Owe No Debt (Part III)

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Owe No Debt
Part III

Dazai stopped on the way to Sakaguchi’s hideout to buy watermelon, just because he could, or maybe just in order to annoy Chuuya.

Chuuya didn’t grace him with an answer when he offered him a slice. He spared a glance to the charred skin at the crook of Dazai’s right wrist instead—sixteen years old and Chuuya doesn’t feel a thing, chest light, head empty, body bursting with an energy he will never be able to contain and heart free of guilt, at last, at last.

Dazai had to crawl through flames to get to him in time.

Chuuya scowled, and looked at the street ahead once more. “Shut the fuck up,” he said, though Dazai hadn’t said a thing.

The sweat wouldn’t dry off of his hands despite not wearing the gloves anymore. He was fresh out of the shower, skin clean and hair still a little damp from it, still smelling of lavender; but already the sun beating on them and the wind rushing over them had slicked his face with sweat and refused to let him breathe without feeling heavy.

It didn’t matter how light he made himself—and he didn’t make himself too light, because it would only take Dazai half a second to realize and touch him, just to be contradictory—Kumagaya felt like hell on earth. Sweltering and damp like a festered wound.

Chuuya was glad he wasn’t wearing a suit. He wished he could do without wearing anything at all.

Dazai touched his shoulder—over cloth, not skin—and said, “We’re here.”

Chuuya looked forward. Looked up.

“A hotel?” he sneered.

“What were you expecting?” Dazai replied with laughter on his voice.

“I don’t know. An underground bunker, for starters.”

“Q isn’t that hard to handle.”

Chuuya huffed. “Easy to say for someone he can never use his powers on,” he said dryly.

“Oh, Chuuya,” and Chuuya didn’t acknowledge the rush of blood to his face at the affection with which Dazai said his name, “there are far easier methods to control Q than simple brutal force.”

Dazai’s hand left his shoulder. Their arms brushed together when he walked past Chuuya and into the entrance of the tall building, and Chuuya felt for a second the most ridiculous urge to press into his body and touch their skins together. Wrist to wrist. Bruises to scars.

He breathed the thought back in harshly.

The place Sakaguchi had elected to hide in was much nicer than the one Chuuya and Dazai were staying at. The lobby was wide and luminous, adorned with a crystal chandelier—though Chuuya thought some parts of it might be made of glass instead—and the elevator had impeccable transparent walls for looking out and under. They walked toward it in silence and pressed the button to call it. When it arrived, a pale-faced woman walked out, resolutely looking in front of her and pressing a silk handkerchief to her mouth. Chuuya couldn’t help the snort of pity he always felt at the thought of those who feared heights.

“Easy for someone who can never fall,” Dazai murmured by his side.

Chuuya didn’t answer. He stepped into the elevator, felt the phantom hand of a fourteen-year-old boy holding his weight by the wrist above Yokohama’s skyline, and thought, I’ve already fallen.

Sakaguchi was located at the topmost floor. Dazai pressed the Twelfth button nonchalantly and proceeded to make laughable noises of appreciation as he looked outside, as if he hadn’t spent years in a building far taller and more impressive than some countryside hotel.

Maybe Dazai had already forgotten.

The corridor they walked into was made of dark brown wood for the floor and off-white walls lit by orange lights. No corny decorations or fake paintings in flaking frames. Tasteful.

“Come on,” Dazai murmured, and there was no more humor in his tone, no more light in his eyes.

Chuuya looked at his shoulder with a frown as he followed.

Their door was at the very end of the hallway. They stayed silent, their feet light out of habit rather than need—Chuuya thought every other room on the floor must be empty, no one as smart as Sakaguchi would let civilians get caught in the crossfire—and he touched his hip for a second. Brushed past the handle of his knife to touch that of the gun carefully holstered under his arm and shirt.

He disliked guns, but he would use it if need be. Dazai threw him a joyless smile as he knocked.

“Softie,” Chuuya couldn’t help but whisper.

“No need to be hostile first thing,” Dazai replied in kind.

“We’re not going to get Sakaguchi with just small talk—”

He stopped, because the door had opened. Chuuya looked at Dazai despite how much of a mistake he knew it was—watch ahead, watch back, keep your eyes on the enemy—and saw the way Dazai’s face spasmed in something too reminiscent of when he was eighteen. They looked away together.

Sakaguchi Ango had always been prone to sweating. Chuuya remembered the constant shine of his pale skin under stress and how clipped his words were, how awkward and pathetic he had seemed to him for someone who bore so many of the mafia’s secrets. Someone who was bound to have been trained to withstand torture and more.

He was sweaty now. He was red and tired, back slouched, and he had lines on his angular face that hadn’t been there the last time Chuuya had seen him. Sakaguchi looked between the two of them with something very close to genuine disbelief.

“Ah,” he let out. Too nervous to be laughter. “You two, really?”

Dazai took hold of the door’s handle as he stepped forward. Sakaguchi didn’t step back, though his face tensed on something too complicated for Chuuya to understand. “Are you going to let us in, Ango?” Dazai asked quietly.

Sakaguchi looked into the room behind himself. “I don’t suppose you’ll let it slide if I refuse,” he said, and he sounded weak.

“You suppose right, traitor,” Chuuya replied, irritated.

He walked forward, past Dazai and past Sakaguchi himself, hand wrapped around his knife. The room looked empty enough that he felt uneasy, so he busied himself with kicking open the bathroom door and checking under the bed and into the closet for a trace of someone else.

Hopefully that’d buy enough time for Sakaguchi to wipe the infuriating grief off his face.

“Clear,” he called without turning back.

“Excellent job as always, Chuuya,” Dazai replied. He still had that dragging quality to his voice that Chuuya hadn’t heard once in the times they had been reunited.

It made him want to grind his teeth, and he didn’t know why.

Sakaguchi closed the door behind them with a shaking hand and tugged on the collar of his cheap suit. “I… have to say I wasn’t expecting that,” he said.

“Your security is suspiciously low,” Dazai murmured.

Chuuya could almost feel the hatred on his skin. It made shivers run up his bare arms despite the suffocating heat.

Sakaguchi pushed his glasses up his shiny nose. “I expected to be followed, but not by Double Black.”

There was no helping the surge of old pride that Chuuya felt upon hearing the name. It had never failed to make his chest flush with satisfaction, with the certainty of belonging somewhere, and even now as an adult, some warmth gathered in him. He looked at Dazai despite himself, and found Dazai looking at Sakaguchi.

“We’re not working together,” Dazai said coldly. “You just make a convenient common enemy. Hand us the kid.”

Sakaguchi laughed, all nerves. “You know I can’t do that.”

“You can if you want to live,” Chuuya added, eyes fixed on Dazai, and he didn’t know why his jaw hurt when Dazai didn’t react to his words at all.


“Nakahara is good enough for you, mole.”

Sakaguchi hesitated. “Nakahara-kun,” he settled on. His gaze was direct when he looked at Chuuya, despite his weak body language. “I think you can sympathize with the need to get Q very, very far away from either the agency or the mafia.”

