“He’s /really/ gonna be fine with me staying here?”

“Honestly, Chuuya? You worry too much. I have a theory that it’s the stress that’s stunting your height—“


That was what Mori Ogai came home too, the night he discovered his nephew was harboring a teenage runaway
Part I is here —> https://twitter.com/cataclysmiceve1/status/1246844333791330304?s=21 https://twitter.com/cataclysmiceve1/status/1246844333791330304
Life throws a lot at you. It takes your sister away too soon. It slaps you with a lonesome teenager that doesn’t particularly /like/ you. It gives you a /bizarre/ relationship with your ex-brother-in-law.

But this—this is /new./

Mori pauses in the doorway, keys still in hand.
Dazai glances up, and his face breaks into a /huge/ smile, really more like a shit eating grin. “Uncle! You’re home!”

He’s never called him /uncle/ before.

“At the same time as usual—“ Mori frowns, his eyes sliding over to the other boy—a small redhead, who looked /sheepish/.
“I don’t believe I’ve met your friend...?”

“Well, Chuuya’s actually my—“ Dazai pauses with a frown. They haven’t actually /discussed/ that bit yet. He looks to Chuuya for guidance, but the redhead just throws his hands up, as if to say, ‘beats me.’ “—well, that’s not the point—“
“Then what /is/ going on, Dazai? I’ve had a long day—“

“Chuuya needs a place to stay. I told him that could be with us, for now.”

Mori looks back to the redhead, who seems to have the sense now to be looking back at him.

And he seems /nervous/.

“Where was he staying before?”
Dazai’s eyes slide over to Chuuya, trying to gauge what the redhead is comfortable with /sharing/, and he takes a deep breath. “It’s—not really safe for me at home right now.”

Mori frowns. “Not /safe?/“

Chuuya chews his lip nervously, crossing his arms over his chest. “I—“
“I—Um—“ Chuuya clears his throat. “I came out. And my Dad, he’s—“

Mori’s eyes widen with understanding, and then they soften. “Osamu—“ he reaches for his wallet. “Go get dinner for the three of us—the Izakaya should still be open.”


“If you want me to agree to this, go.”
Dazai glances over at Chuuya reluctantly, but the shorter teenager gives him a reassuring nod, silently telling him it’s fine.

When Dazai disappears out the door, Mori calls after him, “Do NOT order the entire menu!”

“I make NO promises!” The door slams shut, and they’re alone.
Mori glances over at Chuuya, who seems a little jittery—but not completely uncomfortable. “Do you and Osamu know one another from school?”

Chuuya shakes his head, “No, I go to Kanagawa—we met through Odasaku, actually.”

Oda. Mori’s always liked that kid—that’s a good sign.
“Well—“ Mori sighs, and he stops using his normal voice—instead he speaks to Chuuya like he would a patient. He’s calm, precise—and unemotional. “I’m going to need to get a better grasp of your situation before we decide what to do. Why don’t we sit?”

Chuuya swallows hard.
He’s on the couch, Mori is on the armchair across from him—and right out of the gate, the questions aren’t /easy./

“Did your parents ask you to leave?”

Chuuya shakes his head. “I didn’t really give them the chance to.

“Have they threatened you in the past?”
“Not...” Chuuya furrows his brow, “Not directly, no...”

Was he just blowing this entire thing out of proportion?

Mori, on the other hand, has been a doctor for nearly 18 years—and an ER specialist for 9 of those years.

Chuuya’s behavior isn’t /unfamiliar./
“Has a police report ever been filed against either one of your parents?”

Chuuya shakes his head again, and Mori sighs.

“I am /not/ going to send you home. But I need you to understand—if your parents try to force you to come back, I can’t stop them.”

Chuuya grimaces.
Chuuya is biting the inside of his cheek. It’s not like he /wants/ to be here. He /wants/ to be home, for everything to be /fine/ but...it just /isn’t/ going to be okay anymore. He knows that.

“I get it—“ he bows his head deeply. “Thank you for letting me stay.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” Mori stands up with a yawn. “I don’t exactly run a /nurturing/ household—or—“ he frowns, “I /would/ but my nephew—“

“Is insufferable?”

Mori laughs softly, “I was going to say that he’s /aloof/, but that’s also true.”

“Either way, I’m grateful, Dr. Ogai.”
“Well—“ Mori rubs the back of his neck, “—thank me later if it all works out. Besides, I couldn’t put up with another hunger strike—“

He disappears up the stairs, and Chuuya is stunned.

Dazai wasn’t /joking/ before?

Dazai makes it back half an hour later with the /entire/ menu
They end up eating half of it before Mori makes it back from his shower, picking at a few pieces before heading off to bed, and Dazai is /beaming/ at Chuuya with satisfaction. “See? I told you, you had nothing to worry about.”

“I didn’t realize you’d already worn the guy down—“
“You never asked—“ Dazai picks up the last piece of sashimi with his chopsticks, popping it into Chuuya’s mouth before he can say anything else. “But really, is it surprising?”

Chuuya can’t say that, /no./

The first week or so goes by smoothly—better than expected, really.
Chuuya adjusts to waking up half an hour earlier to make the train across town for school. He sets his phone on silent, pointedly looking away when it lights up, so he doesn’t have to see who is calling. He even gets Dazai and Mori to eat /real dinner/ a few times—
But then, one night—a Friday, Chuuya messes up.

“Chuuya?” Dazai leans up on his elbows, blinking the sleep from his eyes. “What’s—“ he sees the pain in the redhead’s eyes, and he sits up faster. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m—were you asleep—?”

“Doesn’t matter. What happened?”
Chuuya is hugging himself so tightly around the middle, and Dazai has come to recognize the gesture—

It means he’s spiraling.

“C’mere,” his voice is still a little rough with sleep, and Chuuya shakes his head.

“No, it’s so fucking stupid, I—“

“—Chuuya, come here.”
His voice deepens and solidifies into a more commanding tone, and in his current state—Chuuya follows directions without really thinking about it. He sits on the edge of the bed, only to be rugged into Dazai’s arms, his head tucked under the taller boy’s chin.

“What happened?”
Chuuya turns his face into Dazai’s neck, his nose brushing over his pulse, while his chin bumps up against his collarbone. “I—“ he takes a shuddering breath “—I checked my voice mails.”

Dazai winces, and Chuuya bites his lip. “I know it was dumb, but—“ his voice wavers.
“My /mom/,” he sounds so choked up, and Dazai’s heart is /aching/ for him, “she sounded so /scared/, and I know I told her in the note I left that I was going to be somewhere safe, but...I feel so /shitty/ about this—“

Dazai squeezes him tighter. “It’s not your fault, you know.”
“It’s not /her/ fault either,” Chuuya mumbles, and Dazai silently disagrees, but for once he understands that he should keep his mouth /shut./ “and she said—we could talk it out—and everything would be fine.”

Dazai strokes his hair. “Do you think she’s right about that?”
“...” Chuuya shakes his head, tucking his face closer into Dazai’s neck.

“...Next time, if you really want to know—I can listen to them for you, okay?”

“Dazai, I can’t ask—“

“You didn’t ask. But it’ll be easier for me than it is for you.”

Chuuya can’t argue with that.
Chuuya is reluctant—he /always/ is when Dazai offers to help him, he’s too damn proud—

But he nods stiffly.

“Good,” Dazai yawns, laying back down, pulling Chuuya with him as he goes. “Did you ever go to sleep?”

Suddenly, Chuuya’s face is hot for an /entirely/ different reason.
Dazai’s got one arm wrapped around his middle, his fingers splayed across Chuuya’s stomach, and the other is resting on his chest, just over his heart—

Which means he can feel it /pounding./

“I—“ Chuuya evens out his tone, “I was going to—“

“You were up at /6./“ Dazai grumbles
He pressed Chuuya closer when he says it, and the redhead wants to argue that Dazai is basically ensuring that Chuuya stays up /all night/, because now can he sleep right now?

