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The Chaos of Falling in Love

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Atsushi’s parents abandoned him a week earlier, without any notice or any way to contact him This forced him to look around for any money they had left. The rent was due in a matter of days and the landlord already disliked his father. He wasn’t going to bend to anyone’s will no matter how much pleading it took. Atsushi headed off to school trying to think of the best way to extend his terrifying deadline. He only found a measly 1,000 yen in his apartment, not even close to the 70,000 they owed. The world felt like it was falling apart around him. He couldn’t even think in school.

The moment Atsushi got home, he found his angry landlord standing before the door. He was so sure he had more time. The landlord was supposed to be here next Friday. The man turned as he heard the boy’s footsteps approaching. His glare was hostile and if looks could kill, Atsushi would be dead three times over. Atsushi took deep breaths, trying to avoid the inevitable.

“Three missed payments,” the man snapped. He turned on his heel and thrusted the eviction notice in his face. Atsushi backed up. “THREE! You’re getting evicted Atsushi-san. Pack everything and get out, or I’ll get rid of it for you.”

Atsushi prostrated himself before the landlord.

“Please! I beg of you, just one more day! My parents are gone and now I’m living on my own!” He squeezed his eyes shut, not wanting to look at the man’s shoes. “I’ll get a job and you can make me do all work around the complex! I just need a place to stay.”

He heard his voice crack like glass. That was when he knew he failed. Fear didn’t work on this man. The landlord sniffed.

“No. Enough is enough. If your parents ran off then they should have taken you with them,” the man hissed. He rolled up the paper and threw it at Atsushi. “Good riddance. Now leave before I call the cops.”

Atsushi entered the apartment and handed the landlord the key. He quickly began stuffing his belongings into his school bag. He grabbed anything that he could possibly pawn off then reached for the last thing he had from his childhood. It was a stuffed tiger. It was the last gift his parents had given him before his father began to lose himself in his own pathetic selfish desires.
Atsushi grimaced at the memory. He sighed then stood up. He grabbed the last of the money that sat in a small tin, then left the house.

Atsushi wandered around aimlessly, with no plan in mind. He didn’t have friends in his class so he had no one he could stay with. He lingered around shops before a store owner came out and shooed him off. He ended up at a McDonalds eating nothing but fries for dinner. He had to save the rest of the yen for a crappy apartment or something. Atsushi tried looking around for anyone willing to rent him a room for the night, but everyone shoved him off.

When his day ended unsuccessfully, he walked to a nearby park where he had been sleeping for the past few days. Atsushi sat on his bench, trying to fall asleep. The cold nipped at his exposed skin and he struggled to stay warm, breathing into his hands and trying to rub his arms.

The moment his eyes closed, a loud bark startled him, making his eyes fly wide open. Slightly irritated, the silver haired boy went to see what was the cause of the commotion. Not that far from his bench was a man, sitting up a tree. There was a dog barking at him and scratching at the tree trunk. He had long silver hair and wore a dark green yukata with a gray haori draped over his shoulders. One of his zori was at the tree’s trunk, by the feet of the dog. He seemed calm, but his hands were shaking vigorously.

“Are you alright?”

The man opened an eye to look down at the boy and the dog.

“It could be better.”

Atsushi grabbed the yapping dog by the collar and led it away with the some of the food he had in his bag. The dog almost bit his finger off and Atsushi backed away. It trotted off happily after that. The silver haired man dropped down from the tree soundlessly, then sighed. His yukata was surprisingly clean after sitting on the branch. He dusted off his haori, but there didn’t seem to be anything to dust. Now that the man was closer, Atsushi swore he felt lighter. The man’s presence was warm and calming. It was like a breeze on a cool summer day.

“My thanks. It's sad to admit but I dislike big dogs like those.” The man shuddered. “The utter thought of them…”

“It’s not a big deal.” The man studies Atsushi with a hawk like gaze. Atsushi lowers his eyes, feeling as if all of his problems were being exposed.

“Young man, pray, what are you doing here so late at night?”

Atsushi chuckled. “It’s actually kind of a funny story.” He begins to tell the tale of how his parents left him and replays his entire day. The man nods his head and listens intently.

“So you do not have a home?”

Atsushi shook his head. “Nope. I’ve just been trying to find out where to stay the night. I don’t think the park is that bad of an idea.” Atsushi chuckles.

“Ah, then you can have mine. It needs a new master to run the place. I grew weary of being locked up like that, so I decided to take my leave.” The man pulls out paper from the sleeve of his yukata and a pencil. He quickly writes a letter and draws a map. He hands it to Atsushi.

“It’s not that far from here,” the man murmurs. “Take the home as a token of my thanks.”

He lifts Atsushi’s bangs and kisses his forehead. Atsushi suddenly becomes overwhelmed with a warm fuzzy feeling sent down his body. He begins to feel lighter and all of his concerns seem to leave, just for a moment. He closes his eyes, letting the warmth dissolve. The man smiles.

“Your name?”

Atsushi blinks.

“Ah! I’m Nakajima Atsushi, sir!”

“Fukuzawa.” He takes Atsushi’s hand in his. “Take care of Dazai and the others.”

Atsushi blinks and Fukuzawa is gone, a cat in his stead. It’s gray coat shines in the streetlight. The cat meows and runs off, scrambling into the bushes. Atsushi looks at the paper and sighs when he looks at the map. It’s poorly drawn, but at least Fukuzawa wrote the street names. Atsushi grabs his bag and exhales.

This is better than nothing.

He walks down the dimly lit road, cars passing every now and then. Atsushi turns towards the area where Fukuzawa had poorly drawn a house. Once he looks away from the shitty map, he finds an entrance to an abandoned shrine. From the outside all of the plants seem overgrown and Atsushi can feel the despair from the land itself. Atsushi lets out a stream of curses.

That old man was LYING. After I saved his ass from that dog too! Stupid stupid stupid. Why did I actually think I’d-

“Fukuzawa-sama!” A man with a painted mask suddenly appears at the steps to the shrine. His hair is pulled into a blonde ponytail. He is wearing a dark blue yukata, similar to the one Fukuzawa wore. A close eyed smile is painted on his mask. He quickly grabs Atsushi’s wrist. All of a sudden, Atsushi feels another weight on his other arm. It’s another man with a mask. He wears a yukata that matches the other man. His hair is brown and wild. His mask is lifted and a lollipop stick hangs from his lips.

“Welcome home, Fukuzawa-sama.”

The two let go of their master and bow.

“We’ve been waiting for your return!” The man with the lollipop said as they lead him up the stairs to the shrine.

“If you had notified us sooner, I would have prepared a feast to your liking,” the blonde said with a sigh. He pulls out a notebook. “You should have sent word two hours earlier-”

Atsushi steps away from the men.

“I.. I’m not Fuku-”

Suddenly a fox yokai blocks their path. He wears a dark red yukata and silk white haori sits on his shoulders. His brown hair curls wildly and frames his face perfectly. The yokai’s ears and tail match the color of his hair. His eyes are a deep hazel and they’re staring straight at him. A fan hides the rest of his features and he studies Atsushi. The yokai is tragically beautiful and Atsushi swears his heart stops. He’s prettier than a woman could ever be. Atsushi tries his best not to squirm. The blonde man frowns. The yokai shuts the fan with a snap and sighs, throwing himself in Atsushi’s arms.

“Fukuzawa-dono! You’ve been gone for so long! I can’t believe you made me work my ass off!”

The yokai cradles Atsushi’s face in his hands and smiles. Atsushi feels his face heat up. As quickly as the smile came, it was gone. He shoves his fan in Atsushi’s face. The teasing lilt in his voice is gone, now anger takes its place.

“You’ve left me alone with these spirits for twenty years. You better have a good reason for this.” He sneers at Atsushi and Atsushi quickly backs up. A ball of kitsune-bi appears in his hand.

“I’m not Fukuzawa! I don’t even know what’s going on!” Atsushi yelps. The man stops.

“Excuse me?”

The blonde man pushes up his glasses. “What?”

“Look, he just handed me a letter and a map that led me here.” Atsushi pulls it out of his pocket.

The man with the candy takes the note from his hands and lifts his mask. His green eyes scour the page and he flips it over.

“He’s right. This is his nice handwriting.”

“And master’s horrendous drawing,” The blonde says. “But we can sense Fukuzawa-dono’s spiritual energy. This human indeed has the mark of the land god, Dazai-sama.”

“THE LAND GOD?”

The two spirits bow to Atsushi once again.

“I’m Kunikida,” the blonde says, “I’m glad to see you’re in good health, master.”

The man with the candy grinned. “I’m Ranpo. It’s nice to meet ya.”

The yokai huffed.

“Well? What did Fukuzawa do? How did he pass the land god’s mark?” He turned to Atsushi, his ears twitching. His tail swung side to side vigorously. Atsushi blushed.

“He kissed me… on my forehead.” Dazai quickly brushed Atsushi’s bangs aside. He stared at the spot where Fukuzawa kissed him then sighed. He shoved Atsushi aside.

“I’m not going to be this pathetic human’s familiar,” Dazai sneered. He opened his fan and stared at Atsushi over it. “The least he can do is pull out weeds.” Dazai turned to the stairs. “Have fun taking care of this child land god. Maybe you can change his diaper too.”

The kitsune sashayed away, his tail lifted behind him. Atsushi fumed behind him. He felt challenged and Atsushi never turned away from a challenge.

“D-Dazai, you moron! I’m gonna be the best damn land god you’ve ever seen!” Dazai looked over his shoulder and scoffed.

“Say as you wish, human. You do not have what it takes to do a god’s duties.” Dazai disappeared into darkness. Kunikida shook his head, then lifted his mask. He pulled out a pair of glasses and put them on.

“Atsushi-sama, let’s get you inside.”

Chapter Text

Contrary to the way the shrine looked on the outside, it was very large on the inside. Ranpo led Atsushi in the shrine while Kunikida wandered off to make his new god a meal. The house was warm and comfortable, there were enough rooms for everyone. It was also well kept, the floors spotless and sparkling. A few paintings hang on the walls, they’re all of scenery. They walked down a corridor and Ranpo pushes open a door that leads to a room with a view of the forest. Atsushi can see fireflies blinking in the darkness. When he opens the window, he looks up and can see the stars. It’s clear from all the smoke and city light and he can see dozens of constellations. He sighs happily, content with the view. Maybe living in a shrine wouldn’t be that bad after all.

The room itself is a comfortable size and when he opens the closet he can see the futon stacked neatly in a pile. The pillows sit next to it, but there are dozens. Perhaps Fukuzawa prefered more cushions then just one. A couple of calligraphy brushes sit on a shelf above the futon supplies, white paper sitting next to a bottle of ink. Atsushi looks them over, but decides not to touch them. He’ll leave them there in case Fukuzawa comes back.

“Fukuzawa-sama slept here. If you’d like, you can move to another room.” Ranpo opens another candy and pops into his mouth. He offers Atsushi one, but he shakes his head. “You know, you can take Dazai’s room. He had a really nice one too. It faces the western side of the forest and you can see a bit of the city.”

Atsushi sighed. “I can’t. He’ll be coming back.”

“I don’t think so Atsushi-dono. If anything he’s somewhere in the otherworld.”

“W-What?”

Ranpo sighs. “Fukuzawa-sama always managed to drag him back. Since you didn’t make the familiar contract with Dazai-san, you can’t really use our old master’s tactics. Perhaps we should fetch for him ourselves if you wish it.”

“What contract?”

Kunikida opens the door, a tray of steaming hot food in his hands. Atsushi’s stomach growls and he lowers his eyes.

“Ranpo is talking about the familiar contract.” He sets the food on a table that sits in the center of the room. Atsushi quickly begins to help himself to it.

“How does it work?” Atsushi asks between mouthfuls of rice.

“Simply put, you must kiss Dazai-sama and he will become obedient to every order you ask of him.”

Atsushi chokes on his rice, and Ranpo quickly offers him a glass of water. Atsushi takes it then gawks at Kunikida.

“W-What? You’re kidding right?”

Atsushi hadn’t kissed or anyone. He definitely didn’t want his first to be Dazai… but he was pretty handsome….

Atsushi smacked his face, snapping himself out of it.

“Master are you alright?”

