Beep. Beep. Beep.
Atsushi groaned as he heard the dreadful sound.
Crawling out of his futon, he grabbed his head as he was hit with a pounding headache.
"One would think I was out drinking with Yosano last night from this pain." He laughed it off and fetched his clothes for the day. He took much longer than usual to get ready, even brushing his teeth seemed more like a chore than usual. He shivered as he walked over the chilly cold tiles of the bathroom and into the next room. The sun was gleaming outside the window, and the wind flowed through the trees as snow leftover from the weekend sparkled in the light. Squinting, he peaked out into the front yard of the apartments of the agency and saw Kyouka with Naomi waiting and chatting away.
"Crap crap crap! They're waiting for me!" Grabbing his jacket and bag, he threw the jacket on and the bag over his shoulder. He ran for the door and pulled it closed behind him as he felt the wind bit through him.
"Wo-w. It's a little chilly today. I probably should have grabbed a hat too." Fingers shook as he buttoned up his jacket and bounced down the stairs to meet Kyouka and Naomi.
"Sorry I took so long!" He bowed in an apology as they waved him off.
"It's okay Atsushi! We really weren't waiting that long." Naomi looked at him and frowned.
"Hey, Atsushi, are you feeling alright? You look a little flushed." She picked up a hand and went to place it on his forehead. Dodging the incoming touch, Atsushi ducked and laughed her off.
"Oh! It's nothing really Naomi. I think it's just the cold! I must have forgotten to turn up the heating last night. That's all. Haha. We should get going, don't you think? Kunikida will be mad if we're late again!"
"It's okay. Dazai hasn't left either." Kyouka said from beside him, deadpan. They all glanced towards the apartment that belonged to Dazai's. The door was shut, curtain's drawn, it didn't look like he'd be leaving anytime soon. Not that it was anything new. Dazai was never on time for anything. Atsushi wondered what he did in his spare time.
Something involving suicide. Probably.
He shook his head.
"Well, Dazai is always late. And besides, Kunikida is always mad at him, even if he wasn't always late, I'm sure he'd find something to be mad about." Naomi giggled and began walking towards the agency.
The walk itself was bitterly cold. It took all of Atsushi's control to not shake from the freezing temperature. Naomi and Kyouka seemed as if the cold temperatures didn't faze them at all. Thinking about it, out of all of them, he should be the warmest one. He was basically a tiger after all. There was simply no excuse for him to be shivering and cold. Focusing on his ability, he tried to draw from the tiger's warmth.
"Atsushi!" Naomi looked at him, her eyes wide with shock.
"Uh. Yes Naomi?" Startled, he met her eyes.
"Is there are reason why you just sprouted tiger ears?" She asked, the frown from earlier making a reappearance.
"Oh. Oops! I was just thinking about all the training Dazai and I have been doing, I must have just unconsciously tapped into my ability. Woops." The ears popped back, no longer prominent on his head.
Naomi however wasn't convinced.
"Are you sure? You're really flushed, and you have bags under your eyes. Are you feeling okay, truthfully this time Atsushi!" She said.
Laughing it off once again, because what else was he supposed to do? He smiled at her and nodded. "I'm feeling alright. Thank you for your concern though!" He started to lead their small group further towards the agency. He felt bad for lying to Naomi. He didn't feel all that great. His throat tickled, he could feel the chill in his bones, and his headache was still pounding against his skull.
He definitely did not feel good.
But. He didn't want to worry anyone. He thought back to what Kunikida told him when he had first joined the agency.
"Don't be a burden to anyone, nor shame the agency's good name."
Don't be a burden to anyone. When he took the job he made a vow not to be a burden to them. He had already caused so much trouble for everyone. He thought back to the numerous times he was kidnapped, by both the Port Mafia and the Guild. Or the time he hurt Naomi. He stole a glance at her, even though both of the girls had said that it was alright and that they had forgiven him a long time ago.
That it hadn't been his fault.
He still felt awful for it happening.
If only he had been stronger. If only he had been in control.
Despite all the trouble he had caused them, all of them, they were always there for him. They put a roof over his head. They gave him a job. They gave him friendship.
They gave him a family.
His fists tightened as he wrestled with his guilt. He wasn't going to be a burden any longer, to any of them. Certainly not Naomi and Kyouka though.
Coughing, he pulled his arms around himself for warmth as they walked into the building. He sighed as he felt the warmth envelope him and attempt to push the cold from his body. He could still feel the tingling of the chill from his toes to his scalp though. But it was better. Now that he wasn't in the cold, he was sure he'd be fine for the day and could make it through work. Then he would go hope, curl up on his futon and sleep for a few hours, and hopefully, he would feel better when he woke up.
He might even make himself a nice bowl of ochazuke.
"Atsushi! Stop spacing out. You're just standing there like an idiot." Kunikida said from his desk in the corner, without looking up from his laptop screen.
