How to Save a Life (or 3 Times They Took Care of Each Other and 1 Time They Didn’t)
“Why are you helping me?”
It took several breaths, rough and panting. The hand on Dazai’s shoulder was limper than it should have been. Chuuya was physically strong, for all he was tiny compared to Dazai. Dazai didn’t care about being touched and didn’t shove his partner off, but he suspected if he did, Chuuya would actually collapse back onto the bed Dazai held him at the edge of.
Corruption wasn’t actually new. It felt new. It was only the second time they’d deployed it in the field, but even so, it was the entire reason they were partnered together in the first place.
There was no love lost between them.
Chuuya’s eyes were bright, blue, untainted as they fixed on Dazai’s, his fingers clutching still at Dazai’s shoulder.
Dazai wasn’t particularly gentle washing the dried rivulets of blood from Chuuya’s mouth, his nose, his temples under his hair or in wrapping bandages around the bruised and broken places on Chuuya’s limbs with a hand much practiced on himself. But he did it. They needed each other, though they didn’t want each other. He’d seen the job Chuuya did last time, apparently too weak to make it to Kouyou. It was a bothersome but necessary task then to see to it himself.
“Dazai.” There was that little growl, the narrowed eyes, the bright anger that eased something in Dazai, that was comfortable as the entire Port Mafia. Chuuya was always too flashy in all the wrong ways, bright and extravagant and striking. Dazai preferred to be underestimated.
“We’re partners,” he said smoothly as he worked over Chuuya’s scalp, finding the two injuries leaking blood when he pressed down and making Chuuya wince. “Partners save each other. I’d hardly be a proper partner otherwise.”
Chuuya stared at him, tight-lipped, eyes darkening for a moment. Finally, he sighed, and unclenched the fingers of his free hand from a fist, the tension in his shoulders relaxing slightly. He dropped his hand from Dazai’s shoulder to his side.
He needed Chuuya. That was why he took special care when he acted the caretaker, huffing aloud at how much help Chuuya always seemed to need. That was the only reason why, not because staring at Chuuya’s face flushed in anger or his skill and speed when fighting made the world pulse with life for a few moments, not because the idea of this world without Chuuya in it made Dazai feel more cold and empty than he could bear.
Chuuya worked, tight-lipped and silent as Dazai ever got when brooding, but where Dazai became a black hole of emotion in such moments, blank and unsettling, Chuuya’s anger seemed to leak out in every movement, every faint change of expression. There was anger in the way he gently wound each bandage around the freshly washed wounds, in the weary way he supported Dazai’s body in the aftermath of another failed attempt to end his life.
“In the middle of the job, you waste of bandages. What were you thinking?”
So much blood on Chuuya’s hands, staining his clothes, poured out from underneath his partner’s skin.
“When are you going to let me die?” Dazai asked suddenly into the quiet of the room. He was sitting on the bed, holding still for Chuuya, cooperating even, though it was probably only because he was too weak from the blood loss to do otherwise.
“Tch.” Chuuya grimaced, a different flavor to the anger and disgust in his eyes.
Dazai cocked his head to one side, reading Chuuya brazenly.
“When there’s absolutely nothing I rely on you for,” Chuuya answered at last. He pulled the last bandage tight enough to make Dazai wince. Neither thought it was an accident. “We’re partners. Partners save each other.” Right?
Dazai stared at him a long time, almost reached up his hand to touch the red hair framing Chuuya’s expression of silent, resigned fury. “All right, Chuuya,” he said finally.
He hadn’t followed Oda into the grave, and it was Chuuya’s fault he’d even get the chance to try and do as Oda asked. It seemed so impossible, but there wasn’t anything that really was to Dazai. He would give them both their last requests.
The next night Chuuya got in his car and put the key in the ignition, only to suddenly fling himself out the vehicle, wide-eyed and already throwing himself farther and faster with his ability. The car exploded in a fireball that had almost taken him too.
He dragged himself to Mafia headquarters for medical attention, figuring his apartment wasn’t safe, and there learned his supposed partner had disappeared.
He stared at Kouyou, who’d brought the news, and dark laughter bubbled out of him as he threw his head back and drank it in. Dazai Osamu had defected from the Port Mafia, their partnership, Double Black. When he stopped laughing, it tasted of barely contained fury.
All right, Chuuya.
There was no reason left to rely on Dazai ever again.
Partners save each other. Enemies don’t. Trash and wastes of bandages and underhanded rivals and menaces to women don’t.
Chuuya woke up in the middle of a field, and fury stung the backs of his eyes as he swore low and cold under his breath. Something hot and tight filled his chest, and it felt uncomfortably like scorned love.
“Chuuya, when are you going to let me die?”
He asked it calmly, quietly, as if Chuuya didn’t have him hauled up by the throat from the edge of the building he’d been achingly close to flinging himself from. Chuuya’s teeth were bared in a snarl, his narrowed eyes bright pinpricks of anger.
It’d be easier if they were dull and tired, fed up with Dazai enough to stop caring.
Chuuya yanked Dazai back from the edge, and Dazai let him, following limply. He never thought he’d have to ask the question, never thought he’d be staring at Chuuya’s flushed face and feel his hands physically preventing Dazai from tumbling into the welcoming abyss of death. Again.
“The Boss says we need you,” Chuuya answered at last, releasing his grip and looking out at the city over Dazai’s shoulder.
It was almost good enough to fool his old partner, but neither of them ever really could fool each other. Manipulate each other, goad each other, surprise each other, but not fool.
“You have terrible timing, petite mafia,” Dazai finally said.
“Hah?” Chuuya turned to him again, looked at him again.
“You only ever try to kill me when I have a reason to save myself.”
Chuuya blinked, and Dazai could practically see him thinking back over every time he’d nearly put Dazai through a wall, when he’d held a knife to Dazai’s throat, when he’d almost, almost been able to finally cut the chains that bound them together. There was always something, some reason for Dazai to make him stop.
He chuckled, his face transforming into something too uncomfortably close to friendly, maybe even fond.
It made something worried flutter in Dazai’s chest.
“Bad timing,” Chuuya agreed. “Sometime we’ll get it right.”0