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leading the way home

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chapter one.

He wants to die.

Cheerfully and painlessly, preferably, but at this desperate point, he’s starting to see the merits of not being picky.

He still very much prefers a comfortable way to go, because he despises pain. The Complete Manual to Suicide offers a wealth of suggestions, but some of it make his nose curl with disgust at the possibility of melting his organs while he’s still breathing. He’s all for the possibility of corroding his insides until there’s no hope of recovery, but he’d rather it happen while he’s already in death’s embrace.

To that end, mixing medication for hypertension and hypotension—a yin-yang bomb that should wreak havoc on his circulatory system—is something that he’s found interest in. Of course, ever since Mori-san has gotten wind of his intention of nicking medicines from his stash and experimenting on the proper lethal dosage, the impersonal treasure trove of pharmaceutical supplies has been locked away and warded off from his access.

…Not that it’s that much of a problem for someone of his caliber. He’s the one who’s built the reinforced security system and he’s the one who’s implemented the locks on the Port Mafia’s vaults. More than that, even if it’s been built by someone else, it’s not like it’s a hardship for his genius mind to calculate the proper workarounds. It’s just too much work, and it’s not like there aren’t any other means to die.

He makes his way past the towering, cavernous hallways of the headquarters. The top floors have their corridors lined in tiles that make the click of even the lowest of heels broadcasted to everyone. Dazai’s footsteps ring like the echo of funeral bells, his long coat swishing with each step and the line of his shoulders remaining steadfast like a scythe that slices into the swathe of muddy shadows.

All of the Port Mafia members that he passes by bend at their waists in his presence, their show of submission born out of a healthy mix of trepidation, respect and outright fear. Most of them fear him because he represents the unknown for them—not even fully past his teenage years and already commanding the guerilla squad as the youngest Executive in Port Mafia’s history. Some of them fear him because they know the story behind his rise to power—the useful, immortal pawn that had reached the other end of the chessboard and had secured victory that ended the long Ability War.

They all look at him, in his monochromatic pallor coupled with blood-eyes and blood-lips, and think: monster.

He does not care for their judgmental whispers, because it is the truth.

He’s considered a heretic in all senses of the word.

He’s someone with an Ability, rather appropriately named No Longer Human, even if it’s the sort of Ability that does not gain meaning in the absence of another. A means of denying another person’s Ability, nullifying it and reducing them to a normal human, if only for the duration of their encounter with him.

He’s someone who, to the great joy of the researchers who’ve worked on him, has managed to be successfully infected with vampirism, something that should have been exclusive for the Great Old Ones.

He’s a terrifying mix of two things that shouldn’t coexist.

He doesn’t care for that, not really.

He doesn’t care for anything at all, not really.

He simply wants to die, that’s all.

Nighttime is where the underworld is at full swing, the corridors emptying of those who work in the charade of the above-board Mori Corporation, and replacing it with the employees who work when the lights are snuffed out, swallowed by the night.

Thanks to the combination of his position and the general aura that he emits on a regular basis, nobody dares to question him on his plans or whereabouts. It grants him a smooth exit from the Port Mafia Headquarters, all lined up by, stiff “Dazai-san”s and even stiffer bows.

He waves off Hirotsu-san’s tentative question about which chauffeur he’d like to drive him to his unknown destination, opting for public transport so he can get lost in the swell of other commuters all making their way back to the comfort of their homes.

It’s a short, brisk walk to the nearest station, his formal outfit echoed by the hundreds of exhausted salarymen with their heads bowed down to their personal space and their phones. Minding one’s own business is one of the unspoken mottos of this country, and nobody pays attention to the fact that there’s someone playacting—at being a working adult, at being a human being—in their midst.

Yokohama Station is crowded, as expected, and he keeps his head bowed down along with everyone else, as he waits for his train.

It’s been years since he’d been promised by Mori-san a comfortable way to die and he’s pretty sure that it’s not something that’s ever going to happen in his lifetime. Especially not now, when he’s already a vampire that has the ability to stitch his body together through any and all injury. With immortality forcibly pulsing inside his veins, he wants to die more than ever. It opposes Mori-san’s plans, certainly.

Hopefully the crowd surrounding him buys him a few extra moments of anonymity, once Mori-san realizes that he’s planning to expand his search for a means to die past the city limits.

He falls into the queue of people taking the line to Atami, following the instructions overhead. He briefly considers the idea of simply jumping into the tracks as the train arrives, but there’s bound to be that searing flash of pain upon impact. There’s no guarantee it will be a fatal blow and as long as one part of him survives, the vampirism inside him will hunger for the energy it can get from sucking the blood of others, to fuel his own regeneration. A crowded station is sure to supply him with a lot of blood, which means he’ll end up recovering, which means it’s a terrible plan.

He fantasizes about it, nevertheless.

After spending exactly 5.8 seconds deliberating over it, he discards the idea and moves on to checking out online reviews of hot springs in Atami. It’s all for the purposes of whoever will review the surveillance, as well as anyone struck by nosiness to look over his shoulder. He has no plans in taking a relaxing soak—he plans to go straight to Mount Fuji and trek to the forest behind it.

The train arrives and he shuffles forward, experiencing for a brief moment being a part of the wave of humanity. It’s all a farce, of course, and he spends the 50-minute ride cycling between different game apps on his phone. Once the intercom makes the announcement for Kozu Station, he squares his shoulders and pockets his hands, schooling his face to something appropriately bone-weary and apathetic, instead of the tiniest bit of excitement at the thought of this finally being the night he dies.

He buys a dinner of onigiri with crab filling, plus a bottle of chamomile tea on the vending machines, before transferring to another train. Another hour passes, which he wastes away with one hand picking the sticky rice grains piece by piece and another setting up proxies on his phone to scramble his own signal to make it near-impossible for his location to be tracked.

He alights the train at Gotemba Station, finds the empty queue for the climbing mountain since it’s rather late for their usual schedule. It’s something that he’s planned for, anyway—and moves to the queue for the cabs.

He’s travelling light. A mobile phone, a compass, The Complete Manual to Suicide, a near-empty matchbox, a tiny flashlight, a gun loaded with six bullets: all tucked inside his coat. In one of his hands, the bottle of now-lukewarm tea, half-empty. In his pants’ pockets, his wallet filled to bursting with laundered cash enough to make any cab driver look the other way when he gives his destination.

Aokigahara Forest.

The book in his pocket claims it to be ‘the perfect place to die’. It certainly does not lack anecdotes or lore surrounding it—called by monikers such as the ‘Sea of Trees’ and ‘Suicide Forest’. There isn’t a shortage of claims that it’s filled with various dark spirits, of ghosts and demons alike.

It’s something worth trying, he supposes.

If all else fails, he can pick a nice, quiet spot there, the area big and remote enough that even if the fully-loaded gun doesn’t manage to kill him thoroughly, the vampiric ability inside him wouldn’t be able to get enough blood for him to regenerate and come back to life.

It’s the perfect plan, he supposes.

The cab driver shivers in fright at the sight of his slow smile, but he does not care for that, opting to spend the rest of the ride with his gaze turned upwards, to observe the sea of stars above.

There’s a heavy blanket of silence, the moment he arrives. Not even the panicky hustle of the cab’s engine as it roars away is able to disturb it, the sense of isolation. A dense cluster of trees huddle together, forming a halo of darkness that calls out to him.

He answers the call without hesitation.

The flashlight in his hands has a four-hour charge, something that he’s decided to be his guide as he wanders deeper into the forest. Four hours to choose the best destination for his corpse. He’s heard that there are caves here that can get filled with ice during the winter months—he’s both intrigued and appalled by the idea of his corpse being suspended in time in that manner. The idea of the sea of stars being the last thing he sees is quite lovely, but given the height of the trees and the way that the treetops are clustered together like interlocked vines suffocating each other, it is not a viable idea.

The forest floor absorbs the sound of his footsteps, and the silence settles deep into his bones.

Even before his parents have put him forward for the human experiments of fusing an Ability User with a vampire, his mind has already been filled with the noise of a brain working without rest. The greedy clamoring for blood worsens it, but there’s something about this place that seemingly keeps the ticking gears of his mind seem like a countdown instead of the dizzying tick-tock that it usually is.

He’s heard about this, the sense of solitude this forest gives, but it’s one thing to experience it himself.

One more thing that he’s heard about—

He picks up the compass from his coat and crouches down to place it on the forest floor. He watches with fascination, the way the needle spins in confusion, unable to discern the proper direction, before finally settling on something that Dazai is sure to not be the actual north. He’s heard about the forest floor being made of rocks with natural magnetism; seeing it before his eyes is quite interesting indeed.

He stretches back up and raises the compass on proper height, and watches it spin to point north properly.

Of course, he can’t quite check it, because there’s mostly darkness overhead and he can’t check the location of the North Star to confirm.

It doesn’t really matter, in the end.

He’s become rather accustomed to existing without proper direction, like he’s merely engulfed by an oxidizing dream that just won’t end, no matter how many times he’s tried.

Unable to understand any value in the act of living, he simply did not resist when he’d been made as the shield during the Ability War, his hands able to nullify any and all Abilities, providing a battlefield that does not offer advantages to one side or the other. Unable to understand any point to living when it only brings pain, he simply did not care when he’d been subjected to an unorthodox experiment of fusing an Ability User with vampirism. Unable to understand the allure of living when he’s all but forced to it, he simply did not distinguish between the orders that have been handed down to him by Mori-san, staining his hands with more and more blood until he couldn’t quite remember if he ever looked remotely human.

The only thing that’s remained constant with him is his desire to sleep the rest of the truly dead.

Everything else is muted in the face of that.

Observing life-and-death up-close, nestling into the warmth of another’s body, dragging out the warmth from a person’s body with one well-timed stab—it’s all the same fog to him.

And so, he wanders deeper into the forest, and feels the tiny, feeble bits of humanity he has left in him be left behind with each footstep, swallowed into the eerie darkness.

His flashlight starts to flicker as his strength starts to flag down. He’s never been the most athletic and not even vampirism is able to cure that. His heart starts to pound rougher inside his ribs—he hasn’t decided whether that’s due to renewed enthusiasm about finding a good dying place or simply due to exertion.

He frowns.

…Or, due to something else entirely.

There is still the heavy sense of solitude blanketing his shoulders, but it’s almost as if it’s being peeled back bit by bit. The skies above are still blocked from his view by the cluster of trees, but there’s something sentient and overwhelming nearby, he feels. His instincts have always been top-notch, so he supposes that there’s nothing shocking about being proven right.

Still, he is surprised, the moment the air whistles sharply with a burst of movement.

He barely has the opportunity to turn around and face whatever’s coming for him, because there’s a flash of heat and a sudden weight cannonballing into his back.

His mouth opens in a punched-out gasp, his feet trying and failing to find purchase on the forest floor. He skids backwards, gracelessly floundering, as his breath ricochets inside his ribs, before getting stomped out by one heavy, tiny, foot.

His back finds itself embedded against something that feels like a tree trunk, and he must have been thrown rather far away, because the place where he’s landed has thinner treetops compared to before. The crowns of the trees part slightly to provide a starlit halo for the creature who’s unceremoniously kicked him across the forest, providing a crown of stars for the imperious presence of the other person.

Dazai squints and feels blood seep into the bandage over his right eye.

Through the reddish haze, he sees hair tussled like wind fanning fire into wicked flames, framing a face that possesses a pair of blue eyes that seem to have swallowed both the skies and the seas in them.

The other creature is also barely wearing anything, aside from a strange smattering of fur on the weirdest of places, as though he’s simply wrestled with a wolf and wore its skin in the aftermath. Really strange, because the fur gloves over the other’s hands seem very thick, while he has apparently decided that covering his groin isn’t that much of a priority.

“Eyes up here, asshole,” the creature growls, Japanese words stripped of their usual polite veneer and left with something that sounds beastly, for lack of a better word. “The fuck is a brat like you doing here?”

His heart gives out one stuttered pound against his ribs. He’s never been called a brat or a kid ever since he can remember. It is rather refreshing—refreshingly irritating—to be addressed as one, even as he wears immortality and a lifetime of weariness over himself as a cloak.

Dazai sighs, even as his mind stretches between an overdrive blaze and a stuttering halt. “This is quite a violent welcome. I hate pain, you know?”

“Do I look like I care?” The creature digs his toes against his solar plexus. “I won’t ask again. The fuck are you doing here, sniffing around this place?”

This place is rumored to be infested with ghosts and demons. Feral beasts wearing a human’s skin—that’s not something he’s heard. Perhaps it’s a fallacy to consider this creature in front of him a ‘human’, despite the human words and human-looking body. He looks so unlike anything Dazai has ever seen, and he has seen a lot. This one looks otherworldly, as though there’s a fire inside him that’s making him glow amidst the eerie forest.

…He also looks rather tiny.

“You look like a chibi who could use more milk,” is what he ends up blurting out, thrilled when his words register on the other’s face in an ugly, offended expression.

“A chibi—!” The creature splutters and takes his foot off briefly. Dazai takes this chance to roll away and open some distance between them, but the creature’s tiny, tiny foot reunites with his stomach easily and kicks him again. “How dare you say something like that, I’m still growing, damn it!”

…What a child, getting easily distracted.

Dazai sighs again and throws the compass at the creature’s face.

The creature catches it between his teeth.

He is grudgingly impressed. So he sulks out a, “Wow, so you’re a beast, huh? Even if you eat that, you won’t grow tall, you see?”

“I’m not eating it!”

“Could have fooled me,” Dazai says dryly. His mind is still running over several possibilities, and he is very unwilling to go with the most plausible explanation—that he’s found himself face-to-face with one of the rumored demons. Surely, demons would look more intimidating and taller than this?

The creature then huffs and examines the compass as one would a prized artifact. He looks like he recognizes it, so he’s not completely cut-off from the world; he also looks at it with wonder, as though he hasn’t seen one in ages. Alternatively, he could just be a strange idiot.

“I’ve sensed you for hours now,” the creature says with a curl on his lip. “If you have this, then why the hell are you still circling this place? Don’t you know this place is dangerous? The god of catastrophe lives here, you know!”

He blinks.

God of catastrophe?

That’s… new. He hasn’t encountered that during his research on this area.

Then again, it doesn’t really matter.

“I like danger,” he says with a shrug.

The creature looks confused. “I thought you said you hate pain?”

The fact that this creature pays attention to his words is unexpected. Something like hunger threads into his awareness. He ignores it and goes for an airy, “There can be dangerous things without pain.”

“…I don’t get it.”

“Mm, I don’t think you can, given that you look too small for a working brain.”

Blue eyes suddenly burn bright with fury. “I’m gonna fucking kill you for that, bastard!”

“Oh, that would be great,” Dazai simpers, clapping his hands together and relishing in the look of confusion returning full-force on the other’s face. “A cheerful, painless death would be the best!”

“…So you’re just a suicidal brat.”

The creature sounds oddly disappointed.

Dazai smiles with the edge of a gleaming knife. “I do not see the point in living. Do you?”

Above them, the stars burn bright at the edges of their blankets of solitude, peeling them away bit by bit.

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end of chapter one: procyon.
—amidst the ashes of destruction, rises a new beginning;

Chapter Text

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chapter two.

Chuuya—Chuuya—Chuuya—ChuuyaChuuyaChuuyaCHUUYA—!

Insistent repetition of his name breaks through his consciousness, just as he’s been attempting meditation. There is no concept of time, of weeks-and-months, of day-and-night in this place, existing only in terms of sea of trees, sea of stars and sea of darkness. And yet, he’s pretty sure that shitty Dazai has somehow managed to wrestle back measurements of time here, for he always manages—through sorcery or some other bullshit—to interrupt Chuuya whenever he’s resting or meditating or generally not in the mood to be involved in bullshit.

Well. He never is in the mood for it, which is why it’s extra annoying whenever Dazai calls out to him.

Extra annoying, because he can’t quite ignore the call.