He can feel Dazai’s chest pressed up against his back, his nose pressed into Chuuya’s hair, and—
—Chuuya is just laying there in the dark, his face /burning/. But then the blankets are pulled over them, Dazai is curled up around him, and—

Well, it /is/ comfortable.

They sleep in, and Chuuya wakes up sprawled out on top of him, his head on Dazai’s chest.
Dazai doesn’t wake up at first—he’s just breathing gently, one hand resting loosely on top of Chuuya’s head, while the other is laying loosely on the blankets next to his face.

Chuuya pauses, taking advantage of the opportunity to just...

To just /stare./
Did he have to /always/ look like that? Somehow, relaxed and still with sleep, he looked even /more/ handsome than usual. From the square jaw to his cheekbones, from the admittedly adorable slope of his nose to how long his eyelashes are—

And they’re fluffering as Dazai wakes up
“Hey,” his voice is rough and groggy, and Chuuya’s heart is being a traitor again, racing at forty miles a second— “What time ‘s it?”

Chuuya’s eyes flicker to the clock on Dazai’s bedside. “Almost 11.”

“Huh.” Dazai reaches up to push some of Chuuya’s bangs behind his ear.
“I guess it’s a good thing you aren’t that heavy...” Dazai yawns, wrapping his arms around Chuuya’s waist. “You would’ve smothered me in my sleep.”

It’s a /valid/ point—Chuuya’s almost completely on top of him, with one of his feet dangling off to the side.

Dazai /smirks./
Chuuya’s face is suddenly hot, and he glares. “You were the one holding on so tight bride I fell asleep, maybe you pulled me on top of you—“

“Chuuya,” Dazai snorts, “relax.” Chuuya opens his mouth to argue more, but then Dazai is leaning up on his elbows—

And he’s /close./
Chuuya’s eyes slide shut as Dazai leans in. With Yuan, kissing wasn’t /bad/, it was just a habit. Never something that he put a lot of thought into.

Right now, Chuuya can’t /stop/ thinking.

Should he lean in first? Is he breathing too loud? Oh god, does he have morning breath?
But the kiss doesn’t happen, and when he opens his eyes, Dazai isn’t leaning in at all—actually, he’s looking away. “If it’s already that late, we should probably go ahead and eat breakfast.”

Chuuya frowns as the brunette slides out from underneath him.

“It’s almost /lunch/—“
“Then it’ll be brunch! C’mon, chibi!”

Chuuya sits on the bed for a second, completely lost.

What...just happened?

Despite Dazai’s insistence, /Chuuya/ is the one that ends up making food for them, and while they’re eating, he thinks.

And Chuuya realizes something.
Even after everything that’s happened, Dazai hasn’t ever actually /kissed him./

The first time, in his bedroom—that had been Chuuya’s doing. And the second time, after chasing each other on the street...

...That had been Chuuya too.

And it’s not like Dazai doesn’t /touch him./
Really, Dazai is downright clingy sometimes—but it’s never /like that./

It’s lingering in the back of Chuuya’s mind when they go to Oda’s house, Dazai leans against him while they sit on the couch and watch terrible zombie movies—Oda’s favorites—

And it’s /gnawing/ at Chuuya.
He runs through a million possibilities in his head. Chuuya has never actually /been/ with anyone but Yuan before. Is he just not...good at it? Is it different, now that he’s with a guy? Is he supposed to be doing something different—?

Is he doing something /wrong?/
It’s a distinct possibility. When they are kissing, Chuuya never knows what to do with his hands, if he should be the one to move first—he’s just fumbling around with it—

And Dazai is /different./ He’s always relaxed, self-assured—and he’s probably kissed /so many/ other guys—
And, Chuuya realizes with a sinking pit in his stomach, they were probably all better at it than /him./

He really, /really/ wishes he was one of the zombies getting their head ripped off on screen right now.

He’s silent on the ride home—and it doesn’t escape Dazai’s notice.
They step back inside the house, and once the door shuts, Dazai pokes Chuuya right between the eyes. “What is it?”

Chuuya frowns, rubbing his forehead “I don’t know what you’re—“

“Either you /really/ didn’t like the movie, or something’s wrong.“ Dazai tilts his head. “Tell me.”
“Nothing.” Chuuya mutters, turning his head away. “You’re overthinking it.” He moves like he’s going to head upstairs, but Dazai stops him with a hand on his wrist.

“I really don’t think I am.”

“Well—that’s just—“

“You don’t even know what it is—“

“Ha! So there IS something!”
Chuuya /groans./

“I was being /stupid/—“

And it’s that part that makes Dazai frown. He likes teasing and needling Chuuya until the redhead is on the verge of a fit—

But he’s never liked it when Chuuya talks about himself that way.

“Whatever it is, it /isn’t/ stupid.”
Chuuya exhales sharply, and he’s embarrassed. He considers making something up, but Dazai has a /knack/ for figuring out when he’s lying, so there doesn’t seem to be much of a point—

“After that night—we never really talked about...Well...”

Dazai raises an eyebrow. “Well—What?”
“Whether or not...” Chuuya clears his throat, “-Whether or not we’re—If you’re my—“

“I’m not following you—“

Chuuya finally blurts it out in a fit of frustration.

“Do you /want/ to kiss me?”

Dazai seems surprised for a second, and then not so much surprised as—

Chuuya feels anxiety building up in him like a balloon. He’s never /really/ like this. He’s never been /bad/ at something before. But right now he feels like he’s walking a tightrope, struggling for balance, and he just look like such an /idiot/ right now—

“I do.”
“I really,” there’s something in Dazai’s voice, a kind of longing that has Chuuya’s stomach doing backflips, “/really/ do. But—“

Chuuya’s throat is suddenly so /dry./ “But what?”

Dazai rocks back on his heels. “With everything that’s happened, I thought you needed time.”
Chuuya suddenly feels guilty. The first time they kissed, he’d been /crying/, and the second time, he had been asking Dazai if he could /run away/. No wonder Dazai thought he shouldn’t—

“But,” Dazai interrupts his thoughts, “I think there’s a more important question at hand.”
Chuuya opens his mouth to ask him what he means, and then he notices that Dazai is /close./

So close, that Chuuya’s back is pressed up against the front door, and Dazai’s hands are resting against the wood on either side of his head.

And he has this lopsided smile, and Chuuya—
—Chuuya can’t /breathe./

He’s blinking quickly, his face is flushing, and one of Dazai’s hands drifts away from the door, taking Chuuya’s chin and tilting it up.

/God/, he can’t do this—he’s about to explode, how is he supposed to—

“Do you want me to kiss you, Chuuya?”
When Chuuya was little, /really/ little, he would spend afternoons while Ane-san was off at school tucked away on the couch with his mother, watching old movies.

Really, /really/ old ones—the kind in black and white—

The kissing scenes in those movies always seemed /different/.
Chuuya always thought it was because of the lighting, or the weird, unfamiliar music—

His mom always said it was because because of the charm.

The tenderness in each touch, the way every moment seemed to be allowed to take up it’s own space—

And the feelings weren’t /implied./
And to be fair, there is this weird /glamor/ to Dazai. An almost /classic/ kind of charm to the way he smiles, the timber of his voice, the way that he talks—

Having him around makes everything feel—

Sort of like a /movie./

And Dazai is still waiting on an answer.
Chuuya swallows hard, licking his lips—and he can see Dazai’s eyes darting down to follow his tongue—

Oh /god/, this isn’t /fair./

“Yeah,” it’s a quiet admission, but heartfelt, spoken while looking straight into Dazai’s gaze.

