Okay hear me out a coffee shop AU but one where Dazai is trying to stay sober but he just goes to get himself a coffee whenever he wants a drink, so he's there all the time, and slowly falling for the redhead behind the counter, always writing lyrics on the back of receipts.
Featuring Chuuya wearing his hair in a messy bun, a green apron, and ripped jeans, + Dazai with stubble and oversized sweaters, + fidgeting fingers around the edge of his coffee cup whenever Chuuya smiles at him.

He doesn't know how to make himself go the to meetings yet.
Dazai's mother hasn't called him since he went to rehab. He doesn't know how to talk to his friends without it turning into an impromptu wellness check.

He relishes in the growing familiarity with the name tag he sees everyday, written in slightly messy script.

Dazai practices new questions to ask the barista in his head on the walk to class, trying to decide if it sounds creepy, overly familiar.

The first time Chuuya refers to him as one of his 'regulars,' Dazai's face feels /warm/, in spite of the cold outside.
Chuuya lives in the apartment above the shop, and some nights he sits out on his balcony with his guitar, strumming out soft chords with a glass of wine next to him, watching the sun go down.

He doesn't know when he started writing songs about the boy with the sad smile.
One day Dazai bumps into him on his break, a little surprised when he sees the cigarette dangling between the redhead's fingers, and when Chuuya catches him starting, he raises an eyebrow.

"Oh, sorry--" he throws his hands up with a nervous, apologetic smile.
"I didn't know you smoked."

Chuuya glances down at the cigarette and shrugs, sheepish. "It's a shitty habit," he smiles up at Dazai, self deprecating. "Can't seem to kick it."

Dazai's snort is /accidental/, loud, and /adorable./

"Trust me--" his eyes /dance/, "--I get it."
Dazai learns 9 p.m. is the best time to come. Half an hour before they shut their doors, when he can just lean back against the counter and watch Chuuya get ready to close the cafe.

The redhead, to his surprise, never seems to mind the company.

"Hey, beanpole--"
Dazai practically trips over himself at the demanding tone, almost missing the counter when he sets down his cup, completely failing in his efforts to strike a 'cool' pose. "What's-" he clears his throat, "-what's up?"

"You gonna buy something else?"

Dazai's anxiety skyrockets.
"Uh," the brunette swallows thickly. Before, he used to be a pretty articulate guy. As a /matter of fact/, with a couple of drinks in him, he can be the /funniest/ guy you'll ever meet. "Do I need to?"

Sober, he tends to flail, still shaky as he tries to walk without a crutch.
Chuuya's stern expression cracks after a couple of moments. "/No/, you /dork./" He grins, shaking his head. "Can you put some boxes back in stock for me? Tachihara was supposed to do it before he clocked out, but..." he scratches the back of his head. "He flaked."
Logically, Dazai's brain is telling him it's weird Chuuya would ask. he doesn't work here. They barely even talk, but--

Then it occurs to him, these shelves are probably kinda /high/, and he has to bite back the urge to /giggle./

"Something funny?"

"...Sure, where are they?"
Dazai /wants/ to make a comment about how Chuuya should get a stepladder at work. You know, for equal employment opportunities.

But he doesn't think they're /there/ yet.

Chuuya smiles and thinks him before he locks up--

--and maybe, Dazai thinks, he'll make that joke tomorrow.
Chuuya is also a pretty affective hall monitor, it would seem.

"/Oi/, bandages!" Dazai jumps, over-energized, holding his phone a little too tightly.

The other customers stare as Dazai leans out of line to stare at the register, a deer in the headlights. "Yeah?"
"You never come in on Wednesday mornings," Chuuya's eyes narrow, one hand on his hip, the other aggressively handing a man (who did nothing wrong) back his credit card "You have class, don't you?"

"Uh," Dazai rubs the back of his head, surprised by the public shaming "I'm sick?"
The woman in front of him takes one big, dramatic step away, covering her mouth.

Chuuya is disbelieving. "You look fine to me."