“Yeah…..”

“Why don’t you get some rest? Today must have been long and tiring.”

“Maybe I will.”

Ranpo and Kunikida bowed, then left Atsushi to his own devices. He stood up and walked back towards the window, staring at the stars until he slept.

_____

 

Atsushi woke up in his futon, his room quiet. The smell of food lingered in his room, it was coming from the kitchen. It was probably his mother's cooking. He sat up and yawned.

“That was some dream I had,” he mumbled quietly. “A yokai and shrine spirits? What the hell was I thinking?” He chuckled as the door slid open very loudly, Ranpo hurling in through the doors.

“Atsushi-sama!!!!!!!!! Kunikida found my candy stash and tried getting rid of it all!”

“You need to be a healthy shrine spirit, Ranpo.” Kunikida snapped. Atsushi deflated a little. So yesterday really did happen. He stood up and walked to the closet, grabbing his a change of clothes from his school bag. As he unraveled a shirt, Ranpo tugged on his sleeve.

“Atsushi-sama, why don’t Kunikida and I dress you instead?”

“No No it’s fine-”

“At least take this yukata. If you are to be a god, you should dress like one,” Kunikida offered, pulling a yukata seemingly out of nowhere. “Ranpo and I drew a bath for you. It’s in the adjoining room. After you’ve changed and eaten, we’ll teach you about your godly duties.”

Atsushi took the yukata, the soft fabric cool against his hands. It was gray and Kunikida had placed a folded pink haori on top. Atsushi wasn’t sure he would look good, but he decided to wear it anyway. He shooed the two spirits out of the room then opened the door to the bath. He set the clothes off to the side and stripped off his school uniform. He sank into the warm bath with a low sigh. It felt like ages since he’d last showered.

As he stared at the ceiling, he tried to think of what the duties of a land god were. He knew they answered prayers, but what else? Godly conference meetings? Was heaven some sort of business? Atsushi snickered at the thought of gods in suits and ties, wandering around Tokyo, answering prayers in a cubicle.

Atsushi finished bathing, then changed his clothes. He walked out and went to another room. Kunikida had set up a table with breakfast and Ranpo was stealing bites from Atsushi’s plate. Atsushi smiled, feeling comfortable and at home. It must be strange to feel like a family with these two, but it just felt right. Kunikida bowed when Atsushi entered the room, then set a stack of files before him.

“These are the wishes of the people who came here the past twenty years.”

“Oh wow, Kunikida-san that must have been a lot of work. I’m so sorry.” He lifted a paper, reading the kanji.

“It wasn’t me who slaved away at writing those.”

“It was Dazai,” Ranpo said.

“Huh?”

“Though he may seem melodramatic and lazy, he is truly a hard worker. He devoted much of his time to make sure the people’s wishes could be heard… even if they stopped coming. He cleaned the grounds of the shrine, and when some places were falling apart he built them up again.”

Suddenly a voice fills the room. Atsushi glances from behind the blinds of the window. An old woman drops a coin into a box, then claps her hands together, her head bowed in prayer.

Kamisama, please, bless my son’s wife. Let her give birth to a beautiful healthy child.

The woman lingers.

Let my son smile with his wife and his child.

The woman smiles, turns around, then leaves. Atsushi gawks then turns around quickly.

“Did you hear that?”

“Yes. Will you grant her wish?”

“O-Of course I will!”

-------

It takes a while to get through two years worth of wishes. From there Atsushi takes a break and goes outside. The grass seems to become greener with every step he takes. He rolls up his sleeves and begins to tug weeds out of the garden, trying to help the flowers bloom. He’s grateful that Dazai took care of this place before, grateful for his amount of dedication. He must have loved this place very much. It felt wrong to live here with out him. It was his home before it became Atsushi’s. Now he was starting to feel bad. Atsushi sets down the basket full of weeds and turns to Ranpo who’s lying on the porch of the shrine.

“Where’s Dazai?”

“In the otherworld, why?”

“I want to make him my familiar.”

“Really?” Ranpo opened a toffee and popped it into his mouth. “I’ll ask Kunikida to come with us.”

Upon hearing his name, Kunikida appears seemingly out of no where. He hands a towel to Atsushi, letting him wipe his face.

“I’m very happy that you have forgiven Dazai-sama for the rude comments he made. He was just being childish, Atsushi-dono. Now come, let us go fetch for him.”

Ranpo and Kunikida each take Atsushi’s hands and begin to lead him off into the darkness of the woods. After wandering for what seems like forever, they finally come across a hidden city. Booths are set up offering potions and magical items. Creatures slink around and barter with one another. Red lanterns are strung up, illuminating the entire place. A demon walks by, arguing with another. Atsushi even sees a bar and arcade. A few creatures make eye contact with him and offer him grotesque smiles.

Finally they get to a smaller bar, one called the Lupin. It’s somewhat of a copy of the one in the human world, the lights and chairs are exactly the same. Even the feeling. Atsushi had only been there once with a friend then never again. He asks Kunikida and Ranpo to sit and wait for him at a booth. He wants to ask Dazai to come back by asking him himself.

Dazai sits with another kitsune, drinking a glass of what seems to be brandy. The other kitsune wears a gray colored kimono and his tail sways from side to side. He chuckles at something Dazai says, then turns, feeling someone’s gaze on his back. His brown hair is smoothed back, and there’s a beauty mark on the left side of his face, just above his lip. He wears circular glasses and offers Atsushi a calm smile. He seems kind, but kitsune can be strange. The man murmurs something into Dazai’s ear, then Dazai also looks up. His gaze is cold, but when he sees Ranpo and Kunikida he stifles a laugh. He opens his fan to hide his smirk and his gaze follows Atsushi until he comes all the way up to Dazai’s seat.

“Ango, I told you he’d come back and plead for me to take over his job. It hasn’t even been a full day!”

Atsushi crosses his arms, his face turning red. This would have been so much easier if Dazai was alone.

Ango laughs. “Your god seems to be flustered.”

 

“He is not my god. I was never his familiar in the first place,” Dazai sneers.

“Dazai-san,” Atsushi frowns. “I’m not here to beg on my knees, I’m here to make you my familiar, a land god’s familiar.”

Dazai lets out a laugh.

“Really? Do you even know what the contract is? How it’s sealed?”

Atsushi’s face began to heat up once again.

“Y-yes.”

“Make him cry,” Ango whispered, loud enough for Atsushi to hear.

“Dazai-”

A demon bursts into the bar, breaking off the door.

“I smell a human! Let me eat him!”

“A human?” A yokai asks.

“Yesss…. I can sense it too,” a serpent like demon hisses.

Dazai curses, then puts himself in front of Atsushi, blocking him from everyone’s view. Ango quickly disappears. Kunikida and Ranpo come over.

“Is Dazai-sama your familiar now?” Ranpo asks.

“I am not ...but,” Dazai smirks at Atsushi. “I’ll be your familiar and save you from this, on one condition.”

Atsushi’s eyes widen. “What?”

“Beg for me to save you. Get on your knees and cry out, ‘Dazai-sama save me’.”

Atsushi shoves him off.

“Fuck no.”

“You absolute idiot, take an offer when it is handed to you.”

“That’s one shitty offer,” Atsushi snaps, his voice raised. Heads turn, and the demon grins.

“There’s the human.”

“He’s a god!”

“If we eat him, perhaps we can live forever.”

“Perhaps.”

Atsushi gawks, then grabs Kunikida and Ranpo by the wrists.

“How do we get out of here?”

“This way,” Kunikida says, jumping over the bar counter. Ranpo and Atsushi follow him. Dazai debates whether to follow them or not, then decides to, lifting his yukata as he climbs over. Atsushi looks behind to see Dazai following them and gives him a small smile. The kitsune huffs, but speeds up his pace. Ranpo pushes open the back doors and the group runs out of the bar, demons trailing behind them.

“This seems like a bad time to tell you,” Ranpo says between breaths. “But you can use white talismans.”

“Yes this is a wonderful time to tell me,” Atsushi snaps.

“Fukuzawa kept a brush and paper in his pockets, try using them!”

“We’re running for our lives! I can’t just stop right now!”

“Technically, you’re the only one running for your life,” Dazai yells. He brushes his hair out of his eyes. “I could stop running at any minute, but I’m waiting to hear you plead for my assistance.”

“I won’t!”

Once they get far away enough, they duck into an area full of bushes. Kunikida pulls out a small bottle of ink. Atsushi pulls out paper and a brush.

“What do I write?”

“Whatever you wish,” Kunikida replies.

He scribbles out a word then slaps the paper onto Dazai’s forehead. He tears it off. It reads: My familiar. Dazai scowls.

“Idiot. One, it doesn’t work that way, two, you’re not that powerful so you can’t do much.”

Suddenly the demons appear again. One pulls Kunikida and Ranpo away, another grasps for Atsushi.

Oh god…. I… I can’t believe it’s come to this.

Atsushi grabs Dazai and presses his lips against the kitsune’s. He tastes like alcohol, his lips somewhat sticky. Dazai shoves him off, gasping for air. He covers his mouth, his face turning red.

“Dammit!”

“Dazai! Save us!”

Chapter Text

Atsushi barely remembered what had happened the other night. He had been bloodied and bruised, the demons not caring about his physical well being. He remembered Dazai carrying him, wiping away the blood from his lips with the sleeve of his kimono. 

 

“You’re going to be fine human,” Dazai had muttered, somewhat softly. He remembered Ranpo patting his hand and Kunikida placing a towel over the cut on his forehead. After that… nothing.

 

Atsushi woke up to Kunikida changing a bandage on his forehead. The blonde smiled at him as the door opened to reveal Dazai with food in his hands. He had pinned back his bangs and had taken off his haori. Atsushi quickly shut his eyes again. He didn’t want Dazai to snap at him. 

He decided to kneel down besides the god, his hand brushing against his forehead. 

 

“Quit faking slumber, human god,” Dazai said, his voice sickeningly sweet. Atsushi opened one eye, to glance at the yokai, and he saw a smile plastered onto his face. 

 

“You’ve sleep for two days, Atsushi-sama,” he hissed between his teeth, the smile still painted on his lips. “Get the fuck up.” 

 

Atsushi does as he’s told, worried that Dazai would do worse if he didn’t. 

 

“Being your familiar has brought me to a new low,” Dazai sighs as he applies a salve onto a cut on Atsushi’s shoulder. Atsushi looks away, his face heating up. Dazai’s fingers are soft and he’s close. Very very close. 

 

“You’re a weak pathetic god. You cannot even write a talisman to save your life. I see you tried to fix the garden but only a few spots stayed alive. The rest died not long after.” 

 

All his words are going in one end and out the other. Atsushi is too focused on the warmth coming off Dazai’s body and the vivid memory of the kiss. The way Dazai’s lips were sticky from the liquor and the way he had tasted. Atsushi feels his blush grow brighter. A bang falls into Dazai’s face and Atsushi reaches out to push it back. Dazai pauses as Atsushi brushes it aside. 

 

Dazai studies Atsushi, who’s still somewhat tired and has this sleepy look on his face. Dazai sucks in a breath as Atsushi brushes his bangs back. He only feels a pang of loss in his heart. He doesn’t know why of course. Fukuzawa never did that. Fukuzawa just kept him company and listened to him. Dazai sniffs and pulls away from Atsushi’s touch. 

 

Suddenly Ranpo enters the room waving around a paper.

 

“Princess Kyouka Izumi says she’s coming to visit the shrine!”

 

Kunikida sucks in a breath. 

 

“Our master is in no shape to meet with her. He must get more rest-” 

 

Dazai rubs his temples then bares his teeth at Atsushi.

 

“Get up, human. I can’t have you humiliate this shrine and ruin our friendships with other gods. I need you to at least make a few talisman work.” 

 

He wraps Atsushi’s fingers with a bandage and hesitates. Then he frowns, gets up, and leaves. Atsushi huffs and sits up, pulling the blanket over his chest. 

 

“Atsushi-sama, please do not take Dazai-san’s words to heart.” 

 

“I know.”

 

He shoos Kunikida out of the room and changes out of his sleepwear into a pink yukata. Atsushi ties the longer parts of his hair back into a ponytail, slips on zori, and walks out of the room. 

