“..sushi-dono, Atsushi-dono, ATSUSHI-DONO!”
Atsushi’s eyes shoot open and he rushes to sit up, almost breaking Dazai’s nose. He looks around frantically, trying to get a hold of his senses. He has a crazed look on his face and Dazai’s breath hitches. Atsushi turns and looks at Ranpo. The spirit quickly hides behind Kunikida, terrified of the look on his god’s face.
Dazai grabs Atsushi’s face, forcing him to meet his eyes. “Look at me. You’re alright. You’re going to be okay, Atsushi-sama. I’m right here. Take a breath, you’re going to be fine.”
Atsushi shuts his eyes and takes in gulps of air, trying not to hyperventilate. He opens his eyes and looks up at Dazai, his eyes brimming with tears. He reaches out and touches Dazai’s face. His familiar makes no move to shove him away. Dazai closes his eyes and lets Atsushi trace his face with his hands. His touch is soft and delicate as if Dazai were glass. Kunikida and Ranpo leave the room to give their god and the kitsune a moment alone.
“Dazai… is that really you?”
Atsushi leans his head against Dazai’s and lets out a low sigh.
“That was terrifying,” Atsushi whispers. Dazai wraps his arms around his master.
“You’re alright now. Look at how strong you are,” he hums. He opens his eyes to gaze at Atsushi and watches as tears drip from his eyes.
“You need to be safe,” Dazai continues. “So I refuse to let that snake into this house ever again.”
“It’s not his fault,” Atsushi grumbles. “I was curious about something.”
“Nothing you need to concern yourself with.” Atsushi tries to pull away from Dazai, but the familiar firmly grasps his face.
“Stop being stupid. You are my first and only priority.”
Atsushi feels heat rise to his face and finds himself wanting to return to Dazai’s arms. Dazai squeezes his face, making Atsushi yelp.
“Every stupid thing you do ruins our image, understand? I have to keep you from doing things like that.”
Atsushi frowns and any affection he had felt was gone in an instant. He pulls himself away from his familiar and tries to collect himself. Some part of him feels humiliated for crying in front of Dazai, forcing him to drop his gaze to the floor.
“I’m going to go take care of the garden,” Atsushi states. He stands up and Dazai begins to follow. Atsushi puts his hand out and gives Dazai a cold look. “By myself.”
“I need to breathe. You can stay here and clean around the house. I’m not going far.”
“I’d rather not leave your side.”
“This is not a discussion Dazai, it’s an order.”
Dazai bows. “Of course.”
Atsushi leaves the confinement of the shrine, feeling somewhat lighter. He heads towards a tree and sits under its shade, looking at the flowers. A snake makes its way towards him and wraps around his wrist. Atsushi glances at it and frowns when he realizes it’s Akutagawa.
“Didn’t I tell you he was a monster?”
“I thought Dazai shooed you away.”
“Only for a few moments, my beloved,” Akutagawa hums in response. “Now answer my question.”
“He didn’t kill me.”
“He didn’t exactly spare you either. You had to run.”
Atsushi scoffs and pulls Akutagawa off him. “Who’s Chuuya?”
“No one you need to know.”
The snake rubs against Atsushi’s legs, then begins to slither away. “I’ll come visit you another day, my love. If I stay any longer that kitsune will come and kill me. Please do stay well.”
Atsushi waves goodbye to the snake as he disappears into the grass.