"Hey, Chuuya."

"What, stupid mackerel?"

It was during a truce between the Port Mafia and the Agency. Chuuya and Dazai were walking along a fence, the taller balancing precariously on the edge while the petit mafia sauntered along below.

It brought back their first mission together fifteen years ago, though now they weren't bickering as much at the moment.

The day was bright and beautiful, and could be better without each other's company darkening things up.

But not being able to help that for their respective orders, at least they could save their breath for something worthwhile.

"Cat got your tongue?" The redhead asked into the long pause following the question.

"What if you have to fight yourself from the time we first met? Who will win then?" Dazai asked in response.

"Huh. What brought that kind of question?" Came the perplexed reply.

"You know what."

Chuuya huffed, but admitted, "Yeah... guess I do know."

"So, who wins?"

At this, Chuuya hummed a soft 'Hmmm' in contemplation.

"Me, perhaps. Present me. I was a lot more trusting then... and I'd think I had improved quite a bit with my abilities and fighting techniques."

"I see."

"What about you, mackerel?" Chuuya shot back, a wicked grin on his face, "I'd bet the Demon Prodigy'll put a thousand bullets into you before you can lift a hand, eh?"

"No... I'll win still. Especially if I have a little bit of time to prepare."

"Oh? Not very easy imagining that. You're soft as jelly these days. How'd ya go about it then?"

"By taking a hostage." Dazai replied lightly.

Chuuya bursts into a guffaw.

Reining in his laughter, he said, "You know as well as I do that seven-eight years ago you wouldn't care for any hostage at all— to be honest, you will be the one trying to protect that hostage from the wicked bastard I imagine."

"I wasn't a wicked bastard, I was just unsympathetic. And also, I didn't mean any hostage you know? I meant a very specific one."

Chuuya lifted an eyebrow, "Oh? Who then?"

Dazai looked down from his position on the fence for a bit, meeting Chuuya's blue gaze, then averted his eyes.

"Secret."

"What!?" Chuuya exclaimed in exasperation. "Now I'm curious, you bastard! Who was it!? Mori-san? Akutagawa?"

"Nope." Dazai denied with a taunting smile.

"What? Who else was there!? That Odasaku of yours?" Even Chuuya himself sobered a little at this mention."

"...Probably." Dazai admitted. "Though we're talking about age fifteen here, no? Odasaku doesn't come into play just yet."

"Well then who was it!?" The redhead yelled in annoyance, and proceeded to throw out several dozen random names and persons, from inconsequential subordinates to beloved lost sister, all greeted with chiming "Nope~"

Frustrated to the point of bursting, the redhead decided to take their argument into something a little more physical, and leaped up to the fence with a feisty "Tell me, you stupid secretive mackerel!" And tackled the taller man onto the glassy field on the other side.

Chuuya expected a fist to the stomach or a knee to the groin— characteristic moves of Dazai's when he tackled him like this— so the redhead immediately prepared to shift his weight to one side to evade the counterblows.

At the same moment however, Dazai laughed, pulling the smaller body towards his.

Thus caught while shifting his balance, Chuuya readily collapsed onto the broad chest with a yelp.

Dazai continued laughing some more, and with his ear on his nemesis' chest Chuuya could feeling the reverberating quality of that rich laugh.

Color rose to his face, and he was for the moment glad to hide his face from the other's sight, leaning in beside the turquoise brooch Dazai always wear.

Finally the laugh subsided, and Dazai answered his nagging question,

"You, of course. I'll take you as my hostage, chibi."

At that Chuuya shot up straight.

"What!? Are you mad!? No, you are definitely mad! That demonic wimp will be no less than glad to be rid of me. He'll shoot me deader than dead before taking care of you, crazy mackerel!"

At the outburst Dazai also sat up, now rendering them into a sitting position with Chuuya sitting part- legged in Dazai's lap.

"Demonic wimp?" Dazai asked quirking an eyebrow. "Anyway— I would rather think I know more than you do about me in the past, and my would be clause of action."

Chuuya, uncomfortable at the renewed proximity, tried to move away. Fighting and tackling is something, but he could sense that whatever this was turning out to be, it was something entirely else.

