Yosano doesn’t know what she expects out of an evening spent with Ozaki Kouyou, but it’s a far cry from what she gets.
The permeating feeling of fancy is something she was waiting for; the fact that she is invited not to some expensive traditional food place but inside Ozaki’s own home is not. She wouldn’t even have guessed that it was her home—the mansion is large enough to feel like an inn, complete with hot springs—if it weren’t for the fact that Nakahara Chuuya walks in before they’re even done sitting down for tea, stops, and stares.
“What the fuck,” he says, at the same time as Yosano slides a hand into her bag and grasps the handle of her machete.
“Don’t swear in front of guests, Chuuya,” Ozaki replies pleasantly. She hasn’t looked up from the tea.
“What the hell do you mean, guests —”
“Yosano-sensei is here on my invitation,” she says. Her mouth is twitching very lightly. “Sensei, please drop that.”
Yosano withstands Nakahara’s glare for a second longer. He doesn’t immediately attack, much as he waited for her to attack first during their last and only meeting, and realizing it allows her to take a leap of faith. She lets the weapon rest at the bottom of her bag.
“What does the agency want now?” Nakahara mutters, yet he tears his eyes away from Yosano to look at Ozaki instead. “I thought we were done with that shitty alliance.”
“I see no reason not to try and keep our relationship amiable,” Ozaki says.
“ Amiable …”
Some sort of exchange must have happened between them, then, because Nakahara’s face turns crimson in less than a second. It clashes horribly against his hair color and makes Yosano’s mouth stretch into a smirk despite her confusion, and Nakahra chokes out a strangled, “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
“You wanted to tell me something, I believe.”
“I can’t fucking believe you.”
Ozaki pours the tea. She smiles. “I don’t think you of all people have any right to judge me,” she says mildly.
Nakahara looks like he wants to either scream or disappear. He settles on a slightly horrified gargle, one hand raised to his forehead as if to wipe his blush away, before storming out of the room.
Yosano opens her mouth to speak, but Ozaki lifts a hand gently, cutting her off. It isn’t three seconds later that they hear loud footsteps approaching again, and Nakahara peeks his head into the room.
“I’m gonna be gone until Tuesday evening,” he mumbles, still flushed. He glares at Yosano for good measure.
Ozaki finally turns to look at him. “Be careful,” she replies.
Every time Yosano has heard her speak, Ozaki has had her tone laced with cruelty, with some layer of violence that only needs the incentive to show. Now, it’s nonexistent.
Nakahara’s answering smile softens every line of his face.
Yosano isn’t sure what to say once he’s gone. She feels like she’s witnessed something she shouldn’t have, and it must show on her face, because Ozaki’s tone as she says, “He lives with me,” is almost enough to distract her from the feeling of their fingers brushing together as she hands a cup over.
“Family?” Yosano asks. She doesn’t for a second entertain the thought of her and Nakahara being lovers.
“As close as one can get.”
She nods, and uses the occasion to take her first sip of the tea. It’s delicious. “He’s surprisingly cute,” she can’t help but say. “The way Dazai talked about him, I never thought he’d be like that in private.”
Ozaki snorts loudly.
Yosano finds herself staring—the sight and sound of Ozaki doing that clashes so firmly with everything she knows and has seen of her so far that her mind freezes for the barest second.
“I think you’ll find that Dazai has a bit of a bias where Chuuya is concerned,” she replies, lips stretched into something very close to a grin. “I’m glad to learn he’s still not past the pigtail-pulling stage.”
Yosano has to take a second to absorb that information. Ozaki leaves her to it, staring at her over the brim of her own cup; she unfolds her legs under the table, and the movement makes silk shift around her body, makes her foot brush Yosano’s calf.
“I didn’t know you knew Dazai so well,” she tries, rather than ask about Dazai apparently having a crush. “I guess that explains the face he made when Kunikida and Atsushi dragged you to the office during that whole Guild affair.”
“I watched him grow up,” Ozaki says, that same fondness she showed Nakahara earlier flashing over her face once more. “There was a time I called him brother too, though he never let me in as much as Chuuya did.”
