Dazai faking his death, leaving behind a note with his last will. It says that he wants Chuuya to leave the PM to start a new life.

All he can do is to watch from afar as Chuuya cries over an empty grave. He leaves wiping away tears, knowing Chuuya'll only live when he's gone
He knows it hurts. Not only him but Chuuya too. But with all that has happened he knows it's the only chance Chuuya has.

It's Dazai's name that's on the hitlist, not Chuuya's – at least not yet. And Dazai is willing to pay every price for it to stay that way.

And if that means
eradicting every chance of being ever associated with Chuuya again, so shall it be.

He has thrown away everything. The reports of their joint missions, every gift card signed with either of their names. Has thrown away every picture, deleted every video.

What hurt most, however
was the lease contract with Chuuya's name at the bottom, only waiting for Dazai to put his name down next to it.

And it is all his fault.

He's known that he has only mere days left before they'll hunt him down. So he works quickly. Thoroughly.

But it gives him a lot of time
to overthink everything.

What would be. What has been. How it has been.

And while they have had a comfortable life, he has come to the conclusion that it isn't worth it.

Chuuya likes his job. But he would love pursuing his passion more.

So he makes sure to let Chuuya know
a few days after his 'death's that there is a prestigious winery for sale in France.

And no matter how much it hurts, how many screams of pain caused by a shattered heart Chuuya will confine in his apartment, how many silent tears Dazai will shed knowing that Chuuya's hurting
it's the only way he sees out of this. There is no sense in chasing his persecutors. They are too many.

So he makes sure they can both disappear. For one reason or another. And that Chuuya can and will be safe.

Chuuya is a smart one, a loyal and lovable one. Dazai doesn't doubt
a second that he will find happiness again. Even if it takes months, years... Chuuya will find another reason to keep going. If for Dazai's last will.

And Dazai? He will come round. He always does.
There is one thing, however, Dazai isn't ready to throw away and he doesn't think he'll ever be throw away. And it's so cliche, plot of every bad romance movie and book... but he has had the ring ordered.

And even after the funeral, after seeing his better half broken and
grieving, even after he has left the country, he returns. Just to pick the rings he has already paid for.

He doesn't have the heart to leave them behind.

They are a sad reminder of a future he has hoped for. Maybe not an ideal future but one where they would have been together.
Bound together with a golden chain, he carries both rings around his neck at all times.

Sometimes, it feels good to hurt.

And when he's already there, he can't stop himself from checking on Chuuya.

He can't be seen, he can't let anyone know. But he just wants to see Chuuya.
One last time.

To see his the art his features were, a man beautiful in everyway.

He doesn't ask for more. Just a glimpse.

But the apartment that once was Chuuya's is empty. Dazai recognises immediately that Chuuya is gone, the balcony empty, not even the ashtray left.
He smiles into the darkness of the night, a longing aching in his chest, mixing with relief.

If Chuuya isn't there that means he has followed Dazai's wish. And maybe, Chuuya is already in France, trying to enjoy his life as best as he can.
And it means that Dazai isn't tempted. He can't to anything considered stupid or reckless.

This way, Chuuya will continue to stay safe.

Because Dazai isn't quite sure if he would have been able to keep himself in line.

He leaves Japan as he has come: undetected and alone.
Dazai really tries to to stay away.

It's only after months that he dares to make an inquiry. He just needs to know if Chuuya really is where he thinks he is.

He cries when he hears that Chuuya is indeed in France, having purchased the winery along with a manor close by.
He doesn't dare to pry further for he knows he won't be able to stop if he doesn't know.

It's only another year later that he looks into Chuuya's life again, sitting in a rundown internet cafe in Uruguay.

Chuuya has made a name of his brand. Winning international prices with
the new sort of wine he's introduced.

He has called it 'Double Black'.

Despite having told himself he wouldn't look into Chuuya's personal life, the information is just one click away...

Chuuya looks so happy. A beautiful lady by his side. A successful business man.
Just as Dazai has predicted.

Chuuya would find happiness again, without Dazai by his side.

And Dazai? He's... alright. Living day by day. Trying to outsmart and obliterate the few people who do hunt him down.

All that matters is that Chuuya is happy and safe.
Three more years pass.

But not a single day where Dazai isn't thinking of Chuuya.

He wants to know how he's doing, what he's doing, if he's alright, if he's enjoying France.

All the things that once he would have known at all times.

The rings against his neck are a weight
that haunts him as much as it provides comfort.

Letting go seems impossible and is something, Dazai has come to terms with that it won't ever happen.

Nothing and nobody will ever be able to replace Chuuya.

Dazai has taken to checking Chuuya's webpage in frequent intervals.
Everytime he switches cities or countries, the first thing he finds is an internet cafe. By now he also has seen places many would only ever dream of seeing. To him, it seems meaningless.

He would have rather shared those views with a special someone.

Sometimes, the thought of
visiting Chuuya crosses his mind.

And oh, how much he would love to see his redhead again. To see his face, to hear his voice, to hold him against his chest.

And while the attacks on him have almost died out, he still can't risk exposing Chuuya to the enemy.
Another two years pass.
Two I credibly lonely days for Dazai.

Because he cannot even think about taking someone else to bed without having tears well up. He has learned to live with the sorrow.

And he is ashamed to admit, he is jealous of the woman by Chuuya's side.
He's not sure if she's his girlfriend or wife, since Chuuya has no social media and is secretive about his personal life in general.

