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

Chapter Text

When Chuuya receives the memo about his transfer, he has mixed feelings. Sure, he likes his current dorm—in their three years together, he, Akutagawa, and Tachihara have settled into a comfortable system—but Akutagawa’s changing dorms, too, and living alone with Tachihara would just feel strange after all this time. Besides, he’s only here for another year or two, so what does it matter who they stick him with? Although he does find it a bit suspicious that the email so adamantly evaded mentioning his new roommate’s name.

Nonetheless, Chuuya stands, a stuffed duffel bag in one hand and a small suitcase at his feet, outside his new flat, the other hand raised to knock for a third time. There is no response. Heaving an irritated sigh, he tries the doorknob. It swings open, and Chuuya steps inside and immediately loses his breath.

There is a man—his roommate, presumably—hanging from the ceiling.

Chuuya screams.

“Would you stop that noise?” his roommate asks pleasantly, facing away from Chuuya. “I'm trying to commit suicide.” Then, as an afterthought, “Although, it doesn't seem to be working. Could you get me down from here?”

Numbly, Chuuya complies, trying not to wonder how the man can even talk with a noose around his neck, fastened to a beam above another door. His roommate drops to the floor and straightens, smoothing wavy brown hair with hands wrapped in white bandages, and before he even turns around, Chuuya feels his stomach sinking.

No… no, God, please, no…

Honey-brown eyes lock with Chuuya’s, and his roommate grins. “You must be the new roommate. Hey. I’m Dazai.”

In his mind, Chuuya punches a wall.

Dazai Osamu. Of course he knows Dazai. No, that’s not quite right—he knows of Dazai. Despite never having met the man before now, Chuuya has heard tales of his suicidal tendencies, his shameless flirting, his almost terrifying genius—and his reputation for going through more roommates each year than a dog chews through treats.

Chuuya whips out his phone, going straight to his email to request that they send him back—but there’s already a message from the college board. Skimming the words, a part of Chuuya shrivels and dies.

Nakahara—

By now you will have met your new roommate. Doubtless you wish to transfer back to your previous dorm, but this is no longer possible. Three students have requested to be transferred out of his dorm this semester alone, and we simply can’t keep this up. You’re the fourth and, we’re afraid, the final. Our deepest, most sincere apologies.

—The Board.

Lowering his phone in silent dejection, Chuuya looks up to see that the grin on Dazai’s face has widened.

“You’re Chuuya, right?” he says, dragging the vowels. “I think we’ll get along just fine. Even though you so rudely interrupted my suicide.”

Chuuya grits his teeth. “What… what the hell were you thinking ?”

“I just told you. I was trying to commit suicide.”

“Obviously,” Chuuya snaps. “But. In the dorm ? On the day your new roommate is coming? That’s just… inconsiderate .” He glares at Dazai. “If you’re going to kill yourself, at least do it outside .”

“But it’s freezing outside,” Dazai whines, motioning to the yellowing leaves fluttering past the window.

“So? That won’t matter when you’re dead, will it?”

“So cold, Chuuya. No wonder your old roommates kicked you out.”

Chuuya’s jaw drops. “Kicked me out? My roommates love me! You’re the reason I’ve been relocated, just because you refuse to live without someone to annoy. At least be grateful !”

“Pft, why should I be grateful? They’ve sent me a midget.”

What was that?

“I said, they’ve sent me a midget.” He frowns, faux concern all over his face. “Are you so close to the ground you can’t even hear my voice? That must be difficult. Poor Chuunibyou.”

“Say that again. Say it, I dare you!”

“No, you probably won’t be able to hear me again. Chuunibyou.”

“I don’t want to be insulted by a goddamn mummy. What are those bandages even for ?”

“They’re a better accessory than your tacky hat, that’s for sure.”

“Don’t you even look at my hat—”

“That’s fine with me.”

“—and who uses bandages as an accessory?!”

“People with better taste than whoever designed that hat.”

“You—!” Chuuya forces himself to stop. This isn’t going anywhere. Slowly, he lets out a breath. “Whatever. You can think whatever you want. I don’t care. Just… just stay away and don’t even talk to me.”

“That’ll be difficult, seeing as we’re roommates,” Dazai says dryly. “But, as you wish.”

Chuuya suspects that Dazai plans to do the opposite, but he bites his tongue for now and picks up his bag, brushing past Dazai and ducking around the noose hanging in the doorframe to enter the small bedroom that isn’t occupied. That’s one perk, at least, of being Dazai’s roommate—he had to share a room with Akutagawa and Tachihara, before.

