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Chuuya had barely picked up before the voice on the other side started."Nakahara-san, did the Mafia kidnap Dazai-san?"

 

Chuuya blanched. While Dazai had taught Atsushi many things, it appeared he'd forgotten to teach him tact.

 

"…what the hell?"

 

There was a confused hesitation on the other end of the line. "Oh. Um. It's just…he's been missing for a week now, and the last time he went missing like that…you people had kidnapped him?"

 

"We never kidnapped him, the bastard brought that on himself."

 

Atsushi grew even more confused. "…oh?"

 

"Anyway, I don't know where he is. If we're lucky he would have died in a ditch somewhere."

 

"…okay, thanks, Nakahara-san."

 

Trust the brat to thank a Mafia executive.

 

Chuuya ended the call.

 


 

Chuuya stood a few feet behind his old partner, almost dismayed that he'd finally found him.

 

The man was hunched on the ground with his back turned to him, for once quiet. He'd taken off that disastrous coat - too big and too flowy and too much in everyone's way - and had his hands clasped together gently, almost as if he was in meditation.

 

Below him, hundreds of metres below, the ocean crashed furiously against the cliff. The rocks beneath them were deadly, and even Dazai would have trouble living if he jumped from here.

 

Chuuya couldn't see his face, but he could imagine how exhausted he would look. This wasn't a new situation to him, after all. Chuuya had (unwillingly) spent the greater portion of his life keeping Dazai away from imminent death.

 

He took a few steps forward, careful to be loud. Dazai didn't flinch.

 

"Oi. What pissed you off this time?"

 

There was no response for a long time. Dazai seemed fascinated by the crashing waves, too preoccupied to speak. Chuuya wondered if he'd been here for all the five days that he'd been missing. His bandages certainly looked old, and it wouldn't be the strangest thing that his old partner had done.

 

"Kunikida contacted you?" Dazai's voice was quiet, hoarse. Sort of resigned.

 

Chuuya shook his head. "Atsushi."

 

"Ah."

 

Chuuya waited for the man to say something else, but Dazai seemed to think the conversation closed. He went back to studying the waves as if Chuuya had never appeared.

 

He'd been lying when he'd told Atsushi that he hadn't known where Dazai was. Chuuya couldn't count the number of times the bastard had gone missing for so long, only to turn up ready to drown himself in the ocean. Dazai trusted the ocean in a way he didn't trust anything else - he trusted it to take his life. And, back in the mafia, it had been Chuuya's job to keep him away from it.

 

Not because he cared if the man died. God forbid. His absence would be doing the world a huge favour. But back then, as much as he hated it, he had needed Dazai in order to prove his own worth. Corruption wasn't half as useful if it was a one time deal.

 

Or so he'd thought, until Dazai betrayed them all, and Chuuya rose up to an Executive anyway.

 

Chuuya checked his watch in irritation. He'd just come back from a mission abroad and was looking forward to a good night's sleep, and instead he was stuck on suicide watch. Again. Surely this was getting old.

 

"Oi, bastard. Do I need to drag you back?"

 

Dazai shrugged. The nerve.

 

Chuuya stomped up to where Dazai was sitting, pulling the man up a few inches by the back of his collar. Dazai tensed, but stayed limp in his hold, making no move to get away.

 

"I should throw you over myself," Chuuya snarled.

 

This was usually where Dazai would start pointing out all the contradictions in the situation.

 

(“You could save the energy by just letting me die.”

 

Do you realize that you're saying, 'if you try to kill yourself I'll kill you'?”)

 

But Dazai didn't say anything. He turned his head enough to look Chuuya in the eye with more hatred than Chuuya had ever seen from him before, more than those final few days Dazai had spent at the Mafia, spitting hatred in every direction.

 

"You're so annoying," Dazai said, and for once it almost stung.

 

Chuuya almost threw him over. It would have been a job well done. He had to bite his tongue and remind himself why Dazai needed to stay alive no matter how much they both wanted him dead. His ability was too important to let him go.

 

"I don't have time for your stunts right now," Chuuya grumbled. "I'm taking you back."

 

Dazai's eyes flashed dangerously. Chuuya should have considered himself warned. He really should have. Instead, he pulled Dazai up by his collar, intending to take him back to his car and drop him in the vicinity of one of his new friends from the Agency.

 

Dazai kicked at him, making him lose balance and stumble. There was a short scuffle, with Chuuya twisting his grip tighter around Dazai's collar and Dazai grabbing at him, finally wrapping a thin hand around his arm.

 

Chuuya growled. “What the hell are you trying to -”

 

Dazai kicked at him again and let himself fall backwards, tumbling off the cliff and dragging Chuuya down with him.

 


 

Chuuya didn't fall. Not ever.

 

(Slamming into walls behind him when martial arts went wrong didn't count.)

 

Falling was Dazai's thing. That feeling of weightlessness, of knowing that you had no control over what would happen to you next - Dazai had once told him that it was the only thing that made him feel alive.

 

But Chuuya never fell. His ability didn't allow it.

 

Except, of course, when Dazai was involved.

 


 

Dazai let go of him the moment they started falling, but Chuuya held on to him with a death grip.

