk into the gallery, smoking outside to calm her nerves before heading inside. She began to tear up when she saw the paintings, hearing Chuuya’s music play in the background. It was like she was watching the most beautiful love story unfold before her eyes, its passion and beauty blinded her, yet she could not look away from it. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” Yosano came up to her, handing her a glass of wine. She took it and drank it in one gulp, staring back at the paintings, wiping away her tears.

 

“It truly is.” She answered. They stood there for a moment, admiring the beauty of it. “Are you going to do it? Are you going to expose Mori?” She asked sincerely. She knew that it would come sooner or later, whether it would have been Oda, Dazai, or Yosano. It was all a matter of when.

 

“Yeah… I am.” Kouyou nodded her head, tapping on the rim of the wine glass. 

 

“At least he’ll be safe from it,” Kouyou said. She sounded somewhat relieved from it. Yosano nodded her head, agreeing with her silently.

 

“Well, I’ll be waiting then,” Kouyou said, forcing a smile on her face. Yosano smiled back, watching her turn away to look at the rest of the painting.

 

Ranpo and Poe looked around the people looking at the painting, seeing everyone’s sad reaction while looking at the paintings, realizing that there was more meaning to them than they had initially thought about.

 

“He was the best of the best,” Ranpo announced.

 

“Dazai or Chuuya.” Poe didn’t mean it to be a question, he knew precisely what Ranpo thought of both men, but he still liked to hear Ranpo’s thoughts about it. 

 

“Both.” Poe looked over at Ranpo, who was looking at his feet, trying to gather his thoughts, knowing that he was giving up on the thought of trying to figure out why like he had some sort of capacity to stop it.

 

“There was nothing to be done, Ranpo.” Poe tried to soothe him, but Ranpo didn’t want to be comforted. He wanted answers.

 

“There had to be something we missed.” Poe shook his head, “When it comes to the music industry and Chuuya’s past, it was a matter of time before it happened. And Dazai, well, it was also bound to happen by how you and Yosano talked about him… I think that there wasn’t anything you missed. I think that maybe you didn’t want to think about it, therefore feeling guilty about it.” Ranpo smiled at Poe’s observation. 

 

“You’ve really gotten good at Clue lately.” Ranpo sighed, leaning his head on Poe’s shoulder, feeling his body stiffen from the action, but he paid no mind to it and continued observing the people around. 

 

Fyodor walked into the gallery, silently studying the painting, quietly admiring them as he listened to the music flowing through the room. He knew Dazai was talented, but he never realized just how complete it was when Chuuya’s music played in the background. It was beautiful, he to admit to himself. He had a bit of guilt when it came to Chuuya, he’d never admit it, but Fyodor admired him, both of them, actually. Still, he stood silently looked at every one of the paintings that tell a story as he hummed the symphony play, creating this bittersweet feeling around everyone mourning and celebrating each of their profound talents. He grabbed a glass of wine, raising his glass to the painting, “I’ll hand it to you. You were an excellent artist but a horrible analyst when it came to Chuuya… But, I now understand why.” He whispered to himself, taking a sip of the bittersweet wine. 

 

Paul slowly waltzed into the gallery, seeing the beautiful paintings of Chuuya. He had never met Dazai, but when he heard the news that Chuuya had committed suicide with him, he felt like he had to attend the event for all three of them— Dazai, Chuuya, and Arthur. He placed the hat over his chest, admiring the music and art. “I’m sorry, I’ve never seen you around here before,” Atsushi said, giving him a glass of wine. Paul smiled at him, taking the wine into his hand as he looked at the painting one more time.

 

“I was Chuuya’s father’s lover, well, ex… He came to visit me in Paris before he died.” 

 

“Oh.” Atsushi felt his heart grow heavy, seeing the sadness in Paul’s eyes, yet he still kept a smile on his face. 

 

“I assume that Dazai was a friend of yours?” He asked. Atsushi nodded, waiting for Paul’s response, yet he didn’t say anything at all. He just kept staring at the familiarity of the painting. “Chuuya told me about this time.” Atsushi was confused, but he waited for Paul to explain himself further.

 

“This was the day that he and Chuuya first met… Red Under the Blue Moon. ” Atsushi looked back at it again, being overcome by the revelation of it all. Atsushi hung his head low, feeling his tears drip onto his shoes.

 

“I guess they became each other’s star after all.” Paul finally said, patting the sobbing boy on his back, attempting to comfort him a bit. Atsushi recovered himself quickly, wiping his eyes. “Yeah. They did.” They smiled at each other, looking back at the painting, thinking of the things that went on in Dazai’s head as he painted this, thinking about what was going on in Chuuya’s head as he made up this song that was playing in the background. 

