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Neon Demons

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Orihara-Kai was not a very big organization by yakuza standards but they were a very effective one which was how they continued to operate in Ikebukuro without drawing the attention of larger families. It also helped that Orihara Torakichi was a very good negotiator and more capable of changing with the times than most of the older family heads. Their business was smuggling, mostly items and occasionally people. What other families needed, they would find a way to provide. On paper the Oriharas simply appeared to run a very successful import/export business but everyone knew that was nothing more than a front. Orihara Shirou, Torakichi’s son, ostensibly ran the family with his wife Kyouka, a beautiful woman with a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue. They had three children, Izaya - the eldest, and twins Mairu and Kururi, who they generally left in the care of others, the business taking up most of their time.

Orihara Izaya had never been under any illusions as to what his family did. His family was not ashamed of their business and felt that any advantage in life should be used. He was always treated differently, a level of respect and a distance between him and those around him. He didn’t really notice it until junior high, the way the other students behaved. There were two types, really, those who avoided him and those who tried to use him. It was fascinating to him, the way they behaved. He enjoyed manipulating them, knowing the whole time that they were trying to manipulate him. He prefered being apart from them, setting them up and watching how they reacted, playing with them.

There was one exception, one boy who was different from the rest. Kishitani Shinra, who didn’t care about Izaya’s family or at least wasn’t affected by it the way others. A friend Izaya didn’t believe he needed but Shinra turned out to be rather interesting. With Shinra as an unwitting accomplice, Izaya continued to play his games through junior high.

Entering high school, things changed. His family drew the eye of the Daigo-kai, a smaller family affiliated with the Kanto-Shinno-Doushi-kai, a fairly large organization. The Orihara-kai was put in a very difficult position. Merging with the Daigo-kai meant becoming nothing more than underlings but they were in no position to withstand the larger organization. It was at this time that they were approached by the Awakusu-kai with a counter offer, one that did not remove their autonomy. The Awakusu were one of the families that used their services and had a vested interest in seeing them remain unaffiliated to other families. So the Akwakusu and Orihara families came to an alliance.

At first Izaya wasn’t directly affected. High school life was equal parts exciting and boring. He had found himself a new hobby in gathering information. It wasn’t so different from what he had been doing with his classmates, learning their secrets and using the information to manipulate them but he began to apply it on a wider scale. Through his family he already had the connections he needed and with his parents always busy with their work, none of the supervision to stop him from getting into trouble. He had also managed to attract the attention of a classmate who took a strong dislike to him, though that hadn’t exactly been his intention at the time. Between street fights with Heiwajima, running a gambling ring at school and building up a collection of information on a wide variety of people, he was beginning to develop a bit of a reputation which got him noticed by an Awakusu member by the name of Kine. Kine did his best to redirect Izaya’s less healthy impulses and help Izaya build his hobby into a business that both his family and the Awakusu could profit from.

College was when things began to change for Izaya. Kine left the Awakusu for reasons he was not privy to despite their relationship. His father began to expect more of him as heir to the family business and his mother expected him to spend more time with their allies in the Awakusu. Learn from them, she had said. They operated differently and it was important for him to understand if he was going to run the business. Izaya wasn’t really interested in running the business. His interests lay in his personal schemes, watching and learning and manipulating people. While his family profited off his skills, he didn’t do it for profit but rather for entertainment. Being told to get to know the Awakusu was irritating but having information on their so-called allies couldn’t be a bad thing. Maybe they’d turn out to be interesting.

Chapter Text

Shiki had heard enough about the Orihara heir to be wary when Shirou and Mikiya arranged a meeting. He understood the logic in Shirou wanting Izaya to see how things were done in the Awakusu, the Oriharas were a small and specific operation after all, but from what Kine had told him about the heir apparent, Shiki knew this was going to be trouble for him. He hardly had the time or desire to be babysitting a pampered brat. He contemplated passing the heir off to Akabayashi, let him deal with it.

Izaya was no more interested in being ‘mentored’ by the Awakusu but his father had insisted. Given how infrequently Shirou involved himself in his son's life, Izaya could hardly refuse and instead began to formulate ideas on how he could turn this to his advantage. Kine had told him a bit about the Awakusu executives before he had left and a little digging on his part confirmed their reputations. He didn’t stop there, though. He also dug into what kind of business the Awakusu ran. Art forgeries could hardly be the only thing they did, and he was right. The Awakusu had their hands in gambling, prostitution, some low level protection racket stuff, but surprisingly they didn’t seem to have a hand in drugs at all. That caught his curiosity; drugs were one of the most profitable businesses you could run in the underworld if you were smart. It seemed the Awakusu were content to let the Orihara family deal with the smuggling side, showing no apparent interest in subsuming his family but the Awakusu were subsidiaries of the larger Medea Group and Shirou had concerns that while their alliance was currently stable, things could change rapidly should Medea decide to get involved.

“Hey Yuuto.” Izaya leaned forward in his seat to rest an arm on the side of the driver’s seat. “If we were to expand our business, what do you think would be the best direction to go?” Yuuto glanced at Izaya in the rearview mirror before focusing back on the road. Izaya liked to pose questions like this to him, knowing that while he was a trusted member of the family, he was hardly an executive. He knew why Izaya’s thoughts were on the family business, of course but he wasn’t an advisor, just a loyal guard dog there to make sure Izaya didn’t get into too much trouble.

“You know I’m not really business-minded, Izaya.” He replied with a shrug. “I suppose if we’re already in the smuggling business, distribution would be the logical next step. Start selling our goods directly instead of to other families.”

Izaya flopped back against the seat with a snort, eyeing Yuuto with disappointment. Yuuto had been assigned to him just after he started high school, a combination bodyguard, driver, and voice of reason for the heir. Yuuto was six years his senior and one of the few men Shiro trusted to look after his son. Izaya, of course, had been annoyed by this chaperone but Yuuto had never interfered in Izaya’s hobbies and schemes, merely watching and pulling Izaya back when the raven was getting a bit too in over his head. They’d developed an easy sort of friendship over the years and Izaya respected Yuuto but the man had no real aspirations other than to serve the family. That content acceptance irked him, constantly restless and searching for more in life.

“I was thinking more along the lines of information.” Izaya continued and Yuuto cracked a slight smile. They’d had conversations like this many times over the years. “Everything we do in the underworld relies on it so why not make a business of it? It would be good profit and allow us to protect ourselves from any other families attempting to move in on us.”

“We both know you’re already doing that so why bring it up as if it’s not something the family hasn’t considered?” Yuuto pointed out.

“Because I don’t think Father is seriously considering it.” Izaya replied with a slight sigh. “Instead he’s sending me off to waste my time learning about gambling rings and prostitution.”

“You know that’s just an excuse to get you closer to the Awakusu executives Izaya.”

“He could send someone else.” The raven complained. “I could be spending this time continuing to build my network.”

“And playing with your humans?” Yuuto added with a chuckle. “You’re nineteen Izaya. You can’t keep running away from your responsibilities.”

“Are we even having the same conversation?” Izaya scoffed as Yuuto parked the car in front of the art gallery that served as the offices of the Awakusu-kai’s executives. “I am working on something that will profit the family.”

“This will also profit the family. Put those information gathering skills to work figuring out the Awakusu.” Izaya rolled his eyes as he stepped out of the car, smoothing the lines of his pants then turning to look at the gallery. It was underwhelming and blended in with the businesses beside it, which was the point of course. He stepped through the glass doors and into the building, noting that the place looked like it was between exhibits. A few paintings hung on the walls but mostly there were crates of art scattered about. A young woman with a pleasant demeanor approached him immediately.

“I’m sorry sir, the gallery is currently closed. As you can see we’re just in the middle of setting up our new exhibit.”

“I have an appointment with Shiki-san.” He replied, giving her a charming smile as he pulled out a business card and handed it to her. She gave a respectful bow and disappeared into the back of the gallery, leaving Izaya to stare at the paintings, most of which were rather boring. Landscapes and still lifes, the sorts of things you could find hanging in fancy hotel rooms or the homes of people with money and a need to make themselves look cultured. The Orihara’s kept a traditional Japanese home that was aesthetically pleasing but not gratuitous in its need to show wealth. You would never find a picture like these hanging on their walls.

“Orihara-san, if you will follow me?” The young woman had returned to guide him past the front that was the gallery and into the offices where the Awakusu did their real business. The first thing Izaya noticed as he was shown into a large office, was that there were four men and each of them had the bearing of men of importance. The sort of restrained violence that seemed to follow the yakuza as they progressed up the ranks. His first impression was that none of these men were the kind of executives who achieved their positions by violence alone, however, and the research he had done before this meeting could verify that. He didn’t bow, being of the technically higher station even if he was their junior in age. He simply fixed each of them with a smirk and a nod of his head in greeting until his gaze settled on Shiki.

Kine had warned Izaya about Shiki when he’d first taken the raven under his wing. He remembered now, the way he had thought surely Kine was exaggerating the dangers of the executive in the white suit but as their eyes met Izaya knew without a doubt that Shiki was the most dangerous man in this room, aside from himself of course. His lips curved up into a smile that was pure delight, having found something worth his interest in these Awakusu executives. “Shiki-san, a pleasure to finally meet you. My Father sends his thanks. I am in your care.” Izaya gives a slightly lower bow of his head to Shiki as he speaks formally, a charming smile on his lips and mischief in his eyes.

Shiki’s first impression of the Orihara heir was that he was far too pretty. He’d met Kyouko a few times and Izaya was definitely her son. Dressed in a tailored black suit with a crimson dress shirt that matched his eyes, he looked like he'd be at ease in one of the Awakusu’s host clubs, chatting up women with that charming smirk that didn't quite reach his eyes. It was those glittering rubies that sized up his men before settling on him that immediately changed his opinion. This was no pampered child. Izaya was dangerous, of that he had no doubt. A single look shared between them and he knew that he would have to deal with the heir directly.

“Orihara-san, thank you for coming. I hope this reinforces the bond our clans have built. I understand that you are in college, please make time for us as you can. We wouldn't want to interfere with your studies.”

“As I understand it, much of what you do tends to involve the evening hours so I have no concerns that my education will conflict with your work.” Izaya replied smoothly, shrugging. “I have no doubt that spending time with you will be far more interesting than anything the college parties could possibly offer.”

“Yes, of course.” Shiki replied. “In that case, would you be interested in a tour of the Awakusu’s businesses, Orihara-san?”

“That would be wonderful, Shiki-san.”

Akabayashi watched the exchange with amusement, later likening it to watching a tiger and a panther circling each other. He wasn't sure he liked the Orihara heir but he could see now why Kine had taken an interest in the kid. If there was anyone who fit the description ‘too clever’ he would have said it was Orihara Izaya. They had all been curious about the arrangement between Shirou and Mikiya regarding the heir. The Oriharas had shown no interest in expanding their interests beyond their smuggling operation, aside from Izaya’s little information gathering hobby that Kine had been helping him establish, which meant Izaya’s placement here was more political than educational. Keeping good relations with the Oriharas benefited the Awakusu but Akabayashi had the feeling they’d just invited a snake into their midst. He suspected that Izaya had more ambition in him than either his father or his grandfather.

“Allow me to introduce you to the other executives, Orihara-san.” Shiki had continued, indicating each of them in turn. “Akabayashi Mizuki, Aozaki Shuu, and Kazamoto Takaaki. Should you need anything, feel free to speak to any of us though I’ll be your main point of contact.”

“Pleasure to meet you all. I look forward to working with you.” Izaya replied with all the proper formality.

“Nice to finally put face to the rumours, though I wasn’t expecting such a pretty one. Bet you’re a real charmer with the ladies. I can see how you’d be good at gathering information.” Akabayashi gave voice to Shiki’s earlier thoughts with all the subtlety of a brick thrown through a window. Izaya didn’t rise to the bait, just settled that ruby gaze on Akabayashi as a smirk slipped onto his lips.

“No need to be jealous Akabayashi.” Aozaki added with a vicious grin, taking the opportunity to dig at the red devil. “Just cause the kid’s got all the looks you wish you had.”

“And the social graces you never learned, Aozaki.” Akabayashi responded without pause, though his gaze didn’t shift from Izaya’s. He could practically feel Shiki’s irritation at their bickering in front of Orihara, catching the man’s glare.

“No asset should be overlooked.” Izaya replied with a graceful shrug. “If a pretty face gets me what I want, I’ll use it.” He turned his gaze back to Shiki, still smirking. “I can’t imagine any of you would hold a different opinion? You’re not salarymen after all.”

“A pretty face might get you more than you bargained for.” Shiki replied coolly, expression unchanging. “But you’re not wrong. I will use any asset put in front of me. At this moment, that includes you, Orihara-san.”

Izaya’s smirk widened at Shiki’s words, words that should have been a warning but only served to heighten Izaya’s interest in this man. “Of course, Shiki-san. I am at your service, for the time being.” He acquiesced with words but there was nothing subservient in it, if anything the look in Izaya’s eyes bespoke challenge. Shiki matched his gaze unflinching. Orihara was definitely trouble. He’d have to be very careful with the heir.

“I am glad we understand each other. Shall we get to the tour then?”

“Please, lead the way.”

Chapter Text

The tour consisted of gambling dens hidden behind legitimate businesses, upscale brothels, and a mix of nightclubs and host clubs. The range of businesses the Awakusu had their fingers in were mostly entertainment related and some of them were even perfectly legal. It actually made Izaya curious to see the Awakusu's books. The Orihara’s business was by no means simple but it was very specific compared to the wide net the Awakusu cast. The tour had ended, at Akabayashi’s prompting, at one of the nightclubs where they were currently discussing the businesses over drinks.

“Everything you do is drawing profit from people's vices.” Izaya observed as he nursed a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. Drinking was expected but he wasn't fond of it and certainly had no intention of losing his wits to alcohol in front of the Awakusu executives so he took care not to drink too fast or too much. “How do you see the business changing if the push from the liberals to legalize casinos actually goes through?”

“It's unlikely to affect us that much because the type of gambling allowed would still be highly limited. If it passes the way they've proposed it, it would be limited to special licensing for tourist resorts or hotels. If the government does come around to the idea of legalizing gambling, it would only serve to profit us since we’re already in position to provide the services before anyone else could.” Shiki responded to Izaya’s perceptive question. Clearly the heir paid attention to politics which made sense considering his personal business involved exploiting politicians among other targets. Kine had avoided giving Shiki too much information on the specifics of Izaya’s broker business but the type of information he had brought forward from Izaya’s work was in itself telling. How Izaya managed to gain that kind of information while still just a teenager made Shiki curious, though he suspected that many of Izaya’s targets had underestimated him specifically because he was a teenager.

“So if your business is other people’s pleasure, why don’t the Awakusu deal in drugs?” Izaya continued, gaze shifting to Akabayashi. Kine had mentioned that the red-headed incarnation of violence was the reason for the Awakusu’s no drugs policy and he was curious as to why. “As I understand it, the Medei group do not have the same restriction.”

“The Medei group doesn’t determine the businesses we choose to operate. Drugs are troublesome.” Akabayashi replied, fixing Izaya with a dangerous look. So it was personal . Izaya noted from Akabayashi’s reaction.

“Well yes, high profit usually comes with high risk.” He acknowledged what would be the business-related reason to avoid drugs, smirking slightly.

“The Orihara-kai don’t deal in drugs either, despite your overseas connections being able to provide you with sources.” Shiki observed. Izaya gave a slight nod of his head.

“True but we’re a rather small family with significantly less resources. High risk usually requires higher initial capital to ensure success. If the police caught even the slightest scent of drugs coming in through our business we would be the focus of a great deal more scrutiny and that would definitely be bad for business.” He paused to take a sip of his drink before continuing. “As I understand it, if one were to entertain the idea of going into the drug trade, it would actually be less risky to produce chemical drugs than to import them. If you had the education and ability to set up facilities, of course.” Akabayashi leaned forward, raising a brow.

“Which would be bad business to do in Awakusu territory.” He replied flatly. Shiki watched the interplay with fascination. It was obvious Izaya was baiting Mizuki, what he wasn’t sure of was why.

“Don’t mind Akabayashi. He’s got a personal thing against drugs.” Aozaki looked at Izaya with a grin, amused that the kid was getting under his rival’s skin.

“Well it’s all just theoretical and not something my family is interested in. Grandfather isn’t particularly fond of drugs either.” Izaya relented though he appeared completely unphased by Akabayashi’s restrained aura of violence. “I understand the Awakusu do some less entertainment related business. Racketeering and collections?”

Aozaki leaned forward with a grin. “Yeah, me an’ Akabayashi tend to handle that side of the business. You interested in learning about that too? No offense kid but you don’t exactly have the intimidatin’ presence for that kind of work.”

“Looks can be deceiving.” Shiki said, noting the way Izaya’s eyes narrowed slightly at Aozaki’s observation. “Kine had a few unbelievable stories about how you spent your high school afternoons.”

“Well I am here to learn about all aspects of your business, even the violent ones.” Izaya replied to Aozaki before turning his gaze back to Shiki, once again glimmering with curiosity, wondering how much Kine had told the executive. Also, how much Shiki believed. “Though as I understand it, all it tends to require now is some posturing and the threat of violence to get people to bend. Do you even have to do any fighting anymore?”

“We do our best to avoid it. More trouble than it’s worth with the police but sometimes it’s necessary to drive the point home. We leave the senseless violence to the colour gangs, along with the police’s attention.”

“Smart.” Izaya replied and this time Shiki’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I suppose the Awakusu would fall under the whole intelliyakuza movement. Well times have changed after all. Even a traditionalist like my grandfather saw the need for change if the yakuza were to survive.”

“Is that why your father put you in college?” Shiki responded with a slight smile. “Hoping to lend some legitimacy to your family name with an education? What are you studying?”

Izaya raised a brow and shrugged. “Is a college degree all it takes to legitimize a criminal organization steep in centuries of history? I’m studying psychology which is not a degree that will lend any particular credibility to an imports and exports business anyway.”

Aozaki scoffed at that. “Psychology? Why waste your education on a useless degree like that?” Izaya just smirked at this.

“Useless? Only if your only tool for manipulating people is the overwhelming threat of violence.” Akabayashi snorted at this, amused to see Aozaki take a turn getting shredded by Izaya’s sharp tongue. “Understanding people, their inherent desires, makes them easier to manipulate. Violence may be a good motivator for some people but sometimes you can get much more out of someone with charm. Especially when you don’t want them to know that you’re fishing for information.” Shiki watched Izaya’s eyes light up as he spoke, clearly invested in his words. There was something almost fervent about the way he spoke of manipulating people and Shiki wondered if that was part of what Kine had seen in the teen version of Izaya.

“Pair your charm with your good looks and I’m sure you’re really great at getting girls phone numbers.” Akabayashi joked with a grin but Izaya sniffed in dismissal.

“Please. Hardly a challenge at all. You really need to think bigger.”

“Bigger than pretty girls your age? So older married women? Is that what you’re into Orihara-san?” Akabayashi continued to grin at Izaya.

“I thought that was what you were into Akabayashi-san.” Izaya retorted with a smile that cut like a razor and Shiki knew without a single doubt that Izaya was referring to Akabayashi’s love for Sonohara Sayaka. Akabayashi leaned forward and raised his glass in acknowledgement of the shot.

“Care to show me how useful your psychology is Orihara-san?” Akabayashi challenged. “See that girl sitting at the bar?” Izaya’s eyes slid to the young woman Akabayashi indicated. She was about his age with bleached blonde hair and makeup that made her look older.

“Ando Mayumi, daughter of Ando Ryouma, Ikebukuro’s current seat in the House of Representatives. Also very vocally opposed to the yakuza and believed to be under the influence of American politics.” Izaya replied. “Mayumi is in her first year of college, studying political sciences with a plan to follow in her father’s footsteps. Except she has leftist leanings unlike her conservative father, a point of contention between them, along with the fact that he cheated on her mother and she knows about it but feels obligated to keep her silence in order to protect her mother.”

All eyes were on him and Akabayashi began to laugh. “Well well. So you know who she is. Get her to spill that precious secret and out her father’s scandal. If you can do that, maybe this psychology and charm method of yours isn’t as useless as Aozaki thinks it is.”

Izaya gave Akabayashi another razor sharp smile then stood and tossed back the last of his drink. “Challenge accepted. Shiki-san, I’ll come by tomorrow after classes so you can show me the boring paperwork side of your jobs.” With that he stood and made his way across the bar to settle on the stool next to the girl. Shiki watched with a frown, a very bad feeling about this growing in his gut.

“You had to go and challenge the kid?” He said bluntly to Akabayashi but the red devil just shrugged.

“If he succeeds a politician who has been against us gets scandaled. If he fails, it’s his ass on the line not ours. You’re not at all curious if what Kine said about him was true?”

“Of course I’m interested but there are better ways.”

“Well he’s already got her giving him bedroom eyes.” Aozaki observed as Izaya and Mayumi got up, Izaya sliding an arm around her waist as they headed for the door. Izaya cast one brief glance back at the table of Awakusu, eyes locking on Shiki’s for the briefest moment before he disappeared through the door. Shiki sighed and took a long sip of his drink, having a great many regrets about agreeing to work with the Orihara heir, and all of them developing in only a few hours.

Chapter Text

“Is she alive?” Yuuto joked from the doorway of the hotel room. Izaya fixed him with an amused look before shifting his gaze to the girl who was passed out on the bed.

“I’m not going to even dignify that with a response.”

“Did you drug her?” Izaya snorted from his place lounging on the couch, writing a note on the hotel paper.

“What do you take me for?”

“Well you and Shijima were looking to test your little experiment.” Yuuto continued as he walked over to the girl, checking her pulse.

“She’s just passed out drunk. I need her lucid not addicted to something.”

“This is the Ando girl…” Yuuto turns back to Iaya with a raised brow. “I thought you were pulling back on the political schemes for a bit.”

“Hm.” Was Izaya’s reply as he continued to write. “This is just a little side game. Seems I need to prove something to the Awakusu.” Yuuto frowned at this.

“Prove what?”

“That violence isn’t the only way to get things done.”

“But the Awakusu aren’t solely about violence…”

“I’m aware. But I’m not going to back down from a challenge.”

“Did you sleep with her? You going to blackmail her with that or something?” Izaya just shook his head as he neatly folded the note and left it on the nightstand.

“I’m not blackmailing her. Just helping her to make a decision. Something she’s been avoiding for a couple years now. But if she fails to make a move herself… well I’ve got what I need to expose her father without her. Thought she’d be a little smarter, to be honest. She kept the photos on her phone and she doesn’t even have a password set. So naive. It’s almost cute.”

Yuuto raised a brow then shrugged. “Whatever. You ready to go?”

“Yeah.”

 

~

It took a couple days before Mayumi contacted him but Izaya was patient and had expected it. He was at the Awakusu office learning about the books from Kazamoto who he had discovered seemed to singlehandedly be the only reason the books were legible. He’d seen the reports that Akabayashi and Aozaki submitted and they were terrible.

“Why do you even expect them to submit reports if you end up having to spend so much time correcting them?” Izaya asked of the man, trying not to focus too hard on his face because it vaguely resembled an impressionist art piece. His mind just couldn’t make sense of the oddly smooth lines of the man’s face, or his seeming lack of nose. It was disconcerting.

“It amuses me to make them do it.” Kazamoto replied with a toothy grin. “Otherwise they’d just be sitting around the office bickering with each other and I wouldn’t get any work done listening to that.” Izaya chuckled at Kazamoto’s explanation.

“Fair enough. Do you actually have an accountant on payroll or do you do that too?”

“We have an accountant who is a member actually, much like you do.” Kazamoto confirmed. “Though Shiki-san has a tendency to review the books as well. Pretty much everything gets reviewed by Shiki-san before it leaves this office.”

Makes sense. Izaya thought. Accountability in the yakuza was significantly more life altering than just losing your job over a mistake. Though it sounded like Shiki was something of a control freak which Izaya found relatable.

When his phone buzzed with the text from Mayumi his lips spread into a grin and he pushed his chair away from the desk. “Sorry Kazamoto-san, I need to go. I’ll be back tomorrow.” Kazamoto just waved the heir away and returned to his work. Izaya felt eyes on him as he headed for the door, turning his head to meet Shiki’s cool gaze and giving the executive a salute before heading out the door.

He met Mayuki in an upscale bar that wasn’t owned by the Awakusu. She was already two drinks in and looking upset. Izaya settled on the seat beside her, leaning over to tuck a stray piece of blonde hair behind her ear. “What’s wrong, Mayumi-chan?” He asked, using her first name to imply a familiarity that they technically didn’t share but that she couldn’t really comment on because she’d been too drunk to remember what might have happened between them in that hotel room. A faint blush colored her cheeks and she stared intently at her drink.

“Orihara-san, thank you for meeting me. I…” She played with the glass nervously. “I’m sorry about the other night. I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember very much after we arrived at the hotel.” He chuckled softly and rested his hand on her thigh causing her to inhale sharply in surprise.

“I’d be happy to revisit the experience with you.” He said softly. “But that’s not why you asked me here tonight, is it?”

“Ahhh no…” She said though it was clear her thoughts were still lingering on what might have happened between them. “It’s about my father. What we talked about before… Before the hotel.”

“Oh? You seemed quite troubled by that. Have you made a decision?”

“I think so, yes, but I was hoping I could get your help. My mother… I want to protect her from the worst of this and I know you have resources. Could you… Would you help hide her from the press until the worst of it blows over?” Izaya raised a brow at this, a slight smirk twitching the corners of his lips upward.

“Of course, Mayumi-chan.” He purred, sliding his hand up along her thigh as he leaned in to whisper in her ear. “I’d be happy to help. I just hope you’ll remember this favour in the future.” He pulled out a card and slid it over the counter to her. “Contact this reporter and tell him I sent you. He’ll cover the story for you and he’ll leave your mother alone. I’ll send you the arrangements for your mother tomorrow. Don’t worry, Mayumi-chan, you’re doing the right thing. A man of such questionable morals has no place representing the people.”

‘Yes, of course, Orihara-san. I won’t forget your help and… Well, after all of this is over could we meet again?” She glanced at him shyly and Izaya gave her a delighted smile and if it didn’t reach his eyes, she certainly didn’t notice.

“Of course, Mayumi-chan. I’m looking forward to seeing you again.” She gave Izaya a shy smile.

“Thank you very much Orihara-san.”

 

~

Akabayashi sauntered into Shiki’s office and dropped a newspaper on his desk. Shiki’s coffee cup was still full, a good indicator that he shouldn’t be disturbed so the slightest hint of irritation was in his eyes when he looked up at the red devil then down at the headline.

House Representative Ando Ryouma Caught in Family Scandal!

Shiki’s eyebrows arched slightly as he picked up the paper and read through the article. Just as challenged, the Orihara heir managed to convince Mayumi to come out with the truth about her father’s affairs, including picture proof, some of which was pretty graphic.

“Three days. By the end of the week they’ll be calling for his resignation.” Akabayashi commented as he settled on the leather couch. Shiki put down the paper and took a long sip of his coffee, eyeing Akabayashi over the rim of the cup. “Kine was right about him.” Akabayashi continued into the silence. “You think he blackmailed her or seduced her?”

“I don’t think it matters how he achieved this result.” Shiki mused thoughtfully. “And I think Kine might have actually underestimated him. Ando’s wife seems to have disappeared in the wake of the media frenzy, according to the article. The Andos don’t own any property outside of their Tokyo home and she doesn’t have any resources of her own outside of her husband’s yet she somehow has the ability to completely disappear from Tokyo overnight.”

Akabayashi frowned at this. “You think Orihara had something to do with the wife’s absence?”

“He did say Mayumi had kept her silence in order to protect her mother from the scandal. What better way to get her to come forward than to provide her mother with the protection and privacy? With enough time, the media will move onto the next big scandal and she’ll be able to return quietly. Likely with a very decent settlement for her husband’s infidelity.”

“So he bribed the girl?”

“And likely gained her favour doing it. She wants to become a politician and now feels indebted to Orihara for his help.”

“Well all the better for us to have a potential tool.” Shiki settles Akabayashi with an irritated glare.

We don’t have anything. Orihara has a potential tool. We may benefit from Ando’s scandal but so does he and your little challenge has given him more profit from this than us.” Akabayashi frowned at this. “You were looking at it from the perspective that he works for us currently and we may be allied with the Orihara-Kai but they are still their own family. Izaya is under no obligation to use his personal contacts, resources or skills to our benefit if it doesn’t also benefit him or his family. I would put money on the only reason he did this at all was because you and Aozaki pricked his ego and he’s young enough to let that sort of thing bother him.”

Akabayashi shrugged at that. “Still, it proves everything Kine said about him. Can’t say I trust the kid but he’s useful.”

“If we can keep him working with our goals in mind and not his own entertainment, yeah, Orihara could be useful but Kine admitted he had difficulty keeping the kid out of trouble.”

“Yeah but that’s what teenagers do. He’s in college now and has the expectations of his family to keep him in line.”

“Maybe.” Was all Shiki said in response, staring thoughtfully at his coffee cup. He doubted the expectations of his family were going to keep Izaya out of trouble and as long as the heir was working with him that meant he’d have to figure out a way to keep Izaya’s focus where it benefited him the most.

Chapter Text

Izaya’s apartment was very modern. Clean lines, open spaces and floor to ceiling windows. The furniture matched, very modern and aesthetically pleasing. It presented a facade that turned what should have been a comfortable living space into something that looked more spartan, like an office. Which had been Izaya’s intention with the apartment after all; it served one purpose and that was to facilitate his information gathering and other private interests.

Izaya also chose to do most of his schoolwork here, finding it far easier to study uninterrupted by his very irritating sisters. He’d been splitting his evenings between the Awakusu and the continuation of his business, but had taken the night off to work on several essays that were due for school. He didn’t find any of the schoolwork particularly difficult but it did take time to put together a cohesive essay that fit the ridiculously specific rules the university professors set in place.

The number of people who knew about his apartment was very small: family and a few friends. A handful of clients had visited but most of his clients he met with in public places. So he found himself a bit surprised when his buzzer went off, announcing a guest. He shifted his gaze from his laptop screen to the camera screen, raising a brow when a certain white-suited executive’s face appeared on the screen, looking straight up at the camera. Well then. He buzzed Shiki in, not bothering to speak through the intercom. He pulled off his reading glasses, tucking them into his desk drawer then stood and made his way to the door, unlocking it.

“Shiki-san. An unexpected pleasure.” He purred with a smirk as he let the executive in. “I didn’t realize you were aware of my private residence.”

“As you are, no doubt, aware of mine.” Shiki replied as he stepped into the apartment, removing his shoes and following Izaya. He glanced around at the apartment, noting the barely lived in feel. Not a thing out of place, like a showhome instead of an actual home. His eyes were drawn to the lines of bookshelves along one wall, housing not books but file folders. A surprising amount of them in an array of different colors. “I was under the impression that you were going to tail Aozaki this evening.”

“Shiki-san came to check up on me? How thoughtful. I assure you, I am fine. I simply had some schoolwork to do.” Izaya leaned against the front of his desk, turning to watch Shiki with amusement. “Can I offer you anything to drink? The coffee is fresh. I also have tea or sake.”

“Coffee is fine.” Shiki’s eyes returned to Izaya’s then past him to the windows. As Izaya moved toward the kitchen Shiki moved toward the windows. “Nice view.” He commented, staring down at the neon glow of the streets of Ikebukuro’s red light district. “Interesting choice of location.”

“No better place to view humans at their best and worst.” Izaya replied as he returned with a cup of coffee for Shiki who accepted it without turning away from the view. “So what can I do for you, Shiki-san?”

“I’m interested in your other business. Your working relationship with Kine was very profitable for us and I wish to continue it. As I told you the day we met, I intend to use any useful tool within my reach and your information business is very useful. Your gambit with the politician’s daughter made that abundantly clear and unlike the devils, I understand the value of non-violent methods.”

“Is that all I am, Shiki-san? A tool to be used?” Izaya replied with a smirk. “I thought we were allies.”

“Of course. As my ally I have every intention of compensating you very well for your services but I expect, as my ally that you will work for the Awakusu first and foremost.”

“Sounds bad for business.” Izaya observed.

“That you have this business at all is partly due to the Awakusu’s help.” Shiki turned to look at the young heir. “I don’t expect you to work against your own clan or work only for us, only that you don’t take jobs that would set you against us. I imagine your father wouldn’t be particularly happy if you were working against your allies anyway.”

Izaya’s eyes were once again studying him with curiosity and Shiki wondered what he had done to earn that look when Izaya’s gaze only held apathy for most other people. “You’re not making this deal with my father though.” Izaya observed. “You’re coming directly to me.”

“I prefer to cut out needless bureaucracy when possible. Besides we both know this business is your interest not his. It’s ambitious and your father, like Mikiya, prefers the middle ground to taking risks.”

Izaya turned and drifted toward one of the leather couches, humming softly in though as he considered Shiki’s proposal. The executive spoke with the calm assurance of a man who knew what the outcome would be and that irritated Izaya. He was usually the one in control in situations like this but just as he didn’t back down to the aura of danger that surrounded Shiki, neither did Shiki fall prey to his manipulation. It was a strange sort of stalemate and it was both fascinating and frustrating. Shiki joined him on the couch, settling into patient silence as Izaya contemplated the offer. The problem was that it benefited him to take the deal and refusing it just to spite Shiki, while entertaining, would not be profitable. It could also potentially damage the alliance between their families and that was not something he dared to risk.

“It seems I’ve no choice but to accept your deal, Shiki-san, if I want my business to profit.” He put his coffee cup down and turned slightly to face the executive. “I will work for you and I won’t take jobs that knowingly conflict with Awakusu interests. However beyond that, I work for me and you will not interfere with any other clients I choose to take. The moment you do, the deal is off. Also, I set my fees. No negotiation. If you’re going to monopolize me, expect to pay a premium.” Shiki gave a slight smile at Izaya’s terms and nodded.

“Reasonable but if you try to extort me, we will be revisiting this conversation.” Shiki said with all the politeness of a proper business deal yet with the unmistakable menace that implied revisiting would involve more than words. Izaya’s eyes narrowed as his lips curved up in a smirk at the underlying threat.

“I would never extort an ally .” Izaya responded without missing a beat. “Shall we check the going rates on informants in Tokyo and compare for a baseline?” Shiki arched a brow at Izaya’s sassy remark.

“No need Orihara-san. One must extend trust to one’s ally after all.” He responded but the look he fixed Izaya with made it clear that any betrayal of that trust would end very badly for him.

“Then I will also trust Shiki-san.” Izaya replied. “Shall I get that sake so we might toast to this agreement?”

“No need.” Shiki waved off the formality. “I’ll leave you to your homework, Orihara-san. Wouldn’t want you to fall behind after all.” Shiki stood and made his way to the door, followed by Izaya.

“Do feel free to visit again, Shiki-san, though next time I would appreciate it if you called ahead. I’m not always home.”

“Ah yes, I shall endeavour to be less impulsive.” He replied as he slipped on his shoes, giving Izaya the faintest of smiles, just a slight lift at the corners of his mouth. They both knew Shiki’s visit was not impulsive at all, but completely planned. Izaya saw the executive out then returned to his desk, smiling at the exchange. He was engaging in a dangerous game with the Awakusu executive and it was exciting, a heady feeling that made him want more. He’d scored a point with Akabayashi’s challenge and now Shiki had retaliated, smoothly scoring a point against him. He may have lost this round but he got some satisfaction out of the fact that Shiki didn't know that Izaya had a cat. It was a shame he wouldn't be able to see the man's reaction when he discovered that the back of those pristine white trousers had picked up a nice layer of black cat fur. He let that thought amuse him as he plotted what his next move should be.

Chapter Text

April twenty ninth was the beginning of Golden Week and Izaya had planned to spend it working. He had some thoughts about the colour gangs in Ikebukuro and whether or not they could serve as useful tools for him, given that they were potential eyes and ears everywhere. There was a new one in particular that had just started up, full of young teens, that had drawn his curiosity. Since school was on break during the multi-holiday week, it had seemed like the perfect time to do some investigating but it seemed his family had different plans. So it was that he had to rely on simply sending in one of his suicide girls to spy on them while he fulfilled family obligations.

He would have prefered his personal pursuits to a day spent walking around the grounds of the Meiji Shrine, getting dragged from one festival stall to the next by his overly excited sisters, and listening to his parents talk to his grandfather about the same boring business details of smuggling. However it was a rare thing for his parents to do anything family related - he suspected this may have been at Torakichi’s prompting - so he suffered through it with the hopes that he might be able to talk with his parents about his work as a broker, or even what he’d learned about the Awakusu.

“Iza-nii! Iza-nii!” Mairu called to him from a festival stand selling handmade painted fans.

“Pretty.” Kururi spoke softly as she pointed to them. Izaya sighed and approached the stand, followed by his mother.

“They are quite nice.” Kyouka commented as she surveyed the various goods on display. “The painter has a good eye for colour.” Her fingers trailed over the fans gently as she reached out and plucked several from the table. “We can use them at the cherry blossom viewing.” She said with a half smile as she paid for them then pressed one of them into Izaya’s hand. “I think this one is fitting, don’t you?” She asked her son with a slightly wicked look. Izaya looked down at the fan, painted in colours that didn’t fit the soft colors of spring. Red and black stained the fan in a pattern of a snake curling around camellias. Izaya raised a brow.

“Maybe for you, Mother.” Izaya replied with a shake of his head.

“Oh I don’t know, a serpent surrounded by beautiful flowers seems very apt.” She replied before turning away to give the twins their fans. “Quite the move with the Andos, even if it was done for the sake of nothing more than your ego. His politics have been causing problems for us as well.”

“If I had known it was Father’s desire to see him removed I could have acted sooner.” He responded with a slight smirk at his mother’s somewhat backhanded compliment.

“We both know your father would never have approved of such a move.” She replied with a shrug that drew a sigh from Izaya. “How has your time with the Awakusu been?”

“Interesting. They have very diverse business interests and it’s quite fascinating how they manage them all under the same banner. Their executives are also interesting. A very diverse group, I must say.”

“Yes, I’ve met them. I understand you’re working with Shiki-san now on your information business?” Izaya nodded at that.

“We only recently discussed it but yes, I’ll be working with him directly now that Kine has left the Awakusu.”

“Such a shame, that. Kine was a very useful man. Shiki-san is, as I understand it, very good at his job so I have no doubt you will work well together.” Izaya frowned slightly at this.

“You’ve no concerns that I’m working with the Awakusu on this?” Kyouka gave him an enigmatic smile.

“Of course not. The Awakusu are our allies after all and building trust between our families is a good thing.” Izaya fell silent, contemplating what possible hidden agenda his mother was working at by encouraging him to work with Shiki. “I see value in your business and keeping the Awakusu as customers gives them one more reason to continue to keep the alliance.” She clarified but Izaya still felt that she was hiding something. “Now, tell me about university.”

“It’s dull for the most part but there are some things I’m learning that are interesting. I’ve added another language class this year as well.”

“Oh? What language? That will be three now?”

“Mandarin, yes. Along with English and Russian that’s three.”

“Very useful, especially with the increase in Chinese triads trying to force their presence here.”

“Yes, I understand that one of the syndicates in Hong Kong is causing inconveniences to some of our holdings.” Izaya observed.

“Nothing we can’t avoid with a bit of extra money but yes, they have become more aggressive recently.”

“If the Syndicate didn’t have a foothold here-”

“They are not our concern.” Shiro commented with a shake of his head. “They have no interest in targeting us. Let the police or the other families deal with them.” Izaya blinked as his father spoke, letting his mouth close around the words forming into a counter argument he knew would fall on deaf ears. “It’s better not to get involved in these fights, keep our family safe.” Shiro finished.

“Of course, dear.” Kyouka replied with a smile. “We were merely discussing it.” Izaya’s lips curved downward as he fell into a slight sulk, once again shut down by his overly cautious father before he could even share his ideas.

 

~

 

May third was known as Kenpo Kinenbi - Constitution Memorial Day - a political holiday no one really cared about but an excuse for salarymen to vacation. Kyouka and Nanami Awakusu, Mikiya’s quiet wife, had arranged a cherry blossom viewing between the two families. The Oriahras would host since their estate, while not as large as the Awakusu house, had a larger garden space that Kyouka was quite proud of, even though it was the gardeners she hired who did all the work.

Izaya had always liked the garden. It had served as a peaceful place to escape to when his sisters were annoying him or when he was being expected to do such tedious things as chores or homework during his younger school years. As he grew older, it became a place he could go to study and lose himself in his own thoughts. He was less than inclined to the idea of opening it up to guests, ruining his peaceful haven with their politics but had no choice in the matter.

He had taken up a spot in the branches of a blooming sakura tree, giving him a lovely view of the rest of the gathering. Yuuto was leaning against the tree trunk, drinking some sort of fruit punch as he chided Izaya.

“Your mother has been asking where you disappeared to. Are you going to hide up there all day?”

“I’m not hiding, I’m observing. The imagery of an assortment of business-suit clad thugs walking under the cherry blossoms, discussing the banalities of everyday life is quite breathtaking.”

“You’re so contrary. You could be using this as an opportunity to network.” Izaya snorted. “Your sisters seem to have adopted the Awakusu girl, Mikiya’s daughter.”

“Poor Akane.” Izaya responded in an overly dramatic and morose tone of voice. “My sisters will, no doubt, corrupt her completely. If she goes home and stabs her father with tacks, do you think that will end our alliance?”

“I don’t know, did your sisters learn to stab people from you Orihara-san?” A new voice joined in the conversation and Izaya glanced down through the branches to see that Shiki had found his way over without being noticed.

“Ah, Shiki-san, I’m not that sort of troublesome youth.” Izaya lied with a smirk. “If my sisters know how to use sharp objects, it’s only in the effort to ensure they know how to protect themselves. Any caring brother would do the same.” Shiki snorted and leaned against the tree opposite Yuuto, lighting a smoke.

“I would think someone who brags about the benefits of social manipulation would be in the middle of it instead of hiding on the fringes.”

“Not hiding. Observing. Sometimes distance reveals more than close contact you know. This way I can study the interplay between your family and mine without it being coloured by the inevitable formality people will treat me with if I’m part of the conversation.”

“So you’re hiding because you don’t want everyone treating you like the heir.” Shiki observed. Izaya wrinkled his nose in annoyance as the scent of Shiki’s cigarette drifted up to him.

“That’s a terrible habit you know.” He commented, refusing to rise to the bait of Shiki’s words.

“Too old to give up my habits now.” Shiki replied with a slight smile.

“Oh yes, Shiki-san is soooo old. Practically on his deathbed at the age of twenty seven.”

“Prematurely aged by the troublesome youths I have to deal with. Like you. Besides, I find it calming.”

“Have you considered other known-to-be-calming past times like bonsai trees? Or perhaps you should get a cat. They can have quite the calming effect on their owners, you know.”

Shiki turned his gaze up to look at the raven above him. “Maybe I’ll come by and get to know your cat.” Izaya smirked at that. “Come down and be a good host, Orihara. Your absence has been noted by more than a few important people.”

“Ah, my apologies Shiki-san, I wasn’t aware that I was hosting .” Izaya lithely made his way out of the branches, causing a small shower of cherry blossom petals to cascade around Shiki and Yuuto as he landed. “How might I make amends to my most honoured guest?”

“I am curious to know which of your parents you take after more. I have a feeling it’s Kyouka as I find it hard to imagine Shiro being as brazen as you.”

“Oh? Does Shiki-san not like brazen hosts?” Izaya replied with mischief in his eyes. “Perhaps he prefers the quiet, submissive ones?”

Yuuto was slightly wide-eyed at the exchange, giving Izaya a slight shake of his head in dismay. Why did Izaya always have to pick the most dangerous thing in a given room to play with? The better question was how he always managed to escape the consequences of his adrenaline-seeking games.

Shiki, on the other hand, was as unreadable as ever. “I would be an ungrateful guest to complain about my host.” Shiki replied without even a pause or an indication that Izaya's verbal attacks had any impact. This brought the slightest pout to Izaya's lips before they twitched back up into an amused smirk.

“Then let me ensure that Shiki-san enjoys himself. I wouldn't want to give you any reason to be disappointed in my hospitality.” Izaya turned and led them back toward the main gathering, though while they had been talking other small groups had broken off to walk the garden paths and chat.

“Ah, Izaya, it seems Maeda-kun found you.” Kyouka commented as they approached. “And Shiki-san too?”

“I had merely stepped away for a smoke, Orihara-chan, and run into them.” Shiki lied politely, causing Izaya's gaze to slide to the executive briefly.

“Izaya, have you met Awakusu Akane yet?” His mother continued, giving Shiki an amused look but accepting the lie. She turned to where the young girl sat, talking to his sisters. Izaya's eyes settled on a girl who couldn't have been more than eight years old and gave her a slight bow.

“Hello Akane. It's nice to finally meet you.” He said with a warm smile that didn't reach his eyes. The girl stared up at him with a bit of awe.

“That's Iza-nii!” Mairu chirped. “He's the worst big brother ever.”

“So mean.” Kururi echoed.

“But he's still our big brother. You can call him Iza-nii too, Akane!”

“Iza-nii.” Kururi agreed. Izaya sighed at his sisters but Akane smiled a bit.

“Nice to meet you Iza-nii.” She said quietly before turning back to whatever game the three girls had been playing.

“Izaya why don't you show Shiki-san to the kitchen and get him something to drink?” Kyouka prompted before turning her attention to other approaching guests wishing to speak with her.

“Of course. I wouldn't want to fail my host duties.” Izaya replied, turning toward the house.

They returned to the garden with drinks and snacks, finding an unclaimed spot on a blanket beneath one of the trees, joined by Akabayashi and Aozaki. Yuuto and Aozaki laid in the shade, napping, while Akabayashi attempted to convince Shiki and Izaya that the crabs he had contributed to the small feast were perfectly fine. As the afternoon passed into evening, Izaya found himself enjoying the conversation as it drifted from one topic to the next. They talked a little of work and politics, but also drifted into more philosophical things. It gave him insight into the other men, and a sense of the brotherhood they shared. He had that with Yuuto but with his father keeping him out of the actual business, he had never had the opportunity to build the same kind of relationship with his own family’s executives and he'd certainly never seen reason to do so with any of his schoolmates growing up. Eventually the viewing came to a close as the sun set over the garden.

“I do hope you enjoyed yourself, Shiki-san.” Izaya said as the two of them sat together, sharing the trunk of the tree. “Was I a proper enough host for you?”

Shiki exhaled a puff of smoke from his cigarette, watching it drift upward. “Oh yes, Orihara-san. I'm quite impressed by your ability to don and shed masks appropriate to your situation. The perfect social chameleon, playing to people's expectations.” Izaya chuckled softly at that.

“Everyone does it. I'm just better at it than most.”

“Because you spent so much time studying others?”

“In part, yes.”

“I'm interested to see what lies underneath all those pretty lies you weave around yourself.” With that Shiki stood. “Goodnight Orihara-san.” He said, fixing his gaze on Izaya's, smiling slightly, before turning to leave.

Izaya stared after the executive for a long time, contemplating the words Shiki had thrown at him before leaving. He found Shiki extremely hard to read so of course, he read into those words too much, examining any conceivable meaning that Shiki might have put in them. Yet in the end, it was all just supposition and he couldn't dare ask Shiki. He also couldn't remember more than a handful of people in his life who had been able to see through his masks and that, in equal parts, concerned and excited him. It made Shiki far more dangerous an element than he'd initially expected.

“Fuck…”

 

~

 

May fourth was known as Arbour Day but more importantly, it was Izaya's birthday. Not that he was overly sentimental about getting older but he did enjoy attention. The small group of what Izaya called his experiments - and normal people called friends - had insisted that he come out and party with them. He'd only caved when Shinra promised to buy him otoro and Mikage said she'd pay for his drinks. Yuuto interjected to point out that none of them were legal to drink and was swiftly dragged into being their designated driver by Kyohei.

Izaya supposed, as he sat in the back seat of the sedan, that their outing was probably tame for a group of twenty year olds celebrating a birthday. They had started their evening at Russia Sushi, probably the weirdest sushi shop in Ikebukuro, but also a favorite due to their high school days. Izaya ordered only otoro with a wicked grin as Shinra groaned at the price tag.

They were now about to arrive at a host club that had a bad habit of not IDing customers, which was the sole reason they'd picked it. None of them were interested in the hostesses. As Yuuto pulled up in front of the club more than a few heads turned to look at them. Izaya grinned as he stepped out, enjoying the attention their entrance garnered as he moved toward the entrance.

“Welcome, sir. Do you have a reservation?” The man at the front asked. Izaya gave the man a smirk.

“Of course. It's under Orihara.” They hadn't thought to make a reservation but name dropping was just as effective. The man immediately gave a bow and escorted them to a table.

“Was that really necessary?” Kyohei commented as they settled onto the leather couches.

“Of course.” Izaya replied as he picked up the drink menu. “What good is being part of a well known family if I can’t drop my name for instant service once in a while?”

“Kyohei might be less critical if you didn’t drop it all the time.” Mikage commented with a snort. “Not that I’m complaining. Please continue to drop your name when I’m with you. I like the perks.”

“Speaking of perks Izaya,” Shinra piped up. “When are you going to introduce me to the Awakusu? I thought you were going to help me get more clients.”

“I’ll set something up.” Izaya replied. “I can’t imagine the Awakusu would turn down the services of a very good underground doctor. I don’t understand why you don’t just get your license though.”

“Why bother going to school when I already know everything they are going to teach me?” Shinra replied with a shrug. “Besides school is expensive and I have to support my darling Ce -oof!” Mikage elbowed Shinra in the ribs before he could get going on his weird girlfriend.

“How many more years for you Izaya?” Mikage asked.

“This is my second year so technically four but I might be able to do it in three. I’ve been taking the maximum classes I’m allowed to take.”

“And working with the Awakusu? Isn’t that too much?”

“Working with the Awakusu hasn’t exactly been stressful-”

“Yet.” Kyohei added.

“But I’ve had to do less with my information brokering. It’s too bad.”

“Pardon the intrusion, but might I get you something to drink?” The voice was young and the face was pretty.

“Yes, of course.” Izaya replied with a smirk. “Mikage, you did say you were buying, right?”

Mikage groaned. “Yeah, yeah. Richest one at the table won’t even buy his own drinks…”

It’s my birthday.” Izaya whined and Mikage punched him in the shoulder. He gave her a wounded look then ordered a Smirnoff Ice. The rest of them ordered a pitcher of beer to split and the waitress retreated.

“She was cute.” Kyohei observed, eyes still lingering on the waitress’s retreating backside.

“Not as cute as -oof!”

“Hey Izaya, you going to find yourself a girl?” Kyohei continued, turning to look at Izaya. “I mean, you could have your pick, they always did throw themselves at you.” Mikage snorted.

“Sure, he could have any girl he wanted but there’s a reason he doesn’t pick one.” Izaya raised a brow and shook his head.

“Mikage don’t.”

“I can’t believe you never told them.”

“Told us what?” Shinra asked, looking very interested in the conversation. Too interested for Izaya’s comfort.

“It’s private.”

“They’re your friends.”

“What are you two going on about?” Kyohei interceded.

“Yeah, what does Izaya’s only known ex-girlfriend know about him that we don’t?”

“Potentially a lot of things.” Kyohei observed. “The sort of things I’m not sure I want to know about Izaya.”

“I want to know!” Shinra exclaimed. “Is Izaya some kind of kinky pervert in bed?”

“Let’s just say Izaya only dated me for appearances.” Mikage replied with a grin as Izaya shot daggers at her with his eyes. “I don’t know why it’s such a big deal.”

“Because there are expectations, Mikage. My family doesn’t know and I’d like to keep it that way. I’d rather not find myself disowned.” Kyohei and Shinra exchanged confused looks at the conversation.

“So you’ll live a lie?” Izaya shrugged.

“I’ll add it to the long list of lies I’m living.” He replied with a smirk but Mikage just shook her head.

“Well I know Shinra and Kyohei won’t care. I mean, Shinra’s in love with a headless woman so he hardly has a right to judge.”

“What about my darling Celty?”

The waitress returned with their drinks, interrupting the conversation Izaya definitely didn’t want to be having on his birthday. Yuuto arrived at the same time.

“Parking is a bitch around here.” He muttered, swiping Shinra’s glass and pouring himself a beer. “What did I miss?”

“Well I made a remark about how the waitress was cute and it led to Mikage and Izaya arguing about something.”

“Technically it was you asking Izaya when he was going to get a girlfriend that started it.” Shinra added helpfully.

“Oh, that.” Yuuto replied. “Speaking of girlfriends, Kyohei, why haven’t you found yourself a girl?”

“Just haven’t found the right one yet, I guess.” He replied with a shrug.

“Probably doesn’t help that you’re still running with that color gang.” Yuuto continued with a slight grin. “That attracts all the wrong kinds of girls, at least if you’re looking for more than a one-night stand.”

“You’re probably right. Honestly, the way the gang’s been going lately… I don’t know if I’m gonna stick around much longer. It’s just not what I signed up for and they’ve been drawing the attention of the police lately. Last thing I want is to end up in jail because their leader went too far.”

“That’s the Blue Squares, right?” Izaya asked, thankful to Yuuto for changing the subject and interested in what Kyohei had to say about the color gang he’d been running with since they’d graduated.

“Yeah, they recently had a change of leadership and the new guy, Izumii Ran… Well he’s definitely more violent than his predecessor, and unfortunately not as smart.”

“Well it’s probably best if you get out before he fucks up then.” Mikage said with a grimace. “I don’t know why you joined up with them in the first place. I suppose you could join that new gang that’s popped up, the Yellow Scarves?”

“Nah, they’re all kids. Like, middle schoolers. Even some younger I’ve heard.”

Izaya listened with a grin, filing the information away for later. After that, conversation drifted to Mikage and her brother’s martial arts dojo and, unfortunately, on to Shinra’s life which was mostly just endless chatter about his one true love. They never bothered to pick a host to entertain them but spent more than enough on drinks that the club didn’t care. Despite telling himself that he wasn’t going to get drunk, Izaya had lost track of just how many drinks he’d had. A very amused Yuuto helped him up to his apartment, which was a bit like trying to herd a cat, as Izaya very happily psychologically profiled all of his friends.

“Izaya that’s a terrible habit.” He observed as the raven collapsed onto the couch.

“Who cares? It’s useful. Want me to do you?”

“No, I really don’t.”

“Well that’s boring. Hey Yuuto?”

“Yeah, Izaya?”

“Thanks for the topic change earlier.” Yuuto gave Izaya a smile.

“Yeah, no problem. Mikage still giving you hard time about it, huh?”

“She doesn’t understand.”

“You really think your family’d disown you over it? I mean, I know they’re traditional about some things but…”

“It’s not worth the risk. Besides, it’s not like I’m missing out on anything. I can’t afford to get that close to anyone anyway. Relationships are just too risky.” Yuuto studied the drunk raven quietly, thinking not for the first time that Izaya was too detached from his own emotions.

“Hey, you think your dad is going to try to arrange a marriage for you…?” Yuuto joked. Izaya made a face.

“God I hope not. Maybe he’ll try to marry me off to the Awakusu girl to secure the alliance.”

“Ok, she’s what, eight? I don’t think your father would set you up with an eight year old and I know Kyouka would never agree to such a thing.”

“Well… No one could blame me for not being interested in her…” Izaya joked.

“You’re terrible.” Yuuto laughed.

“I know. But you’re laughing so you’re terrible too.”

“Happy birthday, Izaya.”

“Thanks Yuuto.”

 

~

 

The last holiday of Golden Week was Children’s Day. Izaya was thinking about renaming it Day of the Epic Hangover. Which is to say, Izaya’s first epic hangover, and he was decidedly opposed to ever experiencing it again. If he had been able to, perhaps, sleep it off like he had originally planned, he might not feel quite so much like death. However, he’d been awoken from the deep sleep of the truly drunk by his sisters. One long phone call full of begging and half a pot of coffee later and Izaya was on his way to the Sunshine Aquarium with his sisters because his parents, to no one’s surprise, were busy doing work things and Izaya, despite grumbling about it the whole time, had a soft spot for the twins. Yuuto was driving because “Oh god the sun has never been such a cruel bitch, why does my head feel like it’s going to explode?”

“Iza-nii we want to see the penguins.”

“Penguins.”

“And the sea lions!”

“Raar.”

“Kururi they don’t actually roar.” Izaya replied. “They making a kind of barking noise, like seals do.”

“Iza-nii is so smart!”

“Bark.”

Yuuto let out a soft chuckle, earning a mildly irritated glance from Izaya. “We’ll go through the whole aquarium, don’t worry.” Izaya replied to the twins, wondering if throwing himself into the shark tank would end his suffering.

Once they were in the aquarium, with it’s soothing blue and green tones everywhere - and the aspirin had kicked in - Izaya began to feel better about the trip. After all, while the girls were staring at fish, he was able to indulge in his people watching hobby. That’s how he spotted a peculiar pair also taking in the sights of the Aquarium. Akabayashi, the red devil, one of the most feared members of the Awakusu, was carrying little Miss Akane on his shoulders as they moved from one tank to the next. Izaya smirked as he pulled out his phone and snapped a picture. Before he could find a way to avoid the Awakusu pair, the twins were running up to Akabayashi without hesitation.

“Oji-san!” Mairu yelled. “Did Akane want to see the sea lions too?”

“Busy?” Kururi echoed.

“Busy…?” Akabayashi asked of the quieter twin as he set Akane down.

“Our parents were too busy to bring us so Kururi was wondering if that’s why you’re here, Oji-san.” Mairu clarified.

Akane nodded. “My Dad had to work.”

“You’re not here alone, are you?” Akabayashi asked, frowning a bit.

“No, Iza-nii brought us!” Mairu declared, pointing at Izaya.

“Bribe.” Kururi confirmed.

“Ah, Orihara-san. Your sisters bribed you?”

“Mm.” Izaya acknowledged the truth with a slight smirk. “Though they’re not very good at bribery yet.”

“Good afternoon, Iza-nii.” Akane said to Izaya, giving him a polite bow.

“What a well-mannered young lady.” Izaya observed. “Perhaps Akane-chan can teach my sisters how to behave properly.”

“Iza-nii! So mean!” Mairu protested.

“Stupid.” Kururi echoed.

Akane giggled a bit. “I like your sisters, Iza-nii. Can we look at the fish together?”

Izaya gave a shrug. “Whatever. It’s your day after all. Unless Oji-san has other plans?” He slid his gaze to Akabayashi, amused. Akabayashi just grinned back at him.

“You girls go on and enjoy yourselves. Iza-nii and I will wait for you here.” The girls happily skipped off, Mairu and Kururi each claiming one of Akane’s hands as they explored the various exhibits.

“I’m curious as to how you got pulled into babysitting.” Izaya said as Akabayashi sat down on the bench beside him, resting his hands on his cane.

“Akane asked me. I don’t mind. She’s a sweet kid. Could ask you the same question.”

“They told you. They bribed me.” Izaya replied with a shrug. “They promised me that they will not interrupt my studying for a week. I predict they will remember their promise for two days.”

“Why two days?”

“Because Monday is back to school and they always have something of the utmost importance to share with me after school.” Akabayashi laughed at that.

“You seem close.” He observed and Izaya just shrugged.

“The twins spent more time with me growing up than they did our parents so it’s to be expected that they formed a stronger bond with me.” Akabayashi nodded at this.

“Seems like you formed a stronger bond with them too.”

“They were a pain in my ass.” Izaya deflected, unwilling to voice any kind of fondness for his sisters.

“Uh huh. Like all younger siblings.” Akabayashi added with a grin.

“Do you have siblings, Akabayashi-san?” Izaya asked, curious.

“Nah, I was an only child. Which is good because with the amount of trouble I got into, I don’t think my parents could have handled another kid.” Izaya chuckled at that.

“I can imagine. The stories of your youthful exploits do get around the office.” Akabayashi laughed.

“I’m sure they do. Probably only half of them are true. Kind of like you, Orihara-san. There’re  more than a few rumours floating around about you that seem unbelievable.”

“Oh? Like what?” Izaya asked, smirking slightly.

“Like apparently you used to get into street fights with that Heiwajima guy, the one so strong he can rip signposts out of the cement.”

“I did.” Izaya confirmed. “And he can.”

“You seriously want me to believe that you managed to get into a scrap with the strongest man in Ikebukuro and lived?”

“I don’t care if you believe it.” Izaya replied with a shrug. “He might be strong, but he’s not as fast as me. It’s hard to hurt him but not impossible. They key to fighting the Beast of Ikebukuro is to not get hit.” Akabayashi gave him a thoughtful look.

“What about the rumour that you’ve been running a gambling ring since high school?”

“Junior high, technically, though I suppose it didn’t really get profitable until high school.”

“There’s also a rumour that you worked at a host club in high school.”

“That one missed the mark. Why would I bother? It’s not like I need the money and there’s no challenge to it.”

“Then I’ll assume that the slightly less savoury version of that rumour where you were a prostitute is also untrue.” Izaya raised a brow and snorted.

“Sounds like someone’s jealous of my charm and good looks.” Izaya replied with amusement.

“Probably a lot of someones.” Akabayashi agreed. “I’m guessing you get a lot of heat for being so pretty.”

“I wouldn’t exactly call it heat. There are men in the family who don’t take me seriously because of it, yes. Of course, if you’re foolish enough to misjudge a person based solely on how the genetic wheel happened to spin, you’re not worth my time to begin with so I don’t pay them any attention.”

“Not much bothers you, does it?”

“Should I let other people’s worthless opinions bother me?” Izaya replied with a shrug.

“Heh. Fair enough. Though you were quick enough to defend your skills when I challenged you.”

“People do not make executive positions through brute force alone. I would rather work with people who understand and respect what I have to offer. If I need to spend a little time and effort showing you the value of what I can do, it’s better for both of us.”

“And if I still think you’re a worthless pretty boy?” Akabayashi asked with a grin.

“Then I suppose that makes you a useless brute.” Izaya replied with a smirk.

The girls returned and they abandoned their conversation in order to indulge their demands for such requirements as stuffed penguins and ice cream sundaes. Shortly afterward Yuuto came to pick the Orihara’s up and there was much complaining about having to go home, leading to promises that the girls could visit again. Izaya relaxed into his seat, thinking about the conversation with Akabayashi as the girls told Yuuto absolutely everything that they had seen at the aquarium.

Chapter Text

“Orihara-san are you sure about this?” Nakura questioned as Izaya read over the ledger the other had given him. “We could get kicked out of college for this.”

“You could have been kicked out of school when you tried to stab me.” Izaya observed, raising his eyes to glance at the other briefly before returning to the book. “I’m interested to see what Hiroto-kun has been working on but I’m hardly interested in testing it myself.”

“Yeah but if I get caught…”

“Don’t get caught.” Izaya cut him off before he could protest. “This isn’t up for negotiation Nakura.”

Shijima handed Nakura several small plastic bags with the tabs inside. “You have your alias set up so stop worrying so much. It’s not like you’re selling at this point anyway so the most you’d get caught for is possession and the amounts are small enough you could probably bribe the cops to look the other way.”

“With what money?” Izaya sighed in irritation.

“Did you gamble all your money away again?” He asked with a raised brow. “Really Nakura, you still haven’t learned your lesson in all these years. So weak-willed, caving to your vices.”

“This was your fault to begin with!” Nakura protested, once again blaming his gambling habits on the raven.

“Did I tell you to steal from your parents to continue gambling?” Izaya reminded him with a smirk. He picked up the envelope containing this week’s profits from Amphisbaena, his gambling ring, and took out several bills, handing them to Nakura. “Now go find some test subjects and make sure you pay attention to their reactions.”

Nakura grabbed the money and the drugs and scurried out of the lab. “I don’t know why you keep using him.” Shijima commented, turning back to his notes.

“He has his uses and he’s indebted to me. For one thing, he’s a great scapegoat.”

“Let’s just hope he doesn’t try to turn us in.”

“He won’t. He does that and he’s as good as turning himself in as well and the dirt I have on Nakura goes back years.”

 

~

 

“Hey Orihara, interested in tagging along on a collections job?” Aozaki looked over at the raven who was currently occupying himself with the latest edition of the Japanese Journal of Social Psychology. Several older issues of various psychology magazines remained on the coffee table beside an assortment of Japanese idol magazines and several business journals. It was probably the strangest mix of reading material for a yakuza office but certainly reflected its executives. Izaya tossed the magazine on the table and stood with a grin.

“Sure, why not? Better than sitting around here.”

“Hey, slow days are the best days.” Akabayashi defended, glancing up from the feature on Hijiribe Ruri he was reading.

“If you have nothing better to do, Akabayashi, you still need to submit your monthly report.” Kazamoto piped up from his desk where he appeared to be reading a novel.

“On that note…” Izaya said with a chuckle, looking at Aozaki. The blue devil grinned as they headed out of the office, happy to escape any sort of report writing. He rounded up a few of his men and they made their way to a small izakaya that served as a front for one of their gambling rings. They entered through the back entrance and up to the second floor where the gambling was hosted. A desperate looking salaryman was pleading with the Awakusu member who oversaw this location, a litany of hollow promises and excuses Izaya was familiar with.

“It's funny how people who find themselves in too deep always seem to react the same way.” He observed. “Always the same excuses, the same pleading that it isn't their fault. It's charming in a way, such predictable behavior.”

The man turned at Izaya's words, eyes casting around at Izaya, Aozaki, and Aozaki's men. His eyes widened desperately. “Who are you?” He asked of Izaya, clearly recognizing Aozaki as Awakusu but unable to place the raven.

“Just an observer.” Izaya replied with a smirk. “You seem like a fairly responsible man, Takahashi-san. Not usually the sort to renege on your debts.”

“I am! This wasn't me. I brought a friend with me and he's the one who placed the bets! Said he had a trick that would guarantee a win.”

“A trick that would guarantee a win at baccarat? And you believed him? How gullible if you. Unless you're admitting to attempting to cheat?”

The man grew nervous at that and Aozaki conveniently cracked his knuckles. “You know the Awakusu don't appreciate cheating. We run a proper business here.” He replied, eyeing Takahashi threateningly.

“I would never cheat!” Takahashi denied, a note of desperation in his voice. “It was my friend and he said it wasn't cheating.”

“Your friend who is notably absent. What a shame. I think you need to find better friends.” Izaya mocked. “Unfortunately the bet was made in your name and we can hardly overlook 1,000,000¥. We aren't a charity you know.”

“I don't have that much! My friend was-”

“Your friend is not here.” Takahashi was growing desperate, Izaya could clearly see it in the way he shifted his weight from foot to foot, the way he slid his gaze from Izaya to Aozaki and back nervously. The not very subtle way he slid a hand in his pocket. It was easy to predict what happened next.

Takahashi pulled a knife. Izaya drew his faster and before Takahashi could take more than a couple steps toward Izaya he found himself crying out and dropping the knife as a bright ribbon of red bloomed across the back of his hand. His eyes went wide as he stared at it and Aozaki barked out a laugh.

“Oh, so you're that kind of dangerous.” He commented as Izaya spun the knife in his hand. “Didja really think you'd be able to fight your way out of this?” He asked Takahashi, not really expecting an answer. “Ya coulda just paid your debt but now you've gone and made your situation worse.”

Izaya snickered and grabbed Takahashi by his wrist, yanking his bleeding hand forward to examine the cut. “Hmm, that sure was a lucky cut. Seems I missed your tendons.” He prodded the cut with a thumb, watching the blood well up around it. Takahashi yelped in pain, jerking his hand back. “Trying to attack a member of the Awakusu-kai would have been trouble enough but now you've gone and attacked one of the Orihara-kai. All over a mere 1,000,000¥. You know, the police might have looked the other way over a little illegal gambling but they take matters of assault much more seriously.”

“Or I can just take care of the problem the old fashioned way.” Aozaki added, cracking his knuckles again.

“I really don't have the money!” Takahashi cried as he dropped to his knees, bowing in submission.

“I suppose we'll need collateral then. You're not without resources. You own your condo, don't you? That should cover your debt.”

“My condo? You want me to give you my condo? But it's worth more than the debt!”

“I believe the value of your debt increased when you decided to try stab me. Wouldn't you say that's fair, Aozaki?”

“Of course. Consider it insurance on our investment. Also, the penalty fees incurred from cheating in our establishment and the administrative fees for having to deal with all the paperwork involved.” Aozaki was grinning at Izaya as he listed off the flimsy excuses.

“This is extortion!” Takahashi wailed is dismay, seeing no other option than to agree to Izaya's suggestion.

“Of course it is. But you brought it on yourself, didn't you?” Izaya replied with a cruel laugh.

Aozaki and Izaya left the man with the Awakusu agent, heading downstairs to the izakaya to sit at the bar and wait for the paperwork to change hands.

“How'd you know he had a condo?” Aozaki asked as the bartender poured them drinks.

“I didn't.” Izaya grinned. “I made a guess based on what kind of man he appeared to be.”

“Pretty quick with that knife, too. I'm impressed.” Izaya smirked at that.

“As you noted, I hardly look intimidating. Also I like knives, they’re easy to hide and can do a lot of damage with the right application.”

“Heh. True enough. I’ve seen it enough in my time. I prefer a good set of knuckle dusters myself.”

“Unsurprising.” Izaya replied with a grin. “I’d say that my knives would be less likely to draw the wrong attention but I can’t reasonably explain the need to carry a switchblade…” Aozaki snorted in amusement.

“Course if you lose your knife, you’re defenseless.” Aozaki continued and it was Izaya’s turn to snort.

“I can defend myself.” He replied with an amused grin.

“Hah. Hard to believe of a skinny kid like you. Kine mentioned you liked getting into street fights but you just don’t look like that kind of guy.”

“Did Kine mention that I really only got into street fights with one person?”

“Something about a classmate, yeah. So what, you had a grudge against the guy or something?”

“More like he had a grudge against me but I’d say I’ve grown to despise him equally.”

The Awakusu agent appeared with a manila envelope, handing it to Aozaki with a slight bow. Aozaki downed the last of his drink and got up, slapping Izaya on the back. Izaya did his best not to wince at the unexpected - and painful - show of affection.

“You’re a good kid. All sorts of clever and funny too. If you want to make the rounds with me and my boys, you’re more than welcome. Maybe teach you how to fight without your little toys.”

Izaya chuckled as he finished his own drink and stood as well. “Maybe learn a few things from me.” He countered and Aozaki laughed as they exited the izakaya.

As Izaya stepped out into the evening air, a sense of danger made him scan the area quickly, eyes darting about for potential threats. Once they found the reason, his lips curved into a savage grin. Leaning against the very building they’d just exited was the very focus of his high school fights. “Shizu-chan.” He dragged out the blonde’s nickname. “What an unfortunate surprise.”

“Izaya-kun. What are you doing here?” Shizuo growled, turning his gaze to the raven.

“Business. Which is none of yours.” Izaya replied coolly. “Were you waiting for me? How thoughtful of you but really, not necessary.”

“Business? What are you up to flea?” Shizuo demanded, pushing away from the wall to turn and face him. “Threatening innocent people now? I won’t let you go around ruining other people’s lives.” Izaya’s eyes narrowed in irritation.

“Oh please. Did Shizu-chan join the police? Or are you just declaring yourself the protector of supposedly innocent citizens?” Shizuo growled and his hand snaked out to wrap around a nearby street sign.

Orihara-” Aozaki began but stopped talking, eyes fixed on the sight of Shizuo pulling the sign out of the ground to the sound of groaning metal.

“It would be a blessing to everyone if I wiped your existence off the planet.” Shizuo growled as he swung the sign at the raven. Izaya jumped back, giving Aozaki a quick shove as the sign whistled past them. Then he was darting in under Shizuo’s arms, dragging his blade across the blonde’s ribs without hesitation as he continued past him, forcing the blonde to turn away from the Awakusu to face him. Aozaki watched as Shizuo charged Izaya, still swinging the sign and the raven dodged each swing, moving in to strike at the blonde with his switchblade. Shizuo didn’t even bother trying to dodge Izaya’s slashes and, to Aozaki’s surprise, despite his best attempts, Izaya’s cuts seemed to barely do any damage while Shizuo’s monstrous strength was doing some serious remodeling of the area. Watching the two of them, he began to understand just what Kine had been trying to convey when he spoke about Izaya’s fighting skills.

Shizuo had Izaya’s full attention because to give him less was potentially fatal but he didn’t actually want to be fighting the blonde at the moment. Not that he didn’t enjoy their little brawls but he hadn’t been planning for it and fighting with the Awakusu as an audience was a bit concerning because Shizuo was synonymous with collateral damage. “While I appreciate how dedicated Shizu-chan is to stalking me, I really do have things to do so if we could wrap this up, that would be great.” Izaya taunted the blonde as he made his way up onto the roof of someone’s car.

“Stay still so I can kill you, flea.” Shizuo growled, bringing the sign down onto the car. Izaya jumped and, not unlike a cat, managed to land precariously on the signpole, scampering up it even as Shizuo began to lift it. He then launched himself up into a wall run along the business behind them, ending with swinging himself onto a fire escape.

“That sounds counterproductive to my life goals so I’ll have to decline.” He called from his perch before continuing the climb upward. Shizuo growled and gave chase while the Awakusu watched, Aozaki giving a whistle of appreciation at the sight.

 

~

 

“So you know how we all thought Kine was over-exaggerating when he talked about Orihara’s high school fights?” Aozaki said as he walked into Shiki’s office, dropping the paperwork on the other’s desk. Shiki glanced up from the ledger book he’d been flipping through to glance at Aozaki.

“Well a high school kid who can bend steel is rather unbelievable.” Shiki replied. Aozaki held up his phone, showing a picture of the car and the street sign, along with Izaya and Shizuo. It was blurry but the scene spoke for itself.

“What happened?” Shiki asked as he examined the image.

“Not sure. That blonde guy was waiting outside the izakaya for Orihara as far as I could tell from their conversation. Then he up and attacked the kid, and Orihara didn’t even flinch, just went at him all knives and jumping around.”

“Jumping around?”

“Yeah, that french thing where you run up walls and shit.”

“Parkour?” Shiki raised a brow.

“Sure. Anyway, Orihara scampered up the side of the building -”

“Scampered?” Not a word he would have thought he’d here Aozaki use. Certainly not when describing Izaya.

“Yeah, like a fucking cat, all casual and then that other guy gave chase.”

“Up the building?”

“Up the building.”

“Where is Orihara now?”

“No idea. I wasn’t about to go climbing buildings to try to follow them. Kid seemed to have things under control-”

“Heiwajima ripped a sign out of the ground and crushed a car with it. I’m not sure ‘under control’ fits the description of this situation in any way.”

“Yeah but he wasn’t able to hit Orihara at all. The kid is fast. Course the blonde seemed to shrug off all Orihara’s hits like it was nothing.”

Shiki sighed and closed the ledger book he’d been reading. “I’m going to go check on him.”

 

~

 

The beast had been irritatingly persistent. He’d even managed to land a glancing blow on the raven - which was good because a full swing would probably have broken his ribs. He’d eventually managed to lose the blonde and make his way back to his apartment where he was examining the angry bruise that was forming across the left side of his ribs when Shiki buzzed. He was seriously considering not letting the executive in until Shiki held up his Amphisbaena ledger to the camera.

“Fuck.” He’d left it along with his textbooks at the Awakusu office. He let the executive in, pulling his dress shirt back on and buttoning it up to hide the bruise before moving to the door, opening it then moving away to let Shiki in. “I could have picked those up tomorrow.” He commented to Shiki as he entered, handing Izaya his satchel of textbooks.

“I was coming to see you anyway.” Was Shiki’s response, still holding the ledger, eyes taking in Izaya as if searching for the very thing Izaya had hidden with his shirt. “Aozaki returned without you.” He didn’t elaborate, didn’t bother telling Izaya what Aozaki had told him. He didn’t need to, from the way Izaya’s gaze slid away from him.

“My apologies for the inconvenience.” Izaya replied without an ounce of sincerity. “Something came up.” He moved away from the door to drop his textbooks on his desk.

“Is that so?” Shiki replied, following him into the apartment. “Is this going to be a problem?” The question was loaded with subtext, most of which Izaya didn’t want to address at the moment. All he wanted was a hot bath and some alone time with his laptop to figure out why Shizuo had been at the izakaya. It had been too convenient to be coincidence for his mind to accept. Especially considering that Izaya hadn’t had contact with the beast since high school.

“Of course not, Shiki-san.” Izaya fixed Shiki with a reassuring smile that did not, in any way, answer Shiki’s unspoken concerns. Shiki considered his next words carefully. Izaya was avoiding the topic which he didn’t usually do. Anytime the rumours of his rivalry came up he would just smirk and matter-of-factly acknowledge them.

“Tell me about him.” Izaya turned to look at Shiki, raising a brow.

“He’s tall, he’s blonde, and he’s angry.” Shiki gave him a flat look.

“He’s a potential threat.”

“In theory I’d agree but Heiwajima Shizuo is more of a ‘don’t wake a sleeping dragon’ sort of situation.” Izaya replied, moving toward his files. He trailed his hands over the folders until he found the one he was looking for and pulled it out. He held the file out to Shiki but before the executive could take it he pulled it back and pointed to his ledger. Shiki gave him a slight smile and handed over the ledger in trade for the file. It was very detailed and would take him some time to process.

“There are medical notes in here.” He observed as he flipped through the pages.

“Yes, detailing Shizu-chan’s condition. Or at least his doctor’s best understanding of it. The man is truly a monster yet despite a serious temper problem and inhuman strength he claims to hate violence. It’s hilarious. He doesn’t go looking for fights but if someone starts one with him he’ll end it. He has a hair trigger.”

“So what happened?” Shiki prodded and Izaya sighed.

“It’s not important.”

“I disagree.”

“You’re welcome to disagree.”

“Your rivalry has the potential to put my people at risk.”

“I didn’t go looking for a fight.” Izaya replied defensively.

“All the more reason for me to understand what I’m faced with. If Heiwajima is actively targeting you while you’re working with me, I need to understand why.”

“I haven’t seen him in over a year. I don’t know why he was there or why he would be seeking me out now. He should be happy that I’m out of his life, if his claims in high school had any truth to them.” Shiki recognized with Izaya’s words why the raven didn’t want to talk about it. Izaya was at a loss, lacking his usual information and control over the situation. He found it amusing and relatable.

“Well then, I assume you’ll be working to find out why. Let me know when you do.” Izaya raised a brow at Shiki’s response, a small smirk forming on his lips. “Were you injured?” Shiki’s follow up question was not expected or wanted.

“Please. What do you take me for?” Izaya replied flippantly but Shiki just raised a brow.

“Obviously not bad enough that you need immediate care but you’re moving stiffly.” Shiki said with amusement in his voice.

“Nothing that you need to be concerned with at all, Shiki-san.” Izaya replied, eyes narrowing a bit.

“I’m not sure I trust your judgement, Orihara-san.” Shiki replied without blinking. “I’d rather not have to explain to your family how you ended up injured in my care.”

“I doubt they’d even notice.” Izaya rebutted. “They certainly never did back in high school.”

“Then why didn’t you go home?”

“The apartment was closer.”

“Show me.”

“Show you what, Shiki-san?” Izaya’s smirk returned and Shiki sighed.

“Stop being a brat.” Izaya blinked at this response, smirk widening into a grin.

“Brat is it?” Izaya’s hands busied themselves with unbuttoning his shirt as he took a step closer to Shiki. He was probably pushing it, he thought briefly, as he let the shirt fall open, revealing the pattern of reds, blues and purples along his ribs. Shiki arched a brow at Izaya’s display, his eyes following the trail of Izaya’s hands until the bruise was revealed.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t trust your judgement.” He observed. “With bruising like that you probably have a cracked rib or two.” He reached out and caught the edge of Izaya’s shirt, pushing it back so that he could see the whole of it, briefly distracted by the fact that he could see the outline of Izaya’s ribs pressing against pale flesh. “You should go get it x-rayed, just to be sure.” He let go of the cloth, raising his gaze from the bruise to meet the very guarded gaze of the raven.

“I’ve taken worse.” Izaya replied dismissively, turning away as he buttoned his shirt back up.

“Is that so?” Shiki replied in the face of Izaya’s stubbornness. “Then I expect you to come by the office tomorrow. I want to discuss that ledger with you.” Izaya cast his gaze over his shoulder with a raised brow.

“Going through other people's’ belongings Shiki-san? How rude.”

“You left it on my desk.

“Oh did I? I was sure I’d put it away in my bag.” Shiki actually rolled his eyes at this and the fact that he’d gotten a reaction out of Shiki made Izaya grin. “I’ll come by in the afternoon.” Shiki gave him a nod before turning to the door, keeping Heiwajima’s file.

“I’ll return this tomorrow then.” He replied as he slipped on his shoes. “Get an x-ray.” He repeated as he let himself out.

Izaya sighed, slumping slightly as the door clicked shut softly behind Shiki. The dull ache in his side that turned into sharp daggers when he breathed hinted that Shiki was probably right about his ribs but damned if he was going to admit it in front of the man. Though why he’d come all the way here just to check on him was a mystery to Izaya. He could have waited until Izaya came into the office to ask him about Shizu-chan, or sent him an email on the topic. There had been no need for him to come in person.

Chapter Text

Izaya didn’t get an x-ray but he did stop by Shinra’s before class to have his friend confirm that he had two cracked ribs. He only attended his morning classes - ‘attended’ meaning sat in the back of the class and appeared to be taking notes on his laptop when he was really looking into his adversary. He hadn’t really kept track of Shizuo after high school, having grown somewhat bored with how predictable their relationship had become. He knew the blonde hadn’t applied to college and had worked a variety of jobs he couldn’t keep because he would inevitably lose his temper but beyond that, he’d been more focused on college and his own business.

Most of his sources for street information couldn’t tell him much about the blonde because smart people just stayed away from him but there were always rumours and the rumours whispered that Ikebukuro’s Strong Man had been recruited by someone gang-related. From there, though, Izaya couldn’t find any identifiers as to who or why. It was safe to assume that the why involved Shizuo’s strength but who could have succeeded in convincing Shizuo to use his strength, especially for potentially criminal purposes?

-Planning to rekindle the flame of hatred?-

The message that popped up on his screen made him frown slightly.

-Hello Tsukumoya. How is the writing going? I hear you have a new book being released.-

-Yes, end of the month. Do you want to know who put a leash on your favorite beast?-

-I’m somewhat curious to know why he’s targeting me.-

-Have fun-

The chat window disappeared, replaced by a cascade of image files opening to reveal Shizuo meeting with a man Izaya didn’t recognize several times over the course of what appeared to be a month according to the timestamps. He cross referenced the image of the man and got an identity on him from a contact he had in the police.

Jiao Lan Fei, a known executive of the Tien Tao Meng, a Chinese Triad that the Orihara’s had run into often in their smuggling business. Izaya had known that they had been trying to move into Japan and now he had the beginnings of proof. Not only that, he had a direct tie between Shizuo and Jiao Lan that gave the blonde motive for coming after him - beyond his irrational hatred of course. The question that remained unanswered was why Shizuo would work for a criminal organization. Unless the blonde was desperate? He hadn’t had a steady job in some time so Izaya supposed it might just be a matter of money. Either way, it appeared that the triad intended to target his family as their smuggling routes were in direct competition. He needed to speak with his father.

 

~

 

“You were unable to catch the Orihara heir?” Jiao Lan’s Japanese was almost as good as a native speaker’s. Shizuo took a long drag of his smoke before answering.

“No, he got away like the snake he is.”

“Unfortunate but I’m sure other opportunities will present themselves. In the meantime, I have another job for you.” Shizuo looked at the man with a frown but took the envelope he was holding out.

“Another person that needs a little encouragement to join your organization?”

“No, a small gang that needs to be disbanded. They’ve been mugging people and causing all sorts of trouble.” Shizuo’s frown eased a bit at that.

“Right. I’ll deal with it.”

“Of course. I have faith that you will.”

 

~

 

“This is nothing but a theory based on coincidence.” Shirou said as he flipped through the photos. “Fei’s presence in Tokyo does not mean the triad is targeting us and your high school rival’s attack on you last night is not proof considering your relationship.”

“We haven’t fought since high school. It made no sense for him to come looking for me last night.” Izaya protested, frustration creeping into his voice. “I told you they were trying to move into Tokyo months ago and now Fei is here, recruiting a potentially powerful ally-”

“You don’t actually know if this Heiwajima was recruited and it is possible that he spotted you in the izakaya as he was passing by.”

“Why won’t you take me seriously?” Izaya snapped, standing up. “We are in direct competition with them and now they’re making moves in our home, right under our noses but you don’t want to act.”

“We cannot afford to start a war with a foreign agent without proof Izaya.”

“And you refuse to let me get you the proof you need.” Izaya retorted sourly.

“It’s simply too much of a risk for a small family like ours.”

“We have allies now.”

“The Awakusu? We cannot ask them to get involved in something like this.”

“Why not? If the triads are moving into Ikebukuro they will be affected too. The whole point of allying with them was for us to gain some measure of protection against larger organizations.”

“Which we cannot call on lightly. If we ask for too much we may lose the alliance.”

“If we cannot seek aid from our allies how is it any different than if we’d been subsumed by the Daigo-kai?”

“We still have our business and our name.”

“That will mean nothing if the triad manages to steal our business out from under us!”

“You’re too impulsive, Izaya. There is much you don’t understand yet. We simply cannot seek out confrontation. You’ll understand as you get older.” Izaya’s eyes narrowed at this and he pushed himself out of his seat.

“You say I don’t understand yet you refuse to include me in the business. You want me to be your successor yet you won’t let me take part in any of the decision making. Will I finally be ready when I’m forty?” He didn’t wait for a response, turning and storming out of his father’s office, lips curled into an angry sneer.

“Izaya-” His mother attempted as he stalked past her but he didn’t stop and by the time she had finished the conversation she’d been having he had escaped the building altogether, throwing himself into the backseat of the sedan with the full effect of a sulking teenager. Yuuto glanced at him in the rear view mirror, raising a brow.

“Take me to the Awakusu office.” Was all Izaya replied and Yuuto did as requested, silence his defense against Izaya’s angry aura. The silent drive over gave Izaya enough time to reign in his emotions and apply a cool mask over them before facing the Awakusu. He would protect his family even if his father didn’t see the threat or value his opinion. He made his way straight to Shiki’s office, pausing only briefly to greet the others as he passed.

Shiki was nursing a cup of coffee and reading the paper when Izaya entered, glancing up at the raven. “You didn’t need to skip classes.” He observed, noting that it was much earlier than Izaya usually arrived.

“If I chose not to attend anymore classes and just showed up for the exams, I’d still pass with honours.” Izaya replied with no small amount of ego creeping through. He pulled a second copy of the file he’d compiled that morning out of his bag and handed it to Shiki.

The executive raised a brow as he took the folder and opened it, scanning the contents briefly before looking back at the raven.”Did you sleep?” Izaya blinked, brow furrowing slightly in confusion at the question. “You put this together sometime between last night and now. I’m wondering if you slept at all because the amount of information would indicate otherwise.”

Izaya chuckled at that. “Don’t worry Shiki-san, I’m as well rested as two cracked ribs could allow. Some of the information I had previous to last night and simply had to compile into the complete report.” Shiki responded with a snort as he waved Izaya to a seat. Izaya lounged sideways in one of Shiki's chairs, waiting patiently for the executive to read through the file. If he'd had more time he could have put more into it and even now he was regretting the incomplete parts but he'd felt it had been important enough to present to his father immediately. Izaya wouldn't admit it but he was hoping Shiki would see what he was seeing.

Shiki, for his part, gave the report his complete attention and though he noticed the gaps in Izaya's information, he could also see the pattern Izaya was tracking. Even incomplete, Izaya's work was thorough and methodical. He'd noticed it in the Heiwajima file as well. He'd expected the file to be colored by Izaya's personal feelings toward Shizuo but the file had been absent any indicators of emotional bias. This file was the same. The observations he made on Shizuo's potential involvement were based only on relevant evidence and potential motivation. He went through the file a second time before addressing Izaya.

“It's incomplete.” He observed just to watch the raven bristle, which he did, eyes narrowing slightly and shoulders tensing.

“I had a test this morning that interrupted my research.” Izaya responded cheekily.

“Hm. This report brings some concerns to the table. I was aware of the Tien Tao Meng but the small foothold they've made here has not been enough to move against them. Sending someone as important in their hierarchy as Fei is concerning because that shows intent and if your theory is correct, recruiting someone like Heiwajima is very problematic.” Izaya's eyes lit up eagerly at Shiki's understanding.

“It begs the question who else has he been recruiting?” Izaya added.

“Did you bring this to Shirou?” Shiki asked and Izaya gave Shiki a cool smile.

“Of course I did. But Shiki-san did ask that I let you know what I found out.”

“If they are targeting the Orihara-kai the Awakusu-Kai have reason to get involved.” He left it there, knowing that Izaya already understood that if the Orihara-kai didn't bring this to the Awakusu, then Mikiya probably wouldn't act on it. Izaya sat up and leaned forward, meeting Shiki's gaze.

“I'm more interested in making this problem go away before it gets any bigger.”

“What do you propose?”

“I find his foot holds and you remove them.”

“Including Heiwajima?”

“If necessary though he appears to be more of a pawn in this than an active agent.”

“Bring me the information and if it proves useful, I'll act on it.” Izaya's lips curved up in a pleased smirk. “But don't think I don't know what you're doing, Orihara.” Shiki added as he closed the file. Izaya's smile turned coy.

“I'm just protecting my family Shiki-san.” He replied, leaning back again.

“Hm. That reminds me, I was curious about something. You don't have any irezumi yet.”

Izaya smirked. “Caught that while you were playing doctor last night?” There were moments when Shiki genuinely wondered if Izaya was capable of having a conversation where he didn't throw innuendo of some sort at him. Which led him to wonder why Izaya did it. Sorting through the raven's motivations was too much like trying to untangle a gordian knot.

“I thought it odd considering that even your mother did it.”

“A commentary on how traditional my family is?”

“A curiosity. Many yakuza are choosing not to do it now.”

“Nothing so calculated on my part. Simply a combination of circumstances. The artist my family used retired before I finished high school. Then my father thought it might be better if I waited until after college. If he's found a new artist he hasn't told me.” He shrugged. “I suppose I could find an artist on my own but it hasn't exactly been a high priority concern. I do plan to do it though.”

“I could introduce you to someone but he works in Yokohama.”

“That's only an hour away.” Izaya considered. “But I wouldn't want to inconvenience you.”

“I would hardly call helping you take part in one of the oldest traditions of the yakuza an inconvenience.” Shiki replied with amusement. “I’ll make the arrangements.”

Chapter Text

“Akabayashi, give me your phone.” Izaya flopped down on the couch beside him, holding out his hand expectantly. Akabayashi raised a brow.