 

There were mere seconds before they crashed into the rocks beneath. Chuuya screamed bloody insults that didn't even make sense, but only held tighter onto Dazai's collar. He hated falling, he hated Dazai's ability, he hated Dazai, he didn't want to die.

 

Dazai tried to push him away as if he hadn't just dragged him down with him. He was saying something repeatedly, and somehow in his panic Chuuya managed to reigister -

 

"Let go!"

 

It was exactly the kind of choice Dazai would force him to make.

 

Let go, and save himself. Let go, and watch Dazai die. Or stay, holding on to him, and die with him.

 

It wasn't a choice at all, not really. It was one of them live or neither. It wasn't a choice, and that must have been what Dazai was betting on.

 

As they continued to fall - the feeling so foreign, so horrible - he could see Dazai's eyes widening in growing horror, the words he was saying no longer decipherable.

 

Why wasn't Chuuya letting go?

 

Dazai twisted in his grip, frantically trying to get Chuuya away from him (“A clean suicide that doesn't inconvenience anyone,” Chuuya could remember him saying countless times) but Chuuya couldn't let go, couldn't think beyond

 

I'm not letting you get away again.”

 

The ground came up to meet them unforgivingly, and in a single instant everything became horribly solid. He could feel things breaking, cracking. And then everything went black.

 


 

He dreamed of a night sky. A bandaged hand reached down for him. When he took it in his own hand he felt his power drain away, and yet he knew that now, he was truly capable of anything.

 


 

Chuuya woke up seeing white.

 

"You aren't dead yet,” a voice told him. It sounded female and familiar, but Chuuya couldn't place it.

 

He tried to blink, tried to see something else, but everything faded out again.

 


 

The second time he woke up there was no one around him.

 

Chuuya tried to move, and found that it was too easy. Confused, he looked down at himself. No bruises, no bandages. He sat up instantly, which turned out to be a mistake, as his head started pounding.

 

He remembered the fall, he remembered his bones cracking. There was no way he could have survived unscathed - unless, of course, Yosano Akiko was involved.

 

He had never seen her work in person (though they had met on occasion) but he had heard enough horror stories from Motojirou. There was no doubt that this was her doing, which must mean that he was at the Agency. He looked around himself to confirm, but he had no idea. He'd never been at the Agency before.

 

(The question What happened to Dazai? perched dangerously at the edge of his mind, but Chuuya couldn't bring himself to think about it. Not yet.)

 

The door knob turned and the door swung inward, revealing Dazai's new partner. Kunikida, if he remembered correctly. The man looked dead on his feet, with only his twisted sense of duty still holding him up.

 

"You're awake," the man realized, tired eyes widening.

 

Chuuya narrowed his eyes at him. "Where am I?"

 

"This is the Agency's infirmary."

 

"Why am I not dead?"

 

Kunikida stared straight ahead. “You tried to save one of our own. The President said it was only fitting that we save you." He sounded like he was reciting something, no emotion in his voice.

 

Chuuya paused, trying to find a way to ask the question that had been burning on his tongue.

 

Did he survive?

 

"How did you find me?" He asked instead.

 

Kunikida took off his glasses, sitting down in a chair next to Chuuya's bed. "I'd attached a tracker to Dazai's clothes long before, after he'd disappeared a couple of times," he said. "But he'd found it and switched it off. It suddenly activated today. I assume he turned it on to call for help when you started falling.”

 

Chuuya stayed quiet. He still didn't want to ask.

 

Kunikida gave him a full minute before he spoke up again. "He might not make it," he said quietly, rubbing his tired eyes. “But thank you for trying to help.”

 

I didn't help, Chuuya wanted to say. He jumped just to spite me and I couldn't stop him.

 

Instead, he nodded tersely.

 


 

Chuuya didn't go back to the mafia base.

 

Instead, he wandered aimless around the city. He kicked at stones on the sidewalk. He broke the fingers of an unfortunate mugger who tried to get to his wallet. He walked right into a bar and ordered the most expensive wine he could see.

 

It was a day for celebration, he reminded himself. The day that Dazai Osamu would, hopefully, die. 

 

(He thought of the boy who had trained with him all those years ago. The boy who sat by his side, deathly silent, when Chuuya lost too many subordinates. That hand that had pulled him back from the edge of insanity so many times, with but a touch and a "Take a break, Chuuya. ")

 

(The boy who had abandoned him without a moment's thought or explanation.)

 

He tilted the bottle back and chugged the whole thing down, completely forgetting that such an expensive drink should be savoured.

 

(The man who had whined and rubbed his head when they had to work together again, and groaned that he was disgustingwhen they'd met after all those years.)

 

(The man he'd stopped taking at face value years ago.)

 

To finish it off he slammed the glass bottle on the ground, letting it shatter. The owner was quick to show him outside, and Chuuya, for once, didn't put up a fuss.

 

At three in the morning, still walking, drunk but steady, he received the text.

 

He didn't make it.

 

Chuuya slowly took off his hat -

 

("Your horrible fashion sense has never changed.")

 

- and tossed it in the wind. He didn't falter in his steps.