 

Atsushi looked at the painting once more, turning around and running into another man, wearing all black. “Ow! Sorry about that!” Atsushi said, but the man just glared at him. 

 

“How may I help you?” He asked cautiously, unsure of why he was glaring at him. The man just stayed silently, continuing to glare at him. In the silent treatment, Atsushi wasn’t really in the mood, “Are you just going to stare me down?” 

 

“Yes.” Akutagawa replied, staring straight at him. Atsushi sighed, crossing his arms, “Listen, I don’t know who the hell you are, but this is a show for—”

 

“I know who it is. I’m not an idiot like you.” Atsushi frowned, getting annoyed with him. “Listen, I don’t know who the hell you are, but—”

 

“So Dazai didn’t talk about me?” He asked solemnly. He looked sad from the thought. Atsushi immediately regretted being mean to him, assuming that he was just having a rough time with Dazai’s death, which he could understand.

 

“Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be mean earlier. I know what you’re going through. I was Dazai’s—” Akutagawa interrupted him once again.

 

“I know who you are. You’re his no-good apprentice. Your paintings suck, by the way.” Atsushi immediately took the feeling of regret back, forgetting everything he had just said.

 

“And who the hell do you think you are, huh? I was just trying to be nice to you, but you’re acting like a complete child.” Akutagawa rolled his eyes, paying no mind to him.

 

“I’m Dazai’s former apprentice from the concert hall.” Atsushi finally got the big picture. 

 

“Okay? Still doesn’t mean you have to be a complete dickhead to me.”

 

“Yes, it does,” Akutagawa said.

 

“No, it doesn’t,” Atsushi argued back. 

 

“Yes, it does.”

 

“No, it doesn’t.” They went back and forth until Kunikida came up to Atsushi.

 

“Atsushi now’s not the time for a fight. Get your ass back on the floor and greet the others.” He ordered him, making Atsushi reluctantly agreed, even though he knew it wouldn’t be the last time he would see the Akutagawa.

 

Ango was nervous about going into the gallery, but he knew he just had to see the painting. Despite Dazai hating him, he still considered Dazai to be his friend. He thought about all those times at the bars where they would drink together and genuinely have fun. Ango felt so much guilt, especially when he saw Dazai again. But no matter what Ango said, he knew Dazai would never forgive him; though Dazai wanted their friendship back, he would never forget. Ango didn’t blame him, though. He didn’t deserve their friendship. He saw the paintings, smiling at them, feeling his heartbreaking as he watched Dazai’s implicit declaration of love for Chuuya, thinking about their conversations about him at the bar and Oda just listening to him like he was a father or brother listening to Dazai’s day. Ango smiled at the recollection, feeling his eyes got watery, yet he did not shed a tear. He wouldn’t allow himself to; Dazai wouldn’t have wanted that even though he hated him. 

 

Yosano began to help Kunikida clean up as Ranpo and Poe reviewed some notes from what Atsushi assumed to be the documents that Dazai gave them. Atsushi walked up to his desk, opening the cabinet to reveal two small urns filled with Dazai’s and Chuuya’s ashes. He was surprised that Kouyou gave Chuuya’s ashes to him. He asked her why, but she said that she wouldn’t fulfill something that needed to be filled. Atsushi didn’t know what she meant by that, but he took the urn. Atsushi had thought that tonight would be the best day to spread their ashes where they died, setting them free so they could be one with whatever they wanted to be one with together. He wondered what was going on in their world, how they were getting used to death, if there was even an afterlife, to begin with.

 

Atsushi grabbed the small urns and began to walk away into the night before Yosano stopped him. “Atsushi… Are you sure you don’t want Ranpo and me to come along?” He smiled at her, thank her for the thought, but he wanted to do this alone.

 

“Thanks, but I think I’ll be fine.” She nodded her head, walking away and letting him be. He stood in the empty gallery, looking at the still setting around him. The paintings were all stripped from the white walls, looking around the naked, cold room. He almost shivered from the feeling, knowing that he would never see Dazai’s paintings on the wall ever again. He sighed, walking out. 

 

Atsushi looked down to the ground, tightly holding onto the urns, drifting away from the noisy streets, his mind going quiet until he had bumped into someone.

 

“I’m sorry!” He bowed, tightly holding onto the urns, but as soon as he looked up to see who he bumped into, he realized that it was Akutagawa.

 

“You should look where the hell you’re going.” Akutagawa spat at him. Atsushi almost flinched, but he stood his ground.

 

“Listen, I’m not in the mood to fight you. I have places to go.” Atsushi said, attempting to walk away, but Akutagawa stopped him, grabbing him.

