Rashoumon danced in front of his downcast eyes. Little flowers, bunnies, cats. The cloth of his white shirt fitting into the roles readily, as if awaiting this chance for years. Eager to perform again with love, not kill with indifference.
Akutagawa's eyes were not on the moving cloth circus. They were not on the gravestone in front of him, either. Or on the name carved into it that read "Akutagawa Gin." They were not on the ground before him, not on the sky.
No, those eyes saw only one thing at that moment, and that was the innocent smile of a starving girl who liked his brother's silly performances.
Gin had not starved in the Port Mafia. Ryuunosuke did, always.
He had thought that the stabbing sense of hunger was a craving for Dazai-san's approval. Maybe a part of it was that. But now he knows that Dazai couldn't entirely fill that hole.
His sister's smile could.
Since joining the Port Mafia, Gin always goes around with those bandages covering her mouth. Even in the rare chance they were together, she rarely smiled like those wretched, starving days anymore.
But Akutagawa could feed his sister, till the end, and that was enough to keep him continuing to starve his own psychology.
A smile touched Akutagawa's own lips as he thought that, and as his lips stretched to the side he could taste the single tear that rolled down his face.
It felt good to cry.
He realize he hadn't cried in a very long time.
Footsteps disturbed the silence, and Akutagawa let Rashoumon rewrap itself around his wrists and revert into the shirt he was wearing. Then he unfolded himself from the position of hugging his knee, straightened, and face Dazai, who was walking his direction with the usual elegant, measured steps.
He didn't even bothered wiping away his tear. And he didn't have to, because Dazai-san did it for him, as soon as they were face to face.
"As I thought, you're even stronger than me, Akutagawa-kun." Dazai said in that light tone of his. It was ironic, the way the world always turn out. When he was the most weak, the most pathetic, that's when Dazai-san finally, honestly acknowledged his strength.
"I couldn't even cry when my best friend was dead. Nor could I bring myself to buy flowers, snacks, incense. All I could do was sitting with my back to his grave, feeling numb, and denying of ever coming to see a grave to Atsushi-kun." Dazai walked past Akutagawa to sit in front of Gin's grave, where the raven was sitting earlier.
"That's who I am, Akutagawa-kun. Shutting away weaknesses, never confronting it, then deceiving myself and you and many others that I don't have them... It was never strength that I have, and had mistakenly taught you... It was just indifference."
Dazai-san never got this retrospective in all the time Akutagawa had known the man. Akutagawa had realized, for a while now, after meeting the man-tiger so often, what Dazai-san had been expecting - hoping for- in him since he quitted Port Mafia.
"It was painful, wasn't it, watching me wallowing blind in your place, without another Oda Sakunosuke-san to help me." He said, gambling a little over the older man's reaction.
Dazai's eyes widened and locked with Akutagawa's, so he had no trouble figuring out that he should continue.
"You felt guilty that you left me with the same concept you had been mistaken about,"
"And you took to it so seriously, I was scared,"
"So you paired me up with the man-tiger so many times, hoping for him to act in Oda-san's role."
"And he did a splendid job,"
"I doubt he did it so much as Gin."
Both men looked at the grave then, and the engraved stone marker. "No flowers?" Dazai asked softly. Thinking about his own reluctance to bring some to Odasaku's resting place himself.
"I brought a better kind of flower." Was what Akutagawa said before the cloth tied around the tombstone- a rather unusual arrangement- refused to flap in the wind. It started folding onto itself, slowly, as if the invisible hand folding it was unpracticed, trying it out for the first time. Within a minute, a flower was there, made of white cloth, emitting a faint reddish glow that wasn't so obvious in the sun.
Dazai's eyes widened until it resembled chicken eggs, and Akutagawa chuckled.
The flower of course went completely limp and hastily came undone when Dazai touched it, like a child wanting a new toy.
"Akutagawa-kun!" He said with a childish glint he suspect was often seen at the Detective Agency, but never before that. Seeing it himself, Akutagawa admits that it's a bit... annoying. "I have absolutely no idea you could make it long range!"
Dazai-san was excited. Akutagawa felt proud for that. He had been working on this development, challenging himself to be creative. He'd known since living in the slums, that it would be rather perfect if the cloth on his enemies stab its owner instead of requiring him to get close enough to attack with his own clothes.
But at the time, he had not the skill to make it true.
Dazai stared at the boy he'd picked off the streets that day. He would this once let himself feel the sensation of his expectations being exceeded. Even his predictions maybe.
The sand-colored coated man stood up and walked off then, saying an offhanded "See ya!" over his shoulder without looking back.
Akutagawa was fine with it. He smiled, a genuine smile he had not smiled in a long time, and turn back to making flowers and bunnies for his kid sister, this time remotely.
When Dazai reached his destination, he was surprised for the second time that day.
On Odasaku's grave was a cloth-flower, neatly tied and not glowing. Another piece of black cloth was there. Dazai touched it, and known it to be his old coat, back when he was wearing it.
A note was left with it that said, "He had known the you who was wearing this. I'm sure he wants to remember you by it. Please leave it along with your past. I've done it and known it to be possible. - Akutagawa Ryuunosuke."
Dazai trembled, just slightly.
Really, Akutagawa deserved the acknowledgement he sought. If the boy start reaching too high over his expectations, he might seriously have to lift them to fit. Dazai chuckled at that, despite his tears.
Long fingers took the black fabric, tied it into a flower, tucked it where it wouldn't be blown away, and left the grave smiling.
After that, Akutagawa vanished. And Dazai for once did not know where.
This piece was inspired by the first scene of Dead Apple movie (Which I have just known exist, for some reason) The initial idea was just that Akutagawa can cry over a loss and Dazai couldn't. But the remote-controlling Rashoumon just flowed when I was writing, and it seems interesting to me so this turns from a one-shot into a To Be Continued.
Probably not soon, but coming!