Many years before, Dazai had come to the conclusion that Chuuya was the human half of Double Black.
Ironic how the vessel of a God of chaos ended up being the empathic half of their partnership, but Dazai could definitely see the reason.
However, despite the fun (and truth) of calling Chuuya the short half of Soukoku — a nickname chibi was deliciously responsive for, like a ticking bomb is responsive to oil and flame — the former exec never bothered with how others might refer to his partner.
Sure, he’d heard people calling Chuuya ‘pretty Soukoku’ or ‘handsome half of Double Black’ before.
It happened solely because Dazai’s squandering chibi dog had way too much money and turned into a friendly Pomeranian every time he felt like drinking with a subordinate or two or twenty (all on the generous executive paycheck, of course, because Chuuya was a gentleman except with his partner) and that of course didn’t bother the former Demon Prodigy at all.
Either way, when he left the Mafia, Dazai somehow stopped caring.
Whatever Chuuya was called now, nice or handsome or short or heartbroken, Dazai had taken with him the ‘Double Black’ part after Odasaku’s death.
He’d never imagined he would hear those words again at a party in Ane-san’s garden.
“What about Nakahara-san?”
“Have you seen him? He’s even more handsome than usual, today.”
“Traditional clothes suit Nakahara-san so well; Mirai-san, you’ve been part of Nakahara-san’s squad for a long time, haven’t you?”
“Hm, yeah. You know, subordinates used to call him the fuckable half of Double Black.”
The comment came from a woman in a formal black kimono, who laughed and covered her scarlet-painted lips with the kimono’s long sleeve. Dazai’s hand run at his hip, realizing too late that there was nothing but air where there used to be a hostler. Some days, he hated being on the bloodless side.
Who the hell was that woman, with lipstick so tacky and shoulders so slumped that she should’ve been part of a lower gang rather than the respectable-looking Port Mafia, that she dared to speak so?
A few people in the small circle giggled, nodding. For a moment, Dazai saw red: the idea of anyone thinking about Chuuya that way, and with so little respect, made his hands itch.
“Wait a sec,” someone exhaled, catching the detective’s attention.
“Is Chiba-chan from the Black Lizard invited today? I know she looked up to Dazai-san.”
“Well, to be fair, he does look okay in that blue haori, I guess. Looks like a poet or something, don’t you think?”
"It's that motherfucking Agency, they polished Dazai-san to look as childish and stupid as they are," the woman said, igniting a little choir of agreements.
Dazai wondered who let that bōsōzoku bitch into the upper Port Mafia ranks.
He also wondered if anyone would notice if she somehow went missing.
“Dazai-san may be quite good-looking, sure, but it’s the demon prodigy we’re talking about," someone said.
The woman with painted lips shrugged the comment away.
“Cold as ice,” a man agreed.
Dazai vaguely remembered that stupid face and dyed hair from his last days in the Mafia, but to be honest there were a lot of stupid faces back then.
“Rumor has it Dazai-san didn’t even flinch when another executive died during the Dragon’s Head conflict, as long as a spot opened for him.”
"I remember that!” someone piped in, “the information came from Chuuya-san, so it must be true.”
Well, it sounded like Chuuya had some explaining to do.
“Anyway, now that the infamous rivals are back, I think we all can agree that Nakahara-san has upgraded to the marriageable half of Double Black.”
Dazai froze, gaping.
Subordinates were allowed a certain degree of thirst (honestly, it was Chuuya, he encouraged flirt without even noticing) but that was a whole new level of disrespect.
For the first time, the detective wondered just what people in his former squad used to talk about: he never cared about it, with the far more pressing business of making the organization thrive and finding ways to commit suicide, but hearing first-hand people gossiping behind the executives' back was a whole other matter.
“Ah, that's true!”
“Chuuya-san is so cool.”
“I'm sorry but, unlike Dazai-san, I can totally picture Nakahara-san making his spouse very happy,” someone sighed, “ah, I wish I were that person.”
So not only he was unlovable and inhuman and out of reach, even though those grunts killed for a living and worked in the filthiest organization in Yokohama, but Dazai was, apparently, so unpleasant that nobody would ever marry him.
Well, maybe they weren’t wrong.
- - -
Even if Ane-san's garden was huge, it didn’t take Dazai long to find Chuuya.
The executive was alone, leaning against the bamboo structure of one of the decorative bridges. It faded one of the largest ponds in the villa, a quiet surface of the deepest blue — the same of the executive’s eyes if they weren’t closed. Chuuya’s face was tilted up to meet the warm rays of the spring sun. Dazai’s lips twitched upwards at the sight, a familiar warmth spreading across his chest.