It’s almost as if every part of his body thrums with it, the pull reverberating through the earth, the air, the sky. More than that, there’s the little matter of it being entirely too long since he’s experienced the call from anyone or anything. It’s mostly due to his own decision to go here for a self-imposed exile, but it’s been something that’s bound to happen as time passes by.

Humans exist in the world outside here, and they move with the passage of time. As months roll into years into centuries, humans have forgotten the names of the gods and old ones that have once roamed the earth along with them. As time goes by and humans populate every area of the world, the population of those who have been gifted with Abilities increase, and they need to call for gods even less.

So, it isn’t all that surprising, that he finds Dazai’s call for his name irresistible.

It’s just part of his nature.

That’s all there is to it.

“Why are you stalking me, chibi?” Dazai blinks up at him, looking so much like an owl. An owl with bloodied, trussed up feathers—the other’s overcoat has acquired more mud and leaves compared to the last time they’ve met. There’s a greenish tinge on the edges of his lips, on the slightly raised veins on his hands. “Following me around won’t let you grow any taller, you know?”

“I am not stalking you,” Chuuya says with a click of his tongue, because the two of them have had this exchange one too many times for his continued sanity. A part of him protests that humans should be thankful that they’re in the presence of a god, that a god taking the trouble to keep an eye on a human should be considered as a high honor. Not that he is stalking Dazai, because he is not. Really. “I keep on telling you—stop calling for me, damn it! I was busy!”

“I didn’t call for you though,” Dazai always replies. “I don’t even know your name, shorty.”

“Lies,” Chuuya immediately retorts. It’s impossible that Dazai doesn’t know his name. He knows his name, the knowledge of it as sure as the map of the stars above that have been there ever since he’s awakened.

Heavy sarcasm coats his next words. “Mm, this is truly riveting conversation.”

He shoots him a withering glare, pointedly dragging his gaze on the assortment of weeds and poisonous mushrooms by the other’s slumped form. “Go the hell away and leave already, bastard. You’re just destroying the plants here.”

“Mushrooms aren’t plants, chibi, they’re fungi.”

“Shut up, dumbass.”

Still, despite their words, Chuuya moves to sit on the treetop opposite the trunk where Dazai is slumped. He closes his eyes, listening for the whispers of the quiet forest, for the quiet heartbeat inside the brittle ribs of one brittle man.

He doesn’t leave until he’s sure that the imminent destruction of the other’s life has been snuffed to a slow simmer, the poison circulating in his veins processed out by his body.

…Of course, it’s impossible for it to happen quickly through purely natural means.

Dazai’s body smells like the magnetism of the rocks on the forest floor, like the slumbering magma underneath the soil, like the brightness of the stars that watch over humanity since the beginning of time. There’s the scent of emotions that he’s only ever smelled on humans—the fear of pain and the desire for happiness. There’s red blood, blue veins and a solid heart, all the things that compose a human being. There’s power that thrums underneath the network of skin, and a dark hunger that lurks underneath it all. A capacity for destruction.

It reminds Chuuya of his own condition, a little bit.

When Dazai’s breathing starts flowing in a manner that suggests actual sleep instead of the faked unconsciousness from earlier, Chuuya jumps down and touches the other’s mouth.

It’s warm and red like a normal human’s. He hums and pulls away the toxins from the other’s system, drags the destruction away from the other’s body and swallows it into his own. The beast inside him opens its mouth—in a yawn, in a half-hearted attempt to devour Dazai entirely—and doesn’t fully wake.

It’s only because he does not want to deal with the smell of the other’s rotting corpse, not when he’s supposed to be meditating. It’s only because the destruction in the other calls out to his own hunger. It’s only because of a whim.

That’s all there is to it.

During the times that he doesn’t hear the insistent, whiny repetitions of his name ringing inside him, Chuuya busies himself with a number of things. After all, it’s not like his life revolves around that dumbass who continues to test his patience by flaunting his attempts at self-destruction around this space that he’s occupied for a long time.

Aokigahara Forest is cool, with all of the trees clustered as though to keep all the elements away. It’s still much warmer compared to the first place where he’s awakened, and he’s grown rather used to this place.

As such, he’s also grown rather used to staying in the periphery of any human who enters the place. There had been a time when there’s been a swell of them: the frail bones of the elderly, the hungry stomachs of the young, the bleak eyes of the hopeless. Destruction covered the entire country then, but it’s not the natural catastrophes that he’s used to. It’s the violence of humans who fight against humans, not calling for help or direction from the gods, but are content to rain iron upon each other.

There isn’t as many of them in recent years, of humans who come here to die.

Chuuya hopes that a part of his efforts are bearing fruit: of attempting to push back out the humans who come here, of scaring them away by lurking around as sketchily as possible. The ones who are resolute in their decisions are swallowed up by the forest, so it’s still not a perfect method, and Chuuya lingers around their bodies and absorbs the knowledge about the outside world from the parts that haven’t been swallowed by the shadows.

…A part of him still wonders, even now.

The moment that he’s felt Dazai enter this space—

—the urge to meet him had been impossible to ignore.

He’d usually simply pull them out of the forest using the force of gravity. But when it was Dazai’s turn to enter this place, the beast inside him yearned to destroy him, to crush him, to meet him, to see him.

A human body holding an Ability and an Old One’s Ability at the same time.

Chuuya didn’t think that he’d ever see an Old One ever again, since they’ve basically gone to seclusion, in hopes of keeping their lines pure and untainted by beings they considered lesser to them. In his opinion they merely afraid that humans are growing stronger and stronger still, with their own Abilities.

In any case—he didn’t think it was possible for someone to hold both an Ability and an Old One’s Ability at the same time. It was uncomfortably close to his own situation and the beast inside him both yearned to see someone so similar and to crush someone so similar.

…It definitely doesn’t help that talk about abilities aside, Dazai himself makes him feel both fascinated and annoyed beyond belief.

And so, he attacked him.

A part of him wondered if Dazai went to Aokigahara to slay the god of catastrophe, to destroy him. If his whereabouts have been uncovered, even as he’s spent a long time wandering from cracking the land upon cold north, to boiling the seas of the warm south. If he’s somehow going to be judged for the calamities he has raised upon this world, if the place where he’s exiled himself in an attempt to curtail the destruction he’s caused is going to be taken away from him.

But no, Dazai’s simply here because he wants to die, a concept that he cannot fathom, not entirely.

“I do not see the point in living. Do you?”

He does not know if his answers—that there’s the blaze of stars above, that there’s a lake filled with green moss and blue water, that there’s the soft leaves of the treetops—are ones that Dazai can understand.

Someone who’s like him is so different from him.

He doesn’t understand.

But somehow, against common sense, he thinks he really wants to.

Chuuya is in the middle of carefully repotting where poisonous mushrooms grow—moving to bunch them in places close to each other and rather far away from a certain someone’s reach—when he hears it.

The call punches him in the gut, nearly bowling him over with the sheer intensity of it.

Chuuya, the call simply says his name, not Arahabaki’s, not for destruction, not for calamities.

Chuuya, the calls says, a call specifically for him.

Chuuya, the call repeats, lonely, hollow, desolate.

Chuuya.

He nearly takes out an entire chunk of the forest when he makes the long jump, the force cracking the ground as he launches himself towards the direction of the pull. The darkness melts together with the deep-brown of the tree trunks, the moss-green of the leaves. And then it is tinged with red, so much red.

The smell of iron and gunpowder is particularly strong today. The metallic scents have always accompanied Dazai before, but it’s even stronger now. Strong enough that it nearly overwhelms his senses.

Only nearly though.

Because he can still see the pain etched on Dazai’s face, the gaping hole on his gut, the smoking gun on his hands, the six bullet shells around him. A part of him thinks he looks absolutely beautiful. A bigger part of him curls in agony. No matter how infuriating and incomprehensible Dazai is, the thought of him dying here, in this cold and desolate place, alone and lonely…

It’s not something he can just watch and feel nothing about.

He tumbles towards Dazai’s bleeding form and ignores the way his limbs crack from the sudden landing, his bones absorbing the impact so that he doesn’t end up forming a crater and destroying Dazai’s body. It should feel painful, he thinks, but it doesn’t register to him, his senses zeroed in on Dazai entirely.

“Leave, chibikko,” is what Dazai manages to say upon realizing that he’s arrived, words hoarse from breathlessness. Blood trickles out of his mouth as he pants from the pain and Chuuya feels himself yearning to lick off the crimson stains, taste the destruction there. He averts his gaze hastily, grasping on threads of self-control, and ends up staring at the gunshot wound.

There’s a strange film of power there.

“Leave,” Dazai repeats, urgent and almost kind.

…Oh.

“You’re—”

just like me

“—a half-vampire.”

Vampires are one of the Great Old Ones, with the ability to regenerate their injuries as long as they’re able to sustain themselves on blood of others. Immortality, as long as they don’t succumb to the greed of bleeding everyone dry and ridding the world of everyone but their kind. An immortality that depends on another’s existence. An immortality that comes at the price of destroying those around them.

Immortality is a curse on someone who wants to die, but Chuuya has a feeling that somewhere inside Dazai, there’s still that bud that wants to live, even just a little bit.

Immortality is a concept he can understand.

After all, as the god of catastrophe, he will never be fully destroyed, as long as the world still retains a capacity for destruction. As long as there’s one being somewhere who is capable of destruction, he will never truly die.

“Leave,” Dazai’s grown angrier, visible eye narrowed in his effort to appear frightening.

All Chuuya can see is someone who’s frightened as well—of pain, of death, of so many things. Dazai might even be frightened that he’d end up attacking him for his blood.

…Dazai is still infuriating and incomprehensible, but somehow, somehow, he thinks he understands him, just a little bit, now.

“It’s simple,” Chuuya says as he moves so that he’s completely covering Dazai’s body. Half in order to prevent him from seeking out others, half so what’s about to happen becomes easier. “Just drink from me.”

Before Dazai can attempt to further resist the vampiric instincts inside him, Chuuya shakes his head and says, “I won’t die. You can drink me dry and I won’t die.”

At his statement, Arahabaki growls inside him in protest.

It’s alright.

This person in front of him is someone just like him.

A creature who was venerated when their powers were needed to serve others’ needs. A creature considered dreadful and terrifying after they were used. There are many other creatures like them, over the history of mankind. But it is Dazai that’s in front of him, that which that he’s managed to meet.

Someone so different and yet the same as him.

It’s irritating and it’s fascinating, all at once.

Beyond it all—

It’s comforting, that he isn’t so alone, after all.

“You are so stupid,” Dazai spits out with the final shreds of his lucidity, eyes starting to overflow with a discordant madness that can only belong to a vampire. “I don’t even know you, and yet you’re—”

Is there even someone who knows someone else entirely? Is there even someone out there who even knows themselves completely?

Chuuya has a feeling that it’s not really the proper response, so he simply leans down and aligns the pulse on his carotid against the fangs starting to protrude from Dazai’s mouth.

“We can fight about it later,” is what he says instead. “For now, go drink my blood already, I’m not cleaning up your corpse here.”

He’s not quite sure if he’s managed to say his entire piece, because Dazai’s open-mouthed panting transforms to a brutal bite, his teeth closing in and rending his flesh open. It’s done with neither finesse nor calculation. It simply is feeding in all its savagery, primal need controlling Dazai’s actions as he pulls blood away from Chuuya’s veins and into his waiting mouth.

There’s the sting from his flesh being torn open. Chuuya expects that. What he does not expect is the way it makes him dizzy, the interruption to his blood flow, the disruption of the natural order of his body’s balance. He’s rarely spilled his own blood in the long, long years of his existence, because he is untouchable, unreachable. Now that he thinks about, what is even the color of his blood…? He doesn’t think he’s ever seen it.

Dazai moans around the bite, and pulls even more, sucking at his neck as though he’s been starved his entire lifetime. Dazai writhes under him, and Chuuya’s alarmed at first, because the wound might not heal properly if it keeps on scraping against him. He tries to sneak a glance down, to ensure that the wound is stitching itself close.

Yet another unexpected thing.

The gunshot wound is healing at a rapid pace, visible to the eye. Skin stretches out and patches over the circular rend until it’s all tender pink, slightly puckered.

“Good,” Chuuya murmurs, and then he ends up losing his voice for a moment, because Dazai chooses that moment to suck harder, gorging himself on the blood made available to him. “Oi, you—!”

Dazai doesn’t hear him, seemingly drunk on his blood, and kicks at the ground.

The forest floor shivers, the treetops sprinkling leaves down at them.

The earth trembles and the air pulses around them, and the promise of imminent destruction makes Chuuya’s blood sing.

…Ah.

This—

This is—

This is dangerous, isn’t it?

Dazai drinking his blood to regenerate himself and unlock his full potential for destruction. Chuuya drinking in Dazai’s potential for destruction and growing stronger.

A cycle of devouring and sustaining each other.

Like this, won’t he become an even stronger and fearsome god of catastrophe? Won’t Dazai become a full immortal? Won’t this lead to a very dangerous outcome…?

Chuuya, the call comes, sweet and satiated.

Dazai detaches his mouth from his skin, lips becoming even redder from his blood.

The sight is hypnotizing, and he finds himself touching that red, red mouth. It’s warm. His blood on Dazai’s lips is warm and red. Just like a normal human’s.

He moves his gaze upwards and sees none of the pain from earlier. Dazai looks exhausted, but he does not look vexed that he’s managed to remain alive despite his attempts otherwise. He simply looks like he’s a satisfied glutton, who’s fallen asleep after gorging on his meal. With his mouth half-open and his eye rolled back… he looks… quite stupid.

Chuuya’s entire body feels like he’s been struck by lightning, a strange buzzing in his ears.

“If you want to get rid of your immortality…” Chuuya pauses as he looks down at the now-unconscious Dazai, considers him. “I can help you. I don’t know if it’s even possible, but…”

It’s only because he feels a bit… thankful.

For that moment of relief, upon finding out that he’s not alone. For that moment of knowing, that his blood is just like a human’s. For that moment of pain, in realizing that it’s possible for someone like him, who is powered by destruction, to feel so affected by something in the throes of destruction itself.

“…Living itself should be a choice.”

It’s only because he’s already lived for a long, long time.

It’s only because he doesn’t have anything else to do.

It’s only because he’s a bit grateful.

That’s all there is to it.

—   —   —   —   —
end of chapter two: algol.
destruction and salvation, the two sides of a two-person ouroboros;

Chapter Text

—   —   —   —   —
chapter three.

“Ahh, I want to die.”

Cheerfully and painlessly—but before he can even add his specifications on his delivery order for a lovely suicide to fall into his lap, he hears the tell-tale whoosh of air as it’s sliced mercilessly with one high sweeping arc of short but powerful legs. Because it’s been happening a lot already, enough that he already has a working catalogue of the other’s movements, it’s only a matter of groaning as he bends at the knees to make an exaggerated drop in his height and avoid the other’s kick.

Unfortunately, the other’s yelling is too loud to be completely absorbed by the forest and thus impossible to be avoided by his poor eardrums. Reverberating across the muggy air: “Shut the fuck up already, you shitty bastard!”

Another plaintive groan. It’s quite exhausting—and that’s not even taking into account the exhaustion from trying to keep up with a chibi.

Dazai doesn’t stand up from his half-kneeling position on the cool forest floor. This part of Aokigahara is something that he hasn’t been to yet, where there’s a much thicker carpeting of various plants over the stony ground. He’s been keeping track of a 3D map of the place—stored inside his head, for he doesn’t have any writing implements with him and he’s decided to switch off his phone since that day. He has complete trust in his highly prized mental faculties, so he is absolutely certain that he didn’t do anything disgraceful as misremember things.

Still, the map that he’s formed doesn’t make sense at all. He should have already explored every single part of this forest at this point. There’s only one explanation for it: Aokigahara Forest is harboring some strong spatial ability that apparently only allows supernatural creatures entry.

He side-eyes his current companion—a busybody chibikko who apparently has an indestructible body and a truly thick skull. Who offers to provide his own blood and flesh to a total stranger? Honestly, he’s worse than a gullible child. Much worse than a stupid dog. With his subpar height and lacking intellect, he really is more on par with a microorganism.

