Work Header

Puppet Strings

Work Text:

The first thing Dazai saw when he woke up from what he assumed would be his eternal rest were violet eyes. He shifted his neglected creaking self up to a sitting position. “Ow.”

“So you can talk,” the physician said, as he grinned down on him. Dazai shifted uncomfortably and observed his surroundings. It appeared to be a storage space, musty and half-rotted filled with odds and ends. In the corner across from him stood a painted aged rocking horse. “Do you have a name, poppet.”

He made a quick calculation before speaking, “Dazai, Dazai Osamu.” His voice was rough with disuse, but strangely since waking he had yet to crave water, something he was comfortable with subsisting from, but usually sat in the back of his throat like an uncomfortable burr. For some reason, he felt as though he was forgetting something, which made him uneasy because his memory never failed him. Something was wrong. He revisited his memories before waking up and found the last thing he remembered was sinking into the water’s cool embrace and then nothing.

“Well, Dazai-kun I believe I can provide some needed assistance.” Ruffled by the man’s arrogance, he almost rebutted before stopping himself, as he realized he was very much out of his depth. It would probably be best to follow him, at least until he could slip away to throw himself off a building. Cocking his head he peered at the doctor with vacant crimson eyes and nodded decisively.

The man gleamed with a sacrilegious look and beckoned Dazai to follow him. Dazai stood only to find his clothes disintegrating as he moved. He coughed, the sound reverberating strangely in his throat, the movement prompting the doctor to turn around. “Yes, my dear.” To his credit, the doctor immediately caught on and swiftly wrapped his coat around Dazai. It felt cloying.

As they stepped outside, Dazai realized things were very different. There were cars, yes but they moved much faster than they used to. Instead of hulking machines, they were like racehorses slim and streamlined. There were lights everywhere. Everything was so bright and fast. It made him dizzy. What had happened while he was under? It was all so different. The doctor moved him into a sleek black car before getting in on the driver’s side. Dazai tried to disguise his shock and curiosity as boredom while the doctor drove. He felt like he wasn’t succeeding. After a few minutes, he took to observing the doctor while memorizing the streets taken. The man was shaven in a haphazard-esque way, though his clothes were fine and he moved like he was well trained. Military possibly? He definitely wasn’t just a doctor. When the man had wrapped his coat around him he had felt the pull of an ability at his own. Whoever this man was he was dangerous. That much Dazai knew for certain.

The doctor pulled into a somewhat unsavory area and parked the car. “Well, Dazai-kun it’s not much but here’s my home and clinic.” The man smiled insincerely and prompted him inside. The man wasn’t wrong, it was not a palace, but it was sterile, clean in a medical facility sort of way. Judging from the lack of advertisement out front the man was likely underground. He wondered if the man was planning on chopping him up. Maybe he could get a large dose of morphine? He wouldn’t even protest.

Though it sadly appeared to not be the case. The doctor led him through the clinic and into a smallish apartment. “Well, Dazai-kun here we are. If you’d like to take a seat I can go get some clothes and start a bath. Dazai sat down on the leather couch on the far end of the room just to be obstinate, curious how the man would react. To his dismay, the only reaction he gleaned from the man was a slight twist of pleasure and intrigue similar to a boy pulling off a butterfly's wings. In an attempt to regain the other hand, Dazai asked, “Do you have a name, Sensei? Or should I just call you Sensei?”

“Mori Ogai Dazai-kun, but you can call me Mori-Sensei if you’d like.” It was not a suggestion. Dazai nodded and held his glance determined to not look away first. Finally, after a far too long moment, Mori smiled and moved away.

A blond child popped out of one of the rooms and made her way towards Dazai, with a pouting look on her face. Ugh, he hated rich brats. “Rintarou, why did you bring home a stray?” She whined and Dazai realized what was wrong. It was too manufactured to be real, was she like him or … He reached a hand out and touched her causing her to vanish.

Mori re-entered the room holding a pile of clothes. “These might be a bit big, but it’s the best I can do on such short notice and I’m afraid you’re a bit too tall for Elise’s dresses.” He looked up at Dazai as Elise reappeared an upset look on her uncanny face.

Rintarou, he … he made me disappear!”

“Oh.” Mori looked intrigued and reached a hand out towards Dazai to hand him the clothes and touch him. As he did the doll vanished leaving Mori and Dazai looking at each other. Mori gave a disturbing grin. “How interesting. What is your ability Dazai-kun?”

