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"Ah... I Think We're In What They Call A Hate/Love Relationship."

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Moonlight streams through a break in the curtains, illuminating the small body on the bed. Chuuya sits with his blankets pooling around him and his arms wrapped around his torso, biting his tongue hard to keep from whimpering. The room is cold, but he feels hot, too hot, like he’s surrounded by fire. Even so, he can’t stop shivering.

The door opens, light from the narrow hall filling the space around a tall silhouette. Darkness returns as the door shuts, the figure moving to sit on the edge of the bed, and Chuuya doesn’t resist as Dazai gently pushes him back down, tugging the blankets up around him. He doesn’t say anything; there is nothing to say. The feeling of his slender fingers running through Chuuya’s hair is enough.

It has been almost two weeks since the nightmare came last; in its half-awake state, Chuuya’s brain doesn’t have the strength to deny that, while the nightmare is never welcome, he might have missed this a little.

Shadow tints his vision; Chuuya can feel his consciousness fading. Letting out a contented sigh, he whispers, “ Thank you.

Chuuya thinks Dazai’s fingers still for the briefest moment, but the world dissolves into darkness in that instant, and he slips into a dreamless sleep.

 

-

 

Dazai doesn’t come to the cafe, today, which is strange because he’s made a point of coming every single afternoon since the first time, except on those days—but then, he did seem a little off, this morning. Not clammed up—Chuuya can recognize when that happens, now—but quieter than usual, and he left for class too early. Chuuya wonders, as he packs up, if he should bring something back for him. He also wonders, just for a second, if bringing something back will earn him one of those genuine smiles—but he squashes that thought down quickly.

“Chuuya-san.” Gin comes up by his side, holding out a long, rectangular bag with a white note hanging from one of the handles. “Someone sent this to the university for you. Fukuzawa-sensei asked me to give it to you.”

“Oh.” Chuuya takes the bag hesitantly. “Thanks.” Kouyou? But she isn’t one to send gifts just like that.

“See you tomorrow, then, Chuuya-san.”

“Yeah… bye, Gin.” Chuuya looks inside the bag as he walks out the door, and his footsteps slow.

Inside is a bottle of his favorite wine. Chuuya blinks. It can’t have been cheap. He turns the note over, taking in the mismatched letters pasted from magazines like a hostage note.

To Chibi, from Asshike.

Chuuya stops walking altogether. What. Taking out his phone, he types, Why? The reply comes almost instantly.

 

[No Longer Human]

Why, what?

Oh, the wine.

No reason, really. I just felt like giving you something ^-^

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Oh

Well… thank you.

I had a kind of rough night, so I really appreciate it

But, was it expensive? I can pay you back.

 

[No Longer Human]

Pft, no need. It wouldn’t be a gift, then.

Besides, I stole my friend’s wallet to buy it ;)

 

Chuuya laughs out loud, not noticing the glances he gets from passersby, many of which linger as a warm smile lights up his face.

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Why am I not surprised?

Besides, doesn’t that also negate the point of a gift?

 

[No Longer Human]

Maybe. I can always take it back~

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Fight me

 

[No Longer Human]

You really like fighting, don’t you?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Maybe. What about it?

 

[No Longer Human]

Nothing

It’s cute

 

Chuuya’s face flushes; he tugs up his scarf. I’m not cute , one part of him grumbles, but the rest of him just feels warm and mushy, which is worse. He likes the relationship he has with No Longer Human on this app, but… maybe…

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Hey, so

I was wondering

 

[No Longer Human]

Hm~?

 

Chuuya makes himself type the words quickly.

 

[Tained Sorrow]

Do you want to meet up?

 

There is no reply in the next minute, or the next, or the next. Five minutes pass. Chuuya doesn’t move, his heart sinking.

The phone buzzes.

 

[No Longer Human]

Yes.

 

-

 

Chuuya stands under one of the many trees lining the path along the river. There are many restaurants nearby; he is close enough to see the many people milling around on this Friday evening, close enough to hear their muted chatter, but far enough to talk to the person he is waiting for in peace. To say that Chuuya is nervous would be a massive understatement; he fidgets incessantly, weaving his dorm key between gloved fingers and staring at the ground. He wonders what No Longer Human will look like, sound like, if he’s anything like what he’s said. Of course, if he turns out to be a creeper, Chuuya is more than confident in his ability to kick him into the river. But he hopes it won’t come to that. So wrapped up in his thoughts is he that Chuuya doesn’t notice the person standing near him until the words drift through the air between them.

“Hello, Tainted.”

Chuuya turns.

 

-

 

His eyes widen.

 

-

 

Dazai smiles—or is it a smirk? Chuuya can’t tell—and says it again. “Hello, Tainted.”  

“Y-you,” Chuuya manages. “It’s you…”

“You didn’t figure it out even until now?” There’s feigned disappointment in his voice and his down-turned mouth, but his eyes are sparkling. “I’m disappointed in you, Chuuni.” He sighs heavily and shrugs, a flippant gesture that does nothing to soothe Chuuya’s nerves. “Then again, it has been an enjoyable game, waiting to see how long it would take you.”

“Game,” Chuuya repeats numbly. “You’ve been doing this as a game ?”

Dazai seems to notice the tremor he’s trying to keep out of his voice. “Chuu—”

“But then, I shouldn’t be surprised, right? Everything is a game to you, so why would I be any different?” Chuuya shakes his head, a laugh rising in his throat. “You’re right, of course, I should have known it was you. The evidence was all there, but I didn’t… God, I knew you were an asshole, but I didn’t think you’d…” His eyes drop to the pavement; he can’t meet his roommate’s eyes. “Was it fun, toying with me? It must have been, since you did it in person, too.”

“Chuuya,” Dazai begins, his voice quieter than Chuuya’s ever heard it, but Chuuya is already backing away, hands up in front of him as if to deflect whatever his roommate wants to say.

“Shut up, just… shut up.” He half turns away, hesitating for a moment before glancing back over his shoulder. “You know, Dazai, I was starting to really like you.”

For an instant, he thinks Dazai’s carefully blank face flickers, splitting to reveal something like distress in his eyes, but Chuuya writes that off as a trick of the light as his feet pound the streets leading to the dorm—not his dorm, he won’t, can’t go back there tonight—and he tries in vain to put Dazai’s face out of his mind altogether.

I was starting to really like you.