Chuuya sets a silver-framed photograph of Kouyou, his adoptive mother, on the bedside table, and puts his phone on the charger, tossing it onto a bed covered with a black blanket. By the time he’s finished hanging his clothes and arranging his collection of literature, it’s already late in the afternoon. He takes a deep breath, counts to ten, and walks into the living room. It’s small, too, slightly smaller than the two bedrooms together, furnished with a couch, a two-seater table, and an adjoined kitchenette with a fridge the same height as he is. Chuuya opens it and growls.

“Dazai,” he says to the soft sound of approaching footsteps, “where the hell is your food?”

“Right in front of you. Is your sight as bad as your hearing?”

Chuuya ignores the comment, pulling a half-empty box of cereal and a carton of milk out of the fridge. “This is all you have. This is what you’ve been living on?” He turns incredulous blue eyes on his roommate. “What are you?”

Dazai shrugs. “My life’s goal is to die. What’s the need for good food, then?” He pauses. “Besides, I can’t cook. The last time one of my roommates made me try, there was a fire and the whole building had to evacuate.”

At a loss for words, Chuuya sets the two items down on the table with a bang and slams the fridge shut. “Fine. We’ll have… this… for dinner tonight. But tomorrow, I’m buying proper food, and you’re going to eat like a normal human being , got it?”

“Aw,” Dazai smirks. “Is Chuunibyou worried about me?”

“I already told you, you’re not allowed to die in the dorm,” Chuuya snaps back. “You can jump off a cliff the minute you leave, but I’m not having your sorry corpse stinking up this place as long as I’m in it.”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Dazai replies decisively, placing two bowls and spoons on the table.

Chuuya seethes quietly, watching Dazai prepare his… meal… and suddenly his eyes widen.

“What… what are you doing ?” he whispers hoarsely.

Dazai only smirks as he closes the lid of the milk bottle and picks up the cereal box. “What, does this bother you? How unfortunate.” Slowly, deliberately, he tips the cereal into the bowl, smiling as it hits the milk and splashes.

At that moment, Chuuya realises: his roommate is a sadist.

 

-

 

Late at night, Chuuya stares at the ceiling from his bed, missing the ceiling of his old dorm. He has managed to avoid Dazai since dinner, taking the stairs rather than the lift when they left for evening classes, and rushing back to get home before him, but he can’t evade his roommate forever.

Tomorrow, he tells himself. Tomorrow will be better. We’ll… have a fresh start. That’s it, a fresh start. I’ll reintroduce myself, and everything will be fine.

Everything will be fine.

 

-

 

The next morning, however, when a half-asleep Chuuya stumbles into their shared bathroom to find a fully-clothed Dazai submerged in the bathtub, and nearly has a heart attack as he screams and hurls a rapid stream of curses at his suicidal roommate, it becomes clear that everything will be not fine.

In fact, for Chuuya, nothing will.

 

-

 

“Dazai, did you order the pizza?”

“No.”

“Why not?!”

“I was busy.”

“Busy doing what , exactly?”

“Reading.”

“...Is that a manual on suicide?”

“Yep~! I’ve been reading it all afternoon, so I haven’t had time to order.”

“Kill yourself.”

“That’s the idea, yes.”

 

-

 

“Ah. Oops.”

Oops ?! You assbucket , you spilled tea all over my clothes! I just washed those!”

“Accidents happen, Chuunibyou, no need to get upset about it.”

“Do you even know how much the washing machines cost in this building?”

“Nope.”

“Figures. And stop calling me that!”

 

-

 

“Chuunibyou, have you seen my law textbook?”

“I sold it.”

“You what.”

“I needed money for the laundry, so I sold it.”

“I need that textbook.”

“Ah. Oops.”

 

-

 

“Ah— aaahhhh , that is disgusting ! Is this… is this vinegar ?!”

“I don’t know. Is it?”

“You… you replaced my wine… with vinegar…”

“Perhaps.”

“You’re a monster, Dazai Osamu.”

 

-

 

For The Tainted Sorrow ? That’s a pretentious name.”

“Shut up, Dazai.”

“Ah, I see, it’s a poetry collection. No wonder.”

“No one asked your opinion.”

“I didn’t know you write poetry, Chuunibyou~”

“Surprise. Now go away.”

“...”

“...”

“...”

“Dazai, I said—”

“This is actually…”

“What?”

“This is actually shit. No wonder you don’t tell anyone about your poems.”

Die in a pit.

 

-

 

Tu es de loin ma personne la moins préférée .”

“Your French is sexy.”

“Do you even know what I just said—”

“Too bad you aren’t, though. Maybe you’d be a more tolerable roommate if you were.”

“...I will strangle you in your sleep.”

“Kinky.”

