Dazai was just minding his own business (or so he would claim) and avoiding the paperwork Kunikida was trying to force on him when he overheard Naomi gushing to Haruno about the night before, when she and Tanizaki had gone to the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse’s Christmas Market.
“It was so beautiful.” the black-haired secretary sighed happily in remembrance. “The tree was so tall, and there was so much to see! I wish we could have tasted the various types of alcohol they offered, but the seafood dishes were really good, at least.”
Dazai hummed thoughtfully as he flipped to the next page of The Complete Guide to Suicide, an idea forming as he tuned the teenager out, the girl having started gushing about her brother again.
A Christmas market with seafood and plenty of alcohol?
Well, it had been a while since he’d forced his presence on Chuuya, and the slug needed to relax every once in a while anyway.
“Okay, this isn’t so bad.” Chuuya admitted reluctantly, taking in the admittedly beautiful sight of the market, white and silver fairy lights surrounding them, the giant tree decorated with flashy ornaments, the scent of delicious food and mulled wine permeating the air—
“I told you.” Dazai stuck his tongue out, the expression far more animated than the usual one he gave Chuuya when he did that, this time actually looking playful instead of having an otherwise blank face. “We’ll even be able to slug down alcohol to our hearts’ content, if we want to!”
Since the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse’s Christmas Market was German-inspired, there would be plenty of alcohol to go around. Not that he was intending to get too drunk, of course, but it was always nice to know that he could.
Chuuya’s eyes lit up slightly at the idea before he paused, thinking back over his companions wording before his jaw dropped.
“Wait a minute!” he whirled on Dazai with a glare. “Slug down alcohol? Are you telling me that all this time that nickname wasn’t just meant to mock me about my height but also my drinking habits?!”
“Multi-tasking, Chuuya, is a very valuable skill.” Dazai grinned down at him, entirely unrepentant as he poked the shorter male on the nose, barely avoiding Chuuya’s teeth as the redhead tried to bite him.
“You bastard!” Chuuya huffed in annoyance, aiming a punch at Dazai’s gut.
“Oh come on, Chuuya~!” the detective pouted, evading the attack with an ease that spoke of the years of practice he’d had. “Would you rather try and hit me, or go grab some of that mulled wine they’re selling over there?”
“Don’t think I can’t do both.” Chuuya said with a sigh, though he dropped his arm anyway as his body relaxed a bit. “Stupid Mackerel. You’re paying.”
“Sure, sure.” Dazai agreed absentmindedly, already heading over to the vendor, who luckily wasn’t busy.
Chuuya followed with a roll of his eyes, and by the time he caught up to Dazai the brunette was already turning away from the booth with two mugs, one of which the he handed to him.
“Thanks, I guess.” The redhead muttered, taking a sip of the hot and spiced wine. When he opened his eyes (which he had closed in contentment without realizing), he brought the mug up a bit closer to his face, noticing that it wasn’t one of the normal glasses being handed out.
“They’re limited edition.” Dazai explained, glancing down at his own matching mug. “The seller told me this year’s design was inspired by the Christmas market in Nuremberg.”
Chuuya hummed thoughtfully, glancing over at the booth’s signage when Dazai was distracted tasting it for himself and noting that these mugs cost an extra 650 yen as opposed to the drinks that came in the standard glasses.
He’d been surprised enough that Dazai really had bought his drink for him, but for the man to have gotten him an actual souvenir to go with it, completely unprompted, was unexpected.
The redhead wondered if Dazai had managed to mooch money from one of his coworkers, or perhaps had pickpocketed someone earlier. Dazai being so willing to spend money would make a lot more sense if it wasn’t his money to spend in the first place.
“So what now?” he asked, deciding to let it go without mention, since Dazai himself hadn’t brought it up.
“Hm…” Dazai tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Well, there’s an ice rink here, if you want to skate, but of course we’d want to wait until we don’t have drinks in hand. We can shop, or just walk around. If you’re hungry, there’s a second food venue this year with a seafood and champagne theme.”
The brunette sucked his bottom lip into his mouth slightly, eyes brightening at the mention of seafood, hoping they would have some crab dishes.
“Seafood sounds fine, but let’s do that later.” Chuuya responded, doing his best not to stare at the other man’s mouth.