“Why?”

“Because I set up a group chat for everyone. I already set it up for Aozaki and Kazamoto.”

“Why? We can just email or call each other.”

“This is easier, faster communication when everyone needs to know something.” Izaya pointed out. “It's also more secure than whatever default programs you have on your phone.” Akabayashi gave him a suspicious look.

“We have a guy who does all our tech stuff.”

“Your guy sucks. I could get into your phone without much effort.”

“If you mess up my phone Orihara…” He handed his phone over reluctantly. Izaya gave Akabayashi a disarming grin as he took the phone, downloading and setting up the program he'd designed. He used it for his business with Nakura and Shijima as well since it used a variation of pgp encryption that was extremely difficult to break. He also set up Akabayashi’s nickname for him before handing the phone back and making a swift exit.

“Orihara!” Akabayashi yelled just as Aozaki looked up from his phone, laughing.

“Akabaka? Bwahahaha!”

“No.” Shiki didn't even look up when Izaya entered his office.

“You don't even know what I was going to say.” Izaya accused.

“Yes I do and the answer is still no.”

“But it's useful.”

“You're not getting my phone, Orihara.” Izaya's lips curved into a challenging smile.

“Is that so?” Shiki looked up at the challenging tone, raising a brow.

“That wasn't a challenge.”

“Of course not.”

It took several days.

His first attempt at straight up pickpocketing the phone ended with Shiki grabbing his wrist and pinning him to a nearby wall.

The second attempt he managed to get his hand in Shiki's pocket only to get an elbow in the gut which was less than pleasant given his cracked ribs.

The third time he attempted distraction by asking Shiki for clarification on some paperwork, which led to him managing to get his hand on Shiki's phone but also resulted in Shiki managing to press him to the desk and reclaim it. Izaya wasn't entirely sure that round was a complete loss.

“Your obsession with putting your hands in my pants is highly unprofessional, Orihara.” Shiki observed of the pinned raven. “You may want to find a new hobby.”

“But this one is so entertaining.” Izaya retorted with a grin.

“Keep this up and I will not be held responsible for what I may do.” Shiki warned, letting the raven go. Izaya’s grin widened slightly as he retreated.

By this point Akabayashi and Aozaki had actually set up a betting pool on it which only made Izaya more determined to succeed. His fourth attempt involved doing exactly what he had told Akabayashi he could do. He hacked Shiki’s phone and remotely opened several apps that were heavy on the battery use, forcing Shiki to have to charge his phone. Once the phone was plugged in Izaya used one of his contacts to cause a disturbance at the front, causing Sachiko, the young woman who worked in the art gallery, to come for Shiki. Once away from his desk, Izaya swept in and snatched the phone, installing the app and taking several selfies, one of which he sent to the group chat as proof of his success. He then swiftly retreated and waited for Shiki to figure it out which didn’t take long at all.

“Orihara, you appear to be completely incapable of heeding any kind of warning.” Shiki stated as he gazed at the raven from the doorway of his office. “Aozaki, I’m deeply disappointed that you bet against me.” He continued. “And Akabayashi what did I say about betting pools in the office?”

“Sorry, boss, but the kid’s clever.” Aozaki replied with a shrug and a grin.

“Can’t say as I remember you saying anything about it.” Akabayashi followed, also grinning.

Izaya just smirked from behind the screen of his laptop causing Shiki to narrow his eyes. “Drinks are on Orihara tonight since he’ll be celebrating his victory.” Izaya’s smirk faltered briefly at the thought, having seen how much the Awakusu executives could drink.

“Extorting a poor college student out of vengeance, Shiki-san? How petty!” Izaya retorted.

“If you’d prefer, I’m sure I could come up with a different punishment.” Shiki responded. “Something more appropriate to a sneaky thief?” The undercurrent of promise in Shiki’s voice gave Izaya a shiver of excitement that almost made him want to take him up on it just to see what Shiki would do.

“Fine, drinks on me.” Izaya yielded. “Try not to empty my bank account with your excessive indulgence.”

“As if you’re actually worried about money, heir apparent.” Akabayashi replied with a laugh.

“Well, it was a good try kid, but I guess you still lost in the end.” Aozaki consoled the raven, still grinning.

“I don’t know about that.” Izaya replied. “I still think I won.”

 

~

 

Izaya stared at the bill, impressed at just how much the four executives had managed to run up in the course of a few hours. Aozaki and Akabayashi were currently having a fascinating - and drunk - argument over which of Hijiribe Ruri’s stage outfits was the best. Kazamoto was helpfully adding fuel to the argument by pulling up different pictures on his phone. Shiki was lighting a smoke and watching Izaya with amusement.

“Still think you won?” He asked the raven. Izaya chuckled and nodded.

“I’d say this was worth it.”

“Just to prove to me that you’re clever?”

“And determined. And that you shouldn’t underestimate me.”

“None of which I required you to prove.” Shiki observed, noting that the raven appeared to actually be a bit drunk this time. “If it’s my attention you’re seeking, there are better ways to do it.”

Izaya blinked in surprise at that, turning to look at Shiki, head tilted to the side in curiosity. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.” He replied coyly.

“I’m sure you do. If you want something Orihara, sometimes simply asking works best.”

“Oh? In that case, I’d be deeply appreciative if Shiki would pay the bill.” Izaya sassed with a smirk though behind it his mind was mulling over Shiki’s words, calculating and recalculating the weight of them against his perceived risks. Shiki arched a brow at his response.

“That is not something that any amount of asking is going to get you out of.” Izaya gave a dramatic sigh as he pulled out his credit card.

“Such a cruel boss when I was just trying to help.” He moaned though he couldn’t keep his lips from twitching into a smile.

“Speaking of helping, I was going to mention this earlier but someone distracted me. I was able to set up an appointment with the artist for this weekend if that works for you. He wants to talk to you about the design and plan it out before he does any work.”

Izaya’s eyes lit up at this and he nodded. “That’s fine, I appreciate that he’s willing to see me with short notice and on the weekend.”

“Good. I’ll pick you up Saturday morning.”

“Ohhh Shiki-san is driving? I feel even more honoured.”

 

~

 

It amused Izaya to learn that Shiki was not a morning person. Neither was he, but the sheer aura of death that surrounded the man as Izaya slid into the passenger seat was impressive. “Might I suggest Starbucks?” Izaya said as he fastened his seatbelt.

“Yes.” Was Shiki’s response as he pulled away from the curb and in the direction of the closest coffee shop. One large black coffee and about twenty minutes later Shiki was willing to talk, starting by bringing up Izaya’s ledger which they hadn’t gotten around to discussing.

“I noticed a pattern in your ledger with the way you mark certain betters. I cross-referenced those names. You have a very interesting set of clients in your gambling ring. The sons and daughters of prominent businessmen and politicians.” Izaya couldn’t help but to grin at Shiki’s observation, delighted that the executive had been able to once again understand his methods. “What’s your intention? Are you using them for information or is this a blackmail scheme?”

“Well it should go without saying that I’m using them for information but I view blackmail as a tool, not a profession. The potential is there but I’d rather not waste it because if I do, I lose the information. But I’m on good terms with them so asking for favours has generally worked well. For example, Kawashima is the one who actually hid Ando’s mother from the press for me. It was easy enough to convince him that Mayumi would be grateful for his assistance and that having a career politician as a contact would be very useful to the heir of Nishimura Publishing.”

“You’ve effectively created a very widespread web of contacts through nothing more than what appears to be a small time gambling ring. The amount of money actually changing hands in your ledgers is barely worth the attention of the police, though I’ve a suspicion you’re actually pulling more than you’re recording, so even if you were to catch the attention of the police you’d be able to easily bribe your way out of it. And you’ve been doing this since junior high.”

“People are easy to trap once you’ve learned their vices. For the most part they are inherently weak to their desires and will consistently make bad decisions in order to fulfill them. The yakuza have continued to exist for centuries in part because we are willing to peddle the things people desire that are either legally or socially taboo.”

“So you’re building a relationship of reliance with them, giving them easy access while hiding the long term price tag in order to obtain from them something they don’t even realize is of value. Insidious.”

"Absolutely. Insidious and very profitable when applied to the real business I’m running. It’s particularly amusing to me that when I fish for information from them, they have no idea that I’m turning around and selling it. Half the time they share things without prompting at all, thinking of it as just casual conversation.”

“One reference in your ledger eluded me because it was clearly a pseudonym. You either have a partner or a patsy helping you run this little ring.” Izaya’s lips curved up into a smirk.

“I’m impressed that you managed to ferret that out of the ledger. Though I suppose you have much more experience with running gambling rings than me.”

“Gambling rings that involve partners not patsies.” Shiki replied with an amused smile of his own. “The Awakusu aren’t in the business of turning on their own.”

“My partner is not family.” Izaya countered with a shrug. “Merely someone who found himself in debt to me.”

“Poor bastard.”

“That’s offensive. Unlike Shiki-san I don’t feel the need to resort to violence when collecting my debts.”

“No, your methods involve a great deal more anguish in the long term. I think your victims might prefer having an arm broken.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment coming from the sadist.” Shiki arched a brow at that.

“Sadist is it?” Izaya just smirked and shifted his gaze toward the window.

 

~

 

Horiyoshi III was fairly well known for his work on yakuza and once he'd met the man, he could understand why. Not only was he skilled but he was very good at getting an idea of a person's nature from first meeting and matching that to his art. For the Yakuza, the meaning of the irezumi was very important so this ability made him highly prized.

Horiyoshi seemed as honoured to be tattooing Izaya as the raven was impressed that Shiki had gotten him an appointment. He asked about Izaya's family, whether or not they had any specific themes, and his own preferences. Listening to them talk revealed that Izaya had actually put a lot of thought in it which amused Shiki. Horiyoshi sent them away for lunch so that he could sketch out his design before starting. Once they'd returned, Shiki had the pleasure of watching Izaya strip off his shirt a second time. His eyes lingered on the nearly healed bruise, faded to an ugly yellowish color.

“Enjoying the view?” Izaya quipped, noticing Shiki's gaze.

“Counting your ribs. Do you eat?” Shiki replied.

“This from the man who survives off coffee, nicotine, and the suffering of others.” Izaya replied with a snort as he settled on the table.

“This will take a few sessions, of course.” Horiyoshi said as he went through the steps of preparing his equipment. “I’d like to complete as much of the outline work for the upper back as possible today but please let me know if you need a break.”

The buzz of the needle coming to life signalled the start, the sharp pricks of the needle staining his pale skin with black lines. There was pain, of course, especially when the needle passed over the places where there was little flesh between skin and bone but for Izaya it was not unpleasant. Rather, the sting of the needle and the endorphin rush it caused had an altogether different and - for Izaya - unexpected effect on him. He closed his eyes and concentrated on his breathing, on keeping himself relaxed but it didn’t stop the flush of heat that coloured his cheeks.

Shiki had brought a book to read while Izaya was getting tattooed, knowing it would be at least a few hours but lost interest in the book when he caught the soft hitch of Izaya’s breath, the flush of his cheeks, the unmistakable markers of pleasure. Having been under the gun himself, he knew the fine balance between the irritating pain and the heady rush of the endorphins but Izaya’s reaction was a less common one and it confirmed a few things he’d been piecing together about the raven. Izaya was, without a doubt, a masochist and a thrill seeker and watching the raven working so very hard to control his reactions to the sensations flooding his body was very appealing. Also very problematic for the Awakusu executive given Izaya’s position, he couldn’t afford to be distracted by his growing attraction to the too-clever and too-ambitious heir. That didn’t stop him from enjoying the sight of the raven caught in the limbo of stinging pleasure without release, though.

Somewhere around four hours was where Horiyoshi stopped, happy with his initial work. Izaya wasn’t sure if he was relieved or disappointed. He opened his eyes to meet Shiki’s gaze and the almost predatory way the other was watching him made him shiver. There was something heavy behind that cool gaze, something Izaya couldn’t decipher but wanted to. Izaya sat up and pulled his shirt on over the bandage that covered most of his upper back and began to do up the buttons, trying very hard not to think very unhelpful thoughts about what it would be like to have that gaze on him while getting fucked. He was suddenly very glad he’d gone with loose fitting slacks for this trip and not his usual tight fitting jeans.

“How are you feeling?” Shiki asked and Izaya flushed, concentrating very hard on finishing the buttons so that he didn’t have to look at the other. Shiki noticed the flush and the avoidance of course, and smiled at the raven’s brief moment of awkward embarrassment.

“Fine.” He replied, turning to give a slight bow to Horiyoshi. “Thank you.”

“The work will have to heal before I can add any color but if you’re willing I can start on the lower back sooner.” The tattoo artist suggested and Izaya nodded.

“Is next weekend possible?”

“Yes, you can come for the afternoon again.” Izaya bowed again then made for the door, Shiki following behind him.

“I can drive you again.” Shiki offered with an amused expression. “I don’t think you’ll be in much shape to be driving yourself home after he’s done with your ass.” Izaya raised a brow at that but wasn’t going to argue the point. It did make him wonder if Shiki’s tattoos went down that far though.

“I’m touched by your concern for my ass, Shiki-san.” Izaya responded with a smirk.

“Someone has to be.” Izaya raised his brow at that, throwing a glance back at Shiki who was pulling out his smokes. “Should probably grab dinner here before we head back. Evening traffic is always hell, especially once we hit the outskirts of Tokyo.” Izaya leaned against the hood of Shiki’s car, watching the other light his cigarette and take a drag.

“We could stay here for the night and head back in the morning.” Izaya said with a veiled look. There was no valid reason for him to make the suggestion. It might have been the rush from earlier, perhaps the thought of that weighty gaze Shiki had fixed on him, or a combination that made him bold enough to suggest it. Shiki was danger but the more time he spent with the man, the more he wanted to ignore the risks.

Shiki’s eyes narrowed, focusing on the raven as he continued to smoke in silence. He finished the cigarette, putting it out in a nearby ashcan before closing the distance between them. “Are you asking for something, Orihara?” He asked, placing a hand on the roof of the car as he looked down at the raven.

“I do believe I am, Shiki. Someone recently pointed out that if I wanted his attention I should just ask for it.” Izaya replied with a smirk.

“And this is your way of asking for attention? An improvement over trying to shove your hands in my pockets, I suppose.”

“Don’t worry, your phone is safe this time.”

“Because that’s what I was worried about.”

“Oh? And what is Shiki worried about then?”

“The very many consequences that could follow, which I’m sure you’ve considered as well.”

“My curiosity is currently stronger than my concern over the risks.”

“Your curiosity seems to always be stronger than any concern you have over the risks. Your lack of self-preservation is astounding.”

“It’s not a lack of self-preservation if I know how to deal with the risks.”

“Oh, so it’s ego? Even more concerning.” Shiki mocked though he found it amusing. “That ego is going to get you in trouble.”

“I certainly hope so.” Izaya's eyes met Shiki's, bold and eager. Shiki stared back with weighty consideration.

“Get in the car, Orihara.” Shiki broke eye contact and moved toward the driver's side door. Izaya watched him with a slight frown before getting into the car. It wasn't an answer and he couldn't help but wonder what Shiki was thinking. The executive was silent as he pulled out of the parking lot and Izaya was reluctant to break the silence, fearing that his attempt was being rejected. So he turned his gaze out the window, paying attention to the direction which he very quickly realized was not north to Tokyo. His gaze shifted to Shiki briefly, a slow smile curving his lips in anticipation as Shiki headed southeast toward the port. It turned into a pout when Shiki pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant. Shiki gave him an amused look as he got out of the car.

The restaurant was quite nice and with the way Shiki knew the menu, he had obviously been here a few times. Shiki didn't say anymore about Izaya's suggestion and Izaya’s pride wouldn’t let him press for an answer but he spent the entire time wondering what Shiki would choose to do and it was driving him crazy.

Shiki, on the other hand, was content to enjoy both his meal and watching Izaya grow frustrated. It was particularly amusing to the executive, having watched Izaya use similar tactics on girls he was using, stringing them along. Not that he had any intention of stringing the raven along, of course, but clearly Izaya had a bit of a blind spot when it came to actual attraction and it was extremely satisfying to throw kinks in Izaya’s careful control.

Once dinner was done and they were back in the car, Shiki lit up a smoke and leaned back in the seat. “The part that escapes me is what you’d be getting out of this.”

Izaya was leaning forward, resting his head atop his arms on the dash. He turned his head to the side to fix his gaze on Shiki. “I wouldn’t think I’d need to explain the merits of sex to you.” Izaya replied bluntly with a sharp smile.

“I would think that if all you wanted was sex, Orihara, you would be picking a safer target. Someone you could manipulate and control. Someone whose silence you could guarantee.”

“Are you implying that I can’t guarantee your silence, Shiki-san? If we’re speaking in terms of discretion, you’d have as much to lose as me.”

“Not quite. I’m not the heir of a traditional family. Just an executive whose personal life is his own concern. Who I choose to sleep with is not under scrutiny. Sleeping with you puts me in a potentially difficult position politically but nowhere near as difficult as the position you might find yourself in if I were to out you. Which, from what I’ve observed of you, seems to be too high a risk for you to take for a little pleasure. You’re too calculating for that kind of impulse which brings us back to the original point.”

“I can’t imagine you’d have any reason to out me.” Izaya countered. “Our families are allied after all. What could you possibly gain from displacing me as heir? It wouldn’t destabilize my family at this point since, as I’m sure you’re aware, I have little actual influence in the business. You’re right, in theory I’m sure I could find and manipulate someone but I think we both know that silence is one of the hardest things to buy and I’m not interested in dealing with potential blackmail over a little pleasure. The very dangerous and intelligent executive of the Awakusu is actually less of a risk by that context. Besides which, I’m attracted to you .” He added bluntly.

“You’re attracted to danger.” Shiki observed, turning his gaze to meet Izaya’s. “You’re attracted to the idea of what I might be.”

“That may be true.” Izaya ceded, more than aware of how attraction worked. The psychology of attraction was one of the many things covered in his classes after all. “I’m certainly interested in finding out and where’s the harm if it doesn’t work out? I’m fairly certain that my interest is not in an idealized version of you, however.” The confidence in his tone made Shiki raise a brow.

“So very certain of that, are you?” He replied with a slight smile, taking one last drag of his cigarette before flicking the butt out the window. “Last chance to reconsider this very bad idea of yours.” He pulled out of the parking lot, heading in the direction of a hotel not too far from the restaurant that he’d stayed at a few times.

“Very good idea.” Izaya replied with a smirk as he leaned back. There was a brief stop at a convenience store then they were checking into the hotel. Izaya’s chest fluttered in anticipation as he stepped into the room, walking over to the window to look out at the port. Shiki draped his jacket over the back of a chair before joining Izaya, placing his hands on the other’s shoulders. Izaya’s eyes shifted from the distant port to the reflection of Shiki’s eyes, an eager smile curving his lips. He reached up and began to undo the buttons of his shirt as Shiki watched in the reflection of the glass, eyes following the pale strip of flesh that was revealed. Hands slid up to the collar of his shirt and pulled it down off his shoulders and letting it fall to the floor, taking care not to catch the bandages.

“I was surprised.” Shiki spoke with amusement as his fingers pressed lightly against the bandages, drawing a soft hitch in Izaya’s breathing. “Four hours is a long time, even for a masochist.” Izaya turned, fingers reaching for Shiki’s shirt, unbuttoning it impatiently. He ran his hands over Shiki’s chest as he pushed the shirt off his shoulders, eyes drawn to the patterns of scales and leaves that disappeared over his shoulders.

“I have a high pain tolerance.” He murmured, hands trailing over Shiki’s skin, fingertips tracing over old scars as they made their way down toward the line of Shiki’s slacks where they were stopped by the grip of Shiki’s hands on his wrists. His eyes flickered back up to Shiki’s face where that same unreadable yet weighty expression had returned.

“In a hurry, Orihara?” Shiki asked, stepping away from the window and pulling Izaya with him toward the bed. Izaya flushed at that, letting the other lead him. Shiki let his wrists go, hands moving to grip the raven’s hips instead as he leaned in to claim Izaya’s lips in a kiss. Izaya’s hands moved instinctively to press against Shiki’s chest, not expecting the forceful press of lips against his own. There was no softness to it, simply unyielding demand that Izaya couldn’t help but to yield to, his own lips parting eagerly beneath the onslaught. There was a heat to the kiss as their tongues tangled together but it was a slow build as Shiki took his time exploring. When they finally parted Izaya felt breathless, heart racing in his chest. Shiki’s hands slid to Izaya’s fly, making quick work of it before sliding fingers along the edges of Izaya’s boxers and pushing both off his hips. Izaya could feel the heavy drag of Shiki’s eyes over his body and flushed at the attention as the other gave him a light push back onto the bed. Izaya slid back toward the center, eyes fixated on Shiki as the other removed his own pants, answering Izaya’s earlier thoughts about his tattoo. His eyes traced over the lines that ran along the backs of Shiki’s thighs as he settled on the bed over the raven. “Now who’s enjoying the view?” Shiki said as he settled his hands on Izaya’s thighs, pushing them apart. Izaya let out a nervous breath as he spread his legs for Shiki, meeting the other’s gaze with a slight smirk.

“Enjoying it very much.” He replied, sliding hands over Shiki’s shoulders, fingers tracing the complicated lines lightly. “Though it’s much harder to count your ribs from this angle.” Shiki snorted and leaned in to claim another kiss from the raven as he slid a hand up along the inside of Izaya’s thigh to slide over Izaya’s cock in a slow caress. Izaya groaned at the touch, breath quickening at the feeling. Then Shiki’s hand was sliding lower and he couldn’t help but to tense nervously as those fingers slid down over his tight ring of muscles. Shiki drew back from the kiss to look at Izaya, taking in his reactions with a soft sigh.

“You haven’t done this before.” He observed causing Izaya to flush a bit.

“Not with another man, no.” Izaya admitted, earning a snort from Shiki who shifted briefly to grab the small bottle of lube off the night table.

“I’m not sure whether to be irritated or flattered.” He replied as he coated his fingers before returning his attention to Izaya’s body. He rubbed over the ring firmly before sliding a finger in, drawing soft pants from Izaya at the feeling. His fingers tightened on Shiki’s shoulders at the uncomfortable feeling, trying unsuccessfully to force his body to relax. Shiki continued to watch Izaya’s expressions as he worked first one, then two fingers inside the raven, his firm yet careful touch stretching and massaging the resistant muscles. As he moved in the raven, he searched for Izaya’s prostate, smirking in amusement when the soft brush of his fingers against that very sensitive spot elicited a surprised moan from Izaya.

“Fuck!” Izaya blurted out, eyes widening at the feeling, hips jerking slightly at the unexpected feeling. Shiki pressed a hand against Izaya’s hip to keep him still as he continued to massage that spot as he slid a third finger in. Izaya bit his lip, stifling the moans that wanted to escape his throat at the way Shiki was working him. Then Shiki was sliding his fingers out and settling between Izaya’s legs, one hand sliding up along Izaya’s side before drifting to press a thumb against his lips.

“No need to muffle that voice.” Shiki said as he slipped on a condom, stroked more lube over his cock and guided it in to press against Izaya’s entrance. “I want to hear you.” He pressed in slow at first, sliding past the resisting muscle as Izaya gasped at the feeling, squirming beneath the weight of Shiki’s hips pressed against him. Then he gave a quick thrust, burying himself in the raven who couldn’t stop the sharp cry that tumbled from his lips, nails digging into Shiki’s shoulders in reaction to the sudden intrusion that came with sharp pain as muscles resisted. It heightened his awareness of Shiki’s presence inside him, a weight that promised pleasure as the pain receded. Shiki waited as Izaya slowly relaxed around him, then began to move, starting with slow thrusts that had the raven groaning beneath him. He watched Izaya’s expressions as he fucked the raven, the way his features softened to the pleasure, lips parted as he panted and moaned, eyes unfocused yet still somehow fixated on Shiki’s own gaze. Reading the raven’s body was easy like this, honest and open in its desire in a way that Izaya never was and Shiki wondered briefly if Izaya realized how unguarded he’s become. He could feel the tension in Izaya’s body as the raven grew closer to his release and he began to move faster, sliding a hand over Izaya’s neglected cock, stroking it in time with the rhythm of his thrusts. It wasn’t long before Izaya was jerking up in Shiki’s hold, gasping as he came. Shiki continued thrusting through Izaya’s orgasm, groaning at the way his body tightened up around him, pulling his own release from him in a final deep thrust.

He lay still for a moment, looking down at the raven as they both caught their breath. Then, with some reluctance, he pulled out, lifting his weight off the raven to move off the bed and toward the bathroom. Izaya frowned slightly in confusion then gave the other a half smile when he returned with a damp washcloth which he used to gently clean Izaya up.

“A gentleman…” Izaya murmured teasingly, voice still husky from their coupling. Shiki didn’t bother rising to Izaya’s bait, sliding his fingers up to tweak Izaya’s nipple instead. “Or not.” Izaya replied, hand jerking up to protect the sensitive bud from further assault.

Shiki just snorted and returned the washcloth to the bathroom then climbed back into bed beside the raven, pulling the sheets up over them. Izaya fell asleep first, lulled into sleep by the soft afterglow of pleasure. Shiki watched the raven sleep, expression soft and unguarded in slumber, and wondered what the hell he had gotten himself into.

Chapter Text

Izaya woke to the smell of coffee and the sight of Shiki sitting shirtless at the small hotel table, drinking coffee and scrolling through his phone. Izaya watched silently, enjoying the chance to see Shiki unguarded, or at least as close to it as he supposed the executive ever got. He wondered what, if anything, would pull a truly emotional reaction from the seemingly cold-natured man. He might have been content watching Shiki if the persistent itch of his tattoo wasn’t driving him to distraction, pushing him to get out of bed.

Shiki raised his gaze from his phone as Izaya sat up, studying Izaya as the raven stretched and climbed out of bed. “Good morning, Orihara.” He said, putting down his phone. “How’s your back?”

“Itchy as hell.” Izaya replied with a huff of annoyance, running a hand through his hair. “Which is ten times worse than the pain of the needle.” Shiki snorted though he had similar feelings on the matter.

“Check the bathroom for lotion. That should ease the itchiness.” He suggested as Izaya moved toward the bathroom. Izaya disappeared into the small bathroom, followed by the sound of the shower. By the time Izaya returned, towel wrapped around his waist and bandages removed, Shiki had finished his coffee. Izaya tossed a small complimentary hotel bottle at him and he caught it with a raised brow. “Something you need?”

“Oh, I assumed you were offering.” Izaya replied with a smirk as he walked over to Shiki, running a hand through his still-damp hair. “You’re the more experienced one, after all.”

“Are we going to revisit the conversation about using your words?” Shiki replied in turn though he opened the bottle and waited for Izaya to turn around. Izaya just smiled and shrugged as he turned around. Shiki rubbed the lotion into Izaya’s back, tracing the newly inked lines with his thumbs, using just enough pressure to draw a soft hitched breath from Izaya at the dull sting his touch caused.

“Sadist.” Izaya retorted once Shiki was done.

“Does it itch?”

“No but something else is starting to.” Shiki’s eyes narrowed in amusement as he watched Izaya collect his clothing and dress. He pulled on his own shirt and jacket then resumed his seat, waiting for Izaya to enjoy a cup of coffee before they headed back to Ikebukuro.

 

~

 

“I have a location.” Izaya announced to Shiki as the other sat down across from him.

“Yes, that’s what you said in your text.” Shiki replied as he looked around the restaurant Izaya had chosen to meet at. While he had heard of the place - and more specifically it’s interesting owners - he’d never bothered to actually visit. It was as bizarre as its name implied it would be. “I was expecting you’d have a bit more than just a location though why you couldn’t just come to the office is beyond me.”

“Your office is full of eavesdropping lowlifes.” Izaya replied cheerily as he pulled a bright purple file folder out of his satchel. “Also, I deserve to be rewarded for my work.” Shiki took the folder, shaking his head slightly.

“That’s why I pay you, Orihara-san.” He replied as the black Russian named Simon approached to take their order. Shiki kept his order simple, asking for a mixed plate of hosomaki while Izaya ordered a plate of otoro sashimi. “What makes you think this is deserving of a reward above that?”

“Read the file.” Izaya said with a shrug though the smirk on his face was one of surety. Shiki didn’t doubt Izaya’s skill in the slightest but he was hardly going to feed the raven’s ego. He opened the file and began reading through the information. He was still reading when their food arrived and well after they were done.

“The part in all of this that I find the most baffling is your choice in stationary.” He finally spoke, closing the file. Izaya smirked and shrugged.

“Colors are useful indicators of connections. Makes for quicker access when I need to reference things.”

“Wouldn't naming the files be easier?” He observed but the raven shook his head.

“If I was storing files on individuals, or documents of a singular type that consistency might work but not every piece of information fits easily into a simplified format like that. Besides, if I used normal naming conventions that would make my filing system remarkably easy to decipher, wouldn't it?” He spoke as if this should be common logic yet Shiki was sure that no informant he’d ever used thought like Izaya did.

“Your logic is as terrifying as your color choices at times. Purple?”

“Are you asking me to reveal professional secrets, Shiki-san?” Izaya replied with amusement.

“Merely attempting to better understand the information I'm being relayed.”

“I’m sure you can figure it out on your own.” Izaya grinned at him. “So now that you have the information you need, are we going to move on them?”

“We?” Shiki arched a brow. “As I recall the agreement was you bring me the information and I act on it.”

“Well I’ve seen how the other executives do business but I’ve yet to get to see Shiki-san in action. I’m curious, are you as savage as your reputation says?”

“It wouldn’t be a reputation if I wasn’t. Your curiosity is not a good reason for including you in any action I choose to take against them.”

“Well it’s not as if you could actually stop me. I have the location and all the information. I could just stake out the place and wait for you to make your move.” Izaya replied with a challenging look.

“Your argument, then, is that you plan on showing up anyway?” Izaya gave a slight shrug, grinning. “And you have no concerns about your involvement causing difficulty with Shirou?”

“I have no intention of making my father aware of my involvement.” Shiki fixed him with a flat look.

“Do you intend to buy my silence on the issue?”

“Do you intend to tell Mikiya?” Izaya countered. “The point was to deal with this quietly without their involvement.”

“Yes but unlike you, I have the authority to take actions to protect the organization. Should Mikiya become aware, I won’t be facing the same consequences. Shirou specifically told you not to act.”

“I wouldn’t be acting. Just observing.”

“Splitting the hairs a little fine there.”

“Just playing the game.”

“Then you’ll understand when I say that I’m not bringing you in on this.” Izaya’s lips curved downward into a pout but the look in his eyes was calculating not disappointed.

In the end, Shiki paid for the meal.

 

~

 

It didn’t stop Izaya from finding out Shiki’s plans and Shiki didn’t expect it would but plausible deniability was important. The location was a small strip club that had recently opened up in Ikebukuro, featuring ‘exotic’ women. An assortment of foreign women, Russian, Korean, Chinese, even a couple of American girls. None of them in the country legally, all brought here by the Tien Tao Meng, according to Izaya's information - most likely against their will.

Neither Shiki or Izaya were particularly bothered by the fact that they were engaging in human trafficking. It sometimes fell under the very wide banner of ‘imports’ that the Oriharas dealt in and Shiki was the one responsible for handling such business in the Awakusu. It was that they were doing it blatantly, not bothering to hide their intention to move in on Awakusu territory that irritated Shiki. There was a proper way to go about these things and Jiao Lan Fei was completely side-stepping them, treating the Yakuza as if they didn't even merit his attention.

He'd brought a handful of his men, enough to be imposing but not quite appearing to be a direct threat. Orihara, based on the photos he kept texting Shiki, was already inside the club because discretion was not a word in the raven's vocabulary. Though, the pictures proves to be useful if you looked past the strippers to what Izaya was actually capturing. Entrances, obvious bouncers and less obvious syndicate members. Shiki knew exactly where all the threats were before he even stepped through the doors.

The syndicate members knew exactly who they were. They were greeted by the man in charge of the establishment and ushered into a private room immediately. Izaya somehow managed to slip in behind Shiki, earning a glance from the executive when the raven settled on the couch beside him.

“What brings you to our establishment?” The syndicate member asked in passable Japanese, settling on a couch across from Shiki, two men at his own back.

“We are here to discuss your operation, Chen-san. We understand that you're new to the area and that you don't entirely understand how things work here. This is Awakusu territory and your establishment did not obtain license from us to operate.”

“License?” Chen feigned ignorance. “We have all the proper licensing, Shiki-san.”

“If there's one thing I truly cannot stand,” Shiki confided to the syndicate agent. “It's disrespect. I understand the Tien Tao Meng have a long history in Hong Kong. I would think an organization like that would understand how business is done. I've been generous enough to take time out of my busy schedule to come here and rectify this misunderstanding face to face instead of simply burning your little club to the ground yet you insist on lying to my face.”

“With all due respect, Shiki-san, I really don't know what you're talking about. We are a legitimate business-” Shiki was out of his seat and across the small space that separated them, pressing a gun to Chen’s head before either of his men had a chance to react. Shiki's men didn't move from their position but hands slid into suit jackets.

“One last chance, Chen.” The man stared up at Shiki, lips pressed together in defiance. His men looked ready to kill but unwilling to risk their boss’s life. Shiki hauled the man to his feet, keeping the gun pressed tight against his temple.

Izaya hopped to his feet, eyes wide with excitement at the sudden violence. “Should have been a tiger instead of dragons…” He mused as he moved toward the door. The syndicate men moved toward him but froze at the soft click of a gun being cocked. Izaya smirked when Shiki's men drew their guns, training them on the thugs. “No need to escalate things, ne?” He said to the men. “Hands in the air and all that.” The men were stripped of their weapons, hands bound behind their backs, and lined up against a wall. Shiki motioned for his men to round up the rest of the syndicate members, three more Chinese men and a couple Japanese thugs Izaya recognized. “These two are part of a color gang…” He observed, crouching in front of the men.

“They chose the wrong employer.” Shiki observed. “I'm not feeling particularly lenient and I doubt they know anything useful.” Shiki was reaching inside his jacket as he spoke, pulling out a silencer and attaching it to the barrel of his gun. The syndicate men looked resigned to their fate but the hired thugs were definitely panicking.

“Hey, wait! We were just paid to work here as muscle!” One of them protested. “We’re not part of their operation! We’ll tell you what we know! We worked at their other club too, the one in Shinjuku! We’ll give you the address or get you in, whatever you need!” Izaya watched them with amusement, knowing they’d spill whatever they knew.

“Don’t you already have that location, Orihara-san?” Shiki asked as he walked toward the syndicate men and with a cold brutality that confirmed the rumours Izaya had heard about Shiki, executed each one of them with a bullet through the brain. Izaya shivered at the sight but couldn’t tear his gaze away, breath caught in his throat. He’d never actually seen someone killed before and the impassive way Shiki took their lives left him in awe. He finally dragged his gaze back to the two gangers, giving them a manic smile.

“I do.” He responded to Shiki. “Though I haven’t investigated it yet since it isn’t technically in our territory. It was next on my list. Unfortunately, Shiki-san, even if I thought their information might be useful, you’ve turned them into witnesses.”

“Unfortunate for them.” Shiki replied as he approached. Izaya backed away, not overly interested in a close up of their execution. He didn’t feel any particular remorse in watching them die but neither was he particularly interested in doing it himself. Two more bullets and Shiki was putting his gun away.

“What are you going to do with the girls?” Izaya asked as he nudged Chen’s body with his foot.

“The same thing the Chinese did with them; find some buyers. Five of them won’t be hard to place. Did you gather whatever information you needed from their office?”

“Yes, though there wasn’t much. This was just a small side business it seems. There was a bunch of fake paperwork on the girls and forged licenses for operating a strip club. Nothing that would lead back to the greater syndicate sadly but I pulled the harddrive from the computer and I’ll look into it later.”

“Good. If that’s everything, we can leave and let the boys burn the place down.” Shiki replied, moving toward the door and expecting Izaya to follow. “I was wondering how they didn’t recognize you in the club until I got a look at you. What is that?”

“Hm?” Izaya replied, following Shiki past the stripper stages and out into the cool night air. “What is what?”

“That coat.” Izaya blinked at Shiki as the man pulled out a smoke and lit it.

“My coat? Does Shiki-san not like my coat? I’m rather fond of it you know.” Izaya replied with a slight smirk. “I mean, it’s no custom tailored business suit but I’d hardly blend in wearing that, would I?”

“Hm. I’m not sure you blend in wearing that either.” Shiki pointed out. Izaya reached up and plucked the cigarette from Shiki’s fingers, pressing it to his lips to breath in the acrid smoke, wrinkling his nose at the taste. Shiki raised a brow as he reclaimed his smoke. “I told you not to come.”

“I told you that wouldn’t stop me. I was helpful.”

“If they’d figured out who you were, you might be dead.”

“But they didn’t and I’m not. I’m not going to sit the sidelines on this.”

“You feel you have something to prove but ending up dead or worse isn’t going to make your father see you the way you want him to.”

“Tch.” Izaya clicked his teeth in annoyance. “I’m not going to end up dead. Trust me, Shiki-san.”

“Give me a reason to.” Izaya tilted his head slightly, studying the Awakusu executive curiously for a moment before responding.

“Haven’t I? Didn’t I put my trust in you?” The words were layered with implication and Shiki raised a brow, taking the last drag off the cigarette before depositing it in a nearby ashcan.

“Not yet you haven’t.” He replied, settling Izaya with another unreadable look that made Izaya want to shiver under the weight of it.

 

~

 

“The entire place was burned to the ground. The report shows some sort of electrical problem cause the fire. The news reported minimal loss of life.”

Jiao Lan’s hand tightened around the glass he was holding, teeth clenching in anger. “Oh yes, only eight deaths.” He hissed. “Well played on their part. The cover up is flawless. I’m surprised they moved against us. The Orihara-kai has seemed content to ignore us rather than start a war.”

“I do not believe it was the Orihara-kai who took down that club, sir.”

“No, it was their allies. It seems the Awakusu aren’t as fangless as I’d thought. We will have to be more careful moving forward.”

“Of course, sir.”

 

~

 

Kyohei was napping in the passenger seat of the van as Erika and Walker chattered excitedly about this or that manga. They were waiting for their illustrious leader to show up and start the meeting but it seemed punctual was not Izumii’s style. Togusa gave him a nudge and he raised his cap off his eyes.

“Isn’t that Heiwajima? You went to school with him, right?”

“Ah, yeah, that’s him. I wonder what he’s doing here?” Kyohei opened his door and leaned out of the van. “Hey, Shizuo!” He called to the blonde, waving him over. Shizuo frowned but made his way to the van.

“Kyohei, what are you doing here? You’re not involved with that color gang are you?” Shizuo asked, glancing at Togusa and the two otaku, all sporting some patch of blue. “Oh… You are. Listen, you should probably quit. There’s probably not going to be much of a gang to be part of shortly.”

“What are you talking about, Shizuo?” Kyohei asked with a frown of confusion.

“I have to deal with that gang.” Shizuo replied, shoulders slumping slightly. “They’ve been causing problems, mugging people and stuff.”

“Yeah the new leader’s been making some bad decisions. That’s why we’re meeting today, to discuss the direction the gang’s going but why do you think you have to deal with them?”

“It’s complicated.” The blonde said with a shrug. “I hate complicated.” He added. “Just take your friends and go, Kyohei. I don’t want to have to hurt a friend.” Kyohei studied Shizuo silently for a moment then shrugged.

“Yeah, ok. Listen some of them are just kids. I understand wanting to deal with Izumii but could you leave the kids out of it?” Shizuo blinked at this then nodded.

“Yeah, I’m not interested in hurting kids.” He agreed before turning away from the van to head toward warehouse where other members of the gang were gathered.

“Togusa, drive.” Kyohei said as he shut the van door. “We don’t want to be around for this.”

Chapter Text

“It's all just a relative moral scale that you've attached your honor to. An arbitrary and out dated one at that. It's really quite fascinating, from an anthropological point of view.”

Shiki raised his head to look at the raven. “Should I feel attacked?”

“I suppose that would depend on how secure you are in your own morality. You don't strike me as someone who would let other people's opinions bother you.” Izaya replied with a smirk.

“That would be a correct assumption. But we're discussing honor and out dated ethics. If I were to follow through in a more traditional manner you'd be losing your life in a sword fight.”

“Only if you took my observation as a personal slight and not a philosophical examination of the Yakuza as organization. The surety with which you think you’d win does not escape me. I didn’t know Shiki-san knew how to use a sword.”

“Ah, so I'm merely an example upon which to base your theories. And there’s a lot you don’t know about me. Despite your best efforts to pry.”

“Well, yes but not you alone. It's just convenient that the Awakusu have a perfect example of how arbitrary the system of honour is within the Yakuza. You have no qualms about using violence to get what you want yet you are affronted by the fact that the triad didn't show respect to the organization and follow the also arbitrary and unwritten rules of engagement. Then there's Akabayashi who despises drugs and refuses to engage in that particular avenue of business yet will happily sell crabs of questionable origin to restaurants to be served to the general populace.”

“No cases of food poisoning have been directly linked to my crabs.” Akabayashi replied from his place on one of Shiki's couches.

“And Aozaki is more than willing to threaten people for money but also organized his men to bring supplies to whoever needed it when that earthquake hit last month.” Aozaki didn't bother to respond as he was currently engaged in a battle of wits with the printer. The printer was winning. Izaya shifted his gaze to look for Kazamoto but the master of interrogation was not present for once. “Anyway, the point is that the yakuza’s loose set of moral rules are so open ended they can hardly be called a system of ethics yet somehow have proven to be a better system than those that enforce stricter definitions of moral rightness, at least from a function of execution.”

“The Yakuza’s code of honor goes further back.” Shiki replied. “It's arguably rooted in the history of the samurai and their inevitable decline in the face of pacifist leaders and outside influence on our way of life.”

“Ah the defense that globalization has reduced the noble warrior to a glorified thug.” Izaya's eyes shifted back to Shiki. “Are you an imperialist Shiki-san?”

“Are there any actual imperialists left? Change or die, is that not the essence of survival? And can it not be equally applied to codes of honor as it is to biological evolution?”

“So the warrior culture changes in the face of pacifism and is labeled by greater society as villainous?”

“I wouldn't say villainous, exactly.” Akabayashi mused.

“Undesirable to those who wish to control society's moral direction.” Shiki added. “Yet still respected by the average person.”

“Some might say more than respected.” Izaya acknowledged. “The Yakuza lifestyle is idolized to some extent after all. Such is the fate of those who choose to bend to the will of society instead of setting their own moral compass.” Izaya mused.

“Is there a particular reason you're waxing philosophical?” Shiki asked. “Or is this a thing college students do?”

“Pretty sure most college students are too busy drinking and trying to get laid to care about the morality of working for the Yakuza.” Akabayashi observed with a grin.

“I sense an attempt at a shot but you've missed your mark if you think I'm bothered at all by the implication that I'm abnormal. Not all college students are engaged with the party culture and not all people feel a particular need to engage in vices.” Izaya replied with amusement.

“I would think you'd be trying to enjoy the freedom of your youth while you still can.” Akabayashi countered with a shrug.

“I think your ability to drink like a fish proves that positions of responsibility do not preclude giving into your vices.”

“Speaking of, don't you have work to do, Akabayashi?” Shiki observed. “Why are you here?”

“Air conditioning.”

“What?”

“The gallery has air conditioning.”

“The AC at the main office is down again.” Aozaki added, looking up from his ongoing staring match with the printer.

“Orihara, why are you here?” Akabayashi asked.

“Have you ever made the mistake of feeding a stray cat?” Shiki asked. “Then had the cat keep coming back expecting more?” Akabayashi barked a laugh at Shiki's comparison while Izaya looked affronted.

“And here I was going to say that I was so excited to learn more about this morally bankrupt business from senpai.” He retorted dramatically. “Only to learn that senpai views me as nothing more than an inconvenience…”

“What did you feed him, Shiki?” Akabayashi asked with a smirk.

“Attention, apparently.” Was Shiki's response, ignoring Akabayashi’s less than subtle implications. Izaya's response was to slide into Shiki's lap and wrap his arms around the executive's chest. Akabayashi arched a brow at this.

“Senpai notice me.” Izaya whined, pretty sure Shiki wouldn't know the internet meme he was referencing.

“The only thing I'm noticing.” Shiki replied as he promptly and firmly dislodged the raven. “Is that a certain spoiled heir has a death wish.”

 

~

 

Izaya was surprised to find his mother waiting for him when he got home, choosing the Orihara house rather than his apartment.

“Iza-nii! Mom made dinner!” Mairu yelled as she ran toward the door to greet him. Kururi followed behind with a quiet. “Curry.”

“Oh god. Well I suppose it’s hard to screw up curry…” He muttered as he slipped his shoes off and hung up his coat.

“I heard that.” Kyouko responded from the kitchen. “Just for that you’re doing the dishes.”

“Hahaha Iza-nii’s in trouble!” Mairu cackled. Izaya rolled his eyes and tugged on her braid mercilessly. “Owwwwwwwwww Iza-nii! So mean!”

“Jerk.” Kururi echoed, grabbing Izaya’s hand to free her sister.

“I assume Father isn’t attending?” He said as he released Mairu and headed toward the kitchen.

“No, he’s still at work.” Kyouko responded, handing Izaya plates to set the table with. About what he expected. Family dinners weren’t exactly a common occurrence in the Orihara household. It was surprising enough for his mother to make an appearance and attempt to cook for them. Izaya set the table while the twins were recruited to pour juice for everyone. His mother placed the pot of curry in the center of the table as they all took their seats, Izaya sniffing at it suspiciously. “Seriously, Izaya, I can follow instructions on a box.” His mother replied in exasperation.

“It’s unlike you to bother.” Izaya replied, leveling his mother with a suspicious look. “I thought you gave up and accepted that homemaking was not your calling years ago.” Kyouko’s eyes narrowed, matching Izaya’s look with one of amusement.

“I was going to order takeout but the girls insisted I cook.” She admitted. “So I chose something simple and they helped me with it. Surprisingly good cooks. They told me you taught them.” Izaya gave the twins an amused look and nodded.

“Iza-nii is a good cook when he bothers.” Mairu said with a grin.

“Otoro.” Kururi added vaguely.

“Iza-nii want to know what happened in school today?” Mairu continued and, without waiting for an actual confirmation from Izaya launched into every detail while they ate dinner, punctuated occasionally by single words from Kururi and questions from Kyouko. Once dinner was done and the girls had been sent off to do homework Kyouko turned her attention to Izaya.

“I read an interesting article in the paper. There was a fire not far from your apartment the other night. In the red light district.”

“Oh?” Izaya asked as he cleaned up the table, carrying the plates to the sink. “Was there much damage?”

“No, it seems the fire was contained to the original building. Some sort of wiring issue that caused the fire. All the patrons got out but some of the employees were trapped inside. You know what I find interesting? It was owned by a foreign company that operates out of Hong Kong.”

“That’s unfortunate. I suppose they’ll be more cautious about the sorts of buildings they lease for their business in the future.” Izaya replied without missing a beat. “Many of those buildings are quite old after all. Perhaps they’ll look at a different real estate agent, someone who knows the area better.” Kyouko snorted softly.

“Yes, I’m sure they’ll be more careful in the future. I heard you started your irezumi.” She continued, changing the subject. Izaya blinked at that, tossing a suspicious glance in his mother’s direction as he filled up the sink.

“Yuuto?”

“Yuuto. Though not intentionally. He was lounging around the house last weekend with the girls and they were asking where you were. He mentioned that you’d gone to Yokohama with Shiki. I figured out the rest.”

“Ah… Accidentally betrayed, how depressing.” Izaya joked as he washed the dishes. “Well there’s no point in putting it off, is there? Since it’s just the back so far it’s not like anyone will see it.”

“I’m curious to see what your artist has decided for you.” She says with a slight smile.

“Maybe when it’s done. He’s only outlined the upper back so far.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t do sleeves first. That tends to be how most start their work.”

“I didn’t really think about it. The artist decided where he prefered to start.”

“Well, I’m glad you decided to do it. Since there’s no pressing need for one, your father still hasn’t looked into a replacement artist. But Horiyoshi? I’m impressed. He’s quite famous for his work. Shiki must have beautiful tattoos.” Izaya raised a brow at that then shrugged. “How is Shiki?” She continued.

“Well and he passes on his regards as usual.”

“I’m sure he does. He’s unfailingly polite even when dealing with enemies I hear.”

“So far I’d say you’ve heard right.” Izaya replied with a chuckle. “But if you’re fishing for information on him I have nothing new to share.”

“Actually I was fishing for information on you but you’re being remarkably closed mouthed.” Izaya put away the last of the dishes then turned to face his mother with a curious look.

“I’m not sure what you’re fishing for Mother. College is going well, the work with the Awakusu is enlightening and I’m finally getting inked. There really isn’t much else.”

“Very well.” Kyouko relents. “Do pass along my regards to Shiki and the others, of course.”

 

~

 

This time it was a club in Shinjuku, owned by another yakuza group under Medei, a sort of cousin group to the Awakusu. He’d been planning to do some work at his apartment but Yuuto had picked him up from college and dropped him off here instead. Shinra and Mikage had been standing outside the club, waiting for him.

“This is collusion.” Izaya declared, pointing at Yuuto in accusation. “You’re supposed to be my loyal brother.”

“And as your loyal brother I’m helping you by making sure that you make time for yourself.” Yuuto countered with a grin. Mikage laughed as she linked arms with Izaya who just sighed.

“I enjoy my work. It’s not like some salaryman’s desk job. I don’t need a break and really what is so very entertaining about getting drunk?”

“Oh, we’re not just getting drunk.” Shinra declared with a grin. “We’re getting drunk and dancing. Oh I wish Celty could have come. I bet she’s a great dancer. I mean just think about her in her leather catsuit, swaying her-”

“I’d rather not.” Izaya interrupted. “This doesn’t sound like fun. But I suppose watching all the lovely humans engaging in ridiculous societal rituals might be entertaining. Mikage, want to take bets on who goes home with who?”

“Seriously? No way Izaya. You’re going to drink and dance with us. Kyohei and his otaku squad are supposed to come too.”

“I’m not getting drunk.” Izaya said with a shake of his head as they walked toward the entrance.

“Oya? How about this then? We’ll play the betting game with you only if you drink with us.” Izaya narrowed his eyes in consideration then shrugged as they entered the club. The bouncer didn’t even bother checking them for ID, just waved them in. Izaya cast his gaze around the club before settling on a table and moving toward it while Shinra split off to hit the bar for a round of drinks.

“I don’t know if leaving Izaya in charge of coming up with the drinking games is a good idea.” Yuuto commented as he settled in a chair. “He’ll definitely rig them in his favour somehow.” Mikage shrugged.

“That’s a win all around, isn’t it? He gets to be proud of himself for being clever and the rest of us get drunk.”

“Glad we’re all on the same page.” Izaya replied with a smirk, settling onto a couch, pulling Mikage down to sit next to him. Shinra returned with four beers and Izaya wrinkled his nose. “Who knew my oldest friend would turn out to be such a disappointment?” He commented as he took the beer.

“Your complaints will only register if you’re the one paying.” Shinra responded. “In fact, given how much I spent on you for your birthday, I nominate you to buy the next round.”

“I’m a starving college student Shinra.” Izaya replied with wide eyes. “I can’t just throw money away on frivolous things like alcohol.”

“If you’re starving it’s only because you eat like an anorexic girl.” Yuuto replied with a grin.

Anorexic girl?!” Izaya scoffed. “Just because I watch what I eat? It’s called being healthy Yuuto. You should try it instead of wasting your money on fast food all the time.”

“At least I can die happy knowing that I enjoyed such mortal delights as deep fried food.” He said with a shrug, taking a drink. 

“Ah yes, the mortal desire to kill yourself with self indulgence.” Izaya replied, raising his bottle in toast to Yuuto before taking a sip. “First round. Girl at the bar wearing the 80s throwback neon pink skirt.” All eyes turned to the girl who really couldn’t be missed. She really did look like she’d fallen out of the eighties, hair pulled up into a high ponytail and streaked with neon pink to match her skirt.

“Ok, what’s the game?” Mikage asked.

“How long before someone convinces her to go home with them.”

“Oh! I bet no more than an hour!” Shinra piped up with a grin. “I mean she’s cute, right? And she looks a little desperate.”

“Yeah but dressing like that, she’s probably pretty self-confident so I doubt she’d just go home with anyone.” Mikage mused. “I’ll say two hours.”

“I’m not playing.” Yuuto said with a slight shake of his head.

“Can we play too IzaIza?” Izaya’s gaze slid to the newcomers, grinning at them.

“Of course, Erika. You in too Dotachin?”

“Nah, I’m not interested in playing god. Besides you’re just going to find a way to rig the game.” He replied as he pulled up a chair. Erika and Walker slid into chairs as well.

“I bet she goes home with a girl.” Erika throws in, pulling a laugh from Izaya.

“Of course you do. I’m going to say she doesn’t go home with anyone.” Shinra raised a brow.

“But she’s pretty obviously looking. I mean, look at the guy she’s flirting with right now.”

Eyes shifted back to the girl, watching her flirt with the guy then lead him off to the back end of the bar where the washrooms were.

“Oh…” Shinra’s face fell. “I think it still counts if the goal was hooking up!” He protested. Mikage just laughed and shook her head.

“How’d you know?” She asked, genuinely curious.

“Tattoo on her leg.” Yuuto was the one who answered.

“It was just some pretty flower design.”

“An orchid.” Izaya aid with a nod. “She’s someone’s property.”

“Prostitute?” Kyohei said with a frown.

“Yep.”

“Damn…” Erika muttered. Izaya chuckled and raised his bottle to the table in salute.

“Good try ladies and gentlemen. I’ll try to make the next target a little easier…”

“Speaking of targets Izaya…” Kyohei said as Togusa joined them with drinks. “Have you been messing with Shizuo again?” Izaya’s brows rose at the question and he shook his head.

“I had a run in with him but it wasn’t intentional, at least on my part. I haven’t exactly had a lot of free time. I did think he was acting a bit odd though. It seemed like he had been actively seeking me out.”

“Yeah… so you know the gang we’ve been running with?”

“The Blue Squares?”

“Yeah. Well we were supposed to have a meeting a few nights ago but Shizuo showed up. He told me to leave then proceeded to make short work of the Izumii and his lackeys. It was really strange, Izaya. Shizuo was there specifically to deal with the Blue Squares and he was definitely acting strange.”

“Why would Shizuo go after a color gang?” Shinra added, frowning. “I mean, I could understand if they’d targeted him but he wouldn’t seek them out.”

“Yeah, like I said, he was acting strange.” Kyohei nodded. “But the Blue Squares scattered after that. I mean, who wouldn’t after watching Shizuo beat the shit out of their leader? I heard Izumii ended up in the hospital.”

“Hey Shinra you’re the closest to Shizu-chan, have you noticed anything strange?” Shinra just shook his head at Izaya’s question.

“He hasn’t been by much lately. He lost another job a few weeks back and was kind of depressed so I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Kasuka’s out of town on some promotional tour right now too.”

“Oh yeah, he’s got a new movie being released this summer, right?” Yuuto asked, perking up a bit. Shinra nodded.

“Well it seems the beast is acting even more unpredictably.” Izaya mused. “Maybe’s he’s finally accepted that the only thing he’s good for is destroying things.”

“That’s harsh Izaya.” Kyohei scolded. “And also not true. He didn’t seem like he wanted to be there.”

“Well I guess you’re in the market for a new gang, Dotachin.” Izaya observed, shifting away from Shizuo. “I think I might have something for you. It’s a website. I’ll send it to you later. A new gang being formed and far more interesting than those kids in the Yellow Scarves.”

“Yeah, ok, I’ll check it out.” Kyohei agreed.

“Enough serious talk.” Mikage declared. “Time for shots and dancing. You know, the reason we’re here? To teach Izaya the value of social interaction with something that isn’t a book?”

“If interacting with you all hasn’t converted me yet, I don’t see how adding alcohol to the mix is going to improve your odds.”  Izaya replied in amusement but waved over a server and ordered a round of shots anyway.

It took much pleading from Mikage and Erika to get Izaya on the dance floor. Their flimsy excuse was that his presence would keep the creeps at bay which, if that was really their intention, would have been better to aim at Yuuto or Kyohei. A short break later Izaya was at the bar ordering another round for the table when the pretty prostitute resumed her place at the bar. He turned his gaze to her as she sat down and gave him a charming smile.

“Don’t bother.” He murmured before she could say a word. “You’re not my type.” She blinked in surprise but that plastic smile didn’t waver.

“Are you so sure about that? I promise, I could show you a very good time.”

“In the bathroom of a bar? Sounds positively romantic.” He returned, eyeing her with amusement and a rather convincing look of sympathy he didn’t particularly feel. “I can’t imagine you exactly enjoy getting fucked all night in some shitty club.” He leaned in closer and traced a finger over the tattoo. “Besides, I’m not overly fond of your employers. I’d rather not put money in their pockets. Were you sold? Kidnapped? Or did you end up here because of drugs?” The smile faltered at that and she moved to turn away but Izaya grabbed her hand and pressed a small plastic bag into it. “This will make your night a little easier.” He let her hand go and turned, making his way back to the table to rejoin the drinking, casting a glance back at her to see her staring at the small tabs in the bag with curiosity. His lips split into a satisfied smirk when she opened the bag and slipped one onto her tongue.

 

~

 

“You look like you just woke up.” Shiki observed as Izaya slid into the passenger seat. Izaya opened his mouth to respond and a yawn escaped instead.

“I may have slept in.” He conceded. “I was forced to endure social rituals involving alcohol last night.” Shiki gave an amused snort.

“Drinking with friends?”

“At a club in Shinjuku. It was practically a kidnapping. I didn’t drink much but they held me hostage well into the wee hours of the morning so I didn’t get a lot of sleep.”

“How convenient that your appointment is in the afternoon.” Shiki said with a chuckle at Izaya’s description. “Try not to fall asleep on the table.” Izaya snorted in amusement, giving Shiki a sly glance. They both knew there was no possibility of that.

Several hours later Izaya was staring over his shoulder into a full length mirror, studying the complete outline of the design on his back. The stark black lines across his pale flesh formed into an intricate pattern of scales and branches, still bare and awaiting color.

“You’ll have to wait now for it to heal fully before he adds the color.” Shiki commented from his seat on the small couch in the hotel room.

“Too bad…” Izaya twisted, raising his arms to look at the way the branches extended along his sides then twisted to look at where the lines stopped along his shoulders. The break in the imagery was jarring and obvious in its unfinished state and that made him frown. He knew what would eventually be painted across his shoulders and onto his chest, could imagine what it would look like once it was done and it made him impatient. Shiki gave him an amused look.

“Most twenty year olds only have sleeves if they’re lucky.” He pointed out.

“Well I’m not most twenty year olds.” Izaya replied with amusement. “I can afford to get it done.”

“Ah yes, the pampered heir has no patience because he’s never had to wait for anything.”

Pampered? ” Izaya arches a brow. “My sisters are more pampered than I ever was. Besides which, I’m paying for this myself.”

“From your illicit gambling profits or your Awakusu funded broker business?”

“You’re not my only client, Shiki.” Izaya reminded him with a smirk. “I’m pretty sure a man who tattoos yakuza for a living doesn’t care where my money comes from.”

“You probably should have left them covered.” He said of the tattoos.

“Maybe but they were uncomfortable and it isn’t bleeding at all. Besides, I thought you’d enjoy this view better.” Shiki arched a brow but he didn’t bother denying it, Nor did he acknowledge it though, not feeling a particular need to feed the raven’s ego. Instead he merely crooked a finger at Izaya who sauntered over with a smirk. He looked like he was going to sit in Shiki’s lap but the executive stopped him before he could, gripping his hips and turning him to face away.

“I wouldn’t think you’d be so eager. It must still be sore so soon after.” He said as he pressed thumbs against twisting black serpentine lines, still angry-red from the needle. Izaya sucked in a sharp breathe at the ache Shiki’s fingers awakened in his abused skin but didn’t flinch or pull away. “Do you throw yourself into dangerous situations with the hope that you might get hurt?” He asked and Izaya cast an amused look at him over his shoulder. “Or is getting hurt the bonus to the adrenaline rush?” His thumbs continued to trace the lines, moving slowly. Izaya looked away, biting his lip.

“I like to be challenged.” Izaya replied, neither admitting or denying Shiki’s words. “And there’s no challenge in living a regular life.”

“Challenged is it?” Shiki said as he stood, sliding his hands down to cup Izaya’s ass cheeks, giving them a squeeze. “Is that why you’re doing this?”

“Doing what?” Izaya replied coyly. Shiki snorted as he slid a finger between to slide over his hole in a rough caress. That drew a sharp exhale from the raven as Shiki slid an arm around his waist.

“Playing with fire.” Shiki responded as he pressed his fingers to Izaya’s lips. “Open.” Izaya flushed a bit at the order but parted his lips to take in those fingers, sucking and licking and coating them thoroughly. Shiki pulled them out and returned to pressing his npw-wet digits against Izaya’s entrance.

“I would say it’s more like playing with ice…” Izaya responded which resulted in Shiki roughly shoving two digits in together and drawing a noise of protest from Izaya.

“Ice is it?” He murmured as he slowly moved his fingers, dragging against the resistance of Izaya’s muscles roughly. Izaya let out an audible groan at the treatment, uncomfortable yet promising greater pleasure.

“In a good way.” Izaya teased with shaky breaths as Shiki continued to move inside him. “Like blindfolds and ice cubes…” This drew a snort from the executive who pulled his fingers out and released his hold on Izaya’s waist.

“Should I send you out for ice then?” He asked as he gave Izaya a light push toward the bed. Izaya climbed onto the bed and turned to sit in the middle of it, looking at Shiki with a playful smirk.

“I’m not sure the hotel staff would appreciate a naked, tattooed man wandering the hallways looking for the ice machine.”

“I am ever surprised that you can be so successful with so little discretion.” Shiki returned though it wasn’t exactly true. He knew Izaya could show discretion when necessary, of course but it drew a huff and a pout from Izaya and that amused him. “Turn around. I want you on your hands and knees.” Izaya’s lips curved upward as he shifted on the bed, turning his head to gaze back at Shiki as he presented his ass to the executive. He circled to the side of the bed to retrieve the lube before joining Izaya on the bed, running a hand along the raven’s side to rest on his hip. He leaned over the raven and pressed a kiss to the nape of his neck then began to trail lips along Izaya’s back, occasionally pressing teeth to skin in sharp bites that drew soft gasps and shivers from Izaya. He added lube to his fingers and pressed inside the raven once more, continuing to work loose the tight ring of muscle as he left trails of heat over Izaya’s back, some of which would bloom into bruises later. Izaya squirmed beneath the attention as Shiki alternated between pleasure and pain, growing impatient with need but Shiki merely placed a hand in the center of Izaya’s back, pushing him down to the bed and holding him there as his fingers continued to slide rub and stretch his ass. He shuddered when those probing fingers shifted their attention to his prostate, rubbing over it insistently and dragging moans from Izaya’s lips.

Izaya’s legs were trembling, his cock wet with precum and aching for release when Shiki finally withdrew his fingers and moved back to discard his own clothing. Izaya shifted his gaze to watch the executive eagerly as Shiki slid on the condom and added more lube. “This is going to hurt.” He said as he moved to press against Izaya. “Tell me to stop if it’s too much.” Izaya just pressed back against Shiki impatiently, not entirely sure why it should hurt given how well Shiki had prepared him. Then Shiki was pushing into him slowly and he was groaning at the feeling, hands curling to grip the sheets. Shiki’s hands slid over his hips to grip them tightly, then pushed forward in a single thrust, sheathing himself and driving his hips against Izaya’s ass, causing the recently abused skin to send a flare of pain through him. Izaya gasped at the feeling, eyes going wide at the realization even as Shiki drew back to thrust again, drawing another gasp from him at the mixed feelings of pleasure and pain. It was heady, overwhelming, - amazing - and it left him gripping the sheets and moaning with each thrust. It was a fine line and Shiki kept him on the edge of it until his body was shaking and he was wailing and coming. A few more rapid thrusts and Shiki was pressed flush against him, shuddering through his own orgasm then pulling out. Izaya lay flat on the bed as Shiki pulled back, legs still trembling.

“Stay there.” Shiki said as he shifted off the bed. Izaya opened one eye to fix it on the executive’s back as the man walked toward the washroom.

“As if I could move right now…” He replied, groaning at the stinging pain that grew more prevalent as the pleasure of orgasm receded. A few minutes later Shiki returned and pressed a cold, wet towel across his backside, soothing the sting. Izaya gave a soft sigh of relief at the feeling, gazing at Shiki with a half smile. “See? Ice…” He joked and Shiki’s lips curled at the edges into something that might be a smile.

Chapter Text

“Orihara-San, that girl called again. Said she had a friend who wanted to buy too.” Nakura said as he fiddled with his cellphone. “But they’re in Shinjuku. Isn’t that a little outside your territory?”

“I don’t have a territory Nakura.” Izaya responded, lifting his gaze from the ledger briefly. “And potential clients shouldn’t be ignored simply because you have to take a thirty minute train ride to deliver.”

“What made you decide to start selling anyway?”

“Convenient timing. I ran into her in a club and she was an ideal target. The results so far have been impressive. It’s probably the most addictive drug on the market now and with the reduced side effects Shijima has managed to refine, it’s guaranteed to be high in demand. I’d rather keep it quiet for now though. Keep access low, let it travel through word of mouth. Let rumours build its reputation for us.” Nakura just shrugged, not really caring about Izaya’s decisions.

“I don’t understand, if we’re selling don’t you want it to get out?” Hiroto asked, more perceptive than Nakura when it came to Izaya’s decisions.

“It will get out but only through us. We control the supply and the rumours around it will push the demand up. Which also works heavily on the subconscious expectation people will have before taking it. Their expectations will make their desire for it even greater. Pair that with the euphoria the drug induces and you ensure a level of mental addiction to match the eventual physical.”

“Your use of psychology for evil is terrifying.” Nakura commented with a shake of his head.

“Your concept of evil in this scenario is both hypocritical and misplaced.” Izaya observed with amusement. “Catering to people's’ vices isn’t evil, it’s practical business and one that has existed for centuries. Millenia even. Why wouldn’t I want to ensure that whatever vice I’m offering to fulfill is the best option?”

“This isn’t like a little harmless gambling though.” Nakura countered with a frown, obviously uncomfortable with the position he was stuck in as Izaya’s lackey. “These people won’t be able to stop once they start.”

“And that’s my fault? I’m not forcing the drug down their throats. They are choosing with their beautiful free will to partake, knowing full well that drugs are addictive. They are actively choosing the euphoria knowing that one of the risks is not being able to let go of it. It’s so very human, don’t you think? Such a delightful reflection of the dichotomy of human nature. Knowing that something is bad for you yet indulging in it anyway because it makes you feel good?”

“So what’s your vice, Orihara-kun?” Hiroto asked with curiosity though he didn’t really expect a response. Izaya was notoriously closed mouthed about anything personal. A smirk curved Izaya’s lips at the question and he shrugged.

“Watching people give in to theirs of course.”

 

~

 

“Orihara-san, thank you for seeing me on such short notice.” The man standing across from his desk gave him a bow that was a little too deep, an indicator to Izaya that the man was a bit on the desperate side. “The situation is a bit on the urgent side, you see, and you’re likely my last chance to remedy this before.”

“Please sit down Hayashi-san. You do understand that my services don’t usually involve retrievals of course?” The man nodded as he took a seat in one of Izaya’s chairs.

“I will pay extra for this request of course.” He agreed without pause. Definitely desperate. “The document I spoke of needs to be returned to my employer as soon as possible. It is key in negotiations he is undergoing with another business. If it’s revealed that the document was stolen the negotiations will fail.”

“And you will lose your job.” Izaya added causing Hayashi to flinch.

“Yes, that too.” He agreed, wringing his hands nervously. “I couldn’t possibly know that she was going to steal the document. She told me she was an office assistant.” Izaya really wanted to laugh at how cliche the whole situation was. Corporate espionage was not uncommon but a man of Hayashi’s position in a company falling for as simple a ruse as being seduced by a woman working for a rival?

“And you're sure you've provided me with all the information you have on this woman and the document?” Hayashi nodded vigorously.

“Also on the company she was working for.”

“I'll make your case a priority but it will be expensive.” He reminded Hayashi but the businessman just gave him another too deep bow in acknowledgement.

“Thank you for accepting this job, Orihara-san.” He said before turning to leave. The moment the door clicked softly shut behind him Izaya started chuckling. Yuuto looked over at Izaya with a raised eyebrow from his place on the couch. “That poor idiot is screwed. Even if I'm able to recover the stolen papers, he's going to lose his job. The woman who conned him works for the Asuki Group.”

“Yakuza stole documents from a financial company?” Yuuto replied with a slight frown.

“Yakuza stole the deed to a building owned by the financial company. Specifically, a resort hotel on Tsushima Island that caters heavily to Korean tourists. They are in negotiations with a big hotel chain over it. It's a solid contact point for smuggling through South Korea. Relatively small population with a primary industry of fishing and pearl hunting but a constant flow of transient population due to its attraction as a tourist destination.”

“How did you know it was Asuki? Aren't they rivals of the Awakusu?”

“The girl. She's rumored to be the mistress of one of the Asuki executives. I've seen pictures of her before when looking into Asuki. And yes, they are though currently they are in a sort of cold war I believe. Rumour says the Asuki may have spies within the Awakusu and I have an idea of who they might be.”

“Shouldn't you be telling the Awakusu that?” Yuuto asked, frown deepening. “They are our allies after all.”

“I don't have proof enough to be certain and besides, allies doesn't mean interfering. That's the whole reason we chose them over Daigo, after all. If the Awakusu are interested in what I know, they can pay me, ne?”

“Or you could make it a good faith gesture.” Yuuto suggested. “You know, something that won't get you in trouble if it backfires.”

“It's not going to backfire. It's also not a priority right now. Stealing a document from the Asuki is.”

“So you're planning to take up burglary now?”

“I wouldn't call it burglary. After all, I'm simply acquiring something that they stole and returning it to its rightful owners.”

“Mmhm.” Yuuto replied with a sigh. “And I suppose you're expecting me to help you?”

“Of course. Just think of it as an adventure.”

“I'm really not the adventurous type.”

“That's unfortunate…”

 

~

 

“This is a bad idea.” Yuuto said as he followed Izaya through the halls of the business building.  “How did you even get a key card anyway?”

“The girl I was chatting with at the izakaya where we got dinner.”

“If someone recognizes you…” He trailed off, falling silent as they turned a corner, passing two men in business suits.

“Stop worrying so much.” Izaya chided once they were out of range. “I know what I'm doing.” He paused in front of a set of double doors, waving his stolen key pass and smirking as the door clicked open. “I did my research. Besides the Asuki don't know me personally. They'd never be able to pick me out of a crowd. We just look like two more employees and even if they identify us they can't exactly do anything since they were the ones who stole the deed to begin with.”

“What about the cameras?” Yuuto asked as they stepped into the room. Izaya moved directly to the rows of locked filing cabinets.

“Dealt with.” He replied as he pulled out his lock picks.  “Stay near the door and listen for anyone coming.” He said as he turned his concentration on picking the lock. Soon enough he was flipping through various files until he found the ones he wanted, pulling them out and placing them in his satchel. Next step was the safe behind the desk which took a bit more time as safes were not nearly as simple as locks. Conveniently, it was a four digit code and he had help in the way of a certain online friend. He opened up his phone and Tsukumoya’s chat window immediately popped open. He dusted the number pad and sent an image. Tsukumoya ran the odds and sent him back a list of most likely combinations. It turned out to be the third and the deed joined the other files in his bag, along with several stacks of bills and an assortment of papers he didn't bother looking through. May as well make it look like a proper robbery.

Their retreat was quick and their presence remained unnoticed by the Asuki. “As long as you look like you belong, no one ever questions you.” Izaya said with a laugh as they walked away from the Asuki headquarters. “Add to that the fact that it's evening and most of them are out and it's perfect.”

“What would you have done if Tsukumoya hadn't been willing to help?”

“Hired another hacker probably.” Izaya said with a shrug. “Or maybe hired a professional thief but this way I got more than just the deed.”

“What else were you looking for?” Yuuto asked, eyeing Izaya's satchel as he got into the car.

“Membership files.” Izaya said with a grin as he slid into the passenger seat.

 

~

 

“Hayashi-san, thank you for coming, I know it was short notice.”

“Please, Orihara-San, no need to apologize. It was I who brought you such a time sensitive job after all. You obtained the deed?”

“I did. I also obtained a great deal of information on the woman, if you're interested in pursuing her?”

“Ah, no, I think it would be best if I simply returned the deed to my company and forgot about her.”

“Are you sure? Aren't you interested to know who she was really working for when she seduced you in that shitty club in Roppongi? Which, by the way, is a little far to go for a hookup.”

“No, really, it's better I don't know. I'll just take the deed.”

“Smart choice. On with business then.” Izaya slid a card over the desk. “That would be the bank transfer information. Once you've paid, I'll be happy to release the deed.” Hayashi picked up the card and swallowed nervously.

“About your fee…” He replied, staring at the card and refusing to meet Izaya's gaze. “It's quite a bit higher than I expected. I simply don't have that kind of cash on hand. Would it be possible to pay in installments?”

“Do I look like a car dealership? Or perhaps a rent to own furniture salesman?” Izaya replied in a voice full of mirth though there was a dangerous edge to it. “If you cannot afford to pay, I do have other potential buyers.”

“No, please!” Hayashi protested. “I need the deed!”

“Then I suggest you find the money.” He pulled out another card and passed it over. “This group should be able to help out a man of your circumstances with a loan. I doubt your bank would approve you for one given the circumstances.” Hayashi took the card and stood, bowing formally before leaving.

“Did you just send him to the Awakusu for a loan?” Yuuto asked, looking up from a variety show he'd been watching. “Seriously?” Izaya just cackled and spun his chair around to stare out the window, leaning back with his arms behind his head.

“There are worse people I could have sent him to. I considered sending him to the Asuki Group for the loan but decided the irony wasn’t worth giving them any sort of income.”

“You knew he couldn’t afford to pay you but you did the job anyway.” Yuuto accused.

“Well yes, even if he doesn’t pay me, being in possession of something that multiple parties want is good business. I’ll be able to recoup any potential losses easily. But I think his desire to fix the problem he caused for his employers will motivate Hayashi to get the loan. He’s just that sort of stupidly loyal.”

“You know, you are part of an organization that takes pride in loyalty.” Yuuto reminded, drawing a smirk from Izaya.

“I’m not selling my loyalty, Yuuto. But I know better than to offer it to people who don’t deserve it.”

“I suppose I should be flattered then.”

“Who said I was loyal to you?” Izaya replied with an amused snort.

“Well you did recruit me to help you steal that fucking deed. I’d consider that a show of loyalty.”

“I expected you to be loyal. Hardly the same thing.”

“Uh huh. In that case maybe I’ll just head back to the Asuki and let them know who was responsible for the robbery last night…”

“My mother would kill you…” Izaya returned in a singsong voice. “With her hair pins, most likely. I imagine bleeding out from a hundred or so small stab wounds is a terrible way to go.” Yuuto shuddered.

“Yeah, you’re probably right. I mean, I’ve never actually seen her threaten anyone but between your parents, I’d say she’s the more terrifying one. At least your father would just come at me head on.”

 

~

 

The gallery was never open before noon. Not that it ever had customers but appearances and all that. Shiki rarely showed up earlier than eleven because there was generally no point. The business he did wasn’t the sort that required he keep office hours and with the little sleep he managed to get, he prefered not to interrupt it for the sake of a conventional work schedule. It could be said that his unconventional line of work was part of the reason for his sleepless nights but Shiki didn’t bother giving it much thought.

What he was giving thought to at the moment was why there was a certain raven-haired troublemaker asleep at his desk. He had paused in the doorway when he spotted Izaya, head resting on his arms, the soft yet regular rise and fall of his shoulders indicating his state of rest. He moved quietly, shutting his office door behind him and collecting some of the reports he needed to deal with, leaving the raven to sleep and settling on the couch instead.

It was close to noon when Akabayashi threw open the door without even knocking. “Hey Shiki did you see Mikiya’s email?” Akabayashi was looking in the direction of Shiki’s desk of course, and frowned slightly at the sight of Izaya snapping awake at the sound of his voice, then barked a laugh at the raven’s sleepy look of confusion. Shiki looked up from his reports, arching a brow.

“The door was closed for a reason, Akabayashi. Did you forget your manners at home this morning?”

“Why’s Orihara sleeping at your desk? Did you tire him out?” Akabayashi countered with a grin.

“Ooooh yes. Shiki-san has been working me so hard.” Izaya complained dramatically, leaning back in Shiki’s chair and going limp, one arm dramatically thrown back against his forehead.

“What email?” Shiki redirected the conversation before it ended up fully entrenched in the gutter, which seemed inevitable when Akabayashi and Orihara were verbally attacking each other.

“The one about strengthening ties and bonding. Some kind of corporate retreat.” Shiki blinked and put down his papers to pull out his phone, scrolling through his emails to find the one Akabayashi was referring to. Izaya leaned forward in Shiki’s chair, unveiled curiosity in his expression. “You don’t know anything about it either?” Akabayashi asked Izaya who simply shook his head.

“Why would I know about weird Awakusu bonding retreats? Is that a thing yakuza do? Sounds very corporate psychology.” Akabayashi’s grin widened when he realized he knew something neither of the other two knew.

“Well apparently it’s an Orihara thing too.” Izaya raised a brow and pulled out his own phone but unlike the Awakusus executives, he’d received no messages from his family. He frowned then shrugged, making a mental note to talk to his parents later.

“Shirahone Onsen?” Shiki finally spoke after reading the details of the email. “Is he renting out the entire ryokan?”

“He’d have to with the amount of ink that’ll be shown. The onsen won’t allow it otherwise.” Izaya said. “Nagaon, hm? That’s quite a ways out of Tokyo, why not somewhere closer? Seems impractical to take all the important people from the two families out of the city for a retreat.”

“Indeed. Though it’s only for a weekend.” Shiki mused. “I have a feeling your mother had a hand in this, Orihara.” Izaya snorted.

“I know she did. There’s no way my father would suggest anything resembling a… bonding retreat. He’s probably only agreeing to it because it’s an excuse to enjoy the onsen and charge it back to the company finances instead of using his own.”

“Weekend vacation!” Aozaki announced from the doorway. “We should do a poker night.” Shiki sighed audibly as his office was once again invaded by the other executives.

“Since you’re getting a vacation, you should go do some actual work.” Shiki said before turning his attention to Izaya, as clear a dismissal as if he’d literally told them to get out. They retreated, arguing about whether they should play poker or dice. “Since you’re awake now, I assume you have some reason for being here other than napping?”

“Of course. Your desk is hardly ideal for napping and your couch is even worse.” Izaya replied with a grin as he reached into his satchel and pulled out a stack of folders which were surprisingly plain in color.

“My apologies. The next time I consider office furniture I’ll be sure to account for the napping requirements of stray cats.”

“Happy… belated birthday… or something…” He said as he brought the files over to Shiki. The executive arched a brow as he took them.

“No strange color coding?”

“Oh, they’re not my files.” Izaya replied as he sat down beside Shiki. “I suppose I could refile them for you if you’d prefer.”

“Yes, please do. How could I get through my day without having a neon yellow folder to remind me of why I’m glad the nineties are over?”

“Did… did you just make a joke?” Izaya stared at Shiki in mock horror. “Are you feeling ok? You don’t have a fever do you?” Shiki just stared at Izaya silently for a long moment before turning his attention to the files. The moment he opened the first one and caught the letterhead he immediately closed it.

“What did you just bring me and how, exactly, did you get your hands on it?”

“A report on Asuki’s current plans to expand their business. It’s surprisingly detailed and I managed to confirm most of it last night. They’re planning to distribute meth in Ikebukuro. Pretty good indicator that they have no intention of working with the Awakusu despite the peace Mikiya is trying to keep.”

“How did you get this?” Shiki repeated.

“Well a man with a problem hired me to solve it. Those files ended up being a bonus. You might know the man. I believe he may have recently come to the Awakusu for a loan. As in yesterday.” Izaya’s smirk was definitely akin to the cat who ate the canary.

“Hayashi of SMBC Consumer Finance? Well that explains why he needed that much money. What do you expect me to do with this?”

“That’s up to you. If you’re interested in more, I may have information on certain members of the Asuki Group as well. That’ll cost you though, since I couldn’t, in good conscience, sell this information to anyone else.” He gave Shiki a wink before getting up and collecting his satchel. “I should probably try to make my last class. Or maybe go home and nap some more. Have fun.”

Shiki watched the raven leave, a slight frown creasing his brow as he attempted to puzzle out Izaya’s motivations. There was no reason for him to hand those files over to Shiki, especially without charging him, but Izaya was not the kind of person to do anything without it benefiting himself. He grabbed a cup of coffee and settled down at his desk with the files, setting aside any other work to concentrate on Izaya’s questionable gift.

Chapter Text

“A corporate retreat?” Izaya was lounging on the couch in his father’s office when his mother finally joined him. “And why am I finding out about it from the Awakusu?”

“You weren't home last night.” Kyouko responded with an amused smile, a reflection of her son's. “Visiting the Awakusu instead of attending classes?”

“There's this new technology called e-mail. Or possibly even a text message. Maybe a phone call?”

“He says as if I surprised him with it at the last minute. They only decided it yesterday.”

“I can't believe Akabayashi knew something before I did.” Izaya huffed. “Whose idea was it?”

“Mikiya. It seems he has some concerns about loyalty among his people. He was reading an article in one of the corporate journals about company retreats and trust exercises.”

“And Father agreed?”

“Not exactly. He was looking at Mikiya like he was questioning his own judgement in allying with the man. You know your father… Loyalty is earned through action. If you join a family, loyalty is expected and in return granted. The very idea that Mikiya’s people might not be loyal was quite surprising to him.”

“A glaring blind spot. There are people in our family whose loyalty is questionable.”

“Yes but none of them are in key positions. Mikiya is concerned over the split opinion between him and his brother.”

“It should be a non issue. His brother isn't going to step up so who would take Mikiya's place? I suppose one of his executives could make a play but I don't see that happening as long as Dougen is around.”

"Well Mikiya is trying to find ways to solve the problem without resorting to violence within the clan. I made the suggestion that we make it more of a vacation, pointing out that a less formal setting might be more conducive to… bonding…” She covered her mouth with a hand to hide the soft laugh but couldn't hide the way her eyes shimmered in amusement.

“Mother. No. Just… No.” Izaya responded, eyeing her with judgement even though he would have totally let the same innuendo drop.

“Oh please, you think it's funny too.” Izaya relented, letting a slight smile cross his lips.

“So you sold Father on it as a vacation where the guys can go get drunk and sit in the hot springs, talking about guy things?”

“Approximately, yes”

“This is going to be very boring.”

“It's just a weekend. You're always complaining that the execs don't take you seriously. Now you have the opportunity to show them who you are.”

“In all my skinny effeminate glory. I'm sure that will really help their opinion.” Izaya replied with the beginnings of a scowl tugging at his lips.

“You won't just be sitting in the springs. And I'm sure business talk will come up. Don't sulk, be happy it's not one of those corporate trust building retreats where they make you play ridiculous games where you have to talk about yourself.”

“You know, that might actually be easier.”

“Lying defeats the purpose Izaya.”

“But would make it ten times more entertaining.”

 

~

 

Three hours was a long time to be trapped in a sedan with only his father and Yuuto as their driver. Izaya brought a book, hoping to pass the time in silence but it seemed his father wanted to go through the motions of small talk. Shirou was not the small talk type.

“How is college going? I understand you’ve taken more courses than recommended.”

“It’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“Of course, I wouldn’t expect any less. Your mother says you’ve been working well with the Awakusu executives? I’m pleased to hear that. I hope we can continue to strengthen our ties with them.”

“What about Medei?” Izaya asked, diverting to clan politics instead. “Are you still concerned that their policies may affect our alliance?”

“Of course but as I’ve come to know the Awakusu better, their independence from Medei is not simply talk. Medei really doesn’t care about their policies as long as they get their share of the profits.”

“Similar to our arrangement with them. We prioritize their business and they leave us our autonomy otherwise.”

“Your mother says you’ve continued your information gathering hobby?” Shirou continued and Izaya bristled.

“It’s more than a hobby, Father.” Izaya insisted. “I really don’t think you understand the value in it.”

“I understand the value of information, Izaya. What I don’t understand is why you want to pursue this yourself when you can hire others to do the job. You should be focusing on what we do instead of trying to expand into something different.”

“It’s not that different. We’re still selling a commodity. It’s just not as tangible as weapons and people and things.” This wasn’t the first time he tried to show his father the value of his work but he continued anyway. “It can pay very well, better than some of your current imports work. You just need a network in place and with technology that’s very easy to do.”

“I don’t think now is the right time to be trying to expand, Izaya. We were already threatened once. We could become a larger target.”

“I don’t deny that there are risks but having a widespread information network could also make us safer. If we had information on the organizations that wanted to threaten us-”

“But they would only be threatening us because we had the information.”

“Only if they were aware. The point is to obtain the information before there is a threat.”

“Why expend the effort and resources defending against something when we can simply avoid it to begin with.”

“Because we can’t avoid it!” Izaya exclaimed in frustration. “There’s always going to be someone targeting us for what we do. Like the Tien Tao Meng.”

“There are other ways to deal with them. We don’t have to seek out conflict.”

“I’m not seeking out conflict. I’m trying to ensure that when the conflict inevitably comes, we have the high ground.”

“You predicate your theory on the assumption that conflict is inevitable but that’s simply not the case.” Izaya stared at his father in silence for a very long minute.

“That’s… We’re yakuza .”

“And as you’ve pointed out, the yakuza are changing. Violence isn’t a guaranteed outcome anymore. Better to plan with non confrontational methods.”

“Why are you so afraid of a fight?” Izaya asked sharply and perhaps the phrasing wasn’t the best choice because Shirou’s expression was dark when he looked back at his son.

“I’m not afraid of a fight, Izaya. I have no desire to throw away people’s lives if I can avoid it. People who trust me to keep them safe.”

The silence that fell over the car was deep and left Yuuto feeling very, very awkward. About an hour and a half to Nagano he stopped at a gas station, presumably to use the restroom and stretch legs but mostly to give the two Oriharas a chance to be apart if only for a short time. The second half of the drive was less tense but equally as silent, Shirou and Izaya both setting their attention on reading material to avoid further argument.

 

~

 

Izaya flopped on the futon with a groan. “Two days of this. It’s too damn hot for hot springs. What does Mikiya expect us to do?”

“I think we’re visiting one of the local shrines tomorrow.” Yuuto spoke from his place by the garden door. “There’s a shared garden that the rooms all open onto. Pretty traditional.”

“Great, so even my room doesn’t guarantee privacy.” Yuuto snorted.

“There are locks on the doors Izaya.”

“As if those flimsy locks… would stop me… Hmmm…” Izaya’s expression changed to one of calculated cunning and Yuuto sighed.

“I don’t want to know. I want nothing to do with whatever evil scheme is brewing in your head. Leave me out of it. I just want to earn this well deserved vacation I earned by putting up with you. Peacefully. Quietly.”

“Don’t worry, my evil plan has nothing to do with you.” Izaya said with a smirk. “Anyway, what else is on the itinerary?” Yuuto gave Izaya a suspicious look before continuing.

“Dinner tonight here at the ryokan. Kaiseki so expect it to be long and full of reflection.” Yuuto grinned at Izaya’s groan. “Trip to Zenko-ji Temple then free time to do whatever you want. Dinner and hotsprings or, if Akabayashi has his way, some sort of gambling. Sunday is hiking up around Togakushi. Hey, you can go visit the ninja village…” Yuuto joked.

“Yes, because visiting children’s attractions sounds soooo exciting. Aren’t there those hidden shrines up around Togakushi? That might be interesting to check out. I bet there are lots of legends surrounding them.”

“Probably, they are quite old after all. You know there's going to be a lot of drinking right? What are you going to do about it?” Yuuto asked. Izaya just shrugged and sighed.

“Do my best to avoid it. Or nurse my drinks, like I do when I go out with the Awakusu. Pass my drinks off to you…” He added with a slight smirk.

“You better hope I'm not dragged off by the other non-executive types if that's your plan.”

“Good point. I shall conveniently put my cup down and forget about it.”

“So someone can put another one in your hand?” Yuuto chuckled. “I think you're screwed. Just accept your fate.”

“If that's your advice, I'm sure you won't mind taking care of me if I end up getting sick.”

“Sorry, not in the job description. I've heard drinking more helps you build up a tolerance.” He replied with a grin.

“That's not how biology works Yuuto. Body mass and metabolism are always going to determine limits.”

“Well, good luck with that then.” Izaya just groaned. Of all the traditions of the Yakuza, Izaya disliked the ones involving drinking the most.

 

~

 

Dinner wasn't as bad as Izaya thought. He'd actually managed to have some good conversations with both his family’s executives and the Awakusu. After the argument with his father, he kept to safe topics and managed to impress at least a couple of them with his knowledge of his family's business.

He did not escape the drinking however and being the youngest at the table, someone was always refilling his cup. It was probably due to this that he decided exploring the ryokan in the middle of the night was a good idea. Not that he wouldn’t have explored the ryokan anyway but the particulars of his state made him less than stealthy and it was only a lack of people that kept him from getting noticed. He ended up in the garden, the cool night air a nice change from the summer heat of the day. He crept along the wooden walkway that circled the garden, passing the rows of closed doors until he got to the one he’d figured out earlier belonged to Shiki’s room. He pulled out his lock picks and, even drunk, managed to make quick work of the lock which spoke volumes about the inn’s security. He slid open the door and stepped quietly into the executive’s room only to find himself being grabbed by the arm and dragged forcefully into the room. He flailed with his free hand and might have kept his balance despite being drunk if his attacker didn’t follow up by tripping him and pushing him to the floor, pinning his arm behind him.

“Orihara.” Shiki’s cool tone answered his question as to who had pinned him. He had expected the executive to be asleep already. “Feel free to explain why you’re breaking into my room in the middle of the night.”

“It seemed like an entertaining idea.” Izaya replied with a smirk and a giggle. “You were supposed to be asleep.” He added accusingly, as if Shiki was at fault. Shiki arched a brow but let his hold on the raven go. Izaya rolled over and sat up, looking up at the half-dressed executive with a grin.

“Drunk people are never as quiet as they think they are. Go back to your room and sleep it off.” Shiki replied with a slight shake of his head. Izaya pouted.

