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Hearts Like Ours

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There was a time Shizuo thought he'd be incredibly happy with a peaceful life. And he was, for a while at least.

The first few months after Izaya left the city, things were incredibly mundane. Gangs had settled down, an uneasy calm settled over them all, and Shizuo enjoyed it, thinking to himself this was all he ever wanted. No one came after him to test his strength. No one meddled in his affairs. No one even bothered him.

It was odd to him that he sometimes missed the excitement of not knowing what was around every corner, but he convinced himself he'd get over it.

He didn't get over it.

Just a mere six months after Izaya left, things erupted again.

Gangs were at each other's necks, fighting over petty territory, the Yakuza were involving themselves more outwardly in the conflicts, and eventually someone, some kid, got shot and killed when things came to a head.

Shizuo had asked Shinra if Izaya was involved in any of it, and Shinra had shrugged, smiling serenely in that way of his.

“Izaya has been gone a long time now,” he'd said. “You're the only one who ever mentions him, and you're the reason he left. I think it's safe to say he hasn't been involved in any of this.”

It left a bad taste in Shizuo's mouth. It wasn't fair. He always thought Izaya was the barrier between them all coexisting but what if the city's natural state was to be in perpetual chaos?

After the eruption of violence ended with death, things settled again, but Shizuo was beginning to see a pattern, and sure enough, the fighting started again a few months later. No one ever outright challenged him to a fight, either knowing his reputation, or just...not paying him any attention.

Shizuo looked through the crowd for that sharp smile and those cunning, playful eyes, but he never caught sight of them, and eventually he realized he was hoping he would. It made more sense for Izaya to be involved than to not. And more than that, Izaya was a common enemy. A familiar one. He knew how to handle Izaya.

After a year, it seemed no one even remembered Izaya.

Shizuo rarely saw the Orihara twins out and about, but when he did they always greeted him with excitement, usually babbling about his brother or how they were causing trouble in school. He remembered feeling unusually light when Mairu offhandedly mentioned Izaya for the first time in a long time.

“What'd you say?” he'd asked, looking down at her smiling flea-like face.

“I said Iza-nii sent us new phones! So now we can send you much better pictures. You'd better send us some, too!” Mairu's expression gave away exactly who she expected Shizuo to send pictures of, but he barely focused on that.

“He's still alive?”

“Well, duh. I mean, we rarely hear from him, but that's a good thing. He's a dick.” She'd giggled at that, and paused when Kururi nudged her.

“Iza-nii is...caring in his way...”

Mairu made a face. “She's defending him because he gave us presents today. We can go back to hating him tomorrow.”

The exchange seemed like nothing, but Shizuo had been happy to know Izaya was okay. He wasn't a murderer after all, and neither was Vorona.

Izaya was probably just causing trouble in a new city, doing his usual thing on a new playing field. Somehow, it was a comfort.

That had been only a month ago.

Today, Shizuo is rushing to Shinra's due to some frantic messages from Celty about Shinra being stabbed and 'talking crazy', though Shinra always talks crazy and is probably fine. Shizuo is more worried about Celty, and when he arrives he finds them both in the bedroom, along with Kadota.

“Yo,” Kadota greets right about the time Celty is bouncing into Shizuo's line of vision, her PDA shoved in his face to explain what happened.

“Stabbed by a patient? Well, what the fuck do you expect, working with the types of people you do?” Shizuo scoffs. He puts a soothing hand on Celty's shoulder and resists the urge to light a cigarette.

“How cruel! I take pride in my work!” Shinra sits up and winces a bit, assuring Celty he's fine. He laughs a bit and waves his hands in the air, clearly high as hell from the painkillers.

“Taking pride in patching up the Yakuza. Man, what a thing to be proud of,” Kadota says, grinning a bit. Shizuo notices his usual gang isn't with him for a change, which is nice. Talking to Kawisawa exhausts him.

“Everyone needs a doctor,” Shinra says. “Besides, it isn't the first time I've been stabbed.”

“Not surprising at all,” Shizuo says, and Shinra pouts at him.

“Hey! It was before I even became a doctor! It was back in middle school!” He's thrashing in the pillows a little, and Shizuo notices Celty is trying to make him shut up, and he can guess why. Middle school...

Shinra was friends with Izaya, then.

“I got stabbed for Izaya! Not in as bad of a place as this time, though,” Shinra explains, pointing to the bandages on his stomach. “It was in the side. Still kind of close to the same spot!”

“I heard that rumor,” Kadota says calmly, casting a single glance at Shizuo before looking back at Shinra. “But I heard it was Izaya that stabbed you.”

“What!” Shizuo barks and Celty's shoulders droop before she shoves her PDA back in Shizuo's face, but he doesn't bother reading it. “You got stabbed by that—!”

“Oh, no, that's just what we said because Izaya was trying to build a bad reputation for himself. He didn't stab me. I jumped in front of him because he was causing trouble and...” Shinra trails off, frowning a little. “Well. He's my friend. I did it without thinking.”

“To think you'd take a knife for that flea bastard,” Shizuo grunts.

Shinra smiles pleasantly and starts to say something when his phone chimes and interrupts him. He picks it up and snorts a little, his fingers moving to type his reply to whatever message he received.

“Speak of the devil, they say,” Shinra hums, and the implications hit Shizuo like a brick wall.

“You said you hadn't heard from Izaya,” Kadota says before Shizuo can.

“I say a lot of things. I rarely hear from him. He just sent me a laughing face because I told him I was stabbed.”

Celty's hands clench in fists and she types frantically, showing Shinra her paragraphs long tirade. He only laughs and waves her away.

“No, no, he knows I'm fine. Izaya is just—well. You all know how he is. He can't be so careless in showing his concerns. I'm telling him to fuck himself in reply, so.”

Shizuo has never been able to understand Shinra's friendship with Izaya, but he can't recall actually hearing much of their interactions. Come to think of it, he doesn't think Celty has been around the both of them either, because she's often expressed to Shizuo that she doesn't believe someone like Izaya Orihara could have a friend like Shinra. But then...Izaya is friends with Kadota, too, right?

Kadota seems very uninterested in what's going on, like usual. He turns to Shizuo again.

“You must've been off today,” he states, motioning to Shizuo's short sleeve shirt.

“Huh? Oh, yeah.” It's obvious Kadota is changing the subject. “I got lunch with Kasuka and then I got Celty's message.”

“I read that he's getting married to Ruri soon,” Shinra says. “How nice. I'm jealous of him! I want to marry my soulmate! Alas, she's making me wait!”

The mention has Shizuo looking down at his bicep where his own mark has always been. He's always wondered if maybe he's met his soulmate before, in passing, and scared them away with his strength. Or worse, hurt them. Or maybe his soulmate went off somewhere and died already.

He doesn't think about it when he can help it. All the outcomes seem bleak, and Shizuo has made his peace being alone.

“Hey, at least you found yours.” Kadota's voice snaps Shizuo out of his reverie. “Some people never do.”

“You'll find yours, Kadota! Your mark is on your neck. You'll be able to tell pretty easily, don't you think?” Shinra asks dreamily. His own mark is on his chest, which has to be where Celty's is. Shizuo often wonders how Shinra just knew Celty was meant to be his when he'd never even seen her mark, but then again, Celty has mentioned experiments Shinra and his father used to perform.

“Well, at least I'm not the only one who hasn't found theirs.” Kadota doesn't seem to care much about it at all, and probably doesn't.

“It could be worse,” Shinra says. “You could be stabbed.”

“Yeah, or your soulmate could be long gone, like mine,” Shizuo offers with a shrug. Kadota nods at that, grinning a bit. Shinra, however, laughs loudly.

“What's so funny?” Shizuo growls, and Shinra shakes his head, wiping moisture from under his glasses.

“Oh, man. Nothing. Nothing. But everything! You couldn't be more spot on, Shizuo. Well, you could. But you'd never really guess on your own, I don't think. Not if it's been all this time and you still haven't.”

“Wait, what? You...know who my soulmate is?” Shizuo pauses for a moment before he's on his feet. “You know that and you haven't told me?!”

Celty gets between them instantly, but she's also facing Shinra, and even without a head, it's obvious she's demanding something of him.

“Don't give me that look!” Shinra wails to her. “You know I can't deny that look! I made a promise!”

“I'm gonna make a promise to break every bone in your body if you don't fess up!” Shizuo barks, and Celty puts her hands on her hips. Shinra visibly deflates.

“The two of you are way scarier than him anyway. What can he do? He isn't even here.”

“Him?” Shizuo asks.

“Izaya,” Shinra says.

There's a long, long pause.

“What's that flea have to do with this?!” Did Izaya scare his soulmate away? It sounds like something Izaya would have done, just to torture him.

Shinra merely points to Shizuo's arm with a sly grin.

“He's got that same mark. Why do you think he always wore long sleeves around you no matter how hot it was? Come on, surely you noticed before now.” Shinra is the only one in the room who isn't dumbfounded. “I mean, it's obvious. He threatened to disembowel me if I ever told you, but my Celty wouldn't let that happen anyway! And I can hardly be blamed when I'm on drugs.”

“Izaya is Shizuo's soulmate? Izaya?” Kadota finally asks.

“It really wasn't obvious?” Shinra asks, seeming genuinely surprised.

Shizuo breaks the arms of the chair he's sitting in.

***

It takes Kadota and Celty both to stop Shizuo from pounding Shinra's face in for making such shitty jokes, and then it takes a long time afterwards for Shizuo's ears to stop ringing so he can actually hear Shinra's babbling. He excuses himself afterwards, not trusting himself not to snap and break Shinra like a twig.

Apparently Shinra had known since middle school and wanted to introduce them immediately, but Izaya never expressed interest or desire in meeting anyone, so it wasn't until they all went to the same school that he was finally cajoled into a meeting.

And then Shizuo and Izaya actually met, and Izaya saw Shizuo's mark.

Shinra was threatened into secrecy, and Izaya never intended for Shizuo to know.

Shizuo growls and stomps on his cigarette as he accidentally breaks it. It's the fourth one he's crushed, and he needs to be careful because he's running low.

“But now you know! And you can finally decide if you want to do something about it!” Shinra had said with a loopy smile.

Yeah, right. As if things could ever be so simple.

Shizuo looks up at the building he's wandered in front of. Izaya's building, or his old one, at least. The lights are off in Izaya's apartment. Shizuo wonders if Izaya still pays for it, or if someone else lives there now.

Do it, you monster.”

Those were the last words Izaya had said to him, broken and bloody, his eyes filled with hatred. And if not for Vorona, Shizuo can't say he wouldn't have killed Izaya. He wanted to. Izaya was the only person he ever truly wanted to kill in his life, and Izaya made it clear their conflict wouldn't be resolved until one of them ended up dead.

For a long time, Shizuo wondered if Izaya left the city and then died anyway, succumbing to his injuries. And Shizuo had been truly remorseful, hoping against that fate, and he had been happy to know Izaya was fine, off somewhere else.

Somehow, that shitty, shitty flea is his soulmate? It doesn't seem possible.

He looks up when he hears footsteps, and he isn't at all surprised to see Celty approaching him carefully.

You ran off so quickly.” Her PDA says.

“I couldn't hear anymore of that,” he replies, blowing his smoke away from her. Even if she doesn't have a head, he at least has manners.

Celty takes a moment to respond.

Are you okay?”

“No.”

Her helmet cocks to the side.

Are you going to be?”

“Dunno.”

Her hand squeezes his, and he drops his cigarette and stomps it, suddenly not in the mood to smoke anymore.

“Did you know?” he asks her after a while.

No! I would've told you!!!!!” She waves her hands around and then shoves her PDA back in his face. “I swear I would have! That's probably why Shinra didn't even tell me!”

“Do you think it's the truth?” Shizuo asks, not knowing what else to say. He can't see her expression, but he feels her sympathy, and he knows what she's going to say before she says it.

Shinra wouldn't lie about this.”

Shizuo sighs and looks down at his bicep. His mark is small, at least compared to others he's seen. They can be any shape or size, but only one's soulmate will have the exact same mark in the same place. Izaya must have been careful to hide it so well. It's true Shizuo has never seen him wear short sleeves in all the years they've known each other.

“It's probably some prank from Izaya. Maybe he hated me before he even met me. He just had to fuck with me even then, and he's still doing it when he's not even here.” He doesn't believe the words he's saying even as he says them, and he knows they sound ridiculous to Celty. To her credit, she only shakes her head.

Helmet.

He couldn't have known your mark before seeing it. I've been alive a long time, much longer than any of you, and I never saw a mark like mine until I met Shinra.”

Shizuo has never seen their marks, but Shinra has mentioned they resemble an amalgamation of Celtic runes. Shizuo thinks his own looks like a crescent moon or a messed up, sideways otter. The moon probably sounds more poetic, though.

“It can't be him,” Shizuo says decidedly. “And if it is, the universe made a mistake.” He glances at Celty. “Right?”

She squeezes his hand again, and they both look up at Izaya's apartment. It looks taunting in its darkness.

***

He takes a few days off work. Tom is pretty understanding, even if he doesn't know what's going on, and Vorona is more than capable of taking care of things anyway. Shizuo spends his time holed up in his apartment, smoking too much and brooding about his situation.

Shinra sends him a nonstop chain of messages, all begging him not to repeat what he was told to Izaya or anyone that knows Izaya, because Izaya would kill him, probably in a horrible way. Shizuo ignores them and lets Shinra suffer like he deserves.

He tries to think of what he should do, what he wants to do. He can't really pinpoint what he's feeling. He's never been good at handling his emotions, and his default is anger, because anger is something he's used to feeling.

Again, he settles on anger.

Why Izaya? Why? Of all people in the world, why him?

More importantly, why should Shizuo be the only one suffering from this knowledge? That shitty flea thinks he can run off and leave and never own up to any of this?!

Shizuo will kill him first!

He spends time staring at the contact in his phone saved under “Flea”. Surely Izaya would have changed his number by now. He always had more than one phone anyway, from what Shizuo remembers. Besides, what would Shizuo even say?

When he's tired of stewing alone, he goes back to work, where Vorona welcomes him back about as enthusiastically as she's capable, and Tom gives him a thumbs-up. Shizuo resumes his daily activity of slouching and trailing after Tom, but taking out his anger on dirt bags in debt really helps him relieve some stress.

“Wow, that guy went clear across the city,” Tom says after Shizuo performs an impressive overhead toss. “Something on your mind?”

“No,” Shizuo says gruffly, putting his hands back in his pockets.

“Senpai has loud thoughts today,” Vorona says to Tom, giving a curt nod to Shizuo as if she believes she's helping him.

“Anything we can help with?” Tom asks.

“No,” Shizuo says again. No one can really help him, not with this problem at least.

He catches sight of the back of two familiar heads in the crowd, going the opposite direction.

“But maybe they can,” Shizuo murmurs to himself before he takes off after the two girls. He catches them by surprise and grabs hold of their hoods. Mairu squawks and turns around with her fists raised, but she pauses when she sees it's Shizuo.

“You almost got decked in face!” she says, grinning up at him. Of the twins, she's the one who reminds him more of Izaya. Her eyes are always alight with mischief, just like the flea's.

“Wouldn't have felt it anyway.” He shrugs and lets them go.

“We saw you throw that guy. We sent a Snapchat to Iza-nii.”

Shizuo decides the most direct way is the best way.

“Where is he?”

“Huh? Who? The guy you threw? Probably across the world! You really threw him far!” Mairu giggles and mimics a throwing motion. Kururi only stares up at Shizuo.

“No. Izaya. Where is Izaya?” Shizuo asks, watching both girls' eyes widen.

“We don't know,” Mairu says.

“Secretive...” Kururi adds.

“Are you going to finish him off? You're not, right? I mean, he's a dick-hole, but we need him alive. He's loaded and he buys really nice presents when he wants,” Mairu says. Even with her words, Shizuo can tell by her expression she cares about Izaya, even if it's only a little.

“No, I just—need to talk to him. It's...important.”

Their heads both cock to the side in unison. It's kind of adorable.

“We haven't seen him once since he left. He sends things from all over. We think he's traveling.”

“Overseas,” Kururi tacks on.

“Oh,” Shizuo says, feeling more disappointed than he'd like to admit.

“He's probably been back a few times, though. He still keeps tabs on what goes on around here,” Mairu says.

“You think he'd come back and not visit you guys?” Shizuo asks, confused. He sees Kasuka whenever he can, but then again, he doesn't pretend to understand the Orihara family.

“Iza-nii wants to be perfect. We don't see him when he's less than.” Mairu shrugs like that made sense while Kururi nods. The confusion and disappointment must show on Shizuo's face, because Kururi puts a hand on his arm in a feather-like touch that might be meant to be soothing.

“Soulmates,” she says.

“Huh?! You knew about that?!”

“We lived with him for years. You really think we never saw his arm?” Mairu asks, rolling her eyes.

“I thought at least you two would say something!” Shizuo growls.

The girls share a look.

“We tried before, but Iza-nii got really upset. Like, really upset. I thought he was seriously gonna lock us in the basement like he always threatened. He stabbed a knife through the wall and almost got the neighbors to call the cops on us. It was pretty intense,” Mairu explains. “He never gets like that, even when we really make him mad. So we decided it was best to let you guys work it out.”

“You're both stubborn,” Kururi says, and Mairu laughs.

That's an understatement!”

“Hey,” Shizuo says, offended.

“I mean, you're soulmates and you always try to kill each other. That's the Everest of stubborn.”

Hey,” Shizuo repeats.

“Izaya also has a mole on his butt. In case you were curious about other marks.” Mairu's smile is more of a leer at this point.

“Oh, my god. I'm leaving,” Shizuo says.

“Wait! Do you want his Snapchat?” Mairu asks. “He changes his number all the time, but this has been his account for more than a year now.” She shows Shizuo her phone and points at the name “dorian-witness”. Or course Izaya would have a weird ass name, but it's not as strange as it could be.

“Thanks,” Shizuo mumbles.

“Do you even have a Snapchat?”

“No.”

“Can we pick your name?!” Mairu asks excitedly.

“No!”

“You're such an asshole!”

He leaves them to their pouting and stalks back over to Vorona and Tom, who thankfully don't ask him what that was about.

In the end, he doesn't send anything to that Snapchat, because he doesn't know what to say, and he doesn't understand how it works.

His next course of action is to walk past Izaya's apartment daily, just in the off chance that Izaya might still visit, like Mairu suggested. Every night, for weeks, he stands outside that building and just waits. It seems no one else lives there, since lights are never on. That's proof enough to Shizuo that Izaya still owns it. A place that swanky would have no problem being occupied otherwise.

One night, over a month later, he stops by after a particularly uneventful day at work. Those days are usually Shizuo's favorite, since he doesn't like fighting, but he does like having an outlet for his anger, and Tom never lets him go too far overboard.

It's pouring down rain and it's pretty chilly outside, but Shizuo doesn't mind so much. He almost lights a cigarette before he remembers the rain will just put it out anyway. He sighs and looks up at the building.

The lights are on.

 

Chapter Text

Izaya has always loved traveling.

He's always been good about blending in, when he tries to, at least. He loves observing people in their natural habitats, bustling about from place to place in their daily lives, never noticing how other people might be watching them fondly.

He didn't spend too much time in the cities. While they are a hotbed for people watching, Izaya mostly wanted to stay out of the way while he recovered from his encounter with Shizuo. He visited outskirts, still flocked with tourists, of course, but also alive with natural scenery. Izaya doesn't mind nature, it's just not his favorite, but he longed to roam about freely after escaping from the chair.

He chatted with locals, tourists, went inside overpriced stores and bought his sisters things, and tried his best to forgive himself for all that transpired before.

He's absorbed the shock of his failures, but sometimes they come back like a wayward boomerang and knock the wind out of him. It's all he can do to keep going.

He never intended to be gone for so long, but he never knew how badly he needed to get away until he left. He had plans to traverse around Europe next, but then that idiot Shinra had to go and get stabbed again.

Izaya sighs as he looks out the windows of the taxi. It's pouring rain outside and has been for some time now. He can't see any differences in the city, and it's a relief in some ways, disappointing in others. Life moved forward without him, but not enough to erase him. Not completely.

When his phone vibrates against his thigh, he ignores it at first, until it keeps vibrating. It's definitely Namie, and she's almost definitely pissed. He had her go and set up his office the way he had it before he left. He also suggested she clean it a bit, but she never responded to that message. She rarely does. She's rarely fun.

“Yes?” Izaya answers, watching as a woman runs under an awning to seek shelter from the rain. She's wearing heels, suede from the look of them. They're ruined now.

That man was just here. In your apartment. I had to threaten to call the cops to get him to leave,” Namie says, voice void of any concern. Izaya frowns.

“Man?”

Heiwajima. I asked if he was here to finish the job, but he only kept demanding to talk to you.” He can hear the amusement in her voice. “How quaint. He missed you.”

Izaya cuts his eyes to the taxi driver, who isn't paying him any attention, and then he puts his head down, withholding a groan. Shizuo is already skulking around? This wasn't supposed to happen so soon. Damn brute can never just do as Izaya expects.

“Missed trying to kill me, I'm sure. I'll deal with him later on. Is everything in order there?”

Yes. I looked into—“

“Good. That's all for now. Your schedule will go back to the same as it was before I left,” Izaya says pointedly, cutting her off. He's had this phone for too long now. He doesn't trust it to be secure.

Right. Deposit my payment up front. If that man kills you anytime soon, I don't expect to see my name in your will.”

She hangs up then, and Izaya scowls at the phone.

“Girl trouble?” The taxi driver asks with a smile. He's a balding man, but he doesn't look very old. There's no ring on his finger, but he has a small photo of two children taped to his dashboard. His eyes are focused on Izaya in the rear-view mirror.

“How'd you know?” Izaya asks pleasantly.

“I know that face! Just buy her some flowers and apologize. It'll work itself out,” the man says with a laugh.

“Things usually do, in the end,” Izaya says. He withholds the comment that buying Namie flowers would just give her something to eat, but the taxi driver seems to have enough problems.

Instead of being dropped off at his place like he planned, he has the driver take him to a restaurant close by, and he occupies a booth by the window. He's been here once before, with Shiki. It's a swanky place, but he can't bring himself to eat anything. He orders a coffee and keeps his eyes on the city outside.

He hates the way his body shakes. He hates the way he can't control it.

A recurring nightmare for months was Shizuo standing over him, laughing before he issued the final blow. Izaya always woke up with a start, gasping for air. It was worse when he couldn't walk, but he still has the dream sometimes.

Do it, you monster.”

It was only a little over a year ago, but it seems so much longer. Things usually do, in hindsight. Izaya was a different person then, and maybe he hasn't changed for the better, but he's changed enough to know he was wrong. His biggest mistake was ever believing Shizuo was anything more than a mere human.

“More coffee, sir?”

He looks up at the waitress. She's young, barely old enough to work here, and there's a blush on her face.

“Just the check, please,” he replies, smiling at her. She nods and hurries off. How funny.

Rain is still falling when he journeys outside again, but it's a drizzle. Izaya berates himself for not wearing a disguise of some sort. He should have anticipated a wrench in his plans, since Shizuo has always been good for that sort of thing. He at least thought he'd make it home before Shizuo stalked over to kill him.

His building is only a block away from the restaurant, and he hurries as much as he can without actually running. His spine has healed nicely, but overdoing it always causes some soreness, and most likely will the rest of his life. He's just really not in the mood to deal with that tonight.

As soon as he passes the threshold into his apartment, it's like greeting an old friend. His computer is turned on, his screensaver the only light source. He sets his keys on the table and sighs softly, turning to lock the door behind him.

Only it's open, and Shizuo is there, dripping water onto the floor in a puddle.

Things happen very quickly after that. Izaya jumps backwards, his knife out in a flash, and Shizuo is catching his arm, holding it tightly, glaring down at him with dark eyes that look almost black in the low light.

“Show it to me.” Shizuo is growling, and Izaya can't think of what he means, is too busy willing his heart to slow down. He feels like a trapped rabbit staring into the eyes of a wolf.

“Let go of me! You'll snap my arm off!” Izaya scowls and tries to wrench free, but of course that became impossible the moment Shizuo caught him. “Were you waiting here for me? I haven't even been in Ikebukuro!”

“Your arm, show me your arm! Come on!” Shizuo tries to pull at Izaya's coat, which gives Izaya time to slip out of it and fling himself halfway across the room.

“Get out, you beast! I have no plans to be near you, let alone in the same room. You got what you wanted. So—“

“Fuck that! Show me your arm! I won't believe it until I see it!”

Only then does Izaya realize the implications. He runs his tongue along the backside of his teeth, tries to think of a way out of this.

“See what?” he asks to buy time. The hairs on the back of his neck stand at the noise of fury Shizuo makes.

“Your mark! Your soulmate mark, I-za-ya!” The syllables are drawn out. Shizuo has always wielded Izaya's name like a weapon.

“I don't have one,” Izaya says.

“Like hell! Fuck that! Fuck you! Roll your sleeve up or I'll rip your goddamn shirt off!”

Izaya remembers Shizuo's mark is on his right arm. Shizuo is an idiot, and him being so angry could actually work well in Izaya's favor.

He slowly rolls his right sleeve up, revealing his bicep. His unmarked bicep. Shizuo stares at it dumbly, his breathing slowing down as his eyes narrow.

“See? Nothing. I would have it the same place as you if—“

“The other one, then,” Shizuo spits. Izaya freezes.

“It...would be the same arm, Shizu-chan.”

“No. It can be either arm. Either leg. Kasuka's is on his left ankle, and Ruri's in on the right.”

Izaya hadn't planned for Shizuo to use logic. If the beast can learn, Izaya truly misjudged him.

“Surely you didn't come here to make me strip,” Izaya says, and Shizuo huffs before storming towards him. Izaya sidesteps him and backs away again, his eyes darting for the door.

“Show me the damn mark! Shinra already told me! You being sketchy about it only proves it more!” Shizuo yells, swiping at him again.

Fucking Shinra. Or course.

“Shinra's a liar. You've known him long enough to know that,” Izaya says.

You're the damn liar, you shitty flea. Where'd you even go, huh? Off to ruin other lives?” Shizuo lurches at him again, and Izaya jumps over his coffee table, almost making it to the door before Shizuo blocks it.

“Yes. I'm horrible and as bad as you always believed, so wouldn't you rather die than find out someone like me is your soulmate? Wouldn't you sleep better never knowing for sure?” Izaya fingers his knife, glaring up at Shizuo. Lighting flashes outside and illuminates them both for a split second.

“The not knowing is what's the worst thing about it.”

Izaya blinks at him, and then laughs a little.

“I'd have thought you'd be used to it by now. The not knowing things.”

Shizuo bares his teeth and stalks forward again, and then he...pauses. Stops.

“No,” he says. “You're trying to make me mad so I'll let this go. It's not gonna work.”

“That's twice I've seen you use critical thinking and real world applications tonight, Shizu-chan. Did you take a class while I was gone?” Izaya asks.

“Yeah, a class on seeing through your bullshit,” Shizuo says. He raises his fist, and Izaya instinctively backs away to avoid it, his eyes trained on Shizuo's hands. Shizuo takes the opportunity to move forward, and Izaya slashes his knife blindly, too afraid of what might happen if he gets caught again.

He feels when his blade meets skin, and he stops pushing forward, his eyes widening.

His knife is stuck halfway through Shizuo's palm, blood pouring from the wound.