“Ooh, let’s go in there!” Dazai hooked his arm through Chuuya’s, pulling the shorter man in the direction of a nearby shop where various snow globes and ornaments were showing in the window display.
“Geez, slow down, Dazai!” the redhead grunted, mostly to try and distract from the way his face flushed.
“Okay.” Dazai agreed, probably just because they’d already made it to their destination.
The pair entered the shop, Dazai wrinkling his nose in disgust as he saw the matryoshka dolls on display and pulling Chuuya away from them. The redhead would’ve complained about that, but he figured the things probably reminded Dazai of Dostoevsky.
Meanwhile Dazai had gotten his hands on one of the snow globes and shook it, looking almost entranced as the fake snow swirled around, landing gently on the tiny model of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
The brunette didn’t buy it for himself despite looking like he wanted to, setting the object down as gently as he could before moving on to another part of the store, but Chuuya made a mental note to come back when Dazai wasn’t with him and pick one up.
Despite everything that had happened between them and after Dazai left the Port Mafia, Chuuya just wanted the other man to have something nice for once, because it had become all too clear over the years that the brunette wouldn’t try and get it for himself.
If something as simple and cheap (in comparison to the kind of money Chuuya was used to spending) as a 1500 yen snow globe was capable put that expression of wonder on Dazai’s face, then it would be money well spent.
Next they came across a large selection of Christmas tree ornaments imported from countries all around the world, and Chuuya would admit that it was pretty interesting to peruse the offerings.
He was surprised by how interested Dazai seemed, though perhaps he shouldn’t have been considering how the detective seemed to want to just enjoy this outing. His brown eyes glinted gold, reflecting a few surrounding candles as he carefully scanned the array of ornaments.
“Do you even have a Christmas tree?” the redhead asked curiously, trying not to think of how attractive (beautiful, his mind whispered traitorously) the other man looked.
“Mm, a small one, but I haven’t actually decorated it yet.” Dazai hummed. “Atsushi-kun suggested that I should try and find things to help remind me of the happier times in my life, and I figured I might as well.”
Chuuya swallowed, heart in his throat as he considered the implications of such a statement—evidence that Dazai was trying to find ways to make his life a little brighter, maybe someday bright enough to overcome the darkness he felt. as Dazai started selecting ornaments and he noticed a pattern.
After a few minutes of watching from the corner of his eyes as he selected a few for himself, the redhead noticed a pattern in Dazai’s selections, and when they were finished his hunch was proven correct.
Dazai had chosen an ornament from every country the two of them had visited together.
These ornaments meant to represent times where Dazai was happy, and he chose ones for memories the two of them shared, even after everything had gone to shit?
Damn it, Dazai.
Chuuya forced himself to look out the window, away from his former partner, and wondered if he had ever really stood a chance in being able to stay away.
Dazai blinked at the shelf covered in stuffed bears, taking note of the sign that said that hot water bottles could be inserted and wondering if he should pick one up for Kyouka.
He suspected that the girl had recently started her monthly cycle, so maybe such a toy could provide her a bit of relief from the cramps she seemed to have been getting? It was subtle, too, and he doubted anyone would think much of her carrying another stuffed animal with her, since she was still young and already carried her stuffed rabbit everywhere.
Decision made, he brought one of the toys to the front counter where Chuuya had just finished buying his own selections. Nodding a greeting to the cashier, Dazai reached into his pocket and took out his wallet, hearing a small gasp of surprise from Chuuya, before smoothly withdrawing the exact amount needed and handing it over.
“What was that about?” he asked the redhead as they were leaving.
“Nothing.” The mafioso shook his head slightly. “Just surprised to see you using your own wallet instead of someone else’s.”
“Ah.” Dazai nodded in understanding. “Ranpo-san told me that gifts mean more if you pay for them yourself. I told him that he didn’t have a leg to stand on, since he doesn’t bother getting anyone but Fukuzawa-san and Yosano-sensei anything for Christmas, but I figured it was probably still true.”
“Mhm.” Chuuya hummed, a thoughtful look in his eyes that Dazai for once wasn’t sure how to interpret. “Didn’t take you to be someone who would get a stuffed animal.”