 

-----------

 

Atsushi had blatantly ignored Dazai and began to work on the garden instead. It was soothing and he felt more at ease with the plants. Ranpo hummed from the porch, eating little candies he had snagged from the underworld the other day. Atsushi sings to the plants and tell them about his day. He’s grateful that these plants won’t snap at him like Dazai does.

 

-----------

 

Dazai slams down a boatload of paper in front of Atsushi. He hands him a bottle of ink and a brush. He had dragged the unwilling god back into the house. He was a little dirty from the plants but besides that his appearance was somewhat withstandable.

 

“Write.” 

 

Atsushi bites his lip and begins to write. His handwriting is small, yet delicate, and Dazai cannot seem to stop watching. He blows at a cup of tea Ranpo brings and drinks it. Atsushi’s fingers become splattered with ink. He seems to be giving off a little more spiritual energy than yesterday. Dazai takes his hand. 

 

“You messed up the kanji right here.”

 

Atsushi jumps back at Dazai’s touch, yelping as ink spills on his yukata. Dazai lifts a fan to his face, hiding his fox like grin. 

 

“Damnit Dazai!”

 

“Shall I help you change out of it, Atsushi-sama?” Dazai tugs at Atsushi’s yukata and Atsushi turns twenty different shades of pink. 

 

“Go away! I’ll change it myself.” 

 

Dazai follows the young god as he walks back to his room. The minute the door shuts, Dazai barricades it from the outside.

 

“Stay there, Atsushi-sama. I cannot afford to let the princess see what kind of pathetic and lowly being runs this place. I shall meet with her in your stead and tell her that you fell ill. Perhaps this shall give you more time to work on your talisman.” 

 

“Son of a-” 

 

“Good night, my lord.”

Chapter Text

Dazai fixed his kimono and pinned back his bangs nicely. Once he was done looking himself over, he left to the common room that was now lively with flowers Dazai had grabbed from the back. They were the ones Atsushi had tended to this morning and Dazai was quite surprised they hadn’t died. He fixed a painting that sat on the wall and pulled out some nice cushions as Ranoo came into the room. He had a cookie in his mouth and was eating while he cleaned. Dazai snapped his fan shut and his knuckles whitened as his grip became tight in annoyance. 

 

“Ranpo. You’re leaving a trail of crumbs on the floor.” Ranpo just glanced at him and shoved the rest of it into his mouth. Once he chewed and swallowed he started cleaning again. 

 

“Where’s Atsushi-sama?” Ranpo asked as he swept. Dazai put his hand over his heart, feigning pity. 

 

“Our master is still feeling ill. He said for me to meet with her Majesty. He also asked for peace and quiet so don’t bug him!” Dazai snapped and pointed his fan at Ranpo. Kunikida just shook his head as he entered. 

 

“She’s here.” 

 

Dazai snapped his fingers and Ranpo jumped. He trailed after Dazai and Kunikida followed. Kunikida opened the door with a flourish and before them stood a young girl. She wore makeup that only accentuated her features and her long blue hair was pulled up, her bangs framing her face. A small crown sat on her head and she had a bunny pin in her bangs. Behind her stood a woman dressed in a dark and brooding pink kimono. She had an umbrella in her hands and her face was unreadable. Her ginger hair was pulled into a bun and her bangs only hid one eye. It didn’t make her glare any less cold and terrifying. 

 

Dazai bowed and the two wil o wisps followed suit. 

 

“Princess Kyouka”  Dazai stayed there until he heard her tell him to rise. 

 

“Where is the land god?” It was not the princess who had spoken, but her guard. 

 

“He is feeling ill, my lady.” 

 

“Koyo, do we have something to help the god feel better?”

 

“My apologies, you highness. I did not think of bringing any medicine.” The princess shrugged. 

 

Dazai ushered them in, politely offering wine and food. He leads them to a room and sets out an area for Kyouka to sit down. She looks at him over her fan and raises an eyebrow. Dazai smiles sweetly. 

 

“I cannot believe your human god got sick this quickly.” Koyo mutters, putting her katana on her lap. Dazai’s ears twitch in annoyance. 

 

“I.. I beg your pardon?” 

 

“Your human god. Did you think we were stupid enough not to know?” Koyo sneers at Dazai. 

 

“I knew you knew he was human,” Dazai says, smoothing out the non existent wrinkles in his kimono. “Human are fragile and idiotic creatures. You cannot expect much better.” 

 

“So why is he a god?” 

 

-----

 

Atsushi shoves the door several times. It’s no use. He’s been going at this for hours and neither Kunikida nor Ranpo have come to check on him. That stupid familiar of his cannot just get away with bullshit like this. Atsushi paces around the room then throws open the closet. He picks out a fancy red kimono then ties his hair up with a jewel pin. Atsushi looks around the room then zeros in on a window. He rolls up his sleeves, making his way towards it. Atsushi pulls a latch and struggles to lift open the window. It seems like it hasn’t been used in forever. He finally gets it all the way up and gasps. 

 

A breeze enters the room, cooling him off. He first throws out his zori then hoists his leg up. Atsushi squirms through the window, some dust gathering at the edges of his clothes. Once he makes it out he pulls them on and starts running to the front of the shrine. Atsushi holds on tightly to the pin in his hair as he runs, praying that he doesn’t look like a complete mess. He Struggles with the front door, then runs through the hall. He stops himself before he enters the room but before stepping in, listens to the conversation. 

 

“It cannot be done, my lady. To do such a thing would be a curse. I cannot offer my god’s power-” 

 

Atsushi swings the door open then recomposes himself. Dazai’s smile becomes as cold as ice and Ranpo jumps up to run to his master. 

 

“Atsushi-sama! You’re all better?” 

 

“Y-yes, indeed.” He turns to the girl who sits at the head of the table and bows. “I apologize for my tardiness. I wasn’t feeling well earlier.”

 

“Atsushi-dono,” Dazai says through his teeth, “I’m so happy you’re feeling better. I missed your company so much.” Dazai stands and offers his seat to Atsushi. Atsushi sits and smoothes out his kimono. Dazai then lowers himself to sit behind his god.  

 

“Her Highness asked for a favor,” Koyo spat. “Not for a flashy enterance from a stupid human. I cannot even feel the spiritual energy from your god. Is he as powerful as you said?” 

 

“Indeed.” Dazai keeps his hands clasped in his lap and Atsushi smiles to himself. 

 

“I could turn him into a fish if I tried.” Koyo lifts her hand in Atsushi’s direction and Dazai throws himself before him. 

 

“Shall I do the same for you? I’m positive fish will go great with dinner tonight.” Dazai flicks his hands but to his annoyance, Atsushi grabs his wrist. The human gives him a cool steely look, only that demands his attention. Dazai rolls his eyes. 

 

“We do not treat guests this way, Dazai. Shall I have you punished?” Koyo snickers. 

 

“To think the great kitsune Dazai has fallen this low-” 

 

“Silence, Koyo.” Dazai glances at the little princess, who finally puts away her fan and lifts the tea cup to her lips. She blows at it then takes a sip. She then locks eyes with Atsushi, who’s still holding onto Dazai. His grip tightens and Dazai tries not to make a face. 

 

“I don’t normally pay visits to shrines,” Kyouka says. She gets out of her seat and comes to sit by Atsushi’s side. Dazai’s wrist is released and Atsushi offers her a smile. 

 

“Oh?” 

 

Kyouka leans in and tilts her head, her eyes not leaving Atsushi’s. Dazai notes how pale his master grows as she continues to stare. Her eyes then drop down to his chest and she begins to study his figure. She goes to touch his arm and Dazai stops her. 

 

“My master doesn’t like to be touched by others.” 

 

“I’m simply studying the human.” 

 

“The human would like to speak for itself.” Atsushi said with a frown. Dazai smiles and clasps his hands together. 

 

“Of course you may, Atsushi-dono.” 

 

Atsushi gestures to the pillow Kyouka had been seated on. She reluctantly sits down. 

 

“Why did you come to visit my shrine?

 

“I want to be friends with a human.” 

 

“W-what?”

Chapter Text

“Well technically, I want to become human, but that is against many god codes.” Kyouka sighed as she opened her fan. Atsushi stared at her, his expression blank. She looked back at him and frowned. “Mori would never let me do it, so that’s why I am here. Humans make mistakes and go against the will of the gods of Japan, so why wouldn’t you do the same?”

Atsushi parted his lips to reply, but instead Dazai cut him off.

“I’d rather not have my god struck down from this shrine,” Dazai hissed. Atsushi attempted to offer Dazai a smile, but the kitsune didn’t spare him a glance. He seemed very irritated, his tail swaying slowly and his eyes narrowed. Ranpo bowed his head. Kunikida shot a cold glance at Koyo, who only smiled back at him, fangs and all.

“Pathetic-”

“And what exactly makes me pathetic?” Atsushi snapped, before Dazai could say a word. The kitsune’s lip twitched into a small smirk. Koyo’s eyes widened and Kunikida paled. “Your mistress should teach you to keep your own mouth shut. You’re a familiar interfering with a god’s conversation.”

Atsushi turns his head away from her to look at Ranpo who gapes at him, the lollipop slipping out from his mouth. He can’t believe himself either. He knows he’ll get stricken down where he stands, but mouthing off to that fish woman felt good and he can’t help but smile.

“Why you-” She tightens the grip on her katana but Kyouka bursts out laughing.

“Oh you’re a funny one, human!” She titters behind her fan and Koyo blanches. Her face then turns a bright shade of red. Atsushi turns and gawks at her. Dazai shuts Atsushi’s mouth by pushing his jaw up with his fan. Atsushi looks away, turning towards Dazai, his face turning a light shade of pink.

Dazai studies him as the little princess howls with laughter.

How strange.

Atsushi then turns back to the food that sits before him, stuffing some food in his face. He seems a little grumpy and Dazai hides a small smile. Atsushi goes to rub his eye but Dazai stops him.

“You’ll ruin your eyeshadow.”

Atsushi sticks out his tongue. “Like I care. She’s already dying from laughter there’s no point in looking decent anymore.”

“You must always look decent, for you are a god.” Dazai brushes back Atsushi’s loose bang and uses the flower pin to put it behind his ear. Atsushi goes red and glances down at his lap. He folds his hands in his lap and leans forward slightly.

“Dazai-san-”

Dazai turns away and glares at Kunikida. “Take his food away he doesn’t need to stuff himself like a pig any longer.”

Atsushi gawks at Dazai and Koyo snorts. Kyouka sighs.

“Atsushi-dono, come join me on a walk outdoors. I’d like to see your land.”

“Of course.” Atsushi stands up then offers his hand to her. She takes it, stands, then follows him out the door. The two walk in silence and after a few moments she pauses to look at him.

“Tell me about the human world? It’s been so long and Koyo never likes telling me about it. She was against the whole turning into a human thing anyway.” She folds her fan shut. “The only reason she came was because she knew I would fail.”

“She still defended you and wanted me to do it though.”

“Only out of respect and our binding oath. She’s my familiar.”

Atsushi smiles and goes to hug her. She lets out a small gasp then leans into it.

“What would you like to know?”

“Everything.”

Atsushi lets go of her then throws himself onto the ground, looking up at the stars in the sky. Kyouka looks at him then follows his lead. They lay sprawled out in the grass, chatting about the human world.

“...and theme parks are the best. I only went once though. The rides are fun and they have lots of cute things. They also sell crepes.”

“Crepes?”

“Yeah, they’re like pancakes but flatter and sweeter. People put chocolate and strawberries in them. It’s really good.”

“I’d like to try that sometime,” Kyouka says happily.

“Maybe we should go to a festival, they have some there too. One time, I went to this festival by a shrine with Kenji, a friend from school and-” Atsushi sits up then gawks at Kyouka.

“Oh my god I foRGOT ABOUT SCHOOL!”

Kyouka blinks twice, her eyes wide. “Huh?”

“School! I need to pass that in order to get a job and everything-”

“But you’re a god.”

“That doesn’t count I need money, I need to get paid!” Atsushi paces then smiles weakly at the little princess. “I’m so sorry, but can we cut this visit short?” She stands and bows.

“I’m thankful to have had a conversation about the human world. Perhaps our next conversation can take place at my palace.”