“No Longer Human,” Dazai muttered blankly, “it nullifies any ability it touches.”

“How fitting.” Disliking the look in the doctor’s eyes he turned to change. He moved quickly not wanting to display the scars marking his body for long. But as he moved to pull on the oversized shirt the doctor had given him he noticed the scar in his shoulder from a squabble with a local street gang felt off. He checked it over quickly and found the scar was there, but as he touched it he could register only a dull ache instead of the sharp stabbing pain it usually caused him. What was wrong with him?

He finished putting the clothes on and tried to uncover what was different. He had never been good at connecting sensation to his mind and tended to feel adrift from his body, but this was entirely different. It felt as though he was in a body made of glass, brittle, and unreceptive. Things were very wrong, and he didn’t know why. Had he died and then been brought back? Was this even his original body? Why would someone bring him back when all he longed for was death? His mind raced through the possibilities. He had never thought about what his corpse would be like in death, only that he would be gone. Could No Longer Human have stopped working leading someone else to use their ability to bring him back? He had never experimented much with his ability given it was the bane of his existence, but now he was regretting it. Hands clapped bringing him out of his thoughts as the doctor looked down at him. “Well, Dazai-kun now that you’re cleaned up how about some food? You must be hungry?”

Determined not to show any weakness, he settled with, “If you wish.”

Mori then led him to the table and began puttering around the kitchen. The man didn’t look like someone who should cook, but who else would then? Across the table from him sat Elise who was glaring at him and sulking. Ensuring he was in Mori’s blindspot he stuck his tongue out. She huffed.
Not much later dinner sat on the table and Dazai still hadn’t taken a bite. Elise was whining about cake or something as he stared at the bowl moving the rice around with his chopsticks. He hated eating. Mori looked at him and asked, “Is there something wrong with your food, Dazai-kun?”

At that Dazai pushed through his distaste and pushed a spoonful of rice into his mouth. He gagged. It tasted wrong. Like chewing cement. He had never been picky for meals when he got them, so why did this taste so vile?

“Ew!” Elise grimaced.

“Are you alright Dazai.”

“Mmn, I’m not hungry.” He swallowed the bite of lumpy rice and moved to take a glass of water. The drink tasted like nothing, and he pondered again over what had happened to him. He could tell the doctor was satisfied at something though, so he had a feeling he should try to glean information from him. “Mori-sensei, what era is this?

“The Heisei era.” That meant he had been in that storage place for some time. “I expect that you’ve been asleep for quite some time, Dazai-kun. Do you remember what timeframe you were in prior to meeting me.”

Dazai unfortunately had to rely on Mori right now, so he replied, “Taisho.”

“Hmm You’ve missed quite a bit then. I’ll give you some time to let it sink in.” Mori stood to clear the table.

“Mori-Sensei could I have some bandages?”

“That’s all? Of course, my dear.”

Dazai laid awake in Mori’s guest bed that night trying and failing to count his heartbeats. Was he even human anymore? Was he ever?


Dazai had been at Mori’s for two weeks now. The world he had known had faded into time and with it his knowledge. He had stuck around the clinic to gather information and figure out the body he was trapped in. Mostly reading the books Mori had on hand and trying to learn his new body’s limitations. He didn’t need to eat or drink though he could. He usually collapsed after 20 hours awake if he didn’t sleep. So far he had determined that he had been brought back with an ability that gave him sentience but made him more of a living corpse than anything else. He had been trying to absorb as much information as possible in an attempt to prevent his resurrection after his next death, but likely he wouldn’t return again since it had been years since his first death and the ability user who brought him back was likely in the grave. Mori had agreed with his conclusions, though it remained unclear if he would continue aging or eventually begin to rot. Was he a puppet now, who knows?

He had been watching Mori operate on various gang members who came through finding the internal organs fascinating. But it was time to put his plan into place. Last time he drowned leaving a whole body for someone to use. Now he had to ensure his body was irrecoverable or at the very least too damaged to use.
As Mori became preoccupied with the latest influx of injured, Dazai slipped out the back. Clutching his stolen jacket, he strolled at an even pace to the sea. No one spared him a second glance. Ah, he was right. Looking down at the water from the cliffside he saw numerous sharp rocks for him to hit and shatter on. This was the most practical choice given that even if Mori or someone else did find him, it would be difficult to recover his body and likely would be swept into the sea in pieces. Not the most pleasant way to go, sure. But he had loosened his restrictions following his last death. He climbed over the railing and threw himself down.