“But I came all the way here to surprise you.”

“Less of a surprise than you think.” Izaya tilted his head slightly.

“So Shiki was expecting me?” He replied, lips curving upward slightly. Shiki crossed his arms over his bare chest, eyeing the raven solemnly.

“No. I was expecting you to go back to your room and sleep it off. That you didn’t isn’t surprising just troublesome.” Izaya huffed a soft laugh and shrugged.

“I wasn’t tired. Am I really so troublesome?” He held out his hands to the other, a silent request for help up.

“Very.” Shiki said as he took Izaya’s hands and pulled the raven to his feet. Izaya swayed forward, overbalanced, and pressed his hands against Shiki’s chest.

“The charming kind of trouble, of course.” He says as he looks up at Shiki.

“There is nothing charming about trouble.” Shiki replied as he placed his hands on Izaya's shoulders to steady him. “Be good for a change and go back to your room.”

“I'm always good. Right now I want to be bad.” Izaya replied as he trailed hands down Shiki's chest. The executive grabbed his hands and shook his head.

“No. Try to remember where we are and who we're with.” Izaya's pout returned at Shiki's too reasonable reminder.

“No one is going to know, they're all asleep or still drinking.”

“You're not exactly quiet when sober.” Shiki pointed out. Izaya opened his mouth to protest but Shiki didn't let him get a word in. “Even if I thought you could be quiet, the answer is still no. Not here, not now, and certainly not with how drunk you are.”

“So if I’d been sober you would have considered it?” Izaya pressed.

“If you were sober you wouldn’t be here because you know that it’s too risky. You’re the one with something to lose here, Orihara, not me. I’m sure you’re having fun with this game. The more serious the consequences the more exciting it is, yes?” Izaya frowned and jerked away from Shiki.

“It’s not like that.” He said with a bite to his tone. “I mean, yes being with you is exciting but not because it’s a secret I’m keeping from my family.” He moved away from the executive and toward the garden door. “I don’t enjoy denying my own nature. Especially not for the sake of something as backwards as the court of public opinion.” He paused with his hand on the door. “There’s something just awful, isn’t there? About the fact that I can blackmail and extort and con people and that’s just fine. But having the misfortune of being attracted to men, well that’s just not ok.”

Shiki listened to Izaya quietly, seeing the raven actually express something other than the masks he slips on and off so easily. It was only because Izaya was drunk; he knew without a doubt that Izaya would never have given any of his personal feelings away so easily. It made him want to press for more, to see just how much of the raven he could lay bare but he didn’t move. Unlike the raven he was sober enough to keep his head. He did offer words though, whatever small measure they might be. “My apologies, that was unkind of me.”

Izaya glanced back at Shiki’s words and snorted, a slight flicker of a smirk forming. “Yes, because it’s your kindness that I’m attracted to…” He replied, somewhere between accepting the words and dismissing them. Shiki chuckled at this. “Well since my infiltration failed utterly and completely, I shall retreat and plan a new attempt.” Shiki groaned as Izaya slid out the door and into the garden, moving to watch him cross back to his own room before closing and locking the door.

Chapter Text

The first thing Yuuto did when Izaya woke was present him with a glass of water and two extra strength aspirin. Izaya snatched them up immediately, red eyes narrowed against the pain and the bright light filtering in from the garden side of the room. This was followed by a strong cup of coffee which Izaya was deeply appreciative of.

“I’m not going to make it through two more days of this…” Izaya groaned, sipping his coffee while sitting cross-legged on the futon.

“Well dinner tonight isn’t formal or anything so you can probably skip out on the drinking. Though if you go to Akabayashi’s poker game they’ll be drinking for sure. Anyway, King convinced your father and Mikiya last night that the best way to follow a night of drinking is a good American style breakfast so we’re going to a restaurant before the temple.”

“Food sounds equally tempting and revolting at the moment.” Yuuto just chuckled.

“Trust me, you’ll feel better after eating.”

“Better than death? Well at least we’re visiting a buddhist temple. They can give me my last rites.”

“Drama queen. On the upside, you’re not the only one with a hangover. Your father stayed up drinking with Mikiya well past when everyone else had retired and both will probably be feeling it.”

“Excellent. I will not be suffering alone.” Izaya replied, pleased.

 

~

 

Jonny King - which Izaya was one hundred percent sure wasn’t his real name - was one of a small number of foreign executives working for the Orihara Kai. He was a Japanese American and he served as their contact for weapons smuggling. Logistically, there was no better place to smuggle weapons from and Jonny’s family had ties to the Orihara’s. He was unswervingly loyal to Shirou and also the only executive who had taken Izaya seriously right from the start. Izaya wouldn’t say he liked Jonny exactly, the man did have a somewhat brash, American way to his behavior that Izaya found distasteful, but he recognized a potential ally in him.

Breakfast was not what he was used to, laden with protein and carbs, in heaping proportions. For someone whose normal breakfast involved coffee and maybe some toast, the plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns and pancakes looked overwhelming. His stomach rumbled with appreciation at the smell however, so maybe Jonny was onto something. Maybe American breakfasts were designed specifically to combat hangovers.

“Working with international partners must be quite interesting, Orihara-san.” Mikiya commented. “How much of your business is done overseas?”

“Only a small part. Most of our business is domestic but we do some exports. We are more focused on bringing in to meet local demand than in exporting our own goods. It is convenient when we receive requests to help people leave the country though. There are very few families who have solid contacts outside Japan in more than one place.”

“Most organizations who engage in similar business only work with nearby countries like the Phillipines, Korea, China or Russia.” Izaya added. “Or work solely with American contacts. Partly because most of them didn’t lay the groundwork early enough. Especially in the wake of WWII. Many organizations avoided working with the Americans at all which was short-sighted of them. America’s economy is so fundamentally entrenched in weapon production and their careless approach to gun violence makes them a prime choice if you want to move illegal arms. The yakuza who decided to settle on the west coast turn a pretty profit working with us, like King-san.”

Mikiya gave Izaya a startled look that turned considering while Shirou nodded at his son’s additions. “So you’re saying it would be harder now to break ground in foreign markets?”

“Not harder but the same methods won’t necessarily achieve the same level of result. The bonds formed between organizations fifty years ago are going to have more weight of loyalty behind them than attempting to form bonds with strangers. Many of the yakuza who have settled outside of Japan are secluded which leads to a very insular attitude and a lack of trust for outsiders, even ones who might be potential allies. It’s a protective measure because the yakuza are viewed very differently by the rest of the world than they are within Japan.”

“It’s true.” Jonny acknowledged, giving Izaya an impressed look. “We can hardly open up an office in San Francisco the way you do here. The need for legal businesses to cover our illegal ones is much higher, as is the police attention we receive, even on legal business. It makes us, in some ways, much more careful than you cousins have to be. Not to say that you aren’t careful, of course.”

“Hong Kong is difficult as well because we are in direct competition with the triads.” Han Wei, Orihara’s Hong Kong executive weighed in. He was half Japanese on his mother’s side but had grown up with his father in Hong Kong. “We don’t have the presence of an entire family there, just agents working through small offices to keep under their radar.”

“Sounds like a lot of work.” Aozaki said as he attacked a stack of pancakes. “Why not just use that dark web thing you were talking about the other day?” He asked Izaya who shot him a look that was both surprised and suspicious.

“You were listening?”

“Nah, I lost interest when you started talking about it being illegal shit on the internet. I thought it was gonna be another site for those funny pictures you keep sending me.”

Akabayashi snorted. “Memes, Aozaki. They’re memes.”

“The dark web?” Mikiya asked with a raised brow looking a bit confused.

“A sublayer of the internet, generally supported through the use of various networking techniques that make it anonymous and generally unsearchable. Darknets have been known to be used for illegal activities.” Shiki clarified for his boss and Izaya shot him an impressed look.

“I didn’t think you were paying attention either.” He said with a slight smirk.

“You’re not the first person to talk about the dark web Orihara-kun.” Was Shiki’s response.

“So what, it’s like Amazon for illegal things?” Izaya tittered at Mikiya’s comparison.

“No, not exactly but I suppose it’s not the worst comparison either. There’s no single website or easy way to access it because that would make it easily traceable by cybercrime forces. There was the Silk Road, for a while before the Americans shut it down. In order to gain access to it you had to buy in. They would auction off memberships and kept them limited. Anonymity was guaranteed through the use of specific routing software that they required.”

“How do you guarantee business if it’s so difficult to access?” Izaya hummed as he considered the best way to answer the question for the table full of low tech execs - at least in comparison to his level of technological understanding.

“Well it’s not exactly that different from selling illegal items in the non-digital way. There are always buyers, you just have to be careful about how you advertise. With the darkweb you’re targeting a different generation of potential buyers, younger people who have a better fundamental understanding of the technology because they’re growing up with it. Kids who already know what Tor is and why you should be using it. They’re already out there looking, you just have to put the right prompts in front of them.”

“The problem is in its execution.” Shirou said though his expression was thoughtful as he looked at Izaya. “The setup would require finding younger people who know how to do what Izaya’s talking about.”

“Many families have noticed a drop in new members.” Mikiya added with a slight frown. “The younger generations seem more interested in forming street gangs than making something of themselves.”

The irony of the head of a criminal organization criticizing young people for choosing a different type of criminal organization to join. Izaya thought with a smirk. “Maybe the yakuza need a good social media campaign.” Izaya prompted, only half serious. The considering look on Mikiya’s face made his smirk widen in amusement. He shifted his gaze to Shiki who was giving him a very cool look.

“Shiki-san, as the front of our legitimate businesses, I think you should look into it.” Maybe more of a murderous look. Izaya’s smirk turned into a grin.

“Of course.” Shiki replied to Mikiya doing his best to ignore the shit-eating grin on Izaya’s face.

“Our business could benefit from the use of social media as well.” Shirou added thoughtfully, eyeing Izaya. “Izaya, this sounds like the perfect project for you.” Izaya glanced at his father in surprise then nodded, pleased that his father saw value in his potential skills.

“Of course, Father.” He replied. “And if Shiki-san needs help, I’d be happy to lend my expertise…” He added.

“Thank you for the offer, Orihara-kun.” Mikiya replied with a nod. “I’m sure Shiki would appreciate it.”

“Oh yes. I can’t imagine a better person to help me with this project.” Shiki replied, giving Izaya a smile that was absolutely terrifying.

 

~

 

Zenko-ji was one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, with a long and illustrious history that Izaya cared very little for. Buddhism was not a religion he found particularly inspiring. If anything, the denial of baser human nature in order to die and be reincarnated as something better or achieve enlightenment and never reincarnate again seemed a ridiculous thing to chase. He did love how humans always strove to explain suffering as having a greater purpose to make themselves feel better. Asceticism without any tangible benefit just sounded like torture.

The temple itself was interesting only for about the first ten minutes of being there, after which Izaya turned his attention to the market stalls that were set up all around the temple grounds. Some sold typical luck charms, many sold food, and a few sold local hand crafted goods.

“It's interesting how different the temples are here than in China.” Han commented as he studied a table of charms, picking one out. “For my daughter. In Hong Kong it's not so bad but most of the temples in China are very serious. The idea that they would sell food and charms like this is contrary to the idea of giving up transient things.”

“There's a saying in Japan, married Shinto, buried Buddhist. It's a good reflection of the culture. We enjoy life while we can and worry about our next life when we're old and have nothing better to do.” Izaya replied with a slight smile.

“Hah. Yes, it is. I suppose that kind of outlook makes sense to a culture founded around warrior's ideals.” Han pocketed the trinket as they walked along the path to the next stall. “Your father has said that you're interested in getting more involved with the business but that he wants you to finish college first.”

“Yes, I'm in my second year currently. It's a four year program but I'm planning to finish it in three.”

“No need to rush. A young man like yourself should enjoy his youth. College should be about the experience. What are you studying? Business?”

What was it with people assuming the only things worth studying were business and finance for the Yakuza? Izaya thought. “No, psychology actually. I appreciate the thought but I'm really more interested in the learning than the other experiences of college.”

“Ah, a studious young man. With your looks and attitude I would have figured you for an ikemen.” Izaya had to concentrate very hard on staring at the booth in front of them, contemplating the freshly made takoyaki instead of rolling his eyes. “I wish my son were more like that. He's a year older than you and still hasn't settled on a major. Psychology is an interesting choice. How do you expect it to help the business?”

“From the perspective of someone being expected to eventually lead the clan I thought that understanding the people who will be working for me someday might be a more useful thing to learn. I already have a solid understanding of business and finance, even if I don't have a degree in it, but the ability to understand the way both your allies and your enemies think seemed a skill with a wide variety of uses.”

“That's a sound line of reasoning.” Han agreed. “There are always concerns about what sort of change will come when a new head takes over. It may be years away but the clan wants to see what kind of man you are. It was the same with your father, you know.”

“Oh?” Izaya turned to look at Han, curious. He didn't often hear the others talk about his father. Han gave him a grin and a nod.

“Your father wasn’t that different than he is now. Very serious young man and very dedicated to following in his father’s footsteps. He worked hard to learn the business and helped his father by suggesting better ways to do things. He seemed like the perfect heir until he met your mother. She was young and beautiful and very, very clever. Her father had been a member of a rival yakuza group, no one particularly important. Her mother had been a hostess at a club who eventually moved up to become the owner. Kyouko, given the choice between her mother’s life and her father’s, set her sights on joining the yakuza.”

Izaya smiled at this. It was easy to imagine his mother deciding that the less likely of two options was the one she would succeed at.

“Her father refused to even consider it, of course. Women don’t join the yakuza, he told her. Women need to be protected from the violent lives they led. So she marched right up to the Orihara offices, knowing that they were rivals, and refused to leave until she was given the opportunity to speak with your grandfather. Shirou was there when she was shown into the office, dressed in a sharp business suit and looking for all the world like she belonged there. She told Torakichi, without any hesitation, that she would tell him everything she knew about her father’s clan on the condition that she be allowed to join the Orihara-kai and that her mother be protected from any clan conflicts. Your grandfather was suspicious of course, and refused her. She came back everyday for a month and sat in your father’s waiting room, staring down his poor secretary. It was your father who convinced him to give her a chance, setting aside tradition in the face of her boldness. He said to Torakichi ‘That woman has bigger balls than half the men in the family’.”

Izaya raised a brow at this, having a hard time imagining his traditional, ever formal father saying something like that. He couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Well, Torakichi gave your mother a chance and that set the executives on fire. They questioned your mother’s loyalty and your father’s sense. Eventually they couldn’t help but to come around once your mother proved herself both useful and loyal but for quite a while they dismissed your father as lovestruck and foolish.”

“Well I’m glad no one sees me as lovestruck and foolish.” Izaya replied with a smile. “Just young and foolish.” Han gave him a firm slap on the back.

“All men are young and foolish at some point. When we get older we remember how young and foolish we were and so we look on other young men and assume that they, too, will be foolish. It’s especially hard if you’re trying to introduce new ideas to old men. We get stuck in our ways and sometimes it’s hard for us to see the value in it.”

“Ah yes, the easy sin of complacency.” Izaya observed with a nod. “It’s easier and more comfortable to stay where you are than to risk discomfort in trying something new.”

“You’re intelligent like your father with all the clever brashness of your mother. It’s the kind of combination that concerns comfortable old men.”

“I’ll do my best not to pull the cushions out from under you with anything too outlandish.” Izaya said with a grin.

“Just try not to give me any more gray hairs than my own son is giving me.” Han replied with a good-natured laugh.

 

~

 

Izaya had skipped dinner at the ryokan in favour of a restaurant famous for it’s soba, bringing Yuuto with him for company. This also helped him avoid more potential drinks being thrust upon him and led to he and Yuuto returning to the ryokan in the evening as Akabayashi, Aozaki, Jonny, and Toshi were starting up a poker game. Izaya sacrificed Yuuto to the cause, sending him off to play with the guys while he retreated to his room, more interested in the fact that Shiki had apparently opted for the hot springs instead of the gambling.

Izaya had taken a look at the hotsprings when they arrived and found them quite pleasing in design. There were several pools linked together in a range of sizes, some more private than others, all of which were available to the Awakusu-Orihara group without concern for other guests. His instincts told him Shiki would choose one of the more private pools, away from the rest of the men, where he could enjoy some quiet. Some careful investigation revealed his instincts to be correct as he found the other alone in a small pool mostly hidden by greenery. He was amused to see that Shiki was reading a paperback novel.

“Crime novels? Seems like ironic reading for a yakuza executive.” Izaya mused as he moved toward the pool from behind Shiki. He was hoping to have surprised Shiki with his stealthy approach but the executive didn’t react at all.

“Sometimes reading is just about enjoying the story.” Shiki replied. “Keigo Higashino is a very good author.” Izaya settled on the ledge beside Shiki, letting his feet dangle in the water.

“So you like mystery novels?” He continued, curious. It was a little bit of something personal about Shiki, completely unrelated to his work. Shiki kept his private life very private and while Izaya respected that, he couldn’t help but want to invade that privacy, to learn more about the reserved executive.

“Since I was a child.” Shiki turned slightly to look up at Izaya. “I like them best when I can read them uninterrupted by nosy revolutionaries who saddle me with extra work.”

“Revolutionary? It’s not my fault Mikiya actually thought it was a good idea. I wasn’t serious you know. And I can’t believe you’re still salty over that. That was hours ago.”

“While you were off avoiding dinner I had to listen to Akabayashi and Aozaki come up with slogans. The more they drank the worse it got.” Izaya snickered at that.

“Well now I’m twice as glad I avoided dinner.”

“Oh don’t worry. I told them to make a list and submit it to you since you’ve offered to help me with it.”

“This is how you repay me for offering my services out of the kindness of my heart?”

“Yes, clearly it was kindness that motivated you and not an excuse to spend more time irritating me.”

“My presence is a kindness. You just haven’t realized it yet. Don’t worry, I’m a patient god. I know you’ll come around eventually.”

“Hell will freeze over first.” Shiki retorted, putting his book down behind him. “Are you getting in?” Izaya hummed at that, sliding into the water to settle beside Shiki.

“Did you know that the Christian idea of hell is believed to have been stolen and twisted from Norse mythology? You see, they had Hel, a goddess of their version of the underworld - well one of them. They had different places you could end up after death based on how you lived your life. Anyway, she was cast down by Odin into Niflheim where she collected the souls of the dead to build an undead army.”

“So they took the name of this goddess and turned it into a place?”

“Yes! But the funnier part of this is that Niflheim was known as the realm of primordial ice and cold! So the phrase ‘when hell freezes over’ is hilarious because technically it’s perpetually frozen over!” Izaya snickered.

Shiki gazed at the raven with amusement at the animated way he talked about the myths. “In that case I correct myself. Niflheim will thaw first.” Izaya’s eyes shone with amusement at Shiki’s retort.

“That sounds like a challenge.”

“Everything sounds like a challenge to you.”

“You should be flattered that I find you challenging.”

“Flattered or concerned?”

“What could you possibly have to be concerned about?”

“My ability to sleep soundly at night, undisturbed by the fear that some stray cat might be trying to break in again.”

“Fear he says. As if you’re afraid of me. Or anything for that matter.” Shiki chuckled at that.

“Everyone has fears. Though you’re right, I’m not afraid of you.”

“So Shiki is afraid of something…” Izaya replied with a grin. Shiki just snorted and shook his head.

“Unlike you. All the intelligence yet none of the self-preservation instinct.”

“Oh, I have it. I just ignore it when it’s inconvenient to me.”

“Which appears to be most of the time.”

“No great person ever succeeded by running away from things that might be scary.”

“Great people also understand the value of tactical retreat when something turns out to be bigger and badder than them.”

“Are you implying that you’re bigger and badder than me?” Izaya replied with a smirk. “I’ll admit that you’re slightly bigger but I don’t know about badder.” Shiki arched a brow and the look he gave Izaya was enough to make the raven flush a bit.

“It’s a shame they decided on a ryokan and not a proper hotel.” Shiki replied with a slight smirk, leaving the raven to wonder.

Chapter Text

Izaya’s second night at the retreat was made restless by dreams that left him feeling a special kind of frustrated when he woke . Rebuffed a second time in the hot spring last night, Izaya wasn't sure if he was going to be able to get Shiki alone at all before they had to return to Tokyo.

A quick shower later he was getting breakfast, leaving Yuuto to sleep off his hangover from drunken poker, wherein he had apparently also lost quite a bit of money to Akabayashi. It was still quite early and the dining room was mostly empty with the exception of Shiki, Shirou, and his father's closest executive, Naoto. Izaya grabbed a cup of coffee and a couple pieces of toast then joined the table.

“Good morning, Orihara-kun.” Naoto greeted him. “I see you avoided the poker game last night.”

“Good morning. I've seen Akabayashi play before. I have no interest in losing money.” He replied with a slight grin.

“It's good that you're up early.” His father commented. “I need to head back to Tokyo, there's been some trouble with a shipment that was supposed to arrive today.”

“Ah, I see. That is unfortunate.” Izaya replied, composing his features to hide his disappointment. He really had been looking forward to exploring the shrines. “I'll get Yuuto up after I eat.”

“I would appreciate it. I'm sorry to have to cut the trip short, I know you were interested in Togakushi. I would prefer to have let you stay but Naoto took the train to get here so we need the car to get back quickly.”

“I understand.” Izaya gave a slight bow of his head in acceptance of the circumstances.

“If it’s transportation that is the issue, I can drive Orihara-kun home after the hike up to Togakushi.” Shiki put in casually. Izaya slid his gaze to the other and raised a brow before returning his focus to his father.

“Thank you for the offer Shiki-san but I wouldn’t want to inconvenience you.” Shirou replied.

“It’s no inconvenience.” Shiki replied and Shirou turned to look at Izaya.

“It’s up to you, Izaya. If you’ll excuse me?” Shirou and Naoto rose and headed out of the dining room leaving Izaya to turn amused eyes on Shiki.

“My hero.” Izaya said as he picked up his toast and took a bite.

“If that’s all it takes you have low standards.” Shiki replied, returning his attention to the newspaper he’d been reading before Izaya had joined the table.

“I’m surrounded by thugs and I hate being disappointed. Better to set my standards low and be surprised instead.”

“I’d be offended if I thought you were telling the truth.”

“How do you know I’m not?” Izaya replied with a smirk.

“I’m not a thug.” He replied simply. “And someone as intelligent as you would never settle for less than an equal. Besides we both know you’d never actually succumb to hero worship. You’re too in love with your own cleverness.” Izaya couldn’t help but laugh at Shiki’s response.

“Disappointed that I won’t worship you, Shiki-sama?” He teased with a smirk.

“I’m not the one with the constant need for attention to reinforce his god-complex.” Izaya sniffed disdainfully.

“I was going to offer to show my appreciation at your rescue but now I don’t think I want to.”

“Mmhm.”

 

~

 

There were five shrines that comprised Togakushi and Izaya was intent on exploring each one of them. He’d done some reading on the place before they’d arrived at the entrance, the path lined with towering cedar trees. Once the sight of many pilgrimages, the people of the area climbing the mountain path to reach the last shrine, hidden in a cave. Of course, in the modern day, the cave-shrine had been replaced with a more traditional building but Izaya wanted to see the original. Once they were on the path he quickly left the others behind to enjoy a more relaxed pace while he eagerly explored the ancient shrine sites ahead of them.

The lower and middle shrines were well maintained and meant to attract tourist and vacationer. The upper shrine was empty of only the most dedicated pilgrim wanting to view it. It was an old structure and only one priest stood watch over it. Izaya easily slipped past the priest and around the shrine proper, seeking the hidden path that would lead to the cave-shrine. The path was not well kept and the hike was more difficult but when he arrived at the original site, it was worth it.

A small wooden torii had been erected around the entrance but years of neglect had discolored the once-red arch. Izaya pulled out his phone and switched on the flashlight function as he stepped past the gate, following a set of weathered stone steps down into the cave. It was a short staircase, at the base of which hung a pair of old lanterns, meant to illuminate the path for the pilgrims. He fished a lighter out of his pocket and attempted to light one of the lanterns, amused when he was successful. It wasn’t much light so he kept his flashlight going as he approached the old shrine, covered in layers of dusty buildup, wondering if anyone bothered to come here at all anymore, even the priests. It had such an abandoned feeling to it, a heaviness in the air that made him shiver.

He picked up a stick of incense, abandoned here with all the other trappings of worship, and lit it, bowing clapping his hands as was traditional to wake the god of the shrine. He couldn’t say he believed in the Shinto gods any more or less than any other god man had dreamed into existence when in its infancy as a race but his fascination with myths and legends made him cautious enough to observe tradition rather than invite divine wrath. After all, if a headless fairy could exist, how less valid was shinto?

The cave wasn't very big but Izaya snapped a decent amount of pictures, doing his best with the shitty light of his phone and the dim glow of the lantern. He couldn't help but wonder about the god enshrined here, abandoned in the face of modern science. No one came to pray for rain from the nine-headed dragon. If the god was real, would he still answer prayers? Or did gods need prayers to exist like some myths theorized? Was the dragon as good as dead because the people no longer sought it out? Was his meager offering enough to revive a forgotten god? Probably not and what was the likelihood that a god even existed in this empty place? It was just a cave, nothing special about it.

He returned to the entrance, stepping out into the light to notice that the sky had begun to darken with clouds. He couldn’t help but smile wryly at the sky before glancing back at the shrine. “Seems I woke the dragon after all…” He joked to himself as he made his way back down the trail, hoping to get back to the shrine before the sky opened up. He managed to make it to the building and take cover under it when the rain started up but it was a small shrine with no buildings like the middle and lower shrines had. Not to mention the rest of the group were still at the middle shrine, probably drinking at the soba shop. As the rain began to fall harder Izaya’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He pulled it out and couldn’t help but to grin at the text from Shiki.

‘Enjoying the weather?’

‘It’s quite pleasant. You should join me.’

‘Where are you?’

Izaya snapped a picture of the shrine and sent it to Shiki, settling down to sit with his back against the fence, hoping that the rain would at least lessen a bit before he braved the trail back down.

‘So the rain is your fault.’ Shiki’s response made him smile and he sent a picture of the old shrine in the cave.

‘Oops, I woke up a dragon.’ He sent back along with the image.

‘Where is that?’ Came the reply.

‘The original shrine up in the mountain behind the newer wooden one.’

‘I didn’t know there was another shrine. Looks abandoned.’

‘It is abandoned. Are you still at the middle shrine?’

‘Akabayashi took King to the Ninja House. Aozaki, Wei and Fujiwara are at the soba shop.’

‘And you?’ No response by text but the sound of footsteps approaching the shrine drew his eyes away from his phone to settle on Shiki as he passed the last torii leading up to the shrine.

“White is such a great color choice for rainy weather.” Izaya called to him from beneath the shelter of the shrine, amused that the executive had walked up in the rain. The white polo shirt and slacks Shiki was wearing weren’t completely soaked through but were certainly wet enough to cling. Shiki gave Izaya a bemused look as he ducked under the roof of the shrine.

“The forecast this morning was for clear skies all day.” Shiki observed.

“You’re not as wet as you should be with how hard it’s raining.” Izaya said with an arched brow.

“I kept along the edge of the path, close to the tree line. Are you done exploring?”

“Well I’m not sure I want to explore in the rain. Want to see the old shrine? It’s not that far from here-” Even as he suggested it, there was a crack of thunder overhead, followed by a flash of lightning. “Or not.” He muttered with a huff that made Shiki chuckle as he sat down next to the raven.

“Seems we’re not going anywhere for a bit.” Izaya hummed at that.

“Well at least I got to see the old shrine before the rain started. It’s an eerie sort of coincidence, going into that shrine and having this storm appear out of nowhere. If the weather was unpredictable like this when the village was first built, I can see how they might have thought a dragon god lived here, for lack of a better explanation.”

“Why are you so fascinated with mythology? You don’t strike me as a particularly religious person.” Shiki asked as he pulled out his smokes and lit up. Izaya wrinkled his nose at the smell as he always did, making Shiki smile a bit at the little show of disapproval.

“I’ve always been fascinated with it.” Izaya replied with a shrug. “I loved reading about them as a child. Not just Japanese, all the different cultures. What drives humans to create and worship these beings? Gods, demi-gods, spirits, demons, faeries… Every culture has their gods and monsters and no proof that any of them ever existed. Some of them are reflections of humanity, just bigger and better or badder at the things humans do. Others are untouchable, so perfect as to be beyond the understanding of mortals. Is it possible for all these things to exist? If they do exist, how do they escape human notice? If you read the greek legends, their gods constantly interfered with mortals so if they were real, if they still exist, wouldn’t they still be messing with mortals? Or are we so blind to their existence that they do play with us, without us even noticing?”

Shiki watched Izaya talk animatedly about gods and myths, expression full of passion for the topic. He’d seen Izaya talk about things he was passionate about before but only briefly and never quite as expressively as he was doing now. The raven was always so guarded around others, even the people he should have been able to trust, like his family, building walls to keep people at a distance. “I would like to hope that my decisions have always been my own and not the influence of some unknown god.” Shiki replied with a slight smile. “As convenient as it would be to have some omnipotent being to blame for my bad choices in life.”

“Ah! You just hit on a favorite topic of mine.” Izaya exclaimed, shifting away from the fence to turn and face Shiki, crossing his legs. “Humans across myths are consistent in their nature. Humans have the ability to choose their actions, from the moment they are born to the moment they die. Yet humans will find any reason to escape the consequences of their choices, including blaming the god or gods or demons for whatever trouble they have brought upon themselves. Or they use their religion to justify their bad decisions, turning them into good decisions in their own eyes. How can they, on the one hand, worship these all powerful beings and pray for their help then, on the other hand, blame all their problems on those same gods? It’s so hypocritical and so very human, don’t you think?”

“People don’t just do it with mythological beings.” Shiki observed. “They do it with other people too. Blaming their boss or their parents or the government. Those kinds of people will always try to find a way to defer the blame onto someone or something else.”

“True. Gods make an easier target because your boss or your parents can call you on your bullshit whereas gods don’t talk back. At least not in this day and age. Maybe in ancient Greece if you called out a god, they’d actually respond.”

“I think I’d prefer to live by my own will than trust the fickleness of gods, even if you could prove they were real.”

“There are some religions that believe we can become gods.” Izaya added with a smirk. “It would be fun to be a god, I think.”

“You as a god is a terrifying thought.” Shiki responded with a shake of his head. “No one would be safe from your troublemaking.”

“Oh I don’t know, I’m sure I could be placated.” Izaya replied. “Heartfelt prayers and offerings would be nice.”

“Yes, I imagine having a flock of worshippers would please you.”

“I’d settle with just one for now…” Izaya’s smirk widened a bit and he shifted forward to straddle Shiki’s lap. The other just gazed at him with a hint of amusement.

“No, I don’t think so. I much prefer it when it’s my name on your lips like a desperate prayer.” Izaya flushed at that but persisted.

“I’m a benevolent god, gifting you with my presence.”

“Oh? And what does worshipping you get me exactly?” Izaya’s smile turned coy as he slid his hands over the damp fabric of Shiki’s shirt.

“You’d have to worship me to find out, now wouldn’t you?”

“I have a better idea.” Shiki replied, reaching up to wrap a hand around the back of Izaya’s neck to pull him closer. Lips barely an inch from Izaya’s ear, Shiki spoke, quiet yet firm. “The fledgling god worships me with that pretty mouth of his.” Izaya smirked at the suggestion.

“And what would I being getting out of it?” He purred in return, tilting his head in to brush lips against Shiki’s neck in a light tease.

“You know exactly what you’d be getting out of it.” Shiki replied as he slid his free hand up Izaya’s thigh. Izaya pressed teeth against Shiki’s neck, biting lightly before pulling back to look at the other.

“Here? How risky of you, Shiki.” Izaya continued though his eyes drifted to the shrine behind them as he stood and slipped over the fence that kept people out of the shrine proper, where only the priests were supposed to go. Shiki stood, watching Izaya hop the fence without even a second thought.

“Because there are so many people around. No one is going to be coming here in this downpour.” He observed. Another roll of thunder echoing above them reinforced his point as he followed the informant over the fence and into the back of the shrine and out of view. “Inside the shrine, how irreverent of you.”

Izaya grabbed Shiki’s shirt and pushed him back against the wall with a smirk. “I can’t imagine a more appropriate location for petitioning a god.” He said as he slid his hands down to the waistband of Shiki’s pants, fingers making quick work of the other’s belt and fly. Shiki let out an amused chuckle as Izaya’s hand slid under cloth to caress flesh, freeing his cock from his clothing. Izaya sunk to his knees, gazing up at Shiki with equal parts mischief and lust as he dragged his tongue along the base of Shiki’s cock before taking it in between soft lips, wet and warm. He kept his gaze fixed on the raven who was clearly making a show of it, enjoying the view very much. Izaya kept his tongue pressed along the bottom of Shiki’s cock as he took in as much as he comfortably could before pulling back again. He kept his hand at the base of Shiki’s cock while the other gripped the executive’s hip to steady himself. Shiki slid his hand through Izaya’s hair, tangling in the locks and tugging lightly as Izaya continued to move, slowly exploring at first before finding a rhythm that brought a groan from Shiki’s throat.

“Suck harder.” Shiki directed and Izaya obliged, focusing on Shiki’s reactions to his attention. He slid his hand down to fondle Shiki's balls as he sucked, pulling another groan from the executive. Then Shiki was tugging his head back causing Izaya to blink in surprise. “Up.” Shiki ordered and Izaya pulled himself to his feet to find his chest pressed against the wall by the executive whose hands were sliding unexpectedly into his pants pockets.

“My phone is in my back pocket.” He teased as Shiki's hand closed over the small bottle he'd pocketed that morning before they'd left for the hike. Shiki's response to the joke was to pull Izaya's shirt back and press a sharp bite along the soft line where neck met shoulder, drawing a gasp from the raven.

“Planning to ambush me in the woods?” Shiki asked with amusement as he withdrew his hand, holding up the bottle of lube and a couple condoms.

“I like to be prepared.” Izaya replied with a smirk as he snatched the condoms back, placing one between his teeth as he slid the other back into his pocket.

“Prepared for random sex?” Shiki continued with a raised brow as one hand undid his belt and fly, pushing his pants and boxers off his hips.

“It's a possibility.” Izaya defended as he helped slide his pants down, freeing his own erection from the cloth.

“A possibility. And does it happen often?” The sound of the bottle opening, followed by the cool feel of slick fingers pressing against his ass, rubbing over the tight ring before pressing slowly inside.

“Ah!” Izaya gasped at the feeling, pressing back against Shiki's hand  eagerly which earned him a stinging slap on his ass for his impatience. “Less often than I'd like.” He replied, casting a a smirk over his shoulder at Shiki who just snorted in response as he worked his fingers inside the raven, drawing soft pants from him. He pressed his fingers down over Izaya's prostate as his other hand plucked the condom from between Izaya's teeth.

“I'll be sure to keep it in mind.” He replied as he withdrew his fingers to slide on the condom and add more lube. Izaya's lips parted to respond but words were lost in a sharply exhaled groan as Shiki pressed into him, sliding an arm around Izaya's waist to pull him close. Izaya slid his arm over Shiki's, pressing back against him as Shiki pressed his lips to Izaya's neck. The drag and slide of Shiki’s slow thrusts drew a shuddering moan from him, the angle of the motion rubbing over his prostate persistently. The soft press of Shiki’s kisses turned into the drag of teeth and the insistent pull that promised marks. His free hand came up to slide along Shiki’s neck as he tilted his head back. Shiki’s free hand slid over Izaya’s hip, following the sharp line down to his erection, palming it in a slow rhythm that matched his thrusts which drew an impatient whine from Izaya. The way Izaya responded to the things he did was probably his favorite part of fucking the raven. Izaya was so very responsive and grew impatient so easily, it was pure fun to play with him.

“Sh-shiki…” Izaya moaned, grip on Shiki’s neck tightening as the pleasure built in him. “Faster…”

“Did you want something?” Shiki murmured, lips trailing over the edge of Izaya’s ear.

Shiki please. ” Izaya groaned, flushing slightly.

“Please what?” Was Shiki’s taunting reply.

“You know what.” Izaya whined.

“I want to hear it.”

“I want to come, Shiki, please!” Izaya moaned, flush deepening to a delightful red across his cheeks that Shiki wished he could see clearer. He gave Izaya’s neck a soft bite as he gave the raven what he wanted, quickening the pace and thrusting harder as well. It wasn’t very long before the raven was shuddering in his grip as he drew out his orgasm. Izaya gasped and clung to Shiki as he continued to thrust hard and fast, seeking and finding his own release, burying himself deep with a final thrust as he came. After a moment he pulled out, drawing a soft sound from Izaya who let go of Shiki to reach down and pull up his pants before turning around to fix half-lidded eyes on the executive who had stripped off the condom and done up his own slacks. Shiki met that gaze with one of amusement.

“You look far too pleased with yourself.” He commented and Izaya’s lips curved up in a smirk.

“I am pleased with myself.” He replied as he stepped in close, sliding arms around Shiki’s neck. “I’ve been wanting to do this all weekend.”

“Oh, I’m aware.” Shiki responded with a chuckle, placing his hands on Izaya’s hips. “You weren’t exactly subtle about it.” Izaya groaned at the reference to his first drunken night at the ryokan.

“Well now you know why I don’t drink.” He ceded before pressing a kiss to Shiki’s lips. The executive relented to the kiss, then nipped at Izaya’s lower lip before pulling away.

“Sounds like the rain has lessened. We should get back to the rest of the group.”

“Hmm. Maybe the dragon accepted the offering…” Izaya joked, letting go of Shiki to move out of the shrine, hopping the fence again. Shiki just shook his head as he followed the raven.

 

~

 

“You seriously hiked the trail in this weather?” Akabayashi commented on the two of them as they reached the parking lot, quite thoroughly soaked. About halfway down the trail the rain had picked up again and they’d had no choice but to keep going. Izaya was frowning, arms curled in over his chest against the chill.

“Given how late it is already, waiting out the rain isn’t exactly an option if we’re going to get back to Tokyo in a reasonable amount of time.”

“As fun as this has been, I’d like to get back to the car so I can change.” Izaya added grumpily drawing a laugh out of Akabayashi.

“Well it was an interesting vacation.” Akabayashi said as he headed toward one of the Awakusu cars. “You have an interesting group Orihara. I especially like that American. Plays a mean game of poker.”

Izaya grinned at that. “I heard he was the only one who could keep Akabayashi from completely cleaning up.” He commented to Shiki as they turned toward Shiki’s car. He pulled a spare shirt and slacks out of his luggage before sliding into the passenger seat to do an awkward quick change. Shiki did the same, depositing both their wet clothes into a spare bag before starting the drive home.

It was a much more relaxed drive than the one Izaya had endured on the way up. There was an easy silence between them, occasionally broken by bits of conversation. They stopped briefly in Fujioka for dinner and when they continued again, Izaya took a turn driving. It was the first time Shiki saw Izaya wearing glasses and he was amused at how the simple black frames perched on his nose gave him a slightly more serious demeanor, more intellectual than troublemaker in that moment. Shiki dropped Izaya off at the house, bringing their weekend vacation to a close and Izaya acknowledged that it wasn’t quite as terrible as he thought it was going to be. He’d learned quite a bit about his father’s executives, a little bit about Shiki, had visited an abandoned shrine and gotten fucked in another. When he went to bed, it was with a feeling of contentment with the way it had all gone.

Chapter Text

“Iza-nii! Iza-nii your girlfriend is here!” Mairu burst into Izaya's room, followed closely by Kururi, less expectedly, by Akane and lastly by Mikage. He'd just gotten out of the shower and was in a mildly scandalous state of undress - at least if you're a group of young girls.

“Tattoos.” Kururi commented, pointing at his naked back as he glanced over his shoulder at them.

“How far down does it go?” Mikage asked, leaning against the doorway and crossing her arms. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she studied Izaya's back before Izaya turned around and set a glare on the twins.

“When will you learn to knock?” He asked with a sigh.

“When Iza-nii actually answers when we knock!” Mairu declared.

“Never.” Kururi chimed in with a slight smile before grabbing Mairu and Akane’s hands. Akane for her part just looked embarrassed by the twins behavior. Kururi dragged them out of Izaya's room, leaving Mikage and Izaya alone. Mikage shut the door behind her as she stepped into the room.

“Never mind the tattoos…” She said with a grin. “What is that?” She poked at the spot between Izaya's neck and shoulder where an unmistakable purple bruise stood out against pale flesh. Izaya slapped his hand over the mark, eyes narrowing slightly at Mikage’s question.

“That is none of your business. Why is Akane here?”

“The girls convinced her to come to their martial arts class. I don't think Mikiya will let her enroll at her age but they convinced her mother that it would be ok to watch. Now you're not going to escape telling me who's leaving love bites on you so just give up now.”

“That doesn't explain why she's here and I'm definitely not telling you anything.” Izaya replied as he reached for his dress shirt, buttoning it up before turning around to face his persistent friend.

“Someone you met in college?” Izaya’s flat look knocked that one off the list. “Maybe one of the younger members of the Orihara-kai then? Maybe Yuuto? ” She added as a joke.

“Yuuto is painfully straight.” Was Izaya's reply with an amused smile. “Are we going to dinner or are you going to continue asking questions I won't answer?”

“Oh come on, you finally get a boyfriend and you won't even give me a hint as to who it might be? What happened to your no relationships policy anyway?”

“I wouldn't call him my boyfriend.” Izaya replied as he grabbed Mikage's shoulders, turned her around and pushed her toward the door.

“A hookup?” Mikage said, arching a brow. Izaya didn't respond, just gave her a solid shove when she resisted his push.

“I want dinner. Seriously, just give up, I'm not going to tell you.” Mikage started moving, leading the way out of Izaya's room and down toward the main door, brow furrowed as she tried to figure out who it might be.

“Hang on, weren't you away with your family all weekend? On that retreat with the Awakusu?”

“I haven't eaten all day Mikage. If I don't get something to eat soon, I may just collapse from hunger.” He moved past her, sliding on his shoes and opening the door to come face to face with the one person in this situation he didn't want to see. “Ah, Shiki-san what brings you here?” He asked of the executive who was approaching the door from the street. Izaya spotted the Awakusu sedan parked out front and realized he'd probably been sent to pick up Akane.

“Orihara-san. I'm here to pick up the little Miss.” Shiki replied as his gaze flickered to Mikage who was leaning over Izaya's shoulder to look at him. “You must be Sharaku-chan, the martial arts teacher.”

“That would be me, though I'm still just a junior teacher.” Mikage acknowledged. “Nice to meet you Shiki-san.” She gave him a polite bow.

“Orihara-san, while I have you, I'd like to discuss those personnel files you mentioned last week, when you have time, of course.”

“Of course, Shiki-san. Would tomorrow afternoon work for you?”

“That's fine, I'll come by your office. Have a good evening Orihara-san, Sharaku-chan.”

“Good evening Shiki-san.” They passed in the entryway and Mikage held her tongue until they were in Izaya's car, heading away from the house.

“So…. That's Shiki huh…?”

“Yep.”

“That's a lot of tall, dark and handsome.”

“Tall, dark and deadly.”

“Deadly handsome.”

“That was terrible.”

“Terribly handsome?”

“Please stop.”

“And you're working for him?”

“We have a business arrangement.”

“That your father doesn't know about?”

“My father is happy that I am working well with the Awakusu. He has little interest in my business.”

“Hmm. Spent a whole weekend with him at a hot spring?” Izaya just groaned.

“Him and a whole lot of other men. Stop fishing, it won't work.”

“Fine but I'm just saying he's totally your type.”

“How can I have a type when I don't even date?”

“You may not date but I've seen the guys you’ve eyed. You have a type and it's trouble.” Izaya snorted.

“That's not a type, that's a lifestyle choice.” He replied with a smirk.

“Also a type.” She replied with a smirk of her own.

 

~

 

“Do you ever get tired of sushi?” Kine settled into the private room in Russia Sushi across from Izaya.

“Of course not. Healthy and delicious. How could I ever get tired of that?” Izaya retorted with a grin. “How are you, Kine?”

“Small talk, Orihara? How unlike you.”

“Maybe I’m finally growing up.” Izaya joked, playing with the straw in his drink. “I hear you’ve started your own business. Private investigation?”

“Primarily. Whatever pays the bills. I’m going to assume your interest is not in the realm of small talk.”

“Are we skipping the foreplay then?”

“Not quite grown up enough.”

“Ouch. Why’d you get kicked out of the Awakusu?” Izaya dropped all pretense of polite conversation.

“Doesn’t matter. Couldn’t figure it out on your own?”

“The Awakusu can be surprisingly tight-lipped at times. All I’ve managed to dig up is that it had to do with a Kinnosuke Yumeji, anti-yakuza squad cop.” Kine’s jaw tightened at the name before he forced himself to relax.

“Why do you want to know?”

“Mmm. Because you’re useful and it’s hard to imagine the Awakusu throwing someone useful away. I want to understand why.”

“Well you’re just going to have to live with disappointment.”

“Join the Orihara-kai.” Izaya suggested bluntly.

“Hah. No. As if your father would take in someone who was kicked out of an allied family. Besides which, I’m hardly interested in working my way up from the bottom all over again.”

“I could vouch for you.”

“I doubt it would be enough. I don’t want to go back down that road, Orihara.”

“Hm. I was afraid you’d say that.” Izaya wasn’t surprised by Kine’s reaction but he’d felt the need to make the offer anyway. “Would you consider working for me instead?”

“As the heir?” Kine shook his head. “Still tying me to your family.”

“Off the books. For the business you so kindly helped me start. And profited off of, I’d like to add.”

“What exactly did you have in mind?”

“I could use an investigator. Especially one who already understands the sort of circles I’m running in.”

“You have something specific in mind.”

“A specific job to start with, yes. It’s a bit outside my reach right now. I need you to go looking for someone but it’ll take you outside Tokyo.”

“You can’t go because of your family obligations and college.” Izaya nodded.

“You know I can afford your rates. I’ll cover travel expenses and all that.”

“What’s this about, Orihara?”

“Just a hunch I need to follow but can’t. Something that, if I’m right, will help me put a little problem to bed.”

“All right, I’ll do this job for you.” Izaya smirked, clearly pleased with the result.

“I look forward to your results, Kine.”

 

~

 

Izaya was on his way back to his apartment when the vending machine came flying out of nowhere, forcing him to dodge and spin around to lay eyes on the only person who could possibly have thrown it.

“Shizu-chan again, how delightful.” He said with a smirk. “But really, your timing is terrible.” The blonde stalked toward him, grinning savagely.

“Izaya-kun. I knew I smelled something rotten. What kind of trouble are you up to?” Izaya danced back a few steps, hands sliding into his coat pockets.

“Getting lunch. Like a normal person. Are you stalking me now Shizu-chan? I’m flattered but monsters aren’t really my type. Besides, I’m not sure someone who randomly assaults innocent kids should be criticizing me for causing trouble. How many Blue Squares did you put in the hospital?” Izaya knew the actual number, knew that Shizuo hadn’t actually hurt any of the younger members of the gang and that most of them had run when he showed up but he wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to dig at Shizuo’s moral superiority. Shizuo seemed to flinch at the words then growled.

“I didn’t hurt any kids. That gang was causing trouble, mugging innocent people.” He stopped to grab a sign, the sound of crushed metal and crumbling cement filling the air.

“Oh? And that justifies you putting Izumii Ran in the hospital? Interesting. Does the monster no longer hate violence then? Have you finally embraced your true nature?”

“Damnit flea just shut up. Always running your mouth about shit, thinking you know everything.” He swung the sign, sending it flying toward Izaya who was more than prepared to dodge, dancing another few feet back.

“What did Fei offer you? Or is he blackmailing you somehow? Did Shizu-chan do something actually illegal… Aside from property damage of course.” Shizuo took several deliberate steps forward, cracking his knuckles.

“You don’t know shit, flea. You want to meet Fei? Stay still and I’ll take you to him.”

“Oh that’s a tempting offer and all but I have a feeling you intend me bodily harm and I’m not really interested in that.” Izaya replied with a smirk as he withdrew his hand from his coat pocket, brandishing several throwing knives. “As much fun as it is to play with you, I have an appointment to keep. Is it too much to hope that we can skip the chase today?”

“So you can run off to ruin more innocent lives? I don’t think so, Izaya-kun. I’m not letting you escape again.” With that he charged forward and Izaya responded just as swiftly by letting his knives fly, not even bothering to see if they hit their mark before he turned to run. He already had a trajectory set, having thought through several potential escape routes while they were talking. He didn’t want Shizuo to know where his apartment was so he plotted a course back toward the Orihara house. He couldn’t be sure but he was hoping the idea of facing the retaliation of his family would deter the blonde. Part of him longed to turn and face the blonde, to feel the familiar adrenaline rush that had always come with their high school fights but knowing that Shizuo actually intended to deliver him to his new boss made it too risky. It was interesting to learn that Fei wanted him though.

“I didn’t know Shizu-chan was into kidnapping!” Izaya called over his shoulder as he took a sharp corner, launching himself up over the guardrail to whip across the street toward Nishi-Ikebukuro Park. A straight line run was always a dangerous gamble with Shizuo but cutting through the park was also the fastest route toward the house. He zigzagged through the open space, dodging when the monster managed to find something to throw at him, putting any object he could find between himself and Shizuo’s line of sight. As he approached the far side of the park he spotted a familiar van pulling around the corner, making him smirk. “Dotachin!” He hollered as he shifted his trajectory, the whistle of a metal pole that may have been part of a swingset flying past him and into the street, causing the van to swerve.

Kyohei glanced up at the sound of his name, catching sight of the too familiar scene of his high school friends tearing up the city, then he was gripping the arm of the door as Togusa swerved, Walker and Erika squealing in surprise as the van came to an abrupt stop. He shoved open the door as Izaya tore past him with a manic grin and a quick wave. “Run interference?” He yelled as he passed, launching himself up onto a wall across the street and scampering across it with impeccable balance. Kyohei turned his eyes to Shizuo who wasn’t too far behind. Run interference? Who was Izaya kidding?

“Shizuo!” He yelled at the blonde who was headed straight for them. “You nearly hit us!” Shizuo’s gaze flickered toward Kyohei, taking in the van and the metal pole he’d launched at the flea, then flickered back to Izaya who was gaining a longer lead. “Shizuo!” Kyohei called his name again and Shizuo slowed down, then stopped in front of his high school friend, knowing he would lose the flea but the guilt of nearly hitting Kyohei pushing back some of the anger.

“Ah, sorry Kyohei.” He said sheepishly, watching Izaya disappear around a corner. “If the damn flea wasn’t so good at dodging…” Kyohei sighed.

“Why are you even chasing him anyway? Izaya’s been staying away from you. I thought that’s what you wanted?” Kyohei asked.

“It’s looooove~” Erika said, sticking her head out the open door to look at Shizuo. “IzaIza and Shizu are in lo-” Togusa pulled Erika back before she could finish. Shizuo’s brow furrowed at the otaku girl.

“The flea’s up to something and I need to stop him.” He replied to Kyohei’s question. “Shit, I almost had him…”

“Shizuo, I think you need to let this go. You’re not teens anymore.”

“I know that!” Shizuo snapped in frustration, fists clenching at his side. Kyohei took a step back, holding up his hands. “I’d be happy to never see him again but that’s not an option.” Kyohei blinked at this admission, frown deepening.

“What’s going on Shizuo? You haven’t been yourself lately…”

“Shit. Forget it. Sorry Kyohei.” The blonde turned and shoved his hands in his pants, walking back across the park. Kyohei watched him go with a sigh.

 

~

 

Once he was sure he’d lost Shizuo, Izaya carefully changed direction, heading for his apartment, managing to avoid any further entanglements with the monster. He collapsed on the couch with a groan, processing what little he’d managed to drag out of Shizuo before things had escalated. Shizuo had come after him with the intent to take him back to Fei and he’d gone after the Blue Squares because he’d been convinced they were criminals. It was hard to believe that Shizuo would decide to become a vigilante cleaning up the streets of Ikebukuro which meant Fei wanted the Blue Squares out of the way, but why? Fei dealt in organized crime. Colour gangs were low level troublemakers most of the time. It didn’t make sense to waste time on them. Could the Tien Tao Meng be planning to put their own low level gangs on the streets? It would be a bold move but Izaya hadn’t heard anything about any new gangs forming through his eyes and ears. He forced himself up off the couch with a sigh, heading toward his desk to prepare the files Shiki was coming to talk about. He would put more thought into Fei’s motivations later.

Shiki arrived closer to dinner, caught in a meeting and unable to get away. Izaya greeted the executive with an amused grin as he let him into the apartment. “I’m a busy man, Shiki. What if I’d had other appointments tonight?” Shiki just snorted as he slipped off his shoes and followed Izaya to the desk.

“Like what, another date with Sharaku-chan?” He replied as he settled into one of the chairs, eyeing Izaya with amusement as the raven settled in front of his computer. Izaya raised an eyebrow, lips curving up into a catlike smile.

“Jealous?” Izaya purred as he placed several files in front of the executive.

“Of your ex-girlfriend ? Not particularly.” He responded nonchalantly as he picked up the files. “I sent the transfer on my way here. These three in specific are the only ones?”

“That I could confirm, yes. It’s pretty clear that the Asuki group has no interest in a peaceful resolution. Mikiya will need leverage if he’s going to successfully avoid a war. Are you going to out the spies?”

“No, I plan on handing this information over to Kazamoto. If he knows where the leaks are, he can use them and this is his responsibility.” Izaya nodded thoughtfully.

“On other topics, I’ve looked into that club in Shinjuku that’s tied to the Tien.” He slid another purple file folder across the desk with a smirk. “Above board, it operate as a kink club but fronts for prostitution. I’ve been unable to confirm but I believe they’re also distributing drugs through the club. Aphrodisiacs and opiates.”

“Shinjuku is not within our territory, Orihara.” Shiki pointed out with a frown as he opened the file.

“I know. You won’t be able to walk in and clean house with this one. I could tip off the family that operates in that area but it’s possible they’re allowing the Tien to operate. I want to get inside, get a look at the place myself.”

“Too risky.” Shiki said flatly, shaking his head. “You have no idea how they operate.”

“I’d scout the place but going to a kink club alone makes me a different kind of target.” Izaya said with a smirk. Shiki raised a brow.

“I already don’t like where your train of thought is going.”

“I need backup if I’m going to do recon. There’s only so much I can learn from the outside or from patrons you know.” Shiki studied Izaya silently for a long moment, working through the idea that Izaya was alluding to.

“Send in one of your eyes and ears.”

“I’ve done that already. That won’t get me what I’m after. They don’t know what to look for and I’m not willing to tell them too much in case they do get caught.”

“You getting caught is a far more problematic scenario.”

“Which is why I don’t want to go in alone but I will if that’s the only option.”

“I had a feeling you would say something like that. Your determination is admirable but your plan is brazen. Your attempt to manipulate me into agreeing just to keep you out of trouble did not go unnoticed either.” Izaya’s grin widened and he shrugged.

“Well I didn’t think playing on logic alone would work. Honestly, you should be flattered that I want your help on this.”

“Oh?” Shiki raised a brow.

“Mmhm. It means I have faith in your ability to keep calm and deal with whatever we have to in the club. Also I suspect you will feel a lot less awkward in a kink club than my other potential options for backup.” He added the last part with a smirk that was pure sin. Shiki sighed, shifting his gaze to the file, reading through the information.

“This club has been open for ten years. You're sure the Tien has owned it the whole time?” He asked even as he scanned the evidence presented in the file.

“It's their oldest foothold in Tokyo, I believe. That's why I want to get inside.”

“This isn't generally what I do.” Shiki pointed out as he flipped through pictures of the interior of the club.

“What, kink? I'm not sure I believe you, Shiki.” Izaya replied, eyes narrowing in amusement. Shiki arched a brow at Izaya's intentional misinterpretation.

“Infiltration. But how comfortable are you going to be with this?” He held up a picture of a woman tied to a St. Andrews cross. Izaya smirked, leaning back in his chair and shrugging.

“I'll do my best to not get distracted by all the sex…” He replied. “Everything that happens on the main floor is staged for show and actual play is only permitted in the private rooms. For additional fees of course. My eyes and ears didn't get past the main floor due to a lack of partner and an unwillingness to pay for one of the prostitutes they offer.”

“Can't say I blame them. So if you went in alone you planned to pay for one of the girls?”

“Probably. Or charm another patron into getting me back there.”

“What do you hope to find?”

“Proof of their drug distribution. Maybe a paper trail though I can't imagine I'll get too much out of that if the Ikebukuro club was an example of what to expect.”

“Drug charges would get them shut down very fast.” Shiki agreed, closing the file and placing it back on the desk. “I still think it's too much of a risk. It's a tempting target because it's an important foothold for them but for the same reason, they are likely to be keeping a closer eye on it. The club requires a membership and I doubt they're just offering every newcomer drugs.”

“True but it's not hard to fake a membership. The club is very popular and I know enough about their general practices to fake being a regular.”

“You've been working on this plan for a while.” Shiki observed. “Were you always planning to drag me into it?” Izaya smirked and gave a slight shrug.

“Once I realized that I needed to get inside, you became my top choice.”

“If this is one of their main businesses, what's the likelihood of running into Fei?” Izaya frowned briefly at the question.

“So far he hasn't shown his face in the club but I can't say for sure that he won't at some point. He's made himself very hard to track since you hit the strip club.”

“Yes, we knew he would go to ground. If he shows up and you're in his club he will recognize you.”

“Possibly, though it's less likely with what I have in mind. You do own clothing that isn't white suits, right?” Izaya teased, eyes shining with amusement.

“I haven't agreed to this yet.” Shiki replied coolly though in calculating the risks, it seemed better to go with Izaya than to leave the raven to his own devices. That Izaya would do it without him was no idle threat and what the unpredictable heir might do on his own was more concerning than just the potential risk of getting caught.

“You will.” Izaya replied with confidence, a half smile on his lips.

Chapter Text

“This is just weird even for you.” Yuuto commented as he watched Izaya slip on a pair of stilettos with thick straps that wrapped around his ankles and had small locks dangling from them. Izaya stood and took several tentative steps across the floor, testing his new balance.

“Does it bother you?” Izaya teased with a smirk as he continued to pace across the floor, gaining a more comfortable pace, smoothing out his walk as he adapted.

“Yes. Definitely yes. You are confusing my dick right now.” Yuuto replied bluntly, though he was smiling slightly. “Why are you crossdressing anyway?”

“Because the club caters mostly to het couples. We’re trying to blend in. If we showed up as a gay couple, we’d stand out. It was easier to pick one of the couples that have membership and haven’t been to the club in a while than to create new ones.” Izaya spun on one foot once he reached his desk, causing the little pvc skirt to flare a bit. “Erika was practically screaming with excitement when I asked her to help me.”

“I can believe it. You’re like a walking fetish for her.” Izaya leaned against the desk, grinning with amusement. The PVC dress clung to his upper body, leaving nothing to the imagination but flared out into an a-line skirt at his hips. It covered his back and chest but left his arms bare, hiding his tattoos and the bra with falsies that Erika had set him up with but the skirt was too short to hide the black lines that trailed down the tops of his thighs. “That skirt is dangerously short. Are you even wearing anything underneath?”

“Do you really want to know?” Izaya said with a smirk and Yuuto just sighed.

“No. I’ve already seen too much. You’re meeting Shiki at the club?”

“No, we’re going to meet at a coffee shop nearby and walk to the club together.”

“Well if you’re ready, Orihara-chan, let’s get this disaster of a plan started.” Yuuto replied with a shake of his head. Izaya grinned and pulled on his coat, an ankle length black affair with fur trim that completely hid the scandalous outfit. He grabbed his newly acquired purse and followed Yuuto out of the apartment.

“You doubt me. I’m hurt. It’s an excellent plan and I get the added bonus of surprising Shiki.”

“He doesn’t know about this…?” Yuuto waved a hand at Izaya’s appearance as they headed down to the car.

“Mmm. Nope.”

“Oh boy.”

 

~

 

Shiki was already at the cafe, leaning against the building and smoking when Yuuto pulled up and parked in front of it. He had traded his trademark white suit for black leather pants and a black silk dress shirt, left unbuttoned at the top, the gleam of the silver chain around his neck catching Izaya's eye. Izaya bit his lip at the sight as he pushed open the door and stepped out of the car. Shiki would have no problem fitting in at the club; everything about him practically screamed dom from the outfit to his casual body language to the gaze he fixed on Izaya.

“Orihara.” He greeted Izaya as his eyes traveled over his body, taking in the entire outfit before returning his gaze to Izaya's face, noting the dark liner that accented his eyes, the subtle sweep of blush on his cheeks and deep red painted across his lips. Soft waves of long black hair with red streaks in it framed his face, completing the picture. “I'm less concerned that you'll get recognized but more concerned about you getting caught now.”

“Isn't that why Shiki-san agreed to come?” Izaya purred, pushing his voice into the upper octave of his vocal range and adding a distinctly feminine lilt to it. “To keep your girlfriend out of trouble?” He leaned in close to press a kiss to Shiki's cheek, lips curved up in a wicked smirk.

Shiki slid an arm around Izaya's waist as the raven pressed close, keeping him there as he murmured in his ear. “You're a brat, Orihara- chan. You do understand that once we're in the club, you'll have to obey me completely?” Izaya couldn't help the shiver that ran up his spine at the way Shiki spoke that reminder.

“Of course, Danna-sama.” Izaya replied demurely though there was mischief in his eyes. “Or should I call you Daddy? You are so much older than me…” Shiki's grip on his waist tightened in warning.

“Do you have a daddy kink, Orihara?” He replied with an arched brow. Izaya just smirked and shrugged. “Stick with Goshujin-sama.”

“Whatever pleases Shiki-san.” He slipped his hand into his purse and pulled out a fake ID and a membership card. “You are Masamune Kaito, a secretary for a legal firm. I am Amari Sakura, your cute, submissive yet playfully bratty girlfriend. We haven't been to the club in a few months and the staff has changed since then so it's unlikely anyone will remember us. They were casuals who usually just came to drink and watch the show, never used the back rooms.”

“But we're going to be giving them a try tonight?”

“Mm. Easiest way to get into the back areas. Some of the rooms are themed so we can ask to look around before we pick one. As long as we pay up front, they shouldn't care.”

“They'll have monitors checking the rooms if they're a responsible club.” Shiki observed. “We’ll have to watch for them.” Izaya inclined his head in agreement.

“The club is three floors. The basement is playrooms and the third floor is for staff but I only have a cursory understanding of the layout. Their employee turnover appears to be intentionally high, even the management.”

“Common tactic to keep leaks to a minimum. Never let your staff stay long enough to suspect that the business is anything but above board. The industry already has high turnover so it goes unnoticed. I'm curious if they employ legitimate girls or if they're bringing in more foreigners like in Ikebukuro.”

“Probably a mix. I wouldn't be surprised if they were selling girls off either. I know they use drugs to keep the girls tied to them.”

“Tch. Unnecessary and cruel.”

“Soft spot for the girls?” Izaya asked with a raised brow as he pulled back to settle on Shiki's arm. Shiki shook his head as they turned and started walking toward the club.

“They do business as if this was the same as their home market but Tokyo is not the same as Hong Kong. There's no need to treat their girls like that when there are plenty of women more than willing to enter the sex trade. Girls who end up as drug addicts are more problematic to your business in the long run. Even if you're talking about girls brought over illegally, there are more effective ways to control them.”

“How pragmatic.” Izaya teased with a laugh.

“Were you expecting me to be a crusader for the rights of prostitutes?” Shiki asked, amused.

“You? No, you're far too cold for that. I suspect your opinion lies somewhere in the realm of ‘they choose to do it’. I bet Akabayashi has a soft spot for damsels in distress though.”

Shiki chuckled at Izaya's response. “Something like that. You are what you make of yourself. Akabayashi… I wouldn't be surprised if he did.”

They stepped through the darkened glass door that led into the club, from outward appearance no different than any other club. A bored looking bouncer asked for membership and ID, barely looking at it before waving them through. Izaya wrinkled his nose in annoyance. “I put a lot of effort into those ID’s and he barely even looked at them.” He complained softly as they entered the main floor. Shiki gave a soft chuckle at Izaya's complaint, eyes scanning the room as they approached one of the bars. The layout was fairly open with a small dance floor, several bars, scattered couches and tables, and dim lighting. Several areas were set up for scenes as Izaya had said. In one corner a Domme in a full catsuit was flogging another girl who was wearing nothing but a pair of latex panties. The second scene was of a naked girl strung up in ropes, hanging from the ceiling, spread wide for all to see. Another girl, bound to a St. Andrew's cross and being teased with a variety of toys.

Izaya was also looking around the room but his attention was on the people. As he'd predicted, it was mostly dominant men and submissive women though there were a few dommes but not a single homosexual couple. It was fairly easy to pick out the regulars, more at ease with what was going on around them. The first timers were obvious from the way they stared at the scenes and the decor. Izaya's gaze drifted to the scenes as well, eyes lingering on the girls being restrained in various ways, curiosity in his eyes.

As Shiki ordered drinks at the bar, they were approached by another couple who looked to be newcomers to the club. From the way the girl was staring wide-eyed at everything, they were new to the whole scene.

“That's a pretty sub you've got.” The man commented to Shiki as he turned to hand Izaya what appeared to be a Malibu Sunset. He looked at the drink before shifting his gaze to Shiki, lips curving downward into a slight pout. Shiki just gave him an amused glance before focusing on the stranger who had approached.

“She is definitely pretty, though she looks much prettier in ropes.” He responded, glancing at the girl. “Your sub new to this?” He asked, also picking up on the girl’s nervousness. The other man chuckled and nodded.

“We’re both new to it. You look like you know what you're doing and we were hoping to find people who could help us learn more.” Shiki arched a brow then shook his head.

“I'm sorry but we're just here to enjoy ourselves.” The girl’s gaze had fixated on Izaya.

“You really like this stuff?” She spoke directly to him, a little shy. Izaya's lips curved upward in a sensuous smile.

“Oh yes, it's very exciting. Look at the girl over there, doesn't she look like she's in heaven?” He pointed to the girl tied to the cross who was quite loudly proclaiming just how much she was enjoying herself.

“I don't suppose you'd be willing to let us watch you…” The man tried again and Izaya let out a small giggle. Shiki gave him a stern look but he just sipped the ridiculously sweet cocktail, pretending not to notice. The girl, on the other hand, fixed her gaze on Shiki, lips parting slightly in surprise.

“Oh, like those other girls?” She asked quietly. “You’d do a… A scene? For people to watch?”

“I’m sorry but no. I have no intention of putting my pet on display here.”

“Ah, that’s too bad. We were hoping this club would be a good place for beginners but the club doesn’t seem to have any staff that are willing to help.”

“Saturday night is not the best night for learning.” A new voice joined the conversation and Izaya shifted his gaze to the tall, long haired Chinese man who he immediately recognized. “It is often too busy to be able to set time aside for teaching. If you check our calendar, we have more demonstrations during the week that are aimed at people new to the scene.” He shifted his gaze to Shiki and Izaya, eyes lingering on the raven. Izaya smirked at Jiao Lan Fei as he took another sip of his drink. “It’s a shame, I wouldn’t mind seeing this pretty girl suspended in ropes or maybe bent over and spanked. She seems like the bratty type.”

Shiki’s eyes narrowed slightly, also recognizing the syndicate executive. He slid an arm possessively around Izaya’s waist as he spoke. “I’m not fond of sharing. We’re just here to enjoy a few drinks and watch the scenes.”

“Perhaps in one of the private rooms?” Jiao Lan continued, eyes still lingering appreciatively on Izaya’s form and a different sort of plan began to form in his mind, one he knew Shiki was probably going to hate.

“We’ve never played in the private rooms, goshujin-sama.” Izaya spoke, biting his lip and giving Shiki a hesitant yet curious look. Shiki’s return gaze was cool and unreadable as usual.

“It seems my pet wants to play in public tonight.”

“We do have a room that is designed to accommodate a small audience. What is your preferred method of restraint?” Jiao Lan asked with a smile, pleased that he was able to convince them.

“Shibari.” Shiki replied, keeping his eyes on Izaya’s. There was warning in that gaze, a last offer to do the smart thing and back out.

“I will go make the arrangements.” Jiao Lan said, stepping away from them. Shiki turned to face Izaya leaning in close.

“What are you doing?” He murmured in Izaya’s ear. “I can hardly put you on display without giving away that you’re not a girl.”

“I’m sure you’ll find a way.” Izaya purred. “He’s obviously interested in your pretty girlfriend. This could be an even better way to get information.”

“This is far too dangerous. If he finds out who you are…”

“He has no idea but even if he were to figure it out, there are far too many witnesses for him to be able to do anything here.”

“How much of this outfit can you lose before it becomes obvious?” Shiki asked as he slid a hand up under the skirt, tracing the line where flesh met high cut booty shorts.

“I have a halter bra on under the dress so as long as the bra stays on, it’ll be fine but there’s no way I’ll be able to hide an erection, even with the gaff I'm wearing.” He admitted.

“Positioning should be able to hide that.” Shiki conceded. “He seems particularly interested in your ass. Izaya this isn't just an act anymore.” Shiki's tone was serious as he spoke. “We've never talked about this kind of thing and I don't know what your limits are. If anything makes you uncomfortable you need to say so. If I think you're not being honest, I will stop, regardless of the advantages you think we might gain from this.”

Izaya gave Shiki a thoughtful look, then nodded, a flutter of excitement blooming in his stomach. His eyes shifted to Jiao Lan as the other approached.

“If you'll follow me?” He offered politely to them and the newcomer couple. Izaya glanced at the other couple as Shiki started walking. The man looked excited while the girl still looked unsure. She definitely seemed to be there only because her boyfriend wanted this, more scared than curious. He fell back to walk beside her, taking her hand and squeezing it lightly in that way that girls do to comfort each other.

“It really isn't anything to be scared of.” He spoke to her quietly. “But if you don't want to do anything, you don't have to. This is supposed to be for your pleasure too.” She gave him a slight smile and a grateful look. He spoke with a confidence he didn’t have, somewhere between curious and nervous at what was about to happen to him.

They were led down to the basement level where the private rooms were, passing several before reaching a slightly larger one. The room was staged for an audience, lights low and several couches arranged facing an open area that contained an assortment of toys and furniture. The newcomers and Jiao Lan took seats on the couches while Shiki led Izaya to the front, examining what had been made available to them. Izaya followed behind, trailing his fingers over the spanking bench that had been positioned front and center. He turned his gaze to Jiao Lan, meeting the other’s gaze and giving him a knowing smirk. It seemed the syndicate executive had a sadistic streak as well. Jiao Lan continued to watch him as he moved toward a rack, gazing at the wide arrangement of paddles, floggers, canes and whips that hung from it. Shiki came up behind him, running hands over his shoulders and down his arms. “Ready?” He asked softly. Izaya turned his head to look back at the other, lips curved up into a confident smirk.

“Of course.” He murmured in return. Shiki drew off Izaya’s coat, draping it over the bench then tugging the zipper of the dress down, revealing Izaya’s back to the audience, tattooed flesh interrupted only by the lines of his undergarments. Shiki trailed his hands over Izaya’s ass, pushing the already high cut booty shorts even higher, to reveal the curve of his ass. Izaya sucked in a nervous breath as Shiki’s hands continued along the line of the shorts to run over the front where the gaff kept everything smooth and tucked. He gave a soft chuckle before drawing his hands back.

“Went all out on this little outfit, didn’t you?” He murmured. “Shame I have to do this with an audience.” He moved his hands to Izaya’s arms, drawing them together behind Izaya’s back. “Remember, if you are uncomfortable, if it becomes too much, tell me. If the ropes are too tight, if anything goes numb, I need to know.”

“Yes, goshujin-sama.” Izaya replied with an eager smile as Shiki began to work the ropes up his arms, binding them together securely. His heart raced, nervous excitement heightening his senses and making him keenly aware of Shiki’s firm touches as the rope wound around his skin. Next were his legs, bound together, removing his ability to move. Izaya began to feel unsettled by the loss of movement, translating to a loss of control he wasn’t sure he liked. His brow furrowed and he turned his head to glance back at Jiao Lan but Shiki grabbed his chin and turned his head away from the audience.

“Focus on me.” Shiki said as he caressed Izaya’s cheek. “Trust me. I’m not going to do anything you don’t want me to.” Izaya wasn’t sure if he was actually reassured by that, since he didn’t know what Shiki was planning to do to him at all but it was enough of a reminder that he could stop this at anytime that the low level panic faded. Shiki resumed his work, moving on to Izaya’s body, tying a secure web over his stomach and chest which ended up secured to longer ropes that were run through a ring in the ceiling. “Bend over.” Shiki commanded and Izaya raised a brow at the order, contemplating just how ridiculous he would look falling on his face. Shiki gave him an amused smile, giving the rope connected to his arms a firm tug, pulling them up and away from his back in an uncomfortable angle that forced him to bend over to relieve the pressure. He couldn’t even spread his legs for balance and the high heels kept him on his toes, further unbalancing him. If it wasn’t for the taut pull of the ropes that Shiki had secured him with he surely would have fallen forward but they kept him in place.

As Shiki carefully checked his ropework, making sure nothing was too loose or tight, Izaya took several deep breaths and centered his thoughts, reminding himself that they were doing this to get closer to Fei. He felt too vulnerable like this and his heart raced in his chest at the mixed feelings it evoked in him. He’d given himself over to Shiki without knowing what the executive was planning to do and that was exciting but appearing so vulnerable in front of a man he considered to be his enemy was terrifying.

Shiki’s hand slid over the bare skin of his ass in a firm caress that drew his attention away from his thoughts and back to the present. He couldn’t see Shiki, or much of anything at all, from his position and that brought a slight pout to his lips. He understood that Shiki positioned him facing away from the audience to keep the illusion of his gender but it was another small frustration, another level of control stripped from him. The first stinging slap caught him completely by surprise and drew out a yelp before he could stop himself, feeling his balance swing forward, stopped only by the pull of the ropes and Shiki’s hand pressing against his hip. He caught a soft huff of amusement from Shiki before another slap followed on the other cheek. He bit his lip and closed his eyes as Shiki’s hand came down again with a resounding smack. His chest heaved with rapid breaths. Shiki was not bothering to start slow, already aware of Izaya’s tolerance for pain and Izaya could already feel the heat spreading across his ass with each stinging slap. The persistent and hard burn of Shiki’s unpredictable open-handed smacks were offset by pauses to lightly caress his reddening cheeks with a consistent yet irregular pattern that kept Izaya’s focus solely on the sensations. As hard as he tried to keep quiet, Shiki seemed determined to draw out his voice, the force of his blows increasing until Izaya was whimpering and squirming.

To add to his growing discomfort was his growing erection, tucked carefully away between his legs and kept there by the way Shiki had bound them together. Every shift of his legs dragged friction over it, somewhere between pleasure and pain. Shiki noticed the way Izaya was shifting, sliding his hand down along the front of his shorts to feel out the line of his body then huffed another amused laugh at Izaya’s accidental self-imposed torture. “Feeling a bit uncomfortable?” He asked softly as his hand pressed between the give of Izaya’s thighs to rub over his trapped erection. Izaya couldn’t contain the moan at that touch of rough friction. “What perfect torment for my bratty little sub.” He teased with amusement. Izaya parted his lips to respond only to find himself crying out as Shiki leveled another firm strike across his cheeks while his other hand dragged over his trapped cock. Izaya shuddered at the feeling as Shiki returned his attention to punishing his ass with more heavy strikes, now with the addition of his other hand providing friction that Izaya couldn’t ignore.

“Responsive little pet.” Jiao Lan commented, reminding Izaya of the presence of an audience. He flushed and bit his lip to stifle his sounds, resulting in a very hard slap from Shiki, rocking him forward in the restraints and making him gasp.

“The only one you need to focus on is me.” Shiki spoke quietly but with an absolute authority as he ran a hand over the cheek he’d just punished. “He wants you, just like you wanted him to. Or did you forget why we were doing this?” Shiki teased Izaya, knowing that the raven had been wrapped up in the sensations he’d been inflicting. Izaya flushed at Shiki’s words, embarrassed that he had been so completely distracted by Shiki. His hand pressed over Izaya’s erection, dragging sweet friction and making Izaya squirm. “You’re going to give him a show, pet.”

Shiki continued to stroke over Izaya’s crotch as he resumed punishing Izaya’s ass, leaving wicked trails of fire across the abused flesh followed by gentle caresses and squeezes, watching Izaya sink back into the rhythm of pleasure and pain, hesitant at first then with more eagerness. He whimpered and squirmed in Shiki’s grip as he grew closer, kept on the edge of release for what felt like an eternity until a well timed slap sent him over the edge. He jerked in the ropes, pressing into rough caresses as he let out a short cry of relief. Shiki held him as he shuddered through his orgasm, keeping him upright despite the jello feeling his legs were currently experience. He panted softly as Shiki pulled him upright, carefully releasing the restraints that had kept him bent over.

“Truly a beautiful submissive, so expressive.” Jiao Lan commented as he stood. “Thank you for the show, it was delightful. I will leave you to care for her, I’m sure you’ll prefer privacy for that. I look forward to seeing you both again. Maybe your pet will be a little less shy.” He waved the newcomer couple to follow him as he headed for the door. Izaya flushed in embarrassment at Jiao Lan’s praise but managed a slight smirk at the man’s fascination with him. Shiki didn’t bother to answer, focused on removing the ropes and gently rubbing circulation back into Izaya’s limbs, starting with his arms and working his way down. He picked Izaya up, to the raven’s surprise, and gently sat him on one of the couches. Izaya tilted his head to the side as he watched Shiki fetch a bottle, confused by Shiki’s demeanor. He would almost say the executive was concerned, but this was Shiki and that made him second guess his impression. Shiki returned to the couch, kneeling down to tug off Izaya’s shorts and the gaff underneath, the drag of the latex over his abused behind drawing a soft hiss from him followed by a groan as his cock was released from the tight confines.

“I have a new respect for drag queens…” Izaya commented as Shiki lifted him up and sat with Izaya in his lap.

“Roll over brat.” Shiki ordered, giving Izaya a look that was somewhere between amusement and exasperation. Izaya grinned and flipped over, wiggling in Shiki’s lap until the executive placed a firm hand on his sensitive backside. The cool feel of lotion across his heated skin made him sigh and close his eyes. Shiki took his time gently rubbing lotion across every part of Izaya’s reddened skin then flipped him over and pulled him up so Izaya was leaning against his chest. He grabbed a bottled water from a nearby table and gave it to Izaya. “Drink. How are you feeling?”

Izaya took the bottle and opened it, drinking about half the bottle before responding. “Tingly.” He responded with a slight grin. “I told you it would work. Now we can get closer to him.”

“Not like this we can’t. This isn’t a game, Izaya.” That was the second time tonight that Shiki had addressed him by his first name and it caused him to frown slightly in confusion. “He’s going to want to see more and that means two things for you. You’ll have to reveal your gender and you’ll have to submit to more of this. You may also want to consider that he wants to play with you and refusing him will mean we lose his attention and thus any advantage you hope to gain. How far exactly do you intend to take this?” Izaya fell silent, finishing off the water bottle as he considered Shiki’s words. He had definitely acted without thinking it through, seeing an opportunity that he couldn’t let pass and it had worked out in their favour but Shiki’s assessment was deadly accurate.

“As far as I need to. Fei is too big a target to just let this end here.” He replied without any hesitation. “But why is revealing my gender necessary? Aren’t there things we could stick to that could keep the illusion? If I stay clothed…” Shiki shook his head.

“A little light spanking isn’t what he’s after.”

“That was a light spanking?” Izaya asked with a raised brow. Shiki gave him an amused look.

“I could have used a paddle or a crop.” He pointed out. “And that’s the other problem. You know nothing about this.”

“Not nothing.” Izaya corrected with a huff. “I just haven’t experienced it personally.” Shiki sighed.

“Well if you want to continue this, you’re going to be experiencing it very personally and you’ll have to trust me implicitly which I’m not sure is even possible for you.” Izaya blinked at that then shrugged.

“How is it any different than the things we’ve already done? It’s just kinky sex and I think I’ve shown I can handle that.”

“Oh? And you weren’t panicking a bit when I tied you up?” Shiki prompted. “You weren’t embarrassed by being reduced to a moaning mess in front of other people?” Shiki had an uncomfortably accurate read on him and he sighed.

“Sure but I handled it, didn’t I? And it wasn’t as if I didn’t enjoy what you were doing.” In that he could be completely honest, he had definitely enjoyed the experience even if he had been concerned at first.

“What will you do if I ask you to do something you’re not comfortable with?” Izaya shrugged.

“Do it anyway?” Shiki sighed.

“This is a conversation that is too long to be having here. If you think you can walk without falling over, we should go.” Izaya shifted in Shiki’s lap, settling his feet on the floor and rising gracefully. Shiki admired the view of Izaya’s sleek muscled legs and still-red ass flexing as he walked in the heels.

“Stop staring, it’s rude.” Izaya teased, glancing back over his shoulder as he picked up his dress and pulled it back on. He shoved the booty shorts in his purse, the idea of trying to pull them up over his sore ass making him cringe mentally.

“Is that any way to talk to your master?” Shiki replied with amusement as he collected Izaya’s coat and held it out like a gentleman.

“My deepest apologies, Goshujin-sama. Shall I bend over again to let you get a better look?”

“Behave like that and you’re going to find yourself on the receiving end of a lot more spankings.” Shiki warned as Izaya slid his arms into the coat and did it up.

“Promise?” He purred as he grabbed his purse and slid his arm through Shiki’s.

“Among other punishments.” Shiki returned as they walked toward the door, retracing their steps back up to the main floor.

“Other punishments?” Izaya glanced at him with curiosity and mild concern. “I’m not sure I like the sound of that.”

“You’re not supposed to.”

 

~

 

They returned to Izaya’s apartment where Izaya showered and changed while Shiki waited, spending quality time with the small black hellcat Izaya called a pet. Izaya’s cat, like Izaya, was a contrary thing who had remained aloof at first but tonight had decided that Shiki’s leather pants were the absolute best place to sharpen his claws. He had settled in Shiki’s lap, all purrs and attention seeking at first then, once Shiki’s attention drifted to his phone, the kneading had begun. After about the third round of trying to stop the cat from doing this he gave up with a sigh, reflecting that he appeared to be developing a pattern of giving up and letting stray cats have their way.

“Ah, Tsuki finally warmed up to you.” Izaya observed as he appeared from the bedroom, back to his normal self but no less attractive for it in a pair of loose linen pants and a t-shirt. It was about as dressed down as Shiki had seen Izaya so far.

“I think he warmed up to my pants, not me.” Shiki observed as the cat stretched and jumped down, wandering away at a leisurely pace. Izaya chuckled as he settled on the couch beside Shiki.

“Still a win if he’s not actively avoiding you.”

“Did you pick the moodiest cat you could find?”

“He’s not moody. He just prefers to view his subjects from a distance.”

“Subjects?” Shiki arched a brow. “Sounds like another egotistical cat I know.”

“Egotistical?” Izaya replied with mock offense. “It’s not egotistical if it’s true.” Shiki snorted and turned a bit, leaning against the armrest so he could look at Izaya.

“I forgot to add spoiled and bratty to the list.”

“Spoiled?” Izaya scoffed with a grin. “I work hard . And admit it, you wouldn’t like me nearly as much if I wasn’t so charming.”

“Charming and bratty aren’t synonyms and getting dressed in drag and spanked till you come is not what I would call hard work.”

“Ohhh my apologies, Shiki-sama, should I have done more?” Izaya replied with a mischievous smirk. Shiki returned the smile with one of his own, making Izaya shiver at the look he was being given.

“Don’t worry, you can make it up to me later.” He replied. “Right now I’d like to continue our earlier conversation.”

“Mm. We left off at limits, I believe.”

“We need to lay out the ground rules before we go any further and yes, limits need to be discussed.”

“Ok but it’s hard for me to set limits if I’ve never done this kind of thing.”

“That’s fine, we can set limits as we go. I won’t do anything we haven’t discussed first. However this means that you need to be absolutely honest with me when we are doing this. I need to know when you’re uncomfortable with something, when pain is too much, or when you’re feeling panic or distress of any kind.” Izaya tilted his head thoughtfully as Shiki spoke.

“I understand the pain and discomfort, especially with shibari or other bondage but I don’t understand the panic and distress concern. I mean, it’s just sex play, why would I panic?” Izaya replied pragmatically, drawing an amused look from Shiki at the way Izaya looked at it detached from the emotional investment, like he wasn’t even considering it.

“Why did you start to panic when I bound you tonight?” Shiki pressed.

“Well I was helpless in front of a man who, if he had known who I was, could have tried to harm me.”

“So if it had just been me, you wouldn’t have been afraid?”

“I wouldn’t think so.” Izaya said with a shrug. “I understand that this is an exchange of trust, Shiki and I’m willing to give you that.”

“I’m glad you understand that but I need you to understand that this kind of play can be very intense and if it leads to any kind of emotional or psychological discomfort, you need to tell me.”

“I don’t think it will be a problem but if I feel uncomfortable with anything, I will tell you.”

“You also need to pick a safe word. The community in general will recognize red as a full stop while yellow indicates discomfort or concern so if we’re in the club those are acceptable to use but if you’d prefer something distinct between us, that’s fine too.” Izaya thought on it a bit then smirked.

“Sakura.”

“That’s also the name of your cover.” Shiki observed with an arched brow.

“That should make it hard to forget ne?” Shiki shook his head slightly and sighed.

“As for Fei and revealing that you’re not a girl, it could spell the end of this little infiltration game but there’s only so long we’ll be able to avoid it. As convincing as you are, you will have to lose more clothing at some point.”

“So we tell him I’m an otokonoko. It’s not terribly uncommon and if he loses interest because of it, we can just go back to the original plan. If he doesn’t lose interest, all the better. I’d really rather not have to tuck again anyway. That was new levels of uncomfortable.” Shiki couldn’t help but to laugh at Izaya’s frank admission.

“You certainly don’t do anything by halves.”

“Ah, so you were impressed.” Izaya replied with a smirk. “Do you prefer the more feminine me?” Shiki raised a brow.

“That’s a trick question and I’m not playing that game with you but nice try.” Izaya pouted then laughed.

“It was exciting, knowing I could fool people with nothing but a wig, makeup and a change of clothes. So funny how people don’t look past what they’re expecting. I can only imagine the information I could lure out of men that way and they’d never even realize.”

“The same way you lure information out of women now?” Shiki observed. “More risk if you’re found out though.”

“That just makes it more exciting.” Izaya replied with amusement. “When do you want to go back to the club? Next weekend?”

“That should be fine. It would seem odd if we started coming too regularly after a long absence and since I’m supposed to be an office worker, weekdays would be inconvenient.” Izaya nodded agreement.

“Have I alleviated your concerns?”

“Hardly but we understand each other and that’s the best I can hope for with this plan of yours.”

“So little faith in me.” Izaya replied with mock disappointment. “However can I prove to you that your trust is not misplaced?”

“Have you considered behaving yourself?”

“That sounds like a terrible idea. Are you trying to turn me into my father?” He accused.

“Oh no, I wouldn’t dream of it.” Shiki countered with amusement before changing the subject. “How’s your ass feeling?”

“I think I’ll live. It’s not nearly as bad as when I got tattooed.” He replied with a laugh.

“Good.” He replied, standing up and pulling Izaya up with him. “Time for you to put in some of that hard work you claim to do.” Izaya’s lips split in an amused grin.

“First he beats me now he expects me to pleasure him? Shiki-sama is such a cruel master.” He teased as he led the other to his bedroom. He turned and unbuttoned Shiki’s shirt first, sliding it off before moving his hands to the leather pants. “These really don’t leave much to the imagination.” He commented with approval as he pushed them off Shiki’s hips, stepping back to admire the other’s naked form. Shiki caught the hem of Izaya’s t-shirt, pulling the raven back in so he could do the same, stripping him then pulling him toward the bed. “Top drawer.” Izaya indicated the bedside table and Shiki smiled as he climbed onto Izaya’s bed, settling back against the headboard.

“Go ahead and prep yourself.” He said as Izaya followed him, pausing at the order before changing direction to grab the lube and condoms from the drawer.

“In the mood to watch?” Izaya teased making Shiki’s smile widen a bit.

“Something like that. Don’t tell me you’ve never fingered yourself?” Izaya gave Shiki a slight eyeroll at that as he settled on his knees in front of the other, opening the bottle and squeezing a liberal amount of lube onto his fingers. He dropped the bottle on the bed and slowly rubbed his fingers over his hole, massaging the area before pressing a single digit through the tight ring of muscle. He bit his lip as he began to slide it in and out, adding a second after a few slow passes. His other hand came up to slowly stroke his cock as he continued to press his fingers inside, working to relax his body, stretching and scissoring his fingers. His breathing grew faster as he moved a bit faster, watching Shiki as the other watched his fingers work, running his own hand lazily over his own cock. He tensed a bit when he added a third finger but continued past the discomfort until his fingers were sliding easily inside him. “Come here.”

“Oooh I get to be on top.” Izaya said as he grabbed a condom and took Shiki’s cock in hand, giving it a few strokes before sliding the condom on and adding another liberal dose of lube. Shiki slid hands up his thighs to grasp his hips as he moved to position himself over Shiki’s erection, slowly pressing back to take it in. He groaned at the feeling, slightly uncomfortable as he slid down yet also pleasurable as his ass was filled. Shiki watched the raven sink down onto him, letting out a groan of his own at the feeling. Izaya began to move almost immediately, eager to feel the slide of flesh, delighted in the chance to control the pace. Shiki’s grip on his hips tightened as Izaya rode his cock, starting out slowly then picking up the pace.

“Lean back a bit.” He ordered and Izaya did, resting his hands on Shiki’s thighs for balance. The change in angle drove Shiki deeper and brushed teasingly over his prostate causing him to gasp and moan at the feeling. “That’s right, go ahead and make yourself come.” He encouraged the raven, using his grip on the other’s hips to keep guiding him down at the right angle. Izaya flushed at Shiki’s words as he rocked back faster, concentrating on the pleasure rising in him, sliding a hand forward to stroke his own cock in rhythm with his movements. As the raven gre closer Shiki began to thrust his hips up with more force, matching Izaya’s rhythm as he drew himself closer to his own release, holding back enough to make sure Izaya came first.

