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Run, Melos!

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I.

Two strangers meet on the street. It is a chance meeting, and one that shall never occur again. Because--

"If you go, you'll die."

It is as if the world has been leading to this moment. As if there is no other possible outcome. 

"I know."

And so he goes. Because it must be done.

 

II.

"Hey, Odasaku, Ango! something interesting happened today!"

"You sound excited, Dazai."

"Indeed. It must have been something very interesting to put you in such a mood."

"Well it was! Did you hear about Takeda's capture?"

A sigh. "I did. I assisted with finding him, if you'll recall."

"Who's Takeda?"

"A traitor, Odasaku-san. He and two others were selling Port Mafia secrets to the Umeno-kai."

"Yup! They were rather clever about it, too."

"Oh? And they got caught?"

"Ah, they got away initially and two of them are still at large, but yes."

"That's the interesting thing! Torture and Interrogation couldn't break him, so they called me in. He and I had a… long conversation." A smile.

A wary look. "Dazai. What did you do?"

A grimace. "It's better not to ask, Odasaku-san."

"How rude! I'll have you know we did nothing but speak!"

A long drink. "That's not the word I'd use…"

"And the conversation? What did you talk about?"

"Ah, what else but death?"

""Death?""

"Bwuhahaha! What is with the look on your faces? Is that such an unusual thing?"

"I believe it is."

"But this is Dazai we're speaking of."

"Ah! Odasaku! You know me so well!"

A slow blink. "We've been friends for three years, Dazai."

"Indeed we have!"

A sigh. "I believe we've gotten off topic. You were saying something about Takeda?"

"Right you are, Ango! So, Takeda wasn't talking no matter what T&I did, so they called me in. And we had a conversation about death." A smile. "He's a rather stubborn man. Loyal too. A pity it wasn't towards to Port Mafia… Regardless, I was curious so I asked him why. He answered me--they always do--and his response was… different. Tell me, why do you think he betrayed the Port mafia?"

Glasses are adjusted. "Perhaps he was never loyal to the Port Mafia? Or maybe the Umeno-kai has black mail on him? Hostages or secrets he doesn't want anyone to know?"

"Bzz bzz. Wrong answer! Odasaku, care to have a go?"

A frown. "...he wanted to die, didn't he." 

"Ding ding! We have a winner! The Port Mafia killed his wife and unborn daughter during an operation two years ago. He's wanted to die ever since, but has never had the courage to kill himself. So when Sasaki came to him with the plan to sell information to the Umeno-kai, Takeda agreed in the hopes he would be caught and killed."

"Ah. I thought so."

"Odasaku-san, how did you guess?" A curious look.

"...I thought of what it would take for me to…"

"Odasaku-san?"

"Ango. Don't push him."

A frown. "Alright. I won't. What caught your eye about this, Dazai?"

"Ah, it was his method of suicide. He's been with T&I for some time now. He's in so much pain, and such poor condition now. Ane-san has trained her men well. And yet Takeda was content with this. With this drawn out, painful death."

"...I see."

"I hate pain. That's why I want a painless suicide! So it struck me as strange that a man would wish for this. Would be content with it. Would you ever be so content with such a painful death?"

 

III.

"ODASAKU!" 

 

IV.

A click of a button and the TV laughs loudly, a game show playing on screen. Chuuya cracks his neck and sighs. He flops down on the couch cushions and kicks his feet up on the coffee table. He takes a sip of wine from the glass in his hand. Savors it. Swallows.

Fuck, he's exhausted.

He lets the sound of the contestants making fools of themselves on screen wash over him and closes his eyes. Their laughter and banter blurs into a single body of sound. He relaxes his muscles, holds the wine glass loosely in hand, and just… exists. It's been three weeks since the last time he was here, he might as well take advantage of it--

Only that's when the doorbell rings. 

Chuuya clenches his teeth. He opens his eyes and glares at the ceiling. Why oh why did it have to be now? When he only just got home? When he's only just starting to relax? He swears, if it's Dazai here to fuck up his day the moment he finally gets home, he is going to strangle him.

He sets the wine on the table, stands with a groan, and makes his way to the door. He opens it. Snaps out a "What?" before even really looking at whoever was at the door.

Which is a mistake because-- "Chuuya, am I broken?"