“It would be great to have you come over again,” Atsushi says with a grin. “It’s strange to think that I’m now friends with a little princess.”

“Friends?”

“Yeah.”

Kyouka smiles. “I like that.”

Chapter Text

“School?” Dazai asks, his lips twisting into a frown. Atsushi rolls his eyes.

“Yes school! If I don’t go back, I have to repeat a year!”

“You do not need it. You are a god and you are needed at the shrine.” Dazai turns away from him then looks into the mirror, streaking eyeshadow underneath his eyes. Atsushi flicks the back of his head, throwing him off. Dazai turns around and sneers, baring his fangs. Atsushi frowns.

“Let me go to school!”

“I cannot send you off my dear,” Dazai snaps, “Because the yokai and other monsters will come and hunt you down.”

“I’m a god, I can’t be killed.” Atsushi smirks.

“Correction, you can!”

Kunikida brings in tea and sets it before Atsushi and Dazai. Ranpo, who has been watching the two bicker, quietly slips out of the room. The two glare at each other as Kunikida pours out the tea.

“You have the kiss of Fukuzawa on your forehead, the only thing that lets you be a stupid god! Everyone is going to try and steal it from you. The only place you’re truly safe is here!” Dazai grabs Atsushi’s hands and Atsushi turns red. “This shrine cannot lose it’s god again.”

Atsushi meets Dazai’s eyes and gets lost in them. His brown eyes are full of worry. Dazai then realizes what he’s doing and shoves Atsushi away.

“Young master, if I could say a word?” Kunikida bows his head.

“Of course.”

“Kunikida, I swear to god-”

“I suggest you let Atsushi-sama go. He will always come back to the shrine of course, it's his home now.”

Dazai glares at the blonde as his tail swings side to side angrily. Ranpo pops back in, a bag of cookies in his hand. He offers one to Atsushi and sits in his lap. Atsushi gratefully took one as Dazai started the two of them down. The intensity in his gaze is terrifying, it scares Atsushi to his bones. Yet he still stares straight back at the kitsune.

“Fine. You may go-”

“Hooray for Atsushi-sama!” Ranpo cheers.

“BUT- On one condition.” Dazai lifts the tea to his lips and blows on it. Atsushi leans forward, anxiously waiting for him to finish his sentence. Dazai takes a drink then sets his cup down. He looks into the dark liquid then looks back up at the young land god. Atsushi tries not to squirm under Dazai’s glare.

“You must wear this.” Dazai ties a handkerchief over Atsushi’s head, making him look like an elderly woman. Atsushi gawks at him.

“I look ridiculous! No!”

“Then stay and suffer,” Dazai says with a smile. He takes another sip of his tea, stands up, bows mockingly, then leaves. Atsushi pulls off the head piece and sneers.

“Son of a bitch!”

Kunikida sits Atsushi down and sets some food before him. Atsushi angry eats, cursing out Dazai while Ranpo nods his head. He stuffs some rice in his mouth and sighs. Ranpo pats Atsushi’s hand.

“It’ll be okay, master! No one will notice!”

--------

 

“Pft, what the fuck is that on your head?” Tachihara says with a snort. Atsushi buries his head in his hands, lowering himself onto his desk. Kenji let out a little laugh. The three were sitting in the classroom together, waiting for class to start. They sat by the window, the tops of the trees framing the edge of the window. Kids were walking around the school, laughing with their friends, and fooling around. Kenji opened a bottle of coffee and took a sip.

“Hey tell Atsu what you told me!” Kenji said, as he stole some of Tachibana’s food. The redhead frowned at him, then turned to Atsushi with a grin.

“Did you hear?” Tachibana whispered. “Apparently, an idol is going to start coming to this school. The girls were freaking out about it yesterday! His name is-”

“TANIZAKI!”

A boy entered the classroom, sunglasses covering his eyes, a mob of girls followed him into the classroom, fawning over him. The idol takes off the glasses. Atsushi locks eyes with him and sits up. Tanizaki looks back at him, a small smile playing at his lips. He’s stunning and the makeup on his face only makes him look even better, but… he’s still not as stunning as Dazai. The thought makes Atsushi turn red.

“You, with the hood.” He walks over and Tachibana blanches. Kenji takes Tachibana by the hand and leads him away,

“M-Me?” Atsushi points at himself. Tanizaki offers Atsushi a heartthrob’s smile.

“Move. This is my seat.”

A couple girls snicker as Atsushi goes pale. Tachibana’s eyes widen and he looks at Kenji. Kenji looks down.

“Wow,” Tachibana mutters. “Didn’t think an idol would be this much of an ass.”

Atsushi frowns but Tanizaki just smiles. The girls behind him start nagging at him. “Didn’t you hear him? Get out of his seat moron!”

“Pft look at that stupid thing on his head.”

“He’s a fucking loser.”

Tanizaki yawns as Atsushi gets up and storms off to the bathroom. The idol takes a seat and watches the other boy leave.

---------

Atsushi stands in the bathroom, his arms crossed. He stares at himself in the mirror, wiping away a tear. Atsushi splashes water on his face. He’s furious at the world and all the shit it’s thrown at him. First he loses his home, now this bullshit. The man has everything while Atsushi is struggling to manage, what the hell. Why why why?

“Stupid idols!” He then leans against the wall, feeling heat in his eyes. Tears threaten to fall, but he doesn’t want them to. He goes to wipe his eyes, but suddenly a hand touches his face and lifts it. Dazai stands before him, in his yukata, his hair as wild and as out of control as ever. He caresses Atsushi’s face gently and Atsushi makes himself meet Dazai’s dark eyes. He leans into Dazai’s touch, wanting comfort, wanting to be touched. What a loving embrace from a cold hearted man.

“You shouldn’t let those mortals treat you that way.” Dazai hums softly. “You’re a god for heaven’s sake.” The kitsune then pulls his hand away with a snort. He puts the fan to his face and grins. “You should have stayed at the shrine.”

Atsushi snaps out of his little trance.

“Like hell I would!” Atsushi snaps. Then he freezes. “How did you get in here?”

“Kunikida wanted me to check on his Atsushi-sama. I didn’t know I’d get to see such a show!~”

Dazai giggles and Atsushi crosses his arms.

“Shut up, Dazai.”

“Surely, whatever your grace desires,” Dazai says, giving him a flimsy bow. “Just come back already, my dear. The humans won’t treat you like we do.”

“I feel more comfortable with my own kind.” With that said, Atsushi turns on his heel and storms out, crashing straight into Tanizaki. Tanizaki catches Atsushi before he falls, and offers him a small smile. He tries to brush Atsushi’s bangs behind his ear, but Atsushi pushes his hand away. He turns to leave, but Tanizaki grabs his hand.

“Atsushi-chan… I’m sorry about earlier.”

“It’s fine, no worries.”

“No, it’s not fine. I was rude and I didn’t mean to be. Please let me make it up to you.”

Atsushi turns back to face Tanizaki, takes his hands in his, and gives him a soft smile. “It’s okay. I don’t need you to, but thank you for the concern.”

Atsushi walks away and Tanizaki lets out a huff. He clicks his tongue then follows Atsushi back to class. The two take their seats, but the bell rings for lunch. Kenji turns to face Atsushi and leans forward.

“Whatcha buying for lunch? Wanna buy me bread?”

“I don’t have enough money-” Atsushi opens his wallet and his mouth opens just a bit.

“So you do have enough!”

“You’re missing 30000 yen?”

The two look towards the back of the class where Tanizaki sits, surrounded by girls. He flaunts his empty wallet with a sigh.

“Yeah… must be an unlucky day for me.” One of the girls besides Atsushi takes his wallet and looks in.

“Hey! Atsushi seems to have 30000 yen. Maybe he stole it?”

Tanizaki’s lips turn into a small smirk and Atsushi turns red. He takes his wallet back from the girl who lets out a theatrical gasp. Kenji frowns at her and sticks out his tongue. Tanizaki leans back and winks at Atsushi. He looks at the girls beside him and pouts.

“I forgot, I lent it all to Atsushi. He told me he didn’t have any money and I decided to-”

“Atsushi-sama~”

Dazai stands in the doorway, in his human form. Kunikida and Ranpo stand behind him, their heads bowed and their hands hold covered platters. Both are wearing red yukatas and their hair is tied up with a red ribbon. Dazai holds a bento box in his hand. He is dressed traditionally, wearing a red yukata and a white haori on his shoulders. His bangs are pulled out of his face, a clip holding them back. He offered Atsushi a smile. He puts the food before Atsushi.

“You forgot your lunch. I was worried sick.”

Tanizaki gawks at him and Dazai offers the idol his coldest smile. “Please do not slander my master’s name. Your money is right beside your seat.” He gestures to the floor where the money sits and Tanizaki blanches.

Dazai caresses Atsushi’s face. “Make it home safely, Atsushi-dono. I bid you farewell.”

Dazai leaves the same way he enters, with a flourish. He leaves Atsushi’s face a bright red and his heart pounding. Flustered and practically Kenji gazes up at Atsushi and Tachibana looks up from his phone to stare too.

“Holy shit Atsu. That’s one pretty man.”

Chapter Text

“Atsushi-chan!”

The boy stares at the sleek fancy car that had pulled up besides him on his way to school. His lips twist into a frown and Kenji gawks at the car. The tinted black window rolls down, revealing Tanizaki, his hair pulled back and sunglasses covering his eyes. Tanizaki offers the two one of his heart stopping smiles.

“Atsushi-chan,” he coos, “There you are! Let me give you a ride as an apology for yesterday.”

He opens the door, gets out, then offers his hand to Atsushi. Atsushi looks down at it, then looks back up at Tanizaki. Kenji looks between the two of them and tries to slip away. Atsushi grabs his arm. A crowd of Tanizaki’s fangirls starts to form around them, whispering rumors about the two boys. Atsushi feels his face heat up in irritation. First yesterday’s fiasco and now this? Bullshit. Part of him wishes Dazai were here to push aside this annoying popstar-

Get a grip! Kick his ass on your own!

“No thanks.” Atsushi snaps as he takes Kenji by the arm. They try to walk away, but Tanizaki smoothly steps in front of them.

“Why not? Are ya shy? I understand that you’ve probably never met someone as famous as me-” Atsushi puts his finger to Tanizaki’s chest.

“Cause I. Hate. You.”

“You hate me?” Tanizaki asks, feigning hurt. The fans surrounding them snap at Atsushi, who simply rolls his eyes.

Kenji crosses his arms and comes to his friend’s defense. “You think he wants to be friends when you were being a big meanie yesterday? No thanks.”

Atsushi turns on his heel, grabs Kenji’s arm, and storms off. Tanizaki watches as they go, cursing under his breath.

-----

The two finally end up at school, Tachihara waiting for them at the entrance. He leans on the side of the gate, a candy cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Atsushi lets out a little laugh. Tachihara begins to walk with them to class as they pass.

“You’re late,” he says between bites of candy.

“We had a small issue-”

“The popstar likes Atsushi!”

Tachibana chokes.

“What?”

“KENJI!”

Atsushi feels Tachibana’s stare on him and begins to walk faster. His friends match his pace as he climbs up the steps. Tachibana hops in front of him.

“So a superstar boyfriend?”

“He is NOT my boyfriend and if you say that again I am not sharing my melon bun with you.”

“Atsushi- there you are!” Tanizaki is heading straight for him. Atsushi blanches and starts running. Tachibana bursts into laughter.
“He isn’t leaving Atsushi-sama alone,” Kunikida murmurs. He sits on a tree branch, next to Ranpo and Dazai, who are playing poker. The three of them are sitting outside the building, watching as Atsushi runs past his classroom and into the boy’s bathroom. Dazai lets out a low grumble. Kunikida looks at the deity, wondering if he’s truly worried about the master.

Turns out his hand was just shit.

“Stupid bird,” Dazai snaps. “If that moronic god actually listened to me and put on that fucking bandana we wouldn’t be here right now. I could be at home tending to the garden.”

Ranpo just drops his cards with a grin. “Royal flush. I won, Dazai-sama.”

“Son of a bitch.”

Chapter Text

Atsushi had been cornered in the bathroom by the superstar, his body pressed up against the wall. Tanizaki had told him to meet him on the rooftop which felt very shoujo esque. He sadly agreed to the meeting, only because he just wanted to go to his classroom. Dazai watched from the tree as his god fidgeted around in class, taking notes, looking through papers.