The wide hall full of coffins flashed through Chuuya’s mind and gripped him tight in the chest, but rage was at the forefront instead of grief when he spoke again. “Fuck you,” he spat, stepping into the skinny man’s space and making the floorboards crack under the weight of his power. “Don’t fucking pretend to care about any of us dying, you disgusting—”

Dazai grabbed him by the shoulder firmly, fingers threatening to dig into the opening of his collar and touch his skin. Chuuya didn’t dare shrug him off—he couldn’t afford to be disarmed now.

“You assume the agency will use Q,” Dazai said to Sakaguchi. His hand left Chuuya, and the shirt that he had bought for him clung to his skin from the heat and inevitable sweat, like an imprint of his touch. “This would be false.”

“Would it?” Sakaguchi replied in a breath. He wasn’t looking at Chuuya anymore; now all of his attention was on Dazai, and there was no mistaking the ache in his eyes nor his pathetic efforts at keeping professional and composed.

Chuuya could’ve laughed, if he weren’t acutely familiar with the feeling.

“You’re the only person who can control him, Dazai-kun. It’s not so far-fetched to imagine that the agency—”

“It is far-fetched to imagine that our director would dare use a child to do his bidding,” Dazai cut icily. Then he smiled, with none of the warmth that Chuuya had seen on him on a rooftop years ago and had expected out of their last few encounters. “Ango, really. Some of us left for greener pastures. We can’t all just live off of faking love and loyalty.”

Sakaguchi flinched as if he had been struck.

Chuuya decided that he’d had enough of whatever Dazai was playing at.

“Enough chitchat,” he growled. “You two can argue over who’s the worst traitor later. Give us the kid or die, Sakaguchi.”

He grounded himself in the second that followed, as Sakaguchi’s eyes flew toward the window and then to Chuuya himself—and though Dazai had to catch the man’s fist with his arm and step away, Chuuya hardly had to move to sidestep the kick he threw his way.

Sakaguchi jumped back into the room, breathing hard, sweating heavily.

Chuuya smiled at him, and knew that it looked like anything but friendliness or joy. “Come on,” he drawled. “You don’t seriously think you can win against us.”

Sakaguchi tensed. Then his shoulders slumped, and he breathed out, and straightened his back at last.

Chuuya felt a flicker of apprehension, deep in his gut. “You’ll be overwhelmed in seconds,” he tried again. Dazai came to stand by him, but Chuuya found that he didn’t want to risk looking away from Sakaguchi at all. “You used to collect information on both of us, remember? You know what we can do better than most.”

“I remember,” Sakaguchi said lowly. “I also know it’s too much to ask for the years to have broken up your teamwork.”

“Right.” There was still something cold in Chuuya’s belly—he grabbed Dazai by the belt to keep him from walking in Sakaguchi’s direction.

Dazai looked down at him, and his eyes were empty.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

It was as though they were eighteen again, but not in a way that brought Chuuya comfort or amusement.

“Look in front of you, bastard,” he replied. “Something’s not right.”

Dazai did, with ghost-like movements, as if he were carrying the weight of someone else on him.

Sakaguchi’s face hadn’t lost its usual expression of disbelief and fatigue. For all that Chuuya knew, the man was born wearing it. But his breathing had calmed to the point of being worrying, and he was looking at Chuuya intently. Directly.

With a start, Chuuya noticed that the man’s ridiculously wide glasses were gone.

Sakaguchi’s mouth parted on a smile, and he said, “You’re much smarter than they give you credit for, Chuuya-kun.”

Chuuya tried to speak back but found that he couldn’t; his throat knotted up with—fear, he realized starkly, fear so tight that it felt as physical as a rope around his neck, fear the likes of which he hadn’t felt since he was small enough to be picked up in the arms of his mother—


Dazai’s voice came to him as if he were submerged in water. Chuuya heard the sound of something falling and realized too late that it was himself. That the ache in his knees came from them hitting wood, but the ache in his ribs and face came from something else altogether, something Chuuya remembered as if he had felt it yesterday.

Kicks and punches. Chuuya coughed, and felt phantom blood trickle down his chin.

His arms raised in front of him in defense without his controlling them; he thought he could see fresh bruises pile on top of Corruption’s last shine—and those were in the shape of hands too wide to belong to anything but the fabric of his memories.

He felt something touch him, fingers pressing into every piece of skin they could find, and a voice say Fucknext to his ear, and then, You’re a mind-controller too.

Chuuya opened his eyes, in spite of the terror shaking him.

Dazai was looking down on him, but Chuuya couldn’t meet his eyes. Not with the black shadow standing behind Dazai that was the shape of his father, and moved the way his father had moved before Chuuya killed him.

He forced himself to look at Sakaguchi’s pale, stricken face, made himself open his mouth and speak. “What the fuck are you doing to me?” His voice was only a whisper, and he tasted blood with every word.

The shadow of his father had followed his gaze to stand beside Sakaguchi, like a great domesticated monster.

“I’m sorry,” Sakaguchi said—had the gall to sound sincere for—”I, I don’t use my ability often.”


Chuuya pushed Dazai away and vomited onto the shiny floor.

Nothing came out. He knew that. There was no bile running from his lips and no blood up his nose from the hits, not really, but it was what he had done that day when he was eleven. Vomited bile on the floor, snorted blood out of his nose, and taken his father by the wrist to kill him.

“I can’t believe no one ever found out what you could do,” he said, heaving. “Fuck.”

“Chuuya, what—” Dazai still sounded distant. Chuuya didn’t have the ability to parse the urgency on his voice or what it meant.

“I’m trapped in a memory,” he muttered. “My worst, I’m guessing.”

Sakaguchi smiled weakly. “Your most traumatic,” he said, almost an apology. “I’m… I never wanted to use Discourse on Decadence on you, Chuuya-kun. Not on anyone, but especially not on you. You’re a good person.”

Chuuya almost laughed.

He felt Dazai touch his arm again, uselessly. Obviously the ability would only be disabled once he touched the caster. Chuuya wanted to tell him so, but he felt another bruise bloom around his neck, and he whimpered instead.

The sound seemed to shock Dazai into action. He jumped to his feet and forward, and Sakaguchi evaded him with surprising ease, though his breathing was harsh again.

“It’s no use, Dazai-kun,” he said. “I can escape you for a long time—I can keep Chuuya-kun trapped like this for as long as I can evade your touch.”

Dazai didn’t say anything. Chuuya watched him move through the large room with barely any of the grace he usually demonstrated and understood despite the ghost hands choking his neck that Dazai was panicking.

Idiot, he thought, something desperate and fond opening inside him like an old wound.

“I’m fine,” he forced out. Sakaguchi tensed in surprise but didn’t turn away to look at him. “Dazai. Don’t fucking let him go.”

“I won’t,” he heard Dazai say.

Heard, not saw, because his father was standing in front of him.

Chuuya wasn’t the most intellectual person around. He had few memories of attending school and fewer of excelling at it. He was clever, he knew how to get out of tough situations, he was self-sufficient and level-headed and he could lead. But he couldn’t engage in the mind games that Mori so enjoyed, that Dazai lost his soul to until he could only find solace on the edge of a razorblade; he had no passion for science and no knowledge of abilities outside of how to control his own. When it wasn’t controlling him.