Dazai doesn’t need to be told /twice./
The first moment of the kiss is like the second before you crash underwater—eyes sliding shut, breathing in as much air as you can before impact—

And then the rest of it is like /drowning./

Chuuya doesn’t think about where they are, what he was saying just moments before—
All he’s thinking about is how /warm/ Dazai’s mouth is, how easily they fit together. Somehow, without saying a word, the entire world has shrunk down to fit the space between two people, and—

There’s always been a tinge of guilt when it comes to wanting him.
In the months after they met, the stolen glances, silent panicking—there had been so many moments where Chuuya tried to tell himself it was /nothing/. Or, that if there /was/ something, that it meant there was something wrong with him—

But in this moment—nothing feels /wrong./
It feels /good./ It feels /safe/, and enveloping, and /overwhelming./

And then Chuuya feels /angry/—

Because why should he have ever felt /guilty/ for wanting this?

Dazai breaks the kiss, and Chuuya frowns, reaching up to pull him back in.

“Don’t /stop/.”
Dazai isn’t sure /what/ happened, but suddenly the redhead is pulling him in, and underneath Dazai’s skin, it feels like an exploding kaleidoscope of color.

Chuuya’s hands are in his hair, his tongue is moving with his, and Dazai is chasing his lips like he’s /starving—/
One of his hands drifts down to Chuuya’s hip, his thumb sliding through the belt loop in his jeans, and Chuuya makes this noise, this soft little moan, and Dazai tightens his hold, pulling him closer.

They break apart, his lips sliding along Chuuya’s jaw as he catches his breath
Chuuya is /vividly/ aware of Dazai’s hand, still gripping the curve of his hip firmly—he feels every single breath Dazai let’s out against his skin, and—

There’s this warm, tightening pit in his stomach, and it’s /intense/—

“Ch—?” Chuuya yanks him down by the front of his shirt
It’s quicker this time—Dazai’s teeth scrape over his bottom lip, and Chuuya’s toes are curling. His toes are /barely/ touching the ground, Dazai is holding him so close. And that hand on Chuuya’s hip is moving, his heart rate is accelerating, and—

And then there’s /knocking./
Chuuya nearly jumps out of his skin, and Dazai’s hand turns into a fist against the door with frustration. They’re both breathing hard, Chuuya’s face is hidden in the front of his shirt—

And Dazai forces himself to sound /cheery./ “Who is it?”

“What do you mean, who is it?!”
Mori sounds /extremely/ annoyed. “You locked the deadbolt, Dazai—my key isn’t working!”

Had he been jiggling with the lock before? Dazai couldn’t remember hearing it—

“Sorry—“ he pulls Chuuya away from the door, moving to twist the lock, “—force of habit!”
“The one /responsible/ habit you have, and it’s inconvenient—“ Mori grumbles, yanking the door open. “What have you two been up to?”

Chuuya struggles to answer, but Dazai is calm enough for both of them. “We only just got back from Odasaku’s—how was Fukuzawa-san?”

Mori frowns.
“Fine—better than last week.” Mori sighs, dropping his bag on the counter. “Have you two already eaten?”


Chuuya doesn’t ask until later, sitting in between Dazai’s legs while the older boy aimlessly works through his math homework. “Who is Fukuzawa?
“Oh,” Dazai leans his chin against his shoulder, his eyes boredly drifting over formulas while Chuuya rests against his chest. “Mori was married, before.”

“He was?”

“Back when I was little—to Elise’s mom.” Chuuya has seen the girl around, but...
She always seemed to pass in and out, so much so that it had never occurred to Chuuya that Mori was her /father./

“She lives with her mom, then?”

“Usually,” Dazai raps his pen against the paper thoughtfully. “You’ve seen how much my uncle works—it kinda tanked the marriage.”
Chuuya is pretty sure he hasn’t seen Mori around the house for more than an hour a day since he arrived—

So he can /imagine./

“Is her name Fukuzawa or something?”

“Oh, it is—but Mori goes to see her brother on his days off.”

/That/ is a surprise. “...Why?”
“He injured on the job two years ago—Mori isn’t his doctor, but...he helps him out, where he can.” Dazai tosses his pen aside, giving up on calculus for the day. “If you ask me, I think he just likes hanging out with him.”

“Well...” Chuuya turns his head, “Good for him.”
“Are you done with homework?”

Dazai’s eyes glitter with excitement. “I /could/ be—“ he starts to lean in, and Chuuya puts a finger over his lips. “Wh—?”

“Then you have time to teach me the /glitch/ in Soul Calibur.”

Dazai /pouts./

Mori wanders in to turn the lights off at 1—
To find the boys slumped on the floor in front of the TV, the futon wrapped around them both and the game stuck on the standby screen. Chuuya is curled up in Dazai’s arms, and the controllers have long since been dropped to the floor.

The man sighs, scratching his head.
He already /knew/ the relationship between the two boys wasn’t platonic, but...

That Monday, when Chuuya has already left for school, Mori actually sits down for breakfast at the same time as Dazai. The teenager blinks and looks around, like the world might be ending.
“Am I dying?”

“/No,/“ Mori pokes at his plate of bacon and eggs (made by Chuuya, before he left—/that/ kid tries to pull his weight, at least—) “I thought that we should have a talk.”

“Whatever it is, Ango probably did it—“

“You aren’t in trouble either.”

Dazai is suspicious.
“Is this a thing where you tell me that I’m about to bear a secret family curse when I turn 18? Because my birthday is—“


“...Okay, I’m listening.”

“Do you remember your fifteenth birthday?”

Dazai makes a face.

“When you had your first girlfriend, and your mother—“
“Made you give me a /talk/,” Dazai grumbles, a little nauseous at the memory. His actual father was out of the picture when he was /very/ young, so— “I remember.”

“Then you should know that I’m only asking what I’m about to for health reasons.”

“Are you and Chuuya being sexually active?”

Dazai chokes on his food.

Not because he’s surprised by the question, he’s only /half/ surprised—

But more because he hasn’t really allowed himself to /think/ about sex with Chuuya until this very moment, and now he’s /distracted./
The film reel running through Dazai’s head right now isn’t exactly realistic—there’s no pink heart filter in real life, Chuuya would /never/ say the things Dazai is imagining, hell, he wouldn’t even wear the /outfit/—


“No—“ Dazai wheezes, chugging his orange juice.
“Chuuya—“ Dazai coughs a little, “has had a LOT going on, so I don’t expect that to change any time soon, either—so don’t worry about—“

“I’m not,” Mori sighs. “You were a tramp before you came to live with me.”

Dazai nods, oddly proud of that fact.

“Were you going to tell me?”
“If I told you it was like that between us, would you have let him stay?”

“Dazai,” Mori snorts, “that boy would have been shit out of luck if you weren’t so invested in him—I /knew/ it was like that when I agreed.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“I was expecting—“ Mori sighs.
“...you at least come out to me at some point.”

Dazai blinks, his eyebrows knitting with confusion. “I moved the boy of my dreams under your roof. That’s a pretty bombastic way of doing it.”

“Dazai. You know that isn’t the same as talking about it, and it’s a big deal—“
Mori does this sometimes. He tries to have the conversations that Dazai’s /mother/ would be having with him if she was here.

But she isn’t.

“Look—I didn’t even /know/ I was bi until I met him—“

“What, you realized it on sight?”

Dazai pauses, and Mori realizes that he /did./
“/Oh/—“ Dazai notices Mori is laughing behind his hand, and he frowns.


“Nothing, that’s just—“ Mori chortles, lofting his coffee cup. “—surprisingly cute of you.”

Dazai is caught between being mortified and defensive.

“I’m ALWAYS cute!”

“You’re really not—“
Mori glances down at his watch after that moment, and frowns. "Oh--it doesn't look like you'll make the train in time."

Dazai stiffens up. The only way he'll make it to school on /time/ in that instance would be--

A taxi.