Chuuya… has to take a moment to process that question. And the scene in front of him. Not that it's an entirely unfamiliar one, but.

But.

Dazai stands in front of him, covered in blood. It's on his suit jacket and on his hands and on his thighs. There are no tears in his clothes, so it must not be his blood. He looks like someone bleed out on him.

He looks like he's fresh from a mission or a job. 

Still. "What the fuck?"

Dazai wavers in front of him. His eye is wide and his expression is strange. Foreign. He reaches out with hands covered in dried blood and grips nothing but air. "Am I, Chuuya? Am I broken?" He asks and Dazai sounds almost desperate when he says this--

Abruptly, Chuuya realizes Dazai's hands are trembling.

This. Is not Dazai messing with him. Is not the latest trick in Dazai's attempts to fuck with Chuuya's head. This fact Chuuya knows with certainty. This is genuinely Dazai coming to him for help.

To him. For help.

Fuck. 

Fuck.

 

V.

“Mori-sensei? Am I broken?”

“I don’t know, Tsushima-kun. What is the definition of broken?”

 

VI.

He presses his hand to the wound and feels his breath catch in his throat as blood wells below his fingers and the body is warm but it's not breathing and it has to be breathing but it isn't and he doesn't know what to do because this couldn't be happening and it shouldn't be happening but it is and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

Someone makes a keening sound and it's drawn out and high pitched and a wretched thing and he doesn't know who made it but the only one alive among the corpses is him even when he shouldn't be alone here because Odasaku was supposed to be alive but wasn't and there was nothing he wanted more than to join him. 

He will never get attached again and feel something again and he has wanted for so long to feel something other than the numb that pervaded his every sense but now that he is he is drowning in it and he hates it and he swears he will never ever ever possess anything again.

Because anything he will never want to lose will always be lost.

 

VII.

"My best friend is dead," Dazai declares. This is the second time he has done so. Chuuya pushes on his shoulders and guides him onto the couch. Dazai sinks down onto the cushions, pliant as a doll. It eerie. Wrong. Dazai isn't supposed to be like this. He is never supposed to be like this. 

Dazai stares at his blood covered hands and goes quiet. He sits there and doesn't respond when Chuuya squeezes his shoulders under his hands. It's wrong. So terribly wrong. 

Chuuya hesitates for a moment. To leave Dazai alone right now is a bad idea, but he needs to get Dazai a change of clothes and more bandages, and something to clean off the blood too. No. Dazai has managed thus far, he can manage a moment longer.

The slightest of tugs, barely even a thought, is enough to make himself all but weightless. He goes to his closet, quickened by his own gravity, and roots through it for anything that might fit Dazai's larger frame. He eventually finds an oversized T-shirt he uses for sleep and deems that good enough until he can call Hitotsu and have him fetch something better. Then he makes a quick stop by the bathroom and picks up a hand towel, soaks it in hot water, and grabs the entire first aid kit under the sink. For the Tainted Sorrow makes carrying it all trivial as Chuuya makes his way back.

Dazai is scratching at his arms when he returns. The bandages usually on his forearms lie loose in his lap. His hands move in back and forth motions, entirely unconscious, that turn the skin red. Small beads of blood pool in the places where the skin breaks. This, Chuuya thinks with a grimace, will scar. 

Another to add to the collection.

Chuuya is gentle when he pulls Dazai's hands away from his forearms. Dazai trembles under his touch. 

"I'm going to get you out of those clothes. Tap me if I do something you don't want. Okay? Can you do that for me, Dazai?"

Dazai stares at him, wide eyed and far too quiet, but eventually nods. He is pliant as Chuuya gets him out of his suit and peels off blood stained bandages. 

Dazai has more scars than the first time Chuuya saw him without bandages on, back when they were fifteen and had no real idea how to deal with each other. There's a wide burn all across his back right shoulder from where he got caught in an explosion. A few more pockmark scars from bullet wounds and thin white lines from knife wounds. A surgical scar, too, from when Dazai had his appendix removed last year. There are more self harm scars too. Scratching scars and cutting scars. And now, on his right wrist, there is a matching vertical line to the one on his left.

There are, at least, no more words carved into him.