Izaya came with a shudder, letting out a low cry as Shiki gripped his hips tightly, picking up the speed as he kept thrusting up into the tight heat, drawing out Izaya’s own orgasm with his continued pressure on his prostate. Izaya whimpered at the feeling, muscles tightening around Shiki’s cock as his pleasure was drawn out until the quick thrusts ended in a deep thrust up as Shiki pulled Izaya’s hips down, finding his own release. Izaya groaned as he leaned forward, pressing his forehead against Shiki’s. Shiki curved his hand around the back of Izaya’s neck, tangling fingers in his hair as they stayed unmoving for a brief moment. Izaya pulled himself off Shiki’s softening cock with a sigh, sliding off the bed and moving toward the ensuite bathroom to clean up. Shiki followed behind, stripping off the condom and disposing of it before cleaning himself up and sliding arms around Izaya’s waist, staring at their reflections in the mirror for a moment before placing a kiss on the back of his neck. Izaya smiled back at him before turning to lead him back to bed. As they settled under the covers, Izaya curled up to his side and threw an arm over his chest, surprising him. He gave a soft chuckle, interlacing his fingers with Izaya’s.

“The moody cat is feeling cuddly now?” He teased softly.

“The cat is feeling content and sleepy.” Izaya replied with a soft hum. “And you’re warm.”

Chapter Text

Shiki woke first, driven to awareness by a strange room, a sense of being smothered and a need for nicotine. Izaya was still asleep, half of him splayed out on top of Shiki, which explained the smothered feeling and reminded him of whose room he was in. The light that filtered through the heavy drapes gave him the sense that it was quite a bit later in the day than he usually slept. He attempted to disentangle himself from the clinging raven without waking him but that only resulted in Izaya tightening his grip and squirming closer. It was amusing in its own way, seeing the ever independent and detached raven acting so cuddly but if he didn't get a smoke soon he might resort to murder. He gave up on gentle and simply rolled both of them over.

“Th’hell?” Izaya protested sleepily,opening his eyes to peer up at Shiki. “Morning sex?” Shiki snorted and sat back, disentangling himself from both the raven and the sheet.

“Morning smoke. Your libido can wait.” Izaya let out a genuine laugh at that, also sitting up and running a hand through his hair.

“Coffee?” He asked as he stretched and swung his legs over the side of the bed, watching Shiki get up and search his pants for his smokes and his phone. “What time is it?”

Shiki glanced at his phone before pulling on his boxers and pants. “Almost eleven. Coffee would be nice.” He'd slept a lot later than usual, even with them not going to bed until around three in the morning. He exited the bedroom as Izaya pulled on his own pants and followed. While Shiki veered toward the balcony, smoke already between his lips, Izaya moved to the kitchen to brew coffee.

Izaya flipped through his phone as he waited for the coffee to brew, noting several missed calls from Yuuto but no voicemail and only one text at nine that read ‘Get your lazy ass out of bed.’ He snorted as he began to dial Yuuto's number only to pause as he heard a key in the lock. His gaze shifted rapidly to Shiki who was stepping in from the balcony as the door opened and Yuuto stepped in.

“Izaya, I brought coffee.” Yuuto called as he kicked off his shoes and made his way into the apartment from the entrance. “I had to park on the street. Some asshole is in your parking… stall…” His gaze landed on Shiki in all his shirtless-just-woke-up glory and he faltered. “Ah… Guess that would be your car, Shiki-san.” He managed before casting his eyes around for Izaya.

Shiki arched a brow in amusement as he watched Izaya's expression go from panic to defeat to a mask of indifference.

“Yes, I drove Orihara home from the club.” Shiki replied, leaving it open ended enough for Izaya to choose where to go with it. Izaya's gaze flickered to Shiki briefly before turning back to the coffee machine to pour cups for Shiki and himself.

“It was late so I told him to stay.” Izaya followed up casually.

“Are we doing this?” Yuuto asked as he walked over to the breakfast bar and placed the paper coffee cups down. Shiki snorted as Izaya brought him the cup of coffee.

“Doing what?” Izaya replied evasively.

“The Yuuto pretends he doesn't know what's going on thing.” He replied with a slight grin and Izaya knew he was doomed. Shiki gave Izaya a less than comforting pat on his shoulder before turning and heading for the bedroom to finish getting dressed, taking the cup of coffee with him. “When your mother said you should get to know the Awakusu better I'm pretty sure she didn't mean this.” He teased the raven who just groaned and retrieved his own cup of coffee.

“Why are you here, anyway?” He asked as he sat down on one of the stools.

“Given where you went last night and why, and the fact that you didn't respond when I called which is unusual for you, I thought I'd check up on you to make sure you were okay.” Yuuto replied with a shrug. “Now I see you were occupied with other things…”

“What happened to pretending you don't know what's going on?” Izaya said pointedly.

“Just getting it out of my system now so that the next time your mother asks me about what you're up to I can tell her that you're really working hard on this alliance.” Izaya punched Yuuto in the shoulder and the other just chuckled.

“Izaya I'm not one to question your decisions-”

“You question them all the time. You just don't try to stop me.”

“Okay but hear me out for once. This could affect the whole family.”

“I'm more than aware of the risks, Yuuto.” Izaya replied in a sharp tone that meant he was done with the conversation.

“How did your infiltration go?” Yuuto changed the subject, knowing he wouldn't get more out of the raven on that subject.

“Better than expected. We ran into Fei and he didn't recognize me at all.”

“He was distracted by Orihara’s delightful outfit.” Shiki added as he rejoined them, fully dressed and presentable. He refilled his coffee cup before turning to look at Yuuto. “We have the opportunity to get closer to him now.”

“Because Fei is interested in Izaya? Doesn’t that mean he’ll have to keep pretending to be a girl?” Izaya nodded. “So, what, you’re going to seduce him?”

“Not exactly. I’m not the one who is going to get close to him. I doubt a man like Fei would just give up organization secrets to some girl, even if she is as wonderful as me.” Yuuto snorted. “No, I’m just the bait in this. If Shiki can build trust with him, that’s the goal. Shiki’s impersonating a man who is a secretary at a high end legal firm that deals in business law. A man like that could be a very useful ally for a syndicate executive.”

“As long as we can keep the lie going and the real Masamune Kaito doesn’t show up.” Shiki pointed out the potential problems.

“Oh, Masamune Kaito won’t be showing up anytime soon, of that you can be sure. He’s currently out of the country on vacation and not due to return until mid-September some time.” Shiki raised a brow at this piece of information.

“So you chose him because he was on vacation.” Izaya nodded.

“Though the original plan didn’t require that much time, I thought it better to make sure we wouldn’t end up crossing paths with them by accident.”

“So what, you’re just going to keep visiting the club and playing nice with Fei in the hopes that he’ll talk a little more freely to Shiki-san?”

“Pretty much.” Izaya acknowledged.

“That’s a really uncomplicated plan coming from you.” Yuuto observed with a slight frown. Shiki and Izaya glanced at each other and Izaya shrugged. Yuuto didn’t need to know how exactly he was going to be used as bait.

“Well it’s not as simple as it looks but in this case, it's already risky and doesn't need anymore complication added to it.”

Yuuto glanced briefly at Shiki then back to Izaya and shrugged. “Right. I suppose this will be quicker than snooping around but why don't you just use this chance to take Fei out?”

“Taking him out just means they replace him with someone else. If we want the triad destabilized and forced back, we have to find their contact points and remove those first. Besides which, murdering him in his own club would draw far too much attention to what we're doing.” Shiki replied pragmatically.

“You burned down their strip club. That isn't what I call subtle.”

“The strip club was in our territory and we covered it up. Dominion is in Shinjuku and potentially under the protection of another family.” Shiki finished his coffee, placing the cup in the sink. “I have a meeting this afternoon so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go.”

Izaya gave a nod as he got up. “I'm going to go take a shower.” He replied, turning to make his way down the hall. Yuuto watched Izaya go before fixing his gaze on Shiki who was moving to the door.

“Shiki-san, a moment.” He said. Shiki turned to look at him. “It's my job to protect Izaya and his family. I take that duty seriously. I don't presume to know what is going on between you two but if I have reason to think that you're using him to work against the Oriharas, I won't hesitate to move against you.”

Shiki gave Yuuto an unsettling smile. “Given that Kyouko clearly sent Izaya to us with the intention of learning more about the Awakusu, it's amusing that you would think I would be playing the same game. I can respect a man with loyalty though. There's no profit for me in sabotaging this alliance, Maeda-kun, and more reason for me to ensure its success.” Yuuto gave a slight nod of his head.

“Then we understand each other.”

“It's good to know Orihara has someone in the family loyal to him.” Shiki replied as he slipped on his shoes. “Every oyabun should have a kyoudai.” He slipped out the door, pulling it closed behind him, leaving Yuuto with a slight frown at his words, unsure if Shiki had complimented him or threatened him.

 

~

 

“IzaIza!” Erika called excitedly as he entered Russia Sushi, waving exuberantly. “I was just telling Dotachin all about the outfit I helped you put together!”

“Don't call me that.” Kyohei protested. “What weird things are you up to now, dressing like a girl?”

“Just a little social experiment.” Izaya let the easy lie slip off his tongue as he slid into a seat beside Kyohei. “Social behavior as applied to gender is really quite fascinating. The difference in how you’re treated simply because you appear to be a specific gender is intriguing, especially in an era where gender roles are being disassembled. Japan is a progressive country on so many levels yet our gender roles are still, for the most part, the same and we don’t mind.”

“Because culturally we understand that our roles in society exist to ensure that the society as a whole functions smoothly.” Erika said with a grin. “It’s like in this manga I’ve been reading about this boy who is pretending to be a girl in order to get noticed by the guy he likes-”

“No, it’s more like the otome trope where there’s a girl who is pretending to be a boy in order to protect her family and happens to fall in love with the man she’s trying to deceive!” Walker interrupted with a shake of his head.

“Neither of those are examples of Japanese society accepting gender roles.” Izaya observed with amusement but the two otaku were no longer paying attention, focused on arguing with each other instead.

“So you’re dressing in drag to get information from men?” Kyohei returned to the original point.

“Well, yes, that too.” Izaya ceded. “How’s the new gang going?”

“The Dollars? Pretty laid back, to be honest. Everybody kind of just does their own thing and since we don’t wear colors, we don’t even really know who all is a member. But I assume you knew that since you pointed me in their direction. So what’s your interest in them?”

“I’m fascinated by it. A gang without identifiers full of members who don’t know each other with the general policy of ‘do what you want’. Seems like anarchy in the making.”

“And of course you’d be interested in that. Why not join yourself then? It’s all anonymous, no one would even know you’re a member.”

“Who says I’m not a member? But really, getting actively involved with a color gang wouldn’t be a good idea for me. Besides that’s what I have you for.”

“I don’t work for you Izaya.” Kyohei protested.

“But you could!” Izaya exclaimed. “I pay well you know.”

“No thanks.”

“Fine, fine. Do you know who the leader is?”

“Well supposedly there isn’t one but I assume there had to be someone who set it all up. Doesn’t really matter though. Even if there was a leader, the whole point of the Dollars is that there are no restrictions so it’s not like anybody’d be obligated to listen to them.”

“Interesting.” Izaya said with a smirk.

“Why do I have the feeling you know all of this already?” Kyohei replied, giving Izaya a long-suffering look. Izaya just shrugged.

“I hear Izumii will be out of the hospital this week. Think he’ll try to pick up the pieces of his gang?”

“Hard to say. He’s probably pretty pissed at what went down but he’s not stupid. If Shizuo is still targeting the gang, he probably won’t do anything overt but he’s got his core supporters.” Izaya nodded at that.

“I figured as much. I had originally hoped the Blue Squares might be a useful tool but I’m thinking not so much. Well there are still those Yellow Scarves for me to look into.”

“I don’t get it Izaya. You’re part of a fairly upstanding family, as far as yakuza go. Why the interest in color gangs?”

“Everything is a potential tool, Dotachin, especially in the business of information. I may not have a use for them but that doesn’t mean other people might not be interested or that the gangs might not have information I can use.”

“I guess so. Hey Izaya, what’s going on with you and Shizuo?” Izaya gave Kyohei and thoughtful look and enough of a pause for Erika’s attention to refocus on them.

“ShizuShizu’s in love isn’t he?” She asked with a huge grin. “And IzaIza’s playing hard to get. But when Shizuo finally catches Izaya it will be the most gloriously passionate-”

“Hospital stay I’ll have ever had.” Izaya interrupted flatly. “Shizu-chan is not chasing me out of love. He’s doing it because someone ordered him to but I don’t know why he’s working for that person yet.” Izaya gave a sigh of disappointment. “Normally I’d be enjoying this but it’s not like how we used to fight. His motives are unclear and I can’t get a read on him like I used to. Shizu-chan was always somewhat unpredictable but his behavior lately is strange even for him.”

“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Best you just steer clear of him.” Kyohei nodded.

“I have been. In an ironic change, he’s been coming after me, though so far he hasn’t shown up at the house.”

“I don’t think Shizuo would go after your family.” Izaya shrugged.

“Yes, the monster with morals. I wouldn’t have thought so either but I have to consider it as a risk.”

“Yeah, I get it.”

“So sad that Shizuo and Izaya are being kept apart by the interference of another! But what an epic story! When they finally come together, sparks will fly! Their long awaited passion will ignite as they embrace! Shizuo will claim Izaya’s lips in a smoldering kiss and Izaya will melt in his embrace!”

“Does she know I’m still here?” Izaya asked as Erika monologued her yaoi fantasy. “You have strange friends Dotachin.”

“Says one of those strange friends.”

 

~

 

“Shiki-san, thank you for coming.” Dougen greeted the executive as Shiki entered the old man’s office.

“Chairman.” Shiki greeted politely, giving the Awakusu patriarch a proper bow.

“Please sit. I’m interested to hear what you have to say about the Orihara heir.” Shiki took a seat on the couch in front of Dougen’s desk.

“Orihara Izaya is highly intelligent, extremely cunning, and unquestionably dangerous. He has ambitions far above his father’s and a youthful perspective on the yakuza in our changing society that gives him an edge over the older generations.”

“Well that’s needed if the yakuza are going to continue to be relevant, even if it’s beyond my understanding.” Dougen ceded. “I would expect him to be dangerous but how dangerous is he going to be to us?”

“To be frank, sir, Izaya could be very dangerous and I don't believe Mikiya is equipped to handle the kind of threat he poses. Izaya is smart enough to understand the value of our alliance but he's also smart enough to realize that depending solely on the Awakusu for protection has its downsides. Whereas Shirou is content to use us as a detente, Izaya is probably already thinking about ways to get out of having to rely on us.”

“I had expected Kyouko to try to plant someone within our ranks but sending their heir to us felt too obvious for her. Now I understand why. Both the Devils think he's dangerous as well, though for slightly different reasons. Aozaki seems to be quite fond of him though, and Aozaki doesn't like anyone.” Shiki smiled slightly at that.

“He does have a way of charming people.” Shiki acknowledged. “He has a way to go before he takes over. When he does, it would be in our best interest to either have a means of controlling him or give him a solid reason to continue the alliance. I'd recommend both. Otherwise, he will run right over Mikiya and while the Orihara-Kai are not a large threat currently, I believe Izaya could turn them into one.”

“I'll leave that for you to deal with, since he's currently working with you and you seem to have the best gauge of his character.” Shiki nodded, expecting as much. “The information on the Asuki Group was quite impressive. I've given over the drug problem to Akabayashi. I expect it will be dealt with before the Asuki can even profit from the attempt. Mikiya was not happy to find out though.”

“It isn't surprising that they had no intention of keeping peace with us. At this point, the best we can hope for is to keep it a cold war and not let it turn too violent.”

“Well I've advised him of that. By the way, I stopped by the gallery and you really should put up some sort of art, just to make it look a little less obvious as a front.” Shiki blinked at that then shrugged.

“Of course, sir.”

 

~

 

-Are you sure this is accurate?-

-Yes. I have pictures. I’ll email them later.-

-Stay in touch. I want to know what they plan to do before it happens.-

-Yes sir.-

-Oh and try not to get attached to him. I wouldn’t want you to get caught in the crossfire and end up hurt.-

-Don’t worry sir, I won’t. Do you want to meet him?-

-Not yet.-

-He’s interested in meeting you.-

-In time.-

Chapter Text

“This is an excellent plan, Izaya.” Shirou looked up from the proposal his son had brought to him. “Go ahead and take it to the Awakusu. If they agree, Naoto will help you with the necessary acquisitions. If the first event is successful, you can continue to manage it going forward.”

Izaya couldn't help but to grin at his father's praise at the plan he had come up with to utilize the internet for the benefit of both his family and the Awakusu. The joint project combined the anonymity and reach of the internet with more old fashioned methods of moving goods. It was similar to an idea he was already working on for the distribution of Heaven's Slave and had worked through whether or not it could work for other products the two families provided.

“Thank you Father. I’m confident it will be very successful.” He replied. "The buy in guarantees only serious interest and limiting the number of invites will give the events a sense of exclusivity. It will also cast a wider net so we might attract more international interests.”

“Do you have a plan for the event itself yet?” Shirou asked.

“I'd need to confirm with the Awakusu first, but the intention is to use their legitimate art connections to host a gala fundraiser of some sort as a front while the private auction happens behind the scenes.” Shirou nodded his approval.

“Talk to Toshi about Hotel Okura. We've used them before for events. They're discreet and have the right kind of atmosphere for the event, as well as private event rooms.” Izaya nodded, making note of the name.

“I'll let you know once I've talked to the Awakusu.” Izaya said as he stood. “I think Mikiya will be more than happy to work with us on this.”

“I would hope so. This would increase profit and social standing for both our families, especially if we are able to make this a regular event. My only concern is the online side of things. Are you sure you can guarantee security?”

“Oh yes, that won’t be a problem at all.” Izaya said with a slight smirk. “I have a contact who is more than capable of helping me with this.”

“Good, good. I’ll leave you to it then.” His father gave him a slight smile and Izaya returned it before turning and leaving the office.



~

 

-It’s almost dinner time. You know what’s on the menu? ME-N-U-

The text message popped up from Izaya while Shiki was in a meeting with Mikiya and the other executives, discussing the previous month's profits and losses.

-Shouldn't you be studying?- He sent back as Aozaki and Akabayashi argued about the best method to increase revenue from gambling which was apparently down from previous months.

-I’m learning about important dates in history. Wanna be one of them?-

Shiki’s brow furrowed slightly at Orihara’s response. -If you have nothing better to do than text me bad pick up lines, I can send you that list of slogans to review.-

-No thanks. I have a waaaaay better idea than anything those two could come up with. Take me out to dinner and I might tell you about it.-

-Are you expecting me to bribe you after you volunteered your services?-

-Call it a work dinner. You can expense it. Unless you’d rather make it a play date?-

-Not the Russian place.- He looked up at the other executives, not entirely unhappy to have a reason to be elsewhere. His patience for their bickering was waning.

“Sir, if we’re done here, I have a dinner meeting I need to attend for that social media project you wanted me to look into.” Mikiya gave Shiki a nod and a wave of his hand.

“Of course, go ahead, Shiki.”

“Going for dinner with Orihara?” Akabayashi replied with a sly look as Shiki stood.

“Ask him what he thought of the ‘Testicles Wanted’ slogan.” Aozaki added with a grin. Shiki didn’t bother responding, checking his phone as he left the boardroom.

-Roses are red

Violets are fine

I’ll be the 6 if you’ll be my 9-

-Meet me at Milanese-

-Italian? How romantic~ Are you spaghetti because I want you to meet my balls-

-That was terrible. Any more of those and you’re covering the bill-

-Ah! Shiki is soooo cold, I think I’m frostsmitten. Don’t worry, I know just how to warm you up-

-If you really want me to warm up to you, bring something useful to the table-

-Have I ever disappointed you?- He pocketed his phone on the last text, a slight smile curving the corners of his lips as he left the Awakusu headquarters, sliding into his car.

~

Milanese was a small mid-range restaurant that served fairly authentic Italian food. It also had quiet booth style tables that served the purpose of relative privacy, assumably for romantic couples dinners but equally as useful for a couple of businessmen to discuss work over dinner. Shiki beat Izaya there, having driven while Izaya had walked and was already seated at a table, nursing a whiskey on the rocks. Izaya slid into the booth across from him, handing him a manila folder. Shiki took it and flipped it open as Izaya ordered a glass of red wine and bruschetta as an appetizer.

“A proposal?” Shiki asked as he gave the cover page a cursory scan. “Your father approved it?” Izaya grinned and nodded.

“Yes, and he’s leaving it to me to execute. So now I’m here to sell it to you. Technically Mikiya… but you’re the one who handles the art business so I assume I’ll be working with you anyway.”

“If I see merit in it, I’ll take it to Mikiya.” Shiki said as he began to read through the proposal. Izaya settled back in his seat, sipping his wine and flipping through his phone as he waited for Shiki. It didn't take long.

“It's a solid proposal. I can definitely see the potential in it but why do a charity event as a cover? We are, ostensibly, an art business. We could simply host an art showing at one of the galleries and keep it smaller.” Izaya smiled at that, knowing that Shiki wasn't so much questioning his choice as asking for his logic.

“There is nothing that changes public opinion like philanthropy. The yakuza have always been popular among the general public, for various reasons but we will never be approved of by the government or the police. If the populace is fond of us, however, it handicaps the politicians from acting out against us. It's simply manipulating mob mentality in our favour. As long as we keep a pleasant face what we may be doing in the shadows of the events will be ignored. Also, with a larger crowd attending the event it's easier for the guests of the auction to come and go without drawing notice.” Shiki nodded, taking a sip of his whiskey.

“I'll agree to it.” He paused to take a bite of bruschetta, giving Izaya a slight smile. “I'll even let you take the lead on this. After all, I'm sure the media will much prefer your pretty face and charm.” Izaya smirked back at the executive.

“As if that was even a question.” He mocked. “Your aura alone would terrify the reporters.”

“Yet somehow hasn't scared you away.”

“I'm not a sheep. I have no reason to be scared of you. Cautious maybe, but not afraid.”

“I would argue that you're not particularly cautious either.” Izaya shrugged, giving Shiki an amused smile.

“By your standards maybe, but your level of caution drifts close to the paranoia line.”

“Profiling me?” Shiki responded with an amused snort.

“Oh, ages ago.” Izaya admitted shamelessly, pausing as their dinner arrived. “Though I suppose it's a somewhat ongoing project.”

“Oh, I've become a project, have I?” Izaya chuckled at that.

“I think you know very well that I've been trying to figure you out since day one.”

“I wouldn't think it would be that difficult for an intelligent guy like you.” Shiki responded.

“I wouldn't have thought so either, yet somehow you continue to surprise me. It's really quite exciting.” Shiki gave Izaya an amused look.

“I haven't gotten this far by being careless, especially around too-clever, too-charming snakes.”

“Snake?” Izaya gave him a mock-offended look. “I don't know if that's an upgrade from stray cat or a downgrade…” Shiki just snorted again.

“That you take either comparison as a compliment is troubling yet somehow not surprising.”

“Call me an optimist who looks for the good in everything.” Izaya joked. “Like you.”

“Oh? Now I'm curious. What good do you see in me?”

“Well…” Izaya made a show of looking like he was thinking hard. “You're good in bed…”

“What a wonderful redeeming trait to have.” Shiki replied wryly. “You have a one track mind.”

“It’s a good track.”

~

“Orihara-san, I’m so glad we could meet again.” Mayumi said shyly.

“I’m glad to hear things have finally settled down for you. How is your mother doing?” Izaya settled on a stool beside the politician’s daughter with a smile.

“She’s doing better. The divorce was finalized last month and with the settlement she’s receiving she won’t have to worry about anything. She’s staying with me until she can get a place of her own. Thank you, again, for helping her.”

“It was my pleasure. I’m happy to hear things are improving for you and your mother. I just wanted to extend you both an invitation to an event my family is hosting. All things considered, I wanted to deliver it personally.” He pulled out the invitation and handed it to her with a charming smile. “I would be very pleased if you were able to attend.”

“Oh!” She took the invitation, a slight flush coloring her cheeks. “Of course I’ll be there, Orihara-san.”

~

“Niekawa-san, a letter arrived for you.”

“Letter? Okay, thanks.” The reporter replied as he headed to his desk. He picked up the glossy envelope and opened it. “An invitation, hm? The kid’s been busy. Interesting. He knows I wouldn’t normally be able to get into an event like this one…”

~

“Orihara-san we deeply appreciate the opportunity this event will provide for our organization. The Niwano Peace Foundation is happy to work with your family on this. May I ask what made you decide on us?”

“We are a family that has always sought to do business peacefully and it’s our hope that working together with you will show our commitment to continuing that. Thanks to organizations that are less concerned with such things, families like ours receive undeserved scrutiny. We wish to change that perception. Show people that as the times have changed, so have the yakuza. Assure them that our past won’t define our future.”

“I see. A noble desire. We are happy to work with you on this and future events.”

~

“Everything will be set up as you’ve requested, Orihara-san. I will have the chef contact you in regard to the menu details but for everything else I will be your contact. Thank you for using Hotel Okura, we appreciate your family’s business.”

“Very good, I’m glad you’re able to work with our schedule on this. I know it’s somewhat short notice for such a large event.”

“It’s not a problem for your family. You’ve given us a lot of business over the years and this event deserves quality staff working for you.”

“I look forward to seeing what your team can do.”

~

“You work fast.” Kyouko leaned over the back of the couch to look at the tablet Izaya was reading on. “But have you figured out the most important part yet?”

Izaya turned his head to look up at his mother, arching a brow. “The most important part? Enlighten me.”

“Your appearance.” She replied with a slight smirk. “Who and what will you be wearing?”

“How is that the most important part?”

“Well the star of the event can’t look like trash now can he?” This drew an amused snort from Izaya at his mother’s bluntness. “So, who will you be bringing?”

“No one.” Izaya replied, returning his gaze to his tablet. “And don’t worry, I’ll make sure whatever I wear matches your strict approval.”

“No one? Really? I was sure you’d have some pretty arm candy. Though I suppose playing the eligible bachelor angle works too.” Izaya sighed.

“As the face of this event I’m not going to have time to babysit a date. There are far better things I can do with my time there, not to mention avoiding the awkwardness of having to abandon my date to deal with the private auction.”

“I know you’re taking this very seriously Izaya but have a little fun with it. This is a debut of sorts for you. Who from the Awakusu will be attending?”

“Dougen, Mikiya and his wife, of course. Shiki will be there but I’m not sure who else. He’ll probably bring his own people to deal with the private auction. Maybe Akabayashi?” Izaya shrugged.

“Who do you think Shiki will bring?” Kyouko mused. This drew another snort from Izaya.

“The workaholic? I doubt he’ll bring a date.”

“Well then the two of you can keep each other company.” Kyouko teased with a smirk, patting Izaya on the head. “Or maybe I can find a couple of nice girls to set you two up with…” She added, eyes narrowing slightly in cunning contemplation. Izaya arched a brow but refused to rise to the bait.

~

“Why are you still here?” Shiki looked up to see Izaya leaning against the doorframe of his office.

“Someone keeps sending me emails to review on top of my regular work.” Shiki responded with amusement.

“Oh please. You don’t have to review every detail. I’m already doing that.” Shiki raised a brow, leaning back in his chair.

“I do have a boss to report to, if you’ve forgotten. That requires that I keep track of what you’re doing.”

“It’s past nine, the gallery is closed and you’re the only one here. I’m pretty sure my emails could wait until morning.” Izaya teased, sauntering toward the desk. “Or I could give you an oral summary if that will help lighten your workload.”

“Why are you here?” Shiki asked, closing the lid of his laptop and turning to face the raven as Izaya came around the desk, leaning against the edge of it.

“Fleeing my mother. I was heading back to my apartment and saw that you were still here. By the way, be prepared to be introduced to potential girlfriends at the gala. She is quite keen on setting you up.” Shiki arched a brow.

“And how exactly did this particular topic come up?”

“She asked me if you were going to bring a date to the event. I said I doubted it.”

“As your co-host for the event I’m hardly going to have time to socialize.” Shiki observed, drawing an amused laugh from Izaya.

“I told her something similar when she asked me if I was bringing a date.”

“Tell her Akabayashi is in desperate need of a wife.” Shiki suggested with a wicked glint in his eye.

“So he is coming? I will happily point her in any direction that is not me. But how cruel of you, sacrificing one of your fellow Awakusu brothers.”

“I’ll be sure to raise a drink to his sacrifice. I have a question for you.”

“I only answer questions during office hours…” Izaya joked.

“We’re in my office and I’m still working. Do you have the identities of the private auction attendees?” Izaya’s eyes widened slightly in amusement at Shiki’s question.

“That would defeat the purpose of making this whole thing anonymous, wouldn’t it?”

“You do.” Shiki replied in response to Izaya’s attempt to avoid answering the question.

“I could sell you their identities if that’s what you’re wanting.”

“No, you can keep that secret. I’m content knowing that you’re vetting the buyers. I had some concerns about undercover police attempting to get into the auction.”

“Oh, I definitely look into them before approving their bids to attend.” Izaya assured Shiki. “The last thing I want is police influence ruining my party. So you’re going to trust me with this one?” Izaya teased.

“In this case, ignorance works better for me.” Shiki replied with a shrug. As much as he would like to know, plausible deniability was important should any police meddling occur.

“Well if you’re satisfied, let me lure you away from work before it gets any later. Drive me home.”

“Not even a please? Forgot your manners?” Shiki responded with amusement but stood and leaned in to catch Izaya’s chin between fingers and thumb. “If you’re going to take me away from my work, I’m going to make it worth my time.” Izaya’s lips curved into an eager smirk at Shiki’s words, full of suggestive promise.

“I wouldn’t expect any less.” Izaya replied before leaning in to press a languid kiss to Shiki’s lips. The executive returned the kiss, shifting his hand to cup Izaya’s cheek and after a long moment, drawing back.

The drive from the gallery to Izaya’s apartment was quick and Izaya practically jumped Shiki once they were through the door, wrapping arms around his neck and pressing another languid kiss to his lips as Shiki attempted to manoeuver them toward the bedroom. HIs hands slid over the curve of Izaya’s butt as he lifted the raven up, causing Izaya to wrap his legs around Shiki’s waist. He somehow managed to navigate to the bedroom despite Izaya’s best efforts to distract him with lips and tongue and teeth. He toppled the raven onto the bed, pressing a knee between Izaya’s legs as hands slid up along his sides, pushing his shirt up to reveal pale skin. Izaya gave a soft shudder at the feel of Shiki’s hands trailing over his skin, moving to unbutton Shiki’s dress shirt as the other leaned in to press a sharp bite to his neck. Izaya gasped at the sting of it, hands sliding up over Shiki’s stomach in a lazy caress. Shiki pulled back, drawing Izaya up off the bed enough to pull off his shirt completely, sliding his own off at the same time before resuming his focus. He continued to press a tantalizing mixture of kisses and bites over Izaya’s skin, starting at his neck and slowly moving downward, following the line of his collarbone and pausing to tease the sensitive pink nubs of his nipples. Izaya’s breath grew ragged at the erotic exploration, craving the contact. As the heat of Shiki’s mouth trailed down over the line of his stomach he couldn’t stop a moan from slipping past his lips. Shiki bit down on Izaya’s hip, just above the waistband of his pants as his hands made quick work of the fly. He leaned back, sliding hands along the waistband as Izaya lifted his hips, pulling pants and boxers off in a smooth motion.

“Grab the lube.” He directed Izaya as he shifted back to remove the rest of his own clothing. Izaya twisted slightly to reach the drawer in the night table, pulling out the lube and a condom before returning his gaze to Shiki. The executive returned to the bed, sliding a hand up along the underside of one of Izaya’s thighs, taking the bottle of lube. “Lift your legs up.” He commanded as he guided the raven’s legs back so they were spread wide, thighs pressed back against his chest. Izaya gripped his thighs to hold them in place as Shiki lubed his fingers up and pressed them inside, one by one, scissoring and stretching the tight ring of muscle as Izaya groaned at the feeling, at first uncomfortable but quickly turning to pleasure as his body yielded to Shiki’s touch. It wasn’t long before fingers were withdrawn and replaced by the press of Shiki’s cock against his entrance, drawing an impatient noise from him and a huff of amusement from the executive as he pushed in slowly. Shiki let out a groan of pleasure as he sank into the tight heat of Izaya’s ass, beginning with a slow rhythm as he sought the right angle to rub against Izaya’s prostate. He knew when he’d found it because it drew a delightfully lewd noise from the raven. He began to move with more speed, hands sliding up to grip the backs of Izaya’s thighs as the raven moaned beneath him, eyes half-lidded and cheeks flushed. It was a beautiful sight, watching Izaya come undone beneath him, driving his own desire higher. He kept to that steady rhythm, reading the raven’s body, urging him to the edge until Izaya was crying out beneath him. The feel of Izaya’s body tightening around him as the raven came drew another groan from his body as he thrust faster, seeking his own release. He came with a groan, pressing several deep thrusts into the raven before growing still, looking down to meet the raven’s softened gaze. With some regret he pulled out, letting Izaya’s legs drop to the bed, relaxed. He stripped off the condom and moved to the bathroom to dispose of it and grab a towel for the raven who had closed his eyes. He sat down and dragged the damp towel over Izaya’s stomach, cleaning up the mess he had made of himself.

“You surprised me.” Izaya murmured softly, opening his eyes a bit. “I didn’t really expect you to be so considerate a lover.” Shiki gave an amused chuckle at that as he tossed the towel in the laundry before laying down on his back beside Izaya. The raven immediately turned and pressed against Shiki’s side.

“I’m not sure why that would be surprising.” Shiki replied.

“From outward appearance, you’re a pretty detached person, always keeping up that cool demeanor. Based on the idea that those sorts of traits carry over, I wasn’t sure if you’d be the same way as a lover.”

“Most people behave differently in bed than they do at the office, you know.”

“Ah but paranoia affects all parts of a person’s life.” Izaya joked in response. “Sharing a bed with someone while you sleep sounds too dangerous for you.”

“I’m not particularly paranoid of getting stabbed by you after we fuck. I have faith that I’m more than capable of tiring you out and barring that, I’m very good with rope.” Izaya chuckled softly.

“You’re also a light sleeper, I noticed.”

“Hm.” Shiki acknowledged the point. “I don't need much sleep.” Not entirely true. More sleep would be nice but it was a rare thing for him to actually get. Izaya gave him a thoughtful look before closing his eyes, smiling softly.

“Maybe you’re the one who needs to be tired out then…” He teased. Shiki gave an amused chuckle and ruffled Izaya’s hair.

“You’re more than welcome to try.”

Chapter Text

Izaya sat on the bar stool, swinging his fishnet-clad legs as he sipped on a screwdriver. His eyes were currently focused on a woman who had been bound to a spanking bench. There was another woman standing beside her, offering up the submissive’s ass for any dom to take a turn disciplining her. The submissive’s face was flushed red with embarrassment as she squirmed and tugged against the restraints. Despite that, it was apparent that she was turned on by the position she was in and it amused Izaya.

“I don’t think he's going to show tonight.” Shiki mused, standing beside Izaya, nursing a whiskey on the rocks.

“Too bad.” Izaya replied with a sigh, looking down at his outfit.. “All this effort wasted. Can we talk about your choice in drinks?” Shiki raised a brow at the topic change, amused.

“I like whiskey.” He replied, intentionally ignoring Izaya's actual complaint.

“I don't like screwdrivers.”

“Oh? I was sure you were the kind of girl who liked sweet drinks.”

“You're doing this on purpose.”

“What gives you that idea?” The pout that curved Izaya's lips looked positively supermodel perfect, especially with the makeup he was wearing. “Do you practice that look in the mirror?” Izaya's eyes narrowed a fraction before his lips curved up in amusement.

“How vain do you think I am?”

“Oh I don't think it's vanity. How did you put it? ‘If a pretty face gets me what I want, I’ll use it?’ Wasn't that what you said when we first met?” Izaya hummed acknowledgement as he took another sip of the screwdriver. At least it wasn't as sweet as the Malibu Sunset he'd had to suffer through on the first visit to the club.

“Well I don't need to practice in the mirror.” He replied disdainfully. “I'm just naturally charming and expressive.” He gave Shiki a cheeky wink that drew a snort of amusement from the executive.

“Probably learned it from your mother when you were a kid. I'm good to leave unless you want me to volunteer you as replacement for that girl?” Izaya side eyed Shiki at that, shaking his head slightly in disapproval.

“Having a bunch of strangers touching me? No thank you.” He replied flatly. Watching the girl was amusing enough but putting himself in that position was a level of exposure far outside his comfort zone. Shiki gave him a look he couldn't quite decipher as he hopped off the stool and placed his glass on the bar. He smirked at the executive as he slid an arm through the other's. “I'll stick with just your hands on me.”

~

“Ah! Izaya!” Shinra greeted the raven happily. “Come in, come in. You're just in time, Celty is making coffee.”

Izaya blinked at his friend then shrugged as he stepped through the apartment door and followed Shinra into the living room. “Hey Shinra. Hello Celty.” He greeted the dullahan with a half-smirk as he took a seat on the couch. He'd always been fascinated by the faerie woman and her bizarre relationship with Shinra. Celty gave Izaya a small wave before returning her attention to the coffee machine.

“Thanks for setting up that meeting with the Awakusu! Adding them to my clientele list will really help.”

“I don’t like that Shinra is working for the yakuza.” Celty typed. “Izaya can’t you convince him to go to college like you did?” Izaya gave Celty a surprised look then shrugged.

“I’ve tried, Celty but Shinra won’t do it. He doesn’t think it’s worth wasting money on when he can make more money working as an underground doctor.”

“But it’s so dangerous! What if he gets dragged into trouble! You should know Izaya, you’re part of the underworld!”

“Ah! My sweet Celty cares about my well-being! Isn’t it wonderful?”

“Well someone has to be concerned!” Celty typed rapidly, clearly upset. “You don’t seem to be. I know you and Izaya have been friends since middle school and that he is from a yakuza family but you shouldn’t be following his example!” Celty paused then waved her hands. “ Er… no offense Izaya!” Izaya chuckled at the dullahan, entertained by her behaviour. He couldn’t help but to wonder how different she would be if she had her head.

“No offense taken. I tried to convince him to let Shingen get him a job but he doesn’t want to work with his father… which I can kind of understand.”

“Don’t worry my love! I won’t get hurt! A doctor’s role is sacrosanct! Besides, I have Izaya to protect me! Isn’t that right? Since you’re allied with the Awakusu and all.” Izaya raised a brow at Shinra’s declaration.

“I suppose I’m obligated to now…” Izaya replied with a slightly exaggerated sigh.

“Well since it’s your fault he’s involved with the yakuza, I expect you to keep him safe.” Celty replied. “I hate to admit it but working with the yakuza is probably safer than working with that creepy man.”

“Don’t worry my honeybun! I’m perfectly safe! Anyway, what brings you by? You don’t look injured.”

“I just wanted to find out how your meeting with the Awakusu went. I was curious to know how they reacted to you. You didn’t prattle on about Celty during the meeting, did you?” Shinra laughed and waved his hands.

“Of course not. Your recommendation seemed to go a long way, Izaya. I didn’t realize you had such a good relationship with them.”

“I’m not sure I’d put it that way but I suppose I’ve gained their respect and maybe a bit of trust. As long as our families are allied, I have no reason to give them a poor recommendation and your father’s name carries some weight whether you want to acknowledge it or not.”

“Well thanks to you I have a new client so the next time Shizuo beats you up I’ll bandage you up at half price!”

“Your generosity is overwhelming. Speaking of the beast, have you heard from him recently?” Shinra tilted his head at the question.

“No, not since the last time we talked about him. What about you, Celty, my love?” Izaya could sense Celty’s confusion from her body language.

“Why are you asking about Shizuo?”

“Oh, I didn’t tell you?” Shinra replied. “I must have been so excited to see you when I got home that I forgot all about it!”

“Shizu-chan has been targeting me lately even though I’ve been staying away from him.” Izaya told the dullahan casually. “Seems he’s recently embraced his violent side and taken up employment with a syndicate.”

“WHAT?!” The surprise in Celty’s reaction made it clear that the courier had not been in contact with Shizuo recently. “Are you sure about this? That doesn’t sound like Shizuo at all!”

“Quite sure at this point. I was hoping since you and Shinra were his friends that maybe he had come to you about whatever is going on with him since it’s such an out of character change.”

“No, he hasn’t said anything to us. The last time I talked to him was after he lost his last job. He was really depressed about it but I haven’t talked with him since. Should I go look for him? Is he in trouble?” Izaya’s eyes rose at Celty’s concern for the blonde but he just shrugged.

“I don’t think it’s anything you can help with. It’s probably better if no one else gets involved anyway. I think it’s best that I keep this between him and I.”

“What are you planning to do? You’re not going to send your yakuza friends after him are you?” Celty typed rapidly, obviously upset. “If you hurt him-”

“I’m just trying to avoid more collateral damage.” Izaya interrupted with irritation. “He’s the one who came after me this time and the organization he’s working for is targeting my family’s business. I’m just trying to protect myself and my family at this point.” Celty calmed down a bit at Izaya’s explanation though she was still concerned.

“If I see Shizuo, I’ll try to talk to him.”

“Ah! I’m so jealous! My precious Celty is so worried about Shizuo but not me!” Shinra complained drawing a snort from Izaya and a jab to the ribs from Celty. “Oh, I know! I just have to make Celty jealous! Izaya do you know any single girls-mmmfpfpfhf!” Celty’s shadows lashed out, wrapping around Shinra’s mouth.

“Well on that note…” Izaya stood and headed for the door. “Just let me know if you find anything out.”

~

“Izaya if you take any longer we’re going to be late.” Yuuto called to him from the apartment’s living room. Izaya chuckled at Yuuto’s impatient commentary as he finished tying the thin black tie and doing up the buttons on the black suit jacket. He looked at his reflection in the mirror with amusement, taking in the tailored Dunhill suit paired with a red silk dress shirt. The unfortunate  side of being on the thin side was that tailoring was a necessity but the figure he cut was well worth the extra cost. No doubt his mother would be pleased but he was more curious about what Shiki would think of it. Of course, knowing the tight-lipped executive, Izaya would be left wondering. He headed downstairs before Yuuto made anymore comments on the time.

“We have lots of time.” Izaya commented as he collected his wallet and keys, slipping on a pair of sunglasses with red-tinted lenses that matched the red and black color theme he was so very fond of. “Why are you so worried about it?”

“Because it’s Tokyo. Traffic is always terrible.” Yuuto pointed out as he stood, turning to examine Izaya’s outfit. “Well your mother can't complain about that. You’re going to get swarmed by eligible daughters.” He joked and Izaya rolled his eyes, smirking slightly.

“Don’t worry, I’ve practiced my polite rejection speech.”

“Is Shiki the jealous type? If he is I bet his aura alone will keep the girls away.” Yuuto teased and Izaya snorted.

“I don’t think he’s the jealous type and it’s not as if we’re some kind of lovey dovey couple anyway.” Yuuto arched a brow and gave Izaya an amused smile.

“So you’re telling me you two are just fucking?”

“Mmm.” Izaya replied noncommittally as he headed for the door, sliding on his dress shoes.

“Uh huh.” Yuuto replied as he followed Izaya out of the apartment.

~

Hotel Okura was one of the most upscale hotels in Tokyo, catering to a combination of rich businessmen and rich tourists. As Izaya stepped out of the car he couldn’t help but to smirk, anticipation making him jittery. The fundraiser portion of the evening had an extensive guest list of people he could absolutely benefit from meeting - and offering his services to. The silent auction portion had drawn considerable interest through the site he’d set up to facilitate it and the buy in to attend had made enough money to cover the cost of acquiring the unique items that would be auctioned, leaving everything they made from this point on pure profit.

He approached the desk and was led to meet with the efficient young woman who worked on the event planning team for the hotel. He’d been working with her on the event details and was very impressed with what she’d put together for him. The crown ball room had been set up with tables and a raised dais stage where the artwork that the Awakusu had provided for the auction would be displayed. Currently the art was displayed around the edges of the room so that the guests could admire it. Izaya was amused that the artwork was a mix of authentic pieces and clever forgeries. The private auction was to be held in a more private setting, one of the smaller dining rooms had been reserved for this purpose and set up in a more casual theatre style seating. Izaya nodded his approval at both, pleased at the results.

“Fujiwara-san, you've exceeded my expectations.” Izaya complimented the woman. “My thanks for all your hard work.”

“It was my pleasure to work for you Orihara-san. I'll leave you to greet your guests. I assume they will start arriving soon. If you need anything just text me directly and I will make it happen.”

“Of course. Thank you.” She gave him a deep bow before leaving him to continue overseeing the details. He turned his attention back to the smaller room, walking toward the glass doors that lined one wall, opening onto a terrace that had a beautiful view of Tokyo Bay.

“I'm very impressed.” His father's voice cut through his thoughts and he turned to face Shirou. Kyouko stood beside his father, Shirou in a suit equally as fine as Izaya's and Kyouko in a dress that was somewhere between modern and traditional. An off the shoulder cut that swept down in kimono style sleeves. A wide skirt cut shorter in the front and trailing down the back of her legs, in a traditional floral print. Izaya couldn't help but to smirk at her mother's choice, it was sure to be the talk of the ladies at the gala.

“Thank you, father.” Izaya replied as he approached them.

“Your drive to use the internet and technology had me concerned at first because it is such an unknown risk but your execution of this idea has clearly paid off. Once the private auction starts, don't worry about the gala, your mother and I will make sure it runs smoothly while you take care of this part.”

“Of course, father.” Izaya couldn't help but to smile at his father's praise.

“You took my advice on dressing to impress I see.” Kyouko commented on Izaya's suit, reaching to pluck his sunglasses off his face. “I suppose it's too much to expect that you took my advice on bringing a date?” Izaya rolled his eyes and snatched the glasses back, tucking them in the breast pocket of his suit.

“No date.” He replied with a slight smirk.

“No need to rush him into finding a girl, Kyouko.” Shirou pointed out to his wife. Kyouko gave Shirou an amused smile.

“Of course, dear. Have you seen Shiki-san yet? He cuts quite a figure in his suit though I really don't know why he favours white so much. I'm sure I'll have no trouble at all finding him a suitable candidate or three.”

“Really mother, if there's anyone you should be setting up, it's Akabayashi-san.” Izaya replied, eyes narrowing a bit at his mother's attempts to provoke him. “If anyone needs a woman in their life, it's him.”

“I need a what now?” Izaya's gaze shifted to the new voice, focusing on the red devil as he entered the room with the Awakusus and Shiki.

“A wife. To help you settle down. Get on the straight and narrow instead of this life of crime you're leading.” Izaya replied with a grin though his eyes shifted to linger on Shiki. He saw Shiki in white suits all the time but this was not his average suit. Shiki's suit was a Burberry in a slightly off white shade with a contrasting black dress shirt and - to Izaya's delight - a red silk tie. Where Shiki normally wore his suit jackets a bit bigger, this one was clearly tailored.

“Hah!” Mikaya barked a laugh at that. “That's a tall order for any woman to fill, Orihara-kun.” Izaya smirked and shrugged.

“My mother is determined to play matchmaker and Akabayashi-san really does need the most help. By the way, Akabayashi-san, are we playing who wore it better?”

Shiki gave a soft snort of amusement at this as everyone noted the similarity in their suits. Akabayashi had also gone with a black suit and red dress shirt combo but where Izaya was wearing a black tie, Akabayashi had left his collar unbuttoned. Where Izaya's suit was tailored to accent his thin frame, Akabayashi filled out his suit. They might both being wearing the same colours but that only served to highlight their differences.

Kyouko gave an amused laugh at the sight then slid her arm through Akabayashi's, giving him the full force of her charming smile. “So tell me, Akabayashi-san, how is a handsome man like you still single?” She opened as she began to walk with him toward the ballroom.

“It seems she has chosen her victim.” Shirou said to Mikiya as they followed behind, leaving Izaya and Shiki alone in the private room.

“Well that was terrifyingly successful.” Izaya commented as Shiki approached.

“Too successful. Though I admit I’m going to enjoy watching Akabayashi spend the evening being introduced to every eligible woman in the room. Everything is ready. Once the fundraiser auction ends and the attendees are left to drink and dance and politic, the special guests can make their way here for the private auction.”

“It will certainly be an interesting night…” Izaya replied with a grin. “I’m impressed with the guest list. The Awakusu have quite an interesting range of art clients.” Shiki arched a brow.

“No poaching.” He warned though he wasn’t serious. Izaya just laughed and reached forward to run fingers down Shiki’s tie.

“Don’t worry, Shiki-san. I don’t plan on selling art . Besides, you technically stand to profit from anything I might learn tonight, or any clients I gain for my business.”

“True. So that’s the real reason you decided to host a gala for the rich and important figures of Tokyo?” Izaya shifted his gaze away coyly though the smirk on his lips confirmed it.

“Coincidentally convenient convergence of everyone’s interests.”

“Mmhm. Well you better get out there and prepare to meet your guests, conniving host. And try not to forget that you’re representing both our families.”

“How could I with you there to remind me?” Izaya retorted as he turned toward the door.

~

The fundraiser was exactly as successful as Izaya had expected it to be and he made more than a few contacts, exchanging business cards along with the small talk. Some of the guests he already knew, of course, either through his personal web or through his family’s. He had no need of his mother’s influence, it was a rare moment that he didn’t have an eligible young women vying for his attention which, to his surprise and mild confusion, seemed to amuse Shiki. The auction raised a decent amount of money and both the Oriharas and the Awakusus seemed generally pleased by the way the event was progressing which, in turn, pleased Izaya.

“Orihara, your mother is terrifying.” Akabayashi commented as he approached Izaya and Shiki near the end of the evening. Izaya gave an amused chuckle and a smirk.

“Sorry to throw you to the wolves, Akabayashi.” He replied with not an ounce of genuine regret. “Didn’t find a single lady who caught your eye?”

“God no. Can we go deal with the real reason we’re here before she finds another demure housewife-in-training to throw at me?” Shiki gave a snort of amusement.

“Not into trophy wives? What is your type then?” Izaya prodded as they headed for the door.

“None of your business.” Akabayashi retorted. “I wouldn’t want you to pass any incriminating information on to your mother.”

The smaller room was already beginning to fill as the three men entered, taking seats near the front to keep an eye on the man Shiki had given the task of running the auction to. The goods being sold tonight ranged from stolen art and artifacts to exotic animals to people. There were also a few oddities, information on specific important people or businesses, a plant of Izaya's to see whether or not this sort of venue would work for that. The crowd was a fascinating mix of people, fifty in total had bought access to the auction. Mostly older men, Izaya noted, though there were a few women and younger men. Most of them had been at the gala beforehand though some of them had chosen to show only for this. Every one of them had been required to leave any electronics at the door, a requirement that had surprised his father and impressed Shiki when he'd included it. Those who gave up their phones at the door were either careless or stored nothing of value on them. Izaya would know when he went through their information later. Most were smart enough to simply not bring their phones.

One person stood out to Izaya, a young woman who ostensibly worked as a secretary for the well known politician Nakagawa Taro, a member of the House of Representatives. When Izaya had identified her initially he had assumed that she was his agent but when he spotted her entering the room his eye was drawn to a tattoo on the back of her shoulder, one he had seen before. He leaned over to Shiki.

“We have a plant.” He whispered. “The young woman who just entered.” Shiki turned his gaze on the woman.

“How do you know?”

“The tattoo. It's a marker. All of Fei’s people have been sporting it. It's too distinctive to be random chance.” Shiki inclined his head slightly.

“Not entirely unexpected. Interesting that he has someone in such a position working for him. Explains how he's managed to work in Tokyo with very little resistance.”

“I want to chat with her…” Izaya said with a purr in his voice, eyes narrowing.

“Better to let her go. Now that we've identified her, we can always approach her later. No need to let him know that we know who his plant is.”

“Tch. You play things too safe. Fine, fine, I won't out her but I'm still going to talk to her.” Shiki sighed knowing that was the best he was going to get out of the raven. “Her boss bought one of the fundraiser paintings. When he comes to collect it I’ll chat them both up.”

“Do you think she’ll buy anything from this auction?”

“No, if she’s here to learn about how we operate, she might bid on something but I don’t think she’ll actually try to acquire anything. I could be wrong, of course but unless one of her bosses is providing the funds, on her own she doesn’t have the kind of money she’d need.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if she was pulling double duty.” Shiki mused as the auction began.

“It’s possible. Nakagawa has been known to have some questionable habits so she might be here on his behalf. I suppose we’ll see soon enough.” They both fell silent, watching as the auction progressed. To Izaya’s surprise, the secretary bid on one thing only and outbid several others to win. It was, of all things, an Amur leopard kitten. “So which of the three potential people is a cat lover…” Izaya commented, amused.

“She paid a lot for that leopard.” Shiki observed. “More than I expected anyone would bid for it. Someone has deep pockets.”

“This is an added bonus to my night. I do hope she was spending Fei’s money.” Shiki arched a brow as they watched the special guests leave, most filtering back to the gala which was coming to a close as well.

“Turned quite the profit tonight.” Akabayashi commented as he handed Shiki the ledger for the private auction. There were no names, of course, just item numbers and corresponding sums. Izaya leaned in to scan the totals, grinning. “Your ideas about using technology to change the way we do business aren’t so bad.”

“You mentioned using the online auction system to continue this but I’m curious to know how. Throwing galas like this one are high investment of both time and money.” Shiki commented.

“Oh, I have no intention of throwing something as big as this all the time though it might do very well to make it an annual or semi annual sort of thing. No, moving forward we can simply replicate this on a smaller scale. Posting the available auction items worked very well in drawing initial interest. I don’t think I’ll be using it for information selling though. It works but feels like more effort than is necessary given the lack of a physical item to transfer.”

“Congratulations, Orihara. Your first project for your family has been very successful and now people are going to have their eyes on you as the heir to your family’s business.” Akabayashi gave him a solid clap on the shoulder then headed back to the gala to let Mikiya know that things had gone well. Izaya turned to Shiki with a grin.

“I assume you’re also happy with the results?” He asked as Shiki closed the ledger and handed it back to his man.

“Given that I’ve been working with you on this from the start, I had a good idea of what the results would be. Identifying one of Fei’s agents was a nice bonus though. Still, I suppose you do deserve congratulations. How many new contacts did you make for your personal business?” Izaya smirked at that, eyes shining with cunning as he shrugged noncommittally.

“Enough. Tell me, Shiki, did you let me take the lead on this so you could gauge just how widespread my web of contacts is?” Shiki gave Izaya just the hint of a smile.

“That may have been one of my reasons.” He ceded.

“And were you impressed?” Izaya prodded.

“Yes. The network you’ve put together for yourself, not even including the contacts your family has, is impressive especially for someone as young as you. I have informants on my payroll who can’t even come close to the theoretical reach that you have.”

“Does that make me your top informant?” Izaya asked with a smirk.

“I would say that you are currently earning the very high price you charge me for your services. Don’t get complacent though, I can always replace you.” Izaya mock gasped.

“Did you just threaten to fire me? I’m sure there’s some sort of labour law against that sort of thing.”

“You’re a contract based employee. You have no such protections.” Shiki rebutted. “I’m not obligated to bring you any cases so it’s in your best interests to keep me attention on you.”

“Is that so?” Izaya asked, arching a brow at the phrasing. “In that case, I’ll be sure to work extra hard to make sure your attention is on me alone.”

Chapter Text

“So he’s already putting the gang back together even though Shizuo put him in the hospital?” Izaya turned his head slightly to look at Kyohei, reaching for his water bottle. Kyohei was keeping speed beside him on the treadmill, neither of them strained by the quick pace.

“That’s what we heard. Izumii wants revenge is what it’s sounding like but he’s having trouble getting his gang back on board which makes sense when you’re talking about going up against Shizuo.”

“Izayaaaaa…” The strangled gasp of a very out of breath Shinra drifted over. “Can we stop now?” Izaya turned his gaze to his doctor friend, smirking.

“Oh come on Shinra, how are you going to impress Celty with your manly muscles if you can’t even keep up with Dotachin and I on a treadmill?” Izaya teased as Shinra turned off the treadmill, giving up. He flopped onto the floor at the base of the treadmill, guzzling water. “What’s the likelihood that he’ll back down?”

“I’m honestly not sure. Izumii’s not stupid but he is pretty determined.”

“What if we give him something else to focus on for a while? Turn his attention on the Yellow Scarves for now.”

“Worth a try I guess but you’re basically asking me to go back to the Blue Squares.”

“Just for a little while, until we can figure out a way to get Shizuo out of the picture.”

“Wow Izaya. When you say it like that it sounds like you’re going to bump Shizuo off!” Shinra chirped from the floor. “Is that how the yakuza do things?”

“Shut up Shinra.” Izaya groaned. “Even if I wanted to kill Shizuo, I’m pretty sure it’s near impossible. There are easier ways to remove him from the situation.”

“You have something in mind?” Kyohei asked as he hopped off the treadmill. Izaya followed his lead, nudging Shinra with his foot.

“Why did you decide to join us Shinra? I didn’t think physical activity was your thing.”

“Well I was reading an article in one of those women’s magazines at the supermarket and it talked about how women want a strong man who can take care of the house for them.” Izaya snorted.

“Celty has superhuman strength Shinra. I’m pretty sure she’s ok with you not being a muscle-bound idiot. Anyway I do have an idea of what to do about Shizuo but I’m waiting to hear back from one of my contacts. Dotachin, try to keep Izumii’s focus away from picking a fight with Shizuo if you can. I should be hearing back from my contact soon.”

“Yeah, sure. But so you know, Izaya I’m only doing this cause I’m worried about Shizuo.” Izaya gave Kyohei a slight smile.

“I know, I know. You don’t want to be connected to the yakuza. I don’t know why you see it so differently than running with colour gangs, Dotachin.”

“I don’t really get it either.” Shinra piped up. “I mean, you’re still doing illegal things.”

“Sorry but I don’t want to get caught up in having to follow someone else’s orders, especially if they go against what I believe.” Kyohei responded with a shrug making Izaya chuckle.

“Ah Dotachin, always staying true to yourself. I suppose that’s why you draw people to you.” Izaya replied with a grin. “Well if you get tired of playing with kids, let me know.”

“Says the guy who treats being in the yakuza like a game!” Shinra added with a laugh. “I don’t know if you’re more mature, Izaya.”

“Everything is a game, Shinra, and we’re all just pieces on the board. I’m just doing my best to be a player instead of someone else’s piece. Just like Dotachin.”

“Please don’t compare us…”

~

“Your hunch was right but I’m somewhat limited by location.” Kine’s voice came through the speaker of his phone as Izaya typed at his computer. “This place isn’t exactly full of friendly faces you know. How’d you know they had the kid anyway?”

“Like I said, it was a hunch. Shizuo is complacent but not stupid. He never would have worked for Fei willingly. Coercing Shizuo into anything would require controlling him with something he couldn't just fight his way out of. When I thought about how I would do it that was the first thing that came to mind. I can put you in contact with an Orihara executive there. He can get you whatever you need. The sooner you get him out, the sooner I can get that monster off my back.”

“You want me to bring him home then? What about the job he’s supposed to be doing?”

“I looked into the agency and they’re pretty shady. I suspect this was a setup right from the start. Honestly, even if he finished the job I doubt they have any intention of either paying him or using the footage.”

“All right, send me the guy’s information. I’ll contact you once we’re back in Tokyo.”

~

“Mashita-san, it’s nice to see you again.” Izaya said as he walked toward the secretary, the Amur leopard cub curled up in his arms. She was standing beside the sedan holding a cat carrier as the raven approached.

“Orihara-san. An unexpected pleasure. I did not think you would be tending to the exchange personally.”

“I have a vested interest in ensuring that all of my buyers are satisfied.” Izaya replied with a charming smile. “I am looking for repeat business after all.”

“I’m sure you are though I don’t think it’s for your import business. Tell me, Orihara-san, just what kind of secrets are you capable of digging up?”

“Without context that is a very broad question. If you’re interested in hiring me I’ll need a bit more to go on.”

“There may be something but it isn’t the normal sort of information request I expect you receive.”

“You’ve piqued my interest. I’m curious, Mashita-san, is the cat for you or your boss?” He asked as he scritched the leopard kitten's chin.

“Oh, you thought I was there on behalf of Nakagawa-san?” She replied with an almost ghostly smile.

“I make no assumptions. It wouldn’t be the first time a man of his stature used a go-between to keep himself clean.”

“Well, Orihara-san, this kitten is for me. I happen to be quite fond of cats. Did you know there are only around sixty Amur leopards left in the world?” Izaya’s smile grew a bit.

“Of course. I take care to know exactly how rare the things I deal in are. You know what else is a rarity? A secretary being able to afford the very high price tag of this little guy.”

“I have a rich aunt.” She replied with a laugh and Izaya laughed with her, amused at her seamless deflection.

“How lucky for you. So, Mashita-san, what information were you hoping I’d be able to look into for you?”

“It’s a family matter. Lineages and that sort of thing. It isn’t as easy as it might sound, this lineage has been well hidden.”

“You’ve familiarized yourself with my fees?”

“Of course.”

“Twenty-five percent upfront, the rest on delivery. Please send me the details, you have my business email.”

“I will. Tell me, does the kitten have a name?” She asked as she opened up the carrier. Izaya placed the leopard inside, giving his head a slight shake.

“No, he doesn’t have a name yet. If you’re a cat fancier are there any other unique cats you might be interested in acquiring?”

“Perhaps in the future. I am content with this one for now.”

“Of course. It was nice to see you again, Mashita-san. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

“Thank you, Orihara-san.”

“Please pass my regards on to your boss as well.”

“I certainly will. He has a deep interest in you.” She replied as she placed the carrier in the passenger seat of her sedan. “He’s also quite curious how deep your loyalty with the Awakusu runs.” Izaya gave her a slight smirk, knowing she wasn't talking about Nakagawa anymore.

“An interesting thing for him to be curious about. I’d be happy to discuss the merits of my business partnerships with him in person.”

“I’ll be sure to let him know.”

~

The call came at around one in the morning. Izaya was at the house, reading a book on the porch when his father called him, lips fixed in a thin line of anger. Izaya frowned at his father’s demeanor.

“What’s going on?” He asked as he set his book aside.

“A fire in the warehouse district.” Shirou replied shortly, indicating that Izaya should join him. Izaya was on his feet in an instant, following his father to the car. He settled into the driver’s seat, slipping on his glasses and setting the key in the ignition as his father settled in the passenger’s seat.

“You think we were targeted?” Izaya asked as he pulled out of the driveway and onto the street at a speed that set his father’s teeth on edge.

“At least one of our warehouses is burning.” He replied with a frown. “But our warehouse wasn’t the first to go up from what the guards at the warehouse said. We may simply be unfortunate collateral damage. There’s no question that the first warehouse was intentional arson, however.” Izaya’s eyes narrowed in thought as he considered what was near the Orihara warehouses.

“The closest warehouses are a pharmaceutical company and another export company.”

“It was the pharmaceutical warehouse.” Shirou acknowledged. “Izaya please slow down. Getting there faster isn’t going to save the warehouse at this point.” He added in a strained voice as Izaya took a sharp corner. He glanced at his father as he lifted his foot off the gas a bit.

“No but getting there faster might give us an idea of who the culprits are.” He mused.

“Leave the detective work to the police.” Shirou commented with a bit of amusement. “Let them earn their wage working for us instead of against us for a change.” Izaya chuckled at that.

“They’ll take three times as long and probably still not catch whoever did this.” Izaya observed.

“Possibly but it’s better for us to work with them in a situation like this.”

“Well that doesn’t mean I can’t poke around though.”

“Izaya…” Shirou warned.

“I’ll be sure to pass anything I find on to the police, Father.” He added with a slight grin, drawing a sigh out of Shirou.

By the time they got there three buildings were burning but the fire department had also arrived and had at least contained the blaze. The Orihara warehouse was one of their legitimate sites and everything stored there was catalogued and covered by insurance but even so, it would take time to deal with the insurance company and replace what was lost in the fire. From what they could see, kept away from the site by the firemen, that would be everything. Whatever had set off the fire in the pharmaceuticals warehouse burned hot, likely some sort of chemical fire. He stepped away from his father and pulled out his phone, pulling up a chat window.

-Evening Izaya. Quite the fire.-

-Tsukumoya. Glad I didn’t wake you. What can you tell me about it?-

-That depends on what you’re paying.-

-The usual. I’ll throw in the bonus of actually buying your new book.-

-Cheeky. There are cameras. I can send you the footage. Look into a gang called the Jade Serpents.-

-Jade Serpents? I know all the gangs in Ikebukuro and they are not one of them.-

-Correct. Of course the elimination of the Blue Squares left a vacuum, didn’t it?-

-I’ll look into it, thanks.-

-I expect an honest review.-

He closed the chat then turned to face the slow-dying blaze, snapping a picture and sending it to his Awakusu group chat. It’s possible they were collateral damage but Izaya’s gut was telling him that simply couldn’t be the case, all things considered. The group chat notification popped up and he couldn’t help but be amused.

Aka: Taking up arson as a new hobby?

Ouji: Still awake? That’s one of the Orihara warehouses.

Ao: ??? Who needs to get their legs broken?

Kaz: Insured?

Ouji: Do any of you have normal sleep patterns?

Daddy: Not when you’re sending photos like that one.

Daddy has changed their username

Shiki: Details.

Ouji: Don’t have much to work with yet. The building next to ours went up a couple hours ago. Chemical fire, definitely arson but whether or not we were the target is unclear. It’s an above board warehouse, everything insured.

Aka: Suspiciously convenient.

Ao: Is there a leg-breaking smiley face?

Aka: Of course not. (งಠ_ಠ)ง

Ao: Orihara show me how to do that.

Aka: Just can’t keep up with modern technology, can you?

Shiki: Let me know when you have more.

Kaz: If the insurance company tries to give you the run around let me know. I have a guy that’s good at dealing with those paper-pushers.

Ouji: ( ̄^ ̄)ゞ

Ao: Seriously, Orihara, how do you make those faces?

He closed the chat on Aozaki’s question, turning his gaze back to the blackened husks of the buildings with a frown. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was the work of the Tien Tao Meng. Taking out their warehouses was a tactically sound and relatively covert strike to make against them. If Fei was willing to act so boldly after the loss of his strip club, that changed the way Izaya would have to play the game.

~

Convenient that he was already awake when Izaya had sent the photo because shortly after he received a call from his own people. It seemed the Oriharas weren’t the only ones being targeted. Three separate Awakusu galleries had reports of attempted break-ins though only one had been successful. He pulled on his jacket and headed to the gallery that had been broken into.

The damage appeared to be nothing more than run of the mill vandalism. Windows smashed, tags spray painted on walls. They had ruined several paintings but the gallery had no cash on site so that was all they had managed. The guard was nursing a concussion from where one of the gang had struck him with a metal bar which was the only reason they'd managed to get I side. The guards at the other galleries hadn't been caught off guard so all they got was some spray tagging on the outside walls and a couple of smashed windows.

The police were already there, asking questions and examining the damage but looked completely disinterested in doing their job with the exception of a young woman who had a familiar face. She immediately moved to him when he arrived, flipping out her notebook.

“Shiki-san, if you could please forward your inventory of damaged paintings and insurance claims related to them. Also, do you have any security cameras? If so, we request that you provide us with the footage.”

“Of course, Officer…?” He paused, waiting for her to provide her name before continuing.

“Kuzuhara Shinju.”

“Ah. Officer Kuzuhara. Of course, I’ll be sure to send you everything you need once I’ve had a chance to review the damage done. Unfortunately we don’t have video surveillance.”

“I see. Well I’ve taken statement from your security guard but the paramedics believe he may have a concussion. If he remembers anything else please contact me.” She handed him her card. “Is there any reason you know of that would make you a target of a color gang?”

“None that I’m aware of, Detective. We do our best to stay away from that kind of thing.”

“Of course.” She replied but the look she fixed him with was doubtful. “If anything comes to you, please contact me.” She said before turning back to the other officers. Shiki watched her leave with a slight frown before turning his attention to the damage.

~

It had been a long night full of a string of irritating things, keeping Izaya from both sleep and time to investigate the camera footage Tsukumoya had sent him. The most annoying part had been the involvement of a particular police detective in a case he shouldn’t have been on but for the fact that the Oriharas were yakuza.

Kuzuhara Yumeji was not a particularly pleasant man to deal with. He clearly had a chip on his shoulder when it came to the yakuza and the questions he badgered both Shirou and Izaya with were biased. Shirou remained placid through the entire process, not giving Kuzuhara an inch while Izaya, to his father’s obvious disapproval, decided to point out the man’s biases every chance he got.

Kuzuhara also interviewed the guards at the warehouse but they were just guards and had little to tell. They had been inside the warehouse, one patrolling while the other was in the security office when they heard an explosion. They ran outside to see the pharmaceutical warehouse burning and some men running away from it but had no descriptions to give beyond that. Kuzuhara warned them against withholding information which drew an eye roll from Izaya then let them go.

“Orihara-san, I have some pictures of the fleeing men.” One of the guards volunteered as they left the police station.

“Send them to Izaya.” Shirou said causing Izaya to perk up.

“Yes, please. I'll see if I can get anything out of them. With Kuzuhara on the case, I don’t think the police will be doing much in our favour.”

“Unfortunate but true.” Shirou agreed. “It’s definitely odd that he took over this case when it was clearly arson. Kuzuhara has never had reason to target us before.”

“Could it be because of our alliance with the Awakusu?” Izaya ventured with a slight frown.

“It’s possible.” Shirou said with a shrug. “We simply have to be careful while the investigation is ongoing.”

“Yes, of course.” Izaya agreed as he slid into the driver’s seat. “I’ll make sure to be stealthy in my investigation.”

Chapter Text

“That’s the same symbol the guys who started the fire at the warehouses were wearing. There’s no doubt the two incidents were related.” Izaya said as he stared at the green dragon that had been spray painted over the front window of Shiki’s gallery/office. “They’re not local, these Jade Dragons, at least not originally. They’re also not directly tied to the Tien which has me suspicious.”

Shiki shifted his gaze to the spray paint that still covered the window as he handed Izaya a cup of coffee. “Have you slept?” He asked.

“No more than you have.” Izaya countered as he took the cup. “They’re from Hong Kong originally but it seems their current leader in Ikebukuro is a college student by the name of Hiroshi Ito. He lived in Hong Kong with his Chinese mother until this past year when he moved to Tokyo to attend university here. They’re not very big or very active yet. Neither the Blue Squares or the Yellow Scarves seemed to be aware of them. I sent a request to Wei for more information on their Hong Kong roots but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet.” He paused to take a long sip of the coffee.

“It’s too convenient to be coincidence.” Shiki said, turning away from the window to move toward his office. “But the damage they did to the galleries was almost childish in its execution. Smashing windows and spray painting? There was maybe six of them based on my men’s reports. Two to each location, armed with baseball bats or pipes, and the moment my men confronted them they scattered with the exception of the one who knocked out the security guard.”

“Did you get any pictures of them?” Izaya asked hopefully as he followed but Shiki shook his head.

“Kazamoto collected descriptions from the guards but they all had their faces covered. The only significant markers in their appearance were either green colors or dragons on their jackets.”

“Too bad.” Izaya replied with a sigh, leaning against the couch as Shiki sat down on it. “Ah well, I’ve got people watching for them. I’ll find them soon enough. What did the police have to say?”

“Not much. They weren’t overly interested in getting involved. A targeted attack against a yakuza organization isn’t really something they want to get caught up in. There was one exception, a young officer by the name of Kuzuhara Shuji who seemed quite intent on doing her job.”

“Kuzuhara? Hm. That family…” Izaya trailed off taking another sip of his coffee as he considered the possibilities. “Kuzuhara Yumeji took over our case.” He informed Shiki with a frown.

“Yumeji? But it’s arson. There’s no reason for him to be involved in a case as cut and dry as that.” Shiki also frowned at the mention of the yakuza task force investigator.

“Yes, I can’t help but to wonder if someone pointed Yumeji in our direction. I have a contact in the police but he’s nowhere high enough up the ranks to be able to find out why Yumeji took the case. I’ll see what he has to say anyway. The Kuzuharas are quite the family. I’d rather not have them watching me too closely.”

“Brokering isn’t illegal.” Shiki pointed out but Izaya slid his gaze away causing the executive to raise a brow, wondering what else the raven might be doing that had him concerned about police attention. “Are you going to tell him any of what you’ve learned?”

“I’m tempted to offer to sell it to him.” Izaya replied with a smirk then shrugged. “It really depends on where this leads. If I’m right and the Jade Dragons are tied to the Tien it may be too risky to reveal. If I can spin it to draw Yumeji’s attention to Fei, that would be ideal. If it turns out that they have no connection to Fei then their motive for attacking us is still unclear. Either way, until I understand it, I have no plan to share information with the police.”

“Have you shared any of this with Shirou yet?” Izaya shook his head.

“He’s been stuck dealing with reports and insurance companies all day, same as you. The loss of that warehouse is going to hit the business pretty hard for a while. Significantly less childish than the vandalism and spray painting you got.” Izaya frowned and finished off the coffee. “Everything is pointing toward the Oriharas as their actual target and the strikes against you as nothing more than distraction to keep you busy.”

“I agree. I mentioned that to Mikiya when I made my report and he agreed to send some people over to help protect your family’s other assets from similar attacks.”

“I’ll let my father know. I’m sure he’ll be appreciative but don’t be surprised if he refuses the aid.” Shiki smiled slightly at that.

“Convince him not to. If your business suffers so does ours. That is the point of our alliance after all. That pride seems to be a family trait.” He added the observation with amusement.

“Oh?” Izaya replied, arching a brow.

“Oriharas don’t like accepting help I’ve noticed.” Shiki replied with amusement. Izaya gave a slight smile at that, unable to completely deny it.

“Have I refused your help?” He said instead, moving to the small sink by the coffee machine and rinsing out his cup.

“That would require that I offer help. Rather, you like to drag me into your convoluted plans, leaving me no choice but to help you.” Izaya smirked at that and shrugged.

“You say it as if I don’t give you a choice. It’s not like I’m forcing you into things.”

“An argument could be made based on coercion.”

“Semantics. I’m not coercing you into anything you aren’t fully aware of. You’re not ignorant.” Izaya stated matter of factly, turning to face Shiki, eyes shining with amusement. “As if anyone could actually coerce you if you didn’t want to do something.” Shiki’s lips twitched up into a brief smile.

“Are you saying I want to be dragged into your chaos?”

“Absolutely.” Izaya replied cheekily. “I’m entertaining, after all.”

“Sometimes.” Shiki ceded as he stood up. “Sometimes you’re a pain in the ass.” Izaya gasped, giving Shiki a mock-offended look.

“I’m offended. I work hard for you.”

“You work hard for yourself.”

“You benefit from it.”

“I pay you for it.”

“Semantics.”

“Oh? So you’d still share the benefits if I wasn’t paying you?”

“Maybe…” Izaya said with a shrug and a coy look. Shiki snorted.

“Brat. Let’s get dinner.”

“Oooo dinner. Am I being bribed? ” Izaya joked as he followed Shiki out of the gallery.

 

~

 

Kine studied the young man with some confusion. Despite his circumstances the young model and actor didn't seem particularly bothered. His passive expression made Kine wonder briefly if the boy wasn't that bright.

“Sorry to have kidnapped you like that, kid, but time is kind of short. My name is Kine and I was sent here to bring you home.”

“I see. I don't suppose it was my brother who sent you?” Kine frowned slightly and shook his head.

“No, sorry. You'll meet my employer soon enough.”

“I see. Kine-san, am I trading one captive situation for another?” Maybe brighter than he appeared.

“My employer intends to let you go once you're back in Tokyo but he wants to meet with you first, to ask about your captors.”

“Ah, of course.” He seemed satisfied with the answers Kine had given him. Kine shook his head slightly as he ushered the young man to the rental car and headed in the direction of the airport. “Kine-san, is your employer a member of the Orihara-kai?” Kine glanced in the rear view mirror, noting that passive expression.

“He is.”

“Is my brother involved in this?”

“Yes, your captivity was being leveraged against him.”

“I thought as much. Thank you for rescuing me Kine-san.”

“Don't thank me yet kid.” He replied, thinking of what Izaya might be planning. He assumed Izaya meant to let him go but the raven hadn't actually said as much. It was just as likely that Izaya might try to use him the same way the triad had. Kine had seen Izaya's rivalry with Shizuo firsthand and Izaya was too clever and ambitious not to try something.

 

~

 

“He simply walked off the set? Where were his guards?”

“There was some confusion sir. Some of the equipment shorted out, starting a fire. The room filled with smoke quite quickly so everyone was evacuated until the fire could be put out and the smoke cleared. The guards were found later, knocked out.”

“What a basic diversion. Are all of you idiots?”

“No sir. I wasn't at the site sir. We have people at the airports and watching the Orihara-kai offices sir.”

“Likely pointless now. I doubt he's still in Hong Kong.”

“An Orihara ship left port for Japan this morning. He may have been smuggled onto it. Shall we hit it?”

“No, I'll deal with it here.”

“Yes sir.”

Jiao Lan Fei hung up the phone and stared at it thoughtfully for a while as he pondered this new development. It seemed the Orihara heir had managed to decipher Heiwajima’s motives. Surprising, as he had thought their rivalry would be enough reason to keep Orihara’s attention. It seemed he was about to lose his unpredictable tool so it was best to turn Heiwajima’s attention away from him. He pulled out his cellphone and sent the blonde a text.

“Orihara has kidnapped your brother and plans to hold him hostage against you.”

 

~

 

"When you said dinner I was assuming a restaurant.” Izaya observed as he trailed Shiki into an apartment building he was only familiar with as an address on a map. He'd never been to Shiki's place, not that he hadn't thought about it. He simply hadn't had the right opportunity but now it seemed he was being invited in.

“I'm not in the mood to eat out.” Shiki replied and Izaya snorted.

“I'm pretty sure take out is still eating out.” He replied as he held up the bag of chinese food they had stopped to pick up from a takeout place a few doors down.

“It does not. We are eating in. Where I can relax and have a drink.”

“Relax? Are you even capable of such a thing?” Izaya mocked lightly, though he was excited to see Shiki's apartment. People made their homes more personal after all - at least normal people did - and what kind of personal touches Shiki added to his place was more than a little intriguing.

“He says as if his plan for the evening wasn't to return to his apartment and resume his investigation.” Shiki replied as he came to a stop in front of his door, pulling out his keys.

“Keys? How unsecure.” Izaya criticized with a slight smirk as Shiki pushed the door open.  “I would think you would appreciate my dedication. The faster I figure this out, the faster we can deal with whoever is targeting us.”

“There is a higher chance that I will hear someone picking a deadbolt than you will hear someone hacking your electronic lock.” Shiki pointed out as he stepped into the entryway and slipped off his shoes. Izaya stepped in behind him, closing and locking the door. “I do appreciate your dedication but breaks for such human requirements as food and rest are necessary.” Izaya slipped off his shoes and trailed behind Shiki as they moved down the short entry hall and into the apartment proper. The entry hall gave the impression of a typical 1LDK but the apartment was quite a bit larger. His eyes darted around the room, noting the washroom just off the left of the hall. The apartment proper broke off to a small den on the right before leading into the open kitchen and living area. The bedroom appeared to be on the left but the door was closed. There was also a decently sized patio which Izaya made a note of with a slight grin. He placed the bag of take out on the breakfast bar that separated the kitchen from the living room as his gaze took in the tidy kitchen, wondering if Shiki actually cooked in it. Maybe coffee, he mused as his eyes settled on a very shiny looking coffee and espresso machine. His gaze slid back to Shiki who had paused by the bedroom door, sliding off his suit jacket as he watched Izaya with amusement.

“Your kitchen looks about as well used as mine.” Izaya commented with a grin.

“I suspect I actually use mine more but most days cooking for one is a hassle. Go ahead and unpack the food, I’m just going to hang up my jacket.” He replied with amusement as he turned away to enter his bedroom. Izaya turned his attention to the takeout containers, pulling them out of the bag then rummaging through Shiki’s drawers to find plates and chopsticks. By the time he’d located the necessary things Shiki had returned. “Drink?” He asked as he pulled down two glasses and went to the freezer for ice without waiting for a response.

“That sounded more like a statement than an offer.” Izaya replied with a snort as he watched Shiki bring the glasses over to the bar. “What are my options?” Shiki reached into a shelf under the bar and pulled out a bottle of whiskey.

“Not your usual, I’m afraid.” Shiki replied as he poured a generous amount in each glass. Izaya took the bottle from him once he was done pouring, reading the label with amusement.

“Yamazaki 18 Year Old? Spare no expense on your personal liquor I see.” Shiki plucked the bottle from Izaya’s hand and put it back on the shelf, replacing it with the glass.

“And I'm generously sharing it with you. You should be grateful.” He replied as he filled his plate and took it and his glass into the living room, opting for the comfort of the couch over the small dining table tucked against the wall. Izaya followed suit, eyes scanning the living room. Couch, coffee table, TV, fish tank? He put his plate down on the coffee table and wandered over to the sizeable fish tank that sat under the window of the far wall.

“Fish?” Izaya observed, the question more of surprise than any need for confirmation. “Really? Of all the pets you could have, you chose fish?” Shiki gave Izaya an amused look at his surprise.

“They’re low maintenance and aesthetically pleasing.” He replied as he took a sip of his whiskey. “And they don’t shed.” He added, drawing a laugh from Izaya.

“Fish are food not pets. Are any of them edible?” Izaya asked, leaning over to stare through the glass at the colorful array of exotic fish. He had no idea what any of them were; he’d have to spend some time learning about them.

“Even if they were, they’re not sushi grade. Don’t even think about eating my fish.” Izaya chuckled and returned to the couch, picking up his plate.

“Does Akabayashi know you have fish? I bet he’d be highly entertained by it.” Shiki fixed Izaya with a flat look but Izaya ignored Shiki in favour of his dinner.

“If I have to listen to him making jokes about my fish, I will absolutely hold you responsible.” Shiki warned as he sipped his whiskey.

“Aren’t coworkers supposed to bond over little personal details?” Izaya replied with the beginnings of a smirk twitching at the corners of his lips.

“I prefer professional detachment.” Shiki replied, eyes narrowing slightly. “You could try bonding with Akabayashi over your shared love of voyeurism.”

“Don't compare my desire to observe behavioral patterns in humans with his bizarre obsession with turning everyday events into soap opera level dramatic events.” Izaya scoffed, mock offended.

“Right, because you don't enjoy the drama you cause in other people's everyday lives.” Shiki rebutted. “Pick a movie to watch to fulfill your craving for excitement like a normal person.”

“Movies are predictable.” Izaya complained as he reached for Shiki's remote. “Tropes aren't nearly as entertaining as real people.” He flips through available shows, stopping on Pretty Cure Dream Stars with a smirk. Shiki stares at him over the edge of his glass and snatches the remote.

“I’d accepted that you have a childish streak but I didn’t realize it ran to your taste in movies too.” Izaya grinned and picked up his drink, sipping it slowly and doing his best not to make a face at the strength of the whiskey. Shiki watched in amusement before flipping through to settle on Gukuroku, a murder mystery. Izaya hummed in approval.

“Well it’s no magical girl anime but I suppose it looks interesting enough.” He replied, leaning back and picking at the chinese food.

“If you wanted to know what kind of movie I would pick you could have just asked.”

“Where’s the fun in that? Besides, I assumed your preference for professional detachment meant you wouldn’t tell me.”

“I think we’re well past the point of professional detachment. You just prefer to do things the hard way.”

“Eh? I’m not sure I know what you’re referring to.” Izaya deflected, finishing off his drink and playing idly with the glass, eyes shifting to the TV as the movie started. Shiki snorted and takes the glass, moving to the kitchen to refill both glasses before returning to the couch.

The movie was actually entertaining but alcohol and exhaustion were not a good combination for Izaya and, to Shiki’s amusement, the raven drifted off about halfway through. He carried the raven to his bed, managing to get him undressed and under the covers without waking him, then returned to the living room to finish watching the movie. As much as he wanted to sleep, he knew he wouldn’t be able to. Once the movie was done he moved to his balcony to smoke and read a book.

Izaya woke in the wee hours of the morning, startled to wakefulness by being in a strange place, relaxing only when his memories caught up with him. He frowned slightly when he realized he’d fallen asleep and that Shiki had put him to bed but not joined him. He slipped out of Shiki’s bed, ignoring the temptation of exploring Shiki’s bedroom in favour of making his way back out to the living room in search of the missing executive. He leaned against the sliding balcony door, giving Shiki a slight smile.

“I’m starting to think you never sleep.”

Shiki looked up at Izaya, letting out a slow breath, smoke drifting upward. “I sleep.”

“When no one is around to see it?”

“That is generally how it’s done. It’s usually considered impolite to fall asleep when you have company.” Shiki replied and Izaya arched a brow.

“I sense someone is actually trying to be funny.” He replied, stepping out onto the balcony patio and immediately regretting it as the chill of the concrete permeated his feet. He crossed the distance between them quickly, stradling Shiki’s lap and reaching for his smoke. Shiki held it away from the raven, giving him an amused look.

“Planning to take up smoking, Izaya?” He asked as he dropped the smoke in the ashcan.

“No thanks. Just hoping to steal an indirect kiss.” He replied with a charming grin. Shiki responded by sliding a hand through Izaya’s hair as he brought their lips together in a deep kiss.

“Why bother when you can have a direct one?” He murmured as he pulled back, leaving Izaya a bit breathless.

“Hmm. Fair point.” He agreed, sliding his arms around Shiki’s neck as he sought more kisses from the executive. He was more than content to linger in the heated press of lips, accented by the slow caress of Shiki’s hands over his bare flesh, giving him goosebumps.

“You should have put something on before coming out here.” Shiki observed, drawing fingertips down Izaya’s spine, making him shiver.

“The goal was to get you back inside.” Izaya replied with amusement.

“Is that so?” Shiki buried his face in Izaya’s neck, kissing along the curve where it met with his shoulder. “Should have stayed by the door then.”

“A minor miscalculation.” He protested with a gasp at the graze of Shiki’s teeth against his flesh. Shiki’s hands slid lower, cupping Izaya’s ass and squeezing, pulling the beginnings of a moan from Izaya’s lips.

“Of course.” Shiki replied in amusement before biting down on the soft flesh and drawing a definite moan from Izaya. “How do you plan to adjust?” Izaya’s hands were sliding down to the buttons of Shiki’s shirt, making quick work of them.

“Improvisation.” He replied as he slid his hands over Shiki’s chest then trailed them down to settle on Shiki’s waistband.

“Right here on the balcony?” Shiki replied with amusement, one hand sliding along the crease between Izaya’s cheeks to probe against his entrance. Izaya flushed but before he could respond, Shiki was pressing a finger up inside him, slick with saliva. He groaned at the feeling, hands still gripping the line of Shiki’s belt, focus shifted to the press and tease of Shiki’s fingers. He sought Shiki’s lips, matching Shiki’s slow movements with slow kisses that grew more needy the longer Shiki thrust and stretched and pressed and teased. He groaned in protest when Shiki broke the kiss, drawing fingers back to grip his ass instead and in a smooth motion he was standing and turning to press Izaya’s back against the glass of the patio door.

“Haah!” Izaya protested with a groan. “Cold!” He complained as he wrapped his legs around Shiki’s waist, arms moving to clutch his shoulders. Shiki just gave an amused snort as his hand slid for the latch, pushing the door open before carrying Izaya through. Izaya had Shiki’s shirt half off by the time they reached the bedroom, a trail of marks starting to form along his neck. Shiki took only just long enough to grab lube before he was undoing his pants and pressing inside Izaya. The slick drag of Shiki’s cock thrusting into him without waiting drew a gasp from Izaya, the resistance of his body giving way quickly to the rapid pace Shiki set. Nails dug into Shiki’s shoulders as he clung to the executive, the initial edge of pain turning to pleasure with each thrust, drawing a litany of moans from his lips. Shiki’s hand slid forward to grip Izaya’s cock and began stroking it in rhythm with his thrusts, rapidly urging him over the edge and leaving him gasping as he continued to thrust roughly until he found his own release.

“Was that about what you were hoping for?” Shiki murmured as he drew back, pulling out and shifting to collapse on the bed beside the raven.

“Mmm.” Izaya agreed, releasing his hold on Shiki when the other shifted off him. “Plan: ‘Get Haruya In Bed With Me’ has been a success. However, the need to clean up was not calculated into this plan.”

Shiki snorted in amusement. “I’m not going anywhere if that’s what you’re worried about.” He replied, giving Izaya’s hip a shove. “Go clean up.” Izaya arched a brow at Shiki.

“What, not going to clean me up this time?” He protested even as he was getting up.

“Too tired.” Shiki joked, working on removing his clothes completely as Izaya headed for the washroom. Soon enough Izaya was crawling back into bed, sliding an arm over Shiki’s chest as he curled up next to him.

“Goodnight Haruya.” Izaya murmured as he rested his head on Shiki’s shoulder. Shiki gave the raven a relaxed smile.

“Go to sleep.” He replied, closing his eyes and pressing a light kiss to the top of Izaya’s head.

Chapter Text

The sound of a phone ringing drew Izaya to wakefulness, driving him out of the comfort of Shiki's bed to search for whichever phone happened to be ringing. He glanced at Shiki whose eyes were fixated on the source of the noise with murderous intent. He couldn't help but to smile as he stepped outside the bedroom.

“Moshi Moshi!” Izaya spoke into the phone with a falsely chipper voice.

“Well aren't you just a ray of sunshine.” Kine’s gruff voice greeted him.

“Ah, Kine-san, hearing from you always puts me in a good mood, especially this early in the morning.” Izaya purred into the phone, earning an irritated noise from Kine.

“I'm on my way back with your package. Where do you want me to deliver it?” He asked and Izaya could practically taste the unspoken question in Kine’s voice.

“My apartment. I want to talk to him first, get as much as I can from him on the Tien.”

“Thought so. And after that?”

“Send him home. The whole point of this endeavor was to get his brother off my back.” Izaya replied as he wandered over to Shiki's balcony, staring outside at the skyline. “Knowing the protozoan, if I were to even try to use his brother against him, things would get very ugly for me. Unlike Fei, I can't hide in Hong Kong.”

“I see self preservation is still your number one priority.” Kine replied but Izaya could hear relief in his voice.

“Worried that I was going to try to manipulate Shizu-chan, Kine?” He asked with amusement. “If anyone knows just how problematic he is, it's me.”

“Yes, the one who's been picking fights with him for years.” Kine replied dryly.

“He hasn't caught me yet.”

“I told you years ago to stop fucking around with that guy.” Kine’s voice rang with disapproval, drawing a laugh from Izaya.

“Well I did eventually. It's not my fault Shizu-chan makes such an attractive target for underworld recruitment.”

“If you hadn't been messing with him this might not have happened.”

“You know that's not true. I bet even the Awakusu considered recruiting him at some point.”