Mori eyes him silently and sighs. "Let me grab my bag."
Dazai looks up, surprised, to see his uncle setting his coffee aside and grabbing his coat. "Huh?"

"I'll walk you to school--I can explain the tardy to the front office."

"But you have to go to work--"

"Dazai--" Mori glances over, picking up his bag. "it's fine."

"There aren't any critical appointments this morning, I can move them to the afternoon." He points towards the door, and Dazai grabs his bag reluctantly. "/Besides/--" he pats Dazai on the back. "This way, I can make sure you don't just /ditch the entire day./"
It's an out, a way for Dazai to not feel /awkward/ about this, and he's grateful--

--because he doesn't want to /admit/ that he's still having a problem with that. Not right now, anyway.

"You're a /pain/, old man."

"I know," Mori sighs as they walk down the sidewalk.
"But, while I have you for the next few minutes--" Dazai /groans/ "--you realize sexual health in homosexual relationships is /completely different/--"

"I /know/ that, I /googled/ it--"

"Porn doesn't count, you know."

"I /do./" Mori stares, and Dazai sighs. "Okay, /fine./"
He endures the most /embarrassing/ lecture (and groans when Mori warns that there are going to be /pamphlets/ when he gets home from school), mostly for Chuuya's sake.

Because honestly? Dazai is pretty sure the redhead would have a /stroke/ if he had to listen to this from Mori.
Chuuya's day, by comparison, did not go as well.

The first half of the day is actually /okay/--his friend group is actually starting to settle back down, since they break up. His classes are good, and then--

And then soccer practice rolls around.

"Hey, Chuuya?"
He glances up from where he's sitting on the bench, lacing up his cleats. "What's up, Tachi?"

Tachihara looks /uncomfortable/. He's rubbing the back of his head, glancing around like he doesn't want anyone else to /hear./ "This is pretty awkward, but...are things okay at home?"
Chuuya feels cold all of the sudden, but his voice is oddly calm when he replies- "Why do you ask?"

"Well-" Tachi bites the inside of his cheek. "Your Dad called mine last night, and...asked if you were staying with us. Have you--not been living at home?"

Chuuya swallows hard.
"I--uh--no," Chuuya shakes his head. "I haven't."

Tachihara frowns, concerned. They've been friends for /years/, but--he isn't exactly someone Chuuya has at the top of his list of people he would come out to.

Really, Chuuya doesn't have /anyone/ he wants to come out to.
"Did you have a fight or something?"

Chuuya looks away. "Something like that, yeah."

"You aren't /homeless/ right now, are you? Because shit, Chuuya--you /can/ stay with me, if you need to."

"Do I /look/ like I've been sleeping on the street?"

Tachihara glances him over.
"...No," he admits, looking away. "You don't."

"..." Chuuya sighs, "I've been staying with a friend, it's fine--"

"Which friend?"

"No one you /know/--"

"We have all the same friends! You don't think I'm gonna /snitch/ on you, do you?"

"No! No..."

"...One of my sister's friends, okay? You wouldn't know them, so..." Chuuya stands up, shifting from foot to foot nervously. "I don't expect you to lie for me if someone asks, alright? Just--I'm fine, and that's all you need to know."

"...Okay..." Tachihara frowns reluctantly.
But Tachi isn't the only one. Every single player on the team got a phone call. Gin got a phone call. Higuchi got a phone call. Even his /coach/ pulls him aside after practice, to try to do a check on him.

"Nakahara, it's not /right/, making your mother worry like that."
Chuuya's teeth are clenched, he's staring at the grass, and he's got this awful pit in his stomach, getting more and more painful with every conversation he's had this afternoon. "Did she tell you why I left?"

"She didn't, but--"

"If they call you again," Chuuya lifts his chin-
"you should ask them. And then tell me that again."

"Son, I don't think--"

"Has this impacted my performance?" Chuuya feels like he might be moving past the stage of shame, which has sort of been his /life/ for the past four years.

"That's not--"

Now, he's /angry./
"Have I violated any school rules?"

They both know that he /hasn't./

"Then I don't think there's much more of a conversation to be had."

And suddenly, soccer isn't so /fun/ anymore.

"Gin--" he calls over when he's nearing the school entrance, "--can you do me a favor?"
She turns her head to look over at him with surprise, "Sure--I thought you'd still be at practice--"

"I'll explain later--but can you check the front gate and tell me if someone's waiting?"

Gin frowns, looking at the gate, then back at him, "Are you in trouble?"

She looks /worried/, but she walks over, peaking her head around before running back. "...What's going on, Chuuya?"

"Is my Dad out there?"

Gin nods, tilting her head to the side, and Chuuya's stomach sinks.

That was what the calls were /really/ for.
His Dad was trying to pin down his schedule, so see if he was still at /practice./ Because it would be easier to drag Chuuya home without making a scene /after/ the main school dismissals.

"How does he look?"

"Kind of...scary." Gin admits softly.

"...Great." Chuuya sighs.
"Chuuya--I /really/ don't like this--" Gin tucks her hair behind her ears, looking back at the gate again. "If it's really that bad, then--"

"It's fine, Gin." Chuuya braces his shoulders, his expression grim. "I was just trying to emotionally prepare."

"For what?!"

"Go on."
"Did you do something? Are you in trouble?"

Oh, he is /definitely/ in trouble.

"It's fine, it's not your problem." Chuuya mutters, getting ready to walk out.

"Like /hell/!" Gin hisses, using both palms on Chuuya's chest to shove him back. "You're /scaring me/!"
"It's not like I can /avoid/ it Gin, I can't live at school forever--"

"Why are you avoiding your dad?!"

"Because he's probably going to beat the /shit/ out of me, okay?! Or worse. So--"

"/Worse/?!" Gin throws her hands up, "Why would he do that?!"

/"Because I'm--!"/
"--because you're what--?!"

"--because I'm /gay/, alright?!"

They're both frozen in silence, and it's the first time Chuuya has ever actually said the words /out loud/.

His heart is pounding, he feels sick, he wants to call Dazai--

"...So am I."
The words wash over him--and it wasn't what he was /expecting/, and when he looks up at Gin--

She looks /just as scared/ as he is.

"...I've never actually said it before," she admits softly. "But--he's--?"

"...Yeah." Chuuya is dumbfounded.

"Well--come on," Gin grabs his hand.
"Where--" Chuuya blinks, stumbling after her as she drags him away from the entrance. "--Where are we going?"

"The faculty exit--it's on the other side of the school." Gin explains, "I still have the office keys from when I was an office assistant--we can get back there."
"You really don't have to--"

"Shut /up/, okay?" Gin glares at him. "I'll do it every damn day if I have to. You were /really/ just gonna walk out there and let him hit you?"

Chuuya doesn't answer.

"You didn't have a /plan?/"

"I kind of /panicked/."

"You can ask for /help/."
They sneak out through the faculty exit--and the road is /blissfully/ clear. "I'll walk you to the station."

"You really /don't/ need to do that--"

"I'm not /asking/, Nakahara. Suck it up." She smacks hip upside the head lightly. "I /swear/, after the scare you just gave me..."
"Sorry, sorry..." Chuuya mutters, letting her hook arms with him as they walk down the street.

"You /do/ have a place to stay, right?" Gin glances up. "It'll be a little weird with Ryuu, but you can always stay with us--"

"I /do/ have somewhere to stay--but why--?"
"Oh, he /idolizes/ you," Gin sighs, "It's always 'Nakahara-kun this' and 'Nakahara-kun that'. If I brought you home to stay with us, he'd combust."

"I /really/ couldn't tell--"

"Never been a great communicator, that brother of mine. Where /are/ you staying, then?"
"With--a friend of my sister's." Gin blinks, tilting her head to the side.

"Your /sister/? Didn't all of her friends graduate?"

