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“Are you serious?”

Chuuya has, quite literally and on multiple occasions, nearly died for the man in front of him, but there is no way he is getting anywhere near the shoreline in the middle of a workday.

Of course, Dazai is already peeling his loafers off when he bothers to respond, in a tone completely unbefitting a twenty-three year old man, “Last one to touch the ocean is a slug-faced dog!”

And now Chuuya is by all means, an even older adult, so it’s not as though the point of them even being here is lost on him. After all, they’re on loose orders to keep watch around Kamakura; something about a potential Transcendental sighting in the area. Really, it’s enough for their organizations to agree to work together but—

Goddamnit, Dazai started it!

Chuuya kicks off his shoes, ditches his overcoat, and breaks into a run for the railing; forgoes the stairs in favor of pushing himself off the steel bar and leaping into flight. Oh , he is definitely winning this. Hah. Slug-faced dog? He’s going to make that useless heap of bandages bark until h–

A triumphant yell pierces through the air, loud enough for the hairs on his nape to stand on end.

Chuuya spins around just in time for a pair of spindly arms to wrap around his torso.

Fuck.

Then, of course, they are both falling—tumbling down onto the hot sand of Koshigoe beach in their work clothes. Or at least, Chuuya’s in his work clothes. Dazai’s in his poor excuse for inconspicuous attire; except, you know, nothing is inconspicuous if half your appendages are wrapped in gauze.

He’s really going to kill somebody if he finds sand in his hat later. Preferably, it will be the person who is, at the moment, waving it above his face like a damn octopus.

“Did you want to die today?”

The bastard keeps laughing. “Flirting won’t get you anywhere!” Dazai tuts unconvincingly, “You were cheating!”

As though he hadn’t just shifted to cover most of their fall, Chuuya threatens, “I’m going to kill you.”

Dazai’s eyes narrow in challenge. “Oho? And how are you going to do that?”

Without missing a beat, he mouths back, “Hands around your neck.”

The pile of garbage sitting on him actually starts vibrating. “Ah, I told you to stop flirting!”

Chuuya shrugs. “Give me my hat back.”

And he knows an evil grin when he sees one, so Chuuya has his arms below him before Dazai can dare to say, “Catch,” but his fedora gets swept into an updraft, anyway.

“Oi!”

Chuuya’s on both feet in seconds, jumping to reach before it touches the ground. The wind doesn’t actually do much to deter him, of course. He turns to give Dazai the finger once he’s got it back on his head securely, but finds the other at the edge of the shore. 

Already dipping his toes in.

Fuck this guy, seriously. 

“As expected, nothing beats playing fetch with my dog~” he sings, like an asshole.

To that extent, Chuuya resists the urge to let out anything resembling a growl. Instead, he settles for an audacious, “How does being mauled to death sound?”

Dazai has the nerve to wink at him. “Perfect.”

Now contrary to popular belief, Dazai does not have exactly zero self-preservation instincts. Chuuya can vouch for, at the very least, a score of one. Over a hundred. But it’s still enough for him to offer ice cream in return for the stint. Who is Chuuya to refuse now?



-



Strawberry and chocolate acquired, they make their way back to the shoreline; trying (and failing) to trip each other the entire stretch.

“If you’ve charged these to me somehow, I’ll release your bank records to the public.”

“Scary.” Dazai swipes a leg below him but Chuuya dodges it breezily, making sure not to drip cream anywhere. 

They settle down further along the beach, right where the tide is close enough to touch and the sand is damp enough to keep other visitors away. At this point, their clothes have been ruined anyway.

“I’ll have you know I bought them with my modest worker’s minimum wage.” The bastard tuts, as though his track record does not spell the word freeloader in bold, neon letters.

“Is that right now?” Despite himself, Chuuya contemplates doubling back to give the stall’s owner a bigger tip. Just in case. 

Dazai rolls his eyes. “I’ll show you your wallet to prove it.”

Chuuya doesn’t even bother checking. Instead, he rolls his eyes right back. “In the first place, why the hell do you have my wallet?”

Dazai lifts one side of his coat and sure enough, there is a wallet-sized bump in his inner pocket. “I’m keeping it safe from the pickpockets of the world.”

He refuses to have a forcibly induced migraine today, no, not when he’s already here. Nevermind that Chuuya felt the start of a headache root itself days ago when this mission was assigned. He gives the bastard a flick on the ear. “You are the pickpockets of the world.”

The wallet isn’t returned to him; but Dazai keeps the smile on his face, truly serene. “From the other pickpockets of the world.”

He doesn’t even bother to throw an insult back at Chuuya. Which is, of course, welcome, but still surprising.  “What is up with you today?”