Unfathomable naïve altruism aside, this idiot in front of him doesn’t even know how to wear clothes properly. Being an obvious recluse notwithstanding, shouldn’t he still retain some sort of shame over letting his bits just dangle out like that? He isn’t even specifically letting his gaze wander towards the other’s groin, but it’s kind of inevitable with the way the shortstack is jumping around and kicking about all exposed.

Shaking his head slightly, Dazai lets out a beleaguered sigh along with, “Ano ne, Chuuya, don’t you have any other lines of insults to use on me? Is that the best you can do?”

Chuuya—who’s introduced himself that day with a look on his face that clearly spelled his doubts over his claim that he truly doesn’t know the other’s name—raises an eyebrow. He also cocks his hips to the right, overall appearing very unimpressed—a look that he isn’t used to receiving. It would be refreshing if it isn’t so irritating to be belittled by someone so little. “This, coming from someone who says the same thing each and every time?”

“That you’re terribly short?” Deliberately misunderstanding and widening his eyes, Dazai even lets out a rather authentic gasp, if he must say so himself. “I only speak the truth, after all!”

The unimpressed look stays; it’s now decorated by a pair of tiny fists shaking by the other’s sides. “You keep on yapping about wanting to die every time!”

“It’s because I do want to die,” he says, completely straight-faced. “This trek is slowly murdering my poor, abused knees—not that you’d know.”

Losing his previous expression in favor of a frown, Chuuya asks, “Why wouldn’t I know?”

“Because you’re a dumb beast.”

The frown that could have been considered worried is quickly wiped away and replaced with a massive roll of eyes. More mercurial than the fickle nature, this chibi.

“Bastard! I’m leaving you behind,” is said with derision, but afterwards, Chuuya merely jumps up with a slight kick against the ground, landing nimbly on one of the tree branches. He doesn’t take off like the rocket that Dazai knows he’s capable of being, so he clearly doesn’t have any plans of leaving him behind as he’s threatened.

Not that Dazai’s thought for one moment that Chuuya’s serious about that.

Not that Dazai’s going to be at a loss if Chuuya does actually leave him be. It’d be great for his peace of mind, gaining some reprieve from Chuuya’s scorching presence that cannot be ignored even when Dazai does his best to block him out. It’s almost like he’s the forest itself, oppressive as the air that bears down on him, solid as the stony forest floors.

He idles around for a few more moments, because he isn’t kidding when he’s complained about his knees.

…Some other time, he’d think more about this sudden propensity to be forthcoming about his weakness. He’s been a firm believer of never allowing anyone to ever witness him truly disadvantaged; if he’s ever appeared weak or injured, it’s because it’s part of a charade that he’s participating in, mostly to lull his opponent to a false belief about his condition. Then again, the only opponent here is a chibi simpleton, so there’s not much to gain in trying to cover up the small things, such as his legs feeling like they’ve been liquefied by the summertime heat.

On top of that, the slope also punishes his sense of balance and endurance—things that he’s never really had to hone as the demon prodigy tasked with strategies. Hard labor is neither his style nor his forte, and even with the two sets of abilities inside his body… his physical abilities have seen no improvements.

…On that point—Dazai is actually a bit interested in knowing more.

It’s the primary reason why he’s even agreed to going on this little field trip with the chibi, after all.

Vampires are considered part of the collective subgroup of supernatural creatures called the ‘Great Old Ones’, not because they’re particularly great, but because they’ve managed to keep their bloodlines mostly pure and untainted throughout the history of mankind. Technically speaking, a Vampire can be classified as an Ability User, but one that gets an Ability based on the blood that they drink. It’s just that most Vampires prefer to feed on humans without Abilities for regular sustenance, while drinking contractually from certain Ability Users that have healing or strength augmenting abilities to complement their own abilities.

More recently, it’s just that most Vampires have been wiped out, and the few that have survived have apparently chosen to seclude themselves somewhere in Siberia and Romania.

…In any case, the pertinent point here is that Chuuya has realized that he’s infected with vampirism. Has known it, before he even offered his blood and flesh. It’s impossible for Chuuya to know the specifics of the experiment done to him, so he couldn’t have known that he also possesses No Longer Human. He couldn’t have known so many things.

So, why…?

Is this some sort of ploy…?
Why is he so eager to help him out…?
What does he want in return…?

He doesn’t think that Chuuya is capable of being calculating—he looks entirely too stupid and earnest for that.

He’s not used to having so many unanswered questions, especially on things where he holds some sort of stake. He’s not used to having anything beyond a sliver of interest on anything.

It’s an odd, disquieting sensation.

It shouldn’t matter at all, but it does.

He doesn’t like not knowing things, not possessing multiple contingency plans for each possible future iteration.

That’s the only reason why he’s going along with the chibikko’s proposal to help him find a way to permanently die. Sticking together is a good way to sniff out the other’s motives.

…Even though, right now, with the muggy air and the physical exertion, he is feeling sticky enough all by himself.

“Ahh, I want to die.” He lets out another groan as he does a petulant half-crawl. “Chibi, how long until the lake?”

The way Chuuya clicks his tongue in irritation is almost visceral, with the force of an unsilenced pistol. He feels it against his skin, even though the chibi is busy soothing his insecurities about his pathetic height by trying to lord things over him from a high elevation. Dazai generously doesn’t say anything about how this kind of band-aid solution to their height difference isn’t going to stick.

…Well, he manages for about a minute.

“Chibi, why aren’t you answering me, have your ears shrunk along with your puny height?”

The ground trembles slightly the moment Chuuya leaps back to eye-level, as though it’s frightened of some small slug. Even the chibi’s lines are childish, ineffectual at trying to drum up some sort of terrible aura around him. He just sounds like some middle-schooler brat picking a fight with a tall adult. “Want me to pulverize you to dust, asshole?”

“Pulverize, wow, isn’t that a big word for you? Is your head okay?”

“It’s not that complex of a word, what the hell?!”

“Or, did you misremember my name, is that why you’re using insults instead?”

“Insults work just as well for you,” Chuuya huffs and crosses his arms over his chest that’s barely covered by his pelt that manages to look both ridiculous and… tackily ridiculous. “I’d rather call you ‘annoying twat’ instead.”

He shakes his head like he’s disappointed in having to talk to someone irredeemably stupid. “It’s alright, I didn’t have high hopes for your brain…”

…Some other time, he’d think more about this downwards slide that he’s been recently visiting, when it comes to his composure. He’s never been the type to bicker with someone—there aren’t many who he doesn’t tire of talking after two lines, and those that he tends to have longer conversations with are people like Mori-san and therefore not ones he’d ever treat lightly, not even as a tactic. He’s always managed to retain such a stoic mask over himself, that even he is surprised by his willingness to go toe-to-toe with the childishness.

It’s only because the other acts like a child, that he has to dumb his words and demeanor down, or else the other would not understand his insults at all.

The flat look from before is gone and is now something rather bemused. The tips of Chuuya’s hair are curlier than the tops, acting as red vines curled snugly against his jawline and neck. They barely move when Chuuya tilts his head, his entire body moving along with him, and peers down at him.

Despite the ache on his legs, he stands up smoothly without a visible wince. He’s not about to give the chibi that much time feeling superior in height!

“You’re so weird,” Chuuya then declares like it’s some important finding after years of research. Before he can make a quip about how that kind of opinion isn’t something that he should sound so proud of, Chuuya continues, “I thought you’d have more compunctions about someone saying your name.”

There’s an instinctual urge to deny it, because there’s just no way that a beastly recluse has managed to notice something about him that he hasn’t even fully realized until the moment it’s been pointed out. The fact that he avoids thinking of himself with his own name even when he thinks, the fact that he feels disdain whenever someone bows down to him with a “Dazai-san” on their lips, the fact that he distances himself from things such as the weight of his own identity—

—there’s no way that a stupid chibikko can understand all that so simply, right?

It’s probably just some wild guess.

It’s probably just a way to throw him off, because he’s hit bulls-eye with the quip about Chuuya’s brain being too puny to remember his name.

It’s probably—

“—but if it’d make you quit nagging about it...” Beleaguered sounds so much more believable when it’s Chuuya who’s attempting it. “…Then I can call you ‘shitty Dazai’ instead.”

Nobody’s ever dared to attach insults to his name, not so blatantly as this.

It’s rather refreshing. Refreshingly irritating. Not at all pleasant, and the strange churning in his stomach upon hearing the other’s words is simply because his body’s instinctive reaction to being disparaged.

“Then I’ll call you silly slug.”

“Oi—! Use my proper name, damn it!”

“Right, little fairy.”

“Now you’re just asking to be beaten up…”

They continue to trade barbs as they make their trek towards their destination.

An elevated lake, one that supposedly houses a silver sword that can slay Great Old Ones. Personally, he thinks that the chibi is mixing up myths.

“You’re certain it’s not Saiko Lake?” Because that’s on the opposite direction where they’re going.

“I’ve been here for a long time,” Chuuya says with a roll of his eyes. “I’m sure it’s not known to outsiders.”

“It’s the lake that you’ve been using to bathe and stuff?”

“Uh-huh.” Chuuya’s bare arm brushes against his clothed one, as they settle into a slower rhythm of walking together. “If you’re about to say something irritating about me knowing how to take a bath… don’t even.”

He hums noncommittally instead of continuing with his piece about Chuuya smelling like a wet dog. He’s pretty sure he’s managed to bite back the apparently-predictable teasing, but a sharp elbow digs against his stomach in warning. He’s a bit displeased that he’s being read like an open book and even more displeased that not retorting back means that he’s inadvertently followed what Chuuya had commanded. So he opts for an airy, “Mm, I was about to say that if you’ve bathed in it… the water might be poisoned already from all your dog-germs.”

It’s a weak jab, but Chuuya harrumphs in annoyance anyway.

“I’m going to shove you face-first to the lake,” comes the promise, but then Chuuya also takes his elbow at the same time, dragging him away from a slippery patch of soil before he can even trip over it and make a spectacle of himself. “Just a few more minutes away, stop pouting already.”

Dazai isn’t pouting—such a thing is far beneath him. Literally beneath him, like the slug who’s still clutching his elbow, as though he’s some elderly grandmother that needs to be steered on the road. Whatever great comeback he’s planning gets stuck in his throat though, the moment the two of them finally reach the lakeside.

It’s certainly not Saiko Lake—it can’t be anything that’s visible to the eyes of anyone who doesn’t possess supernatural abilities. The moss-greens and trunk-browns of the forest are seemingly kept at bay by the perfect circle of the lake’s perimeter. It’s impossible to be completely natural, the way the outline of the lake water seems so crystal clear. The dense huddle of trees line the lakeside like a circumference of guards—either to keep whatever’s in the lake stuck there, or prevent the forest from encroaching upon the body of water.

Due to the lack of treetops blocking the skylight from shining down on the lake, the aquamarine tinge of the water is obvious. Instead of appearing alarming or dirty, like it’s been a victim of rampant algal bloom, the lake simply looks otherworldly. Case in point, it’s late in the afternoon and should have a blazing sunset, but what’s reflected on the lake’s surface is the sparkle of nighttime skies over a deep blue horizon.

“It’s always like this no matter the time of day,” Chuuya offers, as though reading his thoughts. “The water is always cold no matter the time of year too.”

“Is this a prelude to you volunteering to dive down to the lake’s bottom to retrieve the sword that could slay me and rob me of my last breath?”

A roll of eyes. “So fucking dramatic. I said that it’s possible it’s been used to slay some supernatural beings.”

“Why do I have a feeling that you’re going to bring back some rusted stick?” He sniggers. “Like the dog that you are.”

Flatly, “I’m impressed with the self-control of the people who’ve lived with you for the past couple of years. I wouldn’t be able to bear it, I would have killed you before the first year is over.”

“Promises, promises~” Dazai then peers at the lake’s water. It seems translucent and opaque at once, a strange contradiction. Blues and greens swirl together, like sapphires and emeralds molded together are waiting at the bottom of the lake. If this place is known to all humans, it would have invited a great number of adventurers, hopeful to make themselves rich by mining whatever’s on the bottom. “So? You’re the one swimming?”

Chuuya clicks his tongue. “I do all the work while you… what, simply watch me?”

“I wouldn’t watch you, Chuuya.” The other’s ‘fashion sense’ is so hopelessly abysmal, his eyes burn from the haphazard placement of the fur pelt over the other’s body. “After all, I can’t even see you, with how tiny you are!”

“Wish I could say the same, but I can still see you because you’re a massive annoyance.”

“Height envy is very passé, chibi.”

“With how often you compare our heights, one would think that you don’t have any other traits aside from your height.”

He feels a smirk forming before he can even stop it. “Aw, are you about to tell me that I also have other traits to be proud of?”

“You’re disgusting,” Chuuya says as he dips his toes against the water, the droplets clinging to his toenails that manage to look rather clean and healthy despite his barefoot lifestyle. “But sure, you do have other annoying traits, don’t just focus on your height.”

“How touching.”

A few more moments pass, with the two of them simply breathing in the air here. It doesn’t smell all that different compared to the depths of Aokigahara, but that’s probably because Chuuya is blocking the wind, so what he’s smelling is the unwashed dog.

With an exaggerated wrinkle of his nose, he shoos Chuuya forward. “You should dive for it and wash yourself in the process.”

“You’re the one wearing all that layers and bandages,” Chuuya points out irritably. “In summertime. You stink more than me, bastard.”

“Nope, can’t hear you, you’re too far below me~”

A scoff, but Chuuya does shove him backwards, towards the direction of the nearest tree to the lakeside. “Go wait there, shitty Dazai. Don’t go eating random grass in the meantime, damn it.”

“I’m not a barbarian like you.”

Though come to think of it, he hasn’t been able to spot new batches of mushrooms recently. He’s been foraging off certain flowers and berries that he’s managed to find. His appetite hasn’t been the biggest before, but he’s starting to grow an appreciation for roasted meat lately, given that Chuuya hanging around him means that he gets to enjoy various spoils such as deer and rabbit. He’s read that there are black bears and wild boars in the region, but he hasn’t managed to cross paths with such animals yet.

No, all he’s managed to come across is the sheepdog-slug-microorganism.

One who’s suddenly leaping off from the lakeshore’s edge. Laws of physics blatantly ignored, Chuuya doesn’t even need external momentum, as he ends up on a high arc over the water, before spiraling downwards and breaking past the surface with a large splash.

“Show-off,” Dazai mutters, grudgingly impressed by the graceful acrobatics.

He busies himself with taking a slow walk around the lake’s perimeter while waiting for Chuuya to resurface. He’s not worried that it’s taking more than five minutes and the chibi isn’t armed by any diving equipment. He doesn’t know what kind of creature Chuuya is exactly—the lack of certain knowledge rankles—but he has this strange feeling that it doesn’t matter.

That it shouldn’t matter.

That if he really wishes to, he can always ask Chuuya and the other would give him a plain admission.

…He has his guesses. He’s not quite sure if he wants them to be correct or if he wants to experience being mistaken for the first time in his life.

It’s not a train of thought that he likes, so he forces his mind to hop on a different topic. Like the possibility that he’ll be able to end his immortality today. He… doesn’t feel as excited as he thinks he should, but that’s probably because the trek to get here zapped a lot of his energy. Or maybe there isn’t a lot of thrill, given that this attempt has a failsafe included.

He’ll stab himself with the sword—if it works, then he’s going to finally be permanently encased by death’s embrace. If it doesn’t, then he can recover by feeding on Chuuya.

He’s not used to things being stacked so much in his favor, at least not without his interference or manipulation. This current situation is more-or-less because the chibi is a very strange and powerful creature. Fleetingly, he imagines that if the two of them work together, things would be very smooth for his plans.

…Or maybe not so much.

Dazai feels his entire body thrumming—electricity in his fingertips, magma in his spine, heart in his throat—when he catches the sight of Chuuya finally rising from the lake.