Even so, he had to get out of Sakaguchi’s grasp. So Chuuya closed his eyes and stilled despite his father’s approaching steps. He exhaled all the air in his lungs and dug inside himself for the ragged edge of his faith, the severed rope of his trust in Dazai, the way he had in that forest when he let Corruption take hold.

Sakaguchi’s ability hadn’t thrown him back in time. It didn’t even look like his nightmares did. If Chuuya had to hazard a guess, he would say that it was meant to distract rather than torture as he had first assumed; it made him feel the way he had felt on the day the memory took place (physically, with the ache in his broken ribs; mentally, with the fear coursing through his veins and crystallizing around his heart) and superposed it to the present visually in a way that overwhelmed whoever was in its grasp.

The most traumatic, Sakaguchi had said. So he couldn’t count on it to work on everyone. Chuuya choked back the memory of a sob as he felt a fist land against his cheekbone and kept himself still, ears straining for the sound of Dazai and Sakaguchi running circles around each other.

Sakaguchi couldn’t know that anyone he used his ability on had anything traumatic enough in their life to keep them under like this. Oh, he could guess—maybe he even knew that Chuuya did, maybe Dazai had talked all those years ago—though Chuuya had hoped, at least, for Dazai’s silence on this. He had known of Dazai’s earth-shattering hatred of his own mentor and thought, he understands.

Chuuya’s chest constricted on a sob or a laugh. He had never really understood Dazai. He had never wanted to. He had gripped onto the line between them with both hands and pretended for years that he didn’t care, until Dazai left and he stuffed the hole in his belly full of everything distracting he had on hand.

He opened his eyes.

Dazai and Sakaguchi were both panting. Chuuya watched from the floor and around his father’s legs and knew without a doubt that Sakaguchi could keep going far longer than Dazai could; his stance hadn’t diminished in the least, speaking of the kind of training that Chuuya himself found adequate.

“This is ridiculous,” Sakaguchi said, desperate, still trying to appear kind. “Dazai-kun—”

“Don’t you dare speak my name as if you care,” Dazai snapped back in a wheeze. His scarred hand was holding his side tightly, and only then did Chuuya notice the blood stains on his shirt, as if…

As if he was still hurt from the forest.

“I do care,” Sakaguchi replied. His voice was so heavy with emotion that it was a surprise he wasn’t choking on it, but his eyes were dry. “Dazai-kun. I’ve always cared about you.”

Dazai made a noise, like a wounded animal. Chuuya had never heard anything like this come out of him.

“I c-—fuck.” Sakaguchi rubbed a shaking hand over his sweat-drenched face. “I, I cared about the both of you.”

The silence felt as slick as blood over Chuuya’s hands. He knew without asking that neither of them was talking about him, and in the unmourned death clinging to Sakaguchi’s skin—the grieving hollowness of Dazai’s stare—he thought he could find enough room to remember the kind man who had brought Dazai to his home and looked at them both with care. Gentle, undemanding.

He thought, with a flash of understanding, that Sakaguchi could never be cruel enough not to leave an escape way somewhere in his powers, if he had loved a man like that.

Chuuya looked back at the shadow whose blows he had stopped feeling through the shock stilling him. The movements were wrong now, not following the patterns. His father should have disappeared after choking him, because that was when Chuuya had killed him. Now the memory looked fresh. As if it was stuck in a loop.

So Chuuya reached up and closed his fingers around the thin shadow of his father’s wrist, the way he had at eleven with much smaller hands.

The spell broke.

It took effort not to sob from sheer relief as the terror left him and simple, blissful summer heat settled onto his body. Chuuya stayed still on the floor and tried to find his footing.

He needed to find a way to tell Dazai he was free of Sakaguchi’s hold without Sakaguchi realizing.

Thankfully, it seemed luck was on his side. Dazai made a move sideways and Sakaguchi stepped away accordingly, putting him with his back to Chuuya and Dazai facing him; as he hoped, Dazai slid a glance to Chuuya on the floor, and Chuuya nodded silently, thanking every god he knew of for Dazai’s complete mastery of his facial muscles.

Dazai looked just as unhinged and angry when he looked back to Sakaguchi. Their exchange hadn’t even lasted a second.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Sakaguchi was saying. Chuuya rose to a crouching position behind him, without making a sound, and held his breath when he saw Sakaguchi reach inside his suit jacket and pull out a small gun. The man pointed it at Dazai with a steady hand. “Please.”

“You keep saying that,” Dazai answered darkly. “Yet Odasaku is dead and Chuuya looks like a corpse.”


“I’m just wondering, Ango.” Dazai’s voice was the cruelest Chuuya had ever heard it. “Does it happen accidentally? Or you do you have a special place in your tight schedule dedicated to destroying everything I care about?”

Sakaguchi’s shoulders shook, and the safety of the gun clicked.

Chuuya jumped the last of the distance separating him from Sakaguchi and let gravity weigh over the man as soon as his fingers brushed the back of his jacket; Sakaguchi fell with a cry, finger tightening over the trigger reflexively.

Energy rushed through Chuuya’s hands, went through Sakaguchi’s body and the gun he held—inside the chamber and between trigger mechanism and bullet, between spark and bullet, snuffing the motion out of gravity in a fraction of a second.

He could hardly breathe in the silence that followed. Dazai was frozen in place in front of him, his face a mask of surprise, hatred and worry. In the end, Chuuya rose to his feet again despite the shaking in his legs. He ripped the gun out of Sakaguchi’s hand, walked to the window, and threw it upwards, charged with enough of the Tainted Sorrow to make sure that it would reach space before starting to fall down.

Then, he exhaled.

“Chuuya,” Dazai said behind him.

“Not now,” he replied tightly.

For once, Dazai didn’t dispute him the right to silence.

Sakaguchi was stuck to the floor. Chuuya realized that he had probably overdone it once he saw how still the man’s torso was, and relieved some of weight on him so he at least could breathe. Sakaguchi gulped in mouthfuls of air and coughed them out unattractively. His hair was in disarray. It had fallen out of the pin he kept it in and was sticking to his damp, red forehead. The wet around his eyes wasn’t from sweat, though.

Dazai was standing over the man. His eyes were fixed on Chuuya but Chuuya had no doubt that he was achingly conscious of Sakaguchi’s fallen body at his feet; his face was pale, his eyes dark on the kind of all-encompassing hatred that Chuuya had not witnessed since they were children.

He stepped toward them. “You’ve lost,” he told Sakaguchi, and ignored the way his own voice shook, raspy, as if he really had been strangled. “You can’t fight, you can’t use your shitty ability on Dazai or me. It’s over. Tell us where Q is.”

Sakaguchi looked at Dazai, face tight on misery. “Dazai-kun…” He choked, then, because Dazai had stepped on his chest and leaned all of his weight forward.

“Don’t be difficult now, Ango,” Dazai said. His foot twisted sideways, and Sakaguchi moaned.

They wouldn’t get him with torture, Chuuya thought. Sakaguchi knew how to handle pain too well—he could already tell that Sakaguchi was bracing himself for it, voicing his hurt to keep his mind clear, readying himself for the certainty of death with nothing but sheer habit.