He took a drag from his pipe, letting the smoke waft off his lips. Kunikida sits beside him as they study the little godling. Protecting him was a waste of time. The humans didn’t do anything exciting during these 8 hours. They did arithmetic, learned English, and struggled to cook. They took tests and ran outside. The girls always fawned over the boys, especially that stupid tengu.

Dazai lowers his lashes, peering at his master. Why would he want to come back to this pain in the ass of a place? He did not need the companionship of others anymore. He was a deity. He had Dazai and that’s all he needed.

Kunikida looks away from his lord and back at Dazai, who’s puffing out smoke like a train. His eyes are narrowed, irritation written all over his face.

He truly does look like a cat, Kunikida muses.

There’s an angry twitch of his ear when Atsushi stands from his seat. A scowl twists onto the lips of Dazai as his gaze drops to Tanizaki, but the boy doesn’t move. Atsushi was called on by the teacher and is just answering a simple math problem. Dazai realizes how tense he is, then relaxes as he takes a drag from his pipe.

They watch the master for a few hours more, eyes slowly closing as the teachers drone about their lessons. Suddenly the bells toll, signaling the start to their break. Dazai’s eyes open, his gaze following Atsushi as he walks out of the classroom and as Tanizaki stalks after him. The kitsune shoves Ranpo off his side and quickly makes his way to the rooftop where the two are headed.

“Atsu-chan!”

Atsushi turns to see Tanizaki waving at him happily, as if they have been friends for years. The silver haired boy crosses his arms, annoyed at the very sight of the ginger idol.

“Tanizaki.”

“Oh you wound me, being so cold.”

“You were quite the ass yourself yesterday,” Atsushi snorts. “ Now get to the point.”

“Alright then,” Tanizaki says, pulling off his sunglasses. “Why do you hate me?”

Atsushi gawks at him. “You’re really going to ask me that?”

“Exactly. No one can keep their eyes off of me, not even the boys. Why are you the only one that doesn’t seem to be affected by my beauty?” Tanizaki takes a step closer to Atsushi.

There’s something off about Tanizaki, but Atsushi can’t place it. He rolls his eyes as Tanizaki keeps talking.

“If your taste isn’t in beauty… I could show you… other things…”

“EW!” Atsushi shoves him away. “You know if you keep acting stuck up and shit no one will actually like you. You could be single forever and not have any friends.”

“You little-”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to class.”

Dazai chuckles to himself, watching his master storm back into the building. The other boy, who seemed to be furious, followed right after him.

Suddenly the boy grew wings which spread out, stretching as far as they could reach. He shook them out a few times then snarled to himself.

“If that stupid land god thinks he’s going to get away from me, then he’s wrong.”

“Oh really?”

Tanizaki quickly turns to find Dazai standing right behind him, his devilish smile hidden behind his fan. He flicks his wrist, shutting the fan, then puts it in his pocket. Tanizaki narrows his eyes.

“Good morning tengu!” Dazai chirps as he pretends to clean off his yukata. “Mixing with humans, what a naughty little crow. Does your mountain know you came down to terrorize a god?”

Tanizaki sneers. “I would never come down just for a pathetic little god. I came down years before.”

“Mhm…” Dazai yawns, only barely covering his mouth. Tanizaki scoffs at the blatantly rude gesture, then tends to his hair.

“You’re his familiar aren’t you?”

“Of course I am, why else would I be here?”

“A kitsune bound by a human, impressive. I think you would be more powerful under me though. We would make an excellent duo.”

“A tengu? As a god? Now you are asking me to laugh. My master would never give up his godhood to the likes of you.”

“You think I’d just waltz over and ask him to hand it over?”

Dazai tilts his head and smiles. “Of course! You’re stupid enough to consider that an option, don’t you think?”

Tanizaki’s feathers bristle at the insult, but he tries to tap down his rising anger. Dazai quietly laughs to himself as Tanizaki works up his courage to stride straight up to Dazai. The two are only a few steps away from each other as Tanizaki leans in.

“Help me kill the human. I know you want him dead, I know he means nothing to a kitsune like you. Help me kill him and I’ll give you anything you desire.”

“Really?” Dazai tilts his head as if he is truly pondering over the offer. Tanizaki grins, knowing that the kitsune would rather work under another yokai than a stupid mortal. Dazai hums quietly, taking his time.

He reaches into his pocket and rubs his fingers against a single leaf inside.

Tanizaki smiles. “Well? Will you join me? All I need is his heart-”

“No.”
“Excuse me?”

“You dare to believe that I would break the oath between my master and I? I am bound to him, as he is bound to me.”

Tanizaki snorts. “You make it sound like you’re married-”

Dazai throws up the leaf then tosses it at Tanizaki, who lets out a squawk, and is hit by Dazai’s magic. There’s a cloud of smoke that swallows him, rising over the two yokai. When the dust settles, Dazai claps joyously at the sight of the ostrich, the former tengu.

“You bitch!” Tanizaki snaps.

“My lord shall love our dinner tonight! I doubt he’s ever had such gamey meat, but I know when I prepare it-”

“WHAT?” Tanizaki quickly turns around, sprinting off into the school. Dazai flicks his hands, sending the will o wisps after the bird.

“Get him.”

--------

There’s a loud crash and people begin screaming in the hallways. Atsushi and the others turn their heads to find out what’s happening. Atsushi’s eyes widen as he sees an ostrich being chased down the hall by Dazai’s will o wisps. He quickly gets up and goes after the animal.

“ATSU-”

“I’ll be right back Kenji!”

Atsushi bursts into the halls, chasing after the wisps. He notices the necklace around the ostrich’s neck and becomes furious. After cornering Tanizaki he turns to the wisps and snaps for Dazai to come to him.

Dazai appears before his master, with a devilish grin playing at his lips.

“My lord! Oh you’ve seemed to have caught our dinner. I can’t believe it ran off-”

“Dazai.”

The kitsune smiles as he tends to his bangs, fixing them and putting them back in their proper positions. “Yes master?”

Atsushi tries not to turn red as Dazai’s eyes lock on to him and as his smirk curves upward.

“Turn him back right now, Dazai-san.”

Dazai pouts and Atsushi turns his face to look at Tanizaki. The ostrich lets out a whimper, and his eyes are full of tears.

“Dazai, do it now.”

“Yes, my lord,” Dazai mutters. The kitsune snaps his fingers and Tanizaki turns back to himself. He’s disheveled and his wings have lost a few feathers. He lets out a low cry and throws himself around Atsushi’s legs.

“What the hell?” Atsushi gawks at Tanizaki’s large wings. “I thought that was a costume part-”

“He’s a tengu, from Kurama mountain.” Dazai murmurs. “He says he came down several years earlier. He was attempting to eat your heart.”

Atsushi blanches as Tanizaki looks up at him. There’s a cut on his forehead, blood trickling down from it.

“I won’t try again,” He says weakly. “I promise. I just don’t want to be eaten!”

Atsushi kneels down to Tanizaki’s level and wipes away a tear. “As long as you understand your mistake, everything is fine.” Atsushi smiles softly at him, and Tanizaki’s heart stops. Dazai gawks at them and feels a bit of anger rise in his chest.

He’s very kind, Tanizaki thinks to himself. Atsushi takes out a bandaid from his pocket, tearing off the packaging. He wipes away the blood with his sleeve then sticks it on. Their eyes meet and Tanizaki feels heat rise into his face. Dazai feels a prick at his heart, part of him wanting to shove Tanizaki away from his master. He doesn’t do it though, he knows Atsushi would snap the minute he touched the tengu.

“There. I hope it goes away soon.”

“Thank you.”

Atsushi stands and pulls Tanizaki up. He fixes the idol’s bangs so they hide the bandage, then slips the sunglasses onto his face. “Now your girls won’t see it!”

Tanizaki lowers his head, thanking him, then turns to walk away. Dazai sighs as he goes to take out his fan, but Atsushi takes Dazai’s hand in his.

Dazai looks at his master then looks down at their hands. Atsushi’s skin is soft like roses and warm like the sun. He gives Atsushi this almost loving look-

Atsushi drags Dazai down to his height, grabbing his ear. This earns a hiss from the kitsune.

“Why did you do this at the school of all places?” he snaps. Dazai lets out a yelp as Atsushi twists his ear.

“WHY ARE YOU SCOLDING ME INSTEAD OF HIM? HE TRIED TO EAT YOU-”

“AND YOU TRIED TO EAT HIM.”

Atsushi leaves school early and walks back to the shrine, scolding Dazai along the way.

Chapter Text

A snake makes it way into the school grounds, passing by students who are fooling around as they clean. Suddenly it’s picked up by a boy and it begins to squirm. The boy runs through the halls with a smirk on his face, then stops in front of a classroom.

“Hey Atsushi! Look what I found!”

Atsushi turns to face Tachibana, who in turn shoves the snake into his friend’s face. Atsushi gently takes the snake from Tachibana and makes a face at him.

“Leave it alone, Tachi.” The snake curls up Atsushi’s arm and lets out a low hiss at Tachibana.

“Fine fine.” Tachibana huffs and goes off to clean again. Kenji looks at Atsushi and smiles at the snake.

“Aw he’s cute.”

“Isn’t he?” Atsushi smiles and rubs the snake’s head. “Since I’m done cleaning, I’m gonna go take it to the garden. It should be happier there.”

“Okay! We’ll meet you by the front gate after.”

“Cool.”

-----

Atsushi bends down, setting the snake gently into the grass. He pats it’s head one more time before letting it go. He waves to it as it slithers away, then notices a mark on his wrist. It’s a faint red color, like blush. He stares at it for a moment then runs off to the front of the school to meet his friends.

-------

Dazai sits in front of a mirror, fixing up his bandages. He hums as he does it, tearing off the older ones to make room for the new. Ranpo enters the room with Kunikida trailing behind him and Dazai quickly finishes up.

“The master is coming up the steps!” Ranpo says joyfully. “Mmm do you think he brought back some more melon buns? I like those.”

Kunikida scoffs. “You need to stop asking him for those. We are his humble servants, not the other way around.”

“I wish it was the other way around,” Dazai muses. Kunikida shoots him a look and Dazai just smirks. Ranpo takes a seat next to Dazai and pops a lollipop into his mouth. He offers one to Dazai who just shakes his head.

They all hear the door open and Kunikida goes to greet their master. Dazai rolls his eyes.

“I’m home!” Atsushi grins as he enters the room. Dazai’s eyes soften as Atsushi makes his way to the table then he quickly averts his gaze to his nails. Atsushi takes a seat next to Dazai and Kunikida brings some tea over. The land god sets his bag, takes a cup of tea, and begins to drink.

“Oh joy, the master has finally arrived. Let’s have a feast,” Dazai remarks dryly. Atsushi sticks his tongue out at the kitsune, who sneers in return. He sets down the cup, looks into it then looks at Dazai.

“You’re always in a bad mood,” Atsushi mutters. Dazai leans forward, getting close to Atsushi’s face.

“Perhaps my temper would be better if you weren’t such an insolent whelp.”

Atsushi’s face heats up and he crosses his arms. Dazai is about to snap at him once again, but holds his tongue when he sees the mark on Atsushi’s wrist. He grabs Atsushi and runs his fingers gently over the mark. He can’t see the way Atsushi’s face heats up at his touch.

“Why are you engaged to a snake?”

Atsushi blanches, unsure how to respond. “What?”

Dazai’s voice has lost all it’s venom when he says it again. “Why are you engaged to a snake? When did you meet it?”

“I… I never got engaged, I just helped it.”

“So you did meet one.”

Kunikida sighs and Ranpo clicks his tongue.

“It’s going to come back,” Kunikida murmurs. “That snake is going to take you as its bride.”

“I- What?” Atsushi blinks and tilts his head, utterly confused. Dazai reaches out and cups Atsushi’s face in his hands.

“If you don’t want to marry a fucking snake then stay here.”

Their eyes lock and Atsushi’s red all over again. Dazai rubs his thumb over the mark.

“Please.”

Something tugs at Atsushi’s heart as he pulls his hand out of Dazai’s grasp.