The red hair is the first thing he notices, because the scarlet locks make it appear as though the water has caught on fire. It fans out, like an inky oil spill set ablaze, in sharp contrast to the blend of aquamarines and emeralds of the lake’s surface. Chuuya rises from the lake with his eyelids closed, but not for long. He opens them the moment his nose is past the water level, and it’s almost as though he’s a creature that has bridged the starlit skies, the endless-blue horizon and the sparkling waters. That, or he’s the crimson spear that has been wedged down from the heavens, splintering apart the air-land-water.

And then Chuuya raises his arm above the water, effortlessly swings a silver blade taller and thicker than him, casually splashes water everywhere and Dazai tastes blood in his mouth.

He’s pretty sure Chuuya isn’t a vampire, but the other seemingly senses that he’s inadvertently bitten his own mouth bloody. With a leap that’s more impressive than the one earlier, if only due to the fact that it’s driven by naked concern, Chuuya is in front of him in a split-second, his landing shaking the earth. Or perhaps that’s just him in its entirety, body trembling from a sudden electrifying bolt of pure hunger.

Chuuya drops the gigantic sword unceremoniously and it clatters against the ground with a definite mini-quake. Chuuya doesn’t seem to notice that though, because his hands are coming up to cup his cheeks, harshly twisting his head side-to-side to the point that he genuinely suspects the possibility of decapitation.

After two minutes of violent fussing, the iron grip on his cheeks slackens slightly, which is then replaced by the surge of yelling right into his face. “What the hell?! What have you done?! Why are you bleeding and looking so, so—! I don’t even know! So weird!”

Because Chuuya’s height has been established to be dismally lacking, him being able to reach his face means that he’s standing on his tip-toes, his body glued against his in an attempt to bridge the difference in their statures. He doesn’t seem to notice that either, along with the fact that whatever he did underwater, it didn’t do his sparse clothing any favors. In fact, his ‘clothing’ appears to have completely been swept away by the water currents.

The hunger inside him flares again, as though stoked by the fact that there is more skin for him to bite into. Or maybe the vampirism is simply cheering at the disappearance of the tacky fur that’s been offending his eyes. Either way, it makes his vision swim while heightening his senses, and he can nearly taste the worry radiating from the other like a bead upon his tongue.

It’s so odd, to be fussed over. It’s the first time someone’s been this overtly concerned for him. It’s also the first time he’s witnessed someone show their concern while also simultaneously strangling the person they’re worried about.

“I’ve just been feeling hungry, that’s all,” he manages to get out after a few more moments of Chuuya shaking him as though the answers would simply fall out of him if he rattles him hard enough. He means for his words to sound condescendingly placating. He’s not sure if he’s successful.

“Oh.” Chuuya seems to take his words at face-value. It’s an even stranger feeling, to be believed so straightforwardly. He’s given the other no illusions about his trustworthiness and Chuuya’s been vocal about his hatred of him, and still—and still, he trusts his words implicitly. An incurable idiot, really. “Should we reschedule the sword thing then?”

The sun remains absent from the skies above them, even as more stars come out to replace it.

Suddenly, he really wants to drink Chuuya’s blood.

Very, very strange—because he’s never felt compelled to drink someone’s blood before. They all tasted the same to him, bland and impersonal. Becoming a vampire means that he should have been able to acquire the abilities of the people he’d managed to drink from, but because No Longer Human is inside him as well, he just cancels out whatever he drinks. The only thing he manages to absorb is the actual nutrients, which sustain his immortal regeneration.

…And yet, he still remembers the way Chuuya’s blood tasted, even if he’s been barely conscious for that feeding.

Try as he might, he’s unable to put it into succinct words. Something like a burst of gunfire, perhaps, if he wants to make it sound plebian and unappealing. In reality, it’s more like a star itself bursting upon his veins, a supernova that radiates so much energy from a tiny central core. It’s as if he’s held all of the secrets of the universe with each drop of blood that he drinks, and the headiness from the thought that all that knowledge is being offered up to him freely is a very potent drug.

How would it feel, he wonders, if he drinks it again?

“I don’t want to go through the exhausting trek again,” Dazai eventually says, downplaying his interest in the aftermath of getting stabbed. “So let’s just do it now.”

The naked concern has receded from Chuuya’s eyes, to be replaced by the now-familiar unimpressed look. Chuuya’s now-fully-naked body also retreats from him, tiny steps backwards so he can pick up the sword from the ground. Dazai resolutely keeps his gaze on the stubborn tuft of hair that juts out from the whorl on Chuuya’s scalp.

“I’ll make this as painless as possible,” Chuuya says, smiling.

The sword cleaves into his ribs in an instant, and then he feels nothing, even as he sways from the bloodloss and falls on his back. The last thing he sees is Chuuya hastily crawling up his lap and urging him to bite.

A cheerful, painless suicide has fallen into his lap, it seems.

By the time he comes to his senses, the first thing he notices is that he feels rather warm and full. He gingerly pats his belly to check if it’s really as filled as it feels, but there’s a heavy weight draped over his entire torso, so he ends up touching smooth skin over firm muscles instead. Wet, snuffling noises reach his ears and when he moves his face from where it’s been resting over the other’s neck, the sound becomes louder, as he ends up lodging Chuuya’s open mouth closer against his ear.

The realization that Chuuya’s probably been drooling all over him in his slumber elicits a shudder of disgust in him. At least, he wants to think that it’s disgust, but he’d also be alright with filling thrilled about it, because to have one more ammunition against Chuuya isn’t so bad. He’s always suspected that Chuuya is much like a child, after all, and drooling in sleep and cuddling whatever’s close at hand are prime displays of childishness.

He breathes in deeply, taking stock of his entire body in the process. If he ignores the life-sized blanket draped all over him, everything else feels peachy. His extremities aren’t numbed, despite him apparently spending long hours by the lakeside, the atmosphere cooled by the late hour. The fact that it’s already nighttime only highlights the way that Chuuya’s body is almost feverish in its warmth. It’s not all that uncomfortable, if he’s being honest, but then again if he’s being completely honest, he’s feeling that desire to bite Chuuya again.

He’s not injured in any way anymore, already fully healed, and he’s just woken up after a feeding, so this is simply greedy, gluttonous desire.

It’s such a bizarre sensation.

More bemusing than the fact that he’s failed to remain awake for the feeding again. It’s almost as though drinking Chuuya’s blood short-circuits his brain and… that’s just unacceptable.

As he’s mulling such things over, Chuuya eventually wakes, yawning loudly against his ear and slowly squirming to a seating position. Seemingly uncaring that he’s basically humping his hips, Chuuya yawns again and stretches his arms upward. The entire nighttime sky appears to be his crown, sparkling darkness over the brightness of his hair and face.

“Everything okay?” Chuuya then peers down at him and asks him with sleep-hoarse voice. “Looks like that sword is a bust, huh.”

…So the chibi is ignoring his body’s reaction to such a close proximity, just like last time. Maybe the chibi is just too stupid to know what it means…? The alternative is that the chibi is ignoring it out of a desire not to embarrass him or some such foolishness, and that’s even more unacceptable. (There’s an even more abominable alternative, which is for Chuuya to not actually feel it, and that’s just impossible, and therefore rejected from the set of possibilities.)

Well, it’s just means that his body is feeling well enough. Just a natural reaction to stimuli. He’s not about to make a big deal out of it if even a shorty is just ignoring it.

“How can I feel okay?” Dazai then asks with a tired grimace, and internally crows with victory when Chuuya immediately scrambles off him so he can do a harsh body inspection that would probably end up harming someone who’s actually injured. “I have a slug’s drool all over my face.”

Chuuya punches his ribs. “Lies! I didn’t drool over your face!”

“I feel so sticky now, oh, I might die from a slug infection…”

“You’re so annoying, I should have left you here to be eaten by bugs!”

“If I get infected by a chibi disease and become a shorty like you…” He lets out a violent shudder. “I’d rather die than be short!”

Unimpressed, “You’d rather die, period.”

“Mm, and even more if I somehow become vertically challenged like you.”

“Has anyone told you that you’re a major cause for their headaches?”

“Nobody else has thought so much of me,” Dazai simpers and chuckles when Chuuya goes green and actually looks two seconds away from retching all over him.

Chuuya then stands up, all lean muscle cords, and Dazai’s mouth goes dry. It goes even dryer when Chuuya bends down and casually picks up the sword, as though it’s weightless when he’s pretty sure that it weighs a ton. There’s a deep depression on the ground from where it’s been resting, after all.

“Since it didn’t work, I’ll just go and return this.”

Without waiting for him to regain control over his suddenly wild heartbeat, Chuuya then leaps back towards the lake, bringing the gigantic weapon with him.

…Chuuya’s tried that weapon on himself, he’s fairly sure. The fact that he even knows about its existence, the blasé way he handles it, his casual acceptance of Dazai’s plight. There’s no solid proof, most of it just his conjectures. The possibility that Chuuya is just like him, a creature who’s always felt to be an unwelcome onlooker at the outskirts of humanity…

He’s always been a unique type of existence, far-removed from everything and everyone else, even when he’s thrust in the middle of events. He doesn’t feel things such as loneliness—at least, not the kind that hears from others’ lips when they complain about not having anyone to eat lunch with or not having a spouse to go home to. What he has is a solid realization that he’s the only one of his kind, that there’s a hollow space inside him that cannot be fathomed by anyone, not even himself.

For so many years, he’s made peace with that realization.

“—that’s done. Oi, you listening, shitty Dazai?”

Chuuya’s back from his little trip to the bottom of the lake. He’s dripping all over the place, rivulets of water casting a light golden shimmer all over his skin. He seems content to simply let the occasional breeze dry him, but then he suddenly wraps his arms around his torso and shivers. Goose bumps rise on his forearms.

“What? You’re staring uselessly again, the fuck happened now?”

His stomach grumbles and his hunger wrangles his insides. “I was just thinking about how much you resemble a wet dog. You even smell like one.”

“I smell like always, fucker.” Instead of continuing to blow his fuse, Chuuya brings an arm to his nose and sniffs, as though to make sure. “Yeah, thought so. Wait, what does a wet dog smell like? I don’t think I’ve seen one before.”

“It smells like you, trust me, chibi.”

Chuuya frowns and looks like he’s about to retort, but another breeze blows by and he shivers again. Rubbing his arms, he thinks aloud, “…Maybe I should use a fox this time, their furs look so soft…”

It’s only because he has no desire to further witness tacky attempts at a fashion sense. Dazai shrugs off his overcoat and flings it towards Chuuya who catches it easily.

“You can have that.”

“Why?”

He can’t exactly say the first thing that popped to his mind—You’d look more appealing in my clothes. Less tacky.—and then wonders why. It’s the truth, after all. “Your previous outfit hurt my eyes. This is much better.”

Chuuya sniffs the coat and says, “It stinks of you, shitty Dazai.”

“You say things like that and wonder why I call you a dog?”

“No, I know you say that because you’re an asshole.”

They trade a few more barbs, but it’s markedly less cutting than before. Chuuya’s too busy trying to figure out how to fold the sleeves so that he doesn’t swim in them, since they’re a lot longer than his arms. Dazai’s too busy deciding whether he should open his phone again for a chance to capture this on camera, a chibikko drowning in grown-up clothes.

Eventually, Chuuya gives up trying to fold the sleeves and simply lets it be, the garment falling over him like a river of shadows. It’s tightly cinched around his narrow waist and Dazai pointedly doesn’t think about petite he really is, compared to the sheer volume his presence manages to take up. It makes the color of his hair and eyes stand out even more, and against a backdrop of the still forest, he’d probably look like a floating specter.

“…Oi, what do you want to eat for dinner?”

Dazai pauses. He’s been thinking of going his own way, like before—Chuuya usually just saunters around and drops off food or intel every day, but they don’t actually wander around together for the most part.

His silence goes on for long enough that Chuuya ends up babbling frantically about… he’s not really sure what the chibikko is talking about now.

“…as thanks for this coat, okay? Also trying to search for you is kind of annoying, and if we stick together I can kill you more, so…”

It’s kind of interesting to watch Chuuya spin himself to a blushing frenzy of words.

He puts an end to it with a solemn, “I want to eat a sheepdog.”

A beat of silence.

And then: “…There’s a special place in hell for bastards like you.”

Chuuya is smiling at him as he says it and for a moment, Dazai is struck with the thought that the dark world feels a little bit, just a little bit, brighter.

—   —   —   —   —
end of chapter three: sirius.
the day i realized that you are the brightest star of my sky;

Chapter Text

—   —   —   —   —
chapter four.

“Say, Chuuya, if you keep on eating rabbits, does it count as cannibalism since you’re eating your fellow small animal?”

“Ano ne, Chuuya, are you really so childish to think that defeating a boar barehanded is cool? No, this nosebleed is just because of the heat.”

“Hey, Chuuya, I heard there are bears in this area – have you chased them away because you’ve stolen their caves for your use?”

Chuuya—Chuuya—Chuuya—ChuuyaChuuyaChuuyaCHUUYA—!

…Argh, so irritating.

Before, when Dazai had claimed that he really was not calling for him, the resonance only rang inside his head. Now that he’s basically living with the devil incarnate, he now gets the dubious honor of hearing the insistent call both inside and outside his ears. It’s really a wonder he does not get tinnitus or vertigo from the constant annoyance—wait, perhaps that’s the explanation for the dizziness that he’s been feeling recently whenever he’s within Dazai’s range.

It really is extra annoying.

His body is in a constant state of thrumming, especially recently. On top of the reverberations from Dazai’s calls for his name, there’s an additional pull, something that exists constantly, a low-volume, high-frequency noise that tethers his attention to Dazai’s presence, making him hyperaware of the other. It doesn’t seem to matter if they’re separated by fifty meters or if their arms are brushing together—Dazai’s presence is omnipresent.

…It really is extra annoying.

“Oh, this looks quite nice,” Dazai suddenly says, fingertips brushing the walls of the cave that Chuuya’s brought him to.

He makes it a point to keep on moving—after all, there’s no telling what it will do, if he stays permanently in one place for a long time. Even if he stays inside this forest for the rest of his lifetime, he has to at least make sure that he doesn’t let his powers concentrate in one spot for too long. After all, each time he stays for too long at a certain place, he ends up corrupting the environment, the people, stirring them to a frenzy of earth cracking open, of the seas defying the natural order by rising up to the skies and invading the land, of humans forging weapons from metal and wood and waging wars with them.

He can’t like anything, because to do so would mean wanting to stay, which would mean to invite ruin upon them.

“—chibikko?”

That infernal nickname is accompanied by a sharp poke to his cheek, fingertips still cool from the exploration of the cave’s icy walls. Dazai’s expression is a study of contrasts: easygoing, indulgent smile coupled with a stare so piercing that he feels like he’s currently flayed open, all of his secrets laid bare for the other to take, even the ones whose truth he has not yet discovered.

It takes him a moment to recover and gruffly ask, “What, shitty Dazai?”

“You look like you’ve been thinking too hard,” answers Dazai cheerfully, admits to not having the grace to let him ponder about things, because he’s rude like that. “It looked quite painful, so you shouldn’t do it too often, okay?”

He rolls his eyes and tries to break Dazai’s wrist, because that kind of insult does not deserve a smidgen of politeness. “You are such a piece of shit.”

Dazai easily sidesteps his attack by doing something nobody sane would do, which is to sidle closer to his attacker. The hand drops to the curve of his neck and it feels like a warm chain, binding him to his spot.

For someone who’s constantly on the move, who’s always raged against the natural order, staying still is something of a hardship for him, chafing against his very nature. And yet, something quells his desires to lash out and destroy Dazai for doing this to him, no matter how innocent or light it may be.

“See, that is more like you.” He looks inordinately pleased to be called a piece of shit. He really is too weird. “No more thinking from now on, okay? I have a feeling you won’t recover from that.”

Weirdness is apparently infectious, because he also feels rather pleased at hearing these ridiculous words. A very strange feeling. “What’s more like me is beating you up for being a bastard.”

“Sure,” Dazai says, then pokes his cheek again, before retreating back to his prodding of the icy walls. “Ne, is it true that these stay frozen all year round?”