Yet, Dazai's chest stings when he sees Chuuya's arm wrapped around her middle while he smiles. There's been a time where that would have been his

Reminding himself that he has done this to himself, that it's his responsibly that they cannot be together anymore... it's the pain he wants to be reminded of.

Chuuya has everything he wants and needs.

Dazai doesn't deserve the same.
He also has never attempted to
settle down, the lifestyle of a traveler the one he has adapted. He sees no reason to change that now.

But travelling through Europe has never been easy. It's when he's always felt close to Chuuya, in a strange way.

It's been half a decade.
Half a decade without Chuuya.
It feels like a day, the memories still so vivid in his mind. At the same time it feels like a life time.

When he wakes up in a hostel one morning, head pounding as he has retreated to the cheapest of escapes,he finds himself surprised to see a payment confirmation in his mails.
He can't possibly go to France.

Out of all places in the world, France is the last one he should visit. Not because of the still unlikely possibility to run into Chuuya, but more because he knows himself.

He won't be able to resist.

But so many years have passed.
So many tears have flown and dried. So many lessons have been taught and so many new experienced have been collected.

Half a decade.

Chuuya has long gotten over Dazai.

Would Chuuya even want to see him after all the pain he has caused him? Would he ever be able to forgive?
While Dazai is desperate to see Chuuya again, he is also... scared.

Deeply scared of what a reunion would come with and scared that it might leave him behind more broken than he already is.

The only thing worse than leaving Chuuya? Being rejected by Chuuya. He wouldn't be
able to deal with that.

But there is the ticket. Almost mocking him, calling him, teasing him.

Dazai's torn between his common sense and deepest desires. He is convinced that Chuuya will loathe him upon recognition; won't want him in his life.

The flight seems to last days.
For the first time since his escape Dazai allows himself the luxory of a hotel. He's safe these days.
It's part of why he even dares to come to France; knowing he won't be chased anymore.

He books the last spot in a wine tasting at Chuuya's winery. Maybe, he'll see him around.
The next step is to... change his appearance.

He looks different these days. Older. Heavy bags under his eyes. His hair is shorter, shaved at the sides.

For a moment, he considers to forgo shaving for a better disguise. He does it anyway.

From afar, Chuuya won't
recognise him, not when he's not looking for Dazai. Does Chuuya even remember how he looked all those years ago?

The suit he wears is rented, but designer, the sunglasses a well-known brand.

Chuuya has not refurbished a winery – he has built a kingdom.
The tasting also includes a your around the vineyards in the beginning, and Dazai tries his best to blend into the crowd.

They are welcomed by the woman who he has seen on pictures already. She's even more beautiful in real life.

Introducing herself as Yosano, she proceeds to
explain that she will be with them during the first part of the tour. The tasting will be taken over by someone else.

All Dazai can think about is how he'd get to see Chuuya. Which has to wait though, the tour already starting.

And Dazai is impressed by what Chuuya has made of
the estate in those years, it's price and worth visible /everywhere/. It looks nothing like in the advertisement Dazai has discovered back then.

Yet, he hasn't expected anything less from Chuuya. He is so proud.
But despite being genuinely interested, he can't help but keep
an eye out for a familiar redhead.
So far, unsuccessfully.

In the cellar, the group is left alone for a few minutes, allowing them to look around a little.

Dazai will never stop to be in awe with the logo etched into the wine casks – a tiny had, with bandages wrapped around.
His heart grows heavy at the sight.

Loud footsteps are heard as someone approaches, and Dazai turns around to see the wine expert.

The man who comes down the stairs is fixing his cufflinks, face hidden by a chic hat.

Dazai knows that red hair; longer now, but unmistakable.
"Good Evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Nakahara Chuuya, and I am the owner of this little establishment. Today, I will indulge you with the finest wines you will ever drink. You think I am exaggerating? I promise you'll change your mind by nightfall."

The voice gets
directly under Dazai's skin.

And his eyes sting.

He has missed his voice so much. And him in general.

Chuuya looks just as amazing as he did in the mafia, if not even more so. He looks expensive, but still so relaxed and - as if he belongs here. There's an aura surrounding
him that Dazai has never witnessed in their time together.

The second thing he notices makes his heart painfully drop to the pits of his stomach: Chuuya is still wearing the same choker Dazai has gifted him for their first anniversary. He recognizes it instsntly.

Oh, Chuuya.
Dazai's heart is hammering in his chest. He wanted to see Chuuya.

He hasn't expected having to spent hours in the same room with him.

He's nervous. And happy to see Chuuya this... lively. And sad.

The first glasses are handed out – Dazai hasn't even caught what kind is is.
Trying his hardest to stay in the back of the crowd, he listens to Chuuya talking about the characteristics of the wine and it's production. He only listens with half an ear, more entranced by Chuuya's voice than his words.

It's still the most beautiful sound Dazai's ever heard.
Every time, Chuuya lets his gaze wander through the group, Dazai looks away.

Confronting Chuuya is – usually, he has a plan for everything, seeing three steps ahead and prepared for every possible outcome.

Right now, for the first time ever, Chuuya feels unpredictable to him.
Occasionally, Dazai feels Chuuya's gaze linger on him, burning into his skin. Is it because he senses something is off? Has he looked through his disguise?

Dazai shudders every time, taking a hasty sip from the glass he's holding that moment.

Without doubt, it's the best
wine he's ever had.

He has expected nothing less from Chuuya.