The next thing he saw is the familiar ceiling of Mori’s clinic. He groaned and turned over. “Are you awake, Dazai-kun? I honestly wasn’t sure if you were going to wake, but your body restored itself fairly quickly.”

Dazai sat up, “I didn’t die.”

“No, you did not.”

“How, unfortunate… Did you know?”

“Know you were going to throw yourself off of a cliff?”

“You know what I mean.” Dazai shot back.

“Yes, well I had my suspicions, given the lack of nutrients your body needs. It took 24 hours for your body to restore itself completely and awaken. It looks like the ability that brought you to life regenerates once you die even with No Longer Human. It’s truly a fascinating ability. I would love to meet the person who made it.”
“Hmm.” Dazai despaired internally. Why would anyone curse him with this continued existence? He would like to find the person who did this and disembowel them or at minimum undo their ability. Fuck. Likely whoever had done it was dead and gone. Looks like death would not come easy to him a second time. But then again when did it? Mori patted him on the head then left to get back to his work.

Dazai was left to ponder how to die when Elise looked up at him from where she sat, drawing on the floor, a picture of her and Mori and next to them a crudely drawn bandaged figure he assumed was himself, “He’s never going to get rid of you, you know. You‘re ours now.” Dazai sneered and looked away, as he tried to ignore the growing pit in his stomach that Elise’s words struck. He had a feeling that any attempts to leave Mori’s side would quickly get thwarted. Mori had watched him with an expression similar to what some of the street girls got. Having had a brand new doll fall into his lap was definitely something he would consider a victory. Even a few days with him had told Dazai that much. Dazai wished he had never woken up. Maybe that way he wouldn’t be trapped in this hell. But then again it likely wouldn’t have been much better. He resigned himself to stay for now unsure of where else he could go.


Yokohama would have destroyed itself. Normally Dazai wouldn’t have cared, but this was an opportunity for him, so he hatched a plan. Mori a few months into his stay explained to Dazai he was looking for an item called The Book which supposedly could alter reality. Dazai believed he might have heard whispers about it prior to his first death. So, Dazai engineered a scheme to have Mori become the Port Mafia boss granting Dazai more reach to find the ability user who resurrected him or find The Book to end his miserable existence. He still attempted suicide frequently hoping for the healing to eventually stop, and at the very least getting break from his thoughts.

He and Mori had spent weeks figuring out what best way to eliminate the boss and gain power. It was honestly, in many ways riveting. Mori had a mind to match his own and in this at least they were equals. He hadn’t realized the longing he had for intellectual stimulation until now. In some ways, he thought that Mori was truly the only one who understood him.

Mori would treat his suicidal tendencies with wry humor only becoming irritated if they inconvenienced him.

Now, as a member of the Port Mafia under Mori and he in many ways had more control over his life though Mori’s coat still smothered him. Perhaps here he could understand why they all wanted to live so badly. He could only hope.

His day began like most days in the Port Mafia, with violence and business meetings.

The organization he was meeting with was a two-bit yakuza group hoping to step a foot into Yokohama. Honestly, these meetings were a bore, but Mori had deemed it necessary to send him to diplomatically handle them. He took a fair number of his better-trained subordinates with him though as he sent through the driveling gratuities he wished he could just shoot them. What they were trying to offer the Port Mafia wasn’t much better than other groups hoping to gain a foothold with them and in all likelihood was an exaggeration of their capabilities. He told them as such and one of the men in the middle left seat who he had noticed earlier watching him with disdain blew up. “Who are you to tell us what to do! Did the Port Mafia really send a child to do their negotiations? How pathetic-” His voice cut off as Dazai shot his gun at him point-blank, bored with the mindless chatter. Several members of the group began to pull out their weapons, but Dazai’s men perfectly trained did so as well. The yakuza group stood down aware of being outnumbered.

“Well, does anyone else have any complaints they’d like me to address,” he intoned. Pulling out some papers from his coat, he slid them to their boss, “I trust you’ll find the terms acceptable.” Following another half hour of talk and explanations, the tattooed head looked it over and signed the contract. “Gentlemen,” at this Dazai nodded and turned to leave, trusting his men guarding his back.