“asdhfgsdjhgfj—”

 

-

 

One week in, and Chuuya is beginning to wonder if he’ll die if he slams his head against the wall enough times.

 

-


Seriously, fuck my life.

Chapter Text

“And if you think it ended there, no , he went on for another half hour trying to reason out whether drowning or hanging would be more convenient. I swear I’m this close to pushing him off the balcony myself . Of course, I wouldn’t want to grant his wish, but at least it’d get him to shut up for a minute, and note that I said minute , because I’m sure he’d just spring back up again, the bastard .”

“I’m so sorry, Chuuya-san,” Tachihara enthuses from Chuuya’s left, amber eyes glinting in the moonlight. “Your roommate sounds terrible!”

“I have an annoying roommate, too, actually” Akutagawa begins quietly, on Chuuya’s right, but is immediately interrupted by Tachihara’s gushing sympathies.

“You know, Chuuya-san, you can always stay in my dorm, if he gets too irritating. The Board won’t mind, probably, just a few times. If you want.”

“Thanks, Tachihara, but then he’d just be even more annoying afterwards.” Chuuya heaves a long-suffering, theatrical sigh. “There’s no escaping it. I have resigned myself to my fate.” He glances at each of his friends in turn. “You… still have my emergency wine stores, right?” At their nods—Akutagawa’s resigned and Tachihara’s fervent—Chuuya sighs with relief. “Good. Dazai replaced all of mine with vinegar. Twice.” He shudders, still able to taste the shocking pang. “And worse than that is… he’s always on my mind. Really. I can’t go a minute without wondering what bullshit he’s pulled today. Every time I get back to our dorm, I stand outside the door for at least a minute, bracing myself to deal with whatever’s waiting, and there’s always something. It’s like he spends all his time plotting ways to annoy me, I swear he does.” He kicks a stray pebble down the street, watching it bounce into the darkness. “Next time I’ll set his precious bandages on fire.”

“You should do that,” Akutagawa says, eyes shining the color of the moon. “And you should record it and send it to me.”

“Ah…” Chuuya glances at him. “He was your tutor for a while two years ago, right? You used to rant about him every day.”

Akutagawa gives a barely perceptible shudder. “...That’s in the past. We don’t speak of that month.”

“No,” Chuuya agrees, “we don’t.”

They walk on in silence, and then Tachihara ventures, “Hey… Chuuya-san? If you want something to take your mind off Dazai… well, there’s this app I found that lets you make a profile and answer some questions, and it suggests potential matches from other users of the app, and you can browse through all sorts of people and message them. It’s supposed to be a dating app, but it’s fun for just talking to different people. I mean, it might be nice, to talk to other people, since you’re stuck with Dazai all the time.”

“...Hm.” Chuuya pulls out his phone. “That… doesn’t sound bad, actually. What’s it called?” He types the name in as Tachihara dictates, and looks up. “Ah, you guys go on. I’m going to stop at that Internet cafe for a bit.”

“Okay, see you tomorrow, then.”

 

-

 

Sitting with a cup of coffee blacker than Dazai’s soul (though not quite as hot, anymore, as Dazai’s face—although, of course, Chuuya doesn’t think that), Chuuya stares at the questionnaire presented to him by the app.

Username: Tainted Sorrow

Age: 22

Gender: Male

Nationality: French and Japanese

Occupation: University student

Hobbies: Reading, writing, running, driving around aimlessly

Likes: Wine, books, music, hats

Dislikes: My roommate

There are others, questions about his tastes in books, movies, friends, and partners, about his interests in studies, and more. Chuuya works through them quickly, answering as the words pop into his head, and when he finishes, the old spinning wheel of doom begins to turn. Processing. After a moment, several boxes appear on the screen, each a snapshot of a profile with percentages indicated the degree of the match. Chuuya scrolls through them idly, unable to summon interest for any. 70%, 65%, 80%, 62% … 97%. Chuuya stops scrolling and blinks. The number does not change. 97%. Tapping the box, he looks into this person’s profile. He is twenty-two, like Chuuya, and also a student in university. His interests don’t seem to coincide with Chuuya’s at all, however, and he wonders how they could possibly be a 97% match. Still, the man’s username intrigues him— No Longer Human . It’s strange; he wonders what it means.

97%.

Chuuya hesitates for a moment, and then quickly types out a message and hits send.

 

-

 

“Chuuya-san, she wants a kitten. I don’t know how to do those.”

Chuuya finishes restocking the coffee machine and takes the latte from Gin.

“Look,” he says, and she does, watching with sharp eyes as he carefully shapes the foam into a  kitten’s smiling face. “There, see? It’s not difficult.”