Time passes, one wine after another is tasted, the crowd exchanges their opinions, and Dazai tries hard to engage in the conversations just to stay unsuspicious.

When Chuuya comes closer, he will switch groups.
And it works.

He avoids Chuuya during the entire tasting–

Until it's time to leave, and everyone wishes the infamous Nakahara farewell personally.

And when their eyes lock, something flashes across Chuuya's face, akin to shock.

Dazai doesn't give either of them more time.
He doesn't look back as he rushes up the stairs into the main lobby. The need to get out is overwhelming, to put distance between them.

Has Chuuya recognized him? Hopefully not. Or yes? Dazai can't tell what would better or worse.

God, he should have made a plan, at least a
vague one, one with which he wouldn't have to panic as he's doing now – his breath short, his heart beating too fast.

Maybe he's overreacting but – No way he would be able to confront Chuuya?

How could he ever explain that he is still alive, not buried under the ground,
not dead.

More and more people enter the space. If he doesn't flee soon, Chuuya might come up here again and if he has a suspicion he might want to talk to him and Dazai needs to get out –

"Excuse me, Mister?"

Dazai wasn't quick enough. Behind him stands Chuuya,
undoubtedly a dressing Dazai. What... should he do?

He puts the sun glasses on, only slowly turning around and the smile on his lips stiff.

"Are you talking to me?" He forces his voice into calmness.

Chuuya stutters, suddenly not as confident as before.

"Uh-huh, yeah. I
just... Have we seen each other before?"

Well. They have not only seen each other. They have known each other. Been each others anchors. But today is not the day.

"Everything is possible. Who knows when. Thank you for the program, Nakahara, I wish you a great night."
He moves to hectically, with too little purpose. The need to get out is crushing him, breathing becoming harder and harder.

He is not ready.
Not ready for a confrontation.
Not ready for an explanation.

He should have known himself better, he has known it was a stupid idea, but
he needed to see Chuuya. Knowing that he's alright and having a good life with everything he's ever needed is all Dazai ever wanted.

He's just not part of that life anymore and he should have accepted that such a long time ago, and despite having believed he has, this encounter
is proving him wrong.

Oh how wrong he has been.

Yes, he's impolite, unfriendly, rude, but... Chuuya won't ever see him again. It's alright.

Walking away in a rush, Dazai is almost out the door, anticipating the cold night air to fill his lungs.

Suddenly, a small hand wraps
around his wrist, stopping him from walking away effectively.


It's not that Dazai would have another option. He could yank his arm free – but the touch feels so familiar. Chuuya used to hold him back like this all the time.

He can't bring himself to bolt now.
"I'm sorry to do this, but–" Chuuya's grip around him loosens, "but I – I feel like I have seen you somewhere before, and I'd just like to know where. Again, I'm sorry for prying, but it's kinda important."

Dazai dreads turning around. Fear of being recognized washes over him.
Only slowly he turns, pushing the sunglasses up further.

Deep creases have formed between Chuuya's brows.

Suspicion. That's what gleams in his eyes. They are just as blue as Dazai remembers them to be.

He doesn't know what to say.

"That might be, but I can't recall where."
He needs to find a way out of this situation, to not raise any more distrust in Chuuya. Even if he longs for him.

Theoretically, however, he is also aware that the Chuuya in front of him is not the one he knew back then, just as he isn't the same person anymore too.
But why does being around Chuuya feel like being home again then?

"Are you sure we've not met... for work related reasons once?" Chuuya asks then, letting go of Dazai.

The words ring an alarm in Dazai's mind.

Work related.

Is he referring to the mafia times?

"As said, I really can't tell, but it's... a possibility." Trying to get around a proper response, Dazai picks his words carefully. Yet, it's not enough to trick Chuuya.

His brows furrow even more, a slight snarl appears on his lips and it makes Dazai's buzz with nervousness.
"Alright then... I apologize for bothering you." Chuuya's jaw is set in tension, while a wave of relief washes over Dazai. That was a close call.

He gives Chuuya an acknowledging nod.

"There is just one more thing," Chuuya says.

What happens next, could have been prevented,
had Dazai truly focused on the situation, and hadn't he allowed himself to be lulled into a state of trance by Chuuya's voice.

So when Chuuya raises a hand, he isn't quite there to think. And when Chuuya strikes, Dazai catches his wrist calculatedly, yanking it and making Chuuya
swril around until Dazai holds him, Chuuya's back against his chest. All without letting go of Chuuya's arm.

This is the moment where Dazai is screwed.

The move is an intuitive one, muscle memory acting quicker than his brain.

When they've been younger, this has been their
thing. Chuuya would try to smack Dazai for some stupidity he has commited, but knowing his partner, Dazai always caught him effortlessly, robbing him of mobilty just to kiss him when Chuuya got upset about having failed again.

It's been a fun game to them.

This game has now
doomed him.

Dazai needs a second to proccess, to let the pieces fall into places, until the full severity of his act hits him.

What has he done?

His arms are still around Chuuya. The other is completely stiff in his grip. Dazai feels his shaky breath even before he hears it.
Should he let go?


At the same time, he really doesn't want to. Holding Chuuya... it's like filling a gap inside his heart that's been empty ever since he has faked his death.

He wants to hold onto this just a little longer.

The moment is ruined shortly after, with
Chuuya brutally breaking away from Dazai, shoving his elbow deeply into Dazai's guts, he can barely keep himself from bending over.

It will leave a dark bruise below his ribs.