Hands on his shoulders prevented him from moving back though. And Chuuya could feel the tips of his ears burn as the implications seem stronger and stronger.

"My older self wouldn't have hurt a strand of your beautiful red hair, rather, he would be terrified if you were to be taken by an enemy."

"..."

"..."

"...Oh? As I remember, I was your bait on about a million missions though."

"Well, non of them have No Longer Human like me. I know you could get out of anything, and I knew that if you were desperate and used Corruption I would readily be there. So."

"..."

"So you really didn't know." Dazai seemed surprised at this.

Chuuya, at this point, decided to succumb to the ojou-chan side of himself for the moment, and so clutched his fists tightly around the front of Dazai's shirt.

"Well... at first I did suspect... but then you left— for four years!"

At this Dazai put his arms around Chuuya and ducked his head on top of the red locks, effectively twarting any attempt to look at his expression.

After a while of silence without any response, reply, or excuse from the taller man, Chuuya dared to venture, "So... what would you do to me, after taking me hostage?"

"Huh? Umm...Rape you, perhaps."

"What!?" Chuuya exclaimed, clearly surprised, and when Dazai returned his hand to his shoulders and pushed him away a little to look at his face, Chuuya took advantage of the freed up space to deck the dirty-minded bastard square across the jaw.

Dazai laid there on the grass, blood on the corner of his mouth, while Chuuya hastily pushed back several meters, his cheeks still flushed and red locks stood up on his head where Dazai's head had rested a moment ago.

If Dazai had lifted his head to look, he would have remarked how beautiful Chuuya looked, and suggested to buy a maid outfit for him, earning a second fist to the face.

He didn't look though, only lay there looking to the cloudless sky and talking.

"We're talking about a battle, no? And... raping you would upset my younger self alright. A lot, actually. It might be the only way to upset him enough to kill him somehow— well, as you said, demonic bastard I was."

"You still are!" Chuuya interjected furiously. "How can someone be such a dirty-minded, wicked, bloody lusting—

"Yeah... I really still am a bloody lusting bastard, aren't I? Maybe I would lose, after all, if I fight with my younger self. Maybe he would get to you first. Wouldn't be hard to figure I'll still be infatuated with you, after all these years, he'll figure it out if he puts his mind to it."

Seeing Dazai in such a retrospective mood, Chuuya knew his cussing wouldn't even reach the bastard, so he stopped wasting his breath, and sat hugging his knees protectively, eyeing the would-be rapist who is incidentally his nemesis and best partner.

"I guess he would still rape you though, so you'll have the choice between us I guess. Are you a lolicon, chibi? Will I get the honour of your company if it really does happen?"

This is weird, downright uncanny in fact. What on earth would bring Dazai into this type of mood!? Was he high on mushrooms again?

A long moment without Chuuya's reply, and Dazai sighed, and continued, "Unless you cooperate, of course. Then it would be a weird case of hostage rescue indeed."

"Well, I guess so."

Out of options, Chuuya had chose the very difficult but effective method Odasaku often used on Dazai instead— calm acknowledgment of every single crazy thing coming from the demon prodigy's mouth.

Dazai seemed surprised by this, for he lifted his head to look at Chuuya in bewilderment, then a huge smile split his face and he plopped back down onto the grass again.

"Gosh, you are so sexy, Chuuya." The smile was still in his voice when he spoke, and Chuuya couldn't tell if it were a taunt or a serious comment. But determined to keep to his strategy, he simply said in the calmest tone he could manage,

"Ah, I know."

The angry red of anger mixed with embarassment crept up his neck.

He was brought to the uncomfortable awareness of the choker he always wore, pushing against his windpipe with every rapid breathing.

A deep silence settled between them again.

"Hey, Chuuya...?"

"What, Dazai?"

"I've been restraining myself for at least seven years now... so..."

Dazai sat up then, cross-legged on the grass, his hair tousled, meeting Chuuya's startled blue gaze.

"So..." he continued, his face tinting redder and redder, "...tonight, after the mission...?"