A slight tilt to the head, and two stupid brown eyes blinking at him, stupidly. “Is there something wrong with me?”

“No,” Chuuya suppresses the urge to punch the very punchable face before him, pulls both legs to his chest and sighs. “That’s the thing.”

Dazai smiles at him a little ruefully, the corners of his eyes crinkling; and if Chuuya were any other person in the world he might have believed something thoughtful would really come out of his mouth when he says, “I can’t actually understand dogspeak, you know.”

Chuuya isn’t any other person, though, so he isn’t unprepared to bite back a simple— “Fuck you.”  

“Alright. But later. ” Dazai only nods, and bites a chunk out of his sugarcone.

So weird. Chuuya says as much. “See? You’re being weird.”

That same pensive smile stretches across the other’s face, but this time Dazai rests his eyes shut for just a second before looking away, as if to come off nonchalant even as he asks, “How so?”

Even with all the weirdness today, bastards will always be bastards.

Chuuya narrows his own eyes in suspicion. He even sniffs at the air, but there’s only one real answer here; it’s not as though Dazai can exceed his usual levels of weirdness any other way, so he concludes, “You’re happy.”

Without meeting eyes, Dazai blows into his hair a softly and the tension in his shoulders eases. He looks out towards the water, gaze visibly wavering. “Am I now?”

Bullseye. Chuuya leans in to a degree that he’s been told pretty much violates any regard for personal space; up until he can get a good look at Dazai’s features and stick a finger against his cheek.

“You are.”

It’s not as though Dazai has ever had any qualms with invading space either, so he doesn’t flinch, only shuts his eyes back in defeat, “I am,” and smiles, looking far away. “Is that bad?”

The waves are cool lapping against his feet, and Chuuya kicks up a little splash. “No.” He pokes a small bit of the water and has it float near his face, watching the sunlight’s reflection shine through its surface. “Just different.”

Dazai lifts a hand to his hair and tracks the pocket of liquid with his eyes as it wobbles. “I like it here.”

Snorting, Chuuya guides the circle over to his side so the asshole can see better. “‘Cause you're closer to your kind?”

With a touch from the edge of Dazai’s pinkie, the water plops back onto the shore. “Now why did you have to say it like that?”

“Heh.”

Now entertained enough to care, he wipes some specks of sand off from the other’s cheeks with his thumb. Dazai pushes the front of his bangs up to have Chuuya inspect his forehead too, but it’s clear of anything but pale skin.

“You know, the horizon from this place is an illusion.” Dazai flattens his hair back down and squints at Chuuya’s own. “I feel like it stretches further every time I see it.”

Unbothered by the slimey hand-tentacles now descending on his skull, Chuuya takes their trash and shoots it over to a bin, thinking. 

“Stop for a bit,” he decides, “Let me try something.”

Standing, he edges away from Dazai incase the bastard decides to pull anything just because ; then, a safe distance away, wills himself off the ground and up into the deepening blue.

Higher, he thinks, higher he’s gone past the clouds before. Where the air is much thinner, the sun warmer even near sunset; Chuuya does not slow until his partner is small enough to quash beneath his soles. He entertains that thought for only a second, though, because he’s got something to test.

The horizon line stretches even at this height, waters clear but melding together in familiar hues of pink and orange. There was a time he used to chase it, but he’s quite content to stay where he is now. Enoshima is definitely a sight to behold; but it isn't his first time here, nor will it be his last.

He means to head back down to the beach immediately, but allows himself to linger the last few feet of the way, sure not to make a sound.

Dazai is not, by any means, religious, but Chuuya has seen enough to know what praying looks like when he sees it. Not to any god, of course, never. But likely to ghosts long past. The expression on his face is different from earlier, Chuuya knows, this is one of regret—of grieving acceptance. And suddenly, he feels, it is a hundred times more difficult to breathe than when he was altitudes above.

Fuck this guy, he thinks, again. Fuck this guy so much.

With far less of a gloat and much more like an attempt to sound as though he didn’t notice anything, Chuuya touches his feet to the ground and declares, “It looked the same to me.”

For his part, Dazai doesn’t show any sign of rattle or knowingness at being watched, only his usual snark and idle. “What I said obviously doesn’t apply to flying aliens.”

Chuuya flops down on his back and heaves the bastard’s thighs down to support his head, making sure to keep his hat above his chest. “There are better things that I want to see change, anyway.” He huffs, shuts his eyes, and tugs at Dazai’s hands to guide them back to his hair.

Dazai presses a finger to his temple, tracing away the strands of stray auburn on his face from there. “Oh?” he exclaims, “Now who’s the happy one?”