But the pain is nothing in comparison the the look on Chuuya's face; shock, terror, disappointment,
pain – it all reflects in his eyes more than anywhere else.

Dazai feels his heart beginning to break again, pieces crumbling off with every heartbeat.

He has done it again. He has hurt Chuuya all over again.

Chuuya doesn't have to say anything for him to know. It's obvious.
Dazai has failed. Himself. And Chuuya.

Standing across from each other, they stare at the other in stunned silence, neither finding the right words to say.

If there even was something 'right's in this situation.

There probably isn't.

And with passing time, Chuuya's hands
shake more and more, his breath becomes stagnant and – the most excruciating to watch – his eyes water more and more.

Dazai regrets every decision he has made in the past few days.

Of all the mistakes he has ever made in his life, coming here is the worst one.

He knows
what's to come now. He just knows.

Chuuya's lips tremble as the fumbles for words, his voice breaking despite his best efforts to avoid that.

"I knew there was something wrong. Do you really think I am stupid enough to not recognise you? To not remember how you looked?
Did you really think I'd forget your voice? Do you really think so low of me? Or have you forgotten /me/?"

Every word is a knife digging it's way into Dazai's chest, hitting right where they should. He– What has he done?

No, of course not... Chuuya's always been smart.
It's exactly why a tiny part inside his mind has made him disguise like this – he has been sure Chuuya would recognise him.

Dazai just hasn't wanted to admit to himself that he wanted Chuuya to see him.

And now? What good has it done?

He should say something, explain at least
the basics.

Foremost, he should tell Chuuya how sorry he is.

Chuuya doesn't let him.

"You're a bastard, you know that?" A tear is collecting into he corner of Chuuya's eyes.
"All those years. 5 FUCKINF YEARS. For what? What have you done? Why – Know what? Forget it. Get out."
Finally, Dazai finds his speech again. Even if hoarse and raw. "Chuuya, please, let me–"


Attention is drawn towards them, several linger in guests since as Chuuya raises his voice. Screams at Dazai.

It's a clear instruction.

Dazai won't argue.
Dazai turns and leaves with hurried steps.

His expectations, if he's even had any, for the night haven't been high. All he wanted was to see Chuuya, to get a picture of how he's living and holding up. And maybe, in some time, when he would have figured out the correct approach
he would have carefully introduced himself back into Chuuya's life. Slowly, gradually, blending in.

Then they would possibly have had a chance of reconciliation, finding back to each other. Not as lovers, that would be asking for too much. Dazai would have been happy to be just


Who is he kidding.

These are things he is telling himself right not to make himself feel better about how hard he's messed up. He hasn't had a plan when coming, he has practically provoked being unmasked.

The outcome has been a foreseeable one.
Which doesn't make it hurt any less.

Rejection hurts.

It's bursts your heart from the inside.

And now, Dazai is asking himself, if this is what he subconsiouly wanted – a reason to finally stop longing for Chuuya.

His thoughts are a mess, he fails to get a clear grasp on
He fails to understand his actions.
His intention.

But he knows he has hurt Chuuya more than he thought he could ever do again. It has been so obvious in his eyes.

The most prominent emotion Dazai feels is remorse. Deep, aching remorse.
But what's done is done and there is no way to turn back time.

He has to live with the consequences. And to find a way to put some of the broken pieces back together.

His own hurt is something he can handle later. All that matter to him currently is to ease some of Chuuya's

How? He has yet to find out.

But he will try.

That night doesn't grace him with sleep, to deeply anchored inside him the anguish.

He sits at his desk until the sun rises again, a myriad of crunched paper pieces scattered all over the floor. Every single one
has no more than ten words written on it for Dazai unable to find the right words to write.

His fingers stiff, his back hurting, his eyes almost falling shut, it's past midday when he looks at the first exemplar he has managed to finish.
The wording is not perfect by any means, but it's the best he's been able to do for the entire day. And he means it.

Knowing he won't be able to make it any better he signs letter, then folds it neatly.

All that's left to do is to bring it to the post office and wait.
And wait he does.

10 days.

That's how far away the date he has propsed in the letter is, which should give Chuuya enough time to think about it.

Dazai's refrained from writing down much explanation, but he has made sure to make sure Chuuya knows he's serious with his words.
Because Dazai really wants to try. Try to explain, try to make it right, try to apologize.

Now, all he can do is wait and hope.
Hope that Chuuya will spare him at least a little of his time.

Dazai doesn't expect Chuuya to forgive him. He knows that's too much to ask for.
But he'll be more than glad if Chuuya decides to hear him out.

Those ten days pass in a blurr. Dazai doesn't remember much of them when the day arrives, having drowned them in alcohol just to be spared of the anxiety and sorrow that's raging inside his mind and chest.
The day of the meeting he wakes up sober, and it feels terrible. Dazai can't contain his nerves, he walks up and down his room like a tiger in a cage – until he can't anymore.

He arrives two hours too early though his time is better spent people-watching than loosing his sanity.
The café he's picked is a small, quiet one in a side-street in Cahors. Frequently visited but not full enough to be robbed of privacy.

The fourth tea is finished by the time Chuuya's possible arrival nears. If everything goes according to plan, Chuuya will show up within the
next five minutes.

Dazai doesn't know what urges him to buy Chuuya a coffee, just the way he likes it, but by the time the clock strikes three, it sits on the table across from Dazai. But it's alone.