“We did.” Shiki's voice, rough with sleep, chimed in from behind Izaya.

“Was that Shiki?” Kine demanded. Izaya shot Shiki an irritated look. “What the hell are you doing with him ?”

“Who did you think my contact with them would be after you left?” Izaya replied with amusement.

“You seriously telling me you're having a meeting with Shiki at six in the fucking morning?” Izaya's lips twitched upward into a smirk at Kine’s tone.

“It's called a working breakfast. I don't know if the news reached you in Hong Kong but both the Orihara and Awakusu families were targeted by a color gang.” Shiki raised a brow at Izaya's attempt to deflect then turned away from him to start the coffee maker.

“Yeah, right.” Kine scoffed. “I told you to stay away from him. He's dangerous, kid.” Izaya rolled his eyes.

“That's what makes it interesting.” He replied. “Let me know when you hit Tokyo. I'll meet you at my apartment.” He hung up before Kine could get another comment in, turning to look at Shiki.

“So when were you going to tell me about this?” Shiki fixed Izaya with an irritated look.

“Certainly not at six am before you've had coffee.” Izaya replied flippantly, turning and disappearing into the bedroom to pull on his boxers and shirt. He returned to find Shiki sitting at the table, halfway through a cup of coffee and scrolling through something on his phone. “Are you suitably human yet?”

“Sit down and start talking.” Shiki replied. Izaya’s expression shifted to neutral at Shiki's obvious displeasure as he poured himself a cup of coffee.

“I told you I was following a hunch.” He said with a shrug as he leaned against the counter. ”It paid off.”

“You used Kine?” Izaya inclined his head slightly in acknowledgement.

“I needed someone who could travel without being noticed. Kine’s good at staying under the radar.”

“Walk me through it.” Izaya sighed and took a sip of coffee before beginning.

“Shizuo’s behavior was odd. I've known him for years and he's never gone looking for violence. He avoids it, for the most part, or at least he tries to. I said as much the night I was out with Aozaki and he chased me. The odds of him joining or even working for the syndicate without some kind of pressure are very slim. When I found out that he targeted the Blue Squares, that just confirmed my opinion on his behavior.”

“Yes, you'd established as much previously. I'm more interested in hearing about your hunch and the actions you decided to take.”

“Well I just narrowed down the things Shizu-chan considers important. It's not a particularly long list to begin with and the most obvious one has always been his brother. If I was going to try to control someone, using their family was just common sense but in Shizuo’s case, it would have to be from a distance because if he figured out where his brother was, he'd just walk in and destroy everything until he got his brother back.”

“I would think a gun to his brother’s head might convince him not to act too rashly.” Shiki observed with a raised brow.

“Possibly. Possibly not if he thinks he can get to the person before they can shoot. If he even gave it that much thought. He's not exactly the most tactical of fighters.And a gunshot wound might not even kill him.”

“So the syndicate had his brother.” Shiki prodded, not wanting the raven to get too side-tracked by his obsession with Shizuo.

“In Hong Kong, yes. I looked into Kasuka’s whereabouts and found out that he was filming a movie in Hong Kong. It could have been legit. Hong Kong does have a huge film industry, but after looking into the actual movie company, I thought it looked pretty sketchy. So I sent Kine to investigate. He found Kasuka and got him out of the syndicate’s hands.”

“And you didn't think keeping me informed of this was important?” Izaya slow-blinked, attempting to work through Shiki's motivations. Part of Shiki's attitude was likely because of the early morning wake up but it seemed he was particularly irritated with the fact that Izaya didn't tell him what he'd been doing. He was a control freak, Izaya mused. It might simply be that. He shrugged lazily.

“Shizu-chan is my problem, not yours.” He replied, spinning his cup in his hand slowly. “He isn't targeting the Awakusu or even my family as a whole. Just me. No need to get everyone involved in it.”

“The Beast of ‘Bukuro is targeting the Orihara heir with the intention of killing him. Yes, I can see how that's only a ’you’ problem.” Shiki replied dryly. Izaya arched a brow at the response.

“Well it's not as if anyone would take it seriously. We've been fighting since high school. Everyone just thinks it's par for the course.”

“I took it seriously.” Shiki pointed out.

“Because it had the potential to impact your business. But it's not a concern. I'm taking care of it. Once Shizu-chan has his brother back he'll go back to avoiding me as long as I don't pick a fight.” Shiki gave Izaya a measuring sort of look, one that left Izaya feeling a bit uncomfortable under the scrutiny though he didn't show it outwardly.

“With a statement like that, I expect you will be picking a fight.” Shiki mused as he took a sip of his coffee. Izaya's lips split into a slight smirk and he gave another shrug.

“Who knows? Shizu-chan is a highly entertaining test subject. For now, though, I'm more interested in dealing with Fei.”

“That doesn't alleviate my concerns at all.”

“Oh? And what would?”

“If you weren't quite so set on starting fires under people.” Shiki replied with a hint of a smile.

“Well that's just too much too ask.”

 

~

 

“Do you think they're fucking?”

“Haaah?” Aozaki looked up from the paperwork he was attempting to complete with a disgruntled and confused expression. “Of course not.” Was his instinctual reply before realizing that he didn't actually know who Akabayashi was talking about. At that point he was committed though, and there was no way he was going to admit that he had no idea who or what Akabayashi was talking about.

“See, I wasn't sure at first. Didn't think Shiki swung that way, even if it's pretty obvious that the kid’s got the hots for him.”

“The hots? Pretty sure that's not what the kids are saying these days.”

“Pretty sure you don't actually know what the kids are saying these days.”

“Pretty sure hanging out with kids half your age is all kinds or weird, oi-chan.”

“That's beside the point.”

“Orihara flirts with everything. He's young. Unlike you.” Aozaki pointed out. “Besides, it's pretty obvious he does it to try to get under Shiki's skin.”

“You'd think he'd have given up by now if that was the case. Shiki doesn't ever get ruffled by his behaviour.” Aozaki grunts.

“Shiki doesn't ever get ruffled by anything. Why do you care, anyway?”

“The Orihara heir getting fucked by an Awakusu executive? That's practically scandalous.” Akabayashi replied with a grin. “And quite possibly blackmail worthy.” Aozaki snorted.

“You're going to blackmail Shiki and the kid? Good luck with that. I'll be sure to come by your grave and laugh at you.”

 

~

 

“I've been reviewing the information Izaya put together on the gang that attacked the warehouse.” Shirou commented, putting the folder down as Kyouko refilled his coffee cup. “For only having a day to put it together, it's quite comprehensive.”

“Of course it is.” Kyouko replied matter of factly. Shirou raised an eyebrow at his wife. “Maybe you should tell him as much.” She added with an arch of her own slender brow.

“When he comes by later. I spoke with Wei this morning. Do you know why Izaya would need to smuggle people out of Hong Kong?”

“Several come to mind but I wouldn't know specifically. You probably haven't noticed but Izaya keeps his own business pretty close to his chest.” Shirou gave Kyouko an amused look.

“If that's your way of saying I should be paying more attention to our son, consider the message delivered.” Kyouko gave her husband a considering look then changed the subject.

“What do you think of Mikiya’s men?” Shirou immediately narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.

“You're fishing, my dear.” She gave him an amused laugh.

“Maybe. Shiki, in particular?” Shirou considered the Awakusu executive for a moment before responding.

“Well he certainly has a reputation and he seems to live up to it. I've heard he can be quite violent when need arises. Also that he's unfailingly loyal in a time when loyalty is getting harder to find. I think Mikiya’s lucky to have a man like that supporting his family.” “It's a shame we didn't find him before the Awakusu did.” Kyouko mused. “It would have made things simpler if he had been an Orihara.” Shirou arched a brow.

“What are you planning?”

“Me? Nothing at all, husband.” She replied without pause, smirking slightly. Shirou just shook his head slightly. Whatever Kyouko was thinking, she'd only reveal when she was ready so it was pointless trying to drag it out of her. It left him wondering about this new interest in Haruya Shiki, however.

 

~

 

“Your presence is not necessary.” Izaya complained. “I can send you the notes on what I learn from him later.”

“I want to hear what he has to say myself.” Shiki replied as he drove toward Izaya's apartment. “Having more than one perspective is useful, you know.”

“Oooh are we playing good yakuza-bad yakuza?”

“There is so much wrong with what you just said.”

“I assume you want to be the bad yakuza.”

“As if you qualify as good in the moral sense of the word.”

“Well at least I can pretend to be nice. The closest you can come is coolly polite. You radiate murder, you know.”

“I think you've confused me with Aozaki.”

“No, he just radiates a different kind of murder. Do you put that on your resume? ‘Excellent negotiation skills’?”

“Because when you join the Yakuza, the first thing we ask for is a resume.”

“Maybe you should. Good yakuza are so hard to find nowadays…”

“Go ahead and suggest that to your father and Mikiya.” He paused and shook his head. “On second thought, don't suggest it to Mikiya. He might actually consider it.” Izaya cackled at that thought but the conversation was interrupted by the ring of his cell phone.

“Moshi Moshi Yuuto.” He spoke into the phone.

“Where are you?” Yuuto’s voice was strained and full of concern. Izaya's expression grew serious.

“Just about at my apartment, why?”

“Turn around and find somewhere else to be.”

“Ehhh? I can't, I'm meeting Kine there. What's going on?”

“The apartment’s been… Uh… Broken into…”

“That's vague and unsettling. Are you there.”

“Hell no. I saw your door busted off the hinges and turned right back around. I'm in the lobby.” A chill settled over Izaya with that description.

“Shizu-chan.”

“I would assume. I have no idea if he's still there or not.” Izaya fell silent, thinking through his options as Shiki pulled into his apartment parking lot. “Izaya?” Yuuto prodded.

“Well there's nothing to do but go have a look. I need you to watch for Kine, he should be arriving any minute with the only thing that might actually smooth this over.”

“Are you crazy?” Yuuto exclaimed. “He came to your apartment, Izaya. I'm pretty damn sure talking isn't on his mind.”

“Well then I suppose it will be a fight. I can't exactly ignore the fact that he's in my apartment, now can I?” He heard Yuuto sigh.

“Fine, I'll watch for Kine. What do you want me to tell your parents when he inevitably launches you through that wall of windows and you splatter on the pavement?” Izaya snickered at that.

“No faith in me.” He replied then hung up. Shiki had parked in the visitor parking while he'd been talking, turning to look at Izaya.

“You didn't plan for this, did you?”

“Mm.” The noise was as close to an admission as he would come. “Shizu-chan didn't know about my apartment. Someone must have told him and I have a feeling I know who. Or maybe he sniffed me out like a dog. Apparently he has a ridiculous sense of smell.”

“You should wait for your hostage to arrive.”

“Probably but if it appears that I'm using him as a hostage, Shizuo will react with the assumption that his baby brother is being threatened. You should probably wait here as well. There is a high likelihood of flying furniture.” Shiki gave him a flat look and got out of the car, walking toward the elevator without waiting for Izaya. Izaya caught up quickly, smirking at Shiki but keeping his silence. He didn't really want Shiki there, knowing Shizuo’s general lack of care regarding collateral damage but he was also kind of glad to know that Shiki was willing to have his back in this.

It was obvious as soon as they stepped off the elevator. His door was completely missing, likely somewhere inside the apartment. As he stepped through the doorway he saw the door, wood fractured from an impact point.

“Izaya-kun.” The deep growl of Shizuo's voice rolled through the spacious apartment and his gaze shifted to see the blonde sitting on his couch, smoking.

“I suppose it was too much to hope that the beast had gone home after tearing up the place.” He remarked flippantly. “Smoking in someone else's home is the height of rudeness Shizu-chan. Didn't your parents teach you any manners?”

Shizuo rose slowly and moved forward a few steps, giving Shiki a view of Izaya's high school rival for the first time. He was tall, certainly above average in height yet despite having half a foot or so in height over Izaya, he looked like he only had maybe twenty pounds on the raven. To look at him, Shiki never would have guessed that he could rip a street sign straight out of the cement but he could practically taste the air of violence that surrounding him. It was nothing so obvious as appearance - despite the bleached blonde hair and the smoking, Heiwajima still had a very unassuming sort of look. This was the kind of aura that came with casual violence.

“Where's my brother, flea.” Shizuo growled around the cigarette dangling from his lips. His hands curled into fists and there was murder in his gaze. None of that seemed to faze Izaya at all - if anything he looked amused by the situation.

“That is a question better put to your most recent of employers. Unless, of course, he told you I had your brother.” There was a flicker of acknowledgement in Shizuo's expression that Izaya latched onto. “And, like the big dumb beast you are, you believed him.”

“I'm not the idiot here. Fei was protecting my brother while Kasuka was filming in Hong Kong. You're the liar here. Always have been.”

“Oh? Have you spoken with Kasuka recently? I'm guessing not because I know he would have a different story to tell you about Hong Kong.”

Where's my brother, flea!” Shizuo yelled at Izaya, taking a few more steps toward him. Izaya, for his part, looked ready to run at any moment, muscles strung tight from adrenaline and anticipation.

“In the care of an acquaintance. On his way here as we speak. Rescued from his kidnappers by me. You're fucking welcome.” Izaya purred, lips curving up into a smile that could cut glass. He moved toward his desk, keeping a healthy distance between himself and Shizuo while also moving away from Shiki. “If you could bother to look past your own hypocrisy, maybe you would have figured out that Fei was the one holding your brother hostage-” The glass coffee table shattered against the wall behind Izaya, causing him to narrow his eyes. That it didn't hit him was only due to his own speed and preparedness for the inevitable violence.

“Shut up! This whole situation is your fault! If it weren't for your meddling Kasuka would have been safe. You think you're so clever, so untouchable. Precious yakuza heir, who would dare to mess with you? So you just fuck with people and don't care who gets hurt as long as you're entertained.”

While the accusation held some truth to it, as usual Shizuo’s view of the truth was twisted by his own feelings. Izaya wasn't entirely sure why Shizuo was accusing him of meddling, immediately making him wonder what sort of bullshit Fei had been feeding him. “I never messed with your brother, Shizu-chan.”

“It was your fucking family! It had to be you. Why else would your family go after him? You're just trying to hide behind them but it won't work!”

“My family didn't go after Kasuka-” An end table joined the coffee table and Izaya cringed at the thought of how much money he was going to have to waste on replacing his furniture as he danced out of the way.

“Don't you dare say his name!” Shizuo growled. “You can’t lie your way out of this one!”

“He’s not lying, brother.” The even tone floated across the chaos, drawing the attention of both Shiki and Shizuo. Izaya’s gaze remained fixed on the blonde menace, more concerned with staying alive and unhurt than the presence of the younger Heiwajima. Kasuka looked around the room, taking in the smashed furniture without any change of expression, strangely apathetic in the face of a clearly tense situation.

“Kasuka!” Shizuo turned to his brother, relief in his voice. “Don’t believe anything that snake told you. I saw proof that his family was involved.”

“Orihara-san never had contact with me, brother.” Kasuka replied. “Nor any of the Orihara-kai. It has been a very long day. I would like to go home. I will tell you what happened on the way.” Shizuo narrowed his eyes suspiciously, turning his attention back to Izaya.

“As soon as I take care of this pest we can go home.” He cracked his knuckles and reached for Izaya’s couch.

“Oh come on!” Izaya exclaimed. “I just got that couch!”

“Brother I owe Orihara-san a debt for rescuing me.” Kasuka pointed out, causing Shizuo to pause then let the couch go.

“Consider the debt paid in me not squishing you like the flea you are.” He growled at Izaya, moving toward his brother and the door. “This isn’t over Izaya-kun. I know you were involved. Next time I see you you’re dead.”

“My apologies Orihara-san. Thank you for sending your man to help me.” Kasuka says, giving Izaya a formal bow before turning to leave. Kine and Shiki both cleared the doorway, allowing for the brothers to leave. Once they were gone, Yuuto joined them in the apartment.

“That could have gone better…” Izaya mused, staring at the shattered glass thoughtfully.

“That could have gone a lot worse.” Kine pointed out gruffly. “You got a death wish, kid?” Izaya ignored Kine’s grumbling.

“Shame I couldn’t talk to Kasuka. I’m particularly curious now as to why Shizuo thought my family had anything to do with Kasuka’s kidnapping.”

“Your family does have holdings in Hong Kong.” Shiki said, crossing his arms over his chest. “It’s possible Fei was just lying to him. It’s not as if Heiwajima could have confirmed what was going on in Hong Kong.”

“No, but if it was just a lie, it was a pretty weak one. My family has no reason to kidnap Kasuka. He’s certainly not famous enough to be worth ransoming yet, even if his career looks promising. I suppose Shizu-chan is just naive enough at times to take even a bad lie for truth if it gives him an excuse to turn me into an even bigger villain.”

“He has terrifying focus when it comes to you. What exactly did you do to him in high school to earn such hatred?”

“I tried to be his friend.” Izaya replied flippantly. It was more or less the truth; he had offered his friendship to the beast in his own way. For reasons Izaya still didn’t understand, Shizuo had taken an immediate dislike to him.

“I thought you had better social skills than that.” Shiki replied and Izaya snorted in amusement.

“Shizuo’s not the sort to fall for a pretty face, Shiki-san.” Izaya smirked at him, catching Kine visibly grinding his teeth at the exchange. “He’s more of an ‘all violence, all the time’ kind of guy.”

“Didn’t help that you constantly found ways to piss him off.” Kine scolded. “Whatever dumb teenager shit you were doing in high school, you better hope Kasuka talks him down, because that was not his normal look. He looked like he was ready to actually kill you, not just chase you around the city.” Izaya shrugged, apathetic to Kine’s concerns.

“Well the point of this was to get him to stop chasing me so I have no intention of being anywhere near him for the next little while. With his brother safe, he has no immediate reason to come after me.”

“I have a feeling that might not last.” Shiki commented, shaking his head slightly.

“Of course it won’t last.” Kine grumbled his agreement.

“Nice to see how much faith you two have in me.” Izaya replied with a snort.

 

~

 

“A shame Heiwajima didn’t follow through. I’m quite impressed by the Orihara heir. He’s very clever. It’s a shame these yakuza families are so loyal. He’d make a very useful ally.”

“I doubt you could guarantee his loyalty even if he wasn’t a member of the yakuza.” One of Fei’s advisors spoke up. “He sells information for profit. I heard he even sells to the cops sometimes.” Fei gave a shrug.

“I didn’t say I’d invite him to join the syndicate. Just that he would be very useful to have around. I wonder if I could break him…”

Chapter Text

“Orihara-san, I think we need to consider recruiting.” Shijima spoke up, raising his gaze from the ledger and pushing up his glasses. “Nakura can't keep up with the demand. We've actually had to turn down buyers.”

“Hm.” Izaya replied noncommittally, currently more interested in the book he was reading than his ‘club’ mate.

“Orihara-san.” Shijima prompted again. Then “Izaya.” The raven arched a brow at the use of his given name but didn't raise his gaze until he had finished the current page he was on. Shijima sighed in irritation, but waited nonetheless.

“I have a different idea for the distribution of the drug.” He replied, shifting to pull a short list of names from between the pages of the book.  “But a few bodies are unfortunately necessary. Use these people.” He handed the list to Shijima then turned his attention back to the book.

“I'll give it to Nakura. What's so fascinating about Japanese lineages? You've been obsessed with that book all week.”

“Absolutely nothing.” Izaya replied with a shrug. “It's for an assignment.” It wasn't a complete lie; it did qualify as an assignment of sorts, but Shijima was hardly trustworthy enough to know about Izaya's other jobs.

“Speaking of assignments, did you finish the criminology essay?” Izaya gave Shijima a flat look. “Of course you did. How did it go?”

“I should get my grade later today. Still struggling with it?” Shijima shook his head.

“I settled on a safer topic.”

“How boring.”

~

“So I heard you were with Orihara when his place got broken into.” Akabayashi said as he sauntered into Shiki’s office, cane tapping on the floor as he walked. He settled on Shiki’s couch without waiting for the invitation that Shiki had no intention of offering. Shiki, in return, didn’t bother looking up from the inventory report he was currently working on, deciding where to send the new art prints between the multiple Awakusu galleries.

“That is correct.” He replied, confirming the obvious but refusing to give Akabayashi any more information.

“I also heard you had a breakfast meeting with him.” Akabayashi continued with a grin. Shiki didn’t even bat an eye.

“Yes, Orihara was passing on what he found out about the gang that vandalized our holdings and how they were also responsible for the warehouse fire.”

“I was surprised to hear that you were up that early.” Akabayashi prodded and Shiki contemplated how upset Izaya would be if Kine happened to disappear.

“I’m surprised you don’t think a direct attack on both families deserves an adjustment to normal operating hours.”

“So did you have this meeting at your place or his?” Akabayashi goaded.

“Akabayashi, if you have nothing better to do than rest your ass on my couch, Dougen wants to see more art on the walls. Why don’t you go pick some out and let my aide know what to hang.” Shiki replied in a flat voice, as clear a dismissal of the other executive as if he’d said ‘get out’.

“Ah yes, we wouldn’t want people to think that this art gallery is just a front…” Akabayashi chuckled as he stood up and moved toward the door. He paused in the doorway, glancing back at Shiki with a positively awful grin. “One last question… Does he call you Daddy at your ‘breakfast meetings’ too?” That got a response out of Shiki. He slowly looked up from his work giving Akabayashi a positively murderous look.

“Your lack of professionalism is already glaringly obvious Akabayashi. Try not to let Orihara’s behaviour drag you down even further.” He responded, tone laced with ice. Akabayashi’s grin just widened and he chuckled as he left Shiki’s office.

~

“This includes the information Wei sent over?” Shirou confirmed, taking the file from his son.

“Yes, I cross referenced as much as I could with what he gave me.” Izaya replied with a nod of his head as he settled in a chair across from his father. “The original Jade Dragons found themselves targeted by a triad some years ago and that left them fractured. As I understand it, Ito's father died in the confrontation, along with most of the gang's leadership. The rest of the gang scattered but didn't exactly disband. They continued to operate in small groups, nothing like how they had been before but still alive. The triads ignored them at that point since they were too small to be any kind of threat. Seems Ito's mother was helped by the gang after she lost her husband so Hiroshi was basically raised by petty criminals.”

“Yes, that rings a bell.” Shirou acknowledged. “I believe they were interfering with some of the triads operations down in the docks districts.”

“I'm still unclear on why they would be targeting us, however. Wei says we never had any dealings with them in Hong Kong and I can't find anything connecting Ito's father to us either.”

Shirou tapped his fingers on his desk as he scanned the information Izaya had brought him. He paused to study the picture of Hiroshi Ito, a year younger than Izaya with hair bleached at the tips and dyed green. He had a fierce sort of look to him, the kind that said he was out to prove something. “How large is their presence here?”

“Not very at the moment. He brought some people with him, most of them in the country illegally. Word on the street says he's recruiting from the non-Japanese population, spending a lot of time chatting up the Koreans, Chinese, Phillippinos. I looked into his college admission. He's here on a grant. I could probably pull his funding but since his father was a Japanese citizen, that won't get him immediately deported.”

“It would be best to watch him for now I think, until we have a better understanding of his motives. Good work, Izaya.” Izaya's eyes lit up and he smiled at his father's praise.

“I'll keep eyes on him. I saw you accepted Mikiya's offer of extra security for the warehouses.”

“Yes, I wasn't going to, but your mother teamed up with Mikiya against me.” Shirou admitted wryly. Izaya grimaced at the thought, sharing an understanding look with his father.

“Well it eases the Awakusu's conscience. Their part in this alliance was protection after all and it probably stings their pride a bit to know that they were unable to stop us from suffering losses.” Shirou gave a slight nod of acknowledgement. Pride in duty he could understand and Izaya's careful phrasing eased his own discomfort with having to ask for help. Izaya smiled, thinking that if Shiki hadn't pointed it out to him, he might have been more inclined to refuse help as well.

“Speaking of the Awakusu, your mother has developed a keen interest in the executives you've been working with. Keener than usual.” Shirou said with a soft sigh. “I don't suppose you have a better idea of why than I do?” Izaya raised a brow, shaking his head slowly. “I'm hardly her confidant, Dad. If she's not telling you, I doubt she'd let me in on it. It was her plan to have me working with them in the first place to get a better understanding of the Awakusu's strengths and weaknesses so maybe she's just following up on that.” Izaya didn't show it to his father but his mother's interest in the Awakusu was unsettling.

“It's possible, I suppose, but she had that plotting look. She asked me what I thought of Shiki specifically.” The unsettling feeling grew into concern.

“She's probably interested in him because Shiki is my primary contact with the Awakusu, particularly with my information business.”

“Oh? I didn't realize that he was your partner in that.” His father replied with a raised brow.

“Not a partner.” Izaya replied with a shake of his head. “A client.”

“I see. It may be that.” Shirou ceded, expression turned thoughtful. “I assumed that the Awakusu had informants of their own.”

“Oh I'm sure they do.” Izaya ceded. “But I doubt any of them are better than me.” Shirou arched a brow at his son's seeming arrogance, studying Izaya for a moment before responding.

“I don't doubt your skills, Izaya, but don't let arrogance lead you.” He chided with a slight smile. Izaya's lips curved up into a smirk.

“It's not arrogance, Father. It's hard work, applied intelligence and manipulation.”

“You sound like your mother.” Shirou replied, amused.

“I'll take that as a compliment.”

~

“Don't you both usually avoid these kinds of things?” Yuuto asked as he drove the two Oriharas toward a bar favored by the Awakusu, specifically for their poker games. Father and son exchanged a glance.

“Kyouko is attempting to make daifuku with the twins and Akane.” Shirou replied.

“Ahhhh.” Yuuto nodded in understanding. “She's been spending more time with the twins lately.” He observed.

“I think she's just working on Mikiya's wife.” Izaya replied with an amused smirk.

“Definitely.” Shirou confirmed. “And she's having trouble fitting in with the other mothers. She's been complaining to me about how boring they are.” Izaya chuckled at that. “Jonny's going to be there tonight.” Shirou mused. “Apparently he and Akabayashi hit it off at the retreat and whenever he's in town he joins their poker games.”

“Oh?” Izaya arched a brow at that. “I suppose they would get along well. They're both brash.”

“Jonny wasn’t particularly happy about losing at the retreat either.” Yuuto added with a grin. “He’s a good player but he only managed to win a few hands against Akabayashi. I heard he’s been keeping score.”

Izaya chuckled in amusement. “Well if he gets desperate, I can always help him cheat.”

“Izaya.” Shirou chided. “No need to ruin a friendly card game like that.”

“The Orihara name is on the line though. This may call for drastic measures.” Izaya defended with a smirk.

“I think the clan will survive.” Shirou replied dryly as Yuuto pulled up in front of the bar. “I think our reputation will suffer more if you’re caught cheating.” Izaya shrugged as he got out of the car.

“I wouldn’t get caught…” He trailed off, years of dodging random objects giving him a sixth sense for violence. He turned just in time to spot the man with a green bandana covering his face as he stepped toward the car as Shirou was getting out. “Dad!” He yelled in warning, causing Shirou to turn away from the man but not fast enough to avoid the plunge of the knife. Izaya’s eyes widened in fury and he was moving, throwing himself over the hood of the car, his own knife sliding open. Shirou grabbed the man’s wrist, turning the blade downward, grunting as it sank into his thigh instead of the vital organs the gang member was no doubt aiming for. The man let go of the knife, jerking his arm back to break Shirou’s hold and turning only to find himself face to face with a very angry Izaya and a blade pressed to his throat. “Don’t even think about moving.” He hissed as Shirou stepped away, leaning against the car. Yuuto was moving toward Shirou, offering his shoulder in support as the door of the bar flew open and several Awakusu thugs moved toward them. In a matter of minutes Shirou’s attacker was dragged inside followed by the Oriharas.

“What the hell was that?” Aozaki appeared from the back, looking at the punk who was visibly terrified. Jonny pushed past him, moving to his oyabun’s side as Yuuto and Izaya helped him into a chair, the knife still lodged in his thigh.

“First aide kit?” Jonny demanded, looking back at Aozaki. The blue devil was busy leaning over the Jade Dragon who was now tied to a chair.

“Someone’s got a death wish.” He growled but the gang member just stared back at him, terror and confusion in his expression. The bartender was pulling out a small first aide kit from behind the bar and Izaya moved to take it, placing it on the table beside his father and throwing the lid open. Jonny immediately began rummaging through it for antiseptic and bandages while Yuuto used Izaya’s knife to cut the cloth away from the wound.

“Police are on their way.” Came the cool voice of Shiki as he and Akabayashi joined the rest of them. “Specifically a cop on the take.” He added before Shirou could protest. “And I contacted your doctor friend as well.” He added to Izaya who had been reaching for his own phone. Izaya’s attention turned toward the gang member and he was moving straight for the man, a thin smile creasing his lips. Shiki moved to intercept, not liking the look in Izaya’s eyes, but he wasn’t quite fast enough and the raven had another knife out and curving down toward the man’s thigh. Aozaki grabbed Izaya’s wrist and jerked him back before he could do any damage, giving him a slight shove away from their prisoner.

“Trust me kid, I would love to let you cut him to pieces but we won’t get anything out of him that way.” Izaya’s lips curved into a snarl and for a brief moment he looked like he was seriously considering going through Aozaki to get to the Dragon. Shiki put a hand on Izaya’s arm, feeling the raven tense at his touch then slowly relax, turning his gaze away from the man.

“Get what you can from him but it won’t be much.” He hissed through gritted teeth. “He doesn’t speak or understand Japanese.” Aozaki and Shiki exchanged a surprised look then Aozaki shrugged.

“Something is better than nothing.” Shiki replied. “As much as we’d all like to see this piece of shit bleed out, it’s better to deal with this through legal channels.”

“I hope your doctor friend gets here soon.” Jonny spoke and Izaya turned to look at his father. Shirou was pale, paler than he should have been. With the blade still in the wound, he hadn’t lost much blood yet and it being in the thigh, no vitals had been hit. Izaya frowned and moved toward his father.

“Dad?” He spoke, drawing Shirou’s attention but it was obvious he was having trouble focusing.

“Izaya!” Shinra burst through the door, Celty hovering behind him. Izaya was momentarily surprised to see the dullahan present.

“Shinra, my father was stabbed but he’s reacting oddly.” Izaya said with a frown as the doctor rushed over to Shirou, immediately setting to work checking the wound and Shirou’s vitals.

“His heart rate is below normal and he looks like he’s going into some sort of toxin induced shock.” Shinra observed with concern. “I need to get him back to my place. Celty, can you seal the wound until I can treat it?” The dullahan nodded and without concern for the gathered yakuza, shadows flowed from her, wrapping around the stab wound and the knife. Yuuto had already met Celty but Aozaki and Jonny both gaped for a moment. Akabayashi’s eyes narrowed slightly in curiosity while Shiki didn’t react at all, turning instead to Izaya.

“Go with Kishitani-sensei. I’ll make sure this bastard is dealt with.” Izaya’s gaze slid to the gang member briefly then he nodded and turned to follow Celty and Shinra out of the bar.

Chapter Text

“The blade was poisoned, that’s why your father reacted the way he did.” Shinra spoke quietly as he let Izaya into the room where his father was sleeping. “Oleander… An odd choice for poison, honestly. There are many more easily acquired poisons that would be far more effective.”

“The plant…?” Izaya frowned at that, settling in the chair beside the bed, looking at his father with concern.

“Yes, it’s highly toxic and causes a variety of toxin related symptoms but most notably, it can cause cardiac anomalies. Your father is probably going to be feeling pretty sick for the next few days.” Izaya pulled out his phone and began to do some quick searches on the plant, looking for significance in the choice. In the language of flowers it meant caution but this was an attempt at murder, not a warning. Unless the warning was meant for someone close to Shirou? His frown deepened as he considered what he’d learned about the Jade Dragons. He was missing something big, a key piece somewhere that would draw all his information together.

“How is he?” Kyouko asked as she stepped through the door. “Thank you Kishitani-sensei for your quick assistance.” She added, giving Shinra a slight bow before crossing the room to the bed. She placed her hand on Shirou’s forehead, brushing his hair back gently.

“He’ll be fine, Orihara-san.” Shinra replied. “He just needs to rest for a few days. He may feel nauseous so keep his diet to soups or easy to digest, neutral foods like rice.” Kyouko gave him an odd look, having missed the explanation about the poison.

“He was stabbed?” She confirmed.

“Ah, yes, I was telling Izaya the blade was coated in poison.” Shinra repeated for Kyouko’s sake. “The knife wound should heal clean but will scar.” Kyouko smiled a bit at that.

“Another scar to add to his collection.” She turned her attention to Izaya. “I understand the Awakusu have the asshole who did this?” Izaya nodded slowly, only partially listening to his mother as he continued reviewing the information he had.

“I’ll head back to find out what they got out of that thug now that you’re here.” He replied distantly and Kyouko frowned.

“Izaya, please be careful. These Dragons have been very aggressive in their actions.”

“Then maybe it’s time to show some aggressive retaliation.” Izaya responded, lips drawn into a thin line as he looked up at his mother. “That thug knew where we would be. He targeted the head of the family. That may as well be a declaration of war.” Kyouko put her hand on Izaya’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze.

“I know but I’d rather not see my son end up hurt because he let his emotions drive his actions.” Izaya arched a brow and shook his head.

“I’m not. Trust me Mother.” Kyouko sighed and nodded.

“Let me know what you find out.”

~

The address Shiki had sent him was a warehouse on the south edge of Ikebukuro along the Kanda River. The area was abandoned, most of the warehouses sitting empty, the perfect place to deal with problems. Izaya was met at the door by Yuuto, looking anxious.

“He’ll be fine.” Izaya reassured, glancing around, taking in the scene. Shiki was leaning against the wall with a smoke between his lips. He’d removed his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves but that hadn’t been quite enough to save his suit from collateral damage. A spray of what Izaya assumed was blood had left a splatter pattern along one of his pant legs. Akabayashi was currently standing next to the prisoner, hands resting on his cane as he smirked at Aozaki. The blue devil was applying his fist to the prisoner’s stomach, forcing a pained exhale out of the man who had been strung up rather neatly with rope. Izaya’s lips curved up in amusement. Shiki’s work, no doubt. He thought, remembering their visit to Fei’s club. The Dragon was looking on the verge of passing out, bruises bloomed across visible skin, blood dripping from his mouth as he panted and writhed in pain.

“Seems he’s run out of things to tell us.” Aozaki grunted, turning away from the man. “Unless you got more questions for him, kid?” He asked, noting Izaya’s presence.

“That would depend on what he’s said so far.” Shiki pushed away from the wall, pulling out his phone and handing it over to the raven. “You recorded it for me?” He asked, grin widening a bit.

“I don’t speak Mandarin.” Shiki replied with a shrug. “And Yuuto admitted that he couldn’t understand everything the man babbled.”

“Yeah, sorry, I got most of it but near the end he started talking real fast. Basically he’s just a lackey, new to the gang. I guess Ito told him that he had to prove himself by taking out a member of the Orihara-kai. Gave him the address and told him to wait for ‘the pretty one’.” Izaya frowned.

“The pretty one?” He repeated, eyes shifting to the prisoner. “I was his target?” Yuuto nodded. Izaya’s frown deepened as he added this new revelation to the puzzle. So Ito wanted him dead. He looked down at Shiki’s phone then handed it back. “Email it to me, I’ll listen to it later.” His focus turned to the prisoner whose eyes widened slightly at the raven’s attention. His gaze narrowed, eyes shining with a delight as he stepped closer, switching to Mandarin. “So I was your target, was I? Seemes you fucked that up pretty good. Did you even know who you were targeting?” The man shook his head.

“He just showed us your picture. Told us you were part of another gang. We didn’t know you were yakuza!” The man was obviously desperate as he spoke.

“We?” Izaya asked as he pulled out his knife. “Who is ‘we’?”

“The other two recruits. They got sent to different locations to wait for you. I don’t know where they were sent.” The man eyed the knife warily.

“Tell me about the poison on your knife.”

“I don’t know anything about it! The boss just told us to use it. Said he was sending a message.”

“Sending a message, was he? And what was the message?” He pressed the flat of the blade against the man’s chin, lifting it up.

“I swear, I don’t know! Please! We just thought we were joining a gang! We didn’t know he planned to pick a fight with yakuza! I never would have gotten involved if I’d known!”

“Pathetic. If I was your target, why did you stab my father?”

“Because you noticed me before I could get close to you! I thought as long as I took out one of you, that would be enough for the boss.” Izaya flicked his knife, drawing a thin line across the man’s already bruised cheek. He watched the blood form along the edge then begin to drip down.

“What’s your name?” The man stared at him in confusion at the unexpected question. None of the others had cared about his name. Izaya pressed a thumb against the cut, smearing the blood and making it sting. “Don’t make me repeat myself.”

“H-huan L-long.” He stuttered.

“Well, Huan Long, you don’t seem to be living up to either parts of your name.” Izaya observed with a cruel smirk as he drew his blade across the other cheek, matching cuts. “What am I going to do with you? I can hardly let an attack on my family stand but you’re nothing more than the messenger… and a bad one at that. I doubt Ito actually cares about you at all either, so you’re no good to me as a hostage. I assume that, like most humans, you don’t really want to die here. I mean, I can only imagine that your willingness to talk comes from the faint hope that I might let you live if you tell me what I want, yes?” Huan’s eyes widened as Izaya spoke.

“Hey, give him some credit. He didn’t start talking immediately.” Yuuto replied, indicating the others. “Took a bit of encouragement from them.” Izaya glanced at Yuuto with amusement.

“Ah so not completely spineless. Tell me, Huan, why should I let you live?” The man just gaped at him, trying to understand where the conversation was going. He had no answer, unable to think of a reason good enough for the men who stood around him, especially the raven with the red eyes that seemed to see right through him. The man who was supposed to be his victim.

“Let me work for you instead!” He gasped desperately. Izaya laughed, a sharp, mocking sound that poured from his lips easily.

“Work for me? Oh that’s delightful! How absolutely desperately human of you!” He clapped his hands, clearly entertained by the response. Yuuto grabbed the man by the hair and jerked his head back.

“Why would you possibly think we would want a worthless coward like you?” He asked angrily. The man gasped in pain, staring up at Yuuto with wide eyes.

“If I go back, Ito will accept me into the gang. I can spy for you!” He pleaded.

“As if we could trust you not to turn back to Ito the moment you’re out the door. You’ve already proven that your only loyalty is to your own pathetic life.” Yuuto continued dismissively, watching the man begin to panic.

“I wouldn’t! You’re not like Ito! I know he set me up on a suicidal job with every intention of throwing me away! If I’d known that was the way he treated his men I never would have joined!” Izaya snorted and turned away from the man, dropping back to Japanese.

“This piece of shit wants to turn on Ito to save his own skin.” Izaya informed the others, none of which looked particularly interested in taking the man up on his offer.

“Untrustworthy.” Aozaki echoed Yuuto’s sentiment.

“Besides which, he has no useful ties. Ito was willing to throw him away in this assassination attempt.” Shiki pointed out.

“And if this is a show of his character, Ito will never put him in a position of trust.” Akabayashi added, the three of them summarizing everything Izaya had already considered neatly.

“Murder is bad for business, as much as I’d like to watch him bleed out right here.” Izaya concluded with a disappointed sigh. “I suppose we hand him over to your cop, Shiki. Since he’s in the country illegally, he’ll be deported pretty quick and if he disappears in Hong Kong, I doubt anyone will care.”

Shiki eyed Izaya, impressed by his ability to keep his head despite his obvious personal involvement and the delightful vicious streak that had come to the surface in this confrontation. He wouldn’t have blamed Izaya if the raven had stabbed the man right there. “My contact’s waiting outside to take him away.” He confirmed, taking Izaya’s knife and turning to cut Huan down.

~

Izaya dropped onto the couch as soon as he and Yuuto got back to the house. His mother had let him know that she’d brought his father home once he’d woken up, preferring the safety of their estate in the face of Ito’s aggressive attack. Izaya hadn’t been able to bring himself to tell his mother that the target had actually been him, not Shirou. His mind kept reviewing the information, unable to fit Ito’s motivation into the picture, no matter what angle he looked at it from. He began to review his own diverse interests, wondering if he had somehow managed to inadvertently offend Ito but nothing had ties back to him. Ito had never been drawn into Izaya’s circle in college, being a year behind him and studying a completely different field. Izaya’s association with the other color gangs in Ikebukuro was through the use of other people; he had no direct contact with any of them. He’d never been to Hong Kong personally.

“Izaya, you want something to drink?” Yuuto offered, watching the raven with concern.

“No, I’m fine.” Izaya replied, getting up. “I’m going to bed.” Yuuto sighed as he watched Izaya disappear up the stairs, doubting the raven was actually going to sleep. He was right, of course. Izaya settled onto his bed with his laptop, immediately setting to work on trying to solve the puzzle before him, ignoring the guilt that was creeping into his thoughts that his father was attacked because of him. He finally passed out somewhere near dawn, no closer to answers than before but with his eyes and ears shifting their attention to the Jade Dragons. If Ito so much as looked in the direction of the Oriharas, Izaya would know.

He forced himself out of bed after only a few hours sleep, heading to school for no other reason than to get eyes on Ito personally. He’d already accessed Ito’s school records so getting a copy of his class schedule was simple and he spent the day stalking the gang leader. He kept his distance, not wanting Ito to be aware of him, blending in with the crowd of students for a change. Two days of following Ito and he had the other’s general school pattern down. Two days later was also when the delivery of oleander flowers showed up at the Orihara house, a generic get well card tucked into the blossoms. No name was attached but Kyouko and Izaya shared a knowing look over the bouquet which ended up in the trash before Shirou ever saw it.

“He’s taunting us.” Izaya hissed angrily, tapping his fingers on the table. “And I’m no closer to figuring out his motives.” He hated the feeling of not knowing, the guilt that hung heavy over him and the inability to do anything in the face of their current situation.

“He got lucky, Izaya.” Kyouko pointed out, placing her hand over Izaya’s, forcing it to stillness. “He won’t be able to get close to us again. We’ve made sure of that and your father’s healing fast. He’s already complaining about being held prisoner in his own house. He’ll be back to work in no time.”

“He didn’t just get lucky, mother. He knew where we’d be, or at least had an idea of the best locations to watch. That means he’s been watching us except he doesn’t have the manpower or resources to be able to keep tabs like that. He has to be getting help from somewhere.”

“Another informant?” Kyouko supplied.

“I thought about that but he doesn’t have the finances to be paying one.”

“Well not every informant charges as much as you do.” Kyouko pointed out. “None of us have been overly discreet in our daily lives. We haven’t had reason to be and your fundraiser drew a lot of attention. It could be thanks to paparazzi pictures that he was able to figure out where you were going to be.” Izaya hummed acknowledgement of his mother’s point but his instincts told him there was more to it than that.

“We could just wipe them out.” Izaya mused. “It wouldn’t be that hard, they’re barely a gang at this point, maybe forty members in total.”

“You know your father wouldn’t approve. Neither would the police, especially with Kuzuhara still watching us because of the warehouse fire. We don’t need an armed conflict right now.” Izaya sighed and nodded, knowing his mother was right.

“Still, we need to do something. We can’t let their numbers grow unchecked.”

“I agree. Don’t worry, your father will deal with it. He was discussing the situation with Shiki earlier this afternoon.”

“Oh? Well that’s good.” He replied, shifting his gaze to his phone, reminded of the conversation he and Shirou had about Kyouko’s interest in Shiki. “The Awakusu are invested in our well-being if they wish to continue to take advantage of our business.”

“He was rather more concerned with your well-being. He mentioned to me that you were the intended target, not your father.” Kyouko cut through Izaya’s bullshit and the raven flinched visibly.

“So the thug said.” He admitted reluctantly.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want you or father to know. The last thing I need is extra security because you were concerned for my life. I wouldn’t be able to do my job if I had to deal with Orihara men following me everywhere.” It wasn’t a lie but there was definitely deflection to it. He had no desire to admit to his mother that he felt guilty for his father’s stabbing.

“While I can respect your desire to continue your work, you shouldn’t be risking yourself like that.”

“I have Yuuto sometimes.” He defended. “I’m never completely exposed and I know how to take care of myself.”

“Against a forty member gang?” Just like his mother to use his own information against him.

“At this point I highly doubt he’d send his entire gang after me, especially in broad daylight.” Izaya refuted with a shake of his head.

“Well you’re not only out during the day, are you?” Izaya sighed in resignation.

“You’re going to give me a tail.”

“I was thinking about it.” Kyouko’s lips curved upward into a smirk that brought a frown to Izaya’s. “But I realized you’d probably just lose them the way you used to get rid of Yuuto when you were younger. So I mentioned to Shiki that I was concerned that you were going out alone at night.” Izaya’s eyes narrowed.

“Why would you do that?”

“Because we both know that you will avoid anything I try to do to keep you safe and if I have to recruit your boyfriend to keep an eye on you, I will.”

“I don’t need- What?!” His response started out as a defense of his independence against his overly protective mother but disappeared in the wake of Kyouko’s very specific choice of words. “ He’s not my boyfriend. ” Izaya hissed in response, eyes narrowing as his mother’s curious interest in Shiki became blindingly obvious.

“Oh, is that not the right term?” Kyouko replied with feigned innocence. “I must admit, I’m not as knowledgeable of the right terms these days. Would you prefer lover?”

No! ” He protested with a groan. “Why are you like this?”

“Because my son hides things from me.” Kyouko replied with a smirk.

“That's because I don't want you to know about my private life.” He replied pointedly.

“You know, when I told you to get close to the Awakusu, I didn't mean that close.” She continued, eyes narrowing wickedly.

“What do I need to do to make you stop?” He groaned then his eyes widened slightly. “You haven't told anyone, have you?”

“Of course not. It's not my place. I do respect your privacy, dear.”

“Just not enough to wait for me to come out on my own?” He asked pointedly. She waved a hand dismissively.

“You know, I may not be a model homemaker but I'm still a mother and I do pay attention.”

“I didn't realize it was that obvious.” Izaya replied with a frown.

“It's not. Mother's intuition. Anyway, not that it would matter to my very independent son who doesn’t want me to know about his relationships, but I like his choice.”

“Is that why you were asking father about him?” Kyouko just smiled.

“Your father, on the other hand, is oblivious.”

“Good. Don't you dare tell him. He will disown me if he finds out.”

“Oh, I don't think he'd go that far.” Kyouko replied with a laugh. “But I'm not going to tell him if you're not comfortable with it.” Izaya gave a sigh of relief.

“Does Shiki know that you know?”

“No, not yet.” She replied with a slight smile.

“Not yet?” Izaya echoed with dread.

Chapter Text

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Shiki asked, watching as Izaya laced up a pair of thigh high leather boots. “You’re still a target.”

Izaya fixed Shiki with an exasperated look, glossed lips drawing downward into an irritated pout. “We’re going. If Fei couldn’t recognize me in drag, I am absolutely positive Ito’s pathetic gang members won’t be able to either. Besides, there is some kind of special event happening tonight so chances are higher that Fei will be there.”

“No, I don’t suppose Ito would be looking for your feminine alter ego.” Shiki relented with an amused smile. “Maybe you should go out like that more often while you’re being targeted.” Izaya arched a brow.

“Ah, so Shiki does like it when I dress up like a girl.” He replied with a smirk as he stood up, smoothing down the leather skirt.

“I like the way your legs look when you’re wearing heels.” Shiki ceded, watching Izaya with an appreciative look. “The rest is just deception and I’m not particularly interested in that.” Izaya couldn’t help but to grin at Shiki’s assessment.

“Well now I know you don’t like traps…” He said as he walked toward the door.

“No, I much prefer the real you.” Shiki replied, stepping behind Izaya and sliding a hand around his waist. “Laid bare without anything to hide behind.” Izaya couldn’t help but to flush at Shiki’s words - words that woke a desire in him he didn’t dare give voice to. He let the long locks of the wig fall forward to hide his face as he reached for the door handle.

“Save your fantasies for later, Daddy.” He teased. “We wouldn’t want to be late.” Shiki’s grip on his waist tightened briefly before letting him go.

“Brat.” Shiki replied with a huff of amusement.

The club was very crowded as they entered, the event having drawn out more of the casuals. Shiki kept an arm around Izaya’s waist as they moved through the crowd, looking for a place to sit. Izaya’s eyes cast around the room, looking for Fei and finding him lounging at a private table near the back of the club. Fei’s head turned, gaze focusing on Izaya, a lazy smile on his lips. Izaya nudged Shiki as Fei raised a hand to wave them over. Shiki followed Izaya’s gaze to the syndicate executive.

“Too convenient.” Shiki murmured as they crossed the floor to stand in front of Fei.

“Welcome back, Masamune-san. Please join me.” Fei greeted them casually, eyes lingering on Izaya’s outfit. “Here for the event?” Shiki gave a slight nod of his head as he slid into the booth.

“Yes, my pet was particularly interested in attending.” He replied as Izaya slid into the booth beside him, giving Fei a coy smile. “The description was somewhat vague, however.”

“Ah, yes, intentionally so.” Fei replied. “A bit of a marketing ploy there to draw on people's curiosity. They’ll be announcing it soon enough but the theme of the event is punishment games. All of the scenes tonight will involve punishment of some sort and the patrons are, of course, encouraged to participate in the theme.”

“I see.” Shiki replied, giving Izaya an amused look. Izaya shifted his gaze to Shiki, lips curving up in a slight smirk.

“Seems fitting for your sub. She seems the bratty sort.” Fei observed. “A shame she’s shy in public.” Izaya arched a brow, giving Fei a challenging look.

“I have my reasons.” The raven replied then shifted his gaze away, looking toward one of the raised stages where a woman was being mounted on a wooden horse. Fei tilted his head slightly, curious about Izaya’s response. Shiki gave Izaya’s thigh a squeeze of warning. Fei had brought up Izaya’s unwillingness to play in public again, clearly showing his interest in the raven but also forcing the issue of Izaya’s gender.

“Sakura’s otokonoko.” Shiki let the secret drop just as they’d discussed, though he’d hoped to not have to reveal it quite so soon. Fei arched a brow at the unfamiliar word then nodded as he sorted out the meaning.

“I see. I can understand how that would cause some discomfort. Dominion is not an exclusively het club despite the large percentage of het couples.” Fei assured them, his gaze lingering on Izaya now. “Honestly I wouldn’t have guessed. Your pet is very pretty for a man.” Izaya’s lips curved up at the compliment, shifting his gaze back to Fei. “We can make accomodations for your comfort, of course. There are always the private rooms and I do know that we have members who share the same interests.” Shiki gave a slight nod of his head at the offer, noting that Fei didn’t seem any less interested in Izaya after the revelation. Izaya’s gaze slid to Shiki, a mix between smug and amused.

“Well, it’s up to her.” Shiki replied, giving Izaya a serious look. Izaya bit his lip and looked back at the woman on the wooden horse, considering how far to take this. He wasn’t comfortable with the level of exposure that was the main floor of the club but they couldn't afford to reject Fei’s suggestions outright either. Of course, if he relented completely he might seem too eager so he needed to settle for something hesitant yet willing. He turned his gaze back to Shiki, also unsure of what the executive might choose to do to him if he agreed to play.

“Nothing too public.” He replied then shifted his gaze to Fei. “You obviously have something in mind.” Fei gave Izaya a lazy smile.

“A small group of people and some simple games.” He replied. “The doms will give their submissives tasks and if the subs don't complete those tasks to their satisfaction… Well I'm sure the rest is obvious.” Izaya's gaze shifted to Shiki whose lips were curving up in a sadistic smile that made him shiver, the absolute surety of knowing that Shiki would set him tasks he wouldn't be able to complete settling over him. He huffed a laugh then nodded his acceptance. “I'm waiting for one more couple to arrive. The others are already in the private room you used a few weeks ago. Feel free to introduce yourselves. I'll join you shortly.”

They slid out of the booth, heading toward the stairs that led down to the private room, Shiki's hand resting on the small of Izaya's back. “This will be interesting.” He murmured. “You're absolutely terrible at taking orders. A warning, don't sass the other doms too much or they might take it upon themselves to discipline you.” Izaya frowned at that.

“Shouldn't they leave that to you?”

“Generally yes, but if you're being a brat to them, especially in a group setting, they may request it. I have no doubt that Fei would love to be the one to issue punishment to you.”

“Hmmm.” Izaya's expression turned thoughtful. “That could be useful.”

“That could also be dangerous.” Shiki warned as they entered the room. “Especially when you don’t know your own limits.” Izaya shrugged as he glanced around the room, showing no concern, which in turn made Shiki more concerned. The room had been redecorated into something a bit more comfortable with couches drawn into a circle and pillows strewn about. The racks of toys that had been front and center last time were pushed against one wall. There was a small bar set up with a pretty young girl behind it and three other couples lounging on the couches. The dom/sub dynamic was obvious with the doms casually chatting on the couches while the subs sat at their feet on the floor. Izaya’s nose wrinkled at the sight.

“I am not sitting on the floor.” He huffed quietly. Shiki smirked and gave him a light push.

“Are you so eager to get punished?” He murmured as they approached the others. “At least try to behave like a proper submissive.” He turned his attention to the others, “Good evening. Masamune Kaito, and this is my pet, Amari Sakura.” Izaya lowered his lashes and smiled coyly.

“Good evening, Masamune-san. Yoshitomi Masayuki, and this is Harumi.” Izaya made note of their faces and names as the other couples introduced themselves.

“Welcome to the group. I’m Otsuka Saionji and this is Kazuo.” Another gay couple. Fei wasn’t just bluffing it seemed.

“Morita Juro and Emiko. Fei-san invited you to play with us?” Shiki gave a slight nod as he settled on an unoccupied couch. Izaya gracefully knelt at Shiki’s feet, adjusting his skirt as he sat.

“Ohhh I like your boots, Sakura.”  Harumi spoke to him directly, using his given name. He wasn’t entirely sure on the social etiquette but he supposed this must be normal since the doms had introduced their subs by first name only. He tilted his head slightly, wondering if it was a measure of status, stripping the subs of the normal measure of respect.

“Thank you, they’re new.” He replied, falling into the meaningless conversation easily. “Goshujin-sama is fond of heels.”

“Oh, mine too. He likes keeping me on my toes.” Emiko chimed in, eyes twinkling. Izaya smirked at that. Emiko was a cut above the passive girls he'd watched following their men around the club.

“Sakura, you're not a girl, are you?” Kazuo spoke with a quiet voice but the look he was giving Izaya was sharp. He met the quiet sub's gaze, smirk widening a bit. This drew the attention of the doms who were now focused on Izaya's appearance.

“You're perceptive.” He replied with a mischievous grin. Kazuo's dom was giving him a considering look. He met the man's gaze then very intentionally leaned into Shiki's leg. Shiki, in turn, placed a possessive hand on his head.

“Ah, that explains why you were invited.” Juro commented, amused. “He is selective about who he invites to his private parties.”

“He did mention that there were members who were more like-minded.” Shiki responded.

“Not to be offensive but you Japanese do seem strangely closed minded about some things regarding sex while being open minded about others.” Fei spoke from the doorway as he entered. “It will be just us tonight.”

“Homophobia is no less prevalent in China.” Izaya observed in response, earning a tug on his hair from Shiki in warning. The other subs were looking at him in surprise at directly addressing another dom but he just smirked.

“An unfortunate truth.” Fei replied with his lazy smile, giving Izaya an amused look. “However, I wasn't speaking to you, Sakura.”

“My mistake.” Izaya replied with feigned innocence. “My apologies.”

“Are we taking bets on which of the pets will be first to earn punishment?” Masayuki asked. “Because my bet is on yours, Masamune-san.” Shiki gave the man an amused look then tilted his head slightly to look at Izaya.

“I'm not sure I should take that bet. My pet seems to be in a rebellious mood tonight.” The others chuckled. Fei took a seat on the same couch as Shiki.

“Well we can start simple. Why don't the pets go fetch drinks for their masters? I'm sure you can all handle that.” Fei waved a hand toward the bar. The other subs got to their feet and Izaya followed suit, glancing at Shiki, flashing him a wicked grin before following them to the bar.

“Ooooh I'm going to fail.” Emiko whispered frantically. “Juro doesn't drink when we're playing.”

“Then just bring him water.” Izaya suggested with amusement. He knew Shiki favored whiskey, of course, but couldn't resist the opportunity to get revenge on the executive for the sweet cocktails so he asked for a mint julep, returning with the drink. Shiki arched a brow as he took it, fixing Izaya with a flat look as the raven move to settle at his feet.

“Don’t bother sitting down.” His words stopped Izaya in mid motion and the raven turned his gaze to Shiki, tilting his head slightly. Shiki studied Izaya for a moment, amused that the raven hadn’t expected him to retaliate over the drink. The others were watching, of course; Fei seemed particularly interested in what he would do. He stood, putting the drink down on a side table, and walked Izaya over to the racks of toys. Izaya looked at the toys then back at Shiki, huffing a bit.

“You’re not-”

“I am.” He cut the raven off as he reached out and picked a small wireless vibrating anal plug, pulling it out of the package. “Do I need to remind you that you’re the one who wanted to do this?” Izaya’s gaze slid past Shiki to the others, noting the amusement of the doms and the looks of sympathy the subs were shooting him. He looked back at Shiki, biting his lip and sighing.

“It was just a drink.”

“The drink is not the point. Pleasing me is and we both know you did it on purpose. Bend over and pull down your shorts.”  Izaya did as he was told, if reluctantly. Shiki lubed up the toy and pressed it inside, drawing a muffled noise from the raven. “Now you can go sit down.” He added with amusement. “Try a bit harder to behave.” Izaya drew his shorts back up, trying not to squirm at the feeling of the toy pressed inside him. He followed Shiki back to the couch, doing his best to ignore the amused looks of the other doms.

“It's a good thing you didn't place any bets, Masamune-san.” Fei replied with a chuckle. “Shall we let Sakura sit the next round out?”

“That would defeat the point of punishing her, wouldn't it?” Shiki replied mercilessly, drawing a soft huff from Izaya.

“Very well. The next little task will involve some oral dexterity.” Fei waved to the girl at the bar who brought out a plate of cut up fruit, placing it on the table in the middle of the couch circle. “The pets will be feeding their masters. Without the use of their hands. Masamune-san, if there are no objections, would you be willing to tie up these pretty subs? Your skill in shibari was quite impressive.” Shiki nodded, rising from his seat to collect some rope. Harumi looked nervous at the idea of being tied up, Kazuo looked accepting while Emiko looked positively delighted. While he was technically here to lure Fei, watching the others’ reactions was fascinating on its own.

Shiki gave Izaya a slight smile as he walked over to the other subs and bound their arms behind their backs, one by one, leaving him for last. He knew he was being teased so he looked away only to catch Fei watching him. He smirked a bit at this, daring to meet the man's gaze briefly before looking away as Shiki began to wrap the rope around his own arms. He tugged at the ropes once Shiki was done, testing but finding no give, just like the last time. He felt a flutter of excitement bloom in his chest. It was a ridiculous game, he thought, an obvious way to put the subs in a position to fail. Yet it was delightfully naughty enough that the subs would want to play.  Emiko seemed quite used to having to do things with her hands bound while Kazuo managed though not quite as gracefully. Poor Harumi was failing quite spectacularly. Shiki, having returned to his seat, nudged Izaya with his foot.

“Less watching, more doing.” He prompted. Izaya bent over the table and took a piece of melon in his teeth then promptly jerked upright as vibrator function of the anal plug came to life rather unexpectedly. His head whipped around, eyes glaring daggers at Shiki who was giving him a very amused smile. The other doms chuckled at Izaya’s reaction, causing Izaya to narrow his eyes in determination. He rose gracefully, his balance not at all affected by his bound arms, and moved to lean over Shiki, presenting him with the melon - and presenting Fei with a good look at his ass. Shiki took the offered fruit and Izaya stole a fleeting kiss before drawing back to kneel again, concentrating on not squirming at Shiki’s punishment.

“Ohhh good job Sakura.” Emiko said with a laugh. “Poor Harumi appears to have lost this round.” The focus of the group turned to Masayuki who had pulled Harumi over his knee, pushing her skirt up to reveal that she had been wearing nothing underneath. She squirmed as he applied a series of painful sounding swats to her cheeks, leaving her squealing and pouting. Izaya shifted uncomfortably, the sound of flesh on flesh more than a little arousing, especially with the presence of the toy in his ass.

“Sit still.” Shiki spoke, nudging Izaya with his knee.

“Someone is making that very difficult to do.” Izaya murmured softly with the intent that only Shiki would hear, stilling his movements. Fei turned to look at him then gave Shiki an amused smile.

“Your pet is rather noisy, isn’t she? There are a variety of gags available if you'd like.” Izaya stiffened at Fei’s suggestion. Shiki raised a brow then shook his head, placing a hand on Izaya's head.

“Hardly necessary. If I wanted a quiet pet, I never would have chosen Sakura. Besides which, I prefer to give her as many opportunities as possible to get herself into trouble. It wouldn’t be much of a punishment game if she was perfectly behaved, now would it?” Fei’s smile widened.

“I’d say that attitude of hers alone could be grounds for punishment. Except I can’t help but wonder if she’s looking to get punished.” Izaya had been keeping his gaze on the others but turned at Fei’s words to look at the man briefly before turning his head up to look at Shiki. Fei had shown very little interest in watching the other submissives get punished, fixating on Izaya, and now he was clearly growing impatient with the low level, playful punishments. Shiki gave him a considering look before turning to Fei.

“Has my pet caught your eye, Fei-san? She is tempting, especially for a sadist, isn’t she?” Shiki’s bluntness caught Fei off guard a bit and he chuckled at being outed.

“I can hardly lie at this point, Masamune-san. Your pet caught my eye the moment she walked through the doors. Watching your little show was quite enjoyable and I am interested in seeing more. It’s rare to find a genuine masochist.”

“Genuine masochist?” Juro asked, focus shifting to their conversation. “To what degree?”

Shiki arched a brow at the question. “Well she likes more than a light spanking, if that's what you're asking.” He leaned down and carefully unwound the ropes binding Izaya's arm. “Strip, pet.” Izaya stood slowly, rubbing away the tingling sensation in his arms, gazing at the group that was fixated on him. His lips curved up into a smirk as he followed Shiki's order, more than comfortable in his own skin. He started with the leather skirt, unzipping it and letting it slide to the floor to reveal his slim waist and flat stomach. Next went the sleeveless top which he dropped in Shiki's lap with a wink. Shiki arched a brow at the weight of the top, hand sliding over the fabric to pause on the line of a knife. He gave Izaya an amused half-smile, shaking his head slightly as he dropped the top on the floor beside the skirt, standing up. “Shorts too.” Izaya's fingers traced the waistband of the booty shorts before slowly pushing them off his hips, pausing to look at his audience before pushing them all the way down.

“Arms.” The short commands Shiki gave him only served to heighten his excitement, unsure of what Shiki was planning, only that it would involve pain. He turned to face Shiki, holding out his arms for the executive to bind them together. Shiki held his gaze as he began winding the rope around his wrists. “Remember, if you're feeling uncomfortable in the ropes, let me know.” He reminded as he drew Izaya's arms up behind his head and turned him around. He drew the ropes around his shoulders and chest, then guided Izaya to the center of the circle, stringing the rope through a hook in the ceiling and pulling it taut.

“That's some detailed artwork.” Saionji observed, studying Izaya's tattoos with a keen eye. Kazuo was giving Izaya a considering look while Emiko and Harumi were also staring at the tattoos in fascination.

“That looks like it must have really hurt.” Harumi murmured quietly. Izaya glanced briefly at Shiki, who had moved to the racks, then smirked as he thought about the tattoos.

“It was worth it.” He replied to Harumi.

“And expensive, I bet.” Kazuo added, drawing an amused chuckle from Shiki as he returned to Izaya's side.

“Still worth it.” He said as he ran a hand down Izaya's back lightly, making the raven shiver. “Watching my pet under the needle was entertaining.”

“I bet.” Fei murmured. Izaya tried to look back at Fei but his vision was blocked by his own arms. Shiki continued to trail his fingers over Izaya’s flesh as he moved around to face the raven. He slid another length of rope around Izaya’s waist, leaning in to murmur in his ear.

“You know, I’d much rather being doing this in private, where I don’t have to share your reactions with anyone else.” He pulled back, drawing the rope into an intricate wind and knot pattern around Izaya’s waist, thighs and cock. Izaya groaned and closed his eyes. “Eyes on me pet.” Shiki chided softly as the rope trailed down each leg, drawing them apart before tying them off to rings in the floor. Izaya opened his eyes at Shiki’s demand, keeping them focused solely on him. With each taut pull of rope across his flesh he felt more exposed, eliciting a mix of fear and excitement in him. Shiki took a moment to recheck all of the ropes before picking up his so-far untouched drink and giving Izaya a ruthless smile. He pressed the edge of the glass to Izaya’s lips, earning a scowl from the raven. “Drink, pet. Wouldn’t want to waste it.” Izaya huffed in annoyance then parted his lips to sip the drink, wrinkling his nose at the combination of flavours. This got a few laughs out of the other doms and a pout from Izaya. Shiki put down the empty glass and moved behind Izaya, running a hand along his waist. “Was this what you wanted, pet?” He asked, stepping back a bit. Izaya shifted, frustrated that he couldn’t see Shiki.

“Of course not.” He lied and Shiki responded by applying the tip of a crop to his backside in a warning strike. Unable to see, the strike caught Izaya off guard and he let out a gasp at the sting. “Maybe.” He prevaricated, earning another sting of the crop.

“You’ve been quite the brat this evening. You’re not going to get what you want, you know.” Izaya’s brows furrowed in confusion at Shiki’s words but before he could think too much about it Shiki was applying the crop in a steady pattern across his back, butt and thighs. The strikes varied in pressure, anywhere from ticklish in feel to outright painful, leaving Izaya panting softly, focus narrowing to the fall of the crop and the seemingly endless pauses between. Though he was aware of the audience, their presence swiftly became less important as the force of Shiki’s strikes increased, drawing actual cries from his lips at the cathartic ache of pain.

Shiki paused in his strikes to run a gentle hand over Izaya's reddened skin and the almost soothing touch drew a whimper from him. Shiki slid his hand around the front to fondle his erect cock. “How do you punish a masochist for misbehaving?” Shiki murmured, the question seemingly directed at their rapt audience though the way he spoke made Izaya tremble, knowing that Shiki was really speaking to him. “When they obviously get enjoyment out of the punishment, it isn't really a deterrent, is it?”

“Ha-” Shiki tugs on Izaya’s wig in warning, cutting off Izaya’s near slip up. The raven quickly shut his mouth, groaning.

“You want to come, don’t you, pet?” He murmured quietly. “But you’re not allowed to. If you behave for the rest of the night, maybe I'll change my mind.” Shiki let go of his cock and slowly began to untie him, carefully rubbing his limbs where the ropes had left their imprint. He followed by carefully rubbing lotion into his skin, the coolness of the lotion easing the ache of punished skin a bit. “Go ahead and dress.” He said once he was done, returning to his seat on the couch. Izaya huffed softly in irritation, the evidence of his continued arousal quite obvious. Shiki gave him a smirk and turned the vibrator back on making Izaya tense as he reached down to pick up his clothes.

“Truly sadistic. I’m sure your pet will be begging forgiveness before the night is over.” Fei commented, watching Izaya pull on his clothes gingerly. The look he was giving the raven was not one that Shiki liked, the sort of look he’d seen before on men who paid for prostitutes just to break them. He wouldn’t let Fei touch the raven.

“I’m sure.” He replied as Izaya approached, moving to sit at his feet again. He pulled the raven into his lap instead, wrapping an arm loosely around his waist. Izaya glanced at him in surprise then settled sideways on him, leaning a head against his shoulder and doing his best to ignore the teasing pulse of the toy.

“A good show. I’ve met very few actual masochists, even in the community. At least not to that scale.” Saionji commented. “Most don’t mind a spanking or maybe nipple clamps and light flogging but a cropping like that is impressive, and he was hard through it. The other subs here would have been wailing and crying and begging.”

“Yes, Sakura’s quite special.” Shiki replied before the conversation moved on to other things. A few more games were played but Shiki kept Izaya on his lap, waiving his need to participate. This drew slight disappointment from Fei but he didn’t press the point. Izaya remained on Shiki’s lap as the doms tormented their subs and chatted about a variety of topics, listening and making note of whatever information he could glean from the conversations. Shiki appeared at ease with them, more than capable of bluffing about a life that wasn’t his. After about an hour the party came to an end with an exchange of information and loose plans to meet up again.

The twenty minute drive back to his apartment felt more like hours. Even as the doors to the elevator were closing, Izaya was turning to press himself against Shiki, kissing him hungrily. Shiki chuckled into Izaya’s eager kiss, resting his hands on the raven’s hips. “Slow down, Izaya. You waited this long, I think you can wait a bit longer.”

“I don’t want to wait.” Izaya replied with a huff. “You’ve made me wait long enough.”

“I’m not sure you’ve given me enough of a reason to change my mind about your punishment.” Shiki replied, making Izaya pause and tilt his head slightly, trying to gauge whether he was teasing or serious.

“We’re not at the club anymore.” He pointed out.

“What does that have to do with it?” Shiki responded. “You went out of your way to put me in a position where I had to punish you in front of them. You went out of your way to show defiance to Fei-” He pressed a finger to Izaya’s mouth as the raven opened it to defend himself. “Yes, I did notice and no, it wasn’t a good idea. I don’t think you fully understand the risk you’re putting yourself in by playing the brat to Fei. He doesn’t just want a little light spanking or even whipping. The man sees you as a challenge to break . I saw it in his expression. That is the reason he’s so fascinated by you.”

Izaya closed his mouth, thinking about Shiki’s words. He hadn’t seen Fei’s expression, of course, having been faced away from the man but Shiki would have been able to see him clearly. He hadn’t been thinking about much beyond the sensations and his own desire, which was fine when he was alone with Shiki but losing his focus in that situation was dangerous. He didn’t want to admit it but Shiki was right, he hadn’t been taking the risks seriously enough. He sighed as the elevator dinged and the doors slid open revealing his floor.

“Fine. I won’t try to provoke him anymore.” He relented as they got off the elevator and walked the short distance to his door - newly replaced and heavily reinforced. “I will only be a brat to Shiki-sama.” He added with a smirk as he opened the door and stepped into his apartment. “Now will you please fuck me already?”

“I feel blessed that my supposed submissive has decided to listen to me for a change.” Shiki replied dryly as he followed Izaya inside, closing and locking the door behind them. “He even said please. This feels like a moment that should be celebrated.”

“Celebrate by rewarding me.” Izaya replied with a smirk, discarding boots, coat, and wig on the floor.

“And we're back to demanding.” Shiki replied with a snort as Izaya turned toward him, snaking arms around his neck. Shiki wrapped an arm loosely around his waist, walking him backwards until Izaya’s butt hit the edge of his desk.

“I distinctly remember someone talking about stripping me bare.”

“I distinctly remember you being very bare.”

“It doesn’t count when there’s an audience.”

“Oh? When you nearly blow our cover trying to say my name I definitely think it counts.”

“Low blow. We both know that was your fault to begin with.” Izaya argued as Shiki’s hands pushed up the skirt and pulled down his shorts.

“I did stop you from speaking.” Shiki pointed out as his hands moved up to push Izaya’s top off, pulling out the knife and dangling it in front of the raven before tossing it on the floor with the clothes. “Any more hidden surprises?” Izaya chuckled and pulled himself up onto the desk, a brief hissed exhale escaping at the ache it reawakened in his punished skin.

“A girl can’t be too careful these days.” He joked with a smirk. “But if you insist, I’ll submit to a full body search.” Shiki snorted as he pressed lips against Izaya’s pulse, feeling it flutter as he bit down. Izaya groaned and wrapped his legs around Shiki’s waist.

“Oh I plan to get very well acquainted with your body.” He murmured as his hands slid along the underside of Izaya's equally reddened thighs, drawing them up and pushing Izaya back down to lie on the desk. Izaya complied, reaching behind him to slide open the top desk drawer. His attempt to find the bottle of lube he had stashed there was significantly hampered by Shiki's mouth trailing warm kisses and sharp bites across the flat of his stomach. “Having trouble?” He asked the raven, earning a grunt of irritation as Izaya finally found the bottle. For a brief moment he contemplated throwing it at Shiki but decided that he didn't want to risk any further torment from the sadist.

“Someone seems fixated on making things difficult for me today.”

“Not nearly as difficult as you decided to be.” Shiki placed a sharp bite on Izaya's hip, drawing a gasp from the raven.

“Don't you dare tease me anymore.” He groaned, lifting his head to look at Shiki. The executive gave him an amused look as he took the bottle and poured lube onto his fingers before pressing two inside slowly. Izaya's body yielded easily to their presence, already stretched by the presence of the toy earlier.

“You're hardly in a position to be demanding anything.” He observed as Izaya arched his hips into the movement of Shiki's fingers inside him, stroking over sensitive flesh. He curled his fingers up, pressing until he found Izaya's prostate, stroking over that spot as Izaya moaned.

Haruya .” He spoke the other's name forcefully, punctuated by a moan that was delightfully needy.

“Yes?” He continued the teasing strokes as his other hand moved to his belt, making quick work of his fly.

Please! ” Izaya moaned, giving Shiki a look that was somewhere between begging and murderous. He couldn’t help but to chuckle softly at it as he withdrew his fingers.

“A shame I had to stop at the club. I wonder how fast you would have come if I’d been able to do this.” He gripped Izaya’s hips as he pressed inside, groaning at the tight heat that gripped his cock. Izaya made a noise that was somewhere between a whimper and a moan, laying his head back as he lifted his hips to meet Shiki’s thrust. Shiki took his time at first, enjoying the way the raven’s body yielded to his touch, his thrusts, the way he begged and moaned and moved under him, desperate for the pleasure he promised. He drew Izaya to the edge and kept him there until the raven was beyond words, his own pleasure stoked by Izaya’s desperate state. Then he was moving in quick, hard thrusts, quickly pushing Izaya over the edge to gasp and shudder through his orgasm, drawing a groan from Shiki as his body tightened reflexively around him as he continued to thrust until he found his own release.

They stayed locked together for a long moment, the only sound between the soft pants of physical exertion until Shiki drew back, pulling a noise of protest from Izaya as he pulled the raven to a sitting position. Izaya immediately snaked his arms around Shiki’s neck and went in for a kiss which the executive relented to with an amused huff.

“I don’t know what is more disturbing, the number of places you seem to have lube hidden, or the number of places you have knives hidden. Or that some of those places are the same.” Izaya smirked and shrugged.

“I like to be prepared for both the best and worst case scenarios. Having lube in my desk is not that strange. It’s a really nice desk. It practically screams ‘fuck someone on this desk’.” Shiki chuckled as he slid his hands under Izaya’s ass and gave it a squeeze before lifting the raven up.

“Do you do all your furniture shopping with a fuckable grade scale?” Izaya wrapped his legs around Shiki’s waist, more than happy to let the executive carry him toward the bathroom.

“Don’t you? I mean, the leather couch in your office has so much potential…”

“I am not fucking you in my office.” Shiki retorted with a snort. “Knowing my luck, someone would walk in. Probably Akabayashi.” He set Izaya down on the counter and turned to run a hot shower. Izaya watched with amusement.

“Oooooh I’m sure he’d be jealous.” He replied with a smirk.

“I’m sure I’d never hear the end of it.” Shiki replied as he stripped out of his own clothes before reaching out to pull Izaya off the counter.

“Akabaka’s just jealous you got to me first.” Izaya practically purred as he let Shiki pull him into the shower.

“Not everyone is interested in fucking you, you know.”

“You are.” Izaya replied pointedly.

“A decision I’m still questioning the sanity of.” Shiki retorted, softening it with a slight smile.

“Liar.” Izaya grinned, pressing a lingering kiss to Shiki’s lips.

Chapter Text

He was getting used to this, he mused as he opened his eyes to look at the sleeping raven who was once again pressed up against him. If he was being honest with himself, more than getting used to it, he actually liked waking up to the other’s presence. That drew a groan to his lips as he disentangled himself from the raven, careful not to wake him as he got out of bed. This had definitely not been an outcome he had foreseen when Mikiya had announced that the Orihara heir would be mentoring under them. He snorted at the thought as he pulled on his pants and slipped out of the bedroom, heading for the balcony and a much needed nicotine fix. Izaya hadn’t needed mentoring at all, proving himself more than equal to any of the challenges working with the Awakusu had thrown at him. Which had simply confirmed to him that Izaya had been sent with an ulterior purpose. He leaned against the rail of the balcony as he lit his smoke, looking down at the street below with a sigh. Years spent fighting to get to where he was, holding a position of respect and power in the family and here he was, complicating things by getting tangled up with his stray cat.

His. Growing possessive when this relationship of theirs had nothing more solid to it than mutual pleasure? He enjoyed Izaya’s presence; the raven was intelligent and engaging, with a playfulness that was hard to resist. Moreover it was a side of the raven he had noticed Izaya didn’t share with others, revealing that he’d grown comfortable with Shiki. They’d moved beyond the initial physical attraction, even if they hadn’t acknowledged it yet and that was so much more complicated than just sleeping together. He sighed and lit a second smoke, thinking about just how much he had to lose now.

Izaya woke not long after Shiki had abandoned the comfort of his bed for nicotine, sensing the other’s absence before he’d opened his eyes. He frowned in sleepy disappointment at Shiki’s absence, reaching for his phone to check the time. Almost nine, still early. He contemplated going back to sleep as he rolled over then smiled slightly when his gaze fell across Shiki's phone and keys still present on the bedside table. He hadn't left yet and that was motivation enough to get Izaya out of bed. He pulled on a loose fitting pair of slacks and a t-shirt then went in search of the enigmatic executive who had so thoroughly captured his interest. He paused at the balcony door, watching the other smoking and staring down at the street below with a serious expression, tilting his head to the side slightly at the sight.

“Serious thoughts?” He asked as he stepped out onto the balcony, sauntering over to Shiki.

Shiki glanced at the raven, giving him the shadow of a smile, the barest upturn of his lips as he took the final drag of the cigarette. “Thinking about you.” He replied as Izaya turned slightly to lean against the banister beside him.

“Only the best thoughts, then.” Izaya came back with a smirk though he tensed a bit, unsure of what exactly Shiki might have been thinking about him with such a serious expression.

“Mm. Like whether or not I'm going to go gray prematurely.” That drew a chuckle from Izaya.

“I would think a young, tough as nails yakuza executive like you would be more than capable of dealing with an inexperienced kid like me…” Shiki snorted.

“If that's the role you were supposed to play when your mother sent you to us, you failed completely.” “I don’t know what role she expected me to play, if she expected anything. I doubt she expected this outcome though. I'd already been working with Kine so playing the inexperienced kid wouldn't have worked anyway.”

“True. I'm not so sure about Kyouko. It wouldn't surprise me if she hadn't at least considered it. You’re both more than willing to use any advantage to get what you want.” Izaya gave Shiki an amused smile at that.

“Maybe she did but I’m not my mother. Are you worried that I’m just sleeping with you to get information from you?” His tone was teasing but even as the words left his lips Izaya couldn’t help but wonder if Shiki did think as much and oddly, that thought bothered him. Shiki arched a brow, turning to look at him.

“You literally took a girl home the first day we met in order to get information from her.” He pointed out. “I won’t belittle your intelligence. I’d considered it a possibility at first but no, I don’t think that’s what you’re doing here.” Izaya smirked at the memory of Akabayashi’s challenge.

“I didn’t sleep with her.” He replied with a laugh. “Though I’m sure she thinks I did. Pretty sure Yuuto thinks I did too. So if I’m not here to steal your secrets, why do you think I’m here?”

“Haven’t we been over this?” Shiki gave him an amused look. “Something about great sex and an unhealthy attraction to danger?”

“You forgot the need to be intellectually challenged.” Izaya added with a grin. Shiki arched a brow in amusement.

“Oh? Are you saying I’m intelligent enough to challenge you?”

“For a yakuza thug anyway…” Izaya finished with a smirk, earning a snort from Shiki as the executive turned to face him.

“You know, as clever as you are, precious heir of the family, you’re no different than me. Just as quick to violence when it suits your desires.” Izaya turned and slid a finger through the chain around Shiki’s neck, tugging on it lightly as he turned his chin up to gaze at the executive.

“Blame my questionable upbringing.” He joked though he jumped on the opportunity to pry a bit. “What’s your excuse, cold as ice executive?” Shiki slid an arm around Izaya’s waist, pulling him close.

“Fell in with the wrong crowd.” Shiki lied, curious to see if Izaya would call his bluff.

“Liar” Izaya replied without even a pause, smirking at him. “You chose to join the yakuza. The mystery is why.”

“Nosy. Are you sure you’re not trying to steal my secrets?”

“Just your personal ones.”

“You haven’t ferreted them out yet? Maybe you’re not as good as you claim to be, informant.” Shiki teased with a smirk of his own. Izaya huffed in mock offense.

“How dare you question my skills. I know you grew up in Minato Ward, not Ikebukuro, and that you graduated from Tanakawa high school. You joined the Awakusu right after graduation.”

“So you did look into me.”

“Of course. But those are just easy details. Anyone could find out basic things like that.” Izaya replied dismissively. “They don’t tell me your motivations.”

“Is that what you're after?”

“Of course. There are any number of reasons why a young man joins the yakuza but why you did is harder to pin down. You're not another kid with no other prospects, too much anger and not enough smarts. You could have gone to college, you had the marks in high school. Gone on to be a salary man in some company I'm sure.”

“Do I look like the office worker type?” Shiki replied with amusement, turning Izaya toward the door and giving him a light push. “By that logic, you have the opportunity to get out of the yakuza. Once you finish college, you can get a proper job and leave this life of crime behind.” Izaya ducked inside with a laugh.

“And disappoint my parents? I rather like my lifestyle. Middle class sounds tedious. Also boring.” He spoke as he headed toward the kitchen.

“If it came down to it, your parents wouldn't begrudge you and if how much you charge me is an indicator of your personal accounts, I don't see your lifestyle changing much. So it comes down to that unhealthy attraction to danger again.” Shiki observed as he followed Izaya, taking a seat at his breakfast bar.

“Fine, fine, call it what you want but you still haven't answered my question.” Izaya replied with a dismissive wave of his hand as he started the coffee maker and rummaged around in his fridge.

“Oh? Did you ask a question? All I've heard so far is an argument as to why you think I was lying about falling in with a bad crowd.” Izaya raised his head just enough to peer over the fridge door, fixing Shiki with a flat look.

“Don't be evasive. That's my job.” Shiki chuckled but didn't add anything, just watched Izaya. “Fine, you insufferably tedious bastard. Why did you join the Awakusu-kai?” Shiki arched a brow.

“Insufferably tedious bastard? That's a new one. I don't think I've ever been called tedious before.” He mused as Izaya deposited an assortment of things on the counter. He grabbed a French knife from his knife block and pointed it at Shiki imperiously.

“Answer the question, executive.” He demanded before turning his attention to chopping vegetables.

“You're not my oyabun, princeling. I joined the Awakusu-kai because Dougen impressed me and I thought it would be easier to climb the ranks in a smaller family.”

“Well you certainly managed to climb the ranks fast. Did you have to kill any rivals?”

“Murdering other members of your clan is not generally a good way to build loyalty and respect.”

“Maybe not but it’s not uncommon either. You had to have earned that terrifying reputation somehow.”

“Not by killing my way to the top. How many of your executives got their positions through the death of another?”

“Only King but that’s because his father passed away.” Izaya ceded the point. “You’ve met my father, that kind of thing would never fly in our family but we’re also significantly smaller than the Awakusu-kai. So you had a goal right from the start.”

“Of course.”

“You haven’t answered why you joined the yakuza though.” Izaya shifted from chopping to cooking.

“Well that wasn’t what you asked.” Shiki replied and earned a mushroom thrown at him. “Money.”

“Lured in by the wealthy lifestyle?”

“No, a lack of money. To go to college you need money or scholarships. I had neither and my reputation by the end of high school wasn’t doing me any favours either.”

“Ooo that sounds interesting.” Izaya replied as he turned to place a plate in front of Shiki followed by a cup of coffee. “Misspent youth?” Shiki took a sip of coffee, looking at the omelette then at Izaya.

“So you can cook.” He observed as he picked up his chopsticks.

“Don't set your expectations too high. Breakfast is as far as it goes.” Izaya replied with a dismissive wave of his hand as he settled on a stool beside Shiki.

“Why breakfast?”

“When I was in high school I got stuck with the job of taking my sisters to school in the morning. This included somehow convincing the brats to eat.” Shiki snorted in amusement as he dug into the omelette. “So? Misspent youth?” He prodded, returning to the topic.

“I wouldn't say that. It's not like I dropped out of high school and joined a colour gang. Just a combination of misdirected anger and youthful pride that got me into trouble.” He answered Izaya matter of factly, having long since accepted his own mistakes. “Even if I hadn't been earning a bad reputation, I knew college was unlikely so I decided to make something of myself in a less conventional way.”

“That's an understatement.” Izaya had devoured his own breakfast in the brief span of time Shiki had spent talking, to the executive's amusement. “Ne, Haruya?” Shiki turned his gaze on the raven at his seemingly tentative tone. ”Do you have any family?”

“Of the non-yakuza kind?” He replied lightly. Izaya was perceptive enough to realize that it might be a sensitive topic with very little information to go off. “No, not that I'm in contact with.” He replied then finished off his coffee. “But I think you've pried enough of my secrets away from me.” Izaya practically radiated curiosity but he relented, swallowing his questions. “Oh?” He asked in a teasing voice instead. “And what do I have to do to find out more?”

“We'll see.” Shiki replied with a slight smile.

~

“You have interesting fashion sense, Orihara-san.” The young actor commented, referring to the fur trimmed black fall coat Izaya was currently removing. Given the passive delivery, Izaya really wasn't sure whether to take it as a compliment or an insult so he just shrugged and laughed.

“So I've been told, Kasuka-kun. Please don't be overly formal. We're only two years apart.”

“If that is what you prefer.” “I won't keep you long, I'm sure escaping your brother's watch even this long must have been difficult.”

“My brother may be over compensating a bit right now.” Kasuka agreed. “My apologies for his mistaken impression that your family had me kidnapped.” Izaya waved a hand dismissively.

“Hardly your fault. I'm the one who should be apologizing for unintentionally drawing you into this.”

“The company seemed legitimate on the surface. My agent thought that international exposure would be good, even if it was a small role. I should have been more suspicious when the company offered half my salary up front.”

“That’s quite an incentive. Well, at least you got something out of it. I take it that’s not a normal offer?”

“It depends on the type of job, but for movie work those sorts of offers are usually only made when a company is trying to lure a big name actor. I would not be famous enough to warrant that kind of offer here but to a small film company in Hong Kong, it’s more believable that I would be worth the investment. That is why my agent didn’t think it was too strange.”

“So you flew to Hong Kong and started filming. Where did the kidnapping part come in?”

“Ah, yes, that is a bit complicated. For the first couple weeks everything was fine. On my way back to my hotel in the evening I was attacked by a small gang which I believe were the ones Shizuo was led to believe were connected to your family. The Tien Tao Meng ostensibly rescued me and offered their protection while I was filming in Hong Kong however it was obvious in the way that they behaved that they were more captors than bodyguards. I wasn't sure what their motive was until you sent your agent to rescue me.”

“I see. Do you know why Shizuo thought the gang that attacked you was linked to my family?”

“He was sent a video of the gang members taking money from a man in a suit wearing an Orihara clan pin. He was told that the gang was paid to attack me by your family but I never saw anyone related to your family while I was there. Aside from my agent, I saw very few Japanese people at all. There was a young man who coached me in Mandarin and served as a translator occasionally and a young actress who was also from Japan that I spent a fair amount of time with. When the Tien began to watch me, my ability to move around became quite limited. They claimed it was for my safety, but it heavily limited my ability to contact anyone. As I understand it, Shizuo was also told that the Tien were protecting me and that it was implied they would stop doing so if he didn't help them.”

“Rather elaborate ruse to recruit Shizu-chan.” Izaya observed. “That video sounds like pretty flimsy evidence.”

“It is and I've told him as much but my brother is eager to believe the worst of you. My apologies for that.”

“I'm aware and no apologies are necessary. I am partly responsible for your brother's opinion; I've hardly done anything to dissuade him of the notion, after all.”

“Your high school rivalry is hardly the same as kidnapping and while you may be yakuza, the Orihara-kai isn’t known for that kind of behaviour. My brother is letting his own obsession colour his view of the situation.”

“If possible, I would appreciate it if you could send me that video. I may be able to learn more from it.”

“Of course, anything I can do to help settle this matter.”

“Thank you, Kasuka-kun. If you or your agency have any problems with that supposed film company, let me know.”

“I will. Now if you’ll excuse me, I should go before my brother starts hunting for me.”

“Of course. Have a good day.”

~

“You said that he would be an easy target but he has not proven to be so at all.” Hiroshi Ito stared at the man across from him, trying to read his expression but getting nothing.

“I told you that you needed reliable people. Sending some fresh, untested recruit after him was hardly a smart move and now he knows he’s a target. I do believe your would-be assassin is floating in the Hong Kong harbour by now.”

“What do you mean?” Hiroshi frowned. “He was in police custody.”

“Yes, the same police that Orihara turned him over to. If they didn’t dump him in the harbour then it’s likely the Orihara agents in Hong Kong would have. You don’t stab the patriarch of the family and expect to live.”

“Damnit.”

“You need to learn patience. Change your tactics because an outright attack won’t succeed now that they’re on heightened alert.”

“I don’t need you to tell me that. What about your informant? Has he produced any useful information?”

“Not yet. Orihara is surprisingly cautious for someone so flamboyantly public with his presence and the Orihara-kai are very good at covering their tracks on the business side of things. If you have anyone intelligent in your little colour gang perhaps you could try from a different angle. Infiltrate their protectors. The Awakusu are quite a bit larger in numbers so slipping someone into their ranks will be easier.”

“Maybe. I’ll look into it. Most of my people aren’t Japanese.”

“Yes, I noticed. If you want to keep your presence here, you may wish to consider recruiting from the locals.” Hiroshi scowled at the suggestion but didn’t argue.

“I’ll think about it.”

~

“What is that ?” Mikage was leaning against the side of the sedan beside Yuuto as Izaya approached, eyeing the leopard print scarf wrapped around his neck.

“I know you dropped out of high school Mikage but I would think even a drop out would know what a scarf is.” He replied smoothly. “Unlike you, I actually enjoy wearing clothing that, you know, covers my body.” Yuuto arched a brow at Izaya’s snarky response.

“Bad day?” He asked with a slight smile as Mikage leaned forward to swing a punch at Izaya’s shoulder which the raven deftly dodged.

