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~~~~Day 14255~~~~

 

The words from a distant memory roused within him, words spoken to him long ago,

 

Look, Chuuya! They’re called hydrangeas! There are so many...

 

A gray sky loomed over him, raindrops fell onto his skin like cold whispers and gently pattered around him. A thickening crimson border surrounded his vision, filling it with madder red. Ah, he remembered this... This was a vision of... His past? His present? Or perhaps it was meant to be his fate.

 

Once again, he found himself surrounded by hydrangeas, a fallen bundle of blooms covered his profusely bleeding eye, and hovering above him was... an angel? No, it was a faceless demon, one that seduced him with its comforting aura, and even when he knew this demon would be his downfall, he reached out, stretched his hands skyward into its awaiting arms. 

 

A familiar set of hands touched the tips of his fingers, brushed past his desperate arms and slid against his cheek, tender and reassuring as he stared up at his faceless demon, and even as those hands wrapped around his neck, Chuuya never struggled. Only a single red tear betrayed the sorrow in his heart, slipping down his colorless cheeks to drop onto pale blue and violet petals.

 

Those hands trembled against his throat, yet still pressed down mercilessly to suffocate the life left within him, and as the light in his eyes faded, as darkness and deep crimson bloomed in his vision, he saw 14255 days pass by.

 

14255 days of despair, of heartache, and the drowning sensation of trying to salvage what was fated to be broken. He relived them all, and that was why he smiled, even when his eyes could no longer see, when his heartbeat slowed and finally stilled.

 

I still forgive you.

 