"Well, this one knows Odasaku--"

"Wait a minute--" Gin covers her mouth up to snort, "--is it that friend of his with the bandages?"
"...Yeah?" Chuuya frowns, "We're actually...kind of..."

"Dating?" Gin prompts, looking /delighted/ at the prospect.

"...sort of..." Chuuya wheezes, suddenly /maroon/. "What's with the face?"

"He introduced himself as /Dazoo/."

Oh yeah.

Dazai /did/ do that, didn't he?
"I mean--it was /cute/, but he was /so/ into you," Gin shakes her head with a smile. "I really thought no one else noticed--I felt kinda /bad/ for Yuan--" she pauses. "Is that why you two?"

Chuuya is reeling over how /oblivious/ he was, and almost doesn't answer. "Sort of...?"
"I mean, I didn't say that was why, but...yeah." Chuuya sighs, walking up to the station steps. "Thank you, Gin--that was--you /really/ didn't have to--"

"You're my friend, dummy," Gin squeezes his elbow with a soft smile. "Of course I did. Text me when you get home safe, okay?"
Chuuya nods, letting out a shaky breath. "Okay." He walks down the steps, hopping onto the train as soon as it arrives--

And when he makes it home, he's ready to /drop/ from all of the stress.

"Chuuya? What's--?"

He doesn't say a word, he just walks into Dazai's arms.
Dazai brings his arms up to hug him, while Chuuya just buries his nose in the front of his school uniform. He doesn't speak for a long time, and eventually Dazai feels like /he/ has to.

"...Did something happen?"

"...I think I'm gonna have to quit soccer." Chuuya mumbles.
Dazai /winces/. Sports aren't a /small/ part of Chuuya's life. They never have been. "Because...?"

"Judo too."

/That/ is a blow, given he's the current prefecture champion in his weight class.


"My dad was at school today."

Dazai's chest freezes up.
He's stuck between being protective, being /enraged/, and being /scared/--he grabs Chuuya by the shoulders, forcing him to lean back so he can /really/ look at him--

He doesn't see anything /physically/ wrong.

"Did you have to talk to him?"

"No, I snuck out the back, but--"
"-he isn't going to stop trying to get a hold of where I am, and-" Chuuya squeezes his eyes shut. "Part of me almost wonders if I should just get it over with."

"Chuuya, /no/."

"If I'm right, I can file a police report and come back here, if I'm wrong, then I just overreacted-"
Dazai hasn't /forgotten/ the day he asked Chuuya if his father had hit him before. It didn't slip his notice when Chuuya avoided answering.

It's not /lost/ on him that Chuuya gets skittish at times over things that don't always make /sense/.

"I don't think you overreacted."
Chuuya squeezes his eyes shut. "I don't know if I can do this until I graduate. It's only been a few weeks, and it's been /great/ when I'm here, but everywhere else--"

Dazai hugs him tighter.

"-he's going to show up /here/ eventually. It's a matter of time."

"And then if he /does/ find me here and I leave again, he'll just drag me back over and over--" his breathing is speeding up.


"--and I can't ask your uncle to put up with /that/, he's already done a lot--"

"Chuuya, I think you should--"

"--and what if--?"
"--what if he tries to go after /you?/" Dazai wants to say it would be really, /really/ unfortunate day for Mr. Nakahara if he tried, but that's not the issue at hand.

"Chuuya," he shakes his shoulders, hard, and Chuuya snaps out of it, looking up at him, dazed and breathless.
"I think you're having a panic attack," Dazai explains softly. It's different, from the one's he's had after the accident--but not /completely/ unrecognizable.

"I'm--I'm fine, I'm just--"

"You're not," Dazai makes him sit down. "And Chuuya, come on--I /know/ you."
"What does that have to do with--?" Dazai kisses his forehead, and suddenly--

Chuuya feels a /little/ calmer.

"You don't get scared without a reason," really, it's easy to forget, with how things had been lately, but--

Chuuya is /the/ toughest person Dazai knows.
"You're not overreacting. You aren't making a big deal out of nothing." Dazai looks so /serious/, it's almost /strange/. "And /he/ doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt," Dazai reminds him gently, pushing Chuuya's hair away from his face. "/You do/."

Chuuya slumps.
“But I /could/ have to go back,” Chuuya mumbles. “And then—“

“And then you’ll get back out, or—Chuuya, /look/—“ Dazai has always been great with words, but never with /feelings/. He’s aware of them, yes, but /voicing/ them? That’s different. “I would always come after you.”
“You can’t—“

“I /can./“ Dazai nods emphatically. “I would be the most /annoying/, most /persistent/ rescuer, to the point where they might just give you back to get rid of me.”

Chuuya hates it, but he’s /smiling/ a little. “You’re an idiot—“

“Exactly. With no sense of shame.”
Chuuya distinctly remembers Dazai knocking over a /priest/ when he came chasing him down the street, and he can’t say he’s /wrong/.

And he knows Dazai is exaggerating and being silly to make him feel better, and...

It would be a lie to say it wasn’t working.

“I believe you.”
Dazai doesn’t exactly hover after that—it’s never been his style—but he does keep a close eye on Chuuya for the rest of the night.

And when Chuuya shows up in Dazai’s room after midnight, he wordlessly lifts up the covers so the redhead can crawl in and join him.
Chuuya knows things aren’t okay—and that they probably won’t be for a while. But Dazai’s arms wrap around him, and they’re in a cocoon of down comforter, and—

Just for that time, in the space between Dazai’s arms, everything /feels/ okay.

The next day, he drops Judo and Soccer
His friends question it, his teachers worry—but it wasn’t like he had a /choice/.

Gin slips into the habit of sneaking him out through the faculty doors each day, and that routine starts to feel solid.

The only downside is all of the newfound freetime—which is almost unbearable
Chuuya didn’t notice before, because he was always too busy—but—

Dazai has a surprisingly /packed/ schedule. Student government on Thursdays, baseball on Mondays, Tuesday’s, and Friday’s—

It makes Chuuya wonder how Dazai found the time for tutoring him so often.
Chuuya’s texting Dazai about it, complaining about the long, boring afternoon he has ahead of him—

// Dazai: Well, maybe you can’t go to your own practices, but you could always come to mine.

// Chuuya: ??

// Dazai: Baseball practice. My school is on your way home anyway.
// Chuuya: Am I even allowed...?

// Dazai: Sure! I decree it!

// Chuuya: I don’t think student body presidents can do that

// Dazai: 😘😘😘

Chuuya stares at the emojis for a moment with a bewildered sigh.

Dazai isn’t really wrong—Chuuya /doesn’t/ have anything better to do.
Chuuya makes his usual detour with Gin, walks with her to the station—and on the ride home, he sees kids in Dazai’s school uniform getting /on/ and—

Ah, what the /hell./

One thing Dazai did not warn Chuuya about: his campus is /huge./

It takes him 30 minutes to find the field.
It takes exactly seven seconds after his arrival for Chuuya to regret all of his life choices.


Chuuya’s head whips to the side at the noise, zoning in on the batter, who is now poised at the end of his swing. The ball travels in a perfect arc, and it keeps going—
—until it’s disappears behind the fence.

“Ne, Edogawa-sensei—“ Dazai tugs off his helmet, “do I have to run the bases, or can we skip that part?”

“Conditioning, Dazai.”

“But it’s just practice—!” He whines, turning around to start running.

And then he sees Chuuya.
“Hey—“ he’s jogging over, and—

Chuuya’s Brain isn’t properly functioning.

Sure, he’s aware that Dazai is taller than him, broader than him—but—

He’s never been so vividly aware of the other teenager’s biceps before, and—

It’s /distracting./ “I wasn’t sure if you were coming—“
“Well—“ Chuuya frowns at how strangled his voice sounds and he clears his throat. “You were right, I had nothing better to do, so...”

“Is that kid from another school?”