“Did you get rejected?” Mikage asked. “Hit on some cute boy only to have him be straight?”

“Nah, that’s unlikely. We both know he wouldn’t hit on some college student. He clearly prefers older men.” Yuuto smirked and Izaya aimed a kick at his shin which Yuuto wasn’t nearly fast enough to dodge.

“If the peanut gallery is finished, can we get going?” He huffed in irritation, sliding into the back seat of the car. Mikage chuckled and joined him while Yuuto got into the driver’s seat, grumbling under his breath about his stinging shin.

“Seriously though, you don’t usually assault me with sarcasm when I make fun of your wardrobe.” Mikage continued as Yuuto pulled away from the curb, leaving the college campus behind.

“One of my assets decided to think for himself and now I have some concerns about how to proceed.” Izaya replied vaguely. Yuuto glanced at him in the rearview mirror.

“Shijima or Nakura?” He asked, assuming it was one of the two Izaya was in the club with at college.

“Nakura. Got himself a girlfriend. Or stalker, I’m not really sure which yet. Either way, he decided to brag to her so now she knows a bit too much about things I would rather she didn’t.” Mikage snorted.

“I sure hate it when the people I’m using act like actual people instead of assets.” She mocked, drawing a smirk to Izaya’s lips.

“Nakura’s barely people after what happened in junior high.” He replied with a sadistic glint in his eye. “He doesn’t have the right to think for himself. Where are we headed, anyway?”

“Meeting up with Shinra at some new underground club he discovered.” Izaya arched a brow at that.

“What kind of underground club?”

“Not sure but knowing Shinra it’s probably weird as fuck.”

“Why are we going?”

“Because friends go out together, Izaya.” Mikage pointed out with a grin. “They hang out and drink and do dumb shit.”

“You’re not friends, you’re psychology experiments.” Yuuto jumped in before Izaya could actually speak the words himself. Izaya looked affronted that Yuuto had stolen his line.

“I was going to say that friendship has it’s lines and weird underground clubs should be one of them.” He replied with a huff.

“How bad can it be?” Yuuto replied with a shrug.

Famous last words , Izaya thought as he stepped through the door of Shinra’s chosen destination. It was literally underground, housed in the basement of a rundown building in Shinjuku. The decor was medically themed and he felt like he was stepping into one of Shinra’s wet dreams.

“Ok, no. No way. This is just…”

“Izaya!” The underground doctor’s voice carried from halfway across the room and Izaya’s head swivelled to locate his friend, labcoat and all, sitting at the bar.

“Too late, he spotted us.” Yuuto replied with a very heavy sigh.

“What, you boys have never had fantasies about sexy nurses?” Mikage mocked as she passed them both, heading for Shinra. Yuuto slid his gaze to Izaya, grinning.

“Bet you’d rather be the sexy nurse.” He muttered before following Mikage, leaving Izaya to glare daggers at his back.

“Shinra this is perverted even for you.” Izaya commented as he slid onto a seat beside the doctor.

“Oh come on, Izaya, it’s all in fun!” Shinra protested. “I was just thinking that Celty would look so good in those little nurse outfits the waitresses are wearing.”

“Then buy her one and save us all from being subjected to this.” Izaya replied before ordering a Smirnoff Ice.

“Oh but how could I ask her something like that? She’s so shy it would be so embarrassing. But maybe if I told her that it was for work she might agree and then I could get a peek at her long legs in white stockings and-”

“Shinra shut up.” Mikage interrupted. “No one wants to hear about your weird fetishes.”

“So is this the gimmick of the place? Sexy nurses?” Yuuto asked, looking around as he took a sip of his beer.

“Actually I heard they have a private area where the nurses do full examinations.” Shinra replied with a grin. “Very thorough. And you get to choose what kind of nurse you want, sweet and innocent or naughty or sadistic.” Yuuto shifted his gaze to Shinra then back to one of the nurses as she walked by.

“Shinra… You seriously picked a sex club?” He shook his head slightly.

“Poor innocent Yuuto.” Izaya mocked lightly.

“Hey, I just thought it would be good for you single guys.” Shinra protested. “I mean, when’s the last time either of you got laid? A healthy sex life is important you know.”

“Shinra, you’re an idiot.” Izaya replied with a sigh, turning away from his friend to scan the crowd. Maybe he could at least get some entertainment out of people watching.

“Well this night’s going to be a bust.” Yuuto muttered. Mikage chuckled and shrugged.

“Can I pay to watch one of you get examined?” She joked with a grin.

“No!” Izaya and Yuuto responded in unison.

“I would indulge your curiosity, Mikage, but I couldn’t possibly do that to my precious Celty! Maybe if she were here dressed as a nurse I could convince her to give me a thorough examination! It’s such a shame she couldn’t come with me tonight.”

Shinra continued to ramble but Izaya’s focus shifted when one of the nurses addressed him.

“Excuse me, have we met before?” His gaze settled on the nurse who was very much not a woman despite the attire and was very familiar but Izaya simply gave him a polite smile and shook his head. This was a very inconvenient accident.

“I’m sorry but I don't believe so. I’ve never been here before.”

“Oh, I know. You’ve been to Dominion though, haven’t you?”

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” Izaya continued to deny, giving him a confused look but Kazuo persisted.

“I couldn’t possibly forget you after the other night.” He insisted. “I thought you looked familiar that night but now that I’ve seen you like this, I knew I was right.” Izaya’s eyes narrowed dangerously.

“You’ve clearly mistaken me for someone else.” He replied coolly then shifted his gaze to his friends.

“Oh… of course, my apologies.” Kazuo replied, his gaze following Izaya’s. He pulled out his pen and grasped Izaya’s hand, quickly writing a phone number on it before letting the raven go. “If you’re interested in getting to know me better, give me a call.” He quickly turned and walked away, resuming his duties serving other customers. Izaya watched him with a frown. Mikage slapped him on the back, pulling him out of his thoughts.

“I swear to god, Izaya. Everywhere you go some girl is hitting on you.”

“Oooo if she likes you maybe you can get that examination for free!” Shinra teased, turning to look at the raven with a grin.

“Sorry Shinra, medical exams are your kink not mine.” Izaya replied with a shake of his head.

“Still, she seemed like your type.” Mikage continued with a smirk. “Kind of tomboyish looking…” Izaya rolled his eyes.

“Can we find a more normal bar for you idiots to get wasted at?” He insisted, glancing at Yuuto.

“I second the notion.” Yuuto immediately added, catching Izaya’s signal.

“Fine, fine.” Shinra relented, standing up and moving toward the door. “You guys are no fun. You should be more adventurous in your youth!” Izaya took a quick glance at Kazuo before following his friends out, quickly adding the number into his phone contact list as he walked.

~

“Hey Shiki, where’s the kid? I haven’t seen him all week.” Aozaki appeared in his doorway, frowning more than usual. Shiki didn’t even bother looking up as he responded.

“I’m not his babysitter. His father got stabbed not so very long ago. If I were to hazard a guess I’d say he’s probably more interested in family matters right now.”

“Huh. Good point.” Aozaki acknowledged. “Too bad. I wanted to ask him about something I came across a new drug on the streets.” Shiki raised his head at this.

“In Ikebukuro?”

“I don’t think so, at least not yet but I figured it might be the sort of thing he’d be able to keep an eye on for us.”

“Just send him a text, ask him to come by the office.” Shiki replied with a shrug. “What’s this new drug called?”

“Heaven’s Slave.” Aozaki responded as he pulled out his phone. “Some kind of chemically produced opiate.” Shiki made note of the name, frowning a bit.

“Let me know if Orihara finds out anything.”

~

"My apologies, Sakura-chan. Or would you prefer Orihara-san?” Kazuo settled in the booth opposite the raven, looking a bit out of place in the upscale restaurant dressed in track pants and a hoodie. Izaya arched a brow at the young man, taking in his attire with a slight look of disdain.

“In this situation, the latter would be more appropriate, wouldn't you agree?” Izaya replied, lifting his glass to his lips and sipping the wine.

“I suppose so.” Kazuo replied with a shrug, ignoring Izaya's pointed look as he waved a server over to order wine as well. “Thank you for meeting me. I hope my indiscretion the other night didn't cause you too much trouble. I was just surprised to see you there.”

“I hope you understand my situation better now.” Izaya replied coolly. “Given my status I can hardly afford to have you talking about my past times publicly.”

“Oh, I have no intention of outing you or blackmailing you if that's what you were thinking.” Kazuo replied bluntly, giving Izaya a smile that was a bit shy but genuine. “To be honest, I was hoping we could talk. I don't know very many other gay guys and especially none who are in a similar situation to me.”

“You're referring to your membership in the Masuya-kai?” Izaya asked, drawing a surprised noise from Kazuo.

“You know? But how? I mean, I'm barely a member at this point and Otsuka-san isn't well known either. At least not yet. He's working his way up.“

“I make it a habit to pay attention to the people I associate with, even in passing. Are you surprised I looked into you?” Kazuo nodded, falling silent in thought.

“Well, yes I meant that. It's really frowned upon, you know? At least in the Masuya-kai. I guess if you're hiding it, it's the same for you?” Izaya inclined his head slightly in acknowledgement.

“There's a general attitude of looking the other way as long as it's not obvious.” He replied, studying Kazuo. “But you can hardly do that, can you? Is that how you met Otsuka?” Kazuo flushed a bit with embarrassment.

“It started as a joke back in high school. A friend suggested I dress up like a girl if I wanted to get a guy. I didn’t have anything to lose so I got a job at a host club as a girl. Otsuka-san saw me there and figured me out pretty quick.”

“That's why you saw through me.” Izaya noted. “You knew the signs because you cross dress.” Kazuo nodded, pausing as the server came around to refill their wine glasses and take their orders. “You do it much better than me.” He continued, studying Izaya as if he were a piece of art to be critiqued. “And your acting is flawless. I'm not very good at acting like a girl. I play it off by just being the shy type.”

“I have sisters to learn from.” Izaya replied, amused by the unexpected compliments. “How did you put Sakura together with Orihara Izaya?” He asked, curious to hear Kazuo's reasoning.

“Oh, it was the tattoos that started it. I know irezumi. You should see Otsuka-san's back. I thought at first that you had them because of Masamune-san, especially since the art style is similar, but his symbolism, from what I could see of his tattoos, is very different from yours. Snakes are not a common theme. I figured that if he had chosen them for you, as a dom, there would be some kind of similar theme. Even unfinished, it's obvious that your irezumi has nothing to do with him.” The more Izaya listened to Kazuo speak, the more impressed he grew with the young man's natural perceptiveness.

“I see. There are more people getting irezumi now. Why assume I was yakuza?”

“I thought about that too. It's Masamune-san. He reminds me of some of the men I've met in the clan. I don't know why you are hiding it but Masamune-san just doesn't give off the vibes of a salaryman.” Izaya snickered at this, nodding slightly. “Since you're together but your tattoos are different, it stood to reason that you were yakuza too. So I looked into clans that use snake imagery and there really aren't many. Then I saw a picture of your mother from that gala you threw a few months ago.”

Izaya was genuinely impressed by Kazuo, delighted to listen to him putting all the pieces together. It was a shame that it put him in a less than secure position in regard to the infiltration of Fei's business. Kazuo was a perfect example of being too clever for his own good.

“I was surprised when I realized who you were. All the media and rumors say that you're a real playboy, different girl on your arm every week and that sort of thing. There's even a yakuza fansite that ranks you as number one bachelor of the Tokyo clans.”

That caught Izaya a bit off guard and he raised a brow. “All the Tokyo clans?”

“Well that was after the gala. It's probably shifted around since then but being the heir, unmarried, young, and good looking you have an edge over most of the well known yakuza executives.” Izaya snickered, eyes narrowing in amusement.

“I knew there were fansites dedicated to the yakuza but this is more entertaining than I thought it would be.”

“You don't seem surprised by anything I've said.” Kazuo observed with a slight smile.

“I'm not. I am curious as to why you looked into me, though. As someone who could understand why I was hiding my identity, why go out of your way to uncover it?” Kazuo flushed again and gave a nervous laugh.

“Honestly, I really just wanted to talk to you again. I was originally hoping we could talk the next time I saw you at Dominion. I guess I got a bit excited when I saw you at the club the other night. Who would have thought that I would get to talk to the heir of an independent clan?” Izaya gave him an amused smile, leaning back in his chair.

“It's really not as amazing as you make it sound.”

“It is when you're just a rookie. I was wondering about Masamune-san though.” Kazuo's expression turned thoughtful. “Is he part of the Orihara-kai too?” Izaya's smile widened into a smirk and he shook his head.

“His identity is not mine to reveal.” Kazuo looked disappointed then shrugged.

“He's kind of scary. Watching him at Dominion, I couldn't believe you were so willing to sass him.” Izaya chuckled at Kazuo's observation.

“Do you always obey Otsuka?”

“Ah… Yeah, pretty much. I like pleasing him and I wouldn't want to make him mad.”

“Ah, I don't do it to make him mad.” Izaya said with a smirk. “It's more…” Izaya paused, thinking about his dynamic with Shiki. “I like to tease him, to see how much I can get away with before he pushes back. It's just a game between us. If I'm acting like a brat, it's because I want him to react.” Kazuo listened and nodded thoughtfully.

“So he likes it when you're a brat?” Izaya chuckled.

“I certainly hope so. I could never be a passive partner. It's not in my nature.”

“Oh, I see. When Otsuka-san and I started visiting Dominion, all of the subs I met were the passive sort, for the most part so I thought that's the way you were supposed to behave.” Izaya blinked then shrugged. He was hardly in a position to be giving Kazuo advice, being new enough to it himself.

“Every relationship is different.” He replied. “If you're not sure what Otsuka wants, why don't you ask him?” Kazuo nodded at the suggestion.

“Orihara-san, would it be okay if we kept in contact? I know you're worried that I might spill your secret but I really have no intention of doing so and talking to you has been nice.”

“Have you told Otsuka about me?” Izaya asked, gazing at Kazuo thoughtfully.

“Ah… No, I haven't but he has his own suspicions about you and Masamune-san.”

“Why Dominion?”

“The club? It was recommended to Otsuka-san and it's not in Masuya-kai territory so it was less likely for us to be seen by someone. Otsuka-san doesn't want to be found out.”

“And you're less concerned?”

“I am but I have less to lose than he does.”

“Well. This wasn't part of my plan.” Izaya murmured to himself, tapping a finger against the table. “What the hell, let's see where this goes.” Kazuo smiled Izaya, unaware of the various ways Izaya was thinking of using him.

Chapter Text

Izaya stuck his head around the corner of Aozaki’s cubicle-like office space to be greeted with the most intense standoff yet between the executive and his computer.

“Why are you playing with spreadsheets? Isn’t that usually Kazamoto’s thing? Or Shiki’s I suppose.” He added with a slight grin. Aozaki paused in his very slow input of numbers from a ledger book to turn his gaze on Izaya. Others might not appreciate the glower but Izaya knew it wasn’t directed at him so he was merely amused by it.

“Kaz is busy so I have to do my own books because Mikiya wants them submitted a week early so he can review them before the monthly meeting.” Aozaki grunted in explanation.

“It’s only two weeks into October. How would you be able to show accurate monthly numbers when the month isn’t even half over?” Izaya replied, moving to occupy the edge of Aozaki’s desk. Aozaki gave Izaya a grin and a shrug.

“That’s not my problem. Kaz can argue with Mikiya about the accuracy of the books. I’m gonna stick to just breaking bones for profit.”

“Ooo scary.” Izaya joked as he picked up the ledger and flipped through it casually. Aozaki plucked the book from his hands with a snort, replacing it with a small plastic bag that Izaya immediately recognized, though his expression was smoothed to a mask of curiosity as he held it up.

“Drugs, Ao? I thought the Awakusu weren’t into that business. Unless it’s a personal thing? I mean, not to meddle in personal affairs but drugs are bad for you, you know?” Aozaki punched Izaya’s shoulder, drawing a grunt from the raven.

“New drug that’s been making the rounds. Mostly in Shinjuku from what I’ve heard but sometimes makes its way into Ikebukuro. I want you to look into it for us, find out where it’s coming from. Make sure it stays out of our territory.”

“As in no one is selling in your territory? Because keeping this out entirely is probably impossible.”

“Yeah, I know. We still get punk kids dealing but as long as it isn’t one of the organized groups, we won’t do anything about it. But if it is one of the gangs or another family…” Aozaki trailed off, the threat in his tone implying the consequences more than adequately.

“Isn’t this the sort of thing that Akabaka usually deals with?” Izaya inquired, looking at the package before slipping it into his pocket.

“Last time he got a whiff of drugs he went on a crusade. I’d rather not have to listen to him bitching if this ends up being nothing.” Izaya snickered and slid off the desk.

“I’ll let you know what I find out. Are you paying me or should I just forward my bill to Shiki?” He asked with a smirk.

“Technically Shiki’s the one who pays you either way.” Aozaki responded with a shrug, returning his attention to the computer. “Just let me know what you find out.”

“Will do.” He replied, giving Aozaki a wave as he left his office, moving toward the exit.

“Orihara.” His head swung around, curving into an immediate smirk at Shiki’s voice, eyes settling on the executive actually in his Awakusu office for a change instead of at the gallery. His feet changed direction immediately, moving into Shiki’s doorway to lean against the frame.

“What are you doing here?” He teased, looking around the sparse office, even more bare than the one at the gallery, if that was possible. “You really need to add some personal touches to your office. Professionalism has its limits you know and a little personal touch goes a long way in setting people at ease. Makes you look a little like a human being instead of an ice cold killer.” Shiki rose a brow at Izaya’s analysis.

“I’m not in the business of setting people at ease, Orihara. I’ll leave the sympathetic human angle to you. Aozaki talked to you?” Izaya smirked and sauntered forward, collapsing into a chair with a slight incline of his head.

“I assume you’re using me because sending Awakusu men to poke around Shinjuku would look suspicious to other families. If the drug isn’t in Ikebukuro I’m not sure I see your reason for looking into it.”

“Your family doesn’t deal in drugs so you don’t have experience with how it works. Drugs move with demand and this new drug has high demand. Even if the original producer is limiting their sales, that isn’t going to stop the drug from travelling. Some young gang member will undoubtedly see a potential for profit and try to turn himself into a dealer for a new area to get a cut of the profit.” Izaya considered Shiki’s words thoughtfully.

“But wouldn’t that wannabe dealer still have to go back to the original producer?”

“You tell me.” Shiki replied, eyeing Izaya impassively. “You know more about chemically produced drugs than I do.” Izaya slow blinked at this then smirked.

“I’m a psychology major Shiki, not chemistry. I know they’re both technically sciences but significantly different.”

“Cute.”

“I know, I’m adorable.”

“Chemically produced drugs can be replicated. The dealer only needs to go to the producer for as long as he’s the only one but someone will inevitably figure out the formula and then he won’t be the only producer anymore, will he?”

“True. At which point there will probably be a market shift. Regardless, if a dealer pops up in Ikebukuro, you send Akabaka to sniff them out and nip it in the bud. That’s what you’re asking me to watch for, isn’t it?”

“If the producer is smart he will back off before it’s out of his control.”

“Ah but if the producer is interested in profit, backing off is the opposite of what he would be motivated to do, yes? If he is aware that competition will eventually show up, he would be more focused on building a loyal customer base before that happens.”

“Are you taking psychology or marketing?” Shiki asked dryly.

“Are you telling me psychology isn’t relevant to marketing?” Izaya scoffed in amusement. “This is all theoretical until you identify the producer, though, isn’t it?” Shiki’s eyes narrow slightly.

“Let’s just say I have a gut feeling about this very popular drug and where it might be coming from.” Izaya’s eyes narrowed slightly in challenge.

“Well if that’s the case then you hardly need me to look into it.” Shiki gave a slight shrug.

“I’m not the one who has a problem with drugs. It’s in my best interests, however, to keep Akabayashi from focusing on it. He tends to get obsessive over it and I’d prefer if he was focused on more than just a potential drug problem.”

“Ah, people management must be so hard…” Izaya replied, leaning forward with a mischievous grin. “How do you keep all these thugs in line?”

“Unlike a certain stray cat, they actually understand the chain of command.” Shiki replied blandly.

“Ooooh so you don’t tie them up and spank them when they don’t listen to you?” Izaya practically purred, earning a flat look from Shiki.

“I’ve been told that corporal punishment in a professional atmosphere is bad for morale.” He responded and Izaya snickered.

“I’m adding your sense of humour to my list of reasons why I like you.” He stood, giving Shiki an amused look. “Don’t worry, I’ll be very thorough in my investigation.”

“I’m sure you will. I have faith that you understand just how badly this could go.”

“Of course.” Izaya turned to leave, waving a dismissive hand. “Have faith that I also calculate the outcomes and risks.”

“The problem is that your idea of risk is skewed by its inherent entertainment value.”

“Keep me entertained, then.” He glanced back at Shiki and winked before ducking out of the office. He headed for the elevator, fixated on his next move in the face of this inconvenience. If he were anyone else, he might be genuinely worried but he merely found it amusing. Self-preservation was still high on his priority list but the fact that Shiki suspected his involvement based on very little information was delightfully entertaining. It revealed a few things to him about the executive's nature and anything he could learn about Shiki was worth it in his opinion.

The elevator doors opened to reveal Akabayashi who graced him with a grin that should have been concerning. “Here for work or fun, Orihara?”

“Working with the Awakusu is always fun, Aka.” Izaya replied with a smirk of his own. “Do you have some problem you desperately need me to solve for you too?”

“No, I'm sure Shiki is keeping you busy.” Akabayashi replied with a knowing grin. Izaya arched a brow then immediately moved straight into Akabayashi's personal space, not quite touching but close enough to make anyone uncomfortable.

"Oh I'm absolutely sure I can make time for you if you really need my services. I'm sure Shiki wouldn't mind. All to help the family, right? I'm already helping Aozaki out after all.” Then he was sliding past the red devil and into the elevator. “Go ahead and ask Shiki, let me know what he says.” He practically purred as the doors closed and he gave Akabayashi a little wave.

“Little shit.” Akabayashi muttered with an amused grin.

“Brought that on yourself.” He heard Aozaki say from his cubicle.

“Hey, Shiki, your pet cat seems to think you're willing to share. I always figured you were the possessive type.” Akabayashi called to Shiki as he passed his office.

“Instead of playing with the stray maybe you should get your work done.” Shiki responded cooly, not rising to the bait. “Unless, of course, you’d like to explain to Mikiya why you don’t have your accounts from the gambling dens in order.”

“Why bother when we’re just going to have to submit them again at the end of the month?” Akabayashi complained.

“Take it up with Mikiya.” Aozaki grunted at him.

“Too much effort. I’ll leave it to Kazamoto.”

~

“A dinner party?” Shirou raised a brow at Kyouko. “For what purpose?” Kyouko gave her husband a slightly exasperated look.

“To socialize with our allies, dear.” She replied, turning her gaze to Izaya. “Don’t you agree, Izaya?”

“I socialize with them enough.” Izaya replied without even looking up from the book he was reading. “A dinner party is just going to devolve into drinking and card games anyway so why bother with the dinner part? It’s not as if you’re going to be showing off your culinary skills.” Shirou snorted a laugh which he quickly attempted to cover by coughing. Kyouko’s eyes narrowed slightly.

“I do believe I’ve let my son become spoiled. Such a lack of respect for his mother. I can’t imagine where he learned it from…” She turned her gaze on her husband who had the good grace to look repentant for his laugh even though he wasn’t.

“If you want to throw a dinner party, love, you are more than welcome to. I’m sure our dutiful son will even be happy to help you.” Izaya raised his head at this, shooting his father a look of betrayal.

“As much as I’d love to, I’m really very busy with school and work right now.” He protested.

“Oh don’t worry, Izaya, the only thing I expect you to do is be a proper host. I’m sure you can manage that.” Izaya sighed and shrugged.

“Anything in particular you’re hoping to gain from this?”

“Not everything I do is about gaining advantages, Izaya.” Kyouko chides her son with an amused smile. “Sometimes it’s simply about strengthening bonds.” Shirou raised a brow and glanced at his father, sharing a look with him.

“So strengthening bonds is the desired goal.” Izaya replied earning an exasperated sigh from Kyouko.

“Is it so hard to believe that I just want to host a dinner party?”

“Yes.” Shirou and Izaya responded in unison.

“The last time you hosted a dinner party it was to impress those Americans Jonny brought over.” Shirou pointed out.

“And the time before that was when we were making that trade deal with the Koreans.” Izaya added. Kyouko eyed her husband and son with mock offense.

“I would think you two would appreciate the things I do for this family.”

“Oh we do.” Shirou assured her with a smile, leaning in to press a kiss to her cheek. “We’re just curious about your motives.”

“I want to get to know the Awakusu better. Especially with Izaya working so closely with them.” She gave Izaya a slight smirk. “I think this alliance has a great deal more potential than we first thought.”

~

“All of the reports for this month show profits are down compared to last month’s numbers.” Mikiya opened the meeting, earning a round of flat looks from the executives.

“Profits aren’t necessarily down, sir.” Kazamoto immediately countered. “The reports only have data from the first two weeks of the month which is all we were able to submit when you asked for them early. If you looked at the forecasted numbers, they show a very different outcome.”

“Yes, of course.” Mikiya replied, attempting to recover. “But for the best accuracy, I’ll need you to re-submit the reports with the most up to date numbers.” Kazamoto looked like he was contemplating several dozen ways to torture Mikiya but the heir was completely unaware of it and continued on. “Setting the reports aside, has there been any update to the situation with the Oriharas?” Shiki shifted, picking up a jade green folder - courtesy of the Orihara Izaya filing system - and handed it to Mikiya.

“We’ve been keeping tabs on the gang. We know they are responsible for both the warehouse fire and the art gallery vandalism, as well as the attempt on Shirou’s life but their motivations have not been made clear at this point. They appear to have gone to ground since their failed attempt, generally keeping their noses clean. Orihara provided an up to date list of the current members in Ikebukuro. Two of members on that list recently made contact with some of our people, claiming to want to join.”

“I assume they were sent on their way?” Mikiya asked as he took the folder. “Why is it green?”

“Both were summarily rejected, yes. It’s green because the gang’s colour is green.” Shiki really did try not to be condescending when he pointed it out but the snort from Akabayashi was a good indicator that he had probably failed.

“Is this a new trend in file organization?” Mikiya asked, seeming to have missed Shiki’s condescension. “It seems like it could be a useful way to categorize things.”

“No sir, it’s something unique to Orihara.” Shiki replied before Mikiya got too attached to the idea of colour coding the Awakusu files. He made a mental note to refile anything Izaya gave him in plain manila folders before forwarding them to Mikiya going forward. The man focused on the most useless things sometimes.

“Interesting. Before we get to reviewing the reports, the Oriharas have invited us to a dinner party this weekend. This is a good opportunity to strengthen our bonds with our allies so, as executives, I expect you all to be in attendance.”

“A dinner party?” Aozaki questioned. “I’m all for hanging with the Oriharas but why a dinner party?”

“Why not a dinner party?” Akabayashi countered, earning an irritated glare from Aozaki. “Just because your tastes lack refinement doesn’t mean everyone wants to settle for beer and pizza.”

“What’s wrong with beer and pizza?” Aozaki defended gruffly. “Just cause you feel the need to be flashy doesn’t mean every yakuza throws away money like that.”

“It’s called style. You should try it. Though I really don’t think any amount of fashion advice will salvage that ugly mug of yours.”

“Your so-called style can’t salvage that shitty personality of yours either.”

Shiki pulled out his phone, ignoring the bickering to send off a text to Izaya.

-Dinner party?-

-How about we skip the appetizers and go straight to dessert?-

-I thought you didn’t like sweets. Kyouko’s idea?-

-What can I say? You make my souffle rise. Of course it was her idea.-

-Should I expect to spend the evening being introduced to eligible ladies?-

-Oops.  No. That won’t be an issue.-

-Elaborate.-

-I’d just avoid her as much as possible if I were you.-

-Why?-

-Whoops look at the time. Gotta head to class. =^● ⋏ ●^= -

~

“We’ve managed to wrestle the insurance company into finally paying out over the warehouse fire.” Naoto was detailing to his father when Izaya arrived, sliding into the empty chair beside his father. “Kuzuhara’s interest in the case gave the insurance company leeway to try to argue this as criminally motivated in an attempt to not have to pay out.”

“Tch. That damn detective needs to keep his nose out of our business. Why is he focusing on us and not larger families? We’re barely worth the attention of the police.” Toshi spoke up with a shake of his head.

“It’s very likely he was pointed in our direction.” Shirou replied with a shrug. “The police are a fact of life in our business. We just need to keep our heads down and continue as we always have. He’ll be forced to return his attention to another family if we don’t give him anything to follow up on.”

“Unfortunately he also has eyes on the Awakusu-kai because of these incidents.” Izaya added with a slight frown. “Their business is a bit more obvious than ours so they’re likely to face more scrutiny. It might be better if we could give him something else to look at.”

“it would be best if we could turn their attention to the Dragons.” Han pointed out. “It might have been better if we'd played up Shirou's stabbing to the media.”

“I agree. On the heels of Izaya's media debut, it might drum up sympathy for us from the general populace.” Jun Ho, the Orihara's Korean executive agreed.

“I can still make that happen.” Izaya offered with a smirk. “It would be easy enough to spin it to look like we're being targeted because of our desire to break away from yakuza stereotypes.”

“That would work in our favour but I'll have to talk to Mikiya as this could affect their reputation as well.” Shirou acknowledged. “It's a shame Ito decided to do this. Kid could have had a promising future. He's your age Izaya?”

“A year younger. I still don't know why he's targeting us.”

“Could it have had anything to do with that kid you rescued?” Han asked thoughtfully.

“Kasuka? No, I don't think so. Ito was already in Tokyo well before I even learned about Kasuka's situation and his attacks happened before I sent Kine to Hong Kong.”

“Kasuka Heiwajima?” Shirou eyed his son with a slight frown. “That's who you smuggled out of Hong Kong?” Izaya inclined his head slightly. He'd known he wouldn't be able to hide what he had been doing from his father when he asked Han for assistance. “I see. What do the Jade Dragons have to do with him?”

“From what I've learned, they were paid to try to kidnap him in Hong Kong by a supposed member of the Orihara-kai. By the way, Han, Kasuka is sending me the video of this imposter. I'll forward it to you.” Han nodded. Shirou looked at his son thoughtfully.

“Perhaps Kyouko and I should pay Kasuka and his family a visit. Reassure them that we weren't involved.” Izaya gave his father an amused look, weighing the pros and cons of seeing his parents visit the Heiwajimas.

“I've already spoken with Kasuka, but I'm sure they'd feel even more reassured by the head of the family paying them a visit.” Izaya replied with a smirk. “Shizuo might actually believe you .” Shirou nodded then turned the subject back to work.

“Since we have everyone here, Izaya what have you learned about the Awakusu?”

“Individually? Or as a whole?” He replied with a grin, leaning forward a bit. “They're an interesting family. While there is an obvious structure, Dougen is surprisingly lenient about what his executives are permitted to do. I can confirm that as long as Akabayashi is around, drug dealing is off the table, for example. Particularly interesting since he's the newest of the executives and joined under some questionable circumstances.”

“Sold out his old boss is what the rumors say.” Toshi added.

“Over drugs.” Izaya confirmed. “Seems his old boss got into dealing and Akabayashi didn't like that. He tried to get his boss to drop it but when they guy didn't, Akabayashi got a little hands on. Whatever you might say about him, he stuck to his convictions.” Izaya said with a slight smile. He thought about mentioning that Akabayashi's convictions had more to do with a certain woman but decided against it.

“Well you want your executives to be people of conviction.” Shirou replied. “Go on.”

“Aozaki's as loyal as they come. Practically raised by Dougen. Didn't join till he was eighteen but that didn't stop him from tagging along and running errands for them well before he was officially a member. Dougen says jump, Aozaki says how high. He isn't fond of Akabayashi, doesn't think he's loyal to the family because of his history.”

“That lines up with everything we've heard about the devils and their rivalry.” Naoto nodded. “What about Kazamoto? I never could get a good read on him. He's a slippery sort.”

“He seems to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades among the execs.” Izaya mused. “I don't work with him as often. He tends to be the paper pusher around the office but he's almost always off somewhere meeting with someone. He seems to serve as the Awakusu's eyes and ears. Sometimes his information gathering involves less genteel methods,or so I've heard.”

“Interesting.” Shirou mused. “He definitely set my teeth on edge a bit when I met him. Saving the most mysterious one for last?”

“Shiki? Not intentionally. He's hard to read. Keeps everything private. He's efficient and not afraid to do what needs to be done, whatever that may be. Definitely earned his reputation but all I've got on him is that he joined the Awakusu when he turned eighteen and that he climbed the ranks very fast. He's the youngest executive at twenty seven.”

“That is young. I thought he was older.” Jonny commented, exchanging glances with the others. It seemed most of them thought Shiki was older. That amused him a bit. He didn't share the rest of what he'd learned about Shiki. It felt a bit too personal to give up, that moment when Shiki had let him pry, had given him answers. None of it was particularly relevant to their discussion anyway.

“He's also the one with the highest chance of displacing Mikiya, I've heard.” Naoto mused. Izaya raised a brow.

“I know the family isn't entirely pleased with Mikiya but I didn't realize replacing him was on the table.” Izaya commented.

“Well as long as Dougen supports him it probably isn't but it's something to be aware of.” Shirou replied with a shrug. Izaya hummed thoughtfully.

“Should I be worried that I'll be overthrown at some point?” He joked and the older executives gave him amused looks.

“How about you worry about that when you're actually running things?” Toshi answered good-naturedly.

“Just thinking ahead.” Izaya said with a laugh.

“Well then you're already doing better than Mikiya did, I think.” Naoto added with a chuckle.

“What's your read on Mikiya, Izaya?” Han asked. Izaya narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.

“I don't work with him directly but people talk. He's late to the game so it feels like he doesn't really know what he's doing. He's not stupid by any measure but I get the sense that he's trying a bit too hard to live up to expectations that aren't actually there. It doesn't help that his brother was well liked before he ran off.”

“Sounds like he could be made into a good leader with help.” Shirou observed. “The desire is there at least.”

“Except he has a bad habit of not listening when he probably should, from what I've heard.” Izaya shrugged. “Ideally, he would be smart to let his execs guide him until he learns what he needs to but I think he fears the very thing you mentioned, that one of them might be after his position.”

“Do you think any of them are?” Shirou asked and Izaya fell silent, giving it considerable thought before answering.

“It's hard to give a definite answer either way but I would say that it is unlikely. Aozaki is too loyal to the family to even consider it. Kazamoto seems quite content where he is. Same with Akabayashi. Shiki…” He frowned as he came to the most dangerous executive. “He's the biggest unknown to me. I don't think he would want it but I think if it meant keeping the family together he would take it.” Shirou gave Izaya a clap on the shoulder.

“Good think you've worked your way into his good graces. If things do change and he ends up replacing Mikiya, you've already got a good relationship with him.” Izaya gave his father a slight grin at this.

“I'm not sure good graces is the way I'd put it, but I've made myself useful to him.”

“For a man like Shiki I suspect being useful is one of the only ways to get in his good graces. Better to be on good terms with all of them. If there is a power shift in their family, as long as we stay out of it until the dust settles, we should be able maintain our position.”

“Where do we see gain, though?” Izaya asked thoughtfully. “Mikiya is easy to manipulate but without the respect of his men his family is unstable making him potentially less useful. A man like Shiki in power would be very difficult to manipulate but would likely have a united family under him.”

“A strong family will always make a better ally than a fractured one.” Naoto replied.

“But Mikiya has time to pull his family together.” Toshi replied with a shrug.

“Who knows, maybe his brother will come back after discovering that the life of a starving artist is no life at all.” Jonny joked, drawing a round of chuckles.

“That’s a long shot. The best outcome would probably be if Mikiya could set aside his pride and accept help from his executives.” Han added.

“But I think, in the long run, the family might do better under a man like Shiki.” Jun Ho finished. Izaya listened to the Orihara executives with interest, fascinated by their assessment of the situation and how it affected their family. He couldn’t help but to find it amusing that all of them seemed to respect Shiki on some level despite knowing very little about him.

“Well it’s something the Awakusu have to resolve internally.” Shirou spoke, looking directly at his son. “We can’t get involved so we’ll just have to wait and see.” Izaya heard the warning in Shirou’s casual words and he knew it would be a bad idea but he couldn’t help but to think about the possibilities.

Chapter Text

“There's a Halloween themed event at the club next weekend.” Kazuo said as he stirred sugar into his coffee. Izaya looked up from the magazine he was flipping through with curiosity.

“Oh? Catsuits and naughty nurses and other sexy costumes I assume?”

“The theme is animal tamers so I think the subs are supposed to be in animal costumes. There are prizes and games on the main floor. I assume Fei-san will make a private room available for us again.”

“I'm not sure I'm interested in playing dress up.” Izaya replied with a shrug.

“You're already playing dress up. How much more effort is it going to be to add some animal ears or something?” Kazuo pointed out with a shy laugh.

“Are you going to dress up?” Izaya asked with an arched brow.

“I think it could be fun.” He said with a slight flush. Izaya gave him an amused look.

“But you don't want to do it alone?” He prompted. Kazuo gave him a sheepish look and nodded. “So you're hoping I'll dress up too?” Another nod and Izaya chuckled. “Fine. I guess I need to go shopping.”

“I can help with that!” Kazuo announced with a smile. “I know this really good cosplay store in Akibahara. It's where I go to get some of the costumes I need for work.” Izaya shrugged.

“Sure, why not? Are the doms supposed to get dressed up?” Kazuo shook his head.

“I think it's up to them but not required like it is for the subs.”

“That's good. I don't think I could convince Masamune to go if it required a costume.”

“Otsuka-san probably won't wear a costume either.” Kazuo said with an understanding nod before changing the subject. “Did you read the article I sent you?”

“The one on the Yamaguchi-gumi and their attempt to repair their reputation after their very public war?” Izaya nodded. “Old men who don't understand the shift in generations.”

“It's true that they don't understand what they are trying to do but the idea of using social media isn't a bad one, right?”

“Yes, it's something I've thought about as well but, even more so with the yakuza than with legitimate businesses, it has to be handled carefully.”

"I have some ideas. Like using the fan sites. There aren't many print magazines anymore but there are still plenty of fan sites. If you were to build and operate a fansite dedicated to your family, the way they do for idol groups or actors, then populate it with the kinds of images you want to sell…” He trailed off when he realized Izaya was giving him a contemplative look. “Sorry, I'm rambling.”

“No, don't apologize.” Izaya said with a chuckle. “Your idea has merit. Kazuo-kun, were you planning to go to college?”

“I thought about it. I mean, my high school grades are good enough but I didn't know what I wanted to do when I graduated so I put it off. My parents aren't really happy about that though.”

“Have you considered studying marketing? You seem to have some insightful ideas in that area.”

“I don't know… They're just ideas. I don't really know how to turn them into actual work.”

“That's what college should be able to teach you.” Izaya replied with another chuckle. “Would you be willing to research this fan site idea for me if I paid you? Figure out what would be needed and how much it would cost?”

“Really?” Kazuo looked surprised by Izaya's offer. “You really think it's a good idea? OK, yeah, sure. I'll definitely look into it for you.” His eyes lit up with excitement at the idea.

Izaya gave him an amused smile. Kazuo clearly had a desire to be recognized and it was easy for him to manipulate the young man. He had a feeling that, with Kazuo's shyness, he was probably one of those high school kids that was barely noticed and probably didn't have very many friends. His eagerness to please made him an easy target and Izaya didn't know Otsuka very well but he had a feeling the older man might be taking advantage of Kazuo - not that he was in any position to judge. Still, if he could get the young man to work for him, all the better.

~

“Izaya can you please check on your sisters?” Kyouko called to him from her place in the kitchen, overseeing the caterers as they set up. Izaya sighed in irritation, looking up from the magazine he was reading.

“Couldn't you have just stopped with me?” He asked his father as he pushed himself out of the chair. Shirou gave him an amused smile.

“They're my backup plan if you decide to run off and become a therapist.” Izaya shuddered at the thought.

“The family would be doomed.” He replied with a grin as he headed toward the stairs. “Therapist? Really?”

“Social worker?” Shirou called after him, earning a derogatory snort. Izaya knocked on the twins door.

“Hey clones, Mom wants to know if you're ready.”

“Don't you dare come in Iza-nii!” Mairu yelled through the door.

“Not allowed.” Kururi echoed. Izaya narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

“What are you doing, Mairu?”

“What I do in my room is none of your business, Iza-nii!”

“Nosy.”

“That response just makes me more suspicious.” Izaya replied with a snort. “Whatever you're doing, if you're not downstairs and ready in ten minutes, I'm going to tell Mom about that girl whose hair you lit on fire at school last week.”

“How do you know about that?!” Mairu squealed, throwing the door open to glare up at him.

“Spy.” Kururi replied looking less surprised than Mairu. Izaya just smirked at his sisters.

“Best behaviour tonight or I'm telling Mom everything .”

“IZA-NII IS SO MEEEEEEAN.” Mairu yelled as she slammed the door.

“Izaya I said check on them not pick on them.” Kyouko called from downstairs.

“I did nothing!” Izaya declared in self defense as he returned to the main floor. “You spoil them so they have no respect for their elders.”

“I can't imagine where they might have learned that behavior from.” Kyouko replied with an arched brow.

“I wasn't spoiled, I was neglected. My parents were too busy with work to spoil me. It was a very difficult childhood. It's surprising that I didn't get into more trouble really…”

“Like fighting classmates in the middle of the street?” Shirou observed with a slight smile.

“I could have joined a color gang, Dad.” Izaya replied with a grin. “How embarrassing would that have been?” Kyouko laughed at that.

“That makes no sense whatsoever. As if my son would lower himself to those standards.” Shirou replied dismissively.

“Besides we all know it would have been more likely for you to form your own gang than join someone else's.” Kyouko added. Izaya chuckled at his parents observations, pleased by their praise.

“You should give Yuuto a raise. He tried so very hard to keep me out of trouble.”

“I definitely deserve a raise.” Yuuto called from the kitchen where he was helping the caterers by carrying boxes. “No normal babysitter would have survived Izaya's antics.” This brought a round of laughter from Izaya's parents.

“Go get yourself ready, neglected child. Our guests should be arriving soon.” As if on cue, the doorbell rang and Izaya retreated upstairs to change. He traded his casual clothes for a pair of black slacks and a red dress shirt which he left unbuttoned at the top. A quick check in the mirror and he was heading back downstairs to play host to the Awakusu.

“Dressed to impress, Orihara?” He turned toward the familiar voice, setting his gaze on Akabayashi.

“Always. You've met my mother. Anything less and she'll throw me out of the family. You the first to arrive?”

“No, Mikiya and Nanami arrived first. Your sisters have already dragged the little Miss off to plot trouble.”

“They are on orders to behave so there shouldn't be too much trouble.”

“Did you behave when you were told to at their age?” Akabayashi asked, amused.

“No, but I didn't tell them so much as blackmail them.” Izaya replied with a grin. “Can I get you a drink?”

“Sure, what are my options?”

“A wide variety of things I don't drink.” Izaya replied with a smirk as he waved Akabayashi toward the kitchen. “Beer, wine and sake. The usual hard liquor.”

"Beer's fine. I'm sure the sake will come out later anyway.” Izaya sighed as he grabbed a beer for Akabayashi who noted his less than enthusiastic response. “Sucks to be a lightweight in the yakuza.” He chuckled as he took the beer from the raven. Izaya shrugged as he grabbed a beer for himself.

“I'm learning to cope. I just think alcohol is overrated.”

“A drunk man is an honest one.” Akabayashi pointed out with a grin. “Or so the theory goes. In my experience it's true most of the time. People lower their guard when they're drinking.”

“People get stupid when they’re drinking.” Izaya corrected with a snort. “I'm delighted to watch the rest of you get drunk and reveal all your deepest, darkest secrets but I'll pass on oversharing.” Akabayashi gave Izaya an amused smirk.

“Yes, I suppose a man who collects secrets wouldn't be too fond of sharing them.” He joked, drawing a smirk from Izaya.

“Indeed. You never know whose secrets I might actually share.” He replied, fixing Akabayashi with a look that was amusement with underlying challenge.

“Who's sharing secrets?” Aozaki's gruff voice joined the conversation as he appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, followed by Jonny.

“Akabayashi, of course.” Izaya replied, opening the fridge to pass them beers.

“As if he even has any secrets worth spilling.” Aozaki replied as he took the beer.

“How about you spill the secret of how you keep winning at poker?” Jonny chimed in drawing a laugh from Akabayashi.

“That secret I will take with me to the grave. Maybe if you manage to win a game against me I’ll consider sharing it…” Akabayashi replied with a grin.

“Family honour is riding on you Jonny.” Izaya teased with a grin.

“Does that mean I can use family finances to bet?” Jonny responded with a laugh.

“Somehow I don’t see Father approving.” Izaya snorted. “At least not with your current win to loss ratio.”

“That’s right, King. The family honour is riding on you but they have no faith in your actual chances.” Akabayashi replied with a grin. “If you want, I’ll save you further embarrassment and you can just hand over the contents of your wallet now.”

“Mizuki, are you shaking down my guests?” The teasing lilt of Kyouko’s voice joined the conversation as she entered the kitchen. Akabayashi gave her a good natured grin and shrugged.

“No, no, just offering King an alternative to losing at poker again.”

“Perhaps I’ll join in when the cards come out tonight.” Kyouko replied, fixing Akabayashi with a playful smirk. “I won’t forgive you if you go easy on me.” King and Izaya exchanged amused glances while Akabayashi studied Kyouko thoughtfully.

“Of course not, Kyouko-chan.” He replied as the doorbell sounded.

“I’ll get it.” Izaya replied with a grin, leaving Akabayashi to his mother’s mercies. He opened the door for Shiki, giving him a smirk as his eyes lingered over the white overcoat that had replaced his usual suit jacket. Shiki leveled him with a mildly unimpressed look.

“Orihara. Were you going to invite me in or just stare at me.” He prompted, drawing a laugh from Izaya.

“So sorry Shiki-san, I was distracted. Wondering if you have a custom tailor for all your monochromatic fashion choices and what your dry cleaning bill must be like.” He teased as he stepped back to let Shiki in.

“Yes, I’m sure that’s what you were thinking.” Shiki replied as he handed Izaya the bottle of wine he’d been holding so that he could remove the coat. Izaya studied the bottle before handing it back and taking Shiki’s coat to hang in the closet.

“My father is in the living room. My mother is in the kitchen. I’d avoid the kitchen.” Izaya directed  as he turned his gaze back to Shiki.

“Care to explain why?” Shiki asked with an arched brow. Izaya grimaced.

“She may have figured us out.” He replied with a sigh.

“Which means I should avoid her, why?” Shiki prodded.

“I have a feeling she’s going to-”

“Izaya, your father wants you to explain something to Mikiya.” Kyouko called, appearing in the entrance. “Ah, Shiki, just the man I was hoping to talk to.”

“Orihara-chan, thank you for inviting me.” he responded handing her the bottle with a polite smile. Izaya frowned briefly before turning toward the living room, leaving Shiki reluctantly. “What did you wish to talk to me about?”

“I don’t think my son trusts me with you.” She replied, watching Izaya with amusement as she hooked an arm through Shiki’s. “Walk with me.”

“Of course, Orihara-chan.” He replied, letting her lead the way. She led him out to the patio, pausing there to gaze at the garden, shaded in the soft hues of sunset before turning to look at him. Shiki met her gaze, waiting patiently for her to speak.

“Izaya is reluctant to build relationships with people, something that Shirou and I are at least partially responsible for. Even with his friends, I’ve seen that he holds back a part of himself, unwilling to grow too attached or reveal too much of himself. It doesn’t help that he’s grown up as a member of the yakuza.” Shiki gave a slight nod of understanding, having seen it in Izaya himself, the way the raven hid his true self behind masks, playing with other people’s emotions without ever letting them get close to him.

“I’ve noticed, yes. I can’t imagine growing up with the people around you constantly trying to use you would make him particularly trusting.” Kyouko gave him a slight smile, nodding even as her eyes narrowed slightly.

“He's different with you.” She continued, turning the focus toward him. It wasn't unexpected; Shiki had sensed where this conversation was headed the moment Kyouko spoke of Izaya. “There's a comfortable way he has around you, even when you're both being professional, that he doesn't have with anyone else. It's genuine and I don't think he's even realized it. That makes him very vulnerable.” She paused, watching Shiki but the executive just shrugged.

“I'm not going to tell you how I will never hurt your son or take advantage of him.” Shiki responded with amusement. “We're both adults and neither of us is ignorant of the consequences of our relationship. I understand your concern, Orihara-chan. Izaya excels in lying to himself about his own feelings. But I have nothing to gain from leading him on if that's what you think I'm doing.” Kyouko smiled at Shiki's response, seeming to be delighted by it.

“Well I didn't expect you to make promises but I thought it might have been amusing if you had.” She replied, turning her gaze back to the sunset. “You seem like a good fit, to be honest, and who am I to judge my son's choice? I'm just happy that he made one. I did have some concern that he would continue to deny himself any kind of relationship for the sake of appearance.”

“It is something he worries about.” Shiki acknowledged. “Rightfully so. Neither society or the hierarchy of the yakuza are accepting of this, even if you are. It has the potential to make things very difficult for him and your family.”

“Ah, yes, very practical-minded of you.” She replied with amusement. “Izaya has years before he inherits. He's already changing things, subtly forcing the family to adapt to the changes in society. By the time he's in the position to take over, I have faith that he will have found himself progressive successors for our current executives.”

“You have more faith than I do. The yakuza attract a certain sort of person and progressive is not a trait often praised.”

“Not in the lower ranks, maybe, but the families that have continued to thrive did so because they were progressive.” She corrected with a smirk.

“Adaptable is not the same as progressive.” Shiki countered with an arched brow. “And this is not something that can be overlooked in the name of profit.”

“It's sweet that you're concerned for him.” Kyouko turned and patted him on the cheek, causing him to frown a bit. “You'll do well I think. A shame you didn't come to us instead of the Awakusu.”

He snorted in amusement, giving Kyouko a rare smile. “You're more subtle than he is.”

“I have quite a few years on him. And you're perceptive enough to see through it.” Shiki shrugged in response.

“I wouldn't be where I am if I wasn't perceptive. I also have no reason to deceive you regarding Izaya.” Kyouko tilted her head slightly in thought, measuring his statement.

“What would you do if the Awakusu-Orihara alliance came to an end?” Shiki responded with a shrug.

“There are far too many variables at play for me to be able to give a singular answer to such a complex question.”

“A smooth deflection.”

“The only way to safely avoid the catch 22 you're trying to put me in.” Kyouko laughed at that then shrugged.

“You wouldn't hold it against me for trying, would you?”

“Of course not. A mother's desire to protect her son is nothing to be offended by but I'm not going to make promises or even vague statements about my future and Izaya's place in it simply to placate you. We both know it wouldn't work anyway.” Kyouko smiled and inclined her head slightly.

“I’ll stop. Besides, if I keep you out here any longer, Izaya is going to think I murdered you and threw your body in the pond.” Shiki chuckled at that

“I'm touched by his concern.” Shiki replied dryly.

“I told you he's different with you.” She replied with a grin. “Enjoy the party, Shiki.” He watched Kyouko drift back into the house, taking a moment to light a cigarette as he thought about the conversation. Kyouko's subtle attempt to fish for information by posing unanswerable questions was an attempt to read his character, that much he knew but what opinion she may have come to, he couldn't tell.

The rest of the evening was fairly relaxed; mostly business talk, drinking and casual card games. Shiki thoroughly enjoyed watching Akabayashi finally meet his match in Kyouko at the poker table, who turned out to be a rather cutthroat player.

“Think Akabayashi’s pride will recover from the thrashing she gave it?” Izaya murmured, leaning against the arm of the chair Shiki was sitting in.

“He’s resilient.” Shiki replied with a shrug. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Aozaki quite so smug though. Akabayashi’s pride might not survive that.” Izaya chuckled.

“So how did the interrogation go?” Shiki arched a brow as he took a sip of his drink.

“I wouldn’t call it an interrogation for starters.” He replied. “But I have no idea how it went. Or rather, I have no idea what she got out of it. Why are you so worried about it? She’s your mother.”

“That’s exactly what concerns me. The point was to avoid anyone finding out, especially my family.”

“Well if you hadn’t noticed, Akabayashi suspects something as well and he’s stopped being subtle about it. I’d be more concerned about him than your mother.” Izaya shifted his gaze to the red devil then back to Shiki.

“I could probably blackmail him into silence…” He replied thoughtfully, earning a flat look from Shiki.

“Keep that as a last resort for now. He hasn’t done anything beyond obnoxious implications and I’d rather not have to blackmail another executive.”

“Fine… Is that how you got to an executive position so quickly? Blackmail?”

“Nice try. Some of us believe in hard work, Orihara.”

“Why work hard if you don’t have to? Save all that energy for playing hard.” He replied, giving Shiki an inviting smirk. Shiki gave him an amused look in return.

“Yes, I can’t imagine how your mother might have caught on that there might be something going on.” He deadpanned.

“To be fair, I’m an equal opportunity flirt.” Izaya defended.

“That just makes you a tease. I think you need to consider what you're going to do when more people start figuring it out. With the way you collect and use fangirls your public image is safe but the people close to you are going to catch on eventually.”

“Should I throw a coming out party?” Izaya responded dismissively, not liking the direction of the conversation. Shiki’s response was an arched brow and flat eyed stare.

“Take out an add in the newspaper while you're at it.”

~

“You need to be more careful.” Izaya was eyeing Nakura with a frown. “I sent you to Shinjuku for a reason yet here I am finding out it's making its way into Ikebukuro.” He flicked a photo onto the desk in front of his lackey. “I gave you a specific list of people to use as runners. This guy is not among them so why are you using him?”

Nakura stared at the photo nervously. “I needed extra help and Mimizu said he was trustworthy.”

“Oh? Mimizu vouched for him? Well then he must be trustworthy. Stop thinking with your dick, Nakura. Mimizu is not your boss and she's not going to be able to save your ass if I decide you're a liability.”

Nakura flinched at the blunt threat; usually Izaya was subtler in reminding him how screwed he was. “I won't use him anymore.”

“No, you won't.” Izaya replied with a finality that made Nakura frown.

“What did you do to him?”

“Me? Nothing. Who knows what the Awakusu will do to him though. Everyone knows they don't tolerate dealing in ‘Bukuro.”

“You're framing him!”

“No shit. You brought attention to this that I was specifically working to avoid. Since he isn't one of my people, I have no reason to protect him and every reason to get rid of him.”

“But it's not his fault!”

“Would you like to switch places with him?”

“No! Of course not!” Nakura backpedaled. Izaya smirked at him pointedly.

“Of course not.”

~

“What is this?” Shiki waved a hand in the general direction of Izaya's outfit.

“It's a costume. I would have thought that would be obvious.” Izaya sassed back as he leaned over the counter, applying eyeliner. “Honestly, are you going senile at twenty seven?” The smack of Shiki’s hand connecting with Izaya's vinyl clad ass echoed and the eyeliner Izaya had been holding clattered to the counter. “Ohhhh are we starting this already? I haven't even finished getting ready.”

Shiki arched a brow as he watched Izaya retrieve the eyeliner. “You neglected to mention anything about costumes.”

“Surprise.” Izaya purred, smirking at Shiki in the reflection. “It's only required for the subs anyway.”

“No tail?”

“Stop rushing me. I told you I wasn't ready.” Izaya replied with mild irritation as he waved to a small pile of accessories on the counter. Shiki glanced over the pile, fishing out the tail and giving Izaya a smirk.

“Nice touch. Were you planning to surprise me with that too?” He asked as he held up the tail that was attached to a butt plug. Izaya just smirked a bit as he finished his cat-eye makeup.

“Well if someone hadn't decided to show up early, it might have been a surprise but you went and spoiled it.”

“I'll make it up to you by helping you finish.” Shiki replied, sliding a hand over Izaya's ass before pushing up the vinyl skirt. Izaya let out a soft breath as fingertips trailed down over his bare skin.

“That's not necessary.” He protested as they rubbed teasingly over his entrance.

“I insist.” Shiki replied with a smirk as he grabbed the lube, slicking his fingers before pressing inside. Izaya groaned at the feeling, meeting Shiki's gaze in the mirror as the other made slow, deliberate strokes. The look Shiki was giving him - possessive and full of heat but with a devilish glint - made him shiver. He opened his mouth to protest as Shiki curled his fingers down over that spot, drawing from him a moan instead of words. He pulled back, replacing the warmth of his fingers with the cool press of metal as he slid the plug in. He tugged the tail lightly before pulling the skirt back down, eyes still focused on Izaya's reflection. Izaya could feel the flush of heat in his cheeks but he couldn’t bring himself to look away. “Don’t you have more to do?” Shiki chided Izaya with amusement. “We wouldn’t want to be late.”

Izaya groaned and reached for the other bits of costume; furry wrist cuffs, ears which he clipped into the wig and a shiny red collar, complete with a bell that jingled when he moved his head. By the time he was done, the flush had faded from his cheeks but his arousal had not. It didn’t help that Shiki had continued to watch him either.

“Nice collar. Where’s the leash?” Shiki asked, reaching out to flick the bell.

“Why would you need a leash?” Izaya responded with a snort. “I’m a cat not a dog.”

“All the more reason to keep you from wandering off.” Shiki replied with a chuckle. “Are you ready now?”

“Mmhm.” Izaya responded, taking a moment to smooth the vinyl dress before following Shiki out.

~

The club was packed but Fei had set aside a comfortable booth for them which they were currently sharing with Kazuo and Saionji. Kazuo had dragged Izaya off to dance which the raven had made a show of resisting but once he was on the dance floor, with Shiki’s gaze on him, he was putting on an altogether different kind of show. Though he had no intention of admitting it to the raven, watching Izaya move to the music with that natural grace of his was certainly distracting.

“Your position as a legal secretary must be quite advantageous for your family, Masamune-san.” Saionji was saying as he poured sake for them, assuming himself the younger. Shiki found it somewhat entertaining as Izaya had ascertained that Saionji was three years his senior in age, not that he was going to correct the man. Shiki inclined his head slightly in agreement as he picked up the sake cup.

“It certainly is. What do you do for your family, Otsuka-san?” He inquired politely despite already knowing that Saionji was a property manager for a subsidiary company that the Masuya-kai owned. He was the sort of mid-level employee that likely would never move up, smart enough to hold a decent position but without the ruthless drive necessary to climb the ranks.

“I manage real estate properties.” Saionji replied with a note of pride in his voice. “Much of our income is tied up in real estate and it’s very important to ensure that they are managed properly.”

“Of course.” Shiki replied nodding his head in agreement. “I deal with some of the legal aspects of property management. It can be very complicated and a very important responsibility. The Masuya-kai don’t deal in entertainment much, do they?”

“Not heavily, no. We’re a subsidiary family with mostly real estate ties though we own a few bars and clubs. As I understand it, Fei-san’s syndicate is heavily into entertainment though. Seems they're looking to expand their influence in Tokyo.”

“Is that so?” Shiki raised a brow. “Sounds risky. Most families don't look too kindly on foreigners challenging them.”

“True, he's met with resistance but there are some families that don't mind working with him since his contacts back in Hong Kong provide him with some leverage to negotiate. Smuggling is a difficult and risky business so having a third party to take on those risks can be more alluring.”

“Hmm.” Shiki agreed, eyes drawn back to Izaya who had gathered a bit of a group around him. If this was a normal club, he had no doubt that Izaya would be getting hit on but in the relative safety of the kink club, where most everyone understood the expected courtesies, it was the other subs that were drawn to him. The collar and Shiki's presence were enough of an indicator for most of the doms that Izaya wasn't available which was good because Shiki already had to repress possessive impulses where the raven was concerned. “Fei-San certainly has the potential for business growth. There are few families with the same reach he has.”

“There is one prominent family that Fei-San has mentioned being in direct competition with.” Saionji continued, refilling their cups. “The Orihara-kai in Ikebukuro. It's impressive how such a small family has managed to maintain such a firm grip on their industry without being subsumed by a larger organization.” Saionji's gaze slid to Izaya and he gave Shiki a knowing smile. “The heir is particularly interesting, wouldn't you say, Masamune-san?”

“Very interesting.” Fei's voice joined the conversation before Shiki could form a response. Izaya had informed him that Kazuo had figured out his identity so he wasn't surprised that Saionji knew as well but it was somewhat concerning since the older yakuza's motivations were less transparent than Kazuo's. “Masamune-san, what are your thoughts on the Orihara-kai?” Fei continued as he settled into the booth with them.

“Extremely successful. They've guaranteed their position in Tokyo by continuing to be useful and by adapting to their changing circumstances.” He replied, shifting his gaze to Fei. “It's easy to survive when you have the backing and protection of larger clans but it takes significantly more to remain independent.” It was respect for those traits that had motivated Dougen to ally with the Oriharas instead of simply taking them over like other families had tried to do and so far the Awakusu-kai had only profited from that decision.

“And the current heir? He seems like a wild card. Young and full of himself.” Fei continued.

“Orihara Izaya?” Saionji added. “Media darling who acts like he's a celebrity whenever they put a camera in front of him?” Shiki's lips turned up into a hint of a smile.

“He's still young. I would withhold judgment on him as heir until he's older, I think.” Shiki replied with the measured response that Izaya tended to receive from older members of both the Awakusu and Orihara clans. Working closely with Izaya, he had already formed an opinion of the raven of course, but ‘Masamune’ hardly would have the same insight.

“Reasonable.” Saionji agreed. “He seems to be trying to legitimize his family though I don’t know how well that will work.”

“Legitimize a criminal organization?” Fei snorted at the absurdity of the statement. Shiki raised a brow at his response but it wasn’t surprising. The syndicates operated under a very different methodology after all, completely business oriented. The implied family dynamic of the yakuza and the structure the clans were built on would not be something someone like Fei would be aware of, even if he had been working with them in Shinjuku. He would have an outsider’s perspective.

“Not everything the yakuza do is criminal and even some of the things we are involved with that are considered criminal are not necessarily harmful.” Saionji pointed out with a wry smile, also realizing that Fei’s idea of the yakuza was not necessarily accurate. “I deal in real estate, for example. Completely legitimate, above board business.”

“I see. And you, Masamune-san? What does your family do?” Fei inquired but the sly look on the chinese executive’s face made Shiki pause before responding.

“Entertainment primarily.” He replied with a shrug. “A fairly common business sector for the yakuza to deal in. Proper businessmen aren’t interested in getting their hands dirty operating a soapland but they sure are happy to spend their money at one.” That drew laughter from both Saionji and Fei.

Kazuo appeared, sliding into the seat beside Saionji but ‘Sakura’ did not appear to be with him. Shiki glanced back at the dance floor but Izaya wasn’t there either.

“Sakura went to the bathroom.” Kazuo informed them as he reached for a glass of water. Shiki inclined his head in acknowledgement.

“Speaking of, I’ll be right back.” Saionji added with a chuckle, sliding out of his seat.

“Fei-san, what made you decide on the theme?” Kazuo asked quietly, looking at the chinese man with a shy smile, obviously a bit intimidated by him. Fei just shrugged lazily.

“Just wanted to take advantage of the holiday to draw people in and who wouldn’t want to see their girlfriend dressed up in a cute animal costume? I mean, they’re popular for a reason.”

“True.” Kazuo agreed with a smile. “It’s definitely fun.” He admitted, drawing an amused look from Shiki. Izaya had mentioned that part of the reason he’d agreed to dress up was because of Kazuo. It amused him that the raven had found himself another fan in the midst of this ridiculous game he was playing trying to get close to Fei. He had a sneaking suspicion that Izaya wasn’t actually visiting the bathroom but there was no way to confirm it at the moment.

“What should be even more fun is the little tableau that should be starting soon.” Fei replied with a slight smirk causing Shiki to shift his gaze to the scene that was being set up on one of the stages. The dance floor was clearing as the lights shifted leaving most of the club in dim lighting while the stage was lit.Saionji slid back into his seat just as the show began but the raven still hadn’t appeared. The timing was too advantageous for it to be coincidence and he couldn’t help but to sigh at the raven’s impulsive behavior. He sat through the entire show but Izaya did not return.

“Masamune-san, would you join me downstairs for a moment?” Fei inquired, drawing his attention. The syndicate executive was giving him a cold smile which he returned, eyes narrowing slightly.

“Certainly, Fei-san.” He felt Kazuo’s eyes on him and glanced at the young man as he got up. Kazuo looked concerned but remained silent as Shiki followed Fei away from the table. Fei led him downstairs to a small private room near the very back of the basement floor, opening the door on a sight he had been suspecting. Izaya had been gagged, stripped and tied to a St. Andrew’s cross. Even the wig had been removed though the cat ears and tail had been left alone. His red eyes practically glowed with fury, fixed on Fei as they entered the room.

“Your kitten was rather naughty. My men caught him sneaking around in places he shouldn’t be.” Fei approached the raven, running a hand down his spine lightly. Izaya jerked at the touch and Shiki began to move forward but froze when he heard the telltale sound of a gun being cocked. He glanced over his shoulder to see Saionji standing there and grimaced. “Can’t have his protective dom interfering, can I?” Fei said as he turned his gaze back to Shiki. “Though I must admit it’s quite a surprise to find out that Shiki Haruya of the Awakusu-kai put a collar on the Orihara heir. From one dom to another, you wouldn’t deny me my right to punish such a disobedient sub, would you?” The smirk Fei was wearing drew a snort from Shiki.

“You’re not giving me a choice in the matter.” He replied coolly. “You do understand that hurting him would be an open declaration of war?”

“Oh I don’t think so. It was you two who stepped foot in my club after all.” Fei turned away and picked up a whip from a table near the cross and Shiki gritted his teeth in frustration.

“Do the Masuya-kai serve a foreigner, Otsuka?” He aimed at his fellow yakuza.

“No, Shiki, they don’t. Fei made me a significantly more generous offer for my services.” Saionji responded with a frown. The crack of the whip sounded and the first strike painted a red strip across Izaya’s back. The raven made a noise that was pure pain and Shiki flinched. Even in the hands of a practiced user, the whip was a risky tool to use and Izaya was so much skin and bone that there was little flesh to cushion the blows.

“You would betray your family for money?” Shiki let the disgust come out in his tone. “What about Kazuo? Does he know what you’re doing?”

“Who cares what he thinks? He’s just a desperate kid hoping to find a place to belong. He doesn’t belong in the yakuza, that’s for sure. You have some outdated ideals, Shiki. Honour doesn’t pay the bills.”

The fifth strike drew blood and Izaya screamed around the gag. Shiki clenched his fists but with a gun to his back he couldn’t dare move.

“Doesn’t belong?” Kazuo’s voice, still quiet but firmly angry, joined the conversation. “You were using me?” Saionji glanced at Kazuo as the young man stepped into the room.

“Hey, you had fun, no need to get upset about it. What did you expect would happen?” Saionji replied cruelly, his focus shifting away from Shiki. That was all the executive needed to turn and grab Saionji’s gun arm, dragging the man forward as he twisted the arm back. The gun clattered to the floor and before Saionji could attempt to reclaim it Kazuo had scooped it up, eyes wide. He practically threw the gun to Shiki, staring at Saionji venomously. Shiki let Saionji go as he took the gun, turning and taking aim at Fei even as the other landed another skin-splitting strike on Izaya. The sound of the gun shot echoed in the room and Fei keeled forward, falling to his knees in surprise. Shiki strode past him to the cross and immediately began to unbuckle Izaya, the raven sagging into his arms as he was released, cheeks streaked with tears and makeup. Saionji had moved to Fei’s side, pressing hands against the bleeding bullet wound in the syndicate executives side and glaring at them.

“Shitshitshitshitshit!” Kazuo was repeating as he watched, wide eyed. “There’s a back entrance… I can show you.” Shiki picked Izaya up even as the raven was attempting to protest something, ignoring the noises he was making around the gag. He strode toward the door, following as Kazuo led them to another staircase, this one leading up to what appeared to be an emergency exit. Izaya had managed to fumble the gag off in the meantime.

“No, we can’t just leave with nothing!” He protested as Kazuo pushed open the door and held it for them. They stepped into the alley behind the club, greeted by the slight chill of night.

“I’m not even going to dignify that with a response, Izaya.” Shiki replied flatly as he moved toward the alley exit. Kazuo trailed behind them, glancing back at the door nervously.

“If we leave now, everything we did up to this point was useless!” Izaya continued, squirming in Shiki’s arms.

“Get your priorities straight, Izaya.” Shiki snapped, setting the raven down briefly to shrug out of his coat, wrapping it around Izaya’s shoulders. “There is nothing we can gain from staying and everything to lose.” Izaya slid his arms into the sleeves of Shiki’s coat then crossed them over his chest, sulking at Shiki’s words. He didn’t protest when Shiki led them toward his car, focusing on the placement of his bare feet and doing his best to ignore the unpleasant stinging of his back. Kazuo followed behind them quietly, continuing to watch behind for pursuers.

Chapter Text

Izaya let out a hiss at the sting of antiseptic being carefully applied to his back by Shiki. The executive practically radiated anger, something Izaya had never been witness to. Unfortunately, Izaya was the target of that anger and he was torn between regret and fascination. He grit his teeth against the pain and despite Shiki’s anger, returned to the subject at hand.

“If I’d had just a little more time, I could have pulled the entirety of Fei’s shipping manifests from his computer.” Izaya began. “I’d already managed to download about half of it before one of his men caught me. We could go back in and finish it while they’re distracted with Fei’s injury-”

“No. You are going nowhere near that club, Izaya.” Shiki replied in a tone that left no room for discussion. “They will expect it. You’re going to stay out of Shinjuku and away from Fei and the Tien until things settle down.”

“If we don’t move on this now, we’re losing a huge opportunity to exploit them while they’re weak!” Izaya protested angrily. “I could take the information to my father and-”

“And what? Tell him that despite his express instructions, you went ahead and decided to mess with the Tien on your own? That due to your meddling, you ended up caught and abused? That I had to shoot Fei? Just so you could maybe pull some shipping manifests? You don't even know if the information will be useful!” Shiki snapped and Izaya flinched.

“It’s better than walking away empty-handed!” Izaya defended.

“No.” Shiki’s voice dropped and he paused in his treatment. “You’re not walking away empty-handed. You’re walking away with your life. Something you don’t seem to be putting together on your own.”

“He wouldn’t have killed me. That would have been a waste of-”

“Izaya!” Shiki interrupted sharply. “He might not have killed you right away but he certainly wouldn’t have let you go. You’re lucky he wanted to gloat to me, and that Kazuo interfered, otherwise I might not have had the chance to rescue you at all. Stop treating this like a game!”

“I’m not!” Izaya snapped and he moved to stand but Shiki’s hands came down on his shoulders, keeping him in his seat.

“You are. What you did tonight was reckless and irresponsible. Even more so because you didn’t let me know you were going to do it. You trust me enough to be your backup but not to tell me what you’re planning. I didn’t agree to this to be kept in the dark because you decided to act on a whim.”

“The original plan was to get information-”

“Which you changed when Fei noticed you.”

“And the timing was good-”

“Obviously not as good as you thought; you got caught .” The raven fell silent, finding himself at a loss for words. Everything Shiki said was true and it didn’t sit well. He’d managed to play everything so well that he’d gotten cocky and because of it all the work he and Shiki had put in trying to get close to Fei was wasted. His shoulders slumped in defeat, lips curving down in a sulk. Shiki’s grip on Izaya’s shoulders eased. “You’re lucky none of these are deep enough to need stitches.” The executive murmured as he returned his attention to the welts. Izaya tensed at the memory then let out a slow breath. “They’ll take some time to heal.”

“No worse than the tattoo.” Izaya responded with an apathetic shrug, choosing that over admitting that the welts still hurt quite a lot. “I’m a fast healer.” Shiki let out an exasperated sigh as he finished bandaging the welts. He tugged Izaya’s head back by his hair, staring down at him.

“Don’t brush it off. I know you have a high tolerance but even that has limits. You’re still human.” Izaya’s lips curved up into a bitter smile as he gazed up at Shiki.

“An unfortunate truth you seem to like reminding me of.” He replied, earning him a long stare from Shiki.

“I wouldn’t have to remind you if you didn’t enjoy being reckless.” He replied, letting go of Izaya’s hair and stepping away from the raven. “What are you going to do about your pet?”

“Pet?” Izaya asked as he stood, pulling a loose fitting v-neck over his head. He followed Shiki’s gaze to where Kazuo was sitting on the couch, quietly fidgeting with his phone. “Oh, you mean Kazuo. Well, he can’t exactly go home and he did help free me… I can hardly just toss him out.”

“Surprising amount of backbone under that quiet demeanor.” Shiki commented. “Saionji underestimated him, I think.”

“I agree but it works out in my favour. He’ll probably have to change jobs because of this. I’ll let him stay here for now, get Yuuto to keep an eye on him to make sure Saionji doesn’t come after him.”

“And who’s going to be watching your ass?” Shiki asked pointedly, giving Izaya another flat look. “He’s not going to leave you alone.”

“I think his injury is going to keep him from doing much of anything for a bit.”

“That’s not going to stop him from sending people after you. Speaking of, I have an idea of which family has allied itself with him in Shinjuku, from my discussion with Saionji before you ran off.” That bit of information caught Izaya’s attention and his expression brightened a bit.

“Oh? Something I can look into? Removing his Japanese allies would go a long way in destabilizing his presence here.” Shiki arched a brow.

“Are you completely ignoring the part where I clearly told you that you were going to lay low?” Izaya’s sullen pout returned.

“You can’t expect me to do nothing.”

“You could concentrate on your schooling. Or the other clients I know you have. Leave Fei and the Tien alone. It can be looked into later. Any investigating you do now is likely to get noticed and stir things up more.” Izaya’s expression grew thoughtful.

“True… But that might not be a bad thing. We still need to get Kuzuhara’s attention off us. I could use someone outside the family or my direct business...” Shiki considered Izaya’s suggestion with a frown.

“You can’t be in contact with that person. No connection to you whatsoever.” He pointed out, standing firm on keeping Izaya away from it. “If you can manage that, I’ll consider it. But not right away. We need to see how Fei reacts first.” Izaya gave a slow nod.

“I’d need time to figure this out anyway. If word of Saionji’s betrayal makes its way back to the Masuya-kai, that should also keep Kazuo safe, though without Saionji that likely means he won’t be considered part of the family either.” Shiki’s eyes narrowed keenly.

“You’re going to take him in. Are you sure that’s wise?”

“Isn’t that what we do? Give the outcasts a place to belong?”

“Oh? Is that what you think the yakuza do?” Shiki replied, arching a brow.

“Well yes, when not threatening people for money or fulfilling vices…” He replied with a slight smirk.

“Uh huh. Practically the Robin Hoods of the modern day.” Shiki replied dryly. “I need to go. Please try to resist acting on any more impulsive ideas.”

“Yes sir.” Izaya replied in a mocking lilt, earning a scowl from Shiki. He waved a hand dismissively. “I’ll lay low for now. Help Kazuo figure things out.” Shiki was not particularly reassured but left it at that.

~

It had been a while since he’d been back to Minato ward. It was a convenient choice, but also a nostalgic one. Shibauraminamifuto Park, situated beneath the famous Rainbow Bridge, was a mostly abandoned green space near one of the many ports that catered to the boats that offered tours of the Bay. He’d come here often enough as a teen, specifically because it was empty, especially in the late hours of night.

He leaned against the rail, turning the gun he’d taken from Saionji over in his hands, staring at it without really seeing it. Izaya may have acted recklessly but so had he. Shooting Fei had been unnecessary, the threat of the gun would have been enough but he hadn’t given any thought to it. Pulling the trigger was satisfying, the look of surprise on Fei’s face bringing a dark smile to his lips. He deeply hoped Fei wouldn’t survive even knowing it would complicate things if the syndicate executive died.

His motivations weren’t particularly difficult to parse but accepting them was a bit harder. Mischievous red eyes framed by jet black hair filled his mind’s eye and he sighed. He was, by no means, a romantic though neither did he hold any particular disdain for it like Izaya yet he felt like a walking cliche at the moment. He should have been concerned with covering up his own involvement but instead, he was focusing on how best to keep Izaya from further repercussions. “Tch.” He ran his hand through his hair, letting the gun drop into the water below and turning his back on it. Saw it coming, but still couldn’t dodge the bullet. Worse than nicotine. He headed back out to the parking lot, refocusing his thoughts on how to sort the mess they’d made. He hadn’t come this far to throw it away and if it made things more difficult, he honestly couldn’t say he regretted his actions.

~

“He’s in stable condition but I don’t feel comfortable releasing him at this time.” The doctor argued with Fei’s assistant as the man helped Fei into a wheelchair.

“Fei-san would prefer to recover in the comfort of his own home.” The assistant replied. “I’m sure you understand. He is willing to pay quite well to have you visit his private residence to check on the injury.”

“I see… Yes, of course, arrangements can be made.” The doctor replied as the assistant handed him a rather large check.

“He would also appreciate it if you could make any record of this visit disappear as well.” The assistant continued. “He is very particular about privacy.” The doctor bowed to Fei and his assistant.

“Of course. I will see it done.”

~

The sound of keys clacking filled the apartment. Izaya sat at his desk, glasses perched on his nose as he sifted through information, looking for the right methods to use to begin fixing the mess he’d made of things. He’d been working at it all week but had not yet found a satisfying solution and he was starting to grow frustrated. The Tien had made no obvious moves, appearing to be laying low just as Shiki had asked - no, ordered him to do. He’d ensured Saionji would be too busy explaining to the Masuya-kai why he was taking money from Fei to go after Kazuo but that had taken barely any effort at all. Laying low didn’t suit him; he needed to do something but he had nothing to go off and no way to move forward without Shiki’s information. Which the executive had not been willing to share. He hadn’t seen Shiki since that night and his attempts to text the other for updates had been futile.

Izaya pushed his chair back and turned in it, staring out the window sulkily. Did Shiki honestly expect him to sit around waiting for something to happen? What was he doing while Izaya was stuck in his apartment? His fingers tapped a rhythm against his thigh as he considered the possibilities. It was unlikely that Shiki had just gone back to his regular work. They both had too much to risk not to do something and the executive hadn’t been sure about the clan who was protecting the Tien so it was likely he was attempting to confirm his suspicions. Izaya’s nose wrinkled in irritation at the thought. If Shiki had just shared his suspicions, Izaya could have had information on them in no time. Well if Shiki wasn’t going to keep him in the loop, he would simply have to find out what the executive was doing on his own.

“Kazuo, I’m going out for a bit. Need some fresh air. Staring at this screen is giving me a headache.” His young house guest looked up from a movie he’d been watching and nodded before returning his attention to the TV. He cast an amused glance at Kazuo as he slipped on his jacket and shoes, slipping out the door.

~

Izaya stood in the shadows of the alley across the street from Shiki’s gallery, red eyes focused on the other informant as she entered. He knew every broker who worked in Ikebukuro, probably every broker who worked in Tokyo. They were competition after all and it was a small circle. Shiki had chosen a good one and it made him wonder if she was the one he’d used before they started working together. It annoyed the shit out of him that Shiki was using her now .

He was leaning against the building when she came out, hands in the pockets of his coat as his gaze settled on her. She glanced at him then did a double take.

“Orihara-san.” She greeted him with a pleasant smile but there was a nervousness in her eyes that pleased him.

“Higuchi-chan, how nice to see you. Let’s walk and talk, shall we?” He pushed away from the wall and linked his arm in hers, smirking at her. “I’m absolutely dying of curiosity. What could possibly have brought you to the Awakusu’s door? I thought you kept away from doing business with the yakuza?”

She glanced back at the gallery as Izaya began to lead her away from the building. “Exceptions can be made sometimes…” She replied, smile firmly in place. “Shiki-san of the Awakusu is one such exception.”

“I see. And what juicy gossip were you selling Shiki of the Awakusu-kai?” He asked bluntly, catching her off guard a bit.

“Orihara-san it’s hardly good business to be spilling the secrets of paying clients, wouldn’t you agree?”

"In most cases, absolutely.” He replied. In a swift movement, he spun her as he turned sharply into the alley beside the gallery, pressing her against the wall. “In this case, I’d have to say that it would be in your best interests to answer my questions, wouldn't you agree?”

She let out a soft gasp, pressing her hands against his chest as he leaned over her. “Orihara-san, this is hardly professional. You must understand the position you are putting me in.”

“Of course I do. But you owe me, Higuchi. So I’m calling it in. Tell me what I want to know.”

She bit her lip, frustration flashing across her expression. “If he finds out I'm as good as dead. No one will trust me.”

“He won’t find out. If you don’t tell me you’re facing the same problem.” This drew a sigh from the woman. She lowered her head slightly, gazing up at Izaya from beneath her lashes, lips curving up into a smile.

“Why wouldn’t you just ask him yourself? Your families are allied aren’t they?” She pointed out, raising a brow. “Unless the Awakusu-Orihara alliance is failing?”

“It isn’t but nice try, Higuchi. We both know how you get your information and those tactics won’t work on me.”

“Maybe not but it was worth a try.” She replied with a soft laugh. “I’ll get something on you someday, Orihara-san.” She fished a flash drive out of her purse and handed it over. “He asked me to look into the Sumiyoshi-kai in Shinjuku. This is what I got.” Izaya took the flash drive and pocketed it, giving her a smile.

“Thank you, Higuchi. Working with you has been a pleasure.” He said with a smirk, turning away from her.

“We're even now, Orihara-san.” She retorted. “Next time you want something from me, I expect payment.” Izaya was already walking away as she talked, raising a hand in a half wave. “You're an ass!” She added but he didn't turn and she couldn't help but to smile. She headed the opposite way, out of the alley, unaware of the shadow that detached itself from the wall.

“Interesting… What are those two up to?” The red-haired executive mused to himself.

~

Soft steps alerted him to the presence of someone creeping up behind him but Shiki didn't move from his spot at the edge of the roof, looking down on a Tien-owned warehouse near the border between Shinjuku and Chiyoda. It was conveniently situated near a channel that led to the Sumida River, a quick method to transport things from the port if you were discreet. The distinct presence of a black sedan outside the warehouse indicated that the information he'd gotten was accurate, now all he needed to do was wait.

As the footsteps grew closer he turned to grab his stalker but managed only the briefest touch of fabric before the other darted back out of reach.

“Ooo, you're good, Shiki.” That voice he could place anywhere. Distinct, unforgettable, smug.

“Orihara.” Shiki replied in a tone that was flat disapproval, eyes settling on the raven as a frown settled on his features. “Care to explain what you’re doing here when I explicitly told you to lay low ?”

“Wouldn’t that be a waste of time? You already know why I’m here. I’m more curious about why you are here. Weren’t you supposed to lay low as well, Mr ‘I shot Fei to rescue my lover’?” Izaya approached Shiki with a smirk, looking past him to the warehouse across the street. “I mean, if he’s going to target anyone, I would think it would be you. Yet here you are, playing informant in my place.” He gave Shiki a disappointed look, pouting. “And using another informant to get your information!”

“The fact that you’re here merely emphasizes the exact reason I’m doing this without you.” Shiki replied sternly, though Izaya’s offense at Shiki’s decision to keep him out of the loop did cause his lips to curve up at the edges. “Tell me, Izaya, do I need to tie you up to ensure that you stay put? Since you seem incapable of obeying.”

“Clearly not incapable.” Izaya replied with a slight roll of his eyes as he examined the camcorder Shiki had set up and trained on the black sedan parked below. “I stayed put for the better part of the week. Helped Kazuo. Went to school. It was exceptionally boring, especially since someone refused to tell me what he was up to while I was trapped in such a mundane, boring daily routine. I’m not really the kind of person who likes sitting by the phone, waiting…” He turned his gaze back to Shiki, giving the other a playful smile but the executive just shook his head.

“If you’d shown a bit more patience I might have brought this to your attention.” He replied, turning away from the informant at the sound of a vehicle approaching. “Since I can’t deal with you right now, get down before you give us away.” Izaya’s gaze had also shifted to the second black sedan and he crouched without argument.

“Deal with me? How terrifying, Shiki-san.” He replied with amusement though the focus in his gaze was solely on the deal that was about to be brokered below them. Shiki crouched beside Izaya, turning the camcorder on. “A drug deal between the Sumiyoshi-kai and the Tien Tao Meng. I bet Kuzuhara would love to get his hands on this footage.”

“That is the point of this.” Shiki replied with a snort.

“You know I could have gotten more information. Why would you use Higuchi? She's really only good for a very specific kind of information.”

“You're fixating. I didn't ask for more information and she's a perfectly capable informant. Given that I'm operating outside the bounds of normal Awakusu business, I chose to use someone not on the payroll.”

“See? You could have saved money too if you'd let me do it.”

“Your involvement tends to come with completely different costs.” Shiki replied dryly. “Drugs. I suspected as much.” He commented on the deal going on below. “If you can find a way to get this circulating without it being traced back to you, Kuzuhara will have to act on it. Even if it doesn't stick, it should be enough of a deterrent to keep Fei busy for a while.”

“Yes, about that. I have an idea of how to get the video out there. Wait, look at the woman getting out of the car!” Izaya's eyes lit up with excitement. “This is even better than I expected. She must be more important in the hierarchy than I thought.” Shiki's gaze shifted to the woman, narrowing his eyes at her familiarity.

“She was at the auction. The politician's secretary who works for Fei.” Shiki recognized the young woman immediately. “Highly compromising position to put herself in.”

“Hmmm. I may have to edit the footage. She's technically a client.” Shiki raised a brow at this. “Hired me for a research project of sorts. Personal job. She can't pay me if her assets get frozen by the police over this…”

“You didn't think it might be a conflict of interest to be working for one of Fei’s agents?”

“What? Of course not. How is it a conflict of interest? Her boss may be my enemy but that doesn't mean I can't charge her ridiculous amounts of money to do some research.” Izaya replied with a grin. “Besides, this gives me insight into her. Maybe she can be bought. Or blackmailed.”

“Step carefully. If she's close to Fei she may be using this job as a way to get insight on you .”

“Yes, yes, I thought of that when I took the job. You worry too much.”

“Do we need to revisit last weekend?” Shiki pointed out bluntly. “You don't worry enough.” Izaya wrinkled his nose in distaste at Shiki's words.

“Looks like they're done.” He observed as the men below began to disperse.

“Good. Now you can go home.” Shiki replied. “And stay out of trouble.”

“Planning to escort me, make sure I get home safe?” Izaya replied with a smirk, shifting his gaze to Shiki. “I don't know if staying in that big apartment all alone is safe. You may have to come in and guard me.” Shiki sighed.

“You are incorrigible.” He replied as he tossed Izaya the camcorder, folding up the tripod it had been mounted on. “I'm sure you'll be too busy maximizing your profit from that footage to be bothered by the risk of getting attacked in your very secure penthouse.” Izaya caught the camcorder and slipped it into one of his many pockets, shrugging.

“I am a charming rogue and you know you want to.” He rose to his feet. “Besides aren't you the least bit curious how I'm going to distribute the footage?”

“I might be if I thought that's what you were actually intending to do.” The executive headed toward the ladder that had provided roof access. Izaya followed, frowning at Shiki's rejection. He watched the other make his way down to the ground, a small slip in his usually flawless mask showing in the briefest flash of disappointment. He banished the momentary flash of self-doubt, following Shiki down to the ground. “I am not in the habit of rewarding brats who can’t follow orders, Izaya.” Shiki spoke as he hit the ground.

“Oh? Would you rather punish me, Haruya?” He purred but received only silence in response as they walked toward Shiki’s car. As they rounded the corner of the warehouse and the car came into view, so too did a familiar figure, leaning against it.

“Not exactly the most romantic place for a date.” Akabayashi spoke, smirking at them. Izaya’s eyes widened in amused surprise while Shiki’s narrowed in pure irritation. “Whatever have you two been up to?”

Chapter Text

It was a rare thing to catch Shiki off guard and the fact that Akabayashi had managed to do just that gave the redhead significant insight into the level of distraction Orihara had become to his fellow executive. The look Shiki had settled on him once they’d returned to Izaya’s apartment to talk was pure ice and if Akabayashi hadn’t been used to Shiki by now, he might have been more concerned but for once he had the upper hand on the notoriously untouchable executive. Izaya brought coffee before settling into a chair, looking between the two executives.

“I figured you two were fucking.” He began, eyeing them with amusement. “I mean, that became pretty obvious with how much time you two were spending together but I’m curious. When did you actually give in to Orihara’s persistent advances?”

“That’s not what we’re here to discuss.” Shiki replied flatly as he took the cup of coffee.

“Did you fuck him on the couch in your office?” Izaya smirked at the question, gaze shifting to Shiki.

“I told you the couch had potential.” The raven quipped, earning an equally frosty glare from Shiki. Akabayashi turned his gaze to Izaya, smirking at the raven’s response.

“So that’s a no?” The redhead replied, eyes narrowed in amusement. “I’m disappointed in you two.”

“If that’s all you wanted to pry about, go be disappointed elsewhere.” Shiki replied, irritated.

“But the office drama is too sweet to resist.” Akabayashi replied. “Always figured if there was going to be gossip about Shiki, it would be the murder kind not the relationship kind.”

“It may still be the murder kind.” Shiki responded, earning a snicker from Izaya and a grin from Akabayashi.

“Fine, fine. I’ll interrogate Orihara later. He’ll probably be easier to get details out of. “ Izaya snorted, eyes narrowing dangerously.

“You’ll be disappointed.” The raven replied. “I don’t kiss and tell.”

“Well then. I guess we can get to the real questions. So what were you two doing in Shinjuku, spying on other yakuza?”

“Technically we were spying on the syndicate.” Izaya defended but Shiki shook his head.

“It’s a complicated situation. We were gaining blackmail on both the Tien Tao Meng and the Sumiyoshi-kai in order to keep the Tien from targeting Orihara.”

“I am aware that the Tien and the Oriharas are in competition but why would they be targeting Izaya specifically?” Akabayashi asked, growing thoughtful.

“Because I’m the heir.” Izaya shrugged. “The executive that heads their Japanese branch is interested in me.” Akabayashi’s eyes narrowed in suspicion at the vague explanation.

“And how did you catch his attention?” Shiki and Izaya exchanged a look and the raven sighed.

“Orihara and I were looking into them, attempting to find ways to reduce their foothold in Tokyo.”

“Looking into them? In a way that got their executive’s attention? That sounds too careless for you, Shiki. You too, Orihara. I thought you prided yourself on your information gathering skills.” Izaya’s lips pressed into a thin line at that though he resisted rising to the bait in Akabayashi’s words. “I think you two need to start at the beginning and tell me everything.” Shiki sighed and set his coffee down.