He went back to his office to go over some paperwork and review some reports. Unfortunately, this was the least favorite part of his day and he had at least four hours of work to do before he could leave. He would normally push it off to someone else, but Chuuya was out of the country and while his men were useful in combat and for information gathering, he’d rather keep the work someplace secure.

As he opened his office door he noticed a light pink envelope on his desk with his name in ornate calligraphy. Knowing only one person the handwriting could possibly belong to he swallowed his dismay and opened it. It had a sickeningly sweet smell and it read, “Dazai-kun if you could please come to my office before o’1700.” It wasn’t a request and Dazai knew better than to ignore it. Glancing at the clock he saw he had little over half an hour before o’1700. Ability to concentrate thoroughly ruined he focused on calming his nerves and removing any potential weaknesses the boss could exploit. His mind quickly ran through the possibilities for the boss wanting to meet with him. Before he could completely panic he saw the clock approached 1700 and went to the elevator to go to the boss’s floor.

He opened the door without knocking. “Dazai-kun come right in.” Mori smiled at him from where he was sitting in his armchair.

“Did you need me for something, boss.” Dazai kept his eyes on Mori cautiously.

“No small talk? Well, I have a meeting soon and I thought it would be nice to have some company.”

Dazai didn’t respond, and Mori’s smile just grew wider. “However, unfortunately, my guest wasn’t expecting anyone else so if you wouldn’t mind being a silent observer that would be nice.” Mori stood up, clapping his hands walking over to an ornate wood ottoman. He opened it and gestured to Dazai.

Dazai swallowed as subtly as possible. He hated being in enclosed spaces which Mori knew considering occasionally as a punishment he’d leave Dazai in a locked room for days on end. Noticing the gleam in Mori’s eye and having weighed the consequences he stepped inside it, though not without remarking on Mori’s dramatic tendencies. Mori chuckled and closed the lid leaving him enclosed in total darkness. He stopped existing at that moment and focused on Mori’s footsteps and began recalling prime numbers. He had gotten up to 113 when he heard Mori get up and open the door.

“Ogai.” A woman’s voice called out, one he immediately recognized. Why had Dazai been ordered to sit in on Mori’s meeting with Kouyou?

The first time he met Kouyou she had passed him over coldly only pausing to ruffle his hair on the way out.

They made small talk as Dazai stayed perfectly still, listening with a passive interest in the conversation when he heard her ask Mori delicately, “I beg your pardon, Ogai but I have to ask: what is Dazai exactly? I’ve noticed the lack of change in his appearance in the past two years and I am not the only one who has. I was unaware that your ability could have multiple aspects.” Dazai processed that and shuddered. The only thing worse than being Mori’s subordinate would be being his ability. It disturbed him to think others would think that of him.

Mori sighed, “Well truth be told Dazai-kun is rather unique. He is in fact the product of an ability, but not my own. I do not know what happened to Dazai’s actual creator, but his lifelikeness is remarkable. Though I do question some of the tendencies they instilled him with.”

They both chuckled at that. “How strange indeed.”

“Dazai is at least right now one of a kind and there currently exists no loyalty to his creator as far as I’ve observed. Dazai-kun will likely be a valuable asset to the Port Mafia for a long time and has proven to be a good partner to Chuuya-kun.” With a few words, Mori had dissuaded Kouyou’s fears and confirmed Dazai’s value to the mafia even if he were a walking time bomb. Along with confirming both the respect Dazai held along with a state of inferiority he had of being less than human to justify Kouyou's inherent dislike of him. His compliments to Mori-san. His answers had confirmed some of Dazai’s own theories, but it was clear he was obscuring the independence Dazai held.

Likely if Dazai ever did turn Mori could blame an external boogeyman and keep him confined with few complaints. What's more, some of Kouyou’s hesitation in sending Dazai as the lead on some of the intense missions Soukoko had or on solo missions would be alleviated. Besides, likely the idea of Dazai being inhuman would spread which combined with his unnatural recovery rate and looks would drive fear into both enemies and allies alike. Dazai remained under Mori’s desk utterly still listening as their chat dissolved into small talk.

Once Kouyou left he moved stretching, “Well boss you really do plan for everything.”

“I should hope so, Dazai-kun.”

“And here I thought I should worry about you getting dementia.”