“Easy for you to say, Chuuya-san,” Gin sighs, taking the cup back and passing it to the customer. “You’re a natural.”

“I’ve worked part-time here since high school,” Chuuya shrugs. “Ask Akutagawa, he’s the reason I had to learn.” He shakes his head. “Always making me draw skulls in his lattes during his emo goth phase. The irony was almost physically painful.”

Gin smiles; she, too, can remember her brother’s edge phase all too well. Some say it never truly ended.

Today is Sunday—there are no classes today, so Chuuya will spend the whole day working at what is usually a part-time job in a cafe next to the campus. It isn’t a fun job, but it pays for groceries and laundry, especially with his talent for latte art, so Chuuya won’t complain about the extra hours.

He resists the urge to check his phone again for a message on the new app, a response to his text of, Hey, apparently we’re a 97% match.

Gin disappears into the back room, and the bell above the door tinkles. Chuuya pastes a bland smile onto his face and turns to greet the customer.

“Chuunibyou~! I didn’t know you worked here!”

Chuuya’s smile freezes, and he lets out a low growl. “Of course you did, you bastard, or else you wouldn’t be here, although how you found out, I don’t even want to know.”

“You shouldn’t call your valued customers ‘bastards’, Chuuni, it isn’t good customer service. How have you managed to keep this job, with that mouth on you?”

“Are you going to order, or have you just come to annoy me, like always?” Chuuya counters.

Dazai waves him off. “I’ll have whatever you’re best at.” He smiles. “I’ve heard about your… art skills, too.”

“What do you want, then?”

“Surprise me.”

Chuuya scowls at him. “All right.”

He prepares Dazai’s latte with meticulous care, paying special attention to the shaping of the foam, and hands the cup over with a sweet smile.

“Here you go. On the house.” He turns it so that the writing, perfectly calligraphed into the foam, faces his roommate: dickweed .

Dazai smiles back just as sweetly. “Thanks.” When he turns to find a seat, Chuuya sticks his tongue out at him.

From the door to the back room, Chuuya hears Gin muffle her laughter.

“Shut up,” he grumbles, brushing past her. “I’m on break. Take over for me.”

 

-

 

Chuuya sinks into a chair in the back room with a sigh. That shitty Dazai, now he’s got to make my work life a misery, too? His phone buzzes in his hand, and he startles, glancing down at it.

New Message From: No Longer Human.

In spite of himself, Chuuya’s feels a grin spread across his face. He replied!

 

[No Longer Human]

Hm~ Apparently.

Well? What about it?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Nothing. I just thought it would be interesting to talk.

 

[No Longer Human]

Fair enough.

Then, for our first subject: your username is ridiculous.

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Yours is, too, so shut up

 

[No Longer Human]

Aggressive. Let me guess, you’re either short, or a redhead, or both.

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

FIGHT ME

 

[No Longer Human]

Both, it is.

In any case. Your bio says you’re a university student. What courses?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Literature and Poetry, and various languages.

 

[No Longer Human]

Languages?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Japanese and French, which I was raised with, English and Spanish, which I studied in school, and Latin and Greek, which are new.

 

[No Longer Human]

Damn. What’s the point?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

I write poems in all those languages, and a few others. I’m compiling an anthology.

And I want to translate books between languages, and maybe translate ancient texts.

 

[No Longer Human]

Sounds boring.

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

What’re you studying, then?

 

[No Longer Human]

Law, political science, blah blah

I’ll go into politics, probably

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Like that isn’t boring as hell

 

[No Longer Human]

Alternatively, I might end up taking over my adoptive father’s mafia

You know, one of the two

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

...You’re joking, right?

 

[No Longer Human]

Perhaps ;)

 

“Chuuya-san!” Chuuya looks up from his phone to see Gin standing in the doorway. “Chuuya-san, it’s my break now. I’ve been calling you for ages.”

“Sorry.” Chuuya stands quickly, typing out a hurried goodbye to No Longer Human , and rushes out to take his shift.

Dazai walks to the door as Chuuya approaches the counter.

“Bye, Chuuni~! Thanks for the coffee! I’ll come back soon~”

Chuuya curls his hands into fists to keep from throwing the coffee machine at him. “ Don’t .”

But his roommate’s laughter as the door swings shut doesn’t inspire any hope.

 

-

 

Of course, Dazai doesn’t even need to come back to make Chuuya’s life miserable; he manages that the moment Chuuya walks into their dorm and is greeted by Dazai lounging on the couch with yet another new edition of his precious suicide manual, informing Chuuya that they once again have no food while not moving an inch himself.