And seeing Dazai torture someone felt wrong. This grown-up, warmer version of Dazai, who wept for a friend’s death, who called the monster of their childhood ‘kid‘… Chuuya wanted nothing less than to see him dye his hands with a former friend’s blood.

So he stepped forward and wrapped his sweat-damp hand around Dazai’s wrist, skin-to-skin. “Let him go.”

Dazai tensed almost imperceptibly. “My,” he drawled, looking at Chuuya again. “Now who’s getting soft?”

“You don’t fucking know how to do this anymore,” Chuuya snapped back. “Let me handle it.” He squeezed, tightly, feeling the bumps and ridges of Dazai’s scarred skin against his palm.

Dazai’s foot left Sakaguchi’s chest.

He walked out of the room, shaking Chuuya’s hold off and slamming the door shut behind himself. Chuuya paid no mind to the ache behind his ribs—the remnants of panic and something else, something he had no name for—and looked down at Sakaguchi’s prowled form.

“Thank you,” Sakaguchi rasped at him. His eyes were wet again.

“I didn’t do it for you,” Chuuya replied.

Sakaguchi smiled. “I know. That’s why I’m thanking you.”

Thank you for taking care of him.

Oda had looked at Chuuya like this, once. Not with pity, but with gratitude.

They found Q, terrified out of his mind, in one of the neighboring rooms.

Chuuya didn’t wait for Dazai to do whatever it was that he planned to do to subdue the boy. This room’s window gave to a narrow, empty street, so he jumped out and let himself float down until his feet touched ground. He started walking the way they had come, felt the city’s hot wind on his sweaty skin, kept his mind clear off the vividness of feeling someone hurt him with no way for him to fight back.

It took a lot less time for him to reach their hotel than it had taken for them to find Sakaguchi’s. Chuuya had left Sakaguchi unconscious and mostly unharmed in his room, strapped securely enough to the desk chair that no one would find him before room service the following day; and even if Sakaguchi had a way of freeing himself or contacting someone before that, Chuuya was pretty sure that Double Black was still enough of a threat to keep people at bay. Q was valuable, but not valuable enough to lose lives over.

Chuuya felt no relief upon feeling the AC on him when he entered the lobby this time. He climbed the stairs up to his room, slid the card key into the slot in his door, and opened it, feet already half out of his shoes.

Dazai was waiting for him inside, sitting on the bed.

For a moment Chuuya stilled, eyes drawn to Dazai’s but unable to speak. Dazai’s face had regained some color and warmth—he wished he didn’t notice, but he did. He always did.

Finally, Dazai smiled. “It’s like you forget taxis exist,” he said lightly.

Some modicum of energy sparked in Chuuya at the sound of his voice, and he threw his shoe at Dazai’s face in irritation. “Don’t break into my room.”

“They make it so easy. It’s practically asking me to, Chuuya.” Dazai had grabbed the shoe with both hands and let it fall to the floor with distaste on his face.

“I’ll be sure to thoroughly trap the door once you get out,” Chuuya replied.

“I always appreciate you caring for my entertainment.”

There was a slight edge to Dazai’s words right then, but all of Chuuya’s body and mind screamed no at the mere thought of engaging it. “Whatever,” he muttered. He rubbed his hand over his face despite how weak this habit made him look. His fingers slid to the side of his neck, touched the tie still holding his hair up.

Dazai hopped off the bed. “Q’s secure in my room,” he declared. “You can sleep, if you want to.”

Chuuya tensed, and his hand fell down his side. “No.”

“I won’t leave,” Dazai added. “Kunikida’s going to join me tomorrow afternoon, I can’t leave before then.”

How do I know you’re not lying to me? Chuuya almost said.

As if reading his mind, Dazai handed over his phone, open on the text in question. Chuuya didn’t ask for permission before scrolling through the rest of Dazai’s messages; another one from Fukuzawa, telling the same story, convinced him.

“If you’re gone when I wake up I will find you and kill you,” Chuuya said, throwing back the phone. It landed in Dazai’s hand harmlessly. “Q’s going back to headquarters with me.”

“We can discuss this once you’ve slept,” Dazai replied evenly.

Chuuya didn’t have the strength for suspicion anymore. He walked toward the bed, shed the silk shirt off his back, took off the gun and holster so that he was only in his undershirt; he didn’t hear Dazai move as he stripped off his pants as well and didn’t find it in himself to care. The bed felt like heaven when he let himself fall on it face-first. He kicked the bedspread and blanket off with his feet, dug a hand under the pillow until he felt the shape of it under his cheek, and closed his eyes.

A weight settled on the bed next to his hips, making his body lean an inch to the side. “What now,” he muttered.

Dazai didn’t answer. Chuuya heard the noise that the sheets made as he leaned sideways, though, and when Dazai’s fingers touched the back of his head, all of his body tensed.

Without a word, Dazai tugged on the tie. It hurt for a moment but his fingers were gentle, easing Chuuya’s hair out of it and spreading it over his neck as if painting a picture; Chuuya’s scalp tingled from being released of tension, and Chuuya couldn’t tell if the knot in his throat was from fatigue anymore. All he knew was the familiar burn in his exhausted eyes.

Dazai’s fingers never directly touched his skin, but he might as well have pushed the flat of his palm directly through Chuuya’s spine.

 Chuuya awoke to pitch blackness. The sluggish, heavy, dry feeling that ran through his body was enough to tell him that he hadn’t been out of it for more than a few hours. It had been sunset by the time he and Dazai made it back to the hotel, and now the digital clock on his bedside table read 2:34, blinking a gentle green.

He was still laying on his front, shivering because the AC had been turned on while he slept. Chuuya pushed himself into a kneeling position with both hands and slid out of the bed entirely.

He found rice crackers in the cupboard above the sink of the kitchenette and ate the entire bag, before downing the full bottle of iced tea stored in the tiny fridge under. Then he made his way to the bathroom, threw his undershirt and boxers into a corner, and let water burn over him. He made it as hot as he could stand, washed his teeth and cleaned his face while it ran over him and turned his skin red. He didn’t decrease the temperature until he started having trouble breathing.

The cool felt heavenly after that.

There was a note on the bedside table. Chuuya only noticed it once he finally turned on the ceiling lights as he came out of the bathroom. 37B, it read.

He crumpled it in his fist.

Chuuya didn’t need to dig through his own luggage. He upended the content of the bag that Dazai had bought him on the bed and made his pick out of the light shirts and slacks there, all soft, fine material beneath his bruised fingers. He settled on a bottle green shirt and black slacks, shoved his damp hair to the side of his neck, and as he tied his choker in place he told himself he wasn’t trying to impress anyone.

The third floor of the hotel looked much the same as the one Chuuya was staying on. He made his way to the door labeled 37B without faltering and knocked once on the resin panel.

Dazai opened almost immediately.

He had changed his clothes as well. The bandages were still gone, but the sleeves of his black shirt ran down his arms and wrists now; Dazai gave Chuuya a brief once-over that Chuuya felt like a full-body shiver and stepped aside to let him in.

“Didn’t even have the decency to choke on your pillow,” he murmured.

Chuuya couldn’t help the fleeting smile on his lips.

