Akutsu and Dan aren't the usual kind of neighbourhood all-day nursery, but Akutsu's at home most of the day and Dan's there for the rest and sometimes it's both of them, and though the parents disapprove of Akutsu in loud voices and they wonder about Dan's tolerance of Akutsu's filthy mouth, the children somehow really, really love being at the Dan-Akutsu place. There's a core group of children, five or six kids, that run in and out of the house without a goddamn by-your-leave and they break furniture and screech and make Akutsu-san teach them fun ways to learn their homework, but they're decent kids, just a bit haywire.
Dan makes bread every Tuesday morning and that's when they're their calmest, because Dan-san is like that, cheerful and happy and calmer than a blank wall. They all know that it's from years of enduring Akutsu's grumpy mornings, but even Akutsu-san calms down with the smell of baking bread and if he's smoked a few cigarettes already, he can be easily persuaded into going into the front yard, stretching out on the concrete and telling great stories that last all morning, drawing a crowd of people to listen to his loud rumbling orator's voice. Even if some of the parents disapprove later, mutter about the nicotine stains on Akutsu's fingers and his habitual curse on every third word, they all pause on the street to hear snippets, and in a way, they're glad for him to be there, despite all of his shortcomings.
Akutsu-san seems completely unaware that he's a walking community service, that he's an odd-jobs man and babysitter and counsellor and nurse and coach all in one, and that on top of the rest he is almost singlehandedly responsible for keeping the crime rate in an area of some fifteen blocks almost nonexistent. When they ask Dan-san how Akutsu can not notice that he's respected by almost everyone for some classic feat of inteligence and strength, that if Akutsu-san bothered to change a few of his nastier features he would be the most welcome man in every house, Dan-san smiles and tells them that Akutsu-san has always been that way.
It doesn't change the fact that the benefits of Akutsu-san's presence almost outweigh the negatives, that when their children come home babbling excitedly about today's Cool Thing Akutsu Did and show renewed interest in life, it balances evenly against Akutsu-san's terrible habits of littering the paths with cigarette butts and smashing beer bottles against the wall of his house at four in the morning for no good reason.
Everyone eventually comes to several realisations about Akutsu and Dan, formed independently: one, that Akutsu is horrible to have as a visitor but excellent as a long-term neighbour, two, that Dan is in fact the scarier one of the two of them, and three, that Dan and Akutsu are bound together as the most lovey-dovey couple in the universe.
All of this means that, over time, several generations of children are brought up half in their homes and half in the Dan-Akutsu house, and that over time, when Akutsu is forty and doesn't show any sign of mellowing, the neighbourhood is quite firmly infamous for Akutsu and Dan, Dan's fundraisers and organisation of the local school sports teams, for Akutsu's irritable growl yelling at the local kids to shut the fuck up and get to school aready.
They're fixtures, and when the senior councilmen bother to get past Akutsu's language and his aggressiveness, they find a brilliant civic mind, full of idle suggestions that in fact make much more sense that anything they could come up with, and by Akutsu's fiftieth year, crankier and moodier and as agile as ever, he is the head councilman, accepting the position with a resigned sigh and sharp-eyed intelligence.
Sometimes Akutsu looks back on his life, sitting in a tree in the garden with a beer in hand, and thinks that it could have all gone so horribly wrong, thinks about the divergences that he can pinpoint in hindsight, moments that led to this life of other people's children in his house and other people's wellbeing in his hands and Dan, always Dan, with him. He can still see alternative futures, alternative paths where he and Dan are the kind of fucked, twisted life he'd immediately seen and feared from the beginning, paths where he is a drunkard and Dan is a whore and they live in some shitty tenenment flat and they are so drugged and Dan is his whiny, needy child and Akutsu himself is a monster, deserving to be shot on sight. But that is not the path they took, things are different, and that life isn't theirs, but someone else's, something that never came to pass.
There is no point in thinking about the way things could have been, so Akutsu finishes his beer and goes inside to make sure that the latest batch of monsters haven't destroyed anything that can't be replaced, and after that, he kisses Dan in the corridor, thankful in ways Dan will never understand.