 

“Why do you have two urns?” He questions. Although he assumed that he knew that the other was Chuuya’s, Atsushi didn’t want to tell him.

 

“What the hell are you talking about? It’s Dazai and Chuuya.” Atsushi said, confused. Akutagawa frowned at him, feeling the anger boiling inside of him.

 

“Why the fuck do you have Chuuya for? I thought Kouyou had him.” Atsushi sighed, letting his tensioned shoulders drop.

 

“She gave him to me.”

 

“Why would she do that?” He asked.

 

“I don’t know. She just gave him to me and said that I would be the only one to fulfill what needed to be fulfilled.” Atsushi said as he shrugged.

 

“What a load of crap. She would never do that.” 

 

“You can ask her yourself!” Atsushi yelled, trying another attempt at walking away, but Akutagawa just followed him.

 

“I don’t get it. Why would she give you to him instead of me or the others?”

 

“Like I said, I don’t know. I assume that it was because I had Dazai.” Akutagawa then stayed silent, still walking beside him.

 

“I don’t understand. Why you? You don’t deserve it.” This made Atsushi annoyed, stopping himself and looking towards Akutagawa.

 

“I don’t understand what your problem with me is. And you’re right, I don’t deserve it, but here I am. So, can you please just let me give Dazai and Chuuya their final wish so they can be in peace?!” Atsushi didn’t let Akutagawa say anything. He continued walking towards the cemetery, to do what Dazai asked him to do before he died. But Akutagawa just continued to follow him.

 

“Fine, but I’ll follow you because I want to know what you’re going to do with Chuuya’s ashes.” Atsushi rolled his eyes.

 

“Fine.” He agreed reluctantly. In silence, they walked side by side as Atsushi walked him to the cemetery where Oda lied. 

 

“Why are we in a cemetery?” Akutagawa asked. 

 

“I’m fulfilling a part of Dazai’s wish,” Atsushi said, walking up to Oda’s grave. Akutagawa was stunned that Dazai wanted to be buried with Oda, thinking about Chuuya.

 

“But what about Chuuya?” 

 

“Dazai only wanted some of him to be buried with Oda. He wanted the rest of his ashes to be spread wherever Chuuya was.” Atushi answered him, getting down on his knees and digging a small hole on his grave.

 

Akutagawa walked to him, watching him dig the small hole and opening Dazai’s urn to pour some of his ashes into it. He gently covered the whole back up, putting his hands together, and silently said a prayer.  Akutagawa watched him, feeling a pang of slight guilt for not doing the same, so he clapped his hand together, closing his eyes and saying a small prayer as well. 

 

Once they were done, Atsushi closed the lid on Dazai’s urn and got up, wiping away the dirt on his knees. “So, where to next?” Akutagawa asked.

 

“We’re going to the place they died.” Akutagawa froze, unsure of how to feel about it, but he continued to follow him with no hesitation.

 

“I still don’t understand what your problem is with me. What did I ever do to you?” Akutagawa stayed silent, letting out a small groan.

 

“Just keep walking.” 

 

“Tsk! You really are getting on my last nerves.” Akutagawa rolled his eyes, still not saying a word.

 

“Just tell me what I did.” Atsushi pleaded. He wanted to know why Akutagawa was so mean to him in the first place, utterly oblivious to Akutagawa’s past with Dazai.

 

“I just don’t understand why he chose you. That’s all.” 

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” Atsushi asked.

 

“I’m talking about Dazai. I don’t understand why he would choose you to take you on as an apprentice when your paintings suck.” Atsushi stopped and turned to face him.

 

“Listen, I don’t know everything about Dazai’s past, but all I know is that he hated being at that concert hall, okay? I don’t think it had to do with you. So, stop making it about you.” Akutagawa was stunned, getting angry, attempting to take Chuuya’s urn away from him, but Atsushi backed away immediately.

 

“Hey! Just stop it, okay? Just stop it! This is about Chuuya and Dazai. They need to be at peace. I don’t care about the vendetta you have against me. You can worry about it after we spread their ashes!” Akutagawa didn’t want to stop, but after hearing him say ‘we,’ he seized himself from making another move to get Chuuya’s urn. They looked at each other, coming to a mutual agreement.

 

They continued walking together in silence to the shore, hearing the ocean waves collide against each other. They could taste the salty air on their tongues, feeling the ocean breeze hit their faces. They shivered for a moment, but they didn’t stop until they climbed up the cliff. 

 

Atsushi walked the ocean, seeing the moonlight and stars reflect against the water. He sighed, holding the urns tightly. It pained his heart, almost on the verge of tears. Akutagawa seemed to notice, sighing as well.