“He is, sensei—“ Dazai calls back, placing a hand on Chuuya’s shoulder, “he’s my b—“

They both pause.
Dazai glances over at Chuuya, and the redhead /knows/ Dazai didn’t mean to put him on the spot, so—

“You can—“ Chuuya is trying /so/ hard to keep his eyes on Dazai’s face, “—you can say boyfriend, if you want—“

Dazai gives him a short not before resuming, “—my boyfriend!”
Chuuya doesn’t miss the complete and total /shock/ on the other player’s faces, and for a minute he feels himself starting to tense up—

But Dazai doesn’t look worried or upset at all.

If anything he looks kinda...proud?

“Yeah well, he’ll get the boot if the assistant—“
“—principal sees him.” The coach shrugs, sitting back with his clipboard.

“He’s /fine/,” Dazai snorts. “His sister came to /half/ of our practices last season, and she didn’t go here either.”

“He’s right, sensei!” Kenji shouts over. “She used to heckle Sakunosuke!”
“Heckle?” Chuuya blinks, trying to imagine his sister ‘heckling’ someone. “Ane-san?”

Yosano is /cackling/ at the memory, and Oda is scarlet behind his catcher’s mask.

“If that’s what you call wolf whistling when he ran the bases—“

Well. Chuuya would rather /die/, but—
—looking at Dazai right now, be kind of /understands/ the urge.

“Well, you’ve introduced him—now finish running the bases.”

“But it’s out of the—!”

“NOW, Dazai.”

Chuuya ends up on the bench with Edogawa-sensei and Yosano, and it’s actually—kind of—

Fun. It’s /genuinely/ fun.
Dazai keeps talking to his teammates when he’s on the bases with them, glancing back at Chuuya and /grinning/, and everytime he does it, Chuuya’s chest gets a little warmer.

And getting to watch his—well, /boyfriend/—slam three home runs in an hour, well—

Damn it, it’s /sexy/.
He always runs past Chuuya with this cocky smile, and the redhead /knows/ he’s showing off, and—

The only /annoying/ part of it is that Dazai is so /good/ at it, when Chuuya has yet to see the boy be bad at /anything./

“Hey—“ it’s towards the end of practice, “—we haven’t met.”
Chuuya glances up to see a tall blonde standing in front of him while the other boys jog off towards the showers. “Kunikida Doppo,” he offers his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

Chuuya raises an eyebrow, and he reaches out to shake it. “Nakahara Chuuya—nice time meet you too.”
“I know who you are—“ Kunikida rubs the back of his neck. “He never mentioned you two were dating—but Dazai talks about you a /lot./“

Chuuya’s heart skips a beat. /Oh./

“That’s actually why I’m here.”

“It is?”

“Yeah...” Kunikida looks so serious, for someone near Chuuya’s age
Chuuya doesn’t know what he’s expecting, but Kunikida bows deeply from the waist. “I wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done.”

Chuuya blinks, looking around, like Kunikida must be talking to someone /else./ “Everything /I’ve/ done?”

Kunikida looks just as baffled. “Yes?”
Chuuya’s baffled expression doesn’t move, and Kunikida frowns. “You really have no idea what you’ve done, do you?”


“I’ve been playing with Dazai since we started middle school. Last April, none of us knew what to do to help him, and then he just...stopped coming.”
“Oda said he had him, and we all had to trust that, but...” Kunikida’s eyes flicker back over to where Dazai is disappearing into the locker rooms, ruffling Atsushi’s hair. “After you showed up, things...started to go back to the way they were. And—he’s an /annoying/ son of a—“
“—bitch, but—“

Chuuya smiles, his eyes filled with affection. “I get it.”

Kunikida nods gruffly. “Good, well—I’m just grateful, and I—/we/—hope you stick around.”

He turns to run off after that, and Chuuya is left with his thoughts.

Honestly, he never /realized/.
Dazai emerges around 10 minutes later, freshly showered, his bangs falling in his face in a way that just makes Chuuya /sigh/—

And the other players start rushing over. “Hey! I’m Tanizaki—could you remind Dazai he owes me 300 yen? He’s never been great about—“

“I’m Nakajima, but you can call me Atsushi—you go to Kanagawa, right? That’s so cool—“

“Kenji here! Thanks for making Dazai-senpai come back, Sakaguchi-senpai is great and all, but—“

“—I did my BEST, dammit—!”

Chuuya is swarmed with shaking hands, memorizing names—
“—you were the center forward for Kanagawa, right? Dude, you’re a /monster/—“

“Well, I was, but I had to quit—“ Chuuya mutters, biting his cheek.

Atsushi blinks innocently. “Really? But—you’re one of the /best/, how—?”

“OH-kay~!” Dazai places his hands on Chuuya’s shoulders.
“I’m taking the chibi home, you can gawk at him next time!” Dazai calls, steering him off.

“Dazai, we didn’t even get to ask him for anything embarrassing—!”

“Wait, is there gonna be a next time—?”

Their voices fade off into the distance as Dazai leads them towards the gates.
“Sorry,” Dazai sighs, dropping his hands from Chuuya’s shoulders, instead reaching down to twine their fingers together. “They’re overbearing.”

Chuuya glances down at their hands, his heart pumping faster. His first instinct is to pull away, because someone could /see/—
—but then he remembers how /good/ it had felt, seeing how happy Dazai had been to introduce Chuuya as his /boyfriend/, and—

What the hell should he be embarrassed for?

He squeezes Dazai’s hand a little tighter. “I liked them—they seemed cool.”

Dazai snorts. “/Cool/ isn’t the—“
“—exact word I would use. But they’re alright.” When Chuuya glances over, he can see how /affectionate/ Dazai’s eyes are when he talks about them, and it makes the shorter boy smile.

“I guess I’m gonna have to learn more about baseball.” Dazai quirks an eyebrow.
“Oh? You’re coming again?”

“It was better than staying at home and feeling sorry for myself.” Chuuya shrugs. “And...” his eyes drift off as he thinks about /watching/ Dazai again, and— “I don’t know, it was fun.”

“Well then,” Dazai puts on a mock serious expression—
“Prepare to be /instructed/.”

Compared to tutoring Chuuya in calculus and chemistry, curling up under a blanket on the sofa and showing him old Yankees games is /considerably/ more enjoyable.

And Chuuya’s level of /focus/ when he’s watching the game? It’s surprisingly endearing
They end up in the batting cages that Saturday, with Dazai standing behind Chuuya and guiding his elbows, showing him how to swing—

And sure, they have to stop /several times/ when Dazai pulls Chuuya out of the batting lane to kiss him instead, but—

Chuuya /does/ learn.
A couple of weeks later, Ango is starting to miss practices without their /other/ coach. Edogawa-sensei is barking out orders as usual, but then—

“Hey! Sakaguchi! You call that a /pitch/?” The redhead yells from behind the fence, wearing a baseball cap and a t-shirt.

“It was /wide/ and a ref would’ve called it! I’m shocked Oda managed to catch it!”

Ango looks to Ranpo for assistance, but all he gets in return is a nod, as if to indicate—

‘You heard him.’

Oda, for his part, is surprised at how quickly and how easily Chuuya became a fixture.
It seems as though Kouyou’s little brother came with a /different form/ of heckling.

Chuuya is leaning back against the fences, pretending not to watch Dazai too closely, when he hears Atsushi comment—

“I can’t believe we only have four games left with the third years.”
Chuuya is still, and Atsushi and Tanizaki keep on going on about it as they load stray balls up into the cart. “I know—graduation’s only two months away now, right?”

“Yeah—and then we’ll be /second/ years/, and Dazai, Kunikida, Sakaguchi, and Oda will be—“

Chuuya swallows hard.

It’s not like it hasn’t occurred to him /before./

Obviously it has.

How does time slip by so /fast?/

“You’re pretty quiet today,” Dazai comments on the walk home.