Chuuya gaped open-mouthed, then went even redder in the face, matching the fiery color of his hair.

"Please?" Dazai begged, fingers trembling a little with the effort of restraining something powerful.

Dazai excruciatingly moved away a little more, feeling the current distance of several meters direly insufficient to help him in his self-restraint.

Another silence, then seeing that no answer is forthcoming, the former executive excused himself from the scene with an 'I'll be right back!'

When Dazai indeed came back some ten minutes later, Chuuya was leaning against the street side of the wall, calm and with his hair immaculately arranged once again.

Dazai, likewise in appearance, glanced briefly at Chuuya's choker and quickly looked away, tossing a can in the redhead's direction.

Under the circumstances, Chuuya needed wine rather than coffee, no matter how black, but they were running late for the mission, so he popped the lid and downed the liquid in quick gulps, before throwing it into a nearby trash can with perfect accuracy.

Dazai had resumed his precarious gait up on top of the low wall, and Double Black continued their inevitable progress towards the enemy as if nothing had happened.

That was, until Dazai was shot.

The idiot had the nerve to stand still in the midst of the enemy— like in the mafia days he supposed, but this time either Chuuya wasn't fast enough or Dazai's calculations went wrong, or barring both, it could be that Dazai's senses was a bit dulled compared to those dark days.

In any case, a stray bullet took the former executive in the upper arm, and he fell back with a soundless thud.

Chuuya, who was engaging with the enemy up front, sensed the wrongness and turned just in time to see Dazai falling backwards.

A sudden cold spread over him then, making all his hairs stand on end. He couldn't see where the bullet had hit. It could have been anywhere— like the head, or the heart.

For all Chuuya knew, Dazai could have been dead just then.

He quickly turned back to face the enemies though, and even though his moves were now executed with less grace and more frantic impatience, it was no less effective in killing the mass of enemies.

Hastily finished, Chuuya swirled back to see Dazai sitting up, teeth gritted. Seeing Chuuya, his face suddenly relaxed, the lines of pain smoothed to dark placidity.

It was a familiar expression— one Dazai had used to hide his ever-present pain in the Port Mafia days. Accompanied a second later by that same little dark smile he always gave Chuuya with it.

Something in Chuuya's heart clenched painfully, then, even as he knelt and helped support Dazai's back.

Swallowing the unfamiliar tide of emotions, Chuuya said, "And here I hoped that bullet took you in the head."

Dazai chuckled, a tiny bit of genuineness showing through the mask. That would never have happened in the old days— it nearly was worth the four years of heart-rending loneliness of Dazai's absence.

Only nearly though.

Meanwhile, Chuuya's hands were busy tying the wound on Dazai's arm. As he was tying the final knot however, Dazai suddenly pulled him aside, making him lose his balance and his hold on the makeshift bandage.

"What the—!"

Scrambling on his hands and knees, Chuuya felt the fire burning on his cheek. When he touched it, his hand came stained with his own blood.

He was almost shot— in the head, no less.

"You were a bit distracted just now, Chuuya."

Normally he'd had no trouble noticing and reflecting any bullet aimed at him, even from the back.

This time the sharpshooter was on the second floor of the building, boldly facing his way.

He picked up a small debris to hand and thrown it with increased gravity— about three times that of a bullet perhaps, and that was taken care of.

Their mission accomplished, though a bit more sloppily than their usual standard, Chuuya helped Dazai up and the both of them prepared to retire for the night.

"So... your place or mine?"

Surprisingly it was Chuuya who asked this, and Dazai gaped open-mouthed— rather in an undignified way— at the redhead.

"For tending the wounds, you pervert!"

Dazai's mouth went to an almost comical 'O' and he said, chastised, "Better come to my apartment... I don't want to run into any Port Mafia just yet— not many people fancy getting executed, you see? Especially on the night you might get to bed with your long-time crush."

Not staying to hear all this, Chuuya had already walked ahead and lead the way, Dazai easily catching up just in time to hear the last sentence.

Chuuya heaved a huge sigh and muttered under his breath, "Well, that remains to be seen."