“I’ll have you know—” the detective cut himself off, not mentioned the plush sheep Odasaku had gotten him for his seventeenth birthday when his best friend realized Dazai had feelings for the former King of the Sheep. Some would’ve sworn Odasaku had no sense of humor, considering his masterful poker face, but Dazai knew better.
He blinked, realizing for the first time that he had managed to think about his best friend without being drowned in a swarm of regret and pain, simply appreciating the memory for what it was, untainted by the tragedy that had followed.
Was this what healing felt like? Dazai wouldn’t know, but he hoped so.
“This is actually for Kyouka-chan.” He finished, hoping the redhead hadn’t noticed the pause but knowing he wasn’t that lucky.
“If you say so.” Chuuya said skeptically, though he knew Dazai well enough not to push to try and see why he had spaced out, which Dazai would always be grateful for.
“It is!” the detective stuck out his tongue. “And what did you buy, then, you judgmental mollusk?”
Chuuya looked at him weirdly.
“Okay, that wasn’t my best work.” Dazai admitted with a shrug. “They can’t all be gems.”
“None of them are.” The redhead muttered quietly, raising his voice to answer before the taller man could protest. “Just some hand cream for Ane-san and her girls. And Gin, but I’m not sure she’ll want it.”
“Gin-chan pretends to be male for safety reasons, not because she shies away from being feminine.” Dazai assured him. “She’ll like it.”
“What do you mean by safety reasons?” Chuuya asked uneasily.
Though, now that he thought about it…there was a reason Kouyou never let any of her girls join the Port Mafia directly, and he’d heard whispers that the boss was banned from her brothels.
Surely Dazai wasn’t implying what Chuuya thought he was?
“Er…” Dazai winced, looking put out that he’d accidentally brought up a topic that ruined the mood, instead choosing to point in a random direction instead of answering. “Look at that! We should go check it out!”
“Wha—Dazai Osamu, get back here, damnit!” Chuuya cried as he followed.
Dazai quickly glanced at a nearby map and saw that they were close to the ice rink, adjusting his trajectory so it seemed like he’d been heading that way all along.
“Come on, Chuuya, I want to channel my inner Viktor Nikiforov!” he called back at the quickly approaching redhead, almost skipping towards the shoe rental area.
“Your inner what?” the mafioso asked, taking the bait just as Dazai had known he would.
“Ah, Chuuya, I see I’m going to have to introduce you to the wonders of the anime Yuri On Ice.” Dazai sighed, feigning sadness, though really he was perfectly happy to find another excuse to spend time more with Chuuya.
“Yuri?” Chuuya blinked before his eyes widened. “Wait, isn’t that—”
“Another term for lesbian? Yes, but this is in a different context.” Dazai explained. “I mean, the two main characters are gay men—or at least bisexual or pansexual, I’m not sure, but it’s named that because one of the characters is named Yūri and another is named Yuri. Yuri and Viktor are both Russian, but they’re infinitely more tolerable than a certain rat, so the similarity can be excused.”
“So it’s not some weird hentai?” Chuuya asked warily.
“No, Chuuya, oh my god!” he laughed. “The most revealing thing they show is someone’s butt, though one of the secondary characters is pretty questionable.”
“How long is the show?” the redhead asked with a sigh, ignoring the other man’s laughter.
“12 episodes.” The detective answered.
“Hm…” the mafioso turned his head upwards. “I guess I could tolerate your lazy ass long enough to watch it with you.”
Dazai grinned widely, and Chuuya was struck by how genuinely excited he looked to share something he liked with another person, much less him.
“I’ll be holding you to that.” The brunette warned cheerfully. “The show ends around Christmas-time, too, so it’s the perfect time of year for it.”
“I’m sure.” Chuuya replied dryly. “So what did you mean earlier when you wanted to channel…what was the name you said?”
“Viktor Nikiforov.” Dazai repeated. “It’s an anime about figure skaters.”
Chuuya made a noise of understanding, accepting the pair of skates the girl manning the rental booth was handing him with a smile of thanks, Dazai having given her their shoe sizes when the redhead wasn’t paying attention.