“I can’t, I’ve already missed too much school.” He lowers his gaze so he doesn't have to meet Dazai’s. He turns back to the cup of tea and takes a sip.

Dazai clicks his tongue and frowns. “I have a reputation to uphold, little godling. Losing my master to a filthy snake would tarnish it and have a horrible effect on us all. Therefore, since you do not care about your own well being, I shall accompany you to your school.”

Atsushi chokes, his face going pale. He shakes his head violently, earning a glare from Dazai.

“You can’t.”

“Silence. You do not seem to understand the situation you’re in. Your pleads shall fall onto deaf ears.” Dazai stands and dusts off his yukata. He gives Atsushi a glare and is met with the godling sticking out his tongue. He makes a face then turns to leave. “Clean your hands Atsushi-sama, your dinner is almost ready.

He struts off leaving Atsushi fuming at the table. Atsushi stares into the cup of tea in his hands and then looks back at the opened door. Ranpo pats the back of his master’s hand.

“Atsushi-dono, Dazai is just worried.”

Kunikida nods in agreement as he cleans up the area where Dazai sat. “Fukuzawa-dono left the shrine and now Dazai doesn’t want you to do the same.”

“Why did Fukuzawa leave the shrine?”

“We don’t know. He used to be content as a god, he loved to help mortals and take in stray cats.” Kunikida muses.

“Perhaps he was never content in the first place.” Ranpo murmurs. Atsushi gives him a sad look and reaches out to hug him, but Ranpo just turns and runs off. Kunikida clicks his tongue.

“A strange one he is.”

___

 

Atsushi walks to school with Dazai in tow, annoyance clearly written on his face. Dazai follows him while reading a book, a novel he had stolen from Atsushi’s bag. As they walk through the town they stop at a convenience store. Kenji and Tachibana are already there, waving at the two boys.

“Who’s he?” Tachibana motions at Dazai, who gives him a cold smile.

“I am-” Atsushi pinches Dazai who lets out a low yelp.

“We’re childhood friends. He’s switching over to our school today.” Kenji smiles and hugs Dazai, who makes a face.

“It’s always great to make new friends. Want a melon bun?”

Dazai looks down at the pre-packaged good in Kenji’s hand. He feels Atsushi’s gaze on him, as if telling him to take it. It seems horrible and it could be stale. Nothing could come close to his cooking. Nevertheless he gingerly takes it from Kenji’s grasp and gives him a fake smile.

“Sure.”

Atsushi then links arms with the kitsune and the four head off towards school. They let the other two boys lead the way. Dazai opens the melon bun and Atsushi steals a bite. Dazai shoots him a glare.

“I fed you earlier,” Dazai hisses. “Eating this will spoil your lunch.”

“Ok and? Melon buns are great.” Atsushi mutters.

Most of the walk is filled with bickering between the boys, but their conversation quickly dies down when they get closer to the school. Atsushi feels people's eyes not on him, but on Dazai. It’s mostly the girls staring. They turn red and avoid making eye contact with Dazai. Something pricks at Atsushi’s heart. He frowns as girls begin to walk with them, small talking with Dazai.

What makes it worse is he’s actually talking back! Dazai smiles and lets out a few chuckles, flirting with them. Atsushi lets go of the kitsune’s arm and frowns. Dazai doesn't seem to notice the anger coming from his master. Atsushi leaves him behind and quickly catches up with Tachibana and Kenji.

__

 

Dazai dozes next to Atsushi, his head on the book that they should both be studying. Atsushi eyes his familiar wearily, unable to focus on the lesson. He studies the kitsune’s pretty face. When he’s asleep he doesn’t glare, he doesn’t hiss, his doesn’t scold him. He looks calm and peaceful. Atsushi smiles to himself and pokes the sleeping beast. He stirs, only a little.

Atsushi ponders the risk of petting him. Perhaps he could get away with it. He quietly scoots his seat closer to the sleeping yokai then places his hand on it’s head. No reaction. Atsushi lets out a laugh and goes to pet the head of his familiar.

His hair is soft and light. To Atsushi’s surprise, Dazai leans into his touch. Dazai lets out a soft sigh.

“Odasaku…” he murmurs.

Atsushi stops.

“Odasaku?”

He pulls away from the kitsune, then goes back to work. By the end of class, Dazai is still not awake and Atsushi is tired and annoyed. He goes and pulls Dazai’s ear.

“OW, what the hell was that for?” Dazai snaps.

“So you could wake up, Mr. Protector. What did you protect today? Your dreams?”

“Shut up.”

Atsushi sticks his tongue out as Kenji walks over with some files in hand. Their bickering ceases as Kenji hands them over to Atsushi.

“Sensei wants you to take these to the staff room.”

Atsushi sighs, then stands up. He turns to his familiar. “Wait here Dazai I’ll come back after-”

It’s too late, the kitsune is asleep again. Atsushi frowns. Some protector.

As Atsushi walks down the halls humming to himself, he slips, dropping half the papers to the floor. He curses, then goes to pick them up. Someone joins him, picking up the rest of the papers. They hand it back and Atsushi looks up to thank them.

It’s a man, dressed in a yukata. His skin is pale and his hair is a striking pitch black with the tips of it fading into white. His eyes are a dark grey and they’re studying Atsushi, roaming over his body. He offers his hand to the young god, and Atsushi feels something throb at his wrist. He takes the man's hand and his sleeve slides away to reveal the snake’s mark glowing. The man kisses Atsushi’s fingertips and Atsushi feels his heart jump into his throat.

“Come with me,” the man murmurs. He whisks the god away before he can answer, the only thing left behind is the log books, falling to the floor.

Chapter Text

Dazai wakes up to the sound of girls giggling. It’s the worst sound that could have ever graced his ears. He groggily opens one eye, then the other, the sunset blinding him only slightly. Dazai glances at the chair next to him. Atsushi isn’t there, but his schoolbag is. He sits up and looks around. His god is nowhere in sight. He curses, grabs Atsushi’s bag then goes to find his godling’s friends. He finds them in the garden, tending to the flowers.

“Where’s Atsushi?”

Kenji looks up and wipes his brow. “He was supposed to drop off the log books in the staff room. Isn’t he back by now?”

Dazai doesn’t reply and runs back into the building. He climbs the stairs and runs straight for the staff room, but stops in his tracks when he sees the log books on the floor.

“You have got to be KIDDING ME,” Dazai snarls. His student facade disappears and he’s now a snarling yokai, cursing the snake who took his master. He conjures several wil o wisps, not bothering to check for mortals.

“Find the master, report back to me. Do not come back unless you find him.”

The wisps linger and Dazai narrows his eyes. “GO NOW.”

_____

 

Atsushi wakes up in a shrine, his head on someone’s lap. He’s somewhat groggy and turns to face the person holding him in their arms.

“D-Dazai?”

The person seems to stiffen at the name. Nonetheless, they run their hands through Atsushi’s hair and he shuts his eyes, leaning into the touch.

“I am Ryuunosuke Akutagawa,” he replies. Atsushi quickly stands up, the shock taking over him and pulling out of his semi dream state.

Akutagawa quietly coughs into his hand, then stands.

“I am the familiar of my mistress’s shrine.”

Akutagawa motions at a room across from them, curtains hiding the goddess that supposedly sits behind it.

“Her name is Higuchi, she has given us her blessing for our union.”

He takes Atsushi’s hand and brushes it against his lips. It sends a shiver down Atsushi’s spine, but it’s nothing like the ones he gets when Dazai looks at him. This time it’s different, this time, he’s nervous.

“I- I’m not getting married,” He says with a nervous chuckle. Akutagawa lowers his eyes to the mark on Atsushi’s wrist. His eyes then flick back up to meet Atsushi’s. His eyes are narrowed and you would see the snakelike slits appear just for a second.

“Of course you are,” Akutagawa remarks. He takes Atsushi’s hand in his, then drags his fingertips over the mark he left. It glows at his touch and he smirks at the mortal god. “This is proof of our engagement.”

Atsushi pulls his hand away, his face turning red. Akutagawa lets out a soft cough.

“Just because you left a mark doesn’t mean shit. If humans can break off engagements so can we.”

Atsushi turns around. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to Dazai.”

Akutagawa sighs and follows Atsushi as he makes his way out of the shrine.

“You can’t leave,” the familiar muses.

“Watch me,” Atsushi snaps. He storms down the steps and Akutagawa clicks his tongue as the deity marches solemnly into the distance.

----------------

It’s been two hours… Atsushi is exhausted, every bone in his body aching. The woods never seem to end. He tripped a while back, and it makes the pain in his legs worse. He brushes his bangs out of his eyes, then gasps when he sees a light up ahead.

“Oh my god, finally!”

He musters up the last of his strength then sprints down the road leading to his freedom.He’ll finally see Dazai again, maybe Dazai will be worried sick, maybe he’ll embrace him, maybe even-

Akutagawa stands at the end of the path, a lantern in his hands. He nods his head to the deity, who collapses to his knees out of exhaust and surprise.

“How…” Akutagawa makes his way to the god, his steps as soundless as the world around them.

“I told you you can’t go.”

The snake kneels beside his betrothed, then lifts Atsushi’s leg. It’s bruised and scratched up. Akutagawa quickly puts down the lantern then goes to treat his wounds.

“It’s my fault you got hurt,” he whispers. As he wraps a bandage around Atsushi’s knee, the god looks away, his eyes tearing up.

Dazai’s a liar. He said he’d protect me…

Akutagawa leaves a kiss on Atsushi’s thigh which makes him turn a bright pink. He quickly stands, almost losing his balance. Akutagawa stands as well, then offers the deity his hand. Atsushi’s gaze flits between the hand and the deity’s stormy eyes. He hesitates for a few moments then takes Akutagawa’s hand. The familiar’s lips flicker into a ghost of a smile, then dip right back to a solemn line.

“Let’s go home.”

______

 

“Atsushi-sama isn’t back,” Ranpo whimpers. “What if something bad happened when the snake got him?”

“Now now,” Kunikida sighs. He pulls Ranpo into a hug, patting his head to comfort him. “Dazai-sama doesn’t seem to be stressed, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.”
They both turn to look at the familiar, who is tugging weeds out of the garden. Dazai seems to be lost in thought, as he pulls out a flower by accident. He then blanches, staring at the wisteria in his hand. Ranpo, chokes out a sob.

“ATSUSHI-DONO IS DOOMED!”

Kunikida shakes the younger spirit, trying to force him to regain his senses.

“Do not speak that way about our master! I'm sure Dazai-sama will find him in no time.”

Dazai takes a breath, burying his face in his hands.

I’ve failed Atsushi-sama. I need to get him back, no matter what the cost.

----------

Atsushi lies next to Akutagawa, his body facing away from the familiar. He closes his eyes and pretends to sleep so the familiar would leave him alone. Akutagawa sighs and looks at the god beside him. He traces Atsushi’s jaw as he fakes slumber, a small, sad smile forming on his lips.

The snake familiar stands, then walks to the sliding door. He opens it quietly, then makes his way onto the small porch. Akutagawa takes a seat on the edge, picking up a fallen plum blossom in his hands. Atsushi opens one eye just in time to see Akutagawa bring it to his lips, then blow it away. He seems melancholy as he gazes at the tree.

There’s something wrong here....

He thinks as sleep begins to take him.

Atsushi wakes up to Akutagawa cleaning. He sits up and yawns, drawing the familiar’s attention. His eyes soften and lowers his head.

“Good morning Atsushi.”

Atsushi jumps at the sound, then it hits him. He’s not at home. That isn’t Dazai. Ranpo and Kunikida aren’t here. He feels a pang of sadness, but smiles anyway.

“Good morning. Can I go home today?”

Akutagawa lifts his hand to cover a cough. “Our wedding is today, my dear. Why would you ever want to leave? Don’t you like it here?”

Atsushi deflates, then lowers his eyes to the ground. “It’s lovely, but… I’d rather be at my own shrine,” he murmurs. Akutagawa makes his way to his betrothed, and takes a seat next to him. He cups Atsushi’s face in his hands and brings their foreheads together. Atsushi immediately turns a bright shade of pink.