Chuuya glances down at their intertwined fingers. “Just thinking, I guess.”

“That’s scary.”
Chuuya gives him a /look/, and Dazai snorts, pulling him in to give the redhead a loud, /obnoxious/ kiss on the side of his head. “Because you /over/ think, chibi. What is it?”

“Have you decides where you’re going for university yet?”

Dazai wrinkles his nose. “Oh. That.”
Chuuya knows it’s between Kyoto and Tokyo, and the difference between the two is /vast./

One is an hour away, and the other—it’s half a day’s train ride.

“Tokyo, I guess.”

“You’re taking the decision seriously, right?”

Dazai frowns. “Of course I am.”
Chuuya glances away. “ ‘Tokyo, I guess’ doesn’t sound that serious.”

“What? You want me to go to Kyoto?”

/No./ A very selfish, very loud voice in Chuuya’s head wants him to never graduate at all, or to tuck himself into Dazai’s suitcase so they could get out of here /together/—
But that wasn’t what was going to happen.

“I don’t want you to go to Tokyo just because you’re worried about me.”

“Chuuya—they’re both great schools, Tokyo is ranked higher half the time. It doesn’t make a huge difference—“

“But it sort of /does/, Dazai. The reason matters.”
“If I get the same education either way, it really doesn’t—“

“What if you’re forty years old, and you look back and think— ‘aw man, I should’ve gone to Kyoto.’ And you didn’t because of a boy you dated in highschool? That’s just—“

Dazai’s expression darkens. “Wait—“
“—you’ll also be the boy I dated in college. And after, hopefully—Chuuya—“ Dazai turns his head to look at him, and he looks—

Kind of /upset./ “Do you think I’m just going to /dump/ you while I’m away and then regret my school choices?”

Chuuya is pointedly looking away.
“Chuuya, look at me—“

“Not when you’re about to tell me I’m being an idiot—“

“Well, you /are./“ Dazai snaps, and Chuuya winces. He moves to pull his hands out of Dazai’s, but the taller boy doesn’t let him.

“What are you—Dazai, let /go/ of me—!”

Dazai refuses.
He drags the redhead, protesting, practically hissing, around the corner and presses him into the brick wall lining one of the restaurants on their street. “Look at me.”

Chuuya /won’t./


If he /does/, Dazai is gonna make him change his mind—

Chuuya looks up, because he can’t /stand/ how sad Dazai sounds—

And to his horror, Dazai looks so /sad/. “Do you have /any idea/ what you mean to me?”

The words slam into Chuuya, knocking out all radio communications, and he doesn’t have words.

“I—“ his lips won’t /work./ “I—“
“Because I don’t,” Dazai isn’t teasing, he isn’t self assured—he’s just...pained. “Every time I try to put a word to it, it just...doesn’t feel like enough.”

Oddly enough, Chuuya knows exactly what he means.

The feeling in his chest when Dazai is around, when he’s touching him—
It feels like it’s all too much, like one skipped heartbeat too many, and he’ll fall to pieces.

“But I—“ Dazai grits his teeth, and Chuuya wants to tell him to stop, that he gets Dazai isn’t great at talking about his feelings, that it’s /okay/—

“The last time someone was—“
“—this important to me—“

It almost sounds like /admitting/ how important Chuuya is, is somehow /painful/ for Dazai, and—

And Chuuya gets it.

“I’m sorry,” he reaches up, cupping Dazai’s face in his hands. “I was—“ he pulls Dazai in, letting the third year press his face into—
—his neck. “—being an idiot.”

The last person Dazai cared about this much is /gone./

“Yeah,” Dazai mumbles into his skin. “I know.”

“I don’t think you’re gonna ditch me or something, okay?” Chuuya mumbles. “I just...don’t think I should be a factor in the decision.”
“If I promise you that, will you have a /little/ more faith in me?”

Chuuya swallows hard.

“Yeah, Dazai,” he mutters. “I can do that.”

Later that night, Dazai is staring at his ceiling with frustration.

He /knows/ how much he cares about Chuuya. Why is it so hard to say?
“Dazai?” He can hear Chuuya’s voice outside of his door. “Can I come in?”

Chuuya’s never felt the need to ask /before/, and now Dazai feels guilty.

“Yeah,” Dazai frowns, “of course you can—“ he sits up as the door opens, and then—

And then his brain /short circuits./
Chuuya is standing in the doorway, looking apologetic. “Are you still mad?”

Dazai was never mad at /him/, but he can’t find the words to say that right now.

“That’s,” Dazai blinks, struck completely /dumb/, “that’s /my/ shirt.”

“Uh,” Chuuya glances down at himself. “Yeah?”
“All of mine are in the wash, so I grabbed yours out of the dryer.” It’s one of his old team t-shirts from his second year, the neck slipped the side, exposing Chuuya’s shoulder.

It reaches mid thigh on him, and—

Dazai feels like he might be /dying./

Chuuya’s legs are bare.
Chuuya looks a little confused, and still wary after Dazai’s outburst from earlier. “Is that okay? Because I—“

“It’s—“ Dazai clears his throat, because he sounds like a /strangled cat./ “It’s fine.”

“Okay,” Chuuya steps inside, closing the door behind him “Look, about earlier—“
Earlier? What earlier? That was a different life, a different Dazai—right now he feels like a whole new man, one ready to face the world, or really just—

“I didn’t mean to make it sound like you don’t care about me.” Chuuya walks over, sitting on the edge of the bed.
“I just...you’ve done a /lot/ for me, Dazai—and I l—“ Chuuya’s face gets red, and Dazai would’ve noticed that if his brain could focus on something else other than the fact that his hand is exactly /three inches/ from the redhead’s bare thigh. “—I appreciate you for that—“
Really, why is this such a big deal?

Dazai has been with /plenty/ of girls. Up close. Sometimes head first. Plenty of them in something more seductive than an old baseball t-shirt. Why is he freaking out?

Why does Chuuya’s skin look so /soft?/

“Dazai? Are you listening?”
“Uh-huh.” Even Dazai knows he sounds /so/ ridiculous, like his mouth is full of marbles, but somehow Chuuya keeps /going/—

“I just...if you go to school somewhere far away, we’ll figure it out. I just don’t want you to resent me eventually, that’s all.”

“I,” Dazai /gulps/.
Chuuya is turning to face him, and it’s making the shirt shift and crawl further up the swell of his thigh, and—

“I wouldn’t resent you.” Dazai forces himself to make eye contact with Chuuya, because he doesn’t want to get caught /staring/ in this situation, that would be worse.
Really, he can’t give the answer /any/ thought right now, but it feels like what he might say if he wasn’t /incredibly/ distracted.

“I think I’m starting to get that, but...you’re...” Chuuya sighs, his brow furrowing with frustration. “Don’t be an ass when I say this, okay?”
There’s another wheezed, ‘Okay’ and Chuuya shifts /just/ before Dazai’s fingertips can brush against his leg, and he’s starting to feel like a cartoon character running into a mural painted on the side of a rock face.

“You’re /so/ fucking special, Dazai.”

His brain stops again.
It’s not the first time he’s heard it. Or the tenth. But it’s been a long time.

// “Do you have any idea how special you are, kid? Don’t waste that big brain of yours!” //

“I mean, you KNOW how smart you are, and you’ve got so many opportunities—“

// “You have to say that!” //
// “You’re my mom!” //

“So if you threw any of that away because of me, even if /you/ didn’t resent me for it—“

// “Anyone with two eyes can tell, sweetheart.” //

“—/I/ would resent myself for it—“

“Chuuya...” Dazai puts a hand on his shoulder to make him stop talking.
His brain still feels like it’s roiling in the waves, and he’s struggling to find the words, but he /tries./ “I promise—I’ll take it seriously. Okay?”