He’d hated the idea of a party to celebrate the success of Shin Soukoku and the newfound peace in Yokohama, but two things had convinced the detective to play along:
a) No Government spies, which meant a strict no-Ango policy. Nothing tasted better than expensive crab dishes and keeping that traitor out of the chessboard (even though, yes, technically Ango had rescued him a few times, but Dazai’s forgiveness wasn’t something easy to obtain).
b) Chuuya in traditional clothes looked like a celestial being. And not in a Corruption, I’m-The-Vessel-of-a-God-of-Chaos kind of way.
After that, the Agency and the Port Mafia had agreed that an official truce could be discussed after the tea ceremony but before the viewing of Ane-san’s spectacular cherry trees: a win-win situation that left Chuuya in a wonderful mood for a month.
Which would have been great if the absurd preparation of Ane-san hadn’t snatched Chuuya away from his
their penthouse for two days.
So that morning, when he and Kunikida arrived early to scan Ane-san’s garden for bugs and bombs, Chuuya was already there to help the house mistress with the finishing touches — which meant assisting Ane-san’s girls with the flower arrangements and babysit Elise, but Boss orders were somehow impossible to dodge.
Dazai had smirked in appreciation at the absence of Chuuya’s usual hat and mafia attire, replaced by the wine-colored silk and light embroidery of a kimono.
It had been torture not to greet the man with a peck on the lips as he would normally do, but as soon as Dazai moved in Chuuya’s direction — honestly, he was just going to point out that he’d shrunk overnight and pat him on the head — the executive‘s eyes narrowed in a silent warning. On clue, Dazai stayed next to Kunikida.
They had work to do on behalf of the Agency, after all, but the detective still spared some time to complain. He also commented about his expectation of seeing the mafioso in a female furisode; Chuuya flipped him off and Kunikida ended up dragging Dazai away by the collar, while Elise tugged Chuuya’s sleeve expectantly.
It had been fun, although Dazai looked for Chuuya even when he didn’t mean to.
The detective had even tapped in morse code ‘chibi looks hot in that outfit,’ and the executive had rolled his eyes so hard he’d probably seen Mars. However, Chuuya also blushed and mouthed ‘you don’t look too bad yourself, mackerel’ while Ane-san was distracted by Elise’s flower crowns. The child had given one to Kunikida, too, much to the man’s amazement and igniting an immediate request for adoption.
“Kunikida-san, I am deeply sorry, you can’t adopt Boss’ ability,” Chuuya had countered, with a tired frown.
“I wouldn’t mind getting away from that boring Rintarou,” Elise chirped, sticking up her little nose. “Chuuya-nii, here, a camellia’s crown. Can you try it on, plee-ee-ase?”
The scarlet petal complimented Chuuya’s auburn hair, enhancing the brown pattern on the man’s sleeves.
(God, Dazai was such a blessed man.)
(He might also have commented that the flowers suited Chuuya because he was a tiny chihuahua and they matched his new collar, ops, slip of the tongue, choker. Kunikida might have smacked him in the head with his Ideal journal, but Dazai regretted nothing.)
Fast forward a few hours and a lot more guests later, Dazai was trying to brush off Yumeno’s insisting requests to play murder — the little devil, Dazai had considered throwing them in the pond and hope for the best — when he’d stumbled upon the subordinates gossiping.
The marriageable half of double black, huh?
Watching Chuuya now, his petit figure hiding a strength most didn’t realize, his ginger hair turning a deep shade of auburn under the sun rays and oh-so-elegant in the Bordeaux kimono, Dazai told himself that he was nothing but the lucky half of Double Black.
- - -
“Do you love me?”
Dazai didn’t give Chuuya time to react, enveloping him in a hug from behind and resting his chin on the shorter man’s shoulder. His husband’s skin was warm and had the faint fragrance of sunlight and Azaleas in full bloom, courtesy of a day at Ane-san’s villa. Dazai felt the executive’s muscle tensing at the question. Luckily, Dazai’s oversize navy haori comfortably wrapped both of them in an embrace, building an invisible barrier between the couple and the rest of the garden.
“You’re clingy today,” Chuuya muttered.
The answer would’ve been fine any other day but, for some reason, the party made Dazai greedier. Or perhaps it was the truce and peace in Yokohama, filling his head with silly dreams of future.
“Just answer,” he asked, lips pressed against Chuuya’s shoulder, “please.”
“You know I love you.”
“Do I make Chuuya happy?”