“Ah, you wound me.” Dazai smiled at that and turned away.

“I’m going to go bother my subordinates.”

“Oh, yes you recently acquired a new one.”

“He has potential, Boss.” At that Dazai hoped to be dismissed, but instead, Mori gathered his papers and locked his safe, turned to Dazai.

“Well, Dazai-kun let’s go home.” Dazai fought against the urge to fidget and moved to follow Mori out of the office.

Mori lived a few stories above his office for security reasons in a rather nice penthouse, although Dazai felt it was a bit sybaritic. As they got into the apartment, Dazai began to dissociate. Elise wasn’t here which never meant good things for him. He didn’t like the brat but at least when she was here Mori’s attention wouldn’t be on him. He missed the next words Mori spoke to him and he came to with a hit across his cheek, cut stinging as it dripped blood from Mori’s ring. It wouldn’t heal until he died.

Mori grabbed him by the wrist and crooned about some new outfits he had ordered specifically for his poppet as he led Dazai to the bedroom. Dazai didn’t resist retreating into that numbness. Once there he began to mechanically strip knowing better than to refuse. He took off his coat and underclothes leaving him only clad in underwear and his bandages. It would be fine if he didn’t take them off. He would have to at some point, but the less time he spent vulnerable the better.

Dazai stared at Mori’s back willing him to drop dead. Sadly it seemed his wish would not be granted. Mori was shifting through layers of tulle and chiffon he had gotten as Dazai sat on the leather couch adorned only in bandages and his underwear. It was only after the old mafia boss’s death that Mori had gotten more sadistic despite having less time for Dazai. Before was simply unwanted caresses and overt glances. Mori had been busy as of late with reestablishing the mafia under his control leading him to destress through Dazai and Elise. It was tempting to let Mori spend exorbitant sums on dresses and cake, but someone had to be the adult here, so Dazai typically ribbed Mori on his expenditures. Unfortunately the minute increase in budget had led to Mori spending more on clothes for Dazai as well. Ugh.

Since Mori had established his control over the mafia he undoubtedly acted how he wished given the difficulties Dazai would have in undermining his grasp.
“Ah,” Mori exclaimed, before pulling up a long sleeved lace black dress with an open back. Mori turned to face him. He didn’t bother protesting. “What do you think poppet?”

“As ugly as all the others.” Dazai reluctantly bit out, knowing better than to try to prevent the inevitable. At that Mori grinned wider and Dazai deigned to slip into his mind as Mori dressed him.

Later that evening, Mori had Dazai sit in his lap as he ate dinner and then carried him to the bath, Mori placed Dazai on the marble bench in front of the large tub before carefully undressing him. The man marveled at his skin taking his scalpel to apply meticulous cuts to Dazai’s skin above the collar bones and down the length of his body and thighs. Satisfied with his mark making, Mori took a cloth to wipe at the welling blood and lifted him into the bath. The water stung as Dazai was lowered in and turned a pinkish color. Blood mixing with water.

Mori then left him to soak as he left to do some work and leave Dazai waiting for him. He knew this was the part Mori loved the most. Knowing that Dazai didn’t exist outside of what Mori did to him. That he was in limbo waiting for Mori to return. Half an hour passed when Mori returned, moving to drain the tub and rinse Dazai off. The man then pressed a kiss to his forehead as Dazai stared blankly at him before Mori put his hands on his waist and pushed him against the wall. Dazai ignored what happened next, staring at the ceiling allowing his body to be manhandled, cuts still open.

Only Mori hurt him so tenderly.

When he was done he brought Dazai to his bedroom having Dazai sit on a chair wrapping his bandages. Mori then led him by the arm to the bed and slipped into bed behind him. He heard Mori murmur, “It’s a shame the marks don’t last long, but we will just have to make some more.” It was at this point Dazai let sleep take him, too tired to despise himself.

In the morning, Dazai left before breakfast and left numbly hoping Mori would be too busy to call him back for a few days.

He went back to his apartment only two floors from Mori’s (because he never was too far from the man) and scrubbed at himself in the shower till blood welled and yet he still felt the stain of Mori’s fingers on his hips and spine. It made the empty clawing nauseousness inside his chest grow. He felt vile, he wanted to peel off his skin.

Nevertheless, when he stepped out of the shower he wrapped himself in bandages and dressed. Dazai slipped on his coat becoming the demon prodigy once more.