“Ha! Got you!” Shizuo exclaims proudly, his fist clenching in Izaya's shirt and lifting him almost off the ground. “Get out of this one, I-za-ya! You'll have to take your shirt off, and then I'll see anyway!”

“You...have a knife in your hand, and you've still got a one-track mind?” Izaya squirms, reaching for another blade. Shizuo lets his shirt go and instead catches his wrists, pressing him backwards until Izaya feels the cool surface of the wall at his back.

Stop. I didn't come here to fight you,” Shizuo says.

“I can feel your blood seeping into my shirt, you disgusting Cro Magnon asshole!” Izaya spits, not okay with any of this. Shizuo's right hand is closed around his left wrist, smearing blood as he pulls Izaya's sleeve up, his dark eyes never looking away from Izaya's.

Then he finally breaks eye contact, looking down at Izaya's arm.

Izaya used to entertain plans of covering the mark. He read stories about people getting tattoos over their marks, heartbroken people who lost their soulmates to death and didn't want to look at the reminders of their lost loves. The mark always shows back up eventually, shining through the tattoo, no matter what color ink. It isn't something that can be covered or forgotten.

He's long since looked at it as a curse.

Shizuo seems to be thinking something different as he gazes down at the mark with gentler eyes than Izaya's ever seen him with. He touches Izaya's skin almost tentatively, his bloody fingers smearing over the crescent moon shape and turning Izaya's pale skin crimson.

“I should've known,” Shizuo says softly, clearly to himself and not Izaya. “The world loves fucking me over. It couldn't have been anyone but you.”

“You got what you wanted,” Izaya says, and Shizuo looks at him like he just remembered Izaya was actually present. “Leave.”

“Why didn't you tell me?” Shizuo asks, and he has the nerve to look offended when Izaya laughs in his face.

“Yes, how might that conversation have gone? What would you have said? Would things have been different? Do you think it would have stopped you from beating me within an inch of my life?”

“Yes! I mean—shit, I deserved to know! You owed me—!”

“I owed you nothing then and I owe you nothing now! Nothing! This means nothing to me! Do you understand? This mark, this curse, has meant nothing to me for years! I don't think about it. I don't remember it.” Izaya smirks when Shizuo growls lowly at him. “You mean nothing to me. I don't even hate you anymore. I feel nothing for you.”

“Bullshit. You wore sleeves all those years, fearing I'd see it, didn't you? You wanted to ignore it, but couldn't. You aren't as hard to read as you think you are.” Shizuo's eyes haven't left Izaya's mark.

It's infuriating.

“So now what? What do you want? What'd you expect to get out of this? Are we going to exist happily ever after now? Is that's what's in your basic caveman brain? We almost killed each other! Did you forget that, or—“

“God, shut up. You talk too damn much.”

Shizuo finally drops Izaya's arms and moves back, glaring at his still bleeding hand like it's an inconvenience he's only just remembered.

“I don't know, okay. I don't know what's next. You piss me the fuck off, and that's not ever gonna change. But—fuck, we can't ignore this!” Shizuo's eyes go right back to the mark, and Izaya yanks his sleeve down. Shizuo very nearly pouts.

“Ignoring it is exactly what we're going to do,” Izaya says.

“People go their whole lives without ever finding their soulmates,” Shizuo says like it matters. Like it's important.

“I'm aware. And lucky them! If only we had been as blessed. You're aware this is the longest conversation we've ever had without trying to kill each other? You really think I'm your soulmate?”

“Honestly, I'm thinking the universe made a giant ass mistake,” Shizuo mutters. He reaches for his cigarettes.

“No smoking in here! Go outside!”

“It's raining outside.”

“Then go home and smoke! Why are you still even here?!” Izaya wants to shower, and immediately. He feels Shizuo's blood drying on his skin.

“Because I don't trust you not to vanish if I leave!”

“This is rich. You're always telling me to go, and now you don't want me to because of some mark. I knew you'd buy into this entire charade like it was fate. It's exactly why I never wanted you to know.” Izaya picks his coat up off the floor and drapes it over the back of a chair.

“It is fate. I'm just not happy about it.”

Shizuo stands there, crossing his arms and looking furious, still soaking wet and bleeding. Izaya pinches the bridge of his nose. He hasn't had a headache like this since the last time the twins stayed the night at his place.

“Here's a thought. At least go home and smoke and groom and hibernate like other beasts. There's no need to stand there scowling at me like I'm responsible for this.”

“I don't like it,” Shizuo says, and he doesn't elaborate because of course he doesn't.

“Wonderful input as always, Shizu-chan. Truly you're a scholar, the greatest mind in the world since Hawking's death.”

“Stop being an asshole! You're back because you're in trouble, aren't you?” Shizuo asks, glowering like he doesn't like that thought.

“In a manner of speaking,” Izaya says.

“Are they strong?”

“Somewhat.”

“Alright. Shitty, vague as fuck flea. Fine. Don't leave, and don't die. And also, fuck you.” Shizuo slouches and and goes for the door before he pauses. “Wait.”

“What now?”

“Give me your number. And it'd better be the real one.”

Izaya huffs and takes Shizuo's phone, wincing at the blood on the case as he enters his number. He considers putting a fake one in anyway, but Shizuo will probably call it as soon as Izaya hands it back.

“Good. See ya,” is all Shizuo says before he leaves. Izaya doesn't know what makes him madder, that Shizuo trusted him enough to enter a real number, or that he himself didn't even try to enter a fake one.

Furious beyond belief, he picks his phone up and calls his dearest, closest friend.

Izaya? Are you actually calling me?” Shinra's voice answers.

“Shinra. How's that stab wound of yours?” Izaya asks.

Oh, wow, are you really worried? It's fine. Celty is even playing nurse! It's so cute. I was tempted to get her an outfit, but she was really against it.”

“That's nice. So, you'll never guess who I just saw. Shizu-chan! Can you believe it?”

There's a long pause on the other line.

Oh. Uh...you're home? You should've said!”

“I like to travel without expectations. Are you sitting down? Are you comfortable?” Izaya asks, moving around the kitchen to brew himself some hot water for tea.

Um, yes? I'm as comfortable as someone with a stab wound can be. Remember how I'm injured! You wouldn't threaten an injured man, right?” Shinra asks, and Izaya laughs.

“Oh, my dear Shinra. I just want you comfortable while you sit there and listen to all the horrible things I'm going to do to you when I see you again.”

 

Chapter Text

“Well, honestly it sounds like it went about as smoothly as it could have.”

Shinra is busy patching up Shizuo's hand. Miraculously the knife didn't go too far through, but it's deep enough to warrant some heavy duty bandages. Shizuo probably could've just super-glued it, but he wanted someone to hear his complaints, even if it's just Shinra.

“There's a hole in my hand,” Shizuo says, flicking Shinra's forehead.

“Ow! Yeah, but it sounds like that was more your fault than his, and—ouch, ow, okay! Stop!” Shinra wails as Shizuo pinches his arm.

“Dunno why I bothered even trying. At least I have answers now. It's not like he ever would've said anything. All he did was stand there and bombard me with questions.” Shizuo managed to smoke only one cigarette on the way over, since it's pouring. He had to stand under a nearby stoop, but now he's wishing he'd had time to smoke more. Even the weather is against him tonight.

“I'm going to say something, and I want you to remember it's as your friend, and that if you maim me, Celty will avenge me,” Shinra says, wisely backing away before he continues. “What exactly did you expect from him? What could he have said before now that would've changed things? You hated him the first time you saw him.”

“I was right about him. He's a conniving, manipulative little asshole. All he ever did was cause me problems!” Shizuo huffs and wants very much to pinch Shinra again, but he doesn't want to seriously hurt him, nor does he want Celty upset with him for doing so.

“You never even gave him a chance, actually. And Izaya knew from the moment you met that you were his soulmate, so.” Shinra edges his way back over so he can continue patching up Shizuo's hand. “He was probably just hurt and wanted you to pay for hurting him.”

“You say that like the flea actually has feelings. I'm having a hard time believing you,” Shizuo says, and Shinra gives him a look.

“I've known Izaya a very long time. You're the only friend I've known longer. Something you and Izaya have always had in common is that you can't control your emotions. You rely on anger and Izaya tries his best to convince everyone he doesn't have any at all. Actually, you both feel things very strongly, and then you react in the worst possible ways.” Shinra shakes his head. “It's always extremes with you both. You didn't show any kindness to him, so he went immediately for hatred. It's exactly the kind of thing Izaya does.”

Shizuo grimaces, not liking any of this. Seeing Izaya in a different light at all makes his head hurt and his fury rise. But then, that's exactly Shinra's point, so he does his best to keep calm.

“Besides, before you got here, Izaya called me.” Shinra pales, and frowns a little. “I'm going to have to avoid him for a while.”

“I'm doing the opposite of avoiding him. I shouldn't be the only one who has to deal with this,” Shizuo says.

“That sounds like a spectacularly bad idea,” Shinra says, motioning to Shizuo's bandaged hand. “One of you will probably end up dead for real. Or you'll destroy an entire city.”

“I don't even feel this,” Shizuo says, waving his hand a little. “And you have no one to blame but yourself.”

Shinra droops almost comically.

“I was high from pain medicine! I didn't mean to say anything! But I am glad it's out in the open now. There's no point in ignoring fate! Izaya is always bad-mouthing soulmates and everything that goes with it, but I'm fated to be with my Celty, so it can't be a worthless concept!” He finishes with the bandages and grins up at Shizuo. “I never thought I'd see the day you were the one being reasonable, but Izaya would be single forever if left up to him.”

Shizuo balks at the idea, then is forced to ask himself what exactly he thought would happen between him and Izaya if they are actually meant for each other. The thought of kissing Izaya or...or worse makes him cringe, but he's the one who barged in on Izaya, demanding answers. He's the one trying to disprove things by laying it all out in the open and then seeing where they might end up.

Izaya would have rather they ignored it forever.

Maybe the flea was right.

“Hey,” Shinra says, putting a hand on Shizuo's shoulder. Shizuo immediately wants to shrug it off but doesn't, thinking perhaps Shinra is trying to be comforting. “I know both of you better than anyone else. We all grew up together! The universe isn't wrong. You just have to make him see that.”

“Why do I have to do anything about it?” Shizuo asks, only a little bitterly.

“Now you're starting to sound like Izaya.” Shinra grins. “Isn't that insulting? You don't want to sound like him, right?”

Shizuo's hands clench into fists, his teeth baring through tight lips. Shinra only looks more pleased.

“You're soulmates, alright,” Shinra chirps. He claps his hands together and then turns to put his medical supplies away. “You weren't better off not knowing. My only regret is that I didn't tell you sooner, before such damage was already done.”

Shizuo remembers vividly how it felt to have Izaya's bones break under his hands, Izaya's blood on his skin. Throughout the entire fight, Izaya never once let it show how much pain he was in. He only ever looked at Shizuo with hatred, with vindication. Tonight, when he cornered Izaya in his apartment, Izaya looked truly fearful for the first time. Shizuo's never seen him like that.

“Is Izaya scared of anything?” Shizuo asks before he can think better of it.

“Dogs,” Shinra says. “Even the little ones. Also, he has a thing about fish eyes. He really hates those.”

“Was he ever... I mean, did he ever tell you he was scared of me?”

Shinra looks at him with such sympathy it makes his blood boil.

“Not in words,” Shinra finally says. “I think part of him was always scared of you, but not for your strength. You know?”

“He was that scared of being soulmates with me?” Shizuo still doesn't like the way that sounds, but it's undeniable now. He saw and felt the mark on Izaya's skin. It's real.

Shinra sighs. “It's like... Izaya doesn't know what to do with actual feelings. Or...actual things outside his control. He was fated to be with you his entire life, and naturally to a control freak like him, that's terrifying. Then he met you and found out about your super strength and...well. I think he was jealous of you. Honestly when I think of you two and your little feud, it's always going back to jealousy.”

Shizuo doesn't ask, but he must look confused, because Shinra continues.

“If you notice, Izaya doesn't have friends. He's always putting himself on another level, like he's better than needing people. He's always alone. I think he thought you'd always be alone, too. But you aren't, are you?” Shinra smiles again. “You have a lot of friends. You have a lot of people who care about you.”

“Yeah, but that's because he's an asshole! Maybe if he wasn't such a prick—“

“It's easier to act like that than admit he's lonely.”

Shizuo doesn't know what to do or say to that, so he opts for not doing anything. Shinra hums absently while he finishes tidying up.

“I've always been his friend, but that's not thanks to him at all. I had to beg him to start a club with me. But a part of him must have liked me, because he never shoved me away. I even hugged him once!” Shinra says proudly. “He looked terrified, like he didn't know what a hug was. Sometimes I threaten to do it again so he'll back up and scowl at me.”

“You're a lunatic, Shinra,” Shizuo says, because it's true.

“I don't need to hear that from you,” Shinra replies, and Shizuo has to admit he has a point.

***

The rain hasn't let up the next morning, though it does have little breaks in between. Shizuo didn't bring an umbrella, but Tom brought an extra one for him and Vorona to share. They trail behind Tom, and Shizuo can feel Vorona's pale eyes on him.

“You seem happier today,” she says.

“I got some answers,” Shizuo says with a shrug.

“Good.” Vorona looks away from him and toward's Tom's back.

Shizuo considers her a friend, but he can't talk to her about all he can with Celty. Vorona only knows of Izaya from Shizuo's hatred and her brief interactions with him. Celty has told Shizuo of times Izaya seemed almost human, though Shizuo didn't want to hear it, before. Now he finds himself wanting to know a lot about Izaya, and the flea won't tell him anything himself.

“You still have many questions,” Vorona says after a while, and Shizuo snorts. She's good at reading him. The women in his life are too intuitive.

“I guess I do.”

“Do you need anything from me?”

Shizuo considers this, and he shakes his head. All he could ask her to do is stalk Izaya for him, and that would only end badly. Vorona would gladly break Izaya's legs and bring him to Shizuo in a heap.

“This is something I've gotta do on my own,” he says.

“I see. Then I wish you luck.”

“Isn't it obvious?” Tom asks, looking back at them and making them stop to avoid running into him. “Shizuo has a lady friend!”

Shizuo feels his face heating up, and Vorona looks between him and Tom.

“You're embarrassing Senpai,” she says.

“Oh, come now! I think it's great, Shizuo. If you need anything at all, just let me know! I'll be glad to give you a night off for a date!”

“That's not it at all! Just—ugh, just shut up.” Shizuo hands the umbrella to Vorona and stalks out into the rain. “I'm taking a break!”

He can hear Vorona's soft voice berating Tom behind him as he travels to a covered bench across the street. A moment later, they disappear inside a little cafe, and Shizuo lights a cigarette. He takes his phone out and stares at Izaya's number. He considers sending threatening things, but decides against it. He's supposed to be trying to be civil to Izaya, at least until he can prove to himself there's no way Izaya can be his soulmate.

He unconsciously fingers the mark on his arm through his shirt, then growls at himself for doing so. He wonders if Izaya ever does that too, but it seems unlikely.

Izaya likes to pretend the mark isn't there, after all.

“Hey man, we're ending things early today,” Tom's voice says suddenly, breaking Shizuo from his thoughts. He wonders how long he's been sitting here. His cigarette isn't lit anymore.

“Oh, okay,” Shizuo says, hoping they didn't see him touching his mark. Tom and Vorona are holding bags of food from that cafe.

“Here's yours, Senpai,” Vorona says, handing him a bag.

“We'll pick up tomorrow. Nothing's really going on today, and I'm tired of walking around in the rain. Have a good night, Shizuo!” Tom says with a wink, and if Shizuo didn't respect the man so much, he'd rip his smug head off.

Left to his own devices for the evening, he stands from the bench and notes he's closer to the flea's than his place.

He also notes how pissed off he is, and he starts walking.

***

Knocking once, for politeness, he shoulders Izaya's door open, and realizes it was probably locked because there's a hole in the wall where it was latched. Izaya is sitting at his desk, glaring openly at Shizuo, and standing beside him is that woman who was there the night before.

What are you doing?” Izaya asks, and Shizuo holds up the bag from the cafe.

“It's raining. Your place is closer.” He heads for Izaya's couch.

“You're soaked, you imbecile! You aren't sitting anywhere in here!” He gets up hurriedly and walks across the apartment, but not towards Shizuo. He emerges a moment later with a towel and throws it. “Haven't you heard of an umbrella? Or asking to come over, maybe? Why even ask for my number if you have no intentions of being polite?”

“Hey, I knocked,” Shizuo says, using the towel to dry his hair first. “Besides, if I called first, you'd have left.”

Izaya doesn't refute this, but he looks enraged all the same.

“Are the two of you finally fucking?” The woman asks, and she doesn't even flinch when Shizuo and Izaya both glower at her. She shrugs. “It's been a long time coming. The sexual tension couldn't be cut with a sword, at this point.”

“Namie, the only thing you should be doing is calling the police to get this brute out of here,” Izaya says.

“Hey, if you want to cause a scene, I'll be glad to do that. It'd be kind of embarrassing though, wouldn't it? How many cops would it take to get him out?” Namie asks, and Izaya visibly bristles.

“Unbelievable. Shizu-chan, can't you read a room and tell when you aren't wanted?”

“Nope. Kasuka says I can't read atmosphere to save my life. Also, I don't really care what you want, I-za-ya.”

Namie is grinning, and it's only making Izaya madder.

“Out,” he says.

“You won't be murdered, right?” She looks at Shizuo. “Don't kill him until after he pays me.”

Out, I said!”

She grabs her purse and then leaves, but not before giving Izaya the same smug look Tom gave Shizuo earlier. Izaya stands there, watching his door close, and then creep open again, since it's broken and can't latch correctly.

“You destroy things easily enough, but can you fix them?” Izaya asks.

“Huh?”

“My door. Can you fix it, or should I call someone?”

“Oh. I mean...do you have tools? I think you need...wood.” Shizuo isn't exactly handy. He's never had reason to learn.

Izaya sighs and studies the darkening sky outside.

“I doubt anyone could get to it until tomorrow,” he says mostly to himself.

“What, your Yakuza friends can't fix it for you?” Shizuo asks, and Izaya smirks at him.

“You say that as if they ever dirty their own hands. Dota-chin, though... He's handy.”

Izaya picks up his phone, and Shizuo feels...something about the fact Izaya relies on their mutual friend for assistance here, even if it's for something so mundane.

Mostly he feels angry.

He bites into his sandwich, some weird, toasted thing, and his mood improves a bit because it's really good, also because Izaya is acting natural even with Shizuo in his space.

It's progress, at least.

Izaya returns to the room a while later and snorts at Shizuo, shaking his head a bit.

“You'll have to go home soon to change, you know. Is there even a point to you being here aside from annoying me?”

“Not really,” Shizuo says.

“Of course. At least there's a constant in all this. We don't change much, do we?”

Shizuo could point out they've both changed quite a lot, actually, since they're in the same room and it's still standing, but he doesn't. He decides to focus on how good that sandwich was, and Izaya's apartment around them.

It's begrudgingly nice. He's never actually paid attention to the space, even the few times he's been here. There's a large bookcase he makes his way over to. He fingers the spines and tries to recognize any of the titles.

“Don't you dare pretend you can read,” Izaya says, and Shizuo turns to glare at him before he yanks a book off the shelf.

“It'd be a shame if I used your favorite books to mop up all this water, huh?” he growls, motioning to the wet footprints he's left on the hardwood. Izaya's lip curls in a sneer.

“Why are you here?” Izaya demands again, motioning around. “You got what you wanted last night. You got the answer you wanted. I thought you'd have come to your senses by now and realized this is all pointless.” He laughs in disbelief, and then crosses his arms over his chest. “Of course, look who I'm talking to. You don't have enough sense to ever realize anything. You just exist on your own basic plane of comprehension, and when you don't understand, you just keep pushing forward because you're too stupid to do anything else.”

Shizuo frowns, observing. Izaya just looks defensive, and when he stands like that, he looks smaller than Shizuo's ever seen him.

“I'm not going to hurt you,” Shizuo says, his gaze hardening. “Even if that's what you want me to do.”

The aftermath of his statement is filled with silence that's somehow deafening. They just watch each other from opposite ends of the room, and it's only when the door opens that Izaya looks away.

“I was trying to knock, but...” Kadota says as he steps in. He looks at the scene before him and pauses. “Uh. Bad time?”

“Ah, Dota-chin, you arrived quickly,” Izaya says, turning. His demeanor is suddenly so pleasant. Shizuo grinds his teeth.

“Well yeah, I told you I was close by,” Kadota says. He puts a hand on Izaya's shoulder. “It's been a long time. How've you been?”

“As well as one can be with a monster in their space.” Izaya smirks and points to Shizuo. “I don't suppose you know the commands to get him to leave?”

“I-za-yaaaaaaaaaaa...”

“Scary!” Izaya says, and he goes back to smiling. “As I said, my door is broken. Can you fix it?”

“You didn't say how it was broken,” Kadota says, and Shizuo wonders if Izaya knows that when Shinra explained the soulmate thing, Kadota was part of the audience. “Should I leave you two alone and come back later?”

“Later will be tomorrow, and I have too many enemies to sleep here tonight without a latching door.”

Kadota sighs and looks at the broken latch. “I'll see what I can do.”

As Kadota tinkers with the door latch, Izaya visibly bores and goes back to his computer, and Shizuo eventually makes his way over to Kadota, who only arches a brow at Shizuo, but otherwise doesn't mention the strangeness of the entire situation.

“I wasn't trying to break it,” Shizuo says, just so someone knows. It's tiring being so strong. He breaks far more than he means to, and no one ever believes him when he says it was accidental.

“For a swanky place, it was a shitty lock,” Kadota says. “Yo, Izaya. You have a security system, right?”

“Of course,” Izaya says, pausing in his typing and looking over at them.

“Good.” Kadota goes back to tinkering with the door.

“Aw, Dota-chin. Worrying about little old me?” Izaya asks in a too sweet, sing-song voice.

“Well,” Kadota says, “you just got back after a year of...hiatus. It'd be a shame if you had to leave so soon again.”

“Ha!” Izaya turns back to his monitor, shaking his head. “I'm not that fragile. Give me some credit.”

“You look like shit, actually.”

Shizuo looks at Kadota with surprise. Is this a usual exchange between the two? He's never actually paid attention to Izaya with other people. He was always trying to chase Izaya away, out of the city.

Izaya just look irritated.

“I've been busy,” he says shortly.

“Busy. Right.” Kadota pulls a shim out of one of his pockets and starts cutting it with a razor knife, cutting it so it'll fit in the hole Shizuo made when the latch ripped out of the door. “You've always been shit at taking care of yourself. Guess that won't ever change.”

Izaya's lips twitch and then he's offering a cruel imitation of a smile. “Don't pretend we're so close. It's unsettling to say the least.”

He stands from the chair and Shizuo looks him over. Does he look worse than usual? He looks thinner. Which for Izaya, is very thin. There are dark circles under Izaya's eyes. Were there always? Shizuo doesn't think he ever paid attention before.

Does Izaya have many sleepless nights, or is this new? Is something keeping him up? Nightmares, maybe? What could be scary enough to keep someone like Izaya awake at night?

“Door's fixed. For now, at least. You should probably call someone to get you some better locks. Get longer screws, too. If those had been substantial to begin with, they wouldn't have popped out so easily,” Kadota says.

“As long as it holds for the night, it'll do,” Izaya replies breezily. “Thanks. What do I owe you?”

“Special rate for old friends. Consider it a welcome back gift.”

“Boo. Why not spring for an actual gift?”

“Asshole.” Kadota laughs and lifts his hand in a small wave. His eyes linger on Shizuo for a moment. “Try not to kill each other. For what it's worth, I think it's refreshing to see the two of you getting along.”

Izaya rolls his eyes and waves Kadota away before he sits back at his computer. The clicking noise of typing resumes, and Kadota leaves, closing the newly fixed door behind him. Shizuo considers what he's even doing. He should probably go. This is all weird enough as it is, but he thinks being alone with Izaya in Izaya's apartment counts as...hanging out?

In what universe would he ever hang out with Izaya? This one, apparently. His head hurts.

He wants a cigarette.

“Are you leaving yet?” Izaya asks. Shizuo looks over at him. Izaya is barely masking his annoyance. His eyebrows are pinched. “Or are you still playing pretend?”

“I'm not pretending anything,” Shizuo says. He remembers now why he's here. Annoying Izaya is just a bonus. “You're the one pretending. Do you always just try to ignore your problems until they go away?”

“You're just so interested in my life now, aren't you? You've flipped this switch in your animal brain, and now you've decided killing me would've been bad. Boohoo, poor Shizu-chan and his mean monster strength.” Izaya makes a face. “This is stupid and pointless. I wasn't even planning on seeing you this entire trip back, yet here you are.”

“Like hell. You would've fucked with me at some point. Can't help yourself.”

“I haven't fucked with you since you almost killed me.”

Shizuo's eyes snap back to Izaya, but Izaya isn't looking at him.

“In any case, I'm not planning on being here for a long time. My current job is...complicated, but it shouldn't take more than a few months. Then I plan to never see any of you again, if I can help it.” Izaya glances outside. “It stopped raining. Go home now to your beastly cave, and do whatever it is you do in your spare time.”

Shizuo growls. Stupid fucking flea. Fucking Izaya, always running away and never taking responsibility for the shit he's involved in! He wants to leave forever? He wants to leave Shizuo alone in knowing they share the same mark? Of course he does.

Shizuo will kill him first!

“Fine. Then I have a few months,” Shizuo decides. Instead of walking towards the door, he turns to Izaya's precious couch, and he flops down on it. It's nice.

“You're still wet!” Izaya hisses. Shizuo ignores him and grabs the remote. He flips through channels on the huge TV mounted on the wall.

“Swanky,” Shizuo says. “I'm glad it pays well to be a menace to society.”

“You punch people for a living,” Izaya mumbles. It really is funny, seeing him so annoyed. Shizuo can't remember a time he got under Izaya's skin so badly, and it's all to do with the mark. For once, Shizuo has the upper hand, and it's driving Izaya crazy, isn't it?

Shizuo settles on some cooking show, because he likes watching the competitions, and at some point, the rain outside resumes, and pelts at the windows of the apartment. Izaya's typing kind of fades into the background. It's all kind of cozy, actually, and Shizuo is even able to forget he's uncomfortable in his soaked clothes.

He must have fallen asleep at some point, because the next thing he knows, it's daylight outside, and it's too fucking bright. Izaya really needs curtains.

He groans, and puts a hand over his face. He really passed out in Izaya's apartment. The TV is still on, volume low, and Izaya is nowhere to be found. Shizuo wonders if he left the night before, or if Izaya slept in his room, not wanting to let Shizuo win.

He stands and stretches, taking out his phone to check the time. He should be able to walk to his place, shower, change, and meet Tom and Vorona at a reasonable time. Taking a cab would be too expensive, and if he's a little late, Tom will understand.

It feels kind of like a walk of shame, going through the streets in the clothes he wore the night before. He wears the same thing all the time, so it's not like anyone knows, but he feels like they do, the way they stare at him with tiny smiles, a few of them looking close to laughter. Maybe it's all in his head. If they know him, they'd know better than to make fun of him, right?

It's probably all in his head.

His phone vibrates against his pocket, probably to let him know it's low on battery. He's lucky he didn't ruin the damn thing, since it undoubtedly got wet the day before.

It's a text. From Izaya.

Have you looked in a mirror yet?

Shizuo frowns at the message, and moves towards a parked car on the side of street. He looks at his reflection in the windows.

