Rhezerë is not pleased. There’s a niggling sensation, warm through his entire mind, of someone who’s supposed to be there, and nobody told him a new sync would feel like this.
Kunikida pushed up his glasses on his nose and went over another stack of reports, marking them up with a judicious (and vicious, in Domyouji’s opinion) eye. “Crayon again?” he demanded while Domyouji made an attempt to disappear into the floor.
It was bad enough when Fushimi got on his case, because Fushimi cared more about removing the offending annoyance than correcting the one instigating it. Kunikida’s sense of order and the rules of society was far more personal.
“I’ll fix it.”
Kunikida sighed when he’d dismissed yet another member of the sword squad to fix their mission report. Somehow he always started following a wonderful, sword-bearing leader of justice and high ideals and ended up buried in minions with an allergy to well-written paperwork.
“Kunikida-kun!” a terrible, no good, very bad voice suddenly sing-songed through the space as Dazai poked his head in Kunikida’s office. “We have a case!”
Kunikida didn’t have to go take one, but he was more than ready to get out of the office Munakata had given him. “You’re writing the mission report.”
Dazai blinked, then smiled in a most disturbing way. “Of course!”
Kunikida sighed. Death, taxes, and bad mission reports they would ever have with them.
Chuuya is crimson, the color of blood and destruction. Dazai runs his hand through his sleeping partner’s red hair, when he can’t protest (likely with a fist) nor think it means something it doesn’t.
It doesn’t mean friendship, but it is partnership. They share the blood, but not the wine.
Dazai is fascinated by the conundrum of Chuuya’s humanity versus his inhumanity, his equal passion for life and bloody violence. It’s a reason to keep living, to keep looking. Chuuya straddles the line between life and death more closely than even Dazai.
It’s almost odd that he never realizes it.
He’s a work of art, Dazai—most beautiful when he’s bruised, bloody, with the faint curve of his scheming smile to match the glint in his eyes.
Chuuya buries his hand in Dazai’s hair to pull him closer, grinning fiercely. His blood is pounding. Every nerve ending feels alive and on edge. There aren’t many feelings that can compare.
This is what a job should feel like. Like despite the superfluous chains on Dazai’s arms, despite the clear power difference, each wears equal strength and provocation on their tongues, in their faces, in their bodies.
“After all, I’m your old partner.”
They didn’t have to say anything to each other to know how important they were. They just had to feel it.
Chuuya sighed, barely able to make his body move and not overeager to try, regardless of Dazai making a point of telling him not to.
“The fog isn’t gone. I don’t feel like fighting Corruption.”
It was a thought that struck him then. This fog could give Chuuya back his own body and remove Arahabaki from it. His ability wasn’t natural to him the way others’ were.
But Dazai was warm, Chuuya was here, safe, and that’s what mattered.
Some things they don’t talk about.
They talk about battle plans and mission parameters. They talk about each other’s bad taste in clothes and vehicles and extracurricular activities, like trying to get oneself killed. They talk about video games and bets and how the other ought to get themselves killed.
They don’t talk about moments like this, washing each other’s wounds, unwrapping and rewrapping bandages because they don’t trust anyone else to do it, lying down on the same bed until morning because they’re partners. It’s as good an excuse as any.
Chuuya never asks why Dazai holds so tight.
Anyone who was going to be Chuuya’s partner was going to be competent at knives.
Dazai winced and blew on his newly bleeding fingers. Chuuya held out his hand. Dazai stepped forward to hand back the knife.
“You meant to do that,” he accused in an undertone.
“You asked for the knife,” Chuuya answered incredulously.
“Yes, hand it to me, not throw it!”
Dazai glared at Chuuya. Chuuya glared at Dazai. They were teenagers, but when they were together, they might as well have been little kids.
Chuuya suddenly grinned, sharply. “I’ll teach you.”
“I am competent.”
“You are bleeding.”
The refrain that binds them together, that tears them apart.
Live. You’re you.
People live to save themselves.
You started to want to live.
Born together in a day, in a single battle, reborn in another, in a single night.
Why couldn’t you live with me? Chuuya almost wonders. They’d been equals. They’d never made each other dependent. They’d never given the other unease and betrayal. Why, Dazai?
Not that he wanted him close, wanted him near, not that he wants him close now. But he looks in the eyes of his one-time partner grimly, the old words hanging, “We should just give up and die.” So cheerful, so fascinated still by the end of life. And yet, this closeness to death, wasn’t that Dazai’s way of living? Why would he go elsewhere to find it?
“Whenever you say something like that, like I really had a choice.”
You’re not going to die here.
Chuuya always assumed the reason Dazai was an attention whore was because Dazai was one of those people who needed to be fussed over whenever he was hurt.
Which made it annoying when Dazai insisted on treating Chuuya like he needed to be fussed over and comforted in the aftermath of Corruption.
“What if you died in here?”
He didn’t need Dazai bringing him food, checking his bandages, not when Chuuya itched to do the same for the guy with nothing worse than a broken leg. He hated Dazai, so he resisted.
Dazai petted Chuuya’s hair.
A breath, poised on the edge of the precipice. To fall and to dream and to lose the ability to wake of himself.
Catch me, partner.
Corruption was a long, long fall into an abyss where he could not see the bottom. He saw the light in Dazai’s eyes, the hopeless look of a man who was not desperate to find hope, and thought even his partner saw the death at the bottom of the fall.
He fell, not flinging himself but simply letting go, hands outstretched and waiting in the darkness.
Dazai, who couldn’t be trusted, caught.
“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.