“The other caves thaw during summer.” This one, possibly influenced by his powers, remain frozen the entire time. He’s not quite sure how long has it stayed frozen for, for fossilized artifacts to be suspended on the sheet of old ice. “But there are a couple of places where it’s always this iced over.”

“It is quite nice,” Dazai repeats his murmur from earlier. “This place remaining untouched by time.”

The words are loaded with meaning. Chuuya’s never liked things that aren’t entirely clear, things that exist underneath layers of intricacies and mist. Still, it’s practically Dazai’s way of life, threading his true intentions under so many guises—he has a feeling that Dazai might just keel over from sheer impossibility if he’s forced to say what he really means.

“There is no such thing as something completely permanent,” Chuuya finds himself saying, even as he steps in closer, his approach choreographed in slow movements so Dazai can shift away if he so desires. He does not, allows their elbows to bump into each other, as Chuuya raises a hand and traces the same ice fossil that Dazai’s been observing.

A dead snake.

Sometimes, Chuuya thinks that Dazai really knows everything about him.

But it doesn’t make sense, because if he does know everything, then why does he even stay with him? Not even masochism can explain it.

And yet—and yet.

And yet it makes him happy.

He hates being with Dazai, because he always says mean, irritating, obfuscating words, because he always complains about anything and everything, because he always shies away from chores and responsibilities, because he always insists on being a lazy bastard who commands him to do his bidding all the time.

And yet—and yet.

And yet he likes being with him.

It really does not make sense.

“Oh? Are you about to lecture me about the universal truths of this world?” Dazai hums, amused. “That everything is impermanent, and impermanence leads to suffering?”

Chuuya rolls his eyes again, because trust Dazai to wax poetic about things and have them devolve into discussion of suffering and angst. “I’m just saying—there’s no such thing as something that will never change.”

Even him—a god that promised strength and stability to anyone who gave him full worship—cannot promise eternal permanence. Even his most avid worshippers aren’t able to give him the full worship that is required, because humans are ever-changing—in their evolving desires, in the wake of passage of time. Even the sturdiest of earth gives way to erosion, even the longest of rivers are dried up, even the purest of things can get tainted.

Dazai sighs, his body sagging slightly against him. “So even someone like you is saying that there’s no such thing as things that cannot be lost.”

He digs his elbow sharply against the other’s gut, ignoring the sudden pained squawk. An incensed tirade rushes out of him, “I didn’t say that?! Even if things change, if you hold on to the things that you want, then they wouldn’t be lost?! Isn’t that common sense?!”

He’s always been a creature of action. As he’s speaking, he ends up whirling around to crowd against Dazai even further, his hands coming up to grip lanky forearms, a hair’s breadth away from shaking sense into the other.

More than the uncharacteristic surprise on Dazai’s face, it’s the off-guard confusion underneath that resonates with him. He’s only known Dazai for a short amount of time, but he comes to the understanding that confusion isn’t something that just happens with the other. Especially not the kind that is so blatantly displayed for someone to read on his face.

Something warm purrs inside his gut, at the sight of it. As though he’s been made privy to witness a wonder, a masterpiece worth millions of gold bars.

In the end though, Dazai is Dazai. A conceited, condescending bastard who wouldn’t allow himself to be left speechless for too long. “My, a chibi like you is talking common sense to me? Am I witnessing evolution right before my eyes?”

It’s annoying as always, but Chuuya decides to back down. It feels like they’re on the brink of something important, and as much as his instincts demand he shove Dazai face-first off that cliff, something makes him want to hold back. He supposes that someone like Dazai is the type who’d avoid attachments, in fear of losing them eventually.

…It’s irritating, just how similar they can be.

“I can punch common sense to your face instead,” he offers after a lull.

“Mm, can you even reach?”

“You—! I’ll show you—!”

A god of catastrophe like him always ends up inviting ruin upon the things that he likes.

Upon humans,
Upon this world,
And surely, upon Dazai too, in the end.

And yet, and yet—

Somehow, in the smallest of ways, in the littlest of steps, even as they flinch from the idea of it, they continue to move closer into understanding each other.

“…ew, your hand is all sticky,” comes the complaint the moment their fingers brush when he passes a chunk of stone-grilled wild boar leg towards Dazai. Droplets of oil from the animal fat make Dazai’s skin glisten under the firelight.

Lately, because Dazai’s been harping on wanting to see wild boars, he’s ended up hunting more of them. Lately, because of this slightly shift in their diet, Dazai’s decided on making some wardrobe changes.

Bandages are now permanently out of Dazai’s fashion choices, because getting them stained with fat is apparently the limit of the laundry methods that the other knows. Chuuya’s found it rather gross, to be honest, washing bandages along with regular clothes so they can be reused—so he’s wholeheartedly supported this decision by ensuring that they regularly feast upon this area’s boar population.

Dazai had turned his nose up on his offer to help him gather fur for clothing—he’s slightly disappointed that he doesn’t get to test his hunch that the other would look… interesting in a fox’s cloak. After all, during his period of wandering before he came upon Aokigahara, he’s crossed paths with quite a number of kitsune, one of the most cunning creatures he’s ever come across. They’re positively kittenish compared to Dazai, he thinks.

…Anyway, it results to Dazai making do with his white button-up and pants, rolling them up to his elbows and knees. The exposure of so much unblemished skin, makes him feel strange, because he can sense the destruction webbed and layered underneath, growing thicker and more knotted with various untold pains with each round of regeneration that Dazai undergoes.

It’s primarily why he has stopped bringing up the possibility of testing weapons that could possibly slay the vampiric part of Dazai. He tells himself that it’s only because he doesn’t want to overload his immediate surroundings with so much potential for destruction. At the back of his mind, he knows that it’s such a flimsy excuse for not wanting to see the aches upon Dazai’s person.

He’s basically turning his back on the reason why they’re even living together in this forest—and such a thought needles at him, at his desire to stick to his word, but then he looks at Dazai, who’s pouting like a child at his hands becoming oily, as though he isn’t the same, disgusting person who was contented to reuse his bandages. It’s such a silly sight that should spark exasperation from him; instead, it imparts with him a sweet, cloying feeling that’s as terrifying as the possibility of another great war that will call upon all of the energy that’s stored inside the earth.

Endearment, that’s dangerously close to solidifying into genuine affection.

The only things that a god of catastrophe likes are destruction and fights, and right now—or maybe even weeks before, just beneath his notice—he’s on the verge of adding one more thing to his short, short list.

“—got your silly brain all fried too?” Dazai’s question pierces into his musings, the still-glistening fingers waving in front of his face. “Or did you go all silent because you’re embarrassed that you’ve proven yourself a slug?”

Despite the world-changing realizations he’s having, he still manages to roll his eyes derisively. What endearing? This dumbass in front of him is simply an annoying piece of shit, that’s what he is. “I kept quiet because there was no point talking to someone annoying like you.”

“Ehh,” Dazai sounds out, expression flat and unimpressed. “You’re saying that you’re finding it boring to talk to me? Ehh… Even though you’re just a chibi, ehh…”

“Quit it with that ‘ehh’, already!” Chuuya feels his face growing red—though that’s probably just because of the blazing campfire in front of them. “Also, being a chibi has nothing to do with it!”

Before he can even regret saying those words, Dazai pounces on the opportunity, all gleeful grins that should rightfully belong to demons. “So you finally admit that you’re a chibi? A chibikko? The most chibi of all chibikkos?”

With each word, Dazai leans in closer and closer, and so does his stupid, oily hands.

“N-No! S-Shut up already and get your ugly hands away from my face!”

“Ugly, huh~♪”

Singsong sounds so wrong on someone like Dazai, which is why his ears feel hot and his stomach jumps into various flip-flops. His entire body feels like it’s being overloaded with various rollercoaster emotions—a rarity, because his feelings over the past centuries of existence have always tended to be rather analogous to one another.

Dazai seems spurred on by his reactions, and Chuuya sees red for a moment, and really, it’s why he doesn’t like being this overwhelmed, because he tends to be an action type of guy, and the action that he does are not always the most advisable ones.

Case in point, right now, he ends up snatching those abominable fingers waving around his face, and he chomps on them, keeping them between his teeth.

goddamnit, he tastes very nice, I hate it, rings inside his mind.

Instead of doing what a normal, sane person would do, which should range from hightailing it away from someone who’s shown no compunctions in literally eating them, to screaming in fright… Dazai does neither. To be fair, Dazai screaming at any capacity, much less out of terror, is something totally unimaginable. Still, what Dazai ends up doing is… quite unorthodox.

And also terrifying, if he’s being honest.

Dazai… moans.

Not out of pain, he thinks. Hopes. Hopes that he hopes for it, because he’s not sure he wants to deal with the implication that he rather likes the sound of Dazai in pain as long it’s inflicted by him.

Dazai writhes in place, and his fingers move along with him, wriggling inside Chuuya’s mouth. The way the firelight casts reddish shadows all over Dazai’s face arrests his breathing, the way Dazai is looking at him, all half-lidded eyes—oh.

Without the bandages, both of Dazai’s eyes are visible.

It tugs a visceral response from him and he ends up moaning in response as well, all over Dazai’s fingers.

With that exchange, it’s almost as if they’ve both agreed to jump off the precipice that they’ve been circling for the past few weeks.

Dazai crawls into his lap and burrows against him in record-speed, nearly bowling him over if not for the way that his feet dig into the ground. Dazai’s sharpened canines—which make their appearance whenever he hungers—scrape against the line of his jaw, the swell of his cheek, as open-mouthed kisses are tracked against the expanse of his skin. Dazai’s fingers poke and prod at him from the inside, before moving to thrust at a dizzying rhythm. Dazai’s other hand snakes into the overcoat that he’s given to him, slithering upwards so he can cup the back of his neck, to ensure that he can’t move away as their bodies writhe against each other.

Not that he wants to, certainly not now when everything around him is erased save for Dazai, Dazai, Dazai.

The earth trembles in anticipation and the wind bubbles in excitement. The forest around them moves in symphony, practically vibrating with energy. It should be a reminder of how staying cooped in one place is bound to influence it with his powers, with his desires. The forest that keeps away wild animals at bay, the skies that stay with the cradle of the night. Things that want to keep Dazai in a cocoon, safe and warm and away from harm.

It should be a reminder to him, that he shouldn’t want Dazai.

They are similar, but they have one fundamental difference, after all.

But then, Dazai nearly rips his coat off him in his haste to get to his bare skin. And then, Dazai lets out a rather desperate whine, dragging the syllables of “Chuuya” against his ear.

Against an attack like that, I shouldn’t want him, I’m going to end up destroying him, becomes it’s the first time I’ve wanted anything so badly, I like him and I actually like liking him, so it should be alright.

It should be fine, right…?

Dazai can regenerate, so as long as he’s careful, he can stay with him without destroying him, right…?

Dazai does not want power, so as long as he makes him safe and happy, he can stay with him for a long time, right…?

Dazai says that he wants to die, but he hasn’t been saying that recently, so as long as he can show him that there are things worth liking in this world, then it should be okay, right…?

“I told you,” Dazai rasps out, breath ragged from their rutting. “You shouldn’t be overtaxing your tiny brain.”

“So irritating,” he mumbles against the fingers still thrusting in and out of his mouth, his words distorted by it and yet still understood by the way that Dazai sniggers against him.

When Dazai finally pulls off his hand from his mouth, it’s with Chuuya’s back flat on the ground and Dazai looming over him, his askew button-up showing a tear somewhere near the shoulders and several buttons missing. Hair mussed and eyes shinier than spit-slick lips, he looks like a starved, feral thing. Chuuya wonders if he looks any better, especially since he feels his chin wet with saliva and his entire body trembling from the desire to swallow Dazai whole. It’s rather distressing to realize that the main reason stopping him from doing so is that he wants to see what the other wants to do to him, to witness what kind of emotions the other can elicit from him.

Then Dazai kneads the skin at the back of his neck as though coaxing a wild animal and he bares his teeth at that, which only prompts a chuckle. There’s palpable wonder in the tips of Dazai’s fingers when he rubs at his lips, and he nearly drowns from the weight of it. The drowning sensation only heightens when Dazai leans back down again, all choreographed intent that makes him sigh in pleasure, the moment their mouths touch.

Because Dazai already fed from him before, it’s not like this is the first time they’ve been this close to one another, or even the first time that they’ve basically humped each other to hardness. Still, there’s something decidedly different this time around, even if the greedy hunger involved from both of them remains the same. Dazai drinks up his moans and his spit instead of blood this time, and it’s him who bites Dazai instead, giving him small nips and harshly sucking his tongue.

Dazai laughs against him, and it’s that sound, the laughter that says Chuuya against the insides of his ribs, that suddenly tips him over the edge, making him arch his back and buck against the solid weight atop him. Dazai laughs again, half-teasing and half-delight, at being able to make him cum without even touching him directly.

It should be supremely irritating—and it kind of is. It also makes him rather happy, that he’s been able to drag out this kind of reaction from someone who’s come here radiating gloominess from every pore.

It then makes him feel as hot as the surface of the sun, because by the time he comes down from the height of sharing something like this with someone he really likes, Dazai is already slithering downwards on his body, letting out messy, slurping sounds as he laps up Chuuya’s—no, their combined—release from his stomach.

Maybe it’s a testament to how well he’s come to know the other, because he can sense what stupid quip the other’s about to say even before he opens his mouth. Still, knowing beforehand doesn’t cushion the blow when Dazai does say, “You’ve been holding out on me, chibikko. This tastes better than drinking your blood.”

“S-Shut up, you have no shame!”

“I really don’t,” Dazai agrees, before letting out a devious grin, diving downwards and licking the head of his spent cock. Trembling all over, he kicks out with both legs, half-hoping to decapitate Dazai and save him from the embarrassment of having someone hear him let out a truly embarrassing squeak from getting overstimulated. Dazai’s quick to catch his feet, apparently predicting his reactions well, eyes laughing at him as he focuses on suckling at the tip as though to coax it to release a few more drops to sate his thirst.

His canines remain in their sharpened state, and it should be a warning against his cock that it’s not a good idea to grow hard inside such a perilous environment. It doesn’t deter his arousal at all—because the presence of the sharpened teeth is a tangible proof that Dazai is still so hungry for him and he is only too eager to reciprocate.

“Hey,” Dazai says, following an obscenely wet sound, lips kiss-swollen. “I know I’m really good as with all things, but it’s hard to concentrate when there’s an earthquake and lightning in the air, Chuuya.”

At those words, Chuuya belatedly realizes that the trembling and heat he’s feeling are all magnified in their surroundings. There is an earthquake that simmers down slightly upon his notice, and there’s an electric charge in the air from a thunderstorm.

Dazai looks so smug and pleased, eyes still shining at him and Chuuya can only helplessly think, I really do like him.

Dazai blinks at him, opens his mouth, probably to say something that will guarantee Chuuya’s blood pressure to go haywire. Whatever he’s about to say is placed on hold when there’s a sudden crashing downpour probably triggered from the swooping deluge of his emotions.

Raindrops beat down on them. It’s successful in dousing the fire from their current camp, but if anything, it appears to have only spurred Dazai on more, because he’s smirking devilishly now, promising wreckage upon his person. With grace as liquid as the rain that glues the tatters of his shirt against torso, Dazai sits back on top of him so that their groins are aligned. Raises a hand and combs it through his hair, smirk widening as though he knows just how attractive the gesture is. And it can’t be helped that he notices just how much Chuuya likes it, because his other hand is casually fondling their cocks together.

The seduction in his movements is belied by the almost-childish, “So you prefer seeing me all wet, I get it.”

“You look like a wet dog,” Chuuya mutters, even though he knows it’s a rather weak jab.

Dazai grins at him like he can read his mind, swooping back down to kiss him all over again, as the call of Chuuya, Chuuya, Chuuya drowns out everything else.

…Things more or less remain the same, as before.