Doodles are covering his face, ranging from badly drawn cats to excellently rendered and anatomically accurate dicks. A literal sausage fest is portrayed on his face, and it's almost definitely permanent marker.

“I-ZA-YAAAAAAAAAA!”

Chapter Text

It's a complicated thing, the human mind.

Izaya has always loved studying the way people tick, what makes them, them. He loves the different expressions, the triumphs, the hardships. He loves people, and he loves pushing them to their limits, making them stronger than they ever thought possible. He loves watching people face their fears.

He doesn't love it in himself, however.

He hates the things his mind is afraid of, even more so now. He can't stop himself no matter how much he dislikes it, even if he knows fear is a useless thing for him to feel. It does nothing for him. Most people feel fear, and they know to stay away from things. High altitudes, deep oceans, dangerous animals—all things to be avoided.

Izaya has always charged at what scared him, full speed ahead.

He doesn't allow himself to be frightened away, even in the interest of self-preservation. He's always known Shizuo could and likely would one day destroy him—but he never factored in that he'd be alive to regret it in the aftermath.

His body was broken, and it healed. It took time and work Izaya didn't want to put into it, but he eventually got over himself enough to work through his pain and make it out of the chair, then away from the crutches.

His mind, even still sharp as ever, is far from healed. And what's worse, Shizuo has no idea, and won't leave him alone.

As payback for the crude drawings on his face, Shizuo has taken to barging into Izaya's daily life, usually just to piss Izaya off, which he's unnaturally good at. Worse yet, there isn't a lot Izaya can do about it. Sure, he could call the police, but as Namie mentioned before, it'd cause a great deal of commotion and there's no definitive proof they could even get Shizuo to leave. He could jam a knife in Shizuo's throat, but then he's almost positive Shizuo can regenerate himself like a microscopic life form, or a horrible alien creature from a horror movie. Plus, then Shizuo would almost definitely snap his neck in retaliation, and Izaya would be killing a human being anyway, if he killed Shizuo, loathe though he is to admit it.

He does his best to ignore Shizuo, and he tries to shake Shizuo off his trail when he can, but he's never been good at hiding from the beast, who has chased him for as long as he can remember. It seems every time he turns around, Shizuo is there, on his heels, reaching out to grab him.

He only wishes his body wasn't so scared of Shizuo. His heart physically aches from the constant adrenaline he feels when Shizuo is around.

“That man isn't here today?” Namie asks, breaking his thoughts.

“Yes, he is. Can't you see his daunting form on the couch?” Izaya asks, motioning to nothing. She huffs at him.

“It's getting to be strange when he isn't around. It's been almost two weeks of him barging in, and neither of you even talking. It just seems pointless, given your history.”

“You know nothing of our history,” Izaya says. “Besides, haven't you heard of an impasse? Talking isn't required.”

“Whatever,” Namie says, flipping her hair. “You're not completely stupid, though. You know things can't continue this way.”

Closing his browser, Izaya sighs, pushing his chair away from the desk.

“That was almost a compliment, Namie,” he tells her, delighting when her expression sours.

“I'm just curious to know where all this is going. Even you can't fight fate.”

“Fate. Right.” Izaya stretches, wincing a bit when his lower back twinges. “You don't share a mark with the one you love. It hasn't stopped you, has it? Where is fate in that scenario?”

She slams her hands down on the table, leaning in to glare at Izaya, who only smiles at her pleasantly.

“Don't pretend to understand my situation. It's entirely different. I'm not the one living in denial,” she hisses, pointing at him. “I don't even have a—“

“A mark. I know that. How could you possibly think I didn't know that? You don't have a mark, how shocking! It doesn't matter. You're one of the lucky ones,” Izaya says.

“Lucky!” She laughs incredulously, her eyes narrowing at him. “In a world where people are born knowing who they're meant to be with, I'm one of the lucky ones because I was meant to be with no one? Your logic is even more twisted than usual.”

“You're lucky because you're free to choose.” Izaya shrugs on his coat. “Besides, people put entirely too much stock in the soulmate thing anyway. Did you know forty percent of people never encounter their soulmates at all? Another twenty learn their soulmates died a long time ago. And then a whopping ten percent, like you, have no mark at all.”

“A thirty percent chance of meeting your soulmate before it's too late,” Namie says, “and you think it's unlucky you've found yours. Of course you do.” She folds her arms across her chest. “You're determined to die alone.”

“Dying alone is better than dying with someone who hates you,” he says placidly. “Shizu-chan will realize that, in time. It's better to let him fizzle himself out.”

“Oh, please,” she says. “The only thing you hate about him is that he hates you.”

He opens his mouth to retort something biting about her incestuous crush, but his door opens, and Shizuo strolls in, like he has every day this week. Izaya pinches the bridge of his nose. Namie looks positively gleeful.

“We were just talking about you,” she says.

“Thought I had the heebie jeebies,” Shizuo replies easily.

“Feel free to stick around, Shizu-chan,” Izaya says, and he doesn't miss the way Shizuo's eyes widen in response. “I have places to be.”

“Places?” Shizuo asks.

“A meeting,” Namie supplies.

“Lock up when you're leaving,” Izaya tells her, passing them both. He clenches his teeth when Shizuo turns on his heel and starts following after Izaya instead. “You can't come.”

“Sure as hell seems like I can,” Shizuo says, unfazed. Izaya laughs.

“This particular client doesn't like intruders. If anything happens, don't say I didn't warn you.” Izaya twirls to look at Shizuo, walking backwards so he can observe Shizuo's face. “If you end up stabbed or worse, it'll be funny, at least.”

“Is it like a Yakuza meeting?” Shizuo asks, frowning at Izaya. “Turn around. You're gonna fall.”

“Don't worry about me. It's disgusting.” Izaya turns anyway, tiring of looking at Shizuo's stupid face. “You can't just do whatever you want all the time. Maybe you'll be reminded of that today.”

Outside the building, it's a cold, biting day. The cold snap happened all at once, coming after the bout of seemingly endless rain. Izaya puts his hood up, shivering a bit as he makes his way over to the sleek black car parked across the street in its usual spot.

“Good afternoon,” the driver states. He makes a face as Shizuo climbs into the car next to Izaya, who scowls and scoots away from him. “Who is this, Orihara-san?”

“Heiwajima Shizuo,” Shizuo says.

The driver pales, clearly knowing of Shizuo's reputation. “I...see. I was sent to only pick up Orihara-san.”

“Tough shit,” Shizuo says. A moment later, the car is in motion.

“You're so annoying,” Izaya informs him, looking out the window at the people walking around, bundled up and hunched in their posture.

“That's you,” Shizuo says back. Neither of them says another word during the ride, though they do shove each other a bit. Izaya stops shoving when his head slams against the window, courtesy of Shizuo's monster paw.

“Shit. Sorry,” Shizuo says.

“Shut up,” Izaya says.

“Here we are!” The driver says, sounding somewhat relieved. “They're waiting for you inside. I'll escort you, of course.”

They exit the car, and Izaya pulls his hood up, ignoring the bite of the cold. He's always been cold natured, but his back hurts more when he's hunched over for warmth, and to make matters worse, his head hurts both from Shizuo's presence, and because he was just pushed into a window.

“This can't be right,” Shizuo's voice says. Izaya looks over at him as they walk inside.

“Shiki is a man of simple, yet refined tastes,” Izaya says. “This is the right place.”

“You've been here before?” Shizuo asks.

“Often, for meetings. Have you not been here? It's nice.”

They walk past the bouncer, who only nods at them. The club is busy for the daytime, the bass blaring through the speakers, which only makes Izaya's headache worse. He hopes they'll be out of here soon, but Shiki never keeps him long. He looks over again at Shizuo, who looks like he'd rather be anywhere else.

“Why, Shizu-chan. Have you never been to a strip club?” Izaya asks gleefully. Shizuo's red face becomes even redder.

Yes, but not by choice. Tom dragged me a few times, always saying it was for work. It was always easier to endure knowing I could punch someone soon,” Shizuo says, barely audible over the music. Izaya has to strain to hear him.

“You can always go,” Izaya informs him.

“Like hell,” Shizuo retorts.

“I hope you go deaf and then die,” Izaya mutters.

“What?” Shizuo asks loudly, frowning at Izaya like he already knows Izaya said something biting.

“I said—“

“Izaya,” a smooth voice says. Izaya schools his features as he's escorted into the private booth Shiki and his entourage are occupying. There are three women on different stages right now, all slender and beautiful in their own ways. The muscly men on either side of Shiki are busier watching them than Izaya. Killing Shiki would be easy, if that was his intent. He'll have to mention that to Shiki, one day. For now, Izaya likes having the upper hand, in case he's ever double crossed.

“Always a pleasure, Shiki,” Izaya says, holding his hand out. Shiki shakes, but not before he gives Izaya a stern once over.

“It's been a long time. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I didn't consider you'd bring a guest.”

Izaya glances over at Shizuo, who is already pressed close in the booth. Their shoulders are touching, the irony of which isn't lost on Izaya. Their marks are separated only by clothes.

“I have a new shadow. I can't seem to shake him,” Izaya says, grinning at Shiki.

“Shizuo,” Shiki says, looking Shizuo over. “Is there a reason you're here?”

“I'm with him,” Shizuo says, motioning to Izaya.

“Really? Have you two become friends?” Shiki asks. The look Izaya gives him must speak for itself, because Shiki laughs before continuing. “How odd, then. We were prepared for a chair. Not for the cause.”

“A chair?” Shizuo asks.

“A wheelchair. I was told Izaya needed one.”

The room seems smaller, all of a sudden. Izaya can feel Shizuo's eyes on him, but he doesn't meet the monster's gaze. He focuses on the man across from him, who has always been fair, yet a pain in Izaya's ass.

“Your information is wrong, but then again, I haven't been around to give it to you. I'm perfectly unscathed,” Izaya says.

“I see.” Shiki puts his elbows on the table, peering closely at him. “You don't look unscathed.”

“I've looked worse,” Izaya hisses, trying hard not to clench his teeth. He can feel Shizuo still looking at him.

“Right,” Shiki says. “I trust you got my message?”

“The one about not returning? I got it, but I'm afraid I couldn't listen. There's much to do.”

“Indeed there is. Do you have what I asked for?”

“Do I ever have anything less?” Izaya asks, smiling. What Shiki asked for was child's play, after all. “You'll find what you're looking for here.” He passes a small piece of paper across the table. “He'll be there tonight.”

“Good. It's time to put this to rest.” Shiki passes the paper to one of the muscly men, who seems to have finally remembered he's here for a job. “Now then. Why else were you here?”

Izaya pauses, his eyes cutting to Shizuo again. “We can return to that at a later date.”

“I'm a busy man,” Shiki says. “Surely you aren't assuming I'll be waiting for another meeting more convenient for you?”

Izaya bites at his tongue for a moment before laughing lightly.

“Of course not! I understand your schedule, and I sympathize. I only meant to save my own wants for another time and place. I never want to seem ungrateful. But since you insist, I'll get to my point.” He sighs softly, inaudibly, knowing Shizuo is listening to his every word. “Junichi Watanabe. Does the name mean anything to you?”

Shiki visibly stills, his eyes boring into Izaya's.

“Is this why you've returned?” he asks.

“Partly. Please, if you're able, tell me what you know of him.”

“He used to work closely with us,” Shiki says. There's a round of applause as a woman does a complicated maneuver on the pole. “He doesn't anymore.”

“He has...become a person of interest to me,” Izaya says.

“He's dangerous,” Shiki replies, glancing first at Shizuo, then at Izaya.

“I'm aware. One of his men stabbed my friend.”

Shizuo is staring openly at Izaya now, but Izaya doesn't dare look away from Shiki, who can zero in on any moment of weakness like a vulture swooping down for prey.

“I'm sure the goal was to invoke a rise from you,” Shiki says.

“A line was drawn. I'm doing my own research, of course, but you're always on about how you 'owe me one'. I thought maybe you were the man to talk to. You usually are,” Izaya says.

“I knew him. He had...radical ideas. Do you know why he might be targeting you?”

“I gave him the wrong information.”

“Deliberately?”

Izaya's stomach turns. “Yes.”

“I see,” Shiki says, looking over as a beautiful woman with huge breasts passes them. His eyes cut back to Izaya's. “You're valuable to us a source. I can offer protection.”

“And have someone in my space all day, every day? I have enough of that with Shizu-chan. I'd rather do this my way.”

“In that case, I ask you don't get yourself killed. That's all I can do.”

Izaya could say Shiki owes him a lot more than that, and mention He knows Junichi was part of Shiki's little entourage in the past. He could refuse to leave until he knew more. Instead, he offers a smile, and he stands, knowing Shiki's game, and refusing to play along.

“Then I thank you for your time. I'll see you later,” Izaya says.

“I hope so.” Shiki looks between Izaya and Shizuo again, and then he grins. “I told you it wasn't a good idea to return to the city, Izaya. But I think you've grown since then.”

“Have I?” Izaya asks.

“I believe so. I think this is all good for you. You were such a brat before.”

Outside the building, the driver is gone, undoubtedly wanting to get as far away from Izaya and Shizuo as possible. Izaya can't even blame him. He and Shizuo have an outstanding reputation.

Thankfully, Shizuo is silent as they walk. Izaya shivers, walking as fast as he can. His whole body aches, and he's ready to be in the warmth again.

“Izaya,” Shizuo begins.

“Not now,” Izaya says, meaning 'not ever.' He hopes Shizuo gets that, but he doubts it.

By the time they get back, the sun is setting. Izaya hurries inside and soaks in the warmth, and he bustles around the kitchen to make some tea, even going as far as to make Shizuo some. He's feeling rather hospitable, seeing as how whether he knows it or not, Shizuo is acting as a bodyguard. No one would dare jump Izaya with Shizuo looming beside him.

“What he said...” Shizuo murmurs, looking down at his teacup.

“It's not important,” Izaya says. “It's my business.”

“Were you in a wheelchair?”

Izaya flops onto his couch, leveling his gaze at Shizuo. “Does that matter?”

Yes,” Shizuo says. “Did I put you in a wheelchair?”

“Yes,” Izaya replies easily. “You did. I couldn't use my legs for a while. And now I can. End of story.”

Shizuo looks down into his cup, his brows furrowed.

“I had nightmares where I killed you. I lost control. And even if you pushed me, I—“

“Right. I did push you. I pushed you until you broke, Shizu-chan.”

“I'm sorry,” Shizuo says. Izaya ignores him.

“Nothing else matters right now. If I can't get you to leave, you'll at least be quiet while I work. I think that's fair.”

Shizuo is quiet, which is a good sign. Izaya goes to his computer and continues his research. He knows of the man who ordered the stabbing of Shinra. A cocky, vain extremist who used to work with the Yakuza. He had enlisted Izaya's help in planting a bomb in a crowded hotel. Izaya had tipped off the police, not wanting all that carnage.

Junichi must have known Izaya sold him out. But surely he knew better than to think Izaya would go along with such a massive loss of life. Izaya loves humans, even if he doesn't agree with them. He wanted Junichi to fail.

“It's late,” Izaya says after a while. He's been typing away steadily, now on a chatroom for the sake of taking a break. He usually ignores Shizuo, not wanting to give Shizuo the satisfaction of knowing he's even bothered.

“I guess,” Shizuo says. He's watching TV, sneaking glances at Izaya every now and then.

“Are you leaving soon?”Shizuo usually does. He only stayed the night once by accident.

“I wanna finish this episode,” Shizuo says stubbornly. Some cooking show is playing.

Izaya rolls his eyes and puts his head down, reading the responses across his screen. This chatroom is pure recreation, but no less interesting than any other. He replies every now and then, but it's hard to keep up with. His eyelids are heavy, and his head still hurts.

Everything hurts.

He looks up and sees Shizuo above him, eyes cold and hard. Shizuo is reaching for him, for his neck.

“Do it,” Izaya hears himself saying, but it isn't what he wants. He's so afraid, wants to run, but his body won't let him. He's just too proud to say anything different.

Shizuo's hands close around his neck. “I hate you so much,” Shizuo says, eerily calm. “Everything would be so much better without you around.”

Izaya cries, but it doesn't matter. He's dying, and he did this to himself. He knows that. He's always known this is how it would end, and he pushed anyway.

“Izaya!”

He wails, fighting the hands on him, not daring to go out without a fight.

“Wake the fuck up! Izaya—!”

He opens his eyes to find himself at his desk, Shizuo looming over him. Izaya's nails are embedded in Shizuo's arms, blood staining Shizuo's pristine white sleeves.

“What the fuck,” Shizuo breathes, letting go of Izaya when he sees Izaya is awake.

“I...”

“You were crying. And then...”

“It was just a stupid dream,” Izaya says, standing and trying to pass. Shizuo grabs his arm.

“A dream about what?” he asks.

“A monster,” Izaya says, and Shizuo flinches, but doesn't let him go.

“Did... Am I...” Shizuo struggles with words, and then he looks up at Izaya. “Am I the reason you can't sleep?”

“Don't give yourself so much credit,” Izaya says, pulling his arm free. “Go home. I'm going to bed.”

Shizuo looks at him as if he wants to argue, and then his eyes soften. He nods, and then he leaves.

Izaya stares after him. He locks the door behind Shizuo, and then he goes back to work. He won't sleep; he knows that already.

He'd rather stay awake than relive that again.

 

Chapter Text

Izaya is the kind of guy you go to for questions, even if you don't think he'd have the answers for them. It seems like Izaya knows everything, and it's always bugged Shizuo so fucking much, to have those russet eyes settled on him and instantly feel dissected. When he first met Izaya, that was part of the reason he didn't like him. Izaya seemed to know him already, and it left a bad taste in Shizuo's mouth.

Over the years, he learned little things about the flea, usually from other people, even if he was too blinded by rage at the mere mention of Izaya's name to actually soak any of it in. He decided he was vindicated in his immediate hatred of Izaya, because Izaya only ever caused chaos and destruction. Izaya loved to push people and to get them hurt. Shizuo hated everything about him.

When it all came to a head, and they had their final fight, Shizuo regretted everything.

He regretted letting Izaya push him so far, regretted falling victim to Izaya's plan, and most of all, he regretted ever thinking Izaya was the only one he could ever use all his strength on without fear.

Because he did use all his strength, and Izaya's bones snapped like twigs.

And now, fuck, now, he knows Izaya couldn't even walk afterwards, and he knows Izaya is terrified of him, even if the flea would never admit it.

Shizuo did that to his soulmate, even if he didn't know Izaya was his soulmate at the time.

He lived in fear for a long, long time that he'd scared his soulmate away at some point without meaning to, or that his soulmate was injured in the shrapnel of one of his brawls. Shizuo gets in fights all the time, and he's never careful when he snaps.

The only solace he had in learning his soulmate was Izaya was that at least Izaya had never been afraid of him. Izaya had seen him at his worst, and just kept right on coming back.

But now...

He doesn't go back to Izaya's place. He doesn't know what he expected to find there anyway, but in the end he proved to himself that he was too much of a disaster to even be near someone like Izaya, who loves disasters.

Shizuo goes about his daily routine, trying to ignore the fact he feels anything at all. It seems impossible. For years, his default has been to direct his anger at Izaya, and having any kind of outlet was helpful, even soothing. He never realized how obsessively he thought about Izaya until he was forced to acknowledge that maybe Izaya didn't deserve all the hatred Shizuo gave him over the years.

Being quiet isn't too unusual for Shizuo, so it takes a little while for anyone to say anything to him. Vorona thankfully doesn't pry, and her cool gaze seems to stop Tom from asking questions, even if it's obvious that Tom is dying to know details of Shizuo's personal life.

Celty is the first to bring it up.

Shizuo is walking home one chilly evening and finds her waiting outside his building. She jogs over to him.

Hey, stranger! You haven't been answering your messages!” Her PDA reads. He scratches the back of his head.

“Been busy,” he says. She pauses before responding.

Shinra mentioned you and Izaya might have killed each other. I got worried about you.”

“Nah, I haven't even seen the flea in a while. Got better things to do.” He forces himself not to ask about Izaya. He doesn't deserve to know how Izaya is. He shouldn't even care.

Celty, as always, sees through him.

Izaya is acting weirder than usual too. He's usually so hard to deal with but he's been downright civil lately. He looks tired.”

“He stays in trouble. Who even knows what he's up to? You probably see him more than I do.” Shizuo taps a cigarette out of its pack and lights up, eager to use his hands and distract himself with anything he can. He sees Celty shake her helmet at him.

Come with me.”

“Huh? Where?” Shizuo was going to go inside and do exactly what he's done every night for a week, which is lounge on the couch watching trash TV and eating frozen food still cold in the center because his microwave is shitty and he's impatient.

Celty doesn't respond to him, just turns on her heel and starts walking away, and Shizuo huffs before following her. She's his best friend, and if she wants him to go with her, he supposes his TV will still be there when he gets home.

He gets behind her on her Shooter, who whinnies at him softly before they take off at breakneck speed to hers and Shinra's place. The wind is extremely unforgiving at this pace, and even though Shizuo usually runs hot, he finds himself shivering a bit. He wonders what the rush is. Maybe Shinra got himself stabbed again. But if that happened, Celty probably wouldn't be so calm.

“Celty, c'mon, what's going on?” he asks as they go inside. He shakes off the cold and stalks behind her, frowning when she doesn't answer him again. He grumbles and follows, more curious than annoyed.

When they enter the apartment, Shizuo finds a crowd inside, but none of them look concerned or antsy at all. In fact, it looks like a friendly gathering.

“Yo,” Kadota says from the couch. His usual gang is around him, and Erika looks about ready to explode.

“Is this an intervention?” Shizuo asks.

“Ha! Yes, for you to repent from your wicked ways!” Shinra's voice says. Shizuo turns to see Shinra behind him, wearing an apron that makes him look ridiculous. Beside him is Izaya, who is holding a glass of red wine and looking tired, but otherwise fine.

“I got sake too, but I want us all to drink together,” Shinra says to Shizuo. “Izaya is jumping the gun.”

“If I'm to suffer through this, I'm drinking good wine,” Izaya says, sidestepping them and sitting at the table. He rests his chin on his hand and looks up at Shizuo almost playfully. “Well, there's a constant. Shizu-chan looks confused.”

“It's getting ridiculously cold outside. I thought we could get together, have dinner, and relax a bit! I've got to take advantage of the fact you two can finally be in a room together without damaging property,” Shinra says.

“Rest assuredly, Shizu-chan will damage something before he leaves,” Izaya says, and Shizuo glares at him. He pulls out a chair and sits across from Izaya, eyeing him in a silent challenge.

“Why is it so hot in here?” Togusa asks.

Clearly from Shizu-chan's and Izaya's sexual chemistry!” Erika says excitedly. She points between the two of them. “This is a classic trope. Enemies to lovers. It could happen tonight! One glass of wine too many and the clothes will fly off!”

“Please stop talking,” Walker says. “I agree it's a great idea to spark romance, but I'd rather not think of the trope playing out if it involves those two.”

“Why are they here?” Shizuo asks. The headache he gets when Erika and Walker are around is already in full force.

“Come on, the more the merrier,” Kadota says, annoyingly agreeable as always.

Shinra and Celty disappear into the kitchen, where the sounds of Shinra talking and Celty's fist hitting his side are audible. Kadota's little gang talks among themselves in quiet chatter, and Shizuo feels out of place, but also like he can't leave because Izaya is here.

“It is hot,” Izaya says after a few quiet moments. “I don't like the cold much either, but this is downright sweltering.”

“Drinking probably doesn't help,” Shizuo says. “Neither does wearing that damn jacket.”

“It's called fashion, Shizu-chan. Not that I expect a man with one outfit to understand.” Underneath the usual black and tan jacket, Izaya is wearing a navy blue sweater, which also can't be helping the heat situation.

“You've only got one jacket,” Shizuo counters.

“Nope! I have many! This one is just my favorite.” Izaya takes a sip of wine and eyes Shizuo over the rim. “As for drinking, it's a form of letting go. Are you even capable of fun, Shizu-chan?”

“Are you capable of not being a pest?”

“Depends. Who am I pestering? If the answer is you, then no, I'm incapable. Bothering you is just so rewarding! You have this vein—“ Izaya grins widely and points at Shizuo's face. “It's there! You're so angry! I haven't even done anything!” Izaya laughs, and it sounds...loud. It sounds unreserved. Shizuo doesn't think he's seen Izaya so unguarded before, and he looks again at the glass of wine in Izaya's hand.

How many glasses has Izaya had?

“My hope is that one day,” Izaya continues, “I can push you far enough to make the vein explode. Maybe you'll have an aneurysm? What an experience that would be for you.”

“An experience,” Shizuo repeats.

Izaya shrugs. “It isn't as if you can be killed so easily. You'd fight off an aneurysm the same as you would anything else.”

“Did you get kidnapped too?” Shizuo asks, mostly to change the subject, but also out of curiosity. Izaya doesn't seem the “dinner party” type.

“In a sense,” Izaya says. He looks down into his wine glass. Shizuo used to think Izaya's eyes were red, further proving his theory that Izaya was a demon from the pits of Hell. Truthfully, they're more of a rust color, red in some lights, and brown in others. Next to the wine they look red, but Shizuo doesn't think they look bad.

Honestly, he can't remember the last time he thought Izaya looked bad.

“Shinra came to my apartment and...invited himself in. He does that, from time to time. I expected it, truthfully,” Izaya says.

“You did?”

“Well. You've been upset in your hovel. Of course your loyal troops armed themselves and brought me here to make you feel better about yourself. Or whatever it is you need.” Izaya's words aren't pleasant, but his tone is pretty neutral. His eyes are still playful.

“You've never made me feel better,” Shizuo huffs.

“Oh no?” Izaya asks. “And yet, you've sought out my company more often than not. Am I mistaken that you've been in a mood because you learned about my injuries from our fight?”

“How the hell could I not be upset about something like that?” Shizuo asks, gritting his teeth so hard his jaw hurts.

Izaya shrugs. “Because it doesn't matter. It happened. It's over.”

“It's not that simple!”

“We almost killed each other. You were fine knowing that, but not fine knowing I was in a wheelchair?”

“It's not—“ Shizuo growls and snatches Izaya's wine glass away. He downs the rest of the contents in one gulp.

It tastes like garbage.

“Hey,” Izaya says flatly.

“I'm not in a mood. There's just a lot on my mind.” Shizuo sets the glass down on the table.

“I think you should refill my glass,” Izaya says.

“What!”

“You drank all my wine! Go refill it!”

“Haven't you had enough?” Shizuo grumbles.

“I'll stop drinking it when I've had enough, you unrefined beast!”

“You want a refill?! Fine!” Shizuo gets up loudly from the table and stomps into the kitchen, finding the wine bottle and messily filling up the glass to the stupid rim.

“Is everything okay over there?” Shinra asks. He and Celty are looking at Shizuo.

“Yes,” Shizuo says. He goes back to Izaya and puts the glass down. It sloshes a little on the table.

“You aren't supposed to fill it to the top, Shizu-chan.”

“Drink up, you shitty flea, or I'll drown you in it,” Shizuo says warningly. Izaya snorts and takes a small sip.

“Do you want a glass? I suppose sharing fine wine with you might culture you a bit. Consider it my contribution to civilizing you,” Izaya says.

“It tastes like shit,” Shizuo says.

“Of course you'd think so. It's not milk, after all. I always pegged you as a liqueur type. Cordials and the like.”

“I don't drink,” Shizuo says. “It's stupid.”

You're stupid,” Izaya says maturely.