“I should go to a restaurant,” Chuuya seethes, pulling his coat back on. “I have enough money. Or I could go to Tachihara’s, he’s always got too much food.” Snatching his hat off the hook and placing it firmly on his head, he grumbles, “I should just eat out and let you starve on your own. I should—”

“But you won’t,” Dazai says pleasantly, not looking up from his book.

And Chuuya wants to punch him, because he’s right.

 

-

 

But it’s okay, all is not lost—Chuuya has been fuming down the aisles of the supermarket for five minutes when his phone buzzes again.

 

[No Longer Human]

So, you grew up with French and Japanese? That’s an odd combination.

 

Chuuya smiles, dropping some vegetables into the cart with one hand and typing with the other.

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

My mother was French, my father was Japanese.

 

[No Longer Human]

Was?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

They died when I was six. But my adoptive mother wanted me to remember the languages of both my cultures.

 

[No Longer Human]

Ah.

You said you write poetry. Send me one?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Ah… okay.

 

Chuuya bags the last of his groceries and walks out of the store. What poem to choose…? He’s good at what he does, great, even—that much he knows… but Dazai’s dismissal of his works was a harsher blow than he cares to admit. Still… he has to send something. Finally, Chuuya chooses one of his favorites, one he plans to put at the end of his anthology. He pastes it into a text and waits anxiously for No Longer Human’s response. Chuuya walks for three minutes, waiting, and is just about to put his phone back in his pocket on the stairs of his building when it buzzes.

 

[No Longer Human]

It’s beautiful. You’re brilliant.

 

After that, he goes offline, but Chuuya is already glowing with pleasure, nearly dropping his groceries as he comes to a halt in front of the door, reading and rereading the message until the words burn in his mind.

Brilliant. He called me brilliant .

Chuuya only wishes he could rub this in Dazai’s face—but that, of course, would only lead to more teasing. Well, no matter. Chuuya’s mood is sky-high now, and nothing can sour it, not even Dazai’s lazy comment that Chuuni is such a good housewife when he cooks their dinner.

Chuuya does not get along with his roommate.

But he has No Longer Human , and he thinks that more than makes up for it.

Chapter Text

[Tainted Sorrow]

What’s your name, by the way? I mean, we’ve been talking for a week. It’s kind of inconvenient calling you No Longer Human every time.

 

[No Longer Human]

Ah… that’s classified. You?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Why would I tell you my name if you won’t tell me yours?

 

[No Longer Human]

Ahhh, and here I was thinking I could trick you. I’ll just call you Chibi, then.

You’re right, though. Hmm~ I guess you could call me Handsome.

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

No way in hell. I’ll call you Dickweed.

And yOU CAN FIGHT ME ON THAT FIRST PART

 

[No Longer Human]

Don’t you call your roommate Dickweed? So mean, Chibi, at least I deserve my own epithet~!

 

[Tained Sorrow]

Fine, you can be Asshike.

 

[No Longer Human]

Yaaaaaaay, thanks! This is truly a great honor!! I’m going to screenshot this moment and treasure it forever~!

 

[Tained Sorrow]

You’re a weirdo

 

[No Longer Human]

You love me ;)

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Shut up, Asshike.

 

“Oh~? Chuuni’s smiling so happily! Who’re you texting?” The main door swings shut as Dazai drops his textbooks on the table, sliding his phone into his pocket.

“Your mom,” Chuuya deadpans, switching off his phone before Dazai can see it.

“My mother is dead, Chuuya.” Dazai collapses onto the couch beside him.

“I know. She came back as a ghost specifically to give me a message for you. She says she’s glad she died, so she doesn’t have to deal with a shithead like you.”

“Good for her. Thinking positively is always a good trait.” He stretches, crowding Chuuya into a corner of the couch, immediately retreating when Chuuya elbows him in the ribs. “By the way, I need to borrow some money.”

“What for?”

“Cyanide.”

“No.”

“Why not? I thought you’d be glad to be rid of me~”

“I would,” Chuuya assures him, “but I’m not giving away my hard-earned cash just so you can have an aesthetically pleasing suicide. Go jump off a building like a normal person if you want to die.”

“Fine, fine, I’ll buy it myself. Miser.”

“Go and do it quickly, then. I don’t want to see your annoying face any longer than I have to.” But the statement lacks any real bite. These conversations, if he can call them that, are commonplace, now. It’s a horrifying thought, but Chuuya could almost say he’s gotten used to this.

Dazai leaves, then, grabbing his coat, and Chuuya throws a cushion at him as he goes, yelling after the closing door that if he’s planning to die, he’d better do it outside the dorm .

Once the sound of footsteps disappears, Chuuya takes out his phone again, but No Longer Human is offline now. Sighing, Chuuya drags himself off the couch to prepare a dinner for two.

