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The nervousness that crept onto Atsushi’s skin made the young man shift in his seat for the umpteenth time. “Dazai-san.”

Dazai, who was sitting across of Atsushi with his chin resting on his interlaced fingers, merely let out a long ‘hm?’ in response.

Atsushi furrowed his eyebrows. “Is there something on my face?”

“Naaaaah. Your face’s perfectly fine, Atsushi-kun. Very beautiful to look at.”

Caught off guard with the answer, warmth spread on Atsushi’s cheeks with an alarming speed. In an instant, the pale expanse of his skin had turned red, and Atsushi coughed as he tried to force down his blush. “Is that why you have been staring at me for the past ten minutes?” he boldly asked.

“Hm...” Dazai muttered for a few seconds, gaze never leaving Atsushi’s face. Even though he had known the man for quite a long time now, Dazai’s... unique behavior never failed to drag the surprise out of Atsushi. Like when he had entered the office with flair, shouted, “Atsushi-kun!” with an excited gleam in his eyes when he finally spotted the boy—Kunikida had yelled, “Shut up, you’re too loud!” in response—and trotted towards the younger’s desk before pulling out a vacant chair and sitting in front of Atsushi with only Atsushi’s desk keeping them apart.

The rest of the other agency’s members had simply continued on their respective activities—a sign that they were far too used to Dazai’s antics by now.

After that, without any explanations, Dazai had started to stare at Atsushi’s face. Atsushi had waited, expecting the elder to say something, but a minute had gone without Dazai saying anything. Then two minutes had passed. Three minutes. On the five minutes mark, Atsushi had asked if there was anything wrong, but Dazai had shrugged off his question with a nonchalant, “Nah.”

Maybe, what made Atsushi felt curious and fidgety the most was the way Dazai looked at him. The emotions inside his eyes were unreadable and it was almost like he had spaced out—but Atsushi knew that Dazai’s focus was pinned solely on him. It made his stomach did a weird flippity-flop thing.

And that’s how he got stuck in this situation.

“Yes and no,” Dazai finally answered, sounding playful. His lips curled into an almost teasing smile.

Atsushi fought off the urge to stare at Dazai’s mouth. So instead, he asked, “What do you mean?”

“I was admiring your eyes, Atsushi-kun. But there’s your face as a bonus, so what’s the harm?”

The implication successfully made Atsushi had to hold off the heat that started to rise up on his cheeks again. When Dazai had used this kind of line to flirt with some beauty in order to invite her to a double suicide, Atsushi found it to be ridiculous. So why, when it was aimed at him, he became utterly embarrassed? “What’s so special about my eyes?”

Dazai asked back instead of answering. “Do you know what heterochromia iridium is, Atsushi-kun?”

“E– eh?” Atsushi was sure had heard it before, but he still didn’t know what it mean, so he said, “No.”

Dazai’s smile widened just a bit, and the teasing edges morphed into something softer. That wasn’t good for Atsushi’s heart, apparently.

“It’s a genetic mutation that causes different coloration to the iris. There are three kinds of heterochromia. A complete heterochromia makes one eye color to be completely different from the other, while a sectorial one only makes it occur to a part of one iris,” Dazai lifted his chin and spread his arms wide. “Amazing, isn’t it?” he exclaimed, eyes twinkling.

“Uh... yeah!” Atsushi said, sweatdropping yet remaining interested.

“And then...” Dazai put his hands down and leaned forward, “there’s central heterochromia.”

Suddenly, a palm was cupping Atsushi’s right cheek. The skin felt a bit rough, and the texture of the bandages that was wrapped around the bottom half of it was even rougher, but it caused Atsushi’s heart to stutter in his chest all the same.

“In central heterochromia, there are spikes of different colors from the pupils,” Dazai paused, and the expression on his face was almost fond that something in Atsushi’s chest constricted, “just like your eyes, Atsushi-kun. That’s what so special about them.”

Damn. The way Dazai’s thumb had started to caress his cheek was not helping at all. “Amethyst with a golden ring around the outside—never have I seen a combination more captivating,” Dazai said, voice slightly softer than his usual, and Atsushi was spellbound because all he could think was no, your eyes are more beautiful and colorful, Dazai-san; I love how they turn red when the sunset hit them just right and how they darken when you’re feeling particularly solemn or serious and how they reminded me of caramel when you finally put your mask away, but Dazai just had to ruin the atmosphere with a yelp when a slap made contact with the back of his head.

“The office is not some place to indulge in romance!” Kunikida, the perpetrator of said slap, reminded harshly. “Go back to your work! You too, brat!” he added, pointing towards a flabbergasted Atsushi.

“Booo, you’re no fun!” Dazai whined. “Atsushi-kun was enjoying it too. Isn’t that right?” he turned his head towards the younger man.

“Just do your work, Dazai-san. Your paperwork has been piling up, hasn’t it?” Atsushi answered, giving none of the support he was sure Dazai had been looking for.

Dazai gasped. “Atsushi-kun! Don’t tell me Kunikida-kun had rubbed his spoilsport disease on you!”

“As if such disease exists...” Atsushi muttered, watching the brunette and the dirty blond bicker.

At least the spectacle gave him the time to calm the pitter-patter inside his ribcage. However, when Dazai’s words had really sunk in, Atsushi couldn’t help but bury his burning face in his hands.

That conversation didn’t just happen. But it did, and the swell of happiness pulled both corners of Atsushi’s lips up.

If Dazai noticed, he didn’t say anything, but there was a faint working of a smile playing on his lips.