“A-Akutagawa-san…”

“Why do you want to leave me so badly? Am I not enough? Does Dazai-san treat you better? Do you want me to be like him?” Akutagawa looks down at Atsushi’s lips, then back to his eyes. “I’ll touch you where he has, I’ll kiss you like he does, I’ll treasure you more than he could possibly imagine.”

Atsushi can feel his face burning. He panics and pulls away.

“Um... “ He’s trying to think of how to change the subject. He looks at the room that is closed with a curtain. The one the god supposedly hides behind. Akutagawa realizes where his groom is looking, then forces Atsushi to face him. He caresses his face then gives him a small smile.

“What are you hiding?”

Akutagawa pales, his skin turning as white as snow. “Nothing.”

“Why doesn’t Higuchi-sama show herself?”

“She’s a busy woman. As long as my goddess approves of our marriage, I am content.”

Atsushi stands. Akutagawa does the same, his eyes turning snake-like and his nails growing sharp. He reaches out to grab Atsushi.

“DON’T TOUCH HER-” he snarls.

It’s too late. The curtain is open. Higuchi isn’t there.

Chapter Text

Akutagawa stands silently before the area where his goddess used to sit. His eyes are closed and his mouth is pulled into a thin line. The curtain moves, but there is no wind. The area where Higuchi used to sit seems to be warmer than the rest of the shrine. Atsushi sits on his knees before the snake familiar, studying his face, searching for answers. The snake deity turns to face the empty seat, his eyes softening.

“What happened to Higuchi-sama?”

“She died long ago. Humans stopped worshipping her and she began to fade away.” His gaze turns towards the plum blossoms outside. “My goddess was born in a time of need. When they did not need her anymore, they left. I was furious that those humans left her for dead, but Higuchi-sama just smiled.”

“That tree outside was her favorite… She watched it everyday after she began to fade. I feel like after she passed she became part of it.” He smiles up at it. “I hope she’s heard everything I whispered into the flowers.”

Akutagawa lowers his head and Atsushi’s gaze drops to the floor.

“I’m so sorry.” Akutagawa looks at Atsushi, his eyes blurry with tears.

“I miss her…” The familiar put his head in his hands. “I promised to stay here, to watch over her shrine after she was gone…”

Atsushi stands and walks up to Akutagawa, taking his hands into his own. Akutagawa’s hands are smooth and cold. He squeezes them. Akutagawa lowers his head onto Atsushi’s shoulder, hiding his face from his view. He takes a deep breath, taking in Atsushi’s flowery scent. This moment feels perfect for him and Akutagawa wishes this moment could last forever. Akutagawa stands up again and gazes at the god before him.

“Higuchi wished for your happiness didn’t she?” Atsushi softly smiles up at him. Akutagawa hums in response. “You seem so lonely despite your promise… I know if I passed away I wouldn’t want Dazai to linger in the shrine alone like this. I think you should go out and do your own things.”

Akutagawa suddenly throws his arms around the land god, pulling him close to his chest. Atsushi hears the beat of Akutagawa’s heart, the way it races when he’s pressed against him. He feels heat rise to his face and Akutagawa holds him tighter.

“Stay with me,” he murmurs into the god’s silver hair. Akutagawa strokes his hair gently, pressing a kiss to Atsushi’s temple. “I won’t be alone anymore if you are by my side. Please my love, don’t leave me too.”

The plea resonates in Atsushi’s heart. Akutagawa brings their foreheads together, his hands tracing Atsushi’s face. Atsushi holds his breath as Akutagawa leans in to kiss him-

“You son of a bitch!” Dazai storms in with Kunikida and Ranpo at his heels. Akutagawa pulls himself away from Atsushi, his face showing no sign of sadness from before. He snarls at the kitsune, putting himself between his betrothed and the intruder. Ranpo brightens at the sight of his master a smile on his face.

“Atsushi-sama!” He tries to run up to the god, but Akutagawa transforms into a snake and hisses at him. Ranpo backs up as Akutagawa turns back to his human form.

“What the hell are you doing in my shrine?” Akutagawa hisses at Dazai.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve trying to steal my god.” Dazai snaps.

“I did not steal Atsushi,” Akutagawa straightens himself and pretends to dust off his clothes. “He’s my husband, I brought him home. “

“Humans call that kidnapping,” Dazai retorts. He flicks his wrist and the shrine sets on fire. Akutagawa cries out and attempts to put out the fire where Higuchi used to sit. He fights back tears as his home begins to crumble. Atsushi watches as he tries to save the burning shrine but stops when Dazai walks swiftly past Akutagawa and envelopes Atsushi in a hug. Atsushi’s eyes widen, then shut, as tears begin to fall.

Dazai caresses the face of his god, silently thanking any higher being for Atsushi’s safety. He feels Atsushi’s grip tighten and Dazai feels a pang of regret for not getting here sooner. He rubs the god’s back as he murmurs words of comfort in his ears. Ranpo and Kunikida come over and begin hugging their master as well.

“Thank the heavens you’re alright.” Atsushi holds Dazai tightly crying into his sleeve. Kunikida chuckles and Ranpo lets out a whine.

“We were worried about you Atsushi-dono! I missed you so much and even Kunikida couldn't focus on chores!” Ranpo nuzzled into the hug. “Oh but Dazai-sama was worried sick-”

Dazai shoots the spirit a look and Ranpo instantly shuts his mouth. Atsushi chuckles but goes to grasp at Dazai again. His familiar shakes his head and he takes Atsushi’s hand in his.

“You lied…”

“Hmm?”

“You said I wouldn’t get taken away…”

Dazai chuckles and lifts Atsushi’s face so the god can look up at him. He gives him a smirk.

“I’m here now aren’t I? Isn’t that what matters?” Atsushi nods and lets out a shaky breath.

Kunikida leaves their little huddle to look outside. “Oh… The gardens are on fire…”

Akutagawa blanches and runs out to the peach blossom tree, turning to Dazai and yelling at him.

“How could you?!” Akutagawa manages to get rid of all the flames that threaten the tree. Dazai smirks and pulls himself away from his master. He stands and ventures outside with foxfire in his hand. “You stupid fucking fox! No wonder Fukuzawa-sama left you! You’re still a hideous wild beast that will never be a true familiar. You bring nothing but chaos with you wherever you go! You were never a divine familiar like me! You will never be cherished as such!”

Dazai doesn’t react.

“You seem to treasure that tree immensely…” Dazai croons. “What would happen if I destroyed it?”

Akutagawa turns as white as snow. Dazai’s smirk grows.

“Please… spare it…” Akutagawa turns to Atsushi, but Dazai throws fire at the snake shikigami.

“Do not look upon him.”

“Spare the tree… it’s all I ask.”

Dazai lets out a chuckle. “You think after what you’ve done you deserve a favor? You kidnapped my master!”

Dazai raises his fist, the blue flames swirling around his hand. Atsushi looks at Akutagawa then jumps in front of his familiar. Dazai stiffens and the flames disperse. He looks between the two of them, anger rising in his chest.

“You’re defending him? The bastard who just stole you away?”

Atsushi glares at him and holds his hand up. “That’s enough, Dazai.”

Akutagawa slumps down in relief, grateful that his tree was saved. Dazai pouts at his master, making it clear that he’s still annoyed. Atsushi pats Akutagawa on the head and the snake deity looks up at him. Dazai feels a pang of jealousy in his chest. He turns away from the scene, watching Ranpo and Kunikida bicker.

“Thank you, my love…” Akutagawa lowers his head. “I’m sorry…”

Atsushi smiles. “It’s alright, I understand why you did it. I have to go, but if you ever want company you can come and visit. You’re welcome anytime, Akutagawa-kun. I’ll always be willing to watch the peach blossoms with you.”

Akutagawa’s lips curve into a small smile and he nods.

“Thank you.”

Atsushi walks away, taking Dazai’s hand and bringing him along with him. Dazai feels the jealousy leave his chest. He rolls his eyes and Atsushi chuckles. Kunikida and Ranpo see this as their cue to leave and begin to lead them back to their ride.

“Why did you do that dumbass?” Dazai mutters. “Why would you want to help him?”

“His goddess faded away. He’s been alone all these years,” Atsushi says. “If I died, I wouldn’t want you to stay cooped up in a shrine for the rest of your life. I would want you to go out, live your life. He never had the chance.”

Atsushi looks up to him and smiles and Dazai quickly looks away. He can feel his face heat up just a bit.

He’s too kind for his own good, goddamnit.

Chapter Text

Atsushi was the unluckiest man alive. He couldn’t believe he had caught a fever. He felt dizzy and every bone in his body ached. He let out a sigh, then sat up, a wave of dizziness hitting him. Atsushi felt tears in his eyes as he collapsed into his bed.

“Kunikida…”

The shrine spirit came in when he was called and blanched the minute he saw his master sprawled out on the ground.

“Atsushi-dono, shall I get Dazai?”

The god sat up quickly, but once again fell to the floor from dizziness overwhelming him.

“Don’t tell him, he’ll only laugh-”

“You silly little human,” Dazai murmurs as he walks into the room. He leans down and smirks at his god. Atsushi sticks his tongue out at the fox. Dazai cups his god’s face, ready to make another rude remark, but his face pales when he feels how warm Atsushi’s skin is. Atsushi lets out a little hum as Dazai’s cold hand touches his skin. He leans into it and Dazai doesn’t bother to pull away.

“My dear, I highly recommend you stay home,” the kitsune murmurs. Atsushi shakes his head.

“I can’t, I’ve already missed out on so much…” Atsushi huffs, “I need to go back to school.”

Kunikida comes back into the room, Ranpo following behind him. Ranpo places a cold towel onto Atsushi’s forehead and the god’s face relaxes. Kunikida shakes the box of medicine in his hand and Atsushi makes a face.

“Ew.”

Dazai lets out a soft chuckle. Atsushi takes his hand and looks up at him, his yellow and purple eyes meeting Dazai’ brown ones.

“Go to school for me?”

Dazai makes a face.

“Must I? I’d rather not be surrounded by humans,” he huffs.

Atsushi sits up. “Well if I collapse in a hallway and get kidnapped by another deity that’s on you.”

The young god struggles to stand up and Dazai holds his tongue until he realizes Atsushi is serious. Dazai frowns and scoops up his master into his arms. Atsushi’s face heats up and he buries his face between Dazai’s neck and shoulder.

“Bastard…” Atsushi murmurs.

“If you stop acting like a baby and take your medicine, I will go for you.”

He feels the god nod against him, and Dazai lays Atsushi down onto the bed. Kunikida comes over with water and pills. The god makes a face but takes them nonetheless. Ranpo brings over some tea and sets it down by Atsushi. As the three of them talk amongst themselves, Dazai finds himself gazing at Atsushi. He quickly shifts his gaze elsewhere. He finds Atsushi’s clothes, then goes to change in the bathroom.

Dazai gazes at himself in the mirror, changing the features on his face to match Atsushi’s. His eyes get bigger and his hair becomes silver. His hands become a little smaller and he gets a bit thinner. He smirks and the look somehow fits his god’s face. He changes his clothes then walks out into the room.

Atsushi looks up at him and then looks away. “Weird.”

“Be grateful,” Dazai says, mimicking Atsushi’s voice. “I’m taking your place while you suffer.”

He opens his mouth to make another snide comment but Kunikida begins to shove the kitsune out the bedroom door.

“HEY-”

Kunikida ignores the fox’s yelp and continues to lead him out of the shrine. He hands him Atsushi’s bag and a few other books. He hands him a bento box and pushes him out the door.

“Maybe if you stopped flirting and hurried up you wouldn’t be running late,” Kunikida snaps.

“FLIRTING?” Dazai squawked. He points at Kunikida, trying to bicker with him. “I hardly call harassing Atsushi flirting.”

Kunikida rolls his eyes. “Great now the young master is ten minutes late to class. Just go already.”

Dazai disappears after flipping off the shrine spirit. Kunikida just shakes his head and heads back in to take care of his master.

______

 

Dazai appears in front of the school and begins to head in. His hopes to avoid humans are instantly destroyed the minute he steps into the classroom. The teacher hasn’t come in yet, so the entire class is talking amongst themselves. Kenji and Tachihara make their way towards him and Dazai feels his skin crawl. They throw their arms around their friend and laugh.