(Sometimes he thinks about it and has to go destroy something because if he doesn't he might just go to Dazai and shake him until he gets answers, until he can wreak the bloody vengeance of a wrathful god on whoever carved that goddamn word-- )

The handcloth is warm with the water, but Dazai still jumps and trembles every time Chuuya uses it to clean the blood off his skin. He never taps Chuuya though. Never voices complaint. Chuuya keeps up a low stream of nonsense as he works, asking questions he doesn't expect answers to and telling stories about his mission in St Petersburg. He speaks with the knowledge that Dazai probably won't remember much of any of this tomorrow.

When Dazai is clean of blood, Chuuya takes his hand and puts a roll of bandages into his palm. When Dazai does nothing but stare at it blankly, Chuuya helps him unroll it and wrap it around himself. His arms, his chest, his neck, his thighs, his eye. Chuuya takes extra care with his forearms, cleaning the scratches first before wrapping them too. Bit by bit, all of Dazai is covered. When all the bandages are on, he visibly relaxes. 

"Thank you." 

They are the first words he's spoken that aren't "Am I broken, Chuuya?" Or "My best friend is dead."

"You're welcome," Chuuya tells him and hands him the shirt. Dazai takes it without a word about the Yokohama Wine Fair logo on the front and slides it over his head. 

Then. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Dazai takes a deep breath, let's it out, and nods his head.

 

VIII.

"Odasaku was dead when I got there. He wasn't breathing, Chuuya."

Dazai's voice breaks. He looks haunted. Chuuya decides they're not drunk enough for this.

 

IX.

"An' ish like--who dosn' cry? When their besh frien' diesh? But I can' an' I don' know why an' I hate it, Chuuya. Hate it. Am I jush broken? Or am I jush a demon? Like they keep callin' me?" Dazai takes a long drink from his whisky and turns his gaze to Chuuya imploringly. Like he somehow held all the answers. 

Chuuya squints at him, mostly because it almost looks like there's two Dazai's on his couch and he wants that nightmare to go away, and then slings his arm over Dazai's shoulder. Or tries to. He misses it the first time, but manages on his second attempt. "You're…" he starts, and then has to pause because the world goes kinda funny and he doesn't feel like swimming in the floor. "You're noh' tha' fuckin' bad, or maybeh you are, since yer sure as shit a goddamn fuckin' mackerel eyed bastard, but you're my doggamn fuckin' mackerel eyed bastard. And was it matter if you're 'uman or nah? I'm a fuckin' God or sumthin' like tha'. Waz a demon compair' to tha? Huh? Huh?" And then the world goes funny again and they both crash to the floor.

They end up sort of tangled, with elbows and knees in awkward places. Chuuya tries to move away from the impromptu pile, only for Dazai to cling to him tightly.

"The fuck? Fuckin' why? Dazaaai. Le' go." Chuuya jams his elbow into Dazai's stomach. It doesn't make Dazai let go. It makes him cling tighter.

Chuuya furrows his brows and frowns. He twists in the hold, and Dazai still doesn't let go. "Dazai?"

Softly, like it is the greatest of secrets, Dazai whispers into Chuuya's hair. "I want to kill Mori."

...what? 

"Gide pulled the trigger, but Mori pointed the gun. Odasaku makes me feel human. Is Mori trying to make me no longer human?" Dazai bursts into giggles, but his grip grows even tighter. Chuuya tries to make sense of this, but--can't.

He takes a deep breath. He lets it out.

He forcefully shifts himself in Dazai's hold do he can speak directly in Dazai's ear. He whispers in a low voice, enunciating every word carefully. "If you kill Mori, I kill you."

The grip loosens. "Is that supposed to make me want to stop?"

"What do you think?"

Chuuya pictures it, for a moment. He pictures Dazai's still warm corpse at his feet, slit throat with Chuuya's knife, his life blood spreading on the floor. He imagines the feel of it, the smell of it, the sound of his last breath. He can see it, so very vividly, so very clearly--

"Ah," Dazai sighs. Chuuys can feel him smiling into Chuuya's hair  "Chuuya really is the worst."

After that, he says nothing at all.

 

X.

The next morning, Dazai walks into headquarters, looking all the world as if nothing is wrong.

Only Chuuya knows better, but he doesn't tell.