“Preferably?” Thoroughly indulging in the impromptu massage, Chuuya doesn’t hesitate when he responds, “Still you.”

The hands on his scalp stop moving, but he doesn’t have to look up to know it’s because Dazai has them clasped together in shock. “Ah, you’re really going to kill me, aren’t you?”

“That’s the plan.”

Pressure against his temples felt once more, Chuuya understands this is going to be a hostage situation when the asshole demands, “For how long now?”

Naturally, he’s prepared for it. Biting back a grin, he counters, “If I told you, you’d actually kick it.”

“Waaah,” At this, Chuuya does peek one eye open; and sure enough, Dazai has his face in his stupid bandanged hands, a healthy pink glowing across the tips of his ears.

It’s unacceptable, really.

“Are you gonna show me your face or should I take a photo of you like this and use it as blackmail later?”

Dazai splits his fingers apart just enough so Chuuya can make out a glare he’s trying to pass off as accusing. “If you’re going to be like this then we need to break up.”

“Okay,” he almost laughs at the idea of Dazai acting so terribly but really, it’s too fun to keep annoying this person, so he adds, “Right after you delete all the unflattering photos you have of me.”

Dazai barely pauses when he retorts, “Why would I have such things?”

Still, it was there; and again, Chuuya knows what an evil grin looks like so it’s not hard to emulate when he actually wants to do it. “Oh?” he plucks a small device from under his vest and bypasses the passcodes easily, “Then I guess you won’t mind if I delete the whole album now.”

“Did you really just steal my phone?!”

Chuuya tuts. “I didn’t steal anything.” He pulls the most obnoxious voice he can muster and repeats, “I’m just keeping it safe from, you know, the pickpockets of the world.”

“I hate you so much.” Dazai pulls the hands covering his face free and pouts, “I don’t sound like that at all.”

“Sure.” Chuuya tilts the camera up and clicks away. “Pretty,” he remarks, and laughs at the renewed flush on his partner’s cheeks. He slips the phone back into Dazai’s trouser pocket and pats it down gingerly. “I take it back, make sure to send those to me later still.”

There’s an odd silence that follows, but Chuuya can’t bring himself to care. They’ve lost so much time already that all he can do is assume they’ll pull through like they always do. Really, Dazai is just a terrible loser, he probably can’t admit when he’s—

“You are so embarrassing,” comes the reply, as close to an admission of defeat if Chuuya’s ever heard one from him.

He’s going to get shit for this sometime soon, no fucking doubt. It might be another bomb in his car or another missing bottle of vintage wine or something even more mortifying than confessing in front of your entire squadron; but who knows? He clearly doesn’t do this enough to tell, and maybe that’s a problem. “Sometimes I get tired of letting you get away with everything too.”

Clearly eager and itching to start yet another argument, Dazai quips, “But you admit you let me get away with most of it?”

Chuuya truly doesn’t know what to do with this person. “You already know the answer to that.”

As if to prove his point further, Dazai just has to make it a challenge. “Do I?”

Well, he should sit up for this one, probably. So he does that. Chuuya pinches the asshole’s chin and sets him with a glare, then. “Now you’re just trying to make me want to kill you on purpose.”

Dazai hums, far too happy for someone who was struggling to admit it minutes ago. “Aren’t I always?”

“If you’re still breathing on purpose, then yes.” Chuuya releases his cheeks because calling Dazai a fish is not the same thing as willingly exposing himself to the visual of it. And, if he’s being honest, he’s not even all that angry right now. 

Dazai raises his arms in a show of victory. “Then, it’s my win again today!” His hair blows into his face a little lamely, but he looks so much younger for it.

“Good,” Chuuya swipes the back of his pointer across the other’s nose teasingly, and lets his own eyes edge into a crinkle this time. “That makes it my win overall.”

“You- ” Dazai proceeds to grip both hands across each of Chuuya’s shoulders and holds him at a literal arm’s length away, dipping his head low. “What is wrong with you today-”

“Why?” he interrupts, sure of a perfect play. “You don’t like it?”

“If I say no will you stop?” Dazai looks up slightly, and Chuuya feels his chest clench at the sight of the other traitorously.

Still, he manages a grin and shrug. “I can hear your heartbeats from here, you know?”

“Of course.” Dazai sighs. “I like it,” he admits, “More than the ocean.”

“Mm,” Chuuya looks off to the side, feigning indifference. He keeps an eye on the water too, dusk deep blue and paint-like. “Then maybe I should stop.”

“You’re horrible.” He feels the arms at his shoulders slide over to his chest, now trembling. “I can hear your heart too.”