 

-

 

The weeks slip by. The leaves in the trees along the campus grounds deepen from yellow to orange, the creepers on the dorm walls flush scarlet in the chilled breeze. They litter the damp ground as Chuuya walks quickly. He does not linger at the door today; even inside the building, the breeze chills the air, and besides, he hasn’t needed to worry about unsavory things awaiting his entry for a while. They’ve reached an almost comfortable sort of stability, now, to the point where they rarely ever fight anymore, their countless arguments slowly evolving into a constant stream of banter. It isn’t necessarily good , per say, but… it isn’t bad either.

(And then there are the days when Dazai seems a shell of his usual self, when his eyes darken and he lets his hair shield them from view, when he doesn’t open his mouth even to annoy Chuuya, when he closes his room door and doesn’t go to class. Days when Chuuya returns from his afternoon shift between classes with a warm latte to go, always with that calligraphed foam spelling a new and creative insult, to leave outside Dazai’s door and find empty when he returns in the evening. There are the nights when Chuuya wakes up screaming, when he has to rub his eyes to chase away those visions of flames licking the walls of a room he hasn’t seen since he was a child, when even his favorite music can’t still his shaking body. Nights when his door opens and Dazai sits on the side of his bed and waits, stroking his hair in silence until Chuuya falls asleep, gone before he wakes. Those days and nights neither speak of, because, let’s make one thing clear, they’re not friends—but maybe they’re not entirely enemies, either.)

“Hey, asshole,” Chuuya says when he enters, and Dazai looks up from the heavy textbook in his lap.

“Hey, Chuunibyou.”

“I’ve got enough food for a week, this time, and if it doesn’t last until next Sunday, I’m going to push you off the balcony.” He dumps the groceries on the table and pulls out a paper bag. “By the way, you like roasted potatoes, right?”

“Yes,” Dazai says cautiously.

“Good.” Chuuya tosses him the bag. “They were selling them fresh.”

Catching it in one hand, Dazai squints dubiously at him, and then opens the bag and glances in. After studying it for a moment, he looks up again. “Thank you, Chuuya.” There’s a soft smile on his face, and for the first time since they’ve known each other, it looks genuine.

Chuuya finds himself smiling back. “Yeah, yeah, don’t get used to it.”

“Oh, of course not. Never. You despise my very existence.” Dazai sounds like he can barely keep the amusement out of his voice.

“Exactly,” Chuuya states firmly, but he isn’t faring much better. And Dazai laughs , the bastard, laughs and throws a potato at Chuuya, pulling another one out for himself. Chuuya moves to the couch, and they split the bag half-and-half—the potatoes really are very good.

It might be the first normal exchange the two have had—and it makes Chuuya feel all warm inside, despite the open window.

But, of course, that’s just the heat of the roasted potatoes. Because Chuuya isn’t at all fond of Dazai.

Of course not.

 

-

 

[No Longer Human]

So, how’s that roommate of yours doing? Still annoying?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Annoying is his natural state of existence.

...But.

I’m kind of… used to it?

I mean, he’s still annoying and we still bicker a lot.

But I don’t really mind it anymore.

It’s actually… kind of fun.

 

[No Longer Human]

That’s good to hear.

Then, if you don’t hate him anymore… do you like him, now?

 

[Tainted Sorrow]

Pft, don’t get carried away. Not hatred doesn’t translate into like.

But I guess…

Maybe just

A little?

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Chuuya wakes up on a couch that is not his, wrapped in a striped blanket. For a moment, he is confused—and then he remembers.

 

-

 

The door opened to reveal a tired-looking, very confused Tachihara, but Chuuya ignored him as he walked straight into the dorm and collapsed onto the couch, burying his face into a pillow.

“Ah… Chuuya-san?” Tachihara’s voice floated into his mind, not processing as Chuuya curled in on himself.

Stupid, stupid, stupid! You thought Dazai stopped being an asshole just because? You thought you’d become friends now? Idiot! As if that would happen.

The clink of glasses drew his head up from the cushion. Tachihara was setting two full wine glasses down on the table, a bottle of Petrus 1889 accompanying them—from Chuuya’s emergency stock, no doubt. His ex-roommate sat down beside him as Chuuya pulled himself into a sitting position and hands him a glass.

“What happened?” he asked cautiously.

Chuuya didn’t answer, instead taking a long sip of the wine. He took another, then one more, and after another nearly finished the glass, he said, “It was Dazai.”

The fact that Tachihara realized what he meant instantly, his eyes taking on a sympathetic look, did not help Chuuya’s mood. He finished the last of the glass and rubbed his head; already, he felt fuzzy. But that was good, considering.