Chuuya nods, biting his lip, and Dazai reaches out to brush over it with his thumb. “If anything—“ Dazai takes a deep breath—
“—you’ve been a good thing, when it comes to me and school. When I met you—Chuuya, I was such a /wreck/, I wasn’t even trying anymore—and now—“

Dazai has the words, but they’re so hard to /say./

He studied /so/ hard for his entrance exams the first time, because—
—his mom had been /so/ proud. And then after she was gone...

It just didn’t seem to matter anymore.

It didn’t /start/ to matter again until he had someone he was studying with, someone to /impress/ and now—

Someone that /believes/ in him.
And sure, technically, Mori has believed in him this entire time, but he doesn’t /count./

“Now I want to try, okay? I just—“ he cups Chuuya’s cheek with his hand. “Want to prioritize the things that make me happy. I don’t think I’ll ever resent that.”

Now Chuuya is /scarlet./
And now that the conversation is reaching a lull Dazai is leaning in, because dear god he /has to/, and Chuuya’s eyes are slipping shut.

Once Chuuya’s mouth is on his, it feels like a /release./ Dazai wraps his arms around him, pulling him forward insistently, and—
—Chuuya is slowly swinging his leg up onto the bed, and Dazai can’t open his eyes and turn his head to /look, but—

He can tug Chuuya forward until the redhead shifts forward, one leg sliding on the other side of Dazai’s waist and—

Chuuya is straddling him.

/Thank you, god./
Chuuya’s arms wrap around Dazai’s shoulders as he settles into Dazai’s lap, and Dazai feels like the weight of him is the only thing that is stopping him from floating away.

The kiss is deepening, their tongues are moving together, and Dazai is trying so damn hard to just—
—/keep it together/, because they’re almost /there/—

His hands are sliding down the small of Chuuya’s back, making him shiver, and he /almost/ has the courage to slide his hands over his backside, but that mountain seems /unobtainable/ at the moment—

God damn it, this is HARD.
Chuuya doesn’t /have/ to make sounds like that, these small, gasping moans that sent shivers down Dazai’s spine, and it almost distracts him, but he’s on a /mission/—

His hands slide over Chuuya’s hips, eliciting a shiver, down to the hem of the t-shirt, and then—
His hands land on Chuuya’s thighs. The skin is /just as soft/ as it looks, firm with toned muscle underneath.

Dazai feels like he’s landed on the moon.

Like someone should shake his fucking hand.

It’s one small step for Osamu, one huge fucking leap for Dazai kind—
But then Chuuya is stiffening and his legs are quivering under Dazai’s palms, and Dazai hesitates. Did he push too far? Was it not okay? Is he—?

He starts to lift his hands from Chuuya’s legs (with /deep/ reluctance) but Chuuya shakes his head quickly against his mouth.

It’s okay, Chuuya’s just—he just—

Has sensitive thighs?

Dazai feels like he has ascended, mind he needs to pray after all of this is over. He digs his fingertips in, and Chuuya /moans./


Oh dear /god./

Dazai starts sliding his hands /up./
Chuuya isn’t stopping him, and Dazai almost can’t believe this is happening. Is—is it about to /happen?/ Dazai doesn’t have any lube yet (but /fuck/, he’s ordering it on amazon after this) but they can do /other stuff/, right?

And then Dazai’s hands hit fabric.

/Damn it./
Chuuya. Sweet, unintentionally fucking /sadistic/ Chuuya, has been wearing shorts this entire time.

The shorter, athletic kind.

The kind you can’t see under an oversized t-shirt.

Dazai feels /fucking bamboozled./

And he’s still harder than he’s ever been in his entire life.
“Dazai?” Chuuya leans back from the kiss, raising an eyebrow when he hears his boyfriend let out a strangled whimper. “You okay?”

Dazai opens his mouth to say yes, this is /fine/, everything’s /fine/, but—

“Boys!” Mori’s voice from downstairs is the final nail in Dazai’s coffin
“I brought Chinese for dinner!”

Dazai drops his head against Chuuya’s chest.


“Just give me a second.”

Then he starts doing this dramatic muffled screaming, and Chuuya is /flailing./

“DAZAI, fuck, that /TICKLES/—!”

The next day, Oda is less than sympathetic.
“Have you two done /anything/ besides kissing before?” Dazai doesn’t lift his head from where he’s slumped over his desk.


“And you thought he was just magically going to skip to step five?”

“Don’t mock me, Odasaku,” Dazai whispers, “I can’t take it today.”
“How long did it take for you and...?”

Oda raises an eyebrow. “Me and Kouyou?”

“I always expect you to call her ‘chan’, and you never do...”

“Only when we’re alone.”

Dazai looks at him pleadingly, and Oda sighs. “A couple of months?”

Dazai’s head drops back down on his desk.
“The chibi and I have been together about that long...”

Oda throws his hands up. “I’m sure the lack of societal stigma helps. And, y’know...”


“Neither of us were coming to grips with our budding sexualities?”

Dazai wants to drive his pencil through his friend’s heart.
Chuuya feels himself slowly starting to adjust to the new normal. His friend group at school has shifted away from his friends in from soccer and towards Gin, Ryuu, and Higuchi. He’s an unofficial member of Dazai’s baseball team. He makes sure Dazai and Mori actually /eat/.
There are things he misses from /before/, yes. He misses his mom. He misses his room. Sometimes he even misses /Yuan./ Not the physical parts, but the friendship.

But he’s learning how to replace them with new things. Weekends at Odasaku’s. Lunches with Gin. /Nights/ with Dazai—
But, a little over a month after he left home, things change.

“Nakahara-kun?” He glances up from his math quiz to see his teacher standing at the front of the room, looking over a piece of paper. “You’ve been requested by the principal’s office.”

Chuuya exhales slowly.
The walk is long, and it stretches out in his head. He doesn’t know /exactly/ what this is, but he has a pretty good guess.

He manages to send off one text before he walks in.

// Chuuya: I think they came to my school.

// Dazai: Wait? Right now?

The door to the office opens.
The principal is sitting there—looking /uncomfortable./

Opposite his desk, his parents are sitting in two chairs, huddled close.

A police officer is standing in the corner.

Chuuya wants to slam the door and make it all disappear, but—

He’s awake, and that won’t work.
“Chuuya—“ his mother stands up, rushing over and pulling him into her embrace. “We—“ she chokes back tears, “we’ve been looking /all over/ for you. How could you /do this?/“

Chuuya doesn’t move. His father isn’t speaking. His father isn’t even /looking/ at him.
He forces himself to move, to pat her arms awkwardly, because he doesn’t feel /comfortable/ hugging her—

And he /hates/ that.

“Nakahara-kun...” his principal looks wary. “Have a seat.”

Chuuya’s mother gives him a small push, and he forces himself to sit down.
“Your parents,” he gestures to them, and Chuuya’s father /still/ won’t look away from the window. “Have reported you as a runaway. Now—I know my teenage years were hard myself—but we both know that you belong at home.”

Chuuya’s mother has wadded up tissues in her hands.
Chuuya is staring at a fixed point on the wall where the paint is starting to chip.

“But if there’s something you would like to tell me or Officer Seijo, please,” his principle says emphatically, “now is the time.”

There are things that they never explain on TV.
You always stare at the screen and think to yourself, ‘Why didn’t they tell? Why didn’t they just /say?/ something?’

Chuuya has been raised, his entire life up until this moment, to not make a scene. That’s the entire reason it took his parents a /month/ to file a police report.
They didn’t want to deal with the embarrassment of admitting that their child didn’t want to be at home. And it’s that frustration, that fury and /humiliation/, that Chuuya can feel radiating off of his father right now.

It’s already /bad./

It’s so, /so/ bad.
There are things Chuuya will learn later, when he’s an adult and can advocate for himself, about why this was /wrong./

But the most important thing among all of the mistakes made that day, was that his parents weren’t asked to leave the room first.
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