***

 

~~~~Day ?????~~~~

 

Chuuya awoke to teardrops falling onto his pillow, his mind scattered and dazed. The morning sun’s radiant light blinded his vision, forcing him to clench his eyes and wince through the burning rays flooding his eyelids. When he was able to open them again, he was met with Dazai’s blank stare, so cold and lifeless he felt a moment of panic seize his heart, but then those muddy depths lit up into a warm chocolate as Dazai smiled at him. 

“Good morning Chuuya~”

As soon as he saw that overly radiant shit-eating grin, an exasperated sigh escaped his lips as his face scrunched into that of extreme loathing. 

“Why such a sour face in the morning?” Dazai playfully tapped the tip of Chuuya’s nose, and in response, Chuuya scoffed and rolled over to face the other side before grumbling,

“Because I have to wake up to your ugly face first thing in the morning.”

“Shouldn’t that be a blessing?”

“I’m going back to sleep.” Thankfully, Dazai remained quiet as to not disturb his fruitless attempt at going back to sleep. The sun’s rays were already much too bright, too intrusive and chased away any rest he tried to get. When the silence between them stretched on too long, he felt Dazai shift closer to wrap an arm around his waist and press him into the warmth of his chest.

“Did you have a nightmare?”

“What makes you think that...” Chuuya huffed and begrudgingly shuffled back into the welcoming embrace, and that was when he felt Dazai’s hand slide up to brush over the tender red at the corner of his eyes.

“You were crying.”

Raindrops and scattered hydrangea petals; the wet earth seeping with crimson. He reached out to the fading images, but they were already dissipating into the mist of his mind. The only thing left was the aching feeling in his chest, a deep-rooted sadness that reminded him of one single detail from his dream. 

“I died.”

Silence, once again. The hand against his face slid down his cheek, then dropped to nestle against his chest, against the heartbeat that proved he was still alive.

“Chuuya has the silliest dreams, as if you could beat me to death.” His shitty, lighthearted tone irritated Chuuya to no end. 

“Tch, what happened to committing double suicide together.”

“Ohh! That’s right! Chuu~ya, let’s submerge ourselves in Yokohama bay!” Dazai squeezed his waist tight and rubbed his face into the back of his neck like an annoying piece of shit that refused to let go.

“Oi! Get off!” Chuuya squirmed to get away from the bandaged bastard, and as soon as he felt that morning hardness press against the curve of his bottom, he flipped around and kicked Dazai halfway across the room.

 

Their version of a mundane morning went like this,

Brush their teeth while making faces at each other in the mirror, shower together because it saved time and water, throw in an argument or a handjob or two, and soon enough they were preparing for breakfast in the kitchen.

“Chuuya...” Dazai groaned lazily and flattened himself over the kitchen counter. 

“Make your own breakfast, you lazy mackerel.” Chuuya scolded and toasted a croissant to accompany his morning coffee.

“Too lazy-” A half-sized can of spam smacked him right in the forehead, leaving a nasty red mark. Just as Dazai’s whining ceased, Chuuya glanced up from his breakfast to see Dazai peeling open the can to shove a spoon directly into the meat with a miserable expression.

“What the hell are you doing? Oi! Don’t eat it straight out of the can!”

“Lazy.” Dazai sighed and shoveled a spoonful into his mouth, then cringed and stuck his tongue out. 

“Bleh. Salty...”

“Tch.” Finally deciding that making breakfast for the useless trash would be easier than watching this, Chuuya confiscated the can and quickly prepared a breakfast of spam musubi. Dazai shot him a bright smile while Chuuya threw a rude gesture with his hand and spewed a string of curses that would serve as their ‘goodbye, see you tonight’.

 

Dazai kept his practiced smile until the moment the door closed behind Chuuya, and just like that, the morning’s warmth was gone, swept out the door when Chuuya left. The light in his eyes dulled to a deadened stare, withered and utterly surfeited with this tedious life.

 

He crammed the rest of his breakfast into his mouth, no longer able to perceive taste or color or smell, but still his body needed it. No, actually he could care less if his body ate itself away in hunger, but he’d be damned if he left something Chuuya made for him go to waste. Finally, every grain of rice was gone, and now he had a choice to make, stay home and go stir-crazy or head to the agency and exhaust himself.

 

A little bird landed on the windowsill of the living room, capturing Dazai’s attention if only for a second. Impulse tickled at the edge of his mind, and to Dazai, following through with nihilistic urges was always the easiest thing in the world. He stood up, threw on his coat and stepped over to slide open the glass panes to poke his head out into the open air. Hm, would this height be enough to kill him?

Without further thought, Dazai let himself tip over and fall.

 

***

 

“Geeeeeeh...” Dazai let his arms hang over the edge of the couch and visibly deflated, feeling completely unmotivated to do anything and yet laying on the couch all morning created a restless monster that latched itself right below his windpipe.

“Are you even listening!” Kunikida slapped a folder over Dazai’s head, making him wince and look up at his partner with a hurt pout.

“No...?”

Kunikida proceeded to grab him by the back of his coat and throw him halfway across the office to crash onto the floor in front of Atsushi.

“Atsushi...” Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Kunikida approached Atsushi, stepping on Dazai’s ass in the process, and handed him the folder. 

“Make sure Dazai gets this investigation done, I’m trusting you to keep him in line today while Ranpo and I handle another case.” 

“U-understood, Kunikida-san!” Atsushi took the folder and squinted uncertainly at Kunikida’s back as he left the office, then peered down to Dazai who was still facedown on the floor.

“Dazai-san?” 

“Hm? What is it, Atsushi-kun?” Dazai shifted his head so he was able to stare up at Atsushi casually, as casually as someone with their cheek planted on the floor could manage. What exactly was going on with Dazai today? An uncanny ability to sense Dazai’s moods allowed Atsushi to pick up whenever something wasn’t quite right, but as usual, he couldn’t tell what it was.

“Do you... want to read the file?”

“Eh, give me a summary of it.”

Atsushi squinted at Dazai’s especially lazy behavior, no, he seemed absolutely despondent.

“Okay, well...” After taking a quick glance at the file, Atsushi gave him the major details while throwing several concerned glances at his facedown senior. 

“We’re investigating a homicide, the body was pulled out of Yokohama bay and appears heavily mutilated-” 