The two men walked over to wear a few benches were set up, taking off their regular shoes and lacing up the rentals. Both of them had good balance, what with Chuuya’s Ability and Dazai’s penchant for balancing on things like railings and whatnot when he was bored, so despite the blade neither of them fell as they made their way to the ice.
That didn’t mean that it was as easy to get moving, however.
“Come on, Dazai, don’t you think you should let go of the railing?” Chuuya grinned, already confident enough on the skates to copy what he’d seen someone else do and start skating backwards, though he was perfectly aware of what was behind him.
“Oh, hush.” Dazai stuck his tongue out. “I’m not the kinesthetic genius, here.”
“Is that a genuine compliment I hear?” the redhead gasped teasingly, though he couldn’t hide the pleased look in his eyes at Dazai’s words.
“If you want to take it that way.” Dazai’s eyes widened as his foot slipped, only managing not to fall backwards because Chuuya jolted forward and grabbed him around the waist, easily keeping him in place.
Dazai’s cheeks pinked slightly at their position, swallowing as he stared up into Chuuya’s eyes, which were looking down at him in surprise and maybe something else, and was that a flush on the redhead’s cheeks, too?
No, he was probably just projecting.
There was no way Dazai would ever be lucky enough to have someone like Chuuya fall for him.
Chuuya blinked at the person clad in a Santa outfit in bewilderment, having no idea why he had just been handed a red rose. Was the guy trying to sell it to him, or was it meant to be free?
“Uh…” he said awkwardly.
The Santa-clad man leaned forward, whispering quietly so that none of the surrounding children would be able to hear him break character.
“Free of charge, dude.” The guy told him. “You’re supposed to give it to a loved one.”
Chuuya’s mouth formed an ‘o’ of understanding before he nodded in thanks, accepting the flower.
Well, rules were rules, and fortunately he knew just the person to give this to.
Dazai tried not to let it affect him, he really did, but who could blame him for losing his iron-clad control over his body after being given a rose by the love of his life?
He wondered which was redder: the flower, or his face.
Granted, the market’s website had mentioned something called ‘Black Santa’ where attendees might receive a gift that they weren’t meant to keep for themselves but instead give to a loved one, but surely Chuuya couldn’t have known that.
But if Chuuya didn’t just give him the flower because that’s how it was supposed to work in the first place, then it was even more confounding and heart-stopping, because he had just given Dazai a rose.
A red rose, because he couldn’t emphasize that enough.
There was absolutely no possible way Chuuya was unaware of the flower’s meaning, Dazai was certain, and yet the mafioso had given it to him anyway.
Were his feelings really not as one-sided as he had always assumed?
It sure looked that way, but Dazai couldn’t bring himself to make a move and find out for sure.
After all the pain he had caused Chuuya over the years, he didn’t feel as if he had the right to initiate something that had the potential to hurt him even more than he already had.
That being said, if Chuuya decided he wanted their relationship to become something more, there was absolutely no way in heaven or hell (not that he believed in either of them, and even if they were real he certainly wouldn’t be seeing the former) Dazai would turn him away.
“No thank you.” Chuuya declined the waiter’s offer of alcohol and instead ordering a glass of tea, trying and failing not to grin at the way Dazai’s jaw slackened slightly, the taller man’s equivalent to dropping his jaw in shock.
It was a subtle change, not exaggerated for Dazai’s own amusement, and the redhead reveled in being still being able to cause such reactions in the detective.
Dazai came out of his shock, blinking slowly as he leaned towards the window they were seated next to, glancing up at the sky curiously.
“Dazai, what are you doing?” the mafioso asked dryly.
“Checking for flying pigs.” The brunette answered immediately. “But it’s too dark to see them either way.”
Chuuya kicked the other’s shin lightly, earning a confused look this time since he usually would’ve put more strength behind the kick, and the brunette apparently didn’t understand why this time was different.
Had Dazai always been this dense and he hadn't noticed, or had he just gotten dumber over the years? He wasn't sure how the taller man was managing to make a living as a detective, of all things, if he hadn't even realized that Chuuya hadn't agreed to come with him just for the alcohol.
"I'm still intending to bring a few bottles home, but I'd rather stay sober right now." he said with a roll of his eyes.