Q wasn’t sleeping—the boy was sitting under the window with no restraint on him but for Dazai’s gift and, no doubt, Dazai’s words. His nightmarish eyes found Chuuya’s as soon as he walked in, but he made no comment. He didn’t smile, didn’t threaten, didn’t play the part of the crazy child-demon that Chuuya remembered so well from his own childhood.

He looked like a child. He didn’t even have his horrific doll with him. Chuuya didn’t think he had ever seen Q without his ability running.

Heart beating fast, Chuuya turned to Dazai. “What the fuck is this?”

“This,” Dazai said, “is why Q should come back with the agency.” His smile was strained, but it was real.

Behind Chuuya, Q whimpered.

“You think you can, what, fix him?”

“I think an environment where he isn’t being used and abused can’t be worse than one where he is,” Dazai replied. “Q didn’t attack a single member of the agency while he was with us.”

Chuuya threw another look at the boy. He couldn’t parse this—couldn’t reconcile the dangerous murder machine that had caused enough casualties within the mafia that Mori and Dazai had to lock him up at the age of seven, just so they’d be safe, with the twelve-year-old cringing under the moonlight in front of him.

“I have orders,” Chuuya said. “Either bring the boy back or kill him.”

“I’ve no doubt that you do.”

Dazai’s voice was kind. Overwhelmingly, wrongly so. “Dazai,” Chuuya said between his teeth, “you can’t fix this. He’s crazy. He’ll kill you all eventually.”

“I didn’t know you cared about my colleagues,” Dazai retorted.

“I rather like this Kunikida guy, actually.”

There was silence, and then Dazai laughed, helpless and uncomposed. Chuuya felt warm at the sound despite everything else, warm enough to turn his back to Dazai so Dazai wouldn’t see his face.

He looked at Q again; though the boy hadn’t moved from his spot, his eyes were fixed on Chuuya. His ability had deformed his appearance, and abuse had torn scars into his body too reminiscent of Dazai’s for comfort, but there was something infinitely childish in the way he pleaded without words, eyes wet with fear and resignation. As if he wanted to say, Please, but knew that the effort of putting this much hope into a word was futile, because no one ever listened.

A familiar helplessness. The familiar, aching feeling of having been a child who said Please and was ignored.

“You’ll have to make it look like you pried him out of my hands with a fight,” he told Dazai. His mouth felt dry as the desert. He heard Dazai shift on his feet behind him, start saying his name, but Chuuya raised a hand to stop him. “Don’t get the wrong idea. It pisses me off to let you have him, but I’d rather he was anywhere but where he can hurt my men.”

“Mori will know,” Dazai said quietly.

“Mori probably expected it. If he really wanted someone to beat you he’d have come himself instead of sending me.”

The thought hurt, no matter how true it was.

Dazai’s hand grabbed his shoulder and turned him around until their eyes could meet. “You’re an idiot,” he said, and the fondness on his voice tightened in Chuuya’s throat, tugged at the torn end of something he had been unburying for weeks now. “And Mori’s an idiot too if he thinks he stands a better chance of killing me than you do.”

“What the fuck are you—”

“I’d defend myself against Mori,” Dazai cut in. His smile was bashful; his voice terribly sincere. “I don’t know if I’d defend myself against you, Chuuya.”

Chuuya knew he was staring—he knew Dazai could probably read more in his eyes than he even was capable of feeling—but it didn’t matter how much he looked, how much he sought the tells of a lie on Dazai’s face or voice. His mouth opened, and closed, and Dazai’s eyes drifted down to look at his lips in an achingly human and recognizable way.

He pushed a hand against Dazai’s chest when he made to lean forward, stopping him, throwing an angry look at the child still huddled under the windowsill. “Fuck,” he let out, before storming out of the room altogether.

For a second he entertained the thought of breaking the window at the end of the hallway and throwing himself out, floating far enough up that Dazai wouldn’t be able to see him anymore. He hadn’t brought anything important with him. He could afford to leave everything behind.

“Chuuya,” Dazai called in a breath, and Chuuya froze in place for the longest, tensest second of his life.

“Downstairs,” he managed to reply.

For the second time that day, Dazai allowed him silence. “Just give me a second,” he replied, face flushed, before kneeling by the door and fiddling with something. A different lock than the automatic one slid in place, sealing the room inside and out and the monster boy in it.

Chuuya didn’t wait more. He pushed open the staircase’s door with a little too much strength: the door folded almost like paper at the center, the joints creaked heavily, and Chuuya climbed down the stairs too fast and too heavy. Dazai shadowed him every step of the way.

He unlocked his door once he reached it and threw the card at the desk alongside his unopened luggage. Dazai closed the door carefully behind them.

And then Chuuya shoved him against it, not hard enough to hurt, only enough for Dazai to let out a rushed breath from the deepest of his strained lungs.

Chuuya kept his hand on him so he wouldn’t move—wouldn’t cross the arm’s length separating them. “What the fuck was that?” he growled.

Dazai didn’t look fazed at all. “Is that how you want to play it?” was all he replied. “Fine. We can argue if you want.”

“I don’t want—” Chuuya stopped himself, because he didn’t know what he wanted.

He didn’t know what to say.

His hand pressed harder into Dazai’s chest, but then Dazai hissed quietly, and Chuuya remembered the blood from earlier. His grip eased despite himself.

“Stop playing with me,” he said.

“I’m not,” Dazai replied. “I wasn’t lying.”

Chuuya’s heartbeat was in his throat, almost painful in its strength. “Then you’re fucking stupid.” His voice was shaking. “You’re practically inviting me to kill you.”

“A dream come true, isn’t it?”

Dazai’s face was longing, and soft, both of his eyes peering into Chuuya’s with no self-satisfied glint. There was no way Chuuya could avoid the memory of the fourteen-year-old boy whose ego he had punched down a notch on the rooftop of the mafia’s headquarters, and who had looked at him and smiled at him the very same way.

There was no way he could avoid noticing that Dazai’s hair was shorter now than it had been then, his face thinner with adulthood, his body warm under the loose press of Chuuya’s knuckles. Solid as a rock. So much more attractive than any memory.

Chuuya had never wanted to kill Dazai less.

Dazai’s hand came up and touched his wrist, as gently as it had on the day they had met again after years. Chuuya had been working a frustration he hadn’t even known he felt out of his body then; and frustration was present in every line of him now, different, heated, dripping over the edge of far too small a corner of his mind.

“Chuuya,” Dazai said, his fingers circling Chuuya’s green-bruised wrist. “You’re not going to hurt me.”

“Someone’s fucking confident,” Chuuya replied between his teeth.

Dazai’s smile was understanding as he answered, “You’d never raise a hand on someone you care about.”

The air froze in Chuuya’s lungs.

Dazai’s hand moved forward, leaving his wrist to touch the inside of his forearm and then the crook of his elbow, where Chuuya had pulled up the sleeves of the green shirt. His fingers dug into the fabric and drew Chuuya forward with it.

“I’ve hit you hundreds of times,” he murmured, letting himself follow the motion. His feet were touching Dazai’s when he stilled, and he had to lean back his head to keep looking at him.

“When we fought,” Dazai agreed. “But I’m not fighting now.”