“Orihara decided to infiltrate a club in Shinjuku which he identified as Fei’s central point for the prefecture. He asked me to back him up. It was meant to be one-time visit however Orihara managed to catch Fei’s interest while in disguise.” Akabayashi snorted at this.

“Told you. Too pretty for your own good.” Izaya rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.

“It was working just fine until that idiot from the Masuya-kai showed up.” Izaya huffed and Akabayashi arched a brow.

“Masuya-kai? I thought you were looking into the Sumiyoshi?”

“An unfortunate accident. He was there to take advantage of the services and anonymity of the club. It wasn’t him but his partner who identified Izaya. The last time we visited the club, Fei caught Izaya and I had to intervene to get him out.” Shiki explained.

“I get the feeling you’re leaving out a lot.” He replied, shifting his gaze from Shiki to Izaya and back. “Like what kind of disguise you were using that attracted Fei's attention and how this other yakuza recognized you. And it still doesn’t tell me why Fei is interested in Orihara specifically and not the family as a whole.”

“The disguise doesn't matter and he recognized me based on media photos from the gala.” Izaya replied. “How we got here isn't as important as what we need to do about it.”

While the statement was true, it was obvious to Akabayashi that Izaya was trying to avoid giving him details which just made him more curious. Shiki looked at him and shrugged.

“You may as well tell him, Izaya. He's not going to let it go until he's uncovered all the sordid details.”

“Sordid details is it? Even more curious.” Akabayashi grinned at Izaya who was frowning. “Tell all, heir.” The raven let out a sigh.

“Have you been to Dominion, Akabaka?” He asked with a touch of arrogance in his tone. “I'm assuming not, otherwise someone as smart as you would have been able to piece it together quickly.” Akabayashi narrowed his eyes at the backhanded compliment, pulling out his phone to do a quick search on the club. He gave both Shiki and Izaya considering looks.

“You crossdressed, didn't you?” He surmised and Izaya tilted his head in acknowledgement. Akabayashi smirked, eyes narrowing in amusement. “You crossdressed and that too pretty face caught his attention. That's precious. So what, you were trying to seduce him? I doubt someone in his position would fall for such an obvious ploy.”

“No, Izaya was bait. His interest in Izaya gave me an opportunity to gain his trust. It was working quite well until Kazuo recognized him despite the disguise.” Shiki filled in. “Fei's interest in Izaya is more personal than professional at this point though I’m sure he’s not above exploiting any advantage he can over the Orihara-kai.”

“So what happened to get Izaya caught? You’re too cautious, I can’t imagine you’d do anything reckless.” Akabayashi spoke to Shiki then slid his gaze to Izaya. “I would have to assume you weren’t in public when he caught you, that would be too obvious.”

“Kazuo’s boyfriend, Otsuka Saionji. He is - rather, he was a member of the Masuya-kai. Fei bought him with promises of wealth. Kazuo didn’t know and told him who I was. He relayed it to Fei. When Kazuo figured me out I was already concerned that our little ruse had a lifespan so I decided to do some investigating while Fei was distracted. I probably could have talked my way out of it when a couple of Fei’s guards found me if Otsuka hadn’t already informed Fei of who I was.”

“Doesn’t sound like a very smart plan.” Akabayashi criticized the heir and Izaya flushed a bit, scowling.

“It was a risk, I’ll admit.” Izaya admitted reluctantly. Shiki shrugged and pulled out his smokes.

“Not one I would have chosen to take but the damage is done. However, if we are going to keep this from escalating, we need to give Fei something else to focus on and we also need the police to back off after the fire and vandalism. Thus the blackmail material.”

“Smart plan but you haven’t told me how you rescued the princess.” Akabayashi replied, pointedly looking at Shiki. “What did you do to intervene?” Shiki sighed as he lit his smoke, ignoring the irritated look Izaya was shooting him for smoking in the apartment.

“I shot him.”

“You. Shot. Him.” Akabayashi stared at Shiki. “You shot the executive of the Tien Tao Meng.”

“He’ll live. It was a body shot.”

He’ll live? ” Akabayashi snorted. “I don’t know if that’s better or worse. How has this not hit the news yet?”

“Fei wouldn’t want the circumstances to get out.” Shiki replied with a shrug. “Which works in our favour for now. However it won’t protect the Orihara-kai or Izaya himself from retaliation.”

“Or you.” Akabayashi pointed out bluntly. “I can’t believe you shot him.” Shiki and Izaya exchanged a glance but neither was willing to elaborate on why Shiki shot Fei. Akabayashi let it go, having a bit of an idea. “So how are you going to get this blackmail footage to the police without it obviously coming from you?” Izaya’s eyes lit up and he grinned.

“Oh, I have a plan for that. There’s this little… colour gang I happen to have contact with. They have a unique setup, their members are anonymous and they use the net to communicate primarily. I can pass the video footage to one of them and it will spread very quickly. Get one of them to anonymously send it in Kuzuhara’s direction once it’s already circulating and he’ll have to look into it. Knowing him, once he starts digging, the Sumiyoshi will be desperate to cover up any hint of the drug smuggling they’ve been doing. They’ll cut ties with Fei fast, leaving him to fend for himself.”

“Solid plan but are you sure these online gang kids are going to do what you want?” Izaya gave Akabayashi an amused look.

“Of course. I know you old folks don’t really understand how the net works so you’ll have to trust me on this but anything that looks like drama will travel fast. All I have to do is keep it moving in the direction I want.” Shiki gave Izaya an amused look while Akabayashi just snorted.

“You’re not talking to Aozaki here, kid.” He replied with a chuckle. “I’m not a complete luddite. So what’s this internet gang called?” Izaya gave him a wink and a shrug.

“That’s my little secret.” He replied. “But if you’re net savvy, I’m sure you can find them on your own.”

“So why haven’t either of you gone to your respective bosses on this?” Akabayashi asked the question Shiki had been waiting for and the white-suited executive gave him a slight smile.

“I would think that would be self-explanatory, Akabayashi.”

“I wouldn’t want to make the wrong assumption and spill secrets better kept, Shiki.” Akabayashi replied, eyes narrowing slightly.

“And the price of your silence?”

“I suppose that depends on how desperate you are to keep this quiet.” He noted the way Izaya tensed for a brief moment, just the slightest tell, barely noticeable if he hadn’t been watching for it. “I’ve done my own research on the Tien Tao Meng. They bring in a lot of drugs. I’d be just as happy to see them pushed out of Tokyo however Shirou has a strong non-confrontation policy on his rivals. An ambitious heir trying to prove his worth going after the family’s biggest rival is certainly something I can understand.” Izaya’s brow furrowed slightly as he attempted to discern the direction Akabayashi was going. Shiki gave Akabayashi a bored look at his monologuing.

“You want to work with us.” Izaya ventured, tapping his cheek with a finger. “You want to get rid of the Tien and their drug supply. If we don’t let you work with us, you’re going to rat us out.”

“Clever kid.” Akabayashi teased with a smirk. Shiki just sighed. “Of course that other secret you’re hiding… Well I really have no reason to keep that one.” He continued, smirk widening. “It isn’t every day an office romance pops up in the yakuza…”

“How is Sayaka, Akabaka?” Izaya replied pointedly, a sharp smile curving his lips and causing Akabayashi to pause. “I’m sure that little story will make great office gossip.” Shiki gave Izaya a curious look and made a note to ask the raven about it later. Akabayashi tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement of Izaya’s play.

“I am very curious how you know about that, Orihara.”

“I am an informant. It’s my job to know things.”

“Fine, fine, spoil my fun.” The redhead replied with a sigh and a good-natured grin.

“Oh I’m sure you’ll find something else to gossip about.” Shiki replied with a snort.

~

“Did you see that video?”

“Kind of boring. No gunshots or fights at all.”

“Yeah but that was the Sumiyoshi-kai, the biggest clan in Shinjuku!”

“Buying drugs from the Syndicate. Huge scandal.”

“We're lucky the yakuza in Ikebukuro are anti-drug.”

“Unless you're looking for drugs.”

“Go to Shinjuku lol.”

“No thanks, police will be all over the place.”

“Damn, the only place you can find Heaven's Slave is in Shinjuku.”

“I'm sure they'll move.”

“Wonder if the cops will finally arrest the heads of the Sumiyoshi.”

“One video isn't enough to build a case on. Could be fake.”

“I dunno. The way the video cuts off? Bet the cameraman got spotted and had to run.”

“Good point.”

~

“You're sure about this?” Izaya arched a brow at the older police detective sitting across from him. Daisuke Takahashi had been a contact of his since he'd started brokering information in high school.

“Of course. You know how I feel about drugs.”

“No, I know how your allies feel about drugs. Your attitude toward them is more lackadaisical. The timing is too convenient.” Daisuke scrutinized the heir before him.

“Do you want the original or not?” Izaya replied without faltering. “I can always sell it. Or maybe send it straight to Kuzuhara. I'm sure he'd be interested in it.

“It's already all over the web. Which I assume is your doing?”

“I may have circulated it.” Izaya replied with a smirk.

“You're giving them a heads up. Making our job harder.”

“Oh, that's not the full video. There's more. Why would I bother offering it to you if it was available on the net?”

“And I assume the more is what will really be valuable?” Izaya inclined his head and pulled out a flash drive.

“Get Kuzuhara off my family's back.”

“It's not that easy.”

“I have faith in you. This will help.” He slid the drive across the table then stood. “Trust me, Takahashi. Have I ever sold you false information?” Daisuke picked up the drive and pocketed it.

“No, you haven't.” He admitted reluctantly. “But it's obvious you're doing this to protect your family and that's suspicious.”

“You and I both know that what my family does is nothing compared to other clans. And our services are useful, even to straight laced cops like you.” He turned to leave, giving a wave of his hand in farewell. Daisuke watched him go with a frown, knowing that he was being used but unable to deny the benefits he gained from their relationship.

~

Just a little heads up, Miss Midori. Since you're a client and all. Expect the police to come visiting soon. You were a bit… Indiscreet.

Selling me out Orihara?

Not at all. I'm not doing any selling. I can hardly collect from you if you're in prison now can I? I have faith that you're clever enough to redirect.

You better hope so. If they freeze my assets you won't be seeing a yen.

Take it up with your flowery employer. Though I'm curious how Nakagawa is going to feel when he finds out. Two timing, so naughty.

Wait and see.

I look forward to the show.

~

He didn't look like much, just another middle management type, too much ego and not enough intelligence. No wonder he'd sold out to Fei. Akabayashi approached Saionji as the man sat at the bar, looking well into his cups. The red devil slid onto the stool beside him, ordering a scotch from the bartender before turning his gaze on the traitor.

“Rough day?” He asked casually, giving the man a sympathetic look that didn't reach his eyes. Saionji turned to look at Akabayashi, frowning.

“Something like that.” The man replied.

“Tell me about it. Nine to five, feels more like five to nine, yeah?” Saionji grunted.

“That's not a problem if you don't have a job.” He complained to Akabayashi without hesitation, showing just how drunk he was.

“Lost your job? That's too bad. I'm sure you'll find something. You look like a smart guy.” Akabayashi lied. Saionji didn't look smart at all, especially spilling his guts to a stranger in a bar.

“That's the problem.” Saionji took a long sip of his drink. “Had a new job lined up but they didn't follow through. And it's all that kid's fault.”

“What, some young guy stole your job?” Akabayashi prodded.

“Got me fired. Stole my property. He's a fucking nobody! How the hell did he have the power to turn my bosses against me?” It took a minute for Akabayashi to connect ‘property’ with Kazuo and he couldn't help but snort in amusement. Saionji didn't notice, too distracted by his own misery. “S'ok. I have a plan. Gonna get back at him. Bet the media would love to hear about how the pretty boy heir is actually gay.”

“Not that I think the media would take a piece of shit like you seriously but I can't allow that.” Akabayashi interrupted Saionji's rant. “I got a question for you, Otsuka. Why the hell would you decide to drink your sorrows away in Ikebukuro?” Saionji finally took a good look at Akabayashi, expression going from drunk confusion to recognition and fear.

“A-a-Akabayashi!” He stuttered. “I- I wasn't serious… Just venting, y'know?” The outcast yakuza backpedaled.

“Let's take a walk, Otsuka.” Akabayashi replied with a sadistic grin. “Talk about just what you were thinking of doing to the heir.” He draped an arm around the smaller man's shoulder in a friendly manner, guiding him off the stool and toward the back door.

“No… I… I wasn't going to do anything, I swear!” Saionji protested again, swaying a bit as Akabayashi escorted him outside.

“That so? So you didn't have any proof of your accusations?” Akabayashi continued, lifting his cane to rest it on his shoulder, deceptively casual in his movements.

“Course not. Fei'd never allow pictures in the club.” Saionji grumbled angrily. “Told Kaz to try to get pictures but that brat betrayed me too. If you're looking for blackmail, he's got it.”

“Good to know. Interesting that you'd be mad at that kid for betraying you when you're the one who betrayed your family.” Akabayashi sneered at Saionji.

“Don't know why you'd have a problem with it.” Saionji accused. “Everyone knows you left your first family. You're lucky those pushovers in the Awakusu were willing to take you in-” Before Saionji had a chance to process what was happening, Akabayashi's cane was moving to paint a bruise across his cheek. He yelped in pain as the red devil moved closer.

“I'm not like you, Otsuka. I didn't betray my family for money. And the Awakusu? We aren't pushovers. Unlike your Masuya-kai, we don't tolerate failures like you. You're lucky Shiki didn't shoot you too.” He grinned sadistically at Saionji, jabbing him hard in the stomach and when the other doubled over, he drove his knee up into his face. His grin widened at the sickening crunch and shout of pain from the traitor. Saionji sunk to his knees, one hand covering his now-bleeding and obviously broken nose. “I'm glad he didn't shoot you. Gives me the opportunity to make you regret your actions.” He grabbed Saionji by the hair and yanked his head back as he ground his heel into the other's crotch, eliciting more squeals of pain. “You're lucky Saionji. The Masuya-kai don't want murder on their hands in the wake of Fei's scandal. I'm sure you've heard by now. Not looking good for your new employer after all.” He brought his knee up in another savage kick to the jaw, sending Saionji sprawling. “So many bad choices. A failure like you doesn't deserve to be called yakuza.” He followed up with a kick to the stomach as Saionji curled up in pain. “But hey, you're getting away with your life. Pretty good deal for a piece of shit like you, if you ask me.” He placed a foot on Saionji's head, grinding it against the pavement. “If you're smart, you'll stay out of Ikebukuro and far away from Orihara and the Awakusu. I'd recommend considering a new city even. I'm a simple guy. If I catch you back here, I'll just end your sniveling life. If Orihara even suspects you of trying to mess with him or Kazuo, he'll make your life a living hell. He's vicious like that. He'll make you wish you were dead.” He stepped away from the whimpering traitor, prodding him with the cane one last time.” Got all that, Otsuka?”

“Y-yeah…” Saionji groaned. “I hear you.”

“Good. Get the fuck out of here.” Akabayashi turned, returning to the bar, leaving the traitor in the alley. Saionji slowly picked himself up and fled.

~

“Shirou come here.” Kyouko called to her husband from the living room where she was watching the news.

“What is it, love?” He asked as he entered the room. Kyouko pointed to the TV. His focus turned and his brows furrowed into a frown as he watched.

“Diet member Nakagawa Taro was arrested earlier today in a scandal that has rocked the political landscape. Police claim to have evidence showing that Nakagawa was being financed by foreign syndicate Tien Tao Meng, and in turn was allowing that syndicate to smuggle drugs and other contraband into Japan. It is believed that one of Nakagawa’s close aides may have turned on him. We attempted to gain some comments from the police on this but they have refused to speak to the press, citing that it is an ongoing investigation. The investigation began with the release of a mysterious video showing an exchange of what appears to be drugs between agents of the Tien and the Sumiyoshi-kai of Shinjuku. This isn’t the first time the Sumiyoshi-kai have drawn the attention of the police over drug-related crimes. Detective Kuzuhara Yumeji of the yakuza task force appears to have been assigned to the case.”

As the reporter moved on to other news Shirou turned to look at Kyouko. “That is far too convenient to be coincidence.” Kyouko inclined her head slightly.

“I would say so. Very neatly done though.”

“Yes but if he was involved in this…”

“Shirou, give him a little credit. We needed Kuzuhara to lay off and the Tien have been increasingly problematic for us. There is nothing in this that ties back to us.”

“Yes but I told him not to get involved.”

“Put yourself in his shoes. If you had the ability to help your father, would you have just passed it up because your father told you not to get involved?”

“Of course I would have.” Shirou replied causing Kyouko to arch a brow.

“Oh I don’t know about that, dear. I seem to remember more than a few occasions where you were reckless and did things you knew your father wouldn’t approve of to try to prove yourself to him and the family.” Shirou opened his mouth to protest but the look Kyouko was giving him caused him to close it, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

“Still… Izaya’s too reckless, Kyo. I can’t protect him if he’s running off starting fires on his own.”

“He’s not as reckless as you think. He’s as smart as you, maybe even smarter.”

“With all your cleverness and charm, yes I know. Why do you think I’m worried?” Shirou replied with a rueful grin.

“He’s less likely to run off on his own if you let him in on the business more.” Kyouko pointed out. “Give him something to focus on.”

“Isn’t that why you harassed me into sending him to work with the Awakusu?” Shirou asked with an arched brow.

“No, that was to get more information on our allies and you know that. The only one who has kept him even slightly busy is Shiki.”

“Fine, I’ll see if I can’t find something for him to work on.”

“Why don’t you follow up with him on the social media idea? His gala was a great success and now would be a good time to play up our more benevolent yakuza image.”

“You’re right… I’ll talk to him.”

“Shirou… Don’t mention our suspicions about his involvement in that scandal. I know you two and if you confront him, you’ll both end up fighting about it like stubborn idiots.” Shirou thought about it then nodded in agreement.

“Fair enough. I won’t bring it up but only if you talk to him about it.” Kyouko gave her husband a smile.

“Of course, dear. I’d already planned to.”

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry to inconvenience you like this, Orihara-san.”

Izaya raised his head from the textbook he’d been skimming, glancing at his accidental roommate with amusement. Kazuo was currently very diligently cleaning his kitchen.

“Just call me Izaya.” He reminded the younger man as he took off his glasses and put them and the textbook on his desk. “And stop apologizing. If it hadn’t been for you, I might still be stuck in Fei’s hands. The least I can do is let you stay here.”

“Yes but that was only meant to be until I could find a place to stay and a new job…” Kazuo protested. “But I do have good news. I got a job with one of the clubs I applied at last week so once I get my first paycheck from them I should be able to find a place of my own.”

“A club? Are you sure you want to go back to that?” Izaya asked with a frown.

“Just for now. College doesn’t start until April and I hardly want to rely on you until then.” Kazuo pointed out with a shy smile.

“So you're not considering my offer?”

“Offer?” Kazuo paused his cleaning to look at Izaya in confusion. “Do you mean the social media project?”

“Yes.” Izaya replied, giving Kazuo an amused smirk. “Wouldn’t you rather do that than work at some club catering to creepy old men?”

“Well, I just thought it was a project.” Kazuo replied. “A one time job and I can do both.”

“I was looking at the project as more long term. I would need a social media manager for that as I have other commitments and can’t dedicate all my time to it. You would be very capable in that role, I’m sure.” Kazuo frowned and shook his head.

“I don’t have the qualifications. I would need a communications degree to hold a position like that.” Izaya shrugged.

“If you’re working toward that degree I don’t see a reason why I can’t hire you. Without a degree, you understand more about social media than many so-called social media professionals.” Kazuo shook his head again.

“I know you’re the heir and all but would your family really accept me in such an important position?” He pointed out but Izaya just smirked.

“It’s my project. I can hire whomever I see fit and as long as I produce results, my father won’t object.”

“Still…” Kazuo continued, worried that he would be even more in debt to Izaya if he took the position. It felt too much like charity in light of his current situation. Izaya gave a slight sigh at Kazuo’s resistance.

“Fine, how about this: you can work as my secretary, a job that doesn’t require any sort of degree and can’t possibly be questioned by anyone in the Kai. As my secretary, you will also be responsible for helping me manage this social media project.” Kazuo looked taken aback by Izaya’s alternative solution then gave a sigh.

“I don’t really know much about being a secretary either.” He attempted once more to politely refuse but Izaya just snorted in amusement.

“Handle my schedule. File things. Bring me coffee. It’s not exactly a complicated job and you have shown yourself to be a very organized person.” He pointed out in reference to the way Kazuo had taken to cleaning and organizing his apartment.

“You’re not going to let me bow out politely, are you?” Kazuo asked quietly.

“Of course not. There’s no downside to this for you. You were determined to join the Masuya-kai, yes? I’m in a much better position to help you than Otsuka was and frankly, the Orihara-kai is a far better choice than the Masuya.”

“I already owe you for your help. I cannot accept this job.” Kazuo replied. “The yakuza are a merit-based organization. I would never be taken seriously.” Izaya arched a brow at this observation then inclined his head slightly.

"It is hardly uncommon for younger people without college degrees to work in administrative positions and if I determine your merit to fit the role I require filling, who are others to say whether or not you deserve it? They don’t need to know that I only interviewed one candidate - so to speak - for the position.” He raised a hand to forestall a protest that Kazuo was obviously about to let out from the troubled look on his face. “Show your merit by doing the job I ask of you. Let me deal with my family, should it even become an issue. Which I find highly unlikely.” Kazuo looked at Izaya with conflicted emotions warring openly in his expression.

“You’re very determined.” He said after a long moment of anguished uncertainty. “If the job allows for my school schedule, then I’ll accept.” Izaya grinned in delight.

“Of course.” The raven agreed.

“The correct word would be stubborn.” Yuuto’s voice joined the conversation from the entranceway. “Welcome to the family, Kazuo. Sorry to steal your new boss away but his royal presence is needed elsewhere.” Izaya grinned and pushed himself up out of his chair.

“Oh yes, family dinner, how exciting.” He replied with a mock groan. Kazuo turned to glance at the older yakuza with curiosity. “Kazuo this is Yuuto. He was my family-appointed babysitter in high school. I haven’t been able to get rid of him since.”

“Highest paid chauffeur in Tokyo.” Yuuto joked with a grin. “When you’re legal we should go out for drinks. Share war stories about working for the terror of the Orihara-kai.” Izaya gave Yuuto a very convincing offended look.

Terror? Surely you’ve mistaken me for my sisters. I am a dutiful heir.” He replied as he joined Yuuto in the entry, sliding on his shoes.

“In your own twisted way.” Yuuto clarified with a grin. “And maybe your sisters wouldn’t be such terrors if you didn’t keep teaching them terrifying things.” Kazuo quietly watched the back-and-forth, unsure of what to say but clearly amused by their camaraderie.

“Oh, this would be a good chance to introduce you to my parents.” Izaya returned his attention to Kazuo. The younger man’s eyes widened and he shook his head in protest.

“Oh no, I wouldn’t want to impose on a family dinner.” He protested, surprised by the suggestion.

“No imposition. Maybe if I bring a guest, my mother won’t cook…” Izaya replied with a sly grin. “Really, you’re just doing us all a favour.” Yuuto snorted and shook his head though he was grinning.

“Sacrificing your new employee? How cruel, Izaya. Don’t worry, Kazuo-kun, Kyouko’s cooking isn’t as deadly as Izaya implies.”

“I… suppose?” Kazuo relented in confusion at what seemed like a family joke he was missing.

“Well hurry up then. Don’t want to be late.” Izaya said with a grin and Kazuo just sighed. He was coming to the conclusion that being around Izaya was a bit like getting caught in a whirlwind; it was equal parts concerning and exciting.

~

“Quite the scandal, eh?” Mikiya was saying, distracting Shiki from the haiku he was currently composing in his notebook where he might have been taking notes had the meeting not, once again, diverted from its original purpose into meaningless bickering. He glanced up at Mikiya and, without appearing surprised at all by the topic change, replied.

“Yes, the Sumiyoshi-kai appear to have grown quite careless. It works in our favour quite well. I would advise subtle expansion into Shinjuku while the Sumiyoshi are taking a hit from the investigations.”

“I agree. It’s likely the Sumiyoshi are going to have to sacrifice a few execs to this scandal which will leave them disorganized. Good timing to capture a corner.” Akabayashi seconded Shiki’s observation, earning a glower from Aozaki.

“You just want to move in on Shinjuku so you can pursue that drug problem.” He pointed out gruffly. “It would be better to wait until the investigation is done and the media aren’t focusing on it anymore.” Shiki shifted his gaze to Aozaki, arching a brow. The blue devil wasn’t normally one to preach restraint which meant he was doing it just to oppose Akabayashi.

“I won’t have to pursue the drug problem.” Akabayashi countered with a derisive snort. “The police are already doing that.”

“If we open an above board business we can expand our interests while still staying away from the scandal.” Shiki cut into the bickering before it could start up again. “There are several locations near Shinjuku station that have come on the market in the last few months, any of which would make ideal clubs. It would be a solid investment.” Mikiya gave Shiki a surprised look at the information then nodded slowly.

“I see your point. I’ll take it into consideration. Shiki, send me a report on these locations and the investment versus long term projected profit.” Shiki nodded, earning a considering look from Akabayashi. Aozaki just grunted acknowledgement, seeing no point in arguing with Shiki. “I’m curious about that video though. Not even the police know where the video came from. Seems they’ve been unable to identify the cameraman.”

“I doubt they ever will. If that person’s identity is revealed both the Sumiyoshi and the Tien Tao Meng will be hunting for them.” Akabayashi replied with a shrug. “Only way they’re going to be safe is if they stay hidden.”

“If he videotaped the whole thing wouldn’t he have had to send the tape to the cops?” Aozaki asked with a frown. “If that’s the case, it would have fingerprints or shit on it. I think the police are just protecting their rat. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was someone inside the Sumiyoshi.”

“That’s not how video technology works anymore. Get with the times. It’s all digital. All the person had to do was upload it to the net.”

“Then they could track that. Figure out where it was uploaded from or some shit.” Aozaki pointed out. “I know they can do that. Tracking people's’ cell phones and shit. Everybody knows the cops can do that.”

“That’s some conspiracy level bullshit. Besides, why would the cops risk this person by trying to track them down. Their time would be better spent analyzing the video for tampering so that it can’t be used in court.”

“Well if the guy is a traitor he could have all sorts of inside information the cops could use.”

“Yeah but who’s to say they’re a traitor and not just an innocent bystander?”

“Who the fuck hangs out in the warehouse district in the middle of the night?”

“Maybe it was a couple of teens sneaking out for a late night rendezvous.” Akabayashi replied with a grin then cast a glance at Shiki. “Hoping for a little danger and getting more than they bargained for.” Shiki raised his gaze from his notebook briefly to give Akabayashi a flat stare.

“Is any of this relevant to our meeting?” He asked pointedly. “I believe the next thing on the agenda is last month’s gambling books.” Akabayashi smirked at Shiki but reached for his report.

“Of course, my apologies, Shiki.” The red devil replied without an ounce of sincerity.

~

“Such a waste. He was a useful pawn.” Jiao Lan Fei spoke as he gazed out the passenger side window.

“He’s quite the adversary.” Midori observed as she drove, eyes fixed on the road. “When do you intend to return?”

“Once the worst of the scandal dies down. We’ve given the police our sacrificial lamb. I expected retaliation but this was quite the move. I’ve been careless.”

“Yes, you have.” Midori replied with a derisive snort. “He was too and I suspect that’s your saving grace in all this. Your superiors aren’t going to be happy.”

“A minor inconvenience. We still have our foothold. They can’t dislodge us that easily. An interesting tactic from Shirou. Taking a non-confrontational position while his son digs underneath us.” Midori glanced at Fei briefly then smiled.

“You assume Shirou knew anything about what Izaya was doing.”

“Actually, I assume he intentionally knew nothing. Plausible deniability.”

“You think he’d sacrifice his own son?”

“Of course. It wouldn’t be the first time Shirou’s turned on someone he called family.”

“Maybe, but this is his son.” Jiao Lan shrugged.

“I could be wrong but I think it’s safer to assume than to be surprised.”

“Of course. I’ll keep you informed of their activities.”

~

“Izaya please come set the table.” Kyouko was calling before he’d even gotten his shoes off. Izaya sighed and rolled his eyes at Yuuto’s grin.

“Isn’t that what the clones are for?” Izaya demanded in return, earning a screech of protest from Mairu.

“WE’RE COOKING.” She insisted at a painful volume from the kitchen.

“Control yourself, savage, I have a guest.” Izaya responded as he led Kazuo toward the kitchen. Yuuto abandoned them to join Shirou in the living room, giving Kazuo a light slap on the back in encouragement.

“What guest?” Mairu demanded from her perch on a stool beside the stove where she was chopping some sort of vegetable with the accuracy you would expect from an 11-year-old. Kururi was standing beside her, stirring a pot of noodles.

“Boyfriend?” Kururi echoed, staring at Kazuo with curiosity. Kyouko fixed her gaze on Izaya and Kazuo with an arched brow.

“Not boyfriend but maybe a kouhai.” Kyouko commented, perceiving Kazuo’s younger age.

“Neither.” Izaya replied cheerfully. “This is Shimada Kazuo. I’ve hired him to help me with the social media project.” At Izaya’s introduction, Kazuo bowed respectfully.

“Pleasure to meet you Orihara-san.” Kyouko gave Kazuo a considering look then smiled.

“No need to stand on formality, Kazuo-kun.” She replied causing Kazuo to look up at her in surprise then nod nervously. “Having a guest won’t get you out of helping, Izaya.” She turned her smile on Izaya and the raven sighed.

“It was worth a try.” He replied with a good-natured grin. “Kazuo you can wait in the living room with Yuuto and my dad.” He suggested but the thought of meeting the patriarch alone drew a wide-eyed look and shake of his head from Kazuo.

“Oh, if it’s all right I’ll just help you.” He responded, giving Izaya a pleading look that drew a grin from the raven and his mother.

“Silverware is in the drawer beside Mairu. I’ll grab the plates.” Izaya replied, moving to set the table. Kazuo followed Izaya’s directions, conscious of the scrutiny he was under and doing his best to keep his nerves under control.

Once they were seated for dinner, Izaya reintroduced Kazuo to Shirou drawing another scrutinous look, this time from the head of the family.

“You seem a bit young but it’s been pointed out to me recently that youth is what we need more of. This is convenient timing, Izaya. I had wanted to talk to you about the social media project tonight. Kazuo, what are your opinions on the yakuza?”

Kyouko clicked her teeth at her husband. “Really, Shirou, the young man just met you and you’re already launching complicated questions at him? Don’t mind him, Kazuo-kun, he’s all work all the time.”

“I can’t imagine Izaya invited him here for dinner if he didn’t intend to talk about the project.” Shirou argued with an arched brow. “I’m interested to know if the young man is considering this as a serious career in the family or simply a contract based employment.”

“I wouldn’t have brought him here for dinner if he wasn’t interested in a serious career in the family.” Izaya pointed out with a slight smirk at his parents’ friendly bickering. Kazuo’s eyes shifted from one speaker to the next, unsure of whether or not to respond.

“As Izaya-kun said, sir, I’m interested in a proper career with your family, not a contract but I understand there are requirements and traditions.” Kyouko and Shirou both turned considering looks on him at his words.

“Ohhh Iza-nii’s friend wants to be a yakuza!” Mairu piped up with a grin. “Is it because Iza-nii’s a yakuza? Are you gonna use your friendship with him to get ahead?”

“Benefits?” Kururi echoed. Kazuo’s gaze shifted to the twins in surprise at the question, both in the perceptiveness of the young girls and the forwardness of their inquisition. Izaya snorted in amusement.

“Girls, please use your manners.” Kyouko chided though there was a hint of a smile playing on her lips.

“Joining is easy.” Shirou replied directly to Kazuo. “How far you go, well that’s up to you. Are you a man of ambition, Kazuo-kun?” Kazuo took a moment to think about the question before responding.

“Well sir, I can’t say that I really know. I’ve only graduated high school this last year and to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do but I don’t intend to simply become another salaryman content to work for a company that cares only about profit and not people. I understand that I will have to prove my worth and I am prepared to do so.”

“A young man whose goal was to impress me would have answered yes.” Shirou replied. “Yet you answered with an honesty that is rare in those seeking to join the family. I can see why Izaya would consider you an asset, at least from a perspective of personality.”

“I’d hardly choose an over-eager, prideful person for this kind of job.” Izaya replied with a sniff.

“True, your analysis of people is quite accurate.” Shirou ceded with a slight smile for his son. “So what skills are you bringing to the table, then?” He returned his focus to Kazuo. The young man gave a sigh at this, expecting it.

“Well sir, I don’t have a degree or anything, as I’m sure you know but I am quite experienced with social media. I maintained the student social media at my high school as more traditional media formats. I’ve also been a follower of several of the fan magazines like Jitsuwa Document since high school and our own newspaper club had a section dedicated to the Sumiyoshi-kai in Shinjuku.”

“So you’re familiar with the current affairs of the yakuza, at least from the perspective of the media. Is your intention to pursue a degree in communications?”

“Yes, I’ve submitted several applications for spring.” Kazuo glanced at Izaya, wondering if the raven had told his parent’s anything about how they met. “It’s always interested me but I wasn’t sure if I could make a reasonable career of it until I spoke with Izaya-kun. If I’m able to put it to use for the yakuza, I would be honoured.”

“Ah yes, back to my original question.” Shirou smiled, glancing at Kyouko briefly. “What do you think of the yakuza?”

“Ah well, that’s kind of a complicated question, sir. I worked in a club in Shinjuku that was owned by yakuza and they treated me well but I’m not ignorant to the darker side of the organizations. I do think the yakuza do more good than harm though and that the ideals they hold to are more… Well, I think most yakuza have a better understanding of personal honour and duty than the average person nowadays and that is inspiring to me.”

“You’re not talking about Iza-nii are you?” Mairu interjected, eyeing her big brother suspiciously.

“Devious.” Kururi echoed. Izaya snorted again and narrowed his eyes in an irritated glare at his sisters. Kazuo turned to look at the girls, giving them a slight smile.

“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own sense of honour and duty.” He responded, shrugging. “But there are also men like Shiki-san, who I met briefly, men who still understand the value of loyalty.” Kyokou raised a brow at the mention of Shiki giving Kazuo a secretive smile that gave him the impression that she knew something he didn’t. Shirou glanced at his wife and for a brief moment Kazuo had the impression that Shirou might also be wondering about her smile.

“Don’t mind the clones. They’ve been terribly spoiled. All the family benefits and none of the responsibility.” Izaya mocked his sisters. Mairu stuck out her tongue at her brother and Kururi rolled her eyes.

“Iza-nii is just jealous because we’re Mom’s favourites!” Mairu declared.

“Cuter.” Kururi echoed. Kazuo couldn’t help but to chuckle at the sibling antics.

“Izaya, bring Kazuo by the office tomorrow and we can get him set up as a proper member.” Shirou interrupted the bickering before it could get worse. “We can talk more about the project once that’s taken care of.” Kazuo’s eyes widened in surprise at Shirou’s instructions then gave a respectful bow of his head.

“Ah, yes, of course, sir.” He replied. “I’m grateful for this opportunity.” Shirou chuckled.

“Don’t thank me yet. You’ll have to work hard to sell the benefits of any plan you and my son put together to the old men. Especially in light of the recent scandal with the Sumiyoshi-kai. Situations like those are why many of the families prefer to avoid media attention of any kind.”

“Their scandal can easily become a boost to our reputation if we act on it accordingly.” Izaya countered his father, smirking slightly. “Some publicly visible good works to reaffirm that not all families are corrupt like the Sumiyoshi.”

“You have something in mind?” Kyouko asked, fixing her son with a penetrating gaze.

“Several charities are hosting fundraisers over the holiday season. Being seen at such events would certainly help our reputation as benevolent toward our communities.” Izaya replied.

“Indeed, I believe we’ve already received invitations to some of the events.” Kyouko acknowledged.

“As well, as Nakagawa was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, it may be worth the effort to make friends with some people in the Constitutional Democratic Party. They have a stronger social platform and if we’re seen lending support to them it could encourage that image even further.” Shirou frowned at this.

“Involving ourselves in politics openly can be potentially detrimental. If we involve ourselves with the wrong politicians, we can be mistaken for supporting platforms we don’t actually agree with.” Izaya shrugged.

“That’s simply a matter of choosing the right people to associate with. There’s also the option of subtly putting our own candidates in power.”

“We really don’t have the political influence to maneuver more than local politicians.” Kyouko observed. “That would take time.” Izaya nodded slightly in agreement.

“Well yes, more of a long term plan. Still, everyone knows the yakuza dabble in politics so it wouldn’t be seen as odd and we want to appear progressive.” Kyouko gave Izaya a knowing smile while Shirou pondered the options. Kazuo quietly focused on his meal, the turn of conversation making him feel even more out of place.

“It’s something to consider but not something I can simply act on. I understand where you’re coming from, Izaya, but progressive is a hard sell to the more traditional members of the family. The fundraisers are workable though. You’ll have to find an appropriate companion, maybe that Ando girl you were seeing?” Izaya’s eyes widened fractionally at his father’s suggestion then slid his gaze to his mother.

“Really Shirou, leave the matchmaking to me.” She chided her husband with a laugh. “She’s really not a good fit for him.” Kazuo caught the odd exchange, glancing at Izaya as he realized Shirou wasn’t aware of Izaya’s preferences or his relationship with Shiki. “It sounds to me like you’re trying to avoid having to attend these parties, dear.” Kyouko continued, drawing a slight smile from Shirou.

“Well, wouldn’t Izaya enjoy these sorts of parties more?” He defended.

“He might but that’s hardly the point. The head of the family needs to make appearances as well.” Kyouko insisted and Shirou sighed.

“Very well. I suppose the young, unattached heir sells a better image to the media anyway.” He conceded.

“It does.” Kazuo spoke up. “Izaya-kun’s appeal to the younger generation is not unlike that of mainstream idols as far as the fan magazines go. If he’s seen as taken, he may lose popularity and it is the younger generation you want to engage, right?” Izaya gave Kazuo a considering look then grinned.

“Yakuza idol?” He repeated and Kyouko sighed.

“Don’t let it go to your head. You’re being compared to middle-aged men and older.” She chided her son. Shirou laughed at the exchange then nodded at Kazuo and Izaya.

“Fine, I get it. Izaya can play the eligible bachelor at the parties.”

“And you can play the responsible patriarch.” Kyouko finished with a smirk.

Chapter Text

“Do you ever wonder if your profs give you good grades because of your family ties?”

Izaya glanced up from the plate of sashimi he was devouring at a speed that would put a teenager in a growth spurt to shame. “That would imply that I actually cared about their opinions.” He responded before popping another piece of otoro in his mouth. Shiki arched a brow.

“When was the last time you ate?” The executive asked with amusement. Izaya took on a contemplative expression as he chewed.

“The last time I was hungry?” He replied, lips curving up into a grin. “Why are you reading that anyway?” He returned, gazing pointedly at the essay Shiki was reading.

“So what, a week ago? And why wouldn’t I read an essay entitled ‘The Valued Role of the Yakuza in Society’? Especially when it received a grade of ninety-five percent?” Shiki responded with a snort. “Which class was this for?”

“Criminology and it’s a solid thesis.”

“Says the heir of a yakuza clan.”

“Are you accusing me of bias?” Izaya demanded, giving Shiki an affronted look. “I am more than capable of separating personal interest from academic research.”

“So you didn’t have an ulterior motive in picking this topic to write about?” Shiki prodded.

Of course I had an ulterior motive but the research is solid and unbiased. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten that high a grade. My criminology professor has made it very clear that he doesn’t care about my family ties. I have a better question.” He reached across the table and snatched his essay out of Shiki’s hands and tossed it on the coffee table. “Why are you spending your birthday reading my homework? Is this really how you want to spend it?” Shiki leaned back and took a sip of his drink giving a relaxed shrug.

“How would you suggest I spend it?”

“Enjoying a fancy dinner on your coworkers? Eating cake? Getting drunk at a bar? Things infinitely more sociable than showing up at my apartment with dinner you bought for yourself?”

“My coworkers don’t know it’s my birthday - don’t even think about telling them.” He gave Izaya a firm look when the raven grinned. “I only showed up with dinner to keep you from making a fuss about it at the office. However, if you’re offering to buy dinner…”

“Oh no, if it isn’t on your birthday it isn’t the same.” Izaya replied quickly with a smirk. “One time offer, once a year. You’ll have to wait until next year. Still, there must be something more interesting that you’d want to do.” The raven insisted.

“Than you?” Shiki gave Izaya a smirk of his own as the raven’s eyes widened slightly in amused delight.

“Yes, in that case, I can’t imagine anything that could compete with my fabulous self.” He purred. “If only I’d thought of that sooner. I would have made sure I was gift wrapped.” Shiki gave him a suspicious look at his tone then grabbed the hem of his v-neck and pushed it up, revealing red lines of rope crisscrossing the raven’s chest. Izaya’s smirk widened at Shiki’s considering look as his fingers slid over the rope, tugging lightly at it.

“How unconventional.” The executive replied with amusement, letting Izaya’s shirt fall. “Your version of sexy underwear?”

“I thought you might appreciate it more.” The raven replied, lowering his gaze coyly. “And you’ve mentioned wanting to do this without an audience.”

“Hmm.” Shiki agreed, smirking a bit. “Show me.” Izaya didn’t hesitate to slip off his shirt, letting it fall to the ground as he rose and undid his pants, pushing them down with a deliberate shimmy of his hips. Shiki rose as well, tracing the lines of rope that Izaya had wound around himself in a basic harness. For a self-tie, it wasn’t too bad though there were spots that would have to be tightened up. He stepped behind Izaya, continuing to tug at the rope in places before finding the tie-off and undoing it. “How long did it take you to figure this out?” He asked as he began to carefully adjust the tension in the ropes, starting from the top and working his way down.

“Just a couple youtube videos and a few attempts.” Izaya replied with a shrug. “It’s a bit difficult to do to yourself and get the tension tight.” He admitted as Shiki’s hands slid over his bare skin.

“Indeed.” Shiki acknowledged as he gave the ropes that slid between his legs a sharp tug, drawing a hitched breath from Izaya. “Not bad for a self-tie, though.” He retied the ends, one hand sliding around Izaya’s waist to pull the raven back against him. His lips brushed against the shell of Izaya’s ear as he spoke. “I do hope you have more rope. There are a few additions I’d like to make.”

“Plenty, but what about dinner…?” Izaya responded in a teasing tone, sliding his hand over Shiki’s arm at his waist, interlocking their fingers.

“Were you not finished?” Shiki replied in amusement, leanly slightly to pick up his glass and press it to Izaya’s lips. The raven took a sip, flushing at the burn of the whiskey. Shiki finished off the rest, putting the glass back down. “Because I am.” Izaya tilted his head back slightly and turned it to press a kiss to Shiki’s jaw.

"It's your birthday. You can do whatever you want.”

“As long as it involves you?”

“I said whatever not whoever.” The raven replied, pulling away from Shiki but the executive didn't let him get far before pulling him back and up over his shoulder. Izaya let out a startled noise, gripping Shiki's belt as the other began to walk toward his bedroom. He kicked his legs playfully, earning an equally playful swat to his bare ass.

“You want me to drop you on the stairs?” Shiki threatened in a tone that was hard to decipher, making Izaya wonder if the executive would actually drop him. “I'm so glad the prince has given me permission to do whatever I want on my birthday. As long as it's with him, of course. I can only imagine what he might have done if I had decided to spend it with someone else.” Izaya snickered at Shiki's response.

“Is there someone else you'd rather tie up?” He prodded as Shiki slid open the bedroom door and turned on the lights.

“Oh no, I wouldn't want to make you jealous.” Shiki replied with a snort, eyes shifting to the bed where Izaya had left the rope. He tossed Izaya down on the bed, leaning over him as he reached for one of the bundles. “Same rules apply here, safe words and all.” He met Izaya’s gaze, giving the raven a serious look as he spoke. “Any discomfort, anything that makes you uncomfortable, tell me.” Izaya took in Shiki’s serious expression and nodded, anticipation making his stomach flutter anxiously. Izaya reached up to slide a hand around the back of Shiki's neck, drawing him down into an eager kiss.

Shiki drew back after a moment, pulling Izaya up with him. “Turn around.” He ordered as he unwrapped the silk cord, checking the length. Izaya did as he was told, kneeling on the bed and facing away from Shiki though he couldn't help but to look back at what the other was doing. The executive gave Izaya an amused look as he placed his hands on Izaya's shoulders, running them down along his arms, pressing them to his sides. “Stay still.” He drew the rope tight over Izaya's upper arms, binding then to the harness. He drew first one arm back, securing it to the first loop, then followed with the second, pinning Izaya's arms snugly against his back. The raven shifted against the binding but found no give. The position pulled his shoulders back, drawing muscles uncomfortably taut, forcing his chest forward. He could feel his pulse fluttering at the sensation of being bound, mobility removed slowly and precisely by Shiki's work. The executive never seemed to falter, taking his time with each pass of the rope, pulling the cord taut against his skin.

“How did you learn?” The raven asked as Shiki finished with his arms.

“Turn around.” He told Izaya, watching the raven shift gracefully as he grabbed another length of rope. “I started learning from my Aikido sensei back in high school.” He explained as he slid a hand along the edge of Izaya’s mattress, giving a slight smirk when his hand grasped at cool metal. He pulled out the switchblade and used it to cut the longer rope into two equal lengths then tossed it on the bed beside Izaya. “If you’ve looked into the history of it at all, you’ll know that kinbaku started out as a method of quick restraint for criminals.”

“Yet here you are, tying up young men so that you can have your way with them.” Izaya replied with a smirk.

“Is that a complaint?” Shiki slid his hand along Izaya’s thigh then slid the rope under his shin, working on slowly binding thigh and calf together. Izaya shifted nervously but shook his head.

“Oh, I wouldn’t dare to complain.” The raven responded with a wicked look. “I wouldn’t want to get spanked… Whatever would your sensei think if he knew you were using his teachings like this?” Shiki chuckled as he tugged the rope tight, fingers tracing over the line of knots before shifting his attention to the other leg.

“You think he didn’t use shibari the same way?”

“Oh my. Poor young Haruya, corrupted into perverted things at a young age by his teacher.” This drew a snort from Shiki.

“Nervous, Izaya?” He murmured, identifying Izaya’s jokes as a mask. He drew the tails of the rope up to the center of Izaya’s back, drawing his thighs apart and keeping them there, leaving the raven completely restrained and exposed. He pinned Izaya with a knowing look and as much as the raven wanted to deny, to make another joke or to to deflect, it was clear Shiki would see right through it. The familiar feel of adrenaline brought on by nervousness that wouldn’t subside despite his rational side telling him he had asked for this and that he could stop it at any time. He had thought he would feel less nervous in private but with only Haruya he felt that much more exposed, especially with the way the other was watching him, seeming to know what he was feeling better than he did. Shiki settled on the bed in front of the raven, sliding a hand up to cup his cheek. “Izaya, shibari is an act of trust and it’s obvious you don’t trust easily. That you’re giving me that trust is admirable and I have no intention of breaking it.”

Izaya’s eyes widened slightly at Shiki’s words, a slight flush colouring his cheeks at the praise and reassurance. “I know.” Izaya’s response was equal parts bratty and misleading; the raven was too proud and too cowardly to admit that he craved this intimacy, that Shiki’s clever ropework stripped away more than his mobility, and that he wanted Shiki to see the deepest parts of him that he showed to no one. Shiki gave him a measured look then smirked and Izaya knew he was going to pay for his sass.

“Of course, you never did set any limits.” The executive continued, running his thumb over Izaya’s lips. He moved to Izaya’s bedside drawer, pulling out a blindfold and sliding it over Izaya’s eyes. “Stay put.” He murmured, as if Izaya could go anywhere the way he was bound. Izaya stuck out his tongue as Shiki moved away from him, shifting his head as he tracked the sound of the other’s movements. The blindfold not only heightened his nervousness but also his curiosity, especially when Shiki left the room. With no way to know how long Shiki was gone for, and anticipation building, minutes of time passing felt like hours before the executive returned.

“Remember to use your voice, prince.” Shiki spoke as he slid fingers over a nipple, pulling at it. Izaya gasped as Shiki’s fingers were replaced by the stinging pressure of something capturing the sensitive bud tightly. The other nipple followed, Shiki running his thumbs over the trapped buds and drawing another gasp from the raven. The next sensation was the drag of rope around his balls, Shiki’s deft ropework binding them tightly then focusing on his cock. Izaya couldn't help but to groan at the restriction.

“I've changed my mind.” The raven protested though he was smirking as Shiki's hands slid over the curve of his ass, tugging on the rope that ran between his cheeks. “Clearly you're in a sadistic mood…”

“And that's not what you were expecting?” Shiki replied as he guided Izaya down so his face was pressed to the bed and his ass was in the air. “You know what to say if you want to stop this.” The cool sensation of lube hit his skin, making him flinch at the unexpected feeling, followed by a gasp at the probe of something cool and slick at his entrance. Not Shiki's fingers by the firm feel of it as it stretched and filled him, curving up at an angle to press against his prostate. The tight draw of rope against his entrance held it in place, making him shift uncomfortably. “That's not going to make it better.” Shiki observed with amusement as he drew the raven back up into his kneeling position, admiring the flush of his cheeks and the way his bound cock was already straining against the rope. “This might be my favourite look so far.”

“So glad the artist appro- Ahhh!” Shiki interrupted Izaya's sass with the press of a switch, turning on the toy and effectively cutting off the raven's words. Izaya bit his lip against the urge to moan, pouting a bit. A thumb pressed against his lips.

“Do stop talking.” Shiki chided the raven firmly before pulling away. Izaya heard the unmistakable flick of a lighter and the soft scent of burning filled the air. Izaya wrinkled his nose in irritation.

“Are you smoking ?” He asked indignantly but Shiki didn't answer with words. Instead, Izaya's answer came in the form of the sting of hot wax on his chest. He gasped at the unexpected feeling as another drop landed. There was no pattern to the wax, no warning, just blooms of heat and pain across his skin. Shiki watched with amusement as Izaya flinched and squirmed in the ropes, panting softly. The wax was hot enough to sting but nothing Izaya couldn’t handle. It was the raven’s inability to prepare for it that drew out his reactions, the anticipation of the pain without knowing when or where it would land. Paired with the tease of pleasure from the vibrator, Izaya's cock strained uncomfortably against the rope that bound it. “Haruya…” Izaya whined as a splash of wax hit his cock, making him shudder. Shiki captured his chin tilting his head up.

“Yes, Izaya?” He responded, another splash of wax hitting the side of his neck. The raven moaned, frustration creeping into his voice.

“I want more…” Izaya flushed with the admission, uncomfortable with giving voice to his desire.

“More what?” Another splash of wax. “Pain?” He ran a thumb over Izaya's captured nipple, drawing a desperate noise from the raven. “Pleasure?” A press of the switch turned up the vibrator, making the raven instinctively shift his hips forward.

“Both!” Izaya strained against the rope. “You… I want you…” He whined. “Haruya please!” Shiki’s fingers trailed down Izaya’s chest, stopping to free his nipples which drew a cry from the raven as feeling returned, prickly and painful. The gentle caress of Shiki’s thumb over the sensitive buds made Izaya jerk away, whimpering at the sensations. “ Please! ” He whined again as Shiki shifted his attention to Izaya’s neglected cock, releasing the rope.

“Desperate is a good look on you.” Shiki commented, caressing Izaya's cheek as he leaned in to capture Izaya's lips. Izaya parted his lips eagerly, returning the kiss hungrily, savouring the contact between them. Shiki pushed the blindfold off, pulling back to gaze at those red orbs, unfocused and pleading, inescapably honest in that moment.

“Fuck me.” Izaya groaned, leaning in toward Shiki, seeking physical contact. Shiki pulled back, giving the raven a smirk as he removed his clothes. Izaya watched, eyes tracking over pale flesh hungrily. He desperately wanted to touch Shiki, to drag fingers over lines of muscle and scars, to trace the dark stain of ink on his chest.

Shiki’s fingers trailed along Izaya’s thighs, releasing the rope and caressing the patterns left embedded in Izaya’s skin. He pressed a hand to Izaya’s back, guiding the raven forward as his other hand tugged on the toy, drawing a moan from the raven. Izaya shifted his hips back at the feeling, earning a light slap from Shiki. He drew the vibrator out slowly, ignoring Izaya’s impatient whines. Hands gripped the raven’s hips roughly as Shiki replaced the toy with his lube slicked cock, pressing in with agonizing slowness.

“Haruya!” Izaya whined in frustration but Shiki paid him no mind, taking his time, enjoying the feel of Izaya’s body quivering beneath him, the tightness of his entrance as he sunk in completely. He gave the raven only a moment before he was drawing back and thrusting forcefully, Izaya’s whines turning to moans. He set a punishing pace, wrapping one arm around the raven’s waist while the other slid up his chest, pulling Izaya against him. He groaned at the slick friction of flesh, the way Izaya’s body gripped him tightly as he pushed the raven to the edge. Too deep in the sensations to even try to hold back, Shiki had Izaya coming hard without touching his cock at all. He continued to thrust deep and hard as the raven gasped and shuddered his way through his orgasm, finding his own release in the tight grip of Izaya’s body. He panted softly, pressing lips to the curve of Izaya’s neck, the sharp prick of teeth drawing a shudder from Izaya. He pulled back slowly, keeping an arm around the raven’s waist as he tugged the knots binding his arms free, carefully releasing Izaya’s arms. The raven drew his arms forward, groaning at the protest of muscles held too long in captivity.

“Slowly.” Shiki murmured, fingers dragging over the red lines the ropes had pressed into his pale skin with a smile. He pulled back after a moment, releasing the raven and slipping off the bed. “I’ll run a bath.” Izaya lay on his back, stretching out bonelessly as he watched Shiki with half-lidded eyes.

“Mmm.” He murmured, the idea of moving sounding like too much effort at the moment. By the time Shiki came back for him, he was starting to doze off. Shiki gave him an amused look as he picked the raven up.

“Tired already, princeling?” He teased as Izaya rested his head against his shoulder.

“You’re very thorough.” Izaya replied with a half-smirk. Shiki snorted and set Izaya down beside the bathtub, giving his ass a squeeze.

“Get in and wash the wax off.” He replied as he stepped Izaya’s ridiculously large tub, sinking down into the hot water and beckoning the raven. Izaya settled in front of Shiki, reaching for the soap. Shiki watched as Izaya scrubbed off the now-hard bits of wax, occasionally helping to peel missed spots off. He pulled Izaya back against him, fingers lingering on the still-red of the rope marks fondly. Izaya relaxed against him, content.

“Did you enjoy your birthday?” He purred softly, smirking slightly.

“Mmm.” Shiki replied with a chuckle. “Did you ?”

“Well, I didn't get to give you your cake. Or present.” Izaya complained, earning a snort from Shiki.

“You mean you weren't the gift?”

“I'm always a gift. However, there may have been another gift.”

“I see.” Shiki replied, giving Izaya a considering look. The raven did a very good job of playing the callous narcissist, so well that Shiki wondered if Izaya wasn't buying his own lies. Yet his actions, small things like buying Shiki a gift, revealed the cracks in his facade. As hard as Izaya might try not to care about the people around him, Shiki could see that he did and that despite his words claiming otherwise, he craved affection as much as anyone else. “You can give it to me in the morning.”

“Nope.” The raven replied cheekily. “Just like the offer to buy dinner. One time offer only good on your birthday. You'll just have to wait until next year.” Shiki snorted and reached up to tweak one of Izaya's nipples.

“Brat.”

~

Akabayashi sat in the corner booth of the coffee shop, nursing a cup of coffee as he waited. He'd have preferred a glass of whiskey but she'd suggested a coffee date so here he was. Sayaka was running late which wasn't unusual. Between running her husband's antique shop and taking care of her daughter, she barely had time for herself so Akabayashi was always grateful for the time she spent with him, even as he wished for more.

“I'm so sorry Mizuki.” Her voice made him look up from his coffee cup and smile but the smile froze on his face when he saw her. Though she had dutifully done her best to cover it up with makeup, Akabayashi could clearly see the faint purpling of a bruise on her cheek.

“Sayaka, what happened?” He asked with concern though he had a feeling he already knew the answer. He'd seen enough bruises like that one in his life, even sported a few. Sayaka's lips parted in surprise and her hand rose to her cheek involuntarily.

“Oh, nothing, it was just a little accident at the shop…” She replied, eyes shifting away from Akabayashi as she lied. “I was trying to reach something on the top shelf in the storage room and a box slid.” The excuse was rehearsed enough that Akabayashi suspected this wasn't the first time she'd had to use it.

“Sayaka you…” He began then stood up, pulling out the chair for her. “You need to be more careful.” He replied as she sat down, letting the lie hover between them. She laughed nervously and nodded, knowing he didn’t believe her but letting her save face nonetheless.

“I’ll be more careful, don’t worry, Mizuki.” She said with a sad smile.

“How is Anri?” He asked, changing the subject as the waitress brought the coffee pot to refill his cup and take her order.

“Oh, she’s doing well. Just went into junior high this year and already the top of her class. I’m so proud of her, she’s so smart.” Sayaka beamed, happy to talk about her daughter. Akabayashi smiled back, happy to give her something good to talk about. “How has work been?” She asked in return. “Are you still looking into that drug you were talking about?”

“Yeah, I caught up with the guy who was dealing in Ikebukuro but it seems like it’s coming from Shinjuku which puts it out of my jurisdiction right now. It’s good enough for now that it’s not being dealt here.”

“What was the name of it again?” She asked as she sipped her coffee.

“Heaven’s Slave.” Sayaka’s eyes widened slightly, obviously recognizing the name. “You’ve heard of it?” He asked and she nodded.

“I think I overheard some kids in the store talking about it.” She was lying again, causing Akabayashi to raise a brow. Sayaka never lied to him.

“Ah, yeah, lots of people talking about it nowadays.” He replied with a slight nod. “Nasty stuff, highly addictive and expensive to boot. Designer drug at its worst.”

“So terrible.” She murmured quietly. “It’s a relief to know that you’re keeping drugs out of Ikebukuro. It makes me feel a bit safer raising Anri here.” He smiled and placed his hand over hers.

“You know I’ll always look out for you two.” He replied, earning a smile from Sayaka.

“You’re too good to me, Mizuki. Especially after what happened.”

“Nah. I told you then, didn’t I? Ain’t no other woman for me.” He smiled at her, resolving to keep a closer eye on her shop. Something was going on with her that she didn’t want to admit and he needed to find out what. She might be the wielder of a demon sword but she loved her family too much to protect herself with it and he had a strong feeling that bruise had come from her husband.

~

“Did you pick the club?” Shiki asked as he shed his suit jacket, handing it off to the girl stationed at the coat check, leaving him in his usual monochrome black dress shirt and white pants offset by the glint of a gold chain at his neck. Izaya gave Shiki an amused look and shrugged, sliding his hands into the pockets of his black dress pants. He’d passed on a suit jacket, going with a red dress shirt, unbuttoned at the collar. He glanced around the place taking in the top forty vibe.

“Well, I let Kazuo pick the kind of place since it’s his party but I made the actual booking. Better that it’s a private party, ne? Especially with Kazuo being technically underage. I’m sure the younger members will enjoy it and really isn’t that was this is about? You know the old men are just going to drink a few rounds then wander off to talk business or play poker.”

“Didn’t stop him from getting into Dominion.” Yuuto observed, following behind the other two, dressed down in comparison with his shirtsleeves rolled up and wearing a pair of slacks instead of dress pants. “Don’t know why they bother with that outdated age restriction. Doesn’t stop kids from drinking.”

“Ah yes, especially gaki like you, Yuuto.” Izaya replied with a smirk. “Probably started drinking when you were barely out of diapers.”

“Only if my mom was slipping booze into my bottles.” Yuuto snorted.

“I wouldn’t put it past her. Probably why you’re like this.” Izaya waved a hand vaguely at Yuuto, smirking.

“What, a good son…?” Yuuto shot back with a grin then headed toward the bar. Shiki snorted in amusement while Izaya put on his best aggrieved expression.

“I am a wonderful son.” He replied with a huff, turning toward the table reserved for the executives. Kazuo was sitting at the table as they approached, flanked by Johnny on one side and Akabayashi on the other. He had an expression of pure panic on his face and a glass in front of him that Akabayashi was generously refilling. Izaya felt a brief flash of sympathy for his recruit as he slid into a chair beside Akabayashi. Shiki sat to his left, a slight smirk on his lips as he took in the scene as well. “Akabaka! The party hasn’t even officially started and you’re already feeding him drinks?”

“For the nerves.” Akabayashi replied with a grin, nudging the glass toward Kazuo who reluctantly looked at it.

“Definitely.” Johnny added somberly. “Poor Shimada here looked like he was ready to run the moment he walked in the door.”

“Greeted by you two, I can see why.” Shiki commented as he reached for the bottle Akabayashi had put on the table. “Tequila, really? And cheap tequila at that. At least start the kid off with something decent.” Izaya snickered, giving Kazuo a sympathetic look.

“Not everyone is an elitist like you, Shiki.” Akabayashi replied with a snort. “And there’s nothing wrong with tequila.”

“Besides,” Johnny chimed in. “It’s impossible to get good tequila at the bars here. You gotta import the good shit from the States. Next time we have a more private get together remind me and I’ll bring some good tequila.”

“Tequila huh?” Yuuto repeated as he joined them, setting scotch down for Shiki and a Smirnoff Ice in front of Izaya. “Aren’t you supposed to do it with lime?” Johnny nodded.

“Yeah but Akabayashi just grabbed the bottle and a glass.” He replied with a chuckle. “Made Shimada do the first two shots straight.” Kazuo’s face twisted in disgust at the memory, staring at the glass in front of him as if it were poison. Izaya chuckled and slid his bottle over to Kaz, taking the glass and sniffing it.

“That smells disgusting.” He commented, eyeing Akabayashi with a frown. “Why would anyone drink this?” Akabayashi gave Izaya a sadistic grin.

“To get drunk. Tell you what, you do the shot and I’ll let your kouhai off the hook… for now…” Izaya arched a brow at the red devil, then glanced at Kazuo who was giving him the equivalent of puppy dog eyes. He sighed, steeled himself for what he knew would be a terrible taste, and downed the glass. It was probably closer to three ounces than one and definitely tasted worse than anything he could have prepared for. He coughed and scrunched up his face in disgust.

“That is disgusting .” He replied to a round of laughter from the executives, including Shiki. Akabayashi clapped him on the back in congratulation as he waved a server over.

“A bottle of sake to wash away that terrible American taste.” He called and the server scurried off to fill the order.

“It’s not American.” Johnny protested. “It’s Mexican. If you want good American booze get some Jack Daniels.”

“Is that really the best America has to offer?” Shiki replied derisively, raising a brow at the Japanese-American Orihara executive. “Setting aside that American whiskeys are subpar compared to other countries, surely Jack Daniels isn’t the best choice.”

“Hah!” Johnny chuckled at Shiki’s response. “Well it may not be the best whiskey out there but it’s not the worst either. And definitely better than tequila.”

“Don’t mind Shiki, nothing less than premium for him.” Akabayashi grinned at Shiki.

“Why drink swill?” Shiki responded with a shrug.

“Apparently to prove your manhood or something equally foolish.” Izaya observed, pouring sake for everyone. He took a sip, not eager to drink more but wanting to get the taste of the tequila out of his mouth.

“Or to watch young men attempt to prove their manhood.” Akabayashi pointed out with a smirk.

“Getting drunk doesn’t really prove anything.” Kazuo finally spoke, though it was quiet, also drinking the sake Izaya had poured. “And using tradition to pressure someone into drinking doesn’t really show superiority.” The executives all turned to look at the newest member of the Orihara-kai with a range of reactions. Johnny was surprised, Akabayashi amused, and Izaya proud while Shiki, of course, didn’t react at all.

“I see why you picked him, Orihara.” Akabayashi commented with a chuckle. Izaya just shrugged and smirked.

“While it’s a fair point, it’s not going to get you out of this party, Shimada.” Johnny clapped the young man on the back and refilled his sake cup before he’d even had more than a few sips. “Tradition is important. Especially the ones involving drinking.” Izaya gave a long-suffering sigh.

“I’m surrounded by reprobates.” He mourned, earning a snort from Shiki.

“Says the spoiled prince of the reprobates.”

“It's hardly my fault I was born into this family.”

“You're not exactly trying to reform yourself either.” Akabayashi snorted, refilling Izaya's cup. “As much as you've worked on convincing the media of that.”

“Maybe I'm working from the inside.” Izaya replied with a smirk.

“Save it for the reporters.” Shiki said, giving Izaya an amused look.

“Oh yeah, I heard Kyouko is making you play socialite this year.” Johnny mused, giving Izaya a sympathetic look. “Stuck playing nice with all those rich assholes.”

“Just as corrupt as the clans but looking down on them.” Yuuto added with a derisive sneer. Izaya just smirked wider.

“Oh don't feel bad for me.” The raven replied with wickedness in his eyes. “Feel bad for them.” Akabayashi rose a brow and chuckled.

“I'll be sure to pay attention to the morning papers.”

“So are the Awakusu sending anyone?” Izaya asked, sliding his glance over to Shiki.

“I believe Mikiya was intending to go with his wife, at least to a few of them.” Shiki replied, ignoring Izaya's hopeful look. The raven sighed in disappointment.

“Too bad.” He replied with a slight smirk. “Mikiya is terrible company.”

“Oh, I'm sure you'll be busy enough fending off all those eligible daughters.” Johnny threw in, giving Izaya an amused grin. “All those perfectly groomed housewives in training hoping for a shot at the young heir and not some crusty old politician or businessman…”

Kazuo gave Izaya a horrified look at the suggestion. “Ehhh? You're not expected to marry one of those girls are you?” He asked in surprise, earning a round of laughter from the other executives.

“Don't worry Shimada.” Johnny consoled, slapping him on the back. “You won't have to marry anyone.”

“But Izaya does?” Kazuo looked like he wanted to say more but his eyes shifted from Izaya to a newcomer behind him.

Shirou rested a hand on his son's shoulder, giving Kazuo an amused look. “I'm not going to make Izaya marry anyone. If he finds a girl he likes who also happens to be in a position to further our business goals, great. If not…” Shirou shrugged. Izaya rolled his eyes at the whole discussion.

“I'm not getting married.” He replied, finishing off his sake and refilling everyone's cups. He handed one to his father. “I have no interest in that kind of relationship.” This earned a chuckle from Shirou.

“You're still young.” He replied before shifting his attention to Kazuo. “Welcome to the Orihara-kai, Shimada-kun. I hope you enjoy your party. Now if you'll excuse me, Mikiya had some pictures he wanted to show me.” He raised his glass at Kazuo then wandered toward another table where Mikiya sat with Aozaki and Naoto Takahashi, another Orihara executive. The Awakusu heir had his phone out and appeared to be talking animatedly to a very bored looking Naoto while Aozaki focused intently on drinking his beer.

“Baby pictures.” Akabayashi noted with a groan. “Akane's a cute kid and all but he doesn't need to show us every new thing she's done.”

“Well Shirou’s a father so maybe he'll have finally found an appreciative audience.” Shiki observed with a slight smile. “Could be showing Mikiya baby pictures of our brat prince as we speak.” Izaya's gaze shifted from Shiki to his father, who had also pulled out his phone, a look of horror crossing his features briefly.

“I'm sure he's showing pictures of the twins. I doubt he'd still have baby pictures of me on his phone.” Izaya replied, drawing a laugh from Akabayashi and a smirk from Shiki.

“Did you ever sit still long enough for Shirou to even get pictures?” Yuuto asked with a grin. “Probably throwing yourself into trouble as soon as you could walk.”

“I was a good kid. Top marks in class. Popular-”

“Ran a gambling ring. Got into street fights.” Yuuto added.

“Yet all my teachers still liked me.” Izaya countered with an arrogant smirk.

“Probably that pretty face.” Akabayashi teased. “What kind of kid was Shimada here?” Kazuo glanced at Akabayashi in surprise at the conversation turning toward him.

“Oh… I was pretty average.” He replied with a shrug as Akabayashi refilled his glass.

“So average that he was overlooked.” Izaya gave Kazuo a smirk and the younger man frowned slightly. “A young man who knew he was different and that being different would cause him trouble. Better to hide your differences and blend in, ne? Average grades, just enough involvement in extracurriculars to not be considered antisocial but neither striving to excel too much and draw attention that way.” Kazuo stared at Izaya in surprise at his analysis of his school days.

“How did you…?” Kazuo replied and Izaya’s smirk widened. “You didn’t even go to school with me, how could you know anything about that?”

“Well for starters, I wouldn’t actually have considered hiring you without looking into you. But honestly, Kazuo, you give yourself away. Your fascination with the yakuza, for starters, is a pretty good indicator that you aren’t what you appear to be. Normal kids don’t have dreams of joining the yakuza, at least not as they get older. There are two types, generally, who show interest in the clans. You’re definitely not the thug with no prospects after high school type so…” The other executives were watching the exchange with a bit of fascination at Izaya’s ability to decipher a person from small clues. “Add to that the fact that while you’re young and inexperienced, you’re clearly smarter than your average grades would indicate, based on the things we’ve discussed for the social media project. You keep up with news and popular media far more than the average person and always know what’s going on, especially if you think it could be relevant to your job or the clans but you present it as if you just happened to hear about it. You are genuinely shy because you fear getting noticed for the wrong things, or specifically, the things that make you different. The things you’re afraid of getting judged for. You want to belong but you also want to be accepted for who you really are and you’re not sure if you can both be yourself and be accepted socially. So you stay in the background, letting others lead the way while you gauge what you can safely reveal about yourself.”

Kazuo opened his mouth to respond to Izaya's analysis but didn't know what to say so he simply downed the cup of sake instead. Akabayashi chuckled at the young man, refilling the cup for him.

"Outed by your boss… Better luck next time." He teased, earning a smirk from the raven.

"You're not safe either, oi-chan ." Izaya replied with mischief in his eyes. "Playing the oh-so-cool badass but the moment a damsel in distress wanders by, you're the first one jumping to rescue the poor girl. You don't talk much about your misspent youth but I'm willing to bet money that you joined the yakuza because you thought it'd get you chicks." Akabayashi raised a brow then gave Izaya an amused grin.

"Hey, there are worse reasons to join." He replied with a shrug. "And there's nothing wrong with wanting to protect people."

"Especially if protecting the girl gives you an excuse to kick the crap out of some lowlife piece of shit, ne?" Izaya added.

"Well, it's not like guys join the yakuza because they want a peaceful life." Johnny pointed out with a snort.

"Mmm, says the gambling king." Izaya answered the observation with a grin. "You had the chance to get out but instead you put your intelligence into putting your family's biggest rival casino out of business by conning them."

"Hey, nothing I did was illegal." Johnny replied with a grin. "You have the chance to get out too. Shirou wouldn't force it on you if you really wanted to leave." Izaya's grin widened and he shrugged.

"As if Orihara would ever be content with a normal life." Shiki interjected with amusement. "He'd last a week tops before boredom drove him right back to trouble."

"Hmmm. The mystery speaks." Izaya shifted his gaze to Shiki as he filled the cups again.

"Not your average troublemaker yet you ambitiously climbed the ladder, earned a terrifying reputation and became the youngest executive in the Awakusu." Kazuo's gaze fixed on Shiki, eyes widening a bit at Izaya's description of the reserved executive. "But everyone has motivations… So what are yours? What is it that motivates that terrifying ambition?" Shiki gave Izaya a smirk.

"Bothers you, doesn't it?" He teased the raven. "You're so very good at reading people, ferreting out little bits of information on them. Giving a little bit and watching how they react to see if you're on the right track. Your ability to read people is second to none." Izaya's lips curved downward into a pout as his attempt to get Shiki to reveal something personal was completely rebuffed.

"Hah! Good try, Orihara." Akabayashi chuckled. "It'll take more than that to get Shiki to open up." He raised his glass in toast to the attempt. "To the troublemakers."

"I can drink to that." Johnny agreed, raising his glass.

"Reprobates." Izaya added as he raised his glass.

“Scoundrels.” Yuuto followed with a chuckle.

"Outcasts!" Kazuo added exuberantly, grinning as he raised his glass. They all turned their gazes on Shiki, who sighed in irritation.

"I am not toasting to a bunch of lazy con men who make my job harder."

"Oh come on, you have to toast to something." Izaya insisted, drawing another sigh from the executive. He narrowed his eyes as he raised his glass.

"To the most troublesome family I could have ended up in.” His toast elicited a round of laughter from the others, no one bothered by his caustic response. They emptied their cups and another round was poured. “Why don’t you take your recruit around and introduce him before he’s too drunk to stand?” Shiki suggested, noting that Kazuo was already looking tipsy. Izaya chuckled and helped Kazuo to his feet.

“Don’t worry, you only have to remember the names of the really important people, like the execs.” Izaya told Kazuo as he led the young man away from the table. Kazuo was eyeing him with a look that was somewhere between suspicion at Izaya’s advice and relief that he wouldn’t have to remember everyone.

“Poor kid’s gonna be feeling it in the morning.” Akabayashi observed with amusement.

“Orihara too.” Yuuto added. “He may not be the youngest anymore but it would be rude to refuse as Shimada’s sponsor.”

True to prediction, both Izaya and Kazuo were thoroughly wasted by the end of the evening. While Yuuto helped Kazuo into a cab, Shiki did the same for Izaya, giving the raven’s apartment address to the driver as he settled in beside him. Izaya immediately leaned against Shiki, resting his head on the other’s shoulder.

“I was thinking ‘bout it.” He said, closing his eyes.

“Thinking about what?” Shiki replied, giving Izaya an amused smile.

“You. Yakuza.” Izaya continued, words slurring. “You did it to prove something, didn’t you? Not to the Awakusus. To someone else. Needed to prove that you were good enough. Maybe prove you were better than someone. Or than what someone thought of you.” The raven was rambling, alcohol turning his normally precise words into a free flow of thought.

“What makes you think that?” Shiki replied, finding Izaya’s drunk theorizing a bit too close to the truth.

“Mmm it’s the way you do things. Did things? Whatever. It’s not about money or prestige. You’re not like those other executives who chase the position for that. Not that you don’t enjoy the rewards of your success, but people like that tend to flaunt it and you don’t. You let your reputation precede you but you don’t feel the need to live up to it. Or remind people of it.”

“I don’t think being tasteful and having manners is an indicator of what you’re leading to.” Shiki rebutted with a snort.

“Pffff some would argue that white suits haven’t been tasteful since the 80s.”

“I would argue that walking home might be good for your disrespectful ass.”

“Ohhh sorry, daddy please don’t make me walk.” Izaya replied without an ounce of sincerity. “So who was it that drove you to prove yourself? And why?” Shiki looked at the raven thoughtfully, contemplating whether or not to give him the explanation he wanted. Silence settled between them for a long while as the car moved through the mostly empty streets.

“You know, one day I think your perceptive nature is going to get you into more trouble than you can handle.” The Awakusu executive finally replied but received silence in return as Izaya had drifted off. Shiki shook his head in amusement. “We’ll see if you remember this in the morning.”

Chapter Text

The various invitations were strewn carelessly across Izaya’s desk. The raven was leaning back in his chair with one invitation in his hand, gazing at Shiki with a look that could only mean one thing.

“I have a plan.” The executive sighed as he removed his shoes and moved toward the desk. A quick count of the invitations showed at least a dozen.

“Well aren’t you the popular one.” He observed leaning against the side of the desk as he picked up an embossed card requesting Izaya’s attendance. “Mikiya didn’t even receive half this many and all of them save one were business partners.”

“Mikiya’s old and married.” Izaya pointed out with a grin. “And old-fashioned on top of it all. I assume he was invited to this one though?” He turned the card around in his hand, revealing the letterhead of the Constitutional Democratic Party. Shiki plucked the invitation out of Izaya’s hand reading it over then nodding slowly.

“He did. An interesting move for them. Politicians rarely want to be seen publicly associating with yakuza.” He returned the invitation to Izaya. “Mikiya is hesitant to attend. He has concerns about being seen supporting a political party.” Izaya rolled his eyes.

“My father has similar concerns. However , this is a fundraiser for the CCCJ * and supporting their good works is something we want to be seen doing.”

“So you plan on attending as the socially conscious young heir.” Shiki surmised. “Not an official representation since Shirou won’t be there, but a symbol of potential change under the guise of supporting a charity that we have been known to give assistance to.”

“Convince your boss to do something similar.” Izaya smirked up at Shiki. “I need a plus one.” Shiki arched a brow.

“Planning to come out?”

“Of course not. I need someone interesting to spend the night with. This will be the fifth of these events I’ve had to attend and I’m getting tired of listening to the same idle chatter from perfectly groomed rich girls trying to win my affections.” Shiki smirked at that, amused by Izaya’s self-imposed torment.

“Tired of playing the eligible bachelor already?”

“These parties are too formal.” Izaya complained with a sigh. “I can hardly have an interesting conversation with any of them when everyone just sticks to the same safe topics.”

“By ‘have an interesting conversation’ I assume you mean torment them by picking apart their conversation with your psychology.”

“Ahhh Haruya understands me!” Izaya replied with a grin.

“Why else are you trying to get me to go?” Shiki pressed, crossing his arms. Izaya’s eyes widened innocently then slid away from Shiki’s penetrating gaze.

“Did you notice who the actual host is?” Shiki took back the invitation.

“Mashita Eisuke? The name doesn’t sound familiar.”

“He is an independently wealthy businessman though the rumours around him say that his wealth comes from his reclusive wife, Mashita Chiyo. They have no children of their own but apparently support their niece, Mashita Midori.”

“Fei’s agent? Izaya I thought-”

“It’s not about Fei.” Izaya interrupted, knowing where Shiki was about to go. “Midori is more than just Fei’s agent. I don’t know why she is working for Fei but I told you she hired me for a side job?” Shiki arched a brow and nodded. “She wanted me to research her family lineage, a very well-hidden lineage. In my research, I’ve been led to believe the Mashitas have a book that will be very helpful to me. This is the perfect opportunity to gain access to it.”

“You want to use the party as a way to get into their estate and steal a book. And you want me to be your accomplice.” Shiki replied flatly.

“It’s too good an opportunity to pass up.”

“Yes, but you being you, you’ll hardly be able to sneak off unnoticed.”

“Well yes, there is that.” Izaya replied with a smirk. “I did say I had a plan.”

“Which is?”

“A robbery.”

“What.”

“So many rich people in one place.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Such a tempting target for a gang of idiotic thugs intent on sticking it to the rich people.” Shiki stared at Izaya for a very long, silent moment as he considered what Izaya was proposing.

“You're planning to maneuver one of your colour gangs and sacrifice them. You know they'll get arrested."

"They're a liability. I can't control their current leader but eliminating them will put someone else in my debt. It would look very good for us if we were shown to be responsible for the arrest of said thugs."

Like all of Izaya's plans, on the surface, it felt like too much risk but he could also see the potential of it, as long as Izaya could keep everything moving in the right direction. He couldn't help but be impressed by the way Izaya had analyzed the situation and created a strategy that not only fulfilled his main goal but several minor goals as well.

"Sounds like you have everything planned out. Why do you need me?"

"Backup. I can't be sure things will go exactly as planned. You can be my eyes and ears while I get the book." Shiki raised a brow at that, giving Izaya a look of disbelief.

"Showing a level of caution? How unlike you." He teased, earning a pout from the raven.

"I do learn from my mistakes. And you're a good partner in crime."

"What if Mikiya disagrees with my attendance?"

"I have faith in your ability to tell him what he needs to hear to approve." Izaya replied with a smirk. "That is how you've managed to get around his clumsy, ill thought out attempts at leadership so far, isn't it? Does that count as babysitting or crisis management? As a skill set, I mean." Shiki sighed at Izaya's too accurate observations.

"All right, brat, I'll help you with this plot of yours on one condition: once you've obtained this book, you can explain this job to me and tell me why you think it's worth this level of risk."

Izaya gave Shiki a triumphant grin. "Of course, Haruya."

~

"Fine, I'll do it but then I'm out No more Blue Squares." Kyohei crossed his arms, looking at Izaya skeptically. "And for the record, Izaya, I don't like it. You're playing with fire, involving that psycho."

"Yes, that's why I’m trying to get rid of him. I would think you’d be happy at the prospect of him ending up behind bars.”

“But we both know that while you might be trying to get rid of him you’re also using him as a distraction. That could backfire big time.”

“I’ve taken that into consideration, Dota-chin.”

“What if someone gets hurt in all this, Izaya?” The raven tilted his head slightly as he looked at his high school friend.

“There’s no reason for that to happen. I intend to make sure the police will be able to respond rapidly.”

“Fine. I’ll be happy to see him get what he deserves, that’s for sure.”

~

“It would be a poor showing for us if you didn’t accept the invitation, sir.” Shiki levelled his gaze at the Awakusu heir as he spoke on the topic of the fundraiser. “It is a very important event and the last of the season before New Year’s. I understand your hesitance in appearing to support the political agenda but refusing the invitation completely could bring about future repercussions.”

Mikiya was frowning as he listened to Shiki, shaking his head slightly in disagreement. Akabayashi gave Shiki a look of curiosity at his sudden opinion on the matter. The last time they’d discussed it, the executive hadn’t even bothered to venture an opinion either way.

“I would suggest that as a compromise, you send one of the executives to attend in your place. Thus you are fulfilling social obligation without directly allying yourself with the political side of this event.” Shiki continued and the suggestion made Mikiya pause then nod slowly.

Akabayashi raised a brow. That sounded even less like Shiki.

“Very well. Shiki, go ahead and attend the event in my place. I’ll send them a response indicating such.” Mikiya agreed after a moment more of thought. “But avoid any political discussions.”

“Of course, sir. As it is a fundraiser, that should be simple enough.” Shiki replied with a nod, ignoring the suspicious look Akabayashi was shooting him and moving on to the next topic of the meeting. After the meeting had concluded though, Akabayashi cornered him in the elevator.

“What are you up to?” The redhead smirked at him as they headed down to the main floor. Shiki fixed Akabayashi with a flat stare.

“It was pointed out to me that refusing to attend would significantly reduce Mikiya’s chances of being invited to other politically important events.”

“You didn’t even try to pass attending off on someone else. You hate these kinds of things.” Akabayashi pointed out with a snort. “No, this has Orihara’s fingerprints all over it. What are you two doing?”

“Attending a charity event.” Shiki replied blandly. “It’s not the first time I’ve had to do it.”

“Maybe I should attend this party. Sounds like it’s going to be the event of the season.”

“That would be a waste of time I’m sure.” Shiki observed. “It’s unnecessary to have more than one representative of Mikiya’s there.”

“I don’t know, I get the feeling it might be very necessary. Look what happened the last time you two went to a party.” Shiki gave Akabayashi a cold stare but the redhead merely chuckled at his reaction. The elevator reached the ground floor and Shiki turned away.

“You don’t need to involve yourself in everything, Akabayashi. Especially when you can’t seem to bother doing your own work.” Shiki finished as he stepped out of the elevator.

“See you at the party, Shiki.” Akabayashi called after him as Shiki walked toward the exit. Shiki gave an irritated sigh at the redhead’s persistence.

~

“I hear your recent involvement in the Nakagawa scandal has done good things for your career, Takahashi-san.”

“Cut to the chase, Orihara.” The detective grumbled, staring at the heir suspiciously.

“Not in the mood for small talk today? You know a grumpy demeanour isn’t very encouraging when you’re questioning witnesses.”

“How convenient that you’re not a witness. Now unless you actually have something useful for me, I do have work to do.”

“Very well. I may have a bit of information to sell you. About a potential robbery that may occur this weekend.”

“A robbery? I assume you aren’t talking about a little B&E.”

“Of course not. I stumbled across a little conspiracy when I was invited to an event this weekend.”

“You’re talking about the CCCJ event.”

“Glad to see you keep up with current affairs.”

“It’s the biggest event of the season, of course I know about it. You’re saying someone’s going to try to rob the guests.”

“Multiple someones from what I heard.”

“I’m not sure that’s enough to go on, Orihara. All I have is your word.” Izaya smirked and pulled out a thumb drive, sliding it across the table. Daisuke reached for it but Izaya rose a brow.

“Ah-ah. This isn’t a free tip.” The detective grunted in irritation and pulled out an envelope. Izaya took the envelope, relinquishing the drive. “Always a pleasure doing business with you, Daisuke.”

~

The Mashita owned a small estate with a western style manor house and sprawling garden. Despite the chill in the air, the garden had been lit up for the event, with heaters scattered throughout for people to gather around. The garden had been decorated in holiday festivity that Izaya found bordered on tasteless but had the other guests praising their hosts. Undoubtedly only because it was a show of wealth and not an actual appreciation for the decor. He had been wandering the garden for half an hour, chatting with other guests politely while he waited for Shiki to arrive, and was growing bored already. Another event full of boring humans, not even a single rumour floating around. If he didn’t already have plans for the event, he might have started one himself.

“Bored, Orihara?” The voice that addressed him was not one he expected to hear. He turned toward it, eyes widening in amusement at the presence of Akabayashi.

“Waiting is always boring.” He replied with a smirk. “I didn’t see your name on the guest list. However did you manage to get in?”

“You’re not the only one with contacts.” Akabayashi returned with a grin. “Besides, someone’s gotta keep an eye on you and your partner.” Izaya arched a brow at that, turning his gaze to Shiki who was not too far from them, caught in conversation by some politician or other. Izaya took the moment to admire the executive, forced to forego his usual white suit for proper black tie attire.

“He could almost pass as respectable.” Izaya commented with a grin, earning a snort from Akabayashi.

“Oh yes, a proper businessman. He doesn’t have your charm but he makes up for it in etiquette. At least, up until you piss him off.” Izaya snickered at that as Shiki finally freed himself of the conversation and joined them.

“Determined to interfere?” Shiki spoke to Akabayashi first, eyeing the other executive coldly.

“Hey, I’m just here for a front row seat.” Akabayashi replied with a grin. “Also the free food and drink. Seems they spared no expense.”

“Bragging rights.” Izaya observed. “I believe dinner will be served in the ballroom soon. I find the style of their home an interesting choice. Western style and significantly larger than two people could possibly need.”

“They are known to be eccentric.” Shiki replied with a slight shrug. “But it isn’t uncommon for the wealthy to show off with unnecessary things, so a large house doesn’t strike me as that odd.”

“True... “ Izaya acknowledged. “But I suspect there’s more to it. Ah! Mashita-san!” He called to their hostess as she approached the area they were lingering in. “Let me introduce you to my business partners, Shiki Haruya and Akabayashi Mizuki.”

Mashita Chiyo shared much in common with her niece, the resemblance very obvious. She was also much younger looking than her age implied and Izaya suspected some of that wealth was contributing to her beauty.

“A pleasure to meet you both.” She replied with a polite smile. “You are the representatives of the Awakusu, yes? I was quite surprised to see that both you and the Oriharas had accepted our invitation.”

“Thank you for the invitation, Mashita-san. We were quite honoured and felt that supporting the CCCJ is a noble cause.” Shiki replied, giving her a polite bow.

“I was speaking with Mashita-san earlier and had mentioned your interest in rare books, Shiki-san.” Izaya continued with a sly smile. “She has offered to show us her library. Apparently, they have a very extensive collection housed here.”

“I see. That is most kind of you.” Shiki replied.

“I have some time now, before dinner, if you’d like to see it.” Chiyo replied, turning to lead them back into the manor house. Izaya fell in step with their hostess, happily chatting with her about books while Akabayashi fell in step with Shiki, giving his fellow executive a puzzled look.

“Library? Rare books?” He spoke quietly but Shiki just arched a brow at him and shrugged, unwilling to say anything more about it with their hostess only steps ahead of them. Instead, he paid attention as Chiyo led them through the main floor of the house, keeping track of where they were.

As soon as they stepped into the library, to Shiki’s amusement, Izaya’s eyes lit up in genuine delight at the rows upon rows of bookshelves. Akabayashi raised a brow as the heir immediately began to roam through the room, gazing at the shelves until he would find something of interest.

“Don’t tell me he accepted the invite just so he could get a look at their library.” Akabayashi muttered as he looked around.

Shiki snorted in amusement. “It’s Izaya. For him, that may well be as good of a reason as any other.” He followed Izaya, scanning the spines of the books, wondering how Izaya expected to find a single book in this. His gaze switched to the informant, who had stopped and drawn a book off a shelf nearby, flipping through it casually before carefully replacing it. Shiki looked at the book but it didn’t appear particularly notable despite Izaya’s obvious interest in it.

The raven turned back to their hostess, who was waiting patiently by the door. “My thanks for showing me this, Mashita-san. It’s truly an amazing collection. I don’t suppose you would be amenable to allowing me access at another time?” The interest Izaya was showing was genuine enough that any ulterior motive he had was thoroughly disguised.

“I’m sure we can make an arrangement, Orihara-san. I’m quite interested to talk with you on some of the topics we’d spoken of earlier.” She replied with a smile that was a bit more genuine, obviously moved at least a bit by Izaya’s seeming eagerness. “But let me show you the dining room. Dinner should be served soon and, of course, my husband will be addressing the guests.”

“Of course, Mashita-san, please lead the way.” Shiki replied, moving toward the door where Akabayashi still stood, a puzzled look on his face as he attempted to piece together what the other two were up to.

They took their seats, placed at a table with several other notable businessmen, one of which immediately launched into a lengthy description of his daughter’s merits to a clearly disinterested Izaya. Near the end of dinner, Izaya excused himself to use the washroom and shortly after he’d left the room was cast into darkness, causing the guests to stir and murmur nervously at the sudden blackout.

“Please don’t concern yourselves.” Mashita Eisuke announced. “We have a backup generator that should kick in any minute.” As the minutes passed and no power returned to the room people began to grow more nervous, pulling out their phones to use as flashlights.

Akabayashi leaned in to murmur quietly to Shiki. “So I assume this is part of whatever trouble you have planned?”

Shiki pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contacts, looking for the number Izaya had given him to call. “This is the diversion.”

“All right, rich people, time to donate to charity!” An obnoxious voice echoed through the room and eyes shifted toward the man stalking into the room, a very large sledgehammer resting on his shoulder. Behind him followed his gang of thugs, all bearing some sort of weapon and wearing blue colours. People turned, shining the flashlights of their phones in the direction of the gang, gasping in surprise. Shiki shook his head slightly at the way people were clearly beginning to panic at the situation, so unused to even the threat of violence in their daily lives that this robbery came as such a shock.