Dazai gave him a bemused look, wondering why anyone would want to stay sober when they had to deal with him when they could get drunk instead. Even Odasaku and Ango (he ignored the bitter feeling at the thought of his traitorous once friend) had always spent time with him at Lupin's Bar, though he doubted that had anything to do with Odasaku's reasoning, at least.
"If you say so." he eventually said, skeptical, though he was glad he had also chosen something non-alcoholic.
"I do say so." Chuuya replied dryly before taking a hold of his menu and perusing it, Dazai mirroring the action as he scanned it hopefully for anything with crab.
He didn't notice Chuuya glancing up at him fondly every once in a while, the redhead enjoying the open excitement the brunette wasn't bothering to try and hide as he struggled to decide which of the crab dishes sounded best.
After about five minutes Dazai didn't seem to be any closer to making a decision.
"How many crab dishes are you even looking at, anyway?" Chuuya asked.
"Two." Dazai answered automatically, more focused on the menu than the question.
"Then just order one, and I'll get the other so you can try that one, too." the mafioso rolled his eyes.
Dazai's eyes widened, struck dumb by what felt like such an intimate suggestion.
"Are you sure?" he asked hesitantly. "I thought you didn't like crab."
"I don't dislike it, I just got tired of it because you tried to have it with every meal." Chuuya snorted. "I don't mind it every once in a while."
The detective tried not to curse, because he'd always thought that the redhead's only real flaw that actually mattered to him aside from the obsession with weird hats that covered his pretty red hair was that he didn't like Dazai's favorite food, and apparently that wasn't even the case.
"If you're willing." Dazai agreed with a smile. "If we still have room afterwards we can do that with the desserts, too."
"Sure." Chuuya grinned back at him, the sight making the brunette's heart pound almost painfully.
When their food came, it took all Dazai had not to actually moan at the flavor when he took his first bite, though he couldn't help the tiny sound that slipped out instead, bringing a hand up to cover his mouth in slight embarrassment.
"That good, huh?" Chuuya laughed as he scooped some of his own dish onto the fork he'd already taken a bite from and offered it to Dazai. "Here, try this."
Dazai, ears a bit pink, reached out to accept the spoon.
"Yum!" he said with a grin, licking his lips as he leaned back and this time offered some of his own dish to Chuuya, because if this indirect kiss was the closest he ever got to the redhead he would take advantage of it while he could.
The brunette instantly regretted it (kind of, sort of, okay not really) when, instead of taking a hold of the silverware, the redhead simply leaned in closer and ate the food while Dazai was still holding it out to him, looking up at Dazai innocently.
What the heck, Chuuya, Dazai thought to himself, panicking slightly as he tried not to react physically to the suggestive action. Did the redhead not realize what he looked like? Forget suicide, this is what would end up killing him.
Still, he couldn't complain too much. What a way to go.
Later that night, after Dazai had walked Chuuya home, the redhead brought up the question that had been nagging him since before they'd even gotten to the Christmas market.
"So, that was a date, right?" he asked bluntly.
Dazai tensed, slowly turning to face him. "That...depends on what your reaction would be."
Chuuya rolled his eyes, not sure why he had expected any other response.
"How's this, then?" he asked before grabbing Dazai's bolo tie and pulling the detective into a kiss, pouring all the complicated emotions he felt towards his idiot partner into it and reveling in the way Dazai did the same once he got over his surprise and started kissing him back just as passionately.
When they parted, Dazai looked down at him with a slightly dishevelled look, lips slightly swollen from the force Chuuya had used, which the redhead might have felt a bit bad about if not for how attractive it looked on him.
But the part that really caught his attention was the fact that Dazai was looking at him in wonder, as if he couldn't believe that that had just happened, as if all of his dreams had come true at once.
"You're such an idiot, you know that?" Chuuya said fondly, reaching up to cup the other man's cheek and brushing away a small tear with his thumb.
Dazai smiled, turning his head slightly to press a kiss into Chuuya's palm.
"But I'm your idiot." the brunette told him honestly.
He always had been Chuuya's, because as much as he'd teased the redhead about being his dog, it had always gone both ways.
"And I guess that makes me yours, too." the redhead's chuckle was cut off as Dazai pulled him into another kiss.