“HAH?!”

“No breaking my table!” Shinra calls from the kitchen. The sound of Erika's frantic whispering to Walker is gaining volume, and Togusa looks like he'd rather be anywhere else.

Mainly for spite, Shizuo takes turns drinking after Izaya does, glaring Izaya down over the table. Izaya just looks indulgent, his grin reminding Shizuo of that cat from Alice in Wonderland.

It does get hotter the more he drinks, but honestly the heat must be on full blast, and the cooking from the kitchen isn't helping matters. Izaya shrugs off his jacket and rolls his sleeves up a little, but not enough to reveal the mark on his arm.

It feels like an out of body experience, sitting across from Izaya and drinking after him. Shizuo has spent a lot of time in Izaya's space lately, but this feels kind of...intimate? They're certainly not being civil with their words, but the apartment is still standing. It's already more progress than Shizuo ever thought possible. He wonders how much the wine has to do with that, or if like him, Izaya was feeling off because they hadn't seen each other in over a week.

Not like Izaya would ever divulge as much, though. It's just left up for speculation.

“You two look cozy,” Kadota says as he takes a seat next to Izaya.

“It's sweltering in here,” Izaya says.

“Feels fine to me,” Kadota answers. “You should slow down. Isn't that your third glass?”

“I'm drinking until you're all attractive,” Izaya says. Kadota laughs and shakes his head.

They all crowd around the small table as Shinra announces dinner is ready. Erika sits on Izaya's other side, closely, but Izaya doesn't even glance at her.

“Celty went all out this time!” Shinra says, clearly mooning. “She's really a great cook! This whole thing was her idea, you know, because she's so thoughtful.”

“It was your idea because you're a meddler. And a terrible liar,” Izaya says.

“What! What a horrible insinuation! I don't meddle,” Shinra huffs.

“Shizu-chan, does Shinra meddle?”

“I mean, yeah. Badly,” Shizuo says.

“I rest my case. Also, an important question, how does Celty cook without a head? Taste is usually a factor.” Izaya takes another sip of wine and then actually passes the glass to Shizuo, who feels a weird sense of accomplishment from the simple gesture.

Shinra only smiles pleasantly as he looks between Shizuo and Izaya, and he puts a hand on Celty's shoulder. Celty clenches her fist and shoves her PDA in Izaya's face, who reads it and winks at her.

“Don't be a brat,” Kadota says, shoving Izaya a little. Shizuo sets the wine glass down forcefully, getting Izaya's and...everyone's attention. Izaya grins at him and takes the glass back.

“Regardless of who does and doesn't meddle, we don't want anything to get cold!” Celty's shadows reach into the kitchen and sounds of cupboards being raided can be heard. When the shadows reenter the room, they're holding a stack of plates.

“How cool!” Erika squeals. “This is like the single best night of my life.”

“Because of shadow cooking?” Togusa asks, helping himself to the stew Celty and Shinra made.

“That and this! Look at them! Shizu-chan and Izaya in the same room! It's like a dinner date!” Erica doesn't bother serving herself, and Walker sighs quietly before doing it for her. Shizuo frowns before putting the glass back in front of Izaya.

“Yes, with six other people. Romance is in the air,” Izaya says, observing the bowl Shinra put in front of him. “Isn't this hotpot weather?”

“Yeah, but Celty found this recipe. We can do hotpot another time!” Shinra says. He points his spoon at Izaya almost threateningly. “Try it!”

“Maybe in a moment.” Izaya leans back, holding his wine and smiling at Shinra over the rim. “It's too hot to eat.”

“You know what else is hot?” Erika asks, and Shizuo steels himself to flip the table over if she says something else about him and Izaya. Fortunately, she goes off in a tangent about some manga she and Walker are reading, and an apparent sex scene with fantastic artwork, but a lacking plot. Togusa and Kadota seem very used to this, and don't even bother trying to shut them up.

Dinner is as routine as it can be considering the crowd. Erika and Walker monopolize all conversation, and Shinra interrupts sporadically with gushing nonsense about Celty. Shizuo shovels food in his mouth and pretends he's a normal, calm person that doesn't want to break something every time he hears the name “Kurosawa”, who is apparently the protagonist of a risque manga with a shitty storyline.

“My sisters read that one,” Izaya says, suddenly entering the nonsensical conversation. “I realize why now, those precocious brats. Then again, they have to learn about sex sometime, don't they? Parents rely on media more to raise their children than they rely on each other. And it isn't as though our parents are around much to put anything into context.” Izaya shrugs a bit, and only then does Shizuo notice it.

The mark. Izaya rolled his sleeves up to reveal the mark. No one says anything about it, but they've all noticed. Shizuo can't look anywhere else but directly at it.

“Oh, yeah. You raised them, didn't you?” Erika asks Izaya, clearly over the moon to be talking with him.

“We all raised each other,” Izaya says before standing from the table. “I was just the oldest.” He walks towards the kitchen.

“Eat something before you get more wine!” Shinra calls after him. Izaya waves him off. “He's drunk!” Shinra huffs when Izaya is out of eyesight. “Honestly, of all the nights.”

“How can you tell? He isn't slurring or stumbling at all!” Walker says. “I thought he just had a really high tolerance.”

“I've seen Izaya drunk before. Not since high school, but I recognize it. He just—he gets careless. He'll regret it tomorrow.”

Shizuo is staring after where Izaya disappeared to. He blinks when he feels a gentle nudge.

Are you okay?” Celty's PDA reads. Shizuo nods shortly.

“I'm fine. Not even buzzed,” he says.

Not what I meant!”

“I know what you meant,” Shizuo says as Izaya reenters the room. “I don't know the answer to that, though.”

“Hey,” Kadota says. Izaya tilts his head. “Eat.”

“Yes, yes. Dota-chin the mom friend,” Izaya lilts, taking a small bite of stew. “Not bad for a headless chef.”

“I told you! Celty is an excellent cook!” Shinra says happily.

At some point, Shinra must've gotten the sake, because Shizuo finds a hot cup in front of him, but he barely knows how it got there. His eyes are fixed on Izaya and his mark, and Izaya has clearly noticed by now, but has done nothing to hide it. If anything, he's rolled his baggy sweater sleeves up further.

“To new beginnings!” Shinra says in a toast, and they all raise their cups before swallowing. Shizuo enjoys the burn. He doesn't like drinking, but he thinks this is why people do, because of the warmth he feels, and the desire to keep this extremely strange night going.

“Alright,” Izaya says suddenly, standing and shrugging on his jacket. “I stayed. I'm going home now.” He wobbles just a little, and Shizuo wouldn't have noticed if he wasn't looking so closely.

“Izaya—“ Shinra starts, but Izaya is already going through the doorway. Shizuo looks down at the food Izaya didn't eat before he stands and goes after him, ignoring Erika's chatter behind him.

Izaya is as quick as ever, and it takes a few moments for Shizuo to catch up with him. He's already outside in the freezing night before he even sees the black and tan jacket. Shizuo has always been good at spotting Izaya in a crowd, and it's funny to him that even a glance of that damned jacket before would've sent him into a rage, but now he's trying to make sure Izaya makes it home.

“Izaya!” Shizuo calls, hurrying after him. Izaya tenses before turning around, his hands in his pockets.

“If you want to chase me, at least give me a longer head start,” Izaya says smoothly. “It's the least you could do. I'm very tipsy, you see.”

“Fuck that, you're drunk.”

Izaya snorts. “Drunk is a strong word.”

“Is it the right word?” Shizuo asks.

“It's a word. Its accuracy depends on the context, I'd say.” Izaya smirks up at him, and Shizuo grumbles before starting to walk ahead of him, purposely nudging Izaya's shoulder with his own.

“C'mon.”

“Are you walking me home? Goodness, Shizu-chan, you're insistent. Look, you're even walking briskly!”

Shizuo turns to scowl at him and finds Izaya hasn't moved from where he was.

“Want me to pick up a mailbox or something for old time's sake?” Shizuo asks. If anything, it'd improve his mood to destroy something.

“I'm not in the mood for nostalgia,” Izaya says, finally starting to walk forward. “Also, I think we've suffered each other enough for one evening, don't you?”

“You're so—ugh. What's the word?”

“Charming?” Izaya side-eyes him.

“Transparent. I think that one's good.”

“Transparent! How so?” Izaya inquires, his voice bright. He seems entertained.

“Cause you spent all night sitting quietly with your fuckin' wine and now you're drunk. I don't think I ever noticed how you kind of...talk at people, not to them. So when they talk to you, you don't know what to do. You just drank instead of being there.” Shizuo shrugs, finding these words to be true, even if he didn't plan to say them.

Izaya isn't eyeing him anymore. He's looking straight ahead, his jaw set.

“It's always so interesting, you pretending you know a thing about me,” Izaya says at last.

“I know enough.”

“You don't know a thing!

Izaya has stopped again, glaring up at Shizuo as if he'd like nothing more than to deck Shizuo in the face.

“You never bothered to know! You and your stupid monster brain and your even dumber instincts!” Izaya stomps a little, and then he sways on his feet. People are staring at them, which...is nothing new.

“You're making a scene,” Shizuo says.

“You're making me make a scene!”

“Ugh, come on,” Shizuo growls, pushing Izaya a little. “Walk. Get home, sleep, and get sober.”

“I don't want to! I don't want to go anywhere with you.

Shizuo never thought he'd see the day where Izaya was even more annoying than usual, but somehow a drunk flea is even harder to deal with than a sober one.

“Fine. Then I'm carrying you.”

“You will not!” Izaya all but screeches. He pulls out a knife and points it at Shizuo. “Don't you dare touch me!”

“I'm not going home until you go home,” Shizuo says. “So the sooner you get there, the sooner we can split up. Just let me carry you before you fall on your face.”

Izaya's eyes narrow, then soften, and then he just looks sad and too small. Shizuo feels his heart clench but can't explain why.

Izaya is even lighter than Shizuo imagined. It feels a little like Shizuo isn't carrying anything at all, and he keeps glancing back to make sure Izaya is actually there. Izaya is quiet, draped across Shizuo's back. He's so docile it's almost impossible to compare him to the crazed man with the knives Shizuo used to chase and repeatedly try to kill.

“Look,” Shizuo says after a while when the silence gets overwhelming. “I know I was—to blame too. Before. We both fucked up a lot, okay, but I don't hate you. You could've talked to me more instead of drinking so much tonight. I don't get everything you say, but—“

“It doesn't matter,” Izaya says. “Anything you ever say now doesn't matter, not that it ever did before anyway. Your feelings are compromised.”

“What the hell does that even mean?”

“You can convince yourself of anything now that you know about the mark.”

“Fuck. Is that what you're so hung up on? I mean, of course the mark changed things. But it doesn't, like, change my entire perspective of you. You're still a shitty asshole, but you're not the worst like I thought you were before.” Shizuo used to think of Izaya as a mastermind who pulled all the strings and caused every problem he ever had, even the irrational ones. He still thinks Izaya gets into shit and causes chaos for fun, and probably won't ever stop, but at the same time Izaya just seems so...lonely.

Does Izaya even know he's lonely?

“I'm going to be sick,” Izaya says, and Shizuo huffs.

“Don't be so dramatic, I'm not trying to be heartfelt here, I'm just—“

“No,” Izaya says, and he pushes himself off Shizuo's back and scrambles to a garbage bin where he vomits into it profusely. Shizuo grimaces and wonders what the hell to do in this situation.

“Flea?”

Izaya coughs a bit and rubs his mouth with the back of his hand. His eyes are watering when he looks up at Shizuo again.

“I might have...overdone it.”

“Wow.”

“You're smiling. How awful. You're the worst, Shizu-chan. I wouldn't even wish this on you, and you're laughing at me.”

“C'mere. You're a goddamn mess.”

Izaya's place is warm inside. Shizuo carries him to his bed and deposits him on it, shaking his head as Izaya immediately burrows into the blankets and groans loudly. He says something, his voice muffled.

“Huh?” Shizuo asks.

“I said you didn't talk either. At dinner.”

“Oh, yeah. I don't always...fit in? What the hell was I gonna say to any of that conversation?”

Izaya snorts. “Anything. They all love you anyway.”

“Oh, please. They all know I could snap and break every bone in their bodies. How could anyone love someone like that?” Shizuo asks. It's a little endearing, Izaya glaring at him from under the blankets. Only his eyes are even visible.

“You make yourself alone. And they still go to you and you push them and push them but they stay. You have everything and you're too stupid to see it.” Izaya pulls the covers higher and Shizuo can only see his eyebrows. “Whatever. Die alone. What do I care? You're stupid anyway.”

“Jesus. How drunk are you?”

Izaya doesn't answer. Shizuo sighs and goes into the kitchen, getting Izaya a glass of water and carrying it to the bedroom. He sets the glass on the nightstand.

“I'm crashing here,” he says. Izaya waves him away and rolls over.

Izaya's couch is extremely comfortable and by far the best part of invading Izaya's space, second only to the TV. Shizuo turns it on and settles on a program before he feels his phone vibrating in his pocket.

Is Izaya okay?

It's from Celty.

As okay as he ever is. Shizuo replies.

They exchange a few messages about the dinner and how good the food was and other mundane things when Shizuo feels his eyelids start to get heavy. He wishes Celty a goodnight and lays down on the couch, settling in to sleep.

But then Izaya starts yelling.

Shizuo curses and rolls off the couch, hurrying to the bedroom, where Izaya is thrashing violently in the blankets, shouting between panicked breaths and sobs.

“Izaya! Fuck, wake up!”

“No, no, no, don't—!”

Shizuo barely dodges a balled up fist and he curses, flattening Izaya's wrists to the bed.

“Izaya! IZAYA!”

Izaya's eyes open widely, and he looks up at Shizuo as he pants for breath, his wrists jerking in Shizuo's grip as he tries undoubtedly to find a knife.

“Shizu-chan? Are you molesting me?!”

“You were having a fucking nightmare!”

“The nightmare was real because you're molesting me!”

Shizuo scowls and releases him, and he feels his anger melting away because Izaya is clearly shaking, and the dark circles under his eyes seem worse in the low light. How long has it been since Izaya has slept through the night?

“I thought maybe the wine would help,” Izaya says, flopping back down into the pillows. He groans. “Instead my head hurts and I'm awake anyway.”

“Wait until tomorrow. You're gonna be hungover as hell.”

“Probably. I suppose I deserve it.”

Shizuo wants to say Izaya has probably paid enough and doesn't deserve all of this, but he doesn't. Izaya wouldn't believe him anyway.

“Okay. Go to sleep. I'll be here making sure you're okay,” Shizuo says instead. Izaya snorts, and Shizuo has to admit he likes the sound of that stupid snort. It's something Izaya can't seem to hold in.

“You're going to fight my dreams? We've already established I'm dreaming about you killing me.”

“I can kick my own ass,” Shizuo says easily. Izaya laughs and the sound is bright in the dark room.

“You're going to stay here?” Izaya asks.

“Right here.”

“Okay,” Izaya says, and Shizuo nods, glad there's no room for argument.

“I'll just go get a chair.”

“Pull the couch in here. It isn't like you can't.”

“It's a sectional. It won't fit through your door!”

Izaya sighs and sits up, pulling his blanket and pillow off the bed.

“It is a sectional. Room for us both.”

They end up on Izaya's couch together, nowhere near touching, as Izaya is curled on the smaller end. Shizuo keeps the TV on, volume low.

“This show is so stupid,” Izaya says.

“Go the fuck to sleep before I knock you out,” Shizuo growls.

Izaya's breathing eventually evens out again, and Shizuo relaxes, falling asleep to the soft sounds.

They both sleep through the night.

 

Chapter Text

The dreams are there, as they always are, constant and looming, but Izaya manages to sleep through them. Shizuo would probably say something cheesy and unintelligent about it being because they slept near each other, but Izaya maintains it's most likely due to the wine and because he hadn't slept in days.

When he does open his eyes, he wishes immediately he hadn't. His head is throbbing, and how has he never noticed how bright this apartment is? He groans and drags a pillow over his face, and even that little movement has him feeling nauseous.

“Ugh,” he says. He needs to get up and get some ibuprofen. But that would require moving.

“Here,” Shizuo's voice says.

Izaya pulls the pillow away and squints up at Shizuo, who is holding a glass of water and a pill bottle.

“You look like shit,” Shizuo says, very unnecessarily.

“I'm hungover. Why'd you let me drink so much, Shizu-chan?” Izaya asks as he takes the items from Shizuo's offered hands.

“Like I let you do anything. You did it to yourself,” Shizuo says, putting his hands in his pockets and watching Izaya take the pills.

“Ah. Well, then at least the cycle perpetuates.”

“The fuck does that mean?”

“Google it,” Izaya says, flopping back down. “I'm not dumbing anything down for you today.”

Shizuo growls and pries the pillow away from Izaya's hands, glaring down at him.

“How the hell are you trying to be high and mighty when you can't even sit up?!”

Ow, Shizu-chan, no yelling. Your monster roars aren't helping matters.”

“Oh, yeah?” Shizuo asks, even louder.

Izaya glowers weakly up at him. He makes a swipe for the pillow and then curls back into himself as the room spins.

“Jesus,” Shizuo says, much softer this time. “That bad, huh?”

“Have you never been hungover?” Izaya asks. He wonders what a monster's liver is capable of. Shizuo could probably consume every liquor known to man and barely be buzzed at all.

“Nope. I've been around when Tom was, though. I've never seen him look this bad. How much wine did you drink, anyway?”

“Clearly enough,” Izaya mutters. He took two bottles to Shinra's and left with none.

“And then sake on top of it.” Shizuo whistles. “Man, are you a stubborn bloodsucker.”

“Don't you have anywhere else to be?” Izaya asks. Shizuo shifts on his feet.

“You're sick,” he says.”What'll you even do by yourself?”

“Sleep? Suffer? At least it'll be quiet.”

“Tch.” Shizuo stands for another moment before he flops on the opposite end of the couch. “Fuck you and fuck your self pity bullshit.”

Izaya considers all the things he could say to that, but decides against it all. He rolls over and closes his eyes, trying to go back to sleep. He doesn't manage, but lying still helps, and eventually he's watching the TV with Shizuo, who has settled on a soap opera.

“What an idiot,” Izaya says when a woman kisses a man who isn't her husband. “That man has nothing to offer.”

“She is an idiot,” Shizuo says. “Shouldn't have married the other guy in the first place.”

“He's rich,” Izaya counters.

“So? She doesn't love him.”

“You're so droll.”

“There doesn't have to be a reason to love someone! Sometimes you just do!” Shizuo meets his eye, the vein in his temple showing. Izaya grins at him.

“Have you ever loved anyone before, Shizu-chan?”

“Shut up,” Shizuo says, looking back to the TV.

“Well, since you're an expert, I'm asking you to explain it to me,” Izaya says.

“No, you're trying to piss me off. Like you always do.”

“I'm asking honestly! What is there to attaching your life to someone else who has absolutely nothing to offer you? Is it truly love, or is it a desire to not be alone?”

“What the fuck...”

“If you look at it from a societal perspective, we put so much stock in the one and one is two philosophy that most people don't even realize how brainwashed they are! You meet someone, you get married, you pop out a kid, and the cycle repeats! We're fed this from such a young age, we never question it! Truthfully, society was built on the idea of populating the species, you know? So we romanticize the idea of procreation and make it more than it actually is. And from a human perspective, it's nothing more than loneliness. More than half of all marriages end in divorce. The idea is truly archaic.”

“Do you have a point? Or are you just babbling for the sake of it?” Shizuo asks. Izaya looks at him. Shizuo's feet are propped on the coffee table, and he looks very calm. The vein is gone.

“The point is—“ Izaya scowls. “Never mind! Logic is wasted on you.”

“It's not logic. It's sad.”

“Get your feet off my table,” Izaya says petulantly.

“Man, you really hate not being listened to, huh?” Shizuo puts his feet back on the floor, but he looks far too pleased with himself. Izaya kicks him for good measure, but Shizuo doesn't even bat an eye.

After a while, Shizuo's breathing evens out, and his head tips back on the couch. With his long limbs stretched out, he closely resembles a praying mantis, and Izaya is sorely tempted to hack him to pieces while his guard is down, but Izaya can barely sit up without wanting to vomit. He settles for scowling at the slumbering beast, and then he's forced to think about the fact that the two of them are getting far too chummy for his liking.

“Wow,” Namie's voice says from behind the couch, and Izaya doesn't even grace her with acknowledging her presence. She continues anyway, the merciless wretch. “Rough night?”

“I sent you a message not to come in,” he says. She snickers.

“You mean your drunken text from two this morning? It just said 'no'.”

“And yet you never asked for an elaboration. This is your fault alone.”

She stands over Shizuo's sleeping form with an eyebrow raised. She motions to him, and Izaya shrugs.

“Perfect chance to kill him, right?” she asks.

“How do you know he isn't poisoned now?” Izaya nudges him with his big toe.

“If anything you chloroformed him and had your way with him,” Namie says.

“Classic spider style. Love them and then kill them, that's my motto.”

“As if anyone would sleep with you.”

“Someone is projecting more than usual. You can go. I don't trust you around when I'm incapacitated.” Izaya squirms and fluffs his pillow up. He thought he was feeling better, but just that little motion has acid climbing in his throat.

“Have a nice day with your bosom buddy,” Namie says, a vicious grin on her face, and she's gone as soon as she entered. Izaya lays still and wills the nausea to pass, but it doesn't work this time. He rolls off the couch and pads to the bathroom, where the dizziness and nausea hits him full force, and he's left cursing himself as he curls onto the bathroom floor.

Those first few months after Izaya's final showdown with Shizuo, he was left in this position a lot, just in various places. He hated the chair, but he was chained to it, and sometimes it would be too much, and he would rather crawl than use it any longer. He convinced himself he deserved it for being so wrong about the things he used to believe with full conviction.

He deserves this too, truly. The drinking was a crutch, the chair was a crutch, the crutches were literal crutches. It all was just a monument to his shortcomings.

“Hey,” Shizuo says from the doorway. Izaya glances up at him. “Why're you on the floor?”

“It's heated,” Izaya says, which is true. Shizuo frowns.

“Were you sick again?”

“Again?”

“You threw up last night,” Shizuo says.

“Ah. On you?”

“No. In a trashcan.”

“What a shame. You're a much better target.”

“Don't be an ass. You're on the floor.” Shizuo steps closer and leans down, hoisting Izaya up with one arm. “C'mere, you shitty louse.”

Izaya groans at all the motion, but he's luckily out of stomach acid to expel for the time being. He's placed back on the couch, where he settles among the pillows.

“Will you bring me my laptop?” he asks. Shizuo, who was just settling on the couch, gives him a look. Izaya rolls his eyes. “Please. I can't watch this show any longer. You aren't doing anything anyway.”

Shizuo gets the laptop and hands it to Izaya with more force than necessary. Izaya opens it and gets to work, feeling gross, but a little less so.

“So what are you doing anyway?” Shizuo asks after a bit.

“Working,” Izaya says.

“Yeah, but on what? That Shiki guy said you were getting into trouble.”

“Why, Shizu-chan,” Izaya says, batting his eyes at Shizuo and pursing his lips. Shizuo makes a face. “When have I ever gotten into trouble?”

“Constantly. Every day of your damn life.”

“Not today, clearly.” Izaya starts typing again. “It doesn't concern you. What I'm doing.”

“Fuck that. I'm concerned.” Shizuo reaches over and takes hold of Izaya's knee, shaking it. “Don't cause trouble.”

“But don't you miss my particular brand of trouble? It's been so long. We never have fun anymore, Shizu-chan.”

“Trying to kill each other wasn't fun.”

“Wasn't it? You miss it. You missed me, admit it. Who else can keep up with you when I'm not around?” Izaya pauses. “Well, Celty can, but she's always with Shinra. No one else ever kept you company like I did.”

Shizuo is looking at him with an odd mixture of hatred and...something else in his eyes. He huffs and looks back at the TV. Izaya resumes working, and then...

“Okay, whatever. I always thought you caused everything wrong. I used to think without you around, everything would be so peaceful. But you left and things were still shitty.”

Izaya blinks at him, surprised.

“Maybe it's just the constant state of things. Maybe there will always be shitty gangs and people will always fight. It's fucking stupid even without you making things worse. You're—fucked up, clearly. But you aren't as bad as I thought.” Shizuo's eyes possess so much humanity. Izaya hates it.

“Stop. This is—not what I was saying. Monsters shouldn't be so quick to pretend they have feelings and cognizant thought processes.”

“Izaya,” Shizuo says, and Izaya forces his features into a mask of indifference before he looks back at him. “What are you planning? You're getting revenge for Shinra getting stabbed?”

“Do you remember that boy that got killed a few months ago?” Izaya asks. Based on Shizuo's expression, he does. “I gave someone some...bad information. I didn't mean for anyone to get killed. Regardless of what it is you think my job is, I'm merely an informant. I knew about Junichi from his time with the Awakusu-Kai. He was an extremist, to say the least. He came to me wanting to get a lot of people killed. I set him up, and he got arrested.”

Izaya sighs. “That kid was Junichi's nephew. He wanted to prove himself and get involved with the Blue Squares. Nothing new around here, of course. The gangs are always gaining members, and young people are their favorite because they're so eager to make a name for themselves. They can be convinced to do almost anything. Junichi's nephew was originally in on the plan to plant a bomb—“

“A bomb?!” Shizuo asks, appalled. “Who the fuck are you doing business with?”

“The very same people as Shinra, Shizu-chan. Don't interrupt me! Now I forgot what I was saying. I suppose we'll both never know.”

“I-za-yaaaa...”

“There was a poorly executed plan to plant a bomb in a hotel. 'All for show', or so Junichi said. Extremists like him often have a message to deliver, but I hardly trusted him to keep his word about not detonating it. I gave him the wrong blueprints to the hotel to stall him, and I tipped off the police.” Izaya picks at his nails. He needs to file them.

“So why the fuck isn't he in prison?” Shizuo asks. Izaya snorts.

“He's filthy rich. Didn't you know punishment is for the poor? With enough money and power you can buy your way out of anything.”

Shizuo makes a face, clearly not liking that answer.

“Wait, what about the kid? You were saying something about him.”

Before you interrupted me, you mean. After the plan for the bombing fell through, he was left to his own devices. There was a spat between him and a few members of various gangs. Things escalated, and he was shot and killed. Junichi seems to have blamed me for that, as well as his brief incarceration.”

“Well, that's stupid. I hate people who blame everyone else for their problems. With a dumbass idea like blowing up a building, how can you blame someone for you getting caught? And you weren't even here when that kid got shot.” Shizuo is looking at him so intensely. Izaya is a little captivated.

“People blame me for a lot of things I'm barely involved in. Of course, I am involved in an equal amount of things I'm never blamed for. Tit for tat, as they say. If you're going to hold grudges against everyone who wants me dead, I'm afraid the list is endless. Your name is on it, as well.”

“I don't want you dead.” Shizuo says it so simply. It's as if he's forgotten everything Izaya put him through. Izaya grits his teeth a bit.

“Don't you?”

“No.”

“You've done a complete one-eighty, then. It can be you versus the world.”

“Not just me. Us, right?” Shizuo looks at him closely. “Are you even on your own side?”

Before Izaya can respond to the ridiculous question, he hears a horrible sound. He groans and puts the blanket over his head.

“Not today. Please, not today.”

“IZA-NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!”

The door to the apartment is kicked open. Two teenage girls stand on the other side of it before one runs inside and pounces on Izaya, who is still covered up and hiding from her.