This is no surprise at all. Dazai hardly lets anyone in. Even Yosano struggles to know the barest bones of his identity or thoughts, if his easy respect for her is genuine or faked.
She dearly hopes that it’s genuine. She hopes he gets as much peace out of their weekly drinking as she does.
Ozaki’s foot is still almost pressed against Yosano’s calf. It’s distracting, especially with the low light, especially with the stray thoughts of just how beautiful Ozaki is and how long it’s been since Yosano touched anyone.
She’s too flat for me , she thinks at herself.
It makes for a very poor excuse.
“So what did you want to talk about?” she asks, struggling not to move her own leg—either to pull it back or push it against the press of Ozaki’s socked foot.
“Ah,” Ozaki says. The line of her back straightens, but her foot stays as it is. Yosano’s lips thin. “I am of the mind that although we aren’t in direct opposition now, having more… personal relationships with the agency can only benefit the port mafia in the long run.”
“We don’t associate with criminals,” Yosano says dryly. “That’s about the opposite of what we do, in fact.”
“I’m not asking for endorsement, or favors of any kind. I want to know the people in the agency—I want to know you .”
Yosano looks at her, gathering her thoughts.
“Just tell me if you need to heal someone,” she replies eventually. “I’m a doctor before anything else, I’ll do my best to help, even if it’s an enemy.”
“Very admirable of you,” Ozaki chuckles, once her surprise has washed away. “But I assure you that I had no thought for your gift in mind, and no need for it at present. I wanted to know you because I found you a level-headed, smart woman, and I am always eager to surround myself with those. Even if it’s an enemy,” she adds playfully. “It will pay off in the future to know the agency—to truly know it, its members, the personalities within. It would satisfy my curiosity, soothe my fears, to know the sort of people taking care of Kyouka and Dazai. And you, sensei, I simply found to be someone I wish to know better.”
That doesn’t help Yosano’s rushing thoughts in the slightest. It’s too easy to read more in Ozaki’s words than she means to say—than she means at all—and if Yosano struggles to put the compliment out of her mind, she makes an even greater effort not to visualize Ozaki repeating it from much closer, wearing way fewer clothes.
“Please, call me Kouyou.”
Yosano flushes, looks away, ears burning and glasses almost fogging up. The appropriate answer is at the tip of her tongue: Then, call me Akiko . She never lets anyone call her by her first name, but the idea is here. The words burn in her mouth.
She swallows them back and says, “I’m not really the most important person in the agency. You might want to talk to Kunikida instead.”
And Yosano is not clumsy, her job doesn’t allow for straying hands, but when she feels Ozaki’s foot press onto her calf, when she drags her hand back toward herself in surprise, she knocks her cup off the table entirely.
The tea splatters onto the floorboards with a wet sound. The cup, thankfully, doesn’t break; it cracks through the middle instead, the clearest of all ill omens, the line almost straight enough to cut right through porcelain.
“I’m sorry,” Yosano says, pushing off of her chair.
“Please,” Ozaki retorts. “Let me.”
Her hand rests on Yosano’s forearm warmly. Yosano sits back down and tries not to swallow when it leaves.
Ozaki doesn’t seem to mind at all that she might tear or sully her fine clothes. She kneels against the floor gracefully, like she has only ever knelt in her life. The thought sends another rush of heat through Yosano’s dazed mind. It makes her eye lower, makes her peer into the collar now hanging open over Ozaki’s chest and breathe in quietly.
The kimono is a deception. Ozaki is definitely not too flat for her.
“Kunikida’s good for that,” she says faintly, because it’s better than to kneel by Ozaki on the floor and try and mouth against the pale line of her neck, “he’s a good guy, good worker—”
She stills when Ozaki’s hand wraps around her ankle. She doesn’t move at all as it slides up, under the hem of her long skirt and past the ticklish crease of her knee.
“Unfortunately, sensei,” Ozaki says, looking up at her. Her hand slides under Yosano’s thigh outright, and there is no reason at all for to be there outside of the glint of pleasure in Ozaki’s cold eyes, the goosebumps that the contact spreads through Yosano’s tense skin.
Yosano braces a hand against Ozaki’s shoulder. With her free hand, Ozaki widens the opening of her collar.
“ Kunikida is not my type at all.”