A sudden tensing in Dazai’s shoulder caught Atsushi’s attention, it was hardly a twitch, probably unnoticeable to everyone else, but it didn’t escape his sharp eye. 

“Dazai-san, are you okay? You seem really... unmotivated lately.”

“Hm?” Lifting his head to peer aimlessly up at the ceiling, Dazai’s eyes shifted to the side as he considered Atsushi’s question. 

“Well Atsushi, I’ve been like this for...” He began to count on his hand, a finger going up one after another counting the days, weeks, months, years... and for a concerning moment, Atsushi wondered if Dazai was honestly okay.

“Ah~ Whatever. Let’s go see what this case is about.”

 

***

 

Dazai was oddly solemn on the way to the investigation site, a quiet spectre that floated along the streets, and Atsushi could only tail after him awkwardly. 

At the site, a body was laid out on a tarp, and while Atsushi could hardly stand to look at the twisted joints and broken bones sticking out of place, Dazai stared down at it unwaveringly. It wasn’t anybody either of them recognized, and something seemed so off with the way Dazai proceeded with the investigation, quick and efficient as if he couldn’t be bothered to expend any extra energy.

It was over within minutes, not quite as fast as Ranpo, but Dazai had pointed out every detail and clue that the police agents had failed to notice, and marked down a name and location on a piece of paper to hand to the police. Then, simple as that, Dazai started to head back to the agency.

“Ah-, Dazai-san, aren’t you worried?”

“Hm? About what?” Dazai paused and tilted his head backward to blink curiously at Atsushi, who nervously fiddled with his fingers.

“I mean... If that was a homicide by a rogue ability user capable of doing that, shouldn’t we look into that also?”

“Oh...” His mentor stuffed his hands into his pockets and stretched with a low sigh, then answered simply,

“There’s no use in doing that, let’s head back.”

And that was it, a simple and careless disregard for other matters not concerning them directly. It was oddly unsettling...

Back at the agency, Dazai spent the rest of his day lounging like an especially useless piece of trash, unmotivated to do anything at all, even the most basic needs for a human being. Atsushi actually had to perform the Heimlich maneuver when Dazai was too lazy to chew a bite of a donut and accidentally inhaled it.

Kunikida shook his head and swore that Dazai was attempting to commit suicide by being too lazy to live.

 

By sundown, Dazai was finally dismissed to go home, although he wasn't exactly doing anything productive in the first place. He stood waiting for the subway, that demon in his chest still prowled restlessly, and in that moment, he felt reality slip away from him just a little more, until his body was just functioning out of necessity to get him on the subway car.

However, as soon as he sat down, a familiar warm presence made itself apparent in the seat next to him. To his surprise, Chuuya had settled down by his side, weary and tired but relieved that the day was over.

“Chuuya? You got out early today?” And to take the subway out of all things, Dazai glanced around the car to find that it was just him and Chuuya.

“Don’t tell me you came just to take me home~” He teased and prodded Chuuya on the cheek, and the executive responded with a tired huff and brushed his hand away, and as he lowered his own, he trailed a feather-light touch down Dazai’s arm and rested their hands just a breath away from each other.

 

“Don’t flatter yourself, shitty Dazai, I just enjoy taking the subway occasionally.” Chuuya closed his eyes and leaned in just enough to gently rest his head against Dazai’s shoulder, his gloved fingers twitched toward’s Dazai’s timidly, until the other reached to gently grasp his hand in a comforting hold.

 

In that brief moment, Dazai was able to ground himself once again, through the simple touch shared between them. Where the world was once soundless and colorless, now, Dazai could allow himself to rest his weary heart and listen to the gentle rumble of the subway, to feel Chuuya’s soft autumn locks against his cheeks.

“Chuuya.” He whispered gently, rousing the other from his rest.

“Mm?” Bright, sapphire eyes gazed up at him, and all he could see reflected lovingly in them was his own face.

Dazai leaned in, close enough to intimately share their breaths, and simply pressed their foreheads together. In just a brief sliver of a moment in this miserable eternity he’d come to know, fate had granted him just the slightest comfort, the most ephemeral span of time when he finally felt human. But of course, fate was a fickle and cruel thing.

 

In the very next moment, his world came to a violent, screeching halt. 

 

Steel rods and shrapnel buckled around them, accompanied by the deafening sound of shrieking metal as the subway car derailed itself and sent them lurching forward like broken dolls. The lights shattered above them, leaving Dazai in terrifying darkness as the steel deathtrap rolled and thrashed him around until it finally came to a stop. Dazai clung onto a dislodge metal bar, and once again the world was colorless, sightless, scentless, numb save for the thundering heartbeat in his chest.

 

A single light came flickering back on, barely illuminating the scene of warped metal and sparking wires. He lifted his eyes up, and all he could see was a broken silhouette, strung up like a tragic puppet. Chuuya...

 

There was blood, so much sliding down the twisted spike of scrap metal that impaled him from behind, piercing straight through his chest. Weak, sapphire eyes met his own as Chuuya trembled and lifted a hand just slightly to reach out to him, fear and pain etched into his colorless face. Dazai’s hearing returned to him, but the only sound that came was a mind-shattering ring that drowned out the words that escaped Chuuya’s bloodied lips.

 

Dazai stretched out desperately, trying to reach, but in the end, he was trapped by the metal and debris around him, their fingers were just barely apart. He couldn’t be there, he couldn’t be by Chuuya’s side to comfort him in his last terrifying moments, forced to watch from this space as the life he so adored dissipated from Chuuya’s body, leaving only a lovely shell suspended in this macabre scene. 

 

How cruel... To not even be able to hold him in the end.

 

Ah, it feels like I’m breaking.

 

Darkness enveloped him once again, marking the end of this day.

 

***

 

tick, tick, tick

The sound of a clock resonated in the emptiness, accompanied only by the sound of a pen scratching away.

Dazai stepped forward, eyes dull and warped with a bitter loathing for the man sitting before him. In this twisted space, the flames of hell burned in an endless pit below them, and floating around were broken remnants of clocks and gears.

Fyodor paused in his writing, rested the book nestled in his hand down on his knee, then greeted Dazai with a bemused smile,

“Welcome back.”