“Most days,” the man compromised, with a quiet laugh when Dazai retaliated by squeezing him in his embrace, “when you’re not trying to be a little shit, but that’s nothing new. Is everything okay?”
Dazai bit his lips, humming.
The detective would have gladly gone as far as asking how much does chibi love me or why did you marry me, because he could still be an insecure idiot from time to time. He also already knew Chuuya’s answer.
If words weren’t enough, Chuuya’s affection came to him every day in unspoken gestures of kindness, heated kisses and occasional love songs when his chibi got shit-faced drunk after a stressful day. He reminded his husband he loved him in text and calls, especially when the mafioso was shipped on an executive mission abroad for a week or two (Dazai couldn’t function without him, but would rather die than admit it to Chuuya’s face). Damn, Dazai knew the executive loved him even from their fights.
There wasn’t a word to describe their bond when even fate didn’t seem quite enough to cover it: Chuuya’s love extended far beyond Dazai’s past betrayal to the mafia and present occasional reluctance to let him inside his mind, and that meant the world.
“Ane-san’s garden looks especially nice during this time of the year,” Chuuya offered, knowing Dazai had already spaced out.
“It’s just a garden. But chibi makes it nice.”
“I thought you liked traditional gardens, Osamu.”
The redhead’s voice was sharp now and, even from his angle, Dazai could capture the executive’s glare and mute accusation. He was acting difficult for no reason, according to Chuuya. Truth was, everything Dazai wanted to do was to melt in the way his name sounded on his husband’s lips.
But yes, he enjoyed traditional gardens and clothes as much as he liked gatherings with his colleagues… Usually. Now there were too many people around and half of them were mafia, and Chuuya looked like the only flower worth looking at. Dazai nuzzled closer.
“Never said I did.”
“Fine, fine. Frankly, the dying maple tree next to the gate is depressing, though I suspect no one has spotted the illness yet; remind Ane-san to call the gardener, though. And I’m not a fan of Akutagawa around flat stone bridges, either, I fear he’s going to push Atsushi-kun in a random pond, or that the Tiger might crave for a splash and take Rashomon down with him. I have no idea with Mori let Q attend, too, instead of keeping the little monster in a cage where they belong. Ah— yes, I almost forgot. Ane-san’s taste is lovely, but her girls haven’t put enough effort into placing the water basins and taking care of the Azaleas, they look messy.”
Chuuya barked a laugh.
“Well, aren’t you opinionated.”
“You asked for it,” Dazai answered, lips brushing softly against the collar of his husband’s kimono, “Also, I think this garden, in particular, is too crowded and that we should get out of here. Let's go home.”
“We can’t just both leave,” Chuuya pointed out.
At the frustrated shade in Chuuya’s voice, Dazai’s heart fluttered in his chest. Still, all the detective allowed himself was a childish pout.
“You know we can’t, mackerel. Boss will get suspicious and your horrible detective friend is going to notice.”
“Ranpo-san probably deducted our postcode the day we talked about maybe getting a house.”
“True. Still, we can’t leave.”
“Oh, such a torture. Stuck with a ravishingly looking chibi in a garden full of people we work with. Woe is me, caged in this hideous life~”
“I’m gonna throw you in the pond and pretend we were fighting,” Chuuya said, unabashed by the antics and running a lazy hand through his husband’s hair.
Dazai nodded, suppressing a smile.
“Really, is that all? No shitty remarks? Oi, Dazai, are you injured or something?”
“Hm, I can try if my darling prince insists...” Dazai hummed, his voice trailing off as he pressed his nose against the shorter man’s shoulder, “chibi is so short my neck hurts.”
“Then fucking move. I thought we agreed on keeping this a secret.”
Even as a teenager, the demon prodigy was cold as ice.
He used to be, yes. It was also true that he didn’t care much for who lived and who died, himself included, until he’d tainted his own hands with Odasaku’s warm blood.
But the mafia and the Agency had agreed on a truce and the garden was wide enough to hide them from prying eyes, except that Dazai didn’t want to hide. The man had his fair share of lurking in the shadows during the two years when he flew under the Mafia’s radar, and experience told him he liked the light much better — not only as a line of work, but as a way of life.
Surprisingly, with Atsushi and Kunikida and the Agency by his side, Dazai had come to think there were some things worth living for. Chuuya had been the first to ignite that process when they were fifteen, and the one who finally secured it into place by showering Dazai with affection (in his adorable tsundere way, of course), so their marriage deserved all the light in the world.
It was nothing short of amazing, to Dazai, that he was allowed to hug and kiss the executive. That domesticity made a suicide maniac want to live forever, most days. Realistically, part of Dazai was still cold and numb and damaged but, in that garden, the detective allowed himself to experience peace for at least a few moments.