“Hey! You big asshole, you never even said you were home! I had to hear it from some jerk at school! It's like you don't even care about us!” Mairu hisses, tugging at the cover until she sees her brother's disgruntled face. “What's up with you? You look sick.”

“I am sick. Get off me!” Izaya shoves her, not that it does any good.

“He's hungover,” Shizuo says helpfully.

“Whaaaaat? Since when do you even drink? Did you just get a whole new life while you were gone?”

“Get off me!” Izaya pushes and successfully makes her topple onto the couch. He stands and rubs at his temples. “I swear, I'll throw up on you both.”

“You've been gone,” Kururi's much smaller voice says from behind Izaya. He turns to her with a frown.

“Yes, well. I had a lot of things to do.”

She doesn't respond, just moves forward and throws her arms around him. It knocks the air out of him, but he doesn't push her off. Less than a second later, Mairu's arms are around him as well.

“It's almost like you missed me,” he says teasingly.

“Shut up,” Mairu says. “Where are our presents?”

The good thing about the twins is they're very good at occupying themselves. They set up camp beside Izaya on the couch, taking control of the TV. Mairu puts it on some ridiculous reality show and keeps arguing with Shizuo about random things, and Kururi leans on Izaya as he steadily taps away at his laptop. After some time, Izaya closes it and looks at them.

“Is anyone else dying of hunger?” he asks.

“Are you done being hungover?” Mairu asks scathingly. “You're such a great role model for us.”

“I've done much worse things. Give me some credit.”

“I could eat,” Shizuo says.

“Shocking. The monster wants to feast.”

“I want pizza!” Mairu says.

“You always want pizza,” Izaya says.

“Pizza sounds good,” Shizuo adds.

“Oh, my god.” Izaya pinches the bridge of his nose. “I'm surrounded by idiots.”

In the end, they order pizza, despite Izaya's arguments. Their company is annoying, but Izaya doesn't mind it so much once he's full. His headache goes away slowly, and he finds himself participating in their conversations, but mostly he sits back and observes them, watching as the twins curl up together and fall asleep. He looks to Shizuo.

“It's late. Are you going home soon?”

“I guess. I gotta work tomorrow.” Shizuo hums softly “You gonna be okay here with them?”

“Mm. You'll find I handle myself well in all situations.”

“Unless you're drunk. Then you just throw up and cry.”

Izaya bristles. “I did not cry.”

“You didn't,” Shizuo agrees. He stands and looks down at Izaya. “See you later, flea. Don't get killed between now and then.”

Izaya waves him off. When the door closes behind Shizuo, Izaya untangles himself from the twins and goes to shower, washing away the remnants of his hangover. He looks warily at his bed, thinking of the nightmares that are sure to come. He fetches his laptop and logs into a chatroom, deciding he'll sleep later. The conversations are arbitrary as they always are, but Izaya likes learning what each person has been up to.

A private message appears on his screen from an outside site.

You're getting into trouble.”

He grins. “Am I?”

You don't know who you're up against.”

If there's anything I know, it's that when someone tells me to stop, it's best to keep going.”

Izaya considers the possibility he's chatting with Junichi himself. It wouldn't be the first time someone threatened him to stop his prying, and surely it won't be the last.

You shouldn't have come back into the city.” It takes a few moments for each reply to come. Evidently, Junichi doesn't spend much time typing.

You shouldn't have attacked someone I know.” Izaya waits as patiently as he can for the slow reply.

It's easy to be a smartass from behind your bodyguard, isn't it?”

Izaya laughs softly. Shizuo would balk at the suggestion he was Izaya's bodyguard. Luckily, Junichi is unaware of the fact Shizuo isn't currently with Izaya.

It's strikingly easy to be a smartass at any point in my life. Shizu-chan hardly cares what happens to me.”

Is he trying to protect Shizuo? He doesn't want Shizuo to be a target. If anything, it would be a waste of time for whoever targeted him. Izaya spent years trying to kill him. It never ended well.

If anyone is going to kill Shizuo, it's going to be Izaya.

Unfortunately, a reply doesn't come, and soon enough Izaya goes back to his chatroom. He tries to research the handle that messaged him, but the contact has already been deleted. Izaya already knows who it was, anyway. And he is anything but afraid.

“Hey,” Mairu says from his doorway at some point. He looks up to see her and Kururi dressed in their uniforms. They must've packed them in their backpacks. “Have you been up all night?”

“Is that new?” Izaya asks, barely pausing before he resumes typing. “I couldn't sleep.”

“Not sleeping ages you faster. You're vain enough to care about that.” Mairu smiles and throws an arm around Kururi. “We're leaving now! But we'll see you later.”

“That sounds like a threat,” he says.

“It's not. It's an imminent promise.”

“Oh, good. I'd hate to be left in suspense of your return.”

“Iza-nii,” Kururi murmurs. “Be careful.”

“Don't worry about him!” Mairu says happily. “He's got Shizu-chan looking after him now!”

“Get out,” Izaya says. “I regret ever raising you.”

They leave, but not before giving him matching wicked grins. Izaya huffs and sends a message to Namie, giving her specific instructions for the day, and then he moves to his couch, curling up and turning it to the trash soap opera from the day before. He covers his head with his blanket to block out the sunlight, and he falls asleep.

His pillow smells like Shizuo.

 

Chapter Text

Shizuo always thought if his life reached a routine in which there wasn't constant conflict, he'd be ecstatic. In the past, Izaya was often the cause of his turmoil, and funnily enough, Izaya still is, but Shizuo feels better with him than apart. He tells himself if Izaya is bothering him, at least Izaya isn't out causing more trouble.

Shizuo is good at seeing through bullshit, even when it's his own.

His daily work life hasn't changed much at all. Sometimes he leaves from his own place, sometimes Izaya's. No one ever asks him where he stayed the night before, and if they did it wouldn't be any of their business. Even Tom has stopped asking about his “mystery girlfriend”, though it's obvious he's dying to know. Vorona doesn't ask, and Shizuo hopes she doesn't think he doesn't trust her as a friend. He just still doesn't know what the hell he's doing.

The last week or so, he's been in a shitty mood, and like always, he doesn't exactly know why. He usually figures it out after the fact, his emotions immediately going to full out anger as a default. He's pissed when he sees Izaya, even more pissed when he doesn't see Izaya. It's hard to figure out.

He's hard to figure out. It's nothing new.

He's following after Tom, annoyed already by the cold weather because he forgot a jacket. He left from his place, and he didn't sleep well. He spent half the night wondering if Izaya was sleeping, and if he was having nightmares. Shizuo's seen plenty of the flea's night terrors in action, and he often wonders what Izaya does when he has them and no one is around to wake him up. Does Izaya scream himself awake? Does he sleep until his dream changes?

Does he wake up crying?

He's not even listening to Tom's conversation with the foreign guy in front of them. It's a younger man, probably some small-fry wannabe gangster. He owes Tom a lot of money. Shizuo was listening for that part. For now, he's letting Vorona handle it. Shizuo is too tired and annoyed already. He might accidentally kill the guy.

“Well now,” a familiar voice says playfully. Shizuo swirls on his heel and looks down to see Izaya smirking up at him. “Fancy seeing you here, Shizu-chan.”

“Uh-oh,” Tom says, and it takes Shizuo a moment to figure out why. He and Izaya are supposed to still be trying to kill each other, as far as his coworkers know.

“What are you doing here?” Shizuo asks. He doesn't care who knows. He doesn't have anything to hide. Izaya might, but frankly, Shizuo doesn't give a fuck about that.

“Working,” Izaya says. His eyes settle on the young guy. “I'll wait for you to be done. You got here first.”

“I'll handle him, senpai,” Vorona's cold voice says from behind Shizuo. “You handle the job, I'll handle this flea.”

“Scary!” Izaya says, clearly not scared at all. “You really are testing my policy about not hitting women!”

Stop,” Shizuo says to them both, taking Tom and Vorona by surprise. “Izaya is just—he's an asshole. Ignore him.”

“We both know it's impossible for you to ignore me,” Izaya says.

“Shut up,” Shizuo says.

You shut up,” Izaya says. Shizuo's teeth grind together. He can practically smell the glee coming off Izaya, as well as Izaya's usual scent. Izaya smells like black coffee, fresh laundry, and his fancy posh-as-shit cologne. Shizuo turns away from him, hyper-aware of Izaya standing directly behind him, like static and pinpricks.

“Oh, my god,” the young guy says, his wide eyes settled on Izaya. “You're that dude. That informant.” His Japanese is horrible, but it's decipherable. Shizuo has definitely heard worse.

Izaya smiles widely, his eyes narrowing.

“You know me? Then you should know why I'm here. That makes this easy.”

“Whoa, hey! He owes me money!” Tom says. He holds a hand up in front of Izaya, who looks at it with a frown. “I really think you should leave before things get worse for you. We all remember what happened last time you were around Shizuo and Vorona.”

Shizuo doesn't like thinking about the last time, and he knows Izaya doesn't either. Izaya is still traumatized by it, not that he's supposed to care, but he does. He does care. He doesn't want Izaya remembering.

“It's nice to know I'm still the talk of your inner circle, Shizu-chan,” Izaya says sweetly.

“You're not,” Shizuo says.

“I don't have any money!” Young guy wails, reminding them all of his presence. “I didn't get that callback for that job! I was trying to make fast money to pay off my dad's debt! Please, give me more time! I'll have it in a week, I swear!”

Tom groans. He hates sob stories.

“Your dad has been dead since you were a toddler, Joshua,” Izaya says. “If you're going to lie, at least make it believable.”

“Man, my issue with them has nothing to do with you! I'll go see my uncle when I'm ready!” Joshua snaps. His words are even harder to make out now that's he's emotional.

“Honestly, I don't care what you do,” Izaya says. He puts his hands in his pockets and shrugs before switching to English. “I was just going to talk some sense into you, per your uncle's request. The men you stole from are already on their way here.” Izaya pulls his phone out of his jacket pocket, holding it up for Joshua to see. “I had to confirm you were still in the city. You really are an idiot.” Shizuo can't understand all the words, but they seem to really rile up the guy, who turns on his heel and runs for it. Vorona immediately starts to go after him.

“I wouldn't if I were you,” Izaya says, and she freezes before turning to face him coldly. “You probably don't want to see what might happen to him.”

“Fuck,” Tom says, clearly taken aback and probably pissed that their target almost definitely isn't paying up any time soon.

“I hoped you were dead,” Vorona says to Izaya, who only grins at her.

“Yeah, well.” He turns as commotion breaks out across the crowd of people in the street. “I'm not.”

“Sounds like he was caught,” Tom says. He sighs. “Guess we can move on to the next target then.”

“Right.” Vorona nods and looks away from Izaya. She turns to Shizuo, along with Tom. Shizuo is staring openly at Izaya.

“What are you doing now?” he asks, not liking the idea of Izaya being around while people are doing...whatever horrible things will probably be done to the dumbass guy.

“Now, Shizu-chan,” Izaya lilts. “I don't ask what you do at work.”

“Like you don't already know.”

“True enough. Would you believe me if I said I was going home to be an innocent member of society?”

Shizuo snorts. “You and innocent don't belong in the same damn sentence.”

Izaya winks at him and turns before disappearing into the crowd. Shizuo is tempted to follow after him, like always. He's got a bad feeling, but he can't just run off all the time and expect to keep his job.

“Oh, my god,” Tom says. “Izaya is the mystery woman.”

“For what it's worth, you could do a lot better, senpai,” Vorona says.

Shizuo doesn't say anything, because what can he say to that? Tom exclaims something about “knowing all along this would happen” and Shizuo glares at him until he shuts the hell up.

***

The rest of the day is pretty routine, and by the time he's at Izaya's place, he's dragging his feet. Izaya is on his couch with his laptop. He looks over at Shizuo.

“Long time, no see,” he says. Shizuo huffs at him. He goes to the couch and flops directly beside Izaya, well aware of the fact the sectional is large enough for them both to have their own space.

“You look annoyed. Well, more than usual.” Izaya hums and gives him a sidelong glance. “Are you going through monster puberty?”

“You're an asshole,” Shizuo informs him with no real bite to his voice. “What are you even watching?”

“A documentary on the colossal squid.”

Shizuo makes a face. “Why?”

“Look at it,” Izaya says, motioning to the TV. “It's hideous.”

“You aren't even watching it. You're on the computer.” Shizuo makes a swipe for the remote, but Izaya is faster.

“Come on, Shizu-chan, if anyone needs some informative television, it's you. Don't you want to know about your monster brethren?” Izaya wiggles the remote in his hand and levels his catlike gaze on Shizuo.

It riles Shizuo up in ways he can't quite understand. He wants to be closer to Izaya, and he also wants to throw Izaya as far away as he can, just once.

“No,” he grumbles. Izaya smiles wider.

“Well then, isn't it unfortunate to be you?”

Shizuo remembers in high school, Izaya was rarely there. He was probably out causing trouble, making himself infamous. Back then, Izaya had a cult following of girls who thought he was some sort of god. It made Shizuo mad as hell, because back then he wondered a lot about having a girlfriend at some point, if it would even possible for him, and there was Izaya, who had all these admirers. Shizuo always knew Izaya was smart, but those girls, and even other people, even after high school, they always called Izaya beautiful.

Sometimes it was meant as an insult. Shizuo would hear people say Izaya was pretty like it was a synonym for delicate. Shizuo never really looked at Izaya much for his features. Usually he'd see those gleaming eyes and go directly into a frenzy. Honestly, he wouldn't have been able to tell much about Izaya's appearance before if he was asked. He knew Izaya was thin and frail and...annoying. And that was about it.

Now he's in Izaya's space more often than not, and usually in close quarters. Izaya, with his strange playful gaze, and his thin, graceful body, and his jacket he hides inside, and his wit he wields like a sword to defend himself with. Izaya, who he once beat within an inch of his life and hated. Izaya, who is simultaneously the most frustrating and captivating person he's ever known.

Izaya is beautiful, alright. He's also a conniving shithead, and far too smart for his own good.

Shizuo doesn't really understand how he feels about all these things. He's realized for a while now that he doesn't hate Izaya anymore. Far from it, actually. But when did acknowledging that become so much more...twisted? Somehow it's strayed even further from hatred and become something else entirely.

It's a feeling Shizuo has never known before.

He thinks in great detail about his side pressed close to Izaya's on the couch. Not quite touching, but close. It would be easy to move closer. He glances at Izaya, who is tapping away at his computer. Izaya's eyelashes are long. In this light, his eyes are more brown than red. His skin looks soft.

Shit. That's a weird thing to think, especially about Izaya.

Shit, shit, shit, now he wants to touch Izaya and see if he's soft. Not touch touch, but just casually touch his cheek and—

“What's wrong with you?” Izaya asks at last, breaking Shizuo from his reverie. “Are you having some sort of fit?” Izaya looks to the TV, then back at Shizuo. “Is the program too informative? You're short-circuiting, aren't you?” He hands the remote to Shizuo, a false apologetic expression on his face. “Here, watch your trash TV. Maybe it's not too late to repair you.”

Shizuo should feel angry, but he just feels confused and warm. Far too warm. His mind frantically searches for something, anything to say.

“I'm hungry.”

Izaya blinks at him.

“I'm going to get food.”

Izaya's head cocks to the side. “O...kay.”

“I'll get us some sushi,” Shizuo says, already standing. Izaya's eyes light up.

“Finally, you said something useful!” Izaya says. He reaches into his pocket and hands Shizuo some bills. “My treat, since you're getting it. Tell Simon it's for me. He knows exactly what I like.”

The air outside is cold and it helps calm Shizuo down. His thoughts are a jumbled mess, all centered around Izaya which is...not that unusual. Before, he was focused on beating the fuck out of Izaya, then killing him. Now it's more like he might...actually...

He grumbles and covers his face. Why is Izaya so fucking confusing? Why is he so confusing?

He scowls the whole time he's walking to Russia Sushi. He doesn't want to be stopped or else he might end up sending someone flying through the air or worse. His bad mood is finally starting to make sense to him, which only makes his mood worse. He hates this, these feelings.

Your feelings are compromised,” Izaya had said. Yeah, well. How convenient, hiding behind so many excuses and lies. Shizuo wonders if Izaya even believes himself half the time.

He walks into Russia Sushi and makes a face because it's packed and it's also too hot inside. Shizuo hates drastic changes in temperature. It's not even that cold outside, but then Shizuo is pretty warm-natured, so he guesses he isn't a good judge.

“Shizuo!” Simon calls. Shizuo lifts a hand in greeting and makes his way over. “How are you? Here for specials?”

“No.” The specials are always fucking weird. He's never tried one he liked. “Uh, actually I— I'm here for Izaya.” He says that last part in a very low voice.

Simon doesn't seem to get why.

“Izaya!” he practically shouts. Shizuo glares at him. “Izaya-special! I haven't seen him in a long time! Are you friends now?”

“Something like that,” Shizuo says.

“He gets ootoro! You want that too?”

Anything to get out of here faster, really. Shizuo nods just so Simon will leave and stop shouting.

Is he friends with Izaya? It seems like he is. They're amicable to each other, if nothing else. Izaya isn't actively throwing knives at him anymore, so that's a start.

“Shizu-chaaaaaan!”

He turns to see Erika waving at him. She's sitting with the usual gang. Shizuo huffs before he heads towards her.

“Don't call me that,” he says. She pouts at him.

“You let Iza-Iza call you that.”

“I don't let him do shit.”

“Izaya is very good at nicknames,” Walker says. Erika nods in agreement.

“Izaya is a damn brat,” Kadota says. He looks up at Shizuo. “How are you, man?”

“Fine.”

“Don't insult Shizu-chan's soulmate!” Erika squeals, pointing her chopsticks threateningly at Kadota.

“It's cool. He is a brat,” Shizuo says with a shrug.

“Ugh.” Togusa cringes. “The thought of you guys together is...” He makes a sour face. “It's enough to make me not hungry.”

“What a horrible thing to say!” Erika throws a wad of paper at him. It was probably a napkin at some point. “They're both beautiful men and they can do what they want!”

“I didn't mean it that way!” Togusa says hurriedly, looking worriedly at Shizuo, who is grinding his teeth together. “It's just that you guys are the most dangerous dudes I know! You teaming up with him is...well. You could conquer the city.”

“First things first,” Erika says, “you gotta conquer Iza-Iza if you get my drift.”

Togusa pushes his plate away.

“Shizuo!” Simon yells, and Shizuo all but flees from the table. Simon holds up the to-go order and smiles at him. “For you and Izaya! Eat together! Sushi brings people together.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Shizuo says, handing Simon the bills Izaya gave him. They got crumpled in his pocket.

He walks back to Izaya's slowly. He tries not to think about what Erika was implying. Before, when he learned Izaya was his soulmate, the thought of even kissing Izaya was insane and out of the question. Somehow, it's become less so. But more than that? Shizuo could kill him. He's never been intimate with anyone before in his life.

Shit. Is he thinking about...that with Izaya?

He covers his face and roars in rage, sending people hurrying away from him. He went on a walk to stop these thoughts, and now he's going back even more twisted up than before.

He's just going to have to push all this stuff down. Izaya clearly ignores the soulmate thing more often than not. Shizuo wonders if Izaya thinks about their new tentative civility like Togusa does, if Izaya thinks Shizuo can help him conquer the city.

Izaya's never asked anything of him except to leave, thus far. Izaya never even wanted Shizuo to know about their matching marks. It seems unlikely that Izaya had a plan for this, but Izaya is a flea, and fleas are always plotting and scheming and being general menaces to society.

Shizuo looks down at the bag he got, and he hums lowly. Izaya likes fatty tuna. It's such a stupid thing to take pride in, but it's something else Shizuo learned about Izaya, who is surprisingly private despite being so eccentric. He learns new little things all the time, despite Izaya's best attempts at keeping him away.

He turns the corner and freezes in his tracks, his eyes widening.

The building. The apartment building. It's surrounded by firetrucks.

Izaya's building.

Shizuo sprints towards it, smelling smoke, and the closer he gets, the more he can see the orange glow coming from the building. From Izaya's floor. He left Izaya alone inside. He left Izaya, knowing Izaya was being targeted by some crazy extremist.

All those years hating Izaya and wanting him dead, and now he's thinking of how it would feel to lose Izaya.

His soulmate.

“Hey! You can't go in there!” A fireman reaches out and grabs Shizuo.

“The fuck I can't!” Shizuo growls, tugging free. He makes a beeline for the entrance, fearing the worst. He'll fight the fire back with his bare hands if he has to.

“Shizu-chan, why are you going inside a burning building?”

Shizuo whirls around to see Izaya, who is standing by the guardrail. He's frowning, but he looks fine.

He looks better than fine.

“Izaya!” Shizuo drops the bag of sushi. Izaya makes an indignant noise, and then Shizuo is throwing his arms around Izaya with abandon, lifting him and squeezing him, careful not to squeeze too hard.

“What are you doing?” Izaya asks, kicking his feet out. He kicks Shizuo's legs, but that doesn't matter.

“I thought... Fuck. I thought you were inside.”

“I know how to exit a building,” Izaya says. His hands settle on Shizuo's shoulders. It's amazing how little he weighs. It's really like holding nothing.

“Izaya,” Shizuo says again. His face is pressed into the fuzzy part of Izaya's hood. The scent he used to hate floods his nose, and he just greedily inhales more of it.

“I dozed off when you left. The next thing I knew, there was a fire. Luckily, I'm a fairly light sleeper. I thought at first you were back, but then I heard running and smelled smoke.” Izaya sighs directly into Shizuo's ear. “This was clearly some idiotic warning. Good thing I already directed Namie to back up all the files from my computer to hers. I anticipated something like this. Too many clients know where I live.” Izaya pats Shizuo's shoulders. “Are you even listening to me?”

“These guys lit your place on fire,” Shizuo says. He pulls back to look into Izaya's eyes. “You could've died.”

“Obviously not. If they wanted to kill me, they could've lit me on fire directly.”

Shizuo growls and narrows his eyes at Izaya, who just smirks at him playfully.

“Really, Shizu-chan, you're holding me so tightly. It's almost like you were worried.”

“I was fucking terrified,” Shizuo says truthfully. He doesn't miss the way Izaya's eyes widen.

“Fear is a natural response to chaos like this,” Izaya muses. “It can't be helped. This isn't the first time someone's attempted to silence me, and it won't be the last.”

Shizuo always knew there were more people in the city who wanted Izaya dead aside from himself, but it never struck him just how many of them were actually dangerous, and how much of a target Izaya made himself out to be. The past Izaya in his mind is sharp like a knife and has a wicked grin and seems almost indestructible. It was like nothing he ever threw at Izaya was enough to actually kill him.

The Izaya in his arms is frail and so human. He could break Izaya in half just by tightening his grip. It's almost cruel to realize Izaya is so mortal right at the time he's realized he doesn't ever want to lose him.

Izaya hums. “You're being tragic right now, Shizu-chan.”

“Shut up.”

“You even dropped my tuna!”

“Fuck the tuna.”

Izaya's hands tighten on Shizuo's shoulders. He laughs, loud and bright, and Shizuo decides he's figured out his feelings enough to know he never wants to let Izaya go again.

And he'll kill whoever tries to take him away.

 

Chapter Text

Shizuo ends up not letting go of Izaya for a long time. The beast puts him down to let him talk to the firefighters and his neighbors, but Shizuo's hand will be in Izaya's hood, his sleeve, keeping hold of him like he's worried about Izaya and his safety. Shizuo looks at everyone like they're interrupting, his eyes narrowing distrustfully. It should be annoying, but it's not. Izaya has always marveled at Shizuo's ability to surprise him.

According to the firefighters, the damage to his apartment isn't extensive. The fire started around Izaya's computer, like he figured. His computer and his paper files are ruined, as well as his desk. There's some pretty bad smoke damage, and they tell him it'll be a few days before he can return home. He's permitted to go inside and gather a few clothes, which he scrunches his face up at. They smell like a fireplace.

“Smells like Shizu-chan's cigarettes,” he mutters as he gathers his things. Shizuo is behind him, of course. The monster is looking at the charred remains with a scowl on his face.

“What'd you say?” Shizuo asks.

“I'm talking to myself. Don't intrude.”

“Then don't talk out loud!”

He pulls out his phone on his way back to the lobby.

Yes?” Namie's bored voice answers on the second ring. She sounds breathless.

“Am I interrupting...something?” Izaya asks with a grin. He hears her scoff.

I'm working out! Did you need anything, or are you just being your usual self?”

“Just making sure you aren't having...family time. I never know with you, Namie-chan.” He smiles as she threatens to hang up on him. “I wanted to inform you my apartment caught on fire. I'll text you my hotel address.”

Caught fire, huh?” She asks. The sound of fists hitting something is audible. “You anticipated this, though.”

“Yes. I'd rather my things be attacked than stabbed again. That was only a little fun. I'd hate to do it a second time.” He starts walking towards the edge of the sidewalk to hail a taxi. Shizuo lifts him with one arm and starts walking in another direction. “What are you doing?! Put me down!” Izaya kicks Shizuo again, but it doesn't even seem to bother him.

“We're going to my place. At least for the night. No one would be dumb enough to attack you there,” Shizuo says like it's common sense.

“I am not sleeping in your hovel!”

Lover's spat?” Namie asks, a spark of joy in her voice.

Please,” Izaya huffs. He gives up attacking Shizuo, who is ignoring him anyway. “What is that noise?” he asks Namie instead, hearing rhythmic pounding on her end of the conversation.

Punching bag,” she says.

“Ah. I do suppose you have a lot of pent up anger.”

There's a picture of your face taped to it. Really helps.”

“Glad to be of service,” Izaya says.

Have fun with your boyfriend. Text me later. I have to keep my heart rate elevated.” With that she hangs up on him.

“Wretch,” Izaya says. He tugs on Shizuo's hair. “Are you going to let me down?”

“No.”

“Why don't we just get a ride to your place? Why are we walking?”

“I don't trust anyone right now. Besides, it's not like it's too far. I walk to your place all the time from mine.”

Izaya sighs and flops a bit against Shizuo. He puts his elbow on Shizuo's shoulder and rests his chin in his hand, observing his surrounding from Shizuo's height. It really is interesting, being taller. Izaya envies Shizuo a little, but of course Shizuo most likely takes it for granted, like he does most things.

“It really was cruel of you to drop my tuna,” Izaya laments.

“It's fine. It's in a bag and a plastic thing. It didn't touch the ground.”

“Plastic things aside, why drop precious cargo you yourself went to retrieve? Here I thought you were finally becoming useful.”

“How about I drop you?” Shizuo threatens, letting Izaya slip a little.

“Be my guest.”

“Nah. You'll just bitch about that, too.”

Izaya hums and glances at Shizuo's head. “You need to get your hair done. Your roots are atrocious.”

“Been busy,” Shizuo says.

“Doing what?”

“Flea-sitting. It's a full time job in itself.”

“Don't blame your shitty hair on me. That's hardly fair.” Izaya touches Shizuo's hair again. It's surprisingly soft. Surely Shizuo doesn't actually comb it? That sounds too boring and normal for someone so beyond comprehension. Maybe Shizuo's hair is just like the rest of him, too stubborn in itself to become tangled. Maybe it fights the bleach out of itself? Maybe bleaching Shizuo's hair is an endeavor, a feat.

They finally reach Shizuo's building, and for a second, Izaya thinks he's going to be set down, but of course Shizuo just adjusts him again and carries him right inside.