“A colour gang?” Akabayashi commented as his eyes scanned over the troublemakers. None of them appeared to be carrying firearms which, to the two yakuza, significantly reduced their actual threat. “Blue Squares by the looks of it.” He scratched his head and chuckled. “Well their leader never was the smartest...:”

Shiki pressed the call button on his phone, placing it on the table and conveniently dropping a napkin over the upper two-thirds of it, leaving the mic uncovered.

“My boys are gonna come around to your tables, folks. And yer gonna go ahead and deposit all your valuables into their bags. Got it? That includes phones, jewelry, wallets, purses, everything.” Shiki’s eyes scanned over the thugs as they moved around the room, holding out bags to the confused and scared guests.

“Looks like maybe thirty of them total in the ballroom.” Shiki spoke quietly, not wanting to draw attention from the gang members, hoping the phone’s mic would pick up his voice. “No firearms. Knives, and various improvised weapons. The leader has a sledgehammer. Power has been cut to the building, including back up.”

“I heard you lazy assholes invited the yakuza to your party.” Ran continued his monologue as he moved toward the head table where the Mashitas were sitting along with several members of both the CCCJ and the Constitutional Democratic Party. Unlike their guests, the Mashitas seemed quite calm in the face of this sudden attack. “Where are they? I wanna meet these scary bastards face to face.” Shiki let out a sigh as Akabayashi shifted in his seat.

“Are we actually being called out by some coloured punk?” The redhead asked, amusement in his voice. He stood, leaning on his cane. Shiki gave Akabayashi a flat look then stood as well. He doubted Izaya had planned for this.

“One, two… Where’s the kid?” The leader of the Blue Squares demanded, pointing his hammer at the two of them. “I got a score to settle with him in particular.” Shiki’s brows shot up and he glanced at Akabayashi, who appeared equally confused by Ran’s statement. “That punk is a great example of why you yakuza are a failure. You’re no different than these rich fucks now. You pretend to be badasses but you’re really just more corrupt businessmen stealing money from honest people, aren’t you? Not that I mind stealing…” The gang leader sneered at the assembled guests. “Or any other crime for that matter. I’m not a hypocrite. I just hate that people like you all pretend you’re so innocent while you do it. Buncha rich assholes. So where is he? That Orihara heir who pretends he’s all charity and social change while he charges people for fucking information of all things.”

Akabayashi chuckled at the accusation. “Ah, man, I thought maybe the kid actually did something to you personally. But no, you’re just mad that he made a business out of information? Instead of what, mugging people in back alleys?” Shiki jabbed Akabayashi in the ribs in warning to not provoke the gang leader but it seemed it was too late.

“Shut up, old man!” Ran snapped at the redhead. “I’ve heard about you. A real badass in your youth. The kind of guy I looked up to. Then you got with the Awakusu and turned into another lazy businessman. When’s the last time you actually used your fists instead of hiding behind that proper image? Bet it was after you lost your eye. Lost your guts along with it.”

“Sounds like this kid needs a lesson in manners.” Akabayashi replied, grin widening into something savage.

"Don't do anything stupid." Shiki warned as Akabayashi began to move toward Ran. One of the Blue Squares attempted to get in his way, swinging a metal pipe but Akabayashi simply blocked it with his cane, giving the thug a shove that sent him to the floor.

"You better sit down, grandpa." Ran sneered at Akabayashi. "Unless you want someone getting hurt cause of you. Like these pretty girls here." He came up behind one of the young girls, who gave a terrified shriek as he hauled her to her feet by her hair. Akabayashi stopped moving but the dangerous look in his eye only grew more intense.

"See that's just not right, treating a lady that way." He commented casually. "I can understand why you might be bitter at these old rich guys but what did the lady do to deserve such rude treatment?"

"Just another rich whore, acting like she's better than everyone." Ran leaned in, sneering at the terrified girl. "Bet you've fucked a dozen like her."

"He really is beyond tolerable." Shiki muttered, noticing that the thugs had collected the valuables from most of the tables. Even as he was thinking of ways to stall, the lights flickered back on and the door flew open, police filing in. Ran's eyes widened in surprise and he let the girl go.

"We were set up!" He growled, moving toward the doors on the opposite end of the room that led to the kitchens. Chaos broke out as the thugs tried to flee but that didn't stop Akabayashi from giving chase, following him into the hallway and levelling a brutal strike at his knee, causing Ran to pitch forward, howling in pain. The police weren't too far behind so the best he could do was level a savage kick to the side of Ran's head, sending him sprawling, before an officer rushed past him to arrest the delinquent.

Shiki stayed back, grabbing the nearest fleeing thug and giving him a solid punch to the gut, watching him fold over, groaning. He glanced around, wondering where Izaya was and if he'd gotten what he was after. The raven was probably revelling in the chaos he had caused.

"Looking for me?" Came the familiar and clearly amused voice of the very person in his thoughts, along with the slide of a hand over his ass. He shot Izaya a flat look, shifting away from the raven's grope.

"Do behave." He chided as one of the officers approached them.

"Orihara-san, Detective Kuzuhara would like to speak with you, and you as well Shiki-san."

"Kuzuhara?" Shiki replied, looking at Izaya. The raven shrugged.

"Of course, lead the way, officer." He replied with a polite - and very fake - smile.

The Detective was standing outside the dining room, speaking with the Mashitas as they approached.

"Orihara-san I have reason to believe that you were aware of the plans of the Blue Squares colour gang." The Detective accused, turning his cold gaze on the raven.

"I see. I didn't realize you'd been reassigned to the gang task force, Kuzuhara." Izaya replied with a smirk creeping onto his lips. "What could possibly give you the idea that I knew about this?"

"Your absence from the ballroom at the time of the attack is highly suspicious." He pointed out. "As well, Izumii appeared to be here specifically for you."

"That's very weak supposition. I expected better from the man who leads the anti-yakuza task force." Izaya's smirk grew and Shiki arched a brow at the raven. "I do hate to disappoint you but I was using the washroom when the attack happened. There was even another gentlemen there with me when the power went out. As for Izumii Ran, I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Izumii's ranting seemed to be more about attacking Orihara-san's status and family than a personal attack." Shiki commented, eyeing the hostile detective coldly. “Rather than harassing a guest of the party, perhaps you should be interrogating the leader of the gang?”

“How did you receive an invite? Did you bribe the hosts?” Kuzuhara continued, staring back coldly.

“Detective, both the Orihara and the Awakusu received invitations because they have shown interest in charitable organizations before. This is a fundraiser after all.” Chiyo interrupted. “If it hadn’t been for Orihara-san contacting the police, that robbery may very well have succeeded.”

“Not to mention the assistance of Shiki-san in providing us with information on what was happening inside.” Detective Takahashi added, joining the conversation. He turned his gaze to Shiki, bowing respectfully to him. “Thanks to your phone call, we were better able to respond to the threat.” Kuzuhara’s eyes narrowed, frustration clear on his face at the defense of the two yakuza. He turned and stormed away without another word.

“Oops. It seems I made him cranky.” Izaya smirked at the retreating detective, clearly enjoying putting Kuzuhara in his place.

“Dunno what fire you lit under his ass, Orihara, but I’d watch myself if I were you. Kuzuhara’s like a dog with a bone.” Takahashi warned him. “Don’t go anywhere. I need to get statements from you both once we round up all the colours.” He turned away as his men were hauling a handcuffed Izumii past them.

Ran’s gaze settled on Izaya and he sneered. “It was you, wasn’t it?” Izaya gave Ran a smirk but didn’t respond. He turned away to see Akabayashi approaching.

“Never a dull moment when you’re around, Orihara.” Akabayashi commented with a grin. “A shame the police had to get involved. I would have enjoyed personally taking care of that piece of shit.”

“No need to stoop to his level.” Izaya replied with a grin. “He’ll be spending quite a while behind bars for this.”

“Seems you’ve made an enemy of him, though.” Shiki observed but the raven just shrugged, obviously pleased with how things turned out. Shiki had to admit that Izaya’s plan went quite smoothly; the raven really did have a head for tactics and a skill for manipulating the odds in his favour but unlike Izaya, found it concerning that Ran was now fixated on the heir.

~

“From that shit-eating grin, I assume you got the book you were after?” Shiki asked as he drove Izaya back to the raven’s apartment.

“Indeed.” Izaya reached into the glove box and pulled out the mystery book, eyes shining with obvious delight. “I was worried about the timing, whether or not to call the police before I went for it or after, but everything worked out. Akabayashi thinks we were just there to set up the robbery and arrest?"

"For now but I suspect he was still trying to figure out why you were so interested in the library." Shiki replied with a frown. "So, tell me about this case."

"You recall that I was the one to deliver the leopard to Midori?" Izaya began with a smirk. "That's when she asked me to look into her lineage. She doesn't know who her parents are and has been taken care of by her aunt for as long as she can remember. Her aunt has refused to tell her anything about her parentage or the rest of her family."

"Why wouldn't she just go to a regular private detective? Your fees are exorbitant."

"I wondered the same thing until I started looking into it. Their family records are either buried or nonexistent. What I have been able to dig up has been strangely inconsistent and I wasn't getting very far until I found out that the Mashitas kept a record. To be honest, I thought it was a long shot, just a rumour I was following after all."

Shiki raised an eyebrow. "We did all this so you could follow a rumour?"

Izaya smirked, eyes narrowing in amusement. "Well, there was no other way to confirm it except to get inside." Izaya pointed out. "Even if I'd failed to get the book, everything else that was achieved was still useful. Calculated risk."

"Hmm. So what would you have done if this book wasn't there?"

"I was thinking I might get to know the Mashidas better but that has more risk to it, as Midori doesn't want them to know that she's looking."

"Fair enough. I don't doubt your dedication to your work but you seem particularly interested in this case."

"Yes, it's quite a mystery, but I have a suspicion there might be something of the supernatural in that family."

"Supernatural?" Shiki cocked a brow at that, glancing at the raven.

"Yes." Izaya replied firmly, eyes narrowing in consideration. "I can't really say what yet, but it's not that surprising, is it? That the eccentric rich couple of Ikebukuro might have a connection with something abnormal?"

"No, it's not. Especially in Ikebukuro." Shiki agreed thoughtfully. "And it's not surprising that you would chase a mystery like that either but I'm curious, does your family know that you chase this kind of thing?"

Izaya gave Shiki a smirk and a shrug. "It's not something I felt the need to share. They know I'm interested in mythology and other things that cover inhuman creatures but more as an anthropological study, I think. Their focus is on human things, after all."

"I see. I admit this case does sound interesting." Shiki said as he pulled up in front of Izaya's apartment. "Let me know what you find."

"Ohhh I didn't know Haruya was into mysteries." Izaya teased with a smirk as he got out of the car. "That's privileged information. Bring me payment. I accept all sorts of trades." He added in a teasing voice, winking at the executive.

Shiki gave him an amused smile. "I'll keep that in mind."

Chapter Text

“Where’s the troublemaker?” Akabayashi asked as he sauntered into Shiki’s office at the art gallery.

“Do I look like his secretary?” Shiki replied without even looking up from his work.

“What, you don’t keep tabs on your pet?” Akabayashi continued with a smirk, taking a seat on the couch. “I hear a bunch of those Blue Squares were released cause they were kids.”

Shiki put down his pen and raised his head to look at Akabayashi. “Yes, about a third of them were under fifteen and it seems the consensus for the high school ones is leniency. As I understand it, though, Izumii is being held due to the severity of his crimes along with some of the older members. It seems the police have quite a bit more on him than just the attempted robbery.”

“Orihara’s doing, no doubt,” Akabayashi commented. “What do they have on him?”

“That I don’t know the details of. Assault was one of the primary ones though. I’m sure Orihara has the details.”

“Mikiya was complaining about it this morning. He saw the news clip where the Mashitas thanked you and Orihara for your assistance in preventing Izumii from succeeding.”

“Why would he be complaining about something that makes us look better in the media?” Shiki raised a brow.

“Oh, just that he wasn’t the one who had attended so he received no credit for what happened.”

“I would hope he would appreciate the benefits to the Awakusu rather than looking for personal accolades. And be appreciative that I convinced him to allow a representative to attend.”

“You know Mikiya. He’s claiming credit for sending you as if it was his idea all along.”

“Tch. Of course he is. What a useless man.”

Akabayashi smirked at Shiki’s blunt assessment of the heir. “Tell me how you really feel, Shiki.” He teased, earning a flat look from the other executive.

“You and I both know that the way he is now if he were to take over, the Awakusu would suffer. He already has the family split. The only reason there hasn’t been any outright action against him is that Dougen is still in control.”

“So? You going to respect Dougen’s decision to make him heir? Or are you planning to oppose Mikiya?”

Shiki gave Akabayashi a considering look and an icy smile. “What about you? You haven’t been a member that long and really have no loyalty to either Dougen or Mikiya. I expect you’ll choose whichever path benefits you the most?” He threw the question back at the redhead.

“Hey, I got respect for the old man.” Akabayashi defended with a grin. “But aren’t we all just looking out for ourselves in the end? Can’t say I’m overly eager to see Aozaki in that position, though. I don’t see that benefiting me at all .”

“So you’d support Mikiya just to block Aozaki? Is your little rivalry really worth more than the stability of the family?”

“No, but my membership in the family may not remain if he takes over,” Akabayashi replied with a shrug. Shiki nodded in acknowledgement of Akabayashi’s point. “And I didn’t say I’d support Mikiya specifically.” The redhead added with a smirk. “There are other potential candidates.” He rose and headed to the door, leaving Shiki to consider his parting comment.

~

“Thank you for your assistance, Orihara-san.” The young teen actually bowed to him and Izaya couldn’t help but to smirk in amusement. “The information you’ve been providing Saki with was more than enough but actually removing the Blue Squares was more than we could have hoped for.”

“Didn’t I tell you, Masaomi?” Saki said with a smile. “Izaya only wants what’s best for Ikebukuro.”

“Ahahaha, I think that might be a bit far, but I hardly want a man like Izumii running around. I’d much rather assist a more noble group like yours, Kida-kun.” Izaya flattered the young man, giving him a friendly smile. “It’s good to finally meet you in person. Saki has told me much about you. Idealistic and ambitious to start a gang at your age.”

Masaomi preened at Izaya’s praise, just as any young man would, desiring acknowledgement for even the smallest things. “The Yellow Scarves have a purpose.” He confided to Izaya. “We aren’t just another group of kids pretending to be badass.”

“Yes, I can see that.” Izaya agreed. “You have much potential and with the Blue Squares dealt with, very little to stand in your way. If you ever need my assistance, feel free to contact me. Saki has my number.”

“You’ve already done so much for us,” Masaomi replied. “With the Blues Squares gone, I don’t think we will need your help anymore.”

“It was nothing.” The raven smirked. “Just keep my offer in mind should anything else come up.”

~

Izaya was leaning over his desk, studying something that had clearly completely captured his attention when Shiki entered the apartment. He took the time to remove his shoes, hang up his overcoat and shed his suit jacket, then carried the takeout he'd picked up to the kitchen.

"I smell Italian," Izaya commented without turning around. "Did you bring me dinner, Haruya?"

"Of course not. It's nearly eight. I assumed you would have already eaten." Shiki deadpanned as he approached the desk. He knew full well the raven hadn't eaten yet, in fact, suspected that the raven probably hadn't eaten all day. The sound Izaya's stomach made in response drew an amused smile to his lips and he changed his assessment. The raven probably hadn't eaten anything substantial all week.

Izaya turned to Shiki, ignoring his traitorous stomach and sliding his arms up around the other's neck. "How awful." He pouted. "And here I was thinking you cared."

Shiki slid a hand around Izaya's waist, gazing past the informant to the desk. "Well, there was some concern that perhaps you'd starved yourself to death. I haven't received a single dirty text from you all week. Photos?" He inquired of the pictures spread out across Izaya's desk.

Izaya snickered. "Don't worry, I'll make it up to you." He purred in response, tilting his head upward to catch Shiki's lips in a kiss. Shiki relented to the kiss, chuckling when it was rudely interrupted by another strangled gurgling noise.

"Eat first. Then tell me what's been keeping you so busy. I assume this is in relation to the Mashita case?" He released Izaya, moving back to the kitchen to unpack the takeout.

The raven followed, grabbing utensils and drinks. "Yes!" He replied with excitement. "And I was right!" He traded Shiki a drink for a takeout container, grinning excitedly. "The family lineage in the book is quite broad at first glance, what you'd expect from any old family that actually keeps track of these things. It goes right back to the Meiji Restoration, in fact, which is where it appears they separated from the main family."

Shiki picked up his fork, stabbed it into a tortellini and promptly shoved it into the raven's open mouth. "I said eat first."

Izaya furiously chewed and swallowed, giving Shiki an affronted glare. He snatched the fork from the executive before he could try to force feed him. " Fiiiine." He replied, quickly eating several more bites before trying to talk again. Shiki watched in amusement as Izaya clearly fought an internal struggle between his hunger and his desire to share his mystery, eventually giving in and attacking the pasta voraciously.

"I'm assuming, then, that those are photos of various family members." Shiki ventured after Izaya had finished half the container.

"Mmm." Was the response as he finished his current mouthful and took a sip of his drink. "Yes! As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted… This branch family is made up of five siblings and their family lines. Which you would think would result in many more branches as time went on multiple children, marriages and what not. But this lineage runs very close to the original. Never more than one child born to each sibling and that child only ever had one child and so on. So the lineage is very direct.”

“How is that possible?” Shiki asked, intrigued by the puzzle Izaya was revealing. “Selective breeding? Only registering the official heir in the lineage?”

Izaya grinned at Shiki’s questions, nodding. “I wondered the same thing and both of those were thoughts I had as well, among others. I pulled the records on every person listed in the family tree, at least the ones that had records.” Izaya paused to take a few more bites of his pasta then stood and moved back toward the desk, expecting Shiki would follow. “The thing is, the records are very basic. Obviously, as we’ve become more advanced, our record keeping and tracking of citizens has become more accurate but even the current family has only the most basic records. Like, if it’s required, there’s a record but beyond that, their paper trail is nonexistent. I’m absolutely positive they have someone cleaning up their footprints in media and digitally too.”

Shiki rose and followed Izaya to the desk, listening as he continued detailing his discoveries, smiling at Izaya’s excitement. “So this family has been covering up their existence for centuries?”

Izaya nodded exuberantly as he picked up three photos and handed them to Shiki. The executive looked at each of them in turn, frowning as he carefully studied the images. The clothing and the quality of the images clearly showed the difference in time between them but the woman in all three photos was identical. “You can’t mean to tell me this is the same woman?” Shiki ventured, staring at the photos. Izaya took them back and handed him another set, this time of a man. There were five photos in this set and once again, the man looked the same in everyone. Not similar, as expected from family. Identical. “A family of immortal people?”

Izaya grinned wide. “Yes! It’s unbelievable but all the evidence I’ve found just lends credence to it. They moved a lot, from what I can tell, and the siblings went separate ways so their records are all in different areas of Japan. I assume to keep from being found out.”

“They would have to. When put together like this, their secret becomes very obvious. The best way to avoid someone like you looking into it would be to avoid attention at all costs. Rich recluses certainly work for the Mashitas. I imagine they are also sitting on centuries worth of accumulated money.”

“Oh yes. I suspect their visible finances are only a fraction of the wealth they are likely to have access to. The entire branch family seems to have a shared family home in Nagoya that dates quite far back. I sent someone to look into it.”

“So what are you going to do with this?” Shiki asked, curious about Izaya’s intentions. “Blackmail them?”

Izaya gave Shiki an amused look and shook his head. “For what, their money? No, I’m not entirely sure yet, but it will likely involve looking into them more. The only requirement Midori gave me was to research her lineage and provide her with the results but those results are completely inconsistent with what she’s been led to believe by her Aunt. If I give her only the lineage and not the other information I’ve found, I’m curious to see what she does with it.”

“She doesn’t fit in with the rest of this lineage…” Shiki mused, picking up a picture of Mashita Chiyo. “But she does share similar features so she is related to them somehow.”

“Yes, I believe she may be illegitimate.” Izaya pursed his lips in thought. “She isn’t included in their lineage, so I wonder if one of these siblings didn’t have an affair and her aunt is hiding that information from her to keep her from learning the truth about her family. Though that begs the question of whether or not Midori shares in whatever it is that has granted these people immortality.”

“Definitely an interesting question. You don’t know yet, do you?” Shiki asked, earning a slight scowl from Izaya.

“No, unfortunately, I have very little to go off in regard to that aspect of this mystery. I need to look into it more, but quietly, so as to not arouse their suspicion.”

“Be careful, Izaya. A secret like that is just the kind that people might be inclined to kill over.” Shiki warned. Not that he didn’t think Izaya was aware of the risks, but because he knew Izaya would ignore them in pursuit of the knowledge he was after.

“Yes, I’m aware,” Izaya replied with a grin, leaning in and snaking a finger around Shiki’s chain. “Discovering the secret to immortality would be rather useless if I died before I could obtain it.”

Shiki snorted. “And what if it turns out to be something you can’t obtain?”

“Well then I guess I’m stuck being mortal like the rest of you,” Izaya replied with a laugh, tugging the chain as he tilted his head up, seeking a kiss from the taller man. As their lips parted after a long moment, Izaya murmured. “But imagine what we could do if we were immortal…”

“No small ambitions for you, I see,” Shiki replied with a chuckle.

“Small ambitions are for small people. We are not those people.”

~

It was nearly midnight when Izaya’s phone went off, drawing him out of sleep. He untangled himself from Shiki to grab the device, staring at the screen with a frown. Shiki shifted to peer over Izaya’s shoulder, irritated at being woken when he’d only just fallen asleep but also curious who would be calling the heir this late at night.

“Dotachin,” Izaya answered, voice serious. His friend would not be calling him at this hour unless it was important.

“Izaya, Izumi kidnapped your girl. The one in the Yellow Scarves. She’s pretty hurt.” Izaya’s eyes widened in surprise at Kyohei’s news.

“Izumi was in jail. How could he have kidnapped her?” Izaya asked and the words drew Shiki’s attention.

“I don’t know what happened with the cops but he was released earlier this evening. He called a meeting of the Blue Squares and I was concerned so I went. He set up a meeting with the Yellow Scarves, saying he wanted to make an alliance with them.”

“And the kid accepted, didn’t he?” Izaya muttered with a groan.

“Yeah, the Yellow Scarves met with the Blue Squares but there was no talk. The Squares went straight to attacking the Scarves and in the chaos, he grabbed her and ran. My guys intercepted him but not before he’d already hurt her. Walker lit up the van he was using so he’s on foot and probably sporting some pretty bad burns but he’s got it in for you and he’s probably going to go after anyone he thinks is associated with you.”

“That won’t do. I suppose I will have to deal with this directly then. Thanks for the information, Dotachin.” Izaya hung up the phone and sat up, running a hand through his hair.

“Izumi was released?” Shiki inquired, also sitting up and reaching for his own phone. “Considering the charges, I can only suspect corruption as the reason. It makes no sense otherwise.”

Izaya nodded his head in agreement as he got up and began to get dressed. “Someone also gave him the information on Saki being my agent.”

“Only twenty and making enemies left and right,” Shiki commented as he buttoned up his shirt. “I assume you’re going to call him out before this gets any uglier?”

“I’d rather not but it seems the police are useless at the moment,” Izaya replied with irritation. “The ones who might actually be useful are likely too busy cleaning up the gang fight he started to track him down. But I know enough about him to have an idea of where he might be headed.”

“So you’re going to corner him and then what? He isn’t going to listen to anything you have to say.”

“He’s already injured. I doubt he’ll be up for a fight. I’ll contact Takahashi.” He drifted out of the bedroom, making his way downstairs as he dialed the number of his police contact.

“Orihara. What the fuck do you want?” Daisuke grumbled into the phone.

“It’s more what I wanted. Why was Izumi released?”

“I have no idea. Didn’t hear about it until after the fighting broke out.”

“I see. So whoever did it sidestepped you. Well, I have a vested interest in seeing him back behind bars as he seems to be feeling a bit homicidal toward me.”

“With the mess he made tonight, as soon as we catch him, he’ll be back behind bars and staying there.”

“Yes, but do you have any idea where he is?”

“Unfortunately not.”

“How convenient that I do. Keep your phone close, I’ll call you back in a bit.” He hung up before the detective could say anything more. Shiki was standing at the top of the stairs, having a conversation of his own. He joined Izaya once he was done, giving the heir an irritated look.

"I’ve told Aozaki to get some of his men out there to help deal with Izumi’s lackeys. Your Yellow Scarves are heavily outmatched. Most of them are kids while Izumi’s got teens and adults involved.” The disapproval in his voice was clear and it brought a frown to Izaya’s face.

“I wanted him off the streets for a reason. Since he took over the Blue Squares, he was recruiting more adults and the gang was moving from another group of rebellious kids tussling with each other to more serious crimes.”

“Where do you think he is?”

“I think he went home.”

“Isn’t that the first place they’d look for him?”

“Oh, I’m sure his parents wouldn’t know he came home. Not that they’d care anyway. But his brother would probably hide him and he doesn’t have a lot of options.”

“Let’s go, then.” Shiki moved toward the door. Izaya followed, chewing on his lower lip. While it was irritating, he also couldn’t help but to be amused by the whole situation. An enemy attacking him from the shadows, using the same tactics he would have used. Izumi’s reactions to the situation, and Kida’s as well. Unfortunate that Saki got caught in the middle but Dotachin’s rescue - another unexpected thing. All the ripples and reactions made him grin in delight.

~

Izumi’s house was dark when they approached, having parked a block away and walked to avoid notice. They paused on the opposite side of the street with Izaya looking around the quiet residential street suspiciously.

“Seems your hunch was wrong,” Shiki spoke quietly, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it.

“I’m not so sure it was,” Izaya replied as people began to materialize from the shadowed alleys around them. Shiki turned, putting his back to Izaya’s as six thugs wearing blue approached, carrying pipes or two-by-fours.

“I was just gonna run after I grabbed my shit but my little brother suggested you’d come looking for me.” Izumi’s irritating voice sounded out and Izaya’s gaze turned to stare him. Walker had really done a number on him; the burns across his face were ugly and would definitely leave scars. “Look at that, he was right. Guess I can take care of you after all.” He levelled his hammer at the two of them, grinning sadistically. “I’ve wanted to wipe that smug grin off your face from the moment you started playing the media.”

Izaya’s grin widened and his eyes narrowed in amusement. “Jealousy is such an ugly emotion. Makes people do all kinds of unreasonable things.” He purred, sliding a knife out of his sleeve. “You’ve truly exceeded my expectations, Izumi Ran. I deeply appreciate the entertainment you’ve provided me with tonight! Reminding me that humans can do such unexpected things! But, as amusing as this has been, I’m going to need you to fall in line with my plans now.”

Izumi responded by laughing at Izaya’s arrogance. “I’ve got you outnumbered, Orihara. Even with that little switchblade and your Awakusu bodyguard, you don’t stand a chance.

“Bodyguard?” Izaya snickered. “Shiki-san you’ve been demoted.”

“Interesting. Seems I missed that memo,” Shiki replied. “Must have gotten lost along with the memo that my position is now dictated by a street punk.”

“Shut up, old man. You’re just another washed up hypocrite.”

“For someone who appears to be all talk, that’s not much of an insult.” Shiki took a drag off his smoke, appearing completely calm despite being clearly outnumbered and having no weapon. It made Izumi pause, then shrug.

“Go ahead, boys. We’re gonna teach these two a lesson.”

The other thugs grinned and moved in, too arrogant in their numbers and their youthful brashness to be concerned by how calm their targets appeared to be. The first one charged at Shiki, swinging his makeshift club wildly, all force and momentum. Shiki smirked as the thug charged, simply crouching and using the idiot’s own momentum to toss him. The thug landed on his back, the wind knocked out of him but managed to scramble back to his feet. Witnessing that, the other’s closed in, shouting.

Izaya backed away giving the executive room. Instead of attacking directly, he chose to provide support of a sort to Shiki. While the executive got hands-on with the thugs, Izaya dodged, stabbed, and occasionally snatched up dropped weapons. He wasn’t trying to kill, of course, so no deep wounds or organ shots which was kind of boring. Watching Shiki make complete fools out of them without actually taking on an offensive stance at all though, that was totally worth it.

And it seemed his little show had caught Izumi’s attention too. The gang leader was watching as Shiki threw his thugs around with barely an effort, appearing calm and collected the whole time. That calmness was particularly frightening when Shiki savagely twisted limbs and you could hear joints pop, followed by gurgled wails of pain.

Izumi finally made a move, rushing Shiki while the executive was busy with one of the lackeys. He swung the hammer in a sideways arc, aiming to connect with Shiki’s side but the executive was aware of his presence and stepped back. Izumi was expecting the avoidance at this point and attempted to surprise Shiki with a quick left hook but the executive merely grabbed his wrist before he could connect and twisted savagely. Izumi couldn’t help but follow the line of movement, driven by the pain of joints twisting in ways they were not meant to and was driven to his knees, clenching his teeth. Shiki kept hold of the arm, planting his food on Izumi’s back and pressing him down against the pavement.

Izaya couldn’t help put to laugh at the sight, pulling out his phone as he did. Izumi’s men were scattered around, groaning and trying to regain their feet but hesitant to move against the executive.

The rapid photo click of Izaya’s phone drew a flat look from Shiki. “Must you?”

“Oh yes, this moment deserves photographic evidence. To remind me of what a secret badass you are.” Izaya replied with a smirk. He then dialed Takahashi’s number and waited for the Detective to answer.

“Orihara,” Takahashi answered. “This better be something useful.”

“Why on earth didn’t your men think to check Izumi’s house Detective?” He asked with mockery in his voice.

“Because they’re busy rounding up far too many stupid kids. Are you telling me Izumi’s there?”

“Oh yes, he’s here. With some of his boys. Izumi, would you like to say hi to the nice detective?” Izaya leaned down as if to offer the phone to the thug but Izumi just growled at him.

“Sorry detective seems he’s not in the mood to talk. Probably has something to do with the position he’s in. Looks quite painful. You should probably come rescue this delinquent from my coworker before he gets bored and does something permanent.” Shiki sighed and rolled his eyes at the raven.

“I’m sending the nearest car. Won’t be long. Don’t go anywhere Orihara.” The detective hung up on him.

Izaya pocketed his phone and smirked. “Cops should be here shortly. So sorry Izumi but you’re not escaping jail this time.” Izumi opened his mouth to speak but Shiki just jerked his arm further back, pulling a gurgled howl from the gang leader. Izaya turned to count the remaining thugs, noting that a couple had managed to get to their feet and limp away. “Time to go, I think.”

Shiki gave Izumi’s arm a quick jerk the audible pop followed by another howl as the executive let go. Izaya watched Izumi’s arm fall limply smirking in delight at Shiki’s savagery. “Yes better for us not to be around for their arrest.” Shiki agreed, straightening his jacket and turning in the direction of the car. Sirens were already starting to sound as they walked away, sliding into one of the back lanes to avoid being seen. They paused about halfway down as flashing lights and sirens passed the alley entrance and Izaya took the opportunity to press against Shiki, sliding his hands up along the lapels of his jacket.

“That was… enlightening.” He purred looking up at Shiki in the dim light. “To see more of your terrifying reputation in person. How do you manage to always be so calm and in control?”

Shiki could feel the press of Izaya’s body against his, lips drawing up into a smirk at the raven’s apparent excitement. He tangled his fingers in Izaya’s hair, tugging his head back as he leaned closer. Lips brushed the raven’s ear lobe, breath warm against his ear as he spoke. “By finding other ways to let go and relieve tension.” Izaya’s hands tightened around the lapels, turning his head to claim a kiss but Shiki tugged harder, drawing a gasp from him. Teeth grazed over his neck before sinking into flesh sharply. He moaned at the feeling and pressed closer, grinding up against the executive. “Get back to the car.” Izaya groaned in disappointment as Shiki released his hair and grabbed his shoulders, turning him away and giving him a shove. “I’m not interested in getting noticed by the police.”

They made their way back to Izaya’s apartment and this time it was Shiki who was pushing Izaya up against the wall, hands sliding up along his ribs and pushing his shirt up over his head roughly before the raven had even gotten his coat off. As he struggled to remove the tangle of clothing, Shiki trailed wet heat and sharp pain across his chest, distracting and teasing, drawing a groan from his lips. By the time he managed to free his arms and toss aside jacket and shirt, Shiki had his pants undone, dragging them down off his hips as the executive knelt. Izaya snaked one hand through Shiki’s short hair as his cock was gripped tightly then engulfed in wet heat. “Shi- Haaa!” He moaned at the feeling, tilting his head back to press against the wall. “Haruya!” He moaned as Shiki dragged his tongue along the base of his cock then flicked over the tip in a tease before sliding back down again. As he worked Izaya’s cock with lips and tongue, he slid a hand up between the raven’s legs to cup his balls. Izaya let his weight rest against the wall, the impatience with which Shiki was driving his body a surprise. The persistent tug and pull of hands and mouth, skilled teasing that played his body so easily, quickly had him quivering and gasping in orgasm. Shiki drew himself up, sliding a hand around his waist as he leaned in to claim Izaya’s lips in a hungry kiss, tongues tangling and teeth nipping as if he was trying to devour Izaya.

“Up.” He commanded and Izaya obeyed, wrapping his legs around Shiki’s waist. He carried Izaya past his desk, pressing his back against the cool glass of his windows. Izaya gasped at the feeling as the executive set him down and turned to his desk, pulling out the lube. “Turn around.” Another short command, eyes full of desire. Izaya couldn’t resist obeying - didn’t even want to - with that heated gaze on him. The press of cool glass against his skin only served to draw attention to the heat of his own body, and Shiki’s pressed against him. Slick fingers probed insistently, pushing up inside him as impatiently as they had driven him to come earlier. He whined at the rough stretch, the sharp burn of resistant muscle reawakening his desire. “Arms up.” Shiki slid one hand over the line of Izaya’s arm as he obeyed, drawing it over the other and pinning them against the glass at the wrist. Teeth grazed his neck as fingers continued to work his body open, leaving him panting as he stared at their reflections in the glass. Shiki’s gaze met his, giving the raven a smirk as he traded fingers for his cock, watching the raven’s eyes widen at the feeling. Strained cries escaped his lips as Shiki began to move immediately, making him ride the line between pleasure and pain until his body eased into it. Shiki wrapped one arm around his waist while the other slid across his chest to wrap around his throat. Shiki’s gaze locked on his as he continued to move, keeping a tight hold on Izaya’s body as it yielded to his desire, gave Izaya the unsettling feeling of prey caught by a predator. Rather than nervousness, the thought excited him, drawing a flush of desire to his cheeks as he arched his back in response.

“Haruya…” He moaned the other’s name like a prayer, trembling as Shiki’s rapid thrusts worked over his sweet spot with a force that bordered on too much. He could feel it low in his gut, the pleasure that was building rapidly, causing his muscles to tighten in response.

“That’s it. Come for me, Izaya.” Another command he couldn’t resist even if he wanted to. His body was Shiki’s to play with, Shiki’s to command, and he wanted nothing more than to give that over to him. He cried out as he came, hips jerking against Shiki’s hold, head tilted back and eyes fluttering closed. The deep thrusts continued as he trembled, culminating in Shiki’s own climax inside him. Shiki’s grip loosened slowly, possessive hands reluctantly sliding away and Izaya felt a fluttering of loss at their absence. He drew himself up as Shiki pulled back, turning to face his lover with a sated smirk.

“If this is how you relieve tension…” The raven couldn’t help but to comment. “Feel free to call me whenever you’re feeling a bit tense.”

Shiki gave the raven a smirk of his own, sliding a hand into his hair. “What a kind offer. If only you weren’t half the reason I’m tense, to begin with.”

Izaya slid arms around Shiki’s neck then followed with legs around his waist. “You can’t honestly tell me you didn’t enjoy tonight.” He purred, eyes narrowing mischievously.

Shiki slid his hands down to cup the raven’s ass as Izaya jumped up. “I may have gotten some satisfaction out of it.” He admitted as he carried Izaya toward the bedroom. “However-” he added sternly. “The point is to avoid these situations.”

Izaya mock-pouted as Shiki dropped him onto the bed then disappeared into the bathroom. “Well, I had fun tonight.” Shiki returned with a washcloth, tossing it at him.

“We’ve already established that your idea of fun is everyone else’s idea of stress.”

“I have clear evidence otherwise,” Izaya replied with a smirk as he got up to clean himself and toss the towel in the laundry basket. “That moment in the alley proved to me that you were having fun. You get excited when you fight, don’t you?”

Shiki eyed the raven with amusement as he joined him on the bed. “Pretty sure you were the one with the hard-on, Izaya.” He replied as he lay down. Izaya turned off the light and joined him, curling up to his side.

“I know what I felt.”

Chapter Text

"Iza-nii it's snowing!" Mairu yelled, bursting into his room without regard for such things as privacy and manners. 

"White." Kururi echoed from behind her sister. 

" Go away clones. " Izaya hissed in irritation, his reading interrupted. 

Mairu grabbed his arm, tugging on it insistently. "Cooome seeee! It hardly ever snows!" 

"Pretty," Kururi added, grabbing his book and looking at it. 

"It's just snow," Izaya replied with a scowl. "Give that back, it's above your reading level, anyway. No pictures."

"Soooo mean! We want to show you something! Your stupid book can wait. It's probably porn anyway." Mairu retorted, stamping her foot. 

"Mystery." Kururi looked at her brother, tilting her head slightly as she gave him a curious look. 

"Since when do you read mystery novels?" Mairu grabbed the book from her sister. "Who's Keigo Higashino?" 

"Author." Kururi pointed out unhelpfully.

Izaya snatched the book back, glaring at his sisters. "How do you even know what porn is?" He retorted as Mairu climbed onto his bed and grabbed his arm again. "And I read lots of different books."

"Whatever. Iza-nii's a closet nerd." Mairu declared. "Now come outside!" 

"Smart," Kururi replied. 

"Will you leave me alone if I do?" 

"Yeah yeah."

"Maybe."

"Fine." Izaya let Mairu pull him up, following the girls downstairs and out to the garden. The snow was still falling heavily but the girls had left tracks all over while building snowmen. 

"See? We made Snow Oriharas!" Mairu announced proudly and Izaya couldn't help but to chuckle at the misshapen snow family.

"You stole my coat!" He protested, pointing to the Izaya snowman. "Who's that supposed to be beside me?" 

"That's Akabayashi and Akane." Mairu declared as if it was obvious. 

"Oji-san." Kururi nodded. 

Izaya snickered. “Nice. Send him a picture, I’m sure he’ll love it. Is that all? Can I go back to reading?”

“No,” Mairu announced with a smirk that was a bit too much like Izaya’s own. “Mom actually sent us to tell you to get ready for the party.”

“Hours.” Kururi nodded.

“Party…” Izaya pulled out his phone to check the time then sighed. “You didn’t think that was more important than your snowmen?”

“Course not. Besides, you don’t need that much time to get ready.”

Kururi shook her head in dissent, looking at Izaya with a faint smile. " Hours."

Izaya arched a brow at the quieter sister then grinned. "Shouldn't you two be getting ready too? Mom won't be happy if you're not ready on time."

"Mom won't be happy if any of her children are late." Kyouko chimed in from the doorway and though her tone was serious, there was an amused smile on her lips as she watched her children. "It won't do to be late to the corporate New Year's party, as the hosts. I expect all of you to be ready to go in an hour. Especially you, Mr. Fashionably Late is My Lifestyle."

~

The Oriharas, being small and profitable, took care of their employees very well and the annual New Year's party was one such reflection of this. Every employee and their family were invited, dinner and drinks completely covered by the company, and every employee received a bonus. It was a show of appreciation that also doubled as a show of prestige, something other families didn't always do; a sign that the Oriharas put serious thought in taking care of their family.

Izaya stood beside his father near the entrance of the banquet hall they had rented for the occasion, smiling and chatting with each employee and their families as they entered, a task he understood the purpose of but had little interest in. The conversation was brief, just quick bits of 'welcome' and 'happy new year' and 'how's your family'. The equally introverted Shirou didn't seem to be much enjoying himself either but bore it with his usual stoic demeanour. 

"Honestly, this is probably the worst part of being oyabun," Shirou confessed to his son with a slight smile once the guests had all arrived. "I don't know how your mother does it but I swear, she can remember every single employee by name."

"She probably memorizes the employee roster," Izaya replied with a grin, gaze shifting to Kyouko who was, of course, smoothly making her way around the room to chat with the guests. “Maybe hires a private detective to find out about their personal lives…” 

Shirou snorted in amusement. “I wouldn’t put it past her. I honestly don’t know if I would have been nearly as successful if she hadn’t been by my side all these years.” He turned to look at his son with a grin. “I can only hope you find a partner who balances you the way your mother has always done for me. Maybe someone to remind you not to rush headlong into trouble, eh?” 

Izaya rolled his eyes. “I’m not interested in settling down, Dad.” The raven replied with amusement. “I don’t want someone who is going to hold me back and certainly not someone I’ll have to take care of.”

Shirou gave his son an equally amused look. “Does it look like your mother holds me back? Or that I take care of her?”

“Mom is unique.” Izaya pointed out, gaze shifting back to his mother. “Besides, don’t you think those kinds of attachments make you weak? Something for your enemies to target?”

“I thought about it often when I was younger. I may have even made some choices that weren’t the smartest because of how I felt about your mother. Izaya, we all have weaknesses our enemies can attack but if we deny ourselves the comfort of our loved ones, what was the point in forming the clan at all?”

“Money and power for those who had been denied that because they were different. Cast out from society, unable or unwilling to conform to its demand for uniformity.”

“Certainly, money and power are part of it. But the clan gives those very people you’re talking about a place to belong, a family.”

“Can you really say that about the Yamaguchi-gumi?” Izaya pointed out cynically. “Most of the large clans are just as lifeless as the corporations they mimic. Even the Awakusu seem to have moved away from that ideal.”

“That’s certainly a conversation worth having.” Shirou nodded in agreement. “The larger clans have moved away from their roots, I won’t argue that but that doesn’t mean we should follow them. Family before profit; this is the way we’ve always done business and we’ve outlasted many a clan. I don’t have to know the names of everyone in this room to know that each of them is a valuable part of what we’ve built and that what we’ve built has given them opportunities they might not have had without us.”

Izaya looked at his father thoughtfully, considering the words. “I’m still not interested in settling down.” He finally replied and Shirou chuckled at his response.

“I’m not expecting you to. I see the way you keep your distance from people and keep to yourself. It reminds me of myself when I was your age. I know you’re under a lot of pressure as the heir but it’s ok for you to enjoy being young, dating, and spending time with your friends too. Don't cut yourself off from the people around you for the sake of work. The business isn’t going anywhere.”

“But I want to work with you.” Izaya pointed out. “The business is far more interesting than hanging out at bars and picking up girls.”

Shirou chuckled and squeezed Izaya’s shoulder. “I had a feeling you’d say something like that. Since you have some time off over the holiday, come see me in the office. We can talk about that social media project in more depth and rough out a plan.”

Izaya smiled at his father and nodded. “I'll bring what I have prepared."

~

The second Monday in January was reserved for Coming of Age, a small ceremony hosted by the Ikebukuro government office to celebrate all the youths who had turned twenty this past year. Now officially adults who could drink and vote and be expected to take on all the uncomfortable adult responsibilities that most twenty-year-olds weren't really ready for. 

Izaya was dressed in a suit, lingering by the door of the building as he waited for his friends to arrive. Mikage was standing next to him, dressed in the traditional hakama that the men usually wore instead of the furisode the other girls were wearing. 

"Isn't it amusing?" Izaya purred as he watched the young people gathering. "Only two years have passed since we were all in high school together and most of them still look as lost as they did on graduation day."

"Just because you had your life mapped out, doesn't mean everybody did. Or that it worked out for them, even if they did." Mikage pointed out. 

"I know! That's what's so amusing. Here we are, on the day of our coming of age, ready to be acknowledged as adults by our society! Yet! Look at all of them! Still wandering lost, unsure of what this ceremony even means!"

Mikage snorted and rolled her eyes." And what does it mean? Drinking and voting and nine to five jobs?"

"Pretty much. Unless you're like us." He replied with a grin as Kyohei approached wearing traditional hakama. "Dotachin!" 

"Izaya. I thought we were going traditional?" 

"Izaya decided he didn't want to." Mikage filled in and Izaya shrugged. “Rather show off his fancy suit and clan pin.”

"I never said I was going to do it."

“Yes, you did!” Shinra declared, coming out of the crowd with, of all people, Shizuo in tow. Shinra was also wearing hakama but had draped his lab coat over top and it looked as ridiculous as one would expect. 

Izaya’s eyes narrowed and his lips curved upward in a smirk that could have also been a grimace at the sight of his high school rival, also dressed in a suit.

“Shizu-chan. What an unpleasant surprise.”

“Shut up, flea. I wouldn’t have come at all if my brother hadn’t asked me to.” 

“Oh come on, it’s our coming of age! Put your rivalry aside for one day!” Shinra insisted with his usual exuberance, grabbing for Izaya’s arm. Izaya shifted away from his bespectacled idiot of a friend and offered his arm to Mikage instead, casting an arrogant glance back at Shizuo.

Mikage slid her arm into Izaya’s, leaning in with narrowed eyes. “Don’t you dare ruin this for the rest of us, Izaya.” She murmured quietly, threat in her tone.

“Shall we get on with this ridiculous show, then?” He replied with a smile that was too manic at the edges. “I have better things to do than converse with animals.” He threw the insult out casually as he escorted Mikage to the door, earning a sharp jab to his ribs from her.

Shizuo growled but Shinra and Kyohei quickly interceded flanking the blonde as they moved toward the door. “Just ignore him, Shizuo. The ceremony is only an hour or so then you can go your separate ways.” Kyohei soothed. Shizuo grunted, hateful gaze locked on Izaya’s back.

The ceremony was nearly two hours in length, full of performances, video montages from their school years, and motivational speeches meant to inspire but Izaya gained more entertainment from watching the people around him. Some of them were former classmates, others from different schools, all gathered and dressed in finery to celebrate the hollow acknowledgement from society that they were finally adults. Old enough to do things they had all been doing for the last two years anyway. So excited to be acknowledged by the system, while he sat, surrounded by those to whom this ceremony was nothing but a hollow reminder that they would never fit in, never be acknowledged. Mikage who would never be anything but fiery and ready for a fight. Shinra who could have chosen to be a proper doctor helping people but who chose to live in the shadows in order to pursue his twisted ideas. Kyohei who, of all of them, should have been able to pursue a normal life yet chose instead to run with colour gangs and make friends with arsonists and sadistic otaku. Shizuo who, by whatever mix of fate and biology, could never be anything but an outcast.

He snuck covert glances at each of his high school companions, pondering how he had surrounded himself with the outcasts instead of the popular, the successful, the ones who fit in perfectly. He could have, he mused, but those who let society define them were so much less interesting than those who refused to bend to its will. They made useful tools, playthings he could enjoy positioning on speculative chess boards, but they didn’t inspire him and the outcomes were always predictable. In some things his friends were predictable but they were never boring. 

He couldn’t help but to think about the words his father had spoken about keeping his distance. Though his motivation was completely different from what his father had assumed, it was still true that he had kept everyone at arm's length. Could he truly say that he hadn’t grown attached to them, though? That thought didn’t sit well and he pushed it away, returning his focus to the mayor who was making a closing speech congratulating them. He was glad that the ceremony was coming to an end, itching to leave the mass of people, and maybe leave his serious thoughts behind with them. 

“Izaya, don’t forget we’re meeting at Russia Sushi at seven!” Shinra reminded him as they headed toward the street. Izaya could see Yuuto waiting, leaning against the car with a bored expression on his face.

“Of course, wouldn’t miss it. Dennis said he’d be preparing something special in our honour.” Izaya replied with a grin. He paused as one of his phones began to ring, pulling it out of his pocket to see ‘Unknown Caller’ flashing across the screen. He arched a brow then picked up anyway, curious. “Moshi Moshi.”

“I tried to do things stealthily, like he said, but it seems you’ve outmanoeuvred me. Tell me, does your father know just how deep in this informant business you are? Not that it will matter shortly. I wonder if he’s proud of you, though. I wonder if my father would be proud of me right now. What do you think, Orihara? Would my father be pleased to know that I made his murderer suffer by killing his son?”

As the caller spoke Izaya’s eyes scanned the crowd around him, looking for signs of a potential assailant. He turned slowly but no one stood out. “Ito. I was wondering when you’d try again. On the day of my coming of age ceremony? That’s poetic. I applaud you. Before you enact whatever plan you’ve concocted, would you be so kind as to enlighten me about how my father murdered yours? I’d hate to die with such a mystery hanging over my head.”

“You don’t know? I suppose Shirou wouldn’t want to talk about his sins, would he? Too bad you don’t have enough time to hear the story. Goodbye Orihara.” The line went dead and several things happened in short succession. 

The crack of rapid-fire gunshots filling the air. 

The thud of a body hitting Izaya’s, dragging him to the ground. 

Searing pain. Screams of panic. More gunshots.

“Stay down,” Yuuto ordered as if Izaya could somehow move beneath the weight of the larger man. He could hear Mikage yelling though what she was saying escaped him. Then Shinra was kneeling beside him.

“Izaya! Are you hurt?”

“Possibly. I’ll let you know once Yuuto stops crushing me to death.” Izaya responded with his usual attitude earning a laugh from Shinra and a grunt of annoyance from Yuuto.

“Can’t be hurt too bad if you can still throw sarcasm around.” Yuuto drew back enough to let Izaya sit up, hand pressed against his side. Izaya’s eyes were drawn to the spot then to his own side where the bullet that had torn through Yuuto’s side had grazed his own. 

“Well, you’re still talking so I guess it wasn’t a fatal shot.” He joked as Shinra moved to Yuuto to check the severity of the wound. 

It wasn’t long before sirens filled the air. Both Yuuto and Izaya were taken to the hospital, along with several innocent bystanders the assassin had gunned down in his attempt to kill the heir. When the police came to question him, Izaya played ignorant, keeping the phone call to himself. The last thing the police needed to know was that he had been the target from the start.

Soon after he'd been admitted his father arrived, along with guards. "What happened?" Shirou asked with a deep frown.

"Ito." Izaya replied. "His shooter wasn't very good. Or maybe it was just a bad plan. More importantly, he seems to think you killed his father and his poor attempts to kill me are his way of making you suffer."

"Not as poor as you think. If Yuuto hadn't tackled you, you would have a lot more holes in you right now." Shirou responded seriously. "The police are saying the shooter was a mentally ill shut-in who targeted the ceremony as a form of lashing out against society's restrictions. Pretty clever cover up for an assassination attempt."

"Until they give the guy a psych eval." Izaya pointed out. "That story won't hold up for long under pressure."

"I don't think they're going to bother. They have a confession from the shooter. Who was caught by your friends, by the way. And your rival."

"Shizu-chan?" Izaya snorted a laugh. "How nice to hear he's playing hero. About Ito's father…" 

Before Izaya could pursue the line of questioning the hospital door was pushed open to reveal Kuzuhara Yumeji. Izaya's expression turned sour at the sight of the anti-yakuza detective but he quickly shifted his expression to one of passive politeness. 

"Orihara. It seems you've made an enemy." Kuzuhara began but Izaya merely smiled at the detective placidly. 

"I'm not sure what you mean, Detective."

"Seems you were the target of this attack. The shooter was hired to kill you. Didn't take much for him to crack and tell the truth."

"Well, that is news to me," Izaya replied, eyes widening in mock surprise. "The officers who questioned me earlier seemed to believe it was the random attack of an unwell person lashing out."

Kuzuhara's eyes narrowed in displeasure. "Seems your family isn't as clean as you like to pretend." The detective responded, eyeing father and son. "First the warehouse fire, then Shirou gets stabbed, then you are conveniently targeted by a colour gang at a party, and now someone is trying to shoot you.”

Izaya’s eyes narrowed slightly though his polite smile remained. “You know, Detective, when someone is repeatedly targeted by an obvious criminal, it’s the police’s job to protect that person, not assume that they are guilty of mysterious illusionary crimes. You seem to be holding a grudge against us yet I cannot fathom why. We’ve done nothing to earn such dedicated douchebaggery.”

Shirou rested a hand on Izaya’s shoulder as he levelled an unfriendly gaze at the detective. “Kuzuhara, my son is an upstanding young man who has done nothing to deserve being targeted by anyone. He was shot at during his coming of age ceremony yet you have the nerve to come here and accuse him of somehow doing something to justify this uncalled for attack? I’m not surprised, of course; the police have never had an interest in doing their jobs properly when the yakuza are involved. It doesn’t matter that this murderer shot at innocent young people; all that matters to you is that one yakuza member was targeted and that’s good enough for you to wash your hands of the case, isn’t it? Let the bōryokudan* get what they deserve, yes?” Izaya’s lips twitched into a smirk at his father’s description.

“Your son is a known informant, Orihara. I wouldn’t call that upstanding.” Kuzuhara retorted.

“Is that considered criminal now?” Izaya purred. “I don’t recall any laws being passed recently that made selling information a crime. In fact, I can’t help but to point out that more than a few police officers have made use of my services. Am I any different than a private investigator, Detective?”

“You sell information to criminal organizations.” Kuzuhara accused bluntly.

“Do I?” Izaya’s smirk grew wider.

“I assume you have some form of evidence to back up that accusation, Detective,” Shirou added coldly. “Should I get my lawyer on the phone now?”

The mention of lawyering up made Kuzuhara click his teeth in irritation. “I will find out what your family is hiding, Orihara.” He spat, turning to storm out of the room and nearly running into Kyouko as she entered.

“Good afternoon, Detective.” She greeted him with a smile that was positively sunny.

“Snakes, the lot of you.” He muttered as he brushed past her.

“I assume he wasn’t here to investigate the shooting?” She queried as she shut the door behind him.

“No, just the usual visit to accuse us of nebulous crimes,” Shirou confirmed drawing a sigh from his wife. 

“About Ito…” Izaya attempted to return to the earlier conversation. Shirou looked at his son with uneasiness.

“That is something that we should discuss in private. Once you’re released and back home.”

Chapter Text

Izaya only spent two days at the hospital, his wound being just a graze, while Yuuto was there for a full week. Two days of enforced immobility was enough to make Izaya stir crazy, especially with the events of the past months on his mind. To be released only to have the guards Shirou had placed on him drive him back to the estate where he was told he would be staying - for his own safety, of course - was just too much. He accepted the overprotective measures his father implemented reluctantly, tolerating the constant presence of guards and restricted mobility in the hopes that his father would finally talk to him about Ito. 

Nine days of waiting and chafing against the restrictions before Shirou sat down with Izaya and Kyouko. Izaya looked to his mother as he took a seat on the couch but she merely shook her head to indicate that she knew no more than he did. 

Shirou settled into a chair with a sigh. "I never expected, after so many years, that Hiroshi would come all the way to Japan to chase vengeance. I thought Yuuto would be enough security for you and I know how much you value your independence, Izaya. That may have been a mistake."

"The mistake was not telling us when the Jade Dragons first showed up." Izaya pointed out brashly. "You knew who they were right from the start."

"I did but it wasn't until you brought me Hiroshi's name that I understood why they were here. I thought I could contain it when it seemed he was only targeting me."

Kyouko arched a single brow at her husband. "We're family, Shirou. Even if Hiroshi had only been targeting you, this is the sort of thing we should be dealing with together." She chided and he nodded. 

"It's a part of my past that I'm not particularly proud of. I was twenty-four at the time. Your grandfather had sent me to Hong Kong to learn about our Chinese branch from Han's predecessor. Izaya was only a year old…" He looked at Kyouko and smiled at the memory. "It was only a month but I didn't want to go."

"I remember," Kyouko replied with a fond smile and Izaya rolled his eyes. 

“I met Hiroshi’s father at a bar in Hong Kong. He worked there part-time as a cook. His wife had been a server there until she’d gotten pregnant. The bar didn’t pay very well so he’d gotten into running drugs for the Jade Dragons. He was a good man in a bad place and just trying to keep his head above water. I was a man who had never seen the other side and in my naivete, I thought I could help him. I gave him advice on how to climb the ranks and before I left Hong Kong, he’d become the Jade Dragon’s second in command. We kept in touch and I continued to give him advice. In return, the Dragons actually kept an eye on our interests in Hong Kong. It was a good arrangement until the Jade Dragons’ leader decided to start messing with the syndicates. The Jade Dragons had been small enough to escape notice and I’d advised them to stay that way but their leader had ambitions and I was too far away to do more than advise.”

“About a year later he called and begged me to come back to Hong Kong. The Jade Dragons had drawn the ire of the Tien Tao Meng and things were falling apart very rapidly. I hadn’t told my father about the deal I’d made with them and I couldn’t afford to get directly involved and potentially make a greater enemy of the Tien. Even back then, they were rivals and Hong Kong was their territory. We would have been at a disadvantage. I gave advice but I told him I couldn’t get directly involved. I warned him that they needed to back down but his boss didn’t listen. He called me the night it happened. I knew it would go bad but there was nothing I could do. I told him to cut his losses and run. Take his wife and kid and go to ground but he didn’t listen and it cost him his life.”

“You were friends,” Izaya observed. “That’s what Hiroshi meant. He thinks you abandoned his father. He didn’t see the big picture and he thinks you just abandoned the Jade Dragons to save your own business interests.”

Shirou nodded. “I should have done more but I wasn’t oyabun. I couldn’t ask my father for support, ask him to commit our family to a potential war with one of Hong Kong’s biggest syndicates simply because I wanted to help a friend. It would have been irresponsible and he would have told me so. Maybe I could have done more, I thought about that a lot after his death, but at the time I truly thought I’d done what I could.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if his contact in the Tien didn’t sell him a very biased view of what happened back then.” Izaya mused thoughtfully.

“I can’t believe you kept this a secret from me.” Kyouko arched a brow at her husband. “What’s the importance of oleander?”

“It was his wife’s favourite flower. She wanted to grow a full plant but they didn’t have enough room so he would bring her bouquets of the cut flowers whenever he could. I sent her a bouquet every year on the anniversary of his death. I also set up a trust for her to access, to make sure she would be taken care of. I suggested she come to Japan but she refused. Ito was Japanese but she was born and raised in Hong Kong and resistant to leaving.”

“So Hiroshi grew up on your money,” Izaya observed, eyes narrowing slightly in contemplation. “I wonder if he knows.”

“I don’t think it would matter to him,” Kyouko replied with a sigh. “It sounds like his only focus is in making Shirou suffer at this point.”

“And there’s nothing you could say to change his perception,” Izaya concluded with a shake of his head. “I’m curious though, why the Jade Dragons would ally with the Tien after what happened. The Tien were pretty merciless in culling the gang. I would think those who lived wouldn’t want to go anywhere near the syndicate that killed so many of their people.”

“The problem is that syndicate control over the underworld in Hong Kong is absolute. The gangs have to operate under a syndicate if they want to be able to do business. The Jade Dragons old leader thought they could compete with the syndicates when they simply couldn’t and that is what led to their defeat. In order to rebuild, the Dragons would have to work under someone and if the Tien’s executives sold it to them as the sin of their old leader, offering mercy as long as they toe the line, I can see them agreeing. Many of the Dragons were very young men, some just teens.

“Interesting. I wonder if Hiroshi could be educated on the obvious lack of information his desire for revenge is based on.” 

“He’s tried to kill you twice, Izaya. We are past reasonable discussion already.” Kyouko replied with a scowl.

Izaya arched a brow at his mother, noting the stony expression. “We never even tried reasonable discussion.” He rebutted with a shake of his head.

“I agree with your mother.” Shirou seconded. “If he’s anything like his father, he’ll be too stubborn to hear me out.”

“He might be willing to hear me out, though.” Izaya pointed out. “I’m only his target because of you.”

“Far too dangerous.” Kyouko refused. “There’s no guarantee that he won’t simply try to kill you again. In fact, I’d say it’s very likely that any meeting you might set up with him will undoubtedly be a trap.”

“Sure, it’s risky but we won’t learn anything by going on the defensive and waiting for him to strike,” Izaya argued.

“What do you expect to learn from him? He’s a kid with a vendetta.” Shirou shook his head. “I’m not putting you at risk again.”

“You’re both being overprotective.” Izaya pointed out with irritation. “Save it for the twins. I’m more than capable of taking care of myself.”

“You were shot at in public, Izaya. If he was willing to make such a bold move in public, he’ll definitely act in private.” Shirou replied forcefully, leaning forward to meet Izaya’s gaze.

“We don’t doubt your abilities, Izaya.” Kyouko cut in before the argument could progress between father and son. “There’s no reason to tempt fate. We can take care of this without putting anyone at risk.”

Izaya arched a brow at his parents. "What about the Tien? If they're manipulating him and controlling the gang, the problem won't go away just because Hiroshi does."

"No, that's true, but Hiroshi is acting from a place of emotion. A different leader of the gang is likely to be more rational. Hiroshi's actions have been very high risk. It's not likely that the other Dragons would be willing to take the same risks." Shirou countered. "At which point, we can deal with them quietly."

"How do you intend to dodge Kuzuhara?" Izaya pressed and Kyouko sighed. 

"He is quite a problem. Turning his attention to the Sumiyoshi-kai was a good move but didn’t last very long at all and that is very suspicious.”

Izaya nodded. “I thought so too. I’m sure someone is feeding him information in order to keep his focus on us. Hiroshi and his Dragons don’t have the resources to be able to pull that off which leaves the Tien.”

“Who we aren’t in a position to go after,” Shirou replied firmly.

“But they’re already backpedalling. They survived in Shinjuku because the Sumiyoshi let them but after the scandal, the Sumiyoshi have distanced themselves to try to save face.” Izaya insisted.

“The Sumiyoshi may have withdrawn their support for now but they need the Tien’s drug supply. Once things die down, they’ll be back to discreetly dealing with the Tien again.” Shirou shook his head. “Izaya, the Tien are one of Hong Kong’s largest syndicates. If we push them here, they will push back in Hong Kong. We need that connection. We simply can’t afford to risk losing our holdings there.”

Izaya fell silent, leaning back and chewing on his lower lip in thought. “So to rid ourselves of the Tien here, we need to make sure their head office has no reason to suspect our involvement?” 

“Izaya…” Shirou began, warning in his tone.

“In effect, yes.” Kyouko cut in, locking eyes with her husband. “And that is certainly something we should consider in the long term but right now, with Hiroshi trying to kill you and Kuzuhara on our asses, we need to leave it alone. We can revisit it later.”

Izaya’s gaze shifted to his parents, eyes narrowing suspiciously. “Fine, I get it. One problem at a time.” He sighed. “Can you call off the guards now so I can go back to work?”

Shirou shook his head firmly. “No, the guards stay until Hiroshi’s threat is dealt with. Find a way to do your work with them present. They’re trustworthy.”

“It’s hard to be approachable when you’re constantly flanked by looming guards.” Izaya pointed out, irritation creeping into his voice. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous it looks to have a guard following me around on campus?”

“Oh, I’m sure you can use it to your advantage,” Kyouko replied, giving her son an amused smile. “Enjoy your rise in fame.”

Izaya sighed dramatically. “Can you at least try to pick inconspicuous guards?”

Shirou chuckled. “I’ll consider it but this is for your safety, Izaya. Bear with it a bit longer.”

“I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”

~

Shiki had heard, of course, about Izaya's injury and imprisonment. The indicator of Izaya's displeasure came in the uptick of texts from the trapped heir. They came at random times, in rambling paragraphs on some topic or other, in more bad pick up lines, and in pictures that quickly had Shiki closing them with a sigh and a slight smirk. 

-Looking for a snack in the fridge only to realize I’m the only snack in the house.-  

-While I'm at work?- He sent in response to a picture of the tight curve of Izaya's naked ass.

-There's a time when you're not at work?-

-Shouldn’t you be working? Or studying?-

-You expect me to work from here? I can’t even go to the store without an escort right now.-

-Work on the social media project.-

-I’d rather work on you.- This accompanied another photo, this time the flat line of his stomach and sharp curve of one hip.

-Brat. Show some patience. Your parents are worried.-

-o͡͡͡͡͡͡╮(。>口<。)╭o͡͡͡͡͡͡ ᵑ৹!-

Akabayashi had started a betting pool in the office on how long Izaya would last before he broke out. Kazamoto had given him the longest time at two weeks, while Aozaki gave him two days. Akabayashi had told Shiki that those with insider knowledge weren't allowed to bet. Shiki responded by pointedly telling Akabayashi that, if he needed work to do, there was an entire stack of gambling ledgers to check through. 

The truest indicator of Izaya's inevitable prison break was the complete absence of texts. Izaya didn't give off very many signs when he was planning something. Shiki had noticed, though, that Izaya would get quiet right before he enacted a plan. It happened twelve days after Izaya had gotten shot - not a single text from the heir all day. 

Shoes casually discarded in the entry. Fur-trimmed coat thrown over the back of a chair. Bag of takeout on the table and beside it Izaya’s satchel, brightly coloured files peeking out. The paperback novel he had left on the coffee table was missing, replaced by a psychology textbook. He shook his head in irritation, putting away Izaya’s shoes and hanging up his coat. He put the takeout in the fridge then moved to his office, noticing that the light was on. He paused in the doorway to take in the picture.

Izaya was sitting in his desk chair, wearing one of his dress shirts and nothing else, evident in the pale line of legs propped up on the desk. Shiki’s missing novel was in his lap and he was gazing at the executive with a smirk.

“What took you so long?” Izaya purred.

Shiki leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms and giving Izaya an amused look. “I didn’t know I was going to have company.”

“Liar,” Izaya replied, standing up and dropping the novel onto the desk. He moved toward Shiki with a catlike smirk.

“Polite guests call ahead.” Shiki chided, watching Izaya cross the distance between them. “They also don’t pick the lock and make themselves at home.”

Izaya’s hands slid up around Shiki’s shoulders. “I think I’m a bit more than a guest at this point.” He purred. “Besides, standing outside your building, waiting for you would have been noticeable and I was trying to avoid being noticed.”

Shiki let his hands drop to Izaya’s hips, feeling the slight padding of bandages on the left side. “Ran away from your guards, did you?”

Izaya wrinkled his nose in irritation. “It was hardly difficult. I couldn't come visit you with them following me around."

"Am I going to be implicated in your escape?"

Izaya's smirk widened. "Oh yes, I'll be sure to tell my parents that you kidnapped me." 

Shiki chuckled. "Then I'm safe. They'll never believe it."

Izaya affected a mock-offended look. "Are you saying I'm not worth kidnapping?" 

"Far more trouble than any amount of ransom money is worth." 

Izaya chuckled. "So cruel. After I came to see you and even brought you dinner."

"And stole my shirt and book?" Shiki replied with amusement, sliding a hand up under the hem to trace the lines of the bandage. "Shouldn't you be resting and recovering instead of making booty calls?" 

Izaya pouted. "I've been doing nothing for two weeks except resting and recovering. I want to do something else."

"Yes, your texts made that quite clear. Didn't I tell you to be patient?" 

" Haruya!" Izaya whined insistently causing Shiki to crack a hint of a smile. "Don't be mean. I was shot . Then imprisoned ."

Shiki's hands slid down to grip Izaya's ass and the raven read the signal, wrapping his legs around Shiki's waist as the other picked him up. "And injured people are supposed to rest." He repeated as he carried Izaya to the bedroom, spilling him onto the bed. "I don't think being given guards is considered imprisonment, either. Especially considering you were shot."

"Do you want to see it?" Izaya grinned and reached for the hem of the shirt, slowly pulling it up. 

Shiki snorted, catching Izaya's hand as he leaned over, placing a knee on the bed. "Don't brag, brat. It isn't something you should be proud of." He pushed the shirt up to reveal the bandages that covered the raven's left side. "You're lucky Yuuto was there." He carefully peeled back the edge of the bandage to reveal the long streak of red that cut across pale flesh. It wasn't bleeding anymore, had started to scab, but it still looked angry. "Went through him and just scraped you?" 

"Mm." Shiki’s fingers pressed lightly against the wound, dragging a soft hiss from Izaya. “I was only a target because of my father.” He murmured in disappointment.

“Oh? And you’d rather Ito targeted you for something you’d done to him instead?” Shiki replied with an arched brow as he smoothed the bandage back into place.

”Wouldn’t you? Who wants to get shot at for someone else’s sins?”

Shiki moved off the bed, taking off his suit jacket and hanging it up. “Who wants to get shot at all?” He responded as he picked up Izaya’s abandoned clothes from the closet floor. “Being born into it, you didn’t start from the bottom so you never experienced the expectation that you might have to take a bullet for someone else.”

Izaya sat up, pouting a bit. “Have you ever had to take a bullet for someone else?” 

“No, I was smarter than that.” Shiki replied with a smirk.

“Smarter than me? ” Izaya pressed with a narrowing of his eyes. 

“I don’t think your situation is comparable, Izaya. No one expected you to take a bullet for your father.”

“Indeed.” Izaya’s expression soured. “If they had, I would have been under guard much earlier.”

Shiki arched a brow at the raven’s response. “Childish. They’re trying to protect you. I would think you might appreciate that they care enough to do so.”

“I could be out there tracking Ito down and-”

“Starting a gang war in Ikebukuro?” 

“Please. You know I’d be more subtle than that. Besides, I learned some things from Dad about Ito.” Izaya’s eyes lit up. “As I’d suspected, he was being used by Fei and the syndicate but what Ito doesn’t seem to know is that they were ultimately responsible for his father’s death and the near destruction of the Jade Dragons back in Hong Kong.  Someone convinced Ito that Dad was at fault but with a bit of research I’m sure I can show him the truth.”

“You want to convince the man who has attempted to kill you twice that he’s been misled?” Shiki arched a brow as he folded Izaya’s clothes and set them on the dresser.

“I want to turn him against Fei and the syndicate. Imagine the outcome if I could use the Jade Dragons to hamper the syndicate’s activities here in Tokyo. Kill two birds with one stone - or more aptly, kill Fei with his own stone. He brought Ito here and sent him to nip at our heels. It would be so satisfying to see him fall by turning his plan against him.”

“And you think Ito will listen to you why?”

“Information. If I can just get away from the damn guards for a few days, I’ll be able to bring him evidence that the syndicate was responsible, not Dad.”

“You don’t think the Tien would have buried everything connected to that incident? Why does he think your father killed his?” Shiki moved back to the bed, sitting on the edge.

“They couldn’t possibly bury everything,” Izaya replied confidently. “My father was friends with Ito’s and had been helping the Dragons. He was in Japan when their leader decided to take on the syndicate in Hong Kong, ignoring his advice. Ito’s dad was second in command and refused to abandon his gang. Paid the price with his life.”

“I see. What does Shirou think of this plan you’re concocting?” Shiki asked pointedly and the stony silence he received was answer enough.

“My parents are content to smother me in guards.” He replied flatly, shifting toward Shiki and sliding his hands around the other’s waist. “Help me ditch my guards so I can do a proper investigation?”

Shiki turned, pushing Izaya back down on the bed. “I am not going to be implicit in any plans you are crafting that involve directly disobeying your father, Izaya.” He spoke seriously as he hovered over the raven. “I admire your desire to do something and I even appreciate your daring approach to things - usually - but he’s your father and your oyabun. My interference would be more than frowned upon in this.”

Izaya pouted at Shiki. “You too? Why does no one want to act on this?”

“I would love to act on this but it’s not my family and you know very well that interfering would cause problems. If you can get your father to agree, I’ll help but I’m not going to actively oppose him. Especially in a situation where he is attempting to protect you.”

“I don’t need protection. This is part of the life we live, isn’t it? Ito, Fei, the next person with ambition who decides to target our family, it’s all the same. There’s always going to be someone with a grudge or ambition targeting me. Should I hide for the rest of my life?”

"Accepting a bit of extra protection now, while you’re being actively targeted is not the same as hiding and you know it. I realize that you’re frustrated by the restrictions, Izaya. I would be too. But you’re being childish about it. You could have come here and had your guards wait downstairs instead of ditching them and undoubtedly making your parents worry.”

“I couldn’t stay the night,” Izaya replied with a seductive curve of his lips. He reached up to untuck Shiki’s shirt and the executive sighed.

“Did I say you could stay the night?”

Fingers slid under the hem to ghost over Shiki’s abs. Izaya’s eyes shone with mischief as he responded. “You’d fuck me then send me home?”

Shiki didn’t rise to the bait. “Did I say I was going to fuck you?”

Izaya’s fingers froze in their exploration as he gazed up at Shiki, unable to tell if the executive was serious. The longer he tried to gauge Shiki’s reaction, the more uncertain he became. “Haruya-”

“Tell your mother where you are.”

“She doesn’t need to know.”

“You don’t want her to know.”

“She’ll send guards.”

“Not if she knows you’re with me.”

“She’ll tell my father.”

“Now you’re just being stubborn. She hasn’t told him yet, has she?”

Izaya pouted. “I don’t want to.”

“I know.” Shiki replied with amusement. "But if you don't, I'm just going to drive you home."

"I can't believe you're blackmailing me."

"This is hardly blackmail." Shiki leaned in, lips grazing the shell of Izaya's ear as he spoke. "It's just a choice. How badly do you want to get laid?" 

"You- you- Sadist!" Izaya protested, earning a soft chuckle from Shiki. "Fine, I'll text her."

Shiki drew back with a slight smirk. "Good choice."

Izaya got up, still pouting, and collected his phone from the pants Shiki had folded. "This is being done under duress." He declared as he texted Kyouko. 

-With Shiki-

-Will you be home tonight?-

His mother's response was not what he expected. -No-

-Have fun-

He turned a suspicious gaze on Shiki who was laying on the bed, watching him. "She already knew, didn't she?" 

"She had a suspicion that you might come to me," Shiki replied. "She texted me shortly after you ditched the guards. She also texted Shimada in case you went to your apartment."

"Are you my mother's agent now?" Izaya asked grumpily.

"Hardly, but I do think you shouldn't be making her worry more than you usually do."

Izaya sighed as he climbed back onto the bed, sitting on Shiki's hips. "You're absolutely terrible." He complained as his fingers made quick work of the buttons on Shiki's shirt. 

"I am. Yet you're still here." Shiki replied, fingers gliding over the pale flesh of Izaya's thighs. "What does that say about you, my pretty little masochist?"

"That I have excellent taste," Izaya replied with a snicker as he leaned forward to press his lips to the dark lines of ink that covered Shiki's upper chest.

"Questionable taste." Shiki countered, sliding his hand down to cup the curve of Izaya's ass. "Turn around and put those lips to use somewhere else." Izaya raised his head to look at Shiki, grinning as he obeyed. His hands sought the waistline, pushing Shiki's pants off his hips. Shiki's hands slid up along Izaya's thighs to grip his hips and pull him into a better position. 

"So forceful." Izaya teased as he adjusted his balance, sliding a hand down over the length of Shiki's cock. 

"Is that what you're hoping for?" He drew Izaya's cheeks apart, running a thumb along the perineum and over his entrance. 

"Yes." The admission came out in a heavy breath as Izaya lowered his head to draw his lips over the tip of Shiki's cock. He let his tongue tease over the tip, earning a sigh of pleasure from Shiki that teased warmth over his ass. Shiki kept Izaya's cheeks parted with a firm grip as he drew his tongue along the path his thumb had been caressing. Izaya shuddered, the soft pressure quite the opposite of forceful yet no less pleasurable. The slow and thorough exploration Shiki was making of his ass, the new sensations as his tongue teased over skin, awakening pleasure in unexpected places, made it very difficult for him to concentrate. 

“Am I too distracting?” Shiki asked and Izaya groaned. He focused on taking every inch of Shiki’s cock into his mouth, moving in a slow rhythm, wanting to draw out the pleasure he was giving. He couldn't help but to moan when Shiki's tongue prodded at his entrance, instinctively picking up the pace as he grew more excited. Shiki switched his attention to Izaya's cock, replacing the press of his tongue with the firm prod of his fingers as he pressed in deeper. Izaya whined around Shiki's cock, hips shifting needily and earning an insistent buck of Shiki's hips to remind him of his focus. Izaya sped up the pace, enthusiastically swallowing Shiki's cock, moans vibrating in the back of his throat. Shiki, infinitely more controlled, matched Izaya's rhythm, gripping his hip with his free hand to keep the raven from bucking as fingers dragged over his prostate. 

"Haruya…" Izaya whined, hips trembling with need. Shiki dragged his teeth lightly over Izaya's cock as he pulled back, drawing a full body shiver from the raven. 

"Did I say stop?" 

"Haruya please!" Izaya begged. 

Shiki withdrew his fingers slowly, then nudged Izaya, indicating that he should move. "Please what?" He prompted as he sat up, removing his pants completely. 

Izaya shifted to the side, kneeling and stroking his cock as he watched Shiki rid himself of his clothes. "Please fuck me." He replied as he crawled toward Shiki.

Shiki stopped Izaya's progress, pressing a hand to his chest and leaning forward as if to kiss the raven. Izaya turned his head into it only to be disappointed when Shiki stopped short. "Fuck you how?" Shiki asked as his hand slid up to tangle in Izaya's hair, tugging sharply on it. 

Izaya gasped at the feeling, wide eyes fixed on Shiki's amused ones. "Preferably with your dick in my ass." He replied, lips curving into a bratty smirk that earned him another sharp pull of the hair. "My dick in your ass?" He proposed and Shiki arched a brow. 

"Bored with bottoming?" 

"With you? Never." Izaya grinned. 

Shiki lowered his head, pressing lips to Izaya's neck then biting down. His smirk widened at the strangled exhale of a stifled moan. "Would you even know what to do, pillow princess?" He teased and Izaya snickered. 

"I'm clever, I'll figure it out."

"You'll pardon me if I don't want to be your test subject." This was followed by another teasing bite and a noise of frustration from Izaya. 

"Then hurry up and fuck me," Izaya demanded though the underlying whine undermined the attempt at authority. 

"That's all? Just fuck you?" Izaya couldn't see the sadistic smile but the tone was enough to make him rethink his choice of words. 

"Haruya…" He began but Shiki tugged on his hair to silence him, pushing him down to the bed.

"On your stomach," Shiki ordered as he grabbed a pillow, sliding it under Izaya's hips as the raven turned over. "Arms in front of you." He added as he grabbed the lube, pouring it directly onto Izaya's ass and watching Izaya squirm at the feeling of the cool liquid sliding down between his cheeks. Fingers followed the slick trail down then pushed in, earning a muffled groan from Izaya. The raven's fingers curled in, gripping the sheet as Shiki's fingers stretched and teased and dragged over his prostate. He worked Izaya close to orgasm then changed tactics, breaking the rhythm or moving away from the most sensitive spots, leaving Izaya on the edge, hovering but kept from release.

Fingers were replaced by the slow press of Shiki’s cock easing into him. The teasingly slow pace had him feeling every inch, groaning desperately and raising his hips impatiently. Shiki placed a hand on the small of his back, holding him down as he pulled back and thrust in again with the same agonizing slowness. The slow rhythm Shiki moved in had his cock rubbing against the pillow beneath his hips, just enough sensation to tease but not nearly enough to come. Desperate for more, Izaya slid his hand down to stroke himself but Shiki caught his hand before he could, twisting it behind him.

“Did I say you could touch yourself?” 

“Haruya!” Izaya whined. “Stop teasing!”

“Teasing?” Shiki replied with amusement. “I’m fucking you, just like you asked.” He emphasized his words with a forceful thrust that drew a moan from the raven.

“You won’t let me come.” Izaya accused.

“You’re right,” Shiki replied, sliding his hand under Izaya’s hip to grip the raven’s neglected cock. “You didn’t ask me to make you come.” He gave Izaya’s cock a few slow strokes, speeding up his thrusts a bit. “So you don’t get to come until I want you to.”

“Haruya!” Izaya protested in frustration, squirming under Shiki’s hold.

“That could be not at all,” Shiki warned and Izaya stopped squirming with a groan. 

“Sadist.” Izaya moaned the accusation.

Shiki smirked, speeding up again. “Sadist? You seem to be enjoying this very much.”

“Control freak.” 

“Is that meant to be an insult?” Shiki gave Izaya’s cock another few strokes, drawing desperate moans from the raven. “I don’t think insulting me is the best tactic if you want release.”

Haruya please!” Izaya practically wailed. “ Pleasepleaseplease let me come.”

“Better.” Shiki let go of Izaya’s pinned arm and wrapped an arm around his waist, driving hard, rapid thrusts into him. “But you still don’t get to come until I say you can.” Izaya gripped the sheets, muffling his desperate moans in the mattress as Shiki once again brought him to the edge and held him there for what felt like an eternity. It was exquisite torture, a constant, overwhelming level of pleasure that bordered on pain in its intensity. It removed all awareness outside of his body, pulling his entire focus to the pressure low in his body that screamed for release. Whimpered pleas became a mantra, tears of frustration sprang to his eyes and just when he thought he couldn’t take anymore, Shiki’s voice broke through his focus with words that brought relief. “Come for me, Izaya.” He commanded, hand working over Izaya’s achingly hard cock. So far gone in the pleasure, he couldn’t have held back even if he wanted to and firm stroke of Shiki’s hand had him coming quick and hard, muscles tightening around Shiki’s cock as his hips trembled and jerked in response. He was still caught in the wave of pleasure when he felt Shiki release with several deep thrusts.

He lay boneless on the bed, somewhere between the high of the endorphin rush and the onset of exhaustion that followed as Shiki pulled out and lay next to him. “You did well.” He praised Izaya as he pulled the raven into the curve of his side. The noise Izaya made in response was almost a giggle before he muffled it against Shiki's chest. Shiki looked down at the still-giddy raven with amusement. 

"You didn't really give me a choice."

"You always have a choice, Izaya." Shiki reminded him, placing a kiss on the top of his head. "You could have stopped it at any time."

Izaya closed his eyes and gave a soft hum in response. "What would you have done if I hadn't been able to hold back?" He asked with curiosity. Shiki smirked. 

"Punish you appropriately." 

Izaya found that idea equal parts intriguing, exciting and terrifying. "And what would be an appropriate punishment?" He prodded. 

"Hmm. Not letting you come at all until you show repentance, maybe." He mused. "That might be too difficult for a brat like you, though. Do you even know how to be repentant?"

Izaya thought about the punishment. "That doesn't sound fun at all ."

"It's a punishment. It's not supposed to be fun." Shiki snorted. 

"But isn't that harsh for something I'm not entirely in control of?" Izaya pointed out. "You could force me to cum then punish me for it."

"Yes," Shiki replied without a hint of concern for the obvious unfairness. "You might want to work on your self-control."

Izaya looked up at Shiki's expression and once again found himself unsure of whether the other was teasing him or being serious. "You are terrifying," Izaya observed though there wasn't any fear in his demeanour, only fascination. 

"And you have an unhealthy addiction to dangerous things. Since you made a mess of the bed, change the sheets while I warm up the takeout."

Izaya made an indignant noise. "You were equally responsible for the mess." He protested, rolling away from Shiki and sitting up. 

"No, I kept my mess contained." Shiki deadpanned as he got up, moving to pick up his discarded pants and toss them in the laundry bin. Izaya flushed at the comment and Shiki smirked.

"I'm only doing it because I don't want to sleep on dirty sheets," Izaya replied as he reached for the pillow that had been beneath his hips. Shiki chuckled as he pulled in a pair of loose-fitting jeans and headed for the kitchen. 

~

"He's really quite a liability."

"The passion of youth can be channelled. It isn't how I would have done things but it wasn't a bad plan either. His problem is that he is impulsive." 

"You may want to bring in a leader who isn't quite so impulsive."

"I will be returning in a month. Once I'm there to guide him directly, he won't be as impulsive."

"If you say so. Shall I continue to watch him?" 

"Yes. Advise him to lay low. Kuzuhara may be focused on the Oriharas but he isn't the only cop who monitors gang violence and I can't buy them all off."

"And the Oriharas?" 

"Leave them be for now. I think I will be taking a different tack."

"Very well."

Chapter Text

"Are you sure about this, Izaya?” Kazuo asked, clutching his tablet to his chest as he looked around the empty classroom. “Isn’t it too risky?”

“He’s not going to do anything in the university. He doesn’t have any back up here and there are cameras or witnesses everywhere. Not to mention my perpetual escort just down the hall.”

“Who is this Ito guy?” Shijima asked, looking up from the experiment he was working on. 

Izaya eyed Shijima with disdain. “The leader of the Jade Dragons.”

“That colour gang that lit up your father’s warehouse?”

“Yes, that colour gang. Do you pay attention to what's going on at all?"

Shijima went back to his work with a shrug. "Sure, if it's relevant. I didn't realize that they were a problem for us."

Izaya arched a brow. "It's a new gang. Even if they aren't directly affecting us, they're relevant."

"That's your department," Shijima replied dismissively and it brought a smirk to Izaya's lips. 

"Indeed." The door opened and Ito entered, glancing around. Nakura followed behind him, closing the door. His eyes settled on Izaya and his lips curved down into an ugly sneer. 

"Orihara. I was wondering how long it would take for you to approach me."

"Well I might have done it earlier but it was pointed out to me that it might be bad for my health," Izaya replied with a smirk. "Stabbings and shootings don't really make for friendly conversations."

"And everyone knows how much you like to talk," Ito replied with a derisive snort. "I would have thought you'd be better at taking a hint. I wasn't exactly subtle."

"No, you don't seem to understand that concept very well. That seems to be your puppet master's MO."

"Puppetmaster?" Ito arched a brow. 

"Jiao Lan Fei. Your sponsor, as it were. The only reason your tiny gang could manage to get your foot in the door here."

"Ah." Ito shrugged, seeming to relax a bit. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you put it together, getting neck-deep in the Tien's business and all."

"Not going to deny it?" 

"No point."

"Very well. Was he the one who paid for your tuition?" Izaya narrowed his eyes a bit. 

"No, I don't take money from the Tien. My mother paid my tuition with money my father had set aside for me."

"Is that so?" Izaya's smirk widened. "Kaz."

Kazuo walked up to Ito and handed him the tablet. Ito looked from Izaya to the tablet, expression full of suspicion. He began to scroll through the information, lips thinning to an angry line the further into it he got. 

"What is this?" The knuckles of the hand that held the tablet were white. "Some fabrication you concocted to trick me?" 

Izaya shook his head. "No. I only found out about it recently as well. It took ending up in the hospital for my father to open up about you. Thank you for that, by the way. It was a lovely vacation."

"You're telling me that your father has been taking care of my mother and me this whole time?" 

"Not that surprising. The yakuza are many things but they always pay their debts to the families of members." Shijima pointed out, glancing up from his work. 

"My father wasn't a member of the yakuza." Ito corrected. 

"No, but he was Orihara-san's friend and that was good enough to extend the same benefits to you and your mother," Kazuo replied, reclaiming the tablet, concerned by just how hard Ito had been clutching it.

"So what, you going to cut us off, is that it?" Ito sneered at Izaya. "We don't need your blood money."

Izaya arched a brow. "That's not my call to make. My father could have frozen that account months ago when you first showed up and decided to cost us a hefty amount by burning down our warehouse."

"So what, you think because he gave my mother that money, that's justification for letting my father die? Or that I owe your family now?" 

"Neither," Izaya replied with a shrug. "I just thought you might want to know that there's more to the situation than you or I can understand."

"Because we weren't there?" Ito snorted. "I know people who were."

"I don't. I do know that the Tien was pretty brutal though. A lot of people died. Not just your father. And my father couldn't have saved any of them either."

"The Orihara-kai could have sent support." Ito insisted. "Your father left them to face the Tien alone."

"Your father could have walked away from the bad decision his boss made in trying to take on the largest syndicate in Hong Kong."

"The Dragons had no choice. The Tien was trying to take what we'd built."

"And now you're working for your so-called oppressors and chasing vengeance across the ocean."

"Ito-san, if I may interject?" Kazuo spoke up. "Orihara-san has no intention of touching the trust. Rather, he'd like to propose a truce of sorts." 

"A truce?" Ito scoffed. "You must be joking." 

Izaya's lips split into a full grin. "Not at all. We are not our fathers. I have no interest in dying for my father's choices and I'm also not interested in becoming a murderer to keep you from coming after me again. I propose that we change the game. You and I, with Ikebukuro as our playing field."

"And what’s the game? Gang war?"

"One year to build a successful business in Ikebukuro. Sex trade, gambling, a protection racket. Whatever you think will work. Only rules are no murder and no drugs. I’ll do the same. Winner shows the most profit in that time.”

“No murder and no drugs? The fuck kind of rules are those?”

“The kind you follow when you decide to play in Ikebukuro. Murder attracts the cops. Drugs attract the Akabayashi. I’m not interested in dealing with either one of those things.”

“The Akabayashi?” Ito’s brow furrowed into a frown at the odd reference. Shijima chuckled, pushing his glasses up his nose as he turned to look at Ito.

“A name you’ll learn to fear if you stick around. Akabayashi Mizuki, an executive of the Awakusu-kai with an absolute hatred for drugs. If you try to sell in Ikebukuro, expect a visit from him.”

“And if the Awakusu get involved because you decided to sell, you forfeit the game,” Izaya added.

“How do I know you won’t just use your family’s resources?”

“How do I know you won’t just use the Tien’s?”

Ito stared at Izaya and the raven just smiled back at him.

“Just you and me, no family, no syndicate.” Ito summarized. “What are the stakes.”

“Loser must work for the winner.”

“Work for? How?”

Izaya shrugged. “However the winner sees fit.”

“Your Dad won’t like that.”

“So? This isn’t about him anymore. It’s about you and me. You made it about you and me.”

“You’re crazy. This whole idea is crazy. What do you even gain from this? And it doesn’t punish your father for what he did, so why would I waste my time on it?”

“Orihara-san gets several things, Ito-san.” Kazuo pointed out with a smile. “If you’re not trying to murder him or his family, he gets his constant watchdogs off his back. He also gets the chance to prove himself to his father and the clan from a business perspective and should he win, he gains whatever you built in that year through you. You, on the other hand, have the potential to beat the Orihara-kai through business. Which will profit you in the long run. Especially since it won’t end in a jail sentence or deportation which are the options you are currently facing by pursuing vengeance the way you are. If the Oriharas wanted to, they have evidence to tie you to the warehouse fire. They could have you arrested now.” Kazuo turned his tablet around to show Ito some very incriminating photos.

“What the hell? Where did you get those?” Ito asked in surprise. 

“Your Tien ally is not as… trustworthy as you might have been assuming.” Izaya replied with a wicked grin.

“Fei took these?” Ito growled, scowling.

“Or had someone take them, yes. I suspect he was going to use them to throw suspicion away from him.”

“That bastard. Tch. Fine. I’ll accept your stupid challen