“Oi, Osamu? Are you okay?”
“I love you, Chuuya. I am really, really thankful for having you back in my life despite everything I did to you,” he blurted, before his brain could shut his heart. It felt good not to think for once, just hearing Chuuya sucking in a deep, shocked breath.
“I’m not going anywhere, mackerel.”
“Neither are you, or I’ll make sure your life is long and boring and filled with pain,” Chuuya hissed.
Dazai laughed quietly, tilting his head.
“I told you I would never leave again, and that’s a promise I intend to keep. Just—I was thinking that we should tell them.”
Chuuya tensed underneath his fingers.
With a snicker, and silently blessing Chuuya for always wearing his heart on his sleeve and being so terribly entertaining, Dazai added:
“Not today, of course, but once the truce is well-established. I wouldn’t mind letting everyone know chibi is mine.”
At those words Chuuya spun in Dazai’s loose grip, his back now pressed against the bamboo parapet. A gloved hand delicately raised to cup the detective’s face.
Silently, Chuuya squinted in search of any sign of lie or machination; the water reflected a green shade in the executive’s eyes, making them look like they were composed of droplets and shreds of pure light, and Dazai had to force himself to lick his dry lips and focus.
Chuuya’s thumb traced the line of Dazai’s cheekbone.
“Would you really be ok with that?” he asked, surprise dripping from every word.
Marrying someone who was officially a traitor wasn’t doing Chuuya’s position any favor, but the mafioso understood the situation: in the end, it was the Agency that would end up compromised.
Criminals never lost anything in that kind of negotiation, but people were eventually bound to wonder just how many eyes Dazai had closed regarding his husband’s crimes. One might even wonder if his relationship with Chuuya would, sooner or later, drag the Demon Prodigy back to the Mafia, or lead to a betrayal — not that Dazai had any intention to turn his back on the Agency, but Ango had been painfully clear regarding the stain on the former executive’s reputation, never erased even if his crimes were pardoned.
Also, Dazai had a hunch he wasn’t going to enjoy prison life without the company of a certain rat, so he would rather stay out and free, even if that meant doing a shitton of paperwork for Kunikida.
“I would be, eventually, if we’re doing this together.”
“We’ll always act together, we’re partners,” Chuuya promised, bringing a smile to Dazai’s lips.
“I’m afraid it could hurt you, that’s all. How would your President react?”
“Frankly, I’m more worried about the Special Division. Even if Fukuzawa-dono might understand, the government is not going to make things easy.”
“It’s— understandable,” Chuuya allowed, with a sigh.
“Though I’m sure Ango-kun would do his best.”
Or he better try, the fucking traitor.
“It’s not Doc Glasses I’m concerned about,” the executive said, his nose twisting oh-so-delicately, “Is this worth it? We’re fine. You don’t need to risk.”
Risk your job, your whole work with Shin Soukoku, your friends, your integrity: Dazai could hear all of those things in the silence that Chuuya left lingering between them. Instead, he just shook his head and smiled a quiet, reassuring smile.
“I’ve risked against Fyodor and it paid off,” he whispered, adjusting his arms around the man’s hips. They were leaning into each other, Dazai bent so his forehead almost brushed against Chuuya’s. Even a murmur was enough, “You risk your life with Corruption every time and still believe in me. We both learned to live with risk, at this point.”
“I suppose we did.”
“Wouldn’t it be nice not to hide? Next year, we could be watching Ane-san’s cherry blossoms together. I would rest my head on Chuuya’s lap, and I promise not to complain about that ugly hat if chibi will read me one of his poems. And we could sneak out whenever we want and—”
There were a million things he wanted to say, millions of mental images of him and Chuuya together in the light of day without figuring out ways to keep their organizations out of their private lives, but Chuuya cut him short with a quick kiss, raising on his tiptoes to reach the detective. Normally, Dazai would have commented on that, but an expression of pure adoration had turned the executive’s usual grin into the cutest smile, forming a lump in the Dazai’s throat.
He hugged Chuuya a little closer, fondly, enveloping his frame tighter into the soft embrace of his haori.
Despite everything people might say behind their backs, Dazai was happy and wished to be even happier in the future.
One year from that day, hopefully, there wouldn’t be any reason to lie anymore. It seemed like an eternity, but timing had never been their partnership’s forte.
“Damn it, you’re so sappy,” Chuuya laughed.
“Only occasionally and in particularly ugly gardens. So, what do you say, chibi?”
“I guess,” he whispered against Dazai’s lips, “let’s tell those fuckers.”