“You're a ridiculous man. I've admitted your undeniable humanity to myself, but I refuse to think of you as a person. You're parts of a human, wrapped around a beast,” Izaya says.

“Aren't you curious about the inside of my place? You're curious about everything else,” Shizuo says, unfazed by Izaya's remarks.

“I've been inside before.”

Shizuo stops walking. “What? When?”

“Loads of times. I even watched you sleep. Don't you remember all those times we had sex?”

“What!”

Izaya snorts. “The last part didn't happen, but I didn't lie about anything else.”

“So you did watch me sleep? Why?”

“Your sleeping face is the only one I ever almost liked.” Izaya shrugs and finally finds himself deposited on the floor of Shizuo's tiny apartment. It looks like it always has, thrown together, cheap, and undeniably homey. It's definitely lived in. There are, surprisingly, books on a table.

“Are these mine?” Izaya asks, fingering one.

“They looked cool,” Shizuo says. He reaches into the bag before handing Izaya his precious tuna. It looks like Shizuo ordered himself the exact same thing, and Izaya wonders if Shizuo likes fatty tuna, or if he was just trying to get away from Simon, who has a tendency to pry and to shout.

“Sometimes I don't know what you'll do or say, but then other times you're like a script,” Izaya says. Shizuo blinks confusedly at him. “I'm saying sometimes you're boring,” Izaya elaborates.

“Honestly, I'd like to be more boring,” Shizuo says. He eats some sushi and makes a face at it, but otherwise he just keeps eating.

“No, you wouldn't. You had a taste of boring and you weren't happy.”

“Well. Maybe not all boring.” Shizuo narrows his eyes at Izaya. “But you should aim to be a little less exciting.”

“It's useless to hope for change like that.” Izaya pops a piece of tuna in his mouth and makes a happy noise. He hasn't had Russia Sushi since he's been back, and he immediately makes a resolution to go there more often, even if Simon will probably interrogate him in Russian about what he's been up to. And then there will probably be questions and even threats about Shizuo. A lot of people seem to care about Shizuo and his happiness.

It's annoying.

Izaya carries his little container with him and goes through Shizuo's things, who keeps a wary eye on him. Shizuo's apartment is remarkably still in one piece even with a beast as its sole inhabitant. Shizuo seems to take care of his own things, at least, though some things are bent out of place here and there, such as a spatula that looks like it was bent back the other way too in a hasty attempt to fix it. He snorts when he comes across a pile of bartender uniforms in a mesh hamper.

“It's been over a year since I was here, and yet everything looks the same.”

Shizuo is drinking milk by the fridge with a frown on his face. “I'm not home enough to care how it looks here.”

“More like you don't know how to decorate. I'm not home often, and my apartment is tasteful.”

“I bet you paid someone to decorate it for you. You care too much about what other people think.”

“What!” Izaya can't make it into a question. It comes out as an incredulous bark, followed by a laugh. The idea of him caring what anyone thinks is hilarious, especially coming from Shizuo.

“Your sisters told me they don't hear from you or see you unless you feel perfect. I'm guessing that's true for everyone else, too.”

“You've certainly seen me at less than perfect. I don't think perfection exists, in the true meaning of the word. I think perfection is different for everyone.” Izaya eats another piece of tuna, lamenting a bit that it's almost gone. He considers taking some of Shizuo's.

“You do dumb shit and then try to rationalize it. Just say you do dumb shit, and let that be all. There doesn't have to be meaning in it.” Shizuo shrugs and sets the sushi container on his counter.

“Meaning can be found in everything.” Izaya snatches the plastic tray and holds it away from Shizuo, who doesn't reach for it.

“Not always. I tried to throw a fridge at Kasuka, once. There was no real reason other than me being pissed.”

“Anger is a reason in itself! For you, at least.”

“You don't have to guard the sushi. I'm letting you have it.”

Izaya glares at him and holds the container closer to his chest anyway, as if in defiance. He hates how Shizuo gets this way now. In the past, he could rile Shizuo up and they wouldn't have to talk, because they'd be too busy trying to kill each other. Here, in this tiny apartment, there's no real fight to be had. At least, there's no fight Shizuo will have with Izaya. The beast regards him with nothing but practiced patience, and it irks Izaya to his very core, to think he's something tolerated.

Shizuo takes his bottle of milk and sits on the couch in front of the small TV, keeping his back to Izaya as if he doesn't fear what Izaya might do. Izaya seethes and tries to glare a hole in the back of Shizuo's head, but it's pointless, like all attempts to injure him.

Izaya finishes both of their sushi and then goes to Shizuo's cabinets, snooping through instant ramen cups and extremely sugary boxes of cereal. There's no coffee, no spices, not even bread unless the sweet roll package on the counter can be counted.

Of course, there are dozens of bottles of milk in the fridge. All in date, too.

“Why am I here?” Izaya asks, grimacing.

“Because I said so,” Shizuo says. “Get away from my shit. You might poison it.”

So Shizuo isn't at ease, having Izaya here. Good.

Izaya smiles at him sweetly, making Shizuo scowl at him suspiciously.

“What a simple philosophy you have, Shizu-chan. You want things a certain way and you make them so just by growling and throwing things. I envy you, in that.” Izaya moves to the couch beside Shizuo, flopping down and sitting very closely in Shizuo's space.

“Not everyone has to bullshit their way through life.” Shizuo doesn't move away from him, just sits there and lets his side touch Izaya's. Interesting. “You're being weird,” Shizuo adds after a moment.

“Weird?”

“Creepy.”

Izaya hums and falls backwards onto the couch cushions, letting his legs settle in Shizuo's lap. “I'm making myself at home. Isn't that what you want?”

“Don't ask me what I want. I don't really ever know.” Shizuo is looking anywhere but at Izaya.

“Yes, I already knew you were an idiot.”

Shizuo's eyes finally snap to Izaya's, rage filling them. Izaya's heart beats faster in anticipation as one of Shizuo's hands clenches in the fabric of his pants. Even after all that's happened between them, Izaya can't help wondering how far he can push Shizuo towards the edge.

“Shut up,” Shizuo says instead of doing anything else. “Can't you behave normally for at least one damn night?”

“Of course I can. You really were so worried about me earlier. The least I can do is behave for you, Shizu-chan.” He gives Shizuo his best innocent look. “What do you want me to do?”

“I don't know! Just— Can't we have a conversation or whatever without you being an asshole?!”

“Now there's a thought. But you told me to shut up. Did you want a one-sided conversation?”

“I-za-ya...” Shizuo growls warningly.

“What do you want to talk about, anyway? Haven't you spent enough time in my presence to know what I'm up to without me having to say anything?” Izaya folds his hands together and then notices the beginnings of a chipped nail. He makes a mental note to file them later. He highly doubts Shizuo even has grooming products.

“Someone just set your shit on fire, Izaya. I have a lot of questions about that.”

“Oh, boo. I'm not talking about that anymore tonight.”

“Why the fuck not?! Aren't you the least bit concerned for yourself?” Shizuo just looks so mad.

“I'm bored by it. Isn't there anything better to do around here than talk about boring things?” Izaya looks around the small apartment. “What do you do here when you're alone? You don't even have a computer.”

“I already said I was hardly ever home! I do the same things here I do at your place!”

Izaya hums, actually beginning to enjoy this. Shizuo is such an enigma in himself, it's interesting just to observe him doing normal things. The beast can go from whirling a guardrail around in the air like it weighs less than a feather, to vegging out in front of some ridiculous home cooking show. Even while being mundane, Shizuo never ceases to provide entertainment to Izaya.

“It's pretty late,” Shizuo mumbles after glowering for a few moments. “You can have my bed for the night. I'll sleep here.”

“I'm not tired. Also, I don't want to roll over a bunch of crusty socks.” Izaya lifts his legs to allow Shizuo to get up. He's looking forward to all the snooping he can do as soon as Shizuo goes to bed.

“You're fucking exhausted.”

“My job requires odd hours from me, Shizu-chan. I rarely get exhausted.”

Shizuo stares at him for a second more before he stands, but instead of turning to his bedroom, he hoists Izaya up again.

“What are you doing! Stop—put me down, you beast!” Izaya pounds at Shizuo with his fists as hard as he can, but he only ends up hurting his own fingers.

“You can lie to yourself and me all you want, but I don't believe you. You're sleeping, and I'm gonna make sure you do.” Shizuo drops Izaya onto his bed, which is surprisingly soft and smells just like Shizuo's skin.

“How exactly do you plan to do that?” Izaya asks viciously, cradling his bruised hand. Shizuo's eyes soften when they settle on Izaya's self-inflicted injury, and then Shizuo is turning off the light, leaving them in total darkness. There's the sound of rustling and shuffling, and then—

Izaya squawks loudly when he feels Shizuo sliding into the bed behind him, arms wrapping around his middle in a death grip.

“You're going to hold me prisoner?” Izaya laughs in exasperated disbelief.

“Yep. You aren't getting away, so you might as well sleep.” Shizuo's voice rumbles from behind Izaya.

Of course there was no plan. It's just so overly simplistic, but Izaya can't say it's ineffective. He knows he won't escape Shizuo's death grip. It would be pointless to try, though the challenge is a little exciting in itself.

They lay together in quiet darkness for a long time. Izaya waits patiently for Shizuo to fall asleep, so he can test how strong the hold is when Shizuo's unconscious. Unfortunately, when Shizuo's breathing evens out, his grip doesn't slacken. It tightens. Shizuo's face presses into the back of Izaya's neck, his warm breaths giving Izaya goosebumps.

“You stupid monster,” Izaya hisses as he squirms futilely. “I hate you.”

He glares into the darkness for a while after that. Shizuo's body is like a furnace behind him. The covers aren't over them, and it's a cold night, but Izaya is actually pretty warm. He's never been held like this before, but it's not unpleasant. He's scared to get used to it.

No, correction: He doesn't want to get used to it. Being afraid is irrelevant.

Still, his body relaxes into the hold without his permission. He rationalizes it as just being tired and not wanting to be cold, but it gets easier to not make up any excuses at all when he feels himself starting to drift to sleep. He's just too tired to make up reasons why he shouldn't feel so comfortable in Shizuo's arms.

He dreams he's watching Shinra prance around a store in search of a wedding veil for Celty. Izaya tries repeatedly to tell Shinra it's a waste of time since Celty doesn't even have a head, but it falls on deaf ears like it always does.

“This one!” Shinra says, holding some laced monstrosity. “It'll match her dress perfectly!”

Then Celty appears and he places the veil above where her head would be. It floats there, suspended by nothing. She holds her PDA out for Izaya to read.

Shizuo is my maid of honor.

Then the dream shifts, and Izaya finds himself looking up at an enraged Shizuo in a fancy ballgown. Izaya realizes too late that he's in the wheelchair, but he knows somehow he couldn't outrun Shizuo anyway. The beast's eyes are black, and he hardly even looks like Shizuo at all.

“I don't want to kill you,” Shizuo says, but his hands are already crushing Izaya's bones anyway.

“Hey!”

Izaya gasps loudly and wakes on his back with Shizuo hovering above him. It takes longer for him to remember where he is than he would like, and it takes even longer to realize he's crying. He curses softly and tries to lift his hands to wipe the tears away, but it's useless. Shizuo is holding his arms down, and he's definitely already noticed.

“Let go of me,” Izaya hisses, hating how his voice sounds.

“Okay. Okay, yeah, just calm down.” There's a pause as Shizuo lets him go, then a breath of laughter. At first, Izaya thinks he's being laughed at, and he immediately bristles, but then Shizuo says, “Listen to me telling someone to calm down. I fucking hate being told to calm down. Forget I said that, it never helps. Just stop trying to punch me, how's that?”

Izaya lays on his back and put an arm over his face, scrubbing the tears away angrily. He hates everything about this weakness, but he hates the fact that Shizuo saw it more than anything. Surprisingly, Shizuo is quiet. If the situation were reversed, Izaya knows he would be anything but quiet.

“Sorry,” Izaya says, absurdly. He's tired. He's so very tired.

“Was it me again? In the dream?” Shizuo asks.

“Not entirely,” Izaya says. If Shizuo needs an elaboration, he doesn't ask for one.

“Well, that's an improvement.”

“You were going to be Celty's maid of honor,” Izaya continues, because he can't think of anything else to say that doesn't sound pathetic. Shizuo hums and scoots closer to him, tossing his arm back around him. Izaya settles into it, uncaring that he's pressing against Shizuo. It helps to know he isn't alone, and he's tired enough to allow himself this comfort.

“Guess that means you were Shinra's best man,” Shizuo says. His hand wraps around Izaya's, the hand Izaya injured when he punched at Shizuo's chest. Shizuo's fingers are soothing as they rub against Izaya's knuckles. “You're his only other friend.”

“Really? How sad.”

“At least he never tried to dissect you.”

“Well, I'm not a superhuman, now am I?”

“You're a goddamn pain in the ass.”

“I do live to please you, Shizu-chan.”

Shizuo laughs again. “Shut up.”

Izaya sighs softly and takes in the feeling of Shizuo's body pressed to his on the small bed. He certainly never thought they'd reach this point. Shizuo is nothing if not determined, and like hell Izaya can push a brute like him away. It really is hard to reason with someone like Shizuo. Izaya is fairly certain he could stab Shizuo here and now, and Shizuo would merely grunt and bleed all over him.

“You aren't too bad at this, Shizu-chan,” Izaya says.

“At what?”

“Comforting. Is this your first time?”

There's a pause. “Why do you have to word it like that?”

“It's the only way to be worded. It's okay. It's my first time, too.” Izaya's tone is flirtatious. He can sense the scowl on Shizuo's face.

“I-za-ya.”

“Isn't it so nice our first time is with each other?”

“Izaya!”

Izaya snorts. “You're too easy to get a rise out of. If you know what I mean.”

Shizuo shoves him and then proceeds to grab hold of him before he can fall completely off the bed. Izaya just lets himself dangle, confident Shizuo won't actually let him hit the floor. He hums when Shizuo drags him back up and across the mattress, back into his arms.

“Go back to sleep, you shitty flea. You can start working on revenge in the morning, or whatever it is you're planning.”

“Mm. It sounds like you're the one with all the plans tonight. And here I thought you never knew what you were doing or what you wanted.” Izaya's eyes close on their own as Shizuo tugs him closer. Shizuo's breaths puff out into Izaya's hair, rustling it a bit.

“I'm starting to figure it out,” Shizuo says.

 

Chapter Text

Izaya has a list of odd habits Shizuo is starting to notice. It's impossible not to, since Shizuo insists on being in Izaya's space more often than not, but Izaya seems to take people knowing him so personally, like it's something foul and rude. Shizuo wonders a lot why Izaya is the way he is. That, at least, is something from high school that hasn't changed between them.

Izaya cares a lot about his appearance. It's funny, actually, that someone who belittles others for such flippant things probably cares more than anyone else. Izaya has a skincare routine that has at least ten steps. Shizuo never remembers to count them all, but Izaya's skin always smells like different things. Izaya also seems to have an obsession with his nails. He always mentions getting a manicure, but Shizuo doesn't really notice a difference in Izaya's nails. He just notices Izaya picking at them a lot.

“Don't you have a scale?” Izaya asks the day after Shizuo forcefully held him all night to make him sleep.

“No,” Shizuo says.

Izaya gives him an incredulous look, and then disappears into Shizuo's bathroom for a long time. He comes out looking perfect as always, but he looks unhappy about something. Shizuo knows better than to ask, since Izaya seems to just like to blurt out things on his own terms. Shizuo is in the middle of brushing his teeth when Izaya finally voices his thoughts.

“Your place is so basic. You don't have anything to groom yourself! Not even tweezers. How does someone like you even keep up with bleaching his hair?”

“It's easy. Roots show, go to the salon. It's not hard,” Shizuo says after he spits into the sink.

“But what salon do you go to? How do you afford it? It's not cheap. And you don't make jack shit, I already know how much you make,” Izaya says flippantly.

“Wha— Shitty flea! Don't snoop into my stuff!” Shizuo growls in vain. He knows Izaya already knows most of what there is to know about him.

Izaya hums and crosses his arms while he looks up at Shizuo inquisitively. Always thinking, that's two words Shizuo would use to best describe Izaya.

“Why don't I take you to my salon?” Izaya finally asks. There's a gleam in his eye Shizuo doesn't trust. Old habits die hard.

“No.”

Izaya pouts. “Oh come on. You aren't doing anything better, and you're going to follow me even if I go, right? So you might as well agree with me now.”

“Why do you care how I look?” Shizuo asks. Izaya rolls his eyes.

“I don't. It'll be fun just to watch you try to fit in with the other patrons. Also, it might be good for you to learn some proper grooming habits, lest your beastly facial hair consume your entire body.”

Shizuo rubs a quick inconspicuous hand over his chin to make sure he doesn't have stubble growing in. He doesn't. Izaya is grinning at him smugly when Shizuo returns to glaring at him.

“Don't you have something better to do today than to give me a makeover?” Shizuo huffs.

“Nope! I'm all yours for the day, Shizu-chan, isn't that exciting?”

“It's annoying. You're annoying.”

“And yet, you insist on being around me anyway. Perhaps you're a masochist. It would explain a few things.” Izaya turns on his heel and goes to grab his coat.

“Maybe I'll just stay here,” Shizuo says, but Izaya is already going out the door.

“That's fine. I've got no problems going alone. See ya!”

Shizuo waits a full ten seconds before following after him.

“Goddammit,” he mutters as he locks the door behind him.

***

The place Izaya drags him to is swanky and reminds Shizuo of the embodiment of a higher tax bracket. It's filled with women, some in chairs getting their hair done, others on the opposite side, getting their nails or toes done. The smell of acetone, bleach, and shellac burns at Shizuo's nostrils, but he has to admit, this is definitely nicer than the little hole in the wall he usually frequents every few months for touch-ups.

“Izaya-san!” A woman with wild red hair motions them over. Shizuo follows behind Izaya, who greets the woman like an old friend.

“Jeni, how are you?” Izaya asks, taking her hands in his and smiling in a way that makes Shizuo want to walk quickly in the opposite direction. He rarely sees Izaya being genuinely nice to people. It's weird.

“I've been great! Business is booming, as you can see.” Her curious eyes land on Shizuo. “You brought a friend?”

“More like a rescue,” Izaya says. “He doesn't even have tweezers, Jen.” Izaya takes his hands back and motion to Shizuo, then makes a face that the woman laughs at. “I'm hoping to shower him in my wisdom and have him actually retain at least a third of it. He's very stupid, you see.”

“I-za-yaaaaaa...” Shizuo growls menacingly.

“Well, this is something else!” Jeni laughs and then smiles warmly at Shizuo. “I don't see the great Orihara Izaya in forever, and when I do see him again, he actually brings in someone else.”

“Oh, make no mistake. I'll be getting my nails done while I'm here,” Izaya assures her. “Only if you're free, though. I don't want anyone else touching me.”

“Of course,” Jeni says flippantly. “I know how peculiar you are.”

They end up waiting a while. Izaya didn't call to make an appointment, and the salon is really very busy. Shizuo sits beside Izaya in cushy chairs, frowning as Izaya opens a fashion magazine. Izaya crosses his legs and seems completely content, and Shizuo has only sat for about five minutes before he can't stand it anymore.

“Oi.”

Izaya glances at him, closes the magazine, and offers his attention with only a hint of underlying smarmy asshole lurking beneath. It still makes Shizuo's teeth clench from reflex, and he's having to pry them apart before he slips and gives Izaya what he wants, which is clearly Shizuo's aggression.

“Why the fuck are you doing this?” Shizuo asks.

“I've never been thanked in such a roundabout fashion before, but I'm still happy to receive your praise, Shizu-chan,” Izaya says.

“I'm not thanking you. I don't see why we're even here. If you wanna do this namby-pamby shit, that's fine, but maybe just do it to yourself.”

“The fact you consider basic grooming as 'namby-pamby' is exactly what's wrong with the patriarchy. This is a lesson in hygiene and masculinity.” Izaya hums, and then smirks in that way of his. “Besides, you're too high-strung. I don't even know what an amoeba like you has to worry about, but I get tired of hearing you think. I can practically smell the fumes from your brain short-circuiting.”

“Yeah? And who do I have to blame for that, huh? Oh, let's see, the same guy who's been a pain in my ass since the second I met him?” Shizuo barks.

“Yes, but I don't even have an ulterior motive here. I'm not bothering you. If you want to leave, leave. The door is there, and honestly these ladies would probably be happy to not bleach your hair today. It takes a while, you know? But I am staying. I need some r&r.”

Shizuo chews his cheek, tastes blood, and then huffs. He watches with irritation as Izaya opens the magazine back up, and then in a last ditch effort to annoy him, Shizuo takes the magazine and throws it as far as he can across the salon.

“You know what I hate?” Shizuo asks when Izaya glares at him.

“Is it me? Please say it's me.”

“I hate the way you do things. How hard is it to say 'hey you've been stressed so I am taking you out today'? Is it that hard for you to admit when you're doing nice things for other people? It's like you coat every action in bullshit and then expect everyone to get it.”

“I don't know what you mean, as usual. You're here because you refuse to leave me alone. I'm here because I want to be. Thinking I'm doing any of this for you is incorrect, but if you want to see it that way, I can't stop you.” Izaya glances wistfully at his nails. “I really do just want to be pampered by beautiful ladies. Surely you can relate.”

Shizuo can't, actually. The woman who usually bleaches his hair could probably give Simon a run for his money as far as muscles go, and she wrenches at Shizuo's hair with a Godzilla grip so tight it's a miracle he has hair left to bleach. Sometimes Shizuo considers going back to his natural hair color, but he doesn't want to get confused for Kasuka. People only ever say he looks like Kasuka after getting close to him, but from a distance, with his golden hair, it's easier to differentiate.

“Yeah, okay, fine,” Shizuo says. “Thanks anyway.”

Izaya blinks, and then the corners of his mouth twitch upwards. “You're welcome.”

Izaya is called first, and he chats it up with Jeni, who seems so immersed in her work it's a wonder she can carry a conversation. Shizuo is collected by another pretty woman, who comes to escort him to her chair, and wants to know how Shizuo usually gets his hair done.

Shizuo doesn't have any answers other than the obvious one, and the girl's smile remains a patient one, and she's more than happy to take the reigns. Izaya wanders over a little while later, and takes a seat on the arm of Shizuo's chair.

“You look like one of those conspiracy theorists who wrap their head in foil to stop the aliens from reading their thoughts.”

“Yeah, this is taking forever,” Shizuo says.

“It's supposed to.”

“I do this all the time. Swear it's taking longer than usual.”

Izaya rolls his eyes, and then lifts his hand to take a piece of Shizuo's foiled hair between his fingers.

“It's being done right. Learn some patience, Shizu-chan.”

Shizuo considers this, and also considers his life at this point, which is definitely more bizarre than he ever could've imagined. He's in a beauty salon with Izaya Orihara, and they're behaving like old friends rather than two people who have tried to kill each other more than once.

He wants to voice these things and talk them out, but it's pointless. He can't articulate, and even if he could, Izaya is a human blender who mixes up the words and jumbles them into something else so it's insulting even when it wasn't originally. Izaya isn't ready to hear things that Shizuo wants to say. Still, Shizuo wants to say them.

“How do you know that chick anyway?” Shizuo asks, his eyes on Jeni.

“She works at the strip club Shiki frequents. She came to me for a job once.”

“What kind of job?”

“Ah, ah, Shizu-chan, what have I said about asking me about work? Don't. I'll never say anything you like.”

Shizuo wants to see Izaya's face but can't, mainly because Izaya is perched at his side and looking away, but also because Izaya rarely looks right at him anymore.

“Sorry, Orihara-san, but we have to rinse the bleach out now!” The peppy girl appears at Shizuo's other side and whisks him away to the sink, but Izaya is still perched on the chair arm when Shizuo comes back, though he's looking at his phone. He looks up at Shizuo finally and nods.

“Much better. Your roots were really bothering me.”

“Yeah, no shit. You only mentioned them all the time.”

“It had to be mentioned. Otherwise you would've kept thinking you looked fine, which you didn't.” Izaya goes with the girl and Jeni to pay the bill, which Shizuo doesn't even want to look at. Sometimes he feels bad about how little money he makes, but then he remembers it's not from lack of trying, and Izaya is the one who kept getting him fired, so then he just usually ends up angry about it.

“Your nails look the same,” Shizuo says bitingly when Izaya returns. Sometimes, most of the time, Shizuo can't help needling at Izaya, because he still thinks Izaya deserves it.

“You're lying,” Izaya says, clearly unconcerned. “If you're going to insult me, you should mean it.”

“I do mean it!”

Please, Shizu-chan. You can't lie to me, and trying is pointless.” Izaya has his phone out again. “Shinra is adamant, and I'm tired of dealing with him. Don't you have your phone? He's trying to talk to you through me, and it's insulting.”

“Oh, no, I left it. Not working today, and you're here, so I don't need it.” Shizuo wishes now he'd sat still to have his hair dried, because it's cold and windy, but he's also just so happy to be out of that salon. Fair trade, he decides.

“How pathetically simple.”

“What does he want now?” Shizuo asks.

“Our presence. He's having a New Year's gathering.”

“I hate gatherings.”

“We can agree on that. Also, I'm not a fan of anything relating to the new year, though I do love watching people get so worked up about it. There's a certain thrill in the air when people convince themselves they can change everything in their lives in one night.”

Izaya has that manic gleam, and Shizuo tries not to be bothered by it.

“It's not even Christmas yet,” Shizuo says.

“It's almost Christmas, and Shinra always gets up in arms about the holidays. He uses them as an excuse to be even more obnoxious.” Izaya tucks his phone away.

“Do you celebrate the holidays?” Shizuo asks, feeling stupid because he's sure Izaya will be a condescending prick about it. Shizuo loves the holidays. Or at least, he loves what they represent.

“Not usually. My sisters sometimes invite themselves over, but we don't have a tradition. I suppose you do?”

“Kasuka is always busy, and I find reasons not to go to Shinra's. But yeah, I like Christmas. And New Year's. It's fun to do different shit.”

“Shinra would probably shit himself if we showed up to his gathering then. I never go either.” Izaya pauses. “I haven't been invited the last couple years, actually. But that's understandable.”

Shizuo can tell from Izaya's tone that Izaya doesn't find it understandable in the least, but surely some part of Izaya does understand just how intolerable he was for a while there. Shizuo understand how intolerable he was, so consumed by hatred. He and Izaya certainly used to bring out the worst in each other.

“So, let's go together,” Shizuo says. Izaya looks up at him like his head is on fire.

“Why, Shizu-chan,” Izaya says, a grin forming on his face, “are you asking me out?”

Shizuo frowns. He shrugs. “Sure. Yeah, I am. Let's go.”

“In that case, it's a definite no,” Izaya says, going back to walking. Shizuo growls and wraps a hand in Izaya's hood, pulling him back forcefully. Izaya glares hatefully up at him, his hand in his pocket, probably holding a knife handle.

“What's wrong, flea? Scared of a crowd?” Shizuo baits. He can see Izaya not wanting to rise to it, but Izaya's eyes darken at the challenge.

“Of course not. But going with you—“

“So then we're going. Or I'll drag you there myself.”

Izaya's eyes narrow further, and then he huffs, looking away. He kicks his legs out, and it's only then that Shizuo notices he's lifted Izaya off the ground a bit. Izaya really does weigh nothing.