"Oh sorry." Kyouka and Naomi noticed his blank look and frowned at each other.
"Would anyone like some tea?" Haruno entered the office carrying multiple cups.
"I'm alright Haruno. Thank you though!" He coughed again as he spoke to her. Naomi walked over to him and poured him a cup anyway and set it down in front of him.
"You sound like you may need a little Atsushi." Leaving no room for arguments this time, she pushed it towards him and gave him a scowl he only saw when she wanted her brother to do something for her.
"Yes, Naomi." He said, as he took a sip of the warm liquid. He sighed as it eased his aching throat. He could taste the honey in the green tea and was thankful Naomi had poured him a glass despite his earlier protests.
"Good." She nodded with a smile and walked out the door, no doubt to go gossip with Yosano or find her brother, who also was absent this morning. He looked down at the reports he had to finish from yesterday and glared. He didn't feel like doing anything. He should have gotten them all done yesterday, and then he wouldn't have had much to do at all today.
As he continued to sip on his tea, his eyes began to droop with exhaustion. He set the cup down and laid his head down on his desk. A few minutes of rest wouldn't hurt anyone, and Kunikida was far too invested in his Ideal notebook to pay him any attention. He let his eyes close and drifted away.
A hand brush upon his forehead. Trying to escape, he squirmed, but was held in place by two cool hands around his arms.
"Now, now. Atsushi. Let Yosano do her job. Stop squirming. No one is going to hurt you." Dazai's voice whispered in his ear. When did Dazai even get here? He felt something soft beneath him – The couch perhaps? When did he move to the couch?
"Dazai, I'm really alright. I know no one is going to hurt me – wait, Yosano! No, no, really I'm fine there's no need for any of this." He continued to struggle in Dazai's hands.
"You're burning up Atsushi. Why did you even come in today?" Yosano scolded him. He felt Dazai's hands suddenly release him and he moved to sit up.
"It's not really a big deal. I'm alright, it's just a small cold really." He broke off in a cough. Yosano and Dazai both raised their eyebrows.
"Small cold." Dazai smirked at him. Atsushi casted his eyes downwards.
"Yeah. A small cold."
"Small cold! Small cold! You came out of your room looking like death this morning, you had no control over your ability, you've been coughing all morning and you passed out at your desk for two hours and didn't even realize when we moved you over to the couch." Naomi leveled her eyes at him.
"You're sick, Atsushi. Let us take care of you, okay?" She said much softer this time.
"I just don't want to be a burden to anyone. I'm sorry everyone. I'll just go home for the day, and I'll be back in when I'm feeling better." Atsushi clutched his hands in his laps and fiddled with the soft but light blanket he had been covered in.
A sigh fell from Kunikida's lips as he addressed the younger detective. "You're not a burden, Kid." He pulled his glasses off and began wiping the lens with a clean cloth.
"Everyone get's sick. No one is immune to it. Not even myself or Dazai." He said.
"You should have seen him last winter, Atsushi. He was a baby. Kunikida really doesn't pull out the stops when he is ill." Dazai giggled as Kunikida erupted in anger and threw his glasses at him.
"You should be careful with those Kunikidaaaa." Dazai stressed out his name, erupting into even more giggles.
"With a little rest, some medicine, and lots of fluids you'll be as good as new, okay? You can come back in and do all the work you want when you're at 100%" Yosano gave him a soft smile, ignoring the two older detectives and patted his shoulder. For once, she didn't look like she was about to stab him.
"I'll go fetch you something from the infirmary okay? I'll be right back." She moved a hand to the top of his head and let her hands flow gently through his hair before leaving the room.
As she left, he could feel the other stares on him as he sat on the couch.
"Um. I'll just. Um. Take my leave. I'll see you all tomorrow?" He moved to get up, discarding the blanket and swinging his legs over the side of the couch. Swaying slightly his vision blurred and he lost his balance, falling back onto the couch with a groan.
"I don't think so Atsushi. I'll drive you home. You're far too sick to be left alone like this." Dazai grabbed a set of keys from Kunikida's desk and Atsushi's jacket from the back of a chair, tossing it to him.
"Bundle up. We don't want you getting even more sick, Eh?"
"Wait a second you bandage waster! Those are my keys!" Kunikida growled.
"It's okay, Kunikida. I'll be very careful." Dazai winked. "After all, precious cargo!" Atsushi blushed, making his face even more red from the fever. He slipped on his jacket, noticing the more prominent aching in his joints as he maneuvered the fabric over his limbs. He struggled to button it up. After he finished with the last button, Dazai wandered over and lifted him up into the air, his legs flowing over his arms bridal style.
"Let's get you home and into bed little kitten." Dazai carried him effortlessly, stopping only to get his medication from Yosano and maneuvered him into the passenger seat of the car.
"Do you even know how to drive?"
"I'm wounded Atsushi! Of course, I know how to drive!"