Dazai still calls out to him incessantly; he still is very generous with his punches whenever Dazai crosses the line. The number of times Dazai brings up death steadily grows smaller, and most of the occurrences are linked to irritating boastings about his so-called attractiveness being ‘to die for’ or about ‘his current dream not including being kicked to death by an angry chibi’.

Neither of them bring up the fact that Chuuya’s more-or-less stopped helping him find a way to destroy the vampiric ability inside of him. Neither of them make a comment about the sword at the bottom of the lake and its origin and how it probably would have really worked in destroying Dazai, if Chuuya actually used it properly and didn’t immediately have Dazai feed from him so he can regenerate.

Neither of them say anything like a love confession.

But then, sometimes, Chuuya would suddenly lug a basketful of crabs from the lake for dinner, even though there shouldn’t be ones there. Just because the night before, Dazai had made an offhand comment about canned crabs being his go-to food when he was outside of the forest.

And then, sometimes, Dazai would tell him stories—some made-up, some from different cultures—about the stars above them.

“Some of these stars have been here for as long as I can remember,” Chuuya says, stretching up an arm as though to pluck several of them from the skies.

Dazai has never asked him about the truth of his existence and yet in moments like this, when he doesn’t react to hearing Chuuya talk about things as though he’s been present since the creation of the world itself—it’s almost as if Dazai already knows anyway.

That he’s a god of catastrophe, who’s donned this human form out of convenience. That he’s the harbinger of destruction and calamity, who’s been on the receiving end of many slaying attempts. That he’s welcomed death before, and has been faced with the realization that even at his weakest, even when he’s been forced to stay in this human form long enough that he’s grown a personality, that there is no way for him to completely be erased. That he’s so very alone, and that he’s never even dared to wish for someone, before.

“For some of these stars,” Dazai starts, adopting the snotty tone whenever he thinks he has some great knowledge that he’s magnanimously imparting to some idiot.

Chuuya bites his neck in warning and Dazai wriggles hard enough to almost dislodge him from his perch on top. He follows it up with a, “We’re currently at the treetops, so make sure you think long and hard about the drop if I suddenly feel like kicking you off.”

Dazai murmurs something about being long and hard as well and Chuuya bites him again for the insolent comment.

“As I was saying, before I got interrupted by a chibi dog…” The pinch to his cheek feels almost fond. “For some of these stars, even if they die, they just transition to being black holes. It is quite stubborn of them, huh?”

He feels it against his ribs, the things unsaid. “A very long life, huh.”

“And did you know? It’s the smallest, tiniest dwarf stars that tend to—ow, ow, ow!”

Chuuya dropkicks him, but then, in a split-second, he’s right there waiting at the bottom to catch Dazai’s falling form anyway.

…Things more or less remain in the same, comfortable pace as before.

To the point that Chuuya can’t help but let out a frustrated stomp when he senses a disruption in their routine.

A large concentration of an unpleasant aura, bearing with it a high capacity of destruction, approaches the edges of the forest at a high speed. High enough that he suspects a supernatural Ability. The negative energy reminds him of Dazai from when he first set foot in Aokigahara. There’s a number of them, but there are two that stand out.

Still, the speed is too high, that Chuuya barely has a chance to shove Dazai away from him when the energy source suddenly accelerates and goes for his heart. Inside of him, Arahabaki sneers at the naïve way of thinking that he’ll be destroyed by taking out such a flimsy organ. Still, he hesitates for a moment in raising up his guard, because the energy reminds him so much of Dazai.

A vampire filled with dreariness. The scent of snow, of the north.

Ah, a pure vampire, who’s come all the way from Russia.

Chuuya’s powers are focused on the offensive, but he focuses on his desire to protect Dazai so that the entire forest moves, to create a fortress surrounding one human being… who is looking with hatred at the second intruder. Chuuya catches the Russian vampire’s wrist and flings him away with enough force to catapult him all the way back to the Continent.

It should have worked too, but the second intruder’s Ability—a blonde girl wearing a frilly dress—catches the vampire, and absorbs most of his momentum so he ends up landing just a few meters away.

Chuuya uses the chance to jump towards where Dazai is, or at least, in front of the fortress made of ice walls and a tight lattice of trees. Something is very wrong. The fortress is falling apart on its own, as though his powers are being leeched away. The last time he’s felt this weakness is when he’s been skewered with that particular sword, but a quick look at his surroundings ensure that the sword is nowhere in sight.

No, he shouldn’t panic. He’s not at risk. He’s the god of catastrophe, the worst they could do is to seal him temporarily. He’s going to be fine. But if they’re here for Dazai, then…

“Who the fuck are you scrubs?”

“I’d like to thank you for making the search for you easier, dearest esteemed god.” The vampire smiles thinly. “You have hidden yourself well for hundreds of years, but even to the naked eye, it is easy to see just how much Aokigahara Forest has changed in recent times, hmm?”

Chuuya feels his body turn cold. It hasn’t escaped his attention that he’s been changing this place to suit Dazai more and more, but to think that it’s gotten the attention of some unsavory characters is…

“That doesn’t answer—”

“Good work, Dazai-kun,” the second intruder says, smile mirroring the vampire’s. “You have done well in obtaining the god’s trust, to make his capture easier.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Chuuya hisses, and moves to claw off the ugly smile on the two intruders.

He’s always been a person who goes straight into action, so he barely even registers the panicked, “Chuuya, don’t—!”, before he feels a golden box cage descend on him, transporting him to a far-away world where there is only darkness.

—   —   —   —   —
end of chapter four: vega.
bridging a distance of an entire universe is nothing to a pair in love;

Chapter Text

—   —   —   —   —
chapter five.

For as long as he can remember, he’s only ever known wanting to die.

From the moment that he’s realized that living is a painful chore, from the moment that his blood has been siphoned out of him by cold, unfeeling tubes and replaced by a half-liter of ‘donated’ vampire’s blood, from the moment that he’s been thrust into a War that he does not care for—he’s only ever known the fervent desire to be rid of it all, to fade into the embrace of nothingness instead of being made to stand at the boundary between humans and everything else.

When did it change?

When did he start to look forward to waking up the next day, if only because he wants to see if he can tease one more frown from a certain someone? When did he start to laugh at the silliest and smallest of things, without needing to feign the action and the emotion driving it? When did he start to actually feel something aside from the dreary mist of desolation that’s always accompanied him, and not have it hurt like all the other things that he’s felt?

From the very first contact between them, that harsh impact that sent him flying across the forest from one measly kick?

From the very first time he’s had to look up at someone who’s managed to pin him down, and had seen a creature wearing the stars themselves for his crown?

From the very first taste he’s had of the other’s blood, sinfully sweet, given to him freely and foolishly?

From the very first whiff he’s had of the other’s true scent—of the crisp air, of the clear water, of the cluster of trees, of the corrosion of metallic blood, of the crumbling earth itself—all five elements, as though the entirety of the world has been narrowed down into a compact package?

From the very first time he’s heard such foolhardy words about that has promised him of stubborn certainty in the face of constant change, the genuine desire to fight to stay with him thrumming along the space between them as though to push out the vampire’s contamination from within him and replace it with another kind of madness?

He can’t pinpoint the moment of his change.

Such a lack of information would usually rankle at him more, but it doesn’t matter—shouldn’t matter.

He doesn’t care for that, not anymore.

He hasn’t cared about anything but his own demise for so long, not anymore.

He simply wants—



—to live, even just one more day, so he can irritate Chuuya into exploding at him with all his blazing fury, his brilliant passion, his burning life-force.

Even if it’s just one more time,
Even if it’s just one final time,
For the two of them to meet.

And it’s that thought that centers him, the rage currently fogging his senses being concentrated into one goal: he has to get Chuuya back.

He breathes in, and out.

The red clears from his vision and he sees it, in front of him, the floating golden box that has compressed itself into something not even larger than the chibi’s fist. A black orb is in the middle of the box that’s pulsing out great waves of energy, as though Chuuya’s banging against the box, even though he’s been reduced to a tiny black blob. Interconnected runes wrap around the box’s surface, in many different languages, a multi-layered spell to harvest a powerful supernatural entity.

It takes some effort, but he manages to drag his gaze away from the box—oh, Chuuya has become so tiny indeed—and towards the intruders to their paradise.

Despite his newfound resolution to remain calm and stoic when dealing with them, his lips curl in disdain against his will. Mori-san working with Dostoevsky has always been a possibility, but it’s been a small one, because he did not think that the two would ever be compatible, what with their clashing egos. He supposes that evil should always expect evil—and that there are certain things that are too important to even care about morality, especially if one has never been the paragon of virtue to begin with.

He wishes to address Mori-san first, but then his gaze catches on the way Dostoevsky’s eyes are particularly hungry as they stare at Chuuya—tiny, tiny boxed Chuuya—so he shifts slightly to address the Russian vampire instead, if only to take his attention off the box.

“My, you’re looking rather spry for someone who’s supposed to be buried sixty feet under Siberian tundra.” Dazai smiles, completely devoid of mirth. “And by that I mean you look like you haven’t taken a bath in the years since I’ve unfortunately laid eyes on you. Is hygiene merely optional for those of the great pureblood vampire culture?”

“Dazai-kun, I had thought you’d be less immature after a couple of years,” Dostoevsky returns, tilting his head so that the tips of his hair forms an inky wave against the snow white of his clothes. He’s wearing thick layers, as is usual for pureblood vampires who, for all their tripe about being a supreme race, are pitifully weak under the uncaring onslaught of sunlight from a star so far away. “Grown-ups are supposed to learn about sharing, are they not? Getting the favor of god all for yourself is not very nice.”

Dazai lets his smile sharpen into something that could gouge the other’s eyes. “I am not very nice.”

“Fufufu, that, I am in agreement with.” Dostoevsky makes a show of acting put-out. It layers unpleasantly over his dull expression, like a poisonous oil spill. “It would be great if the esteemed god agreed too, hmm? Especially since you show no respect for your elders.”

“You being hideously old—that, I am in agreement with.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky.

A pureblood vampire, who used to have an agreement with someone from the Japanese government, an agreement to provide some of his blood to kickstart experiments for artificially fusing a human with a vampire. The half-liter of vampiric blood that’s been forcibly introduced to his system… Dostoevsky has the dubious honor of being the provider.

Dostoevsky being a purebred vampire means that he thinks that human Ability Users—born from lines of humans consorting with supernatural creatures—are lesser beings. He doesn’t have any real stakes upon wanting to create a creature of heresy like Dazai—a disgrace to the pure lineage of vampires; an artificial, contaminated being compared to other humans and Ability Users—aside from simply wanting to witness some entertainment.

And now he’s here, causing trouble on Dazai’s life once more.

It had been interesting, before, dealing with him. But back then, Dazai did not have any real stakes either, simply content with battling wits and abilities, ultimately uncaring if he ends up permanently dead, aside from the smidgen of pride over having lost his shot at victory.

Things are different now though.

Much, much different.

He shifts slightly so he can glare at Mori-san. “And you too, Mori-san. Have you gone senile in the time I was away? I am, and never have been, a part of any scheme to gain the trust of your current target.”

“It is a great pity that you were not, Dazai-kun.” A shake of head, brushing over the lie from before, as though it’s completely harmless. “It is indeed a great pity—if Dazai-kun was my right-hand man still, the fight against the encroachment of The Guild would have been over quickly.”

The Guild…?

Why would a Western organization come bearing down on Yokohama…? At this timing…? And for Dostoevsky to use this timing to rise from his incarceration in Russia…? And, judging from the earmuffs-wearing man standing behind those two, a Transcendental too…?

“I respect your desire to retire, Dazai-kun, really I do.” Mori-san continues, his attempt at acting compassionate completely betrayed by the cold, hard logic of his next words. “But the Guild has brought along a god of their own in their plan to raze our beloved city. All in the name of searching for another god—that’s supposed to be the key to a power that can rewrite reality. Getting hold of a god of our own is the logical step, is it not?”

“Have you never really heard of stories warning against humanity’s hubris?” Dazai asks, hollow-voiced as his mind works on overdrive.

In sharp contrast to Chuuya’s straightforward personality, the creatures in front of him are the personification of deceit and manipulation. He finds himself keenly feeling the loss, and has to remind himself that Chuuya is right there in front of him, just… somehow compressed. He hasn’t lost Chuuya yet.

“Desperation often serves as a strong motivator for unimaginable feats.” Mori-san’s expression remains smooth, even as he says of words that might be convincing to others. “The leader of the Guild has experienced a cutting loss and has nothing else to lose. He does not have compunctions in using a god—and naturally, we too, must not hesitate.”

Dazai laughs, bitingly cold as the layers of ice when he had personally overseen the incarceration of Dostoevsky, years back. “How touching—for the sake of protecting Yokohama, is it?”

“Of course.” Mori-san blinks at him like he’s being unforgivably cruel by suggesting otherwise. “Is there any other reason to obtain such a destructive power? It is rather troublesome to acquire it, after all.”

“Chuuya may be a terribly small dog, but…” He side-steps to the left, so that he has a clear shot of Mori-san, Dostoevsky and the Transcendental. “…He is my dog. You do not have the qualification to address him as though he’s a mere object.”

This time, Mori-san’s expression does float somewhere genuine. There’s actual surprise on his face as he says, “My, it’s just been a few weeks and you’ve actually managed to get along well with another living entity?”

“Maybe I am a very friendly person, underneath all these. It’s just that I’ve spent the majority of my time being the right-hand man of someone so unappealing that my sociable side hasn’t had a chance to appear.” Dazai pauses for effect. “Mori-san, do you happen to know the identity of that unappealing man?”

“Try as you might to sound like your usual cruel self,” Mori-san says with a shake of his head, “it is rather obvious that you’ve become soft, Dazai-kun. Did you fancy yourself becoming a real boy, after being in contact with a truly otherworldly entity?”

“I told you, he’s not—”

“Oh, but he is,” Dostoevsky cuts in. “Isn’t he, Randou-kun?”

“It’s Rimbaud,” the Transcendental corrects his name with the air of someone who doesn’t really care if the other party listens to his entreaty. “Arahabaki is a being from the other side. The person who you’ve been with—who you think you’ve been with—is nothing but a vessel created by the god, so it could maintain its form on this world without getting erased.”

Dazai breathes in sharply as the implications sink in. They’re saying that Chuuya—ridiculous, tiny Chuuya—is merely a construct? A vessel? A façade?

That Chuuya, being less than genuine?

That Chuuya, whose words are without finesse or guile, with no care as to the damage he deals upon the carefully-constructed worldview that’s served him for nearly his entire lifetime?

That Chuuya, whose actions are unable to disguise the fact that he cares so very strongly, about the food they eat, the colors of the leaves, the absence of anything that could endanger him, the sun permanently hidden from the skies above?

That Chuuya?

When he breathes out, it comes as a laugh.

“Something funny, Dazai-kun?”

“Ah, pardon me.” Politeness woven with steel. “I find it hard to believe that there’s a god out there who has chosen to fashion himself a vessel that’s terribly lacking in common sense. And intelligence. And height.”

“A god of destruction does not need a personality,” Rimbaud says tightly.

“It has thoroughly destroyed its clout, if you are absolutely certain that there’s a god out there who willingly chose a chibi form.”

“Then you should not have objections to this, Dazai-kun.” Dostoevsky does not sound amused about him disparaging the god, but that vampire has always been rather obsessed with the idea of being noticed by the only beings he considers above him in hierarchy. “Being transported to the world inside Rimbaud-kun’s Ability should dispel the need for the current form of the vessel.”

“You plan to erase his personality,” Dazai says flatly.

“What we require is extraordinary power so that we can protect Yokohama from her invaders,” Mori-san tries to say it gently, but the attempt falls flat. There is heavy calculation in his gaze, always spinning threads of plans and strategies. “We’ll consider your earlier points—we’ll look into implanting Arahabaki inside a vessel that is not so vertically-challenged, as part of your request.”

“Thank you for your consideration,” Dazai replies, bone dry. “It truly touches me to know that you are still listening to my suggestions, Mori-san, really, it does.”

“It is nothing,” Mori-san ignores the sarcasm of his response. “For years, you have been a most excellent right-hand man.”