“I’m sorry,” Tachihara said quietly, taking the glass. “Did he… know, the whole time?”

Chuuya nodded slowly. “He said it was a… an enjoyable game.” Despite starting out harshly, the words trembled towards the end. He blinked rapidly, startled by tears gathering in his eyes, but it did no good.

Stop it! Don’t start crying over that bastard, come on…

Salt water made rivulets down his cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” Tachihara said again. Chuuya shook his head.

“No, th-there’s nothing for me to be upset about anyway… it wasn’t like I even liked him, or anything. I don’t know why I’m…” He broke off, swallowing hard, and wiped savagely at his eyes. It didn’t work.

Tachihara’s hand settled awkwardly on Chuuya’s shoulder, and Chuuya slumped against him, shaking but glad for the comfort of his friend’s arms around him.

“I wish,” he muttered, “I wish they’d never transferred me out of here.”

“I do, too,” Tachihara mumbled, but Chuuya didn’t hear him as his eyes sagged shut.

 

-

 

“Oh, Chuuya-san, you’re awake already?”

Chuuya sits up, rubbing his aching head and shifting to see Tachihara standing behind the couch. There are dark circles under his eyes.

Chuuya flushes, eyes dropping to his hands. “Sorry… about last night. I… well, Akutagawa’s got a roommate of his own now, and I couldn’t go back there and I…” He shakes his head, wincing at the flash of pain it causes. “But, still, I’m sorry for causing you trouble.”

Tachihara’s eyes widen, and he waves his hands in front of his face. “N-no, it’s fine! You can come over any time, it’s really okay. We’re friends, after all.” His smile looks a little strained at that last part; but, of course, Chuuya doesn’t notice. “Is your head okay? I’ll make you some coffee.”

Chuuya’s upbringing tells him he ought to stand up and insist that he’s caused Tachihara enough trouble already, that he’ll leave now—but his headache tells him to stay put and keep his mouth shut.

His friend comes over a few minutes later, holding a steaming cup of coffee, which Chuuya takes gratefully.

“Chuuya-san,” he asks cautiously, “are you going to go back to your dorm now?”

Chuuya flinches. “I have to, don’t I?”

“Yeah. And you should probably talk to Dazai, as well. About all that.” Chuuya opens his mouth, but before he can protest, Tachihara hurriedly continues, “You’ll be living with him for at least another year, probably more. You can’t just avoid him forever.”

Chuuya is silent. Tachihara is right, of course, he knows that, but even so, the idea of going back sets butterflies filling his stomach. Only, they’re vicious, man-eating butterflies, with sharp teeth, and they’re eating him alive. And after eating through his stomach, they die, but not before shitting out enough barbed wire to fill a house.

(Sometimes being a poet isn’t very fun.)

“Chuuya-san?”

Chuuya looks up and nods. “Yeah. Yeah, I know, I’ll… talk to him. Soon.”

Tachihara doesn’t look convinced, but he says nothing as Chuuya stands and moves towards the door. He flashes his friend a brief smile.

“Thanks. For, you know, everything.”

Tachihara waves him off. “That’s what I’m here for.” As the door closes, he calls, “Don’t forget what I said!”

“I won’t!” Chuuya calls back, and then very firmly puts what Tachihara said out of his mind.

 

-

 

Once again, his feet hit the pavement, but heading away from the dorms, this time. Chuuya runs along the river, although his clothes and shoes were not made for running, and the wind bites at his face as red leaves crunch beneath his feet. He runs until his lungs burn, and then some more, and if he were thinking anything he’d be in extreme pain but, as it happens, Chuuya is not thinking. He runs until he stops, suddenly, gasping for air and gripping the railings along the edge of the path. Slowly, his breaths steady, coming out in ghostly wisps of white.

Chuuya stares at the river, glittering in the early sunlight. It’s barely past dawn, mist curling around the trees and covering the ground, and there are hardly any other people here.

Talk to him. Talk to him! I can’t talk to him. What am I even supposed to say?

But he has to say something , or else the next two years of his life will be living hell. Maybe… maybe if he says that he doesn’t care about Dazai at all, that he was only angry yesterday at being used as live entertainment…? Chuuya groans, dropping his head into his hands. Like hell that would work; he can’t act for shit .

Cursing every blameable entity he can think of, Chuuya stumbles back to his dorm.

 

-

 

Dazai is not there when he arrives—thank god—and Chuuya goes straight to the shower. He stands under the warm water for what feels like an age, but when he steps out it still feels too short. Dazai still isn’t back. Chuuya pulls on a white shirt with sleeves that are still too long (damn it, Kouyou, he told her this would happen) and shorts, and sits on his bed, absentmindedly drying his hair with a white hand towel.