He wasn’t touching with the intent to strike when his fingers found the back of Chuuya’s neck, wasn’t showing his teeth when he smiled and leaned down and his lips hovered just under Chuuya’s nose, just above Chuuya’s mouth, in askance. “Please tell me I can do this,” he said, voice tight, and Chuuya laughed, directly against his lips.

He let go of Dazai’s chest to grab his collar instead and tug, raised his other hand to slid into Dazai’s soft hair and press their mouths together, felt his lips swell from the contact alone and electricity thrum through his vein instead of oxygen. He leaned into Dazai’s body and ignored the huff of delight that Dazai let out at this; when Dazai opened his lips Chuuya followed instantly, tilted his head sideways, let Dazai tongue his bottom lip almost shyly.

His face was burning. He closed his mouth on Dazai’s lip, felt Dazai trail wetly to the side of his mouth in surprise.


“Shut up,” Chuuya replied.

He felt Dazai swallow. “If you don’t want—”

He stepped on Dazai’s foot, just because he could, and Dazai closed his mouth with a grunt. “Just give me a moment, damn it.”

Chuuya rested his weight on his heels once more—felt another rush of blood to his head as he realized that he’d been tiptoeing into the kiss—and pressed his face onto Dazai’s shoulder. His hand was still touching Dazai’s hair, the other pressed against his own cheek, fingers hooked into Dazai’s collar.

Of course, it was too much to ask of Dazai not to seize the occasion.

Chuuya felt Dazai’s laugh on the top of his head before he even spoke. “Was it too much?” The asshole had the gall to sound amused, bright—fond.

Chuuya’s face was so hot he thought it might start smoking soon. “If you say another word I’m going to rip your tongue out and pin it to that board over the desk.”

“Creative.” Dazai still had a hand free, and he wrapped it around Chuuya’s waist so that Chuuya’s single-minded lean into his body turned into a hug. He touched Chuuya’s nape almost as if he were afraid to break it—twisted his fingers into Chuuya’s hair and pulled, gentle. Chuuya raised his head reluctantly. “That’s actually the cutest thing I’ve ever seen you do,” Dazai said.

His tone was conversational but his face was flushed, his pupils dilated. His mouth wet from Chuuya’s mouth.

Chuuya pulled him down again with something too close to a moan tightening in his throat, and this time, when Dazai licked into his mouth, he let him.

Both of Dazai’s hands grabbed him by the hips and pulled him in as they kissed, tugged the bottle green shirt up to touch skin, and Chuuya breathed out harshly against Dazai’s mouth at the feeling alone. Warmth was dragging down from his face and to his belly; he nipped Dazai’s lip, opened his eyes, and wasn’t surprised to find Dazai looking right back at him with nothing but heat.

Chuuya licked his lips, tongue brushing Dazai’s, and said, “Wanna take this to bed?”

Dazai’s eyes darkened even more.

Chuuya didn’t struggle when Dazai pulled him in by the searing hands he had on his hips and tugged the green shirt above his head. He smiled, skin prickling with goosebumps from the air conditioning’s harsh touch, and then Dazai hooked a finger under his choker, at his nape, and pulled.

He couldn’t help the low sound that left his lips as he followed, let his head fall back and bared his neck.

“Fuck,” Dazai said, mouthing at his jawline, right under his ear. “I’ve wanted to do that for years.”

“Why do you think I wear it,” Chuuya replied with a grin, and was rewarded when Dazai tugged again, the metal buckle pressing warmly into Chuuya’s throat.

Dazai’s hand dropped down to link under his thighs and lift him, and Chuuya let him, wrapped his legs around Dazai’s hips and crushed their mouths together as soon as they were level. Dazai moaned, low in his throat, probably from feeling just how enthusiastic Chuuya was against his hipbone. He crossed the few meters separating them from the bed and climbed on it with Chuuya still locked around him—until Chuuya pushed him sideways onto the mattress, to the side he hadn’t slept on.

His hands bore his weight on either side of Dazai’s head when he bent down. He did it too fast, and Dazai spluttered at the mouthful of hair he got instead of lips, had to push it out of Chuuya’s burning face so they could kiss properly. Chuuya closed his eyes and leaned bodily onto him—elbows instead of hands on the mattress, his chest touching Dazai’s and their legs tangled together. For a while they just kissed, languid and slow, like teenagers would. Dazai pushed back against the pillow when he needed to breathe, and Chuuya rose to tuck his hair back uselessly. It always fell back down, because Dazai wouldn’t stop touching it.

Chuuya hadn’t known intimacy more perfect than the feeling of Dazai’s damp mouth hitting his chin when he slipped forward accidentally. He had never known sloppiness more enjoyable than that of their kisses, wet, warm, messy.

His whole body felt heated and slow by the time he drew his legs forward to kneel. Dazai’s breathing was unhurried. His face relaxed.

Chuuya felt his eyelids droop from the simple pleasure of seeing him like this, felt all the aches in his body disappear and leave him almost drowsy in their wake. He lifted a hand to touch Dazai’s cheek; smiled when Dazai turned his head to nuzzle his palm and press his lips at the center of it.

“Sap,” he commented.

“Never said I wasn’t,” Dazai replied with a laugh. “I love your hands.”

Chuuya’s face burned anew, and he took his hand back. “And here I thought you had something for my hair.”

“I have something for all of you, I think.”

Chuuya huffed. “You sure didn’t look like it as a kid.”

“Come on, Chuuya,” Dazai said. He grabbed Chuuya’s choker between his fingers again to tug him downward and kiss his cheek. His breath was hot against Chuuya’s face when he spoke. “You know you’re attractive, I wasn’t going to give you ammunition by admitting it.”

“There’s a middle ground between telling me you have a crush on me and telling the whole world you think I’m ugly,” Chuuya replied, lips shivering into a smile.

“Did I hurt your teenage feelings?”

No, asshole.” Not like that, at least.

But Chuuya didn’t want to think about that. He kissed Dazai again, slow and hot, ground his hip into Dazai’s and felt the sigh that Dazai let out rush over his face. Dazai found Chuuya’s hand by his head and linked their fingers together. “I do love your hands,” he repeated into Chuuya’s mouth. “I didn’t realize how much until we fought that monster the other day.”

Chuuya put some distance between them so he could look at Dazai’s face.

Dazai looked back and continued, “You didn’t have any bruises. It made me realize that I couldn’t even remember a time I’d seen you without bruises.”

His hand squeezed Chuuya’s, dragging some phantom ache out of the almost-faded marks on it.

“You’re ridiculous,” Chuuya said softly.

Dazai smiled at him.

His neck was surprisingly unscarred, except for the long white stroke underlining his jaw. Chuuya pressed his mouth to it, flicked his tongue against it, felt Dazai’s chest jump underneath his. He ground his hips down again and locked his thighs around Dazai’s hips so he wouldn’t fall down; then he dragged his hands down Dazai’s chest until he could grab the hem of his shirt and pull it up.

Dazai had to arch off the mattress and squirm so the fabric wouldn’t be caught under his ass anymore. Chuuya pushed him back down against the bed as soon as the shirt was off.

He stroke his palm over Dazai’s chest, felt each rib under his fingers and dug his knuckles into the soft skin of his belly. Dazai’s cock was hard against his thigh. Chuuya felt it even through the fabric of their clothes.