“Hi hi!” Kenji looks up at his ‘friend’ with a smile and hands him a melon bun. “I didn’t see you earlier!”

“I was running late…” Dazai mutters as he takes a seat at Atsushi’s desk.

Tachihara steals a bite from the bun in Dazai’s hands and Dazai pales.

How does he live like this?

As if his day couldn't get any worse, Tanizaki struts into the class, girls flocking besides him. He makes his way to Atsushi’s desk and winks. Kenji rolls his eyes and walks away with Tachihara leaving him with the insufferable idol. He leans forward and Dazai makes a face.

“You look as lovely as ever,” Tanizaki says. Dazai stays silent and rummages through Atsushi’s bag. Tanizaki clears his throat to get Dazai’s attention but the kitsune stays silent.

“You seem a little off today,” Tanizaki comments, lifting Dazai’s chin so ‘Atsushi’ could look at him better. “What’s up?”

“Fuck off Tengu,” Dazai snaps. He smiles to himself, delighted that he could curse in Atsushi’s voice.

Tanizaki straightens himself and looks around. “Your pet isn’t here today,” he muses.

Dazai sneers. “He’s not a pet, he’s my familiar.”
Tanizaki shrugs. “Whatever, but as long as he’s out of the picture, I’m happy.”

He winks at Dazai and the kitsune just turns away from him.

This is gonna be a long day.

-

Dazai….

As Atsushi writhes in his bed, the heat making him uncomfortable, he wishes Dazai were here. Kunikida and Ranpo have both been nursing their god, giving him medicine, helping him feel better. Atsushi lets out a small whine as he kicks off the blankets. He hears someone come in and sit beside him. Atsushi doesn’t bother opening his eyes.

The person next to him presses their hand against his face. Atsushi lets out a little sigh, clasping the cold hand with his own. He leans into the touch and the person besides him lets out a small chuckle. They trace his face, cooling it with every touch. Atsushi coughs a bit and the hand freezes, just for a moment. He frowns.

“Don’t go…” he whines.

“I won’t, my love.”

Atsushi’s eyes open in a flash and he gazes at the person next to him.

“Akutagawa-san?”

The deity smiles. “Hello again.”

Chapter Text

“What are you doing here?”

Akutagawa brushes back Atsushi’s hair and places a towel on his forehead. “Kunikida said you were sick. I waited until your kitsune left, then entered.” He cups the god’s face. “I can’t believe that stupid kitsune just left you like this. He’s a horrible familiar.”

Atsushi makes a face. Akutagawa removes his hand and turns to look at the things he brought with him. Kunikida enters with a cup of tea and the snake takes it.

“He didn’t leave me! I asked for him to go to school for me.”

“Is that so?” There’s a bit of sarcasm dripping from his voice. “How lovely to see you’ve tamed the wretched fox.”

“Stop saying that about him. He isn’t all that bad.”

Akutagawa motions for him to sit up, and the god does as he’s asked. He’s given the tea and takes a sip. Atsushi’s face contorts as he tastes the bitterness. Akutagawa chuckles.

“We slipped the medicine in,” Akutagawa says with a smile the moment Atushi finishes the drink. Atsushi makes another face.

“Dazai wouldn’t trick me like this,” Atsushi grumbles flopping back onto his bed. He pulls the cover over his head, but Akutagawa gently tugs it back. He presses another cool cloth onto the god’s head.

“You would be surprised,” the snake muses. “Dazai hates you and could kill you if he was given the chance.”

“Don’t say that about him,” Atsushi snaps. “He can be a bit irritating at times, but it’s mostly out of worry. He nags because he cares.”

Akutagawa covers his mouth to hide his laugh. “You really don’t know anything.”

“What do you mean?” Atsushi mutters.

“The wild fox has you wrapped around his finger. You’re willing to defend him now. I heard a month ago you two were at each other’s necks.”

“He’s my friend of course I would defend him!”

Akutagawa’s warmth leaves his eyes and he stares down at the god. “But does he consider you one?”

His eyes bore into Atsushi’s, all of his gentleness gone. He looms over the god and the god tries his best to stare back. Akutagawa’s eyes turn snakelike, his pupils turning to slits and narrowing. Atsushi lets out a cough and suddenly Akutagawa goes back to tending to him, as if the staredown didn’t occur. He brushes Atsushi’s hair out of his face and his lips curve into a soft smile.

“Don’t speak so highly of him,” he murmurs. “You don’t even know the first thing about him.”

Atsushi glares at the snake who simply offers him a smile.

“You could see for yourself how horrid he can be. Would you like to?” Akutagawa hums, brushing Atsushi’s bangs aside.

“What?”

Akutagawa stands, then walks out of the room, only to come back with an incense burner.
The snake lifts it, the fumes beginning to fill the room. It smells like peach blossoms, but heavier and more overwhelming. Atsushi begins to feel faint and Akutagawa sets down the incense burner, then puts Atsushi’s head in his lap. He gently strokes the god’s face but when he speaks, his voice is as sharp as a knife.

“Now you’ll see exactly what he is.”

Akutagawa presses a kiss to Atsushi’s forehead as the god’s eyes begin to close.

“A monster.”

-

Atsushi wakes up in an unfamiliar room, the lights dim and low. He lets out a groan and goes to rub his face. He suddenly realizes his hands are bigger and his skin tone is a few shades darker. He sits up quickly and goes to touch his face. There’s stubble on his chin and his hair is shorter, neater. He scrambles around to look for a mirror and lets out a gasp when he sees his face.

Well… not his face.

He’s a man in his 20s, with blue eyes and reddish hair. He has a sort of tired look on his face and a few bags under his eyes. He’s muscular and has a few scars here and there. He also realizes he’s topless. Atsushi scrambles to look for a shirt to put on as he hears a knock on the door. He runs up and opens the door to see a woman, fear in her eyes.

“You need to leave,” she begs him. “The fire just got to our village, this one is next.”

“Fire?”

“The wretched yokai,” she breathes. “They’ve been destroying this area. You need to get out of here. They’re coming and they’re going to kill everyone.”

The woman doesn’t bother to linger. She runs across the path to the next house, going to warn others. Atsushi panics and he runs out of the house, the only issue is he’s running towards the direction of the fire.

The kids!

Atsushi realizes that thought is not his own. It’s the man’s thought and he’s the one forcing Atsushi to run this way. His thoughts are racing, everything intertwining with the man’s until he can no longer realize whose are who.

He suddenly stops at the sight of a group of children and a bunch of women. Atsushi sighs in relief.

“Oda thank goodness!” One of the women grabs his arm. “We took a head count right now, we’re missing Sakura, can you find her?”

“We would go after her, but we need to get these kids to safety,” an older woman says, with tears in her eyes. “Please, help us Oda.”

“No need to beg,” he replies, “I’m already willing to help.”

The women sigh and the kids run up to him, hugging his legs. Atsushi, or rather Oda, leans down to pat a few heads.

“Stay safe okay? Remember to hold hands with someone so you don’t get lost.”

The kids look up at him teary eyed. Oda smiles.

“I promise I’ll save Sakura so she can play with you again.”

Chapter Text

The fire roars as he grows closer, the heat making his skin sticky with sweat, forcing his clothes to stick against his skin, making him uncomfortable. He wipes a bead of sweat away, then looks around. The village seems like a mirage, everything looking horrible in the heat. He can’t stop now though, he has to find Sakura. He cups his hands around his mouth and lets out a raspy wail.

“SAKURAAAAA!”

He wanders around the deserted town for a while. The smoke burns his eyes and lungs, making his body ache. He cuts his fingers on fallen debris, looking for a sign of her. He doesn’t stop crying out for her even though his throat hurts. He walks around and can tell he’s becoming dehydrated, but he has to find her. He can’t lose another kid again.

Another-?

Suddenly he feels someone jump onto his leg and squeeze it tight. It’s a little girl, her face stained with tear tracks, fear written all over her face.

“Big brother Oda!”

Atsushi feels his body, or rather Oda, bend down and scoop her up. He presses a kiss to her temple and begins to soothe her. He murmurs the same words over and over again, in a voice meant for a child’s ears.

“You’re okay,” he whispers as he pets her head. “You’re okay.”

“A monster…” she whimpers into his neck. “It’s chasing me…”

Oda holds her tight and looks around. He can’t see much as his vision fills with ashes and debris. His breath hitches when he sees something move out of the corner of his eye. He turns around and slowly begins to walk back towards the other town. He keeps the child close to his chest, trying to protect her from whatever may come.

“If something finds us…” he murmurs into her ear. “You have to run. Run straight, run fast. You have to.”

The girl nods as tears run down her cheeks. The sight sends a pang of sadness to Atsushi’s chest.

She’s seen far too much devastation for her age, Atsushi thinks. He can hear Sakura’s prayers to the gods, each one of them pleading and begging for them to stay alive. Her heart is yelling at the gods, screaming for them to save her and Oda. Atsushi can’t feel any gods around. The two have truly been abandoned in this wretched place.

Atsushi can sense something behind them, something watching. Oda seems to notice, his grip on Sakura growing tighter. He speeds up his pace, reaching a jog. He can feel his body ache with every step, but he has to keep going. Sakura is shaking in his arms, clinging onto him tightly. She also knows they’re being followed and doesn’t want to run off on her own.

Something shifts and suddenly Atsushi feels like he’s suffocating. He can feel the bloodlust in the air, something growing closer. Oda quickly puts Sakura down and cups her face once more.

“You have to run and hide, something is coming.”

“But-”

“No buts, just run. You can’t look back okay?”

The girl looks like she’s about to protest again, but Oda shoves her away and she starts running towards the village. Oda stands and looks around. A snicker comes from his right as a man approaches him on his left. Oda backs up as the man draws nearer, looking for a way to escape. The man opens his eyes and Oda instantly realizes that he isn’t looking at a human.

Atsushi lets out a gasp as he realizes who is next to him. Dazai looms before him, rather Oda. His short messy curls are now long locks that reach to his back. His bangs are a bit longer and one of his eyes is wrapped in bandages. Mischief gleams in his eye and he carries a fan to cover his wicked grin. His brown tail trails behind him, it looks fuller. A sword is strapped to his side and he wears a blood red kimono. Oda quickly picks up a long piece of broken wood and points it at the yokai.

“Well, well, a fighter! You look strong, but I doubt you could put up a fight against me,” Dazai hums as he steps closer. Oda takes a step back and feels a wall press up against him. He looks behind him to realize he’s stepped into a house that’s half destroyed. He’s cornered. Dazai reaches out and presses a cold hand to Oda’s chest. Atsushi’s breath hitches as Dazai drags his hand up to Oda’s collarbone. He grabs Oda’s jaw and forces him to look into his eyes.

“You’re quite the catch,” Dazai hums. “Prettier than the others I’ve seen and I doubt Chibiko has found anyone as lovely as you.” He squeezes Oda’s face, then goes to feel up his arms, his nails tracing over his muscular build. Oda smacks Dazai’s hand away and Dazai frowns.

“What’s your name?”

Oda doesn't reply. His grip tightens on his makeshift weapon and Dazai sighs. His tail sways as he begins to think.

“You look like you’re ready to fight it out, but it’s honestly not that fun fighting weak opponents. I should have known Chuuya lied about these people being strong.”

Oda takes a breath then eyes him. “Who are you?”

Dazai stops pacing and even his tail freezes. He turns to look back at him. “You’re kidding me. You don’t know me and Chibi? We’re practically famous-”

“OIIIIII, DAZAI!” Dazai quickly covers Oda’s mouth.

“Make a sound and Chuuya kills you. You’re far too pretty for that.”

Dazai gives Oda a smirk, then walks out of the destroyed house. Oda slumps to the ground and tries to look for a way out.

“Yes yes?”

“There you are! Found anything fun yet?”

Oda realizes one of the windows is still free and crawls out. As the two yokai talk amongst themselves, Oda runs in the direction of his village, hoping and praying he’ll make it. He pushes himself to run faster and faster, the last of his energy giving out. Oda crumples to the floor and Atsushi’s vision goes black.

Chapter Text

“..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.

“S-Sakura-”

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?”

“Yes?”

“Dazai… is that really you?”

“Yes.”

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.”

“About what?”

“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.”

“Atsushi-dono -”

“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.