“You're the worst. I hate you.” Izaya straightens as his feet land safely on the ground, and then he turns his back on Shizuo again, resuming his walk. Shizuo follows, of course, noting that Izaya never said it wasn't a real date they're going on.

***

Christmas comes and goes. Neither of them acknowledge it. Shizuo meets up with Celty in the park to exchange gifts, but otherwise life remains the same. Izaya gets himself some swanky hotel room and Shizuo is given the privilege of having his own key, though Izaya maintains it's only because Shizuo would break down the door otherwise.

He's sitting on a bench with Celty, smoking a cigarette as she fawns over her alien stuffed toy Shizuo gifted her with. Finally she turns to him, her PDA already lifted.

How are things with Izaya?

Shizuo blows out some smoke. “Fine.”

Her helmet turns to the side. Define “fine”.

“We don't fight as much. But we sill fight a lot.” Shizuo shrugs. “I don't think we'll ever really not fight. But he's not so bad.”

Celty's shoulders shake with silent laughter. Wow. I never thought I'd see this day. You and Izaya. Who would've thought?

Shizuo smiles. “I used to think if I'd given him the time of day back in school, things would've been different. If maybe we'd have been friends. He was always around people though, and it pissed me off because I thought I couldn't be. And now I see he was around them, but he wasn't part of them. Izaya has no idea how to be with anyone. I think we could've helped each other there.” Shizuo takes another puff of his cigarette. “But maybe I'm overthinking it. Things probably wouldn't have changed much.”

Celty takes a moment to respond. You've grown so patient. It's wonderful to see, Shizuo. I'm glad you and Izaya have worked things out. You've even made him more tolerable. I'm happy for you.

Shizuo laughs. “He isn't more tolerable. He's the worst guy I know. Don't put those expectations on me.”

The next message on Celty's PDA has him choking on smoke.

Do you love Izaya?

He coughs, accidentally crushing his cigarette and splintering some of the wood of the bench in the process. He looks at Celty with watering eyes. “Celty—what the fuck, don't ask me that!”

It's funny that even without a head, he can see her expression perfectly. She's pouting at him, it's clear to see.

I think it's okay you love him. I was worried about you for a while. But then Shinra said you two were the only ones who could handle each other, and I thought about how right that sounds.

Shizuo grinds his teeth together. “I never said I love him!”

But you do.

Shizuo stands and brushes the ashes off his pants, hating where this conversation has gone. This isn't how any conversation should go.

“I'll see you later. Gotta get back to work.”

Her hand catches his wrist.

Are you coming over New Year's Eve? It would mean a lot to Shinra and me!

“Yeah,” he says.

Is Izaya?

He chews at his cheek. “Yes.”

She lets him go, looking entirely smug, and never has Shizuo so badly wanted to throw a bench in his life. He hurries away and tries not to think about what she said.

He fails miserably.

By the time New Year's Eve rolls around, Shizuo feels anxious in a way he never has before. He's never had to worry about things like this. No one has ever wanted to date or be around him. He has an awful reputation, which he built himself to keep people away, but somehow he still ended up in this position with Izaya, who is very vocal about not wanting to be around Shizuo either.

But Izaya is the only person who really ever stayed.

“This is so stupid,” Izaya says for probably the tenth time in an hour. “Why did you agree to this? Why did you insist I go? I already suffered one gathering with these people.”

“You were gone a long time,” Shizuo says, pulling on one of the sweaters he brought to Izaya's hotel room. Izaya's apartment will be ready in the morning actually, but Shizuo has already gotten used to this huge hotel. Still, the TV can't compare to Izaya's. Neither can the couch.

“It's not like I was missed,” Izaya says. “They only want me to come because they know you won't go without me.”

It's actually funny how mad Izaya is getting about this. He somehow seems more pissed than he was that night they tried to kill each other. Izaya is huffy and keeps throwing stuff around. His shirt is short sleeved because Izaya hasn't been able to find anything else to wear yet, and Shizuo is getting an eyeful of the mark on his arm.

“What are you looking at so smugly?” Izaya snaps, looking from Shizuo to his own soulmate mark. “You've seen it before. Stop looking at it like it means something!”

“You're so mad. Just pick a sweater. They're all overpriced and swanky, what does it matter which one you pick?”

“Appearances are everything in my line of work,” Izaya huffs.

“You aren't working. You're going to a party.” Shizuo crosses his arms and grins at Izaya, who scowls at him.

“I'm always working!” Izaya snaps. He finally picks a soft black sweater and pulls it on. The static dishevels his hair, and his expression is still sour.

“Cute,” Shizuo says without thinking. Izaya pauses and looks up at him, some of the anger replaced with surprise. Then he scowls again.

“Don't look so smug, you stupid beast,” he says, but his cheeks are tinted pink. Shizuo's stomach tightens, and then feels weightless somehow.

“Are you almost ready? It's been an hour of you throwing around your clothes.”

Izaya throws a pair of socks at his head in answer.

By the time they arrive at Shinra's it's after dark and freezing outside. It's already snowed a bit the last week, but the clouds are ominous overhead, promising a snowstorm soon. Shizuo loves the snow, but he doesn't want to get stuck at Shinra's. They'll have to keep an eye on the weather outside.

“You guys made it!” Shinra shouts, hurrying to them. He lunges at Izaya, capturing him in a nonnegotiable hug, which Izaya looks mortified over. Shinra releases him and turns to Shizuo.

“Don't even try,” Shizuo says, holding his hand in front of himself. Shinra laughs in that stupid way of his.

“Come on guys, it's an exciting holiday! Live a little.”

“You're more annoying than usual. Have you been drinking all day?” Izaya asks.

“I've had a bit! It's a holiday!” Shinra reiterates.

“On that note, I'll be going to where the alcohol is,” Izaya says, leaving Shizuo's side. Shizuo frowns after him.

“Remember last time!” he calls. Izaya waves him off.

“Well,” Shinra says, “if there's ever a time to drink too much, it's a holiday.”

“If you say the word 'holiday' one more goddamn time, I'm throwing you out the window.”

Thankfully, Celty comes over and saves him from a drunk Shinra, who goes back to his usual mode of clinging to Celty, barely caring at all when she shoves her fist at him.

Don't mind him. He's been cut off until further notice from drinking.

“Probably best for everyone here,” Shizuo says. Celty nods sagely while Shinra wails, somehow knowing what her screen said without even reading it.

There are a bunch of people in the apartment. Some people, like Kadota's gang, Shizuo recognizes. Others, he doesn't. But he's wary of everyone. Some of these people could know the guys going after Izaya, and Izaya is probably going to drink himself stupid again.

Speaking of, shit, Shizuo should find him.

Izaya is speaking to some guy in a suit, a glass of wine in one hand, his other hand moving through the air as he emphasizes his words.

“Everyone here is probably thinking of how different they'll be tomorrow. It's like an archaic process that still holds true and has meaning for a month or two, but then everyone gives up on the resolution and goes back to their basic habits. It's ridiculous to celebrate but somehow we get roped into it every year,” Izaya is saying.

“Is this your way of saying you don't have a resolution, Orihara-san?” Suit Guy asks.

“Of course not. True change comes from life experience and human trauma. But I do love hearing what other people are doing. How about you, Nikimura-san? Are you starting anything new tomorrow?”

“My wife signed us up for weekly pottery classes.”

“How nice. Do you have any interest in pottery?”

“No, but it makes her happy. And the deposit is non-refundable. So we'll be sticking with it.”

It's incredibly amusing to see Izaya partaking in such mundane conversations. It seems more likely that Shizuo should approach and find Izaya talking about blowing up the world or something. Then again, Shinra works with the same people Izaya does, and the suit guy has probably killed more than a few people. Shizuo decides to go get something to drink himself, because unlike Izaya, he does enjoy the spirit of letting go on a holiday. At least a little.

“Shizuo!” Simon barks at him. Simon is in the kitchen, standing by the food and drinks. “You come to party, too?”

“Wow, Shinra even roped you into this, huh?” Shizuo asks.

“I bring sushi. Sushi good for New Year.”

“You think sushi is good for everything.” Shizuo decides on some of the fruity looking punch he finds. It's sickeningly sweet. He's sure it's filled to the brim with alcohol, too. Who makes stuff like this?

“Shizu-chan!” Erika calls, bounding over to him. “You're drinking our punch!”

Of course.

“What's in this shit?” he asks.

“Stuff,” Erika says, grinning deviously. “It's a tipsy punch.”

“It's full of bad decisions,” Walker says, joining them.

“I'm not drinking this,” Shizuo decides.

“Good, your teeth will fall out,” Izaya says, suddenly beside Shizuo. “Why not drink something nice? Then again, your alcohol tolerance is through the roof. I don't suppose anyone brought straight vodka, did they?”

“Shut up, I can drink what I want.” Shizuo sees beer, doesn't want it. He grabs some of the same wine Izaya has. It doesn't taste good, but it'll shut Izaya up for a moment. He can nurse this all night and keep an eye on Izaya, who has a flea-sized alcohol tolerance.

Izaya smirks at him, and Shizuo is reminded again of the last time they drank together, and how Izaya wound up sick and miserable.

“Relax,” Izaya says, seemingly reading Shizuo's mind. “I won't overdo it.”

“Good. Don't.”

“So, are you guys fucking yet?” Erika asks loudly, drawing stares from everyone around them. Shizuo spits out some wine. Walker slinks quietly from the room. Izaya gives her a placid stare.

“Yes,” Izaya says. “Shizuo is a power bottom.”

What?!” Erika shouts, looking at Shizuo with glee. Shizuo glares at Izaya, who looks pleased with himself.

“What's that even mean?!” he barks.

“Erika, really, clearly he's a virgin. I don't know what you want from me,” Izaya says, motioning to Shizuo.

“I can give you some pointers...” Erika starts, and Shizuo stomps over to Izaya, picks him up with one arm, and carries him to the other side of the apartment.

Throughout the course of the night, Shinra somehow gets even drunker despite being “cut off”, and at some point he starts playing music on the stereo, some fast, techno music. He dances, and no one really joins him, but clearly no one is as drunk as he is either.

“This reminds me of high school,” Izaya says into Shizuo's ear. He has to get close to be heard over the music, and Shizuo thrills at the feeling of Izaya's breath against his skin, feels goosebumps.

“Why?” he asks.

“Shinra and I have drank together before. He came over to my place because my parents were never home and of course I knew how to get alcohol. He said Celty would never forgive him for underage drinking so he stayed the night.” There's a gleam of joy in Izaya's eyes. “He got wasted, danced, and threw up the rest of the night.”

“Sounds like you, minus the dancing,” Shizuo says. Izaya pouts at him.

“I rarely drink that much!” Izaya defends. “Clearly I overdid it last time, but here I am, on my second glass of wine, completely fine!”

“Did you dance with Shinra? Back then?” Shizuo asks, trying to picture it. He never really hung out with the two of them together. Each and every time he got near Izaya, they would start their usual shit despite Shinra's wailing.

Izaya smiles widely.

“Yes,” he says. “Does that make you jealous?”

Shizuo grumbles. “Yes.”

“Well then,” Izaya says, downing the rest of his glass in one gulp. Shizuo tries too late to take it from him. “You're about to get really jealous.”

When Izaya crosses the room to Shinra, Shizuo at first can't believe what he's seeing. But then, Izaya has always been good at pretending to not care what other people think. At the end of the day, he's always posturing, but for now maybe, with wine coursing through him, he really might not give a fuck. Shinra makes a gleeful noise and the two of them drunkenly sway together to the cheers of the crowd. Celty is shaking her head, helmet gleaming in the apartment lighting. Shizuo is jealous, but he's also glad to see Izaya having fun. He doesn't notice Kadota by him until Kadota speaks.

“Man. You've got it bad.”

“What?” Shizuo asks, turning from Izaya's laughing face to Kadota.

“When Shinra told us you were Izaya's soulmate, we all didn't really know what to make of it. But clearly it's working out. You're good for each other.” Kadota takes a swig of beer and nudges Shizuo, who feels extremely warm.

Maybe he is tipsy. He forgets how much he's had at this point, has been too focused on making sure Izaya hasn't had too much.

“Shut the fuck up, Kadota,” Shizuo grumbles, but of course Kadota isn't bothered by it at all.

“Are you having The Talk with Shizu-chan?” Erika suddenly shouts, coming over and draping herself over Kadota's back. Togusa is with her, who waves at Shizuo.

“Yeah,” Kadota says.

“I tried to, but he ran from me!”

“Probably because you made it nasty,” Togusa says.

“I don't need a talk!” Shizuo snaps. “Get away from me!”

Celty appears like an angelic vision and shoves her PDA in Kadota's face, who shrugs. She turns to Shizuo and puts a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

Don't listen to them. You can make move on Izaya in your own time!

“Is everyone here drunk but me?!” Shizuo shouts, wondering how the hell Celty even could be without a head. “Shut up about me and Izaya!”

“Are we torturing Shizu-chan?” Izaya asks, joining them as Shinra basically tackles Celty, begging her to dance. He holds his hand out and Erika hands him another glass of wine. Shizuo growls at her.

“No one's trying to,” Kadota says.

I am.” Izaya grins deviously and pulls Shizuo to him, who goes willingly, albeit confusedly. “You're going to dance with me.”

“You're drunk,” Shizuo accuses, but he still holds onto Izaya, who is swaying in his grasp.

“Guilty,” Izaya agrees. “But I'm not wasted. That's about all you can hope for.”

“It is a holiday,” Shizuo says, and Izaya smiles up at him in such an unguarded way and Shizuo can only think of how beautiful Izaya is like this, and like always, even when he's being a pain in the ass. Other people are dancing now too, though Shizuo doesn't notice anyone else really. He can't look away from Izaya, who seems to really enjoy the attention.

The party winds down later after people start filing out due to increasing snowfall outside. Celty invites them to stay the night, which they both turn down. Izaya is definitely verging on wasted by this point, and so is Shizuo for that matter, who had to drink twice as much just to match Izaya. Shinra hugs them both, weeping big tears, saying they're all going to dance at his and Celty's wedding.

Izaya arranges a cab for them and they stumble outside together, Shizuo drunkenly holding Izaya upright, though Izaya is draped over him for the most part. It's even colder than before somehow, and the snow is drizzling on them threateningly, telling them to get home soon or else. Izaya's cheeks are red from the cold, and he still just looks so happy. Shizuo's mind is a hazy fog and he finds he's forgotten half the night but he doesn't think he'll ever forget this, Izaya looking up at him through glazed eyes, windswept and gorgeous. Shizuo touches his cheek and leans down, capturing Izaya's lips in a kiss.

Izaya pulls away quickly, wide eyed and panic stricken.

“What are you doing?” he asks, though it comes out soft. “You can't do that.”

“Sorry,” Shizuo says dumbly.

“We're drunk,” Izaya says. “So it's...excusable.”

“I wanted to do it sober, too,” Shizuo says. Before Izaya can respond, their cab comes, and they get into the warm car in silence. The driver looks back at them and asks where to, and Izaya gives him the hotel address.

“Looks like you guys will barely beat this storm,” the driver says. Izaya strikes up a conversation with him but Shizuo barely listens to it, too busy thinking of Izaya's lips on his and how much he liked the feeling. And maybe it's because he's drunk and barely aware of what's going on, but when the car stops and Izaya helps drag him outside, Shizuo is confused by how they got back so fast.

“Really,” Izaya huffs, tugging at Shizuo, “you were worried about me overdoing it. You're the wasted one.”

“Sorry,” Shizuo says again.

“Whatever,” Izaya says, a sturdy anchor at his side. They reach the room and Izaya helps Shizuo reach the bed. Shizuo topples into it face-down, ready to sleep a thousand years.

“Oh,” Izaya says suddenly. Shizuo looks up at him blearily. “It's after midnight.”

“Wha...”

He finds himself cut off by Izaya's lips on his again, Izaya's weight settling beside him on the bed. Shizuo groans and lifts his hands, pulling Izaya closer, licking wetly at Izaya's lips until Izaya opens to him. It's definitely uncoordinated, but neither of them are sober. And Izaya isn't pulling away even if Shizuo is sloppy. Izaya tastes like wine and like everything Shizuo wants, and when Izaya pulls away at last, pupils fat and lips red from abuse, Shizuo decides he loves him more than anything, then and there.

“Happy New Year's, Shizu-chan.”

 

Chapter Text

Izaya wakes early, earlier than he intends to. He was up late the night before, though at first he can't recall why. His eyes stray over to Shizuo, who is snoring, muffled into his pillow, and Izaya remembers the party clearly, very suddenly. He stares up at the ceiling, mortified.

At least he isn't hungover.

All things considered, Izaya didn't drink much the night before. He ate, and he watched himself, and he kept tabs on Shizuo, who was the one overdoing it. It's easy to blame that fact on why Shizuo kissed him.

What he can't figure out is why he kissed Shizuo back.

“Fuck,” Izaya says to no one. Shizuo snores a little louder as if to taunt him, and Izaya's eye twitches in answer. His head hurts from the wine, but if that's his only consequence, he'll accept it.

He rolls over and puts his feet on the ground, intending to go shower, and Shizuo's arm is suddenly shooting out from under the covers, hauling him back into bed. Izaya huffs but doesn't bother fighting it, because it isn't as though he stands a chance against the monster anyway. Shizuo pulls him close and hums in contentment.

“Why're you up so early?” Shizuo asks, his voice low and scratchy. Izaya swallows audibly.

“I need to shower. We have a lot to do today.” He glances at Shizuo. “Are you hungover at all?”

“Nope,” Shizuo says, his eyes still closed. “Well. Wait. What's it feel like?”

“Are you asking me what a hangover feels like?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Then you aren't hungover, you idiot.”

Shizuo hums again, and then nuzzles his face into Izaya's hair. “Don't be an ass. It's early. Also, don't go shower yet. You're warm and you smell fine.”

“Fine?”

“Good, you smell good.” Shizuo inhales deeply. “Really good.”

Izaya sighs at the ceiling, wondering what time it is. Their checkout time is noon, but it isn't as though anyone will be by to enforce it. Money talks, Izaya's learned. They could stay another night if they wanted, regardless of whether the room is booked again or not.

Shizuo's fingers trail gently up Izaya's side, under his shirt. He rubs small circles and Izaya allows it, his eyes sliding shut once more as he curls into Shizuo. He'll worry about everything later.

***

When he wakes again, he finds himself on top of Shizuo, who is completely dead to the world. The light behind the blackout curtain seems a little brighter, and Izaya wonders how much time has passed. Gently, he untangles himself from Shizuo, who is too deeply asleep to fight him this time, and Izaya pads over to the window, observing the winter wonderland outside. Snow is still falling, but the busy city has barely halted in its daily life. Outside, people are still living their lives. Izaya looks over at Shizuo, a lump in his throat. This is the first time he'd rather stay indoors than go join the fun.

He moves quietly to the table he set his phone on the night before. He has a few notifications, some work related, most from Shinra. He frowns at the slew of messages.

You adn shizuo looked AWFULLY cozy

;) ;) ;)

*and

Isn't it SO GREAT to be in love i'm so glad you guys are working it out

call me when you get up!

A few hours later, another message came through.

I am never drinking again, oh my god. Cancel that phone call. Cancel everything. I can't even lift my head.

Izaya snorts and sends a laughing emoji, then the dancing woman in the red dress. He sends the woman a few times. Serves Shinra right, he decides. He sets his phone down next to Shizuo's, and then goes to get that shower.

When he returns to the main room, he finds Shizuo is awake, but hasn't moved. He's blinking at Izaya wearily. Izaya towels at his hair and bustles around the room, louder this time, because Shizuo is finally awake.

“Moving day, Shizu-chan! We can finally go back to my place. I'm so tired of this room. I never thought I could miss a bed so much, but here we are.” He looks expectantly at Shizuo, who still hasn't budged.

“I feel...bad,” Shizuo finally says. Izaya pauses and then he grins widely.

“Define 'bad'.”

“It's like...kind of dizzy? Maybe I should throw up, will that help?”

“Does your head hurt?” Izaya asks.

“A little. Not bad, though.”

“You thirsty?”

Shizuo nods, and Izaya cackles in glee, which makes Shizuo narrow his eyes.

“A hangover! You're hungover! Finally, something happens to you and not me. I feel fine.” Izaya crawls onto the bed and hovers over Shizuo. “I drank plenty of water and stopped myself from drinking. You were tossing back wine like it was nothing. Also, I'm pretty sure Erika was feeding you shots. You were wasted last night.”

Shizuo frowns. “I don't...remember? It's all kind of a blur.”

Izaya feels relief that Shizuo likely doesn't remember their kisses. They shouldn't have happened anyway. He blinks when the warm weight of Shizuo's hand settles over his on the mattress.

“You got me back here?” Shizuo asks.

“Well—what was I supposed to do? Leave you with Shinra? He would've just drunkenly experimented on you. Besides, you were clinging to me, so of course I got us back here. You're heavy, too. Never again can you say I'm small, Shizu-chan, because I practically carried you up here.”

Shizuo's eyes are soft as he gazes up at Izaya. “I kissed you.”

Izaya scoffs. “You were drunk.”

“You kissed me, too.”

“I was—“

“Not as drunk,” Shizuo interrupts.

“It doesn't mean anything. We were drinking, we kissed, it happens. Some people can just...go do all kinds of things when they're drunk. Let's just count ourselves lucky we stopped there and move on.” Izaya yanks his hand away from Shizuo. “Do you need water?”

“That'd be nice.”

Izaya gets up and goes to fetch a bottle of water from the mini fridge. He tosses it to Shizuo, who downs it in an impressive amount of time.

“I'm going to keep packing while you recover. I'm sure with your monster stamina, you'll be fine to move in no time,” Izaya says, aware Shizuo is watching him like a hawk. Izaya doesn't look back at him, too absorbed in getting out of this room. He truly misses being home, and he feels like he'll be better equipped to deal with Shizuo's scrutiny once he's in familiar territory.

Shizuo, of course, can't do as expected.

Izaya isn't surprised at all when Shizuo gets up and moves towards him, eyes hard and jaw set. Izaya doesn't flinch when Shizuo reaches for him—he knows well enough now that Shizuo has no interest in hurting him anymore. He can't say he minds one bit when Shizuo yanks him forward like he weighs nothing and holds him there.

“Izaya,” Shizuo says, glaring at him. “You can't fool me. When are you gonna stop trying to fool yourself?”

Izaya rolls his eyes. “Such deep words from a brute like you. What exactly do you want me to say?”

“The truth,” Shizuo says, scowling at him. “For once in your goddamn flea life.”

“The truth is being in this room is suffocating me,” Izaya says, completely honest. “I want to be home. I want to be with my things, and I want to go back to work, and I want—“ He tries to pull back, but of course Shizuo doesn't let him. “You're coming with me.”

“You want me to?”

“Obviously you will whether I want it or not.”

“But that's not the only reason.”

Izaya glares up at him. “Are you going to help me pack, or not?”

Shizuo laughs. “You act like I packed anything at all. You're the one with all the luggage.”

“Then help me pack my stuff, Shizu-chan. You're here for as long as I am, so it's not beneficial for you to argue with me.”

“Sorry, apparently I'm hungover.” Shizuo pauses, blinks, and then grins wolfishly. “Actually, I think it passed.”

Izaya rolls his eyes and murmurs, “Monster liver.”

Shizuo carries all of Izaya's luggage like it weighs nothing through the lobby, only grunting when a hotel employee offers to call the bellman to assist. Izaya strides behind Shizuo, waving at the employee, who sputters in disbelief at Shizuo's strength.

“My own personal luggage rack. I never thought I'd progress this far in life,” Izaya muses. “And you're giving everyone a show.”

“I'm a generous guy,” Shizuo replies. “Also, fuck you.”

Izaya grins and puts their room keys on the front desk before they trail out the front door. It's freezing. Izaya bounces on his heels, watches his breath fog in front of his face. He called a cab in the room and they said they were less than five minutes away. That was eight minutes ago.

“Where the fuck's the cab?” Shizuo asks.

“Be patient. It's snowing. Who knows what kind of horrors the roads have been today,” Izaya says. He looks at the people around them gleefully, wonders what all their stories are. He feels eyes on him, turns to see Shizuo watching him.

“You really do like watching people,” Shizuo says.

“Of course. It's a great hobby. Never boring, since people are always changing.”

“It's kind of creepy.”

I'm kind of creepy.”

Shizuo snorts. “Kind of? You're the definition of creepy.”

Izaya tilts his head back and catches some snow on his tongue. “And yet, here you are.”

“I'm immune to your creepiness. I guess I built a tolerance.”

Izaya laughs, glancing at Shizuo with shining eyes and red cheeks. “How fortunate for us both! How else would you constantly torture me?”

“Izaya,” Shizuo murmurs. “About last night...”

The cab pulls up to the curb at that moment, and Izaya winks at Shizuo before the driver bustles out, wrestling the cases from Shizuo to put in the trunk. Izaya gets into the warmth of the car, not bothering to help with his own things. His hands are cold, and when Shizuo finally joins him in the backseat, Izaya presses his freezing fingers to Shizuo's neck with a wicked grin.

Of course, Shizuo barely flinches, but the glare he shoots at Izaya is worth it anyway.

The cab ride takes a while. Izaya was right; the roads are rough, and traffic is terrible. The driver apologizes over and over as if he can control the weather, and each time Izaya assures him it's no issue, they're just glad to be inside the heat of the car.

By the time they reach Izaya's building, the snow is falling even harder. Izaya handles the fare and chats with the driver while Shizuo fights to get the luggage out of the car. When he manages to wrench the last case out of the tiny trunk, Izaya is outside the car, watching him gleefully.

“Don't bother to help or anything,” Shizuo hisses.

“You're the one with monster strength. What am I supposed to do?” Izaya asks, hands in his pockets.

“It's your damn luggage! How much did you pack, anyway? Were you planning on living there forever?”

Izaya shrugs. “One can never be too prepared. We can't all live out of one backpack.”

They trek inside, and once Izaya is unlocking his own door, he's relaxed. As much as he enjoys traveling and being out, returning home is always a breath of fresh air, the end of something as much as it is a beginning. He can plan his next move, or he can do nothing at all. No one will judge aside from maybe Shizuo, and who cares what he thinks?

Shizuo tosses the cases on the floor, making a loud banging noise. Izaya turns to glare at him.

“Could you not break my floor?” Izaya huffs.

“Sorry,” Shizuo says, looking less than sorry. “Nothing changed here. It's like nothing ever happened at all.”

“That's the point. Do you think I paid top dollar to have the new paint not match the old paint?” Izaya asks, flopping in his favorite chair and twirling around. “I told them to make it look like nothing ever happened.”

“But something happened. You—your apartment burned. You could've died.”

Izaya rolls his eyes. “Don't be dramatic. He wasn't trying to kill me. He was sending a warning.”

“Warning fucking received then,” Shizuo says.

“You should go shower. It helps wash off the last of the hangover. Plus, you smell like a wet dog.”

Shizuo is about to retort, but then he pauses, sniffs at himself, and then immediately turns to go into Izaya's bathroom. Izaya snorts and turns on his new computer, and sets to work transferring files and information from his laptop. He's busily typing away when Shizuo reemerges, wearing gray sweatpants and a t-shirt. Shizuo scowls at him.

“Already stirring up trouble again? You've been home for ten minutes.” He pads across the room and looms over Izaya's shoulder, his eyes focused on the computer screen. His hands settle on Izaya's shoulders, and Izaya's teeth clench, thinking of how close Shizuo's hands are to the soulmate mark on his arm.