“There’s everything we need in the drawer,” Dazai said mildly.

Chuuya pinched his nipple, and Dazai let out a satisfying yelp of pain. “Did you plan this?”

“We’re in a hotel, Chuuya.” He didn’t deny it, despite the jab.

Chuuya hissed, annoyed, and leaned sideways to open the drawer.

There were condoms and lube inside—all sizes shapes and flavors, even internal condoms, Chuuya noticed, slightly surprised. He left those out and shoved what he needed into Dazai’s waiting hand, asking, “How do you want to do this?”

Dazai’s fingers closed around his hand and the items alike. “However you want,” he replied.

Chuuya eyed him skeptically. “You’d let me fuck you?”

“Gladly,” Dazai answered, too fast and honest, making warm blood crawl up Chuuya’s neck. “Is that what you want?”

Yes—”No,” Chuuya said. Paused. “Fuck. I meant yes, I—”

“Chuuya,” Dazai said, taunting. “Would you let me fuck you?”

The picture tore through Chuuya’s mind too starkly not to make heat pool between his legs: Dazai fucking him, Dazai opening him with his fingers and kneeling between his legs, Dazai pushing him flat against a floor or a mattress or a wall, fingers hooked into Chuuya’s choker or fisted into his hair as he thrust into him.

He startled out of it when the fingers of Dazai’s free hand touched his face more gently than he could bear. “Just so you know,” Dazai said. He sounded strained. “The face you’re making right now is really, really hot.”

Chuuya shoved his hand against Dazai’s mouth—tried to stop him talking—but Dazai opened his lips, caught Chuuya’s fingers with his teeth, and sucked them in against his tongue.

Chuuya’s breath caught. Dazai grazed his teeth over skin and bone and bruise, stroked the flat of his tongue under the pads of Chuuya’s index and middle finger—then he released them, let them trail a shiny line of saliva against his chin. His hips thrust up into Chuuya’s crotch, making Chuuya’s hand clench into Dazai’s grip.

“I,” Chuuya tried.

“I’d really enjoy that,” Dazai said, devastatingly sincere. “Fucking you. I can’t think of anything more attractive than you trusting me enough to let me do that.”

“I trust you with my life,” Chuuya said dumbly.

That was all he could think of replying. He trusted Dazai with his life the way he trusted his lungs to breathe.

Dazai’s face softened. “That’s different,” he replied. “You don’t even realize how guarded you are, Chuuya.”

Chuuya clenched his teeth. “You’re one to fucking talk,” he snapped back.

“Yeah,” and Dazai’s chuckle was a longing sort of humor, aching and tired. “You’re just the exception to everything.”

Chuuya wanted so much in that instant. He wanted to lean down and kiss Dazai again, open-mouthed and scorching; he wanted to crawl backward on the bed and take Dazai’s cock into his mouth while he fingered him open, and he wanted Dazai to do the same to him; he wanted to watch Dazai’s face flush with pleasure and see what he looked like with orgasm loosening all of his guarded distance.

He pressed down onto Dazai’s hips and said, “I’m going to ride you.”

Please,” Dazai breathed.

His hands were at Chuuya’s hips almost immediately, opening the leather belt and tugging down the zipper, and it took a lot of uneasy squirming to get the slacks and underwear down Chuuya’s legs at all; he ended up with his face into Dazai’s belly as Dazai shrugged out of his own slacks, and considered just sucking him off anyway to save himself the trouble of moving further.

But Dazai was sitting up to look at him, grabbing him by the back of the head and pulling him in to kiss and to hold. Chuuya sat astride him once more, patted the bed blindly for the lube—

He felt Dazai smile against his lips. “I got it,” he said. His fingers were wet when they touched Chuuya’s hip.

“Pretentious fuck,” Chuuya replied.

“Mmh. You love it.”

He didn’t tense when Dazai’s fingers touched the cleft of his ass only because Dazai was looking straight at him with nothing but warmth and want in his eyes; Chuuya spread his legs further, pressed his cock into the warm skin of Dazai’s belly, and held his breath when he felt a finger push in. He closed his eyes—felt Dazai’s mouth in his neck, teeth tugging on the damn choker and tongue licking into the hollow of his throat—felt the stretch and growing warmth of Dazai’s long fingers rubbing inside him, gentle, so gentle.

Hands that had killed so many. Hands that hadn’t bloodied themselves in four years—that Chuuya had kept free of blood for one day more.

The thought shouldn’t be so comforting, settling in his chest as it did.

Dazai crooked his fingers, and Chuuya’s spine ran electric, breath stopped short as if he had been struck. “Good?” he heard Dazai say against his collarbone, and it sounded so distant through the heat fogging his mind that Chuuya took a long time to even breathe out his assent.

Dazai kissed his throat and did it again.

Eventually Chuuya pushed him back against the bed, panting, cock almost aching between his damp thighs. Dazai’s fingers slipped out of him and trailed slick over his ass and hip. He didn’t protest when Chuuya took the lube out of his hand and wet his palm with it, only watched with heavy eyes, throat bobbing when he swallowed. Chuuya’s hand was shaking when it took hold of Dazai’s cock behind him—already covered with a condom, of course—and he stroked it succinctly to spread the lube on it, directing it upright as he sat back over it.

He exhaled as Dazai’s cock slipped in, hissed when Dazai thrust up reflexively. “Sorry,” Dazai said immediately, face crimson and voice strained.

Chuuya’s annoyance vanished. “It’s okay,” he replied evenly. Pushing himself down felt uncomfortable but didn’t hurt, so he did, until he didn’t need to hold Dazai’s cock at all and could simply rest, hands spread flat on the bed by Dazai’s shoulders.

Dazai was panting.

Chuuya looked at him avidly as he moved, drinking in the flutter of Dazai’s eyelashes over his cheeks when he rocked tentatively backwards. “Chuuya,” Dazai said, like a prayer.

He’d never felt so high off satisfaction in his life.

“Feels good?” he asked, teasing even if uncertain. He rocked forward; Dazai’s hands clenched around his hips almost hard enough to hurt.

Chuuya found his pace, pushing on his hands to meet the heat of Dazai’s cock and then with his legs to leave it. His knees slipped at one point, making him flush with embarrassment and scramble forward to catch himself, but Dazai made no comment, just stared at him through the slow blinking of his eyes and breathed, and Chuuya felt him struggle to keep his hips still under his thighs.

He straightened up with the intent to lean back and see how that felt—but Dazai’s cock hit the same spot that his fingers had halfway in, ripping a moan from his lips and tightening every muscle in his body.

Fuck,” Dazai almost sobbed; his nails dug hard into Chuuya’s hipbone and all of his efforts ceased and he thrust up, back sliding down against the sheets. “Fuck, Chuuya—”

Chuuya couldn’t answer, he was breathing too hard, but he clenched down on Dazai, moved his back again, whimpered when the heat rushed up his body once more.

“Please let me fuck you,” Dazai was saying. Chuuya looked down at him through the blur in his mind, licked the salt of sweat off his lip.

“I don’t know if you deserve it,” Chuuya replied lowly.