While the sound of the churchbells ebbs, Dazai's stomach drops.
Until now, he hasn't been aware of just how much hope has built up inside him, keeping him going; The hope of - one last - day with Chuuya.

He realizes, no matter what the outcome would have been, Dazai would have still wanted the meet up to happen. Just to make sure where
they are standing.

All he can do now is to watch the steam of the coffee rise and fade into nothingness as it cools down, similar to the faith he's had.

To say he's disappointed is an understatement.

The sunshine casting through the windows is a cruel mockery on him.
Dark clouds shadow his heart instead.

Deep inside he has known; Chuuya wouldn't want to speak to him. It's been obvious in how he's reacted in the winery.

It's been stupid to have the tiniest spark of hope.

But Dazai has a lonely heart. He's still allowed to yearn, right?
Five more minutes.
Ten more minutes.
Fifteen more minuts.

Chuuya still isn't here.

He won't come.

And he has every right to do so. Dazai has given him a choice and Chuuya has decided.

When Dazai leaves, the tea and coffee are still sitting on the table, slowly cooling.
The rings around his neck have never felt heavier than in this moment, when everything they have ever stood for has dissolved into thin air, now nothing more than a painful memory.

Is keeping them even worth it?

Who knows.

He'll think about something. His priority is to leave

Stopping in his track, Dazai stands, his eyes darting down.

Just as he has turned the corner, Chuuya's been approaching, now standing right in front of him, his breath laboured, his hair a mess, face red and eyes wary.

But he's here.

Chuuya has decided.
"I thought you wouldn't come," Dazai blurts out. Which isn't smart but he's – stunned.

Chuuya's brows furrow. "I didn't want to at first. You don't deserve it, after what you did to me. But I am here to give you a few minutes of my time, seeing that you went through the trouble
of coming here." He doesn't look happy or excited. But he doesn't have to be.

"I know. But thank you. For coming."

All he gets is a small nodd.

Inside the café, the drinks are still where Dazai's left them. Chuuya eyes them sceptically, until Dazai assures him that it is
indeed his order.

Chuuya still doesn't trust the drink as he takes a sip but after making sure it's normal, he relaxes a little.

Dazai uses the seconds to find the right place to start the attempt of explain.

He, however, shrinks under Chuuya's seething glare, still as fiery
as it's always been.

"I've spent the last few days thinking. Searching for reasons, for a valid excuse why you left those five years ago. And despite my best attempts, I can't come up with anything. And while I could do without seeing you again, I just really need to know. Why?"

"Why did you leave, Dazai?"

It's simple.
"Because I had to."

"Bullshit." Iciness covers Chuuya's voice, and Dazai understands that he will have to lay it out.

"I did, Chuuya. I was traced down, put on a death-list. There was a bounty on my head worth more than your
winery. I had hundreds of bounty hunters come for me. I had to leave. There was no other way."

Chuuya blinks at him. Thinks
"What did you do?"

Cringing, Dazai avoids Chuuya's eyes. Horrible memories.
"I killed the wrong person, and pissed off the wrong people."

He hopes it's
enough for Chuuya. He will know. It's been on the news for weeks.


Dazai nods.

"Why fake your death if it didn't help shit."

That's how they are going to do it then. No beating around the bush. Short questions, straight answers. Dazai is fine with that.
"At first I thought it would. And," the second part is so much harder to admit, "I wanted to keep you from looking for me."

"Why?" Chuuya's expression doesn't change, still cold and stern. Dazai's guts twist.

"Why? Because I needed you to be safe." It's annoyance that's boiling
in Dazai. Chuuya is smart. Why doesn't he get it yet.

"And you believed I couldn't take care of myself?" Simultaneously. fury gleams in his eyes. But there's something else that Dazai has only rarely seen.

"I know you can handle most things. But – This would have ruined your
life. Being on the run, never being able to settle down, not having a home. It would have taken everything. You deserved better than that Chuuya." Dazai... talks carefully now. Gradually, it dawns on him, what Chuuya is truly feeling, and guilt is overcoming him with brutal force
but he isn't careful enough.

It's something between a snort and a sob that rips from Chuuya's throat.
"I deserved... better? A home you say? You're a funny guy, really. I always knew you weren't the best with emotions, I have accepted that. But I never held you for stupid.
I realize now that was a mistake."

"I don't understand–"

"You, Dazai, have always been the only home I knew. I've been homeless for years as a kid, and you can't believe that the mafia felt like 'home'. It was stable, a good place. But my home, as you call it, has always been
you. And you took that away from me. Believing you knew best, as always."

His voice is strained, his fingers shake even as he's gripping the cup tightly. His next words shred Dazai's heart.

"You've left me alone. In a world, where I thought I had fibally found a place of
comfort, you left. And I can't believe you really think you did me a favor."

Speechless, Dazai watches as a tear rolls down Chuuya's cheek. Full gravity of what he has done settles in.

He's always known he messed it up. But... it's only now that he realizes just how much of
a toll his actions have taken on Chuuya.

A sad smile appears on Chuuya's face as he shakes his head. He sounds as if he's talking to himself rather to Dazai, but he hears anyway.

"Or maybe you knew all along. Now's the time, Dazai. Be honest. Did you want to leave?"
A bolt through his heart would hurt less than this.

Dazai's shocked. "I never, absolutely never, wanted to leave you."

"It was just a lame excuse, to leave me and start over, wasn't it?" The smile widens, but it's more a grimace.