 

“Dazai and Chuuya were sad people. They went through hell. The best that you can do now is let them go. There’s no point in holding onto the past anymore.” Atsushi looked up at him, smiling.

 

“It just hurts a lot.” 

 

“I know… But, I guess you’re right. There’s really no point in holding onto something that is no longer there.” Akutagawa said sadly, looking ahead to the shoreline. He never really understood the beauty of it, but he knew that Dazai must have loved something about it, something that reminded him of what he had once loved and lost.

 

“Do you think that this is the right thing, though?” Akutagawa shrugged, unsure of how to answer him.

 

“I don’t know. But all I know is that you have a wish to fulfill.” Atsushi nodded his head, undoing the lids. He paused, looking towards Akutagawa, and handed Chuuya’s urn to him. Akutagawa was surprised, but he took the urn.

 

“Thank you for being our friends,” Atsushi said long at Akutagawa again, agreeing to each other silently. They tossed the ashes on the edge of the cliff, watching as they combined themselves together, dancing with the swaying of the wind. They watched until they disappeared into the dark night. 

 

Atsushi wiped his tears away from his face, but the tears wouldn’t stop flowing down from his face, stinging his cheeks from the cold air hitting his face.

 

“Do you think they’ll be happy now?” Atsushi asked, looking at Akutagawa, who had a serious demeanor on his face. 

 

“Yeah… I think they’re happy now.” Atsushi could see that he was shaking, but he was unsure if it was because of the hold or because he also didn’t want to lose them. Atsushi was hesitant, but he reached his hand to him, holding the still hand, though he grasped his, feeling the warmth of it as they looked out to the sky, watching the stars glow brighter as the night passed on. 

 

“I’m only holding your hand because it’s cold,” Akutagawa announced. It made Atsushi laugh for some reason, making him stop crying for a moment.

 

“I know.” They gripped their hands tighter together until Akutagawa suddenly let go, walking away from him.

 

“Hey, where are you going?” Atsushi didn’t want to admit it, but holding onto his hand made him feel the warmth of security, like everything was alright, even though it wasn’t.

 

“I’m going to get something to eat. You coming?” Atsushi suppressed a smile on his face, nodding to him and running towards him. 

 

“Don’t think I forgot about my vengeance against you,” Akutagawa said, holding onto Atsushi’s hand. He huffed out a chuckle, “I know.” 

 

They walked silently to the nearest cafe, holding onto each other’s hand, feeling the warmth of the security they surprisingly found in each other. Atsushi wondered if this was what Dazai felt every time he was Chuuya. Slowly understanding what he meant, how the dusk did hold true beauty.

 

Dazai opened his eyes, hearing the sound of the waves, the smell of the salty air hitting his senses. He bolted up to see Chuuya looking out to the sea, smiling.

 

“You came back,” Chuuya said, not taking his eyes off the sea. Dazai smiled, “I’ll always come back to you.” Chuuya turned around, but instead of his eyes catching Dazai, he found a man in the distance. He looked closer to see that it was his father smiling at him. Chuuya smiled back at him, averting his eyes to Dazai.

 

“Do you regret it?” Dazai asked. Chuuya shook his head, “Not in the slightest. Do you?”

 

“No.” Dazai didn’t take the smile off his face. For the first time, they felt happy, their hearts bursting with joy. Chuuya looked into his eyes, watching the light in them brighten, no longer looking like the light at the end of the tunnel. Chuuya leaned in, kissing Dazai’s lips passionately, holding onto his face, tasting the sea salt on his lips. They parted and gave each other another smile before Chuuya ran off to the water. 

 

“You coming?” Chuuya yelled for him. Dazai laughed, getting up from the sand. He didn’t know why he had the sudden urge to turn around, but he did. He saw a man in the distance, looking closely to see that it was Oda smiling and waving at him. Dazai smiled, knowing that he would not reach him, but he was glad that he could at least see him again. He now had everything he ever wanted again. 

 

“Hey!” Chuuya called out again. Dazai turned to look at Chuuya, then back to Oda’s direction, but he was already gone. Dazai didn’t feel sad, though. He finally felt happy. He smiled to himself, then looked back at Chuuya, who was playing with the waves, laughing and smiling, making his heart lift into bliss. This was his heaven. 

 

Dazai ran to him, feeling the sand between his toes as he stomped towards Chuuya, smiling and laughing with him as they splashed water onto each other into the night. The moonlight hit each other’s faces as they wrapped their arms around their damp bodies, kissing each other. 

 

They no longer had to wish for this feeling to never end, knowing it would never fade. It would last for an eternity. Just them two and the night sky shining down on them. Forever.