“You’ve known me for years, so I am admittedly confused, Mori-san.” Dazai takes one step towards the floating box. He watches the twitch of Rimbaud’s fingers, as he manipulates the box to inch away. A confirmation that he’s been made aware of his nullification Ability. “You seem to be under the impression that I have some sort of stake over wanting to protect Yokohama. I most assuredly don’t.”

Dostoevsky chuckles, all teeth. “That kind of capriciousness is rather unbecoming of a matured vampire, is it not?”

“I aim to please, oh greatly-matured one.”

“Now, now, I do believe I have something that can ease this transfer,” Mori-san cuts in, before he can exchange more nastiness with the elder vampire. “The poisonous mix between hypertension and hypotension medicine—I have already perfected and manufactured it, Dazai-kun. A way to suppress your vampiric bloodlust and the resulting regeneration. A single dose that will bridge the distance between you and the suicide that you’ve always wanted.”

“All that, in exchange for me not attempting to stop you from your kidnapping.”

“Exactly. You’ve always been a smart boy, Dazai-kun.”

…If it’s something that’s been offered to him months back, he would have accepted it without hesitation. He wants to die and he hates pain. He likes getting what he wants, he does not enjoy getting denied.

It’s all very logical.

The Guild is powerful, both as an economic force and a congregation of Ability Users. More so if they’ve managed to get an old god on their payroll. A way to rewrite reality is an extremely attractive bait, and a powerful force is required to track it down, an equal amount of force to protect it.

Nothing personal about it, simply cold, hard logic.

As far as first meetings go, theirs definitely ranks at the worst. That painful kick, that harsh exchange. His question, meant to impress upon the other the difference between them.

“I do not see the point in living. Do you?”

And Chuuya, honest, straightforward, chibikko that he is, had answered him so casually, so effortlessly—

“I do. If you don’t see it, it’s definitely because you’re doing something shitty like covering your eye like some weirdo trying to be cool! It isn’t cool at all!”

And even as he’d sputtered a rebuttal, something about him not seeing anything because there’s only a tiny slug in front of him, Chuuya had remained steadfast in his irrational, illogical, unconventional stance.

“If nothing else, if you’re dead, then you can’t see the stars at night! That kind of beautiful sight needs to be seen, you know!”

Utterly senseless and incomprehensible, as expected of a chibi.

Even after spending a lot of time with Chuuya, he still does not fully understand.

It is possible, that even after two hundred years, thousands of years, he is still unable to understand the full breadth of Chuuya’s airhead brain.

For as long as he can remember, he’s only ever known wanting to die. Simply batting away his boredom while getting involved in places that has death as a part of life.

But now—

…Ah.

Before, he’d suspected that humans were not capable of love. And then, he’d thought that it was him who was deficient in the ability to love anything, including life, including himself—as though his nullification ability extended to this.

But now—

It isn’t capriciousness, not at all.

It’s deep-rooted selfishness, possessiveness. He has finally found something that he wants to hold on to, as tightly as he can. A kind of love that suffocates him to the point that he’s light-headed and enthralled, rendered breathless until all he can sense is that brightly burning star.

A love that he never wants to be forgotten, even just a bit. A love that he wants to have for more than just a moment. A love that he wants stretched to the ends of the entire world, to the limits of time and space.

“…Is it a deal then, Dazai-kun?”

Mori-san and Dostoevsky are standing together, Rimbaud slightly off to the side. There’s palpable tension in the battlefield, though it has slacked off compared to earlier. They believe in the victory of their plan, that much is certain, even though it’s also obvious that there’s a healthy dose of respect for his ability to weasel out of any situation.

In their eyes, he is just like them.

The Dazai Osamu of before, certainly.

But now—

“Thank you for your generous offer,” Dazai starts, both of his hands retreating to his pants’ pockets.

He traveled from place to place. From the four-walls-and-a-roof that is called a house to the research facility where the vampirism experiments took place. From warzone to another warzone. From one darkness to another. From Yokohama Station to Gotemba Station. From the cab to Aokigahara Forest.

He traveled light.

Because he’s generously bequeathed his overcoat to Chuuya, his own pockets are much lighter.

The gun and the six empty bullet shells have already been crushed to dust by Chuuya. The bottle of chamomile tea is also with Chuuya, having been repurposed for water refills. His wallet—void of bills, filled with his IDs and cards that fill Chuuya with laughter as he never fails to insult his ID pictures on a frequent basis—is on the overcoat’s inner pocket. The charge-less flashlight and the near-empty matchbox, are left in their camp for the day.

It leaves him with just this: a mobile phone that hasn’t been switched on in a long time, a compass, and The Complete Manual to Suicide, his old bandages, rewashed and unused in weeks.

It will be enough.

It should be enough.

“Mori-san, you seem to be under the impression that my current dream is to die in a cheerful, painless suicide courtesy of your poison. I’m afraid that is a misunderstanding.”

Elise re-manifests, as well as Dostoevsky’s sharpened canines.

Dazai’s hands are faster.

He loops his bandages around his phone and the compass, connecting them, before throwing the bandage-wrapped compass towards the golden box. After all, Rimbaud is not a god so the golden box, no matter how powerful it seems in being able to contain such a great power, is still an Ability. An Ability that can be nullified.

Still, in case it doesn’t work, he takes the small blade he’s hidden in his book’s spine, effectively ruining it.

“My current dream is to be kicked to death by a tiny beauty who’s worried about me,” he declares, before slicing his neck, just before the combined attacks of Elise and Dostoevsky manage to reach him.

—   —   —   —   —
end: polaris, part one.

Chapter Text

—   —   —   —   —
finale.

Everything around him is darkness.

His past, his present, his future—it’s all darkness.

And somewhere in this sea of darkness, he floats aimlessly.

He feels like a blank slate, as though everything about himself has been wiped forcibly free, drowned in the ever-present darkness. It doesn’t feel right, being so empty, as though he’s supposed to be filled to bursting instead. It doesn’t feel right at all, but all he has is the encompassing darkness.

He feels empty, but not for long.

His memories return to him in slow-drips.

The first thing that comes to him is being born to a place surrounded by darkness, an empty void from when the heavens has just been created. There are other primordial gods nearby, he can feel their presence, that much he’s certain. But the memory sends him tumbling to another, to descending upon the earth once it has been created.

A god that’s been sent down to slay the monstrous eight-headed, eight-tailed snake, a vicious monster that had terrorized the land. But as he struck the monster down, he wondered—just who placed this powerful monster on earth to begin with? The creation of the heavens and the earth were done by the gods themselves. The monster was created by the gods themselves, and when its use was exhausted, it was slain by the gods themselves.

And that had been his job, to remain in the earth that’s apparently filled with things that needed to be erased, the same things that were placed there by the gods themselves.

And so he wandered, from mountain to sea, from place to place, carrying with him the sword that could slay all beings, bringing with him the power to destroy anything. He brought calamity and destruction, even as he promised strength and stability to anyone who could give him full worship.

He wandered, his blade and his hands getting drenched in the blood of billions, of uncountable things, of sins untold. Unable to be with anyone or anything, eternally alone. Abhorred by those who could sense his powers, avoided by living beings. He annihilated them in turn, sometimes without even a need for thought on his part.

He tried to use the legendary blade on himself, to no avail. He couldn’t close the corrupted loop of his destruction that hungered for more destruction. He simply wandered and wandered and wandered, until he could find a place where he was truly alone.

Everywhere is a vast sea of darkness, where he simply floats aimlessly.

His past, his present, his future—it’s all darkness.

Everything around him is darkness.

Until—

—someone’s presence broke through that lonely void, and forcibly dragged him into the outer world.

Chuuya—Chuuya—Chuuya—ChuuyaChuuyaChuuyaCHUUYA—!

It cried out to him, annoying and irritating and grating against his ears, demanding his attention. It cries out to him, even now. Especially now.

Just like before, when that voice knocked incessantly against the boundaries he had established for his solitude.

Right now, it cries out for him, breaking past the darkness surrounding him, and demanding that he come for him.

And just like that, something thumps from the outside, something inside his ribs letting out an answering thump.

Nakahara Chuuya opens his eyes and sees the entire world just outside his reach.

He sees that Dazai is bleeding—a sight that he hasn’t seen in quite some time—and he bangs against the golden cage holding him in, palms splayed out to catch the key that Dazai has thrown his way.

He’s suddenly filled with seething anger and he knows that he’s unravelling towards a direction that he’s been avoiding for so long, but—

—he’d rather fall than go back to being alone.

More importantly—

“My current dream is to be kicked to death by a tiny beauty who’s worried about me.”

—he still has to punch Dazai for this, or else he won’t get over it.

Everything around him is nothingness.

More accurately, everything around him: they’re all nothing to him.

Even a pureblood Vampire is still an earthly being in the end. Even a human with exemplary supernatural Abilities, is in the end, still a human. Even a spy born from centuries of curating Abilities is still a mere Ability User.

An unceasing roar—causing the earth to splinter, the air to shudder. Space itself trembles, as he plucks one of the world’s guiding laws and manipulates it to do his bidding. Bombs made of pure gravity sprout around him and they rain upon the intruders, tearing apart that which upon they land. Red liquid forms lengthy rivers, as the woods of the forest bend and the metal tools of the intruders melt.

All of these elements are nothing against the black fire that rends everything apart. The power that thrums underneath the plates of earth. The strength that boils the oceans upwards. The command over the weather that bears down from the heavens. The control over the law of gravity that not even the biggest, brightest stars can escape.

Black fire continues to burn and burn and burn, an event more catastrophic than any of the legends associated with him. The immense heat over the land and the air beckons sharp lightning to crackle against the skies. He breathes in the smoke and fire, the scent of destruction, and breathes out more of the black flames. Electric, silver lances of lightning bridge the ash clouds overhead and the cracked forest floor, feeding more heat and destructive energy around the area.

He raises a hand and catches, with almost-apathetic curiosity, one of the lightning bolts that rain down over what used to be a dense forest. It’s warm against his palm, as the sharp ridges of electricity softens into something that is unable to harm him. He uses the magnetic field formed from the electric current of the lightning buzzing around him and drags the nameless sword from the bottom of the lake to his waiting hand.

The sword flies to his hand, completely dry. Ah, the lake water must have been boiled already from all this commotion.

…No matter.

He swings the sword in front of him, and the space is cleaved apart. He doesn’t sense the three main intruders anymore—whether that means they’ve been ground to dust or they’ve managed to escape while clinging to their lives, it doesn’t matter to the beastly hunger inside of him.

The right to exist for those around him has been effectively nullified.

Around him are pleas for mercy, for justice, for fairness.

There are no such things, for gods do not operate under the same laws as these beings, for his very existence is the definition of unfairness, for there is no mercy for those that have caused harm to the person he loves.

Love.

As though summoned by the direction of his thoughts, cold, shivering fingertips brush against his cheek. A nullifying Ability pulses against him, it does not have any command over his powers as the god of catastrophe. It is effective in breaking past the tainted haze that has overridden his senses and control, pushing back against the absolute power that has corrupted him.

A simple touch, without any force or malice in them.

A simple, reverent touch, filled with bright promises and soft reassurances, a faint pulse that tells him that the other remains alive, despite his stunt.

A simple, affectionate touch that brings him back home.

And just like that, Arahabaki yawns, recedes and settles inside his gut, so it is Chuuya who turns around, balance and vision swaying dangerously. The last thing he sees is Dazai bleeding from the neck but otherwise whole, and he doesn’t even manage to verbalize his reproach of the totally unnecessary dramatics, before the fatigue from pulling his power at once after centuries of rest catches up to him, and drowns him in unconsciousness.

He’s miffed that he has to postpone punching Dazai for worrying him, but then again, he’s back home, and that’s all really that matters.

—   —   —   —   —
epilogue.

“My legs are dead,” Dazai says quickly as soon as he feels Chuuya’s breathing pattern change. “Absolutely dying. Chuuya, however can you make up for this?”

It’s been hours since Chuuya’s collapsed following his display of absolute power that totally did not make his mouth water and thirst simultaneously. It’s only because he’s lost blood in his attempt to anger Chuuya terribly enough to have more incentive to break out of the tiny box that must have felt like his natural habitat, small as he is. It’s only because of that reasonable explanation, that he snuck a bite against Chuuya’s neck after the other collapsed on him. Just a small bite, Chuuya’s small enough, he surely wouldn’t notice!

Because Chuuya likes to be contrary to his expectations in the strangest of ways, the first thing he does upon waking is to let out a long-suffering groan while rubbing at his neck, where the most recent bite has already healed. Blue eyes meet his easily when Chuuya shifts so that he’s resting more comfortably against his thigh. The cave they’re in is the one with the snake fossil trapped in its iced walls, one of the few structures that managed to survive the rampage—it’s cool and dark and really, Chuuya’s eyes have no business looking so bright as though he’s captured lightning and starlight earlier.

He waits for the other’s response, and it comes in the form of Chuuya raising both hands so that he’s cupping his face by the cheeks.

Well, he waits for exactly 5.1 seconds. Until now, he’s never realized he possesses a penchant for talking a lot, especially to buy himself time while he tries to figure out the situation. “Oh no, did all the lightning fry your braincells? That isn’t good, you already don’t have much. Fortunately for you, you have an amazing genius right here—”

Chuuya’s partiality for violent actions—that, he’s very much aware of.

“—ow, ow, ow, Chuuya, you’re going to twist my head off!”

“You didn’t seem so opposed with losing your head when you tried to slit your fucking throat, did you?!”

Dazai pauses in his lackluster attempt to pry Chuuya’s punishing grip off his face. In fact, it cannot even be called an attempt, because he’s also raised his own hands to trap the other’s hold against him, feels the thrum of the other’s pulse and anger born of worry. Kicked to death by a tiny beauty who’s worried about him is an impossible dream, mostly because he’s already accepted that there’s no way Chuuya would ever cause him permanent harm.

Thankfully, there’s a solid, sweeter reality right there with him.

Being scolded by a tiny beauty who’s worried about him is rather thrilling.

“Y-You—! Why the hell are you grinning like, like, like some lecherous pervert?! You look so stupid! I don’t want to see that annoying look—!”

Well, Chuuya can’t ever say that he never indulges him with what he wants.

Dazai bends over, ignores the pain on his waist, back and neck the action costs him, and kisses Chuuya soundly. He feels the flutter of eyelashes against his skin, as Chuuya exhales and lets out a relieved sigh, before kissing him back.

…Of course, because Dazai is Dazai, remaining in that position for too long is bound to make him feel all kinds of aches and dizziness that he does not quite enjoy. And of course, because Chuuya is Chuuya, he resumes his scolding right after. Dazai very generously doesn’t tell him that it really doesn’t work, because an angry Chuuya yelling at him all while sporting a flushed face and spit-slick lips only serves to make him want to anger him even more.

By the time Chuuya calms down a bit, Dazai has already managed to coax him to sit on his lap, because it is quite difficult to argue with someone who’s comfortably horizontal. It’s also easier to let his hands roam all over Chuuya’s body like this, the coat unbuttoned so that he can find purchase without having to deal with the problem of having to sew back torn clothing without proper materials.

“It’s such a stupid plan,” Chuuya complains for the seventh time. This time, he murmurs it with enough bite that tingles against his collarbone. “You say you’re such a genius, but it’s such a stupid plan.”

It is not a plan based completely on cold, hard logic, that Dazai can concede. He’s only ever known No Longer Human to work via direct skin contact, after all, so there was no guarantee that the nullification ability could be spread over his items and bandages.

No, the plan to break Chuuya out of the box that could apparently transport him to a closed-off world relied on one thing—and one thing only.

Chuuya’s desire to protect him, even from his own hand.

The Dazai of before would never have settled for such a half-baked plan… but then again, there’s nothing half-assed about Chuuya. There is no cold, hard logic to it, but he’s known it in his bones, in his blood. That Chuuya would come for him, no matter what.

They’ve done rather well with connecting to each other even without words, but this is something that he has to say.