No. That isn't right at all. Never. Had Dazai
seen another way, he would have taken that. There just hasn't been one.

"Again, no. I didn't want to. I had to."
Dazai's voice is thinning out.

Chuuyas, however, is growing sharper, cutting deeper and deeper.

"Get rid of me, of the baggage I was, right? Be the lonely fighter
you always wanted to be."

"Chuuya–," it's now time for the burn to built behind Dazai's eyes. No no no. That just isn' right.

"What I don't understand though. Why did you return? To see if I still made it without you? Or to deliberately hurt me? What is it?"

Dazai feels
cornered. "I never wanted to leave. Believe me. Please."

"You're a bastard, Dazai. A cruel, disgusting bastard. I shouldn't have come and you shouldn't have either. I was doing so well, you know. But you seem to have a habit of ruining my life everytime I feel like I have
something good going on. So, thank you for nothing. Stay away from me, I don't want to hear your lame excuses."

The chair screeches on the tiles as Chuuya slides back forcefully, surging up and already turning on his heels.

No. He can't go yet. He doesn't understand. It's not
what he thinks it is. Dazai has to set this right. Somehow. With something. How?

The chain snaps loudly as Dazai rips it off his neck, the metall sound echoing as they are slammed onto the table.

The rings. Fitted to both their hands. Forr the first time, Chuuya sees them.
"I didn't want to leave. I am telling the truth. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you," Dazai says

Flinching at the loud noise, Chuuya turns to look at him again – and freezes. His eyes go wide as they get glued to the two silver rings on the table, almost looking out
of place where they sit.

Dazai is pulling on his last strings now, a last, desperate attempt to change the course they are on to a better. He can only pray for it to work.

He takes a deep breath. "But hadn't I done what I have, I would have put you into the crossfire. You, who
has nothing to do with my mistakes, would have been the number one target the moment they'd found out how important you are to me."

Chuuya sinks down on the chair again slowly, not once daring to leave the rings out of sight. It's as if they're the only thing he can focus on
right now.

"You know I can protect myself." Chuuya says, but he sounds absent.

"But you still could have died. And so could I. It's a wonder I am even alive, standing here. All odds were against me."

Dazai remembers the screams, the blood, the wounds and bruises too vividly.
While he has handled most of them well, some made sure to have him on the edge of death.

Dazai shouldn't be alive anymore, in all truth.

"I could have gone with you, protect you–," where aggravation has been before, a slight tremble has replaced the tone in Chuuya's voice.
In response, Dazai softens his own. It takes some of the blazing energy out off the air. "What if I had died anyway? I'd be gone and dead, and you still endangered."

Dazai sighs. He understands Chuuya. He understands that Chuuya can't grasp his reasoning entirely.
But he sees that Chuuya is trying to. He's trying so hard to get Dazai's actions.

"See, there are so many what ifs. I know what I did was awful, and I can only imagine the pain you must have gone through. But please, don't believe it's been easy on me."

Dazai watches Chuuya
reach for the rings, carefully, almost as if in fear of braking them.

"There could have been other ways-," his voice is nothing but a faint whisper now.

What would Dazai give to touch Chuuya now. Chuuya's always appreciated physical comfort the most, but he doubts he'd want
Dazai to touch him under these circumstances. It just further accentuates how far they've grown apart.

"Yeah. But it was the only one I saw at that time. Please understand, I didn't have much time. And my priority was to keep you safe in first place."

"You could have said
something before vanishing!"

"Just for you to wait for me in fear I have died? Or will die? Would that have been so much better?"

"No– So the best way was to break my heart?"

A moment of silence. Dazai feels his heart thrumming in his throat.

"Sometimes, love hurts, Chuuya."
Chuuya stares at the ring between his finger. He doesn't react, so Dazai continues.

"I wish I'd seen another way back then. Had made better desicions to avoid hurting you this much. And I cannot fix what I have broken. But I want you to know that it was never to get rid of you."
"These are beautiful." Chuuya's entranced with the jewlery, it catching the light, making it look even more valuable than it is.

"I had hoped you'd like them."

Hesitantly, Chuuya slides the ring made for him, a little smaller and more delicate than the other, on his finger.
It fits perfectly, suits him perfectly.

But Dazai also notices – there is no other ring on Chuuya's hands.

Chuuya can't stop touching the ring, making Dazai's heart flutter with the action.

"I think I understand you now, a little at least. And while i appreciate the effort of
explaining your motifs to me, it doesn't make it much better. Some things aren't easily fixed, and you know that."

Dazai gulps audibly. "Yes, I know."
Yet, Chuuya said 'easily'. Not never.

"You've left behind a deep scar Dazai, one that's still hurting and I don't think it will
ever heal."

Dazai gets it, somehow. It's the same for him.

What's worse? He's responsible for the pain of them both.

"What now?" Dazai asks.

Chuuya considers. "To be honest, I don't know if I can ever forgive you, or if I even want to."

"I don't hold it against you. What I
did was horrible and I know it."

Heavy. That's how the atmosphere between them feels.

None of them realizes that they've been the only customers for a while now.

"I need some time to think about it. Is there any way I can contact you, if I want or need to?"
Dazai hurries to scribble his latest phone number onto a tissue.

Chuuya folds it, putting it into the pocket of his jacket.

Then, he takes off the ring, sliding it towards Dazai.

"If I feel like I have an answer, I'll call you. Thanks for the talk. Have a nice day."
No good-bye, no hug, no touch. Chuuya just leaves, the coffee cup still half full.