What to say, what to do… argh, it’s his fault, anyway, he should be the one to say something!

From the living room, he hears the click of the lock. Chuuya’s breath stops, but somehow his feet carry him out of his bedroom to see Dazai setting a plastic bag with the on-campus convenience store’s logo on the table. His roommate looks at him and freezes. Chuuya realizes he’s still holding the towel to his head, but he can’t bring his arms to move, or any part of him for that matter.

There’s a beat of silence. Then—

“I wasn’t toying with you.” Dazai speaks hurriedly, as if worried that Chuuya will try to interrupt again. “That isn’t what I meant.”

“No?” Chuuya is surprised at how cool his voice is; he’s having an emotional breakdown inside, but his voice is calm and steady. “You didn’t mean you were playing a game with me when you said the whole thing was an enjoyable game?” Now his voice drips with sarcasm—if only Chuuya could figure out how to make that happen at will.

Dazai’s eyes flicker to the side, then back to Chuuya. “Yes, I did make a game out of it. I found it amusing that you never realized it was me, and thought it would be entertaining to drop hints and see how long it took you to puzzle it out. But that was all that I meant when I called it a game. None of the rest was. Believe me.” He hesitates, and it seems almost like he has to force himself to say, “Please.”  

Did. Did he just say please ? Did I hear that? Did that happen?

“Then…” Chuuya frowns. “You actually weren’t just… messing with me?”

“No, I wasn’t.” He pauses. “Well. Actually, when you texted me, I immediately realized it was you, and I thought I could use that to get blackmail material—”

“You what ?!”

“Oh, don’t look so surprised, you know me.”

“You have a point,” Chuuya concedes, and this, this is more comfortable, this is more like what their conversations usually sound like. Of course, Dazai has to ruin it almost immediately, his voice slipping back into that softer, quieter tone from yesterday.

“But then I realized that I actually liked talking to you. So I did—on the app, of course, but our in-person relationship improved, too. And then, two or three weeks ago, I had a revelation.” He pauses significantly—for dramatic effect, Chuuya thinks, and what does it say about him that he isn’t even surprised? “I had the revelation,” Dazai says, “That I liked you .”

Chuuya nods, and then stops and blinks a few times, and then opens his mouth, and then closes it, and then opens it again. “You what now?”

Dazai smiles at him—and it’s one of those beautiful, genuine ones, goddammit—and repeats, “I like you, Chuuya. I like your obsession with old books and wine. I like your ridiculous taste in hats. I like how when you’re angry you start yelling in seven different languages at once. I like that you’re the sleepiest, rambliest drunk on this planet. I like how you’re always ready to fight everyone. I like how soft your hair is, and how your eyes always show exactly what you’re feeling. I like your voice when you sing and you think no one’s listening. I like your smiles, and how you have a different one for every occasion. I like you.”

“I’m sorry,” Chuuya says. “One more time, please?”

“Chuuya,” Dazai whines, “don’t make me go through that whole sappy spiel again .”

“Okay.” He sways slightly where he’s standing, and decides that, for this, he might need a shock blanket.

Dazai tips his head to the side, smiles at him again, and reaches forward, tugging the towel out of Chuuya’s grip and catching his hand as it drops.

“Well? After I just gave that whole speech, you at least have to give me a response.”

And Chuuya wants to give a verbal response, really, he does, it’s just that his mind has stopped functioning and he can’t seem to form coherent thoughts, let alone words—so it’s entirely justifiable when, in answer, he stumbles forward and grips Dazai’s collar, pulling him down to bring their lips together.

Perfectly justifiable.

Shh.

 

-

 

Later, when Chuuya comes to work, the manager of the store tells him that he needs to stop biting his lip when worried—swellings like that just prove her point.

Chuuya flushes scarlet, and hits Dazai with a menu when he starts laughing.

 

-

 

By evening, the whole university knows. Five different people seek him out to ask if he’s gone completely mad, three of which are Dazai’s previous roommates. And when Dazai himself appears, babbling something about a suicide convention until Chuuya shuts him up with a kiss, Chuuya could swear he hears at least two people mutter, “ Satan-whisperer .”

But that’s alright—partly because he is , in all honestly, but partly because he’s happy .

Chuuya is the happiest he’s ever been—disgustingly so, as Akutagawa so helpfully puts it one day—and, to his relief, even as the high of the first day fades, he stays happy.

 

-

 

At least, that is, until Dazai has a new idea.

 

-


“Hey, Chuuya, will you double-suicide with me?”