Dazai’s offended look would be more convincing if he wasn’t gasping on air from the feeling of Chuuya’s ass alone, he thought, vainly. He was still rocking his hips, still teasing himself with the knowledge that he only had to arch his back to feel that mind-numbing pleasure again; the stretch of Dazai’s cock in itself sweetened the ache of moving like this, even if it didn’t do much to ease him toward orgasm. Chuuya knew he could go on like this for hours if he wanted to.

Dazai knew, too, said the desperate way he was licking his lips. He was meeting Chuuya’s motions but not trying to overwhelm them; Chuuya didn’t protest when Dazai’s hands ran up from his hips, when his thumbs caught on his nipples and when his fingers linked together behind his neck to pull him down.

They swallowed hair as they kissed, but neither of them felt like letting go to get rid of the problem. Chuuya pulled away, rocked back onto Dazai’s cock, and felt Dazai’s moan at the movement as if it had left his own lips.

“All right,” he conceded.

Dazai crushed their mouths together for a second, whispered ow as Chuuya’s teeth hit the corner of his mouth; then he was pushing Chuuya off of him and guiding him to lean in the mostly-sweat-free space next to him.

He was such a sight like this; on his knees between Chuuya’s legs, cock hard and red, mouth open and lips wet. His hands were almost reverent when they pushed Chuuya’s thighs open over his own, when they stroked up to grab his hips and pull him in. Chuuya let himself slide forward with anticipation coiled tight in his belly.

Dazai’s cock felt very different from his angle, it turned out. Anything Chuuya wanted to say died on his tongue once Dazai push himself back in, and his head craned backward as his body shook above the sheets.

“Here, right?” he heard Dazai whisper—Dazai’s hands were at his waist again and pulling him forward into his next thrust, sparking the same heat through Chuuya’s body again that left his thighs shaking and his throat caught in a low, constant note of tension. “This is where you like it. God, Chuuya…”

“Stop talking,” Chuuya ordered, “stop fucking talking or I’ll—”

He cut himself off only because Dazai was apparently tired of sitting back; he leaned over Chuuya’s body the way Chuuya had earlier, hips supporting most of him and crushing Chuuya under him as he unfolded his legs so they were just laid between Chuuy’s, calf to calf. The motion dragged his cock out unwittingly—at least until he snapped his hips forward with all of his weight.

Dazai,” Chuuya cried out, voice high with nerve, shaking in his throat.

“I’m not going to last,” Dazai warned into his ear. He bit the shell of it, mouthed down damply into Chuuya’s neck and moaned into his collarbone with every jot of his hips. Chuuya dug his nails into Dazai’s shoulder blade and slid his other hand between their bodies to reach his cock. He stroked himself tightly, tensing, feeling Dazai tense above him in return. “Fuck, Chuuya, you feel so good. I wish you knew how good.”

“I’ve got an idea,” Chuuya replied breezily. His fingers were slick now, and he jerked himself faster, off-tempo, as Dazai fucked into him.

Dazai laughed in his ear. “Someone likes when I talk.”

Who? If I could make you shut up forever—” Dazai snapped his hip forward, his cock into Chuuya’s prostate, and Chuuya’s words died a swift death.

Dazai pushed himself on his elbows to look at him, lips stretched wide despite the evidence of mindless pleasure on his face. His back must hurt like this but he never showed it—just joined Chuuya’s grip on his own cock with one of his hands hotly.

“Wanna know something else?” he murmured. His hand squeezed Chuuya’s cock, and Chuuya bit his lips so he wouldn’t make a sound—”You look gorgeous in those clothes I bought you, I knew green was your color, you should’ve listened to me from the start—”

“Oh my God, Dazai,” Chuuya cut in, rolling his eyes, half heat and half laughter, “shut the fuck up.”

Dazai was grinning when he kissed him, all lips, all love.

Chuuya came into their joined hands and with all the weight of Dazai’s eyes on him; he didn’t say a word when Dazai kneeled up again, lifted Chuuya’s legs to rest them over his knees, fucked back into him. He bore the burn of overstimulation and watched Dazai seek his own orgasm with heavy eyes, until Dazai’s hips stuttered painfully, until Dazai’s face tensed and then relaxed, all at once. The picture he made then was more entrancing than anything beforehand; not Dazai’s self-confidence at fourteen years old, not Dazai’s cruelty at eighteen, not the sight of him at twenty-two chained to a wall in the basement of their headquarters, grown-up and alive and smiling at Chuuya like four years didn’t stand between them.

It took a long while for Dazai to find his breathing. He spent it looking at Chuuya in silence as if trying to burn the image of him into his mind. He rubbed Chuuya’s thighs with his thumbs before he pulled out—and then he leaned down, and pressed a kiss just above Chuuya’s bellybutton.

Chuuya didn’t hear the words Dazai whispered into his skin. But he felt the flick of his tongue, the heat of his mouth, and thought that he didn’t need to. Dazai stepped out of the bed with a last lingering touch and ventured into the room, sighing loudly.

Chuuya shifted to his side and watched him throw the condom away, eyes following the lines of his body and catching at the red marks he had left on him. Dazai walked into the bathroom for a moment afterward. He came out with a wet towel in hand.

“Thanks,” Chuuya said as he handed it over. He wiped his stomach and hands with it before letting it fall where his clothes lay.

The whole bed was a little damp from their sweat, so it wasn’t any use trying to look for a dry spot. Chuuya pushed himself to the other side anyway, in the hope of Dazai joining him, which he did. Both of them lay on their front and looked at each other.

Chuuya blinked sleepily when Dazai pushed the hair out of his face. “Isn’t it bad for you to spend the night here?” he asked.

“Mmh. There isn’t much of the night left.”

Chuuya punched Dazai’s shoulder lightly. “I meant leaving Q alone for hours.”

“I don’t think Ango’s going to be bothering us.”

It was the same conclusion Chuuya himself had come to, but the thought didn’t abate his unease. He turned his head to the other side so he wouldn’t have to look at Dazai again, eyeing the white shine of the city just under the night sky through the window.

He felt Dazai’s hand on his spine. “Why did you stop me?” Dazai asked softly. There was no need to ask what he was referring to.

“You’re a bigger idiot than I thought if you can’t figure it out yourself,” Chuuya mumbled into the pillow.

“I want to hear you say it.”

And years ago, Chuuya wouldn’t have. He’d have thrown Dazai out of his home, or thrown himself out of Dazai’s home, and cut the truth of his caring to the quick before it risked leaving his lips.

But Dazai was next to him. They were naked and languid, skin covered in their mixed sweat, the taste of Chuuya on Dazai’s lips and the ache of Dazai in Chuuya’s backside. Dazai’s hand stroking his back warmly.

So he looked at him again and said, “I don’t want you to go back to how you were when you left.”

There was no surprise on Dazai’s face; only affection, clear as streamwater.

Chuuya pushed himself up with his elbow and kissed him. He didn’t open his mouth and didn’t close his eyes—instead he watched Dazai’s eyelids shut and felt his hand caress his nape, his fingers tangle in his hair. When he pulled back, Dazai’s eyes stayed close.

Chuuya said, “I’ve wanted to do that for years,” against Dazai’s mouth.

“I know,” Dazai replied.

The shape of his smile felt so very warm.

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