And Dazai... doesn't really know how he feels.
Lighter? Drained? Disappointed? Relieved? All of those?


Because he doesn't know what to expect.

It feels like they've gained some mutual
understanding for each other again, but the rift between them has never been wider.

What has he expected, after what's transpired?

Dazai doesn't believe it will ever be closed again.

At the same time, it's all up to Chuuya now. Dazai has reached out, has made the first step.
But if Chuuya doesn't want them to reconnect, he won't hold it against him.

With the chain now useless, Dazai puts the rings into his vest-pocket.

But at least, Dazai has tried. And it feels good to know that Chuuya is well and safe.

Back in the hotel room, against all odds,
he falls asleep right upon laying down, the exhaustions from the last few days catching up with him.

Maybe, he truly feels a little lighter.

He's woken up by the vibrating of his phone, which he doesn't even recognize at first – it's been so long that he's heard that sound.
There isn't really anyone who has his contacts. Usually, his phone is just there to collect dust.

The sound stops before he can grab the device, but not much later, a text message pops up.

"Would you meet me at the winery tonight? – C."

And how could Dazai say no?
The entire establishment is empty, only one room illuminated. From the outside, it looks like someone has forgotten to turn of a light.

Dazai knows better though; Chuuya's waiting for him there. It's the entrance hall where they have parted after the tasting.

Chuuya's sitting
on a chair by a small table back turned to Dazai, an empty chair across him. Two glasses of wine stand in front of him, one already half empty.

Dazai's steps echo through the hall. Chuuya flinches visibly, but doesn't turn. He waits for Dazai to take a seat instead.
"I knew you'd make something great out of this place," Dazai says as he sits, sinking deeply into the seat. The chairs are softer than they look like.

"Excuse me?" Raising his head, Chuuya also takes his glass to lean back. It allows him a proper glance at Dazai.

Chuuya looks
tired. A lot more exhausted than yesterday. As if he hasn't slept the last night.

"When I saw the advertisement I just had a feeling that screamed 'Chuuya'," Dazai still has the website he saw it on in mind clearly, the memory coaxing a nostalgia to the surface.
Chuuya seems to being to see it. "You- You showed me it, right?"

Dazai merely shrugs. Does it matter at this point in time?

Taking a sip from the red liquid, Dazai lets the taste unfold on his tongue – just as exquisite as every other of Chuuya's wines.

He doesn't want to
dwell on the past for too much longer. What's been isn't to be changed anymore. But what's to come is still open.

"I thought it would take you longer to think."

Chuuya's shoulders immediately stiffen.

"Intended to. Didn't need to." A short answer, but an unsatisfying one.
One that unsettled Dazai deep inside, inducing a faint anxiety.

But Chuuya doesn't make a move to continue talking, observing drops of wine dripping down the glass.

Dazai dares to push. "So?"

Chuuya takes a deep and havey breath. A shiver runs down Dazai's spine.
"I really, really wish I could cut you off and get rid of you."

"If you want me to disappear, just say a word I–"

"But I can't. I thought I was over you, have accepted your death. Still, the truth is, I'm not."

And when Chuuya makes eye-contact, there is an overwhelming
magnitude of emotions gleaming in the blue, Dazai might as well drown in them.

"And god, I hate saying this, but there's never been anyone else. I never stopped loving you."

Dazai chokes on nothing.

They've both never been big on sentimental words. Voicing the word 'love' has
always been hard for them, but for Chuuya even more so.

So hearing that – It makes Dazai's heart jump.

To him it's always been clear that Chuuya would move on.

Seems like he's been wrong.

Dazai takes another, large gulp of wine. "I haven't either."

Chuuya sighs, a crease
between his brows forming.

"It doesn't make what you did right though."

"I know." Dazai is struggling for speech.

Oh, how much he knows. And if he could turn back time, he would do it differently. Better. Wouldn't be as stupid as he was back then. He would put more effort into
making a plan.
Still, these thoughts don't change the present.

Chuuya leans forward, putting his elbows on his knees. "If I am honest, I don't know if we can fix this. But I want to give it another shot. Or at least invite you back into my life."

Dazai can't believe his ears.
"Would you have me?" he asks tentatively.

Chuuya hums, running a hand through his hair – a nervous gesture.

"I want to try. Don't get me wrong. We're not dating again, and I have rules and boundaries."

A few, simple words. But to Dazai, they sound like a blessing.
Yet, he doesn't dare to be too joyful. His biggest mistake would be to overdo it right now. So he even refrains from the smile that's tugging at the corners of his lips.

"Of course, and that's perfectly fine. It's more than I could have ever asked for. Thank you."

It's awkward,
the arrangement somehow too formal to feel natural. But it might he the start of a second chance – Something Dazai wouldn't have expected to be gifted with ever again.

Does it proove the soft nature of Chuuya's heart?

Chuuya's leg bouncing restlessly – another nervous gesture.
Chuuya squirms, the wine in his glass swirling. Obviously, something else is on his mind that he wants to say, but doesn't dare to yet. The silence does little to cover his thoughts.

Impatient, and restless himself, Dazai nudges him a bit, "Is there something else?"
When they are already at it, it would he nice to get it all out.

Wincing, Chuuya clearly hasn't reached a desicion yet. But he's robbed of more time to ponder.

His wine is set down. Chuuya deliberately avoids Dazai's questioning glare.