Izaya's read articles about people claiming they could feel their mark, as if it has its own sensations. Supposedly it draws you nearer to your destined person, but it's all psychosomatic. It's normal skin, a regular part of the human body. But Izaya is aware of it at all times, almost like it is alerting him of its presence. And Shizuo being so close to him is distracting on its own, especially when he smells clean.

“You're dripping on me,” Izaya says, swatting him away. His hair is still wet. “Towel off more.”

“I'm dry enough,” Shizuo counters. “Why don't you take the day off from pestering people? Have a quiet night in for once.”

“You say that as if I've been doing anything but relaxing lately. We went to a party last night, Shizu-chan. I've indulged you enough.” Izaya inhales sharply when Shizuo's hands return, one of them settling over Izaya's soul mark. It's almost like it burns.

“Stop touching me, you beast!”

Shizuo gives him a crooked smile. “Nope. I'm distracting you.”

“You're getting water on my keyboard! Just—!” Izaya turns his chair around and glares up at Shizuo. “Why don't you make yourself useful and make some tea or something? Or go get lost in the snow? Literally anything else than bothering me.”

“Make your own damn tea,” Shizuo says. It's unfair and tragic, Izaya thinks, that Shizuo is attractive. It's not the first time he's thought so, but it's the first time he's thought it with Shizuo right in front of him like this.

“Fine,” Izaya scoffs, standing and going to his kitchen. He feels Shizuo's eyes on him. He's always been able to feel Shizuo watching him, no matter who else was around. No matter how many people surrounded them. He feels more than hears Shizuo approaching him from behind.

“Izaya. About last night...”

“This again? What, are you thinking I took advantage of you because you were drunk?” Izaya jibs. Shizuo's a looming presence behind him, could easily snap him in half. But Izaya never could stop pushing until something broke.

“That's not what I'm thinking.” Shizuo's arms wrap around him, halting Izaya where he is. He closes his eyes and tries to shove Shizuo off. “I want to kiss you.”

Izaya laughs, shaking his head. “You already did. It's not my fault you don't remember it.”

Shizuo hums and lowers his head, pressing his lips to the back of Izaya's neck. He pulls Izaya closer, trailing kisses along whatever expanse of skin he can reach. His touch is gentle, far more than it seems it could be, but he's firm and imposing, and Izaya knows he isn't getting away without drawing blood.

“Stop. Shizuo—stop, I'm not in the mood to play with you.” Izaya exhales a shaky breath when Shizuo latches to the side of his neck, undoubtedly leaving a mark.

“Not playing,” Shizuo murmurs into his skin. His hands settle on Izaya's hips, and then he's turning Izaya to face him. Shizuo's eyes are dark, and they settle on Izaya's lips. “I'm gonna kiss you, okay?”

“Oh, I have a choice?” Izaya asks, but he doesn't flinch when Shizuo's hand trails up and cups his cheek, nor does he pull away when Shizuo's mouth, warm and firm, settles over his own.

At first, it's nothing more than it was last night: a simple pressure. Shizuo stays there for a few moments, his brow furrowed, and Izaya wonders if Shizuo has ever kissed anyone before in his life. Then, Shizuo tilts his head, and Izaya follows his movement, and something snaps between them.

Shizuo's tongue trails along Izaya's lower lip, and Izaya opens for him immediately, not pausing to think about it or why it's a bad idea. Shizuo makes a low, growling noise, and then he's devouring Izaya's mouth messily, kissing without any skill, his hands trailing up and tangling in the back of Izaya's sweater before they slip underneath and settle on the smooth skin of Izaya's back.

Izaya gasps and surprises himself by surging up on his toes, pressing harder against Shizuo, who responds by practically eating Izaya's face. There's no precision to it. It's a battle of who can be sloppier, it seems, and somehow Izaya is competing like a champion despite his competition. Drool drips down his chin and he groans when Shizuo merely wipes it with his thumb and keeps kissing Izaya like he might die if he doesn't.

When they pull apart at last, Izaya doesn't get far before Shizuo chases his mouth and closes the distance again. Somewhere in Izaya's mind, he thinks, if this is already happening, he might as well let it keep happening, because pushing Shizuo away might lead to Izaya's murder. And the thought only makes Izaya's blood run hotter, somehow. Shizuo is dangerous, and it's always been exciting, even if Izaya knows Shizuo wouldn't hurt him purposely now.

“Fuck,” Shizuo says, pulling away and glaring down at Izaya like he's pissed.

“You kiss like a Lickitung,” Izaya says, willing himself to calm down and remain neutral.

“A what?”

“It's a Pokémon. Big tongue. Ugly.”

“Oh.”

Izaya can't help it. He laughs. He laughs loudly and unreservedly. Shizuo looks so blown apart by their kiss and it's just so—so ridiculous. How is this his life now? Ages ago, Shizuo might've gotten pissed off about the laughter, but now he merely grins stupidly at Izaya, like it's hilarious to him too even if he doesn't get the joke, and the joke is—

The joke is...

“Can I make tea now?” Izaya asks, tugging in Shizuo's hold, who lets him go willingly. But he doesn't leave Izaya's side, and his hands don't stop their roaming. When his fingers settle over Izaya's soul mark once more, Izaya doesn't pull away.

He can't pretend anymore.

Chapter Text

Many things change very suddenly after New Year's. Shizuo doesn't sleep on the couch anymore, and Izaya's cabinets are full of Shizuo's favorite snack foods. The fridge is full of milk. Shizuo doesn't mention it, because he knows if he does, he'll startle Izaya into stubborn denial, and he really doesn't want to deal with the flea when he's in a full fit of lying to himself and everyone else. It's exhausting, and he'd rather deal with this new companionable Izaya, who is still an asshole, but lets Shizuo kiss him.

Kissing Izaya kind of makes up for dealing with him, Shizuo's learned.

Izaya never initiates kisses, at least not since the drunken one from New Year's, but he's always receptive to them, even when he's busy doing something else. He'll be reading, or typing, or watching something on the TV, and Shizuo can reach for him, and Izaya will come. It's simple, all things considered, but Shizuo has never felt more powerful than when Izaya, usually sharp, jagged edges, melts into a soft mess in his arms. Shizuo always takes care not to hurt him, but he could, and while it worries Shizuo, it seems to drive Izaya wild, if the frenzied way he's been climbing Shizuo lately is anything to go by.

Izaya likes danger. Shizuo doesn't understand it, but he does love the way it riles Izaya up.

Something else that changes is that Izaya refuses to allow Shizuo to follow him into public anymore. He'll get up early and leave before Shizuo wakes, and he'll return after Shizuo gets back from work. Izaya has never been easy to get answers from, but it's almost impossible now, since he'll only smile and say he's working. Shizuo doesn't trust it, which is something that won't ever change. Izaya is a trouble magnet, and Shizuo just wants to keep him safe, but it's like stopping ice from melting in an oven most of the time.

One night, after Tom lets him leave, Shizuo decides to make a pit stop and get some answers, since Izaya is an impenetrable fortress, and he knows someone who always babbles too much for his own damn good.

“Shizuo! What a nice surprise!” Shinra says, smiling kindly and stepping aside to let Shizuo in. Celty is on the couch, and she waves excitedly.

“Hey,” Shizuo says, taking off his wet shoes. It's still snow-covered outside, but Shizuo doesn't mind trekking though it. He isn't exactly cold-natured.

“Izaya's not with you?” Shinra asks, looking smug. Shizuo flicks his forehead. “Ow, it was just a question!”

“Your face bothers me,” Shizuo huffs.

Shinra rubs his forehead and gives Shizuo a pout. “Surely you didn't come here to bully me.”

“It's a perk.” Shizuo sits beside Celty on the couch. “I actually came to ask you guys something.”

“If it's about Izaya, I'm not answering anything! Last time I talked about him, I got in all kinds of trouble. I'm fairly certain he's been sneaking in here sometimes just to rearrange my medical supplies. I can't prove it. But I just know it's him.” Shinra shivers.

I would know if Izaya broke in. Celty's PDA reads. Shinra shakes his head.

“Izaya is sneaky. Neither of us would know.”

“It's...kind of about Izaya. But not him directly,” Shizuo says.

What is it? Are you guys having troubles?

“Oh-ho! Relationship issues! Well I am an expert at those!” Shinra says with the same smugness as before. Shizuo stares up at him.

“You realize that just means you have so many issues that you have experience, right? Not something to brag about.”

Shinra sputters comically. “N-not what I meant at all, Celty, don't listen! I just meant that you and I are so perfect, that we can observe the problems in anyone else's relationship and offer advice!”

Celty ignores him. Shizuo glares at him once more before turning to Celty.

“You guys know a lot of the people Izaya works with. Does the name Junichi Watanabe ring a bell?”

Celty shrugs, but Shinra's eyes flash in that way that says he does know.

“Yeah, I've met him a few times. Why?” Shinra asks.

“Do you know where I could find him?”

“No. Does Izaya have business with him or something?”

“He's trying to kill Izaya, so I'm going to kill him.” Shizuo shrugs like it's simple.

“Shizuo,” Shinra sighs. “A lot of people want to kill Izaya. Surely you know that. He's not exactly...likable.”

“I know that better than anyone. But this guy is fucking crazy, okay, and it involves you too. This guy's the reason you got stabbed.”

Shadows erupt out of Celty's neck, and she's on her feet in an instant, hands clenched into fists.

“Celty, relax! I really don't know where he is!” Shinra turns to Shizuo. “Izaya told you this?”

“You got stabbed and then Izaya came back. Seems pretty straightforward to me,” Shizuo says.

“That stupid idiot,” Shinra says, but he's smiling fondly. Shizuo can relate.

I'll kill him too! Izaya is enacting revenge? Celty asks.

“I don't know a lot about it. Izaya keeps secrets really well, but I'm sure he's doing something elaborate and theatrical. It'd be easier just to find the guy ourselves and kick his ass, right? But Izaya can't know we're doing anything, or else he'll just do something even dumber.”

Shinra rubs his chin. “Watanabe-san...has always been a little obsessed with Izaya.”

“He has?” Shizuo asks.

“Well, more like he always wanted Izaya involved in whatever his plans were. I don't know specifics, but they've worked together many times.”

“Izaya says Junichi is some kind of extremist,” Shizuo says.

“Oh, he's crazy,” Shinra says brightly. “But then, aren't we all?”

Take this seriously! How can we help?

Shinra sighs loudly and then turns to Shizuo. “I can dig around and see if anyone knows where he is. I owe Izaya a favor for letting you know his secret, after all.”

“I'm amazed you're not pissed on your own behalf for getting stabbed,” Shizuo says.

“Oh, I'm furious,” Shinra replies, not looking the least bit angry.

We can get him without Izaya even getting involved. Don't worry Shizuo!

Shizuo grins at them. “Thanks. Izaya's a stubborn bastard. Having backup will be nice.”

By the time Shizuo is back at Izaya's, he's feeling a little better, even though he quickly realizes Izaya isn't back yet. He distracts himself by helping himself to some of the junk food Izaya bought him, and he settles in front of the TV. Not much time passes before Izaya's keys are jingling in the door. Izaya takes one step inside, observes Shizuo, and snorts in laughter.

“You look cozy. Is that a romcom?” Izaya asks, pointing to the TV, where some people are sucking face to a cheesy song.

“I guess. You're home late.”

“Had lots to do,” Izaya says cheerfully, shedding his coat and and shoes before he walks over to where Shizuo is. “Are you eating chips for dinner?”

“Did we have other plans?” Shizuo asks confusedly.

Izaya rolls his eyes. “You can do what you want. I'm making omurice.”

“Oh, cool,” Shizuo says, immediately rolling up the bag of chips.

“I have a clip for that, Shizu-chan. Please act civilized if you're going to raid my things.”

“Like you bought these for you. You never eat shit like this.”

In defiance, Izaya snatches the bag from Shizuo, opens it up, and eats a small chip. He makes a face, eyes almost watering, but he swallows.

“Delicious,” he says. Shizuo laughs and yanks him down, kissing him in proper greeting.

“You taste like sodium,” Izaya grumbles, but he doesn't fight it as Shizuo licks into his mouth. Izaya hums contentedly, settling in Shizuo's lap as their kisses deepen.

“You can actually cook?” Shizuo asks, breaking away from Izaya's lips to nose into his neck. Izaya's scent is so strong there, and Shizuo can't help but mouth at the mark he's already left the last time they were close.

“Some things,” Izaya says, tilting his head to give Shizuo better access. “I did raise two sisters, you know.”

“How domestic,” Shizuo says before he bites Izaya's neck. Izaya gasps softly, his hands clenching on Shizuo's shoulders, fingers trailing down to Shizuo's soul mark. He's been doing that lately, brushing lightly before pulling his hand away as if Shizuo won't notice. Shizuo arches a brow at him. “Do you want me to take my shirt off?”

“What? No.” Izaya frowns, and then looks back at Shizuo's arm. “Maybe.”

“I will, but you have to, too,” Shizuo says, and Izaya's frown deepens.

“Is this a ploy to get me naked?”

“Izaya, come on, it's okay to be curious about the soulmate marks. It's not like we have to talk about it.” Shizuo's hands bunch in the bottom of Izaya's sweater. “C'mon. Raise your arms.”

Izaya glares at him, and for a second, Shizuo thinks he's pressed his luck too far. But then Izaya is looking away, lifting his arms, and Shizuo knows better than to hesitate where Izaya is concerned. He gently pulls the sweater up and off, and he tosses it on the other end of the couch, knowing Izaya will bitch if it hits the floor.

Izaya is gorgeous, albeit too thin. Shizuo's eyes trail over Izaya's bare skin, and he wants nothing more than to mark Izaya everywhere he can reach. But as he thinks of marks, his eyes move to where the small, crescent shape is on Izaya's arm. Izaya rarely lets Shizuo touch it, much less look at it, but something in the soft curve of Izaya's mouth tells him Izaya is going to be indulgent tonight.

He presses his fingers over the mark, eyes taking in everything about it, every detail. It looks just like his, of course, but seeing it on his soulmate is an otherworldly experience. He used to scoff at stories where people didn't feel complete until they had their soulmate in their arms, but now he knows exactly what that means. Izaya is his. Izaya was made just to be with him.

“Shizu-chan,” Izaya says, tugging at Shizuo's shirt impatiently. Shizuo quickly removes it, tearing his eyes away from Izaya's mark to look him in the eye. Izaya is gazing at Shizuo's arm. Nothing in his expression gives away what he's thinking, but Shizuo knows him well enough to know he's just as affected as Shizuo is.

“You're looking at me like you're starving,” Izaya says playfully, pulling Shizuo from his thoughts. Izaya's eyes are dark, hooded. He's got that dangerous tilt to his smile.

“You are pretty tasty,” Shizuo says, pressing his face into Izaya's chest. He mouths over Izaya's nipple, lapping at it hungrily until Izaya emits a small, barely audible whimper. Shizuo abuses it until Izaya is trembling, then he moves to the other one, his hand settling over Izaya's soul mark.

“Shizu-chan...” Izaya murmurs, melting into Shizuo's lap. It's amazing that someone like Izaya can be this soft, but he couldn't be for anyone else. He's wearing Shizuo's mark, and his skin is covered in Shizuo's bites. Shizuo pulls away from Izaya's chest and presses his lips over Izaya's soul mark.

“Don't—don't do that,” Izaya hisses, trying to pull back. Shizuo holds him firmly, keeping him where he is.

“Why not? It's mine. You're mine.”

“Shizuo, stop it. I mean it.” Izaya glowers at him, but Izaya's face is so flushed and his lips are so red from abuse that it's hard to take him seriously.

“What's the worst thing about admitting it, anyway? What have you got to lose by letting me know you're as wound up as I am?” Shizuo asks, his hands settling on Izaya's hips. “Do you think I'll tell everyone? Trust me, no one would want to hear it besides Erika, and I stay the fuck away from her on principle.”

Izaya's lips twitch. “There's nothing to admit. Just because I'm indulging you—“

“Indulging me?!”

Yes. Indulging you. I let you get worked up a few times and—“

“Izaya.” Shizuo stares up at him, thinking of how to word what he wants to say. “We're soulmates. It doesn't matter what you say or what you think, you can't change that. You want me to go back to crashing on the couch? Fine. You wanna stop talking to me so much? Also fine. But eventually you'll end up right back here, with me, desperate for me to touch you.”

Izaya's eyes widen, then narrow. He scowls at Shizuo and tries to get up, but Shizuo doesn't let him.

“You shouldn't be so cocky, Shizu-chan. It isn't attractive.”

“Yeah? Then why the fuck are you so turned on, I-za-ya?”

Shizuo releases him then, deciding he's given Izaya enough to think about in that big brain of his. Izaya topples over onto the cushions and gives Shizuo a hateful glare before he's tugging his shirt back on and bustling about the kitchen louder than is warranted. He slams a few cabinets. Shizuo rolls his eyes at the theatrics before he stands and ambles over to where Izaya is moving in a flurry of limbs.

“Don't cook while you're mad. You'll hurt yourself,” Shizuo says.

“I'm not mad, you narrow-minded imbecile. I'm hungry and tired of arguing logic with you. Your one brain cell can't comprehend anything that isn't grunting, static, or trash TV.” Izaya takes the eggs out of the fridge.

“Give me a little credit. I have two brain cells, at least,” Shizuo says, crossing his arms. He knows Izaya is trying to make him mad, but it's not as easy as it used to be, not since Shizuo learned Izaya does it as a defense mechanism.

“Oh? And if you rubbed them together, what would you get? The dimmest spark anyone ever saw?”

Shizuo doesn't respond, just watches Izaya flit about. It's interesting, seeing him do anything so basic as cooking. It seems like something Shizuo never thought about before, Izaya having to do everyday things like cooking and cleaning. He used to wonder if Izaya really did survive off blood like a real flea, but looking back, that seems hilarious. Izaya is only human.

“Are you just going to stand there and watch me?” Izaya asks, whirling on him at last.

“I was thinking about it. I like watching you.”

“And I'm the creepy one,” Izaya mutters, turning back to his work.

“We're both creepy,” Shizuo relents, moving towards Izaya. It'd be easy to go sit down and let Izaya cool off and continue their routine, which is already more than Shizuo ever dared hope for. But now, it seems like there could be more. And Shizuo wants. God, does he want. He puts his hands on Izaya's hips, fingering at the hem of his sweater as he watches Izaya carefully crack eggs.

“Get off me,” Izaya says, but he doesn't move, nor does he sound too angry. Shizuo hums.

“Nope.”

“You can't just manhandle me every time I decide to pay attention to anything that isn't you.”

“Sure beats sending thugs after you to get your attention, don't you think?” Shizuo quips. Izaya laughs.

“Is that what you think I was doing? Vying for your attention?”

“It'd be dumb as shit for you to deny it, actually.”

“I'm not denying it,” Izaya says, tilting his head to the side, and Shizuo doesn't miss the invitation. His arms wrap snugly around Izaya from behind as he mouths over the mark he already left on Izaya's neck. He bites down, watching Izaya's hands put an egg back in the carton in favor of gripping the counter hard, knuckles going white.

“You're such an animal—“ Izaya gasps, leaning into Shizuo's hold. “You can't even wait until I finish cooking.”

“Not hungry for food,” Shizuo says before he turns Izaya around and kisses him deeply, tugging him away from the counter. Izaya doesn't usually allow this much in one night, and Shizuo takes full advantage of it, loving the way Izaya melds to him.

“Shizu-chan...” Izaya pulls back, moans softly when Shizuo roughly tugs him forward. “Shizu-chan, stop...”

“Why?” Shizuo asks. It's clear to him Izaya wants this as badly as he does. If Izaya were really just indulging Shizuo, a knife would already be at Shizuo's throat by now. He knows better than anyone that Izaya doesn't do anything he doesn't want to do.

“Because you don't actually want this,” Izaya says, his hands pushing against Shizuo's chest. “You don't want me like you think you do.”

Shizuo finally pulls back, giving Izaya a confused stare.

“The fuck does that mean?”

Izaya's hazy eyes clear, and then he looks sharp as ever, his brows furrowing as he moves out of Shizuo's hold. Shizuo can see the walls going up, hates it. But he can't force himself on Izaya, even if he knows deep down Izaya wants this as badly as he does.

“You never gave me a second thought before you learned about the marks,” Izaya says. He doesn't go back to cooking, but he's still not looking at Shizuo. “You're just doing what everyone does when they find out. Adapting. And now you feel guilty for my injuries and my...” Izaya pauses, grimacing. He doesn't say “trauma”, but he doesn't have to. It's clear in the way he holds himself, the way he still doesn't sleep through the night very often.

“Is that what you think?” Shizuo asks softly. He's careful not to sound pitying, as he knows that will set Izaya off, and Shizuo doesn't pity Izaya in the least. In a lot of ways, Izaya deserved what happened, and Izaya deserves worse yet for the shit he pulls. But Shizuo stubbornly refuses to let anything bad happen to Izaya ever again, because things are different now. Things have been different for a long time.

“I don't think, I know,” Izaya spits. He's looking at Shizuo now, eyes full of malice. “You hated me for so long, tried to kill me, thought I was some sort of parasite—and then Shinra says some idiotic things and I'm suddenly your soulmate? Nothing has changed! I'm the same person you hate! Don't you know that? How could you possibly be this stupid? This predictable?”

“Izaya,” Shizuo sighs. He isn't good with words like Izaya is. He knows he has to be now, because this is something Izaya needs to hear, maybe a step in chiseling away at the wall around him. A wall Shizuo knows he helped build, intentionally or not.

“I can't lie to you and say the marks didn't start this,” Shizuo murmurs. “They did. Izaya, of course they did. But even before that, I didn't want to kill you. The entire time you were gone, I...” Shizuo growls lowly. “No. Not the entire time. I was glad, for a while, that you were gone. But then I missed you so fucking much, even before I knew. I wanted you to come back.”

“You missed me ruining your life?” Izaya asks, incredulous.

“I missed not being bored out of my fucking mind.” Shizuo moves closer to him. “You drive me crazy. You just—Izaya, you're the absolute worst person who could be my soulmate, but I'm the worst person who could be yours. We needed to hate each other before, I think. But I don't hate you now. I haven't for a long time, and it was before you even came back. We need each other, because no one else would be able to handle us.” Shizuo reaches out, touches Izaya's cheek. “The marks made me able to realize it, but they didn't make me feel this way all at once.”

“You're an idiot,” Izaya says. “You'll regret all of this. Don't you know that?”

“So then let me make my own mistakes,” Shizuo says, knowing full well he'll never regret a thing where Izaya is concerned, aside from not letting himself have what he's wanted for so long. He brushes his lips against Izaya's, who flinches away for all of a second before returning the kiss.

Shizuo doesn't say he loves Izaya. Izaya isn't ready to hear that, and Shizuo isn't sure he's ready to say it, truthfully. But he thinks it as he runs his hands along Izaya's body, thinks it as he tastes his mouth and picks him up, carrying him to his room, their room, thinks it as they undress each other in a frenzied mess. Shizuo loves him so goddamned much, and it isn't scary to think anymore. It seems like it was always meant to happen, a paradox of unstoppable force meeting immovable object, two being that need each other to define themselves.

“You've never done this before,” Izaya hums, hovering over Shizuo, naked and beautiful. Shizuo can't stop looking at him. “Do you need some pointers?”

“I think it'll come pretty naturally to me, like most things to do with you,” Shizuo says breathlessly, fingering over Izaya's soul mark. Izaya smiles at him and leans down, kissing him again, initiating it himself for once.

“I'm going to give pointers anyway,” he says, and Shizuo laughs against his mouth.

“Know-it-all.”

Shizuo watches hungrily as Izaya prepares himself, slender fingers disappearing into his body to ready him for Shizuo's dick, which, according to Izaya, is massively inhuman. Shizuo is too nervous to prep Izaya himself, afraid to hurt him, and Izaya doesn't waste time before taking the reigns himself, rolling his eyes at Shizuo's nerves.

“Don't just sit there and stare at me,” Izaya says, nodding to the table. “Put on the condom, you idiot. If it even fits you.”

“I'm not that big,” Shizuo defends, worrying now that he might be, and he might hurt Izaya no matter how much Izaya stretches himself.

“You're not? Forgive me, Shizu-chan, here I thought my eyes worked just fine,” Izaya quips before he moans softly at his ministrations. Shizuo is suddenly on fire, ready to have Izaya despite his nerves. He reaches for the condom and struggles with it in his haste before Izaya's cool hand is over his, helping him calm down.

“Lucky for you, I like doing everything myself,” Izaya says, and Shizuo feels the last of his nerves melt away. Izaya is a know-it-all. He knows what to do. Shizuo just has to listen.

“Fuck,” Shizuo groans as Izaya slowly lowers himself onto Shizuo's dick. It's all Shizuo can do not to thrust up, but he doesn't want to hurt Izaya, never wants that. He bites his own lip, draws blood. Izaya laughs and licks at the wound playfully.

“Who even...needs a dick this big?” Izaya asks, pausing in his lowering. “This is just insane.”

“Sorry,” Shizuo says, absurdly. Izaya laughs again, shaking his head.

“You should be. Selfish monster, monster cock—never think...of your poor soulmate, having to do this...”

“You could do it to me,” Shizuo says, watching himself disappear into Izaya's body inch by inch.

“I will,” Izaya says, “when you learn to calm down. Don't need you clenching around me and snapping my dick off.”

He...has a point, Shizuo thinks.

Do people normally talk so much during sex? Shizuo wouldn't know, but with Izaya, it seems normal. He never shuts up no matter what they're doing.

When Shizuo bottoms out, and Izaya gasps out against Shizuo's mouth, moving his hips experimentally, Shizuo thinks his brain implodes on itself, unable to comprehend what exactly is happening. But then Izaya is moving, and Shizuo's thoughts come rushing back, telling him exactly what he needs to do, telling him Izaya is his, and they both know it.

Shizuo's hips snap up to meet Izaya's, and Izaya cries out in pleasured surprise, and when Shizuo sees Izaya isn't in pain, he keeps at it, fitting his hands over Izaya's hips and pulling him down to meet him.

“Shizuo...!” Izaya grips him so tightly, arms flying around his shoulders, and Shizuo has it then, their rhythm, and he shoves Izaya down onto the bed and takes over, pounding into him the way Izaya wants him to.

Shizuo comes first, growling out as he feels himself break the condom. Izaya was right, it was too small, and Izaya whimpers as he feels Shizuo come inside him, his nails digging into Shizuo's back as Shizuo reaches for Izaya's dick and pumps him until Izaya is spilling into his hand, arching up into Shizuo like a puzzle piece, slotting against him perfectly.

Shizuo flops down onto Izaya, flattening him into the bed, but Izaya doesn't complain, just holds onto him, panting softly, and Shizuo allows himself time to be content with what is, and not wonder what will be.

After what seems like hours of lying together, taking a joint shower that ends in more sex, and a brief argument about the food Shizuo made Izaya waste, they end up ordering out, eating on the couch as they watch some documentary Izaya chose. Izaya is wearing Shizuo's shirt, drowning in it, and Shizuo remains shirtless, indifferent to the cold.

It's a companionable experience Shizuo has never known before. He wraps an arm around Izaya, who curls into his side and lazily mumbles some argument against whatever they're explaining on the TV. Shizuo kisses Izaya's head, petting down his side, and he falls asleep like that, completely at ease with everything in the world.

When he wakes again to the dim light of morning, he's still on the couch, the TV black. Izaya is gone.