Dazai twirls a finger in his hair, like an /idiot/, "Oh my god, you really think so?"

Chuuya slams his usual down on the counter. "Take it and /go./"
Dazai walks up to the front, feeling his heartbeat in his fingertips when he reaches out to take the cup. "I don't have cash on me--"

"Just go /to class./" Chuuya rolls his eyes, poking Dazai right between the eyes.

That spot is /warm/ for the rest of the day.
One day, Dazai pauses in the pharmacy, head tilting to the side.

/ "The day where /every/ woman should feel special." /

Oh. Right.

Valentine's Day.

They took his adderall ages ago, and when he spends forty five minutes going through cards, he blames it on /that./
There's /one/ that has glitter across the front, leaving the cover scratchy and obnoxious, with two unicorns on the front, jumping over a rainbow in unison.

/ "Loving you is ~magical~" /

He convinces himself tucking his debit card inside of it when he pays would be /hysterical/
It's stuffed into his back pocket, a half formed idea for most of the day. Maybe he'll have the nerve, maybe he won't. Maybe he'll /actually/ do it, but make it into some sort of /joke/ when Chuuya reacts. That sounds like him.

Really, Dazai could think of anything /remotely/
disgraceful and say to himself, 'Yeah, that sounds like me.'

But /hey/, people usually laugh.

With him or at him, it's better than being alone in his head.

The bell tinkling behind him is an established part of his routine, but then he looks up, his heart plummets.

Normally, this time of day, it's just them.

The other customers clear out after 7--and Dazai spends the last hour or so of Chuuya's shift helping him stock, making shitty little comments here and there.

The guy leaning against the counter--he isn't a /part/ of that routine.
Dazai is pretty familiar with the little green monster in his gut. It's been around ever since he was a kid, simultaneously telling him he /needs/ more and that he /isn't/ enough.

Chuuya doesn't seem /any happier/ than he is.

"You can't keep showing up here, alright?"

Dazai hasn't wanted to gut someone since he could still taste /vodka/, and now--

That feeling is back. Loud and resounding.

The stranger takes Chuuya's hand, twining their fingers together "What else am I supposed to do? You changed the /locks./"

Dazai's eyes narrow
Now, clinically, Dazai lost his mind three years ago.

So doing /this/, it isn't the worst thing he's ever done.

But it /might/ be the stupidest.

And coming from someone with /3/ misdemeanors and a pending court date, that's /saying something./

"He bothering you, sweetheart?"
Both men glance up, surprised, as Dazai strides in, hands in his pockets.

Chuuya's jaw is slack as he arches one perfectly manicured eyebrow, and for a second, Dazai is wallowing in his own idiocy.

"You get off soon, right? I made our reservation for nine, remember?"
He watches understanding slowly dawn in the redhead's expression, and he wouldn't /blame/ Chuuya for saying something along the lines of,

/ 'Um, /no/, you complete fucking creep, I /don't/ remember.' /

"...Yeah," Chuuya answers slowly, eyes fixed on Dazai. "I'm finishing up."
The guy at the counter slowly turns around, looking his rival up and down.

He's shorter than Dazai--/most/ people are--but he probably has at least ten pounds on him in muscle, and he's...

Older than Dazai would have expected.

"...You're seeing someone?"

Chuuya's expression
is tense. "It's none of your business," he mutters, tossing down the rag he's using to wipe down the counter. "How many times do I have to tell you to get lost--"

The man shrugs, looking Dazai up and down. "You run around with broke college kids now?" He snorts derisively.
"That isn't like you."

Dazai doesn't like the feeling lurking behind Chuuya's eyes. He's too familiar with it to want to see it on /his/ face.


The brunette straightens to his full height, startling both men, since Dazai's habit of /slouching/ hides how he can tower.
"I'm broke?" He smiles smugly, letting his sleeve slip down /just/ enough to display his watch as he leans against the counter next to him, sly as an alley cat. "That's news to me." He looks at Chuuya again, raising an eyebrow. "You didn't answer me before--is he bothering you?"
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