"Yeah, just one.... before I set my
boundaries, and you yours, I want to ask one thing from you."

Dazai grows nervous momentarily. He does his best to not let it show. "I'm listening."

Any other person probably would have missed how Chuuya's hands tremble or how uneven he's breathing. Dazai doesn't.
He doesn't miss the uneasy energy he's radiating.

But Chuuya gets a hold of himself, his voice probably steadier than he feels. And his question stunns Dazai into complete silence.

"Can I kiss you? Just ... once, before we built us from the ground up?"
For a moment Dazai forgets how to breathe.

The request to blunt, he first doesn't know if Chuuya's even serious.

But he didn't stutter, didn't falter, and still patiently waits for an anwser... Chuuya is serious.

And Dazai would be an idiot to turn down what he has been
craving for for so long.

His voice breaks on that single word. "Yes."

Wordlessly, they both get up, moving to the side to be able to stand right in front of each other.

Dazai suspects his heart might jump out of his chest any moment.

Chuuya's seizing him up, likely
asking himself if this is really a good idea. And Dazai does so too.

But they both want it, the pull they have towards each other undeniably. And when Chuuya gets on his tip toes, closing his eyes, Dazai leans down.

They meet halfway.

And for the first time in five years
Dazai feels like has come home.

His arms wrap around Chuuya's waist instinctively, just as Chuuya doesn't think when he slings his arms around Dazai's neck.

The kiss isn't filled with burning sparks of excitement like a first kiss. Rather, it ebbs the storm of misery
and uncertainty that has been raging for too long, soothing the crashing waves and the raving wind.

It's familiar, it's bittersweet.

It's a new start.

Maybe Dazai's holding onto it too much, being too demanding too quickly. But Chuuya doesn't seem to mind, his body pressing
against Dazai's.

And if there weren't all those memories of years apart, it would have felt as if nothing's ever been wrong.

They part after what feels like an eternity and yet only a split second. Chuuya's cheeks are flush, lips glistening.

He's beautiful, is all Dazai
can grasp.

But one thing has been established;

Fighting for another chance and forgiveness will be wroth it.

Whatever it is that Chuuya and Dazai will go through from now on, whatever they have to clear and learn about themselves in the forseeable future, they are still not
hopeless. There might be a 'them' again, it will just take some time, but it will be worth any trouble.

Dazai has to deter himself from kissing Chuuya again so hard, but he manages to step back.

And Chuuya? Chuuya shivers at the loss of contact, but he smiles.
"Sit. We have a lot of talking to do."

The first months are hard. To say the least.

They've established a strict no touching, no affection rule for the beginning, to ensure they could work on getting to know each other again. This comes with a rule to only meet a maximum of
three times a week, always at neutral locations.

It takes them weeks until they reach the point of hugging each other as a good-bye.

And admittedly, there are times when Dazai has doubts. Just like in the past, they don't get along all the time. They don't agree on everything
and they have bad days too. Sometimes, Dazai fears this won't work out.

But there is always the subtle eeight of two silver rings in his pocket, reminding him of how much he wants this.

And they keep on fighting.

Fighting to find to each other again.

For the most part,
Dazai lets Chuuya set the pace, giving him as much time and space as he needs.

Truthfully, Dazai needs it too. There is so much new he has to learn, to accept and to come to terms with – some things can't happen over night.

But he kniws their efforts have been worth it when
Chuuya kisses him in the middle of an empty street after leaving the bar they've visited. Without qualms or hesitation, but with so much affection that for the first time in a very long time, Dazai sheds a tear of happiness.

It feels just like their first kiss again.
From there on, progress happens quicker.

Dazai has found a place to stay in the city, and they invite each other over whenever schedule allows it.

Chuuya cries when Dazai stays until the morning for the first time.

Sometimes, Dazai is allowed to help Chuuya at the winery,
learning the history of the establishment and about Chuuya's sortiment and the art of making wine – and while it doesn't come easy for Dazai to remember all the new information, he senses the passion Chuuya has for it. So he gives his best.

It takes a year, five months and
twelve days until Dazai dares to say 'I love you' again, and two more months until they are officially dating again.

It won't ever be the simplest relationship but one that requires effort and dedication, but it's the most passionate and emotional one will ever see.
And Dazai never regrets the day he decided to step into Chuuya's life again.

Not when he's snuggling against Dazai's chest while attempting to pay attention to the TV as his lids grow heavy. Not when Dazai buries his nose in Chuuya's hair, his arms pulling him tighter against
him as he mumbles a faint 'go to sleep, I'll be here when you wake up'.

It's not a false promise.

He will be here next morning, in Chuuya's bed, beside him.

Chuuya might not have forgotten what Dazai's done, the pain always a part of him, but he has forgiven Dazai.
More than Dazai has forgiven himself. And more than once he wonders how he deserves Chuuya and his loving soul.

Dazai still has the rings.

But what Chuuya doesn't know is that Dazai is just waiting for the right moment. It might not come next week, or next month. maybe not
even next year.

But someday, the perfect moment will arrive, and when it's time, Dazai will have the rings with him to make what he has always wanted to do official:

He wants to spend the rest of his life with Chuuya.

And nothing shall come between them ever again.

Thanks to everyone who stuck with this, I assume, angsty ride.

I wrote this as I went, so I also thank you for bearing with the messy parts. I hope you still enjoyed it, even if it took me a while to finish.

Maybe I'll see you in the next thread too! Take care💚
You can follow @xfenriel.
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