Before he can second-guess himself for revealing something so vital, he whispers against Chuuya’s ear: “I did it because I believed in you.”

There’s no other word for it—Chuuya outright melts against him upon hearing that truth.

“I’m still mad,” comes a few moments later, but it’s filled with so much affection that it’s impossible to not melt right back against Chuuya, something akin to contented happiness filling the once-empty slot inside him.

For the first time since he’s set foot in Aokigahara, he witnesses actual sunshine, instead of the manipulated atmosphere that Chuuya’s created to protect his part-vampire characteristics.

Being part-vampire means that his susceptibility to being burned by the sun remains a partial affliction. He doesn’t tell Chuuya that, because it’s rather endearing watching the tiny chibikko wave his tiny arms around so he can bend the surroundings to his will and create some sort of moving umbrella over Dazai. It’s almost like a wedding parade, with him the lazy bride who lazes around an intricate carriage made of trees and flowers. It’s very fun, even though he suspects that Chuuya’s only doing this so he’d stop complaining about walking.

“Chibi~ chibi~ ah, I’m so high up, I can’t see you anymore~”

Chuuya shows him the finger as he continues to prowl on the ground, inspecting the area where he’s clashed against Mori-san and his entourage. It’s been completely ravaged, and Dazai wonders how the Japanese government would cover up such a large-scale destruction, especially so near the ever-popular Mount Fuji.

And then, his attention is caught by Chuuya suddenly jumping excitedly as he picks up—

Oh no.

“Hey, shitty Dazai, doesn’t this look cool?” Chuuya asks with the excitement of a child who’s discovered a new snack. On his head is a fedora with a red cloth wrapped around it, with an accompanying chain. It looks… it fits Chuuya well enough, though that can probably attributed to the way Chuuya is all bright grins and sparkling eyes right now. He looks really beautiful and Dazai itches with the need to bite every inch of his skin so that he’ll always carry an imprint of him. In fact, he starts to rise from his lazy sprawl and moves to jump down from the makeshift carriage so he can kiss the chibi under the sun. “It looks cool, right? Much cooler than your coat!”

...

“…Dazai?”

He huffs and crosses his arms over his chest. “It looks tacky. Don’t you know that hats can eat your brain? Unspeakably ugly.”

“Oi—!”

Dazai’s resolve to ignore Chuuya until he sees sense in that there’s nothing cool about an accessory belonging to an enemy crumbles by dinnertime.

“Crab with mushrooms… so you have some taste, after all.”

“Probably not if I’m shacking up with you,” Chuuya says with a derisive roll of his eyes. “If you try to steal my hat again, I’m going to let a crab pinch your cheeks, got it?”

Dazai promises with one finger crossed and stuffs his mouth full with Chuuya’s penance for deigning to wear another man’s clothing upon his person. He also makes dozens of plots for the fedora’s untimely demise, but that’s neither here nor there.

By the time they’re finished with dinner, Dazai gobbles up his dessert, the stars above them unable to rival the brilliance that he feels radiating from Chuuya’s body under him.

“…Urgh, I feel so sticky,” is what Chuuya says after, wincing in distaste at the mix of spit, blood and other bodily fluids all over him.

He never once complained about the blood draining and even though he knows it’s because he’s a supernatural creature like him, it never fails to make his chest twinge. Oh, of course Chuuya complains about so many things about him, but they’re mostly on what he calls ‘personality defects’, instead of things that he does not have control over. And even then, the complaints are laced with fondness, as though he really does enjoy each and every aspect of him.

Compared to the selfishness and capriciousness he’s witnessed on himself and on everyone else in this world, Chuuya’s brand of selfishness is—

Something that he wants to always be contained in.

For so long, he stood on the outskirts of humanity, an observer who remains an outcast to all of humanity’s intricacies. For the first time in his existence—in his life, he feels like he now has an idea of how it is to live a life of someone who call himself a human being.

Perhaps it’s a delayed reaction to the exhilaration upon having a confirmation that Chuuya will always do his best, even at a great cost, to always find his way back to him. Maybe he just really appreciates the fact that Chuuya’s finally relented on letting him eat mushrooms after hiding them for so long.

Right now—

“I don’t like the look on your face,” Chuuya says, but it’s with the air of a man resigned to spend the next eight hours fully ravished. “There is such a thing such as limits, you know?”

Dazai chuckles. “This comes from someone who changed an entire ecosystem for his dearest?”

“What ‘d-d-dearest’, there’s no such thing!” It really is such an interesting phenomenon, Chuuya being an ancient god who’s lived through unimaginable bloodshed and wars, still being flustered by romantic nicknames. A tsundere god of catastrophe, really. It’d be unbelievable if he doesn’t have a living proof of it wrapped in his arms.

Despite the verbal protests, Chuuya is the one who excitedly pulls on his arm when he suggests they try something new for their next round. Due to his desire to have a lake so he they can try underwater sex, the dried-out lake is refilled from a sudden, concentrated downpour.

Dazai pushes Chuuya down on the lake bank while they wait for the water level to rise sufficiently, filling Chuuya’s mouth with his tongue and their combined moans.

“I need to concentrate,” hisses Chuuya in-between kisses, “so I don’t end up flooding the entire city!”

It’s not a valid protest though – because if Chuuya really wants to, he can definitely shove him off. His hands cling to his back and shoulders and his legs wrap around his thighs, so Dazai elects to file the complaints as simply being part of the tsundere god package, like always.

The vampiric instinct inside of him sighs in contentment as he continues to taste the insides of Chuuya’s mouth. It’s something that he’s brought up to Chuuya the other day—the possibility that the vampire part of him is an entity much like Arahabaki, which might go on a rampage due to some unforeseen trigger. Chuuya assured him that he’d kick his ass if he ever attempts a bloodbath on anyone other than him—all suave confidence, before he ended up blushing up a storm as he very specifically denied that it’s not because he didn’t want Dazai’s mouth against anyone who’s not him.

And Chuuya really does enjoy kissing him, undeniable in the way his body sings with pleasure whenever their lips meet.

Possibly as part of the devouring instinct as a god of destruction. Maybe Chuuya has a kink for kissing. Dazai chooses to think of it as him just tasting that good.

“You’re thinking annoying things,” Chuuya grouses when he pulls his mouth away so he can trail nipping kisses across his jawline. “Stop it, bastard!”

“Mm, try me,” he challenges, then yelps because Chuuya does try him indeed, and rolls them over so that they’re both dumped into the lake.

The lakewater glows in shifting veils of aquamarine, as though the Northern Lights have been captured by the lake itself, green and teal tangling together to form ripples of color illuminated by the sky above. And then, there’s Chuuya, with his flame-red locks and bright blue eyes, laughing at him.

“You look like a wet dog,” Chuuya declares, even though he probably hasn’t even seen a wet dog in his entire lifetime. He clings to Dazai like the sticky slug that he is, their limbs tangled up like floating seaweed. They don’t sink despite their combined weight demanding it from the laws of physics. Chuuya raises a hand and plays with the longer tufts of his hair that sticks to his forehead. “Yeah, a wet dog, indeed.”

“You are so silly,” is the only response to such ridiculous assessments.

Since he doesn’t have to worry about keeping afloat thanks to Chuuya’s control over their surroundings, he shifts his focus on letting his hands drift lower so he can massage the firm globes of Chuuya’s ass, before letting his thumbs drift inward so he can caress the puckered hole. It’s still sensitive from their earlier romp, judging from the hiss that Chuuya doesn’t manage to stifle against his neck; it’s also still loosened up from the first round of their fucking, his fingers gliding in without much resistance. It’s a reminder that he’s somehow made his mark upon someone so willing to bear it—and he stretches Chuuya open with that thought in mind.

Chuuya’s propensity to be embarrassed by the strangest of things as well as his affinity for letting out straightforward words guaranteed to make his blood throb has him gasping a, “Use your cock, damn it,” when Dazai spends too long with teasing flicks against the area surrounding his prostate instead of touching it directly. And then, he buries his heated face against Dazai’s neck, an ineffective method in hiding his embarrassment.

…It’s quite adorable.

He stretches Chuuya open using his cock, as has been so adorably requested of him, sheating himself in the welcoming warmth until his balls slap against feverish skin. They stay like that, locked together while floating on the water—bridging together the heavens and the earth, the unreachable gods and the unfathomable humans—staying together as two unique entities that have managed to find each other.

“It’s nice like this,” Chuuya eventually says, sleepily content, as they mirror each other in wrapping their arms around each other’s waist.

It is nice, simply relishing in their connection.

He knows better than to agree with Chuuya, because it might make the other think that he’s evolved even more than a chibikko with hat for brains. So, he lets his head drift downwards, nosing along Chuuya’s neck, before settling against his shoulderblade, contentedly breathing him in.

Despite the tacky hat that Chuuya insists on wearing, his brain hasn’t degenerated enough to the point that he doesn’t understand Dazai’s suggestion to leave Aokigahara so they can live nearer to civilization, to Yokohama specifically.

“I’m certain that Mori-san and Dostoevsky managed to survive.” It is unthinkable for those two to not have contingencies, after all. He does not know the Transcendental personally, but one does not become included in that elite group of Ability Users without knowing a trick or ten. “They’re worse than cockroaches, really.”

“And a pest like you would know about that.”

“Ano ne, Chuuya, if there’s a cockroach between us, it’s definitely you?”

“Ha?! The fuck did you say?!”

Dazai hums, before enumerating: “You’re tiny, wearing black, can float around… I also want to step on you!”

“Rejected.”

Such a shame, when Dazai had suggested it last night, Chuuya went bright red at the implications. Now, he’s all business, as he inspects the walls of the cave that has served as their shelter for the past few days as they’ve discussed how to get back to the city.

Most of their discussion had been on what identity Chuuya would take upon ‘rejoining’ society, because he’d staunchly rejected Dazai’s wonderful suggestions. (The choices were: (a) Dazai’s husband, (b) Dazai’s wife, (c) Dazai’s pet, (d) Dazai’s servant. Very wonderful choices, the chibikko really has no taste, rejecting all of them.)

They’d finally settled on ‘foreigner boyfriend’, which should hopefully smooth out any questions as to why Chuuya has strange habits and some blanks on how humans normally act. Not that Dazai has any plans on letting Chuuya out of his sight enough for someone else to notice such things, but being prepared for contingencies is part of his personality… something that Chuuya understands, and so has indulged him with.

That brings them to this moment: the day when both of them will leave Aokigahara.

He’s avoided bringing this up before, but it seems like a betrayal if he doesn’t. “…We don’t have to go to Yokohama, you know. We can go anywhere in the world. Except Russia, because that’s Dostoevsky’s domain.”

Chuuya blinks as he picks up the charge-less flashlight and the near-empty matchbox, intent on making sure that they don’t leave any litter in the forest. He tilts his head. “But Yokohama is where you came from, right? I don’t mind protecting it for you.”

It’s Dazai’s turn to blink, though he does it rapidly against the sudden burn that he feels. He doesn’t have any lingering attachments to that city, truth be told. He simply wants to make things difficult for Mori-san… and he’s interested to know about the other gods that they’d mentioned. He feels like he’s known Chuuya forever, like he already knows everything important, but there’s a thirst inside of him, to know more and more. And if encountering these other gods can help him learn more about Chuuya, then…

…Plus, if there are humans researching how to entrap gods, then he wants to make sure that he can destroy their plans before they can think of using it against Chuuya again.

“…I’m worried about the god who’s the key to reality alteration. When I came down to earth, there hasn’t been a god like that yet, though I’ve heard they wanted to groom Byakko for it…”

Dazai shakes his head. This chibikko really is too much.

Chuuya notices the change in his expression and warily asks, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Like I want to kiss you and postpone our moving date to tomorrow?”

“Like you want to do something very irresponsible!” Chuuya crushes the flashlight and the matchbox to dust using gravity manipulation, as though to warn him off.

Dazai laughs and links their arms together, stepping out of the cave to start their journey to Yokohama.

They’re travelling light.

His wallet and his phone in his pocket. The compass and the bottle filled with sterilized lakewater inside Chuuya’s overcoat’s pocket. The tacky hat still on top of the walking hatrack. The two of them side-by-side. That’s pretty much everything their journey really needs.

Their footsteps are quiet and mostly soundless against the ground, their shoulders relaxed as they bicker lightly about inconsequential things.

They snipe at each other about how many bedsheets they’re going to eventually buy (Dazai’s suggestion is a hundred, because they’re bound to ruin them all eventually; Chuuya hits him in the arm for his blatant wastefulness). They argue as to what’s the more romantic flower between red roses and red camellias (Chuuya insists that red camellias have a tragic connotation, to which Dazai teases him a samurai-wannabe old man). They bicker about the better beverage between coffee and tea (Dazai tells Chuuya he’s unqualified to have an opinion, given that he hasn’t even tried single-origin coffees yet).

Their attention is so focused on each other, which is why both of them are a bit surprised when they bump into two people as they’re about to exit the boundary of the forest.

The naked desperation on the duo’s similar-looking faces—siblings?—is more noteworthy than the fact that both of them respond to meeting another pair of people with head-on attacks. One of them is an Ability User, a black mass of shadow with sharp teeth snapping up towards them from the man’s clothes. The younger sister doesn’t seem to be, though she’s relatively quick with the draw of her knives. They’d be both quicker and deadlier with proper training, but as such, Chuuya simply has to raise a hand to force both of them to heel.

“Rashomon,” the man hisses with the hoarseness of someone who hasn’t had anything to drink for days, “Rashomon!”

Rashomon seems to be the name of his Ability, that’s been rendered useless against the invisible barrier made of gravitational force that has automatically settled over their perimeter.

“Brother,” the sister seems to be the more composed—or rather, more resigned—between them, as she tries to bear the gravity pushing down on them with as much dignity as she could.

They have the haunted look of someone who’s aimless and floundering. It reminds Dazai of himself when he entered this forest so long ago. The mix of apathy and negativity that shaped his outlook on his life.

The things that he’s discarded, as he’s been changed. By his own realizations, by Chuuya, by love.

And before he can even make a hash out of things, Chuuya’s sensed his intentions, because he then smiles and offers the bottle of water to the one acting like a rabid dog.

“Are you guys lost? If you are, you can travel with us in the meantime since we’re on our way to the city.”

“…We’re lost, aren’t we.”

Dazai waves his finger over Chuuya’s nose. “Fufufu, there are times when the path that you must take will show itself to you~”

Chuuya snaps at his finger and bites the tip, before spitting it out and snarling, “Y-You! You said that you’d handle this! And now you’re telling me that you’re just going to use my help in sensing the right direction!”

“Now, now,” Dazai brings the reddened finger to his mouth, completing their indirect kiss. From behind Chuuya, he can see the Akutagawa siblings valiantly fighting off to reveal anything on their faces. Ah, he’s been leading them in circles because he wanted to see if the two had ulterior motives, but it seems like they really are just a pair of kids running away from the trouble caused by The Guild, instead of new assassins sent by Mori-san. “I tried to focus on the directions, but the roads in the maps I memorized all lead to you, chibikko~”

Chuuya blushes, then kicks his shin. “Your mental map is a steaming pile of garbage, that’s what it is!”

“Ah, don’t be mad, Chuuya, you know how hot and bothered it makes me when you’re all angry,” Dazai says slyly, then grabs Chuuya’s flailing hand before it can punch him for shamelessness in front of an audience. In his opinion, the chibikko is more shameless, flitting around while wearing the overcoat and nothing else underneath. It really is such a shame they’re going to the city soon, which means that it’d be harder to trick Chuuya into thinking that the ‘going commando fashion’ is a normal trend.

“That just makes me angrier,” Chuuya hisses and kicks him again, but allows Dazai to lace their fingers together anyway.

“Mm, got it, got it,” Dazai says, before tilting his head sideways so he can drop a quick kiss over the other’s brow. He squeezes the other’s hand and when he feels the answering squeeze, he murmurs, “We’ll have to move fast then, so the sooner we can get home.”

Above them, the stars burn bright.

—   —   —   —   —
end: polaris.
love is a steadfast star that leads us home;