The girl has flame-red hair and jewel-like eyes. Her slight figure is encased in a brightly-patterned kimono. In this world of mafia black that Chuuya has inadvertently found himself in, she looks like an angel. Like salvation.
She smiles at him and introduces herself; he doesn’t miss the steel in her eyes or her hand clasped tightly onto her umbrella. She wants to use him. That’s fine, really. He’d take anyone who isn’t Dazai.
But her hands are gentle on his shoulders and, when she patches him up, her fingers are soft on his skin. Ozaki Kouyou doesn’t make sense.
Chuuya arrives back to clattering noises and an acrid smell.
“Ane-san?” he calls as he follows the sounds to the kitchen. “Is everything alright?”
“Simply a small oversight,” Kouyou says smoothly. Golden Demon dumps a sizzling saucepan into a sinkful of water.
“Alright,” Chuuya says. He stares uncertainly at Kouyou. Kouyou stares back. Finally, she gives a sigh.
“I’d wanted to congratulate you on a successful mission,” she says, “but perhaps we should order takeout instead.”
As they wait for their order, she offers him pickles straight from the jar. The warm feeling in his chest stays for a while.
Appearances can be deceiving, therefore appearances can be weaponised. Kouyou never lets herself be seen with more than a single hair out of place; her reactions are always smoothed into cool amusement.
But amidst battles like this, with Golden Demon a whirl in front of her and hair flying loose behind her like the licks of flames — in the centre of all this death and destruction, she’s the most beautiful person that Chuuya has ever seen. Her ability is responsive to every one of her whims. Her men is commanded with ruthless efficiency. She’s someone that Chuuya can unreservedly respect.
“My, my. How distasteful.”
“Leave me alone,” Chuuya slurs.
Kouyou sweeps further into the darkened room, plucking the skin-warmed bottle from Chuuya’s resisting grip. “Your 1889 Pétrus?”
“Don’t take this the wrong way. It’s a celebration.” It’s perhaps a mark of his inebriation that allows him to interrupt Kouyou like this. A mark of her pity, also, to let the insolence pass unremarked.
Chuuya bristles. Pity.
“A celebration,” Kouyou repeats.
“To that bastard finally being gone. Always knew it was going to happen. I—”
Later, he wakes to cool fingers running through his hair, morning sunlight filtering through the curtains.
Chuuya scoops the gyokuro leaves into the strainer, carefully adding water to the warmed teapot. The room is quiet as he lets the tea steep.
“They always leave me,” Kouyou says suddenly.
Chuuya decants the tea into two teacups. Kouyou accepts one, glancing down at the green liquid.
“Kyouka…” she murmurs. “I wonder if she—”
Chuuya looks up to see her opening a jar of pickles, wincing slightly as the sweet smell wafts over. He begins, “Ane-san, do you—” but when Kouyou turns to him, he falls silent.
“You’ve never left me, though.” There’s an odd sheen to her eyes.
Times like these — when the targets are falling like a house of cards, air dense with death and dust and debris — times like these, Chuuya thinks he must be the most alive. His ability sings under his skin like an electric current, and if he feels a little Frankensteinian— well, it’s nothing new for him to be a vessel for something greater than himself.
All his life he has been a tool, a weapon sharpened to a shine. But as the last enemy surrenders and clean-up sweeps in, a familiar alto voice cuts through the activity.
“Chuuya. Let’s go home."